I find it helpful to set the mood before I write. Especially when writing in seasons opposite the one I’m living. So, here are some tips for getting in the writing mindset.
Music, Candle, & Snack/Drink.
I always choose a candle, playlist, and drink that fits the aesthetic of the wip. These not only help me get in the mood to write, they also help me visualize the scene I’m working on and incorporate sensory descriptions.
Now, some people just can’t write with music, and I get that. I actually can’t listen to anything with lyrics or I get distracted. So I keep two separate playlists, an instrumental one for writing and one with all the moving lyrics for use when doing chores or for promotion later. I’ve also found ambient nature tracks to be a great choice when focus is key. They’re also pretty to watch when your eyes need a break from the page 😉
Just as dressing up for a job interview gives you confidence and focus, having a designated outfit or accessory can give your writing a boost. I tend to prioritize comfort, a favorite geeky item, and something that ties into my wip. For example, To Slay a Curse got my hobbit t-shirt while my current project is a red hoodie (it’s a Little Red retelling).
Moodboards & Props
Ok, this isn’t one I utilize that often. Given the chance, I would spend all my time on Pinterest and none of it writing 😅 But I do find it helpful to both my writing and mental health to take breaks for those little, fun things. Making moodboards to reference or post online. Finding items my characters might have used. Researching and acting out scenes. Plus, it’s good to get out of the chair on a regular basis.
Take Some, Leave the Rest
So, there you have what works for me. But keep in mind there’s no one right way to do this job. Don’t push yourself to do something you dislike because you think you’re supposed to. Your physical and mental wellbeing is paramount! Take what works for you and leave the rest. We all get to the same place in the end.
Have some mood setting tips of your own? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below.
I’ve been hearing about NaNo for years, and was always so daunted by the idea of writing 50K in a month that I never tried. But this year, I’m finally joining in, and I’m so excited! However, in order to give this thing my best effort, I’ll be taking a short hiatus from social media. Look for me in December with all the updates!
For those of you who don’t know about NaNo. It’s officially called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and is a great community building program to assist writers in completing a book of 50,000 words in one month. I’ve been exploring the new site and there are tons of cool features! From pep talks by well known authors, to forums where you can ask questions or just geek out, to buddies who encourage each other and share work, writers of every level can find something to love. And don’t forget your personalized page for each WIP! They even have a special Young Writer’s Program. If you’re a student or teacher of writing, definitely check this out!
I’ve been doing a ton of prep work through the month of October as I want to be sure I can give this thing my best shot! Though I won’t be too worried about winning 😉 I’m just looking to have a good time and find some motivation to get started on a new project.
What’s this project, you ask? Well, if you read my Red Warnings story from Sunday, you’ve got a pretty good idea! I’m so proud of that story, I’ve decided to build off it and bring to you a Norse inspired Little Red re-imagining 🙂
Intrigued yet? Let me whet your appetite with a rough blurb!
A Shieldmaiden of the Drake Clan sworn to protect her people, Svenja finds herself inadvertently in possession of a dangerous magical cloak. She knows to use the cloak will be to unleash an ancient curse. But when her little sister is taken by the dread Warg Clan, the soul-sucking cloak’s power may be the only thing capable of saving her.
Need more? Lets top it off with a pretty aesthetic!
And that’s all I can say right now 😉 Have a lovely Thanksgiving and I’ll see you in December!
A dire warning. A cursed cloak. A wolf that steals one’s soul. What’s more fitting for Halloween? If you like Little Red and Werewolves, you’ll enjoy this! I’d give it a PG 13 rating for some darker themes and a little blood.
All my life I have been warned. Mother had a list. Don’t
play in the river, you’ll catch a cold. Don’t pet stray dogs, they carry
disease. Don’t scowl so much, your face will stick. The boys will break you. The
woods will kill you. And the wolves will steal your soul. But there is one
warning that stands out from the rest.
“Listen well, Little Rose,” Granny said on my birthday, handing
me a package. Inside was a fur cloak dyed a deep red. I brushed my hand across
the soft pelt and gasped at an odd tingling in my fingers. Granny pulled my
hand back and held my gaze. “This cloak holds a great power, one that can
protect but may just as often destroy. You will learn to use it properly in
time. Till then you must never put it on if I am not there.” This is the only
warning she has ever given, and the only promise she has ever asked of me.
I trudge, grumbling, through the whirlwind of snow. Where
has that girl gotten to? She was right beside me not five minutes ago.
Honestly, how many times must I remind her to stay within shouting distance? I
stop again to peer about me. With hair that dark, my wayward sister should be a
beacon in this pale storm. But I can’t see far through the thick, soft white. I
will have to rely on my ears.
“Lilly!” As soon as the cry leaves my throat, I know she will never hear it. The howling wind yanks fiercely at my braid and claws through my threadbare skirt. I hug the basket to me in an effort to keep both the fresh bread and myself warm. I have the cloak with me, of course. I carry it always, hoping Granny will give me another lesson. But no matter how the cold bites, I will not put it on alone. I made a promise.
I stumble on. Every moment the storm grows more frantic and I with it. How could I have lost her again? If mother were here … but no, don’t even think that far. Mother is gone and never coming back. This bundle of raven haired, bright eyed curiosity is all I’ve got left, and if I don’t find her soon…. But not to worry! Not to worry, we are well overdue at Granny’s by now. Surely, she will have sent someone to fetch us. Perhaps Lilly’s there now. That’s when I hear the scream.
Running blind, I head in the direction of the marrow-freezing
sound. “Lilly! Lilly!” Another scream, much closer now. Then silence. A few
more feet and I stumble over something in my path. Sprawled upon the snow, I
take little notice of my scattered belongings. What draws my attention instead
is the nightmarish form I fell over. My sister, bloodless pale, lies contorted
under me. A dark shadow lurks behind.
