How to break bad Internet habits

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I have a love-hate relationship with the Internet. Before I had it, I used to write at least double the amount of words I write nowadays. Of course, it’s great for downloading music and always having something new to listen to. However, it is also home to: Facebook, pointless cat videos, newspaper sites, endless memes and plenty more time wasting activities. I find myself rotating aimlessly from Facebook to The Daily Mail (a newspaper I absolutely and completely loathe, yet compulsively peruse), Listverse and my emails. When I have finished one, I will begin the cycle again, while my manuscript remains forlorn and ignored.

I also find the internet increasingly depressing. People use it is a platform for complaining and bitching. Facebook is a manic depressive’s dream and newspaper sites are nothing but political propaganda. Cat videos are cute, but let’s face it, hardly inspiring. The memes of Grumpy Cat seem to encompass most of my feelings regarding the internet, these days. I have two Facebook profiles – my author one and my real-life one… most of the time, I prefer the author one because people are inspired, upbeat, hardworking and rarely complain. I like that.

Today, I am going to turn my internet off.  Yes. Off. By the router and force myself to go cold-turkey. Today I will have only CDs for musical company and no way to update followers and friends with inane thoughts or viral photographs. The Daily Mail can piss right off with their usual racism and tri-daily homage to Kim Kardashian. Today it’s going to be just me and my Word document, my loyal friend who is always waiting for me to return, to shower some attention upon her.

Facebook and everyone’s first world problems will still be there tomorrow, and who knows, I might even ignore them tomorrow, too!

31 day blog challenge (Day 5)

ImageTen songs you love right now

Music is a HUGELY evocative thing for me. I am one of those people who truly believes our lives are enriched by music – and I have big loves in all genres, from pop to classical, Hindi to jazz and instrumental. Picking TEN songs is almost impossible for me.  Still, I have picked a selection of songs I have been playing a lot recently, and that’s about as good as I can give you. Favorites, there are too many.

1: A Thousand Years by Christina Perri.

I simply LOVE the idea of reincarnation, and something about this song makes me think it is possible to live over and over for the chance of meeting that one special person.

I have died every day waiting for you, darling don’t be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years and I’ll love you for a thousand more.

2: When You Say You Love Me by Josh Groban

You are going to discover I am an outrageously romantic person. Most of my songs will have romantic or erotic musings behind them! This one, because I love the idea of loving so much that the world takes on higher meaning and importance.

When you say you love me, the world goes still, so still inside. When you say you love me, for a moment, I know why I’m alive.

3: Insatiable by Darren Hayes

Very sexy song. I have loved it since I was a teenager, dabbling in my first naughty writings. I always hoped there was such a thing as this kind of love making. There is!

Footsteps outside somewhere below, the world revolves I’ve let it go. We build our church above the streets, we practice love between these sheets. The candied-sweetness scent of you, it bathes my skin…I’m stained in you.

4: Jaadu Hai Nasha Hai (Ja-du hey na-sha hey)

This is a Hindi song from a famous movie called Jism. Please don’t laugh, westerners – in Hindi it means ‘body’ and NOT what we know it as! This song is incredibly emotive, even if you don’t speak the language. I even mentioned it in my first novel ‘Stolen Nights’. It means “It’s magic, a spell, intoxication” – which can refer to love or good sex. I like to think both!

5: Kaal Ho Na Ho

Another Hindi song from my huge collection. This is a sad song and translates as “If there is no tomorrow”. I think we can all infer what the song is about. Again, it’s a song that doesn’t require much – or any – knowledge of the Hindi language to feel the emotion behind it. I can sing all the lyrics to these songs and honestly feel like I know what it’s about. I suppose it’s like Italian opera, and not needing to speak Italian to feel what is happening.

6: If Walls Could Talkby Celine Dion

This is another very sexy song. I recommend listening to it the whole way through… and the story it tells about two people who want to keep their lovemaking a secret between themselves. It talks about how perfect their lovemaking is. I have listened to this song on repeat. The lyrics are simply wonderful.

These walls keep a secret that only we know, but how long can they keep it – ‘cause we’re two lovers, who lose control. We’re two shadows chasing rainbows, behind closed windows, behind closed doors. If walls could talk, they would say I want you more, they would say ‘hey… never felt like this before’ and that you will always be the one for me.

Two people, making memories, just too good to tell… and these arms are never empty when we’re lying where we fell.

