maandag 30 december 2013

Looking back on 2013


As 2014 peeps around the corner, I believe it’s time to write my ‘yearly reflection.’ 2013 has certainly been a rollercoaster of good and bad.

 
Someone mentioned that new year’s resolutions are daft, as if a new year will magically make troubles go away, and as if one year is different from the next. Of course that’s true, (though a magical new year’s pixie who will just bring a bunch of new opportunities with it, would have been the nicer option) but at the same time: it’s easier to break life up in years and reflect what you have done. We could do the same with months or weeks, but a year feels more weighty.

For me 2013 has been a year of change, my life altered so much from the beginning of this year, I feel like I’ve lived a short lifetime in the past twelve month.

At times I joke that I’ve grown from a starry-eyed newbie, who wanted nothing more than have a work published, to a cynical old hag who is one step away from turning into a crazy cat lady.

All joking aside, I do miss being starry-eyed. When I started 2013 I had a few stories accepted for anthologies, and the world was my Oyster. I didn’t know anything about the writing world yet, and I had a lot to learn about my own writing voice.

Now, only a few months down the line, I’m still learning (and I never plan to stop) but I’m not so naïve anymore, and I have already walked a long educational path. I’ve learned about passive and active writing, plot arcs vs character arcs, character archetypes (even some Jungian ones), about gerunds, plot holes, POV,  and many more things.

And that’s just my part of the writing. I’ve learned the importance of having a good editor, and I’ve learned that marketing is difficult. I now know that it’s difficult (almost impossible) to publish a book by your own, and I believe it takes a village to do so.

There were some dark moments in my journey. I had some problems coming to grips with the publishing world, and as in most things in life, I found out that not everything was ‘fair’. Not all writers act professional, and not all work that is out there is actually ‘ready for the world to read’. Not all publishers have a good business plan, and sometimes your work will end up on a big pile with other work, and it will never be read by more than a hand full of people. Not all editors are real editors, some are just people who had good grades in English. Most writers hardly make any money, and it’s important to keep your head up and keep going.

There were times when this information made me feel small and stupid , and granted,  I wanted to hide under my bed and tell the world to ‘go away’, and there have been moments where I’ve cursed some elements of my profession… but only some moments. One of my new year’s resolutions is “Let it go, and accept the way of the world.”

But it hasn’t been all bad, in fact most of it was good this year. I started out as someone who was desperate to get her work published, and now I find myself in the luxury position that Indie publishers ask me to submit work to them. (May ‘Indie’ one day replaced with ‘Traditional’ *grin*).

2013 was a year of anthologies. That’s how my career started, by writing short tales for anthologies. It was great seeing my work in print and it was even better when readers would mention my stories in reviews. The anthologies drew a little attention to me, and I received a lot of compliments… but I wanted more.


So 2013 was also the year where I got to publish my first novel and my first collection of horror stories. Both were reasonably well received and I’ve been getting some nice praise from bloggers and strangers.

It’s been one hell of a ride.

Coyote will always be special, it was the first project that was truly my own, and I noticed that publishing changed quite a bit after that. Suddenly I was a lot more involved with the whole publishing process. My work was no longer ‘hidden’ between other authors, the readers who read my book, wanted to read ME.

In fact, Coyote attracted my first readers to me, and even my first fan. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels when you get to ‘spoil’ readers with your world and your writing. It’s magic.

A lot of people will tell artists that they have to work for themselves, but I don’t agree. I agree that you have to write what you want to write, but I don’t agree that you should do it for yourself. I write for readers, for like minded souls. Not that I would change my writing (that would make me very unhappy) but I would be devastated if no one would ever read my work.

Working on the second screen was also a fun experience. It made my path less lonely, and I suddenly got to talk to other people about my work.

2013 was the year where I found my editor, Apple Ardent Scott. She was my editor first, but became my friend very soon after. Meeting her changed my life a little, and my perspective on the writing world. I’ve learned so much from her, and she has shown me a whole new world, which has just been magical. I love all the things she taught me.

Then came my collection, Deeply Twisted, and it was fun to write a bunch of short stories. The reactions were once again wonderful. I even put my collection up for the Bram Stoker awards of the HWA, but I don’t know if it will go anywhere… time will tell. If it does, it’ll show up in my ‘reflection of 2014’.

2013 was the year where I connected with a lot of other writers. It was the year where I made new friends all over the world. And it was also the year where I let go of some things in the past. I guess I could say it was a year of beginnings and endings. At the end of this year I have a better sense of who I am as a writer, though I’m still searching for my own niche.

So what are my plans for 2014? I have a great many plans.

My year will start fantastic, because Coyote won the ‘Best Western Book of the Year’ award from Turning Pages, which will be properly announced January 1st. This will be a great way to ring in the new year.

Right now my first (out of seven) novelette in the ‘Even Hell Has Standards” collection is with my editor, and as soon as she has time, we’ll start our editing dance. I plan to publish this with Tip My Hat.

