Prepping for the A-Z Challenge

Hahahahahahaha… maybe the headline should be supposedly prepping for A-Z.

See… I entered both my blogs. I realized recently that trusting that I’ll just be churning out two posts a day six days a week for a month while adapting to office life

Sadly… I realized this the day before yesterday. So my time is running really low. And I still have to edit. And visit blogs… and… and… and…

Also, my body picked today to pick up a cold/flu virus, so I spent most of my day staring blankly at the computer screen.


I will not lose my handle on the situation, though. I’m just going to do my best to get control over the amount of hours in my day. And then I’m going to get some edits and blog posts done.

What about you? Joined the A to Z Challenge? How are the preparations going?

Looking Back on April

Thanks Elizabeth

Today is a public holiday, so I decided to be a bit lazy and do a look-back to last month… so here are some stats: 

Number of blogs visited (not counting repeat visits): 1020
Number of blogs followed: 690 (the rest I was following before the challenge)
Number of times I triggered Captcha: 4
Number of people who joined this blog: 191
Most blogs visited on one day: 80
Number of awards given: Not sure. I tried counting them, but they’re hiding too well. I will have to reread every single comment to find those informing me of awards. Lucky that I find your comments so fascinating. 
Post that took the longest to write: M-day (Maps) 
Favorite Posts: Maps and Conflict and Complications. Oh and I Interrupt Regular Posting… 
Highlight of April: Announcing the completion of my rewrite. 
Number of hits in April: 3722.
A to Z Post with most visitors: Energy

Overall, I really enjoyed the challenge. Meeting new people and finding awesome blogs were definitely highlights. Still, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’m glad that it’s May. 
So what did you guys think of the A – Z Challenge? Any interesting stats to share? Who finished?

A to Z Challenge: Zeroing In On the End

Firstly I want to send out a huge congratulation to those who did manage to finish the Challenge. You are awesome! Secondly, I just want to let you know that the blog will return to normal. I will start my follow backs again as well as checking out the blog posts of people who comment on my post.

I also want to shout out my many thanks to everyone who awarded me this month. I feel very honored and will pass the awards on soon.

And finally, I want to remind you that GPF returns as of next week. For those of you who are new to the blog, anyone who clicked follow to my blog can book a Friday to write a writing/literary world related post. No other rules really. Better hop fast though, those Fridays can disappear fast. E-mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com if you want to book a Friday. Oh yeah, since this is a cause of misunderstanding, let me just say that promotional posts/interviews can take place on any available day. So if all the Fridays in your blog tour are booked, contact me and we can arrange something else.

All righty then, let’s get to the real post.

Now, as you might have read/just noticed, I finished my rewrite on Monday. It was a feeling of accomplishment that I can’t describe.  In fact, I don’t think I can even compare it to anything.

But… I could have finished the book on Thursday already. So why didn’t I? Why didn’t I just push to the end and get it done in a really impressive time?

Two words:



Think I’m kidding? I’ve spent three years going towards four on this story – just to get it written. In that time, I met characters. I nurtured them. i made and broke them. Fact is (and this is going to sound weird) this story had as much influence on my life as I did on its character’s lives.

Yes really. Even when I’m doing something else, part of my thoughts will always concern my story. The percentage that that part takes up of my entire thought process is what determines how much else I can do. Writing became the frame to my day. I made time to write. I read Bible before I start writing. After I wrote for 45 mins to 1 hr, I get dressed. After 1000 words, I write my blog.

That’s just my mornings.

So I think you can understand that the thought of suddenly not having something prioritized like that can feel a little off.

Not to mention how much I miss following my characters around. They’re still there, but now that the story is done, they’re quiet. Another thing to get used to.

So how do I deal? Well, firstly, no amount of fear was going to keep me from getting my book done. 3.8 years is more than enough. Also, the fact that this was book one in a series of four, so my characters will get a chance to go on more adventures.

