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Re-read, Re-Write, Revision

Re-read, Re-Write, Revision

      Guess what time it is?
      Time to abandon my Camp NaNo project at ±17k to get back to work on “Inferno”. Time for re-reading “Incandescence” and opening up Scrivener to re-work “Inferno” from scratch. Time to get that last edit on Book One, then edit Book Two. Time for moving toward publication.
      I’m inspired by a colleague who is making her writing goals come true – who just commissioned two great covers (sincerely, like… I was a fan of the first one, but the second one really blew my skirt up!) for her novel and who is getting ready for the release of that one all the while, preparing a whole slew of other projects for publication. Have I ever mentioned how much I admire her work ethic? She’s a freakin’ MACHINE, man. In the best way, that is. Hardly misses a day of word count, punching out quality work and an excellent blog day after day. All of that while
      I strive to be more like her.
      Anyway – why am I giving up on “Going Home”? I’m not. Just… I can’t get “Inferno” out of my head. I keep thinking about how its going to end. And then wondering if it still ends the way I originally planned. My first draft is incomplete, so I have not yet “discovered” the ending.
      Unfortunately, I’ve just started another read-through of “Incandescence” and I keep finding things that seem asinine and which I want to change.
     *le sigh*
      I know, I know. A writer is really never satisfied and at some point, we just have to relinquish control and call it “done”. So, I shall finish this read-through (making notes as necessary as I go), then I shall re-work my first draft of “Inferno”. Then I shall probably give “Incandescence” one last edit before starting my final draft of “Inferno”. And in the end, I will (assuming I don’t find a publisher) commission two covers and release these babies out into the world!
      Yep.
      That’s the goal. By the end of 2013, one way or another, Hannah, Mike & their 102-year-old great-great-grandmother will be published. Boo-yah.
      Plus, I want to finish “Going Home” and get back to “Rudabet” and I’ve got several shorts.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Chomped it Good.

Chomped it Good.

      Fear.
      What do you fear?
      Spiders or clowns? Falling or tight spaces? Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies? Dying? Living?
      Whatever it is you fear, does it prevent you from really experiencing life? From doing what you love? From being who you are meant to be?
      Maybe, maybe not.
      Fear is a powerful thing. Right? I mean – its FEAR.
      But successful people don’t let it hold them back. I don’t necessarily mean fiscally successful, but people who have broad interests, help others, fulfilling lives, and who are successful as people.
      October is a month in which a lot of people talk about scary things, about fear, about terror and horror and all those Halloween-y topics. I’m not sure I’ve got anything particularly helpful to contribute about facing your fears, or related topics. That said – I can talk about my own fears and be pretty open about my personal demons and flaws.
      Here’s a top five list of things that scare me:

  • Snakes: Don’t like ’em. Fascinated by ’em. Have horrible recurring nightmares about them. Ick.
  • Heights: Okay, to be honest, its more the falling and painy-splatness that scares me.
  • Dying: Despite a strong faith, I am a total hypochondriac and every twinge or cough automatically means I’m dying. Not ready yet. AAH!
  • Losing All My Weight & Still Not Being ‘Pretty’: Oh, come on. This is legitimate and close to my heart. I have a tremendous fear of doing all that work and ending up saggy and gross. I’m cute as is. But my health decrees the tub must be lost… so yeah.
  • Failure: Rather, confirmation of suspected suckage. Or of putting myself out there are being rejected as ‘not good enough’. Failure of many kinds. Of not living up to standards. Of disappointing people and myself. Failure.

      So, there’s that.
      And being aware of your fears means you can confront them. Which means you can conquer them. Which means you do not have to be ruled by fear! I sure as hell don’t want to be diminished by the things that freak me out.
      In the year of Tangerine Tango, I have conquered my fear of letting others read my work. Maybe, not entirely. I mean, I still get nervous and feel uncertain, anxious… but I do it. The bullet has been bitten. Chomped it good.
      I have not conquered number four, but I will do.
      And number five.
      Do you ever get past that? Is submitting the novel to Harper-Voyager enough to say I’ve passed it by? Is deciding to self-pub, enough?
      No matter what, I’ll keep plugging away. Improving myself and making strides toward being a successful person. A person worth knowing and worth the love and support of the people who care about me.
      That, my friends, is all I’ve got to say on ‘fear’.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Wrinkled Papaya is Not a Euphemism.

