Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I didn't forget to post...

Hi all. I haven't forgotten to post today. But the huge amounts of singing that I've been doing recently has been leaving me drained. So, because I'll have three more of these singing marathons in the next week, I think I might take a few days off from blogging.

Whether or not I come back to post for the rest of the week, GPF will continue.



Monday, February 27, 2012

Once more. With Feeling.

I've been tagged yet again. Not once. Not twice, but thrice. But because I'm seriously getting karmic brownie points for answering every single question, I'm breaking the rules again. I'm going to ask that you pick one of the questions and answer it in the comments. Easy, right?

1. Where did the inspiration for writing your WIP come from?
For the first time in a very long time, I was rereading a book (actually seven): Chronicles of Narnia. About two or three months before that, I'd physically gone and burnt notes to my previous WiP and wiped the draft off my laptop. So there I was, in a self-imposed exile from writing, waiting for a very VERY good idea what would blow my socks off.

But I digress. I was reading one of the Chronicles (not sure which one any more, although I suspect that it was The Horse and His Boy) and there he was: moody, full of shit, ruthless, dark and... interestingly, charming. But definitely NOT of Narnian breeding (even though I foolishly tried to force him to be something similar once).

The rest was history.

2. Any interesting tales about your muse?

Well, she sort of takes a holiday now, when I write Doorways, Darrion takes over from her and keeps me focused. He also does some really dark and twisted things to my internal editor and internal critic when they speak out of turn.

3. Your muse; fab/frustrating/inbetweener?

Oh... to see what Darrion's like, you'll have to wait for the book to come out. As for the other one, she's a bitch. Always shows up when I can't write and leaves when I can.

4. Why do you write?
Because I go nuts when I don't.

5. If you could enhance one of your senses, which would it be?
Hmm... not sure. Because I sort of have perfect sight, smell (when my sinuses are clear. damn you fruit farmers), hearing (which I'm paranoid about) and taste. So I guess that leaves touch, but that sounds painful.

6. When you are not creating what do you do?
Uh... what do you mean, when I'm not creating? I'm creating even when I'm... not... creating.  

7. Ask yourself a question –now answer it.

Is that a question? ... No. ;-P

8. How long is a piece of string?

This long.

9. What was the last dream you saw?

Not sure, actually. I've been trying to remember all day. I remember it was interesting.

10. In a film about your life, which actor would play you?

Uhm... possibly Kiera Knightly. She could be made to resemble me if we really worked at it.

11. What’s your motto in life and also your work ethics?

Don't give other people too much say in your choices. It's all right to ask for advice, but trust nothing without thought.

1. Someone is holding your book in their arms and are gushing about it to you. What do they say?

"OMG OMG OMG I can't believe I'm talking to my favorite author!!!! *SQUEEEEEEE!!!*"

A girl can dream, right?

2. Which children's/young adult book did you only read and LOVE as an adult?

Does The Hobbit, count?

3. What makes your favorite writer so special? What in their writing do you love?

Don't really have a favorite writer. I have favorite stories. And those are made with complex characters, great plots and fresh voices.

4. Which advice would you have loved to have when you started out writing?

Actually, I'm really lucky to have a published author (my gran) living with me. So I knew what I needed to know when I started. I guess one thing I would have liked to be more aware of would be the amount of commitment a novel takes, but no one can tell you that. You only find that out by writing a full length novel.

5. Where do you go in your daydreams?

Everywhere and nowhere.

6. Where do you love to write?

Very noisy places, or quiet places where I can listen to music without sounds clashing.

7. Did you pick certain actors or tv-personalities for your writing? If so, who?

Only if there's a photo of them with the exact right look and feel.

8. Did you ever write a character who then never left your mind?

Yep. That would be Darrion and company. :-)

9. Pick one fictional character. Describe how it would be to meet them.

D'Artagnan. I'd ask him for swordsmanship tips. ^_^

10. What do you have around your writing space to inspire you?


11. Do you make writing soundtracks? Name the first three songs on it!

Yep. I actually have ten for the Doorways series. One for each of the five main characters and one supporting character. One for each of the four books that I have in mind. So I hope you don't mind if I skip on naming songs.


1. What was your favorite novel growing up?

Hmm... Three Musketeers and Sherlock Holmes tied.

2. Tell me about somewhere you went that was better than you expected it to be, (store, vacation, party, etc)

Whenever I go somewhere or do something without expectations, I'm pleasantly surprised. Like watching Despicable Me.

3. If you could be anyone fictional who would you be and why?

Hmm... this is like that historical personality question that I got the first time. I actually like not being the person in the book. Still, if I could be someone fictional, I'd be Callan from Doorways. I'm thinking Mike knows why.

4. Name a movie that had a serious impact on you.

Ooh there are way too many to count.

