Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday Celebrations & a Visit from Misha Gerrick

It's Friday and that means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things from the past week. The hop is hosted by my buddy Lexa Cain and co-hosted by L.G Keltner at Writing Off the Edge, Tonja Drecker at Kidbits, and Katie at The Cyborg Mom. Visit Lexa's blog here to find out how join in the hop yourself and to see the list of participants.

I'm going to make my list of celebrations short & sweet because I am also welcoming Misha Gerrick to the blog today as part of her tour for her new release.

I'm celebrating:

1. I attended the Mad Anthony Writer's Conference in Hamilton, Ohio last weekend and had a great time. I met up with some members of my SICCO writer's group and enjoyed spending time with them, plus I feel like I learned some things thanks to a great presentation from Jane Friedman.

2. As I mentioned in my IWSG post, I'm working on a new book in my Polar Night series and I'm super excited about it.

3. Game of Thrones is back and, as of the end of last week's episode, so is my favorite character. (I'll leave it at that in case anyone is behind on watching.) All is right in my tv world. :D

And now I'm turning it over to Misha. Hope everyone has a great weekend!


One of my favorite things about Endless was Nick’s narrative voice. It was just magic from the beginning. I didn’t need to do anything. He just came alive as I wrote, so often writing his scenes were the easiest writing I would do all day.

Ryan and Aleria’s voices were a bit more difficult. Ryan, because he’s more of distant person, who’d built so many walls around himself over the past few decades that he just doesn’t come across as interesting unless I push him.

Aleria was tricky because… well… she doesn’t know who she is.

That said, the foundations for both were laid in the rough draft phase, same as with Nick. All I did was to start with whatever the character wanted to say, and then let the characters do the talking.

As the story progressed, I got more of a feel for who each character was, and how that influences how they sound. Which meant that by the time edits came around, it was easier for me to refine each character’s voice.

I know that nailing down voice in a story is seriously difficult, so I thought I’d share my five tips for managing it.

1) Focus on how the character would say something. Not you. The character is the one speaking to the reader. Not the author. If you can remember that, you’re on your way.

2) Listen to your character even as you write. You’ll start getting a feel for the character’s word choices, speech patterns and turns of phrase. So that you can go back and reinforce moments where you slip up during the rough draft.

3) What that character reveals is important. What the character doesn’t reveal to the reader can be even more so. So get to know that character as well as possible so you know what’s going on. If you’re familiar with a character, you’ll know the things the character will never say.

4) Don’t focus so much on making a character sound unique that the character ends up sounding fake. Some phrases are commonly used between at least more than half of English speakers everywhere. It would be stupid to make one character avoid using one of those just because another character used the same phrase earlier.

5) Careful of letting a character’s hobbies/jobs/interests inform every description or turn of phrase. Just because someone is a vegetarian doesn’t mean that they will describe everything in terms of vegetable or fruit colors, for example. It comes back to point #4. Yes, a character’s life will inform the way they see and describe things. But often, this difference will be subtle. Think of yourself and your job. How does it affect your perceptions?

My day-job is exporting fruit and veg. I still don’t see everything in terms of fruit and veg. But I will pick up quality issues in almost any fresh produce within seconds of seeing them. Because it’s my job. But I won’t arbitrarily call a green “lime green” unless the color exactly matched that of a lime.

Bonus tip: Subtlety goes a long way.

How do you nail down voice in your story?

About the Book

First, do no harm.” Blake Ryan swore that oath to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals.

Things are different now. Using regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay, Ryan has led a quiet life since the Second World War. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them.

Until a plane crash brings Aleria into his hospital. Her life is vibrant. Crack to predators like him. She’s the exact sort of person they would hunt, and thanks to a severe case of amnesia, she’s all but defenseless.

Leaving Aleria vulnerable isn’t an option, but protecting her means unleashing his own inner monster. Which is a problem, because his inner monster wants her dead most of all.

