T is for Title

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

All right, so today we are going to talk about titles. How do you decide what to title your book or your chapters for that matter?

I love play-on-words and symbolism in my titles. My book Cleanse Fire doesn't have chapter titles, instead it's just the chapter number (Chapter One, Chapter Two, etc). But in my story Burden of Prophecy I do.

For an example on the symbolism and play-on-words thing I like to do, one chapter in Burden of Prophecy is titled "Fire Drinking". In that chapter, Letarri who is a goody two shoes type of girl get's very drunk and then the tavern burns down. So, you can see how a title like "Fire Drinking" fits well there. Another chapter is titled "Red Envy". The symolism here might be easily missed when reading the chapter - at least part of it. Etharas is jealous because Letarri has turned her affections toward Chakor. (Envy) In the chapter, Chakor gives Letarri one of his red velvet pillows to keep as she continues her journey, because she liked them so much. (Red) Plus it's a little play here as usually the phrase is "Green Envy" instead of "Red". Fun huh?

I do the same play on words and/or symbolism for the titles of my books also. Burden of Prophecy isn't really a play on words as the story obviously is about the heavy burden the characters have to carry because of this prophecy that none of them want to be a part of. But book 2 of the series is titled Tutelage of Mortality. The play here is the book focuses on the faeries time with the elves where they learn to fight and weaponry skills. (Tutelage). The main character in this book is Karina, the youngest of the travelers and she is promised to marry the elf Prince, Shezar. Well, needless to say she is almost killed by Shezar's jealous ex toward the end of the book. (Mortality).

I would tell you how I came up with the title for Cleanse Fire, but I think that would give away too much! And since I'm trying to get it published right now, you'll just have to wait to read it to find out!

What about you? How do you come up with your book and chapter titles?

S is for Support (Fantastic Friday Writers)

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: , ,

I have made numerous posts about my crit partners, but today I think I'll talk about my husband.

I'm very lucky to have a man that supports my writing. He gives me plenty of time to write by letting me stay up late (and then sleeping in) while he cares for our son. He'll even take the little man out of the house for a few hours on his days off so I can work in peace.

I know many people whose spouses don't support their writing at all and it makes me realize just how lucky I really am. Sure, my husband does get a little jealous sometimes as I do get caught up in my work and forget to spend time with him. But he never tells me I can't do it or that I need to stop doing it or that I shouldn't do it. He just reminds me (and sometimes begs in his own way) for me to spend some time with him.

It's great to have that kind of support. Sure, he doesn't crit my work or help me with plot issues really, but it's nice to know he supports my dream in his own way. Like I said, he doesn't crit my stories or anything like that, but he does give the time and space to write the stories in the first place.

And after all, isn't that what every writer needs? Time and space to write?

Do you have any support like this from your spouse or friends or family? For those that don't, how do you keep writing and following the journey?

Hop over to the rest of the Fantastic Friday Writers to see what they say about today's topic.

R is for Romance

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Romance. Ya know, when I started writing I told myself I'd never write romance. I love to read it but to me all the books I've read sort of blur together. I don't remember most of them that I have read because they all seem to follow the same pattern and have a similar enough style that I don't remember each individual book. Romance writers out there, please don't take offense to this! It's just me and my head, not your writing skills.

I prefer books that have elements of something else going on in the plot, not just straight romance. I don't know why this helps me remember the book or the plot better. Perhaps because of the extra tension added or element of mystery. Who knows really.

Anyway, even with my promise that I never would write romance, everytime I write a book, a romance blooms along side the plot! It happens beyond my control.

So, how do I keep myself from becoming just another romance novel among the masses? Well, since I love books that are more than straight romance, I write my books the same way. The romance element in my books is a sideplot, not the main plot. It's more of a "on top of everything else, the characters realize they love each other" sort of set up.

So - what are some things I've learned about writing fantasy with a romantic element? Well, for one thing, the romance and the plot have to work together. I hate random scenes of kissing or sex. They must make sense to the characters and to the plot. It bothers me when characters kiss at the wrong place and time. I think the only time I've seen a kiss in the middle of a battle scene that didn't irritate me was in Pirates of the Carribean when William and Elizabeth get married. That's an example of a perfectly timed kiss in a not necessarily good situation. And they waited until the third section of the series to do a scene like this so that might be why I was more forgiving. It was more like "About time!"

In the movie Prince of Persia, Dastan kisses the Princess right after she saves him from an Assanssin. But I thought it was so cliche of him to do so. I mean, he had to go stop his uncle and every second counted and he's going to stop to kiss her? And not just a quick peck or anything -- he laid it on her good. (As a note, I really do LOVE this movie!)

So make sure your kisses (and even the full steamy sex scenes) make sense.

Up the tension! Yes. I've said this before in posts. Sexual tension is important. I'm all for love at first site and things like that, but tension is just awesome when reading a story. So even if they do fall in love at first site, throw in some tension to keep them apart for a little while before their love explodes in some scene of passion.

With writing a genre with a hint of romance, this can be hard to do somethimes. You are upping the tension and conflict of the main plot in the first place! Adding sexual tension here needs careful placement. I do it with looks or heated touches. I have one scene in Cleanse Fire where Kie is injured and Derac and putting a bandage on her. But he's thinking about how soft her skin is under his touch as he does so. So, there is abit of tension, but the main plot is still moving forward as now she's injured and unsure how they can continue fighting.

