Jen Minkman - YA Paranormal and Dystopian Author: 2014

zondag 30 november 2014

My two-year anniversary as an indie author!

Two years ago, I published Shadow of Time in English after selling the rights to the Dutch book in Holland. I had NO idea what I was doing - I just hit publish on my KDP dashboard and allowed the book to quietly sit there in the Kindle store. It had a crappy cover (or at the very least, it had a cover that didn't tell readers anything about the genre), and it was one book, despite it being over 120,000 words long, plus I didn't have any reviews lined up in December. (They all came in during January!)

Today, I carefully plan my book launches and make sure I have a good cover and at least twenty reviewers ready to post on release day before publication. I'm not often proud of myself, but I can honestly say I'm proud of what I learned and taught myself about indie publishing in the past 2 years, mostly by trial and error.

This is my latest brainchild:

Sound of Sirens (twenty-one reviews on Amazon,3 days after publication)

Now compare this to Shadow of Time as it looked two years ago:

My home-made cover featuring Antelope Canyon! :)

Nowadays, the story of Shadow of Time is sold as a duology in ebook format - it works much better that way and attracts more readers. It also has a very different cover, but looking at this old cover takes me back to December 2012, when it all began! 
To celebrate my 2-year anniversary as an author, I am giving away a copy of Shadow of Time to one lucky winner (if you already own the book and want to tell a friend, please tell them about this giveaway!). I have it available in ebook, paperback or audiobook format (via Audible). All you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below, and the giveaway widget will take care of the rest!

If the widget doesn't work, please enter here! a Rafflecopter giveaway

zondag 9 november 2014

The real island of Skylge

My new book series 'Tales of Skylge' is set on the Dutch island of Terschelling. The first book, 'Sound of Sirens', will be out on November 28th, and I thought it might be nice to give you some visuals of the place. Of course, there are no lethal mermaids circling the island for real (shocker, I know), but a lot of the places in the book do exist, and in this blog post you can see what they look like!

Enna's house. This is where the main character lives together with her brother and father. I stayed in this house during my holiday on Terschelling, because 'De Kleine Vos', as the cottage is called, is a holiday accommodation.

If you walk down the garden path and out the gates, you end up on a cycle path running alongside the dyke protecting the village of Kinnum from winter storms. Most tourists on Skylge cycle everywhere because bike rental is cheap and bringing your car onto the island by ferry is horribly expensive.
Lots of farmers on the island keep sheep for wool and milk, so they are everywhere. They even wandered into our back yard every now and then!

One of the pictures my husband took of the sheep in the meadow close to our cottage. Three years ago, I was still into running and I'd jog along the dyke road for a few miles while being stared at by scores of sheep (you know that starey-eyed look they can give you?). Haha!
When we arrived at the harbor, there were literally hundreds of bikes for rent on the quay. In fact, bikes are popular throughout Holland, but they are especially handy on Terschelling because bringing cars is discouraged, and the island is small enough to tour around by bike in one day.

The view from the dyke near 'Enna's' house. It's low tide here - the best time to go hunting for mussels (they grow on mooring posts) and oysters. Yes, Japanese oysters grow here in the wild! Allegedly they spread due to a foreign trailer ship passing by the island. Since the Japanese oyster doesn't have any natural enemies in this environment (besides humans), they grow like wildfire. They taste really good if you cook them!

This is the middle of the island, the place where Upper Brandaris is in my book. In reality, this is a nature reserve and there's not much here besides dunes, forests and a wide variety of birds. It's beautiful, though. :)
The real town of Brandaris (called 'West-Terschelling', capital of Terschelling). The lighthouse is called Brandaris, though, and was named after St. Brandan. This is where all ships from the mainland arrive (you can see some masts sticking out in the distance).

Griltjeplak, one of the lakes in the middle of Skylge. As you can see, the island really is very flat (as is most of Holland, by the way).

Dead Men's Caskets Lake. This place actually exists. Local legend has it that hundreds of drowned sailors were buried at the bottom because there was no room left in the graveyard. In Sound of Sirens, a forgotten story about this lake pops up in the book Enna steals from Stortum after she breaks into the Skelta's secret headquarters.

