Addicted to books – my personal list of the best novels to read

Last updated: 20th October, 2017Over the last three weeks, after moving, I’ve been busy doing small jobs around the house. Now that most of the tasks I had appointed myself with are ticked off, I’m pretty satisfied. Yet I’m also quite stressed out. The number one reason for this situation is simple. During this period I read next to nothing. And now, given I’m addicted to books, like a junkie who desperately needs to score, I’m experiencing the usual withdrawal symptoms. For example, I dream of books. Continuously. At night they appear in my dreams. No more pinups and bombshells for me. No more flying over the clouds–that’s for losers. No, only books matter to me now. Fat books bursting with pages. Showing me their spines, still untouched, unwrinkled. Books full of stories to read and enjoy. Books alluringly flicking their pages to me, like peacocks. Books that leave me…

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Signs you are a writer – what is true and what is not

Last updated: 8th November, 2017Surfing the web you can come across a zillion of posts listing the telltale signs you are a writer. These posts can be entertaining, no doubt about that. But they’re often based on myths, stereotypes, and little more. For example don’t worry if you didn’t start reading and writing before other children of your age. Or if your spelling abilities are still next to non existent. Many great writers have managed to succeed despite these problems, and some others way more difficult as well. Just think of W. B. Yeats and Jeanne Betancourt who had to work around their dyslexia. Think also of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the editor-in-chief of French Elle, who found himself paralyzed apart from one eye as a result of a catastrophic stroke. And yet managed to write a touching book — The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

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Rereading books – the art of change

Last updated: 21st July, 2017A couple of nights ago I was sitting on the porch at my friend’s place. The sun was gone, just like the wine we had been drinking. So, with that particular predisposition of the soul that most often comes when the right amount of food and booze and stimulating company all happen together, we started chatting about books and writing. My friend isn’t a writer. And he isn’t planning on becoming one any time soon. Indeed, he is perfectly content with being a voracious reader. And of having the opportunity to chat, as often as possible, about books and the inner mechanics of a story. Now, while we decided whether or not to help ourselves with a last glass of wine–it was a damn fine Rosso di Montalcino we were enjoying–we ended up chatting about books we had reread and found dramatically different from the first…

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Reasons for writing – the story behind the story

Last updated: 7th June, 2017I write fiction for many different reasons. About some of them, I’m pretty sure. About some others, less so. But that’s fine. Because writers aren’t books. Writers are made of flesh and blood, and can be fickle creatures. Indeed, they’re more like a perennial work in progress, a messy first draft, than a flawless published book. And rightly so, I would say. Otherwise writers would be doomed to write the same book over and over again.

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How to write badly – when fiction turns into friction

Last updated: 22nd May, 2017The road to hell is paved with good intentions. You don’t need to be a true faithful to have heard this proverb. Of course, it’s a generalization, and like all generalizations it has its limits. But I think it’s particularly appropriate when applied to the world of creative writing, where ideas and good intentions seem to be everywhere, but then actual writing ferries into existence only a small sliver of them all. So, here is this list of one-liners about how to write badly. At the very least they’re all wrong, and in many cases they’re also incredibly counterproductive.

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Use writing hooks to create terrific opening lines for your novel

Last updated: 15th May, 2017The opening lines of your novel are of critical importance. In fact, it’s by reading them that readers decide whether to give your novel a shot or go instead looking for something else. Of course, a book shouldn’t be judged solely by its first few lines—and the same can be said about the cover, the title, and so on. But these days considering the amount of books that readers can choose from, and the hectic times in which we live, it’s normal for people to come up with shortcuts to try and find the brightest diamonds among the deluge–even if this means that sometimes they’re going to miss out on some of such diamonds, especially the most unconventional ones. Writing hooks: definition Simply put, a hook is a sentence or a group of sentences that appears at the beginning of your story and, ideally, it should entice…

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Unique gifts for writers – no matter the season

Last updated: 23rd December, 2016Let’s be clear from the get go. The unique gifts for writers I’m speaking here are those that can really make a difference for a writer, not those ‘unique gifts’ that end up collecting dust on a shelf. Yet, such notable gifts are quite common… When it comes to creative writing, what writers everywhere need is not a new telepathic laptop, a new magic keyboard, or a speech-to-text app able to understand them even when they cough and sneeze in the clutches of a cold. Not even a new secretary, a new house, or a brand new life are required. Sure, a brand new life—maybe one in which the bank account is in black and with a pleasantly long number of zeroes after the initial non-zero figure—can be of help, but only marginally. Let’s face it. Omero, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen, Nabokov, the Brontës sisters, Stephen King,…

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