so you think you can ride that chocobo

The past few weeks have been nothing but work, editing, and playing FF13-2 whenever I felt sick of the other two – so it’s been pretty quiet on the Lannie side.

Just before Christmas I received my first 80 pages of material for editing and the request to completely rewrite the ending. I basically had to retcon a character death that had been in my heart for the past six years and it’s been very heavy going. While I now realise that it’s for the better that she lives and the whole thematical character arc might be better, I had this hugely impacting, tragic and painful ending, and I had to change that. I am so very terrified that people will feel like it was a cop-out, that I didn’t *dare* to go into that darkness, that I feel pretty shitty about the whole deal, even though I feel like i did manage to put in some very clear emotional punches there. It’ll yank on the feels, I hope, it’s just less heavy on the devastation.

Apart from that it’s been re-read, edit, edit the edits, re-read, edit, rinse & repeat on most of the story. We’re now at the last 50 pages and I’ve read this story so many times now that I am sick of it. Thankfully my proofreaders are amazing and they help me lots, and my editor is nothing short of fantastic, and I don’t get why I’m whining because I am living the dream, aren’t I? But it’s the third week of January, work is busy, the additional workload of editing is heavy (srsly i’m making 60 hour workweeks right now, when you add the edits to my normal workload) and I guess I’m just a bit tired.

I’m unwinding by playing FF13-2, which is basically my reward system. While the plot is shakey and has holes that you could drive a truck through and I want to stab Noel in the face, the battle system is lovely and the missions are fun, so I’m having huge amounts of fun anyway. The game doesn’t take itself hugely seriously (I am solving spacetime anomalies with puzzles that are a mix of connect-the-dots and memory) and the music is a mixed bag of awful (the jpoppy soundtrack) and amazing (the battle sequences and the crazy chocobo theme), but it’s fun enough. It keeps me off the streets.

Having said that, next week we’re off to Conception. I am SO ready for a vacation :D

2014 questionnaire

1) Where did you begin 2014?
In my overcrowded livingroom, surrounded by friends popping champagne, blasting Tall Ships’ “T=0″ through the speakers.

2) What was your status by Valentine’s Day?
Married

3) Were you in school (anytime this year)?
Nope. I’m done with that for a while I hope.

4) How did you earn your money?
By working ;)

5) Did you have to go to the hospital?
yes, to get surgery on the lump in my neck.

6) Did you have any encounters with the police?
yes. I ran a red light :(

7) Where did you go on vacation?
Three times to south west England. Once for Conception, once for ArcTangent festival, and once to Indiecon. But they were all short three/four day trips… we haven’t really had a long vacation this year.

8- What did you purchase that was over $1000?
Um…. nothing, I think.

9) Did you know anybody who got married?
Derek & Moqi, my mother and her boyfriend.

10) Did you know anybody who passed away?
Thankfully not.

12) Did you move anywhere?
Nope! Nuttyville ftw (so far)

13) What concerts/shows did you go to?
So. Frigging. Many! I love it :D
– Long Distance Calling @ 013
– 65daysofstatic @ Tivoli
– Amon Amarth @ Tivoli
– ArcTangent Festival @ Compton Martin, UK. featuring Maybeshewill, Tall Ships, Russian Circles, This Will Destroy You, God Is An Astronaut, Year Of No Light, EF, And So I Watch You From Afar, Nordic Giants, etc.
– TesseracT & Animals As Leaders @ Boerderij
– Maybeshewill & Flood Of Red @ Patronaat
– The Gaslight Anthem @ Heineken Music Hall

14) Where do you live now?
still Nuttyville – near the Hague in the Netherlands

15) Describe your birthday
Gorgeous weather, BBQ, friends, and getting stoned at 3pm while sitting next to the firepit.

