How can I write…?

I and 33 other authors offer advice.

I wasn’t consulted, but my best advice?

Nothing is EVER finished – but you have to know when to let go. It won’t be perfect. Not EVER. Live with it. Get your story as good as you can and then let it step out into the world to seek its fortune. Hope it sends you a postcard to show you how it’s doing.”

That’s it. But it took me a score of books and a few million words to really recognize the truth of it. And between you and me, I sometimes have a hard time practicing what I preach.

I particularly like this advice:

33. “Ignore all lists of writing tips. Including this one…every time you hear a writing tip, you have to decide whether it means something to you, resonates with you, or (it’s) the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard. It’s your book, you need to learn to write it your way. Now please ignore this advice. – Marcus Sedgwick, author of The Ghosts of Heaven and others

And this:
As Bad as it gets posterimages.unsplash.com

07. First drafts are always horrible and ugly. Don’t worry about that – it’s the same for everyone…if you keep redrafting, one day you will look at your horrible book and realise that you’ve turned it into something actually quite beautiful. – Robin Stevens, author of the Murder Most Unladylike series

See all the advice at Buzzfeed HERE

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The Japanese Museum of Rocks That Look Like faces

Rock faces 1Rocks have faces? Rocks have souls?

This is FABULOUS. this is a cabinet of stories waiting to happen. It gives me a happy and slightly insane urge to go out and start turning rocks over and asking them to talk to me.

Speaker to Rocks. There are worse things to aspire to be…

The museum is called the Chinsekikan (which means hall of curious rocks) and it houses over 1700 rocks that resemble human faces. It’s in Chichibu, two hours northwest of Tokyo and may be the only one of its kind.
Rock face 2 photoThe story in Colossal suggests this looks like Elvis Presley. I think it looks rather like our lamentable president-elect.

Read the whole story at the Colossal website HERE

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26 Very Long Books Worth the Time They’ll Take to Read

My choice in this list of books selected by Boris Kachka in Vulture might be obvious if you know my background. I was born in Yugoslavia, a country that no longer exists. Clifton Fadiman of the New Yorker called it “one of the great books of our time“. I certainly agree.

I find the comments on the back cover of my own copy that was given to me shortly after the US and NATO’s war on my homeland to be very perceptive:

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon coverBlack Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia,  Rebecca West (1941, 1,181 pages)

Written on the brink of World War II, West’s classic examination of the history, people, and politics of Yugoslavia illuminates a region that is once again the center of international concern. A magnificent blend of travel journal, cultural commentary, and historical insight, it goes into the troubled history of the Balkans and the uneasy relationships among its ethnic groups. The landscape and people Yugoslavia are brilliantly observed as Rebecca West and untangles the tensions that rule the country’s history as well as its daily life.

See all the other books at the Vulture website HERE

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Quote of the Day

The best novels are those that are important without being like medicine; they have something to say, are expansive and intelligent but never forget to be entertaining and to have character and emotion at their centre.” ~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Riddle me this!

Literature’s most fiendish head-scratchers

For all of you out there with time on your hands and no codes to crack, The Guardian offers a selection of riddles from literature. Get pondering…

e.g. #6:
“Why is a raven like a writing-desk?’” – the Mad Hatter to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Solve the riddles

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Kerouac’s On The Road turned into Google driving directions

Jack-Kerouac-On-The-Road

 

Gregor Weichbrodt, a German college student, took all of the geographic stops mentioned in On the Road, plugged them into Google Maps, and ended up with a 45-page manual of driving directions, divided into chapters paralleling those of Kerouac’s original book. You can read the manual — On the Road for 17,527 Miles– as a free ebook.

Go On the Road

 

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“My List of Writing Mistakes”

Best way of learning: do, and fail. Next time you’ll do better. Howard Andrew Jones keeps a list of mistakes he made already so that he won’t repeat them. This strikes me as wise.

e.g.
When you’re stuck moving the plot
           Introduce character with info
           Send in the ninjas

Read the article

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THIS ‘n THAT

10 Insane Buildings
HelixVincent Callebaut Architectures
Coming in 2016, Taipei’s double-helix-shaped Agora Garden Tower will split the difference between man and Mother Nature. The twisty, 20-story luxury residential building will be green in every sense of the word, with balconies on each floor to support gardens, and state-of-the-art sustainable features including solar cells and rainwater recycling.

10 Insane Buildings

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The Color of…
Burnt brandyBurning brandy. The color, flame-of-burnt-brandy, was described in 1821 by one ladies’ magazine as a mixture of “lavender grey, pale yellow, and dark lilac.”

Other equally evocative names dating from the same period include dragon’s blood (a deep purplish-red), d’oreille d’ours (a rich brown, literally “bear’s ears”), elephant’s breath (steel grey) and flamme de Vesuve (“the flame of Vesuvius,” or the color of lava).”

19 Colors You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

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Poetry can help students learn in ways that prose can’t.

