Happiness is..


Sunday Surprise

And it’s a guest! And since we’re moving into the month of sci-fi, he’s a sci-fi writer! We met at a few Worldcons through the years as well as book fairs in Italy. He’s a great guy, great writer and great publisher! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Francesco Verso!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in Rome (Italy) since most of my time.

Why do you write?

I believe in the power of Science Fiction to shed some light on the future of mankind. I am convinced that literature can help to better understand the psychological and socials mechanics of the world we live in and, in particular, now that technology is playing an ever important role in our lives and relationship we can’t avoid its impact on our reality. Thus, my stories imagine what would be the short and long term consequences of our symbiosis with different kind of technologies ranging from prosthetics, to artificial intelligences, from 3D printed replaceable organs to DNA modifications and nanotech developments. All these anatomical augmentations will have a deep reflection on our identity and thus on our ethics and morals, both on an individual and social scale.

I feel there’s an urgency to update our dramaturgy to the technically accelerated times we live in, something that the mainstream genre is also starting to acknowledge, thanks to the popularity of TV Series like “Black Mirror”, “Westworld”, “Humans”, “Mr. Robot”, “Electric Dreams”.

When did you start writing?

During my University years, I’ve studied one year in Amsterdam for an Erasmus project and there – along the canals – I’ve found a little second hand shop run by an American guy who had opened a bookstore there specialized in SF. Down in the cellar he kept hundreds of SF classics, like Frank Herbert’s “Dune”, Ian McDonal’s “Desolation Road”, William Gibson’s “Neuromancer”, Ursula Le Guin “The Left Hand of Darkness”. I started from there, with the crazy ambition of imitating the writers that I now consider my teachers and sources of inspiration.

What genre(s) do you write?

I write Science Fiction, which means I set my stories in the near future and mostly on Earth. I can’t really write about other worlds as I believe there’s enough “alien realities” and “otherness” here on our planet, just around the corner of wherever we live, to light up any sense of wonder and walk into an “uncanny valley”. Lately I am interested in exploring the solarpunk and human augmentation subgenres – say sustainable energies and posthuman issues driven by technologies like CRISPR-Cas9 – as tools to analyze the biopolitical scenarios we’re heading to in the next years.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I used to have a routine of writing very early in the morning (from 6 to 8am). I’ve managed to write 4 novels and 7 short stories in this way, over the course of 6 years. But since I’ve opened a small press called Future Fiction dedicated to scouting, translating and publishing the best SF authors from every corner of the world, I have changed my schedule. Now I try to concentrate the first draft of my writings during some weeks where I focus all day long and then edit the material whenever I can find some spare time during the year. I became a full time writer 10 years ago, so I have plenty of time, but I need to organize it in a very efficient way, since Future Fiction is taking a lot of my time in reading other people’s stories, going to Book Fairs and SF Cons around the world. Lately I’ve turned also into a public speaker so the time for writing is getting smaller and smaller but more intense.

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

Good question and not easy to answer. Let’s say I like to build an interesting plot. My stories are always driven by the actions and desires of the main characters because I think readers should always identify themselves with the themes at stake. Also I am a very curious researcher and careful editor, that means I work a lot on new, breakthrough ideas, or at least on innovative ways to retelling them as not to leave the feeling of “being there, done that”. For me, fiction is the best way to discover new realities through the eyes of someone who can make me believe he/she has been there.

Over the years, I’ve developed a great attention to “meaningful details” and to master the themes of the stories I write about. I need to know a lot more than what appears on paper (the famous “iceberg” approach) and not just in the first draft but also during the revision, which takes much more time and dedication than the first draft (approx. 3-4 times more). My latest novel – the Walkers – went through 9 different revisions and at least three editors looked at the story before I could consider it ready to be published.

