Happiness is…


96

Sunday Surprise


easter

Random Friday


Sort of Art Friday, except it’s not my art but for these two vignettes that sum up Torino Comics.

ToComics1_resizeToComics2_resizeI was very happy to be able to talk to Cinzia Di Felice, Silvano Beltramo and Maurizio Manzieri for future commissions. They are all quite different artists, but that’s what I like about them! :)

I met Cinzia in Angoulème way back in 2004 and bought her BDs in French… then for a few years she’d stopped drawing, so I had given up on her. Suddenly last year she was guest at the French BD bookshop in Rome, L’Aventure, and it was great to see she’d gone back to drawing! :D I was very happy to hire her for a Silvery Earth cover of future publication…

Silvano was among the organizers of Torino Comics – until this year. So I’ve known him for 3 or 4 years, and started hiring him for Star Minds. The only English cover is SMS – Women, but he did the Italian covers of Shooting Star and Mind Link. I  will let him redo the CVE covers and will proably do a new CreateSpace POD edition, just in case I start selling paper books. His historical comic Nidus Haereticorum will soon come out in English, and I’ll make sure to share the link – I got meself the Italian copy, signed by the artist at the comicon! :)

As for Maurizio, I also met him at Torino Comics, probably about the same time as Silvano. I’m honored to hire a Spectrum illustrator to do my humble covers, but I’m sure he’ll do a great job for Star Minds Next Generation. And we’ll be together at Loncon, so watch out in case we do a panel together – or just say hello if you see us wandering through the world con! ;)

And I celebrated 20 years of knowing Manf, a former ziner like me that I met at Umbria Fumetto way back in 1994 who is now a teacher at the Torino Comics School and a publisher as well! :) We couldn’t believe 20 years have gone by as we reminesced and talked about old friends and where they are now… I might not be very far in my comic career, but then – I’m a writer, and hobbyist artist! :)

So, it was tyring, but I was happy. I also discussed other ideas and projects that I have with my Jedi Twin Fulvio, who might eventually help me produce what I have in mind. Although I might do a first attempt on my own. Now I need to get back to that priority list – or give up DayJob to have more time to follow all my projects! :D Except I don’t sell enough yet, so the only thing I can do is write and publish more, and then we’ll see…

Have a great weekend! :)

Writer Wednesday


AmazonSpringDTFAmazon Spring is now live on Kindle, Kobo, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords and DriveThruFiction… and even Apple! Took them one week to approve it…

I shall be a guest on Doug’s blog soon – yes, I’ve answered those twenty questions too, so check back again on the link. I’ll be posting the interview on my Facebook profile, but if you’re not on Facebook, just follow the above link. Or maybe I’ll update this post! :D

UPDATE: Here’s the link to my interview!

As I trudge through the next Amazons story before heading back to the Southern Kingdoms (featured in Amazon Spring, since The Slave is set there, with an Amazon a little far from her country), I still have plenty of ideas bouncing in my head. I’ll tell you all about Torino Comics on Friday, since it’s not really a writerly news and the only writing discussion is still undefined and it’s too early to talk about it. Besides, how can I surprise you, if I start babbling now about it? ;)

So, to the writerly links! Kris Rusch reminds to stand up for yourself. Especially if you’re a traditionally published writer dealing with Editor-From-Hell. I never thought it could be that bad, and I’m glad I’ve chosen the indie way. Even if I can’t apply all of Kris and Dean’s teaching in this third world country, eventually I’ll manage to set up a business and maybe even rebrand myself. Maybe. In the meantime admire the mess I’ve done with my Scribd subscription: two pen-names under the same umbrella. Sigh. Not that it’s a secret, but still… I guess I won’t activate the third link after all! :)

Viv on piracy, pricing and the pernicious effects of victim-less crimes. I had some kind of breakdown in January when a Google Alert showed what looked a pirate site with all my works for free (and all taken from Smashwords…), but then I shrugged it off. It’s a little like dealing with trolls – I think ignoring them is the best way.

Or receive e-mails from America Star Books who has discovered that I published a book and offers free translation for it. Pity the book (which one?) is probably already in English anyway. And it’s already published in America. So much for another Author Solutions venture… did they get my name from Lulu? Then I guess it’s time to change POD company…

David Gaughran on improving KDP. I don’t see the benefits of pre-order yet, and I certainly won’t go Select at any time, but some of the things that were requested sound fair. I’ve got the email about the Sales Report in the dashboard – much like Smashwords graphics. And I’ve had those threatening e-mails and my account blocked because they challenged the copyright of my free title – which means it’s not on Amazon anymore. It might get back there if I do the project I’m mentioning above – although CreateSpace don’t do hard backs, do they? Drat, I’ll have to stick to Lulu.

