Writer Wednesday


Aaand… UPB has a new tagline, with special thanks to webmaster and illustrator Silvano Beltramo! Stay tuned for more changes on the publisher’s page

I might have to renew some of my own things soon, since the other day Open Office crashed without saving the few paragraphs of the new story… so I’m eyeing Netbooks, since they seem to be around again. When Techie Bro’s Netbook (a.k.a. the Writing Computer) broke, I was left without and after the other day I had gone back to write longhand for Draft Zero! I was so mad at the darn Laptop!

Still have to think if I want to move on to Windows 10 or get a Netbook with Ubuntu like Techie Bro’s. We’ll see. Might be an investment for next year. Just another thing to do on the To Do list, haha! But it’s not a “should” it’s a “want to” do thing, since it’s for the Writer.

Because yes, we need to have two hats. And I’m putting the publisher’s hat a little aside next year, because I want to write and find other income sources that don’t depend on me selling or not selling my writing. So, more submissions to traditional mags of short stories, and less of that darn publishing stuff.

Of course I’ll keep putting the works out, since it’s the only way to be discovered, but maybe at a less daunting pace (twice a month is a lot, even for a prolific writer like me). I’m going to try pre-orders in a different way from what I’ve done now, I’m going to try that branding thing with future titles and I’m going to keep experimenting and see what works for me.

And I must talk about bundles again because, guess what? SALES SALES SALES! 🙂

Da vampires bundle is discounted from tomorrow to Cyber Monday, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving. And First Glimpse of Secondary Worlds is discounted until the end of the month, when it will be gone forever. So last chances to have a taste of 12 different fantasy worlds from 11 awesome authors and yours truly.

And in case you missed it, on the KWL blog I explain how to be a curator at BundleRabbit. Now I’m going to spend the weekend with online workshops so I can move on with my learning and write the next story! 🙂 Have a great week!

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Random Friday


I’ve been reading Book 1 of Stella Rimington’s series because it’s the only one of the samples I downloaded that actually grabbed me. And it’s set in England, with MI5, which is what I need to finish that spy story. And she’s a former MI5, so she knows what she’s talking about! 🙂

And I think for the first time I was  a reader/writer. I mean, as a reader I reacted and then the writer said “Hey, that’s exactly what you’ve been taught in those online workshops!” And the thing is: you don’t hide things from the reader. You can hide them from the character, but the reader must know!

That’s why I like multiple point-of-views books and I hate first person. You get only one side of the story (and most of those other samples were “I stories”). I downloaded the sample of Dame Stella Rimington’s autobiography too, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to it. As much as I’d love to read the whole Liz Carlyle in one sitting, I know I can’t, I’m too slow  reader to binge read like that.

Besides, I still have plenty of bundles to read! Here’s a quick rundown of the bundles I’m currently in (and I’m still going through the first, so I’m afraid the others will be in next year’s end-of-the-year recommended reading post, sigh!).

First glimpse of secondary worlds (curated by me, will be gone next month)

Sci-fi July Fever Fun (curated by me, there will be more sales coming soon)

Love Magik’s Glow

More Than Human

Cyborg City

Dragon Tales

Sword Wielders

Vampires of the World (curated by me, sale coming soon)

Mythic Tales

Cats Cats Cats

Funny by Design

So, there you have it! Plenty to choose from… mostly SFF, but not all! 🙂 If you love cats or if you feel blue, the last two would be perfect! Happy reading and have a great weekend!

Writer Wednesday


So! New title out just for Tori, so she can read the rest of the fall of the southern kingdoms! I’ll make a one volume version whenever the cover artist delivers the cover. I need her to complete the sub-series about the southern kingdoms, but then I’ll probably give up asking her. Friends are friends are friends, but they tend to put you at the end of the line, so…

Luckily I found another couple of cover artists who are faster and better. Besides Federica Manfredi, who will do the Silvery Earth Heroines covers and has already started on the next one, there’s another wonderful lady that I found on DeviantART and her great artwork will soon be revealed.

I’m redrafting a short novel or novella that should be no longer around (it might still be at some retailer, but hopefully by the time the new version comes out it will have vanished everywhere) and giving the last touches to the first Post-Apocalypse Chronicle book. Wait for these Future Earth books to show up on retailers before the end of the year. A new kind (for me) of sci-fi! 😉

And I joined #Instafreebie, where you can currently find 3 free short stories: The Painter, Guisarme and Half-blood. Go claim your copy if you haven’t read them already. And feel free to share those links with your friends!

