Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Others have said: Writing takes passion.

Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. 

Rainer Maria Rilke

There are few things that I consider to be rules in writing. As far as I can see, any method goes, as long as one gets the work written. And that's why I consider this to be a rule, because without it, I don't think someone can finish a project.

My rule: One must have passion for writing.

I'm sure that a lot of non-writers will look at the rule and think that I'm stupid. After all, anyone can write anything down. At any moment. That's probably why so few people understand the challenges involved in writing a story. So many people write (correspondence, statements, reports etc.) that they think that all writing is as easy. It isn't.

On the contrary, it's damnably hard more often than not. And NOTHING prepares you for the challenges of writing a novel, except for writing a novel. Because, while most people write more than 50k words in e-mails etc. in (say) a few months, it isn't meant to be read as a single understandable story. There's no need to develop a thrilling plot, there's no need to create and get to know characters. There's no need to stick with the exact same story for as long as it takes to finish it.

Writing is full of challenges, rejections and other obstacles. It takes sacrifice. Especially of time. Writing isn't something to do in a few weeks without noticing. It's something that needs to be prioritized.

So many people say that they want to write but don't have time... Well, I can safely say that none of us writers have time. We make it. We put writing way up there on our lists of priorities, with family, God and breathing.

If it wasn't for that commitment, no story would ever be finished.

Anyone disagree with me? Why or why not? How high is writing on your list of priorities? Do you find that a shift or writing up or down your priority list influences your writing?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Julie Flanders: My Beginning as a Writer

Hi all! Today I welcome Julie to MFB. Julie is a writer of one of the earliest blogs I've followed. From the first time I went there, I loved her blog (and her) for her passion both for writing and for animals.

Take it away, Julie.  

My PhotoThanks so much, Misha, for hosting me today. I was attracted to the theme of beginnings as I am a new writer myself, and I hope that sharing my own “beginning” may be an inspiration to others who find themselves in similar situations.

My writing beginning came about at an age when many people are getting serious about planning for retirement. I'd never worried much about age before, but that changed when I turned 40. At a time when society says we are supposed to be happily settled and basking in the rewards of middle-age, I found myself feeling lost and unfulfilled, and wondering what on earth I could do to change what looked like a dull and uninspiring future.

 I felt like I'd hit a low point, and I made the decision that I was going to make changes. I had no idea what those changes were going to be but, somehow, just making the decision felt like a step in the right direction.

I started reading all kinds of self-help books, but I quickly realized that I was simply reading as a means of putting off actually doing something. The reading was easy. The doing was the scary part.

Finally, I sat down and thought about what it was that I enjoyed doing. The answer came easily. From the time I was in school, the one thing I had always felt confident about, and had brought me pleasure, was writing. Whether writing papers for classes, writing letters, or writing academic articles as a librarian, I enjoyed all of it. In addition, since childhood I had loved constructing stories in my head about characters I saw on tv or read about in books. I never wrote them down; as I thought writing stories was something creative people did. And I wasn't creative.

If there was one skill I had mastered in life, it was saying “I can't,” or “I'm not.” Now that I had reached this low point, I thought I had nothing to lose by trying “I can” and “I am” on for size. If nothing else, I resolved to say “I'll try.”

My opportunity to put my words into action came about in a completely unexpected way. I discovered a show called Dog Town, which was about dogs at Best Friends, an animal sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. I fell in love with the place, and looked up their website. To my surprise, I found a listing for volunteer writers for their site. On a whim, I submitted an application.

Before too long, I had my first assignment, and wrote about people in Florida who had come to the aid of starving and neglected cats. I was so nervous when I submitted my article that I was afraid to open the response from the editor. But I had no reason to be afraid, as the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive.

I felt buoyed in a way I never had while doing my “real” work. I wrote more articles, and continued to get wonderful feedback from both editors and readers alike. In addition, I was thrilled to be contributing to a cause I cared about, and helping both people I admired and animals I loved.

Suddenly, being a writer didn't seem like something I couldn't do any more. I went from “I'll try” to “What if?” What if I branched out and wrote for other outlets? What if I could actually get paid for doing this?

