Friday, 29 June 2012

Friday Guest: Jade Varden

Today, I'm delighted to hand over my blog to Jade Varden, a YA author who has published two novels in her Deck of Lies series, to explain how she gets the most out of her writing time.

Take it away Jade... 

Every Great Book Begins with Pre-Writing
By Jade Varden

Every book begins with an idea. Writers might ask themselves a question one day, and suddenly an entire book series is born. A dream, a line in a song, a TV commercial, a news report -- they’re all capable of inspiring great literary works. Before you ever write a word, you’ve already got the makings for a fantastic book. But too many writers skip a necessary step between idea and book-writing: pre-writing. The idea is just the beginning of the pre-writing process. Before you sit down to type, you’ve got to stop and think.

Pre-Writing: A Secret Writing Technique

Would you sit down to make a dress without a pattern? Cook dinner without at least some sense of a recipe? You can’t sit down to write a book with only a few random, scattered ideas in your head. Writing will go much smoother if you have a plan to follow, if your thoughts are organized, if know where you’re going with the story. That’s where pre-writing becomes so important.

Every book begins with an opening scene. Think about the characters you need to introduce, what you want to say about them, how you want the reader to perceive them. Pre-writing is all about imagining. Imagine that opening scene like it’s playing out before you. See the setting and the characters interacting within it inside your mind. If you can see the scene in your head, it’ll be much easier to write later. Take note of how the characters are moving around in the space, what they’re saying to each other. When you can hear your characters talking to each other, you can make a lot of little tweaks to your dialogue so it sounds more real. Once you sit to write the scene, you only have to access the memory.

Imagining the scene makes it much easier to add vivid details to your writing, and helps you stay on track plot-wise. You know what needs to happen, and instead of re-writing and struggling through a scene several times on paper you can face the keyboard with a few solid ideas of how you need to get there.

I pre-write just about every scene I’ve ever put into my books; otherwise, I find myself going back and changing everything several times before I can move on to something else. Every time I find myself feeling stuck, or if I’m confused about where I need to go next, I immediately stop typing and stand up. Instead of trying to write my way through the scene, I pace around and I think it out. Instead of wrestling with the scene on the computer screen, I subdue it on my own private movie screen inside my head. Ideas are much easier to move around and edit than printed words, no matter how fast you type.

About Jade:
Jade Varden writes young adult novels for teen readers. When she’s not working on her books, Jade contributes freelance fashion articles to VAR magazine, and blogs practical writing tips for authors who self-publish.

Follow her on Twitter @JadeVarden. 

You can also find Jade, here:
Jade's blog
Jade on Amazon
Jade at B&N
Jade on Smashwords

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Be inspired!

The marvellous Patsy Collins has tagged me in this award --->

I have to answer the following questions, and then pass them on to five other people. As I can't resist talking about Cat and The Dreamer, how could I refuse!!

1.  What gave you the idea for your book?
I had several strands that came together. I day-dream, and it seemed a great way to tell the inside story of a character. And around the time I started the book there were several unrelated stories in the press about suicide pacts. I also had a vivid image of Cat. After a while all these parts morphed together.
2.  How long did it take to write overall?
I'm a very slow writer. I've got drafts dated 2008, and I submitted in 2011.
3.  What kept you going when you were half way through?
I just enjoyed writing this story. I loved the character of Julia, and I wanted to see where she'd end up. It was at the half-way point (a couple of drafts written) that I realised it would probably never be published because of its length - this was just before the explosion of ebooks, epublishers and self-publishing, which has opened up the market for short stories and novellas. That thought meant I was free to write the story, and the ending, that I really wanted to write without worrying about submitting. I eventually submitted to my publisher because I really wanted someone to read my story! 
4.  Are any of your characters based on real people, even though you have to say they aren’t?
Some of them are conglomerations of several people, but there's always a piece of me in every character - I can't help it! 
5.  Did you ever wonder if you’d have the work published?
As I said above, I knew it wouldn't be. You cannot begin to imagine my amazement, shock, joy I felt when I received the acceptance.
6.  When you’ve had one book published, do you feel under pressure with the next one?
Cat and The Dreamer has only been published for four months, so I don't at the moment. Perhaps I should - the rise of self-publishing ebooks has meant people can bring out a new book every few months, and I'd love to keep people interested in me. This question has pressured me!
7.  Would you write in a different genre next time, or do you always stick with what you know?
I've written crime, paranormal, romance and psychological - but in quite a subtle way. For example, a story I would call crime focuses on the baddie, and there's no comeuppance! 
8.  Do you prefer writing a novel, or short stories?
Short stories and novellas. The longest novel I've written is 58,000 words.
9.  Do you use everyday happenings in your writing?
Yes. Always. Even my paranormal stories are firmly placed in the real world.
10.  If your book was to be on t.v. who would play the lead male and female roles?
Ooh... um... Adam would be Benedict Cumberbatch. Julia is possibly Billie Piper (my original choice would be Natalie Imbruglia in her Neighbours days, but that's probably a little too historical). I don't watch soaps but I think anyone who successfully plays a bitchy soap character could happily become Cat.

