Blog: Are You Experienced?

if you don’t know the the origins of this week’s blog title, look it up! You won’t be disappointed.

Many times young writers ask me if it’s okay to write about something you have not experienced. I usually say yes, if you absolutely must, but there is no substitute for experience.

Landscape and Location
This is particularly true of places – landscape and location. In my first novel, The Ice Boat, a kind of odyssey of a young musician, I stuck to places I knew: London, Rio de Janeiro, Den Haag (The Hague in Holland), Amsterdam and Stockholm. The second volume is yet to be published because the manuscript was lost for years and I only just found it again. In it the main character visits Siberia and and even the top of the world (I was influenced my Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein here!). Ironically I hadn’t even been to Russia while writing it but later I actually married in Kyrgyzstan, in the far east of the old USSR. There the ethnicity is largely that of Mongols from the far north. Perhaps this was a case of life imitating nature. My second book The Man Who Recreated Himself was largely set in England and in places I knew. By the time I wrote Infinite Blue Heaven I had married in Kyrgyzstan and so it made sense to write about the landscapes and people I had experienced. I hope this comes through in the book.

For the Iron Series, which is Science Fiction, obviously I am unable to visit most of the locations in the books and I make no apologies for that; I would love to go to The Moon and Mars, but its unlikely. Part of the beauty of Science Fiction is that the imagination is not limited to what is possible now. However for the Ordo Lupus series of books, once again I was able to describe places I had seen: Hampstead Heath, Highgate and France. I made use of the genealogical research I had done into my family in and around the French towns of Nevers and Donzy in the Languedoc region of France. I have also been to Paris so I was able to write from first hand about it.

People
Of course I am not saying you have to be old or have experienced everything you write about. Life is a continual learning experience anyway but characters seem more authentic when they are based on real people. This is a trick I often use, particularly with minor characters where you have little time and space to develop them. Landric in Ordo Lupus: The Devil’s Own Dice is a good example of this.

Other News
There are no excerpts this week, mainly because I am very close to finishing Iron III: Worlds Like Dust, and fully focused on this. Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate has also received a very nice review from Amit Bobrov on Amazon and I have had some good feedback on Too Bright the Sun from a reader who downloaded a free copy. They keen-eyed among you will also have noticed that I have published a new comedy erotic short story with Lami Kamikaze called Angela Ate my Dodo! Beautifully illustrated with colour paintings by the artist Saraswati Kiran, it’s very funny and wacky, and reminds me a bit of A Fish Called Wanda or the Austin Powers films. There is also an outline screenplay available on Amazon because I am very interested in working with a producer or director on a film project of this book. My Flick Fiction offering received a very muted response which is a bit disappointing. Perhaps only a few could be bothered to translate the Chinese version back. If you read it in the previous post and like it, please share it among your friends.

This week’s Blog: Gone in 60 seconds

Nano-Short Story – or Flick-Story

11.25: This week I am trying something different: don’t say I don’t try and provide you with variety. I wanted to write a short story so short it would fit in one tweet (140 characters) and I intend to do that today. It’s 11.25 and so I am starting now, posting live the stages as I publish in real time.

11.38: Okay, we’re off! I first had the idea of writing a story shorter than flash-fiction or ultra-short stories when I was promoting Too Bright the Sun. I found that when translating into Chinese or Japanese, there were many characters spare after I had composed the tweet: oriental languages that use logograms depicting ideas (far more complex than in the west) are way more economic than Western ones. I wondered if it might be possible to squeeze a very short story into a tweet of 140 characters. I have had an idea floating around in my head for a short story during the last week and it seemed very suitable for the experiment. It’s basically the story of a Catholic Nun who believes the menstrual cycle is murder. So she becomes what some might call promiscuous but to her she is simply doing the work of God. Last night I wrote a very short draft and just now I found this interesting site talking about writing Flash Fiction. However ultra-short or Flash Fiction are stories of a few paragraphs. There are some very nice short ones like the following:

Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?
– Eileen Gunn

but these are not really gramatically correct stories. They are more like witty sound bites. So now I want to develop my story.

11.53: Okay here is the raw story:

Sister Ana was a saint now. She had only told Father Jon, “None of my 38 kids were immaculately conceived. The menstrual cycle is murder! I had to have them, each with a different father.” His was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept for the 39 quiet men in the room.

