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Happy New Year!

It’s 2018… and I’m back!

It’s been a while, over a month I’d say, and I’ve missed blogging. Did you miss me? I bet you’ve had many things to keep you busy over the festive season. I have so many things to tell you and I hardly know where to start. 2018 is going to be such an active year for me.

Killing A Vampire

My biggest accomplishment in 2017 was finishing Book 3 of the Suckers Trilogy. I was able to send it to the beta readers before Christmas, and I’m receiving their responses back now. The few grammatical errors (tenses keep being my bane), the odd remark on character statements, but overall a positive reaction. I even received a pat on the back for two suspenseful chapters by Kathy Lance, an ex-director of an international school of linguists and now book reviewer for One Stop Fiction. She’s a tough one, writing very honest reviews, and her comment made me very proud.

I must admit I was a bit wary of this book when I began writing it. I have planned this story for a long time, and writing it according to ‘plan’ felt different than writing the first two books, which were written ‘from the wrist.’ Writing the interactions between the characters still felt exciting as they were new on the page, but I worried about the storyline once I finished it.  I wanted a grand finale and felt my story lacking. I discussed the issue with my family and they helped me improve it. Now I have revised the ending, got rid of the grammatical errors, and changed the wording here and there, I feel this story is a great ending to the trilogy and am ready to promote it.

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Christmas Celebration

Over Christmas, we flew to Holland to spend time with the family. We visited almost all of our dearest family and slept in four different beds in the seven days we were there. The weather was great, we only had rain the last day. We were very lucky to get a Maastricht city tour from my uncle, who has been a tour guide in one of Holland’s oldest cities. We visited the tunnels as well, which was very different from what I expected. We spent two days in the Efteling, a fairytale theme park, which is always a big hit with the kids. It was great to see everyone again and we were sad to leave.  I was glad to sleep in my own bed again though 🙂

What is 2018 going to bring?

Promoting

First of all, the promotion of my trilogy. I never thought I would ever write a book, so finishing three has been a major accomplishment in my life. It gives me a real boost and I’m looking forward to promoting them. I love writing and will continue. There are so many new ideas already flying around in my head.

Improving health

The new year also brings a new year’s resolution for me as I have never been this unhealthy and overweight in my life. Writing has been my passion and I have put all things aside for it. This year, I need to take more care of my body, my family, and my house. I have started doing yoga exercises and will begin doing some physical exercises as well. I’ll have to take it slow, as I’m as flexible as a door. Next to this, I fell on my wrist during ice skating on our holiday and it is still painful. Fingers crossed it won’t be a chronic issue.

 

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Family time

I also need to take out more time for my family as I feel like I have neglected them badly and want to spend more time with them. I’m going to cut our TV-watching dinners and eat at the dining table so we can have actual conversations. Cooking more interesting dinners and resolving the draft issues in the dining room will probably help promote this.

Renovations

2018 is also the year that we are going to have major renovations done to the house. We have decided that it takes too long to do everything ourselves. Sometimes you need to put a little water to your wine. The work doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as it functions and you can enjoy life instead of worrying about not having enough time. So, the kitchen and family bathroom are going to be done by someone else than ourselves. The kitchen project will cause some problems as last year, my husband decided to rip out the little kitchen in the basement ‘because it was ugly.’ We will now have to organize a makeshift kitchen in the dining room when we rip out the old kitchen. This will mean my previous resolution of having meals in the dining room will have to be postponed, but hopefully it won’t take a whole year (famous last words).

Reading

As I won’t be writing 24/7 anymore, I also hope to have more time to read so watch this space for some awesome book reviews!

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Do you have any new year’s resolutions or major plans for 2018? I’d love to hear what’s written down on your calendar 🙂

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Silence is golden

As I’m working very hard on finishing Book 3 of the Suckers Trilogy, I’m going into silent mode. I read the other day the handy tip of another writer to dedicate one month to writing, the next to promoting. That’s exactly what I need to do as I’m wasting too much time on promoting at the moment and not getting very far with my writing.

I promised my readers that my book would be ready by the end of this year. That’s not going to happen and I feel bad for letting my readers down. Going into silent mode will mean that the first draft will be finished before Christmas and that I can hopefully publish the book by Valentine’s Day. I thought that would be a great day to publish the final chapter of my paranormal romance 🙂

So no blog posts from me until I get that first draft finished. As I wrote Book 1 in two weeks, it shouldn’t take that long!

PS: Why does healthy cereal taste like cardboard?

Header photo by Kristina Flour from Unsplash

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Last Minute Decision!

