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Colorful

Colorful

      I sort of hate the term “people of color”.
      It makes me feel like I’m segregating people, and I’m all about integration.
      Also, since I don’t “qualify” as a “person of color”, I’m left out and damn it, I’m a whole conglomeration of pale, pink, yellow, red, brown (freckles)… tee-hee. Okay, that’s petty, but sort of true.
      Its occasionally difficult, as a fantasy writer, to find that perfect phrase to describe a character’s complexion or outward appearance without coming off as cliché or politically correct or worse, racist. At least, I have come across it and found it to be troubling.
      “Incandescence” features a pretty big and diverse cast, but the three “mains” are all related and all “white”. Hannah is pale with gorgeous reddish hair and weird eyes. Michael has his grandmother’s coloring – exotically tan with big dark eyes and brown hair – but he’s still considered
Caucasian. I picture a sort of Italian/Grecian type. Like my own mother – you’d never guess we’re related since I’m all pale Irish with reddish-brown hair and she’s black hair, dark eyes, olive skin. And their great-great-grandmother, who has gone grey/white, was dark-haired, dark-eyed, and olive skinned in her youth.
      Many of the other characters at the Freehold are white. But some are biracial, or Hispanic, or Black, or Asian, or Native American, or Middle Eastern. Because this is a “real world” novel, its pretty clear that a fellow named Sreejith is likely of Indian heritage. I don’t have to beat his skin color and appearance into their heads.
      But what about Luke and Beth? Their skin color is mentioned when they’re introduced, I believe, but not again afterward. Because it doesn’t matter to the story – they are important for who they are, and what they do, not for being black.
      It makes me think of the controversy that popped up (especially from young people on Twitter) after “The Hunger Games” movie came out. No one was upset that Thresh was a “big, black dude” (semi-barbarian, and compared to an ox by Katniss). But dear Lord, when they saw that a character that they liked and empathized with was black (sweet little Rue) – they flipped out.
      And I’m not sure why – it was made very clear in the book that Rue had dark skin. Without coming out and saying it in modern US-slang (calling her black or saying outright that she was likely of some African descent)… it was apparent to Jack & I when we first read it.
      Whitewashing. That’s what they call it when we (globally a minority) privileged Americans assume all characters are “like us”. Most of my fantasy worlds include a vast variety of skin colors. Frequently, people are what I would call “shades of brown”.
      But how to get that across without repetition of “chocolate” “teak” “mahogany” “brown” “tan”… and is it offensive to use things like “white as milk” or “dark as fine chocolate”? It wouldn’t bother me if someone said I was the color of vanilla ice cream, but maybe someone who has been marginalized for their skin color would object to being compared to food?
      Its a pretty complex subject, when it comes down to it, and I’m not qualified to give advice or anything. But I think it is important to think about these things; not to get mired in them, but to really consider things like this.
      Or not.
      I mean, who am I to say?
      …aaaaand now I’ll be singing that Leah Andreone song all damn evening.

Love & Rainbows (hah!),
P.P.

Mosquito Netting

Mosquito Netting

      Oh man! The humidity here at Camp is already killing me and there are so many bugs-
      Er… wait, my imagination is running away with me. But today is July 1st and thus, the beginning of July’s Camp NaNoWriMo. Its a virtual cabin-in-the-woods in which a whole slew of crazy would-be and already-are writers take on the famed November challenge (to write a novel in 30 days) in the dog days of summer.
      We’re all insane.
      But that’s OKAY! Camp is more relaxed than November – you can set your word goal down and spend more time at the lake if need be – but it is still a wonderful ‘tool’ for writers like me, who seem to work best under specific ‘goals’ or time constraints.
      This year, Jack and I are both attempting it and he’s actually signed up for a cabin on the CampNaNo page and interacted a bit with the ladies we’re bunking with. He’s also going back to school so, he’ll be a busy boy this July.
      My secondary goal, is to update the blog here each day in July (though likely not from July 14-22 as I’ll be travelling and probably away from a computer) with my progress – though, as long as I’m writing, if I forget to splash it here I won’t stress too much about it.
      Now, Day One blog is complete, but guess what? Day One writing is not… so I’m off to my bunk to apply pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, in this case) and write, write, write!
      Wish me luck!
      And someone send me some sunblock SPF +1000, I’m fair and its sunny and I’m DYING out here!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Review: Her Demonic Majesty, by Cassidy Frazee

