I decided to try something new…

Hi all! Just want to remind you all about the competition for Treasures of Carmelidrium. You have until next week Wednesday to enter.

Now I feel free to continue with my blog post.

I have finally touched my toe to the water again. After many distractions (main one being a charming book called The Sword in the Stone), I decided that today is D-Day.

But… I have decided to give another strategy a try.

Usually, I write and write and write for hours on end. Sometimes I write around 5000 words a day. But then I started to think. At about 2500 words I get tired and the last words come out much more slowly. I mean… I take roughly 2 hours to write the first 2500 words. I take about 4 to get the second half done. Then I stop because my mind struggles with more.

It’s kind of like sprinting over a long distance. Yes, I get a lot done fast. But past a certain point, I am forced to stop by the burn in my lungs and the fatigue in my muscles.

On the other hand… I also know that I can run a lot further by running full speed for a shorter distance, taking a restful walk, sprinting walking etc.

So I was wondering if I can’t apply that to my writing. I mean. It took me just over 40 minutes to finish 1100 words. So… if I spend 20 on something else, will I be able to get the other 1000 done in more or less the same time?

And if I do, will I be able to get the same word count done in the next session?

Most importantly, will I be able to maintain the flow in my writing?

So… I decided to test my writing this week. I want to see if I can maintain high daily word counts without burning out.

What do you think are the odds?

How do you write? Long sprints like me? Or do you write shorter bits with regular breaks?

Brainstorming Character Development

Hi all! Please give a warm welcome to Shannon. Her blog, On Writing: Voyeuristic Explorers Unite, has a bit of everything from reviews to some insights on what to ponder when writing. I am particularly enjoying her posts about brainstorming her new novel.

Which is why I am so thrilled that she sent me this post…

Brainstorming Character Development

How well do we know our characters, really?

That’s the question I ask myself whenever I sit down to write or edit my work. There are many techniques you can use to find out the superficial details and basic opinions, but it’s a lot of work to really understand the characters better than they understand themselves. What do they want? I mean, really want? And more importantly, why?

The biggest trouble with diving down into the core of the character is that it’s easy to get sidetracked by our own schemas (structured clusters of pre-conceived ideas). Schemas can lead us to apply stereotypical responses to our characters and make basic assumptions that make them more stereotypical at a base level. I could design a focused and career driven woman, let’s call her Bridget, who wants to make it in a man’s world and shrugs off the trappings of femininity. She’s strong, calm, collected, late middle-aged, works as a CEO of a large corporation, loves to golf, is happily married, and has three children. She doesn’t mind getting dirty and prefers rough and tumble to anything else. In and of herself, she isn’t a stereotype although her dislike of all things feminine is a fairly common trope for characters working in a Man’s World.

But if I turn around and say ‘Oh, she resents reminders of her femininity because her parents always wanted a son and ignored her’ or ‘because her parents always wanted a son and so they pretended she was their son’, you’re taking the easy option. True, it happens, and it might be the right answer for this character, but can you be sure if you don’t brainstorm other possibilities?

What if she was a very feminine child but realised that trappings of femininity really reduced your chances of business success and just made a very prudent decision? What if she always gravitated toward so-called masculine hobbies, had more male friends, and therefore just happened to be more comfortable surrounded by masculine trappings? You could even have the whole ‘raised in a big family of brothers’ though that’s still a more common trope for tomboy women. Perhaps she’s actually very power-hungry and originally tried to coerce people as an ultra-feminine girl but found that no one took her seriously so she adapted her behavior? Or maybe her mother was just the same as her and it’s just a family tradition?

Some of you may be wondering if it even matters why she’s more masculine and whether you should mention it. The answer to the first part is that it never hurts to know the reasons behind why your character does what she does. The answer to the second part is: perhaps not. However, the reasons driving your character’s actions will manifest in subtle ways and even if it’s not overtly stated, you can change a lot about how a character behaves and talks just by changing the fundamental driving mechanisms behind key character traits.

So give it a go. Brainstorm. Question. Wonder just what might have made your character into the person they are today. Clues can be found at any point of their lifespan or even in the lifespans of the generations who came before them.

What do you have to lose?
Thank you again for you’re insightful post, Shannon!
Before I go, I want to remind you that I have Friday spots open from June. Drop me a line if you want to take part. My e-mail address it mishagericke@gmail.com (mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com).
Also, remember to enter the competition for Treasures of Carmelidrium!
And finally, I have been interviewed for the first time! Click here if you want to read it.

