Fantastic Friday Writers - New Year, New Goals

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

It's almost a new year, can you believe it? I feel like 2010 just flew by! I dug around my old blog posts and found a list of my 2010 goals/resolutions. Let's see how much I accomplished shall we?

1. Quit Smoking
--I didn't even attempt this.

2. Gain a substantial income from writing.
--Tried it and failed. The money just wasn't enough to make the research and time worth it.

3. Let my husband live
--Yes, he is still alive.

4. Get my teeth fixed
--Didn't get this one either. But hubby assures me it'll be this year. We'll see.

5. Learn to write legibly with my left hand. (I'm ambidextrous but if writing with my left hand, it looks like a 5 year old)
--I totally forgot this goal was on the list, so I didn't make this one either.

6. Finish my 3 part novel series "The Faery's Tale"
--Well, this morphed into a 4 part novel series and I did get book 1 and half of book 2 done - so to speak.

7. Learn to wake up before my son does. (This means waking up at like 6 or 7 in the morning by the way.)
--HAHAH! You guys didn't really think I could do this one could you? Come on.

8. Start my own business. (Doubt it'll really be this year, but I put it here to make myself get the ball rolling at least.)
--I did get the ball rolling and started a second business too!

9. Find some really cool layouts for this blog!
--I totally got this one!

10. Write an Epic Poem. (For those that don't now, epic poems are ones like Beowulf - a huge epic thing that tells a story. Always wanted to write one of those.)
--Well, I didn't get this one really either - partially, my NaNo poem rocked and did tell a story, but since it was themed after another poem, I don't really count it.

So that leaves what? NOTHING accomplished!? Well, I did let hubby live and I did try to write freelance for money. Just didn't work out on that one. And there are a few that I sort of accomplished if I bend the rules a little.

I still feel like I accomplished a lot this year though! I blogged pretty regularly - at least more than I thought. Started TWO businesses, made some new friends, started school, joined the National Guard (but obviously that didn't pan out...)

So, now on to the real point of this post for Fantastic Friday Writers - our resolutions or goals for 2011. I'm going to make mine more realistic this year for sure! At least, I hope so.

1. Submit "Burden of Prophecy: The Faery's Tale Saga". (More than once!)

2. Get "Cleanse Fire: The Kinir Elite Chronicles" ready for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Deadline: Feb. 6.

3. If "Cleanse Fire" doesn't win the contest, submit it!

4. Finish writing "Tutelage of Mortality: The Faery's Tale Saga".

5. Start writing "Death Air: The Kinir Elite Chronicles".

6. Finish setting up my business - Inwell University Writing Workshop.

7. Join my buddy Shawn in writing a novella anthology. (aka Write, Edit, and Submit my half of the collection - 1 Novella)

8. Learn to write with my left hand. (We'll give this one a go again, because I bet it'll be fun.)

9. Get my teeth fixed. (Hubby assures me this year is the year....)

10. Write an Epic Poem. (Still really want to give this a go!)

So there it is! I'll repost this list this time next year to see how much I accomplished! I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year's Day and I send many blessings your way for 2011.

Make sure you check out the rest of the Fantastic Friday Writers to see what they are doing for 2011.

The Princess Bride ROCKS!

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

A few weeks ago, I followed a link from twitter to the most amazing article EVER! Jael McHenry talks about how The Princess Bride and Publishing match up! You really should read it because this article just continues to prove that The Princess Bride is one of the best movies ever!

You can log-in to the Intrepid Media site to leave a comment on the article or just leave one on here too if you like! (I always like comments anyway!)

"Publishing and The Princess Bride: What Aspiring Authors can Learn from Florin"

Heroine Archetype - The Waif

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

The Waif or Magician is the counter part to the hero archetype, The Charmer.

For a recap, here is what I said before about the Waif.

The Waif/Magician
The damsel in distress. She holds child-like innocense that brings out the protective urges of even the most hardened heros. She does have her own strength though! She won't 'fight back but she'll endure - survive.

And of course, let's dig a little deeper into what makes up the Waif type of heroine.

The Good Side

>Dreams of "happily ever after"
>Waits for the "right man" to come to his senses
>Easily adapts to situation in order to meet her needs
>Kind and gentle
>Damsel in distress

The Bad Side

>Dependent on others (emotionally speaking)
>Falls in love fast
>A day dreamer type

Of course you can have fun mixing these traits up so that the good ones are bad and the bad ones are good. I just merely list them this way as for a general idea.


>Bridget Jones from Bridget Jones Diary (played by Renée Zellweger)
>Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz (played by Judy Garland)
>Gillian from Practical Magic (played by Nicole Kidman)

What other examples of a Waif can you think of? Do you have a damsel in distress type in one of your stories?

Remember that these archetypes are simply the basic materials to help you mold your characters. Many characters fall under more than one archetype. Think about some of the great combinations you can create for your characters as these posts continue.

Coming Next: Heroine Archetype - The Librarian

Guest Author - J.D. Brown

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Today, we have my very dear friend, J.D. Brown as a guest! So happy. I gave her a specific topic for today regarding world building. In her novel, Dark heirloom, she has her vampires living among humans in a "world within a world." So I asked her to talk about how she went about doing that and making it believable.

Thanks for having me, Anastasia.

A classic example of a world within a world is the Harry Potter series. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry exists on modern-day Earth, but is hidden from “muggles” by magic. The professors and students who attend Hogwarts follow a very different set of rules and customs than the rest of the modern world, yet, when the students leave Hogwarts and return to their homes, they are expected to continue following regular human laws – no magic allowed. That is because Hogwarts is a world within a world.

Words within worlds are most commonly used in the different Fantasy genres, especially High Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Urban Fantasy. The fictional words don’t always have to exist on contemporary Earth. They can be on a parallel universe, in a different realm, or in a different point in time. But usually there is some co-existence between two or more worlds in which the character travel to and fro.

In my novel, Dark Heirloom, my vampires live on contemporary Earth, right alongside humans, without them ever knowing. However, my vampires have their own history, their organizations, their own territory boarders, their own laws, their own customs, etc. Yet, they share the planet with humans, making their world very interwoven with ours.

Anastasia asked me how I came up with my fictional vampire world and how I was able to weave it into our own real world. The truth is, it was a long and grueling process. I made matters more difficult for myself as I stubbornly clung to the idea that my vampires would not be undead immortals. My vampires are a living, breathing, species fully capable of being destroyed.
Since I wanted my vampires to be as old as humans, I started building their world around the same time our human world came into light. The year was 6,000 B.C. and the Mediterranean was growing with intelligent human life. Home of the first written language, the first irrigation systems, the first human civilization, made it the perfect starting point for my vampires as well.

