Music To Inspire Your Dreams – Monday Music with Michelle Lim

Photo by Bjarne Henning Kvaale

Photo by Bjarne Henning Kvaale

Whether you went to writer’s conference and came back with big ambitions, or you are getting ready for a fall of new beginnings, we all need a dash of inspiration to start our week.

Reaching for a dream that isn’t as simple as a few days in the making can be difficult, but it is something that we should strive for. We will fail. We will succeed. We will fall short sometimes. But more than anything, we will have no regrets.

Your dreams may feel impossible, but chasing your dream is worth every minute of the struggle. You are not alone on the journey.

If you are a Mom, you show your children how to dream by dreaming yourself. The next time you feel guilty, pull up one of these songs and dance with your children around the living room. Ask them about their dreams. Tell them about yours.

When I started sharing my dreams with my children, they began to dream bigger, too. They celebrate the milestones with me as I do with them. We challenge each other into action to reach our goals.

What goals do you have for yourself this coming year? Recruit some friends or family to be on your dream team. Encourage each other and celebrate milestones.

Music To Inspire Your Dreams can help you along the way. Find a theme song for each month and play it every Monday morning to remind yourself that you can do it.

Here is some Music To Inspire Your Dreams:

 

What music inspires you to dream?

Court and Spark: Music Monday

by Jill Kemerer

The end of August arrives hot and humid. There’s a heavy feeling in the air in northern Ohio. The trees are at their thickest with huge green leaves ready to turn red, brown, orange at the snap of a finger. And I’m ready to put the light, happy summer tunes away and listen to something more complex. Something that fits the anticipation of a change of seasons.

One of my favorite songs for this is “Court and Spark.” The original was written, composed and performed by Joni Mitchell, but I love  Herbie Hancock’s version featuring Norah Jones the best. It’s just beautiful. Her voice. The instruments. Oh…I adore it!

This YouTube video has a short interview with Norah and then plays the full song. I hope you enjoy it!

What are you listening to right now? Do your musical tastes change with the seasons?

Have a terrific day!

3 Brainstorming Idea Sparks to Start Your Writing Day

Photo by esra su

Photo by esra su

Have you met someone who talks in monotone?

I’ve met a few. We’ve all been subjected to speakers who made us yawn from the moment they started speaking.

Imagine the last time you sat with your family or extended family around the table. Think of the different words and tones they used to communicate.

From the hippie, to the teenager, to the toddler, to the politician, they all have a unique choice of words and tone. The politician may strive to be politically correct and not offend anyone. The teenager’s words may ooze sarcasm.

Who are voices in your scenes?

Do you have enough different tones and unique word choices? These differences create an auditory pallet for your novel’s dialogue. The more diverse your auditory pallet, the more unique each character will feel to readers.

In creating dialogue today, think about how you can add richness to your story through voice. Use these 3 Brainstorming Idea Sparks to Start Your Writing Day.

3 Brainstorming Idea Sparks to Start Your Writing Day:

Tell your writing pal or a friend one of the most unique individuals you remember for their tone and word choices. Review what you wrote yesterday in the final scene. Then answer the following questions about your cast of characters.

  1. What are the different auditory palettes of my characters? You should have at least a few different varieties, if not, go back and add them in.
  2. What can I do to enrich these or add secondary characters to make a scene’s auditory diversity more obvious? Put characters with different dialogue styles in the same scenes together. This will create greater interest in your scenes. That is why we often see a side-kick character very different than the hero or heroine.
  3. How can I more clearly define my hero/heroine’s word choices and tones? Make your hero/heroine the only one who sounds like they do in your novel.

If you are looking for more Idea Sparking Tips like these, you can find them in my book- Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month.

One of my favorite author’s for dialogue is Mildred Taylor. Another favorite is Susan May Warren who once used the phrase, “How do you like your yellars?” (Eggs) Her newest release is: Where There’s SmokeBoth of these authors have very rich dialogue in their novels.

 

What are some of your favorite dialogue characters?

You Matter – Faith Thoughts with Author Michelle Lim

Photo by Yosep Sugiarto

Photo by Yosep Sugiarto

Lately our country feels like a tinderbox. Racial and economic disputes are causing riots, fear, and hate speech. Somehow it has become acceptable to say things that would have labeled many as racist not very long ago.

My heart aches as many of yours.

My sweetheart and children are partially Chinese, since my husband grew up in Singapore. In the last six months I have seen more racially provoked discrimination than I had in many years previous combined.

Those who have been wronged by discrimination on both sides of the issues are hurting. They are screaming out,

“DO I MATTER?” 

Not necessarily in so many words, but in their heart. I would say to them,

“YES!”

To law enforcement officers, to those rioting in the streets, to those who have been wronged,

“You Matter!”

I’d like to say to the leaders of today, “How can we as a Christian people accept hate?” It doesn’t matter who is bashing whom, that question is the same.

God has created us all equal before Him. We are all His creation.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” 

Galatians 3:28 (ESV)

If it feels as if you have been wronged, I am sorry for your pain.

YOU MATTER!

If you feel that no one understands, I am sorry for your struggle.

YOU MATTER!

If you fear for your life as you try to protect others who don’t appreciate your service, I am grateful for your service.

YOU MATTER!

Photo by Craig Hauger

Photo by Craig Hauger

There should be no Christian stamp of approval on hateful actions on either side of this issue. There were prayer meetings held to pray for peace that had to be disbanded because a shouting match ensued between those with opposing viewpoints.

How can we as Christians not even be able to pray with someone who sees things differently than we do?

A similar problem existed in Bible days between the Jews and Gentiles. Here is what Jesus had to say:

Matthew 5:43 – 48 (NIV)

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This isn’t a political viewpoint. It’s a Christian viewpoint. So what will we do with it?

