East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai



I am about to put the finishing touches on a fantasy novel that I will deliver to the editor before midnight. It is work for hire, so it will go out with another guy’s name on the cover, and I will never be at liberty of revealing that I am the author. Of the book, and of the whole trilogy. With a modicum of luck, the royalties will pay for my dinners throughout the autumn.

It’s something rather different from what I usually write, but I am convinced I put in it some of the best characters I ever wrote (there’s a lot of them, it’s a trilogy), and some of the best dialogues. I am, in other words, reasonably proud of what I am doing.

I was discussing this with my patrons, earlier today – the idea of publishing books that have somebody else’s name on the cover. It’s a topic worth discussing, and analyzing.
How does it feel?

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Odds & Ends #10

I have just posted the tenth Odds and Ends to my Five Bucks Brigade patrons. This week, a biography of Julius Caesar written by one of the fathers of spy fiction, a treasure trove of curious facts on films courtesy of the BBC, two stories by Algernon Blackwood… narrated by Algernon Blackwood, a big pile of cookbooks and a recipe app.
Plus a few free ebooks.
Because it’s good to be my Patrons.

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Bullet to the moon

I first saw First Men in the Moon, the 1964 movie when I was a kid of six or seven, and I enjoyed it enormously. I was after all a kid of the Apollo generation, and stories about journeys to the moon were in the news back then.

In case you missed it, First Men in the Moon is a Nigel Kneale adaptation of an H.G. Wells novel published in 1901, directed by Nathan Juran featuring special effects by Ray Harryhausen, and the original novel (that you can download for free from Project Gutenberg) was an inspiration to both C.S. Lewis and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
It’s the story – you guessed it – of an Victorian mission to the moon, courtesy of the inventions of professor Joseph Cavor.

Now it turns out the actual Apollo moon landing will provide the theme for this years’s Play gaming fair in Modena – and there will be a selection of moon-themed goodies. including not one, but two Hope & Glory… things.

Moon-things, if you will.

And yes, I am currently doing four writing jobs at the same time, one of which is a brief Hope & Glory scenario about the first men in the moon.
That old movie I first saw as a kid will provide some ideas, but there’s a lot more brewing.

Stuff like a secret volcano base and a moon-gun ready to shoot a band of courageous adventurers on a one-way trip to our pale-faced satellite.

My weekend just turned a lot more strange than it was.

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Odds and Ends, Blue Moon Edition

I have just posted a special “Once in a Blue Moon” edition of Odds and Ends to my patrons. This month has FIVE weekends, so we’ll get one extra issue of this column for all of my Patrons. And we have a collection of Chinese SF, a complete Odyssey package, an elegant and unusual period comedy of manners, all you need to play backgammon and a kickstarter for Old School gamers.
Because it’s good to be my patrons.

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Sons of the Crow, pre-order

This was FAST!
The Amazon gnomes went through Sons of the Crow in record time – eight hours and the book was cleared for pre-oreder, and you can get it now for 2.99$, and get it delivered on the last weekend of this month, directly to your kindle.
Isn’t technology a wonder?

Of course if you are my Patron, you just have to go on my Patron page and download your copy.
Because it’s good … yeah, I know, I told you already.



There are three stories I want to write this month, to submit to two different anthologies and a magazine. Checking the calendar, I see I will have to write one story per week, seven days from first draft to submitted text. It’s OK, I can do it – we are talking stories in the 3000-5000 words range. Two fantasies and a mystery – which is good, because it means there will be a modicum of variety.

One of the three stories should be, according to the publisher’s guidelines, “epic fantasy” – and I have heard some ask, how can you fit an epic fantasy in roughly 4000 words?

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