Where the timezone difference ruined my plans.

Remember where I mentioned that I’m posting elsewhere today?

Well… no. It seems that it will happen in your today and my tomorrow. Living at least 9 hours ahead can suck like that.

Stupid of me not to think about it – given that I work with foreigners all day.

Anyway… I haven’t planned to post anything today, but –

Darrion: (Clears throat) No… You spent all day reading other people’s blogs. And… shopping.
Me: Yes. I am very well aware-
Him: When you should have been writing. 
Me: What was I supposed to do? Tell my mother no to shopping?
Him: Shopping… Me… Shopping… Me… Is this question rhetorical?
Me: But it’s my mom. And shopping.
Him: Your point?
Me: Believe it or not, I do have a life that doesn’t involve you.
Him: (Smirks) Not much of one. You’re always thinking of the story. The one you’re not busy writing.
Me: Yes but –
Him: And you’re not writing it now either. Are you?
Me: No.
Him: Haul it. We’re getting you writing tonight.

Sigh… This is what I put up with.

Talk to you again soon! Don’t forget to enter the competition to win Treasures of Carmelidrium.

UPDATE: My real post is on Jenna Quentin’s blog. As it happens, it expands on the influence that characters have on my writing….  

N.R. Williams: Treasures of Carmelidrium (and a competition)

Hi all! It is my huge pleasure to welcome N.R. Williams to my blog. She’s dropped by to tell us more about her book, Treasures of Carmelidrium. She is a wonderful person and a great blogger, so don’t hesitate to go over there and say hi. Give her lots of love. 😉
But before I give over to her, I want to say thanks to all 300 of my bloggy friends. I feel very honored and humbled to know that my posts are reaching so many people. I hope that you all find some value in what I have to say.

To say thank you, I will host my first ever giveaway!

Nancy has been kind enough to let me give Treasures of Carmelidrium to one lucky bloggy friend.

For 1 entry, all you need to do is leave a comment.
For 1 bonus point: Answer this question: If you could go to another world, what would you take with you and why?
Then: 1 bonus point each if you link me to your tweet/blog/wherever else where you spread the word.

Closing date is 9 March.

OK… Take it away Nancy!

Thank you, Misha, for letting me grace your blog to talk about my newly released e-book, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

My book is an epic fantasy. It begins here in the state of Colorado, U.S.A., when my heroine, Missie, performs her flute in the University auditorium for a mid-term grade. Her professor is unusually fond of her and delays her departure. Afterwards, she accompanies her friend to the student union, a campus hang-out with food.

This scene is designed to do three things. Introduce Missie to the readers as an unusually talented musician. It gives a foreshadow of things to come when her professor grabs her arm to stall her departure and it shows how Missie feels about the opposite sex when her friend tries to set her up with a blind date.

Missie is so focused on her goals that everything else in her life is on hold. The last thing she wants is to be side tracked into a medieval world with a dashing and charismatic prince. In the beginning, she doesn’t accept any of it as real, but soon learns that it is as real as anything in her life.

She is attacked by the symberveen, a monster with psychic powers to send nightmares and disable their victims. Ravens have a habit of dive bombing her and to peck away. Nasty little birdies. Unicorns visit to give a little help now and then. Giant eagles decide, Missie, looks yummy. (That may not be totally accurate, hehe). The elves are mysterious and show up unexpectedly. The villain is an obsessive, jealous guy with lots of darkness creeping about the corners of his mind. So, what’s a girl to do? The flute holds many answers for, Missie.

If I have succeeded to make you curious, you can read the first chapter on my blog. You’ll see it in the pages section. I’ve also posted all the reviews I’ve found so far.

I’ll stop by all day to read your comments and respond.

N. R. Williams (Nancy)

Thank you for stopping by, Nancy.

So, ladies and gents, I know I am very interested to see what happens to Missie. Aren’t you? So get creative and maximise your entries! I can’t wait to see what you all come up with. ^_^

What’s happening from tomorrow?

Hi all! To all of my old friends, thanks and welcome back. To all my new friends, welcome.

I am trying very hard to get around to everyone’s blogs, but it gets a little hairy, considering that I am following in excess of 400 of them.

In short… I need a system. Sooo… Any of you have any suggestions? I have one in mind, but I’m not sure if it will work. What works for you?

