Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Loud Reading and Preparing for Tomorrow

I've just finished yet another round of edits to The Vanished Knight. It had started innocently enough. I wanted to read it and the sequel The Heir's Choice so that I could actually be sure I didn't screw up anything continuity wise.

But as little as five sentences in, I discovered that I'm not satisfied with the way some of my description was written. Chalk it up to the two years' worth of experience after the last time I edited TVK, but I just didn't feel as happy with it as before. Something felt off.

So I did the one thing I KNOW I should always do, yet always omit from my process. I read the entire thing (all 250 odd pages) out loud.

It's a tedious and surprisingly tiring thing to do, but I broke the book into five 50 page sessions and read out loud. It's amazing how much I picked up this way that passed me, my editor and two proofreaders by back when I published the book.

Which goes to show you that using a publisher definitely doesn't ensure that the quality's better than self publishing. If the book had stayed published, I probably wouldn't really have tried to edit it again.

Anyhow. It's done now, which is good. Tomorrow I can start with The Heir's Choice. I'll probably continue spending about an hour and a half each evening reading out loud. It's a nice length to work on, because it means I stop just before my concentration starts to wander.

Of course, that won't be the only thing I'll be doing this month. I've got a few other goals as revealed this past Friday and then I also have A to Z Challenge. Twice. On top of that, I also have another exciting announcement, but I'll probably wait with that one a bit, until I have more information. I do think it'll be a great step forward for my writing career, though, so watch this space.

In the meantime, it's 09:13 PM, so I think I'm going to turn in. Want to get back into the habit of waking early to get some writing in before work starts. Wish me luck!

Are you also mentally preparing for Camp NaNo and/or the A to Z Challenge? Are you turning in early tonight or waiting for the clock to strike twelve?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Feather Stone's Confession

Hi all! Today I'm having the lovely Feather Stone over for a visit. In the meanwhile, I'm visiting Unicorn Bell this week. Take it away, Miz Stone!

Feather Stone: I'm confessing. I've been unfaithful to my husband for the past thirteen years. How I've gotten away with it, I'll never know. What is worse, there's not a shred of guilt that I've been messing around with two other men.

It all started so long ago, totally innocently. I first saw Sam aboard his ship. He took my breath away. It was more than his snug fitting naval captain's uniform. The more he revealed himself to me, the more I fell under his spell. How we became lovers was magical. After all, I tend to be more a spontaneous kind of woman, he's a by-the-book man. I think we saw what we needed in the other. Yes, it was more than just sex. Oh God, how we tried to deny those insatiable desires.

Sam was my first extra-marital romance, but not the last.
A couple of years ago, Hashim's exotic world became too intriguing to ignore. His dark eyes saw through my disguise of being tough. He saw beyond my wounded soul but didn't run, or toss my ass into the gutter. I might have been able to move on and leave him to his lethal police duties, but I felt the whispers from his broken past. He needed me. God help me, I needed him even more.

Have you guessed? These are the leading male characters from my novels. What is true is that on a private level, I have fallen hopelessly in love with both of them. I see them, listen to them, I know them intimately - if that's possible to give myself to another in the ethereal world. God help me if my dear husband discovers my betrayal.

And, those who’ve read The Guardian’s Wildchild, find Sam so memorable. Soon, Captain Hashim Sharif in Forbidden will tempt and thrill readers.

As an author, how many times have you fallen in love with your characters? As a reader, have you given your heart to a character in a novel so deeply they continue to haunt  you? Please tell me I'm not alone. Is there a cure? Please say, "No, this is a life sentence."

A Wee Bit About Feather Stone

If you've forgiven me for the above transgression, bless you. It's true I've always lived a bit on the wild side. After years of living behind a mask, I finally broke free and set forth my life's intention - to live life to the fullest. I chose a career that is typically in a man's world - a paramedic, then a paramedic supervisor. Loved it. It challenged me in so many ways. And so much of those experiences in tragic events, and working among the police service members, gave me the fodder for creating intense plots in my novels.