“What if?” became “I will,” and that was my beginning. Now nearly two years later, I feel like I've finally found the passion and sense of fulfillment I'd been missing for so long. And even though I still have a long way to go to be able to support myself with writing, the small amount of money I have made has been worth its weight in gold. What's more, the personal rewards have enriched my life in a way no amount of money ever could.

So my advice to would-be writers is simple. Begin. No matter your age or experience, there’s never a wrong time to get started. It may seem frightening, but take that first step. Volunteer, write a blog, or sit down and start that novel you’ve always wanted to write.

The step you take is up to you. The important thing is to begin.

Thanks so much for this inspiring post, Julie. What about you ladies and gents? When did you start writing?

Also, I need a hero/heroine to please step up to the plate. On 10 February, there is no one to do a GPF post. *gasp* It's a terrible thing, because then everyone will be subjected to my ramblings on a Friday! Surely no one want that!

So please please please (with awesomesauce on top) contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com and let me know that you'll do a post for me.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oh look! An interruption!

Today was one of those days. You know, where you start with the best of intentions to be productive, only to end up... well... not.

I even woke up an hour early today, but I swear there were time-gremlins in the house.

Of course, I did get other stuff done, like cleaning house, editing a business plan and checking up on financials. The last two were the main time-sucks, but hey, variety is good.

Today I got to give my left brain a stretch... or something like that.

In the mean time, I managed to do a bit of editing to Part 4 and send Part 3 off to a second round of crits. So all things considered, I didn't do too badly edit-wise. On the other hand, it's a crawl compared to what I'm used to.

BUT! I decided to cut down on my computer/editing time, as last week I clocked about 13-16 hour editing days. Which is sort of ridiculous, when one considers that I have more than five months left to finish Doorways. Point is, it isn't healthy.

Maybe today is a good cue for me to kick back a little and finish Persuasion. Yes, I am only on my second Jane Austen book. Yes. Still. What can I say? My characters called open season on regency period ladies and gents... ;-P

What do you do to chill out when your editing/writing revs go into the red?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Key-Word Cavalry: Help writing my first book.

So... when I saw that phrase among my key phrases, I was stumped.

Where would I begin to explain how to finish someone's first book? After all, everyone's writing method is a little different.

But I will not be scared off by this. No. I'm made out of sterner stuff.

The first bit of advice I can give you is this:

Get THIS muse.
Failing that, the best thing I can tell you to do is something that you might really get tired of hearing:

Keep writing.

If your story sucks and you find it isn't worth your time, leave it alone and start something else. But don't do that forever. At some point, something will be worth your time and when the going gets tough, you have to keep going.

All the way.

For as long as it takes.

Then... I strongly suggest that you play around until you find a method that works for you. Feel like plotting kills your story's soul, try pantsing. Think that waiting for your muse sucks, try enticing her/him with cookies. Whatever works. As long as you write. Except in limited circumstances, procrastination is never a good idea.

But if you block, and writing through it doesn't work, leave your project alone until the doldrums go away. If they don't, go back to your writing desk and write nonsense until they do.

For the love of all that is holy, DON'T write to trends. Trends change before you can publish. And if you're writing without passion, you won't produce anything good enough to change the trends back again.

Finally: Never be afraid to explore an idea, even if you think it's small or stupid. Because that idea might just be the right one that stirs enough passion for you to want to stick through the story.

What does it take for you to finish your story?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why I write YA.

As the badge to the left shows, I've signed up to do S.A. Larsen's Young Adult Teen Tuesday.

Although I won't be doing this every week, Tuesdays will be when I discuss all things YA related. Which of course is a bit like cheating for me, because I mainly write YA.

But then, I've always been a fan of leeway. ;-)

So... there are more than a few things that I'm wondering about YA, so I'll probably get around to it eventually, but for today, I think the Why I Write post is a good idea.

Why do I write YA? It's actually a question that I have asked more than once since I started Doorways. See... when I saw my one main character and he got me considering the idea, I thought I'd write a modern Chronicles of Narnia.

Within a few days though, I realized my mistake. See... the character who inspired me is... well... Not standard hero material. Nor, for that matter, is he standard brooding hottie material.

