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 Evocative Kernel of Rice

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I ate some rice tonight. It was long-grained Basmati, flavorful enough to bring back images and memories of a small rural village in the Maharashtra district at sundown.

Chanting can be heard over the hills off to the far left as new constellations (and a few old familiar ones) rise and set where there’s a marble Shiva temple on a distant hill. Small fires cook the evening meal in dots along roads of dust and iron grating.

Prompts are to be found anywhere and everywhere. I found tonight’s in my mouth when I suspected I wasn’t even thinking about writing.

This tells me two things.

  1. I think about writing far more often than I realize.
  2. All is food for the beginning, middle, or end of a piece, no matter how short or how long.

What prompts your writing? Think of a piece you wrote, whether you especially love it – or not, and see whether you can trace it back to the beginning… conception.

We’d love to hear any sparks that started an adventure in your writing.

“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

One Word Here, Another There… Which One’s Best?

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I’ve learned about word choice over the years.

 

It’s another one of those writing components like sentence fluency and voice that we can use to assess and revise our drafts. It’s helpful to have traits and a vocabulary to check in on when making pass after pass over the draft. Constructive feedback can hail from these components… as well as the feelings that come from the words and content chosen.

 

When I started writing as a child, I thought it was a place to display my vocabulary. I used the most prestigious and complex words I knew.

 

That is how I wrote for a long time. While a complicated word may come closer to being specific at times, if a simpler word does the trick, that’s the best way to go. Simple = Powerful.

 

Words are the clay we have to work with in our drafting. In the first draft, I play, but I have to be willing to let the originals go if simpler words communicate a more direct path to a truer meaning.

 

A well-chosen word can make all the difference between cutting to the heart and landing flat.

 

Here is a paragraph from a first draft, un-reworked origin story from one of my manuscripts. If you feel like it, read it over, and see whether any word choices jump out as feeling ‘on’ or ‘off’ and please comment (again, if you feel like it) to let me know your better choice.

 

>” It didn’t seem that far away, but night was a dangerous time to go wandering far afield of shelter and fire. Still, there was something calling to each man, individually… A small voice from the north whispering words of encouragement. Most thought they would be able to find it in the morning. Get a hunting party together to investigate, but each knew in his own heart that he would be going alone. To find the prize for himself. Shielding his intentions from the others’ potentially penetrating gaze, each man glanced surreptitiously around the circle, only to find all men but one doing the same thing.”<

 

Most of the resources for these components are to be found in classroom or on school websites. They include such specifics as:

 

-Sensory words and images,

-Precise nouns and pronouns

-Powerful and memorable verbs

-Figurative language

And….

-Memorable adjectives.

 

Here is a resource for more development on this particular writing component.

 

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Playing with and learning one writing component at a time leads to more awareness. New levels of writing await you as you practice, play, and sculpt your pieces.

 

Most of all, enjoy your writing. Readers know how you feel by your choice of words among other things. On the phone, for example, if you smile as you speak, your good cheer can be felt. Similarly, these feelings you experience while writing are communicated as the piece is read by another. If something moves you to tears or goosebumps, there’s a good chance others will feel that too.

 

We practiced finding more precise word choice with many of our sentences during this simple blog post. It’s everywhere.

 

Questions from Memories, a Story Makes

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One way I like to use memories to create a story is by asking questions.

