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”

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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.

_____________________________________

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

Random Friday


Since I don’t have anything new to report, here you go with words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever you want to call them! Have a great weekend! 🙂

The formula for long-term success is easy.

1… Write what you love, what entertains you.

2… Learn continuously about the craft of telling stories.

3… Learn continuously about the business of publishing.

4… Learn continuously about how to handle a business and money.

5… Write more stories and novels than anyone else.

You want to study how I went from stalled to making lots of money with my writing?

Just buy all 36 issues of Smith’s Monthly and study them. 36 novels, 160 plus short stories, tons of articles and non-fiction, serial novels, and so on. And realize I laid out the first thirty of those issues out, from cover to interior to ads. Yes, I did the work on them as well until just last spring.

Write that much in three years, keep learning, and find innovative ways to get your stories to readers and you will be surprised how much money you can make.

But you can’t do that writing to market. At least not for long.

Only writing for love will allow you to maintain that pace and have fun at the same time.

So now I have, as Heinlein said, “Given away the secret.” Now anyone can do it.

Anyone can, actually.

Have fun.

Dean Wesley Smith

If we add up the sheer volume of TIME involved in the old way, why are we griping that we have been self-published three years and aren’t yet J.K. Rowling?

I have mentioned the problems with Millennial Authors (these are writers who have “come of age” during the digital revolution and they could be 22 or 67). I know the “old way” wasn’t better, but it does lead me to believe that writers of the “old days” have better tenacity because they didn’t enter the profession in the Age of Instant.

Yes, our first book might only sell a handful of copies. But guess what? In the “old days” odds were we would only sell a small number of copies as well (refer to statistics above). But, unlike the “old days” we can keep writing more books. We can keep at it until something sticks or until we decide to move on.
Kristen Lamb

2017 is going to be fascinating because the world economic situation is in flux, just like our industry is in flux. What we do know is this: People read books in good times, and people read books in bad times. We just have to figure out how to get people to read our books.

How do we do that?

First, we write the best damn stories we can. That’s why people read. They want to escape (or get information and escape, in the case of nonfiction).

Second, we produce the best product we can, in as many formats as we can manage, so that our readers have choice.

Third, we let our readers know that a book is available. Note that Open Road succeeded by putting backlist books on bestseller lists. Five years ago, traditional publishers said such things were impossible.

Fourth, we plan for the good and the bad. Readers want us to keep writing. They want their favorite authors to publish as many books as possible as fast as possible. Readers also know that we’re not machines, so they move to other writers while they wait for us. But readers will wait.

So if you’re having a rough year, figure out what it will take to survive that rough year. Then return. And as you plan for your future after that rough year, plan for the good and the bad. Try to be debt free. Try not to overpromise. Start learning your business and grow, slowly, so that you can be around ten years from now.
Kris Rusch

To me sketching is like taking notes of thoughts. You practice and practice to build up that sense of shape, form and beauty, but not to just do beautiful drawings or paintings. I think too many artists are obsessed with doing a perfect drawing every time. It is not about doing a nice drawing every time, it is about being able to do a nice drawing when you need it. That is why you practice, that is why I doodle.
– Claire Wendling (Barb’s note: this applies to writing as well… just sayin’!)

(…) there are so many layers of competency you have to take on in writing science fiction and fantasy. When your writing concerns only reality, there are things you don’t need to question. Writing science fiction and fantasy means you need to question whether there’s even a sun. And then question what direction that sun comes up in and what color it is.
– Nalo Hopkinson

Sunday Surprise


Words of wisdoms, writers on writing, you name it! Enjoy these writers’ quotes and happy Sunday! 🙂

However, artistic freedom sometimes comes with a price. And that price is sometimes too steep for many writers to pay. Low sales, bad reviews, and so on.
Artistic freedom takes courage to write what you actually want to write, not just what you think you “should” be writing to keep the money flowing or what your workshop tells you to write or some editor or agent tells you to write.
Courage to hold onto your own artistic freedom is sometimes difficult and certainly not an easy task.
But the artistic freedom this new world of publishing gives you should be cherished. I know, I worked thirty years without it and now that I actually understand how lucky I am, I’m going to defend it even more
I love the freedom to make my own choices in publishing, right or wrong.
I love the freedom to write what I love to write, what I want to write. Period.
And once again, I will say it simply: I love this new world.
Dean Wesley Smith

There is a saying among writers: “When you write a book, the first words of the novel will sell that novel, but the last words in the novel will sell the next.” In other words, a powerful novel will make your reputation, will cause people to remember your name, so that with future books, the fans will simply pick them up without thinking. They might not need to know the title or check the reviews on your next novel. They’re fans for life.
David Farland

