Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! Unexpected but welcome! Please, ladies and gentlemen, welcome Suzanne Kovitz!

Where do you live and write from?
Reisterstown, MD

Why do you write?
I wrote a novel entitled, “Enemy Self” because it was a form of escapism from life and I have a message of perseverance.

When did you start writing?
I began soon after college. The idea was founded in a dream.

What genre(s) do you write?
This a work of fiction with cross-over genres including sci-fi, fantasy, and YA.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?
I enjoy getting the reader right into the story without much intro and description. I also inserted inside voices as a narrative.

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
From life’s experiences. My story is more like a movie inside my head.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
Neither. I’m a slow hobby writer.

Tell us about your latest book

Enemy Self

Jessica Wheaton, a sweet and innocent high school girl, suddenly finds herself transformed into the body of her bully, Denise Bower.

She lives Denise’s life and experiences all the struggles Denise endures including child abuse, incest, drug experimentation, failing school grades, and dangerous relationships with men.

Finally escaping from an abusive home, Jessica (in the body of Denise) goes on a tumultuous journey of violence, drug addiction, rape and prostitution. She is in an endless search for love and true identity.

Will Jessica ever find a way to return to her body? Will she ever experience true love? How can she possibly defeat her enemy if she is her enemy?

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
Indie author. The traditionals wanted tried & true. Being an Indie author I can be in control of the book and its creative process.

Any other projects in the pipeline

Working on a memoir entitled, “Walking on Eggshells”

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

I would like to make my book available internationally. There are many and growing opportunities for indie authors now-a-days, including social media and podcast.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP

also known as Galaxy Quest’s motto “Never give up, never surrender” LOL! Thank you for stopping by! You can find Suzanne here or on Author Central.

 

 

Random Friday


Total random stuff. I watched the French DVD I got in Paris and it was as funny but sad as expected – a family dramedy with a happy ending. And I rewatched Any Body Can Dance 2, just for the dancing, since there’s no real story in that series, LOL! Which, considering has me mixing a European and an Asian movie and enjoying both for different reasons, takes me to the next random topic, cultural appropriation.

I read this wonderful article on whose culture is it anyway, and what about hybridity and thought the author made great points. I’m Italian, but I grew up in France and Switzerland, in an international town (Geneva) with people from all over the world, then came back to the Eternal City and hated it.

Still today, almost 40 years later, I get irritated when I’m pinned down as Italian and asked if I do this or that – I don’t. I feel international, I love a lot of stuff from a lot of countries and I don’t think it’s cultural appropriation. When I write, I try to be respectful of whatever culture I try to cover and to find people in that culture/religion who can help me fact-check. *waves at beloved cover artist*

But sometimes I’ve stumbled on such harsh cultural appropriation articles that condemt it completely, that I almost felt guilty to try to write a story of humanity as a whole and not as a single ethnicity/religion/race. I was even irked by the clearly European and tattooed young woman who visited the Taj Mahal with a sari (maybe I was envious, LOL!).

Thing is – I’m not trying to appropriate anything. I’m enjoying the diversity of this crazy world. And soon I’ll start on a projection of our future, it will be utopia (with a dark side) but I intend to put a society where skin color doesn’t matter and the borders are no more. You might call it globalization, but it’s still a post-apocalipse story, hehe! 😉

So I plan to have black people, Asians and white people all living together and not being bothered by race or religion. They’ll have other problems to face! 😉 And I’ll try to come up with a culture that is a fusion of all we have today (it’s set in the 22nd century, so plenty of time to develop that) plus possibly something original.

Mission impossible? Probably. We’ll know at the end of August. Have a great weekend! 😀

 

Writer Wednesday


Wrapping up Shashank’s story, I finally finished reading all that non-fiction. It was wonderful and entertaining and idea-generating, but now I look forward to going back to novels! 😉 I disagree on some historical facts with some of those authors, but others gave me insight I wasn’t expecting.

I even re-watched Bajirao Mastani, since the Maratha Peshwa appears briefly in the novel – it reminded me to look up those fearsome whip-swords Ranveer Singh is handling in the movie! Shashank is the son of a weapon seller and he’s always interested in weapons, even those dreaded firearms the author hates.

I sent off the novel and maybe will write a short story to go with it. Unless it turns out to be a novella or something bigger, in that case I’ll postpone to September, since it’s definitely NOT a novel and it wouldn’t be long enough for the challenge. I have until Friday to figure it out, during the weekend I want to prep for the August novel.

