Summary of the past week(end)


So, I was off DayJob and somehow managed NOT to sign up for Six Sentence Sunday. I was sure I had done it when I prepared the post, but then on Sunday I didn’t see my name on the list. Sigh.

Before the Book Fair (started on the 7th) I’ve been working on the print version of the longer works that came out in the past three months. Thanks to Lulu&UPS, I should soon be able to check those books and make them available for sale – in case you want to buy a paper book as a Christmas present! 😉

The Book Fair – boy, what a riot, at least for me! Interesting panels that gave me some ideas on the Italian market, but I still have to figure out some things. The Italian e-distributors are NOT author-friendly, so I’ll stick to Smashwords and Kindle for now, hoping to try XinXii soon. And I’ll stay away from the KDP Select program for now, I’m seeing too many discussions about it, and I don’t want to be stuck with legalese on Amazon, I know they’re not my friends, but the people who are looking into it are, so I’d rather trust them! 😉

I left a copy of Air (the now out-of-print European edition, maybe I should have asked for money, haha) to an Italian publisher, if they’re interested I might translate it (back, but it changed a lot in the meantime) and let them publish the Italian version – if I like the contract, that is. They do mostly the paper versions – e-books aren’t loved over here – and I already have a buyer for that, my former beta-reader who can’t read English! 😉

Sunday I was so tired I went back only because Saturday I forgot to buy from my friend – see these?

minor and major arts

And then I bought this with the Italian knights of the 14th and 15th century as my next historical novel might well be in those centuries which I had already considered when at the Paris book fair I found the reproductions of the two manuscripts on the right which are a first attempt at doing “comics” in the 14thand 15th century.

And besides I could throw in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, so we’ll see. More research to do, but I so love the clothes! 🙂

(Boy, it took me one hour or more to be able to schedule this post – two attempts at starting it and two attempts at uploading the pics! I better prepare the next one during my morning as if I do it in the afternoon, WordPress becomes exceedingly slow! :-()

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Daily prompts and an update… or two


OK, daily prompt digest.

Topic #225: if I could control the weather, considering that the heat I was spared in July is here now, I’d have “cool” weather now. Possibly snowy, mwhahahaha!!! 😀 OK, I’ll move to the North Pole, sometime! 😉

Topic #222:  Do I prefer to lead or to follow? Mmm, good question. That’s probably why I could never find that “perfect team”… I don’t want to lead (in spite of being a Virgo, i.e. logical and well organized), but I don’t want to follow either. Like fashions or trends (in any field, not just clothes): either I discover it (book, movie, record, celeb, whatever) on my own or I don’t follow a trend just because everybody else does. If you wanna be a leader, check Ollin’s post on how to be one. Personally, I hate to be at the center of the attention, so I’m just going back to my hermitage… if you’ll excuse me… 😉

Topic #220: I blog with my real first name, but never liked my family name, so I picked up “Tarn” way back in the 1990s when I was doing my photocopied zines. Then I put the “G.” back in (initial of my real family name) when I started writing in English 10 years ago. And I have a short list of other pen-names I might use in the future to write in other genres.

Which includes the historical novel with British spelling. For which I have an update. I have completed a first draft I’m not very happy with. It’s too short (around 70000words), but I have no idea of how to improve it at the moment.  I have masses of material and lots of things going on, but I probably skimmed through most. Except in my fear of info-dumping and boring myself and the readers, I have no idea of where I should go deeper or expand. I cover 15 years at the moment, but the climax of the main conflict is after less than 10, and I’m not sure if I should continue with the main characters like I intended to do – unless I find another conflict beyond the struggles with King John (my knight was faithful to Richard, so this is already a good conflict, as the two Plantagenet brothers kind of hated each other).

I still think it’s too much historical facts and not enough fiction… So instead of doing more research, I’ll do some more reading of historical novels, to see how other authors do it. I was fascinated by Elizabeth Chadwick’s Akashic Records, so I might check some of her titles (she writes in my time period anyway). And I just found a new online non-fiction  resource for the Middle Ages (but there are all historical periods, I just bookmarked the one I’m interested the most!), so maybe I only need to take some distance from my story. As to how much fact/fiction… I still don’t know, but I’ve followed the thread on Goodreads just like Prue (that’s where I discovered Elizabeth Chadwick).

So, as I’m not having fun with it anymore, I’m going to shelve it until I find a volunteer who can help me tear down the walls that block me at the moment, and will go back to writing my fantasy stories that are so much more fun. I’m way late on my schedule in starting writing the books that should come out next year anyway! 😉 And I’m coloring SKYBAND8, dear reader, just to keep you updated (you know who you are! ;-)).

