Announcing the Title, the Winner, and My Progress

As some of you might know, my upcoming book’s title has changed. I ran a small competition where everyone had to guess a letter until the name was revealed. Which was done quite quick, I might add. 🙂

So without further ado, my soon-to-be released title is: 

The War of Six Crowns: The Vanished Knight

And the winner, picked by is: 

S.P. Bowers!

Congrats! And thank you to all who played along.

Okay. So… Today is Update Day for the Big Dreams Bloghop, which means I get to regale all who are interested with stories of my progress. 

Here’s what I did in August: 
  1. Finished the rough draft to book three in The War of Six Crowns series. 
  2. Saw a graphic designer who’ll be helping me create a brand and image for said series. 
  3. Finished the content and structural edits to The Vanished Knight. We are officially in copy edits, people. 
  4. Wrote half of Birds vs Bastards. 
I’m still waiting on the ITIN, which is putting a serious wrinkle in my plans. The reason for this is that without that number, I can’t publish. So I’m really sitting on needles in the mean time. Without the ITIN, I don’t have a fixed publishing date. And without a fixed publishing date, I can’t arrange for blog tours and the like. Sigh. 
Because the ITIN puts things out of my control at the moment, I won’t be setting any fixed goals with regards to The Vanished Knight. Besides, the edits will be done when the edits are done. In the mean time, I’m eagerly awaiting the production of my first ever book cover. 
The main goal I have for September is to finish the Birds vs Bastards rewrite. As soon as that’s done, I’ll have to clear my head and get back into draft mode. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish one more rough draft by mid-October. But I’ll probably end up drafting right through November as well… 
Depending, of course, on whether or not I’m publishing during that time. Hm. 
But yep, that’s pretty much where I am at the moment. 
How are you doing on your big goals? If you haven’t signed up, please do. No dreams are too insane, too big or too small. 

How to Become a Great Writer

Before I start today’s post, I just want to do a few reminders. Firstly, don’t forget to nominate someone for the Paying Forward Awards! And then, if you haven’t yet, please go guess a letter for my title reveal. I’ve also posted a clue, to make things easier. There are only five letters left, and I’ll be revealing the title tomorrow, along with the winner of a $50 Amazon voucher. So get on it. 😉

And now, back to the post.

How to Become a Great Writer 

Last week, I did a post on what makes a writer. I’m seeing this as a continuation of that line of thought. 
See, anyone who loves a story has the innate ability to create one. 
But to create a story is actually a tiny part of the process. Good writing actually doesn’t come from the writing. Writing is to get the ideas down. Editing is where you’ll become good. 

Good writers are people who understand the craft of writing. So you’ll need to learn plot. You’ll need to learn characterization. You’ll need to understand why an adverb is never a good idea when a strong verb exists. You’ll need to know what “strong verb” means. You need to know how to heighten stakes. And where real conflict comes from. And… grammar.

The good news is, any writer learns as he/she writes and edits. 

The bad news is, any writer will first need to work on a few stories that suck. I wrote seven unfinished drafts before the one I’m going to publish.

So to become a great writer, first become a writer. Write every day. Get into way of thinking where you’ll think in terms of the story and how you can make it good. (BTW, this is something that happens automatically as you learn.) Start with what you’ve picked up from the books you’ve read. What sort of character do you like? What’s the worst thing that can happen to him? That’s a pretty good start to a story. 

If your story doesn’t work out, that’s okay. You’ll probably find that you have an even better idea. Better yet, you now know not to make the same mistake as in the previous draft. 

Once the book’s done and you’ve done your first edits, get a second opinion. Either get critique partners or an editor. Or both. I like CPs because one, in editing someone else’s work, can learn a lot about what makes a great story. 

If you can take the critique you’ll get, see for yourself where you went wrong, and fix those mistakes, then you’ll be well on your way to greatness.

I reiterate: 

Greatness comes from learning from your mistakes. 

What do you think is a sign of greatness in a writer?

Sometimes, I need to rearrange the furniture in my head.

Ever since I’ve gone and set my goal, I’ve realized that I needed to change my approach to writing.

I still pick what I want to do and when, but I pretty much always need to do something.

Fortunately, there’s a lot to do. To illustrate. This is a long term list of  everything I want to get done so far:




Every single one of those highlighted abbreviations stand for books I want to write, edit or publish. The red, yellow and green show me my priorities. Green’s what I’m doing at the moment, yellow’s what I want to do in the near future and red’s for things I want to do, but that can or must wait for a bit longer. Either way, my list is growing.

In the past six weeks, I’ve added three more ideas to the list of concepts: HM, SS1 and SS2. SS1 and SS2 are two books in a series. I dreamed something that’s kickstarted a concept the night before last. Usually I just ignore my dreams, but for some reason, the more I ignore this one, the less I can think of anything else. So I gave in and SS is now a concept I’m trying to actively work on. In between my rewrite to BvB.

