Update Day: September Edition

For those of you who’ve missed these posts, Beth Fred and I host a bloghop once a month where people can share their crazy or crazily important goals with us. Mine is, as stated at the top of the blog, to earn $7500 in royalties per month, every month, for a year, by 2018.

So how am I doing with that?

Well….

I got set back by a lot this year. At first, issues with my former publisher. Now, my business. The wonderful thing about the business is that it’s taking off in a huge way and very fast. The bit less than wonderful thing (specifically when it comes to my five year goal) is that it’s slowing down my process. By a lot.

I mean, I currently have very little time in which to do edits. Problematic, because I wanted to publish the two YA Epic Fantasy books in my series by 31 October. The problem is that I’m just not happy with the editing to the second one. (As in, I’ve edited a lot, thanks to some awesome critiques, but I’m still not sure that the story is “done” enough to start with final polishing.)

As such, I’m going to postpone the publication date by a month and see if I can make that. I might. I suspect that those extra 30 days will be all I need. That said, it also depends on the editor who’ll do the final copy edits and the cover designer. And of course, given that I’m sending my book out to another round of beta readers, on how long they take to get through the Heir’s Choice. Incidentally, if you’re looking for a crit partner/beta reader/just plain sounding board/help on finding the flaw in your submission, I’m looking for Beta Readers too. Click here for more info.

Oh yeah. I forgot to mention “formatting two books for publishing.” I’ve decided that I’m just going to have to learn this skill for myself, so you’ll probably be reading a lot of grumbly posts on this subject in the near future.

Okay. So let’s look at what’s been done in September: 

1) I’ve almost finished the rough edits to The Heir’s Choice. I’m hoping to finish them completely by Monday.
2) Got ISBNs for three books: The Vanished Knight, The Heir’s Choice and Birds vs Bastards.
3) Gave Birds vs Bastards (and both its planned sequels) an awesome name. Which I’ll announce specially when there’s not so much going on in a post.
4) Wrote and edited the blurb to The Heir’s Choice. At the moment, I’m pretty happy with it, but I’ll look at it again at the end of the month.
5) Sent Birds vs Bastards out for copy edits. Yep. This one really is almost publishing ready.
6) Contacted graphic artists to design all three covers.

What should be happening in October:

1) I want to send out The Heir’s Choice to beta readers.
2) I want to do the copy-edits on Birds vs Bastards. (Assuming the lovely ladies helping me with this get the editing done.)
3) I want to critique/whatever the exchange is for someone beta reading The Heir’s Choice. 
4) I want to start playing with formatting to learn. Birds vs. Bastards will probably be my test subject for this.
5) Lastly, I want to resume drafting my mystery project, the sequel to The Heir’s Choice, ES1, SS1, P, MDtS and RH. I want to see if I can finish the rough drafts by the end of the year.
6) I also want to get some reading in. I’m woefully behind, but being honest, this is pretty low on my priority list.

One more thing in October: 

Remember in the beginning of the year when I mentioned writing a story for an anthology? Yup, it’s coming out on 14 October. 

TwistedEarthsAnthology (4)

This cover really is perfect for this time of year, don’t you guys think?

Blurb: 

Twisted Earths is a collection of tales from Untethered Realms, a group of speculative fiction authors. The stories are as varied and rich as the types of soil on this and other planets–sandy loam, clay, knotted with roots and vines, dreaded paths through unexplored planets, and in enchanted forests, lit by candlelight and two moons.

M. Pax, author of the series, The Backworlds and The Rifters spins a tale called Patchworker 2.0. Specialists with digital interfaces are the only ones who can distinguish between biological energy and mechanical pulses, and “patch” AIs, which hold the world together. Patchworker Evalyn Shore meets up with an AI with deadly intent.

Cherie Reich, known for her epic fantasy series The Fate Challenges and The Foxwick Chronicles, presents Lady Death. Umbria, a beautiful and powerful swordsmith, is given an impossible task by her brother Leon when he asks, “You are the assassin. Are you scared to destroy Death when you are up to your elbows in it?”