Another thing I consider is the characters. I've said this before also. The romance has to make sense. If your character isn't the type to just jump into bed with a guy - don't let her do it. If your hero is trying to avoid a relationship of any kind, don't let him jump in too soon. And of course, if you hero is like Derac, then he's more thinking of the taboo of him being with Kie. I mean, he is her superior officer!

The fourth and final tip is to remember to wrap up the romance at the end of the book too. Sure, you can have this be a carry over to the next book in the series. But you need to at least find some closure to their romance to end the book. Don't just leave it hanging open and unfinished. Get them together at the end or if they aren't together, make sure to leave it set up that they might be in book 2. Leave the reader satisfied but make them itch for book 2 as well!

Do your books have a romantic element in them? How do you add sexual tension?

Q is for Query Letters

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

So I'm going to take care of two posts in one today Q for Query Letter and the Query Letter blog fest (which technically was yesterday!) and post up my Query Letter for Cleanse Fire. This is actually a full "cover letter" that one of the publishers I'm submitting to asks for, but it's the best query letter so far I think.

Enjoy! And please tell me what you think. (Unedited first draft)

Dear [Agent]:

Captain Derac Vidor would die for his country but before he can defeat a vengeful wizard, he must first open his heart to a love far deeper than he’s willing to explore.

Derac sacrifices everything for the sake of Kinir’s people. Haunted by those he could save, he throws himself into mission after mission. His world shatters when his own Commander tries to kill him and his team.

On the run, Derac and the team try to discover why their Commander betrayed them. Treason is only the beginning. No place is safe as their footsteps are shadowed by something even more sinister.

A wizard out for revenge, plots to kill them all. But he and Derac have more in
common than they realize. Who better than Derac to convince the wizard revenge
will not bring his wife back or each the pain of her loss? If only Derac can
face his own past in time to save the Kinir Elite.

CLEANSE FIRE: THE KINIR ELITE CHRONICLES, a Fantasy Adventure novel, is complete at approximately 75,000 words. It is the first book of a continuing adventure series. I currently have six more books planned, with plenty of room for more.

I plan to market this book on my own website and all three blogs I write for. I will also
be using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. The Kinir
Elite have their own website, where the characters roam free and write their own
blog. I also have plans for a virtual blog tour, a virtual book signing, and a
live book signings in Columbus, Georgia and surrounding areas.

A new author with a growing fan base, I have many large projects in the works. I am
owner of Inkwell University Writing Workshop, a place for writers to gather and
learn from each other online. I’m an avid member of the online writing
community, writing two blogs to support writers and share my experience in this
industry. I also design websites for authors, to help them set up their online

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Anastasia V. Pergakis

P is for Partners

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

My original plan was to do P is for Plot, but recent events made me decided to talk about critique partners instead.

Let me tell you how awesome my two crit partners are. I sent them my MS on Saturday -- Got one back on Sunday from Charlene A. Wilson and the other on Monday from J.D. Brown! They stayed up late and did none of their own writing to crit my book. And not just my book either! But the synopsis and query letter too!

I couldn't ask for two better friends and partners in this crazy writing industry. While I've never met either of them in person, they are my best friends and I would bend over backwards to help them when they need it.

It is hard to have my friends also be my crit partners. The best part is, since they want me to succeed, they don't sugar coat the crits or blow smoke up my butt. If anything, they are harder on me than other people would be. Seriously! Also, since we talk to each other everyday, I get a chance to ask them about their crit, clarify a few things, AND they are more than happy to listen to my ideas on how to fix a scene or a paragraph.

I recommend to anyone to find at least one crit partner that you can work with. It's a great experience. I have been in crit groups before, and while I think they are great, it's nothing like working with just one or two people on a personal basis. I know their stories and they know mine inside and out. It's great to say a random scene without much detail and they know the one I'm talking about!

So, finding a good crit partner. That's hard to talk about. I found mine by accident really. I met both ladies at a writing site a while ago and we sort of just talked in the chat room there. Now it seems we are inseperable! LOL

First, I say you should have good chemistry with the person outside of writing. I don't mean you need to be best friends with them or anything like that, but ya know, just you get a good vibe or good feelings when around them.

I would recoomend if you are shopping for a crit partner is to find someone that writes, or at least loves, the same genre you do. Even if you have great chemistry with a person, if they happen to not like the genre you write, having them as your crit partner won't work very well in my opinion. My crit partners and I happen to all write fantasy - different types of fantasy, yes, but all fantasy none the less. And we all love fantasy too. So at least find someone who loves the genre you write, even if they happen to write another one.

Another thing is to see if their writing skills are about the same as yours. I know this sounds harsh but think about it. If someone isn't up to where you are in skills with plot, character development, and even grammer, how fair is it to you? Their crit would fall flat pretty much and you'd be no better. Find a person or people that can teach YOU something too! The best crit partners are the ones that help you improve - not just read your work.

Make sure you make time to crit their work too. I know that sounds obvious but I have to say it. So many times do hear about someone critted one persons work and then never heard from them again. If you want to KEEP your crit partners, then you have to "pay them back" for critting your work too. Now, I know some that do an exact tit-for-tat type of trade when it comes to crits. Jen, Charlene, and I are close enough that I will automatically crit their work because I know that when I need a crit later, they'll be there without hesitation. It all depends on what type of relationship you have with the person. Either way, just make sure you return the favor and help them too!

