Friday, July 29, 2011

Making Memories Work

Hi all! Please welcome Rosalind Adam to the blog for yet another episode of GPF! Ros is an awesome lady and one of my favorite bloggers. (Yes yes. I know I say that all the time.) So please head over to her blog to give her some love.

Making Memories Work

I am always amazed at the memories that lurk in the depths of my brain... or wherever it is memories live. In my blog bio I admit to being a nostalgia obsessive and many of my posts are inspired by memories, but I’ve earned money from memories too.

Using memory as a starting point for writing can produce unexpected outcomes. One of my favourite writing exercises, especially when working with a new group, is to have 5 minutes free flow writing about a room remembered from childhood.  It always produces surprises. People write about things they didn’t remember they remembered and rooms can hold particularly powerful memories.

In 2008 I was the facilitator of a Heritage Lottery funded project collecting memories about Leicester’s Jewish Community in the 1940s and 50s and creating a book, a website and a touring display. The 70 elderly contributors thoroughly enjoyed the writing workshops even though for many it was their first taste of creative writing. I’d known most of them all my life so I enlisted the help of Miriam Halahmy  for the workshop activities. They loved her and her contribution was invaluable.

We worked together for three months collecting memories that tumbled onto notepads in a random, disjointed way. I then had the job of turning the memories into the Jewish Voices book. What an experience that was, slotting the memories together to tell a story that had never before been told, about a tiny, self-contained community that experienced an enormous upheaval in the 1940s as families of Londoners poured into Leicester to escape the bombs. Together with refugees from Europe, they helped to create the large, diverse community that emerged from the war. The project website is Leicester Jewish Voices.

The format of this memory project can be used with all kinds of groups, not only religious communities. There are memories everywhere and if we don’t record them they’ll be lost forever... but if a memory project isn’t for you then at least give the writing exercise a try. You’ll be surprised at what emerges onto the page and, who knows, it could provide the spark for that next best seller.

For more about free flow writing and the memory project visit my website or my blog.

Thanks so much for this lovely story, Ros! I'm dying of curiosity, so I'm going to ask all my readers this: If you could write about any personal memory or moments in history, what would it be?

Then, I just want to remind you all that I only have three GPF slots left for this year, so if you still want to post (about any writing/literary topic) on my blog, please contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Turns out I don't need to do both.

Well, I've found something rather interesting lately. After all my concerns about writing and editing at the same time, something occurred to me this morning as I woke up.

I'm studying. And I'm editing. Both take part in the same half of my brain.

So of course I'll struggle with switching over to creativity. Because it's not the way I'm thinking right now. Yes, I could skip back to creativity if I wanted, but do I really have the time to be diverted by my muse? Uhm...

Not while I'm still a week behind due to a webmaster that I will shoot soon.

Instead, my free hours can be spent studying or editing. Who knows? Maybe I'll even be able to finish my edits before my exams.

In the mean time, I'll use any free time I have left after the above to read and refill my creative reservoirs so that I can go mad in November.

I mean, it must mean something that my exam is on 31 October.

Because on 1 November I can join NaNo. ^_^ Maybe this year I might even stand a chance of winning...

Oh yes! And then there's this...

Anyone else found their planning thrown by the actions/cock ups of others? Who else will be joining NaNoWriMo?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Readiness Test

Hi all! Today I welcome Maria Zannini as part of The Indie Roadshow.

The Readiness Test

Writers are the WORST judges for deciding when a manuscript is ready for publication. We wear industrial grade blinders, often missing the obvious faults in a manuscript. Our hearing’s not so good either since we’re likely to dismiss our critique partners when they fail to laud us with rose petals and applause.

It takes time, both to gain experience in craft and to hone the instinct that tells you which way to guide your story.  It also takes a great deal of reading across many genres.

Not to say that writing ever becomes easy, but it does become more intuitive. And part of that instinct is knowing when you’ve gone as far as you could. When it reaches that point, it’s time for the next tier: professional editing.

In traditional and small press, this comes automatically after you’ve signed a contract. You’re given an editor who will address issues you didn’t even know existed. If your work is sub par or for whatever reason doesn’t ring any bells for the submissions editor, then you’re left with either subbing it elsewhere or reworking the story.

