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Showing posts from May, 2013

Why is Success in Writing so Elusive?

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Why is the writer's life so hard? Because readers tend to forget what they read? That's what a recent post by Ian Crouch in the New Yorker suggested: if true, then whatever passing success we might have with our books is destined to fade unless we can do something dramatic to remain in the "public consciousness" (is that possible for books? I wonder...)

Tobias Buckell, a New York Times best-selling author with a long experience of digital publishing, made a further suggestion: 90% of the advice about writing is bullshit right now he says, and he explained why on his blog (here). Very, very few books sell, he points out, most are nested in the so-called "long tail", i.e. forgotten, submerged in the Kindle's two million book titles. In one word: passed over, burned away. Only the top 100 titles on Amazon sell, the others don't. It's a vicious, self-feeding circle, the crown always comes to rest on the same heads in the green area.

He then applied to…

One of Rome's Best Kept Secrets: the Municipal Rose Garden

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Among the myriad tourist attractions in Rome, the Municipal Rose Garden is easy to forget yet in May it reaches unparalleled splendor. Established in 1950, an international rose competition has been organized here every year (now at its 71st session) and new, extraordinary roses compete for the attention of connoisseurs. Winners are left in place and populate what is probably a unique rose garden in Europe, sitting in an area that has been a Jewish cemetery for 250 years (it was expropriated by the Governorship of Rome in 1934). Part of the city agreement with the Jewish community was to set up at the entrance a couple of stelae as a reminder (see photo).

And here's an American rose that won the competition back in 1971. Appropriately called  Super Star Climbing Rose, it's exceedingly tall:


Foreigners who live in Rome know and blog about it (see below) but I wanted to share with you what I found out.

First the layout. There is a lower garden, coasting the Circo Massimo (Circus M…

Free Book Fatigue or How Useful are Free Book Promotions?

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Is the market saturated with free books? Are we all suffering from free eBook fatigue? Amazon has a very convenient free book promotion program included for the writers who join Kindle Direct Publishing Select: 5 free days allowed for every 3 months your book is on KDP Select. This is one of the major perks for placing your book on KDP Select, the drawback being that exclusivity is required: you cannot place your book for sale on any other e-platform.  Is this worth it?
For many authors it is, as recently evidenced by an interesting survey covering the experience of enough authors (99) to make the conclusions worth looking at. It was reported in the eBook Author's Corner, do go over and take a look.

The overall conclusion is that "free eBooks promotions can be pure gold for authors."On the face of it, that looks real good until you realize the tense of the verb: "can be pure gold" but maybe it isn't. Indeed, many authors felt it wasn't: "free promoti…

What Dreams Tell You

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Do our dreams tell us something about ourselves as Freud would have it? Do they tell us about the future? Can they act as a warning of impending doom? So many writers have used that device to  push their story to another level of suspense...

This morning I woke up in a sweat, I'd had a nightmare: a friend of mine had asked me to look after her young child, a lovely, livelyred-haired little boy, about four years-old, his brown eyes full of mischief. I had taken him to the village fair and somehow, the child had disappeared. I looked for him everywhere, searching every carousel, pastry shop, game stand and he was nowhere. I kept looking for his read head in the crowd, but there was no read-haired person to be seen.

What would I tell his mother? God, what should I do? Call the police in, obviously, the sensible thing to do. Make them look for the child and hope they'd find him soon. But that was no solution when it came to what I'd have to tell the mother. I was responsible and…

Looking to the Future: Will We Have a World War? A Revolution? Local Rebellions?

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I look to the future everyday as I write new episodes of my serial novel 2213:Forever Young, soaking up scientific news and futuristic projections to try and "see" what it will look like. More wars, devastation, impoverishment, pollution and even a big-style revolution as so many predict?

Yes to war devastation, increasing poverty and pollution. No to revolution. Let me explain, taking the timeframe of my novel, i.e. what the world is likely to look like 200 years from now.

First, we can expect a  level field world-wide in terms of economic growth and scientific progress. That is: most major countries in the world - from the US to China - will be at more or less the same level technically and economically. And in social terms, it will be the same too.Differences that we now perceive as coming from countries still attached to a Communist ideology will have disappeared. As I posited in  Forever Young, the world will most certainly be divided between the Haves and Have-Nots, the …

My Secret Umbria Where Tourists Don't Go: A Castle with Wine and a Lakeside Trattoria

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After my book promotion, I was exhausted and ready to get away from my computer. Ready to enjoythe Umbria that tourists rarely see, an ancient castle where you can buy superb local wine and a trattoria overlooking Lake Trasimeno, that serves exceptionally well-prepared food. If you ever come this way, be sure to visit these places, it's a little known side of the Dolce Vita in the green heart of Italy...

The castle is in Magione, here it is, a medieval fortress that belongs to the Order of Malta, rising darkly on its tree-covered hilltop:



The Castle is just 15 miles north of Perugia, on the way to Florence. The gate is open, you can drive in to park your car:


To the left, the sign tells you what they sell - wine, olive oil and honey - and the opening hours:




When you drive up to it, you're thrown 600 years back in time:


The inner courtyard is even more suggestive:


They sell the wine and oil in a cellar at the back of the courtyard:


The Order of Malta actually owns a lot of wine-produc…