Happiness is…

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

Writer Wednesday

So, it’s a reading month and I’m telling you that I look forward to going back to writing! πŸ˜‰ I’m a slow reader and it tends to send me to sleep, so… I hope from next month to read a little less and write a lot more and maybe watch a movie or three, since my pile just went up again!

water-and-air-1563x2500_resizeTor rejected my novella (after almost 2 months) and I’m quite happy about it because I can order a cover to a wonderful artist () and add that second point of view I had in mind to turn it into a short novel… not to mention writing the sequel, so I already know what I’m writing in March! πŸ˜€

And a new title is out, Quests Volume 1 that contains the Path of Water and the Path of Air with cover by the awesome Shafali Anand. The paper version when I have more time to work on it, be patient, thank you! πŸ™‚

61qsf9igudlI would also recommend to keep an eye on Mysterious Kemet – Book 1 by S.R. Anand (I wonder if they’re related? πŸ˜‰ I’m sure we have the same cover artist!) which will go on my TBR pile as soon as I get home in March. I also hope to invite the author on this very blog then (I mean after I read the book)! πŸ™‚

From a friend’s blog, a new series of how to… for indie authors! πŸ™‚ So if you’re just starting up, you might check these – the posts will keep coming, I’m told! πŸ™‚ How to claim your title on Amazon Author Central, how to add social media buttons on Goodreads, and so on…

Also, if you’re a bestseller, watch out, Amazon is making sure you are – not my case, but I’ve seeen plenty of “bestselling author” labels that made me wonder… I’m glad someone is checking that those labels are hard-earned and true! πŸ˜‰

And a good article on how to seek help the right way. You might do like Indie Author 1 and ask the wrong question to the wrong person! πŸ˜‰ I know Indie Author 2 and I heard his plea, which reminded me of my shelved historical – shelved because I don’t like the story anymore, not just because beta-readers didn’t think it fit the “historical novel” mold.

I also stopped looking for beta-readers unless I write something for the first time or something I’m unfamiliar with and want an “expert” to fact-check what I did. Or maybe I’ll ask the cover artist to read the whole thing. But for the Quests books, for example, I sent out to betas only book 2 and 3 (book 4 comes out next month and I sent it directly to the editor).

Why? Because in one case I had a young male’s POV and even if he isn’t really human, I still needed a male’s perspective. And about Book 3, I was afraid I had gone too fast in the second half, and thanks to faithful offline beta (*waves at B-Abby*) I managed to balance it.

A couple more writerly links: why persist as a writer in times of such heinous fuckery (by – you guessed it! – Chuck Wendig) and how to keep writing through times of great political upheaval (by Chuck’s guest Kameron Hurley). I’m not giving up, and look forward to get back to writing, but I’m tangled into reading this month! πŸ˜‰

Have a great week… Happy writing! πŸ™‚

Writer Wednesday

Been reading like crazy and not writing much, but I found an interesting site of futurists and how they see the world. So if for example you want to know about the future of work, you can see that the only way to have a job in the future it to be creative – until AIs become better than us at that too, of course.

I have a still unpublished short story about a bleak future for writers, but we’re not there yet. We’re not even close, actually. So it’s okay to be discouraged if writing is not your primary need, but otherwise please check this post on the importance of writing in difficult times. Because it escapism is not a dirty word.

I certainly will keep writing, especially on other worlds, but probably also on this godforesaken planet, even though things look pretty grim – unless you study that futuristic Quantum Run site, that is! Things are not so bleak if you check that! πŸ™‚ And there’s the real value of hope

A project that looks cool for when I finish the current moleskine (I’m still using the ones that were gifted to me by friends around 2002…) is this INDITE notebook… I like the fact that I can write longhand again! πŸ™‚

Other good indie news – both Smashwords and Draft2Digital have taken out the “minimum treshold” for Paypal payments (was 10$ on both sites), so money will trickle in more regularly from this year. I wonder if things changed at Paypal to allow both to drop the minimum treshold…

Have a great week! πŸ™‚

Random Friday

  • And it’s the reading year! πŸ˜‰ goodreads2016

Ahem! In spite of the above, I have read 49 books, including 2 collections, a book bundle (the sci-fi mayday you can still find at the usual retailers) and two manuscripts. Only 5 were non-fiction (will have to catch up with the research next year for the vampires through the centuries…), and only 2 were paper books, both re-reading.