7: River Flows in You by Yiruma

This is an instrumental piano piece by a South Korean pianist. I think it was something to do with the Twilight movies… I could be wrong. But it’s such a mellow, gentle tune and very romantic. I love almost anything played on a piano anyway, but this is great. It’s also really good remixed into a dance track. Who would have thought it!

8: Why This Kolaveri Di by Dhanush

This is a part English part Tamil song from a Tamil film. I’ve mentioned it before in another blog post. It became a viral hit across the globe, spurning flash-mob dancing in Australia, UK and US. It’s a song about a lovelorn boy singing about a fair-skinned girl who has broken his heart. It is sung mostly in English but with a heavy Tamil accent. This means the singer – Dhanush – adds a heavy ‘uu’ sound to the end of his words. ‘White-u skinned-u girl-u” for example. I don’t know why, but the accent makes it better! The title translates to “Why this murderous rage, girl?”

9: Hanging by a Moment – Lifehouse

This is another romantic song. I listened to this as an angst-ridden teenager, and just thought the lyrics were beautiful. I kind of liked the rock-y beat to it as well.

I’m falling even more in love with you, letting go of all I’ve held on to. I’m standing here until you make me move, I’m hanging by a moment here with you…

10: Ai se eu te pego – Pitbull and Michel Telo –

It just has really, really good memories for me. When it plays, I remember feeling happy and with music, you can’t wish for much more than that.

I feel guilty for not including Michael Bublé in this – because I love EVERYTHING he sings. So a special mention to him, for all the hours of pleasure and joy his wonderful voice has given me!

Finished!

I found myself lying on my bed yesterday, doing nothing besides scrolling through my phone (for the millionth time) checking Facebook statuses. I was disheartened, demotivated and discouraged. Out of the blue, one of my friends posted a comment on my profile asking why I had not written any motivational status updates in a while. (In early January I was feeling the New Year love and was especially productive!) 

I was encouraged by her small words, and immediately got off my bed, made a cup of tea and started writing. Four thousand words later, I was finally finished a story I had been working on for a good while. With the radio on in the background, playing an array of my favourite love songs, I was suddenly inspired.

Today I am beginning my first edits on the piece, will give it a proper title, write a synopsis and will submit it to my editor! 

Feeling good!

Setting my mood….

Irish instruments!

I will soon be starting a short story set in Ireland. Details to follow.

 

Whenever I sit down to write, I always select music that best sets my mood. Whilst writing ‘Stolen Nights’ my audio player had a continuous loop of instrumental Indian music (sitars and tablas), and a random collection of Hindi and Tamil pop. Then, if I was writing about New York, I would play jazz and Michael Bublé because those are the songs that most remind me of the time I spent there. I love music, as I have mentioned before. It is remarkable how my mood can be set by it, and how I can be transported from my desk at home to an exotic location just by the beat of a drum or the strum of an Indian sitar.

 

In preparation for writing about Ireland, I already have a whole playlist selected. For example, the whole score to the movie Titanic is filled with interesting hints of Celtic music – the eerie melancholy, the haunting notes. I enjoy being able to vividly imagine places based on the music I am listening to – and I suppose a healthy imagination helps, too! Sometimes I wonder where my writing would be without music because, when I think about it, there is always something playing in the background when I am pottering away at the keyboard. Sometimes I don’t hear it at all, but it’s always there.

 

Right now, I am listening to some classical. Who knows what inspired that notion! I definitely think I have the most random and varied taste in music. Upon looking through my track listing, I discovered I have songs in: English, French, Tamil, Hindi, Spanish, Italian and even one song in the most obscure language Konkani – and those obviously don’t include the instrumental ones! I sense that some Irish ones will be installed shortly!

 

I’m off to plot and plan now, and maybe get some writing done! 🙂

 

Love,

Rea x

Things I want in a hero…

Heeelllloooo....

Let me express that I am being incredibly shallow here, okay? I’m not trying to be profound. I think we all have a bit of shallowness in us, don’t we? Let’s not lie… we enjoy romantic heroes in movies because they look damn good. For example, in my novel Stolen Nights, I have always said if I could pick any man to play him in a movie (yeah, I was dreaming big, but it’s always good to have a solid image) I would pick the incredibly attractive (drool worthy…) Indian actor John Abraham. (See picture). However, aside from an astoundingly good bone-structure and eyes that imply all the naughty things he’d like to do, there are a few other things I want my hero to have:

 

1: A good dress sense. I like a man who wears a tie. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is because power is implied, and there is something sexy about a man who is in command, knows what he wants, isn’t submissive etc. I also love a  man in a suit – and not just the first ill-fitting suit he can find, but a well tailored suit that hangs upon his shoulders as though Rapunzel spun the threads herself. The tie should be silk, the shirt fine cotton. Dunno why.

