Monday, 5 October 2015

NaNoWriMo

On top of all the weirdness going on in my life, I've decided to add more weird to the mix. I'm mad, I know.

I recently found out about this thing called NaNoWriMo. It's a charity based organisation (find out more about their work here) who hosts this challenge every year. The challenge is simple, really. Well, no. I'm lying. It isn't simple at all, but I'm doing it anyway.

You sign up and then write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. 

Yup, that's what it's about. There is a community of people who are there to help you and you can write in any language. The challenge is just to get writing. The novel you upload doesn't have to be perfect, just a first draft of the story. So no formal editing needs to be done by the end of November. 

I personally don't have a clue what I'm going to write for NaNoWriMo, just that I really want to try it. And you should too. Have a go at it, donate to a good cause and prove to the world that you can do it! 

Now I need to go brainstorm a story idea. *Runs exasperatedly around the house while pulling at hair*

Yolandie

Monday, 14 September 2015

I've been MIA...

Just a really quick update here. I've been away from this blog for a while and I'v also been blogging very sporadically on The Couch. The reason for this is that I've moved.

To the other side of the world.

I currently find myself in Germany, near Düsseldorf. It's been an amazing adventure so far, which I've been trying to write about in a segment on the Bloomin Couch, called The German Chronicles. (Read the first one here.)

Please be patient with me as we're trying to find a rhythm here before we can start dancing. I have some stuff planned before the release of The Physician's Apprentice in November, so look out for that.

Hopefully, I'll have something of merit up for you here soon. You know, the kind of thing that doesn't read like an excuse. :P

Yolandie

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

What to look for in a proofeader

The other day, I had my very first interview for promotional purposes. I tell you, it was something. I'll share the videos with you as soon as I have them, so watch this space. Anyway, the interview is what inspired this post.

One of the questions was about my support structure. You know, the people who help me get through the process of writing a book. One of the biggest favours I ask these people is to proofread my work. I call it a favour, because it really is. They have to take time out of their lives to do something fairly important for me. And because this proofreading thing is important to me, it means that the people I ask to do it are too. 

You see, they have to be people I trust. Completely. The obvious reason for this is that you don't want your manuscript floating around freely before it gets published. Or after it's published, for that matter. The proofreaders need to be willing to keep your work secret, so that other people will ultimately buy  your work and not get it for free from the actual proofreaders

The trust thing also goes deeper than that, however, which is why I chose this theme for a blog post. My personal group of proofreaders consists of a few members in my family and circle of friends whom I can trust, as above. :) They also meet the following criteria. 

* Proofreaders must have at least some skills in the language that you write in. (DUH) EG, if your novel is in English, your proofreaders must understand and be able to read the language. It's a bonus if they pick up mistakes as they read. 

* Proofreaders must be of various ages and both genders. I always include people in my target age group and people who are older than that. For example, if I write for young adults or teenagers, I want people who are no longer young adults to read it too. You get a broader range of feedback that way. This also goes for gender. If my novels are typically more targeted on women, I want men to read it too. 

* Proofreaders must be willing to share their ideas and feedback with you. You need people who are willing to be brutally honest with you, as well as more tactful people and those who will gush about your manuscript enthusiastically. Why? Well, the gushing group will keep you positive and motivated. Because of them, the criticism you do get back will be more manageable. You'll feel more sure of yourself when people are overwhelmingly positive about what you've written. Obvious, eh?

The tactful ones will put the faults they find softly. This is important, because you won't lose hope with this group, but you'll still see where you need to improve. Tactful people will often tell you what they loved, as well as what they hated about your work, where the gushers tend to be overwhelmingly positive and the brutally honest ones tend to be more negative. This isn't always the case, but in my particular group, it is. 

The honest people in your group may be the most important in a certain sense. These people will tell you exactly what is wrong with your novel and why, sometimes in the most heart-wrenching manner. It hurts, I know. But often, they find things that no-one else sees, or what the others aren't willing to point out to you. You know, to spare your feelings. It sounds terrible, but having my work torn to pieces has actually helped me write better a time or two. Sometimes, standing back and looking at your own work objectively helps you see where you need to improve.

As far as ideas goes, some of my best story arcs have been suggested by the proofreaders. Obliviously at times and specifically at others. An innocent question from a proofreader can unravel your mistakes in the plotline fairly quickly, while their suggestions can fill those holes perfectly as well.

