‘Shifter’ Shifted

Shifter cover


I told the world that ‘Shifter‘, the third book in The Were Chronicles, would be out in November.

Alas, it wasn’t.


But don’t despair, my publisher assures me it will be available shortly — well in time for Christmas for anyone needing a gift for a loved one.



In the meantime, if you haven’t read the first two books in the series, ‘Random’ and ‘Wolf’, you can grab them now. HERE and HERE

Random coverWolf, The Were Chronicles










For those new to The Were Chronicles, it is a world in which Weres live in an uneasy alliance with normals, living lives of not quite quiet desperation. They are tolerated, but face constant discrimination and bullying. They are carefully regulated, forced to live in isolation or even imprisonment during their Turns, and forced to carry identity cards stamped with a dehumanizing paw print.

The tensions between the two groups constantly threatens to erupt into open warfare.

And in ‘Shifter‘ .. well, …..

Writing a story, building a world

To write a story or build a world, you need answers to some fundamental questions: i.e. Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How

When I started writing the Were Chronicles, one of the things I wanted to explore was the basis, and the mechanics, of being Were.

In other words, the How of Were kind.

Sure, they were by definition creatures which shift into animal form. That was a given; that had always been a given. But why did they Turn, and HOW?

My educational background was perfect for thinking about this. So back I went to the field in which I hold an MSc degree, Molecular Biology.

I sat down and worked it all out. The basic genetics that differentiate the Were from their non-shifting human kindred. With a lot of creative license, of course.

Read it all HERE

OK, OK, I’m a bit late

In honor of Thanksgiving, Buzzfeed asked some writers to tell them about the book they’re most thankful for.

What I am thankful for are WORDS. All of them. Even those in books I ended up not finishing because the order of the words rubbed me the wrong way in some manner. I still remain grateful for all of them, for the fact that they exist.

There is no single BOOK.

Or more accurately there are legions of them. I am grateful to all sorts of books for all sorts of reasons. I could write a book on the subject.

But other authors did as Buzzfeed asked and picked one book. For example:

Stine and BradburyDavid Livingston / Getty Images — Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

Why R. L. Stine is thankful for Dandelion Wine:Beautiful writing, poetry on every page, and an amazing depiction of a wonderful world of childhood that probably never really existed.

R. L. Stine is the bestselling author of more than three hundred books, including the phenomenally bestselling Goosebumps series.

Read all the author’s choices HERE

“The first time I dated a girl who was a profound reader,” Joshua Fechter writes at Lifehack, “something happened, and it was beautiful. I realized there were girls who finally understood me and I understood them.”

­­­19 Things Only People Dating A Girl Who Reads Would Know

I can particularly relate to

17. She gets upset when people don’t know her favorite book

When the man I married first started wooing me over the Internet, I sent him one of my favorite books, ‘Corelli’s Mandolin’, by Louis de Bernieres. He insists he thought it was a litmus test and worried that if he didn’t like it, he would be history.

I’m admitting nothing, but let’s just say that it was fortunate that he did. 🙂

Read all 19 things HERE

Quote of the DayRay BradburyEvery author’s fear.

Alma Alexander      My books       Email me

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A single word?

Asking a writer for a single word is like asking the clouds to produce a single drop of rain, or the lawn to grow a single blade of grass, Mark Medley muses at The National Post.

“That didn’t stop the editors of the new anthology The Novelist’s Lexicon from asking 37 writers to do just that: choose one word — a password, if you will — that opens the door to their work.”

Colum McCann chose “anonymity;” Jonathan Lethem wrote about “furniture;” Drew Hayden Taylor chose “DBAAJIMOWEONINI”, which means storyteller.

I wasn’t one of the 37, but if I had been…? Describe my novels in one word? ONE!?!

OK, enough with the questions. My answer would be —


Despite the fact that no two of my novels are alike, in some ways they are all driven by that word. My characters have a passionate conviction, a belief, something at their core which defines them and drives every thought they think, everything they do, everything they say.

