Beautiful Coincidences

So back in September 2012, I sat down at my mother-in-law’s kitchen table to start figuring out the super-hairy, nitty-gritty details about the world in which Eden lives before she gets drawn into Under-London. Through a whole maze of choices and a crap-ton of wandering about on the street-view on Google Maps, I wound up placing her in South London, just a bit away from the Peckham-Rye station.

While looking for pictures of Peckham to start building it in my mind’s eye (because, lbrh, I’m too broke to go there myself), I stumbled across a really neat street art piece (above) featuring a raven (well, a black bird of some sort, at least).

Fast forward to now, 8 June 2016. Continue reading “Beautiful Coincidences”

Advertisements

A Personal Note & The Nightmares of Under-London, chapter 5

Good lord, this week has been hard. My heart’s going out to all of you nerds out there who have lost an icon in the past two weeks. I know I’ve been crushed by one in particular. It’s made it incredibly difficult to focus this week, to buckle down and weave together next week’s chapter. I know I’ll be leaning even more heavily on the might of my crit partners for a bit.

Anyhow, on a more positive note, I present the latest chapter of TNOUL, from my mind to your screen. I hope you enjoy, and if the spirit moves you, pass it along to your friends.If you need me, I’ll be hunched over my laptop, busting out my brains for the words. All I ask is that you keep your ‘lectric eyes on me, babes.

A Personal Note & The Nightmares of Under-London, chapter 5

How do you know when an idea is worth making into a story?

chucksauce:

Sorry it’s taken so long to respond!

Anyhow, I’m actually kind of tickled at this question, because the answer is both simple and not.

The Simple Part:

Every idea is worth making into a story, or at least a scene, or a poem, or a something.

The Not-Simple Part:

Some ideas require more effort than others, and that’s the part that sucks. Sometimes I’ll have an image, a line of dialogue, a concept pop into my head that leads to a whirlwind little short-story that takes me only a few hours to draft and even less to edit because it’s just so together right from the gate. It sparkles and is witty, funny and poignant–I’m surprised champagne isn’t flowing from the heavens at how wonderful it obviously is.

Most of the time? That’s not the case. Most of the time it takes jotting the idea down in a special folder on my google drive (some use pen and paper, but I just like the internet better. My fingers type as fast as I can think. Not always the case with long-form.) Most of the time it takes walking away from the idea for a month or six, then stumbling across it, and deciding if it’s tickling my fancy. If it sparks any more flames.

If it does, I’ll play around with it. I’ll noodle and doodle and question it from every angle. How do its mechanics work? What are the component parts, the dynamics, the characters and potential commitment?

(Often, my ideas start off as little blips and then turn into effing novel-length things, much like this short little blog post. I have to be prepared for that, lol.)

And then? The worst part: no matter how brilliant the idea or my treatment of it may be, I–and really, any creator–will get hit with Impostor Syndrome. Everything becomes a war against “This shows how unoriginal I am and everyone will figure out I really am just pulling all of this out of my ass.”

I’ll be tempted to scrap the entire project. That’s usually the time my (insanely patient, generous) crit partners will talk me down from the ledge and mainline Earl Grey into my system. If it’s especially bad they’ll kidnap me at 11 o’clock at night, pump me full of Vanilla Pepsi and Nutella, and then drive me through the mountains at semi-reckless speeds screaming along to Fall Out Boy.

(Everyone needs crit partners and friends like mine, I’m just saying.)

And then sometimes, yeah. I’ll run across those ideas that just don’t work, no matter what I angle I come from. I’ll struggle and struggle with them. At that point, it becomes a matter of priority: is there anything that needs finishing first, or is it worth it to push everything to the side in order to get this thing right? If it’s the former, the stalled piece will go back into the “Ideas” folder.

(And usually, by the time I hit this point, my crit partners know it, and they know whether to encourage it or tell me to move on. It’s basically like when you ask your friend if you should break up with the person you’re dating.)

So what I’m really saying is this: Don’t ever discount an idea as dumb or unimportant. Give it the opportunity to grow into something beautiful, but learn when to store the seeds for another season, when to prune, when to add pesticides, and when to mow the damn thing down if it gets too unruly. Let your gardener friends help you, and occasionally run naked through your garden.

(Both figuratively and literally.)

Just some garbled pearls of wisdom from my side-blog.

THE NIGHTMARES OF UNDER-LONDON

Eighteen-year-old Eden discovers her mother has lied to her for as long as she’s been alive: her father is not dead. He’s alive, and somewhere in London. The main problem? Not only is her father not dead, he’s also not human.

Eden is swept into Under-London, a dark and dazzling city lurking just below London’s surface. Her loyalties stretch thin between her mother and father, and she’s drawn into a deadly political game that leads her on a desperate search for Under-London’s missing king. If she and the king’s nephew, Ransley, can’t find him in time, Topside London pays the price.

