Wednesday Weekly Roundup


Last week I wrote 10K+, mostly because I had a false start on the Anthology Workshop assignment. I wrote a full story before finding out it was too long and not “right”. So I rewrote it shorter and snappier, and sent it out with not much room to improvise more. This week is the last assignment, so afterward I can go back to other projects, on hold since the Holidays.

After closing the year with Silvery Earth Kids, I started the new year with a Sunday Strip on Instagram. This is set in the Star Minds Universe, during Kol-ian childhood (and Ker-ris’s teens), and comes out every Sunday. I will soon do a Backstage Pass special entry for this particular strip. And you can already read the first 10 in I like my science mad, an awesome collection of stories that I already recommended reading.

Star Minds Kids and Teens strip by creativebarbwire

And if you see an “intruder” on Instagram, it’s because Da Muse is on Instagram but not on DeviantART. Besides, I accidentally switched on Eclipse on DA and totally hated it. I was so happy to find the way back to the old site, but by then I had already posted my “good-bye, DA”.

The strips go on Instagram, and I don’t do many pencil drawings anymore (there are, of course, exceptions like the above), so I go to DA only for the llamas by now, LOL! But hey, I got 500+, I’m a Ninja Llama! 😀 So Barb the Artist is more on Instagram than DeviantART these days, just so you know…

And now, to more news:

We should all get back to blogging.

– Chuck Wendig

I totally agree with Mr. Wendig, even though this poor blog here is only ten years old, but then, this side of the world is behind the US! 😉 As you probably know by now, I’m not on Twitter, and I use this blog as a newsletter after Mail Chimp changed its ToS. It still finds new followers (hello, there!) even though I don’t advertize it and only share it on Facebook and the Goodreads and Amazon feeds.

So yeah, even those of you who have never done it, try it. It’s fun. You don’t need to post daily, but be consistent. I’m still on WordPress, but eventually I’ll move to the publisher’s site. Maybe. If it’s not to complicated, that is. I’ll have to consult with my webmaster, LOL!

Another interesting article about no sales or lackluster sales. Yes, it might be the book. You might either need to write more, or maybe you only need to let your book baby grow, like in last week’s post.

And of course you should let go of your fear of publishing. I haven’t taken up that challenge, because for me too it would be slowing down. When I’m ready, I can publish a book every two weeks, like I’ve done in the past years.

New followers of this blog might not know, but I never did NaNoWriMo. I write all year long. It’s good to get in the habit of writing regularly, but it’s not something I ever needed. I was already a prolific writer, long before the internet.

I grew up in the age of the typewriter. I still have notebooks full of handwritten stories (that suck and will probably stay were there are for the time being, but you get the point! 🙂 ) and I did my first draft longhand until 2014 because otherwise it didn’t feel “mine”…

And when I took that step out of the way, I wrote even more, of course. Clean first drafts that get sent in batches to my faithful editor who tries to catch those pesky typo faeries, but sometimes they escape both our pairs of eyes. Tricky buggers, aren’t they? 😉

That’s an expense I’ll never get rid of, though. I know I need a proofreader and possibly first reader who catches plot holes and inconsistencies. Heck, I should probably use one in Italian as well! 😀 And I’m talking about my fiction, here, not this very blog who comes to you unsupervised by any editor or proofreader… 😉

During the past years I started posting those writers’ quotes, five at the time. This is how it started:

Both “writers on writing” and “words of wisdom” can be shortened with the same word. Thus, welcome to WoW Saturdays, June to September 2010. Enjoy this collection of writers quotes throughout the summer.

Then it became kind of monthly whenever I didn’t have anything better (or as a Sunday Surprise). Now, ten years later, having reduced the number of posts again, I thought I’d make it a steady feature and add one single random writer’s quote at the end of these weekly posts, starting today.

One last link… Australian Comic Creators Unite to Raise Funds to Support Fire Victims! Sign up to get news about this!

Back to writing now. And publishing when I’m done with these submissions. Stay tuned and have a great week! 🙂

The key really isn’t avoiding burnout. The key to surviving as a writer is learning how to sustain a career.

And that’s true not just for indie writers, but traditionally published writers as well. Some of the demands traditional publishers put on their bestselling writers make the actual writing impossible.

Writers in traditional settings have to learn how to say no.

Writers in an indie setting have to figure out their priorities.

Kris Rusch

Happiness is…


Wednesday Weekly Roundup


And as I enter my tenth year of publishing, I shall do some kind of recap, right? Besides it’s time for those new year’s resolutions for writers… So: wordcount, submissions, publications in that order.