And now I need to tag five people. I'm not sure if the idea is to ask new questions, so I'm going to pass on the same questions. I've chosen completely randomly, so apologies if I keep picking on you (my memory is so poor I could select the same person every single time and not realise!). Feel free not to take part, I won't be offended.

Teresa F Morgan at The Wittering Woman
Marta Szemik at Marta Szemik
Kyra Lennon at Write Here, Write Now
Michael Abayomi at Michael Abayomi
J. A. Bennett at J.A. Bennett

Friday, 22 June 2012

Friday interview with Tony Talbot

Today, I'm welcoming Tony Talbot to my blog, a YA author with three books under his belt, and a fourth in progress. See more about them at the end of the interview.

Tony started writing fiction in 2008 after a dream he had and couldn't shake. Eventually, his wife told him to write it down or quit talking about it. He hasn't stopped since.

Hi Tony, it's really great to meet you. What I'm really interested to know is, what would you be doing now if you hadn't had that dream?
Ooo...that's a good question! I think I would still be writing today. I'd been toying with the idea of writing for a while before 'The Dream', but never really got down to the actual doing it. I think it was just a good kick start to get me going! I think that taught me not to put it off...just get writing and get going. I'd really have no idea what I'd be doing if I'd found out people thought I wasn't good at it though. I really can't imagine my life without writing in it anymore.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Creating worlds and characters from out of nothing and making them breathe and live. Seeing something that someone else might miss and spinning a story out of it. I recently was eating in a McDonalds on a Friday night when I noticed a woman at a table for two, sitting alone - and then I saw she was wearing a wedding ring. From that single observed detail, I started asking myself questions...why was she alone? Where was her husband and her family on this Friday night? I managed to get a decent story out of her...not bad for a woman I never talked to! That's the best part.

And the worst?
It's a lonely job, and one you spend a lot of time looking at a screen and with your back to an empty room. One of the things you have to do as a writer is close out the world, no matter how much it wants to drag you away. One of the worst things is thinking you're writing something so well, and you're never going to be able to get this good again. Self-doubt, I guess. Thinking this is as good as I can get.

What’s your writing routine like? Do you have one?
When I'm working on a novel, I like to put an hour or two in a night for at least three days a week, and maybe four or five hours on weekends. I like to keep the momentum of the story going, or it starts to fall apart.

What are you working on at the moment?
I've just finished my fourth book, EIGHT MILE ISLAND, and I'm waiting for that to be edited so I can start the re-writes. I've just got into blogging (, and I've got an 'affiliate' blog at asidefromwriting blog as well as my own. I'm enjoying writing for them while I wait for Eight Mile Island.
I have a writing class who meet once a month, and I'm working on the short story 'homework' that we set ourselves. I'm also reading a 100,000 word novel a member of the writing class gave me to look over, that's keeping me busy!

Why do you write?
I've been writing since 2008, and I'm far too addicted to stop! When I'm not writing, I'm at a dead end. I can't think what to do with myself at all! It's a way to get the interesting characters I imagine out of my head and on paper. I'd feel...incomplete...if I didn't write.

What inspires you?
That I can try to make people laugh and cry with what I write. That I can try to give them characters that seem real to them, make them believe in people who never existed.

What drew you to write YA?
I've been reading YA since my wife introduced me to the Australian author John Marsden (Tomorrow, When the War Began series). He was writing about teenagers, but he didn't talk down to them; he treated them like adults and didn't shy away from anything he wanted to say in his books. It was the sort of book I wanted to read, and it's the sort of books I like to write.

Thanks Tony - it's been great having you here today.