But when you’re self-published, the onus of that decision is all yours. You have to decide (shrewdly) if the story is good enough to be published. Only then can you hire an editor and polish the story to its finished state.

I feel this is where many indie authors split ranks. There are books being published that are just plain bad. Many of these have never seen an editor, let alone a critique partner. I know editing is expensive. But it’s a requisite of publishing. No small or large press would ever publish work without editing, why would you do any less for yourself?

How do you know your manuscript is ready for publication?

• The story has a beginning, middle and end with full arcs for each character.

• You’ve proofed it backwards and forwards.

• It’s been in the hands of at least one other qualified reader; someone who is not your mother, your friend, or that eye-candy who wants to get into your pants.

• When you get back your critiques for the story, most of the comments center on tiny grammar nits rather than whopping plot holes.

• You’re certain there is nothing more you can do for the story. It’s as finished as you can make it.

At this point you either submit it to a regular publisher, self-publish, or store it on your hard drive in a folder marked: ‘Chicken!’.

How do you know it’s NOT ready for publication?

• Your critique partners say things like:  I really like the font you used. 

• You tried submitting it to regular publishing channels and your email is blocked as spam.

• You know in your heart it has problems.

Sometimes we love our stories so much we refuse to see them for what they really are. Recognizing mediocrity is part of growing as a writer.

True Believers which received such wide praise and got on two “Best of” lists for 2010 started out as crap. It was self-stroking and naive. I rewrote that story from the ground up—twice, until it became the tale it is today. It also had countless critiques and two editors. Believe me, it shows.

Just because your story isn’t ready today doesn’t it mean it won’t be ready tomorrow. Don’t rush. Write the best story you can. Be open to critiques, and rewrite with an objective.

When you self-publish there is no one you can hide behind. Good or bad, you get what you put out. Publish with that in mind.

I hope you’ll follow along with the rest of the Indie Roadshow as I share the things I learned on my road to self-publishing.
The Devil To Pay is available at Amazon and Smashwords for only $2.99. It is the first book of the series, Second Chances.
Synopsis: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and bad tequila. Shannon McKee finds herself at the end of her rope, and she bargains her soul in a fit of despair.

Shannon’s plea is answered immediately by two men who couldn’t be more different from one another. Yet they share a bond and an affection for the stubborn Miss McKee that even they don’t understand.

When Heaven and Hell demand their payment, Shannon has no choice but to submit. No matter who gets her soul, she’s not getting out of this alive.
Bio: Maria Zannini used to save the world from bad advertising, but now she spends her time wrangling chickens, and fighting for a piece of the bed against dogs of epic proportions. Occasionally, she writes novels. 
Follow me on Facebook or my blog.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How do you do it?

After I rewrote WiP4 to pen and paper, I decided to spend an unexpected couple of hours writing it. And I wrote... half an A5 page.

At first I thought it was because I didn't have an Internet connection. That I suffered from withdrawals.

But while I can't rule out the possibility, I think there's something else at fault.

When I first decided to start on this story, I'd been revising for about two weeks. Now I've been revising for about two months. Almost non-stop.

So it's a very real possibility that my internal editor is so active (for very good reason) that the creativity of drafting takes a back seat.

And that makes me wonder. I'm surely not the only person trying to write and edit at the same time. But at the same time, I have no idea how I'm supposed to do both.

I mean, I've never gotten as far as edits before. But I know that some of my bloggy friends have. So now I ask:

How do you kick-start creativity after spending time on edits?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Going old-school

Unfortunately, today went a little bonkers on me, with my return to university. So now will only be a short post.

Since spending more time on reading, on thinking about writing a bit more, things are looking up. Today I transferred my fourth WiP (Doorways being WiP1) to a notebook so that I can draft by hand. It's a system that definitely works for me. And Mr. King gave another piece of advice that I think is very valid.

Draft with your door closed.

To me that makes sense even though I don't have my own writing space (yet). As writers, we have to spend our first days with our ideas alone. Without outside influences affecting what we write. Or... distracting us.

I generally use earphones to drown out the distracting sounds, but I don't stay off of the Internet. And now that I think about it, that might not be the best thing ever.

