A good day so far

Dear reader,

So far today has turned into a good day, despite some not so wonderful news yesterday.

I have started writing a story that plays in my hometown of Cuijk. It goes well, and this afternoon I got on my bicycle and pedalled over to the library where I sat myself down and wrote more on that story. Here’s the view from where I sat:

cuijk library

Perhaps you can’t believe the joy I had sitting there. The street you see crosses a street called Aleida street and that appears in my story.

That is not all I did. I finished all the final edits on Hilda’s 16th story and I have started to compile the actual books for the story. The cover is already made, the e-book is as good as done and I am working on the paperback for whom likes the real books instead of a file on their e-reader. For the paperback I may change the backside from now on but I’m not yet certain. Time will tell.

Next to this the rework of Hilda’s 17th story is going on, as well as writing book 18 of the Wicked Witch. If you think that I am bored I implore you to think again. Have a wonderful weekend from me, a Holy Bejeebus from William and a Crappedy crap from Hilda!


Dear reader,

People sometimes ask me why I am having such a high output of books compared to many other writers. Publishing a book per year is a nice amount, 2 per year is really good, but I have an average of 3 to 4 books per year so far.

printing-pressI think it is because I started writing actual books quite late in life. There are so many stories inside me and I want to put them ‘out there’ before I can’t do that any more. That is not something I’m focussing on, but it is something that can happen to the best of us at an age too early. Look for instance at Sir Terry Pratchett who passed away far too soon while battling a disease that in the end did all it could to keep him from creating.

There is of course the possibility that I will live to be very old and write as long, like Harry Bernstein whose most productive years were his nineties. If I knew that to be the case I might not write so fast and furious, but who knows when his/her end approaches? I’m not taking any chances, so I keep writing at the pace that feels good for me.

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.