Random Friday

By some blogging serendipity I found two similar posts that got me thinking. One is David Farland’s writing tips on resonance – but that felt to me like trying to write for the market. I’m not writing for the market, I write what I’m passionate about and what I want to read. The tagline for Unicorn Productions is “Books for adults with a youthful mind” or something like that. I’m not going to try to please the younger generations.

Which brings to the second post by Hugh Howey about our evolution. I think he’s right, we don’t think like Victorians and future generations won’t think like us. I’m a Baby Boomer (at least in an Italian book I’ve read about “us” it gives 1945-1965 as dates, so I’m a last minute baby boomer – and even if I’m not, I’m much closer to Baby Boomer thinking than any other generation – be it Generation X, Y/Millennials or whatnot, haha!), and I don’t know how Millennials think – actually, I don’t understand most of humanity, but that’s just me, LOL – and I’m not planning to write for them.

Add to this that dear offline beta told me – after reading my latest Silvery Earth novella – “Did you write this years ago? It shows, you’re so much better now!”… I already mentioned I’ll stop “recycling” old stories, but I’ll keep going back to them for things I don’t care much about at this time in my life, but I’m sure almost everybody else still wants to read about.

Oh, and I’ve lost less than 10 “likes” on Facebook due to their new policy of taking off the inactive accounts (and I had to go through the stats to see the drop), but this blog is having more and more followers – whatever you come here for, you’re welcome and thank you. I’m expecting one of those little WordPress prizes anytime soon now! :)

I’ll end this sort-of-writerly rants with Art Friday and point you to the latest portrait of Da Muse H (I’ll use their initial from now on, since I don’t want to put numbers anymore, LOL!)! Have a great weekend! :)

Writer Wednesday

Okay, writing news: Star Minds Next Generation Diaries is almost ready for publication! Waiting for Mighty Editor on the last story (the cover story), then I’ll format and upload. Stay tuned for an announcement sometime next week.

The other stories are also almost done – I have completed a few more short stories and novellas in the Star Minds universe plus three more on Silvery Earth, but I don’t plan on publishing them now. They’re too long to submit them to traditional markets, probably, but I’ll sit on them a little longer.

Also because the website of the publisher is still a WiP, so the less new titles I have up and the less work it will be to update it! I’ll do some cover re-branding for the other two pen names in April as well. And March is almost gone too, at least I can say I’m sticking to my weekly wordcount and I’m on track with that. As for publication… no hurry, right?

Writerly links: to quit or not to quit part 1 – this is Moira Allen’s answer. I’m not quitting anytime soon – not the writing at least. I might quit recycling stories, though! ;) What was written, was written, and it sucks and it stays where it is, on those handwritten notebooks! :D

10 inspiring statistics about self-publishing – just in case you’re considering quitting publishing as well. I’m still earning in the 3digits per year, but I’m not complaining. I know these things take time.

And if you need advice on how to keep an even keel on the internet… I’m quite self-disciplined in that, so I can live without those apps (while I might need an online translator or dictionary while I write, instead of browsing those paper doorstoppers)! :)

Lots of people talked about beginners last week, be it themselves like Hugh Howey, or more generic beginners, like Kris Rusch… I’m lucky because I started my writing routine in the age of typewriter (yes, I’m that old) when there was no internet distraction, so… Good luck to everyone starting now!

And that’s all for today! Have a great week!

Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise

While waiting for the next guest, here’s some writerly wisdom for you. Have a great Sunday! :)

When I hear the phrase “writing community,” usually uttered by those without enough talent to hate other writers for theirs, my first instinct is to reach for the napalm. But failure really does bind us. Flaubert longing to melt the stars and the kid receiving her first rejection letter are the same. All of our little streams pour out into the ocean of total uncaring. If there are to be any claims to greatness, they are to be found only in the scope of the failure and persistence in the face of it. That persistence may be the one truly writerly virtue, a salvation indistinguishable from stupidity. To keep going, despite everything. To keep bellying up to the cosmic irrelevance. To keep failing.

– Stephen Marche

This is most likely not the first time you have heard all of this conflicting advice. It certainly isn’t the first time for me. The nice thing is that I am not writing at the moment. Taking a step back has helped me see how ridiculous and conflicting it can be to listen to everything. Taking a step back has helped me see myself a lot more. Taking a step back has helped me see that I was right in taking a step back. Intuition. It shouldn’t be ignored. I’m not a perfect author. Perfection, I believe, is right in front of us all the time. It is not a place, but the ability to choose what will work for us and kindly saying no to the things that won’t — even if those things work for others and they are successful and we are not.

