Getting back into the swing of things…

Isn’t it funny how suitable things fall together? I’m starting to write/edit and today is my 200th post! Exciting hey?

Don’t know which is more exciting, but for the purposes of today, we’ll say it’s the bit about writing/editing.

So yeah… Yesterday I couldn’t stand the wait, so I took the day off and gave me a crash course on editing. The book I read, while informative, wasn’t exactly the most applicable to creative writing, making me think of a gap in the market. Any takers?

Still, I’m about halfway through and picked up quite a few things. Main one being, how edits are supposed to work.

It also gave me an idea as to a strategy for the Doorways edits.

The book (Rewrite Right by Jan Venolia) talks about two stages in editing. I’m thinking there should be three for creative writers.

First, there should be a stage for the storyline. I have strings to stretch back or pull to the end. I have scenes requiring more depth. Emotions that need to be carried further, or not quite as far. That sort of stuff. I guess that’s the revisions always referred to.

Second, we have to improve content. Refine what’s been written.

Third, copy editing or correcting language issues.

Each one should be done separately, so that will be three rounds of edits.

As I finish chapters, I’ll let other people read them and point out whatever I’ve missed. When I’m done with round three, I’ll repeat, using the crit partner opinions.

After another three (hopefully shorter) rounds, I’ll do the print-out and hand read. Likely another two rounds.

Finally, I’ll be handing over to beta readers and polishing my WiP.

Hopefully after about 15 editing rounds, my book should be in a shape to send off into the big, wide world.

So that’s the plan for now. It’s likely to change as I work, but I felt a little better knowing that I have a strategy.

Anyone have any tips for me? This is new waters for me, so any advice will be most appreciated.

Acting for Writers

Good morning, blogosphere! My name is Laura M. Campbell, a mystery writer from Bucks County, PA. Today, the topic of my guest blog focuses on an acting technique you can employ to improve your writing. 
Let me start off by thanking Misha for allowing me to share the knowledge I acquired from the Pennwriters Conference in Pittsburgh here at My First Book blog.
Pennwriters, my first conference, forever changed me. The community between the authors, speakers and aspiring writers made for an exhilarating and inspirational experience. I absorbed everything possible during the three days and gladly share it with you. If anything catches your interest, please check out the links below.  
Under the tutelage of Kathleen George, published author and theatre professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and Kathryn Miller Haines, actor, mystery writer and award-winning playwright, I learned several acting techniques to enrich my writing to bring a more realistic reading experience to my stories.
Kathleen and Kathryn encouraged the seminar group to pull from our memories, similar to method acting, to create realistic character and scene portrayals to evoke the reader’s emotions and increase their investment in the story. I’m sure most of you do this already, so I won’t waste time explaining.
What I would like to dive into is Cross Purpose Improv. This technique put character interaction into perspective for me. On stage, two actors are separately given back-story and a goal they must accomplish in the scene for their character. Although the back-story is similar, each character interprets their status quo differently, creating two different goals. Accomplishing the goal, whether through dialogue and/or action, becomes the obstacle or conflict.  
Moving from the stage to the page, the reader is aware of both sides about to play out while the characters enter the scene unaware. Tension builds between the characters through the reader. The suspense builds while the characters attempt to reach their goals in the scene.
What’s the end result?
The reader continues on to discover which character reigns victorious. Depending on the characters method of reaching their goal, the Cross Purpose Improv technique can bring high drama or comedy to the story. Either way, your reader is hooked. Quality entertainment and enthralling reading experience is accomplished.
Looking back over your stories and novels, do you know any character interactions that could benefit from this acting technique? Or do you already employ it?
Interested in other seminars from the Pennwriters Conference? Check out these blogs:
Laura M. Campbell @ Writing Unleashed 
Alex @ Magpie Writes 

I’m a writer because…

I’m a little late today. Went to a brunch that stretched into the afternoon and only came back now. Still, it was lots of fun to get out of the house. 

Anyway, I’ve only read the introduction to the first book on writing so far and it made me think about what it is that makes us writers. For me it’s more than just writing every day. 

For me, writing forms a significant part of my identity. I am many things, but being a writer comes in chief among those things. 

I write even though it’s not always fun. Because it goes beyond that for me. It isn’t a hobby. For me, writing is something I need to do as regularly as I am able to, because it keeps me going in the most difficult of times. It’s a passion.   

