Paul’s Blog

One e-reader, two e-readers

Do you own an e-reader? And then I mean an e-ink device solely created and bought for reading e-books? Not a phone or an iPad or Samsung or other tablet?

I do. I have two of them.

Why would a person have two e-readers?

I have always like gadgets, and when Sony came out with their first series of e-readers, I wanted one. The first one I got was the Sony PRS-505. That was 2008.

It was quite a large thing, heavy for modern standards, and small on everything else: memory (190MB), time the battery would run (8 to 12 hours), no back-light, no touch-screen. But I could read books on it, and that I did. Lots of them, wherever I could find them. Which, in those days, was hard enough.

I sold the PRS-505 to a friend, whose wife really wanted a device with buttons and I moved on to the Sony PRS-350, a small thing with wifi and touch-screen!

Kindle knocking

But as things go, I needed something new at one point, and I had heard so much about Amazon Kindle that, in 2015, I ordered one, and sold the PRS-350. The Kindle is really a very nice device. It’s clear that Amazon knows what people want, and they deliver on the experience. It’s served me well for a lot of reading and it’s still going strong. It’s nice to see that modern equipment isn’t all made to die in 2 years, forcing you to buy something new.

Kobo Aura 2

Little over a year ago I decided to buy another e-reader. Since Sony had dropped out of the e-reader game, I opted for a Kobo. A dear friend of mine has one and she loves it to bits. I was pleased to find that the Kobo is equal to the ease of use and quality of build to the Kindle. I love good stuff when I pay good money for it.

So why did I buy the Kobo if the Kindle is such a good e-reader and still going strong?

Formats, baby. It’s all about formats.

As I said at the very top, I’ve been e-reading since 2008. In those days you would buy and download the book-files and transfer them to the e-reader with a cable. Yes, I’m that old. Since the first device was a Sony (Kindle was unheard of mostly in Europe, it was mainly an American affair), I bought e-pub book. Sony, Kobo, B&N Nook and many other devices use that e-pub format. The Kindle has its own proprietary format called MOBI-Pocket which evolved into AZW3 and KF8. That only runs on the Kindle device (and yes, on the Kindle app on your phone, tablet, etc., but this is about e-reader devices, remember? 😉 )

Since I have lots of e-pub files still stored and I want to read those again, I could choose to read them on my phone (plenty of good Android e-reader apps about), buy a tablet and use a similar app, or get an e-pub e-reader.

With the benefit of a smooth display and insanely long battery times, and also a very nice, even, soft back-light, I decided to get an e-reader. The aforementioned Kobo. And my old e-pub files work great on that!

Happy reading, everyone, regardless of your preferred medium.

1 – The old cemetery

I am Otto. Okay, officially I am Ottomar van Breekelenburgh-Hoofmeyer, but most people think that’s too long. So do I, by the way, but that’s the family I was born into.

Let’s try this again. I’m Otto. Otto van Bree. And I have a problem. My problem is that I’m allergic to blood. You’d think that is an easy thing to get over but when you’re a vampire, that shines a new light on it, doesn’t it? It’s like a living person being allergic to food. Food is survival, and not eating is… putting a different spin on life. Sure, I’m not bothered by dying because I’m already dead. I did mention something about a vampire, didn’t I? That’s me, and also that’s why I am here and now where I’m originally from.

I belong in the 17th century. That’s where everything started. That’s where I was born as the child of normal people and that’s where I grew up. That is where I learnt to read and write, because my parents were doing pretty well, and that’s where I fell in love for the first time. And bitten. No, the biting wasn’t part of the first love; she wasn’t a vampire.

You know… the weird thing is that I had just spent an evening visiting her and her family when it happened. It had been a wonderful evening. Annegien and I sat next to each other and sometimes we even held hands. Now I can hear you think: is that a fun evening with your sweetheart? Let me tell you that things were very different from the twenty-first century, but of course, you young ones wouldn’t know about that. Annegien’s parents trusted me because they knew and trusted my family. The Van Breekelenburgh-Hoofmeyer family was well respected and that gave me certain privileges. Like holding Annegien’s hand at her home. You can’t hear me sigh but I could have had a wonderful life with her.

