Category Archives: Writing Tools

Tunes to Inspire

“Time stands still
beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything
Take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath,
Every hour has come to this…”

Red Dragon by Aggiorna
Red Dragon by Aggiorna

~Christina Perri: A Thousand Years~

Dipping into my writer’s toolbox, I dug out one of my favorite topics to share with you today.  Music.

Many writers and authors write to tunes of all sorts of genres.  I find that the music sets the scene, just as it does in the movies. I mean picture watching some of your favorite flicks without the scores. It doesn’t work. Music evokes emotion and that’s what we as writers aim for.

“The Dragon’s Kiss”, the novel I’m currently working on, has about 35 songs attached to it at the moment. Each of which is for a different mood I need to capture in a scene. I thought I would share a few to maybe inspire you today.  These songs aren’t necessarily there because of the lyrics themselves, but the beat, the passion of the song.

“Shatter Me” by Lindsey Stirling. I use this song for two different scenes. One during a transformative moment of my protagonist and the other is a chase scene down the streets of NYC. I also use “My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up)” by Fall Out Boy when I write chase scenes. It has that kind of throbbing beat that works well. (As a side note, it’s one of my favorite “running tunes.”)

“Rain” by Jon Heintz. Such a lovely song. Originally this appeared in the TV show, “The Deadliest Catch” (which I love.) But it’s a haunting song, dark and deep. It’s perfect for a character who has lost much and is in mourning. Bill Wither’s “Aint No Sunshine” has that same feeling for me. I alternate between the two because the loss is different.

“Kecharitomene” by Loreena McKennitt is brilliant for the fantasy world I have created. It has an etherial quality to it. I alternate between that and “Flying for the First Time” by Elenowen.

Some other songs on the playlist include the Kelly Sweet remake of Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” “Walk” by the Foo Fighters, “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri and “Disappear” by Hoobastank.

Obviously there are more than I’ve listed, but maybe some of these will inspire you to look outside what you normally listen to and expand your writing.

Advice: Score your book while writing it. I think it adds a little something special to what you’ve done. Now go and create something amazing.

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The Dragon’s Kiss

In case some of you were wondering what I’m working on. It’s a fantasy novel tenatively entitled “The Dragon’s Kiss.”

I have had the idea for this work running through my head since I was 16 years old. Names, places and the plot have changed over such a vast period of time; however, the constant has been the nagging to get the story “out.”  Over these long years, I have learned to hate the question, “What’s it about?”  As this book will be part of a planned trilogy and there are several plots and setups, here’s what I can say with concrete certainty.

In a time of war live the daughters of the Dragon Lord, Ruler of Strakath. Oathbound to protect her land and Soulbound to the dragon she rides, the youngest must make a choice – to save her sisters and those they love or the heir of their sworn enemy, the king of Osenfal, in an attempt to gain peace for all.

This piece of “art” is a hybrid of sorts. Combining contemporary fantasy with high fantasy is my challenge and it’s taking a while to actually make sure all of the plot points aren’t left to die in some great writer’s wilderness somewhere.

I’ve pretty much decided Word is the program I do my best work in; however, Scrivener can be rather helpful as well.  My problem with Scrivener is that it is overly cumbersome and I haven’t found a program that I like to help with the outlining, character charts and whatnot. I used to use index cards which were not at all helpful to me.  I also keep a notebook where I jot down the who is who and what is what. I found that may actually be more helpful than software because I can take it with me wherever I go and note things as they come to mind.

Now as it’s NaNoWriMo, I must leave you be and carry on with the real task at hand.  If you are interested in reading excerpts, let me know and I’ll share with you The Dragon’s Kiss.

Tools of the Trade

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”
― Stephen King

Stephen King is a prolific writer and gifted storyteller. I have to admit I’m partial to his earlier works. I find when talking about the tools of the trade, Stephen’s quote is essential.

