Random Friday

It’s something between a writing and a reading post. I’ve realized that in the past few years I’ve read mostly other indies and sort of lost track of what traditional publishers have to offer. Good or bad, I don’t know. Some of those writers were at a lower stage of their writing than mine, so even if one should read both the good and the bad, it made me feel like I knew everything.

Wrong, of course. But I was also daunted by the length of those traditionally published books (I bought A Game of Thrones in London before they made a TV series out of it, and it’s still sitting on my desk – can’t bear myself to get to those 800pages knowing there’s more to come). When I stared at the TBR pile, I always went for the shorter book at hand – and tried to get an idea of e-book lengths for the same reason.

Like Dean Wesley Smith has been telling us for years, in traditional publishing wordcounts were inflated. Now Moira Allen has realized that too – and that older classics are much shorter than today’s novels. That might be a reason why I didn’t start on George Martin’s book(s), I’d rather read 10 shorter books than one of those series! :)

Might be the workshop, might be the latest read, but I think this year is another step in my writing career, so I was thinking of doing some kind of recap – mostly for me.

So in the 1980s I just wrote, longhand, for myself. At school I sometimes had a classmate reading my stuff, but mostly I was my only reader. I read and re-read the same books over and over, and tried to write like my then favorite author, Brunella Gasperini.

In the 1990s I started going to comicons and did my photocopied fanzine and started making new friends and getting a few more feedback. Jump in quality, thanks to that feedback! Unfortunately, it came from a bunch of yaoi lovers, so it didn’t improve the rest of my writing much! ;) I read most of David Eddings’s series, Jennifer Robertson’s Cheysuli series and some Dragonlance novels – lots of traditional fantasy (but not LOTR).

In the new millennium I tried my hand at screenplays in English and did my first creative writing workshops. I can still remember that in 2003 I discovered things like points of view (a.k.a. no omniscient narrator and no head-hopping in contemporary prose, thank you!) and thought “Wow, 25 years of writing I should just throw away!”

Which of course I didn’t! ;) I still have everything, because I’m like that. Anyhow, I went back to prose and before I started querying, the indie revolution happened. I started publishing what I considered my backlist, all those stories written before 2011 but after 2003.

And then I went back into my old old writing, and boy, it’s getting harder and harder to make decent stories out of that material! The pacing is wrong, the omniscient narrator is everywhere and it’s so summarized that I have no idea of what I meant to say in the first place – not to mention some very obvious naivetés since I was young and dumb.

Add to that the new ideas that pop up, and I’ll probably leave in the drawer all those 500 stories written in the previous stages of my writing! ;) Not that I’ve become proficient yet, but I’m getting better. I still can’t cry on my own stories (managed to get a little lump in my throat once or twice) while I do cry on other people’s stories. So, still a lot to learn.

This year I’m writing less, but trying to learn more. I’m also trying to read more, and not just indies, but also best sellers or traditionally published authors, to study them. Might be because the publisher’s web page is still in “coming soon” stage after two months and I already have to upload 100 covers, might be because I’m rebranding some titles, I don’t know, I’m publishing a lot less, but I don’t care.

I’ve been prolific so far by “recycling” old stories (most of Silvery Earth stories were written between 1990 and 2005), I’m less prolific now that I’m writing new stories. A few of the Star Minds shorts are recycled, but some are brand new.

I also noticed that last year I read a lot of short stories and not many novels. That’s probably why I haven’t really written novels this year yet – well besides Star Minds Next Generation and the current Desi vampire (a shorter novel – but then, my longest novel is 90K, so “short” for today’s standards).

So I better go back to reading novels and keep studying, because… you never stop learning! :) Even the strengths I thought I have are not so strong, but now I know how to improve. We’ll see if I actually improve within the year or not! :)

And if you’re adults who don’t have time to spare and like to read shorter fantasy novels, the Silvery Earth books are all standalone and the longest is Books of the Immortals – Air (which has an inflated wordcount because… I wanted to submit it to traditional publishers. I couldn’t reach the minimum 100K they wanted for a fantasy book, so I self-published!)! ;)

Have a great weekend! I’ll be doing the final pass on the Desi vampire…

Writer Wednesday

I have completed the Strength Workshop and I’m trying to write a short story while I wait for a couple of research books for the Desi Vampire. I shall definitely go back to those online workshops later in the year, since they are indeed enlightening.

In the meantime, there’s also another bundle of writing books worth catching right now. I’m very much interested in writing about horses since I don’t know a thing about them, and I’m not sure I’ll use Jutoh yet, but well… maybe the coupon won’t expire.