So I’ve learned to wait, to have a discipline, not to rush to the end, and then to appreciate the process more than the finish. Maturity taught me that a writer’s biggest enemy is not sold book or selling charts but time; I write to win its favor.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I’m an outliner. I like to know where I am going and also where I am taking the readers. During the plotting, I sketch the course of actions and relationships between the main characters. Then of course I allow myself the freedom to wander around and take different directions if they are in line with the general path. I limit the improvisation to the writing phase, also because I believe in the value of content density, meaning that writing should embody the highest level of meaning in the shortest amount of words. To achieve this goal, I write brief summaries of every chapter as they – at least for me – should respect a sort of “opening-apex-hook” dramatic structure.

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

There isn’t a specific goal: writing is already a kind of reward for me and the feeling that I am contributing with novels and short stories to a wider discussion (the future of mankind, the ever changing relationship between man and machine, the development of biopolitics) is a stimulating challenge for my mind. I enjoy the moment when a new idea crosses my thoughts, the very moment when a piece of dramatic information has the potential of turning into a full story, the craft of an interesting scenario that comes alive in front of your own eyes. In a way, it’s like playing God with possible futures, exploring the good and bad of mankind behavior… and that’s not a small thing for me. And then, most of all, when I go to SF Cons and Book Fairs around the world and I can share all these experiences and discussions with other fellow writers and readers, that’s when I truly feel happy and satisfied. It’s a difficult job in terms of money (small payments, no insurance about the future, no idea if your next book will be good as a previous one) with lots of personal disappointments, emotional failings and hard time but it’s also the only job I wouldn’t change with anything else.

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

An editor once told me: “Furnish your plot, not your character’s thoughts,” meaning that actions should emerge from the character’s behaviour and not from his/her mumbling and concerns. Readers are best engaged by other people’s actions and reactions more than their thoughts and internal monologues. That doesn’t mean characters should be flat and simply driven by hectic actions like in a thriller movie, but that – on the contrary – all inside feelings and emotions should rise to the surface of behaviour during the course of events and physical actions. In other words, it simply means putting real life into fiction and not consider fiction as a literary world outside the real one. I’ve learned maybe a very simple thing: that fiction imitates life and life imitates fiction. That’s what makes Science Fiction plausible and move the readers mind in a wonderful direction: a story that keeps doing its job even when the book is over since a long time. The persistence of a book is the best measure of its quality.

I hear your novel “Nexhuman” has been translated from Italian into English and published by Apex books. Care to elaborate on that?

It took around 8 years to write the book, publish it on Delos Books in Italy, then have it translated in English and publish it in Australia with Xoum and then finally to arrive on the US market thanks to Jason Sizemore who liked it so much he decided to have a US edition of Nexhuman.

So I am very happy to see an Italian SF book published by an established and highly valued SF publishing house like Apex since a very long time. The US market is almost impossible to enter if you don’t write in English, which means the costs of translation are often on the shoulders of writers or the publishing house that decides to invest in it (except maybe for mainstream and literary books that have a slightly better treatment thanks to funds and grants). So paradoxically, in SF, where there should be more openness and desire to overcome boundaries and limitations than any other genre, we see a totally different picture: it’s been formally addressed as the “3% Problem”, meaning that only 3% of what is published in the US market comes from Non-English speaking countries and in that 3% are included all the languages of the World!

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’ve just published in Italian on Future Fiction the first book of my latest novel called “The Walkers” which is made of two stories: “The Pulldogs” and “No/Mad/Land”. The first book has been already translated in English by Jennifer Delare and I hope to find a publisher for it outside of Italy.

Then on the editing side, I’ve worked with Bill Campbell, editor of Rosarium Publishing to publish an anthology called “Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International SF”, where we’ve selected stories from the best SF authors from the world coming also from Non-English speaking countries. And the same thing I’ve done China with Guangzhou Blue Ocean Press selecting SF stories for high-schools and universities students.


Find Francesco online:

Web Page: www.futurefiction.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/francesco.verso.31

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Francesco_Verso

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4817872.Francesco_Verso

Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Francesco-Verso/e/B005BOQNRY

Random Friday

Since I don’t really recommend non-fiction books, especially if they’re not books on writing or publishing, I thought I’d talk about it here. It was part of my research for the vampire novel, since I’ve never been to Mumbai. Bollywood Boy by Justine Hardy was an entertaining experience on her year-long attempts to interview Da Muse the year of his debut. So we’re talking about 2000 and 2001 Bollywood “gossip” that read 18 years later is sometimes funny.