Now, I’m starting to go through the transcripts of the Smart Author Podcast. I know, I should just listen, but listening to people talk without visuals… not me. I can watch an online workshop with videos, but podcasts… not my cup of tea, sorry. But since there are those very useful transcripts… there you go! I get to read a little, LOL! 😀

If you were thinking of doing some online workshops, there’s a special offer right now. I still have two classic workshops to do after the Novel Challenge, but you shouldn’t miss this opportunity. And I was at the offline workshop Think Like a Publisher in 2011… now you don’t need to travel to the Oregon Coast to do it anymore! 🙂

If you’re looking to replace Pronoun, here’s a useful link. Also, Draft2Digital distributes to Amazon, and they’ve been overwhelmed by requests – as per their email – but they’re still very fast in answering any query.

Now look what Joe Konrath came up with. Interactive ebooks – almost. Which has reminded me of a project I had that went to the backburner. Maybe next year I’ll finally get down to it. It will be different from this one, but hopefully as much fun.

And some interesting posts on KWL blog, like marketing group effort, or be a smart indie… They also have podcasts, like Joanna Penn, but like I said above, it’s not my cup of tea… feel free to check them! 🙂 Have a great week!

Writer Wednesday


Sorry I skipped the Random Friday, but it was a weekend full of excerpts! Hope you enjoyed them and headed to get the bundle from your favorite retailer. It was great sharing the blog with all those great authors. One more author interview to come, then moving on.

Last chance to get Shashank at 4.99$. Tomorrow the price will go up. I also uploaded a Star Minds sampler at 99c for whoever doesn’t know my science fantasy saga and would like a taste of it. The taste is clean, but as  stated at the end of the sample, some books are adult only. Since they’re standalone, you won’t miss much if you skip a story or a couple of books (namely, read only book 1 of the Trilogy if you want clean stuff and skip one story in Star Minds Snippets).

Unfortunately i-Users won’t be able to try the lovely D2D template I used for this latest ebook, since Apple doesn’t allow “samplers”, “teasers” or other such things, even though they include complete books. So you better grab your e-pub elsewhere! 😉

On all the books at the publisher’s page you will see only one link to the ebooks. That’s because I spent a good part of Sunday and Monday activating the universal links at Books2Read – they’re even geotagged (in fact I deleted all my Booklinker links and won’t be using that account anymore)!

If you want help in setting this useful thingy up, here’s an how to post. Like they say in the FAQs for authors, you should get one even if your enrolled in KU, since the link is geotagged so you don’t need to give all the Amazon stores links or go to bit.ly or other services. Get them even if you don’t have a Draft2Digital account – my vampires books are not on Draft2Digital because only Smashwords allows assetless pre-orders, so I imported them into B2R with the Smashwords link.

Some smaller places would probably have to be added by hand, like DriveThruFiction or (for my Italian titles) Feltrinelli. But there are already 28 stores supported, I’m sure they’ll add more. For example now I have even the WHSmith links on some books, although I admit I have no idea which distributor sends to them! 😉 I even have some books at Angus&Robertson Selling Books to Australians Since 1886! 😀

With all this publishing stuff and housekeeping, I’m not writing much, but I intend to catch up next week when I go back to DayJob, LOL! My newsletter went out last week (someone reading this blog hasn’t opened it yet, please check it out, thank you) and already I’m changing my mind on some things.

I mentioned I intended to publish Da Strip, but I won’t, because it’s too personal and funny only for me. So I’ll find something else to fill the pages of my mag. I do want to draw more, but I still have to think about what I’m going to do. I’m definitely slowing down the publishing to concentrate on writing next year.

It will be my 40th anniversary after all! Been married to Mr Writing since the summer of 1978, to the dismay of the prospective boyfriends who had no idea of what was going on, haha! So next year I plan to write more, publish less and read more, since I have all those bundles to catch up on.

Speaking of bundles, this one is going to be fun – starting from the title. Funny by Design will come out on the 13th, but it’s already available for pre-orders at the usual suspects. And look at the company again! So, short summary of the latest bundles (out in November only):

Mythic Tales

Cats Cats Cats

Funny by Design.

The first two both include my book Beautiful, Funny by Design has Pat&Babs, the third and for now last body switch.

Oh, and Axelle, Wanderer is available both in ebook and paperback! Have a great week! 🙂

 

Vampires of the World Weekend Part 2


My flesh ignited with the sweetness of the drink, the sweetness and the saltiness and the pure, tawny wholeness of it.  I could feel the rough ridges where my pantyhose had run as I stumbled through the hallway — when was it?  A lifetime ago?  I could feel a hangnail on my right thumb, sense it tingle before it closed itself up, before it disappeared.

And I could feel the mangled mess beneath my jaw.  My torn vein was weaving itself together, knitting itself back to health.  The flow of blood was restored beneath my skin, and the smooth stretch of my neck was new again.

With the healing came full awareness.  Full comprehension.  I knew that I was on a leather sofa.  That I was cradled against a body.  Arms were wrapped around me, holding me close, spoon fashion.  My face was pressed against one of those arms, against a smooth, muscular wrist.  My lips were suckling at the edges of a wound.

I was drinking Mr. Morton’s blood.

