East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Creative mumblings

Among the many things I’ve been toying with, while I am trapped in a time-consuming, soul-killing writing job, there’s a ghost story. I’d love to write a “proper” ghost story, more or less novella-length, set in modern day and with a classic structure.
I even have a working title – The Cold Spot.

And this morning, while I was doing a modicum of chores, I set my brain to thinking about it, and a question came up – would I be able to do something different with such a story?
Because, really, writing classic ghost stories in a world where the readers can get Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House or Peter Straub Ghost Story or, indeed, M.R. James’ collections, the risk is an exercise in futility.

Now there are two indexes, so to speak, by which I can measure a story, these being, for lack of better words, fun and significance. A lot of highly entertaining books are like a glass of water – they pass and leave no trace.
Others leave a sign, and offer us better insight in the world we live in.

It would be good to do a fun, significant story.

But on the other hand, there are moments what we need is just a tall cool glass of water, to bring us back to life.
So maybe all this is just a part of me trying to avoid the fact that I should sit down and write the damn thing, and get it out of my system.
It would be nice to have it in time for Halloween.
Or for Christmas.

But first, I have to clear my table.


The House of Vezzanius

I am happy to announce that my short story In the House of Vezzanius has just been published in the July issue of Swords & Sorcery Magazine, and is up on their website for everybody to read, free of charge.
And it is really a pleasure of being in the company of authors Teel James Glenn and Carmine A. Tedeschi (that sounds a lot more Italian than me, but comes from Pennsylvania)

I hope you will enjoy the magazine and my story in it – it’s a perfect read for the summer.


Help me choose a book

OK, let’s try and do one of those things that the cool bloggers out there do and, like, get cartloads of hits, and so on.

I’ve got a stack this thick of ebooks on my reader, and I will (hopefully) read a few in August and relax and be happy and all that.
But what about you decide at least one of them?
What about non fiction?

So here’s the choice:

  • Richard Holmes – Falling Upwards
    A history of the pioneers of baloon flight, and the book that allegedly inspired the movie “The Aeronauts”
  • Stefan Buczacki – Earth to Earth
    Described as “A Natural History of Churchyards”.
  • Mary Dobson – Murderous Contagion
    A general history of epidemics and human history
  • Ernle Bedford – Mediterranean
    Being a history of the most trafficked sea in the world.
  • Cox & Forshaw – Why E=mC2 (and why should we care)
    A book about physics and our place in the universe.

All five books are on my to-read list, and all are asking for my attention.
Have your say, and help me decide.

The comments are open, cast your vote.

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Sunday afternoon

The problem, my brother always tells me, is that in this place we live, all days are absolutely equal. There’s nothing to do, no one to talk to, not even a park bench in the shade where you can go and sit, have a breath of fresh air and maybe read a book.
It’s like being in the damn Devil’s Island. But with vineyards.

Which means I spent most of the day doing research for my next story, and trying to get the selfsame story started… which I did. Three times.
None of those beginnings was any good, but I have the chain of events quite clear in my mind, and now I’m going to put down an outline.
Then I’ll sleep over it, and tomorrow I will start and hopefully finish the first draft, and have the finished work by the end of the month, barring accidents.
This is a fun project, and I really hope to be able to place the story in the market I have in my sights.

Then August will be here, and we’ll see what that brings.
A huge project I was supposed to work on in August shifted to September, so I might be able to finally nail shut the boxes of a couple of stories I have here idling. And maybe start a new pet project of mine – this time, a collaboration.
We’ll see.

Sometimes it’s good to be on the Devil’s Island.


The outlaws of Sherwood Forest are online

I was doing some preliminary research and warm-up for my next writing project, and as I was looking for online resources, I stumbled on the University of Rochester’s Robbins Library Digital Projects page, which features a number of online collections of texts and materials about – among others – the Crusades, the Matter of Britain, and, to my great pleasure, Robin Hood.

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Up from the Facebook depths

Yesterday some twitch in the Facebook engine brought up a post I had made more than one year ago, about a weird idea I had about a story, possibly the first in a series. It was a solid Idea, and I had started working on it and even had an interested publisher, and then – for a change – my day-to-day life had taken a turn for the worse and I had to scrap the project.

Oh, damn.

But yesterday that old post came up from the depth of Facebook, like a stretch of oceanic floor uplifted by some tectonic event – an algorithm shift of some kind, some big data rift – and there it was.
And people saw it, and they started going – damn, man, you need to write this, like, NOW!

And I was looking at those notes, during the lockdown, and thinking that, should I ever be able to nail shut the lid of the coffin of the Ghostwriting Project from Hell, I might as well resurrect that old idea.

Well, turns out there is people out there interested in reading it.
Now just let me get my nails and my hammer…