What amused me was that they wanted to pair him with Aishwarya Rai from the beginning – it took them until 2006 to actually get in a movie together and there was even a very famous liplock that, when interviewed at the beginning of 2001, he didn’t seem ready to deliver…

Dhoom 2 – best kiss award 2006 (according to Barb)

He was definitely a shy guy carried away by his own sudden success, with impostor syndrome regarding his dancing skills! He had a long way to go before becoming the Greek God, LOL! Anyhow, it was BEFORE – for me there’s “before Dhoom 2” and “after Dhoom 2” that came after a year hiatus and he’s the best villain that ever was – but I needed to read that book to get a feel of what it was like in the early 2000s in Mumbai.

It was a pleasant read, like reading Mrs Funnybones, but from a European point of view – and since my protag is European and living in India, I did need the different view, right? I might have chuckled slightly less, Twinkle Khanna is probably funnier, but it was entertaining and interesting anyway.

And then on Saturday I did a drawing – call it Da Muse or call it Rajveer the vampire in 2005… After 2 failed attempts I was very happy to finish a drawing! 😉 So this is Rajveer who will soon discover he has a very famous lookalike… in the coming book! 😀

That’s all for today… have a great weekend! (for me it’s a long one, since June 29th is a holiday only in Rome!) 🙂

Writer Wednesday

And inbetween projects – going through the stories one last time before sending them to betas – I wrote less than 5K but I’m still on schedule. This week I hope to write a couple of short stories of the Star Minds Lone Wolves Team then I’ll move on to the next project… I should stick to SF during the month of July, but we’ll see! 😉

Oh, and by the way… not only you shouldn’t read your reviews if you’re an indie author, but also you shouldn’t reread the rejection letters, especially if it’s a personalized rejection that points out something! I made the mistake to re-read a rejection letter and it gave me all sorts of self-doubts… lesson learned, never again! 😉 Acknowledge the rejection and send out again (it even ended with “I’m sure some other editor might enjoy it” or something like that, but what stuck was the critique… masochist types, we writers, aren’t we?).

And in honor of upcoming Sci-Fi July, enjoy this article on terraforming ourselves and the history of SF! 🙂 It’s a good summary of what I learned with the online workshop on writing science fiction – at least the origins of the genre. I do need to write Post-Apocalypse Chronicles book 2 where you’ll see that Earth is not that bad off after a couple of centuries, but maybe I’ll do it in August instead of July.

Anyhow, for Sci-fi July you get: on the 4th Sci-fi Stories – Starships, an anthology of 10 short stories with starships in them, aaaaand the Sci-fi July Redux Space Opera bundle, with 10 novels of space opera and adventure! Both are already available for pre-order and look at all those great writers! I had trouble deciding the order of the stories or novels!

The bundle won’t stay out forever, so grab it now. The anthology will be out until they allow us to keep it out there – there has been trouble with Nightly Bites volume 1 paperback – and it will soon be joined by Sci-fi Stories – Space Opera Mashup with another 10 wonderful stories because I got so many I had to make two anthologies! 🙂

And then you’ll get the other two short novels of Star Minds Lone Wolves, Pilot and Hacker. This weekend I’ll be putting together that second anthology and preparing the next Star Minds Lone Wolves (short) novel for publication… stay tuned… Shanell is coming your way! 😉 With her new look (the old look is on Sci-fi Stories – Starships, drawn by Techie Bro) and she’s still the best starship pilot of the Star Nations and don’t you dare deny it! 😉

Hacker will come out with the second anthology on July 14th… And no, I haven’t done the cover yet, even though I’ve chosen the model! But I’m not sure about the background yet… 😉 Have a great week! 😀

Happiness is…

Sunday Surprise

And it’s a guest! Another fantasy author… Don’t you dare saying “Enough of them!” I love them fantasy authors! I’m one of them! 🙂 Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Andy Peloquin!

