Random Friday


Haven’t been doing much, so I’m posting the Words of Wisdom, Writers on Writing, whatever you want  to call them, and happy new writing year! 🙂

Keep your ear to the ground. You can’t just hide out in your writing cave. Remember, the market changes. You need to be able to alter course if necessary, so stay informed of what’s happening in the industry, what other authors are doing, what the book trends are, etc. That doesn’t mean you jump on everything that comes your way, but you need to be aware of it. Don’t be the last one to catch the train.

Pay it forward!!! Support your fellow authors. Buy their books. Review their books. Share their releases and successes with your followers. I can’t tell you how many opportunities have come my way because of friendships with other authors. It takes a village to build a successful writing career, and your fellow authors are your village.

Cara Bristol

I love to write. A lot of you love to write, I bet. But, as with any love, there are days you hate it. Some days, writing feels like endless toil. There are days when writing acts distant for no apparent reason, because writing can be a passive-aggressive jerk. Writing is the sort of lover who breaks up with you, then slinks in naked while you’re taking a shower, like nothing happened. You’ll stay up all night with writing and regret it when you have to go to work in the morning. There’ll even be times when you’re trying to focus on something else, but writing won’t stop talking to you no matter how politely you ask.

Simply put, writing is an asshole. Writing steals your money and spends it on stupid things, like another gimmicky book on how to write better, and then it acts like it bought that book for both of you. Writing will take you to heaven and back all day long, but the next morning it’ll be gone without even leaving a note.
Because writing is love, and love is hell.

Robyn Bennis

Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.

– John Green

If you are the kind of writer who can write the same thing over and over again and not get bored, then you might be able to develop the kind of brand loyalty that Child is talking about.

I can’t. I don’t want to repeat myself. So even though I know what he did is very smart, it’s not something I can or will replicate. I have to plan my own brand work around that decision.

That said, I am much more interested in building brand loyalty than I am in building customer loyalty. I didn’t have the words for this until I started this series.

I don’t want people to buy my books because they’re discounted or because I keep offering better and better variations of a good deal. I want people to buy my books because they enjoy my books.

Kris Rusch

Impostor Syndrome is real. Flip the script on it. Don’t let it have power over you. Admit you’re an impostor. Then admit that we’re all impostors — none of us belong here because art and story are forbidden, interstitial places. This thing we do is Buccaneer’s Den, it’s Mos Eisley, it’s a secret moon colony. Not a one of us “belongs” here. We all booked illegal passage through blackest night and sharky waters to get here. We’re not one ship, we’re countless life-boats strung together — a glorious flotilla of freaks.

This is who we are. It’s what we do. And what we do is sometimes hard. It’s hard for me. It’s hard for you. It’s hard for Stephen King. It’s hard for J.K. Rowling. King probably thinks that Rowling does it effortlessly, and Rowling probably thinks King sails through every draft, and the truth is, it’s hard for them, for you, for me, for every penmonkey that ever done monkeyed with a pen.

When a story reads effortlessly, it was not written effortlessly. In fact, the more effortlessly it reads, the more effort probably went into making it read effortlessly.

It took work.

Chuck Wendig

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Random Friday


Words of Wisdom, Writers on Writing, whatever you want to call it, here’s the last quotes of the year! 🙂

Write if you’re gonna write.

You’re never too old to write.

And you’re also never too young to start.

But don’t wait. That’s the caution. That’s the danger.

Don’t sit on it. Even if you’re likelier to be more successful later, that later-in-life success is often built on the heaps and mounds of a lot of unsung, unpublished work in your youth. Use that time to build a mountain of glorious failures and fuck-ups. You only get to know what you’re doing by not knowing what you’re doing. You only get to the rarified air of success by climbing that mountain of shit work and fuck-uppery. It’s not a waste of time to write badly. It’s no waste to write in the wrong direction. The path may be circuitous, but the path is still the path. And writing is how you walk it.

The work won’t come to you.

You gotta go do the work.

That’s true whether you’re 16 or you’re 60.

So go do the work and stop worrying about age.

Better yet, don’t compare yourself to others. There’s always somebody out there doing it differently, and doing it better. Always someone younger, older, with more books, more awards, better sales, nicer hair, whatever. What they do isn’t what you do. Who they are isn’t who you are. Their path ain’t your path. Scrap all that worry and write.