Below is an example of a memory and following it, some questions I might use to write a developed piece of fiction.
The more questions I have, the better, because then I can choose the story’s path clearly. Not only that, but some of my questions will be silly if I’ve allowed myself to be open and imaginative. Who knows but that it might be the most helpful question of all.
*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨*
My boyfriend and I were in New York City for hijinks back in 1976 or thereabouts…. It was when I was at my first university.
We had gone to the vicinity to see the Hayden Planetarium’s star-filled trip through time, but it was closed for repairs. That’ll show us. It’s best to do research BEFORE going to the city.
At least in our disappointment we were soothed by the nice day it turned into, sunning ourselves on the steps of the American Museum of Natural History. It was the large building next to the planets.
We were sitting there, trying to make stone stairs into a cushy recliner and endlessly debating our possible infinity of next step choices, when this Well-Dressed Man came running down to us from the top stair.
“Have any time to take in a show? It’s not for a while yet.”
“Er… huh?”
“Well, you see, I have these members-only tickets for the Pompeii Exhibit tonight after they ‘close’ the regular museum, but something’s come up and I need to leave. It’d be a shame to waste ’em as it’s been sold out for some time.”
“Yeah…. sure. We’ll take them,” I said.
I think my favorite parts of the exhibit were the overall feeling of being in a bustling town from a long time gone. That, and the everyday quality that showed up in things like the graffiti, the paving stones and mosaics, and the shop signage that incorporated the gods of Roman mythology in a rather human way.
Mercury’s fish mart is a bit odd, though, as a) he was not associated with water, but air… and b) all these years later there’s an abundance of mercury in our fish.
It was extremely moving to see a whole city transported with such care for details – excavated from volcanic earth. It was especially the last exhibit, though – the contorted shapes of three people and a dog… hoping, trying with all their might to flee the molten river quickly approaching.
I don’t want to do these beings any disservice by making assumptions about their experiences in the last moments of their lives. They could be back right now, reading this blog for all I know about the ticking of our or any other universe.
What I will say is that my heart ached for three days thinking about that dog. Of course I cared about the people too. I think it was too close to home for me to dwell on them. Maybe that was all I could handle or relate to at the time, try as I do to put myself in others’ situations.
All in all, it turned out to be a lively, educational exhibit, ending on a bit of a sad note, because after all facts are facts. Things arise from and go back to ground to seed for another season, perhaps.
Interestingly, the most dramatic personal note of the evening was my trip toward the ladies’ room. As the Well-Dressed Man told us, the museum was closed. It was only ticketed members and employees who would be in the museum for the exhibit, which took up the entire first floor.
So, I asked one of our friendly red-uniformed attendants where might the ladies’ room be?
“Oh, that would be on floor 3, Miss. You can use stairs or elevator right over there.”
As I started climbing up, I immediately noticed it darkening once I left the well-lit first floor. By the time I got to floor two, it was dark except for some emergency lighting rationed about the stair opening.
As I started to advance on the 3rd floor, my head passed floor level and I was in for quite a shock. To the right, just inside a VERY high-ceilinged arc was the barest hint of the immense skeletal jaw of a full-grown Tyrannosaurus Rex.
I stepped back one or two stairs.
Yeah, I knew they weren’t alive… but I could feel their presence. For heaven’s sake, they were bones… and yet something reptilian or early mammalian in my brain reacted with great fear.
Finally, I climbed to the full landing of the 3rd floor – having long forgotten about the loo… and stared to the right: at the vast hall of gigantically terrifying and truly fascinating creatures left behind in time.
I made up my mind, right there in the dark, that I would walk the long length of the room, slowly, and back up the other side. Perhaps with the regular museum-goers and full lighting, it would have been a less frightening experience, but here on this night, it was all I could do not to run. My heart raced, and it was a little difficult to take a full breath.
I dared myself. I absolutely had to in order to do this thing I wanted to experience alone. I started walking… and the fear began in my lower rib cage, communicating with my feet, which were moving very slowly. I stared up in awe at these creatures to whom I would’ve been an ant, or at least a mouse, and trembled a bit. I looked at each one, wishing I had enough light to read the signs, but THEM themselves: their bones glowed eerily white and were easy to see clearly.
All these decades later, it is a bright spot in my memories of that time. Connecting with the ancient from two distinct periods leaves a deep impression of the through-line of life.
Alone like that, my personal perspective was clarified by existing completely in the moment. I had the rare opportunity of being with extraordinary relics under those circumstances. It’s a gift that continues for a lifetime.
*¨*•♫♪ ♪♫•*¨*
Oftentimes the best fiction has a seed in real life. If I wanted to create a longer and perhaps fictional account including this night, one way I might get there is by going over each paragraph and asking myself questions. I could also have someone else read and ask the questions.
Some questions I can think of when reading this piece are:
– Who was that Well-Dressed Man really?
– Was there anyone lurking on the third floor, waiting for me?
– If so, how did he know I would be there?
– Did I notice any movement in either of the exhibits that no one else seemed to see?
– Who were the dinosaurs individually on display? Had I known one of them before?
– Why did I have such an intense reaction on the 3rd floor? Was there some underlying cause?
– Were there any strange and potentially foreshadowing occurrences on my way into the city?
– Was I now tied to a debt by accepting those tickets?
– Was my boyfriend still there when I went back? If not, why? Had he been taken?