Where do you live and write from?

I have been living in Mexico for the last 16 years, but just moved back to my home country of Canada, where I am now living in the province of British Columbia.

Why do you write?

You know when you get up first thing in the morning and your bladder is so full that you have to pee? Well, writing is a lot like that for me! (Yes, I used a pee metaphor—shows what kind of writer I am.)

Writing gives me an outlet for all the creativity pent up within me. I am a terrible artist and adequate-at-best musician, so without writing, I’d have no other way to express myself creatively. Writing allows me to put pieces of myself out into the world, where people can connect with me through my stories.

When did you start writing?

I had an elementary school teacher that was passionate about the arts, and he would make us write poems and short stories for our classes. That got me interested in writing, but I didn’t start on my own until I was 15 or 16 years old. I wrote a few short pieces and the beginnings of a novel until I was 19, but stopped to pursue other activities. I didn’t really pick it back up until 2014, at the age of 25.

What genre(s) do you write?

Fantasy is my genre! Fantasy provides us with an escape, a way to forget about our mundane problems and step into worlds where anything is possible. It transcends age, gender, religion, race, or lifestyle–it is our way of believing what cannot be, delving into the unknowable, and discovering hidden truths about ourselves and our world in a brand new way. Fiction at its very best!

What does your writing routine consist of?

Monday through Wednesday, I only get afternoons to work, so I usually fit in a 2-hour slot between 3 and 5 PM. On Thursday and Friday, I get the full day for writing projects, so I’ll do three 2-hour writing shifts: 7-9 AM, 11 AM – 1 PM, 3-5 PM.

I like to have a little something sweet to write: coffee, tea, hot chocolate, chai, a cookie, chewing gum, etc. I also need lots of water and a great playlist to keep my creativity flowing.

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

I’d say I’ve learned a lot about crafting great characters and worlds through research and study of people around me and diving into psychology (as a hobbyist, not a licensed professional). I do a lot of research ahead of time so I can fully understand the story I’m shaping. When I sit down to write, it just flows because I’m already full of the subject.

This has led me to investing time into worldbuilding and character outlining (at least in broad strokes) before I sit down to write. It helps me get in the right headspace so I can create from a place of knowledge and preparedness.

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

Inspiration comes from everywhere: billboards, TV shows, movies, books, comics, video games, my family, random conversations, people passing by on the street, and the list goes on! Anything can spark an idea, and all I have to do is keep tugging at the thread of creativity to unravel the inspiration.

I find that I do tend to put pieces of myself into each story. I’ve been told “Write what you know”, and when I invest my characters with fragments of myself—my thoughts, beliefs, emotions, rationales, and motives—they come alive and become so much more interesting.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

Outliner, with room for improvisation. I have a “broad strokes” outline that helps me to stay on track, but I give myself all the wiggle room I need because there’s always something new and unique that pops up when I sit down to write.

Having an outline (and the above-mentioned worldbuilding) helps me to write fast. I can produce about 3,500-5,500 words in a 2-hour writing stint.

Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)

Darkblade Assassin is actually the first book that I ever published. It was originally titled “Blade of the Destroyer”, and it was released via a small publishing house. But in December 2017, I regained the rights to the book (and the two others released) and am republishing them under the new titles.

The Hero of Darkness series follows the Hunter of Voramis, an assassin with a mysterious past and a dagger that drives him to kill. On the surface, he seems like nothing more than a bad-ass, but he’s actually someone who (like me, like all of us) is looking to belong in a world that rejects him. He struggles with his “inner demons” (literally) and the dagger’s demand for blood. He may be an assassin, but in the human aspects, he’s someone that we can all relate to.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

I went the route of publishing two series via a small press, but I’ve decided that it was time to try self-publishing. I have more control over the books, and I can churn them out/publish them much more quickly. Given the ever-changing market, it seemed like the best option.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

This six-book series is totally written and with the editor, and I will be releasing the entire series between May 29 and September 4th. As that’s happening, I’m working on a five-book sequel series, which is set up via a murder mystery novel that features both the Hunter of Voramis and Ilanna, the thief protagonist from my Queen of Thieves series.