Review: Her Demonic Majesty, by Cassidy Frazee

      Ah, my first book review on PP.net.
      This isn’t because I don’t read – I just rarely manage to put my thoughts about that which I do read together in a cohesive manner. Yeah, okay, I admit it – I’m just lazy. But I’m also hyper-critical and unless I love, love, love a book, I tend to pick it apart in my mind.
      Good for construction of my own stories, bad for … everything and everyone else.
      I’m pleased to say that Her Demonic Majesty, by Cassidy Frazee is a book that I really enjoyed, that I totally recommend, and that I hope you click on any of the links above to purchase (Note: Not affiliate links!).
      Here’s the review, as posted on Amazon.com. I will elaborate below:

      I picked up “Her Demonic Majesty” by Cassidy Frazee, absolutely sure that it was not for me and that I would probably not enjoy it.

      I am thrilled to have been proven wrong, wrong wrong.

      From the first chapter through to the coda, Ms. Frazee’s characters come to vivid life on the page in a really brilliantly re-imagined alternative Chicago. Jeanette is more than a fish-out-of-water – she’s a fish-in-a-TARDIS, thrust into a totally alien (but kick-ass!) new situation. The story thrums with action, but the pace is such that it allows for character development, sufficient backstory, and like I said, great world-building.

      I don’t know if she has any further novels planned with Jeannette and the other ladies, but if she does, I’ll be right here waiting. Its a modern-day, urban, fantastical romp complete with magic and mayhem, a demoness, a vampire, political red-tape and a slew of memorable moments.

      So, despite the leanings of “Incandescence” (which is frankly more “rural” than “urban” fantasy, haha!) I’m not really into the whole urban fantasy scene. I’ve dabbled. I’ve liked some pieces and disliked other bits, but as a whole, I’m not a super-fan. This book makes me wonder what else I’m missing in the genre. The re-imagined landscape of Chicago is intriguing and retro-rad. The characters all have so much lurking beneath the surface – I honestly hope we get more books about Jeannette and the rest of her crew so we can delve into backstories and motivations and all that junk.
      I do take a little exception to some of the language (I can cuss like a sailor, believe it or not, so its not that I get my panties in a twist over cursing) just because it seemed, at times, excessive. Maybe people talk like that, maybe it all suits. I just found myself occasionally thinking – does she (the character, not the author) not know any other words besides “shit”?
      There are some adult moments, some implied kink, a succubus with an intimate piercing, and a couple well-placed twists that will really leave you wanting more. I just cannot say more without giving it away. Obviously, if you’re offended by a lesbian kiss or hot chicks in leather kicking ass with magic, this book is not for you.
      But, if you’re into that and you have four bucks and a few hours to spare – pick up “Her Demonic Majesty”. Do it! Penelope Price demands it! MUAHAHA! *cough* No really, you totally should.
Kindle CoverNook/SW Cover
Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Home is Heaven…for Beginners.

Home is Heaven...for Beginners.

      Home.
      They say its where your heart is. Or that where your heart is, so then is home. There are two interpretations of that statement as far as I can see. The literal; that in which ever physical location your actual beating heart is, that is your home. Or the metaphysical; your home is where your heart lives – where your love lies.
      Both can be true, I think, depending on circumstance. Technically, I am at home right now, where I sit writing this rambling, potentially incoherant essay. My literal heart is thumping away in its usual, rhythmic manner whilst my body occupies a seat before the computer at my desk. In my apartment. Surrounded by my (okay, our) things. I am, to speak in the most semantical of ways, at home.
      But if you were to ask me, “Penelope Price, where is home to you?” I would most certainly not answer: “That brown chair in my apartment.”
      Well, I might. Because I spend a lot (no really, A. LOT.) of time in it. Chances are, however, my answer would be something more philosophical.
      “What a wonderful question, friend!” I might say, if I were a patronizing douche (which I fervently hope I am not, generally speaking). “Home can mean so many things to so many people! But for me, home is [redacted].”
      I really like my apartment. I adore its location (mostly) and our neighbors. I quite like that Jack’s mother lives a matter of minutes away on foot. I absolutely love that Jack is there and that we are building our life together there. It is “home”. But…
      Home is [redacted]. Not the suburb of Seattle I grew up in – though I still get a little misty when I see my mountain rising up from the mists on a foggy King County morning – nor is it any of the cities I’ve lived in here in Pennsylvania – though I have spent about five years here now. Home is the sleepy collegiate cow-town I moved to after High School. The town I have tried to escape a few times. The town that always draws me back. The town that I dreamt of raising little Jack Jr. in. The town where my mother lives, and my platonic soulmate, and my best friend.
      [redacted].
      That’s home to me. No matter where I live, where my ‘stuff’ is, or where I travel, I have never just felt home the way I do when I see the valley sprawling out before me. It calls to me with a siren’s song, “Come back to me, Penelope, come back…baaaaaaaack…” And I do. Over and over again. Hell, I wish I were there right now. And maybe one of these days, when I no longer have to rely on an income generated outside of the house, I will move back and raise my family there and let them spread my ashes into the ever-present wind and rest there eternally.
      Because I believe that while I live wherever Jack and I lay our heads, and that my heart belongs to him, for me, home will always be defined as [redacted].

