I’m going to host William L. Hahn’s new release “Judgement’s Tale #1: Games of Chance” tomorrow but couldn’t resist participating in this Blog Hop too. Please come back tomorrow so you won’t miss Will’s fun guest post.
Thank you Danyelle Leafty, @DanyellLeafty, for inviting me to the hop. I admire the way you twist fairy tales like pretzels making them more delicious with every turn. If anyone who likes fairy tales hasn’t read on of hers, please do so. They’re really worth it.
So, what is this bloghop about? All over the world, authors (established and up and coming) share details about how and why they write. The reason:
“We writers share these things, but informally during workshops and at conferences (and, for a handful of established writers, in printed interviews), but not so much through our open-forum blogs. With the hashtag #MyWritingProcess, you can learn how writers all over the world answer the same four questions. How long it takes one to write a novel, why romance is a fitting genre for another, how one’s playlist grows as the draft grows, why one’s poems are often sparked by distress over news headlines or oddball facts learned on Facebook…
What am I working on?
I’m currently working on two projects at once. First, I began retelling fairy tales but with a twist. The first two volumes are done but not (yet) translated (see below for my writing process). I hope to start publishing them close to the end of the summer.
Second, I have worked out the kinks in the overall storyline of a Middle Grade time travel series which will have five to ten volumes of roughly 25,000 to 30,000 words. Terry, the main character of the series will be traveling to many interesting but not so well known times in history on her search for her father.
While I’m still polishing, and having my editor go through the texts, I’ll be publishing several short stories that have been collecting on my hard drive during the last year. They are rather diverse. 😉
How does it differ from others of its genre
The fairy tales have twists I haven’t encountered yet. I read thousands of fairy tales from many cultures when I was younger and still love the diversity found in the old stories. The first volume will contain a retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” from the dwarf’s point of view (who is not even half as evil as you might think) plus a bonus short story about Rumpelstiltskin. The second volume is a retelling of “The Beauty and the Beast” in a steampunk setting. Both were a lot of fun to write. At the moment, I’m using stories that are not entirely unknown but that might change at some point. I plan to include the original tale in the finished eBook for those who’ve never heard of it.
The time travel story will be very different from other MG time travels. It will not be like “The Magic Treehouse” for example since there will be an overarching problem the main character faces. Although the episodes can stand on their own, they all build on each other. Also, the historical time my main character visits will always be meticulously researched. I want these books to be so entertaining that the readers won’t even notice they learned something about history before they set the finished book aside. I’m a big fan of learning with fun, and what more fun is there than an entertaining story. 😉
Why do I write what I do?
I’ve read so many books, I’ve lost count. Most of them were mediocre or just didn’t fit my taste. Since I had been writing stories ever since I learned my alphabet, becoming an author and writing the kind of books I would love to read myself, was the only sensible option. I’ve been striving to write the best books possible ever since.
How does my writing process work?
When an idea has congealed to something worth writing about in my mind, I sit down and condense the whole idea into a single sentence of 30 words or less. Then, I work out scene cards (my scenes average at 1500 words, so that makes 10 cards for every planned 15K words). The most important bit that goes on each scene card are the scene’s main character and conflict. When I have the whole plot laid out, I start writing (usually one scene per day) the first draft in English. During this time, it often happens that I have to adjust my scene cards, move them around, cut or replace them, or change the conflict or the character.
Once the first draft is done, I set it aside and let it simmer for a while. Then, I start revision (Which usually takes much longer than writing the first draft). When I’m done with that, I send the file to my editor and start translating the story back into German, my native tongue. As son as I finish the translation, I incorporate the changes sugessted by my editor in both language versions and then send both versions to their appropriate proof readers. The, I hand-code them into ePub, mobi and print ready files and get started on the next book. When I’ve got some spare time, I do a little marketing. However, spare time is hard to come by in a family of five…
Finally, I’m passing the staff on to my fellow writers who will be posting a week from now:
Maybe you remember how fascinated I am with a Roman battlefield that has been discovered close to where I live. Since I’m going to have some visitors next month, I looked for a way to book a guided tour. That’s when I found this video (it’s in German but easily understandable even if you don’t know the language):
The film was completely planned and executed by children. I’m very impressed.
