East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Writing Advice

As you probably know – or maybe you don’t – I collect books about writing.
I have over one hundred, and in truth I can tell you, there’s a lot of good advice in each and every one of them, even if not a single one is the final world, The Book, the stone tablets of the Law, dictated by the God of Literature Himself.


Right now, I’m having a lot of fun reading Chuck Wendig’s 250 Things You Should Know About Writing that, like all of Chuck Wendig’s writing books, is fun, informative and filled with the sort of common sense and down-to-earth advice that a lot of writing courses seem unable to muster. Continue reading


An unusual writer’s resource – QI

qi-logoIt started because I wanted to dust off my English – because reading and writing is all right, but you need to keep your ear trained for the spoken language.
So I went for a few BBC programs available on Youtube. People talking, with a variety of accents.
Talk shows, comedy shows, and panel shows.

Now, panel shows are something that does not exist in my country.
Basically it is a bunch of guys and girls – usually TV personalities, stand up comedians and actors – sitting around and talking about some kind of subject, following some kind of loose TV game show format.
It was as I was looking for these shows that I discovered one of the best – and most idiosincratic – writer resources on the web.
It’s a show called QI (short for Quite Interesting) and it’s simply great. Continue reading

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Raygun Gothic

So, I did a piece about Raygun Gothic for my Italian blog – why not do another here for Karavansara?

Now, I am not too hot on tags and labels and subgenres.
All the various “-punks” that came after cyberpunksteampunk, dieselpunk, atompunk
OK, they can make itr easier to find a book on a shelf, and make for great parlor games, but obsessing about such stuff is dangerous.

So, if dieselpunk is just pulp misspelled, then raygun gothic is basically atompunk without the rust. Continue reading


Crowdfunding for fun and profit

I am about to launch my first crowdfunding.
Everything’s set, everything’s ready.

As I mentioned in a previous post, some friends had this idea, of setting me up on a crowdfunding platform (Produzioni dal Basso, an Italian website) and then sit back and watch as people throw me change while I write a story.


It was a shock treatment to get me move my backside – I’ve been toying with the idea of crowdfunding or Patreon for almost two years now, and without a good push, I’d probably still be fidgeting.

Instead, now the deed is done.
Or at least, the whole system’s been set up. Continue reading


Writing when you’d rather go for a walk

A short post about writing, sort of a service post, one of those I have decided to enlighten you with my wisdom sort of posts that serious writers do on their million-views blogs.
Blog gurus say that your post, to be effective and successful, must tackle a real-life problem of the readers, and provide a solution.
So, here goes: say that you have to write, and you don’t feel like it.
The clock is ticking, the wordcount-meter is dead, and you’d rather go peel some potatoes for tonight’s dinner than sit at the keyboard and write.
What do you do?

Now, I don’t know what you do, of course – and I’d like to know, so please tell me!
In the meantime, I can tell you what I do.
And maybe what works for me might work for you, too. Continue reading

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A birthday gift: writing on-demand

So it went this way.
For my fiftieth birthday, a lot of friends decided to conspire to get me a birthday gift.
They operated in separate groups, pursuing different aims.
One of the gangs of knaves I call friend had this idea: commission me a story (in Italian) and offer it on a crowdfunding platform.
Neat, what?

And so this is what I will do in the next two months.
In the next ten days, I will study the crowdfunding platform handbook and see what I can and can’t do.
I’m thinking of perks for the backers, extra contents, the works.
If we want to do it, we might as well do it as professionally as possible. Continue reading

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No Sword and No Sorceress

And so I didn’t make it.
I didn’t finish Children of Shadow in time for the Sword & Sorceress submission (12 hours left, not enough).
The fact that I spent the best part of a day walking up and down a golf course is certainly one of the reasons why I wasn’t able to nail the box of the new Aculeo & Amunet story shut.
By the time I was home yesterday night it was well past nine and I was completely spent.

There is a thing I was discussing with my friend Hell Greco1 two nights ago, that really has something to do with the unfinished Aculeo & Amunet story, that I thought may interest someone out there.
Or maybe not, in which case, skip this post. Continue reading