Writer Wednesday


Currently in Oregon for a workshop I can’t say much about yet – stay tuned, next week I’ll tell you everything – and not really eager to publish something new, although I do have something. Well, it’s the third version of an already published short story, but since I don’t have the cover yet, it will have to wait. Nobody offered guest posts or character interviews, so I’m improvising from the lovely location I’m at – the Historic Anchor Inn of Lincoln City.

Writing-wise, I’m currently adding a part 4 to Kilig and Hakeem’s story, even if I already got the Assassins’ Guild edits back from the editor. But I can’t look at them on this tiny screen, so I’ll just keep writing and then send it out to betas and then to her. So the final book is actually going to be longer than expected. Not bad for what was supposed to be a one-shot novella.

Anyhow, first night homework was “What kind of writer do I want to be” and I think now is a good time to think about it. I’m a storyteller and I’ll keep writing stories until the day I die, and that’s for sure. But I’d also love to share those stories with the world – find my 5000 true fans (if you go back to the beginning of this blog, you’ll see what I mean) and live off my royalties, doing the thing I love doing the most: writing (with some drawing on the side, LOL)!

I’m productive, so I can start a Patreon campaign soon. How soon, depends on how long it takes me to make decisions and schedule my writing so that I can compensate whoever decides to support me. I’m also thinking of giving away a short story or a novella to newsletter subscribers – something that will never be published online, so the only way to read it is by subscribing to the newsletter.

If the recession in Italy rids me of the DayJob, I’ll start doing formatting for other authors or write that “Indie Author” guide in Italian (and English for non-Americans). Apparently non-fiction sells better and e-books are forever and can be updated at any time, so… yeah, I might do that. After I finish writing the fiction pieces I want to write this year (at the moment: finish Assassins Guild story, write Star Minds Next Generation book 2 and if there’s time, rewrite an old story that matches my Amazon novella that I translated last year but haven’t published yet because they go parallel and I don’t want to rewrite one when I finish the other). And I might dig into cover art and graphics as well.

But until then, I’ll just keep writing and publishing to the usual places. This month I’m taking a break, but next month I’ll be back with more titles, so stay tuned. Now off to writing some more (if I read, I’ll fall asleep, LOL!). Have a great week!

workshop exercise


Once upon a time (i.e. last year) I used Sundays to post my writing exercises from workshops of both prose and screenplays. Now I don’t have that many left, so I’m just posting here a random exercise – from the first day of my Wales workshop. It’s the only one unrelated to novels I must write (maybe there’s another one… yeah, well, reading a piece without punctuation isn’t that funny, so I’ll spare you that one), so here it is.

First we had to pick an abstract noun. I’m not mentioning it here for the reasons stated below.

Then we were supposed to write a situation about it (free writing, 10 minutes or so):

mind wandering, characters suddenly speaking up, new scenes popping out of nowhere, a-ha moment, jotting down notes in the moleskin notebook, creative frenzy is happiness!! Listening to something/someone (song/person) and having a shiny new idea to elaborate. Time vanishes and doesn’t matter during shots that take you higher than drugs. If only the hand was as good as the mind (I want the thoughts-recorder now!!).

Then the abstract noun and the five senses (again I’ll omit the abstract noun, bear with me):

… is a shiny castle, it tastes like chocolate, smells like peppermint, feels like a velvet gown, sounds like a Bollywood soundtrack.

Finally a piece about that abstract noun without mentioning it:

As the train moved on I pushed the “play” button on the CD-player. Old fashioned me plunged into Bollywood, with the sound of Dostana (the Hindi word meaning “friendship”). It’s very short but totally covers the mood, and even if the movie is shot in Miami, it’s still and Indian movie, which suddenly triggered ideas for Air, the first Book of the Immortals. I usually write medieval fantasy, but Air is inspired by India and Persia. My characters popped up on the very modern soundtrack, and the first ballad became part of the story, something I should weave in the rewrite. Touch is the sens I’m supposed to explore in Air, but those songs triggered new ideas both connected to Air and Ether (where Sound reigns). Submerged by a wave of new images, I know how to swim in those metaphorical waters – thank goodness, because in reality I can’t swim. But the gift to see shiny castles and velvet gowns makes it worthwile.

So, what is the abstract noun I picked up? Can you guess? (no, you don’t win anything if you play this game, just have fun! ;-))

Workshop retreat in Wales


Well, that was another adventure. Not really getting there, but leaving. I thought they’d keep me hostage in Wales until the sun came back and I could be able to properly visit Harlech castle (which would have probably meant until spring ;-))! 😀 But this will be the topic of the next post – the traveling hassles, I mean.

