So I hate it when I want to write a blog post but I have no idea what to write about. There's only so much I can say about my own writing before it gets boring, and unlike a lot of writers, I'm not interested in blogging about writing. But thinking of interesting stuff is hard. Then it occurred to me, I like music, so maybe sometimes I should blog about music. And I hate cooking but we gotta eat anyway, so maybe sometimes I should blog about stuff I like to make that's easy, especially on a busy day (like a long day of writing). And some other stuff. So I came up with a list of themes for blogging, Music Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Throwback Thursday (not original with me, of course), Friday Five (which I already do sporadically), Sneak Peek/Snippet Saturday. All alliterative, because alliteration makes everything easier. And author spotlights on Wednesday, but I couldn't think of a way to make that alliterative. So this is just a loose framework, don't look for a post on each of those topics every week, and I reserve the right to post on a different topic on any day when I feel like it. But when I want to write a blog post and have no idea what to write about, this gives me some ideas.
Anyhoo, for the inaugural Music Monday, here's a look at my most recent album purchase (yes, I buy my music by the album, instead of streaming or only buying individual songs. I guess I'm just old-fashioned that way. Though I mainly buy MP3s), Legacy, the brand new album (their 4th, I believe) from Tunisian progressive/symphonic metal band Myrath.
Myrath combines the metal rock, symphonic arrangements, and big, dramatic melodies and lyrics of symphonic metal with the rhythms and melodic hooks of North Africa and the Middle East for a sound that rocks hard and is musically gorgeous and unique at the same time. Along with the usual instruments you'd find in a metal band, they also use traditional instruments. The lead singer's vocal stylings might sound a little unusual and take some getting used to, because again they draw heavily from North African and Middle Eastern musical traditions. The songs on Legacy (really a self-titled album, since "Myrath" means "Legacy") integrate these traditions more heavily than on the previous albums that I've heard (Desert Call and Tales of the Sands), but it's still very listenable. The songwriting and musicianship show a band that is gaining depth and maturity with each album. The lyrics are positive, on subjects like the desert, adventures, facing life's challenges, and a good portion of love songs. With my own love of the desert and of writing fantasy set in the desert, Myrath's songs are a great fit for my books, and of course I always love a good love song. I've used a couple of their songs on playlists for my books, "Silent Cries" (from Desert Call) on the Urdaisunia playlist, and "Silent Cries" (again) and "Madness" (also from Desert Call) on the playlist for The Lost Book of Anggird.
Me being something of a musicology nerd (I got my Master's degree in music history, though I never got into ethnomusicology), I love coming across music that's unique and powerful and draws on long, deep tradition. I see symphonic metal as being one of the latest evolutions of classical music, and the addition of North African/Middle Eastern music traditions to the mix makes Myrath one of the most fascinating bands I've come across. I recommend you give them a try, especially if you like symphonic/progressive metal. Even if you don't, sometimes it's good to take a chance and try something new, anyway :-D
To give you a taste of Myrath's sound, here's the video for "Believer" from Legacy:
Just to prove I've been hard at work, here's a sneak peek from For the Wildings (spoilers redacted):
Lainie woke up on a cold stone floor in a dark room. Moonlight streamed in through a single small window high up on the wall; more dim light shone from somewhere behind her. Memories came to her mind, the battle with Lord Astentias, and then a violent blast that had sent her flying –
She sat up, groaning at the aches and pains that flared into life all over her body, and looked around the room. The window wasn’t barred, but it was too high and too narrow for anyone to be able to climb through. Three of the walls of the small cell were solid, made of hard-baked mud brick; the fourth had a door of iron bars set into it. On the other side of the door, a barrel-chested man with the copper badge of a deputy pinned to his vest sat at a desk, feet propped up on the desktop, snoring softly. A half-empty whiskey bottle stood on the floor by his chair. Lainie and Silas’s gunbelts were piled on the desk. Lainie pushed her face against the bars to get a better look to either side of her cell; she was on the left end of a row of four cells. “Silas?” she whispered loudly.
His hand appeared from between the bars of the cell at the other end. “Over here, darlin’,” he answered, likewise keeping his voice low. “You okay over there?”
“I’m fine. I’m kind of sore.” In truth, she felt like she had fallen off her horse. Everything felt bumped and bruised and scraped, but at least nothing seemed to be broken. “How are we going to get out of here?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll have us out of here right quick. Let’s be ready to restrain the good deputy there if he wakes up.”
“I don’t think he’ll wake up; it looks like he’s got a good dose of whiskey in him.” At that moment, the man at the desk let out a loud, gasping snore. Lainie froze; the deputy mumbled to himself, then fell quiet again.
Lainie let out a long breath; still, she kept a wary eye on the deputy, a thread of power at the ready to bind him if he woke up. A soft chunking sound came from the other end of the room, then the barred door of Silas’s cell swung open. Noiselessly, he walked over to Lainie’s cell and set the forefinger of his left hand against the lock. The ring on his finger pulsed with faint light, blue streaked with amber. With a murmured word and a slight gesture of his finger, the tumblers in the lock turned and the lock came open.
“That was too easy,” Lainie whispered as she stepped out of the cell.
Silas nodded. “There was a charm on the locks that probably alerted someone when I opened them. We better hurry.”
