Tag Archives: books

The importance of a good editor

I decided to finally start the interview pages I had intended to do for months now. All my time went into learning how to self-publish my first book so this had to wait.

But now I had the time to finally begin. As the first person to interview I chose my editor, Miriam Bibby. Miriam2

I had read about the importance of an editor all the while I concentrated on writing my book and then doing the first edit myself. So on a theoretical level I knew it would be important to have a professional editor.

Then, one day I sat there, having done the first round of edits, and knew this was the moment. Whom should I choose? Where could I find an editor who would be professional, whom I could trust? At the moment I was not a member of ALLi yet so I had no professional organisation to turn to for advice (The Alliance of Independent Authors, if you wish to know more, click on the logo on the right ride of the page).

And then I suddenly knew whom to ask for the task. Miriam Bibby! I had “met” her (via internet) during my Egyptology studies at the University of Manchester. She was a published author and had an excellent command of English. She had done editing jobs.

As I had nothing to lose, I wrote to Miriam and asked if she would be kind enough to help me. I knew she was busy with her horses and writing her own books, but I was lucky – she agreed to work on my book.

And this is when I really understood how a good editor can make a book better… No, how a good editor can make a book. Period.

I had planned my story line, generally speaking. But then new characters just jumped in without asking me, and the story began to write itself into unplanned directions. As a result the first draft was a bit of a muddle. Two wonderful people had read the first draft and encouraged me enough to believe that people would really want to read my book. But it needed developing.

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And oh boy did we develop it… Miriam made me re-write, change the order of chapters, write more, introduce many of the characters much earlier in the story than I had originally done. Her comments were right on target and I knew I was working with someone whose passion was the story itself, who wanted to make it shine.

It was a lot of work, but I had decided I would do whatever necessary to make the story the best it could be. We emailed chapters to each other, commented, tweaked, deleted, rewrote… And on 31st of January this year Nephilim Quest 1: Shadowhunter was published. (By clicking on the link above you can read the first 25 chapters – what better place to check the quality of the writing and editing.)

The whole pre-publication process of a book was a completely new experience to me. But oh boy was I the luckiest wannabe author out there when I found Miriam to work with me. I understand now what an inseparable team an author and her editor are – yet many people forget the role of the editor when they read a book. No first draft is good. It can be pretty horrible, actually. Refining it into a good novel doesn’t happen automatically. It is a lot of work, sometimes quite painful work when you have to “kill” the words you were so proud of in the beginning. But making the book the best it can be doesn’t happen without an editor. I now have the greatest respect for these “invisible” professionals to whom we and our books owe so much.

Here is Miriam’s interview page for you to read. If you need an editor, I sincerely recommend her. I only ask you won’t take all her time – I need her for my future books!

 

 

Clever Cubbies Lookbook

Gotta love them all! 🙂

Cafe Book Bean

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I love all things book related, and I especially love clever fun ways to display and enjoy said books. So, I have compiled a fun assortment of amazing little cubby reading/book storage spaces.

Please enjoy this Lookbook of Clever Cubbies:

unique-bookshelvesI love the style of and functionality of this, so cool! I think I would get a little matching ottoman (which could also have books too, and store a blanket 🙂 .)

house-shaped-bookcaseHow adorable and fun is this little bookhouse! I love that there is a little place to put your book and read! It just need a quaint little stool.

imagesI’m over the moon for this one, I think the design is beautiful, and I just want to grab a book and curl up in it right now!

whaleAnother fun one, it’s just so cute! Also, it has wheels so very functional while being just a joy to look…

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So what’s with the dream world and buffer zone?

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Ok, so some people who have read my book Shadowhunter asked how I came up with the idea of the buffer zone around our world, and interacting with the “other side” through dreams. Not to mention life continuing after death.

Well, I have often seen precognitive dreams and even received information on how to do things – information I did not have read about before.

For example if I see a dream where fish or seals are swimming in the air, I know someone is about to make their transition from this physical existence. I have seen beforehand events that happened the next day  – the exact place and event, even though everything was a mirror image.

And once I had a dream where I walked in a forest and came to a little hut. I knocked on the door and an old man opened it. He welcomed me in and said he would now show me a special painting technique. He showed me a black and white painting he had made, and then how he layered thin layers of color on top of it, bringing it to life with vibrant colors. I tried to technique the next morning with a horse painting I was working on in acrylics, and to my surprise it worked perfectly. Only later did I learn the very technique is called the grisaille- technique. I had never heard of it before.

People who have died often come to my dreams, and the fun thing is that they are younger and more vibrant every time they appear. The encounters are brief, but I always feel good after such a dream.

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When I was younger I studied interpretation and translation at the university, and by accident ended up doing interpretation in a rather surprising environment – an English medium had arrived to where I live, to give a public demonstration, and the lady who was supposed to interpret for her caught the flu and had no voice. Someone knew me and asked if I could help them out. Well, I have to admit I was pretty curious about mediums, and so I agreed.

