Baking Blogfest: Princely Stew

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Okay, I'm posting this early since there is another blogfest going on tomorrow too! Oi! Got a bunch of them coming up this week!

Anyway, this one is for a baking/cooking scene! Woot! My scene is a deleted scene from "The Faery's Tale" The beginning at one time was completely different than it is now, so this is the deleted, will never be used again, so thanks to Charity for giving me a chance to share it!

Check out the other entries for this here!

**The Scene - for those that know and have been readin the excerpts I put up lately, about Rosyani and Drache you know their relationship status and what not. Anyway, in this version, Rosyani got a job at a tavern and has her own house in Enthril - hiding from the King and her family. Drache comes over to have dinner with her once a week. Here is the scene**

She opened the door and saw a large shopping bag with feet. Drache popped his head over the bag with a smile.

“Hello. I brought dinner," he said.

“But I already have groceries.”

“Yes, but I thought tonight I would cook.”

“You can cook?”

“Of course.” Rosyani cocked her eyebrow at him. “Okay fine. I spent the whole day with the cook.”

“That is kinda sweet.”

“You know, working at the tavern has ruined your vocabulary.”

She smiled sweetly. “Thanks.”

Drache rolled his eyes and headed for the kitchen. Rosyani sat at the table to watch him attempt to cook. She found the whole ordeal amusing. It was the first time she had seen him second guess himself as he tried to remember the ingrediants.

Drache finally sat a plate in front of her.

“Oh goodness,” she whispered. “What is this?”

“Stew,” he said matter of fact.

She hesitated before picking up her spoon. It looked nothing like stew. It looked like something she would find on the side of the road. However, she didn’t want to hurt Drache’s feelings. After all, it was his first try.

Taking a small spoonful to her lips, she prayed for courage. She had to fight the urge to spit it out but she managed to swallow it.

She smiled at Drache who smiled back, looking pleased with himself. He scooped a huge spoonful into his mouth and quickly spit it out. Rosyani couldn’t help herself and burst out laughing.

“Sorry,” he said.

“No. It is fine. Truly. Just not my taste is all.

“Liar. I don’t understand what I did wrong.”

He looked down at his plate with the saddest look Rosyani had ever seen. She giggled.

“I think you just added too much spice then overcooked it. Otherwise it is great.”

“Sure. Are you still going to eat it?”

“Goodness no!” she laughed.

“That’s what I thought.”

He cleared the plates and put them in the sink.

“Here, we will start with something simple.” She smiled.

She took out bread, meat slices, cheese, and lettuce. She set the supplies on the counter before getting all the utensils she would need.

“Okay, what we are going to make is called a ‘sandwich’. You take this - called a ‘knife’…”

“Very funny,” Drache said crossing his arms.

She smiled innocently then handed him the knife. Drache made the sandwiches while Rosyani talked him through the process. Once back at the table, Drache seemed proud of himself.

Creating New Worlds: Part Four: Military and Weapons

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

This entry is going to be pretty general as you can go SO many ways with it - the main point here is research! Know what you are talking about!


Military is military! Yea right! There are different ranks in different branches of the military for one thing. And there are differences between say the US Navy and the other navies of the world. This depends on people and technology. If your characters are in a third world country, it is unlikely that they would have a huge army with a full navy and air force at their disposal. But if you have a major power (government research again here!) then you would have a large military force.

Not every story will need to do research for this. It depends. I have a notebook of just research notes that has a list of military ranks (for each branch - Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force). I don't use them all the time but I did have to use them when I was writing "The Kinir Elite". As the title states, they are a band of warriors thus a form of military. I had to do research to figure out what rank the hero of the story would have being in charge of this group. Of course, since they are elves I didn't follow the chain of rank exactly but I couldn't have done it at all without a bit of research into how the military works.

Then of course, the Military has it's own lifestyle, slang, and attitude. I grew up with an Army Dad so, I knew a little about that already but not everyone does. For this research I suggest talking to an actual military soldier. Internet research is great and can give you some great information but nothing like the real thing! I call my Dad quite often with questions but you can call or get in touch with any one in the armed services. Every town has a recruiters office that can help you with basic things of the military (especially with what certain units or jobs entail). I would love to be able to talk to a British soldier just once (no my stories don't require this, but I'd still like to just once!). But I'm weird like that I guess - besides, I could always use it in a story down the road right?

Talk to people as much as you can and don't be afraid to ask questions! Every interaction has the potential for being written about! Seriously. Don't discount anything that happens to you or is said to you by another person. You never know when it can be used again!


Name 5 weapons right now! Sword, Dagger, Pistol, Rifle, and Axe. Guess what, there are different types of each one of those! I love weapons but even this sort of research gets pretty boring, really fast. I'd rather learn hands on than read about it!

Knowing the weapons that you characters use is very important. Even if it's hand to hand combat, you need to learn the moves, the style. (Boxing, Karate, etc) There are SO many different things you could spend a week just on this topic and probably not make a dent in the expansive list! So be selective on what you are looking for (like don't google search "guns", you'll get a bazillian links - research rifles or semi-automatic rifles - something more specific to what you want.)

Think about all the possible weapons your character could carry on them. In my novels, it usually consists of a sword or a bow of some sort. Daggars are a must. In "The Story of William Archer" I even have some black powder pistols come into play. So I have done extensive research on swords, daggers, bows, and recently black powder pistols.

The best thing about this is usally my research also uncovers the history of the weapon (which may not have anything to do with my story, but I still like to know - it's interesting) and it also tells how the sword is made and how strong it is compared to other things. That gives me a reference point when writing. Or maybe spurs a scene with a blacksmith/weapon maker - gotta know how they are made before I can write a scene about it right? Exactly. Knowing the strength of the weapon gives me a reference point so that when he hits the blade or whatever against something, I know what will happen to it. (A broken sword could mean trouble!) Researching black powder pistols I learned how hard it was for people to keep up with the weapon as any moisture in the powder would prevent the gun from firing! Every little detail that gets you really intune with a weapon is great - you can write a better more realistic fight scene, the more you know the weapons your characters are using!

You never what hidden gems you'll find during your research. I went looking for some more indepth information about Medieval Knights Code of Honor and found a treasure trove of information about the Medival Ages - clothing, lifestyle, nobility titles, castles, weapons, food, etc. I mean it had every thing! I went on a copy and pasting and printing frenzy today people! Sure, I may not have needed all of that right this second, but I could just see the potential for having it. I mean - castle terminology - super important to me as pretty much all of my novls medieval style castles in them. Details about a Knights armor - also important to my work. I just found stuff that I never thought to look for, but realized I really should know about! It was a great day!

Creating New Worlds: Part Three: Government and Class

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Your story may not need a huge amount of research for this part, but you do need to figure out a little bit so that you can get titles, jobs, and position correct for your people.


There are many different types of government: dictatorship, republic, democracy, monarchy, communist, etc. Depending on your story you may only need to look up certain aspects of the government system or you might need to have a full understanding.

Like I said during the overview, in my novel "The Faery's Tale" I had to do research on titles in a monarchy. I didn't have to go into full detail about how a monarchy works politically, but I did need to know exactly how titles are passed down and rewarded.

My research allowed me to then make up my own system for another group of people and another novel. Once I had an understanding of how the title system worked, I was able to fiddle with it and make up my own system with my own titles.

If your story centers around government and political power, you'll have to do more research than that. I know that many fantasy/sci-fi writers out there are saying "Well I can just make it up so why research anything?" Well, in my opinion, I don't understand how you could make up a full system of government if you don't have at least a basic understanding of some form of government in the first place - especially since there are so many different systems out there. Find one that is similar to what you want, research it until your comfortable, then tweak that system to fit your needs. This will help you describe the people in your story and what they do. For example, if you have a governor of a certain region (state) but you want to call him something other than a governor - you'd still need to know what a governor does in relation to the rest of the government system.

Research is never a waste of time - and even in Fantasy and Sci-Fi you need to do it! You're story will be SO much better if you do.


Many government systems or styles of people have a class system - the upper class or the rich and the lower class or the poor. This can be split up into more levels if you like. In my novel "The Story of William Archer" I have the Trade Class made up of blacksmiths, carpenters, etc., the Merchant Class made up of shop owners and business people, the Political Class, the rich but usually the lower end of the scale (like the smaller titled nobles such as Barons), then the Noble Class made up of the nobles, obviously.

What about your world? Where would people fit into a class system? Research on this can be very helpful as well as throughout history class has changed drastically. You can use a class system from history or make up your own, as I have. But, I needed to have an understanding of class systems and how they work first! Sure, I could have gotten away with just making stuff up on this one. It is possible to have a class system work reasonably well without any knowledge of other class systems. However, research will help you create a more BELIEVABLE system and make it work in tandem with the government system! It would be awful to have a class system and a government system that didn't work well together!

