Tuesday, December 8, 2015


As I mentioned on Wednesday, I'm currently trying to stave-off a burn-out by resting a bit more than I'm usually writing.

It does, however, also prove to me how addicted I am to this whole writing thing. Yes, I'm tired. Yes, I can hardly string two words together without it feeling like I'm pulling teeth. (Blog posts and the like are luckily not too bad.)

But can I stay away from writing? No. But that's okay. I'm following some of the advice that a lot of you (thanks for those comments, by the way!) gave me, and I'm taking it as I feel. If I feel the urge to write, I write. If not, I'll just crack open a book and read. (Which is fun too, and is in fact making me feel much better already.)

In the meantime, I'm already feeling a lot better.

How are you all doing?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group

That's right, after more than a year of not taking part, I thought it's time to sign up again.

For those of you wondering what this bloghop is about:

On the first Wednesday of every month, a (very large) group of us writers get together to share our insecurities and encouragements with other writers.

If you'd like more information or if you want to join, please click here.

What could I be insecure about? you might ask.

Well. Lots.

At the moment, I'm struggling with exhaustion. I don't mean this in a medical sense or anything like that (I don't think), but ever since the rough year I had in 2014, I've been trying my best to stay positive, stay strong and keep moving forward.

For the most part, I have to say I've done that, and I'm incredibly proud about that fact. But half way through the month, I've signed a contract for a new job which, although full-time, has flexible hours depending on the amount of work I need to do to meet my objectives.

Which means that, for all intents and purposes, I should have a great year in 2016.

But almost as soon as I was able to take my first real breath that didn't feel like I'd get sucked under at any second, the exhaustion hit. I guess I've been so busy being tough and strong or whatever that the moment I didn't have to be anymore, my energy gave out.

So although I'm used to setting huge goals every month, I decided to give myself a little break until January. You know, to rest and recover.

My muse has other ideas. I keep feeling these urges to get back to writing, but every time I finally get to the point where I can sit down and write, that exhaustion is back. And that means I'm constantly swinging between not wanting to write and wanting to write, while fearing that forcing myself to write will just end up pushing me into a full blown writer's burn out.

(If you haven't experienced burn out, you're lucky. But let's just say it's a six month long writer's block on steroids.)

I honestly have no idea about what I should do to rest myself out enough to start writing again. Or even if I should disregard my exhaustion and write anyway.

And now it's 9:15 pm and it's probably a good idea to just turn in and sleep.


How are you doing? What do you do when you're exhausted beyond belief? Do you still write, or do you recharge those batteries? If the latter, how?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Happy Book Birthday M Pax!

Hi everyone! Yesterday was another crazy one at work, which is why I've been a bit quiet lately. (But I will be stopping by to visit some blogs today.) In the meantime, I just wanted to give a shout-out to writing buddy and Untethered Realms Co-Conspirator, M Pax, whose new book is out today.

With the rift closed for the season and no more monsters to fight, Daelin Long gets bored as librarian in the podunk town of Settler, Oregon. A job interview and her brother’s arrival present a tempting opportunity to escape, until her brother and her best friend, a ghost, disappear.

While Daelin searches for them, more mysteries pile up: dead people coming back to life, portraits of the town founders replaced with strange white trees, and people on the other side of the rift returning. It’s impossible. The portal that allows monsters from other universes to come to Earth is sealed until next summer.

The Rifters, a secret group protecting our world, believe the troubles are nothing more than the tantrums of an offended ghost. Daelin disagrees. If she’s right, the evil hell-bent on destroying Earth has new technology making the rift more deadly.

Before the monster summons the next apocalypse, Daelin must find it and destroy it.

Book 3 in the Rifter series.

Now available at:

AmazonUK / AUS / CA / DE / FR ES / IT / NL / JP / BR / MX IN
iBook / Nook / GooglePlay / Kobo / Smashwords / inktera / Scribd

Need to catch up? 

You can read books 1 & 2 in the Rifter series for free by becoming an M. Pax Reader. ENTER THE M PAX DIMENSION

About M Pax

M. Pax is author of the space adventure series The Backworlds, plus other novels and short stories. Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckon to her, and she blames Oregon, a source of endless inspiration. She docents at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers as a star guide and has a cat with a crush on Mr. Spock. Learn more at mpaxauthor.com.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Update Day Leftovers Edition

Hi everyone! Today is Updated Day for my Big Dreams/Crazy Goals bloghop. But before I get to that, I want to let you know that my short story Hanna’s Gift is now on Lightning Quick Reads, if you would like to check it out.

Right. For those of you who aren’t clear on what I’m doing today, the Big Dreams/Crazy Goals bloghop was my and Beth’s brainchild, which was aimed at allowing ourselves to think big, while encouraging us to figure out ways in which to at least try to get there. It’s also great for accountability (no one wants to be the person who keeps updating with no news all year) and encouragement.

The bloghop is open for anyone to join. If you’d like more information, please click here.

Now that’s done, let me get to that update.

Well. The long and short of it is that I didn’t actually manage to finish anything I set out to do this month. I mentioned my new job last time, and although I’m really happy with it, I think the adjustment was just one last straw that kicked me over into emotional exhaustion territory.

I’ve had a stressful year that can only be called an improvement on the last because 2014 set the bar so low, and I’ve been fighting all year to keep writing.

This month, I came to the point where I just couldn’t. (Which in itself deserves to have a post written about it.) The thing is, I know myself. I’ve been pushing through stress and writer’s block because I wanted to write. Then, I just got this… lethargic feeling even when I have deadlines looming.

