slowThis is the last weekend of my 4-week holiday. The word 'holiday' really encompasses what this period has been to me. Holy Days. It was the first summer in three years that wasn't constantly shrouded by the illness of my children and frequent hospital visits. It was ME-time, me indulging in luxurious amounts of time, leading the life of Riley. Of course, I had set targets, such as finish Book #2 of The Jenna Kroon Series, The Farm on Nieuw Land Road, fix the garden, tidy the house, lose 5lbs, visit friends, relax, read, sleep.

The past month I've lived like a monk, far from being social. The only thing I've done is travel inside, transcend my own borders, while others travelled across actual borders. My travel has revealed some interesting vistas. For example, I keep buying flowing dresses and skirts but I prefer my clothes to be really close to my body, almost tight, like a protective harness. This is a helpful insight, because no matter what fashion dictates, I'll now know what to look for and what to only admire on others.

spirAnother thing I found out about myself is that when I relax, I eat what I need and I tend to go for healthy stuff. I lost 2lbs without dieting but discovered a renewed curiosity in recipe books and improvising. I bought one of those vegetable spiralisers and they really make food look like fun. It will always be a challenge for me to balance stress with my weight, but at least I now have the confidence that I can listen to me body.

I'm the restless, nervous type and have a tendency to want everything immediately and also want it furiously. This hurts my purse and my soul, because I'm all over the place and lose the overview. By always wanting too much - material stuff and projects going on -  I exert myself and disappointment lurks around every unfinished project, or overdraft. But instead of saying 'stop',  I heap a new project on top because I want it, like a child wants an ice-cream and a doughnut and a bag of sweets. The more stressed I become in my search for perfection, the harder I fight to stay on top and as a result become totally exhausted and deeply dissatisfied.


This brings me to my last insight, which is the most important one because writing is so very close to my heart. The secret I found is that I AM A SLOW WRITER. It may very well be possible for me to have an output of 50K words during NANOWRIMO but then it starts: the sculpting process. Somebody once said to me, you write like a sculptor. First you have the raw story and then you start hacking and polishing every sentence until it is - almost - perfect. I've meanwhile learnt to let go before über-editing destroys the whole effect, also by having a lot of trust in my editor to polish further, but writing remains a slow process for me. It is possible that this is also due to my being a near-native, I don't know.

For years, I've gazed with admiration at my fellow writer friends publishing book after book at a speed faster than light, and I sulk in my corner, feeling lazy and non-committed. But the truth is the truth. Some people are slow writers.

So what have I done writing-wise? Not what I desired but what I could do: working steadily and every day on the manuscript. 'Only' rewritten 130 pages of my second book and now on the brink of taking a leap to finish it. I'm on top of the story again and fully prepared to continue writing this marvelous book at the pace of the tortoise.

slow2Picture: Courtesy of Jennifer L. López at From the Write Angle




CaptureBy reading the interview below, answering the final question and leaving a comment in the comment section, you can win an eBook copy of The Cottage on The Border.

On Monday 3 August this interview was posted on Pat McDermott's blog Across The Plain of Shining Books. For a change I interview the main character of one of my books: Jenna Kroon. In case you missed the post, here it is again and another chance to give the correct answer and win the #Freebie 😀

The_Cottage_on_the_Border-Hannah_Warren-500When I told Pat I wanted to do something different from the ordinary author interview, she suggested to interview one of my characters. ‘Hmm’, I thought at first, ‘how crazy can I get?’ But while cycling to the nearest town to do my shopping on a Dutch summer’s day with a temperature of 16 °C (60 °F) -ghastly! -, I felt quite sane and immediately tons of questions popped into my head that I’d like to ask the main character of my trilogy: Jenna Kroon de Coligny.

The Jenna Kroon Series is my first attempt at writing a trilogy but it didn't originally start out as such. Book 1 The Cottage on The Border, published by Tirgearr Publishing on 29 May 2014, was meant as a standalone novel about the troubled but talented modern dancer Jenna Kroon de Coligny (19) and her distorted ancestry and difficult upbringing. It explores Jenna's tentative attempts at accepting that adopted bonds prevail over blood bonds.

Book 2 The Farm on Nieuw Land Road, coming from Tirgearr Publishing in 2016, continues Jenna’s story. Book 3, The House On Broadway, will also be published by Tirgearr Publishing.

So high time to ask Jenna some questions about herself.

Hannah: Hello Jenna, welcome to my interview. I’m looking forward to it. Hope you are too.

Jenna: Well, you know me, Hannah, the eternal skeptic. Let’s hear your questions first and then I’ll tell you how I feel about answering them.

Hannah: Okay, fair enough. Are there any aspects I have to steer clear from? Gosh, I feel like I’m interviewing a celebrity.

