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Technically…

Technically...

      …a win.
      I counted up all the hand-written bits and pieces I’d done, feeling super sad about bailing on Camp NaNo this session and found my mind BLOWN when it turned out that I squeaked by and got a win.
      Somehow, some way, despite having a really terrible month as far as finding writing time and concentration went, I eked out 30,661 words. Yes, I lowered my goal to 30k early in the month because between the two blogs, regular correspondence, gaming RPs, and work – I knew 50k was going to be a rough goal.
      Anyway – by some miracle I “won” but it doesn’t feel like much of a win. Most of this draft of “Going Home” is going to need serious re-working, I didn’t hit 50k (the real goal), I’m going back to “Incandescence” and “Inferno” and a little depressed by that, and its nearly MAY already. Eeek!
      But, May will be a busy month. I’ve got lots of RPs and stuff to work on in addition to “Inferno”. I’m so excited to get that one finished.
      Still, for all the April felt like a lost cause, I came away with a “win”.
      …woo.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

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.

Missing In Action

Missing In Action

      Hello again folks!
      So, I haven’t had a “new” post since January 1st. I’d like to say it is because I have completed six novels and am getting published with a big fat contract… but mostly its just that life has interfered with me for the first quarter of 2013. Which is not to say that I haven’t been writing – I have – but that I haven’t been as productive as I might wish.
      That said, life as a newlywed is pretty sweet. Jack & I are the happy new “parents” of a fluffy, floppy, funny puppy and we’re just hanging out, living the life. You know. That’s how we roll *chuckle*
      I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this April, working on a new piece – notice “Going Home” on the sidebar? – but I haven’t made nearly as much progress as I’d like. Worse still, I keep wanting to go back to “Inferno”. Which is silly because I started on “Going Home” to take a break from “Inferno”. I was getting really uptight about getting it “right” instead of getting it out. I’m a firm believer in getting it on the page and worrying about “right” or “good” in the subsequent drafts.
      I pressured myself SO hard and then got SO frustrated…
      Anyway – as April Springs into life and the year really starts to warm up, I’m back on track with writing and blogging and all is well.
      Now, if only I’d get one of those previously mentioned big, fat contracts ;D Tee-hee.
      Oof! We’re getting some heavy thunder tonight and the puppy has never experienced that before. Time to pretend nothing strange is happening and hope she stays calm.

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

P.S. I promise it won’t be four months between new content!

With a Web on her Face

With a Web on her Face

This post was originally featured at Debra Jayne East’s blog as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
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      When I first started writing stories I went to the library and checked out Baby Name Books. I was eleven or so and the librarians gave me strange looks when I came back for different ones and to renew the ones I liked best. Eventually, I found some at yard sales (and much later, bought them from Amazon) so I could have my own copies on the shelf next to my poison-guide, police procedural walk-throughs, and various other reference books.
      At the time, I liked to give distinctly ‘appropriate’ names for characters. I named the clumsy friend of my main character, Claudia, which means lame. She was a clod and thus the name worked. The haunted beauty with the mysterically green eyes? I named her Jade. Also, I liked mythical and biblical or literary names. Someone meant to evoke thoughts of the ever-faithful wife might be named Penelope (Jack, take note!) or if I wanted to conjure up images of a guy who would face unsurmountable odds and win – David. Things like that. Those names have their uses and places. But really, when I was using them, they were totally…lacking in subtlty.
      These days, whether its creating names in some fantasy realm – Sarios, Damaiar, Lourdan, and Safyr – or in my modern day fantasy novel, “Incandescence”, I really do not go looking for names. At least not for the main characters. They generally just organically appear on the page as I write. Hannah and Michael Brighton. Granmama Adina. Alexander. Summit. Shalisa. Evander. Jonas. Gideon.
      Other names, I am not ashamed to admit, come to mind as homages to folks who exist in my real world. Hopefully they will be honored, not vexed, to find that characters such as Isaac, Professor McCormick, Jeremy, Zebulon, Rote, Nguyet, Emily and so on were named after them.
      For important characters – names just seem to happen. For secondary, tertiary, one-offs, and other back ground types, I rely on… whatever is around. Phone books are great for surnames and placenames. Business cards, advertisements, tv, the interwebs… Anything goes. If it suits the situation and setting, it stays. If not – I just keep looking.
      I guess what I am trying to say is that I do not have a real strong “process” for naming my characters, not anymore. If a character doesn’t name herself, or come pre-equipped with a name, I have to go in search of it. Which is why my first drafts are often littered with OLDGUYNAMEHERE and ANGRYKIDNAMEHERE… and when it comes time to fill-in the blanks, well… I’ll let you know. I’m still working on “Incandescence” and there several INSERTNAMEHEREs to fix.
      How do you name your characters? Does inspiration flash while you’re making up outlines? Do the names come first and the characters come later?
      And while we’re on the naming kick – how do you come up with your titles? Because WOW – I have trouble with titles. If you ever happen upon the WIP page of my website, you will notice that every single title is a Working Title. Because I have no idea how to name books, I simply refer to them all by a characters name (for example: Rudabet), a theme, a phrase that relates to the plot (ex: The Light of Lun), or even acronyms (ex: PASaRN).
      So – I’m going to change my question. How do you come up with solid titles for your poems, novels, shorts, papers, series, et cetera?! Because that is what this writer needs to know. *grin*

