Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


2 Comments

My theme is stronger than yours

The market is shifting at a heady speed hereabouts – and if not the market in itself, the way in which the authors marketed themselves. This morning I caught a colleague (an excellent writer, indeed) explaining that his fantasies always tackle strong themes under a thin patina of fantasy adventure. A thin patina that includes “hard knocks”, “big boobs” and “100% fanservice”, probably, considering that up to two days ago the same author was signalling those as the selling points of his fantasies.

This makes me feel infinitely tired, because I am really tired of this constant, desperate, aggressive hustling – writers trying to sell themselves as the answer to this week’s taste: this week is social awareness and “strong themes”, next week might be ultra-violence and mindless mayhem.
If it sells, it’s what I’m doing.
The quality of the story, and the quality of the writing, are becoming meaningless, when instead they might be sufficient to hook the reader.

Continue reading


8 Comments

One short story in one afternoon

Today I am writing a short story.
Big news, you say. Sue me.
A stand-alone one shot, that still has ties with stuff I did in the past. I’m improvising most of it, but I still have a general outline of sorts for the first half. It’s going to be in the 5000/6000 words range.
The plan is to hammer out a first draft, have dinner, and then clean it up. Then I’ll mail it off to the editor, and hope he likes it enough to buy it.
Otherwise, I’ll look for another market.

These days are particularly stressful for a number of motives, and focusing completely on a short story, to be started and finished in one afternoon, is a good way to keep my mind frpm getting caught up in useless worries. There’s problems, and big problems, but problems on which I do not have any control. So, all I can do is wait and see, and face the music.
And try to keep sane.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Burning down the Library of Alexandria

I have just finished the translation/revision/rewrite of my old story The Cursed Hieroglyph, hat I have half an idea of re-titling The Thing in the Library.
It’s been a lot of hard work, but I am quite satisfied with the results – Nennius Britannicus and his boys came out of it bruised and singed but certainly wiser, and the Great Library of Alexandria was burned down once again.
I mentioned this was, historically, quite a common occurrence.

Continue reading


7 Comments

The Shanghai Pirate from Mars

My friend Bando Masako, the Japanese horror writer of Inugami and Shikoku fame, once told me that the best way to secure a sector of the market and have commercial success, would be to create your own niche, your own genre.
“Something like Post-Calvino Italian Literary Fantasy,” she said. “In this way, if someone wants to know what Post-Calvino Italian Literary Fantasy is, they’ll have to buy your books. And anyone doing something vaguely similar, will be someone you ‘influenced’.”

It’s sound advice, and I’ve seen it happen, in both the large international market and the smaller, oxygen-starved Italian market.
Things like Grimdark, of course, or New Pulp, have become wildly successful, and EcoPunk sound promising, while New Italian Epic… ehm, we don’t talk about that.
It’s marketing. Noting wrong with that. The oldest profession.
As Gene Wolfe said “I write the genre that the drugstore guy decides when he puts my books in the wireframe holder – sometimes they place me by Asimov, sometimes they place me elsewhere.”

It was of course a time when drugstores still carried paperbacks.

Continue reading


6 Comments

Working for amateurs

One of the most unnerving things…
Oh, hello! You’re here!
This is one of those posts about the incredibly funny and surreal experiences of one that’s trying to make a living writing – a marketing guru guaranteed I’d get tons of likes and followers by telling you these stories… so!

One of the most unnerving things of working as a freelance is the clients that do not pay you in time, but then point out it’s extremely unprofessional on your part talking about it and pointing your finger at them.
What a horrid lack of class, mentioning money like that!

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Wine and Scrivener and Zelazny’s Corollary

In the end, I was able to run a Windows version of Scrivener in Wine, and I am back in business full time – and not a minute too soon. I was rather wary of Scrivener on Wine, but it works surprisingly well with a minimum of fuss. A backlog of work in progress formed while I was re-installing and updating my system, and now I have to work on the double to finish everything and go on with my projects.

My idea to hit fifteen calls within the month is still on – with a few changes.
The story Monkey & the Cat was supposed to go to a very low-paying market, just for kicks, but has at this point cost me so much time and work, that sending it to the original target market would not be profitable. In the meantime, what was supposed to be a 2000-words short has evolved into a 5000-words story, that also provides a glimpse into a world it would be nice to explore further, and the plot has moved away from the original theme of the call. So, I’m looking for a new market, and a high-paying one.

Continue reading