 

2: Good shoes. I have an interest in shoes, even on men. The shoes should definitely do the fine suit justice. No point in ruining a good piece of attire with bad kicks, right?

 

3: Languages. A man should speak them. The more the better. I like an intellectual man – a reader, a learner and therefore the more languages in a hero’s arsenal, the better. His appeal goes up the harder the language is to speak. My boyfriend speaks Malayalam, which is his mother-tongue. You can see what that particular language looks like in the photograph. It is as complex when spoken verbally as it is when it is written down. Sometimes when my boyfriend speaks, I imagine there are no spaces between the words. If I wanted to say

I have literally no idea what it says...

“I don’t speak Malayalam” then phonetically, it would look something like this: “Enikku ‘Malayalam’ samsaarikkan ariyilla”. Now… if I was able to say that without too much strenuous activity for my tongue, wouldn’t I be able to speak Malayalam anyway, making the whole phrase a moot point?

 

4: Play a musical instrument. The piano or the cello, preferably. I love music and I cannot imagine living in a world without it. These two instruments can evoke so many emotions in me, so if my John Abraham look-alike hero was able to play an instrument then he would be the ultimate bloke, really. If I had to pick, I’d say the cello. There’s a brooding, seriousness to the cello that would make my handsome hero so much more mysterious.

 

So what about you? What do you like in a romantic hero? Or gentlemen, a heroine? (I sense the men will have less requirements than us ladies!)

 

Much love,

Rea x

 

 

The Forbidden Fruit

The Forbidden Fruit...

The below posting is a little romantic musing I had one night while listening to a song. I enjoy writing about things spontaneously… just getting an idea and going with it, not really knowing where it will end up. I am quite a sensual person – smells and tastes evoke memories in me very easily and I try to incorporate that in the things I write. Normally when I write, I get a fragmented idea – some part in the middle or a really good ending, but in this case, the first line of the piece was literally the first line that came into my head. I liked the wordplay, so I went with it. Afterwards, I thought it could make a really good novel — but then I decided to go with my first instinct (my mother always says to trust my first instincts) and leave it as it is.  I hope you like it.

* * * * *

The first bite of the forbidden fruit tasted like cherry.

 

I had often imagined that first, succulent kiss, in the long, sleepless hours between dusk and dawn.  I had thought coffee, perhaps – lingering on his tongue, laced with the sweet subtly of two sugars.  Or maybe mint, the peppery scent of which had sometimes fanned across my cheeks when he leaned too close.  Or, if the first, inevitable taste of the fruit came after a night of reckless abandon, possibly his kiss would be flavoured with the unique zest of aniseed, after three or four Sambuca shots.

As his lips touched mine, with the tentative delay of someone who was either wrestling with their conscience, or desperate to savour every measurable unit of time, I realised I had never guessed cherries.

I knew I would forever more associate the scent with him, and the illicit moment when we stood in the drizzly, January rain at three in the morning.  I would forever hear the reverberating thud of the nightclub music, pulsing along the street from the open doors.  I would feel the rhythm of techno music in my chest, beating in tandem with my reckless heart.

I would always be able to conjure the glint of conflict in his eyes, as he grappled with the insistent needle of doubt.  We two were not meant to be a grand romance, but a fleeting occurrence one semi-drunken night on a rain-slicked street.  Our moment was not meant for the observation deck of the Empire State Building, on beneath the epic shadow of the Eiffel Tower.  As his eyes searched mine, turbulent with desperation, I knew that he understood this – and that knowing we could never be anything more made the moment a necessity.

When he kissed me, our bodies were inches apart, so afraid were we that touching would break the spell – that months spent imagining this moment into reality would be for nothing, as the true repercussions shattered the delicate chemistry holding us together.  The sweet taste of cherries, then, made me kiss him deeper, to savour the essence on my tongue – to memorise it with the awareness that it would never happen again.

My knuckles hurt with the effort of clenching my fists, so that the urge to touch his prickly cheeks, or sink my fingers into the midnight strands of his hair, would not become victorious in the game my conscience was playing.  This man was not mine – not mine to kiss and definitely not mine to touch.  Despite the possession of our mouths, I reconciled my integrity by convincing myself that if I didn’t touch him, we had not trespassed into forbidden territory.

