maandag 29 december 2014

End of the year ramblings

The end of 2014 is approaching , and I, for one, donned on my steel toe boots to give it a firm kicking in the behind as it goes. “Sayonara Sucker!!”

On a personal level this year has been a dastardly villain from a silent movie, twirling its handlebar moustache at me. Yet, at the same time, I think I needed to be tormented to make a fresh start, to reinvent myself and become a happier person.

Career wise 2014 has been quite pleasant. It took a long slow start, but this was the year where people started to notice my writing a bit more. Especially the horror community has made me feel very loved this year as an author, but also as a person.

In the middle of this year the first short story of Even Hell Has Standards came out, called Pride.  Getting it out there was a challenge, and there was a moment I almost quit writing all together, but
once it was out in the world, it became the stepping stone to Angel Manor, my first full novel.

The year was a bit of a roller coaster of productivity. There were moments were crippling self doubt made me discard everything I wrote and start over again. At the same time I’ve written three full novels, and rewritten a novella into a novel, so it’s not been a total waste. Two of the three novels (and the rewrite) have been published this year, for the third (Alleria) I’m still looking for a nice home (and hopefully an agent)

This year has been the perfect set up for a great 2015. I have found the team I like to work with, and I’ve been very fortunate in working with all the talented people so far. My editors, Lisa Lane and Lisa Jenkins have not only been fantastic and professional, but they’ve taught me a lot about my trait, and I’m very grateful for them. I got to work with two awesome artists too, Stephen Bryant and Paul Chapman, who produced some of the best looking covers I have ever seen. It was a special privilege to work with Lori Michelle, who was the formatter for the Coyote novels. It was a real pleasure to work with her. Another exciting thing was that my books (Deeply Twisted and in the future Angel Manor) are going to be converted to audio books by one of my favorite narrators, Chris Barnes. I am so excited about this.
Publishing Angel Manor has been a particular joy for me. I think it’s a blessing that I submitted it to Horrific Tales Publishing. I knew it would be a good fit, and I’m glad that the publisher, Graeme Reynolds thought so too.

For me it was very humbling to see how well Angel Manor was received. People really helped create a buzz, and I watched breathlessly as I saw the novel rise in the ranks. It was beautiful to witness. Everywhere I looked I saw people talking about Angel Manor, and it was really a dream come true for me. I don’t think the readers will ever realize how much they really mean to me.

When we hosted the book party, and a lot of Facebook friends (and people I didn’t know for that matter) dressed up as nuns, taking selfies to support the book, it blew my mind. I laughed till I cried at all the nun jokes and ‘caption this’ comments.
Then, to my surprise, we managed to repeat the success of the book party for Coyote: The Clockwork Dragonfly. Even more people dressed up and made the most creative wanted posters. I was amazed.

To be honest, I haven’t found the target audience for the Coyote series yet. It’s on my list to work on for 2015. Being a slipstream genre hopper isn’t easy, but I couldn’t imagine being anything else.

So, 2014 got me noticed, on to 2015 to expand my loyal readers base, to find people who enjoy my work. I still have the dream of finding an agent and getting some of my work traditionally published, but in the meanwhile I’m very happy with the independent publishers I work with.

I’m ambitious and have many plans for 2015, here are some of them.
1.      Angel Manor is part of the Lucifer Falls trilogy, I plan to publish the second book late 2015
2.      Around the summer I want to publish the third book of the Coyote series, called Coyote: The Rip Walker.
3.      The first book in my Celestials series (I haven’t decided on a title yet) will be written. I don’t know where I’ll submit it yet, because I’m not sure what exact genre it’s going to be. This is a book I’ve been mentally working on for 15 years at least, and I have written it several times, but just wasn’t satisfied with it. This year I will finish it. I’m going to set it in the same reality as the Lucifer Falls series and the books will have a few plots intertwined. It’s also going to have common ground with the Even Hell Has Standards series.
4.      I shall either write my coming of age horror novel (no title yet), or my thriller ‘Man’s World’. If time permits me, I shall write both, but I don’t know if I can.
5.      There will be a second story to the Even Hell Has Standards series. I’m thinking it will be Wrath. I struggle writing these, because the real life horror I had to research has a rather intense effect on me. I do want to have them written though.
6.      Though I said I wasn’t going to write for anthologies, I have at least one anthology in mind that I’m going to submit a story to.
7.      Aside from writing, I need to work on my marketing skills. One of the things I plan to do is attend more conventions. I already have two planned for next year, and I’m hoping a third, if finances will allow it. I want to get closer to the readers, and be more prolific.