Feather Stone Website: Romance Under Fire

The Guardian’s Wildchild is available at Simon & Schuster. Ebook is 99 cents.

Synopsis: Caught in a reckless attempt to stop Dark forces, Sidney Davenport, a young, rule breaking, spirited member of the secret paranormal community of Guardians, finds herself imprisoned on a naval ship and slated for execution. Her struggle with the unfamiliar emotions of fear and anger becomes even more complicated when she can no longer fight her attraction to the very man who has orders to perform her execution.

Captain Sam Waterhouse, a meticulous naval captain who's suspected of treason, teeters on a precipice between Darkness and Light. When he receives an unusual prisoner, a paranormal journey begins to unravel his disciplined life. All the while, humanity is unknowingly at great risk when two Dark forces team up to acquire control of an elusive power. Sidney and Sam attempt to quiet their powerful feelings for each other, only to discover they can save each other, and in doing so, they might even save the world. Through stunning imagery, an intricate and adventurous plot, and a strong cast of characters, Feather Stone gives readers a fascinating glimpse into the future-a future that is chilling, yet full of hope.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Update Day, March Edition

Another month has passed, which means that it’s another round of updates for me and my bloghop compatriots. For those of you new to my blog or who have otherwise missed out on the information, let me just give you a quick explanation.

As you can see at the top of my blog, I’ve got a pretty insane writing goal and I’m not the only one. So Beth Fred and I created this bloghop, which is where anyone with a crazy or just crazy important goal can enter. Then, on the last Friday of every month, we post updates on our progress and then visit each other to share advice and encouragement. If you’d like more information, or just to see who else has been getting what done, please feel free to click here.
Now that’s done, let’s get to the update.

When it comes to my goals, I didn’t get to do as much as I’d wanted, but that’s fine, because most of the first half of this month was taken up by settling into our new house. Then, the return of Internet has completely changed the structure of my day, since Internet means I can actually work again. My job is usually not something that’s an endless rush, but it does make it harder for me to focus on writing and editing in the day. I’ll get there, but adapting to change does take time.
That said, I am quite pleased with what I’ve been getting done:

Goals for March: 


1) Sort out covers for Wo6C1, Wo6C2 and BvB1
Still a no. Just not *quite* in the space where I can contact someone for this yet.

2) Proofread Wo6C1 and Wo6C2.
Busy with Wo6C1, but I should have this done by the 31st. I’m doing a loud reading at a pace of about 50 pages per evening.

3) Edit my Untethered Realms Anthology Short Story

4) Start Revising ES1
Didn’t get to this.

5) Rough draft 35k words.
I’ve drafted about 25k words this month and got to a place where I could structure my rewrite for Wo6C3. At the moment, though, my priority is to finish proofreading Wo6C1, so I probably won’t be drafting until April.

6) Rewrite 15k words.
I rewrote about 4k words.

This is what March looked like, writing-wise:


1) Start King Lear
Still didn’t get to it.

2) Start a French book
This neither

3) Read four other books.
I read two books this month, but might read a third by this weekend. 

Social Media

Once I have Internet, I want to:

1) Get back into a regular blog posting schedule.
Working on this, but it’s already coming back to me.

2) Visit everyone who’ve been stopping by since the beginning of the year.
Caught up here.

3) Get into the A to Z Challenge swing. Yep, I’m signed up. Three blogs this year.
I ended up asking for one blog to be removed, because I realized that while I have managed two blogs, three might be too ambitious given everything else I want to do. So far, I have posted for the theme bloghop and today, I planned what I want to write about. 


1) Finish applying for a government grant for my one business.

2) Finish crocheting a blanket for my room.
I’ve finished a few more squares, but it’s still a long way from finished. 

3) Do something else crafty. Painting, perhaps.
Haven’t gotten to this yet, although the arty bug has been gnawing at me for a few days. It’s just a bit too hard for me to paint right now while everything is still settling down. 

