It is sometime in March 2010. I sit in my host family’s living room, which is small, cozy and plushy, watching with my host mother one of her beloved Daily Soaps. East Enders, Coronation Street or this other one set in the north of England. As usual, I get fed with English sweets before dinner. There will also be a pudding later. One can rely on that.
I think it was this series from the north. One of the female characters decides to put some distance between herself and a family tragedy and therefore wants to swap her job at the local pub for a life on Jersey. When she says goodbye to her loved ones, it happens that someone wishes her all the best for Germany; Jersey – Germany. Everyone in the series laughs. My host mother and I too, since I am German.
And since then, I’ve really wanted to go to Jersey.
Two years later, in 2012, a friend of mine goes to Jersey on her honeymoon. Damn, why not me? Because, unlike her, I am still studying and do not have a regular income.
Since March 2010, I’ve never made it to Jersey. The first years since I couldn’t afford it. Later then for personal reasons. Anyway, the moment these two obstacles had gone, something else happened: Corona.
Well, I’m not really one who feels tremendous travel fever, wanderlust. But the ongoing pandemic has made it possible that even I regularly catch myself letting my thoughts wander to faraway places. Okay, Jersey isn’t that far away, which makes it even more attractive since one doesn’t have to travel that long.
Let’s get to the present days! Six weeks ago, I was nominated for the wonderful Author-challenge, which is about getting a word from another author, which will be the starting point for a longer short story. And what word did I get? No, not Jersey. But close: Starfish. And bada bing my thoughts are wandering to the sea. On Jersey to be exact. Where it is warm, but not too warm. The nature is so beautiful, and one is pretty much always by the sea. And the best thing is that everyone here speaks English.
Well, I don’t know when I’m going to travel to Jersey any time; physically. However, emotionally I spend there the last six weeks and it was quite eventful. I can tell you that and soon you will be able to read it too. What begins as a joyful trip among friends ends in a human catastrophe.
By the middle of this week, my story will be available as an eBook on Amazon. For eight weeks it will be for free and then for €0.99.
Have fun reading!
Ps.: it will not be a relaxing holiday on the Channel Island.
It’s there, my novel „George the Man Who Lost Himself“ is already available as a printbook. The e-book follows. My book is even available in all English-speaking countries. Although it’s in German, there are also people in the UK and Co. who read in German. Therefore …
I publish my novel as an indieauthor via Books on Demand a self-publishing platform where the reader can order my book. My feeling of „my heart drops into my guts“ is constantly increasing. I haven’t slept really well since the Email from Books on Demand on Thursday. Because what just robs me of sleep, but in return gives me a lot of grey hair, is the question of what can and must be done in order to market my book properly. It’s like it is: I’m not a marketing expert or businesswoman. I am an artist. Of course, it is extremely helpful that you can buy some services in this area from BoD and since I have already invested a few pennies here anyway, I don’t want to save at the wrong corner. But the selection is almost smashing and I don’t fully understand all of it. If someone who is familiar with publishing via Books on Demand: please get in touch!
What I do besides these Services, you can see here on my blog and my daily post on Instagram. Admittedly, I treat my Facebook account a little bit sloppily. That’s why I connected the account to my blog and my Instagram account, so that there is at least something going on there.
On Instagram, the community is just bigger and it’s easier for me to post there or leave a nice comment. In addition, I am always very grateful for the those lovely # campaigns by other authors. This helps a lot to post content.
I now love maintaining my blog. I quickly realized that it’s helpful to type down my thoughts and worries regarding my writing here, as this way I can sort my thoughts. So, I don’t find blog writing to be „annoying marketing work“.
What else can I do? I think I will go back to the matter with the Flyer, but this time a little more professional. Means, I’m not going to create them myself on the computer. I will order them from a company.
I could also ask our local newspaper if they would like to write an article about me. There I get a heart beater and the fear of rejection is like an albatross around my neck. But I have been rejected many times, however, kept doing my thing.