My book is available for FREEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Yes, you’ve read correctly. My second book, Raising A Vampire, is free on Amazon at the moment. Only on 23-24 November 2017 will you be able to get this book for free, so grab it while you can!

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WHO IS FRIEND AND WHO IS FOE?

Raising A Vampire is a romantic and suspenseful story of Kate, who tries to make the best of life for her family and herself whilst hiding a terrible secret.

Ten years after Black October, when a virus plagued the world and turned people into blood-suckers, Kate invites a colleague into her home. When he attacks Kate, Sue, her daughter, comes to the rescue and is exposed for what she really is. Kate accompanies Sue when she is taken prisoner.

The situation quickly spirals downhill when an old flame of Kate turns up and he resumes his quest for Kate’s love while her daughter is being wooed by a sucker.

Once more, Kate is thrown into turmoil and heartache.

Can Kate keep her family and her wits together?

Find out what happens to Kate and her loved ones in the second book of the Suckers Trilogy.

“It’s fast-paced with plenty of surprises and keeps you guessing until the end.”

“Ms. Dahlhaus reinvigorates those old bitey routines with a bit of smart storytelling while managing to make insightful comments on our society.”

“A mother of emotional rollercoasters.”

“I wanted to slap Kate more than once for her quick actions that highly impacted the safety of the entire family.”

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And the winner is…

ME! Plus forty-nine others, of course…

You may remember my post regarding me being shortlisted for Twisted50 Vol.2. Well, today they finally announced the fifty winners whose stories will be entered in the Twisted50 Volume 2 anthology. It was a long wait, but it was worth it :). Check out all the winners here.

My winning story is called ‘Rumour has it…’ and is not for the faint at heart. It’s about a girl who stands trial for gruesome murders committed. You’ll have to buy the book to read the whole story, and, man, are there some twisted stories in there! At the moment they’re voting on the book cover, but I’ll let you know the link to the book as soon as I’ve got it.

Now, I’m off to dance around the house!

#Twisted50

 

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GET YOUR FREE COPIES NOW!

Only one day left!

Get your copies now, before the promotion ends. There is a multitude to choose from. They’re free, so why wait?

Click here to get your FREE romance kick!

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Book Review: Shifters Stand

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I read this book as I was intrigued by its blurb. Even though it is the third book of a trilogy, it was easy to follow. The backstory was slowly revealed the further I got into the book, yet from the first page onward, the story is engaging.

Characters are fleshed out, emotions are well described, and tensions are high to get mates back as their lives are at stake. The Shifters must defeat their enemy or all will be lost. Until the very end, you don’t know if this is going to happen or not as the threats are as real as it gets. Whether the Shifters make it or not… well, you’ll have to read the story. Take some time for reading as you will want to know the ending.

Mr. Griffith has produced a great ending to a great, and clean, YA adventure.

Get your copy on Amazon.

 

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Social Media Takeovers: An Unknown Phenomenon

Yesterday, Halloween 2017, I took part in the Dark Fantasy Books takeover and had a ball. ‘What’s a takeover?’ you may ask. That’s exactly the problem; most people don’t know what it is, let alone that they can participate. I’ll try and remedy this situation and hopefully help authors and readers alike. A win-win situation!

What is a Takeover?

According to the Collins English Dictionary, a takeover is the act of taking control of a country, political party, or movement by force. The takeover I’m talking about is less aggressive as it is a virtual party where various people take the reins and host the party for a limited time, usually half an hour. I have only done Facebook takeovers (two in total; I’m still a noob), but you can have them on any type of social media.

There should be guidelines to a takeover and the person organizing it usually lets all participants know what is expected. See it as a real party. First, you introduce yourself in a post. You talk a bit about where you’re from and what you do. Then you promote whatever you’re promoting in a couple of posts, including samples and links to your product. You usually end with a post on how people can contact you for more information.

Sounds like a boring sales talk? Wrong! Laced through this information are quizzes, games, funny anecdotes, unknown insights, and samples! People have to post funny GIFs, answer questions about topics of the takeover, and there are usually jokes. The crazier the questions, the crazier the answers, the more fun to be had!

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Gain for Readers

Takeovers are so lucrative for readers! I was, again, amazed that all participants in the takeover were only authors. Apart from being lots of fun with quizzes and games, there are lots of free books up for grabs. Most authors give away prequels for free and the prizes are usually their books. Next to this, you get to know the author. You get a connection with them and this makes reading their books so much more interesting.

So you get a fab time and free books. What more could you ask for?

Gain for Authors

When you do a book takeover, you usually do it with a group of authors that write in your genre. It’s a great way to connect with like-minded spirits, read samples of their work, and make new friends. It is amazing how small the world becomes in this virtual reality. Best of all, your work gets seen by more people who hopefully will share your work, spread the word about your book, and possibly write a review.