I pulled back, horrified.  My motion, though, only moved me closer to his chest, closer to the body that sheltered me, that protected me.  Closer to the vampire who was my boss.  “Let me go!” I demanded, but I was still too dazed to put actions to words, to actually push myself away from him.

In a moment,” he said, and his words reverberated along the length of my spine.

I should have been petrified.  I should have fought for freedom, given my life to escape to the human world, to the sane world, to the normalcy that waited somewhere outside this office.  But the energy inside me — the alien blood inside me — soothed me, calmed me as if it were a drug.  I sank back, dazed by the sensation that all was right, that I was safe.

I licked my lips, and I realized that the blood carried information.  I knew things that I’d only imagined an hour before.  A lifetime before.  I understood vampires — who they were, what they did, how they lived, year after year after year, forever, unless they were killed.

Vulnerable to silver:  check, as I’d already witnessed back in the courtroom.

Destroyed by sunlight:  check, if “destroyed” meant increasingly severe burns tied to the length of exposure, culminating in brutal, cindery death.

Killed by stake:  check, but only with a direct blow to the heart, with a weapon made of oak.

Teleporting, mind-reading, turning into a mist:  nope, nothing that cinematic.

Garlic, crosses, and other pathetic human folk remedies to protect against fangs:  forget about it.

Vampires didn’t need to sleep in coffins, and they didn’t salvage earth from some distant homeland.  They did require an explicit invitation before they could cross the threshold of a home.  And somehow, creepiest of all, they had no reflection — not in a mirror.

All of that was crystal clear inside my head.  All of that, and one more fact:  vampire blood healed humans.  Healed humans completely, from whatever physical harm we suffered, from whatever illnesses our weak, flawed bodies harbored.

Vampire blood had brought me back from the very brink of death.

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The door jerked open and Jorick stood in the doorway, framed in a glaring blaze of light. His black hair was wild about his face. Blood splattered across his pale features and his dark eyes were filled with anger. As if to make the scene more surreal, he brandished a bloodstained sword.

Without a word, he pulled her from her attacker and threw her behind himself. The intruder lunged and Jorick lashed out at him with the blade.

Katelina’s screams had stopped, replaced by someone else’s. She looked around to find the basement bathed in the brilliant light of flames. The pile of wooden crates looked like a miniature bonfire, as did a screaming man. He danced around and tried to beat out the fire that engulfed him. Two bodies lay slumped some distance from him, face down on the basement floor. Dark puddles spread beneath them.

A new cry sounded and Katelina looked in time to see the attacker in the corridor fall. Jorick paused indecisively over his body, and then quickly turned away.

Come on!” He grabbed Katelina’s arm and tugged her after him. The wooden beams above their heads began to catch fire and the thick smoke rolled against the ceiling.

The stairs,” she cried and pointed desperately to their only escape.

No. There are more of them upstairs. This way.”

He pulled her to another padlocked door. Though he didn’t bother with his keys, he only kicked the door to shreds in one smooth motion and dashed though it. The darkness quickly swallowed them as the tunnel twisted and turned, going ever upwards. Katelina glanced over her shoulder time and again, eyes scratching the darkness for signs of pursuers, but she saw nothing.

At last Jorick stopped. He released her hand and threw open a trap door above them. Cool moonlight spilled down into the corridor and she shrank back from it.

Jorick pulled himself through the opening. He motioned for her to stay where she was, then disappeared from her sight. He was back in a moment, crouched at the edge of the opening. “It’s clear, come on.” He held his blood stained hand to her and she took it, too numb to care. He pulled her up into the night where she collapsed on the dewy grass and gasped mouthfuls of fresh air.

We must not linger; we may yet be followed.” He slammed the trapdoor shut and busied himself locking it from the outside.

Katelina sat up and nodded mutely, all of her limbs shaking. She tried desperately to catch her breath and gasped out the question, “Who… who were they?”

Jorick sighed. The moonlight made his skin gleam white and turned the blood splatters into splotches of black. “Vampires,” he said quietly. “They were Vampires. Just like Michael.”

Katelina stared at him for a moment, waiting for the punch line. When one didn’t come she threw back her head and laughed. “Of course they were!” In that moment it seemed the slender thread that separated waking from nightmares had snapped, and she suspected she’d never see a Twinkie again.

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They cut through the untouched snow, circling the ruins of the mansion. Some distance from the back of the house was a grouping of forlorn trees. Dead, heavy moss trailed from their branches, and at their feet were clustered several old gravestones. As if to make the scene complete, a wrought iron fence bordered three sides of the tiny cemetery and thick, thorny vines grew around the stones and onto the trees; old rose bushes waiting for spring.

Man, it’s like a horror movie,” Loren mumbled. Though he shuffled along casually, his hands in his pockets, his eyes darted around nervously. “Hey, you’re sure this isn’t, like, a trap?”