I still have to read last year’s bundles, so I better settle some kind of reading routine for the next few months! One fiction and one non-fiction book a month, that’s my goal! I’ll start in June since I still have a novel to beta-read, but I hope to be done with it by the end of May or before.

Not really writerly, but you need to read this post by Hugh Howey on Christianity and Homosexuality. Nobody could have said it better than he did. And there are great comments as well. And it goes well with Belgian PM getting married to a man! :)

Cutlure wars invade science fiction – or how someone his trying to rig the Hugo Awards. I’m still behind with finalists of past editions and won’t be voting this year, so… I’ll let them fire away among themselves. SFWA might have opened to indie and self-published, but I’m still not one of them, so…

Last writerly link – on book designing. I might hire one sooner or later. At the moment I’m already in the red… maybe when the publisher site is up, I’ll add links to those services that I try, since I can’t really do it on my own – not forever! :)

Have a great week!

Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise

My name is Brenda de Zorig and I’m a journalist for the Konigtown Gazette. I’ve been on the road for years as an actress in an itinerant company, but eventually decided to go back to my hometown to start living of the thing I like the most – writing. So while I write my Masterpiece, I took this job at the Gazette and they send me on various assignments… I thought I might as well starting interviewing random people. Since I intend to write fiction, but truth is always stranger than fiction, I’m eager to hear about people out there – on my world or beyond.

We have two people here today… Two handsome, mysterious men… Let’s start with the younger. Tell me a little about yourself

My name is Zafar Nagarkar, but the galaxy got to know me as Zaphadin, the king of music. I’m thirty-five now and I retired from the spotlight – at least with that stage name. I might come back with my real name for other artistic endeavors. I love dancing and singing, but I’m a complete entertainer, so I wouldn’t mind try acting as well.

Describe your appearance in ten words or less.

Brown curls and bedroom eyes… Boneless body when I dance!

Do you have an enemy or nemesis? If so, who are they and how did they become an enemy?

Besides myself, I guess my mighty manager Dahumada became the enemy. I trusted him too much and he squeezed the life out of me, giving me a complete nervous breakdown. I was young when I met him, and he promised me fame and fortune… and he did give it to me, but…

Would you kill for those you love? And would you die for them?

I’m a meek Ypsilantian man, I couldn’t kill anyone. And I’m very queasy in the presence of blood. As for dying for the ones I love… I was very close to attempt suicide, but never found the courage to do it.

Where do you live?

On Marc’harid, the former Imperial planet. I was born on Ypsilanti, lived fifteen years on Vilas Lok – when I was in the music business – and now I’ve retired on Marc’harid, preparing for my next projects.

Are you involved in a relationship? If so, with who and what is it about them that you find appealing?

Yes! Although I almost lost him! He was my professor at university, I fell in love with him at nineteen. He was with me when I started my music career, but soon I got carried away and completely forgot him. He’s the only one I ever loved – he’s older than me and can be a father, a brother, a lover… and he writes marvelous song lyrics and stories and… can you tell that I adore him? I’m going to marry him!

What is the biggest challenge you face in the story?

Get out of the celebrity machine. Ten years of struggles before I could actually be free.

Do you have a family? Tell me about them.

I’m the third of three children. My elder sister Jaya has always been my supporter. My mother opposed my dreams at first, but when she saw how I came alive on stage (at Jaya’s wedding), she forgave me and allowed me to be what I wanted to be – even though on Ypsilanti men don’t have much freedom.

Please give me an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.

I think I said it all in my autobiography…

ZaphadinDTFAll right, I guess we’ll have to read the book then… Let’s hear your partner, here. Tell me a little about yourself

My name is Rashaun Khanna, I’m a professor of Ypsilantian culture. I lost my post at Lycoris University to follow Zafar in his dream, so I became a writer. I still do some teaching to make ends meet, but most of my income is royalties from the stories I write.

Describe your appearance in ten words or less.

Tall and dark-haired.

What is your role in the story?

I was Zafar’s manager until Dahumada walked into our lives. Zafar was a wedding singer and a model who wanted so much more… So we followed Dahumada to Vilas Lok, where at first he hired me to write Zafar’s songs and then did his best to throw me out of Zafar’s life. He succeeded – keeping us apart for ten years.

What is your relationship with the protagonist?

I absolutely adore him. Who wouldn’t? He’s so handsome and sweet and… I wasn’t much older than my students when I met him, and I’ve had another student coming at me, but only Zafar swept me away. I couldn’t resist him.

