Saturday, February 23, 2019

a writer's problem - The wait between edits

For me as a writer the best is during the time when I write the story, the next book I will publish, that little story that has been teasing me for months and that I had to keep it quiet because I was busy writing something else.
When I am finally put the words "The End" to my novel, and I have gone through the preliminary editing. There is the moment I give it to the hands of the editor for the serious polishing.
That is a moment almost magic, relieving and daunting at the same time.

The editor is the first person who sees your book and sees probably the worst of it, as she will probably find spelling issues, plot holes that I haven't noticed, wrong time frames... you just name it.
Besides that, she has to see the potential of the story and the most nail chewing experience if the wait between the moment you send it to her, and the time you will see on your email the email carrying the terrifying subject: "Title of the book- first round of corrections."
No that is a horror movie!
You are reading the comments in the body of the email looking for something that lights up your day like "I find it really entertaining..." "it has a strong plot..." together with those "However..."

That is a chilling start of a sentence.
The moment of the truth, downloading the attachment and opening keeping my eyes closed and opening only one per time.
And sighing "Oh well, I was expecting worse!"
From that moment on, the second and third rounds are moving on smoothly, and I can think about what's next.
Yes, what's next? At that point, there are so many things that need to be prepared, the blurb, the cover art or at least the kindle cover art as for the paperback you need to know the exact number of pages to calculate the spine thickness. Then there is to think about the marketing pre-order or not, invent new strategies to build up the right buzz before releasing it, and in the meanwhile also start to decide what will I write next.

Indeed that is also the time when the stories I have been keeping aside, act like living creatures with a life of their own, and as they realize that the previous story is completed, they demand your attention to be translated from thoughts to printed text.
At least for me, this is the time of struggling, because I have to decide which idea will be the next in line, and it is always quite difficult for me to decide which one will be the next. With the time I have been falling in love with them all.

Generally, I decided by time order, first come best served, so the idea that arrived as first will also be the one which will be written next. even though this is not a strict rule.
At the moment I find myself at the stage when I wait for the first round of editing is coming back to me from the editor, the cover art has been decided, and the blurb is on its way.
So you know at which point I am...

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Careful when writing historical fiction!

It is true that generally, I am on the road and happily enjoy my nomadic status, but since a few months, I am enjoying the condition of living my life without moving around. Even my job seems to have found a steadier position, and I have to say that it has some good points of it. One is that I have a more fixed schedule and not connected to weather condition, and in this way, I can organize my day in a more efficient way.
Again this means that I am reorganizing myself focusing mainly on the writing part of my side-career as an author.

One good point is that I started to see things about my city that I haven't noticed before, and that is coming very handy to me and to my writing. One thing I have never really noticed, (or perhaps I have noticed it but never given the deserved relevance) together with thousands other details in this city I have still to discover, is that quite close to me there is a synagogue, now you would ask, why does this has any meaning to you?
It all starts with a novel, a historical fiction I am writing (ok, I have started writing it years ago, but the research has been ongoing for three years) and an extremely controversial fact that belongs to the setting of the story.
The fact in question is whether the rebuilding Jerusalem by Emperor Hadrian and establishing of the pagan polis Aelia Capitolina was the trigger for the third Jewish war (132 AD – 135 AD) or it was the aftermath. I have been searching everywhere, and the results have been quite ambiguous.

I have asked historians who gave me hints on great sources for the research, but it was then when I found the synagogue with annexed Jewish cultural center. Now, if they could not address me to the truth of what happened...
I have sent them an email explaining my dilemma, and they have been kind enough to disclose to me the reality that nobody knows for sure.

Whether or not Emperor Hadrian named the city Aelia Capitolina before or after the revolt remains ambiguous. Cassius Dio says that this is the cause for the rebellion, but Eusebius claims it was done in tandem with the provincial renaming.
I will go and read a bit more, but the best suggestion they gave was that in this case, I should add forewords or footnotes citing different texts and sources to explain the ambiguity of the claim whatever I will decide to trust.

I believe that regardless of whether a writer decides to set his/her historical fiction on a precise time on the history, connected or not with a particular event basic research is a must. I am afraid that falling into gross historical mistakes corresponds to suicide for the author, but it is also true that a historical novel is not supposed to be academic research upon a particular historical period or facts, but there must be details that keep even the most demanding reader glued to the story.
I believe the suggestion I got was brilliant and that is citing all the sources from which the author got the information for the story as proof for his/her willingness and effort in  recreating an accurate image of the times he/she is talking about.
Whether they might be ambiguous or not, it is important to justify why that particular version of the facts was chosen.

