Collaboration Celebration!

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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

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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.

A Year of ‘Spare’ Change

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A year of ch-ch-ch-changes  for us (thank you, Mr. Bowie).

Last year at this time this blog was only a twinkle in our left eyes. We would soon be on a family vacation where we decided to take time every other day to write side by side on our own ‘blog posts,’ for the future when we’d start one.

We had different concepts, and perhaps that comes through. Maybe not.

The book was in the beginning stages with an initial idea. We had no sense of the journey’s magnitude ahead or what it would be like to collaborate on a project this large.

We worked on a few little things together, such as a relative’s dating site profile (it worked!), a resume or two, and a few short stories by that time.

We didn’t know at the time of writing these smaller pieces that it would actually turn into, ‘Let’s write a book together.’

Now we’re here, one year later. So much has changed, but we can see that it has been on a consistent upward trajectory.

Where we’re at now – We have started this very blog. Our book is written and in its final drafting. Our cover is finished, and we are elated with it. We are researching the best way(s) to go about publishing it. We did have a period where we thought we knew, but further research revealed a lack of integrity from their partner company, so we’re back at the drawing board. We plan to create a rubric to evaluate different publishers. Any advice or experience anyone has to share is greatly appreciated.

Thank you for being with us. We appreciate your company.

 

 

Concocting an Inspiration Buffet

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A topic came up for us last week. We were discussing where our inspiration comes from when we begin a new writing project. Dozens of suggestions clamored to the surface and different ones tugged on each of our sleeves.
Primarily for Andrea, it’s her intuition. She tunes in, and the story calls to her.
For Leslie, it’s more visual. It can be a memory tangent or a photograph as the catalyst. It can be picturing the characters in action or conversation. Any piece of art can get her started.
Other times it’s a combination of those two, with additional spices added.
We stay alert to opportunities around us which leads to asking questions that draw out the story. This is about making a conscious decision to fly manually. We come out of autopilot and listen to the world around/inside of us.
It can be as simple walking down Main Street, seeing an always deserted restaurant full of people and wondering what led to this moment. Questions beget other questions, and soon a plot develops. Will it be a mystery? A comedy, drama, or something supernatural? Only time will tell.
We do know that it’s important to be open to inspiration everywhere we go. It could be our next story.
Where do you get your inspiration?

Sprint n’Splat

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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.

“Ella… the Untold Story”

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For today’s post, we are sharing a short story written on Day 25 of Andrea’s Creative Writing course. The prompt on that day was one that is especially fun as fairy tales often contain skeletal story elements, ripe soil for creative change and embellishment. Here goes the prompt: “Write a fairy tale that changes the ending and other elements of the original.”

“Ella… the Untold Story”

  “Ella, are you going to sit there all day while I’m out hunting and keeping the kingdom safe?”

“Yup. Pretty much. You promised me an exciting life, and all I get to do is stare at these same four stone walls.”

His tone softened as he sat down next to her. “I don’t want anything to happen to you. You know how the other kingdoms are always trying to take us down. If anything ever happened to you, I would be devastated. There’s plenty for you to do around here.”

“Like what, dear King? Order this one around or that one? I am watched 24/7. I’ve freakin had it with the microscope I live under. The only time I get to myself is when I’m on the throne, if you know what I mean. Even then I’m not so sure. I see how the others look at me when I leave the loo.”

“Oh Ella. You’re being paranoid. No one is watching you.”

“If you say so. But I don’t buy it. Not one bit.”

“I’ll prove it to you. Go for a walk around the garden. No one will follow you. I promise.”

“Okay. I’ll do that.” Ella gave him a kiss on the cheek and was on her way.

After she left, he went behind the large wall tapestry and entered his mission control. “Keep an eye on her, boys, but not too close. I told her she wasn’t being watched, and I don’t want her to get suspicious.”

“Yes, Your Majesty. We won’t let her out of our sight.”

“You can ease up on the powder room camera. I guess she can have a little privacy there for now.”