The venue was neat, stables turned to house with a big living room with very comfy sofas – considering I spent indoors most of the week, it was a very important feature! 😉 I traveled from London with my roommate Daphne and we met with Jan Fortune Wood (the workshop runner) and Becky and settled in.  Sort of. For the first time in my life I 1) locked a trolley on a train (I usually lock luggages only on planes) and 2) locked the key INSIDE the trolley (one of those neat TSR-approved locks – TSR has keys to them, I didn’t). So I had to cut the trolley zip open, fish for the key and open it. How to ruin a brand new 40euros trolley. More on this later.

The morning after Gill came in, and later in the week Karen. Mornings were spent with writing exercised and individual workshops. I gave the first (rewritten) chapter of Air, which was discussed by all on Tuesday. Considering the other lovely ladies were mostly poets, they were very nice about my fantasy outlet. Being the writer that I am, I refuse to read aloud, so Jan and Karen volunteered to do it for me – how sweet! 😀

Afternoons were for one-on-one workshops and mentoring with Jan. I found my copy-editor for Air, and she promised to help with my book blurb, so I’m very happy. We also had readings after dinner once or twice, which was fun.

The only time I left the house was to get to Harlech (the town) on Monday to buy needle and thread. The castle was closing, so we couldn’t visit it, and as I kept hoping for a not-rainy-not-windy day, I ended up not visiting it – but Gill and Daphne went the day after and bought me the guide. So I sewed the zip of the trolley and managed to close it again – and in spite of me not being so good with needle and thread, it held until I got back home. I will have to decide if I get rid of it or keep it a little longer – the Stitched Trolley has now a name, haha! 😀

I also had time to read, so I went through 2 novels in 5 days – mine and “Lady of the Glen” by Jennifer Robertson (the link doesn’t give the edition I have, though…). The latter is historical romance, so it was useful to get into the mindset of historical novels. It’s set in 17th century Scotland when the Mc Donalds of Glencoe were slaughtered for almost no reason. You can google history if you wish so. I knew it was historical romance as the two protagonists meet in chapter one, even if she’s still a child and it takes them literally years to get together (mostly because they’re from warring clans, Campbell vs. McDonald, so it’s just another Romeo&Juliet story – or not?).

What was harder for me was getting the dialogues. I dinna ken what to make of those strange words at first. Och, aye, I understood the meaning, but kept struggling with them. But the end of the book I got them, though, so it wasn’t that bad. I dinna ken if I’ll ever be able to do something like that, though. I willna. Now way. But I promise I’ll try to keep the 21st century slang out of my historical dialogs! 😉 The sex quantity was just right, and the same I plan on having in mine… although it’s NOT historical romance (they CANNA meet in the first chapter as they live quite apart, haha)! 😉

I’ll leave you with my exercises on metaphors:

The open air market in the summer / The streets at rush hour.

busy ants running errands.

 

The sight of Earth from space,

blue marble on a black playground.

(the ladies hadn’t seen Men in Black, but I did… not very original, I know! ;-))

workshop with Rome writers group 6/5/2007


can’t remember what we were supposed to write for the exercise, but I had an ID of my character as follow:

Charlie, early forties, is a mixed blood (Asian-Caucasian) coming from a very rich family so he always had everything he could wish for – including drugs. The death of his best friend (overdose at 23) is a wake-up call for him, so at 29 he turns his back on his family and starts wandering like a homeless, trying to find his real self. He’s generous, kind and well educated, he has lost his self-consciousness, he smokes a lot, his clothing his homeless/casual, his vocabulary educated and he doesn’t want to attach himself to anyone for fear of losing him/her (friend/lover). He lives in the United States, loves motorcycles and bordeaux wines, hates nothing in particular.

And I wrote the following scene on the spot:

Charlie closed the door of the hotel room. The maid must have given up cleaning it: the bed was still unmade and his clothes still hanging around the room.

Charlie decided to take a shower and shave. He could be someone else for the night. But before he could start, the cell phone rang.

“Damn” he said to himself. Home number. They knew they shouldn’t call him. Something bad must have happened, he could feel it in the air. He didn’t want to answer.

“Hello?”

His mother’s voice was very quiet, but still urged him to come back.  Back to the villa with pool and gardens, back to the room with everything money could buy, back to the place where his father was king – before the heart attack.

“You’ll find the ticket waiting for you at the airport,” his mother said.

“Okay,” he surrendered with a sigh.

He started packing. He was now the only heir to the family fortune. And he still wondered if he could handle it. The pressure, the parties, the people.

He stopped packing. He didn’t need those clothes anyway. Even if the wardrobe back at home didn’t fit anymore after all these years, he’d probably have a full new one in 48 hours.

He was kind of missing all of it. He had punished himself long enough for Philip’s death, it was time to go back to his rich shoes.

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