Saturday, January 9, 2021

Back from the cave

I've been deserted social media recently to get deeper into the preparation for the next novel. People who aren't in the writing business will never understand the amount of work required from the plotting of a story to the publishing and beyond. Sometimes I'm also surprised and overwhelmed by the amount of work needed, and the more I go further, the more the to-do-list seems to widen with new tasks.

I am not going to rant about it, and besides, this week, I'm going to tell you about my literary news. The first being the next novel, which I've set up for pre-order.

I am daring my luck because my editor promised to return my manuscript by the end of this month. However, since he has already delayed the delivery of one month, I'm reasonably concerned about the fact of being able to publish the novel by the planned date.

Nevertheless, I believe I have given enough room for everything by setting the pre-order release date by the 24th of February.

Let's now talk a bit more in depth about the novel "Merchant of Pearls."

The story focuses on a young man, Edward Sherwood, who grew up with a name he's not sure he will ever fit. In 1803 Eldridge Sherwood opened a small jewel shop, which kept growing thanks to generations of skilled family members who inherited the business, bringing it to become one of the most respected names in the city.

Besides the qualities as jewelers and dealers, the owners developed a flourishing side-business: the sale of cursed stones and jewels.

Customers looking for a precious stone with a peculiar history will confidently get in touch with the shop owner. Now, nobody actually knows how do the Sherwoods get in possession of those particular items. Some are acquired at auctions, others seem to return back to the shop...

Is the curse real, or the Sherwoods are playing a dirty game? Whatever the deal is, Edward gets dangerously drawn by that mystery.  

Also Detective Lars Lindström is interested, and when former customers seem to meet their destiny in fatal accidents, he can't just ignore the connection between them and the Sherwoods' business.

Things get complicated when at one auction in Moscow, Edward overbids the members of a local mafia family.

Now on the Bratva crosshair and chased by Detective Lindström, how will he save himself and the people he loves? How will he clear his name in front of justice?

As usual, there are also some side stories to complement the novel. One of the most interesting is probably the figure of a Russian man, Mikhail Orlov, hired by Edward as fixer and bodyguard. Their stories will come together, and Mikhail's background will bring a series of further twists to this psychological crime thriller.

To know more, you will have to wait, but you can also take advantage of the discount by pre-ordering it now.

PREORDER 'MERCHANT OF PEARLS'


Saturday, January 2, 2021

New year...FINALLY!

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.com

It was supposed to happen; we all knew it. The problem is: would we all make it through this difficult period? Would it have been something or someone we had to say goodbye to? Unfortunately, for many people, this has been the case.

Nevertheless, despite all the odds, it passed away. We're now in 2021.

The good news is that we have a working vaccine distributed worldwide, and although the virus is following the regular pattern of mutating itself, the new strain should be covered by the vaccine.

Just like it happened after every pandemic, the crisis forced our society to reshape itself and forced us to rethink our place in the Universe. Those who were ready to grab the challenge had the chance to find out the real priorities in life. We all realized that the same priorities aren't shared by everybody, and that's fine. We're all different, and we all have different things close to our hearts.

In this case, there isn't any right or wrong answer; it's really about whatever rocks the boat of each of us. Likewise, every year, I will not bore anybody, including me, with propositions, which doesn't have any other scope than confuse the whole non-planning flow of the year.

It will be whatever it is supposed to be, and I prefer to adjust my boat's direction during this new journey according to the situation presented in front of me.

As a writer, I aim to publish at least three books. One should be ready and published by the end of February, the second between April and May, and the third by the end of August. I'm going to focus on a long series, so much of the time will be dedicated to the research.

As a geologist, I can't have many plans as my job's unpredictability doesn't allow me to make any long-term plans. I will try with all my strength to keep it going, focusing most of my attention on it.

On a more personal level, I hope my healthcare system will start the vaccination round for people belonging to my group by March-April, and I hope I will be allowed to be on the road once again. I am yearning to return to Italy and spend the darkest part of the winter in a more sunny place, discovering something new for the next book of the series or a new standalone. Who knows?