Am also working on Alleria (my NaNoWriMo project, which I intend to turn into an actual novel)

But I have several novels in the making that I’m going to try to find an agent for. 2014 will be my ‘quest for an agent’. I’m ready for new things. There is a lot of great stuff in the Indie publishing world, but I’m ready for a new challenge. In the end I want to be a hybrid writer, who publishes traditional and independent at the same time. This will give me a bit more freedom in my writing.

I hope that 2014 will give me a larger and steadier ‘reader’s base’ and I want to connect with more of my readers. I plan to get more novels and novella’s out there than I did last year, despite my agent search.

Not sure why, but I have a good feeling about 2014.

vrijdag 13 december 2013

Fresh fish! Uhm... I mean, marketing

Happy Friday the thirteenth! May your superstition be kind to you today!


I am going to write about marketing, I promise… there will probably be a ton of blog posts by me about marketing, because it’s like a quest for the holy grail.

Had to show off my cover again
But first Kiddywinkles (yes I just called you that, deal with it, you love me really *grin*) I wanted to share a blog review with you about my horror collection ‘Deeply Twisted’ by Book Junkie Reviews: http://bookjunkiereviews.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/deeply-twisted-by-chantal-noordeloos-reviewed-by-brittany/ Of course I handled reading this like a professional and an adult, by reading this 10 times and crying my eyes out. Lately I’ve been getting quite a bit of love for my work, and especially Deeply Twisted is well received. My head might actually swell up to the size of a cantaloupe if this continues.

And watch how I slip from that little bit of self promotion into the subject of marketing… just like that. *snaps her fingers*… It’s like a magic trick.

Reviews are an important part of promoting your work (see what I did there… subtle, no?) Unfortunately not all reviews are credible, and that’s a shame. Don’t get tempted to go down the slippery slope of false reviews, it might help you in the short run, but in the long run you’ll be found out and it won’t be pretty. Just a little word of advice from me.

Now all us writers want reviews. Of course we do! Writing isn’t the same as most other jobs that actually involves people. Take me for example… I used to be a very social person, and now I’m teetering on the edge of ‘crazy cat lady’. In previous professions I would occasionally get a pat on the back from colleagues, and a lot of my work would have some sort of ‘instant gratification’ to it, I would see projects be completed and get feedback.

Sad party!
Writing isn’t like that. You write this book and spend months of your life on it. Even when you’re not writing it, you’ll be thinking about writing it. It will be a love affair with something that on occasion you will hate with a passion. And then it’s done. If you’re lucky you get a bit of a book party or something to celebrate you putting your baby out into the world.

And. That’s. it.

All you have after that are sales figures and book reviews. The first time I did this, I felt so empty. And you’re not even done yet, because then you’ll need to start promoting your work (but I’ll get to that later). For me all I wanted was for people to take the journey in my world with me. I didn’t need to hear how great people thought I was (that just makes me feel awkward) but I did (and do) wanted to hear that people enjoyed my story. I loved (and love) it when people told me what parts of my book they liked. Of course I was absolutely terrified that someone would hate my book, and that did happen. One of my friends told me that my book wasn’t very good. It hurt me, but then I realized the critique didn’t kill me. I also realized that not everyone could love what I did, and I was (sort of) fine with that. I was fortunate enough to have a lot of people tell me that they loved it.

Now there are two books out there with my name on the cover, and I’m getting a little better at the marketing side of it… though the process still baffles me.

One of the things I don’t try to do is ‘Spam’. You can’t stay away from it completely, but some people really lose all sense of etiquette when it comes to sharing their work. It’s tempting to send people you barely know personal messages on facebook with your

 
spamalot!




 
books, but I don’t think anyone really appreciates that. (In fact, I’ve unfriended people that did that too often before, and I know others have too) See promotion as courtship. Sometimes you just have to put a ‘Single and desperate’ notice on some boards to attract people, but if you do that too often, you’ll just look too desperate. So use the boards with moderation, because you don’t want people to grow tired of seeing your work and not take you serious. If you just use common sense, you’ll do fine. Woo your readers a little bit, make them want to read your work.


Please don’t lie about your work either, you’ll lose all credibility with your readers. It might work for a little while, but if you get exposed… *yikes*. I’ve seen people pull some weird pranks to make their work look acclaimed. It’s very shady.

Now having said all that, I found that the world is a weird place. It’s very difficult to get your work out there. I hear you, and I feel the same way. I haven’t been doing this that long yet, but I do ‘okay’. I’m not unhappy for the reason that I’m only just starting out and I have big plans for the future *grin*.


We’ve been working on some promotional campaigns, and some are more successful than others. It’s pretty much trial and error when you start out. Then last night I was in a silly mood and I tried something different and a little weird. Let me explain.