Chuck Wendig

As writers, we don’t get a lot of moments like these. Moments where things line up and we get to look back and appreciate what we’ve done, and turn around and look at the future with some optimism. A lot of the day-to-day is loaded with stress, rejection, please-love-me posturing and loneliness. It is not a profession I would suggest to someone who doesn’t take criticism well, that’s for sure. But that’s what makes the good times so meaningful. The times when you realize why you do this, why you sit alone for hours pecking away at your keyboard in the dark, telling a story first for yourself, then for everyone else. We do this stuff because we have to, and I’d probably write books for myself alone if that was the extent of my audience. But it’s nice, hell, it’s essential, to sometimes feel like you’re pushing that boulder up the hill for a reason.

Alex Segura

Now, if we can only get rid of it from the writer side. If we can accept that our assumptions were formed in another century, a century that is stunningly different from ours.

We can write and publish what we want. We aren’t even doing it in the dark.

So, let’s embrace the present and publish our works. Let the future take care of itself, and drop as much of those past assumptions as we possibly can.

And remember—if you find a book that’s spectacular, share the news with someone else. That’s what’ll keep books alive for the next 100 years.

Just like it did 100 years ago.

Kris Rusch

The threat of writers block always looms. It can take a variety of forms from not having an idea to explore, to not feeling like writing, to feeling like you have nothing worthwhile to say. Writer’s block tells us something. Maybe that the story is not ready yet or that the idea is not viable. When I come to a blank page, I spend a lot of time beforehand arming myself. I have research. I have brainstorming notes. I have snippets of dialogue, a rough outline, and description all so that I can avoid any sort of block. My actual writing routine involves preparation the night before: thinking through what I’m going to write, making a plan, mapping out the scenes or chapter. When I’m writing, I might stop mid-paragraph or mid-scene rather than write them to completion so that when I can sit down again, I can slip right back into what I was writing. I may have multiple projects going so that I can switch to another should I get stuck on one. I prepare, prepare, prepare … whatever it takes (whatever works for me) — both in rhythm and habit—to keep putting words on a page. It may not just be writerly angst, but it can be worked around. Your mileage may vary, but give yourself space and time to work your story out.

And be kind to yourself while doing it.

Maurice Broaddus

Now realize I have believed all my work sucks for forty years, yet over 23 million people now have bought my books and more every day around the world. If I took that number in, I would be too “important” to ever write again. But if I believed there was no point because anything I tried would just suck, I would never write again.

So the balance is just creating a space in our own heads. Nothing is important really, but everything should be done the best we can do.

Be a window cleaner. Make the window so clean no one can see the glass and take pride in that and then move on to the next window.

Writing is no different.

We should all take pride in the work, do the best we can, keep learning, and then release and move on.

Dean Wesley Smith

Random Friday


Words of wisdom, writers on writing, writers’ quotes, call them what you like and enjoy them! Have a great weekend!

There exists no one way to write any one thing, and as long as your writing has a starting point and an ending point, I think whatever shenanigans go on in the middle serve you fine as a process as long as it gets you a finished book heavy with at least some small sense of satisfaction. If you’re not finishing your books, you need to re-examine your process. If you’re not at all satisfied with your work, then again: re-examine that process.

And that’s it.

Everything else is just picking out drapes.

Chuck Wendig

A few weeks ago, I told some writer friends that I’d rather have 1,000 true fans on my mailing list than 50,000 people who signed up because maybe they might get a free book from some contest.

I really value the fans, and the readers. They like my work, they support it. They keep me honest, and they think of things I never would have. They write email, and most importantly of all—

They give up their time and their hard-earned dollars to wander around in my imagination for a few hours.

What greater honor is that? I’m very grateful for each and every one of them. I know how precious reading time can be, and I’m so pleased that they choose to spend some of their time with my work.

Kris Rusch

Being a bestselling author is like being an Olympic medalist or an Oscar winner. After the first time, you are ALWAYS a NYT or USA Today bestseller, whether you make it once in a lifetime or a 100 times. So I’m taking my letters and going home. No more chasing the lists. No more gaming the system. No more losing my mind trying to get the highest possible spot on lists that readers legitimately do not care about. Most of them wouldn’t know where to find the lists online or in the papers. Chasing lists becomes an ego thing. It does not matter to readers. At all.

So I’m putting my ego in a box and sticking it on the shelf. I’m putting my readers first, which is what I should’ve done all along. If they want books on Fridays, I’ll give them books on Fridays. If they want release week contests that last two weeks rather than five days, I’ll give them that, too. After all, they’re the ones who keep me in business, and they need to be more important than my damned author ego or need for validation, which I can get every time I look at my sales dashboard or reader reviews.