Yes, research until you go cross eyed! Okay, not everyone will enjoy that as much as me I'm sure! I love doing research and learning new things so this part is fun for me! If it's dragging for you that's okay. Just remember that in the end, your story (that you do love) will read much better, be more accurate, and read smoother if you take the bit of time to research first. It's WELL worth it in the end!

And for those that are looking at this weeks schedule going "Oh my God, I'll never write Fantasy or Sci-Fi!" Please don't be discouraged! I am going into a huge amount of detail for this blog posts trying to cover every possibility you could encounter in a story. The end of this series, I'll give you a "Worksheet" to use when creating a new world. You'll see that it's really not that hard when you think about it! So - don't freak out just yet!

Creating New Worlds: Part Two: Commerce

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Creating a new world involves many layers of information that you need to know so that when you write your story, you know every detail.


Think about all the different types of currency in the world - Dollar, Pound, Marc, Franc, Yen, Euro, Pesos, etc. When creating a new world, what type of currency would they use? Silver Pieces? Paper bills with the King's picture on it? Are there different types to represent different amounts? Like Gold Pieces are more than Silver Pieces, etc.

Now you don't need to go into a huge amount of detail here really, as money is usually just a side thing that characters interact with. However, it still requires a little bit of thought. In my novel "The Faery's Tale" they have three types of coins A gold herty, a silver yanta, and a copper jute. I had to decide what they were made of and how much they were worth. In my notes I compared them to US dollar amounts, but only for my benefit. In the story, I don't mention that at all, merely say at certain points (maybe a grand total of 7 times) how many coins the characters hand over to a shop keeper or how many the gain after selling something.

But I needed to know the amount they compared to in order to make sure it stayed logical in the story. At one point they pay for a room in a tavern that was 5 copper jutes per person but then they charter a boat later in the story so I made it that they paid 3 gold hertys. If I had not figured out how much they were in amounts I could understand, I would have messed up both those interactions with payment amounts that didn't make sense.


What sort of jobs would your characters have? This goes in tandem with what sort of class system you have set up and what sort of kingdom/country the character lives in. Think of major trades.

If you look at the world (or for even smaller, the states of the US) each state has something that predominates the economy as far as jobs are concerned. Maine and Alaska are known for its fishing type of jobs. The midwest (Nebraska, Kansas, etc) are known for farming. So what about your country and the surrounding countries? Are they predominately miners? Farmers? Sailors? Lumber jacks?

Why would this be important? Well what sort of occupation would your characters have and how would that affect them? Does the main characters family farm as is the norm, but he or she would rather do something else? That can cause some conflict! There could be a scene where their job plays a major role in the plot (like a blacksmith being able to make weapons for the revolt against the King or something!)

Trading with other Countries

Okay, now this might be going a little bit too detailed, but if you do have a story that centers around politics and relationships with other countries, it is important. It can also help to determine jobs and such for characters that the main ones meet during their travels.

So say the main country of the story is predominately miners. They could trade what ever it is they mind with a neighboring country for cotton or something like that. This then can relate back to the previous part about characters and their jobs. If a miner travels to the neighboring country, most likely he'll run into a lot of farmers or sheep ranchers - for the cotton.

This is just logical as it is rare that one country does everything it needs to sustain itself. And even if it does, it's good to trade with others in order to have peace and allies. Again, this might not be hugely important but it is still something to think about as you write your story. It could have a huge impact on characters and how they interact with each other. It's just another layer to your plot and characters - a small one perhaps, but important to get that realistic feel when creating a new world.

Creating New Worlds: Part One: Overview

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

So, I decided this week to talk about creating new worlds. This applies mostly to Fantasy and Sci-Fi stories but I'm sure every one can take some of these tips and use them in all manners of writing.

No matter what we talk about this week, the thing that you must remember over all is that it must be believable. If you make up a location and a world, the reader must be able to believe that somewhere it could be possible. That is why this week I will go into great detail about building a new world.

There are so many things to our own way of life of how we name places and people, government, money, and even how we dress - so why wouldn't other worlds have these same things?

Do you have to go into ridiculous detail of history and politics for your new world? Not necessarily. We'll discuss this more over this week. Again, it all comes down to balance and the point of your plot. If you plot does revolve around political conspiracy, then yes you will need to know a great detail about the government of your world and how it works and operates - then ultimately how to bring it down or defeat it.

However, even if your novel doesn't need all that political stuff, you still should have a general idea of government for your new world. As an example, in "The Faery's Tale" the faery kingdoms are ruled by a monarchy - King and Queen. I did a lot of research about nobility titles and how they are passed down or granted. While it is not a huge point in my story, I wanted the titles of the characters to be as accurate as I could. I took that knowledge of the monarchy and made up my own system for the elves. I do not mention the specifics of government necessarily in the story, but again, accuracy is the key. If I had a person who was "Prince, Duke of Something" I wanted to make sure I had the right family member bear that title. (Which by the way, is the second son of the King and Queen.)

This type of research goes into all areas of making your world. Even language comes into play here! No, you don't need to go as far as Tolkien and make up an entirely new language. But think about how your characters would talk - or what language they would speak (even if you don't know it). The dragons in "The Faery's Tale" talk like people did in Shakespeare's time. So I had to do research on that. The faeries do speak another language but I don't need to make up words to show that really. It's a matter of word choice. My characters don't use the same slang or curse words we do, so I have to really concentrate on what I am writing and what they are saying so that I don't slip up! Again, research could be good here.

I have another novel where the characters sound British to me - but how do I convey a British sounding accent without using the word "British"? My husband provided the idea that they should use common British slang to clue in the reader! How genius! But as an American I had to again do research to find out some British slang terms.

If your kingdom has a large shipping port, you must do research on that to learn the proper terms for ship parts and maybe even a bit on docking procedures - depending on how much time your story takes place at the docks.

More to it than you thought huh? It's the little things that make a new or made up world believable! This week I'll talk about many different things that layer together to make a new world. Like I said before, you don't need to go overboard in the story to explain their government or religion unless it is prevalent to the plot - but if you have a character who does pray - how would they do that? What Deity would they pray to? That part you need to at least figure out. What about myths a character might tell their children? That's a story in and of itself!
Don't panic! We'll cover a lot this week but you'll find it really is easy to do! Just need some research and a big imagination!

Body Language Blogfest: Iron Food

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Yes, the day is finally here! I have to say I scrambled to put my own entry together! I know, I'm terrible! I almost missed my own blogfest!

Anyway, don't forget to check out the other entries! I'm sure they are great!

Here is mine - I had to take out the dialogue and edit the scene a bit for this - so let me know if you think it works this way or not.

(Etharas is tied to an iron stake in a tent)

He kicked himself again. If he had been able to stay alert, they would not have been captured. Drache would have found them with the grenan leaves and Letarri certainly would be fine. He had no way of knowing if she was still alive or not and without his powers, he could not find out. He thought about fighting against the iron and trying anyway, at least to gain knowledge of her well being. He shook his head. He could die trying making it a wasted effort.

Sefiya entered the tent with another tray in her hands. She set it on the ground next to Etharas. She filled the spoon and held it up to his lips.

He quirked an eybrow at her in question. She nodded. He rolled his eyes and turned away from her. He heard the spoon clank to the tray and he turned to look at her again. Her arms were crossed over her chest and she looked at him in question. Would he eat or not? He wished he could but the iron made his stomach roll.

She lowered her gaze and played with the poon. She looked back at him, her eyes gentle, and for a moment Etharas thought she would untie him. She raised a glass of water to his lips. He gazed at her over the brim of the cup, trying to read her face. She must have changed her mind about untying him as her eyes hardened once again and she left the tent. He sighed and wished he could have a real drink. At least it would ease his head ache.

So there you go, my scene! It did have a bit of dialogue the original way, but I sort of like it this way! I might leave it!

Show vs Tell: Emotions

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Okay, so I covered the basics of showing and telling but I felt that emotions deserved a post of their own. And now that I have started writing this, I'm sure I'll make a lot of posts about this particular topic.

Emotions are everywhere and they often run our lives - so why not our characters? They have emotions too! The key is to present them in the right way.

In real life, when a family member or someone close to us has something bad happen to them what do we do? We cry, we panic, we freak out, etc. But how to convey that in a novel is hard to do. Having your character endlessly scream "Oh my God!" doesn't really give the reader much to go on.

If you really think about what happens inside your head when you have a freak out moment (or when your crying, or sulking, or angry, etc) there is so much more than "Oh my God!" Seriously. This is hard to really think about as usually at the time you are too busy freaking out to really pay attention to your thoughts.

But - if you can do it, it really helps to write that scene with a character going through the same thing. So, let's try an exercise.

Think about the last time you had a freak out moment, you were panic-y, not sure what to do. What did you think about - really? I'm sure it was a jumble of thoughts, sentences running over one another - thus the feeling of manic. See? So much more than "Oh my God!"

In a story, of course, you can't just say "Her mind was a whirlwind of thoughts." That's telling, you need to SHOW the whirlwind. I was going to give you two examples of my latest freakout, but then decided I'd save you all the pain of knowing what goes on inside my head. Seriously. I scare myself.