Promotion

I guess the key to a successful takeover is promotion. If you don’t promote the takeover well in advance, nobody will know about it and nobody will show up. You can use all social media available to spread the word. Do it clear and do it loud! The more attendees, the merrier 🙂

If you are a reader and you know an author, participate in a takeovers when they advertise one. Like I said, it’s a win-win situation!

Header image by Luiz Hanfilaque from Unsplash, edited by Jacky Dahlhaus

Party photo by Anthony DELANOIX from Unsplash.

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My BargainBooksy Promo Results

I bought two BargainBooksy deals for last weekend. One was to promote Book 1 on Saturday and the other to promote Book 2 on Sunday. They cost me $70 each. The results are not bad, even though I didn’t get my money back by a long shot. I sold thirty-eight copies of Book 1 (27 + 11) and twenty copies of Book 2 (5 + 15). A total of fifty-eight books! I’m hoping to see some new reviews soon. Fingers crossed!

What surprised me most was the effect it had on my sales and author ranking. Here are the two graphs of my book sales.

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The first thing that strikes me is that both books rose in ranks up to about #35,200. I find this strange as I sold nearly twice as many copies of Book 1 than Book 2. It may be explained when you look at what ranking they came from. Book 1 started at ranking #1,150,000 and Book 2 at ranking #600,000, a near two-fold difference.

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As you can see in the graph above, my author ranking shot up from #575,00 to just under #16,000. It looks even better when you look at my total ranking so far (from January 2016 when I published my first book):AuthorRank160112-171029

From this graph, you can see that my lowest point happened after the launch of my first book. I had no idea about promoting and my book ranking plummeted into the Amazon Abyss. It shot up again after I released my second book. From then on it has been going up and down with sporadic sales, but following the bottom line, it is in a slow but steady climb. Lately, it has been going up with a slightly steeper inclination as I re-released Book 2 a few months ago and am getting the hang of promotions. The latest spike happening due to my BargainBooksy sales. On this graph it looks like I’m almost hitting #1! Wishful thinking, LOL!

The overall picture of all these graphs tell me:

  • Writing and publishing more books makes you go up in rank
  • Paid promoting makes your books go up in rank
  • I’m on the right track
  • I shouldn’t give up

I better get to finishing Book 3 asap!

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SALE! SALE! SALE!

It’s Halloween soon and what better time to have a PARANORMAL BOOK SALE!

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Book 1 and Book 2 are on sale on Amazon 🙂

 

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Living Like A Vampire

  1. 9Just in case you don’t have anything to read during the Halloween Holidays…

Living Like A Vampire is on sale 28-31 October 2017 and available on Amazon and KOBO.

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Chapter 1

On Friday night, October 15th, 2004, Sue, Charlie and I, three new teachers at Bullsbrook high school, sat in The Celtic Frog, the local bar. We occupied the corner booth that we had made our own since we had arrived in town two months ago. The bar was the only place that appeared to continue as usual since the start of the sucker pandemic a week ago. The bar owners, a couple called Abby and René, still served drinks and the usual patrons hung off the bar or sat in their usual seats.

There were, however, a large number of new customers. They were refugees escaping the city. The first ones arrived six days ago, but their number had steadily grown. In the beginning we didn’t think anything of it, just an unusual time of the year to get vacationers. As the news reports became increasingly scary, more and more arrived and today the biggest wave hit. Their conversations were hushed and anxious. We could hear snippets of horror stories about people being chased, herded, and slaughtered like cattle. We, too, sat huddled in our corner booth, whispering, discussing what to do next.

All of a sudden, we heard a commotion. I had heard a man talk loudly minutes before, but now people shrieked and cried. The three of us raised our heads to find out what was happening and I could see a cluster of people had gathered around one of the newcomers.

“They’re watching a camcorder,” Sue said.

I pushed her to move as I wanted to know what was on the camcorder that would make people cry like that. “Come on,” I said, “get going. I want to see it too.”

She stood up, followed on her heels by me. Charlie got up as well and followed us to the wailing people.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Oh my god,” said Abby. She wiped tears from her face with one hand as she grabbed my shoulder with the other. “You’ll have to see it to believe it.”

She pushed me to the front of the crowd. An old man, I guessed in his sixties with a rather saggy build and a haunted look on his face, was holding a camcorder with its viewing screen out. More people tried to see the recording, but the ones who had already seen it were reluctant to move. They apparently needed to see the footage for a second time to convince themselves that what they had seen wasn’t a figment of their imagination. The old man backed up the recording and restarted it. What I saw scared the hell out of me.

