The only rule

At The Literacy Site, Will S. examined:
What Science Is Saying About Fiction Readers

Among other things, he noted that the authors of one study said that what you choose to read is important:

“We believe that one critical difference between lit and pop fiction is the extent to which the characters are complex, ambiguous, difficult to get to know, etc. (in other words, human) versus stereotyped, simple…”

i.e, What they are saying is that it’s literary fiction vs genre, with literary at the top, of course.

Well, some reviewers have said that I write ‘literary genre’ fiction. So there.

A readerBut seriously, genre fiction does not have to be – although admittedly it can be – one gigantic trope, or a bingo card where you’re supposed to check off genre boxes. A good book is a good book, and that depends on the writing.

Many genre books that are sniffily dismissed by the cognoscenti are considerably better and more engagingly written than some of the more pretentious literary stuff that is intended to be as woolly, ‘intellectual’ and impenetrable as it can be. THOSE books make you run from reading.

It’s the books about people, about strong characters, about what happens to them and how that changes them, that teaches readers the empathy that science is discovering is one of the major benefits of reading.

A book carried by strong characters who are part of a strong story can be genre, or it can be literary. Anyone who tells me that literary offerings are better than a book by Ursula le Guin, by Guy Gavriel Kay, by Octavia Butler, by Neil Gaiman… is basically an utter pretentious and supercillious ignoramus. In truth, ‘literary’ is just another genre, not superior to all the others.

Not every science fiction or fantasy book is about D&D quests. Not every Western is about shootouts at high noon in a deserted dusty street of a Hollywood Wild West set. Not every book with romance in it is going to be a bodice-ripper. Not every mystery is going to be a straight-up whodunnit.

These books are stories with genre tropes embedded inside. They are no less literary for all that. Read good books, and don’t worry about what “genre” they are. That’s the only rule.

Read the whole Literary Site article HERE

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Alice in Wonderland at 150

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. But what has it meant to different generations? Rosa Silverman asks at The Telegraph. Is it innocent fantasy or dark and druggy?
Alice in WonderlandPhoto: Royal Mail

Walt Disney made a film of her. Jefferson Airplane wrote a song about her. And now Royal Mail has released a set of stamps in her honour.

Alice in Wonderland celebrates her 150th birthday this year and we are still enthralled by her spell – or rather, the spell cast by Lewis Carroll when he wrote the much-loved children’s book in 1865.

Read the whole story HERE

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Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second“. ~ Marc Riboud
Life-long loveLove That Lasts: Couple from Khalilov, Russia, have been happily married for 65 years.

This isn’t my usual, mostly book-related fare, but I couldn’t resist these pictures by Kindness Blog that celebrate what humanity can be like at its best.

19 of the Very Best ‘Uplifting Photos of the Day’

Human Beings. Animals. Family. Fun. Friendship. Love. Laughter….What more could you need?”

See all the photos HERE

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The 10 Best Short Story Collections You’ve Never Read

At Publishers Weekly, short story author Mia Alvar says that a great short story collection can cover as much ground as an epic doorstopper, one brief vignette or character at a time.

Here’s a list of (my) favorite collections that … share what every great story collection has in common: fully realized worlds compressed into a few pages, and a multiplicity of perspectives shedding light on what it is to be human in the world.

e.g.
Dubravka UgrešićLend Me Your Character: Author Dubravka Ugrešić herself has described this collection as “stories [written] by altering other stories.” Her sources range from Tolstoy, sensationalist news items, Slavic folk tales, and editorial pitch letters. ‘A Hot Dog in a Warm Bun,’ for instance, channels the absurdities of Gogol’s “The Nose” into…a different member of the (male) anatomy. Her characters—almost all of them blocked writers, fretting over their literary legacies—struggle with the impossibility of creating a truly original story nowadays…These stories were written in a nation “that no longer exists” and a language that “too has divided, in three.” In light of that disruptive and tragic history, Ugrešić’s quirky humor, irreverent feminism, and playful postmodern style often had me wincing through my laughter.

See all Mia Alvar’s selections HERE

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THIS n THAT

Pluto

 

NASA’s New Horizons probe has reached Pluto more than nine years after leaving Earth. The spacecraft will perform a flyby of the icy dwarf planet, capturing the most detailed images ever seen. Aboard are the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, the American astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930.