Northern Gods and Human Mythology

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All my life I have been interested in mythology… there’s so much to learn about human nature and story in these varied tales, interwoven in time and space.

 

As Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and others have repeatedly said after their far flung travels, these types of stories have appeared with new names and different costumes and clothing all over the world… most often without any contact between the different cultures. They are a step or three up in complexity from the basic skeletons of folk/fairy tales, yet closely related to them.

 

One of my favorite myths in Norse Mythology is the myth of Baldr, beloved of all the gods. He is the youngest son of Frigg (goddess of the earth, marriage, childbirth, and motherhood) and Odin (king of the gods). His oldest of many brothers is Thor.

 

As a young man, Baldr began having prophetic dreams of his own death in the near future. His mother started having similar dreams soon after. Baldr understood his destiny and that his death would be instrumental in bringing about Ragnorak, the last war between good and evil. After that the world could be healed and rebuilt, so he was willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good.

 

Sounding quite similar to many other mythologies at this point…. Baldr was to come back, in elevated form from the dead after a certain period of time.

 

Frigg, unable to accept her son’s intended sacrifice, sets about securing promises from the elements, the environment, diseases, animals, plants, and stones, “requesting immunity for Baldr from all kinds of danger.” Once she is successful with all but one plant named mistletoe she deems ‘too young’ to ask, word was sent to everyone to convene.

 

Although Baldr and Frigg have no knowledge of when or how his death will occur, Mom is feeling pretty secure with her strategy for his protection at this point.

 

The gods get together and decide to have a new game by “making sport of Baldr’s newfound invincibility in that ‘shot or struck, Baldr remains unharmed.’” They take turns with all manner of material to throw or propel at him, but each falls to the earth harmlessly in its turn.

 

Mischievous Loki, jealous of Baldr as ever, finds out about the mistletoe. He fashions an arrow from it, and then gives it to Baldr’s blind brother, Hoor, encouraging him to join in the game.

 

Baldr dies, pierced by his brother’s arrow, and falls into his mother’s arms.

 

I see this myth at play in my sorrow at the too-early deaths of so many strong young men, sacrificed to the side effects of their art or someone else’s war. After all these years, it’s worked its way into my psyche to the point that I grieve as if some of them were known to me, personally. I think culturally, too, it is in force…. as James Dean, River Phoenix, Heath Ledger, and so many others with great potential…. all the soldiers at war as well – are elevated to a mutual grief. I’m prone to it, I think…. due to my early imbibing of that story.

 

Youth, Beauty, Potential, and Belovedness… gone in an instant, yet the effects of their sacrifice still to come.

 

We also notice this myth at work when we write and determine the fates of all of our characters. It is a difficult thing to perhaps wound and/or kill off  developed and beloved characters, but oftentimes someone has to do it. The harder it is to do it, the more profound an impact it may have on the story. It is a sacrifice, not only for the character(s), but the author themselves.

 

Resource for Quotes

Sam and Lila Try to Use Sentences Fluently

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Sentence Fluency – another important component of good writing. It goes a long way toward creating texture in paragraphs, scenes, and ultimately the entire piece. We have an innate sense of it because we hear how we speak. Dialogue in conversation makes an impact on the language centers of our brain, training them – and us – to go from talking to writing. If you click on the link at the beginning of this paragraph, you will be transported to a website that honestly, goes into just about every aspect of sentence fluency that I would wish to include were I now writing it all out for you instead of sharing someone’s link. It’s a quick read, but nicely organized and thorough, in my opinion.

