Libraries

Dear reader,

This is about libraries.

Who has not spent hours and hours in libraries? Perusing the thousands of books on the shelves, exploring the many different categories and styles?

I know I have done that a lot in the past, when there was no Internet, when there were no e-books (yes, I am one of those e-book fanatics).

Very early already I had gone through all the books suitable for my age, and I could not find anything worthwhile to read any more that I had not already read, so my parents arranged that I could go into the adult books section.

A world of worlds, knowledge, impressions and marvel opened for me when I discovered the joy of reading. The person who initiated that with me was my mother. She was the book worm in the house, and soon I was the other one. More than once I had to be called a few times, and shaken physically, for the call to come to dinner. Once engrossed in a book the real world simply disappeared.

The library of alexandria

Libraries have always been impressive and very necessary institutions where the knowledge of a nation or a culture were collected and cared for. The first known library in the world was that of the great city of Alexandria, in ancient Egypt. It functioned as a very important place of scholarship from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC. As this is the first known and also very significant library in history, it has a special meaning. One that started all the other libraries, all those other places that gather wisdom for posterity. It was such an impressive place, with so many written scrolls, that it also became the name for the Alexandria Publishing Group that I am a member of.

Since libraries contain so much knowledge and give so much food for thought, often they were (and sometimes still are) destroyed. Food for thought is a dangerous thing for usurpers and dictators. The dumber a people, the easier they can be controlled. But not only humans have destroyed libraries. Also the simple fact that books are made of paper is a danger – fire is a great enemy of libraries. Luckily these days there are many good fire-detection and sprinkler systems. They help in preserving the important old and new documents that so many brilliant minds have put together. (Of course water can be a threat to books as well.)

Libraries. They are important places. Places that feed the mind. Home of readers and writers. And a public library makes no difference between rich and poor, old and young, the colour of skin, or what other differences you can think of. Anyone who needs to research something, who has a burning question, or who wants to borrow a book for the pure joy of reading, it does not matter. The library can accommodate it.

The library. I don’t know how it was for you, dear reader, but for me the library, even at a young age, was more important than the playground. I would even say that it was my playground. It offers thousands of ways to be entertained, amazed, scared and surprised. And most of all: become knowledgeable.

 

Two years

Dear reader,

It’s amazing but true. Two years ago I published my first little book, about a wicked witch called Grimhilda. Hilda for friends. When I pressed that “publish” button for the first time, little did I know…

What followed was a small avalanche of books (at least that is how it seems to me). More Hilda books, and people kept downloading them. I brought out a few books in a different genre too, but Hilda apparently is everyone’s darling. Not bad for a wicked witch. I started an author facebook page to have a way to interact with fans of my written heroes and heroines, which was a good idea. I met very nice people!

A very nice and also surprising milestone was the invitation to join the Alexandria Publishing Group, a collective of independent writers who stand for books that are good in every way. Not just the story, but also the grammar, spelling, etcetera. Quality all through the work.

I am grateful to Sharon and Jean, who made Hilda happen, and Arlene for nearly getting on my nerves to publish that first booklet of Hilda. Without them, this all would not have happened. Thank you, Carol, who patiently looks for all the mistakes I hide in the texts, and of course, I am grateful to the fans of Hilda, William, Babs and Lily (and all the others), for downloading and buying my books. Without them, this would never have taken off the way it has!

Two years. Amazing. How will things look two years from now…

I am going ask you for your age

Dear reader,

You saw correctly. I am going to ask you for your age. No need to add more specifics, and it is fine if you say it is the age of someone else. So where does this sudden curiosity come from? Earlier I found a most endearing comment from someone on one of the pages of this website. Let me share it with you:

Dearest Paul, I am 72 yrs old and I think this is probably the most enjoyable series of books I have ever read. Do you plan anymore of the HILDA books? I certainly hope so. I have read all of them I can find (8), is that all of them?
Love your style and THANK YOU for adding joy in my life.

Naturally I informed the writer of this comment about book 9, and also that book 10 is in the making. What stunned me though was that a lady of 72 actually enjoys the Hilda-books, and that made me curious about the youngest and eldest readers of the series. So if you know someone younger than let’s say 18, or older than 72, who enjoys Hilda and her friends, I would really like to know about it. I’m not going to make this prettier than it is, I’m just curious! You can reply via the link at the bottom of this post, or simply send me an e-mail.

Lily Marin’s steampunk adventures

Dear reader,

I am wondering about something. I’ve written a set of short steampunk stories, 3 are out in a book, 3 are pending for that. I discovered however that writing these stories is very… difficult. Cumbersome. Slow. I really like the stories how they come out, but they drive me insane. Also, the number of downloads is not that high (the book is free) probably because of the niche genre.

