Happiness is… Redux


Wednesday Weekly Roundup

Last week I wrote 13K, finished a draft 0 (to be revised when I travel on the 23rd) and started a Part 2 to make a sequel longer, albeit still a short novel (can’t let go of that character, no!) Even though I’m quite in the future by now, I don’t seem to be able to let go of the Future Earth Chronicles, although I’ll have to write the prequel next!

And the new book is out! Follow Megan’s journey more or less parallel to the first five books and get ready for the continuation of the plot! Raj and Bel have gone home, but the younger members of their party are still out and about!

Megan is Rainbow Town’s ultimate punk-rock star, but an attention-grabbing newcomer is irking her to the point she decides to leave her golden prison.

Led by Richie, Megan, her best friend, Lucy, and Carlos dig their way out of Rainbow Town. After an unfortunate experience with a white settlement, Megan and Richie decide to try living with the First Nations who got their ancestral lands back.

Three years after leaving Rainbow Town Montana, Megan’s path crosses the Wanderers seeking the truth behind Rainbow Town. The post-apocalyptic warrior woman must learn to trust the newcomers and follow the adventure song.

An oldish article that still fits today – your entertainment choices are not your identity.

“Producing things for others is the difference between being a grown-up and being a child, and once making something rather than defending the purity of medium or the problematic aspects of a spending habit becomes routine, you find that you spend a lot less time unhappily screaming about raped childhoods and the SJW menace. There’s a reason that, whenever a criticism is raised against something like a game or a TV show, the first response is always someone shouting, “If you don’t like something, make your own.” It’s because that person feels like he can’t and he assumes you can’t either.

But you can, you know? You can make the thing. People do every day, and the more you do it openly, honestly and with the sincere attempt to do your best, the happier you will be.”

That’s why I write. I tell the stories I want to read. It might not be the latest fad, but it’s what speaks to me.

Which, of course, needs a tiny bit of courage.

“Writers who are worthy of the title “writer,” because they write and they have a career.

Oh-and a tiny bit of courage. Never forget that tiny bit of courage.

It makes all things possible…when viewed after the fact.”

Now, I just finished a book in a bundle I’m in. I won’t name it because I don’t recommend it – the premise was interesting, but it was poorly executed, and I might try to write something similar, eventually – but the most irritating thing was that it looked as if the writer had hit the publish button as soon as he wrote “The End”.

Indie authors, please, I beg you. Hire a proofreader before hitting that button! Not an editor and not necessarily a paid person (it can be a grammar nazi friend, a voracious reader friend or your significant other) and have them scour your manuscripts for homophones, wrong words in the wrong place or missing/extra words!

Word’s spellchecker won’t catch them (maybe if you turn on also the grammar checker?) and it makes for a painful read. Unless readers are by now used to a garbled mess, you better clean your manuscript.

And if you ask someone who does it for a living, don’t forget to pay them. I might offer proofreading in the future, but I won’t do it for free. Like you shell the money for your cover artist, shell some for a proofreader – and pay them! Below a handy guide of the different editors.

Image may contain: text that says 'Understanding BOOK EDITORS: Who you need & when you need them A DEVELOPMENTAL EDITOR on character development, theme, When: finished draft and wantt your story, when ifit "works' Focuses writing pointing awkward telling vs. showing, passive dialogue, flagging any inconsistencies. When: You know your draft sound "works.' COPY grammar, address commonly confused with works, and your ensure numerals. polished. has the possible. They well copy' typographical number problems. When: The book formatted for for you plan ACQUISITION EDITOR Works They acquire manuscripts evaluate the book's gets published. developmental edit, line edit copy editi traditionally publish. www.savannahgilbo.com'

Yes, I finished that book, but it didn’t make me want to read more from that author. And he wasn’t the first. Traditional books might have typos, but they’re less messy.

