Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Things readers do: the wonder box

download (2)Compulsive book-buying.
Are you familiar with the phenomenon?
Now, ever since I moved to the wild hills of Astigianistan, I drastically reduced my trips to the bookstore, but back when I was living in Turin, I was a regular fixture in a number of bookstores -a few of which have since shut down and been replaced by fashion franchise stores.
I’d go in for a look at the shelves, and usually get out with two or three paperbacks.
I am a very curious sort of person, so my book bag would include fantasy novels, mysteries, history and science essays, media essays and the classic “hey, look at this thing! I wonder what’s inside… wow, only five bucks!”

Amazon did just make excess buying easier, and ebooks made it cheaper and faster.
Thank goodness I’m broke and bankrupt, or I’d be still spending money on books. But on the other hand, now I get them from free promotions, and in bundles and discounts.
More books than I can read – and before I’m gone through this last bundle, there will be more accumulating!
So, here’s a thing I started doing back when I was in my first year of university. Continue reading


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How to keep reading while broke

Reading is a vice, a habit that is hard… nay, it’s impossible to lose.
I’ve been a reader all my life, I started at six and never came back. Comics, novels, non-fiction, magazines, blogs, the sides of corn flakes packets…
When I was in high school I skipped lunch to save money for books. But it was easy, because I knew I’d find dinner prepared when I got back home.
When I finally got a paying job, I set myself a monthly allowance for books.  Something around 100 euro – which means five hardbacks, or eight/ten paperbacks, or a whole lot of ebooks per month.
When the going got rough, around 2014, I cut that back to fifty quids, then to twenty. And that allowance had to make room for Kickstarters, too.
Then, back in May this year, things turned real bad, and I was at 0 money for entertainment – because putting bread on the table and paying bills was more important that buying books.

why-youre-broke

Basically it meant going cold turkey.
But not really. I found a way around that, too, and kept reading.
Now things are better, I have a 10 quid monthly allowance for my books, and what follows is a list of strategies I used and I am using to keep reading while broke. How to get my fix, if you will.
Maybe someone is interested.
And you are invited to add your tricks and tactics to save on books in the comments.
Let’s go. Continue reading


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Why do you read thrilling adventures and wild stories?

It started with my friend Claire’s latest post – which you can find here.
Go read it.
Done?
Fine.

egypt

Contrary to what Claire seems to think, science fiction and fantasy writers get asked quite often why they write what they do.
It’s even worse for horror writers.
Adventure writers tend to get a lot of blank stares.
In general, should you ever reveal to your friends and acquaintances that you are a writer1 and write imaginative fiction, you’ll get asked, basically

Why?!

The answer, of course, is usually that we write what we like to read. Continue reading


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Days Off

cover72774-mediumI’ve been writing a lot these last few weeks, and so I’m taking a short vacation.
A busman’s holiday, you might say – I took the weekend off to write without plan… no outlines, no pitches, no planned cover, no contract.
Just writing – because I still find it fun, after all, and it must stay fun.
A little like somebody going to work every day on a bicycle can find solace in a bicycle trip in the hills on a Sunday.
And today, I’m taking the afternoon off to read an intriguing little book – the cover of which you see here on the right. A pretty pulpy number – shades of Holmes, Dracula and Doc Savage…
More news tomorrow.
Have fun!


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Reading for writing

41I5CmtqNWL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_On the subject of writing handbooks, I think I already expressed my unorthodox views – as far as I’m concerned, if it works for you it’s fine.
Me, I collect the things – and my friends know, and often give me writing books for my birthday, or for Christmas.

One thing I think is a pity is, most writing handbooks are written with the absolute beginner in mind – they spend all of the time talking about Point of View, Show Don’t tell, Infodumps and Exposition, and then maybe they give us the short version of the Hero’s Journey.
Nothing really wrong with that but, ok, let’s say I got that part by the time I was 16 and by the time I was 20 I had learned – thanks to authors like Tom Robbins or Elmore Leonard or Lawrence Block or Karl Hiaasen – that all of that stuff was good and fine and writing was something else altogether.

So I do collect writing books, but I really really cherish advanced books.
And I was given one for my birthday – it’s called Narrative Design: working with imagination, craft and form, it was written by Madison Smartt Bell, and it is a book about reading. Continue reading