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This time I’m gonna strike rich!

I just received a mail that promises to solve all my economic problems, and set my writing career on the right path.No really!Judge for yourself…Dear Friend,An oil business man made a fixed deposit of $26M in my bank branch where I am a director and he died with his entire family in Syria war leaving behind no next of kin. I Propose to present you as next of kin to claim the funds,if interested contact me with your full name, and telephone number to reach you and most importantly, a confirmation of acceptance from you.Please reply with this Email: xxxxxYour Truly ,Ling LungNow I’m here preparing a letter for mister Ling Lung.I think I’ll mention to him that I still have here his grandfather ...
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Happy birthday in ancient Egyptian


The request comes from a fried: her nephew’s birthday is coming, and the kid loves Ancient Egypt (what kid doesn’t). She’d like to write him a Happy Birthday message in hieroglyphs.Can we help?Of course we can.It actually took me two afternoons.The first part is quite easy.One gets the Wallis Budge’s An Egyptian Hierogliphic Dictionary and looks up the words…But I found it quicker to look it up on the Gardiner. I have a personal fondness for Gardiner’s Egyptian Grammar.At this point, as you have the words Happy, Birth and Day, you’re all set.My scanner doesn’t work. I had to photograph the squiggles to send to my friend.Is there a good font for writing hieroglyph?A quick survey of the free f...
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Making of a Cover, Part Five


The Final TouchesThe last few weeks have left me worn and tired. I have been working tirelessly on perfecting the cover of The Unfettered Child while also working with my editor to perfect the manuscript.What more could be done with the cover, you ask? Actually, so much more. In fact, I found something new to fix almost every time I looked at it. It’s been a while since I did part four of this series, so let’s back up to then:The cover first uploaded to Amazon.As you can see, I had Samara standing in the corner, looking kind of vague, her feet shrouded in shadow (okay, a gradient really), and striking a tree in the distance with a magical lightning bolt. Something nagged at me when I present...
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They could have shot you guys!


Yesterday’s microadventure was a great success. True, my legs feel like lead right now, but I’ve heard from a lot of people that would like to try something like that in these hills, I received suggestions and idea, and all in all it was quite beautiful, and fun.Online.Hereabouts reactions were a lot more conservative.“You guys were lucky!” one of our neighbors said. “The hunting season’s open, they could have shot you guys!”Much hilarity ensued, because I live in the kind of place in which your neighbors think it’d be a hoot should you get shot.I also learned to some dismay that I evidently look like a boar in an aloha shirt.And I mean…I have friends that are hunters.They have a deep concer...
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The call of (micro)adventure


And so we did it. We left early this morning and walked all the way to the next village, that’s called Incisa Scapaccino.We avoided the main road and followed a narrow road that snakes along the Belbo river, climbing up and down the hills and entering into deep thickets of wild trees.This was just an experiment – a short hike, a stop for breakfast, more walking, a short foraging run at the local supermarket, and then back, once again walking along back-roads and paths through the fields and vineyards. Our equipment consisted only in a 10L backpack and a bottle of cold natural water, that we later supplemented with the ingredients needed for a few sandwiches.We had some minor problems as we c...
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The art & craft of writing, a handbook in the form of a dialogue


I have finally finished reading Yours to Tell, Dialogues on the Art & Practice of Writing, by Steven Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem, that I had started back at the end of may, and then had somehow slid down the reading pile, for a number of reasons. I collect writing handbooks, and this one came back to me at the right time to offer some diversion and a different and fresh outlook on what I do. Because sometimes while we can’t write (for whatever reason), we still can read about writingAs the title says, the book is built in the form of a dialogue between the two authors, and it has a very relaxed, informal tone. It is probably not the best choice as a first handbook for the totally uninitiated,...
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Dictation, or, how I hit 3500 words per hour and kept going


I started dictating my stories to Google Docs.The basic idea: we talk a lot faster than we type, so we can essentially dictate a rough first draft a lot faster than we can type it. This is one of the nifty ideas in Chris Fox’s excellent little handbook, 5000 Words per Hour, but it’s not something he invented: many authors of the past dictated their work, including Erle Stanley Gardner and, as it was pointed out to me a few days back, Edgar Wallace.What you need: a Google account and a smartphone or, if you are the sort that prefers to work with a microphone and a PC, you need to make sure your PC is 64 bit.Mine is not, so I use the smartphone.If you use an Android phone, it comes with the fu...
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The Aeronauts looks like something I might enjoy tremendously

