Nanowrimo Spotlight: DaniPhoenix, not your average firebird

October 25, 2014

Good morning! It’s spotlight time again, and the spotlight falls on DaniPhoenix, who blogs at http://thephoenixsquill.wordpress.com/. Here’s Dani with her Nanowrimo history rundown:

This is my second Nano (2012), I didn’t finish. I am determined to finish the novel that I have been steadily working on this year. I am at 65,000 words currently and need another 60,000 to finish. I love the camaraderie of my fellow writers, the support that I have received has been inspiring. Sometimes I feel like I am on an island by myself with any writing issues that I may be having at the moment and being able to find others that are having similar roadblocks is comforting and reassuring. I like knowing that I am not the only crazy! In addition, the resources available to Wrimos is invaluable; I have learned so much between the downloads offered to the forums.

What are you writing about this year?
This year I am finishing a historical romance within a contemporary romance. With a bit of mystery and adventure.

What is your favorite book – you have to pick just one!
Oh dear, favorite book, I think at this point in my writing career I would choose JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I love the wonder, the descriptions of the scenery, buildings, and characterizations. I discovered a whole new world with Harry, it still sticks with me, even today. I guess its like that childhood Christmas feeling- the anticipation, excitement, and the build up to the hopefully happy ending.

What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
My advice to my fellow Wrimos is to put yourself out there, “meet” other writers, participate in the forums section, use the resources that are freely given by other Wrimos and the sponsors. Utilize the massive amount of combined knowledge that is quite literally at your fingertips. Immerse yourself in your novel, but also in this uniquely supportive environment.

Sneaky Ninja question! Do you tend to remember any of your dreams?
Such an interesting question given that the idea for my current novel started as a dream. I had the same dream several times over the course of a year or two until I finally cried Uncle! and wrote it down. Then I sat on it for another year until the rest came to me late last year.

danielaOne of the sidebar questions on the Nano site asks what type of music you as a writer will be listening to while writing. I put that it depends on my mood, so here is an example of a typical day of music for me:
ACDC-Back in Black anyone?
Queen- so many good songs…Bicycle. Bicycle!
Etta James- At Last = soulful goodness.
Daughtry- I love the grit of Chris’ voice.
Depeche Mode- Saw every one of their concerts in the 80’s and early 90’s. Trailblazer for social commentary in music.
Survivor- Eye of the Tiger! Gets me pumped to write some good stuff.
Heart- Barracuda- Woman power to the nth degree.
U2- The most altruistic rockband of all time. And the music isn’t bad either.
INXS- His voice is irreplaceable. So sad that he took his own life.
and the list goes on…

You can see my taste varies. Music inspires me, incites me, and turns me on. It brings me joy and makes me sad. All of which I can funnel into the story that I am currently writing. I considered putting some lyrics from the most influential songs into my book. You’ll have to see if they make the cut.

Editor’s Note: Dani’s list of music was actually much longer, but I had to cut it down for this interview. Maybe she’ll put the whole list up on her blog for you guys! Once again, that’s http://thephoenixsquill.wordpress.com/

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My Top Ten Canadian Singles

August 20, 2012

Well, the Vinyl Cafe had a show on this weekend where the host, Stuart McLean, picked his top ten Canadian singles. Turns out it was a summer repeat and has already been covered in the blogosphere, but I was inspired to choose my favorite ten songs from Canadian artists too. (I didn’t limit myself to radio singles, as it’s been a while since that’s been relevant for me in terms of music I enjoy.) I graded high for songs that were co-written by Canadians, and included a slight bias against the Canadian songs I already talked about in my ‘Top 10 songs’ blogfest entry, which knocked all of them out of the running and brought up other great music, often by the same artists. (Many of the artists appear in my ‘Desert Island Discs’ playlist.)

And here we go!

