Friday, November 29, 2013

Moonless and Update Day

Hey all!

Sorry for the weird, random silence these past week or so.

Remember when I told you that I was moving to a farm? Well... Said farm had zero connection. No internet, no landline, no mobile phone signal... nothing.

As a result, I haven't been on the internet since the last time you saw me. Except a brief stop before my mobile's data ran out.

Anyway, today I want to do two things. First, I'm welcoming Crystal as part of her Moonless blog tour, then I'll be telling you how I've been doing with my crazy goals.

So first: take it away, Crystal!

Where did MOONLESS Come From?

It was 2002, I had just come off a Dickens reading binge and was querying my first novel when I sat down at the computer with two words in my head: Blue Eyes.

One week and a hundred pages later, I stared at the first draft of the easiest story I’d ever written—a sweet, coming of age tale based in the 1700’s.

Hit the brakes!

As a woman with five brothers, I didn’t write “sweet, coming of age stories.” I wrote fantasy—scary fantasy with action, high stakes, and explosions! I wouldn’t even pick up a book if it looked “girly.” (*ahem* That has since been remedied.)

This little novella sat on my computer and I occasionally glanced at it…or maybe added a page or fifteen while blushing and waiting for my tomboy alternate ego to kick me in the teeth. It was nothing. A silly little love story that made me roll my eyes in embarrassment or (when no one was looking,) sigh contentedly.


Oh the magic moment when I realized it was a piece of my larger story world—the one that RULED MY WRITING BRAIN and had been brewing since I was thirteen. The hero, Mister Blue-Eyes-Who-Will-Consume-Your-Soul (a title bestowed by my fabulous editor) was a key player in a MUCH larger story.

The manuscript underwent a makeover and burgeoned into the entity it is today—adequately scary with fantasy, action, high stakes, explosions (minus TNT), and romance. *gasp*

Simply put, it came in layers.

So if you’re writing a book and it’s a brand sparkling new idea, I suggest taking your time. Give it a little room to germinate, to infest, to overrun your daylight life. The results may astonish you. And hopefully the rest of the world too.

Thanks so much Crystal! 

As part of her tour, Crystal is giving away some AWESOME prizes, so go enter the draw now. :-)

In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially later when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night.

Among the many things to change for her that evening are: her physical appearance—from ghastly to breathtaking, an epidemic of night terrors predicting the future, and the blue-eyed man’s unexpected infusion into her life. Not only do his appearances precede tragedies, but they’re echoed by the arrival of ravenous, black-robed wraiths on moonless nights.

Unable to decide whether he is one of these monsters or protecting her from them, she uncovers what her father has been concealing: truths about her own identity, about the blue-eyed man, and about love. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with the man of her dreams and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

Crystal, author of MOONLESS, is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. 

For those of you who don't know, I host a bloghop on the last Friday of every month where writers can share their crazy/crazy important goals and update us on how they're doing. You're more than welcome to sign up!

This month, believe it or not, went swimmingly. 

First round of revisions to The Heir's Choice  was done by the 16th.
The move went well, and the unpacking's almost done.
AND I'm about 3000 words away from winning NaNoWriMo, so I might even win tonight! Needless to say, I'm pretty dang shocked and pleased with what I've been able to accomplish.

How have you been doing?



Edit: I've now won NaNoWriMo. This is what my month looked like. See the bumper amount of writing I did earlier this week? Yeah... didn't know I could draft that much in two days...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Visiting M.J. and Julie today.

Hey all! Just popped in to let you know I'm at Julie's for an interview, and M.J.'s talking about splitting Doorways in two.

Hope you're all doing well! X

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Interview with Terry W. Ervin II

Hey all! Today I'm welcoming Terry to my blog for an interview. His newest book, Relic Tech is out now, and sounds like it could be awesome!

Hey Terry, welcome to The Five Year Project. Want to tell me a bit about your goals and how you go about achieving them? 

Thank you for having me, Misha.

My goal is to write interesting stories that other people will want to read. I think I’m like most authors, and write stories I’d like to find on the bookshelf, if I hadn’t written them myself.