I am really wondering if I should keep writing these stories, or if it is better to focus on what goes more easily, gets done faster. It would be the easy way out, though. The steampunk shorts are challenges, and I dare to think that those push my writing in a particular way.

Time will tell what happens.

How I got to writing

Dear reader,

In this post I am going to share a little about how I got into writing. This did not happen from one day to the next, as if one flips the switch of a light.

I’ve started, of course, with reading. I read a lot. More times than I care to remember, my parents had to warn me that dinner was ready by taking my book away. My mother sometimes said “You are reading your mind away, boy.”

One day my mother had a new book and she let me read it. I loved it so much that I wanted to have it, but that of course was not going to happen with a big expensive book for a 13 year old kid. Dad gave me an old type writer and a stack of paper, and said “type it over if you want it.” So I started typing page after page, getting cramps in my fingers but persisting until I had the whole book done.

After that, the bug had bitten me and did not want to let go. I started typing out something I had thought up myself, and showed that to my parents. It probably wasn’t a masterpiece but I was proud of it, and so I kept going, thinking up marvellous 5-paragraph plots and 2-page schemes that rocked my world.

After a while (a long while), a friend invited me to join a small mailing list where authors of all feathers showed what they had written to the people on the list. After reading along for a while I became brave and started writing something ‘big’. And then the moment of truth came: I had to post a chapter on the list. I still remember how nervous I was about that. To my relief the chapter was received well, as were the following ones. More and more chapters and stories appeared, some of which were co-written with others on the mailing list.

Due to a fun little “writing race” with a few others, where we would write a 20.000 word story in 2 weeks, Hilda was born, as I needed something to quickly write about. After posting that story to the mailing list, people asked for the second story, so I wrote that. A friend, Arlene Radasky, who has written a great book called “The Fox”, then kept pushing me to publish the first Hilda story. Which, after a while, I did. And then I published the second one. And the third. Etcetera.

And look how things are now. My books come out and people appreciate them. And they ask for more. It is an amazing experience, and I hope to be able to continue my writing for a long time. Especially in the company of the good people of the Alexandria Publishing Group, and all the fans of the characters in my books.

 

Tales of writing

Dear reader,

Today I thought I’d share a few things with you that are off the regular posts that you can find here. A bit more personal, although nothing too revealing (I hope). It’s about characters. And yes, I refer to the characters that appear in some of my books. More precisely the Hilda the Wicked Witch books.

In each book there are new adventures, so there are new characters. Many of them come from the depths of my mind, a place where many a thought dreads to go. At times however, I base a character on someone alive. Someone I know, more or less in person. Hilda herself, for instance, found her role model in a very dear person who stole my heart, many years ago. She did so again a while ago and now she refuses to give it back (does that sound like Hilda or not?).

If you have read Hilda – Lycadea, you may remember Maurizio Blunt. Maurizio is based on a Italian man I worked with, long ago, whose first name was indeed Maurizio. (Due to privacy reasons I am not going to divulge his last name.) Real life Maurizio was a very kind man, large of figure and boisterous of voice, and he was the perfect model for Moro Blunt.

Now we step to Hilda – Back to school. Many names and characters there are based on living people. Lesley the Looney, Carolyne and her pegasus, they are people I know and care about. Even Hepatia Strunk, the WIC, is based on someone I know, although I did change her name very much. If you have read the book and recall Irmgard and Cornelia, well, these are people I know as well. Good people with slightly different names.

The interesting and fun thing with modern means of communication is that it is very easy to have contact with fans of my writing, or should I say “fans of Hilda and William”? And some of these fans have asked if they can appear in a story as well. As I don’t know many of these people in person, it is difficult to add them into a good position, but so far I have managed it. For the new Hilda book, number 10, a new group of people will appear, most of the magical ones. I hope to fulfil many appearance-requests here; two positions are already filled up. I hope that “Ranee” and “Crystolyne” will recognise their names.

A nice little twist with names happened in the book which still has the working title Bristol Dream. I was talking to two ladies at the reception of the office where I work, and they both mentioned that they wanted to appear in one of my books. Again the problem that I don’t really know them, but in Bristol Dream I had a vacancy coming up, so I combined their names into one person. One of them already knows what I concocted and she loves it. The other lady has fallen ill, so I shall have to wait before I can bring the shock to her.

Finally, I shall address a question that has been asked several times: On whom is William, Hilda’s partner, based?  My honest answer: I don’t have a clue.

Sometimes I just need to brag

Dear reader,

Today I found a few amazing reviews on Hilda – Cats that I just have to share with the world.

