Wednesday Weekly Roundup

The Kickstarter funded, but if you keep sharing it, we might reach another stretch goal, which means more eBooks for everyone! Meanwhile thank you to all those awesome backers!

If you like audiobooks, check out this Kickstarter as well! And the Soccer Moms are also getting audio books, in case you’re interested.

If you’re still hesitant about doing a Kickstarter for your own books, either listen to the interview with Monica Leonelle on Joanna Penn’s blog, or join the free course on Teachable, which will probably take a little longer, but it’s well worth your time (it’s what I did).

A bunch of authors got together to make two kickass anthologies to help the people of Ukraine. Snag your copies here!

Adamant Spirits:

Fierce Hearts:

Last week I wrote almost 10K, but I kept going back and rework the setting. It’s not a brand new world, but I also had to go through the other novel to remind myself about this world – I haven’t translated that one in English and probably never will, but you’ll get this story that is set much earlier in the history of that world.

While looking for something in my unfinished comic projects folders for the above book, I found a comic project that was supposed to be drawn by a friend who no longer does that (she has moved to body painting), so I’m thinking of trying to do it myself, with my new style, but I need to study the characters a little, since I do need certain women to look like women and not little girls, LOL!

So I might alternate writing the new book with studying for the new comic, and then I’m going to offer it to a publisher first, and if they don’t like it, I might try to put it on Webtoons or some other place, or maybe I’ll do a paperback like I did for the Silvery Earth Kids strip. We’ll see.

This week I printed out the PDFs of the paperbacks of Otherside books because I found so many typos in that Italian title, that I decided I better do it before I send them out as Kickstarter rewards! Createspace allowed to order proof copies that could then be given away, but KDPprint has that ugly banner, so I’d rather just print out the PDFs and go through them before uploading them.

I guess I’ll be busy until the summer with all those projects, LOL! Wishing you all a wonderful week!


Wednesday Weekly Roundup

Last day to get the Cattitude bundle! Grab it now before it’s gone! You don’t want to miss all those cat stories, do you? Get it NOW! Only a few hours left! 🙂

On Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter and why it’s good for us fiction writers. I am going to launch another Kickstarter this year, but it’s going to be a Kickstarter exclusive and I still need to write a few things for it, so stay tuned! 🙂

About those comics I got as Kickstarter rewards… The Woman in the Woods and Other North American Stories was the actual goal of the Kickstarter… it’s the shortest of the five, but I liked it anyway. I liked all the drawings and the First Nations stories were fascinating.

Then I read The Nixie of the Mill-Pond and Other European Stories – some well known like Rapunzel and Puss in Boots, but not exactly as I rememered them! And this is the one I like the least pertaining the drawings, which are important for me in a comic. An interesting take, for sure.

And last but not least, The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Stories (limited at Hawaii and Philippines, actually) to complete the collection. A good batch of 5 PDFs (since the printed version was unavailable and would have arrived much later anyway) with color covers and black and white interiors.

A List of Ukrainian-born SF/F Authors Whose Fiction is Available in English – if only my TBR pile wasn’t so high already… maybe I should bookmark the post and get back to it when my Kindles are less stuffed? Which might be a tad too late, but we’ll see…

Last week I wrote a little over 6K, but that’s two new stories that count towards that Kickstarter project. The one I worked on this week might spawn a couple more and they could be gathered as some sort of episodic novel – maybe.

When I’m done playing with this and sending out shorts to mags (yes, I’ve submitted a few since I won’t publish them for another couple of months at least), I will get back to longer works, but I haven’t decided which one yet (expanding a short story or continue Otherside or something else altogether).

Don’t worry, Otherside is concluded with the upcoming books (uploading the first one this weekend, so it’s coming), but I might consider a couple of sequels if I don’t find an alternate history that keeps my mind busy for a few months.

I’m quite scatterbrained at this time, so I better not announce anything until it’s set in stone (like the upcoming publication – the covers are ready, now to format that book 1 and wait for the editor to send back the rest and I’m ready).

