Yep. I kid you not.
It’s actually a good thing, because I’ll be moving closer to where I work at the moment.
But it does mean that for most of this week, I’m probably not going to have time to blog. Luckily for me, the only thing I’ve got booked is my bloghop’s update day on Friday.
So. I’m going to just take most of this week off and get all this moving stuff done.
Hopefully by next week, I should be back in the swing of things.
Honestly, this really wasn’t what I’d wanted to do, but I feel like I’ve got too much going on right now for me to put the extra pressure of blogging deadlines on myself as well.
In short: See you on Friday.
I was really sad when I saw news about Harper Lee’s death today. But what really made me sad was the article about her in the New York Times.
The thought of her hopes and dreams and optimism on the back of her success, followed by decades of not producing a new story.
Part of me wants to think that there were other stories that she wrote and just didn’t share.
But whatever the truth of this might be, I’m grateful for the fact that she shared a beautiful book like To Kill a Mockingbird with the world. (I haven’t read Go Set a Watchman yet.)
May she rest in peace.
Reasons to Enter Writing Competitions
I’ve been griping a lot about my currently available amount of time lately. (Ask anyone who’s volunteered to host me for my blog tour.)
And just to make sure that everyone understands what I’m talking about:
Since the beginning of January, I have been working full days and then some, and then spent the remainder in a place with no Internet. Which means that my usual schedule of doing my work and finishing and then going over into writing has pretty much fallen by the way-side.
I’m hoping that this will change in the near future as we fall into more of a routine. (And we no longer have to rent a place with no internet reception.) But in the meantime, I think my expected writing time has been reduced by two thirds.
No, I’m not kidding.
I’m still getting stuff done. A lot of stuff. Two weeks into February and I’ve written and/or edited the equivalent of almost 40k words. I probably would have been there already but for a work function that kept me up until midnight on Thursday, but anyway.
I think this rate of output, given the amount of time I’ve had available, is impressive enough for me to sound like I know where I’m coming from.
Because I bet there are quite a few of you who are thinking: How in the heck is she managing that?!
My answer comes down to something like this.
Just keep writing.
I mean, I could have been going into a blind panic about my entire schedule changing, but instead, I wrote. I could have complained about my lack of internet at night.
I wrote instead.
I could have worried about the fact that I have less time to get things done… But… you know… I got things done.
I’m not going to say it’s easy. I’ve basically given up on my reading until I’ve 1) finished formatting Endless and 2) finished the rewrite I’m currently working on.
I’ve also swapped my whole writing routine around so that I can write at night and an hour every morning instead of in the late afternoon and early evening as I’m used to.
But write, I am writing. And apparently at an amazing rate.
So if you’re in the same boat where you’re struggling to find your usual writing time, don’t give up.
If you can find five minutes every day, write for five minutes. If you can find twenty minutes, write for twenty minutes. No, it might not be the hour you believe you need, but it adds up to a whole lot more than nothing if you keep waiting for that perfect hour to show up.
And there you have it. My secret to writing a lot of words.
How much time in a day do you usually use to write? Have you ever needed to swap your routine around to fit your writing in?
Hey everyone! Sorry I missed last week. I was supposed to gather some news pieces to share, but I literally had no time available to spend on the internet until this past weekend.
So for those of you who are unclear about what News Day is about: I’m running a (supposedly) regular weekly feature on Tuesdays where I share news from around our Writing Community. This news can be anything from an interesting blog-post to publishing news and everything in between. You’re welcome to send me something you’d like to share. Just contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com with “News Day” in the subject line.
From This Blog
Looking for people to feature
For those of you who missed the announcement, I’m running a regular feature on Thursdays for people within the writing community. You don’t have to be published, and I’m willing to post guest posts, character interviews and author interviews.
If you’d like to take part (you’ll be my hero if you volunteer for next Thursday), please mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Use “Thursday Feature” in your subject line.
Blog Post Worth Reading
Hey everyone. Today me and one of my characters/muses will be heading to a muse party for a blogfest.