No one would know of this place,” Jorick answered firmly. He came to a stop in the center of the graveyard and waited patiently.

Katelina moved to stand next to him, but a patch of softer earth sank beneath her feet and she jerked back instinctively. The snow rose in a small mound and hinted at something beneath the surface; a fresher grave, perhaps. She glanced to her left and saw a lopsided stone that had four names roughly carved into it. All but one were names she recognized: Jesslynn, Alexander, Tristan, and Bethina. Tristan? Could that have been the baby? And how had he buried them? Had he picked their bones out from the remnants of the fire and dug the hole himself?

The macabre thoughts made her shiver, and she stepped away, instinctively putting space between herself and that grave. Loren glanced at her uncertainly, uncomfortable fears in his eyes. A chill crept up her spine and she imagined a thousand terrible monsters that might be hiding somewhere. But, there were no foot prints; no sign of life at all except the heavy trees and the mournful winter wind.

Loren caught Katelina’s attention and held his hands out questioningly. She shrugged in reply and he cleared his throat to get Jorick’s attention. “Hey, man, I don’t mean any disrespect, but I don’t think-”

Jorick held up a hand to silence him. He pointed to a distant figure that was slowly making its way towards them. Katelina squinted and thought she recognized Oren’s gait.

Sure enough, it was Oren who joined them moments later, his blonde hair windblown around his face and his hands tucked into the pockets of a long gray coat. He looked from one to the other, then settled his attention on Jorick. “You got my message, then?”

Yes, in a way.” Jorick’s face was unreadable as he studied his friend. “What was so pressing, Oren, that you must send for me? I’ve already made my position clear.”

Yes, of course.” Oren replied impatiently. “That isn’t why I asked you here. I both have something to give you and would ask something from you.”

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He couldn’t pretend that seeing her laughing and smiling like that at that guy hadn’t cut into him. Hadn’t he been watching it all year? Hadn’t he been supportive when she’d been dating that idiot Chris?

Of course he had and that was the problem right there. He was always supportive. He was the friend and she’d never, never see him as anything else.

He was doomed.

And it was his own damned fault because he couldn’t figure out any other way to get close to girls. He didn’t have Charlie’s ability to chat them up. The only thing he knew how to do was be nice. And when he was nice all they thought of him was nice.

Doomed to be nice.

Dammit!

He kicked at some dead leaves on the ground. His pace slowed. There weren’t any leaves on the lawn. He lifted his head and actually looked around. In the gloom, he saw the suggestion of trees all around him. Somehow he’d wandered off the lawn and into the trees off the path. Great, that would be great to get lost in the trees until the sun came up. He still had class tomorrow even if it was later in the morning.

Well, he’d probably walked straight in so he would just turn around and walk straight out again. He spun and headed back. Without his head down, he felt the lower branches brush at the top of his head, messing his hair even more than usual. What did it matter? No one ever bothered to look at him twice so who cared?

Great, now he’d turned into a self pitying whiner.

Someone just shoot him.

He caught a suggestion of movement out of the corner of his eye to the right. Before he could turn, something slammed into him. He stumbled, his legs buckled with the force of it. He landed on his side, his arm pinned under his body. He tried to push up on the ground, his hand sinking into wet, squishy vegetation, but something dark fell over him. He smelled a sour stench. Something grabbed his head and yanked it to the side. A soft wetness licked along his neck then sharp pain pierced his skin. His body jerked and flailed. Something encased him in a vice grip, preventing him from moving. Soon he didn’t want to. Ice seemed to flow into his body from his neck, paralyzing his muscles. Was this what snakes did, he wondered but there couldn’t be any snakes here, not one this big. He tried one last time to kick his feet, thought he might feel a running shoe slip off and go spinning into the darkness. Then the pain didn’t matter any more, in fact it wasn’t pain at all, it was euphoria spreading through his limbs, leaving him weak and jelly-like and the vice grip was a warm blanket, wrapped around him by his mother. He could almost feel her kiss on his neck.

But her teeth… Oh her teeth were too sharp…

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Vampires of the World Weekend Part 1


Fever devoured him – or maybe it was just a fast. weak pulse and heavy breathing. He felt shaky and unable to move, drained of strength and blood.

He realized at some point that he was in his bed, sweating. He opened his eyes on the night and saw Bran’s silhouette standing by the bed. The sorcerer’s presence had brought Rajveer back to his senses.

He moaned, his chest heaving in pain.

“Good evening, Rajveer.” Bran’s voice seemed to reach inside his head. “Would you like me to finish you?”

“No…” He was too weak to fight, but he couldn’t die in his bed, taken away by a mysterious sickness. He was meant to die on the battlefield. Not like this – helpless, defeated, in pain.

He saw Bran’s fanged smile come closer to his face.

“So you want to live?” A whisper.

