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books1To some folk I may seem like a strange specimen but when I read a book, I tend to read for pleasure, perhaps instruction on the craft, but never to race through it in order to get to the next one. While on the haunt for more reviews for my new novel Psychic Confessions, I visited many reviewers' sites and was surprised to find there is a real battle going on how many books one can consume per day, per month, per year. To find that readers set targets on book quota, TBH that was a whole new aspect to me. Like training for the marathon. I recently came on a site where the reader had done his '99 books' for this year and only had 1 more to go. He will definitely have a relaxing Christmas, lying flat out under his Christmas tree. Not a book in sight. :-)

Goodreads-2014-Reading-ChallengeI know Goodreads sets reader challenges but have never taken part in that. I'm greatly irritated already when Audible informs me I've listened for an hour during my lunch break or am awarded a midnight owl badge. WTF? I wasn't even having lunch and had no idea it was past my bedtime! Anyway, reading is clearly not a competitive business for me but maybe I'm not en vogue anymore?

Always when I learn something new, I wonder how other people think about it. Please fill in the poll below and let us see what the results are. The number of books you read per year. Shall I keep track in 2015?

Thank you for taking part!

 

 

 

 

 

I'm trying out a thousand things with my website, some work, some don't. I want to add polls and surveys to my blog as I love those and think they're great way of interacting with my writer pals but for some reason WordPress won't let me, so for now I've given up.

cCreated a bit of a Christmassy atmosphere on here in an attempt to get in the mood. I feel such a strong urge already to reflect on 2014 but it's not time for that yet. For the rest, completely immersed in reading about book marketing, to be more precise about hashtags, the results of which will soon be shared with you.

Meanwhile I'm editing my third novel Ingrid and preparing the start of number four: The Angel Within.

Only remaining interesting piece of information to tell you right now is that I got my 3rd 5* review for Psychic Confessions this week. :-)

This is what the reader wrote: pc

"A different type of story which I enjoyed reading. The main character delves into her childhood and also before she was born to understand why she turned out the way she did. Kept me interested to see how the story ended. The author has a true gift of imagination."

Thank You, Dear Reader!

 

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1Being a writer is one of the best parts of being me. The creative process, the determination to get the story on paper, the endless editing rounds, the nail-biting wait for the publisher's green light, it’s all intrinsically part of me and - although far from light or easy – a part I couldn’t part with for the life of me. I believe I was born as a writer and then got the extraordinary – often incredibly hard life – to suit the job.

All well, all doable, all taken in my stride.

But.

Then comes the part I seem unable to tackle.

2Marketing the new book.

Honestly, this is last week’s score:

    • Sent 65 requests for reviews: 5 accepted, 3 no thank you, 57 no answer
    • Twittered about the new book 35 times
    • Did two interviews
    • Wrote two blogs
    • Spent 20 hours reading marketing tips
    • Sent 10 mails for marketing help
    • Joined 3 groups that assist authors to market their books
    • Updated all my social media that needed updating: Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Website, Goodreads, FB Author page, Amazon author page, Pinterest
    • Joined Instagram.

So far this week's marketing work adds up to 70 hours outside my normal workweek.

And the results? Aahhhhhhhh *Le sigh*. :-(

3But giving up is no option! Even if it means I have to study marketing books to know how to make my book stand out among the 2 million (?) eBooks on Amazon, I believe in its quality and its beauty.

On a Brighter Note. Had my second 5* review for Psychic Confessions and this is what the reader said:

"Who is Jenna Kroon de Coligny? That is a question Jenna must find the answer to, and find it she does, emerging "from the rubble of six decades of troubled family history, a lone phoenix." Hannah Warren's new novel, "Psychic Confessions" is a haunting, unforgettable, can't-put-it-down gem that leaves me anxiously awaiting the arrival of Book 2. Hannah Warren is an author to watch."

Well, here I go again, just at a slower pace or it will be the death of me! Really need to start writing again and feel the life sap flow through my veins. Oh yes! :-)

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shaky

After doing a mini research into audiobooks in October and posting these on my blog, Audiobook I and Audiobooks II, I now want to add my own experience of listening versus reading. As yet, however, my experience is rather limited: I’ve listened to 3 (parts of) books by 3 different authors read by 3 different narrators (an Englishman, a Scot and an American).