1. When I think about first getting interested in truly Canadian music, Lisa Brokop immediately comes to mind. I loved music when I was young, but whether it was church music, borrowed pop, or Christian rock, Canadian content didn’t figure for me. But when I started my country phase in the winter of 1995, shortly before heading off to University, I was getting my fix from the New Country Network video channel on cable, (which later became CMT Canada,) and then local radio stations like CISS-FM in Toronto and CHAM AM in Hamilton. And I really loved the sound of some of the singers from north of the border, like Lisa. ‘Take That’ was one of the first videos that I loved so much that I recorded it onto a VHS tape so I could enjoy it over and over again.

There’s a story that I heard years later that I really love, that Lisa was on tour opening for a big-name band, (Little Texas?) around that time, and didn’t even realize that one of her own songs was hitting it big on the radio until the day that she started ‘Take That’ at a show and realized, to her amazement, that the crowd was singing the first verse along with her. 🙂

But I’m not putting ‘Take That’ on the list, partly because it was written by a couple of American Nashville songwriters. Instead, I’m going to name a song that I really love because it makes me think about writing and Nanowrimo and all of that cool stuff whenever I listen to it: “Write a Book About Me.” It’s off the album “Hey, do you know me” and was written by Lisa Brokop and Kim McLean.

2. “No Change in me”, sung by the Ennis Sisters, written by Murray McLauchlan and Ron Hynes. This is a bit of a two-fer, because I had to get the Ennis Sisters into this list. Murray’s version of the song is also amazing, but the only cut I could find on youtube is this slideshow with rather rough, half-spoken vocals by Ron. But I’ll get back to Ron Hynes later in this list.

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Spotlight: Chris’ Desert Island Discs

March 21, 2012

Skipping ahead a little in Rich’s original challenge, today I’m sharing my top 20 favorite albums, and a little bit about why I like each one. I’m limiting myself to one custom compilation, (more about that later,) though commercial ‘best of’s and anthologies are fair game. In alphabetical order:

And then we wrote, Flanders and Swann and Swann, with friends. I love nearly all of Flanders and Swann’s music, but this one is dear to me for more than just the great numbers from their musical revue days like “Excelsior” and “The Lord Chamberlain’s Regulations.” It’s a classic that’s never been released onto CD as far as I know, but I fondly remember listening to my Dad’s vinyl record. (Now I listen to the digitized version.)

Camelot. Another vinyl classic from my Dad’s collection. Knights singing show tunes – gotta love it.

Dreams, by the Corrs. Thanks very much to the Irish band for releasing this cut, a mix of covers and best-of, so that I don’t need to agonize over which studio album I’d take to the desert island for a Corrs fix.

Dress Rehearsal, by the amazing Canadian singer and songwriter, Carolyn Dawn Johnson. This album comes to mind as a tour de force of the songwriter’s art, from the lyric poignancy of the title track, “I’ll let you go”, and “Just another plane,” to the energy and fun of “He’s Mine.”

The Essential Billy Joel. I discovered Billy Joel’s music late, after noting down a song playing in a coffee shop that I wanted to look up, which was “The Longest Time.” ‘The Essential’ was the first step in my journey of discovery, and well worth it.

Face to the Gale, by Ron Hynes. I remember hearing “Godspeed” on the radio when I was in University, and loving it, but I didn’t get the album until much later, and I really like the music, as it comes crashing in with the power of a Newfoundland storm behind tracks like “The Final Breath” and “Saint John’s Waltz.” Read the rest of this entry »


Music I love – Dala, ‘Anywhere under the moon.’

February 7, 2012

My appreciation for Dala has grown slowly over several years. I saw them when they came with the Vinyl Cafe concert to Hamilton in December of 2008, kinda liked the songs that they sang in that show, (some of which were traditional-seasonal, not their own,) and picked up a copy of the CD that they had on sale, “Who do you think you are.’ I gave that CD a few listens, but wasn’t immediately blown away. I remember that I was really starting to love it by the time December rolled around, because I bought a CD of Matt Andersen’s at that year’s concert just hoping I’d come to like it as much. (Not quite, though he’s grown on me somewhat as well.)