So I'm going old tech. No Internet crouching in my note book. Just ink in my pen.

Of course, it also has the additional benefit of giving me a break from my internal editor... 

Any other long-handers out there? Why or why not? What is your favorite drafting medium/program?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sir Poops-A-Lot and Hair Ball: The Goddess of Inspiration Within

Hi all! Today I have the honor of introducing you all to two very special pets, belonging to Shelly Arkon, a very special writer.

Sir Poops-A-Lot
and Hairball.

They're a regular feature on Shelly's blog, so go check them out at home. ;-) OK guys! Take it away...

Sir Poops-A-Lot and Hair Ball: The Goddess of Inspiration Within

SPAL: (Talking to himself) I wanted to thank the nice lady, Misha, for inviting my little brother, Hair Ball and me to guest post on her blog today. Mummsy would’ve of done it but she’s more than knee deep in edits and rewrites.
HB: (Comes running into the kitchen) What? I heard my name.
SPAL: (Looks up from the keyboards) I’m writing our post, stupid.
HB: What about? You being a pansy.
SPAL: No. About mummsy’s muse.
HB: What’s that?
SPAL: Well, in the Webster Dictionary it says (He fingers through the book) One of the nine sister goddesses of the Greeks and Romans presiding over the arts, poetic inspirations, a fit of abstraction.
HB: What’s all those big words suppose to mean?
SPAL: It means, stupid, I’m the ninth sister reincarnated. When mummsy wrote her first chapter I was there. Whenever I’m around she writes.
HB: She writes when I’m around, too. She even play acts her scenes out with me. I don’t see her do that with you.
SPAL: (He raises his nose in the air) Well, mummsy and I share a special bond together like me and the goddess of poetic inspiration. We don’t need to play act anything. All I have to do is be around doing what I do best.
HB: What’s that? Being a pansy?
SPAL: My thoughts are mummsy’s. All I have to do is breathe in her direction and they whisper into her head.
HB: Nah-uh.
SPAL: Uh-huh.
HB: That explains why you’re a pansy then. You’re really a girl covered in all that fur.

OK then, darlings. I'll take it from here. ;-)
I have a grey cat that also stares at me over the computer. Maybe she thinks she's my muse. Maybe she's practicing her jedi mind-control. Never can be sure. Anyone have pet writing companions?
Have a great weekend!
Thanks for letting your pets visit, Shelly.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stephen King Taught Me (Part 2)

So, Tuesday's Headline lied a little. That wasn't lesson one. This post was lesson one. I just didn't want to mix this lesson with the lengthy introduction I felt obliged to add.

So what is this lesson?

"You must not come lightly to the blank page." (On Writing, P80)

That is the single line that stood out the most in the whole book.

I don't know about you, but when I get a new idea, I get excited. Really excited. Buzzing. I can't wait to start writing. And when I write, it rushes through me like the best thrill you can think of.

But then, as insidious as venom, my one big enemy sets in. Addiction. I get addicted to my writing. That's not a bad thing. It's good to be passionate about what we write.

But when you're addicted, there are two problems:

1) I start feeling like I have to write. No longer am I feeling that drive of passion.
2) And because of that, I no longer feel the rush.

I take writing for granted. It becomes something that I do out of routine.

In short, I come to my writing lightly. Very lightly.

No wonder the spark fades out on me every now and then.

And whenever that happens, I stop writing. Go cold turkey on the addiction (usually with the accompanying bad mood).

Once I go back to it, I fall in love with writing again. I feel that all rush.  And...

I go through the cycle again.

Fact is, I don't really feel like it's the most productive method for me to finish works in progress. So I decided that from tomorrow, I'm going to try something new. I'm going to start reminding myself why I write. I don't want to write out of habit.

I want to write because it's one of my greatest passions.

Do you approach your writing lightly on occasion? If not, how do you get yourself in the right feeling?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blog Swap: Keeping Track of Plot Twists

Hi all! I'm doing what I call a blog swap today. I'm posting on DUO Says... on the topic of Keeping Track of Plot Twists. DUO is posting on the same topic on my blog. So today you get to read two different perspectives on the same thing. I must say that it was a lot of fun to see how different our posts were, so I definitely would love to do it again. If you're interested, please let me know. ^_^ Take it away, DUO!