Wrinkled Papaya is Not a Euphemism.

      Last night, on the once-in-a-millenia date of 10/11/12, I submitted “Incandescence” to Harper-Voyager for consideration. Now, I’m not holding my breath (though I am totally praying my butt off) but it felt amazingly horrible and exhilarating to click that “Submit” button. I posted a milestone on my Facebook page and received the confirmation email shortly thereafter.
      So the deed is done, man.
      In the past few days, I added several vignettes to the story that I had not gotten around to writing for the first draft. They are gruesome. They are… just- wow. One deals with isolation, betrayal, and starvation. Another, with a child’s perspective of the horrors in the world (er… the ancient evil rising to the surface, not just mundane horrors). A third features a rebellious girl who dies screaming and a fourth shares a story eluded to by Alexander in another chapter.
      Overall, I am pleased with how they turned out, but I could change things, certainly.
      Plus, less than an hour after I hit submit, my dear sweet mother started reading the novel and found a typo in the prologue. Tend instead of Tent. How did I miss that when I read it outloud to myself?
      C’est la vie.
      The important thing, as my friend Ray and I were discussing, is that we took the plunge, we took a risk, took a chance… we did it.
      What to take away from this post?

  1. My mother, who has never been much of a reader, is reading “Incandescence”.
  2. “Incandescence” has been submitted to a genuine publisher for consideration.
  3. Today I opened a (mostly) blank project in Scrivener to get ready for NaNoWriMo.
  4. The last four chapters I wrote for “Incandescence” are bloody and gruesome.
  5. Wrinkled Papaya is not a euphemism. (But it totally should be!)

      And that my friends, is all for this morning. It’s Friday and it is time to work. Boo-hiss.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Beta Reader #2

Beta Reader #2

      As the incomparable George Takei would say,”Ohhh myyyyyyy”.
      I finally got a sincere and amazing email from a Beta Reader and it truly made my night. Not because it was a glowing review of how perfect and amazing I am (although, the part I’m sharing with you is sort of a rave) but because it was honest and had constructive criticisms. Due in no small part to this person having read much of my ‘work’ in the past, he really nailed some of my worst tendencies and called me out on some lazy tactics (just because it is set in the ‘real world’ in what is mostly the ‘modern day’… there’s no excuse for constant pop culture references).
      He also mentioned the things he thought worked. Characterization. He loves Hannah, for instance. He felt that the relationship between Michael and Brandi was well done. The magic being somewhat in the background at first, then waking up as the story goes on to really move to the foreground by the end. Even the setting, which… you know… real life/modern day-ish…
      Pacing is definitely still a bit of a problem, but if you’ve read this blog you know I tend to be a bit verbose. I really gotta rein that in, in the rewrites.
      Anyway, the last paragraph of his initial feedback/review, is as follows:

      I find [Incandescence] to be daring and delicious. Full of delightful details, even if they are heavy at times, and a gritty realism that grips […].
      There is plenty to fall in love with. Characters […] to interact with and a magic that, at first, seems hidden, but becomes such a major player as the story unfolds. I wonder if by some means everyone will be saved by an unleashing of powers no one knew they even possessed. Personally, though, I think you know the magic you have, and it’s been beautifully unleashed on these pages.

      Like, couldn’t you just die?
      I could. I might. Now, excuse me as I decide not to sleep tonight and return to editing my poor bruised baby. Gotta get this apple polished before presenting it to teacher (and by teacher, I mean Harper-Voyager). Booyah.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Winner Announced!

Winner Announced!

      Booyah! I totally forgot to announce the winner of the Blurbity Blurbity Blurb give-away!
      Drum roll please!

      Number Two!
      Going back to the post, that would be the lovely “Mary”! I will be contacting you via email, Mary, to get your information and let you know when a copy will be ready for you!