As announced a few days ago, I’m wandering the blogosphere this week. Saturday Katelina interviewed Starblazer on Amarantyne nights. Today I should be the Writer Wednesday  at JC Martin’s blog, so make sure to check both those amazing blogs. See you tomorrow for the birthday bash! 😀

Updates


Hope your weekend was good. Last week I got Water back from The Editor, so I went through it with final edits, to be ready for an August release. Next weekend I’ll give it one last read while working on the book trailer (BTW thanks for the comments on the book blurb) and then I’ll let it go too. Phew!

I also wrote a couple of short stories for the Tales of the Southern Kingdoms collection, one recycled from the 1980s, the other original. I have two more to go (again, one recycled and one original) and then I can put the collection up on Smashwords and Kindle. I don’t think I’ll issue any more free reads, at least not on Smashwords because I’d rather be drawing SKYBAND than another short story cover! 😉 Oh, and I uploaded a new version of The Orphans (and took it out of Feedbooks) with a couple of added scenes. Also, while writing the last original story I re-read Tarun and… it needs a major rewrite. That’s not Keiko speaking. So I will soon take it off (even if I love that cover) and then it will come out again revised (and probably censored) in the collection.

I also got back my sci-fi romance novella from the beta-reader, so I’m waiting for the Other Editor who has it before putting it out there. Now I plan on getting back to add the fiction to the historical novel, as so far I managed to work only on the prologue, but I want that first draft done by the end of summer.

Also, I signed up for JC’s Birthday Bash Blogfest so you’ll have 2 posts on Saturday, the usual WoW and the extra a couple of hours later. And then there’s a guest post on Thursday and hopefully a review on Friday. Now I better go typing those short stories so I can get back to work on the historical novel… have a great week!

sigh


Hope your weekend was better than mine. Saturday morning i caught a virus/worm (in the form of a “malware detector” no less, how wicked is that?) that blocked my PC – my brother saved the day, BUT I still can’t reinstall the printer, the driver fails to install, so I can scan, I have a fax (that I don’t use) but no printer! 😦

The scanner works, though, so I scanned chapter 7 of SKYBAND, so I can start coloring and lettering. This week I’ll be working on chapter 8 at work and the above-mentioned at home. I also went through my notes and research for the end of the historical novel (I had stopped at the death of King Richard and needed to check again the facts under King John), so I hope to write The End on draft 1 this week. Then I must leave it aside for some time and go back to it around the end of the summer – although in this case it might be hard to edit after such a long time, as I’ll probably forget where I found the stuff I used in the book. Although I have a limited number of chronicles to look at… we’ll see.

Still have to hop around your blogs, be patient with me, but I can’t read on screen for very long, so I print out even blog posts and read them offline. I went through the Six Sentences yesterday because Sunday I couldn’t print anything! But don’t worry, you’ll have some links on Friday anyway. 😉

Mailman was good so I got my printed copies of Fire. It is now available on Lulu, although only in the “US edition”. By the way, I took off the “European edition” of Air as well, makes more valuable the copies I have ordered! 😉 I’ll feel less guilty asking for 20euros, as it’s a collector’s edition now! 😀

Fire, "European" Air, and Air!

Something I found this weekend:  things that happen when you choose your cover from stock photos – duplicate. Check these two books from two different authors… Sunlit Days moonlit nights and Safe with me… (I’m going to buy the second as soon as it’s complete, and I see there’s a new cover on the Volume1, good job, Shaina! ;-))

Not being able to “work” meant I watched a couple of DVDs from my pile… and I picked up Dhoom 1 & 2. I can see the influence of American movies such as Point Break, Speed and Ocean’s 11, but all is boiled down Indian style, with wonderful disco songs to dance to.

