Tag Archives: writing

My first book. Christine Ardigo.

Dear reader,

Christine is one of the precious romance writers who live at the Alexandria Publishing Group. I asked how what drove her to writing her first book, and the answer was quite a surprise! Her first romance novel is called “Cheating to Survive“. It’s not your typical contemporary romance novel. There are no billionaires, no heaving bosoms and also no women wanting to end it all because their husbands dumped them for their twenty-year-old secretary.

cheatingtosurviveCheating to Survive puts the women in power:

What happens when three co-workers decide to cheat on their husbands? Will they find happiness, or will they be destroyed by the consequences?

Christine said:

I came up with the idea one summer, after driving my two daughters to camp every morning. The 30-minute commute at 7:30am, with two exhausted, cranky girls in tow left us with a lot of radio listening. Unfortunately, my then fourteen and nine year old took an interest in shows like “To Catch a Cheater” or “War of the Roses,” where listeners called in to catch their significant other in the act of cheating.

As much as I hated listening to it, I took it as an opportunity to teach them both a lesson in love and relationships. What I noticed about the majority of these calls, was that most of the callers were women. Pathetic women who’s boyfriends/husbands were not only cheating on them, but the men were arrogant about it. Some laughing when they got caught.

What was worse, once they caught the men red-handed, some of them went as low as to insult the women, tell them it was their fault, said “too bad deal with it” and a host of other derogatory statements. The worst part, after the women were humiliated on public radio, some of them begged their men to take them back or cried because they still loved them! And the men laughed harder.

I discussed each show with my daughters daily, but the images stuck with me. Hence, the creation of Cheating to Survive. Let’s turn the tables. Let’s have the women cheat on the men this time. Let them enjoy it. Fully. Let them skip down the halls, dance in the middle of the cafeteria, laugh behind their husbands’ backs.

But of course, in life, nothing is that seamless.

Meet Victoria…Heather…and Catherine, three dietitians working in the same hospital for a horrendous boss, and married to husbands anyone would want to strangle, dump in the trash, and watch the garbage truck pulverize along with the maggots.

Will the three of them be triumphant with their scheming, or are they headed down a wrong way path?

The outcomes could be worse than they imagined.

Well, there you have it. Are you curious about the book already? If so, you can head over to Amazon.com and have a closer look at the book. Who knows, you might love it.

Now here’s a challenge

Dear reader,

Do you know Ksenia Anske? Say yes. Well done, dear reader. Of course you know the person who wrote such amazing stories like Rosehead and Irkadura. She is, like I am, a fantasy writer.

Why do I mention her? Of course firstly because she’s a great writer and a very interesting person (follow her on Twitter or Google+ if you want) and secondly because yesterday she posted this on Twitter:

TwitterYou know what I’m dying to do? I’m dying to write a book about a talking cat, once I’m done writing all these other damn books I planned.

This of course could not go unrewarded, so I replied:

Twitter@kseniaanske I’m going to write a book about a writer who plans to write about a talking cat after she wrote all the other books she planned

upon which I received this in return:

Twitter@paul__kater Deal. Can’t wait.


This has to end in a story of course, and here is how it starts:

“You know it’s not going to happen, don’t you?” asked Frankie the cat as he stretched out a paw. The claws came out as they were up for an inspection.

“Of course it will,” Francis replied. “I just have to get all this other stuff written, edited, proofed and published, and then I’m going to do it.”

“Nu-huh,” Frankie continued after licking his paw a few times. “By the time you’ll have time for that I’ll be through most of my nine lives.”

“Don’t count on that. I can write fast and furious.”

“And torment people on Twitter,” Frankie taunted her. “And you need to write another blog post. Will it be about me?”

“Shut up. You’re a cat. You know nothing. You shouldn’t even be talking to me,” Francis said as she pretended to slap Frankie, something she wouldn’t do as she knew his claws from various close encounters.


Writing, writing, writing. Does it ever end?

Dear reader,

quill&inkIt may look as if I’m complaining. Trust me, I’m not. I’m just pondering the writing that I envision ahead of me. Let me show you what’s ‘in store’ so far.

The fifteenth book in the Hilda the Wicked Witch series has progressed quite far already. This is a good thing. Next month I plan to put down the basis for the sixteenth book of Hilda when it’s Nanowrimo again.

