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The Earphones Diaries are back


I am pleased to announce that The Earphones Diaries, my daily unrequited and mostly unwanted reviews of the records I am listening to, is back online after a two-weeks hiatus due to somebody signalling my Instagram account. You can find The Earphones Diaries here , or down at the bottom of the sidebar. It’s music. Maybe music you don’t like, maybe music you don’t know, maybe music you’d like to check out. Original link
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Drabble and Double Drabble!


Orson Welles said that the absence of constraints is the enemy of art Orson Welles and I cannot deny he was right. He knew, after all, a thing or two about art and constraints, and he was Orson frelling Welles! I was reminded of Welles quote this morning, as I got a call for a horror anthology looking for Drabbles and Double Drabbles. A Drabble is a thing Monthy Python invented for a lark: a novel in 100 words – not one less, no one more. A Double Drabble is, as you can imagine, a novel in 200 words. And by novel I mean it has to have character development, dialogue, stuff happening, like a proper 500-pages blockbuster. I wrote my story, called The Girl Who Knew, and mailed it at lunchtime. ...
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Writing to make sense of the world – Bella Hardy in Yunnan

Here’s an interesting by-product of my continued exploration of what music can be found out there (and of my currently-on-hiatus Earphones Diaries). Bella Hardy is an award winning British folk singer, and I do listen to folk music, so I was interested in checking out her recordings. I became even more interested when I discovered that Hardy’s 2017 album Eternal Spring was written and recorded in Yunnan Province, China, and included English lyrics set to traditional Chinese music. Then I found a short documentary about Hardy’s Chinese adventure – it’s called From the Mountains to the City Lakes, it is extremely on topic here on Karavansara, and here it is, for your enjoyment. Original link
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Doing business the punk way


While I like the metaphor of the writer as liar and cheat, as stage magician and cat burglar, there is no denying that, as a writer, I am a business. I am a one-man company that builds stories, and then sells them. Sometimes I sell to publishers, that (hopefully) will take care of the marketing and distribution of my work, sometimes I am a self-publisher, meaning that “my company” has to handle most of the aspects of distribution and marketing of the specific products. In both cases I need to be able to keep my company going. Build more stories, develop my brand and expand my reach, find new clients. Not necessarily the part that I like of being a writer. For this reason I am reading Carolin...
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A Kickstarter for a Clark Ashton Smith-based movie


OK, guys, we need to move fast: the Kickstarter for The Last Incantation, an indie fantasy movie based on a short story by Clark Ashton Smith will last only 9 more days and the crew needs still about 500 dollars to hit the target and actually make the movie. You can see all of the details here. If you read this blog, I don’t need to tell you who Clark Ashton Smith was, what an indie fantasy movie is, and why these could be the best ten bucks you spend this year. Original link
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Action sequences, Indiana Jones-style

Nice overview of how it’s done… Original link
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A character in 15 words

She was one of those people that order their books on the shelves by color. Original link
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Portrait of the artist with a young cat


My brand consultant tells me it would be a neat move to enhance my impact to have a FinkoPop mini of myself on sale at fairs and conventions, and also via Amazon and this blog. After all, he said, if David Lo Peng from Big Trouble in Little China has a FunkoPop doll, why not me? And it turns out that one can actually preview how such a thing would look like. In this case, like this. Incidentally, this is the last silly post of the vacation period. We’ll resume posting about stuff that really matters, such as the top kn/hrs speed of the average camel, tomorrow. Original link
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Imps & Minions anthology is out!


I am pleased to announce that the anthology Imps & Minions, edited by David F. Shultz, Don Miaesek and K.M. McKenzie is now available for purchase both in ebook and as a paperback via Amazon . A hefty 500+ pages book, the volume collects 34 short stories about imps and other unusual critters in the service of powerful masters, and includes my short story Bottled Up. If you are looking for some insight in the day-to-day lives of those who serve the evil overlords and carry out the nefarious errands of the black sorcerers… well, now you know what you need to read. Original link
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Killer Crisis – an idea for a story I’ll inflict on my Patrons


When I was young and foolish, I used to write short stories based on a picture, a photograph or a song, as a form of exercise. I would hammer the story out on my mother’s Olivetti typewriter, and see what I was able to put together. I had read somewhere that pulp writers in the days of the magazines often wrote stories to the cover (typical example, Fritz Leiber’s Schylla’s Daughter), and I thought it would help me develop my writer skills. The first story I actually finished was based on an illustration by Boris Vallejo (hey, it was the 80s! I was 16! Give me some slack!) This one, to be precise… Sometimes I still do, in a way: I use photo references and a soundtrack for my stories. But a s...
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“A bland book most suitable for female readers”