I may revisit old series/worlds for now and leave a brand new project for next year or later, but we’ll see. Like I said, I can’t really make plans at this time, not even for my travels and vacations. I’m taking it easy and just taking everything as it comes to me.

I also need to finish what I started during the creative weekend – ink, color and letter the final waves of the strip – which might allow me to brainstorm on the next project or send me into depression because I can’t keep out thoughts of the world.

But I’ll definitely keep writing, since it’s the only way for me to stay sane, escaping to those other worlds and other stories! 🙂 That’s all for today… have a great week! And get that bundle before it’s gone! 🙂

Wednesday Weekly Roundup

So, between videos about Ukraine and Russia, funny pets and Karens put in their place, I stumbled upong a Zoomer explaining TikTok algorithms and how the social media works… I guess I won’t get anywhere with my account (especially since they keep silencing my videos if I put the soundtrack from my phone), but I’ll keep posting until I have fun.

Yes, he offers a free guide, but he wants my phone# besides my email… er, no, thanks, hon, I hate the phone and I definitely don’t want you to call me or message me or whatever you need my phone for. I’m not even American! 😦 Besides, I don’t have the energy to do what he says I should do at this time.

Last week was mostly editing, so not much writing done (a little over 5K), but I still feel sort of burned out, or at least my creativity is sleeping. I mean, I’m still writing, so everything is okay, right? Not! I have mentioned I’m unhappy with whatever I wrote in the past two years, and maybe my esteemed colleague Ron Collins is right when he says:

I was not “blocked” after all. I could still throw down words. But it was like I was a potter at the wheel. I could drop clay down, but that clay wasn’t forming. Life was so intense, you know. So undecided. On the one hand I felt “safe” in that so few of us needed to brave the pandemic (and “safe” in that I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I and my family can survive with my trickle of writing income), but that just served to make me feel guilty for being overwhelmed (when I knew so many had things worse). Looking back, I can see that while everything was stagnant, nothing was stable. If I looked forward a few months, I could not make any certain statements about what life was going to be like.

I might have kept writing and publishing, but wasn’t really happy with the results. So I might be even slower from now on, especially in publishing. I might keep those stories on file until I’m sure I can make them better, or keep writing them, or whatever it is I can do with them.

Yes, of course, I’m still writing, but you probably won’t see many results after I publish the Otherside books and a couple of other collections I have already written, and only need to be sent to Mighty Editor. I don’t know what my next project will be because I’m improvising.

Maybe I’ll go back to drawing for a while, or watch more movies or anything else that might boost my creativity (a suggestion I got from the post above, hence I suggest you read it all, so I’m re-linking to it).

I got some Kickstarter rewards, and since they’re not on Bookbub, I’m giving the Goodreads link. It’s comic books of fables and fairy tales from all over the world, with different artists and writers involved. The first I read is Tamamo the Fox Maiden and Other Asian Stories (mostly from China, Japan and India, but also a few more). There’s even a short version of Mulan, and a kitsune – and lots of tigers in the Indian stories! 😉

Then there’s The Girl Who Married a Skull: and Other African Stories – some drawings I didn’t like at all, and one of the stories was very similar to one of the Indian ones, but it was nice. There’s three more, but I’ll review them next week.

And then there’s another 20 or so ebooks of fiction (and one non-fiction) I still have to read, but I need to put them on the new kindle and I haven’t done that yet. I started on a big paperback of short stories, so it will probably take me some time to get to them. And I also have half-a-dozen or so in PDF that I want to print out (but maybe, eventually, I’ll just put the mobi file on my TBR list) and a few bundles as well… hopefully this is the year my TBR pile goes down! 😉

If you’re a sci-fi fan, you might want to check this IASFA bundle (no, I’m not in it, but I know some of those names!)!

Talented authors. Remarkable stories. One incredible science fiction collection. IASFA brings you a massive science fiction book bundle!

Bestselling and debut authors have created worlds where invasions are apocalyptic and space empires are in peril. The universe is beyond our understanding…and sometimes, what we don’t know can kill us.