1. Who did you bring to the party? Is he/she your Valentine or anti-Valentine?
2. Which one of you is the more romantic person?
3. What gift are you giving to your (anti) Valentine?
4. Are you guys wearing red or pink (or black…)?
5. Did you bring any Valentine’s Day treats?
6. Name a song for our Love Playlist or Anti-Love Playlist (or both)!
7. Got a great anti/Valentine party game?
8. Feeling the love or just feeling nauseous? How will you have fun at the party?
9. Has your muse been a good Valentine?
To see who else is taking part and to sign up, please click here.
So those are the rules, but I’m going to make the thing my own a bit.
Misha: *Pacing as she waits. A little nervous because she arranged with Nick at the last possible moment.*
Nick: *Stops his car next to her and gets out, running his hand through his slightly disheveled blond hair.* Sorry I’m late. Had to get these… *Ducks in and pulls out a bouquet of roses.*
Misha: *Grins and takes them.* Thanks so much for stepping up.
Nick: No problem. You owe me a packet of-
Misha: *Takes a box of Cuban Cigars out of her purse.*
Nick: I love you.
Misha: *laughs as she hands it over.* Hey! You put on red. Didn’t think you would.
Nick: *Glances at his shirt* Yeah… not a fan of the color, but hey, I’m supposed to be above politics. *Looks her over, his blue eyes dancing with mirth.* Darrion will kick himself if he finds out you wore a pink dress.
Misha: Yep. And it’s unlikely that anyone will see me in it again. Being Valentines and all. Usually I just avoid these things.
Nick: So what’s his problem anyway?
Misha: Oh, you know. The usual “You should be prioritizing my story”… thing.
Nick: Ah. Shall we? *Guides her around the car and opens the door for her.*
Misha: *Little smile at the old-world chivalry. Settles in while he gets behind the wheel.* Who do you think is more romantic between the two of us?
Nick: *Driving them to the party* You.
Misha: No… I think it’s you.
Nick: Misha. You’re the one who writes romances.
Misha: And you’re the one who’ve been in love with one woman for about 500 years.
Nick: *scowls* Not the same.
Nick: Nothing romantic about that. Trust me.
Misha: Okay… *Sensing that this probably isn’t the best topic to continue on.* We’re supposed to pick a Valentines Day game.
Nick: Spin the bottle.
Misha: *Laughs!* No. Too awkward.
Nick: *Sing-song voice* I brought vodka…
Misha: Yum. But… no. *Can just imagine the party sinking into chaos thanks to vodka and spin the bottle.*
Nick: We’ll leave it as an option.
Misha: *Laughs and just shakes her head.* Okay… You dance, right?
Nick: *Snorts* Better than most mortals. Got plenty of practice.
Misha: You got a song for us to dance on?
Nick: Nah you decide. Pick a song you write those romance scenes to.
Misha: Okay… Flightless Bird, American Mouth. It makes me think of you.
Nick: *Long-suffering sigh* What are you bringing to the party?
Misha: You brought the ingredients I asked for?
Nick: Yep. In the back.
Misha: We’re going a bit early so I can make us chocolate fondants. Nothing more Valentine’s Day than that.
Nick: *grins* Sexy.
Misha: *gives his head a playful shove.* Stop.
Nick: But it’s true! Trust me, when you spend most of your life hungry, watching someone cook is amazing.
Misha: *chortles* You better behave.
Nick: *rolls his eyes* Of course. I’ll be the best behaved Valentine you’ve ever had.
Oh dear. Somehow, I’m not feeling all that reassured. Think he’ll be a good Valentine or will all the romance bring out the little devil in him?
Hi everyone! It’s that time of the week again. Every Thursday, I like to host another writing blogger either with a guest post or an interview. Today, M Pepper Langlinais is stopping over to do an interview with me. (My side of the interview is bold.)
Welcome to The Five Year Project! First things first. Why don’t you tell everyone a bit more about yourself?
