Monthly Archives: March 2012

Semi-Homemade…

Semi-Homemade...

…but with less booze.

      Okay. So, here’s the deal. I’ve been editing. Re-reading and editing my WIP Incandescence for a few weeks now. Its pretty intense. But- BUT – I have started to feel as if I am treading water. I’ve had trouble merging a few threads that I previously believed already seamlessly melded. Nuts.
      But then! A glorious burst of brilliance (tee-hee) and inspiration struck me! And I knew how to fix the things that had been bugging me since before I even started writing Draft One. I danced, I celebrated, I sat down today with the intention of rocking out a few thousand words of an edit while listening to the awesome speakers at the Koda Conference. And… the day escaped me as I struggled to find a place to stick my scalpel and start slicing, gluing, tweaking…
      It was not settling in properly. The changes feel right in my head, but on the page, as it stood…stands?… it just wasn’t gelling. So.
      What I’m proposing is a tossing, in toto, Draft One. Beginning anew. From scratch – no, not scratch. Semi-scratch. Semi-homemade. And now we’re back to Sandra Lee and booze.
      Its a daunting task, but with all the revisions I’ve made to my outline, filling in some gaps in the world outside the immediate setting of the plot, fixes I’ve planned… it makes sense. But oh, gosh! To scrap 152,212 words mid-edit and just…start composing again. I weep.
      The good news is, much will be salvageable. Its just that the layout of the chapters will have to be altered, and some niggling details will need changed… the telling of the story is probably much the same, but the pieces that aren’t are so wide-stretching that I don’t think just shifting them in will work.
      So, I think I have to start with a blank page and start again.
      From semi-scratch.
      God, I need a drink.

Love & Vodka,
P.P.

MasterKoda Conference!

MasterKoda Conference!

      Tomorrow & Thursday are big days for one of the most supportive, talented, all-around amazing group of writers I have ever been involved with – the webmistress & FB-group-founder, Kim Mutch Emerson is running an absolutely epic online writer’s conference and (as I reported previously) yours truly is going to attend.
      Many of the topics are things I have long been wondering about – how to blog more effectively, using Twitter to build your fanbase (or you know, at all, tee-hee), editing your novel, and so much more. I suspect that if this conference is a success, which I know it will be, there will be future installments. If so – I urge you strongly to find a way to attend. In fact, if I am still in a position to do so when the next one comes around, I will be paying it forward, and raffling off a pass the way the lovely Catrina did for me!
      So, keep your eye on PP.net (and join MasterKoda on Facebook) for next time the Koda Conference comes around – you definitely want to be there if you’re a writer navigating the murky waters of publication in these crazy modern days!

Love & Rainbows (and future give-aways!),
P.P.

WTB Tardis, PST!

WTB Tardis, PST!

      Its two, two, TWO geek references in one subject line! Whee!
      Yes, today I am feeling in rather desperate need of a TARDIS or other space-time traversing device. Maybe a Time-Turner would work.
      Anything that would allow me to fulfill my familial obligations, my day job responsibilities, my writing goals, and my social media expectations. That’s not to mention the books I want to read, the movies and television shows I hope to catch up on, the friends I rarely get to see/call, the hand-made peanut butter-filled chocolate Easter eggs I want to learn to make with my fianc√©’s mother.
      Now, writing a simple blog entry may not take hours of tinkering the way composing a chapter does, but it does require some time. And then there is the Twittering. I’ve only just opened my account and begun to follow people, and since I do not have a book to promote (nor a large collection of blog entries to recycle with tweets) I cannot really set my tweets up all at once and have them auto-tweeted on a schedule. I sort of just… tweet as it occurs to me that I have something to link to or say. Plus, participating in my Facebook writing groups, scheduling conferences to attend, scanning the stuff my family and friends post on Facebook (hey! Its important to keep up with baby photos and dramatic love lives! *wink*).
      Its overwhelming!
      There are so few hours in the day, I don’t know how people manage it all. I am hoping to get my name out there, my brand built even as my novel(s) are still being written and edited, yet I have not had a chance in two days to open my WIP and edit a single word!
      Ack!
      So in the coming weeks, I may post a lot or a little, I may tweet frequently or not, and I may not be as vocal in my Facebook groups as I’d like… but the whole point of this is to discuss and promote my work and my love of the written word. Thus, I need to learn to balance my time between WRITING and all the rest.
      Any one out there have brilliant tips for managing your time? Focusing those few precious writing moments? Quitting your day job to write and not starving to death, being evicted for non-payment and all that jazz? *grin* Just Kidding on that last bit… maybe.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: Sociopathic Tendencies

