Happiness is…

trying not to use up all the battery like it happened in February, LOL! Now back to reading! 😉

Happiness is…

119and especially this year – since I started selling when I translated my main pen name and not before! 😀

Happiness is…


Writer Wednesday

Spent the weekend drawing – my usual procrastination technique… – but now I have started the next Amazon story, based on an old story of my space Amazons that was so silly it can easily be turned into fantasy instead of sci-fi. Except it was based on dreams and we all know that dreams are wonderful… until you wake up and realize the plot is totally unbelievable. So I’ll be struggling to make this story a little more believable in a fantasy setting than what it was in the futuristic setting. Some adjustments will occur, but that’s world building, folks! 😉

I had approximately 10 “sales” (let’s say half were actually free-for-the-week e-books…) during the Smashwords e-book week and nothing on Amazon (unlike last July when during the Smashwords sale I kept selling Johnny&Marian full price on Kindle). Not that I check my Amazon rankings ever, but I do check the dashboard to see if and what I sold on KDP – just waiting for that first check to roll in! 😉

Anyhow, I’m certainly not faking my way to the top bestsellers on Amazon – I’m saying it’s my (well B.G.Hope’s) bestselling title, not that I’m trying to send it to the top. I’m not sure how other people could do it, I know I put some tags when I upload to KDP, but then sometimes the ebook shows up with other tags. Like, I have no idea who put some tags on BoI-Air (such as paranormal) – and then I realized there are no more tags on Amazon, only the category… Mystery of Mighty A. I’ve given up trying to figure it out, honestly. I better be off writing, trust me! 🙂

Kris Rusch makes another excellent post on the state of publishing and indie authors and binge reading. No, I’m not a bestseller yet, but I’m working on it, LOL! And I most certainly will stay away from Random House and it’s imprints, especially Hydra (as I do write SF/F, the other imprints I don’t care). See John Scalzi’s note to SF/F writers on Hydra. And if you write YA, you better stay away from Alibi as well.

I guess traditional publishers are losing it. Check also the interview with Harlan Coben and his advice to new writers. And John Scalzi on the power to negotiate your contract, if you really really really want to stick to traditional publishing. Although if a math-challenged like me is doing her own “business” without the help of traditional publishing, so can you.

Especially if you’re younger than me and supposedly more technological than me. Yes, there might be people who are better than you at certain things (like cover design, marketing strategy), but this doesn’t mean you should sign contracts like the aforementioned. You can always outsource some things – I do outsource covers sometimes, (this year I’ll have Cristina doing some covers for me again – she did the BoI covers in 2011, in case you’re new to this blog) and always use outside editors like Katy or Tricia or Cassie.

Of course if you don’t want to bother your pretty head with business decisions, it’s your choice. Try not to end up in court like Patricia Cornwell, though! 😉 Or see if you have the guts of Hugh Howey – read how he handled his deal with Simon&Shuster! Can you do it? Can you not sell your soul in the process? Kudos to Hugh for opening up a path for all of us – if we stick to what we really want! 🙂

One last link is to David Farland’s Daily Kick about mining for good advice. David Farland is a teacher, so he nows how to help new writers. The other person he mentions might be someone like me – a writer who writes, but is unable to tell how he does it. If you asked me the questions Hemingway got asked, you’d probably receive a shrug and a grumble in return. Teaching is a talent that I don’t have *shrug*. That’s why I’m referring you to great pros who can also teach such as David Farland, Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Katryn Rusch.

Not that anyone is asking my advice, but there were some discussions in my offline writers group about inviting an author to tell us how he wrote his one book – if he’s like me, he won’t be able to tell. 😉 Now I’m going back to writing fiction, as I’d rather be doing that. Can’t teach you much on how to do it, except just do it. Writers write. So get your butt in a chair and write. And stop whining. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will. Happy writing! 🙂

Sunday Surprise

… and it’s a guest – albeit not the one scheduled who is postponed to next week! 🙂  Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Peter K. Lean (a.k.a. chronotraveler)!

Thanks, Barbara, for hosting on you blog my first two ‘e-book experiments’.

As you know, I am not an English native speaker writer, but I have recently felt the need to start writing in English, and … I discovered that I love it!

Moreover, I was not a writer of fiction at all; I have published only professional texts, and only in my native language, Italian. But, as they say, it is never too late to start, and during the last months of 2012, pushed by a sudden inspiration, I started to write short stories, which I am now going to include in a collection.