Tried taking a few days off (and have been writing little bits), but overall, I’m just not in the place where I want to be.

And the thing is, I have a huge year planned for 2016. I can’t burn myself out. I can’t afford it. Now when I have actual, living and breathing fans who want more books.


I’m going to break the pattern (and pace) I’ve set since January. Instead of looking at my progress for November and setting goals for December, I’m going to set one goal: Work on Wo6C3. How much work will depend on how I’m feeling. Anything else I do will depend on how I’m feeling.

Then, I’ll update on the entire year’s progress and announcing my goals for 2016. In between, I’m hoping to get a LOT of reading done.

What about you? How are your goals going? Are you also starting to feel tired after 2015?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Just stopping by...

... to wish my US friends a happy Thanksgiving.

I'll be back tomorrow for update day.

Love you all. (And am thankful to know every single one of you.)


Friday, November 20, 2015

I feel sort of guilty.

I do. I know I'm not supposed to, but I do.

See, I have so much to do. I have three books to edit. I have three to rewrite before the end of December. And I have two to rough draft.

And I haven't done anything related to any of those projects this week.

The problem is that I'm tired. Even when it ended up being nothing, the scare, drama and anger associated with the events of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning have possibly managed to tip over the scale into emotional exhaustion, which I have been trying to fend off since January.

So although I know I should write/edit, I just don't feel like I can. And when this feeling strikes, I know it's time to do something else instead.

Which I guess probably means I'm going to not do anything I set out to do in the beginning of November. But you know what? If that happens, I'm saving time simply by not pushing myself into a full-blown burn-out that lasts months somewhere down the line.

Instead, I'm going to take this afternoon off and draw. Then I'll see how I feel about things in the evening. If the drawing doesn't help, I'm going to keep drawing and add a reading marathon into the mix until the end of the month.

I'm figuring that a total of two weeks out of my writing schedule can't be that bad, given how little breaks I've given myself this year.

What do you do when you need to rest? 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Challenge. Accepted.

Hi everyone! So, my plans to resume my regular posting schedule from Monday didn't work out quite as planned, and today I'm just too exhausted to put any major thought into what I'd like to write here for today. 

See last night, someone on Wattpad accused me of stealing her cover (which was as a result of Wattpad wrongfully putting her cover on my book on her app). The mind boggles as to how that could happen, but it's far from the biggest thing about last night to boggle my mind. But, let's not delve into the unpleasantness except to say that it took me until 2:30 this morning to clear up, which means I'm currently running on about four hours worth of proper sleep. 

Yes, it is indeed impressive that I am this coherent still at 5pm the next day with only one cup of instant coffee to sustain me. That said, I'm not pushing it, which is why I'm ever so grateful that J Lenni Dorner tweeted me this: 

That's right, the 777 Challenge is back, and since I'm working on multiple projects that are all different from the last time I took part, I'd thought this is perfect for today. 

777 challenge on the blog of @JLenniDorner

To recap, the rules are as follows: 

1) Go to page 7 of your WiP. 
2) Go to the 7th line of page 7.
3) Copy 7 sentences from line 7 on page 7.
4) Tag 7 people. (I'm tagging a few more, though.)

Since it's the easiest for me to do, let me see what's on page seven of Book 3 in The War of Six Crowns. Bewarned, though. This is only moderately better than a rough draft, since I don't edit until drafts are done...

Callan sighed. Surely this was relatively well-known. Maybe the news just hasn't reached earth yet. 
"The wedding was supposed to be part of an alliance," she said. 
"We know," Claire said, putting her a bit more at ease. 
Gawain returned with a tray and set it down before taking a seat next to Callan. The room suddenly went buzzing as if someone had smashed a beehive at their table. 

I'm going to challenge... All of my buddies at Untethered Realms and anyone else who wants to take part. What are you working on at the moment? 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

In memory of all who lost their lives to terrorism this year.


Blood littered the streets last night
Blood littered the streets
Of the city formerly of light.
Now in mourning.

Blood littered the streets last week
Blood littered the streets
Amid cries and tears and screams
That went unheard.

Blood littered the streets in January. 
Blood littered the streets
Of what used to be a town
No. Blood flowed down those streets. 
A river of death to water a village razed. 
The silence still leaves me amazed.

Blood littered the streets today
Blood littered the streets
As it litters the streets always.


Without the news.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Realms Faire 2015

The 2015 Realms Faire! 

Twitter Hashtag – #RealmsFaire

Welcome one and all to Realms Faire 2015! If you are here to visit the Hall of Doors, the following image will serve as your portal...

Otherwise, continue in order to reach more such portals to other events. 


4th Annual Joust

Up to 10 knights can joust. Each will battle daily. Magic words will be granted to each knight to pass out to their adoring fans. Knights score points by commenters using their magic words. Knight with the most points at the end of the week wins. What does the knight win? A year of promo on my blog in the slider and a tumbler printed with your championship boasts and badge.

Winners are drawn daily from the adoring crowds.


Beware the Vortex

A vortex opens. Five people are trapped in the Underworld with only one way out – challenge an immortal to a contest of skill. The odds are against those brave enough to accept but enthusiastic fans can help them win their freedom with magic words given to each contestant. Daily prizes awarded to each challenger and a commenter chosen at random.


Dueling Bards

One writer's character squares off with another writer’s darling. Which character wins the duel? The audience decides. Daily prizes.


Unicorn Hunt

You are charged with tracking down the unicorns!

Every day, a new blogger will host a photo. You will have to find the unicorns in the image, much like the famous “Where’s Waldo?” Leave a comment stating how many unicorns you find in that image. The most correct guesses out of five, wins.

