Happiness is…


trying not to use up all the battery like it happened in February, LOL! Now back to reading! 😉

Sunday Surprise


Words of wisdom, writers on writing, take your pick and go WOW! Have a great Sunday!

But if you don’t write, the world will never know what you might have done.
I realized back then that I had to take complete responsibility for my writing.
I had to set up times to write.  I needed to make sure that I stayed on task.
I hoped that someday I would get fan mail from readers who would be eager for my next book, and maybe that would help inspire me, but I knew that that day would never come unless I practiced my craft, all alone, with no audience but me.
Over the past few years, that realization has grown.  And you don’t have to just write the novels, you have to sell them.
Your publisher cares whether you sell, of course, but not nearly as much as you do.  It’s like horse racing, where you’ve only got one little horse.  The publisher might be backing you, but he’s got dozens of horses all in the same race.
His chances of winning are excellent.
So we have to take responsibility for our writing—not just for writing our own novels, but for editing them, writing the blurbs that sell them, getting cover quotes, and marketing them both in person and on the web.
Yes, agents and editors may help, but ultimately we must be responsible.  Writing a book is only part of the job.  It may take a couple of months.  But promoting a book well can require years.

David Farland

The bigger the issue, the smaller you write. Remember that. You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying on the road. You pick the smallest manageable part of the big thing, and you work off the resonance.

– Richard Price

The key there is: I cannot be pinned by expectation.

Some people think outlining a book robs the book of its magic. Some people think the business kills the joy of making words and creating art. But for me, the great thing that will siphon the joy out of what I do — the pesticide that murders the butterflies flitting about in the dark shrubbery that is my heart — is expectation. Not my expectation. But yours.

And now we come full circle because once again, I say:

Nobody wants you to be an artist.

Not the people who love you. Not the people who hate you. Not the people who don’t know one whit about you. Nobody wants that for you or your life.

I want you to think about that for a moment.

I want you to focus on that for a moment.

Take the idea like a pebble or a pearl, tuck it in your mouth, swirl it around.

This is what that does for me:

When I sit down and I start to write, I take a secret thrill in what I’m doing. Because this is forbidden territory. This is verboten. Everyone has built a fence of expectation around what I’m doing and yet, here I am, having climbed the fence. I’m making art and the world doesn’t want me to make art. I’m in a secret garden stealing your vegetables. I’m traipsing about someone’s home in the dark while they sleep. I’m mixing potions. I’m making monsters. I’m tap-dancing on the edge of a cliff, and the world can watch me kick off my shoes, pirouette, and lift both middle fingers in the air with a smugly self-satisfied look on my big beardo face.

Chuck Wendig

But to yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.
Elizabeth Gilbert

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

– Stephen King

Violate conventions and you are marked as an outsider. A rude outsider, at that.
Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

If you want little, give little; if you want much, give much; if you want all, give all.
Matshona Dhliwayo

Random Friday


Last Friday I had a guest – and a cough, which made it hard to talk. Besides, she likes Bollywood movies (although she’d watch forever Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and wouldn’t try any other), so I suggested we watch a movie after dinner to spare my throat. And it was Joker time! I saw the trailer in theaters back in 2012 and was glad to finally see this demented comedy about aliens and crazies.

I like Akki when he does comedies. Of course my suspension of disbelief was slightly challenged when I saw the FBI sending troops in India (I thought that was an internal bureau… ;p), but I attributed it to the crazy screenplay and absurd story, so it was okay… lots of fun and lots of nice songs.

Staying in that country but moving to books, The Missus of the above, Twinkle Khanna (a.k.a. Da Muse’s neighbors) wrote a book of stories. Fiction, a collection. I bought the paperback because it was cheaper than the Kindle version (ahem, traditional publishers…) and got to reading it during the week.

I must say that the dialogs felt a lot like a Bollywood movie, which makes me wonder if some other Westerner who isn’t as obsessed as I am would appreciate it. Anyhow, it’s a cute little book, and since I read it immediately after another Indian author, I could see a pattern in their storytelling.

The other book was a Kindle version (hello, indie authors!), and it was set in Ancient Egypt, not India, but still the storytelling felt similar. Of course it’s two completely different collections with completely different topics (and you can now pre-order volume 2) and what I loved about this one was the little historical notes at the end of each story – a very nice touch for an ignorant of Ancient History like myself. It gave depth and meaning to the story I had just read.

