Sunday Surprise


And it’s another bundle author! And I’ve even met her in person, although that was 8 years ago – almost. Where did time fly? Sheesh! Anyhow, from Canada, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Marcelle Dubé!

Where do you live and write from?
I live in the Yukon, in northern Canada. That’s where I do most of my writing, though I’ve been known to write in Montreal, Vancouver, Oregon, Europe, and various airports along the way.

Why do you write?
Because I can’t NOT write. Believe me, I’ve tried.

When did you start writing?
I was about 16 when I first started. After a few years, I stopped. Almost 15 years later I starting up again and haven’t stopped since.

What genre(s) do you write?
I write fantasy and science fiction, mystery, contemporary fiction… just about anything. One day soon I’m going to try a western!

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Let your two-year-old self out when you write. As in, don’t let your inhibitions or society’s constraints stop you from writing what’s in you to write.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
My goal is to keep growing. I challenge myself by trying something new with each new project… either a new technique or a subject matter that scares me – for instance, in my last novel, Shelter, I wrote about something that scared me enough to keep me awake nights.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
I am definitely a “pantser,” as in I write by the seat of my pants. I’ve tried outlining, but once I’ve done the outlining, I feel like I’ve already written the story, so what’s the point of carrying on? Being a pantser has the advantage of never being bored as you write, but it also feels as if you’re always sailing off the edge of the world, in total darkness. And it means — for me, at least — that I write slowly, because sometimes I have to wait and let my conscious mind catch up with what my subconscious is doing. And sometimes I paint myself into a corner and then have to figure out how to get out of it. Very frustrating.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle
In Jilimar, Leah’s husband Owen can’t remember the first fifteen years of his life but Leah doesn’t care. They love each other and are building a life together. But a little part of her always worries that one day, Owen’s past will catch up to him.
When it finally does, Leah knows that, somehow, their neighbor Hector is involved in Owen’s disappearance. Before she can confront him, however, she is attacked by monster dogs, rescued by a man using a bow and arrows, and knocked out.
Then she wakes up on a different world, one on the verge of madness and war.
Now she must learn to survive in this strange place where the touch of a wraith can cause murderous madness and staying out in storm season spells certain death. She grows fond of the kind strangers who take her in and teach her the rituals that help protect against the wraiths. The rituals keep her alive long enough to discover the secrets of this new world, and of the stranger she calls husband.
Then she learns that the madness threatening Jilimar will soon descend on Earth, and only she can stop it.

Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)
My latest novel is Shelter.
It’s a modern gothic story featuring Ash Gantry, a young woman on the run from her abusive husband. After six months, Ash finally finds a place to call home in Albans, Ontario. But her new home hides a dark secret, one even more dangerous than the man hunting for her.

Any other projects in the pipeline?
Well, yes. I’m working on finishing the fifth in my Mendenhall Mystery series, featuring Mendenhall Chief of Police Kate Williams. I’m also working on the second in my SF/F/alternate history/mystery (did I mention my stories don’t fit into neat category boxes?), the A’lle Chronicles. The first one is called Backli’s Ford. And, in between, I write short stories.

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Find Marcelle online

Webpage

Goodreads

Twitter

 

Random Friday


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

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

“Indian Tales”

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend! 🙂

Writer Wednesday


And we have another Vampires Through the Centuries story out! Check out Indestructible, with the cover of awesome Shafali Anand! Some retailers might not show it yet, since I uploaded it after I set up the pre-order button. I had to manually add it on Amazon after release and the Smashwords Premium Catalog doesn’t immediately update a book when I make changes to it. The fastest one was Kobo! 😉

And since I want to try to participate in a Kobo promo this month, I decided to re-publish the Books of the Immortals Box Set. It is now available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes&Noble and Apple at 4.99$ for the time being. I had to reformat it completely, which took me a couple of hours to go through the mammoth 1000+pages document.

So, final April wordcount was a little over 30K. This month I need to write 4 stories about the fall of the southern kingdoms, then in June I’ve taken up the Novel Challenge, so I’ll be busy with novels for the summer months! 🙂 I need to write Shashank’s book anyway, and if I can write it in a month, the better. I also want to redraft a sci-fi novella which I might have for Worldcon.

