Saturday, March 28, 2020

Because it's all about positivity and attitude


And this is the second week of semi-forced-self-isolation. During the first week, I have been noticing a decrease in motivation, particularly concerning writing.
It felt as if words didn't want to flow, and my imaginary friends stopped telling me what they were thinking or wanted to do.

You can call it writer's block, but I believe it had a deeper meaning than simply a lack of ideas or some stress.

I am almost sure that for me, it was a question of reshaping my life into a new routine.
So far, my life consisted of waking up early in the morning, at about six o'clock, walking 3km to reach my office and stay there until three o'clock. Then, at the end of my working day, I would have enjoyed the walk back home, maybe even taking a longer route through the woods.

Being home, after a shower, I could easily put myself to write until the time also my husband would have returned home.

Now, being forced to work from home, I wake up in the morning, and there isn't anymore the refreshing walk to my office. There isn't a change of environment and direct interaction with my colleagues, and particularly there isn't any walk back home. Everything is happening between the walls of my house.

Indeed, I can still have a short walk in the woods, but even that is now a bit restricted and I can't stay out for as long as I wish.

Then, one thing blinked in my mind, like a little lamp that got switched on.
Suddenly, I recalled all the little works inside the house, those I always needed to do but I never had the time. Those I considered too tedious when the time wasn't an issue.
And so, I started to plan them.

It worked like a charm. I have found back my inspiration as I went through all those little projects. Also, since this winter we didn't have any snow at all, it means that I can take care of the garden earlier than usual.
Therefore, tomorrow will be the turn of my garden to be assessed and cleared up. It was a blessing, not having any snow this winter. I can start working on the garden and on the greenhouse earlier this spring.

Meantime, I hope this emergency will be soon over, and our lives can start once again.



Saturday, March 21, 2020

Quarantine, and some side effects

We all have been doing at least some social distancing, but many of us have been forced to quarantine or prefer to stay safe and self-quarantine until the situation clears up.

As for me, since my job can be carried out also from home, my employer suggested that those who can, should stay home until further notice, cooperating through skype or telephone and working remotely connected tho the main server of the firm.
For me and for my husband, it was quite a fine solution, but we are not alone in the house.
Carolina, the human-eating rabbit, declared not to be pleased with the actual arrangements.
In her opinion, our presence disrupted two main things, her beauty sleep and her need for meditating in silence.

Diary of an exasperated rabbit:

"You know what is worse? When they are taking a pause and decide that I am too cute not to be pet! Really?! Get a dog if you want someone to snuggle!

Then of course, when I slap their hands away, they seem to be offended; well, I was sleeping!
It is then quite frustrating because they know I have a soft spot:
RAISINS!
According to their (poor) judgment, I should not eat many of those. But how to resist their juiciness, sweetness, and yumminess?
Yet, they know it's a great way to bribe a snuggle out of me. What a poor rabbit has to do to get some treats. This has been the first week of their self-quarantine. I barely survived the noise and their presence, and... hold on they are speaking at the phone..."

...

"Damn! They will have at least another week of quarantine from the work. Do you know what this means? It means that I will have to stand their constant presence for another week, and Rabbit-God only knows for how long still.


I just hope there will still be raisins for sale in the shop, because there is no way I can calm my nerves, in such a stressful situation.
Oh, I just came to know that all their holiday plans have been canceled. I don't have certainly to explain to you that this means having them around even during the holidays.
Rabbit-God give me some strength!


Meantime, you keep yourself safe and if you have pets, for the grace of the Pet-Lord leave them be!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Something to lighten up the mood

Recently, the coronavirus that has been spread like an oil patch in the calm sea has taken over social media. Undeniably, talking about it it's positive and gives he right awareness to a problem that touches everyone on this planet.
Nevertheless, as in many other cases, there is a lot of misinformation spreading on the internet. People are strongly suggested, for their own sake, to follow only the recommendations of their local healthcare institutions. Refrain from believing that lemon will save you from the virus or to start producing at home a cure that might compromise your health, and also your life.

Today, I wish instead to bring something to light up the mood of the people. It's my contribution to lighten up the mood and give a safe medication: A smile.
I know there isn't any proven medical effect on diseases, but if you are quarantined at home, having something that brings a good mood is better than being reclused and sad.
I have two things to offer:
My pictures, a passion that has been with me since I was a little child, and my books.
So, today I will share them with you, and I hope you will like them:













Photography is also a fuel for my writing. 
What I see, inspires me to write the next story. It can be a scenery, a bird, or a particular shade from where flowers seem to glow with their own light.
It's on the people I meet during my travels or the stories they tell. Whatever it is, my books reflect my experiences, not just as a traveler, but as an observer of this planet.
If you, just like me and many others, are forced to stay home and be in quarantine because of the virus, I guess there isn't a better way to pass the time then by reading a good book. 
Something that can bring you far away from the dullness and sadness of forced confinement. 
Better than toilette paper! 
You can find them here:
https://www.amazon.com/author/pjmann
or visiting my website:
https://www.pjmannauthor.com

Take care of yourself and of those close to you be them your neighbor, your family or the elderly lady you haven't seen today.






