Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Hey, this seems to be working!

This week I pitched a new story to an anthology, and wrote and submitter four short stories to as many magazines and anthologies. And this is very good, because as I mentioned, the last weeks of 2020 and the first weeks of 2021 had been a bit slow, and I was having a hard time writing.

And the fun thing is, I have developed a new modus operandi that, at least with 3000-words stories (this being the word-count of my four submissions this week) seems to work just fine.
So, why not write about it?

Here’s what I am doing.

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The fun of being absent-minded

Today my plans were thrown in disarray because as the clocks struck midnight – or thereabouts – Amazon delivered the latest ebook by Aliette de Bodard, the novella Fireheart Tiger, that I had pre-ordered when it had been announced.
I tend to use preorders on Amazon sparingly, because my credit card is usually on a rollercoaster, and it’s unpleasant to receive the email saying “funds insufficient”. But it’s a good feature.
Of course, then I forget about the preorder, and the book turns into a surprise package.

I also had a brief discussion about miss De Bodard’s penchant for novella-length fiction – something some local readers find unpleasant, while I think it’s absolutely perfect. As I grow old, I find short stories and novellas to be a lot more to my taste than super-massive trilogies – and indeed, short stories, novelettes and novellas are also what I like writing, not just reading.

So, my planned day of writing was derailed by the new book – but I managed to write 2000 words of a new short story, a Gothic tale featuring a ghost (of course) and a monster, and a sinister finishing school for young women. Now I’ll let the story rest, and then I’ll revise it and send it to the prospect market for which I’ve written it.


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Something good, finally

The last 36 hours have been good.
I have landed two writing gigs that will keep me busy for the next few months, I am revising a novel because there is a publisher that might like to give it a look, and today I sat down and cold-wrote two thousand words in one hour – the start of a story I will publish under an alias, and my current personal record.

The year 2020was tough, and this winter put me to sleep, but apparently I’m coming out of hibernation, finally.
Writing comes easy again.
Which is good, because the bills will not pay themselves.

So the plan now is to spend the weekend writing – even slowing down to 500/750 words per hour, by Monday my new story will be ready – unless, as I fear, should it decide to develop more than expected.
And yes, it feels good to be back.


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A land of ghosts and thieves

According to Murnau’s Nosferatu, Transylvania is “a land of ghosts and thieves” that, let’s admit it, is not the best tourist copy you can come up with, but is certainly intriguing. I was watching the movie, and when that definition came up on screen, I stopped the film and wondered what sort of country could that be, and what stories could be written about it.
And because I’ve been itching to do some writing, I just spent two hours writing a short story. Not a story set in Transylvania, mind you, but most certainly a story set in a country of ghosts and thieves.

It’s a short fantasy piece, maybe a little conventional, but it was a good exercise anyway, and a fun way to spend a few hourse away from Murnau’s dreary (in a good way) world. Then I translated it in Italian, and now both versions have been posted to my Patron page, for my patrons to enjoy.

I have been a very bad Patreon Creator throughout 2020, in part because of various personal problems, in part because writing stories I could sell to magazines took precedence. Following the current standard, stories posted on Patreon count as “previously published” for most magazines, and as a result they get paid a reduced rate. This is not normally a problem when my productivity is up to normal level – because I can write both for the magazines and for Patreon without much effort. But when my production flagged in 2020, it became a problem.

But right now everything seems back to normal, and there will be more stories coming, both for the general market, and for my Patrons.
Writing is going to be fun again.


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The power of the Longlist

Thanks to my inclusion in the BSFA Longlist for the short fiction award, I’m experiencing a sudden surge in popularity – a friend interviewed me for his YouTube channel, and now the local news “is available for an interview”. And I am really eager to see what will happen, considering the last two times they wrote about me, they got my name wrong, once calling me “Daniele Menna” – because “Davide Mana” is such a complicated name to get right.

This is very strange.
I wonder what might happen should I win… women tossing their bras and their hotel room keys to me, like they did with Tom Jones?
And also, what would happen, should I not get an award – which, let’s be realistic, is the likeliest eventuality – … what then? Oblivion, hostility… what?

All of this is a sharp reminder of the fact that such things can be gratifying, and of course I’m excited about being longlisted and all that, and it’s an important sign that I am doing at least something right, and an award would be crazy good, but one would be wrong putting too much stock in all of this. In the end, the stories are all that remains, and what people felt reading them.

Which is the reason why I am happy to have sent away two pitches today, and I am currently working on a third.
Daniele Menna can probably rest on his laurels. I can’t.