Thanks to the support and appreciation showed by many friends of mine (and a number of them are from UK and USA), I decided to continue writing, and I am now proud to have the first two short stories out on Kindle. They are both sci-fi stories, and one of them is an interesting exploration of the time-travel theme.

For the time being, I am publishing with a pen-name (by the way, suggested by you, Barbara), but I do not exclude, in the future, to use my real name.

And now, let’s go to the stories, that are available for free on Kindle during this weekend and the next one!

GunsThe first one is ‘The Guns of Napoleon’.

A professor of history, a mysterious scientific institute in the Russian countryside, a tablet computer. ‘The Guns of Napoleon’ is a short ‘time-travel’ story, which will lead you to an unexpected future.


GaeaThe second one – ‘Gaea’ – is, perhaps, a traditional science fiction story… but wait to read it before giving me your opinion.

The ‘Silver Belt’ is shining bright in the night sky of Earth in 3299 AD. A book is the only witness of the past times.

“Once upon a time, there was a planet called Mother Earth and she was covered with green forests under blue skies lit by the bright day sun, Sol. In those days, the seas of Earth were proud continents of water that moved in time to the heavens and the ground was so rich you could drop seeds behind you and the crops would spring up as you walked. In the evening, as Sol disappeared over the horizon, Luna, the night sun would rise to light the night sky; a hundred times larger and a thousand times brighter than any other star. For this was before the Fall; a time of wealth and plenty for everyone.”
What happened more than a millennium earlier on Gaea?

You’re wecome, Peter (says the multi-pseudonym writer), and good luck with your writing endehavor. I wish you all a wonderful Sunday… and happy reading!

Writer Wednesday

I’m writing. Draft Zero on laptop. Unbelievable. But because it’s set in the real world, I find it useful to google any doubt I might have, instead of keep writing and jotting down “check this or that” in the margins. And I’m bothering my friends with emails as well. As of Monday afternoon I had 8200words – I started last Wednesday afternoon, but after a not so clean handwritten draft of the first 2 or 3 scenes, I moved to laptop.

Monday night I was at 10600 (okay, I admit the Word wordcount feature is cool). Last night (and Tuesday is busy with the Hindi lessons, so not much time to write) I closed at 14000. That’s when I saved the last draft of this post, scheduled for this morning.

Usually my handwritten drafts are very “clean” – I just write. But in this case it was messy, so I just typed it all and kept going. And if something comes up, I just add it or correct it immediately. I also had time to re-read what I’ve done so far (yeah, busy Tuesday morning at DayJob – not!) and modified a couple of things before adding the new scenes. So now I know I can have a weekly wordcount of 14k! 😉

Ideas keep popping up to make it longer, so hopefully it will end up around 27k like the other body switch. I know, it’s not real novels, but I can’t stretch them too much. And comedies are usually shorter than dramas, and this his definitely another comedy – and a clash of cultures.

Then I’ve started the Emotion Thesaurus – but then decided it’s not worth reading it all. I read the introduction and then I keep it next to me, so I can check the emotions as soon as they happen, and adapt to each character whatever is going on. Like a dictionary. It was suggested by David Farland, by the way, and it’s a good tool for writers – maybe I can avoid some emotional cliché! 🙂

For fun, check this post about fonts. I use Times New Roman for prose and Comic Sans for graphic novels – I don’t care if people hate it, it is a comic, so it needs Comic Sans, LOL! And I’m so sick of Courier New after writing all those screenplays… and I come from manual or electric typewriters as well, so – really, enough already! I might download Celtx on laptop to write a screenplay version of the above story – if in the meantime I’ve got past my revulsion for Courier New! 😉

Now, if you want some tips from a “classic” author, here’s Hemingway. I don’t agree with everything he says, so I’ll keep doing what I want, LOL! I’ll stop when my hand aches (or my back/eyes, if I’m writing directly on Laptop), I’ll keep thinking about the story whenever I can (especially when I’m at DayJob, if I can) and I’ll barely read the last sentence written before continuing because I used to do what he did, and then got so bored with story beginnings, I ended up hating them all and knowing them by heart. Yikes. Those were the times of shorter stories, so I really started from the beginning every time I went back to writing and still it was a very clean handwrittend draft – lucky youthful naivety!