And this is the light of the real Brandaris Tower, casting its light over the harbor and warning ships to keep well away from the coast. The waters around Terschelling aren't easy to navigate; many a ship has run aground there.
A picture taken by my husband. It's me on the dyke path close to Kinnum! I only realized a few weeks ago that this author picture (I have two, but I use this one quite frequently) was taken in front of Enna's house, more or less. Back then I didn't know yet I'd write a dystopian/paranormal hybrid novella set on this exact location. Heck, I didn't even know I'd be a writer! This was the summer I was waiting for a publishing house to say yes (and they did!).

Last but not least, here's a little video clip of my own portable wind-up gramophone playing a shellac record by the Venetian Trio. This is the oldest 78 rpm I own (from 1915!). Back in those days, they couldn't do electronic recordings yet, so the musicians were all gathered as close to the horn attached to the recording device as possible, and the sound was pretty low. In the case of the Skylgers in the story, their own local artists could only produce low-volume shellac records like these (after all, Enna's people don't own anything electronic). The mainland recordings that Enna and Dani listen to in the story are louder, though, because they were recorded by Anglians with electronic equipment on shellac. Wind-up gramophones (or phonographs) were used well into the fifties in Europe and the US, and in India until the sixties and seventies, because many people didn't have electricity at home in those regions.

maandag 20 oktober 2014

The house of Virginia Woolf

In my family, we have a long-standing tradition of visiting houses that famous writers used to live and work in. We've been to Agatha Christie's house, the Bronte sisters' house as well as Jane Austen's humble abode, and a few days ago it was time for Virginia Woolf's former country home!

The house as seen from the side.
My mom and sister are just walking
up to the gate in this pic.
The main house. You can't see it in this picture, but the garden surrounding the Woolf estate is gigantic. The family owned a house in London, but this is where Virginia came to relax and find the peace and quiet in order to do her writing. A cool thing I found out is that you can rent a studio adjacent to the house and get inspired to write your own novel staying in a room next to Virginia's bedroom! And if you think it's way too expensive to be affordable, think again - in the low season, they only charge about 320 pounds sterling for a full week. The studio has a double bed and a charming little kitchen and bathroom. Methinks I will give this a try if I have some spare time and money. I already feel inspired just thinking about it! :)

The main house is not where Virginia sat down to write, though - since everybody in the village was used to popping in for tea and a nice chat throughout the day, she'd hide in her garden shed, called 'The Writing Room'. This is what it looked like on the inside. The desk is original!
It's difficult to see through the window because the light is so bright, but she had a magnificent view of the Sussex hills from her window. Nobody would bother her in here, because all her friends knew that the writing room was off-limits. Her husband would bring her tea and sandwiches in the morning and afternoon by just quickly popping in and out. No talking because he knew it would break her concentration. Leonard Woolf and she founded Hogarth Press in 1917, a small publishing house, to be able to publish new literature that the big publishing houses didn't want to take a chance on. Without Hogarth Press, we may never have been able to read Virginia Woolf's work, nor would T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land have seen the light of day.

This is what The Writing Room looks like from the outside these days. The front section is new, but once you go inside you can see what the shed originally looked like.

In wintertime, the weather would be too severe to do any outdoors writing, so that's when Virginia retreated into her private bedroom to enjoy the heat from the fireplace and draw up a chair to sit there writing on a kneeboard on her lap (you can see the original fireplace in the photo). As you can see, she also had lots of books on her shelves - the woman didn't just like writing, she was also an avid reader! I guess most writers are... I don't think I'd ever have thought of writing a book if I hadn't been fond of reading them.

donderdag 25 september 2014

Las Olas

El primer recuerdo que tengo de mi abuelo es de un momento que compartimos juntos.

Estoy sentado en su rodilla mirando hacia el puerto. El abuelo está fumando su pipa. Señala hacia el horizonte. "Mira, Walt. Nuestros barcos están ahí fuera. Y un día, otro barco aún más hermoso aparecerá en el horizonte. Un poderoso barco que nos llevará a todos."

"¿A dónde, abuelo?" Pregunto con curiosidad.