Aliens, warships, royalty, intrigue, and battle, sometimes fought only within one’s mind, other times with railguns, plasma beams, and blasters. Never a dull a moment as you choose from fifteen full-length books. When we discover we’re not alone in the universe, will you be prepared?

IASFA’s Science Fiction Book Bundle, available now.

And that’s all for today! Have a great week! 🙂

Random Friday

Since it belongs to the dawn of indie publishing and the early years of this blog, I shall link to this old post about the Sweeties or Mercenaries?! as they were known to my old pen pals. What, you don’t know what I’m talking about? PEN pals used SNAIL mail (and it was really a snail, I remember it took 6 MONTHS to get to Australia by BOAT and you had to pay extra for air mail…) and at some point in the 1990s I had about 30, mostly in the US but also in the rest of the world, Down Under included. *waves at Nikalee*

Why am I bringing them back? Because of those two stories I wrote last week. I actually have a prose version of that comic in Italian but 1) it’s still the old version of the Varian Empire (it had a makeover when I wrote the Books of the Immortals) and 2) it’s really too episodic to be a novel. Either I make it a serial, sort of like Star Minds Lone Wolves Team, or it stays in the drawer.

One day I might scan and publish the comic, but that’s another long story. I even started redrawing it, and then stopped. So unless there’s a high request – I could make it a Kickstarter project or a Patreon reward, LOL! – my comics will probably stay in the stacks of paper folders.

What? You don’t know about PAPER folders either? Sheesh! Yes, I still draw on paper and make little use of Photoshop, so that’s why I’m not rushing to try DAZ Studio! 🙂

Ahem, well, so these two stories are with three of the original Sweeties and I estracted a sweet M/M romance and Princess Sapphire, who will be on the cover of this prose version along with Ludwig (see the above old post that leads to a guest post where he’s talking – I checked, the link is still good! 😉 ).

Stay tuned for mid-February. I still think I want to do more drawings – I got the proof of Beautiful Illustrated – but at the same time I feel there aren’t enough hours in the day. If I want to write, draw, translate AND publish while still having a part-time day job, I’ll have to give up something.

So no new comics for now. And no old ones either, considering that even the one I put on Kindle has 3 more issues that I never scanned and put up! 😉 (Fleur de Lys 1 & Fleur de Lys 2 I might consider doing the prose version, but like I said, after the failure with Lovers, I probably won’t!

Have a wonderful weekend! 😀

Random Friday

So, last week I was off Day Job and after a few days at home to work on Nightly Bites Volume 2 (by the way, it’s up for pre-order, yay!) I hopped on a train to Milan with my friend and cover artist Cristina Fabris. We arrived around 3pm and spent the afternoon chilling out in our hotel room – she had work to finish and I had a novel to check, LOL!

Friday we met with her friend and fan Michel at the central train station and headed for Cartoomics, where I was supposed to meet two more of my cover artists, Lawrence Wendigo and Rossana Beretta, to give them proofs of the book with their covers…

I also had a list of comics I wanted to buy since I hadn’t gone to a comicon in a few years, so I ended up with a very heavy bag. And since I flew back from Linate (I had to use my Alitalia miles, LOL!), I decided to send some of that stuff back by mail.

Saturday morning I went to the post office and sent to my parents 4,1kg of comics. Then we went to the bookstores around Duomo, where I lost my hat (in the Mondadori flagship store – and they got rid of the Espresso Book Machine, IMHO…), then we met with Franco Giambalvo of an Italian SFF site.

We had lunch with him then spent an hour at Tempo di Libri, meeting Francesco Verso, then, being wrecked, we went back to the hotel. Sunday morning, we got home separated, since I flew and she took the train again…

And yesterday I retrieved the box of comics from my parents… destroyed, but the interior was fine, yay! Now battling a spring cold, but wishing you a wonderful weekend! 🙂

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Love-story with… art

From the Merriam Webster:

cover of Thorgal #30 @ Lucca Comics 2008

Definition of ART

: skill acquired by experience, study, or observation <the art of making friends>
a : a branch of learning: (1) : one of the humanities (2) plural : liberal arts b archaic : learning, scholarship
: an occupation requiring knowledge or skill <the art of organ building>
a : the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced b (1) : fine arts (2) : one of the fine arts (3) : a graphic art
a archaic : a skillful plan b : the quality or state of being artful
: decorative or illustrative elements in printed matter

Examples of ART

  1. a piece of modern art
  2. It’s a remarkable picture, but is it art?
  3. The museum has a large collection of folk art.
  4. He studied art in college.