I know what you’re thinking and the answer is yes, I really did go back that far. I have a timeline I keep in a black binder on my desk that highlights every major event that ever happened in vampire history, spanning black 3,990 years. Yes, I am insane. No, I didn’t have anything better to do – at the time. How did I come up with enough crap to cover that many years? Easy; I opened up a history book and did my homework. I studied our own timeline of major events until I started to find loopholes. For every loophole I found, I filled with something my vampires did until a very complicated, deeply entwined history grew, one in which vampires were to blame for much of our losses AND successes! This was exactly want I wanted; a history that would fall apart if not for our vampire neighbors.

Laws, territories, secret organizations, customs, etc, all came very easily afterwards since these things are often the result of events that took place in the past. With a solid history, my modern-day vampire world fell perfectly into place. It’s gotten to the point that anyone can ask me a question about my vampires and I’ll have a snap answer ready for them. It’s very cool. Totally makes all the sweat that went into the timeline worth it.


Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

I saw this tweeted and had to check it out! You enter in your blog (or any blog) and the program analyzes the content to see what type of person the author is!

Here is what it said when I put in Labotomy of a Writer

The analysis indicates that the author of is of the type:

ISFP - The Artists

The gentle and compassionate type. They are especially attuned their inner values and what other people need. They are not friends of many words and tend to take the worries of the world on their shoulders. They tend to follow the path of least resistance and have to look out not to be taken advantage of.

They often prefer working quietly, behind the scene as a part of a team. They tend to value their friends and family above what they do for a living.
VERY accurate I say! Head on over to the Typealyzer with your blog and see what it says about you! I'd be curious to see if all us writers get the same answer!!
I hope everyone has a great Christmas weekend and I'll see you again on Monday!

Heroine Archetype - The Nurturer

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

The Nurturer doesn't necessarily mean a mother, so we'll talk about what make up this heroine archetype today. She is the counter part to the Hero Archetype, the Best Friend.

Here is a reminder of what I said in the first post when the ladies stripped.

The Nurturer
Not necessarily "Mom" or "Suzy Homemaker" but she definitely takes care of everyone. She's the best listener and very optimisitic. She works hard to make sure everyone around her is happy.

Now, let's dig a little deeper into this type of character!

The Good Side

>Very optimistic type of person
>A great listener
>Always sees the good in people and situations (the silver lining so to speak)
>Keeps her cool in an emergency

The Bad Side

>Often suffers emotionally for a long time
>Never gives up (ever)
>Has a need to fix everything and everyone
>Too generous (door mat)

Again, some of the good side and bad side can be used the opposite way if done correctly (or incorrectly!) So when creating a character that is a nurturer, see which of all of these traits you can use to create a unique and 3D character.


> Maria in The Sound of Music (played by Julie Andrews)
> Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins (played by Julie Andrews too!)
> Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side (played by Julia Roberts)

What other examples of a Nurturer type can you think of? Do you have any nurturers in your stories? Tell us about her!

Remember that these archetypes are simply the basic materials to help you mold your characters. Many characters fall under more than one archetype. Think about some of the great combinations you can create for your characters as these posts continue.

Coming Next: Heroine Archetype - The Waif

Interview of "Cornerstone Deep" by Charlene A. Wilson

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Today I have the honor of talking with author Charlene A. Wilson again about her debut novel Cornerstone Deep. She sent me a free autographed copy of this book and I read it in one afternoon! It grabbed me right from the first page and I couldn't put it down!

Here is the backcover blurb of the book

They outlive their loves by thousands of years. Reincarnation doesn't exist on this plane. Yet they continue to accept others for whatever time they have together. Save for Cole. His love for his last wife burns in his soul four centuries after her death.

When the service they render to the Lords of Cornerstone Deep brings him face to face with Anna, something unexpected happens. In a realm of silent souls, hers calls to him. He reponds with a kiss; one that joined with the spell of servitutde, binds her soul.

He trieds desperately to undue his wrong, despite the determination of the Lord to keep her.

This book really goes deep into true love - the ultimate love that I can only compare to stories like Romeo and Juliet and even The Princess Bride.

So Charlene, tell us how did the idea for Cornerstone Deep come to you?

As in my youth, I have vivid dreams and have to write about them. The core of Cornerstone Deep was taken directly from one of those dreams. Originally, this book was written as a short story and if you are one of those who followed my portfolio on or heard of it at, you’ll know it as The Transformation of Anna. I received so much feedback on it that I decided to let the Shilo brothers shine and this amazing spectrum of dimensions be known.

What was the inspiration for the characters Cole, Vincent, and James aka the Shilo Brothers? And Anna/Mianna? Did they appear to you in a dream too?

Yes, the three Shilo brothers came from my dream. They were ancient beings and I, or Anna in the story, feared them. As the leader, Cole, came to me, my spirit recognized him. I translated this to being an eternal soul reincarnated. Mianna and Cole were soul mates separated by her death. Though Anna didn’t recognize Cole, her soul did.

Ahh, soul mates. That is such a wonderful thing that few people get to experience. This novel is complex in its world building and character depth you put into it. How long did it take you to write Cornerstone Deep?

The whole process took about nine months before I decided to submit it to a publisher.

Only nine months? Wow. I'm impressed. Did you self-edit this or have any beta readers? How helpful were the comments?

I had some very helpful critique partners. J.D. Brown was one of them :). I found their comments invaluable.

Great critique partners is important and I'm glad you found a few that really helped. J.D. is a great crit partner as she has been very helpful with my works too. Since this is your first novel to be published, what was your experience like with the professional editor after the story was accepted?

Class Act Books has some fantastic editors. Rochelle Weber was mine. I enjoyed her insight, advice and great personality. I found it to be a wonderful experience.

That's great that you learned from the editor and were able to work together. Now, I know that you have plans to add more to this story. Give us a little preview of Echoes, the sequel to Cornerstone Deep.

Cornerstone Deep is filled with hints of what is to come. But in Echoes families are united, albeit dreadful for some, truth from the past threatens the peace Cole has found, and Lord Dressen’s revenge proves to be more dangerous than the Shilo brothers ever expected.

Oh! That sounds like another great read. I can't wait till that is out on the shelves too so I can get a copy! Will you provide an excerpt from Cornerstone Deep to post up?

I’d be happy to.

Thanks so much Charlene for being here today and yesterday! I had a lot of fun interviewing you!

It was a pleasure being here, Ana.

Head over to Class Act Books to pick up your copy of Cornerstone Deep! The excerpt is below and one of my favorite scenes! I love the detail here.

Cornerstone Deep

She stared at the forms as they overtook the narrow alley. A man led center, his companions flanking. Each unified stride caused their capes to furl with controlled motion. Their focus was on her. The bleak lamp lit their approach–a dark trio. Reapers, all of them–black hair, black eyes, black cloaks. Curfew breakers are never seen again. At that moment, she believed. Anna held her breath as if to ward off the imminent danger.

They stopped a few feet from her, and the leader stepped forward.

The other men waited.