We hope you will enjoy the following story tidbit. It is a first draft scene from my first NaNoWriMo novel (or National Novel Writing Month – though it’s long since gone International…).

This is pretty much the way it tore onto my computer screen at top typing speed on the day. I’m using it for four reasons today:

-Halloween last week – hope you had a good one.

-NaNoWriMo started November 1st!

-Because the below piece only had one quick look-over since its first draft emergence, perhaps there are some sentence fluency issues to revise. If you see any, please feel free to give me a heads up in a comment, should your time permit.

~*~*~

“Okay, Sir, I’ll be back in a second to let you know what we have.”

 

“Oh, and I am looking for something of a …”

 

“Deal? A lowest possible price? Yes, Sir. I’ll be back in a moment.”

 

The next minute, the little door bell went off. Where there had once been two people occupying that vast, deceiving space, there were now three. Sam turned to look, but he couldn’t see anyone. Kids, he thought.

 

But then he saw it. An old fashioned ladies’ hat, festooned with ribbon flowers and tiny bird-like statuary. All he could see was the hat, and it was moving directly toward him in a straight line. He quickly looked over to see where the manager of the shop was located, but he could no longer see him.

 

The hat continued to draw ever nearer, until it finally rounded the last counter and turned into a beautiful old woman, with a dress right out of the 1940s and lace boots to match.

 

“Hello, Sam,” she said quietly with a hint of encouragement in her voice.

 

“Hello, Ma’am. How do you know my name?”

 

“It says… right there on your shirt.” Sam glanced down, but before he could respond, she spoke again. “All right, it doesn’t say, but I don’t want you to worry. I’m here to help you.”

 

“I’m sorry?” Sam’s mind took off at a hundred miles an hour and didn’t stop, except to hear the next words from the mysterious woman.

 

“I don’t have long, but don’t worry. We WILL meet again. I wish I could tell you more…”

 

“So do I!” Sam said.

 

“Listen to me and please, Sam, for everyone’s sake – try to do as I say. You will need to go to see your landlord about that nasty structural damage spreading in your apartment. When you go, from that moment on, avoid walking within three feet of the depression. Promise me, Sam. Three feet!”

 

“What are you talking about? How would we get into the kitchen?”

 

“You’ll find a way, Sam. This is very important. Three feet is the minimum number. Before you see him, measure and draw a line. If you have to go out to eat for now, do so. By all means do not let anyone closer than that. Prepare them before you see the landlord. That’s all I’m allowed to say right now. You will need to give me $10.00 so the universe will be pleased with you.”

 

“What?” Sam spluttered. “TEN dollars? I’m in a bit of a pinch right now, and why would I want to give it to you, anyway, erm… do you have a name?”

 

“Yes, I have a name. Don’t you recognize me?”

 

“No, I don’t. And I don’t have your ten bucks either. I’m drowning with my expenses right now. You and your ‘information’ are the last things I can afford to purchase!”

 

“Don’t think of it as a purchase, Sam. It’s an offering, in truth of fact. Please, you must offer it. This is for your own good. And have no worries, you will not be struggling with money for long.”

 

Sam felt a warmth flow through him at those words, but his hackles were still raised. “I’m sorry, Ma’am. I don’t even know your name.”

 

“My name is Lila.”

 

The shock on his face must have been evident as he could feel his jaw hanging open, his eyes bulging out of their too – small sockets. “Um… you can’t be my Lila…”

 

“No, Sam. I’m your mother – in – law. I know we haven’t seen each other in many years, but I still somehow fancied that you would recognize me, especially in this outfit.” It was then that Sam recognized the hat that Lila’s mother, also named Lila Matilda, was dressed in for her funeral. He just stood there, as he was at a complete loss for words.

 

Reaching into his pocket for his wallet, his fingers fished the ten dollars out with barely a downward glance, and handed the bills to the old woman.

