East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Jake Bible on being prolific

four-weeks-cover-finalYou know me – I love (and sometimes hate) writing handbooks and books about writing in general. I have a huge collection and the fun thing is, there is a nugget of wisdom even in the most trite and blah of the How to turn yourself into a novelist books.
I especially like books written by authors I respect and whose fiction I love: Lawrence Block, Holly Lisle, Ursula K. Le Guin, Rachel Aaron, Chuck Wendig…
Or Jake Bible.
And I just got his Four Weeks to Finished, that is the sort of agile, no-nonsense book I expected from him.
If, as it looks, I’ll have to ramp up my production in the next weeks and months in the hopes of keeping my house from being repossessed, I know Jake Bible is the one that will provide some solid facts and a working method.

So, while I read the book (there go my carefully-planned writing schedules), you take a look at Jake’s page – and check out his podcast, while you are there.


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Dian of the Lost World

FFM194904-sterne-stevensWriting about Garr the Cunning (yes, the story is still in the works) was a good opportunity to refresh my caveman pulp readings.
Manly Wade Wellman’s Hok the Mighty, of course, and Burrough’s Cave Girl and assorted Pellucidar titles, but also a a few books that had so far slipped under my radar.
I was particularly pleased – and vaguely disappointed – discovering Dian of the Lost Land, a lost world novel first published in the 1920s, and variously reprinted, most famously in the April 1949 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries, with a cover by Lawrence Sterne Stevens that certainly sold a few extra copies. Continue reading

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A Handful of Men

9781504047128_p0_v1_s192x300Last night I invested 2.99 bucks in an ebook bundle on Amazon. I was celebrating the sale of my pitch for my new monster novel, and felt like splurging.
So I bought myself the complete A Handful of Men by Dave Duncan. Four novels, over 1500 pages.
Born in 1933, Scottish-born Canadian author Duncan started publishing in the mid’80s, a fact that I have also found inspiring and reassuring – he started “old”, but he’s been able to line up over fifty novels, and collect a few awards.
It can be done.
Also, he is a geologist – just like me.
It can be done by geologists. Continue reading


The sleep of reason generates monsters

il-sonno-della-ragione-2-1And now something special.
My cellmate Alex Girola is expanding into the world of indie gaming, and I just got my copy of Il Sonno della Ragione (The Sleep of Reason), a neat little game that’s so cool, I blackmailed Alex into allowing me to contribute material.
And while the Mana Brothers are hard-at-work already on a set of scenarios, we are also discussing an English edition of the game.
It would be cool.
So consider the following a sort of preview. Continue reading



Translating Lavie Tidhar’s wonderful Central Station brought back memories of C.L. Moore’s Shambleau.
Easily one of the most influential short stories in the history of science fiction, Shambleau was published in 1933 in Weird Tales. It introduced the character of Northwest Smith and more importantly created the alien, parasitic Shambleau and its mythos. Continue reading

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A novel about a writer (not) writing a novel

Today I took the day off – I did not write, I did not translate, I did not teach. I did not plot, I did not outline, I did not pitch.
I slept late this morning, I went to the supermarket soon after lunchtime, and then I spent the day reading.
And if it is true that I feel guilty – because money is tight, and I need to work work work to cover my bills – on the other hand it is indispensable to pause once in a while. I already talked about this in the past: fatigue, burnout, anxiety fits… it is not fun.
You have to learn to pace yourself, like Billy Joel used to sing. Continue reading

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Of book bundles and past traumas

I feel like reading. A lot.
I’m actually reading three books at the same time, like I did back when I had more free time and less worries.
It’s good – I’m recharging my batteries, getting ready for another burst of activity: more stories (I’m late fulfilling my promises to myPatrons!), new/old projects getting refurbished, stuff to be done, more courses.
But right now, I’m reading. A lot.

And as I mentioned in the past, initiatives like Humble Bundle and StoryBundle are great if you want to stay well stocked with reading material while spending just a few bucks, with the added bonus of doing some charity. Continue reading