– Michelle D. Argyle

Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

– Neil Gaiman

I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.

— Harper Lee

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

– Stephen King

Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Literally, when I wrote the last page of my first draft of Lincoln’s Melancholy I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years, literally years, writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly.

– Joshua Wolf Shenk

Random Friday

An article about Author vs. Writer – on a random Friday because… here’s my own version:

Author is the writer of that one single literary masterpiece that won accolades, while Writer is the professional who lives off his royalties! ;)
I consider myself an author because I not only write, but also draw my own comics and graphic novels every now and then (although drawing is more a hobby/passion, writing is my calling).
So that’s why I consider myself an author. And a writer. And a hobbyist artist. Gee, these labels are confusing, LOL!

Maybe I should just say Creator… Although I already say I’m the Creative Goddess of Silvery Earth. Megalomaniac much? So? ;) Don’t worry, I’m actually human and are prone so self-doubt every now and then.

And since it’s Friday, I’ll let the artist talk today! Although Da Muses are for the AUTHOR, since they inspire both my writing and my drawing…

Of course I couldn’t do any drawings last weekend (but I will this weekend, mwhahahaha!), but I do have another nasty vignette on Da Muse – because he drives me crazy and can’t even call him Muse #2, because he’s becoming #1, so I’ll have to find another way to differentiate them, gaaah!

Anyhow, here’s the news doing the rounds lately, and my reaction.

naked2I’d rather watch these animated GIFs for the rest of the day (or maybe the full videos) instead of the above… because he’s a man with moves! And when he dances I can’t take my eyes off of him! :D

The first to hit me on the head is, of course, Dhoom 2. All that video/song’s fault. And I didn’t even see it on a big screen, but on DVD. Laskhya and Krazzy 4 are still on my wishlist – maybe next month I’ll find them in Southall. Guzaarish – that’s the reason why I bought the movie: I saw that bit and said “I want it”. Kites and Luck By Chance – more favorites. Bang Bang is the only one I saw on the big screen. And Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai… well, he was young, but he could already move! :D

I could add a few more… but I’m going to shut up now. Back to writing! And drawing! Have a great weekend!

Writer Wednesday

So, I spent the weekend in Turin, meeting friends and – hear this! – buying a domain for Unicorn Productions! It’s not active yet, but I’m working on it with my webmaster. Sometime later this year I’ll be able to take a few things off this blog, close the Wix site for B.G. Hope and have everything in one place. Like a publisher. Because I’m a micro-publisher, it’s high time I have a real (static) web page!

Do not worry, blog follower, this blog won’t close down. The publisher page is for new releases and the newsletter and everything related to my published titles. This is still my private blog with random musings on everything and nothing. And there’s the (almost dead) Italian blog as well.  So I will still delight you with these useless posts for a few more years – until I have fun doing it, that is! ;)

Since there was much commuting time (by train) and a few dead time, I used it to write. I finished another Silvery Earth novella (and you who are waiting to beta-reading it, have patience, I’m going through it one last time, I will probably send it next weekend instead of the last as I had promised!) and started on the new SMNG story about Astrid and David.

Which brought the third rewrite to another story that I must re-read this weekend to send it off to the editor on Monday – so busy weekend of editing two stories for April publication. And checking those Silvery Earth stories as well, to send them out to betas. And writing Astrid & David. And… I love this job. The writing part, I mean.

Writerly links: a simple way to create suspense and the importance of routines. And don’t forget you never stop learning. Take an online writing course if you can’t afford a trip to anywhere (Utah, Oregon). Don’t think you don’t need it because you only have high concept ideas – if you never sit down to write those high concept stories, when you do, you’ll find out your writing muscle has atrophied.

Have a great week! :)

Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise

And it’s a guest! Author of the month on Goodreads! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Luke F.D. Marsden – from this side of the pond for a change! :)

Where do you live and write from?

I live and work in the old Roman Spa town of Bath in Somerset, site of the UK’s only thermal springs. As well as writing at home, I like to write when I’m away in other places.

Why do you write?

I love to write both for the pure act of creating something, and because I know the impact that reading the right book at the right time can have. I have been influenced fundamentally at different points in my life by picking up the right books – sometimes by pure chance. Some of the fabulous places and people from those books stay with me vividly to this day. I think that the ability of literature, at its best, to unlock the power of the imagination makes it the most powerful art form. It can take you to places and situations that you would otherwise never experience. By writing, I strive to give something back of what I have experienced of the world, and to create works that will resonate with someone, somewhere.