It started off with a younger couple in a happy pose at a restaurant. The camera was then handed, I presumed by a waitress, to the man of the couple.  He continued filming the woman. It must have been her birthday or some other celebration as the man gave her a present and, after a big hug to the man, she began unwrapping it. I couldn’t hear what was being said.

From that one scene of happiness, it turned into one of chaos and slaughter. Suckers stormed into the restaurant, their fangs clearly visible, grabbing customers and waiters alike. The lucky lady who had been unwrapping the present screamed when one of the suckers grabbed her arm and tried to pull her away. She struggled. The camera movement became erratic, as if it was being used to hit the attacker of the woman. I saw the arm of the sucker move in the direction of what I think was the camera man’s neck. The camera then followed the movements of the man’s hand as he fought to get the arm off himself. You could see the sucker laugh, he actually laughed, before pulling the woman he was still holding in front of him. Her eyes were glazed over, she was in shock. The sucker then sank his teeth into her neck, watching the man as he did it. The camera movements became more erratic as the sucker dropped the woman and turned his efforts to the man holding the camera. We couldn’t see what happened next as in the struggle the camera was launched and landed on one of the other tables, in a plate full of pasta. Over the top of spaghetti, I saw the people in the restaurant become the dish of the day.

“Where did you say you found the camera?” someone in the crowd asked.

“Two days ago in Needham, halfway down the road to Portland,” said the old man loudly. “I was looking for food and found it lying there, in the pasta. Nobody but dead bodies there anymore, the suckers had already left.”

“Why didn’t you stay there? How’d you get past the suckers?” someone else asked.

“With a big, fast car,” he replied. “I was lucky to have missed the sucker attack, working in my cellar and my hearing being bad, but my wife didn’t survive.” There were tears in his eyes now. “I’ve come to warn you. I’ve lost my reason to live, but you still have a chance to save yours. I want people to know what’s coming for them. Y’all have to get outta here! They’re coming!” His voice was thick with emotion, his eyes wild, as he frantically looked around at the gathered crowd.

I glanced over my shoulder at Sue, then at Charlie standing beside me. They seemed as shocked as I was. More questions were called out to the old man, but I wasn’t interested in them. I’d heard enough. We returned to our corner booth, too traumatized by the images to speak for a while.

School had been suspended until further notice earlier that day and we didn’t have to worry about teaching. Most people had taken their children out of Bullsbrook during the past week anyway. So far the threat had seemed far away and we all thought it would be dealt with before it spread. These people and these images told a different story. It wasn’t going to be safe here for much longer.

“We have to get away,” I said. “We have a better chance of survival if we get away from the crowd.”

“Are you sure? Wouldn’t it be better if we stayed here?” Sue’s dreadlocks bounced as she spoke. She shifted in her seat.

I scanned the bar’s customers. “You saw the tape.”

So many new faces. So much fear.

“I think,” Sue said, her southern accent thicker than usual, “that we have a better chance if we stand with the people from the town. More manpower.”

My eyes went back to Sue. I let her words sink in and pursed my lips.

“I don’t agree. What do you think Charlie?”

Sue and I both turned to look at Charlie. Being a dwarf didn’t diminish his presence and, being ten years our senior, I gave his vote more weight. The low lighting cast dark shadows on his face, accentuating his dark mood.

“I agree with Kate. Even if all the people in town worked together, we could never stand up to the numbers that the suckers must have gathered by now. Let the army take that fight. We need to get out of here and hide until this is dealt with by the authorities.”

I followed Charlie’s stare and waited for Sue to respond. Finally, she nodded, dreadlocks bouncing again.

“You sure?”

“Yeah, he’s right. Better to hide than to fight.”

“Okay, so where do we go?” Charlie asked.

I put my lips on my thumb as I’d bitten too much skin off next to my nail while I was listening to Charlie. It was bleeding. I shut my eyes to deal with the pain and the image of my parents and sisters flashed by. I still didn’t know their fate. Last night I’d hardly slept, being tormented by nightmares of possibilities, and the resulting tiredness didn’t make me think any clearer. There was nothing I could do for them at the moment, so I tried to concentrate on deciding where to go. Even though Charlie, Sue and I had lived in Bullsbrook for over two months, we still didn’t know the town or the surrounding area well.

“Hey, maybe we can go to the campground!” Sue burst out. Charlie and I raised our eyebrows at her.

How in heaven’s name does she know a campground? She’s not what you call ‘the camping type.’

