Jen Minkman - YA Paranormal and Dystopian Author: 2013

zondag 3 november 2013

December Giveaway!

Come one, come all! Grab copies of these cool Fantasy & Romance books for just 99 cents (from Dec 4th till 7th), and enter the Rafflecopter below to win even more awesome prizes :)













a Rafflecopter giveaway

zondag 6 oktober 2013

I broke my own rule! I wrote a sequel...

... but admittedly, The Island (my dystopian novella) was too short to really delve into the world of Leia and Walt. Writing a 20,000 novella seemed like a nice challenge at the time, but as it turns out, I need more words. So, without further ado, I present to you: the second installment in my Island series. It's called The Waves and it is a whopping 35,000 words (not bad for a novella)!

dinsdag 17 september 2013

A trip to a world I have dreamed and written about

Every writer knows that it is best to write what you know. And yet, I ignored that pearl of sacred wisdom when I started work on my first full novel Shadow of Time three years ago, because I decided to set it on the Navajo Reservation - a place I had never visited.

A Carefully Planned Road Trip
My husband and I saved up for a full year before setting out for the US West Coast. My main goal during our road trip was to make it to Navajo Nation. I'd written about Antelope Canyon, the town of Page, Lake Powell, Lone Rock Beach, Canyon de Chelly, as well as a couple of villages that didn't even really exist. The villages of St Mary's Port and Naabi'aani were invented by me; however, I knew exactly where they were supposed to be on the map.

Time For Some Visuals!
People who've already read the book know that St Mary's Port is close to the beach of Lake Powell, between Page and Wahweap. The actual place is completely empty, but there's plenty of space to build a village, in my humble opinion! :)

In 'Shadow of Time', the two main characters go on their first date in this slot canyon: Antelope Canyon. I used a picture of this canyon on the first English edition of the book, and Antelope Canyon is still on the front cover of the Dutch and Chinese edition. Visiting this place and being able to get in there before the hordes of tourists showed up was truly majestic.

In Chapter 1, Hannah runs into Josh at a gas station without realizing it's him (she knew him as a young boy). I imagined the station to be next to South Lake Powell Boulevard, but alas, there was no gas station... however, there is a square spot of soil that LOOKS like they're going to build something there, so there might be one in the future!

A pivotal moment in the book comes when Josh tells Hannah his secret. They are sitting right here, on Lone Rock Beach, when he tells her his story.

For the historical flashbacks in the book, I used the location of Canyon de Chelly. This is what the canyon looked like at seven o'clock in the morning, just as the sun was rising. Visiting this place was one of the highlights of the vacation for me.

And this is Spider Rock. In the book, Hannah keeps having nightmares about the rock plateau overlooking this part of the canyon. Why? If you haven't read Shadow of Time yet, I suggest you do! :)

woensdag 29 mei 2013

The Island - prologue

WHEN I step out of my bedroom door, mother and father are waiting for me in the hallway.
The clothes I’m wearing feel uncomfortable. They’re grown-up clothes: rough-textured and of practical cut. Made to last for a long time.
“I go my own way,” I say softly. The words that every child utters at age ten – the words my brother will say after me today – don’t sound as if I’m sure of them. But I am, because I know this is right. I clear my throat and speak up. “I stand on my own two feet. No one takes care of me but me.”
Father nods solemnly. Mother looks pale and is staring down at her hands. Why won’t she look at me? Is this her way of saying she wants nothing more to do with me? I haven’t even moved out yet. Dull disappointment grows in my stomach like a heavy brick.
The door next to mine swings open, and Colin steps over the threshold. My twin brother. He’s wearing brown pants and a simple shirt. Slung across his shoulder is a bag containing a few possessions he doesn’t want to leave behind. Almost all of our things will be destroyed after our departure, our rooms cleared, so we won’t ever be tempted to return. Not that I would want to. I’m done here.
Colin coughs. “I go my own way,” he says with a quiver in his voice. His eyes search our mother’s. “I stand on my own two feet.” A tear rolls down his cheek. He’s having a hard time with this. Oh well – he’s the youngest, after all. There’s a half hour between us.
“No one takes care of you but you,” father finishes the speech, when Colin can’t go on.
When I pass my mother, she suddenly puts a hand on my shoulder. “Leia,” she says, pulling a simple bead necklace from her dress pocket. It has a painted and glazed walnut for a pendant. “For you.”
My heart skips a beat. That’s the necklace my mother got from her mother when she moved out. And now she’s giving it to me.
“Thanks,” I whisper. Just for a moment, I imagine her giving me so much more than this. I feel this can’t be the end, but just then my father pushes open the front door for us. I walk out after my brother, into the early daylight, away from my mother.
Colin is waiting for me and grabs my hand. “You coming?” he mumbles.
We walk down the path without looking back. We’re going to the manor, where we will live until we get married and have children ourselves.
The front door slams shut. A new life has begun.