Now I hope to have one of the two ladies over at this very blog soon, I shall let you guess which one will grace us…

Last night, since I was done with Saif’s story and was bored with checking the proofreader’s job on the Star Minds stories, I decided I’d rather watch a movie… it had been sitting on my ToWatch shelve for a couple of months, so it was high time! It was Star Trek: Beyond – last movie with Anton Yelchin and tribute to Leonard Nimoy.

A nice addition to the reboot, I particularly liked the warrior Jaylah and hope she’ll be back in the next movies. For the rest, it was the five-year mission stretched to movie length with 21st century special effects and Dubai instead of cardboard sets! 😉 I don’t mind the reboot, even though some things of the original will never be repeated…

Have a great weekend! 🙂

Writer Wednesday


In spite of the cough and cold and fever that came and went, I did manage to double the wordcount on Saif’s story, so hopefully I’ll be able to send it to the proofreader next weekend. In the meantime (and in spite of the above), I managed to publish another ebook, The Path of Earth (Quests Book 4).

Keshav is a thirty-year-old scholar who has been touring the southern kingdom’s libraries in search of knowledge. In Godwalkar he stumbles upon the Genn works and discovers the existence of the Magical Races that populated mostly the north. He decides to go looking for the lost Genn cities with the help of merchant Babita, who knows the way up to a certain point, and the protection of Rohan.
The merchant, the scholar and their bodyguard journey to the northern kingdoms springing up from the ashes of the Moren Empire. Their search might not be of just physical proof of the Genn, since all three have very good reasons to leave their hometowns.

I have a few more quests in mind, but now I will move to other projects, more urgent than more Silvery Earth books! The series itself has reached 70 books on Smashwords, so I guess I can take a break and concentrate on the other series! 😉 I need to write the next vampire novella and then start working on the next novel. I have Star Minds stories that were written last summer and after doing the rounds in traditional markets – being rejected – will now see the light of publication.

So, busy here. Slowly trudging forward. But it’s the normal nature of being behind in this new world, and I’m not panicking, just keep going. Looking forward and not backward. My ToDo list (remember those notepads I bought in Boston?) is still long, but I’m slowly crossing out stuff. Give me time… being behind is the new normal, as long as we set goals and get there, eventually! 😉

I’m also slowly getting organized for the Worldcon. Hotel is booked, flight is almost done and volunteer program still to be filled, but hope to do it before Friday. I do have until the end of the month to fill it. If anyone is going, please let me know and I’ll suggest a panel with you! 🙂

Now I shall leave you with this reminder of what makes a real writer – mostly the handy flowchart! Have a great week!

Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! Someone who dared asking  for it! And then answering the writerly questions! How cool is that? Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Jelterow Mckinnie, Jr.!
Why do you write?
To entertain readers – I want the reader to leave the story with a new way of thinking about something that is probably quite common.
When did you start writing?
At college – I had a very nice professor (Dr. Firestone) who was very generous in his reviews of my writings and he always encouraged me to save them and publish them one day. He always assured me that there was an audience for them, somewhere.
What genre(s) do you write?
Mostly fiction – however, I look forward to getting into more nonfiction one day.
What does your writing routine consist of?
I try to write at least one chapter of the book at a time. But, I do that over and over until the chapter is built up the way that I want it to be. For example, when I was writing Diary of a Teacher I went through each of the chapters and first put the things that I wanted to convey into them. The points that I want to get across. Sometimes, there will not even be characters – only the ideas that I want the reader to walk away with. Then once I’ve done that for all of the chapters – I go through the chapters again, this time putting in the conversations that I want to have take place and begin to put the main characters where they need to be. Then I’ll go back through the chapters and include the traits and tags that I want the characters to have and convey to the reader. This process continues over and over and over until I’ve added all the elements of the story needed to convey the message behind the story to the reader. So, I guess I’d say I write the story in layers!
What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
My strengths are a God given vivid imagination and the God given ability to write the fiction in such a way that it seems and feels real to the reader.
I did not develop these qualities – God gave them to me and I thank Him and give Him all the praise for them, in Jesus Mighty Name!
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
Sometimes I will see something strange or something quite practical and just let my imagination run away with me. Other times, while talking somebody will say something or I will say something and we agree that it would make a nice story. Most recently, on the current book I’m writing, Jairus, I was listening to Kenneth Copeland preaching about developing your faith and he was speaking about how God had him visualize how determined both Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood were to get through that crowd to Jesus. Then, praise God the Lord allowed me to have the idea to put it into a story so that those struggling to visualize it on their own could.
I don’t put myself into the stories too often; but on occasion I have. What I do is merge various people’s personality traits and create the character that I want or need for the story to move along. However, Live, Laugh, and Love the Golden Moments of Life does have a lot of myself in it; primarily because it is about my grandfather and I – all the fun we had in Liberty City (Miami, Florida).
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
Outliner – the last time I tried it the other way I reached halfway and didn’t like the story.
Personally, I think I write slowly – but there are those who claim that I write very fast. At the end of the day it takes me about three months to finish a story that I’m diligently working on.
Tell us about your latest book (add link if published).
Currently I’m working on Jairus – this will be my first official piece of Christian Fiction and I pray that the Lord uses it to help people build their faith! The book will provide the back story for the miracle that took place for Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood. After all, Jairus was a Pharisees in charge of a synagogue at a time when most of the Pharisees were against Jesus. Just how did he come to a point in his faith that he turned to Jesus for help and had enough faith to get the help for his daughter? Likewise – the woman with the issue of blood, what is here story? She’s important enough to include and she has very strong faith; but, she’s given no identity. People, to this day, wonder about who she is and what obstacles she had to overcome in her life. The book addresses these issues – it’s going to sell millions of copies!
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
Indie – the technology supports it and I don’t have to go about the place begging somebody to publish me. The cost are a lot lower and Amazon’s reached the point where they can bring a print on demand paperback to market for under $10, which is a milestone! That said, one day the traditional publishers will reach out to me and we can definitely work some type of a deal at that time.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
Spreading the Gospel – Jesus is Lord!
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
Sell books! While praying the Lord instructed me to start asking for more author interviews and reviews – and I have; and praise God, you are one of the wonderful people facilitating my request; and, I thank you very much and pray that you are wonderfully blessed!
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Dr. Firestone’s advice to go ahead and do it!
Social Media: Google me (Jelterow Mckinnie, Jr.) – that’s probably the best way for the reader to use the method they like the most to get in touch with me.

Random Friday


Rest of the trip! When the workshop was over, I got back to reading the novel I had to drop in January. Fortunately I had reached the end of Book 1 by then, so starting Book 2 was okay. Except one night I was thankfully kicked out of the book by a mistake that wasn’t caught by the author(s) or the editor(s)…

This is Ocean: The Ocean Cycle Omnibus and since it’s a bestselling author, I don’t think I’ll ruin his reputation if I comment on this (besides Goodreaders seemt to be quite divided about it all, haha!). So at one point there is a discussion about ancient sea divinities by a so-called expert (the character) who totally mixes up Greek and Roman names.

Here’s the complete list thanks to Encyclopedia Mythica. In the book, Poseidon and Aphrodite are the Roman names and Neptune and Venus the Greek ones… Gee… I’m glad I overdosed with both Greek and Roman myths in childhood (one more reason to hate what they did in Troy, I know enough of the Iliad and Odissey to know they completely f…ed up – beside using a gorgeous 40-year-old instead of a 20-year-old. Achilles died young, as was often the case back then! Me and my friend were the only one laughing in the movie theater, though. Sigh.)!

So, unless it was meant to be a joke, here’s a good way of throwing your reader out of your story… I got back into it, but the second book is getting weirder and weirder. I will finish it, but it’s not on my recommended list! 😉 I might even quit at some point, since I bought books during the trip and the TBR pile is now enhanced with more dead trees…

Then there were the movies. Not during the trips, not until I got to Long Island, when I saw John Wick: Chapter 2 with my friend. Glad it was still in theaters. And glad to see it NOT dubbed (and wondering what a mess they might have done for this country’s distribution – probably missed all the bilingual dialogs!). I guess for a chapter 2 it’s almost as good as chapter 1. Maybe even better. Still have to think about that. And of course, it opens the way to chapter 3…