The king noticed the disappointment in the man’s eyes. He wanted to smash his face into the desk, but he refrained. He needed his men loyal, and hurting this one would not be good for morale.

***

I know he’s watching me. I can feel it. Ella kicked the dirt with her glass walking shoes. Ever since they got together, every pair of shoes had to be made of glass. Really? I know he thinks it’s romantic but enough already. My feet are killing me.

“Hello Mister Mouse. How are you today?”

The tiny creature looked up at her and with a turn of his head, smiled. She knew the mouse was having a good day.

Ella wished for the freedom he had. Even at her evil stepmother’s, she had time to herself. Who knew it was going to be like this?

“Can you help me, Sweetie?”

Ella walked to where she heard the raspy voice. There was a turtle lying on his back in the shade under a big oak. He was smiling at her too. Nothing surprised her these days since she knew magic was real.

“How may I help you, Mister Turtle.”

“If you could turn me right side up, I would be ever so grateful.”

“No problem,” and Ella immediately righted the turtle on his feet once more.

“I’d like to be Frank with you. I am your Fairy Godmother’s half-brother on her father’s side. I am here to de-wish you.”

“De-wish me? Whatever does that mean?”

“Well, I know you wanted this, but not ‘this’ exactly. You know the old saying, ‘Be care…’”

“Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. I know that saying all right. So how does this de-wishing process work?”

“You have a choice. You can either leave things as they are, or you can go back to the way things were.”

This is it. What I’ve been hoping for all these long months. “Hmm. Which do I choose?”

“Sleep on it. Your true heart’s desire will reveal itself in the morning.”

“By the way, what is your name, kind turtle?”

“I already told you. My name is Frank.”

“What? Oh, yes. I guess in an unconventional way, you did.”

Ella thanked Frank, waved goodbye, and headed back to the castle. She quickly passed the king’s chambers and entered her sleeping area. It was a long boring day and she was ready for bed.

She awoke from a deep sleep to a screeching sound she hadn’t heard in forever.

“Cinderella! Get down here now and make us breakfast!”

“Oh no. I made a mistake. I don’t want this again. Please bring me back.”

Ella opened her eyes to the king’s face. He was nose to nose with her.

“Good morning, Sunshine. It’s wakey wakey time. You have a big day ahead of you.”

“Really? What do you have planned for me?” Ella sat up. She was excited at the prospect of an adventure.

“Well, you said you were bored, so I gave the chef and maids the day off. You get to take care of the whole castle. Isn’t that exciting? Enjoy your day, Love. I’ll see you tonight.”

“Frank!! Come back!”

Tortoise

Thank you for reading.

If you feel so moved to adapt a fairy tale of your choice, we would love for you to share it or its URL here in the comments.

Our Copyright 0515

3… 2…1… Reentry

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We’ve been busy since we last saw you. We hope you’ve kept well and happy. You’ve been in our thoughts.

In the interim, we finished the first draft of our novel after a full year’s creative endeavor. We look forward to sharing snippets and scenes and in-betweens.

We’d like to pose questions and invitations for you to share your works as well.

We are now prepping for a month’s-long set of revision passes.

We find Janice Hardy’s suggestions invaluable as are James Scott Bell’s. The former suggested prepping the book by creating an editorial map with this format for each chapter. You could easily do it for each scene as well:

[SUMMARY

First line

Last line.

Revision Thoughts: ]

 

Here’s the link to Janice’s helpful resource: http://blog.janicehardy.com/2015/02/revison-prep-create-editorial-map.html

Next steps for us include an outline of the three acts and the main turning points within them.

~*~

We’ve missed this space and community. Bloggers everywhere have been in our thoughts. One good thing is we’ve been learning every day we’ve written.

Originally, we didn’t know how coauthoring would go with the two of us having different schedules, varying levels of pain, and the ever-burgeoning list of doctor appointments.

It wasn’t always easy, yet we persevered. We’re now looking for a way to celebrate our, ‘We did it!’ moment in time by reentering 2penthrupain. Please celebrate with us if you have a spare moment or two.