Some writerly links: how you should really really really stay away from agents and start learning some business. I’m not business-oriented either, but when I read those stories I just want to scream in frustration. It’s another reason to be indie, but then, I’m a control freak! 😉

I didn’t know about the Smarter Artist Summit, but I may attend in the future, now that I know it exists! 😉 It sounds like a great networking opportunity… And I’ve been to Milan for the Kobo/Mondadori contest, so I’ve been at the ceremony and met the Kobo team. They’re all quite nice, especially the Kobo Europe ladies.

Now back to writing! Have a great week! 🙂

Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise


And here’s another bundle author! This time from the U.S. of A. and I even had the pleasure to meet her – although both being introverts, our conversations weren’t worth listening to… but our books are worth reading, I promise! 🙂 So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Sabrina Chase!

Where do you live and write from?

Seattle.

Why do you write?

My favorite writers don’t write as fast as I read–and I like telling stories. Then I discovered it was even more fun having readers!

When did you start writing?

I think I was around 13, probably a school assignment. That poor teacher probably wondered where the spaceships came from. I make no apologies for my love of spaceships.

What genre(s) do you write?

Science fiction and fantasy of all flavors (steampunkish alt-history, high fantasy, YA adventure)

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

My goal is writing that sucks the reader in, transparent and immersive. Readers should not even be aware of the page or the writing, just the story. I also want my books to be the kind that people read again and again for pleasure, like old friends.

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

Use all five senses to really draw the reader into the world you’re creating. Never forget you are competing for the reader’s beer money (i.e. deliver entertainment and value).

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

Improviser, or pantser. I vary on speed, never as fast as I want to be… there are too many books I want to write.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle.

Firehearted was the very first book I wrote. It started off just as a short story, but one of my beta readers got quite agitated and insisted there was more and I had to write it. I used things I learned from my military history hobby, filing off the serial numbers of some historical battles and using them in the story. At heart it is about how different cultures have different descriptions of honor, but they all have the concept of honor–and understanding the core allows for mutual respect. Also, pet tigers are cool!

Tell us about your latest book.

One Blood is the continuation of the story started in The Scent of Metal, which was my revenge-for-Pluto book. Pluto is really an abandoned alien ship! And a computer geek explorer wakes up the AI by accident. Find it on Amazon.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Soul Code , the sequel to One Blood with more evil aliens and rescued AI ships!

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Find Sabrina online

Website

Twitter

Author Central

Goodreads

 

Random Friday


So, in between short stories (submitted and rejected very quickly, but I keep sending them out) and readings, I managed to watch another DVD, Midnight’s Children. What can I say… I like the movie (narrated by the writer himself), but I probably wouldn’t like the book, even though the screenplay was written by the writer of the book. Not my kind of book, I’m afraid.

With the Italian holidays, I also finally opened an account on Vimeo, so I could post my video on Patreon. Soon all my book trailers will be uploaded again, yay! 🙂 Not that they help selling books, but well… I have fun doing those things with Windows Movie Maker, so I might as well share them! 😉

And I got the proofs of Quests Volume 1 and 2, so hopefully the paperbacks will soon be available. I had to redo the covers, but this means I have two books to sell at Worldcon – and if I don’t find anyone there, I’ll do a Goodreads giveaway. The spines weren’t correct as you can see.

I still use Createspace, although I might eventually experiment with KDP print. Maybe for thinner, cheaper books. But there’s still this little problem:

Amazon states more features will be added over time but currently, authors cannot order proofs of their books. Ouch. So the book goes on sale before an author can view the final product to ensure everything—fonts, cover graphics and colours, page numbers, headers and much more—are the way they’re supposed to be.

And everything else stated in this article about the two services. I don’t have that many Canadian readers, but I have a lot of Canadian author friends (including co-bundlers Karen Abrahamson and Marcelle Dubé), so I feel their pain! 😦

Next week I’ll let you know my wordcount for April… If I forget, remind me! 🙂 Have a great weekend! 🙂

Writer Wednesday


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Happiness is…


Sunday Surprise


As promised, I shall start introducing you to my fellow bundle authors! And the first is ahead of me, down under, so I thought it would be perfect to introduce her first! 😉 Although she was the first to answer my questions probably because she’s ahead of the rest of us… And hey, we have the same writing guru (altough we did different online workshops from his list)! 😀 Anyhow, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Diane J. Cornwell!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in a country town in Northern New South Wales, Australia, about 2 hours from a major city and an hour from the closest beaches.

