East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Guest Post: an Overview of the Italian indie ebook market, pt. 4

Like that guy used to sing, this is the end, and my friend Marina has some final observations about the Italian Indie Ebook Market, and its denizens.

guestpostfeatAnd as two of those denizens, both Marina and I feel very strange about this whole situation. Because we are writers, and writing is what we do.
And seeing the bad state of the market in which we – more or less – live, is a source of pain and of depression.
If it’s so bad why do you keep writing and self publishing?, you might ask.
Because, as Donald Fagen said when he channeled Ray Charles, that’s what I do.

Thank you for reading these posts, and thanks to Marina for writing this chillingly accurate overview.
One last time into the fray, my brave!
Enjoy! Continue reading

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Guest Post: an Overview of the Italian indie ebook market, pt. 1

My friend Marina blogs in Italian and English in her Space of Entropy, and is a fine writer with a number of great self-published books. She is also notorious for her habit of telling things as they are, and not as they should be. An attitude much appreciated by the Devil, if you remember your J.B. Cabell.

guestpostfeatSo when she told me she was writing an overview of the Italian indie book market, I asked her if she was willing to publish the first draft of her work on Karavansara. Marina was so kind she accepted, and here is the first installment of this fine article, that will keep us reading for the whole weekend.

In thanking Marina for her kindness, I think I’ll point out that I have encountered much if not all the horrors she describes.
So here we go – enjoy, please don’t laugh too loud, have pity for our plight and please comment if you feel like. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Different Approaches to Deal with Writer’s Block as a Freelancer Writer

[A guest post from my friend Veselina Dzhingarova, on a pretty popular topic. Isn’t it great when we have friends that can provide us with posts while we are busy writing? Enjoy!]

There’s a healthy debate about the merits of writer’s block and whether it even exists. Writer Jerrold Mundis once offered a course teaching freelance writers and novelists how to avoid getting blocked and then how to get unblocked if they did. Indeed, he wrote a book on the topic even though he himself doesn’t believe in the concept of writer’s block. However, when you have it, you don’t doubt that it’s real!

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If you’re stuck in this predicament, then here are a several approaches to try to get out of this frustrating state.

Change Your Setting

One of the best ways to get out of your head and potentially end the inability to write is to take a vacation. Perhaps visit one of the Minnesota resorts which offer a comfortable setting and a swimming pool to relax in giving you time to read quietly or get lost in your thoughts. If you’ve been suffering from an inability to get anything down on paper or via a Word processor, then you may have stopped reading too. Being away, you can safely let your guard down to enjoy other peoples’ writing which you might find inspiring.

The Park Rapids Lake area is popular with locals and visitors from other states who enjoy the biking paths, riding over uneven terrain on an ATV, and the lake access throughout Minnesota. The Itasca State Park with the impressive Mississippi River nearby offers plenty to see and do; it’s considered the best state park in Minnesota and not to be missed. Lose yourself to find yourself once again!

Remove the Mental Obstacles

When you’re trying to write a novel or an impressive article for a national magazine, fear can paralyze you. The thought of writing a 4,000-word piece for a magazine’s editor-in-chief or an 100,000+ word fantasy novel is sometimes too much to get your head around. If you’re not careful, not starting can create enough inertia to paralyze you into a fixed state.

If this is your type of writer’s block, then the best way to handle it is to remove the mental obstacles. Forget about the length of the article or the book. Instead, break it down into sections (or chapters) and then into mini-sections. You can even make bullet points for each section or paragraph. Once this is done and you’ve reviewed it to ensure it’s a satisfactory plan, you can then mentally prepare to write the first small part of it.

When you’re thinking only about completing that section by following the bullet points you’ve already written down, you’re preventing fear from rising up and stopping your actions.

Try Your Hand at Freewriting

Freewriting is another way to get out of writer’s block. Think of this as an exercise just to get yourself to start writing again. It doesn’t really matter what you write, but the process of getting the creative writing juices flowing helps you when you wish to return to your own projects or those of your clients.

Just choose a strong emotion, a story theme, or a place. Sit down and write something about them. It can be anything. The quality doesn’t need to be great and no one is going to see it. When you’re free to write what you like with zero pressure or expectations, it can remove blockages that were holding you back. Make sure you have a quiet place to work that doesn’t have any distractions and if you prefer some background music, then select a piece you like to soothe your anxieties away.

Ultimately, getting out of writer’s block is as much a mental game as anything else. If you’ve suffered from it before and you developed techniques that sometimes helped you escape it, then give them another try. Otherwise, the ideas shared above might solve the problem for you too.


Revive the Drive: an interview with Lesley Conner, Apex Magazine’s managing editor

It is a commonly accepted fact that if you are reading genre fiction, and you want to keep up with the state of the art, and see new ideas and trends as they are born and evolve, the latest award-winning novel is OK, but you really have to read the short the stories that are being published in the magazines.
That’s where the new and exciting stuff happens.
Apex Magazines is one of the places where new and exciting things are happening right now, and they are relaunching their subscription drive these days – they are calling it Revive the Drive.


Subscriptions are what keeps a magazine alive, and keeping Apex alive is a good thing. More magazines on the market means more outlets (and opportunities) for authors, more diversity, a healthier market, and more stories for the readers.
So here is where I say Go and Subscribe to Apex!, but there’s more – first, because in the Revive the Drive Store you’ll find not only subscription opportunities but also books from the Apex Book Company, goodies and even some special opportunities if you are a writer.
Second, because Lesley Conner, Apex Magazine’s managing editor, has been so kind she answered a few questions of mine about her magazine, her job, her experiences, and a few fun facts.

Go on and read the interview below.
And then Go and Subscribe to Apex! Continue reading