Writer Wednesday


I have added a couple of rewards (at the lower tiers) for writers. So if you’d like to hear some tips or experiences or other writerly stuff by yours truly, you can do so by supporting me on Patreon. If you’re just a reader who enjoy my fiction (bless you), you have even more choices. Either way I’d greatly appreciate it, even if you pledge only 1$ a month! 🙂

Last week of may and I’m prepping for the Novel Challenge while writing a fan fiction – clearly a crossover between vampires mythologies! 😉 I won’t say anything about it, but anyone familiar with my vampires will recognize my submission when it goes live. The voting is anonymous, so feel free to vote for somebody else, LOL!

This week writerly links. A hot steaming sack of business advice for writers by Chuck Wendig. Although I should take him off my blogroll, since he enjoys hunting unicorns. The Lady of the Unicorn, here, can’t really allow that, can she? 😉 And you probably all know that I don’t agree on anything about agents, but if that’s your thing…

I’m still studying the series about branding. That homework is tricky, though. It will need some percolating in my slow mind. I think I said 2011 was the year of the Sloth, but this year things got even worse, haha! 🙂 I have worked on a cover this weekend, and I’m keeping the fonts consistent for the series and sub-series (like you can see in the Silvery Earth trailer, each sub-series had a different font and frame).

If you still need some motivation, and while you wait for my own post on the topic (I hope I can write my own in 3 to 5 years, but I’m not there yet, haha!), here’s 20 things learned from writing full-time for three years. Wait, I actually do write full time (except for those wasted hours at the part-time office chair), but I don’t earn a living from it… mm, complicated stuff.

Anyway, if you need a boost on productivity but don’t want to pay an online workshop, that post is excellent advice. And don’t get depressed when you read “You’re going to get hacked!” or someone’s frustration and disappointment. Re: Amazon (I guess that author went through this Amazon Alert and decided to back out of it) I also had problems with them in the past.

When I was publishing SKYBAND with Lulu, I had someone selling it on Amazon without buying it from me at 100$ (a 10$ single issue) and the representatives weren’t really helpful. One of my ebooks is still in Draft form because they didn’t receive my copyright ownership and had blocked my KDP account.

Life is too short to worry about pirates and Amazon and whatnot. Like I said more than once, I might one day give up publishing and start another kind of business, keeping my writing private and/or for my few readers. One day. I’m still trying to think long term. It can’t be considered a career until 10 years have gone by, and they have not. Not yet. They’re flying by, but I still have a few years of experiments and attempts at finding my readership.

Ending on a non-writerly note because Da Muses’ alerts were kinda funny lately for opposite reasons. One is reknown for his immortality (yeah, right) hence the only 50+ worth watching and the other was given for dead at 43… I’m sorry I missed that Facebook hoax! 😀

Hoping I made at least the ladies smile with the last paragraph, I wish you a wonderful week! 🙂

Random Friday


From Dave Farland’s newsletter – Science fiction fans, please take this survey! I did, even though I admit I had trouble finding books in those categories… but I’m not a strong sci-fi reader. Not yet! Now I even downloaded the Hugo nominees, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to read them. And I’m supposed to vote. Sigh.

I had my fangirl moment when I received Colleen Doran’s envelope… I donated that money 2 years ago, I think! I knew she was sending out stuff now, but still it was a wonderful surprise! 😉

And to finish on total randomness… I watched another DVD inbetween stories. La graine et le mulet (a.k.a Couscous) was an interesting take on immigrants – north-Africans in France to be clear. A very realistic movie, kinda slow (actually, very slow, 2h30 of close-ups…) with a not so clear ending that left me a little disappointed.

It made me realize how too many close-ups are jarring, and I’ll try to remember it when I write, since I also tend to focus on the character(s) and forget the setting. Might have been because none of the characters had an interesting (for me) face I could just watch even if it were a still picture or maybe it’s totally true that it’s better to back off some time to give the reader a better view.