* Proofreaders must have diverse knowledge lines. What I mean by this is that they must know different things. In my group, I have teachers, ex-military, a virologist, a few creative people, stay at home moms, developers, science enthusiasts, geeks, romantics and cooks, amongst others. Their collective pool of knowledge is mind blowing and they have each contributed to the stories I write immensely.

* Pick proofreaders who love to read, as well as proofreaders who don't. If your book can inspire someone who doesn't particularly like reading to finish your work, half the battle is won. Try to pick people who like your genre, but don't discard those who don't. One of my proofreaders only likes Western novels, but still reads what I give him. This means feedback from a fresh perspective.

If you have some criteria for proofreaders, please share it with me in the comments! I hope this helps you choose the people to trust with your novel.

Yolandie

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Paperback

I've been quiet on this blog, I know. Sorry. It's been a little hectic at my house, with the 18 month old, the completion and uploading process of The Queen's Fury, and the first feedback coming back on The Physician's Apprentice. Also, I've been working on maps for The Physician's Apprentice and I've already written the first ten chapters for the next book in the Salamander Series. I've also made some small changes to my website and I've got a brand new author page on Facebook. Be a dear and give it a like, please?

OK. excuses all of that aside, I just wanted to pop in and tell you that The Queen's Fury is officially in the Amazon store as a paperback. USA here (16.15 USD) and UK here (10.47 GBP). Be sure to search for 'The Queen's Fury' in your country's Amazon stores, because they are everywhere now. For those of you in South Africa, I'm planning to import a bunch of copies, so please let me know here or on Facebook if you want a copy too. That way we'll be sure to import enough. :)

If you're uncertain about the paperback, the ebook is as cheap as chips. (store links here) Haha! It's only $1.99 in the US and $4.99 in South Africa. (It's going for 1.28 in the UK.) You can also read some reviews on Amazon, Goodreads or on my website.


Thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm for this trilogy. I just heard from someone I've never met this morning that she's addicted to the books. That's an amazing compliment and it just about made my day.

Yolandie

Monday, 1 June 2015

The Queen's Fury

Continuing on the same station as on The Bloomin' Couch, MY NOVEL IS AVAILABLE!!!

I can gush about this all day long, but that would mess with your reading time. :P I really hope you enjoy this one! Please be a dear and give me a review or a like on Amazon, I'd love to hear from you and every review is appreciated.

Store links and more information here on my website.


Also, I have a brand new Facebook author page. If you want some more behind the scenes and sneak peeks, this would be the place to get them. So be sure to like it!

What are you still doing here? Don't you have something to go read? Haha!

Yolandie

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Cover

It's the weirdest feeling in the world, this completion-thing. It's almost tangible in my house at the moment, because I'm done with Evangellion (except for the acknowledgements, which I need to get to soon). The point is, after years of continuous writing, planning, mapping, drawing covers and plotting out storylines, I'm DONE. Finished. I'm tempted to say kaput. :)

Now that that's off my chest, here's some exclusive inside info.

A lot of people have been asking me about the cover for The Queen's Fury. 'Who's on it?' is probably the thing I'm asked most.

Initially, I wanted to draw the high king for the cover. I had a lot of ideas about it and I even started to doodle some concept stuff. But, at the time I planned that, I still didn't have a clear idea of what the title of the book would be. When my friend André came up with the perfect title, I realised Arrow had to be on the cover. It just made sense. Arrow IS the queen's Fury (brilliant play on words there from André's side). Plus, it put all three best friends on covers.

I just loved the idea from the very moment André suggested it, and so this cover was born :


Arrow, in all her lopsided smiling glory. And check out her strong brow-game. (I'm a freelance makeup artist ok!) I'm SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS! I seriously can't wait for you all to read it.

And along with that, my new novel is with the editor and proofreaders. A NEW SERIES! OMW, folks, I'm elated. Seriously elated. A whole book in seven weeks. I wrote a whole book in seven weeks. Don't ask me how, because I'm still coming down from that writing high. :P

Just watch this space. Stuff is happening and I'll share it here as soon as it's complete.

Yolandie.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Eva's Makeup on the Exile Queen cover

This is going to be a short post, because I blogged about it on the Couch too. It helps when your best friend is a makeup artist. :P You think out all kinds of weird looks and she makes them happen. Wait, I lost you, didn't I?