What do you think? What other qualities should a crit partner have? Do you like crit groups or do you prefer just one or two people as partners?

O is for Organization

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

For N, I talked about Notes and how I organized those. So for today's post I'm going to talk about organizing your life -- or in a sense schedules. I'm a firm beliver in schedules even though I can never follow them! LOL

So since I can't follow a schedule even though I try really hard to do so, how do I keep up with everything in my life? (Kid, Hubby, Writing, Two Businesses, School, and MORE!)

I have a HUGE to do list. Seriously, I use the windows in my office as dry erase boards. The to do list takes up four windows.

One of the windows is a regular calender where I keep track of my husbands work schedule, doctors appointments (since we go two to three times a week since the car accident), when my homework for school is due, and when some of my blog posts are due.

Another window is split into two sections, one for each business where I highlight things to be done. This is sort of like a real numbered to do LIST for each business on what I need to accomplish. Some have due dates some are "when I get to it" types of things. Either way, they are on the list so I don't forget.

A third window has a list of workshops I moderate for Savvy Authors. Pretty self explanitory there, just helps me remember when one is coming up. I don't mod as much as I would like to anymore, but I still have a list that spans the entire year.

The fourth window is my "Mommy" to do list. While many of you might think I don't need such a thing, I do. This list helps me remember to do things like the dishes or mop the floors or start the laundry. I will seriously forget it I don't. (Note: I haven't kept up with this list in about a month so...need to do that...yea)

Now, in addition to my awesome window/erase boards, I also have two tack boards hanging up next to my desk. Phone numbers, blog post topics, and website codes on notecards or post its are all scattered up there, but I can find the info when I need it really easily. The other board is used for random notes and ideas I have about my books. It keeps my desk from becoming a pile of notes and scribbles.

Then of course there is the shelf with all my writing books, novel notebooks, and office supplies. And last, my computer itself.

SO - pretty crazy huh?

It might seem a bit overwhelming to someone just looking at it but it's the only way I do anything. I know I miss stuff every once in a while, but it would be SO much worse if I didn't have these things at all.

How do you organize your office/busy life? Do you have a strict schedule or just a "To Do List"?

N is for Notes

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

This post is going to be another short one for you. How do you keep your story notes organized or your reserach notes? I'm a huge fan of folders and binders (with awesome labels!).

My series are kept in a three ring binder. I have dividers labeled "Characters", "Setting", "Language", and "Misc". Then I have a section for each book where I keep copies of the query letter, synopsis, outline, and other plot things I look at often.

The Characters section contains all the character sketches I make. It also has the timelines I make for each character. If I can, I'll include pictures I find that look like the characters or print out the avatars I sometimes create.

The Setting section includes all the setting sketches - for the different countires, notes about the cities, descriptions of the specific buildings the characters might visit. I also include any notes about the history of the country.

The Language section is where I keep any notes and translations for the languages I make up for my characters. (My L post from a few days ago can tell you more about what goes into this section.

The Misc section is where I keep stuff that doesn't go anywhere else. Perhaps a poem, random pictures that make me think of the story, songs that inspire me, etc.

As the series progresses, all of these sections get pretty thick with all the notes and sketches I make. I like keeping all of it in one place lik this, rather than having each book in it's own notebook. (It also prevents me from having multiple copies of things as the same characters and locations sometimes appear throughout the series).

Now, for research notes, those are all in their own notebook. Since most all my stories are set in times similar to the medieval ages, I keep all of that information in one place. Again to keep myself from reprinting the same information over and over again.

The research notebook has the following sections: General, Ranks/Titles, Weapons/Warfare, Slang/Talk, Lifestyles, Sea/Sailing, Clothing, Living/Houses. I will surely add more as time goes along and I write more books, but this works for now. It's jam packed with information and pictures that I use (and reuse) throughout my books. I would die without this notebook!

What about you? How do you keep your story notes and research notes organized? Do you even print them out or keep them just on your computer? (I have the notebooks I described above and also have the same set up in files on my computer).

M is for Maps

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

I hope everyone recovered from my post yesterday! :) Today we are talking about maps. I promise this one is really short today.

When I create any world for my stories, I always draw a map. I have to - otherwise my characters start heading south when they should be going north!

I use a free program called AutoREALM in combination with Paint.Net (which is also free). Here is the most recent version of the world map for The Kinir Elite Chronicles

This one I made it black and white then added the fancy little border there so it can look nice in the front of the books. But AutoREALM allows you to make them in color if you like. The program comes with great little icons and markers so you can make your map as detailed as you want to. I made this one pretty general, leaving out rivers and such as I only have one book done so far. As the series contiues and the characters travel around their world more, the map will no doubt be added to to show the new locations.

Do you make maps for your worlds? I know some people draw them by hand! Crazy. I much prefer using programs with fancy icons and such to help me. Besides, it's much easier to edit on my computer than it is by hand (especially if I decide a city needs to change location).

L is for Language (Making your own!)

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Okay, I know I've posted about this a few times but today I'm going to tell you what I've learned about making up your own brand new language! (This post might be longer than my other A to Z challenge posts, but I still have had to leave out a lot of info. In the future, I'll put together a more details post or series of posts about it.)