What is Twitch? This is recommended by BoD for author networking.
I could also try Lovelybooks. I even have an account already… I could do that during my Christmas holiday, because I need a lot of time for that.
I regularly participate in competitions.
There are tremendously many things that I could do, should do. I need more time and more arms. On each hand a smartphone that takes care of another platform. Two or three extra pairs of ears could be helpful as well.
Okay then, I’m going to cry out in the fetal position for a bit, but then I’ll start right away.
Writing the last blog entry was absolutely liberating. As I was writing it, I noticed blockages dissolving and structures were forming. Talking or writing about things usually helps. Why hadn’t I done this before? Probably because I just needed some time. To breathe or simply to gain strength.
As mentioned in my last entry, unfortunately, a sad event occurred in my family at the beginning of the summer. Someone who was important to me in different ways has said goodbye to us. After a long illness, he had died. However, since our relationship was quite ambivalent, it is correspondingly difficult to say goodbye. I mean the thoughts and feelings I had with his death were equally ambivalent. In addition, his death had also left me with a few other painful facts regarding family. That had occupied me for quite some time time.
In my last entry, I also mentioned that I am thinking of participating in a competition which’s deadline is the end of September. Well, these two things go together, because the subject of the competition is dark moments. I had kept it a little open to whether I would process my emotional chaos by writing a piece that I could contribute. And so it happened that it got up completely unexpected and thus absolutely unadulterated. On a Friday night, an hour before I wanted to leave the house, a poem left my emotional world. The fact that it became a poem was a bit of a surprise to me, because I hadn’t written one since puberty. But if you think about it a little more closely, it’s not too surprising, as a poem is the most natural way to express one’s feelings. It is impulsive, fragmented and focused on the essentials. Just like an outburst of emotion.
It’s feels tremendously good being able to free myself a little bit and at the same time getting back into a productive writing process. I feel so much more connected to myself again.
After a longer break I would like to report back with a blog entry. After I had uploaded articles about my novel George or various other writing projects quite regularly, I ran out of ideas. In addition, I was quite frustrated at times, and there were a few reasons for that. Let’s start with the most harmless.
First of all, I was annoyed by the „downsides“ of social media, and that, although this is about such small things as „Follow to unfollow“. I know there are many more serious problems for other accounts, such as inappropriate and disrespectful comments. If I don’t like someone’s account, I just don’t follow it. End of story. But I am annoyed by „follow to unfollow“ because on the one hand it is disrespectful and on the other hand quite naive. Do people really think that with my smaller account, I don’t realize that someone isn’t even following me for 24 hours? That is a bit spoony. I also simply abhor disrespect.
Okay, let’s get to the things you should really be annoyed about or that’s worth pausing and reflecting on. So far this year I have participated in three competitions and a casting for a short film. That I was not taken for the latter was to be expected and not really painful. The three competitions are two short stories contests and the other one was about winning a contract with a publisher. In the former case, I am still waiting for the results, but the closer the date of the announcement gets, the more disillusioned I become. Moreover, the time between submission and the date of the announcement gives me the feeling that I am completely inactive and that I would do nothing for becoming an author which is actually nonsense. But now we are dealing with my actual and biggest problem, which I will come to talk about in a moment.
With regard to the competition for the publishing contract, I have to admit that I had participated very spontaneous in this, since I had found out about it at the very last second and had therefore not put too much expectation into it. The fact that I had not been shortlisted was not a huge disappointment. However, the day before I had received the cancellation for the casting and on the same day my billing of my self-publishing platform Neobooks for my novel „George“. I think on the bill were 2 sold copies. With each previously received invoice, fewer copies were sold. It was frustrating. All three things so close together was just absolutely frustrating.