Prizes will include books and gift cards.

Five images – many unicorns – only one winner!


The Hero’s Dilemma

Heroes beware! Here at the House of Hero’s Dilemma, a new cliff-hanging adventure will dangle new heroes above the depths of destiny or despair. In 100 words or less, a hero will face a danger in story form.

Each day, the people of Realsmdom will decide the fate of these heroes in three sentences or less. If fateful endings are giving answer in poetic form, an extra entry for prizes will be awarded.

Daily e-book prizes will be awarded via random name-pulling from the entries. Everyone is invited to participate.

People of Realmsom, you have the power of storytelling might to decide the fate of the would-be heroes. Will they die in glory or shame, live in victory or defeat? It is up to you.

And, after you have decided the fate of the Hero’s Dilemma, try your hand at the other Realms Faire Events for more fun and prizes!



A simple word game. Prizes drawn daily.


Soak-A-Bloke and Drench-A-Wench

Come by and soak a blogging friend with wet sponges… or witticisms. Prizes drawn daily.


Who Roams Here

Each day I will give clues to a famous ghost from literature or movies. I’ll give new clues throughout the day until someone guesses the right ghost. The first one to guess correctly will get a $5 Amazon gift card and a bundle of ebooks.The only rule is that the same person can’t win the daily game more than once.

At the end of the week everyone who left a comment will be entered into a drawing for the grand prize which is a $30 Amazon gift card and a bundle of ebooks.


Riddle Me This

I am a book so popular they made a movie of me. Within the what if realms I lie. Horror? Fantasy? Or am I Sci-Fi? A riddle every day during the Realms Faire for you to take your best guess and have a chance to win a prize most splendid.


Hall of Doors

Each door is numbered and gives a peak at the book behind it. The blurb is available to help you out. In the comments section, guess the title of the book corresponding to the numbered doors to stand a chance to win. You may guess at any number of doors to enter.


Stockade Brigade

Warrants of arrest have been issued for select authors accusing them of witchery and wizardry. The pillory has been erected and the trial dates set.

Good people of Realmsdom, I call upon you to bear witness to these trials and offer your testimony for or against the author’s crimes.

Points will be awarded for wordsmithing a comment in your best Olde English afore 8 of the clock in the Eastern time on the following scale:

5-Ye speak as one from the days of Queen Bess.

4-Ye could pass muster as a Ren Faire cast member

3-Ye could pass as a Ren Faire attendee

2-Ye wouldn’t be foolin’ yer mother

1-Ye stand out like the sun in a cloudless sky

An e-book will be given every day to the witness who scores the most points. Fear not, your daily score will be accumulated and the person with the highest score shall receive a special prize at the end of the week. So, brush off your Olde English and prepare to testify.


Prize packages up for raffle.


Monday, November 2, 2015

The Point to Being a Writer

It's been a while since I did one of these sorts of posts, but I think this is a good time to bring it up. Again. See, I do mention this every now and then.

But then, writers need reminding of this every so often. I'm especially looking at you guys who (like me) have big goals and things to achieve.

See, goals are a good thing. I truly believe they are. They give us something to work towards, which gives us purpose. This purpose gives us determination and determination (and quite a bit of dumb luck) is what sees us through.

All very good things.

However goals can become millstones around our necks. They weigh us down with the sheer amount of measurable things we did not achieve. Or make us highly aware of how far we are from where we've seen ourselves at the end of some arbitrarily chosen moment. (End of the year, at the end of five years, etc.)

This millstone effect affects most people, but for writers and other artists, there's an extra danger: It can and does kill our creativity.

Everyone's motivation for writing differs a little bit. Often, we write for a variety of reasons. Maybe just because you like reading and thought it would be fun to write and it was. Maybe you have this huge drive to produce something, anything or your life just doesn't feel complete. Or you need to write to process your emotions. And so on.

A lot of us find that, even if there are all these wonderful reasons to write, we just never seem to spend enough time on actually doing it. TV creeps in. Facebook sucks up time. All those million little distractions gang up on us and if we're not careful, whole days go by without us writing. Which isn't good.

Goal setting with accountability makes us careful with out time. We want to have something to show those we are accountable to, so we start building habits of carving out writing time for ourselves. See? It is a good thing.

But the flip side is that sometimes, through no fault of our own, we just can't make those goals. Usually, it takes only a short moment of introspection to recognize when that's happened. You don't say "I wanted to write, but those crazy cat pictures took over my life and I just couldn't." But when things higher up on your priority list comes up (e.g. in matters of survival, or family issues, health issues etc.), there will be times when you. just. can't.

This is perfectly fine, but those goals still loom and suddenly, people are asking: "Oh, what's the point?"

And then they're miserable. Because suddenly, nothing they've done is good enough. Now nothing they've written gets them anywhere and writing becomes this pointless cause of self flagellation until we're not even sure we like being writers anymore.

So. Because I've been seeing a lot of you guys talking about this lately, I decided to be awesome and answer your question...

Whats the point? 


Not earning a living from our writing. (That's the point of publishing, but that's not the matter at hand.) Not becoming a bestselling writer. (Nice, but not the point.) Not publishing to schedule because some other blogger said you need a certain rate of output to succeed. 

I repeat. 


Your love of writing should be the be all and end all of all points when you're a writer, or you're toast. See here's the thing. It's okay to want to make a living at what you love (which is what seems to be the root of all these issues we're having), but when the expectations you set of yourself to make it happen makes you unhappy, you can't blame that thing you love for your unhappiness. 