Yes! It can be done. The first thing to decide is if you are going to make up a few words to sprinkle through your MS or create an entire, fully functional language. The following steps can help you do both...just repeat them as often as you need to depending on what you choose to do.

First thing, no matter what, that I recommend as a fantasy writer is to have your world built first. I know many other authors who write the language first, but for me it just works easier to have the world (culture, religion, etc) established first. This way I can make the language fit the culture, rather than the culture fit the language. That's me. You can do it however you like of course, but for this post, we're going with the idea that the rest of the world is already there.

Step One: The Alphabet and Sounds

On a sheet of paper, list all the letters of the alphabet. Now, look at it and decide if there are any letters you can take out (or even add). Think about sounds here too. Like how T and H together make it's own unique sound. Or how certain vowels repeat or join to change the way a word it said. (Realistically, this is more like 2 or 3 steps, but for this blog post, I'm putting it all together here). Take out and add what is needed.

Germanic runes (which is actually only a written language) has specific symbols for the "th" "ng" and "ei" sounds but it doesn't have the letters Q or X in the alphabet at all. So, consider what sounds and letters/symbols to add or take out.

Step Two: Making Words

Okay, again, in a real lesson this step would really be about another 3 steps, but I'm trying to keep this brief for the blog post here! I promise to make more detailed posts about this in the coming months.

So, now that you have a working alphabet and a few sounds figured out, it's time to make a couple of words. Keep them all in present tense and singular for now. We'll figure out plural and past tense verbs in the next step.

Begin creating a few words. I usually begin with very common things like hello, yes, no, thank you, please, etc. I can say "yes" in like 8 languages so keep in mind those common words that people just know in any language. Now, depending on what you did with your alphabet and sounds will depend on how you put this together. You can create a brand new word entirely - as in putting random letters together that could make a coherent word...or if you changed your alphabet enough, you can simple rewrite "y-e-s" with your new letters. I prefer the first way as it just makes sense to me to do so.

The hard part (or the fun part depending on how you look at it) for this step is deciding how compact your going to make the language. In English we have a ton of different words to say basically the same thing. Beautiful, pretty, gorgeous, hot, fine, bodacious, etc. When you create your own language you can simply have one word (and only one) to mean all of those things together. This really helps in the long run, as you don't have to create a HUGE vocabulary for your characters to use.

Also keep in mind ideas - like love, honor, etc. Again we have many different words to say the same thing and it is up to you how you want to convey those ideas and emotions in your language.

Step Three: Adding to your Words

Remember I said to keep your new words at present tense (for verbs) and sinuglar (for nouns)? In this step we'll figure out how you get the words to be past or future tense or plural.

In English to make a noun be "more than one" we add an "s" or "es" at the end of the word. (Yes there are twenty exceptions to this rule..but just go with me on this one.) What about in your language? What suffix or word ending will you tack on to the end of the word to mean more than one? OR You can make up a brand new word to add to a sentence that literally means "more than one".

With past tense verbs, we add "ed" to the end. Same thing with your new language - how will you show this? A new suffix like "ed" or a brand new word that in literal translation would mean "in the past"? Future tense verbs, the same thing.

Don't forget those adverbs and adjectives too!

Step Four: Syntax and Sentence Structure

Okay, going to give you a short English lesson here. Syntax in English (or sentence structure) is subject - verb- object. In German (if my memory serves) it goes subject-object-verb. So how does your language work?

For this step, I'll just give an example.

English: I walked to the store.

Made Up Language: E al tora ort-em mea.

Literall Translation: To the store walked I.

So the made up langauge line I made up on the spot, but hey, it still shows you what I'm talking about here.

Step Five: The Script

Now, what fun would it be if you made a language and had no idea what it looked like if your characters happen to write it down?

This is a pretty fun part of the language building process (at least to me). Sit down with a scratch paper and make some lines and curves. See what pops out at you. Also think about how your language sounds. Soft (curvy text) or more harsh (angles and points). Decide how each letter would look when written by them selves. Then decide how it would look in a sentence. Puncuation marks? Spacing? To they write it left to right or right to left? Top to bottom even?

So there it is. A general (very general) post about creating your own languages. I promise to expand and give lots of more detail about this later (remind me if I forget!).

Do you think you could create your own langauge?

K is for Kissing

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Raise your hand if you don't like kissing! (If your hand is up right now you are either a liar or never kissed before.)

Now, since I blog about writing here, let's talk about when your characters kiss and how to write the scene in a good way. First, I'll admit, I don't think I have any real talent with this type of scene - but I do know how it's SUPPOSED to go. LOL

Do you know that part in the movies when the characters look at each other, and the music plays and you think "They're going to kiss."? You just know it! In writing it's pretty much the same. Everything in the scene is set up to give the reader the tingling feeling of "OMG! They're going to kiss!"

First thing to do, before you get to the scene, is build up the tension. Specifically, the sexual tension. Make it so that when the reader gets that tingling feeling, it's exciting! Build up the tension throughout the story up to that point with heated looks, touches, and maybe even those teasing almost kisses. That way, when you get to the scene, the reader (and the characters) breathe a sigh of relief and think "Finally!"

