is a captivating new epic fantasy book series for adults. Not recommended for the most sensitive readers because of the explicit content, though! But if you don’t mind severed heads and intimate scenes, keep reading.
I eyed through my old writings this morning. Poems I wrote in the year 2000. They are pregnant with teenage anxiety, the woe of someone who feels like she’s been born in the wrong time and place, among all the wrong people, none of whom understands her. The pain was real back then, but today the laments I had the guts to call poetry just make me chuckle.
Pathetic as they are, a few of my poems were published in one of Finland’s biggest newspapers. I don’t know if that can be called an achievement as they probably published every poem, think piece, etc. they received, but to me, it was a huge step even to send my texts there. Although I’ve dreamed of becoming an author since childhood, I’ve always been shy to share my work with others. That hasn’t changed after publishing Runecursed. My heart still skips, for fright as much as joy, every time I see someone has purchased the book or is reading it through KU.
I’m stepping out of my comfort zone every time I publish anything, but here I go again. Here’s a piece of my history as a writer (the Finnish original as it was published in the paper on the left). I tried to make the translation sound as clumsy as the original is to preserve the authentic feel.
…is like a blind hen trying to find a grain. I peck about randomly, and sometimes, without ever knowing how I did it, I hit the jackpot. Then I teeter around, frantic to find the source of my success until I realize it must’ve been just a stroke of luck.
When talking about jackpots and success, I don’t mean anything phenomenal like my book zooming on the top of Amazon’s best-seller list overnight. To me, success equals 110 downloads of my ebook in two days. The book was free, but I’m thrilled, nonetheless. So many people found my story worth giving a go! (At least, I hope that was why they downloaded it, not just because it was free… Do people do that with books; pick them up just because they are free of charge? I know I don’t.)
What makes me even happier is that every one of those 110 downloads was authentic. I have no army of friends I could ask to go to Amazon and download ten copies of my ebook each to make it rise higher in the listing. I’d do it if I could, but as my social circle is practically non-existent, I’m down to spamming ads on my social media accounts and FB groups and praying someone swallows the bait. For once, the gods of marketing were on my side!
I’m excited to start a new week, thinking that someone ,somewhere, might be reading my book right now. I would keep writing even if no one ever read a word of it, but still, knowing that someone does makes me happy. Maybe this is how a mother bird feels when watching her chick hop out of the nest and try its tiny wings. It might never soar to the sun, but it not crashlanding right away is a reason to rejoice.
With this small piece of shared joy, I wish y’all a fantastic week and much success in whatever you do!
This is a post I’m all but intimidated to write. The gentleman I’m going to talk about has had such an enormous effect on my life through his work that I fear the words might turn inadequate in expressing it. Nonetheless, I will try, for I wouldn’t be writing at all (I might not even be anymore if not for his music) if not for A. W. Yrjänä, a Finnish musician, poet, and author. No worries, I’ll call him Mr. Y henceforth, so your brain won’t get stuck wondering, “How the hell am I supposed to pronounce that?”.
In the first part of the series, Why Do I Write, I talked about Tolkien and how he’s the reason I write fantasy. However, had I not discovered Mr. Y’s music, I wouldn’t be writing at all, save maybe in a diary. Y is the singer/basíst/songwriter of a Finnish rock band CMX. They’ve been making music since the late 80s and are still thriving. I found them in 1998 when their seventh album, Vainajala, was published. I hated the single ‘Ei yksikään’ when I heard it for the first time. Still, it kept ringing in my head until I gave in and bought the CD.
I didn’t fall in love straight away. I was 14 and had been “kept in a barrel” till then, and the themes of the songs didn’t quite unfold to me. I liked the album enough to buy the older ones, and in those, I found pieces in sync with my rebellious teenager mind.
I found out that Y had published a book of poems in 97 and asked for my mom to buy it for me for Christmas. She did, and I plunged into the pool of poetry. I swam there for many years, thanks to Mr. Y, and scribbled some poems myself.
Unlike Tolkien, Mr. Y’s work has never had an off-putting effect on me. I looked up to him and wanted to become as brilliant a writer as he is, but instead of his brilliance making me think, I’ll never reach that level, so why would I even try, I was encouraged by his music and poetry. Not just to keep writing but at one point also to keep living.
