The Writing Newbie

Writing is an adventure. Enjoy the journey and write the way you love!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Just Keep Smiling -- AKA The Day from Hell

Yesterday for the first time in a long while, my father, mother, brother and I all had a day off and nothing planned. So we decided it would be fun to drive to Amsterdam and do some shopping, go out for dinner and see the special Christmas Lights all over the city.

You've read the title...

The day started off wrong. I woke up with a horrible pain in my right foot, so bad that I could hardly stand on it. I'd had this pain before a couple of weeks back and already resolved to go to the doctor once she was back from her Christmas holiday. To be honest, I hadn't expected it to come back so soon. I got ready and the pain subsided, so I thought I would be alright and we set out to Amsterdam.

Only... we had quite some trouble getting out of the house. We probably went back upstairs and back inside three or four times until we finally made it to the car. That was when we realized we had forgotten our navigation system and my brother had to hurry back inside to get it. Once we had everything and were good to go--we saw the tank was nearly empty. 

Looking back, we should probably have taken all this as a sign.

Our next bout of bad luck came when we reached the Ajax stadium where we always use the park & rail service. There was a line. With dread we realized that there was a Christmas circus in town, which probably explained all the traffic. We only hoped there wasn't a match on. 

When we finally reached the front of the line we were informed that the park and rail was closed today (it is NEVER closed!) and handed a leaflet with the orders to keep driving and try one of the other P&R's. 

We drove a while until we could find a spot to actually look at the leaflet. Which, of course, was in Spanish--very helpful. None of us speak Spanish but we could still read the map and made our way to the next P&R. We couldn't find it. After driving in circles and following crazy directions on our nav system, in between other confused drivers, we finally realized that the P&R didn't exist anymore. 

Getting frustrated, but trying to laugh everything off as something you'd find funny later, we started for the nearest P&R one that I had been to recently, so which should technically still be there.

Of course, so did everyone else.

There was a line. There were no spaces. It was already past two in the afternoon. 

We don't give up easily though, so we made our way to IKEA, knowing that they always have plenty of (free) parking spaces. IKEA, naturally, had a huge sale and it was incredibly busy. By some sort of mercy from a higher power, we found a spot and made our way to the nearest metro station.

Which is when I found out that, really, I wasn't fine and that I couldn't actually walk on my right foot anymore. Still, I didn't want to be the one ruin our day (aside from, you know, luck, fate and several bored lesser deities at least). So we made our way slowly to the train and bought our tickets.

Everything seemed to be a little better and we were actually on our way to the city centre of Amsterdam. What could possibly go wrong now?

We left the metro-train and just before it left, my mother realized that one of the footrests of her wheelchair was missing. My brother jumped back in the train to look for it, but it wasn't here. He jumped out just in time and the train left.

Guess where it was? 

That's right, on the train tracks. It had somehow magically managed to wriggle it's way free and fall through a gap that by rights shouldn't even be big enough for it to fall through. 

My brother then sprinted after a man with a yellow vest, already leaving the platform. He called in one of his colleagues who then waited with us, while we all waited for the rescue team.

Meanwhile about seven trains passed and each time we kept praying that the momentum of the trains wouldn't move the footrest and they wouldn't de-rail or something. 

The rescue team finally came, utterly amused and had to STOP TRAFFIC for us so that one of them could hop down and get the footrest. We thanked them and could finally go up above ground. I honestly wondered whether this wasn't all a sign that something horrible was about to happen if we set foot in Amsterdam. Maybe fate was actually trying to save our lives.

We still went, being the no-nonsense Dutch we are, and found our way to Dam Square. We were certain the worst was behind us and our luck would turn.

We went down Kalverstraat, which is the Amsterdam equivalent
 of Oxford Street, meaning it's a whooooole lot smaller and less interesting, but still the main shopping street. It was already late and we had about two and a half hours of shopping time left if we still wanted to eat at a relatively normal time.

We were about twenty meters in when suddenly there was a wall of people in front of us and a wall of people formed behind us and within seconds we were completely sandwiched in a huge body of people. Nobody moved. 