 Él permanece tranquilo. "Nadie sabe exactamente", dice al fin," pero eso no lo hace menos fantástico. Un día, la nave entrará. Y Annabelle estará en la proa con los brazos abiertos, invitando a todos a subir a bordo."

La Diosa con el pelo negro ondeando en el viento, tal como está retratada en Muro mayor de nuestro templo.

"¿Y por qué no navegamos hacia a ella nosotros mismos?" Quiero saber.

"Debido a que ella prometió que vendría," El abuelo responde. "Y en esa promesa confiamos. Son solamente los Incrédulos que piensan que pueden hacerlo todo ellos mismos. Ellos no tienen fe en nuestra Diosa.”

Walt vive en Hope Harbor, una comunidad de la isla que ha puesto su confianza en que la salvación vendrá a través del mar. La gente del pueblo espera con paciencia, construye sus barcos para salir a navegar y dar la bienvenida a la diosa, y piadosamente visitan el templo cada semana. Horror stories to scare their children are told about the Unbelievers on the other side of Tresco. Para asustarlos,  cuentan a sus hijos historias de horror acerca de los infieles en el otro lado de Tresco.
Pero no todo es lo que parece. Walt tiene preguntas que nadie puede responder, y cuando su mejor amigo y primo Yorrick muere en un accidente, él cava más profundo para encontrar la verdad acerca de los orígenes de la sociedad de Hope Harbor ... y los secretos del templo.

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Les Vagues

Le premier souvenir que j’ai de mon grand-père est un moment que nous avons partagé ensemble.
Je suis assis sur ses genoux en regardant vers le port. Grand-père fume une pipe. Il pointe vers l'horizon. “Regarde, Walt. Nos navires sont là-bas. Et un jour, un autre navire encore plus magnifique apparaitra à l'horizon. Un navire puissant qui nous emmènera tous. Et Annabelle sera à la proue, les bras ouverts, nous invitant tous à bord.”
“Pourquoi ne naviguons-nous pas vers elle nous-mêmes?” je veux savoir.
“Car elle a promis qu'elle viendrait,” répond Grand-père. “Et nous croyons en cette promesse. Seuls les Non-croyants pensent qu'ils peuvent faire tout, tous seuls. Ils n'ont pas foi en la Déesse.”
Walt vit à Port d’Espoir, une communauté insulaire qui attend un salut venant d’au-delà des Eaux.
Les citoyens attendant patiemment, construisent des navires pour aller accueillir la Déesse, et visitent pieusement le temple chaque semaine. Des histoires d’horreur sont racontées aux enfants sur les Non-croyants vivant de l’autre côté de Tresco pour les effrayer.
Mais tout n’est pas ce qu’il semble. Walt a des questions que personne ne peut répondre, et quand son meilleur ami et cousin Yorrick est assassiné devant ses yeux, il creuse plus profond pour trouver la vérité sur les origines de la société de Port d’Espoir… et sur les secrets du temple.

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La Isla

«Me dirijo al mar. La superficie infinita del agua se extiende por el horizonte, mire donde mire. 
Nuestro mundo es un lugar pequeño. Estamos solos y no hay nada más de lo que podamos depender más que de nosotros mismos. Confiamos en la Fuerza que se esconde en nuestro interior, como nos enseñaron nuestros antepasados. 
Si caminara hacia el oeste, me toparía con una barrera… el Muro. Detrás de él, viven los Locos. Al menos, eso es lo que todo el mundo dice. 
Nunca he visto ninguno.»

Leia vive en la Isla, un mundo en el que los niños dejan a sus padres para aprender a cuidar de sí mismos cuando cumplen los diez años. A lo largo de la Isla, hay un Muro que nadie ha cruzado jamás. Los Locos que viven tras él no atienden a razones… viven de ilusiones. Eso es lo que El Libro dice, lo único que los ancestros les han dejado a los habitantes del este de la isla. 
Pero cuando un extraño aparece en la costa y Leia se encuentra cara a cara con un Loco, su vida nunca más volverá a ser la misma. ¿Es verdad todo lo que ella y sus amigos siempre han creído sobre la Isla? 

