However, despite this fear, I will continue to stick to my original morals as a writer. I write for the love of writing. My novels will be all mine, hence when I publish I will self-publish and create my own cover. I will continue to make my writing affordable for my readers to buy because I wish to make it accessible to anyone who would like to read my writing. This isn't my job. It is my soul.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Sky Stone is available on CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com at present. The eBook is a mere 99c, the paperback is $8.95.
Gently, I placed my hand on hers. I dared not disturb her when she looked so peaceful and yet I couldn't help but find comfort in the contact. Somehow, I felt as if this may the last chance I would get. Her eyelids flickered weakly but remained closed. I imagined her lips had turned up softly at the corners, a gentle smile.
Beep, Beep, Beep…........
I looked up the monitor. My mouth went dry. Such a familiar and oddly comforting sound that sound had been. I gripped her hand, so small, so fragile.
Shouts. People, lots of people, rushed into the cubicle. I was dragged away as I watched the frantic scene unfold. My own voice joined the fray but only the one lady stayed by me. A stranger, telling me to stay back, a hand on my arm as if to restrain me. But I did not pull away, it would not have helped. Her bed was wheeled away. I stood and watched, my voice holding all of the love in my world.
I will see you again, one day, my love.
Recently on Google+ I entered a just-for-fun writing competition where short stories and poetry could be entered based on a given prompt image. I was stoked to find that I won after receiving the most +1's on my short story titled 'The Package'!
Please have a read of said short story. I hope you enjoy! (I apologize for the cliff hanger at the end; there was a word limit)
I opened my eyes slowly as I heard the chatter around me rise, a buzz of quiet voices. With bleary vision I gazed to my right where people lined the side of the train carriage, all struggling to see out of the windows. I nudged Nathan beside me who had been sleeping with his head resting on my shoulder. He grunted and rubbed his eyes. His bright white hair was tousled and his young face was marked from where he had been resting.
"Are we nearly there, Cindy?" He asked sleepily.
"Not sure," I said, "But I wonder what's caused the fuss." Nathan looked when I nodded to the people who muttered to each other. Together we rose and bobbed about trying to see past the mass of people.
"Why didn't we stop back there?" I heard one man ask, "I'm on the correct train, right?"
"I don't know," Replied a woman, "Someone should go talk to the conductor."
The numerous voices were a babble of questions and complaints.
"SIT DOWN! We've taken charge of this train!" A man shouted from the front of the carriage. A lady screamed as she was thrown down in to the aisle. People gasped and sat down briskly, not caring where they sat. Two men wearing black balaclavas sauntered down the aisle, eyes flicking to every face, pistols held casually before them. One of the two men chuckled with pleasure as he gazed at a young woman. She huddled back in her seat in fear.
I was tagged by Emma Lindhagen whose own post for this blog hop is on her website (http://www.emmalindhagen.com). She was kind enough to tag me after I expressed interest in being a part of this hop. I love blog hops!
The rules are: Answer the four questions below, link back to the person who invited you, and name the people who will be posting the following Monday.
What am I working on?
Currently I have three projects in the works although all three are at different stages of the writing process. Firstly, my debut novel, Sky Stone, is in its final beta read and edit. After this run through I will be completing the cover, of which I already have a draft version, and publishing it on Createspace as both an ebook and as a soft cover print.
Secondly, comes the sequel to Sky Stone called Guardian Core. I have only recently completed writing the manuscript of Guardian Core and am now entering the editing process. Exciting! After working on Sky Stone for so many years, and this novel for around two so far, I feel my writing skills have improved and are on full display in this second novel of mine.
Thirdly, is a novel completely unrelated to my first two. My third novel currently is untitled and is still being outlined. This will be my first time writing a story based in the future and am excited about how my writing may develop as I nurture this novel into existence.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Such a difficult question to answer. My main genre of writing (in novel form) is Young Adult Fantasy aimed at young females. My novels present female protagonists who overcome overwhelming odds over the course of the book. I feel that my novels are different than others of its genre since the protagonist expresses a number of the emotions and circumstances (if exaggerated) that I experienced as a teenager. This is especially true with Sky Stone since I began writing it at the age of fifteen when I was in the midst of emotional turmoil, my protagonist, Skyla, expressing many of the same emotions I did as I wrote.