So, here is the first example of telling, with an old scene from one of my novels.

Rosyani silently looked at her sisters with tears in her eyes. She flew to another branch on the other side of Harmona’s trunk.

“What's wrong with you?” Bel asked.

“What is wrong with me? Are you serious?” Rosyani whispered harshly. "Well, go on. You know where I am now so rush home and tell Mother. At least you will leave!” Tears angrily rolled down her cheeks now. She could not help herself. Rosyani just could not believe her own sisters would stoop so low as to follow her just to get her into trouble.

“Rosyani, calm down,” Harmona said.

“Calm down? Calm down? This is…Why can…” Rosyani was so emotional she could not speak. She wanted nothing more than to curl up in a ball and cry. She would not though. She refused to show more weakness to them then she already was.

“Rosyani you're acting like a child,” Bel said. “I don't understand you.”

Rosyani did not say anything. The words would have come out all wrong and she knew it. So she did not even try.

“Rosyani, you need to learn how to talk to faeries. Maybe then you'd have friends,” Soraya said.

Rosyani was beyond angry. She flew away as fast as she could. She did not know where she was headed but had a feeling Harmona guided her. So she just flew to wherever the wind took her. Anyplace would be better than near her sisters.

So let's see where I could have expanded this::

"Tears angrily rolled down her cheeks now" I really need to expand the why here. I only had one explanatory sentence.

"Rosyani was so emotional she could not speak" I had a little bit of explanation there, but not much. I really could have added more to show the reader just how awful her sisters were.

This entire conversation could have really used some more to show why Rosyani is so emotional and so show her emotions better. Her sisters really are awful and I need to show why so that Rosyani's reactions make sense.

So, here is the rewritten version for you to compare.

Rosyani silently looked at her sisters with tears in her eyes. She flew to another branch on the other side of Harmona’s trunk. She hated to be around her sisters, it hurt too much.

“What's wrong with you?” Bel sneered.

“What is wrong with me? Are you serious?” Rosyani whispered harshly. “I was followed by my sisters who enjoy nothing more than tormenting me and you want to know what is wrong with me?! I cannot believe this!" she thought. "Well, go on. You know where I am now so rush home and tell Mother. At least you will leave!” Tears angrily rolled down her cheeks now. She could not help herself. Rosyani just could not believe her own sisters would stoop so low as to follow her just to get her into trouble. She knew that's why they did. It was not from concern for her safety or worry for her - no. They will rush home to tell Mother so she will guarded, not allowed to leave the castle. Was it not enough that they teased her relentlessly? They had to get her into trouble too?

“Rosyani, calm down,” Harmona said.

“Calm down? Calm down? This is…Why can…” Rosyani was so emotional she could not speak. She wanted nothing more than to curl up in a ball and cry. She would not though. She refused to show more weakness to them then she already was. It was only give them more ammunition to use against her later. She could be smiling right now and it would not matter. They would find something to make of her about. Perhaps today it will be her hair style and tomorrow her nose, and the next day it would be her round hips.

“Rosyani you're acting like a child,” Bel said. “I don't understand you.”

Rosyani did not say anything. She could not. The words would have come out all wrong and she knew it. So she did not even try. Why stutter and give them something to laugh about? She tried to pull her emotions back, to reign in the tears and the trembles racking her body. The more she tried, the worse it got. How much longer did she have to deal with them?

“Rosyani, you need to learn how to talk to faeries. Maybe then you'd have friends,” Soraya said.

Rosyani flew away as fast as she could. She did not know where she was headed but had a feeling Harmona guided her. So she just flew to wherever the wind took her. Anyplace would be better than near her sisters.

All right, I'll admit reading it again, it's not totally awesome, but it is a little better I think. At least it hopefully gives you the idea that there is MORE to freaking out and being emotional that just screaming "Oh my God!" and having a "whirlwind of thoughts."

I will expand on this and hopefully talk about each of the emotions in turn. This is just a starter for you to start thinking about. Let me know if there are any specific emotions you want me to talk about!

Show vs Tell: The Right Way

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Yesterday I posted up some examples of telling, the wrong way to show detail and action. Today, I'll be rewriting those blurbs to show showing, the right way.

This post may end up a little long as showing ups the word count considerably. But, in the whole context of a novel or story, that really goes a long way.

As with all things, you must remember balance. Going overboard with showing can drag the story down. Show the important things! If your character is running at full speed, would she/he really notice every single detail? Probably not - so you don't need to talk about every single detail - but it still needs to be shown the correct way.


Rosyani threw herself on the silk covers of her four post bed. She punched the pillow in frustration and stood to pace around the crowded room. Her toe hit the corner of her dowry chest as she tried to round the end of the bed. She held back the curse, kicked the chest, and cursed aloud. The dowry chest was practically empty anyway, so why did she have it sitting there at the foot of her bed? She opened the lid and took out the few things resting in the velvet interior. Full of cheap, childish keepsakes instead of an actual dowry for marriage, her eyes swelled with tears.

Anger took hold and she picked up the large stone and threw it at the mirror on her vanity. The satisfactory shattering of glass fueled her to pick up a thick tattered book and chuck it at the wardrobe. The strong mahogany held and the book fell to pieces on the floor.

I rewrote yesterday's example on the spot because in the rewrite that the novel originally came from, that scene no longer applied. This is a bit rough I'm sure, but it still shows you how showing the room through Rosyani's perception and actions made for a much better read then listing off the specs.


I was not sure at first how to rewrite this part as I feel it is necessary to spread out character detail over the course of the novel or based on what other characters would take notice of. I have one male character that is constantly mesmerized by the heroine's eyes but another male character (from another novel) has a fascination with the girl's markings on her skin. So, I posted two paragraphs here, from two different scenes (with the same characters) so that you can see how it's better to space it out instead of listing all a characters assets in one paragraph.

1. Her hair was a frizzy mess with tendrils falling about her face. The green gown she wore was dirty and wrinkled. She looked more like a commoner as opposed to a princess. Drache felt guiltier than ever. She walked with small steps to avoid tripping over the iron chains that hung around her wrists and ankles. She never once looked up from the floor.

2. Drache watched her talking with her brother. Her green eyes sparkled with blue hues, a unique pattern that hypnotized him if he was not careful. While her muscles were tense at the sounds of her sisters cackling and whining at her back, he could tell she loved her brother very much. Her smile was radiant as they talked and Drache wished he could find a way to make her smile the same way. Her smiles toward him had always been genuine over the past year, but none were to that level of utter happiness.

For those that know the general idea from this novel from reading previous excerpts, you know that the first paragraph was when Drache first met Rosyani and the second one is after they were married and he was meeting her siblings for the first time. So you can see how bringing details as Drache noticed them, instead of listing them off, made for better reading. Even though I didn't talk about her hair in the second paragraph, you could easily picture it shiny and golden.


Yesterday, I said to show the action, instead of tell it but as I fell asleep last night my brain when "What the heck does that mean?" So, I'm going to try and explain it as there is a difference. So I hope I don't completely confuse you with this.

The example yesterday was a good example of repetitive sentence structure. "This, then this, then that." To me that is considered telling the action. To show the action instead, emotions, details, and other things need to come into play. As you will see below, I added more to what Soraya did in reaction to what happened to her instead of just listing the action - OH! There it is, telling is just the action, but showing includes the reaction. Yes. I think that works.

Soraya gave up trying to talk to him and flew into the woods towards the castle. She looked over her shoulder to see if the faery was following her. Turning over her shoulder caused her to veer off her course and she ran into a tree. The knock to her head made it impossible for her to recover her flight. She caught branches on her way down and grasped at anything in order to save herself. The ground came up fast, smacking her with a force that knocked the wind from her lungs. She quickly covered her head with her hands as branches and twigs fell on top of her. Once she was able to breathe, she opened her eyes and saw a pair of sandaled feet.

Okay, there are other things wrong with that paragraph, but you get the idea of what I'm trying to say. Obviously, if she ran into a tree like that and fell, she would have some major reactions (i.e. disorientation, short of breath, etc.). So make sure to show action the right way, by explaining the reactions along side the actions.


This one I don't think needs to be explained really. Dialogue is very useful to move a story along and reveal more information. But it still needs to be done correctly! While the example I made yesterday wasn't necessarily wrong, think of all that was missing from it? Internal thought, action, etc. In real life people talk with their hands, their eyes, their bodies at the same time they speak words. So in writing we need to show that too!

"Damn it all to hell!" she muttered. She stepped from his embrace, already missing the warmth found in his arms.

"What's wrong?"

She could see the pain and confusion swirling in his amber eyes. She hated to hurt him, but she knew it wasn't meant to be.

"I do want you but you know that this can't work," she said.

"Why not?" he asked. "The chemistry is there. We care about each other."

But is that enough? She wanted more. A commitment. That required more than just chemistry and care. What about love, passion, and fire? She felt those things for him with such fierceness it hurt. He obviously did not feel the same. Her heart broke into a million pieces as she took another step away from him.