I wallowed in quite deep waters back then. I was lonely and never allowed to go anywhere in the evenings and weekends, so all I did outside the school was read, listen to music, and roam in the woods with our dog. CMX became my lifeline. When I felt like crumbling, I listened to them, and the ocean surrounding me seemed a little less murky.
The brightest beacon in the blackness of my youth was their double album Dinosaurus Stereophonicus (2000). In there, I found the comfort and gentleness I so craved for. Listening to DS felt like being enfolded in the arms of someone who cares about you and wants you nothing but good. It was like an embrace of a dearest friend. (I warned you that I have no words to describe the enormity of Mr. Y’s influence on my very existence…). When our world felt like the last place to be, I locked myself in my room and listened to CMX, Y’s words and voice that ensured me that life could be something other than frost and thorns one day.
Though my life today is anything but bleak and loveless, I still turn to Mr. Y when I’m doleful or discouraged. When I feel I suck at writing, I read a few poems of his or listen to one of the albums. His words are my happy place, an endless source of inspiration and motivation.
To give you some insight into what I’m talking about and to wrap up this post that I could well continue for a few thousand words more, I translated the piece above, Sulaneet muovisotilaat, for you. Now, this is very sketchy a translation, but I believe it’s better than ravaging the lyrics with something like Google Translator.
So, here you are! Enjoy one masterpiece of Finnish rock lyrics.
That was the mantra one of our teachers parroted to us in the business school. And she was so right. Always, always, always make a backup, preferably many, of any work you wish to keep because the machines are treacherous bitches and will die on you when you least expect it.
My computer has been in use only for a year and was brand new when I got her. Yesterday morning, she woke up screaming. In pain, or terror, or both, I’ll never know. Might be that she just felt neglected and wanted my full attention to her as something else than just a piece of equipment. She caught it, for sure.
I started her. She piped up a “PUUUPUUUPUUUPI” -sound at the top of her mechanical lungs. I asked her what was wrong? Her face remained dark and unresponding, and it loomed to me that something more might be going on than just her being cranky for having been woken up so early.
The noise went on and on. At one point, we were screaming together, for it had also dawned on me that she held too many files as hostages that I hadn’t saved anywhere else. At this point, I was shouting louder than her.
I plugged her off. She stopped peeping. I was on the verge of ditching her out into the yard. As I am a grown-up and as such obliged to act reasonably, I called the maintenance instead. The guy was very compliant. Sure, you can send her here. The warranty is for two years. We’ll fix her, no worries.
But what about my files? I asked, fearing for the answer. Well, they’re lost. He had the decency not to chide me for not having saved a backup.
No, no, no… I can’t lose all that work. I was on the edge of tears. Will I order the maintenance? He asked. Don’t! I was thinking fast. What can I do? Why, take her to a friend who knows how to dig your precious files out of her cooling bowls. I’ve got no such friends… Well… What about that maintenance? I’ll call you back.
I plunged into Google, found the local computer maintenance business, and called them, an emergency call. The guy there was like super calm. No, we’re not busy. You can bring her straight away. If the hard drive isn’t dead, we should be able to salvage your files.
So, I carried my wounded machine into the car and drove to town. The computer guy was magnificent, an ocean of tranquility.
By the time I got back home, I could think clearly again and check my pen drive. I hadn’t lost as much as I had thought, but the edited version of my book was gone. Days and days of work. And some sections of the sequel were also gone. Something that I can live with, I decided.
Still, I was forlorn. Bloody bitch! How could she do this to me? On my birthday of all days? I stared vehemently at my old laptop, a loyal and tireless servant, just as a machine should be. I hate writing with a laptop. And she is so slow! Yet, she’s all I’ve got, and I’m grateful for her unwavering fealty.
I’m also grateful for my partner. He comes home with a bundle of flowers and a broad smile. Happy birthday, love. How could I not smile back? Thanks, honey. My computer crashed. Why would she do that? Dunno. She got off on the wrong foot, I suppose.
I had made curry for dinner, and we ate. Ice cream for dessert. I went to my little laptop after, for I needed to be present on social media. He watched me for a while. I said I didn’t like working with the laptop. It makes my neck hurt. We never watch our telly, he said. True.