Oh no, don't get me wrong. He broods. He's hot. He's heroic. When he wants to be. Which is interesting because more often than not, he doesn't give a...

Also... he grew up in a pretty much medieval world. So... eighteen is plenty old to do certain things. Certain things that puts Doorways in a very interesting situation where it's YA, but for older audiences. Doorways itself isn't that bad, but the rest of the series will definitely push limits of what a lot of people consider to be "rules".

But you know what? I decided to be brave and write it anyway. Because it's a damn good story. Even if I say so myself. And the characters are awesome. And they happen to be teenagers.

So, I guess I could post about how I want to influence young minds (uh... optimistic), or how I love the possibilities of coming of age (I do), or how it's an interesting market to be in (don't care). Instead, I'd say I write YA because my biggest story idea is YA. And because my inspiring character holds my mind hostage and only characters with guns and wicked cool super powers survive in my thoughts with him guarding them. Sounds like I'm complaining, but then, there are worse things than having a hot guy cruising around in my imaginary world. Much much worse things.

Do you write YA? Why or why not?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Others have said: Don't sweat it. You can fix it later.

The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the 1st time unlike, say, brain surgery.

Robert Cormier

I've been creating stories since before I could write. At first I play-acted everything, but as I grew older, I started finding ways to put my thoughts onto a piece of paper.

The first time I tried to write something was a movie script that I started aged (about) eleven. By the time I was thirteen, I saw myself as seriously writing. I had started my first novel then.

One would think that I'd have a ton of finished manuscripts collecting dust beneath my bed. Terrible ones. Ones that make me cringe to think of. Ones that I aim at when I kick my shoes off.

But no. In the eight years from starting to write to Doorways, I didn't finish a single manuscript. Not one. Now, this happened for a variety of reasons (that I posted about VERY early along when I started blogging), but as I came to the point of deciding that Doorways was to be the one that I finished, I decided to do some introspection.

What really stopped me from finishing before? Sure, the fact that my mother forgot to ask me before ripping the motherboard out of my writing computer (it happened) or the destroyed stiffy disk that contained the only copy of my draft (yes. stiffy. yes. It happened. After I rewrote the mother board ms), or the fact that I willingly burned a ms and everything connected to it (yes. Did that two years before I started the blog) had something to do with it.

But that wasn't what stopped me. I mean, yes those put some significant delays on my writing. But eight years worth? Really?

The truth was no. The only person that held me back was me. See, although I don't have a thing for rules, I was obsessed with getting everything I wrote up to my standards. Immediately.

So instead of worrying about getting done, I got mired in the early chapters of my WiPs, tinkering with every word I just wrote until it was exactly right.

In other words, I'd taken the soul out of what I'd written before it got a chance to settle into what it's supposed to be.

When I realized what had happened, I'd decided to do a bit of a mind-shift. I didn't have to get everything right immediately. In fact, there's something to be said for working all the way through first before going back to measure what should be changed and what should stay the same.

Which is why I drafted Doorways by hand. If it's written in pen, it can't be change until I'm ready to go back to change it. And that is probably one reason why I got so far with it at all.

I gave Doorways a chance to prove to me that it was worth my time, instead of killing it before it was really born.

So what about you? Do you edit as you write or do you finish your drafts first?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Use these 5 Rock Star Headline Ideas when you begin your Blog

The average reader only gets past the headline of an article or blog post 20% of the time. Mediocre headlines doom a blog to failure, even when coupled with amazing content. However, there are ways to change that! These tips will help you write blog titles that will get people to read your posts. 

The most important thing when it comes to blog headlines is to get the reader’s attention. Titles like these will are interesting, and compel people to find out what important tidbits are included. 

·         9 Best Practices for Bloggers

·         Do More Writing in Less Time

·         Secrets to Making Fistfuls of Cash

·         Instant Fixes for Boring Blog Posts

Can you see how these headlines offer something of value to a blogger, and would compel them to read the post? When people see what’s in it for them (WIIFM) they stop and take notice. Your job then, as a writer, is to tell them why they MUST read your post.


