Tag Archive: Thirty Decibels


Song (via Undead Poets Society)

Another new poem on Undead Poets Society.
This one’s adapted from scenes in Thirty Decibels, and is my humble attempt at writing about singing.
I hope you enjoy!

[Listen to “Icarus”]

Mild tones
Hum, almost hover
In clumsy, oversized air we sing
We know Icarus like our own names

Over a grounding line
The duet
Sounds like taking off
Flying

Two unison voices
Hard to hold
Like steady wings
Make it only more beautiful

Choir comes in
Airy ahhhs push the two aloft
Every chord
A new puzzle to fit

But listen.
LISTEN.
If you don’t: Forget it.

The path might
Put you at odds on purpose
Collision-course clash
The next note’s only sweeter

When you listen,
Fall into that space
Click: you’re hooked
For life

Read More

via Undead Poets Society

Alternate Version Blogfest (Thirty Decibels)

And… I’m spent.

Here’s my entry in Livia Blackburne’s Alternate Version Blogfest. Livia had tweeted about it nearly a month ago, but until yesterday I was coy about signing up. I knew trying a different writing style would be a worthwhile writing exercise, but I had a case of write-fright. Operative word: “had.”

Check it out!

First off, the original passage. It’s a short flashback from my work-in-progress, a YA eco-dystopian social sci-fi:

After a rehearsal months ago, when Ben and me were the last stragglers, Mr. Campo’s deft fingers fluttered in romantic sweeps up and down the keys. The tuner had just visited that day, like hundreds of times before. Her handiwork didn’t need testing. The song wasn’t one we were working on. Campo didn’t smile or wink while he played, but his exaggerated movements and uncharacteristic sound gave his goofing around away. Like someone with no life, he was poking fun at my crush. I couldn’t flee the room fast enough, feeling an intense blush rise to my face like one of those mercury thermometers.

Now, I’ll try a bit of an older style. Lit lovers, can you tell me which author I’m attempting to channel?:

I was struck by two keys, among a sounding board rung at times by the most fiery of passions; two keys which, though ceremoniously un-Thelonious-Monk-like (were they so, they would have been followed by an awkward pause in which the listener is meant to reflect on his  interpretation of their musicality), they had a tinkling almost innate in their lightest pressing, triggering an entirely disproportionate reverberation in my foggy, hormone-addled head. The notes, whether the shift from one to the other, or the other to one, stopped time; with the g-force of a screeching halt before ratcheting back and gunning it in reverse to some moment formerly trapped in some deep cerebellar hiding-place. But no; how could it have been buried so far from previous reach? The moment, suddenly present and playing out in my mind’s eye, occurred only a few months ago.

The sound called forth another Tuesday afternoon entirely, when my choir director Mr. Campo worked his hands along the keys (as he often has occasion: at the ends of rehearsals, in a cutesy ditty hearkening to a “that’s the end of the show” wrap-up, or hands spanning octave-wide chords in vibrato: fabricated melodrama for laughter’s sake). No, this was the sound of mocking; of lilting fingers bringing to life the romantic interlude of which I daydream daily, the one pairing me with Ben (the boy who stands to my right, who laughs and smiles in all the best ways, at all the best times, like someone with whom I could sit and enjoy a cup of lime-flower tea when we’re 80). Throughout such an ignoble display of disrespect for young love, or at least infatuation, Campo’s hair waved around on his bobbing head with a not unnoticeable extra length; a common occurrence for the man. Like a tiny animal only hopping around on his cue, its waving added an absurdist dimension to the ridicule, only insult to injury since I normally enjoy the humor in such things. Albeit, there was some tiny comfort in imagining that while he was mocking me, his own hair was mocking himself. Still, what right does this man have (though he may know me well enough to read my every nonverbal cue, whether obvious or less so) to make such a comment with such facility as the sweeping, ironically weeping runs up and down those scales as if it were mere sport?

Ahhhh. That was oddly refreshing, probably because I’m quite think-y myself. (Maybe I’d like to be a brain scientist like Livia.)

Can you venture a guess at the author? Hint: using a flashback lent itself to a well-known excerpt of his.

Please drop your best guess in a comment below!
Hey, Chicago: First correct guess wins a free ticket to James Kennedy’s Dome of Doom (Order of Odd-Fish art show and battle-dance tournament at Chicago’s Collaboraction – Saturday night, April 17)!

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On Thursday: Alternate Version Blogfest

How I feel about Alternate Version Blogfest

I’ll be participating in Livia Blackburne’s Alternate Version Blogfest tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow! My teeth are chattering.

The gist is, I’ll take one passage from my work-in-progress and rewrite it in a different style/genre/author’s voice.

Livia is putting me through the ringer with this…. oh, wait. I’m the one who signed up. GAH! Silly me.

The scene I rewrite will likely be contemporary/universal subject matter even though Thirty Decibels (my WIP) is eco-dystopia/social sci-fi. (I could change my mind completely, though…)

Help me, readers: What style(s) should I take on for my alternate versions?

Please leave a suggestion below… Please?

Paragraph pride

Maybe it’s unhealthy to blog about a paragraph of progress, but with all the circumstances of today, I’m surprised I even wrung out a good sentence. [Circumstances: had a list of downtown pre-writing errands, no coffee until 2:45 pm, and my laptop screen has decided to be fritz-y indefinitely – I can only kind-of/sort-of read it at horsey resolutions.]

So, here goes. (Background: Thirty Decibels is first-person, from main character Ava’s POV. This takes place just before her coming-of-age ceremony.):

This is really it. Maybe there’s something we should say now, but in my head I’m fast-forwarding to the relief of afterward. I don’t let on – it’s the kind of thing Michele might twist around and feel rotten about. So here, on a floral comforter whose pilled places are now alien under my fingers, I sit on the brink of adulthood: unprepared, stomach stuffed with dread and turning with awkward guilt. Perfect.

I added this paragraph to page two as part of a rewrite for emotion, which I began today. I hope I’m on the right track – it’s a tough one. Sometimes I feel I should go “Method” with it (I’m only half-kidding). Or maybe find a high school library to work in. My diaries are only so helpful; though the subject matter recalls what my high school boy obsessions days were like, I was surprisingly fact- and thought-based in recording them.

Writers, what are your methods for portraying emotion (or for inspiring it in your readers, if different)?

Update: My laptop screen’s back from the dead! And I meant to mention Livia Blackburne’s recent entry on this same topic. Excellent as always.

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