But now… yes, the rewrite is done. But I’m about to face a new challenge: Edits.

Have you finished a book? Did you suffer from separation anxiety? How did you deal with it?

A to Z Challenge: You CAN Do It.

This post isn’t really for those already writing, but I’m hoping that you guys will also leave some encouragement and advice in the comments. Pretty please?

So… That leave the rest of you. It is so easy to classify man-kind into three kinds of people: Those who write, those who want to write and those who don’t.

I want to have a quick chat with those of you who are in the second group.

Firstly, I want to ask: Why aren’t you writing? You want to. If my own experience is any indication, you have a great big urge to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

Are you worried that you won’t be good enough?  Well… how do you know? Even if you have tried, things can be incredibly murky. Judging your own work is difficult. More so if you’ve never been called on to do it before. Also, there’s another aspect to this situation. Yes your work might suck now (perhaps. I don’t believe that first attempts have to suck.), but have you ever noticed the vast amount of advice and help available to you at your fingertips?

In fact: Here’s an offer you can’t refuse. My month of May is wide open until I have to start editing. If you want, you’re more than welcome to send me some of your work to critique. It will be highly educational (it’s still teaching me) and you don’t have to worry that your work will find its way to my blog. The crits will be handled 100% confidentially. If you’re interested, feel free to contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com. You can also use that address to send me any writing-related question that you might have.

In the mean-time, here’s some advice that I’ve learned over my multiple efforts:

1) You CAN do it. Don’t listen to internal and external voices telling you that you can’t.
2) Speaking of which. Unless you are sure that you can handle a lot of negativity, tell only people you trust that you are writing.
3) You have to tell someone though. Support is imperative. Even if you start blogging.
4) If you’re blogging, make sure to connect with other writers.
5) The writing rules are in fact guidelines. Play with them. Stretch them.
6) But never convince yourself that you’re writing Shakespeare. Those above experiments can go very wrong too. The trick is to learn the balance.
7) Read agents’ blogs to see what they love and hate and why.
8) Read. Period. If you don’t read, you can’t write.
9) Find what works best for you. Do you plot? Do you fly by the seat of your pants? Or do you combine the two?
10) Writing is firstly for you. If you are happy when you write, you are a writer. No matter how many pages someone else writes per day. No matter how young that other blogger is when she got her book deal. Your journey as a writer will differ from everyone else’s. And that means that there isn’t room for comparison.

So… I’ve kitted you out with some of the most important lessons that I’ve learnt – the hard way. You’re already ahead.

What’s keeping you from writing?

For my writing buddies, do you have any more advice to add? For someone who wants to write, what would you like to know? If I get enough questions, I might address it in May’s posts. Feel free to contact me. 🙂 Also, just want to let you know that I will be giving away a book on writing in May, so be sure to come back for a chance to win!

A to Z Challenge: Where Did the Passion Go?

I’ve been working on Doorways for about three years, possibly three and a half. 

When Darrion walked into my head and demanded that I write the story, a love for the story sparked and it was almost all I could think about. Lucky for me I think of multiple things at once otherwise I would never have been able to cope with University.

I wrote with more than a few doldrums where I ended up not writing until they passed. But when I got back to writing, it was wonderful. An incredible rush that hummed in my blood every time I put down the pen. I’d write whenever I could. While the rest of the people were watching rugby between eating (think NFL), I was watching rugby between writing.

I never realized how much I’ll miss drafting until the first draft was done. For me, the first draft (whether it sucks or not) is the phase where we get to experience creation. We still have to explore everything and everyone. Nothing is hard and fast. Everything is new. With the first draft, I got to experience the liberation of writing whatever I wanted. I loved getting to know the characters. 

In December last year, the end of the story crept up on me. Really. Anyway. I rested the story until January and set the goal finishing date as 30 April. Almost immediately, I sensed a problem. 

See, after my frenzied first draft, I had to bring in a sense of the technical. I had to start thinking of things like pacing and voice. Of right and wrong. Of story elements. Themes. Subplots. Of fixing plot holes. 