It is the passion that gives them their fears, their triumphs, it is the passion that gets them through their failures and their tragedies. Without the passion, they would not exist, they would not be themselves.

Passion is the password for the reader, too, to come inside my words and to think, and to feel. The reader’s passion does not have to be for the same things as the novel’s protagonist’s – but if the reader has the capacity for passion, there will be a meeting of
minds. And that is what matters.

Read about all the writers’ words HERE

No cameras, just draw!Just DrawRijksmuseum, the Netherlands national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam, recently launched a new campaign called “The Big Draw.” It’s an effort to get museum visitors to ditch cameras and simple snapshots in favor of drawing the artworks.

The tagline of the campaign is “You See More When You Draw,”

Read the whole PetaPixel story HERE

The incredible secret in the attic

Attic 1Rudi Schlattner was just a young man when he and his family were uprooted from their home in Czechoslovakia after WW2, Jake Brannon writes at Wimp. 70 years later he returned to the home, now a kindergarten, to look for a collection of valuables his father had hidden in the attic.

They were still there, still hidden.
Family treasure found Read the whole story HERE

Speaking of lost things…

Stunning 2200-Year-Old Mosaics DiscoveredAncient MosaicsThree new mosaics were recently discovered in the ancient Greek city of Zeugma, located in southern Turkey, an article in the Twisted Swifter reports.

The incredibly well-preserved mosaics date back to 2nd century BC. Zeugma was considered one of the most important centers of the Eastern Roman Empire and the ancient city has provided a treasure trove of discoveries with 2000-3000 houses in remarkably good condition.

Read the whole story HERE

A huge chunk of a tardigrade’s genome comes from foreign DNA

TardigradeA light micrograph of a tardigrade. Credit: Sinclair Stammers

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have sequenced the genome of the nearly indestructible tardigrade, the only animal known to survive the extreme environment of outer space, and found something they never expected: that they get a huge chunk of their genome – nearly one-sixth or 17.5 percent – from foreign DNA.

“We had no idea that an animal genome could be composed of so much foreign DNA,” d co-author Bob Goldstein wrote.

Foreign DNA? So that would be, like, maybe, genetically predisposed to be something else – or something else AS WELL AS.

This is starting to sound rather like my The Were Chronicles genetics, in “Wolf” and “Shifter.” Maybe I should go all the way and posit that Were creatures are naturally well disposed to going into space (on the basis of the tardigrade experience extrapolation…)

Read the whole story HERE

Circuit Board Tattoos That  Work Bring Your Cyborg Fantasies To Life
Circuit Board Tattoo
At Gizmodo, Andrew Liszewski reports on Tech Tats, tattoos that will certainly take your cyborg cosplay to a whole new level.

But Chaotic Moon Studios actually developed them for medical monitoring purposes. Instead of wearing a temporary (and cumbersome) chest strap or arm cuff to monitor a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, or other vitals, a circuit board tattoo could be applied to their arm that would wirelessly communicate with a smartphone app to keep tabs on them.
Read the whole story HERE

THIS ‘n THATFallout4Video Game ‘Fallout 4’ Has Players Returning Overdue Library Books For Prizes

Quote of the DayPubPoint taken.

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Porn for word nerds

“I am fascinated by language,” Elaine Wilson writes at Off The Shelf. “Whether diagramming sentences, reciting the appropriate participle in my Catholic school days, or delving into the case systems of Latin and Russian, I’ve always been uncommonly excited by the rules and regulations of the written word.

“The books below are just a few of many worthy overtures to language. To anyone who has balked at “their” in place of “there” or wondered about the origins of their mother tongue, these books are for you.”

Between You Me2Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen.

Mary Norris, a longtime copyeditor at the New Yorker, waxes romantic about proper punctuation and grammar in this humorous memoir.

You don’t have to appreciate declensions and the subjunctive to get caught up in her charming prose. The Washington Post calls it “porn for word nerds.”

If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.


See all the books HERE

I’m not talking about the beauties of language, but at at the Book View Cafe I’ve been discussing the art and beauty of storytelling.