We know the blog is an essential part of what we’re trying to accomplish – touching base with other readers and writers.

We have a few new areas of interest coming up including finding a publisher. We were all set to go with a publishing company, but fortunately happened upon some unfortunate information. In the end because of our research, we decided not to sign their contract though it had been a slam dunk for the months leading up to the discoveries. Something kept us from actually signing the darn thing for quite a while.

Andrea took a month’s creative writing course with prompts. She’s been producing some wonderful stories on a near daily basis…. The rest were poems of equally inspiring innovation. She found the course both eye-opening and mind-stretching.

In our next post we will feature one of her short stories.

The course was offered through Creative Writing Now with Nancy Strauss.

She’s currently offering a free 3 Day Course on Endless Story Ideas. Here is the link.

http://www.creative-writing-now.com/free-online-writing-courses.html

We look forward to diving back in. Thank you for your continued support. We’d love to hear from you.

BBB and FUN-ding

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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 2penthrupain@gmail.com . Thank you.

 ~*~*~

 

Breadcrumbs and Echoes

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Once, a couple of months back, we wrote down the title of this blog post, not knowing then what it might turn into when we used it. We wrote no content, just the title. The time is now,  so we are talking about what breadcrumbs and echoes mean to each of us.

~*~

 {Leslie –>}  Breadcrumbs make me think of two things simultaneously: my grandmother’s cooking and fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel. Of course, Grandma couldn’t be further from the antagonist in Hansel and Gretel if she tried.

 

However they both lead to the same place. Hansel left breadcrumbs so he could find his way home… and I have my own set of memories and food that bring me back to when Grandma was still with us. Home. Those ways of communicating with past and future are vital in life, and they are also something we consider when we’re writing.

 

Foreshadowing and flashbacks are breadcrumbs.

 

One more word about fairy tales from my ‘don’t want to stand on a soap box:’ To me, they are the DNA of storytelling. ‘Just the facts, Ma’am’ kind of thing. They are the skeletons to which we add specific settings, characteristics, and developed themes, each in our own individual voice.

 

They are so familiar to all of us that we recognize them even where they’re embedded in more complex tales: the three brothers, the helpful person along the wooden path, the animal side of human nature, like the wolf in Grandmother’s clothing. Echo and Narcissus – a beloved tale from childhood.

 

Echoes make me think of whales– communication between their families and friends over the miles. Animals in general as well – for a girl whose dearest thought was once to grow up and be a veterinarian in the Sydney Zoo since age seven.

 

Now I’m left joining those two concepts in a meaningful way. Let me give it a shot.

 

Grandma told me stories all my life. They were a combination of folk stories from her native country where she was born and many everyday and miraculous stories from her own life. Ah, what a life. They are part of mine now. These gave the children, myself included, breadcrumbs back to other lands and our own ancestral tales and people.

 

Here’s what it boils down to: everything is story and therefore communication. It can be drawn from past, present, future, and other species.

~*~

{Andrea –>}   I really had no idea what I was originally thinking when I saw the title. I only knew that it meant something to me. What comes to mind are the steps I’m taking and the intuition I’m following.

 

Breadcrumbs someone left for me to follow and the echoes in my mind guiding me where to go next.

 

It has been quite the journey writing this book with Leslie and following the steps along the way.

 

Sometimes the breadcrumbs weren’t there, and I had to stop and look around. They disappeared for days at a time, but then the echo came in and told me where to pick up the trail.

 

They aren’t leading me to a candy cottage but they are leading me to something very sweet. I appreciate the breadcrumbs and echoes. I continue to keep my eyes and ears open for them on a daily basis.

 

Hmmm, what’s my next step? “Oh there you are. Thank you. So happy to see you again.”

Procrasti…Nation Inflation

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Some days I’m unable to produce. Some days can easily turn into a week gone by, and then it’s holy crap. How does that happen? Very frustrating; as in I’m sitting here staring at a screen. I’m exhausted… from procrastinating!