And then one pauses. One starts to get a little petulant. One begins to question whether this is all a waste of time. One starts to think that you could just do it for yourself, just for fun. In that time I started writing my little fantasy short story. But that’s not me. I don’t do anything just for fun. I have to make sense of things. I have to fight for something. Moreover, this is not the first time I have been at this point. And for another time you get up and improve because you reflect, consult with others, take advices, put out feelers to learn about new possibilities. In fact, these lowpoints can do a lot of good. So, I keep fighting and that’s why I started to reshuffle the pack – I hope this makes sense – and now approach things differently. At least for my novel „George“.
I canceled everything with Neobooks and dealt with the option of using the platform Books on Demand. If this is the best story I’ve ever written, I would like to leave no stone unturned in bringing it to as many people as possible. So much for that and, ultimately, it’s easy once you’ve made a full decision. I have put together my BoD package so to say and currently I am waiting for all parts, such as proofreading etc. to be done.
Let us now turn to my biggest personal problem, as mentioned above: to feel idle. While my dear George is getting ready by and for BoD and then will be published I have to pursue some other project. I can’t possibly recover from the work week on my weekends. At the moment, I actually treat myself to a whole day off every Saturday and during my summer holiday I refused writing even for a week. But it’s about to come up again: that feeling of dissatisfaction.
Thank God I am not running out of ideas. Quite the opposite. There is always a story going on in my head that haunts me until I put it to paper. As a matter of fact, I’m rather a little lost in my thousand projects at the moment. The first thing I did was putting my fantasy short story aside. That was the easiest step. Although I will deal with it in a moment.
I now have to decide what makes more sense: to continue writing my story, which I began at the beginning of the year? It is set in the genre of crime fiction and already has over 24,000 words. It’s kind of a unique story. The story takes place in winter and in May at the latest I wasn’t quite up for winter feelings, so I came to a halt.
Or should I continue rewriting a slightly older manuscript that I had written completely in English. The story, from the genre Young Adult, is very close to my heart. I had once chased the manuscript through the Word translation program – for fun actually – and was surprised how well it went. During the summer holiday I had started to correct the nastiest translation errors. It is, in fact, a work that goes well. But the story actually makes me feel low, since it is quite psychological and goes pretty deep. I have proper mood swings on the days of revision. In the short or long term, I definitely want to publish the story.
And oh my God, I still have a finished manuscript that a friend currently is revising. This is written in a finished way, but I would like to change a lot in terms of storytelling and especially in relation to the end. But this actually has time and it can serve as a kind of back-up manuscript for possible dry periods. This story is also more Young Adult.
Okay, as far as my stories in book length are concerned, I am so far quite well replete with. I just wonder if the question of „with which story should I continue“ really is the most important one. Shouldn’t I increase my “prominence”, i.e. reach first by participating in more competitions? There are actually still some quite interesting contests this year and I’m even considering taking part in one in the UK. One short story competition is about fantasy. As you know I’ve already written the beginning of one.
I dally with the idea of participating in a competition whose deadline is as late as the end of September. Quite crazy, because I’m still busy with the release of „George“ and I also have quite stressful weeks due to work. However, the theme of this short story competition is interesting as it is about dark moments and I recently had not only a crisis in writing, but also regarding my family. Perhaps this short story could help with the processing.
Well, while I am writing everything from the soul and thinking about it, I come to the realization that I am only just – once again – at the very beginning of a publication and therefore a potential manuscript for my next publication can or should be secondary. That’s why I’d rather compete for a few contests. The only question now is whether I would like to submit something as early as the end of September…
Currently I am of course working diligently on my novel, crime novel, novel with crime elements – or which genre I can and would like to assign my story to. Well, I think this time it’s going quite clearly in the direction of crime novels. However, again the characters are very clearly in the foreground. It’s like it is: a story is told by the characters. That’s the way it is when you watch a movie as well. For me, movies or series are especially valuable when the characters can develop, are multifaceted and the plot develops around them. This is how my crime novel – I just call it that, end of story – is told: through the eyes of the protagonist.
