Stormy Novels is live!

After working hard for the past two weeks on Stormy Novels I’m happy to go live today! In the future I want to add even more functionality like integrating my WordPress blog and adding mailing list, but overall I’m very excited about the website. I lacked a central place where I can combine all  my information and it’s great to have my own website.

To celebrate this event I’m  giving a 50% discount on my novels A Little Help and Forbidden Love at Smashwords for the next two weeks! To make use of this discount you can use coupon code JU55M for A Little Help and coupon code RE88S for Forbidden Love. I’m going to take the rest of the night off and do tomorrow again what I do best; writing. It’s been a while since I got to work on Stranded, which will be my next title.

I’ve also written a short story (approximately 9k words) for Elliquiy titled Apocalypse Rising, but I’m not sure yet when that will be published in their anthology. The story is about a modern fantasy world, which is something which I didn’t write about before, and where I give a new twist to the use of magic in our everyday world. The writing process for that story was a lot of fun. In fact, it was so much fun that it gave me enough ideas to write an entire series based on that short story. My current plan is to finish Stranded first (which might also be the first of a series) and then work on my modern fantasy series.

In short, you can expect to see a lot more from me in the future.

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Stormy Novels

I’ve started development on stormynovels.com! I’m looking forward to sharing more information about myself and my novels with the rest of the world. Considering my lack of experience with website building it’ll probably be quite the challenge, especially since it’s been about ten years since I did anything with website development, but I’m guessing it’ll also be a lot of fun. In the future I hope to publish regular updates here.

At the start of April I have a week vacation and I hope to continue with my novel ‘Stranded’. At the moment Stranded is just the work title and still subject to change, but it sums the story up quite well, so I might even keep that title or make it part of the final title. The story itself is based on a dream I had over a year ago. Most of the times my dreams are easily forgotten, but this one was so inspiring that I wrote it down for future reference. During my Christmas break last year I encountered my ideas again, and started writing. It wasn’t long before I had seventy-five pages done, however, one of my editors recommended that I take another look at the number of cast members, which at the time already numbered more than twenty. During my next vacation I hope to get a lot of rewriting done in the first chapters and simplify the story, so that it’s easier to follow the main characters without drowning into a lot of background information.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope everybody has a fun Valentine’s Day this year and receives a lot of cards, or otherwise has a special time with their loved ones.

For me romance has always been an important part of my life, and as a result a big influence with the stories I write. Back in high school we had an assignment in the final year for Dutch to pick a theme for six novels that we had to read, and then give a comparison between the novels and how the plots evolved.

I selected ‘Romantic stories with a dramatic ending’, and read several Dutch classics as well as several modern stories. I really loved the assignment and did a lot more than I was supposed to do. When I finally gave my presentation to the teacher I ended up scoring a 9, which is comparable to an A in American classes. It was the highest grade I ever scored for Dutch, and when I think back of it, I think that my love for writing started with those assignments, even if I didn’t realize it back then.

I’ve only been writing for three years now, but the novels I read back then still have their impact on my writing today. Love and drama go hand-in-hand for a good story, or better said, for a realistic love affair. The typical fairytale romance, though cute, is far from realistic and in real life people often go through various difficult times. The beauty of those difficult times is that it can really strengthen a bond between partners, but at the same time there is the ugly side where it can break their relationship.

Another big inspiration for my romance novels are my grandparents. They were married for almost sixty-one years when my grandmother died, and still very much in love even though they were eighty-nine years old. They were a rare example of how true love lasts and persists, even when my grandmother got Alzheimer and had a lot of trouble to remember things. It was amazing to see how they acted with each other when she was still alive. To give an example, my grandmother would still tug my grandfather into bed every evening, despite her own advanced age.

I know that if I only get half of such a love life that I’ll be a very happy man.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day and due to the special meaning that romance has for me, I’m giving a 50% discount on my romance novel A Little Help. When you use coupon code EA37G you get the discount immediately. This offer expires on February 16 though.

I hope you all have a great and romantic day!

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Parenthood stories

Last week a new website went online, www.parenthoodstories.com. To start off their website they organized a contest in which authors were challenged to write a story between 400 – 4000 words, with a mother as the central character.

Unfortunately, my entry didn’t win, but I was happy to learn that it was well received by the jury. I enjoyed writing my story a lot, and although I don’t have children of my own yet, I find the mission of this website very important.
Promoting good parenthood will hopefully help children all over the world. Right now it’s too early to tell how much of an impact this website will have, but I like the idea that I contributed at least a little bit to that.

I value every child as a precious life that deserves to be protected and nurtured. No matter how small the overall contributions of this website might be, I consider it a big win for children worldwide.

