Collaboration Celebration!


There were times when we were sorely tested. Would we give up or follow through? Neither of us had ever been through the entire process necessary to publish a book. We had no idea. We thought we were too old, too tired, too broken, but we kept each other going even through our toughest times. There have been obstacles large and painful. We realize we haven’t mentioned our book for a while here on 2penthrupain. We’re happy that we finally get to share this news with you. It’s been a year and a half to go through the entire process of getting one book to press. We discover now, the week of release has arrived! This experience is surreal.



Synopsis: Sadie Myers is in a funk. Everyone who loves her seems to leave. No one remembered her fifteenth birthday—not even her parents. They have grown distant and moody ever since tragedy struck the family one year ago. Since that terrible day, Sadie’s life has become a dark brew of strange visions, unearthly messages, and vivid dreams in which a mysterious shadow man follows her every move. Are all these bizarre happenings real or figments of a troubled mind? When Sadie is pulled into a world so different from her own, everything she thinks she knows is turned upside down. Will she find the truth behind these unsettling episodes? Sadie will need to muster every ounce of courage and resilience she possesses in order to walk through the shadows, the fear of unknown evil, and—most important—get to the other side alive.



The ebook version of our first collaborative book, Ghost of a Shadow: Book One of the Sadie Myers Chronicles, is a Young Adult Dark Fantasy which will be available at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and other online booksellers December 4th. The paperback version will be posted on that date for pre-order with availability on December 15th. The hardcover book will be out early next year.


Thank you for your being here with us.






The Tense Silence of Our Youth



Instead of Hansel and Gretel, we have been Hannah and Gerta perhaps – two who find themselves lost in the great forest while the breadcrumbs meant to indicate a way home provide nourishment for ever watchful crows.

There have been times we both felt this way. Some of them have been simultaneous.

This state of being included some of our greatest obstacles, not only in writing but in day-to-day living. Hard to go forward when we’re looking back.

Struggles though these times have been keenly disheartening, but reminders from family and friends that everything is relative often sustains us.

Or turning around from running away to face the fear, the discomfort, the pain until it has nothing more to say, no more to deliver.

Like a string of pearls reversing into velvet black time, these difficulties have also formed a radiant calm and beauty, encouraging reflection.

Through all of this, we’ve managed to accomplish what once seemed impossible.

We’re still at it.

Why Does the Cricket Cry at Midnight?


Happy Halloween reading!


I stayed late to finish the Massey project. Yup, lucky me. I’d lost the coin toss… again. I could swear those partners rigged it.

It was 11:30 p.m., and the last train left at midnight. I’m not going to make it. What choice did I have but to indulge in a taxi. Those drivers! The way they zipped in and out of the most impossible traffic. I paid the fare and gave a generous tip when we arrived ten minutes early.

They announced the track number, and a rush of people ran toward me and the singular door leading to the stairs. Already standing next to the announced entrance, I was the fifth person inside. How lucky am I? With the crowd on my heels, I clambered down the stairs. For a brief moment I worried about the danger should any of these commuters trip and fall. My world would come crashing down.

This was the train’s starting point out to the Jersey suburbs, which meant I had my choice of seats. Lucky me again. I walked between cars until I found my favorite spot; the eggplant-colored benches with the extra high neck supports. They were two across, and I hoped no one would sit near me. There was a real chance of having some space for myself.

I placed my briefcase on the seat to my right and folded my heavy winter coat carefully beside it. I moved to the window and sat down, peering at the blackness of the station. I closed my eyes. Finally, some peace. It had been a long, tough day full of chatter and concentration, argument and debate.

Then I heard it. So loud in my ear it might have been a scream against the softly whooshing background noise of the train taking off. It was distinct: a cricket. Am I the only one hearing this? Start and stop. Start and stop.

Normally, an irritant like this would have been quickly sought out and destroyed. I was neither a fan of the sound nor its intermittent nature. I didn’t know when the next burst of interruption might come. It was undependable, and I didn’t like that. I couldn’t determine his location, but if that little bugger kept it up, I’d find him in no time.

Tired, I longed for bed. The cricket chirped once, as if in agreement.

The train pulled out with an unusual lurch. Every sensation seemed exaggerated. We rolled along, gathering speed. Though the noise inside the train grew with its rocking motion, the cricket outdid it by far.