The actual scene can very depending on your characters, the plot, and location. In Cleanse Fire, the first real kiss happens in a brothel!!! (What better place right?! *laugh*) In another book of mine, titled (for now) The Adventures of Ryn and Cyime, the first real kiss happens in the middle of the woods. It all depends on your plot and the characters. Remember to have it make sense though! I hate reading stories where the characters kiss randomly at the wrong time and place (and I don't mean like those quick "I'll see you later" kisses - but the real passionate, steamy kisses). So make sure it's the right time for it to happen.

Erotica writers can have the "kiss" happen earlier if they like as the tension can continue up to the big steamy sex scene. But for writers like me where the romance is sort of the side-side story, the kiss usually happens later in the story. Of course, that's me. You, your plot, and your characters might say oh no, this needs to be earlier. Like I said, make sure it's the right time and place based on the story.

All right, so you have the tension, the right time, the right place - now what? Well, make the characters kiss each other duh! Okay, there is more to it than that. The same kiss can feel totally different depending on whose POV you're in. My male characters usually tend to focus on what her lips feel like, what his and her hands are doing rather than what emotions he's feeling at the time. While my female characters focus more on the effect of the kiss and the emotions she feels while it's going on. So, with that in mind then you can write the scene effectively, depending on whose mind the reader is in for the scene.

I love kissing scenes so much, I decided to share the scene from Cleanse Fire to end this post - okay, no, it's not the brothel scene. Sorry, you'll have to read the book for that one! But I'll share the almost kissing scene with you at least. :)

Derac held his arms out to her and she stepped into his warm embrace. She breathed deep, inhaling the scent of ginger on his body.

“I always feel safe in your arms,” she mumbled into his chest. She snorted. “Gods, that sounded stupid.”

His chuckle vibrated against her cheek. “No, it doesn’t. I like holding you too.”

She titled her head back to gaze up to his face. His emerald pools entranced her and she couldn’t look away. A sliver of moon light shine on his face and made his eyes glow.

His hand rested on her cheek, his thumb tracing small circles. Kie’s lips parted of their own volition. Her breath hitched as he leaned closer. His mouth hovered just above hers.

A small whimper escaped her throat. His lips brushed across hers in a feather light touch. Her chest ached from holding her breath. She pressed against the hard planes of his chest, urging him to keep going.

A twig snapped. Derac’s body stiffened. He gripped her waist and threw her over his head into the tree. She choked down a scream and grabbed the nearest branch. Her leg wrapped around it and she settled on her stomach.
(Yes, I'm well aware that I am evil to my characters.)

J is for Jargon

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Jargon peoples! Yes, the lingo, slang. Jargon. What types of special jargon or lingo do your characters use?

One of the things pounded into our heads as writers is that every character has their own unique voice. Unique voice includes the catch phrases or special words they might say. Jargon can come into play based on where your character grew up, what type of education they have, or what job they work.

The warrior elves in my series the Kinir Elite Chronicles have a very military sounding voice, each unique of course, but in some circumstances, everyone has that clipped, sharp voice of military command. (Or maybe the stealthy silent hand signals!)

YA/MG writers need to pay attention to this also! We all know that teenagers seem to have their own language. But what about teenagers in a fantasy type setting? Or from another planet? The future of our own? How would they sound then? What phrases or words would they use as slang?

Research is very helpful here, especially if your characters are military, doctors, (or some other profession requiring technical and specific phrases and words). Also looking up different cultures can lend a hand when it comes to writing an accurate voice for your characters. Looking up history (not just for historical writers) helps also. My elves and faeries in almst all my books have an air of medieval about them and the way they live. So do research all the time to learn about speech patterns and how people talked back then so my character reflect the same atmosphere.

Interviews help a lot here too! I live in the US but I have plenty of UK friends that are always too glad to help me with British slang should I need it. My Dad is military so I not only grew up with the lingo, but I can always call him up for more specific things when I need it. After you have all the lingo for a job or education level, then it comes time to decide how much of that jargon each character would use. For example, Derac, the captain of the Kinir Elite is pretty much always in Military mode. Even the way he walks/stands suggests this, but that's a different topic for another day!

So, how do you decide how your characters talk? How much research do you do regarding this? Or do you just make it up depending on the story?

I is for Industry

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Welcome back ladies and gents! Continuing on with the A to Z challenge here. Has anyone lost their mind yet? I think I'm getting close. After all, I let the hero of my book Cleanse Fire join the challenge too, so that's DOUBLE work for my tired fingers. But my keyboard is holding up just fine so far!

Today, I'm talking about industry - as in knowing it. Research your market and the current industry trends for your genre is very important.

For example, take me - a high fantasy author. Looking at things on the surface it might seem like I'm wasting my time as Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance seems to be the HUGE hits right now. But, further research has told me that High Fantasy is making a rise in popularity as Urban Fantasy has run it's current course of huge demand.

No, I don't mean UF is fading to oblivion, far from it. But, High Fantasy is tends to stay toward the back of the trends, even when it's at a high point. I had a few agents tell me last year while I was trying to submit my book Burden of Prophecy, that High Fantasy was "coming back" as many editors and agents are looking for something other than vampire and werewolf stories that has been a huge popular topic as of late for obvious reasons.

Now, why would knowing this be important? Well, if you get your book out during a time when your genre is in high demand, the more likely people are to search for your genre (and thus find your book) to read. I also find, based on talking to other authors, that it is harder to get your book accepted if the trend doesn't show a need for your particular genre/story.

