East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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The Taste of Ashes

I am happy to announce that my post-apocalypse/pandemic horror short story The Taste of Ashes has been published on The Dread Machine, an online horror magazine that features high quality stories (and has a great retro logo).
Despite its theme, the story was written before the COVID hit us, and it is therefore just a case of life imitating art.

The story is currently available only to the subscribers, and indeed I urge you to subscribe to the magazine to access a wide variety of excellent stories.
Once the limited run is done, the story will be available to the casual readers, and I’ll post a reminder here.

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Lady gumshoe

Writers have all sorts of strange superstitions, rituals and quirks. I like to keep a coin balanced on edge on the desktop while I type: when the coin drops, it’s time to take a break. Silly stuff like that.

But now I might start a new personal superstition – I only have to announce here on the blog that I’ll be working of a fun project just because, that some serious work lands in my mailbox.
For instance…

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Horror and adventure

There is a very attractive call for stories that cross horror with adventure, and when I saw it I thought “Ah, that’s a job for me!” … but in two days I doodles a lot, and came up with nothing.
Which is disheartening, because… well, because writing is my job and my idea of fun, and I have always loved adventure.

So I started going through all the resources I had about adventures.
And here is what I found that got me writing.
I thought I’d share.

Now that the adventure angle is covered, I’ll just need to add horror.
And I’ve found an idea in that direction, too, inside this video.
I’ll keep you posted.

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Trying to be sexy

Tonight’s challenge: try to come up with a viable idea for a sexy story about time travel – because there’s a new market I’d like to make a sale to, and that’s the gist of the guidelines.
It would be a thrice-good thing: breaking into a new market, making a sale, and trying my hand at something new.
And yes, I’ve written time-travel stories before.

So here I am, racking my mind – and quite frankly, I was never sexy in my life, and I don’t feel sexy right now.
Too many worries, too many distractions.
But this, too, is a way to fight back.
Keep doing new things.

Now if only I could dream up an idea…



I have been in the habit of bribing myself to write – I set targets and little awards for reaching them. Finish this story, and you’ll get a serving of ice cream, or a Mars bar.
Which, in a village where a Mars bar goes for two bucks, is no small thing, you will agree.

Right now I am writing a short story for an anthology submission, and while I have a good idea of where the story needs to go, and through which specific way-points it’s got to go to get there, I am having a hard time finding the proper voice and tone for it.
I really like the theme (a cross-over of history, myth and weird fiction) and I really want to make it into the finished book, but I’ve been wasting a lot of time.
So I was looking for a little bribe for finishing the job.

Then, a friend posted something on Facebook.

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Write what you know

Back in the days of yore (meaning, for all practical purposes, the summer of 1993), with my brother we got this strange idea of joining the Friends of the Egyptian Museum in Turin. It made perfect sense: we were both interested in archaeology, and my brother was taking a university course in Egyptology. We spent a lot of time in the museum, that at the time was still in its old, “classic” configuration.

So we went looking for the Friends of the Museum office, and were quite surprised when we discovered

  1. it was only open one morning per week
  2. it was not open even then

But being young and persistent, and this being summer and we on vacation, we basically staked out the place, going there every morning for two weeks, until we finally found the door to the office open, and walked in.

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Fugue a deux

This morning I woke up and I wrote a story, in 35 minutes flat. Not a long story, of course – 1200 words. I spent about an hour straightening it afterwards – moving words around, and doing all the little checks and tweaks one does before submitting. Then I formatted the five pages in the Shunn format took a deep breath, and mailed the story to the editor.
Now the wait begins.

I submitted the story to a very quirky, high-profile anthology – and should it be accepted, it would mean being published together with authors I respect a lot.
The story is called Fugue a deux, and it’s a short piece about make believe, the purpose of fantasy and love – or at least that’s how I described it in the cover letter. It came out more or less spontaneously, and it’s pretty raw, and silly.
It might be “inspired by real events”, but that’s a detail.

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