The Curious Evolution of Jennifer K. Oliver
A stroll through the mindfields
16th-Mar-2017 10:07 pm - Michael Maas' Epic Compositions
jenniferkoliver: (Bleach | Ulquiorra)
For a few months I've been lightly but unashamedly stalking the music of German composer Michael Maas. I'm a huge fan of epic score-type sounds and a lot of his compositions could easily be from movies, ads, or nature documentaries - they are so slick and beautiful.

Here are a few links to his music, though there is a lot more available on YouTube and you can grab copies of his work on iTunes. Some of you amazing creatives might find his music inspirational like I do.

Kaeri. This is soft and slow, with a slight melancholy edge to it which I love. Great to write to! Just listen to the violin and cello.

Bittersweet. Possibly my favourite of his pieces (so far). I just find this so incredibly chilling, gorgeous, and atmospheric. ♥

Skylight (Thunder & Rain Edition). Epic and pretty.

Monster Divinity (Position Music). This is a bit different, more gritty. Sounds like it could be from a first-person horror or sci-fi game.

Morpheus and the Dream feat. Felicia Farerre. The beginning of this one is gorgeous, lovely build.

I really hope this composer continues to do higher profile work and gets more recognition.
jenniferkoliver: (Death Note | L)
Just made my first check-in for [community profile] getyourwordsout. January was a strange month, not nearly as writerly as I planned. This is mostly because of a pretty horrible health scare (not me, but someone very close to me) which was a big distraction, among other life things that tried to keep me from the laptop. I did manage to get to the local cafe where I enjoy writing a few days last month, however, so my word count isn't zero, but I'm glad I signed up for the 75k challenge this year rather than the 150k! February will be more productive. :)

My favourite Korean boyband has been making new musics and pretty videos and I have to share a couple of them here, as I am digging the beats and feeling the love all over again:

♫ "Monster," by EXO.

♫ "Lucky One," by EXO.

Funnily enough, ex-member of EXO Luhan is starring in up-coming blockbuster movie Great Wall. I don't know much about his role but it's good to see he's still active.
jenniferkoliver: (Stock | Typewriter)
Really excited to announce I've sold a short story to Kaleidotrope magazine, to be published in 2015. Next year sounds a long way off, but we're almost in June already, which is crazy! The story is called Shuffle and is a post-apocalyptic dark fantasy. I will update again when it's live. For now, here is an excerpt:

I think my name might be Sarauugh. At least that's how it sounds when I pull it up through frayed vocal cords. But I've also been Joe, followed briefly by Amelia. I was an echo of Dumaka, and for a few moments I was Frederick. And once, I was Mei for an entire morning.

I also posted a new article to [ profile] getyourwordsout about character naming. The community is locked to non-members, but I put the article up on the Storyslingers blog as well, available here: Choosing Character Names - Fun, or a Total Nightmare?.

Guitaring goes well! Me and my friend Becky Bye have been getting together regularly to jam, and we're currently working our way through blues scales, as well as putting together chords to make our own little tunes. My fingers are delightfully callused and switching chords has become way easier now I'm back in the groove. I don't know if I mentioned before, but I picked up an Ibanez Talman TCM50 semi-acoustic not long ago. It is a glorious thing. Beautiful, crisp sound, and a small body so it's easy for me to play.

Related, I recently saw this video of Jimmy Page playing an electric guitar using a violin bow. Very cool. The first few minutes are haunting.

So yes, things are happening! I have a couple more podcast recommendations lined up, which I'll post soon, and I still want to put up my (much briefer than last year) write-up of the Sci-Fi Weekender 2014.

The Fun Lovin' Criminal, by Fun Lovin' Criminals.
16th-Apr-2014 11:27 am - Back online, finally!
jenniferkoliver: (South Park)
After three weeks of having no internet at home, and only sporadically being able to take care of important stuff using a friend's wireless, I'm finally back online. Aaah! There's tons to catch up with and I'm happy to be back, but there's a lot to be said for taking a few weeks offline:

I've written just over half of my new YA novel. As I said in my previous post (all those weeks ago), I'm using the Rachel Aaron approach and planning every chapter and scene before I write, aware of exactly what I want and need to get across before I start. I summarise the action, jot down small dialogue exchanges, list the themes/elements I want to shine, then I dive into the document. And my daily output has shot up—some days I'm cranking out 3000-4000 words, where before I was usually a 500-1000 words-per-day kinda gal. I'm sure things will slow down when the draft is complete and I start to revise, but for now, it's all jazz.

