East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Pitch and proposal

I am working on a full-scale pitch and proposal for a new novel, an attempt at getting a foot in the door with a high-profile publisher, with a target of 75.000 words, possibly as a first in a series (and yes, I’ve got ideas already about where the series might be going).

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Learning how to do a better podcast

I’ve just been through the first unit of an online course I will be following in the next weeks, about digital audio storytelling and voice technologies – basically about how to tell stories using a podcast.
This is quite interesting, both because it will hopefully give me some new idea to improve Paura & Delirio, and because as a writer any new insight on the subject of storytelling is a welcome addition to my toolbox.

The course is hosted by the Knight’s Center for Journalism in the Americas, and it’s not the first of their online courses I take.
Indeed, I have now a nice portfolio of journalism courses in my CV.

This course is both useful and fun, and meeting my fellow students was a humbling experience – here in Italy we are still in the caves, when podcasts are concerned, and discovering the variety and quality of the work other people out there are doing – usually people much younger than me – had a sobering effect.

But after all, when you are in the wilderness, you have ample opportunities – unless of course you are in a wilderness because they are so impervious to change your opportunities are dead before they are born.


Off to the South China Seas

… well, almost.
Starting tomorrow, I’ll be working on the translation of my friend Shanmei’s Murder on the Giava, en route to China, a historical mystery based on the real life adventures and letters of Shanmei’s grand-grandfather.
We’re talking a short novel, a classic murder mystery, with a side of exoticism and a small chaser of espionage, set in the Far East during the Belle Epoque, and based on real events.

I am very happy to be working on this book, because it’s really up my alley in every possible sense.
I also hope to convince the author to put in an appendix with a few extras just for the English-language market. Because it would be good to sell it in cartloads, considering there is a second volume coming.

Watch this space for news.

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Radio Karavansara # 4: Aeon Trinity

In about 24 hours I will start a new roleplaying campaign, playing online a game of Trinity – the science fiction RPG originally published in 1997 by White Wolf as Aeon. The game was just re-issued with a new engine as part of the Trinity Continuum by Onyx Path, but we’ll be playing the old ruleset and universe.

And as I have always done with Trinity, I’ve been sketching the campaign while listen to some music – and so I decided to prepare a sort of soundtrack, and put it up on Mixcloud.
Will my players (and my readers) appreciate it?
I do not know.
In case you are interested, it’s here…

And now, off to draw some pre-rolled characters.

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Horror and adventure

There is a very attractive call for stories that cross horror with adventure, and when I saw it I thought “Ah, that’s a job for me!” … but in two days I doodles a lot, and came up with nothing.
Which is disheartening, because… well, because writing is my job and my idea of fun, and I have always loved adventure.

So I started going through all the resources I had about adventures.
And here is what I found that got me writing.
I thought I’d share.

Now that the adventure angle is covered, I’ll just need to add horror.
And I’ve found an idea in that direction, too, inside this video.
I’ll keep you posted.

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More news from isolation, and plans

I know, this is getting boring. We’re still here, tenth day of isolation, waiting for the next supply drop, and trying to devise some more contingency plans as the situation looks bleak: a new lockdown on the horizon, the country’s economy stalling, no jobs coming my way, payments fizzing out…

Which is depressing for me, I don’t see why it should be for you too.

Because there’s also good news.
I’m also writing like mad – a testament to Michael Moorcock’s idea that creditors are an infinite source of inspiration.
And I do not know if I’m ever going to write something as good as the Hawkmoon series – I am no Moorcock, alas – but consider this: between January and August I had submitted 33 stories. In the following six weeks, I have submitted another 35, and I am now at 68 submitted stories – and yesterday I sold one, and also received a very complimentary mail from the editor.
It’s good for the soul, and the accounts.

And when I mentioned I’d like to offer online courses starting this November, I was asked by some to do a course on

how to sell stories to foreign magazines

Because let’s be clear – domestic magazines won’t pay you. Not really.

And so I have been thinking about it.
I did a post, at the start of the year – when everything was looking up – about what I called the Bradbury-Heinlein Method.
In the intervening months, I have refined it, turning it into the Bradbury-Heinlein-Zelazny Method … that is a mouthful, but it seems to be working in a good(ish) way.
My average is a 23% sales.

I might call it BHZ Method and try and bottle it up and sell it.

It might be fun – and it might keep the lights on.

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This is Plan B

While the world crawls towards a new lockdown, we are still isolating at home (but we’re fine! Tanks for asking), and jobs and payments fizz out and disappear, I am working on a series of contingency plans to try and keep the lights on and food on the table (and an internet connection).

True, I could take the advice of the people that cold-call me twice a day, and start investing my saving in online trading, the sure way (they say) to make money with no fuss.
I have no savings, but I really wonder – is somebody falling for this?
Will people in time of crisis blow their savings for the mirage of easy money?
It’s scary.

But what about my plan B?

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