Even when I’m nowhere close to a notebook or computer, I am writing. There are characters to get to know. Story lines to consider. So many little aspects that form the whole that gets onto the page eventually. Most of that doesn’t even feel like thinking. It doesn’t feel like work. To me it feels completely natural. In fact, I think I’d be uncomfortable if my mind completely stopped thinking about stories. It’s an obsession. 

So I’m a writer, because not writing would slowly drive me insane. 

Why do you write? What makes you a writer? 

Just a reminder that I’m looking for more guest posters for Fridays. Please contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com for more information and/or to book a spot.

Blog Day: Reciprocity and Building Relationships

Just a reminder that I’m looking for people to fill GPF slots. Please contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com for more information and to book.

Today might be the last blog day for now as I don’t think that people are enjoying the series or finding it that interesting. So today I’ll bring up something that’s really important to me.

Have you noticed that people on the blogosphere follow back? So a great way to get followers is to hit as many blogs as possible and follow them.

But what does the number of followers mean when none of them actually care who you are? Or if those people following doesn’t mean anything to you? Well… not much, really. There’s a whole community of bloggers out there who would love to get to know you. But like real life, friendships and relationships go both ways. If you do nothing, the relationship won’t grow. Simple as that.

Expecting people to comment on your blog while you do nothing is like expecting friends to call you while you never do.

And when you comment, show people you care. Writing comments that show that you’re trying to ramble something off on the way to the next blog, or comments that show that you didn’t even bother to read the post are worse than not commenting at all. So if you comment, make it mean something. If you can’t, skip out and come back on another post. Lots less damaging.

But don’t ever think that never commenting is a good idea. Have you ever opened your blog and saw that your posts drew zero comments? Doesn’t feel good, does it? Notice how great it feels to get lots of comments?

Well, then, don’t you think it would be nice of you to be the first to comment? And if you’re not the first, be the person that helps the blogger in question on their way to 20, 30 or a hundred comments.

Every comment counts to your relationship with other bloggers. So get yourself heard.

Anyone else love comments as much as I do? How do you go about commenting on people’s blogs?

My month off is nearing its end…

Hi all! I just want to check if anyone is interested in guest posting on the Fridays after June. The dates are wide open, but no-one seems to be biting. I’d love to have some more guests, so if you want to write a guest post about anything related to writing and/or the literary world, plug your book, anything, please follow my blog and let me know that you’re interested in booking a slot. My e-mail address is mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT) com.

So yeah… I am about to enter the last week before my break from writing is over and, while it was lots of fun to do nothing for a while, I’m now starting to feel the stirrings of that old, annoying niggle.

I’m bored.

Very bored. My mind has already started working on new ideas as well as for ways to improve Doorways. Now my hands are itching to get back to writing.

To me that means that now is a good time to do nothing.

Yep, you heard me. Nothing. It’s just stirring. I don’t care for stirrings. They wane and fade almost as soon as I start to address them.

No, I want to feel a rush when I touch my work. I want to feel that I can’t wait until I spend some time on ideas both old and new. So… more word fasting for me, at least until the end of the month.

In the mean time I’ve picked up two writing books, one about writing in general, the other about revising. I’m thinking about starting in on the latter. After all, Doorways is my priority.

So that’s me, feeling the urge to return to my writing, but resisting and distracting myself with other shiny things.

What are you up to? How’s your writing going? Have you ever taken a break after finishing a draft?

Also, I’d love to know if you guys want for me to share some of the things I learned from the two books I mentioned?

Dying to know.

A Room of My Own

Today, I want to introduce you to one of my new(er) bloggy friends, Francesca. I always head over to her blog for a refreshing look at another writer’s life. What can I say? I’m a bit of a voyeur. ;-P

Take it away, Francesca.  

A Room of My Own

I dream of a large desk in a clean, sunny room. The French doors are ajar, and a gentle breeze stirs the long white curtains. Outside there is a garden without weeds, and lots of lavender in bloom. Somewhere else in the house, someone is playing the piano. There is a glass of very cold Pinot Grigio next to me, and I sit at the desk, elegant and calm in white linen, and I write.