Marie Force

Piracy doesn’t harm authors. I have written ample posts about this topic.

Hiring companies to police the Internet, looking for evidence of copyright infringement and sending out DCMA notices, does hurt authors. Lexi had an Amazon link to her website, that even seven years later still gets traffic. Now her link is gone. That can’t be helpful for an author. And I can guess I’m not the only blogger who is getting notices like this. How many writers, thinking they’re combating piracy, are actually limiting their own reach?

Probably a lot. So I’ll say it again:

It’s a waste of time, and money, and also potentially career-damaging, to fight piracy. I say this as someone who has been pirated a lot for over a decade. People pirate me. And I don’t care. And there is absolutely no verifiable evidence that ebook piracy harms authors.

If you’re concerned about piracy, make sure your ebooks and audio are easily available and affordable.

But, as I said, you shouldn’t be concerned. People are going to share files. It’s part of the human condition. Anti-piracy laws are about as successful as anti-drug laws.

The enemy is obscurity, not people reading your work for free.

Joe Konrath

Breaking news: writing is hard. It’s loaded with insecurity, rejection and silence. There are less painful, more lucrative careers that probably require less work. But, at the end of the day, those of us that stick it out and choose to peck at our keyboards daily do it because we love it. Because we’re passionate about the stories we want to tell.

But before I get too close to the Bummertown city limits, let me also say that writing creates some amazing moments. Moments where you think back and say, ‘Damn, I will never forget that.’ Like the first time you get to hold a printed copy of your book, or the first time you signed a copy for a fan or when you found out a teacher that inspired you as a kid is actually a fan of your work. That kind of stuff is rare, and spread out. But it matters. And it feels pretty good.

Alex Segura

Writer Wednesday


Since I’m still traveling, I’m postponing the actual Writer Wednesday with a summary of this Business Masterclass. But I’m not leaving you high and dry! Here are some writers on writing/words of wisdom/writers’ quotes to keep you company until I come back! Have a great week!

Right now you are best writer you can be at this point in time.

Believe that, keep practicing and sending your work out, keep learning everything you can learn.

Understand that the more you write, the more you learn, the better you will become.

But right now you are the best writer you can be.

And that will be better than the writer you were a year ago, if you are doing things right and writing and learning.

And it won’t be as good as you will be in a year if you keep learning and practicing.

Imagine how much more you will know and how much better a storyteller you will be in forty years…

Dean Wesley Smith

Should A Writer Get An English Degree, Yes Or No?

This is apparently a question, so I will attempt to address it.

I have no idea what you should or should not do. Every writer tends to carve their own writer-shaped door into the industry, and then they seal it shut behind them, Cask-of-Amontillado-style. (I can make that Poe joke because I was an English major. I have a license for such literary shenanigans; if you are caught making such a pun without the proper degree, you will be hunted.) There exists no One True Way to become a writer except, you know, go read stuff, live a life, and write things down.

Keep reading stuff, living your life, and writing things down until you get sorta okay at it, and then later until you maybe get sorta good at it, and hey, ta-da, you’re probably a writer. Maybe even a professional one of some level of success from MEAGER TRILOBYTE to MIDLIST INKSLINGER to GRAND CONQUERING PENMONKEY OF THE REALM.

There, the end, go do it.

Chuck Wendig

Now, all that said, it takes more than writing to market to get a book that makes money and has oodles of readers. It takes more than writing to a niche to get that smaller but fanatically loyal fan-base. You also may write that cannibal comedy so well that it gets attention from readers across the board and starts the next big trend. You can’t predict how your book will do once it’s published.

You have to start by writing a great book of whatever genre you pick. You then have to either put the work in to get an agent or publisher, or publish it yourself and be willing to do your own promotion and marketing. Your writing has to be what sets you apart, the rest are no more than paths your writing takes to get to your goal. It’s a smart writer that spends some time considering which path they want to take.

That doesn’t make you untrue to your art. It makes you an artist who has a goal for their art and makes a plan for how to get there. There is nothing wrong with art for art’s sake, but if you want people to buy your art, then you need to have a plan.

Julianne Johnson

Be yourself.  Write to your standards, your taste.  The road will be lonely, because you’re the only one on it.
Know that when you put a book out, there may be elements beyond your control that bring it down.  You can control the quality, but you can’t control much more.

David Farland

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

Douglas Adams

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Maya Angelou(I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.

J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye)

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! She was one of my first editors and read all the Books of the Immortals, then we parted ways and lost track of each other, so I’m very proud to have her on my blog again after so many years! Because guess what? Yes, she has a new book out! And it’s not fiction for a change! 🙂 Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Shonell Bacon!

