Sunday Surprise

And it’s a guest! Remember last July’s Kindle SFF event that showcased Technological Angel on Tim Flanagan’s blog? Well, I got meself a couple of those books and I’m very slowly wading through them. The Ultimate Inferior Beings struck me for the humor and the crazy story and everything else.  I like humorous sci-fi a lot. So I contacted the author, and he sent me this very interesting guest post – and now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll have to check my Kindle again with this new insight. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mark Roman!

Indexplicable by Mark Roman

 At the back of The Ultimate Inferior Beings, past the story itself, beyond the Glossary and just after the Appendices, you’ll find an Index. But there’s something wrong with that index. If you look closely you’ll notice that some of the listed page-numbers are beyond the end of the book, and there are multiple entries for common words such as “the” and “a”. The word “index” itself appears 16 times.

So, what’s going on? Did I mess up? Did my publisher mess up? Who should be held responsible?

I sometimes ask people if they’ve read the Index. They give me a puzzled look and humour me when I urge them to do so. Then, when I ask again later, they respond in a somewhat vague manner, “Er, yes, sure I read it.”

“Great! What does it say about you?”

This throws them. “Huh?”

I repeat the question and now they’re staring at me as though I’m mad. “It didn’t say anything about me,” they say. “It’s an index. Get a grip.”

Or words to that effect, before edging away, never to be seen again. Which makes me suspect they haven’t read it. Pity.

One reviewer liked it, although for the wrong reason. She felt its total pointlessness was in keeping with the book’s off-beat nature. So, she hadn’t read it, either. Disappointing.

The idea for it came to me in the shower many, many years ago. (I should, at this point, issue a Spoiler Alert. Skip this paragraph if you want to try cracking the Index yourself). I was musing about book indexes in general – like one does – and wondered how much of a book could be reconstructed from the index alone. Could one reconstruct the entire contents? What if every page of this imaginary book contained only a single word, and the index indexed them all? That would do it! So, off I went to write it – which took some time as it was in the days before personal computers, so everything had to be done by hand.

Eventually the Index ended up at the back of TUIB. I was confident readers would immediately spot that it wasn’t genuine; then they’d get to thinking … and soon afterwards, hey presto, they’d solve the puzzle!

So, did they? Has anyone actually read it? A few people have because I explained how to do it. Some managed to crack it fairly quickly just by knowing there was a puzzle to be solved; others needed more clues. A couple of months ago, I received an e-mail from a reader in the US telling me he’d read it. I know he’s not fibbing because he told me what the Index said about him. He’d done it without any clues, all on his own. Smart chap. Maybe there are others out there like him. I hope so.

Have you read the Index, by any chance? Really? Great! What does it say about you?


Book: The Ultimate Inferior Beings

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:



Random Friday

Whops, Friday already! Didn’t have time to watch movies between writing and beta-reading, but yesterday I was not busy at DayJob, so I brought some drawings to spend the lonely morning. Well, I also wrote a little, but mostly did the following.

When I finish SKYBAND (I swear I’ll finish it, hopefully this year, only 2 more chapters – 44 pages to go), instead of starting a new graphic novel, I’m thinking about a “collectors edition” of some of my shorter works (novella-length). Illustrated book for adults – my dream! :) So I’m doing some attempts – the first ones I did are with an unpublished work under submission, so I can’t show them here. So yesterday afternoon I quickly did this to show you what I have in mind.

prova3_resizeIt’s from The Death of Queen Amazonia, since we’re talking about that in the previous post, and since I have a colored drawing for that story. That’s supposed to be the beginning of a chapter or a new scene (if it’s a new scene, I’ll have the big letter and the first 2-3 words in that gothic font and the reast in TNR), but then throughout the whole text there should be illustrations or vignettes like in old manuscripts. Take a look at the Getty collection for an idea of what I mean. Although I’ll have a more modern font for most of the text, since the gothic ones are unreadable after some time.