The Thesaurus. Most writers will use one at some point in time in their writing life. I freely admit I will use one as the moon turns blue, but it’s not to search for the “right word.” I use it to break up word echoes within my writing. In writing fantasy, I have a sword – a blade. But within a page how many times do I want to write those two words? I may throw in weapon. I may change it to the type of sword (katana, broadsword, foil, rapier, scimitar…) or I may use the word “brand.

The thesaurus is sometimes used by writers who are not avid readers. I’ve found if you are an avid reader, you absorb the words you read and bolster your vocabulary.

The Dictionary. There is never a reason to use the wrong word. When I am reading a story and find someone has misued a word it dulls the experience and makes me call into question their experience and ability.

This goes beyond the “they’re”-“their”-“there” issue (which should never be an issue with someone who is looking to be a professional.) I am talking about someone who misuses words such as “irregardless.” It’s NOT a word people. You may mean irrespective or regardless. But irregardless is irresponsible. Use a dictionary. Look it up.

Books on Writing. There are good ones. There are bad ones. And I’m not going to give you recommendations (though I have read MANY) because what my needs from one of these types of books are may not be what your needs are.

These are books I do recommend for several reasons:
1) Subject Matter. If you have problems with plot, dialogue, characterization or world-building, there are books to address each of these issues. Advice in these areas aren’t gospel, but helpful if you are trying to figure out how to solve the problem you have.
2) Naming. Books regarding names are essential. Names have meanings and that subtle impact of the “right” name – including surnames makes all the difference in the world.
3) Story Starters. Don’t go nutso with these. However, one or two of these books are most excellent for breaking writer’s block, clearing the mind and finding new ideas.

There are some other considerations for writers – tools that can be helpful.

Every writer needs tools in his/her tool box.
Every writer needs tools in his/her tool box.

A small blank notebook. You never know when ideas / inspiration will strike. It’s helpful to be able to jot it down on a moment’s notice. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You just don’t want to have to look for receipts in a purse or use napkins or dollar bills to scribble your ideas on.

A voice recorder works equally as well for many people. Some smart phones these days have this feature. But if you don’t have either available, call yourself and leave a voice message. Don’t lose a good idea because you can’t write it down.

Writing Implement. For all that is good and pure and holy in the universe. I LOVE pens. I’m rather a pen kleptomaniac and have had to learn not to just snag someone’s writing utensil. With that said, a good pen or pencil is vital to any writer. It also corresponds nicely with the aforementioned notebook.

Computer / Software. I prefer to write on a computer using a standard word processing program. I also utilize a writing program for my novel needs. It rather depends on what I’m doing at that moment. There are many different types of software designed for writers and I have several I have used in the past. I’m currently trying out Scrivener. I’m not sure yet if I like it or not. We’ll see.

The publishing world has stepped into the digital age and truly, even if it’s an older computer. I believe that some sort of computer with a word processing program is a tool that cannot be overlooked.

I know much of this sounds like common sense, but sometimes we, the writers, lose our common sense when crafting our work and also forget to eat… which reminds me. I forgot breakfast again.

Hypochondria, Handkerchiefs and Other Novel Adventures

“Being sick feels like you’re wearing someone else’s glasses.” 
~Megan Boyle~



I have been down and out with the flu, influenza, or what I would not-so-lovingly call the plague.  After a week of anti-biotics, Tamiflu and a host of over the counter meds to help with the symptoms, I am still running a low-grade fever, coughing  and so congested it’s not only hard to breathe, but open my jaw.  In fact, I contemplated the entire concept of lock-jaw today.  I can honestly say I didn’t know much about it and found the following: 

In unvaccinated individuals, tetanus is contracted through a cut or deep wound which becomes contaminated with the organism. Tetanus has also been associated with clean wounds, surgical procedures, insect bites, dental infections, and intravenous drug use. It is not transmitted from person to person.  A common first sign of tetanus is muscular stiffness in the jaw (lockjaw), followed by stiffness of the neck, difficulty in swallowing, rigidity of abdominal muscles, spasms, sweating and fever.  The incubation period is usually eight days but may range from three days to three weeks. Shorter incubation periods are associated with more heavily contaminated wounds.  