It happened like this. I was probably in the shower, which is where I have all my best ideas. :D The idea struck me that I love makeup and I love writing, so let's combine the two. And while we were at the makeup thing, we might as well do a tutorial on how we did it. Liani is a makeup artist, so she could help me with the tutorial aspect of it. Besides, I based Eva on Liani. Her face was the PERFECT face for the tutorial, because it's Eva's.

Now you can go clicky. :) The TUTORIAL IS HERE, you can READ MORE HERE, and be sure to subscribe to Liani's Blog. Thanks also to Franco from LF Photography for the photos, which are stunning as always.


Folks, The Queen's Fury is launching in less than two months. Can you even? I can't even. :D

Get your hands on EQ here and SOW here in time for the launch of book three on 1 June 2015!! I'm absolutely STOKED (as I've been saying a lot lately) to share the end of the trilogy with you!!

Yolandie

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Mapping it - The Capitol

Ever since I started to dream about writing, I knew I'd write books with maps. Maybe this is because of my love for fantasy novels, which almost always have maps in the front pages. Some people don't care for these, but I always have. I sat for hours during and after reading Lord of the Rings, just getting lost in Middle Earth.

Some writers don't include maps in their novels. This is great for other reasons, because it forces the reader to use their own imagination to conjure up the places in their novels.

When I write, I prefer to work from a map. It helps a lot with distances, which is important if your characters are going to move around in your world. 

I personally find that it helps with the creative process too. When I'm drawing my maps, I see all kinds of little places where cool landmarks and ominous places could be located. And then I start to think about all of the awesome scenes I could write there. This has given birth to many scenes in my novels that wouldn't have otherwise been included. 

Having said that, I usually start with only the world map. I drew all of my city maps only after the novels were completed. I just need a feel of the land and then I can allow my imagination to take over.

With The Evangellion Trilogy, I drew my maps digitally. With my new series, I'm taking it back to my roots and I'm working in pencils and paints.

Today, I want to share my newest map with you. If you've read Evangellion, you've read a whole lot about the Capitol. This place has been in my mind for such a long time that I personally couldn't wait to just draw it already. I have step by step images of how I did it, so if you'd like to see more, let me now. But now, without further ado; here's the Capitol of Beregor.

Image Copyright Yolandie Horak 2015

I like working in city blocks instead of loose houses. I imagine drawing each specific house would really help on a person's carpal tunnel syndrome. :P

Just two and a half more months until the last book is published!

Yolandie

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Planning Phase

Working on my new project (which hasn't been named yet) has been interesting.

With Evangellion, I did most of my planning on the computer, using Excel spreadsheets and Word docs. Of course, inspiration can strike at the most random of times and often I wasn't at home when this weird phenomenon occurred. Which led to me writing down some of my best ideas on scraps of paper and in random note books, some of them never to be found again. It's super frustrating when you've plotted out a really good scene, or wrote down some awesome twist for your story only to promptly lose it.

So this time, I'm doing it in a new way. I went out and bought an A4 notebook for my new series (suitably titled 'bright ideas'), and I've been writing down every idea in one place. This is kind of liberating, I have to tell you. When I feel the need to draw out a map or do a quick concept sketch of something, I have a place to do it. When I have a good idea for history, I have a place to write it down. When I need to plot out my character's looks, I have a place to do it.

I've been doing all of this in pencil, so when I change my mind (as I've been known to do frequently) I can simply erase and change. I've also been trying to keep topics together; like history, character sheets and maps. So far, it's been working really well. I've been doing a lot of research for this series and I find that writing down things into my book instead of having to juggle between the results of my internet search and a spreadsheet on one screen, has been working much better. It's easier.

I can also take my notebook with me wherever I go, which means I'm ready when inspiration strikes.

The downside of my new method is that I can lose every little detail I've been working on at once, should I lose the notebook. Or in the event of fire. Or a flood. Eek. My pc files for my novels have always been shared to storage clouds, which meant that even if my pc got fried, I didn't lose the most valuable thing on the hard drive. Maybe I should stop typing this and get a backup of my notebook onto the cloud. :)

The point of this whole post is that you should get your planning done in whatever way you prefer (I have more on this here). But do get it done. And then get to writing. The world can never have enough good writers! I can't wait to see what you come up with.

Yolandie