Color Blind # 1
Genre- YA paranormal
By- Penny Miller
All her life Harmony Phillips has felt defective. Growing up in a paranormal community where magikal abilities come from the wavelengths of color, a color blind girl is worthless, and they haven't let her forget it. No one but her adoptive parents, Charlie a Were-Lion and Sarah a Witch, along with her best friend Tesch, a Siren, have ever given her an ounce of esteem. When a fit of outrage unlocks the color yellow to her eyes, Harmony passes out cold with shock over her eggs and accidentally glamours her nemesis Challen Parks into a cowardly golden retriever. As other colors unfold before her eyes, so do new abilities. Love and friendship get turned upside down as Harmony struggles to have faith in people, discovering they are not always as they seem. The misfit becomes the outlaw as she is once again different from everyone else. What began as joy turns to peril when the paranormal Council finds out she is more than a Witch, or a Were or a Fae... oh my.
For lots of fun games, q & a with the author and prizes head to the Facebook Party Event!
What inspired you to write this book?
My daughter, Amy. I was writing erotic romance books with a partner. She was 13 years old. I couldn’t let her read them, of course. The subject matter was for the 18+. She kept asking me when I was going to write something that she could read.
Color Blind was my answer. I wanted to give her something that was a little magical, but with enough reality that she could relate. Being paranormal doesn’t insulate a girl from normal problems. Like boys, school, bullies and parents. I think often we wish or imagine being special or having super ability would solve all the wrong we have in our lives. But I think the opposite would be true. A paranormal girl would have all the usual problems plus unusual one as well.
Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb?
Someone once told me “write what you know”. So while the fantasy elements of my book are just that, fantasy of my own making, the places are real. I live in McLoud, Oklahoma. where the story is set. We are on the map and if one horse towns are your thing, you could visit. There really is an entertainment district in Oklahoma City called Bricktown that has the yellow water taxis and a bunch of fun stuff to do including the Botanical Gardens. It also has the largest (tall) bronze sculpture exhibit in the world.
How did you choose your title?
While toying with the story basics I was listening to my Spotify app as I fell asleep. The last song I heard before I dozed off was “Colorblind” by Counting Crows. That night I dreamed Harmony and the fried egg scene in the book. It stayed with me the whole next day while I was at work. When I got home I went straight to the computer and wrote it all down. Splitting the word was the publisher’s idea, but it worked well and helped me flesh out the story for the next two books, Color Full and Color Less.
Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.
*smile* The girl on the cover is my daughter, Amy. Indie Gypsy, the publisher, asked me about cover ideas, so I took a picture of her in the back yard and then used my pic monkey app to colorize it for the purpose of showing them my ideas and sent it to them. They emailed me back saying they liked it and would I mind if they used it just like it was. I said heck yeah! I wrote the book for her. It felt right she should be on the cover.
Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?
I went the traditional route. I did the query letters. In fact I must have queried at least a hundred publishers and agents.
Why? Because I know beans about publishing. I’m good at a lot of things. I’m a good nurse, but I wouldn’t try to diagnose myself. I go to a doctor. I can change the oil in my car, but if it overheats, I take it to a mechanic. I can work a plunger with best of them, but if the toilet overflows or a pipe bursts, I call a plumber. I am writer, I write a great story, but that doesn’t mean I know the first thing about putting it together and formatting it to a book form or getting it to the public. I accept the limits of knowledge at this time and found an expert.
What do you consider the most important part of a good story?
I don’t know about other authors, but I go about it like this. I ask myself what is the point? All the conflict and resolution must come to a final conclusion. What is that conclusion? What is the moral or the lesson learned? So the most important part of the story to me is the reason for the suffering. Just like real life, I think the hard times are easier to swallow if in the end there is a good reason or a reward. Whether it's an actual physical prize or personal growth, there has to be a reason for all the hardship.
What is your writing process?
I’ve been asked that question before and I am still not sure how to answer. To me a process is a step a), step b) step c) linear thing. I don’t write like that. I get inspired by something I see or hear or dream. From then it's like a movie or TV series in my head.I write what I see in my own mind. Harmony’s “movie” is a done thing in my head. I just have to have the time to sit down and put it on my computer. Occasionally the characters will give me rewrites. As if they are standing over my shoulder reading as I write it down telling me…”no, no, no, I didn’t say it like that...it was more like this” and then the movie picks back up from there.