A few typos are okay (I keep updating my own documents – this weekend it was FEC Shorts (that you can still grab for free with the Smashwords coupon) because while re-reading one story I found 2 typos), but when the sentences become a garbled mess, it’s not.

My main publishing expenses are still paying Mighty Editor for proofreading (actually she does more copyediting, now that I see a clear guide of the different kinds – although I usually ignore her punctuation suggestions! 😉 ) – and I’m an ESL writer, in case you’re new to this blog.

Now I wish you a great week, and happy writing, reading or whatever keeps you entertained! 😀

Wednesday Weekly Roundup

By Wednesday last week I had finished Draft Zero of Book 7, so I had to stop, re-read, adjust, and so on. So only 8400 new words. Having found some mistakes on the first five books while writing 6 and 7, I decided to go through the paperbacks (something I used to do immediately, but since I moved to KDPprint and had to send the books live to order copies, I had shamelessly skipped the process) and catch typo faeries and adjust mistakes to what I’ve been writing.

It’s really minor changes for my one and only reader so far, and you can download the updated version from Smashwords for whenever you want to read them again. Whoever gets the series now (and on Smashwords it’s still 9$ for 5 books…) will get the corrected version. I hadn’t sold any paperbacks, so I’m not worried about those, LOL!

I won’t blame you if you don’t want to read the Future Earth Chronicles now, though. A side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic? Reading got a lot harder. Especially reading sci-fi:

Lisa Yaszek is also trying to be kind to herself. These days, the last thing the professor of science-fiction studies wants to do is read more science fiction. She already feels as if she’s living through a disaster, Yaszek said. She doesn’t need the excitement of somebody else’s.

Of course, she said, some might find comfort in dystopian stories, like E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops,” about a world where society lives underground, reliant on a giant machine to provide its needs, and the machine breaks down. The parallels are obvious.

Lots of science fiction is inherently optimistic, said Yaszek, who teaches at the Georgia Institute of Technology. It’s about the possibility that people might put down their differences and work together. Reading those narratives can feel discomforting right now, she said, because when you’re done, you return to this imperfect world, where people are making imperfect choices.

So don’t worry, the series will still be out there, possibly with five or six more books, when this is over! 🙂 We’re living through history, and it’s obviously keeping our minds busy with all the bombardment of contrasting news about the pandemic. Be kind to yourself and carry on! 🙂

What are your best practices? I can’t “write by committee” because I started on my own. In this time of upset, I moved brainstorming from drawing to playing Bubble Witch Saga 3 (sue me! 😉 ) and by now I’m well adjusted at doing my first draft on my writing laptop instead of longhand. The writing is not suffering, it’s everything else that went on the backburner! 🙂

Althoug I updated both the Future Earth Chronicles and the Star Minds Universe series pages. I’m still pondering if I should change the covers of Future Earth Chronicles – at least the ebooks. I’m working on new ones, experimenting before I buy the images for the next five or six books! 🙂

And our mighty curator A.L. Butcher put out another bundle! Here Be Aliens is now live on BundleRabbit and the usual suspects. In this bundle you can find Adventurer, the first of the Star Minds Lone Wolves books, along with a few more. Or you can check the series discounted on Smashwords (the first 7 books are 30%off as mentioned on this list of discounted titles).

This is science fantasy/space opera, so it should take you away from this planet for a while (although Adventurer starts on a different future Earth, where we have joined the Star Nations and are traveling to space, yay!). It’s also alternate future because the shift happened back in 2012! 🙂

Also, for your reading (dis?)pleasure, the trainwreck… of traditional publishing. I shall stay tuned for the indie version. The IASFA has also a Facebook group. And they’re NOT like the Author Guild mentioned by Kris Rusch in her post, that’s for sure.

Now off to working on the next book of Future Earth Chronicles... Have a great week! 🙂


Happiness is…

editing rambling

I’m NOT going to mention title or author because she’s indie (and probably very young or uneducated), but I stumbled upon a free read that deserved 1 star for grammar/style/formatting and 3 for story. So I’m not going to mention who suggested it either, but other reviews went from 1 to 5 stars – which probably means something.