Avoiding Losing Track of Plot Twists
Compelling characters, complex plot twists, unexpected situations. Everyone loves them. So what happens if you're writing a novel and get so into developing one plot thread that you forget the others? Or worse, neglect to link it back to the message or theme of your main story?

Plot twists can add great new dimensions to a story. Whether they've been pre-planned or have sprung up unexpectedly while writing, they add roundness and authenticity to a character or story sequence 

The challenge is for each plot twist to be realistic and move the story forward. If they’re random thoughts which don’t achieve this then they can be detrimental rather than beneficial. 

If done well, plot twists can also give the writer the opportunity to develop another novel altogether with characters that readers have gotten to know. This is what turns one novel into a potential trilogy, quartet, or long-running series. 

So is there a possibility to redeeming a novel if you've run off the boil and forgotten an essential twist? You’ve started it but not finished it? Left the character hanging with no satisfactory concluding? Absolutely. Everything can be rectified. As long as the novel hasn't hit the line for its production run and is still on your laptop there's no problem. 

However, being a firm believer that prevention is better than a cure, here are some tips that help me navigate the plot twist road before incorporating any into my story.

1. Keep a log of each new plot twist that springs up.

2. Make a note of which characters the plot twist will mostly affect and why.

3. Is the plot twist realistic? Will it add depth to the story? 

4. Make a note if any of the plot twists could develop a whole new story of its own.

5. If yes to number 4, will it be a strong enough premise for a new book.

Thanks so much for swapping blogs with me, DUO! It was fun. If anyone else wants to swap blogs with me for a day, please feel free to contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

How do you keep track of plot changes and twists? Do you keep track of them?



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lesson One from Stephen King

I've finally done it. I have managed to get my grubby little paws on On Writing by Stephen King. Been looking for it since forever, but just didn't seem to find a copy.

But a few weeks ago, I meandered through the library shelves and there it was along with five (I think) other books on writing.

Sadly, revisions (and headaches) being as they were, I didn't start  reading immediately. But last week my revisions ground to a halt and even though I did revise yesterday, something didn't feel right. It felt as if for every spot that my internal editor pointed out, my inner critic was listing my writing weaknesses.

And fighting my inner crittic is best done away from my WiP, because the collateral damage can be significant.

So I dug through my bag, thinking that I'll keep Mr. King for last. But then I thought... what the hell, I only have a little reading time. Might as well start in on the one I've been wanting to read.

Man am I glad. It blew me away. I'm not completely done, but I'm planning to finish it by this evening. I'm thinking that I want to spend one or two (or more) posts on sharing what I've learned. I hope that's alright with you all.

The second thing (I'll deal with the first on Thursday) that stood out above everything else was Mr. King's emphasis on the need to read.

As I read that, I realized that I've actually been neglecting a vital facet to my writing. I have to read. Even if revisions and writing suck me in. Because if I don't, I'm basically blunting my writing tools.

Bad books teach me the lessons. How NOT to do things. Good books give me something to aspire to. They show me the lengths that writing can go if given the scope to do so. If I don't read either of the above sorts of books, I'm going to miss out on some vital information.

If I don't read often, I'm basically making myself write blind. So doing, I'm robbing my muse of oxygen.

All in all, not a smart thing. Because my muse is usually the one that beats up my inner critic.

Lesson learnt, Mr. King.

I won't be able to do six to eight hours a day, but I'll be able to manage two to four. Already better than two to four hours a week.

Anyone else who read On Writing? Which lessons stood out to you?

How many hours do you spend reading?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Any topic suggestions?

Hello all! Once again, this post will be one where I ask you for your excellent ideas and suggestions.

In my attempts to reach out for a bit wider audience, I've offered to do let other people write posts here.  And while my topic ideas aren't all that bad, they feel a lot like topics that I've covered more than once before.

I was hemming and hawing about this over the weekend when I got a clever idea.

I'll ask you ladies and gents.

The way I see it, the best way to deliver the goods to my readers would be to ask my readers which goods they'd like to see.

So... now I'd love to hear from you:

What writing/editing/revision/literary world topics would you like for me to cover?