I bought another Dala CD, “Everyone is Someone”, off the Itunes Canada store early in 2010, and wasn’t really blown away by anything off the album except for ‘Levi Blues’, which I thought was amazing from the first listen, and still do.

Recently I’ve picked up some more of their music from emusic.com – another studio album, “This moment is a flash”, which I’m not sure what I think about, and a live performance collection, “Girls from the North Country”, which has a few covers like “Both Sides Now” and “The Weight,” and also accoustic versions of some of my favorite tracks from “Everyone is Someone” and “Who do you think you are.” This was enough to get me scouting YouTube for Dala’s music videos and footage of their live performances.

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Crusader spotlight: Word + Stuff

March 22, 2011

Okay, first off, I’d like to shine this week’s Crusader spotlight on Trisha, over at W O R D + S T U F F, as she spells it.

There’s a lot of cool stuff over at Word + Stuff, including Trisha’s Crusader challenge entry, music spotlights, really cool blogfest entries, and a 200 follower competition. And no, I’m not doing this spotlight just to get another chance to qualify in the competition for mentioning it in my own blog, though the prizes are indeed pretty nifty.

I had a lot of fun exchanging thoughts with Trisha in the ‘Hone your Skills’ blogfest last week.

And speaking of blogfests… I feel like an idiot.

I was feeling so excited about the Snoop blogfest, went over to Alison’s blog to check on if there was a word count limit or other rules – and found out that I’d missed the date by nearly three weeks. I mean, I knew that I was absent-minded sometimes, but how the heck does that happen?

All I know was that somehow I got the blogfest connected with March 23rd in my brain. I knew that it was a Wednesday, and I actually rearranged my blog schedule and shifted the Wizard of Mars series away from Wednesdays so that I’d be able to do Hone your Skills and Snoop. Except – well, you know. Snoop came and passed me by, back when I was working out a few other changes in my Blog schedule, and getting up to speed with National Novel Editing Month.

I’d still like to do the Snoop challenge, even though it wouldn’t be a formal part of the Blogfest. But I think that I’d feel too ridiculous posting it tomorrow, and in any event, I have a Crusader Challenge to write! I may try doing it on April 22nd, if I can’t find anything else I’d rather do that starts with an S for the A-Z challenge. Or, I might just do it in a week, and slip it in before A-Z starts.


Blogfest – top ten songs.

January 24, 2011

Blogosphere Index

Well, if I’m looking for somebody to feature on Blogosphere Monday, and I see a fun-sounding Blogfest scheduled for the right day… I’m gonna do the blogfest. That’s just kind of an obvious one by now. Even if it keeps me up until past my bedtime, sigh.

So, from Captain Ninja Alex – the Top Ten Songs Blogfest!

Now, trying to pick my top ten favorite songs at the moment, or of all time, is one of those impossible tasks, so I’m going to instead go for picking ten great songs where I can actually tell a little story about why I like them so much. Be warned, my taste in music does does skew a little to the right – as in the Country music, but I’m trying to not load the list too badly in that direction.

10. I never really knew what music to connect with the name ‘Billy Joel’ (aside from “Uptown Girl,” which seemed catchy but shallow,) until I caught myself humming “The Longest Time” after it had been playing at a Hamilton write-in and made a memo to look it up. From the Billy Joel Essential collection on Itunes, I found “The Downeaster Alexa.”

Again, the celtic melody and harmonies draw me into this number, but it’s the lyrics, and the story that they tell, that really make me love the song – the vivid way in which it portrays a fisherman’s life, and the stoic resolve with which the protagonist clings to what might be a vanishing trade.

“Tell my wife I am trawling Atlantis / And I still have my hands on the wheel.”

“I was a bayman, like my father was before / Can’t make a living as a bayman anymore.”

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