Where do you live?

Ypsilanti, except for the brief stay on Vilas Lok. I was there only for five of Zafar’s fifteen-years career. Then I went home. Well, of course now we both moved to Marc’harid, but that’s another story.

What is the biggest challenge you face in the story?

He let me go – apparently forgot me for his career. But ten years later he came back, drained, and as soon as I lay my eyes on him, I knew he was still the only man I wanted to spend my life with. I had found someone else by then, but Aryan immediately knew he couldn’t compete with Zafar. Zafar owns my heart since he was nineteen.


King of Music – Zaphadin (the true story of the man behind the myth)

He loved to entertain his friends with songs and dance moves. And one day at a wedding banquet he met the manager who made him a galactic phenomenon – he can dance, he can sing, he can entertain you like nobody else, he’s the king of the music business! During his fifteen years career, the star of Zaphadin kept rising in popularity while at the same time the man’s morale plummeted into desperation. That’s why at the height of his fame, he walked away from it all.

Random Friday

Reading post – sort of! I gave up Varney the Vampire – definitely a 19th century book where people ejaculate instead of exclaiming and other funny stuff. Which brings me to today’s rant – what makes me put down a book. Please note my point of view is from an ESL reader. If you’re also an ESL reader, leave your comments at the bottom: what annoys you the most when you’re reading a book in English and it’s not your mother tongue?

Okay, here are my pet peeves in no particular order. I won’t say which books I did not finish, so this is all very generic. And I’m talking about contemporary novels now – what turns me off an author and makes me decide to put down the book and not finish it (unless bound by beta-reading duty) or finish it but never buy another book again from the same author?

Chat/Twitter English. I was quite baffled in the 1990s when I got my letters from America (you know, good old snail mail?) and someone wrote “How RU? GR8!” It’s less annoying these days since I understand better those acronyms or whatever it is those things are called, but it’s still a minus on the book’s chart.

Accents and weird spelling in dialog. It doesn’t make your character’s voice more distinctive, it makes it unintelliglible to me. And especially if the badly speaking character is passing on some vital info on the plot, it very much annoys me.

Purple and flowery prose. Boring. Also, if I don’t understand what’s going on because the plot is too obscure, I won’t read your story. I’m sorry, literary fiction and other plotless books are not for my tastes. (But I also DNF some sci-fi stories, maybe even Hugo nominated, because I couldn’t follow what was going on for various reasons).

Typos or bad formatting that turn the sentence into something unclear or utterly unreadable. Omophones used badly (principle/principal being the most misused in the books I’ve read so far). Once it’s a typo, twice maybe the author needs to find a better proofreader, 3 times – the author and the proof-reader know less English than I do!

I might finish your book if the story is interesting enough, but I won’t buy another title from you, thinking I’ll have to go through the hassle again (just happened – book finished in two days, 4stars for the story, 2 for the typos. And I’m not reviewing books anymore, so no names here either. It’s a standalone but also third of a series – I’m not going to check the other two books).

And I’m skipping the wrong spelling of the words our emigrants took to the other side of the world in the 20th century because I’m trying to be nice. I love English, or I wouldn’t be reading in English so much, but sometimes even the natives don’t seem to know what they’re doing, and it’s very frustrating.

Culture-specific description and brand-naming. America might think it’s the center of the world and everything you have or do is also everywhere else. Sorry, no. And it’s not just something trivial like telling me a character has a Prius or whatever (I can’t tell a Toyota from a Ford, so it’s false detail to me), it’s using brands to name things. I won’t go googling to see what the hell is a Twinkie (okay, I know that one, but I hope you get what I mean).

If I get too confused by the useless details, I’ll just put down the book and not finish it. Sometimes false details (or more generic descriptions) help whoever reads in English as second language. Some times too specific description gets lost on foreigners. And I do know quite a lot about America, since I have many American friends… Just sayin’.

And now my final two questions:

1) if you’re an ESL reader, what do you like or dislike of English prose?

2) if you’re a native English speaker, do you read foreign authors translated into English? Do you notice any difference in the way they tell their stories?

Wishing you a great weekend! :)

Writer Wednesday

Mmm… is Amazon getting desperate with all those of us who refuse to use that button that is now so prominent in the new dashboard?