Last week I wrote the story for the anthology workshop (3100 words) and then I was busy with other tasks. I used the long weekend (Jan.6 is a reinstated National Holiday in Italy) to clean up the 45 Italian titles, giving new covers to some of the contemporary stories and adding titles to KU since it seems to work without advertizing.

These are my numbers since I started counting them in 2015 when I bought a new writing computer and stopped doing the first draft longhand:

2015: 400K

2016: 468K

2017: 350K (meh! 17 is bad luck in Italy… 😉 )

2018: 535K

2019: 533K

I still plan to write another 500K this year, it seems to be sustainable and it would be the third year in a row. Go me! 🙂 I also hope to write more short stories to submit, which brings us to point #2!

Submissions have increased in spite of a couple of markets folding and one sub ending in the spam folder. Again, here go numbers: 3 in 2013, 6 in 2014, 10 in 2015, 14 in 2016, 15 (+ 6 anthology workshop) in 2017, 19 in 2018 aaaand 29 in 2019!

Two sales in 2019, and 4 submissions are still pending reply (and one was resent in January). And I already submitted 3 stories this year (+ already 6 for the anthology workshop, will probably be 8 in total). So I hope to get to 50 submissions, but it also depends on how much I spend on shorts and how much on longer works! 😉 (and how many shorts turn into longer works! 😀 ) I have accumulated 74 rejection emails, some personalized, some general, but well… I’ll celebrate when I get the 100th because it means I keep trying, LOL!

Publishing: I want to redo most contemporary stories covers in view of a new collection coming out later this year, with a novella and a few unsold shorts. I did my end-of-the-year accounting and even though I spent Zero for covers this year (thanks to those Deposit Photo credits that should last for this year as well), having paid for 3 workships (2 offline and 1 online) and 3 audio books, my expenses are still much higher than my earnings. But looking at that ledger, there are more “in” than “out” and my royalties are rising (although I included also the 2 sales that bumped up the earnings).

So, 2020 goals: write another 500K or more. Write more short stories to be submitted to traditional magazines. Continue writing in the current series (Silvery Earth, Star Minds Universe, Future Earth Chronicles and Vampires Through the Centuries) plus a new one growing out of a batch of shorts. Publish at least 12 books from March. Do the paperbacks I haven’t done last year (erm… still have quite a few, though, don’t I?).

above English titles, below Italian titles and other formats

And then in 2021 I can celebrate the book birth day for Books of the Immortals – Air that will turn 10 years old! It’s not my bestseller (that would be Body Switches that continues to sell a few copies per year since 2014), but it’s my first Book Baby, so I shall celebrate it – next year! 🙂

But the majority of book-babies grow slowly, just like human babies do. Their audience slowly expands, from family and friends and those in the know, to people their parents never met, to people they couldn’t have known as young book-babies, to people they’ve never met, to people they will never meet, to people who will outlive them.

Kris Rusch

Mine are particularly slow-growing, but I’m sure they’ll come of age. I might do book launches for final books in a single-story arc series (Future Earth Chronicles? The first arc is already concluded, though…) or just let them grow naturally like I’ve done until now. It’s an evolving world, like Kristen Lamb explains so well here

Are you all set with your 2020 goals? 😉 Here are some tips to be successful… Now hop off to the Infinite Bard for another free story and have a great week! 😀

Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise


And it’s the first guest of the year! One more for the show! Ladies and gentlemen, please wlecome Wendy Rose Williams!

Where do you live and write from?

Seattle, Washington

Why do you write?

It makes me happy, brings new insights, and helps transmute energy for myself and others. Writing and publishing is an important part of my life purpose.

When did you start writing?

I began writing December 2012 to help process a rapid and profound spiritual awakening. Published my first non-fiction book December 2016.

What genre(s) do you write?

I write metaphysical fiction & non-fiction – books and short stories.

What does your writing routine consist of?

My writing routine varies depending when I have clients and speaking engagements scheduled. I like to do 4-hour afternoon sprints with my writing partner after having morning clients. I love to block off full days and even a week or two for full-time writing as I get deep into the energy. It’s most efficient for me to write in that manner vs. an hour a day. (I’m now self-employed – when I was working a traditional job, writing an hour a day on weekdays and more on weekends worked best.)

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

My strengths are taking complex spiritual topics and presenting them in a straight-forward manner that’s easy-to-understand and relatable for readers. I’ve developed this quality by working closely with test readers and incorporating their feedback. My writing has also improved by reading it aloud as I now record my books as audiobooks.