Endless time filled her as she gazed at their resolute faces. She swallowed hard to ward off the want of air.

With graceful motion, the leader lifted his hand as if setting a butterfly free. A mist, the brilliance of snow crystalline encircled her and lingered in the air.

Anna struggled to withhold a gasp.

You have to breathe sometime.”

The voice sifted through her mind. Her lungs burned, begged for relief. Fear gripped her as she succumbed to need, and the tiny crystallites flowed past her lips.

The taste of divinity touched her senses, and the promise of bliss sang in her mind. The invitation was overwhelming, irresistible. A wave of serenity coated her emotions.

She met his gaze.

A small smile touched his coal eyes. It penetrated her soul. Opposition dissolved.

He inhaled the sparkling mist and leaned close. Cradling her face in his hands, he touched his lips to hers. They were warm and seductive, unexpectedly tender. The aroma of licorice and cream flowed through her. She accepted his attention, intoxicated by the offering. In a gentle motion, she felt the loving caress of his tongue on hers. Eternity echoed in her heart.

With a breath, the magic spell filled her. Heat steamed her lungs and filtered throughout her body. Every wave carried with it memories; the last words of her father, the aged photo of her mother she clung to as a child.

Subjection engulfed her mind. All wonderment ceased under its capture. Rapture sealed her senses and final will vanished

Interview with Author Charlene A. Wilson

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

I am so happy I get to interview Charlene today! I first met her as "fancie" on, but did not really get to know her until later. We were connected by our common fantasy type novels and now rarely go a day without speaking to each other!

C: Thank you so much for having me here today.

A: So Charlene, let's start off with a little about yourself.

C:Well, I live in a small community in Arkansas with my two beautiful daughters. They’re my biggest fans and untiring giggle partners. I write paranormal romance and dabble in poetry and short stories. I love to watch people and having worked in many different settings—from bookkeeper to detention deputy—I’ve met a myriad of personalities. Some of these come out in the characters of my books.

A: I love watching people too. It really helps get those quirks and twitches into the story just right. What made you decide to become a writer?

C: I started writing in my teens. It wasn’t really a decision. I never had a moment when I thought, “I’m going to be a writer.” I just wrote because I loved it.

A: I love writing too, but I knew at a young age that it was what I was going to do for my 'career'. What inspired you to write?

C: I’d have to say my dreams inspired me to start writing. They were so vivid and the people so memorable that I had to give them life and make the worlds real.

A: I have very vivid dreams too and many of them have spurred stories or scenes. Your debut novel, Cornerstone Deep was released not too long ago. How has your life changed since you've been published?

C: I never realized how much goes into being published. I have a deeper respect for the publishing industry and those who work behind it all. Editors, executive editors, copy editors, printers, cover artists, marketers… The list seems endless. And I’m having to overcome my shyness. Lol. Being recognized by people I don’t know will take some getting used to.

A: I'll bet it will - but it's still pretty cool isn't it? So, about how long does it take you to write a book and what is your schedule like when writing?

C: The time it takes to write a book largely depends on my muse. Cornerstone Deep was written, revised, and edited in about nine months. My other series—four books—was written in about five months but I have yet to revise it all. Book one, Blessed of the Gods, is nearly completed then will undergo edits.

A: Wow. Lots of projects going on. With that in mind, do you character plot a great deal or have a detailed outline before you start writing or do you write on the fly?

C: Characters tend to introduce themselves to me. Lol. As I write their story, their identities show. I add little quirks and actions according to their personalities and they take shape.

A: It's the same with me. My characters show up and tell me their story. Do you have a critique group, and if so, what is your opinion on the help they give?

C: Yes, I had some wonderful help ironing out Cornerstone Deep. Some writers don’t care for critique groups, claiming they take away from their individual writing style. But I find having extra eyes and opinions very valuable.

A: I agree. Those extra eyes make a huge difference. What is the hardest part of writing that you've struggled with?

C: I would have to say keeping myself from intruding the story. I write in third person limited. Which means the story happens from one character’s point of view at a given time. I know what happens in the story and have to keep myself from spilling it out with narrative instead of letting the reader experience it through that character. Sometimes, for me, weaving the information into dialogue and actions is difficult.

A: Yes, I have to catch me from putting myself into the story too much. Some of my characters are 'me' in a sense, but they do have their own unique voice and quirks. Thanks so much Charlene for letting me interview you today!!

You can find Charlene at :

Her Website

Fantastic Friday Writers - Character Bible

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

This week for Fantastic Friday Writers, we are talking about what things we put into our character bibles. Now a character bible is basically everything you write down or collect about your characters.

My character bibles are HUGE. As I said in last weeks post, I start off with a small interview of the character to get the basics. I type this up, print it, and put it in the notebook. (All my novels are in a 3-ring binder (for series) or a noteb0ok (standal ones) with dividers for "Characters", "Setting", "Extra Notes", and "Plot")

Then I fill out the character sketches. This takes some time as I am constantly updating it. I fill it out initially and print it. Then if some new information presents it self, I hand write it onto the page. When the page is finally cluttered with hand written notes, I'll type up a fresh copy and replace the old one. The character sketch contains things like physical description, to twitches and mannerisms, to what their favorite food is. Every detail I would ever need to know about them (and more) goes into this sheet.

Recently, I have begun to create timelines using excel. These are really interesting as they list by date (or even time) important events in my characters life - even things that happened before the novel started. I go all the way back to when they were born! (Which for elves and faeries that live a few thousand years, that's A LONG time.)

I also make timelines of the plot with each major character side by side on the same sheet. This one I actually add to the "Plot" section in my notebook, but it could be in my character bible too.

At some point, I begin creating avatars. None of my characters really like this process much, as it does make them look rather cartoonish, but I still have lots of fun with it. I print out the avatars and make notes about their style of dress in major scenes in the story. For example, I would make a note of every day attire, then notes about what they would wear to the wedding or funeral or whatever event that takes place in the story. If time permits, I might make extra avatars with the different style of clothing, making small notations of where this outfit shows up in the book. Mostly, it's not the characters' looks perse but the clothing style that I use the avatars for.

Like I said in my last post, I'll let my characters have fun outside of my head by chatting with other characters or authors. I don't print these out as they get rather long (and I use up a lot of ink with the avatars anway...) but I do have them in the folder on my computer where the actual MS is kept. (Basically, the folder on my computer is a duplicate of what is in my 3-ring binder.)

What about you? What goes into your character bible? Check out what the rest of the Fantastic Friday Writers put into theirs!

I'm Gonna Do It!

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Yes, as the title says, I'm going to do it. I'm going to jump in feet first and hope for the best! What am I talking about you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is coming up and I plan to enter this year.

Here is what says about the Award:, along with Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace, is pleased to announce the fourth annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the international competition seeking the next popular novel. The competition will once again award two grand prizes: one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.

