(Almost) Average August Recap

It’s finally August 31st and I can back down from posting a bit. If you’ve been following along this month, you might’ve noticed I went on a post frenzy, sharing a new post every day.

I decided in late July to give it a try and I’m proud to say I’ve made it to the end. I think instead of my normal once a week posting schedule I adhered to prior to August, I might up that to three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

calendar-159098_960_720During this past month, I’ve had the most visits, views, likes, and comments since I’ve started this blog several years ago. I was blown away by the response I’ve had and hope to continue offering interesting posts going forward.

So in case you missed it, here’s a rundown of the last 30 days.


New Release: Twilight Madhouse Vol.1: My post about a new horror anthology featuring 10 stories, including my short piece “Achievement Unlocked.”

“Gate” Crashing: My rant on using the suffix -gate for scandals.

Writing Ideas: My tips and tricks when trying to get the creative juices flowing.

Reality Bites Book Awards: I was nominated in four different categories.

Rough Writing: I reminisce about a difficult lesson learned.

Morning Routine of a Non Best-Selling Author: It’s exactly as it sounds.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews: I discuss the latest reviews for my book The Selection.

Review Circles for Authors: I’ve started a Facebook group for authors to give and receive reviews.

Tools of the Trade: A nice discussion about the hardware and software I use to write.

Forgetting to Remember: My terrible problem with remembering names.

Dirty Dish Philosophy: Lessons learned from washing dishes.

5 Posts for Indie Authors: 5 blog posts I thought were informative to the indie authors of the world.

Flash Fiction – “Zombie Says”: I offered a free story for you the reader!

Author Spotlight – Greg Alldredge: An interview with scifi author Greg Alldredge.

Review – “Fire Eyes Awakened”: My review of R.J. Batla’s new book.

“Self To Younger Self, Come in”: Words of wisdom I’d share with my younger self.

Review – “Twilight Madhouse Vol.1”: My review of the horror anthology with my story “Achievement Unlocked” in it.

10 Things Learned Since I Started Writing: As the title implies, 10 lessons learned since I started this journey.

Reality Bites Book Awards – Final Round: I made it to the final round in the category of “Sci-Fi Author.”

Giving Back: I strongly believe I need to give back to other writers in any way I can.

Eclipse Comic Con Recap: I attended an awesome event and met new friends.

Upcoming Events: A list of all the places you can find me in the next few months.

Just Finish Already!: Get that story out of your head and on the screen.

Indie Comic Creator – Todd Black: A super talented creator of indie comics I met at the Eclipse Comic Con.

Musical Inspiration: How music inspires my writing.

Sacrifice for Greatness: What are you willing to sacrifice in order to be great?

Choose Wisely: Important decisions can lead to lasting consequences.

Author Spotlight – Pamela Morris: My interview of Pamela Morris, an excellent horror author you should know.

“The Selection” – Chapter 1 Preview: I offer the entire first chapter of my novel The Selection.

Youthful Dreaming: When I was younger, I really, really wanted to be Spider Man.


 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my month of madness. When you have time, please check out the posts from this past month and please consider clicking “like,” commenting, or sharing whatever interests you.

Thanks for your support!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Musical Inspiration

Sometimes when I write, I’ll use music to set the scene within my head. I’ll allow the music to enhance the mood and my words flow from it.

Several years ago I started this part of my writing process when I “won” my first NaNoWriMo. My novel was about a guy who goes into a place called “the void” where he turns from a normal, nothing special person, into a master of fighting. He’s the only one who can make things happen in the void so he’s welcomed with open arms.

The thing about it was, he was an alcoholic. He’d drink certain types of alcohol and find himself in different situations in the void. For example, when he drank moonshine, he’d end up as one of twelve hillbilly brothers. When he drank tequila, he found himself coming to the new world with Cortez. When he drank vodka, he was on a Russian expedition. He’s not aware of how he gets to those places till later on in the story, but the novel follows his trials and adventure in these various locales.