"It just wouldn't!" she choked, trying to hold back the tears. She ran from the room to make sure he didn't see her cry.

Again, there is a lot still wrong with that scene there, but you can see how adding in her internal thoughts added SO much more to the scene. It really carried stronger emotions and got you to understand her pain. (A little. Like I said, there is still a lot wrong with it, but it is still better than yesterdays - hopefully you see the point still.)

Speaking of stronger emotions, I felt that they deserved a show vs tell post of their own. So come back tomorrow for some great examples of emotions and how to show them rather than just tell them.

Show vs Tell: The Wrong Way

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

All writer's know the saying "Show Don't Tell" but what does that really mean?

This post will talk about Telling - the wrong way and tomorrow I'll show the right way - to Show.

Setting is easy to just tell about it. List off the specs of a room or area. It's rather boring and when reading I often skip these paragraphs.

Here is an example, taken from an old draft of mine.

Her four post bed was large - something Rosyani thought was ridiculous - and took up most of the floor space in the room. Her wardrobe sat along the wall to the left of the bed, while her writing desk was on the opposite wall. Rosyani's dowry chest rested at the foot of the bed, preventing the door from opening all the way.

I'll show this again tomorrow, rewritten in the right way. (Or at least a better way)


The only time I feel it's right to raddle off a list of character specs is if the character doing the observing is a spy or a cop or someone who would literally list specs of another person. Otherwise, I skip over these list of specs as well when reading. You can usually find a list of character specs in one full sentence - at least I do.

Pulling the soft flowing dress over her head, she smiled to herself. The green color accented the green flecks in her normally blue eyes. She continued to smile as she tied a simple silver belt around her waist with her pouch. Rosyani glanced in the mirror as she added her one piece of jewelry - a colorful bracelet her father had given her before he died. The princess pulled her long blond hair into a single braid - her usual style - before looking around her room.

This example here, might not read exactly as a list of specs, but it is rather boring I say. I mention every aspect of her looks in one paragraph. I think the very original version of this paragraph also included her high cheekbones and full, pouty lips but I don't have that version on this computer. But still - it's a dull paragraph.


But Harley, action is supposed to be short commanding sentences. Yes, but it loses the edge when the sentences fall into a pattern of "this, then this, then that". Some may not say this is part of the "show don't tell" but I think so. SHOW the action, don't just TELL it.

Soraya gave up trying to talk to him and flew into the woods towards the castle. She looked over her shoulder to see if the faery was following her. Since she was not looking where she was going she ran into the top of a tree and fell. She landed on the ground with a thud. She opened her eyes to see a pair of sandaled feet.

Seriously, I am very dissapointed at myself with this original draft. It's all telling, no showing.


Once again, I think this fits into "show vs tell" nicely but some may disagree with me. SHOW me how the characters talk, don't just tell me. This is where the adverbs tend to take over thus losing the actual feel of the scene or conversation. (I made this scene up on the spot, so it's probably worse off than normal.)

"Damn it all to hell!" she whispered harshly.


"I do want you but you know that this can't work," she said.

"Why not?" he asked. "The chemistry is there. We care about each other."

"It just wouldn't!" she yelled then stormed out of the room.

Yea, didn't really tell you much about what was going on did it? It was hard for me not to fill in all the holes and such here as the scene played out in my head - but don't worry. You'll get the whole scene tomorrow!

The Art of Reviewing: Part Five: Questions Answered

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Okay, so today, I will be answering some questions that my wonderful followers have asked over the course of this series during the week.

Eric had a lot of questions - which is great! And some awesome questions too. Haley Jo had one as well and Dawn brought up a few good points that I'll address here too. So here we go!

Eric asked : In reviewing, how much lax do you give for style? In other words, I decide in my piece that I want to drop the trailing apostrophe in dialogue, e.g.: "I'm fixin to head to the pasture" rather than "I'm fixin' to head to the pasture." Or I create words that are self-explanatory, but not in MW. Or I violate grammar and structure rules while diving into a deep POV scene. Or I violate POV altogether by head-skipping during a rapid, continuous scene, in order to prevent loss of pace. Just asking how rigid you are with your reviews, and whether you consider the author's ~intent~ with the scene, and how violating the rules might have served a greater, intentional purpose.

Okay, point number one - dropping the apostrophe when it's substituted for the "g". I will point out that the apostrophe is missing every single time or say it's a typo, that you forgot the g. The apostrophe must be there to signal that the 'g' was dropped on purpose and not a typo. If it's not there, I'll assume the writer missed it by mistake, not on purpose and I will point it out.

Creating words that are self-explanatory. Eric was nice enough to provide an example for me so that I knew exactly what he meant. He said "On the making up of words, I sometimes take liberty with my descriptions. For instance, in a recent piece, a boy in the woods heard the squirrels chittering, chattering, chuttering, something along those lines. I once used the word yurk to describe someone vomiting."

Okay, in that context, I don't mind. In fact if I can easily discern the meaning behind the word, I usually don't even take note that 's it NOT a word. However, if the word doesn't make sense or gives me a different idea or image that what was obviously intended, then I point it out.

Now I want to take the time to talk about made up words for made up languages in fantasy and sci-fi novels. Those words, in my opinion, can of course be anything you want to make up. But I do feel they should be in italics to signify that they are made up and to be taken in context of the sentence.

Okay, Eric's next point - breaking grammar rules to get into a deep POV scene. Not okay. I'm sure that Eric disagrees as will a few other people but to me - breaking grammar rules does not HELP the story, it HINDERS it. Period.

Head skipping. I said this earlier, but head skipping is hard to pull off effectively. I can't do it myself but I can read something and tell when it is done right. It's having a smooth transition from head to another that makes the biggest difference. I hate to say it, but I haven't found many writers that can do it well.

Again, I don't think breaking rules serve any higher purpose in writing. While some rules can be bent based on genre or time period or even POV, generally I don't think breaking the rules entirely ever help a novel.

Okay, I hope that answers your questions Eric and I hope that you still feel like you want me to read your work! You also brought up an author that did not put quotations around their dialogue. I would never be able to read that book. I would be confused, the entire time wondering if it was just laziness on the author's part or what - but either way, I just wouldn't be able to pay attention to the plot or the dialogue itself and eventually I'd put it down.

Haley Jo asked if I reviewed differently based on what POV the work was written in. Meaning, do I review something written in 3rd person differently than written in 1st.

No I don't. I review exactly the same way. No matter the POV, the same rules apply. Tense, grammar, detail, speed, etc. All of that still come into play. Third person only differs because that is where changes in character POV can come into play, but even then I use the same techniques. My mind isn't in a different place. The only time I change how I review is the difference between fiction and non-fiction but even then, it's still pretty similar.

Dawn made a comment that made me remember that I forgot to mention about differences in author location. Meaning, I'm an American so I spell it "color" while a British person would spell it "colour". So, how do I review novels like that, that have slang I may not recognize?

I do know a few slang words from other countries as I spend a lot of time in chat online with other writers and I do read quite extensively. Other times I can discern the meaning based on the context of the sentence. When I don't know, I will highlight the word and make a note to the author that says something like "Not sure if is this slang that I as an American don't know. So I pointed it out just in case it wasn't."

If any one else has any questions, please post them below and I'll be glad to answer them for you! I love reviewing and helping other writers, so please let me know if anything this week left you confused or if you have general questions for me!

The Art of Reviewing: Part Four: Common Mistakes

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

I talked a little about this in the overview, but it really deserves its own post. There are many things that writer's do over and over again (myself included) that really need to be fleshed out and worked on.

Typos and Spelling Mistakes

Like I said in the overview, the students at the Academy often input their homework directly into the WDC system. This is often a huge reason for typos, misspellings, and punctuation mistakes. I always type in a word document to check for things like that and then copy and paste. This goes for blogger too!

One of the most valuable tools a writer can have is a dictionary. While Word and Works and all the other word processing programs out there usually catch and sometimes auto-correct mistakes, there can still be mistakes! It is best to do your own research!

This also includes words used incorrectly. I'll admit there were many times that the green squiggly line showed up in a word document and I couldn't figure out why, not matter how I fixed. Then opening up my trusty dictionary, I found that I was using the wrong word entirely!

There are free dictionaries online too, so you don't need to rush out and by one! I have a dictionary on my desk and Merriam-Webster's Dictionary Online, saved to my favorites on my computer.

Passive Verbs and Sentences

I know I have mentioned this a few times over the course of this week, but it really is the most common issue I come across. I struggle with this too - something I have to work very hard to avoid in my own writing.

While I know many writers argue that passive sentences serve a purpose, that's not what I'm saying here. I mean that passive sentences seems to take over an entire manuscript. Action scenes should be devoid of passive sentences entirely as should the beginning. The reader really needs to feel the tension and passive sentences don't give the needed effect.

