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December 9, 2014

No, I didn’t actually forget to replace the title. I just couldn’t think of anything fitting for this post since it will be a little more random than I usually let them be. So instead, I give you paragraph titles.

On NaNoWriMo 2014
As I predicted, I didn’t get to 50K this year. It felt odd because that’s what I’ve aimed for and done for the past few years, but apart from the great feeling of having written a whole lot and reached the official goal, I got everything else that I usually want out of NaNoWriMo. I let myself write a new story that I really wanted to and explore its world and the people in it. And I let it surprise me. I never really know how the voice/tone/genre will end up when I start a new story. This one turned out to be a whole lot more snarky and tongue-in-cheek than I had expected. It’s the first story I’ve written in a very long time that could be classified as a comedy. Apart from that, my critique group also had a few write-ins, which is always very nice and cozy. I managed write around 16K in November, and the story is far from over. But I’m going to continue it when I can, and I need to do a fair bit of research concerning the setting and some historical and mythical facts as well.

On Aconitum
My JukePop endeavour is going quite well. Actually, it’s going better than I’d ever dared to hope. My serial novel has made it to Top 30 for the past three months, and in November it even made it to top 10. And around a week ago, it passed 500 +votes in total. I’m flabbergasted and chuffed and grateful beyond words. The Twitter community surrounding JukePop (@JukePopSerials) is also very cool. Connecting with fellow writers there to talk about writing and reading and a lot of other things is really great. And I may even have a collaboration in the works with the author of one of my favourite serials. (More about that later.)

Right … What else have I been up to lately? Working, reading (my most recent book purchases are Krampusnacht, a short story anthology, and Ti faldgruber, a Danish book about translation) … And of course being a cat perch. Certain furry, four-legged individuals would claim that it is a very important function of mine.

NaNoWhy*Mo?

November 2, 2014

November. For the past five years, that has meant committing to writing at least 50,000 words of fiction for NaNoWriMo. I wasn’t going to participate this year, but then I changed my mind.

I know there are arguments for and against NaNoWriMo, and a lot of them are valid.Participant-2014-Twitter-Profile
I agree with two of the major naysayer arguments: You don’t have a finished novel by the end of the month. And you shouldn’t just force yourself to write a novel. But you do have a first draft that you can continue to work on for months or years to come, and while I would strongly advise against writing if you don’t have an idea or the urge to write, a project like this can be helpful to get you started (see next point).
And I agree with the yaysayer arguments as well: NaNoWriMo is fun and social. And it makes it easier to you allow yourself to commit to writing. You can try out something new and have fun with it and talk to other participants online or go to write-ins and make connections. Writing is often something (for those who don’t write full time) that isn’t allowed to be top priority or which gets trampled by self-doubt, and an endeavour like this can give you a great boost.
NaNoWriMo doesn’t work for every writer. But it does for me.

I have decided to settle for less than 50K this year because I am too busy editing Aconitum for its weekly installments to complete this new story (and I am so thrilled to be doing it that I don’t want to take a break from it). Why did I sign up, then? Because I really wanted to get started on this new idea that popped into my head this summer and still is sitting there, waiting for me to put it into words. I want to get the beginning of it typed and see where it takes me.

Before I sign off here to get some writing and editing done, here’s a short recap of what I’ve been up to in the last month:
I am super happy and grateful to be able to say that Aconitum made it to JukePop‘s monthly Top 30 again in October, this time as number 14. And I had a piece of flash fiction, Innocence, published on a new site called QuarterReads. If you like reading or writing flash fiction, I definitely reccommend taking a look at the site.

*Disclaimer: The header isn’t very funny if you’re one of those people who pronounce the event [na-no-REE-mo] and not [na-no-RYE-mo]. Just saying.

Aconitum’s first full month on JukePop Serials

October 1, 2014

It’s been a month and a little over a week since the first chapter of my serial novel Aconitum was published on JukePop Serials. I would like to tell you about … No, wait. Before I start talking, I want to show you this picture:

kaffe

Yep, it’s a latte. More specifically a very nice caramel latte that I had at a local cafe today. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be about coffee. But it is the story of why I went out to have that particular latte.