      To the other entrants, thank you tremendously for your advice and your entries! I hope to see you all enter again next time.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Tweaking

Tweaking

      At last! I’ve found my groove with editing and I am cranking out the changes/fixes/tweaks like no body’s business. Its a wonderful feeling and as much as I occasionally loathe editing, seeing how just a few changes can make an enormous difference makes my heart thrill.
      Can a heart thrill?
      Whatever.
      The point is that I am working again, and working it hard. Now what, you might ask, has motivated me at last? Sent me into fits of productivity that after months of stalling?
      An open submission invitation from a major publisher. They’re calling for fantasy and sci-fi from unknown writers, accepting non-agented people, and all that jazz. This is just too good an opportunity to miss, so I must finish this last sweep of the novel ASAP! Like, within two weeks.
      While also packing and moving.
      And planning a wedding.
      And preparing for NaNoWriMo.
      And working full-time.
      *groan*
      Not to mention two challenges I’m participating in (a 30 Day challenge to Deal with, Dump or Donate things I’ve been putting off and a 21 day eating-right/living-right challenge). And blogging. And gaming. And life…
      But I can do it. I just have to really tweak my time management skills. So I’m really cramming editing in between calls at work, before work starts, after it ends, when I wake up in the middle of the night… if I’m breathing, I’m editing.
      At least until this is done. Then… maybe a breath to finish planning Inferno and right back to typing til my fingers fall off.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

P.S. Man, I need bacon.

VBT: It Ain’t Easy Being Bloggy

VBT: It Ain't Easy Being Bloggy

      Welcome to Week Sixteen of the Tasha Turner Coaching/MasterKoda VBT!
      Somehow, we made it. We survived a whole summer of guest blogs and drama, the terror of putting myself & my work out into the interwebs, and a fairly rigorous writing & posting schedule. There were times I wasn’t sure I could pull it all together, but I did, and with the exception of last week when my original guest had to drop-out and we didn’t get a replacement until the end of the week, it all went pretty darn smoothly.
      So, to wrap this all up, I’ve put together my thoughts and conclusions about the experience. Read on!

———————–
      Sixteen weeks ago, I was completely naive as to what a blog tour entailed. I was really just beginning this blogging adventure, for although I had had a personal blog back in the early aughts that did not require keeping to a regular schedule, building an audience, marketing, or trying to come up with interesting topics. I just ranted, raved, discussed my life and well… it was easy.
      Blogging with a professional bent is hard.
      Blogging as a writer just starting out on her publishing journey, knowing that whatever you write will end up on the pages of another writer’s website, I freely admit that I was intimidated. Several of the wonderful folk who hosted my humble words over the course of the TTC/MK Virtual Blog Tour are fairly successful in this new publishing world. I vascillated over topics, I bit my nails to the quick (after working so hard to stop biting them this year!), I wrote and re-wrote pieces. I honestly did not know what I had to say that would benefit anyone else. I’m no expert, you know?
      Fortunately, the people involved with the tour were (mostly) helpful and understanding, encouraging and polite with criticisms. I ended up having a great deal of fun reading a bunch of blogs I might not have discovered, feeling awfully proud of myself for being hosted by other writers, and learned a lot about how to market/publicize my book and my blog (and how not to, also).
      But the single most important thing I will take away from this blog tour — okay, other than some friendships and a deep respect for all the work Tasha Turner and her staff had to do to keep us all inline — is that professional blogging is hard work.

  • You have to be dedicated so much so that even when you least feel like sitting down and composing something interesting, you actually do so.
  • You have to have patience with marketing, because there’s a fine line between promoting it and spamming it.
  • You have to participate in the blogosphere if you wish to garner more views/likes/comments. This can be time consuming, but its so necessary.
  • You have to draft and maintain a schedule, of some sort, to be successful. Creating on the fly is fine, but sporadic posting can be death to a blog.

      Joining up with the TTC/MK VBT was a huge step for me. Before the year of the Tangerine Tango began, I rarely allowed anyone to read my work. I had burned in the past by some very hurtful critiques (not constructive, not diplomatic, just spiteful and cruel) and had built up some high walls around myself. Even once I made the decision to start working toward publication for really reals, it wasn’t that scary to post here on PP.net because my readership was about 5 people a week.
      But on some of these other blogs, the viewership was WAY higher. Thousands of people saw my words. My opnions. Excerpts from my novel. And that was terrifying, but I am proud to say that I survived. My book will be better for the feedback I’ve received, my blog will improve from the lessons gleaned during this tour, and next time I sign up for something like this I will go in with my eyes wide open and experience under my belt.
      In the end, I can say that although it ain’t being bloggy (haha) it is all worth the effort. Knowing that a few extra people were touched by something I wrote puts a smile on my face. I am honored and humbled to have been a participant in the TTC/MK VBT 2012. And if Tasha Turner does continue to run these crazy events, I hope I can register again and have another go. If you’re a writer with a blog and you have the opportunity to join up with the next one – I say do it! You’ll come out a stronger writer, blogger and person.
Love & Rainbows,
P.P.
————————
      Thanks to the amazing Penelope Price for returning to PP.net! *ahem* What? I am totally amazing. If you haven’t figured that out yet, well, keep reading. I’ll astound you one of these days, I promise!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

[Editor’s Note: The give-away is still active (until Sept 15th, 2012 @ 11:59pm) over HERE!]