I love the peace and quiet, and slow pace of a country lifestyle, which is so different from the fast pace of cities.

Why do you write?

To amuse myself.

When did you start writing?

In primary school.

What genre(s) do you write?

So far, I have written in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Cosy Mystery.

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

My goal as a writer is to continue to learn how to write stories that immerse the reader from start to end without putting the book down. Basically write every story as a Page Turner while leading the reader on an emotional journey.

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

Best advice? “Keep writing and keep learning” from Dean Wesley Smith.

The next best advice was from Boy George talking about singing. He said “Break their hearts.” I took this to mean let the reader feel the emotions of the characters in each story.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I outline just enough to know where the story leads, then wait for my muse to change direction as the action unfolds. And enjoy the story as I write it.

I would say I am a slow writer, as I only write in the mornings, averaging 500 to 700 words per hour. If I am not interrupted by family and friends, or chores requiring my attention, I can keep writing for 3 – 5 hours.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle

Rider is the first in my Tracker series.

It came about during a Dean Wesley Smith workshop course on Genre differences. One assignment gave us a male protagonist who works with horses and an female assassin antagonist, in a big city setting, searching for a missing person. I had to come up with story outlines for Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I let my muse play with the four outlines since I was out of my depth with Romance and Fantasy. Fun, to say the least. Yes I got the assignment done, and finished the Genre workshop.

After the workshop, I was planning on writing the SciFi story, but a Series course was developed by Holly Lisle, so I changed tack and chose to work through the series course writing in the new fantasy world I created based on the fantasy outline during the Genre course.

Thankfully, I am still amusing myself after writing Rider, Guard, Judge and Mage. Now I am writing the fifth Tracker story, I hope to tie up all loose ends developed over the four stories. I want to end the series positively, in case I want to add more stories to the series in a year or two, but I can’t guarantee there will not be any deaths of main characters or even minor characters.

When I have completed the Tracker series, I still want to write the Science Fiction outline from the workshop. And if I have time, the Romance and Mystery outlines at some future date.

You can visit the Tift Publishing Tracker Series page to see the covers and blurbs of the rest of the published Tracker series, and follow the links to the different distributors. However, I don’t expect the fifth book will be ready for a few months, as I have to finish writing it, then get it edited while the cover is created and approved. As soon as possible, the cover will appear on Tift Publishing home page and Coming Soon page, advising the publishing date.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I definitely don’t have a problem writing outlines from one or two ideas. There are always ideas popping into my head. If I think they are worth following up at a later date, I write down enough of the idea outline, 2 – 3 sentences, to remind me later what I was thinking, then promptly forget it while I work on current WIPs. Otherwise I would not get any stories completed, because I would jump from one idea to another.

An example of other projects is, while writing one scene, I wanted a talisman for the assassin, so I stopped writing to make a tatted bangle with beads. I had to borrow a jewellery making book from the library to work out the clasp. Once done, I went back to the scene and added the details of the tatted bangle. Then had to add the bangle onto the assassin’s arm in the cover images. Here’s a link to my djmills writer blog page with images of the bangle.

Story reveal here so stop reading if you want to read the stories.

SPOILER ALERT

SPOILER ALERT

My assassin, Misty Locke, is not a mage. Can’t do any magic at all. So, mages can stop her from killing them, if they are quick and agile.

She can not receive images in her mind from dragons and tracker horses. As she rides a tracker mare, Sweetie, but can not “hear” Sweetie communicate, and can not receive dragon images in her mind, I worked out how she could receive a talisman so that she can “hear” both trackers and dragons. The dragons would gift her a talisman, with the magic in the beads to allow her to receive dragon images.

The side benefit was she could also “hear’ her tracker mare, Sweetie, when she touched the talisman. You can read about the dragon talisman on my writer blog.

This was done to keep true to the culture in the Tracker series world. Now I am thinking about tooth extraction of citizens of Convane by medic mages or ordinary citizens. Fun and games.

If you want to learn more on my creative efforts you can follow my writing blog.

Or my DianeJCornwell author blog announcing new releases and sales, and other information for readers.

You can also sign up for the Tift Publishing Newsletter to announce each release and other publishing news, or by clicking the Tift Publishing link on the other two blogs.

Random Friday


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

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

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

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

Anyhow, have a great weekend! 😀

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