I don’t know about you but I always appreciate down time. After a whirlwind five weeks, school closes shop for a week and I’m on vacation. Now trying to figure out an ideal writing environment is posing the biggest dilemma. I decided at the last minute to cancel my trip to Riga and go the stay-cation root. This way I should have the best chance at writing without incident or delay.
Frankly, I have been off the wagon so now it’s time to get some pages in. With that known, I read over Luza and Riley and my notes are ready. If all goes as planned, book three Valo will be in draft form well before April. I have a crack team of student readers for feedback and input that are waiting anxiously to assist in the editing and rewrite phase.
Between their input, my actual editor, and the system I have in place, Valo could be ready for release by June or mid-summer. I don’t want to get too far ahead but there is even a possibility that book four comes out before Christmas.
When I get in a groove I can write a lot in a short period of time. The important thing to know is that I’m writing again. I’m excited for where the series is going and want you to know that the wait is almost over.
here must be some humor in the fact that I am writing about the New Year, 2018 at the end of January. Most people have posted their blogs, social commentary, and goals. I on the other hand, have been busy living life.
Thankfully I was able to leave Italy for the holiday season and spend time at home in the States with my family and friends. True to every holiday season there were ups and downs, but mainly due to the fact we all knew I would be returning to Italy to finish out the school year. When you have that underlying tone of he’s not staying, it can dampen even the best holiday spirits.
Instead of focusing on any new year’s resolution, may it be writing five new books, getting down to my birth weight, and breaking the lottery curse; I think it would be better to focus on what I learned while traveling home.
Let’s call this dos and don’ts of holiday traveling via international airports and planes.
I'm sure that I'm not the only author out there who keeps track of sales. Simply seeing more readers finding any of my books is worthwhile and rewarding. While I can't quit my day job, the people that find these works might be positively impacted, and for me that's more than enough reason to keep writing.
I admit I have slacked since my arrival in Italy. Between the living environment and just being in the right frame of mind, nothing has been written since last spring. I hope to change this at the dawn of the New Year. There are notes jotted down, pasted to my walls. I'm reading Luza and Riley in route to the States with the plan to get book three and four underway shortly. Actually book three is four chapters in, but I want to see if I really want the series to go in that direction.
Shifting back to the reason for this update, Luza has overtaken Running With Vince in total sales. As of this morning Luza has two more copies sold then RWV. Of course book sales are relative, but as both are so close to the 2000 copy mark, it's a good way to begin this holiday season and be thankful.
If you haven't read either book you should. For those that have, there are follow-up books in both series.
Freddo and I went to Hungary for a few days. Even though it was for a conference, I used the experience to get some ideas for Luza. I hope to be finishing the third and maybe fourth books in the months ahead. This weekend I will be reading over books one and two to make sure I am aligning the story and characters correctly. There are some new covers on the way for when book three is released in late spring.
Enjoy the pictures and I'll do my best to update soon.
Recently I ran a promotion on Fussy Librarian. If you aren’t a subscriber, I highly recommend the service as they send out daily newsletters on free and price reduced ebooks and series. I have used the service several times over the past year to find new readers.
From these successful promotions and a consistent ranking in the top 100 free adventure fantasy, and coming of age books on Amazon, Luza will overtake Running With Vince as my number one selling book in the near future.
Nevertheless, despite this ranking and teaching at a school where Luza and Riley are hits with the tween and middle grade crowd, I’m still unsure whether the book would do better in the congested young adult market. No matter, at this point the big thing for this series is to continue the positive word of mouth and to get more readers. That’s where you come in.
I have to admit it but I hate asking for reviews. Ask any author and the majority will tell you, we want the book to speak for itself. There is also the hope that after you read the book, you’d want to leave a rating and or write a few words, because without those words/rating, the likelihood of any book reaching a greater reading base is negligible. Without new reviews, books languish and join the millions of other books on the market that collect dust on virtual bookshelves.
Should you read this and be intrigued enough to read Luza, please leave a review whether bad or good. Something is better than nothing. If you are an adult with children between the ages of 10 – 15, pass on the book to them and ask what they thought. These little things will add up, and before we know it, there will be more people clamoring for the remaining five books in the series.
That’s not a typo. There are plans for five more books, five more adventures, and five more reasons to love this series.
Self promotion time has ended and now I must return to the non blogging world. Enjoy your week ahead.
A funny thing happened this week in Italy. I noticed that the stove top fan and light were not working. Granted, I noticed it last year but forgot to mention it to my landlord. Fast forward to when the maintenance technicians arrive. First they both look at my duct taped refrigerator lining. A few nods and the door closed.
“We can’t fix, will need different technician,” one of the two shared.
I shrug off the exchange and watch as they move on to the stove top.
The English speaking one examines the fan while the other observes. After borrowing a chair, he climbs on top of the counter and look at the wiring for the device behind the cabinets. The technician nods his head a few times, and then calls the landlord.
Given the phone, I hear my landlord say, “No problem.”
“What do you mean no problem?”
“It was never installed, so no problem.”
I hand the phone back over to the technician. He exchanges a few more words, puts away his phone and bids me adieu.
Processing the entire exchange, I put together the pieces. When they remodeled the kitchen, the exhaust line for the fan and the utility plug were never installed. In effect the light and fan are only there for esthetic purposes.
As I have learned over the last year, this only happen in Italy.
When sharing the story with my coworkers they asked when I would be writing a story about my time here. I have several handfuls of baffling stories to the American mind at least.
Even yesterday I was walking home and I watched a man driving his fiat with a Boston terrier on his lap, paws on the steering wheel. They came to the stop light and the dog looked over in my direction. I swear the dog said, “What’s your problem?”
