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Showing posts from February, 2014

Simenon, Some Lessons from the Grand Daddy of Genre Literature

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We all know that Simenon is the father of Commissaire Maigret, a fat policeman in the French Brigade Criminelle with a penchant for staring down suspects, and that all through the 20th century he was considered a literary phenomenon.

But exactly how phenomenal is not so well known. 

For example, I didn't know that he had written some 250 novels in his lifetime, plus 150 novellas as well as three autobiographical novels. Or that it took him about 10 days on average to write a book. Or that he regularly wrote (and published) three books a year. 

I recently watched on ARTE TV 7 a documentary that cobbled together a series of interviews with Simenon and snippets of the numerous films that were made from his books. 

It was an eye-opener. 

What was nice about this documentary is that you only got Simenon talking about himself and his work, no silly comments from an off-line voice. Simenon even regaled us with a couple of old childhood songs (saying that was the advantage of growing old, you …

Is the Amazon Ebook Market Model Broken?

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Is Amazon about to drop self-published writers? Is there any reason why it shouldn't if self-pubbed titles clog its Kindle Store, making it look like a hastily published slush pile? After all,  the ebook market is reportedly only worth7% of total Amazon sales and it's not showing much signs of growing. 

Yes, that's not a typo. Ebooks sales are worth only seven percent of total sales to Amazon. Think of Amazon as a virtual WalMart - in fact, I suspect that is the real goal of Amazon, to become the biggest digital department store in the world. The publishing industry is only a side-show for Amazon. So, if much is wrong with Amazon's ebook market model, it is not likely that Amazon will care. And perhaps that explains the uneven performance of Amazon in foreign markets where it's not the only player in town, by a long shot. For example, it is striking to see how Kobo is ubiquitous in Italy, it has its devices on display in most major bookstores but you don't see A…

Beyond the One Percent: Hello 0.01 Percent, Wild!

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There is a deeply disturbing story on The Atlantic, told in one single graph:


Yes, the famous One Percent is that bottom line, half asleep, not moving up. The zero.zero One Percent is the one to watch, shooting to the stars. Who are these guys? Mostly CEOs and bankers. Where does their money come from? Stocks. For more: read Derek Thompson's awsome (actually  terrifying) article here.

What does this mean? That income inequality has (1) never been so large and (2) is here to stay. For the first time in American History, the One Percent is joining the ranks of the poor, wow!

Welcome to the 21st Century!

Love in the 21st Century: It is Not What You Think!

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Take a look at this witty talk by French philosopher Yann Dall'Aglio - witty is really the right word for it and I promise, you'll never think of love the same way again:


In my opinion, he's right. "Tendresse" - tenderness, a feeling for the other, not for oneself - is the closest thing to "true love".

That's the kind of love I try to explore in my novel "Crimson Clouds", a love that grows in the fertile ground laid down by a lifetime of experience, including all the losses and disappointments.

Your views?

Is Amazon Supremacy in eBooks Threatened?

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Wow, super star Bella Andre has given full confidence to, no...Not Amazon Kindle Select but Kobo!
See here:



For me, this is surprising news. I've always thought of Amazon as the giant e-retailer whose supremacy could not be threatened - not yet and not for a long time. I guess I was wrong. 

What we have here is a David vs. Goliath fight, who will win?

As the savvy chaps at Ebook Bargains UK write (see here), the deal is "only for three months, and it’s for five French-translated titles, but she could just as easily have gone into Select and gone exclusive for three months with Amazon France. This is very a big-selling indie author. One of the indie super-stars. The fact that she’s gone exclusive with Kobo when she could take her pick of any of the big retailers and get similar terms is worth pondering."

What they suggest is that "if you spend 90% of your time promoting Amazon listings, are in and out of Select, and all your links on your blog, website, email header, e…

The Digital Revolution: What Published Authors Really Want

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Best selling author Hugh Howey has set up a really cool website to encourage authors, both traditionally and self-published, to come together and (eventually) form a "guild" - or some sort of association to defend authors' rights against publishers and e-distributors. 