 

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To get boys to read

“I have boys, and boys are particularly resistant to reading books. I had some success recently with Sherman Alexie’s great young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian–I told my son it was highly inappropriate for him, and one of the most banned books in America. That got his attention, and he raced through it.”
~ author Nick Hornby in an interview with the Daily Telegraph

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The New York Times has removed ‘A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America’, by Ted Cruz from its bestsellers list, claiming that “strategic bulk purchases,” have skewed the book’s sales figures. Amazon and HarperCollins denied the allegations.

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Quote of the Day
QUOT Caitln Moran~~~~~
Alma Alexander     My books     Email me
 
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Stories are alive

What is it that makes certain stories last?

That’s a question that Neil Gaiman explores in a lecture two and a half years in the making, part of the Long Now Foundation’s nourishing and necessary seminars on long-term thinking, an article in Brain Pickings tells us.
Neil GaimanGaiman suggests that stories are a life-form obeying the same rules of genesis, reproduction, and propagation that organic matter does. “Stories are alive – they can, and do, outlive even the world’s oldest living trees by millennia,” he says.

Read the article and listen to Gaiman HERE

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My first major success was ‘The Secrets of Jin-Shei‘, a novel of sisterhood set in a mythological land called Syai that resembles an Imperial China that never was. It is out in 13 languages so far.

The Secrets of Jin-sheiThe first Harper Collins hardcover edition of Jin-shei had a gorgeous cover. While the paperback is still available, the hardcover edition is out of print now and I have seen it being sold as a collector’s item. I have a few copies of my own stashed away that I am hoarding.

Published more than a decade ago, it is a story that fits Gaiman’s definition. It is a living thing. I still hear from or about women and girls who have pledged Jin-shei to each other like the characters in my story. Some time back, a teenager in Brazil posted a video about it on her blog. I don’t speak Portuguese, but she did seem to be enthusiastic about it.

At off the Shelf, Hilary Krutt takes a look at several other similar books:

 

11 Novels that Explore the Beautiful and Complex Bonds of Sisterhood

“The concept of sisterhood has always possessed an almost mystical allure for me,” Krutt says. “Growing up with no sisters of my own, my brother served as a proxy, begrudgingly allowing me to dress him up in old tutus and playing along with my extensive collection of Barbie dolls. He eventually grew out of it, but I always cherished the time when he allowed me to project my girlish whims on him. Whether you’re from a clan of sisters or sisterless like me, here are eleven books about the joys and challenges of sisterhood.”

e.g.

The Weird Sisters

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown:

Bianca, Cordelia, and Rosalind are the book-loving and wonderfully quirky spawn of Shakespeare scholar Dr. James Andreas. When the three sisters return to their childhood home to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horrified to find the others there.

But the Andreas sisters soon discover that everything they’ve been running from might offer more than they ever expected.

 

Read the whole story HERE

 

 

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Another story that interested me because of the personal connection to one of my own books is a Flavorwire story on Internet novels. :

I didn’t write an Internet novel in the sense of the article below, but the man-who-was-to- become-my-husband and I wrote an epistolary novel together about NATO’s war on Yugoslavia in the form of an exchange of emails over the Internet between a pro-war American man, and a Serb woman living under the bombs. After the original bitter exchanges, the couple, despite themselves, fell in love.

Published by New Zealand HarperCollins, it was called ‘Letters from the Fire‘ and sold extremely well in New Zealand where I was living at the time. Now self published on the Internet… Well… No comment.

The books mentioned by Flavowire have made a lot more of a stir.

The Evolution of the Internet Novel, 1984 to Present: A Timeline

neuromancer

 

The article begins with, not surprisingly, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, published in 1984.

It may be argued that earlier novels, genre or otherwise, anticipated the Internet before William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984), but can any of them lay claim to the invention of the word “cyberspace,” or the cyberpunk genre, or the credible hacking novel?’

 

 

Read the whole story HERE

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ParbunkellsThe Word the Internet Didn’t Know

Ever heard of the word in the photo above? Maddie Stone asks at Gizmodo. Probably not, because, until this month, that word didn’t exist on the Internet.

That’s right: A 17th century English word that means “coming together through the binding of two ropes,” according to a 1627 publication housed at the New York Public Library’s Rare Book Division, was, until this month, dead to the digital world—and to almost every living person.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the internet knows everything, but it doesn’t.