What I felt is she uploaded her piece too soon, without even bothering a pass with the spellchecker. Punctuation was an optional, correct formatting of dialog and whatnot almost unknown and similar sounding words (you know, like their/they’re/there?) were constantly misused which made the story really hard to enjoy (and sometimes even to follow). That’s the 1star part.

I hated her crybaby protagonist, which reminded me of a friend’s story in the same genre some 15 years ago, where both her (male) protagonists were crybabies. Here it’s only one, but it’s still too much. But then, I also usually hate romance heroines, so I’m probably the sociopath here! 😉 And I couldn’t appreciate the high school setting, because I’m not American, so it didn’t remind me of anything (which was a good thing for the highest rated reviews).

Anyway, I’m certainly not going back to that author. A typo or two will always be in any manuscript or traditionally published book, but one or two on each page is way too much. Her English is worse than mine (she keeps using “then” instead of “than” by the way…), and I’m not a native speaker, so if I can’t improve MY English, why waste my time! 😉

So what I would like to recommend to ANY and ALL writers is: be aware of your limits. If grammar or punctuation are your weak spot and you don’t have the money to pay a pro editor (like I do with the novels, but not the shorter pieces), find a friend who is an English geek  and use him/her for proofreading. You live in English speaking countries, it can’t be too hard to find somebody! My friends mostly speak Italian (that’s why I rely a lot on my beta from my offline writers group), so it’s harder for me now that I switched languages. But when I did write in Italian, I knew what my weaknesses were and I had specific friends to catch my specific problems (like putting too much Roman dialect in dialog, so I had a Tuscan friend go over it – Tuscany is supposed to speak “real” Italian, so those are the best judges).

It’s hard to catch your own mistakes, so always have at least another set of eyes checking your work of fiction before putting it out there, either as submission to trad pub or uploaded as indie.

Maybe in a few years this author will be the next Amanda Hocking (who has been criticized for bad editing of her best sellers, in case you didn’t know), but at the moment she’s on my “forget her” list… don’t do that to yourself, or even giving away your stuff for free won’t bring in any new readers…

Happy writing!


True that I’m a fantasy writer, but the title of the post first came out as “elf-editing”. No, I don’t have elves editing my manuscripts, unfortunately. 😉

Anyhow, as I’m still working on the manuscript of BoI – Fire that I plan to upload this weekend on Smashwords and Kindle, I thought I’d share some updates on the whole thing. First of all: the printed version. Considering how expensive the “European” version is, from now on, I’ll have only “US editions” in digest format. Easier for me and easier for everybody. Cheaper for Americans, and probably for the rest of the world as well. We’ll see when I order my copy to check it.

Second: I changed editor for this one, but I have to keep my style consistent, so even if she deleted all the “s” at the end of “towards”, I’ll have to leave them in – consistency, they’re there in Air, they’ll be there in Fire. Same with other words with multiple spellings. My spellchecker underlined “toward” written without “s”, so I write it with an “s” when I use American spelling and without when I use the British spelling (i.e. in the historical novel – on the back burner again until I put Fire out there, haha). So busy self-editing for consistency of style (and cutting the boring parts, that bored me anyway, haha).

Third: I’m advised to put a characters chart on this one because it’s quite complicated (did I mention I love huge casts? ;-)). I don’t know how I could put some kind of link (bookmark?) in the e-book so the reader can click and get to the characters chart… with the printed version it’s easy to flip to the end of the book, but with an e-book? Advices?

When I ordered my printed copy of Air, I read it through and through and found a couple of formatting mistakes, like a paragraph with no right alignment (which might be the rule for manuscripts, but looks really ugly in a book) and a chapter not starting on the next page + some missing ” at the end of dialog lines. Easily fixed and re-uploaded (but the signed copy will be the “imperfect” one, sigh).

