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Author Blogs

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Learning stuff


I was talking with a friend, about one hour ago, about books. Yeah, I know, I know… I should go out more, but that’s what we book people talk about when we have a chat – books. We are both working on some new material (I’ll tell you one of these days) and we are both staying away from fiction right now, and reading non fiction. And it turned out we’ve been learning new things recently, and we keep trying to learn more. And that’s seen as something unnatural by many – there’s this idea you go to school, learn what you need to learn… learn all you need to learn, and you’re set. Off to getting a job you go, a job you’ll do for the rest of your life, hating it every minute, until you retire or d...
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A young Helena Saratova…?


I have often mentioned how graphically inept I am, and how much admire – as a consequence – artists that can draw, paint or give shape to their ideas as images in any form. My schooling steered me away from images at a very early stage, and I grew up to be language-oriented, written-word-bound. I do not complain… but I do complain. While I’ve taken courses and done exercise, I am still hopeless with a pencil, don’t even mention brushes and paint. On the other hand, I love to look for visual references when I’m writing – and while photographs are most useful when trying to catch the aura of a place, paintings and illustrations are still great sources of story inspirations, and of character id...
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  199 Hits

Monkey & the Cat

Sometimes all the pieces fall in the right place at the right moment. And it feels good when it happens, because the world’s a complicated place, and it’s good to get some reassurance sometimes, that all shall be well – even if it’s a very small thing. Yesterday night I was writing a new story (yeah, I know, life can be pretty monotonous hereabouts) – a short fantasy, steampunk-ish number featuring two strays, a girl and her cat. I’m doing it with two different markets in mind – it all depends on how things will turn out. It’s going to be around 2000 words – I’m allowing myself six 350-words scenes (because YES!, I’ve got Scrivener running again!) But anyway, I was checking my notes and tryi...
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The Open Outline experiment


I’ve started a new thing on my Patreon, and I’m calling it Open Outline – part of my push to grow my page and my fan-base, but also a way to play with writing. Also, my patrons are a great crowd, and it looked like a good idea to try and harness their smarts to my advantage. The Open Outline works like this: on the first of the month, I post the start of a story, roughly the first page or so. During the following week, my patrons are invited to play with it – ask questions, sure, but also offer hypotheses about what’s going on, about where the story is going. They can suggest details about the characters or the setting. At the end of the week, the best suggestions go into the story outline, ...
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  198 Hits

The Mummy (Ramses The Damned) by Anne Rice

The Mummy (Ramses the Damned #1)
The Mummy by Anne Rice My rating: 3 of 5 stars Ramses awakens in 1914 in London, years after his previous awakening. When he had reigned over Egypt he learned the formula to make an elixir that made him not only immortal, but superhuman. He apparently is highly intelligent, reflected by learning English in record time. I personally wonder how intelligent he is, because some of the decisions he makes in the story aren’t the brightest. However, his poor decision making is what drives the plot. Anne Rice loves her immortals. I think perhaps Ramses is my favorite type of immortality featured in her books. Unlike her vampires, Ramses doesn’t seem to have any flaws (Other than thinking with his li...
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  85 Hits

Things to Come, #5


As I’ve already mentioned, I’ll devote the next three months to try and grow my Patron page. I want to offer more benefits to my patrons, and possibly lure more Patrons. In all fairness, I’d love should I be able to pay my mortgage with Patreon – and that means work harder, offer more quality and more perks to the brave souls that feel like gambling a few bucks every month on my ability to deliver. For this reason I’ve decided to add a new tier to my Patreon page, a higher pledge level, well above the already heady heights of the 10 Bucks Lounge – something that I will cal the Writers’ Workshop, because this new tier will be writer-oriented. The Writers’ Workshop hits you for 25 bucks per mo...
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  101 Hits

No NaNoWriMo, rather MyShoStoWriMo


I’ve spent the last two months working on stories for third parties – novellas set in proprietary gaming worlds, ghost-written memoirs, on-demand fix-ups of old articles, short essays for specific publications, a handful of translations. It’s good, because it means I’m working, and sooner or later, with a little luck, I’ll get paid. I’ve also been working on various projects that are not yet taking off – plans and outlines, projects and proposals. Again, this is really good. It means I’m planning, laying the foundations of work for the next months. I am also working on a real fun project I’ll tell you about in a few weeks. But I need to stretch a bit. Writing on demand is good and fine, but ...
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The savages are coming


And so, just in time for the International Podcast Day, the 10 Minutes Till the Savages Come podcasts have been recorded, edited and uploaded, and in a few minutes will be available for my Patrons,and hopefully they will like what they get. As a test run, yesterday’s work was quite instructive. I still feel much more at ease with a keyboard – the process of writing is faster, and I find the medium of the written word much more flexible. But I wanted to try a feature of the Patreon pages, and my Patrons looked interested, so, why not. There is still ample room for improvement. Like, in cartloads. Of course I hate my voice (it is normal), and of course I caught a cold just before recording, so...
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  80 Hits