5. What made you start a blog, or get a social network page if you don't have a blog?

It's something I've always wanted to do. And one day, after I decided to knuckle down and finish what would become Doorways, I closed my eyes and started blogging to keep myself accountable.

6. Who's the best villain you've ever read or seen?

That's like picking my favorite child. :-/

7. What your favorite creative outlet?

Uhm. Writing?

8. Name one way you deal with stress.


9. Name someone you admire, and why.

My mom and gran.... because they're my mom and gran. ;-)

10. Which is better waffles or pancakes?

Depends on my mood. Last week I had waffles, so now pancakes are better.

Last, but not least....
11. What is your favorite quote?

Sorry. Really don't have one. What about.... no... no that's not the one I remember.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Great Relationships

Hi all! Welcome to another edition of Guest Post Friday. But before we start, I want to beg, plead and ask with awesome sprinkles on top. See in a few weeks, I have no GPF guests. And it would be terrible if that happened. You'd have to read stuff my ME on a Friday. And that would be wrong (unless it's April).

So... please please check out this post on how GPF works and e-mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

OK... Now onwards!

Great Relationships
Great stories have great characters and great characters have great relationships. Now, by great I don't necessarily mean warm and loving relationships (though they may be). I mean dynamic, complex, interesting and fun relationships. Think of some of the great relationships in literature. Here are some I love:

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy
Frodo and Sam
Denethor and Faramir
Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader
Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner

See? Many different types of relationships and all of them great! I love stories with deep and complex relationships. (Okay, Wile E. and Road Runner don't have a complex relationship, but still…)

In any story your characters will likely be interacting with other characters, and therefore will have relationships. Those relationships are worth thinking about. All sorts of things influence our interactions with others. Appearance, first impressions, background, prejudices, shared experiences, cultural expectations… The list could go on. Relationships are rarely static, either. They evolve over time for better or for worse as each person changes and grows.

My best advice for creating great relationships is to first know your characters. Know them well. If they are real people to you, then they will interact with each other in real and interesting ways. If they're just cardboard cutouts and their relationships exist only to push the plot along…well, that's not usually very engaging. Make sure character interactions aren't based strictly on stereotypes, either.

I always say that great characters are the most important part of any story, but if you look a little deeper, you realize that the characters' relationships with each other can take your story from ordinary to something special!

P1020639.JPGAngie Lofthouse has published a dozen sci-fi and fantasy short stories in a variety of print and online magazines. Her debut novel, Defenders of the Covenant, will be available this March. You can read her short fiction and learn more about her novel at her website or visit her blog for more writing advice and other fun posts.

So... which are your favorite relationships in books?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

First Campaigner Challenge

I know I left this a little late, but the prompt had me intrigued, so I decided to write something for the First Campaigner Challenge.

This is the challenge:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count. 
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:
  • end the story with the words: "everything faded." (also included in the word count)
  • include the word "orange" in the story
  • write in the same genre you normally write
  • make your story 200 words exactly!

So, since I hardly ever go for the easy way, I:

  • Started and ended the piece as suggested.
  • included the word orange
  • actually wrote a scene that will be a variation of what happens in Book 3 of the Doorways series.
  • made my piece exactly 200 words long.
Hope you enjoy it!

Shadows crept across the wall, but Ward didn’t move to welcome them or fend them off. How could he, when an infernal fire licked his body? 
“Ward,” Rhiannon whispered as her small weight settled on his mattress. “You need to eat.” 

Eat? No. He wanted to die. 

“Don’t close your eyes, Ward,” the cat-sized dragon commanded, nudging the spot on his cheek that didn’t burn. 

“Leave me alone.” He lifted his hand to push her away, shooting lava through his veins. An agonized scream fled out of him. 

Water rushed through his throat and he choked. He turned his head aside and found Rhiannon with a glass in her mouth. Her big orange eyes blinked slowly, as if she was surprised at his reaction.  

“Sorry,” she mumbled past the obstruction and crept closer. “Drink.”

 Damn it. Why couldn’t she understand?


“Drink!” The glass tipped precariously above him as Rhiannon loomed near. How much would the water scald if it fell on his ravaged face?

 “I’ll drink!” He took a deep breath. “I’ll drink.”

It took every ounce of his willpower to lift his head. Agony coiled out, threatening to choke him. Still he drank.

He drank until everything faded.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Key-Word Cavalry: How Keywords Work

This isn't, strictly speaking, something that came up among the key-words that brought searches to my blog. Instead, one of my better blogging friends, Wendy, asked on the very first Key-Word Cavalry post if I could do a post about the key-words themselves.
So here goes:

Google employs a few thousand Internet gremlins, you see. And every time you write something into the search engine, they send you to the web pages that they best think suit your search.

That's what I used to think. In fact, I still like to think about it that way. Because a lot of what I do just comes naturally.