At the end of March me and a friend travelled to North Wales to attend the Sci-Fi Weekender 2014. We nerded out over some stunning cosplay, and got to watch live interviews with Graham McTavish and Royd Tolkien. I also especially enjoyed Festival of the Spoken Nerd, and Robert Rankin. I'm going to make a separate post for all of this, though, as there are a lot of pics and things I need to compile first.

I also dug two classical acoustic guitars out of the loft and I've been playing a little. There are some great sites that offer free user-created tab, pretty much any type of music you could want. I've found some obscure things and am having a ball relearning how to play between life and writing. It's been about thirteen years since I played guitar with any regularity, and it's amazing how much I still remember (I can even pick out an extremely slow, clunky version of Asturias, which is astounding. I mean, mine's terrible, but I remember the notes!). It's all tentative right now, but who knows, I might get back into it and start taking lessons again.

And there's a new EXO song teaser: Overdose. *squee*

Dark Star, by Fightstar.
jenniferkoliver: (Spirited Away | Chihiro & Haku)
Whoa, so I didn't mean to drop off the face of LJ. There have been a combination of things keeping me away—I went to stay with some friends a couple of weeks ago, which was fantabulous, but while there I picked up a vicious cold and brought it back home, then was out of commission for a week with that. And then this past week has just flown; I have no idea what's going on. But I hope everyone is doing well. ♥

BioWare Writer Quits After Death Threats to Family - a friend linked me to this the other day. It's astounding that some people can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality. It's gaming, for chrissakes. Totally crazybones.

And I never realised 'chrissakes' is a recognised word in the Oxford Dictionary, until now. Huh, learning things!

Oh, and I've been reading Garth Nix. Yep, finally. I read Sabriel, which I adored, and now I'm a quarter way through Lirael which I am also adoring. I wish I'd found Sabriel back in the 90s when I was a young adult. It probably would have changed my life. (Not that life was bad back then, but you know what I mean.)

His Young Heart (EP), by Daughter. This is a full EP currently on YT. It's really beautiful and mellow, at times reminding me of Bat For Lashes's Two Suns.
jenniferkoliver: (The Walking Dead | Daryl)
I'm so pleased [ profile] aigooism is playing Final Fantasy XIII. It means I get to bombard her with my knowledge of the game. Ahh!

Tuesday night was the Jaine Fenn and Suzanne McLeod author event at Storyslingers. We were extremely lucky to have them, and both Jaine and Suzanne were excellent guests and friendly, fun and encouraging authors. They each read out short fiction and answered a load of questions from us eager n00bs. I also got my copies of Principles of Angels and The Sweet Scent of Blood signed. I hope they'll come back to us in the future and do another talk, maybe even a workshop.

In more k-poppy news, I'm now annoyed at EXO. I had this amazing dark atmosphere going in my YA novel, but then EXO went and released their new album and ruined everything with their upbeat pop-heaven straight from outer space goodness. Grr. Yeah, I'm really angry about this. Really. I am trying to get back into the Victorian era groove, but Wolf is making it difficult.

Get Lucky, by Daughter (Daft Punk cover). [ profile] momebie linked this on Tumblr the other day. It is superb.
jenniferkoliver: (EXO | OT12)
Just got my eager little hands on EXO's new album, XOXO. There are two versions: hugs (Chinese) and kisses (Korean). I just. I can't even. I'm so happy I could burst. ♥ ♥ ♥ So far my favourite track is Black Pearl, which was previewed way back when EXO first released their teasers in 2011/2012. I'm also loving Wolf and My Lady. Those guys can sing (and dance, and do all kinds of other amazing things), but I think they've grown even better, stronger vocally. Guys, I'M SO HAPPY. I'm seriously having to contain my squee here.

[ profile] momebie recently posted the Mosaic Meme and I am pilfering it because it is excellent.

a) Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b) Using ONLY the first page, pick an image.
c) Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Mosaic Maker. (Change to 3 rows / 3 columns.)
d) Save the image and post it!

The Questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favourite food?
3. What is your favourite colour?
4. Favourite band?
5. Dream vacation?
6. Favourite hobby?
7. What you want to be when you grow up?
8. What do you love?
9. One word to describe you.

I get all numb. When she sings it's over. Such a strange numb, and it brings my knees to the earth )

Female Sexuality in YA Fiction - at Stacked. The post also links to a handful of other posts on the subject, and is well worth a read.

