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Reading on Latin obscenities

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As I crawl towards my fifty-first birthday, friends are starting to hit me with gifts. Books and records, mostly, because they know what I like. And so here I am with a small booklet that promises to up my game in a very specific field – that of ancient profanities. Come insultavano gli antichi, that is How the ancients insulted is a small collection of profanities, extracted from Greek and Latin sources, showing a fine (well, maybe fine is not the right word) selection of bad words and obscene phrases. Saying bad words in Greek and Latin the subtitle reads, and the book does in fact include the original texts for reference. Time to finish this one, and I think I’ll be ready for another post...
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Serendipity of sorts: the Thirty Years War

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“See you in Prague,” Graham Nash used to say – and today marks the 400th anniversary of the Defenestration of Prague, a rather obscure to most but pretty violent episode of European History that traditionally marks the start of the Thirty Years War. Now, I am quite fond of the Thirty Years War, and this despite the fact that It’s certainly one of the most complicated bits of European history from a political and logistic point of viewItalian students are forever put off that period of our history thanks to the mandatory study of Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed, a classic of Italian literature that takes place at the time of the Thirty Years War and that in the hands of a less-than-adequat...
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Arthur Conan Doyle’s Mummies

It is Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday! The man that gave us Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger deserves a little celebration, and what better way to celebrate a storyteller than through his stories? So here we go – a Ladybird Horror Classic, The Mummy, based on ACD’s own Lot n. 249. Enjoy! And here you can get the original , as an illustrated PDF, as published by Harper’s Magazine.   Original link
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A few nights with the Ace of Wands

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A few nights ago, for the usual reason that I was suffering from one of my bouts of insomnia, I went browsing on Youtube, looking for something interesting. In particular, I was looking for episodes of a very old British TV series called The Tyrant King, that I saw as a kid and which is part of those many shows that influenced my growth (or lack thereof), it being a mystery/espionage story featuring a T. Rex. I was able to find very little on Youtube, but through a succession of links and cross-references and spurious serendipity, I discovered Ace of Wands, which is something I am sure some old friend mentioned twenty-odd years ago, but here I am now, and the series had been keeping me compa...
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Good for the brain

Excellent old article from LifeHacker The Psychological Benefits of Writing Regularly Original link
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Where Ideas Come From: Blunderbuss

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or if you follow my other blog, or are on my Patreon, you know that I usually have a lot of projects going at the same time. Writing, translating, courses. My timetable is in a constant state of flux, and projects get announced, started, sidetracked, shelved, rebooted, cancelled 1 , dropped, picked up, dropped again, etcetera. The main reason for this is, bills keep coming, and with them the financial ghosts my late father left behind, that appear in the mailbox once every few months, unexpectedly, and set us back a few hundred euros for overdue taxes, unpaid fines or what. So, paying projects are priority. Always. And projects that do not pay fo...
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No hangout tonight

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I was planning a hangout session with my English-speaking patrons tonight, but I got no response. My fault – too little advance time, and probably a time window that, by trying to satisfy everybody, it did actually satisfy no-one. Oh, well, there will be more opportunities. In the meantime, I am getting ready for a public writing session – this time in Italian, and hosted (so to speak) by an Italian ebook-enthusiast Facebook group. To make things a little trickier, I asked the guys in the group to pitch in with story prompts. The one that will get more votes is the one I will write, in Italian. And as we are talking about writing in Italian… It’s been suggested to me that I do translate into...
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On The Expanse

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I guess you guys out there have heard about the big noise that started when SyFy announced it was dropping The Expanse, the series based on James A. Corey’s novels and now in its third season. The fans really got militant on that one, and I feel rather bad because I am a big fan of both the novels and the series, and sitting here in this corner of the universe, I’m pretty cut off from a lot of the action. Sure, I signed the petitions, and withstood the blank stares of my friends that basically don’t get it (more about that later on) when I told then You should watch it!. But it’s a little too little. This post will not make things different, but at least I’ll give me the opportunity to point...
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ODQ #4

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New pitch and an old masterwork