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I’m blaming the weather…
Up to this weekend, the weather has been much to my liking; not too warm, not too cold, not too dry and not too wet. However, this Pentecost weekend is growing hotter and dryer by the minute. I’m really happy that we insulated our house or I’d have dried out by now.
With the summer came an avalanche of work. Ever since I opened my kickstarter (btw, it’s still running a few more days), I started connecting with people I never would have thought of. Even if the campaign doesn’t fund, it looks as if my dream-project will still come true. We’ll see. As soon as I’ve got something definite, I will keep you posted, promised.
Meanwhile, I’m preparing for the release of my friend Will Hahn’s novel. I’ll be featuring him and his release here on this blog on the 17th of June (please come by and win something). At the same time, I’m preparing some of my short stories for release. Proofreading took much longer than I had anticipated though, but that shouldn’t delay the release for long. And last but not least, I finished planning the overall structure of my first planned series. The first volume is already written (has been for a while) and I’m currently translating it.
You see, I’m so terribly busy I simply forgot to post on my blog. I’m sorry and blame it all on the weather. Who do you blame if you can’t keep up with the requirements of life?
I bought some really expensive piece of software: Dragon Natural Speaking. Currently, that’s the best voice recognition software in the world (as far as I know), and I’m using it to translate my novels (which I write in English) back into German. I’m delighted. Since I’ve been using the software, I get 30 to 50% more of my ususal daily wordcount.
However, the side effects are really strange. Have I told you that I dream a lot at night and that I usually remember my dreams in the mornings? Not, well you know now. Since I started using Dragon, my dreams become weirder. A couple of days ago I began dreaming punctuation too. It went like this:
quote why are you so angry question mark quote
It really drives me nuts.
Have you experienced something similar? I find it really weird.
In the last few weeks, I got quite a lot of negative reviews on my story “Swordplay”. While I still love the world, the characters and the setting, this got me thinking. After coming back out of my self-induced misery, I understood a couple of things:
1. The reviewers might have been the wrong choice of readers seeing that most of them are romance readers.
2. A genre mix like this is harder to sell than plain crime or plain fantasy or plain romance.
3. I should write more than this series so readers can choose.
So I decided to write in three different series this year. The first one (1) will still be my Gendarmerie Magique series (I like the world too much). The second one (2) is a middle grade time travel series, and the last one (3) a single-genre fantasy series. And this is where I need your help. Of the bat, I can think of three stories I can turn into a series, but with some more brainstorming I can use them all. So, please tell me:
Which story shall I expand into a series?
Welche Geschichte soll ich zu einer Serie ausbauen?
If you haven’t read the stories (yet), you can look at their descriptions by clicking on the mini-covers on the right or on the titles in the poll (for voting please click on the white circle).
A few more informations on what I’ll do once I choose my third series:
Since I don’t like cliffhanger endings, you can expect all three to be linked stand-alones (meaning each book stands on its own but is linked in sequential order to the other books of the series). The books will be slightly shorter than the initial stories (maybe around 50,000 words for series 1 and 3 and 25,000 words for series 2) or I won’t be able to write them all this year.
I was lucky to get two places on a Goodreads group’s R4R (read for review) in close succession. So, I offered my newest release “Swordplay” and “Urchin King”. Surprisingly, the copies of “Urchin King” went fast while the ones for “Swordplay” have still not all be claimed. This got me thinking.
Is my Stress-O-Meter stuck at: “going crazy”?
Don’t get me wrong, I like “Urchin King” but I like “Swordplay” better. The world is much cooler, and the characters leave more room to grow over the series (that’s one reason why I decided to make a series out if it). Also, there are so many lovely sidekicks that can have a cameo in the next volumes. But if the R4R is representative for my readers, I might be wrong.