I am also not afraid to describe violent confrontations or sexual ones. These are both aspects of life that teenagers are aware are a part of life. I do not write horror nor do I write erotica but some may believe that my descriptions are too descriptive.
Why do I write what I write?
I I love to read fantasy and I love to write fantasy. Before I started writing Sky Stone I never believed would write a novel let alone one of the fantasy genre. I considered fantasy authors to be incredible and couldn't understand how their imaginations allowed them to create such unusual scenes. I had a dream, eventually wrote it down, and realized it wasn't that hard. Most importantly, I found out how fun it was to write fantasy. My reason for loving to write fantasy is the same as why I love reading it; I enjoy escaping reality. Fantasy novels are monuments to the human imagination. I'm not suggesting that we use more imagination than writers of other genres however. Fantasy writing allows me to savour in my wildest dreams, preserving them forever.
How does your writing process work?
My writing process has changed considerably since I first began writing novels but I will describe how I write nowadays. I now start with an outline; a comprehensive, detailed outline with notes about the setting, characters feelings and actions, and why those actions are taken. I keep a list of every character I introduce with descriptions about their appearance, personality and any other important facts. I explain the history of my setting in reference to the culture, social ranking, environment, and technology. Once I am happy with where my story will lead I begin writing.
When I am writing the manuscript I don't restrict myself to writing linearly, in chronological order. I write which ever scene is most vivid to me at the time be it at the beginning, middle, or end of the book. I do this so that my emotions and passion about this particular scene is at its peak and hence I will do my best writing. Once all of the main scenes are written I write the linking scenes in between.
Once the manuscript is completed I begin editing. I will try to edit as much as I can by myself before giving my manuscript to a beta reader. I don't have a set number of run throughs per novel merely a feeling of completeness, that I can't go any further alone. I try to catch as many spelling, grammatical, and structure mistakes early so that they do not distract from the content editing. I then attempt to read through my story without paying too much head to these small errors. This allows me to focus on whether the story itself makes sense and flows. It also allows me to notice which areas need more or less description. When this stage of editing is complete I will give the manuscript to some trusted beta readers who I instruct to be as brutal as they can. The more they point out, the more feedback I have to work from. I then sift through their comments and work on those which I deem would benefit my story. I repeat this process a number of times until I believe there really is not that much more to be done. Then it is time to publish.
I prefer the self-publishing route myself. Self-publishing gives me more control over how my book is presented to the public. I have skills in Adobe Photoshop and Indesign and can use these programs to design my own covers. I ask for feedback on my drafts to see whether my target readers would find it attractive. My purpose in writing is for myself and not for money. This is not a career to me but a hobby that I plan to pursue and grow better at. I don't care for being a bestselling author but to enjoy the act of writing and creating something I can be proud of. This is why I self-publish.
I hope this gave you a little insight about me and my writing. Now I’m passing the blog hop on to the following people:
Thanks for reading everyone. Check out Devin's post when it goes online next Monday.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Hey everyone. Lately I wrote a guest post for fellow author, Lauren Lynne. It's titled 'Write For You First' and is base on my view on why authors should write. Remember why you started in the first place!
Read it here:
Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful week!
Scarlett Van Dijk
This year is going to be a good one! Not only is this my final year of university and I expect to begin my career by the end of the year, but this is the year Sky Stone will be published. I'm out to please, showing what I can do to my radiographer supervisors while I am on placement. It is exciting to that in only a year I will be a qualified radiographer, published author, and thinking about actually living my life.