Unfortunately, on that blasted evening, after saying goodbye, things went wrong. I was somewhat inebriated by the powerful port her father liked to pour and so I forgot the warning not to go home using the old cemetery as a shortcut. It was rumoured that it wasn’t a safe place, but with a drunk head from the port and a drunk heart from being with Annegien I was too stupid and chose the shortest route. That was how I discovered that the old cemetery was indeed not safe. “An unsafe place full of lowlifes,” was said, but I didn’t care.

At first it was just difficult to navigate the cemetery, because during the day almost no one was there either, so all the trails were hardly maintained. Everywhere there were branches and twigs, and in many places there were bits and pieces of the bad life, left behind by robbers and other unpleasant folk. I had fallen several times already, and the port in my veins made getting up harder and harder.

The first notion something was really wrong at the cemetery came to me when I smelled the stench. That was around me everywhere and in the dark I couldn’t find my way. I had a fancy dagger with me but that would be worthless in a fight. Still I held it in my hand. I had used it to chase off madmen and drunkards before so I hoped I could do the same here. Nothing was further from the truth, though.

Something rushed past me. I sensed it more than I could see it. I already mentioned it was dark. The creature slapped the dagger from my hand and broke two of my fingers as it did so. I still think that my screams of pain were heard in the centre of the town. Indeed, not safe.

Then something hit me from behind and I fell down in the dirt. I realised my life was about to end when I noticed three shapes approaching me. One of them knelt down on my back. The smell of cheap, red wine was disgusting. The second shape grabbed both my arms and twisted them behind my back. The third one knelt next to me.

“Ye should not have come here, weakling,” the voice said. The man spoke Dutch with a foreign accent. “Ye know this place, right? But ye’re lucky, we’ll let you go. Not now, not like that. But when all is done.” It made no sense at all.

“Get off me,” was all I could say before I got a whack in the head that made me see all kinds of new stars. I am glad I never saw those again, truth be told. The last thing I remember after that was a short, burning pain in my neck, after which I fell asleep. At least, that is what I thought then.

The odd thing was that I woke up without a headache. The port from the cellars in Annegien’s house was usually headache-inducing so this was a very strange experience. The next strange experience was that the ceiling looked like rough, wooden planks.

“He is awake,” I heard someone say in an odd accent. I had heard that before. Then I remembered. The night before, at the cemetery. I tried to sit up and got halfway. Then I got nauseous and fell back on the hard mattress, which had to be a sack of straw. The next moment I felt a hand beneath my head. I looked up again and saw the face of a young woman, about my age. She was filthy and she had big, dark eyes in a pale face.

“Here. Sit and drink. Or you will perish,” she said. I was shocked. She helped me sit up and held a bowl in front of me. I drank.

Otto? What’s an Otto?

Otto. And Hille.

If you trot around Instagram or any other more or less social place where I dump stuff about my Dutch books, you may have noticed something about someone called Otto. In full: Ottomar van Breekelenburgh-Hoofmeyer. I admit, that’s quite a mouthful, but that is the name of a character I came up with for a writing experiment in Dutch.

The story is about a Dutch vampire who gets turned into this kind of creature in the 17th century in the Dutch town of Vlaardingen. (Good luck pronouncing that; I know Dutch isn’t easy for non-natives.)

The story is progressing quite nicely so I had the idea to translate (rewrite) a few chapters into English and post them here on the blog bit by bit, as I do with the Dutch chapters. Perhaps ‘chapter’ is a big word for the parts that are between 1000 and 1300 words so far, but it feels like a fun idea.

Polish flag

Why vampires? Some days ago I started watching the Vampire Diaries on Netflix and that brought back memories of long ago when I was writing stories on a mailing-list called “Quillings”. There was a complete Vampire Council there and with a large, world-wide group of people we all added to the (immense) story-line.

I still recall that one of the vampires I was writing about was someone from Poland and I called him Jerzy, because I know someone from Poland who has that name.

It was great fun working out all the problems of the Vampire Council and something left a trace in me. And so Ottomar, or more current: Otto, was born.

To give you a taste of the story, here’s the start of what I have written in English so far.


1 – The old cemetery

I am Otto. Okay, officially I am Ottomar van Breekelenburgh-Hoofmeyer, but most people think that’s too long. So do I, by the way, but that’s the family I was born into.

