East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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A new short story for my Patrons

They say it’s good to be my Patrons, but really, it’s good to have my Patrons – and this is the reason why I give them exclusive contents: like a short story I just posted to them, both in Italian and English.

I also added a little piece about how I wrote it, why, and using what building blocks, one of which is the following photograph.

Yeah, it’s good to be my Patrons.


Genie in a bottle

Well, not exactly.
The main character in my fantasy story Bottled Up is an imp, not a genie. Taxonomy is important – I am a paleontologist, you see.
But the story sold anyway, to a Canadian anthology.
So this makes two short stories sold in one day.
And for this one I have already signed the contract.
I am incredibly happy. I might get used to this sort of thing, I think.

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Oh, damn!

So I spent most of last night listening to some music (I’m currently on a Shiina Ringo/Tokyo Incidents bender) and fitting together the little pieces of a short story based on the guidelines I posted yesterday.
You know, the one about the wrong sort of leading lady.

It was not easy, it required a lot of staring at the screen and playing solitaire and what not.
But finally, I got all the bits and pieces in place, and the mechanism worked like, well, clockwork, while still leaving me enough margin to improvise and keep the narrative lively.


Continue reading

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Empty places in the dark

And I’ve another story in the can.
It’s called Empty Places in the Dark, and it’s a (maybe not so) supernatural horror story for a forthcoming anthology (contract signed, now it all depends on the editor).
Six-thousand odd words, nice and smooth.

fort ord abandoned barracks

The story – that underwent some massive rewrites in the last two days – is set in my hometown of Turin, and features a great female lead (if I do say so myself).
Also, the whole set-up is so intriguing (ditto), that I’d really love to explore it further with more stories, or maybe developing the short into a full-fledged novel.
Who knows.

Anyway, another story finished.
I’m getting good at this sort of stuff.
On with the next (but maybe not today).

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Flash! (fiction)

I’m struggling with flash fiction.
Well, ok, it’s not a titanic struggle, but still it’s giving me problems.
Now, there is not a proper definition of flash-fiction in terms of word-count: you’ll find a wild range of figures, from below 300 to up to 1000, and beyond.


But let’s say, for the sake of discussion, that I’m working on a 1000 words story.
It’s hard.
And what makes it hard is genre. Continue reading


Reading for writing

41I5CmtqNWL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_On the subject of writing handbooks, I think I already expressed my unorthodox views – as far as I’m concerned, if it works for you it’s fine.
Me, I collect the things – and my friends know, and often give me writing books for my birthday, or for Christmas.

One thing I think is a pity is, most writing handbooks are written with the absolute beginner in mind – they spend all of the time talking about Point of View, Show Don’t tell, Infodumps and Exposition, and then maybe they give us the short version of the Hero’s Journey.
Nothing really wrong with that but, ok, let’s say I got that part by the time I was 16 and by the time I was 20 I had learned – thanks to authors like Tom Robbins or Elmore Leonard or Lawrence Block or Karl Hiaasen – that all of that stuff was good and fine and writing was something else altogether.

So I do collect writing books, but I really really cherish advanced books.
And I was given one for my birthday – it’s called Narrative Design: working with imagination, craft and form, it was written by Madison Smartt Bell, and it is a book about reading. Continue reading