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.

 

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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.

 

 

Whys and What Ifs?

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Questions lead places. They don’t stop like words do at the end of a sentence. They’re an invitation to go somewhere potentially new and bountiful.

 

I use powerful questions in my coaching practice, and I use a different set when I write. I ask myself ‘What if?’ and ‘Why?’ plus the rest of the ‘W & H’ questions to get deeper into plot and character development and motivating goals.

 

Let’s say I want to write a short story featuring a ham sandwich. Before or after doing some preliminary brainstorming, whether listing, mind-mapping, or stacking categories/subsets, I would develop tangents that might come from the food and ask:

 

Why is the sandwich important?

How did it enter the story?

When was it made?

What is its composition?

Who will eat it?

Where are they located: the eater and the food?

 

I might write out a few sets of those like reps at a gym, just for fun. Then I prioritize which questions are most central to the story I feel forming in my brain. After I do that, I begin with, ‘What ifs?’

 

What if it’s poisoned?

What if it was stolen from someone who struggles for food every day?

What if the bread is moldy?

What if it has a smell that brings back an important memory?

What if it’s the last food available?

What if it falls on the floor and/or gets stepped on?

What if there’s a paper inside that contains the password for an important account?

 

I could go on quite a while like this, but when I finish for the time being, again I prioritize them. I see which ones have the most potential and are of the most interest to me.

 

Do you use questions in your writing? Have you found any helpful ways to think about them that give you more mileage? We’d love to hear questions, snippets, topics, anything you’d like to share as an example of your questioning strategy.

A question may be simple, but it’s a powerful tool for life and creativity.

 

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.

 ~*~*~

 

And You, Ma’am… What Are Your Thoughts?

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We think it would be fun and perhaps revealing to interview each other. It started as a future interest in adding guest bloggers and writers from time to time who have things to share about any of the main topics this blog is about. The beginning of Western Civilization stood upon such simple dialogues , and though we’re neither Socrates nor Plato, everyone has something worthwhile, universal, and unique to share.

As we build connections and lead up to asking others, we thought it might be interesting, since there are two of us, to interview each other. We’ll bring in an imaginary Dick Cavett, though of course our sprite is no match for the man who interviewed Katherine Hepburn as depicted above.   (Leslie)

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What is your favorite portion of the book and why – without giving any big spoilers away of course, especially if it’s in the second half of the book.

(Leslie) – One of my favorite parts of the story is the Prologue. I’m sticking to the beginning here so as not to ‘spoil’ things. Herein we find out there is an ancient, deep friendship between two mysterious beings. I like how they could be anyone until we find out something about their language and the nature of at least one of them. I especially love how it evolves into something ethereal in a short few paragraphs. I have room to imagine the characters and the place where they are meeting.

(Andrea) – One of my favorite parts is when our hero discovers her moment of hope, her turning point (unbeknownst to her).

What were your earliest memories of writing or being a ‘writer?’

(Leslie) – My uncle was attending the Ohio State University Veterinary School, and I was 7 at the time. He was the first person to ever write straight-up from his heart the way he saw things. He also wrote so as to inspire responses from me. I was interested in this new hobby, and so… we had a correspondence. It turned out to be the first of many to come. He basically changed my life with those invitations and longed-for letters of daily goings-on and questions that made me think about my life differently. I daily thank you, dearest Uncle, for such a great gift.

(Andrea) – I believe I had just turned 12. I was at the beach with Marcy (other sister) and her friend.  I took out a pad and pen and started writing poems.  They encouraged me with every poem they read. I found that the words flowed through me and came easily.  I was excited for the first time about something. That was before the reason I stopped writing of course.  Then, years later, I discovered it again through you Leslie. So thank you for that.  It was funny because the way you first reminded me was when I asked you to read over some emails I had written to a particular someone and you said, your writing flows so well and you have a way with words.  It took a few more years but I finally unblocked the memory of why I stopped in the first place and started to find my voice again.

What are your most helpful tips for writers of any age?

(Leslie) – These may seem like things you’ve heard a thousand times over, but it possible, try not to filter them out. They’ve proven helpful for me, and perhaps they might for you as well. The very first thing is to write, every day if possible, but as often as you can. You will sync yourself up the more you do, and it will become more and more a central part of you.

What does the experience of writing feel like to you?

(Leslie) – Writing feels like a liquid process to me. It’s a combination of swimming and flying, and it comes from my heart. My head has its part, sure, and especially when revising and editing… but I am very aware of the flicker of physical sparks radiating from my heart when I write. It feels like a surprise waits around every corner because it is only by writing it that I know what will be said and done. However much I plan a piece, story, or a novel – which is still writing – I do not know what the action and how it will announce itself will be until I write it down. Writing is soaring in a timeless space. It is also physical and emotional. I get goosebumps. I lean forward in my chair. I get flashes of heat and chill. Writing feels like being engaged with something on such a deep level that it is life, pouring out onto the screen or page.

(Andrea) – It feels like there isn’t anyone or anything around me.  Just me and my stuck thoughts getting released from their sentence. I know, I’m corny, but that’s just me 🙂  I come alive and feel the rush of excitement when I feel it’s written the way it’s intended. On the flip side, I am depressed when I feel blocked or write something I don’t feel is my best.  I have to remember that any writing, whether to be shared or not, is still my expression and I need to accept all of it.  The vulnerability is something I need to get used to.  That is the hardest part for me. The moment of sharing and opening myself up to others and their words in return.

What is the message behind this book?

(Leslie) – We want people to feel empowered. We are speaking primarily to Young Adults, so that they can incorporate messages of self-worth and personal power within themselves as they grow, but it is our hope that the story will be read and enjoyed by people of all ages. It is hard for us as humans to feel that things are the best they can be at any given moment. There are so many issues that need immediate attention in our world. Perhaps we’re not always happy with our own behavior. There is an old Sanskrit saying I love very much – and for some reason when I set to type this, Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz popped into my head. It ends with this sentence: “When the Perfect is taken away from the Perfect, only the Perfect remains.” There are clues all around us. We need the eyes, the perspective, to see these clues and understand. It is my fondest hope that a person might walk away from this book saying aloud to the supposedly empty air, “I always knew there was more to me and this world than I ever suspected!” Truly, there is, and we are that… When we know we are … a new world view and life begins.

Do you have a synopsis (teaser trailer version) for us?

(Leslie)  – It is a story about a hero and her inner and outer demons, and how she got to know herself better and better than she ever realized possible.

~*~

Post facto: The Socratic and Platonic references didn’t wind up being much of a bullseye here since Andrea and I pretty much aligned in our answers. Therefore there was no need for dialogues from opposing points of view working toward a resolution of truth using reason.

Also, it feels good to both participate in the same post again. We hope to find diverse ways of doing that. If you have any answers to any of the questions posed here that refer to you, OR ideas about how to create an interactive form of post, we’d love to hear from you. Or any words of wisdom or whimsy you might like to weave into this subject matter. See you on Wednesday!