Read the whole story HERE

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THIS ‘n THAT

New favorite review of ‘Wolf‘, second book in my The Were Chronicles. At Goodreads, a reader called Melani exclaims with glee,

They saved the day with SCIENCE!”

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The man who saved 2,000,000 babies

…and 14 other saviors of mankind

Read the whole Kindness Blog story HERE

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Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought

Read the whole story of the bee apocalypse HERE

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Quote of the day

Stories should change you – good stories should change you.” ~ Neil Gaiman

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Alma Alexander      My books      Email me   

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Which would you buy?

QUIZ: Classic Houses In Literature on the Imaginary Real Estate Market

Anne of Green GablesBright, colorful farmhouse in rural Canadian townThe Western canon is having a real estate sale: All the settings of your favorite novels are now yours for the buying, Maddie Rodriguez writes at Bustle, from gorgeous English estates  to rural Canadian farmhouses.
See them all
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The other day we  looked at the grim original Grimm fairy tales. Now take a look at this:
The secret history of Maleficent
Sleeping BeautyHenry Meynell Rheam, “Sleeping Beauty,” Public Domain image.
iPinion Syndicate talks about murder, rape, and woman-hating in Sleeping Beauty, and then asks why women should care.The answer, it explains, is because reclaiming women from the stereotypes of fairy tales can empower real-life women to defy the roles too-long proscribed for them by men
 
.Interesting read
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8 Wicked Women From Grimm’s Fairy Tales You Probably Don’t Know
At Bustle, Laura I. Miller tells us that for thousands of years, fairytales reigned as the preferred mode of storytelling. Today we see these stories as simple-minded and didactic — kids’ stuff. But women in these stories prosper under the most gruesome circumstances. If you’re looking for inspirational heroines, these dark, magical, powerful ladies — not their watered-down, guileless Disney counterparts — certainly top the list.e.g.
The Girl With No HandsThe Girl With No HandsAfter making a deal with the devil, the girl’s father chops off her hands with an axe because they are too clean for the devil to touch. She cries her stumps spotless, thwarting the devil’s advances, but decides she must leave home — with her maimed arms strapped to her back — to find her own fortune. Eventually, a king marries her and fashions her a pair of silver hands, but her bad luck is far from over. Read the rest of the tale to find out what adventures befall her next!

Read the article

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And speaking of scary…

THE 10 scariest books of all time
Piercing, Ryu Murakami
Piercing, Ryu Murakami

This novel isn’t “boo” scary; it’s more like “set your teeth on edge for days and make you never want to be close to anyone for the rest of your life” scary.

Read the article

 
 
 
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THIS ‘n THAT
35 Gifts book lover will want to keep for themselves
So it goesoutofprintclothing.com, Poo-tee-weet, mofos
See them all
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Masai told to leave homeland so it can become a hunting reserve for royal familyIt never ends. A desire to shoot a trophy animal, to stick a decapitated head on your wall, or put an animal’s skin in front of your fireplace ALWAYS trumps the right of people who can’t afford to buy what should never have been for sale – their own heritage, their own past…
Read the article
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I will send free (ebook) copies of my new book, Random, the first book in the YA series The Were Chronicles, to the next 10 people who ask for it and pledge to leave a review (on Amazon, Goodreads, their own blog, what have you…)Send an email HERE with the subject line “Free Random Offer” Include:
(1) a valid email address to send the ebook to 
(2) a single sentence in the body of the email acknowledging that a review will follow.

Random, The Were Chronicles

 

“Random isn’t just a story about shape-shifters, it’s a story about humanity. It’s about what it means to be a member of a family, a culture, a race.” ~ Angela’s Library review

 

 

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Quote of the Day

“Closing libraries is endangering the future.” ~ Neil Gaiman

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Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

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Which fairytales are best?