Am I still the weird one out? I know I was when I was a kid, always reading, loving school, living in the middle of a forest with no interest in shopping or make-up. I was never one to fit in easily. But does this apply to my books too? Are they too much out of sync with the rest of the world? Is that the reason why I’m not making a living from my books (yet) despite the fact that I have seven well written (according to my editors) books out there (plus short stories and one audiobook)?
If you’ve read even one of my stories, please let me know what you think. Especially if you’ve read “Swordplay” (or even just the sample on amazon), please tell me if I’m right or wrong to turn this into a series.
I don’t get this discouraged often, but when it hits, it hits me hard. Please help.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting at my PC, tired but happy, and write my next story. This time, it’s a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” set in a steampunk world. I love the genre. If you’ve never tried it I advise you to watch the film “Wild Wild West” with Will Smith or read the free online-Comic “Girl Genius” (highly recommended but quite long by now).
Next Saturday (Sunday at the latest) I’m going to draw the winners of the giveaway. Please be patient until then. And finally, I’d like to thank all the wonderful people who helped to make this tour a success for me. Hugs to all.
Yesterday, another excerpt went life on Karin Rita Gastreich’s blog. It was nice to meet yet another person with a surname originating in the German language. 😉
And I’d like to apologize. I had meant to post yesterday but completely forgot to schedule it. I couldn’t do it in real time either because I had the house full with birthday guests. We celebrated the 19th birthday of my eldest daughter and I didn’t have much time for online stuff. Thus, the post comes now, and it’ll highlight one of the most important people involved in this novel: the cover artist.
Corona Zschüsschen, Dutch illustrator and graphic designer
Corona comes from Enschede (if you like her art, she’s available for international freelance work and her prices are reasonable). I stumbled over some of her art when I was looking for things to pin to my Pinterest boards, and I immediately liked her drawing style. Since I was having major trouble getting a shutterstock picture to work that I had originally planned on using (but the resolution was crap, every detail looked pixelated), I contacted her. She was lovely to work with. So here she is in her own words.
Why did you become an artist? Was it a childhood dream? My first childhood dream was to start a cat-shelter. I even wrote a letter to my 20-year old self when I was 10, outlining my plans and ideas! While I really love cats (and I have 3), that never happened. I moved around a lot when I was young. Drawing was something I could do anywhere, anytime. I had always loved illustrating, but I never thought I could become an actual artist. Sometimes I still can’t believe I am. I have to remind myself. 🙂
What’s your greatest obstacle in creating?
It’s me. Illustrating can be very mood and inspiration depended. I think it must be the same when you’re a writer. Sometimes inspiration comes at the most impossible of times. Or I can make a lot of different versions of something knowing they simply won’t work. It can be very frustrating! But all the different versions are still part of the journey. As long as I like the destination, it’s all worth it!
What makes your art different?
I don’t know how different I am… though of course no artist is the same. I have found artists whose style looks similar to mine, or sometimes the subjects or thoughts behind an illustration can be the same. I’m not bothered by that. I tend to branch out to a lot of different styles, because I like to adjust my art to the subject. What works for one book cover may not work at all for another. I also like to know as much as possible before I start illustrating. For example, with designing characters, I want to not only know how they look, but also their motivation and background story.
What was the most exciting thing happening when you are creative?
You mean for me as an illustrator? It was about 4 weeks ago when I found out one of my illustrations is going to be used for for very VERY big ‘thing’. But I can’t say anything about it. I’m contractually obligated to be silent about it. I can’t even show the illustrations. I want to shout it from the roofs, hahaha! Also, every time I receive an e-mail from a potential client my hart rate spikes. I can’t sit still before I answer the mail.
What was the biggest challenge with my cover?
