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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 o...
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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, th...
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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 dea...
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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...
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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, ...
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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 ...
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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 are Ann Radcliffe versus Dracula, by Bénédicte CoudièreJane Austen versus the Wolf Man, by Marianne CiaudoMary Shelley versus Frankenstein, by Cat Me...
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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 horr...
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  95 Hits

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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Greetings from Dry Gulch, Colorado


I am pleased to announce that Tales from Dry Gulch , the weird western collection edited by David B. Riley, is available in both ebook and paperback via Amazon. The volume features my short story Hank’s Ghosts. Welcome to Dry Gulch, Colorado. The year is 1881 or so, the gold mine has played out, but there’s talk some company from back east is supposedly putting in a zinc mine near town. Folks are friendly in Dry Gulch. Don’t forget to stop by the bakery for a loaf of sourdough bread from Miss Wendy’s secret recipe, then wet your whistle in the saloon next door. Just be sure to tip that piano player. You can get your prospecting supplies from the Dry Goods Store. And you can catch up on Mrs. ...
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Arthurian Planetary Romance: Sword of Ages


I have received as a gift the first volume of Gabriel Rodriguez’ Sword of Ages, a big, colorful comic book that lasted me back to the years spent reading Heavy Metal or L’Eternauta, and later 2000AD: science fiction, action and adventure in surreal, exotic locales, beautifully drawn and engagingly narrated. Sword of Ages does indeed recall the look & feel of Metàl Hurlant, and Rodriguez admits his visual debt with Moebius and his narrative debt with T.H. White’s Once And Future King, but also with Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion, and with Frank Herbert’s Dune. Given the premises, Sword of Ages might have turned out in a derivative hodge-podge, but Rodriguez manages to mix the various ing...
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  118 Hits

Tell’em, Neil…


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Useful lessons, and where to find them


Yesterday I posted an article for my Patrons, in which I tangentially compared this writing business to being an adventurer. And I know, it’s a romantic notion, it’s me telling stories about myself to paint a veneer of glamour over the tight budget and the overdue bills, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it: writing for a living is like setting off on a long journey to find the ancient ruins of the Lost City, or crossing an ocean on a sailing ship. Having recently discovered the works of Alastair Humphreys, I’ve been reading Ten Lessons from the Road, a motivational handbook based on Humphreys experiences during his four years travelling around the world on a bicycle. Some insight on t...
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This time I’m gonna strike rich!

I just received a mail that promises to solve all my economic problems, and set my writing career on the right path. No really! Judge for yourself… Dear Friend, An oil business man made a fixed deposit of $26M in my bank branch where I am a director and he died with his entire family in Syria war leaving behind no next of kin. I Propose to present you as next of kin to claim the funds,if interested contact me with your full name, and telephone number to reach you and most importantly, a confirmation of acceptance from you. Please reply with this Email: xxxxx Your Truly , Ling Lung Now I’m here preparing a letter for mister Ling Lung. I think I’ll mention to him that I still have here his gra...
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Happy birthday in ancient Egyptian


The request comes from a fried: her nephew’s birthday is coming, and the kid loves Ancient Egypt (what kid doesn’t). She’d like to write him a Happy Birthday message in hieroglyphs. Can we help? Of course we can. It actually took me two afternoons. The first part is quite easy. One gets the Wallis Budge’s An Egyptian Hierogliphic Dictionary and looks up the words… But I found it quicker to look it up on the Gardiner. I have a personal fondness for Gardiner’s Egyptian Grammar. At this point, as you have the words Happy, Birth and Day, you’re all set. My scanner doesn’t work. I had to photograph the squiggles to send to my friend. Is there a good font for writing hieroglyph? A quick survey of ...
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Making of a Cover, Part Five


The Final Touches The last few weeks have left me worn and tired. I have been working tirelessly on perfecting the cover of The Unfettered Child while also working with my editor to perfect the manuscript. What more could be done with the cover, you ask? Actually, so much more. In fact, I found something new to fix almost every time I looked at it. It’s been a while since I did part four of this series, so let’s back up to then: The cover first uploaded to Amazon. As you can see, I had Samara standing in the corner, looking kind of vague, her feet shrouded in shadow (okay, a gradient really), and striking a tree in the distance with a magical lightning bolt. Something nagged at me when I pre...
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They could have shot you guys!


Yesterday’s microadventure was a great success. True, my legs feel like lead right now, but I’ve heard from a lot of people that would like to try something like that in these hills, I received suggestions and idea, and all in all it was quite beautiful, and fun. Online. Hereabouts reactions were a lot more conservative. “You guys were lucky!” one of our neighbors said. “The hunting season’s open, they could have shot you guys!” Much hilarity ensued, because I live in the kind of place in which your neighbors think it’d be a hoot should you get shot. I also learned to some dismay that I evidently look like a boar in an aloha shirt. And I mean… I have friends that are hunters. They have a dee...
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The call of (micro)adventure


And so we did it. We left early this morning and walked all the way to the next village, that’s called Incisa Scapaccino. We avoided the main road and followed a narrow road that snakes along the Belbo river, climbing up and down the hills and entering into deep thickets of wild trees. This was just an experiment – a short hike, a stop for breakfast, more walking, a short foraging run at the local supermarket, and then back, once again walking along back-roads and paths through the fields and vineyards. Our equipment consisted only in a 10L backpack and a bottle of cold natural water, that we later supplemented with the ingredients needed for a few sandwiches. We had some minor problems as w...
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The art & craft of writing, a handbook in the form of a dialogue


I have finally finished reading Yours t o Tell, Dialogues on the Art & Practice of Writing , by Steven Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem, that I had started back at the end of may, and then had somehow slid down the reading pile, for a number of reasons. I collect writing handbooks, and this one came back to me at the right time to offer some diversion and a different and fresh outlook on what I do. Because sometimes while we can’t write (for whatever reason), we still can read about writing As the title says, the book is built in the form of a dialogue between the two authors, and it has a very relaxed, informal tone. It is probably not the best choice as a first handbook for the totally uninitiat...
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Dictation, or, how I hit 3500 words per hour and kept going


I started dictating my stories to Google Docs. The basic idea: we talk a lot faster than we type, so we can essentially dictate a rough first draft a lot faster than we can type it. This is one of the nifty ideas in Chris Fox’s excellent little handbook, 5000 Words per Hour , but it’s not something he invented: many authors of the past dictated their work, including Erle Stanley Gardner and, as it was pointed out to me a few days back, Edgar Wallace. What you need: a Google account and a smartphone or, if you are the sort that prefers to work with a microphone and a PC, you need to make sure your PC is 64 bit. Mine is not, so I use the smartphone. If you use an Android phone, it comes with t...
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  105 Hits