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

My goal is to tell the best stories possible, and to connect with people through the characters and situations I write. In order to do that, I have to take risks with my creativity. For example, writing the Queen of Thieves series was that risk, because I (being a 6’6” male) have no experience writing a small (5’3”) female. Writing the Queen of Thieves series was a huge gamble, but one I was thrilled to tackle because it challenged me to see life from the opposite perspective. It took a lot of research to get it right, but I’m very glad I did because it is still my favorite series to date.

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

Just let it flow. I’m the kind of person who likes to have everything figured out and in place before I start writing, but sometimes that kind of overthinking can stifle creativity. I’ve come to realize that I can organize myself with an outline, but ultimately the story will flow much better if I don’t have every little detail figured out. The story tends to shape itself within the structure, but it needs room to breathe and grow.

Links & Bio:

I am, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist–words are my palette. Fantasy is my genre of choice, and I love to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. I’m also a freelance writer, a book lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend hours talking about my fascination for the worlds I encounter in the pages of fantasy novels.

Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1383986274994456/

Website: http://www.andypeloquin.com

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8KnIEoUDWRJkAhJ16CN5Dw

Reader List Sign-Up: http://andypeloquin.com/join-the-club/

Fantasy Fiends Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheFantasyFiends/

Follow on BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/andy-peloquin

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/andypeloquin




10 Things You Need to Know About Me:

  1. Hot wings, ALWAYS!
  2. I never forget a face, but rarely remember a name.
  3. I’m a head taller than the average person (I’m 6′ 6″)
  4. Marvel > DC
  5. I was born in Japan, and lived there until the age of 14.
  6. Selena Gomez, Skrillex, Simon & Garfunkel, Celine Dion, and Five Finger Death Punch are all in my writing playlist.
  7. Aliens are real, but it’s self-centered of us to believe that they would come to visit Earth.
  8. Watching sports: suck. Playing sports: EPIC!
  9. I earned a purple belt in Karate/Hapkido/Taekwondo.
  10. I dislike most Christmas music, aside from Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Favorite Books: The Gentlemen Bastards by Scott Lynch, The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson, Sherlock Holmes by A.C. Doyle, Warlord of Mars by E.R. Burroughs

Favorite Songs: Wrong Side of Heaven by Five Finger Death Punch, Prayer by Disturbed, I’m an Albatraoz by AronChupa, Look Down from Les Miserables, Shatter Me by Lindsay Sterling and Lizzi Hale

Favorite Movies: 300, Red Cliff, Shoot Em Up, Love Actually, Princess Bride

Favorite Comics: Anything with Deadpool, Wolverine or Doop in it

Favorite Foods: Hot Wings, Meat-Lover’s Salad, A good sandwich (made by me), Yaki Soba, Sushi

Favorite TV Shows: The Flash, Daredevil, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hawaii Five-0, Brooklyn 99, Firefly (too soon!), The Last Ship, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones

Random Friday

Even though I try to stay positive, there are days where I do feel down for various reasons. Including how the internet is changing too fast and I’m sick of trying to keep up. Maybe blogging and individual websites are going the way of the dodo, but I keep finding new followers for this blog, while my Facebook pages don’t attract anyone.

So I guess some people still look outside of Social Media for stuff – much like I do when I research something or someone. I’m also sick of fake news and trolls and all the hatred going around, but there isn’t much I can do about it, so I keep going… except it sort of reflect itself in my writing.

I mean, the reality is so sickly that when I write, I want to go somewhere else – not a perfect world, mind you – and tell stories that help me feel better. It’s not easy to write comedy, but I’m not into drama either at this time in my life. And definitely not into horror, so I’m afraid my last vampire novel won’t have much gore in it. But then, none of my vampires through the centuries are very bloody.

