Writer Wednesday

And we’re back to the normal longer posts, yay! 😉 Although Laptop gave me a hard time for abandoning him for two weeks… but eventually it behaved! 😀

So, the workshop. Fascinating stuff, and wonderful time spent with other introverts… I mean, writers with whom we talked about everything from craft to business to personal life rolls or highs. So in spite of the slight panic at seeing the room full of PEOPLE, most of which I didn’t know, I survived and actually enjoyed myself!

Now I have a long ToDo list, but I’m slowly working through it. Typing those handwritten pages took some time, but eventually I can tell you I managed to write 11200words longhand while traveling. I’m a good way into Saif’s story and hope to finish it by next week so I can start working on the next vampire novella.

Then, as I wait for feedback on the vampires, I will redraft a couple of the stories I submitted to the workshop and leave the others alone. I will eventually publish them, but I’m still trying to figure out the when or how. Some were first attempts in genres I don’t normally tackle, but only one actually made me want to write the longer version, without wordcount constraints – which are one of the reasons I went indie, a story should be as long as it should be with no wordcount constraints! 😉

Now to some probably old writerly links! A very good list of vital writing advice – do not ignore! ROFL, especially #25 that sums it up perfectly. And if you’re wondering if you should get an English degree… I don’t, but I’m an ESL writer. I don’t even have the Italian equivalent, actually, but I’ve been writing stories since I was 13.

So up to you. Here’s more writing advice for you if you still feel not sure of what you really want. I had read the original post (not sure if I shared it here) and totally agreed too. I am always baffled at how everybody in Italy writes but nobody reads. I am not a strong reader myself, but when I started writing in English I also started reading more to expand my vocabulary.

I will write more about the rest of the trip in the next post… Have a great week! 🙂


Writer Wednesday

As I trudge through more Amazons stories for the next anthology, there isn’t much going on. I’m considering giving away a free story to whoever subscribes to the New Releases newsletter (widget in the sidebar) – a PDF that will be attached to the first one. It won’t be sent out for Amazon Spring, though, since at the moment I have only one subscriber! 😉

I have updated the blurb for Amazon Spring:

A collection of stories set in the Queendom of Maadre a.k.a. Amazons Country. From the death of Queen Amazonia to shorter stories, meet the only country on Silvery Earth where women rule and men have no voice and no rights. Reprint of “The Death of Queen Amazonia”, “The Slave” (included in Tales of the Southern Kingdoms Volume 1) and Doreen (included in Books of the Immortal – Prequels). The dawn of the Queendom.

New story: The Public Man – or male prostitutes in the Queendom! Leone thinks he has the best job in the country – until he realizes not everybody likes Public Men…

It’s already available for pre-order on Kobo and soon will be on the other retailers as well. I uploaded it to D2D in the hope that next week it will be available at Apple along with the other retailers… I will upload to KDP and Smashwords on Sunday when I come back from Torino Comics.

Anyhow, a few links this week. David Farland on Luck, Work, Intelligence, Taste, Talent, Timing – which goes well with Dawn Copeman’s Quality or Quantity. I’m still prolific, but I’ve slowed down a bit, since I’m writing more new stories and less rewrites/translations. Still have a lot of titles out, and obviously I don’t write for traditional markets (yes, two more rejections this year) but I’ll keep submitting the short stories before publishing them.

In case you missed it, last week Kris Rusch had TWO business posts, a surprise Tuesday and the usual business Thursday. I guess being published in a magazine is a good discoverability stunt, although it would make me uneligible to participate to more Writers of the Future… But considering how long the contest keeps the story blocked, well, I’d rather submit to markets with quicker turnaround (Clarkesworld is unbeatable!), so I won’t send the contest another story this year.