KDPdashboardSorry, Amazon, not going exclusive, thank you… the other retailers’ sales might be abysmal today, but I’m not giving up on them! ;) BTW, only the first page is changed, the rest is more or less the same…

So, the new title is OUT everywhere I upload to – Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble, DriveThruFiction, Kobo and Smashwords in strict alphabetical order! King of Music – Zaphadin is a Star Minds novella, although the main characters of the series are barely visible… but if you’ve read SMNG Kay-low, you know who this is! :)

ZaphadinDTFKing of Music – Zaphadin (the true story of the man behind the myth)

He loved to entertain his friends with songs and dance moves. And one day at a wedding banquet he met the manager who made him a galactic phenomenon – he can dance, he can sing, he can entertain you like nobody else, he’s the king of the music business! During his fifteen years career, the star of Zaphadin kept rising in popularity while at the same time the man’s morale plummeted into desperation. That’s why at the height of his fame, he walked away from it all.

Draft Zero of the Desi vampire is done, I’m waiting for a couple of books to make a more realistic setting. I’m almost done with the Strength Workshop, and it seems I don’t have that many strenghts, LOL!

But the weaknesses were confirmed, so I’m trying to put more setting in my stories. Beta-readers will still have to be patient with me, since I still write the bones first and add in setting and descriptions on the second pass. But since those passages bore me as a reader, I tend to skip them as a writer. So the very first draft will be rougher than expected anyway.

Anyhow, if you still need someone to help you concentrate or remind you to dream big, there you go. And if you want to be prolific – there’s David Farland and Dean Wesley Smith. In spite of being bummed by the oucome, I highly recommend Dean’s online workshops. I might take a couple more later this year. Since it’s the year of working on craft more than publishing! ;)

And I’m a stage 3 writer – somewhere in that lobby, seeing those stairs and wondering what’s upstairs. I don’t have any of the mentioned problems and I am learning, so… I’ll get upstairs eventually. And if you want to know what’s the best way to support your favorite authors (including yours truly, if you’re just a reader), head over @ Hugh Howey’s blog. Words of wisdom once again.

To finish this post, the Top 5 Dumbest Business Practises in Publishing! :) I haven’t forgotten the importance of POD books, but I’m waiting until I have two to format and order, so the next printed titles will come out some time in June… After I spend a few days at an Italian fair (book fair? Comicon? Dunno yet. First time con and maybe they don’t know either! ;) ) and will let you know how it goes…

Have a great week!

Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise

And it’s a guest! Author of the Month on Goodreads, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Jorden Leonard!

Book-1---sWhere do you live and write from?

Portland, Oregon. In a corner of the unfinished basement of a 1920’s bungalow that my wife lets me claim. My little man cave.

Why do you write?

So I can rationalize my rate of pop culture consumption and also self-therapy.

When did you start writing?

As a hobby the summer after college in 1998. Right from the start I wrote in present tense, as I explain here.

What genre(s) do you write?

Sci fi, always sci fi even if it reads like fantasy if you go deep enough it is based on a sci fi setting.

What does your writing routine consist of?

When I’m being good. Drop off son at bus stop. Hurry back. Write for an hour and a half and then go to work.

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

I develop vibrant settings within which the characters can interact honestly. It takes time and good organization to keep such complexity from turning on itself for lack of consistency.

I’ve created several wikis, dozens of spreadsheets and documents, and countless hand written or drawn aides for my background. Also every story I write is compatible with every other story. They all take place within the same overarching setting.

I can write poetically and intend to develop a talent for vocalizing my work as audio companions to the written.

Here is a link to my first audio attempt with an early draft of a short chapter I’m working on.

Good writing and a good setting aren’t enough to make a good book. I’m focusing now on melding these qualities with good characters and storytelling. I’ve got to get readers to care about the characters and not get bored or confused with details.

I use Wattpad and Figment to put up work in progress and get feedback from other writers.

Book-2---sWhere do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?

I consume a lot of pop culture in an effort to stay in tune with our modern mythology. I almost exclusively write in present tense and have the story running like a video in my head while I type.

I put caricatures of people I know into my stories, but never intentionally myself as a character.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

More of an improviser, but in waves where an early draft can effectively serve as an outline. I try to have the larger story worked out and then let the details sort themselves out in a way that makes the most sense as I write.

I’m now effectively slow because of time constraints. It takes me a bit to get into the flow of writing, but on the rare occasions when I do have a large block of time in a day I can write rather rapidly.

