East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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New tool: bullet journal

22350Things with pages.
I am a compulsive buyer of things with pages – books, sure, but also copybooks. I had an early fetish for those MEAD composition books with sturdy, thick cardboard marbled covers and rounded corners. But also, cheap Moleskine knock-offs from the Chinese supermarket, organizers, ring-binders.
I’m weird like that.
Last Sunday, during a provision run at the local hard discount, I spent two bucks on two oversized copybooks.
Why? They might come handy, I said to myself.

And today, during lunch break, I read a post about Bullet Journaling on Shanna Germain’s blog, which led me to googling about the subject, and so I discovered the joys and the promises of bullet journaling.
That’s the sort of thing I like finding out early in the new year, as this might be an interesting year-long experiment. Continue reading


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Introducing Wilfried Veidt

Coincidences happen.
94f6d9d4cde6257a83120fc02820c26cFor instance – today my friend Lucy posted on her blog a piece on the classic Conrad Veidt movie, The Man Who Laughs1.
A movie that, Lucy pointed out, is mostly known as the inspiration for the character and looks of the Joker in the Batman comics, an nobody remembers Conrad Veidt, that was a high class actor, anymore.
We talked about Veidt, that I remember as Jaffar in The Thief of Baghdad and as Major Strasser in Casablanca, and I mentioned my intention to see Tempeste sur l’Asie, a movie featuring Veidt and set in central Asia and Tibet.

Then, going back to my writing, I decided that one of the characters in AMARNA needed a new name, and so, the character being very secondary, I logged into Fantasy Names Generator), and got me a list of randomly generated German names.
The top of the list was Wilfried Veidt.

It’s the sort of thing that just happens, but never fails to surprise me.
I wonder now what other surprises herr Wilfried Veidt, “an independent researcher associated with a German university”, has in store for me and my story.

  1. the post is in Italian, but Google Translate is your friend. 

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Exploring the trash bin

waste-basket-2_21218052Confessions of a hack: I used to keep a copy of cut and deleted scenes from my stories, and I still do.
In the old times, I simply did a cut & paste into a TXT file I kept in the same folder of my main text, and nowadays I have an overflowing trash bin in my Scrivener file.
Turns out it’s a good practice if you have a Patreon page, because fans are sometimes interested in taking a tour of your dustbin in search of what does not get in the final edit, and maybe discover why that stuff was cut.
But the reason I always did it is, I recycle my trash – going through the cut scenes for good paragraphs of description or god snippets of dialogue that I can use somewhere else in the text. Continue reading

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The Chopping Squad on Patreon

The guy with the sandy hair and the Yankee accent ordered a second serving of pie and some more coffee.
“Thank you,” he glanced at her name tag, “Lucy. Best pie I had in a while.”
She smiled back at him, and walked back behind the counter. The bell on the door chimed and three kids walked in.
“What are you doing here, kids?” Lucy asked. “Skipped school today?”
Suzy Johnson was the older of the three, in a Shirley Temple get up, her knees dirty and her socks bundled around her ankles.
She ignored the waitress’ question. Her brother, Billy, was pointing at the man eating his pie.
“That’s him,” Billy said.
Her brother and the other boy in tow, Suzy walked to the stranger’s table.
Lucy crossed her arms and leaned on the counter.
Suzy stood by the table, staring seriously at the man.
“He says you a magician,” she said, in a confrontational tone.
The man turned and stared at her, then at the boys. He shrugged. “I used to be,” he said.
“Show me some trick, then.”
He put down his fork and closed his eyes.

A big first today: I’ve just sent a story to my Patreon supporters.
And I’m a bit nervous.
This being the Christmas season and all that, I chose a 6300-words horror/thriller set in 1930s New York and called The Chopping Squad.


The story was written for an anthology that never happened. Later, I expanded it to pitch it to another publisher, that liked it enough to ask me to try and expand it to short-novel length.
And I’m working on it.
In the meantime, I hope my Patrons will like it.
Now we are finally cooking with fire.

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Three ideas adding up

Selection_936The idea of writing shorter fiction is not a bad one – there is a market out there that pays good money for stories under 2500 words. As I mentioned a few days back, I am a long-winded sort of writer, but I am working at my shorter fiction.
And then there is AMARNA, and the idea I posted a while back, about doing something with Fantomah, the Daughter of the Pharaohs.
And so I thought… Continue reading

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Storium and the Writing Game

I mentioned Storium in my previous post.
I found out about Storium when I got hooked up into it as a result of my taking part in the 7th Sea Second Edition Kickstarter.
I took a tour, and was positively impressed.


Basically, Storium is a cross between a storytelling game, an old choose-your-own-adventure game book and a collective writing experiment. Continue reading