Aside from all these career changes, I am planning to make a lot of changes in my personal life. 2014 rubbed my face in it, and showed me why I was so miserable for the last two years. This is not me, I’m all about the fun and the shenanigans, so I intend to spend my life celebrating them. I will think more positively, lower my ridiculously high standards of what I must achieve, and feel like less of a failure. There are so many great adventures to be had, and I want to have them all. Next year I will find more balance between work and free time, and I will start to enjoy life again, both as a mother, but also as an individual and a wife.

Bring on 2015, I won’t claim I shall own it, but I’m definitely ready for the change this time.

donderdag 4 december 2014


*lights a campfire and hands you a marshmallow*
Howdy partner… I mean… ehm, welcome to my blog. We’re not in the Weird West, I know, but I’m going with a theme here.

So, the Coyote books are coming out… and as usual I HAZ EXCITEMENT!! (and a teeny tiny bit of stress, that comes with me making things complicated, but more on that later)
Many of you are already familiar with Coyote, because quite a few people have bought the novella. (If you haven’t, don’t buy it now, unless you’re keen on getting something that will be out of print soon… again, more on that later)

 With each book I write, the Coyote-verse expands and becomes more a part of me. I love playing around with the different genres within the setting. A little bit of magic mixed with a lot of strange technology, how can this not be fun?

Coyote came to life many moons ago *cough* when I was a young lass in my early twenties. My friends and I wanted to play a game called “Deadlands” and I created Coyote as my character. In hindsight I think I was very much influenced by the image of Drew Barrymore in ‘Bad Girls’, but I don’t think I was conscious of that at the time. Only when I watched the movie again years later did I have an “Light Bulb” moment.

Coyote was an enjoyable character to play. Aside from her personality, I don’t actually remember much about her, I can’t even remember what background I attributed to her. She didn’t actually become ‘Charlotte Webb’ until I wrote the novella. (Yes it’s my little nod to the novel, whether you like it or not, I really love the name)

I made a few drawings of her around that time, maybe even a few years later, and posted those on my amateur artist page on Elfwood. People really took a liking to Coyote, there’s something extremely fun and sassy about her, and a lot of other artists asked me if they could draw her too. I love Coyote ‘fan-art’ so naturally I encouraged it.
From the very beginning knew I wanted to write a story about this character, and in 2012 I decided it was the right time. I was going to write a short story for an anthology. The theme was science fiction, and I had some great ideas for Coyote.

However, the story wouldn’t be told in under 4000 words, and I ended up with a novella instead. Now I’ve rewritten that novella and turned it into a novel, because that would suit the series better.
I made some very conscious decisions when writing the Coyote-verse. Even though I had no idea what Steampunk was when I started, I knew I wanted to mix realism with magic and technology.  At the same time I tried to paint an almost stereotypical picture of the wild west. Yet at the same time  I wanted to surprise the reader by adding hidden meaning to the setting. My goal is to bring the unexpected within the expected.

Maybe I succeed, maybe I don’t… that’s up to the reader.

Though the setting is weird west, I don’t think it rules the stories. I believe that Coyote is accessible for all types of readers, not only those who like Cowboys and Indians, so to speak. I wrote the setting around the story, not the other way around, and the books are very character driven.

One of the most challenging characters for me was (and still is) writing Caesar. He started off as a sidekick but is growing into much more than that. I wanted an underdog, so I chose a former slave. Since I’ve never been a slave, black, or a man, I’ve had to write his character completely from empathy. It was important to me that Caesar was a contrast to Coyote, so where she was loud and very present, I wanted him to be calm, quiet, and almost invisible. I decided that being born into slavery probably didn’t do his self image too much good, but I didn’t want him to be a victim either, so I gave him an inner strength. To me, he’s one of the most beautiful and complex characters in the series, and I can’t wait to see how people respond to his
personal story.