At least, now that I’ve decided to put more thought into the concept right now, it feels like it’s letting up enough for me to finish the rewrites. Phew.

Since I know some of you will want to know what the abbreviations stand for:

Wo6C is for The War of Six Crowns. So Wo6C1 is in fact the book I’m in the process of editing for publishing. (Remember to help reveal the title! I even made it easy for you.)
BvB is for Birds vs Bastards, which is just a working title for my high concept urban fantasy.
O is for Otto, the main character in the dystopian I wrote for last year’s NaNoWriMo.

The others… well… Guess you’ll have to wait and see. 😉

Do you also keep track of what you’ve worked on/are working on? Do you also feel the need to shift some priorities around as you go?

A Paying Forward Update and Some Clues to the Title Reveal

Hey all! I thought I made things easy, for my title reveal, but no one wants to pick certain letters. So in the interest of revealing my title sometime this week, I’ll give some clues to the remaining words…

My clue:  
Headwear for kings, 
Horse heads in chess
and a disappearance after the fact. 
Now much easier to guess. 
Hope that helps. If you haven’t guessed a letter yet, go do. I’m offering a $50 Amazon voucher as prize for one lucky guess (even if you were wrong). 
Speaking of help, helping to make people’s day is a bit hard this month, since no one seems to want to nominate people for the paying forward awards. As such, I’ll be extending the deadline. Please please please go here to nominate someone.

A Thank You, An Announcement and a $50 Prize Voucher

Hey all! I’m so seriously excited. Not only did I hit 1000 GFC follows, but I got the go ahead to make an announcement I’ve been dying to share.

Sadly, no official release date yet and no cover. Instead, I can announce that Doorways will be published under a better, more epic sounding name.

But as a show of my gratitude and because I’m just a tad evil, I decided I’m going to make you guys work for the title. I’m going to give you spaces, and you need to guess the letters. I’ll fill in the correct letters one at a time. So if there’s a repeat letter, I’m not slotting it in again before someone guesses the letter a second time. Only one guess per person and one letter per guess, please!

Once all the letters are filled in, I’ll enter all the people who guessed (whether they guessed right or wrong) into a draw and the winner will get a $50 Amazon voucher.

Please please please spread the word! The more the merrier, right?

Okay. Here are the spaces: 

The War of Six Crowns: The Vanished Knight

Get guessing!

But before I go, I just want to say thank you. Your advice and support have meant so much to me. It has been an honor to get to know you. 

Standing Behind David and Michael

I’m not going to say much today. Just that I read this today.

For those of you wondering what that link is for: It leads to a website for a book I was seriously looking forward to.

See… I read the query for that book during last year’s WriteOnCon. And of ALL the books’ queries I critiqued (and I saw quite a few), Woven was the one I most wished would get a deal.

And it had. Except the publisher withdrew it. Because one of its authors, Michael insisted his bio be treated the same as David. Even though Michael is gay.

Now. I’m not going to discuss sexuality and the rights and wrongs of who goes with who. (Not really my business.) But I will say this.

Acting like anyone is somehow less than someone else because he’s different is wrong.

A human is a human.

The equality of man is supposed to be considered self-evident. I stand by that belief.

And as such, I will not ever do business with that publishing house. In fact, I’ll even think twice before even buying anything they publish. Maybe some of you will think this is extreme of me, but I live in a country that still carries the scars from having had people see others as less than them.

Inequality and discrimination does untold damage. Far beyond what those inflicting it can imagine. And I refuse to stand by and support it. In any form.

Paying Forward Awards: Nominations are Open

Hey all, it’s that time again. I have eight prizes available for some wonderful people. However, I’m realizing that giving them away in single categories at a time makes for even counting, I’m going to keep going that.

So. This month’s category is:

Inspiring People

Who inspires you? Who makes you want to do better? Who makes you think that you can achieve those goals you have?

Let me know by e-mail. I won’t accept nominations in the comments, since I like that they’re anonymous.

Please make “Nomination” the subject and include their blog address and/or their contact details. My address is mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

If we have enough nominees, you the readers get to vote for the winners next Monday. If not, I’ll announce who wins.

Thanks again, to everyone who supports my efforts to make someone’s day!

In which I give my two cents on what makes a real writer.

I know I said I’d open up nominations today, but I decided this is a bit more important.

See there’s this little discussion going around on google plus about what makes someone a real writer.

Here’s the highlights of what people said that I’ve read before I decided to write this. And hey, maybe it’s completely unnecessary. I have no idea how many new writers come to my blog.

But I guess you all figured out that I have a heart for helping them. I love encouraging people to write. I love giving advice on stuff I’ve learnt that helps them to crack stuff that took me years. Because honestly, I know that the stuff I write on plot, structure, characterization etc. doesn’t really interest the veteran writers. They know all this already.