And the belly dance at the end… a twenty-year-old with such a belly bump made me wonder if she was pregnant, and if that was part of the movie! Too many unanswered questions in this “slice of life” story for my tastes… And I was falling asleep on the extras, so I just gave up on the whole thing, haha!

Have a great weekend! 😀

Random Friday


On the long weekend of May 1st, I finally found the time to unwrap and watch Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata that I bought, like, 10 years ago in Turin but hadn’t dared watching for its length. Being a TV mini-series, it’s structured in three parts, so I managed to watch the three chunks during the weekend.

Besides the fact that the only Indian actress is Mallika Sarabhai playing Draupadi (and having watched the extras where she explained what the Mahabharata means to Indians and how she made sure no Indian would be ashamed of this work), and that the writer and director stuck to a very teatrical version (it’s based on a stage-play, and in spite of what the director says in the extras, they didn’t really take advantage of the slightly different media – even though it was 1989, the could have had better VFX… 😉 ), I have my own “version” in mind, the abridged, illustrated version of my childhood that was pretty much lost in that version, except for a scene or two.

“Indian Tales”

And even those scenes that reminded me of that old version – take the fight of Bhima with Hidimba… in the movie the exile is with Draupadi, in my book, as you can see from the illustration to the left, the exile is with his brothers (only 2 of them, without the twins present in the movie) and his mother…

Not to mention the international cast feels like watching Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing where Denzel is Keanu’s brother… half-brother… whatever, I doubt Shakespeare had a black man in mind when he wrote it (nothing at all against Denzel, since he’s a wonderful, great, actor, I just thought he was miscast in that movie, but that’s just me! 😉 ).

I also found it quite colorless… definitely not like a Bollywood movie, haha! 😀 And again, it felt like a filmed stage-play, more than a TV-movie or 6-hours-long film.

Now, I understand it’s no easy feat to adapt the epic, since it has so many versions and it’s so convoluted. I’ll probably watch the Indian version that will come out in a couple of years too, regardless of who will be in it, just out of curiosity, but still… I’m not Indian, but I have my own idea of what that story is, so I might be disappointed again! 😉

Have a great weekend! 🙂

Writer Wednesday


While on the train to Milan I had plenty of time to think (and to read, but that’s a topic for another post) and tried to express how my way of writing changed in the 21st century. So here goes:

Before 2015: first drafts (or Draft Zero like I called them) were written longhand with almost no corrections by the seat of my pants. I did the research (ex. for historical novels) and then wrote. Then I typed everything in the computer, rewriting as needed so that I’d have a clean draft. I type with 10 fingers, so that wasn’t the hard part. There were no hard parts, since I’ve been a one-draft writer for the whole 20th century and started redrafting only after reading that I was supposed to do that. Wordcount was available only after publication at that point.

After 2015: I started typing Draft Zero and cycling through the first draft. I had a writing netbook with internet access and could stop and Google anything from a translation, a word check to anything else needed. Then I synched with Laptop through Dropbox. I was then able to figure out how much I wrote every year in real time. Like I said in previous posts, I wrote 450K in 2015 and 470K in 2016.

Now Netbook is dead, so the same applies to Laptop. Except it has considerably slowed me down, especially with contemporary or historical works, because I’d stop and fact-check for almost every scene. What might have been quick with SFF became a longer process, mostly because I can’t read on screen and need to print out and highlight manually.

I love ebooks, but not for non-fiction/research. So I might be less productive this year, but hopefully I’ve reached the upper lever of storytelling. Sometimes I wonder if that happened because I switched languages and stopped rewriting old stuff. And I don’t want to turn off the internet while I write because I use Google translator a lot – and all that research helped me expand my English vocabulary.

When I translate books into Italian, things I wrote even two years ago (when I abused of online generators… ahem…), I cringe. Hopefully when I start translating the latest works, I won’t cringe anymore. And I hope the change it’s not too obvious in series like Vampires Through the Centuries (even though all the books are standalone so far)!

