Write What You Know

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

The idea for this post was given by the lovely Mireyah. I have a terrible time coming up with topics, but she always has great stuff to say - so I got her to give me a topic!

We have all heard the saying that "To write well, write what you know." Do you agree? I do and here's why.

Write what you know doesn't necessarily mean things that you yourself have experienced, at least that's what I see. Knowing something and experiencing something are two different things. I KNOW that my father, a US Army soldier has nightmares and other mental and physical issues from war. He has told me some of the stories and his experience. I have not EXPERIENED these things myself. I watched them happen, or really watched my Father deal with them, after the fact as a third party. Does this mean that I can't write a convincing story from a soldiers point of view? Most would argue that I couldn't but I could probe my Father's brain for information and make a worthwhile attempt.

Tip #1: If you don't know then research it!

I can already hear folks arguing that you can't write about something effectively if you have not experienced it. You can't get the emotions right and things like that. You may be right but who's to say I can't imagine being a third party WATCHING and writing it from THAT point of view? Like my earlier analogy, I may not be able to write a truely effective story from a soldier's point of view as I am not a soldier. But I could write about what it's like to be the family of a soldier - the wife, the mother, the daughter - that could make for a great story too!

Tip #2: Try a different point of view to get stronger emotions!

Let's get even more crazy and say that I imagine that my Father died when I was a kid! (No, he didn't. He's still alive and kicking to this day.) BUT, how would I feel if he did? I may not have experienced the actual loss of a parent but I already know how I would feel if I had. I know myself well enough!

Tip #3: Imagine how you would react to a situation.

So yea, write what you know. And when you really think about it, you know a lot of things! So get to writing!

I close with a great quote "Fake it until you Make it!" Applys to this quite a bit I think!

Things I Look for in a Novel

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Annie made a post about this over at Dutch Hill News and I just could not resist doing the same!

"Each one of us is different in what they like or dislike. What I can't stand someone else might love, and vice versa. What are you looking for in a book? Let's compare notes!"

Okay Annie! Here is my comparison!

1. Characters that make me wish they were real people (or glad they aren't!).
I love reading stories where the characters are so real or so great that I wish they were real, that they could sit next to me and chat like friends. This does not apply to only human characters. Faeries, elves, dragons, vampires, whatever - if they are great, then I'd love to be able to talk to them. Then of course there are the awesome villians that make me SO glad they aren't real. The type that just give me the chills long after I close the book!

How does this happen you ask? Well they need to be unique for starters. While in romance novels all the male leads can usually be clasified as "tall, dark, and handsome" how is one different from the other? Even villians needs to have their own unique story! I don't necessarily need to relate to the characters, but it is extremely rare that I find one that I can't.

2. A solid and concise plot.
If I don't think about the story during the times when I'm not reading it, chances are that I won't pick it up again any time soon. Yes, I am the type that I just have to finish a book no matter how bad it is! I always have the thought that there was a reason why they left out such seemingly crucial information or that it'll get better, things will start to make sense. But, if I dream about the book and think about it when I'm not reading - then I'll pick it up again at the first chance! If it's good enough, I put off doing the laundry or dishes in order to read more!

Mystery novels are my favorite and I think it's because with all the tension and unanswered questions, I can really get hooked. No, mystery novels are not the only ones that do this for me, but I have found that even badly written mysteries give me the same feeling. I just have to know what happens next! Leave me guessing at the end of the chapter and I'm sure to turn the page to read the next one!

3. Settings where I feel like I'm there!
I have put books down for a long time because I just couldn't get into the scene. I write Fantasy novels myself, and I know how detailed scenery and setting needs to be to make it believable. Put me IN the book! I want to feel like I am a fly on the wall watching things as they happen. I want to forget that I'm reading a book. I want to experience a story!

It's all in the details! Sure, if a writer says the word castle, I already form a full picture in my mind of what a castle looks like. But are all castles the same? Of course not! What things are hanging on the wall? Is it built of something other than stone? What sort of security (gates, guards, towers,) do they have? And of course, don't just list the details either. SHOW me through character interaction. If a character in a high stress situation wouldn't notice how the flags were flying in the breeze, then I don't need to know either!

4. Magical elements.
Do I mean like wizards and spells? Not always. Magical things include ideals like love conquers all, love at first sight, honor, chilvalry, etc. But, the key is to make it convincing. Disney gets away with this in my opinion because - well they're Disney. In a novel though? I need to really feel that it's real and possible. Love at first sight is hard to explain. Don't just tell they did - SHOW me, CONVINCE me. Is it possible? Well that depends on the writer!

Of course, I love novels that also have spells, ghosts, magic, etc. The best part is when the writer makes it so believable! I believe there is magic every where, even in the real world, but writers still need to fully convince me of the magic in their novels.

5. New traditions and cultures.
I love reading sci-fi novels and fantasy novels where the writer brings in a whole new race with their own culture, traditions, and even religion! Granted, they must be unique and believable or I lose interest.

Does this apply to only sci-fi/fantasy novels? NO! I don't know all their is to know about Earth's peoples! The point is, to make me believe it - even if it's true! It's all in how it's presented and detailed. The truth can easily sound like a lie, if it's said (in this case written) the wrong way. But I love learning about different cultures and beliefs. It is great to see some familiar ones in stories or even new ones! I'll say it again though - I have to believe the truth!

This was a great idea Annie! Let's see how many other folks we can get blogging about it!

Sunshine Award

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Another award! I feel so loved! Thank you Mireyah for this lovely award! And I love her reason for giving it to me so I have to say it again -- " cuz I find it ironic to give the sunshine award to someone who likes skulls and really dark things. heehee" Hilarious!

The only rule for this award is to pass it on to 12 people! Gah! Luckily I have made some great friends in this wonderful blogosphere so I can actually hand out awards! Woot!

1. Ashelynn -- because she's an effing genius!
2. Jen -- because she rewrote 15 chapters in a month (and is still resonably sane).
3. T.S. Hendrik -- because his blog is HILARIOUS!!! (seriously a great place to just laugh yourself silly)
4. Jay -- because he posted one of my fav songs in his blog the other day!
5. Dawn -- because she's a great blogger! (always has great stuff to say!)
6. Mia -- because her posts always make me laugh.
7. Annie -- because she's just an awesome person!
8. Anne Altman-- because she has great writing tips and information.
9. Anne Riley -- because she has great writing information too!
10. Anthony -- because he posted the coolest video (seriously, you need to go watch it!)
11. Eisley -- because she's a great person and writer!
12. Susan -- because she blogs about dragons!

Whew! That was a lot! Now I need to go tell all these people they have an award - but I'll do that later. I'm on my way out of town! Yay! I get out of the house for once!

Social Experiment: Soulmates

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

So, I was tagged with this great award! It's a fun game and the rules are really simple.

Christi started this as a sort of social experiment to see where it would go. Regardless, I think it's absolutely fun!

The rules are easy:
1. Choose 5 of your follows that "get" you.
2. Write lies about them. (This is meant to be funny, not mean!)
3. Make sure the people you chose know you tagged them.
4. Link back to Chrisi's original post about this Here.

Sounds easy enough right? Okay so here we go! This is going to be hilarious! I was thinking about it all night! Woot!

Here is an example: Mia wrote this about me. You'll see how funny it is!

