East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Home Improvements and Future Plans

homeA brief report on the status of things, as I’ve been working on the blog (instead of sleeping).

My busman’s holiday is almost over, and in september, I plan to do some major work on Karavansara, tightening the schedule and improving the blog.
When I started Karavansara I did not have a clear plan – I just wanted to jump into the action and try my hand at blogging in English, after seven years as a blogger in my native language, Italian*.
Now the shakedown run is almost over.
The home improvements I started in these days will go on in september, october and november, and by its first birthday this blog will be fully funcional and cruising at full tilt.

As of now…

. Karavansara now has its own mail account – I can’t promise a prompt reply (news travel slowly through the desert), but if really there’s something you can’t tellm or ask me publicly in a comment, now you can mail here…


. Karavansara now features a dedicated Twitter account – you can follow this blog @KaravansaraBlog

. a Zemanta account and plugin should grant better contents, more options, links and stuff on future posts

. we are getting listed in Technorati

. I’m are now on Wattpad, which might be a fun way to distribute some of my stuff

. I’ve been toying with Plinky, a fun web-service that provides daily prompts for posts… but Karavansara refuses to share contents with Plinky (or viceversa) so I’ll have to do without**

In the meantime, the Karavansara Facebook Page is getting a lot of visits (but not many likes, alas!***), and the Karavansara Pinterest Board is featuring hundreds of wonderful photographs and links.

Not bad.
More’s to come.


* I still blog in Italian, on strategie evolutive and on Il Futuro è Tornato
** But writing prompts are something I’d like to feature somehow in Karavansara. I’ll have to work on a few ideas.
*** Yes, you might drop by and gives us a Thumbs Up. It would be nice of you. Thanks in advance.



Finding an alias

secret-identity_designI’m not particularly hot about pen names.
I happen to like the name my father and my mother gave me – and I like to have my achievements marked with my name.

On the other hand, while the vast majority of my colleagues in academia tend to find my activity as a fiction and gaming author perfectly all right, a few sometimes make a face at the idea.

How can you reconcile your work as a scientist and the fact that you write stories about little green men?

Now, disocunting the facts that
a . finding work as a scientist is getting harder by the hour
b . I never wrote a story about little green men

Discounting this, I was saying, I normally reply that I like to think about my readers as smart enough to tell scientific papers from fantasies.
If nothing else, scientific papers tend not to have weapons and monsters in them.
But anyway, it can get hawkward.

Also, should things get really going, an author might need a number of alternate identities in order to place his or her stories on a variety of different markets at the same time – or on the same market!
Henry Kuttner used at least 21 pseudonyms, often appearing with more than one story in the same magazine, under different names.

name-tagSo, what if I wanted to find me a pen name?
Is it enough to open the phone directory at random two or three times, jotting down and mixing&matching first and last names?
Well, not exactly.

First, the author’s name on the cover influences the voice in which the reader perceives the narrative.
That’s why romance stories are usually presented as written by female authors – the female “voice” ringing in the reader’s head is considered more or less a given.

Which makes me wonder – is there a connection between the default “voice” of science fiction and fantasy and the fact that a lot of authors go by their initials?
H.P. Lovecraft. E.R. Burroughs, C.L. Moore, J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, C.J. Cherry…

Second, the name should fit the genre.
Sometimes it’s clear it’s a pen name, so why not use it to reinforce the product?
P.J. Storm does not write the same genre as Mary Walker.

And as we are at it, and we design our pen name as part of our marketing strategy – let’s check if the name’s already in use on the web.
can we use it as part of our email address, of our website URL, of our Twitter or Facebook account?
Will our alter ego be the first to pop up in a Google search?

All of this, plus the fact that we want our alias to be easy to remember, hard to get wrong (ever thought about what it means to be called J. Michael Straczynski, in terms of typos and bad searches?), and fast to sign (who knows, we may make it big with our stories, and find ourselves at conventions signing huge piles of books for the fans*.)

Finally, we should decide if our pen name will be just that – a name – or if we need to create a full alternate character, with a bio, a photo, the works.
This, again, might be part of our marketing strategy.
We are selling not just the story, but the author.

All of which means, it’s a lot of work.
But – with a little luck – I’ll be doing it soon.
If a certain story sells.


* As Blondie used to sing, dreaming is free.