East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Leave a comment

The reader’s block

Yesterday I wrote 12.000 words – yes, OK, I cheated, because I recycled 5000 words from an unfinished work I had here sleeping on my hard disc, but anyway, 7000 words in one day, during which I also managed to read a few chapters of a book, cook dinner and prepare a special dessert this being the 15th of August… well, it perfectly shows how a lack of stress can benefit us all.
Because yesterday I wrote 12.000 words (OK, OK, 7000) because the day before yesterday I delivered the final chunk of my Ghostwriting Job from Hell, and I was told to take two days off “before the next rewrite”.

Having other things on our mind is a source of stress, and it can make it difficult, almost impossible sometimes, to do what we actually like a lot.
And we’ve all had a lot of things on our minds, these last few months.

Continue reading


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when I was living in Turin, I was a regular fixture in a number of bookstores -a few of which have since shut down and been replaced by fashion franchise stores.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


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.


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

Leave a comment

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.


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


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


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!