Jenna: *shrugs* I don’t answer questions about my childhood memories. For the rest, each question will be considered separately.

Hannah: Most people you come in touch with, for example your foster family and your dance manager Mario Mozzi, approach you in a friendly and positive way. They seem to like you and greatly admire you as a dancer but you do not always react with the same friendliness. Are you aware of that?

Jenna: I don’t believe we’re obliged to react to others the same way they react to us. If people choose to use kindness and friendliness as their approach to others that’s fine by me. I’ve never been a very empathic person – Haha that’s an understatement, I know – nor do I have an inclination to appease others. I may not be the friendliest of the bunch but at least I’m honest. I don’t soft-soap and I don’t play the hypocrite. Perhaps I’m just not good with words. I generally don’t feel my best outside the dance floor.

Hannah: Do you think you express a ‘different language’ when you dance?

Jenna: *smiles genuinely* I’m sure of it. If I didn’t, no one would continue to put up with me. As a rule, I don’t analyse myself but when I dance, I become softer, opener…uhm…nicer. Dance gives me many more opportunities to communicate emotions. I can never catch them in words or in a dialogue. And frankly, I don’t need to. I wasn’t born to talk. I’ll gladly leave that to others.

Hannah: You seem to be doing a good job now.

Jenna: Well, I’ve never given an interview before. This is a novelty. Probably will be a once only. When I danced with Mozzi in Amsterdam, I let him do the talking and now my manager answers the press. It’s safer that way, no doubt. Less treading on people’s toes. The show must continue to bring in the cash. It won’t help if I keep rubbing up against everyone.

Hannah: There is an eternal debate going on whether you are an anorectic or not. You certainly become edgy when people comment on your food intake or your weight. Do you want to tell us why?

Jenna: *screws up her eyes, then sighs* Not really, but okay. Perhaps best to clear the air for once and for all.

1. I’m not an anorectic. I forget to eat as I’m not hungry. My brother Vincent, the psychiatrist you know, finally believes me. It’s a different disorder that only resembles anorexia. I’ve forgotten the Latin term for it because it doesn’t interest me. Anorectics are hungry until they starve themselves and then can’t get food inside anymore. But I have no hunger impulse for god knows what reason. Because I’m always busy with dancing, I forget to eat and because it’s such a hard physical training every idiot understands that I should eat. Yeah, I’m that idiot. But I really have to force it down. Eating is not something that’s easy for me, so if I’m really focused or too tired, I don’t have the discipline to sit down and eat at regular times.

2. I naturally have a very slender built and look skinny anyway. If it wasn’t for my muscles I’d be a real mongrel.

3. I hate anorectics. There are so many people on this earth that have no access to food and those silly people decide they just won’t take nourishment, for whatever stupid reason. Because it is a stupid reason that starts them off! I truly wish I had the hunger impulse. At least I now know that the more I relax, the better I can digest food.

Hannah: So how is the situation now?

Jenna: I’m okay. My ideal weight is 50 kilos and I’ve managed to stay that for 6 months now without a relapse. I’ve never been able to keep this weight for so long. It helps that I have a cook now, who prepares my portions with all the necessary ingredients and vitamins. She sees to it that I don’t skip any portion. I prefer to call them portions, not meals. The word meal doesn’t do it for me.

Hannah: I’m glad to hear that. Can you tell us a little more about your emotional stability right now? Your mood swings in combination with the underweight seem to have been the greatest obstacles to your career.

Jenna: *grins maliciously* I never have any idea what will happen to me tomorrow but the home front currently thinks of me as keeping to the straight and narrow, so we’ll see if they’re right. After I’d stayed with Denise at Nieuw Land Farm for a while, I felt strong enough to go back to New York to complete the choreography course at Madison Ballet School. And I passed! Right now I’m taking a look at my options. Boras has asked me to partner with him again and although he’s a great dancer, he gets under my skin from time to time. A bit like Vincent. These guys are just too damn nice and that always awakens the superbitch in me. So I’m probably doing him a favour by turning his offer down. But, yeah, I’ll definitely be dancing here or there on some stage, modern or classical, or a mix of my own.

Hannah: Next to dancing, you have at least one other gift. When you hold a photo in your hand, you can see the story behind the photo. Do you want to explain that to us?

Jenna: *peers intently at me with her violet eyes* I’d be willing to explain to you what it is if I understood it myself. It’s just something that happens, involuntarily. I really have no clue. But I don’t particularly enjoy it, especially because when I come back to the ‘now’, I’m all stiff and shaky as if I’ve been lying in a hard wooden coffin for hours. I try to avoid touching photographs, sometimes even looking at them, but the pull can be so strong that I can’t resist it. Then I know I’m supposed to ‘see’ the story. It’s like pieces of a puzzle, sometimes from a period before I was born and sometimes quite recently. Haven’t tried to see the future yet. Well, *she shrugs* I wouldn’t want to be in the future if I could help it. The past has already taken place, so there’s nothing that can be changed about it, but the future? No, thank you!

