29 October 2013

Too Busy? Never...

Longtime readers may have wondered -- Is she still writing a novel in NaNoWriMo?

Heck yes! Well, planning on it anyway. For the first time in my writing life I actually had a playlist before I had the plot. (Despite the fact that I eat, sleep, and breathe music, usually the plot idea does actually come first. Barely.) This summer Daniel Amos released a 'Bonus Bonus Disc' to accompany the already double-disc ¡Alarma! re-release (because apparently the first bonus disc didn't have enough space, such is the sheer epic genius of this band), and it includes a lot of instrumental mixes (plus a heartbreaking vocal mix of As Long As I Live). Listening to all these instrumental mixes, I thought You know, this would make great writing music.

Great. So I had music, but I still didn't have a plot.

Then, while reading up on the history of ballet in Russia (I'm not this boring in real life, honest), I came upon a brief account of Nijinsky, how he had been the star of some bigshot Russian ballet company and then was dismissed while on tour in America because he (gasp!) got married. The director of the company pretty much made his life a living hell after that, and Nijinsky suffered a mental collapse before he even turned thirty.

The concept intrigued me, but I kept reading, on through the account of what happened to that company and all the others in Russia at the time. Then I set the book aside for a break, but my mind kept chewing on that idea -- of the director of a ballet company deliberately driving his former star to insanity out of sheer bitterness.

Within an hour and a half, I had a solid plot sketched out. Two days later I named the characters.

This will be interesting, as it's shaping up to be quite a dark book. I mean, I've written a book containing hallucinations and a rather violent murder (Reuben); a book that opens with a drug-overdose death and continues with the subject of drugs and drug addicts throughout the book -- to say nothing of the fact that one of the characters is, quite literally, in Hell (Chasm); and a book where a heinous plague is threatening to wipe out an entire world (Rebecca's World). Aside from the aforementioned murder, I've written at least three other death scenes in my novels over the years. But this one looks like it will not only contain murder and a stalker and one man actively trying to drive another insane, the story goes that the ex-star and his nine-year-old son live out of dingy motels, mostly working in sleazy bars just for food. It's all here, people -- drugs, murder, crime, cheap women, booze... the whole bit. Kill or be killed.

Then the kid discovers that his mother's death years before was actually murder. Not long after that, he's kidnapped and while in captivity he develops a fierce determination to avenge his mother's death -- even if it means taking out the director of a world-renowned dance company.

26 October 2013

Let's Have a Listening Party!

Have you been dying to hear the new Daniel Amos album? (You know, the one I've been fangirling over for months...) Are you the type who's too cheap to buy an album until you know you'll love it? (Don't be ashamed -- I'm a founding member of that club.)

Well, here's your chance to see for yourself if the new DA album really is as amazing as I keep telling you it is. Hold on to your wallet. (Actually, don't. The guys could probably use the cash.)

The Cephas Hour will be broadcasting the new Daniel Amos album, Dig Here Said The Angel, in its entirety tomorrow, 27 October. The special runs at 11am Eastern Standard Time (8am Pacific) and again at 11pm EST (8pm PST). I would also assume it'll be released in podcast form (on iTunes) later this week as are the regular episodes of the Cephas Hour.

Tune in here.

Lyrics to the album can be found here (click the song titles).

25 October 2013

Your Obscure Music Digest

Well, since there's a lull in DA and White Heart stuff, I am now featuring stuff from The Choir. Observe.

From the list linked above, I've only heard four songs -- Beautiful Scandalous Night (and that was only in part), Between Bare Trees, Midnight Sun, and That Melancholy Ghost. They're all lovely; however, those of you who know me as a rocker will be surprised -- these tracks (at least those four) are slow and the instrumentation is sparse. If it wasn't for the writing, I probably wouldn't listen to them at all.

The link is included on the page linked above, but if you're too lazy to read through it, here's the link directly to their Kickstarter campaign to make a new studio album and a live album. They've already met their funding goal, but you have until the end of the month to join in.

Metalheads, take note: Bloodgood and Stryper have both got new albums going out in a few weeks (November first and fifth, respectively). Word on the street (that is, Facebook and random album reviews) says the Stryper one is worthy of the Stryper banner... haven't heard too much about the Bloodgood one yet.

