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Soundtrack Distractions… Songs that make me emotional

August 16, 2018

Soundtrack Distractions

I use soundtracks as my background music as I write. Why? The emotional movements. The storytelling pieces. The Motifs. Why not? I also listen to classical music (not as distracting) as I write, but when I am searching for a particular mood, I put on a Movie/TV soundtrack.

There are a few drawbacks to listening to soundtracks. Sometimes, it can take you out of your writing headspace. (You want to stay there. Otherwise, your head might start to tell you, to check your e-mail, watch YouTube, do the dishes, mow the lawn or anything else it thinks you should be doing.) When you listen to soundtracks, it can become distracting when a particular piece of music begins to play. Iconic scores. Like Star Wars. And then your mind starts to think (instead of writing) “Hey, that’s from that scene in Empire where Luke searches for Vader and Vader just appears and starts throwing things at him, using only his mind. I love that scene. I should watch that…”

But, the absolute worst soundtrack moments are the ones that derail me completely from writing. The ones that make me emotional. The ones that stand out for their potency and nostalgia-like imprint on my brain.

So, without further ado, here are some soundtrack songs and moments that I cannot listen to while I write, as they completely destroy my ability to tell my own story, because I get caught up in the one they are telling and become an emotional wreck.

Did I mention I am a big, old, softy?

The Road to Perdition – “Road to Perdition” by Thomas Newman

Did I mention I love this movie? And for some reason every time I hear the main theme, I tear up like I just mowed the lawn in April (Allergy joke.) Thomas Newman creates a fantastic theme and score, which combined with how the movie ends, well, that’s just more than a man can take.

Lost – “Life and Death” by Michael Giacchino

Charlie and Claire. Claire and Charlie.  Oh and a bunch of other characters I like.

Empire of the Sun – “Toy Planes, Home and Hearth” by John Williams

My favorite Spielberg movie. And one of John Williams greatest soundtracks. The ending of the film always gets me and this song is the catalyst.

Life is Beautiful – “Buon Giorno Principessa” by Nicola Piovani


This film is still one of my favorites and this song drags me out of my head and straight into the film. A glorious film about a boy telling the love story of his parents. I know the film gets some flack for its portrayal of the Holocaust, but I feel those that did, misunderstand the intention of the film. It is told from the POV of the child. I love it and I can discuss it for hours.

The Leftovers – “Departure (Home)” by Max Richter

Probably, my favorite TV show over the past five years and this song represents the show quite well. Beautiful and sad.

Battlestar Galactica –  “A Good Lighter” by Bear McCreary

Another one of my favorite TV shows, and a song that makes me want to cry, right from the opening. A powerful show and a powerful song.

To Kill a Mockingbird – “Main Theme” by Elmer Bernstein

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. I can’t.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – “Sacrifice” by Christophe Beck

Buffy has some amazing music. Seriously. There are about four or five songs that make me tear up.  Including, “Remembering Jenny,” “Close Your Eyes” and “Every Girl a Slayer“. But, “Sacrifice” is the one that makes me stop in my tracks and think about the show. My favorite TV show.

The Fellowship of the Ring – “The Breaking of the Fellowship” by Howard Shore

Seriously, how can a man work on his story when the soundtrack to one of the greatest stories ever told is playing in the background? There hasn’t been a soundtrack like this since. The last of the great film soundtracks. It makes me sad. Just like the song. So good, so beautiful… so distracting.

As you can now see, like I said, I am a big softy. Tearing up at the drop of the hat, at some movie or TV soundtrack. Maybe it’s my advancing age and diminishing testosterone, who knows? Hell, I didn’t include any Star Wars, because I don’t listen to the Star Wars soundtrack as I write, the O.G. trilogy anyway, because I can picture in my mind every scene, based on the music alone. It is horribly distracting.

Speaking of distracting, I better get back to it.

 

What’s new 2018?!

August 8, 2018

In other words… What the hell have you been doing in 2018?

Where is book two?