I was expecting a dim-lit room with a skull and a crystal ball and the medium wearing a turban, but instead I found myself in an ordinary lecture theater with a completely normal looking lady and ordinary people filling every seat. The medium began to talk and deliver messages from the “dead”, and I was totally surprised on how exact the messages were.

I interpreted for her and other mediums as well a few times, and they did not fish for information. Actually they told the clients were not to tell them anything, it was their job to deliver the information. I also got a message from someone I had known and the medium told the exact way this person had died. There was no way she could have known this beforehand. And all the messages from the “other side” were loving and encouraging, never dictating what the one still living here was supposed to do with their lives. The messages emphasized the fact that we are to make out own decisions in life. And that life continues after the doorway of death, and those who have already walked through it are still obseving our lives, and loving us.

So, these kind of experiences from my own life had an impact on Shadowhunter when the story began to form in my mind years back, and so this story has a buffer zone where the dearly departed can come to interact with us, and where dreams can be used for these interactions. The actual visiting this buffer zone in physical form is all imagination, though.

Nephilim Quest 1: Shadowhunter at Amazon

Why I Write

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How can I explain a passion I’ve always had?

 I have been writing stories since I learned to write, and I intend to continue as long as I can hold the pen / tap the keyboard (or whatever form writing takes in the future).

My fascination for books and writing rises from how a well written story takes the reader to another world, gives them a safe environment to feel deep emotions, and maybe makes them look at the world around them with new eyes.

And written words leave space for the imagination to fill in the gaps – the story can be different at each reading.

Also it is amazing how the written word connects people across the ages… In my Egyptology studies I read texts that were thousands of years old, and still felt a connection to the writers – their hopes, dreams, beliefs and emotions. Writing must be the most magical thing the human kind ever invented… I want that magic to continue.

Maybe one day in the future someone reads my books, finds my values and thoughts hidden in the story, and feels a connection to me. That magical touch or words and emotions through the years between people who have never met.

Yes, that is why I write.

 

Rejection Letters

As I am publishing my first ebook as an indie, it has been interesting to follow the discussion indie vs traditional publishing.

There have been researches that show ebooks are losing their popularity, and when you have a closer look at the subject, you find out the non-ISBN ebooks have not been counted in the sales numbers at all. (It is not necessary to have your own ISBN if you publish with for example Amazon and Smashwords)

The world is changing regarding self- and traditional publishing. I am sure both have their role in the world of reading, and neither should mock the other. Traditional publishing houses might expand their services to the direction of assisted publishing – hire their expertise to help wannabe indie authors, even if the publishing house itself isn’t publishing the book.

Also good indie e-books may be noticed by traditional print-publishers, which may lead to contracts to authors (though not all such offers are beneficial to the authors).

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Here is an interesting article regarding rejections by the publishing houses. Made me chuckle – I once received a rejection letter years back. Now I am not saying my writing was the best, as I was in my twenties, but on hindsight the comment of the publishing house was funny.

You see my book told about a school for wizards and witches. The rejection letter stated there was no market for that subject line. Not long after Harry Potter appeared (and mind you – I am not comparing myself to JK Rowling as an author). Goes to prove the publishing houses themselves often don’t know what will sell and what not.

But let us hope the cooperation between independent authors and publishing houses will move from opposition to cooperation.

http://ind.pn/1YTIGdv

 

Writing Is Reading?

Hmm… I was complaining the other day (oh well, most of the days) that I don’t have time enough to read stories. At the same time I was formatting my story ready for publication. Going through those 180.000 words I thought about my writing process.

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And really – I had made plans on how the story would develop. I’m very good at making plans. Just ask my hubby dearest who is shaking his head at all my calendars – both paper- and digital ones. Well you gotta have a calendar where you plan your writing schedule – your work calendar. And then a smaller calendar for the handbag you can dig out to check your everyday events (the handbag in question is actually big enough to accommodate the bigger work calendar as well, but that’s beside the point…)

I learned to plan every day beforehand when I had to write all those essays during my Egyptology studies. When I planned everything in my calendar the first day of the new semester, I always knew what I needed to do each week and day. Lessened stress considerably.

So plans, careful plans, were made to write Nephilim Quest 1: Shadowhunter. Only the story had other plans. It took over. New characters appeared and much to my surprise seemed to have a will of their own. When I really got into the flow of writing, my fingers typed and I just stared at the computer screen, wondering what was being written. It was like I was reading a book while it was being written. And oddly enough when I read the story through, I noticed my subconscious had tied the story nicely together. (Ok, well, nicely… The editing part took over a year)

So who am I to complain I don’t have time enough for novels? I was reading a story while my fingers typed in on the screen. Quite a wonderful experience, really, to see how a story pours out and onto the “paper”.

And now I need to take that work calendar and start planning the next story in the series… I do try to keep up with my plans, but most likely I’ll end up reading a story that writes itself through me. Still –  for a short while I can pretend I have it all planned beforehand, before I start the actual writing again…

The first chapters of Nephiilm Quest Book One: Shadowhunter can be read here.