Next week I’ll be deep in my sci-fi novel and ready for Worldcon! I’ll repeat all this, but if you happen to be in Helsinki, here’s my panel schedule.

As you can see, I’ll be in good company! 🙂 And hopefully I’ll be able to sightsee a little too, since I’ve never been to Finland.

Some writerly links – Mastering Amazon Ads. I will have to do a few more experiments, but so far the ads I ran brought 0 sales. And tips to promote your book @OurAuthorGang.

Want to support an author’s or illustrator’s new book but can’t afford to buy it? Here’s what you can do. And if you do buy it, please leave a review.

And a long podcast on Joanna Penn’s blog – I read the transcript, but if you like podcasts, go listen to how to write fast, publish slowly and focus on your author marketing with Rachel Aaron. Lot of good advice, I’m keeping the transcript for later use! 😉

All of these excellent marketing and branding tools will have to be put to use after the summer, when the novel challenge is done. But I do intend to focus more on marketing (no more than a weekend per month!) and try some stuff. I’ll have to make sure I target the right people, since here’s what happens when reader targeting goes wrong.

Maybe the historical novelist indeed had a game of thrones in his story. And there’s no copyright on titles, so he was free to use the sentence. But yeah, they probably attracted the wrong crowd.

So for the last quarter I’ll focus on other marketing and branding experiments, and maybe even my Patreon page might become project-driven instead of monthly as it is now. While I focus on each of my series for the above, I’ll try to make up my mind and figure out what I want and how to achieve that slow growth I’m aiming at! 🙂

Have a great weekend! 😀

Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise


And it’s another Sci-fi July author! And I even met him three years ago, yay! Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Michael W. Lucas!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in Detroit, Michigan, and write from my authorial garret above my family home. As garrets go, it’s pretty nice. I have running water and a view of the power lines.

Why do you write?

Because I love doing it. I love telling stories. Good writing is clear thinking, and while my brain is usually full of mud writing forces me to sieve away the muck and produce clarity.

When did you start writing?

I was four when I discovered that books were not a gift from On High. They were produced by people–real people, not, like, TV stars or Presidents. People like me.

So I started writing books. And annoying my relatives and schoolmates with them. Now I get to annoy the world at large.

What genre(s) do you write?

As Michael Warren Lucas, I write SF and crime novels. I’m probably best known for the Immortal Clay books: a play off of Carpenter’s amazing The Thing, but set after we lose. I write just about anything as short stories.

As Michael W Lucas, I write nonfiction technology books. Nonfiction provides
some interesting storytelling opportunities. My fiction and nonfiction writing each feeds off the other.

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

I am always looking to become a better writer. Every book I write, I’m practicing a particular skill.

Writing is my full-time job, so I have business goals too. I’m looking to boost the share of my income that comes from fiction. Each novel I write sells better than the last, so the solution is pretty clear: write more novels.

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

Writing advice is a weird thing. What’s great advice for a beginner is terrible advice for a medium-stage author and irrelevant for an advanced author.

The best writing advice I’ve ever been given actually isn’t writing advice, it’s life advice: “Listen to the people who are doing the thing you want to do, the way you want to do it.”

Hanging around with other writers and talking about writing is great fun. I’m thrilled to hang out with more experienced authors, and I’ll happily chat with writers that aren’t as far along as myself. But I’m really choosy about whose advice I listen to.

Many people who can’t do a thing talk a really good game about the thing. That guy in your writing group who is full of comments about your use of passive voice and how you break up paragraphs, but who has never sold a dang thing?  He’s not providing useful information.

When someone tells you how your work made them feel, though: that is ALWAYS valid and useful. Always. It’s the most useful writing advice you’ll ever get.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I always have an outline. Permit me to present the complete outline for my crime thriller “Butterfly Stomp Waltz.” It’s utterly full of
robbery and bloodshed and vengeance.

Anthony Bourdain:

  • Atlanta
  • Portugal
  • Myanmar

Yep, that’s it. Food and travel shows are great for researching foreign places. If you can make the reader taste the food in that little town in the back of the Myanmar jungle, they’ll believe you’ve been there.

My writing speed depends entirely on the project. The novel I’m currently writing, a sequel to BSW called Terrapin Sky Tango, is being difficult.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle

In the Montague Portal series, the Montague Corporation has figured out how to leap into alien universes with different natural laws. Unfortunately, not all of those universes like humans.

More unfortunately, we bring human nature with us.