Because ELIXIR was my first book, I didn’t write it under a deadline. I could take my sweet time to work on the story, waste hundreds of pages on tangent plot lines that went nowhere, stop and start as inspiration ebbed and flowed, and revise indefinitely. All told, I spent almost seven years on that first book. And then the publishing gods smiled on me and I found myself with a two-book contract which allowed me a little over seven months to write the follow-up, UNVEILED. Given my writing history, this task sounded almost impossibly daunting. What I realized, however, as I successfully completed the manuscript well within the deadline, is that tasks expand or contract to fill the time available. I took seven years to write ELIXIR because I could. I wrote UNVEILED in seven months because I had to. More time does not necessarily make for a better book, either. When there was all the time in the world, that time was most often unproductively frittered, whereas the deadline had a way of sharpening my focus, making me more attentive. And attention begets inspiration.
Ruth Vincent

Inspiration comes and goes, creativity is the result of practice.
– Phil Cousineau

What I know is this:
We’re writers, and writers write.
And so, this year’s authorial resolution is far humbler, far smaller –
Write, despite.
What I mean is, no matter what happens, keep writing. No matter how exciting or terrifying the news becomes, write anyway. Force the time. Look away. Focus up. Eyes on your paper. Demand of yourself the creation of stories. Carve out the mental and emotional territory, and the temporal and physical landscape, in order to keep doing what you’re doing. In times like this, the distractions are endless. It’s easy to stop. It’s all too simple to feel overwhelmed by what’s going on and to stare at the Eye of Mordor as it fixes its gaze upon you. And yet, no matter what, you gotta do the thing. You gotta tell the stories. You gotta write it all down.
Write, despite. Or if you’re so inclined, write in spite of everything.
Your art does not need to be rebellious for you to rebel against everything. Just making art is an act outside the natural order. It is already a contravention of the status quo. And it’ll only get moreso in the coming year(s). Write despite. You needn’t aim any higher than that. You can. But the best thing you can do is to give yourself that mandate:
Write no matter what, write anyway, write always.
Have a great 2017. Carve your words into its hide. Tell the monster your tales.
Chuck Wendig

Sunday Surprise


And it’s a guest! From my latest curated bundle, Thieves… She is even out there this weekend, if you are at the Wild Wild West Steam Fest in Santa Ana, go and greet her! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Michelle E. Lowe!

Where do you live and write from?>
Southern California.

Why do you write?
Why does someone want to be a cop, or actor, or engineer? It’s installed in us at birth. I believe that we’re meant to do these things, even if we don’t realize it right away. I love stories, and I love telling stories. Creating worlds, characters, and plotlines out of thin air is a magical thing which is fascinating that people (especially someone like me) can do it.

When did you start writing?
I’ve written small stuff throughout my life. Short stories, poems, things like that. When I was nineteen and in college for graphic design, I was alone, grieving in my dorm room. I’d just lost my older brother in a motorcycle accident. To occupy my mind, I decided to write out this story that had been playing around inside my head for a while, and once I started, I couldn’t stop! I swear, it happened in a snap. As hokey as it sounds, in a split second I’d found my calling. I like to think my brother was telling me something.

What genre(s) do you write?
Fiction mostly. I wrote one nonfiction book about the life story of the infamous highwayman, Claude du Vall, but the rest are all fiction. Steampunk/fantasy, science fiction, a few children’s books, even a thriller.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
I’ve been writing for the better part of twenty years now and would like to make it my full-time profession. Doing what you love and making an actual living at it IS the dream, right? To do so is to promote and to reach out to readers so to build a fan base. I’ve attended events like Gaslight Steampunk Expo and Gaslight Gathering in San Diego, WonderCon, and this weekend, I’ll be at the Wild Wild West Steam Fest in Santa Ana, signing books. I love doing these shows because I get to meet people and chat with them, which is always a treat for me. I also make connections, which is critical for any business.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
I’m not sure if this qualifies as advice and it wasn’t said to me personally, but there’s this lovely quote by Toni Morrison, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”I like this quote a lot because if an author writes what they want to read, the story will be more enriched by the care and devotion the writer is willing to put into it.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
Having an outline is a must for me. I don’t like diving into a story with no compass. Having said that, I don’t restrict my story to any framework. Most of the time, I end up writing a completely different story outside of the outline. Planning out a story beforehand simply helps me push forward faster and allows me to document little details I might later forget. Outlines aren’t barbwire fences that demand to be followed, but a guide assisting you on your way.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle
Legacy (vol.1) is my steampunk/fantasy story. It’s the first of a six-part series, (which are all written, the last four only need to be edited.) The premise is that an evil man named Tarquin Norwich is searching for a toymaker, Indigo Peachtree, and the only way to do so is to force two outlaw brothers, Joaquin and Pierce Landcross, in helping to find him. Tarquin sends his children, Archie and Clover across the English Channel to snare Pierce in France, while Tarquin and his oldest son, Ivor, go after Joaquin in the north. Nothing goes as planned, however, and the story becomes a cat-and-mouse scenario of who can find who and what first. Here is a link to a short video about Legacy which includes excerpts of the book itself. 😊