If next year I’m still “unpublished”, we’ll see! I already know what I’m going to write for Crossed Genres, the July theme… based on the review of Saif’s Legacy by dear beta! *waves at Bookwatcher* Get ready for Kilig’s training!! 🙂

More links: Colleen Doran on Lies, Blacklists and other Handicaps. Might happen to writers as much as artists, so have a look. The only blacklist I know of is Hollywood’s Blacklist, and that doesn’t mean the screenplays that end there will never ever get made – although it might take years (any reference to Passengers is absolutely correct – blacklisted in 2007, it’s still in progress…).

David Gaughran on pricing e-books. I’ve long since made up my mind on pricing, and if I don’t ask more than 5bucks it’s because my books are short. In fact Star Minds the complete series is 9.99$ because it’s a much longer work that includes 3 books… So I agree with David that $4.99 is best for my full-length books – be they anthologies (that sometimes read like novels) or novels. As for “first in the series free” – I don’t have a real first in a series (unless I make Technological Angel permanently free), so I’ll keep doing some 99cents shorts to intruduce to Silvery Earth for those who don’t want to waste 5bucks on an untried author! 😉

Finally, Joe Konrath about Tracy Hickman and the man’s response. I remember reading the Dragonlance trilogy and the Twins trilogy Tracy wrote with Margaret Weiss, but I admit I lost track of him since. The Twins trilogy was the first book I read in English (at the end of last century), and I still think I should re-read it now that my English has improved – I remember I had to check the dictionary because I couldn’t figure out what a “gully dwarf” was, since I had read the Dragonlance trilogy in Italian! 😉 I had heard Tracy Hickman did a serial on his site, that’s why at first – reading Joe Konrath’s post – I thought “what’s going on?” Another internet meme or misquote…

Anyway, that’s all for today! Have a great week!

Writer Wednesday

Sci Fi Promo Event Share PictureDid you notice the new widget in the sidebar? I’m participating in this wonderful event! 🙂 So don’t miss the sale and check the other wonderful authors participating! Lots of lovely covers  – my TBR list will grow again, sigh! And apparently there will be some kind of contest as well, yay! A great applause to author Tim Flanagan for starting this! He’s doing more in other genres, so if you write paranormal romance, you might want to check him out!

Just for your information, the participating books for yours truly are Books of the Immortals – Air, Chronicles of the Varian Empire – The Left-handed Warrior and Technological Angel. I can fix the 99c/75p prices, but the other markets will vary (still be discounted for two days, though)… Feel free to spread the word – I have created a Goodreads event and a Facebook event… share, share, share, the more the merrier, thank you!

Besides, July is the sales month! This year Smashwords does the Summer/Winter sale again, so everything at Unicorn Productions is 50% off until the end of the month (the above 3 will still be more than 99c, so you might want to wait for that). Which means some books will be free. Which means I thank very much the kind person who bought 3 books mere hours before the start of the sale – hopefully that wonderful person will check them before the end of the month and get more with the discounted price! 🙂

Finishing Amazon Sisters, so I can re-read and send it off to betas and get back to Star Minds Snippets. By the way, I’ve found this interesting site, No Names, No Jackets, that allows you to sample books without being distracted by covers or blurbs or all that marketing stuff (that often gets on my nerves). I have uploaded a few excerpts of my books, but they’re not all live yet, so just play with the random search and see if you can recognize them! 🙂 I’ll eventually add them to the “Excerpts and Free Reads” page…

Some interesting links! Thank God someone finally expressed my opinion of the Her0’s Journey! 🙂 This so reminds me of those screenwriting gurus telling you how a screenplay should be structured having never written one in their entire life. Same thing here – someone studied the classics and decided that’s how a story should be told. And probably never actually wrote anything – like the “how to write” books written by editors. I doubt any writer would be very articulate in saying how he/she came up with the story.

Unless he’s David Farland (or a few others who can actually teach how to write). See Dave’s post on Grey Heroes. Another two are Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. I might take the lecture on pen names at some point, since I can’t make it to the Oregon Coast this year. But I enjoy the live workshops more, so here’s to next year’s travels (which will include Loncon, but hopefully also a workshop with Dean&Kris).