The Breakthrough Novel Award brings together talented writers, reviewers, and publishing experts to find and develop new voices in fiction. If you're an author with an unpublished or previously self-published novel waiting to be discovered, visit CreateSpace to sign up for regular
contest updates. Open submissions for manuscripts will begin on January 24, 2011 and run through February 6, 2011.

I'm really nervous about this, as will be the first novel contest I've entered. I made this decision actually a few days ago, to enter, but I wasn't sure which novel I would submit. Logic told me to submit Burden of Prophecy from the The Faery's Tale Saga that I've been slaving over this year, but I also have Cleanse Fire from The Kinir Elite Chronicles that is at about the same point in editing as the other.

Finally, it came down to which novel did I think would make it in a contest like this. I read all the rules and visited the CreateSpace site also to learn every detail of this contest. In the end, I decided to submit Cleanse Fire.

Why? Well, BOP doesn't actually end perse. It 'stops' and book 2 picks up to continue the story since the full story spans 4 books. CF, while part of a series too , is it's own novel and could stand alone if it wanted to, seperate from the rest of the series. With that in mind, I thought CF would be the better story to submit. I might be crazy for thinking that, but hey. It enabled me to make a decision at all! LOL

What about you guys out there? Anyone else entering this huge contest? Let me know in the comments and we can cheer each other on. I'll be working my fingers to the bone from now until Jan in order to have Cleanse Fire ready in time, but it'll be worth it!

I will of course keep you all updated on my progress before and during the contest.

If you want to learn more about this, see the official contest rules.

Guest Author - Mia Hayson

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Today, I'm honored to have Mia Hayson visit my blog! She was able to get away from the zombies long enough to write a great post about dialogue for you guys to enjoy! Make sure you pay a visit to her blog at My Literary Jam and Toast. Beware the zombies! Glitter, hot dogs, and Lady Gaga will distract them enough for you to read her posts in peace, so stock up before you visit!

Dialogue Tag Options Other than SAID or ASKED

Hello! I'm Mia and today I'm going to talk to you about dialogue. I'm so very lucky to have the chance to guest post for Anastasia, she's awesomesauce. I'm sure you already knew that though!

Anyhoodles, let's get to the bottom of this, yes? Dialogue tags, hmmm. Mention them at a table full of writers and you're sure to have at least twenty minutes of conversation slammed down. No lie. Tell the writing police about your liberal abuse of some tags and they will shut you down. But why not mix it up a little and keep it interesting? It's totally your writing. Hands on learning is fun. Here are some things you can do to really shake things up and bring that spark back into dialogue tags, in a list form because I love lists!

1. Substitution.

Go with what's appropriate but don't be afraid to substitute words. For example "cried" can go probably anywhere if the moment requires it. When in doubt, just write cried!! That might add an interesting dynamic to the whole exchange. Perhaps don't use it all the time though. And something like "purred" might have to stay in the special locked "we're-not-writing-that-yet" box for a while yet.

2. Action.

Instead of talking shop why not discuss what's going on around the dialogue? She picked up what now? If you have no idea what tag to put, and I'm not condoning this sort of thing all the time, but why not put in a little action instead? It can add a whole new dimension to the writing if funny things are happening as they speak. Or normal things. They work too.

3. Distraction

Shouting "OMG, IS THAT A MONKEY OVER THERE?" usually works for me but what I really mean is more like a character speaks and then the narrator writes "and then I decided to shoot him" kind of thing. For shock value. For funsies. To distract the readers from the speaking and mix it up a bit.

4. Withold-itution

Don't put anything there. This is especially useful in action scenes. It really speeds things up and increases tension.

5. Observation.

I love love LOVE this one because it's something I think we all do when we listen. We're listening but we're also thinking about the person we're talking too. Perhaps one speaker mentally notes that the other's shirt is particularly fine today, maybe they're thinking about how their hair resembles a nest. Go crazy. Have fun

And there you are! Five things you can do to mix it up. Any suggestions? What do you do to make your dialogue sparkle? Whatever you do, be sure to enjoy the ride.

Interview of "Excelsior" by George H. Sirois

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Welcome back George! Today we are talking about his great book, Excelsior. At the end of this post are links on where you can buy this great book for yourself OR you can enter my blogiversary giveaway for a chance to win a copy!

Now to start this off, I'm going to do a mini-review, since I had the honored privelage to read this book as George gifted it to me. (Best holiday present EVER!)

Excelsior tells the story of Matthew Peters, a somewhat lonely teen drudging through high school. He lives in a world he created from vivid dreams about Excelsior and the epic adventures that befall him. At least, he thought he created it. When one of his comic characters shows up, live and in person, Matthew soon realizes that his dreams were really memories - and Excelsior is a real person from Denab IV!

I was immediately drawn into this story from the first line and it kept me hooked until the very end! With action and more action in this story, it's sure to keep you on the edge of your seat, just like it did me. I read it in one shot, fearing that if I put it down, I would miss a vital piece of information! The world of Denab IV that we visit in this story is truly magical. George put exquisite amount of work and detail into describing the new world and the culture of the Denarians and Krunations. I was sucked into the world and instantly felt a connection to the Denarians and their fight for survival.

I was most drawn to Matthew of course, because I could completely relate with him. Becoming lost in a story and almost obsessed with characters the way Matthew does with this comic, reminds me so much of myself in High School it's not even funny! There is one moment where Matthew has his nose a few inches from the page he's working on, not paying attention in class and I instantly remembered practically the same moment as it happened to me!

All parts of this book pulled me in and I became totally immersed into Matthew's adventure! This is one of the best books I've read in many years and I highly recommend it to anyone - not just sci-fi lovers like myself. I think anyone will fall in love with this book because of it's simple yet complex twists that just suck you right in!

Okay, that ended up longer than I thought! Now, I get to ask George a few questions about the book and his experience with self-publishing.

Okay, George, to start this off today, tell us how did the idea for Excelsior come to you?

I originally created Excelsior in 1992, when I wanted to add someone new to my universe of characters. I wanted to bring in someone special, someone with mythic characteristics. After watching the John Boorman film Excalibur, I wanted to use a sword as a starting point and added a superhero element to the new character, combining elements from Jesus Christ, King Arthur and Optimus Prime. I always liked how the word “Excelsior” sounded and I thought that would be the perfect name for this guy. In the next two years, his backstory came into focus when I was encouraged by my English teacher to write more about him.

That's wonderful that you had such a supportive English teacher. It seems that you have multiple elements help you inspire this story. The combination is truly amazing! Especially in your character development and details. What was the inspiration for the character Matthew? And Jason?

Matthew started out as someone I wanted to use to honor the memory of my cousin Matthew Henkel. He passed away five years ago, one week before his 25th birthday, but before he left us, he accomplished more in his life than most people who live to their 70s or 80s. Matt was the ultimate example of someone who looked very ordinary but did extraordinary things.