For days I’ve been seeing these “share this picture to show my daughter / students/ whoever how fast pictures circulate the internet.” Each time I saw one of those I thought: I wish my books would circulate that fast. I told my husband and my daughter about it, and Elora said “why don’t you do that then?” To be honest, I thought it was too gimmicky and said ‘no’ at first.

Yes, I actually did this!
Then last night I thought “Oh what the heck!” (yes I still think it’s gimmicky, but I choose to be a hypocrite, thank you) and I placed my two books under my Christmas tree before I put Elora to bed, put a note on it. I really should have let her hold the books instead, that would have made it even funnier, but I didn’t think of that at the time.

And what do you know… within 24 minutes I had 24 shares. And this morning I had near 50. Elora was thrilled, and I’m sure she’ll come out of school today and ask me ‘how many do we have now?’

The sad part is that I actually get more response on this ‘meme’ about my work, than I do about the campaigns we have. I try to share things with my drawings too, and that never has this much effect. So… the lesson I’ve learned? Be very explicit that you want your work shared. It doesn’t help if you want to send a message if you don’t spell it out for the people in the world that you want them to share it.

Now it’ll be a while before I do something for mass sharing again, I don’t want to annoy my friends and followers, but it’s been an interesting lesson. I started this as a bit of a laugh, but I’ve learned many lessons.

So marketing tips? Get your work out there as much as you can, but don’t over saturate. Don’t post the same links for the same people over and over and over and over again. You might get one of two sales out of it, but you’ll probably chase away more people that could have been potential customers for your other work.

Engage your audience. Be about the readers and answer questions and ‘show your face’ so to speak. Participate in book events to get to know more readers.

Help other authors too, they might return the favor.

Find good bloggers. Bloggers are often more credible than the reviews on Amazon. To be honest, no
matter how much I love each and every review I’ve had on Amazon and Goodreads, the whole ‘fake review’ scandal has made me a bit wary about what is real and what is not. I’ve seen 5 star glorious reviews for books that were train wrecks. I won’t be the only one who is skeptical out there, especially avid readers will trust (the right) bloggers more than they will trust reviews on random bookselling sites. (And now I’m going to completely contradict myself… because I can) at the same time reviews can really improve your visibility on Amazon and Goodreads and push buyers in the right direction to buy your work… so it’s a bit of a double edged sword there.

I know I’m not lighting my cigars with hundred dollar bills yet. It’s a struggle to get your work out there and to get sales. And feel free to ignore my advice, it’s just one woman’s humble opinion. And if you have any good marketing / promotion tips, I’m always happy to hear them!

 

 

dinsdag 10 december 2013

Indecisive



Right now I’m juggling several projects and I’ve noticed my heart’s not in any of them. This sort of sucks, because I really don’t want to start up yet another new project, it’s time to finish something.

Currently I’m in the middle of editing ‘Pride’ which will be the first novelette in my ‘Even Hell Has Standards’ series, and it’s a new version of the old story ‘Only Forgotten’. That piece is at my editor’s right now, so in the meanwhile I’m working on other things.




At this moment I have three projects to choose from (besides Pride): “Alleria, Celestials and Coyote 2.” Because we’re working on an agent search for the Coyote series, I decided that the sequel will have to wait a little while, because I’m not quite sure what we’re going to do with the series.

Alleria is a finished first draft, but when I started re-reading it I decided that I wanted to switch from first person present tense to third person past tense. This means I have to rewrite the whole thing. And that’s before I start editing and sharpening the story (though I’ll do that as I go too). It’s a little disheartening and I’m not even sure if I’m making the right decisions. Sometimes it’s really tough to figure out what’s best for a story. I wish I trusted my own instincts better than I do.

Then there’s Celestials, which is 75% done at 89.000 words, but it needs a lot of work too. And I have to get back into the story.

The question is: “what story will do me more good in the short term? Which one should I finish first?”

At this moment in time I’m feeling a little creatively empty. On the one hand I have a lot of story ideas, but getting them to paper isn’t really working. And I keep feeling very disappointed with what I write. It’s affecting my mood a little, and I’m not too happy with it.  I’ll snap out of this soon enough, I know I will. And when I do I will go at these stories with full gusto. For now I’m still undecided, so I’ll probably end up tinkering on both stories, until I make up my mind.

vrijdag 6 december 2013

Sequels


Most of you know by now that my first novel “Coyote: The Outlander” is the first in a series. Some of you might even know that this book actually started out as a short story, or even further back, because Coyote was my role play character for a Deadlands campaign we had going in my early twenties.


Old Coyote drawing
Old Coyote drawing

First Coyote drawing made somewhere in 2000
I always wanted to give her a story of her very own and when I was asked to write something for the Indiana Science Fiction anthology in 2012, I somehow thought I could use Coyote for my story. Because it was meant for a science fiction anthology, I decided to work with aliens. It worked for Cowboys versus aliens (though I have to admit I never actually saw more than 20 minutes of that movie) and I love Firefly which is Cowboys in space. I decided to work with my own form of Aliens, because I wanted them to be more like either ‘humans’ or ‘monsters’ than I wanted them to be like cliché ‘aliens’, and I ended up calling them Outlanders. Using the rips in the fabric of time and reality helped me play around with the world.