Minerva, by Deftones.
jenniferkoliver: (Wolves | Wolfwomen)
Tomorrow I board a train and head to Winchester for the Winchester Writers' Conference. I'm no longer nervous; there have been weeks to be nervous, and I am all out of nerves. By now, the Author, the Agent and the Editor (walked into a bar. Sorry, it sounds like the start of a joke) will have read my first chapter and I'm dying to hear if it's working. It feels like the right time to start sending out my novel to first readers, and that's exactly what I'm doing. Chapters 1 − 3 went out to my writing group a couple of days ago. Perspective, I do not have it any more. ;) But gosh, I'm actually enjoying editing through the second draft, tightening the bigger things like voice (which is so important to me when reading books) and character motivation. I don't enjoy editing short stories, but I seem to thrive editing novels. Who'd have thunk it?

Mostly I've been writing and editing to The Dark Knight Rises soundtrack, by Hans Zimmer. I wish I could do with words what Zimmer does with music. I feel like I could sit and peel back layer after layer of his scores and keep finding new twists and turns. Atmosphere is another one of those things I latch onto when I read a book, and Zimmer knows atmosphere. He's incredibly inspiring.

Speaking of awesomeness, yesterday I finished reading The Raven Boys, the first book in the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I loved this book immediately, so much so that I decided it was one of my favourite YA novels before I was even a quarter way in. The blurb makes it sound way more romancey than it is, though there are the beginning glimmers of a romance. It's more about the magic and mystery and intricate platonic relationships, and I highly recommended it.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman, was lovely, entertaining, dark and charming. As expected!

Beetlebum, by Blur.
jenniferkoliver: (Stock | Kitty Love)
Last month I actually got around to downloading all of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim expansions: Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn. And OMG. I'm a bit late, but I usually wait a few months after something new comes out to both give the developers chance to release patches for the bigger bugs, and to give most of the rowdy and obnoxious gamers time to burn out. Which is always good. Anyway, cutting my thoughts on each DLC as this got a bit long.

Dawnguard, in which you can be a vampire hunter as part of an ancient order, or a vampire lord. It's up to you )

Dragonborn, in which you travel to the volcanic island of Solstheim and challenge the first dragonborn who is out for your blood )

Hearthfire, in which you can build your own houses, collect stewards to guard all your loot, and generally feel like a wealthy person )

These DLCs are well worth the money, IMO, and they add a fair amount of new stuff to Skyrim that you can continue to enjoy even after completing the main quests. With the exception of Hearthfire, the other DLCs offer a considerable number of new quests, making them good value, too.

I also just picked up a copy of Dishonored which I've had my eye on since before release, and I'm tempted to grab Tomb Raider soon as well. Gah, so many games, so little time!

Screamager, by Therapy?
jenniferkoliver: (Stock | Typewriter)
I was listening to the Dubstep station on radio (on my desktop, which you can do with the Scrobbler, which is awesome) and heard the title track Graduation from Gemini's 2011 EP. Oh man, I wish I'd checked out their newer stuff sooner. I think I prefer Graduation to their older EP Blue—you can hear some echoes of Blue in the melodies and style and structures of the songs, and there are nuances that seem to be characteristic of Gemini, but at the same time it feels expanded and stronger and deeper. I really love it. Here is the title track on YouTube:

Graduation - official video. It's very pretty.

You can download the EP on iTunes here.

I forgot to mention that I've been invited to do a writing workshop with some high school students next Thursday, as part of a visiting author event. They have a couple of published authors in to talk about their books, and while one of them is available to workshop with some of the boys afterwards, the other author isn't, so they've drafted me instead. I'm a bit nervous about it; I've never worked with young adults. The only times I've led workshops or given talks have been at adult events, where everyone present has signed up to be there. These pupils aren't getting any choice. :) I've been mulling a few topics for discussion and a couple of small exercises to (hopefully) inspire and motivate. They'll be writing for a short story competition with the prompt 'Other Worlds', which is right up my alley and which I'll also be judging. I'm looking forwards to seeing what they come up with. Will post about it here, when all is said and done.

Still on the writing theme, last night I was chatting to a friend about how my writing stamina seems tangled with my physical stamina, and how everything flows better when I'm regularly exercising. The holiday period is always a difficult time to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but I'm getting back into it now, and I'm noticing the effect it's having with writing projects—things are picking up again, gathering strength and momentum. The best part is, when I'm feeling good about writing I'm generally more energised to exercise, and it ends up a self-perpetuating cycle. Just got to make sure nothing comes along to break it, like, y'know, the holidays. :)
jenniferkoliver: (Wolves | Wolfwomen)
In November I passed my [ profile] getyourwordsout challenge of 150,000 words during 2012, so December is really just extra as far as my target is concerned. Hooray! I'm glad I didn't choose 200k, though—there were a couple of months where I got very little new writing done. I may go for 200k next year, if I'm feeling frisky at sign up time.