Watching her dark blood pool against the blinding snow, something
snaps within me. Warnings and promises alike dissolve in the heat of my fury
and fear. Snatching up my death-red cloak, I throw it on, staggering at the
power coursing through me. I’ve had very little training yet; instinct will
have to do. The shadow leaps forward and a viselike grip encompasses my chest. My
nails elongate just in time, sharpening as I shove back hard. A loud crack. Moans
fill the air. I’m now snarling above a cowering huntsman.
“Please,” he begs, “I didn’t realize! It’s so hard to see.” But there is no feeling left in me. I lunge.
It’s over quickly and I stand panting in the cold; even this
pelt is not enough to block the chill residing within me. I have never before felt
this emptiness from the cloak. I want to take it off, shove it away, but find
that I can’t. No matter how hard I try to stand, how viciously I tug at the red
fur, it will not be moved. And that is when I finally understand. My howl cuts
straight through the sharpest wind and echoes across the woods.
I should have heeded the warnings. I should have kept my
promise. For the Wolf has stolen my soul.
I don’t talk about it that often. Partly because I was raised not to be too open and partly because it feels a bit like showing off. But I grew up on the mission field and spent the majority of my life moving around Central Asia. One of the places I remember best is Istanbul, Turkey. I loved my time there and the culture! I often wish I could go back for a visit. So, when I was given a non-fic assignment in college, I decided to do a travel piece.
A wail pierced the night and soon became a chant. I was ripped from the thin veil of sleep I had just managed to pull over my eyes. Within seconds, the chant was taken up in all directions. With the wailing came the howling of the stray dog packs that took possession of the vacant lot next door. “Ughh! How will I ever sleep here?” Mosques weren’t exactly a new thing for me, but I had never been near ones fully equipped with very capable loudspeakers. At least three within hearing range, and none of them quite in sync.
By the time I moved, nearly five years later, I had gotten used to it. There came a point when I would sit near the window through the whole call to prayer and not realize I had heard it until it was over. Nevertheless, those first few nights were rough. Battling jet lag at the same time wasn’t much of an advantage either. It was better during the day. Not that the call was any less earsplitting or disruptive, but it was tempered with the noise of the busy city. I had to listen for it over the rumble of buses and cars as I made my way to church on Sunday mornings with my family.
Boarding the bus, I would scan my akbil to pay for the ride and try to find a seat. There often wasn’t one. I soon mastered the art of staying upright on a crowded bus that was constantly lurching forward and stopping abruptly. I distracted myself in these less than ideal situations by watching out the window. As I passed the crowds of people and cramped buildings, I realized how lucky we were to have found such a great place to live.
In Istanbul, a city housing 15 million and spanning two continents, there is not much room for any one person. However, we were blessed with a standalone apartment building containing a small, nicely tended, garden. There was a scrap yard across the street, but at least no windows looking in on us. And though the empty lot next door provided the dogs with a congregating spot (and the stench from the animals housed there at Ramadan was certainly not pleasant) we were far better off than many others.
As the bus crested one of the many hills it traversed every day, I was given a glimpse of the wonder of this city. The buildings, that up close looked dirty with dust and chipping paint, here became a vibrant mosaic: white, yellow, orange, and pink, and brown, all with red tile roofs running down to meet the glistening curve of the Bosphorus. Which I would then cross by boat.
Another scan of the akbil, a helping hand to board, and a short swaying walk past the enclosed seating of the first level, where one could buy snacks and tea, and up to the top for a clear view and delicious breeze. That is one of the things I miss most about Turkey. The boat ride, but also the food. Toast (more like an English toastie or a grilled cheese than the American breakfast food); pide and lahmacun (the conquerors of all pizza); iskender, döner, and köfte (savory meat dishes); kebaps; and for special occasions, baklava and sütlaç! But I digress.
Once docked, the ripe smell of the fish market met my nose. From there it was just a short walk to the metro and then onto Istiklal Caddesi (or Independence Avenue). “Now, I heard there was supposed to be another demonstration today,” my mother would say, “so we have to be careful.” Right, because Istiklal wouldn’t be Istiklal without some form of protest. But the protests were generally peaceful, not much more than a small group holding signs and some riot police standing by just in case. More importantly, they generally took place at the opposite end of the street from us. Although, Istiklal has won itself international fame for the demonstrations that became rather violent a couple years back.
Despite this, I always liked Istiklal. A long, cobbled street, displaying some gorgeous architecture. With quaint red and white trams running through its middle, it is home to some superb restaurants and splendid shops. Most tourists like to visit the grand Hagia Sophia and the fragrant Spice Bazzar. I thoroughly enjoyed my bit of this typical experience; however, I found a shop I much preferred to visit. I only went in a few times and was never able to buy anything, but it was more astounding to me than any amount of refurbished paintings or tasteful cooking supplies. Somewhere in the press of buildings on Istiklal Caddesi is a small second-hand shop most wouldn’t see unless they knew it was there. Inside is a treasure house. A labyrinth of cultural artifacts, lightly coated with dust under dim lighting, and exuding a musty sent. Faded fezzes, rusting swords, tapestries woven in rugs, furs, pipes, and elaborate dresses fit for a sultana. Many of the objects came from the sets of old films, or so I was told.
Emerging from the magical closet, my path led back to the teeming dock, over the rippling river, onto the bus stocked with a myriad of people, and into the apartment with a yard and empty lot. There to have dinner and listen to the symphony on the loudspeakers once again. And so I adapted to much more than a call from a mosque. I imbibed the sights, smells, tastes, and feelings of this vibrant culture and found my home, my place among 15 million.