Origin of ART

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin art-, ars — more at arm
First Known Use: 13th century

What it is for me is probably different. I’m very visual, so I could put movies in the lot, but I’ll stick to “still” art for this post. Which for me is mostly comic books/manga/bande dessinnées or illustrations (and even if most contemporary illustration is photoshopped, there are still great painters out there who still use brushes).

Poison Elves #17 included in Guild Wars (my highlighting of passages)

Starting with those stories told through balloons, the obvious beginning were the Peanuts and Mickey Mouse (bleah) and Donald Duck (yeah) adventures, along with the Smurfs and Asterix (I was living in French-speaking countries after all! 😉 And no, I never liked Tintin). But, unlike most children, I didn’t stop reading them when I grew up. Italian versions of Grendizer and some issues of Spiderman and Fantastic four took me to the 80s. Then lack of money forced me to break my habit until the early 90s, when I discovered Thorgal and the comicons, independent Americans, more BDs (French/Belgian Bandes Dessinnées) and manga. Artists such as Drew Hayes (R.I.P., but he made me love an elf who chain-smokes and uses a gun – and I’m a non-smoker who prefers swords to guns!), Colleen Doran (A distant Soil is just great), Terry Moore (gotta love Strangers in Paradise, next on the list is his new story Echo) and Jeff Smith (Bone is unusual, and quite different from the previous ones). The manga invasion introduced me to Ikegami, Hojo and Katsura. I still buy those stories, especially when I go to France (or at the French bookshop in Rome) – and I make them, of course. And now you know all my influences! Some are now called “graphic novels”, others are still comic books or serials, and I still have to make it to the SanDiego Comicon (but I’ve been to the major French and Italian ones).

David from SiP by Terry Moore

I can tell you that some Thorgal covers (and I’ve seen two Rosinski exhibitions, in Angoulème and in Lucca) are real, big paintings I wouldn’t have room to hang on any of my walls (not to mention I could never afford to buy them anyway). His pages are works of art, he still paints or draw everything by hand – other, younger artists, such as Colleen Doran, are trying to become proficient at digital painting as well.

Another great painter is Larry Elmore, whom I discovered through the old TSR/D&D novels by Weiss&Hickman (he was the official cover artist). I met him twice at Lucca Comics (the Wikipedia pic is very similar to the ones I took myself… yep, the second time was in 2008! ;-)) and own a pencil original, but hope  one day I’ll be able to afford one of his paintings as book cover.

In the meantime I might ask Maurizio Manzieri – although he is quite expensive too, so maybe later… My official cover artist for the novels, starting with the Books of the Immortals, is Cristina Fabris. DON’T go to her site if you’re under 18, as she normally draws erotic comics. But she loves fantasy, so she’s doing my covers for a change. And she has to work without being able to read the novels because she can’t speak English… ain’t she a great friend? 😉 We tried to do comics together, but that collaboration ended soon without problems (unlike with another artist who is very talented, but I will not mention her), so I’m glad we managed to work together some other way…

News from the world

Frank Frazetta

I’m going to start with the passing of Frank Frazetta. Not a Conan fan, I never really appreciated his art, I guess. But then David Farland‘s Daily Kick in the Pants told me something about the person. Wow. Now I’m sorry I didn’t meet him. Because he was a nice person, not because I wanted to learn his painting style. I know he was one of the great illustrators of the XX century, it’s just that I couldn’t really appreciate his epic fantasy paintings – not a big fan of epic fantasy myself. So, I will miss him, even if he wasn’t my favorite illustrator.  And I thank David Farland for remembering him like he does and sharing his memories with us (the subrscibers to his daily newsletter, that is).

