Fear of Water

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I’ve been drawing all my life and drawing comics most of my life. My stories are often born on the quirky oddities of everyday life, something funny or weird.

Fear of Water by Susan Wilander

Fear of Water came from the very uncomfortable feeling I’ve so often had swimming in the sea or a lake where the bottom is invisible. Although my reason tells me there’s nothing to worry, the monsters of the imagination create a force that seems to drag me under the surface…

Fear of Water under the surface by Susan Wilander

In Fear of Water this experience comes to a creature, who’s supposed to be at home in even the murkiest of waters. And the question really is, whether it is any safer on the dry land for him?

Fear of Water fish by Susan Wilander

This is my first Kindle e-comic. It was a pleasant surprise to create the e-comic with Kindle Comic Creator. It is easy to use and it offers plenty of options on how to build the e-comic. Fear of Water is available at Amazon.

Susan

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Want to Publish Books from Finland? You’re in for a Treat!

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Finnish literature is taking a big step forward in the international publishing scene. There are several new authors, who’ve signed plenty of foreign rights deals, even movie options have been sold to Hollywood. This is quite an achievement from such a small language and such a different publishing market from many other countries.

Finnish Literature and Agents by Read, Write and Publish

FILI helps foreign publishers

Behind every successful author, there’s a determined agent and publisher. But that’s not all. Besides excellent literature, the new Finnish success has benefited from the back up of the Finnish Literature Exchange (FILI), an export organization awarding grants to more than 300 different projects every year totalling in 600 000 euros. Typically these grants go to translation and publishing costs of foreign prints of Finnish books. If you’re considering to translate and publish a Finnish book, check with FILI – they might give you a grant!

Our Dear Neighbours Again!

Despite the recent surge of Finnish literature out to the world, we’re still far behind our neighbours in the west. As the Finnish literature exports was valued to appr. 2,3 million euros in 2015, the Swedish exports were in the region of 15 million euros already in the 2010. The Swedes have been rolling on the crime wave, but the Finns have found the YA fiction boom. Such authors as Salla Simukka (Snow White Trilogy) are paving the way for a new kind of northern literature.

The authors need help in telling the world about their books. Finland has long been a lonely wolf in the world filled with literary agents – there hasn’t been any. In the domestic markets Finnish authors can still send in their unsolicited manuscripts to all publishers. Traditionally foreign rights sales have been taken care of by the publishing houses, but now there are a few independent literary agents working in the field. This market is still very small as is evident from the value of the exports.

New Agents Wanted

However, potential is there. FILI arranged yesterday a seminar to plant the seeds of a new literary agent career into the minds of interested participants. While the Swedes are talking about hundreds of titles being exported every year, the Finns still move in dozens. More agents are needed to bring the market on the level it deserves.

Besides the fiction, non-fiction could prove an interesting field in this perspective. Non-fiction books are seldom translated from Finnish into other languages (while the opposite is very common). Publishers outside Finland are happy to take in good ideas for non-fiction titles, but produce them later on by themselves. This can be prevented by offering content that cannot be reproduced by anyone other than the original author.

Susan

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ABC of the Perfect Article

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The story of all stories, the one that will give you the Pulitzer prize? Or just make an editor buy your idea? Get the ABC of the perfect article.

ABC of the Perfect Article

A – Amazing Idea

It’s as simple as that. A perfect story begins with a perfect idea. Anything less of amazing is not acceptable. Because, if you don’t love it, why would anybody else? An amazing idea will also help you in your work. It will naturally lend the form for the story and it makes it easy to write the article. An amazing idea answers the question How? instead of What? If you can put your idea in one sentence, you’re very close to perfection – you’ve distilled the essential.

B – Bad Idea

You know the idea is not quite what it should be, but what part of it is lacking? A somewhat less perfect idea is not current, there’s no style or clear narrator in it. This often results from a freelancer trying to sell the same piece of writing to too many channels without customizing it.

The idea must resonate with the reader. And if you are a freelancer selling articles, your first reader to please is the editor of the publication you’re targeting.

C – Clarity is everything

A good story has a clear style, there’s no ambiguity of whose voice it is we’re listening to, the focus is well-defined and the article gives an answer to one main question.

Easy to say, harder to accomplish

So, how do you get this perfect, amazing idea and article? It all begins with planning. Make a list of sources to get ideas: friends, social media, sports group, small ads on a notice board – an amazing idea can come to you anywhere, but most likely somewhere else than your desk. Be active!

When you have the idea, figure out the perfect focus and scope for your article. It is possible to make an interesting story about almost anything when you choose the right angle. Think out of the box!

Plan the structure of the article before you launch for the materials. What do you need for the story? Research? Interviews? Graphics?

When you have your materials, decide which elements work best in which part of the story. Make a skeleton of your article with the subtitles. This helps you find out if you need to rearrange the elements or whether the story is not flowing, even before writing it.