Hannah: One final question. Do you think you will ever be happy, or at least come into quieter waters?

Jenna: Excellent question but I’m not answering it. Here’s the deal. Ask your readers this question. The one who gives the correct answer wins a copy of The Cottage on The Border.

Hannah: Okay. I will do that. Thank you for this interview, Jenna. I’ve learnt a lot more about you.

                                                                          * * * * *

CaptureToday my publisher Tirgearr Publishing pointed out a wonderful new site to me where you can have your book jugded by its cover. allows authors to quickly upload their cover image without having to register or login. And it's free!

Once your cover is approved and listed, anyone can rate it and vote it up. You and others can Pin it, Tweet it, or Post it on Facebook and Google+ — get your cover design out to the masses. is a neat little tool for authors who want to get an idea how their covers are being perceived. We all know that having a professional, nice-looking cover is important for attracting sales. But let’s face it. You may have a sweet looking cover and want to boast. Upload it and bring in all the great ratings. Voting is only done on cover appeal and not on the actual book’s content.

There are two rating systems. 1) There is a typical star-rating-system where people can choose between 1 and 5, similar to Amazon’s rating system. 2) There is another thumbs-up button to vote you up, and the cool thing about it is each visitor can vote once per cover per day. So you can come back the next day and vote it up again. It’s that simple.

lornaTirgearr works with a number of great cover designers and one of its covers is currently on No. 1! I also think the two designers who are responsible for my covers, Elle J. Rossi and Melody Pond have done a great job!

So please go to the site and vote for my covers! Thank you!!

The Cottage on The Border









Casablanca, My Heart









And if you are an author and want to upload your covers, here the link to the site:


















isaWhen I was around twenty I wanted to be a dancer, far too late and out of my league, of course. Being brought up in a strictly intellectual environment, the body was considered of lesser importantance and interest - except as an outlet for suppressed longings and anxieties, but that I discovered later. Decades later, I was happy to find the love for my body as an expression of the soul in Yoga, also called the Inner Dance. I still practice Yoga every day, be it on a modest scale. It's a matter of touch down base: material & breath, or breath in material.

isa1It would only be a matter of time until the main character of one of my books would be a dancer, but as it turns out I'm now writing a trilogy about a young modern dancer: Jenna Kroon the Coligny. In The Cottage on The Border Jenna only dances at the beginning of the story before she has a break-down and also in Book 2 The Farm on Nieuw Land Road the struggle with her past prevents her of becoming the formidable dancer she really is. Book 3 The House on Broadway will show Jenna at the top of her career but still not satisfied with herself.

In The Farm on Nieuw Land Road Jenna's dance style is compared to that of Isadora Duncan, the free spirit who became one of the founddresses of modern dance. osa3

In Chapter 5 The Exam, the essence of Jenna is laid bare:

Jenna’s natural, elegant movements, a combination of extreme precision, aristocratic poise and a free, almost anarchistic spirit, led to reviewers comparing her to Isabella Duncan. In Jenna, a new generation of dancers took the stage, who were willing to go to the edge to find the synthesis between training - what the body can do - and freedom - the spirit blowing life into the body-. Mario Mozzi had immediately spotted this drive in Jenna, when she auditioned for him, fresh from her dance academy and he had nourished the quality to perfection. The audience loved the dance, but the dancer lost interest, felt caged in, tricked into acting a part to satisfy others. Jenna needed to expand her body, let the balance tip once more to training, feel the rebellion of the material body being caged in. And what was more fitting than classical ballet for that? Her spirit wouldn’t stop kicking against the cage until it was set free. She would find a way out. This was Jenna’s life.wild


vacI can't remember ever having looked forward to my 4-week summer holidays as much as I do to this one. But the desire is mixed with fear and trepidation as the past three summers were mostly spent inside hospitals with seriously ill children. I hope and pray the next four weeks will be stress free (apart from my son's MRI) with plenty of Me Time.

Knowing I'd be embarking on the 180-degree change from a busy day job to writing time, I had a chat about time management with a life style coach on the last way of work. This may seem a little over the top when on the brink of holidays but I was afraid I might fall into some sort of limbo, esp. with all that's been going on in my lifey. Together we made this pie chart, called the Healthy Mind Platter.Capture

  • Focus= writing/editing;
  • Relax= reading, tv, sunbathing;
  • Nothing= recuperating, filling the well with ideas;
  • Social= time with my sons and with friends, also online;
  • DIY= gardening, odd jobs in and around the house, cleaning
  • Enjoy= doing things that give me great pleasure such as biking, eating, sleeping
  • Active= Yoga, jogging, hiking.