I'd love to hear from you. :-)

Friday, July 15, 2011


Hi all! Please welcome Alana to My First Book. She explains her blog, Writercize much better than I can, so I'm going to leave it to her. All I'm going to say is that it's a great stop when you want some inspiration.

I have a confession to make.  This is my virgin guest blog post and I'm feeling a little nervous about writing it.  Call it blogfright, I suppose.  Strange, right?  I log in four days a week to post to my own blog; I leave comments on other blogs; I am a freelance writer always happy to see my byline, and yet writing a spot on someone else's blog, their baby, is a little, well, unnerving.

So, that said, I'll stick to my style and technique and hope that all of you Misha fans enjoy!  And participate(!), because you'll be asked to answer a question in the end.  

First, a little background.  I author a blog called writercize, a portmanteau of the words write and exercise ... with a spelling twist.  It's basically a place for writers, teachers, students and people of all sort to practice their writing.  The slogan, if you will, reads: "exercises to inspire word play, hone the craft of the written word and bulldoze writer's block for authors, bloggers, poets, freelancers, teachers, students, dreamers and writers of all kind."

I write a mix of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and word play, so while thinking of what to focus on for this guest post, I wanted to nail down a topic that all writers can relate to.  That, I have decided, is people-watching.  Don't cringe - you know you do it too!

Any writer worth their chops loves to observe people and draw conclusions based on how they are dressed or body language, maybe even listen in on snippets of conversation at Starbucks.  For a writer to compose a story, be it fiction or non-fiction, s/he must first understand human nature and interaction, for it is only with relatable characters that an audience will care, and only by engaging that audience's interest that they will come back to read more.  What better way to create a character than to watch someone in real life and create their backstory?  

I find quirky or secretive types the most appealing.  I have to admit I'm also drawn to first dates; I find myself completely unable to turn down my close-range hearing when seated nearby a first date couple at a restaurant.  There's so much at play - yearning, embarrassment, bravado, curiosity, fear, wonder, discomfort - it's rare to find that same emotional combination in normal day-to-day life.  

When you see someone who piques your interest, imagine yourself interviewing the subject, but not the type of interview Us Weekly might write up.  Imagine interviewing the subject as an intimate friend or a paid psychiatrist, someone who is allowed access to the inner-most thoughts, desires and pains that person may have.

So, I will challenge you with a backstory writercize.  Here's how writercize works - take a minute, or take five, to test out the writing exercise below, then share as a comment if you feel comfortable.  This is a no judgment thing; it's not meant to be the next award-winning short story (though Kudos if you make it into one!) - it's just meant to loosen your mind and get your fingers tap-tap-tapping away at the keyboard.  Here we go.

writing exercise:  It is 2 p.m.  A purposefully dressed but not entirely stylish woman walks briskly out of a hotel, glances at her watch and hails a taxi.  Just as the taxi driver pulls over to pick her up, her phone rings, one of those quick beeping rings, nothing fancy.  The woman reaches into her purse to answer, listens for a moment, drops the phone as her face turns white as a sheet, and waves the taxi along.  What is the story?

On my blog, I always leave a "writercizer sample response," so I'll do the same here.  If you want to play along without reading a sample, please scroll along quickly to the comment section now so that your thoughts aren't spoiled by my take.

sample response:  When Monica walked into her bedroom that fateful morning seven months ago, she was shocked to find her husband in bed with someone else.  She was even more shocked to see that it was another man.  

Monica had been working the night shift at the hospital, where she was known to most as Nurse Mon.  She was supposed to work another hour or two, but she was getting older and the all-nighters were starting to wear on her, so when the morning came and the patients were just barely trickling in, she asked to head home for a bit of shut-eye.  All she had wanted was a little sleep, alone, in her bed.  Her husband should have been on his way to work, but instead, here he was, in the bed she wanted to sleep in, not sleeping, with this man.

Never one for infidelity, but generally one for manners and an open mind, Monica walked over to the bed she had shared with her husband going on 30 years, introduced herself to his lover, shook the stranger's hand, turned to her husband and said with nary a stumble, "Well, you might have just told me that we were finished.  This is hardly the way to tell me, you know.  I'll, umm, I'll just be leaving now I suppose."

