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A story that needs to be written


Illustration by Art Adams.Original link
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  567 Hits

This is not the cat goddess you are looking for


Growing up in Turin, and spending a lot of time in the halls of the old Egyptian Museum, I became acquainted early on with Bastet and Sekhmet, the two cat-goddesses of the Egyptian pantheon.Both goddesses started out as lionesses, but later Bastet (or Bubastis) was characterized more as a cat, while Sekhmet retained her lion aspect and her fierceness.But there was a third cat goddess, I was surprised to find out, one whose acquaintance I made only in the last few days, as she became instrumental in resolving the plot of the latest story I wrote.I am talking of Pakhet.O You of the dawn who wake and sleep,O You who are in limpness, dwelling aforetime in Nedit, I have appeared as Pakhet the Gre...
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  314 Hits

Knave RPG


After years of roleplaying, my brother and I have put together a huge collection of … stuff. Rulebooks, sourcebooks, supplements, scenarios, campaigns, maps… We do not play much anymore (here where we live polyhedral dice are considered a tool of the Devil, or something) but we still occasionally buy and read games, and dream of building our own, homebrew system.Yesterday, to celebrate the launch of my new Italian ebook, I treated myself to two bucks and change of gaming handbook, and bought Questing Beast’s new roleplaying game, Knave.And I read it all in a single sitting.Which is not hard, because Knave is exactly 7 pages.Now, it’s true that we are talking about seven very tightly packed p...
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  586 Hits

Belle, Buck & Candle


There’s a thing that happens when you write, and it’s that story ideas keep coming at you, like hailstones, like bullets, like drops of rain during a monsoon. This is something non-writers often fail to see – they come to you and they tell you “You know? I’ve got a great idea for a story! Let me tell you, so you can write it and make lotsa money…”And you think, “No, please, not again…”Then they wink and mention their share of the profits.Ideas are everywhere, you only need to keep your eyes and ears open.And then you need to learn to filter them, and keep the good ones, and know which goes with what to build a story.It takes some experience – you need to read and write a lot.Then one day you...
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  600 Hits

Werner Herzog’s Rules

By a film-maker for film-makers, but also valid for writers and thegeneral public at largeAlways take the initiative.There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.Learn to live with your mistakes.Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.There is never an excuse not to finish a film.Carry bolt cutters everywhere.Thwart institutional cowardice.Ask for forgiveness, not p...
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  337 Hits

Back to the Valley


Today I wrote a short story.This has been a busy month, and indeed in the last two weeks I have submitted ten stories – but wait, I’m not that good.The fact is, between August and September, I had to work on a couple of big projects that took up a lot of time. The little time left I used to relax, or to start working on a few shorts, that languished in various states of completion while I put much effort in the big ones.By October the big projects were out of the way, and so I picked up the various half-finished things I had laying around, finished them and mailed to various editors. One already bounced back, but that’s part of the game.Then, yesterday, two things happened.Thing one – a maga...
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  592 Hits

Fear of the Unknown


Yes, I know, this is not an overly original title, and we all have heard or read that classic H.P. Lovecraft quote, from his Supernatural Horror in Literature. They even made a documentary film with that title.And in case you missed it, the quote is…“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” H.P. LovecraftBut I have another quote for you, and it’s as follow…“I don’t see why I should read this book you mention. I read [Asimov/Heinlein/Tolkien/Howard/King/Lovecraft] back in 19**, and I don’t need to read anything else in the genre, because nothing’s better than that.”A lot of SF/Fantasy/Horror fans I knowThis came up ...
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  626 Hits

Writing 1000 words


Between yesterday and today, I wrote and submitted two flash fictions.The respective mags guidelines were pretty clear: not a single word above 1000.Now I always have a problem with that… including the title, or not?But apart from that, why not?I have been working on polishing my flash fiction skills – for what they are – for quite a while now. I am normally a long-winded guy: I feel more comfortable writing a 4000-words story rather than a 3000-words one, 6000 is even better, 8000 is really good.Publishers’ guidelines usually leave a certain margin – they tell you 4/6000, and maybe note that the sweet spot is 4500.Flash fiction does not leave much room for wriggling about – if it’s no-more ...
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Raiders of the Lost Franchise: The People that Time Forgot


I first saw 1977 The People that Time Forgot at the local parish cinema. It was probably 1979, I had not yet seen the previous movie in the series and yes, I was thirteen and I was quite impressed by Dana Gillespie’s, ehm… presence.So sue me.The movie is the direct sequel of the 1974 film scripted by Moorcock and Cawthorn and based on the first of the three Caprona novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Moorcock & Cawthorn were no longer on board, but the movie still could rely on the production of John Dark, the direction of Kevin Connor, and on Doug McClure in a supporting role akin to the one played by Charlton Heston in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.And the comparison is not so out of place.In...
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  447 Hits

Just kids having fun


You really can’t take a moment off.Back online, and people are bickering on facebook.Big news, uh?Only in this case is something that touches upon my job (for what it is), my livelihood (ditto), and something I like very much, and therefore I consider “my own”.Now, I have mentioned in the past how Italian politics have been trying to polarize popular culture since at least the fifties – from music mags labelling prog rock as right wing and singer-songwriters as left wing, to the old classic SF is left, fantasy is right, to the opening of “Hobbit Camps” where like-minded individuals could debate the merits of J.R.R. Tolkien, Julius Evola and Mussolini.It would be silly, and ridiculous, were i...
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  610 Hits