I may live in a First World country where children are supported in their basic needs, but there are many countries where this is not the case. On top of that, child abuse also happens in my own country, and it breaks my heart to see innocent children abused, twisting their personalities into something ugly, that, in time, will only cause the cycle to repeat itself.

My entry, ‘Learning to let go’, revolves around a young mother with an autistic son, and the challenges she faces in life. Raising children is difficult enough as it is, but raising a child with a physical or mental handicap is even more difficult. My story centers around a mother who needs to bring her son to kindergarten for the first time in his life.

You can find my entry on this link, the other entries are available here.

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Forbidden Love is published!

Wow, what an adventure it’s been these last few months. Progress on Forbidden Love was going slow but steady. That is, until I had a two week vacation three weeks ago. Until that point I had rewritten about a third of the novel, and I managed to rewrite the rest in just two weeks. Last week I finished the final details and now the novel is published on Smashwords. Some of the chapters doubled in size, while others tripled, or even quadrupled. Most of the original story was left in tact, but I made a couple of changes to the end. I won’t tell anything more though, you can check it out for yourself, since the novel is available for free the coming months!

To celebrate this publication, I also decided to give a 25% discount on A Little Help. If you visit Smashwords and use coupon code WM43C, then you’ll get an instant discount. This discount doesn’t work with the other retailers, however, and the offer expires in February.

I also wrote a synopsis of Forbidden Love, feel free to leave your comments and critique. I love reading feedback from readers, be it either good or bad.

Forbidden Love

Alice Evans doesn’t like her life. She teaches math to rebellious and obnoxious teenagers, who derive a great sense of pleasure out of making her life a living hell. She hardly has any friends in her new city, and her family doesn’t live close by either. One Friday afternoon, just after school, everything seems to go wrong. She had a tough week at work, feels very stressed, and the pouring rain outside is even worse than an April shower. This by itself wouldn’t be so terrible, if she didn’t also have to buy groceries, and if she hadn’t forgotten to bring her umbrella…

She purchases her groceries and takes them outside in a cardboard box to store them in her car, but as she suspected, it doesn’t take the rain long to soak her to the bone. In her haste to get back to the car, she trips in a hole on the parking lot. Alice drops the box in her fall, strewing all of her groceries around the parking lot. Because of her fall, she also breaks the heel of her shoe, and tears her skirt. Overall, she feels extremely miserable.

However, when she least expects it, a young man steps in and offers to assist her. He isn’t just any man, since Alice recognizes him as John Richards, one of her better students. He offers to help her out and even drives her home, after which he helps her with her groceries. Since Alice’s ankle hurts a lot, John offers to help her out the next day as well. He’s one of the kindest people she knows, and she accepts his help, agreeing to meet him again the next day.

Alice now faces a new dilemma. She realizes that John is her student, and she recognizes the type of a slippery slope she’s on if she accepts his friendship. If by some chance that friendship turns into something more, then she will face the very likely chance of violating one or even multiple laws. John might be eighteen years old, but the state they live in forbids an affair between a teacher and her student, no matter what their age is.

Alice must now face the difficult decision of choosing between two evils; conform to what is right, or do what feels right, despite the possible consequences. Will John be able to win her heart, or will Alice’s conscience and the law, keep them from being together?

In the Afterword I left more details behind what inspired me to write the story. With this story I hope to provide an insight in how an affair between a student and a teacher can develop.

Enjoy the read!

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Editing ‘A Forbidden Love’ what one-and-a-half years of experience can do.

Two-and-a-half weeks ago I published A Little Help and it’s been a great adventure so far. Publishing a novel made me hungry to get more of my novels published. Since it’s easier to edit and revisit a previously written story, I thought it would be a fun and useful project to touch up my first completed novel. Once it’s done the new version will be published both on Smashwords.com for free.

‘A Forbidden Love’ is a novel about the many newspaper articles which involve teachers who get caught having sex with their student(s). The subject intrigued me, because those women must know what is at stake, and I wanted to explore how such a relationship came to be. As a result I wrote a short novel of about 55k words, and in this post I want to share some of the details that go into editing this story.

The preview is the first paragraphs of chapter 1 and I want to show how ones skill can improve in just one-and-a-half year, when you really commit yourself to it. Between now and then I’ve written hundreds of pages, read dozens of stories, studied grammar, writing techniques, and in general I practiced a lot on role playing sites. A lot of my readers have also been very generous with their feedback, and that aided me greatly at improving myself as well.

I want to share the new introduction to the story with all of you, and let you judge for yourself if it got any better.

THE OLD INTRODUCTION:

It was Friday midday, 4 p.m. Alice let out a deep sigh, she had a tough week and she was glad that she was finally off work. As a math teacher she was responsible for teaching the sixteen to eighteen year olds the basics about mathematics at a high school, in a suburb in the United States.

