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

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.

Writing for the heart.

Dear reader,

I agree this is a rather unusual title. I’m good at coming up with unusual things but that’s not the point of this post.  Read on and find out…

Writing for the heart.

red heartThe writing for the heart that I mean is not for my heart. It’s for the heart of the people who read what I’ve put to electronic paper. Let me tell you the story of one of those people. I’ll not mention her name. She will be MC.

Writing for the heart of MC.

One day, several years ago, I received an e-mail from someone who had read the entire series of my wicked witch. MC told me she used to be an artist, a painter, who then was in hospital because of many ailments. Since a few years (!) she was in an oxygen tent and reading books was impossible for her; her eyes had been affected by all the medication. A few good friends had bought her an e-reader (adjustable font size, you know) and on that she could read again. On that e-reader they’d installed the first few books of Hilda.

After reading them, MC asked a friend to write me that e-mail. In it she told me how much good my stories had done for her. And… then she asked: “If ever I am well enough again to paint, would you allow me to paint a few scenes from your stories?”

Bam

That is how that question hit me. Something I had written and put out into the world had such a profound impact on that person, profound enough for her to get that e-mail to me, with her story and her request.

You cannot imagine how that affected me. I hadn’t even ever dared to dream of anything like that to happen.

MC was not the only person who wrote to me about how my stories helped her along and made her happy. I’m not going to list all of them but there have been many. E-mails that touched me, made me smile, made me cry.

E-mails that made me happy, proud and humble. Humble because of the awe that I can do something like that for people I’ve never seen, that I’ll never meet. And they take the time to write to me. To tell me what my stories mean to them.

That is what I mean when I say writing for the heart. Maybe there are more hearts that my stories have touched, hearts that don’t want or dare to write to me. That’s okay. As long as the magic of words does magic to people’s hearts, that’s what counts.

MC, so I’ve learnt, has left this Earthly plane several years ago. An end to her pains and sickness. But knowing how books with stories have made a difference for her… touches my heart…

 

Reasons to be cheerful. Am I really that good?

Dear reader,

Tooting my own horn
Tooting instrument.

I have the need to toot my own horn.

It has happened a few times already that my writing has been compared to that of other writers. So was “The Story of the Mimosa” compared to the “Hitch hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy “by no one less than Douglas Adams. Such praise is amazing and always welcome for a writer.

A few days ago, on a social medium called Ello, I was mentioned by someone so I had a look at the post. What I found there surprised me in the best way.

Someone wrote:

Since Terry Pratchett is gone I found on Ello a new favorite writer for fantasy literature. @paulkater

lucky me: he is alive and very creative… and I didn’t read all of his books, so I will have some more to read. but I took a new one with me called ‘The Magic of The Bull’. I read seldom the little texts on the backside of books, so I didn’t know anything about it. I read this book in two days, it’s so amazing. The beginning sketch a normal family with two kids in the funny age and the usual fightings between brother and sister. All is normal and not fantasy like until to a thunderstorm. Step by step send Paul Kater the heroes of this story on their way in the history of their living place…

I can only say: read it!

@paulkater thank you for this book, I had a great time to read it!

This is the kind of praise that touches me deeply. Being compared to the man that I admire highly, Sir Terry Pratchett, is more than I had dared to dream of.

Sir Terry Prachett
Sir Terry Prachett

I think I’ve read most of his books. The famous Discworld series is something that will stay in my memories forever. The witches he has developed and portrayed, the noble men of the Nightwatch, the great turtle Atuin on which the entire world travels through space, all of them are things that make me happy.

After finding that amazing review I found it too good not to share so I dropped a tiny bit of it on Twitter, and what happened:

Discovered on Twitter

Someone agrees.

I’m almost inclined to believe that it’s true. (And if it’s not true I’ll ignore your comments to that respect and float off in my little, happy bubble, knowing that there are at least a few people on this earth who know the truth! 😉 )

Anyway, this is where the tooting ends and the real work of a writer continues. Writing. Coming up with more stories. Working on continuing the dream.

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of Sir PTerry’s books:

‘Ankh-Morpork!
Brawling city of a hundred thousand souls! And, as the Patrician privately observed, ten times that number of actual people.’

– Guards! Guards!

Wishing you a wonderful day…

Paul

It looks like I’m doing nothing, doesn’t it?

Dear reader,

Time flies by like a clock on steroids.

