Nanowrimo update and a short book review

Hello everyone,

It’s the reading writer again. Or the writing reader. Anyway works.

A few days ago I finished reading a book by Naomi Novick called ‘Uprooted’. The title was provoking enough for me. It is totally different from her Temeraire books but amazing in its own way. If you like magic, good characters, wicked evil and plots in plots, this is a read for you.

Uprooted

Next: Nanowrimo. Going strong and Baba Yaga is meeting more and more people. I’m still trying to find my way into getting her into the adventures she’s already mentioned but the story isn’t in a hurry. I hope that’s fine with you as you will have to read through all of that. I promise you it’s not boring though!

So far I’ve done 105 pages of the story and it’s going strong. So much for this update, I hope that next time will have something more interesting. Let me leave you with this snippet from the Baba Yaga story:

The wagoneers had a fast way of doing things. While the first half went for food, the other half dealt with unloading things that would stay in the town. Those were only a few crates and boxes. By the time they were done the other half was done eating and the unloaders went to eat. Supplies were bought and stored. By the time that was done everyone was ready to leave. Bearskin man, who introduced himself as Alexey (“Call me Al”) told Baba to get up on the driver’s seat of the first wagon. He grabbed the reins of the horses and climbed up as well. The other wagoneers gathered around and watched as he explained Baba how to guide the horses. “Slowly does it. They do the work. Just make sure you don’t jerk the reins.”

Babs felt quite insecure at first and at times wondered if she should throw in some magic to keep the two horses under control, but once she had figure out the movement and the way to steer them, the animal almost moved by themselves. “This is fun,” she said in the end.

“I know,” Al said. “And you have a feel for them, I can tell. Dolopov will be pleased to learn that a cute girl is taking control of his wagon.”

“Dolopov? That’s an odd name.”

Al nodded. “It’s from up north. He is too. Now turn this thing around, get us back and then put the wagon at the front of the line again.”

That of course was easier said than done but with some tips and tricks from Alexey she managed it. When the wagon was ‘parked’ Babs felt some sweat trickle down her neck. “That was… interesting.” Al praised her though. He said it was some fancy driving she’d done, which wasn’t bad for a newbie.

“Where are you heading to?” Al asked after they’d climbed down from the wagon.

“I’m not sure. I’m on an adventure journey,” Babs said, sticking to the truth. She realised her reply sounded strange.

An update on the Nanowrimo goings on.

Yes, dear reader, it’s still going strong. Nanowrimo in all its madness. And I’m still working on both stories, the English one and the Dutch one. The Dutch one has taken the lead in word count but that’s fine. Both stories are about witches, my favourite subject.

The story of Baba Yaga surprised me quite a lot already. I hope it will do so for you as well but you’ll have to wait for it “a little longer”. It’s not done yet, which is one of the best reasons. 😉

I hadn’t thought that Babs’ journey would be such an interesting one. I can’t emphasise it enough: it is not a fun and laughter story like the Hilda books but it feels like a very good story.

So far I’ve written 62.000 words of the needed 50.000 but considering that I’m doing 2 stories I am aiming for 100.000 words of course. Well, let’s get on with it (after chasing my cat Obsi through the hall a few times; he’s begging for that!)

Obsidian (a.k.a. Obsi)

The first Nanowrimo update

Dear reader,

The madness is going well. I’ve written scandalous amounts of words in the past days. In total my Nanowrimo loot is over 11.000 words for the two stories I’m writing, and day 3 isn’t over yet. The Dutch story at the moment is in the lead in number of words, but the English story isn’t far behind.

The difference in style of the two stories is remarkable and I have to make a conscious switch when I go from one to the other. I’ve found that this is even harder than writing the same story in two languages simultaneously.

So far however I’m having fun!

And before you get confused: the image is one that I am temporarily using as a ‘fake cover’ for the Baba Yaga story. Could you see Babs like that in her younger years?

Hilda, adventurers and other stuff that’s going on.

Dear reader,

Yes! Hilda is coming! Soon too!

No need to excuse my enthusiasm. Live with it or run away screaming. In the latter case please send me a recording of your screams as I collect interesting vocal expressions.

Tomorrow is the day! Hilda’s 20th adventure will hit the e-shelves! And it’s a book about a book! A book of Dragons! Real, live, big, dragony fly-beasts! If you want to know how to get one, buy the book and find out!

And what’s this adventurer stuff then?

