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Author Blogs

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Seven the hard way


I had it all planned. A new collection of my short stories, six of them, six different genres – a ghost story, a fantasy story, a science fiction story, a western, a mystery/caper story and a historical swashbuckler – and sharing a common theme.My first new book for 2020, it should come out in both English and Italian.Nice and smooth.I only needed a title, and I needed it because it’s complicated pitching a book without a title.Titles are complicated. You need something short, easy to remember, original, that hints at the contents but does not give away the twists and turns…So I made a list of what would be in the book – themes, characters, setting, recurring tropes.I checked the usual sourc...
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The Inn of the Four Winds


I am writing the second novel in the Sabatini sequence – The Ministry of Lightning, that for some obscure reasons (you’ll have to read the book to know) comes after The Ministry of Thunder.Computer mishaps apart, it’s going nicely, with just one problem: I have two prologues.Now, my friend Claire, that is a fine writer, and not a hack like myself, repeatedly told me that novels need no prologue and epilogue, because that’s something that happens in theatre, not in books.But what the heck, I grew up watching James Bond movies, and I like a nice pre-title sequence. To set the scene and mood, to hook the readers, to start with a bang, but also with a few questions.Only, for Ministry II, I have ...
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Why don’t you kill it?


It started when the plastic cap of the oil bottle disappeared.“What the heck…?”We took a look around, and found the cap under a chair, partially eaten.Oh, shucks!Autumn is here, the first showers have hit us, and as usual we have an uninvited guest in our house. Field mice have learned that in the lairs of the Sapiens there’s food, warmth and no rain.So we armed our spring-operated cage, put a piece of cheese crust in it and waited.It actually took us four days, and finally we had to use a small piece of high-end smoked cheese to lure the interloper in, and this morning when I came down for breakfast, there he was, not really pleased, waiting for me in the cage.So we put him outside, where h...
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For nothing, even a dog won’t wag its tail

The title of this piece is a phrase that my mother used to say quite often, and she meant it most of all in a moral, emotional sense: everybody likes to be told they are doing a good job.Everybody likes been told they’re good, they are doing fine, what they are doing is important.Yesterday, out of the blue, I was given the most heartwarming acknowledgement I have received in the last ten years. It was unexpected, instinctive and moving, and it came from an unanticipated direction.It was, I don’t know, maybe ten words and an exclamation mark, but it came in a very bad moment, and it saved my day.Quite a few days, actually.Because we need to feel acknowledged.Granted, we need to pay the bills ...
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  118 Hits

Guilty Pleasures


New anthology featuring a classic novella by Ramsey Campbell… and a short-short story of mine.Stay tuned for more news, and join us at the launch party on October the 5th!Original link
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Things to Come #3 – a new benefit for the 10$ Lounge


As I mentioned, starting with October and my third year on Patreon, I will be offering new perks and benefits to my patrons, both as a way for thanking them for being there, and to try and lure more innocent souls inside my lair. So here’s another peek at how it will be… in the future!I’ve added the podcasts and the Open Outline to the 5 Bucks Brigade level, now it’s time to offer something new and special to the guys in the 10 Bucks Lounge, the brave souls that bet 10 dollars a month on my work.Time to give something back to them.The deal: once very three months, or once per season if you prefer, my 10$ Lounge supporters will be able to send me a short story (10.000 words maximum) or a gami...
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Breathing plastic fumes or going on strike

People are striking all over the planet to attract the attention of the governments on the current climate crisis.In the beautiful hills of Astigianistan Autumn is coming, painting copper and brown the slopes and the valleys, and here I am, lucky bastard that I am, breathing the poisonous fumes escaping from the neighbor’s chimney, because when September comes, they start burning their waste – plastic included – in the home fireplace.My mother called the environmental service because of this problem, back in, I think, 1989. The guy at the other end of the line asked her if the smoke she was seeing was white or black, because if it was not black they couldn’t do anything.My mother, a long-tim...
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Things to Come #2 – all in one image


A recap of what my Patrons will get, starting next month.Please feel free to share.Original link
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It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Original link
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Scheherazade


I’m taking a moment for a brief shout-out to my friend (and sometimes accomplice) Umberto Pignatelli’s latest game, Scheherazade, a roleplaying game that allows you to play into the Arabian Nights.I’ll post a review here as soon as the game is released, but in the meantime, check out the gorgeous cover…Original link
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The Sistine Chapel with crayons


The moment they ask you to write a fantasy short, roughly 6000-words, taking inspiration from Italo Calvino, you sort of feel like you’re looking up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel while holding a pack of eight crayons.And you go, oh, shucks!But let’s make it a little more interesting – not just any story, inspired by Calvino, but a sword & sorcery number, with action, wit and swordplay.Inside a shared world.Do you feel lucky, punk?I did, and then, I needed the money.So I went and wrote The Queen of Spades.I always loved Calvino not just for his imagination and his staggering culture, but for his willingness to play with structure. While he could produce the most straightforward and cle...
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The Autumn of Patreon, episode 1 – Writing on Demand


