Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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A drink with Mary

So, here’s what’s happening: I am writing a short story.
Big deal, you say – that’s what you do for a living, of course you’re writing a story.
Which is somewhat correct, but let me explain…

Saturday this thing appeared in my mailbox…

An evening drink on the beach in Sicily, with a side of an appearance by the Virgin Mary (whose Ascension was celebrated on Sunday), and a complimentary rosary.
Free admission, donations welcome.

You see where I am going?
How could I not write a story about this?
Tackling my brother’s passion for cocktails, and my old interest in Tiki lounges and exotica?
Of course I had to do it.

So there you have it.
I’m writing it.
Then I’ll post it to my Patrons.
Then… we’ll see.


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Beginnings

In the last year, keeping my Patreon up to date has been hard – in part because of the general sense of fatigue that weighed me down, in part because of the need to try and sell everything I was writing, in order to cover the bills and buy food.
So yes, I have been a very bad Patreon Creator – and I have lost a few Patrons because of this, and I am really sorry, because these are people I have let down.

But now things are, if not looking up, at least no longer looking sideways, and I’ve just started a new series of Patrons-only posts, in which I will pick the opening of a novel or short story, and analyze it, to see what the author did, what work the first lines do in the economy of the book.

These are short posts, that I will upload both in English and Italian, and are a fun way to look at writing technique and, maybe, discover new and old books.
Being short, I can manage to put up two per week, for as long as I have novels to examine. Half the posts about the openings will be uploaded in the weekends, and go to all my Patrons, and the other half will be available only to the stalwarts of the Five Bucks Brigade. These I will post during the week.

For starters, I have posted the opening of C.S. Forester’s classic adventure novel, The African Queen, for all my supporters, and the opening of Daniel Kehlmann’s Thirty Years War fantasy Tyll for my Five Bucks Patrons only.


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Crows & Foxes

About one year ago, before all hell broke loose, and before I found myself trapped into the Ghostwriting Job from Hell, I started working on a project I called The Conversations of Crows and Foxes.
I even announced it on my Patreon.

Then, as we know, everything went to hell in a handbasket, but the idea remained – I’d love to write a series of imaginary folk tales, using them to explore a secondary world, a fantasy land different from ours, but not too different.

As it usually happens, the project has laid dormant for twelve months, but today I received a copy of this photo…

… and it looks like it’s time to get to work.

It makes you wonder what they are talking about, right?


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A land of ghosts and thieves

According to Murnau’s Nosferatu, Transylvania is “a land of ghosts and thieves” that, let’s admit it, is not the best tourist copy you can come up with, but is certainly intriguing. I was watching the movie, and when that definition came up on screen, I stopped the film and wondered what sort of country could that be, and what stories could be written about it.
And because I’ve been itching to do some writing, I just spent two hours writing a short story. Not a story set in Transylvania, mind you, but most certainly a story set in a country of ghosts and thieves.

It’s a short fantasy piece, maybe a little conventional, but it was a good exercise anyway, and a fun way to spend a few hourse away from Murnau’s dreary (in a good way) world. Then I translated it in Italian, and now both versions have been posted to my Patron page, for my patrons to enjoy.

I have been a very bad Patreon Creator throughout 2020, in part because of various personal problems, in part because writing stories I could sell to magazines took precedence. Following the current standard, stories posted on Patreon count as “previously published” for most magazines, and as a result they get paid a reduced rate. This is not normally a problem when my productivity is up to normal level – because I can write both for the magazines and for Patreon without much effort. But when my production flagged in 2020, it became a problem.

But right now everything seems back to normal, and there will be more stories coming, both for the general market, and for my Patrons.
Writing is going to be fun again.


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Five Days Novel – I can’t do it, but…

Based on my current wordcount (32.000), it is plain to see that I cannot write and edit a novel, from conception to finished draft, in five days. Granted, I had a few time-wasting accidents along the way, and will end up with a solid fill-length novella, still needing a thorough review.
But 50.000-words worth of novel ready for upload on Amazon in 5 days?
No.

For me, the limit for that sort of feat is seven days, and in this I find myself more in line with Dean Wesley Smith’s Writing a Novel in Seven Days. One full week is more my sort of thing – five days are too tight if you can’t fully isolate from the outer world.

But while more hangups loom over the weekend (including a deadline for a submission I want to hit), crippling the final mile of my marathon, there are still a few takeaways from the whole experience, and this is good. Let’s see…

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5 Days Novel – the boring parts

So we have passed the 25.000 words mark, and we are coming to the end of the middle and the beginning of the end. Or something.
And the middle is always a problem. That’s where the story sags, where the excitement of the start is gone, and the excitement of the finish is yet to come.
I have no figures about this, but I think this is where most people drop their writing and move on to another story, or another job altogether.

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