Actually one of the two is a trilogy that I hadn’t read in 25 years and that I’m currently finishing and makes me want to go back and re-read the other trilogy in the series, except I have it in Italian only, while this one I have in English. It was one of the first English books that I bought way back in the nineties… and since it’s still a 5stars, here it is:

Dragonlance Legends Trilogy by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman!

You’re better off reading the war of the lance first, but this is good too! πŸ˜‰

As for the other 5 stars (in order of reading):

The Red Wraith

Veiled Alliances

The Silver Metal Lover (another re-reading – I got the Kindle edition because the paperback has become too hard to read, sigh… small print…)

Heaven Painted as a Cop Car

Blaster Squad #1 Terror on the Moon

Fangs and Fun

The Battles of Hastings

Dead Money

Now here’s to hoping I’ll read 50 books next year – 50 fiction books and 10 non-fiction (that’s about the number of books I have to read for the vampires research, haha!)!

So, if you still have some gifts to make, buy some books! There are stories for every reader above… fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, humor… take your pick! Happy reading! πŸ™‚

Random Friday

Warning, reader rant ahead.

So, I downloaded some samples of books from an article I read somewhere and then from the blog hop last week and in between longer readings I thought I’d give them a read, so I could decide if I wanted to buy the book or not.

I have limited reading time and a long TBR list, so reading samples before actually buying has become more of a habit lately. Except I was more than a little disappointed with certain small publishers who use up to 60% of the sample for their publisher shit.

Listen, I don’t care about all that boilerplate stuff publishers put at the front of printed books. I’m downloading an e-book sample, and you better let me read the story in that sample! Because 4 pages out of 10 (I’m simplifying, since I’m math-challenged) are not enough to hook me, and you’ve just lost a sale.

Now I almost feel sorry forΒ  the author who trusted you enough to license her book to you. Almost.

Second thing: if of a 20% sample of the whole book (is that how much Amazon lets you sample, or is it set by the publisher?), 60% is boilerplate and only 40% is story, I’m also prone to thinking this might be a short story, therefore not worth my money. Again, I’m math-challenged, so this thinking of mine might be wrong.

And then there’s those small publishers who publish only on their site or certain retailers, where 1) you need to register 2) I’m not even sure they have mobi file available. Sorry, guys. I have a Kindle. I don’t mind coming to your site, but if you’d allowed me to read the sample on Amazon, it might make things easier for me.

I already have too many accounts – as an author. I don’t want many more to be a reader. So, a couple of missed sales for you. You might not care at all, but I thought I’d let you know.

And I’m not naming names, but if you do that (put all that boilerplate stuff at the front of the ebook or not publish on Amazon at all), this is for you. Think about it. If you don’t care about those missed sales, good for you.

And to those of you who do things right, know that three of your books – for which I downloaded a sample – are now on my TBR pile and I will download them as soon as what’s already stored on K.K. goes down a little.

Now I better go back to that TBR pile, bundles of fiction and non-fiction, not to mention the paper books on my desk… I wish there were more hours in the day, but then… reading sends me to sleep, so I’d rather keep it for the evening! πŸ˜‰

Have a great weekend! πŸ˜€

Writer Wednesday

This week I’m trying to wrap up the vampire stories. Two shorts and a novel. More research and one last check of the final draft of Rajveer the Vampire, but it’s really the last books I’m reading for this novel.

I found useful info in the Invasions of India that I will keep handy for writing one of the next books, but totally gave up on History of the Moguls, since they seem to mix everything (Tamerlane with Babur, Akbar with Alauddin Khalji) – unless one reads it just for fun. But the history isΒ  really messed up.

