Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Another cover reveal: Water

Today I can finally show you the cover, by Ashley Walters, for the anthology Water: Selkies, Sirens and Sea Monsters, edited by Rhonda Parrish as part of a series of elemental-themed collections.
The book will be available soon, and you can preorder now.

The cover is absolutely beautiful, and the anthology includes a story of mine, a short called The man that speared octopodes.

You can read more on the book – and find a complete list of contributors – on the editor’s own blog.


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Give it a spin

It started because of the podcast I am producing and co-hosting with my friend Lucy. After we recorded the last episode, we started talking about a cancelled project for a spin-off series, and we both agreed we would have watched the hell out of such a spin-off. But there is not a hope in hell we’ll ever see it. Dang.

But of course the obvious follow-up was that if no official spin-off is made, a writer could always take the basic concepts, change the registration plates, give it a new paint job, and then give it a spin.
I mean, you can’t copyright story ideas, you can only copyright the way they are executed.

And so, after spending five to eight hours a day on my current ghostwriting gig, I decided to see what would happen if I spent one hour after dinner jotting down a few ideas.
Throw in a few other influences, change this and that… throw in a little John Carpenter, a little George Miller.
Add a political twist, but classy. Add a few original characters.
And I had to spend a while researching how much blood you need to lose in order for your heart to fail. fun stuff, what?

And now I have the first draft of a six-thousand-words story in the can, and two outlines for other two stories – one of which I dreamed, believe it or not … first time this happens to me.
And so I am seriously thinking whether it would be better to try and pitch the finished stories to a magazine, or self publish them. And again, self-publish as three shorts, or as a three-stories volume?
And where do I get a cover, or three?
And considering it’s been over one year since my last self-published ebook, will anybody be interested?
Ah!
But it’s fun, and it’s a relaxing exercise, because there are no strings attached – I am doing it for the best reason there is for writing: because I’d like to read these stories myself.
The result is pulpy good fun, without too many complications.
And the great bit is, these stories are starting to look like they are set in the same universe of my other project, the science fantasy adventure one. Which is fitting.
I might have a big thing here going, and no time to really work on it. As usual.


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Paris to Berlin and back

I’m writing a story, for a big anthology that will never, but NEVER buy a story of mine, but it would be criminal not to try, both for the money, the exposure and the company I’d be sharing. So, a hopeless task, but I am writing.
And this morning, while I was revising the first draft, the brilliant thought struck me, that I might get a better end result by moving the action fromParis in the 1950s (a venue I have used in the past in a couple of well-received stories) to Berlin in the 1960s (a venue I never used).

After two hours of on-the-fly research and assorted rewrites, I came to the conclusion that no, it would not work better in Berlin than it does in Paris. The problems I am seeing have nothing to do with the place, and the general atmosphere, or the historical and political moment. So back to Paris we go – at least I’ll be playing on my home turf, so to speak.

And this is, of course, one of the great advantages of writing over, say, film-making.
A complete change of setting can be done on a zero budget.

The problem remains that the story is not working as I want it to work, and this further lowers my already low chances of making a sale.
But of course this is the reason why rewrites exist.
Back to work.


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Buzz on Tint Journal

Tint Journal, is theĀ online literary magazine for English as a Second Language (ESL) creative writers, and in the spring issue that’s just been published you will find my flash fiction Buzz, together with other 24 pieces by authors from all over the world. The map shows were we all come from.

I am very proud of being in Tint Journal, as my status as a bilingual writer has always been somewhat a gray area – something I am sure I have mentioned in the past.
But here we are, Buzz is here exactly because of my bilingual status.
And it’s a great thing being on Tint Journal, because this is my first “literary” publication. Yep, just like the real guys, I’m writing literature.
The story is illustrated with a very evocative work by Patricia Falkenburg, and if you are willing to run the risk, you can also listen to the story read in my own ugly voice.
The lot, for free – but I urge you to support Tint Journal on Patreon.


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Back to high school

Today’s challenge is writing a 5000-words horror story that’s due for submission by Monday. I have the story outlined, and I’ve set down the first 2000 words – which also means the story will probably be closer to 6000 than 5000 – but it’s OK, because the top hard limit is 10.000 words, so I’m fine.
And yes, I have been told that all this talking about word-count and required lengths and other “technicalities” detracts from True Art(R) and impoverishes my Muse(R), because imagination should be free-flowing and unbound.
I have been told that.
By people that never published a single line of work.

Incidentally, I believe that discipline and restraints help creativity.
So, on we go with my horror story, and as the two characters are about to face the monster and fight for their lives, I’m taking a pause for a cup of tea.

Continue reading


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A land of ghosts and thieves

According to Murnau’s Nosferatu, Transylvania is “a land of ghosts and thieves” that, let’s admit it, is not the best tourist copy you can come up with, but is certainly intriguing. I was watching the movie, and when that definition came up on screen, I stopped the film and wondered what sort of country could that be, and what stories could be written about it.
And because I’ve been itching to do some writing, I just spent two hours writing a short story. Not a story set in Transylvania, mind you, but most certainly a story set in a country of ghosts and thieves.

It’s a short fantasy piece, maybe a little conventional, but it was a good exercise anyway, and a fun way to spend a few hourse away from Murnau’s dreary (in a good way) world. Then I translated it in Italian, and now both versions have been posted to my Patron page, for my patrons to enjoy.

I have been a very bad Patreon Creator throughout 2020, in part because of various personal problems, in part because writing stories I could sell to magazines took precedence. Following the current standard, stories posted on Patreon count as “previously published” for most magazines, and as a result they get paid a reduced rate. This is not normally a problem when my productivity is up to normal level – because I can write both for the magazines and for Patreon without much effort. But when my production flagged in 2020, it became a problem.

But right now everything seems back to normal, and there will be more stories coming, both for the general market, and for my Patrons.
Writing is going to be fun again.