16) What have you done in 2014 that you’ve never done before in your life?
– won fantastels storycontest
– held my published book in my hands
– signed and sold my own book
– signed a contract for my second book to be published
– took to the skies in a hot air balloon
– ran a red light & got a ticket for it
– traveled to Prague, Czech Repulblic, to work at a client site
– rode a ferry to the UK
– saw the cliffs of dover

17) What has been your favorite moment?
There are multiple moments!
– winning fantastels
– walking around at Castlefest all happy-like, feeling that this is my JAM!
– the Maybeshewill gig at ArcTangent
– have random strangers tell me that they really like my book
– flying in a hot air balloon with Olli
– photographing that amazing sunset at Scheveningen beach

18) What was the worst moment of the year?
a certain argument.

19) What lessons in life did 2014 teach you?
– just go for it! it might turn out better than you think.

20) Any new additions to your family?
my book! also, i gained a stepfather.

21) What was your best month?
April. Because Fantastels,and my book.

22) What music will you remember 2014 by?
Nordic Giants, Insomnium, Flood of Red

23) Who has been your best drinking buddy?
Olli and Brenda

24) Made new friends?
my author buddies at ZB

25) Favourite Night out?
it was actually a night IN, but the BBBQ

26) Will you end this year with the same mate you started it with?
Signs point to yes.

27) What are your plans and hopes for 2014?
Publishing my second book, Lots of writing, rocking out, loving and good times!

So now it’s time for the 2014 AWARDS:

Band of the Year:
Maybeshewill, Sleepmakeswaves, Flood of Red, Gaslight Anthem

Album of the Year:
Maybeshewill, “Fair Youth”.
Insomnium, “Shadows of the dying sun”

Movie of the Year:
“Her”. I also really enjoyed “Days of future past”

Festival of the Year:
ArcTangent.

Festival Concert of the Year:
Maybeshewill @ ArcTangent. Sorry, pg.lost!

non-Festival Concert of the Year:
Amon Amarth @ TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht

Best TV Series of the Year:
Game of Thrones, The Blacklist, Agents of Shield (it got better)

Best Book read this Year:
Brandon Sanderson, “Words of Radiance”, James S A Corey, “Cibola Burn”, Andy Weir, “The Martian”. It was a good year for reading. :)

end of year reflection 2014

Okay guys, I think we can say that 2014 was the year i fell out of love with blogging. Between my official author’s blog, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Telegram, i’ve found enough places to express myself. It goes even further than that… I just don’t share everything anymore. There are some things that have happened in the past two years that I’ve never talked about on my blog. And I’ve grown to think that this is fine. I’m not the twenty year old dramawhore that wants attention for her shit anymore. I’ve grown more comfortable with my life and my feelings. Not everything has to be public to be dealt with, you know.

Having said that, my end of year reflection is something that I do not want to quit. I’ve been doing this shit since I was seventeen and by god, i just want to remember things, you know? So some of the things I mention here will be recaps from earlier recaps. And other things will be reflections… because 2014 was a good, lovely year. It witnessed the birth of my first baby, my book. I won fantastels storycontest (still can’t believe that actually happened), I went to a gazillion events and signings, i worked on it’s sequel (and prequel), i hung out with fellow writers a lot – to the point where i had to skimp out on other social activities and i started working less (32hpw instead of 36), and next year is going to be more of the same. Because with book 2 coming out, all those events are going to be visited again. Same story, different year. It’s a good thing it’s goddamn enjoyable. :D

But apart from all the book stuff, let’s remember a couple of the other things i’ve done this year, things I’ll want to remember:

– We flew in a balloon together, Olli and me. From Beesd to some small village in Noord Brabant. It was really fun and not scary at all. The weather was beautiful – just a little hazy and we could see forever. We took some lovely pics and really enjoyed the views.