Like most authors who aren’t full-time writers, I have a full-time job (teaching high school English) and a couple part-time jobs (grading e-course work and serving as a member of the Village Council) in addition to writing. Plus, I’m a husband and father to two daughters, which means I’m pretty darn busy. Thus, if I want to get my stories written, I have to carve out the time to do so.

I'm the same way. Always better to write what you'd like to read. So what are your favorite sorts of stories and characters? 

I enjoy stories with action and conflict, stories that have interesting plots with an occasional surprising twist connected to intermingling subplots—a few and not a distracting plethora. 

I enjoy characters that are overall ‘good guys.’ That doesn’t mean that they’re perfect and don’t have some aspects of gray to their beliefs or motivations. Main characters that use the skills, abilities and talents that they have are more interesting to me than ones that are the ‘top dog’ where everything in the plot largely revolves around the decisions they make and actions they take. I prefer it when the main characters are just as likely to be forced to respond to events and actions of others in the story as they are to take action that alters a story’s course of events.

Some good examples of characters I like to read about would be: Vlad Taltos from Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos Series, Prince Corwin from Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber, Atticus O’Sullivan from Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. I think a sold cast of supporting characters is important as well. They're the ones that add depth and make the plot work. Each of the examples above have this.

To achieve those sorts of stories, both strong plot and great characterization are needed. How do you go about balancing them? 

Good question. I don't have any sort of forumula--50% of each chapter must be focused on direct actions taken by the POV character, 98% action verbs used throughout the story, etc.

I believe the best characterization comes through readers learning about the characters within the context of the story. I'm less on telling the readers what a character thinks or feels, say, about the death of a comrade on the battlefield, and more about how the character responds--what he says, and what actions he takes. I allow the readers to witness how events impact the characters, change the characters’ views, causes them to falter or to grow. The readers fill in the blanks rather than being told what's in those blanks.

A strong plot, I believe, needs to have direction. That doesn’t mean everything proceeds in a direct line from point A to point B to point C. The characters in the story have goals, and they’re never 100% the same, which jostles the plot’s direction, and characters, around a bit. That’s the way real life is, and its effects are amplified when situations, events, and conflict in the story are a bit larger and more volatile than the reader’s average, everyday routine life.

In Flank Hawk (my first novel) Krish, a farmhand who joined the local lord’s militia to escape his mundane life, finds himself on the front lines of an emerging continent-wide war, and not the annual crop disruption raids he and his older cousin anticipated. The death of his cousin provides a point of crisis, propelling Krish forward, forcing him to grow, or to wither, or to turn and flee. He endures and is taken under the wing of an experienced mercenary. Krish isn’t anywhere near the best swordsman (or spearman) on the battlefield—and he never will be. But his resilience and steadfast loyalty gets him noticed, opening the door to a whirlwind of struggles and events, culminating to a point where his decisions and actions come to matter. They matter far more than if the story had been about a simple crop raid, after which he returned to his life as a farmhand.

That’s an example of what I think comprises a synergistic balance between a strong plot and great characterization.

Excellent way of putting it. What are you working on at the moment?

Currently I’m working on the galley proofs of my SF novel, Relic Tech, sent by my publisher. It’s the final step before the novel is ready for publication. It should be released in early November of 2013 (it may be out by the time this interview is posted J). Which it is. See info and links below. 

Otherwise, I have about 10,000 to 15,000 words to finish the first draft of Soul Forge, the third novel in my First Civilization’s Legacy Series. After that I have an alien invasion novel planned. The first chapter is written but I don't have a working title for it, yet, which is unusual for me.

Sounds like you're very busy at the moment. Want to tell us a bit more about Relic Tech


Security Specialist Krakista Keesay, a relic tech, meaning he relies upon technology dating back to the late 20th century, awakens critically injured with his life fading despite advanced life support. Not only that, but he’s on trial for committing horrendous crimes: kidnapping, planetary quarantine violations, destruction of the interstellar civil transport Kalavar, and treason. Actions he doesn’t remember.

In a desperate bid to clear his name and reveal those guilty of wiping his memory and framing him, Kra demands to have his brain hooked up to the experimental Cranaltar IV, an alien device he hopes will draw out those lost memories, translating them into digital form—evidence. The drawback? The process will utterly destroy his brain. He’ll never know the results.

