Writing madness

Dear reader,

don't panic

I have not gone mad. At least I think I didn’t. Of course, trying to decide on that from inside a mad state would be rather mad, don’t you agree? I’ve not started writing about madness either, although the previous part might be proof to the contrary.

I’m talking about the madness that can come up from around writing. The madness I am now experiencing comes from the occasional bout of wonder if I will ever be able to do everything I’m working on now. (I’m not even looking at what’s in store in the future!)

As I am writing “Hilda 13″ and a new story which I’ll code-name LAD (it’s going to be a paranormal funny) I’m putting the last 15 chapters of the Sandy/Bristol story in the e-book file. Also I’m doing the last reread of the Dutch Sebastian/Hero story before I dare send it off to a publisher. After that (or perhaps during that) I plan on going over the English Sebastian/Hero version to keep my editor busy, who by then will have sent back the novel of Lily Marin to keep me busy. And when that’s all done – or maybe not – there’s the story about Clara’s Eyes that I wrote during last year’s Nanowrimo, which is waiting for a good look-over and partly rewrite.

All that may mean that I’m not writing as much as I could or should, but the stories that are written need that bit of spit-and-polish to make them suitable for all you people who will hopefully enjoy them.

I sometimes wonder…

Dear reader,

It goes without saying that you enjoy the books you read. Why else would you read them? Perhaps I should exclude text books here, those don’t necessarily contain entertaining material, and I speak (or rather: write) from experience.

Something that dawned on me a while ago however is: maybe a writer enjoys writing a book even more than a reader reading a book. Don’t get me wrong, writing can be a frustrating experience when these pesky characters decide to do things their way, but for a writer (like me) who doesn’t plan every moment in a story before writing it, there are so many surprises hidden in a story.

The writer often takes the lead for the characters in the book (that is how it feels to me anyway). The writer opens a door – or leaves it closed. Do the characters go left (and what lies hidden there?) or do they go right (where the same question applies)? Does the antagonist maintain his or her evil demeanour or does he/she suddenly show a human trait? (Or a trait that’s at least considered gentle among their species?)

A lot of time spent writing a book can vanish into this kind of musing. Exploring all the possibilities where a story could go, and then boldly rush in to see what’s hiding inside the nooks and crannies of a building, a cave or in the mind of a character. Of course, going about a story this way may mean that a lot of time is spent on the ‘what-ifs’ coming from a specific situation, but as a writer you get to explore all of those, dismiss many of them and find the one that (hopefully) will suit the story best.

It’s a bit like exploring alternate time-lines, deciding, like a little god, where the story moves to, and finally making everything come together (or fall apart) in the best way.

I’m busy with words.

Dear reader,

It’s a bit insane at the moment. I may have written a little too much lately! At the moment I am slowly doing final checks on a story which will be named “A girl named Sandy (and then things changed)”. It’s a science fiction involving aliens, spaceships and an astrophysicist. And no, his name is not Sandy. This is probably the next book that comes out when Hilda 12 is in the stores. The story starts like this:

“Doctor Carmichael, please tell me that this was an accident.”

Paul Eric Carmichael, the man who was supposed to answer the question, was still blinking his eyes after the blinding flash that had come from the monitor. “It was an accident, professor. I hope you are content with that.”

“I am certainly not. Are you in any way aware of the cost of the equipment that you just attempted to reduce to useless parts?” the first man asked. This was Professor Doctor Sams, leading the astrophysics department of the University of Bristol.

“Hardly attempted,” a third voice joined the conversation from behind a moderate mountain of displays and measuring equipment, on which most lights had gone out. “Sorry, professor, but it looks as if we actually managed it.”

I’m also working on correcting the Dutch version of the “Sebastian” stories, which includes altering many things in the English version as well. That story might get the title: “Wanted: hero. Experience optional“, but that’s not certain yet. Those two books are up for publication after “A girl named Sandy“. And after those I’ll get to work on the Nanowrimo story of last year, “Clara’s Eyes“. That requires a lot of rework. And in between all those projects I’ll continue writing Hilda 13 and try to finish the novel about Lily Marin.

 

An emotional drain

Dear reader,

In my previous post I went on and on about the privilege of a writer probably having more fun creating a book than the reader has with the finished product.

There is of course a ‘dark’ side to this. Dark is perhaps the wrong word for it, but there are moments in creating a story that can take a bigger toll on a writer than other moments. As usual, this isn’t applicable to every writer but I have heard from many others that they go through the same (e)motions. And that is what I am referring to. Emotions.