– Olli and I watched the most amazing sunset in the history of mankind, right here on the beach in Scheveningen. There was a violent thunderstorm rolling in right as the sun set and it was so beautiful. Bart remarked why it was so special, because the sun set every day, right? I told him ‘not like this’ and walked off to make pictures. Seriously, some people don’t appreciate the true beauty in the world. ;)

– The lump in my neck returned, and it was really bad this time – to the point where I had to take muscle relaxers and hardly slept for two weeks, culminating in me becoming a sobbing mess on one wednesday night. I had surgery on it and hopefully it’ll never return again.

– Spring was really lovely this year, so we did a BBBQ in May already, enjoying the lovely weather, BBQing and drinking interesting beers. Because that’s what we were doing: almost exactly after our Bijzondere Bier Bijeenkomst in 2004, we did one again. Only this time we actually had a yard to BBQ in, so we combined the two. Here’s to hoping the next one won’t take ten years.

– Olli was jobless until July, after which he returned to the company where he came from. He spent a lot of time cleaning the house and watching movies. The first four months of the year were kinda scary, because seriously NOTHING happened on the job front, but as April rolled around he suddenly got a lot of interviews, culminating in an offer in June. Yay! He’s been extended till December of next year, so we should be fine for a while.

– The football world cup happened, and that always takes up quite a bit of the summer. The Netherlands did very well, came in third – with a team that no one believed in beforehand. But the most sensational thing of course was the German team dominating the Brazilians with 7-1. OMG that was seriously fantastic :D

– We had a great day in Amsterdam with the lot of us, for Derek’s bachelor party. The Tijses created a fun competitive game which involved a lot of walking, mystery solving, some awesome betrayals (Olli was fan-tas-tic with his super secret friends group on telegram) and getting rained on. We then watched the world cup in a bar and got drunk :)

– ArcTangent happened, and with that killer lineup it was bound to be fantastic. It’s a shame the weather didn’t work along, but it was still more than worth it.

– Indiecon happened as well, during which Olli and I took it kinda easy. I skipped some RP slots to sleep in, hang out, and write on the prequel book. It was shite weather, so alas no roadtrips, but we had good times anyway – the RPs that we did were fun. :)

– Immediately upon return, I went to Prague for two days on a worktrip. Czech Airlines prompt lost my luggage, so I had to do a shopping trip at 7am in the morning at Tesco to get some representable clothes. Good thing I was wearing a pair of nice darkblue jeans and my suede boots already, so all I needed was a cute top (and deodorant, a toothbrush/paste and mascara, obviously). It was kinda stressful and I didn’t see too much of the city, but it was fun.

– After that work just became the maddest of madhouses. Training groups were overflowing, i had no time to breathe, and there was this roadshow event to prepare for as well. i have to admit that it was pretty cool to see myself with picture being announced on a 10×2 meter screen, and the presentation eventually went well enough but jesus fucking christ CEO boss mister, could you please fucking not do that in november anymore? Next time, plan that event in fucking February or June or whatever.

– i spent most of december being exhausted because of it, and bundled up with a FF7 replay that I enjoyed muchly. Of course just after buying FF13-2 and starting the game, i got my first set of edits back from my editor (and not just a little bit, 80 fucking pages)  as well as a request to kindly rewrite the whole fucking ending. THAT was an interesting experience, let me tell you that :’) it took some really heavy cognitive dissonance overcoming to be able to do that (the fact that it had been built around had been sitting in my head for SIX FUCKING YEARS), but i now managed to fix it and i am actually quite pleased with the new ending. And then again, yes, i needed to change the end. so what. i’ve already changed pretty much fucking everything about the story, so this could be changed as well. Seriously, it’s for the better.

– And! we suddenly had some snow, on the night of the 26th to the 27th of December. What the hell. Winter’s just started and we already had colder temperatures and more snow than we’ve had all winter before. Of course by now it’s all melted again and we have balmy 7C days again, but still :D

So that’s it, basically; those were my highlights of 2014. What is there to reflect upon? Stuff happened, and it was good. I had a great year that saw some fantastic achievements on the writing field, and good times with friends. Not enough music, but with all the great gigs I’ve got tickets for this winter and spring, that’s going to be thoroughly remedied in the new year.

