Saturday, September 24, 2016

MOST RECENT UPDATES

Hi there!

If you've come to this blog you either have an old copy of one of my books with this link, or know me from my past blogging years. Either way, I'm glad you're here ... only, I don't blog here anymore.

Sorry!

I'm no longer actively blogging anywhere, but you're welcome to peruse the archives here. You can find me on my website at http://pkspixies.com

For a list of my social media profiles please go to PK's Fairy Tale on my website for quick links.

I also have a BOOKS by PK Hrezo page, and a sidebar with a list of venues where I'll be exhibiting.

Please know I'm working extra hard at getting my next few books out. I have a list to publish over the next two years, so if you want advance notice on releases and special offers, join my email list.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you soon!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

2016 -- Change Is Good

This has taking me awhile to post, so I apologize to anyone who follows my blog regularly or if I left anyone hanging. Truth is, I'm in and out of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, all the time so I see many of you on those platforms.

But to be quite frank, social media has taken a major backburner for me, in particular, blogging, as you may well be aware of. I'm sure I sound like a broken record because I've said it before, and I don't mean it as an excuse, but I just can't justify the amount of time it takes to maintain a worthwhile blog, or get around to visit other blogs.

Many of you do, and I respect that immensely. To those of you I don't get to correspond with regularly, I do miss you, and miss the way blogging was back in the old days. But I think it was part of a wheel that was always in motion, and at that time when we were all involved in blogfests and hops and sharing our journeys, it was only a single spoke that had its spotlight, and now its passed.

For me, anyway. My life has always been that way though. What works for me for awhile, doesn't work forever. Everything is always changing and evolving and moving with the times, and sometimes that means letting things go.

If you read my newsletter you know I've decided to leave the blogging world. I will leave this blog up because I believe it has a valuable archive resource for someone who may be starting out their journey in writing, or if someone is simply interested in my own. It's chronicled so much of my path.

And all of you who've stopped by here regularly over the past six years are such a vital part of that path. I truly love all of you for the support and friendship. I'm always an email away or Facebook message, or Tweet. Please know that while I'm leaving blogging, I'm not leaving you.

I've made some big changes with the start of this new year. Over the next year or so, I'll be giving up my Down the Rabbit Hole website, mainly because it's too time consuming and costly to maintain two websites on my own. I've opened up www.pkspixies.com as my main web hub, because that's where my focus is right now. I'm having so much fun with my pixie shop. I do monthly markets and periodic festivals and I've got a really great thing going with the locals.

My independent book titles have moved exclusively to Amazon, so my Amazon Author page will serve as my author hub from here on out. This is all in an effort to streamline my life and bring what's important to me most, to the forefront. I'm still writing, and working on revising some old stories as well as crafting some new non-fiction books.

I feel like I'm finally in control of my life again and it's invigorating.

Some of you know that over the last two years I'd given up my own writing projects to work on a memoir for the mother of an assault victim. Many of you showed me enormous support and encouragement for that, and it's so appreciated.

After much deliberation and lost sleep, I terminated my work on the memoir project. I wish the family nothing but good health and success in their future endeavors, but since the partnership did not turn out the way I'd hoped, I'm moving on.

I know 95% of my blog readers are other writers, so let me just say, from one writer to another, as frankly as I can put it without being offensive, assume you will be taken advantage of. Everywhere and anywhere. Protect yourself, and your work. 

In going into a partnership with another writer or person, even if you trust them and they are your friend, do yourself a favor and collaborate a contract in the very beginning BEFORE you start work. Both sign it. You don't need lawyers for this. It's just a placeholder, but it's more likely to remind both parties of what they originally agreed to. You can refer back to this if expectations get hazy, or someone gets greedy.

Write down all expectations and do a web search for a contract template between joint authors. Use it to fit your needs, and print out copies for both of you.

Points of interest are: royalty splits, rights, future rights, deadlines for work completion, timely work flow requirements, clarity and limits on amount of edits.

All in all, I'm at peace with folding on this project. I still get inquiries on it because I sort of became the face and contact for through a couple of online fundraisers, but I know its because you're all so supportive and interested, and I'm more than happy to answer questions.

I did give the mother and daughter resources to continue their project on their own so they can keep all rights and royalties, which is what they ultimately want anyway.

So that's that. Weight off my chest.

