Last Wednesday I ran a promotion for Branch Off. OK, technically speaking, it was not a promotion because the ebook is always priced 99c, but anyway.

For $35, I purchased a feature on bargainbooksy.com in the category Science Fiction. They give you a 1-day placement on their site, but more importantly your feature is sent to their email subscribers, which are 68,000 for scifi – or so they say, I have no way to verify or confute that number.

Bargain Booksy Feature
Feature sent via email

All in all, both the site and the email look good and well-curated – much more so than other competing services that I worked with in the past. But because this was the first time that I paid money to promote a non-free book, I didn’t know what to expect.

The total number of copies sold on Amazon Kindle is 18±2. That’s a conversion rate of 0.026%.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of this number. Is it horrible? Is it good? No idea. What I do know, however, is that the last time I ran a free weekend, 30 or so people downloaded the same ebook without any kind of advertising except a couple of tweets. I didn’t earn anything (we’re not in for the money, are we?), but I also didn’t spend a cent.

She was there for me. She has always been there for me, even when I wasn’t there for myself.

Even now.

I’ve never been good at talking. I’ve known that all along. I’m a good listener and bad talker. Bad talker, yeah, that’s something, isn’t it? At least I’m good at being bad at something.

So she talked when I was silent. And I listened, taking it all in. Dwelling in those stories, soothing myself in her voice as we sat on the couch, curled up in a soft embrace. I listened to her voice, to her heart, to her breaths. It was so intimate. Warm.

I have never been that close to someone before. I was alive. I was safe.

And she was there for me. I felt it. I listened, trying to be enough for her. Hoping to be enough for her. I’m not sure I was.

She talked and filled the void I created around me. Yeah, call me Black Hole.

I listened to those words. They kept me alive. Well, for a while.

Even now she’s here for me, but she’s not talking. This time she’s crying. I feel her tears tap-tap on my face, so gentle that they mask out the pain.

Even now she’s here for me, holding my hand. My blood-red, sticky hand.

I know she will always be there for me, even on the other side. I know that.

I’m a good listener, so I listen to her sobs until there’s nothing to listen to.

This story also appeared on Medium.

There’s something we humans all share, even in our huge diversity: we need to have a place that makes us feel at home.

It doesn’t have to be a physical place. Maybe it’s just an idea, a concept. A tiny personal ritual. A person, or a pet. A song, or a photograph.

But we all have it. Think about it. What’s yours?

I myself have a few, big and small. Among the ones that would look insignificant there are some habits. Maybe it’s just because I like to inject order in the total chaos that is life. An illusion, I know.

One big feel-at-home thing for me is writing. It’s just me and the page – well, the screen. I love writing for others, with a group of readers in mind. It helps me focus on the style and the story.
But even better is writing for one specific reader. That’s the top, and I really find home there. Maybe that specific reader won’t ever read what I write, but it’s something special and intimate that makes me a better person, a bit less adrift, a little more happy.

And the point is exactly this: jotting down words is something that helps me find the route for the nearest harbor, and from there to home. Making stories up might seem silly, but it’s not. It’s very serious. After all, most of what we read in fiction is just real life with a fresh coat of paint on it. We find a lot of the authors’ own personality in the characters, and many of their real-world experiences.
Just like how we dream to consolidate memories (and often cope with them), I write to put order in what happens around me.

And feel at home.

Hello, Italian friends! I come in peace!

You’re used to me writing in English, but this time I wrote something in Italian.

Cover of La percezione equivoca

Enter La percezione equivoca.

It’s a self-published collection of short stories and flash fiction that I and three friends put together over the past few months. The theme is how we (fail to) perceive reality. There’s really good stuff in there, and I’m very proud of what we created. You should read it. Oh, and I just love the cover, it’s gorgeous and it perfectly conveys the meaning and feeling of the tales inside.

It’s just €0.99 for the ebook and €6.99 for the paperback.