Be good, kids. Let’s keep on rocking in the free world. I love you, and I’ll see you on the flipside. <3

my end of year songs

Every year, during the New Year’s Eve party, we all choose a song as our End of Year song; the song that we want to close the year with. It can be a song that just summarises your year, that you love the most at the moment, or that expresses your hope for next year, or just because you want to let everybody hear it. We’ve been doing this for thirteen years straight now and it’s become a tradition.

I may have chosen my end of year song by now, but as has become another tradition, I wanted to share the songs with you that didn’t make it, because they’re awesome. I’m starting out with the songs in random order at first, and when we get to the top five or so, the list will be ordered.

So here’s my list… in no particular order, until we get to the top 5!
Let’s start out with Mutiny On The Bounty – “North Korea”. These guys played on ArcTangent festival and were really awesome! I heard of them when the ATG organisers tipped them off with ‘if you like And So I Watch You From Afar…’ which is understandable, because it sounds like it. I frigging LOVE those furious guitars and the quick rhythm changes. (genre: math-rock).

My end of year list this year is a bit more metal than the one from 2013. There are quite a few metal songs on it, and two of them are from Insomnium’s latest album, “Shadows of the dying sun” – which I really really dig. This is the first one of these tracks, called “Ephemeral”. It’s catchy as all hell (that riff!) and I’ve spent many a car ride cheerfully bellowing along with “Dying doesn’t make this world dead to us/ Breathing doesn’t keep the flame alive in us / Dreaming doesn’t make time less real for us/ One life, one chance, all ephemeral!” (Which is probably why it’s my #2 most played song of the year, according to last.fm)The lyrics have a nice message, too. And yet it’s not even my most liked song of the album, that one’s still coming up. Enjoy! (genre: melodic death metal)

Rise Against – “Satellite”  is my most played song of the year, and I’d like to award it with the title of ‘song i’ve sang along the most & loudest to’. I stumbled over this one because way the fuck back when i fell in love with ‘prayer of the refugee’ while playing Guitar Hero 3, and it ended up on my Stof en Schitteringen playlist for obvious reasons (it’s Valeria’s song).
Earlier this year I was checking out their other work and then found ‘Satellite’. It’s 1) incredibly catchy, 2) incredibly positive/hopeful and 3) i can so imagine this being the end credits to Bloed en Scherven that it’s not funny anymore. (‘We’ll sneak out/ while they sleep/ and sail off in the night/ we’ll come clean and start over/ the rest of our lives / when we’re gone, we’ll stay gone / out of sight, out of mind/ it’s not too late/ we have the rest of our lives’).

In Vain, “Floating On The Murmuring Tide”. Tijs passed me their song “Against The Grain” earlier this year, which i really loved, but then I listened to the rest of the album and “Floating” is even more awesome.
Let me explain to you why. This song is tagged as progressive metal, and I understand why, it does things not all metal does. It goes places; it takes its time to tell a story with its music, it has some bitching solos… a couple of which are done by a SAXOPHONE. it’s beautiful. and when you think it’s over at 4:25, nope, now we’re building up to the good part.
Sometimes it happens that songs end too quickly, or they peter out, or they just lose their impressiveness halfway. “Floating On The Murmuring Tide” does not. It builds up to epicness (4.30), then sets the bar even higher (4:30-7:00), *goes there* (7:00 to outro), and leaves you utterly satisfied (♥). The song lasts 9:15 minutes, and every single minute of it is worth it. It needs to be your thing, of course. But damn, it is mine!

Foals – “Spanish Sahara”. I heard it on Spotify one day when using the similar artists feature, starred the song because I liked it, and then completely forgot about it. And then a couple of weeks/months later I really listened to it and thought…. ‘wow, what a gorgeously pretty song’.