Remember, what passive verbs are::: is, am, was, were, be, being, been, and verbs that end in -ing. Those are the most well known ones. There are more! Some grammar books classify them as "weak verbs" but the list includes actionless verbs like "have" or vague terms like "exist".

I tend to just write and then during the editing phase, I try to catch and change most if not all of the passive sentences. Microsoft Word as the great "Find and Replace" feature. I use that to highlight ALL the passive verbs in my manuscript. It really makes it easier to spot them and fix them.


I didn't mention this in the overview because there seems to be a bit of controversy about the topic. So where do I stand? Adverbs are good when they are used correctly - and I stress correctly.

An over abundance of adverbs in a manuscript is not good. I use the "Find and Replace" feature here again to find all the -ly words. (I use a different color than for passive verbs to make them stand out.) Seeing the amount of color on the page really helps me to make sure I have a balance of them.

Then of course, there are times where the adverb is used wrong. This happens most often with dialogue tags. I know what the reader is trying to convey, but it comes out wrong on the paper.

While "said softly" isn't necessarily a wrong way to use that, wouldn't "whispered" sound better? Then, "yelled harshly" just seems like a redundant statement to me. Isn't yelling harsh anyway? And then you run across total opposites that really don't match - "yelled softly" "whispered loudly" etc. "Yelled softly" could be turned into "said through clenched teeth" to show the anger or frustration of the character. "Whispered loudly" could be "breathed" to show the airy nature of a whisper or even "gasped" to show panic.

The point is for me, as long as adverbs are used the right way and not taking over the manuscript then they are okay. All is good in moderation!

Detail and Description

I come across this more often than not. It's another thing I struggle with myself. It doesn't plague the manuscript like some of the other issues can, but it's that one scene or two that has too much or not enough description.

Too little detail can cause readers to not get into the story. They can't see themselves there or even see the characters there so why would they read it? Even if one scene has a lack of detail, it can take down the entire story. Readers need and want to feel immersed into a story all the way through, for every second that they are reading. They need to forget they are reading - and too little detail doesn't pull that off.

Too much detail bogs down the story and the reader loses interest. Sure, the reader may be really IN the scene this way, but this causes the reader to lose the plot and the characters. If reading a story, I come across "Why are they there again?" it's a sure sign that there is too much description.

It is important to find the balance when describing the setting and characters. This is hard to do but that is where Beta readers and a critique group can really help! They - your readers - can tell you what scenes are lacking or not.

While all of these mistakes are common, they are easily fixable - often by another pair of eyes. Just remember to proofread your own manuscript and get a few others to read it too.

**Remember! I'll be answering questions tomorrow about how I review and reviewing in general. So don't hesitate to leave a question or two in the comments!**

The Art of Reviewing: Part Three: How to Talk in a Review

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Each writer and story is different, so they require their own unique review. I usually remain professional in a review, try to stay detached, but some times I don't always pull this off. I am easily excitable and it comes through in my review.

However, the main point above all is to BE POLITE AND COURTEOUS! No matter what! Even if you are reading your best friend's work and you can be a little silly with the review, you still need to be polite!

What exactly do I mean? Well obviously, in a review you should never say "This sucks!" That is rude and not encouraging to the writer at all. But if you explain politely what is wrong or why you didn't like it, you'll get a much better reception. "While you had a good plot, I felt that your characters needed to be improved a bit. Here's some suggestions on how to do that."

You get the idea. Do you see how the second sentence is SO much better than the first? Wouldn't you want to read the second as opposed to the first in a review of your own work? I would.

Now that that is out of the way, let's talk about professional vs personal. When grading things in the Academy, I try to remain professional. I don't always pull it off but I do try. I need to maintain that level of professionallism to the students and to the other professors. Even when I get a bit personal in the review, I still make it professional in some way.

What is the difference exactly? Well in a personal review (like if I was just reading something for a friend and they wanted to know what I thought) I'd probably say something like:

"It's awesome! So and So is my favorite character! She's such a badass!"

However, in a professional review, it would sound like this:

"You have a solid plot here! I truly enjoyed reading it. You portrayed the character so and so very clearly and I enjoyed reading about them the most."

See the difference? I said basically the same thing, but with some differences in tone.

I'm sure some of my students are saying "Well no, you'd still mention the character was a badass!" They are probably right. Like I said, I don't always pull off full professionalism in my reviews - but I think that it works for me that way. My students know I care and that I'm passionate about what I do. I hope it makes them see that I am not "better" than they are by any means. I'm a writer, struggling to make it, just as they are.

Find a balance of professional and personal that works for you when reviewing. I tend to mix it up a bit, obviously - but this might not work for everyone.

No matter how you do it, there are a few points to remember::

1. Be polite (No matter what!)
2. Be encouraging. (Encourage them to continue on and keep writing!)
3. Explain what you mean. (Don't just say the characters are flat - say why.)
4. Give suggestions. (Suggestions can help them improve!)
5. Be polite!!!! (I can't stress this part enough!)

***If you have any questions about how I review, please ask them in a comment this week! I'll be posting the answers up on Saturday!***

The Art of Reviewing: Part Two: What I Look For

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Here we go! This is an expanded post about what I look for when I'm reviewing.

Like I said, before, it doesn't matter why I'm reviewing a piece, I always look for the same things. If the writers asked me to look for something specific, then I try to put more focus on that but I still check all the other areas!

Again, I pick on Greg - this was the original way I wrote the guest post and as you can see, it's a good thing I shortened it a bit! But what can I say, I'm long winded!

Title: This part is sometimes hard to determine in the first few chapters. It is very important to have a title that works and fits with the story. I'll pick on Greg for a moment with his novel "Land of the Blind". His title fits perfectly with that story. Titles are to give readers an insight into what the story is about and his is a perfect example of that. What thoughts come to mind when you read the title "Land of the Blind"? While it can conjure many different ideas, as you read the novel it is very clear that the title he chose is the right one. When reviewing, I look for that same perfection. Does the title match the story, the theme? If it doesn't how can it be improved? I always try to give suggestions in a review. To me that is what a review is about - helping another writer improve.

Hook: Many people may think this applies only to the first chapter or prologue. That's not true. Yes, the beginning needs to have a big hook to keep the reader going past page one - but what about the hook you need to get the reader past page twenty, or one hundred? Each chapter needs to have its own hook to keep the reader going! I do not mean that every chapter needs a major plot twist or action scene. However, it still needs to keep the reader feeling "I have to know what happens next!"

Plot: This part is usually the hardest for me to review. It encompasses so much that it can be hard to summarize it into a succinct and clear paragraph or two for the author. I ask myself, is the plot clear and concise? Meaning, did the author present the meat of the story, the story itself in a clear way that readers can understand? Were the sub-plots relevant, how did they impact the main plot? Again, conciseness is very important here. While a plot and a sub plot are great they may not work well together.

Another point I think about is the uniqueness of the plot. According to Christopher Booker, author of "The Seven Basic Plots," there are only seven categories that all plots fit into: 1) Overcoming the Monster, 2) Rags to Riches, 3) The Quest, 4) Voyage and Return, 5) Rebirth, 6) Comedy, and 7) Tragedy. However, each plot still needs to be unique in the sense that the details, the characters, and the 'personal' events in the story are new and fresh. I'll pick on myself this time. In my novel "The Faery's Tale", the plot falls under the "Voyage and Return" category. But what makes mine different than the others in the same area? It is different because the characters react to situations in their own way, each character has their own personality. It's different in the way I present the story, the way my voice sounds. The details, the mystery, the suspense, ALL of it is unique to that story.

Voice: Each author has their own voice. A unique fingerprint in the way they tell a story. Some might be thinking, then how can you review that? While each author has his or her own way of telling a story, there are still certain 'rules' to follow. For example, I will admit that I curse a lot more than I should. But, when I am writing a novel (or an article like this one), it is not a good idea to 'talk' the way I normally speak. This can be applied to all other manners of speech as well, including slang terms and even some simple terms. An example: Which description of a beach at sunset would you rather read?

The way the light hit the water was awesome. The colors in the sky were like a cool painting made by God.


The way the sunlight reflected off the water was breathtaking. The reds and oranges made the sky God's masterpiece.

Do you see how changing just a few words can make a difference in the way the story feels? Yes, if the first part was a characters dialogue - it is perfectly fine. Dialogue has it's own sets of rules to follow!

Style: This part deals with sentence structure mostly. Is it repetitive? When writing it is really easy to fall into the trap of "this, then this, that, then that" patterns of sentences. I do this myself all the time. Changing the format or structure of the sentences can make a huge impact on what it feels like to read. The scene can be a great scene, but if it is written with a boring sentence structure, then it doesn't get the point across to the reader - it doesn't evoke the emotion.

I also watch for passive sentences, especially during action scenes. This is really a hard part to review and it took two extra English classes in college for me to finally understand it fully! However, it is very important. I could easily write an entire article about just this topic! Passive sentences are sentences that are "soft" and "slow". They may show an action, but it is not presented in a way to give that feeling of "This is important!" Here is an example:

"Running across the clearing, Dave pulled his knife from his belt. He raised the knife over his head, screaming a war cry."