Well, my five candidates would be:
Little Mermaid 1Sulamith Wolfing, Hedgehog Studios

1) The Little Mermaid (Hans Christian Andersen) – the ORIGINAL version, thank you – the tragic one, no Caribbean singing lobsters anywhere near it, thank you so much

2) The Nightingale and the Rose (Oscar Wilde) – another tragic one (begin to see a pattern…?) and if this doesn’t make you fall in love with language itself nothing ever will.
Neverwhere3) Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) why yes, we are doing modern and novel length by the rules of the original list – and this is a magnificent modern fairytale.
Match Girl4) Little Match Girl (Hans Christian Andersen) – oh, okay, another tragic one – this one always made me cry – I think it was the Grandmother that always slays me in the end because of the way I loved my own grandmother and I could FEEL THE LOVE.

5) The Once and Future King (T H White) – just to BREAK the pattern, here’s another (relatively) recent book – and it is SO a fairy tale – and it’s one of the few books which has ever made me laugh out loud.
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At The Guardian, Marina Warner discusses her top 10

When I first began working on fairytales,” she writes, “they weren’t really considered a proper subject of study, and I felt inhibited about my enjoyment of them: was I betraying my feminist loyalties? Was I letting down the cause of high art and serious literature?

But fairytales had grown up in the 70s: Anne Sexton’s savage poems and Angela Carter’s celebrated revisionings took them out of the nursery. Since then, they have been growing ever darker and more disturbing, especially as the Grimm brothers’ violent, deadpan ways of telling now dominate definitions of the genre. Parents are rightly puzzled as to whether they should be reading them to their children, though children relish the gore and vengeance.

The most lingering and powerful tales don’t always have an original written text, but shapeshift through time, bobbing about on the streams of story. I’ve tried to choose 10 of the most inspiring, and include some of the great collectors; but as in any exercise of this kind, there are so many that I have had to leave out.

Read the article

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Why we need fairytales

Oscar Wilde’s magical stories for children have often been dismissed as lesser works, Jeanette Winterson writes at The Guardian, but as examples of how important imagination is to us all – young and old alike – they are a delight.
selfish giant oscar wildeLove transfigured by imagination … ‘The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. Illustration: Grahame Baker-Smith

Reason and logic are tools for understanding the world. We need a means of understanding ourselves, too. That is what imagination allows. When a child reads of a Nightingale who bleeds her song into a rose for love’s sake, or of a Selfish Giant who puts a wall round life, or of a Fisherman who wants to be rid of his Soul, or of a statue who feels the suffering of the world more keenly than the Mathematics Master who scoffs at his pupils for dreaming about Angels, the child knows at once both the mystery and truth of such stories. We have all at some point in our lives been the overlooked idiot who finds a way to kill the dragon, win the treasure, marry the princess.

As explanations of the world, fairy stories tell us what science and philosophy cannot and need not. There are different ways of knowing.

Read the article

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The top 10 stories of mothers and daughters

From the Book of Ruth to Pride and Prejudice, here is Meike Ziervogel’s pick of literary mother-daughter relationships

I write to understand myself better. Each story is an exploration, a journey, a search for something I cannot express in any other way. Mother-daughter relationships have been my preoccupation over the past 20 years. Here are some of the books that have inspired me.
Anne SextonPoet Anne Sexton – Photograph: Virago

Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton by Linda Gray Sexton

Anne Sexton wrote brilliant poetry. But she was also bipolar and incapable of fulfilling her role as mother. Linda Gray Sexton’s intelligent, harrowing account of her childhood made me realise that women artists and writers who descend into a dark space for their art have a duty towards their children to climb back into the light on a daily basis.

Read the article

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Chin Up: 5 Utopian Sci-Fi Books Perfect for Adaptation

One of the most recent bizarre trends in contemporary cinema, Lisa Rosman writes in Word & Film, is the rise of the dystopian sci-fi flick. Do we really need a new movie every week to remind us of how dour our future may be? Frankly, it’s high time Hollywood made utopian sci-fi tales, instead. We could use some positive models for a change, and we know just the books that would make great adaptations.

Woman on the Edge of TimeWoman on the Edge of Time: Written in 1976, Marge Piercy’s feminist utopia is astonishingly prescient. It follows a woman subjected to experimental brain surgery, She develops the ability to time travel, and she visits a 2137 in which all people can biologically nurse their children; gender, race, and corporations no longer exist; human reproduction now takes place in labs; and everyone thrives in small, Quaker-like communities. To date, this is one of the most radical sci-fis ever conceived; its rejection of biological determinism (and gendered pronouns!) dovetails nicely with today’s transgender movement.

