What’s All the Hoopla About?


So, I’m a little late today as I got up a bit later than normal.  I would normally do the blog either during breakfast or shortly afterwards, but today (in addition to picking up my car–yay!) I needed to reset my password to Hoopla, a service that my home public library, Chattanooga Public Library subscribes to and that I have access to by being a member.

What is Hoopla?

Hoopla is a streaming service that is more than just a traditional streaming service.  It allows you to borrow (for my institution) 10 items per month.  Notice that I said, items, not movies or TV shows.  It does have movies and television, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.  However, it also has comics/graphic novelsebooksaudiobooks, and music (!).  I’ve used it before and really liked it.  What it lacks in terms of terms of hit releases (very few major releases), it makes up with breadth–there are a lot of good genre materials embedded within each of the categories.

Summer Hoopla

So, while I’ve got a ton of work to do over the summer, in terms of getting ready for my summer classes this summer, I’m going to try to catch up on reading some of the comics/graphic novels (& books) that I’ve put off over the school year.  They have quite a few Marvel graphic novels, Star Wars, Star Trek, and other properties (again, books and graphic novels, mostly, not so much with movies/television).  Still, now that I trying to integrate Popular Culture into my scholarship as a Pop. Culture scholar, I actually need some pop. culture to go with my scholarship.

I would encourage you to check out Hoopla if your library has a subscription.  If not, then you might want to see if your library has something similar.  It is a really useful service that I plan to investigate more over this summer.


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“Just Show Up”

Training to Write

This will be a shorter blog post today–it is “Study Day” where there are no classes, but I want to use the day to catch up on reading and schoolwork.

“Just Show Up” is what Desiree Linden, the first American to win the women’s race in the Boston Marathon in 33 years, told a reporter in an NPR interview after the race.  Desiree tells how training wasn’t going well and that some days felt great and some days felt less great, and goes on to explain that she told herself to “just show up” and on the day of the race, to “just show up for one more mile.”  This is exactly the sentiment that we as writers and that myself in particular need to hear.

Writing to Train

One of the things that Desiree Linden said in the interview that really spoke to me as a writer was that her training phase was particularly brutal (as was the race with the poor weather conditions).  She said that some days the training “flowed” and went to plan, but that some days it was really difficult and arduous.  She, however, decided to stop thinking about it so much and to just “show up.”  She has a Twitter mantra that says that she makes a choice every day “show up” and that she needs to stop worrying about what the day gave her and to just “show up.”  This is so applicable to me and my writing life because too often, the writing doesn’t “flow” like I want it, or rejections come that are out of my control.  Like Desiree, I just need to “show up” for each writing project and enjoy the process.  Her crossing the finish line was an accomplishment and winning the race was a victory.  I need to make finishing projects my accomplishment and publication (which is out of my control except to write the best story I can) my victories.

Music Makes the Medicine Go Down

One thing that I noticed was that she had a strong love of music–it begins and ends the NPR story.  Finding a strong musical choice can help motivate you and give you the inner strength and energy to “show up.”  I’ve noticed that I don’t write to music as much as I use too (the room is silent right now even as I type these words).  I’m going to have to get back to giving myself a musical boost if I want to follow Desiree Linden’s example and “Just Show Up.”

Have a great day!



They Call Me, Mr. Lobot


Image Source: Star Wars

Earlier this spring, just after school was out for summer, I found myself wanting a pair of bluetooth headphones.  My wired headphones (Sony) lasted quite a while, but finally went to the great headphone round-up in the sky some time ago.  I’ve found that, for some odd reason, my engagement with my writing improves when I’m listening to music.  It improves tenfold when I can shut out everything else with headphones and just become one with the music.  My uncle was HUGELY into classical music and every afternoon and evening when I came home from school, I did my homework with music playing in the background.  I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not a dancer and I don’t think that I can dance (I only move in time with the music; I’m not sure that on any planet where there’s human habitation could you even begin to call what I do dancing–probably not on any alien planet, either, but I digress).

As an adult, I’ve found that I use music sporadically–sometimes I put it on and the projects seem to go much better, smoother, and easier.  Sometimes, either I feel I don’t need it, I’m not in the mood, or (like previously) I don’t have the right equipment (i.e., no headphones) and I’m not nearly as effective as I once was in writing (& then I wonder why nothing comes/or I can’t get to come out the way I see it in my mind–go figure).  I really wanted a pair of Apple Airpods, but they were too expensive at the time and were going to take six weeks to ship, so I looked on Amazon and found a pair that I really liked and that were fairly cheap as I plan to get Airpods later in the year.