Your expectations are the problem. 


What to do to straighten out your concerns about writing and find some semblance of serenity? 

I propose a one-round game of Would You Rather. 

If publishing was never an option to you, ever,
Would you rather...

Continue writing anyway
Stop writing and do something else? 

Now adjust your life and/or thinking accordingly.

You're welcome. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Update Day: Spooky Edition

I can’t believe that it’s the end of the month yet again. The time’s just flying and it’s almost terrifying to think that New Year’s Eve is two months away.

But for now, it’s Update Day, which means it’s time for me to take a look at what I’ve achieved and what I want to do in November. I’m doing this as part of my Big dreams/crazy goals bloghop. Basically, we’re a group of people who’ve set ourselves some big goals and then get together every last Friday of the month in order to post updates on how we’re doing. The idea is to share accountability, celebrations and sympathy as needed in order to keep moving in the direction that we’re aiming to go.

Anyone who’s looking to join is more than welcome to do so. All you need to do is click here for more information and the list of participants.

Right. Enough talk. Let’s see how I did…

My goals for October:


1) Edit BvB1

2) See if I can finish the Wo6C3 rewrite.
I wrote 28k words at the time of writing this, but might add a few thousand more. Also, I finally managed to put the rewrite of the book into a planned structure, and now know that I’m about 30% of the way through. Yes. Turns out the book will be… hefty.

3) Get back to the BvB2 rough draft.
Didn’t get to it.

4) Find critique partners for ES1.
Done. I also gave this another editing pass before sending the ms out.

5) Prep the DM1 rewrite for NaNoWriMo.
I still feel like this isn’t quite falling into place the way it should, so I’m postponing this to next month. Hopefully I’ll be in a better head space to work on it then.

6) Start StW. (Or…end up postponing it yet again.)
Hahahahahahahahaha. Poor StW.

7) Work on the CdW concept.
Didn’t get to this.

Writing-wise, October looked like this:


1) Read four books.
Eh… Depends on how you look at it. Roughing It by Mark Twain is technically one book, or seven separate books. So I either finished no books or three books, depending on your point of view.

2) If possible read some more of Les Trois Mousquetaires.
Didn’t get to this. I’ve been stealing minutes here and there, and reading a classic in French is a bit too involved for that.

3) Since I’m giving myself a break on the number of books I’m reading, I’m upping my average time a day spent reading to 20 minutes.
I managed the huge average of 7 minutes.

Social Media:

As disheartening as this is, start again to build up some sort of a presence.
This I did to mixed results, but I think I can call it done.


1) Be prepared to chop and change my plans in the (unlikely) event of the film concept I’ve sent in being chosen.
It wasn’t.

2) Take deep breaths and try not to murder anyone. (Long story.)
Managed this. But only just.

3) Crochet.
Nope, and now it’s the time of year where I’m going to put the project away. It’s way too hot now to mess around with wool.

My goals for November:


As is tradition, I’m taking part in NaNo this year. As is tradition, I’m going to have to do so with some sort of complication. This time, it’s officially starting my new job post-merger. Also, I’m on a bit of a productivity kick, so I’m going to push for a bit more than 50k words.

1) Write 60k words or edit for 60 hours or some combination of the above. (Therefor 10k written and 50 hours of edits also count.)
2) Finish Wo6C3 rewrite.
3) Add words to BvB2 rough draft.
4) Start StW rough draft.
5) Edit ES1 if the critiques come in in time.
6) Prep DM1 rewrite.

Writing-wise, I hope my November looks like this:


Given that I’m in for a crazy month, I’m going to give myself a reading break.

Social Media
Do my part in Realms Faire.
Add to 100 Things Part 3 (my How-to book on writing. You can find the first two parts on Wattpad.)
Twitter, Google+ and Wattpad presence.

Settle in with the new job, hitting all required performance goals.
Decide on the proportions I’ll save on my salary and devote to helping other people.

What about you? Making progress on your goals? Got a big goal that you might want to share?


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Interview with Patsy Collins

Hi everyone! Today I'm hosting one of my oldest blogging buddies, Patsy Collins for an interview as part of her blog tour.

But first: More about Firestarter...

Alice has a fantasy. It starts with being rescued by a hunky fireman, involves the kiss of life and ends in him not needing his uniform. At the New Forest Show, Alice is offered an innocent version of her dream. Reluctantly she turns down fireman Hamish's invitation. 

Despite Alice's blameless behaviour, boyfriend Tony's obsessive jealousy kicks in. Hamish wants to take Tony's place, but a hoaxer ensures Alice already sees far too much of Hampshire Fire Service. The threat of an explosive sprout surprise, her mum's baking, sister Kate's mind boggling pep talks and the peculiar behaviour of Alice's boss Miles provide distractions. 

Is Alice really in danger? What is Kate up to? Can Hamish possibly be as perfect as he seems? It takes Alice masses of wonderful food, disgusting wine, smelly mud, red footed crows and steamy Welsh passion, but she finds the answers. And rethinks her fantasy.

And now, let's get started, shall we? Bold will be me. Not bold will be Patsy.

Hi Patsy! Thanks so much for visiting the Five Year Project today. First things first: Please tell everyone a bit more about yourself.

Thanks for having me over, Misha. Nice place you have here!

I’m a British writer. Mostly I write short fiction for women’s magazines and have had hundreds of stories published around the world. Sometimes characters take over to such an extent they fill a whole novel. Firestarter is an example of that.
I’m married to a photographer and we spend a lot of time ‘on location’ in our camper van, either for his work or my writing. Most of Firestarter was written where it’s set.