Then, I just want to give you guys a heads-up on how  things will work from now until Saturday…

Tomorrow, I have a surprise guest post and a competition.

On Thursday, I have my first ever guest post, so please please go support me.
Promise? OK!

Finally, We have yet another installment of Friday Guest Posts.

So… Lots to see and do. I hope that you all enjoy it.

While we are still moderately close to the GPF posts, please go check in the toolbar and sign up. I have 27 March and every Friday after that open. For those that are new to the blog, the topics are open, as long as it is related to writing and/or the literary world. I ask only that you click to follow my blog.

No wait… one more thing. Probably the most important.

I just want to say: To all of you with friends and family in Christchurch, I keep all of you in my prayers.

I’m getting there.

Despite all my efforts, all my pep talks and all attempts, I have been stalled in my writing for some time.

At first it was fear.

I was paralyzed by the scope of the story I’m writing. But I slowly talked myself out of the frenzy. While my story is terrifying, I am the writer. As such, I am the one that gets the story told. So the Beast may snarl at me all it wants. I am its boss. I own it.

It is my pet.

But just as I settled into this new perception of my relationship with my writing, my muse upped and left me high and dry. I think there is a very good reason for this. Namely: Apple season. I get so bogged down in my job that I haven’t any consecutive hours available. Those I have are spent on other commitments.

Of course, my muse returned after she realized that her little tantrum was going largely unnoticed.

This means that I feel it stirring. That desire to sit down with my characters and just talk. I want to know more about them. What makes them happy? What makes them angry? What made them what they are today?

I am becoming painfully aware that I let up right after the start of the adventure. The knowledge that my one storyline is largely unexplored is niggling at me.

In short… it is a matter of time before I open my word processor and start writing.

In fact… I can feel the coming of a flood.

Anyone else expecting the dam to burst after a while spent not writing? Do you see this as a good or a bad thing?

I feel so loved!

I really feel loved this week. Not only did this blog cross the 250 person mark, but I got not one, but TWO Stylish Blogger awards!

So, thanks to all of my new Bloggy Friends. I hope you feel welcome and that you will enjoy your visits here.

Then, I want to thank E.C. and Cher for giving me the awards.

So, for the award, I need to:

  1. Link back to the award givers.
  2. State Seven things about myself.
  3. Pass on the award to 15 recently discovered bloggers.

But I was thinking. Yesterday, I stated some facts about myself, so… Today I will clarify which one was the untruth.

Bonus Fact: I am descended from Paul Kruger. If you want to know why this is awesome, google Paul Kruger and Anglo-Boer War. Those were the days when we were a nation of badasses. ^_^

Now, on to the Crusade Challenge…

1) I do tribute the Three Musketeers by wearing my foil at my side. (For the non-fencers out there, foils are the thin-light stabbing swords used in fencing.) If I am at competitions, I never put my sword down. It goes through the eyelet used to attach the electrics in bouts. As a point of interest, both my swords have names.

2) I am fiercely loyal when it comes to friends. People that try to hurt me usually go away worse off. People that try to hurt my friends might not leave at all. Kidding! I draw a line at things that would land me in jail. ;-P

3) My most precious material possession is a gold ring with a fresh water pearl. And yes, it was smelted out of my Grandfather’s wedding ring. If you are wondering how, let me mention that his fingers were so thick that two rings came out of it. The other one went to my cousin.

4) Yes, I am a constant fidgiter. So I tap all the time. Right now, I am tapping away at the keyboard while jerking my knees from side to side.

5) I was twelve when I started to treat my hair. At that time my hair was starting to darken, so I started to use treatments to keep it light. By the time I was thirteen, I had progressed to dye. If you are wondering why, the colour that runs in our family is a sort of ash blond that is more ash than blond. An awful color that I didn’t want to risk. At sixteen, I grew tired of the blond and went auburn. Never looked back. 😀

6) So…. Number six was the untruth. Yes, I do love the Three Musketeers, but I loved the story before I could read. I came to love it passionately when I read the unabridged version at the tender age of eight. By the time it was prescribed in high school, I was annoyed because they cut out some very important scenes.   And yes.

I read it by myself.

In a week.

It was my first book written for adults.

My librarian was flabbergasted when I took out Dickens after that. 

To make this more unbelievable, I read the unabridged Death of King Arthur when I was ten.

But that is a story for another day.

