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Gang Roundup – September 2020

Hi everyone. How’s it going?
The Covid situation is getting worrying again here in Italy. Cases are going up. They say it is a temporary situation, but who knows?

August is normally a lazy time in the publishing industry, but September should bring some news and new things.
Let’s hope so.

Jakub Różalski’s Alternate History of Europe

Warsaw 44 by Jakub Różalski
Warsaw 44 by Jakub Różalski

Polish artist Jakub Różalski has become famous worldwide for two different works. His visuals for what was first an imagined world, then a board game and now a videogame set in 1920s Eastern Europe, where diesel-powered robots live and work alongside people. 

And the illustrations for his countryman Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy series, The Witcher

He has such a personal style, and I love his reimagined 1920s world. 

How to Change World War II

The New Order (Wolfenstein) Alternate WWII artwork
The New Order (Wolfenstein) Alternate WWII artwork

This is an extremely extencive collection of alternative historical novel imigining the world if WWII had gone differently.
I never imagined there were so many of them, though I know WWII is a very popular era for any kind of historical fiction.
Some of these ideas are very intiguing.

‘The fascists were upset’: radical Austrian fairytales published in English for first time

Hermynia Zur Mühlen was an Austrian writer and translator. She has been characterised as "one of the best known women writers of the Weimar Republic.". A committed socialist from a Viennese aristocratic Catholic family, she was sometimes called the Red Countess.
Hermynia Zur Mühlen

The Princeton University Press has just published a collection of modern fairytales written by a liberal Austrian aristocrat in the 1920s.
Hermynia Zur Mühlen was born in Vienna to a wealthy Catholic family in 1883, but rebelled against her upper-class life to become a prolific left-wing author. 
I once read that, due to their social position, is isn’t that strange that most of the authors of liberal fairytales, which often have a rebellius undertone, were women. Apparently, this is one of those cases.

Could I resist the video fo a German lifestyler who presents the region of the Black Forset in his homeland? Of course not! 

The region of the Black Forest is where my story The Frozen Maze is set. It is not so very far from where I live, but I’ve never been there. So it was fantastic to see the place as seen by a person who appreciates the 1920s like me.


This is absolutely stunning!
I’ve never known that such things existed, and even if it is technically still Steampunk era, I’ve never seen anything so Dieselpunk!

Here is a short article with the original footage.

Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan

RHAPSODY (Mitchell James Kaplan) One evening in 1924, Katharine “Kay” Swift—the restless but loyal society wife of wealthy banker James Warburg and a serious pianist who longs for recognition—attends a concert. The piece: Rhapsody in Blue. The composer: a brilliant, elusive young musical genius named George Gershwin.

One evening in 1924, Katharine “Kay” Swift—the restless but loyal society wife of wealthy banker James Warburg and a serious pianist who longs for recognition—attends a concert. The piece: Rhapsody in Blue. The composer: a brilliant, elusive young musical genius named George Gershwin.

Kay is transfixed, helpless to resist the magnetic pull of George’s talent, charm, and swagger. Their ten-year love affair, complicated by her conflicted loyalty to her husband and the twists and turns of her own musical career, ends only with George’s death from a brain tumor at the age of thirty-eight.

Set in Jazz Age New York City, this stunning work of fiction, for fans of The Paris Wife and Loving Frank, explores the timeless bond between two brilliant, strong-willed artists. George Gershwin left behind not just a body of work unmatched in popular musical history, but a woman who loved him with all her heart, knowing all the while that he belonged not to her, but to the world.

Amazon is turning Simon Stålenhag’s haunting retro sci-fi paintings into a TV series

I discovered Simon Stålenhag’s art many years ago, and I was fascinated from the beginning.
Didn’t know Amazon has produced a series out of his artbooks, though – how naive of me!
Well, yes, I’m a 1980s gal, so probably nostalgia plays its part. But I really find Simon Stålenhag’s painting haunting and surreal, and still very down-to-earth – like the 1980s were, in a sense.
(and I know this has nothing to do with the diesel era, but this time I don’t care!)