Contradict something that most people believe to be true. Readers will be curious to read the post and find out why you would say something that is the polar opposite of common knowledge.

·         You Do Not Want to Vacation in Florida  

·         Blogging Today: Why Content Writing is Dead

·         Big Banks say that Main Street Caused the Recession

Would you be interested in reading those posts and finding out what they had to say? I sure would.

Bare your soul:

By humanizing yourself with a confession or telling a secret, you make yourself more likable and friendly. Readers will feel they are among friends, and will respond accordingly, with honest feedback and comments. 

·         I have a Confession to Make; Writing does NOT Come Easy to Me

·         Three Things Even Top Bloggers Struggle With

·         Psst! Inside Secrets to Drive Massive Traffic to Your Blog



People discuss everything on social media these days, from how to discipline children to helping their husband with erectile dysfunction. Pay attention to main themes people are talking about, and capitalize on it.

·         Does Self-Publishing make it More Difficult for Writers?

·         What will happen if SOPA or PIPA pass in Washington?

·         Is Blogging and Social Media Participation Optional for Companies Today?


Make a Promise

Letting your readers know that you will answer a tough problem or question for them in your post will draw them in. Leave a little mystery, and keep them guessing.

·         I have Got Some Awesome Ideas…

·         2012 is going to be the Best Year Ever!

·         Why only 10% of Blogs are Successful


Make them Take Sides

Point out differences without taking sides yourself, and just wait for the discussion that ensues.

·         Republican Tax Cuts; Extra Cash for their Bank Accounts or Job Creation Tool?

·         “RoundUp” Posts: Valuable Information for Your Readers, or Lazy Way to Get out of Writing?

·         Traditional vs. Self Publishing: Which Way is Best?


Though this is not an exhaustive list of how to build the best titles, I think it will give you a few ideas of your own. What is the best blog title you ever wrote? How did it affect the number of comments your post got? Did it create any discussion on your blog?


Denise Gabbard is a Writer and Blogger. She writes the blog Write and Get Paid, and is currently completing her book “How to Write and Get Paid.” With a focus on internet and digital media, it will be a comprehensive manual for new and experienced writers.

Thanks so much, Denise! I'm definitely going to use your pointers for my headlines from now on.

I still have many GPF slots open, so please check out this post for details on how to book one.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yes, I am absent.

I'm terrible this week, I know.

But at least this post is here to inform you that I'm not neglecting my blog. I'm only trying not to post nonsense.

Why would I post nonsense, you might ask. Well, because I only slept four hours last night because of the heat. The same heat that is choking my braincells right now.

So, tomorrow I'll be back with another GPF post. See you then! X

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Key-word Cavalry: Writing Quiet Characters

For those of you that missed last week, the last three Wednesdays of every month will be taken up by Key-Word Cavalry, my attempt to answer the writing related key-words that lead people to my blog but that I don't think have received due attention from me.

So today's key-phrase: Writing Quiet Characters.

For all my life, I've had two specific types of characters that I loved most. First would be the bad-ass. The second would be the Quiet One.

Both are awesome for different reasons, but in every movie with a Quiet Character, I've always been intrigued by one. After all. Their silence implies something. Something mysterious. Something awesome. And we want to know.

There's a depth to them, since they're the guys who have to put up with living in their noisier (and often stupider) companion's shadow. Usually the noisy one would fail to function if the Quiet One were to be removed from the equasion.

Makes for some excellent entertainment. So of course, when I started writing Doorways I was excited to know that one of my main characters is a Quiet One.

Little did I know what a pain he could be to write.

See, in the movies, we're  constantly aware of his presence because we see him. Those moments that the camera focuses on him can be some of the most significant ones in the entire film.

In books, the reader can't see him. Not unless they're constantly reminded he's there. Of course, I had the luck that his Noisy One needs and resents his presence at the same time. So if your quiet guy isn't going to be the only main character, or if his noisy friend isn't motivated to stay aware of him, I urge you to find a noisier replacement.

Still, the heart wants what the heart wants, so here are a few things to remember when writing a Quiet Character. (From own experience, so by all means, experiment. I'd love to know how it went.)