Then check David Gaughran’s talk with Alliance of Independent Authors’ Orna Ross. This looks like an interesting organization, since it includes the likes of Writers Beware Victoria Strauss and Passive Guy. Worth thinking about joining.

Kris Rusch on life changing events. I have donated for Dave’s son, will have to check about Peter David. Honestly I’m not thinking about the future yet – not that I want to live for ever, far from that, but I still have to figure out a couple of things in this very complicated country or find a way out of it and try to earn some other citizenship. Yes, we might have free healthcare, so I won’t apply for a Greencard, but I do want to emigrate to a less complicated country! 🙂

And if you’d like to make a living with short fiction, don’t forget to check the maths on Dean’s blog. I think that even the most busy person in the world can find 15 minutes to write every day, or even one hour, but then, I’ve heard plenty of “writers” who seem unable to find the time to write. They’re probably wannabe authors. Writers write. They don’t talk about writing, they just write. So if you’re a writer, just go back to writing.

Finally, to blog or not to blog. Up to you. I enjoy this, so I’ll keep doing it. Even if with less frequency than when I started, you’ll still get regular posts here. B.G Hope has a static web page because I can’t handle two blogs, LOL! Unless I start one for readers, with free fiction or whatnot. Mmm, no, I’d rather be off writing the next story, sorry! 🙂 Have a wonderful week and don’t forget to check the Smashwords sale – a reminder for the Kindle event next week! 🙂

Writer Wednesday

I’m going to start this with another “help me choose the cover” like I’ve done in the past. You met Samantha on Sunday. Even if she’s not the protagonist of the body switch, she’s the one who did it, as you have noticed from the excerpt, so I decided she could have the cover spotlight even if she’s not the main character. Hence two attempts:

Which one, left or right? How about I cut out the head altogether and leave the body and tarot deck (well Unicorn cards, actually, but she’s a witch and not from this planet, LOL)?

The book is now with The Editor and will come out as soon as she’s done and I revise it one last time. Sunday I worked on the final draft and discovered some formatting was screwed – the Spanish n of “senor” had become a square that ate also the “o” and all m-dashes and ellipses had disappeared! So I had to work them all back in.

After the novella (it’s less than 25k, I doubt it qualifies as a novel), I added one version of the original short story and in there not only the m-dashes/ellipses were gone, but also the space between the words (which made it easier to find them as the spellchecker underlined the united words)! 😦 Mysteries of OpenOffice, I guess.

I also struggled with formatting the Italian novel coming out this week. The original document is from 2004, I think I still had Word instead of Open Office. I put it through the Nuclear Option suggested by Smashwords (save as TXT and reformat), but the HTML file for Kindle was all screwed anyway. Had to save it as PDF, put through Calibre, generate a mobi file and upload that to KDP. Not happy with how the file came out, I decided to try again today… I downloaded Mobicreator and will try it. And I haven’t tried the Smashwords meatgrinder yet. Yikes.

Anyway, I had to shuffle things to write around a little and interrupt the sci-fi piece to start writing CVE4 while editors and betas take a look at CVE3 – the sci-fi title won’t be out until December anyway, but it will be done by July, so if you’d like to volunteer… yeah, I’m always looking for betas! 🙂

In case you missed it, on Fictorian Era  Dean Wesley Smith told the secret of his success… yeah, that’s what I’m doing, that’s why you don’t see me marketing my books. I’m too busy writing (or rewriting from my backlist, as some of those ideas only need some revamping to be put out there) to bother with marketing. He’s right, your best marketing tool is your next book. And I’m going to keep writing old and new stories, hoping to find my audience soon.

I won’t throw away those thousands and thousands of words. They were useful to learn the craft. And, like Dean, I’m still learning. Those I’m not too happy with them anymore because that’s not the kind of story I would write today? Polish and publish. Those that were only writing exercises? Keep the notebook and cherish it. Those that had something that deserves to be rewritten? Here we go!