It’s probably different from one person to the other, but for me, writing an emotional scene is very draining. Not because it’s boring to write, far from that: emotional scenes are the most fascinating ones to do. The moment that you tap into the core, the heart and soul of a character is when the character really comes alive. It’s also the moment where the reader gets to know who is inside that person on the pages. For the writer however this can become hard work. Often it’s not just one character who becomes emotional, but two, three, or even more. As the person who created all these characters, the writer is responsible for the sum of their emotions but also for each character’s personal experience of them. It’s one thing to write that someone cries, but when you want to make it clear what causes that crying, when you go inside that person and ‘live through the pain’… that is where the emotional drain appears. When something like that comes into the story, I /am/ that character. I feel her or his pains and sorrows, yet I have to keep a distance to write it all down. And then the pain can continue in another character, who experiences it in another way – and then the living through it starts again. A fellow writer told me about that: “If you leave something of yourself on a page, you wrote it well.” In that light I can proudly say that I leave plenty of myself on such pages.

Another odd emotional drain can happen when finishing a story, especially one that took a long time to write, where lots of emotion has gone into. Imagine living intimately with a few people, being inside their heads for a year or more, having all kinds of adventures with them. They tend to become a part of you that way. And then there are these two simple words “The End”. They don’t just mean that the story’s over to me. They mean an end to that time of intimately living together with a bunch of people, characters that didn’t exist before you invented them, but who’ve become a part of you through their trials and tribulations that you put them through. It’s odd that you don’t just see them suffer – you suffer with them. There’s a strong bond with them. And then they’re gone, usually living happily ever after. And the writer is left with “The End.” It can hurt. But it’s a good hurt, a sign that you did something right. When there’s no feeling in a story, it’s not a good story I would almost say. It’s strange, it’s pain, but I say: let it come. It’s a pain that shows that my heart went into it.

Bristol…

Dear reader,

I agree that “Bristol” is a very strange title for a blog post. Still it has significance for me. It’s a reference to a story that I dreamed of when I was in Bristol in 2012. One night I had a dream about a story, dismissed that as not important, and two days later I was writing like crazy to get the story’s mainline down. It took a while, but today my editor returned the last set of chapters to me and her response to the entire story was:

I loved it, was really good and a good few twists and turns that kept it interesting and I did wonder where it was going at times.

Getting such feedback from an editor is a good sign, I hope the story will be as good for everyone who reads it. I’m now going on with looking over her edit-remarks, change a bunch of things she pointed out (consistency sometimes runs off to play outside) and I’m going to see if I can decide on a proper title for the story. Just “Bristol” isn’t exactly something that appeals as the title for a science fiction story, I think.

Do let me know if you think differently. And with this post I’m leaving you to enjoy the last bits of 2013 (unless you already moved on, in which case I wish you happy 2014)!

What’s brewing

Dear reader,

I think it’s time for a small update of what is going on in my writer’s software at the moment. As usual it’s far too much, but there is progress on the horizon.

In order of randomness:

  • Book 12 of Hilda the Wicked Witch, “Hilda Extreme” is halfway through editing and the cover is done. I still hope that this book can come out in January 2014 but due to circumstances beyond my control this is not yet certain.
  • After Hilda 12, all attention for editing goes to a Science Fiction story about an astrophysicist at the University of Bristol who makes a shocking discovery that will change his life.  The title for this book will probably be “A girl named Sandy (and then everything changed)”. And no, the astrophysicist is not called Sandy.
  • The mad dash called Nanowrimo has resulted in what I think is a rather special story. It became an urban fantasy called “Clara’s Eyes”. It needs to be reworked of course, but I’m giving that some time.
  • I have finished the first draft of a Science Fiction story that for now has the title “Sebastian”. Or “Help”. Or “Book friend”. As you see, that’s not entirely clear yet. This is a story I wrote simultaneously in English and Dutch. This is my first attempt to write a book in Dutch and it may even be published through an official Dutch publisher. So far the lady who checks and proofs the separate Dutch chapters is quite enthusiastic about the story (as a comment “Exciting!” shows), but these stories need a lot of aftercare as well.
  • Even though Hilda’s 12th adventure isn’t published yet, there is a new Hilda in the works. Hilda 13. No title yet, but fans and supporters of Hilda’s talking house will enjoy this one very much. More from Baba Yaga’s past will be revealed in this book, and there’s a visit from someone special which of course will mean a handful of work for our magical couple.
  • The novel around Lily Marin, my steampunk heroine, is progressing well. Everyone who has read and enjoyed her short stories will look forward to this book and I am pleased with how it is developing. Dr. Calgori, Master Wilfred and Billy will all be present again, and adventures and surprises are guaranteed.
  • And then there is secret project X, a fantasy story about people on a planet where you travel by giant spiders, fly on wasps, and where butterflies are very vicious creatures indeed!

Oh. Did I say ‘small update‘? I hope you enjoy this update and live in anticipation of publications!