Anyhow, I guess that’s all for today. Have a great week! :)

 

Happiness is…


95

Sunday Surprise


And it’s another guest! I shall be guest on his own blog soon, I “met” him in the Smashwords Authors Group on Goodreads, I haven’t read his book yet, but… I hope I’ll be with him in Wyrd Worlds 2! :) Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Douglas Schwarz!
DougSchwartzWhere do you live and write from?
I live in Austin, TX.  I’ve lived in Texas most of my life.  For a few short months, I lived in North Carolina, then moved back to the same address in Texas.  When I did that, my mail was forwarded in circles.  One reason people need to save the US Postal service is because they have forms to stop mail from being forwarded in circles, and tell that mail to go home and behave itself.
Most of the time, I write at my desk — the desk at home, not the one at my day job.  Although, I make notes now and then when an idea gets stuck on my mind.  I have tried to write in public, but wind up people watching, then wonder why I didn’t get much done.
When did you start writing?
I remember writing my first short story in fifth grade.  Then, sometime in middle school, I knew I wanted to write a book about time travel.  Twenty-five or so years later, in October 2013, I published my first novel, Checkered Scissors.  It had nothing to do with time travel, but it took a lot of time for me to learn the craft in order to tell my story the right way, the way it was meant to be told.
What genre(s) do you write?
I have a hard time pigeonholing my stories into one particular genre.  When people ask, I tell them “light fantasy”, because my style of writing is light to read, and there are some supernatural elements.  When I think of fantasy, I think of books like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones — Very D&D type stuff.  That’s not the kind of fantasy I write.  Many of my stories are absurdist fantasy with a tinge of the surreal and a splash of humor.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
Many of my dreams inspire me.  I keep a journal of snippet of dream information.  I think the journal is over 100 pages, typed.  Most entries are only a line or two of text.  I read through it from time to time to find something that inspires a story.
Also, I like to juxtapose unrelated things in unique and imaginative ways.  For example, I wrote a pseudo love story about a puppet falling in love with middle-aged man’s imaginary friend.  Another story is about a lobster key chain that isn’t much help to a man trying to win back the girlfriend that broke up with him.
I’ve put myself into a few of my stories.  I consider those tales of an alternate universe me.  Typically, I do not put specific other people I know into the stories.  I will use elements of various people’s personalities, but have not emulated them as a character with a changed name.
Do you have a specific writing routine?
I wake up crazy early in the morning, at least an hour or two before everyone else.  It’s the best time of day for me to work with the least number of distractions, and I can focus on my work, before I do work for others.
When I sit down to write a story, I sketch out an outline first.  Then, I write scene-by-scene, following the outline.  I most likely will adjust this approach, because I recently read the book “The Anatomy of Story” by John Trudy, which is an excellent read for storytellers (Highly recommend it!).  In the book, there are exercises to improve storytelling, and I most likely will put them to use in my next work.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
As I said above, I typically get a general idea and put it down in a rough, scene-by-scene outline.  Then, I write, loosely following the outline, tweaking it as necessary.  Unfortunately, I write like I read… Slowly.  I like to take my time with books, and savor them.
CheckeredScissors_Tell us about your latest book
Checkered Scissors is my first novel.  The story is about four lost souls, stuck in different worlds, trying to find their way.  They think the best way to get to where they want to be is to find the pair of Checkered Scissors.
Checkered Scissors is an absurd, slightly surreal, fantasy that explores traveling between different worlds for different reasons.  If you love tales like Alice in Wonderland or the Chronicles of Narnia, I hope you explore the worlds of my book, too.
The book touches on concepts like what happens to dreams after we wake up, and what happens in the afterlife, but the text is not heavy with philosophy.  In fact, Checkered Scissors is a light, family-friendly story suitable for any audience.
As I jokingly tweeted the other day, Checkered Scissors is the #1 book containing legless monkeys, a purple car, and the Chicken Dance, and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong.
If you are curious to explore the worlds of Checkered Scissors, here is the website.
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
Indie (or Self) Publishing.  I did a lot of research prior to publishing.  Both paths seemed full of challenges.  Traditional publishing seemed to take a long time to find the right agent, the right publisher, and the right audience.  With Self Publishing, I feel more in control of the final product, which I am very pleased with the outcome.
“Self Publishing” seems to still have a bad reputation for a story being slapped together and thrown up on a website.  On the contrary, I had several peers review various stages of my novel.  I hired a professional editor to clean it up.  The cover art is simple.  I took the time to carefully design the image myself, and believe it stands out in a sea of too many similar looking covers.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
Yes, too many.
My next release will be a collection of short stories.  Over half of the stories are ones I wrote while finding my writing-voice and never did much with.  The other half are fresh stories from ideas I had sitting on the back burner for far too long.  I intend to release this collection sometime later this year.
I have notes for a sequel to Checkered Scissors, and a partial outline for a completely different novel about super heroes.  Plus, I have another batch of short stories for a different collection, all of which will be time travel related (See Question 2).
Besides writing, I have a hobby of game design for my hobby business called Pegamoose Games.  I have notes for a browser-based role playing game, plus a few table-top games I would like to get back to someday and share with the public.
I recently resigned from the board of a non-profit which puts on free musicals for children, as a way to introduce them to the arts.  For a dozen years, I helped co-write the scripts for the productions.  I walked away to focus on my many other projects.
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
Ideally, I would like to flip-flop my day job and hobbies.  I would love to write and design games for a living, and supplement my income by doing a little contract work on the side (to get out of the house and stay in touch with the tech industry).
How do I plan to do this?  One step at a time.  I took the first step by publishing one novel.  I am actively working on the next.  And, from the previous question, I have others queuing patiently.
The biggest hurdle I’ve encountered so far is building awareness of my works.  I am trying to overcome this by becoming more active in various communities.  Also, I am trying to connect to my fellow writers by sharing what I have learned in my journey to publication, plus words of encouragement.  In an author interview web-form I constructed, many participating authors sounded like a Nike ad — Just do it!