So, he grabbed the TV, planted it on my desk, attached it to my laptop, gave me his keyboard, which he wasn’t using anyway, he claimed, and here I am, with a 32″ screen and proper keyboard, thinking that I must’ve done something right during the cycle of my lives to have deserved him.
At least I had the file loaded on Amazon before the computer failed me.
…you sometimes suffer after having finished a brilliant book. Everyone who reads, knows what I’m talking about. The book ends, and you feel wrecked, hollow and at a loss like a withered seed pot in an autumn gale.
The last thing to do then is to pick up another book straight away, but if you’re greedy (and hoovering) like me, you choose one and tap ‘play’, knowing it to be a mistake. The book you try to go for after the one that left you adrift does nothing but irritates you, regardless of how magnificent you’ll find it after a couple of days. So, if you’re yet to experience this, take my advice and spend a few hours in silence after a book that gave you goosebumps. Or listen to some music—anything but grabbing a new read straight away.
Another thing reading an outstanding book does -to a writer (unless your work is on the top of the best sellers’ list)- is to shove you into a slump. Though you know you shouldn’t, you compare your humble, little scribbling to the masterpiece you just closed, and all its flaws sprawl before you, reminding you of the enormity of what you’ve still got to learn. You hover on the verge of deleting all you’ve written because it can never be as good as.
That’s one way to deal with the issue I’m struggling with on daily bases -the feeling of not being good enough. Or rather, not being as good as I’d want to be. Reading/listening to excellent stories others have written helps not at all, of course, but one must read to learn how to write, and I rather give what little spare time I’ve got to a fantastic work than waste it on something that might make me feel a little better about my own writing.
I’ve always had this weird love/hate relationship with books. I love reading. I’d choose a good book over pretty much anything if I were made to choose. I’ve lived a thousand lives just because I read. Yet, the insecure writer in me sometimes wants to burn all books. Especially those I classify as “good”. I would regret such a vile act as soon as I tossed the match into the heap of books that make me want to exterminate everything I’ve ever scribbled myself, because it would mean burning to cinders friends and loved ones, arms that are always open when I need encouragement or just a comforting hug.
If you read this far –no, there was never any gist to this post. I felt like writing, but after having just finished a magnificent book, I couldn’t return to my script in the fear that I might indeed end up wiping the whole document clean.
I still ask myself on a regular basis; why do I write? I always come up with three reasons (besides the fact that writing is the only thing I’m any good at), three authors whose works have inspired me so much that I wanted to become an author myself.
!Runecursed, the ebook, is FREE WORLDWIDE on MAY 7th and 8th on Amazon!
Before we get to the first of these three gentlemen who are to thank (or blame) for this obsession of mine, I must give credit also to my mother, who read tons of books to me when I was little. She’d take me to the library, we’d pick up the books together, and she’d read them to me in the evenings. So, I was already more than familiar with the written word when I went to school and learned to read and write myself.
I started writing stories as soon as I learned the alphabet. My first “book” is written with hyphens which means I was in the first grade of elementary school when writing it. It’s about ponies. I was obsessed with ponies back then.
At this point I wish to point out that this is not an author nor book review. This is rather a part of the tale behind a tale.
So much for the rambling. The first man to thank (blame) for my decision to become a published (fantasy) author is none other than John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. His work has inspired tens of thousands of fantasy authors, artist, and musicians, so I’m just one fish in the sea. Still, his books are the reason why I write fantasy.
I read Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was around 12. I loved it. It was amazing, inspiring… The best book I had read so far. It was also disheartening. I wanted to write a book as brilliant one day but was convinced that I could never do it. I wasn’t good enough. (Well, obviously. I was twelve and just finished my second “novel” about ponies and ponygirls.
(Un)Fortunately, I was damnably stubborn already back then, and instead of ditching the pen and finding another hobby, I kept writing. I didn’t write much fantasy, for I knew I could never be as fantastic as Tolkien. I created imaginary worlds, though, drew maps, and invented creatures and characters. I also weaved stories in my head but rarely put them on paper.
During the three years of junior high school, I read every Tolkien book I could find in the local library and bookstore, most of them twice or thrice over. I read tons of books from other authors, but Tolkien remained the one to whom I kept returning. I’ve re-read my copy of LotR, so many times its cover has been broken.