But, there are supposedly method to the madness, but since I'll cling to the gremlin theory with my dying breath, I thought I'd refer you to someone else's blog post that gives some great tips, much better than I could do it.

25 Reasons Why Google Hates Your Blog

So... what is your theory on how keywords work?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tagged again.

Hey. Over the weekend, I've been tagged a multitude of times. Four, to be exact.

So I will be answering more questions, but I will be breaking a rule and ask that you pick a few questions and answer them. 

So first up are questions from C.M. Brown:

1. How do the stories you write about come into fruition?

I'm not really sure what you mean, but if you're referring to where the stories come from, they differ. My main WiPs, however, both come from characters walking into my head while I was reading.

2. Do you think you are the type of person who plans for every eventuality, or do you prefer to live life how it comes, without any organisation?

I used to plan for every eventuality, but found out the hard day that a too rigid structure can be a bad thing. On the other hand, having no structure at all isn't a good thing either. So, now I set myself goals, but without any set plan as to how to achieve it. Might sound weird, but it's a system that works.

3. What is your favourite song?

Well... it changes, but right now, it's this. Because it reminds me of the Doorways series.

4. Do you sing it loudly to yourself?

Oh yeah. Come on. It's a ballad.

5. Are you still friends with anyone you went to secondary school with?

Yep, with one girl in my A-Level year.

6. What would be your dream job?

Well, performing. Working on it.

7. How often do you speak to your siblings?

Can't avoid the ass. We live together.

8. If you were an animal, what creature would you like to be? Use your imagination.

Uhm... probably a wolf. Which is also the animal I'd probably be if I were an animal.

9. I love eating boiled eggs for breakfast, what is your favourite food?

Does chocolate count?

10. What piece of technology could you not live without?

My computer. I shudder to think what it would have been like to edit without a word processor.

11. Do you have a favourite piece of furniture?

Yes. A Victorian washing table.

Next, it's time to face Jacob Adams's questions. He very sneakily tagged me back, and since I don't run from challenges, here are my answers:

1. What is one author you can't refuse?

Hmm... I actually work according to genre instead of author, so there are few authors that I could resist.

2. Do you listen to music while writing or prefer silence?

Music. Otherwise a restaurant that's so busy that noise and movement fade into the background.

3. To you, what is the hardest thing about writing?

Staying patient when the doldrums come.

4.  What is something that happened in your childhood that influenced your writing today?

Actually, it was more my Gran. She influenced me by telling me that I should write. :-)

5. Movie night: Comedy, Sci-Fi, Romance, or Horror?

Almost anything BUT: no horror. no slapstick. no lame scenarios to throw people together that shouldn't have.

6. What is your biggest pet peeve?

I have two: Arrogance and hypocrisy.

7. Favorite season?

In the summer it's winter, in the winter it's summer. Go figure.

8. What was the first book you simply could not put down?

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

9. If you could time travel (without the ability to influence the past), what time period would you visit?

Oh... any time in European history. Or American. Or... South Africa, after colonization. Yeah... I'm sort of nuts about history.

10. Would you live on the moon or Mars if ever given a chance? Why or why not?

The moon. Why? The view.


11. What is the biggest thing that scares you?

If you're talking about phobias: Water (yes. I row), needles (will never become a junkie), escalators (only got onto them without issues at the age of 13) and heights. However, I do make a point to deal with my fears, because I won't let them rule my life.

Other fears: That I'll be stuck in a soul-killing occupation because I'll settle for second best when it comes to living my dream.

Then there are questions from fellow South African, Rossandra White.

1. What book have you always wanted to read, but still haven’t gotten around to it?

Well. I've always wanted to read the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes. I'm about 90% through. But for some reason, I always lose His Last Bow. :-/

2. What classic book do you feel is overrated? Why?

Hmmm... Actually, none of them that I've read. Oliver Twist was good, but not as good as I'd thought it would be from the movies. See... a lot of it, and some characters, get cut out in adaptions...

3. What is your favorite movie adaptation of a book? Least favorite?

Favorite: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Least: Actually, I very rarely like adaptions of books I've read, so I'm struggling to single out one.

4. Where is your favorite place to write?

In my room, on my bed. Or in a busy cafe/restaurant.

5. Pen, pencil or computer?

Pen when drafting. Computer for edits. Never a pencil unless drawing.

6. What was your favorite toy as a child?

Hmm... probably my Star Castles, but most of my playtime was taken by play-acting with my cousin. So I guess that would make our dress-up clothes my favorite.

7. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

Hmm. From other people's perspective: Finishing my degree. From mine: digging myself out from rock bottom and finding where I want to go in my life.

8. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one ability or quality, what would it be?

Still can't decide between time control or telekinesis.