Then I took it again to find an example for a guest post (I’m still awed I got a request from THEM and won’t say who they are until my post is live there, which will be real soon) and while skimming I saw a couple of missing dots (or full stops, like I was taught to call them, having started learning English in England). Uh-oh. And the novel has been copy-edited and re-read before uploading. Sigh.

So from now on, I decided one pass of edits will simply be skimming through, checking punctuation (and capital letters when needed), especially around dialog. And formatting of new scenes and new chapters.

I know typos can come out months and years later (which happened to all my manuscripts, except now they’re published, sigh!) and I will put a special care on punctuation. I hate books with typos because English is not my mother tongue and I have to stop and wonder if it’s a new word or a typo, so I really want mine to be as good as humanly possible. Reading backwards doesn’t work if the word is spelled correctly but is the wrong one.

So what to do to get those little buggers? Even pros miss them. Any tips you could share (the skimming sounds like a good idea, but I still have to try it – and it’s only for punctuation anyway)?

Guest post – Melissa Wright

Ahem, well, today I should be guest posting over at Melissa‘s and she’s here… I might not be on over there yet (you know those time zones? If you’re in Australia and Europe it might be a little early to check) but if you’re in North America, hop there and check what I have to say. Like with Janna we decided on a post title and each of us gave her interpretation – with no images! 😉 So ladies and gents, please welcome young and talented Melissa Wright!

How I Find My Muse

I tend to get into a fight with my muse on a daily basis. Creativity and inspiration always seems to hit at the most inopportune times and never when I’m sitting at home in front of my computer waiting for it to strike. Then, I realized something. Maybe it’s when I want it to come that I’m trying way too hard.

My muse left me for awhile. Quite awhile actually. To be honest, it left for a good few months. Why? Because I let certain stress and frustration get the best of me and those things pushed it away.  It left me because I wasn’t nurturing it like I should.   I wasn’t giving it the attention it deserved and in spite, it abandoned me and left me helpless with a book to write.

It’s not that I didn’t care about my muse. It gave me the creativity I needed. It lived in my imagination and cheered me on when I sat down to write. I began to miss it when it left. So, how did I get it back? It’s been a long process but I’m getting there.

I’ve learned to relax. Relaxation is the key for me (since I suffer from an anxiety disorder so it’s best for me to write with a clear head.)  I don’t let stress overcome my writing time. That’s my special time and I refuse to let other problems interfere with that.  You have to make your muse be first during that time. They need that attention to give you the creativity you need.

I’ve also sat down and really got to know my muse. I imagined what it looked like, what it’s personality was.  It has become my friend even though it’s not really there. It’s my writing buddy and it deserves that title.

My writing time isn’t just my time, but also my muse’s time to show me the way. It keeps me going and makes sure the story is on track. Once it leaves, my story goes with it. It’s important to really know who your muse is.

Finding your muse isn’t always easy, but it’s always beneficial to. However you decide to find it, you will be lucky it is there.

Melissa Wright

Letter of intent

I’ve been wondering what is success as a writer for me. After a year of blogging, I probably changed my mind a hundred times about what I wanted from my writing! 😉 so I’ll try to write my letter of intent like Smander suggested and did.

Dear Reader

My name is Barbara (a.k.a. Barb) and I’m a writer. A compulsive writer. I have dozensa of stories to tell, mostly fantasy, but you know what? I’m loving my historical research so much I want to become an historical novelist as well. Because I think humans haven’t changed throughout the centuries – not yet. I might tackle some sci-fi and tell you how I see the world after 2012, but that’s for the future. Or sometime next year when I’m done with my historical masterpiece.

I am dedicated to my craft, my world(s) and my characters, so much that I decided to write in another language. But I know I still have to learn,  viewpoints and five-senses writing are my weak spot at the moment. I will work on it through blogging, writers forum(s) and other online venues – unless I manage to move to an English-spearking country (not in the near future, I’m afraid).