Love & Nostalgic Rainbows,
P.P.

P.S. For the sake of personal privacy… and because the residents may or may not have chased me out with pitchforks and torches on more than one occasion… I’ve omitted the actual name of my home town.

P.P.S. The title is a quote from an American clergyman called Charles Henry Parkhurst and when I think of home, and how much I love home, I can’t help but think that even if he meant something entirely different… for me, its utterly true.

Inconceivable

Inconceivable

      To my darling H.P. …
——————
      Once upon a time, a quartet of children, bundled up in varying degrees of poofy winter gear, went out to play in the snow. They numbered four and were of mixed sexes; three little girls and one little boy. The rural countryside was still and white and crisp; their breath was wispy, dancing smoke in the air. Arms laden with toys, the children marched across the yard, the gravel road (which was grey and sludgey and not at all beautiful like the rest of the virgin winter wonderland), and up a short incline. There, they sat beside the railroad tracks and began to play.
      If I recall, Cynthia and Whitney had a fight with Ken and Cliff and Alyssa, but they all made up and danced in the snow together.
      The storyline wasn’t exactly memorable, but the experience was.
      Playing Barbies in the snow with my kid sister and two of our cousins is one of my most cherished memories of childhood. We played Barbies in the snow, in the sun, in the rain. They had carnivals in the attic and went on a roadtrip across the back porch in the big pink off-brand doll-sized van my sister got for her birthday one year. Telling stories, no matter how silly or inconsequential, was important to my cousin and I, even then.
      Yes, we played Barbies together, you and I. And that turned into inventing whole casts of characters to tell stories about as we grew. BHG forever. Pen pals through-out the tumultuous teenage years; your letters the bright spots in mostly mundane life. I still dream of that time you and I sat discussing your novel to the exquisite, tinkling Thousand Golden Bells. How excited I was to receive an extra-fat envelope with your loopy handwriting on it because that meant there was either a really long letter or printed-out pages of your story.
      A dark period came when we did not write or talk very much. You had graduated and were busy living life and discovering yourself; I was still in school and wrapped up in the characters that lived in my head. Getting them out and on paper was more pressing than writing letters, I suppose. I missed you then.
      Graduation came and through circumstances that at the time seemed like my world crumbling around me but which, in retrospect, were certainly Fate shining her lovely influence upon my path, I came to live with you. How did I phrase it? I have come to roost in this farmhouse; it is a shrine to my gay cousin’s bachelorhood. Something like that. All I recall is that at the time I thought was terribly poetic.
      I was afraid I could never fit in to your new, cosmopolitan (yes, even in [redacted] you seemed so sophisticated and worldly) life with your wild and exotic new friends.
      Maybe I never did fit in, exactly, but I treasure that time as some of the best in my life.
      We were roommates for awhile and we shared more stories in those months than I can count; Posie, Leah, Edea. And afterward, no matter where our paths lead us, we still had the interwebs to communicate and so we always had each other. I could not even begin to recount the memories we share, the collaborations we wrote, the laughs we laughed, the sugarlard we consumed.
      You are my bestie and my sistie. We’re connected despite the distance.
      More than roommates. More than cousins. More than friends.
      Soulmates.
      Platonic (mostly) soulmates.

