East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


The World’s Greatest

As I browsed Twitter over breakfast – as one does – I chanced upon a link for a podcast, about … well, about stuff, the description was not that clear. What it was clear was, this podcast was being hosted by the world’s greatest expert in podcasting. It was written there, just like that “the world’s greatest expert in podcasting”. So I guess it had to be true.

Scrolling down, I landed on an ad for a new fantasy series. According to the author, this “most original” book features warriors, wizards, elves, dwarves, and a dragon. I am blown away by the originality.

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Buying fans

A few days ago I decided to invest part of the money I made with my last story sale to buy me a fan. During the last three years both the fans we had here at home died on us, and the one that’s left is one of those huge wind machines they use during concerts to keep the musicians cool on stage under the floodlights. It’s a blast. Literally.

So on Friday I started browsing Amazon, while I transferred some money from my PayPal – where I had been paid for the story – on my credit card, because Amazon won’t accept PayPal, which is a nice little medieval thing, like when the Sultan in Istanbul would not accept the coins of the King of France, but would happily cash in the money from Italian Merchant Republics. Makes you wonder about the future of our civilization, right?
So, I have a credit card I use only for Amazon, and I fund when needed.

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Little unplanned-for adventures

Two nights ago, I sat in the courtyard during one of the most impressive electric storms I ever witnessed. Clouds chased each other in the sky, the roll of thunder echoed over our village, and flashes of light made the countryside and the deserted streets of Castelnuovo Belbo look like a Hammer movie set.
I was half-expecting to see a carriage drive up the lane, carrying Peter Cushing or, with a little luck, Ingrid Pitt.

Instead the night only brought a drop in temperatures, from 40°C to a much more manageable 18°C.

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The strongest emotion is fear and the strongest fear is fear of change

This morning I had another brief but momentous discussion, over a social network, about the menace to our civilization, and more importantly to our livelihood as writers, that are themed calls aimed at specific groups – usually based on gender, ethnicity, age bracket or other such things.

You know, SJWs rampaging in the streets, publishers putting political correctness before quality, the usual load of rubbish. And like in that old Flashman book, “I gave them a fine piece of my mind, but at that point they had already thrown me out on the sidewalk.”
So I decided to write my thoughts here, just so that I can inflict them on you.

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Irony & Pathos

Perceptions are weird.
Various clues seem to point to the fact that, in the local business, I am considered a humorless, almost Vulcan-style, reptilian-like emotionless sort of writer. Or something like that.
Which is, as I said, weird.

Last night I was discussing a forthcoming project and I was told repeatedly

Yes, but it will need some pathos. You need to put some in.

Considering we were discussing a noirish, hard-boiled story, it is obvious that a certain amount of emotional involvement for the reader will have to be in but, as I tried to explain, it’s not like, I sit at the PC and go

Now I’ll do two heavily pathos-laden pages!

Pathos, the appeal to the reader’s emotions, is something that must emerge from the story, given the genre, the style, the themes.
And what the heck, I’m a writer, so that’s what I do.

But again, one year ago, an editor commissioned me a story and then repeatedly reminded me to

Be ironic! The story’s got to have irony!

Which was a given, considering the theme of the project. But there you have it – apparently I am perceived as some sort of word-churning machine, with no emotion, with only word-counts.

But then, just yesterday, an Italian Youtuber did a review of that anthology, and she singled out my story to say “it’s very atmospheric”.
And she did not complain for any lack of irony.
So there.

After all, it’s writing – the story will feature the required emotions and ideas, or simply I will not be able to write it.
As the man said, that’s what I do.

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I’m a winner, I’m a sinner, do you want my autograph?

And yes, that’s a quote from Supertramp’s Breakfast in America – but I’m not going to talk about that (great record, incidentally, part of my growing up etc.).
It’s lunchtime, not breakfast time, and as I’m skipping lunch, I’ve caught a small bit of silly fluff on the socials that made me feel like writing a letter to the director.
As we old people do.

A local influencer posted on Facebook the reason he dislikes ebooks

how do I get an autograph from the author? Do I ask the guy to scrawl his name with a sharpie on my e-reader?

Now that’s a problem, ain’t it?

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Fear of finishing, part 2

And let’s admit it, it is fitting that a post about the endless reworking / rewriting / tweaking / revising we do to our work in order to push the finish line as far as possible should have a second part.
I mean, the first was not quite finished, right?

Well, here is where I talk about academia, roleplaying games, and “the funny incidents that happen when you try and make your living as a writer” (remember? this was the topic of the comic book I was told to start posting instead of these useless words I am putting on my blog and nobody reads anyway).

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