I used music heavily when I wrote the scenes of him in the void. When I wrote the hillbilly scenes, I created a playlist based off of the soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and it was perfect. The bluegrass and old country music set the tone in my mind which helped me feel the scenes so much more.

When I had him on the Russian expedition, I listened to a ton of Tchaikovsky, one of my favorite classical composers. Those sweeping Russian nationalistic pieces made those scenes feel alive in my mind.

The following year as I attempted (and won!) NaNoWriMo again, I wrote a horror novel. The story was about child sacrifice in a small town. It was a dark story where demons forced the sacrifices and had to be defeated. For those writing sessions, I listened to heavy doses of Slayer. Their dark music helped me set the tone in my work.

Lately I’ve not used that method to assist my writing, though on occasion I will turn on the music to help inspire my words. I find it helps to block outside distractions and create the right mood in my mind for the story I’m working on.

If you’ve read any of my “Author Spotlight” interviews this year, you’ll notice I ask that question of all my guests. I think because it’s been such a vital tool for me I wanted to see if it worked for others.

What about you? Do you use music to help with your writing or does is distract from your efforts? I’m genuinely curious to see if this is something others do or if I’m some kind of anomaly.

How Will I Laugh Tomorrow: My Albums

Music has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. My parents were always listening to classic rock and when I got old enough I found my own music. I’ve gone through musical phases but for the most part I’ve been true to my roots.

Inspired by a post making its rounds on Facebook, these are the ten albums that I could play over and over again. If I had no other music but these, I’d be a happy man. These ten albums shaped me and made me who I am. If you want to understand me, these albums will go a long way to that end. They are staples in my library. So…here we go!

AmongAnthraxAmong the Living (1987)  This album is a classic. It’s heavy, fast, and exemplifies thrash metal. I came across Anthrax just after this album’s release and have been a fan ever since. Of the “big 4” thrash bands, they’ve always been my favorite. I could relate to the band’s attitude of being who they were, no frills and no pretensions. I was introduced to Judge Dredd because of this album and further became a fan of Stephen King (the title track is based on “The Stand”)  Runner up album: Persistence of Time.

 

Metallica_-_Master_of_Puppets_coverMetallicaMaster of Puppets (1986)  Metallica is the god-father of thrash metal. They are by far the most famous and well known of the “big 4” thrash bands. This album starts with a mellow acoustic that soon slams in your face with heavy distortion. Every track on this album is exceptional. James Hetfield’s vocals are dead on and the heavy sound is accentuated by the deep subject matter of drug addiction or losing one’s mind. Out just before “Among the Living” these two albums go hand in hand and formed the foundation for all that came after in my musical tastes. Runner up album: …And Justice For All.

 

Megadeth-RustInPeaceMegadethRust in Peace (1990)  Megadeth was founded by former Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine. The band is considered one of the “big 4” thrash bands (Slayer is the fourth). Their music tends to be heavy with plenty of intricate guitar playing. The opening track “Holy Wars” is mind-blowing and the subject matter still resonates today. Early on I wasn’t the biggest Megadeth fan but over the years I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the band and this is by far my favorite album of theirs.  Runner up album: Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?

 

Suicidal_Tendencies-How_Will_I_Laugh_TomorrowSuicidal TendenciesHow Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I can’t Even Smile Today (1988)  Despite their name, I always felt Suicidal was more about building up their fans and giving them something positive to look forward to. This album reminds me of playing Super Mario Bros. with my friends and my early skateboarding days. I was (and am) a big fan of these guys. Mike Muir always seemed to pour everything in his music, good or bad. He was honest and I appreciated that. As an angry teenager, the title track spoke to me like nothing else. Runner up album: Lights, Camera, Revolution.