It's going to be a great year! If we aren't already and friends on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Instagram, please let me know so we can stay connected. I also put out newsletters of all events and updates. I'll still be around, I just won't be here on  this blog. Feel free to email me anytime, if even just to say hello. :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG - Wednesday .... Finding Happiness




Today is the first Wednesday of the month when writers around the blogosphere come together for a virtual group hug. Hop over to the HQ to see other bloggers who are posting today. Click on the pic above to get there.

So last week Hubby and I spent in Banff, Canada to celebrate his 40th birthday. It was bliss. Such a beautiful place. All that fresh air and spectacular scenery is just what  I needed. I've been in kind of an "I suck" phase for awhile now. You know the one--where no matter how hard you try, everything you do just feels mediocre at best?

Being immersed in the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies reminded me how small and insignificant I am, but in a good way. A way that reminded me how trivial our problems are in the grand scheme of things. All my creative efforts felt so amateurish. As odd as that may sound, it was refreshing.

                                                (photo credit: MY OWN) :)

Having that time not to dwell on goals and work related efforts rejuvenated my spirit. On the way home, I began thinking of all the things I needed to do to get caught up, and I was starting to feel a little stressed. But there was one thing that made me feel really happy, and that was the upcoming arts and crafts market for PK's Pixies. I only had a day to prepare by the time I reached home, but instead of feeling stressed, I felt excited. I couldn't wait to get there and do my thing.

It was such a natural high that carried over right into market day and I had a fabulous day with good sales.

Why it's relevant to today's post, is that it made me realize how important it is to find what makes us happy. Work can't always make us happy, but we can find other things that do.

Writing makes most of us happy or we wouldn't do it. But when it comes to our stories, are we writing what makes us happy? Are we marketing our published works in a way that makes us happy? Are we happy with our publishing paths? Do the social media outlets we use make us happy?

If not, why? What can we do to change it?

I gotta say, that exhilarating rush of happiness I felt when I thought of market time is something I hadn't felt in a long time. That's my own fault for not paying closer attention to my spirit's whisper.

I'm not saying everything in life has to make us happy, but I am saying that if you haven't felt joy or happiness in your work in awhile, maybe it's time to rethink your path and goals, and determine how you can put yourself on the path to happiness.

Writing makes me very happy. There are parts of the publishing machine that don't, but that's the yin to the yang.

Bottom line, life is short. We shouldn't have to suffer through everything. We do the work that must be done so we can spend the rest of our time focusing on the things that makes us happy.


By the way, I happened to see Jamie Ayres has a post on being happy today too, so hop on over for a peek. She's a true gem!

And next month I'll be back to my Movie Breakdown for you on Silence of the Lambs. Hope to see you then!

Tell me, are you happy with your choices? Are there things you can be doing differently? What is it that makes YOU happy? 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG- Wednesday and Shawshank Redemption Breakdown

Hey, groovy cats! Meeee-ow!



It's the first Wednesday of the month, and you know what that means .... Insecure Writer's Support Group posting around the blogosphere. I've been a part of this group since it started a couple years ago and I can say there isn't a more supportive and uplifting writing community out there.

Click on the pic to get to HQ and see all the fellow writers who participate.



I took a blogging break over the last six months or so, but I knew I wanted to come back for IWSG Wednesday because you have all been there for me over the years, and I want to be there for you.

BTW .... for some reason Blogger likes to eat my comments on your blogs. On some blogs it's no problem and my comments append, and on others, I comment repeatedly and nothing happens. So if anyone knows WHY this happens, please let me know so I can fix it.

Alright, let's get to it.

Today I'm breaking down the structural beats of the widely loved film, Shawshank Redemption. It's based on a Stephen King novel, and after hearing so many people say this is one of their all time favorite films, I had to get in there and dissect it. I confess, I love it, too. It's an epic story of redemption. The stakes are high, and things continue to get worse and worse, until our main character is hanging by the last thread of his sanity. And we love watching him come out on top in the end.

Here's the breakdown using the Save the Cat method on story structural beats:

SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

Genre:  Institutionalized





OPENING IMAGE:
A 1940s car in a gravel driveway of a middle class suburban home. Inside the car is Andy Dufrane (played by Tim Robbins). Old timey music is playing on the car radio. Andy has a look of distress on his face. He reaches for a gun from the glove box, holds it. Then takes a drink of liquor and focuses on the house in front of him. We never see what happens next.

(Does your story have an opening image that sets the tone for the entire story??)

SETUP:
We jump to a courtroom trial with Andy on the stand. The prosecuting attorney recaps the events that got him there. Andy’s wife had a lover and Andy allegedly shot and killed both his wife and her lover in cold, meditated murder. We hear both sides of the case, from the lawyer and from Andy’s testimony, but we are unable to determine if he’s guilty, and it’s an era before forensic science could prove a case. Andy is stoic and un-remorseful, giving him a look of guilt.