Another news is the one-year-milestone after publication of Jim Wisneski that I found through tag-surfing. I’m pointing you there because I think he makes very good points about writing. As a self-taught, unpublished writer, I can tell you I made tonz of them myself. My biggest mistake is – that I haven’t started querying yet, and that I don’t want to send out my short stories because I feel I’m not very good with shorter pieces. But well… somebody else made it, so let’s celebrate with him. He has made some money out of writing. It’s unrealistic for everybody wanting to make millions, but slowly I believe we can build a fortune. Especially with the so-called new-media, like e-books or podcasts or whatever. If you’re brave enough to record your writing, that is. 😉 So, kudos to Jim.

Lisa also remains in the Fresh Blood contest, so if you haven’t already, go vote for her (or someone else, if you wish, I’ve read all the excerpts and as I’m not a fan of horror, she’s still in pole-position for me). I even got a thank you e-mail from a judge with an excerpt of something else I still have to read… Anyway, let’s support each other, shall we? Even if we write in different genres – we should read anything in any genre anyway to become better writers. So hop on to Lisa’s blog and follow her instructions.

Ollie’s guest post was a success, so if anyone would like to write something for this blog, feel free to contact me. I will have to do a post sort of contradicting him soon, though, about the other face of Google Books. One thing is to use Google Books as readers, another as authors, apparently. More on this in a couple of days.

Cover of Ch.4 (now the rest!)

I’m still waiting for my prize from the Masked Ball competition, but the Italian snail mail can be exhaustingly slow. I’ll keep waiting and will let you know what it was when I get it. I wrote a conclusion to the back-story with the ball seen from Bianca’s POV, but I’m still editing it and waiting for Nikalee (whose story intertwins with mine) for her ending. Then we’ll send a copy at Mesmered’s for approval, then maybe we’ll do a free e-book on Lulu. BTW I’ve added the downloads in my Lulu shop, but at the moment you can only have graphic novels in English. The preview is active in case you want to have a taste.

I still haven’t put up chapters 2 and 3 of SKYBAND (and have to start chapter 4 tomorrow), but I haven’t decided what’s the best way to publish that graphic novel. Sometimes I feel it’s better viewed on screen, sometimes I think that comic books and graphic novels should be printed because it’s the best way to enjoy the art and the composition of the pages (dunno if this makes sense, but there is a pattern when an artist composes two pages that must come close – you often (not in my drawings, but pros do it) have those panels that take two pages, I don’t know how those come out in e-readers…). Any comment on that is welcome.

Keep writing!

P.S. the “glow-worms” in yesterday vignette seemed to gather curiosity… so here’s the Wikipedia picture of glowworms! 😀

Torino Comics

Maurizio's "stolen" doodle (there will be dragons, yay!)

I spent the past weekend at Torino Comics, a small (compared to San Diego, but also to Angoulème – French market – and Lucca – oldest Italian comicon) comicon in northern Italy. Precisely because it’s not such a huge happening, I think it’s still a good, personal experience.

Before the Comicon I went to my comic bookshop (where I have a discount) to make sure I wouldn’t spend too much at the fair. So I found out that Milo Manara, great italian artist known mostly for his women, has done a “short” X-men comic-book written by Chris Claremont, who tailored the story for him – in fact it’s only the X-girls Storm, Kitty Pride, Psylocke and Rogue having an adventure with Rachel and Emma Frost (I’m not a regular X-men reader, though).

the doodle inside the artbook

Then I took my Frecciarossa-train to Turin (4h30 via Milan) where I met Scott McCloud who was traveling with his family, but we were on different coaches, so traveled apart. But then in Turin my friend Fulvio picked us up and we took the McClouds to their hotel and then to dinner with Vittorio Pavesio who is a) the publisher who publishes the Italian version of Scott’s work (Fulvio did the translations of book 2&3) and who invited him to the comicon, b) the man behind Torino Comics itself, and c) an artist in his own right. So that was Thursday afternoon/night.

