Apr 27, 2014


Einstein: His Life and UniverseEinstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Walter Isaacson's biography of Albert Einstein is based on a set of letters that were kept private for a long time and finally released just a few years ago, offering a deeper insight on some unresolved issues about the public figure of the Professor as we know him.
The biography is nicely calibrated to cover all aspects of Einstein's life: first of all his private life, his love for his family and his country, his rebellious way of thinking and his struggle to get accepted in the academic world. Secondly, the author takes the readers on a journey through physics and discoveries that changed the world for ever. As much as I was hoping to understand more about the theory of relativity and its connections to the atomic bomb I have to admit that didn't happen. Walter Isaacson's style is simple and concise, accessible to everyone no matter what scientific knowledge they possess. Still, my brain likes colors and words but refuses numbers and concepts. Nevertheless, I was still able to enjoy the reading and grasp the meaningful relations between Einstein, the world politics during his lifetime and the different atmosphere of Europe, Russia and the USA in those fervent years.
I recommend this book to everyone, not just to learn about the life events and scientific discoveries of a genius, but to enjoy his witty quotes and heartfelt humanity.

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Apr 24, 2014

Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction

Flash Fiction 

The past year I have religiously followed the daily posts on Every Day Fiction. The stories published on this website are no longer than 1000 words, no specific genre required. I tried my luck submitting "The most epic party ever" and after three months I received a very helpful rejection letter containing comments on how to improve my submissions by five different editors. I was impressed by the professional service offered for free and felt motivated to write more. Flash Fiction and Micro Fiction are great ways to get through a rough patch while writing longer novels. We all need a motivational booster to keep us going every now and then, a day off from more demanding tasks.

Micro Fiction

Micro Fiction is short and powerful, in as little as six sentences it contains all the feelings and content of a whole book. Flash Fiction Chronicles offers a very useful "Flash Market" page, including an up-to-date, complete list of websites accepting Flash Fiction and Micro Fiction submissions.

Here's an example of Micro Fiction I wrote for submission to the blog Six Sentences:

Life planning - by Lisa Agosti

Trust me, the only way to beat Life is to get lost. Yes, you heard me. Get lost, let go, don't care, because when you lose your way, that's when you may end up finding yourself. Everyone knows it, Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans, so make sure you sit down and write a detailed bullet-points-to-do-list to let the Universe know you are ready to tear it up and throw it at the wind screaming from the very top of this no-seat-belt-provided-roller-coaster that is being alive. Don't pay attention to all that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” nonsense. Put each foot in front of the other, dressed in just a grin, your glistening eyes telling the World you are ready.

micro fiction

Apr 11, 2014


True fact: this list contains my personal writing habits in all their shameless glory

Before I get started on un-peeling my soul for your curiosity I would like to thank the blogger that started this meme, Alessandro Girola. His post is in Italian and so are the others that followed, spreading the idea online for the last week. 
I hope this post will allow the meme to spread worldwide, as I came to understand long ago that, no matter where, when or how, writers need the support of colleagues to get through the rough days of lonely brain squashing in front of the white page.

The List of my Writing Habits

1. The ideas from my stories come from brainstorming exercises that I collected from various blogs and "how to become a writer" e-books. My favorites are directed freefall and clustering, both on paper or using MindOnTrack, a free online software to create cognitive maps.

2. I find it hard to plan what to write before I get started writing. My stories usually flow easily out but then get lost in some crazy mystery plot that I myself can't solve. I rarely get to know the end of my own stories. 

3. To help me get more organized and actually have a plan, create chapters, subsection and character cards, I downloaded Scrivener and after the free trial month I bought it for just less of 50$. It's probably the best spent money of 2014 as I find it extremely helpful and easy to use.

4. Being a traveler means learning new languages, that is great except for when you want to express yourself and all that comes out is some sort of Esperanto blob. Living in Canada means I think and dream in English, but writing... oh, that is a complete different matter. My spelling and dictionary are quite good but I'll never be able to master the slung and the intonation like I do in Italian, my mother tongue. Moreover, emotions are stored in the right hemisphere of our brain, and so is our mother tongue. Every second language, on the other hand, goes straight to the left brain, together with logic and maths. Still, for some unknown reason, I keep writing in English. It could be because English is my language of choice when it comes to reading.


5. I usually read 5 books at one time, all tightly packed in my beloved Kindle: one classic, one mainstream, one non-fiction (mostly on writing), one memoir/biography, one culture-specific (Japanese/Italian/Canadian). In my daily life, whatever does not include learning, I consider utterly useless. That is, except when I'm lazy, traveling... or drunk.

6. I wish I could write like Isabel Allende or J.K. Rowling. For now, I would be happy enough if I could reach the standards of Marian Keyes and Cecelia Ahern. I don't have a style or a genre of choice yet, but I'm afraid my novels would be considered chick lit

7. I love metaphors, sarcasm, lively paced quests.

8. I hate horror stories, detailed descriptions and introspective boredom.

9. Writing is very tiring and when I manage 1000 words in a day I need a one-week holiday to recover. It's hard to read what I wrote a second time, for fear of finding it unreadable (it usually is). Critiques are widely feared by my fragile self-confidence.

10. To choose a title I usually stare into space and shake my head every now and then. Other times I write a list and then cross out the items until I come up with one winner.

11. My characters are female. All of them. Males are extras that appear in my stories only to humiliate themselves and disappear again. My mother is a constant presence in my writing. Apparently not even my subconscious can get rid of her, ever.

12. Most of my writing is in third person, not by choice. It comes natural and easier than the first person.

13. I often use WordReference to check for vocabulary and translations. I find it accurate, thorough and helpful.

14. I write alone in silence. I write as soon as I wake up, or I'll have to wait until everything else is done before I can focus on writing.

15. Having a blog helps me practice my writing, find other writers I can share my pains with, express myself and my interests. I would like to have a blog in Italian so I could share more with my friends back home and the local writing community. What is holding me back is I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to keep the commitment to two blogs. 

Share your list

It's your turn now. I came up with a 15 items list but others have 20, 25 or 52. It's up to you. 
Why should you spread the meme?
It's a good exercise. It helps getting to know yourself and what you like. You'll be more aware of what you do when you are writing and why you do it.
I would be honored it you wanted to share your list by adding a link on the comments below. 
If you can read Italian, here's the links to the other bloggers that have shared the meme in the last few days:

penna blu 
anima di carta 

Have a good novel!

Apr 1, 2014


biographySteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Approaching Steve Jobs's biography was a leap of faith in a scary, unknown territory.
First of all, I'm not an expert nor a fan of the tech world.
Second, biographies are not part of my reading routine.
Last and mostly, for the first time in my life I listened to an audio book instead of reading it on paper or on my beloved Kindle.

If it's true that we should always find ways to abandon our comfort zone, I could never agree more than I do after this experience. I feel reinvigorated and excited about my discoveries: I learnt so much about the technology world and how things came to be as they are today, of who made it possible for me to be typing away and instantly share my ideas with you.
I also discovered that I love biographies and audio books.
Last, I met an author that I highly admire, Walter Isaacson.

The simple and exact writing style of Isaacson has allowed me to explore a complicated matter such as CEOs wars and futuristic engineering, understand the bulk meaning of it, without getting lost in technicalities. The otherworldly genius meets the humanity of an abandoned kid and far-from-perfect father. The simple truth of Steve Jobs bad character and down-to-earth personality has inspired me and held me captive like the best of novels, with an unfortunate happy ending.
Next on the to-read list is the biography on "Einstein: his life and Universe" by the same amazing author, Walter Isaacson.

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