Angela Brown is the author of the paranormal Shadow Jumpers and NEO Chronicles series. In her story, In The Know, Jacob, a loyal family man is struggling to stay out of debt when he’s hired to report on big plans for a future Detroit. He’s given a mysterious manila envelope with instructions to “open it alone” or pay the price. With switchback twists you won’t see coming, a debt of a much steeper cost is what he just might end up paying for his involvement.

Catherine Stine, author of the futuristic thrillers, Fireseed One and Ruby’s Fire, offers The Day of the Flying Dogs, a sinister tale of brilliant, troubled NYC high-school student, Theo. He experiences a day at Coney Island that includes drugs, delusions, a lonely capybara, Nathan’s hotdogs and a mind-bending lesson in our very twisted universe.

Christine Rains, known best for her paranormal series The Thirteenth Floor, gives us The Ole Saint, a story at once sweet, horrific and heartrending. Ezra longs to fit in and have boys stop calling him witch and freak, yet his unique supernatural skill sets him apart, and the last gift from The Ole Saint cinches the deal.

Graeme Ing, known for his young adult fantasy, Ocean of Dust, presents The Malachite Mine, a gripping, scream-inducing ride. Whatever was Mary thinking when she accepted her husband’s gift of a most terrifying twenty-first birthday celebration in an abandoned Russian mine?

River Fairchild, author of the Jewels of Chandra series, presents A Grand Purpose. Rosaya and her cousin, Drianna are soon to be married off, but Rosaya is unhappy with her assigned match. She’s much more intoxicated by the older Firrandor, a wizard she hardly knows. When Rosaya is accused of killing an oracle boy, all bets are off, not only for her love, but her freedom.

Gwen Gardner, who pens the cozy paranormal mystery series, Indigo Eady, adds to her collection with Ghostly Guardian. Indigo and her rib-tickling ghost-busters must travel to a dangerous pirate-laden past in order to unearth a curmudgeonly eighteenth century spirit that is plaguing the Blind Badger Pub.

Misha Gerrick, whose War of Six Crowns series is forthcoming, gives us a story called Red Earth and White Light. Emily, a young ghost bride has long haunted a house. She longs to cross over into the afterlife, but she’s trapped in memories of lilies and betrayal.

If that’s not awesome enough, check out this offer:

Preorderdeal

Preorder at: Amazon, iTunes or Barnes & Noble

Wow. This was a LOT of news!

How are you doing? Anyone want to beta read The Heir’s Choice?

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Cutting Babies and Killing Darlings

As I mentioned on Monday, I’m busy editing The Heir’s Choice, which is the second book in my epic fantasy series. (BTW, I also put out a call for beta readers, so if you need a new crit partner and like reading Fantasy, I’m your lady. Click here for more information.)

Right now, though, I’m in the home stretch of my big edits. Stuff like characterization and plot order should be fixed by the time I’m done.

I’m pretty much at the point where I should be winding down my edits. Because usually, my ends are just fine. So are the latter halves of my middles, for that matter.

But not yesterday. Yesterday, I realized that I’d written a chapter in an illogical sequence. As in, something INCREDIBLY important happened, and my main character proceeded to do nothing about it until hours later. Which wasn’t a big problem in itself. Except that rearranging the chapter’s scenes to make more sense meant that I’d have to cut one of my favorite scenes.

Man. That was hard. All I wanted to do was keep things as they are and get to the last bit of the book. (I only have about 50 pages left.) The temptation was real, though. See, out of the six people I’d sent the book to, only one picked up on the error. I guess I’m just that good at dragging readers into my story. *Wink*

And truth is, I follow Stephen King’s advice on crit partner opinion. I have more than four CPs. I give them the work in the exact same stage of edits. And if half or less of them say something needs to change, don’t change it.

Which meant that just based on my own editing methods, I should have let that little illogical moment stay right where it was.

