East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Serendipity of sorts: the Thirty Years War

“See you in Prague,” Graham Nash used to say – and today marks the 400th anniversary of the Defenestration of Prague, a rather obscure to most but pretty violent episode of European History that traditionally marks the start of the Thirty Years War.


Now, I am quite fond of the Thirty Years War, and this despite the fact that Continue reading


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Where Ideas Come From: Blunderbuss

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or if you follow my other blog, or are on my Patreon, you know that I usually have a lot of projects going at the same time.
Writing, translating, courses.
My timetable is in a constant state of flux, and projects get announced, started, sidetracked, shelved, rebooted, cancelled1, dropped, picked up, dropped again, etcetera.

The main reason for this is, bills keep coming, and with them the financial ghosts my late father left behind, that appear in the mailbox once every few months, unexpectedly, and set us back a few hundred euros for overdue taxes, unpaid fines or what.
So, paying projects are priority.
And projects that do not pay for their keep get shelved.
Which means of course that sometimes I have to leave behind ideas that I really like to do some thankless job that covers expenses like, right now.
This is not complaining, or whining or cursing Fate during a thunderstorm like Elric used to do. It is a simple assessment of the facts at the time of writing.


This said, ideas keep coming, and I like to post them on the blog because it’s a nice way to stake a claim, and also a way to pressure me into doing something with the stuff.
And who knows, maybe someone’s interested.
After all, How do you get your ideas is still the most frequent question we get asked.
So, consider, if you will, the following. Continue reading

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No hangout tonight

Hangouts_IconI was planning a hangout session with my English-speaking patrons tonight, but I got no response.
My fault – too little advance time, and probably a time window that, by trying to satisfy everybody, it did actually satisfy no-one.
Oh, well, there will be more opportunities.

In the meantime, I am getting ready for a public writing session – this time in Italian, and hosted (so to speak) by an Italian ebook-enthusiast Facebook group.
To make things a little trickier, I asked the guys in the group to pitch in with story prompts.
The one that will get more votes is the one I will write, in Italian.

And as we are talking about writing in Italian…

transaltingIt’s been suggested to me that I do translate into English a few of my so far Italian-only stories.
And I thought, why not?
Now I have only to decide what to translate.
Eroi dei Due Mondi, my steampunk-ish series about assorted Italians on Mars?
Gli Orrori della Valle Belbo, my collection of horrors set here in the hills where I live?
Or maybe Asteria, my Sword & Sandal series inspired to old peplum movies?

I’d be REALLY partial to translating Asteria, but of course opinions and suggestions are more than welcome.


New pitch and an old masterwork

I’m currently working on a new pitch – a very long shot, this one, about which the less said the better.
An alternate history crossed with a supernatural horror/dark fantasy.
The call has some very specific elements, and somehow it got me thinking of vampires and King Arthur.
Pendragon… Dracula… I’m using Son of the Dragon as a working title.

dragon-waiting-coverSo I’m jotting down ideas, but in the meantime I was reminded of the beautiful The Dragon Waiting, one of the best fantasy novels I ever read.
It was published in 1983, and written by John M. Ford, that always struck me as an author deserving of more success.
The novel, subtitled A Masque of Time won the World Fantasy Award for best novel, but never received the accolades it deserved.
Let’s just say that it’s a weird mix of alternate history and fantasy, set in the middle ages but with the long shadow of the Roman Empire hanging over the proceedings. And yes, an Arthurian myth.
And vampires.
I cannot recommend this book enough – it was reprinted in 2002 as part of the Fantasy Masterworks line, and that’s when I discovered it.
If you like sword & sorcery and supernatural fantasy, check it out.


How to write without inspiration (sort of)

she who maulsMy friend Yuri hates me, or so he says.
The problem emerged after my public writing session last week. Basically I sat down for five hours typing, and two days later I had a story to sell1. Yuri mentioned on Facebook the fact that he’d been staring at a blank page for a while, and therefore he hates me.
My answer to that was that he’d spent too much time thinking. You’ve got to start typing, I said. If after five pages you still don’t know where your story is going, then you have a problem.
Another friend of mine, Paolo, butted in, saying that following my rule, he’d never have written one of his recent stories – a big hard sf tale.
A good starting point for a discussion, but Facebook is not a good place for discussions of writerly survival. So, let me see if I can put this thing in some order here, and try to explain what’s going on.

This might be the first of a series of posts, I don’t know. Continue reading

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Missed posts, books and hangouts

And so I missed a post, yesterday.
Boy I hate it when it happens – it broke a streak that had lasted more than two months.

But I’ve been busy – I’ve spent most of the day editing and setting a new book that will be out soon, in Italian: a collection of eccentrics and their adventures.
Strictly non fiction, what I usually call pulp history – spies, adventurers, loose women.
This will be a 280-pages paperback, fully illustrated – and putting it together, and clearing the typos and everything else took all of the day. Now Amazon has it.

La storia fatta coi cialtroni smallThe book was overdue – I had announced it for Christmas, and never got around to finishing the design work. Then, Saturday night, during my hangout with my Patreon supporters, one of them mentioned the book, and how she had planned to give four copies as gifts for Christmas.
It’s very bad letting our readers and supporters down.
So I got to work, and finished what I had started – and while I was at it I added some 10.000 words of extras.
Should, as I hope, the book hit the shelves this week, it would be my fifth title published in five weeks. Not a bad track record.

And this leads me to my hangout with my supporters, and its immediate effects on my state of affairs.
Because it was absolutely great, and the sort of thing that I must absolutely do again.
Writing is a terribly lonely business, and solitude piles on solitude when you are living in a hole of a village in the back of beyond.
Feedback becomes a lifeline – a cure for depression, a sign that what we are doing has an effect out there.
And there is nothing better than a long friendly chat with intelligent people – and my patrons are all very intelligent.
So I’ll do it again – maybe next week already.
And this week I’ll open my hangout for English-speakers. This Saturday, 11 PM UTC.
What do you guys say? Anyone cares to join in?


She Who Mauls

she who maulsThe story that started its life as The Boy’s Night Out is now available, after a quick editing and some revision, as She Who Mauls, via Gumroad.

The ebook will not be published on Amazon.

I decided to put it up as a Pay What You Want ebook – after all, it was born as a publicity stunt, I’ll keep using it as a publicity vehicle.

You can get the story for free, or set the price you think is right.

Check it out!