The best thing about working with a writer is that they often know exactly what they want, even if they don’t! So the challenge was to get the idea that was in your head onto the cover. Being able to read some chapters of the book really helped. You were very specific and I really like that. You knew what you wanted. I hope I have fulfilled your book cover wishes 🙂
Who is your favorite Indie artist?
I guess any artist that’s not affiliated with a publisher could be considered independent. But most are a combination of both. One of my favorite contemporary illustrators is Loish (Lois van Baarle). I’m so jealous of her skills. Her character designs are stunning and magical. Her illustrations are incredibly pretty. Another illustrator I really like is Yasmin (chubbytentacle.com), her style is so much fun. I can’t help but smile when I see her illustrations.
Who is your favorite traditional artist?
I really like John William Waterhouse. I can stare at those paintings for a long time. I also enjoy the work of Berthe Morisot, a female impressionist painter. I have a lot of respect for the female painters in history. Often their pursuit of art wasn’t taken very seriously. Though I can’t identify with the era they lived in. There have been people in my life who don’t see how being an illustrator can be a actual job.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
I can only pick one? 🙂 I am quite happy with my life as it is now. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get here.
Sabio Marten is probably the most intelligent person on the Gendarmerie Magique. Aside from doing his work and inventing new gadgets to improve crime scene investigations, he teaches in Salthaven’s university. Here is one of his lectures for freshmen of Investigative Crime Detection (Sabio insisted I use his original papers including his graphics so I won’t get things muddled). Please keep in mind that the information presented is difficult, so if you don’t get it, don’t worry. You can eat your greens without understanding the details of how plants create matter from sunlight and magic.
Lecture on Photomagysynthesis by Commissaire Sabio Marten Basic Magical Theory – Transcript
In my opinion, Magical Basics should be obligatory for all university courses. It isn’t. Thus, I’m all the more grateful that so many of you attended this course. Let’s dive right in.
I’m sure all of you know the basic formula of Photomagysynthesis. However, I’m better safe than sorry. Photomagysynthesis is the process plants, from tree size to the smallest algae, use to turn sunlight, magic, water and carbon dioxide into sugar while giving of oxygen. For those of you chemically challenged, specialists would write it like this:
6 H2O + 6 CO2 + magic + light –> ΘC6H12O6 + 6 O2
Just to make sure you understand this correctly, the numbers of hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and carbon (C) have to be the same on either side of the arrow. The Θ indicates the magical enhancement. For those of you who don’t know, most sugars have a ring like structure of carbon atoms with hydrogen and oxygen atoms attached. In enhanced sugars, the magic curls up like a ball and sits in the center of the ring of carbon.
With the basics in mind, let’s look at how plants do what they do. Surely you’ve all heard of cells. All plants have cells with green organelles called chloroplasts. These contain so-called thylakoids. Those are membrane-bound compartments inside chloroplasts that look like piles of green coins stacked on top of each other. Their membranes contain molecule-complexes which absorb all colors of light except green. By the way, that’s the reason why plants are usually green. Only a few organisms use predominantly molecules reflecting red or yellow, and they don’t do Photomagysynthesis. They create unenhanced sugars. Their process is called Photosynthesis which is part of every basic biology lecture, so I won’t go into details here.
To make the molecule-complexes very effective, they have antennas using chlorophyll and other light absorbing molecules. Each antenna holds two to four hundred molecules absorbing energy and is referred to as a Photosystem. So, the membranes of the thylakoids hold everything necessary for the first step of the Photomagysynthesis, the light reaction.
During the light reaction, the chlorophyll molecules in Photosystem II use the sunlight’s energy to give off electrons that are then snatched up by a chain of electron transporting molecules. Every molecule in the chain uses up some of the electron’s energy and triggers the combination of Magie Sauvage with ADP and Phosphor to ΘATP. Yes?
Student: What is ADT and ATP?
