Monday, March 28, 2011

Names, prizes and updates

 Hey everyone!

First off, Akoss was kind enough to present me with the One lovely Blog award. Thanks a ton! It's my second award. Weee! Apparently, all I have to do is pass it on to some new blogs I've found. This is kinda hard to do since I'm a little confused, and my usual peeps already have this award. And I'm not quite sure what the rules are.
So, I'm going to give it to one person I think doesn't have it and 2 people whose blogs I've followed most recently.
Here I go

J  - have one on me ;)
Cheryl - you're so much fun!
Cindy - because college won't bring us down :p

There, I don't know if there are other people I follow who don't have this (or some form of it) already. If there are, oops, sorry, my bad.

Right, on to part two. Some days ago, I pestered you all with the need to change my 12 year old pen name. I gave you some options I was considering, then J came and threw me off completely with Ian and Rachel and they ganged up on me and... I got confused.

So here are the stats:
2 peeps liked Stephanie Pritty the most (but I should say here that Mysti gave me some alternate suggestions, so it's like 1 and a half votes)
Stephanie Pristty got 2 votes as well.
And then there was a discussion about Stephanie versus Stefanie (which in my head is the exact same thing, just the possibility of awkward pronunciation is greater).

But, regarding everyone's opinions (and of course my own) I am from now on known as...*drum roll*

Stefanie J Pristavu

Yup, I kept my real name. If people don't have trouble reading it, then I'm okay with it. And all the lovely people were right - it is exotic ;) So, until further notice, this is my new writing world name.
I wanna thank everyone for stopping by and casting their votes - your opinion and the fact that you cared enough to stop by means the world to me. I have friends :D

On to some updates.

My Internet connection broke down - I have a weird stick thing in my laptop now, but it will go away soon as it's borrowed - so, ARGHHH!

Okay, done with criminal law (half of it at least), and I'm back to learning mangy civil law (not too happy about that).

I've started writing again - bit by bit, hoping to finish my chapter in the progress and also tweak my romance for submission. I'm closing in on the last chapters, and I'm a bit nervous as to how those will be received. It's always hard wrapping up a story.

Other than that, once I get some time/Internet I have a couple of posts planned. Such as:

How to break down your plot into multiple books and have them stand alone some

The differences between first drafts and what come out after editing (you should stick around for this one - I might find my first draft and you'll have a good laugh - I wrote it when I was ten)

Important things to consider when wrapping up a story.

And, of course, as always, I might find something character related that I didn't gab about, and it'll sidetrack me completely.

Hope to see you guys soon. Signing off...

Stefanie J Pristavu (lol, I just had to put that there, just for show)

Still Steph ;)

Friday, March 25, 2011

What's in a name?

As a non-English language person (yes, I am from Romania - you might have heard of it since it's inside Transylvania - that's not even true!), it's hard to write English fiction under your real name - hard, not impossible. Mainly because people can't pronounce it. And sometimes can't even read it. Especially when it contains letters like ş, ţ, ă, î or â - how many people know how to read those?

Take my name for example:

My first name is Ioana - how would you pronounce it? Probably along the lines of I-wanna. Not too bad, but it's actually E - wanna. :)

My middle name is Ştefana - there's already a problem there since it has an evil ş in there. ş is basically sh - but that doesn't work the problem of pronunciation out, does it? It's reads something like: Shteh-pha-nah.

My last name is Pristavu - I can't teach anyone how to pronounce this in writing (something like Pri-stah-voo).

And even so, there's the accent of the syllables, and the the fact that I can't actually spell my name like that on the cover of a book. Therefore, a pen name is in order.
As you all know, Stephanie Jones was my first choice - but I came up with it when I was 10. See a problem here? Plus, it's very common - and if I'm going to be a writer, I want an uncommon name, so that people can recognize me.

And here's how mature I usually am 
  My reasoning when choosing my name was simple (simple ten-year-old logic): it's not my real name, so let's use that middle name no one calls me by - so, I'm Stephanie (and I really don't mind - I've been called Steph face to face and it worked great. I actually   answer to it if I'm called:))
Jones was a combination of my first name - which translates as Johanna and the fact that my last name, even at home, is distinctive  - and I wanted a non-distinctive one. So, Jones it was.

 Meanwhile, I grew up (yes, it unfortunately happens to the best of  us) and it suddenly dawned to me that it's not working (since I  share the name with a photographer, other authors and miss teen  USA).