She had then gathered her belongings and walked out the door.  After spending a few nights in empty hospital beds at work, one of the other nurses, whose husband managed a hotel nearby, told her that he was willing to put her up in the hotel for a good price, about the same as rent on a one bedroom, at least until she got herself together.  She wouldn't have maid or room service, but she'd have a furnished room with a mini-fridge and all the utilities covered, and she would be just a few blocks from her work.  She'd been living there ever since.

Today was the day that she would head to the courthouse, sign the divorce papers, get a settlement, and begin to move forward with life, maybe buy herself a little home.  Not too big; she wouldn't want to feel lonely by herself; she'd never slept alone in a building before after all.  At home she had her husband, then she was in the hospital where there were always patients and nurses and doctors and the hotel with other guests and hotel staff.  There were always people around and she took comfort in that.  She knew from working in a hospital that if disaster strikes, your chance of survival increases if there are people nearby to get you help quickly.

She checked her watch to be sure she was on time, hailed the cab and prepared to step in and face the crux of her past and her future, no more of this limbo business.  Just get this divorce over and done.  The phone rang.  It was the hospital and she answered.

"Monica, your husband, he's here.  Heart attack when his lawyer picked him up to drive to the courthouse.  Might not pull through.  We're going to do all that we can, but he just keeps mumbling that his heart can't keep beating knowing that he's lost you.  You've got to get down her now.  He needs you.  I know you're not on the best of terms right now, but it's life or death.  Come."

Prepared to lose her husband to divorce, Monica had not considered losing him to death, and she was shaken to her core.  Her phone smashed to the ground.  She could hardly see the question in the taxi driver's eyes as she realized he was still waiting for her, so she waved him along and tried to build up the courage to turn around and walk the four blocks from the hotel to the hospital.  As she walked, the seven months of betrayal and anger and confusion floated away and she could only think of holding his hand, stroking his forehead and promising him that things were going to be alright.

Thanks, Alana, for this interesting take on GPF! Now, ladies and gents, I have exactly three slots open. So if you still want to do a GPF post in this year, I suggest you contact me ASAP. My e-mail address is mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

I can't wait to see what you guys come up with from the prompt. ^_^ I'm leaving mine too. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Letting go of a goal so that I can go after a dream

A few days ago, I craved solitude. It would fade a little as I spent time in front of the computer, but it would come back with a vengeance until I decided yesterday to just stay offline for a day. I did nothing except knitting and watching T.V. in complete solitude. Did that help?

Well, yes, because it didn't make the craving go away. It made me realize that solitude wasn't what I'm craving. What I was craving, was change.

As much as I enjoy revisions and singing and drama, if that (and work) is all I ever do, I'll go stir crazy. Well... more so than usual.

Once I realized that this was where my mind was at (my mind has a way of hiding these things), I started wondering what I could do to change this situation. Because heaven knows, it's stopping me from getting anything else done.

As it happens, I'm not the only one feeling this way - my friend Theresa felt the same. We chatted about it and I mentioned that I would love to start a Fashion Label.

The moment it did, the name for said label sparked in my head.

So now I know why my mind wouldn't even look at my WiP.

But yeah... starting a label will take some serious ass time. More than I even want to go into it in this post. And if I'm going to make the commitment to this, I'm going to have to cut back on my revisions.

Which means that my 31 July goal is impossible. So rather than run around like a headless chicken, getting nothing done, I'm just going to extend the goal in such a way that neither my revisions nor my Label will get in the way of my degree...

Here's to my new venture. May it be a smashing success.

Anyone else starting something new?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Where do you get your ideas?

Cher Green, intrigued by the written word, has made it a life goal to bring her stories to life and share them with others. Cher writes in many genres, spanning from horror to romance. Her work has appeared in such magazines as, “Untied Shoelaces of the Mind,” and “Spinetinglers.” For more information on this author, visit:

Where do you get your ideas?

First, I’d like to thank Misha for inviting me to her blog. I’m delighted to be here. I’d like to talk about ideas and where they come from.

One of the most common questions asked of a writer is, “Where do you get your ideas?” The answers may vary from “Life” to “Dreams.” I’m sure every writer has his/her own answer to this, and it is sure to vary depending on the story.