I set out to write this 4000 word story. I had the whole story in my head and when I started to write it, I realized I couldn’t tell it in 4000 words. Instead I wrote ‘the Deal’ for Indiana Sci-fi and I made a longer short story out of Coyote for some competition I then considered entering, which allowed me 10.000 words.

10.000 wasn’t enough either, and after talking to my husband, we both agreed Coyote deserved a novel of her own. Together with the second screen pieces I told her story in 45.000 words, and it’s still not done… because there will be four more books.

During my journey with Coyote I discovered a lot more about Steampunk, and it’s no surprise really that I decided to use more Steampunk visuals in the setting of the second book entitled ‘The Clockwork Dragonfly.’

But writing a sequel is not as easy as I thought. Sure I have a story in mind, and it’s one I quite enjoy. Yet there are a lot of new factors when you’re writing a sequel.

For one… I want my characters to experience growth. This is not as easy as it may sound, because you create certain expectations with your characters, and you need to stick to that as well, but they can’t become monotonous. As a reader I’ve read so many series that failed to let their characters grow, and I always found it very irritating. In many occasions I really got bored with a series and couldn’t make it past book three, before wanting to hurl books across the room. It’s easy to judge as a reader, but as a writer… it’s not easy to create a subtle and natural growth for your characters.

One of the writers who does this really well is JK Rowling. Harry Potter went through an amazing journey and grew up throughout the books, while he still remained a believable character. I really admire JK’s skill… especially now that I’m attempting to do the same. Coyote started off as a 23 year old, so her growth should not be as steep as Harry Potter’s. However her discovery (not going to give spoilers, so read the book, lol) will change her, and the dynamics in the relationships.

And then there are the other characters around her who need to grow as well. I can’t keep Caesar as her shadow throughout five books, I need to give him his own journey, without taking away from the original feel of the stories.

When I wrote Coyote I wanted the books to be fun. But fun should be interspersed with a little bit of tragedy too, to keep the story interesting. It’s difficult to find the balance in having a more in depth storyline, while still making it fun. I have more experience in writing horror and misery than I have in writing ‘fun’, so there lies another challenge.

Right now I’m juggling with characters and relationships and still having the story move forwards. At the same time I’m trying to remember the little inane details about the characters I’ve used in the books before.

Today I was wondering what I named Coyote’s horse. The plan for her horse was to make it her mother’s horse and make it an Outlander too, but somewhere along the line I decided that this would be too much ‘loose plot’ and wouldn’t really add to the story, so I took that part out… but I actually didn’t remember if I named the horse or not. Little things like that can get confusing. I try to keep a lot of notes, but remembering what Savage Sam looked like made me have to go through the book again.

It’s fun writing sequels, but it’s a lot harder than I gave it credit for. I hope I can make a nice series out of the Coyote novels, and keep my readers interested and not invoke the ‘I want to throw the book across the room’ feelings.  





zaterdag 30 november 2013

Writing as a hobby vs writing as a job.


“So, you’re a writer?”

“Yes.”

“That’s nice. I do a bit of a writing too. Might put my book out there some time.”

“Great.”

I never know how to respond to these kind of things. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when people write as a hobby, it’s great. Everyone should write, it’s good for your creativity. But it’s not the same to write as a hobby as it is for your job. It’s like me going to the dentist and saying “I pulled out my own loose teeth when I was young”, and expecting him to think I do the same work as he does. I know Amazon has made it easy to publish, and in many ways that’s a good thing. But please don’t publish your book unless you are serious about being a writer.

A nice story idea does not necessarily make a nice book. You know what makes a nice book? Hard work. With a few exceptions, most writers don’t have a perfect first draft. A lot of us have to write, rewrite, have beta-readers look at it, rewrite some more, get an editor, edit back and forth and polish a book before it’s finished. Those who do have good first drafts tend to take a long time, and in my opinion, they still need to do the editing dance.

Writing is more than just the story, writing is also about the writing itself, and about the character building and the world building. The story tends to be the easiest part. But how do you keep your characters consistent?  Are you sure your language isn’t repetitive? Or passive? Are you drawing your readers in? Are you staying true to the reality you’ve created? Does your story work or are there plot-holes? Is what you’re describing physically possible, and if not, do you have a good explanation why this is happening? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself.

