East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Let somebody else do the thinking

About twenty years ago (my goodness, is it really been this long?) while my mother was resting after a major surgery event, she used to spend her afternoons watching German-produced TV movies based on the novels by Rosamunde Pilcher. She said she found the locations beautiful, and the stories were engaging, “even if in the end they are all the same story.”

I sat with her on a few of these afternoons, and at a certain point, I picked up a notebook and started sketching a diagram – I had seen three movies, and they all shared the same structure, that I could sketch quite easily. I made a point of catching a few others and yes, there was a formula, not only in the sequence of events, but in the characters and their relations. Just as in the Commedia dell’Arte or in any good pantomime, the cast was the same, the roles were the same, the interactions were the same.

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Rayne Hall’s Author Branding – a review

Book pre-orders – I love them. It’s one of the perks of following a writer: you sometimes get the chance to pre-order their books, maybe save a few bucks, and you feel sort of special. For a lot of strange reasons pre-orders are not that popular in my country, and whenever I tried to set-up a pre-order for my books the results were underwhelming. But as a reader, provided I’ve the money on my credit card, tell me where I need to sign.

Case in point, Rayne Hall’s latest writer-oriented handbook. I have half a dozen of her previous handbooks, and they are great: short, focused and to the point, very practical, very savvy, fun to read and useful. When I got the opportunity of pre-ordering Author Branding, I just clicked on the button. Now it’s here, and I have spent some time before dinner to dig in, and then changed my schedule for the rest of the evening: editing can wait, I want to read this baby to the end.

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Books (and art supplies) for fighting

I’m reading a lot about writing these days.
Helps keep my mind off the Italian political situation.
But let’s not get into that.
I’m re-reading a number of books about fighting – because the sort of stories I write sometimes… heck, often feature a few rounds of fighting.
Bladed implements, usually, are involved.


And I’m not very good at writing fight scenes.
But I’m improving, and here’s my essential bookshelf of fighting references for writers. Continue reading


Getting to grips with Twitter – part one

41LRx+h-EsL._AA160_Yesterday I got me a copy of Twitters fro Writers, by Rayne Hall.
Basically, I have a very conflicting (meaning, messy and discontinuous) relationship with Twitter, and I enjoy very much Rayne Hall’s books – both her fiction and non-fiction.
So, it was not a hard decision.

My main problem with Twitter comes from the fact that I never really studied the thing – I browsed a few tutorials, but I never sat down to learn the ropes. Continue reading