The Happiness Machine – a free short story

I wrote this short story last week. It isn’t a horror story. It’s just a story. About the choices we make. And how luck and faith and blindness and so many other things, all prevent us from seeing what we are really choosing. The Happiness Machine 1 Just like everybody else, Jeremy and Roger had heard about the Happiness Machine for the first time when they were niners. It was a machine able to make sure you would never experience sadness or any other such uninspiring feelings. You just had to tell the man who operated it what you wanted.…

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The most intriguing characteristics of a novel

Last week I wrote a post about the secret recipe for a bestseller. A recipe which, for a series of reasons, I don’t believe it can be found. Instead, in this post I’m going to list the features a book must possess to intrigue me. It’s not a secret recipe, far from it. It’s just me babbling about my likes and dislikes. A sort of case study on my reading habits. Unwilling heroes with a North Star Unwilling or reluctant heroes. You can call them like you wish. But for me this is how heroes should be to have a…

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How to fight Amazon fake book reviews

Book reviews can be extremely useful. They can help us better choose our next book, to home in on the one that is most likely the best for us. Of course, this holds true provided it is the kind of book we like. You know, no matter how many stars a book has if it is about, say, Second World War and we read only romance. Even so, even when considering reviews of the types of books we like, in this digital era of ours we can run into a problem. In fact, although many reviews are genuine, and some…

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Famous writers’ quotes about writing

Quotes are interesting. Quotes are fashionable. Famous writers’ quotes about writing are even cooler. But quotes are also prone to misinterpretation. Especially because they are often used without appropriate context. This may look like a minor detail. But it’s not. In fact, for example, if you know about writing techniques and what it means to tell the truth in creative writing, you can have decidedly different takes on the following Mark Twain’s quote than you would if you hadn’t any special interest about writing. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything–Mark Twain In one case you…

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Too many books to read and too little time to read them – a blessing in disguise?

Too many books to read and too little time to read them. This is one of my my constant problems. And even though I know perfectly well this is a typical first-world problem, I can’t help but to get frustrated about the way my list of to-read books keeps growing faster and faster. So fast indeed that even if I were a sort of octoculis lectorem (this is a word I just made up) and had eight independent pairs of eyes, I would be nonetheless unable to close the gap between my literary wants and my actual reading count. Luckily…

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

Over 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…

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

Surfing 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…

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Rereading books – the art of change

A 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…

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Reasons for writing – the story behind the story

I 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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