You can find Tony on his website here, or on his blog here.
He tweets @authortony and has a Facebook page here.

Tony's Books
Over the Mountain
Life is quiet for Jenna Adams...until Scott Thomas arrives and turns her world upside down...and not always in a good way...
Amon Russo lives on a beautiful secluded Greek island and has a perfect life. Only he isn't who he thinks he is...

American Girl
Mary Tanaka was an average American girl until the attack on Pearl Harbor made her something terrible: Japanese.

Eight Mile Island (Coming soon)
Dylan James has been thrown out of a lot of boarding schools. But Eight Mile Island is like no school he's ever been to...

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Twitter... the next chapter

There's a new button on the right-hand side of this blog.

It looks like this:

Yes! I've joined Twitter!!

I have no idea what I'm doing, though, and that scares me a little bit. It's like turning up to a party at 9pm when everyone else was invited at 3pm. It's like being the only person at a wedding who didn't go on the hen night. I feel left out and a bit out of my depth, and I really want to hide in a corner with a large glass of Pimms and a plate of mini pasties.

Usually, I'm pretty good with technology. I don't complain when Facebook or Blogger change - I just look around, figure out what changes there are and adapt how I use it.

But I really hate starting something from scratch.

So, I'm over here in my corner, and I'd really appreciate it if you'd come over and ask me to dance!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Changing my mind!

Just over five weeks ago I decided to create a schedule for this blog. It was a trial, because I'd seen other blogs work well with a schedule, and I saw a post about how it was the professional thing to do. But it didn't work for me - I haven't enjoyed it, so I'm not doing it anymore!

I've got interviews and guest posts scheduled for the next few Fridays, which I'll obviously still be posting, and I won't stop having guest posts and interviews, because that bit I've really enjoyed - it just won't be every week.

So, what went wrong?
  • I don't normally schedule anything, apart from coffee with friends. I don't even have a regular day to wash the floors. I liked the A-Z Challenge (which is the reason I thought I'd enjoy having a schedule in the first place) but probably because it was a novelty, not because I had a sudden yearning to have my blogging week mapped out.
  • I started focusing on the posts much more than I've done in the past. Rather than having an oh that would be good to write about thought, I was having what the heck can I write now thoughts. And that was quite stressful!
  • I've wanted to write about things that haven't fitted with my general themes.
  • I've wanted to write things on a Tuesday!
  • Because I was posting so frequently, I thought it was only fair that I visited other blogs more. You can't post a lot and not visit anyone, can you? Therefore, I was either writing posts or reading posts or commenting on posts... and then it was time to write another post again.
So, there you have it, folks. Normal service is resumed. And to celebrate, I have no idea when my next post will be or what it will be about. I feel liberated!

So, how are you today?

(PS. What I do know is I'll be interviewing YA author Tony Talbot on Friday!)

Did you know Stephen Tremp's novel Breakthrough: The Adventures of Chase Manhattan is available to download free from today and tomorrow? Go straight there, or stop off at Stephen's blog first.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Friday interview with Joanne Faries

Today, Joanne Faries has popped over to be bombarded with questions. I met Joanne during the A-Z Challenge where she blogged about a wide variety of things, including Guns N Roses, jellyfish and opium!

Welcome to my blog, Joanne... I hope you're ready... 
What’s the best thing about being a writer? 
Saying, "I'm a writer" without stammering over the words, and having a book (My Zoo World) to prove it.

And the worst?   
Rejection is still difficult at times, especially when I think a piece was perfect for a publication. I sent them my little gem, and they tossed it in the trash. But I do re-polish and send out again.

What’s your writing routine like? Do you have one?  
I have no routine. Just when I think I'll have a writing day, plans change. I do try to jot down thoughts at any time to spur me on when I do plop in front of the computer.  

What are you working on at the moment?  
I have several poems in various stages of disarray. I'm also working on a new collection of humorous essays - tentative title is Athletic Antics. 

Why do you write?   
I like to make people laugh, and enjoy the word play.  

What inspires you?   
Nature for poetry. Peoples' stories and real life situations for fiction. I expand and exaggerate from teensy actions. My co-workers are a constant source of crazy.

Do you have a day job?  
I'm a documentation specialist for an aerospace testing lab, and work 3-4 days a week. We test processes, and as my boss says, "Get to break things, rust things, and test boundaries." 