Change, change, change

And I came up with this:

I'm keeping Stephanie - I grew too fond of it over the years and I like the sound of it. Plus, it really is my name :) Though, I consider spelling is Stefanie.(make it even more standing out)

Jones will turn into Johanna which will turn into Jo which will turn into a J (I actually like the middle letter there :) Plus, I've been told I have a thing for the letter J)

And here comes the huge change - I'm putting my family name there - well, not the real one, but one pretty close to it anyway. So Pristavu = Pristty

My first choice was Pritty, but I think I like it with the S there as well - closer to the real thing. Plus, you can find Pritty as a case against the UK at the European Court of Human Rights.

So, here are my two/four choices:

Stephanie J Pristty    vs   Stephanie J Pritty

Stefanie J Pristty       vs   Stefanie J Pritty

Or, of course, I could always go for S. J. Pritty/Pristty - but I'd rather have my full first name there (so that people would know I'm not a dude:p)

What do you guys think? Which works best for you/looks nicer on paper/are more likely to remember? I'll take your votes to heart, and it might even influence my decision.

For the last time, I sign myself as Stephanie Jones :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Inside thy head

Inside my head is where I love to spend my time when things outside my head get too hectic (as they tend to do lately and will keep doing so until the end of the summer).

I'm an in-head writer. Ever heard of them? Those crazy people who sometimes stare into space and stop listening to you because you just gave them an idea and they're writing it inside their head. I do that. I never get bored during long travels because I start to write. I write before I go to sleep. I write while I listen to music. My head is a gigantic notebook. And I love it :)

Right, enough of that - let's get to some story elements, okay? BTW, peeps - I WROTE! On paper (well, computer) I actually wrote two pages, trying to finish a chapter I'm rewriting. It was awesome!
Story elements... I was saying something about them.

So, as a critter, I piss of people most of the time saying things like -
I'd like more inner thought here;
What does he/she think about this?
Are they happy/frustrated/annoyed about what that other guy said?
I want more feelings here.

Yeah, those who are stuck with me might have seen some of these lines in between their lines. And that's because I want to connect with a character - I want to get inside their head - see what makes them tick. Why should I root for a zombie? I mean, I love a good setting like the next reader, but I'm all about the character. If I can connect with him and see the world through their eyes. then I'm in. I'll buy his adventures, no matter where they take him (or her).

How to perform a lobotomy

That's how they call drilling into the brain, right?

a. Inner monologue and rhetorical questions are always a good and obvious start. They do a good job at showing the character's thoughts and feelings.


Christine lowered her chin and looked at him. “This is the first time we speak.”
 Sam yanked the other headphone out. “Yeah, I guess so.” She could have anyone. Why on earth was she talking to him? Especially since he couldn’t get a coherent, intelligent statement out.
 Christine batted her eyelashes then bobbed her head to the music. “I heard rumors that you and Lisa are going out.”
 He was going to kill Harry. “We’re not.”
 “Perfect.” Christine grinned and threw the headphone back to him. “It was nice talking to you.”
 “Yeah, really nice.” God, he was an idiot. Couldn’t he come up with something better?

Basically, what  we have here is - inner thought, questions the character asks himself and his feelings on what's happening (the idiot part :)). For me, these are all important because they help me get into Sam's head. He likes her, ergo the tongue tied attitude, and he feels like beating himself up for not being cooler around her. He's shy but wants to overcome it. 
Not much, but enough to connect with his needs and wants for this stage of character development.
This is stuff I always love to see in a story. 

b. Visceral reactions - are also good when getting in tune with a character.

  She cupped his face in her hands. There was something in her eyes, in her smile, that made his pulse race. And she came closer and closer until she kissed him gently on the cheek. His heart jumped into his throat.

A racing pulse, a twisting stomach, a knot in the chest/throat - little things that gets the reader into the atmosphere with the character. And in fiction, little things count ;)

c. Outspoken opinions - it's nice when the character says it all out loud, even if inside their heads (out loud for the reader) - his feelings, his opinions -  obvious information on them. 


 “Where’d you get this book, anyway?”
 Kyle smirked. “One of the guys at the Academy is obsessed with this stuff.”
 “More than me?” Sam had no idea why he felt competitive about this. It’s not like it increased his cool factor. But the idea of one of Kyle’s Police buddies being more into history than him was outrageous.
 It's fun to see a character questioning their own actions and feelings - it show those actions and feelings.

d. Then there's the character's actions - those show a lot about who a character is - but I usually like a little inner thought and what they're thinking after or before they act - show me why they did it - what's their inner motivation.