Using the classic frame story structure, Relic Tech relays Specialist Keesay’s story, unraveling the mystery—how and why he ended up a dying man, accused of horrific crimes. 

From foiling a political assassination attempt to serving as a conscript defending the Tallivaster Colony from the Crax’s overwhelming invasion force, readers can follow Kra’s adventures, and discover his innocence—or reaffirm his guilt.

Here’s what one pretty neat individual had to say:
"The tech level premise is fascinating, but what really makes the novel special is the spirit of Krakista Keesay. Kra is a hero to root for—often underestimated, adept with brass knuckles, bayonet, shotgun, and all sorts of old style weaponry. He proves that, while technology matters, so do courage, intelligence, and daring."—Tony Daniel, Hugo-finalist, author of Metaplanetary and Guardian of Night.

Sounds awesome. What inspired you to write it?

Several notions inspired me to write Relic Tech. One came from my pondering about the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in society. Often it’s based on economic status usually derived from access to opportunity and education. That led me to ponder a technological schism, and how a determined individual using old technology and skills would fare if humanity became a space-faring society.

Last question: What is the best piece of writing advice you can give? 

Treat your readers (beta readers) properly. Refrain from sending them a first draft and requesting feedback—no matter how much you’re craving an opinion. Go back and revise and edit first, making the work a solid piece. Why? The writer will get feedback focusing on the obvious problems assaulting the reader. Instead of providing insight on subtle plot holes or pacing or more elusive concerns, the bulk of the commentary will relate to what the writer could’ve addressed on his or her own, including grammar and poor sentence structure, wandering plotlines, and stilted dialogue (among a host of other concerns).

Insightful readers are a valuable resource. It’s both improper and unwise to ask them to read subpar work—and especially to re-read a revised version after having suffered through a horrid first draft. Even the most steadfast supporter will be deterred from helping out in the future. Their time is valuable too.
Thank you very much, Misha, for the opportunity to ramble on a bit to your blog's readers!

Thanks for visiting! 

Terry W. Ervin II is an English teacher who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction. His First Civilization’s Legacy Series includes FLANK HAWK and BLOOD SWORD. He is focused on completing SOUL FORGE, the third novel in the fantasy series.

His newest release from Gryphonwood Press is RELIC TECH, a science fiction novel packed with action, adventure, aliens and even a bit of a mystery. It is now out at Amazon, Amazon UK and Smashwords
In addition to writing novels, Terry’s short stories have appeared in over a dozen anthologies, magazines and ezines. The genres range from science fiction and mystery to horror and inspirational. GENRE SHOTGUN is a collection containing all of his previously published short stories.

To contact Terry or learn more about his writing endeavors, visit his website and his blog, Up Around the Corner.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

And so the heroine falls.

I'd really hoped it wouldn't come to this, but I'm going on hiatus.

The plan is that I'll link up to my guest posts every day as they go live, and put up guest posts etc. that I promised for other people. I will do my bloghop's Update Day.

But otherwise, until mid-December or later, you probably won't be seeing me.

The reason? We have to move house even sooner (on the 20th) which means my revision schedule, my NaNoWriMo plans... well... everything, actually, are screwed.

Something's gotta give for the next two weeks, and since only my revisions are on contract, blogging and NaNo have to be it. Hopefully I'll manage NaNo by some miracle, but if the past twelve days are an indication, things aren't looking good.

The last straw came last night. A short trip on moving house errands turned into a seven hour one. I came home, I crashed, and I didn't do a post, despite the fact that I know I should have.

So. It really sucks. I wanted to visit blogs and market my book etc. But life's not working out that way at the moment.

I know a lot of you will be going on hiatus for the Christmas season. To you, I wish a wonderful time with your family and loved ones. May it be a blessed time.

To those of you who are sticking around through December, I'll see you at the latest on the 24th, but hopefully much sooner.