10 Minutes Till the Savages Come


So today is the day I’m recording my first podcast for my Patrons. To celebrate, my neighbors are having a bbq party with loud Balkanian music. But it’s all right: I’ve been wasting time looking for a title and a theme and an idea for the first recording, and suddenly I hit on all three within ten minutes – and I could bore you to death with my ideas and beliefs about inspiration, ideas and how they sort of come to us, but, really, I think I’ll spare you. The blog will be called 10 Minutes Till the Savages Come, that is the title of a song recorded by Manhattan Transfer in 1991, in the record The Offbeat of Avenues. My podcasts will be ten minutes long – because, reasons – and the title, now...
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  72 Hits

Seven the hard way


I had it all planned. A new collection of my short stories, six of them, six different genres – a ghost story, a fantasy story, a science fiction story, a western, a mystery/caper story and a historical swashbuckler – and sharing a common theme. My first new book for 2020, it should come out in both English and Italian. Nice and smooth. I only needed a title, and I needed it because it’s complicated pitching a book without a title. Titles are complicated. You need something short, easy to remember, original, that hints at the contents but does not give away the twists and turns… So I made a list of what would be in the book – themes, characters, setting, recurring tropes. I checked the usual...
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  88 Hits

The Inn of the Four Winds


I am writing the second novel in the Sabatini sequence – The Ministry of Lightning, that for some obscure reasons (you’ll have to read the book to know) comes after The Ministry of Thunder. Computer mishaps apart, it’s going nicely, with just one problem: I have two prologues. Now, my friend Claire, that is a fine writer, and not a hack like myself, repeatedly told me that novels need no prologue and epilogue, because that’s something that happens in theatre, not in books. But what the heck, I grew up watching James Bond movies, and I like a nice pre-title sequence. To set the scene and mood, to hook the readers, to start with a bang, but also with a few questions. Only, for Ministry II, I h...
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Why don’t you kill it?


It started when the plastic cap of the oil bottle disappeared. “What the heck…?” We took a look around, and found the cap under a chair, partially eaten. Oh, shucks! Autumn is here, the first showers have hit us, and as usual we have an uninvited guest in our house. Field mice have learned that in the lairs of the Sapiens there’s food, warmth and no rain. So we armed our spring-operated cage, put a piece of cheese crust in it and waited. It actually took us four days, and finally we had to use a small piece of high-end smoked cheese to lure the interloper in, and this morning when I came down for breakfast, there he was, not really pleased, waiting for me in the cage. So we put him outside, ...
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For nothing, even a dog won’t wag its tail

The title of this piece is a phrase that my mother used to say quite often, and she meant it most of all in a moral, emotional sense: everybody likes to be told they are doing a good job. Everybody likes been told they’re good, they are doing fine, what they are doing is important. Yesterday, out of the blue, I was given the most heartwarming acknowledgement I have received in the last ten years. It was unexpected, instinctive and moving, and it came from an unanticipated direction. It was, I don’t know, maybe ten words and an exclamation mark, but it came in a very bad moment, and it saved my day. Quite a few days, actually. Because we need to feel acknowledged. Granted, we need to pay the ...
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  69 Hits

Guilty Pleasures


New anthology featuring a classic novella by Ramsey Campbell… and a short-short story of mine. Stay tuned for more news, and join us at the launch party on October the 5th! Original link
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Things to Come #3 – a new benefit for the 10$ Lounge


As I mentioned, starting with October and my third year on Patreon , I will be offering new perks and benefits to my patrons, both as a way for thanking them for being there, and to try and lure more innocent souls inside my lair. So here’s another peek at how it will be… in the future! I’ve added the podcasts and the Open Outline to the 5 Bucks Brigade level, now it’s time to offer something new and special to the guys in the 10 Bucks Lounge, the brave souls that bet 10 dollars a month on my work. Time to give something back to them. The deal: once very three months, or once per season if you prefer, my 10$ Lounge supporters will be able to send me a short story (10.000 words maximum) or a ...
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Breathing plastic fumes or going on strike

People are striking all over the planet to attract the attention of the governments on the current climate crisis. In the beautiful hills of Astigianistan Autumn is coming, painting copper and brown the slopes and the valleys, and here I am, lucky bastard that I am, breathing the poisonous fumes escaping from the neighbor’s chimney, because when September comes, they start burning their waste – plastic included – in the home fireplace. My mother called the environmental service because of this problem, back in, I think, 1989. The guy at the other end of the line asked her if the smoke she was seeing was white or black, because if it was not black they couldn’t do anything. My mother, a long-...
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Things to Come #2 – all in one image


A recap of what my Patrons will get, starting next month. Please feel free to share. Original link
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It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day!

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Scheherazade


I’m taking a moment for a brief shout-out to my friend (and sometimes accomplice) Umberto Pignatelli’s latest game, Scheherazade, a roleplaying game that allows you to play into the Arabian Nights. I’ll post a review here as soon as the game is released, but in the meantime, check out the gorgeous cover… Original link
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The Sistine Chapel with crayons


The moment they ask you to write a fantasy short, roughly 6000-words, taking inspiration from Italo Calvino, you sort of feel like you’re looking up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel while holding a pack of eight crayons. And you go, oh, shucks! But let’s make it a little more interesting – not just any story, inspired by Calvino, but a sword & sorcery number, with action, wit and swordplay. Inside a shared world. Do you feel lucky, punk? I did, and then, I needed the money. So I went and wrote The Queen of Spades. I always loved Calvino not just for his imagination and his staggering culture, but for his willingness to play with structure. While he could produce the most straightforward ...
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