Now I study in Amsterdam and I walk through the Kalverstraat all the time. I've been there in Summer when it's filled to the brim with tourists. I have been there at Koninginnedag when there isn't a spot of non-orange left and you are just swept away with the crowd (search for Queensday or Koninginnedag Amsterdam on google and you'll see) and this has never, NEVER, happened to me before.

We were stuck. Instead of being logical and each taking one side of the road, our side didn't leave room for their side to pass, and the same thing was happening over to their side. SO NOBODY MOVED. and we couldn't even go back anymore. We were stuck.

I don't get claustrophobic that easily, but after a while (especially when they started pushing) I couldn't breathe. I held on to my brother but we had already lost our parents somewhere in the throng. Slowly we inched forward. After about twenty-freaking-minutes of trying to move forwards we reached a point where there was a small side-street where half of hte people was trying to get into, and the other half was still trying to go forward.

Not fun.

We finally broke free and from one moment to the next we could move again and the whole problem was gone. For us. Not for the poor suckers still stuck behind us.  

We laughed it off, me reminding the "horrible thing" I had thought would happen. If someone started to really panic in that mass of people, hysteria could have easily broken out and people could have gotten seriously injured.

Fortunately we were OK and most people se
emed more annoyed and bewildered than panicked. So we hurried on, my foot by now so bad I was more limping than walking.

Then, as crown on the cherry, we finally reached a store my mother has wanted to go to for ages and... of course.... it was closed.

We still managed to visit some bookstores though and see a few of the lights. By now I felt so tired and sore that I really wanted to go home so we made our slow way back down (fast lifts, apparently are science-fiction in public transport and large department-stores).

Here our luck finally turned. By rights we shouldn't have caught our Metro-train which was already on the platform when my mother and brother were still waiting for the lift. But it left late for some reason and we still managed to board it. Then we made our slow way to IKEA, just in time before the kitchen would close, ate delicious if slightly cold meatballs with fries and finally went back home. 

Right now my legs are sore, my foot still aches ... but yesterday surely was a day to remember and something to laugh about: The day luck was against us. 

I hope you all had a lovely week.

Keep Writing,


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Writing with Rain

The weather outside is already turning: rain is pattering against my window and yellowing leafs are dancing in the wind. It's hard to imagine it being anything other than autumn, never mind that only several days ago I was complaining about the heat, melting in my thin t-shirt and shorts. Welcome to the Netherlands! Where the seasons come and go within a week. It will probably be snowing soon.

Personally I don't really mind. Autumn is probably my favourite season of the year because if you ask me, it's by far the coziest one. Something about stormy weather outside, comfy warm clothes and cups of hot tea make me want to crawl behind my computer and just start writing away, or cuddle with a nice thick book and just spend the entire afternoon reading.

Recently I've given the editing process a well deserved rest and am focusing on a middle grade fantasy story about a young girl who just can't seem to get the hang of magic and keeps blowing everything up. 
In the few short periods that I can actually bring myself to write I am enjoying myself immensely. 

The last few months I've had a lot of things I had to deal with and come to term with all, in some way or another, keeping me from editing and writing. Resulting in me absolutely moping around the house, because if I haven't written in a while, I just get this horrible itch that I can't seem to scratch and I just want to get back to writing, even if my mind is to clouded and tired to allow me to.

For all those of you who share this problem of not writing as much as you would like, here is a site that a friend showed me:

It is filled with all kinds of adivce on writer's block, lack of inspiration, but also on different genres on specifics like how to begin a story or how to end it. All neatly here together on one page. 

Enjoy! I am going back to writing! I'm nearing the end of this story, which for me is always the most difficult part, but also very exciting!

Keep Writing!



Ps. How excited are YOU that there is going to be a new movie set in the Harry Potter world?!!! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Editing Demon

To say that I have not been active in most of my online accounts this past half year is a bit of an understatements. I have many, many reasons, all of them pretty dull or too personal to share here, so let’s just skip all that and say: I’m back! I missed you guys.

 Rest assured, just because I have not been active on my blog, does not mean that I let any other form of writing slip away from me as well. In fact I am quite proud of the amount of writing I still managed to get done during a rather tough school year.

