East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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#StoryADayMay 2023

This year too I’ll be taking part in StoryADay May,

A month-long short-story challenge in which writers write (finish) a short story every day In May.

Why, you ask.
Because it’s free.
Because I am “between jobs” and I am beginning to feel the existential dread of not being able to write/sell any more stories in the foresee4able future, and thus sink into poverty and madness*.
Because it is objectively a very good way to do some writing and replenish my portfolio of stories. Once I have written my May stories, I’ll have the rest of the year to submit them and try and sell them.
Because it is a great opportunity to try new and different genres, or test-drive new characters or settings.
Nice and smooth.

During the month of May I’ll be receiving daily prompts – that I may or may not choose to use.
The idea is to write a story a day – that is 31 short stories.

But because the rules of the game are flexible, I am setting down these personal rules for myself

a . “story” means both fiction and non-fiction. I may decide to write a few articles instead.

b . blog posts do not count as stories (but I may later on post some stuff I created during the challenge)

c . flash fiction is OK

d . I will write and finish at least 5 stories a week (basically, I’m keeping my weekends free). At least means I’ll strive to go for 31 stories anyway.

And this is it.

Less than 24 hours to go, then we begin.
Let’s see what happens.

(*) this, incidentally, is a real form of anxiety that comes with writing for a living – if you can’t write/sell your stories, you do not make a living. There are no guarantees. Every new sale, every paid bill, is at the intersection of hard word and sheer luck.

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A story a day (again)

I’m currently editing a new short story that should come out by the end of the year in a new anthology. And I am waiting for an answer by a publisher about a pitch for a novel that I have submitted. And there are two more stories I plan to write and mai – the deadline being September.

But in the meantime, because life is too easy as it is, I have joined the StoryaDayMay adventure. I did the challenge last year, and one of the stories I wrote not only sold nicely, but it was also longlisted for an award. And really, what I need is a little fun – I have been writing with very specific targets for so long, this runs the risk of becoming a job.

And I guess my long-suffering Patrons will benefit from a sudden burst of short fiction shenanigans on my part.

As the guy said… stay tuned.

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Gearing up for #StoryaDay May 2021

Novel writers do the NaNoWriMo, where they churn out a first draft of a new novel in the month of November, and they post a badge and blog about it. Short story writers have their own high-pressure challenge, and it is StoryaDay May: we set our own rules, but the basic idea is writing a new original story each day, for the duration of the month of May, based on a prompt provided by other writers.

I did it last year, and ended up with 20-odd flash fictions, half a dozen of which I sold in the later year – and one was actually longlisted for the BSFA Award.
So deciding to do it again was a no brainer.

My own rules for this run are pilfered from my friend Claire’s own run – because I am lazy, and because why re-invent the wheel, right?
So here they go…

  • Flash fiction.
  • At least five stories a week.
  • First drafts only. No revision – not at this stage.
  • And I’d like to say “No research”, too – but… yes, well. Let us keep it at “No rabbit holes,” shall we?

That’s absolutely perfect. I particularly appreciate the rabbit hole bit, because… research, right?

If I will be able to keep up with this, I might end the month with 20-odd flash fictions again, and then I’ll be able to revise them, and send them off into the world to provide money to buy food and pay bills.
Because that’s the way I do it.

Last year I used Scrivener, but since this year my copy of the software refuses to run on Linux, I’ve shifted to Focuswriter, that’s proving to be quite good, and comes with typewriter sounds for those moments when I feel nostalgic.
So the idea is simply to write all the flash fiction into a single file, separating them with a “##”, and then sort them out later when I will revise.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Cruel and Unusual

Quite a few years back, I used to contribute reviews and articles to a small literary magazine based in Turin. It was a lot of fun, I met some great people, and started to develop the habit of writing regularly on themes and with schedules set by others.

The magazine hosted a number of independent writers, and it even had some international contributors. One of these was a Japanese gentleman who was writing a book about the Tokyo underworld of fetish and BDSM clubs. He would send chapters to the magazine, that published them as a series. He was quite a good writer, and his pieces were always a great read, very literary and really in no way X-rated.

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#StoryADayMay, day 4: Clockwork

As promised, every week I will post here on the blog one of the stories written for the #StoryADayMay challenge. I will also post the prompt, so that you can see where I come from. And in all fairness, I’ll add a Ko-Fi button at the end, in case you feel like buying me a coffee to keep me going.
Your call.

And today we start with the prompt provided by author Joe R. Lansdale:

It was easy to repair the clock in the tower after the headless corpse was removed from the gears. Before that, it was thought to be a problem due to the age of the machinery, but except for the decapitated body, its mechanics were functioning perfectly.

And now, my short story… this was written in one hour flat, and I did not edit it save for cleaning up typos.

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Brushing shoulders with the greats

One of the most interesting bits in the #StoryADayMay challenge I am doing is, the daily prompts we get and must develop into short stories come from professional writers that support the initiative.

And so today I got a writing prompt from Joe R. Lansdale – a giant in the field and one of my favorite writers.
When I opened this morning’s mail I was starstruck for a few moments, then copied and pasted the prompt in the Scrivener file in which I am writing all my stories.
The prompt is really good, and I really look forward to developing it.
And I think – should I be able to write the story – I’ll post the finished work here for you all to read.

Just a little patience.

In other news: I’ve just got contracted for a new story for a forthcoming anthology, and there’s another coming… things are picking up.


A story a day, for a month … what could ever go wrong?

Let it be known that it is all my friend Claire’s fault.
Me, I was minding my own business, trying to type faster and close as soon as possible all the works I have hanging and…
Really, it’s her fault!

But over at her blog Scribblings, Clare wrote about this thing called #StoryADayMay, the brainchild of writer Julie Duffy.
Basically, they send you a prompt every day, and you write a story.
As simple as that.
And I thought… why not?

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