I found many more books on the subject, but I’m not going to check them now. I’m also reading Vikram and the Vampire – I’m sure the English translation is not exactly as the original, but well… it’s also giving me nice insights on the country! πŸ™‚

After this vampire week, I’m trying to stay offline for 10 days – but I’ll bring a notebook, just in case! πŸ˜‰ As soon as I come back, I’ll upload another ex-B.G.Hope title with new cover, then I’ll start publishing some Star Minds Interregnum stories. I know, I’m supposed to say this on the publisher’s page, but…

It doesn’t have any followers yet. I finished working on the single books pages – adding maps, characters interviews, whatever I could, so please go have a look. No, I’m not asking to tell me what you think, but if you like what you see, subscribe to the newsletter. I don’t post there as often as I do here, and only about new titles! πŸ˜‰

If you’re an author and would like to be featured on my blog, drop me a line. Author and characters interviews are available. With a change of interviewer for characters. Brenda is probably not the best person, so Samantha is taking over the character interviews. See them bickering here, and answer Samantha’s questions if you dare! πŸ˜‰

Gentle reminder – it’s the last week at 20%off on DriveThruFiction and DriveThruComics. On DTF the ebooks have all kinds of files (PDF, mobi and e-pub) and there are even bundles discounted available (Books of the Immortals and Chronicles of the Varian Empire). On DTC… S.K.Y.B.A.N.D. has only PDFs (and a POD version for the Omnibus).

Random Friday

It’s something between a writing and a reading post. I’ve realized that in the past few years I’ve read mostly other indies and sort of lost track of what traditional publishers have to offer. Good or bad, I don’t know. Some of those writers were at a lower stage of their writing than mine, so even if one should read both the good and the bad, it made me feel like I knew everything.

Wrong, of course. But I was also daunted by the length of those traditionally published books (I bought A Game of Thrones in London before they made a TV series out of it, and it’s still sitting on my desk – can’t bear myself to get to those 800pages knowing there’s more to come). When I stared at the TBR pile, I always went for the shorter book at hand – and tried to get an idea of e-book lengths for the same reason.

Like Dean Wesley Smith has been telling us for years, in traditional publishing wordcounts were inflated. Now Moira Allen has realized that too – and that older classics are much shorter than today’s novels. That might be a reason why I didn’t start on George Martin’s book(s), I’d rather read 10 shorter books than one of those series! πŸ™‚

Might be the workshop, might be the latest read, but I think this year is another step in my writing career, so I was thinking of doing some kind of recap – mostly for me.

So in the 1980s I just wrote, longhand, for myself. At school I sometimes had a classmate reading my stuff, but mostly I was my only reader. I read and re-read the same books over and over, and tried to write like my then favorite author, Brunella Gasperini.

In the 1990s I started going to comicons and did my photocopied fanzine and started making new friends and getting a few more feedback. Jump in quality, thanks to that feedback! Unfortunately, it came from a bunch of yaoi lovers, so it didn’t improve the rest of my writing much! πŸ˜‰ I read most of David Eddings’s series, Jennifer Robertson’s Cheysuli series and some Dragonlance novels – lots of traditional fantasy (but not LOTR).

In the new millennium I tried my hand at screenplays in English and did my first creative writing workshops. I can still remember that in 2003 I discovered things like points of view (a.k.a. no omniscient narrator and no head-hopping in contemporary prose, thank you!) and thought “Wow, 25 years of writing I should just throw away!”

Which of course I didn’t! πŸ˜‰ I still have everything, because I’m like that. Anyhow, I went back to prose and before I started querying, the indie revolution happened. I started publishing what I considered my backlist, all those stories written before 2011 but after 2003.

And then I went back into my old old writing, and boy, it’s getting harder and harder to make decent stories out of that material! The pacing is wrong, the omniscient narrator is everywhere and it’s so summarized that I have no idea of what I meant to say in the first place – not to mention some very obvious naivetΓ©s since I was young and dumb.

Add to that the new ideas that pop up, and I’ll probably leave in the drawer all those 500 stories written in the previous stages of my writing! πŸ˜‰ Not that I’ve become proficient yet, but I’m getting better. I still can’t cry on my own stories (managed to get a little lump in my throat once or twice) while I do cry on other people’s stories. So, still a lot to learn.