Snippet Sunday: Sociopathic Tendencies

      Today’s snippet is the opening of Chapter Three from the first draft of a WIP with no title just yet. I’ve referred to it alternately as Rudabet, after the protagonist, and Queendom because it features one. Either way, this chapter introduces Reeve Elsvet and she is a real piece of work.
– – – – – – – – – – –
Chapter Three

      The hall was damnably drafty as the Reeve of Echo Bay held court. A line of petitioners stretched the length of the room and it was all she could do to refrain from rolling her eyes and heaving a sigh. Another dull, interminable afternoon wasted, she thought, turning her gaze toward the great doors at the back of the chamber. After fifteen years chained to this seat, Elsvet could tell the time of day from the light that filtered through the cracks no matter the season nor the weather. Just now, it was past noon, and she had been dispensing judgement since dawn.
      She could smell the mid-afternoon repast being set out in the anteroom, hot bread and butter, mulled wine, roast beef with thyme and basted carrots. The scents triggered memories of finer feasts and for a moment, she was a child again, marvelling at the spun sugar confections, the candied fruit pastries, braised duck, suckling pig, the puddings and mashes flavored with half-a-hundred exotic spices from places she had never even heard of, and of course, the wines. Pale gold from Gallis, deep burgundy from northern Nabarais, rich claret from Hollir and her favorite, the slightly bubbly champagne from Estros with its delicate pink color and natural sweetness.
      “…Lady Elsvet?”
      The trilling, nasal voice of her Scribe, Gunildor, interrupted her idle thoughts and dragged her, kicking and screaming, back to reality. He tapped a finger against the parchment page she held in her hand. “The guildmaster would like to request an extra twenty bushels of flour be made available to them, from the city’s own mill, to help offset the losses they took during the flood last month. Is that acceptable to you, Lady Elsvet?”
      She paused a long moment, tapping a long fingernail to her lips in a pose of exaggerated pensiveness. Best to appear thoughtful, she thought, schooling her expression and staring down at the Guildmaster with critical brown eyes.
      “Petition the seneschal on the morrow,” she said at last, standing. “If he believes we can spare the flour, then the matter is settled.” Before Gunildor or the Guildmaster could object, Elsvet lifted a hand. “Enough. I am weary. We are adjourned for the day.”
      “But, Lady Elsvet,” Gunildor began, chasing after her. The small man stumbled over his plain brown robes, struggling to match his short stride to her long-legged one. Though she was well aware of this, Elsvet did not relent, forcing him to practically run to keep up. She flung the door to her dining room open and breezed across the tiled floor, assaulted by the scents of her dinner. With a grunt, she threw herself into the plush chair at the head of the small table, one leg looped over the arm of the chair.
      “Lady Elsvet,” the scribe tried again, shuffling through the armful of parchments. “There are several vital petitions left that absolutely must be adjudicated today. For instance-”
      “Gunildor, enough! I am done listening to all these ridiculous, droning feeble-minded fools. They plague me day and night! Lower our taxes, Reeve, give us flour. The Lost Men in the forest are stealing our sheep, Reeve, send your guards in to rout them.” Elsvet scooped a fresh, hot roll from the platter and tore it open. “I am sick to death of whining petitioners. The floods were terrible, but would they not be better served if they toddled off to rebuild their hovels rather than stink up my Audience Hall?”
      Gunildor ducked his head, hiding his expression behind a veil of stringy brown hair. Though he had served the Reeve of Echo Bay for only two years, his time in the position eclipsed all five of his predecessors by at least six months. He was accustomed to her fickleness, her tempestuous nature, her queer, quiet calms and even her occasional fits of rage. Yet somehow, she still surprised him from time-to-time, usually when her utter lack of empathy reached a new low.
– – – – – – – – – – –
      And that’s that. Hope you enjoyed it. As always, please comment, add suggestions, questions, whatever you have to say below. I look forward to next Sunday, when I should have a snippet from WT: Incandescence ready to share.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Tangerine Tango

      2012 is the year of Tangerine Tango, according to the folks at Pantone. Thus, it is my year. Wait – follow me here. You see, my favorite color is orange. Has been for many years. Not Halloween orange, but a more subtle, sunny… tangerine-y hue. Whether this came about before or after an old, dear friend gave me a nickname that involved tangerines, I cannot recall. Still, orange has become a sort of…trademark of mine. I wear a lot of it, I painted the laundry room in our old house a great shade of it, I drove an orange car in High School, and my nails – usually painted orange. When you see orange – if you know me, you might just think of me. Anyway…