I've also been micro-ficcing again, and I have a short ghost story up at 50-Word Stories: "The Thinning".

Speaking of short-short fiction, there's this cool website TypeTrigger that offers an instant form of flash fiction. Using the text box at the top of the page and the trigger word or phrase, you type up to 300 words of a story or poem, and hit publish. You can also search through the triggers to find things to read. This is such an awesome idea! I wish there was a speculative fiction version.

And I really want to write a blog post about EXO, that Korean/Chinese boyband I (very briefly) mentioned a couple of months ago. Remember I said I was trying to resist them? Yeah. I failed. :/ But it's going to take me a while to put it all together. Still, expect that at some point (you could consider this a warning, perhaps…)

One Way or Another, by Blondie.
jenniferkoliver: (The X-Files)
There's nothing like getting back into the swing of things after an extended dry spell. Well, I say swing. It's more like a gentle sway right now, but it is movement all the same. It's been an odd month; in some ways productive and sociable, and in other ways frustrating and not very creative. I've got so much good stuff done offline and off the computer. Loads of exercise, too. I've moved up another belt notch since the beginning of October, and I feel fab. But writing has been a slog and that doesn't feel fab. I know you know what I mean. However, two nights ago I submitted a story to a magazine and I've been editing a few older stories this past week, so I'm finally, properly back in the game. Hooray!

Ooh, talking of games, I got round to finishing the main quest in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Will cut this for spoilers, even though the game is so old and beloved that I doubt many people don't already know what happens ) I also picked up a PlayStation Move controller and motion camera, along with Just Dance 3 and Dance Star Party. All I have to say at this point is: New Kids on the Block "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" - OH YEAH. Holy crap, I didn't realise they were still going.

Here's a small, annoying thing: a few weeks ago The Times ran a competition to write a 50 word ghost story. I wrote one I was happy with, bounced it around with a beta reader for a day or two, and then realised I'd got the deadline wrong by one day and missed the submissions. Bah!

Currently reading: Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top, edited by Ekaterina Sedia. Great so far. Particularly liking the circus stories set in space/the future.

Scream, by Usher. My current workout song.
9th-May-2012 01:14 pm - Blows dust off journal...
jenniferkoliver: (Vintage | Stressed is Desserts)
Hi, dudes. It was starting to look a little dusty around here, so I thought I'd break my weird radio silence and try to get back into it. I also owe it to [ profile] aigooism, because she is awesomebeans and gifted my account with paid time. ♥ Plus, I've missed hanging out on LJ. After finishing the first draft of the steampunk novel I drifted into the vast post-novel chasm of lethargy, and it's been a bugger trying to get back out. Mind, I really did mash that puppy for two solid months, so I should have probably been prepared for a reasonable amount of fallout. But urk, I so wasn't prepared.

To deal with my recent creative dry spell, I've been doing a lot of DIY around the house. It keeps me busy and physically active, and ultimately satisfied when it goes right! The place is starting to feel fresh and sprung, and that helps me feel fresh and all springy. Good times.

It was also my writing group's 1st birthday, and last Tuesday we had an impromptu party to celebrate. I can't believe it's been a year since Storyslingers started. In some ways it's like I've known them forever, and in others it's like we're still brand new. Hopefully our second year will be even more productive than the first.

On the writing front, I think I'm steadily getting my mojo back, entertaining some new short story ideas. One of them focuses on a not-too-distant future in which there are web designers for our faces. See there, I'm combining things I know about with things on which I can only speculate! I did finish the first draft of the story about lightning, but have come to realise—with the help of a beta reader—that it's too rushed and I need more time to work it as a longer piece, maybe a novelette or even a novella. For now it is going back into the WIP folder while I concentrate on other stuff.

Oh, and I've finally succumbed to Tumblr. If you have an account there and fancy connecting, go ahead. I will add you right back. The Tumblr may be updated more regularly than the blog, and it'll be about general stuff like media, literature, a bit of writing, and odd snippets from my brain. I think I already prefer it to Twitter...