I didn’t want to take actual moments from his life, so instead I used Matt’s life as subtext to match what Matthew Peters goes through, how he was never looked at as a hero and yet became one of the greatest ever seen. When it came to the backstory of the character, I used elements from my own life such as the mentioning of having an office in his closet and the conversation he has with Mrs. Webb. (That was a true story. My English teacher gave me two points of extra credit because of the journal entries that mentioned Excelsior and the other characters in my universe.)

Jason was a character born from necessity. When I started developing the story with a 17-year-old high school senior in mind for Matthew Peters (he was originally in his 30s and becoming a superstar in the comic book industry before I thought the Young Adult genre made for a better fit) I couldn’t fathom the idea of Klierra telling Matthew’s parents about the hero he is destined to be. Plus, since I wanted to add in the mythic elements from Joseph Campbell’s writing, it worked better for the story if his parents were out of the picture.

But he had to have SOME kind of parental figure, so I brought in an uncle who has a lot of problems of his own while trying to be “cool” to his nephew. I used the name Jason as a tribute to my friend and cover artist Jason Goodman, since it was his web comic that inspired me to have Matthew writing and drawing his own for Excelsior.

At the end of Excelsior, George wrote a beautiful "Afterward" explaining more about his cousin, Matthew Henkel. It made me cry and I fel honored to learn even a little about such a great man. Since I'm sure this story was a bit emotional for you to put together, how long did it take you to write Excelsior?

After writing the first draft in only 30 days, I was under the belief that I just needed to touch up the book a bit and then shop it around. I got shocked back to reality when a good friend and former co-worker JeriAnn Geller got as far as Chapter 1 before she told me, “There’s a lot of work to do.” We spent over two months completely overhauling that chapter, and during that time we decided that she would come aboard as my editor. After that, it took almost two years of re-writes before the book was ready to go.

Good friends like that can really bring you back to reality with crits! It's great that you had someone so honest to help your improve. What made you decide to go the self-publishing route?

I was originally going to seek out a traditional publisher, but I felt way too attached to the character (can you blame me?), and I felt it best to hold onto his rights and still get the book out there into the world.

I'm sure you're not the only one that has felt that way. Since you had to find your own, what was your experience like working with an editor?

Working with JeriAnn was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. She was the ideal editor, meaning that she was incredibly helpful without doing all the work. Right when we started, she was asking me questions about Denab IV, about the Denarians& Krunations, about their lifestyles, all these elements that I never thought of in the eighteen years that I had known Excelsior. By asking me these questions, she forced me to come up with a much more complex mythology than I imagined. It was great.

That is great that she was able to help you breath so much life into the story. It really shows as I was immediately drawn to the culture of the Denarians and Krunations. Now, since you self-published this, did you share Excelsior with a critique group or beta readers before the editor saw it? Or did you self-edit?

The beta readers came into play during the last rounds of editing. My wife was the first one to read the whole thing cover-to-cover, and her suggestions were fantastic – especially for Chapter 1. After she had done her part, our proofreader Susan Yacker came aboard and helped out with some re-wording here and there.

After that, over two days, we read the book out loud and marked up all the necessary changes. JeriAnn and I read through it again to see how the changes worked, and at the beginning of June, we finally agreed that the book was ready to go.

Oh! You're so lucky your wife read your work. I can't get my hubby to read my fantasy stories to save my life. But, it's just not his thing. I did however recommend Excelsior to him, since sci-fi is a love of his. Do you feel the marketing and promotion you have to do is harder than if you had a traditional publisher? Why or why not?

It is harder, since working with a traditional publisher would have allowed me access to local Barnes& Noble and Borders stores and I wouldn’t have to try and sell my book to each of the indie bookstores. But at the same time, I would still be doing the blog tours to promote Excelsior no matter how this was to be published. Even if I didn’t have to do it, I still would since I knew I was going to have a lot of fun with it.

I bet all that work is worth it though in the end. Especially if you write more about Excelsior. Speaking of which, will there be a sequel to this story or a continuation of some sort?

There’s not only a sequel in mind, but a Part 3 to finish what I’m now calling “The Excelsior Journeys.” The end of Part 3 leads into another series of stories, and that one’s going to be really special for me since I get to introduce to the world the very characters that started out as squares and rectangles in 1985.

Oh fabulous! I can't wait to be able to read that too! Is there an excerpt that people can read to give them a taste of this wonderful story?

Absolutely. You can read Chapter 1 of “Excelsior” on my web site, by going here: Excelsior 2010: Chapter One. Afterwards, you can click on the Amazon link at the bottom of the page and purchase the eBook for 99 cents (price change after December 31) or the paperback for $13.95.

Thanks so much George for coming back to answer more questions for us! It has been a joy to have you here on my blog for these two days! I look forward to reading more of Excelsior for sure!

It was a pleasure, Anastasia. Thank you again.

Interview with Author George H. Sirois

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

While on Twitter the other day a friend of mine Eisley Jacobs re-tweeted something about a sci-fi writer asking for blogs to add to this blog tour schedule. I clicked the link and landed at the blog for Excelsior, a novel written by George H. Sirois. I was immediately intrigued by the comments others made about the book but still wasn't sure about joining the tour.

I had never volunteered for such a thing before and didn't know if George would even be willing since he didn't know who I was at all. But, I thought what the heck and left a comment.

And then, the most amazing thing happened! George tweeted me and offered to send me a free copy of Excelsior! He agreed to appear on my blog too! So, I got the book and even had to download an epub reader in order to read it.

And OH MY GOSH! The world weaved by George here is simply amazing!

We'll talk more about Excelsior tomorrow, but today I have the honored privilege of asking George a few questions about himself as an author.

So George, to start this off, tell the blog readers out there a little bit about yourself.

Well, I grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York and moved to Richmond, Virginia in 1988. I’ve been a lover of science-fiction all my life, with a lot of credit going to my dad for introducing me to Star Wars& Star Trek. He made sure I was home for the HBO premiere of Star Wars, he and my mom always provided me with plenty of Star Wars toys every Christmas, and he would make sure to tape specific episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series that aired at midnight on WPIX-11, when I had to be in bed.

At first, I would jot down ideas for different battles I would play out with my Star Wars characters, but as I got older – and was introduced to TransFormers in 1984 – I wanted to create my own world of characters. So in 1985, some friends and I started drawing a group of robotic characters inspired by the movies and shows we loved at the time. There was very little detail to them in both name and design; they were as complex as a square for a head and several rectangles for the body, arms and legs. But at the same time, I had a feeling that, even though the definitive versions of these characters were a long way away, they had potential to reach an audience.

When I went to Marymount Manhattan College from 1994 – 1998, my love of writing really took off. I was there to study Theatre with a concentration in Acting, but I found myself gravitating more toward my writing classes in my junior and senior years. When I took “Intro to Creative Writing” and “Writing for Television,” I brought my old characters from 1985 into my assignments and my classmates and professors really responded to them. So my feeling back then seemed to be justified for the time being, but in the next few years, I worked on other projects instead.

