I had not checked the Amazon reviews for Moon Daughter for a while and to my surprise I found 20 reviews in all – and they were all five stars! Couldn’t believe my eyes. 15 in Amazon’s UK page, 5 in US page. books2read.com/u/b5OE7p
At the moment I am writing the third book of the series every day. Here’s hoping I’ll get it to my editor soon!
So how exactly did the idea for the series Nephilim Quest come about? What have the Watchers, the Nephilim, angels and ancient Egypt to do with each other? Where did the idea of time travel come from?
I started writing the second part of the Nephilim Quest series on 28th March this year. And today, six months later the first draft is done! Now I would need to gain control of my keyboard again to start editing..
Today I had a chance to go to Helsinki together with my dear husband. I packed the laptop and decided to do something authors do – write in a café.
I could do this because I finally bought the said laptop this spring. The credit card gave a squeal any self-respecting pig would have envied, and tried to escape by jumping to the floor but it had no chance. I walked out of the store with a silly smile on my face. The credit card was mumbling obscenities in my wallet.
So, I was yanking the beautifully designed door handle of the oldest and biggest bookstore in Helsinki at 9 AM sharp. I headed upstairs to the café (because surely a bookstore café is The Place for any author to write their book) and at 9.01 AM I was their first customer. Really, no other author was around, hunting for the best table where the next War and Peace would be born. I settled myself on a quiet table (Oh well, one of them, as there was no one else but me there. I suppose the full-time authors had not woken up yet, having written all night.) I decided to order a latte.
I checked the price on the menu and my eyes refused to go past what was called the “Poet’s Breakfast”. No writer can resist that, I am sure you understand. And besides, if you write with an empty stomach, the result won’t be too good. So for the benefit of the quality of my writing I ordered the said breakfast. Which is here:
With my stomach full, I took my laptop out of my bag, and put it on the table. I enjoyed the moment for a few seconds, feeling all writerly / authorly, hoping the few people who had arrived by then would see the laptop and say to one another that I must be an author. I wasn’t quite sure if the laptop itself would have such an effect and for a while wondered should I have a glass or red wine to underline my creative status, but there is no way I could get wine down my throat in the mornings. So I simply opened my Scrivener file and started typing.
I have to say there really is something to this – if I was a full time author, I’d do days like this just for my own mental health. Other people arrived and their discussions did not disturb the writing in the least. I stayed there for an hour, sipping my coffee, orange juice and water. I took my time with them so the waiters would see I was not done yet and start hovering about. (I did minimise the chance of that by paying when I ordered,) Worked well.
I had plans to visit the National Museum of Finland so once the hour was up, I closed the laptop and rose. But did I make it to the front door? Anyone who knows me, knows the answer. I was in a bookstore, after all.
I navigated to the history section, telling myself firmly I was NOT going to buy a single book. I mean I can easily walk past designer shoes and bags and makeup counters, but just you let me loose in a bookstore…
I think I managed pretty well, despite the foul language my credit card used when I took it out of my wallet and it saw where we were. Only three books this time, and surely that counts as no books, doesn’t it? And I have to keep up with the Egyptology publications, now don’t I? Plus we have a new bookcase coming soon. Can’t leave it empty, now can I?
It had started to rain and I walked to the National Museum trying to shelter my bag (which held the laptop) from getting wet, and noticing that knowledge is heavy. The books weighed a ton or thereabouts. Well, I put it under exercise. At least some of the calories from that brie-cheese melted away.
After leaving my books in a locker (eyeing everyone around with suspicion in case they were after my books and would break into the locker as soon as I turned my back) I went to see the exhibitions I had come to see (photographs of the old private palaces in Venice). And then I suddenly found myself at the Museum café. Oh well. As long as I was there… Out came the laptop and I sat for half an hour, happily typing away, sipping iced tea. (Too much coffee tends to make the characters in the story make sudden movements I have trouble following. Referring to my earlier post here)
I could get used to a life like this… And Nephilim Quest 1: Shadowhunter should get the sequel this year, if all things go well. (I have just spent two days checking and correcting historical details regarding the royal family of the 18th Dynasty of New Kingdom, ancient Egypt. Interesting how many chapters need to be tweaked when you realise you got someone’s birth year all wrong.)
Well, here’s hoping the day will come when I can write full time. And go to cafés to write, should the mood hit me. It was a great day!