You might think it strange, but I know that you can fly.
I know you don’t believe, but there’s Heaven in your eyes.
And when you think you’re not enough, just know that I do.
Even though its inconceivable to you.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Cousins by blood, friends by choice.

Cousins by blood, friends by choice.

P.S. Happy Birthday H.P. ~ I love you.

P.P.S. Lyrics by Leah Andreone. If you don’t know her – go out and listen to the two albums we loved and listened to: “Veiled” and “Alchemy”.

P.P.P.S. Image below by Alko from StockXchng. Quote by Darlene Shaw. Fonts are “Al Kisah”, “KG Love You Through It” and “Architect’s Daughter”.

Whiskey Cream Sauce

Whiskey Cream Sauce

      I am truly blessed.
      I get to work from home.
      Lots of people, myself included, talk about how they wish they could work from home, how wonderful it would be, how much more stuff they would get done, how much more time they would have, blah-blah blahbbity-blah-blah-blah. And to some extent, it is true. Here’s a list:

  • More Time: save an hour a day in commute time
  • Eat Better: using that ^ hour to make breakfast
  • More Accomplished: sneaking laundry or chores into my breaks
  • No Shoes: I fucking hate shoes. Don’t have to wear them.
  • No Socks: Double-ditto that!
  • Comfy Clothes: I can work in my PJs, if I so choose.
  • Always Home: No missed deliveries!
  • Peace & Quiet: No constant hum of other people distracting me

      And that all sounds pretty awesome, right? It totally is. I am about to ‘go to work’ right now and all I have done to prepare is roll out of bed, brush and corral my crazy hair into a ponytail, scrub my teeth, and come to the pseudo-office-space to log-in. Note that – get dressed – is no where on that list. Tee-hee.
      Unfortunately, one of my biggest goals in working from home, was sketching out more time to write and I have not really managed that at all. I seem to have even less time for writing. Plus, not all is as rosy as you might think when you’re alone (mostly) all day, trying to work at home.

  • More Time: Somehow translates to even less time for writing.
  • No Commute: Going to the store means leaving home, rather than a stop on the way.
  • Comfy Clothes: PJs almost every day makes you feel like a schlub.
  • Eat Better: No vending machine for a 2:30 pick-me-up.
  • Always Home: What’s the weather like? I have no windows!
  • Alone: No one to talk to (except chatting) or ask questions.

      So, its not a perfect situation. But I do prefer it and I really do feel blessed that my incredible bosses have allowed (nay – asked!) that I work from home. I’m just saying – its not as ideal as I always envisioned.
      I get up at 5:30 a.m., perform my morning ablutions, try to blog OR work on editing, attempt to catch up on my Facebook, ignore Twitter entirely, and then – work starts. My job is not one with much down-time, alas. The phone is always ringing, the inbox is always hopping, and before I know it – its quitting time. Then the evening comes, and after all day in this chair, the last thing I want to do is spend more time here, but I must. First, we’ll make dinner, then take a walk, then hang out with Jack, and then write- Oh crap! Its bedtime. Well, I’ll get to it in the morning. And repeat. Ad nauseum.
      I’m just putting this out there as a cautionary tale.
      Working from home does not mean you will magically have time to write.
      You’re still going to have to eke it out wherever you can. You’re still going to have to put in the time and effort. You’re still going to have to DO something about it, if you want to be a writer.
      How? Well, here’s another spiffy list!

  • Steal twenty minutes before work (like I am now) and blog or sprint or flash fiction – just to keep your writing muscles supple.
  • Schedule time and STICK to the schedule.
  • Make daily goals and keep journal/spreadsheet to track them.
  • Accept that some days you may not make your goals…
  • …but NEVER stop trying!

      Life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, right? Well sometimes, life hands you lemonade and it turns out you fucking HATE lemonade. What then? Reduce that junk down in a pot with some butter and cream and whiskey and pour it over your asparagus.
      Wait- what?
      The point is – well, a) I watch too much Chopped, and b) even things you think you want may not be what you really need or like. But you’re a writer, right? A creative-type. So turn it on its ear and make it work for you. If you are serious about it, you have to REALLY work at it.
      Have I ever mentioned how much I hate really working at anything? That’ll be another blog post.
      For now, just… keep writing. Keep reading. And try that lemon-butter-whiskey cream sauce. It sounds ridiculously good right now…

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

The Temptation

The Temptation

      Recently, a friend in a writing group asked a question that plagues me as a writer.