As a writer, I don’t write about a location until I’m gone. I need to acquire as many experiences as possible and then when I move to a new spot, it feels safe and right to use that previous time as motivation. All of my books were written after I was in a given location. Luza and Riley were developed while living in Florida of all places, not Gilmanton, New Hampshire where I had taught previously.
For those wanting an Italian story, I apologize but you will have to wait a bit.
After much reflection the pen name of Frankie Yandow has come to an end. Intended to pay homage to my maternal grandparents and a play off my middle name, the name never caught on as much as I had hoped. I’m not sure why I thought it would, but it seemed like a cool idea at the time. Understanding that shifting Luza and Riley to Jonathan Kuiper will potentially confuse my readership, I decided to do it anyway.
For all practical purposes nothing changes. Luza and Riley are the same books they were but the series name has shifted to focus more on the direction and purpose of these seven (5 to come) novels. Not to mention, I no longer have to explain to my students why there are different author names on my books. If you are lucky enough to have the first edition of Luza, you my lucky reader have a collector’s item.
In the weeks ahead I’ll update you more on future books in the series. In the meantime, happy reading and enjoy Keira and Luza’s favorite season.
Summer was a whirlwind hopping from one location to another. After crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean visiting two different countries and four states, I was ready to stop living out of a suitcase. My fourth weekend back in Brindisi, Italy, I find myself pining for those summer days.
That’s how it works right? We go constantly and then when we are back in our work routine, those summer days spent with family and friends are the ones we reminisce on. Perhaps my situation is more peculiar than others, with the ones I care for thousands of miles away, with a significant time gap until I see them again.
Yet, in this crazy world we live in, having any time is better than none. For that I’m truly thankful. As I hunker down for this new school year, just like all of you that have shifted back to the non summer routines; have faith the holidays are fast approaching. Before we know it, a new year will come, spring, and then back to the summer. For those keeping count, I have nine months and seven days to go….
Summer vacation is but a week away and I reflect on a busy year. From relocating to Italy, to living in a new culture, teaching internationally, and traveling; there have been many new experiences. Despite these experiences, I am eager to return to the States to re energize my soul. My native New Hampshire calls. It almost sings a daily song saying that it is time to say hi again.
I wonder if I will see things differently returning for the summer. Yet with the conveniences, the familiar language, and all that makes America great; the fact is I am returning a changed man. The slower life of Southern Italy gets under your skin. While you never quite understand why it takes weeks to get things done, or months, the fact is as time passes you no longer get frustrated about the process.
“It is what it is,” rings truer here than any other place I have lived. You can fight it and get upset, but in the end enjoying the little moments of life along the Adriatic Sea is far more important and rewarding.
Perhaps this lesson will come in handy this summer. In the very least, I know I will need that perspective with the continued twists and turns that life continues to bring my way.
Despite living in Italy since August, this past weekend was the first time I had actually traveled in country. From an obsession with anything near the Baltic Sea and a desire to get a touch of any Slavic language, I didn’t feel the urge to explore. Nevertheless, in January I booked a ticket for Pisa. This was supposed to be for a conference and with the best intentions that’s what I had planned. For that matter, my time actually exploring Pisa was going to be limited to a few hours at best.
Fast forward several months and Pisa turned out quite differently than expected. To begin, I was mentally exhausted from work and physically my body was revolting from months of marathon training. Not knowing what to expect, I only printed out a map and the 3.5 mile route to my hotel.
Like Brindisi, the locals in Pisa don’t feel the need to label every street or road. This made my map virtually useless with the exception of the locations of the train station and the river Arno(?). I didn’t care though due to the setting sun, the lush green trees and grass, and the clean smell to the air.
While I had never been to the city before, the looming mountains in the distance and the sight of the river brought me back to growing up in New Hampshire. I walked with a purpose towards my hotel, zigzagging in what I considered the general direction. I knew the hotel would be west of the leaning tower and that would have to be enough to make my way.
More walking ensued and I stumbled across Galileo, a statue at least, pointing up to the moon above. Paying my respects, I took a right along a busy intersection, jaywalking after a police car rumbled past. I laughed at my carelessness, but after months in Brindisi, I knew the police didn’t care about me. I continued to walk, into a tunnel, across a railroad track, and then I spotted the road for my hotel.
The sidewalks were gone, replaced by overgrown weeds and grass. I picked up my pace and ran against the oncoming traffic. I could sense I was close, not to mention I was quite hungry. Then without expecting anything special, I was pleasantly surprised.
Not only did I find my hotel, but across the street was this majestic field with no structures to speak of. In the distance, on the other end of the field, I spotted the leaning tower and the mountains.
All I could do was smile. The tower of Pisa begun in 1173 and completed in 1372 was there for me to enjoy. There were no crowds or buildings to impede this moment. I felt part of the tower’s history. That night as I dined, looking out onto the tower, I decided the tower became part of my journey too.
The rest of my time in Pisa went fast, as expected, for any weekend trip. On Saturday, I played tourist and spent most of my time hiking the countryside, to the west of the tower, far away from the fray of locals and travelers alike.
As Sunday came, before catching my flight, I made it a point to visit the tower in person for a second time. With the clouds and rain gone, the crowds arrived and the insanity of posing for pictures ensued. I didn’t stay long. No I simply gave a wave to an old friend, one I had gotten to know in my history books over the last 30-something years. I’m sure the sight of the tower will stay far longer than any postcard, picture, or story and for that I’m grateful.
(For those eagle eye readers, I also used this post on my Frankie Yandow page)
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