Love & Rainbows,
P.P

I Can Haz Pinterest, Plz?

I Can Haz Pinterest, Plz?

This post was originally featured at Crimson Flower Reviews & Randomness as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
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      To Pin, or Not to Pin, that is the question.
      Pinterest hit the web hard and fast last year. It just sort of EXPLODED all over the place – suddenly everyone was pinning funny quotes, cute cats, recipes, fashion (oh my gosh, the SHOES!), gossip… everything on the web with a photo or video!
      I came late to the party — odd, since I am typically so punctual — but I immediately began creating boards and adding items to them. I decided to use it less as a marketing tool (the way other authors were talking about it) and more as a way to bookmark things I liked and wanted to remember. Yes, I made a PenelopePrice.net board and I pin my blog posts to that board, but mostly on my Pinterest page (shameless plug) I pin things I “like”… things to help my readers get to know me.
      Maybe its just silly and naive, but I prefer my social media to be social instead of sales-focused. People may or may not buy my books, but this way I get to interact with people from around the world, see the things that make them tick, and just… people watch by proxy.
      One controversy (of many) which has been shaking up the blogosphere recently is about copyright protection, intellectual property, and inadvertantly stealing another artist’s work while posting photos on your blog, your Facebook wall, and your Pinterest page. A great post on the subject, and one which, if I recall correctly, kicked off the most recent swirl of debate in writing circles, can be found here.
      There are lots of great blog posts about how to find stock photos to use on your blog (for instance: http://www.dailyblogtips.com/how-to-find-free-pictures-for-your-blog/) so please, make use of them to protect yourself. On your blogs.
      But Pinterest… well…
      I am no expert, nor am I a lawyer, so I will not deign to give advice about the legalities of the whole situation. I can only say this – err on the side of caution. When you find an article you want the ‘pin’ – check the site for ‘Pin This’ buttons or check the ‘Contact’ or ‘About’ sections to see if they allow pinning. Use your common sense. And for the love of all that is sacred and holy, NEVER claim something is yours if it is not.
      Stealing is bad.
      Don’t do it.
      But pinning, well… pinning is fun! So until the lords of the interwebs declare it wrong, I for one, will continue to add recipes, nail art, books, and inspiring places to my Pinterest boards. I’ll just be a little more cautious when seeking art for my blog.

Love & Rainbows,
Prudently P.P.