Having read novels for 50 odd years, it was revolutionary new to me to put in earplugs, put on  winter coat and hiking shoes and switching to Audible on my phone, venture into the great outdoors with a male voice (I haven’t listen to a female voice yet) intimately talking inside my head and inviting me into a story by means of his vocal chords. Being an experienced – perhaps even obsessive – reader, I had to get used to a number of aspects that made the listening adventure a little unsettling to me at first. These are mostly aspects of a practical nature.

I was irritated by noises in the street, cars driving passed predominantly, but unwilling or not fast enough to stop the reading for the duration of the interruption, thus missing parts but finding it too much of a hassle to rewind and relisten. I live in a remote part of the world and sometimes I waited until I was outside the village before plugging in but also there was regularly annoyed by passing tractors :-(

grap2I also listened while driving and at certain busy traffic moments couldn’t give my full attention to the story. I missed the normal ‘reread’ you do when you feel you’ve lost it for a moment. The listening goes on and you have to pick up a little later but this can feel somewhat rushed. As if you’re briefly infidel to the author's voice. I had to get over this dissatisfaction of missing something and let go of it.

Another practical hiccup for me was the pronunciation of unusual names of persons or unknown places. I feel less capable of ‘seeing these before my eyes’ because I keep wondering how they're spelled. Written words are anchors for me. Reading the letters t-a-b-l-e help you to visualise a flat rectangular top with 4 legs. That’s how the brain – mine at least - is wired.

I also had to get used to being involved in an inward process while taking part in the outside world. This division of attention can be strained. For example, I would be greeting a neighbour in the street while listening and finding myself unwilling to stop and make some small talk as I usually do. Reading in the sanctuary of one's home, or even on the beach is a clear activity that people witness and take into account but they aren't aware you’re not ‘with them’ although you see them and say ‘hello’. Got some funny faces there :-(

luisterenWhat I have so far also found different from reading is that after an hour or so of listening, I need to switch off and listen to the silence around me for a while. With reading I can have fits of unstoppability, reading until 3 or 4 in the morning but for me that isn’t the case with audiobooks. I get tired listening to the same voice all the time, however skilled the narrator is at bringing the story alive. But that doesn’t mean that Audiobooks aren’t addictive. After the break, I need to listen to the next episode the next day, only in smaller portions than with reading but again that could purely be being unused to the habit and may change over time.

Audiobooks are certainly a great enrichment to the the world of books. As you only have the narrator’s voice as your compass, the activity of absorbing the story is exquisitely intense. You’re even more in the here and now and more concentrated on the act of getting to know the characters and the storyline than with the book in your lap. To me reading is a more casual affair, but again this may be due to the novelty of it all.

Conclusion: I’m hooked, I’m sold and I’m definitely going to listen to all my favourite authors & books one day, some day! Thank you Audible and my publisher Thorstruck Press for introducing me to audiobooks.

The audio version of my own first novel novel Casablanca, My Heart narrated by Kate Fisher will hopefully be out before Christmas. Yipppyyy!book

 

 

book

I'm quite chuffed with the first 5* review for Psychic Confessions that was published by Thorstruck Press on 22 November.

This is what the reviewer says:

I enjoyed Hannah's debut novel very much so I looked forward to reading the first in the Cottage on the Border series. Unlike Casablanca, My Heart, this story is a family saga. There is a roller coaster of emotions in this book and I found myself hoping that Jenna would find her answers. And find them she does as Hannah slowly reveals the past and present through the eyes of Jenna. Her brother Vincent is also an endearing character. This beautifully written novel will intrigue you and run you through a plethora of emotions. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a family saga series with a bit of thriller mixed in.

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Of course, I'm absolutely delighted to have my second novel Psychic Confessions, Book I in The Cottage on The Border Series published by my wonderful publisher Thorstruck Press. It was released last weekend and is exclusively available on Amazon around the world.

I'm featured on the Thorstruck Press blog and this is what it says about the book.

We're delighted to inform you that today you will find the new novel by Hannah Warren - on Amazon. Follow this link to redirect to your nearest Amazon for Psychic Confessions.