CVE3 was originally written in 1993. I keep shuffling chapters around, taking out useless secondary characters or putting back in adventures that looked superfluous, but it’s still a good novel, so I’m rewriting it. OK, I’ve rewritten it, and will send it out to betas soon! 🙂

Anyway, I might sound like I’m in a hurry. I’m not. I’m prolific and I have dozens of stories that are almost ready for public consumption – they need to be translated, mostly. The Italian stories, I’m putting them out almost as they are (I keep finding typos, grrrr!!). But I’d like to remind you (or let know to the new blog subscribers who might not be aware of this *waves at them*) that I’ve been writing stories since 1978. So I’m not really a beginner story-teller…

Like a friend (much younger than me and who hasn’t managed to finish a longer work yet and is stuck to a handful of short stories) said, “Writing is a muscle”. Just keep writing, and you’ll get better. Don’t ever get stuck in rewriting hell. Don’t ever waste years on one novel. Pour the story out, let it rest, adjust, and query/publish it. You can’t please all your readers anyway, so… move on! 🙂 Your next story will be better, I promise! 😉

A couple of posts for you: Colleen Doran on struggling artists and bad contracts re: Before Watchmen. Valid for artists AND writers – especially beginners. Then go to J.A.Konrath’s blog and see how Harelquin screws its writers… Romance writers, forget a deal with them! 😦 And good advice from a “beginner” (Terry Compton – who seem to follow the same blogs I do, tee-hee! – guest at SPAL): write short stories and publish them on Smashwords, it will help you hone your crafts and create your backlist without spending years on a novel! 🙂

Finally, because the original post has the comments closed, here’s on genre and pen-names from SPAL again. Personally, I have a publisher account at Smashwords – yeah, if you read the web address it’s “barbaragtarn”, but when you open the page it’s Unicorn Productions. My pen-names are not secret and the books come out correctly as different authors: Barbara G.Tarn, Barbara Sangiorgio and B.G.Hope, writing in different genres and different languages. I will update the links on Unicorn Productions whenever I set up a static web page for the imprint, but I’ll leave this blog for now.

Payments go to my Paypal account under my real name anyway. On Amazon I use my real name account to upload on KDP and have opened the 3 Author Central profiles with the 3 pen-names again with my real-name account. Mostly for payment reasons: checks should go to my real name, not any pen-name I might use because of language or genre.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I opened the account with Smashwords (to read, not to publish), I hadn’t considered putting up a small imprint to publish my pen-names! 🙂 And having dozens of different accounts… ouch! Can’t keep up! Even on Goodreads I joined only as Barbara G.Tarn! 😦 It works for my non-existent marketing skills, LOL!

Happy writing and have a great week!

UPDATE: cover second attempt following Rich’s suggestions… what do you think? Gee, can’t choose! 😦


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!

Musings and rants

24hours after upload, Tarun had 173 downloads. It was free (like everything under 10000words I will put on Smashwords), but it’s also labeled erotica, x-rated, etc. It’s a story of lust and sex without love. Starblazer, which is totally “normal” fantasy, is still a little over 120 after one week.

After 28 hours and 200 downloads I set the minimum price of 0.99$. The download stopped. Will I give it away for free again? Maybe. Not now. Why, you may ask? Because that’s not what I want to be associated with. I don’t normally write erotica, so it won’t really bring me new readers. I will most certainly include it in the collection of the Tales of the Southern Kingdoms when I’ll have written all the stories, but giving it away for free… I don’t think so.

And then I wonder. I know sex sells (in most markets, I know it’s off-limits in the Christian market). Do I want to write for the market? No. I write adult fantasy with some sex – only when necessary. Tarun fits the erotica genre because in the case of that particular short story sex was crucial to the plot, a source of power, etc. This doesn’t mean I’ll add sex scenes in novels just because.