As you can see, everything is based on hope and not a real plan. Everything can be subjected to changes depending on the ever-changing boundary conditions that characterize life.

This is also a step ahead toward the dream of moving away from Finland to a warmer climate, following an easier life. This pandemic showed us all that it's possible to work from a remote station, and perhaps this will be a card I might play unless I will be able to establish my new career as a writer. Three years from now, our countdown clock is set to tell us to start seriously moving. At that point, all the planning will be over, we will have a steady target, and the bureaucratic stuff will begin. I can't wait!

I really hope meantime that the world will know some peace, particularly for my beloved Africa, where my heart still lingers.

To every one of you, wherever you may be in this world, whatever might be your struggle, I wish you a year of healing and relief. I wish for a better future for every one of you.

Take all care!


Saturday, December 19, 2020

Losing the track of time

This is something that shouldn't have happened, but regularly every year, around this time, it happens. I have no time to take care of everything, and when finally I find a little fragment of time, I spend it idling, recharging my brain.

I allowed a couple of weeks to pass by without having written anything on my weekly blog. Not that I didn't have anything to write about; on the contrary, many things happened, and I could have written even four blogs. The point was just the need to recharge and find some time also for me.

Likewise, every year, my job, which didn't know any lockdown or pause during this pandemic, experiences the end of the year's typical overload. We all are double time busy, and we will stay so for the next four days, when finally, closing the computer on the 23rd, I will greet the office goodbye, for this year, and I will take three weeks holidays. 

Here is a sort of summary of what is going on. The first thing I wanted to write about was about an essential day in a Finn life, which is Independence day.

On 6.12, in Finland, we celebrate independence day. The history of Finnish independence started after the revolutions in Russia after the First World War. The hardships experienced by Russia in that period gave Finland the chance to withdraw from its rule. 

It was the 4th of December 1917, when the Senate of Finland, led by Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, who became the third president in 1931, undersigned the Independence act. On the 6th of December of the same year, the first celebration took place. There aren't special celebrations going on, in the city, besides the flagging and the decorations in the shops. This meant that people didn't suffer much for this year's restrictions due to the pandemic. Finnish population doesn't willingly gather in big numbers if not during concerts and the end of the years' celebrations.

As for me, we usually have dinner with friends because going out in this chilly, dark, rainy, snowless environment is the last thing I wanted to do. However, this time, we agreed to play safe and cancel the dinner. We didn't want to take any risk, and although we could have kept the distances, we understood that it would have felt so unnatural to spoil the festivity.

We will notice the difference for the end of the year's celebration, for which we have reserved to be at home with another couple of friends. Christmas celebrations also have been canceled, we will give each other a call on the 24th, and we will stay at home, enjoying the evening with the people from the same household.

This is not a real tragedy; a tragedy would be spending a fantastic evening all together just to realize after a few months that some of us won't live long enough to see what next year is going to bring. 

On a positive note, I have been extremely productive during this period and finished the first draft for the series's first book. I have started drafting the second book and writing down the plot idea for the third and fourth ones. 

I also rebranded my latest novel by hiring a cover artist to do the cover again, and I'm more than pleased to show here the results:

Paperback

Ebook

Also, I have decided that I will keep using the services of this cover artist to get rid of the headaches given by the creation of the cover art. I will focus my creativity on the writing and the promotional banners, but for the cover itself, I will rely on them.

I hope you'll have a great weekend!

Saturday, November 28, 2020

A late thanksgiving post

Picture from pixabay


I am not an American citizen, and I live far from the US, yet, as the internet has brought the whole world together at a click-distance, it brought us to appreciate other countries' traditions and heritage. 

Here in Finland, we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, but this isn't a reason to be grateful for what we have and what this year has brought us. It's easier to say what we have been missing during this pandemic, but if we look closer, we have gained something more.

We realized all those things we don't need to be happy, we have rediscovered that taking care of our neighbor is another way to take care of ourselves, and last but not least, we've rediscovered ourselves.

