Why do we read?

Dear reader,

I sometimes wonder about things. Today I wonder about the question you saw in the title. Why do we read? In school we read to learn things. Those are however not the books we’d usually choose, given the choice.

For me reading is a way to escape reality and learn about new ones. To venture into worlds that I can’t reach in this world. I also read to learn things that interest me (opposed to what teachers wanted me to read). Reading is a kind of wealth that has a value beyond money. There is a richness in reading. I once read a book called Dune by Frank Herbert. In it there is a race of navigators that use a substance called the spice to expand their mind so they can fold space. Books for me are that spice, the substance that allows me to expand my mind, to travel to places in the universe (through astronomy books and science fiction), to the past (through the books of e.g. Jane Austen and Emily Brontë) and into worlds we cannot see (e.g. paranormal and spirit stories).

If you have a moment then please answer me this question: why do you read?

Stories are like old wine

Dear reader,

Wine cellarIn the Netherlands there’s a saying “Old wine in new bags“. I discovered that the English equivalent would be “Same meat, different gravy“.

Why do I bring this up? At one moment it struck me that story telling (or writing) is in fact the same thing. There are a number of concepts and ideas that we can write about. The more popular ones are the ones most used and those are the old wine, the same meat.

This is what presents the biggest challenge for a writing person. How do you pick that concept or idea apart and present it in a new, inviting way? Inventing a new environment, creating a new ‘world’ with new people is one of the ways to do this, but what if we’re talking about a series of books, like the Hilda the Wicked Witch books? There always is the common factor of Hilda and William appearing. Sometimes Baba Yaga appears, and lately it’s also Hilda’s sister who chimes in here and there, but the world they inhabited remains the same. It’s Fairyland with it’s fairy tales. I think it’s fascinating to delve deeper into things. That is why I don’t limit myself to the stories of Hans Christian Anderson, the brothers Grimm or the other more or less famous fairy tale writers. Every culture has its stories, legends, myths and fairy tales. Going into them and finding out about them, showing you, the reader, how they make their old wine and how that’s treated, that’s one of the big delights I find in providing a new bag, a different kind of gravy.


A sequel to ‘A Girl Named Sandy’

A sequel to ‘A Girl Named Sandy’

Dear reader,

Yes, it’s official. I have started to write a sequel to ‘A Girl Named Sandy‘. I have received so many wonderful words and comments on this book that I can’t leave it at just one volume. Maybe this one will take 3 years as well; I don’t know. I hope not, but I’ll keep you informed on the progress once in a while.

I heard that someone had to wipe away a tear when she read the wedding scene in the first book because it was so beautifully written. That’s something each writer loves to hear. That is what we aim for with our stories; to touch hearts.

Nanowrimo and a few questions.

Nanowrimo and a few questions.

Dear reader,

If you’ve visited my site / blog more than a few times you’ll be aware of this mad phenomenon called Nanowrimo. National Novel Writer’s Month. The crazy scheme to write a novel in one month, being November.

Today, as I was walking down some stairs and up some others, I suddenly realised that I don’t really have a theme for November yet. I have several plans for books to write, but nothing solid to prepare for when November hits. That is why this post came to be. Well, consider yourself lucky, for I’m going to put the burden of this November on your shoulders, dear reader.

No, that doesn’t mean that you will write a 50,000 (or more) word book in a month, but I do hope that you will help me in deciding which book I should start in November.

For now the options are:

  1. A sequel to “A Girl Named Sandy”.
  2. A sequel to “Lily Marin – the Novel”.
  3. A sequel to “The Story of the Mimosa”.
  4. A book about Hilda’s youth.

If you have a preference, please let me know your choice! Either through a comment to this post, an e-mail, or a message via Facebook, Twitter or Google+. I’d appreciate it.

Snow White Revisited revisited.


Dear reader,

If you have read this book before, you may encounter a few slight differences in the current version. The text has been cleaned up, the spells have been checked (thank you, Hilda and Barbara), and also… the seven dwarfs have new names! I discovered that Snow White’s name is free to use for everyone as that’s part of the original story from 1892. No more copyright rests on that. The names of the dwarfs however are copyrighted by Disney, and to prevent any legal difficulties I had to resort to this step.


What happened to our comma?

Dear reader and especially writer,

greencommaI am worried. Worried about our little, curly friend, the comma. It seems to have done something terribly wrong with adjectives. They used to be such good friends, and lately I see more and more people forget about our comma when they describe huge, beautiful, interesting things, and even when tiny, insignificant items are detailed.

Instead, more and more people seem content to write about  huge beautiful interesting things and  tiny insignificant items. Is the decline of the comma upon us? When it comes to adjectives, there are a few very simple rule of thumb (oops, I almost wrote rule of comma) to hold against your writing.

1. If the word ‘and‘ can be placed between adjectives, then use a comma.

This is where one has the huge, beautiful, interesting things, or the tiny, insignificant items, because they’re tiny and insignificant items, compared to the  huge and beautiful and interesting things. Failing to apply our tiny curly friend here makes for  huge beautiful interesting things, where huge says something about beautiful and beautiful says something about the interesting, and only interesting says something about the things (whatever those might be).