As I think I mentioned – or I should have mentioned – I’ll devote this autumn to the development and growth of my Patreon. I want more patrons, and I want happier patrons.So I am announcing a number of new perks for those brave souls that decide to gamble a few bucks on me and my writing, and show small glimpses of things to come.The World of Tomorrow, if you will…For instance, You Outline It, I Write It (a.k.a. YOIIWI)Starting in the first week of October, on Tuesday, I will post a short paragraph on my Patreon page, accessible to all my supporters in the Five Bucks Brigade or above.The beginning of a story. Or maybe not a text, but a picture.All my Patrons in the five bucks brigade or abov...
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Always look at mishaps as if they were opportunities


First day with the new Operating System, and while I am well pleased with Linux Mint, I am still unable to run Scrivener, and this means 90% of my work-in-progress is out of reach. All the files are safe and nicely backed up, but I can’t read them, and I can’t work on them.But this provides me with an opportunity – there’s two stories I have in Word format, one I was editing and the other I was translating and re-writing. These are the only ones I can work on at the moment, so I’ll stop procrastinating and I’ll finish the work straight away.Because working on multiple projects at the same time provides us with a fantastic opportunity for procrastination – I’ll work one hour on this one, then...
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Goodbye Ubuntu, welcome Mint


And so this morning my PC refused to start. It took about half an hour to get it going with an emergency disk, and it turned out my Ubuntu system was completely crippled.It was possible to save the data, but everything else was gone – time to re-install the operating system.Now, this is not a tragedy, actually, it’s more of an opportunity – I have been postponing the necessary updates to my OS for weeks now, and really, had I waited for the right moment – a free afternoon, no urgent work to do, no pending projects, I would have never done it.But necessity pushes everything out of the way – I need my PC to work.And this is also a great opportunity to move away from Ubuntu, that I love dearly ...
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Going Stoic

Considering the poor state of affairs of the planet, of the nation in which I live, of the village in which I am stuck and of my general situation, it feels like a good idea to learn more about this Stoicism thing.For this reason, I have just enrolled in the 2019 Stoic Week, a free online course and workshop that next month will help a few thousand people try their hand at the Stoic approach to living.This year’s theme is Care for Ourselves, Others and our World, and sounds like the sort of thing that might become important in the future.The 2019 Stoic Week will run from the 7th to the 13th October.Perfect timing, considering the following week I plan to visit the local Oktoberfest with my b...
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Something light: Surprise Package, 1960


I was ten or twelve years old, and I was in bed with a bad case of the flu, and I caught half a movie on the TV one morning – on the old family Zenith black and white television. It was the end of the ’70s – 1977 or 1979. I watched it – there was Yul Brynner in it, and Yul Brynner was the guy from Magnificent 7 and Westworld, and that movie about the Czar’s daughter my mother liked. Yul Brynner was cool.Later that day, checking the TV listings, I learned the movie was called Surprise Package, and forty years on, last night, I finally watched it form the beginning.Surprise Package was directed in 1960 by Stanley Donen, whose other movies include the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, th...
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Writer


Yesterday it was Friday the 13th and there was a full moon, so I met a friend who’s a fine horror writer and we went for a bite and a long night talking.Of course we would have done it even had it been Monday the 19th and a quarter moon, but the whole day/moon thing was a nice touch.We were assigned table 13 in the diner where we stopped, and that did not escape our notice.As it usually happens in these situations, we ended up talking shop, and the discussion turned to our professional designation. Writer, that is.Now, a common friend just branched out in a new direction, professionally, and he’s quite happy of how things are going. But we know – because he told us – that he’s getting a lot ...
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The League of Extraordinary Lady Writers


Looks like I chose the right time to brush up my French: yesterday, French publisher Les Moutons Electrique (which is the French for Philip K. Dick’s Electric Sheep) announced the launch, in March 2020, of a new line of novels, collectively known as La Ligue des écrivaines extraordinaires – The League of Extraordinary Lady Writers, that is: five novels written by five popular French writers, featuring a bunch of popular writers against a bunch of popular creatures of the night, the lot currently open as a crowdfunding.The titles in the series areAnn Radcliffe versus Dracula, by Bénédicte CoudièreJane Austen versus the Wolf Man, by Marianne CiaudoMary Shelley versus Frankenstein, by Cat Merry...
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From Hell they came…


There was a time, more or less when I was in high-school, when horror was big. And I mean BIG. I have this clear memory of the girls in my high-school class swapping big fat books: Stephen King, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz and V.C. Andrews most of all. There was this sort of underground book club going, and there were always new titles coming, mostly from a paperback publisher called Sperling & Kupfer.Boys did not read, or if they did they went for science fiction or comic books, and fantasy was small and read by both boys and girls, but at least in my biased memory, it was the female of the species that really loved horror novels.The 1970s and 1980s were the Renaissance of the big, fat horror...
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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 ...
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