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!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Writer's life and social themes

When a writer is going to set him/herself in front of a blank screen, he might already have some ideas about the theme.
Sometimes we are inspired by a piece of news that shocked us. A crime news section, which piqued our interest because of the thoughts it generated in our souls.
Then a plot is born based on that piece of news.

There are many discussions, which appeared on my Facebook feed about what is allowed and what is not allowed in a novel.
Well, here is my point of view.
If your aim is to bring a social issue to the spotlight, because you feel it would generate thoughts, then basically everything is allowed.

Stories of violence, abuse, and similar need to be told, to raise awareness, even if we are writing a novel. The boundary that should not be crossed, in my opinion, is when the writer is no more using the story to provoke thoughts in the readers but makes it an apology to a determined act of violence.

There are many aspects in the making of a novel, and the writer often deals with his/her own demons, which will translate into different characters.
The villain of the story will have his own time to show how evil he can be, but also the reason why he is acting that way.
The duty of the writer, in my opinion, is to offer a full description of the characters, their actions, and their internal struggles. The reader will pick his/her own conclusions and will take his sides, whether the villain was rightly condemned, or was perhaps a victim him/herself.

When I wrote my novel, I tend not to censor my character. There is a reason why the villain is acting the way he/she does. None of those reasons are justified in any of my novels. The villain, and the hero, are there telling their own version of the story. I am just a transcriber of their feelings and their actions.

I generally prefer the reader to draw his own conclusions and take the story as a way to reconsider the people around us.
So, what is your opinion? Do you think there are taboos in writing a novel? Should a writer focus on lighter themes?
Concerning me, I guess my readership already knows the gloomy shades prevailing in my writings.

Nevertheless, as the weekend is here, let's just focus on rest and having fun.
See you next week!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Writer's life and the daunting doubts

Well, certainly being a writer is not the easiest career in the world. All the fancy things you might figure out in your mind about being a writer, most of the time do not have any foundation of truth.
What is true is that there is a big satisfaction the moment you are sending your novel to be published, and it gives a sense of achievement when people start to react and interact with your new release.
Nevertheless, the work required before the manuscript is ready it has nothing to do with glory and inspiration.
For me, as an indie author, it means finding the time to write, researching for the most impossible bits of information. This, to make sure that the novel has solid grounds like you know what you are talking about, which generally, is not.
We gather information on the internet, asking friends, bothering social workers. We ask the colleague's uncle's cousin's friend who, seemingly, might have some knowledge about the topic you are writing about.
We search for the best way to murder someone or the time for a certain poison to have an effect.
Many times the search is stretching for days and weeks before we can actually go on to the next paragraph.
The bright side is that we get a wide, general knowledge about random things we might never use.
Besides this, and the editing, the tweaking, the rewriting processes, there is something that curses the nights of the indie author.
That is the time when we wake up in the middle of the night, after having sent the book to be published. Just when it is too late, and the next time we will be able to make any correction to the manuscript it arrives within 72 hours.

The daunting doubt.

"Were those twenty times I have been reading it through enough?"
The little nagging voice, during your sleep, will start whispering:
"What about that sentence? Are you sure it was good enough?"
"And have you checked for this kind of consistency?"
"Did you remember to put this edit?"
"Have you uploaded the right version or the unedited one?"
At that point, the poor author has completely lost the sleep and will go checking everything spending the whole night re-reading the version uploaded.
And if you think this is going to be all, think twice. The doubt will get back as soon as the first review arrives, a few positive reviews, and your heartbeat return to the normal pace, the blood pressure is getting normal, and the little nagging voice calms down.
Then one, not so positive, review.
All hell breaks loose, and the confidence gathered crashes down.
The little nagging voice starts screaming: "TOLD YA!"
And it will start an endless process to re-re-re-read and tweak one more,
ending up into a frustrating search for perfection, which will never arrive.

This, my dear friends, is the glamorous life of a writer, or better of an indie author.
With all the best intentions to spend a relaxing weekend, I wish you a great one.

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 ...