 Any Given Day & Rihanna – “Diamonds” (mashup) is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. The thing is, I really don’t like Rihanna. I’m sorry. She’s a terrific artist, but her songs are really not my thing (the only song of her I could ever tolerate was “Umbrella”). Until this one. When metalcore band Any Given Day covered her song “Diamonds”, they cranked up the tempo and made it much more according to my taste. And then some genius DJ mashed up both songs, and it turned into this. And this is fucking AMAZING. Talk about singing along loudly when driving to work. I’ve never pictured myself singing along to Rihanna like that, haha :D  The song is actually a lot of fun, and with the increased tempo and the added grunt vocals, it’s become a really interesting and catchy poppy metalcore song. I should be ashamed of liking this, and yet I am not.

Sleepmakeswaves – “Perfect Detonator”. Anyone who knows me even a little, knows that i adore Australian post-rock band sleepmakeswaves, because they are the frigging shit. Their song “I will write peace on your wings” made it to my end of year song of 2012 and is still one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. So you can imagine I was pretty hyped when they released their new album, “Love of Cartography” this spring. And it didn’t disappoint! It has some beautiful songs on it, but “Perfect Detonator” takes the cake for me. That song just does everything right – from the catchy guitar riff, the dreamy synths, the lovely bassline… and it has a perfectly executed tension arc – the climax at 5:00 never fails to make me smile :)

Baroness – “Sea Lungs” scores very high on my end of year list, because apart from the fact that it’s a great song, the lyrics hit me like a punch in the face.
“Why so sad, your tears are no match for mine. I am eternal sea, and you are a drowning man.” Also: “And when my ship comes in, I’ll find a way, to breathe again”. You can probably figure out why it reminds me so much of Sirka – the hopeless situation, the stupid hope she harbours that she’ll get out of it at some point – somehow… ugh. Baroness is listed as progressive metal, but this song would be more prog-rock, I think. Please listen and enjoy, this song is fantastic.

Amon Amarth – “As Loke Falls”.  I owe the biggest of apologies to Amon Amarth because I never took the time to start appreciating them before. I actually didn’t check them out at Graspop because everyone and their brother walked around in Amon Amarth t-shirts and I just kind of figured they were too black metal for my taste. Then there was that motivational video om youtube with “Live for the Kill” that I thought, huh, maybe they’re cool. And then Olli dragged me along to their concert… and they proceeded to blow my mind at their gig that made me wonder what the hell I’ve been thinking because these guys are AMAZING. How could I have missed this? These guys are MELODEATH!
The songs are as catchy as they come, they play very well, their crowd is fun, and they have bucketloads of stage presence. One of the best gigs of the year, and “As Loke Falls” which I had not heard before previously, got stuck in my head for days. And really, can you blame me, with that riff?

Flood of Red – “Lashes”. Flood of Red was a band I’d never heard before, before they kind of blew my mind as supportact for Maybeshewill. (who is also still coming up, btw. it wouldnt be an end of year list without Maybeshewill in it :D)
They were utterly convincing and awesome on that tiny little stage in Haarlem and I loved their work. IRL they’re more screamy, btw, this is a lot gentler than what happened on the stage. Last.fm tags them as post-hardcore, but on record it’s definitely not – just rock. It’s still very highly recommended. “Someone show me the way out where the light shines brighter than I’ve ever seen before… I think I’m ready, I think I’m ready, to grow up, move out and move on…”

TOP 5:

5) The Gaslight Anthem – “The ’59 Sound”.  I’ve been singing along to this song for years until at some point I suddenly realised that he’s actually singing about his FRIEND WHO DIED. The first time I understood the lyrics was like a punch in the teeth and I still want to curl up inside when I hear the song sometimes. It’s a piece of great storytelling, a sad story and a great catchy song all rolled up into one. I’ve listened to a lot of Gaslight Anthem the past half year, and I discovered many more great songs by them (Biloxi Parish, Blue Dahlia, Handwritten, Get Hurt, etc) but this song remains firmly my favourite.