I’ve had a taste of erotica writing with Six Sentence Sunday, and -as a reader- some of it I like, some I don’t. As a writer I still prefer leaving most of the things to the reader’s imagination, unless it’s important – like in Water where my poor beta was obviously upset by my sadist character who decided to rape his rival out of spite. OK, I can “censor” if necessary, but I’ve done that in the past (mostly because I didn’t feel confident about what I was talking about) and ended up putting back the “censored scene(s)” in later rewrites. Those “censored” scenes had either sex or violence. Or controversial characters (some people’s pet peeve might be M/M love – not sex, I mean relationships).

So I guess I’ll keep writing what I feel like writing. If the story needs to show sex or violence for some reason, I’ll show it (and I’m certainly not hiding my gay characters anymore, they’re not everywhere, but in many stories), otherwise I’ll just hint about it. I might or might not write the back-story of the abused Orphans (Keiko, Hayato and Kumar of Air) to include in the aforementioned collection: I have written bits and pieces and maybe eventually I’ll write it all, or maybe I will not, we’ll see (for betas: some of it was in Air, but I took it out in the final version).

I write what I want to read. And I’m not a fan of sex nor violence anyway. I write them only when they’re necessary to the story. And I will always put warnings for whoever might be offended, just in case…

Links and musings

Another week is gone, where is time flying? Upcoming for most of you out there is the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, opening on the 24th and ending Feb.6 or whenever they reach 5000 entries, so hurry. Why is it not for me? Because in spite of opening Amazon Italia, Italy ISN’T in the countries allowed to participate. India, China, Austria, Belgium (to name a few non-English speaking countries), but not Italy. Maybe when I become a Kindle best-seller author they’ll open to submissions from Italy? But then it would be too late for me anyway! 😉

Another interesting discussion is between Dean Wesley Smith and agent Mary Kole, pointing to the fact we’ll eventually have agented/packaged writers vs. indy. Now, “packaging” is one of the reasons I quit screenwriting. I don’t want a village taking care of my babies, like agent Rachelle Gardner says. I don’t believe in families either, so I’ll go solo – I’m sick of waiting for other people’s approval. Like Joe Konrath says:

Surfing the interwebs, I’ve found that the most vocal opponents to writers self-publishing seem to be:


I have one more reason to go indy this year – watch me get my 5000 readers! 😉

Another reason is this Open Letter I found tag surfing (slow week at work, had time to do it). I am sort of in Cat’s situation – 45 and living in Italy. And I don’t think book signings help sell more copies, but then… there aren’t book signings in Italy. It’s something I already noticed at comicons and book fairs: in France people line up to have their (comic)books signed, even by unknown authors, even children; in Italy, if you’re not Umberto Eco or the latest reality show winner, nobody will show up. That’s why I’m very happy (almost) everything can be done online these days. There’s no such thing as age and availability anymore in my humble opinion.

For genre writers, on Clarion blog the editor of resurrected Realms of Fantasy tells what he’s looking for for upcoming issues. They will even accept poetry! So if you’re still after that short-stories paying market, check Douglas Cohen’s post.

I have completed the book trailer for Jessamine and resubmitted for Premium Distribution on Smashwords, as there were two minor glitches… let me know what you think. I’m enjoying making this book trailers! 😉 Do they come out right or look amateurish?

That’s all for today and this week! Have a great weekend everybody! 😀

Saturday links and the usual rambles

OK, here we are pondering about the week that was! I’ll share some links I found interesting with my own comments to them – feel free to ignore me and go straight to the original posts! 😉

Blood Red Pencil has an excellent post on Show don’t tell – with examples like I’ve never seen. So if you’re still confused about that matter (as much as I am), go and check it right now. It’s… enlightening!