Decide the beginning and the end first. Then you know what you’ll need for the middle. The beginning is often the cutting point for a reader: to continue or not to continue. Thus, the beginning must wake up your reader, make him intrigued. The beginning also tells to the reader what to expect: what is the style, genre, topic… These promises must be redeemed in the article.

If you have time, let the article rest awhile before making the final polishes. You’ll then have fresh eyes to contemplate whether you’ve accomplish what you wanted. Another option is to have a second opinion. Get someone else read the article and comment it.

Susan

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Want a Well-Educated Nation? Copy the Finnish Public Library System!

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How come a tiny country in the Northern Europe has managed to produce so well-educated citizens with such high literacy rate? The education system has its advantages, but I’d say there’s one more secret weapon, which is too often underrated even in Finland: the Finnish Public Library System.

What Would I Do without Them?

I am in great debt to libraries. Most of the books I review in my blog are borrowed from the library. I checked my “loaning history” – the list of books I’ve borrowed presented in my virtual library account – and during the past 6 months I’ve borrowed around 100 books. Most of them to read myself, some for my kids – who of course have their own library cards too. Kids usually get their library card at preschool age, when they start to read by themselves.

When I was at elementary school we had a library practically next door to our house. I used to visit it almost daily (and often with my dog, who sat with the library ladies receiving a whole lot of patting) and borrow as many books as I could carry. Oh those wonderful afternoons after school, when I had a batch of The Famous Five in my hands and I could throw myself on the bed and devour them all at once…

Secret Weapon: Library

 

Libraries: Books for Free

Let’s get to the beef of the matter – libraries. Finland has a nationwide public library system, which guarantees books are available all around the country. The three largest cities, capital Helsinki and its neighbours Espoo and Vantaa, have their libraries collaborate, which means if you live in this area, you can freely borrow books from any of their libraries and return them to any other library. Did you pay attention to the words free and any library?

While reading other book bloggers’ posts, I have sometimes noticed them saying they received the book “free from library”. To me this sounds absurd – are there libraries where it costs to borrow books? In Finland there isn’t.

The Finnish public library is free of charges. You can get yourself a library card by registering at any library, and with the card you can:

  • borrow books freely in your area (at maximum 50 books being in loan simultaneously),
  • the loan period is one month per book,
  • you can redo it via internet five times consecutively before returning the book to a library,
  • you can make requests for books that are in other libraries and they are then sent to the library of your choice, where you can pick them up.
  • All this with no cost at all!

Very popular new titles are labelled as “best-sellers” and their loan period is two weeks. There are books available in several languages and if you want to see a certain new novel in your library, you can suggest it to the new titles list.

The only scenarios where you need to pay charges are, when you’re returning books too late or when you have damaged or lost a book.

And naturally, the libraries have a whole lot other things besides books for you to borrow: cds, dvds, games, board games, music sheets, sewing machines, skis, tools…

Reading and Writing Go Hand in Hand

A library system has an effect at a nation. If you can read as much as you like for free, it is more likely you’ll read than if you would have to pay for each book. And reading is – without a doubt – good for you. And it is popular. Statistics tell us everything: The public libraries had 49 million client visits in 2015 and people made 89 million loans. Communes used approximately 58,3 euros to library services per resident. There are 288 public main libraries and 450 subsidiary libraries in Finland. 140 library busses circulate scarcely populated areas and visit schools. Libraries offered a selection of 44 313 ebooks in 2015, which gathered 265 000 loans. 1,8 million new titles were acquired and 2,8 million old titles were discarded.

Besides reading, Finns are eager to write books. About 4000 new titles are released every year, with only 17% of them being translations from other languages. There are around 3500 publishers in Finland (with the population of 5,5 million) of whom about 100 are members of the Finnish Book Publishers’ Association. The 10 largest publishers account for 33% of the new releases, 55% of the overall book production and 90% of the sales volume. About 31% of books are sold in bookshops, 18% in department stores, kiosks and supermarkets, and about 6% over the Internet. Book clubs account for about 10% of sales.

Susan

P.S. You may ask, whether Finland really is that well-educated and literate? Let me quote the Wikipedia: “The Education Index, published with the UN‘s Human Development Index in 2008, based on data from 2006, lists Finland as 0.993, amongst the highest in the world, tied for first with DenmarkAustralia and New Zealand.” and the Guardian: “Finland is the world’s most literate nation, according to new research, with the UK coming in 17th, behind countries including the US, Canada and Australia.” as a few examples.

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Halloween – the Time of Ghost Stories

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Today is the night of all nights – at least when it comes to enjoying a bit of horror. I decided to give a taste of a good old time ghost story with a bunch of modern illustrations by me (trying out my new Wacom together with Inkscape and Scribus.

Myra’s Well – A Tale of All-Hallow-E’en is a story by George Francis Dawson, originally published in 1883 in the USA. I have edited and illustrated this Halloween edition of 2016 for your enjoyment. May the chills be with you!

Download the story of Myra’s Well here in PDF

Myra's Well Edited and Illustrated by Susan Wilander

 

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