A year of mostly placement and barely any lectures sounds like hard work. However, I love it! I couldn't be any happier knowing that this line of work is the right one for me. That is something the majority of people in the world will never have the opportunity to find. Soon I will be able to plan for my future, moving away from home, holidaying, exploring different hobbies, and eventually starting a family. I may be getting ahead of myself, I'm not even 21 yet, but my vision of the future is a goal worth dedicating myself to. I can't wait!
Unfortunately, there have been delays with the editing of Sky Stone. However, I plan on seeing it edited and up for reading as soon as possible. This is something I have been striving for since I realized I had a completed manuscript on my flash drive a number of years ago. Sky Stone has been a struggle and a learning experience and I am extremely proud to have created it. Publishing it will feel truly like my first step into authorship, my chance to call myself a published author. It's sequel, Guardian Core, I hope to begin polishing for publication as soon as Sky Stone is available to all.
These are only a couple of the things that will make this year amazing. My martial arts life is also taking off, along with my friendships and amazing relationship. I love life!!!
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I have been receiving queries about the chance to guest post on my blog by many authors. On most occasions I say, "yes, of course you can!" However, recently I have been receiving messages from professional bloggers asking to post for a fee. Now then, as soon as money gets involved my answer is an instant "no", no "ifs", "buts", or "maybes". I will never pay my guest bloggers to write posts for this blog. This post will outline exactly why I have a blog, why I host guests, and why I won't pay my guest bloggers.
Why I Have a Blog
In basic terms, this blog is a form of self-marketing. As an author, I am trying to make myself and my writing known. I want my readers to have an insight into me and my writing. I also hope to answer any questions that my fellow authors may have about the craft (I don't claim to be a writing guru by the way! I write about my own experiences.). A blog is one way of doing this although it does take effort and time. This is the primary reason that I began this blog.
The second reason I keep this blog is something I only discovered through writing weekly posts. I have found that by writing about the craft I have forced myself to think more about how I write rather than merely The Story. It has formalized many techniques of writing for me, and I have learnt more about my writing style.
Why I Host Guests
There are two reasons why I host guest bloggers. Firstly, I have many commitments and can only write one post a week. I want my readers to have two posts a week to read. As well as being unable to write two posts myself, I don't want to smother my readers just with my own ramblings. By hosting guests I can offer information I cannot supply or that differs from my own opinion. It's always good to see another's perspective.
Secondly, guest posts bring traffic to my site. Some of the authors that have guest posted on my blog have been published and already have an established fan base (not all of them). Through these authors sharing links to their post on my blog their fans then provide hits on my website. Those readers may go on to read other blog posts or browse through the rest of my site, which includes information about my books (sneaky right?). For those not so well known authors, by guest posting on my blog they are receiving a self-marketing opportunity. It is another way to get their name known and potentially improve book sales.
Why I Won't Pay My Guest Bloggers
So, I have designed this blog to be a mutually beneficial place for myself and other authors. I receive more readers on my blog and my guest bloggers gain exposure. In the long run, this may help in the quest to sell more books. I currently have a long list of authors that have requested to post and I have no need of paid bloggers.
Please don't ask for payment if you wish to post on this blog. Thanks for reading.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Currently I am reading the final book from the incredible epic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time, written by Robert Jordan. As I sit back and bask in what I have read so far I realise something that I have previously noticed with other books that I have read. The styles of writing that I have read are adopted somewhat as I write my own novels. Previously I disliked this concept, thinking that my writing should be completely my own, original, and with my own unique style. However, I now realise with the more books I have read, and hence their styles, the better my own writing has developed.
The first time I recognised this was back in high school while studying Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'. Her flowery, old school English tone seemed to weave itself into my own writing. I even noticed this change in the essays of my school mates. With each different author whose books I read, I noticed my writing take on a slightly different tone of voice. Over time that voice would dissipate so that it no longer was so pronounced but each book left with me a new style to add to my mental catalogue. I could now write with that voice if need be. Hence, reading books allows me to vary how I write.