What’s my secret writing power? Schizophrenia.
How long have you been writing?
All my life. I’ve been making up stories for myself and my friends and playmates since I was old enough to have friends and playmates.
I wrote my first short story in first grade. I did it in red crayon, six pages with illustrations. It was called Scarlet Jacks and about a strange field of flowers where all the village children played, next to an old man’s house. The flower pollen put the children into comas. But before the village parents could figure out what had really happened they lynched the old man for being an evil witch and burned his house then the field to the ground. When the flowers died, the children woke up. When the flowers grew back and it happened again, The village realized what they had done and named the flowers “Scarlet Jacks” for the harmless old man they murdered.
Hey don’t criticize.I was seven years old at the time. I thought it was pretty good. My mom did too. She still has it in a trunk of keep sakes.
How did you get started writing?
I can’t blame it on any one thing. LOL.
I had an english teacher, Sue Campbell. She was the first person to tell me I should be a writer. I wanted to be an FBI agent. I ended up going to college and being a nurse. When I went to my high school reunion and learned the Ms. Campbell has passed away from cervical and ovarian cancer. It hit me really hard.
About that same time I met Lani Rhea, who ended up being my writing partner for the erotic romance novels we wrote. But before that she was working on her manuscript Louisiana Moon and asked me the question, “What’s a good superpower for a werewolf?” I gave her my two cents worth that grew into a dimes worth of english and writing skill that my beloved Ms. Campbell had taught me.
I had always wanted to actually write my stories, a book for all to read. Ms. Campbell’s death, Lani Rhea’s influence and my daughter’s pushing all converged with my fortieth birthday that made me ask myself, “If not now, then when?”
I decided on now.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
You know, I actually had to look up what “panster” meant. It means “by the seat of your pants” writing as opposed to plotting (or outlining). Having looked it up, I can answer honestly and wholeheartedly, I am a panster. Yes, I have the overall view of what is going to happen in my stories. I know what the final conclusion is going to be. But as I said before, it's like a TV series in my head.
For instance, I watch IZombie. Love the show. I know that this season on IZombie Liv and Ravi will continue to search for the cure for zombism and Blane will continue to plot to his own advantage. I can safely bet on this week’s episode the Liv will eat a brain that has some new effect on her like turning her into ballet dancer, stand up comedian or shopaholic. I can even conclude that whatever brain she eats will probably help her solve Clyde’s most recent homicide case. BUT do I know exactly what, where, who or when? Nope. Do I know the dialogue or the reactions the effects on the total plot? Uh-uh.
Each week is a new show, and in my head each chapter is a new episode. I have a good idea what’s going to happen, but I could be wrong.
What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?
With my work schedule, family life and household chores finding the time to write and being inspired to write at the same time is the biggest challenge. The characters are already there in my head, ready to tell me their story, but finding the time to listen and focus is very hard.
What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?
I listen to music. Often I find the ‘right’ song, something new or an old favorite and it just opens the door to that room inside my head where all my characters are waiting. Like finding the key to the green room for the Tonight Show.
What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?
That depends a lot on the story, the character and the point of the story I am in. Such as, sorry spoiler alert, when Harmony faced her greatest loss, the pain and devastation she felt, well, I was listening to Ed Sheeran’s I See Fire. But when she is horsing around with Tesch playing magikal dodgeball in the front yard I was listening to Young Volcanoes by Fall Out Boy.
The music is like a soundtrack for me. It sets the mood for each scene I write.
Who is your favorite author?
LOL. I get asked this from time to time and it’s never easy. But if I HAD to pick someone, it would be Laurell K. Hamilton. I love her books. I’ve read them all. Her main characters Anita Blake and Meredith Gentry are badass women; smart, sexy, independent. Everything I want to be when I grow up.
Who is your favorite character from a book?
Anita Blake has the best quotes. She is quite pithy. But Meredith Gentry is my favorite simply because she is Fae. And a fairy will win me over hands down every time.
What is your favorite book?
When you say book, I am thinking of a stand alone book. Because I can’t pick just one from my favorite series. That would be like trying to pick my favorite child. I love all my kids.
But the books I pick up most often and read over and over, the ones I have bought more than once when my other copy got stolen, lost or borrowed and never returned?
I don’t know, honestly. I can name twenty.