Where are the new blog posts? (asked no one)

Yes, yes, I know. It’s been a long time since I updated the website. It’s been a long time since I updated the status of book two. It’s just been a long time. What can I say? I’ve been working on a lot of things. (How cryptic.)  Different stories and ideas that will be released soon. Yes, I said soon. I have developed a schedule (after many years of trying) that seems to work for me, where I can balance my fiction writing, blog writing and the business side of the job, that no one sees. (What a complaining complainee?)  Fine, I will get to the important stuff.

Front_cover_Only-193x300 What's new 2018?! My Fiction Writing THE JOURNEY IS EVERYTHING, Book Two of Blake’s Apocalypse Account

(Geeze, could I have a longer title? Gotta trigger those Amazon algorithms somehow.) COMING END OF SEPTEMBER/EARLY OCTOBER. I have completed the third or fourth draft. (I lost count.) Beta readers and a good old-fashioned editor will be the final steps in the process. If you are interested in being a beta reader, you can send me an e-mail: aaron@aaronmcarpenter.com I gotta warn you though, being a beta reader means you will need to provide extensive feedback on the book. The good, the bad and the ugly. Like a book report. Maybe, even a diorama.

25289494_1761586217205089_4220605371390405942_n-198x300 What's new 2018?! My Fiction Writing NUMBERED DAYS

Coming in 2019. I am excited about this one. It is in 3rd person. Yay! I have a draft finished.

THE BEGINNING IS EVERYTHING, Book Three of Blake’s Apocalypse Account

Spring 2019. That’s right, I have already started the first draft.

SHORT STORIES

Multiple short stories will be published on this website and on Wattpad, in the coming months. For free. They will also be available on Amazon, but not free. At a later date, they will be compiled into one paperback. They all take place in the same universe as my novels.

FAN FICTION

That’s right, I have some fanfiction ideas and a serialized story that I will be posting on Wattpad and this website, on a television-like schedule. Why fanfiction? Why not? It’s a lot of fun and I am looking at it as writing exercises, where I can experiment. If you are wondering what fictional world my fanfiction takes place in, well, you will just have to wait and see. To give you a hint, the title of the serialized story is, CHOSEN.

BLOG POST

I will be posting a new blog post weekly. At least weekly. That is a schedule I can stick to. If something new comes up I will post it. If not, I will stick to my schedule.

That’s about it for now. I am excited to start sharing all of this with you. I have learned from this past year. The good and the bad from my hesitation and halting schedule. The best thing about all this time between releases is, I have spent tons of time writing, creating a backlog of stories, that I can release in quick succession.

To stay up to date you can subscribe to my newsletter, which I will send out once a month, and maybe when a brand new novel comes out.  I won’t spam your e-mail with annoying marketing e-mails. You can sign up here: http://aaronmcarpenter.com/sign-up-to-my-newsletter/

Back to it.

 

My Writing Goals for 2017 – Results Good or Bad? Plus 2018 Writing Goals.

January 4, 2018

2017 writing results and 2018 goals

When 2017 began, I thought I should put some goals together, concerning my writing. Just simple goals that were achievable yet beyond what occurred in the previous year.  I ended up with one and only one: Finish and publish my book. You see, at the time, it wasn’t the daily writing, the character creation, story structure or anything else that has to do with creating a story that was holding me back. No, it was the finishing. The first draft and second draft for The Ending is Everything, were complete, but I needed to continue and polish it. I was frozen by my own insecurity. If I could see the flaws, then everyone else will see the flaws and then they will call me a hack, and say mean things about it like “just plain crap” (actual quote from an Amazon review of the book). So in January 2017, the goal was to say “F%&k it” and finish it. Publish it. Rinse and repeat.

Now, that 2017 is over, I can say, hey I accomplished my goal. The book is out there in a variety of formats. People seem to like it. Well, most people. And the world has not caught on fire (not yet, anyway) by my audacity to think I could publish a book myself.

But, I needed new goals for 2018. Specific goals. Goals I could accomplish, day after day, month after month. But, first, as any analyst knows, you need to know how you are currently doing before you can create goals for improvement. I put my analyst hat on and dove into the numbers.

1st data set. Words per day.

This is an important number, but not as important as some would have you think. After looking at the numbers, I averaged 410 words per day in 2017. This does not include my writing on this blog. Not bad right? Not great, but not bad.  But, as you dove into the data set I realized, I only wrote on 93 of the 365 days in 2017. On those days I wrote an average 1600 words. See the distinction.