¿O es que todo el mundo es, de hecho, un Loco?

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A Ilha

«A interminável superfície da água perde-se no horizonte, para onde quer que olhe.»
«O nosso mundo é pequeno. Estamos por nossa conta e só podemos confiar na Força em nós, segundo os nossos antepassados.»
Se seguisse daqui para oeste, encontraria uma barreira – o Muro que não devemos passar. Do outro lado estão os Tolos. Pelo menos é isso que diz toda a gente.»
«Nunca vi nenhum.»

Leia vive na Ilha, um mundo onde as crianças deixam os pais e se tornam independentes aos dez anos. Essa ilha é atravessada por um muro que nunca ninguém passou. Os Tolos que vivem do outro lado, seres humanos pouco dados à razão – só acreditam em ilusões. É isso que diz o Livro – a única coisa que ficou dos antepassados da população do lado oriental da Ilha.
Mas quando um desconhecido dá à costa, Leia conhece finalmente um Tolo cara a cara e a sua vida muda para sempre. Será mesmo verdade aquilo que ela e os amigos suspeitam acerca da Ilha?

Ou serão todos no seu mundo realmente Tolos?

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‘Cammino verso il mare, la superficie infinita dell'acqua si estende fino all'orizzonte in qualunque direzione mi volti.
Il nostro mondo è piccolo. Siamo soli e dipendiamo solo dalla Forza che abbiamo dentro di noi, è quello che ci hanno insegnato i nostri antenati. 
Se dovessi camminare verso ovest da qui troverei una barriera, la Muraglia. Dietro di essa, i Folli. O almeno così dicono tutti.
Io non ne ho mai visto uno.’

Leia vive sull’isola, un mondo in cui I bambini lasciano i loro genitori all’età di dieci anni e iniziano a cavarsela da soli. Lungo l’isola scorre una muraglia che nessuno ha mai attraversato. Non si può ragionare coi Folli che vivono dall’altra parte, credono in cose che non esistono. Questo è ciò che dice il libro, l’unico lascito degli antenati agli abitanti dell’est dell’isola.
Ma quando sulla spiaggia approda un uomo e Leia si ritrova faccia a faccia con un Folle, la sua vita cambia radicalmente: ciò in cui lei e i suoi amici hanno sempre creduto sull’isola è la verità?
Oppure tutti, nel loro mondo, sono in realtà dei Folli?

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Die Insel

“Ich laufe auf das Meer zu. Die Wasser­oberfläche erstreckt sich endlos bis zum Horizont, in welche Richtung ich auch schaue. Unsere Welt ist klein. Wir sind auf uns selbst gestellt und können uns nur auf uns selbst verlassen. Wir vertrauen auf die Macht tief in uns, wie unsere Vorväter es uns lehrten. 
Würde ich mich von hier nach Westen wenden, würde ich auf eine Barriere stoßen – auf die Mauer. Dahinter sind die Narren. Zumindest sagt das jeder. Ich habe nie einen gesehen.” 

Leia lebt auf der Insel. In einer Welt, in der Kinder ihre Eltern im Alter von zehn Jahren verlassen, um auf eigenen Füßen zu stehen. Quer über die Insel erstreckt sich eine Mauer, die niemand je übertreten hat. Die Narren auf der anderen Seite sind nicht empfänglich für Vernunft – sie glauben an Illusionen. So besagt es die Schrift, die einzige Hinterlassenschaft von den Vorfahren, die den Ostländern noch erhalten ist. 

Als ein fremder Mann an den Strand gespült wird, trifft Leia zum ersten mal einen Narren von Angesicht zu Angesicht – und ihr Leben wird nie wieder so sein wie es war. Ist das, was sie und ihre Freunde über die Insel glauben, wirklich die Wahrheit? 

Oder sind die Menschen hier, in ihrer Welt, die eigentlichen Narren?