Archeron by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Queen of the Damned by Anne Ric
The Wastelands by Stephen King
Beauty by Sheri Tepper
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
My Enemy the Queen by Victoria Holt
Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lindsey
The Pirate and The Pagan by Virginia Henley
The list goes on and on.
Read anything good lately?
Well, when I am writing I try to stay away from anything that might resemble what I am currently working on. I would hate to even subconsciously plagiarize. Anyone who says they are not affected by what they read isn’t really reading and enjoying the book. So for safety sake, I am re-reading the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. My books don’t have vampires in them.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to laugh to so I watch stand up comedy. I also go bowling. I have a high game trophy for a 289 I once bowled on my league. I like to color. I have adult coloring books, but I also have My Little Pony and Disney Princess coloring books too. I find it relaxing. And I play Words With Friends. I enjoy word and puzzle games most. I belong to a photography group. A bunch of ladies and myself plan Themed photo shoots, like steampunk, Hollywood glamour, fifties pin up, Roaring ‘20’s flapper, etc. We dress up and our photographer friend takes the pictures. we did a broken doll photo shoot. That was cool.
What advice would you give an author just starting out?
Flash Fiction taught me how to say a lot with less words. To get to the point and keep the story moving. If you don’t know what Flash Fiction is, I will explain. Someone picks a random photograph, it could be of anything. And then authors write a story about the picture using 100 words, no more, no less. Its an awesome learning experience.
Have you had anything else published?
I wrote three erotic romance novellas under the pseudonym Jp Archer with a writing partner Lani Rhea. We had the concept of the Ark Pleasure Hotel and Casino where all the 2012 Mayan doomsdayers could go to live out their wildest fantasies. But somehow our couples always found true love as well as exotic pleasure. LOL
Though I will admit that I bowed out of the third book after seventeen chapters. I had started Color Blind by then and it was consuming my time.
What's your next project?
Color Full, the next book is two thirds completed. And then the final book Color Less will happen. Harmony has a big destiny to fulfill. Her name is more than just a name, it’s a promise. I can’t say much more than that or I will spoil the books for those that are waiting to read them. But I promise Color Blind is just the tip of the paranormal iceberg.The first book is all about Harmony getting her powers, the next about learning to use them wisely and with purpose, the last will be the climatic result of having magikal ability beyond imagination and the price of power. Some lessons are learned in the harshest ways and carry a steep price tag.
”Double Double toil and trouble, Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” William Shakespeare.
I also have another trilogy in mind based loosely on Native American legends of Thunderbirds. Thunderbirds are the messengers and warriors of the Great Sun. They are sworn to protect mankind for the great horned snake Misikinubik and his followers, evil witches known as the Kinubikani. Crimson and Royal are twin brother and sister that have been lost to their Thunderbird tribe for many years before learning who and what they are. It promises to be very action packed and mysterious! I live in the heart of Indian Territory and there is a lot of lore and inspiration to work with.
Did you know that Oklahoma translates to “home of the red man” in Choctaw? Besides having some German and Irish immigrant ancestors, I have a both Choctaw and Cherokee blood. I would love to have a successful series of books that showcases children of the First People as the heros/heroines rather than secondary characters and sidekicks.
Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Thanks so much Kyra for having me. I appreciate this time spent talking to you and your readers. I am happy to answer any other questions or comments at my webpage https://pennymillerbooks.wordpress.com/ and or email email@example.com
Happy Reading and remember #whatcolorisyourmagik
About the Author
Penny Miller is a born and bred Oklahoman. She has a nursing degree from Eastern Penny Miller Oklahoma State College and is a Registered Nurse in addition to being an author. Penny wrote her first short story complete with illustrations when she was seven-years-old and has been writing ideas and bits of dialogue ever since. As a child, her mother regularly read to her classic faery tales. It was those stories that ignited her imagination and attraction to the magical and whimsical. With her three children Robert, Amy and Cheyenne, she carried on the tradition of introducing them to fantasy and other worlds through stories. Three years ago, she co-authored erotic romance e-books under the pseudonym Jp Archer. At that time her daughters asked her when she was going to write stories they could read. Penny went to her keyboard and dug in and her debut solo novel, Color Blind, was born. Most importantly, creating a story in the Young
Adult/Paranormal genre is where she found her true voice as a writer. She hopes readers will become fans of her heroine Harmony Phillips and follow her story through the next phases; Colorful and Colorless.