But I couldn’t. See, I do have an overall picture of what I want to happen and where, and why. But to me, presenting the strongest book possible for my paying readers is the most important thing to focus on when editing. And that moment, that one small moment, weakened an entire section.

So I picked up my scalpel and cut into that chapter without mercy until everything was arranged in a way that made sense. It hurt in the beginning. Especially when I had to rip out the scene I loved. But then something happened. I wrote in a scene that was even better. One that actually does a lot more to progress the story-line.

Needless to say, this makes me a happy writer, and made me think I should share this story.

Because cutting into our stories hurt, but more often than not, it’s worthwhile. Cutting out weaknesses gives us space to replace them with something stronger, and if done right, the story is always better for it.

Anyone else find the bright side to killing their darlings? Do tell me about it!

Calling All Beta Readers!

Hey all! I hope you’re all doing great.

Me… wonderful. Shoe biz is taking off, while slowly but surely allowing me more time to work on the books I want to publish this year.

I’m hoping to finish my current round of edits by the end of the month, but I don’t think I’m going to make my self-imposed 31 October deadline. But that’s okay. I’ve achieved a ton.

That said, I need some help. More specifically, beta readers.

For those of you new to the term, beta readers read over the story and comment on things they liked, or didn’t, or things that didn’t make sense, that sort of thing. In particular, I’m looking for people who can highlight where I still haven’t brought in enough information from the previous series.

And as always, I’m willing to repay by critiquing your work, beta reading, or even searching for and finding what’s making a story not work. (I’ll try my absolute best at this, of course.)

If you’re interested, please leave a comment with info on your book (name, genre etc), what you’d like for me to do in return, and your e-mail address. 

Now, the information on my book:

Genre: YA Epic (Portal) Fantasy
Name: War of Six Crowns: The Heir’s Choice
Blurb (still needs editing): 

Sixteen-year-old London girl Callan Blair thought that going to the elves would unlock the mystery around her past. Instead, it thrusts her right in the middle of Tardith’s political games. On the one side are the elves and King Keill, her grandfather. On the other, King Aurek of Icaimerith, who also moonlights as the evil entity that has destroyed Callan’s life many times over.

Aurek is on the edge of erasing the elves out of existence. The only thing that will stay his hand: Callan marrying his heir. Not wanting to let her choice destroy a nation, she agrees.

At least she isn’t going into the lion’s maw alone. Quinlan Westenmere, the Nordian commander who had brought her to the elves, swears to go with her. Only he insists she take more Nordians with her. Darrion and Gawain are tasked with rescuing the Black Knight, Nordaine’s last blood heir, and Aurek has him.

Things don’t get simpler as the wedding approaches. Gawain refuses to support Callan’s decisions. She has to betray both the elves and Aurek to help find the Knight. On top of that, her elvish entourage leaves much to be desired.

But nothing compares to her meeting the man she’s to marry.   

So… what do you think? Anyone interested in helping a girl out? 

Interviewing Graeme Ing

Hey all! Misha here. Remember me? Yep. I’m still around. Nope, the shoes haven’t yet caused my demise. I am just incredibly busy at this time, since our first big shipment has arrived and we’re unpacking it.

Still, I’m taking break from all that to host my Untethered Realms buddy Graeme Ing for an interview as part of his blog tour for his newest book.

Welcome to the Five Year Project, Graeme. First things first. Tell us a bit more about yourself.


Thank you for inviting me, Misha. Born in England, I’ve been living in San Diego in the U.S. for 18 years now, with my wife, Tamara, and six cats. I must say that the climate here is very agreeable. I’m a software engineering manager by day, but my passion is writing and exploring. Apart from traveling the world whenever I can, I’m an avid mountaineer (from my armchair!), and student of famous explorers. I dabble in astronomy, piloting, map making and navigation. It should come as no surprise then, that my favourite part of writing is creating exotic worlds and characters. Speculative-fiction is a real passion for me.

Another cat person! (I have five cats.) How did you get into writing originally?