Watch the official video for Stryper's No Hell To Pay here. Watch the official video for Bloodgood's Lamb Of God here.

Also, after announcing a Kickstarter campaign that was supposed to launch last week, PFR is unexpectedly calling it quits. For good? Who knows -- this is PFR. They've quit and reappeared at least twice. But it's safe to say they're out of commission for a few more years at least. They have asked for prayer for the guys -- no more information has been given.

Lecrae's dropping a mixtape, Church Clothes 2, on 7 November. The last one was released on Datpiff, so I assume CC2 will be the same. (For those of you keeping score, that's three new albums in the first week of NaNoWriMo. Can you say 'jackpot?')

Also, this. This is awesome on so many levels. I love the DA/Choir/TST/etc. fanbase so, so much, and this is a great example of why. Name me another fanbase that will even think of something like this, never mind actually give it a shot.

21 October 2013

Time Bubbles

Moving to another province and entering a public schooling system for the first time in my life was... surreal. It felt like I was in a bubble -- that my life in Alberta was 'paused' and I had picked up a life in Saskatchewan that existed in linear time, but not on the same track my time in Alberta had been. (Believe it or not, this is the best way to explain it.)

They were so separate, so easily. In fact, so much so that when my mother and my sister came to pick me up on Thursday (to take me back to Alberta for reading week), it was very jarring to see them in that context. I'm used to my dorm mates walking around the halls and in our room, not my mother and sister. My brain was flashing 'incongruency detected' at me throughout dinner and then as we left the college campus. In fact, it didn't really start feeling normal until we stopped for fuel at Rosetown.

Saskatchewan and Alberta are so different. Saskatchewan has no trees. Even the towns are tiny and they're few and far between. I feel like the town I'm going to college in is one of the larger ones (maybe it's just because you see more people there though), and even their population doesn't reach a thousand. Once you cross the border into Alberta, the difference is almost instant. There's almost this sigh of relief -- civilization! In Saskatchewan, Subway is pretty much the only chain-anything you will see (outside of farm equipment dealers). I spent two months in Saskatchewan and I have yet to see a Wendy's. In Alberta there's one in nearly every town.

But enough about the social/geographical differences.

Coming back home after a two-month absence was kind of odd -- we parked in front of the garage, like we always do, and I grabbed some of my stuff, walked inside and dropped it all on the same spot at the table as I've always done. And as I did so, there was this sense that no time had passed. It was as if the 'Play' button had been pressed, and things were picking up where they had left off. It was like my entire time in Saskatchewan, all those classes and tests I've taken and the people I've met... it was like it had all been a dream, and this was my reality, here, now. And it was odd because I expected these once-normal things to be more foreign to me.

On one hand it was a relief... I was terrified that I would come back to Alberta and nothing would be the same, and I'm glad that wasn't the case -- nothing drastic has changed. But on the other hand it's a little frightening. Two months have gone by (almost). Two months. And it feels like nothing. This calls up the question: how much time has to pass before it feels like something? How much time can be wasted before we start to feel it? The answer scares me... two months between leaving the house and returning to it was as if maybe a couple of hours had passed. What if it's several years before you feel like time has really passed? Or several decades? You could spend decades wasting your life and not feeling it. You could conceivably spend decades inside a certain bubble of time and not realise it until it pops too late.

Seriously, it feels like I never left. Four days after leaving Saskatchewan I'm having a hard time remembering my dorm mates and all the classes as something that really happened, not just a dream I had. It feels so normal and 'right' here. I get the sense that leaving Alberta to finish the semester will be much, much harder than the first time I left...

13 October 2013

What I Miss

You know what I miss the most about being at home?

All the driving.

No, I'm serious. It's always mystified me how much people whine about driving -- be it commuting to work/school, going on vacations, or doing errands. People hate driving. I've never understood this, but it's become even more weird to me now that I haven't driven anything in nearly two months.