Why teaching poetry is so important

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10 of the oldest surviving books in the world
etruscan-gold-bookThe Etruscan Gold Book is estimated to be 2,673 years old.

The oldest books

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Quote of the Day
QUOTE Victor Hugo~~~~~
Alma Alexander
My books

If you found this blog post interesting, amusing or helpful, then please use the icons below to share it with other writers, readers or the guy next to you on the subway.

Which books are banned?

The Kids’ Right to Read Project investigated three times the average number of book banning incidents last month, Shelf Awareness reports.

A  number of notable works by minority writers were challenged in the fall, including Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits and Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima.

Banned booksWhether or not patterns like this are the result of coordination between would-be censors across the country is impossible to say,” said coordinator Acacia O’Connor. “But there are moments, when a half-dozen or so challenges regarding race or LGBT content hit within a couple weeks, where you just have to ask, ‘What is going on out there?’ “

The Kids’ Right to Read Project offers a poster of some of the most frequently heard myths about challenged and banned books.
 
Banned Books Myths

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The Greatest Gift

So, it’s nearly Christmas. What’s on your writer-friends’ lists:

There’s practical and useful stuff, sure – and then there’s the geekly gadgets that every writer with a background in a certain pool of tropes grins when (s)he sees, things that are utterly useless in any practical sense but tickle our sense of the awesome and the purely ridiculous – but …

Here’s a different and very doable wishlist.

This Christmas, if you are inclined to gift giving, give your favorite writer… A Reader.

Tell a friend about your favorite writer’s work and suggest they buy a book. Or two. Buy your favorite writer’s books as presents for your friends yourself. Write a nice review somewhere – on Amazon, on Goodreads, on your own blog, somewhere. SPREAD THE WORD.

If you like what you’ve read from me, give me another reader this Christmas. Go tell a friend. Tell that friend to tell their friends, if they agree that there was something in my books worth discovering. (And if you’ve already done this, bless you.)

I realize I am asking for something that is potentially enormous – I am asking for a gift that is intangible, that can’t be wrapped, that won’t be squealed over on Christmas morning as the ribbons are ripped from packages – but at the same time I am asking for a simple thing that it is yours to bestow. Spread the word. If you succeed in this, drop me a line and tell me about it – or get that friend to – and it’s a Christmas present that will keep on giving all year round.

To all the readers I’ve already got – thank you for coming along with me on this journey. You are ALL appreciated.

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What? You thought self publishing was a modern phenomenon?

On December 16, 1901, a 35-year-old writer and illustrator printed 250 copies of her first book, featuring a naughty rabbit. Beatrix Potter decided to take control of her own future after getting fed up of receiving rejection letters from publishers for a story she had made up to entertain a sick child.

Peter RabbitThe Tale of Peter Rabbit was printed with 41 black and white woodblock engravings and a colour frontispiece, Claire Armitstead writes in The Guardian, and proved so successful that, within a year, it had been picked up by one of the six publishers who had originally turned it down. By Christmas of 1902, Frederick Warne had sold 20,000 copies of the book, with Potter’s own watercolor illustrations.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

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10 of the Greatest Essays on Writing Ever Written

If there’s one topic that writers can be counted on to tackle at least once in their working lives, it’s writing itself, Emily Temple says at Flavorwire.

A good thing too, especially for all those aspiring writers out there looking for a little bit of guidance. For some winter inspiration and honing of your craft, here you’ll find ten great essays on writing, from the classic to the contemporary, from the specific to the all-encompassing. For example:

Barthelme“Not-Knowing,” Donald Barthelme, from Not Knowing: the Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme

In which Barthelme, a personal favorite and king of strange and wonderful stories, muses on not-knowing, style, our ability to “quarrel with the world, constructively,” messiness, Mallarmé, and a thief named Zeno passed out wearing a chastity belt.

“The not-knowing is crucial to art, is what permits art to be made. Without the scanning process engendered by not-knowing, without the possibility of having the mind move in unanticipated directions, there would be no invention.”

Essays on writing

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How to Write — A Year in Advice  

“This year, I talked to nearly 50 different writers for the By Heart series, a weekly column about beloved quotes and cherished lines,” Joe Fassler says at The Atlantic.

Their contributions were eclectic and intensely personal: Jim Crace, whose novel Harvest was a finalist for the Man Booker prize this year, shared a folk rhyme from his childhood, the investigative New York Times journalist Michael Moss (Salt, Sugar, Fat) close-read the Frito-Lay slogan, and This American Life host Ira Glass eulogized a longtime friend and collaborator. Though I began by asking each writer the same question—what line is most important to you?—their responses contained no formula.

HosseiniElena Seibert
Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and this year’s And the Mountains Echoed, reminded us that we can only approximate the book we want to write—the final product will never capture the excitement of initial inspiration.

Interviews with writers

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Quote of the Day

Anyone who still believes print is dead never worked in an indie bookstore the week before Christmas. Seriously.” ~ Facebook post from Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz.
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Alma Alexander

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