I also can’t write romance while watching many relationships end up in shit and #metoo and all that stuff. Can we please get along? Maybe the apocalypse is already happening, we’re just not aware of it. If we make it through the darkness, we’re headed for the age of abundance.

Anyhow, if you feel you need some input on how to be a writer in this fucked-ass age of rot and resistance there’s some good advice there. I’m feeling I’m starting again a second career, still indie, still writing what I want to read, and even if I haven’t found my 1000 True Fans yet, I’m grateful for the handful I have.

I’ve got word from Writers of the Future. Of course I still qualify for their contest, but I don’t know what to send them at this time. Maybe a novella that was rejected elsewhere. Maybe nothing. They’re offering a book of writing advice for free… with their Volume 34.

I still have too many books to read, both fiction and non-fiction. I shall pass. Wrapping up the vampires this weekend so I can check the novella I want to send Tor when they re-open in July. And write another short story before diving in the next story that already has a cover.

Have a great weekend! 🙂

Writer Wednesday

Productive weekend meaning I finished a first rough draft of the vampire novel, I uploaded the first Star Minds Lone Wolves book and put together the first sci-fi anthology. 13K written, 3 covers (including the one for the bundle Sci-fi July Redux) and formatting that had to be redone Monday morning because 1) I found typos and 2) I hadn’t set up the title right, so it had been rejected at Draft2Digital.

So, here’s the universal link for Adventurer (Star Minds Lone Wolves) and the pre-order universal link for Sci-fi Stories – Starships! 🙂 The latter still has no cover on Amazon (sigh) but hopefully our man at BundleRabbit will solve the issue by the time this goes live.

The first cover – you heard about it on Sunday. The second cover is again by Techie Bro, one of his first, and newsletter subscribers already saw it on Starship Pilot which is also the story included in the anthology.

Now stay tuned, because you’ll soon hear more about Shanell. Her novel (and new look) will be revealed in July with the second sci-fi anthology.

The first three Star Minds Lone Wolves books will come out during the summer, but the next three probably next year. And I’ll have to do a few more composite covers of stock photos for my team in this sub-series of my science fantasy saga.

For the paperbacks be patient, you know I don’t like ordering them during the summer… 😉

Now, some writerly links! 5 ways to spice up your Amazon book pages – if you have time. I might do it for the newest titles, but not right now, LOL!

And setting free the Sacred Cows of Writing Advice which can then take you (if you haven’t seen them already) to Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing and Indie Publishing. Chuck Wendig might have lacked the courage to slaughter the Sacred Cows of Writing Advice, but Dean Wesley Smith has no qualms whatsoever! 🙂

My apologies to my Hindu friends. Know that in the latest vampire book, Kris and Kiran finish a poor sacred animal who has been hit by a car (black cow in a black night) and has been left to die on the side of the road. And I saw at least two of those when I did my tour of Rajasthan, so don’t say it doesn’t happen, okay? 😉

And yes, it was also in my fan-fiction crossover Indian Moon – which, by the way, is now slightly outdated, but I might add it at the end of the book anyway as a curiosity… Along with The Raven, published in Nightly Bites Volume 2! 🙂

That’s all for today… have a great week! 🙂

Happiness is…

Sunday Surprise


It’s coming! 🙂 Working on formatting and uploading, but I thought I’d give a sneak preview. It’s my first cover with a NeoStock model, a composite with DepositPhoto elements and some touch-up to make Liepa really look like Iso-bel Aya Shermac.

After a quick survey with my Facebook friends, I bought the initial choice of a pose – theoretically a UF pose – and changed the gun, since this is not UF but SF. I also turned the model’s eyes blue and added the background that could be Friport, the starship as big as a planet of adventurers and rogues.

(Here’s the WiP, although the final is not really final, since I “cleaned” the white space in her hair afterward and added the shadows)

I hope it doesn’t clash with the other Star Minds covers too much. I’m very excited with this sub-series with the third generation and you can expect the first three books to come out this year. Next year I might write another three.

The Lone Wolves Team is coming… stay tuned! 😀

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