So. I decide to write a book. I have it all planned out to the extent of knowing exactly what is going to happen in each chapter.
I begin to write, all writerly, holding a cup of coffee as any serious author would. Feeling all important, and excited about finally getting to the writing stage after all the planning. The story flows nicely and I tut-tut myself for not making such pre-planned stories before. This is so easy!
Then, almost at the beginning, a surprise characters hops into the story. Ok, I say, when I see my subconscious knew better and the character is actually needed to move the story along believably. Good job, subconscious, for writing him into the story.
Then another character – again at the beginning chapters of the story – announces he won’t be playing by the book. Now that would be the First Vampire, and his plan is… scary. Insane, would any psychologist say, but then again I’m sure not many psychologists have had the chance to evaluate the dark depths of a vampire’s mind. There were hints to his motives in the first book, so his plans fit those. Ok, thank you, subconscious.
All right… Nothing major… I tweak the plot accordingly, not much tweaking needed… Change the order of some chapters… Add some necessary details to some… aaaand… done!
I sigh, content that I have the project under control again. A sip of the all important coffee that keeps me ticking, and I resume writing. Only there is no place to put the coffee cup anymore. The desk that was rather neat when I started is now under a pile of Egyptology books, as historical details need to be checked. Not to mention the cats who do their best to help in writing.
And then another main character suddenly develops a skill I did not expect. It just wrote itself into the story. And of course this veers the plot into unexpected directions. This would be Shuet, who can only go out at night when the sun doesn’t touch her. I stare at the sentence that appeared on the screen and say WHAT THE HECK did you just say you can do? Why, oh why? But then again I realise my subconscious knew exactly what it did when the sentence just flowed into the story. Of course, of course it has to be there. Subconscious knew it all along… (I mumble under my breath that it could have told me this earlier…)
Tweaking, planning, sighing, removing, adding… Ok, finally the rest of the book is planned again. My hair is standing up from me pulling it while staring at the chapter plan, and I am having symptoms of caffeine overdose.
Seriously, characters – and my subconscious mind. Would you please start behaving and follow my nice plan for the story? It took me a month to make!
Sometimes writing a book and trying to make the characters follow orders is like herding cats… The subconscious remains nice and quiet when you analyse and make timelines and chapter plans. It gives a few nice tips what might happen, when and where. And when you start writing it begins to behave like a kid in a toy store. “I don’t want that after all! I want that! Oooo, and that! And that one from the upper shelf as well!”
Oh well. I continue with the story. Resigned to the fact that no matter how much I love calendars and careful planning to stay of top of my projects, the sequel to Nephilim Quest 1: Shadowhunter just snorts at such plans.
But I have to say I can’t wait each day to start writing again, to see how the story develops.
Back to the old keyboard (Shoo! Get off, cat!)
I published Nephilim Quest part 1: Shadowhunter as an ebook in January. Many people prefer physical books so I planned to do the print version soon. It seems “soon” is a relative concept… Five months have gone by and other projects took over…
But finally I had the cover made by Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics, downloaded the text files to Createspace, and ordered a proof copy of the novel.
It came today, and there sure is something special in holding your physical book in your hands for the first time. Makes the whole writing thing feel more real. (It will take a little while before the print version is on sale on Amazon, but I’ll let everyone know when that happens – in case someone wants to buy the print version). In the meanwhile anyone wishing to grab the ebook, here’s the link to Amazon.
Oh, and part two of Nephilim Quest (Amarna) is soon at 90.000 words… It will be a long story again, but as the first part has 550 pages, I am sure no one is surprised. I certainly cannot make a long story short 😀
I’ve been asked when will the next part of the Nephilim Quest come out. Well – as soon as I get the plot planned and transferred into a timeline and from there into chapter plans. Only then shall I start writing. Still, when the plot is planned beforehand, the writing itself doesn’t necessarily take very long.
Just to show you the first step in planning: I have collected all the things that need to be addressed in the next book into a mind map (using Scapple). Here is the photo of part of it. (Yes, only a part). The cells are connected with dozens of arrows, showing which characters are affected by which events. I calculated this took me about 20 hours to make (and I already had many notes done before, never calculated how many hours they took before I decided to do a mind map)- collecting the details from the first book that need to be written about in the next book.
776 notes in all – ready to be transferred to the timeline which I will then turn into chapters.