Hilda 19 is out since a while and you hear little from me. Part of that has to do with things in life. Things involving jobs, new jobs, other workplaces and so on. Those take up time and energy. Still I hope that someday I’ll be as good a writer as for instance Stephen King or Ursula Le Guin. That’s something for later, when I grow up. As I try to write this, my cat Grimalkin is walking over the keyboard, attracting attention.

So what’s happening in the area of real interest: books.

I’m working on book 20 of Hilda which is always a pleasure. Carol and I are still working on getting the sequel to “Wanted: hero” out there. The next book to come out will the “The Magic of the Bull”, which might be closer than you think. 🙂

In between all that I have also updated the cover for “Charisma, the young witch.”

I think this looks a lot better than what was there before!

 

 

Plotting and planning and Hilda

Yes, dear reader,

I’m still here. And let me explain about the title of this post.

Plotting

plottingI’ve taken up this ‘plotting’ thing many writers are dedicated to. It means you sit down and first work out how a story will go before you get it going. I’ve found there are advantages to it. It takes the surprises and blind spots out of many parts of a story. That may sound brilliant but having the surprises taken out of a story isn’t so good. I like my surprises. They’re part of the fun, the shock and the journey I take together with the victims I write about. Of course I didn’t mean that; they’re my valued characters who unfortunately end up in places and situations of ‘interest’.

Planning

BoringNow this is something I might need to look into. I’m always working on a bunch of stories. At the moment I think it’s 5 or 6. Planning might actually help to get some insight on where I am and what I should do.

Planning however is boring and takes time. Time I can use better, like for writing. Or perhaps plotting, which also eats up quite some time. I have yet to find a convincing argument for planning, so let’s leave it at that and move on to the most interesting part of this post.

Hilda

Hilda The Wicked WitchThe Hilda stories are those that will never be planned or plotted.  N-E-V-E-R, do you hear me?

Hilda’s adventures are, in a way, my own adventures. The best kind, where magic, life and fairy tales come together. Is there a better combination?

I love this witch and her circle of family, friends, acquaintances and other people who hang around for some reason or other. I’m proud of her. I have a large canvas picture of her hanging from my wall.

There has to be a benefit to plotting and planning because so many people do it. Some stories however aren’t meant to be plotted. They are travels to uncharted lands, over trails so far undiscovered.

In a few days I’ll find out if the plotting business will work for me. Then Nanowrimo starts, and I’ve done a lot of figuring out for that. Plotting. And planning, if you will, although that’s just minimal.

We’ll see how it works. Or not.

 

How strangers touch your life

Dear reader,

Long ago I received an e-mail from a lady who was in hospital. She’d been there since a long time, battling cancer. Medication had made her eyes go bad and she couldn’t read books any more until one of her friends gave her an e-reader. On that e-reader were the first five Hilda books.

This lady, Lisa, had been a painter. After reading Hilda’s stories she asked a friend to write me an e-mail, to tell me how she enjoyed the Hilda books. After a few more mails she asked permission to paint some scenes from the books if ever she would be healthy enough again to pick up a brush. Unfortunately she will not paint those scenes. I have learnt today that several months ago she passed over to the next stage in the cycle of life and death.

I have often thought about Lisa. About how the words I wrote touched her life, and that she touched mine in turn by telling me her story.

Lisa and I never met. We only exchanged words on screens. And yet there was this miracle of meaning something for the other. It’s a treasure and I will never forget that.

Goodbye, Lisa. Paint on, wherever you are. These colours are for you.

What’s going on?

Vacation

Dear reader,

It’s been silent again for some time. First of all I was on a two week vacation to Great Britain, something I thoroughly enjoyed.

england

I’ve spent a nice time in Dorset, which is located in the south of England. From there I drove up to Bristol where I met a good friend. She is actually the lady who gave our beloved wicked witch her face! We went to Cardiff to visit the Dr Who experience, which was an amazing experience indeed. I’m quite the Dr Who fan so that was a treat.

dr who experience

After Bristol I went up even more north to North Wales where I enjoyed a stay with the editor of my English books. I don’t meet my British friends nearly enough so this was absolutely delightful.

Book things

Furthermore I have been busy promoting my latest Dutch book which is received very well. So well in fact that many English speaking people have asked me when the ‘international’ version is ready. I have to admit that I had no plans to rewrite that book in English, but with so many enquiries I have decided to review those intentions. The work on rewriting the book in English has started, the first 2 chapters are already done. Only 31 more to go!