This could be a hardback – Collectors Edition, like I said above – and a tribute to dead-tree books. There will still be an e-book version, but for people who like illustrated stories and art books, this will be special. I don’t know yet which titles I’ll do this way, and if I’ll be able to find a publisher or an illustrator to work with me. Maybe I’ll do a Kickstarter project for it! :D

And then, since I was thinking about a friend who put only 5 chakra in her story and went to the Wikipedia page for chakra (the Italian one, sorry, scroll down to see what I mean… the English one has different images…), I came up with his “tiles” or pattern with invented mantras (I mean, 3 are copied from Wikipedia, but the 4th is invented) – Shafali please refrain on commenting on my devanagari transcriptions, thank you! :) It’s supposed to be Silvery Earth, not India! :D

chakras_resizeSo I’m going to color this and use it either as a pattern or I don’t know. Maybe I could even use it in the frame above (on the sides, where there’s a blue pattern at the moment). I have already cut it so I can use it as a pattern, but I didn’t have time to color it. I’m posting it just to let you know how I spent the morning! :)

By the way, DeviantART says it has a software that reads your mind and paints accordingly… Here’s what my first attempt was like (and I wasn’t really concentrating on it, since I was chatting on Facebook at the same time, LOL!), and the second… I’m bad at drawing animals, but I can do better than that! Haven’t done a third attempt yet – maybe never will! ;) I can tell you that thing can’t read my mind – or if that’s my subconscious mind at work, gee! I’m worse off than what I thought! :(

Not much else to say at the moment, but hopefully next Friday I can do another “movie day”. In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend! :D

Writer Wednesday

AmazonSpringDTFAmazon Spring is now available for pre-order on Kobo only. I’ve experimented this feature with an Italian title (Star Minds Snippets) but there were no sales. So prove me it’s worth to have a pre-order thingy on a title – albeit only 15 days before release.

Yes, I could try to do a pre-order for Amazon Summer as well, since I now have the first story to work as sample (although it’s a novel extract, so nothing new), but… dunno. If anyone had experience with pre-orders, please chime in, thank you! :)

The e-book will go live on April 15, when it will be available also at the other retailers – except probably Apple, unless I manage to upload it to Draft2Digital before I head for Torino Comics. As soon as I come back on Sunday 13th, I’ll upload to Amazon, Smashwords and DriveThruFiction.

It’s a reprint of The Death of Queen Amazonia, The Slave (included in TSK1 since it’s actually set in the Southern Kingdoms – a traveling Amazon wandered a little too far from home…) and Doreen (included in BoI – Prequels) + I’m throwing in a new short story. It’s a good introduction to my Amazons, at the very low price of 2,99$ – I’d normally put this kind of length at 4.99, but since the only thing new is the cover and a short story (under 3K), it’s a special offer. It’s like buying The Death of Queen Amazonia with 2 bonus stories (since Doreen is already free anyway) and a new, better cover.

The cover is by wonderful Cristina Fabris who is currently working on Kol-ian and Ker-ris for the Italian cover of Slave Traders. Check also her other attempts at Kol-ian – it was hard to choose the final cover! :) And this was the WiP version of this cover… She will do all the seasons of the Queendom of Maadre and I’ve already seen the pencil of Amazon Summer. And if you like her art, she’s open to commissions.

The story I was writing last week is now titled Uncommon Amazons, will be in Amazon Summer and here you can see an attempt at cover that won’t be the final. Just because one Amazon clashes with the plural in the title, I’m using both… besides, there’s two of them who behave uncharacteristically! ;)

This month’s writerly schedule: write two more Amazon shorts by the 10th when I’ll head for Torino Comics and have a short break. When I come back, I’ll write more Tales of the Southern Kingdoms, and then in May I’ll do a first draft of the third body switch, with probably a short story/prequel to go with it… just because I might travel one week (I have 2 weeks off) and I don’t want to bring the translation of Male Lovers on a trip! ;)

Writerly links of the week! David Farland on getting back up. Don’t let anyone take you down. Never give up, never surrender. Okay, I watch too many movies. But you get the idea.

