Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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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.

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Another one for BUSCAFUSCO

I am happy to announce I am working on a new BUSCAFUSCO short story, that will hit my Patrons by the end of the month.
This is part of a special project I am working on (yeah, I know, I will tell you as soon as possible), and I am tapping the help of two friends for research. It will be a Halloween story, and it has to do with some pretty twisted real-life individuals and events.

Will the new story feature the Belbo Valley Crocodile?, you ask.
I’m afraid not.
But it might feature the Belbo Valley Panther – because, yes, here in the hills of Astigianistan, we have a lot of people with more money than sense, that buy illegal endangered wild animals, and then let them escape.

Maybe for this reason, the story is tentatively called “Ladies and Tigers”.


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Monkey & the Cat

Sometimes all the pieces fall in the right place at the right moment. And it feels good when it happens, because the world’s a complicated place, and it’s good to get some reassurance sometimes, that all shall be well – even if it’s a very small thing.

Yesterday night I was writing a new story (yeah, I know, life can be pretty monotonous hereabouts) – a short fantasy, steampunk-ish number featuring two strays, a girl and her cat.
I’m doing it with two different markets in mind – it all depends on how things will turn out. It’s going to be around 2000 words – I’m allowing myself six 350-words scenes (because YES!, I’ve got Scrivener running again!)
But anyway, I was checking my notes and trying to get the story off the ground, when for a number of circuitous reasons I ended up on YouTube and found this song…

Now I have the names of my two characters, and all of a sudden the story’s got legs, and is running. I plan to have it finished by tonight – I’m working on it only after dinner.
And no, the plot’s got nothing to do with the song, it’s just the name, and the way in which the characters coalesced as soon as I put names on them.
I think Monkey and her Cat will turn out to be fun characters to write.


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The Open Outline experiment

I’ve started a new thing on my Patreon, and I’m calling it Open Outline – part of my push to grow my page and my fan-base, but also a way to play with writing. Also, my patrons are a great crowd, and it looked like a good idea to try and harness their smarts to my advantage.

The Open Outline works like this: on the first of the month, I post the start of a story, roughly the first page or so.
During the following week, my patrons are invited to play with it – ask questions, sure, but also offer hypotheses about what’s going on, about where the story is going. They can suggest details about the characters or the setting.
At the end of the week, the best suggestions go into the story outline, and I add a brief treatment, explaining what I’m going to do with the story, and then we start round two – given what we’ve decided is going to happen… then, what next?
And then again.

By the end of the month, I’ll have a set of story notes I’ll be able to use to write a short story, that I’ll then post to my Patrons, giving all the participants a nice round of applause.
And then we’ll move to the next story.

Many of those that follow me on Patreon have some sort of interest in writing and storytelling, and I hope they’ll like the idea of playing with me. The others can just enjoy the show, and then read the story.
And to me this is a great exercise – because it means working with ideas that are new, different and fresh, and without a set target or destination.
As I said in a comment here somewhere, it’s good to keep busy – it keeps the blues away.


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No NaNoWriMo, rather MyShoStoWriMo

I’ve spent the last two months working on stories for third parties – novellas set in proprietary gaming worlds, ghost-written memoirs, on-demand fix-ups of old articles, short essays for specific publications, a handful of translations.
It’s good, because it means I’m working, and sooner or later, with a little luck, I’ll get paid.
I’ve also been working on various projects that are not yet taking off – plans and outlines, projects and proposals.
Again, this is really good. It means I’m planning, laying the foundations of work for the next months.
I am also working on a real fun project I’ll tell you about in a few weeks.

But I need to stretch a bit.
Writing on demand is good and fine, but I want to go back to sitting at the keyboard, hammering out a story in two evenings, and then send it off to the editor.
It’s the fun part of my job – and even the panic that strikes when I’m about to press the SEND button is part of the game.
I need to go back to writing short fiction for fun and profit, or I’ll give in to dread and sadness, and old age will swallow me up.

So, for my next trick…

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The Inn of the Four Winds

I am writing the second novel in the Sabatini sequence – The Ministry of Lightning, that for some obscure reasons (you’ll have to read the book to know) comes after The Ministry of Thunder.
Computer mishaps apart, it’s going nicely, with just one problem: I have two prologues.

Now, my friend Claire, that is a fine writer, and not a hack like myself, repeatedly told me that novels need no prologue and epilogue, because that’s something that happens in theatre, not in books.
But what the heck, I grew up watching James Bond movies, and I like a nice pre-title sequence. To set the scene and mood, to hook the readers, to start with a bang, but also with a few questions.
Only, for Ministry II, I have two.

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The Sistine Chapel with crayons

The moment they ask you to write a fantasy short, roughly 6000-words, taking inspiration from Italo Calvino, you sort of feel like you’re looking up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel while holding a pack of eight crayons.
And you go, oh, shucks!

But let’s make it a little more interesting – not just any story, inspired by Calvino, but a sword & sorcery number, with action, wit and swordplay.
Inside a shared world.
Do you feel lucky, punk?

I did, and then, I needed the money.
So I went and wrote The Queen of Spades.

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