Why did you start blogging?  
In theory, to promote my "platform" and all of that "What you should do to be successful stuff."  I'm lousy at promotion, butI found I enjoyed the blog for myself, I try to keep it steered toward writing, and often it's a warm-up exercise. 

Has it helped or hindered your writing?   
I'm fortunate that I don't have to make a living at writing. That pressure stressed and sucked the life out of creative aspects.  The blog is an outlet. I also write a movie review column for the sheer joy of writing - it combines my love of movies and of putting pen to paper. My husband's aunt distributes The Little Paper of San Saba and I contribute whenever and whatever I want. It's a town without a cinema, so readers are at my mercy. I review blockbusters, artsy flicks, and I feature What's in Your Queue? Those are my Netflix choices - fave recommendation right now is Portlandia. 
Thanks so much for being here today, Joanne.
Thanks for having me. I enjoyed meeting you through the A-to-Z Challenge.

Joanne blogs at Word Splash
You can find her book - My Zoo World - on Amazon here!

My Zoo World is a humorous memoir of animal encounters with a twist. Among published animal tales, very few are skewed with a touch of fear and laughter on every page. Unlike books written by pet-loving authors, these chapters introduce the reader to a manic menagerie of animals: a snapping Shetland pony, a bowling ball playing pit bull, and a terrified turtle that tolerates distress. Meet Benji, the cat, Muff, the dog, and more. Friends are convinced they can overcome Joanne’s concerns with their precious pets. Join them and root for the animals as you read My Zoo World.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

7x7 Link Award

One of my brand new blogger friends, Michael Abayomi, has tagged me in the 7x7 Link Award. I love reading his blog, so if you haven't met Michael, please stop by and say hello.

Now, I've seen other people taking part in this tag, and I've been itching to re-visit some of my older posts too, so I was really happy to be tagged.

The idea of the award is to link to existing blog posts that fall into seven categories...
Most Beautiful Piece
Goodbye 2011. I've linked to this post before, but I think it fits this category, so please forgive me.

Most Helpful Piece
Too hard. I couldn't find anything that fits here, so I'm going to pretend this one doesn't exist!

Most Popular Piece 
I'll tumble 4 ya blogfest. Of course, it probably helped that it featured Morten Harket!

Most Controversial Piece
Save Our Libraries Day. I know this doesn't look overtly controversial because there are no comments on the post, but as I used to work in a library I know lots of librarians, and they told me face-to-face how controversial they found it! I hope this doesn't open old wounds...

Most Surprisingly Successful Piece
Spellings and Misspellings. At a time when I was only getting two or three visitors to my blog, this post has had 98 views. I have no idea why - it must have been caught in a popular search term, but I never worked out what term people were using.

Most Underrated Piece
Curious incidents with mirrors. Five page views, no comments... that's pretty underrated, isn't it? Although to be fair, it was before I discovered the fun of joining blogfests and following great people.

Most Pride-Worthy Piece
I'm not sure how to interpret this category, so I'm going for Welcome, where I proudly announce that I have 13 followers.

And now I'm going to choose seven people to tag...

Suze at Analog Breakfast
DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude 2.0
Rena at Doctor Faerie Godmother
Allison at Geek Banter
Rebecca Bradley at Life in Clarity
Teresa F Morgan at The Wittering Woman
Marta Szemik at Marta Szemik

Feel free not to take part if you've done it already or simply don't want to!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I recently asked my Facebook friends which book I should read - I'd just bought Persuasion and Northanger Abbey - and Persuasion was regarded as the book I should opt for first.

So I did.

But I didn't like it.

And then I thought that maybe there was something wrong with me, because I didn't like it.

As you're no doubt aware, I love Pride and Prejudice. But apart from Sense and Sensibility, I'd never read any other Austen novel. I aways thought this was remiss, especially as they are spoken about with such warmth, so I snapped them up when I saw them in a sale. But whereas the characters of Elizabeth, Mr Darcy, Mr and Mrs Bennett - even Mr Collins - jump off the page, I did not feel the same about Anne Elliot or Captain Wentworth. In fact, regarding the latter, I had absolutely no clue about him at all from the first half of the novel; I certainly didn't know - and didn't care - why Anne Elliot found him so attractive.