Of course, there had been inconveniences we had to endure, but if we compare to the epidemics of the past, we immediately should realize how easy we had it then respect the great plague (for example). We also learned to look with a different eye to those countries plagued by far more deadly diseases like Ebola, which case fatalities ranges between 25% and 90%.

Although some of us had lost dear ones to this disease, most of us were able to get a lesson of life out of it. The first is that no matter what or how, we are all destined to die, and taking some time every day to remind the people around us how much we care and love them, is more important than wasting our time arguing over old and meaningless issues.

We also should remember to be thankful every day and bring this thanksgiving spirit with us all over the year, as one day it might be too late to say how thankful we are.

So even if a bit late on the calendar festivity, I am thankful for the silence of the forest, for the nature surrounding me, for the people I care for, for the health I still hold in my body, for the job I could keep, for the inspiration that didn’t leave me, for the passion and curiosity that still moves my soul further, day after day, for my sister who cheers for my small success, for the husband who still holds my hand at night, for my rabbit who understood the love and care we hold for her, for the people who keep encouraging me even we never met.

For all the littlest things that make me smile every day, I am thankful, and with this, I wish you all a peaceful weekend.




Saturday, November 21, 2020

Become a writer, they said...

So much for the beauty of being a writer, to pour your passion into a blank paper to create words, sentences, paragraphs, and finally, a story.

A story that will inspire, enthrall, entertain, or inform your audience. But it's just here when the problems start to arise, at least for me. Writing requires inspiration, passion, and, last but not least, discipline.

The latter is what troubles me the most. 

Discipline.

Since I was a little kid, my parents and teachers didn't have to struggle with many issues besides my complete adversity to discipline and rules. Not that I have been a rebel, and I always followed the general behavioral rules. Those were the ones I was ready to follow and accept, but when it came to studying, follow, or even create a routine, it was a real nightmare for them (and also for me to tell the truth).

As a pantser, I don't really struggle in creating a story. I can pour my whole novel in a reasonable time for an average author, and with two-three novel published a year, I don't think that there's any issue on the writing front itself. 

The problem for me starts when it's the time to market my novel. At that point, discipline, consistency and commitment are three ingredients that can never miss from the marketer arsenal.

Yes, and once again I'm no marketer. I have been grown up as a scientist, a geologist for the matter, which within the whole range of scientific subjects it screams "ANARCHY."

Nevertheless, I need to become one, and after spending the eight hours in the office, or in the laboratory, or in the field, I need to come back home, forget about anarchy and step into my new world made of rules I desperately need to create and force myself to follow.

So far, I couldn't find a viable routine, as I'm easily distractable, and if writing and procrastination go hand in hand, I am sure that marketing and procrastination are twin brothers, and where goes the first, the second follows.

If this is what it's needed, I am not sure I will ever be a successful author, the one who is selling a big deals and can stop her day job to focus completely on writing. Perhaps one day when I retire I will be able to use those eight-ten hours I spend nowadays at work to create a successful routine to follow all the required steps marketing requires.

How are you taking care of your marketing? Have you found a good way to deal with the procrastination demon? If so, let me know, I'm all ears.

***

If you are curious about my books, here's a link to my website, where you can find them all, from historical fiction, paranormal romantic suspense, to thrillers:

https://pjmannauthor.com/category/books/

Sunday, November 15, 2020

When winter hits you hard, the Wandering Writer can still dream


https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/NEP3058523.jpg

You don't know what it means winter blues if you don't live above the 60th parallel north. You might not really grasp the feeling of seeing the length of the day reduced to a max of five hours with an almost constant cloud curtain to prevent any sunshine.

Usually, this would be the time when I pack my summer clothes and plan my escape route to the southern hemisphere. Now, with the pandemic hitting its third wave, I don't even have any idea when it will be possible, and the feeling is that of being trapped into an eternal night.

According to the calendar, there should still be three months to the time when the day's length will reach a reasonable length of 9-10 hours from dawn to dusk.