Harley is the head of a multi-national charity that saves and re-habilitates the punched out "hole" section of Polo Mints. So far, they have re-homed over 25 million of the little darlings thanks to the generous support of the public. The next big project she is working on is the campaigning for an end to Rubarb plant forcing, as part of the World Against Plant Cruelty Association (W.A.P.C.A.). They are holding a rally soon in Times Square, if anyone's interested in popping by to show their support.

Isn't that hilarious!! I died laughing! Okay, so here I go to tag 5 of my followers! (Okay there is only 4, but I stared at this blog post ALL DAY and could only come up with 4! I'm so sorry!)

1. Mireyah is currently in rehab for her addiction to a new drug on the street, code named "Blog". There is also "Internet" which is much more severe! Other drugs inclue "Twitter" and "Facebook". The poor girl is currently sitting in a straight jacket in a padded room repeating "Publish Post" followed by bird chirping noises over and over again. The doctors are not sure what the phrase means. They assume it has something to do with how to take the drug "Blog" or "Twitter" but they are not certain.

2. Jen is a famous (or perhaps infamous) interagator. She is best known for her techniques in getting male prisoners to talk. Some say that it is her feminine charm that gets them to talk, but ask any one of her male subordinates at the headquarters of Sector Double Zero. They will tell you the truth -- it's the threat of her famous Jewel Squeeze technique! Some say her grip is so strong she could turn a lump of coal into a diamond!

3. Ashelynn is the leader of an Anger Management group named "White Board". It's a place to rant about silly things on a literal white board. Be warned if you decide to attend however. For some reason Ashelynn and the other people there seem to like pouncing, tackling, and glomping other people. They are an easily excited group, so be careful! Don't make any sudden movements and whatever you do DO NOT bring candy, chocolate, or any caffinated beverage. It would only fuel the frenzy!

4. Kurt is a british spy! Don't let his blog fool you! His stories may be funny but it's just a front to gather information about people. His novels are really intel reports disguised so the public is completely unaware of his true intentions! If I suddenly disappear it's because Kurt has found me and made sure I could not tell his secret again!

So there it is - finally! I wasn't kidding that it took me all day to write this post! You don't have to continue this if you don't want to, it's all up to you!

On a side note, as you can see I put up a schedule over there <----- in the side bar. Obviously, I cannot hold to that. So, I'm going to remove it or at least change it to make it so I can actually keep up with it!

And on a personal note - my muse hates me this month! I can't write ANYTHING it seems without a headache and a fight with my muse! It's really starting to depress me. I would say I'm going to take a break from the online world but like that would ever really happen. I'm going to give it one last go around tonight, see what happens. Who knows, maybe now that I blogged/talked about it, my muse will cooperate!

New Home for The Writer's Academy

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen - it is finally happening! Thanks to the wonderful Ashy who gave me a fabulous idea, I can now pull this off! The Writer's Academy, as many of you know, is a group on Writing.Com. But I have now begun contruction on *drum roll* thewritersacademy.com! Woot!

I am so excited about this! Seeing it become it's own entity is just amazing! When I first started it, I never thought I would be here, over a year later. I have had so much support running this project, so I need to say a few thanks.

Thanks to the first group of students that went through the Academy (like Annie). It was buggy there at the beginning and they were so paitent as I changed things up on them almost every month. *5 students originally enrolled, and 2 went the distance and graduated! A 3rd, left but came back later and graduated!*

To my most dedicated professors -- Dawn and Ashy. Ashy was named Professor of the Year. She has pretty much been with me since the beginning. She's a great sounding board for new ideas! I'm so glad that she is willing to stay on as a Professor have this transition! Dawn has been with us a few months, but she is just as great. She always has positive and helpful things to say to the students and she also has some great advice for me and my ideas. I hope Dawn will be able to stay with us too!

There are so many others, but I just can't name them all! So many people have given me great ideas and suggestions - but the first group of students, Dawn and Ashy, were really dedicated and stuck by me through all the changes over the past year. I can't thank them enough.

Once the site is up, I'm going to make a call for Beta testers to run through the paces to make sure everything works!

Okay, I am off to grade homework! *cries* I just remembered two of my novel students graduate at the end of this month. *sigh* I am going to miss reading their novels! This is the hard part about running the Academy. I get so close to my students, especially the ones that take the longer 6 to 8 month programs. We really connect and help each other (yes, they help me too!). It's sad to see them go! Hopefully, they'll be like Annie though, and keep in touch. (She stills calls me Professor sometimes! HAHA)

**Update 6:33 pm**

I'm about ready to pull my hair out! Webs.com dude - it's a great site it really is. I've used it forever, but there are SOME TIMES!!!

*goes back to work, muttering curse words under her breath*

Silent Communication Contest - Winner!

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

*drum roll*

And the winner is -- Angelica Weatherby! She was the only one that entered (Really people? 20 followers and ONE entry?) She has an adorable little story between a fox and a mouse (I didn't say it had to be people after all). Check it out!

Angelica to claim your prize send me an email at harleydpalmer [at] gmail [dot] com. Attach a word document of your novel that you'd like me to review. I'll email you back at that same address with the interview questions!

I still haven't heard from Mia about her win for the Deleted Scenes Week Contest I had a few weeks back. Send me an email Mia with your novel attached so that I can review it for you!

Seven Truths About Me

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Thank you so much Annie for this award! I have been struggling for something to post about these past few days and this award gives me something to blog about!

The rules for this award is to tell Seven Truths about myself and then pass it one to Seven People. Here we go!

It was really hard to come up with something unique, that I haven't already mentioned - so I decided to take a note from Annie and use a theme for these!

Theme: Writing & Reading

Truth #1: My poetry tends to be really dark. Seriously, have the tissues ready and your hands over your eyes if you ever read my poetry. I do have a few things that are just hilarious, but usually it's pretty dark (usualy written from my addicition days, so riddled with dark, twisted, demented things.)

Truth #2: I absolutely hate reading horror. I just can't do it! It's not that the author wrote it badly or anything like that. My imagination just won't allow me to read it AND sleep peacefully. It's just not possible. Also, the sad part (in my opinion) horror that doesn't scare me, bores me. So it's like, I can't win! (Or maybe the horror author can't win...) And I don't mean that I hate the book because it bored me, I mean that in the rare case, I feel like I wasted my time reading it because it was too cliche or whatever. So - I just don't read that genre, unless it's a student in the Writer's Academy. Then I buckle down, and make sure all the lights in the house are on!

Truth #3: I love reading mystery novels! It goes hand in hand for my love of crime shows on the tellie! I don't why exactly, but I think it's the "trying to make things right in a bad world" sort of deal. I just love it!

Truth #4: I write High Fantasy novels, but I usually don't read them. I don't know why either. I prefer to watch the movies but I will read an urban fantasy book in a heart beat! It's really weird and I know I need to break this habit. Reading books in my own genre will help me learn the market and all of that, but I guess I just have trouble finding them! It seems that urban fantasy (especially now) is more well known and popular than High Fantasy. Or maybe I'm just not looking in the right place....

Truth#5: I laugh meniacally (out loud) when I'm writing - why? Well that's because I just get so much enjoyment from torturing my characters! It's so much fun - and they are in my head all the while cursing me out. But when it's all said and done, they turn around and thank me because they got something out of it. (Like I finally let the girl get the guy after three chapters of sexual tension!)

Truth #6: I have, uh, steamy *ahem* dreams about some of my male characters. Okay, now this is definately insane - but I think I'm awesome for admitting it! I do, it's sad, I know! But - it is so easy to write those steamy scenes in my novels so HA!