Now… On to my recently discovered bloggers…

Project Fraeya

So… what book was the first book that you read that was aimed at adults?  

Crusader Challenge 1

Anyone still don’t know what this is about? Go check out Rach’s blog… In the mean time, I am required to post more about me…

In less than 300 words. *Gulp*

  • If I carry my foil loose, I always carry it at my side – a tribute to the Three Musketeers.
  • I am fiercely loyal when it comes to friends.
  • We I turned eighteen, my mother gave me a ring, that was given to her on her eighteenth and was made out of my Grandfather’s wedding ring.
  • I tend to tap body-parts and things in my hands.
  • I was twelve the last time I saw my natural hair color.
  • I loved the Three Musketeers since I read it in High School.

And…. Just because: Bloviate, Fuliguline, Rabbit, Blade…

Hahaha how was that for out of the box?

Anyway, I have revealed something about me that isn’t strictly true. Can you guess what it is?

Strong Female Protagonists

Another installment of GPF. I think that this lady needs no introduction. Golden is one of the first blogs that I started to follow when I started to hang around here. Her blog: The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective features some very interesting posts, so if you have never been there, start clicking over. 🙂

Strong Female Protagonists:

Many times I’ve come across books with an interesting concept, a strong plot, and a weak female protagonist, or some other mix. Usually it is because she is too dependent on the other character(s), is too weak emotionally and/or physically, or just doesn’t have the determination to really tackle the challenges she faces. If there’s a weak protagonist who could have been stronger and more of person who stands on her own two feet, I often wonder why wasn’t she that way?

Why are there so few strong, independent protagonists out there? I don’t know—but I’m here to give you a few things to think about if your Main Character happens to be female.

Often, Kristin Cashore’s Graceling is brought up as having a strong protagonist—and for very good reason. Two other notables are Diana Ladris from Michael Grant’s Gone Series and Deryn Sharp from Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series.

What makes them such great characters?

I consider it to be two things: determination and independence.

For example, Katsa (from Cashore’s Graceling) is a young woman who can stand on her own. Not only does she know how to fight and survive, she has friends, she falls in love, and she keeps those people close—but she can still be independent. I’m not a champion of her almost anti-marriage ideas (most people don’t live in that kind of strict society, anyway) but it does show how she doesn’t overly depend—physically and emotionally—on the people around her.

Diana Ladris (from Grant’s Gone Series) is another kind of strong female character. She’s not on the good side, but that doesn’t change the fact she’s a determined, independent character—she knows what she wants, and she does everything she can (even shaving her head and going into enemy territory) to get it. She doesn’t let people push her around, either; if they do, then there are consequences. Diana isn’t the noble, lovable hero like Katsa, but she is a strong female character.

Deryn Sharp (from Westerfeld’s Leviathan Trilogy) is another kind of protagonist. Forced to disguise herself as boy to join the British Air Service, she goes through the training and the tests to pursue her dream; she doesn’t let even her gender get in the way of what she wants to do. She has to keep up her disguise and hide the fact she’s a girl aboard an almost completely-male airship—and she continues to hold her own throughout the story, tackling the challenges of being in the Air Service as her country faces war and even making friends among the crew, passengers, and other people she meets along the way.

These three are only a few examples of strong female protagonists. There are many more out there, and I’ll probably find another one soon after this post is published, in some book I hadn’t reached before. But even though they’re all different characters, they still have two defining characteristics: determination and independence. Those two factors are very important if your female character is to be strong and able to take on the problems that come her way.

Have you ever felt that a female character could have been stronger? Do you have any female protagonists in your story(ies)? Do you agree with the characters I highlighted? Got any examples of female characters you think fit the bill?
Thanks again, Golden!
Remember that I have open slots from May onwards, so if you want to book a Friday, drop me a line at mishagericke@gmail.com (mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com).


Hi all! Remember to drop by tomorrow for another exciting installment of GPF! If you want to join in the fun, please mail me at mishagericke@gmail.com (mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com) to book a post.

So, let’s get back to today’s post, where I am doing something very different….

I am looking for a bit of advice today….

As you know, I have now started with crit partners. I have found it very enlightening and enjoyed critting other’s ms’s. But now I have received my crits and have to wonder.

Do I rework my ms to fix the errors pointed out? Or do I continue writing the story to get my rewrite done?

What, in your opinion, are the pros and cons to each?