I know one day I will be a huge success, which for me means 5000 faithful readers who love the same stories that I do. It’s not to unrealistit to try to find 5000 like-minded people in a population of 6billions+, right?

In order to achieve this I will:

– write the best stories I can

– give them to a handful of beta-readers

– edit according to what was unclear to most, ignoring the single comments who might be that  specific reader’s perception

– look for a copy-editor for grammar and typos

– trust my instincts and remember I can’t please everybody

– not write for the market, but what I want to write/read

– put the story out there. Please remember that writers need cheerleaders too.

So, dear reader, if you’re an adult who still likes to dream, isn’t offended by “different” morals or religions and are interested in exploring relationships and human interactions, please check this author unboxed – I’m afraid I can’t fit in any box, sorry. Therefore I’ll probably have to self-publish, eventually.

Thank you for reading

Your Creative Author

Story Wednesday

Yes, it’s Story Wednesday, but before you hop off to Serial Central, please check Nathan Bransford’s post on dreams and expectations. I’ve been thinking about what I want from my writing myself, lately, suffering from slight writer burnout because of all these contrasting things on the internet that temporarily confused me. I believe there’s an overload of information on the internet, and it’s harder and harder to figure out what is best for each writer. I used to write on impulse. I’ve learned to control my writing a little better, but sometimes I feel I’m trying to please too many people and forgetting my vision. I should remember what indie author Ruth Ann Nodin says about readers. After all, it is one of the reasons why I quit screenwriting, too many voices and input that would end up changing my original vision and turn the screenplay in a movie I won’t recognize. I can keep more control on a novel, but I do need an editor for some basic stuff.

As soon as the editor and currently submitted agents say no, the manuscript goes to a copyeditor (yes, editors need editors), and then to publication. Ray Rhamey – Writer Unboxed

I’ll start my final rewrite on Air as soon as my beta-readers get back to me. I might even try to send the first 30 pages to a contest. And post it on David Farland’s writers forum – the group is still forming, but they all look nice.

I’ll also put out Jessamine on Smashwords – edited – when complete, so please feel free to leave your comments! Hop off to Serial Central for the next installment…

Happy reading!

writers & editors

Because I still have limited internet access, I’m “recycling” old posts of the first month of this blog – I’m guessing it will be something new for all of us. The first comments were on November 28, 2009 (thanks to the Australian ladies Cassandra & Prue + Sevvy – where are you?) and these are all from October… if you already read them, forgive me. I’ll be back to full posting next week!

I like to think (and used to say) that I’m the World’s Humblest Author. I’m not, I guess. I mean, I don’t mind rewriting, adjusting plots and adding a few things here and there – helps me to think more about a story anyway, so it’s not wasted time – but some comments still drive me mad.

I had a reader/friend (who can’t read me anymore because she doesn’t speak English) who was very tough with her comments and after a number of years I already knew what she would say at some points, but wrote it down anyway… going “tee-hee, I knew it!” when I read the expected comment! ;-)

Now another friend (who is supposed to be a writer, but prefers to be an editor) criticized my choice of a title. I know “The Gathering” isn’t the most original title in the world, but it had its purpose (the same as another work of mine very similar, who took this title in 1998 from Magic-The gathering cards – ok, unoriginal of me back then, but now it makes sense). Is he trying to sell his editing abilities? Of course not, he’s a friend, not a pro-editor, but still… why doesn’t he do his writing instead of bothering with mine? :-)

That’s what friends are for, I guess. Why am I looking for an editor who would only check the grammar and style and that stuff? I probably wouldn’t listen to anyone if I were trying to publish the Italian version…  But English is my second language – well, third if you want to go in chronological learning order. I’ve been writing for over thirty years (in Italian only for the first 25)  and I’m quite confident with my style and everything, but I’m writing in a foreign language, so I need some native speaker to check me. But no comments? Mmm… the megalomania again… :-D

originally posted October 15, 2009

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