Library or bookstore?

DutchLiibrary1Facing declining visitors and uncertainty about what to do about it, library administrators in in the Netherlands did something extraordinary, Cat Johnson writes at Library2They tossed out traditional methods of library organization and now group books by areas of interest, combining fiction and nonfiction. They display books face-out to catch the eye of browsers; and they train staff members in marketing and customer service techniques.

Read the whole story HERE

I just got a 5-star rating for Random, first book in The Were Chronicles, from … a reader in NORWAY?

I’m delighted, of course, but not a little flabbergasted. How did my book find its way there…?

In any event, thank you, Norwegian Reader. I’m glad you like it. And, oh, if you’re seeing this at all… book 2, Wolf, will be out next month.

‘Hovel’ Hotels: A Hippie’s Alternative

HovelStay is sort of like a “rebel” alternative to AirBnB and the world of online marketplaces for local host accommodation, MessyNessy reports.

None of their offbeat listings are over $99 per night and there are some real surprise gems to be discovered on this quirky site, categorized by “Survivor Hovels”, “Good enough” and “Clean & comfortable”. HovelStay’s message to the world is that you can experience adventure anywhere on a shoestring budget. Call it travelling like a hippie.

Take, for example:
Bosnia Forest CabinForest Cabin in a remote Artist’s Community, Bosnia, $16 a night

The small dream of Borislav Jankovic of creating a small art gallery, painting studio in the middle of the forest. Today Zelenkovac is basically a small Eco Area providing its visitors with Bungalows for accommodation, freshly cooked food and a bar to suit everyone’s pleasure.

Read the whole story HERE

The best travel quotes of all time, from The Telegraph.oxfordTake Oxford, for example

“I was a modest, good-humoured boy. It is Oxford that has made me insufferable.” ~ Sir Max Beerbohm, 1899

“Oxford has always produced the finest second-class brains in the world.” ~ Leo Pavia, 1940

Read the whole story HERE

Strong womenReviewers and readers often remark on my strong female protagonists. Hell, I once wrote a novel with nine of them.

Jarry Lee of BuzzFeed offers us a look at 29 other books, from Jane Eyre to Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Read the whole story HERE


John Acuff explains: “Why I fell back in love with bookstores”

There was never a moment where we walked away from each other. But I did get distracted. If I’m honest, I did have eyes for another. Who?

The Internet….But, in 15 years of non-stop online connection, I’ve learned something surprising. The more time I spend online, the more I realize face-to-face interaction matters the most.

Read the whole story HERE

Quote of the DayQUOTE Pasternak~~~~~
Alma Alexander    My books    Email me

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RiverRivers have always been very important to humankind, I say in the intro to my anthology, River.

They’ve been called gods. They’ve been blessed and cursed and venerated and used and enjoyed and exploited and polluted since the beginning of recorded history. They’ve been sung about and dreamed about and followed on epic journeys of discovery.

Gypsy Ninja has picked 10 mighty rivers which made the world in what it is today, including MY river, the Danube, on whose banks I was born in a country which no longer exists.

DanubeThe Danube is the most international river basin in the world. It springs in Germany’s romantic Black Forest, travels a total distance of 2850 km (1770 mi.), passing through 10 countries and 4 capital cities. It was an important transport route for medieval Europeans. Throughout most of its history, the Roman Empire held the Danube as its northern border. Before the Romans, the Greeks were navigating the river’s lower reaches. With more recent events like the Main-Danube Canal being built in 1992, the Danube is connected to the Rhine and from there to the North Sea.

Read the whole story HERE

Buy River, the anthology, HERE

You’ve read how many?
How manyBuzzFeed

So little time, so much to read, Michelle Regna says in introducing this list at BuzzFeed.

It’s not a definitive list — it doesn’t even have one of mine, for example — but a neat quiz nevertheless. How did you do?

Read the whole story HERE

29 Surreal Places In America You Need To Visit Before You Die

If you live in the U.S., Arielle Calderon says at Buzzfeed, you don’t need a passport to see what mother nature has to offer.
TulipsRuthChoi /
Skagit Valley Tulip Fields, Washington

This is one place I know well. It is only a few miles from my home and I have scores of photos like this one.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the tulip fields between April 1–30 to see these gorgeous flowers in bloom. The festival is designed as a driving tour since there is no one designated “site”.

See all the remarkable places HERE

Elves and Dragons Doing a Fantastic Job of Protecting Iceland’s Environment
Elves Hill
Originally Icelanders used mythological creatures as a way to deter people from coming to their island, now they protect it, Sola Agustsson writes at AlterNet.


Read the whole story HERE

Nasa’s Curiosity rover finds water below surface of Mars

New measurements from the Gale crater contradict theories that the planet is too cold for liquid water to exist, Hannah Devlin reports at The Guardian.
water on mars
The Curiosity rover is currently ascending Mount Sharp, in the centre of the Gale crater.
Illustration: Stocktrek Images, Inc./Alamy

Prof Andrew Coates, head of planetary science at the Mullard Space, said: “The evidence so far is that any water would be in the form of permafrost. It’s the first time we’ve had evidence of liquid water there now.””