Mr Darcy is appealing from the very first aloof glance - even if you don't like him, his character is established well, you get a sense of who he is and why Lizzie might like him. Lizzie, too, talks, is listened to, has contact with Darcy so the reader can see the state of their relationship from the start.

None of these things is apparent between the two main characters in Persuasion, indeed it took a while to work out what the story was! Anne Elliot herself seems so content to sit back and listen to the other characters talking around her that it seems almost wrong to call her a main character at all!

Many people like this novel a lot, so my question (without any flippancy or sarcasm) is: why? What am I missing? Should I read it again, and will I be swayed towards a different opinion if I do? Have you read this novel? Did you love it or hate it?

Please help!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Friday Guest: Sarah Allen

Before I introduce today's guest blogger, I am being interviewed over on Joanne Faries blog Word Splash - and then next Friday, she's popping here to be interviewed by me. I'd love you to come and see me on Joanne's blog, after you've read Sarah's post, of course!

And now, please welcome Sarah Allen to my blog. If you haven't visited Sarah's blog, From Sarah, With Joy, she's been experimenting recently with video poems and vlogging, so I invited her here to explain why.

YouTube for Writers
by Sarah Allen

So we all know that YouTube is this huge, monstrously popular thing. It has how many hits every day? How many hours of video uploaded every second?

Writing is not a visual medium, like art or video. But I think if we are completely serious about building a satisfying, successful, creative career, YouTube is a resource we cannot afford to miss out on.

There are two reasons why:

1. Creative output. YouTube is, simply put, another place to be creative. Absolutely ANYTHING you’re interested, you can use in conjunction with YouTube. Children’s books, poetry, gaming, cooking, gymnastics. All of it can be made into a video, and a pretty cool video too with only limited editing skills.

So be creative. I think people get intimidated and scared at the thought of making videos, but it doesn’t have to be scary at all. If you need help editing, find someone to teach you. If you don’t like being in front of the camera, put someone else in front of it. Just take a camera around with you to your kids dance competitions or your day at the zoo and find a creative way to make a video out of it.

2. Marketing. So basically the only more popular sites than YouTube are Facebook and Google. Again, not a resource to take lightly. Writers like John Green have a gigantisourus YouTube following, which feeds directly into book sales. We don’t have to do anything that serious, so don’t stress. But if we’re trying to catch fish, YouTube is a really, really big pond. Anything can help.

There are so many things you can do to reel in viewers and subscribers. Vlogging, gaming, cooking show, videopoetry, illustrate a childrens book and put it in video format. Be creative, be you. Then when you have a book come out, make a video letting your viewers know about it.

As with any marketing or creative project, keep this in mind: just do what you can, learn, work, don’t stress so much the fun goes away. Work at it a little at a time, and big things might happen. Especially with the decline in blogging, video is the new commons area. Find a way to make that work for you.

And besides, making videos really is fun

Sarah Allen

Sarah Allen is a fangirl from Utah working on drafting her second novel, editing and submitting the first. She loves jazz, white chocolate and Colin Firth. Find more at her blog ( and YouTube channel (

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

IWSG, an offer and an award!

Accepting an award is the best way to counteract insecurity, so I'm going to give you two very distinct parts to today's post.

If you're not familiar with the Internet Writer's Support Group, on the first Wednesday of every month, we share our insecurities! Just click on the logo and it'll take you to Alex's sign up page.

I am insecure this month because everyone is writing and editing, and taking part in CampNaNo or BuMoWriMo, and I haven't written anything new for a long time. At first, I was resting my novel over April because I was somewhat otherwise engaged, but it's now June... and I've only written three brand new paragraphs. As for my novel, it's still asleep, snoring its head off on the shelf. Perhaps that's the reason I can't concentrate?

Please don't feel you have to respond to my inability to write... I've already mentioned the problem a couple of times, and had lots of great advice; I've also given advice to people in the same situation. So I know what to do, I'm just struggling to get my mojo and my muse to cooperate...


So, enough of that... now for the offer...
Michelle Gregory over at Beautiful Chaos is giving away print and e-book versions of her novel Eldala as part of her IWSG post this month - to people who are fully signed up on the Support Group linky list.