In fact as I first wrote it down it was shorter:

Sister Ana was a saint now. She had only told Father Jon, “None of my 38 kids were immaculately conceived. The menstrual cycle is murder! I had to have them.” His was the 39th. He kept quiet.

but I guessed this would not use up 140 characters in Chinese or Japanese so I embellished, which I think adds quite a lot. Now it’s time to see just how it works out on twitter. First I will translate the longer into Japanese and Chinese

on translate.goodle.com

Okay well, remarkably, using Simplified Chinese, I still have 40 characters left!! That’s how concise the language is!! Now Japanese: Okay its 9 characters too long in Japanese so I will stick with Simplified Chinese. Just for fun I am going to try the short one in English. Okay it’s 51 characters too long. But I am not going to give up. I want to see if I can shorten it further. Here is version II:

She’s a saint now. She told Father Jon, “My 38 kids were not immaculately conceived. Menstruation is murder! Had to have them!” His was the 39th. He kept quiet.

Let’s see if that fits. Nope still 20 characters too long but promising.

12.03:

Okay try a littler harder:

She’s a saint now. She told Father Jon, “My 38 kids aren’t immaculately conceived. Menstruation’s murder!” His was the 39th. He wept during her canonisation.

Still 17 too long and I think it lacks something if we don’t know she is a Nun; even if I insert the thing about her canonisation. I believe some women have been canonised without being nuns. Just need to check that …

According to Wikipedia the canonisation ‘ process is most commonly used in, although not limited to, the Roman Catholic Church.’

so I guess she doesn’t have to be a nun but it sounds more profound because she then has to deal with the rigours and strictures of her calling. So I want to get that in there.

13.20: Okay how about this:

She’s a saint now. She told Father Jon, “My 38 kids aren’t immaculately conceived. Menstruation’s murder!” His was the 39th. He kept the secret.

Still too long … Another try:

A saint now, the nun told the Father, “My 38 kids aren’t immaculately conceived. Menstruation’s murder!” His was the 39th. He kept a secret.

Yes it fits! I will post at 2pm the English Version. Of course its only a preview of the Chinese version. Let’s go back to that:

13.47: Sister Ana was a saint now. She had only told Father Jon, “None of my 38 kids were immaculately conceived. The menstrual cycle is murder! I had to have them, each with a different father.” His was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept for the 39 quiet men in the room.

In Simplified Chinese this is:
安娜姐姐现在是一个圣人。她只告诉了父亲乔恩,“我的38个孩子没有一尘不染的设想。月经周期是谋杀!我必须有他们,每一个不同的父亲。”他是第39届。他保持安静。在她册封仪式,他39安静的男子在房间里哭了。
and this leaves 40 characters. Let me see if I can improve it:

Sister Anna was a saint now. She had told only Father John, before she died, “It’s nonsense propagated by the Vatican; none of my 38 children were immaculately conceived. I believe the menstrual cycle is murder! I had to have them, each with a different father.” His was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept for the 39 quiet men in the room.

Okay, I think that has everything I want to fit in. Ha! Ha! If I translate it into Chinese and then translate that back into English I get nonsense:

Anna sister is now a saint. Just tell her father, John, before she died, “It’s nonsense spread by the Vatican do not have my 38 children, spotless idea, I believe, is the murder of the menstrual cycle! I must have them, each with a different father.” He is the 39th. He remained quiet. In her canonization ceremony, a quiet man in his 39 room crying.

So I will try to clarify it:

14.00: Sister Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John, before she died, “It’s nonsense propagated by the Vatican; none of my 38 children were Immaculately Conceived. Menstruation is murder! I had to have them, each with a different father.” His was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept for the 39 quiet men in the room.

This is proving much harder than I thought! Chinese doesn’t translate very easily into English. The word ‘the’ often doesn’t seem to be relevant!

The Nun Anna, is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John, before she died. “It’s nonsense propagated by the Vatican; none of my 38 children were Immaculately Conceived. Menstruation is murder! I had to have them, each with a different father.” His was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried for the 39 other quiet men in the room.