My new goal for 2018: Write every day and average 500 words per day.  This should be achievable. I just have to set aside time to write something new every damn day. Repetition is essential in writing. When I am on, it flows through me like Yoda said it would, but once I began to slack off or concentrate just on cover design, the blog, or editing, I lose that flow, and it becomes like an anchor pulling away from the most important thing I can do, write fiction.

2nd data set. Book Sales.

Now, this sounds important, and it is, but again, there is more than meets the eye. So, I took a look at the numbers for 2017.

Hardcovers – 22

Paperbacks – 19

e-books – 322

Now, to some, that may seem small, and I suppose it is, but as I said, I didn’t know what to expect, so I am pleasantly content. The ROI on the book has been positive. (Note- if I had hired an editor, it would’ve been about even.) Thankfully I take home more money from my $4.99 e-book, than on either the $12.99 paperback or the absurdly priced MSRP $27.99 hardcover.  In independently publishing the money is in the e-book.

But, there is another source of income, and that is Kindle Unlimited. Which is like Amazon Prime video, but for books. The author gets paid an amount, (decided on how? I cannot remotely say), per pages read. It works for me at this time, because I need one thing (besides money)… readers. I need to be discovered, more than I need to sell books.

Kindle Unlimited pages read – 256,133

Which either means 853 people read my book or 256,133 people read the first page and stopped. I think it is somewhere in the middle. A part of me wants to believe, that all of those 853 potential book sales I missed out on and I wish it were that simple. But, I know that is not the case. Most of those people, probably wouldn’t have read it, unless it was a part of their subscription.

What should be my goals for 2018? Since the 2017 numbers only show 6 months worth of data, I should at least double it. I will also be releasing at least two more books this year, so that should help.

2018 Book Sales Goal – Sell 1500 kindle books and get 1 million page reads on KU (5 x the 2017 numbers).

3rd Data set. Subscribers.

As an author, you want your subscribers to be your backbone. The fans who will buy what you put out, the day it is out. But, the question throughout 2017 was: Where do I find them and how do I capture them? (Not physically, of course, because that would be illegal.) I thought I could use my author Facebook page. Oh, the naivete of naivete. Facebook’s algorithm makes it impossible to know if your fans who like your page, will ever actually see your posts. Of course, there is a way to force your way onto people’s news feeds… MONEY!!! So, while the Facebook page seems like the simplest solution, it is not the most effective. Thus, the results for 2017 were simple to gather: NONE. I had no subscribers.

2018 Goal – Get 500 subscribers. This is a doable number, I think. I will be upfront, I hate spam. Hell, I hate selling. I don’t want to be pushy. I want people to love my stuff so much they go out of their way to find me and buy my new works. But, that is just my laziness talking. I know I need to be the one making an effort to get out in front of people in the most inoffensive way possible. I now have a subscribe button on my website. It will be added to the end of all my books. I will be hosting giveaways, where I can add subscribers.

My real 2018 goal concerning subscribers is to have fun with it.  Make people laugh and not take it too seriously. Make the content they receive worthwhile. 

The final results for 2017 were a success, in my mind. I didn’t become a national bestseller. I don’t have Hollywood offering me money for the rights to my book. But, that was never the goal.  The goal is to write stories about characters that people care about. That is still the primary goal and always will be. Now, if I could just finish this second book*.  UGhhh!!!!

Final Goals for 2018

  1. Write a minimum of 500 words per day. Every day.

  2. Finish three books. First draft.

  3. Publish 2 books.

  4. Improve sales and KU page reads. 1500 Kindle. 1 million KU.

  5. Blog, at least, weekly.

  6. Find 500 subscribers.

  7. Lose 15 pounds.

  8. Read 50 Books.

  9. Take a grammar course. (Me no need, just an idea.)

  10. Continue to learn the art of storytelling via online videos and courses.

*Numbered Days is in its third draft, still crossing fingers for a March publication.

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What Happened to this Blog? Where are the new post? What’s Next?

October 23, 2017

What Happened to the Blog? Why the lack of post?