My first book, “From Parts Unknown,” came out in 2002 through iUniverse after it was suggested that I self-publish that story instead of seek a traditional publisher. It wasn’t that the story was lacking, it was just catering to a very niche market. An agent wouldn’t exactly see dollar signs with a sci-fi / action / comic book character take on pro wrestling. That same year, my friend Joe Pospisil and I co-wrote the book to a children’s musical called “Halloween at Belvedere: A Monster Musical Adventure.” That show became a big hit in Central Park when we and our friends performed it on Halloween weekend from 2002 – 2004. We brought it back one more time this past Halloween, which was especially fulfilling since we hadn’t done it for so long.

By the time I started writing this novel, I had been a weekly columnist in the Movies/TV zone for, an independent pop culture web site that had gained a very strong following. I wasn’t writing fiction, but the columns and news reports allowed my writing to improve since I had to constantly write something twice a week, and I realized that I worked very well with deadlines. I retired my columns at 411Mania, but I still write there occasionally with DVD reviews or roundtable discussions.

Wow. You're life sounds so much more interesting than mine! With a life so full of adventure, what made you decide to become a writer?

When I moved to Richmond, I kept working with the characters my friends and I created in grade school, and adding more and more detail to them, changing their backstories and making them cybernetic instead of completely robotic. It got to a point where I couldn’t draw them anymore and do them justice in the form of page-long comic strips, with which I started filling pages in notebooks. So the writing was started purely out of necessity. I wanted to tell the stories that were really gaining momentum in my head, but I didn’t have the artistic talent to tell them in a comic form, so instead of using the same notebooks to make comic strips, I started filling them with short stories with the occasional piece of accompanying artwork.

Necessity is why I write for sure. I have to do it or I'll go insane. I'm inspired by music a lot when I'm writing, that helps to calm the chaos of plots in my head. What inspires you to write?

Two major elements: movies and music. I always considered myself to have a cinematic mind, meaning that I could visualize major moments in my stories as if they were on the big screen. And because of that, I would sift through my film score collection and find the right piece of music to match what I was putting together in my head. If the music worked, then it would enhance the idea and be so strong that it would give me chills. After that came the hard part: getting what was in my head down on my computer screen and making sure the reader could feel the same rush that I did, relying solely on the text without the music or the images to help them.

I think that’s why I always read movie tie-in novelizations when I grew up. I would have seen the movie first, and then read the book to see if what was written could match what I had seen. Novelizations take something cinematic and make it literary, and if I could pull that off with what I write, it would be a success. If I couldn’t, then it would be a failure.

I think you really pulled it off with Excelsior. I can't wait to see that as a movie, as I'm sure it will get there! How has your life changed since you've been published?

Well, since I took the self-publishing route, my life hasn’t changed very much. I still have a day job that I’m very proud of, my wife and I are still doing our best to make ends meet, I’m still correcting people on the pronunciation of my last name and my mother’s still telling me that me being a lawyer isn’t such a bad idea.

But there’s one element that has changed my life for the better since this book came out. I’m hearing from people that I otherwise wouldn’t have known, and they’re telling me how much they enjoyed reading “Excelsior,” and how they want to know what happens next. It makes me feel like a proud parent since this character and I have such a long history together. I’ve often joked to friends that if Excelsior were literally born when I wrote the first story about him, he’d be in college now.

Ya know, I never thought about how my character would age if I thought of them as children that grow up. I'd have teenagers by now with a few of mine, which his rather scary thought! Speaking of time, how long does it take for you to write a book and what is your schedule like when writing?

In the case of “Excelsior,” the first draft was done from June 1 to June 30 of 2008. At the end of 2007, I read Chris Baty’s book, “No Plot? No Problem!,” which introduced me to National Novel Writing Month. I couldn’t write the draft in November, since that not only has my Thanksgiving, but also my wife’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. I couldn’t just say, “I want to write a novel” on top of that, so I decided to go with June instead.

The schedule for writing that first draft was simple: whenever I had time, I would open up the document and get to work. I had three computers on hand for it – the laptop, my desktop and my work computer. When I had free time at the office, I would fire out a couple pages just to keep up with my daily deadlines. I even took the laptop with me when my friends and I went to a horror film convention in late June. The whole month, I maybe fell behind a day or two at the most, but by 11:35 pm on June 30, I wrote “The End” and finished the challenge.

For any other writing, I simply write when I have the time and motivation. I need to set more strict deadlines for myself just so I can get the same kind of production that I had when I wrote the first draft of this novel.

That's great that you could still do the NaNo challenge when you had time. For some reason I just can't do the same challenge in any other month besides November. Luckily, my husband's brithday falls on the 30th, so I don't have to worry about his day ontop of writing too much. Do you character plot a great deal or have a detailed outline before you start writing or do you write on the fly?

I had this particular story sitting in my head for over fifteen years by the time I started the first draft. I really liked the concept of Excelsior being a symbiotic lifeform, an entity to enhance the host and give them the tools necessary to accomplish what needs to be done. I knew the basic storyline, how it would start and how it would end. What I didn’t know was the in-between, so it became a journey of my own to see how I would get the story from Point A to Point B.

It was only during the second week of writing the first draft when I re-introduced Grannik& Radifen and created the characters of Zorribis, Karini& Wilitar, since I was stuck after I finished writing Chapter 4 and needed to do SOMETHING with the story. So I brought the reader back to Denab IV and basically sent in the cavalry. These people not only assisted Klierra with Matthew’s training, but they assisted me with moving the story along. I’m not sure I would have done this if I didn’t write that first draft on the fly.

With the sequel, however, I thought it would be best if I did a full outline.

I did the same with my faery series. I wrote book 1 and part of book 2 on the fly then realized I needed to outline the rest of the series or I was going to lose myself in the details. It's great that you can use both methods to your advantage. Now, when you were 'done' writing your story, did you have a critique group, and if so, what is your opinion on the help they give?

I used to be a part of a large critique group, but there was very little focus on it and even less weekly participants. A couple of us decided it would be best to break away from the group - which quickly scattered anyway - and the two that were left proved to be incredibly enthusiastic about writing. Both of them took on the NaNoWriMo challenge and both successfully completed first drafts of their own novels. Their opinions on my book were also very helpful, specifically for the first few chapters.

It is sad when crit groups fall apart. I had a similar experience. It's great that you found a few people that were dedicated to your work to help you critique. What is the hardest part of writing that you've struggled with?

For me, it was all about patience. There were so many times when I wanted to say, “That’s a wrap” and send the book out for publishing. But JeriAnn wasn’t ready to agree until we had gone through every line in every chapter. We even read the book out loud - me, her and another friend of ours who took on the mantle of proofreader, Susan Yacker - and still found a whole lot to fix. You should have seen the manuscript, just bleeding red ink.

