Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The pinball effect

On the 19th of October 1903, at the Princess Theater in Manchester (UK), Ellen Terry opened as Beatrice in Bill Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, that happens to be one of my two favorite Shakespearean plays, but this is another story.
Admittedly, a Beatrice somewhat long in the tooth, considering that Terry was born in 1847 and was therefore 56 years old at the time.

This bit of information is particularly interesting because I am writing a story – called The Adventure of the Manchester Mummies – set (also) in Manchester in the late autumn of 1903 – and knowing that Ellen Terry was in town with a Shakespeare play has absolutely nothing to do with the story I am writing, and I doubt I will ever use the information, but is the sort of strange fact that surfaces while one is looking for something completely different – train timetables, in this case.

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Weird Western, First Draft

My weird western story is done, in first draft: two sessions, about four hours, 1600 words – which is fine, considering the call is for stories between 1000 and 5000. This call was different than usual, because it asked for a story to fit a pre-existing setting – it came with a set of characters, a place, a bit of background.
It’s hard, but I like working this way, once in a while – it’s a good exercise, it’s good for discipline.
Also, considering the proposed rate of payment, I needed to make it fast, or it would become anti-economic.
I guess I did it.

Now I’ll let it rest for the night, and have a go at it tomorrow morning – a little editing, and an extra 200/300 words because there is a point I know needs some expanding for both structural and narrative reasons. I’ll add a scene, and balance the story. Add some flavor too.
Maybe 150 words to cut, also.
And I’ll need to find it a title.

And then it’s off to the editor, and fingers crossed.
It’s not my usual kind of story, but it has potential.
All I can do is wait and see.
But it’s been a good day, despite the rough dinner and the day-long wind and rain.


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The tipping point

This week marks the moment my work on my new novel gets real. So far it’s been just playing, warming up, tossing ideas about. Now it gets serious.
I have no ETA, I have a poor excuse of an outline and a fair idea of the two main characters. And the general concept, of course, but that’s been there waiting for years. I don’t even have a date for the actual start of the writing. But now I know it’s about to begin.

I know it because today the postman delivered a book I needed for my research. It’s been a sort of hunt – I spotted the book while browsing Amazon and went “hmm, might be interesting to slip this bit, too, into the story…”

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Valerie

yesterday I pitched a story featuring a sort of revived (yet again) and slightly improved Valerie Trelawney – and should the pitch bounce back, I might try and write something anyway, because going back to my old character has been like meeting an old friend.
Or an old girlfriend.
Who knows what will come out of all this?

Myself, on Karavansara, February the 8th, 2019

Well, the pitch did not bounce back, and it was indeed accepted.
Hooray! So now I’ll have to re-acquaintance myself with Valerie, and then write the story.
And it’s going to be fun.
Just like meeting an old girlfriend.
I will tell you more in detail.
For the moment, here’s a good song…


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Maybe not a good idea

You are tired, still cranky for the long tail of a bad case of the flu. It’s cold and the forecast says snow. You have been having strange dreams when you manage to sleep,and have been listening to Japanese music these last three months. You are short on money and have a ton of stuff to write in the hope that someone will pay you and you will have enough to pay the next mortgage installment.

So you spend the whole night up, drinking green mint tea and writing the first four thousand words of a new story. One that you might, it’s true, pitch to a publisher, but that’s the mother of all the long shots.

And you do not just go and start a new story. No, you start writing a new frigging novel. But wait, it gets better than that. You start writing the first novel in a series.

That’s crazy.

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Titles

Two thousand words into a four thousand words story that will turn into a six thousand words story, I have a title for the thing but not for the series that this story is part of. This is the sort of problems that writers face, and there’s nothing about it in the handbooks.

There’s a lot of things you need to do when you write that the handbooks don’t cover: finding a title for the story and/or the series, writing a blurb…

The story i s called Weekend in Monaco, like one of the Rippingtons songs I’ve been playing in the background while writing. The fact that the story is set in Monaco is also significant.
This will be the first in a series and the first in a new bold experiment etc etc.
I have the characters, the premise, the action and twelve – count them, twelve! – stories already outlined.
But what do I call the series?
I might in the end just go for the name of the main characters, and call it Gastrell & Molinot.
But I’d like to do something a little more… umph.
Oh, well, first let’s write the stories, and see if they work with the public…


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The first submission of the year

I have just mailed off to the editor the first submission of the year, a 3100 words story called The Melancholy of Princess Bilkis – a Tale of Zothique. As I have mentioned in a previous post, this is for me the opportunity to publish a story in celebration of Clark Ashton Smith, an author I greatly admire.

I wrote the whole story last night, starting at 1 am and finishing at 7 am. As soon as I finished my story, LibreOffice, which I used for the final edit and revision, froze three times in ten minutes, each time forcing me to recover the text and start anew. And then my PC hung, and restarted itself.

Let’s consider these hangups a sign that my story is good, and will probably sell, and the ghosts that haunt my house once again tried to make my life a little harder.