Dean Wesley Smith killing the sacred cows of INDIE publishing – yes, indie and self-publishing is hard work, but it’s worth it, trust me. Sometimes I want to bang my head on the wall (when I waste hours formatting for POD when I don’t sell any of them, even if I’m available at Powells and B&N and Amazon and whatnot), but it’s still quite rewarding. But mostly – you need patience and perseverance.

I’m starting to see results now – in year 4 of indie publishing! Year 1 (2011) gave 0 results. Year 2 a hundred bucks. Year 3 tripled the income. No, I’m not even close to quitting the goddamn DayJob, but I’m moving forward. I was hoping for a five year plan, it might take ten years instead, but there’s no going back. Getting back on that horse above after being thrown down, and blah blah blah.

Comparing yourself to others might help or not. If you have low self-esteem, don’t do it. If you use it to learn, just do it. Last news from Smashwords:

March 25, 2014 - Items.  1.  Scribd update on free Scribd subscriptions!  As promised in the original Scribd announcement on December 19, authors with books opted in to Scribd by January 1 were to receive a free one-year Scribd subscription valued at $100.  Considering that the Smashwords catalog didn’t go live in their system until February 28, some additional authors made it in after the January 1 cutoff so that’s great. The first 1,000 authors will receive emails today from Smashwords that contain activation hyperlinks.  It’s actually proven to be quite a complex task of issuing these activation links (a big thanks to our friends at Scribd for all their great work here!).  Assuming the first 1,000 recipients are able to successfuly redeem their subscriptions without difficulty, we’ll send out the rest.  If you receive the email, please follow the instructions carefully.  If you have difficulty, contact Scribd via the email address included in your email.  I’ll post an update here when we send out the second batch.

I got that e-mail (actually, 2, for both my English pen names), but I don’t remember my Scribd password or access – I know I signed up years ago, but ended up taking down everything. I’ll go look through my email folders to see if I can find it again… What do you think, is it worth doing it?

Now get back to writing. Have a great week! :)

Happiness is…

93aah, yes. Spring is here. Don’t worry, be happy. And finally another drawn happiness. Since it’s the last  of the month, I’ll stop commenting today! ;)

Sunday Surprise

… and it’s a guest! Another leg of her blog tour… please welcome Amaranthine author Joleene Naylor and – erm – her guest! :)

blog tour bannerHello! Joleene Naylor here, the author of Children of Shadows, book six in the Amaranthine series. First I’d like to thank Barb for letting us hang out on her blog today. Hopefully we don’t make a mess.

I’m here with Jorick, the hero of my vampire series. Although he looks unenthusiastic, I promise you he’s really excited. Just look at that face:

Jorick (insert Barb drooling over him here)

Jorick (insert Barb drooling over him here)

See? It has excitement written all over it.

Jorick: The only thing I’m excited about is the potential break between books.

Jo: Why? Thanks to my real life problems, you already got an extra five months between the last book and Children of Shadows.

Jorick: And you made up for it by torturing us, didn’t you?

Jo: I don’t think so. If anything I was too soft on you in the new book.

Jorick: You would say that. Sorry, but I think that resurrecting an ancient cult to try to kill us, letting Munich keep us prisoner, having us attacked by our allies-

Jo: Hey, hey! You wanna give away the whole book? Geeze. Quit complaining. At least I didn’t kill you.

Jorick: You can’t. The fangirls would riot.

Jo: I don’t know. Verchiel – that vampire you love to hate – is getting quite a following. In fact I had a request for a picture of him in his underwear. I mean there you were in yours and people thought-

Jorick: Excuse me?

Jo: You know, the paper doll of you? So they wanted to see Verchiel too, so I posted it on my FB author page and-

Jorick: I don’t want to have this conversation.

Jo: All right then, back to the book. Would you like to tell our readers what it’s about?

Jorick: It’s the sixth book in the series, wherein our horrible author finds new and creative ways to make us sorry she ever learned to string two sentences together. Not that she does that effectively, mind you.

Jo: Hey!