When I first started this blog, I had grand visions of what I could write about. Posts containing a critical analysis of my favorite films, TV shows, and books, posts about my favorite albums and music, constant updates about my current writing progress. So, what happened? Well, to put it as best I can, I got lazy. Not lazy, as in, lay around the house lazy. But, lazy in a prioritizing way. I am trying to write my second book and the blog took a back seat. Time became an issue. It’s not a good excuse, but that’s what happened. So, for the two of you who follow this blog, I apologize. I have a game plan in place, to post a new blog post, at least, once a week, going forward.

Top 100 films. Top 50 TV shows.

The countdown will continue, only now, it will be in blog post of ten films. 100-90 and so on. Why? Because the critical analysis of one movie was taking too long and was paralyzing my blog post schedule. It’s not easy to break down a great film and  try and get to the heart of why you really like it, besides saying “I really like it.” Going forward, I will provide a brief summary of each film and why I like it. In other words, I will split the difference between a critical breakdown and “I like it.” I will also link to more serious breakdowns from others who do a much better job than I would.  Side note- One of the most annoying aspects of this modern world is the advent of critical reviewers (youtube) who have no credentials besides a camera or blog post and write/record scathing reviews of other peoples work. I did not want to be a part of that, so I wanted to write about things I enjoyed. Not that I don’t enjoy some of the reviews (redlettermedia), but most I find insufferable.

My New Book.

Yes, I am writing my second book, tentatively titled “Numbered Days,” and my goal is to have it edited and available for purchase around Christmas. Unlike, “The Ending is Everything,” this book has been a grind for me to write. It could be that because the ending is set in stone, it means I had to outline the book, which I didn’t do for my first book and I am finding the lack of freedom and discovery difficult to deal with. But, I also feel, this book will feel more like a regular novel. (3rd person limited vs. 1st person).  I compared “The Ending is Everything” to a found footage film, in its narrative style. “Numbered Days,” would be more like a boring indie film. I’m kidding. I hope. I will also be hiring an outside editor as the prose and imagery are more important than in the previous novel. What’s it about you ask? It’s about a man and his dog seeking redemption from the past before the world ends. It is set in the same universe as “The Ending is Everything” and has some of the same characters. I will let you know more, as it gets closer to being released. And, yes, after “Numbered Days” a sequel to “The Ending is Everything” will be next.

The Future of the Blog.

The next step for this blog is for me to schedule and plot out blog post weeks in advance. I know, sounds crazy right. Besides the top 100 films and top 50 TV shows, I will have random blog post on anything I feel like posting about. My goal – two blog post a week. Hey, this counts as one. Now, back to my book.

The Ending is Everything: The Soundtrack

August 2, 2017

The Ending is Everything: The Soundtrack

When I first started writing, The Ending is Everything, I would listen to music. Anyone who knows me, knows, I love music. And there were some songs that influenced my writing. Songs I would imagine playing in the background of a scene. Or, if there was a movie, this is the rock song that would play. It helped with pacing a scene and imagining the movements of the characters. In other words, music influences my writing more than I would like to admit.

I compiled these influential songs for you. These are the songs that helped create my novel. The soundtrack.

I apologize for the lack of variety of artists, but what can I say, these are some of my favorite singers and songwriters, so, of course, they are going to influence my own form of expression.

“You’re Having The Time Of My Life” – Jets To Brazil


The opening chapter. This song, and another by Jets To Brazil, heavily influenced the first chapter.

“Green Light” – Lorde


The song referenced in the novel, playing in the background at the party.

“The Argument” – Fugazi


One of the songs referenced in the novel, right before the world they know, ends.

“In America” – forgetters


This song is the mission statement for the background machinations in the novel.

“End Times” – Eels


This one is obvious. This whole album was on heavy rotation during the creation process.

“Lampshades on Fire” – Modest Mouse


I like the feeling of this song. It feels like the way many of my characters would react. The worlds ending, so let’s party and let the smart people tell us what to do.

“Mansions of Los Feliz” – Eels


This one, like “Lampshades on Fire”, has a distinct disconnect between the subject matter and the feeling of the song.  That disconnect is something I worked on for the first-third of my novel.

“Parting Of The Sensory” – Modest Mouse


The last section of the novel, at the camp, was written with this song in the background.