The idea behind this type of time management is that you consciously feed your mind with different activities so it remains balanced. You also stay aware of changing from one slice to another. That way the mind can't become too stressed. In a weekly plan you jot down which pie slice you'll have each day of the week and what your targets are. Also which slice will be on your plate every day and which one(s) only a couple of times .

timeAs you can see, my biggest slice is Focus, which stands for writing and editing. Focus will be on my platter every day! After all, I want to finish The Farm on Nieuw Land Road, hopefully this summer. The goal to keep the mind fresh and active through consciously changing your activities in the course of the day, is a good one for me as I'm a bit of an all or nothing kinda girl. Spending 18 hours at the computer just writing sounds like heaven to me right now, but I'm quite sure if I do just that, I'll be going back to the day job totally drained and stressed-out. So, no real choice, huh? I'll update you on how my first week went. :-)






romaIn the last weeks before my summer hols I confess I'm too stressed at work - and hence tired - to be very actively involved in my writing and editing. Quite jealous when I pop over to FB for a short moment and see my writer friends happily boast about their achievements: huge output of words, new releases, days filled with the satisfaction of writing.

Ah well... One.More.Week. And then: Me Time 😀

But that doesn't mean that the brain isn't busy seeking ways to be occupied with writing. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about how a life-style coach was explaining about incorporating 'right action' into your life until it became a mere 'habit' and I was only thinking about how I could turn writing into such a habit.

And now this! Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.bacio

On my 'free' Sunday afternoon, I'm struggling through the final translations I have to submit before I can let out a deep sigh and rejoice in a 4-week vacation.

The text I'm currently translating is all about dashboards - no not in cars - the digital type and to be honest I don't really understand what it's all about. Just ploughing through dry paragraph after dry paragraph, until suddenly my interest was fired. I wake up from the humdrum of half-seen letters in front of me. Here it is! Again. Writing lessons can be found everywhere...

I quote:

"This does not mean that a functional and action-packed dashboard cannot look attractive. On the contrary. If well designed such a dashboard can actually be elegant in its simplicity. We achieve this simplicity by regularly asking ourselves whether any elements in the dashboard can be omitted. Are these elements really necessary to get the message across? Can elements perhaps be combined? lessAnd apart from omitting elements, it is also important to consider whether you can make certain elements blend into the background or on the contrary emphasise them."

Bingo! A lesson in economic writing in order to make it more powerful. Less is more! Yeah-yeah-yeah!

But how I fail you again! I keep flourishing my sentences, using inadequate and unnecessary words, hoping my editor will chip off the worst anomalies.

That's it for today! See you on the sunny side of writing life! Cheerio. index

intAt the end of May I was interviewed by the UK-based author/interviewer Fiona McVie. I found her questions really good so thought it would be nice to repost the interview here for those who missed it. Among others, I talk about my recently published novel, The Cottage on The Border, Book #1 in The Jenna Kroon Series (Tirgearr Publishing, 29 May 2015) and share an excerpt of Book #2 The Farm on Nieuw Land Road, which will hopefully see the light in early 2016.


Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

Tirgearr Publishing have just relaunched my two earlier published books ‘Casablanca, My Heart’ and ‘The Cottage on The Border’, Book 1 in “The Jenna Kroon Series”. So I’m a very happy girl right now!

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing when I could hold a pen and I don’t really know why. I was just born that way.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I still don’t consider myself a writer. I have a full-time day job. Maybe after I retire?

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

Enid Blyton’s The Five Series when I was 8.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

My own? I’m not completely sure how to answer this question. I like all the wrong things in writing: long, flowing, descriptive sentences embellished with plenty of adjectives and adverbs. So, so wrong, of course! But then again, I was a poet before I was a novelist so blame the flourishing style on the ‘voice of the heart’ and on my addiction to 19th century novels.

howFiona: How did you come up with the title?

Titles are not my forte. I tend to have one and then change it again and then ask for advice from my editor(s) and then change it again.

For ‘Casablanca, My Heart’ (which is a literary romance), I was inspired by a well-known romantic film about the white city, starring Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. The main character, Heather Simpson, is in love with Casablanca even before she has seen it and falls in love with the aristocrat Ghalib while visiting it. There are many other matters of the heart discussed in the book, hence the title.

‘The Cottage on The Border’ is the first book in The Jenna Kroon Series, the main character being 19-year old Jenna Kroon de Coligny. The second book is called ‘The Farm on Nieuw Land Road’ and the title of book 3 is ‘The House on Broadway’. The main setting of ‘The Cottage on The Border’ is – rather obviously – a derelict cottage on the border between Holland and Belgium, a haunted place, where Jenna is to find out all about her mysterious past. The border also refers to her mental state. Jenna constantly hovers on the brink of mental illness.   