“Yes…” He nodded, breathless. Not this agony, gods, please. He closed his eyes, exhausted.

Bran grabbed the nape of his neck and pulled up his head. Rajveer felt something pressed to his lips, and coppery liquid dripped into his mouth. And then he grabbed Bran’s wrist with both hands, biting, sucking as if his life depended on it, the warm blood sliding down his throat. He could feel both his heart and Bran’s thundering in his head.

Then Bran pushed him away and let him fall back on the bed. Rajveer held his breath, feeling a change through his veins. His blood had been replaced by something else. His eyes opened on the darkened bedroom and he saw the canopy in all its embroidered detail as if it were day. The air in his lungs was cool and his body shivered. He lost control of his limbs and his bowels as a low moan came out of his mouth.

“Don’t worry, only your body is dying.” Bran’s voice was eerily gentle.

A final jolt made his back arch, and he lay still as his breathing slowed. He could still feel his heart beating. Bran’s hand on his forehead wasn’t so cold anymore. He exhaled in relief.

“Welcome to darkness,” Bran said, leaning to kiss his sweaty forehead.

Rajveer closed his eyes, then opened them again. He could hear everything. Every night animal moving in the garden, the owls and mice and a honey badger. The whisper of two guards meeting on watch duty to give each other the “all clear” on the battlements. The soft snores of sleeping servants in the apartment.

And the smells. Of plants and flowers and water ponds, but mostly of warm-blooded creatures. Including humans. Humans smelled different. Their blood sent intoxicating fumes. Luckily there were none in the room to tempt him.

He looked at Bran, who seemed less pale now. He sat and glanced around the room as if the sun were up.

Bran grinned. “Are you still hungry?”

Rajveer touched his lips, unsure. “Sort of…” he admitted. He glanced at Bran’s wrist, but didn’t see any traces of blood or wounds. He licked his lips, but they were clean. Bran’s blood was coursing through him, making him feel invincible. He wanted more.

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Kaylyn awoke with a gasp, and her throat was filled with heat and smoke. She’d been dreaming of falling into the pits of hell, and she opened her eyes to a raging fire devouring the wooden partition of her chamber.

She heard Baldwin’s roar, but her husband wasn’t by her side anymore. Panting, she frantically looked for a way out. Why was the manor on fire? Why wasn’t anyone trying to extinguish it?

Screams and curses came from beyond the flames. The wood crackled and then suddenly gave in. Soon everything would come crumbling down and Kaylyn couldn’t gather her wits.

It was daytime. She was supposed to be asleep, away from the sun’s rays. What if she left the burning room from the window and was incinerated by the sun? The chamber was so filled with smoke that she couldn’t see the weather outside.

Fire was attacking the wooden floor as well as the beamed ceiling. Only the external walls were made of stone. Eyes wide, Kaylyn didn’t know what to do. But then, if Baldwin had left the bedroom, there was probably no danger in going out.

Maybe outside it was another cloudy English day. The heat was getting worse, and Kaylyn decided to move. She got off the double bed and made her way along the walls towards the stone staircase to the lower floor on the other side of the rectangular room.

She was about to reach the closest window, her back against the wall as if she were walking on a narrow ledge, when the floor under the bed gave way, and the canopy crashed downstairs into what had been the main hall of the castle.

Kaylyn froze, staring at the chasm that had opened a few paces from her feet. Soon the whole floor would collapse and she’d fall into the furnace of the lower floor. Her “life eternal” would come to a blunt end in a literal hellfire after only ten years.

She was beginning to think the fire wasn’t an accident. Holding her breath, she started moving again towards the small windows. It wouldn’t be easy to get out that way, but she was thin, and hopefully could get through.

Someone broke the central column of the closest window, widening the opening, and a blurry figure landed in the smoky room that still had half of its floor, since no furniture weighed on it.

“Baldwin?” Kaylyn called with a shaky voice. Only her husband would be capable of jumping so high to break the window. He had come to save her!

But from the smoke emerged the tall figure of Bran, the Celtic druid who had been both hers and Baldwin’s maker. His long platinum-blond hair looked red by firelight.

“Let’s go, Kaylyn.” He threw a blanket over her face and upper body and threw her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

Kaylyn screamed, but didn’t fight. She felt the jump, and then she was shaken by Bran’s run. She wasn’t afraid of the darkness anymore, but the smell of blood that reached her nostrils as soon as the smoke cleared made her lick her fangs.

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Part One: Arizona & New Mexico

Chapter 1

As Jonah Ivory sat between his parents’ caskets in the parlor of the funeral home in Tucson, he finished his eighth beer of the evening. His goal was to drink a whole case.

Eight down, sixteen to go.

Crumpling the eighth empty can in his fist, he tipped his chair back and chucked the can behind the caskets with the other seven. Before he could tip forward and reach for number nine, however, his chair rocked off balance, and he fell back and down to the floor.