Where do you live and write from?

I’ve been in Lake Charles, LA, since 2001, but was born and raised in Baltimore. Where I write … well, pretty much anywhere. Usually, I am in my “home office,” a space I carved out of our bar room area. But with my phone and tablet and dictation, I “write” while in traffic, at the café, the park. If I have a digital device and my voice, I can write anywhere.

Why do you write?

Because of WORDS. I love them. I love the shapes of letters in words, how words sound in my mouth as they come out, how we can use them to create elaborate stories that touch readers in a myriad of ways.

When did you start writing?

I was about six. My mom had bought me a diary for a quarter at a flea market, and almost immediately, I began writing sports articles for my beloved Baltimore Orioles and for my favorite soap opera at the time, The Guiding Light.

What genre(s) do you write?

Mystery, rom-com, inspirational, non-fiction (on the writing craft)

What does your writing routine consist of?

Most writing routines for me consist of lots of COFFEE and usually some form of meditation, even if it’s a five-minute song to think on and listen to or an actual meditation session on one of my apps. Sometimes, I light a candle to fragrance my space, and then I say a prayer and reread previous writing to get me back in the writing headspace.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t let fear stop you from writing.

Please do ramble about your latest project – what it’s about, how you came up with the idea, anything, really. We want to know about it!

Make Your Writing Bloom is my first project on writing. I always knew at some point I would venture into short books on writing. I’ve been writing articles on writing for over 15 years for various websites. As an educator, and especially someone who has the spiritual gift of “teaching,” helping others do something better is an integral part of who I am. I’ve been an editor for over 18 years, and the biggest joy of editing is seeing writers grow from one project to the next one. I continue that teaching into what I hope will be the first of many projects on the writing craft. Make Your Writing Bloom is the “love” project from me to writers who feel stuck in their writing and who want to get unstuck. From rediscovering their love of writing and favorite writing experiences to understanding why fear and busy lives can kill writing, readers will be taken on a journey that will, hopefully, get them back into their writing mojo.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Currently, I am working on the Make Your Writing Bloom online class; outlining my second project on the writing craft, 8 Questions for Writers; and playing around with the storylines for my next mystery, FOLLOW, the final book of my Double Inkwell Mysteries series. 

Please add your social media links

Web Page: http://chicklitgurrl.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shonbacon

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chicklitgurrl

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chicklitgurrl/

Random Friday


And from the Sci-fi July Redux bundle, here’s a brand new author (new to this blog, I mean! 😉 ) who shows how this is an international, no, intercontinental! job! I haven’t met him yet, but hope to do so shortly… We even have a cover artist in common, Mighty Marvelous Maurizio Manzieri! And he’s probably even more prolific than me… 😀 Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Sean Monahan!

Where do you live and write from?

After living around the world, I’ve settled back in my old hometown in rural New Zealand. It’s oddly comfortable. I still have itchy feet always, but I’ve been able to set up to write while on the road, even when traveling light (as in carry-on only). Last year I wrote a fantasy novel using a tiny bluetooth keyboard and a cellphone, while traveling through South America.

Why do you write?
I get the feeling that it’s ingrained. It seems as much a part of me as breathing. Some comes from loving stories, and some comes from my school days, when I had poor handwriting (still do). I got into trouble for my bad, unreadable writing and for making little effort. I’m sure that there’s an eight-year-old inside me out to prove something: “I’ll show you! I’ll be a writer!”

What genre(s) do you write?

Science fiction, thrillers and the occasional fantasy. My fantasies are usually without magic, just fantastical worlds. My science fiction can be very fluid with the science (my dream is to write and a story to Analog, where the science has to be absolutely based on fact). I also write some literary fiction, which is fun to come at with my pulp-writer methods – exciting too, to have those stories published by recognized magazines.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

I would like to do this for my living. Right now I’m slowly getting there, and it’s a real balance of getting better as a writer, and learning the business skills required to get my stories into the hands of readers. I think I’m a fair writer, but a fairly lousy salesperson. I am taking some business and sales courses, I’m slowly updating my back catalogue with better covers and blurbs, and I’m experimenting with advertising. Being in bundles is great too – a nice way to promote my books to readers who might not normally see me. Easy and low-risk for the readers too.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Butt in the chair.

Outliner or improvisor? Fast or slow writer?