Did I mention in my last ramblings about Bollywood I might soon have another “movie crush”? Well, ladies, check out Hrithik Roshan in the opening titles of Dhoom 2 (gentlemen, you can watch him do the same number in the company of beautiful Aishwarya Rai in the end titles):

Arf! Pity he’s married and younger than me! 😉

Anyway, both movies are fun to watch, with your “strange couple” of cops who will be back in action next year. Abishek is the tough guy, Uday Chopra the funny one, and if they pick up another bad guy had good looking as the first two (John Abraham and Hrithik Roshan), well, I’m not going to miss Dhoom 3 next year! 😉

Have a gread week! 😀

writerly update


On Sunday I was on Kindle Author Blog, go check my interview, in case you haven’t already from Facebook! 😀 I’m still talking about Air, but also the other BoI… which means I’ll have to get back to work on Water soon! 😉

In the meantime I’m inking SKYBAND chapter 7 in the morning and finishing the historical novel in the afternoons. I have two weeks like this, so hopefully next week I’ll be able to draw chapter 8 in the mornings and do the coloring and lettering (for which I need my home desktop computer) on chapter 7 – does that mean I’m inking on Day Job time? Yep… 😉

I really hope to wrap up the first draft of the historical by the weekend. In the meantime I would like to thank the two bloggers, one friend and one member of my offline writers group who replied to my plead for help, allowing me to write a scene I had totally skipped in draft zero. It was easy to write as a movie scene, much less in a novel. All three gave different views and details, so you will be all named in the acknowledgments page when this is all done. Thanks again for the much appreciated help, hope I’ll be able to return the favor sometime.

After reading Shaina Richmond’s post on free e-books, I decided I will sign up at FeedBooks and upload some free read. I’m also considering leaving Jessamine for free on both Smashwords and Kindle – after all it was free when I posted it on Serial Central… So, it’s FREE on Smashwords already, and can anyone tell me how I make it free on Kindle? If I go to the page, it doesn’t allow me to change the price and un-check the royalty rate – should I re-upload it as free? Sigh.

Also I pulled out my first e-book (PDF printed version, as I still don’t have an e-reader) to read… and then I got a screenplay to review from a friend. Hopefully I’ll be done with that when this post goes live, so tonight I can start reading. And I’m almost sure it’s a page-turner, so Friday I might have a review for you.

If not, I’m also reading the writing mags I bought last month in London, so I’ll share stuff I found there with you in case I don’t have anything else. I hope to get to your blogs during the weekend, like I mentioned last week, so don’t worry, I’m not forgetting you, I’m just maximizing my time! 🙂

Non-writerly update: I got the second (of 3) Amazon parcel, so my list of ToWatch DVDs is going up. And I didn’t watch any last weekend, so they’re all there. I’ve just added Dhoom 1 and 2, Darr, and Jodhaa Akbar. I’ll make it through the pile, eventually…

daily prompt, weekly digest


… but I’ve picked up last Friday’s so I’m not to late. Topic #134 was: if you got a tattoo, what would it be?

Especially since I started SKYBAND (where every major character has at least 2 tattoos) I’ve been thinking on what I’d like to try. I’m not too keen on permanent things, so maybe a henna (not permanent) tattoo would work better for me. Anyway, I can’t make up my mind of where I want it – although I’m sure that if I find a unicorn drawing I like, I can have a permanent tattoo, haha! – so today I’ll play with… SKYBAND.

I’m supposed to be Axelle (I wish I were that cute! ;-)), so if I got myself some henna tattoos, I’d like to try hers which are as follow:

This is the “censored” version of the drawing – it’s been done very quickly in pencil, I use it only for reference on the tattoos. Axelle (and Ylenia)’s lower back tattoo(s)? Found them on that book at the library in London, and as they didn’t have them so far, I had to change the story in a later chapter to explain why they had new ones (to copy Nadira, they liked hers and used their free day in the Tattoo Country in a tattoo parlor, just like Killius and Desiderio).

Did I mention SKYBAND is for mature reader with lots of naked people in it? Not too many because a) I’m not very good with anatomy and drawing naked people isn’t my best feature and b) drawings all those tattoos every time is waaay too time consuming! 😉

But I love them, and I’m collecting all the tattoo magazines I’ve bought for research purposes (not to mention those I found online…). So you never know. One day I might actually get one! 😀

Writerly updates: I have uploaded The Sect along with The Slave on Smashwords as Arquon (2 Tales of the Southern Kingdoms) while I started the revision/rewrite of the historical novel in order to finish it (I haven’t written the ending). The latter if painfully longer than what I’m used (it took me one hour and a half to revise the first 4 scenes yesterday) because I have to continually stop and check facts, but I’m still having fun. So it might also take me longer than I expected to finish it, but it’s a new thing, so I’m not blaming myself for being slower! 🙂 It will be my side project for at least half the year…

Back and still catching up


Last week I was in London to meet friends AND use libraries without having to buy books and doing some research “on the field” for the historical novel. I came back with a cold, thanks to the British weather, and Sunday afternoon/night my server (Telecom Italia) was so very slow that I had to quit reading the Six Sentence Sunday participants and continue on Monday. Considering the overwhelming number of participants and that barely a third of them actually tours all the entries, I think I’m going to do like the other two thirds from now on: sign up and just wait for the others to visit me… Lazy, I know, but time’s flying! 😦

But back to my short British vacation! I spent two mornings at Westminster Reference Library, Tuesday working on 12th century clothes (and tattoos, so I had to modify SKYBAND again, haha!), Thursday on Norman castles, Westminster Hall and other 12th century buildings in London and Lincolnshire.

