East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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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.

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A criminal birthday

This year my birthday came twenty-eight days earlier than expected, thanks to the generosity of my brother and an unexpected Humble Book Bundle. As I mentioned in the past, the Humble Bundle is a great way to keep reading quality books while being broke – usually with as little as 80 eurocents you can get a handful of books in a variety of subjects (both a blessing and a curse if you are an omnivorous reader or just plain curious about a lot of different things), and at the same time help a charity.

And today I was notified the start of the bright new Pulp Fiction Humble Bundle, in collaboration with Titan Books and Hard Case Crime, and even before I checked the contents I knew I was in for a purchase.

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88 cents of dystopia

Well, isn’t it a bummer: I had just time to discuss with some of my friends about how I do not like dystopian science fiction (I’m more of a positivist, optimist sort of guy), that the Humble Bundle went and did a Dystopian Worlds book bundle offer, and I ended up shelling out 88 hard-earned eurocents. And then I thought you might like to take a look at it. So here is the link.

For 1 dollar, or the equivalent 88 cents of a euro, you get an incredibly good selection of great books:

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Unexpected book haul

android-developmentYesterday we had a little celebration, because yesterday my brother got his Nanodegree as an Android Software Developer, a professional certificate he’d been working on now for two years thanks to a Google scholarship he was awarded.
It was hard work, and there were a lot of frustrating moments because we live at the edge of the map, and there were often some very silly hang-ups; for instance, yesterday my brother had problems actually getting his certificate because the delivery system required a photo of his digital ID Card, but hereabouts we are still routinely issued with a non-digital, paper ID card. You can see how crazy it is.

I am very proud of my kid brother’s achievement, and I hope this new professional qualification will give him a ticket out of Astigianistan.
Anyway, we had a celebration (we also plan a night out and a dinner, but that’s yet to come), and I ended up splurging on some books, and as it usually happens, I bought more books for myself that I did for the guy that was the one being celebrated.
So here’s a quick overview of my unexpected book haul, that doubles as a collection of recommendations. Continue reading

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The Keyword is Survival on the New Frontier

A brief post to point out the latest offering from Humble Bundle, the aptly named Survive Anything bundle, featuring books by Skyhorse Publishing.
For a very small price you’ll be able to download a full library of survival-oriented handbooks – the lowest rung, that will cost you a buck, includes a general survival handbook, a first aid handbook, and five other interesting titles.
The complete package will set you back fifteen bucks, but will land you 23 books, including guides to homesteading, and survival guides from both the Army and the Navy.


Now I’m not the survivalist type – but I like hiking and stuff, and therefore the first aid book is something I’m likely to keep on my smartphone. Ditto the guide about getting lost and getting found again.
Also, I am a writer, and a writer of adventure – and the skills in these books are the sort of skills my characters have or need to learn fast to survive what I put them through. So, research!

You might have different interests, but give the bundle a look – as an added bonus, your money will help the International Rescue Committee.
And I have to admit that helping International Rescue sends a shiver through my old Thunderbirds fan bones.

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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