Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Find yourself something to do for the Autumn

I usually point out here on my blog what I think are interesting offers from Humble Bundle – still one of my go-to services to keep my to-read list stocked. The deal is the usual – you get a pack of themed books for real cheap, and you help a charity. Everybody wins.

The latest book selection from Humble Bundle is so quirky and weird I was sure I’d find something interesting – and indeed, the eight volumes you get for 83 euro-cents are already on my hard disk.

This month’s theme is crafts for the autumn.

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Enough Dark Elves to last you a lifetime

The fine folks at Humble Bundle are offering a huge bundle of Forgotten Realms novels, most of which seem to focus on the Underdark and its denizens, the Drow or Dark Elves. As usual part of the proceeds go for a charity.

One buck will net you six titles, and if you go all in and spend 15 bucks, you’ll get 23 books. There’s a whole slew of R.A. Salvatore novels featuring Drow swordmaster Drizzt, plus a few titles from other authors and series.
I admit I am not a fan of R.A. Salvatore, but admittedly I read his books a lifetime ago, and in translation. This is a good opportunity to re-evaluate the bestselling Salvatore. And other books seem promising.

As I mentioned, part of what you pay will go to a charity, in this case Extra Life, that is setting up children hospitals.

And as we are at it, there is also another bundle you might be interested in – up to 26 Warhammer 40.000 ebooks, with the same deal. In this case, the charities supported are two, CLIP and the Every Library Institute.


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What makes us human (hint: it has to do with books)

On my Italian blog I have just posted a rather lugubrious post about the fact that, considering I was walking in Asti’s market square one week ago, and that Asti was a city in which a number of COVID-19 cases have been reported, I am currently counting the days, and feeling a shiver every time I cough or I sneeze.
Did I catch it?
Am I infected?
Will I die?

The virus has a 14-days incubation period, so I am currently halfway through, and counting.

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Three bucks well spent

As I said, after spending a whole day writing, I have no energy for reading, and so I devote my attention to music or movies or TV to decompress after the long day.
But yesterday I blew 3 of my hard-earned euros for something different: a videogame, that hopefully will keep me amused during the quarantine.

As a Linux user, I spent most of the last fifteen years not playing on my PC – if we except playing Go on various online servers. But recently,m through the never-praised-enough Humble Bundle, I was able to restore my ages-old and never used Steam account, and buy a few games for real cheap.
Case in point, my latest purchase – 3 euro and change of Shadowrun Returns.

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The first book of 2020

Last night I splurged 8 of my hard-earned dollars to acquire the first two tiers of the latest Humble Bundle, called 2020 New year, New You – a grab bag of titles on a variety of topics, good as fuel for new year’s personal resolutions – self-help books (from time saving to meditation to retirement plans) and cookbooks (a book of slow cooker recipes!), writing handbooks and a thesaurus, books about bucket lists and other wonders. These sort of bundles usually capture my fancy, because they feel like going through a bookstore filling a basket with stuff that makes me go “wow, that’s interesting!”
My 8 bucks contributed to help a charity (in this case, Every Child a Reader), and bought me 16 very different books.
I was particularly interested in the cookbooks, in the memoir by a former undercover detective, and in the writing handbooks.
The first I started was therefore David Morrell’s The Successful Novelist.

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Doing business the punk way

While I like the metaphor of the writer as liar and cheat, as stage magician and cat burglar, there is no denying that, as a writer, I am a business. I am a one-man company that builds stories, and then sells them. Sometimes I sell to publishers, that (hopefully) will take care of the marketing and distribution of my work, sometimes I am a self-publisher, meaning that “my company” has to handle most of the aspects of distribution and marketing of the specific products. In both cases I need to be able to keep my company going. Build more stories, develop my brand and expand my reach, find new clients.
Not necessarily the part that I like of being a writer.

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Books about writing

I collect books about writing. I have at this point over 120 different titles on the subject, many in digital form, many in hard copy. Some of them are more useful than others, some of them are more entertaining than others, some of them I like better than others, each and everyone contains at least a little nugget of something that (I hope) helped me get better at the craft.
I don’t think you can learn everything from a handbook, but maybe from a few dozens of them you’ll get enough tools to put together your own toolbox.

This morning I learned about the Humble Book Bundle “Write like a Writer”, and I happily shelled out 80 eurocents for the basic tier of the offer. The basic level includes a book I already own and that I highly recommend, The Tao of Writing, by Ralph L. Wahlstrom. This title alone is worth the expense. The rest is a selection of interesting How To books covering a few topics I am not very familiar with (like screenwriting) and a few I am familiar with (like writing non-fiction) that might still improve with the addition of new information.

Anyone willing to pay the full 15 bucks for the complete set will end up with 26 writing handbooks, and at that point they’ll have to chose whether to read or to write, but that’s always the problem, isn’t it?

Part of the money spent on the bundle goes to the National Coalition Against Censorship, and I think that’s a good thing, too.

The offer lasts two weeks. Check it out.