Absolutely seat-of-the-pants. I start out with a character in a setting and give them a problem and see how they get out of it. Sometimes I might have some ideas about settings or problems I’d like to play with, but that’s about all. I love letting my eight-year-old’s creative side just go play. I think I write moderately fast – about a half a million words a year for the last seven years. It works out about fifteen hundred words a day. I know writers who write maybe a tenth of that, and others who write three or four times what I manage.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle.

When I set out writing Raven Rising I thought it was going to be a short story, maybe five or six thousand words. But it kept going. Things got worse for everyone in the story. My characters kept trying to sort things out, but set backs cropped up more and more. It ended up as a short novel – about my shortest so far, but it was fun to write and, I hope it’s entertaining to read.

Tell us about your latest book.

Tombs Under Vaile – just came out, and it’s the sixth novel in my “Karnish River Navigations” sci-fi series. Private investigator Flis Kupe left the military to settle back on her home world. Her damaged permanent military implant gives her touble, but sometimes helps out. In this novel, a prison escape forces Flis to make some unlikely allegiances to help capture a psychopath.
Available from various retailers through this link.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Always! I have a new novel in my “Captain Arlon Stoddard” series completed so it just needs copyediting and promotional material. I hope to have that out before the end of the year. I’m writing a middle-grade sci-fi novel at the moment, which I’ll probably finish up in the next week or so. Then I might write a couple of short stories before jumping into another novel – maybe a thriller, maybe a fantasy. That’s part of the fun of being a “pantser” – just figuring out what I’m writing once I start writing it.

Cover Art Maurizio Manzieri

I also have a new story set in my Shilinka Switalla universe, “Ventiforms”, coming out in the January/February issue of Asimov’s. This is in the same universe as my story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” which won the Asimov’s Readers’ Poll, and the Sir Julius Vogel Award for best science fiction story 2017.

Thanks for the interview.

___________________

Find Sean online: www.seanmonaghan.com

Random Friday


Words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever you want to call it, enjoy these writers’ quotes and have a great weekend! 🙂

Do not make escaping your day job a goal for your writing.

I hear this all the time, but the pressure is too much on the writing because the day job, the “real job,” is what makes everything tick.

But don’t worry, if you keep the writing fun, keep your family supporting you, keep learning, eventually the money from the business side will overwhelm the day job money. And by then you will have gotten help to deal with it all mentally, right?
Just don’t make the writing so important, so special, that it threatens the “real job.” If it does, you will grind to a halt fairly quickly because how we were all raised doesn’t allow threats to what pays the bills.

Dean Wesley Smith

 

You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.

– Octavia E. Butler

 

I think it’s fairly common for writers to be afflicted with two simultaneous yet contradictory delusions – the burning certainty that we’re unique geniuses and the constant fear that we’re witless frauds who are speeding toward epic failure.

– Scott Lynch

 

So, what am I telling you, exactly? Am I telling you not to seek help?
No, of course not.
But I am telling you to trust yourself and your instincts as a writer. Your voice is what makes you who you are.
Sometimes your voice isn’t suited to a particular subgenre of fiction. That’s okay. Genres and subgenres are >marketing categories, nothing more.
Write what you love, and you’ll always do better.
You do need to learn your craft. You need to learn the rules of grammar before you can break them. The same with the rules of storytelling—whatever your culture. (Not every culture appreciates the same storytelling rhythms. Accept that, too.)
You need to keep learning and growing and improving—which is precisely the instinct that caught both of these stupendous indie writers. Because in continuing to learn, they forgot that they already have mastered a certain level of craft.
They also both asked the wrong questions.
Kris Rusch

 

Don’t screw around with history. The study of history isn’t just an exercise in saying where we came from – it is an examination of who we are now. We all of us will see the past through the lens of the present, and if you decide that your past is a shiny one in which busty maidens loved to flirt with sword-wielding kings of justice while happy peasants enjoyed a humble life of shovelling cow-dung, then your world is… in need of a bit of a kick in the nethers, pardon my saying so. Because if you cannot see the past, and cannot see that the act of seeing expresses something about yourself, then you will never know your present.
Screw around with history! I know you put a lot of effort in finding out exactly what kind of throne Suleyman the Magnificent sat upon while holding his divan… however if it doesn’t have a bomb hidden under it, or the secret of eternal youth hand-stitched into the upholstery, it is dull. Atmosphere is not the same as pastsplaining. You’re here to create fun stories full of sound, colour and soul. History is full of stories that can be the starting point for something else – and if it teaches us to see ourselves differently, then permit yourself to see it through the prism of wonder and imagination too.’