Very interesting! So what inspired you to write Firestarter? What gave you your first idea that kicked everything off?

Oh help, I don’t know. I often don’t know what sparked off a story. (Oh! Spark - see what I did there?) Now might be a good time to distract you by mentioning there are firemen in this story. Strong, brave hunky firemen with muscular thighs. Handsome Hamish is of course the hottest and hunkiest of all. When he’s not rescuing people from fires or setting women’s desire alight, he’s being nice to animals.

I may have developed just the slightest crush as I was writing about him.

Lol very subtle. :-P 

What was your favorite part to writing Firestarter? (Other than Hamish, of course.)

Researching the food was good. There’s a lot of yummy food in the book and obviously I had to eat it all so I could describe it accurately. The there’s the locations and wildlife. Quite a lot of action takes place at a wildlife sanctuary and, although I’m interested in that kind of thing, I didn’t know enough for some of the scenes. Not all the research goes into the book, but I don’t think that means it’s wasted.

When it comes to the actual writing, the parts without Hamish I most enjoyed were the scenes with my main character Alice and her sister. Kate’s dialogue was a lot of fun to write - she said a few things which surprised me! Actually Louise was fun to write too. Even when she was being mean to Alice I felt sympathy for her and let her vent her frustrations a little.

I love when characters surprise me while I'm writing. What's your favorite moment in Firestarter

The final scene is definitely one of them. I can’t tell you what it is as that would give too much away.

There’s a satisfying bit where sylish wine snob Tony, persuades Alice’s slime-ball of a boss, Miles Molde to drink warm, flat nettle beer which tastes even more awful than it sounds. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about what I put Tony through. Not Miles though - he deserved it all and more.

Sounds like it was fun to write. Tell me about your writing method. Do you have one? Or are you someone who only writes when inspiration strikes?

It was.

I do try to be reasonably organised with my writing. There are lists on my desks of everything I’d like to get done, so if I’m not in the mood for writing I have other things I can get on with. Although I don’t write every day, it’s very rare for me to have a day when I don’t do something writing related - editing, researching, submitting, promotion, etc. It all has to be done and to me it makes sense to tackle whichever task is currently most appealing.

It does make sense. Which phase of the process (writing, revision etc) do you prefer and why?

If the writing is going really well then it’s that part as the story just carries me along. Overall though, it’s the first round of editing or revision. At that stage I know I have a story I can make work and whatever I do to it is almost bound to improve it (my first drafts are a real mess).

My first drafts are messy too. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Plotter. I didn’t think I would be, but I’ve learned that a flexible outline helps.

Oh interesting! Mind sharing how you go about plotting? What works best for you?

Give away all my secrets? Oh, OK then.

First I take a guess at how many chapters there will be and create a document with headings for each. Then I put in any key points I’ve decided on, roughly where they’ll happen. Obviously these vary with each story, but in a romance you’ll likely to have the couple meeting, realising they’re attracted and finally getting together. A murder story will probably have the body being discovered, important clues and the bad guy getting arrested. Of course it needs a lot of twists and turns, but I start with the obvious and build up.

Next stage is to work out, roughly how long a time period will be covered and note in the different months (or days or years). If the period covers for example Christmas, then I note what the characters do, if anything, to celebrate. I consider the weather too - does that alter the storyline?

At this stage I try to work out the normal life of the characters. Where they work, who their friends are, if they have hobbies and note when I’ll introduce these points. I just keep on adding details as they occur to me. Often one note will spark a couple of ideas. For example the gift a character is given for her birthday reveals something both about her and the person who gave it to her. Do these things impact on the main storyline? If so how and when?

If there are too many points in one chapter I divide it into two. If there’s not much going on, I combine a couple. Once I have enough ideas (which will become scenes) in each chapter, I start writing.

Looks like a very sensible process. Where can people find you and your book?

The process is very sensible - sometimes the way I apply it is less so.

I have a website here - patsycollins.uk and the book is available in paperback and ebook from Amazon.

I also have two writing related blogs.


Thanks again for stopping by! So, lovely people... I want to know: Do you enjoy research? What did you enjoy researching the most? 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mayhem in the Air is Here

Gosh. I can't get over this cover.

From Amazon bestselling and popular science fiction and fantasy authors comes Mayhem in the Air, a supernatural anthology of ten thrilling tales. Meet hot robots, hungry winds and the goddess of chaos. Explore alien planets, purgatorial realms, and a shocking place where people bury the living with their dead. Mayhem in the Air is the second, long-awaited story collection from the dynamic and inventive Untethered Realms group.

"A Strange Penitence" by Catherine Stine - A young artist pays a supernatural price when a drawing trip to North Carolina turns deadly.

"Mass Transit" by Graeme Ing - For Emily, mind over matter is not just a saying, but the gateway to her career among the largest starships built by man.

"A Tangled Weave" by River Fairchild - A TimePulse rips through the Great Tapestry of Life, leaving Earth's history in a jumble, and Death and Chronos in a race to save the world yet again.

"Corrosive" by M. Pax - In a world ruined by pollutants, Bex sets off to establish a new homestead with her dreamy robotic man. Already farming her plot of land is another dreamy man with radical ideas, presenting new challenges as corrosive as the air.

"Saving Scrooge: A Short Story Prequel to the Saving Marley Series" by Gwen Gardner - Marley is sent from purgatory to save the soul of his old friend. Can he save his own in the bargain?