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

My inspiration comes from my own spiritual experiences which I then fictionalize in a series called “The Flow.” The most interesting and universally applicable of my client’s past-life regression sessions form the basis of the “Regression Healing” non-fiction series. (I’m a hypnotherapist specializing in past-life regression, a Certified Spiritual Teacher and Reiki Master energy healer.)

Yes, I include myself in my stories in various roles.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

Improviser – slow

Tell us about your latest book
My latest solo book is about a broken-hearted ghost from Colonial America who refuses to go Home for over 300 years, and what it took to get her to the Light.

https://www.amazon.com/Flow-Plimoth-Plantation-prequel-ebook/dp/B07TXXFPXQ

My latest short story, “The War Dog,” is about the unexpected events that occured when I fostered a dog 3 years ago.

https://www.amazon.com/Heaven-Sent-Stories-Touched-Miraculous-ebook/dp/B081ZG5LQC

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

I love being an Indie because I get to determine my product including the content, cover, pricing and timing from start to finish.

I’ve had two short stories published by Transcendent Publishing in multi-author collaborations. “Heaven Sent” was published 12/5/19. It was a great opportunity to have the publisher’s help getting to #1 in 7 categories internationally and to receive 76 reviews in less than a month’s time. I hadn’t known how to do a formal Advance Reader Copy process, how to do Facebook Live on launch day, etc.  All proceeds from the book benefit animal charities.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Yes! I’m excited to complete and share “Regression Healing II: Joe & Marilyn” in 2020.

“A Seattle hypnotherapist turns to past-life regression therapy to resolve puzzling memories that predate her birth. However, when she realizes she’s seeing the world from the point-of-view of Joe DiMaggio, she struggles to accept the famous ball player’s identity as well as the energy flow between them.

The hypnotherapist flounders trying to heal her experiences as the Yankee Clipper until a young woman struggling with overwhelming memories from the same timeline is referred to her for help. Her new client has significant recall from her past life as Marilyn Monroe, including as Joe DiMaggio’s second wife.

The present-day “Joe” recognizes she needs to step to the plate to help them both release the old energy. Can they forgive one another, compounded by the extra heat and scrutiny potential famous past lives are often subjected to?”

But first I’ll be publishing 3 short stories on Kindle:

“Jack’s Journey Home”

“The Car-Whisperer: Trust Your Intuition”

“Ramona Falls: A Path to Forgiveness”

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

To write the truth, to the best of my ability, even when it’s painful to face at times and to share publicly.

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

Let go of ‘what will other people think,’ and set yourself free. Have FUN with your writing!

_______________________________

Find Wendy online:

https://www.wendyrosewilliams.com/

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Wednesday Weekly Roundup


Aaand… HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🙂

Last week I wrote over 14K and a couple of new shorts I will probably send out soon (at least one of them). So to wrap it all up – in 2019 I wrote 530K words, and published 29 titles (not all in English, mind you, but still…).

I start the new year with 170 titles out after the cleaning of the past 4 months, 45 of which are in Italian with a couple enrolled in KU, which seems to work for that language. Doesn’t work for me in English, but well… I might experiment some more this year.

And in the above I’m not counting the curated anthologies or other anthologies I’m in, or even the bundles, just what came out under the Unicorn Productions banner. And I still have to prepare a few paperbacks of the titles that came out in 2019. I know, I fell behind, sorry… with catch up! 🙂

If you’re just starting in the world of Indie Publishing, challenge yourself and publish a book a month for a year. I have done it (25 titles per year since 2011), and sending the paperback to the US is an expense I’d rather not have. But I’ll definitely publish at least 12 titles in 2020. Possibly nothing in the first two months (my editor is busy and I won’t have anything proofread until the end of February) but then I’ll catch up after the Anthology Workshop. Promise.

And here we have a neat podcast (with transcript, which is what I prefer): 2009-2019: Reflections on a decade of self-publishing. I started in 2011, lived through the KU disruption remaining wide and still don’t want to pay for advertising, so that’s probably why my books sink into blackholes of forgetfulness.

I did two new things last year, though. Audio books and going to Overdrive – via D2D, which is just as well, since Kobo is selling Overdrive to someone else, so if I had gone through the KWL dashboard, I would have to do it again. As for Audio books, listen to Joanna Penn!

So a big tip everyone, first of all, go and request your favorite indie books into your library, local libraries, but also tell your readers to request their favorite books in libraries. So I think the more we can get the word out, the more that’s going to help.