Black out

As you are reading this, we are offline – they are doing some maintenance work on the next street, and the whole neighborhood will be off the electrical grid until 2 pm.So we have a double plan, me and my brother.If it’s a good day, we’ll go for a long walk.If it’s foggy or rainy, then Plan B will be stay in and catch up with our reading.I am trying to put together a Halloween story, and being in the middle of nowhere without electricity is a good source of inspiration. Original link
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Einstein’s Beach House Book Review


five starsEinstein’s Beach House by Jacob M. Appel My rating: 5 of 5 stars  A couple adopt a depressed hedgehog; a mother is seduced by the father of her daughter’s imaginary friend; a man kidnap’s his ex-wife’s pet turtle. In eight tragi-comic stories, Einstein’s Beach House: Stories features ordinary men and women rising to life’s extraordinary challenges.These are the kind of stories I can jive with. A collection of strange tales that border believably. Nothing too out there, nothing that couldn’t happen, but most certainly quirky. Appel has a sense of humor that resonates with me. As my wife so aptly put it, “I could be friends with this guy.”The book had eight short stories, including o...
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  537 Hits

My theme is stronger than yours


The market is shifting at a heady speed hereabouts – and if not the market in itself, the way in which the authors marketed themselves. This morning I caught a colleague (an excellent writer, indeed) explaining that his fantasies always tackle strong themes under a thin patina of fantasy adventure. A thin patina that includes “hard knocks”, “big boobs” and “100% fanservice”, probably, considering that up to two days ago the same author was signalling those as the selling points of his fantasies.This makes me feel infinitely tired, because I am really tired of this constant, desperate, aggressive hustling – writers trying to sell themselves as the answer to this week’s taste: this week is soc...
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Something that should not be done


One should never write about a book before reaching at least the midpoint – how otherwise could we express our opinions in an informed, intelligent way?But sometimes a little enthusiasm is OK, and so, while my e-reader tells me I am 4% into the book I am currently reading, I think I’ll give it a shout-out, because after forty-odd years spent reading, and reading imaginative fiction, I think I developed a certain instinct.And this is a good book.Of course I fell in love with the cover of K Arsenault Rivera’s The Tiger’s Daughter. I like that we are finally seeing some good, solid fantasy with Eastern themes and flavor – Oriental fantasies have always been around, and I like them a lot, but in...
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  443 Hits

One short story in one afternoon


Today I am writing a short story.Big news, you say. Sue me.A stand-alone one shot, that still has ties with stuff I did in the past. I’m improvising most of it, but I still have a general outline of sorts for the first half. It’s going to be in the 5000/6000 words range. The plan is to hammer out a first draft, have dinner, and then clean it up. Then I’ll mail it off to the editor, and hope he likes it enough to buy it.Otherwise, I’ll look for another market.These days are particularly stressful for a number of motives, and focusing completely on a short story, to be started and finished in one afternoon, is a good way to keep my mind frpm getting caught up in useless worries. There’s proble...
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  513 Hits

Raiders of the Lost Franchise: The Land that Time Forgot


My friend Lucy is doing a Halloween-month series of posts about the Amicus anthology horrors from the ’70s, and talking about the Amicus films, I remembered a pillar of my young education – the Amicus productions of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Novels, The Land that Time Forgot and The People that Time Forgot, plus At The Earth’s Core.All three movies were directed by Kevin Connor and featured Doug McClure.So I went and re-watched The Time that Land Forgot, the first and certainly the best of the three movies. The film was adapted from the first in the three Caprona novels by ERB, and the script for the film was written by no less than Michael Moorcock and James Cawthorn. Apparently the Burrough...
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  491 Hits

Ancient Rome through the eyes of Ancient China

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Music and Old Ones


I have just had a pitch accepted by a pretty high profile anthology, for some modern day lovecraftian horror. “Pitch accepted” means “hmm, sounds cool, can you write it? We might buy it.”It’s actually much better than it sounds. So I am doing some research for the story, because one thing I find it intriguing, when writing Lovecraftian stories, is to lean on the science fiction side.The pitch was an off the cuff sort of thing.I saw the call, I pitched a story, based… listen this because it’s weird… based on the idea I am going to explore next on my Patreon podcast, Ten Minutes Till the Savages Come.Because nothing goes to waste hereabouts, and any idea that can be used twice is twice as good...
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  605 Hits

Burning down the Library of Alexandria


I have just finished the translation/revision/rewrite of my old story The Cursed Hieroglyph, hat I have half an idea of re-titling The Thing in the Library.It’s been a lot of hard work, but I am quite satisfied with the results – Nennius Britannicus and his boys came out of it bruised and singed but certainly wiser, and the Great Library of Alexandria was burned down once again.I mentioned this was, historically, quite a common occurrence.So now I’ll let the story rest for a few hours, and then after dinner I’ll clean up the dialogues, add some details and debug the action, and I’ll finally post it to the editor, in the hopes they find it as fun reading it as I found it fun (re)writing it.I ...
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  620 Hits

Seven Lives


I mentioned at the end of august how I was trying to do something in support of a cathouse in Lanzarote – because I like cats and because as a long-time Harry Flashman fan, I love the idea of telling people that I pay to help the ladies working in a cathouse.Yes, I know, it’s juvenile, so sue me.Cats with no name, by Robert McGinnisAnyway, in the intervening weeks I realized that with my finances in shambles there is very little I can do for the cats and the ladies.What to do? The only thing I can do, in fact, is write.And so I started writing.The project is called Seven Lives.I will write six stories – and my Patreon supporters will get them first, with extras, because it’s good to be my pa...
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  525 Hits