Read the article

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THIS ‘n THAT

25 Songs That Reference Books

Artist/Song: Led Zeppelin – Ramble On (from 1969’s Led Zeppelin II)
Book: Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings
Lyric: “‘Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor/I met a girl so fair/But Gollum, and the evil one crept up/And slipped away with her.”

Songs and books
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Words you think you know
Unabashed by these 10 Difficult-to-Remember words

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Quote of the Day

Gossip is charming! History is merely gossip. But scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.” ~ Oscar Wilde

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Alma Alexander
My books

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Greatest sculpture?

Our cities are full of majestic monuments, stunning sculptures and artistic statues, each having a story to tell, Bored Panda says and offers us 25 of them.

Les VoyageursImage credits: Bruno Catalano
Les Voyageurs, Marseilles, France

Hippo SculpturesImage credits: Patche99z
Hippo Sculptures, Taipei, Taiwan

RomaniaImage credits: Dan Dima
Mihai Eminescu, Onesti, Romania

Read the Article

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How big is a book?

Vincze Miklós at io9 invites us to “just imagine burying your nose between the pages of these beauties, massive atlases, photobooks, and tributes to the written word.”
The Klencke Atlas(via Erik Kwakkel and AP Photo/Sang Tan)

The Klencke Atlas, presented by a group of Dutch sugar merchants, led by Johannes Klencke, to King Charles of England II in 1660.

Earth Platinum(via Millennium House)

Earth Platinum, a 6 by 4.5-ft, 128-page atlas by the Sydney-based Millennium House. 31 copies were produced and sold for $100,000 each in 2012.

Read the Article

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Who else do my readers read?

There is a fun site that produces a cloud showing relationships among authors. I plugged in my name and got this: What else do readers of Alma Alexander read? The closer two writers are, the more likely someone will like both of them. Click on any name to travel along.
Alma literary mapThat’s me in the center even if the image is not super. I’ve written historical fantasy as do Judith Tarr and Guy Gavriel Kay. Charles de Lint I can see being in the same camp although it’s a slightly different animal. I’ve been compared to Gail Tsukiyama before.

But why on earth are Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman grouped together out there at the periphery? OK, I can see an overlap with at least SOME of Gaiman, but Pratchett writes funny, and I rarely write humor. While I deeply admire the man and do enjoy his work I don’t know that I would expect an overlap of readers who might profess to enjoy us both?

Read the Article

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When truth and fiction collide

“This reminds me of “The Secrets of Jin Shei. You’ll know why!” my German translator, Christiane Bergfeld, said in sending me a link.

I do know why. And it’s amazing.

There is a limit to how much actual research you can do on ANYTHING – and at some point you just have to trust to what you have already learned, and then after that to luck. Such was the case when I posited a race of red-headed gypsies who lived in the mountains of Syai, of my mythical not-quite-China where the world of “The Secrets of Jin Shei” is set. But then… oh, SO many years later… it turns out I knew more than I knew.
jin-shei gyosyTHE UYGHURS: THE MYSTERY OF THE CHINESE CELTS
The boy in this photograph is officially Chinese, being from the Uyghur people, a mixed Caucasian-Asian Muslim ethnic group that primarily live in Xinjiang (aka East Turkestan) in the People’s Republic of China.

A meeting of civilizations: The mystery of China’s Celtic mummies. The discovery of European corpses thousands of miles away suggests a hitherto unknown connection between East and West in the Bronze Age. Clifford Coonan reports for The Independent.

Read the Article

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Iridescent Clouds over Thamserku
iridescent cloudsImage Credit & Copyright: Oleg Bartunov

NASA offers a daily photo of the universe – stars, galaxies, nebulae — and sometimes an image from earth like this stunning cloud formation. NASA explains how it came about.

Why would a cloud appear to be different colors? A relatively rare phenomenon known as iridescent clouds can show unusual colors vividly or a whole spectrum of colors simultaneously. These clouds are formed of small water droplets of nearly uniform size. When the Sun is in the right position and mostly hidden by thick clouds, these thinner clouds significantly diffract sunlight in a nearly coherent manner, with different colors being deflected by different amounts. Therefore, different colors will come to the observer from slightly different directions. The above iridescent cloud was photographed in 2009 from the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal, behind the 6,600-meter peak named Thamserku.