Book 18 of Hilda the Wicked Witch is approaching its final stages, text-wise. Carol is almost done with the edits. The big hurdle I am still facing is the cover image, but that will be done. I hope you can still hang on to whatever you’re hanging on to: book 18 is coming.

Hilda and her younger years

Dear reader,

Hilda16_the youngeryears_320I am certain that many of you, who are Hilda fans or even Hildaholics, have by now read that infamous book about Hilda when she wasn’t yet the wicked witch she is now.

You may have seen that there are a number of references to older books and stories in book number 16. This was only partly my intention, but as the story grew I saw more and more opportunity to clarify how certain things had come to pass in Hilda’s life and history.

I have now taken it upon myself to outline the references to the older books as I did take notes on them. Are you ready for them? I am curious if you have found the same ones, and if you perhaps discovered something that I missed!

Reference number 1. Chapter 1. Rompford.

medieval villageThis one primarily goes to book 8, Dragon Master, where Hilda mentions her town of birth for the first time.

Another reference here would be book 11, Rock ‘n’ Troll which acts out almost entirely in Rompford. I still hope to see a Rompfordian football match…

I admit, this was quite an obvious reference, perhaps even so obvious you missed it. No worries though, there are many more to come.

Reference number 2. Chapter 2. Special wood.

Hilda 13 the house 320In this chapter Hilda’s dad goes out to acquire some ‘special wood’. This of course is wood from the Squeamish which is brought to our attention in book 13, The House. This is actually something I thought of later, after having written that particular chapter already.

The house that Zoraia and Ludwig live in was a talking house – remember that it talked with Hilda on occasion? That suddenly reminded me there had to be a connection to Squeamish wood, so I had to send Ludwig out shopping for that particular kind of wood. Which he did.

Reference number 3. Chapter 3. The school of magic.

schoolHere we have references to several books again. First of course there is book 7, Back to School.

But also book 10, Magic on the Rocks, is definitely meant to be referenced here. As you may remember, the school was quite an interesting place for Hilda and also Baba Yaga. I really enjoyed working out the classes, the other class mates and their quirks and habits, and the problems someone can have with flying a broom.

I’m still grateful for the writers of Arabian stories who came up with flying carpets…

Reference number 4. Chapter 4. Two vanishing cats.

Two-black-catsThis was a tricky one to spot, I am sure. In chapter 4 Zoraia casts a spell onto two cats that were tormented by a few village boys and those cats disappeared – but where to? Well, they went to book 4 for starters, Hilda and Zelda. This is the first place where I originally made the two black cats appear, seemingly out of nowhere. Now, magical cats do wild things but they need to come from somewhere. Now you know where that somewhere was: the marketplace of Rompford, when Hilda was small. Another reference to the two cats was of course Hilda book 5: Cats. Now that was an easier one, wasn’t it?

Reference number 5. Chapter 4. Big sister.

But that’s not all for this chapter. In chapter 4 Hilda also learns that she’s ‘the older sister’ now and that she has to take care of her baby sister. Hidden in here is a reference to The House, again, where Hilda realises she has to do what her parents told her to do: take care of Charisma!

Reference number 6. Chapter 5. A hut on legs.

In chapter 6 of Hilda’s Younger Years Hilda sees the hut of Babs’s parents for the first time. A hut on legs. Where does this point at? Believe it or not, this goes to book 3, The Challenge, where William appears and faces Baba Yaga’s living environment for the first time. Another reference here is Phargene, book 14, where Hilda meets Baba Yaga’s parents, Papa Yaga and Mama Yaga.

Reference number 7. Chapter 7. Where we meet tailors.

tailorThis chapter references the Zola family, the famous tailors who fell victim to burglary in Hilda’s adventure Rock ‘n’ Troll. Do you remember how Hilda and William went into the store of Gorgon Zola and his wife, for Hilda to order a new dress?

I had far too much fun with that tailor. I thought Zola was quite an interesting name as it’s not very common, and then I thought of the famous cheese, Gorgonzola, and now you know how the good clothes maker got his first name…

Reference number 8. Chapter 10. A heady teacher.

You have probably recognised Hepatia Strunk, the not so beloved head teacher at the Magic School. Here of course we have a reference to Back to School as well as Magic on the Rocks again.