This one, rated 5.0 out of 5 stars:
One of the best series out there!, By JohnR (OH USA):

I really love this series of books. They are extremely entertaining. When I see a new one, I drop everything, get it, and read it.

Characters are very well presented, you really do get to know them and look forward to the next book. Usually a series of books kind of sputters a bit as it goes on. Not this one! These books just go a completely different direction, and are simply as great reading as you could possibly imagine.

I would suggest starting at the beginning though, the books do progress through the lives of the “sweetwitch” and her wizard.

If I have any complaint it is that I have gotten the whole series here on Amazon for free, and that seems wrong to me. Any author that has worked as hard as this one has certainly deserves to be paid!

Thank you very much Mr. Kater!

You are more than welcome, JohnR! And then there is this review, rated 4.0 out of 5 stars:
The most enjoyable Fantasy I Have read in A While, By Laura S. Heinzel (Corpus Christi, TX)

Paul Kater wrote 6 Hilda – Witch stories. This one was one of my favorites. They are a series & need to be read in order, to make better sense of them. As I am a cat lover this one was endearing. Kater takes you right into his alternate world of magic as you fall in love with with his witchy withches for good or not so good. It is hard to put these books down. You manage to want to go right on to the next. I love his flow of the language as he develops these characters in extreme detail that one manages to fall in love with. Last of all the scenery is so descriptive, you can feel the houses come alive and the kitties purring in your lap.

Thank you. Also to all the people who read and enjoy Hilda without leaving a review. I feel honoured.

 

The devil and his diary

Dear reader,

Long time ago I wrote a very silly thing in 30 chapters. It was my work for Nanowrimo, and I had decided to write 30 days of the Devil’s Diary. What started out as a what do I care, as long as it’s words project, turned into a ‘story’ with lots of details about all kinds of things, mixed with my own warped fantasy of how things could be in hell.

A while ago I dug out the original manuscript and looked it over. Now I have spent time on brushing it up, formatting it into something more comprehensible, and all that comes with editing. A good thing is that reading it again after so much time made me laugh and grin in places. It won’t be very long before the book is ready to go out to Smashwords, Amazon and all the usual places, but – there is a distinct warning that comes with this book.

It is not for the faint of heart who are very religious and can’t take jokes, puns and other stabs to religions, gods and other creatures belonging to that.

The story is not limited to taking on any specific religious group, every one of them gets its share, but please heed this warning. I am not accepting any liability for people who feel offended after reading it, that is why I am mentioning this. I don’t mean to offend or hurt, I mean to make people laugh.

By the time the book approaches publication, I’ll post one or two chapters of it, so you can sample it and make an educated decision whether or not you would like it. For now, cover-making is the next thing on the agenda.

Occasional doubt

Dear reader,

Doubt? Yes. Doubt. Sometimes I am not sure if there is more to write. I should refine that, I guess.

Sometimes, it is hard for me to be certain that there is still more to write that fascinates and attracts the people who read my work.

It doesn’t happen often, and that is a good thing, because I love writing, and I am always very happy to see a comment, remark or review that comes from someone who appreciates Hilda’s antics, or who is surprised about the many levels of detail in Bactine.

The books I have written so far were and are still downloaded/purchased very often, for which I am immensely grateful, but at times I wonder if there is a limit to this ‘success’. If I can make the stories even better, so they remain appealing. On the other hand – should I aim to make them better? Well, that’s an easy one. Of course!

Maybe I should not worry about this, but – yes – sometimes I do.

The soul of a reader

Dear reader,

I sometimes wonder about what makes the difference between people who like to read and those who don’t.

A non-reader once told me that reading is a waste of his time; he would rather go outside and explore the world, to experience things first-hand.

People like that are of course entitled to their opinion, but I am convinced they miss something. Readers also go outside. They also experience the world outside them. But when they go into a book, they explore more than just the words on a page (at least that’s how it works for me). A reader explores the world that the author of the book has laid out. A reader follows the lines on the map that makes the story, sees the colours and shapes that are pointed out, or creates his/her own colours and shapes where there is need. Reading makes a person live new lives, experience feelings in a new way perhaps, explore familiar worlds in a new way, and unfamiliar worlds from a comfy armchair.

I don’t know how you feel about this, dear reader, but reading, exploring the inside of other worlds through the words of an author, has changed and enhanced my perception of the world around us. That world suddenly has new shapes, colours, angles and meanings. It even shows me new challenges, and it divulges new knowledge, or puts old knowledge in a new light.

Perhaps non-readers do not need that, do not want nor seek that. To each their own. For me however, reading has become a vital part of living.

A book can give its reader a window to a completely different world.