The thing is, being a writer, in its purest form, is dedication to writing.

It’s not about you writing like me. Or me writing like you.

It’s not about writing the perfect first draft.

It’s not about a deep knowledge of grammar. It’s not about having a huge and obscure vocabulary.

It’s about dedication to the craft. It’s about writing until you want to cry because you don’t think the story will end. And then, it’s about writing some more until you do get there. All that stuff about having a good manuscript, and fixing grammar, and picking the better word to say exactly what you mean, the way you mean it, come later.

All that stuff, even if you can write like Mark Twain or Ernest Hemingway or whoever, doesn’t make you a writer any more than putting icing over a brick turns it into a cake.

What makes you a writer, is wanting to write when you can’t. And writing whenever you can. Even if it means giving up t.v. time or sleeping an hour later.

Yes, there are some writers who are better than others. That is determined by the icing I mentioned. So I’m not saying that it’s wise to publish without editing. I am saying that you should learn how to build a story around a structure.

But don’t put off writing until after you’ve learnt. You’ll never learn the perfect amount of writing knowledge. There’s nothing that will qualify you as a writer.

Except. For. Writing.

Thanks for reading.

Let’s talk about world building.

Before I start today, I just want to let you know that I’ve been invited to join the bloggers of Untethered Realms. I know most of them, and know that they’re seriously talented, so I do hope you’ll go check out what they’re doing…

But for today, I want to write about plot.

Until last night, I thought I was a character driven writer. But then I sat through a fantasy world building hangout, and spent the whole time repeating the same mantra in my head. (I couldn’t turn it off.)

How would it be relevant to the plot? 

The thing is, I know that nothing technically has to be relevant. Some people make a lot of money off books with slow plots. I can’t slam them.

Personally, I like my plots thick and fast. Rich with detail, yes, but not so as to yank me out of the growing story in order to describe the finer details of a given culture or political system or whatever.

To me, writing a fantasy world is pretty similar to characterization. If I write a character, I usually know millions of little details about him or her, without them ever making it into my book. Yes, it’s super important that I need to know them. The reader, however, only needs to know enough for them not to wonder what the heck is going on.

It’s precisely the same with the world-building. For the Doorways series, I know enough about the world’s history to write a whole other series just about that. Heck, I know enough history from a single one of the world’s country to write a series. And there are four. The thing is, if I put all of that into the books, I’d swamp the reader with information which (while it could be argued that the history is relevant) isn’t strictly necessary to put them through the plot.

I actually take it further. I don’t explain the history. I don’t explain the political systems. I don’t spend pages and pages of description. What I do is to explain what’s needed right now and trust the reader to put together the full picture themselves. Yes, some people might grow impatient, because it might take a few books to build a complete picture. But the pay-off is that my plot moves along at a faster pace.

Which I like.

But like I said, my way isn’t the only way. Any writer working on a spec fic novel eventually needs to decide on an approach to the world they’ll develop.

1) Do you want to showcase your world as a character in itself? 
2) Do you want your plot to move slower? (If so, exploring the world is a good way to do it without boring people. Just keep in mind that it’s a fine line to toe.)
3) Which factors of the world determines your plot and characterization? If you have some macro issues coming down on your characters (say a world where tributes are sent every year to kill each other for punishment of an old rebellion), you’ll need to spend some time explaining. Do try to keep the explanations relevant to the moment, though.

There are probably other questions that’ll come from answering these questions, but those are the big ones. If you know those, you can probably figure out how you want to represent your world in your novel.

So, spec fic writers, how do you usually prefer to represent your worlds?

And readers, how do you prefer your fantasies? Slower and rich in detail, or directly to the point with some fantasy thrown in?

I’m feeling the heat

Sorry for not posting the past two days. I had a bit of a productive streak for the past. The first one, I added four sections to my WiP. The second, I edited Doorways. 

In other words, I completed the whole round of edits in a single day. Which left me completely tired, but at least I’ll be able to get on with my rewriting once more.

I’ve actually been in a strange place, emotionally, making my drafting efforts a bit more difficult. I love the story, but at the moment, the only thing that’s not giving me a ton of stress in my life is my writing.

Problem is, as the pressure grows, my creativity goes.

My rhyming skills, remain.

Yeah… weird… Weird place. Anyway. Pressure or no pressure, I know one thing.

Writing makes things better. Not only does it take me away from my issues, but it helps me deal with them.

But damn. The issues don’t help me to sit down and write.

Still, I do. Almost every day. I sit down and find what I want to say. Usually, it starts off wrong, uncomfortable. Stiff. But as I go, I start living myself into my character’s worlds and problems (and let’s face it, theirs make mine look like inconveniences) and the words come. First a trickle, then a flood.

Hopefully, I can keep this happening for as long as I need to.

Anyone else have issues with writing when the rest of your life is somehow out of whack?