Unfortunately most of her students seemed more interested in having fun and trashing the classroom than actually learning something. There were a couple of exceptions and usually the boys were worse then the girls, however, teaching classes was slowly but surely turning into a living hell for her.

Alice was twenty-six years old and having finished college at the age of twenty-two she only had four years of experience with standing in front of a class. She was great at explaining new subjects and getting the points across, however, maintaining order wasn’t one of her strongest points.

THE NEW INTRODUCTION:

With every passing second, the clock made a soft ticking noise. When the large clock hand finally hit the twelve, while the small clock hand was at the four, the school bell rang insistently; heralding the end of the class, and the start of the weekend.

Students made a hasty retreat from the classroom, leaving their teacher, Miss Evans, behind, as she yelled, “Remember class, I want you to study pages 214 to 221. There will be a test next week!”

Several of her students grumbled unintelligible words, while a couple of them gave her a dirty look. One even voiced his protest with a loud curse, but left in a hurry as Alice glared at him through the slits of her eyes.

After the last student had left the room, she let her shoulders drop, while a deep sigh escaped from her lips. She closed her eyes for a moment, and rubbed her temples with her fingers. She had endured a tough week, and she was glad to that she could finally go home and relax. As a math teacher, she was responsible for teaching the sixteen to eighteen-year-olds advanced mathematics at a high school, in a suburb in the United States.

It was unfortunate that most of her students seemed more interested in having fun and trashing the classroom, than actually learning something. There were a couple exceptions, and usually the boys were worse than the girls, but either way, teaching classes was turning into a living hell for her.

Miss Evans, or Alice, had only four years of work experience. She had finished college at the age of twenty-two, and after she had graduated and had enjoyed a well-deserved vacation, she had accepted a job at a local high school. Explaining new subjects and getting the points across was easy to her, but maintaining order in an unruly class was like herding cats; a pointless exercise that only resulted in a lot of frustration.

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It’s the same text really, but so much more is happening now! I hope to create a lot more immersion with the new version and show Alice’s frustration, rather than tell about it. If I can touch up the entire story like the new introduction, then it’ll probably create a much better reading experience.

It also makes a great practice for my next big project, which will likely be a science fiction series. In the past I never quite understood what was meant with showing vs. telling, but since then I’ve come to understand that it’s okay to tell parts of the story, as long as an emphasis should is put on showing what’s happening with the important parts of the story.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the revision and feel free to contact me if you have any comments or questions.

Jasper Storm

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The ‘Blank page method’ helps you through a writer’s block.

Hello everybody!

I thought that a fun way to introduce myself would be by giving a useful tip, that helps you deal with the well known beast we all fear so much; a writer’s block.

First a little something about myself; I am Jasper Storm, author at Smashwords.com and I thought it would be fun to start a blog about the things that keep me busy. I expect that most of this will be related to writing, but in the future I’ll likely also include my thoughts about ongoing issues in society in general.

Enough about me for now, and let’s talk about writer’s blocks. Those who enjoy writing any sort of literature, from fiction to nonfiction, probably got stuck at one time or another. There are a lot of useful tips already available online, but the writer’s block that bugged me for eight months couldn’t be beaten into submission until I thought of a trick that turned out to be very easy, yet also extremely effective.

The problem I was dealing with, was that I wanted to write a chapter for a story that had to fit between two existing chapters, however, I couldn’t figure out what I should put in there. I had a vague idea and I knew that I wanted to add roughly three pages to my novel, but for some reason I just couldn’t get it done.

I once read something along the lines of, “There is nothing more inspiring than a blank page, since your story can then go in any direction. It allows you complete freedom since it doesn’t need to conform to what was already written.” and that line got me thinking.

It made sense that a blank page would help you focus on that what you really want to write, so I created a new document and scribbled down four lines that contained a rough idea of what I wanted to write about. It turned out that the blank page indeed allowed the creative juices to flow free again, and that in turn caused me not to write the three pages I had intended, but a full six pages that had some really lovely dialogues as well!

In the end it turned out that subconsciously I kept what was previously written in mind as well, and after I was done with my additional chapter I could simply copy/ paste it in my novel. I still had to make some minimal changes at the start and the end, but after that I was pretty much done already. A writer’s block of eight months was cleared in half a day of writing and I had a lot of fun while doing it.

Since then I’ve dubbed this method the ‘Blank page method’ and I now deploy it every time I get stuck in a story.

It’s only a small tip, but next time you find yourself staring at your screen, not knowing what to write; you might want to remember this tip, and do what I did; create a new document and forget about what you already wrote for a minute. I found that there really is nothing more inspiring than a blank page!

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