9. What are five songs you hate to admit you love?

Hmm. Nope. I'm much too sure of myself to be shy about my personal taste. ;-)

10. Where is your dream destination, (or place you’ve always wanted to go)?


11. What are the top five things on your bucket list?

In no order:
1) Tour Europe
2) Tour North America
3) Speak eight languages fluently
4) Publish.
5) Perform on stage.

Finally (if you made it all the way to here, wow) there are questions from C. Lee McKenzie.

1. What's the best part of reading a book you love?

That bittersweet sense at the end that I wished that the story would continue.

2. What book(s) have stayed in your head?

Actually, at least one aspect of any book that I've ever read sticks with me when I read. No matter how good or bad. Sometimes I can look at a cover of a book I read when I was ten and tell you the story, the main characters, the main conflicts and the end. It's... apparently very weird.

3. If you could write one book only, what would the main character be like?

Like the ones in Doorways.

4. What book(s) do you love to read to your kids?

Don't have kids, but one day I will let them pick. Then I'll read once or twice, and let them read it on their own. That's how my massive love of reading started.

5. Do you ever read books aloud to others?

Portions of books.

6. Do you like discussing books with others?

Love it.

7. If you hate a book, do keep reading anyway or put it away?

I keep reading. At first because of obsession, but now because there are awesome writing lessons to be learnt.

8. What kind of books do you like best? Sci-fi, Realistic, Historical Fiction, Biography, other.

Any. I like good stories.

9. Are you transitioning into the digital age with a Kindle or a Nook or a I-Pad? Or are you sticking with those hard copies? Do you mix it up?

I love hard copies, but since I started blogging, I'm so jealous of all the books I'm missing because I have to read on my laptop (which I don't enjoy).

10. How much do covers influence your buying a book?

Actually, not much. I pick by feel. Another weird thing for you to work out what I mean. ;-)

11. Any new books you'd recommend?

Oooh... I'm still trying to catch up on my TBR pile. Right now I'm on Jane Austen, so new books aren't that high on my priority list. But I do recommend Persuasion.

So these are my answers. What are yours?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Against All Odds – Finding the Romance

Hello, everyone! Misha asked me to talk about relationships, especially since I recently published my space fantasy romance novelette Defying Gravity.

First off, Defying Gravity isn’t your typical romance. In fact, it has a very big problem. The main characters only catch a glimpse each other before they are captured and divided by a rock wall with just a small crack to hear each other’s voices. Like the ill-fated and wall-divided lovers Pyramus and Thisbe from Roman mythology, I had to discover a way for the characters to fall in love without sight.

Alezandros is a Medusan. Linia is a Persean. They live on two very different planets, since Medusa is a post-apocalyptic planet and Persea is in its prime. Their peoples hate each other. Everything is stacked up against them, so how do they fall in love?

Well, not to give everything away, I focused on the characters, their relationships. I used glimpses of their family, their lives to show how similar they were. To find that common bond between them that could grow into so much more.

When writing romance, I believe it helps to find that connection between the characters. The writer must think about all the aspects in the characters’ lives. Lust can turn into love, but a strong foundation will make the love all that more realistic. Opposites may attract, but I think it’s the similarities, the bonds that deepen the romance and love.

I hope that’s what I managed to portray in Defying Gravity.

A question for writers: How do you build relationships in your works?

Thank you, Misha, for having me on your lovely blog!

Defying Gravity by Cherie Reich

Book Description:

Homesick upon the SS Perseid, Linia, a young linguist, thinks she signed up for a mission of peace, but her crew members have another plan: attack the planet Medusa.

Bored with his dying planet, Alezandros, a space cruiser pilot, joins the Medusan Army in his quest for adventure.

When the SS Perseid clashes with the Medusans’ space cruisers, Alezandros and Linia’s lives intertwine. Sucked through a wormhole, they crash upon a post-apocalyptic Earth and are captured by cannibals. In adjacent cells, Alezandros and Linia cast their differences aside for a common bond: escape. But when romantic feelings emerge between them, they might do the unthinkable because for a Medusan and a Persean to fall in love, it would defy gravity.

Book Links:

Surrounded by Books Publishing



Author Bio:

Cherie Reich is a writer, freelance editor and library assistant. She enjoys writing horror, fantasy, and mysteries, but she doesn’t let that stop her from trying other genres. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her e-books include Once Upon a December Nightmare, The Best of Raven and the Writing Desk, and Defying Gravity. She is a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Valley Writers and placed third in Roanoke Valley’s BIG READ writing contest.

Author Links:





Thursday, February 16, 2012

I've been tagged

Just as I thought I'd never know what to write today's post about, I got tagged by Alessandra Hinlo and Regina.

Rules are: I answer 11 questions and make up my own and tag 11 people.

So... my answers are:

1. What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited?

2. Favorite food?
Pizza. But with meat and lots of cheese. No olives. And preferably no pineapple or green peppers. Garlic, on the other hand...