The novella will be out in Kindle & paperback format in two days' time!

maandag 27 mei 2013

Nothing below 4 stars... really?

Some of you may not be aware of this, but in order to be allowed to promote your book on big sites like EReader News Today, BookBub and Pixel of Ink, you have to have an average of 4 stars and at least 20 reviews on Amazon. Anything below 4 stars is rejected. A lot of authors with books that don't appeal to the masses but have a smaller target audience will never be accepted on those big sites. But how fair is the 4-star rule?

When I look at some Goodreads rating for absolute classics, I have to come to the sad conclusion that many famous books would be rejected by the big book sites too:

* The Great Gatsby : 3.79 average
* Great Expectations: 3.69 average
* Romeo and Juliet: 3.72 average (in fact, most of Shakespeare's plays wouldn't make the grade)
* The Scarlet Letter: 3.30 average.

I could go on all night, but I think it should be clear that a 4-star rating shouldn't be the main thing those book promotors look at. Or is Goodreads just a particularly harsh site?

vrijdag 10 mei 2013

Shadow of Time - Take One, Two and Three

... and this is how the cover for Shadow of Time has evolved from December till now! The first two covers were done by me and the third cover was designed by the insanely talented Clarissa Yeo. WHat do you guys think??

donderdag 9 mei 2013

Hard choices...

When I first published Shadow of Time, it had a self-made cover that isn't too bad and has a lot to do with the storyline. Many people liked the colors, but some had issues with the font, so I changed that a few weeks ago. However, the font wasn't the only thing readers had issues with - they liked the cover, but they didn't think it suited the target audience very well. Only AFTER reading the book did they think the cover matched the story. Now I'm the last one to recommend judging a book by its cover, but if truth be told, I do it too, albeit subconsciously. When I browse pages on Amazon, I frequently click on covers of books that look like 'generic' YA Paranormal books or YA Dystopian books, because I know what to expect. I'm all for originality (in fact, when I wrote Shadow of Time I was already determined I wouldn't get a book cover that looked like a dime a dozen) but maybe the originality should be in my writing and not in my cover art. So... I commissioned a cover artist I've worked with before (on a book cover for a book I still have to write, mind you < nothing like planning ahead) and told her what kind of book this was and what kind of message I wanted to convey while drawing in potential YA and NA readers. If all goes well, Shadow of Time will have a new & shiny 'face' before I run another promotional blog tour in the first week of June (coinciding with my next release, 'The Island'). I'll keep you posted!

maandag 29 april 2013

Poetry sells!

... at least, when you're selling some other stuff, too. I always hear authors talk about how having a lot of books for sale out there helps to sort of 'cross-pollinate' your sales: once a reader likes one of your books, they tend to buy more books written by you. Unfortunately, Shadow of Time is currently the only YA Paranormal novel I have on Amazon. More will follow, but not until December 2013, so no cross-pollination there.