This year I’m writing less, but trying to learn more. I’m also trying to read more, and not just indies, but also best sellers or traditionally published authors, to study them. Might be because the publisher’s web page is still in “coming soon” stage after two months and I already have to upload 100 covers, might be because I’m rebranding some titles, I don’t know, I’m publishing a lot less, but I don’t care.

I’ve been prolific so far by “recycling” old stories (most of Silvery Earth stories were written between 1990 and 2005), I’m less prolific now that I’m writing new stories. A few of the Star Minds shorts are recycled, but some are brand new.

I also noticed that last year I read a lot of short stories and not many novels. That’s probably why I haven’t really written novels this year yet – well besides Star Minds Next Generation and the current Desi vampire (a shorter novel – but then, my longest novel is 90K, so “short” for today’s standards).

So I better go back to reading novels and keep studying, because… you never stop learning! πŸ™‚ Even the strengths I thought I have are not so strong, but now I know how to improve. We’ll see if I actually improve within the year or not! πŸ™‚

And if you’re adults who don’t have time to spare and like to read shorter fantasy novels, the Silvery Earth books are all standalone and the longest is Books of the Immortals – Air (which has an inflated wordcount because… I wanted to submit it to traditional publishers. I couldn’t reach the minimum 100K they wanted for a fantasy book, so I self-published!)! πŸ˜‰

Have a great weekend! I’ll be doing the final pass on the Desi vampire…

Random Friday

Reading post – sort of! I gave up Varney the Vampire – definitely a 19th century book where people ejaculate instead of exclaiming and other funny stuff. Which brings me to today’s rant – what makes me put down a book. Please note my point of view is from an ESL reader. If you’re also an ESL reader, leave your comments at the bottom: what annoys you the most when you’re reading a book in English and it’s not your mother tongue?

Okay, here are my pet peeves in no particular order. I won’t say which books I did not finish, so this is all very generic. And I’m talking about contemporary novels now – what turns me off an author and makes me decide to put down the book and not finish it (unless bound by beta-reading duty) or finish it but never buy another book again from the same author?

Chat/Twitter English. I was quite baffled in the 1990s when I got my letters from America (you know, good old snail mail?) and someone wrote “How RU? GR8!” It’s less annoying these days since I understand better those acronyms or whatever it is those things are called, but it’s still a minus on the book’s chart.

Accents and weird spelling in dialog. It doesn’t make your character’s voice more distinctive, it makes it unintelliglible to me. And especially if the badly speaking character is passing on some vital info on the plot, it very much annoys me.

Purple and flowery prose. Boring. Also, if I don’t understand what’s going on because the plot is too obscure, I won’t read your story. I’m sorry, literary fiction and other plotless books are not for my tastes. (But I also DNF some sci-fi stories, maybe even Hugo nominated, because I couldn’t follow what was going on for various reasons).

Typos or bad formatting that turn the sentence into something unclear or utterly unreadable. Omophones used badly (principle/principal being the most misused in the books I’ve read so far). Once it’s a typo, twice maybe the author needs to find a better proofreader, 3 times – the author and the proof-reader know less English than I do!

I might finish your book if the story is interesting enough, but I won’t buy another title from you, thinking I’ll have to go through the hassle again (just happened – book finished in two days, 4stars for the story, 2 for the typos. And I’m not reviewing books anymore, so no names here either. It’s a standalone but also third of a series – I’m not going to check the other two books).

And I’m skipping the wrong spelling of the words our emigrants took to the other side of the world in the 20th century because I’m trying to be nice. I love English, or I wouldn’t be reading in English so much, but sometimes even the natives don’t seem to know what they’re doing, and it’s very frustrating.

Culture-specific description and brand-naming. America might think it’s the center of the world and everything you have or do is also everywhere else. Sorry, no. And it’s not just something trivial like telling me a character has a Prius or whatever (I can’t tell a Toyota from a Ford, so it’s false detail to me), it’s using brands to name things. I won’t go googling to see what the hell is a Twinkie (okay, I know that one, but I hope you get what I mean).