3. Horror: yes or no?
No. Horror is sadly one genre that I've never learnt to appreciate.

4. What is one thing you absolutely must do before you die?
Tour the whole of Europe.

5. Do you write in the morning or in the evening?
Uhm... *mumbles* Both. Have I mentioned that I almost have no life any more?

6. What’s your favorite urban legend or ghost story?
Probably the Magersfontein ghosts. Or the Girl from Uniondale. Or the Flying Dutchman. Did I ever mention my deep abiding fascination with ghost stories?

7. Are you left-handed or right-handed? (I ask this because I’m a leftie!)
Right handed. Unless I eat.

8. What’s your favorite mode of travel? (by car, plane, train, ship, etc)
Any of the above except ship, but only because I haven't been on one yet. I like traveling. No matter by which mode of transport.

9. Do you have any scars? How did you get them?
Yes I have a two inch long gash on my left leg from a musical chairs accident.

10. Favorite author?
Hmm... I shall cop out here and say there are too many to list.

11. Apple or PC?


1- What is your favourite writing place?
I have two: my room with music in my ears, or any busy restaurant/cafe.

2-What is the best thing about writing?
That moment when you get into the writing zone and everything feels good afterwards.

3-What is your favourite quote?
Hmm... I don't rightly know. I like quotes, but can never remember them.

4-Where do you get inspiration from?
For books: from characters walking into my head, reading, pictures, playing computer games... In fact, there's very little that I don't find inspiring. Special mentions: when I'm a passenger in a car and when I'm showering.

5-If you could be a historical figure, who would you be and why?
This one is pretty tricky. I'd actually prefer to be someone close to some historical figures like Churchill or Henry VIII, but then not too close. Wouldn't want to catch that red-head's eye.

6-Name you top three favourite authors.
Alexandre Dumas Pere
C.S. Lewis
J.R.R. Tolkien
In no particular order.

7-If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

8-Besides reading and writing, name other two pastimes hobbies.
Currently Singing and Dancing. (amongst others)

9- Name your top three websites.
(for humor)
Ctrl Alt Delete
Deathstar PR

10-What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Just write. Find yourself before comparing to others and learning rules.

11- What special power would you choose to have?
Hmm... Telekenesis or time travel. Can never decide which.
My Questions:

1. Do you believe in fate?
2. How the heck do you write and have a life?
3. If you were in a written story, which character trope would you most likely have followed?
4. Sweet or Savory?
5. What's your big dream?
6. Fondest memory?
7. What's your biggest wish? (world peace does not count)
8. Would you rather have an exciting life and be alone or find the great love of your life and live a relatively normal one?
9. Have you ever done something, only to realize a half a second later that you made a mistake?
10. Did you try to go back and fix it, or did you follow through?
11. Do you edit while writing or after the draft is done?

To tag, I am going to go with my 11 most recent writing blogging friends with links who have not been tagged today. That way, I get to know them a bit better. :-)

Michael Horvath
D.G. Hudson
Julie Dao
Alexandra Shostak
Jacob Adams
Stephanie Allen
Nick Hight
Karina Lawrence

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Key-Word Cavalry: Novel "doesn't fit a genre"

This has been quite a bone of contention the previous times that it got mentioned on this blog, but since I haven't ever really written about it myself, I thought I'd put my opinion out there.

So... you wrote a book. And it was beautiful. And unique.

So unique that it transcends genre.


After all, who are those evil corporate monsters to push your baby into a box that it never will comfortably fit?

Well, beloved searcher, while I have no idea what you were thinking as you typed today's phrase, if it sounded like the above, you might want to look into going through a mind-shift.


For more than one reason:

First one would be if you want to trad publish, you want to make your book as easy to sell as possible. The easier it would be to sell, the bigger chance you'll have of getting published. Publishing houses need to know which shelf your book needs to sit on. And it can't sit on five different shelves. Because that would be stealing space from the poor person who wrote a simple but beautiful story that fit in only one genre.

Ha, you might say, I want to self publish. Excellent point, searcher. Except, we humans are silly creatures. You say: Epic romantic fantasy dreamscape with sci fi elements. We read: MESS.  This is not a poTAYto poTAHto scenario. Besides. I think it's a lot better to be pleasantly surprised about what's in the book. Rather than reading every single aspect of it while perusing the synopsis. 

But MISHAAAAAA, you might say, my book does not fit into a genre. Why am I going to put a square peg into a round hole? My answer to this is simple: Guess what. Most people's books don't fit exactly into a given genre. If they did, there would be no variety. Monotony is boring. Boring is bad. BUT, there is hope yet. If you stop being so worried about insulting a few strings in your storyline, you'll find that some of those holes you mentioned are more square than others. Your peg will fit. Maybe not exactly, but close enough.

