Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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One from the Frontier

My Patrons – lucky guys! – have just received their copy of Shadow of the Ephemeral, a short story in the ongoing Tales from the Frontier, my somewhat Talbot Mundi-esque loose series of short tales set on the border between not-exactly-India and China-but-yet-again-not.

In the story, we meet the exalted Rakhshan Hortonho Bakkar, warrior-poet of Mangtani, Lord of the Spice Islands, Most Favored by the Heavens, as he leaves the Court of the Rani behind and travels to the mountain to pursue the Ephemeral that is the true meaning of life.
You can imagine the rest.
Or maybe not.

The story is available to all my supporters in the Five Bucks Brigade (or above), because you know what they say, it is good to be my Patrons.


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Steve Loves Linda, a short story of the Old Timers

The Old Timers were a loose bunch of aged superheroes that I contributed to my friend’s Alex Girola’s shared universe 2 Minutes to Midnight. In a setting in which superheroes were members of government-sponsored teams or worked as part of corporations, the Old Timers were masked avengers hailing from an older, pulpier era. They remained in the sidelines and stepped in only when it was time to set the more traditional and modern superheroes straight.

I watched the Amazon Prime series The Boys, this last weekend, and then I got to talk with Alex and a few others of our old accomplices in the 2MM series. The original comic of The Boys had been one of the inspirations of our shared universe, together with The Authority, Watchmen and other revisionist comic series.
And we had lots of fun as long as it lasted.
It would be good to go back, we said.

And it turned out that each one of us had at least a story there waiting, and more stories to write.

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Me, Steve Perry, Fritz Leiber and why I won’t write about kids on bikes in the 80s

This is a weird post (maybe the title could have forewarned you) and it is a part of something larger I’ve been trying to put into words these last few months. It has to do with marketing, platforms and brands, and writing for a living – indeed, it is the sort of post I usually write once or twice a month for my Patrons, under the header of Nuts & Bolts.
But I’m doing it open because… well, because.

We were discussing nostalgia and exploitation, yesterday, with some friends that have been binge-watching the third season of Stranger Things. The series has been called exploitative and manipulative by some. It ticks all the right boxes, and it settles in a general trend that builds commercial success on the nostalgia for the ’80s by people that are too young to actually remember them.

And as we were talking, a song started playing in my mind…

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Just let me write this blues away: 2000 words

I have just churned out 2000 words out of nowhere, in a single sitting. One hour. My hands hurt, I need a cool drink, but now here I have the first half of a short story that’s absolutely unwanted, and that will never find a home. It’s a free writing exercise, the sort of thing that happens when I say frell it all, let me just write!
It’s also sort of a prequel of my novella Parabellum Serenade, that I’ll (hopefully) will self-publish this autumn.

It’s a war story, set in an alternate timeline in which the Great War spun out of control as the Bolshevik Revolition spilled into the West, and the resulting mess of revolts and military coups intersected the great epidemic of Spanish Flu, and then things went down the drain.
Someone might label it Dieselpunk, or whatever.

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Ocean of Storms

It’s been fifty years, give or take a few days, since we first set foot on the Moon. One of man’s greatest achievements, one we should be all proud of.
I was there, sitting on the floor in front of the telly. I was two years old and I only have very confused memories of the screen and the excitement around me – and probably they are second-hand, false memories.

The doorstep of the universe, and we had finally placed a foot on it.
Then things went differently than what we dreamed.
We had to think about “real important stuff”, I guess, like building bigger cars.

But moon dreams are what pays my bills, so I wrote a story.
A short hard SF number, about the Moon, and the future, and us.
It’s called Ocean of Storms, and I’ve just delivered it in various formats to my Patrons.

Because it’s good to be my patron, or so they say.


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Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Writing

My brother, who plays the role of my conscience better than Jiminy Cricket, told me yesterday that I have to grow my Patreon. I was telling him that I started following a Japanese girl who has a Youtube channel where she teaches Japanese, and has over 900 supporters on Patreon, for an average of $ 5 per follower per month.
I have 42, of supporters on Patreon, people who trust me every month and bet on the fact that I will continue to write.

“You have to make sure you get more,” my brother tells me.
“Eh, it’s not easy,” I reply. “This girl holds courses, she teaches, it is clear that those interested in learning Japanese follow her …”
He shrugs his shoulders. “You also hold courses on your Patreon. That writing thing … “

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Revision time

Tonight I spent about three hours revising my story Bottled Up, following the extensive notes I received a few days back from the project’s editors.
It was quite interesting, because revising took me almost twice the time writing the story had taken.
As I mentioned elsewhere, working with an editor is always a great opportunity to learn something new, and this was the case.

I cut mercilessly the excess text from the opening, and then expanded the action scenes, making life for my protagonist a little harder. In full agreement with the editors, I also shortened the sentences and clarified a few points. The only suggestion I did not follow 100% was about the ending. First, because the editors had reached a split decision about the effectiveness of that last half page, and second, because in my opinion it works and gives the story a nice symmetry.

And there’s not much you can do in 2500 words – but I actually cut 400 words and added 450 new words, so I am well pleased with what I did.
The short story is already on its way to the editors, and it will be out – hypothetically – this summer.

And over the weekend my Patrons will have a chance to see the opening paragraphs of the story, before and after the editing, with some of my observations.
Because it’s good to be my Patrons, or so the story goes.