4) Insomnium, “While We Sleep”. It’s their second song on my list. Honestly, it’s a great song. It has a lovely catchy riff, the lyrics are kind of heartbreaking and keep reminding me of Seamon and Sirka because all of the bridge-burning and self-loathing that’s going on, and “We need to slow down so I can catch you, we need to slow down so you can catch me” breaks my heart, especially at the break at 4:50. It’s a beautiful song and everything melodic death metal should be. The #4 spot is very much deserved. Enjoy!

3) Maybeshewill – “All Things Transient”. I kind of begin to feel like a dick, because the past FOUR years they’ve made it to my top 5 and under any other circumstances, they would have taken the top spot last year with their incredible “Red Paper Lanterns” if it wasn’t for those pesky kids from And So I Watch You From Afar. Let’s be honest here; if I had to name my two favourite bands at the moment, it would be Maybeshewill and sleepmakeswaves. I really wanted to give Maybeshewill their top spot this year, especially in the light of their mindblowing show at ArcTangent and the fact that “Fair Youth” is a BEAUTIFUL album full of warm feelings and wondrousness. The title track, In Amber, Into The Blind, Permanence, Volga; they’re all such things of beauty.
“All Things Transient”, however, I’ve known longer than the album. I heard it played for the first time at the EKKO in Utrecht last year, during their live show. The song was yet untitled then, and I already loved it from the first time I heard it. I immediately searched youtube for bootlegs of the song and listened to it many times before the album came out, proudly featuring this song. The title then went on to fuel one of the main themes of my NaNoWriMo story this year, because Maybeshewill just tends to inspire the shit out of me, you know? So sorry for not giving you the top spot, Maybeshewill. If it makes you feel better, you ARE the band I played the most this year, and you gave the best gig of the year, as well.

2) Ghost Brigade – “Elämä On Tulta”. My runner up for song of the year has been the actual contender for quite some time. And it’s not even in the english language, but in finnish!  While the song is quite simple and obviously built around that one riff, the riff itself is amazing and their singer is simply at his best when he’s screaming instead of singing. (sorry dude). There’s this very dreamy 1:40 intro, that fantastic guitar screech at 1:43 that makes me cringe and laugh at the same time, and then we’re off. The riff is fast-paced, the background synths are beautiful, and it just takes me places, okay? I’ve belted ‘TULTAAAAAAAAAA’ along while rocking out in the car many a time.
The only reason that the song didn’t take first place (also because my actual #1 is just fucking fantastic) is because the outro (which essentially starts at 4:30) lasts three minutes, and that’s just too long for the song. As an album closer I get it, of course, it’s a fantastic outro to a terrific album. As a stand alone, though- it’s not enough for the #1 position of my song of the year… but as it stands, it comes terribly close.

END OF YEAR SONG 2014:

1) Nordic Giants – “Drumfire”. Have you ever heard a song that not only gave you goosebumps immediately, but that almost made you go completely still and quiet inside? Well, I have, now.
I missed these guys at ArcTangent last year, but they came back this year, so I spent some time listening to these guys. And between all the listening, and falling in love with their beautiful atmospheric stuff, and their TERRIFIC act at ArcTangent ’14 with those videos of which one scarred my mind forever, I completely missed this song. I don’t know how. Last.fm claims that I’ve heard this song in May already for the first time, but I must have been out of the room or something. Because early December this year I was listening to their EP and then this kicked in, and I completely stopped whatever the fuck I was doing and my HEART, people, my heart… There’s this break at 2:25 that just KILLS ME. It kills me, revives me, and fills me with wonder. The only way I can describe the feeling is when you stand on a hill on an unusually bright night, and the stars above you are glorious and bright and they go on forever. That is the feeling I get at that moment. It’s glorious. And that’s why it’s my song of the year. It’s so fucking deserved.