My Goals for April: 


1) Sort out covers for Wo6C1, Wo6C2 and BvB1
2) Proofread Wo6C2
3) Copyedit BvB1
4) Start Revising ES1
5) Write 50 000 words (rewrites included.)
6) Start looking at the concepts for P and my Science Fiction project. (I’m now at the point where I’m running out of draft projects where I know what I want to write about.)

Writing wise, I hope April will look like this:


1) Start King Lear
2) Start a French book.
3) Read four other books.

Social Media

It’s A to Z Challenge and I have two posts entered. However, I’m also doing Camp NaNo this year, and since I’m a writer first, that’s getting priority.

I would, however, like to survive the A to Z Challenge for both blogs, while keeping up with the comments to every day’s post. Anything extra that I can add to that is extra.

Also, I’ve been critiquing first chapters on Wattpad and I’d really like to keep that going.


1) Find a good balance between my job, writing, networking and the rest of my life.
2) Finish at least two skeins of wool on crocheting my blanket.
3) Edit my most recently taken photographs.

What about you? How did March treat you? 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My thoughts on Clean Reader and Censorship

This morning, I woke up with a link to this post in my Facebook feed. Wait wait wait! Before you go, be warned that Chuck doesn't mince words and doesn't delete expletives. Still curious? Then by all means. I'll wait.




Back? Good.

For the TL;DR crowd:

And it's upsetting quite a lot of writers. For good reason.

From my point of view, if profanity has been placed in books, it's there for a reason. And no reason justifies someone changing any words in a book without the author's consent.

End. Point. Period.

This is coming from me as an artist, being upset at other artists' work being damaged. Yes. I'm calling this damage.

I believe that most authors publish wanting to feel like they've remained true to their original vision warts (and profanity) and all. Yes, that might mean that they don't sell as many books or that their books might not be as widely popular as other books. But it's not as bad as having rabid fans demanding books you don't like writing.

And sometimes, I wouldn't like the book I'm writing unless there's profanity in it. For no reason other than the fact that if I'm writing someone like, say, a battle hardened bad-ass with scars and emotional damage, having him say: "Gosh darn son of a buck" just won't cut it. Why?

Well this goes back to my whole belief about writing. This has come up before, and every time I DO bring it up, someone disagrees. (Which is fine. I'm lucky enough that the people who disagree with me are usually mature about it and that means we all still get along afterwards.)

To those of you who don't know, my point of view on writing is as follows:

Fiction writers shouldn't be expected to teach, preach, or lead anything except for (maaaaaaybe) thought. Yes, our art could do all that, but it's not our main mandate. Our main mandate is to 1) be true to ourselves and 2) create a world and story that's as real and visceral to the reader as possible (as determined by the story's needs.) 

Having any effort of creating this experience for the reader to be ruined (whether they choose to do it to themselves or not), completely goes against everything we writers are supposed to do in the first place.

As Chuck said in his post, there's a social contract between a writer and a reader. The reader has the choice of supporting our work or not. And we have the choice of putting whatever the hell we feel is necessary into it. If that means a reader or two thousand is lost as a result, so be it. But I don't see why we'd have to stand by and have our work butchered simply for the comfort of someone who shouldn't have bought it in the first place.

I'm not here to comfort anyone in my writing. I'm here to create stories. If you don't like my story, go buy something else. Point. Period. The end. You as reader do not, at any point get to dictate the look, feel and dialogue of my story without my permission.

Why not? Because of what comes next. There's a very small step between people telling writers which words are allowed in the story and telling them which types of scenes aren't allowed in the story. Yes, here, Clean Reader is painting this as the reader's choice. But the point is that if the reader is reading the book, he/she should be trusting that the stuff inside it is there for a reason. Because they are. 

After screwing up our books by taking out scenes, it's a small step to banning books for having scenes and words in them in the same place. For burning them for because they were written in a way someone just didn't like. Where exactly would this end?

Oh? Someone might say. It's not that bad. I'm just blanking out some words. 