Tangerine Tango

Ooh. Sexy, right? ūüėČ

      When I first read the blurb of an article about the Color of the Year back in December, I was not expecting it to be a life-changing moment. Frankly, I’d seen them before (2008 was a gorgeous, deep indigo blue, I think, and 2011 was a vivid pink) and never much cared beyond the most basic ‘Gee, that’s pretty’ thought. Then I saw it.
      And everything changed.
      Okay, yes. Its silly. I know the choice those Pantone people made was based on all manner of data that had nothing to do with me, fate, or destiny. Yet when I saw it – I thought, “Yes! Yes. 2012 will be the year of the Tangerine Tango! And I’m just the Tangerine to do it!”
      I made a decision and I’ve been acting on it ever since. I am working daily to make this year the best ever. To see my lifelong dreams come to fruition. To take that leap of faith and put my work out there for the world (or… some small part of it) to read. To change my life in positive ways. To work toward my goals. To stop procrastinating in both my personal and professional life.
      Some of these broad strokes of change have been simple – I stopped biting my nails in January (a habit I’ve been trying to break since I was a kid). I gave up potato chips (my biggest food-related weakness…okay, other than Cheesecake) three weeks ago. I’ve downloaded some software to continue studying a foreign language in my spare time.
      Some of them have been more complicated. I took up a challenge issued by a friend and fellow writer, Sian Young and have been writing 1500 words every day this month. I pledged to finish my WIP, Incandescence, and did! I’ve now vowed to complete the second draft and give it to beta readers. All of these in service of my overriding goal, to get my work published.
      I have dreamt of that since I was seven years old and read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. I have feared failure, and success, and I have allowed it to hold me back. I have hidden in a corner, afraid to show my face, for years – worried that I will never be good enough. Well no more, not in 2012. Nobody puts P.P. in a corner!
      *cough*
      In addition to really committing myself to various changes and goals, setting deadlines and all that jazz, I’ve joined several writing communities on Facebook and have been meeting (and learning from) some amazing, talented folk. One such group is called MasterKoda.com. I don’t know that I’ve contributed much there just yet, but man oh man, I have learned a lot. For instance, using Twitter at last (follow me – @PP_TheWriter!). The amazing blogs the members put out inspired me to get back into blogging after several years of silence. I am already indebted to the members for their wit, their advice, their ideas, and their incredible support.
      The indefatigable leader, Kim Mutch Emerson of MasterKoda.com, is putting on an informative online writer’s conference next week (Check it out here) and I kept clicking back to the page. I really wanted to sign up, but after a bout with the flu that forced both myself and my fianc√© to miss a couple days of work… it seemed like we just would not be able to swing it. Then, a generous Koda member ran a brief ‘contest’ to win a pass to the conference and by some providence – yours truly got in before the buzzer and scored. I am so excited, and I cannot thank Catrina enough for her benevolent nature!
      No, the whole point of this post was not to brag, but to celebrate! Maybe there is no such thing as fate or destiny – I’m not going to make that call. But sometimes, I think, when you really put your mind into making positive change, into moving forward, into materializing your dreams and accomplishing your goals, the universe aligns itself to help you along.
      So even if you’re not a fan of tangerine (the color, or the fruit), maybe its time to take stock of what you really want out of life and make 2012 your year.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Why I Write

Why I Write

      Whether asked with loving anticipation of some soul-deep answer or with a quirked brow and a sarcastic tone – ‘why do you write?’ is a question that all writers must face one day. To me, it is vital to know why I do anything that I do, let alone why I do the one thing I’m most passionate about.
      So I have ruminated on that very question many times. Most recently, I thought about it while attending a small writer’s conference put on by the lovely and talented, Kathryn Anderson last summer. It was a wonderful two days and I definitely recommend, if ever you have the chance, that you take the opportunity to join the class. I digress (and channel Sophia!).
      One of the first exercises we did that weekend was to open up our fresh and lovely new Moleskine journals and answer the question posed above. Why do you write?
      The following is what I scribbled in the minutes that followed:

I write because the people and places living in my head demand it.

I journal to remember the good things, to learn from the bad, and to record the strange awesomeness that is me for perpetuity.

I have indentified as a writer since before I knew the word.

I write to grow my mind, to puzzle out what’s in my heart, and often, to berate my body.

I write because I love to read and its a natural progression. I long to contribute my own words to the enormous, illustrious collection of literature in the world.

I write because I have to, I must. I would never sleep again if I didn’t put pen to paper and let the words spill out.

      In my journal, there’s an addendum about writing to shame (or pressure) my best friend into finishing his long overdue fantasy novel AND because his poetry still makes me smile, all these years later.
      So, that’s it. That’s why I write. I have to – no choice.
      How about you, friend? Why do you write?