Claire North, “Hurrem and the Djinn”

Random Friday


One more author of the Sci-Fi Stories Space Opera Mashup (Ebook universal link and paperback)! I haven’t had the chance to meet him (yet) but I was impressed by his story, “Funeral Sails” – you should read it too! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Scott T. Barnes!

1. What is it about space opera that draws you to it?

I love epic stories and faraway places, what David Farland calls “Wonder Literature.” Space Opera has the wonder, adventure, and romance of fantasy, with the tantalizing possibility that some of it might actually happen.

2. What is your story in the anthology about?

“Funeral Sails” starts out as a simple revenge story but becomes a much more complicated story once the lead character realizes she has something worth living for. What I really enjoyed was creating a rich culture of tradition and honor that human, off-world salvagers had adopted from an alien culture as their own. It gives purpose and meaning to their often lonely lives, but also creates wonderful complications an author can explore.

3. What inspired your story?

Reading about solar sails and satellites in geostationary orbit somehow got me to thinking about cemetery monuments, and I thought, Why not combine the two ideas?

4. Do you always write about starships? If not, what do you write about?

Most of the time I write fantasy. I don’t read enough science to work in the field of “hard” science fiction. But if a futuristic setting comes to me in my musings I won’t hesitate to write a character-drives sf story. With “Funeral Sails,” I started by doing a lot of research on solar sails, then basically kept that in the back of my mind as I was writing. Or maybe I threw it out and just went for character and action. I’m not sure.

5. What should readers know about you?

I write fantasy and science fiction short stories, with novels in the works. My writing is as eclectic as my reading tastes. Besides “Funeral Sails,” recent publications include a humorous zombie tale from the Zombie POV called “Zombie Nation”, a fantasy thriller “The Mark of Blackfriar Street,” and a western horror tale “The China Queen.”

6. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Besides writing I practice kenjutsu, so don’t break into my house at night! My website is www.scotttbarnes.com

Native to Southern California, Scott T. Barnes grew up on a farm, lived, studied and worked in multiple countries, and now resides in Orange County, Calif. as a proud husband and father of two girls. He studies samurai arts (Nami Ryu Aiki Kenjutsu) with James Williams and Russian Systema with Joseph Stoltman. In both the fantasy and science fiction genres, Scott’s short fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Pulse Pounders: Adrenaline, Gaia, Shadow and Breath volume 3, Shambles (fiction bundle), and many others. His science fiction story “Insect Sculptor” won the Writers of the Future award. He also edits the magazine NewMyths. You can find him at work in independent coffee houses all over the southland, or on the internet at www.scotttbarnes.com.

Sunday Surprise


Words of wisdom, writers on writing, call it what you want! Here’s a break from Sci-fi July with lovely advice from wonderful authors.

I pretty much considered myself a failure by everything I had been raised. A successful person would be working a “real” job, raising a family, saving for retirement. A successful person didn’t work as little as possible to give myself more time to type made-up-stuff on a typewriter.

The concept of being a fiction writer was so alien to how I was brought up that I didn’t even realize until I was almost thirty that real humans wrote all the novels I read.  Yet I loved the challenge of telling stories.

And I think I loved more than anything that making up stories wasn’t a “real job” that people would accept. My estranged mother, right up until the day she died, thought I had wasted my life.

Wasted my potential” as she used to say.

And by the time she died I was a major bestseller. Didn’t matter. To her way of thinking, the real job way of thinking, I didn’t really work.

I didn’t get a paycheck, cash it, try to make it stretch until the next paycheck. Therefore I was a failure. Period.

The very real fear of not having a real job if you were raised in that kind of thinking is almost impossible to break. To this day I honestly don’t know how I escaped it. And I haven’t escaped it completely.

Dean Wesley Smith

I’d like to offer for your approval the highly unfashionable idea that good storytelling trumps everything else. Writers whose characters are made of purest silly putty and who can’t parse a simple English sentence regularly end up on the bestseller list because they know how to tell a story and keep readers turning pages.

There seems to be a school of thought that lovely writing is all that literature is about. I love to bask in beautiful writing, but I much prefer writing to be in aid of something, which is to say a good story. Likewise, I fully appreciate well-drawn characters, but well-drawn characters with nothing to do but gaze at the wall and soliloquize to themselves are pretty darn dull.

