East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Decompressing in Bloody Scotland

I’m taking the weekend off before I start working on my next project and try to go back to normal(-ish) and find a way to pay the bills, and so today and tomorrow I’ll attend a virtual convention online – listening to crime writers discussing their trade, and other wonders.

Bloody Scotland will be on today and tomorrow, and you can attend most of the events for free. Later this afternoon, both Robert Crays and Lawrence Block will be on. And I’ll be there.
Follow the link to know more – you can still enroll.


Quarantine reads: Cherryh and Hodgell, and Block

I decided I will devote some time in this quarantine period to read three series that have been on my radar for ages, now, and I have always kept for later – one of them, indeed, comes from one of my emergency boxes, the stashes of paperbacks I sometimes buy (especially when I find a good special offer) and save for the hard times.
Well, the hard times are here, so here we go.

I normally don’t like series anymore – as I grow old, I found out I prefer standalone novels, novellas, or series of short stories. But these cases are different. These are three series of which I have already read the first volume, and they are the work of three authors I greatly admire – so, no risk there, right?

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Halloween in an old village

It’s the 31st of October, early afternoon. I’ve just put the chicken and potatoes in the slow cooker, and acknowledged the fact that a story I had submitted in June was rejected. It’s OK. This month I submitted 13 stories, more than reaching my quota.
The sky is battle-cruiser grey, and there is a faint mist that will probably get thicker as the day progresses.

I am taking a couple of days off. There’s a story I should finish but I’ll never make it in time for the deadline. Pity.
The last few weeks have been complicated, and now that the worst part is over, I can slow down a bit and have some fun.

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Writing, magic and everything

The first book I ever read by pulp giant Walter B. Gibson was not a Shadow novel, but a beautiful hardback called The Book of Secrets.


As I think I have mentioned in the past – if I didn’t, I’m doing it now – as a kid, between ten and fourteen, having discovered a big box of magic tricks in my grandmother’s attic, I had developed an interest in stage magic.
I was pretty good at coin, card and sponge balls manipulation, but really I never got anywhere – a modest amateur. But I read a lot of books on the subject, and Walter B. Gibson, to me, was the guy that wrote books about magic I could not read because my English was not good enough.
In the end, my English improved, I stopped doing magic tricks, and I bought me a copy of The Book of Secrets. Continue reading



Yesterday I had a few things to celebrate…
The Tyrannosaurus Tex podcast, of course (despite the fact that they got my name pronounced wrong). New patrons on my Patreon page. And the great start of my worldbuilding course online.
Plus six (SIX!!) new commissions, five for articles and one for a script (my first script).
And it was Saint David, patron saint of Wales.
So I decided to spend some hard-earned cash on a book, and finally got me a copy of Lawrence Block’s Writing the Novel, in its expanded, updated edition.
What a refreshing read! (Yes, I started it straight away) Continue reading

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Lawrence Block’s lives in crime

It has been observed—I forget where or by whom—that only kids have heroes. I’m not entirely sure that’s true, but I do think you have to stop being a fan in order to become wholly a professional. You can continue to admire and delight in the work of another writer, but if you’re slavish in your devotion, if you’re stuck in the role of full-blown fan, your own growth will be limited.

51O0k6c2kXL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I can really relate to that.
It’s taken from The Crime of Our Lives, an excellent book by Lawrence Block, collecting the author’s essays, introductions and columns about his colleagues and his experiences in the field of genre fiction. It is not as one might think, an autobiography (and I realize the title of this post is misleading), but a collection of personal reminiscences about other people1.
It’s quite a good read – but then, I am a fan… or rather, I admire and delight in his work, without giving in to slavish devotion, and I consider Block’s Telling Lies for Fun and Profit one of the best books about writing I ever read2. And I did read a few.

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#PoweredByIndie : I should be writing porn instead

This is the month of the indies, and this is an indie-related post in more ways than one.
I was having a talk with some friends, yesterday, about self-publishing, indie publishing and such, and as it usually happens, recently, we ended up repeating a mantra, a meme of sort that is growing popular by the day in our select circle:

I should start writing porn under an alias

hardatworkWhich, in all likelihood (or at least according to some persistent legend), would be an easier way to pay the bills than writing fantasy, or science fiction, or horror, or westerns, or whatever.

At that point, usually, the party splits in two fields: on one side, there’s the ones that list the technical problems of such a line of action, such as establishing an alias and market the new books; on the other side, there’s the guys that simply say they couldn’t do it because they find porn repulsive, they’d be ashamed of themselves, or the sole idea of writing smut makes them start laughing.

I’m a “I’d start laughing and end up writing a farce” sort of guy, and yet I normally side with the technicalities-minded. Continue reading