Do you remember Sandy?

Dear reader,

A Girl Named SandyLong time ago, in March 2014, I published a book called “A girl named Sandy“. Until this day I still consider this one of my best books.

The story has an open ending. Somehow that just happened. Of course this begs for a sequel. A few people mentioned that to me also, which is understandable. Who doesn’t want to know what happens to Sandy and Paul after everything they went though?

At some point in 2015 I started writing a sequel. The start of that looked promising but the further the story progressed, the more I lost interest. It wasn’t what I was looking for. After a few more attempts to revive the story I thought, “Bugger this. This isn’t going to work.” And so I left the not even half complete manuscript lying around on a hard disk where it refused to collect dust. (This is because hard disks are made to be dust free.)

 

Now, fast forward from 2015 to the start of this week.

On the way to work (yes, your favourite author still has a daytime job to manage the bills and such) I sat thinking about a world that’s not just Science Fiction and not just Fantasy but an intriguing mix of the two.

Can you see it in your mind already? You can?? Let me see! Oh, right. That’s interesting enough but… 😉

Grimalkin, a.k.a. Grim

Anyways, that idea popped back into my head when I was out doing some grocery shopping today (don’t ask me how my mind works, I don’t know either but it gets me through the days) and then I remember the dustless manuscript of the Sandy sequel. And a star was born! Or at least an idea. I shall retire the entire failed manuscript and start from scratch. (Hmm, suddenly one of my cats comes along for a scratch. Is she reading along here?)

So, to everyone who’s looking forward to a sequel to Sandy, there might actually be one someday. Don’t expect it to be out soon, though, Carol and I are still working on the sequel to “Wanted: hero” and there are some other things on the stove. (Why do I think of Hilda’s kitchen now?) But it’s definitely maybe going to happen!

Here’s how the writing’s going.

Dear reader,

I hope you will appreciate this little update on the progress of my writing projects. First:

Hilda’s 19th adventure.

Yes, it’s really coming. Final edits are just about done now and the creation of the actual books (e-book and paperback) is underway. This, I think, is also a good moment to sneak you a peek of the cover so you have an idea of the title of this book.

Okay. Here we go.

No more delay.

Tada!

Yes, the title of the new book is “Witches’ myths”. It is about the myths of witches, which is an entirely different ballgame from the myths that ordinaries deal with. You’ll read all about it as soon as possible! I might add that the moment of as soon as possible has a final date too. On February 1st of this year the e-books will be available at all the usual e-book holes! (The paperback will come when it’s ready, I am waiting for the proof print.)

The magic of the bull

This is progressing well. It is the translation of a Dutch fantasy story I wrote. I’m very proud of it. The story tells things of Medieval times and the Roman era, so if you want to brush up your knowledge on that, this is the book for you.

Wanted: hero

Wanted: heroDo you remember this book? Yes? Good.

I’ve written a sequel to it which I’m currently checking for the worst errors before Carol will go over it with her fine comb to take away the stupid things I left in there.

I’ll tell you that the title of the sequel will be “Wanted: adventurer”. Some ingredients of the story are Sabas and Reny (which should not be very surprising) and there will be more Artors.

It’s been hard work getting this story done in the way it should be done but finally the end is coming nearer. I hope to publish this book this year. No promises though.

Lily Marin – the second novel

Yes, there is going to be another steampunk novel around Lily and Billy.

As it was with the first book, this one is putting up a tremendous fight so it will take a lot of time to write and tame it. But it will be done!

And that wraps up the updates for me.

I hope you all are doing well in this new year and I look forward to telling you when Hilda’s Myths are available!

Paul

Happy New Year!

Dear reader,

Some may consider this a bit odd as New Year is behind us already. I don’t care. As long as it’s happy I’m all in favour of wishing you every good thing.

First of all of course I hope everyone entered this new year, 2017, with good health. If you’re suffering from anything, may this year bring you healing and comfort.

Next of all I am pleased to say that the work on Hilda 19 is going well. I’m slowly working my way backwards through the text (I agree, a strange way to read it but it’s worth the while for me) so it should be ready for publication “soon”. In this case that will take another month, maybe two, but with too many things in the non-book-world there is only so much time I can spend on writing and other fun stuff.

Even nexter (yes, I make those words up as I go along and need them), the work on the sequel to “Wanted: hero” is coming along well also. I’m over half the chapters in the first rework so readers in need of a good, new science fiction and a renewed meeting with Sabas and Reny are in for something special. I could of course tell a lot about it but I won’t. I’m evil like that. I learnt that from the best, and her name is Hilda.

That’s all for now as there isn’t much more worthwhile to tell.

All the best…

Paul

The magic of doing nothing

Yes, dear reader.

Sometimes (apparently) doing nothing can do a lot of things. As usual I’m working on a lot of stories at once (which has the added disadvantage that some books take very long, I’m sorry). For a few stories I was trying to figure out how to make them proceed.

The privilege of a writer is that you can put your characters in peril. The disadvantage of that is that sometimes the characters aren’t up to the task of getting out so you have to help them. A few of my characters had dug themselves in so deep that it was hard even for me to come up with a solution. The answer to this had a strange shape:

Grimalkin, one of my two cats.