On another thing recently, I deliberately chose a genre: that of fantasy novels. Interestingly, I never thought of myself as a fantasy fan. Which is frankly quite nonsense. There are an incredible number of fantasy films that have always accompanied me. From classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter to animated films such as Spirited Away. Of course, I also read one or the other Terry Pratchett novel. As a child, I never wanted to be anything other than a witch at Carnival. Witches know a lot, have power and can help others. Not to mention the supernatural abilities. I think what often scared me off in fantasy was when it was either too serious or too little. A fantastic world in which the characters behave the way people behave in everyday life that’s what it takes in my opinion. No exuberant pathos, no thoroughly humor-free characters, no flat characters that do not develop and must not have figural shades. If that doesn’t exist, then the story is authentic and I can feel connected to the characters. I think this is also one of the reasons why Game of Thrones or the Witcher are so successful, apart from the cool stories.
But as much as I am honest with myself and now call myself a small to medium-sized fantasy fan, I wouldn’t dare writing a fantasy novel myself. The proverbial creation of worlds, as authors do, is a very different order of magnitude in the fantasy genre. Of course, there are elements that appear in almost all stories, such as wizards or seers. Nevertheless, it is much more complex here. Just consider all the skills that these characters have and how they can be reversed by other characters‘ abilities. One advantage here would certainly be to deal more with these issues in general. In other words, the interests are almost exclusively in the fantasy genre.
But anyway, I was curious and therefore decided to make a small trip to Nerdville, the Nerdshire, Geektown. I’m writing a fantasy short story but I don’t want to put so much pressure on myself. Rather, it should be a hobby. So, I thought about writing a paragraph every now and then. The main characters as well as the rough idea are already in place. You can read the story bit by bit on Instagram.
After I uploaded my entry last week, I noticed that currently I have a third, smaller writing project, namely the contribution to a competition. I would like to put this in between at this point, before I will tell you about my second story, I am currently working on, a bit more closely next time. In the small town Immenhausen, near my hometown Kassel, the Heckethaler Literature Prize is held once a year and this year I would like to contribute. What I find very appealing is the fact that a theme is given here and this year it is called ‚Jubilee‘. A predetermined character number of the prose text is understandably also specified what I find challenging. Usually I don’t work with those guidelines. Working on my stories there are no limits to my creativity from the outside, which is wonderful on the one hand, but on the other hand can also go beyond the scope. That was in fact the topic of my last post, when I wrote about losing myself in character descriptions. Working according to guidelines, can therefore be quite helpful.
Before I started working on the prose text, first I looked up the word jubilee. I have to admit that while I know roughly what it means, I hardly have been using the word myself. The bottom line is that such an anniversary can mean a lot: various human gatherings, such as weddings, graduations, the foundation of a city, the first enjoyment of ice cream with cookie dough pieces and so on and so forth. So, the question that came to my mind was: what kind of jubilee do I actually want to describe, and above all, how? In a sad way, funny, romantic, exciting or maybe everything at one go?
As so often, I chose a narrative with a more subtle sense of humour. A loving design of the characters with exaggerated characteristics that possibly make some readers laugh. Thus, the question of the prose’s overall energy is clarified, but not yet after the anniversary as such. And frankly, unfortunately, I still haven’t reached that point. But there is still time until the deadline and there is still the option that I can work this out throughout the story writing as such. That’s why I’d rather design the main character first. This was really fun again, because it’s going to be a grumbly old man, who prefers to spend his free time with nagging. I have to confess that I have a sweet spot for grumblers, so my childhood heroes were usually naggers, who actually have a golden heart, but rarely show it, because they think that no one cares. Grumble heads, which are unintentionally funny, because you cannot take them 100 percent seriously in their displeasure. Looking closer it becomes clear that they want to be loved, like everybody else. Otherwise they wouldn’t complain.
So I started my text with the old grumble head receiving an invitation from a few friends for an anniversary, and now he is asking himself what it might be about, because he simply can’t think of something that connects him with these friends, that should be celebrated with an anniversary.
Thus, the beginning of the text is created. Let’s see which anniversary I’m going to decide for and, of course, whether the old nagger will go at all.