Perfect.

After the impact, Jonah lay there for a long moment, staring up at the ceiling. His eyes burned as the tears he’d been holding back tried to force their way out.

But he wouldn’t let them.

I’m too young for this. Too young to lose them.

In fact, Jonah was seventeen years old…not that he looked it. He was skinny, with a boyish face, and he wasn’t exactly wearing responsible grown-up clothes for a viewing: a black Jethro Tull concert t-shirt, ratty faded blue jeans, and sneakers.

But then there was his shoulder-length hair, which was prematurely white. It had been scared that way five years ago.

That was when he’d lost his two brothers, who had been abducted right in front of him. He’d been thirteen years old when it had happened…so maybe he wasn’t too young at seventeen to lose his mother and father, after all.

First the twins, now my parents. I ought to be getting used to this by now. So why do I miss them so much?

It was a mystery to him.

Jonah hadn’t been close to his mother and father for ages. Though they’d been living in the same house in Tucson, seeing each other every day, they might as well have been living in separate towns for the past five years. The loss of the twins had driven them apart.

But in the few days since the car accident that had killed his mother and father, Jonah had been feeling completely and irretrievably lost. All he could think to do was drink himself into a stupor and stumble through the motions of the prearranged viewing and the preparations for the funeral.

Why does it matter? We were practically strangers.

The biggest question of all, though, the one that loomed up in the gaps between lazy drunken sparks and ripples, was this:

Now what?

Jonah rolled off the upended chair and got to his feet. He pulled his ninth beer out of the red and white cooler that occupied two chairs in the front row of seating.

As he snapped open the tab on the can, he looked around the empty room.

At least I don’t have to deal with anybody.

Jonah and his parents were alone. Other than the undertaker, who had strolled through a few times, not one soul had shown up for the viewing.

Nice turnout.

After a long drink of beer, Jonah righted the chair he’d knocked over and sat back down on it. He glanced over at the closed caskets beside him, then quickly looked away as the reality smacked him in the head again.

I hate this.

Just as he lifted the beer for another drink, a young, black-haired woman walked into the room.

She was beautiful. As soon as Jonah caught sight of her, he lowered the beer from his lips. Her body was slender and shapely under her waist-length red leather jacket and short black dress. Knee-high red leather boots accentuated the curves of her long, lean legs.

As she approached, Jonah saw that her features were even prettier than they had looked from a distance. She had a long face and angular nose that gave her an exotic look—Italian, maybe, or Greek or Arab. She must have been wearing contact lenses behind her black horned-rim glasses, because her eyes were two different colors: one hazel, the other amber flecked with red.

Simply put, she was a knockout.

As bad a day as Jonah was having, he still automatically assessed his chances with her before she’d even said a word. He knew it in a heartbeat: she wasn’t just out of his league, she was out of his universe.

Even if he hadn’t been having the second shittiest day of his life, he probably wouldn’t have bothered to make a play for her. That was why he didn’t bother to get up when the woman approached him. He just stared out from behind his long, white bangs and burped softly.

“Hello, Mr. Ivory.” She stopped a few feet away and didn’t offer to shake his hand. She had a slight accent—Italian, maybe? “My name is Stanza Miracolo.”

“Don’t mind me.” Jonah waved at the two closed caskets. “Go ahead and view all you like.”

“Not here for that, thanks.” Stanza slid two fingers into a vest pocket of her red leather jacket. “Here for you,” she said, tugging out a business card and offering it to him.

When Jonah didn’t take the card, she flipped it at him. The card landed face-up on his stomach, and he stared down at it.

Stanza Miracolo, it said. Bloodlines Genealogy & Beyond.

Jonah brushed the card from his black Jethro Tull t-shirt. “You picked the wrong day to try to sell me something, lady,” he said, and then he polished off his beer.

“Already paid for,” said Stanza. “I’m your inheritance.”

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Now

The villagers never paid attention to the dogs anymore.

The constant barking and scrabbling was background noise after years of so many strays learning to survive past their pampered origins. The rich, forested mountains in Transylvania were kinder than the crowded streets of Bucharest, under Communism or decades later. Creatures meant to warm laps and comfort hands have no easy transition to wandering, endlessly searching for shelter.

Some whisper of instinct surely must remain, even with every appearance of wild ancestors bred out of them decades before.

Leo Sabov wondered at that every time he was in Romania, how such a huge population could go unnoticed in the city or in the country. People could get so worked up over stray animals in the US, yet somehow the nomadic animals here seemed healthier and more content with less attention.

He sipped strong coffee on his third floor balcony, watching the first rays of sunlight trace orange fire on the sharp granite cliffs above the tree line across from him. His bare feet were pleasantly chilled by the tile, his mind soothed by his first good night of sleep in many weeks. Staying up too late and drinking too much with his little brother usually had the opposite effect.