Jorick: It starts on a lovely beach, but our author can’t leave us there. No. She makes Wolfe, the minion of Munich, demand we go back to the vampire stronghold in Germany and testify about what happened in the cave at the end of the last torturous book. That’s when an extinct vampire cult resurfaces and decides to try to destroy half the world, which leaves us in a precarious position for a lot of reasons. The only semi-good thing is that someone shows up who claims to know that idiot, Verchiel, and he’s in a tight spot for several chapters.

Jo: You really dislike him. Why?

Jorick: He’s arrogant. He’s obnoxious. He doesn’t take anything seriously.

Jo: And you can’t read his mind so you have no idea what in the hell he’s up to.

Jorick: I don’t need to read his mind to know what he’s up to. He’s always trying to get Katelina alone.

Jo: You’re really suspicious, huh?

Jorick: Of course I am! Especially with you as an author!

Jo: Well I can promise that at the end of children of Shadows she’s most certainly not alone with Verchiel.

Jorick: Oh, ha, ha. I know where she is, thank you very much. What I’d like is a guarantee on the next five hundred books. Or you could just let me kill Verchiel.

Jo: I could but…no. Not happening, slappy. If I let anyone kill him it would be – whoops. Never mind.

Jorick: What? Are you considering it?

Jo: I think that’s about all the time we have. Thanks to my surly vampire hero Jorick for taking the time to talk to me, to Barb for hosting us, and to you, the reader, for reading. Be sure to check out the giveaway link and enter for a chance to win some awesome prizes.

Barb sez: It was a pleasure having you both. You’re the reason why I started reading about vampires again (after reading Anne Rice in the 20th century)… And sorry Verchiel is driving you crazy, Jorick, but someone has to, otherwise you’re too cool! ;)

joleene naylorBio:

Joleene Naylor is the author of Amaranthine, a paranormal series where vampires live in the shadows and don’t sparkle. In her spare time she is a freelance artist, book cover designer and photographer. You can find information on all of her pursuits at her website . She also maintains blogs full of odd ramblings and hopes to win the lottery. Until she does, she and her husband live near Bolivar Missouri with their miniature zoo and a couch coated in cat fur.


CoS-thumbThe sixth installment of the Amaranthine series pulsates with the dark blood of vampire lore.

The Children of Shadows, a vampire cult not seen for hundreds of years, resurfaces to wage war on the vampire guilds. Led by a familiar face, the cult wreaks havoc while Katelina and Jorick are trapped in Munich. Ume, a mysterious vampiress, claims to know Verchiel and offers the help of her secret organization. But can they trust her?

As mysteries are solved, new ones appear. Why have the Children of Shadows returned, and is it really a former ally that leads them, or a look-alike?

Legends rise and secrets are revealed in a world where vampires walk, drenched in blood and shadows.

Buy links:


Amazon Kindle

B&N NOOKbook

Smashwords -


Find Joleene:


author blog

FB author page


good reads

facebook profile


and last but not least:

giveaway link

enter for your chance to win one of three awesome prizes:

1st prize: Amaranthine t-shirt (size is winner’s choice), set of bookmarks, and $20 gift card for Barnes and Noble or Amazon (winner’s choice).

2nd prize: Amaranthine t-shirt (size is winner’s choice), bookmark set

3rd prize: The last Executioner trading card set

blog tour banner

Random Friday

Did you miss my Art Fridays? ;) Yes? No? Well, you could expect one, since last Friday I said I’d spend the weekend drawing Da Muses! Except I managed to draw only one, because I spent the Sunday doing something else.

Ahem! Whatever… last Saturday pencil portrait…


And then on Sunday I did this – to be composed on the next Amazons cover, probably titled Uncommon Amazons (yes, that’s the one I was talking about in the previous post). I don’t know yet if I’ll use both ladies or not, I’m trying different compositions. And yes, there’s also a man, although men shouldn’t be on the cover of Amazons stories! ;)

AmazzoniCol_resizeSometime on Monday Firefox crashed and I’ve been struggling with Internet Explorer and Google Chrome since. Hopefully today I can snatch Cristina’s copy of Firefox and reinstall it. I managed to save the bookmarks, thanks to Techie Bro, but I hate these changes. Like the Facebook layout changes (or even the WP changes for that matter…).