So far, my experience with JukePop has been great. When I submitted my novel, I hoped to have it accepted and to get into a schedule of posting a new chapter every week and to get a few readers who would +Vote the story and perhaps even drop me a comment. Well, check, check, check, and check! And that is far from all. Aconitum has been given more attention than I had dared hoping for, and I have received a lot of useful comments – suggestions, critique, speculation, encouragement, and questions.

I have had the opportunity to read some really good stories written by fellow JukePop authors. Among my favourites are fairytales, alternate historic fiction, comedies, fantasy and science fiction stories. If you’re curious, you can take a look at some of the ones that I follow. I’m also really happy that I’ve gotten to talk to other writers because the community is friendly and welcoming.

A screenshot from JukePop of some of the stories on the hotlist in the middle of September.

A screenshot from JukePop of some of the stories on the hotlist in the middle of September.

Is JukePop perfect? I don’t think that any platform is. There will always be technical glitches and, when money or popularity is involved, some people are bound to take advantage of loopholes in the system or use questionable methods of gaining attention. But my opinion is that JukePop has a very attractive system and a lot of potential for growing and expanding to a larger audience (currently JukePop is having a Kickstarter Campaign to make indie novels available to more libraries), and I think that most of the kinks can be dealt with efficiently.

Okay, so what about the latte?
Every month, the 30 stories that have received the most +Votes get rewarded. Their writers are paid, they get a fancy little ribbon on their covers, and they are promoted by JukePop on Facebook and Twitter. You can probably see where this is going, right? I really did not expect to make it to the Top 30. And certainly not after Aconitum’s first full month online. But there we are. Number 28. I am so excited and happy and thrilled and grateful!
A few days ago, I told a friend that if I made it to the list someday, I would go out, symbolically spend some of the money on a cup of coffee to celebrate, and take a picture of it. So there you have it: The latte that Aconitum earned me.

Celebrate Freadom! Banned Books Week 2014

September 22, 2014

ABFFE

No, that’s not a typo. September 21st to 27th is Banned Books Week, and it’s all about the freedom to write and read.

I’ll make this short because I already wrote about reading banned books a few years ago. However, I will say this:

When I look at lists of challenged or banned works, I find several of my favourite books and authors as well as classics that I am very grateful for. I also find books there that I am absolutely not fond of for one reason or another, but I would not want them banned. I find it much more productive to be able to engage in a dialogue about why I find them problematic.

Now, let me leave you with a few links to continue the celebration of banned books:

What’s your favourite banned or challenged book?

Scribbling in Scrivener

August 25, 2014

Let me say this: I  like simple things. – Not in all aspects of life, but when it comes to the technological side of my creative process, I generally just want something that works and isn’t too hard to learn.

So when a friend told me about the program Scrivener some time ago, my reaction went something like this, “Wow! That sounds amazing. All those options. All those features! I’d never use half of them, and besides it must take forever to master.”
For a while, I kept typing my fiction of 80K words + in OpenOffice. I liked OpenOffice. I still do and I still use it for some things (like spellchecking in my native language). But I found that I was looking for a way to get a better overview of my stories than having to scroll through hundreds of pages or keeping each chapter in a separate file.

The corkboard is a handy overview of every chapter in a story folder.

The corkboard is a handy overview of every chapter in a story folder.

“Okay,” I finally thought, “I’ll have another look at that Scrivener thing.” So I tried the free trial, and it was not long before I used the 50% off coupon that I had from NaNoWriMo to buy the program.

See, the thing is that while I was right about not using all the fancy features, you don’t actually have to in order to get something out of a program. Yes, there is a direct link to online dictionaries. Yes, you can have a research folder with pictures and what have you. Yes, you can set wordcount goals for your project. Yes, you can toggle to full screen mode. Yes, you can convert your project to an ebook. But you can also ignore everything that you don’t need right now and use what you do need. It doesn’t hurt to have features that you may not use right now, but perhaps can one day.
So far, Scrivener has been very helpful for me when it comes to editing because I can put my chapters in folders, rearrange them, and add descriptions for a quick overview.

As for how hard it is to get started and understand the program … It’s really not bad. If you have a basic knowledge of word processing tools, you will get it pretty fast. I began typing, played around with making new folders and went, ”Huh …” and, ”Oh, I see!” a lot. There was one thing I wanted to do, something to do with the layout though I’ve forgotten what, and couldn’t figure out at once, but a simple Google search gave me a tutorial for that.
And there’s a good selection of templates for novels, scripts, non-fiction and so on if you don’t want to play around with your own layout from the start.

