East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Night of the Befana

I have already posted in the past how, in the Italian tradition, on the night between the 5th and the 6th of January the more-or-less benevolent hag known as Befana brings little gifts to the good kids, and coal to the bad ones.
The Befana is a very old tradition, and apart from the bad press she got after being sanctioned as the Fascist Regime’s response to too-British Santa – so that in the 30s she became “Befana d’Italia” – it’s still a sort of smaller-scale Christmas in a lot of Italian families.

Traditionally, the Befana is said to bring the festivities to a close, clearing the field for the Carnival that follows.

We usually exchange gifts on this night in my house, simply because the festivity of the Befana also happened to fall on my mother’s birthday – cue to obvious jokes – and so we skipped the gift-thing on Christmas.
And now that our parents are no longer here, we’ll celebrate with a good dinner and we’ll exchange small gifts – or the promise of gifts “as soon as Amazon delivers”. Sweets, chocolate, oranges and tangerines, a watch for my brother, a few ebooks for me.

Then I will spend the night working – I have a translation that’s long overdue, and I’d also like to try and submit a two-page story to a call I received yesterday – it’s a low paying market, but it’s also a two-page, 500-words story. Why not?
It will be a fun way to take a break from the translation work.



While the world was sleeping and the countryside was silent under the rain, Karavansara reached and surpassed the 100.000 views mark for the year 2019.
This is a huge result – Karavansara received as many views in 2019 as it had in its first three years of operations together – and I am thankful to all the readers for their interest in my blog.

Thank you!

To celebrate this landmark, I’ve created a new blog cover, that you can see above. It is based on an ex libris designed by pulp legend Roy G. Krenkel, and it’s going to be the new look for Karavansara in the soon to begin Roaring ’20s.


The Occult Detectives are back

I am passing this along because it’s great news – the new issue of Occult Detective Magazine (formerly Occult Detective Quarterly) is currently available in print on Amazon. An ebook edition is forthcoming.
This is a big fat mag filled with supernatural thrills, and it’s just what the doctor ordered to have some fun for the end of the year.

And no, there is no work of mine on this one – but hopefully I’ll be able to sell some more stories to this fine magazine in 2020.

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Gifts for writers, readers and other adventurers

Wool socks, scarves and other knitwear, that’s what Christmas is to a lot of us. Case in point: as a Christmas gift, my brother just bought me a wool cap to replace the one that got picked from my pocket a few days ago while we were in a crowd.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, wool cap thieves are a thing.
But what about a list of gifts for readers, writers and in general the sort of people that reads Karavansara?
My marketing guru assures me these posts have a huge impact during the festive season.
Let’s see if he’s right.
Oh, and yes, there’s affiliate links in this post – feel free to ignore them.

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A long night

So the emergency has been stepped up, and we are here sitting and waiting for developments – developments that might be of the “move the PCs upstairs and say goodbye to your books” kind should the Belbo decide to leave its levees and come to pay a visit.

The critical time will be around 4 or 5 tomorrow morning (in 8 hours at the time of writing this) and so we’ll spend the night up, waiting.
I said that something would happen to kick me out of my black mood.
Here it comes.

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The countryside is dreary (and not in a good way)

Like Supertramp used to sing, It’s raining again, and the whole territory is under red alert for floods and landslides.
Yesterday night the take away pizza girl wrote down the wrong address – as a result, the pizza delivery guy drove under the pouring rain up to the door of our next door neighbour, and the moment he stood on their doorstep, the pizza boxed in his hand, the lady there started screaming, because who is this strange man bringing pizzas to her place in the middle of the night (as to say, a quarter past eight in the evening)?
My brother had to run there and intercept the lost delivery boy, and secure our dinner.

And I don’t know if this is a good starting point for the next Horror of the Belbo Valley, or if it’s just one of those funny things I should make cartoons about (if only I knew how to sketch) in order to attract people to my Patreon, as a social marketing guru told me about one year ago.
The only thing I know is it’s raining, the Belbo Valley is slowly slumping into the river, and we had to re-heat our pizzas in the microwave last night.

The dreariness of the countryside under the beating rain is not helping with my black moods and my general feeling of fatigue, the sort of things a warmed-over slice of pizza can only aggravate. And probably the two courses about forensic archaeology – that is, digging out the bones of the dead to find out what killed them – I am taking, while incredibly interesting, are not exactly contributing to cheer me up.

But who knows, things might get better.
They usually do.