And if you’re in one of the countries supported by Findaway Codes (US, CA, AU) – I still have some to giveaway for Otherside. The other audio books you can ask your libraries are the following Silvery Earth novellas: Firebird and The Hooded Man. The latter received a Honorable Mention at Writers of the Future back in 2014… Go check them, they’re also on Audible and everywhere else they sell audio! 🙂

I might explore other audio options this year – checked Descript.com but haven’t tried it yet – and might try some translations, although literary translations aren’t the easiest to do. I know, I tried them and spent two weeks on a short story. My favorite Italian writer, Brunella Gasperini, translated Stephen King’s Carrie, but she was also a writer and a journalist, so I’m pretty sure she did an excellent job! 😉

If you’re up for a little poll, go vote here. Novels, short stories, authors, artists, publishers, anything. You have a few more days to vote. The end of the year also saw the implosion of the RWA… glad I don’t write romance, but then, I’m not American either, LOL!

And now onward to the next decade… have a great week! 🙂

Sunday Surprise


And it’s the last guest of the year! From the West Coast of the U.S. of A. please welcome Melania Tolan!

Where do you live and write from?

Portland, Oregon, USA

Why do you write?

Good Question… to clear my head, therapy, keep sane, because I love it!

When did you start writing?

Over ten years ago, when my husband told me to start writing all the crazy stories in my head instead of telling them to him. And then he bought me a laptop.

What genre(s) do you write?

Urban Fantasy mostly, but have some contemporary NA romance in the works.

What does your writing routine consist of?

Oh boy, I wish I had a better routine. Mostly, I write when I can as I’m a mother and also work a full-time non-writing job. Either I get up around 3-4am in the morning, work-out for 15 min, make Irish Breakfast tea, and then write for an hour before I have to get my daughter up for school and start my other job. OR I wait about 30 minutes after my daughter goes to bed and write until 9pm.

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

I think my biggest strength is world-building, at least this is what I’ve heard from the editors I’ve worked with and reader’s feedback. I see these fantastic worlds and beautiful creatures in my head like a live 3d movie and then I have to know why does this place exist? When I write, I feel like I’m there and I’ve developed this ability by practice, practice, practice. Before I published my first fantasy short story three years ago, I’d already written over 1 million words.

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

Nature is my muse. Whenever I get stuck in a plot or feel like I’ve written myself into a corner, I go hiking or outside for a walk. The fresh air clears my head and the increased blood flow to my head which helps me work through story and get it back on track. Plus I live in the Pacific Northwest where the hiking is pretty spectacular.

My other source of inspiration is movies. I love fantasy movies like Lord of the Rings or Underworld, but then I can binge on Hallmark movies all weekend too.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I have tried to outline, but still end up improvising. Part of the joy of writing for me is figuring out what is going to happen next while I’m writing. If I know too much ahead of time, it kills the story for me. And my writing speed is relative. I get about 3-4 books written in a year, which for some that seems insane while others think that is too slow.

Tell us about your latest book

The Witch’s Sword is book 4 in the Silver Witch Chronicles. In this book, Everly Greene must complete her final mission, retrieving a magical sword that once belonged to an elven princess. She travels into the dangerous Otherworld where she faces elves who have other ideas. She is an abomination which they must kill and their magic is FAR more powerful…

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

Indie all the way. I want to be able to control when the books come out, the covers, the contents, and the pricing. Also I love working independently and not being pressured by a publisher’s deadline.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Book 5! I’m currently writing the yet to be titled final book in the Silver Witch Chronicles and hoping to get it out in April of 2020. Then I have another witch trilogy coming late Fall 2020, with a couple of projects in between.

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

My goal is to write better stories that have all the feels and the way I achieve this is by reading books with stories that I love and writing more. I’ve taken so many classes on craft and read craft books, but really the best way I learn is by doing. The more I write the better I get.

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

Like the Nike logo says “Just Do It!” Seriously, though… stop talking about writing and how great this story idea is that you have, sit your butt down and write it. It’s not going to be perfect, but keep writing.

___________________________

Find Melania online

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Wednesday Weekly Roundup


And since it’s Christmas, I shall leave you to your celebrations and only share some words of wisdom, writers on writing or whatever you want to call them. More next year!

17. Never give up. Quitting guarantees failure. Never stop running in the direction of your dreams. Fight for your right to pursue the best career in the universe. Every successful author I know once toiled in obscurity and you will too.