Truth #7: I get inspiration at the most random moments. Okay, I know so many other writers are there going "Who doesn't?" But it's like - I'm reading CSS codes for building a website and my brain randomly pops up with a fight scene between two characters! How does that make any sense? Sure, if I was watching a movie with a fight scene and I thought of that, I would not think it was odd - but CSS codes make me think of a fight scene? That's just bizarre! But, it's the way my brain operates...it's insane in my head - can you tell?

And the seven wonderful people who recieve this award:

1. Dawn Embers
2. Eisely Jacobs
3. Jay Eckert
4. Addison
5. Mia
6. Medeia Sharif
7. J. D. Brown

There we go! Now what I am going to do for the future, so that I don't have a day where I don't know what to write for this blog is make a schedule. At least, I'm going to try. I have so many ideas for what I want to put into this blog that it's hard to pick what to write about first! But hopefully making a schedule will keep things in order. (The hard part would be STICKING to the schedule as my brain is so utterly RANDOM!)

Wordless Communication

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Here is my scene that inspired the Silent Communication Contest. You can read about the rules and how to enter here.

It's a long scene (apparantly I can't post short ones!) from my novel "The Faery's Tale: Part One". Hopefully it works well since during this rewrite, this part was added fresh - so it's the first draft for this scene.


Cadmus watched Bel run away and wondered what he had done wrong. He went over to the buffet table and poured himself a drink. He did not understand what had just happened. He replayed the night over in his mind. They shared whispers over dinner. He was willing to admit that her breath on his ear caused tingles down his spine. They danced but he tried not to get too close or hold her too tightly. She seemed to be having fun. He got lost in her eyes as they danced. He asked her to go on a walk because he wanted to stay in the mood. The melancholoy music and greyed under water world depressed him but in her eyes he saw brightness and color.

What made her skin pale and her eyes widen in fear? She could have simply said no. Yes, he would have been dissappointed but he would not push the issue. It was just a walk.

He looked across the room to where Drache and Rosyani stood, their head tilted toward each other in coversation. They were never outwardly affectionate toward one another but he could see the passion between them. Drache noticed him and raised his glass. Cadmus raised his in return.

He sighed and strolled out of the great hall. Without someone to talk to, he had no desire to stay at the celebration. He returned to their wing in the castle and wondered where Bel was hiding. He poked his head into Drache's room. Karina was sleeping peacefully on the bed and Sari dozed in the chair. He smiled and quietly shut the door.

He turned around and noticed Bel's bedroom door was cracked open. He put his ear up to the door and froze before he knocked. He could hear Bel's choking sobs. What had he done to make her cry?

Should he go in and make sure she is all right or leave her in peace? He stood there for a few moments trying to decide. He felt awful for making her cry, even though he was not sure of the reason. He finally decided to check on her. He could not stand to hear her choke on her tears.

She whirled around with a gasp when he stepped into the room. "Prince! I'm so sorry! I'll come back to the celebration, I just need a minute."

He shook his head.

"What? But I just...left you there!"

"I don't care about that, Princess. I was only worried about you."

Bel turned away from him and put her head in her hands. Cadmus shut the door and sat down in the chair. He leaned forward and held her shaking hands in his. Unsure of what to say, he merely sat and held her hands. He thought to hug her but was certain she would reject the affection. He tried to look her in he eye, to search for what pain he may have caused. Her eyes darted about the room as she tried to control her emotions. She took her hands from his and wiped at the tears that did not seem to stop flowing.

He noticed her eyes had changed. In the soft light that came through the window, he saw that her normally pale blue eyes had turned to a stormy hue. Her full lips, usually set in a small smile, worried between her teeth. He felt distanced from her wondering what he could do to calm her. With no knowledge of what he had done to cause her to break down in the first place, he was at a loss at what to do.

Her hands gripped the edge of the bed as if she would float away if she did not hold on to something. She rocked back and forth, shaking her head. Her eyes would shut tightly, like she was trying to blot out a memory.

He laced his fingers in hers and moved to sit next to her on the bed. She squeezed her eyes shut and moved back as if she was expecting him to hit her. He quickly sat back down in the chair but kept hold of her hands. His face must have showed his confusion for she took a deep breath and opened her mouth to speak.

He rubbed her knuckles with his thumb to say it was all right but she shook her head in disagreement.

She wiped the tears from her cheeks and took another deep breath. "It was my twenty-first birthday. My Mother threw a ball to celebreate. I danced with only one faery - Tenier, Duke of Barque." Her eyes looked far away as she whispered her story. "He was the most powerful faery in the kingdom after my brother. I was so taken with him. He was older by fifteen years. He knew so much. I was entranced when he spoke. I wanted to learn everything he knew." She paused and Cadmus feared what she was going to stay next. Already his mind had a whirlwind of horrible possibilities. "The night of the ball he..."

Cadmus squeezed her hand. He did not want her to feel she had to explain anything to him. He was not embarassed or angered that she left him on the dance floor or about the celebration. He only wished to make the choking sobs stop, to end her pain.

She nodded. "He asked me to go for a walk. Of course, I said yes. So stupid! He asked me to be his wife. Without warning, all of a sudden, he just asked. I wasn't ready to settle down. He got so angry! Said he had been waiting to have me and that he was going to have me regardless." Her voice cracked but she continued, the words tumbling from her mouth. "He drug me to the bushes, ripped my dress. I couldn't even scream! He was trying to...his hands were all over...I said no but he didn't stop!"

She put her fists against her head. Cadmus sat on the bed and wrapped his arms around her. She clung to his shirt and sobbed hysterically into his chest. He smoothed her hair and noticed that his own hands shook with rage. He was ashamed to be a male. He could not understand how any one would do such a thing. His brain quickly filled with visions to hunt down Tenier and kill him as slowly as possible. Cadmus never leaned toward violence but in this situation, he was more than willing to make an exeption. Tenier needed to suffer for a long time for what he had done.

He forced her to look at him. He brushed her hair away from her face and wiped the tears from her cheeks. She was beautiful, even when she was upset. "Princess, I..." He was not sure how to phrase what he wanted to tell her. He wanted to save her, protect her, comfort her - but how? He could not put his feelings into words and stuttered to find the right ones.

"He's never going to hurt you again," he whispered. She shook her head wildly, apparantly not believing his words. The tears flowed again and she looked down at her trembling hands.

"He's dead."

Cadmus was a little dissapointed. Tenier needed to suffer. He hoped the faery's death was a slow and agonizing one. She repeated the statment in a whisper so soft, he was not sure she actually said it. Something in her body language made the gears in his head start to turn. After a horrifying experience of someone taking advantage of her, she still allowed him to hug her, be close to her - why? Was there a hidden meaning in her words? He began to think that she caused the faery's death. He shook his head. Surely a faery as meek and gentle as her could not kill another - could she?

She wrapped her arms around her stomach and rocked back and forth. Their eyes locked and for a few moments her body stilled. Her eyes said it all. Cadmus's body stiffened as her silent words filtered through his rage filled brain. His mind threw different scenearios at him of all the ways she could have done it, but he never expected the words she said next.

"The knife from his belt. Before he..." The tears starting flowing again and she angrily wiped them away.

All the pieces fell into place. He could clearly see the scene in his head. Her fear, fighting him, and the knife her only saving grace to protect her innosence. She was not to blame but he could tell that she felt shame and guilt over it. She did what she had to do, to survive, to protect herself.

He reached out and gripped her chin, forcing to her eyes to gaze into his.

She scoffed and rolled her eyes. "He may have been a horrible being, but what I did was wrong," she whispered.