Thanks for having me. I’m an author and also a playwright and screenwriter. I’ve had one play produced at two separate venues, and that play was then turned into a short film that premiered in San Diego last November. On top of that, I write Sherlock Holmes stories and have just had my novel The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller published by Tirgearr Publishing.
More personally, I grew up in Texas and attended UT Austin. I did the Shakespeare at Winedale program there and later used what I’d learned to teach Shakespeare at summer camps. I also interned on the film set of Hope Floats. Then I went to Boston to get my graduate degree at Emerson College, and that’s where I met my now husband Scott. Boston is great in a lot of ways, but driving in snow and ice gave me panic attacks, so we moved to California, which is where we live with our three kids and a hamster.
Sounds like you’ve had a very interesting life. Tell me a bit more about The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller. What’s it about? What inspired you to write it?
The book is set in the 1960s and is about a gay British spy (Peter) whose lover is accused of being an enemy agent. Peter manages to escape with Charles, but then he begins to wonder whether the accusations could be true. When he’s offered a chance to return to the Agency, Peter uses that access to try and discover the truth about Charles.
I’m not sure what inspired the story exactly. I think the story started as I was brainstorming new Sherlock Holmes ideas but then morphed into something else entirely. The first part of the book came spilling out quite rapidly. The rest took much longer. All told I spent almost three years on the whole thing.
Sounds like a fascinating project. What’s your favorite aspect to the story?
I’m primarily a character writer. I love exploring the depths of people. When I write, I fall a little bit in love with my main character(s), and so Peter himself is one of my favorite aspects. The way he thinks, the deep well of his feelings . . . There is a scene in which he comes home to an empty flat (apartment) and thinks Charles has left him, and his response is, I think, beautiful. A testament to how quickly he fell for Charles, how important Charles has become to him. That was a tough scene to write because I had to feel everything for Peter and it was painful, for him and me!
So this is no fast-paced James Bond of a story. It’s more psychological. I liken it to John Le Carre’s works.
I also hurt for my characters when they’re in pain. How do you approach your stories? Do you plan ahead or do you go by instinct?
I have a weird hybrid of planning and feeling it out. I go in with usually only two things: 1. A scene that I’ve played over and over in my head until I’m ready to write it down, and 2. A vague idea of how it will end. The middle is always mushy and up for grabs. It’s sort of like having two points on a map but it’s up to me to figure out how to get from A to B.
And the scene I have might not even be the first scene. So I’ll write it, then decide what, if anything, needs to come before. So what I’ve really got is a point in the story and an end point, but I sometimes still need to find a starting point!
It’s not the most efficient way of writing, but it’s the only way that works for me. I can’t outline. I can’t work under too much structure. I do, however, keep a notebook beside my computer, and I will write down plot questions and then answer them so I can understand WHY things are happening. I think motivation is important. That’s a character thing again. I’m really all about character.
So I take it you have substantial edits by the time you’re done with your rough draft?
I wish I were a fast writer who could spit out a first draft and then get down to editing. I really do believe that’s actually the best way–just get it on paper and then perfect it. Alas, I’m not that kind of writer. I can’t speed through the first draft. I pick at it and fret over it. I want it to be perfect the first time, and then of course it isn’t and still has to be rewritten.
When I finish a draft, I have to give it to others to read. I’m too close to the material; I won’t see the flaws as clearly as they will. My husband reads it and so does my critique group. I ask them to mark anything that doesn’t make sense, anything that slows things down, whatever. Most of them will also mark spelling and punctuation, but that’s not crucial at this stage. Then it might still be a while before I’m ready to tackle the story again. I’ll usually try to go write one or two short stories, a short play or something between novels.
Right now I’m doing a rewrite on a YA fantasy. One of my critique partners slashed whole chapters at the beginning because she wanted to the book to get to the action more quickly. It was valid, and I think it makes the book better, but it was still painful to hear that I needed to cut huge chunks of material! Back when I was an editor, we would call that a “bleeder” because of all the red marks on the pages.
I also swear by having my books critiqued. What’s your best advice for finding a critique group?
