Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Stories in the works

Fairy tales again, but not in a noir/hardboiled style – this time it is science fiction: I’ve just got a call for a collection of SF takes on classic fairy tales, and here I am trying to figure out a viable plot. The pay is good, the limit is 15.000 words but I’m aiming for 5000.

The deadline is damn close – the 15th of December – but I have good hopes: I can write a story in two evenings.

So here I am juggling options – Sleeping Beauty is sort of obvious, you just change stasis fields for sleep spells, and it’s done. But it’s so obvious that it’s not such an original idea. And yes, originality is overrated, but sometimes it’s a good thing.

Otherwise, what?
A robotic version of Nutcracker?
Transhuman Three Little Pigs?
Jack and the Beanstalk set on top of a space elevator?

Back when I was in high school I wrote a story about a team-up of Odysseus, Loki and Sun Wukong, that looked like De Camp style fantasy, but was in fact science fiction.
The story was not very good (hey, I was 15!), and it’s been lost now for almost 35 years, but it might provide me with some neat ideas.

In the meantime, I have two further stories done halfway through, and in need of a serious shakedown – a straight fantasy with a sort of Dumas-esque setting, called Goblins by Candlelight (basically, a fantasy take on the home invasion genre), and an occult detective piece set – hypothetically – in Paris during the Belle Epoque. I want to have one of the two finished in the next 36 hours.
Insomnia rules.


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Insomnia – Five Books

If you can’t beat them, join them.
Isn’t that what they say?
My insomnia rages on. I sleep (badly) by day and I am wide awake through the night.
I work, I write, I watch old movies, I read books, and wonder what will become of me. Who knows, maybe that last bit is the reason why I am suffering from insomnia, who knows.
But anyway, I thought about doing something about it, and I decided to write about it. Big surprise, uh?melatonin on the rocks

I’ll start with blog posts, and then see where that takes me. I could setup a minimalist blog on some ultralight platform. Or do a podcast. A small, minimalist podcast.
I’d call it Melatonin On the Rocks.
A podcast that goes on air only when I can’t sleep.
Or I could set-up a live hangout every time I can’t sleep.
Or something.
This post is sort of a prototype.
A test run. Continue reading


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Rogue Male (1976)

My insomnia persists (hooray!) which means I’m up all night, and then during the day I feel like a wreck. As I usually do, I am using the non-required waking hours to do a little work, and then to catch up on watching movies.
So last night I tried to take a look at Tomb Invader, then after ten minutes I decided there are better ways to waste my life, and so I dug out two oldies: Orca, the Killer Whale and Rogue Male.
I also thought I’d do posts on both.
Let’s start with the latter. Continue reading


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76 pages in 12 hours

But in the end I did not make it.
I went through a ferocious bout of insomnia, and when I finally could not stay in bed any longer listening to the wind outside, I got up, fired the PC up, and wrote a book.

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Not a big book. A short handbook for writers.
Ten thousand words – 76 pages in paperback.
I uploaded it on Kindle about two hours ago, and then as I was at it, I also prepared a paperback copy. It will be on sale in two or three days – in Italian.

Well, OK, I cheated – I had the notes for my courses and workshops here on my hard disk already, so I only had to pick the bits and pieces that I needed, and fit them together, and then add a few examples, and create a cover.
And now I have my own writing handbook – very short on theory, but with lot of exercises, and a quirky approach to prompts, character creation and worldbuilding.
Nothing too original, admittedly – but original enough to be unique on the Italian market, as far as I know.
And hopefully it will serve as a good advertisement for my forthcoming workshops.

And really, back in the days when I created my folk-horror series, I was used to write a story, create a cover and publish the ebook over a weekend.
In the last three weeks I’ve published three ebooks.
Looks like I’m on my way back to the old standards.


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Sleepless nights and dinosaurs

This last week has been pretty weird all things considered.
It’s now 2 am as I’m writing this. My usual insomnia made a major comeback, so that I spent most of the nights up, and then crashed into a deep, dream-infested slumber after lunch.
Which sounds pretty lovecraftian, but is really bad for the little social life I still manage to have.
On the plus side, I spend the nights writing, and have now hit a solid 8000-words per day rhythm, and I am now actually hitting all of my headlines in time, if not with a certain advance. Right out I’m putting the finishing touches on a story I’ll submit tomorrow morning – if I can dream up (ah!) a suitable title.
And I’ve been following online courses.
Apart from the course I am following about heart diseases (because I saw what happened to my father and I want to live), I’ve been brushing up my Spanish (because I want to leave this country, and Spanish is quite widespread) and I’ve just spent a few hours refreshing my knowledge of dinosaurs with a wonderful MOOC from the University of Alberta, called Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology. Because, dinosaurs.

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By the way, this course actually starts officially next week, and if you like dinosaurs, it’s highly recommended: clear, in-depth, fun, and with some spectacular interactive support.
Check it out.

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Writing-relate insomnia – and remedies

Now, it was of course the Buddha who said expectations lead to suffering, and I just had a cold hard reminder of the truth of that statement.

sheep-2Now, true to Lawrence Block‘s observation that writers write all the time, I’m often in the habit of reviewing my current story, and planning further developments, in the time before I fall asleep.

It’s not anything particularly esoteric – it is not that I’m priming my subconscious to set my ideas straight during sleep or whatever.
Simply, it beats counting sheep. Continue reading


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Night-owl

NIGHTSHIFT4455I should be sleeping in the afternoon.

The recent incident with my leg, which forced me to wear a thick bandage on the shin and rest in a rather absurd position, caused me to spend long hours in the night fully awake, with the sole company of the Doobie Brothers, my books and my PC.
And tea.

And it provided yet another proof of the fact that I work best at night, when the countryside is silent (well, except for the Doobies on the stereo, if that’s the way I feel like) and nothing interferes with my brainwaves.
A sleepless night can mean two 200-pages books read from cover to cover, and maybe three or four posts written and scheduled for my blogs. Continue reading