15.00: Nope; I end up with:
Nun, Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to Pastor John, before her death. Spread by the Vatican, “the nonsense, my 38 children had no idea spotted menstruation is murder! I must have them, each with a different father.” He is the 39th. He remained quiet. In her canonization ceremony, he cried. His other 39 men in the room quietly crying.

A Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John, before she died. “It’s nonsense propagated by the Vatican; none of my 38 children were Immaculately Conceived. Menstruation is murder! I needed to have them. I had each child with a different father.” John’s child was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried for the 39 other quiet men in the room.

Nope!

The Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John before she died. “None of my 38 births are Holy. This is a myth. I had each child with a different father because Menstruation is murder!” John’s child was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried for the 39 other quiet men in the room.

This is getting closer!

A Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John before she died. “I am not a virgin. This is a myth. Every one of my children was conceived by a real man; I wanted children because menstruation is murder!” Her child with John was the 39th. He kept the secret. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried for the 39 men in the room who were keeping quiet.

And another try:

A Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John before she died. “I am not a virgin. This is a myth. Every one of my children was conceived by a real man; I wanted children because menstruation is murder!” His son was the 39th child. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried for the 39 men in the room who were keeping quiet.

This produces this when translated into Simplified Chinese and back again:

A nun named Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to Pastor John before she died. “I’m not a virgin, this is a myth, every one of my children was conceived by a real man, I want kids, because menstruation is murder!” His son was the 39th child. He remained quiet. In her canonization ceremony, he cried. He cried 39 men in the room to keep quiet.

Very close now.

A Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John before she died. “I am not a virgin. This is a myth. Each of my 38 children was conceived by a real man; I wanted children because menstruation is murder!” His son was the 39th child. He stayed silent. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried because he sympathised for the 39 men in the room who were silent.

A Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John before she died. “I am not a virgin. This is a myth. Each of my 38 children is conceived by a real man; I wanted children because menstruation is murder!” His son was the 39th child. He stayed silent. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried because he sympathised for the 39 silent priests in the room.

A Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John before she died. “I am not a virgin. This is a myth. Each of my 38 children is conceived by a real man; I wanted children because menstruation is murder!” His son was the 39th child. He stayed silent. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried because he sympathised for the 39 priests who remained silent in the room.

Success!

This translates into Simplified Chinese as:

一个尼姑叫安娜现在是一个圣人。她只把真相告诉牧师约翰之前,她死了。“我不是一个处女,这是一个神话,我的每38名儿童被设想一个真正的男人,我想要孩子,因为月经是谋杀!”他的儿子是第39届的孩子。他保持沉默。在她的册封仪式,他哭了。他哭了,因为他同情39祭司谁在房间里保持沉默。

which translates back to English as:

A nun named Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to Pastor John before she died. “I’m not a virgin, this is a myth, each of my 38 children were conceived a real man, I want kids, because menstruation is murder!” His son was the 39th child. He remained silent. In her canonization ceremony, he cried. He cried because he sympathized with the 39 priests who remained silent in the room.

Now just have to see if it fits on Twitter in Chinese: It does!

Okay now all I need to do is Tweet it!

This week’s Blog – Mars Attacks!

Hot off the Press!

Hot of the press replaces previous ‘Excerpts’. It will be excerpts that I have just written; little tasters of what I am up to, but not too much. I think I can just about manage this final one from Iron III: Worlds Like Dust.

Worlds Like Dust

Copyright © 2011 by Lazlo Ferran

All right Reserved

“Good thinking, Caron. However that still doesn’t help much. I don’t think any of us would get far … wearing a suit outside the port is gonna look pretty strange … And I don’t even speak Ischian!” After half hour deliberating they still had no decent plan. “Anyways, I am gonna get some kip. Bryant, you are on watch. Wake me in one hour. I’ll sleep on it!”

When they drifted cautiously into Dock 422 in Mars Space Port, they still had no plan beyond the inchoate one suggested by Caron.

Built in the late 21st Century Mars Space Port, also known as Port Brutus, named after the first man to set foot on Mars, was still very impressive. Built from the then-cheap black seribdenum alloy, the matt surfaces on the ten mile long aisles and shorter piers appeared blacker than black. Only the twinkling pot lights highlighted its profiles and gave an almost sickening perspective to it.