If I get too confused by the useless details, I’ll just put down the book and not finish it. Sometimes false details (or more generic descriptions) help whoever reads in English as second language. Some times too specific description gets lost on foreigners. And I do know quite a lot about America, since I have many American friends… Just sayin’.

And now my final two questions:

1) if you’re an ESL reader, what do you like or dislike of English prose?

2) if you’re a native English speaker, do you read foreign authors translated into English? Do you notice any difference in the way they tell their stories?

Wishing you a great weekend! πŸ™‚

Random Friday

I scheduled the previous post before leaving for London, but I’m writing this one in London – again, scheduling for my comfort, so I can sleep late, LOL! Just kidding. I’ll spare you how it started (not very well), but now I’m calmer, I’m going to the library every day to do my research, and every other day I meet friends – although I almost missed my first meeting on Tuesday because of my lack of smartphone.

I have also found a Bookcrossing Zone in London, it’s a pub, so don’t go there at 10, but they took 4 of my books for bookcrossing, so I was very relieved. I even had a huge hamburger that I couldn’t finish, since I went back there at lunch time. It’s on the side of Waterloo station – the Camel & Artichoke, just in case you happen to be in London.

Another book I left on the train to Reading, put it on a seat and went a couple of coaches forward and then a young black woman passed with it and sat a little further. I almost jumped out of my seat to tell her “hey, I wrote that one, hope you enjoy it!”, but I kept mum. I observed her, but first she toyed with her smartphone, then she read the newspaper and then she probably started on the book, yawned and put it down. But then I had reached my stop – Southall – so I got off. Hope she takes it home and reads it and releases it again!

Another book I left in the waiting room at Southall station – if it doesn’t get destroyed because they think there’s a bomb in a book, that is. I waited until the train came and the two people in the room exited to put it on one of the seats. There was some kind of problem on the way to Heathrow that morning, so the train to go back to Paddington was packed!

Got meself more DVDs, and since the vendor was nicer that the one I went to in 2013 and said he could have more by Friday, I promised him I’d be back on Friday. So this morning I’m back there for a few more titles. And then tonight I’m going to the cinema with my friend to watch John Wick on the big screen. I swear I didn’t know when I booked this trip that the movie would come out so late in the UK (and Ireland), or I’d have waited to buy the DVD! πŸ˜‰

Tomorrow I’ll be back home and will tell more about the stay – maybe next week. Have a nice weekend!

Random Friday

So, I’m reading a book. Yeah, I know, duh. Except it’s a printed book. Small fonts. I’m thinking of requesting the e-book version to the author. And I look forward to get back to my Kindle.

It’s something I’ve seen with magazines as well. I still buy two monthly mags (one is a movie mag, the other has comics and other stuff) and especially the movie mag sometimes writes too small, or color on color and it becomes unreadable for me. I’m short-sighted, but obviously not only that. So probably I’ll stop buying paper reads soon.

Happened with a Lupo Alberto comic as well – it was printed in a pocket edition and felt often unreadable. So even comics… maybe when I’ll do the complete edition of SKYBAND, I’ll do it on A4 instead of A5 – for my own good, mostly! πŸ˜‰

Even the Loncon program. I printed out Thursday, just in case I don’t reach registration on time Wednesday night and have to get my badge and program Thursday morning, but boy, was it hard to read… Mostly I read the title of the panel! I’ll have to buy a magnifying glass sometime… sigh! 😦

Anyhow – my failing eyes are a reason to stop drawing comics and graphic novels. I can still do the occasional illustration or portrait, but another saga… no. I’m paining enough with SKYBAND already. Still inking that chapter 14, in case you were wondering. And coloring with Photoshop will be even worse, I’m afraid.

So there – here’s to the Kindle. Maybe eventually I’ll start using its text-to-speech feature or will start buying audio books. At the moment I hate them – can’t concentrate on listening, so… why bother? I’d rather listen to music, you know? So we’ll see… And I will certainly skip my bookshop sprees – unless I’m looking for some non-fiction. Those books are better printed (as well as artbooks and comics – I have no more room on my shelves, ARGH!).

That’s all for today! Have a great weekend! πŸ˜‰

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