I want to post about movies I've seen, music I currently love, games I've played and books I'm obsessed with, but this is getting rather long so I'll do the rest soon. For now, I'll leave off with one of my favourite tracks at the moment:

Too Close, by Alex Clare. I'm so happy this is doing well in the UK charts. :)
jenniferkoliver: (Stock | Shoes)
65,000 words through the first draft of the steampunk novel. A few weeks ago [ profile] hierath linked to one of her blog posts in which she talks about story walls, and how they seem to crop up for a lot of writers at the one-third and two-thirds stages of a project. Being a bit of a newb at this novel writing racket, I assumed I was immune to these writing phenomena when the first 25k words went so quickly, but nope: I hit my walls around 25-30k and 60k. It's freaky! Anyway, I am pleased to say I'm now (mostly) unstuck and THE END looms. I also have the beginnings of plot for the follow-up novel. Aaah!

I'm also hammering away at new short story that grew from a totally random plot-bunny attack. I can't remember why it came up, or where it came from, but something obviously pinged my brain recently because now I am writing about strange lightning-powered machines, set in the early 1800s. That's all I'll say for now. Oh, except earlier today I did a search and found this cool article: Secret Sprites: Study Explains High-Altitude Flashes.

Something I'm finding extremely useful at the moment is this article on the 20 common grammar mistakes that (almost) everyone makes from Lit Reactor. I'm guilty of a couple of these; unfortunately, they're like a writing reflex. But I'm determined not to let any slip through into final drafts.

There are a few projects upcoming and currently in progress. It's nice to have a To Do List that's short and manageable—I don't imagine it'll always look like this!

March 3rd: Writer's Network presentation: Online Publishing (w/Jennifer Bell).
March 6th: Speculative Fiction seminar in Bath.
Early March: Write Dadaism article for Paperblanks Blog.
Soon: Finish first draft of short lightning machine story.
By March End: Finish first draft of steampunk novel.

Polaroids and Chinese Whispers, by Our Ceasing Voice. Post-rock from the Austrian Alps. This is very atmospheric; good for moody writing. It's also available for free download on Last.FM here, as are quite a few of OCV's tracks.
jenniferkoliver: (SPN | Castiel)
How awkward is it when you're walking along and someone comes out of a room or doorway and starts walking the same way as you, and you're sort of walking together but not quite, and you don't know each other, so one person has to speed up and one has to slow down until there's enough distance between you to walk comfortably again, and everyone involved feels a tad stupid? The answer is, most awkward!

I've been playing a spot of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in my spare time (a little late to the party, as always), and all I can say is: epic whoa. Cutting this for lengthy rambles about large RPGs )

Aside from that, I've been writing, submitting, receiving rejections—a couple of them very encouraging—working, playing, and snuggling my cat. Me and my Storyslingers co-mod are hoping to host a Short Story Slam in July, so we're starting to plan for that.

I hit 40k words on the steampunk novel recently, which I estimate to be about halfway through. It's good, solid progress, and that is fab. Also, things that I started to think weren't relevant and may end up being cut are now becoming relevant. Is this a part of my brain that's one step ahead of the rest? Could be, could be! Thank you, brain. I'm still mostly running on instinct, still finding it an enterprise of discovery and excitement. But there's always that tiny, niggling fear that I'll lose the plot or veer too far from my (shady) goal.

And a couple of weeks ago I discovered:

Wake You Up and Insect Flick, by Coven. A relatively new dubstep act, who I hope continue to bring out quality beats!
jenniferkoliver: (Wolves | Wouldn't Like Me)
A little belated, but Happy New Year, everyone! I hope January is treating you kindly so far.

My January is all about writing, writing, writing. I'm learning I write more regularly on a long project than on a series of short projects. I realised that I wrote a bunch of short stories in 2011 that I never edited, and therefore never sent out on submission—this, I shall remedy in 2012. (Wait, that sounded dangerously like a Resolution!) Some blather about the steampunk novel-in-progress, cut for the sake of the uninterested )

[ profile] getyourwordsout has kicked off and I'm already well over my target word count. The community itself is so organised and has the most dedicated mods—I love it! And I'm meeting all these cool new peeps, too. Peeps I can't wait to get to know better!

The other night at my writing group one of our members gave a presentation on Concordance software, which is for analysing language and studying electronic texts closely. There are a load of key features, like word counters, the ability to make wordlists, word frequency lists, indexes, and you can do proximity searches. My favourite thing is that you can check which words occur most often in a document (a bit like a word cloud), a handy way of weeding out those wicked crutch words you're not even aware are sneaking into your stories ("very," anyone?). Nifty. More about the software here and here.

Also, I mentioned the new TV series Eternal Law a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say so far it's not grabbing me. I'm saddened, as I had high expectations. But I'll stick with it for now and see how things unfold.

Promises, by Nero. Dubsteppy goodness. Nero was probably my favourite emerging music act from 2010/2011.
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