See how it sort of dragged and took away from the actual action of the scene? Here is the sentences rewritten in an aggressive or active style:

"Dave sprinted across the clearing. He pulled his knife from his belt and raised it over his head. All the anger and rage rushed out of him in a loud war cry."

Passive verbs are: is, am, was, were, be, being, been and any verb ending in -ing. I usually highlight these using the "find" and "replace" feature in Word - for my own work and work that I am reviewing. It is a great way to really SEE the passive words. No, you do not need to change every single one - but I have found that it is better to have more aggressive verbs than passive. As a note, this rule does not apply to dialogue.

Referencing: This is probably the easiest part to review. Basically I have to make sure that there are no Harley Davidson motorcycles in 15th century England, that a female character set in the early 1900s did not have the same rights and privileges they do today. This area still applies to fantasy and science fiction. Would an alien race talk or have the exact same culture we do on Earth? Fantasy characters would not act or talk the same as humans, having their own culture and traditions.

Scene/Setting: The main thing with this area is the amount of detail and how it was presented. The readers need to feel like they are IN the story, so detail and descriptions are very important. This applies to character appearance, character interaction with objects around them, and the scenery. Yes, this can be over done. In the days of Hawthorne, it was okay for him to take an entire chapter to explain the way a house looked. This is not all right by today's standards. The house still needs to be described, in enough detail to really give the reader a vision. They have to SEE it. This is where the adage 'Show, don't tell' plays a huge part. It is really easy to get stuck in simply telling what something looks like. "The walls were blue, with light blue trim. The wood floors were cold." But showing makes for a much better way to set the scene. "The blue walls reminded him of the sky on a clear day. The oak wood floor was cold under his bare feet." Adding in the character interaction to the descriptions is a great way to set the scene without just listing off the specs.

Characters: Here is another really hard part to look at when reviewing. Individual characters need to have their own voice, their own mannerisms. Even twins often sound or act different from the other in some way. That is merely the beginning. Characters must stay consistent throughout a story. They cannot be nice and charming in chapter one then suddenly turn into a cold hearted witch in the next. I can hear many of you saying 'But what about how they react in different situations?' Yes, it is true that talking with a friend the character would be completely different than talking with an enemy. However, there is a line that should not be crossed. This is shown through internal dialogue, the character's thoughts. In chapter one we could see Suzy has a warm caring individual but then in chapter two what happens if she ran into an ex-boyfriend? Sure, she may not be directly nice to the guy, but inside her head she would be having thoughts of guilt or regret at being that way - that's where the consistency is found.

Characters need to grow in a story. As I review, I have to watch for how fast the grow or change. Is it too fast? Is the change realistic or too dramatic? Is there enough detail to SHOW the changes in the character?

Grammar/Spelling/Punctuation: There are some people that think a review only needs to talk about this area. Yes it is true, you can make an entire review about only these areas. However, as you can see by what I have already said, it is not the ONLY area to talk about.

When the time calls for it, I usually present this area in a line by line edit. Meaning they see their entire chapter, word for word and my notes are interjected right in the middle of every thing - in a different color font. It is literally like having someone read it by hand, correcting anything with a red pen.

I do not have to do it this way all the time. I'll pick on Greg again to say that when grading his novel, I never had to do this. His grammar, spelling, and punctuation was always spot on! I think I've had to point out maybe a grand total of five sentences to him that had mistakes, out of 20+ chapters! Not all writer's can have this spotless sort of record. I surely don't. Spell check, the dictionary, a thesaurus, and even an extra set of eyes are vital (I stress vital) to a writer!

I'm sure some of you are wondering if I ever had a story with 'too many' mistakes. Yes, I have. There was more red than black font in the end. I want to stress that this did not make the writer a stupid person; this did not make the story bad. But - having correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation is very important. I know other people that would not have reviewed that piece because of the amount of grammatical errors. Why did I take the three hours to do it? Because I had someone take the time to help me with my novels and someone will again in the future. And underneath it all, I truly enjoy helping other people. That person went on and actually took extra English Grammar courses and is now a published author!

What is that you say? I'm forgetting about Dialogue? No. You see, I don't give Dialogue it's own section in the review. It falls under a few other sections depending on what part of it I wish to talk about.

Dialogue can fall under "Referencing" if a character is not talking the way they should for the setting. Medieval knights do not talk the same as we do today. Slang and even syntax were entirely different. It also falls under "Characters" as I might notice that a few characters sound too much alike (that the dialogue is not unique). I might repeat any findings in "Referencing" here relating to dialogue, to remind the reader that the character is not talking correctly with the times.

Dialogue could fall under "Style" if it needs a bit of sprucing up. Boring or dialogue that is too slow can make it hard to read or pay attention to. I can't tell you how many novels (published ones even) that I would simply skip over dialogue because it was too boring or cliche to read. I will also make mention of using the word "Said" too many times or perhaps too many adverb tags (like "said softly"). Of course it comes into play agan under the "Grammar" section to make sure that quotations and other punctuation are used the right way.

Again, do I mention all these points in every single review? No. If nothing needs to be fixed, I don't see the point in filling the sections with repeated "You did this great!" sort of lines. But I do look for every point in every novel. I only mention things that need to be fixed.

Of course, I do end each review with what I liked about the novel/chapter and leave with a few words of encouragement. That is very important! Tomorrow I'll talk about How to talk in a review, and how to really be polite and encouraging to your fellow writer.

*Update* If you have any questions about how I review, please post them in a comment during this week. I'll answer your questions in a post on Saturday!

The Art of Reviewing: Part One: Overview

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Okay, I know I said I was going to talk about "Show vs Tell" this week, but I haven't gotten all the details worked out for it, so we are rearranging the schedule a bit. So this week will be about the Art of Reviewing and next week, will be Show vs Tell.

I was sked to guest blog at Wicked Writers about the Art of Reviewing about a month ago. This is a repost of what I wrote for them. For those that don't know, I mention Greg a lot in this. He was a student at The Writer's Academy (recently graduated with honors and Valedictorian by the way). He was also the one to ask me to guest blog, so I pick on him throughout the post. So here it is again, to kick it off. The rest of this week, I'll expand on what I talk about here and go more indepth.

My Background

My real name is Anastasia Pergakis, but many people online know me as Harley D. Palmer. I started writing and storytelling, well as soon as I could write. I didn’t get into novel writing (or reviewing) until I was an adult but it has become an obsession! I am on the computer every day researching writing in some form or another.

What really started me reviewing novels was when I was invited to join a reviewing workshop on WDC. During that time, I realized that novels were not getting reviewed that often, and even if they were, I rarely saw reviews past chapter one. So, I have tried to focus my efforts on just reviewing novels.

Doing all of that research and learning through experience, spurred me to start the Writer's Academy. I started the Academy because I wanted to share my knowledge with other writers. I have been researching all aspects of writing for many, many years. It is a hard and I’ll admit, sometimes a boring process. I hoped that with the Academy, writers could have a place to come to that was fun and informative – with all the information in one place.

I’ve been running the Academy for a little over a year now and I have learned a lot about reviewing from the experience. I was able to apply things that I learned in the workshop and through reviews I had received for my own work.

What I Look for when Reviewing

Regardless of whether I am reviewing for fun, a workshop, or grading assignments in the Academy, I always focus on the same things. I’ll break this down for you to give you an understanding of what I look for when I read a novel.

I read a chapter many times in the process of reviewing it. I try to start a review with my impression or feelings about it after the first read. The first read through should be simple without taking notes of any mistakes or inconsistencies just yet. Yes, some things are glaring but I try to simply enjoy the read, instead of looking to edit or critique.

During the second, third, and even fifteenth read through, I ask myself the following questions.

Title: Does the title of the book fit? Did the chapter title match with the chapter? Why or why not?

Hook: Was the catch or hook at the beginning enough to keep the reader reading? Why or why not? Was I constantly hooked in even in chapter twenty?

Plot: Is the plot clear and concise? Is it unique or has it been done? Do the sub plots help the story or slow it down?

Style & Voice: Is the sentence structure the same throughout the story or does it vary? Does the voice work for the theme or genre of the story? Is the story full of passive verbs instead of aggressive?

Referencing: Are there Harley Davidson motorcycles in 15th century England? Does a female character set in the early 1900s follow the ‘rules’ of that time? Would an alien race talk or have the exact same culture we do on Earth?

Scene/Setting: Can I clearly see the scenery? Can I tell where everything is at any given moment? Do I know where the characters are at all times?

Characters: Are the characters consistent throughout the book? Do they grow and develop in a logical time frame? Do they each have their own voice and mannerisms (Can I tell them apart from each other?) Is there enough detail to give me a mental image of what they look like, act like, talk like?

Grammar/Spelling/Punctuation: Are their any long, run on sentences or sentence fragments? Any spelling mistakes or typos? Are all the punctuation marks used correctly?