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Book Learnin’

Book Learnin'

      Can you learn self-editing from a book?
      I don’t know, but I’m sure hoping that the tips in this book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print which was recommended to me by Zo√© Perrenoud will help me tighten up my first completed novel in… oh, let’s round it off nicely and say – five years. Its been nearly that long since my last college writing class as well, and so far, the things I’ve read in the book are helpful though most of them merely refresh stuff I had learned ages ago.
      To be perfectly honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever truly ‘edited’ one of my novels before. I know, I know. That sounds insane, but one of the reasons I haven’t pursued publishing since I was eleven years old and got a rejection letter that broke my widdle-bitty heart, is that when a manuscript gets to ‘The End’, I tend to put it away and not look at it again. Ever. Sometimes, even before the piece is complete (for instance, my beloved Rudabet story).
      Those I have edited, have morphed and changed so much in the second and third drafts that they feel like entirely new novels. Granted, this is going back to High School, but Death in the Family started out a paranormal novella featuring a woman named Sarah (and was actually called Sarah’s Ghost) and ended up a weird murder-filled mystery featuring Sarah’s niece Jacinta and her daughter Jade. Nothing supernatural at all, if I recall. And the trilogy – well, that one didn’t change so much in the edits as it grew from a stand-alone into a three part epic of four girls (and two guys) saving the world with (and from) some demigods.
      Back to the present and my current editing dilemma. I am re-learning some valuable techniques and things to look for in my novel, I am. And I will employ them for sure. But on the other hand, I do tend to lack confidence (*gasp*) and like all the bewildered new moms drowning in how-to baby raising books and feeling inadequate compared to all these Super Mommy bloggers, I’m afraid my own unique voice will get lost if I adhere too stringently to the guidelines I read. Not just in this one book, but around the web and beyond.
      I should ask some of my recently published contemporaries how they dealt with that. How they maintain their own voices/tones/styles while trying to implement the ‘new’ conventions of modern fiction? Gone are the days when a publishing house would take a novel they felt had potential and let an editor have a go at it; these days, from what I read, novels are often pubbed as-is. Meaning that its the author’s job to make sure its properly edited and vetted before its submitted.
      This is going to be a long process, I can tell. *sigh* But to make one’s dreams a reality, one must take the first step.
      So this is me, stepping.
      (With guidebook in hand, naturally).

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

What Color is ‘Appalled’, Anyway?

What Color is 'Appalled', Anyway?

      Ah, spring. Wish you were here. Somehow, we skipped you here in central PA and dove straight into summer. Bah. One such as myself is not made for steamy days and humid nights. Argh. Worse than the weird weather we’ve had, is the fact that it continually jumps back and forth between warm (verging on hot, we’ve hit 80 already in March!) and cold. Which has left me sick twice in the past month and really killed my productivity level.
      The completed first draft of WT: Incandescence stood at 152,212 words which seems like a lot. I knew there would be many cuts to make in the second draft, but I also knew there were several crucial scenes that I needed to insert as well. Presently, I am nearly finished with ‘Part One’ which is, admittedly, the shortest part. With all the cuts and edits and fixes, this section came out with an almost identical word count. Color me stunned.
      And appalled. I really thought I had been pretty brutal with my slicing knife, trying to tighten up the opening section.
      Seriously – they are less than 1000 words apart (an important 1000 words, mind you).
      I suppose the proof is in the pudding, though. My first two beta ‘readers’ will let me know if the changes I’ve wrought improve the tale or no. Then its on to a third edit, an editor, a (hopefully) final draft and… *trumpets blare* publication.
      Before all of that, however, I have 135,000 words left to edit and being sick since Saturday night has slowed my roll. Its time to put nose to grindstone and work.
      Wish me luck!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: Light Of Lun

Snippet Sunday: Light Of Lun

      What follows is the first of (probably) many snippets which I hope to post here. It is the opening of Chapter Two in the first draft of a project my partner & I began a couple of years ago. Its current working title is The Light of Lun, but I can almost guarantee that that will change. I apologize in advance for the naughty language – but if you knew this character as well as I do, you would not be surprised by it. *grin*
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Chapter Two