Then, when his fingers slid along the back of my neck, into the rain-soaked tendrils of my hair, the fraying cord of my restraint snapped under the weight of my yearning.  Our bodies crashed together – my arms around him, his around me, binding us in a cocoon with a rampant vortex of lust that was rapidly spinning out of control.

I wanted to believe it was the tequila coursing through my veins, mixed with a heady dose of adrenaline, but I knew it would not have mattered; sober or drunk, I would have grasped at this moment every single time.  In fact, it was a miracle that it had taken eight whole months to get here.  I had been in too deep the first moment he had made some innuendo, and looked at me with eyes that could see into the darkest, most forbidden part of my mind.  Eyes that could recognise the truth I had tried so hard to deny: that I wanted him more than I had wanted anyone or anything in all my life.

All too soon, the moment ended and I began to process every minute detail of the seconds just past.  I heightened every one of my senses, absorbing each with the precision of a forensic detective trawling a crime scene.

I knew I would miss nothing, and when I climbed into my bed, alone and cold from the rain, I would lie in the darkness and replay our kiss – over and over until exhaustion claimed me.

When I woke up, I would want him again and knowing he could never be mine would create a void – a deep, empty, bottomless vacuum of despair – and I would wish I could forget every detail I had tried so very hard to remember.

Trashed!

Where the rejects end up!
I’m a fickle person when it comes to my writing. Every story I start I think ‘this is IT, this can be amazing’ then I start to question myself, nitpick and move on to the next story – repeat cycle. It’s surprising how quickly my mind can change in regards to this and it can be very frustrating and unproductive. Tonight I started a new quick-fiction story that I aim to have finished very shortly. I was up early this morning (a rarity for me as I usually stay awake until 4am and sleep until noon), so it’s felt like a long but productive day. Maybe there’s something to this early-morning malarkey. I’m not fully convinced, though… for example, the dark mornings are murderous. It was after 9am before the sun crested the mountains today. It was dark by 4.30pm. Grim, grim, grim!

Of course the dire wintry weather is a good excuse to stay in jammies, heat a hot-water bottle and write with a cup of tea. I disconnected my internet again – it works for me, stops me wasting time and is definitely going to be my default writing mode from now on. The heater was blasting, the music truly deafening and lo-and-behold, I got 3000 words written in a few hours!

Tomorrow my target is 5000. Optimistic?

Watch this space!

Much love,
Rea x

Delving into New Genres

I see fields of green...
Having managed now to turn off ‘Why This Kolaveri Di?’ for ten minutes and play a different song (Tauba Tauba from the film Kaal – Hindi, this time) I find I am able to concentrate some more on my writing. I have all these ideas, scenes and developments in my plot etc. that I just want to get down as fast as I can. Sometimes my brain won’t play ball, and I get frustrated. Tonight I have decided to chillax, burn some incense (I do that a lot!) and just flippin’ concentrate! I’m working on a tentatively titled “Keepers of the Henge” – a futuristic sci-fi, time-traveller, shape-shifty kind of story. A wee bit of a hodgepodge of ideas that I am hoping will work. It’s not usually a genre I work with, but I’m rather enjoying the challenge.

The primary setting for this one is Ireland. I am from Northern Ireland myself, so this is a country I am more than slightly acquainted with and yet a place I rarely write about in stories. I always remember that Meave Binchey said to ‘write what you know’, but I always shied away from writing about my homeland as it seemed too real to be fictional. I’ve grown out of that phase, and I feel somewhat more comfortable in writing about it now. Watch this space – if I’m lucky, my next book cover will show fields of green!

Songs you can’t get out of your head!

Singer/Songwriter of Why This Kolaveri Di, Dhanush
It’s happened to all of us, hasn’t it? Someone sings a few lines from THAT song you’ll have stuck in your head all day long. Sometimes – most of the time – it probably isn’t even a song you like! For me, it’s a new Tamil song that has went viral in YouTube called “Why This Kolaveri Di?” – which means “Why this murderous rage, girl?” It’s written in a Tanglish, which is mostly English sung with a heavy Tamilian accent – i.e. ending every English word with an ‘uu’ sound. It was sent to me by my fiancé, who is Indian, and now if I’m not playing the damn song, I’m singing it over and over. I think the songwriter, a Tamil actor called Dhanush (who also performs the song) was a genius in writing it – the lyrics are catchy and simple, even the Tamil words. I’m hooked and apparently so are the 19.5 million other people who have watched this bloody thing on repeat!

Check it out. Curse me later.