“I’m So Tired” – Fugazi


The main characters overall feeling throughout the novel, until the end.

“Mid-Day Anonymous” – Jets To Brazil


A preview of things to come and The Ending is Everything.

 

 

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An interview with author, Aaron M. Carpenter. Me.

July 10, 2017

When I was first asked to sit down for an interview, my first thought was, “who would want to interview me?” But, I pushed my lack of hubris aside and decided to go for it. Then on a Sunday in July, the interviewer arrived, and I was struck by his lack of height. His thin hair. The LA Kings shirt… Hey wait, that’s me. Am I interviewing myself? Damn. My mind has broken. The stress of publishing has taken its toll.

I decided to go ahead with the interview.

Interviewer: So, it’s a pleasure to meet you.

Author: Likewise.

Both Author and Interviewer sit on opposite sides of a white, plastic table. In the center of the table is one lamp, with a black base and a white lampshade, casting a warm, dirty, spotlight on the Author. The Interviewer proceeds to pull out a black notebook from a brown bag, which clashes with his LA Kings t-shirt. The Author, meanwhile, wearing pajama bottoms and a black t-shirt, leans back in his folding chair, brushes back his receding hairline and plops his feet, with black socks, one with a hole in them, on the table.

Interviewer: Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Author: Whatever you want chief.

Interviewer: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Author: That’s not easy to say. When I was a kid, I loved books, particularly the late eighties, early nineties, fantasy books. The Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms stories. I even wrote some fan fiction, before it would be considered fan fiction. But, even before that, in Elementary school, I wanted to be a writer. But, it only took a few decades later before I realized what that meant.

Interviewer: What do you mean?

Author: Well. I forgot. I got into film. I wanted to make movies. But, the emphasis was the same. I wanted to tell stories. Look, I already wrote a blog post about all this.

Interview: Ok then. Next question: How long did it take to write, The Ending is Everything?

Author: The whole process from beginning to publishing?

Interviewer: Whatever works for you?

Author: The first draft took about six months. But, there were years of daydreaming beforehand. Then another six months of polishing. Then two months final copyediting and all the publishing junk.

Interviewer: Such as?

Author: Cover design. Blurbs for the back. Interior design. That sort of stuff. In total it was about fourteen to sixteen months, from blank paper to published novel.

Interviewer: So, you don’t know exactly how long it took?

Author: There were quite a few start and stops at the beginning. So, the first draft could be anywhere between four to eight months, depending on when you wanted to start counting.

Interviewer: Fair enough. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Author: It depends. Since I am currently devoid of a real job, my day usually begins around eight in the morning. I get coffee. Browse YouTube, Facebook, look at e-mails. Then at nine, I put on my creative hat, and I either work on my blog, write a scene or, and this is the case most days, visualize the scene and work out what the scene should look like, yet don’t write anything down. At noon, I have lunch. Then from one to three, I go through the same process of writing or daydreaming. Then at three, I spend an hour reading or so. Four, I take the dog for a walk, if weather permits. Then spend the rest of the evening hanging out with the family. At eleven in the evening, I sit back down at my computer and write until I can’t write no more.

Interviewer: So, is it fair to say, you do most of your writing late in the evening?

Author: Yes. Like David Hasselhoff, I am a night writer.

The Interviewer gives a slight chuckle, while the Author laughs hysterically at his own joke, banging his fist on the plastic table.

Interviewer: How did your book get published?

Author: I published it myself. Self-published. Indie publishing.

Interviewer: Why?

Author: Well, it’s in my DNA. As a big fan of punk music and the ethics of DIY, it felt natural to go that route. Also, I didn’t want to go through the whole publishing grind. Finding an agent. Selling the book to a publisher. All that stuff. It would take at least another year before anyone would see the book.

Interviewer: But, isn’t it true, that the book would have been more polished and professional if you went with a traditional publisher?

Author: No doubt. But, I am not writing War and Peace here. The Ramones could’ve signed to a major label and spent millions to produce their first album, and it would’ve sounded better. But, it wouldn’t change the music or meaning of the music. It would’ve just sounded cleaner, which may have taken away some of the effect of the album.

Interviewer: That sounds like just an excuse, not to have to deal with rejection.