Kieran’s blood boils every time he hears about the abuse handed down by Teleria’s nobility. But years of hiding in his father’s smithy have taught him to avoid trouble. Content with being a blacksmith, the only disruptions in his well-ordered life are his disturbing dreams. It isn’t until his twentieth birthday, when he receives a mysterious letter and sword from King Arathor – the man who claims to be his real father – that he wonders if his dreams have become reality. If he believes Arathor, he will have a chance to end a twenty-year curse over Teleria, and free the people from King Rahnak’s oppression. But it could also mean giving up his quest to find the mysterious woman with whom he shares an intimate heart connection.

Please go and visit her, if you haven't already!

But, before you do...

Here's the lovely award I was given last week by the lovely Teresa Morgan who blogs at The Wittering Woman.

To accept this award, I must tell you five things about myself, and pass the award along to five people. I've decided not to pass this award on, because I passed an award recently, and I find it so hard to choose who should get them. I think you're all fabulous... so in the best tradion of copping out, please feel awarded if you so wish!

Because the sunshine makes me happy, here are five other things that made me happy in the last few days.

  1. Today was a really fantastic hair day. The type of day when you do a double-take in the mirror because your hair looks so good!
  2. I sat in the sun, in a pub beer garden, on Monday afternoon, listening to Hubby's gig and drinking Pimms.
  3. When the sun went in and it got cold, I snuggled #2 son into my jacket to keep him warm.
  4. I had the best workout at the gym the other day - it fell on just the right side of total exhaustion, and I didn't ache the next day!
  5. I sat at watched the Jubilee floatilla on TV with my dad on Sunday. Just me, him and some sarcastic comments about the commentary - perfect!
Thanks for this award Teresa - it really made my day!

Monday, 4 June 2012

the first person and other stories by Ali Smith

Goodreads link
I love, love, love short stories. I love writing them; I love reading them. Over the years, I've had a few published, although they are probably all long forgotten now :-(

It's not quite so easy to find good collections to read, though. As a result I grab them wherever I can and hope for the best. When I picked up this Ali Smith collection, I hadn't read her novels but I knew her name.

These stories are an experiment in viewpoint - many of them are written in the second person, which is why I picked it for today's recommendation. (If you don't know, I'm highlighting books which have influenced me in some way - these posts are not intended to be book reviews.)

The second person viewpoint interested me because I'd already had my story That Sadie Thing published - a story written partly in second person. It's a viewpoint that challenges the writer - fingers crossed that I got it right, then! As with anything, when done well you hardly notice that the story is being written in an unconventional way; when done badly, it's the only thing you notice!

Have you read Ali Smith's short stories or novels? Have you written a story is second person? Do you enjoy reading stories written in second?

Friday, 1 June 2012

Friday interview with Misha Gericke

Today, I'm pleased to welcome Misha Gericke to my blog! Misha is currently writing her first novel, a fantasy called Doorways

Misha, welcome to my blog... dropping you in at the deep end, why do you write?
Ooooh that is the deep end. This might be a bit of a cliched answer, but I go nuts when I don't write. I guess that makes sense, given that I have about thirty characters minimum in my head, clamoring for attention. Writing quiets them down a little. 

With all those characters wandering around in your head, are you the ultimate pantser, or do you work to a plan?
Definitely a pantser, although a plan sort of formed itself for the whole series as I wrote Doorways. 

On your blog, you have a countdown to when Doorways will be finished - how's that going?
Hahahaha oh... it's all in the balance at this stage. I'm REALLY close, but it all depends on how fast my CPs can get through my work. 

What are you doing while you wait? Do you have something else to work on, the next in the series maybe?
Yes I'm messing around with the sequel at this stage while I wait. It keeps me in my characters' minds without stealing too much of my concentration from Doorways. 

Have you been through the process of submitting and/or publishing before, or is this your first time?
This will be my first time. In one sense I'm really looking forward to it, since it will be the next big challenge. On the other, I am terrified. 

Have you found blogging, and reading other people's publication stories, useful? When I was started submitting, I had no idea what to expect.
Oh definitely. I had no clue at all, which is why I'm so glad that I decided to start blogging, because it really opened my eyes. I also learnt some really useful tips from other writers that I never would have thought of on my own.
And, finally, talking about tips, do you have any of your own writing or blogging tips to pass on?
Writing tip from me: try not to compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. 
Blogging tip: Reciprocate, because there's no use to asking people to follow them if you won't do the same.

Thanks Misha! It's been great talking to you, and good luck with Doorways.
If you don't already follow Misha, she blogs at My First Book, where you can follow the countdown for Doorways too!