I’m challenging myself with my latest project ‘Alleria’. I’ve written an entire book in 1st person present tense. Let me tell you, it’s tough. I can do short stories like this, but an entire novel gives me a challenge. For one, the whole book is in my character’s head. I can’t have too many flashbacks, because that would make the story passive –but would also mess with the present tense thing and make the book confusing. So everything needs to be explained along the way. And in such a way that I stay true to my character without making her annoying or repetitive. This is harder than it sounds. So far I’ve written a monstrous first draft, but I think there is a story there. I’m very limited because I can’t go outside of my character’s mind in a way, we only see what she sees, and feel what she feels. On top of that I decided to write high fantasy romance. As you might have guessed… this is not my genre. I like writing about strong women, and guess what: my character starts out as an underdog. Not that those aren’t strong, but she’s been suppressed for such a long time, that I had troubles getting her out of her submissive state and still make it realistic. Between you and me, I don’t think I’ve quite succeeded in that yet. I will have to seriously polish her up in the rewrites.

And how to write romance without too much doting? Personally I hate insipid characters that swoon and faint over a man. But I do like a good bit of tension and attention between two characters, but to get that on paper is a whole different story. Some people are naturals at romance, yet a lot of romance is highly dramatic, and that doesn’t suit my reading and writing style. So, I’m faced with many dilemmas during this project. What do I want from my characters?

It only took me three weeks to write ‘Alleria’, I did it for my NaNoWriMo project. That’s just the first draft though. I think it’ll take me at least half a year to sort it out and get it polished the way I want it to. My first step now is to let a beta-reader look at it. I’m too close to this thing, and I can’t see what works and what doesn’t. With those notes I will cut pieces out and add other pieces. Then I’ll make a new draft, give it a little rough edit and will test it on someone again. If it works, then I’ll start the editing dance with Apple. This is the most arduous process, and also the most frustrating. At several times I will be convinced this book is absolute drivel and no one will want to read it (in fact, I went through 2 of those moments already, whilst writing)

By the time the editing dance is finished, I will be sick of my own book. Not because it’s bad, but because it has taken up 80% of my life for several months. I will have read, re-read, written and rewritten every chapter numerous times until my eyes have gone cross-eyed. I will have laughed and cried, been angry, upset, happy and proud at different stages of the project. It’s my process.

I’m not saying every writer has the same process. We go through our own writing journey. What I am saying is that you can tell the difference between someone who takes it serious, and someone who writes for a hobby. There is nothing wrong with having writing as a hobby, and if you want to step it up a notch, that’s fine too. But then you need to accept it will take time and hard work to get your book the way you want it to be. Don’t just put your work on Amazon because your friends liked it, if you’re going to charge people money be professional about it.

vrijdag 29 november 2013

Thankful


To all those who celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday. And to all those celebrating Hanukkah:  Happy Hanukkah! And to everyone else: TGIF!

I decided to take the day off today, but in my case that usually means that I’m blogging, doing promotional work or something else. The only time I can truly step away from writing is if I actually leave the house and use my phone for nothing but taking pictures of my beautiful daughter.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining. Obsessed? Yeah, maybe, but I do love my job. It’s a struggle and hard work, but I celebrate the little rewards. Hopefully I get to share some good news with everyone soon! I live for moments like that.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought it would be nice to write a blog about what I’m thankful about. I’ll keep it to work related things, because I’m sure people don’t want to hear sap stories about how happy I am with my husband and child *grin* (now… let’s see how many times I can put the word ‘thankful in one blog, shall we?)

A year ago I had no idea I would be where I am right now. I was still in shock that people actually wanted to publish my work back then, and now I’m working on new changes and exciting projects. I actually have editors ask ‘me’ for work now, and I can tell you: that doesn’t suck!

I’m very thankful for the journey I’ve been on. It’s been a mad ride all the way. I had to get over some serious insecurities to take certain steps, and I’m learning more every day. From last November to this year I was privileged to be a part of a lot of exciting projects and I got to meet a lot of wonderful new people that have enriched my (writing) life (but also the rest of my life really).

I’m thankful for the great response my books have gotten, and for the things I’ve learned about writing. I’m thankful for my editor, Apple Ardent Scott, and for the fun we have during the editing dance.

I’m thankful for people who call themselves my fans. I like to call them wonderful gifts of humanity (no I’m not drunk, just a little sentimental –which is just as bad, or maybe worse) I’m thankful that my work gets read, I can’t tell you what that does for me. I might not be rich and famous, but it’s wonderful knowing that people out there enjoy what I write.  I’m thankful for the ridiculous amount of inspiration I have (though I wish I could write and edit faster, so I could write all the stories that bug me at night). And I’m thankful for the person who invented notepads, so I can stop tormenting myself and write ideas down *chuckles*. It’s been a weird year, with ups and downs. I wonder what will happen next year, because I have the feeling life has so much more in store for me.

If you are reading this, I guess I’m thankful for one more thing: I’m thankful for you! You took the time to look into my life and my work, and that’s great. So… Thank you ;)

zaterdag 2 november 2013

OUT NOW!! DEEPLY TWISTED


Yay, it’s here!  A little later than expected and we’re not ready with the paperback versions yet (November 8th will be the day), but it’s here.