Let’s try this again. I’m Otto. Otto van Bree. And I have a problem. My problem is that I’m allergic to blood. You’d think that is an easy thing to get over but when you’re a vampire, that shines a new light on it, doesn’t it? It’s like a living person being allergic to food. And since food is survival, and not eating is… putting a different spin on life. Sure, I’m not bothered by dying because I’m already dead. I did mention something about a vampire, didn’t I? That’s me, and also that’s why I am here and now where I’m originally from.

I belong in the 17th century. That’s where everything started. That’s where I was born as the child of normal people and that’s where I grew up. That is where I learnt to read and write, because my parents were doing pretty well, and that’s where I fell in love for the first time. And bitten. No, the biting wasn’t part of the first love; she wasn’t a vampire.

You know… the weird thing is that I had just spent an evening visiting her and her family when it happened. It had been a wonderful evening. Annegien and I sat next to each other and sometimes we even held hands. Now I can hear you think: is that a fun evening with your sweetheart? Let me tell you that things were very different from the twenty-first century, but of course, you young ones wouldn’t know about that. Annegien’s parents trusted me because they knew and trusted my family. The Van Breekelenburgh-Hoofmeyer family was well respected and that gave me certain privileges. Like holding Annegien’s hand at her home. You can’t hear me sigh but I could have had a wonderful life with her.


That’s the style you can expect. Let me know if this is something you like it so far, even though it’s just a small snippet.

Have a great day!

Paul

From time to time an idea pops up…

A while ago I bought a cover. I didn’t have a story for it yet but the cover was so amazing that I just had to have it.

Small cover Clara's Eyes

This happened to me before with the cover for “Clara’s Eyes“.

Sometimes things like that happen. This is the second time for me. The cover was staring at me for a while when suddenly it hit me that there was indeed a good story behind it.

The temporary title on the cover was “Time”. That had to do something, be something. And indeed, it did. Was. Okay, I guess it will be and will do. hahaha!

Cordelia - From time to time

This is part of the cover. Most of it, actually, I just left out the “Time” part.

At first, I thought this was going to be a steampunk story. I’ve been considering a sequel to the Lily Marin book which is partly written and just misses something. (Probably some structure, it’s too many little bits at the moment.)

Then “Time” told me this will be “From Time To Time”, a time-traveller’s story. After getting that bit of inspiration, I have started writing this story like a crazed person. I am working on chapter 5 already, reworked chapters 3 and 4 because of new ideas and insights, and so far I like what is happening here.

I guess that’s my spare time sorted for now. Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Let there be queens. Of rock. Or rocks?

Yes, it happened. My post is a bit late since the new Hilda book appeared yesterday, but it’s out there, in the wild.

Hilda - Queen of the Rock (book 23)

Queen of the Rock.

Book 23. Amazing. It took a while to get it all done. Sorry about that. I hope your reading pleasure won’t be less because of the wait.

Hilda and friends and family face new challenges when they are inundated with questions and requests from queens. Even Queen Velma calls for help, which isn’t a regular occurrence in Hilda’s world.

Who is the queen of the rock? And what is it?

You will be able to find out all and more in this new book!

For now the book is available at 
SmashwordsAmazonAmazon.co.ukAmazon.deAmazon.nlAmazon.itAmazon.frAmazon.esAmazon.caAmazon.auBarnes&NobleApple iTunesKobo. The paperback is still in the works but that shouldn’t be much longer!

Yes. It’s been a while. And yes…

The new adventure of Hilda the Wicked Witch is approaching.

August 3rd 2019 is the date, and the e-book store closest to you is the place. I can’t promise I’ll be there in person, but the book will be, so fire up your e-readers!

Hilda - Queen of the Rock. (BOok 23)

Pretty cover, isn’t it? Ominous and meaningful – as soon as you know the story.

As usual, the paperback will come out later…

For those curious, let me treat you to chapter one already! Others: don’t go beyond this line.

Continue reading “Yes. It’s been a while. And yes…”

Nanowrimo is still far away

But…

I have a plan for it already.

No, it is not another Hilda story. It is not another Baba Yaga story.

The Devil's Diary
Book 1

It is a new Devil’s Diary. Part deux, or two as the English speakers prefer. You may have read the Devil’s Diary already. If so, well done and thank you.