Sam had never hit anyone for real in his life. He’d wanted to help Christine, but from that to actually punching her aggressor was a long way, a way he couldn’t remember even considering to take. What was happening to him?

After action thought - explains why he did it - except in this case he doesn't really know (because guys are usually thick and can't tell when they've fallen head over heels for a girl).

Is this too much? Not for me. I bask in character feelings and reactions - it's true that I don't always harp on this. There are places where coldblooded action without any feelings works well - I don't always need to know what the character is thinking regarding everything. But I do need my share of intimacy with the guy's/girl's head.

That's just how I work as a reader. And that's why I try my best to cover it all as a writer. I've read things that are nowhere near this inside the character's head - you need to have a smashing plot then. For me, the lack of the reaction from the character must be compensated with a thick plot. The less the character is developed, the better the plot had better be.

Am I the only feeling freak out there? If not, I call to order the new order: Feeling Freaks United! Who would like to join? (We have punch and pie)

Saturday, March 12, 2011


After a while of deep, meaningful thinking, I've reached the conclusion that I don't write anymore. And it feels a bit odd. Especially since I've been at it properly for a whole year now (thanks CC!).
The thing is, I don't have much time. The only creative writing I do (as in not edit) is this blog. I'm starting to feel kind of sad :(

What should I be doing now? I should be studying. I have to finish college and I have 4 years worth of subjects to get up to par with for my two horrible coming exams - one tougher than the other.
So, you've already guessed that this will be a post about me and my studying habit.

I have the annoying knack of getting distracted really easily from doing something (yes, even writing or critting). To avoid this, I've placed all my college books in a room with absolutely nothing interesting in it (my brother's ex room, so you can only guess what lurks in there). So, surrounded by books, I sit at the desk, grab a book (first year civil law...grrr... awful read, wouldn't recommend it to anyone) and I'm off.
I write the time I start studying - the day (I'm at day 8, I think? though it's actually day 11, but I skipped a few...oops) and the page I'm starting from (going at about 50 pages or more per day).
But when I finish studying for the day - it's like 5 hours later. What the hell? It took me 5 hours to read 50 meager pages?

Not exactly. Because about twenty minutes later - I get bored, I start counting pages, looking at the clock, wondering how long it might take me to finish... and so on.

Main distractions:

1. Food - what, I want a glass of water! And something sweet while I'm at it. Except I don't have anything, so I have to rummage in  the fridge to improvise (who said yogurt doesn't taste better with jam?) - and that happens more times per day than I can count. Ugh, there goes my target weight.

2. Boyfriend - wonder what he's up to (well, right now, he's sleeping). But I usually check - and when I do, we get talking and discussing news and then he gets hungry and I sigh and whip us up something and there goes another hour. But at least I won't be craving for food anymore.

3. Internet - Hmmm... I wonder if I got a crit. Should go check. And while I'm on CC, I should do a crit as well - I'm like so behind with all of this, when will I ever return all the favors pending? So yeah, let's do a crit - that takes about 40 minutes. Should get back to studying. Oh, wait - let's check the mail first - no, I don't want a free degree, a fake rolex or viagra - moving on. Let's go back to studying - wait, should check facebook first - what, new photos from someone I hardly know? Gotta check that out!
Okay, done with facebook. Time to study. But let's check the blogger stats first.

4. Music/daydreaming - okay, I'm back at my desk, but it's all boring - taking out the old ipod. I happily start underlining again. Whoa! I love this song and it's for such a nifty scene in my next book. - I stop underlining and reading and take the 4 minutes to imagine the scene the song reminds me of. The song is over, but I managed to get such nifty details set. I want to imagine it some more - another ten minutes gone.

5. Annoyance and backpain - I'm done! My neck hurts and I'm sick of this crappy subject (when can I get into criminal law?) that's it for the day. I'll do a better job tomorrow and catch up. I'd better go lie on my couch like a potato and do some reading/critting/blogging/talking to bf/watching tv - anything else, please. It's a warm day - maybe I'll even go outside!

So, yes - this is practically my learning experience right now. And I should be studying. I will, after I finish this post - I intentionally wanted to do some critting, but I'll leave that for one of the breaks. I wanna get this over with.