She enjoys sitting on top of my while I sit on the couch. As I wasn’t getting anywhere with the stories I sat on the couch and she lay in my lap, purring away as if it was crucial to survival.

As we sat there, my mind started drifting along with the stories in my mind. I saw the spot where the problem occurred, a few other points in time where the stories had to go and just kept looking at those things, those occasions.

Suddenly something became clear. There was water in the spot where my characters got stuck and there will be water in a place where other characters have to do something. Water was therefore the connecting element. I kept thinking, following the course of events as they might happen. And suddenly I saw it. I had the solution to at least one of the tight spots I had moved a few people in.

My advice for if you have a problem: get your cat and grab a good purr.

From all of us (Obsidian, Grimalkin and me) to all of you:

Plotting and planning and Hilda

Yes, dear reader,

I’m still here. And let me explain about the title of this post.

Plotting

plottingI’ve taken up this ‘plotting’ thing many writers are dedicated to. It means you sit down and first work out how a story will go before you get it going. I’ve found there are advantages to it. It takes the surprises and blind spots out of many parts of a story. That may sound brilliant but having the surprises taken out of a story isn’t so good. I like my surprises. They’re part of the fun, the shock and the journey I take together with the victims I write about. Of course I didn’t mean that; they’re my valued characters who unfortunately end up in places and situations of ‘interest’.

Planning

BoringNow this is something I might need to look into. I’m always working on a bunch of stories. At the moment I think it’s 5 or 6. Planning might actually help to get some insight on where I am and what I should do.

Planning however is boring and takes time. Time I can use better, like for writing. Or perhaps plotting, which also eats up quite some time. I have yet to find a convincing argument for planning, so let’s leave it at that and move on to the most interesting part of this post.

Hilda

Hilda The Wicked WitchThe Hilda stories are those that will never be planned or plotted.  N-E-V-E-R, do you hear me?

Hilda’s adventures are, in a way, my own adventures. The best kind, where magic, life and fairy tales come together. Is there a better combination?

I love this witch and her circle of family, friends, acquaintances and other people who hang around for some reason or other. I’m proud of her. I have a large canvas picture of her hanging from my wall.

There has to be a benefit to plotting and planning because so many people do it. Some stories however aren’t meant to be plotted. They are travels to uncharted lands, over trails so far undiscovered.

In a few days I’ll find out if the plotting business will work for me. Then Nanowrimo starts, and I’ve done a lot of figuring out for that. Plotting. And planning, if you will, although that’s just minimal.

We’ll see how it works. Or not.

 

Book reviews.

Dear reader,

it seems I’m not doing much more lately than post book reviews. Rest assured, there is work being done in the background. For now that is Hilda 19, Hilda 20, the second Lily Marin novel, the translation into English of my Dutch time-travel fantasy, and the translation into Dutch of my children’s book ‘The young witch‘. Next to that I have a few side projects on the stove and I’m preparing for this year’s Nanowrimo.

Since I was on vacation for a while I did manage to read a few more books, and they were, in no particular order:

Caliban’s war, by James A. Corey.
Science fiction.

A fabulous sequel to ‘Leviathan Awakes’, Caliban’s War dumps us more adventures with captain Jim Holden and his crew of the Rocinante. Things in the atmosphere of Venus aren’t quieting down, strange monsters pop up in the further regions of the solar system, and the hunt for a disappeared girl makes everything come together. I can hardly wait to read part three of this stunningly well written series.

Mortal Engines: Predator’s Gold, by Philip Reeve
Steampunk.

We meet up again with Tom Natsworthy and his girlfriend Hester Shaw as they fly their airship, the *Jenny Hanniver*, into new adventures. There are more moving cities, lots ice and plenty of surprises once they join the people on the city of Anchorage. Oh, there is also Professor Pennyroyal, one of the explorers Tomadmired in his days as an apprentice historian back in London.

This book had me say ‘No! No!’ a few times out loud… things looked to go very bad… but the end of the book made it worth that! This series is a must for steampunk lovers. I’m ready for book three now!

Nexus, by Ramez Naam
Science fistion.

An intriguing and thought provoking book that plays in the near future (around 2040). Nexus is a drug that enhances human brains in amazing ways. Is something like that safe to go out into the world? Who will use it for the good, and who will abuse it for the bad?

Sometimes I don’t write.

Yes, that’s right, dear reader.

There are times I don’t write. This doesn’t mean writing isn’t on my mind though. Last Sunday afternoon I discovered a problem in a story. Something crucial was missing and I had no idea what the crucial part was. Staring at the screen did nothing crucial for me or the story so I decided to do something drastic. I went outside for a walk.

treesThis is not a hazardous thing because I live in a nice area. These trees for instance are between the front door and the spot where I usually park my car.

I picked a good moment of the summer Sunday too because it wasn’t raining at that moment, and even many clouds had better places to go so I found myself facing sunshine. Very uncommon in these areas lately although I am not complaining.