20 of my stories now bundled in one collection.

 

So without further ado, I would like to present to you: DEEPLY TWISTED!

"A mother murders her eldest dauther. A clock appears in the middle of a park. A one-eyed man with a raven on his shoulder joins three homeless men on a chilly night...

Embrace the night and all its terrors in this macabre gallery of monsters. The living and the dead, the spectral and the material -- horrifying visions from the tormented mind of Chantal Noordeloos. Your nightmares will never be the same."





 


Ode to a very special person


People always tell me “write for yourself, not for others.” I don’t, I really don’t. I’ll write what I like to write, but I want to share my world with other people. If I didn’t, I would have picked a different job. And so I do think of an audience, though I know I can’t please everyone. I want readers, and preferably lots of them (duh) and I want to share my world with them. I love it when people tell me they enjoyed my work.

So far my friends have been very kind about my writing. But then again.. aren’t everyone’s friends nice to them about their writing. I can’t help it, when friends tell me they like my work, I always wonder how much our friendship will influence their opinion.

And then I got a friend request from a guy on Facebook (I won’t name him by name, because I don’t know if he would appreciate that, but… you know who you are) and he wrote me a message that he read Coyote and he wanted to seek me out.

I. Was. Stunned.

There was a reader who liked my so much that he wanted to know what I was about. I told my husband “Someone I don’t know just told me he likes my work.” And we both did the little high five and squee thing. Daan said “You have a fan.” I waved it away… too soon to have fans. But then this guy apologized for being such a ‘fanboy’ (can you imagine, he actually apologized?? I was waving at the screen for him not to say sorry)

For me it was the first time I ever considered I might actually have fans. And I can tell you, it feels freaking GREAT. Of course by now the guy has become one of my friends. It’s hard not to like him, he is so incredibly sweet and lovely, I’m honored to know him! He introduced me to this wonderful woman who blogs (you can find her here: http://beckisbookblog.wordpress.com/) who has really put my work into the spotlight. I’m so humbled by all this kindness and attention.

So I wanted to write this blog, for this guy who really makes me smile. Thanks for being there!  

maandag 28 oktober 2013

Out of the Storm

video
This is my podcast for the Wicked Women Writing competition. I read the story myself. My assignment was to write a story about a Super Storm. The location I was in was a haunted hotel, I had the disadvantage of being alone, and my useful item was a piece of rope. It was difficult combining these things into one story, but the worst was making the story fit in 10 minutes. I had to be careful with my words. You can find this story in my collection 'DEEPLY TWISTED'. 

zondag 27 oktober 2013

Coming Soon!! DEEPLY TWISTED


Main manuscript?

Check

Book Cover? (And look how pretty it turned out… wooot)

Check

Publisher doing his thing?

Check!



It’s that time again, the time of the pre-publishing jitters. Only a little piece of the puzzle needs to be added, and we are ready to rock and roll… or something. Hopefully by October 31st we’ll have a finished e-book version of my new horror collection ‘DEEPLY TWISTED’. On November 8th I’m hoping to put the paperback version out into the world, and we’ll turn it into a bit of an online party again. *puts on a party hat*

Made a t-shirt design again, and the lovely Leslie (our hostess) will get her friend to make more gorgeous trinkets (which I always want to keep for myself, I have to admit) to spoil the party goers with. It’ll be a hoot, it was last time!

Some of the stories in this collection have seen the publishing light of day before, but I like having all my work bundled together. A lot of work has never before been published, so don’t worry if you think you’ll have read them all. Even the work that’s been in anthologies has been revamped (no Halloween pun intended)

I loved working on this collection, I think it shows a lot of *me*. Some stories were written especially for certain themes, which was challenging.

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine, and she told me she was happy that I was going to publish something horror themed. She told me that she loved Coyote, but that horror was where my strength lies. It made me think.

I like horror, and I always call it my ‘go to genre’. It’s true, I can always come up with a horror story (not always in the theme people give me, but that’s beside the point). Of course the challenge is to stay original, if there is anything that is still truly original. Personally I am very creeped out by scary little girls, so they will often be the central monster in my stories – it’s important that I don’t just write the same story over and over again, with different characters.  
  Scary is a little like funny, it’s very personal. What scares me enough to want to hide under the covers of my bed might bore another person to tears. So if I try to impress people with my monsters, they might not find them that interesting. Rather than trying to be scary, I try to write a ‘good’ story, that way if people aren’t scared they’ll still like it. I’ve had reactions of people who were freaked out by some of the things I wrote, and that does my ole heart some good. Having an effect on people is what I long for. If one of my stories evoked emotion or made people think, I’m a happy woman.

October 31st is coming up fast, and I’m excited to share my collection with the world. I hope the readers will like it. Coyote was a little easier for me to promote through my artwork, because it had set characters that were more accessible for drawing. I made a few little doodles. It’ll be more difficult for me to make very specified games for the book party too, but I’ll think of something, I’m sure.