– Walter Jon Williams

I’m also confused by the fact that such a large part of recently written science fiction is very pessimistic. It worries me particularly that in SF aimed at children and young adults, dystopias have become the popular and most frequently published subgenre. I myself am naive enough to believe that we would feel better if we could read about a future that is worth living in. I’m also naive enough to believe that we currently have all the information we need to create such a future. Why, then, do so few science fiction writers nowadays describe this kind of alternative? This remains a mystery to me but it would be nice if more writers were to even give it a try.

– John-Henri Holmberg.

Remember This: Human Beings Learn Best Through Storytelling

We live inside stories. We learn empathy from stories. We gain other points of view and other ways of thinking from stories.Stories open new worlds. Stories create community.

Stories have great value—not just as entertainment, but from one human being to another.

Your readers might love your characters, characters those readers would hate in real life, and those characters might make it easier for your readers to understand their corner of the world.

Finally: Value Your Art

Kris Rusch

Hope is your beacon of light during the darkest of times as the tiniest sliver of light shines brightest just before the dawn. The best advice I can give to you for the difficult days ahead is to find the things and people they give you hope. Follow them. Support them. Do what you can to ensure the things that give you hope can continue.

Do not go gently into that good night. Fight. Hold on to your hopes and dreams for the future. Art harder. Live bolder. Become the best and strongest version of yourself that you possibly can. Take care of yourself and your fellow humans.

Love with all of your might, but whatever you do, never give in, never lose hope.
Steven Spohn

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! And since we’re moving into the month of sci-fi, he’s a sci-fi writer! We met at a few Worldcons through the years as well as book fairs in Italy. He’s a great guy, great writer and great publisher! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Francesco Verso!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in Rome (Italy) since most of my time.

Why do you write?

I believe in the power of Science Fiction to shed some light on the future of mankind. I am convinced that literature can help to better understand the psychological and socials mechanics of the world we live in and, in particular, now that technology is playing an ever important role in our lives and relationship we can’t avoid its impact on our reality. Thus, my stories imagine what would be the short and long term consequences of our symbiosis with different kind of technologies ranging from prosthetics, to artificial intelligences, from 3D printed replaceable organs to DNA modifications and nanotech developments. All these anatomical augmentations will have a deep reflection on our identity and thus on our ethics and morals, both on an individual and social scale.

I feel there’s an urgency to update our dramaturgy to the technically accelerated times we live in, something that the mainstream genre is also starting to acknowledge, thanks to the popularity of TV Series like “Black Mirror”, “Westworld”, “Humans”, “Mr. Robot”, “Electric Dreams”.

When did you start writing?

During my University years, I’ve studied one year in Amsterdam for an Erasmus project and there – along the canals – I’ve found a little second hand shop run by an American guy who had opened a bookstore there specialized in SF. Down in the cellar he kept hundreds of SF classics, like Frank Herbert’s “Dune”, Ian McDonal’s “Desolation Road”, William Gibson’s “Neuromancer”, Ursula Le Guin “The Left Hand of Darkness”. I started from there, with the crazy ambition of imitating the writers that I now consider my teachers and sources of inspiration.

What genre(s) do you write?

I write Science Fiction, which means I set my stories in the near future and mostly on Earth. I can’t really write about other worlds as I believe there’s enough “alien realities” and “otherness” here on our planet, just around the corner of wherever we live, to light up any sense of wonder and walk into an “uncanny valley”. Lately I am interested in exploring the solarpunk and human augmentation subgenres – say sustainable energies and posthuman issues driven by technologies like CRISPR-Cas9 – as tools to analyze the biopolitical scenarios we’re heading to in the next years.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I used to have a routine of writing very early in the morning (from 6 to 8am). I’ve managed to write 4 novels and 7 short stories in this way, over the course of 6 years. But since I’ve opened a small press called Future Fiction dedicated to scouting, translating and publishing the best SF authors from every corner of the world, I have changed my schedule. Now I try to concentrate the first draft of my writings during some weeks where I focus all day long and then edit the material whenever I can find some spare time during the year. I became a full time writer 10 years ago, so I have plenty of time, but I need to organize it in a very efficient way, since Future Fiction is taking a lot of my time in reading other people’s stories, going to Book Fairs and SF Cons around the world. Lately I’ve turned also into a public speaker so the time for writing is getting smaller and smaller but more intense.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

Good question and not easy to answer. Let’s say I like to build an interesting plot. My stories are always driven by the actions and desires of the main characters because I think readers should always identify themselves with the themes at stake. Also I am a very curious researcher and careful editor, that means I work a lot on new, breakthrough ideas, or at least on innovative ways to retelling them as not to leave the feeling of “being there, done that”. For me, fiction is the best way to discover new realities through the eyes of someone who can make me believe he/she has been there.