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‘Je marche vers la mer. La surface infinie de l’eau se prolonge jusqu’à l’horizon, d’où que je regarde.
Notre monde est petit. Nous sommes livrés à nous, et ne dépendons que de nous-mêmes. Nous dépendons de la Force enfouie profondément en nous, comme nous l’ont enseigné nos ancêtres.
Si je devais marcher d’ici vers l’ouest, je me retrouverais devant une barrière – le Mur. Derrière se trouvent les Idiots. Du moins, c’est ce que tout le monde dit.Je n’en ai jamais vu un.’

Leia vit sur l’Ile, un monde dans lequel enfants quittent leurs parents pour se débrouiller seuls lorsqu’ils atteignent dix ans. À travers cette Ile s’étend un mur que personne n’a jamais franchi. Les Idiots vivant derrière celui-ci ne se prêtent à la raison – ils croient aux illusions. C’est ce que Le Livre dit, le seul objet légué aux insulaires de l’est par leurs ancêtres.

Mais lorsqu’un homme étrange échoue sur le rivage et que Leia rencontre un Idiot en personne, sa vie ne sera plus la même. Les croyances qu’elle et ses amis ont sur l’île sont-elles réellement fondées ?
Ou bien les habitants de leur monde sont-ils en fait tous des Idiots?

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Die Eiland

"Ek loop aan see toe. Die branders borrel en skuim oor my kaalvoete. Seemeeue skree bokant my kop. Die eindelose oppervlakte van die water strek tot aan die horison, watter kant toe ek ookal kyk.
"Ons wereldjie is klein... Ons is op ons eie, en ons het net die Krag diep binne-in ons om op staat te maak. 
"As ek hiervandaan in 'n westelike rigting sou loop, sou ek by 'n versperring kom: die muur. Daaragter is Dwase. Volgens ons voorouers mag ons nie oor die muur klim nie.
"Die Dwase glo nie in hulle eie Krag nie. In plaas daarvan glo hulle aan iets buite hierdie wereld, wat hulle gaan red.
"Niemand wil met sulke idiote meng nie."
Leia woon op die eiland, 'n wereld waar kinders hulle ouers verlaat wanneer hulle tien jaar oud word, om na hulleself om te sien. Oor hierdie eiland is 'n muur gebou waaroor niemand nog ooit geklim het nie. Die Dwase wat aan die ander kant woon, is nie vatbaar vir rede nie. Hulle glo in illusies. Dit is volgens die Boek, al wat die Oostelike Eilandbewoners se voorgeslagte aan hulle nagelaat het.
Maar dan spoel 'n vreemde man op die strand uit, en Leia ontmoet 'n Dwaas van aangesig tot aangesig. En haar lewe is nooit weer dieselfde nie. Is dit wat sy en haar vriende omtrent die eiland glo, regtig waar?
Of is almal in hulle wereld inderdaad Dwase?

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Schaduw van de Tijd

Hannah is helemaal klaar voor een heerlijk rustige zomer na haar eerste werkjaar op een middelbare school. Samen met haar broer Ben gaat ze naar het vakantiehuisje van hun moeder in Arizona. Daar loopt ze Josh, de oude jeugdvriend van Ben, na jaren weer tegen het lijf. De kleine jongen uit het Navajo-reservaat is plotseling niet zo klein meer, en Hannah voelt meer voor de volwassen Josh dan alleen maar vriendschap. 
Maar al snel is het gedaan met de rust. Nacht na nacht wordt Hannah geplaagd door vreemde nachtmerries over het verleden van de Navajo's en griezelige schimmen die haar achtervolgen. De schaduwen komen steeds dichterbij... en waarom komt Josh ook steeds in haar dromen voor? 

Soms is het verleden nog niet echt voorbij. (ebook) / (paperback) / Google Play

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Il Ragazzo Dei Boschi

Julia è innamorata di Michael da anni. È il ragazzo più sexy della scuola e lei non riesce a credere alla sua fortuna quando durante il ballo di fine anno sembrano essersi trovati. Tuttavia, il suo sogno non dura: dopo qualche appuntamento, la lascia improvvisamente senza curarsi dei suoi sentimenti. Le vacanze estive per Julia iniziano nel peggiore dei modi.  
In seguito, durante un temporale, salverà Michael da un incidente con la moto. Da quel momento in poi, la sua vita cambia completamente. Michael sembra totalmente diverso dopo aver quasi perso la vita per un colpo in testa... e la rivuole indietro. Ma perché è così diverso? Lei sarà capace di fidarsi di nuovo di lui?
Il ragazzo che le ha spezzato il cuore, potrà riconquistarla..?