Suggested reading – not by me, since it’s still on my ToBuy list, but I still have dozens of fiction and non-fiction books on my Kindle to read (some I bought when I bought the Kindle, so in 2011!!), so it will stay there for a little more. Anyway, according to Michelle, it’s unmissable – whether you’re an introvert (like most writers) or an extrovert (like the rest of the world)!

Have a great weekend! I’ll be drawing with Cristina tomorrow, but Sunday is formatting/uploading day… POD included… sigh! :( But if I finish early, I get to do another pencil portrait, yay! :D

Writer Wednesday

Okay, today I have plenty of writerly updates, so I’ll delight you with my ramblings. First, I sent my submission to Fantasy Magazine. If it gets rejected, I’ll submit it to Wyrd Worlds II. If you write SFF, you might want to contribute a piece too – check Wyrd Worlds I (it’s free) and here are the guidelines for Wyrd Worlds II.

I also entered my novelette in Writers of the Future, but results for this quarter will come out in June/July, so you won’t read it before the end of July. End of written stuff – that’s the only two works in English completed this year so far, and since they’re shorter than average, I’m trying submission to traditional magazines first. Just in case, I might be nominated for a Hugo next year, LOL!

I’m in full writing mood now, so here’s the latest. First, I want to thank Da Muses, who do drive me crazy in real life (as if I ever met any of them, LOL!), but they gave me that sparkling idea for the new body switch. So that’s what I’m going to write next, B.G. Hope’s third body switch.

In the meantime, I’m back on Silvery Earth, more precisely the Queendom of Maadre for an Amazons story that will be included in Amazon Summer – book 2 of the stories of the Queendom of Maadre. I “recycled” two short stories I wrote last century (bone) and I’m now putting the meat on it as I get back into the (new) story.

I’m saying this realizing how my writing routine has changed in 30+ years. First drafts of new stories are still quite improvised, but when I translate/rewrite (a.k.a. recycle) old stories, it’s a different process now. This particular story (underwent a couple of title changes already, so I won’t name it yet) springs from a summary dated 1987, written in 1991 as a fairly longer outline with lot of telling to which I have added a prequel about Miria (princess of the Amazons who ends up marrying the Varian Emperor in CVE3) that I won’t use in Amazon Winter (where I’ll keep another short story about her youth).

So I had to mix two different stories with different casts and make up a new virtual cast for myself before actually being able to work on this. Only at that point did the characters start talking to me and the story is now developing fine. But instead of writing in chronological order, I’m throwing in the new scenes as they come – which means when I’m done I’ll have to carefully reread a probably messy first draft for continuity. But that’s the beauty of creation, so I’m not complaining!

So that’s all for this week. Just keep writing, and remember: No One Knows, like Joe Konrath rightfully pointed out!

Happiness is…

92Do the two people involved remember this conversation? ;) Although I’m afraid that group is quite dead by now, LOL! :D


Sunday Surprise

…and it’s the writerly wisdom of the month! Enjoy these writers’ quotes and have a great Sunday! :)

In fact, long ago I set a goal: if I’m going to write something, I want it to accomplish two ends: the project must be commercially viable, and I have to have fun doing it.

Sometimes, I admit, I worry far more about having fun than about making money. I tend to mismanage my career. If I only wanted to make money, I’d write as commercially as possible, sticking to a single genre. I do neither. In any case, there are good reasons to write for fun.

- David Farland

Just continue to write, writer.  Find your audience.  Don’t waste your time on promotion.  Write, write, write your a$$ off. That’s the best promotion there is. Forget about Twitter, spamming Facebook walls, getting all your friends and family to leave you glowing reviews.  Don’t do it.  Just write.

- Indie Books List

Write a lot of good stories. Not beautiful words. Good stories. Remember, fiction gets translated into a variety of languages, and in those languages, your original words get lost. Only stories get translated, stories with great characters, great plots, and unforgettable moments.