I lucked into mine. I met someone at a writers conference who turned out to be from the next town over from mine, and she already had a group and they invited me to join. We meet weekly which, based on what I hear from other writer friends, is more than many groups who meet maybe once or twice a month. But of course all of us might not make it to every meeting either. It’s very fluid and comfortable and I can’t imagine a better group.
If I were going to go looking for a group? It’s easier, I think, to start online. But the person-to-person aspect is important, too. Body language sometimes says a lot more than words being spoken. And you can hug one another if you’re face to face! So I would check with local libraries to see if there are any groups, or maybe post at the library to start a group. Local bookstores might also know of writing groups, and certainly there are local chapters of writing associations (here we have the California Writers Club). They can usually hook you up with a critique group if you become a member.
The best place to find The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller is on the publisher’s website. There’s an excerpt there and all the buying links for various formats/e-readers. It’s only available as an ebook for now, but if it does well enough the publisher says it will consider a print version.
Thanks again for hosting me!
I like helping new writers make sense of this writing gig. It’s my way of giving back to my community. Which is a big reason why I enjoy hanging around on Wattpad. (Yes, I have indeed warmed to it.)
A whole lot of writers there are in fact still learning. Which means many writers are asking for advice. (A good thing, because it gives me fodder to write about.)
One of those things that people keep asking about is about commitment.
Things like: “How do I stay committed to the stories I’m writing? I always start stories, but I never finish them.”
Usually, my immediate response would be: “Say no to the shiny new ideas, then. Make a choice to stay committed and keep going.”
I think there’s more going on to this question than “You’re just not committed.”
Well, I think back to when I was a writer learning the craft. I started seven drafts that I was excited about. I finished exactly none of them. At the time, I also thought it was commitment issues. Which was why, when draft number 8 came along, I started blogging about it as an accountability measure.
The thing is, in retrospect, I realized that The Vanished Knight happened as the result of a happy coincidence of commitment and just enough writing knowledge to get by.
Because in those other seven drafts, I’d be all excited and write, then suddenly something would just make me go meh and stop. And that something is my whole point.
That something was something that was wrong with the story. A Mary-Sue character. Lack of conflict. Lack of stakes. Lack of proper motivation. Lack of focus. (And on… and on… and on.)
There’s always something that makes a serious difference between our expectation and reality. And when we realize that reality isn’t stacking up, we stop.
That’s what I did. (In fact, I still do it. I just changed my habits a slight bit.)
So how did I finish The Vanished Knight? (Actually that’s a much longer story, but anyway.) I fell in love with the characters and concept and committed myself to finish it. Same as always. Except I added a blog to keep myself motivated. But that would NOT have helped me if not for the next thing I did.
I don’t know how or why this keeps happening to me, but I always seem to realize that a book in my War of Six Crowns series is done after I’ve finished it.
Last week, I’d decided to renew my focus on Book 3 in order to complete the rewrite. So I reread the whole thing again to pick up all the loose strings I’d left in November, when I’d stopped when my writing had lost momentum.
And… well… the story felt done. It had a rising action. A twist, climax and an ending.
And half of my planned plot remaining unwritten. (Which was annoying.) But since the other half felt like I’d be shoe-horning it into my story, I decided to split the book. Which means that:
1) Book 3 is done. (Yay!)
2) The other half I had planned will now go into Book 4. (Also yay. Rewrite is already prepped.)
3) Revisions for Book 3 will probably involve significant revisions to compensate for the structure being slightly wonky due to me having planned most of it to be the introduction to the other (unwritten) half. (Eh… okay. I can live with that.)
4) I need a new title for Book 3. I had a title, but now the events referred to in the title happen in Book 4. (Sigh.)
5) I’m going to start revisions to Book 3 at the end of this month. (Yay!)
6) The War of Six Crowns will now be a six-book series. I was planning on five books, but hey, the more the merrier, right?
Have you ever been surprised to discover you completed a draft after-the-fact? Or is it just me?