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Click on the book image for a procrastination resource, which you might find interesting and/or helpful. Check the different formats, as I believe the Kindle version, is considerably less expensive.

In addition there’s the link below for a procrastination page  that we recommend, with tips and an app to help get unstuck. Even though we haven’t been able to find the app to try it out on our Android devices, we do like the page information:

How We Procrastinate at Unstuck Now

 

That’s where it’s nice to have a good writing partner so we can share our angst and cheer each other on. Well, not that we want to give each other angst, but it’s good to be able to bounce ideas back and forth. We don’t feel so alone. It’s fun to write with each other as we talk on the phone and especially when we’re together.

Time magically opened up, and we managed to get together in the same domicile for three days. It was interesting to see how each day had its own personality.

Day 1: Andrea arrived at Leslie’s. She was tired from how long a drive it was.

Expectation: Zero. She was distracted and passed the exit  for the Turnpike. That led to running through a maze of back roads to get back on the highway.

Outcome: It took longer than expected, by an hour. The original was already a long enough trip for her.

Actuality: We got some things done, by saying, ‘We’re not going to do anything today.’ It happened anyway. Surprise and confetti!

Let’s see: what did we do? We wrote business letters, and then Andrea had a brilliant idea of asking our talented artist of a cousin if she would be willing to do  our book cover for us, even though no one judges a book by its cover anymore. Ha!

We got that letter written, using our Art for Inspiration Pinterest board to communicate ideas of how we envisioned the cover so clearly. Our cousin agreed to work with us. She said it might be fun. Yay. That’s one huge concern lifted.

We also wrote three whole paragraphs of Chapter 14 in just under three hours. Record time, but not the good kind.

Reward:  Movie time! STAT! We amazingly got through two and stayed up way too gloriously late.

Day 2: We wrote all day. Not an easy task for a master ADD’er such as Andrea’ Nevermind, she was completely focused that day! Hooray!

Leslie snapped out of her three-paragraph-only capacity and we took off from the stagnation of yesterday PLUS finished the next two chapters. Some days are not like others. We pinky-swore that we would go over it again in the morning and send it to the editor.

Outcome: First pinky-swear in many a year. Lots of writing done. Happy authors. Time for a snack.

That was enough!

Reward: We try to diversify our snacks for health and deliciousness. We decided to do research by watching TV. Leslie suggested a show, which was roundly decried at first, but eventually attempted for lack of choices. We loved it. In case you wish to know the title (and more about our senses of humor writing), it’s called, ‘You’re the Worst,’ on FX. It’s a bit naughty, so we don’t want anyone to be surprised! How did we survive? It was just that funny. A couple of episodes lagged. Yeah, we admit it, we binge-watched, but overall it was very enjoyable

Day 3:  We got our last blog post done and ready. We finalized and did two passes (or was it three?) on chapters 14-16 of the book before sending them off to the editor. Good feeling and time for more snacks! First one to the kitchen is a golden egg!

Also…. we got our first press release out for our funding product! Hooray! That was an accomplishment. Leslie only wishes she’d set it to come out earlier…. How about you, Andrea? Are you satisfied? She’s easy to please about some things. <wink>

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? We’re happy and in any case we pushed on through some difficult pain times.

Reward: Almost done with the first series of our show now, so aiming high, but … dun dun dun: “Walking Dead (especially season opener) takes PRECEDENCE!

Day 4, early: Scene at the door: “Whaaaa…. time to part again.”

Now: Back at our own domiciles and on the phone sharing a screen once more.  Today’s goal: write this blog post!

 

Reward time…A favorite time of day…

 

For you writers out there, we found what we think is a good writing prompt site… just in case you are helped by prompts. Leslie wrote her first novel from one photo of a grocery store with an apartment upstairs.

Enjoy!

 

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Every time you refresh the page, the Writing Prompt in center area will change.

Happy Writing to you and you and you….