1) The character can never be completely quiet. Complete silence does not translate well to writing, unless we get to hear the character's thoughts all the time.
2) There has to be a reason for his being there. Otherwise, the other characters in your cast will have to drag him along through the whole story. And as we all know, we cut the dragging bits out of our writing.
3) Strength. Presence. Conflict. Tension. He can maybe have two of these four characteristics missing. Any more, and we have ourselves a persona non grata. Someone who the readers will skip over when they encounter him. And it's easy. Because he doesn't have all that much to read about.
4) Something's gotta give at some point. We the readers have to see him come into his own at some point. He has to get his voice, his moment.
5) For heaven's sake. Let us see his reactions at some point. Don't have him mutely follow everything he's been told every time. Or let him, but let him be angry if it's something he doesn't want to do. He's quiet, not emotionless or stupid.

Do you have a Quiet One in your story? How do you keep him from vanishing between the furniture?

I close this with the image of my favorite Quiet One. Yes he talks, but only because his subordinates don't understand sign language. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Others have said: Just write.

Don't get it right, just get it written.

James Thurber

If I had a cent for every new writer I find who is overwhelmed by all the "rules" and "prescribed methods" to good writing, I'd be on my way to Tuscany by now.

The Internet is a wonderful place, and the blogosphere a treasure trove of knowledge and advice on writing. I love it. But I was lucky. I had too much of a confidence in my own abilities to be overwhelmed.

Why? Because I've written for about eight years before I decided to take the plunge and start a writing blog. So by the time I started nosing around the blogs, I already knew what worked for me and what didn't. I already knew where my writing needed help.

I knew that if I had conflicting pieces of advice, that I'd be able to pick the one that works best with me and the way that I write.

But note the words: FOR ME.

If everyone writes according to the way that works best for them, is there really a right  way to write?

Short answer: No. The only way to write is your way.

Sure, you can take advice. If it works for you. You can deviate from the "rules", if you're willing to stand firm in the belief that you did the right thing.

Writing isn't about writing to a set form. If it was, every book would be the same. Who'd want that? Especially if it's a book you wouldn't like?

So, while it is excellent to see what options are out there (and I've seen some brilliant suggestions that I never would have thought about), don't sacrifice your own writer's identity in order to implement them.

Forget about being right. Get that story written, by any means possible.

What's your favorite writing "rule" or "best practice" to break?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Guest Post Friday: Madeleine Maddocks

Hi all! Today I welcome Madeleine Maddocks to My First Book as the first GPF guest. Her blog is always one where I stop whenever I need inspiration for poetry and prose, but she also has some other great tips to inspire writers. Thanks so much for being my first brave soul, Madeleine.

My thanks to Misha for letting me post on her blog today.
My subject is very apt for January: Beginning.
For Flash Fiction, Haiku and Blogfests I enjoy the picture and word prompts that blog hosts provide. For me it creates a challenge / a beginning from which my own writing can mature and grow. Having created my blog in Aug 2010 I feel that it has certainly been a great start for allowing me to gain feedback and practice in these different genres.

What creates that initial spark that leads you to put pen to paper?

Is it always the same way each time?
Or do you use different stimuli to find your material?

Thanks again, Madeleine! For those of you who still want to sign up, January's full, but the rest of the year is mostly open. Please see here for details.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Forwards or backwards?

While I waited for feedback on Part 2 of Doorways, I started working ahead to fix whatever looked glaringly obvious, thinking that it would keep me busy until then.

Except I got into my first ever editing zone.

Think I'm kidding?

I started page 91 on 30 December. I finished the last page (550) yesterday. So twelve days to edit over 400 pages.

On one of those days, I edited well over 100 pages, but then had to stop because I made a nasty discovery (but that's a guest post, so I'm not going to go into it now).

So yeah. I'm a little shocked at myself.

But here I am. I don't really want to leave my Doorways universe, since I don't want anything to distract me from the edits.

And yet I really really really want to do something more than put together soundtracks for the sequels (as they drive me insane every time a song gives me a plot insight).

Basically, it leaves me with two options:

I can start with the sequel. Sounds wonderful and intriguing at the same time. But, I do want to trad publish. Which means that I might have to put Doorways through significant revisions before it's truly finished. Those revisions will have an effect on all of the sequels. I know, because that's the way I wrote the ms.