And I use pencils only for drawing, but I do use a pen for Draft Zero, normally. As for the emotions – that’s what the thesaurus is for! By the way, anyone knows how to turn off highlights on Kindle? It feels like reading a used book! 😦 Why on earth would I care what somebody else I don’t even know liked – in fiction, it’s totally useless, in non-fiction it’s even worse, because I might want to hightlight something completely different, but I’d still have a copy of the e-book with other people’s highlights. That’s why I hate buying my ebooks on Amazon… So, is there a way to turn the thing off or should I just ignore the highlights? 😦

I have also thought about “working with Neil Gaiman“, but considering the great artists already on DeviantART and being more a hobbyist artist myself, I decided to pass on this. I had found 3 stories I thought I could illustrate, but no, I don’t feel comfortable enough. I’ll collaborate with Neil Gaiman as a writer some day, sounds much better! 😉 Right, back to work. Have a wonderful week!

Writer Wednesday

As the end of the year approaches, I’m kind of checking what I achieved and making plans for the new year. I already feel the December depression approaching, so maybe I won’t go to the Small and Medium Publishers Fair in Rome in three weeks or so – at least not every day, even if I’ll have someone visiting, someone who will be more interested in the event than me. Considering how much it depressed me last year, I think I’m going to spare myself more heartache this year.

I’ve got 3 more titles to put out this year, and they’ll come out next month. I’ll do a post on my abysmal sales sometimes in December – I’m not depressed for the abysmal above, but about other things I’d rather not rant about. Where would my happy-go-lucky image go if I did? 😉 So I’m just going to think about those 3 stories – 2 are done, waiting for betas to send comments, 1 I’m still typing, soon you’ll hear more about it and will have to help me choose the cover (nothing new here, B.G. Hope always needs help in finding the perfect cover, LOL).

Anyway, the Human Being is kinda depressed (in spite of being off DayJob for 2 weeks, yay!), but the Writer and Publisher is happy to announce two more titles out. Records of the Varian Empire is out on Smashwords, Kindle and Kobo. Excerpt from RVE is Sunray&Leonora, a short story in two parts (or two short stories tied together), also available at all of the above.

Wonderful Mapmaker Federico Distefano finally provided a map for the RVE – it’s on the print version, but also on the dedicated page. Still not sure how to add it to the e-books (might try when I try to reformat them), but here it is for now:

Chronicles of The Varian Empire – map by Federico Distefano

Then we have the print versions (link available also on the Smashwords page of each book).

Chronicles of the Varian Empire – The Spell + Allan de Sayek

Chronicles of the Varian Empire – The Left-handed Warrior + Records of the Varian Empire

Chronicles of the Varian Empire – The Englightened Emperor + The Warrior Woman

If you’d like to snatch one of the two calendars I did this year, I made them available on Lulu. Please note there’s 20% off all calendars until Nov.23, just enter coupon code: CHRONICLE. Buy links: Keanu Reeves & Hrithik Roshan.

Desktop is giving me headaches so I’m falling behind with the lettering of SKYBAND 12, but I hope to be done this week, so I can put the single issue out on DriveThruComics. I guess I’ll end the graphic novel next year, although I had hoped to finish it this year. But I have 3 more chapters to draw and color and letter, and even if I might do SKYBAND 13 by December, there would still be 2 more – next year. Then I can send Desktop into retirement and use Laptop 24/7.

I’ve also spent 2 days spellchecking the proofs from the POD versions, which means the printed version has less typos than the e-books, LOL! Slowly I’ll get the new files for the e-books up as well, hopefully during the week, but it’s 3 docs (1 with Smashwords license, 1 saved as HTML for Kindle and 1 “normal” for Kobo) where I need to do “find and replace” and a quick scan. Sigh. Glad I have most of the day to do it – today I have the offline writers group meeting and tomorrow and Friday I’ll meet with my cover artist, but I’ll probably be able to work on reformatting everything while I help her dealing with her own uploads.

Wishing you a wonderful week – hoping your weather is not like mine (sunny but hot outside – hot for November, I mean – freezing inside)! 🙂

Random Friday

First, a message from Prue:

Dear Everyone,

For the first time ever, I am offering Gisborne: Book of Pawns FREE through KDP Select for Saturday and Sunday. This is a completely unknown journey for me and I would so appreciate any help you might choose to give me by letting your online groups and friends know. 

I understand if you feel you just want to delete this email as giant cheek, so apologies up front.
Gisborne: Book of Pawns…12th century secrets



I have already downloaded and it’s been sitting on my Kindle for some time (along with A Thousand Glass Flowers that has been sitting there even longer *blush*), but you should try it too. Especially if you like historical fiction. I’ve read only Prue’s fantasy titles so far, but the excerpts of Gisborne were good and I look forward to having time to actually read it! 🙂

I did manage some Kindle-reading last week, but I had to go through Smashwords titles first (only to avoid their friendly review reminder, LOL). So, here’s a list of very short reviews of what I read.