 

Dimension_HatrossVoivodDimension Hatross (1988) Voivod is a Canadian band that is heavily influenced by science fiction. Their albums were concept albums that told complex stories often involving space travel and exploration. This album is heavy with vocals only Snake (their singer) could do. The song “Tribal Convictions” has this heavy drum beat I’ve always loved. These guys headlined the first concert I ever went to (with opening acts Faith No More and Soundgarden. Think about that for a minute!) They aren’t as widely known as they should be. Runner up album: Nothingface.

 

RHCP-BSSMRed Hot Chili PeppersBlood Sugar Sex Magic (1991)  Wow. By far one of my favorite albums of all time. This has it all: heavy funk laced songs intertwined with soulful ballads. All coming from a place of vulnerability. The sound of this album is amazing. The band’s energy pours through every song. When I moved from Cleveland to Southern Illinois this album carried me through. “Under the Bridge” the commercial success of the album spoke a lot to me, not that I was a recovering addict but because of the love Anthony had for his city. I felt the same way about the city I was forced to leave. I can put this album on, hit repeat, and never turn it off. Runner up album: Mothers Milk.

 

Stormtroopers_Of_Death_-_Speak_English_or_DieStormtroopers of DeathSpeak English or Die (1985)  A side project of Scott Ian and Charlie Benante of Anthrax with bassist Dan Lilker of Nuclear Assault and singer Billy Milano, this album influenced many thrash bands. Created almost as a joke, they played as hard and heavy as possible. Written and recorded within a week, the short songs on this album insulted everyone. I always understood the joke behind it though many still don’t. I loved how heavy the songs were and how raw they sounded. If you ever watched Headbanger’s Ball on MTV, you’ve heard tracks off this album as it was the intro music to the show. Runner up album: None. It was one and done for them.

 

PearlJamTenPearl JamTen (1991)  When this album first came out, it didn’t register on my radar. All you have to do is look at the albums above this to see where my musical tastes were. However when I went to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the “Blood Sugar Sex Magic” tour, there was this band I’d barely heard of called Pearl Jam that opened for them (along with the Smashing Pumpkins). I was impressed by their sound and later picked up this album. It has never left my rotation since. Eddie Vedder’s voice is amazing. My all-time favorite song “Alive” is on this album. Along with “Blood Sugar Sex Magic” this followed me from Cleveland to Southern Illinois and I spent many days and evenings in my room listening to this. Any time I hear “Alive” on the radio, I turn it up loud and sing along. And I cannot sing. Runner up album: VS.

 

Beastieboys_checkyourheadBeastie BoysCheck Your Head (1992)  Skateboarding brought so much to my life and I will never forget it. We used to watch skate videos to get pumped up before going out on our stunt-wood and trying new tricks. I’d known about the Beastie Boys but lost interest with their second album. One of the songs, “Pass the Mic” was featured in a skate video and the sound with the skating was so powerful it instantly became a classic. When I finally listened to the entire album and heard the punk roots of the group come through their rap, it was like a new era of music opened up. Heavy metal and punk were not supposed to be associated with rap, but they did it (to be fair, Anthrax did so earlier with “I’m the Man” and even Aerosmith with Run DMC). Runner up album: Ill Communication

 

Foos-ESPGFoo FightersEchoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace (2007)  From the moment I heard “The Pretender” I couldn’t put this album down. There isn’t one bad song on the entire record. I listened to this over and over again. I’d heard most of their hits before this came out and enjoyed the songs but never really gave them much credit. I always thought of them as “that band with the dude from Nirvana.” I was wrong. Dave Grohl is an amazingly talented musician and although Nirvana is often viewed as the “more important” band, I honestly think the Foo Fighters deserve more attention. This album spoke to me like none of their previous ones and to this day when “Home” comes on I think about my family and wanting to be home. Runner up album: The Colour and the Shape.

 

This list is not intended as a “best ever” list of music, but the ten most influential albums to me personally. I’d love to hear your thoughts. How many are on your list? Who’s created art that’s moved you? Add yours to the comments below.