Bellow are the four websites to best keep up with me and my projects:
Checkered Scissors’s website
Facebook
Twitter
LiveJournal blog

Barb sez (a la Joe Konrath): Indie Publishing and Self-publishing are NOT the same thing. See Dean Wesley Smith for the definitions… And Doug, since you’re American, you can do it right – it’s a little harder from this side of the ocean! :) All the best!

Random Friday


I’m in Torino, attending the annual comicon, so I’m scheduling this long before it goes live… I didn’t have time to watch any new movies before getting on my train yesterday afternoon, so I’m just going to comment on this article about Bollywood’s hit&misses remakes. I have seen 3 remakes and 2 originals of this list.

So, starting from the top – mm, can someone please explain to me how 2 years become “a decade ago” in India? Time really flies over there! ;) The remake of Agneepath, which I have seen, is from 2012… And I might watch the original one day, although, since the other 2 originals I’ve seen (bottom of the list: Sholay and Zanjeer) I tend to mix them and can’t tell one from the other… maybe not. I guess I like the “new” Bollywood, from the 1990s on! ;)

Devdas is another one of my favorites (and it’s from a decade ago – actually, 12 years, haha) and I’m wary of trying a 1955 original (although I could have done it for research purposes if Kol-ian had stayed in India also in 1955 – except he was gone at the end of 1954, LOL). Unless somebody tells me it’s unmissable, I’ll stick to Ash and SRK and Madhouri! ;)

Don… not sure. I have both the remake and its sequel, but what I said for Agneepath is valid for Don as well. I mean, I like Karan Johar and Farhan Akhtar works, but older stuff? Not so sure. By the way, I’m bringing Rock on!! to Turin and see if my musical friends over there like listening to rock in Hindi! ;)

So, that’s my humble opinion – until my next Bollywood batch (probably this summer when I go to Loncon)… Have a great weekend! :D

Writer Wednesday


As I trudge through more Amazons stories for the next anthology, there isn’t much going on. I’m considering giving away a free story to whoever subscribes to the New Releases newsletter (widget in the sidebar) – a PDF that will be attached to the first one. It won’t be sent out for Amazon Spring, though, since at the moment I have only one subscriber! ;)

I have updated the blurb for Amazon Spring:

A collection of stories set in the Queendom of Maadre a.k.a. Amazons Country. From the death of Queen Amazonia to shorter stories, meet the only country on Silvery Earth where women rule and men have no voice and no rights. Reprint of “The Death of Queen Amazonia”, “The Slave” (included in Tales of the Southern Kingdoms Volume 1) and Doreen (included in Books of the Immortal – Prequels). The dawn of the Queendom.

New story: The Public Man – or male prostitutes in the Queendom! Leone thinks he has the best job in the country – until he realizes not everybody likes Public Men…

It’s already available for pre-order on Kobo and soon will be on the other retailers as well. I uploaded it to D2D in the hope that next week it will be available at Apple along with the other retailers… I will upload to KDP and Smashwords on Sunday when I come back from Torino Comics.

Anyhow, a few links this week. David Farland on Luck, Work, Intelligence, Taste, Talent, Timing – which goes well with Dawn Copeman’s Quality or Quantity. I’m still prolific, but I’ve slowed down a bit, since I’m writing more new stories and less rewrites/translations. Still have a lot of titles out, and obviously I don’t write for traditional markets (yes, two more rejections this year) but I’ll keep submitting the short stories before publishing them.

In case you missed it, last week Kris Rusch had TWO business posts, a surprise Tuesday and the usual business Thursday. I guess being published in a magazine is a good discoverability stunt, although it would make me uneligible to participate to more Writers of the Future… But considering how long the contest keeps the story blocked, well, I’d rather submit to markets with quicker turnaround (Clarkesworld is unbeatable!), so I won’t send the contest another story this year.