So, knowing what the market and industry trends are will greatly help you get your book out there - at the right time when it can reach the most readers. At least that is what my research has shown me.

Do you research your market and industry? I am constantly looking and reading for information about it. It's an ongoing thing. Keep in mind that most of the stuff you find on blogs and websites is about two years old. That is why constant research is important so you can keep up with the changing trends.

H is for Hero (and Heroines)

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Continuing on with the A-Z challenge, Day 8 is H so I'm going to talk about Heros and Heroines.

The key to making a realistic Hero(ine) is to give them flaws. I mean, no one is perfect right? So why would your heros be?

Flaws can come in many forms, and I thought up a few for this post here.

Internal Flaws

  • Mental deficiency (like a learning disability)

  • Emotional problems

  • Social problems I include this on this list since phychologists do have a thing called "Social Anxiety Disorder", (I suffer from this by the way.) that makes it hard for the person with the disorder to talk to others, be in a crowd, or other social types of activities without having an anxiety - or in my case a panic attack.

External Flaws

  • Physical disabilities like a missing limb or other types of permanent injuries from a long ago accident can prevent the hero from always being able to do what they need to.

  • Baggage - and I don't meant the emotional kind here. I mean heros or heroines that say, are married to a total evil person intent on bringing them down, something tangible and physical that haunts them now, not just emotional baggage inside their head/heart sort of thing. This can also include single parents, as children can often prevent or delay the "quest" of the hero/ine because they must be cared for first. So, this aspect isn't always negative, perse.


I put magic in it's own sort of category here, because depending on your world and how you write, magic can be internal or external for the hero. Sure, magic can help your hero but it can also be a huge burden for them, if you happen to give them a power they can't control (yet or ever), a power that doesn't seem to help them on their journey, or a power that conflicts with say the power of their companions.

These are just generalization of course. I hope to put together a more detailed explanation of these things in the future.

What sort of flaws do you put into your hero/ine to make them more realistic? Do you decide this based on the plot - or on the character themselves?

G is for Genre (Fantastic Friday Writers)

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

So, this post is super late, but it's still technically Friday, so it's counts!

Today's topic is Genre - more specifically, the High Fantasy genre. I did a post a while back defining different types of fantasy works, that you can read here. This post will focus on what I write, high fantasy.

Fantasy is a huge genre, split up into many subgenres. Fantasy fiction uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as the primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Most (not all) of fantasy fiction takes place in another world besides our own where magic is common.

As a fantasy writer, I have to say that fantasy is different from sci-fi and horror (even though they are often put together for groups, magizines, etc). This is because fantasy doesn't use the scientific and macabre themes that sci-fi and horror do. There is some overlap between all three of these genres of course, but they are different in many ways.

High Fantasy spefically, is fiction set in an alternative, fictional world ("secondary world") rather than the real world as we know it (the "primary world".

Nickki Gamble, co-author of Exploring Children's Literature says there are three subtypes of High Fantasy.

  1. A setting in which the primary world does not exist. (ex. The Wheel of Time)

  2. The secondary world is entered through a portal from the primary world. (ex. Alice in Wonderland)

  3. A distinct world-within-a-world as part of the primary world. (ex. Harry Potter)

Purists, if you want to call them that, say that high fantasy is only #1 on Nikki's list there, the others falling into some other sub genre of fantasy. I tend to agree with this, but I have found through research that many of the stories dealing with #2 and #3 are classified as High Fantasy also, only because they really don't have anywhere else to go. Perhaps one day, they'll have their own subgenre to themselves, but for now, it's all High Fantasy as far as the publishing world is concerned.

Wikipedia says that High Fantasy is one of the most popular subgenres of fantasty fiction. However, Urban Fantasy is probably the #1 at the moment. High Fantasy has always been around in the background sort of thing, always with devoted fans, readers, and writers. Is it really one of the most popular? Well, with games like D&D, video games, and Magic the Gathering - those areas, sure. I definitely agree. But in actual novel writing, I'm not really sure on that one. I have to do more research!

High Fantasy is usually epic in nature, the theme often being a good vs evil battle to the death or destruction of all. Some stories can have coming-of-age themes also, but as a reader, I only see htis in YA fantasy, rather than adult. But one could use the theme in an adult story, if written correctly! The mark usually of high fantasy stories come with certain types of characters and elements like elves, faeries, dwarves, dragons, demons, magic or sorcery, wizards or magicians, invented languages, quests, and multi-volume narratives or series.

My favorite thing about writing High Fantasy, since I'm a "purist" I guess and think that High Fantasy has nothing to do with the "real" world at all - is that I get to make up everything! I basically get to play God (without reprocussions!) and built a brand new world the way I want to. Rules, governments, religions, people, land, everything! But, I'm sure my readers already knew that I devote many of my blog posts there talking about world building and characters.

What about you guys? Do you read a lot of fantasy? What do you like about it - or don't like about it? Are you a "purist" like me and say that High Fantasy only deals with fictional worlds with no relation to our own?

And since it's a Fantastic Friday Writers day, please check out the other members of the group to see what they say about Genre.

F is for Fin

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: , ,

Endings! Yes, those awfully awesome cliffhangers or happily ever afters (or even a happily for now).