I close the review with my personal opinion of the story or chapter. I tell the author what I liked or didn't like. I always give them a few words of encouragement.

Do I look for every single one of these aspects when reviewing? Yes. Do I mention all of these points in the review every single time? No.

How to Talk in a Review

Each writer and story is different, so they require their own unique review. Greg can tell you that his reviews usually consisted of a few sentences as I rarely had comments, suggestions or corrections for him. But other students may have had longer reviews with suggestions and advice.

I look for the same points when reading any novel, but to a friend I might present it in a different way. Reading a friends work, I could get away with saying “This scene is awesome!” but in a professional type of relationship, I would phrase it differently – “This scene was written very well. It was clear and concise. Great job!”

As I am nearing the end of Greg’s book for the Academy, I am getting a little more ‘friendly’ with the reviews. He ended a chapter with a HUGE cliff hanger and I started the review with “How dare you do that to me!” (I was going to have a wait a whole week to read more!) He and I had built up a relationship of sorts for me to get away with saying that – at the beginning, I never would have presented my shock in that manner. I would have said “A shocking ending! I can’t wait to read more!” instead.

With the Academy specifically, I try to relate the review to the lesson. If the lesson was about setting and scenery, then I center the review on that. If I am reviewing for some other reason, it'll depend on what the author is looking for and what I feel are the more important things to mention.

Common Mistakes

There are many common mistakes that I find time and time again when reviewing a novel. They can be frustrating when I review, but then I remember that I make the exact same mistakes all the time too!

>>>Yes, typos are a common occurrence as no one is perfect; however with spell check and other tools, it shouldn’t happen quite as often as it does. Reviewing for the Academy can be especially tough. Many of the students type directly into the site when posting their work. The site does have a spell check tool, but not that many people know how to use it. So there are often a lot of mistakes. I find it best to write in Word first then copy and paste into a site like that. This helps to prevent quite a lot of the spelling and grammar mistakes I find.

>>>Passive verbs show up more often than not. I use a review template and automatically I have a little paragraph that talks about passive vs aggressive verbs. This prevents me from having to type it up every single time. It is much easier to delete the blurb when it is not needed, than to type it up each time that it is. I struggle with this in my own writing and I think that is why I can pick it up easily in other people’s work.

>>>The amount of detail is a huge issue. Again this is something I struggle with myself, so it is easy to find it in other novels. If there is too little detail, then I can’t really get into the story. I can’t see where the characters are or what they are doing. When there is too much, the story drags and I can lose interest as the plot is bogged down with useless information.

Tomorrow I'll expand on "What I look for in a Review".

Bar Scene Blogfest: Royal Fight

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Yay! Yet another blogfest! I just love these things! This one is thanks to Tara, over at Secret Story! Make sure you check out the other entries too!

Okay, to set you up a little bit, many of you remember the beginning part of this in an earlier post I made about listening to your characters and compared two scenes. This is what happens after that! (And since I'm awesome, if you want to read the beginning part of this, you can find it here. It's the second half of the post, in purple font.)


He caught sight of Letarri coming back into the tavern. She looked a little more steady on her feet but not much. She wobbled through the crowd but was stopped by a tall faery. Etharas nudged Cadmus to get his attention. The faery was talking to her and she responded back. Seemed innocent enough, but Etharas kept an eye on them just to be sure. He did not know the type of faeries that came to this tavern.

Letarri leaned against a chair for support. Her eyes were half closed, almost in a seductive way. Etharas’s senses were on full alert. He doubted any other male would see that look for what is was - a first time drinker feeling the effects of three shots of Caderis. They would see her teetering as a sign that she was trying to get closer to them, not keep her balance.

“Think we should go get her?” Cadmus asked.

“No. Not until he tries something. I don’t want to cause a ruckus if there is no reason.”

He probed Letarri’s mind for her thoughts. Even in her brain she sounded slurred and drunk.

Why is he talking to me? I don’t know him. Where is Etharas? What did he just say? Wants me to go upstairs?

Etharas stiffened but stayed in his seat. He saw her mouth from the words “No thank you.” The faery apparently did not want to take no as an answer and continued to push the issue.

Is he stupid? I just said no. I wish I could move. Why aren’t my feet working?”

Etharas decided enough was enough. She was too drunk to control the situation. He slid off the barstool and made his way over to them. He slid his arm around her waist and smiled down at her.

“Hello, love! I have been looking for you everywhere.”

“What?” she mumbled. “Love? Gods his arms are strong.” She leaned into him and his grip on her waist tightened. She giggled seductively into his ear.

“I should get her to bed,” he said to the faery with a laugh. He started to half carry, half drag Letarri away.

The faery tapped him on the shoulder. When Etharas turned back around, his face met with the faery’s fist. He and Letarri fell back into one of the tables.

Etharas stood back up and spit the blood from his mouth. “I don’t want any trouble. Just want to get my lady up to bed.”

His lady? Is he talking about me? Oh if only.” Letarri giggled.

Momentarily caught off guard by Letarri’s thoughts, he took another punch to the face. Cadmus came over and gathered Letarri from the floor where she sat.

Once Letarri was out of the way, Etharas swung back. The faery crashed into the table behind him. The patrons gathered around them, chanting for more blood. Etharas knew that bets were being made about who would win the fight.

The faery stood back up. Blood trickled from a cut on his forehead and he was already showing signs of a black eye. Etharas probed the mind of the faery and easily dodged the next swing.

The fight went on like that for a few moments, the faery swinging and Etharas ducking. Etharas dodged another and when he stood back to his full height, he swung his left fist into the jaw of the faery. Etharas counted on the fact the faery was much drunker than he was.

Etharas was surprised when the faery stood back up though. This time Etharas hit him with a right hook and the faery stayed down.

A second faery stepped forward to defend his friend. Etharas rolled his eyes and groaned. He hated this part of any fight. He stopped paying attention to what punch was thrown and merely concentrated on not getting hit. He spread out his power into the minds of all of the patrons to make sure no one snuck up on him.

Cadmus apparently had gotten into the fight after he made sure Letarri was safely curled up on the stairs.

Etharas was so lost in the sea of punches and kicks that he failed to notice the fire that had started before it was almost too late. As if in slow motion, he watched the fire eat its way across the bar to all the liquor bottles.

“Every one get out of here!” he yelled.


Tada! Etharas is definitely one of my favorite characters. He's just so much fun to write! His telepathy makes for some really fun scenes (especially around Letarri!)

*sigh* I love writing!

Murder Scene Blogfest: Rage Fire

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Okay, here is my murder scene. It's graphic, to the point that it scared me when I first wrote it. I've never written anything this graphic in my life!

This is unedited, straight from my NaNo Novel from 2009. I named it originally "The Lost Wars" but I am thinking of changing the title to "The Kinir Elite" in order to turn it into a series.

So here we go, the opening unedited scene for "The Kinir Elite".


Fire raged inside his soul while the house burned down around him. Derac Vidor struggled to get up the stairs to save the others in the building. He coughed violently and collapsed at the base of the stairs. Derac vagely realized his friend Tyn had thrown him over his shoulder and carried him outside the burning building. Derac landed with a thud in the cold snow, bringing him back to reality. The sight was beautiful, in a dark haunting sort of way. The flames ate the house bit by bit. The smell of burning flesh was thick in the air.

Screams could be heard from inside the building. Derac rushed to run inside but Tyn stopped him before he reached the door.

"You can't save them Derac!"

"Watch me!" Derac punched Tyn in the face. Tyn's head flew back from the force but he recovered quickly, punching Derac in return. Tyn wasted no time as he tackled his friend and held Derac's arms behind his back. Derac struggled but knew if he really fought Tyn's hold, it would break both his arms.

A blood curdling scream peirced the cool night air and a ball of fire exited the door of the house. She was on fire. Derac watched in agony as her flesh turned black and fell off her bones. She collapsed into the snow. The fire that consumed her went out, leaving her burned carcass against the stark whiteness of the snow around her.

Derac screamed in rage. Tyn let go of him and he crawled to her side.

"No! No! Maleena!!" Derac rolled the female elf over. He was horrified when her flesh came off in his hands. He screamed in agony looking at his palms. Every part of Derac's body filled with rage and pain. Tyn came up behind him and placed a hand on his shoulder.

Derac shrugged it off, not wanting any contact with another being. He stared at Maleena's body, praying that she would come back. He waited to wake up from this nightmare, but he never did. He knelt there in the snow, next to his lover's charred body.

"Derac, there was nothing you could do."

"Yes. Yes, there was. I made a mistake Tyn, but I won't make it ever again." Derac stood.

"What is the plan?"

Derac took one last look at the blazing house before turning. His skin was blackened and he still coughed, but his stride was steady and true. Tyn made the sign of Rosis, the Goddess of Death, on his chest before following after his friend.

"We're going hunting."


I hope you enjoyed it! Come back tomorrow for the Bar Scene Blogfest! And don't forget to sign up for my Body Language Blogfest!