If next year I’m still “unpublished”, we’ll see! I already know what I’m going to write for Crossed Genres, the July theme… based on the review of Saif’s Legacy by dear beta! *waves at Bookwatcher* Get ready for Kilig’s training!! :)

More links: Colleen Doran on Lies, Blacklists and other Handicaps. Might happen to writers as much as artists, so have a look. The only blacklist I know of is Hollywood’s Blacklist, and that doesn’t mean the screenplays that end there will never ever get made – although it might take years (any reference to Passengers is absolutely correct – blacklisted in 2007, it’s still in progress…).

David Gaughran on pricing e-books. I’ve long since made up my mind on pricing, and if I don’t ask more than 5bucks it’s because my books are short. In fact Star Minds the complete series is 9.99$ because it’s a much longer work that includes 3 books… So I agree with David that $4.99 is best for my full-length books – be they anthologies (that sometimes read like novels) or novels. As for “first in the series free” – I don’t have a real first in a series (unless I make Technological Angel permanently free), so I’ll keep doing some 99cents shorts to intruduce to Silvery Earth for those who don’t want to waste 5bucks on an untried author! ;)

Finally, Joe Konrath about Tracy Hickman and the man’s response. I remember reading the Dragonlance trilogy and the Twins trilogy Tracy wrote with Margaret Weiss, but I admit I lost track of him since. The Twins trilogy was the first book I read in English (at the end of last century), and I still think I should re-read it now that my English has improved – I remember I had to check the dictionary because I couldn’t figure out what a “gully dwarf” was, since I had read the Dragonlance trilogy in Italian! ;) I had heard Tracy Hickman did a serial on his site, that’s why at first – reading Joe Konrath’s post – I thought “what’s going on?” Another internet meme or misquote…

Anyway, that’s all for today! Have a great week!

Happiness is…


94

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! Remember last July’s Kindle SFF event that showcased Technological Angel on Tim Flanagan’s blog? Well, I got meself a couple of those books and I’m very slowly wading through them. The Ultimate Inferior Beings struck me for the humor and the crazy story and everything else.  I like humorous sci-fi a lot. So I contacted the author, and he sent me this very interesting guest post – and now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll have to check my Kindle again with this new insight. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mark Roman!

Indexplicable by Mark Roman

 At the back of The Ultimate Inferior Beings, past the story itself, beyond the Glossary and just after the Appendices, you’ll find an Index. But there’s something wrong with that index. If you look closely you’ll notice that some of the listed page-numbers are beyond the end of the book, and there are multiple entries for common words such as “the” and “a”. The word “index” itself appears 16 times.

So, what’s going on? Did I mess up? Did my publisher mess up? Who should be held responsible?

I sometimes ask people if they’ve read the Index. They give me a puzzled look and humour me when I urge them to do so. Then, when I ask again later, they respond in a somewhat vague manner, “Er, yes, sure I read it.”

“Great! What does it say about you?”

This throws them. “Huh?”

I repeat the question and now they’re staring at me as though I’m mad. “It didn’t say anything about me,” they say. “It’s an index. Get a grip.”

Or words to that effect, before edging away, never to be seen again. Which makes me suspect they haven’t read it. Pity.

One reviewer liked it, although for the wrong reason. She felt its total pointlessness was in keeping with the book’s off-beat nature. So, she hadn’t read it, either. Disappointing.

The idea for it came to me in the shower many, many years ago. (I should, at this point, issue a Spoiler Alert. Skip this paragraph if you want to try cracking the Index yourself). I was musing about book indexes in general – like one does – and wondered how much of a book could be reconstructed from the index alone. Could one reconstruct the entire contents? What if every page of this imaginary book contained only a single word, and the index indexed them all? That would do it! So, off I went to write it – which took some time as it was in the days before personal computers, so everything had to be done by hand.

Eventually the Index ended up at the back of TUIB. I was confident readers would immediately spot that it wasn’t genuine; then they’d get to thinking … and soon afterwards, hey presto, they’d solve the puzzle!

So, did they? Has anyone actually read it? A few people have because I explained how to do it. Some managed to crack it fairly quickly just by knowing there was a puzzle to be solved; others needed more clues. A couple of months ago, I received an e-mail from a reader in the US telling me he’d read it. I know he’s not fibbing because he told me what the Index said about him. He’d done it without any clues, all on his own. Smart chap. Maybe there are others out there like him. I hope so.

Have you read the Index, by any chance? Really? Great! What does it say about you?

doodle23Links

Book: The Ultimate Inferior Beings

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0089TF3LU

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0089TF3LU

Website: http://tuib.webnode.com

 

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