(Perfect example of leaving the audience with questions and wanting to know more)

THEME STATED:
Regardless of Andy’s claim to his innocence, he is doubly sentenced to life in prison, stating the theme that offenders go on to receive their punishment, pay their debts, so that justice is served. Freedom is taken away from those who commit a crime. 

(This theme provides a delicious twist of irony in the end)

CATALYST:
Andy is sent to prison for reform. Welcome to Shawshank.

DEBATE:
We cut to Red (played by Morgan Freeman) and he is sitting in front of a parole board trying to prove he has been reformed. He tries to convince them he’s no longer a danger to society. He is rejected. Perhaps justice is not blind, or perhaps Red simply does not deserve freedom.

BREAK INTO ACT II:
Red is back in the prison yard and we are introduced to him as the narrator of Andy’s story. When he narrates Andy’s arrival to Shawshank, Red says none of the inmates expected Andy to last. A breeze would blow him over, Andy was so withdrawn. No one believes he will make it past the first night, much less, to ever see his freedom again.

B STORY:
Andy needs help from Red, since Red is the man who can get things. He asks Red to get him a poster of Rita Hayworth and a rock hammer (a foreshadowing of what’s to come/plant in the story.) This is where their friendship begins.
We are also introduced to the warden and the warden’s rules. He stands for two things: discipline and the Bible.

FUN & GAMES:
This is where we see what prison life is really like. Caged lowlifes, criminal hierarchy, beatings and hounding. We see an inmate break down into tears on his first night, daunted by the finality and severity of this punishment. We also see what Andy is made of on his first night, and he never sheds a tear. Is it because he is truly remorseless? Or because something stronger resides inside him?

MIDPOINT:
Andy’s having trouble with the "sisters," and he’s having trouble making friends. Red warns Andy to grow eyes in the back of his head. Red confesses he likes Andy and values their friendship.
Andy’s sculpting rocks now, admitting he’s a rock hound (another plant/foreshadow), and even remarks that tunneling out of prison with a rock hammer would take 600 years.
The warden demonstrates his surprise inspections (more foreshadowing.)
We also see how paraphernalia is moved in and out of prison under the guards’ noses. 

BAD GUYS CLOSE IN: 
The sisters attack. Sometimes Andy gets away, and sometimes he doesn’t. The first two years in prison Andy suffers multiple assaults from them because prison is no fairy tale world. The attacks become routine and Andy often shows up with fresh bruises. But Andy makes a name for himself when he offers to help the head guard with his taxes. Soon the warden hears of Andy’s skills and takes advantage of his financial wisdom. Andy makes friends by trading his services for two six packs of beer for his fellow inmates on the roof, and this wins him favor with the others. At one point, Andy is beaten within inches of his life and put in the infirmary. This ticks off the head guard so he beats down the sisters and has them moved to another prison. Andy is now free from them, but also, now under the scrutiny of the warden, as he’s working in his office keeping his books and crunching his fraudulent numbers.



ALL IS LOST:
We see a clip of lifetime inmate, Brooks, being released on parole now that he’s an old man with no family left and nowhere to go, only a measly job of bagging groceries. He ends up hanging himself because he can’t handle the real world. This shows us what prison can do to a man, what it takes away from him, even after he’s out.
For Andy, we learn through a new inmate, Tommy, that he truly is innocent. Tommy tells of a man he was once in a different prison with, and how that man confessed to killing some banker’s wife and lover, and getting away with it because the law tried and convicted the banker. When Andy presents this new information to the warden, the warden refuses to acknowledge its legitimacy and throws Andy in solitary confinement for insubordination.

(Perfect example of how important information is withheld from the audience until well past the mid point)

DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL:
The warden keeps Andy in solitary for a month—the longest anyone has ever been down there. The warden has Tommy, the only witness to Andy’s innocence, shot and killed in the prison yard to prevent his prized possession and financial advisor, Andy, from having his case reopened. Andy is given solitary another month so that he has uninterrupted time to consider the warden’s leniency. The warden threatens to throw Andy in with the sodomites and burn down the prison library that Andy worked so hard to build, if Andy doesn’t give up his quest for a new trial. Here, Andy remembers loving his dead wife while she was alive, but also driving her away with his lack of emotion. Prison has opened his eyes to who he was, but he can’t let it take away who he is, or who he’s meant to be.
Red is rejected by the parole board once more, after serving thirty years of his life sentence.