Saturday, March 7, 2020

The Wandering Writer and the Coronavirus

For a person like me who has been traveled around the world for a long time, I feel absolutely frustrated about the restrictions Coronavirus is putting on my best source of information and knowledge.

The new coronavirus has a very fast spreading rate, yet, the mortality rate (<3%) is far lower than the SARS (10%), MERS (34%), and Ebola (70%).

Nevertheless, it is to be noted that the concern is not the mortality, but it is on the speed with which the virus spread across the globe.
This is higher than any other outbreaks in the last century.
In my opinion, the biggest concern is not truly related to the mortality rate, but to its economical repercussions.

Having a large portion of the population set in quarantine for an undefined period can cause a large negative impact on the economy of a country.

When I was traveling to Africa during the latest period of the Ebola outbreak. In that case, we didn't get any particular restriction for that.

I am wondering whether this has something to do with the well-known theory that nobody gives a penny about Africa, and only when something touches western countries we do care.

I have scheduled travels to Italy (the reddest spot in Europe) and Iraq, which are threatened by the spreading of the virus.

Iraq doesn't have any particular restriction as they hadn't yet recorded any infection. However, the neighboring country, Iran is a red spot in the middle east, there might be the chance that Iraq will close the airport and the boundaries. My only hope is that they won't close it for the flights coming from relatively safe countries.

Nevertheless, regardless of everything, whether they can keep me away from Iraq, nobody can keep me away from Italy. I could not stay away from my family and friends, and I am ready to risk being quarantined if this will be necessary.

Try not to get overwhelmed by the paranoia.
Have a sparkling weekend!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The countdown is on and so many things have happened.

I believe no writer in the world hasn't struggled, the period before the release of her novel.
I am one of those.
But particularly this novel's release is something that destiny seems to oppose quite strongly. Now, at two weeks to the release day, also Karma is looking more kindly upon me, and I can finally see the deadline approaching.
This has been for me a rollercoaster in many ways. The first reason is that I have been writing something different than my general genre. With this novel, a paranormal suspense, I wanted to bring to life something about my journeys in Africa. During the last trip I had through Benin and Togo, I have been visiting sites where voodoo is the third religion practiced. This inspired me to write something that goes beyond the general understanding.
Africa, together with India is one of the most diverse continents on Earth, culturally, ethnically, linguistically, and from the beliefs' point of view. Tribal religions are so different and complex that I needed to use a literary license to describe facts and customs. The paranormal/supernatural factor helped a lot in this quest, although research was something necessary, that couldn't be discarded.
The first obstacle I encountered was me.
My doubts gripped me, despite I was writing something that excited me. Writing a new genre was a leap into the unknown.
I feared, and I will fear for the rest of my life.
I've sent the manuscript to my editor, trembling as I waited for her comments, fearing a suggestion to start writing something different.
Yet, as she seemed to be engaged by the story, a big stone fell from my heart, and confidence returned to brighten my sky.
Then, the second obstacle: the cover art.
The creative process started with a mask and a map. From there, I produced at least twelve cover arts. Creating, discarding, taking back, and combining until I reached the final one.
The whole process took two whole months where I had to focus all my energies on that cover. It has been painful, to say the least.
I haven't written anything new or done anything else unrelated to this issue.
My husband patiently helped me, when I understand, I am a difficult person to work with, particularly when I am creating.
By the way here is the final-final cover:

Also, the planned release day was something going wrong. In the beginning, it was supposed to be released on Christmas day.
Hmm... Nope!
The next scheduled release was for Valentine... Nope too.
Now, I have finally everything (or almost) ready.
The blurb is done, the cover art ready, the editing is fine, and going through beta readers and my second reading.
Everything seems ready and mark the date, as the 17.3 the release is scheduled, and I can't see the time.
Wish you all a great weekend!


Saturday, February 22, 2020

Sunshine Blogger Award Nominee


It was certainly a fantastic piece of news that brightened my morning. I received the nomination for the Sunshine Blogger Award from 
Pamela Allegretto-Franz.

I am very thankful for the nomination, as it comes from a person I admire for her talent in art as in writings.
She is a brilliant painter who can grab the essence of her subjects. Every piece of her art has a life on its own and tells a story of the artist's soul.
But what is it actually this award?

As for the Sunshine Blogger Award, it’s an award given by bloggers to other bloggers they find creative, talented and entertaining.
Generally, it’s a great way of opening yourself to the community as well as to your readers, since you need to answer 11 questions from the blogger that nominated you.
Moreover, you then write your own 11 creative questions and nominate up to 11 additional bloggers that need to do the same.

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Blogger Award!