On Friday the convention started. We picked up the McClouds to give them their pass and I had a look around. There was some original art by Frezzato and Ryo Kanai who were also present. The first panel was Vittorio with Scott and Rio (with Fulvio and Massimo as interpreters – Massimo is the writer of the project with Ryon and an internet friend of mine that I finally met face to face). Then I had Ryo’s artbook autographed (first in line! :-)), and sat near Scott during his signing to help him with the 90% of Italians who don’t speak English.

Scott's drawing

At lunch I met Maurizio Manzieri, a great international illustrator, and Davide, another internet friend that now has a real face. I didn’t bring my camera, so no pics to share, sorry. In the afternoon again I assisted Scott at his signing, then went with Davide to catch a train – I slept at Fulvio’s who lives 80km from Turin (but trust me, it’s faster doing Vaglio Serra-Turin than Rome north to south or east to west) and that night had to stay in town for a VIP dinner-reading with Scott and other Pavesio authors.

Thus Friday was done for me – I bought only Ryo’s artbook and Davide&Massimo sci-fi/fantasy publication I will review later on (genre prose, not comic books).

the artbook

Saturday I bought Maurizio’s artbook and was first in line to have it personalized, then I sat between him and Scott, and “stole” one of Maurizio’s doodles (both Scott and I were very jealous of his talent ;-)). I watched Simone Bianchi and Lucio Parrillo paint live, met a couple of friends, had my Scott’s doodle and started saying good-bye, as Sunday I’d be traveling back to Rome with the Intercity train that does the coast (Liguria and Tuscany) and takes 7h15 (when it’s not late – once it took me 8h to get to Turin), but costs half the Frecciarossa (which means Redarrow, btw).

the drawing inside the artbook

So, there you have it, my busy weekend in comic-bookdom! Scott, Maurizio, Ryo (I hope your English is good enough to understand this), it was an honor meeting you – God bless your art in all its difference! 🙂

(I’m thinking of “stealing” from Facebook some pics of the live performances of the painters… mumble mumble… well, maybe next time! :-D)

Have a nice week…

April’s fool

I wanted something funny today and I remembered this 500pages comic I did – it was titled “Mercenaries?!” but I called them My Sweeties. They kept me company from 1998 to 2002 and almost couldn’t let them go. I kind of stopped drawing after their story ended (I did another, shorter one, then stopped for a few years altogether).

So, here they are – and these are their moods. Pick any for the day!

the whole gang ( r.): Birdsong, Hal, Rosebud, Erwan, Maxian, Brianna, Winged Brandred (seated) Ludwig, Sapphire, Rihannon and Winged Lilith

Lulu purchase and other comics

Eventually I got my order from Lulu (dated 31 Dec.2009, mailed end of January, received mid-February), which was a private print and a comic book (or graphic novel) by Laura Melis.

It’s a big book, and even if it says “part One”, I believe it’s complete. On screen it looks weird (it was created as a web-comic), but printed it’s fine. The storyline is not very original, but it’s not bad either. The artwork is sometimes very good, sometimes so and so. There are quite a lot of typos, I hope she has corrected them in the revisions.

I hope she’s selling it well on Lulu. I haven’t sold anything so far, so I don’t know. I might start looking for an agent again, possibly one who accepts also graphic novels, as my picture of Silvery Earth comprises novels, graphic novels and one screenplay (that I have novelized). But I’ll rant on that in my next post.

I should look for more of those self-published comic books, but I have to keep the money for my US trip, so maybe when I come back if I’m not broke, tee-hee! 🙂 The day-job is part-time, so I’m not really rich, am I. Anyway, I hope to find more – after all my favorite American comic books are all independent (i.e. not the super-heroes of Marvel and DC Comics). I’ll list them here FYI (as if anybody cares…;-)).

Barb’s recommended list of comic books:

Strangers in Paradise

Elfquest (the original series drawn by Wendy Pini)

A distant soil

Larry Elmore’s Snarfquest (he’s usually an illustrator)

Poison Elves

That’s all I have in English (there are some French BD I’d recommend, but I’m not sure there is an English version… Oh, yes, my favorite is also in English: Thorgal)…

Happy reading!

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