Imagine my surprise when I suddenly saw a small spike in sales of my poetry chapbook 'Songlines'! (and by small I mean, from zero to 4 sales a month :) Heck, someone even BORROWED it - in the Kindle Owners Lending Library, you're entitled to borrow one free book a month, and someone chose my chapbook. Unfathomable.

I can't wait to see what happens when I actually DO publish books in a similar genre. My next gig will be a YA Dystopian Novella called The Island - available from June 1st onward. Not exactly the same genre, but at least it's YA. I'll keep you posted!

zondag 28 april 2013

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vrijdag 5 april 2013

Kindle Books & Tips features seven discounted & free Kindle books today, including mine :) Go check it out here!

donderdag 4 april 2013

Thanks to Irma Geddon for tagging me on this blog hop! Her blog can be found here: >

1: What is the working title of your book?
The Boy From the Woods. Actually, that was the very first thing I came up with. I started writing the story with that title in mind.
2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
Strangely enough, watching the story 'Ondine' (with Colin Farrell) inspired me, even though there is absolutely NO reference to mermaids of any kind in the story.
3: What genre does your book come under?
It is a contemporary romance with paranormal elements and a little bit of mystery.
4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Tough one! I think I would choose Cassie Blackwell from 'The Secret Circle' as the female lead, Julia, and Mick St. John from 'Moonlight' as the male lead, Michael. But they should both be younger, about 18 years old :)
5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Girl gets dumped by her major crush, but boy suddenly wants her back after having a brush with death... and he seems to have really changed. Can he win back her heart? (< okay, that's two sentences, sorry!)
6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
It will be published by an independent publisher in Holland (because the book was originally written in Dutch) and will be self-published in English everywhere else. Same with my first paranormal romance 'Shadow of Time' which is already out on Amazon.
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A few months. After that, I was so busy promoting my other books in Holland that I let it be for a while and then came back to it after half a year to have a fresh look at it.
8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I don't think there are any, but if I had to name one, I would choose 'The Tricksters' by Margaret Mahy. 
9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I guess my many walks in the forest with my late grandmother made me love the woods so much that I wanted to write a story about it.
10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It will actually be one of the very first trade-published YA paranormal romance novel in Dutch. In my own country, most publishers buy the rights to bestselling foreign novels in this genre, which unfortunately puts us Dutch nationals at a disadvantage. I am therefore very proud I persevered and made sure it would get published here in the Netherlands.

maandag 25 maart 2013

Four books down and many more to go

Yippie! Today I officially finished work on my fourth book in Dutch. I ordered proof copies from CreateSpace so I can give my proofreaders a proper book to read (gone are the days where I printed everything myself and went to a copy-shop to have it bound). The title in Dutch is 'Het Laatste Licht' and the title in English will be 'The Space In Between' (not a literal translation, this one... it just didn't work well).
This means I have time available to try my hand at some short stories for writing contests as well as translating my third book into English... Stay tuned!

donderdag 14 maart 2013

I'm happy to announce that Shadow of Time is now available in other formats than just Kindle. Smashwords now stocks the book in ePub, Mobi, PDF and RTF format as well as .txt and .html for people who have no e-reader but still want to have a look :)

Click here to have a look and if you use the following coupon code: LQ67H , you can grab a copy for just $1 !
(warning: coupon is valid until March 21st)

dinsdag 29 januari 2013

Addicted to designing book covers!

At the moment, I am busy writing my fourth novel in Dutch and translating my third novel into English. All this work on my new books got me inspired to design new book covers (I already had some stuff on my laptop, but suddenly they didn't look cool enough) by searching high and low (well, actually just on iStock) for beautiful photos that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg to acquire royalty rights. Of course, publishing my full book covers here would kind of ruin the chance of having a cover reveal across multiple blogs later on, so I've decided to just post a bit of both covers so you'll get a feel of what the books are going to look like. Voila!