She looked at him in shock. She honestly thought he was going to hate her for what she did. He could not believe it. It pained him to know that she had lost a bit of herself anyway. That in trying to save her innocense, she lost it at the same time. How is that justice?

He hated that she had to live with the thought that she took another creature's life for the rest of hers. He was certain it would haunt her forever. He wished he could lesson the pain of it, even just a tiny bit for her. It was not fair that she had to deal with so much pain.

He tucked her hair behind her ears and was glad to see the stormyness in her eyes slowly fade away. He knew that talking about a painful experience can be theraputic, but actually seeing it happen surprised him. She looked lost now as if she did not know where to go next.


I didn't post the whole scene as there is more, but I didn't want to make you read forever! Hope you like it! I want to see what you can come up with so go learn about the Silent Communication Contest!

--**Check out my guest blog Friday at Wicked Writers about book reviewing! You can see how I review novels and stories!**--

Silent Communication Contest

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Yes, my wonderful 20 followers! Since you all have been following me for a while now, I thought to have a little contest.

In my novel, I am working with two characters that are both quiet types of people. Because of that, I am having to put more of their "dialogue" into "expressions". With that in mind, I want to see how YOU guys would come up with a scene with the same idea! I will post mine in a post tomorrow - it's rather long so, I'll put it in it's own post.

Contest Rules
1. The scene must have at least two characters in it.
2. The scene must convey a full conversation between the characters using facial expressions, mannerisms, and body language. (Characters using sign language, writing, or telepathy do NOT count.)
3. Keep your actual dialogue to a minimum (about 4 quotes of dialogue every 500 words).
4. Post the scene in your blog then link it in a comment here, so I can read it.

Deadline: Friday, March 19, 2010. (I'll start reading on Saturday!)

Prize: 2 interviews - one about you and one about your recent novel/story AND a review of your novel/story (done by me and posted in this blog).

I can't wait to read what you guys come up with! I'll be posting my scene tomorrow, so read that if you need a little help or hint to what I'm talking about. Have fun!

--->I still haven't heard from Mia about her win for the Deleted Scenes Week Contest I had a few weeks back. Send me an email Mia with your novel attached so that I can review it for you!

--**Check out my guest blog Friday at Wicked Writers about book reviewing! You can see how I review novels and stories!**--

I lied!!

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

As promised here is the post with the explanation of the 6 truths and 1 lie I posted about a few days ago when I got the wonderful "Creative Writer Award" from Jay.

1. I have five tattoos and want more. TRUTH
I have a teal moon on the outside of my right ankle, a green and purple butterfly on the inside of my left ankle, a cross with a rose wrapped around it on my left arm, a pink pegasus on my right arm, and a dragon holding a crystal ball on my left shoulder blade. The butterfly and dragon are unfinished and the pink pegasus SHOULD have been red (supposed to be like a horse-o-death) but I was drunk, biker campout, yea - so it came out lookin like a my little pony - disgusting! I definately want more but I should prolly finish and fix the ones I have first!

2. I was stabbed in the chest during a fight. TRUTH
Sorry Anne - this one is true. Got into a fist fight with a guy and he pulled out a knife. I tried to side step the blade and move in closer, but he moved before I could react and shebam. Luckily, since I saw it coming (just a little bit too late) it wasn't THAT bad of a wound. I do have a scar though and I didn't go to the hospital for it either. (Though I probably should have...)

3. I used to own a semi-automatic rifle. TRUTH
Yes, I loved it too! H&K SL8, shot .223 rounds, 10 round clip! It was the UGLIEST lookin thing ever - but SO beautiful! Grey polimer plastic made up the entire thing with the exception of the barrel and slide. *sigh* Then my Dad SOLD IT!! *dies a little inside* Yea he sold it to buy an AK-47 look a like or something when that 10 year ban that Clinton passed was no longer in affect. *cries*

4. I listen to the Backstree Boys. TRUTH
Sorry Annie and Media - this one is true. I know! So many of your are crying WHY!? There was a time in my life where I was technically, sort a, kinda - okay I was a preppy! Yes, hard to believe I know, but it's true. The Backstreet Boys took over my locker in Junior High - pictures all over the place! I still listen to their music as part of my brain DOES enjoy listening to it on the rare occasion!

5. I have two kids, not twins, that share the same birthday. LIE
Skylar's birthday is August 9 but her baby brother Mason's birthday is August 4. CLOSE, but not the exact same. Mason's due date WAS the 9th and my husband and I made jokes about it. But he came a few days early.

6. I was a cheerleader in high school. TRUTH
Yes, Jen - I was a cheerleader. Remember I said before that I once was preppy? Yup, it morphed over into my freshman year of high school. The summer between that year and my sophomore year was when it all changed and I turned into the cynical, twisted, b....yea, you get the idea!

7. I have been married two times. TRUTH
Ashy, I thought you knew this one! Yes, my first marriage only lasted 6 months and many people would say that it didn't count, but since it wasn't annuled, then it does. I still have to show my divorce papers at certain times (like when I got married the second time). Why didn't it work you ask? LOTS of reasons - I was 19 for one, I was drinking WAY too much for two, and I married him simply for his money! So -- yea. Did we divorce because he lost money? No, I left because he was a total .... BUTTHEAD! Yea that's a nice way to put it... I married my second husband because I loved him! Awww! (A year and counting!)

So there you go! A little more about me - insight into why I'm completely INSANE!

Line by Line Editing: Part Three: Balanced Sentences

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Anyone who has taken a math class knows that one side of the equation has to equal the other. (Okay math genius' - don't get technical on the less than, greater than stuff! You know what I mean!) a + b = c

Oh? Did I just get a few of you to quit reading? Why is this important to writing you ask? Well, sentences are the same way! They need to balance on both sides of the sentence. Verb tense, noun association, etc - all need to match. Instead of the equal (=) sign, in a sentence we have words like "and", "but", "neither...nor", "either...or", etc.

More often than not, balanced structure comes naturally to us. Men are "tall, dark, and handsome" or Ceasar's "I came, I saw, I conquered". You don't need to know the technicalities of English grammar to know when a sentence sounds off or "unbalanced" like "We are told to live our own lives and that we should not interfere with how others behave." A professional editor would be able to point out at the infinitive phrase and the "that" clause make the sentence unbalanced. Do you need to know that exactly? No, but you can still read it and tell it's wrong.

Pairing and Series
Things linked as compound subjects, verbs, objects, and modifiers have to be the same grammatical form. In other words, they need to match. While editing, if you find that they don't, you can easily fix it by making them match or changing the sentence structure entirely to be rid of the need for parallelism in the sentence.

Examples: (from page 56 of "Line by Line: How to Improve your own Writing")
Wrong: The proposed transmission line is ugly, unsafe, and an environmental danger.
Right: The proposed transmission line is ugly, unsafe, and hazardous to the environment.
(The objects need to match in tense. They need to be logically similar.)

Wrong: The process is slow, prone to politics, and robs all concerned of direct responsibility.
Right: The process is slow and prone to politics, robbing all concerned of direct responsibility.
(Make sure the verbs match! You may need to rearrange the series to make it work correctly.)

Wrong: The applicants were all college graduates, of similar socioeconoic background, and interested in business careers.
Right: The applicants were all college-educated, similar in socioeconomic background, and interested in business careers.
(Sometimes you need to change the number and take out prepositions.)