Originally titled The Cottage On the Border, this is now the title of the series. In Book 1 you meet Jenna, a complicated and depressed young woman (20) - who puts herself in harm's way because she is deeply unhappy with her life. As part of her self-inflicted therapy she follows the psychic images overtaking her mind in the solitude of an old stone cottage. The visions take her into her mother's past, her father's past, her extended family, and in so doing she experiences vicariously through them all, experiencing their grief, delusion, loves and passions.

Hannah Warren is our very own Danielle Steel, she doesn't just write a tale, she takes you on a massive journey through time, through lives both spiritual and superficial, breaking your heart and then mending it for you again. You will love and hate the enigmatic Markus, you will even love and hate Jenna, but in the end you will be liberated. If you enjoy novels saturated in complicated families (which all the best classics are), touched with war, destitution, spiritual discovery and liberation, passion, hard fathers, uncaring mothers, ragamuffin children, and brothers with hearts bigger than Jupiter, you will love this novel!

I do hope this fires your interest in reading a sample of Psychic confessions to see if you like it?

Here's the link to the blog post

Psychic Confessions final cover half size

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Psychic Confessions final cover half size

Today 23 November 2914 is a very special day for me! After a long intense fine-tuning process Psychic Confessions: Book 1 in the series The Cottage On The Border is available in Amazon stores around the globe, so also in the country of my residence The Netherlands. Great thanks to my editor and mentor Poppet at Thorstruck Press who did an unbelievable job at bringing the book to still greater heights and opening the doors to a sequel.

 

 

For today it'll suffice to give you the blurb and invite you to take a peek-sneak!! I do hope you'll be interested to read my new book and tell me what you think of it.

Blurb:

Jenna's earliest memory is of her mother's feet dangling in dust motes, as a three year old left orphaned while her mother's corpse hung from a beam. Her mother committed suicide, that's how she escaped and freed herself. When her own life falls apart Jenna's earliest memory becomes her anchor, she too wants to be free.

Vincent Van Son is Jenna's adopted brother, her psychiatrist, perhaps her only friend. He takes her to the Cottage for recovery, determined to rescue his sister from herself after her failed suicide attempt. The cottage on the border is at Oud Land, and is the location of many dark secrets.

Jenna's close call with death leaves her open to the psychic world, and in this cottage in the onset of a misty winter, Jenna hears them, the voices of the past, memories of what happened on the border. It becomes a journey to herself. She has to listen, to witness, she has no choice. Their stories are her story, and it is a long heritage of murder, deceit, ethnic discourse and betrayal.

Perspective returns to the introspective prima ballerina, she has learned the truth of her family, of this cottage of psychic confessions. She alone emerges from the rubble of six decades of troubled family history, a lone phoenix.

Psychic Confessions is a tale of murder, mystery, intrigue, familial despair, heartbreak, and spiritual resurrection.

nanome

It is with intense pride and with extreme tiredness I announce to have won the National Novel Writing Month 2014, making this 4 subsequent years I have 'done it'. This means: having written over 200,000 words written in 120 days on 3 different novels and 1 short story under very difficult personal circumstances that I do not want to further elaborate on right now but are the worst any parent can be made to bear. So, I'm crying, celebrating and shaking; wondering what the hellish attraction in it is for me but succumbing to this fever every year. Only those who take part in NaNoWriMo can actually understand its allure and I must tell you many of my writer friends don't "buy it".

Is it crap we write, is it a rough diamond or is it mediocre? The editing rounds that follow will tell us but I know that I write my best stuff when my ego is not in the way and when the quota I have to make for that day is the only thing that matters. When that hurries me on I seem to lose all sense-of-self-as-a-writer, the whole critical mind telling me to go hither or thither, crap-no-crap-possible crap etc,  and the characters take over and I type and type and when I read back what was actually written I'm often surprised at what I find. I don't even recall having registered that move of a bare arm in the late afternoon sun, or the light breeze that made the glass curtains bellow out through the french doors or the deep love and despair that pierced my male main character's heart. Ah yes, that's the reward of writing with lose wings!

Here's a sliver of what I penned down in this year's NaNoWriMo. It's the epilogue to the short story I wrote for the Thorstruck Anthology that will come out this Christmas. We are in the year 1919.