After this book launch I’ll be focusing on my next two projects. One will be my NaNoWriMo project, which will be an epic fantasy novel, and the next will be my “EVEN HELL HAS STANDARDS” series, which might turn out to be my most provocative piece up to now. I’m looking forward to both.

 

woensdag 16 oktober 2013

Some minor fears


The first story I ever published was “Only Forgotten,” which was a short story about Hell, and most
of all ‘redemption’. The idea behind it is something that is really close to me, and when I wrote ‘Tiffany’s Model Affair’ for a Hell anthology, I knew I wanted more with these two stories. The concept of redemption and Hell appealed to me, and I thought it would be nice to turn this into a series. I decided it would be nice to incorporate the seven sins in this series, which would be a good excuse to write seven separate stories. After talking to my friend April, she came up with a great title for the series ‘Even Hell Has Standards’, and thus the idea was born.

Enthused I began to jot ideas down for the different sins. Adolf Zakerny, the main character from Only Forgotten will play a larger role in the first book, and his sin is Pride. Tiffany will get a different name and her sin is Envy. Soon other ideas followed, and one of the tortured souls in Hell in Only Forgotten will get her own story.

As I write, I have to admit, I’m worried about how the world receives these stories. I plan to make them controversial, because I believe those are the stories that need to be told. I know that there will be people that will hate them, because I don’t plan to tell nice little stories. Topics I want to use are abuse, murder and pedophilia for a start. I don’t mean to glorify them, but they’re not the typical horror topics. Now I know not everyone can like what you write, but the thing that bothers me most is that I will probably offend a lot of people. I don’t like offending, I don’t mock other people’s beliefs or lifestyles. Yet at the same time, it’s hard not to offend with a topic like this. My version of Hell is not exactly the same as most other versions. That’s what I like about it too. I like that it’s different and that it makes you think. To provoke thoughts and discussions in readers is something I like to strive for. I would love for my work to make an impact on someone. That’s the stuff I dream about.

So I am going to write this series. And all I can do is hope that I won’t offend too much. That people won’t decide my writing isn’t worth it because of this. It’s a pretty scary risk for a beginning writer like myself. We’ll have to see where it goes.  

zondag 13 oktober 2013

Blog swap

I like to try new things, and one of the things I hadn't tried before is a blog swap! I haven't read the novel myself yet, but I'm sure to do so, because it looks very cool!

Without further ado (who wants to hear me waffle on anyway) I would like to introduce you to Tara Mara. In fact, I'll let her talk about her book herself: (enjoy!)


The Unfinished Song (Book 1): Initiate by Tara Maya

 

BLURB

DEADLY INITIATION

 

A DETERMINED GIRL...

Dindi can't do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi's clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.

 

 

AN EXILED WARRIOR...

Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn't commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don't kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father's wars and his mother's curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her... assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.

 

 

EXCERPT

Blue-skinned rusalki grappled Dindi under the churning surface of the river. She could feel their claws dig into her arms. Their riverweed-like hair entangled her legs when she tried to kick back to the surface. She only managed to gulp a few breaths of air before they pulled her under again.

 

She hadn't appreciated how fast and deep the river was. On her second gasp for air, she saw that the current was already dragging her out of sight of the screaming girls on the bank. A whirlpool of froth and fae roiled between two large rocks in the middle of the river. The rusalka and her sisters tugged Dindi toward it. Other water fae joined the rusalki. Long snouted pookas, turtle-like kappas and hairy-armed gwyllions all swam around her, leading her to the whirlpool, where even more fae swirled in the whitewater.

 

"Join our circle, Dindi!" the fae voices gurgled under the water. "Dance with us forever!"

 

"No!" She kicked and swam and stole another gasp for air before they snagged her again. There were so many of them now, all pulling her down, all singing to the tune of the rushing river. She tried to shout, "Dispel!" but swallowed water instead. Her head hit a rock, disorienting her. She sank, this time sure she wouldn't be coming up again.

 

"Dispel!" It was a man's voice.

 

Strong arms encircled her and lifted her until her arms and head broke the surface. Her rescuer swam with her toward the shore. He overpowered the current, he shrugged aside the hands of the water faeries stroking his hair and arms. When he reached the shallows, he scooped Dindi into his arms and carried her the rest of the way to the grassy bank. He set her down gently.

 

She coughed out some water while he supported her back.

 

"Better?" he asked.

 

She nodded. He was young--only a few years older than she. The aura of confidence and competence he radiated made him seem older. Without knowing quite why, she was certain he was a Tavaedi.

 

"Good." He had a gorgeous smile. A wisp of his dark bangs dangled over one eye. He brushed his dripping hair back over his head.

 

Dindi's hand touched skin--he was not wearing any shirt. Both of them were sopping wet. On him, that meant trickles of water coursed over a bedrock of muscle. As for her, the thin white wrap clung transparently to her body like a wet leaf. She blushed.