The Tar-Aiym Krang was a great way to spend a couple of afternoons reading old science fiction: adventure, intrigue, strange aliens, mysterious technology, a surprisingly sympathetic protagonist that manages not to be irritating despite being so damn good at everything… great. Also, it was like making an acquaintance again with an old friend. Two, actually, both Pip and Flinx. The idea at this point was to go through another Alan Dean Foster book recovered from one of my emergency stacks, but then something interesting happened. Well, interesting… When I picked a few books from my box, together with three Alan Dean Foster books I also picked a terribly second hand copy of Robert Silverberg’s...
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Maureen O’Hara’s Birthday


Yeah, I know, I said I’d take the weekend off and not post, but then, stuff keeps happening. And today it’s the birthday of beautiful, spirited and talented Maureen O’Hara, Miss Technicolor herself, and one of the part-time muses of Karavansara as she is the one that coined the term Tits & Sand. So tonight I think I’ll watch Sinbad the Sailor one more time. Original link
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Barry Hughart, 1924-2019


I have just learned of the death, at the age of 95, of American writer Barry Hughart, whose Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox is easily one of the series of books that had the strongest impact on me as a reader, as a writer (for what I am worth) and as an individual. Looking back, I can see the roots of a lot of my interests and passions to the first meeting with the wonderful strangeness of Bridge of Birds, the fist Chronicle of Master Li. With its strange mixture of fantasy and history, its roots in folklore and legend, it sometimes science-fictional twists, and it humor, Bridge of Birds remains one of my favorite fantasies, and it’s the sort of thing I have in mind when I start wr...
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Just like when I was in high school – a long reading weekend


Back when I was in high-school I spent a lot of time reading, and the summer was a particularly intense time. Indeed, I started reading in English because books in English lasted longer, and I had been reading through all of the readily available fantasy and science fiction on the bookstore shelves. My teenage summers were filled with stories by Jack Vance, Poul Anderson, Gordon R. Dickson, C.J. Cherryh, Tanith Lee and Anne McCaffrey – to name just a few, that I still read and enjoy today. Then, this morning, I chanced upon a conversation on Facebook about the literary merits of Alan Dean Foster – another staple of my young diet as a reader. These days Foster is known in my country mostly be...
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We’re taking a short break


Karavansara will be operating on full automatic for the rest of the week, as I sit back and enjoy a few days reading a few books in the shade in this ghost town I live in, and I plan a few new things for the autumn. Occasional unexpected posts might still happen. Expect the unexpected, but don’t rely on it. Original link
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One from the Frontier


My Patrons – lucky guys! – have just received their copy of Shadow of the Ephemeral, a short story in the ongoing Tales from the Frontier, my somewhat Talbot Mundi-esque loose series of short tales set on the border between not-exactly-India and China-but-yet-again-not. In the story, we meet the exalted Rakhshan Hortonho Bakkar, warrior-poet of Mangtani, Lord of the Spice Islands, Most Favored by the Heavens, as he leaves the Court of the Rani behind and travels to the mountain to pursue the Ephemeral that is the true meaning of life. You can imagine the rest. Or maybe not. The story is available to all my supporters in the Five Bucks Brigade (or above), because you know what they say, it is...
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No chainmail bikini


I am quite curious to see how this turns out. It’s good to have a sword & sorcery heroine that’s not wearing a chainmail bikini. Original link
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John Carter in Cinemascope


As Blondie used to sing, dreaming is free… Original link
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Faster than the speed of night


… is, in fact, a song by Jim Steinman that was recorded by Bonnie Tyler in 1983, and it also gave the title to her most popular album, that I dutifully have on vinyl because I was young and reckless once, or something. But that’s not what I want to talk about. The thing started with a movie featuring Michael Caine – an actor I like very much – and called Pulp. You can imagine I was interested in catching it (and I think I reviewed it in the past – I’m sure WordPress will put a link in the footer of this post if I did). While the movie is not very good, it has a beautiful BlueRay case illustration, and it’s always good watching Caine playing a suave anti-hero. In the movie, Caine plays a writ...
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Roman soldiers in Egypt


And so I said, what the heck, it’s Saturday afternoon, I’ve worked all the morning, I’ll take a break, eat some ice cream and forget about the rest for 36 hours. But then the usual fear comes – what if I waste my time and miss my deadlines… I forced myself to take it easy – it won’t be a day that will make that much of a difference, and I can use this downtime to do some minor research. So, while I was enjoying a bowl of excellent chocolate and cream ice cream I researched the vocal commands to dictate in Italian in Google Docs. Turns out that “Full stop, new line” is not “Punto e a capo” as per Italian usage, but it is “Punto, nuova riga” – a literal translation of the English. Exciting, uh...
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