Wrong: Your cover letter should include information about your present employment and why you want to change jobs.
Right: Your cover letter should include information about your present employment and explain why you want to change jobs.
(Sometimes you need to add another verb to balance the sentence).

Correlative Conjunctions
Did I just lose you again? Don't worry, I'll explain. Correlative conjuntions are: either...or, neither...nor, both...and, not only...but also, not just...but also, not simply...but also, not merely... but also. "But" can also be included here if what falls after it intesifies rather than supplements.

These conjunctions need to be used correctly or the reader may be lost or confused. Read over correlative conjunctions to check what they introduce and correct any mistakes.

Wrong: I not only sent a copy to my supervisor but also to the head of the division.
Right: I sent a copy not only to my supervisor but also to the head of the division. (Page 59, Line by Line)
(In the first sentence, "not only" does not introduce the subject "I". This can be confusing to a reader and so it needs to be fixed to introduce the correct object, "copy")

Wrong: In pointing out the dangers of nictotine, the surgeon general is not only referring to smoking cigarettes but also chewing tobacco. (Page 60, Line by Line)
(So, the surgeon general was chewing tobacco when he made the statment?)
Right: In pointing out the dangers of nicotine, the surgeon general is referring not only to smoking cigarettes but also to chewing tobacco. (Page 60, Line by Line)
(Since "referring" and "chewing" are not the two verbs that need to relate to the general, but "smoking" and "chewing" to tobacco, "not only" needs to be in the correct place.)

Don't over use correlative conjunctions! If a simple "and" or "but" will do, then use it.

Wrong: I have the figures for both the first quarter and the second. (Page 61, Line by Line)
Right: I have the figures for the first and second quarter.

Poets can get away with pairing odd things in a sentence - like Lewis Carroll with kings and cabbages. As novel and story writers, unless in dialogue, this can make for a confusing read. The sentence needs to be clear.

Wrong: The police found no alcohol in his bloodstream but a loaded gun in his car. (Page 67 Line by Line)

Fixing the Problem
I was not sure how to sum up this section. There are so many more examples and ways a sentence can be imbalanced. I tried to point out the most common ones for you though.

Here are three tips to help you keep up with balanced sentences, quoted from "Line by Line: How to Improve your own Writing" by Claire Kehrwald Cook. (Page 73-74)

1. Look at the items you present in series to see that they match ing rammatical form, that you haven't interingled nouns with verbs or adjectives, infinitives with gerunds, or phrases with clauses. Make sure too, that you have been consistent about repeating initial prepositions, conjunctions, possessive pronouns, or articles; you usually have to include such words with all serial items or with only the first. If you can't put all the items in the same form, consider recasting the sentences to eliminate the series; the grouping may be illogical.

2. Notice the lements connected by "and" and "or" and make sure that they are grammatically equivalent. Then ask yourselv whether readers will immediately recognize what terms the conjunctions link. If the sentence componenets that look like a paira re not he ones you intend, revise to preclude misreading. Pay particular attention to the words that follow correlative conjunctions and make sure that they match exactly. If you cannot put coordinate elements in the same form without sounding unnatural, consider uncoupling them; they may be incompatible.

3. Finally, look closely at the elements you compare, especially those that follow "as" or "than", to see that they are logically and grammatically similar, that youa re comparing like with like. Also make sure to group like with like; check prepostional phrases that begin with words like "along with" and "among" to see that their objects belong in the same caegory as the words the phrases modify.

It sums up quite nicely all the things to check for in your sentences to ensure they are balanced.

Don't stress over the technicalities! If you can't find "prepositional phrases" that easily, it's okay. You can still read a sentence and "hear" that it's wrong. That moment when it doesn't sound right and you know how to fix it - you just don't know why. Picking out unbalanced sentences, is easy to do. Read your manuscript out loud! It sounds much different aloud than inside your head. I do this often with anything I write, including blog posts! If something doesn't sound right, tweak it until it does! And as I have said many times before, it never hurts to have someone else read over your work, even if they are not a professional editor. Another person will still catch things that you can't - as you are emotionally attached to your work!

Listen to Your Characters

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

A few of the characters from my novel "The Faery's Tale" told me I had them portrayed ALL WRONG! (Notice I said a few, not just one -- a grande total of SIX!) So - I have had to practically start all over! Which is fine, the story is coming out a lot smoother and with more 'oomph' to it. I have no complaints - really.

Okay I do, but not because the story is coming out better. The worst part for me is having to delete GREAT scenes because they no longer work with the character personalitites. *sigh* Another thing is realizing that scenes I took out during the last revision (or the one before) work great and so they need to be edited and added back in!

The funniest part is that now that the characters are written the way they should be - the words flow onto the paper SO much easier. The first draft was HELL to write and now I see why! I've discovered it's important to do what you characters say - not what you think will sound good. I know I sound completely insane, but I'm being serious.

If the character first shows up in your head as being a goodie-two-shoes that discovers it's fun to be bad sometimes? LET HER DO IT! (I'm talking about my character, Letarri by the way). I of course did not do this the first go around and I paid for it dearly!

Here is an example of what I am talking about - this will also give you a clear indication of how my writing style has changed in five years (Yea I started this that long ago, quite writing for a long time, etc etc. I might tell the story later).

The followings scenes are with Princess Letarri and Prince Etharas Tryalis. He drinks quite a bit. The scene takes place in a tavern. Take a look at the difference in Letarri's character. (You can see that Etharas isn't really the same either - he's another one that told me I had it all wrong.) Keep in mind, the first draft scene, no matter how you look it, is HORRIBLY written!

First Draft Scene: (Exerpt from Chapter 7)

**The scene: Letarri is visiting Etharas's kingdom of Finnat (she's from Achatar). They head to the tavern with Etahras's cousin Echry for a few drinks before Etharas and Letarri have to leave on their journey**

“To the Kingdom of Finnat!” Echry said as a toast. Letarri toasted with her water without showing any sign of disgust. Etharas toasted and took a big gulp of his drink. It burned as it went down his throat but in a way it was comforting. Since last night, memories of his Mother had been running through his mind. Now he might have a chance to stop thinking about it.

Keltara, one of the barmaids, came up to the bar.

“How’re ya fella's doin’?” she asked.

“We’re doing great Kel. How are you?”

“As good as can be expected. I’m about sick of this place though. Too many drunks wantin’ to unite to me.” She rolled her eyes and walked towards the kitchen. She paused when she noticed Letarri.

"What happened to your clothes?" she asked.

"A cleaning accident," Letarri replied.

"Well, we can't have ya walkin' 'round like that. People might think you're from Achatar. Come on, I'll give you one of my old ones, that don't fit no more."

Letarri looked at Etharas and he nodded. Trusting in Ethara's trust of Keltara, Letarri followed the faery to the back of the tavern.

“I can understand why males would want to unit to her. She is beautiful,” Echry said.

“Your parents would kill you if you got involved with her,” Etharas said.

“True, but she’s still beautiful. Don’t you think so?”

Etharas only nodded. He finished his glass and ordered another. Echry had barely touched his drink.

Echry kept talking about Keltara while Etharas kept drinking. Letarri returned wearing a black dress and silently sat back down. She stayed silent not wanting to make Echry more suspicious about her than he already was. By the time Echry had finished his first glass, Etharas had finished six.

“What’s wrong with you? I’ve never seen you drink like this,” Echry finally said.

“I’m trying to forget my Mother,” Etharas said before he finished his seventh drink. He ordered another but this time a Facilis. It was stronger liquor than Caderis. This made Echry very nervous.