Then I went to high school, and we make a time jump to the present. I still don’t think I could one day write like Tolkien, but it doesn’t keep me from writing fantasy anymore as it did when I was a kid. Still, his influence is evident. It lances through my world-building, plotting, wording… When writing, I catch myself rambling page after page about small things that even I’d find irrelevant and tedious as a reader. And that’s saying a lot, for I love, love, love details! It’s more than a little irritating, and though I was determined to write like Tolkien when I was twelve, today, I struggle free of his influence. Not all of it -I enjoy myself in a Middle-earth type of world and like the archaic language- but I could definitely jabber less.
Nonetheless, I owe John not just my passion for writing fantasy but also my interest in folklore and mythology. He showed me the door to a world that I might not have discovered otherwise, at least not at such an early age. Of that, if anything, I’m grateful.
Lastly, to close the circle in a way, something else Tolkien-inspired that has inspired me (Yes, there’s a lot of music behind my writing even though I cannot play a chord myself. I will be returning to the subject at some point, for music is the fuel that keeps me running.):
Today I thought to write a “few” words about how I crawled up from a writing slump. Though nowadays writing comes almost as easily as breathing to me, it hasn’t always been so.
When I was young (meaning the time when I was still in school, a long time ago…), I spent all my spare time writing and reading. After graduating from the university of applied sciences, the everyday life of an adult hit me full in the face, and I pretty much lost my interest in reading books and writing stories. I did read but not near as much as before, and my attempts to write were only occasional, and I lacked the fervor I had once possessed.
A few years ago, I was in a situation where I had more time for my interests. After a while, I started reading more and felt ready to return to writing, too. Only to realize that I cannot concentrate on it any longer.
I could start a story, write a few hours in a mad spree, and the next day find out that I had no interest in continuing with it. There were also days when I wanted to write but couldn’t figure out a subject. However, I came up with a solution that I decided to share if some of you guys are struggling with a similar problem.
I turned to the internet and searched for techniques and exercises that might help me overcome the block. I found them aplenty, of course, and picked a few that seemed best suited to my need. I admit that I don’t remember whether any of their names had anything to do with tomatoes (and am too bloody lazy to google the original technique for you), but I named it such, nonetheless. I have a hunch that I combined two or more different techniques, or at least customized one to fit my needs.
Anyway, here’s how I made writing a habit again and regained my creative spree. It’s simple and cheap, just like all the best things in life.
You need at least five sheets of paper in different colors, scissors (Optional. You can tear the paper in slips as I did.), a pencil, and a see-through jar large enough to fit your hand. And, of course, a notebook, laptop, or anything else to write into/with.
Pick a color and write the times on the slips (This isn’t necessary. You can decide to write for an hour every day.). I shared my tomato (one hour) in four chunks. Then write genres, styles, categories, and narrator persons, each on their own color. You can write down as many or few of each as you like. Fold the slips in two, so you can’t read them when picking them up from the jar or box or in whatever container you decide to keep them.
The second edition of Runecursed is now available for pre-order on Amazon!
When it’s your chosen time of the day to write your tomato (to me, it was in the morning), take your jar and pick randomly one slip of each color. It’s easier to concentrate if you set up a timer that alarms when your “chunk” is full (unless you’ve decided to write for an unlimited time which is also fine). Then you’ll write based on the keywords you picked. For instance, if you picked up ‘a quarter of a tomato’, ‘first-person male/man’, ‘a poem’, ‘science fiction’ and ‘humorous’, your task is to use fifteen minutes in writing a humorous SF poem in the first-person male voice. Very simple, fun, and at least to me, it worked like magic.
The trick is that the technique frees you from figuring out the subject, point of view, etc. You can just concentrate on creating. Writing for a specific time can be liberating to those whose creativity is disturbed and restricted by the duties of everyday life. After all, an hour isn’t a long time (and if you’re extremely busy, you can decide to write only a quarter of an hour daily). You can write your tomato while having lunch or in the evening when you might otherwise watch TV or just lounge on the couch doing nothing.
As said, to me, writing “tomatoes” worked wonders. I didn’t need to do it longer than a month or so to regain my drive and make writing a daily habit. If you’re struggling with writer’s block or new to writing, go ahead and try!
PS. Just to make clear: I haven’t invented this technique, so if you happen to know who did, be kind and inform me! I’d be happy to give the credit to whom it belongs by mentioning the original source.