On the other hand, I can actually write a prequel. Something that influences Doorways, but won't necessarily be edited and therefore I can have a blast with it. BUT... the prequel can be extensive. So will I be wasting my time to write it?

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Key-Word Cavalry: Plot twists that everyone loves.

Due to a variety of reasons (and probably because the google gremlins like me), my blog usually shows up very high in most writing-related searches. Some others too, but that's not the point.

Most of the blogging related key-words do have some answers somewhere in the bowls of this blog, but a few of them slip through the cracks. Or they don't get their due attention from me.

Because of that, I'm getting into the habit of checking the key-words every week and see if I can answer the implied questions every Wednesday except for the first one of every month. I might even invite others to join my war on writing ignorance soon, but for today, I'll fight alone.


It's harder when writing.

Plot twists that everyone loves. Now the idea that I get from the phrase is that whoever did this search wants a list that he/she can throw into his/her story at random to get an exciting and lovable manuscript.

Uhm... sadly, my deluded lost one, I have to say that there is no such list. Even if it did, do you really want to chuck in all sorts of popular (and most likely hackneyed) twist into your story?

Don't say yes.

In order to have plot twists that everyone loves, you need to create them in a way that everyone will love.

How are you supposed to do that?

Firstly, by constructing your story well enough to carry the twist without stressing the reader's suspension of disbelief too far. The secret to this is in lying the foundation early on. NOTHING annoys a reader as much as Deus ex Machina (the appearence of a plot solution out of thin air) in any story, so make sure that every twist you write in has its origins in some point earlier on.

Long lost uncles and aunts no longer cut it. Nor does a twist born out of existent roots but insufficient detail. I'm looking at you, Master Crime Writer Who Annoys the Crap Out of Me.

Yes, your main characters are allowed to be super smart or almost invincible (although, where's the fun in that?), but panning away from the character's view point in order to maximize suspense and then have him/her save the day without us being there to see it happen, is a cop-out. 

And no one likes a cop-out. Look out for variations of these words in your manuscript: "It happened like this..." "It was as simple as...", "The villain thought this, but in reality..."

If you really want a plot twist that everyone loves, make sure that there are ample subtle hints that the twist is possible throughout the story (no, I can't stress this enough). Then distract the reader from it so that they don't think about it until it happens. When it comes to a plot twist, the reader reaction you should always strive for is as follows:

1) What?!
2) How?!
3) Oh! I should have seen this coming.

Less than this is acceptable, but mediocre. Less than this will have readers liking/tolerating your twist, but not loving it.

What say you, writing friends? How does one create plot twists that everyone loves?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What I've Learnt from Northanger Abbey

This took me a while longer than Saturday for me to finish Northanger Abbey than expected. See, usually I take about half a day to finish 130 pages.

This took me four days. Why?

Well (and I'm sorry, Miss Austen) I didn't like it.

I managed to get through it by appreciating it like a fine piece of art. Even if I don't like it, I can see the thought that went into it. I know that it the book thirteen years to be published. In fact, it didn't see the light of day until after Jane Austen died. So I saw the story through because of my sympathy for her.

Still, it wasn't the worst book that I ever read. It just wasn't the best, either. In fact, I had trouble pinning it down at all, which of course complicated this post a little, since I'm supposed to be writing what I've learnt from reading it.

Still, there are a few things that I did learn.

1) A good narrative voice can go a long way to compensate for annoying main characters. I'm sorry that I have to say this, but I found Catherine Morland to be much too silly to my tastes. The only reason why I was able to sit through the rest of the story was the narrative voice in the story, which had a wry wit that I enjoyed.
2) Although it's always fun to mock and comment on aspects of your times, building a book around it is a risky thing to do. Northanger Abbey was written to make fun of (in particular) Gothic Novels from the time in which Jane Austen lived. While I enjoyed this aspect to it, the story wasn't all that relevant to me, since we've got new things to mock. Sadly, once the burlesque aspect to the story is disregarded, there isn't much left to enjoy. In fact, most of the rest of it is mostly telling in order to move the story on to the next important lesson.
3) Showing goes a long way. Period. If there was a bit more this, I wouldn't have had to depend on the superficial impression created for me about Catherine that led to me disliking her because I couldn't connect with her on a deeper level.  