Writing a story, building a world – part 5: WHY

To write a story or build a world, you need answers to some fundamental questions: :i.e.Who, What, Where, When, Why, How

This week we are talking about WHY..

WHY is primarily motivation and that has been discussed to the point of being a cliche which is easy to make fun of. Remember that immortal exchange in ‘Galaxy Quest’:

“You’ve got to figure out what its motivation is, what it wants!”

“It’s a ROCK! It doesn’t want anything!!!”

The basic underlying truth is, though, that things don’t happen in a vacuum and even the most irrational-seeming actions are rooted in reason – even if the reason only SEEMED like a good one at the time, or seems right only to a deranged mind.
People, and therefore characters worth their salt, have a reason for doing things. For the cart of the story to keep moving forward, it needs the horse of motivation to pull it.

Read the whole article HERE

And speaking of writing, I stumbled on this today while looking for something else.

Some time back I was asked an intriguing question in a Brazilian interview.

Q:  Your book (‘The Secrets of Jin-shei’), has been translated into several languages. What was your reaction when that started to happen?

Alma: Disbelief, actually. And after that, increasingly, more disbelief.

The languages began to pile up, and they included some which absolutely astonished me – Turkish, Lithuanian, Catalan, Hebrew.

It was almost impossible to believe that my characters would be speaking all these varied and different languages many of which I would be lucky to be able to recognize the alphabet they use.

For some of the languages with which I either have at least a passing familiarity (German, Serbo-Croat) or else a familiarity with similar languages of the same linguistic family (Spanish, Italian, Polish, Czech), it’s really rather strange to look at a book and ALMOST understand it completely, but being thrown by some colloquialism or common-usage phrase which doesn’t translate clearly into English and which I can only figure out because I know what I originally wrote.

But it’s been a fabulous journey so far. And I hope to reach many more readers who might be picking up my books in their own native language.

At Bustle, Caitlin White picks:

11 of ‘Sesame Street’s Best Literary Moments

“Whether the PBS show is poking fun at Harry Potter, William Shakespeare, or Cyrano de Bergerac (seriously), its Muppet gang is clever and hilarious — while still paying homage to the book it is satirizing. Word play runs amuck, as your favorite characters get silly re-names for the sketch that will have you doubled over in laughter.”

For example:
Taming Of The Shoe
The Taming of the Shoe

The totally feminist shoe will not be tied down to Grovero’s foot. You’ll be able to watch this epic literary parody if you can even get past Cookie Monster’s announcement of “William Shoespeare, famous podiatrist.”

See them all HERE


Quiz: Do You Know These Literary Addresses?

Lit Addresses
OK, everyone knows THAT one,

But how about these others?


Take the Reading Room quiz HERE

Eat the walls
Wall FarmVertical Farms Turn Unused City Wall Space Into Gardens That Grow Your Lunch

Living walls have been around for a while, but until now they haven’t been used to grow food.

Read the whole story HERE

Quote of the Day
Writing RealityTelling it like it is!

Alma Alexander       My books       Email me
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Adult Coloring Books Craze

Adult Coloring BooksColoring books for adults are this year’s surprise smash hit category, and they’re gaining steam heading into the gift-buying season, Jim Milliot writes at Publishers Weekly.

The craze that started at the beginning of 2015 shows no sign of slowing down. ‘Lost Ocean’, Johanna Basford’s newest book sold more than 55,000 copies in the first week after its release, according to Nielsen BookScan. Her first two books were published by Laurence King: Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest have sold more than 453,000 copies and 350,000 copies, respectively, so far this year.

Read the whole story HERE

“Required Reading”

I just got a delightful email from Shanan Winters, someone I used to know back in the days of Usenet and misc.writing, about a book I co-wrote with a man later to become my husband. The novel, ‘Letters from the Fire’, was written in the form of emails exchanged between an American man and a Serb woman living under US/NATO bombs during the war against Serbia.

“With all the events going on in the world right now,” Shanan wrote, “I thought of your book. I remember …just how much it affected me. I was delighted to see that you have a Kindle version available so I could recommend it to the world.”