Mind rotting from an incurable prion disease? Go to a universe where the disease cannot progress, and get attacked by aliens (No More Lonesome Blue Rings). Or be among the first to visit a universe, solve a robbery, and save the world. (Sticky Supersaturation). There’s a universe where density varies linearly and there’s no ground… more specifically, no grounds for murder. (Forever Falls).

Montague Portal is kind of Star Trek, but every story has a built-in excuse to change how everything works.

Hydrogen Sleets is set in a universe exactly like ours, but it’s only about half a billion years after the Big Bang. The universe contains only hydrogen atoms screaming past at half the speed of light and a 1960s-style space station made of spinning concentric rings. It’s not just a SF mystery where our heroine needs to figure out why people are going insane and attacking the station; it’s a corporate procedural, where the frustrations of working for a company form part of the story. With laser guns, and forbidden shwarma.

It’s a perfect book for the Sci-Fi July Bundle. I was thrilled to be asked.

Tell us about your latest book

I describe git commit murder as “If Agatha Christie ran Unix cons.” If you work in the computing industry, if you’ve ever been to a computer conference, this book is for you.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m currently writing a sequel to Butterfly Stomp Waltz, called Terrapin Sky Tango. Yes, I’m watching a few Anthony Bourdain episodes for that one. Plus a new, big nonfiction book.

Non-fiction Author

Fiction Author

Random Friday


Dunno on your side of the world, but this year, besides the usual (and worsening) heat, we even have fires. I mean, we always have fires in the summer when it doesn’t rain much, but this year it has been particularly harsh on me. Here’s a summary in English – my story is from Sunday, but as you can see, it’s not over yet.

My 3h30 train ride back home became an 8h30 odissey where only Techie Bro’s intervention allowed for a happy ending at that time – otherwise it would have probably lasted much longer.

Ice-cream in Massa

I spent the weekend in Massa (my father’s hometown) with a friend. Both writers, we mostly stayed in and did our stuff. Sunday my dad took us to the train station. She stopped in Pisa, so she took the regional train (cheaper) that was 10 minutes late. My Intercity was also 10 minutes late for much affluence at previous stations.

But I saw the train coming from the south (i.e. where I was headed) was 174mintes late. I was afraid something had happened on the line and I was soon proved right. First stop in Grosseto where we gained another 20 minutes of lateness. They told us it was because of a fire near Capalbio and that firemen were at work.

At that point my mother called me from Massa, since the fire was on the TV news. A ViP camping had been evacuated but it was mostly over. So on we went… and stopped shortly afterward, at Montalto di Castro. Again they told us it was because of a fire between Ladispoli and Fregene (north of Rome). We were still in Tuscany.

One hour went by. One and a half and the AC of the train was giving me a headache. I saw a train going north, and hoped things were clear, but we still didn’t move.

Then they told us that if we were headed for Roma Termini, we could take the train on platform 1 that would take us to Ladispoli where a bus service would take us to Roma Termini. Whoever was headed further south (the train was bound for Salerno) should stay onboard.

So I moved train, found a seat, and the train didn’t leave for another 10-20 minutes. The following stations it filled itself. At Civitavecchia there was still smoke and smell of fire and the refugees of another fast train (the one I could have taken that passed through Massa one hour earlier) came onboard.

Talking to a Filippino lady who had had the bad idea of visiting Pisa, leaving her husband and son in Rome, that train had met both fires and was by now 4 hours late. And it was canceled and wouldn’t go anywhere else. We found out that we were on a regional train that supposedly did Roma-Genova, but did only Ladispoli-Grosseto (it was probably the same that I had seen go north and that had come back one hour later).

The packed train ended in Ladispoli, where they told us there would be a bus service. The outside of the station was already packed with people from other trains, and the platform was so busy with people stopping and not moving that for the first time in my life I crossed the tracks to get out of the crowd.

Then I used the underground passage to go to the front of the station, since I had come out in the back, with the Filippino lady on my heels. No bus in sight, and hundreds of people milling around. The police said the bus were coming, and it was 9pm by now. I called my brother and told him the bus would only take me to Maccarese where we could take another train to Termini, so he said he’d come to Maccarese to spare me the last leg of the trip.

By 9.30 still no bus and the station restrooms were locked. The Filippino lady had struck a conversation with two students who had decided to go for a beach day in Ladispoli and had been stuck there for hours – bus had come at 6pm but there weren’t enough of them. One was Hungarian, the other Danish, but both studied in Denmark and were in Rome for some summer course.