About the Author

Misha Gerrick lives near Cape Town, South Africa, and can usually be found staring at her surroundings while figuring out her next book.

If you’d like to see what Misha’s up to at the moment, you can find her on these social networks:


  1. Don't let everything relate to fruit and vegetables - funny! I'm sure after a long day of work, you don't even want to think about them.
    Cool you got to hear Jane at the conference.
    I won't be able to catch up with Game of Thrones until next month, but I have a good idea who you are talking about.

  2. Hahaha Alex, you're right. At the moment, the thought of a pumpkin makes me rather... queasy.

  3. I LOVED the end of last week's Game of Thrones. Can't wait for the new episode this Sunday!

    I love Nick's voice in Misha's book. He's my favorite character! Congrats on the release, Misha!

  4. Glad to hear about your writer's conference and your new book. It's always good to have something to feel optimistic about.

    Also nice to hear about Misha's book. Inspires me to work harder on mine.

  5. I can't imagine how to write a character with amnesia. Too hard for me! I'm glad you were brave enough to tackle it. My hubby's brother is a produce supplier. He has to be up very early to get the best quality. Poor man hardly sleeps. Congrats on your release, Misha!

    Julie - Yay for the happy vibes at the writers' con and for the new story idea! I can't wait to hear more about it! :)

  6. "Listen to the voice of the character" is vital. Sometimes the character can lead the story and change the writer's thoughts. Excellent.

  7. Not letting your character sound fake is essential to making a believable story that readers will be willing to go through. Also one that will more likely get positive reviews. Thanks for popping by Misha. *Wink*

    Wow you Julia and Tara Tyler are really getting out of your shells to go conferences and/or book fairs. Congrats and keep going. Yay, write on! I need to start in on Games of Thrones.

  8. I may have screamed (with joy, of course) at the end of last week's GoT.
    Congrats to Misha!

  9. Hope it's okay - this a comment for today and IWSG.

    Huzzah for having your next story solid and ready to write/draft/tackle! I'm excited for a new Polar Night story. :)

    Yay for C.Lee and for Misha - two awesome authors!

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  10. Excellent points about voice, Misha. You seem to have a good grasp of it. Congratulations on your book, and good luck. Enjoy the journey!

  11. Good points, Misha. I try to imagine I'm the character when I write dialog or inner monologues. My inner monologue comments on everything I do, all day long.


  12. So glad you got to go to the conference. I miss attending those things. Congrats on the book! Hope you have a lovely weekend. Off to finish reading Misha's blurb.
    Lori's CtST @ As the Fates Would Have It

  13. Congratulations, Misha! That sounds like a difficult book to write and a character which would be hard to get right. (I love the cover too!)
    The writing conference does sounds like fun. Glad you enjoyed, Julie!

  14. Hi Julie - I think it's great you're right a sequel to Polar Night ... and then having the opportunity to hear Jane Friedman - a special event - bet you learnt lots.

    Good luck to Misha with Endless ... sounds intriguing ... cheers Hilary

  15. Good luck, Misha!

    Julie - GOT has been great so far this season. It's been hard to choose between that and Fear of the Walking Dead on Sunday nights. Thank goodness for a DVR :)

    Also, have fun with your sequel to Polar Night!!

  16. Congrats on your boo release, Misha! Yes, all characters need different voices to make the story believable.

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  18. M.J., Nick is definitely one of my favorite self-created characters too. ;-)

    Glad to inspire you, Nissa.

    Lexa, fresh produce certainly isn't a job for the faint-hearted.

    Thanks Susan. To me, listening to my characters is vital to my method.

    Agreed, Sheena. Voice is such an important aspect to the story.

    Thanks Sarah!

    Thanks Tyrean!

    Thanks Ann! I hope I have a good grasp of voice. :-)

    That's a good approach, Janie.

    Thanks T! I'm glad you like the cover.