Over the years, I’ve developed a great attention to “meaningful details” and to master the themes of the stories I write about. I need to know a lot more than what appears on paper (the famous “iceberg” approach) and not just in the first draft but also during the revision, which takes much more time and dedication than the first draft (approx. 3-4 times more). My latest novel – the Walkers – went through 9 different revisions and at least three editors looked at the story before I could consider it ready to be published.

So I’ve learned to wait, to have a discipline, not to rush to the end, and then to appreciate the process more than the finish. Maturity taught me that a writer’s biggest enemy is not sold book or selling charts but time; I write to win its favor.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I’m an outliner. I like to know where I am going and also where I am taking the readers. During the plotting, I sketch the course of actions and relationships between the main characters. Then of course I allow myself the freedom to wander around and take different directions if they are in line with the general path. I limit the improvisation to the writing phase, also because I believe in the value of content density, meaning that writing should embody the highest level of meaning in the shortest amount of words. To achieve this goal, I write brief summaries of every chapter as they – at least for me – should respect a sort of “opening-apex-hook” dramatic structure.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

There isn’t a specific goal: writing is already a kind of reward for me and the feeling that I am contributing with novels and short stories to a wider discussion (the future of mankind, the ever changing relationship between man and machine, the development of biopolitics) is a stimulating challenge for my mind. I enjoy the moment when a new idea crosses my thoughts, the very moment when a piece of dramatic information has the potential of turning into a full story, the craft of an interesting scenario that comes alive in front of your own eyes. In a way, it’s like playing God with possible futures, exploring the good and bad of mankind behavior… and that’s not a small thing for me. And then, most of all, when I go to SF Cons and Book Fairs around the world and I can share all these experiences and discussions with other fellow writers and readers, that’s when I truly feel happy and satisfied. It’s a difficult job in terms of money (small payments, no insurance about the future, no idea if your next book will be good as a previous one) with lots of personal disappointments, emotional failings and hard time but it’s also the only job I wouldn’t change with anything else.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

An editor once told me: “Furnish your plot, not your character’s thoughts,” meaning that actions should emerge from the character’s behaviour and not from his/her mumbling and concerns. Readers are best engaged by other people’s actions and reactions more than their thoughts and internal monologues. That doesn’t mean characters should be flat and simply driven by hectic actions like in a thriller movie, but that – on the contrary – all inside feelings and emotions should rise to the surface of behaviour during the course of events and physical actions. In other words, it simply means putting real life into fiction and not consider fiction as a literary world outside the real one. I’ve learned maybe a very simple thing: that fiction imitates life and life imitates fiction. That’s what makes Science Fiction plausible and move the readers mind in a wonderful direction: a story that keeps doing its job even when the book is over since a long time. The persistence of a book is the best measure of its quality.

I hear your novel “Nexhuman” has been translated from Italian into English and published by Apex books. Care to elaborate on that?

It took around 8 years to write the book, publish it on Delos Books in Italy, then have it translated in English and publish it in Australia with Xoum and then finally to arrive on the US market thanks to Jason Sizemore who liked it so much he decided to have a US edition of Nexhuman.

So I am very happy to see an Italian SF book published by an established and highly valued SF publishing house like Apex since a very long time. The US market is almost impossible to enter if you don’t write in English, which means the costs of translation are often on the shoulders of writers or the publishing house that decides to invest in it (except maybe for mainstream and literary books that have a slightly better treatment thanks to funds and grants). So paradoxically, in SF, where there should be more openness and desire to overcome boundaries and limitations than any other genre, we see a totally different picture: it’s been formally addressed as the “3% Problem”, meaning that only 3% of what is published in the US market comes from Non-English speaking countries and in that 3% are included all the languages of the World!

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’ve just published in Italian on Future Fiction the first book of my latest novel called “The Walkers” which is made of two stories: “The Pulldogs” and “No/Mad/Land”. The first book has been already translated in English by Jennifer Delare and I hope to find a publisher for it outside of Italy.

Then on the editing side, I’ve worked with Bill Campbell, editor of Rosarium Publishing to publish an anthology called “Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International SF”, where we’ve selected stories from the best SF authors from the world coming also from Non-English speaking countries. And the same thing I’ve done China with Guangzhou Blue Ocean Press selecting SF stories for high-schools and universities students.

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Find Francesco online:

Web Page: www.futurefiction.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/francesco.verso.31

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Francesco_Verso

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4817872.Francesco_Verso

Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Francesco-Verso/e/B005BOQNRY

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