See, my mother decreed that the rattletrap was not coming to Saskatchewan with me. It eats coolant and the vital systems of the thing are slowly failing. She didn't want me to wind up stranded on the side of the Trans-Canada highway in the middle of December with nobody within a nine-hour drive able to come rescue me (this was before we got here and found out several people in my hall did bring vehicles and probably do care for me enough to come rescue me from the side of the road).

I miss a lot of little things about driving. I miss watching the sunsets as I cruise down the highway. I miss seeing the streetlights stretching out before me on the way to tap class. I miss slowing down to forty and studying the buildings in the small town near my home out of the corner of my eye. I miss feeling the steering wheel under my hands and the solid click of the turn signal.

I miss the peace that came with driving... of not having to do anything else, just drive. And think. And maybe sing. You don't have to pause what you're doing to change over the laundry, or write something down, or check your email, or any other combination of ten things at once. You have one task and one task only. Just drive. I miss that assurance of knowing that if you keep going, you will get there all in good time.

But I think if I'm honest, most of all, I miss the music.

I miss JAG on the way to Bible study. I miss Daniel Amos on the way back from my friends' house. I miss Prodigal on the way back from ballet (Electric Eye) and the other Bible study (Just Like Real Life). I miss White Heart on the way to tap class and dance team. I miss Crumbächer on the way to get groceries. I miss listening to Michael W. Smith's Christmas whenever the heater's running and the snow is dancing in the high-beams.

Basically, I think I mostly just miss music. And streetlights. And dusk. And home.

04 October 2013

Music Day - Elle G.

This has been running through my head for a week. As the green leaves turn orange and yellow and swirl around below my window and the grey clouds of the approaching winter hang over town, this song weaves its way around the inside of my head, adding a melancholy melody to the chilled wind whipping my hair around my face.

I miss my family and friends so much. I miss the forays to the mall and to antique shops, having time just to have fun and to slow things down. I miss the laughs of my sisters and the faces of my brothers (and vice versa). I miss going to church and knowing everybody there. I miss driving twenty minutes to anywhere during twilight, alone, singing. I miss the hugs from my three closest friends at church, every week. I miss doing choreography, without the shadowed pressure of 'you know you have a paper to write...' I miss telling my mother everything there is to know about my favourite bands, even though she doesn't seem to really care. I miss working with my dad in the blasting sun on the hottest day of the year, shingling the largest roof in Canada. I miss being able to quote Daniel Amos songs and not having to explain what I'm quoting and why I think it's so dad-blamed funny. I miss saying 'White Heart' and people knowing who I'm talking about. I miss hearing Petra playing from other rooms in the house rather than just mine. I miss having an unobstructed view of the sunset every night. I miss people understanding my peculiar brand of sarcasm.

This song touches the same feeling (though deeper and darker than mine). It is perhaps the most beautiful song the Newsboys ever recorded.

Title: Elle G.
Artist: Newsboys
Album: Going Public
Year: 1994
Label: Star Song
iTunes here; YouTube here. (For interest's sake, listen to co-songwriter Steve Taylor's live take on it here.)

I am comforted slightly by the fact that I still see the dancing. As I listen to this song, I still see choreography in my mind, the way it's always been. I guess I shouldn't be surprised... I've been doing this in my head since I was seven. But somehow I thought that I might lose the capability since I haven't had the chance to choreograph anything since the beginning of August.

I've sort of been singing this song to myself here from myself in Alberta -- you can't imagine the guilt I feel in leaving. Most of my siblings are still so young. I feel terrible for leaving them. Sure, I'll be back for Christmas and for the summer, but what is that? What is that when we will be apart for Thanksgiving and the crucial atmospheric weeks leading up to Christmas and depending when Easter falls (I haven't checked), that too?

Silence all
Nobody breathe
How in the world could you just leave?

I feel like I left everything for this, and the stupid thing is I don't even know why. God called me here, so there must be a purpose, but so far I don't see anything that was worth leaving my family for. Not for two years. The people here are wonderful and funny, but though several of them remind me of my family, they will never replace them.

Thumbs out on a desert road I am told
Leads to nowhere...

Maybe this world is a barren place for a soul
Prone to get lost
But heaven still hounds from the smallest sounds to the cries
Of the storm-tossed...