“Etharas, I think that’s enough. You can’t handle this much alcohol,” Echry said.

“Who are you to tell me what to do?” Etharas snapped.

Echry finished his second drink. He wished he could figure out what was wrong with his cousin. He was always the tough one. Etharas did not even cry when his Mother died. At least no one saw him. Echry looked to Letarri for help but she seemed just as lost as he did.

“She was so beautiful,” Etharas said dreamily. “You remember? She was so kind and compassionate. Why would anyone kill her? I wish I knew where they were. If I ever found out who did that to her, I’d kill them,” Etharas pounded his fist on the bar. Gilgaris took that as a signal for another drink.

Etharas drank it in one gulp and slammed the glass back down. Neither Echry nor Letarri knew what to do.

Letarri sat staring in amazement and worry. She felt sorry for Etharas but did not understand his need to drink so heavily. She never had the urge to drink away her Father’s memory. Yes, it did hurt her to think of him dead but she always tried to stay positive. She remembered what he was like instead of trying to forget him. She wished she could help Etharas but she did not know how. He was trying to deal with his pain in a way she did not understand. She felt the only thing she could do was to stay quiet and listen.

“When I was a child, my mother used to sing to me. She’d sit there for hours on end singing until I was asleep or until my tears stopped. She had the most beautiful voice.” Etharas’s voice broke and he ordered another drink.

Echry and Letarri could only listen. They did not know what else to do. Etharas was too drunk to listen to advice and too sad to laugh at a joke.

“I’m never going to get united. I wouldn’t want my heart broken like my Father’s. He walks around the castle in a daze. The idiot. If he’d never fallen in love in the first place.”

“Yes but if he hadn’t been with your Mother, you wouldn’t be here either.”

“Oh shut up Echry. What do you know? You still have your Mother.”

Echry was stung by Etharas’s words. He had known Etharas since they were young children. Echry felt the loss as well though he knew not in the way Etharas did. Playing with each other as children, both their Mother’s became important parts of their lives. Etharas was as close to Echry’s mother as Echry was to his. Echry could not understand Etharas’s pain though. Etharas was right; Echry still had his own Mother. Just as Letarri felt, Echry could not understand why Etharas would choose to drink his Mother’s memory away.

Etharas was starting to feel sick. The room was spinning, making him feel dizzy. In the next second, he fell off the barstool. The world was starting to fade and the last thing he saw before it disappeared was Echry trying to catch him.

Newest Scene: (Excerpt from Chapter 6)

**The Scene: In a tavern in Lastor, Nenal - a stopping point on their journey. Prince Cadmus Hykartis from Cydian joins the fun this time. I didn't put the entire scene this time, skipping to the important points.**

Letarri paused at the base of the stairs. She peered through the smoke at the patrons as they drank ale from large mugs, laughed or even yelled at each other.

She was not sure why she decided to come down stairs. She tried to convince herself that it was not the handsome Prince Tryalis. When her heart skipped a beat as her eyes landed on him, she knew her excuse was weak.

He sat at the bar with Prince Hykartis. They laughed with the bartender and the barmaids, completely relaxed. She wondered how two princes could fit into a tavern crowd so easily. They looked comfortable in the element as they joked with other patrons.

Letarri took a deep breath and forced herself to relax. She glided across the wood floor, cringing as she stepped on food, spilled ale, and who knew what else. She sat on a barstool next to Prince Hykartis. They turned to look at her with puzzled faces.

She smiled nervously at them but her mouth would not form any words.

“What’ll be little lady?” the bartender asked in a gruff voice. A cigar hung out of his mouth, puffing smoke into Letarri’s face.

“I’ll have whatever they’re having.” She motioned to her two traveling companions. The bartender stared at her in shock. “Please?” she added nervously.

The bartender continued to stare at her as he poured a golden liquid into a tiny glass. He set it in front of her then stepped back. Letarri picked up the glass and looked to the two princes.

Prince Tryalis put his glass to his lips, titled his head back, and swallowed the drink in one gulp. With all eyes on her, Letarri repeated the action.

She coughed and choked as the liquid burned her throat. The faeries around her laughed but she failed to see the joke.

“Feels good doesn’t it?” Prince Tryalis said.

Letarri smiled. “In an odd sort of way.”

“It hurts so good!” Prince Hykartis laughed.

“Prince Try…”

“Wait. Call me Etharas in a place like this,” he said looking around.

Prince Hykartis nodded with a serious look on his face.

“Etharas.” She licked her lips, tasting his name. She was not used to addressing royalty so informally. It was exciting to not follow the rules for once. She wondered if Rosyani ever felt this way when she would sneak out of the castle.

“Now what happens?” she asked.

“We have another drink! Shots over here!” Cadmus called. One of the barmaids poured them each another glass.

“Here we go.” Etharas raised his glass in the air with Cadmus and Letarri following suit. “To us and this insane journey that has been thrust upon us.”

They clinked their glasses together then poured the drinks down their throats. Letarri coughed once and quickly recovered. Etharas and Cadmus cheered.

“What is this stuff anyway?”

“Caderis. A strong liquor,” Cadmus explained.

“Strong? But I don’t feel any different.”

Etharas laughed. “You will. Just wait. You’ve never drank before have you?”

She shook her head. “Just a few glasses of wine at weddings and such.”

Cadmus chuckled and elbowed Etharas in the side. “Oh, this will be interesting.”


“This country is amazing! Love the manner of dress,” Etharas said watching the barmaids walk about the tavern. Letarri looked too, taking in all the green skin that showed.

Letarri knew that the pattern of beads in the females’ hair stood for something but she could not remember exactly what. Their dresses looked like something she would only wear for her husband in the privacy of their bedroom. A tight fitting band covered their breasts and not much else. Some of the females had strings of beads hanging down from the band to cover their stomachs while others had sleeves or straps. The skirts were merely a band around the waist with four wide strips of fabric handing down to their ankles. Every inch of their leg showed when they walked. Letarri noticed that many of them purposefully would show their legs while they stood or sat, talking to the patrons.

“Oh yea, it’s a beautiful thing,” Cadmus added.

“Hey that’s not…” Letarri suddenly felt like an explosion had went off in her stomach. Warmth pooled then spread throughout her entire body. Her skin tingled causing a sloppy smile to cross her face. Her arms felt heavy and sluggish and her brain slowed to a crawl. Is this what they meant?

“That’s not what?” Cadmus chuckled, elbowing Etharas.

“Umm...that’s not…fair. I think.”

They laughed and put a hand to their sides as if they ached.

“Not fair? You don’t like the males’ dress here?” Etharas smiled.

Letarri scanned the room again. All the males were shirtless, wearing only tights and a loin cloth.
“That’s not the point!” Her gaze continued around the room while her companions laughed. Her sight landed on a hairy, fat male. His stomach hung over his waist band. He belched then scratched himself. “Ew! No, it’s not fair!”

Cadmus and Etharas continued to laugh, gasping for breath.

“Good thing we don’t dress like that uh?”

“Why not? Scared to?” Letarri giggled.

Etharas’s eyebrows shot up. “Me? Scared? Look it here little lady. I am not scare of anything.”

Letarri leaned forward, using the bar for support. “Then I dare you to travel all day tomorrow wearing..um..what they do.” She hiccupped.

“Oh! A challenge!”

“If I have to, then so do you!” he countered.