Seems natural, right? Well, it is. But when it comes to my beast of an epic, things like that become daunting. There’s just so much! Fear crept in, choking out my spark of passion. Hopelessness followed soon after. I started to think that I’d been a little too ambitious in my choice of story to write. 

And with that, I started to wonder if I should even be writing at all. 

I tried to keep writing, but although I managed to keep going, my love for the story kept fizzling. In February I   stopped writing altogether. 

I kept it quiet, not wanting to admit that my beast beat me. So I gave myself pep talks. Lots of them. I even posted some on my blog. 

It got me writing with renewed determination, but not love. My story became the enemy. I was writing to show the Beast who’s boss. 

But one day, I was skyping a friend and something she said got me thinking. That thought turned into another thought and another and another until I had the main plot line that will run through the entire series. 

Just like that, I remembered why I love the story. Not a moment too soon, either. 

Because by that point, I’d been considering shelving Doorways indefinitely. 

But in that moment, when I saw where the series would go, I realized that instead of all those things scaring me, they’re helping me. Those considerations were what made my story as good as it could become. And it had better be good. There are three sequels in the pipeline. 

I wrote with new passion, sometimes I wrote six times my daily target until I finished it. 

Of all the things that I am most grateful for, I am so glad that I didn’t give up on Doorways as soon as I could have. 

So… Have you ever lost the passion for what you were working on? How did you get it back? 

A to Z Challenge: Voice

Once again, I’ve picked a tricky subject for today.

Most agents’ blogs that I’ve visited mention the importance of voice at least once. Each voice must be unique. Only the character’s.

But what is voice?

Take a look at yourself. Your thoughts. Do you have favorite sayings or phrases that come out when you think and speak? Do you have a way of wording your thoughts? Is that way at least a little different from others? Do you have a world view that’s a little different from everyone else?

Check your pulse. If it’s beating, I’m sure that the answers to all of the above will be Yes.

The way that you think, what you think about, the words you use. That’s your voice (in the literary sense). How you speak to people in social interactions. How you express your opinion and how you react when people agree or (tellingly, in my opinion) disagree. That’s your voice.

That makes the importance of voice in books make more sense, doesn’t it? We want our characters to be as authentic as possible. But no matter how much time you spend studying their personality traits and motivations. No matter how accurately they react to the situations in the plot.

If the story is not told in the Main Character’s own voice, nothing will ring true. Because the person doing the talking isn’t the person going through the main story.

So how can we get an authentic voice?

I use two ways.

One is through interviewing the characters who might be called to give me their point of view. The way they react to my questions can give me a clear idea about how they should sound.

The other thing I do is to act on the page. I try to become that character and write down what he/she thinks. My issue with this method is that my voice gets mixed in, because the line of separation between me and the character is blurred.

Because of that, I prefer to interview and listen to the character telling me things. It just works better for me.

How do you get your voice authentic?

A to Z Challenge: Ulterior Motives

Hi all! Welcome to the final week of the A to Z challenge! Just a quick shout to all my new bloggy friends. In particular, hi and thanks to Catherine Denton, the 500th person to click follow. ^_^

So today, I want to do a quick post about motives, ulterior and otherwise. Yes, technically this is cheating, but I had to do the map on M-day.

Motives can actually be a tricky thing to deal with, even if we’re not dealing with mysteries. After all, I’ve met/read about very few people who do things for absolutely no reason. There is ALWAYS a reason for doing something. Even when it comes to serial killers. Someone might decide to kill women wearing polka dots because he hates women wearing polka dots.

Because his polka-dot-adoring mother abused him as a child.

Or… because his pet tapeworm told him to do it. (True story, incidentally. HF Verwoerd’s assassin said that his tapeworm told him to kill the politician. He proceeded to follow the worm’s edict with some ingenious planning…)

The motive might not make much sense to us, because the character is so foreign to us and our way of thinking. But it’s there must be a reason.