The thing is - I think all of this could apply to writing - but in my case, only the internet does - nothing else of the above distract me (especially not studying!). I wish I could do some writing other than the light edits I do before submitting a chapter to CC. :(
Ah, well, life goes on. And I do hope criminal law will pick up the pace ;) See you guys around.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ahoy, thee, support

And with this post I'll be done with characters and possibly move to plotting or other such things. I mentioned last week that I wanted to take care of support characters. So here I am, true to my promise :)

The unhappy part is... I don't do support. I mean, literally, I kinda suck at support characters. Because if I spend too much time on them, I get attached and then want to give them a life story and a girlfriend and... you can see where I'm going with this, don't you?
So, it got me thinking. What exactly is a support character? What makes the difference between them and the MCs? And why, oh why does that piece of pie look so appealing... okay, I just derailed there.

What's a support character?

The truth is, I don't know. I suspect it's a character who isn't exactly kicking the plot along. So I'm sticking with that.
In discovering my inner compass for less significant characters, I turned to my WIP Hunters - why did I do that? Probably because it doesn't have one million characters like my YA series. So, I found that most of my secondary characters are there for... two chapters tops. Huston, we have a problem.
Eventually, after digging a bit deeper, I found Justin. He's the only support I believe matters. He's a wraith - a vile smoke particle floating about in misery until someone buys him a ticket home. He does have a purpose to the plot - he helps/unhelps Daniel and Rachel quite a lot.
Therefore, I deduced that's what a support character does - interferes in the lives of the MCs, gives the plot a little kick and provides some entertainment for the reader.

Support versus the big pile of extra characters

I have a big pile of characters in my YA series - counted over thirty in the first volume alone. I have five MCs plus girlfriends plus villains and a backup team. Out of all of these people, I only think of one person as fitting the bill to be the support character - Billy - cousin of the MCs.
And here is where my logic fails me. The girls aren't MCs - actually, they have nothing to do with the major plot (Billy's more involved in that) - sure they do provide bait and reasons for fights and self sacrifice - but I can't put them in support either. They seem too important - so they go into the (cleverly labeled) girls category.
The rest of the backup team seems of too little importance (so far) to toss them into the support pile. They don't do enough for the MCs (from which I'm deducing that I take the term support literally). So they fall into the big pile of characters category.
The character pyramid

This is how I see things at least. After a lot of thinking, I realized I don't have that many support characters and that all the imaginary people I put on paper tend to jump from one floor to the next, including my darling MCs.

And, for that purpose, I'll give you an example: Jerry. Jerry's supposed to be a main character. And he'll end up being one - he's part of the big plot and helps it roll along. Only that, in the first volume, he's more likely support. He doesn't get all that much screen time or have such a big contribution to the plot.
Sure, he saves a couple of lives, but who doesn't in my book?

In the first volume, Billy hardly fits into support. He's somewhere on the line of the big pile of characters. Not to mention that one of the girls will fall from the Girls/Girlfriends category straight to random people on the street.

Support versus MC

This doesn't dwell well either, seeing as my people jump around on that carefully drawn (*cough* paint *cough*) pinnacle of wisdom.
I guess, the way I see it, the main difference is  that, at the end of it all, the reader won't spend nights thinking how the poor support character took the news that the *magic* was actually the *magic* and now everything is upside down and what will they decide now regarding the *magic*. (BTW, I use *magic* to prevent spoilers :p)
No, the reader will care about what the MCs think, because the reader invested most into them. I guess it's an investment problem after all.

My brilliant conclusion.

A character is unstable and can't be put into any category for the length of a whole book/series because they'll keep moving around.
I think the accuracy of my pyramid reduces to scenes. Each scene has one MC - one person everyone else revolves around. In conclusion, all my characters will get to be support at some point, to let the one in whose POV we are grow more. The whole point of this is to get the reader to like and know the characters.

This whole analysis was painfully useless.

I know, you were probably expecting a witty analysis of the support character - how to build one, his/her purpose in the story, what makes them tick - kinda like I did for the other categories of characters in a book. But here is where I fall flat. I have failed everyone - I started off writing something intelligent and  came up with... this.