Testing with Myself

Testing with Myself

This post was originally featured at Scott Seldon’s Blog as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
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      People always ask a writer where he gets his ideas and inspiration from. Neil Gaiman says, “I make them up. Out of my head” *. Stephen King’s answer is longer, but boils down to the same thing, “I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it’s seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question ‘What if?’ ‘What if’ is always the key question.” *. One of my favorite answers is from Lemony Snicket (whose NaNoWriMo PepTalk was one of the best ever). He said, “From eavesdropping and from reading other books. Writers are, pretty much thieves, stealing ideas from other people who didn’t have the foresight to write them down, and then from the people who did have the foresight to write them down.” *.
      Were you to ask me, I would probably say something similar. Where do you get your ideas, Penelope Price? Where?! From the world, from what I see or watch or read, from thin air. I get flashes of inspiration from random sensory input all the time. Most of them won’t go anywhere, but they pop up all the time and its just a matter of capturing that ephemeral spark in a jar so I can mull it over at length. Well then how do you capture the spark, Penelope Price? How?!
      Funny you should ask.
      I text myself. When an idea pops into my head, even if I have a notebook and pen close to hand (which I always do – always), I usually reach for my cellphone and get my thumbs to typing as fast as they can… which is not very fast and is usually filled with typos. Still – that little 160 character SMS gets sent to my email account where I automatically file it away under a specific tag and without much work on my part, its recorded for posterity.
      That’s how I recorded the spark that started “Incandescence” and “Inferno”.
      It was October 3rd, 2011, a Monday, and I was at work. NaNoWriMo – one of my favorite yearly events – was looming and I did not yet have an idea. I remember being worried that I would not have a plot ready to go and would fail miserably… again. Out of nine years doing NaNo, I had only “won” three times. Well, thanks to those fateful text messages – I am now four for ten.
      I had been talking to a co-worker, telling him that I wrote fantasy novels. The kind with magic and wars and intrigue and romance and armored warriors and- He interrupted me to ask if I wrote about elves and dwarves. “No, not usually”, I said pleasantly, though I was annoyed that yet another person seemed to think there were only two kinds of fantasy – Tolkien or Harry Potter.
      “Well maybe you should,” he said. “Or wait, write about elves and dwarves walking around in the modern day.”
      And I experienced one of those ephemeral sparks I mentioned earlier. I immediately tuned him out and started to texting myself. I think it took four or five texts to get the ‘idea’ out, but there it was – beautiful. Modern day mageborn siblings, the last of their kind so far as they know, struggling for survival against the end of the world.
      To thank my co-worker, I named a character after him. And then murdered it. It was epic.
      So yes, like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snicket and a whole host of other writers, I would say that my ideas and inspiration come from everywhere and nowhere, from the world at large. My job is just to snatch the good ones and develop them. To do that – I text myself. Its as simple as that.
      If someone asked you, dear friend, where do you get your ideas? What would be your response? How do you capture them? Do you have a muse who feeds you delicious tidbits of plot and character, or do you sit down and think until something awesome comes out? Or something else entirely? Comment below and let us know!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

By the Seat of my Custom-Ordered Bloomers

By the Seat of my Custom-Ordered Bloomers

This post was originally featured at BookBabe as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
———————
      Its a question every writer (okay, maybe just those who have ever participated in NaNoWriMo) must face at some point.
      Are you a pantser or a plotter?
      Which is to say, do you write by the seat of your pants (a ‘pantser’) or do you write with meticulously constructed notes and plot points (a ‘plotter’)?
      This would make a great poll – in fact, I’m posting one on my Facebook page today to coincide with this post? I wonder which is more common amongst my fellow writers and whether or not there are others like me.
      Because I go both ways.
      *ahem*
      During the best, most organic moments of writing — I am a pantser. I fly by the seat of my bloomers! I clamp on my chunky magenta headphones, crank up the playlist, and let my fingers do the work. It has been that way since I started writing books twenty years ago. Perhaps that is why I enjoy sprinting/word wars so much during NaNo; sprints are a license to just let loose and allow whatever comes out to just be.
      Yet I write a lot of fantasy, and with fantasy worlds comes world-building, history-writing, research-gathering. And I have been told that I do world-building to excess. I don’t believe that – you never know when some small nugget of information may end up being crucial to a plot! Plus, its fun. For me at least. I adore creating timelines, maps, intricate relationships between Ancestral Houses or religious institutions, webs of intrigue stretching across time and space. I have reams of pages filled with brief character sketches, key exports from certain regions, weather patterns, historical changes in geography/topography/political boundaries, lists, maps, details about the style of dress, notes from books or websites about various topics that may come up in the plot, real world mythology and legends… I could go on, but I think that gets the point across.
      I am a meticulous planner. To the point that, yes, sometimes I bog myself down in detail. But I like to err on the side of caution and have too much information than to end up stuck on some niggling detail in the midst of a hot and heavy writing session.
      But I have a shameful secret to share. Despite all my world-building, all the information I’ve put together for various projects — several of those, my dearest and most beloved projects, remain unfinished and incomplete. Probably because despite all the planning, I wrote them as a pantser and tripped myself up in the actual plot.
      Which is why, when I began my current WIP, “Incandescence” and its sequel, “Inferno”, I made a conscious decision to go against my usual modus operandi and outline the plot BEFORE I started writing. I spent a couple days before last November scribbling out first a general ‘this happens, then this, and then this, then the end’ before fleshing it out into scenes and chapters. This process has been super stream-lined thanks to Scrivener, which I purchased after winning NaNo last November.
      In the future, I am going to continue to work on my process. I think I work best with a good combination of both plotting and pantsing. Of course, the beta readers’ verdicts are still out, so…
      Anyway, my answer to the question above is muddled. I guess I would have to say that I swing both ways, and I’m comfortable that way. What about you, friends? Are you pantsers, plotters, or both? Would you consider yourself something else entirely?
      Comment below and then check out my poll on Facebook to vote and see how other people are answering!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Better Left Unsaid

