Jen Minkman - YA Paranormal and Dystopian Author: november 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.