Tell us about your latest book

Destiny’s Hand is my first and only published book. It is the keystone for everything else that I’m working on. It introduces a setting on a generation spaceship where there is a power struggle that spans the confines of the physical ship and the virtual universe it spawns.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

Self-publishing. With the advent of online publishing it is not just a valid choice for me, it is the best choice. I keep the majority from a book sale. I can make it available to everyone as soon as it is done. I am responsible for everything, which forces me to become more savvy about everything.

Success or failure, it’s all on me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

seekercover3sAny other projects in the pipeline?

Yes, Ranger Of Path is my current focus.

I was thinking Seeker of Truth would be my second published book, but I found the story getting too complicated and paused it so I could go back in time and present important backstory as another book.

I also have a blog that I update with family and writing related posts.

I am sporadically active with that depending on where I am with my writing. At the moment since I restarted with a new book I’m behind enough that it will be a few months before I likely put up a new post.

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

I want to be read and respected. I am trying to improve my storytelling without leaving the depth of my stories behind.

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

People don’t care about ideas, but they might care about a man with an idea.

wavyvWhere to find Jorden:

Random Friday

Total randomness… Thanks to the two friends who voted in the poll. I think I’m going to do like in this case: Killer Advice (which was a recommended reading last year in case you missed it). So both names on the cover of Rajveer the Vampire. Not because B.G. Hope is published by another publisher, but because it’s easier for me.

I don’t have to change everything on ebook retailers – and she even has a printed book out. Body Switches is still selling its 1 or 2 copies a month, so I’d rather not touch it. So now I have a shorter title, but two author’s names, haha! I know, my cover artist will dump me now! And I’ll have to use my own mock cover and will end up on Lousy Book Covers again! ;)

I’m reading more 19th century vampire stories. The Vampyre was very short (and quite dreadful). Now I’m deep into Varney the Vampire, but mine are definitely different. Hopefully I created my own mythology and even if I decide to write the screenplay and structure it like Interview with the Vampire, it won’t look at all like Ann Rice’s! ;)

Speaking of reading, please go and take this survey. Even if you’re a writer, you should also be a reader, so just go and do it! ;) It’s not just for romance readers, so go ahead and fill it…

I hope this weekend to do another pencil portrait along with more strips… I know, I know, I should finish S.K.Y.B.A.N.D. first, but mushy brain goes well with bad drawing hand, so I better screw Me & Da Muses than the final chapter of the graphic novel! ;) (Also because the strips have NO BACKGROUND whatsoever, so they’re much easier to do than a full comic book page, LOL!)

Did I mention I have mushy brain? So, I wish you a wonderful weekend, hoping next week I’ll feel better…


Writer Wednesday

And there’s a sale at DriveThruFiction! Apparently May is Science Fiction Month, so check the deals over there. My Star Minds titles are also discounted during that time! (the adult filter is probably on, so you’ll need to log in to see all the results) I also got myself in the Featured Product window – I took a screenshot so you don’t have to wait! ;)

SM2015MaySaleDTFAnother story will come out soon as well, but newest titles are not discounted (in fact SMNG – Kay-low is still full price). Yes, it’s Star Minds month for publishing, so… I’m glad I decided to publish my science fantasy during the science fiction month! ;)

And it’s the first Wednesday of May, so update on writing wordcount. In the first four months of the year I wrote a grand total of 175000words. Should be a novel, but it’s not. It’s 1 short novel (Star Minds Next Generation) + 1 collection (SMNG Diaries) + SMNG Chasing Stardom that account for 150K and another 25K in shorts and novellas I’m not going to publish yet.

The most productive month was January with 60K, the least April – and not only because I had a week off in London. I wrote only 25K because I was busy rewriting and reading and researching. But last week I wrote 11K and I’m still deep in the Desi vampire writing. It will probably become a short novel, instead of a novella – so, longer than the usual pieces under that pen name.

And it’s historical fantasy, so I’m really really wondering if I should drop that pen name. I wish you voted in my poll. I see it moves around when I repost it, so the older posts might look weird to someone coming in late. Anyhow, I’m reposting it here. Please feel free to choose #3, it’s totally anonymous!

Out of 500 blog followers and 250 Facebook fans I can’t believe I have only a couple of votes! Why are you coming to this blog in the first place? :( To follow my writerly links? Really?

Okay, go check what Picasso, King and Einstein have to teach entrepreneurs. See at what stage you are as a writer – One or Two or… the rest will come out later. Or, if you’re a reader, go buy one of my books. If you’re a writer, go back to writing and don’t bother coming back here. Apply Einlein rules and stop procrastinating on the internet.

Which reminds me I have a short novel to finish. Have a great week! :)


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