The final scene is important and should wrap up all the plot threads you have going. Even in a series, each book should have some type of ending to it that leaves the reader satisfied. Of course a series can have a few side plots still open to leap into the next book, but I stress that each book should have it's own beginning, middle, and END to it. (I learned this the hard way people! Don't make the same mistake I did!)

And endings is more than the final scene of your book. I mean chapter endings too. Each chapter should end with an air of mystery, impending doom, or some other unsavory thing. (Am I the only one that hears Da da DUNNNN!!! in my head everytime I think "Impending Doom"?....) Ending a chapter on a happy note isn't necessarily a bad thing, but a "cliffhanger" ending forces the reader to keep reading, to discover how the character can possibly get out of their current predicament.

I often worrya bout endings later during the revision process. While writing the first draft, I just make chapter breaks about every 2,000 words or so, just to help keep my sanity when revising later. Having the novel broken up into 2K chunks, is much easier to deal with. During the revision stage is when I really look at what place would be good to end the chapter. I often move a paragraph or two from the end of one to the beginning of another to make it end on a note of suspense or tension.

Here is an example, again from my story Cleanse Fire. This is the end of chapter four. Derac and Kie are in the dwarf mines, trying to escape.

His quick reflexes didn't help when the wall next to them exploded. They both sprawled over the edge and slammed into the stairs below. He covered her body with his own until the rocks and debris stopped raining down on them. Derac glanced up and saw a group of dwarves rushing towards them. He craned his neck further to see the level above.

"Get them out of here, Tyn!" he yelled.

The dwarves swarmed them and dragged them further down into the cavern. They were thrown into a small cell; the solid iron door slammed shut behind them.

That is how I have the ending after revisions. In the first draft, the scene continued for a few paragraphs and had Derac wondering how they were going to get out. I moved it to start off chapter 6 instead, having this one end with the slamming door.

So how do you plan your chapter endings or the final scene? Do you make the reader hear da da DUNNNN at the end of your chapters?

E is for Editng

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

I took an editing workshop at the beginning of this year that tought me a few things about editing. It made it much eaier for me to edit as I actually had an organized plan of attack. No, editing is always hard but with an organized approach it can be less stressful, I promise!

Here is what I learned in the workshop.

Step 1: Print a copy of your MS in some other font than you normally type with. If you type double spaced, make it single spaced before your print. (or vise versa). I usually print it out as a booklet format, as it feels almost like a real paperback. Make sure you have a pen and note paper handy too.

Step 2: Read through your MS and take small notes! Don't make any major changes! Simpley make notes for each scene or chapter as you need to.

Step 3: Now, not everyone can do this step, but I found it extremely helpful. This is also good for those that don't outline before hand, it's sort of like a post outline to help you keep on track as you edit. Go through each scene and figure out the Goal, Motivation, and Conflict of your character. Write down a one liner about each scene -- EACH scene that means all of them! When you're done you'll have a nice little outline to work with! (And guess what, you can use this later to help you write a synopsis too!)

Step 4: Now is the time to begin making changes. Look over your notes and add or take out as needed.

Step 5: Check the beginnings and endings of your scenes and chapters and make sure everything ends in a suspenseful way or begins with some sort of action. The outline will help you with the beginnings and endings to determine the best place to end or begin a chapter.

Step 6: Look at your characters - dialogue, development, etc. Make sure they aren't flat. Add or take out as needed to really make your characters come to life.

Step 7: Okay, now that you feel you have a solid plot, character development is good, and you have great beginnings and endings, go through your MS one last time to get those pesky spelling errors and grammar.

Step 8: Get someone to crit it for you. I have a few crit partners that I absolutely love and I recommend this to anyone. I know crit groups aren't for everyone, but having a specific partner or two is fabulous!

Step 9: Make any changes you need to based on the crits you get.

Step 10: Write that query and synopsis and SUBMIT SUBMIT SUBMIT!!!

So, how about you? How do you edit your work? Do you have a set out plan or do you just go at it?

D is for Dialogue

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Specially, dialogue tags!

Many writers out there firmly believe that one should never use anythign other than "said" or some type of action as dialogue tags. I am not one of those writers. I think it's perfectly okay to use the occasional "murmured", "mumbled", etc. However, it is important to use them wisely!

Take this section of dialogue from my story, Cleanse Fire. In this scene, Derac is talking to Lynusion a faery about the group of faeries they just rescued from the dwarves.

"Thank you, Captain Vidor for rescuing our fellows." Lynusion, Captain of the Tinally Elite said.

"It is our pleasure. They have been fed and given water. A few needed basic healing treatment but will need more care to fully heal. Sadly, many of their feather have been plucked. Do they grow back? Will they be able to fly again?"

"Plucked out?"

"Yes. I assume the dwarves did it as a form of punishment. Maybe even a souvenir."

"They do grow back, but it takes years."

"But they will be able to fly again?"


Here is the scene again with some action and more than just "said" dialogue tags. See how the scene is much more powerful this way.

"Thank you, Captain Vidor for rescuing our fellows," Lynusion, Captain of the Tinally Elite said.

Derac smirked at his friend. The faery’s jet black hair shined in the sunlight – as always. Derac ran his hand through his own hair and cringed at the dirt he felt in the black strands.

"It is our pleasure. They have been fed and given water. A few needed basic healing treatment but will need more care in order to fully heal." Derac paused and lowered his voice. "Sadly, many of their feathers have been plucked. Do they grow back? Will they be able to fly again?”