Then there is the sequel to A Girl Named Sandy that I am writing. This is a very interesting challenge as it’s an attempt to make this as good or even better as “Sandy” (which I still consider my best book to date).

I know there are people hoping for another Lily Marin book (which is something I’m looking forward too as well, honest!).

The plan to write The Story of the Mimosa in Dutch has started to become more a slow-moving reality than a plan. And I have heard from several sides that a sequel to Wanted: Hero would be greatly appreciated. (Wanted: Hero isn’t available in English yet, so far only in Dutch, but we’re working on that!)

One million words

Dear reader,

Do you know what one million words look like over a span of 18 months and a week? Allow me to show you:

A million in a graph
Don’t worry, some month abbreviations may look funny but that’s because they’re in Dutch.

Last year April I started keeping track of how much I write daily and kept scores in a spreadsheet. I wondered how long it would take me to get to one million words. Now I know. 18 months and a week. I thought it would take me longer to reach that number. Now of course I’m curious if the next million will take longer, less long or equally long, so I shall meet you again in 18 months and a week. Or sooner. Or so.

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.


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.

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.

V. For Vocabulary, which is important to writers #AtoZChallenge

azbloggingV. Vocabulary

Dear reader,

I had a good, long thought about the letter V. Finally I decided on Vocabulary. Not very surprising maybe as that is one of the most powerful tools of a writer. It’s easy to jot down a sentence, but to add the proper ‘pizzazz’ to it, one needs to know the right words. A sentence has to say something, it has to bring you, the reader, into the state of mind that makes a story come alive. “Joe walks down the street” conveys exactly what Joe is doing, and where he does it, but this way he’s just an average Joe, a man in the street.


Did you see what happened just now? I used some specific vocabulary, drawing in some common expressions to give Joe some ‘body’. He’s not Joe the banker, he an ‘average Joe’. To make it even more obvious, he’s mostly a typical person, a ‘man in the street’. By simply using these common expressions (I am sure that most of you know them and even use them occasionally), I have given Joe some appearance, a social environment.

How different does it feel when you see “Mr Joe walks down the street”? Mr Joe. Well, that’s not your average Joe. This is probably someone who stepped out of the suit department. Isn’t it fabulous how much difference such a small word can make? This is where writers have most fun – and also most problems. What is the right word for a specific scene, situation, problem or person? And that question can come up for at least 25% of the words in a book. With a count of let’s assume 75,000 words for a book we’re talking about 18,750 times this question. What is the right word here? Of course it’s not always very dramatic but it can be. For that writers need a broad  vocabulary. And that gets worse when a story tells about a field that has a specific jargon. Usually a writer will have to dig deep to get the proper words out in the open, yet at the same time make the word clear to the people who are not into that field, so they know what the ‘bleep‘ this scientist, mechanic or quantum-physicist is talking about! Luckily this can be a lot of fun. :-) (Can be… 😉 )

U. Unlimited places for the mind to wander – #AtoZChallenge

azbloggingU. Unlimited

Dear reader,

Have you ever considered where the limits of your imagination are? How wild and strange the places can be that your mind can bring to you, almost so vividly that your mind seems to take you to those places? That is how creating new stories feels to me. There are no boundaries, no limits. The only ones that might appear are those that the events in a story bring about.

ray bradburyIn that respect I follow the (to me wise) words of a genius author. His name? Ray Bradbury. In his book Zen in the art of writing he advocates the total absence of fear and limits. A person should be able to write without boundaries, about anything at all. Maybe there’s no one who will buy the story, not a person in the world who wants to read it.

This tells me that when the need to write that story is there, it has to be written. If only to get it out of one’s system. If you keep the words inside, don’t let them out of your system, they will start to revolt and block other words from appearing. (Writer’s block could be a result, literally.)

Somehow the boldness of writing with no holds or bars seems to work for me. When I look at the long line of Hilda the Wicked Witch books that are already out in the world, and the slew of them that are still to be written, that says something. A spin-off in the shape of the story about a ship that sails through space and time. It works. Of course, not every book is as successful as the average Stephen King novel but that is why he’s not me. I want to give him a chance as well. His writing is unlimited too (look at Carrie, or the Dark Tower series). Anything that needs limits will appear in the story. Stories don’t need those writing people to put limits on them. That would seriously limit the stories.