Thank blogger(s) who nominated you for a blog post and link back to their blog.
Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
Nominate up to 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

My answers to Pamela's questions:

1. When you were young, what was your dream career? If it wasn’t to be a writer, what changed your mind?
When I was a kid I wanted to become an astronaut. I have changed my mind so many times that I cannot say. Becoming a writer has been something that arrived later on. At least, the decision of becoming a published author.
2. What makes you angry? How do you tame the lion?
When I am in a hurry, and nothing seems to work. I don't tend to suppress the lion. I let it roar because, after the big storming, which lasts for about five minutes, my brain has discharged the negativity, and the Sun can return to shine.
3. Have you ever allowed a “dream-crusher” to cloud your self-worth as a writer? How did you lift that cloud?
No, I don't really care about what people say. My father was a great teacher about never listen to what the others say.
4. What literary figure, alive or deceased, would you like to interview?
I would love to interview Dante Alighieri, but, well... Does anyone have an Ouja board?
5. Do you enjoy the editing process? If so, why? If not, why not?
No, I most definitely hate it. Mostly because I don't think I am the one who should edit my work. I do a pre-edit using Grammarly and AutoCrit, which highlight the weaker parts, and then, I send the manuscript to beta readers and editor.
6. If you could be proficient in another language, which would you choose? Why?
I am already proficient in three languages, but if I would choose another language, that would be Georgian. I find it very intriguing, and also quite challenging, having a different alphabet.
7. If you believed in reincarnation, what century might you have lived in and who were you?
I was much probably living in imperial Rome, and I would be a philosopher or free-thinker.
8. If you were a schoolteacher, what class would you teach and why?
If I were a teacher, I would be fired on the first day. I don't like teaching, and I am terrible at it.
9. Do you prefer to stay in touch with close friends via texting, messenger, email, or phone call? Why?
I prefer to meet my friends in person. I call them, but only to fix a date and time to meet.
10. What was one of your best days?
That's a difficult question as to pick one from a lifetime is not easy. It was perhaps the day we spent on the Kenyan Savannah observing the wildlife. It was the day I fell in love with Africa and the people living there.
11. How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered for the person I am, rather than for what I have achieved in my life. People who know me personally, usually remember me for being extremely direct and honest. I never tell a pretty lie, I opt always for the truth. It might hurt, but there are more benefits to an ugly truth than on a pretty lie.

The SUNSHINE BLOGGERS AWARD empowers bloggers to celebrate other bloggers who are creative and bring positivity to the blogging community. So, I nominate:

Erika M. Szabo
Denise Dianaty
Joanne Van Leerdam
Jeannie JB Richards
Aliya DalRae
Bonita Maria Gutierrez
Aryl Shanti
Maude Maureen Amato Mayes
Julia Blake
Cindy J. Smith
Lorraine Carey

Those are my questions for the nominees

1. What inspired you to start writing/blogging?
2. What is the writing process you enjoy the most?
3. What kind of writer are you a plotter or a pantser?
4. Which of your novels do you love the most?
5. Which are your goals in life?
6. If money was no object, where would you travel?
7. If the story of your latest novel was turned into a movie, who would be cast as your MC?
8. What inspires you the most?
9. What genres do you enjoy reading?
10. What are you currently fascinated by?
11. What have been your biggest writing/blogging struggles?


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Something more to W(o)nder about - what about genres?


This week, I am going to discuss what actually to write in your book.
Concerning me, my writing flow starts with an idea, and that can be really whatever. That idea will spark the creativity flame, and I will start to write a story coming up in my mind.
Since a writer should not have any taboos about what to write. Should he or she focus on a particular genre, or should he or she expand her experience to other genres too?
Now, to this question obviously, there is no right and wrong answer, it is all about what you will feel like to write.
If what inspires you is romance or whatever other specific genres, then go on and be blessed by the muse, which inspires you.
However, if you feel like there is more in your sleeves. If you wish to explore other genres, it shouldn't be a problem. Eventually, it can also give you the chance for a wider readership.
Yet, not everything is well under the sun, and writing a multigenre will bring you to a labyrinth in which navigating might become tricky.
In my experience, writing in more than one genre gave me the chance to expand my range of inspiration, improved my storytelling skills, and opened the world to a broader range of creative tools.
The problem comes from the same opportunity. Writing more than one genre offers you the possibility to broaden your readership. At the same time, you need to put extra effort when you create your mailing list, or you market your writing.
To overcome this, when you create an ad to add subscribers to your mailing list, you will need to target those people who are interested in all the genres you intend to write. Certainly, these won't be as many as those coming from one single genre, but they will be your best asset for your promotions and as members to your street team.
Another way is to create several pen names for each genre you want to explore. Be warned, though, this is going to be a lot of work because you will have to create and follow ads and mailing lists for two or more authors.
I am still in the experimental phase of what is going to work better, and I have noticed that there is absolutely no size fits all. One way of promoting your books will not obtain the same results as it did for other authors. My suggestion is to follow what other successful authors have done, repeat, tweak, and modify until you have the method that works for you. It's a creative job, involving passion.
Without passion, nothing is not going to work.
To all the writers, who like myself are working hard to get their place in the spotlight. Don't give up!
Have a great weekend!

Because it's all about positivity and attitude

And this is the second week of semi-forced-self-isolation. During the first week, I have been noticing a decrease in motivation, particul...