- Kris Rush

A writer knows they’re successful when they personally feel like they’re successful. That may sound like cheesy mumbo jumbo, but it’s true. Depending on one thing to be an indicator for success is unhealthy whether you reach the goal or don’t reach the goal. Success isn’t static, nor is it solid. As long as you keep moving toward the next thing you personally want to succeed in rather than trying to succeed in something that holds more public value to you than personal, you’ll be successful. (…)

Give yourself goals to achieve, but don’t write your books solely to reach some general indicator of success. Write your books because you love writing them and you want people to love reading them. Give your books your best effort and, when/if you succeed on a public level, it’ll come as a pleasant surprise.
As long as you personally feel successful, you’ve succeeded as a writer. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

- Tiffany Cole

So the indie publishing movement near the end of 2012 is still in some flux, as it should be after only three or so years in this new electronic-added world. Many writers are doing books or backlist titles themselves, but at the same time indie publishing is seeing the early adaptors starting to get discouraged and dropping out.
Again, this is nothing new in publishing. To make a career in publishing, you have to be ready for a long haul, often over decades. Most writers who went indie two years ago didn’t want to do that, didn’t find the “gold” they were promised after a ton of wasted promotion efforts, and have stopped. Nothing unusual at all. Writers starting off and then quitting was always the way it was even when I came into publishing back in the dark ages. Nothing different. But now it’s not quitting after fifty rejections, it’s quitting after three books up and very few sales.

- Dean Wesley Smith

Random Friday

Yesterday I noticed the WP emoticons looked different – and yes, they’ve changed them. Oookay… whatever… I wonder if there’s the secret emoticon for rolling eyes… 8-)

It’s good to have two Muses, but this year they’re both driving me crazy! ;) I don’t mean to intrude on their privacy, but I’m worried about Hirthik’s health (since he dropped out from a project and seems to have fallen off the face of Earth at the time I started really following him, meh!), so I wouldn’t mind him posting on Facebook from time to time to show he’s still alive.

Okay, he’s back to work, and in Delhi no less. Fine. Still have a movie coming out  in October, so OK. But lack of news is not always good news. And I would have loved some English subtitles on the extra DVD of Krrish3 as well – some things didn’t need them, but the discussion about the screenplay was all in Hindi. Grr. Okay, I forgive you even if you don’t kiss me, Hrithik (that’s Keanu in Something’s Gotta Give, in case you’re wondering)! ;)

As for Keanu, I had my Sunday-bad-news, since my Google alert lands in my inbox every Sunday at 8am. And most of last week’s alerts were about Passengers being dropped in development hell again. My (private profile) Facebook status Sunday morning:

WTF?! Why am I not an actress?! I’ve read the screenplay in 2008 and been looking forward to it since then…. AAAARGH!!!

Yes, I read the script when it was blacklisted in 2007. I was told “It’s at K.R.’s company, it will be made soon”… Six years later I’m still waiting. I loved it, it’s a great sci-fi story, why can’t they make it?! :(

My Actresses friends either don’t speak English or are not interested. I’m a very good virtual actress (in my head, haha), but in reality I’d rather watch a movie than be in it. So my suggestions for a female lead – from Keanu’s co-stars (who hopefully are still friends with him):

Sandra Bullock – c’mon, Sandra, this is very different from Gravity, more like The Lake House. You can get mushy with Keanu again. And it would be your third movie with him! :)

Charlize Theron – c’mon, Charlize, it’s not Aeon Flux, more like Sweet November. And it would be your third movie with Keanu as well! ;)

Cameron Diaz – if you did sci-fi, Cams, it escaped me. So you should try it. It would be only your secon time with Keanu, but well… why not?

And no Angelina Jolie, thank you! :(

47 Ronin came out in Italy last week, but not in any cinema showing the original version. Since I hate to hear him dubbed, I’m going to pass… Now I’m going to spend the weekend drawing both Da Muses and trying to forget they drive me nuts! :) Have a great weekend!


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