What I mean is – you need to find what works for you, and it might change through the years. I have learned a lot since I joined the indie world and will keep learning. Whether it’s the new language or simply that I started learning again (I will freely admit that I was pretty static in Italian, but in English I had to find my voice, and it’s not exactly the same as it used to be – at least from one of my Italian first reader’s perspective).

I won’t take Dean’s challenge because I already have too many stories to write this year on my list – going “pick me! Pick me!” – and I don’t think they’re all short stories. I mean, I know I can write 30 stories in 30 or 60 days if I put my mind to it, but now is not the right time. I am already prolific, I don’t need this to write more! 😉

I’m leaving you with some writerly links – Chuck Wendig’s advice after 5 years and 20 books: 25 lessons (special mention #1 and #5, the latter being what I discussed above). David Farlands tips – One Impossibility (to keep in mind when writing SFF, haha!). 14 sites for book cover design @Digital Reader. And more business advice from Kris Rusch.

Oh, and I found a neat marketing blog for indie authors that has both podcasts and written posts! Studied the written parts (podcasts don’t hold my attention, unfortunately) and will try to apply some to that ugly beast called Marketing… Take this post on why FB needs to do something with those darn pages! Until a few years ago, FB gave the option of choosing if one wanted to be herself or the author.

This no longer applies. I was able to attend a FB party a couple of years ago *waves at Joleene* because I simply switched to the author ID. This year it was a nightmare and my private profile showed up a couple of times. Also, this year I’ve seen an option to create groups from the page. But the page still can’t join groups except the one she/it creates…

More coming bundles: Writers bundle @Storybundle and Faery Summer bundle coming soon @Bundle Rabbit. Now I’m heading back to my writing cave to ponder the next bundle and write the next story… Have a great week! 🙂

 

Random Friday


So, the Easter weekend I needed a break from the publishing and some inspiration for the writing… hence I started on the DVDs ToWatch pile. First I watched Monsoon Wedding. Mira Nair was Indian cinema for me before Gurinder Chadha and the discovery of Bollywood. I loved her movies, but stopped following her more or less when MW came out in 2001.

I found it at 3£ in London last year, and I’m glad I saw if now… After visiting Delhi and so many more movies with Indian weddings and KNPH (which I would have totally missed back then – a movie called “kaho naa…” what?). I definitely liked it, and enjoyed the extra with the director talking about the Punjabi community of Delhi…

Then I watched Bhaji on the Beach, another 3£ DVD from last summer, another Gurinder Chadha dramedy. Definitely the end of 20th century, with no cell phones and no internet to distract us! And I liked all the intertwined stories of the various women of various ages and their interactions with men – both British and Indian.

I also re-watched Target for inspiration, and then managed to finish the story! 😉 Although Target is definitely an 80s movie. Some nostalgia hit – no cell phones, no internet, how did we survive that? 😉 Well, we’re Generation X, I guess! Or, like my friend Fulvio says, we’re unique (he’s not totally a Millennial and I’m not totally a Baby Boomer, and we’re not Gen.X either… but then, we’re Jedi twins – 18 years apart! 😉 LOL)…

Anyhow, have a great weekend! 😀

Random Friday


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend! 🙂

Random Friday


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer Wednesday


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Surprise


#MYFIRSTPOSTREVISITED

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

My First Post Revisited!

Here we come to the rules:

Obvious rules:

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

Other rules:

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

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

Hello world!

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

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

Barbara

it means barbarian woman

it is the number 5

it is a mountain lake

it is daydreaming and drawing

it is the memory of Sara

the first true friend

my name is Barbara

it means stranger

in a strange land.

__________________________________

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

Have a great Sunday! 🙂

Random Friday


This will be quite short too because l’m still doing it on my phone’s tiny keyboard…

I wanted to upload short videos, but this won’t support MP4… so photo gallery only… Oregon landscapes…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Oh, and here’s my shopping cart… The pads go very well with the book! 🙂

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