A train passing in the opposite direction was completely dark inside. My heart sank a little seeing that. I wished to go all the way home without the lights going out. The night was frigid, and even a few moments without heat would mean the inconvenience of putting on my heavy coat, which I probably wouldn’t do.

I raised my head above the seat backs to have a look around the car. Surprisingly, there was only one other passenger, seated all the way in the back corner near the door to the next cabin. He had on a long black coat with the collar pulled up around his ears. A hat covered most of his face. His skin was taut against his teeth, stretching from his squared chin back through his jawline.

Dressed all in black gave him a familiar echoing ring, like something from a Sunday afternoon TV Chiller Theater. An odor of mud and moldy leaves crept down the aisle. A chill filled the train car as a shiver ran up my back. Brrrr. Shake it off. Your imagination is playing with you, William.

I wanted to call my wife earlier, but to my dismay the cell was dead. I had been too busy to phone before leaving the office, not that they encouraged long distance calls from there anyway. I hoped she would just realize it was one of those occasional late nights and not worry. She was prone to worrying. And now, I’m worried too. Get a grip. You’re just overtired.

The cricket chirped. I jumped, briefly forgetting about tall, dark, and creepy. It was the distraction I needed. There it sat, on top of my briefcase, rubbing those stalk-like legs together. It tilted its head while we observed each other. Isn’t nature weird? I would never have thought up such a creature. I wasn’t the creative type like that. I loved orderly things, plenty of sharpened pencils in the containers, folders straightened, coffee poured to a comfortable level in the mug. The simple pleasures.

Another train flew by. It was also dark inside, though this time I could see two figures by the windows. One in the back and one in the middle of the cabin. They seemed familiar, but I couldn’t be sure. There was a slight change in the pitch of the cricket’s song. It slowed down a bit and wasn’t quite as high and energetic as it had been. I felt concern. How odd.

I leaned my head against the window and exhaled. The resultant steam left a patch where I could do as the kids did and draw some message or picture, but I chose not to.

Another train approached. It began to slow down. This time I could get a good look at it. Dark like the other trains, I again saw two figures, and in my memory they seemed identical to the last set except for where one of them was. As it slowed even further, I noticed the one figure, sitting, was shockingly familiar. The other hunched over him.

The seated man’s suit appeared identical to mine, his five-o’clock shadow visible across the darkened track. It could have been my cousin or twin, but no. I knew it was me. My own self. My whole body gave a quick, violent shudder.

The cricket let out a weak distant chirp. I wanted to check and make sure it was still safe on the seat beside me, but I dared not look away from this vision of myself, now slumped in the seat, head against the window. There was no evidence of breath steaming up the glass. What’s happening to me? Wake up now!

My heart pounded as both trains stopped. Palms sweaty, I looked at my briefcase. The cricket leapt off it and onto the back of my seat, as the man in the rear of the car rose and walked toward us. The cricket let out a loud screech. A desire to snuff out its life before something horrible happened came over me. It would be the kind thing to do. Get up! Run, William! The lights flickered, and then, only darkness.


Sprint n’Splat



How have you been?

As for us, here’s this month in collaboration:

These questions go through both of our minds, and we discuss them every time:

Does my sister condemn me?

Does she pass judgement or accuse me of slacking?

No, she never does. We’d like to get to the place where we can accept this as truth, rather than adding stress to our lives worrying what the other will think.

And to be honest, worrying over what each one of us thinks… of ourselves.

At its best, collaboration provides the way for us to keep up our dedication amid setbacks.

Having a partner oftentimes raises energy. Even when one is decidedly NOT up for anything, small tasks can be done by the other. We have to be okay with that.

We have the best intentions every day.

We had a good run for a couple of weeks at the beginning of June, revising our second draft, left, right, and center.

THEN, we tripped…. health-wise: our usual unwelcome, annoying, and intermittent experience turns around and bites us again.

No matter how many times we’ve been through the two steps forward/one step back thing, every time we have a good run, we forget that interruption could be lurking round the next bend… in this case, Chapter 28.

Patience, love, and compassion win the day in these situations, even if we can’t see it right away. What is most important after all?

As with location for putting up a successful business, communication is essential for collaboration.

How do you get through your rough patches? What are the tools you find most helpful when you doubt yourself?