If you’re a short story writer, go check Dean Wesley Smith’s goals for the new year. He might me onto something when he explains how to make a living out of your writing. As he concentrates on short stories this time, don’t miss him he New World of Publishing series. If you’re not writing short stories, what are your goals for the new year? Read his post anyway, as he explains very well the difference between goals and dreams. My goal is to turn my dreams into goals to achieve as soon as I’m ready! 😉

Agent Rachelle Gardner had a guest post by Marcus Brotherton who give an excellent suggestion on how we can save publishing. This is sort of obvious for the former ziner who went to buy everybody else’s zines (except the others never bothered to do the same – but ziners are notoriously broke. So are writers, you say? Please DO read Mr Brotherton post!), but it might come as new to you. So, writers, let’s unite to save publishing, self or not! 😀

On Self-published Authors Lounge, dear Maureen wrote an hilarious post about POV. I’m totally behind her, I’m sick of being told how to write. I’m also self-taught, don’t mind omniscient narrator and love to have dozens of POV characters (although in my latest novels they’re usually less than 10 – used to be a lot more when I was totally omniscient, haha!). But then I’m the rebel who loves to do things her own way, so the only thing I really need to do is master English grammar, the  rest is MY voice, and I’m not going to change it because somebody says “this can’t be done”. I will keep using comma splices in dialog, as I know what a comma do and what a dot do, and they’re not the same thing – I might take them out of narrative passages, but in dialog, please allow me to know when and for how long my characters pause in their speech! 😉

Which brings us to another Blood Red Pencil post about commas, which I read very carefully as I’m often guilty of comma splice. But then I found out that one supposed comma splice was actually “bracketing commas” so I can happily ignore the correction, ha! 😀 And another I’ve turned it into a dash, hope this will suit my English readers better… sigh! What an author must do must do (shouldn’t there be a comma somewhere in this sentence?)! Except never forget your voice, please…

I’ll end with David Farland again, and those damned dialog tags that drive all of us writers crazy… Personally, I used different verbs for different situations, and sometimes no dialog tags at all. But Dave’s advice is the best, so just stick to it!

David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—The Dialog Tag Controversy

Today’s question comes from Ryan Call who points out that I gave some advice the other day that conflicts with common wisdom. He asks, “You said that the dialogue tag ‘said’ might not always convey what the author means and he or she might, for example, use ‘she swore,’ but I have a few problems with dialogue tags like that. First off, the book SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS (by Renni and Brown) warns against ever using dialogue tags other than ‘said’ because using dialogue tags such as ‘he snarled’, ‘she growled’, ‘he spat’, ‘she sniffed’, ‘he sneered’ and so on can create impossibilities (ever tried sniffing or sneering a sentence?). Also, such tags tell rather than show, and worse, talk down to the reader, implying they are too stupid to know how a character said something unless specifically told. An even worse dialogue tag would include an -ly adverd to further tell the reader such as: ‘he sneered sarcastically’. Self-Editing also included the dialogue tag ‘asked’ in the group of tags to avoid because the very fact that dialogue ends with a question mark already tells the reader that a character is asking a question. To add ‘he asked’ or worse ‘he questioned’ to that is both repetitive and demeaning to the reader (effectively telling them they’re too stupid to know it was a question without being told twice).

“Now, I’ve been taught that the characters’ body language and the context in which the dialogue appears should be enough for the reader to visualize or interpret the manner in which the dialogue is spoken. That also adds the benefit of not constricting the characters’ developmental scope as much, as readers are free to interpret the characters’ words to some extent, giving leeway to how any given reader will view or consider said character, thus enabling the characters to be loved, hated or whatever by each reader and better remembered by a wider readership.

“Problem is, while I’ve been told and taught to avoid such things like the plague, I see many published authors using such tags as well as extreme telling rather than showing (something all writing teachers stress that their students should avoid) in their novels.

“Now, my questions: Have you ever considered dialogue tags as a way writers talk down to their readers or as a lazy way to tell rather than work to show a scene, and who do you think is right or has it become a matter of preference only?”