"The Silent Wind" by Christine Rains - A team of specialists must dispel a mysterious storm on an alien planet to prepare it for colonization. One by one the crew disappears until only a seasoned soldier remains. How can he battle a hungry wind that makes no noise?

"Paper Lanterns" by Cherie Reich: In order to keep his promise to his daughter, Mayor Alfred Merry must betray the woman he loves.

"Chaos. Hope. Love." by Misha Gerrick - Although Eris is the goddess of chaos, her life has fallen into a nice and comfortable routine. Until someone from her past shows up in her bookstore.

"Cardinal Sin" by Julie Flanders: Beleaguered hospital workers bury the living with the dead in the midst of a tuberculosis epidemic and a seething spirit vows vengeance from the skies.

"The Ark" by Cathrina Constantine -Plagued with memory flashes of fiery explosions and running for her life, Fallon emerges from a drugged stupor to find herself in an airborne Ark, and the earth below is a drowning wasteland.

Elements of Untethered Realms series include these four short story anthologies:
Twisted Earths (Available)
Mayhem in the Air (Available)
Ghosts of Fire (Forthcoming 2016)
Spirits in the Water (Forthcoming 2017)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Editing and Warm and Fuzzies

First things first: Let me start with a quick flash of admin. In case you missed it, I'm still looking for critique partners to help me edit my Historical Romance, so if you think you might be interested, please head over and check it out. (I do return the favor if you help me.) 

Secondly: The Vanished Knight is being featured on Andrea Washington's blog. She's a bit new to the community, so I'd love if you said hi. 

Okay? Okay. Now let's get into today's post.

(How's that for a smooth segue, eh?)

After putting out a call for critique partners for that romance, I decided to open it up one more time before it went out for a critique. The last time I had time to do so was in April.

I'm actually glad I waited so long, because I have a rather interesting relationship with ES1. See... this is the first book I ever tried to write when I seriously became a novelist. Then stuff happened and I moved on to greener pastures. The book stuck with me, though. Again because of a character walking into my head while I was reading. (It happens to me a lot. The Vanished Knight started in much the same way.)

I kept coming back to it, though. Even working on it on weekends while working on the beast that would become The Vanished Knight and The Heir's Choice. (Yes, it was once one book.) In other words, ES1 became the second book I ever finished. Then I rewrote it and lost the entire rewrite the day after I finished it.

I know. It was horrible. The loss, I mean. The book was (I think) good. Hard to tell. See that draft is a lot like a dead person to me. You know how dead people suddenly become saintly and perfect after they died? Yeah... like that. There's this part of my mind that keeps clinging to the idea that that draft was simply marvelous. Even when I never even edited it. Seriously, it was the worst time to lose a draft. Right after the high from finishing it.

Needless to say, I didn't have the heart to start again, so I put the story on the back-burner and worked on three more books. It took me a year, and when I came back to the rough draft, I realized that it was a mess.

Which meant one thing. Redraft. I went through the book and basically split it in two. Don't worry, these stories won't end in a cliffhanger. It's just that I had a huge cast of characters. I split it in two, which allows me to tell two previously competing plot arcs as stories in their own right. (I still need to write the second one. It's on my to-do list.)

This time, I loved the story as I wrote it. I loved my rewrite even more. After the pain and slogging that goes with writing the War of Six Crowns series (no seriously. I take four times as long to rewrite any of the books), ES1 was a joy.

So when I read it two months after the rewrite, I still had the warm and fuzzies.

Six months later... Not so much. Okay, okay I'll admit that it still makes me go "AWEEEE!" every now and then. It's just that now that I've been able to look at it without my other writing experiences coloring my vision, I'm noticing things.

Things like: I deviated far from the genre norms in certain places. (Which is fine. I do it all the time. Just wondering how it's going to go over with the readers.) Or... I noticed I glossed over a lot of scenes. Which now makes me wonder if I'm being overly critical (glossing over boring things is a good thing), or if I really didn't put enough attention into some aspects of the story.

I'm mulling this over for now, and will continue to do so while the manuscript is with my critique partners.

Do you also suffer from warm and fuzzies after finishing a draft? How long do you have to wait to make them go away?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Calling all Critique Partners!

It's Friday again and I'm yet again sitting here, shaking my head and wondering where the heck my time went.

It's actually the same with the whole month. Next week is the last week for October, which means that I should have done this a while ago...

Calling all Critique Partners!

I'm currently looking for critique partners for my Historical Romance and am willing to return the favor. 

What I'll Critique for you: Basically, I read almost all genres, but I don't critique MG, Picture Books, Memoirs, Erotica and Horror. Nothing against any of those things personally. I just don't "get" them, which means that I'll be pretty dang useless in reading them. 

You don't need to be ready for a critique to sign up for this, though. If you're still working on something, I do keep a tally of people I owe critiques to, so if you help me now, you can drop me a line whenever you're ready. 

What I'm Good at Critiquing: Plot, Characterization, Dialogue, copyedits. 

What I'm Looking for: Pretty much everything, but just let me know what you're good at so I know when is the best time to send my manuscript my way. 

About the Book: 

It's set in Texas before the Civil War. I'd classify it as a steamy romance. Not too hot, but the love scenes are there. 

A rough idea of the blurb: 

Wanted: A housekeeper and governess for five children. Position requires living on a ranch in Texas. Family welcome. 

Sarah McAllister is out of options. Her husband was killed, leaving her with two children and without any prospects. She's desperate enough to move into the wilds of Texas to save her family. But when she arrives, she encounters: One gunfighter in the making whose best friend is a gambler, one taciturn fourteen year old, twin girls who've been allowed to run wild and one boy who's fixing to be as wild as his older brothers. None of them want her there. Turns out, neither does her employer. 