David Farland’s At a virgin’s doorstep – 4stars only because he had unicorn HUNTERS! The mighty sorceress known as the Lady of the Unicorn would have none of that! 😀

Kiana Davenport’s House of skin (found on Joe Konrath’s blog last year, so that’s how long books can sit on my Kindle, sigh): 4 stars – read the review on the GR link.

Marie Dee’s To have a warrior (found through Six Sentence Sunday – again last year…): 4 stars – review as above.

Gemma Parke’s A Switch in Time (another Six Sentence Sunday found): 4  stars

All were pretty short (or short story collections).

Then I won 5 books during the Hop Against Homophobia, and Emery’s Ritches is one of them. 5 stars: hot and funny – and even if it’s book 2 and I didn’t read book 1, I enjoyed it nevertheless. Now, I should get book 1 (but not 3 as I don’t like “bears”! ;-p)…

Another title that I won you will hear about on Sunday. And then I have 2 PDFs left to read, which I’m going to do as soon as I finish what I’m reading at the moment.

And finally, one Bollywood review (only one DVD still not arrived…) Dil To Pagal Hai – an “oldie” because it’s from the late 1990s. So no kissing in Bollywood in the 20th century (you have to wait for Hritik Roshan to start seeing kisses in Bollywood movies, LOL)! But it’s a nice romantic comedy and it has great songs and wonderful dance numbers (that have actually something to do with the plot, LOL). Shahrukh Khan is at his best and Madhury Dixit is as beautiful in contemporary clothes as she was in Devdas, playing Chandramuki.

Today is Roma’s holiday – SS Peter and Paul – so everything is closed. So I might as well stay in and write, LOL! Have a great weekend!

Writer Wednesday

I had a busy weekend (losing one hour to “Daylight Saving Time” – as we switched this weekend) comparing comments and feedback from betas and editors for CVE2 – The Left-handed Warrior. First of all, I’d like to send a special thanks to those five wonderful people even if I had to work a lot this time! 😉 But their comments were spot on, so I was happy to almost delete a secondary plot, recycling some of it in an extra chapter – which means one of the Editors is doing extra work on this one, LOL! 😉

Anyway, the rewriting and tweaking lasted until Monday night, so I didn’t have time to check any blogs (because I also had to format and upload another short story, B.G.Hope’s Legacy), hence this Writer Wednesday will be all about ME, mwhahahahaha! 😀

Because Juli tagged me and because the rewrites were so intense that p.77 is now completely different, I’m redoing the 7 lucky number meme. The original post was here, including the rules. The new p.77 etc follows:

The teachers observed their clumsy students go at each other, amused. Both pupils looked uncomfortable with the weight of their sword, but Beth managed to hit the other’s arm with the flat of her blade, forcing him to drop his weapon with a yelp of pain.

“Noble lord.” Beth made a mocking bow. “You still have a lot to learn. And I bet you started long before I did.”

“I was born with a sword in my hand,” the boy frowned.

“I started using mine three months ago.”

“Damn!” Even Rupert was impressed.

“Yes, she’s a smart girl,” Kurt grinned.

“A girl?” Rupert gaped.

Betas, you might notice I changed the POV of this scene – but it’s part of the modified subplot I was talking about! 😉

And now, cover reveal for my faithful blog followers.

I hope to publish it next week, so stay tuned…

I have finished the first (handwritten) draft of CVE3 – The Half-blood, and remembered oh so long ago when I wrote the very first draft (almost 20 years ago, yikes! I haven’t touched it for some 10 years, and now I’ve touched it again to fit the “new” Silvery Earth) and the fact that I imagined it as a French BD drawn by Rosinski – much as Thorgal. This occurred to me because one of the betas thought CVE2 was sort of episodic – well CVE3 is even worse! 😉

Because I could almost see the different “albums” drawn by Rosinski coming out every two years, the format was kind of episodic…but then back then most of my novels or longer works were sort of episodic, as I watched lots of TV, so I had this “serial” or episodic format even in writing. Of course there’s a beginning, a middle and an end, but I called them “serial novels” for that reason – although CVE3 was the first with longer chapter and less episodic than the previous works.

And this specific book definitely continues in CVE4 (but it doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, don’t worry! Besides, the next book will be out two months after this one – and in 2 months you might not even get to reading it, if you’ve loaded your e-reader, LOL! ;-)). I might do the print version in one volume (lemme see… CVE1+Allan de Sayek, CVE2+Records of the Varian Empire, CVE3+CVE4… yeah, should work! :-D) – but I don’t know when I’ll do the print version, LOL!