Oh, you really want to know? Don’t say I haven’t warned you. ADP’s full name is Adenosine diphospate and ATP accordingly Adenosine triphosphate. You can imagine the molecule as a lorry for transporting energy to places where energy is needed – say for growth or movement. It’s just that ATP-molecules don’t keep, so life had to find a way to store energy for longer than the normal ATP-lifecycle. That’s where the sugar comes in. And that’s why we need to know about Photomagysynthesis.
Now, to get back its electrons, the chlorophyll steals new electrons from water inside the thylakoid. That action breaks the water molecule. This process is called the photolysis of water. The oxygen atoms combine into O2 and travel out of the plant. Lucky for us or we couldn’t breathe.
light reaction part one
They leave behind hydrogen atoms that are missing an electron – and a lone rider like that is called… correct… a proton. The protons are transported out of the thylakoid by an enzyme that works like a one way revolving door. As the proton is pushed from the inside of the thylakoid to the outside, the enzyme creates more ATP, this time unenhanced. To fill up the void left by the protons, new water streams into the thylakoid through the membrane, thus keeping the photolysis going.
creation of ATP and transport of protons out of the thylakoid
At the same time, the electrons that went through Photosystem II and the chain of electron transporting molecules reach a second photosystem. Photosystem I re-charges them with sunlight, and hands them to a second chain of electron transporting molecules. At the end of this chain, the electrons are used to combine two waiting protons with a stuff called NADP… what? No I won’t tell you the full name this time – go join a biology class…
As I said, two protons combine with NADP and Magie Sauvage to ΘNADPH2+. This molecule is like a shopping cart for protons. It takes them to the place where the second step of the Photomagysynthesis takes part. Here’s a graphic presenting the whole light reaction at once.
full light reaction
Now for the second step – The molecules produced during the light reaction are used to build sugars out of carbon dioxide. Since the second step isn’t directly dependent on light, it is often referred to as light-independent or dark reactions. But because it uses molecules from the light reaction, it still is indirectly dependent on light, so the expression is misleading.
The second step of the Photomagysynthesis is called the Calvin cycle, named after a poor guy who spent half his life watching the grass grow. It takes part in the Chloroplast but outside of the thylakoids, and it starts with an enhanced five-carbon-sugar grabbing a carbon dioxide molecule. The newly produced six-carbon-sugar splits up into one enhanced three-carbon-sugar molecule and a normal three-carbon-sugar molecule.
The normal three-carbon-sugar molecule grabs more carbon dioxide molecules and uses ΘATP and ΘNADPH2+ from the light reaction to recreate the initial five-carbon-sugar in several steps. It’s a form of recycling to make sure the plant doesn’t run out of five-carbon-sugars.
The second, enhanced three-carbon-sugar merges with another of its kind. The result is what we commonly refer to as sugar. Since it was built from two enhanced molecules, it is also magically enhanced with the magic caught in the center of the ring structure.
This sugar is then transported out of the chloroplast and distributed to wherever in the cell it is needed, or it is put into storage. When the enhanced sugar gets digested, the magic inside the molecules has been significantly altered by being balled up. It is set free as Magie Générale.
Herbivores or omnivores like us keep part of the enhanced molecules in their metabolism. Carnivores and omnivores receive their share of Magie Générale from what remains in the food chain. Are there questions?
Student: So I get more magic when I eat more greens?
Unfortunately not. It has been proven that the limiting factor for the amount of magic a human can hold is not related to the amount of plant matter consumed. There’s no need to become a vegetarian if you’re not so inclined.
Student: Is there a way to make someone’s magic stronger? What does limit the accumulation of magic?
The limit is defined by a genetically predetermined threshold that differs for every individual. Research suggests… No, I think I’ll better stop here. This is not about Photomagysynthesis any more, and I don’t think the university would be happy if I held you captive for one of my rants. Thank you for listening today, and I hope to see you again when I talk about our relationship with nerls, next week. Good bye.
(editors note: Did you understand all that? Where did you stop? I did tell you he’s a geek, right? Let me tell you a secret: so am I – I love this stuff!)