We’d love to hear from you.

Awareness of the Cue



A day we couldn’t work brought a new perspective.


We both carry a sense of guilt when we can’t do something we’d like to accomplish. No matter that it may stem from the fact that our bodies won’t comply or we’re too distracted by pain, fog, sensory overload, and/or the fear that it will continue to be ‘this way.’ The thing for us to remember is that these situations turn out, time and time again, to be a kind of soil from which grows meaningful writing, revision, or an entire reframing of that part of the story.


Every hesitation, need for self-care, change of plans, detour – every hiccup along the way – is an opportunity. The longer we dwell on potential negative impacts, like time lost, the more time we spend forgetting the benefits. These come from the cause and effects which are rarely within our sole conscious control.


We are learning – sometimes quickly, sometimes after repeated cueing experiences. Awareness of these cues can be a great help whether we are writing or revising. They try to tell us: “Do not be so hard on yourself. Take your speck of sand and make from it your pearl.”


For example, we lost the last nineteen chapters of the book. Sort of…


We recently finished the book and returned to the first chapter of the last nineteen (at that point it would’ve been Chapter 63) to do some revision work. We had the clever idea to do all of this work in one Word document which would later be added into Scrivener ™ in chapter-sized segments.


The story goes something like this…


Once upon a time, we had an extremely productive day. One of those in-the-flow, amazing days. Unfortunately, we had an issue which shut down Word ™ but didn’t save our document correctly. We lost the entire last day’s hours of writing and all of the revision, but in its place after a brief pity party, we came up with back story and another twist we wouldn’t have otherwise conceived.


One key was to begin writing again the instant we discovered – and accepted the reality – that this had actually occurred. Much of the work we’d done was still in our short term memory banks, though some things were irretrievably lost, which was okay.


When we’re in the midst of feeling unwell, we feel awful about what looks like waste. The minute we get back in the flow, we realize how much insight and creativity happened in the meanwhile.


Are there times when you are hard on yourself or times when you could see that an otherwise fallow time yielded fruit?

Productivity and Persistence



There’s an old song that goes something like,

“The bear went over the mountain,
The bear went over the mountain,
The bear went over the mountain,
To see what he could see

To see what he could see,
To see what he could see

The other side of the mountain,
The other side of the mountain,
The other side of the mountain,
Was all that he could see

Was all that he could see,
Was all that he could see,
The other side of the mountain,
Was all that he could see!

To the tune of ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.’  Written By: Unknown, Copyright Unknown


I was surprised that these were the lyrics as I remembered ones that were slightly but semantically different. Many websites are in agreement, however what I remember after ‘To see what he could see,’ was “He saw another mountain, He saw another mountain… “

It’s like the game of ‘Telephone,’ I suppose. Passing along lyrics over the years is like that. I find the whole of language shifting over time in particular ways very revealing. Concepts, rigor and openness of thought, and how we change as human beings are meaningfully buried in the history of languages.

Back to the song the way I remember it. If a bear climbs an entire mountain with much exertion only to see another mountain that needs climbing, where do motivation, rest, and reinvigoration come in?

The bear and his series of mountains is analogous to story structure and the way that everyday life proceeds. Living from challenge to challenge must carry within itself an ebb and flow… at least some of the time.

We neither want to exhaust nor under-stimulate our readers… or truth be told, ourselves.

Persistence is crucial to production, whether it’s climbing or writing. Our brains build complication into clever distractions, to get us doing anything besides following through, step by step, all the way to the end. I wonder why? Does it make my brain ‘look bad’ if I ‘complete’ a multi-faceted, long-term task, like writing a novel?

Fear and sadness.

Supposedly they are two of the primary emotions. As blue and yellow come together to make secondary green (… and even tertiary colors), so do fear and sadness come together to make anger and other offspring.

There are blocks to our climbing the next mountain.

-Perhaps some rest is needed – in the beautiful sunny valley, maybe?

-Maybe someone or some group gave us the fear that we could never do it, and we believed that.

That second part is under our control, so it deserves further attention.

Why would we be so ready to dismiss our own ability to do what many others have done before us? Are we not also humans?

“If you don’t expect something great to happen, you won’t be disappointed,” says the Stoic in me.