If not, you may have heeded the warning on the page that it is not for the sensitive and the religiously stable. This book is none of these.

Book two will be even worse.

Yes, there will be another meeting with the devil, Bill for friends. His aid Maurice will be there again as well, but he won’t be alone. That’s as much information you’ll get for that part.

Some of you may have figured out already that I am not particularly religious. In fact, I am not that at all. Atheist is what fits my description, and the second Devil’s Diary will carry that viewpoint quite clearly.

I am currently investigating religions and their… remarkabilities. Let me put it that way. I intend to use those in the book. How that is going to take shape? Not sure yet. That will unfold once I start writing. I have discovered a few gems already, though. Once the story’s done, I will share those with you.

Paul

I have a question for you, readers of the Hilda books

The question has to do with book 24. It concerns the (somewhat) endearing character of King Walt.

Basically, the question is: yay or nay?

The more extended version of this is: Do you like King Walt? Is there something about him you would like to see changed? Would you rather <gasp> like to see him (and Queen Velma) retired and replaced?

King Walt Cartoon

If you have a moment and an opinion about Walt, please let me know! You can do so in a comment to this post, via Twitter and on Facebook.

I don’t make people disappear. Not often.

Today I did. Okay, not an actual person, but a character I had introduced in Hilda’s 23rd story. I thought I had the need for a knight so I brought in a knight. One of the queens in the story, however, didn’t need a knight so I sat here with a surplus knight who didn’t add anything to the story.

And what do you do with knights you don’t need?

The Dalek solution to any problem

Indeed. You exterminate him. And that is what I am currently doing. A good thing is that he didn’t add much to the story, meaning he didn’t make many an appearance in it, so removing his remains (ahem) is easy enough.

This does mean the end of Martin of Lower Loxley. If this reminds you of some man named Robin who is also related to the Loxleys, you’re right. Marty was sort of created in the image (make that caricature) of Robin Hood.

I do need to warn you: don’t be disappointed. Marty wasn’t as gallant as Robin Hood. He was more of a loose cannon, be it that cannons aren’t in fashion in Hilda’s world. In the end he became so annoying that I am actually glad he’d gone.

It’s the first time, I think, that I removed a character so thoroughly from a story (once I’m done). He’s not entirely gone yet, I still have 5 chapters to go, but the story improves. In case you care to remember old Marty: when you read Hilda’s 23rd and you see a servant called Segomar make an appearance, that is where Marty often was. Some of the remarks are too good to remove, and Segomar was the perfect choice to pick those up.

Well, so far the news about Hilda and Martin of Lower Loxley.

Onwards, I tell my keyboard. Let’s get rid of Marty. Maybe he will serve another purpose, somewhere in the future…

Nudity in art.

Whoa, what’s this? Where are we going?

I can imagine you’re surprised about the title of this blog post. Read on and you will find out the reason for it. Feel free to stop reading if you are not at all interested in the subject, or if you’re allergic to nudity. Or art.

So what is this about? Nudity? Or art?

Birth of Venus, by Botticelli
‘David’ by Michelangelo

Nudity has been since long a part of art. As the image up here demonstrates. But not only paintings have touched on the subject. Also sculptures, like the famous one of David by Michelangelo, obviously aren’t covered in clothes. They celebrate the human form.

Of course, these two examples lead somewhere. Yes, and they lead to… books.

Books? About nudity?

Yes, most definitely, and I don’t mean large hardcover books with nothing pictures of nude people, although that would fall in this category as well.

I am actually talking about actual fiction books, stories like you read in so many books – fantasy, science fiction, adventure – but these stories involve naked people. Not people that are into all kinds of sexual adventures. If you expect that, then congratulations, Internet, for ruining another person’s train of thought.

This is about naturism, or as the US says: nudism.

Naturists on a beach

Are you still reading? Good for you, and thank you for the trust (these days trust seems to be necessary when the word nudity is used).

There is a broad range of books in that category available, in many genres.

You may wonder how I know this. (Really? Do you?) It is because I am a naturist myself, and I have written several books in that category too. For that, I use a pen name.

No one is going to force you to see or learn more about this, but if you are curious, you can follow this link to find out more. Word of warning despite everything: remember that naturism means naked people.