No. You are betraying the social contract between the writer and readers. Once you start doing that, all bets are off.

Change my story and take out any of the dark/twisted/violent/profane or otherwise *gasp* challenging to you, and you've destroyed hours of dedicated work that I and/or my editors, crit partners etc have put into putting the thing before your eyes in the first place.

We writers don't expect much. We don't expect everyone to buy our stories. Hell, we don't even expect everyone to even like our stories. But when we do sell a book to you, we do expect you not to fuck it up. For whatever reason.

If you want to read something I've written that has profanity, but you don't like profanity, suck it up. If you're worried about your children reading profanity... get them to understand why their reading my books aren't acceptable to you.

But you DON'T teach your children how to be censors from a young age. 

Because this is exactly what this app was originally designed to do. And if it takes... if children do take to bleeping out expletives, because they weren't taught to respect the work, thought and time put into writing the book they're reading... we might as well kiss our artistic expression good bye, because the rest will be sure to follow. 

It's really that simple. 


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Interview with Patsy Collins

Hi all! For something a bit different, I'm holding an interview with Patsy Collins as part of her up-coming book release. My questions are in bold.

Hi Patsy. Welcome to The 5 Year Project! For those who haven't met you yet, why don't you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi Misha,

Thanks for inviting me onto your blog. I think you’ve already sussed I’m a writer. My other interests are gardening and travelling in our camper van. It might seem that those activities would take me away from the writing, but I take the laptop away in the van, using it as a mobile writing retreat and often get inspiration from the places we visit. The garden and allotment provide ideas too. Often as I’m digging or weeding the answer to a plot problem will come to me. 

Oh and when I’m not doing all that stuff, I sometimes manage to fit in a bit of work as a photographic assistant.

Sounds like you live an interesting life. I know your new anthology centers around garden-related themes. Tell us a bit about the stories inside? 

The stories do all have some kind of garden or plant connection, but are otherwise quite varied. There are several romances, a few slightly spooky ones, a historical one and another set in the future. Photography, food and travel are important elements in many of the stories as I naturally write about things which interest me. All my writing is about people - people are interesting, aren’t they?

Yes they are. What inspires you?

I rarely know what sparked off a particular story, I just realise I have an idea which might work. Once I start writing, the characters begin to introduce themselves and I’m away. Occasionally a story is inspired by a real event, or even a real person but I usually have to change quite a bit to make a convincing story of it. Fiction needs to make sense in a way that reality doesn’t.

When someone tells me they enjoyed one of my stories, that it made them smile, distracted them from their difficulties or made them think I’m inspired to write more and repeat that experience. Or maybe that comes under motivation?

I agree with you. Sometimes reality really is difficult to believe when fiction usually isn't. What do you enjoy most about writing?

I like that we can put things right. In reality working hard, doing the right thing, being kind etc doesn’t always bring rewards and mean behaviour isn’t always punished, but we can make that happen in our stories if we wish. Also in life if we start off a project badly we have to live with our mistakes. In fiction we can just go back and change anything we like - start off at a different time, in a different place and with different people. We’re mostly in control.

That is awesome. Where can people find your book?

My latest short story collection Over the Garden Fence is available here.

Official launch day is April 3rd, but you can order it now.

Where can people find you? 

In the garden, but unless you want to get roped into helping with the weeding online is probably easier. My main blog is here - amongst other things I post lots of links to free to enter writing competitions. Anyone interested in writing fiction for women’s magazines might also like to take a look here.

Thanks again for visiting! It was great to have you over here.

And you, ladies and gents? What's your favorite part about writing? Do you also think Patsy's cover is adorable? 