“Deal!” Letarri reached her hand across Cadmus to shake hands. Etharas smiled wickedly and spit into his hand before reaching out to take hers. She snatched her hand away before he could grab it. She stared at him for a few moments in disgust before she spat into her own hand. “Cadmus is our witness.”

A small voice in the back of her head said she was making a big mistake. Over the noise of the tavern and the fog in brain, she barely noticed it. She was having fun and did not want logic to ruin it.


Etharas’s side hurt from laughing so much. He had not had fun like that in many years. His hands shook from the adrenaline rush that he got from it.

He kept his eye on the door looking for Letarri. She was so naive and innocent. He could not help but want to dirty her up just a little bit. Her hair was perfect every time he saw her. His fingers itched to muss it up.

Her eyes were really what caught his attention. They sparkled with a hidden secret. Her eyes missed nothing that went on around her, taking in every detail. He wondered what she thought about when she looked at him. That sparkle in her eye hid her thoughts though. He might just have to cheat and use his telepathic power to read her mind.

He smiled mischievously. He would definitely have to cheat and he would have so much fun doing it.

Do you see the amazing difference!? The best part is, since I didn't give away the whole thing about Etharas' mother in the same scene, I can put in another scene later on! And as you can see, it just READS so much better! I mean the flow, the structure - oh my gosh. Seriously, I cringe everytime I read that first draft!

My advice for the day - LISTEN TO YOUR CHARACTERS! They are usually always right!

Creative Writer Award

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

I have gotten my first award for this blog! Thank you SO much Jay ! This brightened my day - it was hard and stressful as my son is sick so this really made me smile!

The Rules for this Award

1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy and Paste the award on my blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Tell up to 6 lies and 1 truth about myself.
5. Tag at least 7 people for this award.
6. Post links to their blogs.
7. Comment on each of their blogs to inform them of the nomination.

My Statements

Okay I switched this so, it's 6 truths and 1 lie - and you have to spot the lie! (I'll post the correct answer in another blog post in a few days)

1. I have five tatoos and want more.
2. I was stabbed in the chest during a fight.
3. I used to own a semi-automatic rifle.
4. I listen to the Backstreet Boys.
5. I have two kids, not twins, that have the same birthday.
6. I was a cheerleader in high school.
7. I have been married two times.

The Tags

Okay here we go - 7 folks that get this award, although I'm sure they already have it at least once!

1. Anne Riley
2. Kurt Chambers
3. Annie McMahon
4. J.D. Brown
5. Ashelynn D. Sanford
6. Dawn Embers
7. Tamara Hart Heiner

Interview with Author Gregory Marshall Smith

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

I told myself that when I started this blog I was not going to do interviews since so many other blogs did them. However, I could not help but to talk about this guy!

I met Greg when he enrolled as a student in the Novel class at The Writer's Academy. He has been a wonderful student! He is an amazing writer and I often wonder why he enrolled as I don't feel I provided much help. I'm honored to have met such a great writer and person.

Let me thank you, Anastasia, for inviting me to do this. As a journalist, I’m not used to being on the receiving end of an interview.

It's my pleasure Greg. Why don't you tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Somerville, Massachusetts and raised in historic Medford, Massachusetts (unofficially the 7th oldest town in America; you may also remember it from “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”). I moved to Euless, Texas in 1982, got my B.A. in Journalism from Prairie View A&M University; got commissioned in the U.S. Navy; served in Japan aboard 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19); fought Saddam in Desert Shield/Desert Storm (not physically but against Exocet missiles, mines and SCUDs), and worked some odd jobs when I got out of the Navy.

Eventually, I got back into journalism with JDTV, Inc., a magazine company as a sports editor. I then moved over to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as a sports writer/copy editor/agate supervisor/feature writer. Since then, I’ve taught Hazardous Materials & Dangerous Goods training for American Airlines and currently cover Black College Sports for Examiner.com on a freelance basis.

Sounds like you've had lots of adventures! I know you're a sports writer but what made you decide to become a fiction writer?

Three words – “Creature Double Feature.” It was an anthology series on WLVI-56 in Boston back in the late 70s, that showed old grade B (and Z) sci-fi and horror flicks. My mother used to hate (still does, in fact) but my twin brother and I would not miss the show for the world. We’d stop playing outside to come in and watch it and my mother resigned herself to finding alternative entertainment for three hours ever Saturday.

As I got older, I realized how truly bad and cheesy those movies and I began working on creating better stories. And from what I’ve seen of the “original” movies on SyFy Channel, my work is far from finished.

Yes, I'm usually dissapointed by what the SyFy channel puts on sometimes. It's great that you're out there trying to write great Science Fiction. So, who gives you a bit of inspiration to write?

My original influences were Robert Heinlein, Lester Del Rey, Arthur C. Clarke and the writers of the Golden Age of Science Fiction – guys like Theodore Sturgeon (“Killdozer”) and A.E. Van Vogt and Edgar Rice Burroughs. I remember walking to the library in West Medford Square for their books and then, walking five miles to the main Medford library for even more books. In fact, I was lost almost half a day in the Sue Kellogg Library in Stone Mountain, Georgia where I live now.

Later, I began to add some influences, especially when I finally noticed that, in the future many science fiction books and movies were set in, there didn’t seem to be too many black people. So, I began to read Octavia Butler (“Lilith’s Brood,” “Xenogenesis”), Samuel Delaney (“Triton,” “Dahlgren”), Kim Stanley Robinson (“Red Mars,” “Green Mars”) and Steven Barnes (“Dream Park”).

My best find was a trio of old science fiction classics called “Black No More,” “Black Empire” and “Black Internationale” by legendary black journalism pioneer George Schuyler. Turns out he’s a distant relative of mine. So, his books are in my collection.

You seem to have some strong influences, which is good for any artist! Now, I know that you are published through sports writing, short story publications, and a few novels. How has life changed since you've been published?

Being published has given me a big lift. I feel the successful culmination of a lot of hard work. At the very least, I can go to high school reunions and National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) conventions as a published author.

Publishing books is only recent. My first published articles came from journalism. Having a byline, whether it was in a cable TV magazine for interviewing Arnold Palmer, online with boxer Larry Holmes or in the newspaper for covering a high school baseball game, I felt a certain amount of success and satisfaction. I mean, honestly, while science fiction is a specific genre for specific people, almost everybody likes sports.

My husband is so jealous that you interviewed Arnold Palmer by the way! Let's talk a bit about your writing specifically. How long does it take for you to write a novel and what's your schedule like for writing?

I have no firm timetable. Some writers like Stephen King have a set schedule – so many hours a day, so many days a week. Laurell K. Hamilton actually writes multiple books a day – for her Anita Blake and Meredith Gentry series. And don’t get me started on John Ringo and David Weber; those two are ridiculous with multiple projects.

The difference between them and me is – they have contracts. Editors and publishers are eagerly awaiting their books. Me? They don’t know me from the Gregory Smith who starred in Everwood (except that guy’s skin is a little lighter).

I try to write for at least an hour a day (on advice from Stephen King). But, it depends on how much writing I’ve already done, since I also do freelance sports. For example, now that college basketball tournament season is here, I tend to get a little burned out. So, I haven’t written any fiction for the last few days.

Writing for an hour everyday is a great exercise. I try to get two hours in but somedays it doesn't always work out like that! Do you character plot or have a detailed outline before you start writing or do you write on the fly?

I write fiction like I do sports – on the fly. I flesh out a beginning, middle and end in my mind, which leads to me tweaking everything fifty times. In school, I would write an “A-plus” essay or theme paper and then sheepishly go back to my desk to do the outline.