By the way, I’ve raised the price of Allan de Sayek to 2.99$ but Amazon might have not updated it… they’re sort of slower than Smashwords where the change is immediate! 😉 I can’t check because I’m on Kindle Italia, but you might still be able to grab it at 1.99$…

Anyway, I’ve updated the Silvery Earth Chronology (see the tab at the top of the page, enough pingbacks for today! ;-)) and now I’m off to… reading because I have two reviews to do and I’ve fallen behind with all the writing of the weekend! 😉

Oh, and one last thing: BoI – Prequels has finally made it to the Premium Catalog. You Nook users please kindly keep a look on my Nook page and as soon as it shows up on Barnes&Nobles, go to Amazon and tell them of the lower price, thank you! I’ll remind you again next week – thanks, much appreciated! 🙂

Have a great week!

Last day of snow…

on the blog, where else! It never snows in Roma (sigh)! 😀 So next post I’ll go back to Comet theme with personalized header…

Happy New Year, everyone!

The poll is still ongoing, so I’ll do a random post. Although I’m very much set for Writer Wednesday where I’ll ramble on writing (mine and of others, so if I interview someone, it will be posted on a Wednesday) and Freedom Friday – with the freedom to tackle books, movies, life, the universe and whatnot. Not sure yet about Sundays, so I’ll keep going with Six Sentence Sunday until the poll is over. Don’t forget to cast your votes! 🙂

WordPress provided nice yearly reports this year, but I made public only the Serial Central Report, so my fellow authors can see how we did – in a year we went on permanent hiatus in February, LOL! Last year I didn’t receive any report for this blog, this year I got 3 identical. Meh. I won’t make it public, though, as most of the “most visited” posts are now private anyway, and I have no intention to write about those topics again. But as some of the posts are older than 2010, my writing has “staying power” – I guess they tell that to most! 😉

This year I’ll be posting less and writing&reading more, so expect longer posts but less frequent. As I’m reading the last 2 printed PDFs (downloaded Before Kindle – see, we even have a new way of saying things, a new era has started, welcome 2012 and the new world *singing R.E.M.’s “It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)” again*) I’m having some writerly musings. It’s two epic fantasy stories, both with some of the clichés highlighted in Limyaeel’s fantasy rants and both with mostly omniscient narrator. And both trad published.

Now, when I was still looking at small publishers’ guidelines (two years ago), I remember the “NO HEAD-HOPPING” warning. Not to mention when I had my pieces critiqued at David Farland’s Writers Forum, they always pointed out when I slipped back into omniscient. So I had assumed that the new fashion in fantasy was “no head-hopping, omniscient narrator is 20th century”.

And now that I’m reading again in my genre, apparently it’s not so out of fashion after all. So I can confidently stick mostly to my many POVs, but if a scene or two require omniscient narrator, I’ll go with it. I guess the only rule is there are no rules as long as your story comes accross clearly. But you are responsible to find the best way to tell your story, whether first person, third person limited or third person omniscient.  Hey, I might try First Person Omniscient , a.k.a. God Speaks, one day! 😀

I also found another use for my Kindle – having downloaded the mobi files of my books from Smashwords. As Silvery Earth is a puzzle, a tapestry of stories, I often need to check facts in already published books (that’s because I’m rewriting and twisting plots from the original Italian stories, so I must remember what I changed and what I didn’t…). Until last year, I had to flip through the printed version or switch on the PC to check the document if what I needed was not in my notes. Now I switch on my Kindle and check the facts without moving from wherever I’m writing! Please note, dear writers of sagas or series, that you can do this even if you’re unpublished and want to save one copy of your manuscript on your Kindle – simply follow Michelle’s instructions if you don’t want to bother with Calibre in creating a mobi file for yourself.

This week I’m off DayJob thanks to the stress it gave me in December which blocked my stomach (again) and made me all teary every morning at the thought of going in. So my doctor gave me four days off to cure my bellyache, then Friday is a Holiday and the weekend I don’t work. So I’ll get back to the dreaded place next Monday, hopefully refreshed and with some decision made. Although when you’re used to a steady job with steady work hours and steady wages (and mine is 20+ years old), you can’t just ask for an unpaid leave and explore freelance life without considering all the pros and cons.

Now back to writing the next novel while editors and betas work on the first Chronicle of the Varian Empire. I’ll be reading and writing and, if my mind doesn’t wander too much, coloring SKYBAND 10. Happy and productive and healthy new year, everyone!

Dedicated to my writer friends (I love British humor! ;-))

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