How do you avoid the temptation of a shiny, new idea while you’re in the middle of writing/editing your WIP?


      I have no good answer for that.
      Historically, I can say that I have been notorious for dropping one project like its hot to snatch up the latest idea in my brain. Usually, that means both end-up unfinished and I’m off to a third idea. This is the reason, if you click on my “WIPS” page, you will see seven listed projects – in addition to Incandescence, my current focus. Seven does not begin to cover the irons I have in the fire. In fact, before this page is published, I am going to add a third section to that page just to remind myself of all the stuff I have to finish! Hopefully it’ll turn out to be motivating rather than overwhelming. We shall see.
      Anyway – the original question is an important one. How do we avoid the temptation to move onto something new?

  • Absolute Denial: you can completely ignore those new thoughts & ideas to maintain focus on your WIP. Of course, you could be missing out on your magnum opus.
  • Calculated Pause: give yourself a measured amount of time to scribble out notes on your new idea and when it runs out, back to the WIP.
  • Full Stop: take a break from you WIP and give your full attention to the new idea.
  • Split Attention: write both!

      For me, I can immediately strike Absolute Denial and Split Attention from the list. I abhor the idea of not, in some way, recording inspiration when it strikes. I carry around a notebook and pen at all times, for just such an emergency. And – should I be caught without said items, I always have my phone on my person and I frequently text cryptic ideas to my email address. Still worse, is trying to focus on two distinct storylines, sets of characters, worlds… I have to concentrate on my book’s cannon lest I end up with scenes (as had happened in past works) in which a previously murdered side character is chiming in on the group’s new plan to escape. Not ironically or as a ghost, but because Split Attention allowed me to forget what had happened to her.
      I’m the same way when reading. I prefer to stick to one thing at a time and focus on it and do it ‘right’, rather than read half-a-dozen willy-nilly. When I was a kid, I did that all the time and kept it straight. These days, I’d probably end up confusing Mr. Darcy with Mr. Frodo and wondering why he was spending so much time with the ladies when there was a ring to toss into Mount Doom.
      Full Stop must also be stricken from my list. If I Full Stop – I end up Full-Never-Get-Back-To-Previous-Work. As my list of WIPs illustrates nicely.
      This year, once Incandescence and its sequel are finished, no matter many lovely new characters pop into my head, I am making it my goal to practice the Calculated Pause. Take notes on new ideas and put them into the pot for safe keeping, then immediately back to the WIP. The WIP takes precedence. Total focus. Total dedication.
      And now I have Meghan Tonjes’ song in my head again.
      (I’d link that song now, but I’m sharing her in a week for Tuesday’s Tunes post, so… you can wait… or Google her… or click here.)

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

April Showers

      It has been (blissfully) grey and drizzly these past few days. I say blissfully not because I believe in the old adage that April Showers bring May Flowers, nor because April Showers is probably the pen name I would publish erotica under (should I ever write any), but because I love rain.
      Growing up in the Seattle area helped. No, its not like they say – rain every day, mold growing behind our ears. That’s London-weather. Seattle has amazing weather. Yes, we get measurable moisture sprinkled down upon us 300 days a year, but by and large – especially in the spring – it comes in the form of a light morning drizzle that leaves the afternoon clear and beautiful. Though I will admit, some of my favorite days were the ones in which countless tiny ‘storms’ passed over us. A sudden sprinkle from 3:02 to 3:04 pm and then blue skies!
      I may have just SQUEE’d in gleeful memory.
      The weather is not like that here in Pennsylvania. It comes in furious bursts, lingers like a petulant child, and if it does not do damage to something, I swear it just returns next time hotter/wetter/windier/colder than before.
      Its no fun for a foothills flower like myself.
      So when, after a “winter” (and we use the term loosely this year…) like this past one, which included not one, but several weeks of 70+ degree weather, I embrace the grey, the rain, the lack of humidity, and the cool, crisp breezes. THIS, I scream, is what early Spring should be!
      Then, I come inside and check the weather forecast.
      As lovely as it is out there this morning, cool and clear, by the time I get off work it will be awful. Muggy and 65 degrees and no wind or rain in sight.
      Bring back my April Showers. Please!
      Damn it.

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.