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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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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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  581 Hits

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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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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  522 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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  508 Hits

Ancient Rome through the eyes of Ancient China

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  645 Hits

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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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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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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  539 Hits

No Room For Regret


No Room For Regret by Janeen Ann O’ConnellNo Room for Regret by Janeen Ann O’ConnellMy rating: 4 of 5 starsThis book is difficult for me to rate. I definitely enjoyed it at times, but then I found that I was exasperated by it at others. It’s listed as a historical fiction and it definitely qualifies, but it is most certainly a romance novel as well.I had no idea that I was reading a romance until toward the end, although the clues were there. Not that this is a huge issue, as I’ve read some romances before and they were perfectly fine reads. Just not my cup of tea.But the real issue for me was this: When introduced to the protagonists, Blay and Tedder, I was struck by their incredibly unfort...
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  599 Hits

Letting someone else read Deathstalker for me


I have always appreciated the work of Simon R. Green – of the many, many books of his that I’ve read so far, there is only one that I found less than entertaining. I discovered him through his Hawk & Fisher books, that kept me company for a long, lonesome summer many years ago, and I took it from there. His Blue Moon novels, his Nightside stories, his Carnacki ghost stories…I also like what transpires from his interviews and articles: his work ethic, his craft-oriented approach to writing. He’s an entertainer, an author of escapist fiction that does not need to make excuses for what he does admirably well. Probably nobody will have their lives radically turned around by reading Simon R. Gree...
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  692 Hits

I’ll pay good money to see this one

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  692 Hits

The Shanghai Pirate from Mars


My friend Bando Masako, the Japanese horror writer of Inugami and Shikoku fame, once told me that the best way to secure a sector of the market and have commercial success, would be to create your own niche, your own genre.“Something like Post-Calvino Italian Literary Fantasy,” she said. “In this way, if someone wants to know what Post-Calvino Italian Literary Fantasy is, they’ll have to buy your books. And anyone doing something vaguely similar, will be someone you ‘influenced’.”It’s sound advice, and I’ve seen it happen, in both the large international market and the smaller, oxygen-starved Italian market.Things like Grimdark, of course, or New Pulp, have become wildly successful, and EcoP...
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  458 Hits

The hit list


I’ve just completed a new BUSCAFUSCO story, that in a few days I’ll post to my Patrons in the Five Bucks Brigade – just the time needed to translate it in Italian – because my patrons get my stories both in Italian and English. It’s a bit of extra work, but I’m happy to do it for my patrons.And as I’m at it, I thought I’ll post here a short list of what’s to come, in terms of short stories, for my Patrons in the next months.First, as I said, in a few days, a 7000-words BUSCAFUSCO story set in Nizza Monferrato in the days before Halloween.After that, and in no particular order (or, in other words, as the fancy strikes me)a new Aculeo & Amunet sword & sorcery storya new caper of The Corsair a ...
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  513 Hits

Working for amateurs


One of the most unnerving things…Oh, hello! You’re here!This is one of those posts about the incredibly funny and surreal experiences of one that’s trying to make a living writing – a marketing guru guaranteed I’d get tons of likes and followers by telling you these stories… so!One of the most unnerving things of working as a freelance is the clients that do not pay you in time, but then point out it’s extremely unprofessional on your part talking about it and pointing your finger at them.What a horrid lack of class, mentioning money like that!The first time it happened it was almost ten years ago – I worked through the Christmas period on a very important and very urgent translation, and th...
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  455 Hits

Atlantis, Lemuria and Mu


Lost continents are a lot of fun, and have been used as the venue for sword & sorcery adventures since the the every beginning. Robert E. Howard’s Kull was an Atlantean barbarian, and Conan plied his trade after the sinking of Atlantis, and I really always had a soft spot for Henry Kuttner’s Elak of Atlantis, hero of a short series of stories I first read in the mid ’80s. And of course Lin Carter’s Thongor roamed Lemuria and environs, lands crowded with sorcerers, strange technology and dinosaurs.In the recent evenings, I’ve had a lot of fun with Heroes of Atlantis & Lemuria, recently published by DMR Books.The volume collects the five stories of Kardios of Atlantis, originally written by Ma...
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Fairy tales and mud


Yesterday I chanced upon the ad copy for a new game. It came and went in a flash, so I actually do not know if it was a pen and paper RPG, or a computer game or a card game or what. What I know is that the copy promised a historical fantasy game that will help us live in the fairy-tale world of the Middle Ages.And I was just … NO.Now, the Middle Ages are complicated, if you go about them historically – and if you’re selling your game/novel/whatever as “historical fantasy” I expect you to go about them, at least a little bit, historically.The Middle Ages are complicated because we are talking about a continent-wide, 1000-years long phenomenon. Add to that the filters of both the Renaissance a...
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  711 Hits

A better writer and a better man

Adventurer and writer Alastair Humphreys about some of the basic needs of writers (and everybody else). Filmed in some breath-taking locations.Original link
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Wine and Scrivener and Zelazny’s Corollary


In the end, I was able to run a Windows version of Scrivener in Wine, and I am back in business full time – and not a minute too soon. I was rather wary of Scrivener on Wine, but it works surprisingly well with a minimum of fuss. A backlog of work in progress formed while I was re-installing and updating my system, and now I have to work on the double to finish everything and go on with my projects.My idea to hit fifteen calls within the month is still on – with a few changes.The story Monkey & the Cat was supposed to go to a very low-paying market, just for kicks, but has at this point cost me so much time and work, that sending it to the original target market would not be profitable. In t...
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Another one for BUSCAFUSCO


I am happy to announce I am working on a new BUSCAFUSCO short story, that will hit my Patrons by the end of the month.This is part of a special project I am working on (yeah, I know, I will tell you as soon as possible), and I am tapping the help of two friends for research. It will be a Halloween story, and it has to do with some pretty twisted real-life individuals and events.Will the new story feature the Belbo Valley Crocodile?, you ask.I’m afraid not.But it might feature the Belbo Valley Panther – because, yes, here in the hills of Astigianistan, we have a lot of people with more money than sense, that buy illegal endangered wild animals, and then let them escape.Maybe for this reason, ...
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  746 Hits