Robert Jordan has had one of the biggest impacts on my writing. This could be due to the sheer number of books that make up The Wheel of Time series but I also believe he is the best author that I have read to date. I have seen people criticise his writing as being overly descriptive but, as a reader, my personal opinion is that I love lots of description (in the right places). I like to sit back and form an image in my mind based on what the author planned. I like to feel as the author intended me to feel as I read. Robert Jordan has taught me a lot about description and my writing has benefited greatly. Of course, every writer favours different styles of writing and will learn different things from reading than myself or another fellow author.
And so I am adding another New Year’s resolution to my list. I am going to attempt to read more often and read books by different authors. I encourage all my fellow authors out there to do the same. Sure, your writing will improve if you write more often but don't overlook the value of reading. Put some time aside to sit down with a good book just like you hope your own readers will do.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
As a writer, I had a fear (one among many). It may have been an irrational fear but a fear non-the-less. I was afraid that I was stuck in a rut. I had been working on Sky Stone and its sequel, Guardian Core, for so long I was afraid I was incapable of write anything different. I felt trapped, writing about Skyla and her companions in the medieval land of Branzia. Sure enough, I have plenty of plans for further books in this particular setting. However, a couple of days ago, my fears were dissipated.
One drizzly morning I awoke in wonder. In one night I had dreamt almost the entire plot for a new novel. This novel didn't star Skyla or any of her co-stars. It wasn't set in Branzia or even in another medieval landscape. It appeared to be an urban fantasy set in the future, a time in which I had never planned on writing. Afraid of forgetting this dream, I went to work on an outline instantly and in a couple of days had an almost complete outline coving two pages (much longer than my regular, very basic, outlines). I know what the main issue will be and how my protagonist will struggle to solve it. I have a basic description of the setting and female protagonist whom I plan on naming Raylin. I know my antagonist and his motives. The makings of a novel, different from my others, is just waiting to be written.
I am surprised and awed. The human imagination is a magical thing. Sometimes, it will present you with exactly what you require. As soon as the first draft of the Guardian Core manuscript is complete I will begin work on this new manuscript. I'm so excited to start on this endeavour that I almost want to push everything else to the side. So, when you feel you're at a loss for new ideas, sometimes you just need to wait. Surround yourself with books, movies and music. Give your brain all of the material it needs but don't force it to produce straight away. Let your mind create a masterpiece in its own time and be dazzled by the result when it shows itself.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I could scream with the anticipation of publishing my first novel, Sky Stone. Sky Stone is so close to being published after being so long in the works. I may be so nervous that a part of me wants to keep the words from ever being placed before the eyes of the public and yet there's nothing I want more than to share my work. I just want to send the manuscript off as soon as possible so that I can finally hold my book in my hands, smell the scent of newly printed pages, feel the brush of paper flicking beneath my fingers. The feeling is intensified now that I have a completed draft of the cover and the manuscript is with the editors. I feel like there is nothing more I can do until the manuscript is returned. However, I count myself fortunate to be able to accomplish things my own way.
I'm lucky that I have been able to carry out all the work for extremely little money. This was especially important to me as I am a full-time university student earning approximately $100 a week as a freelance social media marketer and desktop publisher. Those skills however, have helped me complete most of the work myself. I have carried out all of my own online marketing, designed my own website using Weebly, and created my own book cover using Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. I have barely spent any money and even the editing being currently completed is for free.
How did I get my editing for free? Good question. The answer is: I got lucky. Unable to pay the fees for a professional freelance editor I contacted the Creative Writing school of my university hoping to be put in touch with a new graduate editor who would offer to edit Sky Stone for a small amount. I was ecstatic when I received a reply asking to use Sky Stone as the Advanced Editing student's semester project free of charge! I contacted the department at just the right time. Phew!
Many writers believe that self-publishing is a rather expensive endeavour but it needn't be. If you have a few extra skills, intuition and little luck, you can do it for little expense. Some of those extra skills can be easily learnt using online tutorials or messing around on programs, working out the features. Of course, if you want your novel to hit the top sellers list on Amazon you may need to put in a little more effort. However, if you're like me, and you want to publish your story for yourself, you can afford to be stingy with your money.
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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