I think this shows you cannot really just write whatever comes to your mind if you are writing a series. Planning is the key… And writing is a lot of work – satisfying, fun, demanding work.
And here’s the pic (sorry, it is blurry for a purpose – don’t want to reveal too much of the coming book yet)
As it is I have a day job and try to find time for my writing work in the evenings and weekends.
Most days I don’t have a chance to write uninterrupted for longer periods of time, and I have noticed that if I wait until I have a whole hour to spend, I won’t get much writing done. (But when I do find a longer period of time to use, I so enjoy those delicious hours when I can simply concentrate on writing)
I wrote my first book (Nephilim Quest 1: Shadowhunter) mostly in fifteen minute spurts. Where ever I could steal fifteen minutes or more. Some say that at least half an hour is necessary to write, but it seems my mind is such that I can write a short while, maybe even a few sentences, and then do something completely different, and return to the story even hours later and write a little more – without losing track where I was in the story. Maybe that is something women have learned to do in their ordinary life. Multitasking, if you will.
While writing the book I was at the same time writing my final essay for the Egyptology studies at the University of Manchester. That was something I really had to concentrate on and sometimes I felt that my brains were in a knot with all the information in front of me I would need to condence into a logical presentation.
That is the moment when I changed to writing the novel. My poor brains, trying to make a sense of a dozen books and tons of notes about Middle Kingdom fortresses in Nubia, sighed with relief. Really. It was like going to a mini holiday – spending a few minutes writing out of my imagination. After a short free writing spurt like this I found it much easier to return to the academic writing.
Maybe this the reason I wrote the book so fast… It took me two months to write the first draft. Then I spent two months fattenig the story up, if you will, as the first draft is always rather.. erm… skeleton-like. During this second round of writing I had more time in my hands, having finished the essay so I could enjoy longer periods of writing time. (The editing time after this took over a year – I had not set any deadline to it and enjoyed seeing the story come to life as a result of careful editing.)
Writing like this taught me the value of even fifteen minutes of free time. On a coffee break. Before making dinner. While waiting for something (be it a doctor’s appointment or waiting for friends to arrive to dinner – I love to have friends over to eat). Using a notebook, tablet or phone. Just a few sentences. They do add up.
Also I use a dictation app on my computer. It takes a short while to get used to dictating your story – you have to “see” the story in your mind while you speak it, but it certainly makes writing the first draft a lot faster. And I feel it also makes your story flow better right from the start – at least if you have the tendency to return to what you have just written and tweak tweak tweak… (I’m one of those people) You may tweak your story to death if you don’t give it first free rein to run from start to finish first – you may simply get bored with your story when it doesn’t seem to proceed. A little editing is ok, but don’t try to make your text perfect right from the start.
If my memory serves me right I remember reading that we speak five times faster than we write. So if you don’t have much time in your hands, you might try dictating your story. It seems many established authors are beginning to dictate their stories because of the speed.
For full time authors writing time is easier to arrange, but for those of us who have a day job, using every opportunity to write even a little is important. If you are on a deadline, it is important to plan as much as you can on your calendar – how many words do you need to write per day, when should editing start, when the whole story should be ready. Well planned is half done, as the saying goes.
Is it stressful, using your short free moments to write? Well, I don’t find it to be so. After all if writing is a passion, it does not feel like a chore. (And if it does begin to feel like that – take a break. Really. Let your mind have a rest, it does need it once in while.)
So if you have a laptop or tablet, take it with you and write during your child’s hobby lessons. Or carry a notebook with you and scribble a few words down while sitting in a bus. Use a dictation app on your phone and talk while you walk (no one sees that as odd anymore – they just think you are speaking on the phone). Cut down the TV-time if you are serious about your writing. (I think TV is one the biggest time robbers there is).
If you cannot write but have free time, then go through the plot of your book in your mind. Imagine you are explaining it to a stranger. What your characters are doing and why. What motivates them? Who is the antagonist? What motivates him/her? I just did that this morning while preparing to go to work, and telling the plot of a story in real sentences to myself suddenly solved the end result of the story I am currently writing. (No, not the Nephilim Quest sequel – I still have some planning to do on that one. This is a story I made a very crude plan of at first and am just writing a thousand words a day – keeping my writing skills alive while I prepare for the next part of Nephilim Quest.)
So, be it fifteen minutes, half an hour or a while lucxurious hour – the important thing is to keep on writing.