Ischian cruisers were larger than human ones and the docks could barely hold them so McNeill had to use every bit of skill to dock without damaging the ship. They knew they would be scrutinized, and probably reported if they made an error. They didn’t need the attention. McNeil was sweating when the cruiser finally came to rest and the docking clamps juddered into position. Osei, in the Ischian suit, used a translator to respond by keyboard to the Port’s new controller while keeping the others off the comms viewing screen. A stern looking Ischian Commander demanded an explanation several times for the suit and the lack of vocal communication.

‘Were involved in a skirmish with a stolen cruiser, Commander,’ Osei typed. ‘In Earth’s vicinity. We sustained damage to our recyclers and comms equipment.’

“But I can see no sign of damage to your ship, Captain!”

‘They had Ischian cruiser, Commander. That means they had disrupter. They may be poor shots but they were lucky.’

“Yes, I know. We have been told a confirmed damaged cruiser is possibly heading this way. I presume that was the skirmish you were involved with?”

‘Yes.’

“I see. You need a Repair Crew? I can’t spare one until tomorrow …”
‘We barely made it here, sir. Need to contact our Commander and request a brief for a new mission.’

“Hm. Your unit is near the Earth’s Moon, subduing Rebels, I believe. He won’t have time for that. What’s his name? I might be able to get a message through …”

“Wait. Our old Commander was killed yesterday. We have a new one but I forgot the name.” Osei broke the link. “Quick! Somebody get me a name … From the logs; from a bunk; the suits … I don’t care!” There was chaos as the three grunts turned the deck upside down. Caron found a tag in one of the suits.

“Kreikos …? Something like that, I think. My Ischian’s not so good …”

Osei reconnected with the Dock Control. ‘Kreikos,’ he typed in.

“Right.” I’ll get in touch. You report to me directly you get port-side. Understood?”

‘Yes, sir.’

***

 

Other News

It looks like editing on The Journals Of Raymond Brooks, Second Edition is complete so I look forward to seeing that published on Amazon soon. The new cover of Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate seems to be working for me; I have sold 11 copies in the first week. I really hope to finish Worlds Like Dust in the next two weeks so that I can move on to stories which have languished too long in a half finished state. I am also starting work with Omri Koresh on the new cover for Ordo Lupus II: The Devil’s Own Dice, so look for that in August or September.

Elsewhere

Just a quick word about the Shopper Discount Scam. A close friend of mine was angry to find they had been paying £10 per month to a company they had never heard of the other day. It turns out that thousands of people have been caught by the same scam: you pay for something on a reputable website like Argos.co.uk or Prontaprint.co.uk and unwitting find yourself becoming a member of the shopper discount service. They do offer a voucher for £15 (or something like that) off your next purchase but proceed to debit your credit card account by £10 per month indefinitely. it is quite difficult to stop them and neither the banks nor the website companies (ie Argos) seem interested in helping you. It does smell  badly of bad practice at the least and I am amazed something like this is allowed to go on in the consumer-conscious 21st Century. Find out more on my friend’s blog at: http://lamikamikaze.wordpress.com

Too Bright the Sun

BookCoverPreview

As you will see in the post below, I was very happy to find out today that Too Bright the Sun entered the Top 100 FREE Kindle books list on all three: Amazon USUK and Canada on Monday. Promoting my work takes me away from writing so it’s really nice to get some reward for all the effort I have put in over the last few weeks. I only wish I knew exactly what number it reached. You can rest assured I am watching the progress of Vampire: Beneficence (Short Stories III) very closely. Below I will discuss the results of the Amazon KDP Free Promotion for my books so far.

Vampire: Beneficence (Short Stories III)

So far there have been 131 downloads, 17 of them in Germany. It seems to be taking longer to get people’s attention with this one although it’s doing much better in the US than here. Perhaps the UK market really isn’t so keen on Vampire stories. Then again it’s been my experience that lycanthropy stories do well here in winter and not summer whereas for Science Fiction it’s the other way round,

It’s languishing around the 3000 Ranking on both Amazon US and UK so if you haven’t downloaded a copy, please do.

