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The Stalls of Barchester


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  590 Hits

Patreon: the New Deal

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As Styx used to sing, Nothing Ever Goes as Planned – I launched my Patreon page on the 1st of December 2017, and about a week later Patreon announced they are changing the payment system.The following is the suggested text I should post for my followers, to explain to you what’s going to happen:In the past, I was covering Patreon’s 5% fee and all of the processing fees in full for all of my patrons. This meant that every month I saw anywhere from 7-15% of my earnings taken out to cover those processing fees.Starting December 18th, Patreon will apply a new service fee of 2.9% + $0.35 to each of your individual pledges. This service fee helps keep Patreon up and running and standardizes my pro...
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  584 Hits

The Singing Mummies

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Fiendish Yen Sin! I should have thought about Singing Mummies in AMARNA! Original link
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  662 Hits

Hope & Glory, Analytical Engineer

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Work on the basic handbook for Hope & Glory has accelerated as the end of the year approaches, and I receive daily sketches that will become interior illustrations.So, why not share?This one, for instance, is called Analytical Engineer, and is the work of the excellent Alberto Bontempi.In the world of Hope & Glory, analytical engines based on Charles Babbage’s designs are commonplace, and drive the march of progress. Original link
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  600 Hits

The time of deeds


No one can linger in the land of Egypt … The time of deeds on earth is only the occurrence of a dream.(Egyptian Harpist’s Song, XVIII Dynasty) Original link
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  627 Hits

Night Visitors

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Do we need ghost stories?Possibly.It turns out the house in which I’m living is supposedly haunted – this explains why some of the locals look strangely at me and my brother. Or maybe they are just weird country bumpkins, who knows.Fact is, by the weekend I’ll have to deliver a learned article – in Italian – about ghostly literature. It’s the spirit (aha!) of the season, I guess.I’ve been translating two ghost stories for a new publication – a story by Edith Nesbit and one by the wildly eccentric Robert Stephen Hawker, and I’ve been reading on the subject.I still remember fondly Night Visitors, by the late Julia Briggs. I got the Italian edition of this wonderful essay on English ghost stori...
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  604 Hits

Researching Egyptian Art for Fun and Profit

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And talking about courses…Today I decided that Dutch is not the language for me. I tried it on both Duolingo and in a MOOC from Futurelearn, and in the end I surrendered. I can’t make it.Not at this time.A pity, really, but I’ll save it for the summer to give it another go.On the other hand, I am about to start a 30-hours introductory course on ancient Egyptian art – because enrolling in an online course is still the best way to research a novel.And a course on Egyptian art will help me with both the current AMARNA project and the Corsair story I am preparing for early next year.The course is offered for free by the Open University in collaboration with the British Museum, and I’ll also get ...
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  508 Hits

The Longevity Dividend

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I just finished an online course about the strategies for a successful aging.I’m over fifty, after all, and without a hope in hell for a pension and a healthy retirement, I will have to keep myself in working order until the day I die.Better start early.The course was an absolute wonder – lots of ideas, lots of suggestion,m some great interactions with my fellow students, and at least one concept I’ll take away and keep close at hand: the longevity dividend.The idea is simple – as we grow old, we accumulate experience, what one of the teachers described as “crystallized intelligence”.We already had a lot of good ideas.Couple that with a good culture and an agile mind, and we are already half...
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  567 Hits

Back on the Nile

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I’m not a fan of Agatha Christie.I think what turned me off was starting with the Miss Marple mysteries, after viewing the old Margaret Rutherford movies. My late aunt, that was a great fan of Christie gave me an omnibus edition with a number of Miss Marple books, and I hated them.There.But as I think I already mentioned, I love the Poirot movies featuring Peter Ustinov, and when it comes to Death on the Nile, in my house we are divided – to me, nothing surpasses the Ustinov movie, while my brother, that is a David Suchet fan, prefers the TV movie.And now, while the world is talking about Murder on the Orient Express, I decided to go back to the original Death on the Nile novel.Christie was ...
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  598 Hits

Three ideas adding up

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The idea of writing shorter fiction is not a bad one – there is a market out there that pays good money for stories under 2500 words. As I mentioned a few days back, I am a long-winded sort of writer, but I am working at my shorter fiction.And then there is AMARNA, and the idea I posted a while back, about doing something with Fantomah, the Daughter of the Pharaohs.And so I thought…One of the characters in AMARNA, the last to join the cast, is a self-styled adventurer, very loosely based on Leonard Clark, physically inspired by Ron Ely in his turn as Doc Savage, and called Tenn Ford.I think I told you how adding Tenn to the mix helped me balance the story and actually got me writing.Now, Ten...
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  560 Hits

Serendipity and communities

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My friend Claire often talks about serendipity.Me, I’m an old statistical analysis guru, I don’t believe in serendipity. And yet…One of the things I have been worrying these days – and I was not the only one worrying about it, from what I heard – is what will become of Karavansara and strategie evolutive, my two blogs, now that I also have a Patreon page.Patreon is a fantastic platform for doing what it does, but it also has a requirement – it wants me to live there, to do my things there. My patrons are hungry for contents, and I am supposed to provide them a steady flow of contents.But what about my blogs?As luck – or serendipity – would have it, an artist I have been following for a few y...
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  559 Hits