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

womanI write about exceptional women who have to make impossible choices in life and who – though tattered and unsure what decision to take next – face fate head-on, sometimes paying for it with their lives. I don’t really see this as a message, though. It’s more that I share Doctor Zhivago’s motto: “Life is not a stroll through the meadow.” Sorry if this sounds too heavy. I don’t write comedy though comic events happen in my books and people do have genuine fun. But my general outlook on life is that it’s tough and good and bad are not distributed fairly.  

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?

Most of it, though Jenna is a bit of a psychic. I have a fantasy trilogy in the back of my writing head, which I’d like to try after I’ve finished the next 7 or 8 books. We’ll see.

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

As a writer you always mix real-life events with dream flashes and story-telling by others, but in essence my work is pure fiction. Half of the time I don’t even know myself what it is my subconscious is coming up with and what storyline I’m going to follow next.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?

tollyAs I said earlier, definitely the 19th century classics, Russian, American, British and French, but my all-time hero is and always will be Leo Tolstoy.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I’m always reading two or three at the same time but I seem to be most taken by Winston Graham’s Poldark series at the moment. Now reading book 1 ‘Ross Poldark’. Historical fiction but written in the 20th century. Light stuff that helps me to fall asleep.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I’ve read a lot of books written by my online author friends and some of them are really good writers. But I’m not going to give any names because I don’t want to offend the ones I’m not mentioning. Now looking forward to reading work from the authors of my new Tirgearr family. It’s a pity, however, that I’m a slow reader with little free reading time on my hands.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

Currently writing book 2 in ‘The Jenna Kroon Series’. Already mentioned that. Then book 3. After that five books in the ‘Daughter of The Alvar Series’. Book 1 ‘Ingrid’ is already on paper, as is part of book 2 ‘Agnes’. Perhaps I’ll also write a sequel to ‘Casablanca, My Heart’ and then the fantasy trilogy. Enough work to keep me busy into my late 80s.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

I’m not sure what you mean by an entity? And sadly enough my family members do not support me. Either they aren’t readers (like my sons) or they aren’t interested in me as a whole (the rest). My online friends and my publisher are the great supporters here!

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career? writi

No, but neither do I see it as a hobby or a past-time. To me, it’s the core of my being, which is much more than a career. It’s a destination. 

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Get rid of the clumsy sentences, make it a little shorter, skip the embellishments, go deeper into the corrupt but brilliant mind of Markus Brenner. Study all the philosophers he claims his sick, fascist body of thought is built on.

Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Through reading. Only yesterday I passed the tiny village called ‘s Heer Abtskerke, where I learnt to read and write. The school building is no longer there but as I passed through, in a flashback I could see myself as the bewildered, little girl in her rumpled frock, with ink all over her fingers trying to grasp the magic her pen could do on the page.

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Of course. I’d be delighted. This is what I wrote today. It is part of Chapter 19 The Truth Hurts of ‘The Farm on Nieuw Land Road’. This is the episode in the story where the old rancher Andréas Pinto Xavier explains to Denise Janssen, (whom he is teaching all about the breeding of Criollo horses and who is married to his overseer Carlos), why he is so against Denise’s marriage. It has not yet been edited!!


“I’ve never been the marrying kind of guy. Of course, when I was younger, I used to enjoy the comfort of female company offered to me but that stopped abruptly after man landed on the moon. You see, two months later a certain Maria Rodriguez de Silva showed up here on the ranch claiming I’d made her pregnant. At the time, I couldn’t do anything but burst into laughter. A girl of easy virtue, perhaps even lying about the early stages of her pregnancy, coming all the way from Caracas to tell me, a simple rancher from out-of-the-way La Enena that I’d knocked her up. It was so hilarious I told her to go and find herself a rich husband elsewhere. No way, I thought she was telling the truth but it shook me awake. I had taken dangerous liberties in my drunken state and I felt remorse. So much even, that I went to confession to tell our priest what I’d been accused of. It taught me never to lie with an unknown woman again and I’ve kept that promise.” Pinto glanced at Denise again but she kept studying her hands. He pushed his empty glass in her direction. The ice cubes hadn’t even had time to melt.

“Fill it up once more.” Denise shook herself from her stupor to do as he asked. There was another long silence, in which Andréas concentrated on sipping his drink. Denise had never before seen him drink alcohol during the day, certainly not at such a rate so she became more and more worried what lay in the heavy silence. What was it to her if righteous Andréas Pinto had a child with a prostitute? Was it such a big deal? She reckoned there were more illegitimate children on this globe than kids born out of wedlock. She really couldn’t see what was making the old rancher so upset and what it had to do with her. Then he continued his monologue.