Blurbity Blurbity Blurb

Blurbity Blurbity Blurb

      As anyone who has followed my journey writing and editing “Incandescence” knows, its been a battle. Its not my first book, not in the literal sense, but it is the first one which I am writing as a fully-grown-up person with intention to send off into the world to be read and (hopefully) enjoyed by a broader audience than… just me.
      Still, as much as I complain about how editing is both the worst and best part of writing, I have to say that the very hardest thing I have attempted to do for “Incandescence” is writing the blurb. Yes, the blurb. The quick synosis you find on the back of a book that makes you go ‘Hells yes! I gots ta read me summa dis!’ or ‘Ugh. More vampire lovers and tight black leather? Hells to the nah’.
      The blurb has to contain so much information, yet be written in such a way as to not seem like an infodump. It has to be catchy and exciting, yet ask question or end on a cliffhanger, yet not give away too much of the plot.
      There are many blogs out there discussing the anatomy of a perfect blurb. Start with a hook, choose only the main character(s) to highlight, leave them wanting more… all great points. But there’s an art to putting that advice to practical use and I have not yet mastered the technique.
Here’s my work-in-progress/beta-test blurb for “Incandescence”:

      The world has been on a downward spiral for awhile – even 14-year-old Hannah Brighton knows that much – but no one was really expecting it to end quite so soon. Yet on one hazy afternoon in March, Hannah, her older brother Michael, and their 102-year-old great-great-grandmother find themselves running for their lives and struggling to exist in a world on the brink of collapse.
      Fortunately for these siblings, magic is real. They are the last two mageborns on Earth — at least as far as they know.
      As the world descends into utter chaos they must survive earthquakes and tsunamis, maurauding looters (or looting maurauders?), a greedy empire-building bastard named Alexander, and at the heart of the destruction, an ancient enemy with an army of hungry children at her command. Their peaceful mountain valley may provide some protection but it only delays the inevitable confrontation.
      Trapped between the avaricious power of Alexander & Isaac, the collapse of civilization, and an indescribable evil – Hannah, Michael, and their assembly of exiles have no choice but to fight.

      Well? What do you think? What should change? How can I improve this blurb to make it the bestest most blurbity blurb that ever blurbed? Can you tell I sort of love and hate the word blurb? Its great, and awful.
      Still, I honestly seek your advice. You’re a reader, you’ve probably picked up a thousand books over the years, flipped ’em over and read the back cover copy. What makes you pick up Book A over Book B? I know the cover is important, both front and back, so its crucial to me that I get this one right! Right?
      In the future, maybe I should take a fellow author’s advice and write the blurb first. Then it can act as a mini-outline for how I intend the story to go. But I bet if I wrote a blurb right now for say, the “Rudabet” project, the actual novel will be vastly different. Maybe not. Let’s give it a try.

      A serpant with an insatiable appetite has swallowed the continent whole over the course of 100 years. Now, it sets its greedy black eyes on the island nation of Baidra and girds its loins for war.
      But fierce Queen Rudabet will not give up her country’s sovereinty without a fight. A wild, proud people, the inhabitants of Baidra know they cannot fight the Empire’s expertly trained troops on equal footing. They take to the trees and trenches, declaring guerilla warfare on supply lines and scouting parties.
      Lead by the Queen’s fearless consort, Kimaran, the nation’s fleet of merchant ships and pleasure boats transform into a powerful navy and rock the Emperor’s carefully laid plans. Victory – and freedom – are within their grasp and despite heavy losses, the people of Baidra refuse to be beaten. Yet, there is a traitor in their midst instigating trouble within the Queen’s court and selling information to the Emperor.
      Will Rudabet’s ferocious fighting spirit be enough to lead her people to victory?