After about 15 minutes I was wandering through my favourite forest (because it’s so close to home that I can walk there easily) and at a certain point I had the choice to go left (where I had never gone) or right (where I usually go). I went left.

To my surprise I came upon a small lake. I had never seen that before! Amazing how lakes suddenly appear when you turn left. The soil around the lake had suffered from the rainfall. The sound of my shoes was interesting, to say the least. The water that seeped into my shoes was less interesting but colder, probably to make up for the difference.

BerenklauwOn the way back home I came across this fellow.

It’s a Heracleum sphondylium, commonly known as hogweed or cow parsnip, and a big one. It was as tall as I am!

I left it there as it looked happy where it was.

Incidentally in Dutch this plant is called a Bear claw.

The last special thing I encountered was this colourful bench in a park. Whoever the artist (or artists) was or were did a great job on creating something joyful! 

bench

What’s going on?

Vacation

Dear reader,

It’s been silent again for some time. First of all I was on a two week vacation to Great Britain, something I thoroughly enjoyed.

england

I’ve spent a nice time in Dorset, which is located in the south of England. From there I drove up to Bristol where I met a good friend. She is actually the lady who gave our beloved wicked witch her face! We went to Cardiff to visit the Dr Who experience, which was an amazing experience indeed. I’m quite the Dr Who fan so that was a treat.

dr who experience

After Bristol I went up even more north to North Wales where I enjoyed a stay with the editor of my English books. I don’t meet my British friends nearly enough so this was absolutely delightful.

Book things

Furthermore I have been busy promoting my latest Dutch book which is received very well. So well in fact that many English speaking people have asked me when the ‘international’ version is ready. I have to admit that I had no plans to rewrite that book in English, but with so many enquiries I have decided to review those intentions. The work on rewriting the book in English has started, the first 2 chapters are already done. Only 31 more to go!

Book 18 of Hilda the Wicked Witch is approaching its final stages, text-wise. Carol is almost done with the edits. The big hurdle I am still facing is the cover image, but that will be done. I hope you can still hang on to whatever you’re hanging on to: book 18 is coming.

A little update on… Hilda, book 18.

Dear reader.

Hilda the wicked witchIt may not come as a shock that there will actually be an 18th story about Hilda and William. A story full of surprises, I might add, but which ones will still be covered under a purple wizard’s cloak.

Private matters in the life of my editor have delayed progress on the appearance of this book.

We are however working on making this book a reality so don’t despair just yet. I’ll give you proper warning ample time in advance if your worrying is required.

If there was one question you could ask about this new book, which question would it be? Please don’t ask ‘when will it be available’; I’ll give you the answer on that right now: as soon as it’s done. I know that’s a bit of a dead give-away but some things in the life of a person can’t be rushed.

To ease your curiosity a little however I’ll drop a tiny hint on what you will encounter in the new book. What… I should rather say ‘who’.

Pirates
Note: this is a hint. Arrr.

Incidentally the hat you see in this picture also is referred to in the story. This however is quite coincidental as I had no idea I would locate this image while I was writing about the hat and the person beneath it.

If this hint was not clear enough then I will also drop the words “September 19th” here. (That date falls on a Monday this year.) Employ your search engine skills and you might discover more than you bargained for!

 

Alot. Yes, that.

Dear reader,

Have you heard of alot? If not then I hope you have amoment to read this post. Alot is creeping into the words of the world more and more. More than ayear ago this already happened. When I first encountered it I thought; “Alot is not aword.” But the world proved me wrong. Alot is here and it looks as if it’s here to stay.

And as we’re on the subject of alot, maybe we can have aword about more improvements and speed-ups to the English language. Why don’t we remove the space between ‘the’ and nouns as well? Then we can talk about thebook and thewriting process (or even thewritingprocess) which should make the many supporters of alot alot happier.

Long words

Don’t worry about getting long words like theinstrumentarium or therailwaystationmanagersoffice. You’ll get used to that soon enough, and your language could do with a few longer words. Dutch and German have a great history on that, although I have to admit that thehabit of that is falling apart as well. Some people can actually confuse me by breaking up theword on thesigns they put up. Then I don’t know what they mean and that is very annoying.

For example afew days ago I saw asign that announced “free range eggs”. In Dutch this would be one word. Or two. Depending on the meaning. The way it was splattered on thesign however gave me the options of ‘range eggs’ that were free or eggs coming from ‘afree range’.

vrije uitloop eierenAnd here is theproof (in Dutch) that even shops are scared of creating proper words these days. This is exactly how I saw it on thesign. Theway to write this correctly would be ‘vrije-uitloopeieren’. I am sure there will even be Dutch people who will stare at this in surprise and disbelief, but TheDutchWikipedia agrees with me.

So don’t worry, dear Englishspeakingpeople, there is no problem with thelongwords (I’m really getting thehang of this!)

So now go out and assemble alot of thewords that can go alongway. I hope I handed you athing or two to ponder, and whenever you see alot written down that you will remember thispost (why not?) where I explained thebenefits of alot alittle!