Sarah plugs her stuff

I’ll be very honest: August was a hellishly hot month here in Italy, and I malfunction horribly on hot temperatures. So I’m afraid I did very little of what I wanted to do in August. 

New publications

I’ve finished revising Before the First Line just this morning, which means that there’s a good chance I’ll be able to publish it before this month is over.
I’m quite excited, and a bit worried. This will be my first non-fiction book. It’s so different from a fiction book.
But I hope it will be useful for people new to writing. That’s why I’ve written it: I’d love to help newbie writers because I remember what it means going all on your own. 

This means that Living the Twenties will be next. I want to revise it as soon as I can. This will be an extended version of my AtoZ Challenge of this year. I had to leave out so much material and info. It was a crime. So, here it comes the book. 

I’m a bit nervous at the idea of publishing non-fiction books, which is something I’ve never done. But hey! I’ve been publishing historical non-fiction here on this blog for years, and creative writing non-fiction of Medium for a few years too. Why should I worry? Eh?

Instagram Makeover 

I’ve enrolled in Instagram Makeover course, which is absolutely fabulous, let me tell you. 

This is the first time that Instagram (and promoting in general) makes sense to me. All other courses I took explained how we should find our readers’ ‘pain spot’ and solve their problem. That’s how we would sell our books. 

It never made sense to me because, as a fiction author, I don’t see what ‘pain spot’ I might possibly cure. I write for entertainment, not for solving problems. 

But Kat Coroy has a very different approach. She invites us to dig inside ourselves why we do what we do, the very deep reason, and therefore what is the value we are offering because if we put all this effort in our passion, there is a value somewhere. Once we’ve discovered that, we have to seek for the right language to express that passion, in a way that will attract other people who speak the same language, that is, that value the same things we do and offer. Those people will be our tribe. 

Now, this makes sense to me as a fiction author. 

It is a process. It isn’t something that happens in a couple of days, but I’m quite happy with the results so far.

My Instagram account finally looks like an author’s account, and this is already a fantastic result for me. 

I can’t wait to have my feed all new and organised. 

September Hobbit

September is a very special month for us Tolkinites. It is the month of Bilbo’s birthday (#HobbitDay). There will be so many activities going on, and I plan to do my part. 

First, I’m beyond myself because, due to the Covid emergency, the Oxonmoot will be held online this year. This means I’ll be able to attend!!!!!!

The Oxonmoot (the Oxford Convention) is probably the most important for the Tolkien global community. There will be many quality conferences. And hey, in any case, I’ve never attended such a big event online, and I’m quite curious how it will happen. 

I will probably be on the panel of the Tolkienmoot organised by the Eä Tolkien Society of Spokane, Washington (USA). It blew my mind away. 

This is how it happened.

I open my mail one day, and among all the emails there is one about a Tolkien convention. Of course, I open it. I know nothing about the organisation, but they are doing something about Numenor, so you bet I’m interested. But all in all, I think it’s a sort of spamming mail going out to as many Tolkien fan as possible to gather people, until I read: “Embedded in this moot will be our 1-hour Tolkien Society panel discussion with audience, on September 19, from 1-2 pm PST (I believe that’s 10 pm in Italy? Perhaps too late)”.

There I halt. And I think, wait! Are they talking to me?

Indeed they were. They had read my article about the Notion Club Papers on Medium and were asking if I may be interested in sitting on the panel for the convention. 

You bet I am!!!!

So now I’m studying for that. I’m also preparing for another conference online (this one in Italian) on Bilbo’s Birthday (22th September) with a friend of mine, and will probably launch my section about Tolkien of a friend’s platform about bibliotherapy. 

But also, I mean to post a lot of new material on my Medium Middle-earth Literary Gazette. So, if you are interested in Tolkien, have a pick over there. I hope you’ll find something worth reading. 

And so, this is it for this month too. 

Let’s hope for a good autumn, guys. Take care and be safe. 

GANG ROUNDUP (September 2020) A couple of links with reimagined interwar years (and the 1920s) and a few truly awesome videos: The Black Forest, Tales from the Loop and a flying train

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