      Hmm.
      Not 100% awful for a first try. I don’t know if I should focus more on the war or the interpersonal stuff. I didn’t mention General Abeterus at all, and he’s pretty plot-critical, but the sweeping storyline of invasion and war might be more encompassing.
      Anyway, I’d appreciate opinions (on both, but particularly “Incandescence”). I’ve read that a blurb should be under 250 words. Normally, I find that to be painfully limiting since I tend toward the verbose, but in both cases presented above I came in just under 170 (162 & 168, respectively).
      Please please please, give me some advice, guys!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

* * * * * * * * * * *

[Editor’s Update]

      Okay, taking into account some feedback I’ve gotten, let’s try an updated version…

      Although the modern world has been on a downward spiral for awhile, no one was really expecting it to end quite so soon. Yet, one hazy afternoon in March, Hannah, her brother Michael, and their 102-year-old great-great-grandmother find themselves running for their lives and struggling to survive in a world on the brink of collapse.
      As society descends into utter chaos they must withstand earthquakes and tsunamis, looting marauders, a pair of greedy empire-building bastards named Alexander & Isaac, and, at the heart of the destruction, an ancient enemy with an army of hungry children at her command. Their peaceful mountain valley may provide some protection but it only delays the inevitable confrontation.
      Fortunately for these siblings, magic is real. They are the last two mageborns on Earth. At least as far as they know.
      Now, trapped between the avaricious power of Alexander & Isaac, the collapse of civilization, and an indescribable evil – Hannah, Michael, and their motley collection of allies have no choice but to fight back.

The fine print about the give-away. One winner will be randomly selected using Random.org and that person will receive an electronic copy of “Incandescence” as an ARC before it premieres to the world. NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY. Jack is not eligible because he can have a copy anytime he wants, LOL. Otherwise, its open anyone over the age of 18 and a resident of the US. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. The entry period for this giveaway ends on Saturday September 15th, 2012 at 11:59 PM Eastern. The winner will be chosen, at Random, on Sunday September 16th, 2012 and contacted via email to claim their prize. If the prize is not claimed by September 30th, 2012 at 11:59pm EST, a second winner will be drawn. To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog entry, giving your opinion or advice on the ‘blurb’ for “Incandescence”. Ensure that you have left a valid email address. I retain the right to disqualify any comments which appear to be spam for additional chances to win, but multiple entries will be counted. PenelopePrice.net reserves the right to collect and use the winner’s name and likeness for promotional purposes. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. There is no cash alternative, this prize is provided by PenelopePrice.net, and blah blah legal jargon blah.

The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing

      Okay, I know I haven’t been posting much, so this meme is a big of a cop-out, but it looked fun and when my friend Nicole Storey tagged me, I couldn’t help but join in the Wacky Wednesday fun!
      Technically, I am supposed to tag five writer friends and make them do it. But… well, I think most of my writer friends were already tagged in this challenge (darn it!). C’est la vie! Read on to find out my oh-so-fascinating answers to these ten questions, and feel free to comment at the end.
      Also, if you want to be tagged – link back to this page and fill the questions in on your blog! I would so love to read them!

What is the working title of your book?
The working title is “Incandescence”. At this point, I’m sort of married to that title in my brain, but there’s always a chance it’ll change. Who knows?

Where did the idea for your book come from?
*scratches head* A random thought occurred to me while I was sitting on the couch at my bestie’s house. I texted it to Jack (and my own email account, as I am wont to do) and the rest is history. If it hadn’t struck so hard, I might not have ended up using it for NaNo two months later, but gosh I am glad I did. I’ve grown so much as a writer and social media maven (in training) this past year. More on that later.

What genre does your book fall under?
Modern-day Fantasy. Possibly young adult – due to the age of the protagonists – but I’m not really sure. I didn’t write it with a target audience in mind. I wrote it because the story had to come out. You know? Anyway. Hannah is 14/15, Michael is 20, Alexander is in his 20s, and then great-great-grandmother Torovaldi is 102. So… does that ‘qualify’ as young adult?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
This is so hard for me. Previously, I mentioned that the girl who plays Alexis Castle on “Castle” could have played Hannah a couple of years ago (probably too old now), with her lovely red hair and bright eyes. But who could match the image of Mike, in my mind? 20, fit, olive-skinned with dark brown hair and eyes, and a smile that makes chickadees melt. I’m sure my future readers will have great ideas, but I just don’t know!