So yes, patience was the key. If I didn’t have it, then the book wouldn’t be anywhere near where it is now.

Patience is important in this industry for sure! Thanks so much George for stopping by on your blog tour! If you want to learn more about George and his great book, Excelsior, stop by his blog.

Thanks so much for allowing me to play in your sandbox.

Of course! It was my pleasure! Tomorrow I ask George more questions about Excelsior specifically, so tune in for a mini-review from me and more questions about the book itself.

Happy Birthday Labotomy of a Writer!

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

That's right ladies and gentlemen! The 11th marks the 1 year anniversary of this blog. Okay, I really started it in like June, but I didn't really begin blogging until Dec 11, 2009. So, that's what I'm going with.

To kick off this great birthday celebration, I have going to give away some totally awesome prizes! Yes indeedy.

But first, let's talk about how to enter!

First thing, you have to comment on this post to get your name into the hat at all. The list below tells you how many times your name is entered into the hat, after you make a comment. (As in, the comment alone doesn't get you an entry into the drawing! It's the "entry fee" if you will.)

1. Followers of this blog before this post get 2 entries.
2. Any new followers get 1 entry.
3. If you tweet about this give away you get 2 entries. You MUST use the hashtag #WriterLabotomy or it won't count! Don't forget to link to this post!
4. Writing a blog post about this give away earns you 3 entries. (Link in comment on this post)
5. Having a note about the give away in the sidebar of your blog earns you 2 entries. (Link in comment on this post)

Sounds easy enough right? Okay, so now we'll talk about the prizes because that's the bestest part after all! (Yes, I just said bestest. It's awesome. Admit it.)

Shiny Prize #1

An e-book copy of Cornerstone Deep by the lovely Charlene A. Wilson!

Shiny Prize #2

An e-book copy of Vampire Vacation by the wonderful C.J. Ellisson!

In fact, I'll be giving away a free e-book copy of this great book every month! So, keep checking here for details each month on how to win this book!

Shiny Prize #3

An e-book copy of Dance on Fire by the great James Garcia Jr.

Shiny Prize #4

A e-book copy of CassaStar by the awesome Alex J. Cavanaugh

Shiny Prize #5 (New Addition!)

An e-book copy of Excelsior by the fabulous George H. Sirois

Shiny Prize #6

A $15 dollar Amazon gift card from yours truly!

I told you the prizes were the bestest! I'll literally throw all your names in the hat and the little man will choose the winner! Enter by Dec 30 at midnight (EST). Little man will draw the winner and I'll post it up on the 31st!

Good luck!

Oh, and I have to say a super special thank you to Charlene A. Wilson, C.J. Ellisson, James Garcia, Jr., George H. Sirois, and Alex J. Cavanaugh for allowing me to give away copies of their awesome books!

Heroine Archetype - The Free Spirit

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Ahh the Free Spirit. The carefree girl that rides on the wind!

Here is a reminder of what I said in the first post when the ladies stripped.

The Free Spirit
This woman dances to the beat of her own drum. She is very playful and fun loving. She stops to smell the flowers whenver she caan and admires the colors of the world. Ruled by pure emotion, she follows her heart rather than her head.

Now, let's really get to know the Free Spirit!

The Good Side

>Full of charm
>Extremely helpful to others
>Full of seemingly endless energy
>She has great instincts, her gut leads her right
>Sees everything and everyone just as they are

The Bad Side

>Very often late for things
>Whimsical, head in the clouds
>Doesn't make good or solid decisions
>Can hurt those that love her as she lives moment to moment without thinking first
>Doesn't conform without a fight (a loud one)

Remember, some of the good traits can be bad ones and vise versa depending on how you want to use them. Take them to extremes and see what happens!


> Cher Horowitz in Clueless (played by Alicia Silverstone)
> Dharma Finkelstein Montgomery in Dharma & Greg (played by Jenna Elfman)
> Lucielle Ball in I Love Lucy

What other examples of a Free Spirit can you think of? Do you have a Free Spirit in one of your stories?

Remember that these archetypes are simply the basic materials to help you mold your characters. Many characters fall under more than one archetype. Think about some of the great combinations you can create for your characters as these posts continue.

Coming Next: Heroine Archetype - The Nurturer

Markings and Tattoos

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Today, we're going to talk about one of my favorite things - tattoos!!

I love tattoos - in fact I have 5 of them with plans for many more! Wanna see? (I love how my skin tone changes in each doesn't do that in real life, I promise.)

(left arm)

(right arm)

(outside right ankle)

(left shoulder blade)

(inside left ankle)

Also, I hate that the images are so fuzzy, as it makes my tatt's look all faded. But they're not! They still look brand new in fact, even though some are going on 6 or 7 years old.

Anyway, I didn't write this post just to show off my lovely tatts (though yes, it was part of it!). When writing, and your character has a tattoo, the same amount of thought must go into the design, location, etc as if you were getting a tattoo yourself.

Think about why your character would get the tattoo. They just like them? Is there a special reason, like to remind them of someone or some event? What does the tattoo mean to the character?
The dragon is the start of a full back piece! The one I have now represents the future (crystal ball). My other shoulder will have a dragon holding a scroll (the past). A third dragon will be in the middle of my back holding an hour glass on its side (the present). The words "The moment is now" written in Germanic Runes will be across my lower back. (Okay, I have to say, that's an awesome tattoo!) So, what symolism does your characters' tattoo have? A hidden meaning maybe or just a momento of a loved one? Perhaps they just like it! (The cross and rose on my arm is an example of two symbols I just like)

And of course, deciding where to put the tattoo is just as important. All of my tattoos are in places where I can cover them up with sleeves or long pants for professional reasons. Granted, now that my work is online, I don't have to worry about it too much anymore.

The culture of your world can affect the tattoo choice as well. Are tattoos only given to those of a certain status? Or perhaps people with tattoos are criminals or stricken with some sort of disease and it is a way to mark them.

I actually get disappointed if I have a character that doesn't have a tattoo! But, not every character will have the personality or the want to get one. So make sure the right type of character has a tattoo. Yes, anyo type of person could have a tattoo, so if your character does have one, make sure it fits them. My Dad also has tattoos but I can promise you, he'd never have a little moon like I do! (Unelss it was holding an AK-47 but that's another story.)
Recap: Think about location, design, meaning and your characters' personality before making a tattoo a 'permanent' thing!

Didn't think tattoos were so complicated did you? Haha!

Heroine Archetype - The Seductress

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

The Seductress is also called the Bad Girl, the counterpart to the Bad Boy (obviously).

Here is a reminder of what I said in the first post when the ladies stripped.