1919Epilogue

Château de Drakòn 1919

Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born – Anaïs Nin

Max Dupuis de Melancourt and his wife Elise, née Aberg, were sitting under the chestnut tree in the garden of their Château in Picardy drinking their morning coffee and chatting about this and that in an amiable way. Through the French windows Agnes and Angèle stepped out, dressed in light summer dresses, their straw hats tied under their chin with colourful ribbons. They had arrived from Paris the night before where Agnes was specialising as a gynaecologist and Angèle worked as a family doctor in the Nanterre district. Both were still single, as – like with so many women of their generation - their lovers, Gregor and Anthony, had not returned from the front. Agnes was twenty-six now but didn’t look a year older than twenty with her wavy blond hair and clear blue eyes, perhaps a little too thin and ethereal and serious but a beauty none the less. Angèle was still the tiny spirited, mass of copper curls with a decisive look around her mouth but a certain softness surrounded her now due to all that they had gone through in the Great War.

“Papa, we are expected at Château Drakòn this afternoon. Elle and Jacques invited us to stay with them for the weekend. Will you excuse us?”

Max, at fifty-two still upright and with a full head of hair that had turned completely grey, smiled as his daughter and her friend joined them:

“Of course, my darling. Please give them my greetings. I am so pleased you have become friends after all.”

Tons of memories made the trip to the Château near Roye very emotional for both young women. They parked the Renault Torpedo at Roye British Cemetery and walked among the endless rows of white crosses, the silence only broken by the lonely song of a nightingale high in the blue sky. Agnes laid a white rose under the cross that read Revant Chopra Sehgal, born Lahore, Punjab 2 January 1900- died Roye, France 5 August 1917.

They continued their journey in silence, wondering what they would find at Drakòn, which they had left soon after the Armistice on 11 November 1918 to return to Paris to recuperate. Although there had been an exchange of letters so that they knew Elle and Abigail had visited Valérie in the States and Jacques was still busy returning some normality to the castle and the old countess was still unchanged in her state of dementia, they hadn’t met up.

Arriving on the familiar gravel parking place in front of the castle, they were surprised to see quite a number of cars, also with English number plates.

“I don’t hope something happened to the old countess,” Agnes observed, “of perhaps her relatives are here.”

A broad-smiling Jacques and Elle stood on the steps of the castle in light summer gear, both in trousers and it dawned on Agnes she always seemed to arrive here in full summer. Only the last time she’d left, it had been a grim Autumn day.

“Welcome again,” brother and sister de Dragoncourt chimed. “Let’s go straight through to the garden, there is no time to waste,” Jacques added. After many kisses and bonjours, they tugged the two young doctors by their sleeves and dragged them to the garden where there was quite an assembly of people dressed festively but also men in military uniforms. Under an arbour a small string quartet was playing Irving Berlin’s That International Rag, which sounded quite cheerful and had already drawn couples to the wooden dance floor that had been created on the lawn. Electric lights were decorating the trees and the necks of champagne bottles stuck out of silver buckets filled with ice. The staff no longer in blood-smeared clothes but in immaculate black and white uniform served the guests as if they had not been through the war.

Two tall uniformed gentlemen with rows and rows of decorations went up to stand behind a table and signalled the musicians to stop playing. The two generals, one British and one French, stood side by side, looking imperial and victorious on the Drakòn lawn. The British general cleared his throat and in his deep loud voice announced:

“It is an honour to be here today to present to four young French citizens and one former British subject the British War Medal 1914-1918. These five young people have shown immense strength and courage during the Great War. This silver medal, also jokingly known as “Squeak” is awarded to men and women of the British and Imperial Forces who either entered a theatre of war or entered service overseas between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918. For over 1100 transports of wounded military from the front to the war hospital here at Drakòn, on numerous times descending into the trenches herself to carry out the wounded men, I’d like to ask Elle de Dragoncourt to step forward.”

Elle looking rather nervous for the first time in her life but hiding it under her usual air of bluff and bravery, marched up to the table, clasping her hands with the invariable red nails in front of her. She slowly bent her head as first the British general pinned the British War Medal and then the French general awarded her with the Croix de Guerre 1914-1918. The sun shone abundantly on her short brown crop of hair and for the very first time in her life, Elle looked vulnerable. A tear slipped down her cheek that she wiped stealthily as she took her up her position next to her brother again.

The general continued: “Abigail MacDonald you are awarded these crosses for at least 700 hundred ambulance rides to the front and back.