Monday, March 23, 2015

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

Surprise! I decided a while back to enter two of my blogs into the Challenge this year. The other blog I'm entering is Taking Charge of My Life. 
Maybe it's crazy of me, because I also set a certifiably insane goal for Camp NaNo which is running at the same time. But hey. Life's all about taking risks. And if I beat both challenges while hitting my 80k word goal... I think I'll officially qualify as sersiously bad-ass awesome. 
Anyway. The reveal. 
So this is a blog about my journey as a writer, which includes, but isn't limited to tips and advice for new writers. For all of the challenges I've entered before, I've written tips for new writers, and I don't really see a reason to stop.
This year, the theme will be:

Things Writers Should Know About Being Writers

I think new writers will probably find it especially useful, but the veterans out there can also use a reminder.

Anyone else joining the Challenge this year? There's still time to sign up!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

#SpecFic Chat is Happening

Yesterday, I was far away from home, which is why I didn't post yesterday. I only got back at about 10PM and was exhausted, but in a good way. It's nice to travel so far, only to have the reason for traveling work out well.

Needless to say, though, it messed with my plans to post yesterday. So now I'm inviting you all to Untethered Realms's Spec Fic Twitter Chat, happening on Friday, noon EST.

Join the Conversation

The topic for the day is Build a Better Hero. 

I'd love to see some of you there!

That's it from me today. How are you doing?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Coming soon to a blog near you.

So yesterday, I started doing something I haven't done in YEARS.

I'm culling the follow lists on Bloglovin. (DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUN!)

Don't worry, though. See in the course of my five years of blogging, I've followed about 5000 blogs. (It's so bad that back when Google Reader still existed, I broke it in about two years after starting. This, in case you're a new blogger, is one of the reasons why I have 1000+ follows.)

The thing is that I only really realized the need for separating the blogs a bit sensibly after I broke my Google Reader and I've been putting off creating order ever since.

But last year, my more-often-than-not absence has dwindled to nothing because I can safely say I haven't been visiting enough people. So I thought, what better way to get out there than to go down my follow list and commenting on every single active blog I have on it? (And while unfollowing anything that hasn't been posted on in the past year or more.)

I'm trying to see how many I can visit before April, because I've entered three of my blogs for the Challenge. (Still need to decide what I'll be writing about.) I really really want to meet some new bloggers. But before I do, I'd really really like to actually be able to find them again later.

Then I changed something else today. I noticed a big drop in my comments from yesterday to today. (Which is unusual for my blog. Not blowing my horn, but yours. You regular visitors are AWESOME.) Today while on my visit spree, I noticed that I'm having problems with getting to the comments page on Blogger if the comments pages are embedded. So now I've changed mine to a pop-up. If, for some reason, the comments don't work (or word verification - oh how I loathe those), please mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com to let me know.

In case you're wondering, I'll still be visiting people who commented on my posts. And if you haven't been commenting lately, I should be dropping by anyway at some point. Right now I'm at A. Don't laugh. I've already been through a whole lot of blogs starting with numbers and punctuation marks.

How many blogs do you follow? How do you maintain order?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sometimes, it's just necessary to talk to someone.

I've been having a frustrating couple of writing weeks centering around the third book in The War of Six Crowns. 

In case you've missed updates on it, I've had to re-draft it twice now. I haven't had time to mention that right before the house move came, I got seriously stuck. The moment I got past the re-introduction of the characters in the current draft, the wheels fell off spectacularly.

I just couldn't seem to make the book work in my head. It even got to the point where I was wondering whether I had to scrap the whole idea for what I had in mind for this book, which meant scrapping the whole rest of the series, because a significant amount of it depends on the events taking place right now.

Just like everything depends on the two first books.

And you know what? There comes a point where one's fears multiply to such a point that you can't even think straight about something. No amount of telling myself to be rational and just think things through helped. The moment I put serious thought into this book, any thoughts that might have been stewing away vanished and I was again left with nothing but a vague yet growing sense of panic.

So what's a girl to do? I went to the Untethered Realms Facebook group and said:

"I can't seem to make book three in my series work. *curls up into a sobbing little ball of misery.*"

Luckily Graeme Ing stepped in and offered to help. How? Basically by asking me a ton of questions about the first two books, then the third. 