Alas, though, that approach has gotten me in trouble sometimes. There have been times when I’ve forgotten my characters’ names or where they were introduced in the book. With Land of the Blind, as you’ve seen, I had to add a list of characters for the readers (and, more importantly, for myself since I’d misplaced my original).

One thing I do plan, though, is research. I want to be like Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy and actually sound like I know what I’m writing about. Yeah, the technical stuff might have been boring in Crichton’s Andromeda Strain, but it was essential to understanding the story. I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and I’m still fascinated about how he created Middle Earth and got everything to mesh together so fantastically well. George Lucas only wishes he could have done as well with the Star Wars settings.

Amazingly, despite so many years writing, I’ve only just recently concentrated heavily on character development. I had primarily written short stories and felt I didn’t need to go so in-depth with development but the novels, well, they’ve proven a different beast altogether. Cantrell Ryker and Lin Tang in Hunters; Pegram Kimble, Mia Tran and Cayce Colvin in Slow Boat to China, and Anna Velasquez, Kober Chiang and Devereaux Marshall Fox in Land of the Blind have all shown a great need for deep characterization.

I'm the same way, Greg. I write on the fly and then find out later that I probably should have had an ouline to help me when I got stuck! Since you have a few works out there in the process of being written, do you have a critique group, editor, or do you self edit?

Self-edit mostly. I joined Writing.com in 2007 and have been letting the members critique my stuff. I’ve gotten some good suggestions, too, for improvement. Recently, I joined Harley Palmer’s Writing Academy and she’s been instrumental in boosting my confidence (Sometimes, I swear she’s two different people, though).

In the past month, I’ve also joined sites like Goodreads and Authonomy to try to get some more critiques.

Aww thanks for the compliment! I am glad I could help! And yes, I can be two different people sometimes - but I think all writers have a bit of split personality to them. You write in so many areas, what's the hardest part of writing that you've struggled with?

Character development. It’s hard coming up with new characters, especially the way I write. Though I can write a scenario featuring only a small cast of characters such as in my novella They Call the Wind Muryah, I tend to use a lot of people in most of my works. I try to think of how such a scenario would work in the real world. For instance, if giant spiders took over a town, like in my novella Crawl, wouldn’t the world – in this day of the Internet and 24 hours news coverage and camera phones – find out quick and, if they did, wouldn’t they send in the military? Or how can Devereaux Marshall Fox be the world’s most dangerous and hunted man without the whole world being involved?

Maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

Each character needs his or her own personality. One thing I tend to do is create a preliminary character list and then pretend it’s being made into a movie. I then try to think of the actors and actresses or friends or relatives who would be good for the role. Then, I create an amalgam of those people. Interestingly, a lot of celebs I crushed on as a kid creep into my characters – Lynda Carter, Lola Folana, Jayne Kennedy, Lindsay Wagner, Kristy McNichol, Tatum O’Neal, Nichelle Nichols, Kate Jackson, Etsuko Shihoma, Michelle Yeoh, Raquel Welch, etc.

On the other hand, physical characteristics for them give me fits. You can’t make them match too closely with real people, especially if they’re going to be bad guys or morons. The one exception is me. I use a lot of myself in my novels. You might notice someday that Marshall Fox and I have the same birth date, we both grew up in Medford and we both went to Prairie View A&M. You might also see that Cantrell Ryker’s humor is a lot like mine (though a lot of people might be asking “What humor?”).

You might also notice that the cities I live in feature prominently in my work. Hunters is set in Fort Worth, Texas, where I was living when I started writing it. Land of the Blind mentions Medford and Fort Worth. A sequel to Hunters will be set in Atlanta. Other items mention Yokosuka, Japan and San Diego, California.

Thank you SO much Greg for taking the time to answer my questions! It has been fun getting to know you a little bit more!

You all can find Greg:

Professionally -- Examiner.com under Black College Sports.

Fiction -- Smashwords (look for Gregory Marshall Smith)
Wicked Writers

Personal -- Facebook

To Write or Not To Write

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Have any other writer, besides myself had this situation happen to them? I sure hope so.

I have 7 different novels, all in different stages of writing/revising. Last year I decided it was time to really focus on ONE novel and get it ready for querying this year. Sounds like a smart plan doesn't it? Well for me, apparantly it wasn't.

Something has happened to me, either 1-I chose the wrong story to focus on at the moment or 2-my muse does not like the idea of working on only one story at a time. I thought about this for the last week or so and tried to work on a different novel. It worked for a day or two then the muse went away again and starting thinking about something else.

So what am I to do? How can I get my mind to focus on one thing at a time? I'm not used to opperating like that! However, I feel it is a skill that I need to learn if I am going to make it in this writing world.

My brain suddenly (seriously just now) had the thought that I could continue the way I have been with my writing - skipping to whichever novel my muse wanted to work on that day, and then have plenty of novels to choose from when they were ready to send out into the world. ..... Yea I'll let you think about that one for a second too. .....

So what am I to do? Because I know when NaNo comes around in December, I'll punch out novel number 8!!! Why? I honestly couldn't tell you. My brain has some serious issues and my muse likes to exploit the fact that my brain is off kilter a bit.

I thought starting this blog would appease my brain for the need or want to skip around. Apparantly not!

Any advice from my fellow writers? Should I continue writing the way I always have (skipping around as it suited my muse) or should I try to force myself to learn to write a different way? A part of me doesn't think it's a good idea to "force" my writing into a new way - forcing writing to me seems to make the story lose something along the way. So why don't I just stick to doing it the way I always did? Well, I'm starting to think that I'll never get anything published if I do. I mean who else has SEVEN UNFINISHED novels?

*sigh* Frankly, I think I bit off more than I could chew this year and I just don't know how to fix it or make it better. Have any other writers been in this same predicament? How did you get out it? What did you decide and why?

Winner - Deleted Scenes Week

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Okay here is the winner (and only submission) to Deleted Scenes Week!

Mia wrote an adorable "interview" between two of her characters. (Okay, no, it wasn't actually a deleted scene but it was the only thing submitted people!)

You really should go read it on her blog Literary Jam and Tost : Aspiring Writer to Published Novelist. (I just love the name of her blog, by the way!)

Congratulations Mia!! As the winner, I will be glad to review the manuscript for your novel! Simply attach the word document in an email to me and I'll get started!

I'll be having another little contest like this one soon everyone, so keep watching!

Tomorrow is the Start....

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Tomorrow morning I am going to talk to the Columbus Chamber of Commerce about starting my business. I am really excited! My wonderful husband is a business guru so he is going with me to make sure all the right questions get asked. (He's so sweet sometimes!)

They have this great thing, a "One Stop Shop" with lawyers, tax representatives, and other business 'helpers' there on hand to talk to - FOR FREE - about starting a business.

Hopefully, they'll clue me in on the best (and perhaps cheapest) way to pull this off. I will do it regardless, it's just a matter of when. The more cost it is, the longer it will take. So hopefully, I'll get in on a great 'deal' so to speak to get this up and running sooner!

I am really excited and nervous - but I am so glad this opportunity is there. Columbus is really good about supporting small businesses, so it's no surprise really that this program is there. I am just so lucky that I found it! I just happen to call the Chamber of Commerce and a wonderful woman told me about it. I never would have known if I hadn't picked up the phone!

So - to all my fellow authors, business people, and dreamers - pick up the phone!! You never what they will say on the other end!

**Originally posted on my other blog "Abyss of My Soul"**