“Twenty years later, on the 6th of October 1989, I got a letter from a certain Luis Pérez Castillo from Caracas, who told me his wife Maria Perez de Silva had died the year before and that on her death bed she had told him that he wasn’t the father of their eldest son Carlos but that I had fathered the child. Luis hadn’t felt the need to get in touch with me before but now he wrote that Carlos was getting out of control, the lad was 19 by then and Luis was starting to get annoyed with him, becoming more and more aware of the differences between Carlos and his other three children.” Again Andréas sought Denise’s eyes to steady himself and this time she tried to answer his penetrating gaze but the shock she might actually be looking at her father-in-law sitting across from her made her mind otherwise go blank.

“Luis refrained from telling me in what sort of trouble Carlos was and at first I put the letter aside as I still thought it was all bogus. But then, one hot morning in February 1990, Carlos himself showed up on my doorstep. He told me his father had sent him to me to become a farmhand as he needed to spend some time away from the city. You can imagine that made my eyebrows go up high. My first concern was whether the lad knew anything about the stories being told about him and me but he reacted to none of my hints in that direction so I supposed his father had just sent him off as a one-way package without a return stamp. My second – even bigger concern – was that I immediately saw the young lad was a drug addict, big time. And that, my dear Denise, is the root of all the trouble.” Andréas halted. Sighing deeply, he took a big, white handkerchief from his trouser pocket and wiped his sweaty forehead. Then he slumped back in his chair, looking haggard. Devastation showing in his dark-brown eyes.

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Describing people and writing sex scenes. I want my characters to appear vividly before the reader’s eyes, how they move, their peculiarities, character, looks, etc. but that is so incredibly daunting.

And sex scenes, boy-oh-boy, that’s the hardest of them all but sometimes inescapable as in life itself. :-)

Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

To avoid repetition let me not bring up Tolstoy again (whom I admire for every word he’s ever written) but say I learn something from each good book I read or listen to. Recently, I was very charmed by John Galworthy’s The Forsyte Saga. Galsworthy could do so very well what I’m still a novice at: describe characters so you see them before you.  

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Nope. Can’t afford it.


Fiona: Who designed the covers?

Two of Tirgearr’s wonderful cover artists. Casa’s cover was designed by Elle J. Rossi and the Cottage by Melody Pond. Melody already designed the covers for the next two books and I have to keep them secret but they are astonishing! I can tell you that much.

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Continuing with the story and staying glued to my office chair. Not checking Facebook or email every other minute, or leave my desk in search of a snack.

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

That the well of stories inside me is endless. That I love and I hate the process almost in equal shares.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Try to be firm and disciplined about your writing but don’t overdo it. Find the golden mean that works for you. And read, absorb, read, learn, grasp, read. The masters before you will show you how to.

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Just that I hope they like my stories and enjoy a couple of entertaining hours while being immersed in them.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

It was called ‘An en Moe’ (Ann and Mum) and it was the book that taught me how to read.

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

imagesI laugh/smile for many reasons: good humour, funny incidents, unexpected meetings, witticisms, the radiant sun, nature in full bloom, a child’s beaming face, a stroke of luck, love sparkling in the eye, great art, warmth, compassion, and honesty.

I cry for the fate of my children and that of my own and for all the great sadness of this precarious sublunary world, whether manmade or caused by other factors.

Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?

My daughter Joy. Because I miss her with every fibre of my body.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?

No idea.

Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?

Yoga, jogging, hiking, listening to audio books, a bit of gardening and I quite like my job.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

Good talk shows (Dutch ones), Band of Brothers, films or series based on good books, Dance programmes.

indexFiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music.

Vegetarian dishes. I like all colours. 70s music: Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Patti Smith, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, etc.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

I would have liked to be a professional dancer or a doctor in Africa.




flying saucersWhere the English use the expression 'too many balls in the air', the Dutch say 'too many saucers in the air'. Either way, this is how I feel in the last weeks before my summer break. Too many deadlines and last-minute better-fix-it-ugly-than-don't-fix-it-at-all actions.

In my daily occupation, I am responsible for providing our 500 international students with the necessary English-language information. This means coordinating the translations of courses for our nine Bachelor's programmes in English, publish news items, fill our FB page, update the website, write the brochure, etc. The major part of these documents I translate or write myself. In the first six months of this year the number of words I spat out was enough to fill a medium-sized novel, a cool 70,000 words.


Next to that, I have recently been added to our international recruiter team, with the specialisation UK and Ireland. This is new territory for me and for our institute. The Netherlands is flooded by UK students seeking cheaper higher education but so far we've not benefitted from this new source of income. This means setting up a network, making an indepth study of the programmes we have on offer, learning all the additional legal requirements students have to meet when embarking on a study with us. Fun but tough!