Reference number 9. Chapter 10. Meeting an old friend.

JennealYes, two references in this same chapter, and all to different books. In chapter 10 of the Younger Years Hilda meets Jenneal, the red-dressed, red-haired witch with a fox fixation.

This points us back to Rock ‘n’ Troll again where William and Hilda visit Jenneal and actually recruit her to battle the huge walking rock men that are threatening the village of Rompford.

There actually is a link from Rock ‘n’ Troll to the latest book, The Wytches Roone as well. I didn’t know that when I was taking these notes, but the twins with their harps on the carts in Rock ‘n’ Troll are based on the same Harp Twins that play a major part in the The Wytches Roone!

Don’t worry, we’re getting to the end of the references. Somewhere…

Reference number 10. Chapter 13. Witch meets Goddess.

CirceThis is probably one of the very easy ones to spot. Hilda meets Circe for the first time in chapter 13.

Circe, the Greek Goddess who calls for Hilda’s help in Hilda – Aiaia.

It was very entertaining to bring Circe back into the story since Hilda told William about how she’d met Circe in school, how she’d been late for the start of the lessons, and the strange manner in which she’d seen Circe’s parents back then.

Reference number 11. Chapter 18. Wet clothes.

In this chapter Hilda gets fished out of the water. That was a very terrifying experience for her as you can imagine. The reference here, believe it or not, is Phargene. Can you spot why? Think back to the story and the flooding tunnels where witch and wizard are trying to shut the valves…

Reference number 12. Chapter 19. The Ring.

ringThis is a feeble reference, I’ll admit that. The ring that Hilda gets from Circe, the dachtilìdi. It’s a bit of a pointer to Charisma, the young witch, who steals that very same ring from her older sister and has adventures with her friends.

Reference number 13. Chapter 21. Scary Mountain.

Who doesn’t remember the scene in Hilda 2, Snow White revisited, where Hilda and Babs are performing their magical arts at the witches meeting on Scary Mountain?

Reference number 14. Chapter 25. Back to School.

Really, they don’t come easier than this one. The title of the chapter is the same as that of book 7. Back to School, so let’s immediately roll on to

reference number 14. Chapter 25 again. A hut in the water.

Here is a nice reference to Rock ‘n’ Troll again, to the time when Hilda and Jenneal remember the time that the hut of Baba Yaga’s parents had walked into the river. 🙂

Reference number 15. Chapter 28. Finally…

foxThe last one. You must be relieved. In this chapter Jenneal has her affair with the fox and the hunters. Yes, we’re once again back at Rock ‘n’ Troll.

You made it!

Well, that was it for Hilda’s Younger Years. Did you recall or remember the events I described? If so, I hope you had fun travelling through Hilda’s history with me. If not I suggest you go back to book 1 and start reading again.

(Joking of course!)

Have a wonderful day, from Paul, Hilda, William, and the cats. And the rest of the crew!

 

The odd ways of ideas

Dear reader,

ideaIt keeps surprising me in what strange ways ideas for stories can come to me. It doesn’t take much, that is obvious to me already. It can be a sound, something I see of smell, or a few words I happen to read somewhere. In the latter case I often don’t even remember where I saw the words but they stick in my mind and refuse to let go until I’ve applied their use to a story, or perhaps a chapter.

It happened again a little while ago. I have just finished the rework for Hilda 17 and sent that off to my editor, Carol. I’ve started writing Hilda 18, and I’m working on a few other bits and pieces. And still this idea-mechanism is running full steam ahead. On Google+ I saw an image. A funny one. And then…

bam…there I had the idea for Hilda 19. While book 18 isn’t even remotely done. Can you believe that this habit, or trait, or whatever you call it, can actually be draining? Sometimes I don’t want to leave my house as I’m almost scared that more ideas will hit me, more reasons to write stories and books, on top of the incredible pile that’s already there.

Do note that I’m not complaining about all those ideas. On the contrary. I know how many writers are struggling to get something going in their writing. I’m ‘suffering’ from the opposite, which probably is much better. It just requires a lot of discipline from my end to sit down and finish one idea before I throw myself at the next one. That is the curse writers can face: they start a lot and finish hardly anything. I don’t want to fall into that trap.

And in case you hadn’t noticed: the Hilda series isn’t about to stop yet. 🙂

Have a wonderful day, read a book!