That reason must make sense to the character, were he to consider why he does things.

Now, ulterior motives add another dimension to the mix. Now we have to deal with at least two motives: The real motive (known mainly by the character taking the action) and the motive(s) everyone else attributes to the character. Sometimes, the reader knows the real motive because it comes through in the characters thoughts. Other times (and I like this one) it sort of phases into the reader’s mind as the story progresses that the motive everyone assumed to be valid is, in fact (and often-times catastrophically), not.

Do you have a character who harbors ulterior motives? How do you deal with the motives? Do the other characters accept him/her on good faith, or does someone not trust him/her?

A to Z Challenge: Time

Time has a significant effect on the running of my story. There are two story lines running through almost to the end – and they run more or less parallel. 

But, I’ve never needed to write: “Meanwhile, back at the castle….”

In fact, I can’t. I don’t have a narrator. Perhaps I was stupid to decide against one, but as it happens, I like walking around almost in the characters shoes without some omniscient voice spoiling my tension for me. So… how do I manage it?

Easy. I don’t focus on the time aspect. Things are happening here. Other things are happening somewhere else. Even though the timing is important to the story making sense, it’s not as important as the fact that things are happening. So I focus on the what more than on the when. 

In my mind, I also jump between story lines on a roughly day by day basis. So if nothing’s happening to Callan on day ten, I’ll hop over to James. Odds are that he has something going on.Whether the reader will read this, though, I have no idea. 

So how do you manage time and timing in your WiP?

A to Z Challenge: Stuck

Hi all! Just want to wish you all a blessed Easter! X

Also, Brooke did this sweet little interview with me for the Second Crusade.

When I was pondering possible topics for S-day, one of the first things that popped into my head was the word Stuck.

The Heavens know that getting stuck is one of the afflictions I suffer from most while writing. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Stuck is a bane endured by pantsers everywhere. I mean, we don’t plan (much?) and as such, we don’t have contingencies for every turn the story takes.

And some turns will lead to dead-ends. Of course, I know from my plotting days that planning ahead doesn’t save one from getting stuck either. I mean… I can’t plan for everything, can I? The only thing is, when there is a plan, I can go back to it and continue from there.

Not so when pantsing. There, going back (in my opinion) doesn’t feel like an option. Besides, what am I supposed to go back to? The previous scene that leads to dead-end? Or the previous chapter that leads to the chapter that contains the dead-end scene? Yeah… While pantsing is great for spontaneous creation, it’s also a bit murky on the fixing problems end.

So… what do I do when I get stuck?

Step one: Stare at the blinking cursor.
Step two: Stare some more.
Step three: Make coffee.
Step four: Sip coffee while staring at the cursor.
Step five: beat head against table to beat of cursor blinking.
Step six: delete delete delete.

Of course, one deleting session can (and did) wipe out about a quarter of what I’d written. At that rate, I’d never finish, so I bought a pen I liked and a notebook that I enjoyed touching. I wrote the entire first draft of Doorways by hand. With no cross outs when I didn’t like what I wrote. I just had to live with what was down on the page. So when I got stuck, I got really stuck, because there were no shortcuts. I had wade my way through.

I stopped writing for almost four months. After all, I had university and other responsibilities. I didn’t have time to stare at the empty page.

Well… that was the best thing I could do. While I was in a conversation with a friend, a 1000 megawatt light bulb went on in my head. I rushed to a quiet(ish) place and started writing. I wrote pages and pages worth of story.

When I was done, I came to the realization that my brain just needed some pressure-free time to get all its ducks in a row.

So… the next time, I… went into frustration mode yet again (and again… and again. It’s a weakness. I get annoyed with things that prevent me from doing something I want to do.), but once I settled I asked for some advice on the blog. Got a lot of advice, but I find that nothing works quite as well as just letting it be.

What works for you when you get stuck?