What is the one-sentence synopsis for your book?
While the foundations of civilization crumble around them, mageborn siblings Hannah & Michael find themselves thrown into a coming war they never dreamed of and up against an ancient enemy with powers beyond imagining.

…er… maybe?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Good question. Probably self-published. At this point, I admit it, I am too disillusioned by the whole process of BIG SIX publishing to even think about pursuing that and although I am totally open to smaller presses, I’m still a little leery of legalities. If I do it myself… maybe it won’t be so… scary? Or will it be scarier? AAAAAHHH!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
For “Incandescence”, I started on November 1st with NaNoWriMo and the first draft was complete in March. The second draft, well… Jack’s whole medical issue threw our world into chaos for three or so months, so I’m really just now getting back on track with editing. I had originally hoped to have it released by September. *sniff*

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I wouldn’t. I don’t. Honestly, I’m still not sure what this genre is

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Well, I’ve written all my life. But I think between Jack and my best friend both PUSHING me to get back to writing and following my passion for words… its their fault. That’s all. They inspired me to write it and finish it.

What else about your book might pique the readers’ interests?
It features magic and mayhem! What’s not to love?

There’s a teenage girl confronting adolescence, her birthright as a magess, dealing with death and loss, with boy-trouble and with the creepy, stalkerish attention of the villain.

There’s a twenty-ish guy trying to find his footing in the adult world, coming out of the closet as a mage, thrust into position as a leader, trying to figure out how to build a future while the world he knows comes to an end.

There’s a 102-year-old matriarch with more secrets than even she knows, there’s the pair of villains, an an ancient enemy, there’s magic and natural disaster, and just when things can’t get any worse – they do!

Don’t you want to read it?

* * *
      So there it is! My Ten Questions for the Next Big Thing! (Lots of Caps for No Reason! Yay!)
      If you want to participate, snag the questions below and blog it up!

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Snippet Sunday: Before & After II

Snippet Sunday: Before & After II

      No, guys, I wasn’t kicked off the VBT. In fact, you can see an Author Spotlight on little ol’ me over at MasterKoda.com. But since my scheduled guest is experiencing some personal turmoil and had to leave the tour (sending much love & good mojo!) I decided to revert to a Sunday Snippet. Yay!
      So, today’s excerpt is a scene from “Incandescence”. Its another before-&-after-style post where I show off how important editing can be for me. Making a first draft really…sing! I use that phrase too much, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. So without first ado…

– – – – – – – – – – –

Before


      They assembled before her in borrowed clothing. Hannah had donned a pair of jeans that were both too long and too big around the waist; she had rolled the hem of the trousers up so that they brushed the top of the hiking boots she had stolen from the owners of the Cozy Coach and cinched the waist with a belt so long she had to tie the leather in a knot well past the last hole. She also wore a flannel shirt tied to reveal her midriff and her brother’s denim jacket over it. Michael was in a pair of clean Wranglers, dark and stiff with starch and a grey hoodie that featured a large, roaring brown bear. He had covered his floppy dark hair with a baseball cap and Hannah wore a black straw Stetson. Poor little Jeremy had drawn the short shrift, they had dressed him in a t-shirt that was probably Hannah’s size and made an improvised diaper out of a kitchen towel and some yarn. OLDLADYNAME was impressed by their resourcefulness; she had resorted to keeping one of Hannah’s old shirts wrapped around his little hiney all the previous day.
      “Thank you for breakfast, dafuzina,” she began, speaking slowly, giving herself time to compose the proper words. “I think we should stay here.”
      “Here? But-”
      “Humor me, damorsi. Please. I need to recouperate here – not just for the day. No, no. Hush. Let me finish. Before we leave this place, we need information and supplies. It is better if we wait here awhile.”
      The two exchanged a look that OLDLADYNAME could not define. Then Hannah nodded, crossing her arms before her thin chest.
      “Alright, OLDLADYNAME. Are you going to be okay, this morning at least, if Mike and I go exploring the place? The power still works so someone must live here, and they may be back. Better we find out the type of people they are now than after the fact.”
      Michael adjusted his cap. “And we have to see if there is a working radio or TV here, because the ones in the living room are just static. I’m still going to try to find some fuel too, in case we have to leave abruptly. Okay?”
      She nodded, a wan smile upon her wrinkled lips. “Yes.”
      Jeremy was trying to climb up onto the bed again and OLDLADYNAME looked up at Michael, imploring him silently to help the child up. Hannah removed the empty tray and came back into the room a few minutes later with a pitcher of iced tea and a pristine glass tumbler. Each of the kids kissed her forehead and murmured something about being careful, then they vanished in a whirl of denim and flannel.
      “Skib-Mommy,” Jeremy giggled, crawling over her legs, his chubby little hands grabbing at one of the lovely embroidered roses. He made his way to her torso and used her chest to pull himself to his unsteady feet. The little boy placed his hands on either side of her face with surprising tenderness and looked up at her. His deep brown eyes were velvety as a doe’s and the expression within them was so much older and wiser than belonged in the eyes of a child so young.
      “Skib-Mommy,” he repeated, patting her cheeks again. Then he wrapped his arms around her thin neck and buried his face in the crook of her shoulder. “Skib-Mommy.”
      Her heart fluttering in her chest, OLDLADYNAME hugged him back; her tears wet upon his silken black locks.
– – – – – – – – – – –