Read the Article

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Read these, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says

“I’ve always loved YA novels. The ones I read growing up include “The Three Musketeers,” “Lord of the Flies,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Huckleberry Finn” and “The Catcher in the Rye,” among many others. Those works inspired and shaped me as the man I would become, and they continue to remind me of the values of compassion and courage I still embrace.”

He picks five contemporary young adult novels that he thinks adults should read.

Read the Article

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Quote of the Day

Einstein and Fairy Tales~~~~~
Alma Alexander
Check out my books
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Comments welcome. What do you think?

Unhappily ever after…

The other day we tripped over a movie on TV – “Snow White: A Tale of Terror”, vintage 1997.

I’m always one for a good re-telling of a good old fairy tale like this, and so we settled in to watch. And never have I seen a more messed up version than this one. It just could not seem to place itself – it was billed as something with an edge of horror, it was trying to retain the framework of the fairy tale, and they were seemingly intent on adding a layer of … something. And while they were dithering about which angle to pursue, they ALL fell down, splat, flat on their faces.
Snow White(……..)  It is entirely possible to re-tell fairy tales in a way that makes them so utterly fresh that you can’t believe you just read a story with its roots in something that is so very familiar from the earliest days of your childhood.  I still remember, with a shiver, Neil Gaiman’s retelling of this story – “Snow, Glass, Apples”. He brings something new and genuinely awful into the tale. This movie adaptation…? Is just disastrous. It’s one of those “some day I know I will want these two hours back” movies.

Read the whole essay

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To Kill a Mocking BirdBuzzfeed asked its fans on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Tumblr to talk about their favorite book-to-movie adaptations.

The first choice? To Kill a Mocking Bird:

There is absolutely no debate on this one. There were at least twice as many votes for To Kill a Mockingbird as there were for any other movie. As Holly H. said on Facebook: “Gregory Peck WAS Atticus Finch.” Also, Mary Badham as Scout might be the greatest performance of a child actor ever in the history of the world. And that is NOT hyperbole.

Another? Life of Pi
Life of PiVia i1.ytimg.com

Life of Pi seemed like it might be one of those books that was impossible to make into a movie. The book is so visually improbably and one of the main characters is a terrifying tiger. And yet, the movie version was breathtaking and powerful and managed to capture the essence of the book. Not to mention it is a beautiful film that you can watch again and again, if that’s your thing (it should be your thing).

23 Best Book-To-Movie Adaptations

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10 Best literary put-downs

When it comes to witty put-downs in literature, Margaret Mitchell is the boss, Jess Denham says in reporting on a poll of 2,000 adults.
Clark GableThe put-down is, of course, the line uttered by Rhett Butler in her 1936 classic Gone with the Wind. The one with a bad word in it.

earnestThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
‘To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune, Mr Worthing. To lose both looks like carelessness.’ – Lady Bracknall
Anthony Devlin

10 literary put-downs

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The Ugly Truth About Meetings: INFOGRAPHIC

Ugly TruthWhether you work for a publishing house, a magazine, or a TV station, Dianna Dilworth” writes at Galley Cat, chances are that you spend a lot of time in meetings. But do these meetings really help you get your job done?

Fuze has created an infographic which explores “The Ugly Truth.” What’s meant to be an efficient way for people to get together to discuss ideas, debate issues, overcome obstacles and drive outcomes, often … Well, study the graphic.

See the graphic

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Quote of the Day
1950s quote~~~~~
Alma Alexander
Check out my books
Email me 
Comments welcome. What do you think?

Ladies’ Home Journal RIP

Ladies Home JournalAn icon of American publishing and cornerstone of what were once called the “Seven Sisters” of women’s magazines, Ladies’ Home Journal will cease monthly publication in July after 131 years, Ad Age reports.

 

It had a peak circulation of 3.2 million.

 

 
Magazine dies

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13 Kickass Literary Power Couples

It’s common to think of great writers as congenital loners, HuffPost says, “the iconic isolated genius too egotistical or socially inept to have fulfilling personal relationships.” Yet, as HuffPost went on, literary-minded people tend to be drawn to each other and these pairings sometimes result in even greater artistic productivity.