So... go for broad strokes. No story will be exactly equally fantasy/thriller/romance or whatever. If you sit still and think about it, one aspect will be bigger than the others. Do you worry more about the epic world than the thrill or romance? Then it's a (thrilling but never say this) fantasy. If the thrill is more important, it's a thriller (set in a fantasy world). If the story would cease to exist without the romance, it's a romance (set in a fantasy world). Not that hard, is it?

Or perhaps you're not dead sure about what genre you're supposed to go for. In that case, there's a useful genre map.
How did you decide on your genre?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Something weird that works

Today's post is for Young Adult Teen Tuesday, which is hosted by the wonderful S.A. Larsen.

As some of you might know, I am not only editing Doorways. I'm also slowly starting to work on the rough draft of the sequel.

Insanity, some might say, but I believe there's method to my madness.

See, the real insanity would have resumed if I didn't do it. I simply CAN'T wait another two years before continuing the story. I want to know what happens. And I want to know now.

Which would lead me to something really illuminating that I stumbled upon recently.

My crit partner and I let our main characters meet.

Yes. Meet. And interact.

Yep. It does sound weird. But after the initial WTF moments, we discovered that the interactions between the characters form a treasure trove of information.

I think it's because there's no story into which to force them, so they can just hang out, be cool, or not, or do awesome stuff. OR mess up.

And I'm there, making notes.

This is particularly illuminating when it comes to two of my male main characters, because neither of them actually talk to me in character interviews. It ended up that my crit partner and I forced a bunch of them into a room and let them get drunk.

With some VERY interesting results. Half of the stuff I now know about my main characters will never make it into the books, but like backstory, it's something that forms the foundation of their actions and choices.

What weird and wonderful things have you tried in order to get to know your characters?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest

Today I'm taking part in the Origins Blogfest, so I get to tell you where my writing dream began.

Well, it goes something like this:

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Since today won't be a strict Others have said day, I get to cheat a little. See, the as much as I love reading, the above quote actually applies to me better if it referred to creating stories.

My love for stories is in my blood. By the time I was born, my gran had written and published and/or saw on t.v. a multitude of stories in my first language. So when I played with my cousin (with whom I grew up), we created stories. And characters. And plots. And descriptions.

When I was taught to read and write, my cousin and I started writing silly little books with single words per page that meant something to us. As we grew older, the play-acting continued, but we went our seperate ways when it came to writing. Still, there were few competitions (mainly poetry) that we didn't enter and win. I think I was nine when I tried to write my first movie script.

The one thing I did not lack was ambition.

The movie script (as happens with nine year olds) lost it's appeal to me, but in middle school, a wonderful thing happened to me.  I was required to write essays for two languages. At first, it was harsh going, but after my gran explained the basics, I started getting A's for my efforts. And I fell in love with the chance to record the dozen-a-day ideas I had milling around in my brain.

Still, as I continued to grow older, I got this keen sense of dissatisfaction. I started arguing with my teachers. Because my stories wouldn't fit into the word count stated. Other kids in my class tried to haggle the word counts down. I begged the teacher to give me more. I mean: who the hell can write an entire deep, complex story in 250 plus minus 10%? Were they kidding me?

That was when I started to think about just writing away from school. Fact was, school writing fixes were to small.

So sometime this month, ten years ago, I opened my first word document and started typing just for the hell of it. And I never looked back since. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I have joined the Campaign.

Rachael Harrie is holding a mini-campaign that will run until 17 March and I signed up. Her campaigns are a great way to meet new bloggers, so if you haven't yet, go check out how it works and join us campaigners.

For those of you visiting my blog for the first time: Hi! I'm Misha. I mainly write a YA Epic Fantasy, but also have adult books and other genres in the works, in addition to one musical libretto.

I like singing, dancing, stabbing people (fencing), chocolate, writing, reading and now rowing.

I have a deep and profound fascination with swords and daggers, which probably why my beast of an epic contains a lot of swords, but not all that much sorcery.

Uhm... I don't really know what else to tell you, except to say that I'm really happy that you're here.

Who else joined the Campaign? In which groups are you?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Starting Out Blogging

Hi all! For today's GPF, I welcome (again) Golden Eagle. She's one of my favorite bloggers out there, so her advice is well worth reading today. ;-) Take it away, Golden.

First, thank you so much for having me today, Misha! It’s an honor to be here at My First Book.

When I started blogging, I didn’t know that there were writing blogs—nor did I have any idea that it was considered common for a writer to have a blog and/or a social media platform. It was only after several months of blogging and trying to find some kind of niche that I stumbled upon a popular writing blog. It started snowballing from there, and now the great majority of the sites I follow are written by writers.