Last but not least, our International Office just merged with the Marketing Department under a new manager with lots of changes and sudden personnel hiccups that aren't making a day in the office the smoothes of rides.

So far about the workfloor. Also my family circumstances, the illnesses of my children and the mourning of my daughter and dog, have taken their toll on my energy.

But... soon...

on 17 JULY my time is coming! I will finally be able to do some marketing for my two poor books, sitting quite forgotten on their Amazon and Nook shelves. Also finish the first draft of Book #2 of The Jenna Kroon Series, The Farm on Nieuw Land Road. For me no exotic trips to faraway islands, no drowning in a soaked-through tent down by the river, no tiring my feet and pestering my ears in an overcrowded theme park. I'm happiest when having time to write, to read, to do some gardening and be around my sons.

All I hope for is a blessed summer month.



Today we embark on a great new adventure in the field of author interviews: a cross interview. I interview the lovely Christy Jackson Nicholas and in turn she interviews me on her blog. Enjoy an insight into the inner workings of two Tirgearr authors who just met each other across borders.


Christy Jackson Nicholas is the author of Legacy of Hunger, which is due out in Autumn 2015. She already has two other books published by Tirgearr Publishing.

Mythical_Ireland_by_Christy_Nicholas_200 Stunning_Scotland_by_Christy_Nicholas_200 Hi Christy, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

That’s not an easy answer. I was conceived in England, born in Denmark, lived in Dearborn, Michigan until I was 8, and then south Florida until about 15 years ago. Since then I’ve lived in north Florida, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. I guess I’m a bit of a gypsy at heart!

That sounds like an excellent background for an author. Can you tell us a little about the setting of your new book Legacy of Hungert? Why did that place speak to you?

The book, Legacy of Hunger, is set in 1846. The main characters start out in Pennsylvania, and then travel to Ireland in the midst of the Great Hunger, commonly referred to as the Potato Famine. Ireland is my soul’s home, my ‘anam bhaile’. The first time I visited, almost 20 years ago, I felt immediately at home. I’ve been five times now, and will retire there some day. The magic of the land and the people have something integral within them that I must share with others. The novel is set in several of my favorite places – Ardara, in County Donegal, Achill Island, and Kenmare in County Cork.

Oh, I can totally relate to that. The place where your soul can rest its feet. What inspired you to write in the first place?

Actually, finding my father after searching for him for fifteen years inspired me. He never knew I existed, and when I finally found him, he and my mother got together and got married for the first time. I knew that had to be a love story – so I wrote my first novel. It was addicting.

You truly have an exceptional life, it is an inspiring story in itself. I guess you must have had to do a lot of research as it is a historical novel?

A lot more than I thought there would be! Since the novel is set in 1846, there are many small things that I simply didn’t know, such as what sort of foods would the locals be eating other than potatoes? How would one travel from Pittsburgh to New York, since the railroads weren’t that far west? Or across the ocean – the first steam ships were just being used at that point. I found myself writing about the funicular train and boat system on the Juniata River in Pennsylvania, near Hollidaysburg and Johnstown. After the book was finished, I then got a new job and moved to that area, completely by coincidence.

How amazing! How about your writing routine? Do you have a set routine?

I do set myself a minimum of about 2000 words per day. Usually I can make it, but sometimes I cannot. If I haven’t, I try to make it up within that week. I take the weekends off.

That's a lot of words! I could learn from your routine. And how about music? Do you listen to music when you write?

Absolutely! Silence just highlights the annoying noises around. Some pleasant background music is essential. I usually listen to either 80s rock or Celtic music – everything from Enya to the Pogues.

What do you like least about writing?

The editing process, hands down. I love planning portion, and writing the first draft. I hate the part that comes after – endless editing, changing, shifting, improving, refining. I think because it’s more of an organic process to me than writing it is. I am very methodical in my writing – plan everything out, write scene by scene in order, etc. I can change my plan as I go along, and I frequently do, but still push on bit by bit. After that, it’s all rather nebulous.

How different writers can be! Though I don't like the editing phase particularly, I find it a lot easier than the discipline to sit down and write the first draft. But then again, I write without a real plan. Funny, those differences, don't you think? So, can you tell us a little about your next project.

I’ve already written the first drafts of two more books, prequels to Legacy of Hunger. There will be a trilogy, if all goes well! Legacy of Truth and Legacy of Luck.

Wow, Christy that sounds fantastic! I will definitely want to read Legacy of Hunger! Thank you so much for this interview! I loved meeting you like this.