I’ve been scribbling stories since before I was a teenager. I even typed screenplays on a manual typewriter. I blame my mother for introducing me to Tolkien and McCaffrey at an early age! Seems like being a storyteller was my destiny (said in my best Darth Vader voice). It’s a shame that I never did anything with my writing until about eight years ago when I finally decided to pursue being a published author. I’ve got a lot of ground to make up. Thankfully I have hundreds of plot ideas.

Sounds a lot like me, growing up. What inspired you to write Necromancer?

Great question. For years I’d had this idea of a girl wanting to be a necromancer. At the same time, I’d developed this sarcastic character who believed he could defeat anything. His voice was so clear in my head, begging to be written. Since one of my favourite fantasy series are Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar books, I wanted to design a brooding metropolis that I could write lots of books about. Then, while finishing my first book, I had this idea for a secret society holding the city to ransom. All these pieces slotted together rapidly to become Necromancer, and if you read it then you’ll see how. 🙂 Many of my book ideas come to me in pieces like that. I plan to write more books in this city, some about the characters from Necromancer, and some about totally new characters.

I just love that aspect to writing fantasy, creating a setting that seems to come alive on its own. What’s your favorite thing to focus on in world building?


I love a setting that comes alive! My favourite thing is to draw maps, be they of the Kingdom, the world or even just a city. That’s me – I love maps. What I focus on though is culture. For “Necromancer” for example: Why was the city built here? What is the weather like? That determines the types of buildings they have. Who lives in it, what races? How are they governed? What are the exports and imports of the city? How do people travel? Horses, carts, flying creatures, magic? What do they eat and drink? Do they worship Gods? Every city has low-life and slum areas, so what are they like? What peculiar customs are there, like greeting someone? What laws? And so on. It’s so much fun layering up all this in the context of the story(s) I want to tell. Then I have to resist dumping all this super information into the book, but instead dribble it in bit by bit, adding flavour to my characters and plot. You can see why I say that I “engineer” worlds. 🙂

That’s definitely my focus as well when I do world building. History and culture. I can spend ages exploring my fantasy worlds through stories, but then, I’d probably end up boring my readers. 😉

Now please do tell us what Necromancer is about and where people can find it!


Perhaps I can cheat and include the book’s blurb?

A primeval fiend is loose in the ancient metropolis of Malkandrah, intent on burning it to a wasteland. The city’s leaders stand idly by and the sorcerers that once protected the people are long gone.
Maldren, a young necromancer, is the only person brave enough to stand against the creature. Instead of help from the Masters of his Guild, he is given a new apprentice. Why now, and why a girl? As they unravel the clues to defeating the fiend, they discover a secret society holding the future of the city in its grip. After betrayals and attempts on his life, Maldren has reason to suspect everyone he thought a friend, even the girl.
His last hope lies in an alliance with a depraved and murderous ghost, but how can he trust it? Its sinister past is intertwined in the lives of everyone he holds dear.
Can only evil defeat evil?

It has a host of nasty creatures lurking in and below the streets of the city. Being a Necromancer certainly is a dangerous job! But it’s not all grim – there’s some romance in there too. It’s out from August 23rd on all ebook formats and paperback. Just check your preferred online retailer.

Great! Let’s finish up with something positive. What’s the best piece of writing advice you have for new writers?


Write as often as you can, no matter how little, even 500 words a day. Don’t listen to the naysayers, don’t listen to the myriad of internal fears (all authors have them, you’re not alone), and don’t get dismayed by slow progress, other people’s success or things like marketing. Just write. Write for yourself. Write what you like to read. You can do it. Just keep writing. Good luck, and tell me when your first book comes out!

Thanks so much Graeme! It’s always a blast to chat with you. 

Graeme Ing engineers original fantasy worlds, both YA and adult, but hang around, and you’ll likely read tales of romance, sci-fi, paranormal, cyberpunk, steampunk or any blend of the above.