A young girl walked through the chicken coop below, gathering eggs for the guests of the inn he’d been returning to with his wife for over twenty years. The milling birds stirred up a scent of rich earth strong enough to overcome even the coffee. The girl sang to herself, a sweet song at odds with the quarreling chickens and agitated dogs. Maria would have known the words to the song, would have whispered them into Leo’s ear.

He rubbed his eyes, struck by a different sound in one of the dog’s voices. His mind seized on the escape from memory. An old female with the dangling teats of many pregnancies stood in the neat yard beside the inn. She stared at something Leo couldn’t see behind the rough-hewn logs of the outdoor kitchen. Her black and tan coat was healthy, and she was normally friendly, one of the sweetest in the village. This morning, though, her voice had a harsh, desperate edge.

Dogs began to gather around her, from neighboring houses and inns, from their rough shelters on the hillsides. Some looked around, searching for what was bothering her so, then resumed their normal morning discussions and investigations. The others, many of them clearly her offspring with that same rangy body and distinctive coloring, watched her silently at first. Then their voices began to take on that same worried note.

The old mother dog took a few stiff-legged steps forward, more than a dozen of her young following. Her sharp, fast barks were interrupted by low growls. Even from three floors up, Leo could see her long hair rise into hackles from her neck to the base of her tail. She walked forward again, her group in near lockstep beside her.

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Writer Wednesday


And October is gone too, can you believe it?  I wrote almost 24K words and all the stories planned for the month. Onward to the next task – two more shorter works to submit to anthologies, a redraft of a novel with sequel and two more stories that can be done in December as well. And I’ll be more or less done for the year, unless I get to work on another novel in December.

I’m slowing down production not because I’m depressed or anything, but because it takes me more time to add all the stuff I learned in the online workshops in the first draft. Sometimes I procrastinate starting because I can’t find an opening with depth. To which I end up saying, “To hell with depth, let’s get into the story, I can always add depth later, cycling back!”

Next year I’ll be celebrating 40 years of writing and it’s still fun and entertaining and everything. But I won’t lie to you. I am currently depressed by the state of publishing. I’m tired of trying to keep up with trends, marketing, retailers and social media who keep updating and upgrading while I’m slowly trying to catch up. Things are changing too fast, so I’ll slow down the publishing until things settle down a little.

Which means I may keep for myself some of the writing I’ll do next year, or maybe not. I do have quite a few projects lined up, maybe I’ll just write them all and then take a month off to publish them all! 😉 We’ll see. There’s still a couple of months to go, right?

So, yeah, more changes a-coming. Necessary evil, I’m afraid. I’m depressed, but not while writing. If you are writing under the influence of depression, though, check this advice. I found no support in writers groups, but maybe the offline people were more a critique group than a support group – I was the only one prolific and indie and all that stuff.

A story of piracy to circulate between authors and readers alike. It’s not that I don’t want to give away free books, but like this author, I’d like to make a living. Now, I’m not as successful as this young lady here (I don’t write YA, which is probably the most pirated genre of publishin), but I hear her pain and bow to her initiative that proved her point.

Creations, even in the digital age, should earn some money to their creators or soon you won’t have any content to download anymore. I do receive alerts of pirate sites with my books, I don’t do anything about them, but that’s also part of my publishing depression. Why keep publishing if they don’t sell because of piracy or undiscoverability? I may as well keep writing for myself like I did for 33 years…

And in my publishing depression I try to decompress with funny stuff. I’m working on the paperback of Da Strip. I’m watching comedies on DVD. I try to read funny stuff (maybe it’s time to get back to those paper books on my desk… I believe I have one that is funny).

I’m not really writing funny stuff yet, since that’s not the point. Depression has not affected my writing or creativity, but is hitting hard on the publishing life. I don’t have Impostor Syndrome and I don’t feel a special snowflake, and I do know the rules or I wouldn’t know how to break them.

I guess I will have to ponder about the branding thing. I know I’m the brand but I still can’t see my name that big on the cover – I love my cover art too much (mostly because it’s paid commissions, not cheap photoshopping of stock images, LOL!).

Besides, rebranding the 70 or so Silvery Earth books is too daunting. And those are the ones with the smaller author name on the cover. Sigh. Last but not least, the November bundles! Mythic Tales is out today and Cats Cats Cats will come out on Friday. I am determined to change subject on Fridays for the month of November, so I’m telling you now! 🙂 Have a great week! 🙂

Random Friday


a.k.a. October Bundle Friday.

And it’s out! Vampires of the World is now available at BundleRabbit and the other retailers! And so is Sword Wielders!