Better Left Unsaid

This post was originally featured at Just Natalie as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
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      In every book, some edits must occur. Some words must be struck from the page with prejudice. They must be smited righteously to tighten the prose and make that novel sing! *ahem* Sorry, I get carried away when I’m in the throes of editing — as I am today — and I just can’t help myself.
      Anyway – its true. Snips happen. A word here, a paragraph there. Streamlining and refining.
      In editing “Incandescence” I found that while sprinting during NaNoWriMo is excellent for word count and just getting the story out, sometimes it makes for redundancy. And redundancy is death to taut prose.
      Mostly, fixing those repetitive bits just required little snips. Switching around so dialogue so characters don’t mention the same story twice or the like. I did not have to eighty-six anything major, and certainly nothing I loved.
      But there was one large scene that had to be deleted and of course it was one I really enjoyed writing and wished I could have kept in. It was a very PG romance scene — not erotic, not exactly sexual — between one of the main characters (15 year-old Hannah) and a young man who has been pining for her since the moment they met (18-year-old Luke).
      You see, Luke is a good guy with a bit of a possessive streak and a slight blind spot to how dire their circumstances are as survivors of ‘the end of the world’. He falls hard for the, admittedly, sort of weird, but spunky and funny (and magic!) redheaded teen. Patience is a virtue he possesses in great quantity, and even when he’s initially rebuffed romantically, Luke pursues her friendship.
      And he wins it. They become close despite having grown-up in two very different environments and being a few years apart in age. But Luke is not alone in his affections for Hannah. The antagonist, Alexander, also wants Hannah, though his motivations are vastly different and somewhat nefarious.
      The deleted scene, a tender first kiss and a little bit of background exposition, between Luke and Hannah just doesn’t belong. It did not make sense for the plucky magess who has been mentally tortmented for months and whose physical changes are making her withdraw from all the people around her, to suddenly being having a romantic exchange with her best friend.
      So the kiss hit the cutting room floor and the hint of potential romance with it. By the end of “Incandescence”, it was obvious that there just wasn’t a place for that sort of scene in the book. Too many other things were happening in the race to the climactic scene and smooching just has to wait.
      Darn it.
      Ah! But there is hope for the burgeoning relationship in the sequel. If poor, traumatized Hannah can get herself together, there is a really great guy waiting to wrap her in his arms and love her through it. And if she can’t, well, time will tell if Luke’s the kind to pine away or move on. Options may be limited at the end of the world, but there are still other fish in the seas.
      I hear great-great-granmama Torovaldi is single. *wink*

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Panacea, please!

Panacea, please!