Yes, Grady Kincaid had asked for a well-bred, well-read lady from back east. Heaven knows his children needs someone capable to get his children ready to meet their grandparents. What he hadn't asked for was a very pretty widow with more guts than sense. It's a nuisance to have her around, especially when his neighbor and enemy is interested in her, but when it's clear that she's in trouble, he can't turn his back on her. So he's stuck with her, which is a problem when he can't ignore his attraction to her...

If you're interested in helping me out, please mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com and we'll take it from there. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

PS If you could spread the word to people who might be interested? Pretty please with shiny sprinkles on top!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Whoops! It's Wednesday.

So here I am, a bit late. I promised to be back on Monday, but Monday wasn't a good day. It started with people visiting our neighbors keeping us awake past twelve on Saturday and Sunday. But just as things settled down on Monday morning, a huge thunderstorm, the likes I have never seen in the Western Cape, came over us.

Our cats were like: Meh.

Our dogs... Two were in a blind panic. The third was completely confused by the drama, which, in his barking to understand what was up with his buddies... added more drama.

I think I fell asleep at 4am.

I managed to get work done, but when it came to actually writing anything (blog, fiction, whatever)... no go. By lunch time, I was a zombie.

Needless to say, I'm so behind on my goals that I have to hit 3k words every day for the rest of the month to get anywhere approaching the goal I'd set.

I'm feeling good about my rewrite, though. So I might just make it. If I don't have any more horrific late nights to screw up my writing routine. But yeah. So far, I've written almost 1500 words today, so I should be making progress.

In somewhat unrelated news, I'm struggling to decide if I should still publish Endless this year. The plan had been to have it out by end November, but... it's hard to set a date when it isn't clear on when you can actually pay for your cover so that you can use it.

The good news is, I'll be getting a salary real soon. The problem is that the date isn't finalized. Which means I can't finalize a date. Which means that I can't set up anything approaching marketing around the launch...


*Glances up.* How are you doing?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Still alive and well, but will be quiet.

Hi all!

Thanks so much for the good wishes and prayers you've been sending my way. Things went well at the meeting, which means that we're moving forward. However, it also means I might be back to having a bit of a manic November (new job, NaNo, other businesses and Realms Faire), so I have to graft now in order to stick more or less to the goals I have left for the rest of the year.

Which means that I'm going to probably be quiet until next week. Too much to do. (Including but not limited to edits, rewrites, meetings with banks and employer etc.)

Wish me luck!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Please Pray

Hey all!

I was hoping to write a bit more of an interesting post, but today we've reached the make-or-break point in business negotiations, which means we're right in the balance between having another crap three or four months and actually seeing our problems solved.

Obviously, we're hoping these negotiations swing in the latter direction, so please pray that they go well.

In the meantime, I'm in for the most stressful wait of my life.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Holy cow! Where has the time gone?

Oh my word. I wanted to write a post today, but somehow, it's 5:30 PM and I still haven't started. Problem is I haven't started writing either, which means I need to knuckle down and get writing right now. 

See you on Wednesday. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

A little bit of news...

Hi all! Today's been a bit of a rough day, so I thought I'd do a bit more of an admin/news post for the things I'm up to or involved with.

Red Earth to White Light

For those of you looking for something slightly different this Halloween, I'm sharing the ghost story I wrote for Twisted Earths, the Untethered Realms Anthology, last year. 

You can find it on Wattpad. I'll be posting two more updates, once a week. 

Speaking of the Untethered Realms Anthology...

Mayhem in the Air

TwistedEarthsAnthology_MayhemintheAir (5)

Coming Halloween. Tales from Untethered Realms. Ten stories of horror, the fantastic, the future, and macabre, all embracing the element of air.

From Amazon bestselling and popular science fiction and fantasy authors comes Mayhem in the Air, a supernatural anthology of ten thrilling tales. Meet hot robots, hungry winds and the goddess of chaos. Explore alien planets, purgatorial realms, and a shocking place where people bury the living with their dead. Mayhem in the Air is the second, long-awaited story collection from the dynamic and inventive Untethered Realms group.

“A Strange Penitence” by Catherine Stine – A young artist pays a supernatural price when a drawing trip to North Carolina turns deadly.

“Mass Transit” by Graeme Ing – For Emily, mind over matter is not just a saying, but the gateway to her career among the largest starships built by man.

“A Tangled Weave” by River Fairchild – A TimePulse rips through the Great Tapestry of Life, leaving Earth’s history in a jumble, and Death and Chronos in a race to save the world yet again.

“Corrosive” by M. Pax – In a world ruined by pollutants, Bex sets off to establish a new homestead with her dreamy robotic man. Already farming her plot of land is another dreamy man with radical ideas, presenting new challenges as corrosive as the air.

“Saving Scrooge: A Short Story Prequel to the Saving Marley Series” by Gwen Gardner – Marley is sent from purgatory to save the soul of his old friend. Can he save his own in the bargain?

“The Silent Wind” by Christine Rains – A team of specialists must dispel a mysterious storm on an alien planet to prepare it for colonization. One by one the crew disappears until only a seasoned soldier remains. How can he battle a hungry wind that makes no noise?

“Paper Lanterns” by Cherie Reich: In order to keep his promise to his daughter, Mayor Alfred Merry must betray the woman he loves.

“Chaos. Hope. Love.” by Misha Gerrick – Although Eris is the goddess of chaos, her life has fallen into a nice and comfortable routine. Until someone from her past shows up in her bookstore.