BREAK INTO ACT III:
Andy dreams of life outside prison. He’s different after solitary--quieter, broken, but not beat. He talks with Red about a place in Mexico called Zihautanejo and encourages him to visit it someday. They both know it’s a pipe dream, but it represents freedom. Freedom that Andy craves, and Red fears. Andy tells Red if he ever gets out, to look for a rock wall near a big tree and there will be something buried beneath a black rock there. This leaves Red worried of what dark plans Andy may have. Suicide, perhaps?

FINALE:
Andy comes up missing at role call one morning. Red and the other inmates are nervous. Inside Andy’s cell, we see no body, nor any sign of Andy, only his rock sculpture collection, and poster of Raquel Welch. The alarm sounds and the warden sends for Red, to question him.
We see the chain of events leading up to that moment. A rewind of images: Andy shines the warden’s shoes in the warden’s office that day, but puts them on his own feet instead of leaving them out for the warden. He deposits the warden’s papers and money into the safe, but it’s not like it should be. A bigger plan is already in place from years of mail correspondence the warden has no knowledge of.
In his anger, the warden throws one of Andy’s rocks at the poster on his prison wall on the end block, and it bounces and echoes in the distance behind it, alerting him, and Red, that foul play is afoot.
Andy’s tunnel is revealed, as well as the way Andy crawled through the wall and through a sewage pipe, eventually making it to freedom in a ditch on the other side. Prison allowed an innocent man the perfect crime. Andy was able to tunnel out in under twenty years. All the money handling he’d done for the warden was placed in an account under someone else’s name—all part of Andy’s grand scheme—one that he’d already gotten new fake IDs for while biding his time in prison. Money to keep him well provided for, for the rest of his life.
At last, Red is granted parole from the board.



FINAL IMAGE:
What freedom feels like.  Andy on a white sand beach, sanding a boat. Red strolling beside the pristine ocean waters to be reunited with his friend. Fade into panoramic of beach. What freedom looks like. 


So tell me, are you a fan of this story? Why or why not? Do you find it helpful to break down stories into beats to improve your own writing? I use these beats when plotting and it's become a tried and true technique. Is there a film you'd like to see me breakdown? Feel free to share in the comments ...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

IWSG- Wednesday! And #UtopiaLove 2016

Hello there! I hope you've had a wonderful summer. I took the hot months off to regroup and redirect, and I'm feeling all the more fresh because of it.



I am so happy to be back in time for the Insecure Writers Support Group post. It's every first Wednesday of the month. Big thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and the crew for creating it and keeping it going, and a special thanks to Alex for reminding me what an awesome community it is.

This post is also a part of a blog hop promoting the super-fantastic-astounding Utopia Conference. #Utopia2016  .... and here's my short video contribution on what Utopia did for me this summer:




Utopia 2016 has a Go Fund Me page because it just keeps getting bigger and better and of course, money is needed for that, so here is the page should you feel so inclined, and there are some fantastic prizes!! Here's the RAFFLECOPTER link for the raffle.

If you've been wondering about attending a con, I can't recommend this one enough. It's not only a gathering of like-minded peeps, but we've all become a family who really care about each other. "Lift as you climb," is Utopia's motto.

Click HERE to get to the page and learn more.

As for my IWSG blog post today, I thought I'd do more of an introduction into what I'll be focusing on over the next few months, and I welcome your feedback. When I think about what matters most to me in blogging content, it's stories. I adore them. Brilliant storytelling, strong writing, riveting characters ... all of it.

So every first Wednesday of the month, for IWSG, I will break down a movie into beats. Not just any movie--but one with clever storytelling. I'm choosing to do movies instead of books because, quite simply, it's faster. Movies give us the gist of a great story while developing all the important elements. I'll be focusing on structural beats a la Save the Cat methods. I've found it's an excellent way to understand storytelling from master storytellers, and it reflects in our own storytelling when it comes time to write.

Next month, I'll do Shawshank Redemption. If you have a movie you'd like me to do, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll add it to my list. Again, I'm focusing on movies that leave you with that brilliant story hangover.

What say you? Ever break down movies into beats? Any movie you'd like to see broken down? Has a conference ever inspired you to do something? 

Monday, April 27, 2015

An Online Auction for Writers and Readers

Hey friends! I'm popping in to let you know about an online auction happening RIGHT NOW!!



Get thee over to AUCTION HQ and peruse all the amazing items up for bid.