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De Jongen Uit Het Woud

Julia knielde neer bij de roerloze gestalte en zag vol afgrijzen dat de linkerkant van zijn gezicht besmeurd was met bloed. Hij was met zijn hoofd op een puntige steen terecht gekomen. De hoofdwond zag er vreselijk uit. 'Michael?' fluisterde ze zachtjes. Ze legde een trillende hand op zijn voorhoofd. 'Kun je me horen?'

Julia is al jaren verliefd op Michael, de knapste jongen van de school. Wanneer hij haar eindelijk ziet staan, zet hij haar na een paar afspraakjes op kille wijze aan de kant. Julia's zomervakantie begint met een gebroken hart. Een paar dagen later krijgt Michael een motorongeluk en is hij door de klap compleet veranderd. Vanaf dat moment staat haar leven op zijn kop. Michael wil haar terug. Maar waarom is hij zo anders? En kan ze hem nu wél vertrouwen?

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El Chico Del Bosque

Julia lleva años enamorada de Michael, el chico más guapo del instituto, y se siente la persona más afortunada del mundo cuando al fin se besan durante el baile de graduación. Sin embargo, su sueño no dura mucho: tras varias citas, Michael la deja plantada sin piedad. Julia da comienzo a sus vacaciones de verano sumida en la tristeza y el desamor.
Pero, una tarde de tormenta, socorre a Michael tras un accidente de moto en el bosque. Desde ese momento, su vida da un giro radical. Michael ha cambiado por completo tras el golpe en la cabeza que casi lo mata… y quiere recuperarla. Pero ¿por qué está tan distinto? ¿Podrá confiar en él en esta ocasión?
¿Puede el chico que te rompió el corazón volverte a enamorar?

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zaterdag 6 september 2014

Takin' it easy...!

I have to admit, I worked myself into the ground last year. (FYI, I think in 'college' years because I'm in education... so my year stops at the beginning of July and starts again at the beginning of September!)

I wrote a lot on a deadline (wanting to publish part 3 in the Island series in June because of a large promo I did with BookBub) and wanting to translate The Space in Between before the end of July (because I went on vacation to the Philippines in August) almost took me to the brink of burn-out. Having a 4-day job AND spending the other 3 days writing books is not a good idea (hey, where did my weekend go?!).

So I've decided to take things easy for a while. I am now only working 3 days a week in education, so that's a big improvement, plus I'm writing without any deadlines. I am writing for FUN again. :) I know it would be wise from a marketing point of view to publish something new in November before the X-mas season, but I am not going to beat myself up over it if I don't. Tomorrow, my new English book The Space in Between will go on sale, last week the Dutch version of The Boy From The Woods was published, and that should satisfy my fans for the next few months. I have so many ideas I still want to put on paper that I will most likely 'buffer up' and get a pile of books done before publishing anything new, so I can just use my surplus of written work to publish something new with regular intervals.

Three days of teaching, three afternoons of writing and one day off is what my life will look like from now on. It makes me happy, it pays the bills, and it keeps me more balanced. I am sorry if I am making you wait a little bit longer, readers, but there's only one Jen Minkman and I have to make sure she doesn't crash and burn. ;)

zaterdag 2 augustus 2014

The Space In Between - Croeso i Cymru!

So, I did it again - I went to one of my book places! In this case, it's for a book I haven't even published yet (but will soon): 'The Space in Between', set in the beautiful Welsh town of Penmaenmawr.
Moira joins her Wicca-practising sister Tabby when she wants to do a Halloween ritual at the ancient stone circle in the hills behind their village. Little does she know that this will transport her to a magical land and she'll go back to that land in her dreams every night. Why does the mysterious boy named Hayko need her help, and will she be able to stop herself from falling for him? After all, he doesn't really exist - or does he?

Welcome to Wales!