However, for the first time since I’ve been writing, there’s a quality of Persistence in me. I’m not giving in so easily. It’s, ‘Rest up,’ sure, but when that’s done, it’s, ‘Back to the drawing board.’

Just as we believe in our eventually NOT doing something, we are also capable of believing we have what it takes to follow through. We can teach ourselves this. We can grow our ability, even our preponderance toward it. We can do this. We are born storytellers once the gunk is wiped away. We are also born story readers, so supply and demand could possibly co-exist happily if we learn how to reach out.



BBB and FUN-ding



Busy, Busy, Busy…..

We have our BBB – book, blog, business (thanks, Andrea – for deciphering your acronym sightings everywhere), which is keeping us BBBusy!

We finally stumbled upon the good old ‘To Do List’ to help us get the most out of our shared screen software and in-person work sessions. Otherwise we could talk forever and get nothing done. Thank you, Mayans, for being the first to come up with the concept of ZERO, zip, nada nothing.

Maybe I should back up a bit.

The BOOK came like a whirlwind. It was a definite YES, and there was nothing to do but write it. It was not just a story, powerful as they are, of course, but part of a strongly-held mission of empowerment. It’s evolving into so much more than we ever thought.

The BUSINESS came into being because minimal self-employment was not going to provide what we needed quickly enough to fund our writing and our time.

We need money, honey, but it has to be something we believe in and find useful.

We also open up the question to you of what other writers do to fund their creativity. We are always interested to hear what people are doing, and it could prove useful to us and other readers.

The BLOG, or the third B as we like to call it, came into being to support our book and engage our audience. We hope it will become interactive… a place to share ideas as we continue to delve into themes of empowerment, writing, disability, siblings, and working together. We believe that giving our readers a chance to weigh in on aspects of the Book and Business as well as this blog might be the best way to go. Participation is a powerful tool.

So, what’s all this about a Mission of Empowerment? Why, What, Where, When, and How?

Some of these questions we touched on above, but we’ll try them all.

What: Described up above in minimal terms, it started as a mission to empower girls and young women, changing from a children’s book early on to a Young Adult novel, especially as our villain entered the scene. He helped answer THAT question. Everywhere we looked we saw girls and young women who were feeling insecure, being mistreated in school, at home, and certainly in the media, laws, and courts. We grew up our protagonist quickly. She didn’t have any arguments, thank goodness.

Why: We guess we just answered some of those questions in the What. Forgive us if we’re not strict about these W categories. Why? We were girls. We are women, and we see both every day. Sometimes we hear them being yelled at through apartment walls or windows, in stores and restaurants, and it breaks our hearts. It’s not just girls or women any more either. We look all around and find messages of human and nature/animal belittlement and disenfranchisement. It brings us back to certain times in our lives that we feel lucky to have exited, yet ones that still live on and challenge us from within.

When: We guess this all started early last spring of 2014… so really not that long ago. Andrea worked and lived a high-stress, high-voltage, extremely demanding job while raising a child as a single parent. While being very grateful for support from family and friends, the job broke her. She was toast. Burnt toast. There was a long period of pain and fatigue where the idea of doing anything was impossible. It still comes and goes, but from the moment she began writing the book there started a huge transformation in enthusiasm. She felt like living again. Leslie felt the echoes, some in the present, of going through what she saw in her younger sister and wanted to help any way she could. A partnership was born.

What we would get out of it continues to surpass the richness and creativity of our expectations.

Where: Here and now. Anywhere there’s a laptop or two if we’re lucky… here in New Jersey, truly the Garden State… We’re not just an exit on the Parkway.

How: Well, this is one of the questions this blog is designed to answer. We’ll do it in our own unique way as there are many valuable writing blogs out there already. We want to give you our experiences as best we can so you have resources, case studies, and our encouragement …just as we always encourage each other. It’s a process. We can tell you that, yet you most likely know. Still, we remind ourselves of things we feel we know but want to integrate on a deeper level. That is ongoing and truly a thrill ride. It’s filled with ups and downs and all-arounds, but that excitement and despair is the stuff of Story and Legend… and that’s the whole point.

Also, if anyone has an interest in being a guest for a Q & A here on this blog – please write us a comment on this post or write to us at . Thank you.