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The case of the missing library


One year ago, in two evenings, I wrote the first 3000 words of a planned 4000 words of the Contunbernium, in Italian. I was not very convinced by the proposal I had received about publishing a story of mine, and the way in which the story was going left me cold, and in the end I dropped it.I don’t throw away anything.Writing is my job, no matter if I like it or not (it’s complicated), and I don’t throw away what I write. So The Cursed Hieroglyph languished in a lonely directory on my PC until I was asked for a story with specific characteristics. Bingo.So I’m rewriting and finally finishing my story, and as I usually do, I am doing a bit of research on the fly to tighten up the background.It...
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Cats


No, not the old-musical-now-a-major-motion-picture-with-a-creepy-trailer Cats. I really mean the, you know, small killing machines that have domesticated humankind since the neolithic.Cats, Felis domestica.Yesterday, talking with a friend, I learned about an organization that works with cats, and that’s called Freddy’s Cathouse. I’m not swimming in gold, but I decided I’ll support them, because it’s a worthy cause, and comes with the recommendation of someone I trust. Also, I love the idea of being able to say I support a cathouse: Harry Flashman would be SO proud of me!I’m also spreading the word, as you see – and I’ll try and see if there’s a badge I can place here in the sidebar for you t...
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Still crazy after all these years

If the last 24 hours are any indication, this is going to be a wild weekend, but not in the naughty/risque way that might be fun.In the last 24 hours I haveSpent one evening eating pizza with a friend who happens to be a good writer, and we decided that considering the current state of fantasy in our country, we’ll pitch our next books to Harlequin.Spent a whole night and the best part of a day editing a book to patch a mistake I made, in order to still be able to deliver it in time for the deadline…… which led to the cancellation of my planned microadventure for tomorrow.Had three beautiful ladies on my Facebook profile discussing in enthusiastic terms the manly charms of… Matthew McConaugh...
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They do not fight enough. As if I cared.


In the last six months or so I’ve heard harsh criticism leveled at a number of books…Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New SunMervyn Peake’s GormenghastPatricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster’s TrilogyRobert Silverberg’s Lord Valentine’s CastleMercedes Lackey’s Valdemar novelsJ.B. Cabell’s JurgenJohn Crowley’s Little BigBooks that spend too much time in useless description, with little or no action, and characters that spend more time talking than fighting. My usual answer, “What, then?” usually receives strange looks.In at least one occasion I once again got the boring lecture about the fact that true fantasy is “Norse” in themes and moods, while another of my correspondents took some time to explain to me...
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The last days of August


Back when I was in school, the last days of August were days of frantic work, doing the home-works that had been waiting for three months in my copybooks. Now it’s thirty-odd years since I last had any home-works to do, and yet these are frantic days nonetheless.I have to close a big translation I need to deliver by the 31st – I’ll probably deliver it tomorrow or the day after that.Then there’s another important translation to deliver on the first week of September.I am working on the two Contubernium stories I have mentioned yesterday, and I have two other short stories in the works – one horror, one a straight detective mystery, possibly the start of a new series, with an eye on a very spe...
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There’s a dead body in the library…


“All right, gentlemen, I need three volunteers.”A chorus of groans and curses greeted centurion Nennius Britannicus as he entered the barracks of the contubernium. The sun had touched the horizon to the west, and the men were off duty. In one corner, hunched over a clay bowl, Brennius and Ranulphus were playing a game of dice. Festus Cimma was sitting on his bunk, cleaning his short sword, and on the next bed Scorsonides was reading one of his books. There was the smell of cooking in the air, and Troglodites was setting the table for dinner. Dunius Clericus, the decanus of the squad and Nennius’ second in command frowned. “Trouble?” he asked, standing and smoothing his tunic. Then he turned ...
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Into the Empty Quarter

Wilfred Thesiger’s Arabian Sands was one of the first true-life adventure books I remember reading, about thirty-five years ago. The book was published in 1959, and collected Thesiger’s notes about his travels in the Empty Quarter of the desert of Arabia between 1945 and 1950.The book is apparently on the Excluded Products list on Amazon, so while you can still buy the ebook through this link, I won’t see a single penny for the sale. But I don’t give a damn – this post is to recommend a fine book, not to make money. And screw Amazon.And as I am at it, here’s the short version of the movie of the expedition Alistair Humphreys and Leon McCarron undertook in the steps of Thesiger a few years ba...
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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 artOrson 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.It too...
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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 Caroline ...
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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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