If you have already read the previous chapters, you can continue with Chapter 2. Kitty Is Gone

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Writer’s Helpers

I came across these photos from the time I was working on my essays as part of my studies for the Certificate in Egyptology at the University of Manchester. (I continued the studies and now hold the Diploma in Egyptology, which took five years of studies that basically dominated my free time so I did not even have time to read novels). Our own apartment was being renovated and we lived for two months in a small one bedroom apartment, which was crammed by some of our furniture, hubby and me, and the three felines who are very much aware of the fact cats were worshipped in ancient Egypt.

I suppose if there is any writer out there with cats, this is a rather familiar experience to them. Kitties seem to be a like little children – if Mommy tries to concentrate on anything else but them, they make it known what the priorities are. Despite the intervention I did manage to finish the essay (it was about the rules of ancient Egyptian two-dimensional tomb art during the Old Kingdom).

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Obviously the rhythmic tapping of my fingers was rather relaxing, as you can see from the second photo…

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This still continues if I take a book or my iPad to my hands with the intention of reading or doing research. It seems a book is an invitation to the cat to hop on your lap…

Reading, reading, reading…

Now that the summer holiday is but a memory, I started thinking what was the best thing about it. Of course, like everyone else, I had plans to do all sorts of thing: write, paint, clean the cupboards and exercise. Well… I did write and draw, but somehow the cleaning of the cupboards didn’t happen quite as planned (I did arrange four shelves in my wardrobe, though, so there!). I blame the sun – after several weeks of rain and cold it suddenly made an appearance. I could not waste all that light and warmth into cleaning, now could I?

So what did I enjoy most? Reading. Long hours of uninterrupted reading… I marched into a bookstore and bought the thickest historical fiction novels I could find. (I like long stories as I read so fast. I often say a short story is lunch, but a loooong story is dinner).

Next time I have a holiday I forget about the plans and just go to the bookstore immediately. The dust bunnies can also have a holiday (not that I would be good at hunting them with the vacuum cleaner anyway) while I enjoy reading, reading, reading…

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Seven Things About My Writing

Miriam Bibby tagged me on Facebook to discuss 7 things about my writing. I figured I might post my reply here on my blog as well, with some editing done.

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1.  Not many know but I have written stories since I was… Well, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. Fairy stories as a child, and fantasy when I was older. None of those stories have been officially published. Though I did win some school writing contests. I don’t remember the subject of this one competition any more, but the best price was a trip to Hunnebostrand near Göteborg in Sweden. I still remember those roses climbing in the gardens, and the wonderful sea and islands. Not even Liseberg’s amusement part could compare to the sea… (I’ve always loved nature, and the sea especially)

 

2.  For the past five years I’ve mainly written Egyptology essays – first when I studied for the Certificate in Egyptology and then for the Diploma in Egyptology (University of Manchester). I really enjoyed that – loved all the research involved, and my only problem was that I could never fit in my essays all the information I had gathered. Still – pruning your original draft into half of its size sure teaches you not to fall in love with your own words. A very useful skill to any writer.

 

3.  I learned the hard way to first just write a story through, and not stop to polish my style until the first draft of a story is written. I used to fall to the same trap over and over again, and found myself making the old mistake of beginning to correct my style before the whole story was done. And that way the story never finishes.  The editing only comes afterward. (And trust me – that is much harder than the actual writing) 

 

4.  Oh, sorry. Sure I have published something, kinda sorta. I put up a website http://www.inspirational-short-stories.com a few years back, before starting my studies at the University of Manchester. There I put some of my stories. I am now in the process of pruning those – the site was sorely neglected because of my Egyptology studies. And after five years I look at what I write with completely new eyes… Some of the pages will definitely end up in garbage…  But oddly enough I seem to have quite a following in India… Strange… But I like the people and colorful culture of India, so that is quite nice actually.

 

5. And yes, you could read Mr. Mummific’s opinions about our modern life from an ancient Egyptian perspective as short stories, I suppose. You find him at http://www.ancientegypt101.com  – do have a peek but don’t take him too seriously… He has his dry tongue firmly in cheek. (If you only want Egyptology facts, then skip Mummific and go only to the facts-pages) At the moment we are slowly going through the pharaohs and queens of Egypt in chronological order, and I throw in other pages about other aspects of ancient Egypt as well, when I have the time. (If someone has time to sell, do tell…)

 

6.  I love historical novels and fantasy, and love to write that too. So that would be my genre for sure, if I publish my writings in real novel format. Needs diligent research, though, and there is always the fear you get some detail wrong, but I try to get my facts right. 

 

7. Shall I publish fiction, then? Have I written something “serious”? I leave you in suspense… But to give you a hint: Miriam A. Bibby​ is an excellent editor! (Something a non-native speaker of English definitely needs.) Just don’t your steal her from me, you aspiring writers – she is my “Precious”. (Yes, Lord of the Rings was my definite number 1 read when I was young). If you want to be impressed by her wonderful writing, check http://amzn.to/18xdUBC