Reassuring in the fact I can’t think of a “recent” wound that would allow this and I’m good on the rest – no surgeries, bites, dental work and DEFINITELY no drugs. 

With this “plague,” I have felt a bit like Typhoid Mary at work.   Yes.  I am going to work despite the fact I am still sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching and can’t breathe.   I missed almost two weeks between being out of town training and last week when this evil organism took over my body.  I don’t know of anyone at work that has this (yet), but the kids and hubby are getting a little ticked at me.  Something about “not feeling good” and sniffling, sneezing, coughing… I’m sure you get the picture. 

In fact, youngest came in earlier tonight to ask about Kleenex.  She needed some.  I don’t have any — perse. I have what’s left of three boxes of Puffs Plus, the greatest tissue for severely congested people ever made.  (Lotion is such a blessing and helps with the chafing.) 

Strangely enough, most people call tissues “Kleenex” and with good cause.  It’s the name brand that first became associated with the disposable tissues in the 1920’s.  By the 30’s Kleenex was being marketed with the slogan “Don’t Carry a Cold in Your Pocket.” Its use as a disposable handkerchief replacement became predominant.

I’m not a fan of the handkerchief.  In fact, I have an almost “Sheldon Cooper Aversion” to them.  There’s something about its reusability that rather disgusts me.  I don’t care if they are “green” or “coming back into style.”  I have a hard time with the concept of, despite being washed and theoretically clean, carrying around a piece of cloth that has been used to absorb some of the grossest bodily fluids to emit from a human is somehow wrong. 

There is also the legitimate problem of absorbency.  

I have personally gone through TWO large boxes of Puffs and an entire “mega” roll of Charmin Extra Soft bath tissue during this illness. There are not enough handkerchiefs to keep my nose dry in this city.  

And sanitation… 

The amount of laundry it would entail is insane and frankly, where does one store a used ‘kerchief? I don’t wanna carry my own snot around in my purse.  Quite the conundrum, eh?
So typically, I avoid the problem completely by carrying around a wad of tissue and a plastic zip-lock bag in case I can’t get to a trash can to dispose of the bacteria-laden paper product. 

During this viral attack on my persona, I have also found out a few things about being sick. 

1) The higher the fever, the less I give a crap about anything or anyone.  Pretty much my family could be starving or walking around naked and my only thought is, “so?” Sad, I think, when I get too far into myself to care for others.

2) Breathing is not to be taken for granted and apparently I do.  I woke up in the middle of the night the other night and I couldn’t breathe.  I’m not sure what happened, but I was gasping for air like a fish plucked from the water and dropped into the boat.  It passed, but I realized at that moment oxygen is a beautiful thing. 

3) I’ve always got to be doing something and NOT doing anything other than laying in bed is torture. 

With that said, it’s a conundrum wrapped in paradox. 
There is no energy to do anything so I torture myself by thinking of all the things I need to be doing and then really not caring about it so much as I try to take a few deep breaths.   
Lather, rinse and repeat. 

Finally, I should be working on the novel.  I don’t have the energy so I am blogging. It’s easier on the mind, clouded by good drugs.  I haven’t written diddly-squat in  a couple of weeks, the plot line is still messed up and I am cranky about it.  I’m not sure how yet to fix it and that too is bothering me.  



Scrivener looks promising, but at this point, I’m not sure if it’s helping or hurting the process.  I actually have used it for a few things, but I’m thinking at this point breaking out index cards and a notebook might be better. I don’t know.  For me this feels like one of those things that’s supposed to make writing easier and because of all the bells and whistles makes it harder.  I don’t know if others have this issue.  I should go on the forums and ask, but again… rule 1 comes into play.  I haven’t really cared THAT much to do so.  

I am hoping to get the ball rolling again by this weekend.  I want to feel productive, aside from doing laundry, and get the words back down on the page.  Maybe, just maybe, this fever will FINALLY break and I’ll get back to caring about something. 

For now though, my only concern is sleep and sleeping a few hours without having to blow my nose 437 times.  Maybe tonight is the night.