When Virginia Woolf writes about the room of her own that a creative woman needs, this is the image that comes to my mind. An extravagantly separate, magical space. No laundry in sight. No piles of bills, No dust. No inconvenient children and their times-tables or abandoned half-empty cups of juice. This imaginary space is a blank slate, and I alone am the writing on the wall.

It is utter fantasy. Even if I had such a room, within minutes, I would have spilled the wine down my front, or thrown a half-finished Friday crossword on the floor in frustration. Bees would fly in through the half-open doors and dive bomb my spilled wine. The piano-player would get fed up with Chopin and start banging out Chopsticks. I would remember something I absolutely had to do. Or I would need the bathroom. Or coffee.

Point is, there’s no perfect space and time to write. Waiting for that space – either physical or mental – is futile. You write in the moments between making peanut butter sandwiches and googling Uglydolls. You daydream while driving to the supermarket, and maybe catch the tail of a really yummy new idea. You call writing twenty words success, if that’s all there was time for. Twenty words is something. It’s not waiting. It’s doing.

As I write this, my eight-year-old daughter has crawled into bed beside me. “I won’t talk to you,” she says. But she is wiggling around like, well, like a child in her parent’s bed, and it’s distracting as hell. But I’m still writing. I am so tired my eyes feel like frying meatballs. And I’m still writing. Earlier tonight, I watched the episode of Doctor Who that Neil Gaiman wrote and felt inadequate as a wordsmith and storyteller, and jealous that I will in all likely never get to write an episode of Doctor Who. And I’m still writing.

No desk. No lavender. No white linen. Lukewarm tea and sheets that could probably stand to go into the washer. Yet, I dream of a large desk in a clean, sunny room, and know that I carry that room with me. It is my permission to write, And it is all my own.

Thank you for such a lovely post Francesca! 

If you are interested in a Guest Post Friday slot, all you need to do is follow my blog and send me a post related to writing, books or the literary world. From July, all Fridays are open, so contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com if you are interested. I can’t wait to hear from you! 

Today, we have a winner!

Before I announce the winner, I just want to apologize for my inactivity lately. I’ve been busy with the rest of my life this week, so I haven’t been able to visit any blogs. Including those of the people that commented on mine. I feel terrible about that, but right now, the other aspects of my life take precedence. I will get back to visiting blogs on Monday.

Ok then… on to the point of today’s post.


And the winner is:


Robin Ingle!

Congrats, Robin, please contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com as soon as you can to claim your prize.

Blog Day: Comments

Hi all! Just want to let you know that the competition for The Story Book by David Baboulene will be closing at midnight CAT, so if you haven’t entered yet, you better hurry. 😉

For those of you who missed my earlier Wednesday posts, Blog Day is a series giving tips on improving blogs. While I don’t call myself a professional, I have been to hundreds of blogs (over a thousand in fact) and have picked up a lot of do’s and don’ts.

To me, there are exactly two rules to blogging that have to be applied in a way that benefits the blog. First one is BE YOURSELF. The other is THINK OF YOUR AUDIENCE. They always have to be weighed against each other when making a decision in blogging.

Today I want to apply the rules to comments and commenting.

First: Should there even be a comments section? Yes. If for no other reason, because about 99% percent of blogs have them. It’s an expectation in the blogging community. Blogs aren’t supposed to be preaches. They’re supposed to be conversations. Dialogues. Not monologues. You and the reader. Never just you.

And as far as I know, I’ve never met a member of the blogging community that relishes the lack of a comments section.

Still, dialogues bring me to another point. Dialogues. Comments sections are going to be somewhat pointless if you don’t give your reader something to think about, or a chance to form an opinion. Yes, it’s great to get complements of: “Love this post.” “Well said!” “Congrats.” “Well done!”. I count them as feathers in my cap. Love complements.

But if they’re the only comments I’m getting, somethings wrong.That dialogue aspect to the post is lacking. So if you want to hear your readers’ opinions, if you want to learn what they’re thinking, make it easy for them to find something to say.

How? Ask questions. Lots of them. Try to find a common ground, but settle for learning about readers likes and dislikes. How they think. How they’re feeling. It’s so important, given that blogs are a way to build relationships. If you don’t talk to them and don’t find out who your readers are, how are you going to get to know them?

What else makes you comment on blog posts?

Blog Tour Featuring Maria Zaninni

Hi all! I’m giving the blog over to Maria today as part of her blog tour to market her new book: Apocalypse Rising. Without any further ado, I’ll let Maria’s words do the talking.