My favorite answer to this question is ‘My Muse’. I get some strange looks with this response, but I’m sure you writers know what I’m referring to. She’s a touchy creature, expecting daily attention. Ignore her for a day, and she may disappear for a week.

I like to think of an idea as a seed. The seed may come from life, dreams, prompts, images, etc. After you plant this seed, the rest is done with sprinkles of imagination dust. The more you nurture it, the larger and healthier the creation will grow.

With my debut novella, Escape to Love, it all began with a free-writing session which centered on a woman, a portal, and an unseen man. It took a few days for the seed to sprout but when it did my main characters, Constance Spenser and Lawrence Wilder, came to life, and the main conflict became more than just a portal.

Roots, branches, and leaves grew, producing a tale of a woman searching for happiness, and a man determined to escape the clutches of his life. New characters appeared along the road of creation, the stakes grew deadly, and conflicts blossomed.

The creating of a story, for me, is very similar to growing a flower from a seed. The joy of watching it grow and produce buds is a wonderful feeling. Having others enjoy the sight is absolutely amazing.

Where do you get your ideas?

To learn more about my debut novella, Escape to Love, and read an excerpt from the book, visit my website. To purchase a copy, visit eTreasures Publishing. Take a stroll with me as I move along in my writing journey at my blog, Footsteps of a Writer. Hope to see you there.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Cher, all the best with your new book! So ladies and gents, if you want more information or to check out Escape to Love, here are some links:

My blog

Monday, July 11, 2011


Today is just one of those days.

Where no matter what I do, what I eat, I feel... I don't know.

And I don't know why.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, spent soaking up the rare winter rays and visiting some of the most beautiful places in the region.

One would think that my writer's soul is singing with glee. But no. Instead, I have this weight on my chest that I can't define. Something like a combination of frustration and an intense desire to be alone.

Not just alone. Completely alone. That alone I get when I'm sitting at a restaurant without company. Or when I'm the only person in an entire movie theatre.

That alone.

Not lonely. Just... In my own space.

I feel bad when I feel like this, because I already push my family out when I'm writing with my earphones firmly on.

But all that does is make me even more aware of the fact that I'm with people.

And as bad as it makes me feel, I'm being stifled.

Slowly but surely. Because I know that if I were to mention the fact that I need to go somewhere to be alone, it will trigger arguments, wounds and recrimminations that only get to me more.

Maybe I should just wait for it to pass.

How do you deal when unexpected feelings press up against you?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Just Starting Out Again

Hi all! Today, I want to introduce you to one of my bestest best friends in the whole wide world: Theresa Jankowitz. We met at University and over the years, I've managed to pull her over to the dark side. Some of you might already have met her when we traded character interviews a couple of weeks back. Anyway, she's still new to the blogging world, so I really hope that you ladies and gents will go over and give her a lot of love.


Just Starting Out Again

The most difficult part of writing anything is not starting writing.  It is getting past starting.  I can’t tell you how many stories I have started writing.  I always get an amazing idea for a story and start writing with gusto. But after the first three paragraphs the brand new writing engine develops a little purr.  By paragraph five the purr has turned into a growl.  Paragraph 8, a roar.  By the time I reach paragraph ten my writing engine blows up in a spectacular show of irritation and loss of enthusiasm.

This time round I have finished a whole chapter.  So far.  The surprising thing is that I’m still going.  My engine sounds the same as when it came fresh of the assembly line.  It is a new model, too.  One with all kinds of shiny bells and whistles.  What is so different this time?

This time I began with the end in mind.  Incidentally, this is one of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  A good read, by the way.  Back to the point.  When I started writing my newest WiP, I knew where I wanted the story to end.  I didn’t even know much.  I knew only one scene.  That is enough to keep me going for now.

I am a plotter.  I never wanted to believe it.  I was proud of my pantsing.  I liked going with the flow and do what I felt like.  Only it didn’t work.  Along with knowing where I wanted to end, I realised that I need to know how I am going to get there.  That was a big surprise for someone who likes to think that I have figured myself out.  Big surprise.

I now plot and plan, and plan and plot.  I think about where I am going and why.  It helps.  I actually have a plan in mind for three whole chapters.  It is more than I can say of any of my discarded Works In Progress.

