East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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It was love at first sight

Two days ago I fell in love.
No, hold your horses, it’s not a romantic thing.
Two days ago I fell in love with a beautiful woman designed by my friend Angelo Montanini, fantasy artist, fashion designer and teacher, one of the giants of Italian Tolkien-inspired illustration, and the man who developed the earlier concepts for Hope & Glory.
He published this on his Facebook page and his Instagram, and I was completely blown away.

montanini gun girl 2

Isn’t she a wonder?
Doesn’t she instantly suggest you stories, adventures, a life of danger and mystery and romance? Continue reading



Rejection slips

Got a rejection in the mail this morning.
Short pitch for a novelette – general plot and a 500 words scene.
It was a long shot.
Two hours at the keyboard, one night, a long time ago.
It happens.
Getting rejection slips is part of the game of writing and submitting to publishers.
Sometimes our stories are just not good enough.
No conspiracies, no misunderstandings of our art, no bullshit.
The submitted material was not good enough.
A writer trying to make this their work should learn to take stock, accept the rejection and move on.
And start thinking at possible ways to recycle the material.

Talking of which… Of course my Patreon supporters might get a chance at reading both outline and sample scene, for their delectation.
I suffered for my art, now it’s their turn.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow I’ll hit you with one of my (many, admittedly) pet peeves.
This particular pet peeve is about the use of the word saga.

Now, if you are old as I am you might recall a Canadian prog band called Saga, and of course there’s a series of comics published by Image with the same name. I’ve got nothing against either. Ditto for the place in Japan called Saga.
What peeves me is this habit of calling anything with a fantasy flavor and lasting more than two issues/volumes/episodes, the Saga of… whatever. Continue reading

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This is probably the worst writing job I took this year.
No, hold it.
Probably researching the connection between Nazi occultism and sexual magic for a client of RE:CON was the worst, but this one comes damn close.
I am revising a novel I wrote when I was 24.
And boy is it tiresome.

This I have to say about the myself that lived in 1991: the kid had some pretty cool ideas.
Granted, he stole most of them from Michael Moorcock, Edward Bryant, Arthur Byron Cover and Tanith Lee, but as that guy said, you gotta steal from the best.
The novel, written in Italian of course and with a title taken from a song by Toyah Wilcox – a fact that, I am sure, dates the whole business nicely – is roughly 40+ thousand words, and is built like a mystery. Continue reading

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Blazing keyboards in the dead city

s-l300According to a website that caters for collectors of vintage stuff, my mother’s last typewriter, an Olivetti Lettera 35, is worth 40 bucks – but on eBay I saw some specimens go for 100 euro.
Not bad, for an obsolete piece of tech that carries a QZERTY keyboard.
Mine… well, OK, my late mother’s is still in perfect working order. It only needs a new ribbon, that goes for about 8 bucks on Amazon, and no shipping fees with Prime.
And I’ll need to buy one, because on the 4th of August I’ll be using my old Lettera 35 for one of those “cheap stunts” that, I’ve been told, “proper writers” don’t do.
Well, screw them.

On the 4th of August, barring incidents, we’ll be sitting between a bookstore and a Chinese restaurant, in Nizza Monferrato, me and my friend Fabrizio Borgio, a first class mystery writer living like I do in these hills, and we’ll be typing two stories in a single take, and the pages, fresh out of the typewriters, will be hung on a string to dry, and for all the people to see and read. Continue reading

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Missed opportunity

Oh, crap!
And so while I was busy (sort of) taking the weekend off and trying to keep burnout away1, the Pro Se submission window closed – and my pitch for a 12-episode serial was not yet ready. A twelve books series paid with 50% royalties, and it fizzed.

F*ck f*ck, f*ckety f*ck f*ck!


Three days of work wasted.
Or not.
No, not, not at all, really.

Because I have here now a complete project for a 12-episodes series of novellas, planned to be published in monthly stand-alone installments.SaveForLaterATT
Action/adventure thrillers.
Set in modern-day Europe.
Tackling ancient – and not so ancient – mysteries.
Featuring an exciting new character.
And an intriguing set-up.
A thing whose high concept is

The Ninth Gate meets The Transporter

But cooler. A lot cooler than that.

I wonder if it could be developed as a self-produced series…
Oh, well, back to work on other projects, in the meantime.

  1. and also, and here I should only kick myself for an idiot, tackling low-paid RE:CON reports for clients that treat me like dirt. 

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Holmes & HPL

sherlock-holmes-greg-joensI was listening to an old Harlan Ellison interview, last night, and he was saying that if you want to get a proper education, you have to read the Canon, that is, all the Arthur Conan Doyle stories about Sherlock Holmes.
Those will set you straight, Ellison said, because they are stories about the power of rationality, the power of observation. And they teach you that there are no mysteries if you pay attention.

And I think it’s a sound suggestion.
Hell, you can’t go wrong with “Read Sherlock Holmes!” Continue reading