Wanted: heroThat’s coming too, be it a little later. I hope by the end of November. I’m talking about the sequel to “Wanted: hero“. It will be called “Wanted: adventurer”. It was a really difficult book to write which threw surprise after surprise at me. All came out well in the end, despite a lot of dust, cracks and airborne problems. Maybe you remember Reny and Sebastian, also known as Sabas to throw the ugly Lergesh off his trail. There are more adventures (well, duh) lined up for them. And yes: there will be Nordrish too. 😀

The last bits of things: Nanowrimo!

Winter is coming to the north, as we all know (except for Jon Snow; he knows nothing). But November also means Nanowrimo. Despite the fact that I’m working on 2 Hilda books (one in edit and one in writing) I plan on starting another book about Hilda’s world. This one will be different though. You may remember Baba Yaga’s absence from her bestest girlfriend’s life. Well, this book is going to detail where she went and what happened during that time.

Until all that is done you can either read one of the many books all those writer types from around the world have created especially for you, or you can join the Night’s Watch and wait for the Army of the Dead to arrive. Up to you.

But whatever you choose to do: stay alive and enjoy it!

Paul

Writing for the heart.

Dear reader,

I agree this is a rather unusual title. I’m good at coming up with unusual things but that’s not the point of this post.  Read on and find out…

Writing for the heart.

red heartThe writing for the heart that I mean is not for my heart. It’s for the heart of the people who read what I’ve put to electronic paper. Let me tell you the story of one of those people. I’ll not mention her name. She will be MC.

Writing for the heart of MC.

One day, several years ago, I received an e-mail from someone who had read the entire series of my wicked witch. MC told me she used to be an artist, a painter, who then was in hospital because of many ailments. Since a few years (!) she was in an oxygen tent and reading books was impossible for her; her eyes had been affected by all the medication. A few good friends had bought her an e-reader (adjustable font size, you know) and on that she could read again. On that e-reader they’d installed the first few books of Hilda.

After reading them, MC asked a friend to write me that e-mail. In it she told me how much good my stories had done for her. And… then she asked: “If ever I am well enough again to paint, would you allow me to paint a few scenes from your stories?”

Bam

That is how that question hit me. Something I had written and put out into the world had such a profound impact on that person, profound enough for her to get that e-mail to me, with her story and her request.

You cannot imagine how that affected me. I hadn’t even ever dared to dream of anything like that to happen.

MC was not the only person who wrote to me about how my stories helped her along and made her happy. I’m not going to list all of them but there have been many. E-mails that touched me, made me smile, made me cry.

E-mails that made me happy, proud and humble. Humble because of the awe that I can do something like that for people I’ve never seen, that I’ll never meet. And they take the time to write to me. To tell me what my stories mean to them.

That is what I mean when I say writing for the heart. Maybe there are more hearts that my stories have touched, hearts that don’t want or dare to write to me. That’s okay. As long as the magic of words does magic to people’s hearts, that’s what counts.

MC, so I’ve learnt, has left this Earthly plane several years ago. An end to her pains and sickness. But knowing how books with stories have made a difference for her… touches my heart…

 

Magic, witches, Hilda.

Dear reader,

It is time again for an update since the last update was updated quite a while ago. Let’s talk witches. And wizards. And cats. My cats, who incidentally (cough, cough) have the same names as those of Hilda and William, who incidentally (cough, cough) are the witch and wizard I would like to talk about.

Hilda. 20.

Original HildaYes. Hilda 20. Book twenty in the continuing saga about the wicked witch.

We’re going strong, my editor Carol and I. Most chapters have been ‘processed’ already and it looks as if we can keep this up.

I know all Hilda fans are waiting desperately for more news and adventures. Trust me, we’re doing what we can but there are only so many candles in a box. I mean feathers on a bird. Ehm… hours in a day perhaps? That sounds more likely.

Since there is not a real, clear publication date for this book, I decided to show you a little part of the cover image. I understand that this is not what you’re waiting for but I promise you that this bit is better than the backside of it (which is basically a white square and for that kind of boring).

So here is a small part of the cover image. Tada. (Imagine a beautiful trumpet sound, unless you prefer a bugle sound, in that case you can imagine a beautiful bugle sound.)

Part Cover Hilda 20

How would you like it if a book was looking at you?

Hilda. 21.

Yes. This book also exists in a raw form. I’m currently reworking the text and at this moment of writing I have finished 4 chapters of it.

There’s not much I can show you of this book unfortunately. Perhaps this is exciting:

Chapters Hilda 21

Hmm. I guess not. At least you can see there are 33 chapters in this book. (Hilda 20 ‘only’ has 27.) I’m not done pondering the cover for this book but there’s still time (and a lot of work to be done). Let’s first get book 20 out there!

