Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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4 Against Darkness: Island of (something or other)

And the second novella in the 4 Against Darkness series is done, all 18.000 words of it. Now I’ll let it rest briefly, prune it of the useless bits, and then after dinner I’ll send it along to Ganesha Games for revision, editing, and the addition of art and a meaty gaming appendix.
The only thing still missing is the title.

Originally I pitched it as Rock Island (like the Jethro Tull song, in keeping with my habit of naming my gaming books from songs I like). But Rock Island for this baby is lame.
Then I thought about Island of Thieves, which is not bad, does not give away any detail about what actually happens in the book, but it’s intriguing, and it’s actually a thing that’s said in the story.
But I would really like to call it Island of the Screaming Statues, that is sort of an homage to Elric, and fits the story to a T.
And I really think I’ll go for it.

All in all I have built a fine sword & sorcery caper, with a few neat monsters, a twist I’m sure the readers will like when it hits them – maybe two twists, actually – and a few other nice bits and pieces.
The first story, Heart of the Lizard, was a success and is still selling steadily, and I can’t wait to give to the fans a second serving of the adventures of Haq, Kil, Gress and Varda.

But now, I need a short break because my hands hurt.


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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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Running out of time

Both literally and metaphorically, that is.
And both globally and personally, in more than one way: I have a ton of things to do, time is running out on a number of deadlines, and one of these is for a 4000-words story about… time running out, for all of us.
Looks like my writing life’s become terribly meta, and all that.
And it gets better (well, sort of)

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Think fast: outlining a novella in two hours

So what happened was this: after posting about my idea of writing a story based on a character like Captain Katanga in the Indiana Jones movies, I was discussing details and possibilities with my friends online.
Stuff like who’d be part of the crew, would they operate only in the Mediterranean or extend their activities to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, would they kick Nazi ass exclusively or would they also punch some other occasional colonial bad guys… stuff like that.

And one of my publishers dropped me a line…

“You know where to send this one once it’s finished, right?”

And so, considering the pitch had already happened and worked without me doing nothing, I went and sent him a proper proposal and an outline for a 30.000-words novella.
Straight away.
No barrier between thought and action.
That sounds damn smooth, but first I had to put together a 1000-words/4 pages outline, and do it fast.

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An evening with Mr Shunn

A story bounced back, about one hour before dinner. Polite, cold, standard editor’s mail: good story, not our genre, worth keeping on the lookout for a publisher, good luck.
Oh, well, it happens.

As we dined it started raining again – there’s storms passing across the skies of Astigianistan – so no after-dinner walk tonight.
I sat down and started tweaking that story – it’s been so long I had forgotten a lot of things. I revised it. Cleaned it up.
Cut about 150 words. Nothing major, on an 8000-words number.
Tightened the dialogue a little, made some minor adjustments.
Checked for American vs English spelling.

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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.