To make things worst, it seems like also for this year we won't have any snow to brighten up the days. Even in the most northern part of Lapland, the snow has hardly made a consistent layer (at most 5cm in the northernmost part of Lapland).

If we can call this a consolation, there won't be any disappointed tourist coming to our country to enjoy the beauty of a white wilderness. Still,  having no tourists means a big loss for regions that live almost exclusively on that income.

Yes, we won't be happy enough the day when a vaccine will be delivered among the population, and whenever it will be available also for me, you can bet your ass, I will be the one in the first line.

What will I do once I have the vaccine? Legit question, I will immediately book a flight to Italy and a couple of holidays for the darkest periods of the year. The Wandering Writer can't really wait to be on the road again.

Because of this pandemic, we've lost the chance for our last holiday last March, and this year I also avoided taking any holiday from my job. For some reason, I preferred to remain at work rather than stay at home doing nothing. I only took one week to finish my novel, and maybe I'm considering taking another one to finalize the next one and get even with all the marketing for the Christmas period.

Initially, exploring the rest of the country I’m living in seemed the best idea until I realized that the reason why I used to travel abroad was the need for sunlight. At this point, going to Lapland for a holiday, knowing that there I will find even more darkness, doesn’t really appeal to me.

It has been a blessing that none of my family or even at the workplace had been hit by the virus, but the world is big, and unfortunately, the casualties have been far too many. Mine are certainly small troubles compared to those who have lost their beloved ones. So, please, keep yourself and your beloved ones safe.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way

I have previously blogged about the new series I am going to publish somewhere next year, but I have another project on its way to publication. 

It will be a dark crime thriller that will bring you into the world of jewel dealers. The title (at least for the moment) is "The merchant of pearls."

The idea comes from a document I have been watching about cursed jewels. The first thing that comes to our minds is the pharaoh's curse, which inspired many horror and thriller novelists. 

Going a bit into details, there are many other more or less known items. For example, we can cite the 'Hope Diamond,' the Koh-i-Noor diamond, the Delhi purple sapphire, the Black Orlov, and many others. 

Each of these stones seems to have brought nothing else but disgraces to those who owned them. The question I tried to raise with this novel is: Is it just a marketing strategy, or there's some foundation of truth?

To be honest, the answer isn't essential. What is important is that whether because of magic or because of a well-planned marketing strategy, those items are highly desired by collectors.

People are ready to spend a fortune beyond the stone's market price, but this is not the question of purchasing a beautiful product of nature; it's challenging the fate and the possibility to own something with a remarkable history.

The price is often placed on the historical value or on the excitement. 

As I'm pre-editing it, I am considering the main character. For this reason, it came to my mind the famous quote of Jessica Rabbit:

My main character, Edward Sherwood, is the last heir of many generations of jewelers and goldsmith. Eldridge Sherwood started the business dealing with cursed stone back in 1802 when the Sherwoods Jeweler's shop opened its proficient business. 

Edward, differently than Jessica Rabbit, is not a saint, and it's not really just drawn that way. Nevertheless, like the yin and yang, there's still something that can save him from damnation. That is represented by the catalyst character, his partner, Byron, a young man he met during his educational journey.

Another catalyst is one of the cooperators, Mikhail Orlov, a former henchman of a Russian mob family, now working as a fixer, owning a bodyguarding company. His story will make him reconsider his doings, but will it be enough to change his nature?

To this question, I am afraid I can't give an answer, but I promise a story full of twists and turns, heartbreaking stories, gorgeous cityscapes, marvelous gems, and intriguing characters.

Besides working on the pre-editing, I'm also thinking about the cover, and I hope to show you something about it in the next weeks. As I know by experience, this is the most critical and challenging task of the whole process.

I do have a couple of ideas, and as usual, I will start with a few elements that will become the key to the picture. I will need to include a Russian cityscape, a reference to the pearl, or gemstones.

Since I haven't yet started to draw it, I will have to leave the anticipations to another time.

For now, I just wish you a wonderful weekend.

Back from the cave

I've been deserted social media recently to get deeper into the preparation for the next novel. People who aren't in the writing bus...