As you may have noticed, the title of this blog post had some weird, non-English words. That's because people in Wales, besides English, also speak Welsh, an ancient Celtic language. Croeso i Cymru means 'welcome in Wales' and is pronounced kroy-so ih koom-ree. As you can see on the welcoming sign for Penmaenmawr, the road signs are bilingual.

Moira, the main character, works in a small hotel in town called the Gladstone. This is what it looks like from the outside:

And this is what it looks like on the inside:

This is the town station, where Moira had an accident one year ago:

And this is what I imagined Moira's house to look like. The only thing that's not there is a garage, otherwise it's pretty much the house I had in mind!

This is Penmaenmawr Promenade and the beach. It's high tide in this photo, so you can't actually see the sand!

Walk to the Stone Circle!

Walking around town was fun and all, but my bigger plan had always been to visit the stone circle I used in my story! So, off we went (I dragged my sister, or rather, she dragged ME as the climb got steeper and steeper :).

We walked all the way uphill via Mountain Lane and only found out we could have driven that bit up when we got to a parking lot, haha! After that, there was still a brisk walk ahead. When we got to this milestone, at least we knew we were on the right track (though, to be fair, we did get lost once).

After that, we went higher,
and higher,
and higher still, (you can see my sister and the stones sticking out in the distance)
until we were there! :)
(me, completely exhausted)
(my sister, looking way fitter)

Invoking the magic...

Here I am, sitting at the exact spot where I imagined Moira to be sitting while doing the ritual. Of course, in the book I have three people (Moira, her sister Tabby, and her brother Dai) forming a circle within the circle.

... isn't the view just amazing? :)

And all the way down, we could see Penmaenmawr. I can't believe we walked all the way up here! My knees were still suffering after a few days. But it was totally worth it :D

maandag 14 juli 2014

International Authors' Day!

That's right - it was about time we had one of those! After all, there's Mother's Day, Father's Day, Labour Day, Valentine's Day... all pretty important. And since books are important to me because I happen to write them, I've decided to dedicate a short post to the reason I started writing a series despite having sworn I never would. And at the bottom of this post, you can enter my giveaway to win a print copy of the entire trilogy I wrote :)

What started it all? A writing contest. I entered the dystopian writing contest organized by (a well-known YA forum in the Netherlands) and struggled to keep my story below 20,000 words. No mean feat, I tell you, because I'm known to ramble on quite a bit once I get started. After submitting the story to the woman who'd set up the contest, I translated it to English (because I do that to all my books in order to reach a wider audience) and published it on Kindle. To my surprise, it was a big hit (even though some people mistook my novella for fanfic, for some obscure reason). Soon, I was getting reviews saying that the book was too short (I sort of agreed with them) and it should be expanded. So after a few months of reading reviews from people begging me to write more, I caved and wrote two more books. It was an absolute thrill ride, and I can't wait to write another series. I'm hooked on revisiting my own characters!

If you want to get hooked on Leia, Walt, and other people populating the world of the Island, you can win the entire trilogy by entering the Rafflecopter below! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

donderdag 3 juli 2014

What's the Spanish word for 'sadsack'?

Sorry, I hardly ever rant on this blog, but now I feel the need to do so.
Last month, one of my books was published in Spanish! What a thrill! The translator worked under a royalty split agreement, meaning that she'll get paid half of the royalties for every sold book. I had a fantastic cover, I had some reviews lined up, I was ready to see what the book would do.
Well, this is what it did: it sold 13 copies. In an entire month. So, let's see - the translator made about 7 dollars. But that's not what I am pissed off about. It is this: someone stole my book, pirated it, and now it is being plastered all over the internet for free. And I don't just mean shady torrent sites. I mean actual YA blogs. That's right, bloggers who write reviews about books and apparently are 'passionate' about books are shamelessly putting up my book FOR FREE DOWNLOAD on their sites. Meanwhile, the translator gets $0.00. I'm not even that sad about myself (I make enough money off my English books for the moment) but what about this poor woman who slaved away at my book and is not compensated for it by seeing some actual sales? She's currently working on another title of mine, and I have half a mind to just tell her to stop, because I sure as heck can't afford to pay for it upfront (not with sales figures like those) and I can't in good conscience offer her another 'royalty split' deal if this is how young adults in Spain treat their authors.