Two Paragraphs… Three Hours Later



Revision is an enjoyable experience for both of us. At times it can be lengthy… and grueling, but nothing beats the feeling of finally writing what we think is a clear and concise paragraph… one in which every word has been questioned, rolled about aloud, and interrogated for meaning. It helps motivate us for the next round, whether it be writing or revising.


When we look over what we’ve written, we ask ourselves, ‘Selves, how did this paragraph and the next turn into such a mess when it seemed so articulate and meaningful before?


Most paragraphs click along after a second look, but some pull us into revision in a deeper way. We take the dare, bringing all our energy to the task. We’re looking for what feels the best to us so that hopefully the reader can enjoy the work more fully.


It’s not like one or the other of us say, ‘Hey! Let’s dive into the watery depths of THIS paragraph for an afternoon,’ but sometimes that’s the way it happens. We both know which paragraphs need help and where to dive.


We work well together despite the word, ‘grueling’ up above. Any hard task bears with it multiple layers, especially when working with a partner. There’s the level of mechanics, of character, of story, and the level of working together, among others­­­. And that’s just the beginning of breaking it down.


We thought we’d include an example of ‘Before and After.’. Please feel free to share your opinions or rewrites in the comments, if you would like to play along at home.



Murray waited in silence with his hands behind his back. He was seated on one of those orange curved plastic chairs that made it impossible to sit comfortably. But Murray wasn’t thinking about that. He was simply waiting and waiting… and waiting some more. He didn’t know why he was in this strange room full of arguing, yelling, and smoking cops and criminals. The tendrils of tobacco and noise burnt him even before they entered his body.



Hands cuffed behind his back, Murray waited in silence. He was seated on a curved plastic chair that made it impossible to get comfortable due to its awkward shape and unyielding construction. His mind longed to be elsewhere. Why am I in this place?

The room was empty but for the lingering cigarette smoke. Tendrils of tobacco burnt his nostrils. Men tried to intimidate him, but he’d succeeded in shutting them down. Frustrated, they left him there.


There are many books, websites, and other resources devoted to revision. Though the following link refers to research papers or other drafts with an introduction and conclusion, many of the questions and tips read well for help with fiction too. If a draft is the ‘writer’s clay’ as has been said many times, we hope you enjoy molding and shaping yours.

Revising Drafts

Tangent Girl, Writing and Parenting Simultaneously


After reading the post about bridges and arcs, I realized I had just experienced that very thing without knowing what it was called. In my simplistic, sweet potato fashion I had been instinctively doing what the previous post was all about without the proper terminology.

The other day I noticed that I was writing many action scenes all over the place in the book. I wrote the beginning, and then I stopped. The ending was next, and then parts in the middle. We would write short stories and were left with a bunch of scenes related to each other but not connected. There was a need to integrate them, allowing them to flow.

I was going to write more of the book, but realized I hadn’t taken my son out in quite a while. I could tell from our last few conversations that we were needing some good bonding time. We did our favorite thing together: movie night. I always let him pick the movies, but sometimes I’ll suggest the movie I think he wants to see that I want to see as well. Then I get, “I’m going with Daddy to see that.” That stinks because his father always claims the best ones.

Every now and then, I take him anyway, whether his dad likes it or not. Luckily he usually doesn’t mind. I think it’s more of a friendly game we parents play. Friday movie night is our special time whether it’s at home or in the theater. It’s important that my son and I get to see some good movies together because of all we experience from sharing a great story.

Yesterday was no exception. We saw a great one together. One that had three surprisingly sad scenes in it. I didn’t think that movie would have sad scenes, but it did.

After it was over, I told him that I cried in three spots. He said he almost lost it in the first scene., but kept it together.  I forgot to let him know, it’s okay to cry. I need to have that discussion again. I’ve told him in the past, but it’s been a while now.

I believe he thinks since he is a boy, he isn’t supposed to cry. I don’t want to be that type of parent that would make him feel badly for it. I believe it’s important to express your feelings, otherwise they rule you in the end. I’m slowly learning, and trying to live a different way of life.

Hopefully, I can save him from a ton of hard work in his later years trying to undo all of the crap that gets done to us in this society. That is what I wish for him: to be happy and confident in himself.

When I ask if he loves himself, he says “Yes, I’m awesome.” So far so good.

Hopefully, his stint in middle school will not change that confidence.