My brother reached Maccarese and since no bus in sight he decided to come over to Ladispoli. With the help of the Danish girl I managed to use Google Maps and send him our location (we walked away from the overcrowded train station). Around 10pm, five minutes after 3 bus showed up, headed for the station, he arrived and picked us up.

stranded in Ladispoli – bus and Techie Bro arrived from this street

We live south of Rome and the highway is the one that takes to Fiumicino airport. The 3 foreigners needed Gianicolo and Nomentana, so we left them at a taxi parking near Eur (with 2 lone taxis – and I saw them trying to call a Uber before heading there) and I was home by 11pm.

Could have been worse. Midnight or 1am if I had waited for the bus+train+taxi from the train station in the center since I don’t trust the metro at night… Gotta love one’s Techie Bro who is not afraid of driving in the dark, right? Now my parents and sister will take that same train on Sunday… here’s to wishing them a prompt and safe journey!

On a last note: I’ve had a maximum of 3hours late, but being stranded 50km from home – 40minutes by car – was a first… Have a great weekend! 😉

Writer Wednesday


And here you have Kol-ian in all his might in another great bundle! 🙂 Love Magik Glow is now live with 7 great QUILTBAG stories, including the trilogy about the technological angel and his gorgeous brother-in-law! 😀 Get it now!

So, in spite of the heat and a weekend away from home, I still managed to get some writing done. I’m adding the last of the meat and hope to do a final pass next weekend, after which another novel will be off – not just to the beta-reader of the challenge, but to the cover artist, who is also a necessary beta-reader, and maybe another beta if she has time, but she’s probably busy with her fan-fiction contest…

We’ll see. I might just leave it at 2 – the cover artist because she’s from that culture and she can point out cultural mistakes, the “paid” beta because it’s his challenge! 😉 BTW I got a sketch of the cover, it’s going to be a great addition to the Vampires Through the Centuries covers! 🙂 And I might send an excerpt to Unusual Historicals again, hoping they don’t forget the second half of the bargain – the giveaway – like they did with Kaylyn last year…

I have written stories based on illustrations or covers in the past, in fact I might do it again in August, since I’m already thinking about the cover of that novel… and it is indeed fun – writing a novel from a cover or a story from an illustration. My two latest examples are Star Minds Third Generation – Iso-bel Aya Shermac and Starship Pilot (link to the inspiration art by Techie Bro)… Even though the second has only been used to illustrate the story for Patreon patrons, it still started from there! 😉

The writerly links of the week! The Newbie Author Marketing Manifesto – not sure what platform I have since some of those I have high and some I have very low for having been 7 years at it, but well…  As for the 3 tools, I have a website with a byline and this very blog. My email list is still lagging behind, but I’m waving madly to all of you blog followers and Facebook fans! 😀

If you’re having a bad writing day, read this post. Happens to everybody. I often flirt with Mr Procrastination, in spite of being married to Mr Writing. But it’s a muscle, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. So practise, practise, practise and you’ll forget what Writer’s Block is! 😉

Oh, and if you’re wondering why I never joined KDP Select and KU… it’s because it’s broken. And Amazon doesn’t seem to realize they’re pissing off customers too. Mighty Zon might fall soon if they don’t the address the scammers breaking the Kindle Store! 😦 If you’re an author, don’t use clickfarms. Or even better, don’t be Amazon exclusive – I do have sales on Kobo, D2D and Smashwords, and you’re missing on readers by ignoring everybody else.

And if you’re a KU subscriber, please please please tell Amazon to do something about these people. Or soon all the indie authors will leave KU and your subscription won’t let you read anything… Have a great weekend! 🙂

Happiness is…


Guest Post – Publishing on Bundle Rabbit – Barbara Tarn


How to be a bundle curator…

Library of Erana

So, you joined BundleRabbit… great! You’re just another hopeful author waiting to be picked up! And when you do get picked up, all you have to do is follow Diane’s advice – she is one of the authors of my first bundle and I couldn’t have said it better. She explains everything about how BR works for authors.

But wait, months go by and nobody requests anything. You see dozens of other great authors and start thinking… why not? Maybe I should become a curator! How hard can it be?

Putting bundles together at BundleRabbit is great fun, but it’s also exhausting. Not very hard, but there is a small learning curve.

First of all, you apply for “curator” status. Create a draft with your vision (it can include your book or not) and choose a release date, but check what else is coming out that month.

Try to book…

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