East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Leave a comment

Editing on a cold Sunday afternoon

There’s a chicken experimentally going in the slow cooker – new recipe, somewhat dubious – and I am wrapped in a blanket at my PC, editing three stories for publication – three stories I sold in December 2020 and that will be available in March, or later, via the respective publishers.

March 2021.
It feels at the same time very close (“heck, one fourth of the year is gone already!”) and very far (“March is like… six weeks away!”).
As usual, working on the edits suggestions from top notch editors is a pleasure – there’s a faint thrill of panic, but it is under control.

But sitting here on this cold Sunday afternoon editing stories I wrote last year and now will see publication, put me in the mood for more writing.
First, because we’re fifteen days into 2021 and I have not yet submitted any new story, and second, because I’d like to self-publish something, to capture the fast turnover that only self-publishing allows.

Anyway, right now, there’s some edits to be approved.
Then, we’ll start jotting down ideas again.

Leave a comment

Writing 1000 words

Between yesterday and today, I wrote and submitted two flash fictions.
The respective mags guidelines were pretty clear: not a single word above 1000.
Now I always have a problem with that… including the title, or not?
But apart from that, why not?

I have been working on polishing my flash fiction skills – for what they are – for quite a while now. I am normally a long-winded guy: I feel more comfortable writing a 4000-words story rather than a 3000-words one, 6000 is even better, 8000 is really good.
Publishers’ guidelines usually leave a certain margin – they tell you 4/6000, and maybe note that the sweet spot is 4500.
Flash fiction does not leave much room for wriggling about – if it’s no-more than 1000, that’s it.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Revision time

Tonight I spent about three hours revising my story Bottled Up, following the extensive notes I received a few days back from the project’s editors.
It was quite interesting, because revising took me almost twice the time writing the story had taken.
As I mentioned elsewhere, working with an editor is always a great opportunity to learn something new, and this was the case.

I cut mercilessly the excess text from the opening, and then expanded the action scenes, making life for my protagonist a little harder. In full agreement with the editors, I also shortened the sentences and clarified a few points. The only suggestion I did not follow 100% was about the ending. First, because the editors had reached a split decision about the effectiveness of that last half page, and second, because in my opinion it works and gives the story a nice symmetry.

And there’s not much you can do in 2500 words – but I actually cut 400 words and added 450 new words, so I am well pleased with what I did.
The short story is already on its way to the editors, and it will be out – hypothetically – this summer.

And over the weekend my Patrons will have a chance to see the opening paragraphs of the story, before and after the editing, with some of my observations.
Because it’s good to be my Patrons, or so the story goes.


24-hours vacation

1426741881.71Not much to show today – I spent most of yesterday’s night finishing my editing/cleaning-up/setting-things-straight work on a new novel.
The hard part was trying to make my Linux-based LibreOffice digest and show properly a MSWord document (the one my editor sent me).

But apart a few crashes and recoveries, it all went for the best.
Now, I’m relaxing a bit – and I just gave myself a big gift for finishing this big job.
I read wonders about Chris Willrich’s Gaunt and Bone series, so I got me the first volume, The Scroll of Years.
I love the Chinese feel of the artwork.
Now time to dig into it.


PS: I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but it looks like it’s snowing on my blog.
Apparently WordPress decided to get festive.


Swingy Thingies

One of the most entertaining and refreshing aspects of working with a great editor is sometimes you spend a whole night discussing swingy thingies.
Which disproves the old legend that authors and editors are often at odds, and engage in fiery discussions.
We were somewhat at odds, but we had a good laugh.

Consider the following contraption


This thing appears in one of the stories that will be published in the forthcoming Aculeo & Amunet collection – The Hand of Isfet. Continue reading


Learning Editing for the Wrong Reason

The Dawn Patrol (1938 film)

The Dawn Patrol (1938 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Its’ very late (4 am) and I’m very tired, having spent the day editing two scenarios for a roleplaying game, for a total of 15.000 words.

My brother helped me – we traded texts so that we would not suffer from “copy blindness”, but it’s been tough anyway.

And while I edited, I started thinking about some weird stuff going on in the heads of the people around here.

Last week a guy selling his services as an editor (in a rather unprofessional way – in my opinion, but that’s another matter) claimed many of his clients are not writers, but actually readers, in search of an approach to narrative which will allow them to understand if the book they are reading is worth their time.

Now, this idea is so mindboggingly stupid that I still want to believe it’s just a plain lie.

But just think about it for a second – people learning editing (which is something that requires long time and extensive practice, and there’s not two editors alike anyway) to be able to decide if they like what they are reading.

Based on the same principle, I should take a flying licence to watch The Dawn Patrol or study direction and composition to decide whether I like Dave Brubeck‘s music or not.

It’s demented.

And yet, there is this feeling, a lot of readers out there are not reading anymore, but they wish to wrestle with the story, outwit the author, and probably show they are better than him.
As if it was a video game, in which you need to outwit the programmers in order win.
And yet, you don’t need to get adegree in programming to play Monkey Island and have fun.

Weird people.