East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Asteria in the Court of Minos

I know you guys are eager to learn what happened yesterday in Nizza, when I crossed typewriters with my friend Fabrizio Borgio for four hours of intense fiction writing.
And I’ll tell you, but not right now.

Right now, I am happy to announce that the first episode in the resurrected series The Adventures of Asteria is out and about, finally in English. You can buy it right now on Gumroad (epub, pdf, mobi) and it will be up on Amazon in a few days1.

asteria 1 eng

Asteria in the Court of Minos pits the gray-haired amazon against the king of Crete, and his sinister counselor, the scientist-magus Aischyuras.
The Serpent Cult.
Giant robots.

Inspired by the old peplums and sword & sandal movies that were Italy’s own brand of fantasy film-making in the ’50s and ’60s, the Asteria stories play with time and space and historical accuracy, and often end with a big explosion.
I hope you’ll enjoy them.

All of Asteria’s adventures are stand-alone, novelette-length stories, and can be read and enjoyed in any order.

Next week…

Asteria in the Cour of the Great Khan

ADDENDUM: Amazon was faster than ever, and in about six hours made the ebook available. You can get it HERE


  1. my patrons have already received their free copy or their discounted copy, depending on their level of pledge. It’s good to be my patrons (or so they say). 

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The Imaginary Girls are coming

I mentioned this a few days back: Imaginary Girls is a fun project, halfway between writing exercise and flash fiction.
The idea: take one photo, and write a 100-words story/character sketch based on it. A “drabble”, to call it properly.
Any genre. 100 words. Not 99, not 101.

instagram-logo-7596E83E98-seeklogo.comAs I said, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and now I feel like trying, and here’s what I will do: I will publish my Imaginary Girls on Instagram.
I did a little research, and found out that Instagram allows up to 2200 characters of caption for the images that users upload. Continue reading


Rejection slips

Got a rejection in the mail this morning.
Short pitch for a novelette – general plot and a 500 words scene.
It was a long shot.
Two hours at the keyboard, one night, a long time ago.
It happens.
Getting rejection slips is part of the game of writing and submitting to publishers.
Sometimes our stories are just not good enough.
No conspiracies, no misunderstandings of our art, no bullshit.
The submitted material was not good enough.
A writer trying to make this their work should learn to take stock, accept the rejection and move on.
And start thinking at possible ways to recycle the material.

Talking of which… Of course my Patreon supporters might get a chance at reading both outline and sample scene, for their delectation.
I suffered for my art, now it’s their turn.

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Ramen Days

In the last thirty-six hours, more projects have piled up on my To-Do list.
Lots of stuff to write.
Some absolutely great ideas.
Things I want to do.
And that will pay a nice figure, in the long run.

And that’s the rub, the long run.
All these new beautiful projects laying here in front of me would require hard work and lots of time.
A nice bit of research, too.
And long hours spent writing.
And that’s OK – that’s the deal, that comes with the territory: you want your story, you sit down and work for it.
So that’s not really the problem. Continue reading

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Medium Plans

1_emiGsBgJu2KHWyjluhKXQw (1)I need some help.

Fact is, I am just totally fascinated by Medium.
It’s not just that it’s apparently very easy to set up, and promises to pay me if a lot of people read my stuff, but I like the idea of a primarily word-based platform.
Yes, one can drop an image in and all that, but from what I saw while I was working on another project, on Medium word is king (or queen, or whatever). And I like it a lot.

Uh, yes… for the uninitiated Medium is a sort-of-blogging platform that features some classical elements of other social media – like the possibility to upvote articles, and a focus on quality of contents.
And I like it, and I’d like to try and use it.

Only, what could I do on Medium that I am not already doing on Karavansara?
It would be the right place, I think, for more extensive and less improvised contents. I could write longer pieces, complete with bibliography and all the whistles and bells, somehow connected with my writing.
Articles about history, and about world-building.
It could be an idea.
A monthly thing, well-written and researched, but that would not steal too much time and energy from my other projects.

I guess my Patrons would see the articles first, and then I could post them on Medium.
Create a publication, maybe. [which means finding a title, designing a logo…]
Heck, my Patrons could even request articles!
Ah… ideas ideas ideas…
What do you say, ladies and gentlemen?
Help me make a decision.

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The Demoness with White Hair

I have just posted a 4000-words short story on my Patreon page, for all the members of the Five Bucks Brigade. Today I uploaded the English version, the Italian version goes up tomorrow.
It’s called The Demoness with White Hair.

As I explained, it all started with a 500-words test I did to apply for a gig as a freelance writer. I don’t have much faith in the result of the test, but I liked my piece, and others liked it too.
I got compared to Harold Lamb, of all things.
As soon as I stopped bragging to my friends, I decided I would like to expand that vignette, and do something more substantial with the barely sketched setting.
And I did it.

So, if you want to read my story, you’ll have to join the Five Bucks Brigade or hope and wait that I manage to sell the story to a magazine. But to kindle your curiosity, here’s some notes about the characters, and the setting. Continue reading

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At the feet of a giant

41T7fyFa80L._SX350_BO1,204,203,200_I discovered Harold Lamb pretty late in my life, about ten years ago.
I had retrieved, as a kid, a pair of biographies written by Lamb, I had found in my grandmother’s attic. They were from my mother’s collection of young girl’s reads. I think one was Tamburlane, and the other might have been Theodora.
I don’t know what happened to those books – I guess my mother gave them away. I was not overly interested in historical biographies, at the time I liked dinosaurs.
Only much, much later I found the collections published by Bison Books and edited by Howard Andrew Jones, and it was a delight.
“Who,” my friend Claire asked, “Lamb the one of the Cossack?”

I knew, through my readings, that Harold Lamb was a great author of historical adventure, “always the scholar first, the good fictionist second” as one of his editors said, and I associated his names with Adventure magazine, that to me was possibly more iconic than Weird Tales or Astounding.

Continue reading