It is so like me to try and climb into the tree with my backside first, so no wonder I did it with the book, too. On the other hand, had I not published it, I’d still be postponing the editing, making the cover and everything with the excuse of not having time for such when writing the second part, days in, days out. I was so engaged in creating the story that I ignored (consciously) everything else related to making a book. Now I’m learning things the hard way.
Now that the book is submitted under proper editing, the name of the series is changed to something more approachable, and the cover re-designed (for half a dozen times), I can only say that it isn’t entirely a bad thing that Runecursed has reached no more than a handful of readers, thus far. When it comes out again, it’s honed as close to perfection as possible, and I’ll be that much prouder to say that I wrote it. After all, I am a perfectionist when it comes to writing. I also know that I can improve in both storytelling and language and won’t spare myself in striving to become as good a writer as I can.
Maybe the increasing light of this slowly progressing spring helped me overcome the self-doubts and weariness that threatened to engulf me. Taking a couple of days off during Easter also cheered me up. I can’t remember when I last spent even a day without doing anything related to the book, and on the weekend, I was away from it almost two days in a row! It doesn’t sound much, but even such a short break worked wonders.
So, don’t forget to take a day off every now and then to enjoy the springtime! Creativity needs rest at least as much as incentives to flourish, and sometimes (in my case, always) the best ideas pop to mind in the middle of the midday walk.
I decided that I hate marketing. It snatches an immense amount of time away from what I’d want to be doing, which is, obviously, working with the second book. Besides, spending all those hours in creating and posting ads on social media (which is pretty much the only way for me to market as what audience I might have is reachable only online and I can’t afford any costly ad campaigns on any platforms) has turned out quite fruitless.
So, instead of hammering my head to the wall for any longer, I’ll stop selling the book and give (force-feed) it for free on this side. I’m doing this mostly to regain the peace of mind needed for creating. The constant pondering of how to market gnaws my concentration making it impossible for me to keep writing though my head is swarming with ideas.
I did some editing on the book this week. I followed my own advice, rearranged the chapters, most of which were way too long, and chopped the longest paragraphs in shorter sections. Now that I got it done, I realize I should’ve seen to it ages ago. The book is definitely more readable now. I also edited the contents though with the lightest of hands. I do have a (bad) habit of writing lengthy descriptions of things that, despite of being relevant, aren’t necessarily interesting to the reader. I’ve tried to shed it (in some measures, at least) and think that I’m doing much better with the second book in that sense.
Without further ado, if You are looking for something new to read on Easter, the Prologue of Runecursed is available until April 20 on THIS SITE. I’ll update to a new chapter every Thursday, so, it’ll be one chapter per week and every chapter is readable only for one week. Comments are allowed and I would be over the moons if you gave me feedback.
It’s a bumpy road this path of a writer. I never imagined otherwise, I’m too much a realist to have harbored any wild expectations of success. Nonetheless, I’ve been second-guessing most everything about the book lately, wondering whether I was too hasty in publishing it, whether I should take it off market and make some changes to it.
What would those changes be, I don’t know. Improving the grammar (there’s always something to correct no matter how many times you edited the script), adjusting the layout, maybe rearranging some of the chapters… Though I am in a bit of a slump right now, I’m not unhappy with the story itself. Maybe I should be though? It’s hard to know when you get little to zero feedback. I know it’s not perfect (it can never be that) and am well aware that it’s not for everyone, but it is very close to what I aimed for.
Still, I’m constantly struggling with the thought that perhaps, I should ditch my pipe dreams and return to just reading books that others, people who actually can create stories, have written. I know there’s no going back to the point where I was content with writing just to myself with no intention ever to even consider exposing my work to others. It’s either to keep writing with the purpose of publishing or trash my quill once and for all.
I should keep all this to myself, I know, scribble these things into a paper diary and then burn it to destroy all the evidence of my moment of weakness. I would do just that if I wasn’t convinced that most of you who have aspired for getting a book published or published one yourselves have wallowed in the same swamp. Haven’t you? I know also that most of you have crawled up from the bog hole and kept reaching for your goal, was it to become a Nobelist or sell a few hundreds copies on Amazon, despite of all the second-guessing. I’m going to rise from the depths, too, even though, right now, I feel I might drown before reaching the surface.