Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Nothing wasted

Eighteen months ago, a publisher I respect a lot opened a tiny window for pitches – they were looking for a series of stories, and they wanted the whole package: premise, cast of characters, hooks, and short synopses of twelve episodes. And they wanted it within a week.

I had a great idea (if I do say so myself) and so I started putting the pitch together. Three days in, the publisher announced that all the available slots had already been filled – they had received pitches that were so good and solid, they had filled all the available spaces in three days.

So I shelved my notes and things. No way I could be able to do such a series as a self-published thing, and while I loved the premise and the characters, I had too much already on my plate to put some serious work in such a project.

Ten days ago, that same publisher opened again a tiny slot – for something completely different.
But this time I was ready – I only had to resurrect my notes from the folder where I had buried them, and tweak my pitch, to fit the guidelines, the request this time being for a stand-alone novelette.

And I am happy to report my pitch was approved – with minimal changes – in 24 hours.
I am in business – and I’ll be able to put on the page those characters I liked so much, and a lot of the stuff I had put together for the original pitch.

Bottom line: never ever delete a file.
Yesterday’s missed opportunities are tomorrow’s new chances.


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Selling the unknown

I have just mailed a four-page preliminary pitch to my Italian publisher, a proposal for a novel that might be fun to write, and might become the first in a series (one hopes) and might even have a chance on the international marketplace (ditto).

Now, a short pitch should include the working title, the general plot, and the major selling points of the book. The author, in other words, should tell the publisher why this book is the coolest book ever written, why it will sell in cartloads, and who is going to buy it (possibly multiple copies of it).

And here is the rub – one of the strong points of my story, I am sure, is that nothing like this was done before, at least in my country, at least within my genre of choice. I can point out TV series and movies, comics and books, that work on the same premises – or something really similar – but in Italian, as horror/thriller? No, never.

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Down the Nile on a steamboat

So it went like this. this morning, about one hour after posting the previous post in which I said I’m all out of time, overworked and juggling a lot of projects at the same time, I went and pitched a story to a magazine – and in half an hour I got a reply and a go ahead.
It’s not yet a sale, but it’s a new project with very good legs on which to stand.

Why did I do it if I’m so overworked?
Well, because it was a perfect opportunity to write a story I’ve been sitting on for six months now. Because I know and respect the editors. Because I live with this constant fear that the money will run out, and so I take as many paid gigs as I can get.

But let’s admit it – a five-lines pitch being approved like that is good for the ego. I am told that bragging about such things is in poor taste, but what the heck, it looks like I’m good after all.

So here now I am taking a break from my writing for a cup of tea, and meanwhile doing some lightweight research for my new project… and why not share?
Enjoy!


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Like an old girlfriend

This is a complicated story. It starts at the turn of the last century, as a 20-years younger myself is trying to create a character for a series of stories. I had just read Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of Seven Stars, hot on the heels of Kim Newman’s Seven Stars, and I wanted to do something similar.
In case you missed it, Stoker’s story (that you can find here both in the 1903 and in the 1912 versions) has been filmed a number of times, and many fans fondly remember the very loose Hammer Films version, known as Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (because Hammer knew how to sell movies), and featuring the delectable Valerie Leon.

There’s two things I found interesting in Stoker’s novel… (beware, here be SPOILERS!)

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