Off on a tangent. Back to the task at hand.

Now where was I… Oh yeah, talking about writing the book piecemeal.

I was completely overwhelmed and felt paralyzed. I realized I needed to bite the bullet and get to the task of integration. Thanks to Scrivener, I had the tools to move chapters and scenes around easily. In case you haven’t heard of this software, it is pretty flexible – with manuscript, cork-board (like index cards), and outline views. If you’re interested in knowing more about this software for writers, click here:  Scrivener.

I write a scene or chapter in Word, using my intuition to create the juiciest part at that moment, and then I transfer it into Scrivener, which works well with my style of writing. I tend to write whatever comes up for me, then weave it all together later. I’m a pantser, and this allows me to continue to write that way. Leslie would tell you that Scrivener works well for plotters too, but of course she just did.

My intention was to sit in front of the computer all day, no matter how long it took. My goal was to make a dent toward integrating parts into chapters, working on the flow from the beginning.

Fast forward into the evening: success. I got a lot accomplished. Sure there is a ton more to do but I am happy with the progress.

I like Saturdays because they are pretty much straight through from morning to night without having to do anything else but work on the book. Unless I have plans of course.

So, thank you for my productive day. I am truly a happy gal.

Now that a lot of the book is done and organized, we’ve finally switched to writing in sequential chapter order. The book is finally  progressing. seeing it come together is one of the best feelings, and I like it.

Meningitis Mind Sentences


Throughout my early life I wrote my pain on paper, and it seemed to help. I wasn’t conscious that I was dealing with it that way until an event in my early twenties.

One morning I woke up to get ready for work, and fell into my closet. Next I drove my little blue Fiat to work as if I was underwater, falling to the asphalt, eventually arriving bloodied and confused in the office.

I agreed to go to the hospital at the urging of my neurologist, who was concerned about these symptoms along with the intensity of my headaches and the fact that my naturopath had seen some unusual activity behind my eyes.

They took spinal fluid to rule out the most dangerous potential cause of these anomalies. My neurologist thought it unlikely but better to be safe.

It turned out to be true. I had spinal meningitis, and the next people I saw wore outfits akin to space suits. I stayed a month, and none of the doctors I saw could answer my simple questions: Will I live through this? Will I once again be able to complete sentences and think as well as I once did?

It’s difficult to describe the level of completely useless fear I felt when one after another answered, “We don’t know yet.”

At first, I was not allowed to sit up or stand. I had to do everything lying down. I would eat by rolling over onto my side carefully and using a straw. Though I was in the perfect posture for it, the one thing I couldn’t do was sleep. People entered hourly. There were lights, sounds, and people crying in the night. And there was pain and fear.

All the while I wrote in my mind. Affected cognitively, I couldn’t do much, but I constantly repeated the mantra I had been given by my meditation teacher. Over and over again, I would not only say it, but see it in my mind’s eye. I clung to those words like the lifeline they were. They kept me from drowning in my own fear.

Later, I continued, interspersing thoughts of purpose. “What did I want to do with my life when I was well again?” It took a long time for me to complete thoughts of any complexity, but I was gradually certain I would like to be a naturopath, one of those kind people who spent so much time to help me figure out what was wrong after a slew of doctors told me it was everything from an ear infection to my imagination. I will be a naturopath, I thought, and I asked my nurse for help sending away for information long before the eras of laptops, wifi, and cell phones. Snail mail was IT, baby.

While I waited to hear, I started to sit up again. I responded to cards with a line or two of text and a scribbled picture of the sun, heart, or a flower.

I wrote one line of feelings over and over until I thought of another line to repeat. They soothed my imaginings of the future.

I found out that I needed to do something else to fund the years of study it would take to become a naturopath. I thought I’d like to teach.

All this came together through thoughts that were pinned down to paper so they wouldn’t fly off into the stratosphere before completion. Slowly, I learned to complete sentences again. I applied to schools and wrote their essays with persistence. I struggled to stand and balance my body, and in a month’s time live outside of a hospital. I was a lucky girl who lived.

I did not become a naturopath, but I did become a teacher. I worked at it lovingly for a decade and a half.

Though I will always live with remnants meningitis left in my body, I know I would not be the person I am grateful to be today were it not for that experience and the time spent with myself, talking, whispering, and writing through the pain.