Um...yeah. So, er, what have you guys been up to lately? O:)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Damsels versus Divas

Guess what? I won a prize! Mysti just drew me out of the hat for a signed copy of her awesome book, A Ranger's tale. (Unwritten: And the Winner is... - in case you don't believe me :p. And check her blog out while you're at it). Her signature is going to be worth so much some day... and so will mine ;) Modest as usual.

On with todays topic. I wanted to cover support characters today, but realized I'd be jumping over a hugely popular category of...fictional people. Las chicas! (or the girls as I like to call them)

I'm a female writer (can you tell?), and I believe one of the few who write male MCs. Therefore, the girls usually fall into support. I don't feel guilty about it, seeing as there are so many great books out there written from the women's POV (I write female POV too, but, except for Hunters, they're not really MCs), many enough to do the girls justice.

There are many types of girls in fiction, but I tend to split them into just two:
Damsels - photo credit to the artist

Divas - photo credit to the artist
What's the difference between the two? One has a pretty dress, the other one has a gun (ans also extremely short shorts).

In my writing, I have damsel characters and diva characters. What's the difference between them (except the obvious gun) and what do they mean in my world...


I know you're thinking fairytales. And you're not totally wrong. In my writing world, Damsels are the girls who loved fairytales and wanted a handsome prince of their own. Of course, like all little girls with a pink bedroom, they grew up and became normal girls, able to function on their own and find themselves an appropriate man through good old dating (or trickery of sorts).
Only the dream remained. Once they found their guy, they're more than happy to let him take the lead and pull the reins from behind. Subtly. Who doesn't do that?
Are they weak women? No, they're not. They are strong, confident women, who know a losing battle when they see one and love comfort.


In my YA series, I have two Damsel characters - Christine (portrayed above) and Tina (who happens to be Christine's sister).

Christine is a feisty girl who knows what she wants. She wants a guy, she goes for it. She wants to do something against her father's wishes, she does that too. She is a secret agent... check.
Why is she a damsel then? Because she won't be bothered with anything complicated. She doesn't strive to learn to fight and protect herself. She knows that as long as Sam's there, she'll be safe. When she gets kidnapped, she knows he'll come after her and waits patiently. So she's basically leaving her safety in the hands of a guy because it's more comfortable for her. But it doesn't make her a pushover.

Tina - well, she's a shy girl - the kind who sucked at PE in school. She doesn't want to get into trouble and thinks she'd ward off the danger with wishful thinking. Needless to say, it doesn't work. She's the kind of girl who pulls the reins from behind, even though she appears dominated in a relationship. And can be pretty scary, actually.


No, they are not the female version of a hustler. (Beyonce pun). They are girls who know what they want, when they want it and how to get it. They don't wait around for a guy to do anything for them - they want to do it for themselves (in my case, learn to fight, shoot, go undetected) They want to keep themselves safe.
They are not ultra-conservative feminists. They enjoy male attention, love with all their hearts, help their men and have balanced relationships.


Kay (picture): yes, she's a feisty chick - can shoot and fight and would do anything to help her friends. That doesn't mean she doesn't like being helped, protected and loved.

Angie: escapes kidnapping on her own, shoots, fights and fools people. She also handled herself working the streets in a gang. She's hardcore, but is still saved - a bit impulsive, this little one.

Jessie: knows her place. Deadly fighting skills, a lot of help, saved boyfriend's life a couple of times, but knows when to step back and let the boys work their magic. Not a big fan of being overprotected, but loves the attention.

These girls believe in  looking out for themselves. The guys are just an added bonus. And in a life like theirs (with shooting and kidnaps around the corner), it's an useful trait.

The crossover: 

And here's the part where I create a character who's both. Yes, it is Rachel, the MC from Hunters. At first, she's a damsel, trotting along in Daniel's wake, believing he has all the answers - sure, she fights and shoots on her own, but is a bit overly dependent of him.
Along the way, she starts disagreeing with his views and takes matters into her own hands. Which is just great, since she ends up saving both their butts. And she becomes self-sufficient.  Which is the definition of a Diva in my universe.

As you see from the above rants and examples, there is a very thin line between the two categories, and it all depends on the girl's own psychology. Does she see herself as D1 or D2?

You'll probably think me narrow minded  for focusing on two categories of women, when there are thousands. True, every human being is unique. But in writing, these kinds of ladies tend to say it all.

Personally, I write both divas and damsels. In real life, I think I'm the crossover - going from self-sufficient to let the guy do my work for me, depending on the situation.
How about you? What kind of girls do you have in your writing?