When did you start writing?

I started writing quite late. It was in my mid twenties, when I was living in Barcelona, although I had written fragments before that. I was mainly interested in the sciences at a younger age, and came to discover literature properly a bit later on, at which point I immersed myself in it. I began to write my first short stories a few years later.

What genre(s) do you write?

My first novel – Wondering, the Way is Made – was not targeted at any particular genre. I would loosely categorise it, however, as a work of literary travel fiction. It is a tale of friendship in a crumbling world, that takes place in South America. The book I am currently working on is a collection of allegorical short stories relating to themes connected with the conscious and subconscious mind, so will be quite different. I haven’t thought about what genre that classifies as, yet!

What does your writing routine consist of?

The most important part of writing, the thinking, I do anywhere and at all times! I’m always turning over ideas in my mind and I carry a notepad (of the old school, paper, type) to make sure I don’t forget things. When the thinking and research are mostly done, and I’m ready to start writing, I make sure that I have at least one whole day free. Then I find somewhere quiet, free of distractions, and with luck, inspiring, and write a first draft in manuscript, leaving alternate pages blank for notes and filling in gaps. After that, it’ll be a process of making refinements with successive drafts, during one of which I’ll type everything up on a computer. Although I work a lot with computers I’m a bit of a luddite outside of that, so I try to avoid them as far as possible in my free time.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

When I read the things I have written, these are the things I like about them:

Clarity of style – I’ve always been sparing with words, and I choose them carefully.

Insight – My travels around the world have taught me to see things from many perspectives.

Realism – I am a realist, by nature. I don’t shy away from seeing and describing things as they really are.

Authenticity – Almost everything in my novel Wondering, the Way is Made – each of the locations, anecdotes and events – draws its inspiration from my own personal experience or real occurrences of recent history, and in this sense they are authentic.

Hopefully that doesn’t all sound too high-falutin’!

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?

I get inspired by travel. It’s a cliché, but the real world (or, should I say, the universe) is stranger and more exotic than fiction. You just have to go out and find stories and ideas – the whole universe is full of them. The beauty of fiction is that, as a writer, you can then adapt, adorn and embellish those stories and ideas without limits until you have captured whatever it is that you were seeking.

My characters are usually composites of people I know and have met, with a measure of artistic licence thrown in. I like to create them this way because, again, it lends authenticity. Of course, there is some of myself in some of my characters, but then there are elements of many other people, and a dash of imagination as well.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I’m a mixture of both, I usually outline, say, the first half of a book or story, then start to write it and let it develop as I go.

I am a slow writer. There is no word that goes into any of my work without consideration of its real meaning and nuance, and I will go over any given passage numerous times before I am completely happy with it.

coverTell us about your latest book

I published my first novel – Wondering, the Way is Made – in November 2014. I first got the idea for it when I was in Kerala, India, in the summer of 2011. There was a deadly heatwave at that time in the US and it was the summer of riots in the UK. From a distance I watched and, with a small step of the imagination, envisioned what it would be like if things degenerated to the point where it was no longer worth returning home. I eventually came to write the book three years later, while I was in South America.

The story takes place in various locations in Latin America in the very near future, against a backdrop of serious climate change and societal upheaval. A band of good friends are brought together by fate in Argentina, and they journey across the South American continent in a camper van looking for a quiet place to ride out the adverse events that are occurring globally.

The book also carries a deeper message – it is an attempt to capture something of the essence of the frivolity and self-indulgence of our time, and I found that peering into the near future was a good way of doing this. Its heroes and heroines represent a generation in microcosm. They are nice people, sympathetic, but upon reflection perhaps not quite as sympathetic as they appear. They lament the demise of society and the planet, quite rightly, but there is nothing in their actions that absolves them from the very things they criticize others for. They are products of a ‘Me’ society, they are, at times, wasteful, irresponsible, largely unmoved by the poverty they see as they travel through Latin America, and over-privileged in some cases. However, the fact remains that they are also gentle, thoughtful, honest, very likeable and humorous, which makes it easy to overlook their flaws and shortcomings. The book carries the message that, collectively, humans can be quite selfish, even if individually they are nice people. It also explores the question of what to do and where to go when the warm embrace of civilization, and the comfort of a future that is certain, begin to fall apart.