 

"It might have been easier to swim if you had let go of that," he teased. He touched her hand, which was closed around something. "What were you holding onto so tightly that it mattered more than drowning?"

 

 

LINKS

Tara’s blog http://bit.ly/12dFdNy

Tara’s Twitter http://bit.ly/162sCtE

The Unfinished Song on Facebook http://on.fb.me/1400mMq


Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/13yM5Dr




 

Initiate is free everywhere except on Barnes and Noble (where it’s $0.99). You can download a free .epub version via Smashwords.

zaterdag 28 september 2013

Book Party


“Have you considered doing an online book party?” Leslie Whitaker asked me on facebook. I had, but I didn’t know what to do with one. “Come join some of mine, then you can see what it’s all about! I can even host it for you if you like.”

How could I refuse such a wonderful offer! Leslie even arranged some little giveaways for the party, because she is fantastic.

Of course, being the nut that I am, I took it all way to serious. I hung out at a couple of parties, and realized that –if done right- these felt like ‘actual’ parties… only online. I’m a big fan of parties, so ‘WIN’!

It got me thinking, that if I wanted to host one of these parties, I wanted to make it all about Coyote. I took notes at the other parties, looked at the games we played and the things that were discussed. Another thing I did was look online how book parties were supposed to work, but to be honest, I found more about the benefits about them, rather than how to host a good one.

On my notepad I had games scribbled like “Caption this”, but I wanted more than that. After a little surfing around I came across a few others that would be suitable as timeline games. Instead of taking them from the pages, I decided to make them myself. I hoped that it would add to the theme of the novel.


It was quite a bit of work, I have to admit. And the last day was a little stressed, but I felt very happy with the end results. I drew four ‘caption this’ games, and used three of my old drawings for ‘spot the difference’ games. The rest of the games were just written.

The games were only part of the party, in order to do a promotion party, we also needed to have some prizes. The main prize was easy: get a copy of the book. I had this idea of doing t-shirts. It took a while to convince Daan. I have a beautiful cover, but somehow it just didn’t feel right just to put a cover on the t-shirt, I wanted it to appeal to none readers too. So we used one of my silhouette drawings instead and put it on a black t-shirt. Daan pointed out that
if I wanted a bigger appeal, it needed a catchy title. I played with quotes like “Steampunk happens when Goths discover brown.” But it just wasn’t right.

After a lot of banter and quoting famous cowboys, I actually came up with something we all (I involved Apple in the conversation by now) agreed on: “Hot Shot”.

The t-shirt design is pretty awesome if I do say so myself. And so another prize was born.

Leslie suggested that I would give away some prints of my work. That felt very weird, because I don’t consider myself a ‘real artist’, but a hobbyist. It felt silly to consider my work as a prize. But Daan and Apple responded positive to this, so I decided… what the heck?

Together with Leslies lovely accessories, we had quite a few prizes to give away.

On the day of the party, we were really busy trying to set everything up. The last games needed finishing and I was trying to get some more people to attend. I decided I wanted to make a video too, to welcome the people personally. Taping your own face is awkward at best, if you ask me, and I felt a little loopy. The guests were really positive about it (though it could just be that they were humoring me *grin*). If you want to see it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xreQxmu1odo&feature=youtu.be (the sound got a little messed up when Daan made it sepia, so it’s very soft) I look like a bit of a lemon, and the hat on my head is a bowler… which is not very clear (there went my cool theme)

The fun started at least an hour and a half before the party started. People were popping in and saying hello. Bringing virtual drinks and having a little bit of chit chat. I was still frantically working on the
last games, to catch much of it.

At 18:00 local time, some of my friends came over, for support. We quickly ordered  a pizza, and I was in ‘chaotic Chanti mode’, which is funny to watch, less funny to be *grin*.

At 19:00 the party was already ‘packed’ and we each took place behind an internet device (it was hilarious, I was on the computer. Daan was on the laptop. My friend Arjan used the ipod, and my friend Stefana was on her cellphone, all at the same event.

Leslie, our main hostess, was brilliant. She played the games and monitored them, I was too busy to try and figure out what is happening. In our house, you could hear the crickets chirp… that’s how quiet we were; we all were completely focused on the event. Afterwards we joked about how we all sat and stared at a screen. The crazy thing was; we felt really involved and active. It was difficult to keep up with everything that was going on (but I really tried)

I loved seeing the reactions to my game, and I loved how people came up with the funniest things for the ‘caption this’ games. It was a blast.

In the end we had 120 guest, though I have no idea how many of them were truly active. Some people popped in and out, and we probably had some people that kept quiet too, and just watched.

It was a lot of fun to do. I really hope the people really enjoyed themselves. I know I did. I liked giving away things too, that felt nice.

Now the next day, I feel drained, as if I had a ‘real’ party all night. This was quite intense, but such a great laugh! I would definitely do it again!