Mostly I have been busy with editing a story that has been trapped inside my mind since I was thirteen years old, and only now seems to be coming onto the page, pretty close to what it looks like inside my head. And yes, finally, after hearing countless authors and a few friends of mine exclaim their joys of editing—with me just sitting there, shaking my head in disbelief—I now too, must say that at the very least I no longer consider editing to be the demon it once was.

In fact, I now no longer carry a sword, shield or any magical items to protect myself and slay the beast whenever the next dreaded “editing session” comes along. Now we wave and smile at each other like friends who are not yet completely comfortable together but enjoy each other’s company in the end.

I think what did it for me was the pure joy that came after days, weeks or even months of struggling with a particular passage without ever getting it right and knowing, in the back of my head that it was bringing my story down—and then having the illuminating blissful insight where everything just falls into place, and your fingers are a blur on the keyboard or you simply figure out once and for all that it has to go.

For me, it is reading the latest version and remembering my visions for the story and the (at times) utter crap that it turned into the first time I wrote it (can you imagine I actually send both my first and second draft to publishers and agents? Yikes) and see everything it is now.
Tell me what are your thoughts on editing?

Is anyone out here ignoring the sunny weather outside (haha joke, I live in the Netherlands, we have no sun here) and participating in Camp NaNoWriMo?  I am huddled around the campfire doing 30,000 words this month and … you guessed it, some more edits.

Keep Writing!

Xx Noortje  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Books Before Movies!

Hey everyone!

2013 proves to be a promising year for some amazing movies! I'm already counting days till I can see Star Trek 2 and the second Hobbit movie! ( I have seen The Hobbit twice already in Imax and would have seen it ... probably 50 times if it didn't cost so darn much money! Tolkien FTW!) 

Here is my list of books you should read before the movies (the ones I definitely want to see at least) come out!  :) It's not so much what the books are about (see Google lol) but what I think about them!

1. Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

This one will be in cinemas 14 Feb (in the Netherlands at least) and I haven't read it yet. In fact, due to a funny story I happen to own part 2 of the series but not the first one... A while back I wrote to a teen magazine in the UK who were looking for people to review books. I heard nothing back. Then suddenly! There it was! In the mail with a short handwritten note. A book before it was in the stores (yes I was very excited about this part) and.... it was a part two. I was broke and had no way to read the first part. I tried to read the first chapter but it just didn't feel right. SO as you might have guessed, my review sucked and I never heard from them again (there goes my short and not-so-glamorous magazine review career). 

Anyway the book still speaks to me and what I have read online seems very promising! I am certainly going to read it before the movie comes out (better hurry then).

2. OZ the great and Powerful 

I am really excited about this one! The trailer looked absolutely amazing. Obviously it is very loosely based on The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Although I own the novel, I don't think I have actually ever read it. it's one of those novels that I buy because it's a classic, and then come around to somewhere over the years (at least that's the plan). Something tells me that this is going to be one of those movies that will be great to watch in the cinema because the scenes are just so pretty! Not sure if I will read the book before going. But I might if i have time. 

3. The Host - Stephanie Meyer

It's been a while since I read this one, but I remember that I loved it a lot! I used to be a huge Twilight fan in my day and still have a special place for the first book, but the Host is completely different. I loved the idea of these glowing little aliens that could only live in an alien host. The book was witty, interesting and impossible to put down! And different from normal sci-fi alien books I've read. 

4. The Great Gatsby - F. Scot Fitzgerald 

Not completely sure if I'm going to see this movie in the theatres but am really curious to see what the director made of this. What I loved most about the novel was the way the language was used, the story itself, really, isn't all that spectacular compared to other stories out there, although it was still good. For me it was honestly the language that made the book great. 

5. City of Bones - Cassandra Clare 

I read this book a few years ago and can remember almost nothing, except that I liked it, that there were demons and some very interesting revelations. But because I can remember almost nothing (I read too many books I think) I just decided to read it again and then finish the whole series while I'm at it (she says like she actually has this thing called "free time"). 