Lynusion’s eyes watered and he swallowed hard. “Plucked out?”

“Yes. I assume the dwarves used it as a form of punishment. Maybe even a souvenir.”

“They do grow back but it takes years," Lynusion whispered.

Derac hung his head. “But they will be able to fly again?”

“Eventually,” Lynusion murmured.

See the difference? Using dialogue tags other than said is okay in my book, just don't do it too much! If you have one character "whisper" don't make anther one "whisper back." Also keep in mind to make sure it matches with the scene and the character. If the scene requires them yelling, no one should be whispering or murmuring. Also, if you character is one to never talk in a soft voice, don't have them mutter or murmur either.

What do you think? Only "said" or is it okay ot use other tags when writing dialogue?

C is for Conflict

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

The conflict is also known as the antagonist. Since I talked about the villian during A for Antagonist, I'll cover the other types of antagonists or conflicts you can have in your story today.

Here are a few different types of conflict you can have in your stories:

  • Hero vs Nature

  • Hero vs Technology

  • Hero vs Himself

  • Hero vs Someone Else (aka the Villian)

  • Hero vs God

  • Hero vs Society

  • Hero vs Ideas

The important thing with conflict, no matter which one you use, is to gradually increase the tension of your conflict until it basically explodes into the final climax of the story. Keep your readers turning the pages by throwing block after block into the hero's way.

Conflict makes tension, by opposition between the hero and the antagonist/conflict. Balancing the opposing forces will keep your readers glued to the pages wondering how the story will end!

In my series, "The Faery's Tale" the actual villian doesn't show up until Book 4. In th first three books, the antagonist of the story falls within Hero vs Society, Hero vs Himself, and Hero vs Ideas as the character struggle with their own inner demons and each other. I think this adds tot he tension as the series goes along, as each book becomes more tense and has more conflict as things just get piled up ontop of each other until the huge final showdown with the villian and everything else!

What about your stories? What type sof conflict do you use? Which ones are your favorite? Do you use a combination of them for increased tension?

Don't forget to head over to Derac's blog, the hero of my book Cleanse Fire for his C post today, about Combat Techniques!

B is for Beginning

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

It is said that readers lose or keep interest in a story depending on the first lines, paragraphs, or chapters of your book. So how do you keep their interest? Make your beginning fabulous!

Start your story with a bang! I don't mean it has to literally begin with an explosion or a fight scene or something like that. Your first line should usually hold a punch of some type though, whether it is a line of dialogue, a character doing or feeling something, make it reach out and grab the reader.

"Act first, explain later." Often times, and I see this more often in fantasy really, writers begin chapters with a description of the setting in some flowery words in order to put the reader in the story. However, think of how much stronger a beginning if you start with that snarky line of dialouge or burst of action? Then sprinkle the setting details through the rest o fth escene. The reader still gets plopped into the new world, but hey also have the sense of excitement or impending doom!

"Act first, explain later." I can't say this enough. It's true. This also applies to all beginnings, not just the very beginning of your book but chapters too. Keep the reader begging for more! Don't le tme get bored at any time and they'll read you're story till the end! Here is an example, a beginning paragraph from on my novel Cleanse Fire. This is the beginning of chapter 23.

"I ask you again, why did you sell secrets about the Kinir Elite to Wizard Ackda?"

Rahder still said nothing. In a flash of movement, Derac leaned back on the table, planted his boot in the General's chest and shoved the elf and his chair backwards. The force of the kick caused Rahder’s feet to go over his head. The elf flipped into the wall.

Now, think of how different if it would be if the started the chapter like this:

Derac sat on the edge of the long table in the center of the room. General Rahder sat in front of him, hands tied together, resting in his lap. Sunlight steamed through the ceiling high windows, shining directlyl into the General's eyes. He squinted aginst the harsh light, making the scar on his cheek wrinkle.

"I ask you again, why did you sell secrets about the Kinir Elite to Wizard Ackda?" Derac said.

See the difference? So sit down and think how you can grab your readers attention with a great beginning.

A is for Antagonist

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Yes, the antagonist. The villians we love to hate (or maybe hate to love). While the antagonist (or sometimes called the conflict) isn't always a single person in a story, today that's what I'm going to talk about for the A-Z challenge.

So, how do you create your villians? I give my villians almost the same amount of attention as I do my heros. They have a full character sketch and timeline made out. I talk to them often (they seem to be nice to me..) to learn about them, their past, and what makes them tick.

Now, my villians are never evil for evil's sake. Some writers do this, and that's okay, but I prefer villians that have a "good side" to them or ones that have morals somewhere - even if they are a bit twisted. For example, the villian in my book Cleanse Fire, doesn't hurt or kill women, even though through the entire story, he's been trying to murder the hero and his friends.

Villians need to be just as three dimensional as the hero! While my villians never take over my body for chat sessions like my hero does nor do they show up on The Character Cafe to make a post, but I know them just as well as my hero. Every detail of their lives, of who they are.

What about you? Why type of villians do you like (or hate)? What sort of villians do you create in your writing?

Oh, check out my new website for The Kinir Elite from Cleanse Fire. Captain Derac Vidor is participating in the A-Z challenge too, so check out his posts! Captain's Log