Posted in Jakob DeJonghe, Travel, Writing

Happy birthday, Jaap (and A to Z Reflections Post)

With gratitude to Hashem, who gave me a gift and talent for writing from a very precocious age, and who wired my brain by Divine will, I announce the release of my Jakob’s story to coincide with his birthday. If he were real, he’d be 88 on May ninth.

Jakob Cover

I chose to lead with Jaap’s story because it got very strong feedback by the contests and other venues I entered it in, it got several behind the scenes agent requests, it’s relatively short (128,000 words is a drop in the bucket next to some of my other stuff!), it’s in the traditional past tense, and it’s much closer to third-person limited than I usually do.

I’m so glad for the chance to preview it by the different Kindle devices. Not only did it make me proud of what a whiz-bang job I did with the formatting all by myself, but it enabled me to catch a number of typos or mistakes that somehow were never caught during any of the previous rounds of editing. (For example, metric system characters referring to miles instead of kilometers.) It’s so true that reading something in a different typeface and/or format can bring to light things you never saw as errors. I powered through it by the Kindle previewer in two days. Knowing how to combine quick reading with a fine-toothed comb attention to detail is a gift.

I’m glad I got a recommendation for a cover artist who does actual art, instead of graphic design. Nothing wrong with photographic book covers, but I’m old-fashioned. Just be prepared for the fact that your mental image of your characters will probably never match how they appear on the cover, no matter who designs it. You have to trust your designer’s talent, vision, and judgment.

I quote from Chapter 31 of The Tao Te Ching at the beginning, which speaks of how a good soldier only uses weapons and kills when he has no choice, that delighting in victory is the same as delighting in killing, and that war must be conducted like a funeral. To avoid getting in trouble for copyright violation, I mixed and matched with a few old public domain translations, my belovèd Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English translation, and my own interpretations.

I just hope enough people like it, and that the final editing and release of Little Ragdoll next month go just as well. I already have a good feeling about that, since I got permission to quote the two George Harrison songs, for a very reasonable fee. It’s like George’s beautiful spirit is smiling down on a fellow dark horse.

A-to-Z Reflection [2014]

This was my third year taking part in the A to Z Challenge. I think I got more hits and comments this year since my theme wasn’t specific to my writing as in the past two years. It was probably a good idea to make it of more general interest to a wider group of people. Next year I’m going to do another theme only peripherally related to my writing, and scrap the theme I’d planned last year.

My posts, from most-popular to least-viewed (and not including my own comments in the total):

Jerusalem, Israel (59 views, 15 comments)
Abony, Hungary (49 views, 16 comments)
Béziers, France (47 views, 17 comments)
Dushanbe, Tajikistan (44 views, 14 comments)
Fereydunshahr, Iran (43 views, 17 comments)
Minsk, Belarus (41 views, 14 comments)
Eindhoven, The Netherlands (40 views, 14 comments)
Lille, France (39 views, 14 comments)
Cherkasy, Ukraine (39 views, 14 comments)
Queens. U.S.A. (37 views, 14 comments)
Hudiksvall, Sweden (35 views, 11 comments)
Tartu, Estonia, and Tata, Hungary (34 views, 9 comments)
Xanten, Germany, and Xánthi, Greece (34 views, 11 comments)
Zagreb, Croatia (33 views, 12 comments)
Isfahan, Iran (32 views, 10 comments)
Rosh HaNikra, Israel (31 views, 10 comments)
Yerevan, Armenia (31 views, 12 comments)
Nantes, France (30 views, 9 comments)
Vratsa, Bulgaria (28 views, 10 comments)
Winschoten, The Netherlands (28 views, 9 comments)
Uelen, Russia (26 views, 9 comments)
Kutaisi, Georgia (26 views, 9 comments)
Odžaci, Serbia (26 views, 11 comments)
Pirna, Germany (23 views, 10 comments)
Győr, Hungary (23 views, 10 comments)
Surabaya, Indonesia (22 views, 8 comments)

Of the 28 places profiled, 18 are European, 9 are Asian, and one is North American. France and Hungary were featured thrice, and Germany, Iran, Israel, and The Netherlands were featured twice. Seven were at one time part of the Russian Empire and later Soviet Union. Though Sagittarius is the Traveller of the Zodiac, at present I’ve only visited three (Jerusalem, Rosh HaNikra, and Queens). Baruch Hashem, I’ll be able to visit Iran within the next few years and add Isfahan and Fereydunshahr to my list!

As always, it was frustrating to find some blogs on the list which never started participating, only signed up to try to hawk some business, or which gave up before the end. I’m also always surprised at people who didn’t schedule their posts in advance. Having a theme and writing/scheduling posts in advance helps to avoid scrambling around desperately looking for ideas last-minute. It also gives me time to edit the posts while they’re still in the queue.

Many thanks to my uncle, of blessèd memory, who gave me the atlas I used for help in finding some of my cities, and which led me to a number of these other cities in the course of my writing. Yes, my atlas is so out of date it has a USSR, Yugoslavia, East and West Germany, North and South Yemen, and lots of old names of other places, but it was a gift from someone who’s no longer in this world. The inscription entreats me to use it for all my school studies, and I’ve kept using it well into adulthood. (The globe it came with fell apart long ago.) How many other people still make regular use of a gift they got at seven years old?

Author:

I started reading at three (my first book was Grimm's Fairy Tales, the uncensored adult version), started writing at four, started writing book-length things at eleven, and have been a writer ever since. I predominantly write historical fiction family sagas/series. I primarily write about young people, since I was a young person myself when I became a serious writer and didn't know how to write about adults as main characters. I only write in a contemporary setting if the books naturally go into the modern era over the course of the decades-long stories being told over many books. I've always been drawn to books, films, music, fashions, et al, from bygone eras, and have never really been too much into modern things. If something or someone has appeal for all time, it'll still be there to be discovered after the initial to-do has died down. For example, my second-favorite writer enjoyed a huge burst of popularity in the Sixties and Seventies, but he wrote his books from 1904-43, and his books still resonate today, even after he's no longer such a fad. Quality lasts for all time.

8 thoughts on “Happy birthday, Jaap (and A to Z Reflections Post)

  1. I’m always surprised when I find errors in my stories after my own editing rounds plus the rounds with my editor! But I suppose we could always find something to change, right?

    I was also irritated when I found people who didn’t even do A for the challenge or quit around letter E, or was a business.

    Happy Birthday. Jaap! 🙂

    Like

  2. Congrats on your book release!

    I did the A to Z challenged, focusing on fictional characters I created. However I stopped in the middle because I ran out of ideas, and because it got towards the end of the semester, and I had lots of school work to do. Now, for next year, I will take your advice and plan everything, ideas and pre-scheduled posts in advanced.

    Like

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