After


      They assembled before her in borrowed clothing. Hannah had donned a pair of jeans that were both too long and too big around the waist; she had rolled the hem of the trousers up so that they hung parallel with the top of her stolen hiking boots and cinched the pants with a belt so long she had to tie it in a knot. She also wore a flannel shirt tied just above her waist with Michael’s denim jacket over it. Michael was in a pair of clean Wranglers, dark and stiff with starch, and a grey hoodie bearing the image of a large, roaring brown bear. He had covered his floppy brown hair with a baseball cap. Hannah wore a black, straw Stetson.
      Poor little Jeremy had drawn short shrift. They had dressed him in a t-shirt that was probably Hannah’s size and made an improvised diaper out of a kitchen towel and some twine. OLDLADYNAME was impressed by their resourcefulness.
      “Thank you for breakfast, dafuzina,” she began, speaking slowly to give herself time to compose the proper words. “I have been thinking and I think we should stay here.”
“Here? But-”
      “Humor me, damorsi. Please. I need to recuperate here, not just for a day. No, no. Hush. Let me finish. Before we leave this place, we will need information and supplies. I think it is best to wait here for awhile.”
      The two exchanged a look that OLDLADYNAME could not decipher. After a moment, Hannah nodded and crossed her arms before her thin chest.
      “All right, OLDLADYNAME. Are you going to be okay, for this morning at least, if Mike and I go exploring a bit? The power doesn’t work, but the place is clean and stocked up. Someone must live her and they may be coming back. Better we find out what we can now.”
      Michael adjusted his cap. “And we have to find out if there is a working radio or TV here, because the ones in the living room are dead.”
      A wan smile upon her wrinkled lips, she nodded. “Yes.”
      Jeremy climbed back up onto the bed with a little boost from Michael and squealed with delight, his chubby little hands grabbing at one of the lovely embroidered roses.
      “I’ll bring some iced tea and stuff, so you don’t have to get up,” Hannah said and dashed off. She returned a few minutes later with the promised pitcher and a heavy glass tumbler. Both of the kids kissed her forehead and mumbled something vague about being careful, then they vanished in a whirlwind of denim and flannel.
      “Skib-mommy,” Jeremy crawled over her legs, giggling. He made his way to her torso and used her chest to pull himself to his unsteady feet. Placing both hands on either side of her face with surprising tenderness, Jeremy looked up at her. His deep brown eyes were velvety as a doe’s and the expression in them was much older and wiser than he was.
      “Skib-mommy,” he repeated, patting her cheeks again. Then he wrapped his arms around her thin neck and buried his face in the crook of her shoulder. “Skib-mommy.”
      Her heart fluttering in her chest, overcome with emotion, OLDLADYNAME hugged him back. Tears slipped down her cheeks.

– – – – – – – – – – –
      And that’s it for today’s snippet. What did you think? Can you pick out the changes? Its probably not as dramatic a change as the previous Before & After post, but I think that little tweaks can really make the difference in how a passage flows. So, better or worse? Comments, questions, suggestions appreciated – let me hear about it below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.