6. Catching fire Suzanne Collins

Really looking forward to this one. I loved reading all the books as horrible (in a good way) as they were. And I am really looking forward to see who they cast as whom (I usually don't check in front. Want to see them for the first time on the screen). And curious to see how they will deal with the more gruesome stuff coming up in part 2 and 3!
Funnily enough the books had no appeal to me at all when I first saw them. But everyone kept talking about them so I bought part 3 for 50 pence at a book store that was closing its doors (I must have bought about 50 books there. Not exaggerating. I was one of their last costumers when they had only 5 books left and started asking only 50p for a hardcover and 25p for a paperback). Then I (illegally, sorry) downloaded part 1 to see if I would even liked it. Got hooked. Read it in one afternoon, rushed into town and immediately bought them both! 

7. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - (The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien)

Only one book unfortunately, not three. Loved the first movie. The trick is to NOT compare it as much to LOTR. But I loved all the little tributes they made for the fans anyway and have watched LOTR so many times (incl. the extra's, extended version, non extended, with commentary of EVERYONE) that I know it better than the back of my hand. But still managed to separate the Hobbit as much as possible and read the book for the second time before going to the movies. If you haven't read it yet, I strongly recommend it! It's hilarious!

And then you have Jack the Giant Slayer, Oblivion, Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2, The Man of Steel and the Lone Ranger to only name a few that I want to see  .... my wallet is going to hate me.

How about you guys? Do you need to read the book first or are movies better? Do you guys ever read books AFTER seeing the movie (I have with various ways how liking/hating it).

Keep Writing!
Xx Noortje 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Book Review: Between

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you’ll all have a happy and healthy 2013! J May this be a good year for writing!

But for now it is time for another book review!

Between, the debut novel of Kerry Schafer, is definitely one of the most interesting fantasy books I have read in a long while—in a very good way.
As someone who loves readying fantasy I know the genre pretty well and I have never come across something quite like this. The story was compelling, surprising, rather horrifying and positively gruesome at times and lots of fun to read.
Dragons, dreams, princes, evil Queens, magic, warriors—Between has it all. The story stars with our heroin, Vivian who is working a shift at the E.R. when a teenage boy is brought in with severe burn wounds that Vivian immediately recognizes as having come from a dragon.  Here is where the pretty disgusting bit starts (for the faint hearted, do not worry. Between isn’t a gory book. It just has it’s moments. They fit the story well and it’s just a book. You’ll probably be OK haha :p)--but disguisting because the boy's skin just melts away.

Normally I wouldn’t think twice about these kind of moments but they were written so vividly—as was the entire book—that I couldn’t help but see everything that happened to Vivian very clearly and realistically in my mind. I love it when a book just grabs you right out of your seat and drags you into a world of wonder, and this is definitely that kind of book.

There was one character in the book that I, when I first read about him, viewed as weird and negative (because it stood out and didn’t seem to fit) but he very soon melted my heart and I started to love the little guy: Poe, a penguin—yep you heard me. Penguin. The cutest, smartest, bravest little penguin I have ever read about (although to be fair I haven’t read that many books with penguins in them. Still.)
Another character, Zee, I couldn't resist: a painter and bookshop owner by day and a warrior in his dreams at night.
Did I also mention that this book is filled with dragons? Not the cute be-my-best-friend-and-we-will-ride-the-skies-together kind of dragon that you find in a lot of books these days, but old-fashioned really nasty I’ll-bite-your-head-off-and-toast-you-for-dinner kind of dragons.

Other than that I have to say that I really like the humour, eventually had to laugh real hard about the fact that Vivian seems to spend about 20% of the book completely naked and found the whole Wakeworld / Dreamworld / Between was very interesting and I loved reading all about it and how Vivian handles the fact that these worlds exists and that she can movie between them.

In short a book that I would definitely recommend, especially if you are interested in dreams, penguins or just want something different for a change.

Between will be in stores 29 January and I suggest you go check it out!
Go to for more information! :)
I will try to make these book reviews a weekly or at least a twice a month thing! I hope you like them!
And also this year:

Keep Writing!
Xx Noortje