18. Dream big dreams. Be ambitious. Aim high. You are smart. You are capable. You must believe this because if you don’t believe this, you can’t achieve. Salvador Dali once said, “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”

19. Know that your writing is important. Books are important to the future of humanity and you are the creator of books. That makes you special. It also burdens you with a considerable responsibility. Your writing is unique. No one else can create what you have within you. Your writing is the manifestation of your life, your dreams, your soul and your talent. You are special. Others might think you’re suffering from delusions of grandeur but so what? What do they know? They can’t see inside you. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Don’t be discouraged if others, including those who love you the most, don’t understand the vision in your head.

20.  Find success and satisfaction in the journey of publishing. Know that the measure of your importance and your contribution to book culture and your contribution to humanity cannot be measured by your sales alone. The moment you reach your first reader, you’ve done your part to change the world and that’s just the beginning, so thank you for everything you do and thank you for taking the time to join me here on the Smart Author Podcast. That concludes episode eight.

Mark Coker

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
Toni Morrison

You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.
Madeleine L’Engle

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.
E.L. Doctorow

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.
Louis L’Amour

And a special gift from the Infinite Bard – two free stories instead of one! Happy Holidays, everyone! 🙂

Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise


And it’s another guest! Cheerful, busy holidays on this side of the pond, don’t we? But this guest is from the other side of the Atlantic pond – or is it an ocean? Anyhow, ladies and gentlemen please welcome J.L. Hendricks!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in Southern California, near Disneyland and write from home. On occasion I have been known to head out to a Starbucks to write. I just got back from a month in Edinburgh Scotland and I wrote at a small café there called, Café Florentin.

Why do you write?

Because there isn’t another way to get those pesky voices out of my head. LOL Actually, I always have stories bandying about in my head and writing is the best way to explore those stories and see where the characters take me.

When did you start writing?

I started writing early 2016 and published my first book in April of 2016.

What genre(s) do you write?

I like to bounce around. I have written Clean Scifi Romance, Clean Paranormal Romance, Clean Urban Fantasy, and now I’m starting on Clean and Wholesome Cowboy Romance.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I wake up early, like about 5am get coffee, read my bible, and then get started writing. I get to write for about 3 hours before I have to start my part time job of assisting other authors with their author business.

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

I write clean books, which we don’t see enough of. And I like to write them in fun genre’s that are usually full of not-clean books. LOL And I feel that I come up with some really fun and lighthearted stories. When I read a book I do it to escape. So what I write is something that I would like to read when I’m trying to escape the serious nature of life.

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

Inspiration comes from all around. I love to people watch, which can lead me to making up stories about the people I see, and then that situations that I made up may end up in a future book. This year I’ve traveled to Edinburgh twice and that city as well as some other places in Scotland will be making a lot of appearances in my Urban Fantasy books for 2020. I also have a super secret romance about a couple who meet in Scotland. I can’t wait until I can find the time in my schedule to write that one out. Edinburgh provided probably 2 years worth of inspiration, maybe even more.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I do tend to write slow overall. I can times when I can’t keep up with my mind, because the story is just pumping out. But I also like to do a very loose outline, more like a few pages of beats. Then I let the characters and story tell me where to go.

Tell us about your latest book

My latest book will be published Dec 26th. It’s the first in my new pen name, Jenna Hendricks. It’s set in Montana in a small town and it’s surrounding ranches. This is a clean and wholesome cowboy romance with a kick. (pun intended) LOL

If you like no-nonsense cowgirls, clean stories, and heartwarming attractions, then you’ll adore this contemporary Christian cowboy romance.

Second Chance Ranch is the first book in the touching Triple J Ranch contemporary Christian cowboy romance series.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

Indie publishing because at first I had no way to even approach the traditional market. Now, I’ve learned that unless you are Nora Roberts, you’re going to make very little. Most Trad Published authors have to work full-time jobs in order to make ends meat. I’m getting closer to supporting myself by self-publishing.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Yes, there is an urban fantasy series that will publish sometime in the first half of 2020. It’s going to be a trilogy and I want the entire series completely finished and edited before publishing it so I can do the rapid release approach with it.

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

My goal is work full time as an author and support myself. I don’t have to be rich, just make enough to pay my bills and put a little bit away for retirement. Basically, replace what I was making when I worked in Corporate America.

I am constantly looking at new ways to market as well as changing up what I’m writing based on what the readers want. I still want to write something that I’m proud of, but I have to mix that with what can sell.

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

Learn from my failures, re-evaluate and come back with something new.

_______________

A Ritual of Fire: An FBI Dragon Shifter Adventure (The FBI Dragon Chronicles Book 1)

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