Here’s the ToCs to wet your appetite:

Vampires of the World
Rajveer the Vampire by Barbara G.Tarn
Kaylyn the Sister-in-Darkness by Barbara G.Tarn
Bloodliner by Robert Jeschonek
Until Death by Kari Kilgore
Fright Court by Mindy Klaski
Shades of Gray by Joleene Naylor
Legacy of Ghosts by Joleene Naylor
A Reluctance of Blood by Rebecca M. Senese

Sword Wielders
Al-Kabar by Lee French
The Hooded Man by Barbara G.Tarn
The Popcorn Kitten by Blaze Ward
The Sword That Spoke by Robert Jeschonek
Blossom Queen, Barbarian by Russ Crossley
First Chosen by M. Todd Gallowglas
In the Waste Places by Kate MacLeod
A Sword’s Poem by Leah Cutter
The Sword of Io by M. L. Buchman
Twice Against the Dragon by Stefon Mears
Controlling the Sword by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

And then there’s the SALES! More Than Human will be on sale from torrow and until November 11! And then Sci-fi July will go on sale on Halloween and until the following Sunday!

And then… okay, sneak preview of November bundles.

Mythic Tales and Cats Cats Cats both come out Nov.1st. And both have Beautiful by yours truly bundles with other very different stories… More next time! Have a great weekend! 🙂

Writer Wednesday


This month’s writing is almost done, except one last story that should pour out within the week. Then I may write something in the same “universe” to submit somewhere – I’m currently reading the previous anthology to get a feel of what they’re looking for and I’m mostly having a blast. Ideas churn in my head with each new story – I know the where and when of mine, but the story is still nebulous.

These last 2-3 stories are shorter works, but in November I’ll get back to longer works. I have deadlines for submissions, so I’m doing those first. Did you read about Dean’s latest challenge – write his age? I could do it this year, I’d have to write/publish one story a week, but two months have already gone by since my 52nd birthday, LOL! I still need to reach my goal of half-pulp-speed (500K a year) and I probably won’t reach it this year either, so I’d rather skip this challenge… which will make it more worthwile whenever I decide to actually do it (when I’m 55? 60? We’ll see…).

Anyhow… next week I’ll be off DayJob, so I’m already putting up some kind of schedule. I’ll have to work on more PODs, even though CreateSpace is closing down its shop. Might be a good time to try KDP print. At the same time, Amazon seems to be less and less author-friendly. Which is a good reason for not having all the eggs in that basket.

This very interesting analysis that tells a tale of two marketing systems also got me pondering. I supposedly should use the Wide Tortoise method, although I’m using neither right now. I’m giving up on the marketing weekends again after reading of Facebook’s new policy in Pages newsfeeds. They keep offering me to boost my posts, but there must be some other way to reach fans! 😦

I don’t know, I also have to sign up for Pronoun and possibly other sites, so… one thing at the time! 😉 I also should add a “clean fantasy” label so my newer books. Gone are the times of those “Adults only” titles on both Star Minds and Silvery Earth. I called them ACE-friendly, but maybe, at least for Silvery Earth, it’s just clean fantasy.

But then I should change the publisher’s byline that it’s “books for adults with a youthful mind”! 😉 I mean, I’m an adult and I don’t really need to read about sex in every book. I also wrote all the violence I could think of out of my system. Mmm. I guess I’ll have to ponder and make a more generic byline “books for everyone”? Not really. “Books and stories” too bland?

Lot to ponder. Of course authors can’t make a living from books anymore, they never could, unless they were bestsellers. It’s even worse in traditional publishing, but even indies… most don’t thrive, including yours truly. But if you’re one of the lucky ones, you might find Trackerbox useful for your earnings. Here’s an interview with the creator, who has a kickstarter going for the Mac version.

I still go with Excel sheets and paper notebooks, but I’m not really thriving yet. Anyhow, if you want advice on self-editing your novel or five stages to revise it, there you go. And some habits of the world’s most successful writers. And a reminder that I have a few bundles out or coming soon… stay tuned for more!

Oh, and if you write mystery or romance, Hallmark is now accepting novels. I write neither, unfortunately, so go for it! 🙂 Have a great week!

Random Friday


I’m afraid this month Fridays will be for bundles only… I should probably rename it Bundle Friday, at least for now! 😉

Anyhow, here’s the latest bundle curated by Russ Crossley. I’m still amazed to be in such wonderful company. Go check the Dragon Tales bundle! You may have read Talwar&Khanda, but you’d miss all the other wonderful dragon tales! 🙂

And next week… Sword Wielders! It includes my Writers of the Future Honorable Mention novella The Hooded Man and 10 other sword wielders! Again in very good company here… And don’t forget that Vampires of the World goes live as well next Friday…

And there will be a sale too, actually two, but I shall announce them next week. This is the month of bundles galore… grab them now! 🙂 What do you mean you don’t have a BundleRabbit account yet? Go sign up right now and don’t miss on the currently over 50 (fifty!) bundles in different genres for your reading pleasure!

And if you’re an indie author, join the fun and upload your books… Have a great weekend! 🙂

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