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Write or Die


As I think I mentioned a while back, one of those “memories” that Facebook serves us daily to make us feel miserable (that’s my explanation of this “feature”) made me aware of the fact that in 2019, by the 15th of August, I had submitted 55 short stories and articles to various magazines and anthologies.By August the 15th 2020 I had only submitted 33.That scared me as hell. It was a sign of the HUGE amount of time I had wasted (so to speak) to follow the ghostwriting job from Hell that, as I mentioned a few days back, ended this September, with me not being paid.I was also scared because a drop of 40% submissions could be a sign I was losing my ability to write a lot, and write fast – and by...
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Lupin the 3rd – The First


I had heard about the new, 3D CGI animated movie in the Lupin the 3rd franchise about one year ago – more or less when I learned of the death of Monkey Punch, the artist and writer of the original manga from which the character was derived. I was curious about the movie, but for a number of reasons, I had no opportunity to watch it.Until last night. Lupin the 3rd: The First opens with a pre-titles scene set in France at the end of World War 2: as the Nazis storm the residence of noted archaeologist Professor Bresson, he entrusts a mysterious diary to his daughter; as the woman tries to get away with her husband and their infant daughter, they are involved in a car crash and only the child su...
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Geishas, real women, and Lovecraft Country


It was weird, in a way, watching the sixth episode of Lovecraft Country, last night. One of the two best episodes in what I still feel like an uneven series, fraught with some “typical” HBO problems, Episode Six is set in Korea during the Korean War, and centers on a local girl in love with American movies, and serving as a nurse in an hospital. I won’t say more not to spoil you the fun. What made the experience surreal was that I had spent part of the day,so to speak, in Korea – first, re-watching the classic Train to Busan for the next episode of the podcast I co-host with my friend Lucy, and secondly because I’ve been reading a very interesting book that puts everything in a different per...
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In Egypt with Belzoni


Now that I am free of the work for my Client from Hell and missing my payment (oh, the bank will love it!), I can start work on a new project whose contract I signed last week – an historical adventure, featuring the Great Belzoni. In cased you missed him – hard, considering he was six foot seven inches tall, and wide in proportion – Giovanni Battista Belzoni was an Italian former student of divinities, adventurer, antiquarian, hydraulic engineer, egyptologist, stage magician and fairground strongman, that soon after Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt conducted a series of excavations along the Nile – basically because his work as an hydraulic engineer for the local administration had fizzed. Belz...
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Decompressing in Bloody Scotland


I’m taking the weekend off before I start working on my next project and try to go back to normal(-ish) and find a way to pay the bills, and so today and tomorrow I’ll attend a virtual convention online – listening to crime writers discussing their trade, and other wonders. Bloody Scotland will be on today and tomorrow, and you can attend most of the events for free. Later this afternoon, both Robert Crays and Lawrence Block will be on. And I’ll be there.Follow the link to know more – you can still enroll. Original link
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Still, I live!


Today was not a good day.First, three of my recent submission were rejected – with very nice rejection mails, but there you are.Then, the ghostwriting client I’ve been working for in the last few months candidly told me he will pay the last instalment of my due if and when his book will be published. This means waiting three to six months – in the best hypothesis. I pointed out that this way I’ll be unable to pay my mortgage this winter, and he shrugged.That’s my problem, he said.He’s not wrong. I often compare this writing business to a roller-coaster ride. In this sense, today is like the moment the wagon gets stuck upside-down, and they have to come and take you to safety using a crane.I’...
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Terry Goodkind (1948-2020)


I am saddened at the news of the passing of noted fantasy writer and certified bestseller author Terry Goodkind. While I had enjoyed Wizard’s First Rule, the first volume in his Sword of Truth series, I was never a fan of his work – and yet, my personal tastes and opinions aside, this is another great loss for the fantasy field. Original link
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Charles R. Saunders (1946-2020)


I have just learned of the passing away, early last week, of Charles R. Saunders, the author whose Imaro was the first character in a fantasy genre that would come to be known as Sword & Soul, and whose catalog included some of the best fantasy produced in the second half of the 20th century. I am absolutely devastated – no more than two weeks ago, I was suggesting Charlse Saunders’ books to a contact that was looking for some different take in sword & sorcery – and the recent reprint of the first Imaro book was just what he needed. For me, Imaro was, with Elric, the first sign that there was life beyond Conan, and I still have my trade paperback of the first volume. It’s time for a thorough...
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Witches


One of the good things I managed to do this month has been delivering (finally) the translation of my friend Francesca’s book about witches in Lombardy. Now the translation is in her hands – she’ll have to check I got all the plant names and other technicalities right, and then the book will hit the Amazon shelves.We hope to have it out by Halloween. The book is quite interesting, as it is a mix of brief essays and short stories, providing insight on many of the stories and legends – but also historical facts – about witchcraft in Northern Italy and in particular in Lombardy and in the Lake Como area. When the book becomes available, I’ll make sure to put a shout-out here on my blog – this h...
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Writing stories as a kid


I found this incredible video this morning, in which Mary Robinette Kowal illustrates her approach to writing short fiction. It was something I fired up while taking a break for breakfast, and I found myself taking notes. Because it was that good. But apart from the excellent content, there was something else that gave me pause: the lesson was presented in front of a room full of kids. As in high school kids. And I found myself wondering what would have been of me, had I access to high-quality writing instruction when I was in high school. I started writing around fourteen or fifteen. I had a handful of old Ike Asimov articles about writing as a guide, a few schoolmates as readers… and that’...
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A story idea in a typo