Hilda. 22.

Yikes. But yes. I’m working on this one also since the witch won’t leave me alone. As I may have said before, Hilda 22 will bring a dramatic change. I went out on a limb trying this. I’m a few chapters into the story now and I have a trusted alpha-reader (someone who gets the chapters as they’re produced). She told me this is very, very beautiful.

So there you have it. I’m working on 3 Hilda books at the same time. Who’d have thought that when I wrote that first short story about a witch with a big mouth…

Surprised? Me? Hell yeah…

Is it bad to promote your own books?

Hi everyone,

RecommendA while ago I had an interesting e-mail exchange with someone who also writes books. This happens in writer circles, would you believe it? In one of the mails he wrote, “I’d like to recommend some of my books but since I’m the author…”

This raised the next  question with me:

Is it bad to recommend your own books?

Self-promotion and self-publishing.

I know, it’s bad to say self-publishing since it’s preferred to say Indie publishing. But that would make the first part “Indie-promotion” and that looks weird, doesn’t it?

So, back to self-promo for self/Indie publishers.

Promotion

After some thinking of the brainy kind I reached the conclusion that it’s not only a smart thing to do but even a necessary thing to do. It’s not done trying to flog your books to other writers, but there is a difference between “Hey, you, buy my book!” (which feels as if there is an “or else” coming up right after it) and talking about a specific, interesting kind of book and you’ve happened to have written some stuff in that realm.

And why is this a smart and necessary thing to do, you might ask.

Well… self and indie publishing kind of says it all, doesn’t it? You do it yourself. Independently. Which makes it easy in the following way:

If you don’t do it, who will?!

If you don’t open your trap about what you do, no one will do it, except your fans. Don’t just rely on your fans. Some are quiet so there’s not always much to hear from them. Self-promotion is part of marketing and marketing is something most writers aren’t good at. I mean, look at me: I don’t do nearly enough in that field so do as I say, not as I do, okay? (And let me know how you succeeded!)

Recommend. Really. Do it.

Tooting your own horn isn’t considered the nice thing to do but unless you have horn-tooting folk who can, want to and will handle that for you, it all comes down to you. Even if you have horn-tooters who stand up for you, it’s good to stand up and tell the world, “Hey, world. Listen up. Look at me and look at what I did.” It’s part of your branding. (Note to self: read this later. It looks damned helpful.) It’s not the book or books you are selling. You’re selling yourself.

So recommend your own work if and where you can. Do keep an eye on the circumstances. Don’t recommend your book on second degree algebra in a discussion about game consoles. This is highly recommended.

Recommend

 

Writing is time travelling.

Yes, dear reader, this is a truth. Writing is time travelling. I just got back from such a trip.

time tunnel logoWhat happened?

Why did you go? And why did you come back? Was it not fun in the future? Or in the past? Or in the wherever the hell you’ve been?

Let me start at the beginning.

In the beginning there was nothing.

Oh. Wait. That’s a bit far back. Sorry, sometimes even my memory slips a few billion years. Where were we…

I am writing one of my many stories – because that’s what I do when I write: I write many stories at the almost same time – when I decided I got stuck. A man comes into the kitchen, his wife gets a scare, relaxes when it’s ‘only’ him, and he asks what her problem is. (Do note that this is part of the story I was referring to, not some random bit of coconut that goes on a journey to Jamaica. That’s another story.)

Man and woman in kitchenOkay, so these two, like the ones on your right, are in the kitchen. She’s hiding something. How does she react to his question?

The answer: I had no idea at all.

But you are the writer! You have all the answers!

I do, of course, but only after a bit of time travelling. So I got into my time machine. It looks like a bicycle. Don’t let that fool you. It’s cunning. Clever. Well disguised. Dr Who phone boxAnd the phone box was already taken by Dr. Who, so that kind of limited my options. Anyway, onwards: I left man and woman in their kitchen and fast-forwarded to where the woman tells him what actually happened.

I’ve discovered that it’s nice to know that ahead of time so I can justify her odd, scared, shocked behaviour which rouses suspicion with the husband.

The bike ride time travelling proved to be a good idea. I was there, saw what happened while the husband wasn’t conscious (he was actually sleeping off his night shift, so he was there but didn’t know what happened).

And that is how and why I made my trip back to the future.

Hmm… Maybe a Delorean isn’t a bad idea. Looks spiffier than a bike, huh?