Check it out! The first installation of THE NIGHTMARES OF UNDER-LONDON is live!

I’ve opened up all the previously written stories in the Under-London ‘verse! Go check it out, spread the word, and consider pledging your support as launch the novel, The Nightmares of Under-London, tomorrow!

You’ll find all my content under the “Creator Posts” tab right at the top of my profile.

❤ ❤ APH

The King of Under-London, pt 1

Awwww snap! Got the latest installment in the #underlondonverse just for all y’all lovelies supporting me over on patreon! Don’t forget, we’re running that contest now through 11:59 Dec 31, 2015, and the winners will receive a physical copy of the ENTIRE Under-London ‘verse when it’s all said and done.

The King of Under-London, pt 1

An Open Letter to First-Time NaNos

This is a letter I wrote to a friend’s 11th grade Honors English class–I’ve left it intact, but I feel like it’s appropriate for a lot of WriMo virgins, regardless of age.


To the Victims of Ms. Laskowski’s Honors English:

I remember being in your shoes: staring down the barrel of a month of frenetic page-filling, sometimes doing whatever it took to get words down to fill up my Daily/Weekly Word Count. It’s a bit scary, isn’t it?

It’s daunting if you have absolutely no idea what you’re writing about or even where your end-point is. I grew up on the Advanced/Honors/AP route, so I feel you. Everything can become about the destination rather than the journey, especially when you’re juggling several classes, all of which are vying for your undivided attention. Success can mean getting the absolute correct answer as efficiently as possible in order to get the best grade you can. It’s a wonderful skill/ambition to have.

The problem is, life doesn’t always work on a system of right/wrong, pass/fail. Sometimes it’s being 20 years old and deciding it’s perfectly appropriate to wear pajamas to Krispy Kreme at 3 in the morning while pulling an all-nighter to study for an exam in your 8AM Lord of the Rings and Politics class (and my friends, let me tell you. College is awesome that way)…

Sometimes it’s being 30 and deciding to eat Halloween candy for breakfast-in-bed on the first day of NaNoWriMo, while wrangling your attention-seeking cat to get his butt out of your face and hopefully only lay on half your laptop’s keyboard. Life is weird, and sometimes the only right and wrong choices are not the ideal ones–they are maybe the only ones available given the bizarre back alley you’ve wandered down.

(Spoiler: Both of those things have happened in my life. I have no regrets.)

That’s what NaNoWriMo is about at its very core. It’s about cutting loose and having fun, about going where the wind blows you–and trusting that your penny-per-word Dickensian description of a flower will win the day’s word count.

Here’s why: at some point down the road this month, you may find a perfect use for having described that flower. Maybe it becomes a symbol for someone’s bitter rivalry, or a recurring motif wherein the author is subliminally injecting their own disdain for a particular character into the project. (I used to do that a lot in school when I wasn’t thrilled about the writing project assigned. I’m pretty sure making this one math teacher a demon was extra subtle.)

Who knows? You won’t, unless you write like mad and find yourself down a dank back-alley with little more than a pair of roller-skates, that flower, and a shovel, hoping you can dig your way out of the odd series of events in which you’ve found yourself.

Life (and NaNoWriMo) isn’t always about perfection–it’s about letting yourself get creative with the situation at hand.

Here’s the best part: a single 50k-word work is a novel. 25-30k is a novella. So hey, look at you! At the end of this month, YOU’RE GOING TO BE A NOVELIST! That’s pretty B-A. Surviving NaNoWriMo is something worth bragging about–even if you have exactly zero desire to pursue writing later in life. (And who knows? Maybe when you’re 45 you’ll have some sort of mid-life crisis, buy a Camaro, and decide to become the demented love-child of Geoffrey Chaucer and JK Rowling.)

(Spoiler: That one hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’m not counting any chickens.)

So do the thing! Strap on some heavy boots and wade into the mud. Stomp, flop, and push your friends over into it–get messy! FLY BY THE SEAT OF YOUR PANTS! Don’t worry so much about that golden star at the end. The month will go faster than you think it will, I promise.

Most of all–good luck, you guys. Have fun. Wear roller skates, pick flowers, and eat doughnuts. Let your mind wander. Then write it all down.

Happy November!

❤ Pru Holcombe

Pru, a 3-time NaNoWriMo survivor, is a bizarre little creature whose natural habitat involves a laptop, the internet, and a jar of Nutella. They wrote their first (completely terrible) novellas at 14, and is currently first-time e-publishing a novel. Also? They absolutely loved that Lord of the Rings & Politics class and sincerely believes life is an amazing and weird thing.