It might sound silly, but it really helps. I think it's just the fact that writing out the answers for him required that at least at first, I had to stick with what I knew. Once there, I could focus on what I didn't know and needed. 

Scary thing: Everything that's not working comes from two causes: 1) I've been nitpicking just to add more problems to my process. (Panic does that. Creates problems where there aren't any so I have more reason to panic.) 2) I haven't yet figured out how to get two characters to meet. 

That second one... it's... well. Stupid. I've been panicking about something stupid. It's just that when one panics, it's not easy to get into perspective again. Talking to someone else puts things into perspective. Even if I'd talked other writers through their plot problems in exactly the same way. 

Sometimes, another set of ears is just necessary. 

Do you have another set of ears? No? Well, you have me. All you have to do is drop me a line. mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

I survived February and deserve a gold star

Guys. I can’t even begin to say thanks to everyone who left encouraging comments to my last post and those who kept me and my family in their thoughts and prayers. Truly, you are all awesome. Amazing. Wonderful.

And won't you believe it, I wanted to post this days ago, back when I would have been on time for my own bloghop, but my Internet (bad as it was) died and then we moved into a house that pretty much fell into our laps. (Never underestimate the value of warm water and proper electricity.)

Today, they installed our new, much improved Internet. And here I am. Very late for my own bloghop, but I'm posting anyway.

For those of you who don’t know, Beth Fred and I host a monthly bloghop. Basically, we and the other entrants have shared our crazy or just crazy important goals. We update on our progress and encourage each other on the last Friday of every month. If you’d like to join or to check out how everyone else is doing, click here.

Obviously, this sudden finding of and moving to a new house has made a dent in my plans, so I didn’t do as much as I’d wanted to. (Worth it, though.)

Here’s a rundown of my February goals and how I did with each:


1) Sort out covers for Wo6C1, Wo6C2 and BvB1.

Still a no, but at least I should be able to do *something* now that I have contact with the outside world. 

2) Finish copy-edits for BvB1

Done in theory, but I’m not really happy with BvB1 yet, so I’ll have to do another pass.

3) Rewrite Wo6C3 and the Untethered Realms Anthology Short.

Good news: I finished the short story. The bad news: while prepping the Wo6C3 rewrite the day after posting my goals, I discovered that for the second time, my edits had made the rough draft redundant. So now I’m drafting for the third time. Just can’t rewrite this story without it. Sigh.

4) Start with revisions to ES1

Didn’t get a chance to open the manuscript.

5) Write 50k words total, rewrites included. This means about 15k toward my rough drafts.

I wrote about 26k words total, of which about 15k words were toward rough drafts.

Visually, this is what February’s writing looked like:


1) Start reading Mansfield Park.

Finished it.

2) Start reading King Lear.

Didn’t get to it yet.

3) Read four other books.

I read five in total.

Social Media

Still delayed pending a proper Internet connection.

Should be able to get something done now. 


To continue with preparations etc. for the house building thing.

House building is shelved for the time being.

All things considered, I didn’t do too badly. It’s been rough, but I’m hoping that - now that things are going better – I’ll actually get even more done. March might be a bit tough on my goal achieving ways, so I’ll be happy if I get at least a few of these done:

Goals for March:


1) Sort out covers for Wo6C1, Wo6C2 and BvB1

2) Proofread Wo6C1 and Wo6C2.

3) Edit my Untethered Realms Anthology Short Story

4) Start Revising ES1

5) Rough draft 35k words.

6) Rewrite 15k words.

This is what I hope March will look like, writing-wise.


1) Start King Lear

2) Start a French book

3) Read four other books.

Social Media

1) Get back into a regular blog posting schedule.

2) Visit everyone who’ve been stopping by since the beginning of the year.

3) Prepare for the A to Z Challenge.


1) Finish applying for a government grant for my one business.

2) Finish crocheting a blanket for my room.

3) Do something else crafty. Painting, perhaps.

That’s it for me. Do you have any goals? How are you doing? What do you think of my red-walled room?