Born in England in 1965, Graeme moved to San Diego, California in 1996 and lives there still. His career as a software engineer and development manager spans 30 years, mostly in the computer games industry. He is also an armchair mountaineer, astronomer, mapmaker, pilot and general geek. He and his wife, Tamara, share their house with more cats than he can count.


You can find him at: 

M. Pax: Caffeine Free Takes Practice

Vincent van Gogh's Four Cut Sunflowers Painting
Four Cut Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh.
In Memoriam: Tina Downey

Caffeine Free Takes Practice

Displaying bigstock-Close-Up-Fresh-Coffee-Bean-In--67713217bp.jpgAdding to the skill set as a writer takes a lot of practice, but it can be done.

I recently had to give up all caffeine — coffee, decaf, and tea, plus limit my chocolate. Ouch, that last one hurts.

At first it seemed impossible. I was so groggy in the morning. Ginger plus a lemon ginger, yeah double-barreled ginger, did a good job of raising my eyebrows every morning. Then I found a nice cocoa tea. It had a teensy bit of caffeine, but not enough to cause me problems.

After two months of caffeine free, I noticed something remarkable. I could drink any herbal tea in the morning. I don’t need it to wake up. The afternoon crash doesn’t happen anymore. I’m more awake without caffeine than I was with it.

Learning new writing skills works similarly. Conscious effort goes into it at the beginning. After time, it becomes more ingrained. I find some become part of my repertoire easier than others.

Some new skills work out great, some not so great. I noticed some rules, if I used them too much, took away my voice. So I eased up on those. I.e., writing without any form of the verb ‘to be’. It made me sound mechanical. Striking a balance improved my writing and retained my voice. So I chose balance.

Outlining extensively from the beginning doesn’t work for me. I did find a compromise, though. Why? I can write faster and keep the story on track better. Before I start, I write a tagline, a rough blurb, and each of the main characters’ arcs. Those bits are written on the page before chapter 1. If I can outline the next 2-3 chapters with quick sentences, it can also help me write faster and better. So I now incorporate these tools.

I find reading a really rich writer’s work helps me improve my writing too. It inspires me, and I’ll work to emulate what I like about his/her writing. It’s always good to stretch our writing muscles.

One bad habit I constantly have to keep my eye on: I’m a recovering that-aholic. Do you have a writing nemesis like ‘that’?

What would you like to improve? Being more organized from the start is still new for me. Character and emotions are something I always strive to keep upping the ante on.

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Rifters blurb:

The Gold Rush trickles to a fool’s quest and a string of stagecoach heists. In 1888, Earl Blacke decides to make a new start and become a better man. He escapes into the mountains, heading north. In the wilds of Oregon, a rift inside an ancient volcano opens and sends him into the future, into the present day. It also shaves forty years off his age, forty years to live over again and atone for what he’s done.

Starting over is hard to do. In current day New York, Daelin Long’s dream job at a publishing house goes the way of the dinosaurs her sister chases. With no money and nowhere else to go, Daelin accepts the librarian position in her sister’s dinky town in the middle of Oregon. Nestled inside ancient volcanic peaks, the town of Settler holds onto many secrets. Residents roam the streets with weirdly fashioned devices, and odd lights pulse in the night skies. People whisper of a phantom outlaw and start dying, murdered and missing their heads. On top of it all, Daelin’s sister is missing, and Daelin doesn’t know who to trust.

Earl knows more than he’s saying. He shares a notorious history with the phantom, one he’ll see remains buried. Keeping Daelin’s sister’s secrets is his only chance at redemption, and the only way to keep this world safe.

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Try book one for free!

Download from: Amazon / AmazonUK / B&N / Smashwords /Googleplay / iTunes / Other

Take advantage of the preorder special on book 2, The Initiate. Only 99 cents via preorder from Amazon, iTunes, B&N, and Googleplay. Preorder

Author Bio

Displaying MPax1.jpg
M. Pax– Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckons to her, and she blames Oregon, a source of endless inspiration. She docents at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers, and one of her cats has a crush on Mr. Spock. You can find out more by visiting her website: mpaxauthor.com