Wondering, the Way is Made can be found in the following places:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wondering-Way-Made-Luke-Marsden-ebook/dp/B00PENF6HU

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/491732

Barnes & Noblehttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wondering-the-way-is-made-luke-f-d-marsden/1120736997



Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

I think that the great advantage that independent publishing has over traditional publishing is that the independent writer is not beholden to any publishing house, editor, or anything, other than themselves, and therefore has the ability to write works for their artistic merit alone. I would draw a loose analogy with organic versus processed food. There is a lot of superb writing talent outside of the traditional publishing machine. This said, I have read a great deal of excellent traditionally published works, so it’s difficult to generalise.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Yes! As mentioned briefly in an earlier question, the book I am currently working on is a collection of allegorical short stories with a loose thread connecting them. I studied some neuroscience when I was at university, and have been fascinated by consciousness ever since then – the stories will explore themes around this. The book is pretty well progressed and I hope to get it out later this year.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

Before I published my first book, I always said that if I managed to write something that touched the life of just one person, somewhere, then I would have achieved my goal as a writer. Since Wondering, the Way is Made was published, I have been lucky enough to receive a lot of positive feedback and encouraging comments from readers. So, in that sense, I have already achieved my goal. Anything from here is a bonus.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

It was when I was in my mid-twenties, and I was in Canada talking to a stand-up comic after his show. I expressed my desire to write seriously and he said something along the lines of: “You’re not going to like what I’m going to tell you, but listen: The best thing you can do for your writing is to go away for five years and do something else. Then start writing after you turn thirty. The difference? Well, the difference will be that, then, you’ll have credibility. Nobody listens to anyone under the age of thirty…”

While I didn’t take his words literally, they did set me thinking, and I determined that I wouldn’t write unless I really had something worthwhile to write about, and for that to happen I needed to have done things that gave me something worthwhile to write about. It is important, in these times of overwhelming information overload, that your words do not just add to the noise, but stand out above it. They must give whoever reads them something that is born of inspiration, and something that has come from the heart.

Find Luke on Goodreads and Author Central UK.

Random Friday

As promised, here are the unused covers of the next generation (Jo, don’t drool on the second!). Very quickly done by throwing together different drawings. The only one that might look like the final one is Kay-low’s.

SMNGdiaries4blog_resizeLeft to right: Chibi, Dadina and Shan-leo. Wim and Dadina. Jay-lee and Kay-low. They’d probably end on the Lousy Book Covers blog as they are… (like Technological Angel did…)

I put the red bands to make them similar to the Star Minds Snippets stories (that had blue bands, see?)

SMS4blog_resizebut then, since I won’t publish them separately… and Kay-low is not included in the Diaries anymore… I can toy with it for  another month, LOL!

The final covers for Star Minds Next Generation Diaries and Star Minds Chasing Stardom will be similar to the Star Minds Next Generation cover (same artist)! :)

Now back to writing… Have a great weekend! :)

Writer Wednesday

Seems I can’t let go of Star Minds Next Generation – I’m supposed to write something else this month, LOL! I got SMNG Diaries back from the editor and was thinking of publishing parts of it before the full thing comes out sometimes at the end of the month or maybe beginning of April but…

I hate the covers I made – I might post them on Friday as unused covers – and in one instance the piece is too short (it’s not a novella), so… I don’t know. Since I like the cover for Kay-low’s novella, I’ll publish that one on its own, but I’m post-poning since I decided to add another chapter/epilogue and I’ll have to send it for proofreading… It incorporates the final bonus story and a wedding (although not Kay-low’s).

Not to mention the fact that I had another idea for another member of the next generation, so I’m shifting stories around again. Maybe I’ll put Kay-low in another book and leave Diaries for Shan-leo and Dadina only. So many stories to write, so many decisions to make… sigh!

For your information, here’s how European VAT affects sales. This is a screenshot of my Smashwords dashboard – the only two sales so far. It’s the same title, Italian and English version. And yes, it’s a 99cent short story (that’s why I don’t want to put out more of these, not worth the hassle).

european VATAs you can see, the price to the consumer is the same, but my earnings plummet. So even if I keep selling that title on Amazon Italia, I’m not making much (add to that the Kindle policy of 35% royalties on 99cents stories – I earn 20cents for each on Amazon)…

I’ll leave you with the link about the perils of the paperless office – I’m the one who lost a novel to a floppy disk, so I’m very happy Dropbox seems to be working (but I do backup on external drives as well every now and then). And I know at least another writer friend *waves at Nikalee* who lost her writing to an old PC… So, either keep a printed version or backup frequently! :)

Have a great week!


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