Last week a dear friend sent me a link regarding another competition. This is about writing a short story with a predetermined topic, ‘contact’. I will definitely take this opportunity. I had an idea for the beginning or the general topic right away. That’s why I nearly forgot writing about my current book project. But I don’t want to let it get there. I have only written about fifty pages, but the structure and the end are already in place. As a passionate crime story reader as well as watcher I would like to try writing one myself and again the characters shall be in the focus. What else should come to the fore is the humour. However, only as far as it’s good for the story, that is, the whole thing does not make it a comedy.
Without knowing it first, I have imposed a certain degree of difficulty on myself: the story is told from the first-person perspective. The first-person perspective here is the female detective Rose Woodbury, an American policewoman just before her retirement. Writing a thriller from a single angle is not that easy, as it is almost impossible to lead different narrative strands and ultimately let them come together as when using a third person narrator. The surprise moments are also far more difficult to write, as I cannot write about facts, circumstantial evidence, suspects and the like, about which Rose does not yet know. Turns come totally out of the blue. But I am still at the beginning and that is why I believe that it will develop. Maybe through my research (read more crime novels and watch more crime movies) I might get some helpful tips.
As I said, Rose is an older, experienced detective who has a distinctly younger partner Fox who sometimes isn’t the most helpful. For this reason (and a few more) she regularly remembers the time with her first partner Cal. This time is already about thirty years ago. In many of her steps, she thinks about how Cal would have handled the situation, or she falls into fond memories, as they also had a friendly relationship, of course. On top of that, Rose had become a detective at a time when women in the job were often ridiculed. Even her own husband had not taken her as seriously and supported her as he should have done as a husband. Cal, however, was much more open and saw in Rose what she was capable of. From the beginning, she had felt encouraged by him. You see, my story has several levels, including that of gender roles.
By the way, this story is for once set in America, in the fictional city of Carter up in the north. Before I started writing, I had watched some American crime movies that were set in the North, in the snow. This grabbed me so much that I somehow couldn’t imagine allowing my story to happen in another region.
Before I continue to write, however, I must first write the short story. In fact, compared to my novel, it has a deadline for submissions.
However, there is more about the characters in my next blog entry.
What am I currently writing about? Honestly, I am actually working on two projects at the moment. The first one is already finished in its rough version. But as I said, it really is utterly rough und the style of the story is so different from “George”.
I have at times given this project the working title ‚Parallels‘ or ‚Two‘, because it concerns two people whose lives are at first glance completely contrary. Nevertheless, they have a great deal in common. They have in common how they feel and the way they think, where they live – in London, of course – and their style of working. What’s contrasting is how they grew up, their gender and the approach to pursuing their overarching goal. They have quite a similar plan: to be able to live on their art. Dorian wants to come out big with his music and Olli wants nothing more than being a writer. While Dorian is already aiming to achieve his goal at a young age – he even leaves school for it – Olli on the other side loses sight of her goal for quite a while. The reason for the different starting points is Dorian’s and Olli’s diverse upbringings as well as their social environment. It becomes clear that the environment of a person is decisive for my stories, because that is rather often the case in real life as well. However, it’s not the upbringing and social environment alone that is imprinting a person. A person’s nature, one’s basic character traits as well have an important influence on what we make of life.
Why do I call the manuscript so very rough? Well, I’ve lost myself a little bit in many places regarding my character descriptions. So deeply that even for me it got too much. I want to tell a story about how similar two people can be, who at first glance aren’t. It should be a story about how connected we all are, even if we never thought it might be possible.
But I will thoroughly revise this manuscript, prune, expand parts of the story and add new elements. Anyway, there is still the question about how it should end. Happy ending or not? How about an open end?
What my second project is about will be the content of my next entry.
In my penultimate post, I had actually announced that I would write about the main character of the story I am currently working on in my next entry.
