East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Real Writer’s Essentials

I have finally achieved one of the mainstays of the Real Writer’s curriculum: a fine collection of rejection slips. The gist is the same for all of them: the editor really enjoyed my story – great ideas, nice twist, quirky language – but they did not enjoy it enough to publish it.

In the last 24 hours two stories bounced back.
Flash fiction, little more than 1000 words between the two.
One was instantly revised and sent to another possible market, the second is still here, all 300 words of it, while I look for a suitable venue.

I’ve been writing a lot this last four weeks, work for hire mostly, and this has caused a lull in my submission process. I need to write more stories to submit, I need the time to write them.
Which is funny, because as a writer full-time, I now need to find short snippets of free time to write my own stuff.

Meanwhile, the bills pile up.
Isn’t this writing business a hoot?


Five books that got me started

Over at her place, my friend Jessica Bakkers posted a list of the six books that made her what she is, as a writer. Great idea. It’s fun, it’s easy to put together in the form of a post, and we are always ready to learn more about the writers we follow, and maybe find out a few new books to read.
So, why not steal Jessica’s idea?

Now, I actually already did something similar, a while back, listing the authors that had most influenced me. The ones I wish I was as good as. A shortened list, one that I could (and maybe will) expand.
But let’s look at this thing from another angle.

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Poetry Month

Turns out April is the Poetry Month. It must be the spring.
As a direct consequence of this, I received a list of 25 publishers that accept poetry this month, and I find myself thinking… hmmm, 50 bucks per page!
Yes, my poetic spirit sits very close to my wallet, these days.

But it’s not proper to be so cynic.
I never wrote poetry. This might be a good opportunity to try.
After all, wasn’t that the gist of the excellent guide to poetry by Stephen Fry I read a while back?
So, why not giving a try?

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Oh, frell!

Getting old is sometimes a cruel experience. I have just found out one of the TV series I liked the most when I was not-so-much-a-kid-anymore is today considered “obscure” and described as “one of the lesser known science fiction shows”.

It is really a weird sensation because I know that it’s been 17 years since the series was cancelled, but in this age of total recall it should not be a problem – you can get it in streaming, you can get the DVDs.
Is there really so much good new stuff that there is no time or interest for anything older than, say, five years?

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Writing habits

Yesterday I missed my daily post here on Karavansara. There’s nothing wrong or strange or worrying. I was simply so busy writing, I looked up at the clock and it was past midnight and I had missed my daily appointment.

I try and post at least once per day as a form of discipline. A writing habit, as they call ’em. Being able to write 500/1000 not-too-boring words per day is a way for me to organize myself, and to keep the words coming. Shift gears, change topic, tone, style, and relax.

And I find it interesting that my writing distracted me from my writing habit.

While I was otherwise engaged, Amazon released Sons of the Crow, that you can now buy here for (relatively) cheap.

I was also able to submit another story for an anthology – we’ll see how it goes. We keep exploring.
March has been a lean month for story submissions – too much work to do on other projects, that I am eager to close. I only posted three stories, one of which bounced back, and one that was accepted pending editing and things. Not bad, all things considered.

And also, I reached the enviable record of 25 positive reviews on Goodreads for my first novel, The Ministry of Thunder, with a solid 4.32/5 average. Not bad. Adding these to the 15 5-star reviews on various Amazons (10 only on Amazon.com), it makes quite a nice number of satisfied customers. And I am quite happy with it.

So, I missed a post, but I did a lot of other stuff.
Now, back to writing. Have a nice weekend.


The tipping point

This week marks the moment my work on my new novel gets real. So far it’s been just playing, warming up, tossing ideas about. Now it gets serious.
I have no ETA, I have a poor excuse of an outline and a fair idea of the two main characters. And the general concept, of course, but that’s been there waiting for years. I don’t even have a date for the actual start of the writing. But now I know it’s about to begin.

I know it because today the postman delivered a book I needed for my research. It’s been a sort of hunt – I spotted the book while browsing Amazon and went “hmm, might be interesting to slip this bit, too, into the story…”

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In the end it was a matter of money: I had this Amazon gift card, and I was going through one of my periodic book hauls. There was a book I had been curious about for years, and there it was – the paperback edition, priced 5 bucks, exactly half the price of the Kindle edition.
So I ordered it, and today the postman dropped it – and boy does it look ugly.

The book in question is Monkeys with Typewriters, the “reading and writing” handbook by Scarlett Thomas. I like the works of Thomas a lot, and as I said I wanted to read her writing handbook forever. I sort of collect writing handbooks, and this one looked like a good addition to my collection. Also, a few friends highly recommended it.

I hate the cover. I am sorry, because I realize it’s the work of someone that put skill and effort in it, and I get the whole ironic/postmodern idea. It’s just that I don’t like it.

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