Valentia had discussed the trip with her mother at length two weeks earlier, when she had first conceived the plan, before they left for Pittsburgh. She had needed the information of her grandmother’s family that only Majesta remembered. Her grandparents’ names, for instance, and where in Donegal they had lived, and what her sisters’ names had been.

“I think the place began with an ‘A’. Amra? Ardra? Something like that, at any rate. Of course, that won’t be how it’s spelled. Irish spelling is infernal. It’s likely got twelve letters, none of which are actually pronounced.” Majesta’s cynical laugh had made Valentia frown.

“And do you remember anything else about the place, mother?”

“I was never there, child. I remember what grandmother said in her stories; but who knows how much of that was truth, and how much was fairytale? Your grandmother had a vigorous imagination, after all. Oh, I do remember one thing she mentioned… a sort of special heirloom. A brooch, I think. Yes, sit tight here one moment…”

Valentia had often heard of the brooch from Grandmamma and had hoped her mother knew more about it. She trembled with suppressed excitement. Majesta went to her desk and thumbed through her papers. After rifling through three drawers, she exclaimed and held one up in triumph.

“Here! This is what I was looking for.”

The thick paper was old, yellowing at the edges and creases. Valentia carefully unfolded the ancient document, and gasped.

The drawing, done in clean, neat lines, was of an intricate pennanular brooch. It was almost a circle, with a straight pin on the curve to go through the small opening. There were delicate intertwined creatures detailed on the circular edge, as well as on the straight pin. Several stones were imbedded in the design. The piece was exquisite.

Valentia could almost see faint sparks of light crackling along the lines, sparks of blue and purple. She blinked her eyes several times to clear her vision.

“It’s… it’s stunning.”

“My aunt had this special piece of jewelry. She never said how it was special, other than being beautiful. Simply that it was priceless and unique.” Her mother’s voice had a dreamy quality, like she had been speaking from a long-distant memory.

Valentia couldn’t take her eyes off the sketch. She was drawn into the labyrinth of line and form, as if she would be lost forever in the art. It looked just like she had imagined from Grandmamma’s description.

Her mother’s abrupt voice snapped her from her reverie. “If you can find this and our family, the journey would be well worth the trouble, I think.”

But now, the fire and the subsequent resistance from her father had quelled her hopes. She pushed through the day’s work as they helped the local people rebuild their lives.

Christy's Bio

My name is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. I do many things, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing and photography. In real life I'm a CPA, but having grown up with art and around me (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected me, as it were. I love to draw and to create things. It's more of an obsession than a hobby. I like looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or a fragrant blossom, a dramatic seaside. I then wish to take a picture or create a piece of jewelry to share this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus I write. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. I do local art and craft shows, as well as sending my art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.


Tirgearr author page:





writerA couple of days ago I had a chat at work with one of those so-called life-style coaches. The staff had been invited to take part in a health and fitness test. After the test, which showed I was overweight (!), you could make an appointment with one of those swift-sneakered, forever optimistic young lads, who ardently believe it is your own happiness that makes the world go round. To them everything, every dream, every mission seems attainable. Life to them is makeable, a totally mallable thing in your own hands.

My story - the death of my brilliant daugther at 29 and the severe illness of my son at 25 - didn't fall in any category the baffled coach had ever heard before. I felt sorry for him as I always do when I have to tell the truth and thus rob folk of their faith in fairytales. His immaculate white sneakers shuffled the linoleum uncertainly and the look in his clear blue eyes - so 100% free of any toxic substance in a body trained to the nines, lost its zipped-up positivism. I explained to him that my entire system - body, mind, soul, heart - is out of balance due to the mourning and survival mode I'm constantly in and that the extra fat is the result of long hours when I'm frozen with fear for the future.

lightI wasn't expecting much from this talk but I was willing to listen to what he had to say. And then - as we talked on - he said something that I've been mulling around in my mind ever since. He explained that when you want to make a change in your life, e.g. get rid of a bad habit, you start with feeling unnatural at first as you're still incorporating the good habit by 'getting used to it'. Then you arrive in the phase that you still have to think about 'staying on the right path' but the situation is not so strained anymore. Ultimately the new habit will have become a routine, fitting in your day, like all your other routines.

While the young coach found his feet again, happily returning to his cheerful, talkative self, my thoughts drifted to the stagnated manuscript on my home computer. Did this mean I am not a writer yet as I still do not have the routine to sit down and make a go for it? In this totally silly situation - two people who had nothing in common with each other and whose lives couldn't be further apart, I learnt something valuable. It made clear what my goal is: turn writing time into such a routine that it becomes an intrinsic part of who I am. Only how to find the time to figure that out with all else that's going on? I will. Eventually.

Thank you for that insight, young optimist. After all, every change starts with insight.