Writing Coyote is easy. I tap into the life-loving, brazen part of my personality and just go with it. I was extremely sad when the novella first came out and someone said “Oh I’m so over the ‘tough chick’, it’s been done.” Personally I like to think Coyote is more than that. She’s tough, true, but she’s flawed too. I wanted to write a character that girls could look up to, without making her ridiculously perfect. She’s a person, not a superhero.

In the Clockwork Dragonfly I touch upon the ‘larger plot’ that will be spread out over several books. I plan to write at least five, but who knows, if they become a success, and I have more stories to tell, I’ll write more. I don’t want the series to be watered down and uninspired, so unless I have a lot of ideas, I won’t write more than five.

This year, after I had written the Clockwork Dragonfly, I decided to rewrite Coyote: The Outlander. This has made the whole publishing part a little trickier, and I won’t lie… it’s made me go bug-eyed with stress a few times.

Why did I do this? Well, initially because I was considering selling the series to a slightly larger press, but they only accepted full length novels. I really want to get these books in the actual shops and on the shelves, so if someone makes me an offer I can’t refuse, I shall take it.

It did trigger something in me, and I decided I didn’t like the idea of this series starting out with a novella. My OCD determined that the series should consist of books that are roughly the same length.
I had to rebrand ‘Coyote: The Outlander’ anyway. The artist who made the beautiful cover decided to
focus on other elements in his life, rather than his art, and I needed covers that all fitted together.

Luckily the wonderful Paul Chapman wanted to help me out. This would be the perfect opportunity to change the first book, and turn it into a novel. I’m keeping the name, because it fits.

If I’m completely honest, this wasn’t as easy as I thought. I didn’t want to destroy the story of the first book, and I didn’t want to add ‘forced bits’. The sequel was already written, so I had to keep that in mind too. Plus that I’m a chronological thinker, so in my heart I was already writing book 3. Suddenly I was back in time, and I had to keep in mind that certain things had not happened yet. It was a real struggle, but at the same time, I got to give the world more color, and I loved it. My biggest regret had always been not doing more with Caesar and Tokala in the first book, and now I got to add little bits of information. I even managed to write Jim McLeod –my Scottish friend, who I promised to give a cameo in all my series—into this book. 

It felt very gratifying.

So now the book is more than twice as long. There is still a lot of the old book in there, but even those parts have been rewritten and re-edited. I think it’s a better book for it. But that’s just my humble opinion.

There was another ‘snag’ in this whole ‘rebranding’ idea.

The publishing.

Boy, this part is giving me ulcers. I can’t even tell you. First of all, the date for the Clockwork Dragonfly has been set. December 12th 2014. The book is near ready, so we plan to go ahead with publishing it. Advanced Readers Copies have been handed out, and the book party is planned.

But… the Clockwork Dragonfly is a sequel. It was written after the first version, so it doesn’t need the ‘new’ Outlander, I don’t want to urge people to buy the novella (DON’T!! wait for the new book) This makes it more difficult, because I of course want people to buy the Clockwork Dragonfly when it comes out, and not wait. I’m aware of how unhandy this all is.

I have been working my derriere off to get the Outlander out in time with the Clockwork Dragonfly, but I don’t think we can make it. Hopefully it will be out the week after.
Another thing that bothered me was that people who bought the novella now will be missing out on the new content in the new novel. We considered putting them up under the same ISBN, but we’re not allowed to, the book is too different.

Tip My Hat is going to come up with a nice giveaway to accommodate those who brought the novella, and would like to read the full novel. I don’t know what yet, but I’m sure there will be an announcement soon.

So, it’s been a complicated journey with the Coyote series, but hopefully it’s going to be smoother sailing from here. Next year I’ll write the third book “Coyote: The Rip Walker.” I can’t wait to get started on that one. I really do love this series, and I hope the readers will too.

For now I still need to find the target audience for Weird West / Steampunk books. I know Coyote has a few loyal readers… and if you are one of them, I would like to thank you for your support.