“I’d asked around about where to find an affordable place for my parents to stay. They want to come and visit me over the Christmas break,” she explained.  “My neighbors told me about it. They said it’s along the river north of town. It has cabins for rent at reasonable prices and a small cabin could easily sleep the three of us.”

My face lit up. “That’s a great idea. They might have a camp store too, with long-lasting food supplies.”

My thoughts drifted to movies with underground fallout bunkers. God only knew how long this sucker pandemic was going to last. When my attention came back to the conversation, I realized both Sue and Charlie didn’t comment on my practicality. They were too excited about the campsite.

“Yeah. Best of all it’s off the main roads,” Charlie said, staring into his own private universe while rubbing the stubble on his chin. Then his eyes snapped back to us. “We better go there as soon as possible. We probably aren’t the only ones who came up with the idea.”

“Are we going right now or tomorrow morning?” Sue asked. She shifted in her seat again.

I hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. A surge of fear gripped me. It was as if a giant hand squeezed my insides, pushing adrenaline into the far corners of my body. This was really happening and it wasn’t a figment of my imagination. The idea of leaving Bullsbrook, my beautiful new hometown, made the whole dreadful situation so much more real. However, Sue’s question was pressing and a decision had to be made.

“I’d sleep better if we left tonight,” I said.

Charlie slammed his hands flat on the table, making Sue and I jump.

“Okay,” he said. “Let’s go home, pack our stuff and meet at Kate’s. She’s the only one with a car.” He stared us down until we both agreed. “And only pack the essentials!” he added as he leaned toward Sue. I turned my head to see Sue’s reaction.

“What?” she asked innocently, shifting her eyes from Charlie to me, seeking back-up against his insinuation.

“Don’t get carried away, Sue,” I said. “My car may have five doors, but that doesn’t mean there’s a lot of space in the trunk.”

Sue opened her mouth in protest but couldn’t find a good excuse. Charlie chuckled.

The two of them hurried to finish their beers while I left mine untouched since I was going to be the driver. We paid our bill and went on our way.

Living Like A Vampire is available on Amazon and KOBO. Don’t forget it’s on sale 28-31 October! Only $0.99-£0.99!

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How to begin writing a novel

Yesterday, I had a meeting with the local Writers Club again. One of our new members wants to start a book but doesn’t know where to begin. When I  myself decided to write, I just started. The first scene I wrote happened in the middle of the story (which I only discovered later), but this doesn’t work for everyone (and I wouldn’t suggest it either). Fortunately, I recently read about the snowflake method and could recommend it.

The Snowflake Method of Writing

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With this method, you start with one sentence which depicts the core of your story. In the next step, you expand that one sentence into a paragraph, outlining what happens in your story. Setup, major disasters, resolution. Next, you do this for each of your characters. If you don’t have a development for your characters during your story, your readers will find your characters flat and can’t connect with them which you don’t want. It also will give you more to write about as the direction of development for each character won’t always go along the same line, pace, direction. The fourth step is to expand each sentence into a whole paragraph. Next, you will be expanding what you’ve got even further. Once you’ve got the basic storyline, make a chart of the scenes. Each scene will have to depict a development. If there is no development in a scene (good turns bad, ideas change, emotions change), delete it as it is just page filler. You now put in more and more details, until you have a full story. An article in which it is explained in more detail can be found here.

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This is how I sort of began my third book, Killing A Vampire. I know the characters in it, I know what is going to happen, and how it’s going to end (I must admit this took me a while to figure out), but I didn’t know what was going to happen in between the major plot twists. I used Scrivener’s corkboard and note cards to layout the chapters/scenes.

I actually used the word count as a basis. Both my other books are about 72K words, so I wanted my third book to be at least this size. They both have about 60 chapters, so I created 60 note cards. It also meant that each chapter/note card needed to be about 1200 words. Then I started filling in on each card what would happen in that chapter. Sometimes I write more words, sometimes I write less. The good thing about Scrivener is that you can move the cards around as you please. Overal I want to stick to the 1200 words, so readers can read the short chapters while they have a little time to read and not have to cut off their reading while something major is happening.

It’s perhaps not as creative as some ‘on the fly’ writers write, but I’ve been thinking for a long time about this story and, even though I know in advance where the story is going, the how is still created only once I sit down and write. I just don’t have to think about the why and where anymore, which I feel is like a weight off my shoulders.

If you have a different way of starting a novel, let me know. I’m all ears 🙂

PS: Talking about ears, my hearing aids are working fine again after the swimming pool disaster last Monday!

 

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Can you believe it?

 Vampires are real!

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I had to read it twice, but it appears that there are people in this world that think vampires are really real. And it’s causing mass hysteria. Read all about here.