Author: But, that’s how I looked at it.

Interviewer: Where do you get your information or ideas for your novel?

Author: The idea has stirred in my head for years. It came down to two stories I thought of and an old screenplay, I wrote nineteen years ago with my friend, Steve. Basically, what if ordinary everyday people and their normal everyday drama, was destroyed by a terror attack in seconds. That idea turned into a screenplay for a T.V. show, where the whole first season was about a guy returning home from the Army, and trying to reconnect with the world around him. Then the nuclear bomb goes off at the end of the first season, which puts the whole season and drama into a different context.

Interviewer: How far along did you get writing the T.V. show?

Author: Not far. A couple episodes and the beginning of a Bible for the show.

Interviewer: A Bible?

Author: Yes. Every T.V. show has a bible that is a road map for the show as a whole. What it’s about? The themes. Where it’s going? That sort of thing.

Interviewer: Interesting. What does your family think of your writing?

Author: Besides, the language. I am sure they are fine with it.

Interviewer: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

Author: How much time you don’t spend writing. At least if you are an indie publisher. From a writing perspective, how the characters will take you in unexpected directions.

Interviewer: Can you give an example?

Author: Well when I started, I had an idea of what would happen. The bomb. The government reaction. That sort of thing. But, I let the characters tell me their reaction. I did my best not to force the characters into situations, just for drama or action purposes. The external forces were pretty much mapped out. But, the character reactions, I tried to be as honest and accurate to the characters as possible.

Interviewer: So, you didn’t outline the novel beforehand?

Author: Yes and no. I outlined the dates and when the external, non-character moments were to happen. But, besides that. Not much outlining.

Interviewer: Why write it in the first-person?

Author: Well, since this was my first novel, I wanted to constrain myself. This story could spiral out of control if it was in third-person and jumped around to multiple characters. Also, I like the intimacy of the first-person. One of my favorite novels is War of the Worlds, which is told in the first-person and was a huge influence.

Interviewer: Interesting. You like War of the Worlds?

Author: You don’t?

Interviewer: I only saw the movie.

Author: Which one, the fifties one or Tom Cruise?

Interviewer: Tom Cruise.

Author: That explains it.

Interviewer: On the subject of good and bad entertainment, what do you think makes a good story?

Author: Hmm. That’s a tough one. I can only answer for myself.

Interviewer: Of course.

Author: For me, it’s a combination of characters, purpose, and honesty.

Interviewer: Can you elaborate?

Author: Maybe. Let me see. Well, most novels, movies, plays and any other type of fiction are a combination of the following elements: Setting, Characters, Plot, Theme/Story and Prose. Prose is another way to say; how is the story told? And when you are writing or making a film, or producing a play or whatever it is you are doing. You have to prioritize these elements. Now, if you are a genius and can knock all of them out of the ballpark, more power to you. But, as the mere mortal that I am, I need to concentrate on the elements that mean the most to me while telling the story. So, for my novel, I focused on Characters, Theme/Story, Plot, Prose and then Setting. In that order. And that is where the honesty comes in. You have to be honest with yourself when creating. What means the most to you? What do you like? Now, if someone else wrote this exact same story. They may have: Plot, Setting, Characters, Prose and Theme/Story, in that order. Which would create a completely different novel. In fact, if you look up post-apocalyptic novels on Amazon you will see hundreds of different novels with a similar story, yet are vastly different. At least, I hope mine is different.

Interviewer’s eyes are closed, his head hangs low, and a brazen snore reverberates the plastic table. Author bangs his hand on the table.

Author: Did you get any of that?

Interviewer (rubbing his eyes): Sure. Got it all. So what are you currently working on?

Author: I am working on a short story, or novella, or novel. I haven’t decided yet. I will see where it takes me. Tentatively titled: A Man. A Dog. An Apocalypse.

Interviewer: Another apocalypse novel?

Author: Yes.

Interviewer: Any relation to The Ending is Everything?

Author: Yes. In television terms it would’ve been the B or C story.

The Interviewers head bobs down to his chin and his eyes close.

Author: You need a nap?

Interviewer: No. I’m fine.

Author: Is that it?

Interviewer: That’s it.