Items like:


  • Agent critiques and consultations
  • Story software from Save the Cat, Scrivener, Vellum, and more!
  • Pub pros consultations like The Plot Whisperer, Mary Kole, Susan Kaye Quinn, and more!
  • Kindle Fire loaded with ebooks
  • Signed paperbacks from bestselling authors
  • Book tour, swag, Authors Training Authors and Emotion Thesauruses

And so much more!

Twenty bundles in total! Check them out and plan your bidding strategy. Auction is open til Friday, May 1, at 6pm EST. Afterward, we will have a Facebook wrap up party and announce winners, as well as give away prizes. Hope to see you there! Invite all your friends!

For the complete program and bundles up for bid, go HERE.

To get directly to the auction, go HERE.

And if you can, help spread the word by sharing via a blog post, tweet, Facebook share, or whatever floats your boat. 100% of the proceeds will go to Queena and her family toward the therapy that costs them over $100K every year.

To learn more about Queena, visit her website, JoinQueena.com

Thanks so much for stopping by! Let me know if you have any questions.

This auction is hosted by NA Alley.


I love you guys and miss you! Hope you're all having a fabulous A-Z month!! I'm slaving away on pixies and the Mended by Love memoir. I'm always available via email if you need anything.

Have you stopped by the auction? Bid on anything? Drooling over anything? Tell me all about it...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

IWSG - On Rejection ... and a special announcement!


Happy March! As always on the first Wednesday of the month, writers around the blogosphere come together to share ups and downs of the writerly lifestyle. All are welcome! Feel free to join the group, as it's an excellent way to network with other bloggers and writers. Click the picture above to get to IWSG HQ.

I've been thinking a lot about rejection lately, and how crushing it can be to our fragile egos. Rejection comes in so many ways-- from literary agents, to editors, to those who review our published work and don't jibe with it. It really does take a rhino-skin to keep moving forward.

What I was reminded of these past couple of months, is that rejection is not just for writers. We do not suffer a unique form of adversity because we choose this writer's path. Rejection is a reality for every artist, as well as professionals in the work place.

I've been declined positions before when interviewing in my corporate job. That's rejection. And in positions where I've been accepted, others were rejected. As an artist/craftsman, last month, I put in for two art shows I've never done before for PK's Pixies and was rejected by both. Had I not had so much experience with rejection through the query process, this may have led me to believe my art wasn't good enough.

It did disappoint me for a few days, but I pressed on, and did the art shows where I was accepted. Then something wonderful happened! Three other art markets either accepted my application, or invited me to be a part of one I'd never heard of. Had I given up, this never would've happened.

Writing is no different. Rejection is not exclusive to our art form. Everyone deals with it, and maybe not as much as we do, but rejection can come in so many forms.

It's something helpful to remember when we're wallowing in our writerly misery and wondering why we ever thought we could be successful at it.

Hope you have a wonderful writerly Wednesday!

On to my special announcement ...


Our amazing writers' community is sponsoring an auction of epic proportions! NA Alley will host this year's online auction event April 27-May 1 and all the funds raised will go to Queena. If you don't know who Queena is, she is the incredible young woman I'm writing a memoir about. At age 18 she was attacked while returning books to her local library. Beaten, raped, strangled, and left for dead, she suffered severe brain trauma and eventually went into a coma.

This year she'll celebrate her 25th birthday, but her years from 18-25 have been nothing like she'd planned. Every day is a struggle and accomplishment. She's blind, unable to speak, or care for herself. She requires round-the-clock care. But she's making strides every day! It costs over $70K a year for her medical expenses and therapy, and the family relies on donations and fundraisers to cover these costs.

We over at NA Alley are so excited to host this event and do something really nice for Queena and her family--something that they won't have to lift a finger for.

And we need YOUR help! We are accepting donations of any kind from authors and publishing professionals across the industry. We will take ebooks, signed paperbacks, audiobooks on CD, gift cards, book swag, publishing services such as editing, formatting, cover designs, etc., query and first page critiques.

Anything of value to a reader or writer is welcome. In return, we will be advertizing for you via our online auction. Bidders will see your name and/or logo, and/ or book cover when browsing the auction. This auction will be open internationally, so it will reach places that may never before have seen your book or service.

If you can donate, please leave me a comment with your email, or email me directly at pakazo77@gmail.com  and please feel free to share this around the internet. Spread the word!

Help us show Queena lots of love, and that goodness always prevails over evil. Watch her latest video to learn more about her. Her family is so appreciative of any and all support, and they are good, honest, loving people.