2. Use a comma when an -ly adjective is used with other adjectives.

Before you call in the cavalry, let me assure you that there is a way to test how this would work. Let’s consider Marky. Marky is lonely, and he is also young. And he’s a boy. Does that make Marky a lonely young boy, or a lonely, young boy? He is a lonely and young boy. That’s that, lonely is used as an adjective.

Compare Marky to Joyce, who is an overly active girl. Is Joyce an overly and active girl? Hmm, doubtful, unless you can show me other overly girls who are active. That’s it then, overly is not used as an adjective to the noun girl, instead it says something about active.

Please, everyone, don’t let the comma become a stranger.

A real book. Is it what you hold in your hands?

Dear reader,

Many a question’s being asked about what is a book. A real book. I think that’s a valid question, and also something that only can be answered from the right point of view. Books

A book always used to be something made of paper, with a cover around it, and words inside that smell of ink.






The digital revolution bestowed the e-book upon us, with a cover around it that looks like a little machine (e.g. e-reader, tablet or even a smartphone), and the smell of ink is absent for now (but wait for it, technology will catch up on that!).

So what is a book? Is it the medium that carries the story, the paper, the ink, the weight that comes with it? Or is it the story that’s conveyed, regardless of the medium it’s read from? Do you read a book or do you read a story? I think it’s fair to say that both options are true and real, and books are books, be they paper or e. As for the weight that comes with a book… e-readers have weight too and that can be a blessing for people who have problems holding up the big paper tomes.

There will always be paper books. There will always be e-books. And that’s the grand thing. Stories appear on both media, so you can take your pick. There is no absolute in what’s the best. The absolute could be your personal preference, and that’s not even a fixed point because there are people who appreciate a heavy, smelly book when they’re at home, but who take their e-reading device along when they travel (for instance when they don’t want to risk damaging the paper version).

The choice is yours.

The plotting pantser, or how a non-planner writes down plans

Dear reader,

Sometimes the impossible becomes possible. I just reached a point in a story where I really didn’t know which side I had to turn. There were too many involved groups of people handing me too many possible outcomes. This doesn’t happen often, so I was thrown out of my own loop. This, I can tell you, is something very serious.

I tried to reason my way out of things with a few characters, but they all were too busily engaged in the story to pay me any mind (being ignored by your own inventions is also bad), so I had to resort to something dramatic.

Example of a Plan. Not mine, I promise!

I had to write down a plan! Horror, shock, this is entirely out of my realm and league! Still I sat down and wrote the plan. First I inventoried everyone I had in the story, and where they were, and what they wanted. I ended up with 9 factions. Sheesh, where did they all come from?? I started doing a bit of Sherlock Holmesing and managed to eliminate 3 of them, so the picture became a bit clearer. Then I set off to write down the wants and hopes of each group. I had no idea that this was so interesting to do! As I was working on that I slowly found out which group of people in the story had the same idea of the end as I did. That put my nose in the right wind. I now knew which group I had to root for!

After that success I treated myself to a fresh cup of tea, and the cats to a snack, and now we’re all happy. At least I think the cats are happy too; they’re staring at me while they sit near the cupboard that hides the snacks…

Y. Yes. #AtoZChallenge

azbloggingY. Yes

Dear reader,

Yes! That is all I can say to this strange road that lies behind me. Behind me? Yes! Behind me. Almost four years of actual book-publishing lie behind me, and yes, it was an incredible journey. Even more yes, because I’m ready for more of this.

There will be more adventures of Hilda the Wicked Witch and if possible there will also be a sequel to the first Lily Marin novel. More science fiction and fantasy. I can only say yes to all that, and all this came to pass because of a writing contest I did with a few friends, someone who kept nagging me to publish that first little Hilda book, and because of all of you, dear readers. My heartfelt thanks for each and every one of you who have bought and downloaded my books, and who have sent me such encouraging words, such lovely and touching e-mails and so on. Also a big thank you to everyone at the Alexandria Publishing Group for their support, camaraderie and advice.

It’s taken many years before I reached the point where I could truly understand and embrace my love for writing. I’ve always loved books and reading, but writing added an amazing dimension to the world of words and I’ll be eternally grateful for getting there. Maybe there’s something of a lesson for each of us in this, dear reader. No matter how long something takes, if it’s meant to be, if there is love for something in your heart, it will find a way.

So what is more appropriate than to end this post with Yes, and their hit single Love will find a way:

X. X-factor #AtoZChallenge

azbloggingX. X-factor

Dear reader,

What is the X-factor in writing? It’s probably something different for each writer. Just as there is a different book in the hands of each reader, I am sure.

For me it is the surprise that is around every corner of the story. What will the next paragraph bring? Where will the characters end up this time? Of course not everything is hidden in fog. I know a few places, stations, where the train with characters will have to pass through and also the end station is set, but all the happenings in between those… This is what makes the journey of writing a story such a pleasure for me. It’s as much fun as reading a book – I don’t know every single, tiny step of the way yet; it is as much an exploration for me as it is for you when you open the book and start reading.

Some writers plot and plan their book from A to Z, like this blogging challenge, they know what is going to happen everywhere even before they start writing. That’s not how my stories come to life. That is my X-factor.