She did just that.

Letters from the Fire


“I try not to wax political on my blog. It’s my safe space where I express my art. Just know that at my core, I’m a peace-loving, granola-munching, forest-attuned, nature girl. That’s pretty evident from my books.

But… in light of recent world events, I’m going to put this out there as required reading material for… well… basically everyone… This (book) is a very real, very poignant look at how we view the world though ‘me-colored’ glasses, and it resolves in such a manner than it brings hope that we can, and will, survive, even through our differences.”


Read Shanan’s blog HERE

Shanan’s own novel, ‘Rising’, can be found HERE

Three Free Books

It’s Anti-Bullying Week, an event intended to raise awareness of bullying of children and to highlight ways of preventing and responding to it. It’s essentially a UK event but bullying is a huge problem everywhere, and it is a major part of the story arc in my YA series, The Were Chronicles, particularly the first book, Random’.

Because of that anti-bullying aspect, I’m offering three free signed copies of ‘Wolf’, the second book in the series, randomly selected from people who post a picture of themselves or their cat holding a copy of ‘Random’ in social media – blog it, tweet it, Facebook it, etc. — and then send me a copy for this blog.

The perils of research

I am in the midst of doing the required research for the new story that is coiling and uncoiling itself restlessly in my mind. Twist, twist, twist, it needs to be told and it will be.

But there are many aspects to this thing. And although I am not writing about the twilight of the Plains Indians, that is a large part of the background to the era in which my story is set – it is in fact in the very heart of of those years.

Plains Indiansdavidpaulkirkpatrick.com

It was the beginning of the beginning of the end, and I am reading about the history of it all, about the clear line that leads me through years, relentlessly, through the bullying and the lies, through the making and then breaking of treaties, on through terror and hunger and resentment and rivers of blood (bison and human…) on to the Trail of Tears, Little Bighorn, Wounded Knee.

I actually have to stop reading every so often and go away from my books and look outside into the green trees and the rain and try to catch my breath, to stop my racing heart, to calm my spirit, to make myself strong enough to continue with the thing I need to do, with learning the things I need to know.

My story is not primarily concerned about what had been done to the Indians – but that is a huge part of how the story is shaped, and I need to know these things. I need to. And yet, it’s a black arrow in my heart, and I am horrified, and angry, and mourning.

It all happened, you might say, a long time ago. And some might say that the ends justified the means, that the old had to give way before the new could be. But how do we all live with this history like a black cloud above the present? How can we insist that we deserve the sunlight? How, when so much bitter betrayal has been piled like bleaching bones on the American Plains? How?

No, I am not going to make my book into a soapbox from which I am going to be preaching a personal gospel of guilt and attempted redemption. But I AM going to make as much of an effort as I can to tell a forgotten and inconvenient truth, as a grim and solid backdrop to the story which I am on my way to writing. I offer it all up – my need to give voice to all of this, to shine a light into an impenetrable darkness, and all that I will do right and probably do wrong on the way there – on this altar. I promise to tell as much of the truth as I know, as I can find out.

And on that… it’s back to the books, and the heartache, and the tears.

And that’s only the research. What comes when I start writing… the old gods alone know. And they aren’t telling yet.


Dressing the part
Name's BondPhotographs by Maxine Helfman

Emily St. John Mandel as James Bond:
“Who hasn’t fantasized about being utterly competent, impeccably dressed, supremely unflappable, and in possession of multiple passports?”

Five novelists share their favorite characters HERE

Quote of the Day6 WordsA story that if it isn’t true, it ought to be.

Alma Alexander      My books     Email me

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And no ‘E’? Not one?

The other day, my husband casually mentioned the 1939 book that was written without the letter ‘E’, and we wondered if it could still be found.

(12 ‘e’s in that sentence.)

He googled it on Bing and found it after a 0.0314159 seconds search of 72,000,000 records. I pointed out that it was available as an ebook for 99 cents and he immediately bought it.