The Seductress
This lady knows what she wants and gets it - her way. She sizes up every person whenever she enters a room. Her charming smile hides her distrust in people. Often mysterious and manipulative. Her survivial means she'll go to any lengths to make sure she comes out on top. Cynicism rules her actions.

Now, let's dig a little deeper!

The Good Side

>Is often cynical
>Has an understanding of her own and other people's motives
>Often uses her sex appeal to get what she wants (but not necessarily sex)
>Easily manipulates any man (especially those in her way)
>Her eye is always on the prize

The Bad Side

>Often comes from a poor family and trying to move up the chain
>Easily holds a grudge - for a long, long time
>Will stab anyone in the back to get her way or reach her goal
>Sort of a loner, doesn't have many friends
>Very possessive of her property (or people)

Now of course some of the good points could be considered bad if taken too far and the bad ones can be considered good if done the right way. It's fun to play with the traits that way, especially when it can create a plot twist or two!


> Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (played by Linda Hamilton)
> Selene in Underworld (played by Kate Beckinsale)
> Eva Perón in Evita (played by Madonna)

What other examples of a Seductress or Bad Girl can you think of? Do you have one of these types of girls in your stories? Tell us about her!

Remember that these archetypes are simply the basic materials to help you mold your characters. Many characters fall under more than one archetype. Think about some of the great combinations you can create for your characters as these posts continue.

Coming Next: Heroine Archetype - The Free Spirit

Office Tour and Character Cafe (Vlog)

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Today, I decided to give you guys a tour of my office. Yes, it's spic and span just for this occasion, but normally, there are papers and candy wrappers scattered all over the place! Enjoy!

Important Links:

People Mentioned in this Post:

Fantastic Friday Writers - Connecting with Your MCs

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

Happy Friday everyone! It is time for another Fantastic Friday Writers post! This one is one of my favorite things to talk about, as many of my older followers would know.

How do I connect with my main characters on a personal level?

Most all of my stories are very character driven. My characters come to me and say "Hey, I have a story I want to tell you." Then I just write it down as they tell me. I do think of plots and play the "What if" game, but usually those ideas continue to sit in the idea notebook. It seems I can't write any story until I have the characters talking to me about it first.

In order to get to know my characters after they initially introduce themselves, I do a short interview to get the basics. You can see an example of one here that I did for a blogfest about a character that showed up unexpectantly in one of my stories.

Then I sit down and write a very detailed character sketch. I did a few posts a while back about the character worsheet I write up and you can find the first one here. The character sketch also includes an avatar that I make for a general visual of what the character looks like. Sometimes I might also search for images for the character - either a protrait or just a symbol that represents them. I cut them out and glue them into the margins of the character sketch sheet.

Recently, I have also done timelines for the characters. The timeline (done with an excel sheet) covers every moment of their life from when they were born. Now, I don't get crazy detailed with this, but it does help to keep track of important things like graduations, weddings, or even a time when they broke their arm. You can read more details of the timeline setup I use here.

After the 'paperwork' is out of the way, I just sit down and talk to my character. I'm usually writing the story at this point. I always learn new things about my characters as time goes along. I take notes of anything new I learn that might be important or if it spurs an idea for a scene. Then I add in the scene or idea as I'm finishing the first draft or I wait until I'm editing.

I think the most fun I have with getting to know my characters is simply talking to them. My best friend Jen and I also have 'character parties' where she brings her characters and I bring mine and we watch the fun unfold as they interact with each other. It's great fun and I've learned a great deal about my characters this way - since it's all on the fly and in a situation that mostly likely won't happen in my actual book. (Esp considering my characters are faeries and her are vampires.)

But it is still information I can use. It helps me really get to the bottom of who and what their motivations are. Jen and I have way too much fun with this actually, and we even created a blog where our characters can let it all out. It originally was called Life and Times of Imaginary People on wordpress. But we have since moved it to blogger and changed the name to "The Character Cafe"

My characters are very real to me and they all have become some of my very best friends. I'm a firm believer that if you don't love your characters, than neither will your readers. And what better way to fall in love with them, then to talk to them and REALLY get to know them?

Now, I do conduct a little bit of research into some of my characters. I do this in order to try and break the "norm". Like my faeries for example don't help things grow or change the seasons and they are nothing like Tinker Bell or the ones in Fern Gully. I did this on purpose.

How do you connect personally with your MCs?

Don't forget to hop over to the rest of the Fantastic Friday Writers!

Twas the Night Before NaNo Poem

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

It's now the day after NaNo and while everyone is recovering, enjoy reading the NaNo Poem I wrote for the occasion.

How did everyone fair for NaNo anyway? I reached my goal and then some with a total of 53,549 words written! *throws confetti* Congrats to everyone to gave it a go this year! You're a winner just for trying!

Twas the Night Before NaNo

Twas the night before NaNo and all through the house,
every creature was stirring, including the mouse.
The pencils were sharpened and pointed with care,
the keyboard prepared for a lot of wear.
The paper was stacked all neat on the desk,
ready for the ultimate writing test.
With my butt in the chair, pencil in hand
Muse and I ready for a long writing stand.
First one page then two, and straigt on to three,
day one was epic, the words flowing free!
Day two arrived with a flourish of ink
I barely had time to breathe or to think.
Third day came and went with more on the page,
the plot unfolding with the actors center stage.
Day four flew in, I had to get crafty.
the light of my muse did dwindle, you see.
And then on day five, I realized too late,
it had been a few days since I last ate!
The sixth day I gathered supplies so sweet!
No longer will I forget to drink or eat.
Now Fruit Snacks! Now Chocolate! Now Candy and Chips!
On Soda! On Coffee! On Napkins for Drips!
Back to the computer, with hands on the keys,
with food and drink near, I can write with ease.
Days seven and eight flew by in a flash.
I prayed my hard drive would not die or crash.
I wrote with a frenzy, ignoring my chores;
I had no time to play or head outdoors.
The days melded together, lost track of time.
My house and child now covered in grime.
The words flowed out with no end in sight
as I wrote the story of characters' plight.
My fingers cramped up but still I wrote.
Continued to pour coffee down my throat.
Ten days to go, day twenty was here
but then my muse no longer appeared!
I panicked and cried. What would I do?
My word count stalled at forty thousand and two.
More caffeine! My mind demanded of me.
Oh Muse return! became my constant plea.
Day twenty-one, I rested my brain
in hopes inspiration returned again.
Day twenty-two, I was back in the game,
but the previous day filled me with shame.
I gave up sleep, I had to write more
and then suddenly it was day twenty-four!
Twenty-five, twenty-six, I fought the good fight,
as I sweated and bled long into the night.
Twenty-seven and eight were gone too fast;
Only two more days left, I thought aghast!
Day twenty-nine, was filled with panic
as my writing went from frenzy to manic.
Day thiry came and all I had to say:
I did it! I made it! I wrote fifty k!
Now that it's done, I yell with all my might,
Happy NaNo to all and to all a goodnight!