First Kiss Blogfest: Visions of a Kiss (or Two)

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Okay, this is technically supposed to be posted tomorrow but it is also the Murder Scene Blogfest so I am putting this one up here today!

Also, according to my schedule, it should have been Fantasy Friday. When have you ever known me to follow a schedule!? Exactly.

Here we go! This scene is the first kiss between Letarri and Etharas, and it's Letarri's first kiss ever too! (Of course, from "The Faery's Tale") Enjoy!

And as a note, a few scenes before this one, all their clothes burned so they had to buy new ones that are a bit - unmodest. Letarri is in something like a genie would wear and Etharas basically is just wearing pants! So...


She did not have time to scream when a strong hand grabbed her arm and pulled her into the alley. She was thrown against the wooden walls of the building. She kept her eyes tightly shut, frozen in fear. She felt the being place its hands on the wall, his arms right next to her head.

"Why are you following me, little faeya?" she heard the harsh whisper.

She peaked through one eye to see Etharas smiling at her. She let out the breath she was holding and sagged against the wall.

"What, uh, what makes you think I was following you?"

"I can read your thoughts," his voice echoed in her head.

Her eyes widened in shock. "All of them?" she whispered. She was more embarassed than shocked. Her own brother was telepathic so hearing his voice in her head did not bother her. It was the fact that she had been thinking of him all day - and he definitely knew it.

"All the time," he whispered back.

Their faces were mere inches apart. She could feel the heat radiating off his body. Him so close made it hard for her to think. The lamp from the street cast a shadow over his face but she could see the devilish gleam in his eyes. She wished she could read his mind, to know what he was going to do next.

"All the time? What am I thinking now?"

"You think I'm dangerous." The look in his eyes almost proved her point. "And you like it."

She giggled nervously. Her vision flashed in her mind of him kissing her, a deep demanding kiss that left her wanting the real thing.

"That's not fair," she breathed. "Filling my head with visions like that. It's not nice."

He smiled but the look of innocence was lost. "I think you thought of that all by yourself, little faeya."

She giggled again and tried to back away, forgetting she was already against the wall. Etharas still had her pinned by his arms on both sides of her head. She could easily duck under his arm and run, but her feet would not cooperate.

"I...I've never kissed any one before," she admitted.

His head jerked back, a shocked expression on his face. Slowly his mischievious smile returned. Before Letarri could blink, he leaned in closer, his lips touching hers in a feather light kiss.

Letarri whimpered, wanting more. He did not hold back as he pressed a demanding kiss to her lips.


He had only meant to tease her a little but when she whimpered, he could not stop himself. He forgot about proper etiquette and merely followed his instincts.

He ran his fingers through her air, enjoying the feel of the silken strands. Her hands timidly moved up his bare chest to his shoulders. Goosebumps raised on his flesh as her arms wrapped around his neck. He forgot where they were, lost in the intoxicating kiss.

Reality came flooding back to him, when someone grabbed his hair and pulled him backwards. He tried to fight back but he was thrown to the ground. Letarri was thrown down next to him and their hands were tied behind their back.

"You are under arrest for prostitution," a male faery said.


Aren't I so mean to my characters? Can't let them have a first kiss in peace! Mwahahah!

Oh! And look at that! It's actually a short entry! Woot!

What's in a Name?

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

**As a side note, I now have 52 followers! Yay! Thank you so much for all your comments and for following. I'm glad to know my insanity has not scared that many people away! I don't have anything to give away to celebrate, but I will definately have something when there are 100!**

Giving your characters the perfect name can be a daunting task. I bought a baby name book with over 100,000 names in it! It is very handy. It comes with the meaning and origin of the name which helps me to select common themes (like all siblings have Greek names perhaps) or certain meanings to fit the character's personality. I highly recommend getting one as the phone book merely has names, not meanings and origins!

How do you decide what to name your characters? A few instances, my characters showed up and told me what their names were, but most of the time I have to figure it out myself.

For the faeries and elves in "The Faery's Tale" I literally put some letters together to create their names. It was pretty interesting to do it that way. I wanted something completely not-human so I made them up myself. It was hard to do and I don't really recommend it unless you have a lot of paitence to try out a ton of different letter combinations til you find the right one.

Mostly, I try to find names that match (or for humor, don't match) the character's personality. For example, I recently named a character "Safiya". It's Arabic and means "pure, serene; best friend" I chose it for the "pure" part. The actual character is far from pure, so it is a bit funny. Especially when I think of it as her parents named her to represent something but she didn't live up to it.

No, I don't always pick names to match personalitites, but it is fun to do sometimes. Other times I go with names I like or when scrolling through the baby name book, one of them pops out at me.

Names that Don't Fit.

I have had this happen once. When I first started writing "The Faery's Tale" the character all had Victorian era names. But it just didn't fit. It took me a long time to fix them to where they are now.

How did I know they didn't fit? Well my characters told me for one and for two, I had a review tell me that they couldn't really see the characters as faeries. The names were too "common" as they said. I had to agree. So I went about the painful process of making them up to truly be original.

If you have a reviewer or critique buddy tell you they think a name doesn't fit, find out why. They may have some insight that you can't see being so close to the character. They might even be able to suggest the perfect replacement.

Cliche Names.

Okay, I hate to say it. But I am tired of demons or evil guys with the name of "Damien" or some variation of it. I'm to the point where I would love to see a demon named "Joe". Seriously. I'm also not a fan of "Christopher" for protector types, or "Chastity" for the pure girl, etc.

But didn't you just say to match personalities to names?

There is a line that I think should not be crossed. This is where research and reading a lot can really help writers. To avoid the cliches one needs to know what they are. Even names need to be unique and not overused.

It is hard to say where the line is with this as there are so many characters out there that need names! It mostly comes down to how the writer feels about it. Obviously, for me, I would never name a demon or a villain Damien. But that doesn't mean it's necessarily bad for other writers to use it. It does fit and readers will immediately pick up on the resonnance of that name.

In the end, no matter what, it really is up to the writer and the character to decide on their name. But there are resources out there for you. Pick up a baby name book and I know there are generators online. Fantasy and Sci-fi names can be odd and literally out of this world and there are even generators to help you make up those odd sounding names.

It just takes a bit of research and a little patience but in the end, it's well worth it to have the perfect name for your character.

Character Details: Show the Little Stuff

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

All this week I've been blogging about getting to really know your characters. During this process, you will surely learn a little about their mannerisms and quirks. But how to convey that in the story?

While reviewing assignments from the novel students in the Writer's Academy, I love it when there is a random twitch, nervous habit, or just tiny movement. It may not have anything to do with the plot perse, but it has everything to do with the character and how they feel at that moment.

People watching is a good way to learn about odd movements and twitches that people do. Girls twirl their hair, chew their nails, fiddle with their wedding rings, etc. Guys rub their beards in thought, clench their fists, pop their knuckles, etc.

Putting in little movements like that really enhance a story and a scene. This goes with the "show don't tell" adage. How would you tell that a person is nervous without saying "She was nervous." Nail biting? Wringing hands? I rub my palms and bite my bottom lip when I'm nervous. A friend of mine flicks his wrist (though it looks like he's adjusting his watch). Another friend switches her weight from one foot to the other.

Then of course there is just showing what your characters look like, but without making a list of their stats. "She tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder." "He ran his fingers through his dark hair." "His green sparkled with mischief." This puts in an action AND a character detail. I have rarely seen a listing of stats done well. I think the only time I really liked it and it made sense was one character, a spy of some sort, was sizing up the girl. So in his mind, he would calculate it by stats. But not all characters are spys or cops, running stats in their head about the people they meet. (Heck not even cops and spys do this all the time anyway.)

Another thing to remember, is to have your characters seperate from each other. Even if two characters have blue eyes are they exactly the same blue? How would you describe them differently so that in the readers mind, you really do have two unique individuals? My husband and I both have brown eyes, but his are dark like chocolate while mine have a tinge of orange to them (arranged in flames around my pupil, pretty awesome looking if I do say so myself...) Both my son and my daughter have blue eyes, but hers are light, and my sons are stormy grey/blue. This goes with all descriptions - hair, height, clothing, skin color, etc. Indentical twins still have that one aspect different from each other.

Again, the key here is not just list the characters stats all at once. Throw it by another character's observing, action, or even emotion. Have an internal monologue where the character is comparing her/himself to another.

Then, once you introduce the fact that your character has long, silky, red curls - throw that in again later on. Remind the reader. Have the character toss her hair over her shoulder or pull it back into a pony tail. What do other people think of her hair? It doesn't need to be the forefront of course (unless your story really is about her hair) but throw it in every once in a while to remind the reader what the character looks like.

What nervous habits or odd quirks do your characters have? Rosyani clenches her fist at her side quite a bit and she also has a habit of hugging herself. Her husband Drache crosses his arms a lot and rubs his forehead. You might think these are signs of stress but in truth, both characters do that for comfort and a feeling of safety. What about your characters? What little action do they do often?