(buy the book on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords or get it in the bundle Thieves)

Tell us about your latest book
I just released the second installment of Legacy, titled Legacy-The Reunion. It basically picks up where the first book leaves off, but with a completely different storyline. In this story, Pierce Landcross discovers that his long-lost parents are imprisoned in Newgate Prison and goes in to rescue them. He soon finds out that there has been an inheritance left to the family and when Pierce goes to the lawyer to collect it, he discovers that in order to claim the fortune, he must first follow a series of clue throughout the Netherlands to its location. Pierce is also accompanied by a beautiful and clever young woman, Taisia Kuzentsov, and together they seek out the loot. Their quest isn’t without risk. A dangerous bounty hunter who has his eye on the inheritance and on the price on Landcross’s head, is tailing them, waiting for the right time to act.

(buy the books on Amazon and Barnes&Noble)

Any other projects in the pipeline?
I’ve just started on the next series, The Age of the Machine, which I have set up as being four books total. This series will be more steampunk than fantasy like Legacy is, and hopefully just as much fun to write!

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Find Michelle online

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Random Friday


Words of wisdom, writers on writing, total randomness but I don’t have anything to say. So I shall let others speak for me – they’re so much better at it! Have a great weekend!

It’s really hard to understand people who are wired differently. I’m never really going to understand people who think going to clubs and getting drunk with friends is fun, and they’re never going to understand why I think staying home on a Friday night and working on my art is fun. I don’t believe everyone who doesn’t have drive is just out partying all the time, but we all have different things we do. Some people watch a lot of television. Some people like to shop. Some people go to concerts. Or roller skate. Or play basketball. If I played a lot of basketball on weekends would that be a problem?
(…)
Also, I think many people don’t realize that the drive exists before getting the work, and when you’re going head to head with some kid who is pulling 40 hours a week at art making before they get their first job, you’re up against someone who has jet propulsion while others are still trying to invent the wheel. That drive comes early, and it sometimes never goes away. It’s a huge advantage. Where does it come from? I don’t know. It’s not fair, but it’s an essential, and it will topple the talented, confound the uninitiated, and look like magic to others.
I’m not going to apologize for my focus and ability and I don’t think anyone should have to. No one feels the need to apologize for being smart and studying a lot, why should I apologize for making art a lot?
I don’t think any amount of explaining will get through to people who simply don’t get it. Either you have drive or you don’t. I feel a lot of sympathy for those who don’t and who want it. It must be like trying to see a color you simply can’t see.
Colleen Doran

Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.
Franz Kafka

Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got.
Philip José Farmer

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou

Artistic freedom.
I have no one I have to answer to for my choices in what I write, how I write it, or why I pick a project I pick.
No one.
If readers don’t like something I write now, I figure they might in twenty years. So I don’t let readers into my process at all. I don’t write for money or fame or any of that stuff.
I just write for me.
And only me.
Total artistic freedom.
That is something that I never had as a traditionally published writer. Not once, not ever. Even when writing my own books there were always gatekeepers and sales forces and so on.
And anyone going into traditional publishing now not only gives up all rights to their work, but also gives up all artistic freedom.
In this modern world, a writer does not need to do that. I have no idea why any writer would willingly do that.
Maybe, just maybe it’s because complete artistic freedom and everything that means scares writers too much. Too much responsibility or something.
Dean Wesley Smith

Sunday Surprise


Words of wisdom, writers on writing, whatever you want to call it… here’s your monthly dose of quotes! 🙂 (and thank you, Lyn, for posting the #LTUE2018 quotes)

“… Every time you write a book, you’re actually writing two books at the same time – the one on the page, and the one in your head. That’s why it’s so difficult to edit your own work – because when you read what’s on the page, you’re filling in the gaps with the stuff that’s only in your head…”
– Maxwell Drake
#LTUE2018