Inhuman beauty – Kathleen Byron

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I’m re-watching a number of Powell & Pressburger movies, these nights.It started with an article I read on the website of the British Film Institute. That made me re-watch A Matter of Life and Death, which led to a post on my Italian blog, and a mention of my favorite Powell & Pressburger movie, Black Narcissus – so I re-watched that one too, and I will post on my Italian blog about it too.Both movies feature an actress I always found marvelous, but I never followed very much – Kathleen Byron.She was absolutely beautiful in such a strange, somewhat disquieting way.Born in 1921, she was 25 when Powell & Pressuburger cast her as an angel in A Matter of Life and Death, in which she shines for h...
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  611 Hits

We are snowed in


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  550 Hits

A good, busy day

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What a day!Today I launched my Patreon Page – and already I have six (count ‘em, six) patrons. Check out the button in the sidebar.I also did the launch for my Self-Publishing online course for the Italian market – offering both VIP and Regular access.And I am happy to announce that the VIP Tickets were sold out in five hours – while Regular access is still available1.All of the above meant I spent most of today juggling Mailchimp mailing lists, DoAttend and Google Class accounts, and checking out various notifications.It was a very good day, and I want to thank everybody!Thank you!Now I’ll prepare my first post for my patrons, and then I’ll complete a rewrite of my New York story, that is b...
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  571 Hits

Storium and the Writing Game

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I mentioned Storium in my previous post.I found out about Storium when I got hooked up into it as a result of my taking part in the 7th Sea Second Edition Kickstarter.I took a tour, and was positively impressed.Basically, Storium is a cross between a storytelling game, an old choose-your-own-adventure game book and a collective writing experiment.It works like this…The host (me, in this case) sets up a gaming world, a setting. Lays down the rules, defines the style and genre of the thing.He provides building blocks for creating characters, and maybe creates a few to get the ball rolling. The characters have goals, personalities. Personal histories.The host also writes a story, in chapters, i...
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  563 Hits

I AM ON PATREON

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And so my Patreon page is up.In the end I did not do a welcome video because my system went belly-up.But you will notice a bright red button in the sidebar, that looks like this.By clicking on the button, you’ll come to my Patreon page, and you’ll find out what I am preparing for you should you decide to become a patron of mine, depending on your monthly pledge.First tier: Two exclusive posts per week.Behind the scenes on my writing.Notes, character sheets, outlines.First drafts, deleted scenes.And I’ll mention you in my self-published books, with my sincere thanks.Second Tier: All of the above but you will also get one new story per month – a 3000-words short in various genres, various styl...
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  596 Hits

The nomad barter list

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I stumbled on a conversation, last night, in a forum for nomad workers.In case you missed it, cybernomadism or nomad working are the names usually given to those that have a location independent job or cybercommute while traveling around.I was a small-scale nomad worker in the first decade of the 21st century, when I moved between universities to peddle my post-grad and post-doc courses, while working via the web with various clients and colleagues.Anyway, last night’s discussion was on the following: what skills can you trade on the road?In other words, what knowledge would you be able to barter for food, lodging, services or what else.And so I did myself a little list, and I think it is im...
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  667 Hits

AMARNA is ready to start

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So here we go – I am about to open the preorders for the first episode of AMARNA.The first episode will be delivered on the 1st of January 2018, but readers will be able to preorder a copy at a discounted price starting on the 10th of December.And starting on the 10 of December, I’ll be posting teasers, previews and special contents both here and on my Patreon page. This will include a cover reveal, because the official cover of the project is beautiful.For those of you that do not know what I am talking about, you can check a full-length preview of the project, or check out the condensed version below.To keep up to date subscribe to the AMARNA mailing list (no spam, promised).Opinions, as u...
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  590 Hits

New York and my father

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I am putting the finishing touches on a new story, the deadline is two days away. I’m working on another author’s bible, and I’ve enjoyed the writing so far. I like the characters, the set-up, the concept.As I usually do, I used the web to research a bit the canonical elements. In this case, I used Google Maps to reconnoiter the area in New York in which the main character lives.And I found to my surprise that the main character lives about a block away from my father’s place when he lived in New York.It gave me a weird turn.Back in the early ‘60s, my dad left Italy and moved to the US, to New York, where his family had some relations. He was young and bold and had stars in his eyes. He work...
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Fantomah, Daughter of the Pharaohs

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I was talking with some friends, a few days back, about Public Domain comic book characters.There’s a true army of those – heroes (and villains) that failed to make it big in the heyday of comics, or whose publishers just went belly-up before they could make it big. You can find a list of these gone-but-not-forgotten characters, and details about them, in this Public Domain Super Heroes database.Among the heroes mentioned there is an old… well, maybe old flame is the wrong word. Let’s say a character I was always fascinated with: Fantomah.Quoth the above-mentioned database…Fantomah, the “Mystery Woman of the Jungle,” is a mysterious goddess-like being who protects the jungles of Africa. She ...
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