So yes, this isn't the most positive post about a classic that I've ever written, but it is what I felt and what I learnt and I don't regret having read Northanger Abbey. Now at least there was one more book to cross off my TBR list.

Have you read Northanger Abbey? What did you think about it?

This post was written as part of Jane Austen January. Next book: Persuasion.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Others have said: Life can suck, but can't defeat us.

Edna Ferber

Life can't ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death - fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant.
Edna Ferber, A Kind of Magic, 1963

I am willing to say this now. Compared to 90% of my life thus far, 2011 sucked. Big time.

This isn't going to be a moaning and groaning sort of post, but suffice it to say that I've been thwarted, frustrated, scared, terrified, down, stuck, set adrift, disappointed, lifted to soaring heights only to be dropped at the worst possible moment.

I've been told I'm too overqualified, underqualified, inexperienced, deluded, irresponsible when I was only being different, wrong.

I've been forced to play the waiting game more times than I even want to count.

In 2011, I was also probably the happiest I've been in years. Because I dug deep and really got to know myself. I know now that I have a reserve of strength that I'd thought had been lost three years ago.

Also, I got to write almost every day that I wanted to. And that helped. Because with every day that I wrote, I could take a step back from my life and see where I was and that, suck as it might, life wasn't big enough to squash me.

I could keep going and because of that, I'm much stronger and (theoretically) more patient. And relaxed, because the added perspective showed me some things about myself that helped me to deal with a lot of nonsense that I've been carrying about for years.

So yes. Life was my lover last year, even if he was a pain in the ass. He taught me a lot. And I can't wait to see where he leads me this year.

How is your life treating you? What did you learn last year?

Friday, January 6, 2012

GPF is back

I've been thinking about this for a while now, but I think GPF was too much fun to let go of after just one measly year.

So, since this is my blog and you'll love me anyway, I'm doing it again. But this year I'm going to do it a bit differently. I'm going to give themes a whirl.

It will work like this: I'm going to list all of my themes by month and if one grabs your fancy, book the date. I think it's going to be a lot of fun to see what you ladies and gents do with the themes.

And here they are:

January: Beginning
February: Relationships
March: How we write
April: A-Z Challenge (Title must correspond with the assigned letter - To Be Announced)
May: Character
June: Querying and Submission
July: Inspired
August: Challenged
September: Self Publishing and Marketing
October: Scares
November: Keeping track

Basic rules of GPF:

1) Potential posters (unless I invite them) MUST follow my blog. GPF is about giving other writer/book bloggers exposure to my readers, but it's not about getting a quick follower fix.
2) I reserve the right to accept or decline the posts.
3) Posters are requested to respond to comments addressed to them. (Not for all time, but for a few days after the post is put up.)
4) Topics must fall in the writing/lit industry category.

I now declare GPF open. I especially need a kind-hearted/brave guest to step up for next Friday. If you are interested in booking a Friday, please contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I am also doing the Dusty Bookshelf Challenge

Another one of my goals for 2012 is for me to read more. While that looks nice when written in my huge list of goals, I realize that I actually have to do something about it. So... what nicer incentive could there be than a reading challenge where I can win more books through the year?

My dusty bookshelf basically consists of three categories:

Books languishing on my virtual bookshelf (in order as they are on my Kindle app):

Persona by Amy Lunderman
Roughing It by Mark Twain
Lust by Mike Wells
Cassastar by Alex J. Cavanaugh (This one I feel really bad about. Started reading it in August, but my Economics got in the way. Now will be a good time for me to get it off my reading shelf on Goodreads.)
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Le Roux
Hollywood Secrets by Emma Halliday
Hollywood Scandals by Emma Halliday
A Razor Wrapped in Silk by R.N. Morris (Another one that's killing me. It was the first book I ever won since I started blogging. In fact, it's the reason why I got a Kindle App for my computer. And I haven't touched it.)
Don't Get Mad, Get Even by J.L. Campbell
In Her Name: Empire by Michael R. Hicks
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
The Devil to Pay by Maria Zannini
Tribute by J.R. Pearse Nelson
Vessel by J.R. Pearse Nelson