These 13 couples, though not always personally stable or successful, likely produced even better work due to their unions:

Orlovsky, Ginsberg, And WaldmanAllen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky:

Allen Ginsberg, a celebrated poet and leading member of the Beat Generation, met Peter Orlovsky in 1954. The two fell in love and remained partners until Ginsberg’s death in 1997. Ginsberg rose to fame in the mid-’50s with the publication of his seminal work “Howl,” a poem deemed obscene at the time due to its rough language but also celebrated by critics for its virtuosity. Meanwhile, Ginsberg urged Orlovsky, who had considered himself a poet, to begin writing. While he never became a literary powerhouse on the level of Ginsberg, he went on to publish his work and receive grant money for his poetry projects. These two writers were central to the Beat movement that altered the course of American literature. Their sometimes-rocky relationship was open to allow affairs with other men and women, but their bond to each other held through over 40 years of what both considered to be a marriage.

Literary couples

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An American Odyssey

First color postcards of the ‘New World’ showcase life in the US at the end of the 19th century. The photographs were taken between 1888 and 1924 and were made into postcards celebrating cities, landscapes and everyday life across the country, Sarah Gordon reports in Mail Online.

The images were produced by the Detroit Photographic Company and will be available in a rather pricey book published by Taschen for £135.

Photos include laundry day in New York, a Seminole Indian family sailing in their dugout canoes in Florida, and San Francisco when it was a pup.

San FranciscoGold rush town: A glorious panorama shows the Californian city of San Francisco when it was still a relatively small settlement

Laundry DayLaundry day: This unusual picture shows a Monday in New York City, when the streets were filled with clean washing being aired among the buildings

Color postcards

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30 Writers’ Invaluable Advice to Graduates

Graduation season is fast approaching, Elisabeth Donnelly notes at Flavorwire, the time of the year when many writers are tasked with summing up the lessons learned in ten succinct minutes of witty truth.

These days, a successful graduation speech has the very real chance of going viral, and then living forever as a book: from David Foster Wallace’s This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, About Living a Compassionate Life to Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art, the best graduation speeches are finding a new life.

This crop includes the brand new Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness by noted author George Saunders, a pretty-in-print encapsulation of his 2013 Syracuse Graduation speech on “kindness.”

It’s reason enough to collect 30 of the best, wisest, and pithiest pieces of advice from the greatest writers to attempt the graduation speech. Here are some of our favorites (and yes, Wallace, Gaiman, and Saunders are included).

Watterson & CalvinBill Watterson, Kenyon College, 1990

“If I’ve learned one thing from being a cartoonist, it’s how important playing is to creativity and happiness. My job is essentially to come up with 365 ideas a year. If you ever want to find out just how uninteresting you really are, get a job where the quality and frequency of your thoughts determine your livelihood. I’ve found that the only way I can keep writing every day, year after year, is to let my mind wander into new territories. To do that, I’ve had to cultivate a kind of mental playfulness.”

Writers advice to graduates

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36 Unexpected Origins Of Everyday English Phrases…

…according to BuzzFeed staffer Daniel Dalton.

brass ballsJeff Carpenter / Shutterstock

That’s probably very cold indeed. This one, like many of the more colouful English phrases, has a Naval origin.

On 18th-century men-of-war ships, the brass trays used to hold the cannonballs became known as the brass monkeys – named after powder monkey, an affectionate name for the young boys who carried gunpowder around the ship.

These trays had 16 cannonball-sized indentations that would form the base of a cannonball pyramid, and were made from brass so the balls did not stick, as they did on iron. The drawback was that brass contracts much faster in cold weather than iron. This meant that on severely cold days the indentations holding the lower level of cannonballs would contract, spilling the pyramid over the deck. Hence ‘cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey’.

Go with the FlowAndre Nantel / Shutterstock

Meaning to put objections aside and follow the majority, the phrase is often thought to be of American origin, but is in fact Roman. Marcus Aurelius was crowned Emperor of Rome on 7 March 161. During a turbulent reign beset by war, Marcus dealt with his turmoil through intellectual thought and philosophy, much of which is expressed in his writings The Meditations.

Marcus’s philosophy is based around the flow of thought and the flow of happiness, and led him to conclude that ‘all things flow naturally’, and that it was better to ‘go with the flow’ rather than try to change the natural course of events.

Where it came from

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Quote of the Day

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~ Charles William Eliot

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Alma Alexander
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