Unknown Place, Unknown Universe

Interestingly, I did a two-day paid advert for 29-30 June on Facebook for this and I think it made very little difference. There have been 103 downloads (the promotion is now finished) which is about half what Too Bright the Sun achieved. But then Amazon continued billing me for half of the 1st July before I could stop the advert!! Needless to say that I have complained to Facebook about this but have not heard back. Their promotional blurb is misleading if this is how the promotion works: you have to delete or pause a campaign to stop them from billing you after the campaign is due to finish. I am also waiting for reply to my complaint about having the link to Too Bright the Sun declared spam! There was only one option from drop downs for the complaining email: ‘my Human Rights have been violated’! Anyway, in that 2.5 day period 168,500 people were reached and there were 52 clicks giving a ‘conversion’ rate of  0.005%.However it doesn’t mean these 50 people downloaded copies. I am doubtful many of them did because if I look at the access statistics for my Lazlo Ferran page I see that I reached 97,000 people in India in the last month (the highest reach for any country) followed by Germany at 44,000, Uk at 31,000, Canada at 20,000 and US at 15,000. And yet I only had 5 downloads from India. It is however worth noting that the high number reached in Germany might explain why the downloads for Germany were so unexpectedly high. I haven’t paid for an advert for the Vampire book and downloads are soon to exceed those for Unknown Place, Unknown Universe.

Results of Caption Competition for Too Bright the Sun’s Laser Weapons

I decided to do a caption competition half way through Too Bright the Sun’s promotion and had some great suggesions.

The winner for the Alien Laser Rifle is Organic Plasma Rifle by Dominic Kay @DBCK83.

The winner for the laser pistol is Laser Carbine LC5150 ‘Bullpup’ by David Bayne @david_bayne.

The names will be included in Iron III: Worlds Like Dust and of course there will be a credit both winners!

Other News

I have added some more background information and pictures in a section ‘From the Author’ for both Iron Series books; Too Bright the Sun and Unknown Place, Unknown Universe so be sure to take a look by clicking on the menu above. Also if you are a writer and interested in lycanthropy or high tech science fiction please join my discussion group on Facebook.

Don’t forget, the Free Promotion of Vampire: Beneficence: (Short Stories III) is still FREE to download until 8 am Sunday UK time or midnight 6 July in the US.

Too Bright the Sun Sci-fi novel in Amazon top 100 Free list!

BookCoverPreviewI was very happy to find  out today that Too Bright the Sun entered the Top 100 FREE Kindle books list on all three: Amazon US, UK and Canada on Monday. Unfortunately I wasn’t there to see it because I simply wasn’t expecting it to do that well! The book  has been in a Free promotion over the last week and so I was expecting high download volumes but what I didn’t realise is that there are not that many eBooks offered for free at any one time. Hence I was looking the wrong way. Thanks to @JessieBTyson (an author in the Facebook Group Authors Tweeting Authors for noticing. Only wish I had taken a screen grab but I will be watching closely during the next Free Book Promotion.

I have no idea what number I reached although I checked Amazon UK, US and Canada today and there were no Science Fiction books  in any of them so that in itself is a victory for Science Fiction.

Looking at the books in the #1 position for Free Kindle books on Amazon UK and Amazon US they generally rank first in their category and somewhere between 20 and 300 for all the Kindles on sale. The ones at the #100 position vary anywhere from 300 to 3000 in the sales ranks. Too Bright the Sun peaked at #17 (UK) and #38 (US) in the sales rank for its category and therefore it could have been anywhere really in the Top 100 Free kindle books.

There may be a very short blog this weekend – I will be sipping a margarita and reflecting on the success of Too Bright the Sun. It’s not just my success though but a team effort. Thanks to everybody who tweeted for me or posted, shared and commented on Facebook. It all helped a lot.

Ship’s Log: Supplimental – MotoGP

I just have to say how happy I am that Valentino Rossi won the Assen MotoGp. It’s been a long time coming and I doubted myself that he could do it again. After what has happened to him in the last few years, I think there are very few men who could rise to the top again; it’s not far short of miraculous. Lorenzo’s finish with his injury was also not far short of a miracle. It was a great race. Rossi looks like a man who has had a great burden lifted from his shoulders and I hope he can go on to more wins.