Wednesday I took the DLR to the Tower of London – with SEVERE DELAYS of… 15 minutes! I’m Italian, for me a “severe delay” is one hour or two! 😉 – and then walked to Westminster (that’s when I caught the cold, the wind was quite chilly along the Tames and I had to cover my ears with… my hair!) like my characters are supposed to do. I knew in the 12th century London and Westminster were two separate cities, but I couldn’t figure out how long it would take: one hour of fast walking. Therefore I believe my characters will go by boat! They can’t show up at Westminster Hall all sweaty and stinky, it’s a court! 😀 (And for those of you still wondering, YES, they DID BATHE in the Middle Ages, especially the nobles at this time of courtly love. There are plenty of mentions of baths and washing hands and changing clothes in the chansons de geste).

I didn’t pay to get inside the Tower of London nor Westminster Abbey because I’ve already been there in the past. The white tower (built by William the Conqueror) can be seen also from the outside, and Westminster Abbey was rebuilt after Richard’s coronation (the only one featured in my story, my characters aren’t too fond of John, therefore carefully avoid HIS coronation).

Tuesday I met a friend at the British Museum and had a look at the few medieval things they have there, while Thursday I met a friend at Charing Cross and we discussed my sci-fi novella.

Now I’m back, still catching up on blogs, finishing short stories and sending out guest posts and interviews, so you might see me somewhere out there in the future. AND I have to edit and finish the damn historical, or I won’t be able to move forward with the fantasy stories. But now I have a clearer idea, so I think I can do it and nail the first draft by the end of May.

By the way, if you enjoyed last week’s short story The Sect in spite of it being very dramatic, I can put more here, pre-editing, before I upload them on Smashwords and Kindle… I have a couple more almost ready (but one is a sequel to Air, and a spoiler for the novel, so don’t read it, haha!). I might start doing Story Sunday instead of Six Sentence Sunday! 😉

On historical novels


Because I’m typing draft zero in the computer and I’m taking notes on what I want to change and expand, and because next week I might be able to go to a library to do some more research, I thought I’d rant about that for a day.

My main source for research has been the internet for obvious reasons – I’m writing in English, and even if I can use some other language sources, I have to translate them, so reading directly in English is easier for me. I’ve been helped a lot by Project Guttenberg or Gallica because they have loads of original texts, even translated, but of course they don’t have more modern studies on the matter. I could find Wikipedia entries and some free papers or articles on almost everything, so I’m probably all set to write a masterpiece (warning: not a literary one, as my prose will never be literary, but a compelling story with lots of details I couldn’t have come up with on my own).

What I wonder, though, is all those studies about clothes. Anything I’ve read is based on statues and/or illuminated manuscripts to determine what kind of clothes were worn. But I’ve found more things on life at the end of the 12th century in the translations of the chanson de geste than in any other study. Is there anyone who has dissected the food, the clothes, the armors, the pass-times in the works of Chrétien de Troyes, Béroul, Wace and the likes?

I know not many manuscripts have reached us, and some have been reworked or translated in later centuries, but still… I think those stories (supposed to have happened in earlier centuries, depending if it was the French matter – Charlemagne – or the British matter – King Arthur – or other) are a window on life in that time period and shouldn’t be overlooked. And as most of those minstrels were anonymous, I can attribute one or two of those “roman” to my characters (well, one is totally made up, but not all the “roman” and “chanson” of that time have survived, and my characters are not Richard Lionheart or Chrétien de Troyes! 😉 Besides, I threw in an Italian story that way, haha :-D).

Then again there’s the problem of conflicting sources and dates. Even “biographies” of the time were filled with stuff that was totally made up (see William Marshal or Fulk Fitz Warine), but then, that’s why I’m writing fiction and not an historical treaty. I can fill the holes with my imagination, right? I’ll always find some reader/scholar who doesn’t agree with me, but as long as I manage to tell my story, I guess I don’t care.