      Snow smothered the land, crushing grasses and flowers with its heavy,
white girth. It weighed down the boughs of naked trees and heaped upon
bushes and hedges until they split beneath the onslaught. It blurred
out the graceful lines of the buildings and left everything looking
like unwieldy, awkward clumps of white mud. Piles of dung.
      Steaming, hideous piles of shit.
      She hated the snow, despised the cold, abhorred ice. She fucking
hated the confining clothes that she was forced to wear to protect
delicate flesh from its black, frozen touch. She hated this land,
hated the necessity of it; she hated that her brethren had taken to
using ice and cold in all its destructive forms against their wayward
enemy.
      Eyes like chips of the bluest sapphire surveyed the surrounding area.
Nothing moved. The blizzard that had obscured the moons all night
seemed to have buried everything and everyone ‚Äď a solid, heavy, white
coffin that had closed upon the entire world. She snorted at the
thought. Everyone except me. And, she allowed glancing to her left,
her, I guess.
      She was a hunter and needed no heeled-shoe bitch chasing around
behind her, killing her stealth and announcing their presence with her
dramatic looks and the flash of her jewel-tipped staff in the cold
sunlight. Yet here they were, a team, a pair…partners.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

      And that’s a start. Hope you enjoyed it. Any comments? Suggestions? Requests for more? Let me know below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P. <3

You Light Up My Life

You Light Up My Life

Recently, one of my writing cohorts from a Facebook group posted a blog entry about the creative influences in her life and it got me thinking about those who have inspired me.

I was fortunate as a wee writer, to have the support (even if it was occasionally – okay, frequently tinged with bewilderment) of my parents, neither of whom considered themselves particularly creative. I beg to differ on that point, but that is neither here nor there. When I spent hours and weeks in the basement hacking away on the trust ol’ Tandy 2000, they not only allowed it, but encouraged me to keep writing. My mother’s strength and fortitude regardless of the situation faced and my father’s struggles with his demons and with being the kind of father and man he wanted to be despite them – both of them have colored my work.

In her post, Laurie blogs about old friends from school with whom she shared her creative past and – thanks to Facebook – present. One of my girlfriends introduced me to the theatre (Les Mis√©rables), which is a lingering but neglected love in my life. Another took Creative Writing electives with me in High School, but to my knowledge does not write anymore. In my memory, I always thought our class was exceedingly creative, but I have lost touch with (yes, even in the age of Facebook) most of them and I honestly do not know if any others are pursuing a creative path. Maybe its time to reconnect and find out…

(By the way – how many times did I use forms of creative in that past paragraph? Sheesh!)

Outside of school, however, I can name several people who really influenced my writing. Two ladies I worked with at a kitchen store in the local Outlet Mall in High School. They were both nearly ten years older than me, but we were all aspiring authors and discussed it frequently. They took me to my first writer’s conference and opened my eyes to a whole world of publishing that I had not known existed. My aunt, who I found to be a voracious (and unexpected) reader, introduced me to sub-genres and constantly encouraged me to complete my novels by volunteering to be a beta reader. My aforementioned Creative Writing class was taught by a man who was really passionate about poetry and literature and who got me excited to contribute a line or two to the every-growing tapestry of English-language literature.

And, probably most importantly, there was my cousin-slash-best friend. He and I used to exchange letters (yes, we’re that old) and one of our most beloved topics was whatever we were writing at the time. But it started before that, really. Summer vacations spent making up stories for our Barbie and Jem dolls as small children, then the BHG (don’t ask, tee-hee) short stories when we were older. He was the first person, other than myself, I knew to be working on a novel. I can’t tell you how many hours we spent discussing his characters and their story, listening to beautiful instrumental music that seemed custom-written to match his epic fantasy tale. He would send me small excerpts with his letters and I devoured them.

We were room mates my freshman year of college in farmhouse our Grandfather owned off-campus. It was epic for many reasons, but one of which was getting to share our love for wonderful stories live and in person! I started my beloved project “Madaya” back then on an ugly mod yellow & black couch (which he insists was green) in his living room. And in the years that followed, we blogged stories back and forth when living in different states, we collaborated on his amazing Christmas stories, and we act as sounding boards for each other.

The novel he was writing in High School remains unfinished. That bastard. I so need to know what happened to those characters!

Anyway – he remains of the most important influences in my life.

A blog post about creative influences would not be complete without a mention of my life partner. He and I have been writing together since the moment we met and I hope we never stop. Words are the blood flowing in the veins of our relationship; the worlds and characters we have created together continue to color my solo projects and of course, our collaborative efforts. He encourages me every single day to keep pursuing my dreams, to continue putting words on paper, to get those crazy people out of my head and into the pages of a book. And his insane brilliance! I cannot adequately describe the things that come out of his mind – but I am always inspired to think about my own work differently based on his ideas.

Well, this became a little more verbose than intended. Still, I wonder – who influences your creative pursuits? Friends from the past? Family in the present? Fellow writers, chance met via an online community?