East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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crest_square-b23dbe8d9b80265765b27ccd9b5d4811I mentioned NaNoWriMo, in a previous post.
I will not be doing the NaNoWriMo – but this does not mean I do not respect and support the brave souls that give it a spin.
Way to go.

My suggestions:

  • get yourself a good writing software: I am partial to Scrivener that usually is available at a discount in this time of the year (you find a link in the sidebar)
  • get yourself the free and excellent WorkRave or a similar software that forces you to take pauses and do relaxation exercises
  • stock tea and biscuits or your comfort food of choice
  • tell naysayers to get lost

The reason I will not be doing the NaNoWriMo, now, is… Continue reading


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Last week before Halloween

It’s the last week before Halloween, so let’s see…

I have to finish and deliver a 12/15.000-words supernatural thriller (think Kolchak, but set in the present day), by the end of the month.
The story is already outlined and I have a fair chunk of story, but now I’l have to start working on a map of Memphis1 (don’t ask).


The deadline is the 1st of November, but I will have to close my story earlier because… Continue reading

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Once an editor handed me a raw deal, and I went with a howl to my friend Bill for advice. He was a writer of twenty years’ experience, and a man of wisdom. He heard my howl, and then smiled.
“Remember one thing,” he said. “Before you do or say anything rash, just reflect that the editor is the man that sends out the checks.”
(H. Bedford-Jones, This Writing Business, 1929)

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634432And so The House of the Gods is finally on its way to the publisher, a 47.000 words manuscript full of dinosaurs, adventure and cliffhangers.
Including a real cliffhanger, because I am worth it.

I normally send to my publishers multiple versions of the file – odt, rtf, docx and PDF.
This way I’m pretty sure at least one will read no matter what system they are using.

And as always, hitting the send button causes a long shiver of fear.
Is the story good enough?
Did I leave in some embarrassing typo or some ugly grammar blunder?
Did some chunk of text get scrambled, or vanished, or slipped thirty pages on?

But then the mail goes off, and it’s over for a while.

And as the manuscript goes out, a mail comes in from a publisher I submitted a novelette too.
It would be great were it twice as long, they say.
Well, I’ll make it twice as long – heaven knows how much I cut to stay in the novelette wordcount.

But first, I have two other novellas to write.
Today I’m on vacation, reading Curse of the Pharaohs, but tomorrow we are on the run again.

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Art crimes and story ideas

One of the questions you should not ask a writer is

where do you get your ideas

And yes, I am about to start an Idea Club (you pay one buck a month, I send you an idea per week)… no, OK, joking.

Back to the post – ideas are everywhere.
Just to give you an example…

I am a subscriber to a wonderful mailing list that is called Culture Crime News – I found out about it when I followed a MOOC about art crimes.
The mailing list is maintained by professor Donna Yates, that teaches Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime at the University of Glasgow, and writes a wonderful blog called Anonymous Swiss Collector.


Culture Crime News drops in your mailbox weekly, with stories about art and antiques crimes: looting, trafficking, theft, swindles and what else, with links at the pertinent news clips, from all over the world.
And it’s a treasure trove of ideas.

For instance, from today’s issue: Continue reading

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Face to face with the Owlbear

I just wrote a short D&D-like scenario featuring an Owlbear.

OwlbearFor the uninitiated, the Owlbear is often considered one of the five silliest monsters in the old Dungeons & Dragons canon. But exactly because of this, I have a soft spot for it in my heart.

I was asked to participate in a project for a free, limited print campaign to celebrate a nice independent retroclone at the next Lucca Comics & Games fair…
The game, by the way, is called Antiche Leggende, and you can find more about it here.
And so they asked, and what the heck, I decided I’d do it.
How long can it take, to draw together a 2000-words maximum scenario in the style of the old Red Box? Continue reading