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I’m currently working on a new pitch – a very long shot, this one, about which the less said the better. An alternate history crossed with a supernatural horror/dark fantasy. The call has some very specific elements, and somehow it got me thinking of vampires and King Arthur. Pendragon… Dracula… I’m using Son of the Dragon as a working title. So I’m jotting down ideas, but in the meantime I was reminded of the beautiful The Dragon Waiting, one of the best fantasy novels I ever read. It was published in 1983, and written by John M. Ford, that always struck me as an author deserving of more success. The novel, subtitled A Masque of Time won the World Fantasy Award for best novel, but never rec...
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How to write without inspiration (sort of)

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My friend Yuri hates me, or so he says. The problem emerged after my public writing session last week. Basically I sat down for five hours typing, and two days later I had a story to sell 1 . Yuri mentioned on Facebook the fact that he’d been staring at a blank page for a while, and therefore he hates me. My answer to that was that he’d spent too much time thinking. You’ve got to start typing, I said. If after five pages you still don’t know where your story is going, then you have a problem. Another friend of mine, Paolo, butted in, saying that following my rule, he’d never have written one of his recent stories – a big hard sf tale. A good starting point for a discussion, but Facebook is n...
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This might be fun…

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Missed posts, books and hangouts

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And so I missed a post, yesterday. Boy I hate it when it happens – it broke a streak that had lasted more than two months. Drat! But I’ve been busy – I’ve spent most of the day editing and setting a new book that will be out soon, in Italian: a collection of eccentrics and their adventures. Strictly non fiction, what I usually call pulp history – spies, adventurers, loose women. This will be a 280-pages paperback, fully illustrated – and putting it together, and clearing the typos and everything else took all of the day. Now Amazon has it. The book was overdue – I had announced it for Christmas, and never got around to finishing the design work. Then, Saturday night, during my hangout with m...
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In Cairo with OSS 117

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Strangely enough, secret agent 117 was born four years before secret agent 007. It was 1949 and French writer Jean Bruce published Tu parles d’une ingénue, the first of the eighty-eight novels he’d write featuring agent OSS 117 before dying an untimely death in 1963. At this point, his wife Josette took over, penning another 143 volumes in the series between 1963 and 1985. At that point, Josette’s daughter Martine took over, and wrote the remaining 23 books in the series, between 1987 and 1992. Through a total of 254 novels, Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, an American of French descent, born in Louisiana, goes from working for the Office of Strategic Services to the CIA and finally the NSC, bas...
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She Who Mauls

she who mauls
The story that started its life as The Boy’s Night Out is now available, after a quick editing and some revision, as She Who Mauls , via Gumroad. The ebook will not be published on Amazon. I decided to put it up as a Pay What You Want ebook – after all, it was born as a publicity stunt, I’ll keep using it as a publicity vehicle. You can get the story for free, or set the price you think is right. Check it out! Original link
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Shackleton

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Of Seances and Egyptian Goddesses

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And so we did it. Oh, what a night! (yes, just like the old Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons hit.) Part 1 – The Seance Google Hangouts acted up a bit during my hangout session with my Italian supporters from Patreon. A lot of “Can you hear me?” “Are you there?” “I can Hear you, can you hear me? Give me a sign if you can…” Next time we’ll use a Ouija Board. And there will be certainly a next time, because it was a lot of fun and, for me, a mighty injection of good cheer and positive attitude. Writing, we have said it before I think, is a lonely business, and we often wonder at what’s happening out there, with our readers. Well, Patreon and this hangout thing is certainly helping bring writers...
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Writing in Public: The Boys’ Night Out

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Here we go, we are about to begin, the Google Doc is up, and I am wriggling my fingers before I start typing. One problem, two characters, three thousand words. Will I make it? Well, I’ll try my best. If you feel like watching and see what it looks like FOLLOW THIS LINK  (I removed the link at the end of the five planned hours) Original link
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Twelve hours to go

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Tonight’s the night. No, not a rather sucky and sinister Rod Stewart song. At 9 PM, local time, I will set up a hangout with my Italian Patrons, to have a chat after months the guys support me. I’m really excited about this, because I owe big time to these people, and it will be great to finally talk to them, and discover what they like, what they think. It will also be a way out of this hole of a backwater country village in the Astigianistan hills. I can’t wait. Then, at the stroke of midnight (actually 11 PM UTC), I’ll fire up Google Docs, and I’ll do my first session of public writing. One-Two-Three: One problem, Two characters, Three thousand words. So here’s some preliminary notes on h...
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Pulp History: The Zanzibar Hoax

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