Image Source: Apple

So I bought a pair of Senso Active Bluetooth Headphones (pictured below).  However, I didn’t realize that the bluetooth earphones were as big as they were.  When I put them in and then looked at myself in the mirror (with my bald head), I discovered a distressing fact: I looked like Lobot from Star Wars: Episode 5 – The Empire Strikes Back.  For this reason, I’ve not really worn them for any length of time until today.  Today I discovered just how much that I’ve missed the music and how much music plays a role in my writing/creativity.  All those years of listening to classical music during the school year and doing my homework and all those years of jumping around to WJTT Power 94 in the summer has really “wired” (or perhaps “re-wired” my brain) as I seem to enjoy a boost to creativity to my writing when I’m listening to music and it is a palpable increase.  Even as I write these words, looking for all the world like Lobot, music is coursing through my ears into my brain and the words are flying out of my mind and on to the computer screen.  My bloody fingers can’t even keep up; if it wasn’t for auto-correct, then this post would be filled with typos.

Senso Active Bluetooth Headphones_Amazon

Image Source: Amazon.com

The point I’m trying to make is that even though I look foolish, the boost in creativity (& hopefully productivity) is well worth it.  So call me, Mr. Lobot.

Writing to Music (Chronicles of Narnia Soundtrack)

chronicles of narnia

I’m in the middle of writing “Project Light.”  Literally, I’m right in the middle of the project.  It will have 5 total sections and I’ve completed two of them and I’m at the midway point of section 3.  To say that it has been an long hard journey would be an understatement.  For the reasons why, please check the blog entry before this one and it should give you some context for why this story has 1) been floating in my mind for a while and 2) why it isn’t nearly as easy to write as something like Here Be Monsters.

To make the journey easier, I’ve gone back to doing something that I’ve done for a while, but discarded–picking a movie soundtrack and writing the story based on the “feeling” that I get from the soundtrack.  When I write, I try to pick (sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously) the soundtrack that I own (& I buy quite a few per year) that best matches the “tone” of the story.  Now, I should probably clarify: when I say soundtrack, that refers really to the film’s score and any additional tracks that may come with it.  Actually, songs/soundtracks (music with words) aren’t really that helpful to me as the words of the songs generally get into my way when I’m actually composing/drafting my work.  I do find some songs useful sometimes as they establish the “tone” that I’m going for (light, dark, dramatic, playful), but when I’m actually writing the work, I only want to accompanying music so that I can find the right words to illustrate the “picture” that I see in my mind’s eye.

Setting the Tone

I thought for this entry I would choose 2-3 of my favorite tracks and link to them.  First, I think it is important to show what purpose they music plays in my writing and second, I’d like to show how picking the right music can help you by putting you in the right frame of my mind.

WARNING: These are YouTube videos and (usually) begin to play right away.  While they ARE appropriate (no bad language), if you have the volume all the way up or you are at work or school and could get into trouble for watching/listening to videos, you may want to turn the volume down or wait until you get home to listen to these tracks.

Winter Light by Tim Finn

chronicles of narnia

This is the first track that I start up and it establishes the “mood” of “Project Light.”  There is a melancholy timbre to the track that I think works great for the project.  The words, however, are ultimately hopeful.  That is what I hope to portray in the story–a sort of melancholy hopefulness that says, “hey, everything is pretty awful right now, but keep striving and things could be better.”

The Battle by Harry Gregson-Williams

chronicles of narnia

This is my go to piece when I’m writing a battle scene or exciting action scene.  I like the slow build-up to the thunderous music, but right in the middle after the choir finishes, there is a section that is just genius.  The music builds a second time and there is a moment when all the orchestra and choir drops out and you are left with just percussion and horns that really inspires me and pushes me deeper into the story.  Every time I hear that section, its like the picture in my mind crystalizes and I can see it perfectly and it’s just up to my fingers to find the correct words to get it down into the computer before it fades away.  (I’m listening to it as I type these very words and even after hearing the music all week, this song still gives me chills.)

Can’t Take It In by Imogen Heap

chronicles of narnia

This one I use because I simply like the music.  It has a hopefulness, that unlike Winter Light, is completely free on melancholy.  This one reminds me of the wonder of writing, or creating, of bringing something that existed only in my mind to fruition.  It also helps to remind me of the wonder of Science Fiction and Fantasy.  There is a graceful expression of the joy the genre brings to me when it is done correctly.

There are many other fine tracks on the soundtrack.  If you are interested, you can find the whole soundtrack in many places.  I just wanted to illustrate a tool that I’m using to help me finish “Project Light.”  I hope you enjoy the songs!