Today I tweeted about the fact that I have so far submitted 53 stories in 2020. But because I’m the worst typist on the planet (and possibly in the whole system), I tweeted, in fact, about having submitted 53 stories in the year 202. Trying not to look too stupid, I tweeted again and joked about the year 202 AD, also known as the Year of the Consulship of Severus and Antoninus.But there’s more, because 202 AD was the year in which female gladiators were banned in Rome. And I thought… isn’t that a great idea for a story? So here I am, thinking about an out-of-work former gladiatrix… what a promising character!And yes, I know there’s a movie about that featuring Pam Grier, but let’s not dwell ...
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All set for Halloween


This morning, a rather surprised-looking delivery guy dropped in front of my door a crate containing a Kickstarter Exclusive box of Tales of Evil, the all-Italian horror boardgame designed by my friend Antonio Ferrara, and produced by his Escape Studios. Tales of Evil is a boardgame inspired by books like It and TV series like Scooby Doo and Stranger Things – in it, you can play one in a gang of meddling kids, exploring an old dark house.It is heavy on pop culture references and has its tongue firmly in cheek. An interesting mix of boardgame, choose-your-adventure book, roleplaying game and alternate reality game, Tales of Evil is absolutely gorgeous and, in the English edition, is masterful...
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“Normally” racist


It’s late on a Saturday night, I’m going through one of my usual bouts of insomnia, I’m nursing a hell of a headache, and I’m browsing the blogs that I follow to see what’s up and read a few posts to distract myself.And I stumble on the post of a guy that has just found out our civilization is fascistic, because just look at the new Oscar award standards, that require a wider representation and diversity – who sets these standards?, the poor soul cries to the skies. Why are they imposing this on us?!I think I’ve already written about this, but it’s quite surprising finding out the muddy bottom of the internet reaches into your blogroll, and the bottom feeders are actually making noises in my...
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I want my money back


Today I did something I rarely do – I asked for a refund on my last purchase on Amazon, a 7 bucks ebook I bought because I am interested in the topic but also because I am doing some research for my next writing project (contract signed – I am waiting for the advance … my bank is also waiting for the advance … and my insurance company … and my electricity provider). So, considering this will be a fun project that could lead to more books being written in the series, I decided to check out what I could find on the main topics, to supplement my own collection.And I immediately stumbled on this new (2018) Italian-language biography of one of the key historical characters – that happens to be It...
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One for the Christmas wishlist


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Artistic freedom at Rick’s Café Americain


The muddy bottom half of the internet has got its knickers in a nasty twist over the announced decision rules for diversity and inclusivity will be implemented in the selection of the Oscar-worthy Best Movies entries, starting 2025.In a nutshell, the new rules will require productions to include members of a number of categories, including BIPOC and LGBT+ individuals, and to cover certain features in their plots and screenplays. This is clearly Hollywood trying to make a show of being in tune with the times, but goodness have the bottom feeders on the socials gone wild on this!Apparently requiring a more inclusive workplace from movies that hope to get the Best Film award is fascism, is thou...
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Forbidden Hollywood


Having mentioned the Hays Code in my previous post(*), I thought I’ll suggest you a book on the subject – because we talk about books in this place, right?And because I like old movies, and I like reading about old movies. Sponsored by Turner Classic Movies and published by Running Press, Mark A. Vieira’s Forbidden Hollywood is a wide and deep survey of the pre-Code era productions – when Tinseltown was reckless and shameless… or something like that. As you can see from the cover (don’t get distracted by Harlow’s charms), the book covers the 1931-1934 period, and as you can imagine because of Harlow’s charms on the cover, it’s illustrated with dozens of beautiful black and white photographs....
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Diana Rigg, 1938-2020


I have just learned about the death of Dame Diana Rigg, that was Emma Peel in The Avengers, without a doubt the actress and the character that have had the strongest and longest lasting influence on me, under every respect. Today she’s mostly remembered for her role in Game of Thrones (my goodness!) but she had a long and respected career in the Royal Shakespeare Company, and was the star in the proto-steampunk Assassination Bureau, Ltd. and in a very funny horror movie featuring Vincent Price (Theater of Blood).She also was, of course, Mrs James Bond. http://www.kobal-collection.comTitle: ASSASSINATION BUREAU, THE ¥ Pers: RIGG, DIANA / DOBTCHEFF, VERNON ¥ Year: 1968 ¥ Dir: DEARDEN, BASIL ¥ ...
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Find yourself something to do for the Autumn


I usually point out here on my blog what I think are interesting offers from Humble Bundle – still one of my go-to services to keep my to-read list stocked. The deal is the usual – you get a pack of themed books for real cheap, and you help a charity. Everybody wins. The latest book selection from Humble Bundle is so quirky and weird I was sure I’d find something interesting – and indeed, the eight volumes you get for 83 euro-cents are already on my hard disk. This month’s theme is crafts for the autumn. And for 83 cents of an euro (or one dollar), you get two cookbooks – of which there is never enoughtwo DIY and craft books – who knows, might come in handya book about small-scale wargames –...
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Besieged by cats


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