Personally, I’m glad I found that writing blog back when The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective was still relatively new to the blogosphere. Other writers are a great source of encouragement and traveling companions along the path from first draft to finished novel (whether published or not). Blogging is also excellent for doing something with words that doesn’t involve a novel—everyone needs a break from their projects now and then—while also challenging you to produce content on varying schedules, depending on your style.

Furthermore, blogs are good places to learn. Everyone is moving along with their own goals and ideas, their own failures and successes, and it’s likely that someone somewhere has tried what you’re planning to do. It’s easy to find advice, help, or even just similar circumstances by rifling through someone’s archives or even using a search engine—and if the exact thing you’re looking for doesn’t exist yet, most people (I’ve found) are willing to share what they’ve experienced. Or you can strike out on your own and chronicle your adventures through your own posts, which is always interesting and helpful for readers.

And finally? Another benefit to the online writer community is that it is online. I’m very introverted in person—I don’t like to say much and I don’t really enjoy small talk. However, unlike good old Real Life, when it comes to blog posts there’s time to think about responding and no need for immediate, constant feedback. With my own posts, I find that there’s much more room for exploring a topic than there usually is in person. Other important or interesting things can be saved or bookmarked to be revisited later, and if something strikes you as particularly good, it’s easy to link to content to share with everyone else you know virtually.

The blogosphere is a fascinating, ever-changing place. Whether blogs will still be as popular in ten years (or even just a few) is unknown, but for the moment, I’d definitely recommend branching out into it—even if you aren’t a writer, though writers have a lot to gain. There’s a great community in this corner of the web.

Thanks so much for visiting, Golden. Anyone else who wants to do a GPF post, please check here for details.

Anyone have any tips for beginning bloggers?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

When Ideas Make Love

Hi all! I'm finally back on my own blog, but today I'm welcoming Tara Maya to MFB. Tara is the author of the Unfinished song series, which is available at Amazon here, here and here.

When Ideas Make Love

Recently I heard of the notion that progress is made when ideas make love.  

This is true of ideas in writing as well. 

One of the dangers in writing—any kind of writing, but, I fear, especially genre writing—is that you will settle for a cliché instead of a fresh idea. Orson Scott Card once warned that when you brainstorm for a new idea, the first couple that pop into your head are going to be clichés. Cliches are the low-hanging fruit of the archetypal world. In his example, he would ask a class of science fiction writers to design a race of aliens. Inevitably, in class after class, the first few “aliens” suggested would be reptilian or dog-based or cat-based…each class churned up the same tired ideas unless challenged to step past that first easy, over-obvious thought. Lazy thinking leads to stale writing.

One trick to overcome this is to mate two unrelated images. Let us say you have a story about three soldiers trying to make their way home after a war. You might allude to an archetypal antecedent such as the Odyssey, which is also about a warrior trying to make his way home after a war. Adhere to this too closely, and you’d just have a retelling of the Odyssey—which is fine if that’s what you want, but let’s assume you don’t want it that close. So maybe you also throw in an homage to the Zodiac. Your hero’s journey takes a year and in each month he encounters a monster or obstacle related to the astrological sign of that month. This is pretty absurd, but that’s what makes it work—especially if your story has nothing to do with the Zodiac. It’s not something you need, or want, to make obvious. You don’t have the hero say, “It’s time to meet the Embodiment of Pisces.” What I’m talking about is not the overt mythology or world-building in your story, but just the opposite. I’m talking about taking a wild card and throwing it in the mix.

What does this do? It forces your creative mind to get off the easy road of cliché and go to work. “Hm,” you think, “In Yawning Moon month, they should meet a element related to a fish. But they are traveling through a desert. How are they going to meet a fish? Hey, what if they come to a temple built from the fossils an ancient marine sea monster….” Until that moment, you might not have realized that there was a temple built from fossils in the desert!

You can use this technique for deepening characters too. It can help to have secret totems for your characters. These are metaphors that you don’t share directly with your readers, only indirectly. For instance, if you character is a were-elephant, that’s not a secret totem. You share that with the readers openly. But you might have a character who is not a were-elephant or directly related to elephants in any way, who is nonetheless elephant-like in mannerisms or body-build, etc. I’m not even sure what the distinctive mannerisms of an elephant are, but again, the point is that this absurd metaphor forces you to think about your character in an unexpected way, and you discover things about him that you didn’t know.

Some people will say, “Don’t use dragons,” “Don’t use vampires” or “Don’t use elves” because these are over done. I don’t agree. I think that such archetypes can still offer fresh and wonderful stories, if you shake off clichés and continually surprise readers. When you use this technique, you surprise yourself with what you come up with. If you, the author, are surprised by the twists in the story, chances are the readers will be too—surprised and delighted.