To visit, click here. To reade his latest report on author earnings and the state of publishing, click here. Inter alia, it raises an interesting question: are trad publishers losing customers by charging the highest prices in the industry?

Here are the services offered on the home page:



In my (modest) view, it's about time too and I'm very grateful to Hugh Howey for daring to come out and call people together. 

Writers of the World Unite!

I've answered the survey and signed the petition (you can see it here). It  makes a lot of sense to me. And look at the analysis of early responses (the day I signed it was 331and 96% of them writers, both published and aspiring):


Clicking 5 means full support, 1 m…

Are Mammograms Useless in Screening for Breast Cancer?

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This morning the New York Times trumpeted the  news that "mammograms fail to cut risk of death and causes overdiagnosis", apparently the result of a major Canadian study involving 90,000 women over 25 years (to read the article, click here). For women like me who've been undergoing mammograms ever since we turned 40, this is nothing short of astonishing. Now we find we've been taken for a ride all these years, really?

Not quite. It is a little more complicated than that.

First, let me be honest about this and tell you on which side I fall. I've had my doubts about the usefulness of mammograms for a long time, ever since I had a surgical intervention back in the 1980s, with the removal of an 8cm tumor from a breast - a tumor that resulted benign and the whole operation could easily have been skipped with a simple biopsy (but in those days in Italy, and with the conservative MD I had, a biopsy was not considered as reliable as total removal). What really annoyed me a…

When an Audio Clip Turns Into a Radio Show

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Fantastic job done by the Director of the HighRock Institute Joel Scott and his partner Angela Castonguay. This is a fiery dialogue taken from CRIMSON CLOUDS, my just released romance. What was going to be a sample audio clip was suddenly turned into something quite different, like a radio drama show, with two beautiful voices, male and female, screaming at each other...You can hear it directly on Sound Cloudhere , or click below:


Congrats to Joel and Angela! I highly recommend them, they did a superb job, don't you agree? If you want to use their services, click hereto contact them, you can read their latest blog post on audiobooks, "does an audiobook make sense for you?", click here.

Listening to that dialogue, think of Robert looking like (ideally!) George Clooney:


And Natasha like Julianne Moore:


Are you wondering what happens next? Is Robert going to get back to Natasha or will other women enter his life? And what about his wife? If you're curious, you can get the b…

Two Good Reasons Why You Should Do Audiobooks

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Should you do audio books of your titles? The answer is YES! And there are two very good reasons for doing so, but before I get to them, here's a little introduction to the world of audiobooks.

It's a new aspect of the digital publishing industry, now worth $1.6 billion (still peanuts) but growing fast. If you're considering doing an audiobook, I highly recommend the following article by Michael Kozlowski on Good E Reader's blog, click here. You will see that in addition to Amazon's services, there are several excellent alternatives you might want to investigate.

Audio titles so far are relatively few (13,255 titles came out in 2012, up from 4,602 in 2009 - compare that to the millions of ebooks). Audiobooks seem to be the province of affirmed writers with a proven market, like, for example Elizabeth Spann Craig, a successful "hybrid" author ("hybrid" means she has both traditionally published books  and self-published titles). She has a hefty num…

Would You Risk Your Life in the Cause of Art?

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Some people did, remarkable people, courageous scholars and art lovers, the famous "Monuments Men" that George Clooney is celebrating in a film coming out this month. Here's the official movie trailer:


Great cast, that's one movie I don't want to miss! 

Did you notice Cate Blantchett in there? She's Rose Valland in the movie, an amazing French woman, a French art historian and member of the French Resistance, who worked as an assistant in the Louvre's Jeu de Paume where Goring had based himself and his team to systematically steal all the art in there. She pretended she didn't speak German and listened to everything they said, carefully writing down the list with full descriptions of every piece of art they stole, week after week, and passing it on to the Resistence. That takes amazing courage! She died in 1980, aged 81.

And some of the Monuments Men died, two of them, paying with their lives in trying to save what is most important in any civilization: …