GadsbyWikpedia tells us that the novel, Gadsby, is a 1939 novel by Ernest Vincent Wright, an author with three ‘e’s in his name. Wikpedia also mentions helpfully that it is “Not to be confused with The Great Gatsby.”

The plot revolves around the dying fictional city of Branton Hills, which is revitalized as a result of the efforts of protagonist John Gadsby and a youth group he organizes.

Though self-published and little-noticed in its time, the book is a favorite of fans of constrained writing and is a sought-after rarity among some book collectors. Later editions of the book have sometimes carried the alternative subtitle: 50,000 Word Novel Without the Letter “E”.

I haven’t read it yet as I’m rather busy on my next book which will contain buckets of little ‘e’s.

But I can tell you that in the introduction he reports on some of the responses he received when word got out that he was writing it:

I have received some extremely odd criticisms since the Associated Press widely announced that such a book was being written. A rapid-talking New York newspaper columnist wanted to know how I would get over the plain fact that my name contains the letter E three times. As an author’s name is not a part of his story, that criticism did not hold water.

And I received one most scathing epistle from a lady (woman!) denouncing me as a “genuine fake;” (that paradox being a most interesting one!), and ending by saying:—” Everyone knows that such a feat is impossible.” All right. Then the impossible has been accomplished; (a paradox to equal hers!)

Other criticism may be directed at the Introduction; but this section of a story also is not part of it. The author is entitled to it, in order properly to explain his work. The story required five and a half months of concentrated endeavor, with so many erasures and retrenchments that I tremble as I think of them. Of course anybody can write such a story. All that is needed is a piece of string tied from the E type-bar down to some part of the base of the typewriter. Then simply go ahead and type your story. Incidentally, you should have some sort of a bromide preparation handy, for use when the for use when the going gets rough, as it most assuredly will !

I’ll let you know when I read it.

Literary Looks: Bookish Tights and Leggings
Middleearth leggings Jane Austen quotes. Emily Dickinson poems. ColineDesign on Etsy also allows you to personalize your tights with any text you want.

See more HERE

How Many of These Literary Landmarks Have You Been To?

At Project Literacy, GOOD notes that St. Augustine put it best when he said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”

So, are you a fair-weather fan of books, or a dedicated diehard? Do you have a bit of wanderlust, or do you prefer to read about locales instead of actually going to them? Put your jetsetting tendencies to the test.
Sherlock FallsSee all the landmarks HERE

Quote of the Day
Bookstore Sign~~~~~
Alma Alexander       My books       Email me
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Hell yes, sisters

­­­When I first met my husband, I told him I wasn’t a feminist (not as such). He said I was wrong, and later added that if it had been true, he would never have married me.

Turns out he was right, and never am I more aware of that than when I notice things like these Tumblr posts crossing my screen and I want to stand up and cheer for all my sisters.

These 31 delightful Tumblr posts about being a woman were selected by Heben Nigatu of BuzzFeed.
Tumblr 27Check out all the posts HERE

Listen to the Kids! 12 Memorable Novels With Child Narrators

If we listen closely, children can remind us of what is truly important in life and refresh our jaded, grown-up viewpoints, Off the Shelf says. ”

These twelve inspiring, funny, and memorable novels, narrated by children, are exemplary of the notion that kids, while they can say the darndest things, are often wise beyond their years.”

One example:
Ella Minnow PeaElla Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

In this hilarious and moving tale of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, Ella Minnow Pea must act to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of her town’s city council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet.

As the letters are banned from the town, they also disappear from the novel, resulting in a linguistic achievement sure to delight word lovers everywhere.


See the other books HERE

The Andrew Luck Book Club

The Indianapolis Colts quarterback is the NFL’s unofficial librarian as he constantly recommends books to his teammates, Kevin Clark writes in The Wall Street Journal.

Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts talks with Matt Hasselbeck before a game against the Houston Texans last month. Photo: Getty Images

In the same way that Oprah Winfrey has become known for vaulting books she likes to popularity across the country, Luck can make his favorite reads become the talk of the Colts locker room. Some of the books he recommends are for inspiration, players say, if a teammate is going through a tough time. Others are passed on simply because Luck enjoyed leafing through them.