If you think this is a disgrace, share this post and make people aware of what they're actually doing by stealing books! They made me decide to just give up on the Spanish ebook market. I won't be publishing any more books in digital format if this is what will happen.

donderdag 29 mei 2014

Naval terminology - the bane of my existence

I hereby vow I will never again write a book in which people set sail to go somewhere. If I really need my main characters to travel somewhere by ship, I will conveniently gloss over the time they spend on board or I will make sure they never get on deck to watch anything remotely related to marine navigation, hoisting/reefing/dousing sails, or other such things.
Why this naval rant? Because I am nearly done translating the third part of my Island series (it's called The Deep and it will be available next week, June 4th) and of course, Walt and Leia needed to see the World across the Waters, so I needed to stick 'em on a boat. And that's when I became painfully aware of knowing next to NOTHING about sailing. I have a hard time using the right terminology in Dutch, let alone English.

Of course, if any of you are real sailing buffs and wouldn't mind assisting me when I am lost in translation, drop me a line and I just might decide to once again let my main characters brave the waves :)

For now, grab yourself a copy of book 1 in the series (it's a free ebook everywhere!) and sign up for release notification if you want to know when the Deep is available in stores (and any other books I might decide to write during my life, of course).

donderdag 15 mei 2014

The Deep (The Island #3)

Oh yeah. I did it again! I wrote a book in two months' time :)
As some of you might know, I broke my own 'standalone' rule and wrote a sequel to The Island last year, and since the characters kept telling me there were more adventures in store for them, I had to come back to the Island one last time and write The Deep - the story of Walt and Leia on the Other Side. Today, I wrote the epilogue. And now, all I need to do is translate the book (which is a 62,000-words novel instead of the 35,000-words novella I had planned to write) into English and publish next month. Keep an eye on this blog to find out when it will be available, or sign up for my New Releases Mailing list!

vrijdag 9 mei 2014

Find, Read, Love Romance Giveaway!

Lots of e-books and gift cards to win!

Let’s celebrate our love of books with this giveaway! You can win a lot of books by awesome authors, and also Amazon gift cards to buy this new and shiny book you’ve had your eye on! ;) a Rafflecopter giveaway The giveaway starts on May 10th and finishes on May 17th.

donderdag 8 mei 2014

I visited Julia's world! :)

Fifteen years ago, I lived and studied in Salzburg. That's why I chose this beautiful town as the setting for one of my books. However, I hadn't been back to Salzburg ever since writing The Boy From The Woods, so it was high time to revisit all those places I'd used in my story and see if they were like I remembered them!

Salzburg 2014 (with my sister Marije, who proofreads all my books!)

The first thing we did was walk around town. Quite a lot of the story happens in the Old Town (or Altstadt, in German) of Salzburg, so walk around with me.

The river Salzach that flows through Salzburg and features in the story quite a lot, and the castle up on the mountain overlooking the town

Höllrigl, the bookstore where Julia works, outside and inside - plus the loading/unloading quadrangle where she takes a cigarette break with Michael after their kiss. The real Höllrigl employees were all giving me some weird looks when I was taking pictures of this patio :P

O'Malleys, the pub where Julia hangs out with her friends, outside and inside.

Florian's house is in the left picture, and Michael's house bordering on the river is the middle house in the right picture. :)

The front of Mirabell Gardens, overlooking the town and castle, and the quieter woodland part where Julia goes on a real date with Michael for the first time.

After strolling around town, it was time to take the bus to Birkensiedlung, where Julia and Thorsten live. Of course, this is also where Julia's forest is. :)

Thorsten's house, front and back.

Julia's house. (this is where I used to live)

The main trail leading into the forest, and one of the oak trees in the woods.

... and this is me, going off-track to venture into the woods, just like Julia. :)

It was a wonderful, inspiring trip! If you've never visited Salzburg, Austria before, I suggest you go ASAP :) Lots of friendly people, good food, and almost everybody speaks English.