How can we show everyone on both sides of this issue that THEY MATTER?

Romance is in the Air Along With Murder

owls in loveToday is Thursday and so it’s about ROMANCE. But first, here is the answer to last week’s Stupid Criminal story.(because I forgot to post it last Wednesday.) First of all, let’s recap:

Mr. Garcia had just been processed at the police station for drinking beer inside a grocery store. He had no ride home. If you were Mr. Garcia, how would you get home? Would you:

  1. Call your brother, who is wanted by the police and gets arrested when he picks you up?
  2. Steal an ambulance right outside the police station?
  3. Call your parole officer, who reports your conviction to the prison and you get sent back to jail?
  4. Call your mother, who comes to the Police Station and promptly starts whacking you over the head and she gets arrested for disorderly conduct?

It is…drumroll…#2. Here’s the rest of the story:

Mr. Garcia had just been processed at the police station for drinking beer inside a grocery store. He had no ride home and promptly decided to steal an ambulance. Where did he do that? Right outside the police station. The police met him at his home and arrested him again before he got into his house.

Now for Thursday’s Romance Post.

I’m starting a new book, a cozy where romance won’t be the big thing it is in my romantic suspense books. And since I’m hoping it will be a series, the romance will have to be slow in developing. I already have two suspects love interests. One is an assistant chef who has to endure CJ’s — Callie Jane — clumsy attempts in the kitchen. He can’t complain because CJ’s uncle is the top chef. The other is a US Coast Guard Intelligence Officer. He is investigating the murder–and CJ is his main suspect. Of course, she has to prove she’s not the murderer, so that give lots of room for conflict.

At this point, I’m not sure who will end up being the main love interest. Any thoughts on the subject? If so, please share in the comments block. I can use all the help I can get!

 

3 Brainstorming Tips To Jump Start A Novel Scene – Survival Tips For Writer’s Block

 

Photo by Kyryl Lakishyk

Photo by Kyryl Lakishyk

Writer’s block can drain creativity and stump even the most prolific writers. The longer you write, the more likely you are to face this dilemma.

Brainstorming with writers to help them strengthen and deepen their novels has become a passion of mine. To help writers with these dilemmas, I’ve written 2 Brainstorming Books: Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel and Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month.

Maybe you are struggling with the blank page and just need a boost to get you through. If you are staring at a blank page with no words in your mind, you may find these 3 Brainstorming Tips To Jump Start A Novel Scene helpful.

These Survival Tips For Writer’s Block are some that I have learned from others on my journey, or developed from my own experiences. Even if you are at a stuck spot in your novel, you can brainstorm your way into your next scene.

3 Brainstorming Tips To Jump Start A Novel Scene:

Photo by Bobbi Dombrowski

Photo by B. Dombrowski

*Brainstorm from a place of strength. Most of us have a favorite part of the novels we read, whether it be plot, characters, or setting. Start brainstorming the thread you love first. If it is characters, then think about how your character is feeling, what they see, what they are doing, etc. If your love is setting, then brainstorm where the scene takes place first.

By brainstorming from a place of strength you can eliminate that pesky writer’s block that often leaves us staring at a blank page.

*Brainstorm using the emotion of the character in the scene. Susan May Warren taught me this amazing tip through My Book Therapy.

Name the emotion a character is experiencing and build the scene from this place. Ask yourself what setting would be best to showcase this emotion. Think of what metaphor in that setting could mirror the emotion of the character. Add sensory details that personify that emotion and dialogue that supports it.

One of my favorite examples of this kind of scene is in the Movie Twister:

Notice in this scene how the barn is full of those farm implements that adds to the feeling of danger.

*Brainstorm using a simple sentence of what happens in the scene. This can be as basic as the character and a verb of what they will do. From there, determine what will stand in their way of accomplishing it. Then identify who will see this happen, where it will occur, and the sensory details.

An author friend of mine, Lisa Jordan, created a fabulous note card style guide for this to use each time. It has helped me multiple times in developing scenes.

What do you do when you have writer’s block?

Monday Music – Finishing the Race

freeimage.com, photo by Eran Becker

freeimage.com, photo by Eran Becker

If, like me, you’ve spent a fair bit of the last two weeks parked in front of your television watching the summer Olympics, you’ve probably heard a fair bit of music. Between NBC’s opening notes, the commercials, and songs played throughout, music is all throughout the Rio Olympics.

And it’s pretty common to see athletes with their headphones on before a big race. Everyone from swimmers to runners uses music to pump themselves up to compete. I read an article in Spin Magazine recently about the songs that the US Olympic athletes use for inspiration before competing. The musicians listed were as varied as the athletes themselves. From Beyonce to Eminem to Maroon 5, the music is upbeat and meant to be played loud.

And it got me thinking about the music that we listen to to get pumped up about writing. Maybe in that moment when writing feels hardest, when it feels like maybe we won’t ever be offered the contract we’ve been praying for or sign with the agent we’ve been dreaming of, music can inspire us to keep going and get us pumped to keep writing and finish the race.

So I thought I’d share some of my go-to pump-up songs with you all.

This one by Jon McLaughlin is one of my favorites–especially because I heard him sing it in concert once, and he told the story about how it was originally written out of frustration with his record label. And most writers have been there–frustrated with the system, tired of waiting, wondering if anything is ever going to happen.

And what about when you simply need a reminder to stop looking inside and start looking up? Third Day’s Lift Up Your Face is a favorite.

And for those days when you just feel like giving up. On the days when throwing in the towel sounds like the very best option. When you feel certain that you were never meant to be a writer, I offer “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten.

Fight on, my friends! Keep writing! Finish your race!

When getting those last chapters written feels like the very longest hundred-meter dash, what do you listen to? What songs get you going and inspire you to keep at it?