Anyhow, both me and my friend were happy because we recognized most of the places where it was shot (New York and Rome). I’m glad Riccardo Scamarcio dared to be the bad guy, although my Italian friend who likes him might not think so. But then, my favorite Hrithik’s role is still Aryan, the villain of Dhoom 2, so…

On the way back I watched Gayal Once Again on the Alitalia flight, but I must admit it took me some time to figure out the story. They all looked the same to me! Nobody was good-looking enough for my tastes and there was only one song – had it been cut? since I could not sleep I also re-watched Something’s Gotta Give – only certain scenes since I had broken my headphones during the flight and didn’t want to ask for a third one (the first I was given was faulty). You can guess which ones (Julian Mercer is Keanu at his best looking, LOL! Pity he’s only a secondary character)…

I enjoyed visiting Boston, although it was a rainy and gloomy day, so I’ll have to go back eventually. My friends were all were kind and I hope to do it again in the future. Have a great weekend! 🙂

Writer Wednesday


And we’re back to the normal longer posts, yay! 😉 Although Laptop gave me a hard time for abandoning him for two weeks… but eventually it behaved! 😀

So, the workshop. Fascinating stuff, and wonderful time spent with other introverts… I mean, writers with whom we talked about everything from craft to business to personal life rolls or highs. So in spite of the slight panic at seeing the room full of PEOPLE, most of which I didn’t know, I survived and actually enjoyed myself!

Now I have a long ToDo list, but I’m slowly working through it. Typing those handwritten pages took some time, but eventually I can tell you I managed to write 11200words longhand while traveling. I’m a good way into Saif’s story and hope to finish it by next week so I can start working on the next vampire novella.

Then, as I wait for feedback on the vampires, I will redraft a couple of the stories I submitted to the workshop and leave the others alone. I will eventually publish them, but I’m still trying to figure out the when or how. Some were first attempts in genres I don’t normally tackle, but only one actually made me want to write the longer version, without wordcount constraints – which are one of the reasons I went indie, a story should be as long as it should be with no wordcount constraints! 😉

Now to some probably old writerly links! A very good list of vital writing advice – do not ignore! ROFL, especially #25 that sums it up perfectly. And if you’re wondering if you should get an English degree… I don’t, but I’m an ESL writer. I don’t even have the Italian equivalent, actually, but I’ve been writing stories since I was 13.

So up to you. Here’s more writing advice for you if you still feel not sure of what you really want. I had read the original post (not sure if I shared it here) and totally agreed too. I am always baffled at how everybody in Italy writes but nobody reads. I am not a strong reader myself, but when I started writing in English I also started reading more to expand my vocabulary.

I will write more about the rest of the trip in the next post… Have a great week! 🙂

Happiness is…


106

Sunday Surprise


#MYFIRSTPOSTREVISITED

A tag started by a blogger/writer called Sarah Brentyn, asking us to revisit our first ever blog posts! ❤

My First Post Revisited!

Here we come to the rules:

Obvious rules:

  • No cheating. (It must be your first post. Not your second post, not one you love…first post only.)
  • Link back to the person who tagged you (thank them if you feel like it or, if not, curse them with a plague of ladybugs).

Other rules:

  • Cut and paste your old post into a new post or reblog your own bad self. (Either way is fine but NO editing.)
  • Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
  • Tag…um…tentwotwelve five (5) other bloggers to take up this challenge.
  • Notify your tags in the comment section of their blog (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  • Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post.
  • Include “the rules” in your post.

I was tagged by Joleene Naylor and I won’t tag you unless you want to continue the game – just copy/paste the above on your blog and keep going.

Hello world!

With the years I’ve become quite fond of my first name (in my childhood I wanted to be called Isabella or Elisabetta, princesses’ names), so I’ll stick to it because it means…

I’ll leave you with this short poem I wrote in a recent writers workshop (Women On Tour Andalusia 31 August 2009):

Barbara

it means barbarian woman

it is the number 5

it is a mountain lake

it is daydreaming and drawing

it is the memory of Sara

the first true friend

my name is Barbara

it means stranger

in a strange land.

__________________________________

And that’s why I consider my blog started on October 1st and that’s the blogoversary date! 😉 But then, you wanted it, you got it…

Have a great Sunday! 🙂

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