“Cardinal Sin” by Julie Flanders: Beleaguered hospital workers bury the living with the dead in the midst of a tuberculosis epidemic and a seething spirit vows vengeance from the skies.

“The Ark” by Cathrina Constantine -Plagued with memory flashes of fiery explosions and running for her life, Fallon emerges from a drugged stupor to find herself in an airborne Ark, and the earth below is a drowning wasteland.

Realms Faire 2015

We still have limited spaces left for Duelling Bards. 


Hosted by Cassandra Webb. Daily prizes.

Your character squares off with another writer’s darling. Can you win? The audience decides.

Dazzle us with your character’s savvy and brawn, magic and might, quick draw and sweetness. An easy and exciting way to show off what your books are made of.

There are a few slots left in Dueling Bards.

We're also still looking for prizes, so if you're interested in taking part or sponsoring something, please sign up here.

One more thing. The Realms Faire has a Thunderclap going on at the moment, so it would be awesome if you could take a moment to support it. Please and thank you!

What about you? What are you taking part in or planning to do? Any other interesting news?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How I set huge goals without getting crushed by them.

Friday's post got two comments by J.H. Moncrieff and Kelly Hashway (both ladies have awesome blogs, by the way), which basically came down to "How do you keep getting so much done?" and "How do you handle your discouragement if you achieve your goals?" 

Since it isn't the first time people asked me, I thought I'd go into my madness/method once more. Actually, I'm going to share my big secret: 

I set huge goals and then make a game of chasing them. 

If I think about it in an attempt to explain myself, it's a lot like a perpetual game of soccer/football/rugby/whatever else you can think of involving points. Or maybe I'm playing a game of Quidditch, because I remember that some of those go on for a while. The only thing here is that I'm both sides. Misha the writer/doer-of-things vs Misha the procrastinator. 

The more things in a day, the more times I score. And yes. I keep track. 

If you look closely, you'll see I have two Excel spreadsheets open. I open them up the first thing every morning. 

The first is this one: 

This is where I keep track of my writing/editing goals by month. This was September, but at the end of each year, I create a spreadsheet for the next year. (2016's is done too. I did it this month to take a writing break.) Basically, it started as a way for me to keep track of my rough draft's word counts and daily progress during NaNo, since counting by hand is a bit of a pain in the butt, so it's easier to only count toward the total and then subtract to find what I've written in a day. 

The big block on the left is for rough drafts and rewrites and the block on the right is for my edits. (I count edits by hour instead of words.) 

I have another block each month for critiques, but including it just makes the whole thing too small to see. Anyway, on all of the blocks, I color-code my progress so that I can see at a glance what I've been doing. I can also input monthly writing and editing goals (say 10k words and 15 hours respectively), and the spreadsheet calculates my totals, cumulative totals as well as daily goals and cumulative totals. In other words, this thing helps me keep track exactly the same way as NaNoWriMo's stats do. 

The other spreadsheet I have open looks like this: 

The words are pretty squidgy so it might be hard to tell, but you're looking at the month of September. Each color-line in the calendar other than turquoise represent particular monthly goals I've set. You know the ones. I set them on this blog on the last Friday of every month. The key to those goals are in the multi-colored blocks at the bottom. I try to keep themes. (Such as the Purple involves stuff I still have to do for The Vanished Knight. The dark green was for all my writing this month. Yellow was for my reading (and to count the average hours spent reading) and orange are my life goals.) Every theme/color has a primary, secondary and tertiary goal, as well as a space for me to mark them as in progress or complete. 

In other words, this little bad-boy is my score card. The things written in on the calendar aren't a to-do list. They're everything I've done. Every day. Saturdays and Sundays tend to be emptier because I let myself rest, and also because they're spent on less quantifiable things like spending time with my family or binge-watching series to recover from my hard work. 

This month, everything except for eight tasks (out of 24) had me making at least some progress (two of which were postponed due to circumstances beyond my control.) Of the remaining 16 tasks I set myself this month, I completed 4 plus a bonus task for that rough draft I hadn't set a goal for, so 5. Of the 12 remaining, I made significant progress on one. So all in all, I might not have finished the majority of my goals, but so what? Everything I did only sets me up to finish them next month or the next or whatever. But in the meantime, I know that very few of my weekdays (six) went without me furthering my writing goals in some way, and I compensated for those by working in on Saturdays. 

Also, to help keep things balanced, a quick glance at my word-count reveals that though I didn't achieve everything I set out to do, I still finished a whole round of edits, a full rough draft and about a third of my planned rewrite in one month.

In short, I won this round by a wide margin. Starting tomorrow, I get to see if (and how far) I can win again. 

And yes, this came is huge fun. There's nothing as awesome as marking things as complete when you have things to do and goals to achieve. 

What about the bad months? Oh I have those too. Usually, what I do is I focus on what I have achieved. (I almost always get something done.) Also, it helps me to keep a long term view in mind. 

How long-term? Well. The Five Year Project runs from 2014 to 2018, but the timeline I have (the one I always post on my update days) have projects pipelined. And to give you an idea, this is what the Project looks like visually at this moment. (Each row is a project, each column is a month and each block is a year.) 

Each orange block means something's been (or will hopefully be) published. If I can just get half of next year done, I'll be a happy camper, and currently, I'm pretty much set to get there. All those tasks that didn't quite get done in any single month still add up to me finishing things, so there's no reason to worry about any supposed failure. There are no failures here. Only failure to do things, and I know I will get to them at some point.

What about you? Do you set goals? How do you keep track of them?