Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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In the Shadow of the Rat God

One thing that usually makes me laugh – or depresses me, depending on my mood – is when one of my esteemed Italian colleagues points out that I am too classy and complicated, in my stories, too off-putting and not ready enough to go down to the level of my readers. In a market that’s requiring increasingly simplistic and adolescent stories, being told by a colleague (or a publisher!) “you’re too classy” is the kiss of death, the professional equivalent of a 2-star review on Amazon.
Game over, man. Game. Over.

Right now I am writing a new Aculeo & Amunet story, and I have been looking for a title. To start on the right foot, I ran through the previous stories of the series…

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Pandora in Krasnojarsk

For my next story, that will be part of the Seven Lives Project, I have put together a handful of pieces, like cards in a solitaire, or pieces of a puzzle. I will start writing the story tomorrow, and work on it for the whole week, and once it’s ready (hoping it’s ready in a week) I will translate it in Italian, and post it to my patrons.
This, at least, is a plan.

But right now, these are all the pieces I have…

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Belle, Buck & Candle

There’s a thing that happens when you write, and it’s that story ideas keep coming at you, like hailstones, like bullets, like drops of rain during a monsoon. This is something non-writers often fail to see – they come to you and they tell you “You know? I’ve got a great idea for a story! Let me tell you, so you can write it and make lotsa money…”
And you think, “No, please, not again…”
Then they wink and mention their share of the profits.

Ideas are everywhere, you only need to keep your eyes and ears open.
And then you need to learn to filter them, and keep the good ones, and know which goes with what to build a story.
It takes some experience – you need to read and write a lot.

Then one day you are browsing Facebook, and you get the full package – a story that wants to be written, all there, all in one place.
Like this…

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Back to the Valley

Today I wrote a short story.
This has been a busy month, and indeed in the last two weeks I have submitted ten stories – but wait, I’m not that good.
The fact is, between August and September, I had to work on a couple of big projects that took up a lot of time. The little time left I used to relax, or to start working on a few shorts, that languished in various states of completion while I put much effort in the big ones.

By October the big projects were out of the way, and so I picked up the various half-finished things I had laying around, finished them and mailed to various editors. One already bounced back, but that’s part of the game.

Then, yesterday, two things happened.

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One short story in one afternoon

Today I am writing a short story.
Big news, you say. Sue me.
A stand-alone one shot, that still has ties with stuff I did in the past. I’m improvising most of it, but I still have a general outline of sorts for the first half. It’s going to be in the 5000/6000 words range.
The plan is to hammer out a first draft, have dinner, and then clean it up. Then I’ll mail it off to the editor, and hope he likes it enough to buy it.
Otherwise, I’ll look for another market.

These days are particularly stressful for a number of motives, and focusing completely on a short story, to be started and finished in one afternoon, is a good way to keep my mind frpm getting caught up in useless worries. There’s problems, and big problems, but problems on which I do not have any control. So, all I can do is wait and see, and face the music.
And try to keep sane.

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Music and Old Ones

I have just had a pitch accepted by a pretty high profile anthology, for some modern day lovecraftian horror. “Pitch accepted” means “hmm, sounds cool, can you write it? We might buy it.”
It’s actually much better than it sounds. So I am doing some research for the story, because one thing I find it intriguing, when writing Lovecraftian stories, is to lean on the science fiction side.

The pitch was an off the cuff sort of thing.
I saw the call, I pitched a story, based… listen this because it’s weird… based on the idea I am going to explore next on my Patreon podcast, Ten Minutes Till the Savages Come.
Because nothing goes to waste hereabouts, and any idea that can be used twice is twice as good.

An idea, in this case, that sits at the intersection of music, psychology and philosophy, and that’s backed by a thick pile of articles – most of them available online – that I am reading.

In the course of my research – that now goes to feed TWO projects – I am also getting the chance to listen to some cool music.
Like this…

Really, this writing business is getting more fun by the hour.