I have still time as this novel will be published probably on fall/winter, depending on the editing process and, mostly, the research.
So fellow authors, do your research diligently and readers, please be kind, an author’s job is that of entertaining the reader, don’t expect an academic history book.

Have a great weekend!!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Some considerations about chasing happiness

It has always been so, and humanity, likewise every other creature in the animal kingdom, is chasing the forever-after-happy-ending.
We all want to be happy, and we all want to feel worth and appreciated. Nevertheless, regardless the cultural heritage, the country, the race we belong, if you walk down the street, or you watch TV, it seems like happiness is strictly connected with wealth or owning some particular item.
At this point, I am wondering whether people realize that one size cannot fit all, particularly when we are talking about happiness.
The biggest of the problems of modern society is the fact of growing up being literally bombed by false ideas of what will make your happiness and how to pursue that ideal.
People are all different, for homeless happiness can be resumed into clean and dry socks, two meals a day and a place where to sleep when outside is cold. For a person with health issues, happiness is knowing that there will be an end to the suffering, and the healing process is on its way.
For those lucky ones who have all those things granted, it might be some more comfortable living… But is this really what makes us happy? I guess that the real happiness for those who have a house, a family, clothes, health, and shelter is to realize that they do not need anything else and they can just rejoice of the lucky life they are having.
There has been a long debate recently about decluttering our lives and spaces, and I do totally agree with the fact that having too much is an obstacle to enjoyment. By no means I will ever suggest throwing away books, but we all should look at what we can declutter, there are thousands of items we have bought in our lives that belong to the category “I don’t need it but it’s cool,” and generally those are the items that are never used, remain forgotten in a corner because “they are cool, but I have no use for them.”
Sometimes I think we buy things driven by the stress we have at work. We work like slaves and as soon as we have a moment of freedom we go and buy things we do not need, just to reward our efforts at work. So spending money like a sort of therapy; a way to pat our shoulder reminding us of a good job done.
If I think about the most useless purchases in my life, they were done exactly in correspondence with the most stressing periods. Somehow, we are wired with the idea that buying something will make us happier.
On a second thought, none of those purchases made me happy, they just became burdens of which I had to get rid of after a while. The real sense of happiness was when I came back home and spent the evening with my husband and pets. Nowadays I avoid going out with my wallet after a stressful period, and actually, I spend that time in the woods, with my camera. I have discovered that for me, it feels more rewarding a walk in the woods than a walk in the shopping mall.
Do you think as well you are cluttering your spaces and lives after a stressful period?

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Writer's life, when wandering is on stand-by

It's not like I want it, if it were for me, I would be a nomad with a steady headquarter. That would be the place where I legally live, and I receive post (and bills).
The place where to settle for that little amount of time before feeling the itchy feeling of being on the road once again.
The countdown to the next journey is set on two months and a half from now, but in the meanwhile, since I am not wandering, I am just the writer, and you bet I am!
I am writing now the last part of the trilogy Deadly Deception, which might be published, depending on my editor, on April/May (keep finger crossed!).
To be honest, the simple writer has become way more productive than the Wandering Writer, as I started to write over 3000 words a day. I know there are writers who can also write 10000 words a day, and honestly, I have no idea how they do that. 
Even if I weren’t busy for eight hours a day at work, even if I were a full-time writer, I am not sure I could ever achieve that target.

On the other hand, it is also true that I would have never considered the possibility for me to be able to write more than 500-1000 words a day, and instead, here I am. Five days 15000 words, and the weekend has just started.
If on my audience there are indie authors who are struggling with production, I can suggest what it worked for me. I have given all the marketing in the hands of someone else. Totally, completely avoiding the marketing, just focusing on my writing, did the trick. Not to mention the fact that having a professional that can handle it, who knows the language of the market, put me on that state of mind that I can really stop worrying about that part and focus on the creative process. 
Now there is always the financial part that tricks it, but on the other hand, when you find the person able to transform your investment into profit, I guess those are well-spent money.
Then if we consider the money I spend like the money for the gym or another hobby, we all have to agree that whenever we do something to please, reward ourselves, it often comes with spending some money.
It is sad, but this is how our world is going, quite a few things are for free, and God thanks, those are the best things in life!

Stay positive my friends, and have a great weekend!

The long road of writing a book.

Publishing a book is a journey on a rocky path that involves several stages, from writing and pre-editing to editing, formatting, selecting ...