Book Blast – The Coming Storm

The Coming Storm, By Valerie Douglas

Spanning an epic series of books, ‘The Coming Storm’ by Valerie Douglas takes you to the heart of a conflict between magic users, and those without magic, good and evil, love and loss.
Join Ailith and Elon as they have to choose between love, duty, and everything they’ve battled for.

about-the-book-valerie

Elon of Aerilann, Elven advisor to the High King of Men, helped negotiate the treaty between Elves, Dwarves and men. He suddenly finds that fragile truce threatened from without by an unknown enemy and from within by old hatreds and prejudice. With the aid of his true-friend Colath, the wizard Jareth and the Elven archer Jalila, he goes in search of the source of the threat.

Ailith, the Heir to Riverford, fights her own silent battle. Her father has changed, but her quest to discover what changed him puts her life and very soul in danger and leaves her only one direction in which to turn. Elon.
To preserve the alliance, though, Elon will have to choose between his honor, his duty and everything for which he fought.

Amazon | Goodreads

series-buy-linksA Convocation of Kings (The Coming Storm, #2)

(The Coming Storm, #3) (novella will be 99¢ during the blast)

(The Coming Storm, #4)(novella will be 99¢ during the blast)

review quotes

Read more reviews on Amazon

meet-valerie-butt

valerie-douglas-001Valerie Douglas is a prolific writer and a genre-crosser, much to the delight of her fans. A fan of authors of almost every genre from Isaac Asimov to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, she writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and as V.J. Devereaux, erotic romance. Who knows what will pop up down the road!

Happily married, she’s companion to two dogs, four cats and an African clawed frog named Hopper who delights in tormenting the cats from his tank.

You can find more information at Valerie Douglas Books, or at Alexandria Publishing Group.

Facebook ~ Blog ~ Twitter

And to celebrate her book blast, Valerie’s lowered the price of The Coming Storm on a Countdown Deal. Head on over to the page and see what it’s set and and grab your copy at the lowest price you can! Her novellas Not Magic Enough & Setting Boundaries have also been priced at $0.99 for the duration of this project.

And in January….

join-the-tour

In January, Valerie is visiting blogs, talking books and sharing her experience. As author of more than 20 books, she’s got a lot to say about indie publishing and would love to visit with you.

If you’d like to join in you can sign up here or fill the form out below

 

Indie promo – Terrill L. Davis

Dear reader,

One of the last Mondays of the year is here, so is one of the last Indie Promotion‘s of the year. But we’ll go on, there are lots of indie writers! This week I can introduce you to:

Mile Marker

milemarker
by Terrill L. Davis

Ebook Short Description: A Texas serial killer has a ritual of burying his victims in the woods near the highway mile markers. On his next night out to bury his prize, he didn’t account for a state trooper to be on his trail. On his next night out, he has a bad night.

Where to find.
You can find the e-book on Amazon.com.

A bit of information about a witch

Dear Reader,

More and more questions reach me about this:

Book 12 of Hilda the Wicked Witch. And you may have guessed it already, it’s called “Hilda Extreme”. I cannot give you an exact release date yet, but at the moment I aim for January 2015.

Oh, I mean January 2014. Sorry.

And the big, fat 12 is only there because I haven’t made the cover yet. I hope that satisfies your curiosity a little.

The joys of writing.

Dear Reader,

Have you ever wondered why writers write? Wouldn’t they rather sit back with a good book and enjoy that?

Well, most writers I know love that too. Many writers however have this collection of stories in their head that scream to get out, just like a painter has an urge to pick up the brushes and create a work of art, or a musician who can’t sleep until the bits of a tune in his or her head have been quieted down on a sheet of music paper.

Of course I only speak for myself when I say that writing helps me relax and think a lot. Events from real life, things of the world, but also silly ideas pop up, and most of them will somehow find their way into a story. Most of them will be disguised that they are beyond recognition for someone who reads the story, but that is part of the fun and joy for me; to stick something that is a problem or an issue for me into a story, without burdening the reader with it. It’s truly like a release of emotions, this story-writing.

And then there is the knowledge that somewhere in this world there are people who simply feel better after reading something I wrote. And in that, I know, I’m not the only one. What more reward can a person have than to do something (s)he likes very much, and in the same effort brighten the day of other people?

Sometimes people ask me where I get the inspiration and the ideas from. Well, for me they are in everything I hear, see and read. And that can be a problem, because that makes that there is a lot to write. Although… problem… as long as I love it, it can’t be a problem. I just need the motivation and the strength to keep doing it, and that is inherent to writing for me, at this moment. In the words of the far too early deceased Sylvia Plath:

Silvia Plath

 

“Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”