My point?  Don’t take yourself and your style of writing too seriously.  It will probably change spectacularly along the way.

What about you?  Did your style change somewhere along the way?

Thanks so much, Theresa!
There are still a few GPF slots open for the rest of the year, but they're going fast, now. So if you still want one, don't wait until you have a topic. Book now! My e-mail address is mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Goal Change!

So... I realized something that will completely throw any semblance of seeking balance out the window.

I forgot to mention this earlier, but as of the end of July, I will be finishing my degree once and for all. And that means studying. LOTS of it.

It means that I will start spending a lot of time on summaries and concentrating on economics. From the very beginning. In other words: At the end of July.

Which means that I won't be able to revise all the way into August. On the contrary. I'm going to have revise 300 pages and do two editing rounds in three weeks. Because I am not letting anything compete for my attention while I'm studying. (At least it's on font 14 for now, so not quite as bad as it sounds.)

So... If I'm not on as regularly as before, or if I'm slow to respond, or rare on the blogs, please think of me, because I'll be up all the way to my neck in edits and revisions.

Why then, you might wonder, am I in such a hurry? Well... I won't be able to edit for three and a half months. Which means that I'll be able to give my crit partners more than enough time to crit my story. When I'm done with exams in November, I'll be throwing myself into rounds 3-6. Hopefully I'll be in 7-10 half way through December. And 10 to 15/16 at the end of January.
Then I'll decide what I'll do with the completed result. Will I query? Will I look for publishers? Will I e-publish? I'll see. By then, the market might be calm enough for me to see what is the best option.

In the mean time, I have a crap load of work to do.

Have any of you ever attempted to get through revisions as fast as I will be? How did it go? Am I completely insane to even think it's possible?

Monday, July 4, 2011

What I've learned from The Last Airbender

First of all! Happy 4th of July to my U.S. friends! Hope you're having a great day.

Then, I also want to thank everyone who jumped to book Fridays. You ladies and gents are awesome.

So yesterday I (finally?) got around to watching M. Night Shayamalan's The Last Airbender.
(Incidentally, he also wrote the script, but I don't refer to him by name after this.)

And... as cool as the effects looked, I HATED it. Not a little.

A lot.

I mean... this movie had some serious potential for epicness. Huge scope. Many personalities... etc. etc. and somehow... it sucked.

Not a little.

A lot.


I got stuck on the outside of the story. I mean, when someone dies in a story and I don't care, that generally means that the writer has lost the plot.

But that got me to thinking. Why? What got me stuck outside? I mean, I did like the characters, even though I didn't really get close to them. 

I think that was the first problem. If I don't have a bond with the characters, I'm not really going to be drawn into the story.

But the story itself had a problem. It lacked focus. A lot happened in that movie. That in itself wouldn't be a problem to me. After all, I have a lot happening in my story too. I can't even see that the events in the movie didn't have a reason. (Because that would have been way too annoying.)

No. My problem is that things are dropped all over the place and I'm scratching my head as to why they're happening. Not from the character view (that's obvious) but from a writer's view.

And THAT was my problem. The events were dropped into the plot with zero blending. I.e. things happened with very little reference or thought to it later - until it was needed to push the story forward again.

Now, this (in my opinion) could have been done right in two ways:
1) The events take on such a small space that the viewer hardly notices it there until something happens as a result. This gives a viewer that awesome "AHA!" moment.
2) The events have to be mixed in with others, so that the introduction feels organic and so that the thought of that event remains in the viewer's mind.  

What you don't do is cut from scene to scene (event to event), insert narration in the bits considered unimportant (i.e. the bits not containing the events mentioned above) and then come out at an end that no one cares about because not enough time was spent on making everything count.

While we're at the narration point: TELLING me that one of the main characters cares for a new character does NOT make me care for the character too. So... that pretty much failed the ending.  

So basically, the scenes of The Last Airbender act like having clues in a mystery highlighted to say: "THIS IS A CLUE. REMEMBER FOR LATER."

Not a good way to write a story, Movie or Book.

Still, I might watch the movie again, because this has some good case study pointers on how not to write duel storyline plots.

Have you watched The Last Airbender?

What did you think about it? What movies have given you some pointers on how (not) to write?