The themes will be faith, war, marriage… there is a crusade, captivity… I guess just the usual conflict! 😉 I haven’t written the end yet, I’m stuck on part 3 (reign of King John) because I want to change so many things at the beginning I’m not sure it’s worth to write it all until I rewrite the rest. So next week I’ll be studying also that – the rewrites and the end, or the struggle against King John, which must become a less secondary character from the beginning because he’s the new antagonist for the end of the book. But I must plant the seeds earlier, right? 😉

Happy writing!

Writing styles for historical novels


This month our off-line writers group will have to review two historical novels excerpts – mine and somebody else’s – so I guess we can make March the Historical Novel Month! 😉 Just kidding, it wasn’t supposed to be that way, but one contributor had to drop out and another historical novel stepped in.

The two novels are set in two very different times (12th century and Ancient Rome – and of course I’m not the one writing about my supposed ancestors, I think at that time I was a Celt or a Gaul and hated the Romans as much as I could. That’s probably why I reincarnated as an Italian today, haha), and of course we have very different voice. The other lady is very literary, I’m not. I’ve never been and never will be.

A friend of mine commented with “at last you’re writing for the market”, but I’m wondering: what is the market looking for in historical novels? I haven’t read that many yet (although I have one on the ToBeRead pile and plan on exploring more), so I have no idea of what style is required – if any. I’ve read on the Clarion blog that genre readers read also historical novels, which was confirmed by a member of my David Farland’s Writers Forum group (mostly genre writers), who also mentions that “In Historical Fiction, Omniscient is still popular and they like in depth information”. Which is probably NOT what I’m providing, or maybe it is, but in an unconventional way (through dialog, instead of blocks of exposition, mostly).

So you will probably never see huge blocks of text in my novels anyway, because that’s not my way of telling stories. I’ve learned to add a little more introspection and stick to one POV at the time, but it will never be as literary as others. I’m having only two POV this time (and a third only from time to time because I don’t want the readers to feel frustrated like I felt when I read a first person historical novel who gave me only one view of the story – I want the readers to feel like Gods because they know something the two main characters don’t! ;-)), and that’s a first, considering my usually huge cast and many POVs. I still don’t know how long it is, because I’ve barely started to type it (for the WG I had only 10 pages to give), but it’s probably long because lots of things happen. And I’m already taking notes of things to twitch and switch for slipping in more stuff. I hope I’m not putting too much meat on the fire…

Anyway, while I’m stuck in procrastinating writing part 3 because it feels too “skinny” compared to the rest, I wonder. What do historical novel readers look for in a novel? I have a very dry, un-literary style  (that’s why it was kindly suggested to me I stick to screenplays), I have dropped the omniscient narrator, and I will finish the novel anyway (I love challenges! ;-)), but then maybe I’ll keep it in a drawer for longer than fantasy novels because 1) it’s my first, so I need time to think carefully about it and 2) I probably need to study the market a little more – not because I want to write for the market, but because to break the rules you must know them. So I’ll learn the rules and then I can break them in the best way! 😉

Reading break


I must finish my first draft of the historical novel by march 19, and also reading all those neat PDFs I downloaded from Gallica, Project Guttenberg or Medieval Sourcebook. I’m at the beginning of part 3, that will probably be shorter than the middle, but still… I should be able to write it by the end of the month. But then I can’t revise until I finish my reading.

I am still exploring the Chansons de Geste, finding fascinating clues on 12th century life (attributed to long gone, previous centuries heroes, but who cares? ;-)) that give me interesting plot ideas. This story has grown a lot since its screenplay format, and I’m very happy with the little details I have added! 🙂 I’m finishing a study on all the early Arthurian “novels” (“roman” in French, which means “novel”, although not yet in our modern sense), but I took a break because… it was short, sweet and fun! 😀

101 tips for traveling with a vampire is very funny and highly entertaining. Even if I’m not a vampire lover, I enjoyed the ride and look forward to have the time to check the novels related to it.

I have a question for the author: Joleene, how did you get all those images past the Smashwords meat grinder?! I don’t think I’ll have to add that many (a map, probably, but maybe I will send readers to the official page to check it), but Prue, who had neat little chapter headers she had to manually delete before uploading for Kindle, might like the fact that she can put them back in on Smashwords! 🙂

I really hope by April to get back to reading fiction and interviewing (indie) authors… now I must go back to my chanson de geste. But you know what? This reading wasn’t totally off topic.  Walter Map apparently speaks of vampires (it’s medieval Latin, and I can’t read it) and I discovered an adventure of Gauvain who saves a damsel prisoner of a “demon” who keeps her in a crypt and comes out at night… sounds like a vampire to me! 😀

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