“Count Jacques de Dragoncourt you are awarded these crosses for the more than 6000 wounded soldiers that you looked after in your war hospital here at Château Drakòn and giving a temporary place for the almost 700 who didn’t survive their wounds.

“Angèle Brest, you are awarded these crosses for carrying out more than 500 operations on wounded soldiers of the Allied Forces.”

“Agnes Gunarsson Dupuis de Melancourt, you are awarded these crosses for carrying out more than 500 operations on wounded soldiers of the Allied Forces. Thanks to you, doctors, almost all these men have been able to return to their families.”

The group of young decorated war heroes were quite overcome by these words of such high distinction for what they had only considered their duty. None managed to mutter more than a soft ‘thank you’.

Later, when the music had resumed and the tall champagne glasses stood bubbly and tingling in front of them, they shyly inspected each others' medals, still quite wordless. The wordless silence of the men gone, the men they hadn’t been able to save and those they had.

They raised their glasses to victory and to friendship, blessing and cursing the blood-red nails of war.

THE END

undergroundwho knows...?

But this certainly is!!!

The Cottage On The Border will most probably be available as from next week and for me the good news is that amazon.nl  launched this week so now my books are also available to the Dutch audience. So far only the literary romance Casablanca, My Heart but soooooon my family saga with thriller elements. Both books partly take place in The Netherlands and The Cottage On The Border also deals with World War II, which - of course  - is a current topic so lets hope the readers of The Netherlands will find their way to my books. I will certainly target by marketing to my country of residence.

index

Very proud to show you the cover of my upcoming family saga The Cottage On The Border by Thorstruck Press with the definitive byline. Sadly, the byline can't be read by everyone as the printing  is so small but it says: "She alone emerged from the rubble of six decades of troubled family history, a lone phoenix." This is a line of Chapter One.

Out very soon now!! I'll keep you posted. Oh, and another snippet from the book. Part of Chapter 48 It's So Easy. A warning though, it's rather a cruel scene.byline

Markus and Dieter got out of the cab in the Tiergarten Strasse and went further on foot. As they came closer to the Kaiser Wilhelm Allee, they could hear the yelling and screaming of the angry mob. Some fifty to sixty people, most of them black, had gathered before the huge warehouse and were throwing everything they could find, from bricks to sticks, at the small barred windows. As far as Markus could see, the police had not yet arrived, which surprised him but he suspected plain-clothes policemen were keeping an eye on the crowd. With all the fights that went on between the extreme right and the immigrants the police had taken up a neutral position, which in fact wasn’t neutral, but consisted of letting the immigrants suffer the consequences. German middle classes, to which police officers also belonged, viewed the arrival of waves and waves of immigrants in their cities with disfavour and weren’t as eager to defend their rights as if they were their own flesh and blood. Still, Markus knew he had to be careful, so he summoned Dieter to jump behind a stone wall to make sure they stayed out of sight.

“You only shoot when I tell you to,” Markus ordered Dieter. He took in the colourful group–most likely Ethiopians—a rolling mass of some fifty males, moving in chaotic spasms. He aimed his Micro Uzi with almost leisurely ease. It was the first time his target was a human being and a powerful, undeniable desire took hold of Markus. He sought out a young man with a bright blue shirt and brown pants, short curly hair, the ebony skin lighting up in the late afternoon sun. With angry fists, the black man was banging on the doors of the warehouse where the white men who had raped Gabra Telahun Ketsela were hiding. The distance was too great for Markus to hear what his target was yelling, but the degree of upset he displayed made clear he must be related to the girl.

Markus kept him in sight, following his elegant moves, the slim, tall body; pure anger in a naked soul. He took in every detail of the man and his entire life sprang up before him. How he had walked barefooted through deserts in his homeland, sat cross-legged in front of the family tent, drinking coffee, laughing, discussing the world. This was an intelligent man. Born under different circumstances, in another country he could have been a doctor or a lawyer. But now he was not going to be either, ever, anywhere. This nameless Ethiopian would have to pay for all Markus had never achieved himself, because he too was born under circumstances that could never lead to a better life. As he fired, Markus became one with the man that fell. He fell with him.

When the shot rang through the air the crowd burst apart; leaving twenty-four-year-old Dabir Telehun Ketsela, the uncle of the raped girl, dying in a pool of his own blood.

TO BE CONTINUED