Thanks so much for the great guest post, Tara. So all, do you mix seemingly unrelated ideas to freshen up your writing?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I'm Meandering in a Field of Words

Just when you thought I'd be back, I'm here to tell you I'm at Jenna Quentin's blog. Hope to see you there. :-D

Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm at My Literary Jam and Toast Today

Hi all! Today I'm at Mia Hayson's blog, so I'd greatly appreciate it if you went over to say hi. :-)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Writing Relationships

Hi all! Today I welcome Jade to MFB. Jade is one of my newer followers and writes YA. She now lives in New Zealand after pretty much living everywhere else.

Writing Relationships

First, a huge thank you to Misha for letting me grace her blog for the day J

My post for her Friday Guest Post is on: Writing Relationships.

Okay, so we all know you can’t exactly write a story without relationships trickling in there in some way or other, and the best thing about writing is you can write whatever you please. Any story, any character, and spice it up with any relationship you feel like. J With that in mind, I love relationships that don’t have the typical resolution you would expect. For instance: The love hate relationship between a rival sibling. The forbidden wanting for your best friend’s husband ( no that isn’t from personal experience! lol ), or falling in love with a murderer and having your moral obligations conflicting with your heart. (Again, not personal experience!)Each one opens so many avenues to passion, confusion and ultimately an excellent story.

Some points for writing believable relationships are:

1. Give us a conflict. Something that is either heart-wrenching or subtle. A catalyst to why your MC is feeling those things in the first place.

2. Build the emotion of your MC. Racing heart, palms pooling with sweat, confusion fogging their concentration. Just by describing their physical reactions you can build the type of relationship the MC is leaning toward.

3. Have the situation build until a climax is inevitable, and then twist it in a way the reader was not expecting.

4. Give the relationship believable roots. If it’s a love relationship why do they fall in love? What wins the MC over or bring them together so intensely? If it’s a dangerous relationship between kidnapper and kidnappee, have a believable reason WHY they were kidnapped and why the stakes are so high. There’s nothing worse than having great chemistry in your book, but not based on any real reasoning as to why that relationship exists.

Writing relationships between your MC's is one of the hardest things to get right. You can get the scenery, descriptions and plot down to perfection, but if the chemistry is lacking then it will always fall flat.

I personally find writing about personal experiences is the best way to get solid feeling in a MS. So if I could pass on any advice – that would be it. Use your own feelings and relationships as a trampoline to your MC’s own trials and tribulations. 

Thanks again to Misha for letting me write all over her blog. You're awesome and I highly encourage everyone to follow her wicked cool blog :)

Thank you again for this great post, Jade. If anyone else wants to take part in GPF, please see this post. February is full, but the last four weeks of March (theme: How We Write) are still available.

Have a great weekend! But before you go, please tell me: What is your favorite sort of relationship to read/write?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A short post about doing nothing.

I must say, this is a nice change. I sent in some more work to be critiqued, so now I'm sort of stuck with nothing to do.

I could probably go on with the sequel, but I just didn't feel like it today. So... instead of worrying and moping about the fact, I decided to take the day to catch up on some blogs that I've been meaning to visit.

It works doubly as well because of the fact that my day is sliced in little bits and pieces.

Still, that doesn't mean that I'm avoiding everything writing related. No, today I finally get to have that meeting about the libretto that I'm supposed to write. So hopefully I'll be able to start with it very soon.

What are you doing today? Anyone else being as lazy as me?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Today is my first ever post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, which is aimed to air insecurities and to support other neurotic writers.

It's actually really fitting that today is my first foray into Insecure Writing territory, because something happened to me this morning that actually falls neatly with the purposes of this group.

I was happily going along, minding my business, opening my MS to edit when it hit me.

Right over the noise in my head. Over the clamor between my characters, my muse and my internal editor. My inner critic woke up from her hibernation and spoke.

"What are you doing?"

And all went silent.

Then she really got started.

"What are you doing? Sitting day in and day out, working on perfecting your WiP. You can fix everything you see now and your CPs will still find more things that are wrong. You could spend the rest of your life writing stories that will go unappreciated because they might not even sell." and on and on and on. Every little statement felt like a whip to my back, drawing blood and draining my courage to face my long line of mistakes.

I sat there, staring blankly at my document, trying to find my balance when one of my Doorways characters, Darrion, spoke up:

"Don't be an idiot. Of course my story is full of errors. That's why you're editing. And of course your CPs will find problems. It's the reason you have them read your work. Now stop whining and get going. The story isn't going to edit itself. Now... if you'll excuse me."

Then he kindly beat my inner critic up before gagging her, chaining her and hanging her upside-down in a very obscure corner of my mind.

Obviously, his bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired, but he has a valid point. There's nothing wrong with having something wrong in your writing. At least you found it and can fix it. Same with getting a long list of suggested edits back. It means that there are still ways to improve. We should only panic when our writing sucks and we don't know how to fix it. And even then, it only takes a bit of elbow grease. 

Do you have one character who takes care of your inner critic for you? How do you handle doubts when they appear?