Subtle World Building

I think the hardest thing for a writer to do when world building is remaining invisible. When I read, I don’t want to feel the author over my shoulder. I don’t want to see the footprints of the creator.

Have you ever read a scene where your eyes start to glaze over and you found yourself skimming ahead to the ‘good parts’? Whenever that happens to me, I ask myself: Why did I skip ahead? What did the author do to lose me here?

Often times, it was too much narrative, description, introspection or dialog. It forced me as the reader to become aware of the author and what s/he was trying to accomplish.

As the author, I don’t want you to know I exist. I don’t want to be on your radar. If you’re not immersed in the story, then I’ve left too many of my footprints and failed you.

When an author intrudes on the story, it makes the reader feel as if the author doesn’t trust him to ‘get it’. I’d rather err on the side of caution and say too little to keep you intrigued, than say too much and destroy the fantasy.

Every once in a while I come across a complex scene in my books where I want to explain more, but I try to resist the urge to intervene. Though I’ll run the risk that some readers won’t get it, I’m betting most will. And those are the people I’m writing for.

So what makes the author obvious in his world building?

• Describing too deeply—or too often.
Solution: Tell the reader only what he needs to know at that moment in the story.

• Authorial intrusion—where the author explains something the character knows so well that it would never come up in a normal conversation or narrative.
Solution: Whenever you need to explain a bit of world building to the reader, use lateral moves. In the first Harry Potter book, many times the reader learns about Hogsworth at the same time Harry does. We are moving through the story together.

• Explaining something the character wouldn’t know, but the reader needs to understand.
Solution: Say I want to explain a device that sends subliminal messages. Rather than delivering a long physical account, show the effects. The character could start perspiring, his eyes will flare and he’ll rub his temples vigorously as if he were trying to rub something out. Little by little the reader will start to piece things together—without the dreaded info-dump.

Aim for the art of subtle narrative, to be so invisible that you leave no footprints—only clues.

Do you ever skim when you read? Can you recall why you did?

Bio: Maria Zannini used to save the world from bad advertising, but now she spends her time wrangling chickens, and fighting for a piece of the bed against dogs of epic proportions. Occasionally, she writes novels. 

Apocalypse Rising blurb: The only place to hide was in the past. Leda and Grey have one chance to escape a madman and that’s through a portal to a time before the apocalypse. But nothing has prepared them for 21st century culture, and every misstep draws them closer to the End Times. The world is teetering on extinction, and they may very well be the cause of it.

Warning: Dark demons, Elementals, witches, and a hero with one woman too many. 

Apocalypse Rising is the sequel to Touch Of Fire. I hope you’ll try them both.

Follow me on my blog:


Thanks again, Maria. Best of luck with the rest of your blog tour!

Anyone have issues when describing your worlds? How do you solve them?

What happened to me this week-end…

Firstly, sorry that I didn’t post on Friday, as I was supposed to. Went to visit friends earlier than scheduled over the whole weekend.

And… it worked out great for me. Why? Because I got to visit friends I don’t see all that often. I got out of the house a bit…

And… sorted out the story idea that I’ll be working on for the foreseeable future.

It’s actually an idea that floated around for about two years, with me not sure about how I’d apply it. I know the sort. Those “wouldn’t it be cool if…” ideas. The scenario is attractive, but the story, characters, premise and end are lacking.

I decided to try my hand at this story in the beginning of the month, but couldn’t even finish the first chapter. I just didn’t have enough to go on.

So… I spent most of Friday afternoon playing a computer game and visiting with my friends. Nothing seemed to pop up until I was about to close my eyes in slumber. The idea again took the form of… “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”, but as I was about to put the useless thought away and sleep, I realized that my this idea fit beautifully into the story I mentioned above.

The rest still lacked, leaving me with a pretty much sleepless night. When I woke up the next morning, I talked  to my friend about the idea and we started to bounce ideas around while making breakfast. It took until 5 minutes into the meal for me to get a flash of inspiration.

I now have a pretty good idea where I’m going, and wow, am I excited about it! I haven’t worked on a new idea for so long that this one is giving me that old buzz.

Can’t wait to get to work!

How was your weekend? When was the last time inspiration hit you? How did it hit?