East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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In half an hour

I have no idea what I will write, or why, but anyway, I’ll start a session of online writing in half an hour.


OK; I cancelled the link.

Here’s a quick overview of what happened.
I decided to tackle an open call for a short story themed “Temporally Deactivated”.
I started at 9.10 pm or thereabouts, and I stopped at 11.35, more or less.

I decided to do it like “a rookie’s first day on the beat”, and sort of winged it.
I knew the general direction I wanted it to go, but I found out my POV character was a woman only on the last paragraph.
It’s part of the fun of this free writing thing.
I had a few bad spells and I went down at least one dead end, but I was able to put 3000 words in the bag, with a proper beginning, middle and end.
Now I will let the first draft rest for a while, and then go through a second draft.
Then I’ll mail it to the editor, and see if they bite.

Thank you to the readers that were there to see what I was doing.
I hope my writing was not too ugly.
Remember, it’s all right to write a rubbish first draft if then you are able to edit it beautifully. That will be the real challenge.


Writing the blues away

The post for today did not go online as planned, due to a web glitch while I uploaded it.
This is bad!
Here’s the belated post.
Sorry sorry sorry.

old-typewriterI’m going through a writing bout – partially caused that my professional life has come to a complete standstill after my PhD dissertation.

So I’m sending CVs around, and writing like there’s no tomorrow.
Because, in all fairness, there could be no tomorrow.

To me, ebooks and author-published stories are really today’s pulp racks.
Which means I suddenly understand in a very hands-on way what being a hack in the golden age of the pulps might actually feel like.
A heady mix of dread and exhilaration.
Ideas come freely, and writing them is easier than usual.
As long as this lasts, I’m on a roll. Continue reading


Aculeo & Amunet serialized

English: Rud Khan Fort in The Northern Jungles...

A quick one.
As I said, things are moving fast for my Aculeo & Amunet stories.
I’m happy to report that the new A&A story, Severed-Heads Valley, will be published in six monthly installments in the Peripheries of the AncientWorld newsletter, starting this month.

Severed-Heads Valley is a 6000 words story taking place in late 277 AD, somewhere in the mountains of Northern Iran.
Hard-up for cash and stuck in a caravan town, Aculeo and Amunet accept to track-down the runaway wife of a horse merchant.
But they’ll get more than they bargained for.
Of course.

The Peripheries newsletter is a free resource for fans of my stories – you can subscribe here.
The newsletter will hit your mailbox once a month (ideally, on the last weekend of the month), and will include exclusive contents, behind-the-scenes, cover reveals, assorted sillyness and whatnot.
And no, we will not sell your data or your soul to anyone.
Check it out.

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Authority Issues

One of the best bits of being a writer (if on a part-time basis) and having access to the web is, I get very close to my readers.
I get feedback.
I get reviews.
I get shoutouts like “Bought it! Liked it!”

It’s the sort of stuff that really helps going on – even when sales are low and one can’t actually pay one’s bills with the money from the ebooks. Continue reading


Diversity in fantasy stories

This post takes its lead from what Unicornblues published on Way Too Fantasy.
Take a minute and please check it out.


Cover of Weird Tales (November 1935): The feat...I agree absolutely with the fact that given the wide choice of possible settings – historical, psaeudo-historical and completely made up – the matter of diversity in imaginative fiction and in fantasy in particular should be easily settled.
Heroic fantasy and sword & sorcery, in particular, play on elements which include globetrotting, clashing cultures and mixed, bazaar-like settings.
I could simply point at the Hyborian world Robert Howard created, and consider the matter settled.
Howard put Conan through the grinder in a variety of cultural environments, from quasi-Roman Aquilonia to the Harold Lamb-influenced horse tribes of the eastern steppes, all the way to the Black Kingdoms and the native-american-influenced Pictish forests of the north.

Granted, the Cona stories are not the model I would suggest for a multi-ethnical fantasy – but the setting does provide the tools for it.
Our modern sensibilities provide the need, and the spark, so to speak, to tell such stories.

But also, our historical past was much more multi-ethnical than we are normally led to believe.
Vikings raided the Mediterranean shores, the Chinese probably reached North America (and met the Aztecs? Wow! That’s a start for a good story! Or were they the Mayas? Ah, it would be great anyway!)
And obviously the Silk Road (you knew I was heading in this direction!) was a melting pot of cultures, genes, stories – witness the variety and diversity of the so called “Arabian Nights“.
No historical empire worth its name was ever a single-culture, single-ethnicity thing.

But let’s look at the whole thing from another side, shall we?

When I write fiction, everything in my story should be in the service of the story.
So, does diversity serve my story?
I think in most cases the answer is yes.
A well-varied, multi-ethnical or multi-cultural world simplifies a lot of things: it creates conflicts, hints at deep history, provides colour and wonder.
Avoiding such a powerful tool for the sake of some supposed “historical accuracy” is, in my opinion, not very wise.

All in all, using diversity in fantasy does not mean placing tokens in my narrative, but actually using characters and setting to make the texture of my narrative deeper and more satisfactory.
So, why not?