“He’s a voracious reader and he likes talking about it,” said center Khaled Holmes, a beneficiary of Luck’s penchant for recommending his favorite titles.

Read the whole story HERE

15 woodpiles that have been stacked into gorgeous works of art
Woodpile OwlGary’s owls Photography by Larry Beckner/Great Falls

Tribune Montana resident Gary Tallman sorts his firewood by colour each spring and uses the raw materials to create stunning firewood mosaics. Each woodpile takes at least 20 hours to build.

See other photos of woodpile art HERE


Books with Booze   
Books With BoozeExperiential’ Indie Bookshop to Open in London

The venture will be “first and foremost a bookshop, but one that will also offer customers a glass of whiskey or wine if they want a tipple while they sit down to read a book.”

Read the whole story HERE

A steal at only $170.4 million
ModiglianiChinese billionaire Liu Yiqian bought Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu Couché for $170.4 million, the second-highest price ever paid at auction for a work of art.

Insane art prices

Earth-sized world is a mere 39 light-years away

But it’s a bit warm and…

Quote of the Day
Prachett Quote~~~~~
Alma Alexander       My books      Buy Worldweavers     Email me
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‘Shifter‘, Book 3 of The Were Chronicles, will be out by the end of the month. With luck, it will be out before the 20th and I can show it around at Orycon.Shifter cover

‘Shifter’ is the story of Saladin van Schalkwyk – better known as Chalky – a lost child, true friend, gifted hacker – and a shifter, able to change form at will.

All he tried to do was help.

Instead, he started a war.

My own favorite character in The Were Chronicles is Mal, featured in ‘Wolf’, Book 2. On the other hand, my husband fell in love with Chalky, something he shares with a lot of people who saw advance copies of ‘Shifter’.


I have been tinkering with my website/blog to make it easier to navigate.

Among other things, I have added a Book Club section in the top menu which contains Discussion Questions for a few of my books. More will be added later.

I have also expanded the free Excerpts section. It now has excerpts from the first chapters of all three books of The Were Chronicles, ‘Random’, ‘Wolf’, and ‘Shifter’. You can try before you buy. (And any or all of the books would make a great Christmas gift. Hint, hint.)

Read an excerpt of Shifter HERE

Color it Zen

“I get it now”, Julie Beck says about adult coloring books.

“They fit into the trend of meditation and mindfulness,” she writes in The Atlantic, “…one response among many to the high levels of stress many adults are living with.”
Coloring ZenRead the whole story HERE

The eagles have landed

They gather in droves, they tell us. They gather in huge numbers and hang out in the trees above the Nooksack river when the salmon are running, they tell us. Three years we went up to look for them, and three years passed without much being seen.

We live in hope, and we did see a couple. I got this picture with a very long lens.
Alma Eagleby Alma Alexander

But the Skagit Eagle Watchers do much better. Take a look at this photo of 122 eagles gathered in three trees!

WA EaglesPhoto by EagleWatcher volunteer Don Knutzen.

See more astonishing photos HERE    

People Are Tweeting Their Most Awkward Moments And It’s Cringingly Hilarious

“I was looking for clip-on sunglasses to go over my prescription glasses. Asked the pharmacist at CVS if they sold ‘strap ons.’ “

“Noticed the blind man approaching me wasn’t sure where I was so called out ‘on your right’, I was on his left. He corrected me.”

See them all HERE


When Stoney Emshwiller was 18 years old, he filmed himself ‘interviewing’ his older self. Thirty-eight years later a 56-year-old Stoney completed the interview by answering his younger self’s questions in a hilarious video.
Interviews HimselfWatch the video HERE

Can You Guess Which Famous Author Gave This Writing Advice?

Erin La Rosa offers us a Buzzfeed quiz HERE

Quote of the Day
Reading MagicTaken from “Egghead: Or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone” by Bo Burnham

Alma Alexander       My books       Email me
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