Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Fugue a deux

This morning I woke up and I wrote a story, in 35 minutes flat. Not a long story, of course – 1200 words. I spent about an hour straightening it afterwards – moving words around, and doing all the little checks and tweaks one does before submitting. Then I formatted the five pages in the Shunn format took a deep breath, and mailed the story to the editor.
Now the wait begins.

I submitted the story to a very quirky, high-profile anthology – and should it be accepted, it would mean being published together with authors I respect a lot.
The story is called Fugue a deux, and it’s a short piece about make believe, the purpose of fantasy and love – or at least that’s how I described it in the cover letter. It came out more or less spontaneously, and it’s pretty raw, and silly.
It might be “inspired by real events”, but that’s a detail.

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One story per week

Today I have mailed off to the editors two more stories – a 1700-words piece and a 4600-words one – bringing the total count of this year’s submissions to 20. Which makes 4 stories per month. One story per week on average.
Of these, five have been sold so far – which is a nice 25% sales rate.
Good, but I can do better.
Now I have two 8/10.000-words stories to write – having been contracted to write them – in the coming month. If I want to keep my average of one story per week, I’ll have to mail away two more.
Thankfully, the opportunities abound, and there’s no shortage of ideas – but right now I am rather low on energy, and somewhat overworked. A job I should have closed in April is likely to drag for another six weeks at least.
Bummer.
But so far, as the guy said, so good.
And now I can start and plan dinner.


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Birthday book haul

And so the day of my 53rd birthday is coming to an end. I’ve celebrated with a quick jaunt to the last pizza place open in the area, and I’ve had dinner with my brother and a friend. The rest of the day, I spent reading – because it was my birthday, and I received a lot of books as gifts.

And I might as well share, so, here’s a list of all the wonders my friends gave me. In no particular order…

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Better Than Literature

This morning I saw a snippet, posted online by a contact of mine, off a school anthology book. Now, school anthologies are often the first impact with literature for a lot of kids. They know fiction through movies, and comics, and cartoons, but especially these days, the written word, the textual storytelling, may come late in a kids life.

And this snippet made it clear that (i quote from memory)

one must distinguish between serious literature and the simple fiction whose only purpose is to amuse and entertain

… and from there it went on to explain to the out-of-luck kid that might chance to read this sort of crap, that basically…

  1. if you like it because it’s fun then it’s gotta be rubbish
  2. if it’s prop’r litch’r’chure you should not have fun reading it, and you’re not smart to get it anyway

This sort of nonsense makes me SO angry.

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The best thing to come out of this pandemic

The best thing to come out of this pandemic, for me, has been the opportunity to launch a podcast with my friend Lucy – we decided to do it because we were (and actually still are) in lockdown, with our respective jobs fizzing out, and too much time on our hands.
Why not try something new?

Just imagine, spending about two hours a week chatting with one of your best friends about your favorite – or least favorite – movies.
A lot of those are horror movies – but we have a very broad definition of “horror”.
Basically we do online what we’d normally do going out for a pizza, with one significant difference – I am sitting in the hills of Astigianistan, while my friend Lucy is in Rome, 600 kms away. Hooking up for a bite and a night of movie-talking would be complicated.

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Project Gutenberg can’t be reached from Italy

The big news of the moment is, the Italian authorities have sealed all accesses to Project Gutenberg, the famous open library of classical texts – if you are in Italy, what you get when you hit gutenberg.org is a warning sign from the Guardia di Finanza, that the website you are trying to reach violated copyright laws.

What’s up?, you might ask.
Well, it turns out our authorities have cracked down on those websites where you can illegally download ebooks, and in particular those that allow the downloading of magazines and daily papers.
Now, how to find these websites?
Apparently the investigators made a list of all the URLs that were traded on certain Telegram channels.
Project Gutenberg was mentioned, so Project Gutenberg was blocked.

The situation is still pretty confused, but if on one hand our authorities are currently looking like dorks, and all those that were accessing the Gutenberg archives to do research, translations or out of sheer curiosity are left out in the cold, it is also true that this is a fine example of what can happen to our freedom in a few minutes.
Ironic, considering how vocal some people are in this moment about conspiracies involving viruses, 5G cell fields and Bill Gates.
But of course a lot of those never read a book in their life, certainly not on Project Gutenberg.

ADDENDUM: in the time it took me to write this post, the Gutenberg pages were unlocked. They can be dorks, but they are fast on the uptake.
Better this way.


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The little sister for breakfast

This morning I woke up at 6 a.m., brew some tea, checked my email, and then went and watched the 1969 movie Marlowe, featuring James Garner in the title role. The movie is based on ray Chandler’s novel The Little Sister, and is a tight neat little neo-noir.
Just what I needed to start my day.

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