In the meantime, if you want to check out some more interesting posts by me, I'm visiting Bradley, talking about my five-year-project, and Susanne, talking about the five Cs I use when writing good dialogue.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Where I am and NaNo Update

So today, I'm doing the insane thing. I'm going try and write 6444 words to hit 20k tonight. The reason is that I haven't been able to get and stay ahead so far, although I haven't fallen behind either.

But if I'm on the edge, one day spent say... packing... could put me behind. Two days like that and I'm almost screwed.

I basically stole today to devote to drafting and revision, and I don't know how long it'll be before I get another chance to get a huge chunk of writing done. So that's what I need to do.

In all, I have fourteen hours in which to get the writing/revising done. I have five fixed projects and three writing prompts that I can work on. So I have to write 805 words per project today, or 460 words per hour. If I look at it that way, today's goal looks doable.

But it's the hours... fourteen. I don't quite know if my mind can stretch that far. Only one way to see I guess... At the same time, I have to be careful. I don't want to push myself into burn-out territory either, because that will be no help whatsoever.

Anyway, that's what I'll be doing for most of today. But I'll also be stopping by at Kelly's blog, where I'm (ironically) talking about when to give up on what you're writing.

That's me for now. Hopefully I'll be able to get ahead enough to stop by some blogs too. Missing you guys. X

How's your NaNo going?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group

Funny how in a month where you're constantly matching progress against the date, one can forget when it's IWSG day.

Luckily for me, I have google + and saw someone else's IWSG post.

For those of you who don't know, the IWSG members use the first Wednesday of every month to share insecurities or encouragements. You can sign up here.

My big insecurity for November is... well... November. I don't know why, but everything seems to be conspiring to keep me super busy this month.

For one thing, I need to pack for my move to a new home. Then there's NaNo, marketing The Vanished Knight and revising its sequel. On top of that, I might have to fly to Europe again for business.

Talk about a schedule from hell. I can only knuckle down and keep going, hoping that I can get everything done. *gulp*

In the interest of that, I'll stop now. I need to finish a few more sections of revisions before I can visit other people's blogs.

What's your November schedule looking like?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Where I Am and Updates

Hey all! Today, I'm visiting Suzanne with an interview, and Shah with a short post on Guy Fawkes night.

As for my progress, I think I'm doing good. Finished rereading The Vanished Knight this morning and wrote 1896 words so far today. Which means I'm about 300 words away from being a day ahead.

It'll be awesome if I can get those words and maybe another half a day's worth written tonight, since I want to spend tomorrow rereading and starting to revise The Heir's Choice. Of course, I'm pretty sure I'll be adding on a lot of words, but it might be good to have a bit of breathing space in case I struggle to write in the new scenes.

I'm seriously excited about getting The Heir's Choice done. I think it can only do the sales of The Vanished Knight good to have a sequel out there. And honestly, I do think people will enjoy TVK more if they can go right into the sequel.

It's not that I was mean to my readers or anything. Although one of my friends said she hates me because reading the book kept her up the night before her exam, and now she's wondering what's going to happen next.

Which is probably one of the best reviews I got so far. :-P

Anyway, I just want to say thanks to everyone who've bought my book so far. I don't know who bought or how many bought copies, but I do know that for the whole month since it was published, TVK never went below 600000th of all the purchased books on Amazon. It peaked at around 77000th, which I think is pretty dang awesome for a debut work by an unknown author. Hopefully the sales will keep coming.

Friday, November 1, 2013

November is...

Hey all, first things first, I'm visiting Angeline today to talk about how perfectionism railroaded my efforts at finishing a book.

So... Just when I thought November can't be more hectic...

This month is NaNo, me marketing TVK, me packing up house to move and as of today, me editing TVK's sequel.

I guess I could have asked to start later, but then I realized that 1) I'm moving in December, 2) I'm settling in in December, which means that 3) I'll probably be settled in time for Christmas and 4) that means I'd only be able to do serious edits by January.

So if I want to get revisions done, it has to get done now. I think it can work, though. With this round, revisions will mainly be writing in information, so basically I'll be drafting chapters. Which for the sake of NaNo, I'll be counting towards the final score. Only daily word additions qualify, though, to keep things honest.

But yeah... I think this might be my most difficult NaNo year yet...