But then there was that nasty little writing blockade in relation to my prose text on the subject of „jubilee“ about which I had to have a good cry on your lovely shoulders. Interestingly, I was able to finish writing my text the next day. Sometimes it actually helps to just write everything from the soul, to name the problems. Since I am going to submit the text to a competition, I cannot go into it any further at this point.
So now it is finally about good old Rose Woodbury, the female detective from my story. I already mentioned that she is quite close to retirement. She has her younger partner Fox, who often drives her mad at times due to his simplicity. She rather prefers thinking of her former partner Cal, a thoughtful man whose open-mindedness had made him an outstanding detective. Rose had always appreciated this and had therefore relied almost blindly on his judgment.
How exactly is Rose knitted? Compared to Cal, for example, who was particularly able to see, recognize and analyze the external circumstances, Rose is someone who likes to „climb“ into the minds of others. Once there, she turns every stone of their personality, questions their past and tries to put herself into their general thinking. However, it is important to her not to be seen as a typical profiler. Rather, it is her knowledge of human beings that is above average. Rose likes to watch people. When eating – even if this is not always a beautiful sight – how they dress, do certain things, how they deal with their fellow human beings or animals, to what extent they take themselves seriously and so on. Rose always tries to see the big picture, which of course doesn’t always work out. After all, she is able to realise when a person tries to pretend, to blind others with one’s behavior, as a psychopath would do. Not even Cal was able to do that.
In addition to her skills, Rose at times can be quite a grumble head. I had mentioned that I have a weakness for this type of person. But Rose also has her soft, cordial core, and after having strong feelings about someone in the end Rose always tries to see one’s good sides though.
One of their strengths is clearly loyalty. If she knew Cal was right, she didn’t question his judgment. Likewise, she continues to maintain her friendship with a retired detective, Franki Bushmill.
Let’s see what character traits I’ll give Rose while continue writing the story …
Last week you couldn’t find a new entry from me here, which was mainly because I didn’t really know how to put my thoughts into words. That’s why I just followed up on my long-held idea of running my blog in English as well.
I had actually achieved a lot the week before last week, and that was writing the complete short story on the topic of „contact“. And even though I felt almost euphoric about the end, I kind of fell into a hole afterwards. Do you know that? You did something the way you set out to do it —the scope and timeline were met—but after you’ve done your work, you’re almost deadly unhappy. That’s what I felt when I handed in my bachelor’s and master’s thesis. Although, I just wanted to get rid of my thesis to put an end to this sadistic, masochistic endeavour.
With my stories it is of course different. It feels more like separation pain, because you don’t deal with your characters anymore. To develop them, to breathe life into them, to allow them to experience things, all this is utterly personal and intimate. Admittedly, a main character in an eight-page short story is not written in as much detail as the one of a book-length story. Nevertheless, one experiences that short story together with him.
The last few days I tried to continue writing my prose text of 9,000 characters. However, somehow nothing is happening. I simply can’t think of a jubilee to which the old nagger could possibly be invited, come hell or high water. It’s enough to drive me up the wall since I’ve come quite a long way actually. On the subject of contact, writing was so easy and I wonder what the problem is now with the anniversary. While my short story on the subject of „contact“ is only bristled with humour in one or two places and I have brought the atmosphere more into focus, the prose text is supposed to indulge in the more subtle humor. Perhaps that is where the difficulty lies. The skilful use of humor is a fine line. As too much of it makes the whole thing slapstick and too intentional. That is why I find it so difficult to determine the occasion for the anniversary. It should be a little more outstanding, however it shouldn’t be absurd either. I constantly have the tea party at the crazy hatmaker’s from Alice in Wonderland in my mind. Although I’ve loved this story since I was a kid, I never really liked this particular scene because it’s reminiscent of a fever dream. Everything is so absurd, nothing is tangible. This is not how my anniversary celebration is supposed to be.
Well, after all, my main character is already at the point when he wants to leave the house to go to the celebration. I stop whining now and send him on a jolly good jamboree.