“…There is no such thing as Writer’s Block. All writer’s block means is that you’re bored, you want to be doing something else, you’re stuck, you’d rather be playing Call of Duty. Want to know how to get past writer’s block? Give yourself a good shake, clear your head, sit down in the chair and get back to work, and remember that this is the best job in the world and how lucky you are to have it… and that just like any other job, you don’t get to wallow if you want to get paid. I mean really, how long would an accountant last if one day he looked at his spreadsheets and was too bored with them to do his job? Who would hire a builder who lost the vision halfway into building a house? I could go on, but you get my point – if you want to have a carer as a writer, you don’t get to have writer’s block…”
Larry Correia
#LTUE2018

“…If you want to effectively write the other [other gender, race, culture, politics] you have to start by doing your homework. Get out of your comfort zone. Meet people who are different from you; talk to them and listen to what they say. Read books written by/for people with other points of view. Open your thinking. And keep in mind that no matter how much research you do, the character you’re writing only represents one person, and not all members of the other group…”
(Panel discussion)
#LTUE2018

“…As humans, we operate on a trust cycle – for example, I trusted a pilot I had never met to fly a plane built by people I didn’t know to bring me here to speak to a room of strangers. And even though we know there’s no guarantee of a tomorrow, we plan for it anyway. Science Fiction builds on this forward-thinking mindset…”
– Todd McCaffrey
#LTUE2018

“A good writer can watch a cat pad across the street and know what it is to be pounced upon by a Bengal tiger.”

― John le Carré

Sunday Surprise


And it’s the first guest of the year! And she’s Italian like me! I heard her speak at a panel here in Rome and later contacted her through Facebook. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli (I kind of heard the announcement in a Sam Rockwell’s voice from Galaxy Quest: “And now please welcome Commander Peter-peter-peter Quincy-quincy-quincy Taggart!”)! 😀

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Where do you live and write from?

I live in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia (Italy), a beautiful city by the Mediterranean Sea.

Why do you write?

I write to make my stories real.

When did you start writing?

I was 17 or 18. I loved (and still love) films and I had so many stories in my head, so I started by writing screenplays. Then I turned to fan fiction. I’ve written original fiction since 2009.

What genre(s) do you write?

I write science fiction and thrillers.

What does your writing routine consist of?

I don’t have a special routine for writing. I don’t write every day. I plan my writing periods ahead of time. They usually lasts a few months, depending on the length of the book (I can write 40-50k words a month). In those periods I put myself in front of my pc for 4-5 hours almost every day (except holidays). Sometimes I do that first time in the day, sometimes late at night.

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

I think I’m good in getting the reader into the mind of the characters. With practice, I learned to identify in the PoV characters and use the proper style (that is “show, don’t tell”) to write the story from their head.

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?

I find inspiration in everything that touches my life. Real personal experience or what other people told me. Books I read, films I see, TV series I watch. Articles I read. Everything and anything.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I’m definitely an outliner, although I often change the outline during the writing. I think I’m a fairly fast writer. I tend to write 1500-2000 words per writing session (4-5 hours).

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

My main goal is writing stories that I care to become real (in my mind), i.e. books that I would read as a reader. Writing is currently an important source of income in my life. My goal is to make it be so also in the future.

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

I really can’t remember one in particular.

Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)

My latest book in Italian is “Oltre il limite” (Beyond the Limit), book three in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy (it’s a crime thriller series).

My latest book in English is “Kindred Intentions”, an action-packed thriller set in London and surroundings about an undercover agent, Amelia Jennings, who becomes prey in a man hunt. Her life will change completely in exactly 24 hours.

I hear your English title(s) is (are) published by Amazon imprints. How did that happen?

An English edition of my crime thriller “The Mentor” (original title: “Il mentore”, book one in the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy) was published by AmazonCrossing in autumn 2015 and it was a bestseller, reaching No. 1 in the Kindle Store in USA, UK, and Australia.
The translation rights in English were reverted to me at the beginning of December 2017, so a new edition, with a brand new translation, will be published in the near future.
I landed this contract with Amazon Publishing in 2014, when “Il mentore” was published in Italian. It was selling very well for a few months, when I received an e-mail from a person at Amazon Publishing who wanted to speak to me over the phone. We had an interesting conversation, then I was contacted by an AmazonCrossing editor from Seattle. I had the chance to meet this person at the Frankfurter Buchmesse a couple of weeks later. After that meeting I received an offer from her.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

In the English-speaking market, I’m focused on translating and get the whole Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy published.
Concerning the Italian market, I’m starting to work on the fourth book in the Aurora Saga (science fiction), titled “Sirius. In caduta libera” (Sirius. Free Falling). Moreover I’m writing a book about self-publishing, based on a class I taught at the University of Insubria (Varese, Italy) in 2016.

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