The get-together

Dear reader,

Imagine an alternate universe, reserved for characters in books. And in that universe there’s a bar where they can all come together. What would it be like? In this blog post I’ll try to give you a glimpse of such a first occasion…

Let me transport you to this alternate universe where you become a character in a book and the characters from  books are having a drink and a chat…

The place was rather empty. Behind the bar were Billow and Willow, who usually ran the tavern in Sunrise. “They’re late,” said Billow. His wife reminded him that some of the guests had to come from far away, and that the witch and her wizard had their own time table.

The door opened. “Ehm.” A reptilian-looking woman peeked inside. “Is this the backroom bar?”

“Reny, it has to be,” said Sabas who pushed the door open wide.

“Welcome,” Willow said as she came from behind the bar. “Find a seat. Can I get you anything to drink? I’m Willow. There’s Billow. You’re the first ones here so your round’s free.”

“Willow…” Billow didn’t like his wife’s generosity too much. It was bad for business.

Slowly the bar filled up. Eric Paul Carmichael and his wife Sandy came in, relieved that they were out of their spaceship for a while, followed by Clara in her red dress and Ron, the man who’d initially painted her. “It looks nice here,” said Clara. Ron complained about the smell, to Willow’s dismay. She assumed  it was the stew she was preparing but Clara told her not to worry. “If he doesn’t smell paint he’s not happy.”

Then a cat came in, followed by a young woman carrying a bunch of paper. “Frankie, get off that table! I’m so sorry about that,” the woman apologised.

“Don’t worry about that,” said Willow. “We’re used to cats.”

Slowly the bar filled up with people and creatures who found places to sit, things to drink and others to talk to. The main topic was of course all the situations that their mental father put them in.

Ron: “Can you imagine how odd it was to end up inside a painting?”

“What? That’s weird.” Sabas scratched his head. “I got the better end of it.” He reached for Reny’s hand and had to explain how he’d gotten the strange skin. By the time he was almost done, Hilda and William came in. Obsi and Grim were with them, who joined Frankie on the table. It was as if the three had arranged to meet there.

“Crappedy crap. Crowded in here. Where’s my coffee?”

Billow waved at the witch. “Coming right up and you’ll love this. The real deal.” The wicked witch watched him make a serious mug of coffee and asked William if they could have such a machine at  home.

The wizard said they could but… “We don’t have electricity to run it on so it would be just a waste of space.”

Hilda agreed. “The kitchen probably wouldn’t take well to it either. It’s too different from what we have.” She took the cup from Billow’s hand and smelled. “Hmmm. It’s different.” The witch frowned. “I think I’ve gotten used to what you make, wizard. Billow, better give me some tea. I have my personal coffee wizard with me.”

All characters mingled and chatted, exchanging ideas and problems they’d run into. Everyone had wonderful advice for the others, but the problem of course was that in the world of Sabas and Reny, magic didn’t exist, while for Ron and Clara the concept of huge Walkers and fights with Lergesh were impossible to grasp. Despite all their differences they got along fine, and the time to go home to their own homes and stories was there before they had scratched the surface of their accounts.

As Willow and Billow stood near the door, everyone said goodbye and promised they’d do their best to come back to the backroom bar another time.

An amazing bout of energy in the early morning

Yes, amazing bouts of energy…

Earlt morning sky

This was what I saw when I got up. I admit, it’s not the time for normal people to get up but then, I’ve never claimed to be one of those. I took this picture at 4:23 in the Ante Meridian, also know as silly o’clock.

There were two reasons to be up this early. One was an incredible amount of sirens around 4am. That hardly ever happens here so something big (bad…) must have happened. I still don’t know what the upheaval was.

The other reason was that I was awake, which is as good a reason as any to get up. I like getting up early. It gives me views as the picture above.

Wanted: adventurer

I’m still working on getting all the edits for that in place. Carol’s been working very hard to locate every typo and mistake I carefully hid in the text. She’s doing an extraordinary job at nit picking so I may have to find some better nits…

Wanted: hero “Wanted: adventurer” is, as you may have guessed, the sequel to “Wanted: hero“. At first I was very reluctant about writing this second book, but comments and gentle pressure from some sides made me give in. It’s better to start a new book with all your fingers attached to the proper hands to write it, trust me.

And so this book is becoming a reality. The cover is still underway but I hope to see that soon(ish). There’s still enough work to do on this book. This morning I sat myself down and worked out more three chapters with edits. That inevitably resulted in some changes, tweaks and other adjustments, but all for the greater glory of Sabas and Reny.

I have 8 more chapters to go through, then I’m putting the book aside again and read it from start to end, to see if there’s anything that still needs a wiggle.

And that’s about it for this tiny update.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Paul