They went quietly to the desk and buckled on their gunbelts, then left the jailhouse, managing to not wake the deputy. Outside, they stood in the shadows of the covered walkway, pressed back against the wall of the building, looking to see if the way was clear. “How come you never showed me how to do that unlocking spell?” Lainie asked quietly.
“I wouldn’t want to corrupt your morals, Miss Lainie,” Silas said with a wink.
“It’s far too late to be worrying about that, Mr. Vendine.” Lainie looked around at the dark, deserted street. The night was cold and quiet; the moonlight shone on the snow frosting the roofs of the unburned buildings and piled along the edges of the street. “I wonder where that boy got to.”
“I didn’t see him in the jail,” Silas said.
Lainie’s heart froze. “I hope they didn’t hang him after they locked us up.”
“Mister?” a voice said from nearby. “Ma’am?”
Lainie just about jumped out of her skin. She and Silas spun towards the voice, hands instinctively going to their guns. A skinny figure stood at the opening of the narrow gap between the sheriff’s office and the neighboring building – Jimmo, the boy who’d nearly been hanged. Lainie willed her heart to stop pounding like a herd on the stampede. “Thank the gods, they didn’t hang you,” she whispered.
Introducing Colleen S. Myers, author of the paranormal/sci-fi/romance Solum series:
Colleen S. Myers was raised outside of Pittsburgh, PA where she grew up on Harlequin teen romances and stories from her mother's days as a paramedic. After graduating from Allegheny College, she spent a year in service in the Americorp working at a local Pittsburgh Women Infants and Children Clinic before attending Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine on a military scholarship. Upon completing medical school, Myers attended residency at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and earned three meritorious service awards. After serving seven years of active duty, including being on base in Washington, DC during 9/11, she is now a physician at a VA Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Still an avid fan of romances into adulthood, Myers' love of the genre inspired her to hone her craft as a writer, focusing on contemporary romance and science fiction. Her background in medicine and the military provides an inspiring layer of creative realism to her stories and characters. Myers' first book, Must Remember, the first of the Solum series, is published by Champagne Press. The sequel, Can't Forget, is the recipient of the 2015 RWA New England Readers Award.
Must Remember (Solum #1)
Nineteen-year-old Elizabeth 'Beta' Camden is a survivor. When the E'mani-those pale alien freaks-destroy Earth with a plague of madness and scoop up the remains, Beta is one of the 'lucky' ones. For years, she endures their tortures, experiments and games. Then one day, she manages to escape their ship with her life, and no memory of her time with them. Stranded on their world, Beta wanders the mountains, looking for a way home. She stumbles onto the Fost-the E'mani's ancient enemy. Their war with the Imani is old and rooted in magic that the Fost once had and the Imani crave. Magic Beta soon discovers she's developing along with strange tattoos and disturbing glimpses of her past. The Fost take her in and train her in their ways. As she spends more time with them, she falls in love with their culture and with Marin-he of the hot hands and slit eyes. But the E'mani took her for a reason and they want her back-dead or alive. If Beta doesn't remember that reason soon, they're all going to die.
The lack of blog posts means I've been working hard lately. Here's an update:
In January, I wrote 27,123 words and so far this month I've written 10,303 for a total of 37,426, which has me on track to write over 290,000 words this year. My goal for the year is 250,000, so I'm way ahead of where I need to be for that. I committed to writing 1000 words of new fiction a day, and with the exception of a day off here and there to think of more stuff to write, I've been sticking to that.
Among those words are a bunch of short stories, which I'll be taking the best of and putting into collections for release. Subscribers to my email alerts will have the opportunity to get them for free, so if you haven't signed up yet, make sure you do!
I also wrote a couple of Silas and Lainie short stories, a warm and fuzzy holiday piece set between books 3 and 4, and one that comes after the end of book 6. That one will be a freebie for people who finish book 6; I just need to figure out how to set that up.
Speaking of book 6, I'm nearly done with this editing pass on For the Wildings. After this will be a few clean-up passes and the proofreading. I'm thinking it will be out late in March (it's a long book, a good bit longer than the others in the series, so it just takes longer to edit). To make sure you don't miss out on the release and the limited-time special price, sign up for my email alerts.
I guess I'm pushing the email signups. That's the best way to make sure you find out when I have a new book out (and to get in on the new release price that I run for only a few days) and also to find out about other special deals and promotions. And don't worry, I won't spam you or share your info.
Also, I just released a box set of Urdaisunia, Chosen of Azara, and Sarya's Song. The regular price is $8.99, which is the equivalent of a dollar off each book, or 25% off the total regular price. So if you haven't read these, you can get the set of three for a discount off the regular price of buying the books separately. Or you can wait for price drops and promotions, which will happen but I don't know when or how often. It's available at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | OmniLit | DriveThruFiction (bundle of separate books)
And just this week, I started the draft of the first book in the follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings! Don't get too excited yet, it's going to be a while before this is ready to come out, but it is happening. I'm still not solid on the outline of the whole series, but yesterday I was asking myself, "What are the absolute worst things that can happen in this series?" and had a brilliant idea :D I love it when a new project suddenly starts to take shape like that.
So, lots of editing, on For the Wildings and the short stories from my 1000 word a day commitment, and some fun new writing.
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