 

“Thank you, Sam, and good luck in the coming weeks. You will see me again, but you must make good choices for yourself! Please heed everything I said. Maybe write it down so you don’t forget?”

 

“Yeah… I mean, Yes. I’ll do that. There’s so much I want to ask…,” but halfway through the sentence old Lila had turned on her heel, walking down the aisles and out of the store the way she’d come. Still utterly shocked, he drew a blank when he turned to find the shop manager beside him.

 

“I hurried back as I heard you calling me,” he said.

 

“No, I was just talking to another customer, but she’s gone now.”

 

“Sir, I was keeping one eye on you via the security cameras in the office where the rental laptops are located. There was no one else in this shop but you and me.”

 

“What? No, she was just here a second before you came back. Didn’t you hear the bell ringing?”

 

“No, Sir. No bells.”

 

Copyright © 2014 Leslie Engel

Tangent Girl, Writing and Parenting Simultaneously

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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.

From Here to There: Arcs and Transitions

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One way to write is to set down the most dramatic, powerful, important scenes, figure out where they go in relation to each other, and then determine whether there are others lurking between, like waiting-to-be-discovered galaxies.

 

Once all the large beats in your story are in place, you can look at the spaces between them. This is mostly how we are writing our current Young Adult book… only without the mixed metaphors of music and astronomy.

 

If the bridge of your transition feels long and stretched out, there may still be one or more heightened scenes waiting to be developed. Check for alignment with your arcs – whether it be the arcs of your characters, this scene, a dialogue interaction perhaps, or the entire story. There are also those of relationships, places, motivations, and plots… to name a few more.

 

Arcs are stories playing out in time. If I’m wrong, it’ll all be okay soon.

 

A transition will take you from one scene to the next. You can also rely on it to traverse one perspective to another or one part of a universe to another. Maybe in Frank Herbert’s, Dune, ‘Spice’ was originally, ‘The Transition That Ate the Entire Plot,’ bringing in such significance that it changed the story from the inside out. Maybe.

 

As with dialogue it can also be used to reveal character as well as move the story forward. Your first draft may lack the latter feature, but keep a watch out for opportunities on one of your next passes.

 

Some questions to ask yourself about getting from here to there:

*Is this cliché or can I think of a more unique way to accomplish it?

*Am I going off on tangents for good reason or am I taking the direct route?

*Have I packed everything I need?

*Does this reflect back to another part of the story that now needs an adjustment?

*What is my gut telling me as I’m writing this transition?

*Is it as tight as it can be, including only what’s necessary?

 

As with editing in video, we want to glimpse everything we need to see with minimal, non-essential time spent dallying or pointing out odd architectural features that don’t lend to the atmosphere or action.

 

Here’s an example from my first novel’s opening. What line(s) would you identify as a transition in what is an origin story or prologue.

 

[Sitting around the fire in their furs and matted hair, the men looked up as a bright light split the sky. The image burned its way onto every retina and managed to stay there for some time. When it finally cleared, there was barely a trace of the flash from the north…. just a quickly fading ripple of mist down to Earth.

 

It didn’t seem that far away, but night was a dangerous time to go wandering off from shelter and fire. Still, there was something calling to each man, individually… A small voice from the north whispering beckoning words of encouragement.

 

Most thought they would be able to find it in the morning. They’d all get a hunting party together to investigate, but each knew in his own heart that he would be going alone. To find the prize for himself.

 

Shielding his intentions from the others, each man glanced around the circle, only to find all men but one doing the same.

 

Gorag was standing, and it was possible to see the fire in his heart and eyes even from behind. It was as though a string tugged on him like the sinew of a mammoth beast. Shaken out of a daze, he searched around for his club and other essentials: a bow and arrows, his flint knife, an extra fur for warmth. He said no words to them, but they all knew what was on his mind. To follow the trail from  heaven to earth and see what gifts might be found.]
More in future on this topic, especially if you enjoy different views on it.

Interaction is always welcome.

 

Now to wrap it up with a haiku:

 

Transition, bridge, arc

Made of hyper-drives or glue

Once here and now there.

 

 

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….