So colour me converted. From .odt to .scriv.
Conclusion: Scrivener is a brilliant tool for writers, but it doesn’t make your bad puns better.

 

If you’re interested in Scrivener, here are a few useful links:

This is how it looks when I'm working on a novel in Scrivener.

This is how it looks when I’m working on a novel in Scrivener. It gives me a great overview.

Aconitum is now live!

August 22, 2014

My serialised novel, Aconitum, is now online on JukePop Serials!

Want the blurb? Well, here it is:Aconitum

As if being a certified werewolf hunter isn’t enough of a moral morass already, Hector Rothenberg hears rumours of a wolf who can change its shape at will, and he realises that he must investigate the truth.
But he needs to hurry up – especially if routine missions keep going almost fatally wrong.

Aconitum is the story of one man’s physical and mental journey. It is also the tale of a society which knows that werewolves are a real threat, of a doctor with a dark secret, a skilled lady in a lucrative business, a rich aunt, a grumpy, old mentor, a cheeky Frenchman, a village idiot, tragic death, romance gone wrong, and a young man who really wanted nothing to do with any of that.

A literary supernatural tale of werewolves, the ones who hunt them, and the people who are caught in the crossfire.

Is that biting off more than a werewolf can chew?Well, come and see for yourself.

I have been looking so much forward to sharing this story with you, and I really hope that you’ll check it out.

And hey, while you’re there, I recommend taking a look at some of the other stories on the site. There are some really good ones on there.

You can browse your favourite genre, see which ones are currently most popular or look at the newest stories uploaded. You can even download an app to your phone or tablet to read the novels on the go.

Aconitum will be updated weekly, every Thursday, but in order to read more than the first chapter, you will need a profile on the site. It’s 100% free and super easy. Oh, and also … If you like a story, you can give the chapters +votes. Those votes can earn the author a nice ranking and the possibility of payment. And, even more importantly, it makes the writers happy and motivates the them to keep updating.

JukePop Serials – good news for readers and writers

August 19, 2014

Today I want to talk to you about something called JukePop and share some good news with you. Yep, those two things are definitely related.

Some time ago I discovered a link to JukePop on NaNoWriMo‘s sponsor website. I clicked the link and discovered that I really liked the sleek design and the concept of the site. It turned out to be a place for readers to find serialised fiction and read it for free on a computer or a mobile device, vote for their favourite stories and support their favourite authors. For writers it’s a platform to publish novels in a professional environment with a submission/acceptance process that is more relaxed than with traditional publishing houses and relies on them to manage their own schedule. Financially speaking, most of it depends on your readers. If you are voted to the top or people donate, that’s great. If not, you can hope for a lot of exposure. A definite plus is that you keep all rights to your novel.
Actually, Scott Alumbaugh, who is an author there, does a great job of explaining how JukePop works and why it’s a brilliant idea, so you may want to pay him a visit for a more in-depth description.

Can you guess where this is going? Yep, I submitted a story to JukePop this month. And yep, it was accepted. I am super excited about it!
I have wanted to share some of my longer fiction for a while now, but I have been searching for the right platform for it. I’m still working on a story that I hope to send to a traditional publishing company where I live (and it is written in my native language) and still writing several other stories (on and off), but this step is really a big one for me. I’ve had short fiction published before, but my passion is writing novels, so I am happy that I get to publish one of them.

So what is this novel? When can you read it?
Well, the story is called Aconitum. I began writing it two years ago and spent a few months on the first draft. After that I’ve reordered the chapters, discarded a few, added others and done a bit of correcting. Now I’m editing it thoroughly and changing some things so that the chapters will fit the serial format better.
Aconitum is the tale of a hunter who lives in a world where the industrial revolution never really took hold. It deals with a society which knows that werewolves are a real threat and the moral problems of hunting down someone who may be a normal human being most of the time. I always find it hard to fit my stories into genres. We can call it a literary supernatural alternate timeline novel with a bit of mystery and hopefully a laugh or two along the way, but that’s not really a genre. On JukePop it will be filed under “fantasy” as the primary genre.

The first chapter will go live in a few days. I’ll post the link here on WordPress of course and hope that you will be curious enough to take a look at it. After that, a new chapter will be added every week.

The story begins in The Lane

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