This post was originally featured at Jennifer Stark’s blog as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
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      From a very young age, I was a reader. From a slightly less young age, I was also a writer. Granted, my first ‘books’ were mostly terrible 4- to 6-year-old attempts at illustrations to semi-nonsensical strings of words. Still, I like to imagine that those early “masterpieces” were the beginning stages of a wonderous disease that would color every year of my life.
      Did I just call writing a disease?
      Yes. Yes, I did.
      In a way, it has been.
      Symptoms include: a Vitamin D deficiency, oily hair, bad breath, deteriorating eyesight, chipped fingernails, and a somewhat lacking social life. I am mostly kidding. But there certainly was a time in my tweens, when I was deep in the throes of my first ‘real’ novel (which, as it turns out is only novella length, but I was proud) in which I spent a whole week of summer vacation in the basement with our super-special Tandy 2000, typing furiously. I didn’t shower, I didn’t see the sun, I didn’t speak to a soul aside from my parents and sister. But I finished the piece.
      I always thought that that week, more than any other inclinations or passions, meant that I was officially bitten by the writing bug. I had the sickness. And I was getting down with it. *insert out-dated music reference here*
      Today, almost exactly twenty years later, I shower regularly, brush my teeth, and take better care of both my fingernails AND my social life, however, I am still sick with this disease. I’m afraid I’ve got a terminal case.
      Maybe I should get out in the sunshine more…
      Anyway. That first novel was, admittedly, pretty awful. A girl named Whitney was kidnapped. She had to escape somehow. I think she tried and failed twice, but her determination not to break gave a second captured girl a surge of confidence and together they managed to flee. The details elude me, but I still have the whole thing filed away in storage. The ending was chock full o’ cheese and smarm. If I recall correctly, the kidnappers were caught and tried and put away forever and Whitney and her fellow-escapee became best friends. Then Whitney’s parents adopted her. I don’t know why or how.
      After that, I was hooked. I didn’t stop writing for anything. I wrote three other novels (too short by technical definitions) including my first foray into the realm of fantasy, a faux-historical romance-adventure, and countless poems. In addition to the paperbacks I always carried around – to sneak a few more pages of reading in between lessons, at lunch or on the bus – I now lugged around notebooks and special writing pens. I spent more and more time at the computer and was often found there at 3 a.m. when I should have been sleeping because some great idea had woken me and HAD to be recorded. To this day, I have dozens of ideas, outlines, character sketches, and semi-fleshed-out worlds just waiting to be rediscovered and written about.
      Throughout my High School and collegiate years, I continued to amass snippets and tidbits and ideas for novels. I wrote a trilogy of young adult fantasy novels about four girls with magical bloodlines trying to save the world. Begun, but never finished, was a novel that I have always referred to as my magnum opus and that I hope one day to be wise enough to complete. Delving into the world of roleplay, I took a tangental path and began writing elaborate backgrounds and companion stories for my characters. This spun into a whole other web of potential novels and introduced me to my life partner, fiancé and soulmate, Jack.
      Somehow, despite struggling to find time and balance in my life, I always come back to words, to writing. It is as necessary to me as breathing. I am not sure my heart could pump if there were no characters brewing in my head, no words waiting in my fingertips ready to be scribbled into life.
      I suppose, writing has not been so much a disease as an antidote, a cure.
      The magical pill that keeps me sane and whole and creatively fulfilled.
      Its no weight-loss wonderdrug, but it suits me fine.
      How about you? When did the writing bug bite you? Or do you prefer to read? Did the passion for books and words start when you were a kid or later in life? I’d love to hear your ‘origins’ stories below!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

More Than Words

More Than Words

This post was originally featured at Just Natalie as part of the TTC/MK VBT 2012.
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      Music is just about as necessary to my process as you know, words, ideas, and uh… breathing. It is very rare that I choose silence when I’m writing. However, the best mojo comes when I am able to turn on a playlist, hit shuffle, and tune out all the lyrics and drums and screaming dinosaur rockers and just hit THE ZONE.
      When I was a tween, writing my first novel, I had a cassette tape of Bryan Adams’ “So Far, So Good” a greatest hits compilation. I could hit play on that album and start typing. Then I’d blink and the whole side would be over and I’d have vomited a few thousand more words onto the page. Hours might have passed and I was none the wiser, so wrapped up in THE ZONE was I.
      I literally wore that tape out. One night, right in the middle of a climactic fight sequence, the ribbon snapped and I cried. I cried like my grandmother had died all over again. I was afraid I would never be able to write again. Well, I have written many thousands of words since I was twelve, but I am sad to say I have never quite reached that level of instant ZONE-ness. Even after I finally got a disc man and a copy of “So Far, So Good” on CD.
      Alas.
      When I think of a song that seems to fit my WIP, Incandescence, the first thing that came to mind was “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones for the antagonist, Alexander. Then “Mommy, Can I Go Out & Kill Tonight” by the Misfits for his cousin-slash-cohort, Isaac. But those don’t really apply to the story as a whole…
      So I turned to Jack and asked, “Jack, what song would you say describes my book?”
      He quirked a brow, opened a browser to Youtube.com and played this:
      (link to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVmB3lRjCmc)
      And I laughed. I guess I talk too much about how the setting is – the near future, as the world we know crumbles.
      C’est la vie. That isn’t part of my standard writing soundtrack, but it sure works for me.
      So – have you read anything lately that brings to mind a specific song or genre? What and why? C’mon – tell me all about it!

Love & Rainbows,
P.P.