    Thanks so much, Hilary.

    Thanks Elsie.

    Thanks Nas. Different voices for different characters does make a huge difference to a reader's suspension of disbelief.

  19. Good luck on that next Polar Nights book and congrats to Misha.

  20. Good luck, Julie, on the next Polar Night book!

    Fantastic post on voice, Misha! I, too, find I learn more about the characters and their voices from writing that first draft and then have to add/tweak things in edits to fit them. It's always nice when a character comes out already knowing his/her voice. :)

  21. Awesome tips about voice. Most of the time, it comes easily to me, but sometimes, like my current WIP, it's difficult. Love your bonus tip!

    Yay for writing, conferences, and Game of Thrones! :)

  22. Yay Misha!! I'm also so incredibly happy GOT is back. It's such a great way to end a long week. :)

  23. I completely agree about Nick. He was so vibrant and flawed that I was rooting for him. Truth.

    Julie, I'm so happy for you--having that mojo back. I hope your writing is going awesomely.

  24. Julie, good luck with your next Polar Nights book.

    Misha, subtlety is definitely the way to go. I often find my words being too on point. Good luck with the book.

  25. All wonderful things to be grateful for. I love this meme. It gets me thinking.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  26. I must be getting old. I coulda SWORE I already left a comment on this post. I know I read it... it even prompted me to buy Misha's new book...

    Oh well. Try, try, again, right?

    I'm glad your conference was so successful, Julie. You're gonna end up being an extrovert, in spite of yourself. :) Looking forward to your next book.

    Misha, congrats on the new release. I bought it, but haven't started reading it yet. Here's wishing you much success with it.

  27. I'll never be able to see the whole Game of Thrones! I stopped a long time ago and now I'm scared to even start again.

    Congrats on that conference. Those are always so exciting and uplifting.

    Congrats again also to Misha.

  28. Congrats to Misha:) Been seeing her book everywhere:)

    All caught up on GoT... and I'm still in shock on what's been going on... won't give away anything but I'm sure you know what I mean!!

  29. I think I need to nail those characterization tips to my forehead . . . err, the nearest wall, so I don't forget them. :) I've been struggling with a "new" character whose point of view is different from mine . . . and I'm trying to write in first POV to get closer. Ack!

    Anyway, I will be keeping these tips close by, Misha! (And congrats!)

    Julie - I'm so glad that your novel writing is going great!!!

  30. Congrats to Misha. I enjoyed her book a lot. I haven't watched Game of Thrones yet, but I'd like to see what everyone's talking about.

  31. Julie, good luck on your new book in the Polar series! That's exciting.

    Misha, Endless sounds great! The description really catches my attention, I can't wait to read it!

    Thanks for all the great tips on characters, #4 & #5 were things I hadn't thought about before.

  32. Julie, that's great that you were able to attend the conference. I always find conferences or any writers' gatherings inspiring. Good luck with your new Polar Night story! Glad it's going well!

    Misha, thanks for the wonderful tips on voice, particularly #1 and #2! They may sound obvious, but they're so important. Congrats, again!

  33. Happy weekend Julie. Glad you had fun at the conference.

  34. Julie, I enjoyed reading your CTST list and learning from Misha. I'm not a novelist, but her steps to nailing down voices may help with writing children's literature. This is one of the areas I'd like to write, but I also have a few adult story ideas in storage (my brain). It's nice meeting you today, and I hope if you have time you'll pop over to read my CTST post, here. Have an awesome weekend!

  35. Julie - Good for you! I love it when things work out. So glad things are going better on your end.

    Misha - Congrats! Thank you for sharing your tips about Voice. I can hear my character talk differently in my head, but don't always know how to transfer it to the page. I tend to overthink things:)

  36. Sounds like good news, Julie. Hope the conference was fun. Misha offered great tips. I really do think you have to spend as much time with your characters as you can - the more you know them, the easier the voice will come.


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