Books I borrowed from the library by alphabet (part of last years decision to expand my horizons):

Nightfall by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg
Eve's Daughters by Lynn Austin
The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick
Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell 
Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell
(I did read B. Just kept procrastinating on the others)

Books I've been meaning to read but didn't get around too (this one might get more than a few additions yet):

Feast of the Uninvited by P.G. Du Plessis
Jane Austen
George R.R. Martin

Wow. That's one grungy bookshelf. I better start working on it ASAP. Good thing I have Jane Austen January to knock four books from my list...

Which books do you have moaning at you from your TBR pile?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'm doing Jane Austen January

One of my reading goals for 2012 is reading books by Jane Austen.

I've only read Pride and Prejudice so far and I loved it, but I really want to read at least a few other books.

It was particularly fitting, then, that I found the Jane Austen January blogfest towards the end of December, because it gives me the excuse obligation to read at least four of her books an write about them.

Since I still refuse to do reviews on any of my blogs, I won't do that. Rather I'm going to handle the posts as What I Learnt From... posts, since I enjoyed doing it with Huck Finn.

Those posts will be up on every Saturday in January and if it's a hit, I might consider making it a weekly thing for the rest of the year. We'll see.

Anyway, there's no real sign-up involved, so I'm sure you can still join if you need the excuse incentive to go flirt with Mr. Darcy again...  

Anyone else taking part in JAJ? Any other blogfests that I should know about?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fresh air, fresh ideas.

Today, I was rearing to get going on my chores so that I could get back to my Doorways edits, but as I was driving home, I got a phone call from a friend.

He invited me and my brother to go lobster fishing with him.

Since I've never been on the open ocean before, but really wanted to, I accepted, even if I was a little sad to miss another day's worth of edits.

My regrets soon faded though, when I was on the road, riding on the back of a pickup. Something about the fresh air, the wind through my hair just got my thoughts churning out some interesting things to know about my Doorways world.

Oh those things, the power-structure was the most valuable. It's not something that I have to go into so much in Doorways, but after that, the more I know, the better.

The only mildly annoying thing about all this is the fact that I had to get sea-sick. At least I managed to keep the contents of my stomach in my stomach, but it wasn't a fun experience.

Still, I get the feeling I'll get myself out there again the first opportunity I get. A bit (OK a lot) of queasiness isn't going to scare me away from some awesome inspiration.

Ever find yourself doing something that makes you sick, but that inspires you at the same time?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Others have said: It's OK. You can take a break.

Loafing is the most productive part of a writer's life.
James Norman Hall

Every now and then, I stumble across some published author's quotes about how there is no such thing as writer's block, because real writers sit for hours and write.

I don't agree.

I see myself as a real writer. It's a little hard to miss, when writing takes up such a significant portion of my thoughts. Not to mention my time.

But I get some nasty writer's blocks.

In fact I think my current record is three months of wanting to write but failing to, because the words wouldn't come.

At one time, this really bothered me, because I'm supposed to be a writer.

Until one day I realized that there's a very good reason for my blocks: there's something wrong with the story that my mind registered, but that I didn't pick up. Yes, I know that sounds really weird, but I've seen it time and again.

So what's the best way to combat a block? Some people say that you have to write through it. I'm not saying they're wrong.

But, if you've tried writing through it and only find yourself mired deeper in your block, leave the story alone. Try writing something else. If you find you can't write anything, take a break from it. Do something else.

I prefer to do something creative, but that does not take as much thought. For me that's usually drawing something related to the story with which I'm struggling. If that doesn't work, I try my best to avoid poking at the problem, so that my muse can sort out the problem in peace.

But remember not to be discouraged. Because giving up on it all together lets your mind work on something else rather than on the story.

So yes, while annoying, blocks might just be part of your writing process. In such a case, loafing really can be the most productive thing that you can do.

What about you? Do you find that you have to take a break or else you get stuck?