Okay, so here is the answer to the question: I actually used that example as a way to pick a fight. I love Renni and Brown’s book, but on this point, their advice seems a bit extreme.

First, Renni and Brown don’t consider the possibility that sometimes we need to write down to the reader. I’ve written books to audiences from the ages of one to a hundred, and I know that my second-grade and third-grade readers are not mature enough to always understand what a character is thinking, and so they need stronger dialog tags.

You also ought to realize that even adult readers might have difficulty trying to understand what your character is thinking. In particular, people with Asperger’s Syndrome have a tough time reading facial cues in order to understand emotion. I’m not sure if this extends into writing, but I can tell you that many readers DO have difficulty trying to figure out what characters are thinking. Just as each of us has different abilities when it comes to language or math, each of us has different abilities when trying to read emotional cues. Some are geniuses at it (like my niece), while others are idiots. As an author, I wish that all readers were equally good at reading emotion’s cue. They’re not.

Last of all, one must take into account that even good readers sometimes get distracted, or might be required to lay a book down for a long period of time. Thus, a strong dialog tag might remind them of the context of the story. I kid you not, I got a nice fan letter the other day from a fellow who was reading one of my books three years ago. He got in a car accident and spent months in the hospital recuperating. Then a couple of weeks ago, he found the novel and began reading where he’d left off. He was surprised (as was I) that he could not only pick it up and remember it well enough so that he could understand what was going on, but said that he’d loved the book, despite his lengthy absence.

Renni and Brown make a good point in that many new writers go way overboard, basically writing dialog tags that are purple prose. I’ve seen writers whose characters growl one sentence, snarl the next, spit the third, and so on. Adding –ly adverbs compounds the problem. It does come off as overwrought.

But to say that you should “never” use any dialog tag but ‘said’? That’s carrying some decent advice to an extreme. In particular, if your character says something in a manner that is contrary to how one might read it within the context, you owe it to your reader to give a stronger dialog tag. For example, imagine that you have your villain pointing a gun at your hero. Your hero says, “Go ahead, pull the trigger.” One might well imagine that a brave protagonist is daring the reader. But maybe the protagonist is in despair, perhaps he’s begging? Or maybe he has given up so completely that he says it as a quip? Should we really avoid using a stronger dialog tag in this case?

Normally, I think that Renni and Brown are correct, but each case where we give a dialog tag, requires us as authors to make an educated and rational decision—not blindly follow some advice that was stylish in the 1970s for literary fiction.

Renni and Brown, I suspect, might even agree with my stance.


International Mag

In my train musings I remembered running a zine, from 1997 to 2001.  Originally called Pen Palz Int’l Mag to be shared with my pen pals (at the time I had about 50 all around the world), then International Mag. It had drawings, strips, short-stories, poems and I even did a Marvels of the world issue, where there were articles on each contributor’s country, which included a piece on the Korean alphabet and some Japanese sentences.

It was really just a zine, all black and white with cover on colored paper, 20 to 28 pages bimonthly, and I eventually closed it because the printing (photocopies…), but mostly the mailing expenses were killing me. And I received way too much poetry for my personal tastes.

I was considering doing it a gain, a monthly PDF zine downloadable for free. I could use colors and do as many pages as necessary, as I won’t have to mail it and pay extra for a heavier mag.

The only pay for contributors (who keep all the copyrights) is exposure. Of course anyone can do it on her /his own now, but maybe someone would like to expand his/her audience and/or be included with the works of others.

I would like it to be a showcase of talent from around the world, for artists and fiction writers – I’m excluding poets at this time as I’m not able to judge poetry in my mother tongue, imagine in a second language.

So, short stories, strips, artworks, comics in short episodes, in English, of course, are welcome. Maybe in the future I could add novellas or novels in instalments. I’m open to any genre except to dark (horror porn or splatter).

I would like to hear your thoughts on such an idea, you can post them in the comments… thank you!

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