Read the whole story HERE

Quote of the day

A child who reads will be an an adult who thinks.

A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s
story in the slightest.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Alma Alexander      My books      Email me   

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Hug your editor

Megan Paolone at BuzzFeed selected 24 haiku in honor of the National Grammar Day. (It’s over. Sorry you missed it.)

(Nothing lonelier
than a parenthetical
opened but not closed
allison n. chopin @allisonchopin
#GrammarDay #haiku

Copy editors
Are the doctors of writing,
Curing bad grammar.
Nehaly Shah @nms077
#GrammarDay #haiku

See the others HERE

Yike. Yike, Yike, Effing YIKE.

Bowdlerization, Take 2

Claire Fallon tells us in the Huffington Post about an app that removes “obscenities” from books.

We’ve come a long way since the early 19th century publication of Thomas Bowdler’s Family Shakespeare, a famously sanitized edition meant to make Shakespeare’s classics appropriate for children and the gentler sex. Today, cleaning up obscene texts is as easy as downloading an app.

No comment.

Read the article HERE

The 11 Most Surprising Banned Books

Well, there is the dictionary, of course (it dares to define oral sex!), “Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, “Beloved” and “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and…

Brown Bear“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” Bill Martin Jr.
This beloved children’s book was banned in January 2010 by the Texas Board of Education because the author has the same name as an obscure Marxist theorist, and no one bothered to check if they were actually the same person.

And so it goes.

See them all HERE

9 Amazing Female Graphic Novelists, Illustrators And Cartoonists

It’s been a big couple of years for women in the comic book world, with Marvel Comics unveiling female versions of their previously male-dominated troop of heroes, Maddie Crum writes in The Huffington Post. “For further girl-centric graphic reading, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite female graphic artists, focusing on those have a clear, engaging narrative.”

For example:

Jillian TamakiJillian Tamaki makes illustrations for The New Yorker and The New York Times, but she also writes wonderful webcomics. Her SuperMutant Magic Academy, which is as whimsical as it sounds, will be collected into a book this spring.

She’s also the co-author of This One Summer, a graphic novel she created with her sister, who’s written about the necessity of more female protagonists with less-than-perfect bodies.



See the others HERE

The Making of a Novel

I spent some time on overdue website maintenance recently. In addition to discovering several bad links, I found a couple of things that I barely remembered putting up. Under the menu item, On Writing, for example, I have an essay on how my novel The Secrets of Jin-shei came to be. It is a fascinating tale.

The Secrets of Jin-shei is my signature novel. It has been published in 13 languages so far, all over the world. I still get fan letters about it several years after publication.

It all began one day when I wrote one-paragraph each sketches for ten little girls in a Chinese context. But this was going to be a fantasy and my country wasn’t going to be the real historical China.  It was going to be a story about the lives of these almost Chinese girls and how they grew into the women they became.

I had no idea how that was going to happen. but as I began doing research, my characters stirred. When I read about the dragon lady of Chinese history, the Dowager Empress, one of my girls stood up and said,

“That would be me.”

“Sit down,” I said. “Shut up. I’m working. What is your name anyway?“

I learned about my characters’ lives the same way the reader did, one page at a time. Take a journey with me:

Through the mind of a writer HERE

Fay Weldon disses readers of ebook

At The Guardian, Alison Flood reports that the novelist has advised writers to publish easier, event-driven versions of their books for impatient digital audiences.
Fay WeldonFay Weldon. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/Antonio Olmos

She suggested to the Bath Literature festival that “writers should ‘abandon literary dignity’ and write page-turning versions of their thoughtful masterpieces for the ebook audience. …The writer has to focus on writing better, cutting to the chase and doing more of the readers’ contemplative work for them.”

Are ebook readers a lesser breed?

LegoLaw !
scotus-womenFor 192 years, the constitutionality of U.S. law was decided by men alone. Then in 1981, Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Three women have since joined O’Connor in representing the female half of the U.S. population: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

Women of the Supreme Court in LEGO


Where do these literary titles come from?

You know the books, but do you know where the authors found their names? Find out with The Guardian’s fiendish questions about the books behind the books.

Take the quiz HERE

“Put Someone in Charge of His Liquor”

Foreign-Service Rules for Handling William Faulkner

“Love her as my wife? Love you as my friend? I might as well have gone to work for Ringling Brothers and been shot out of the cannon twice a day.”

Saul Bellow letter

Paramount To Turn Sci-fi Classic The Stars My Destination Into A Movie
Stars My DestinationParamount is in the process of acquiring the rights to Alfred Bester’s classic scifi novel The Stars My Destination. The story is centered on Gully Foyle, who faces off against massive megacorps. Marooned in space for months, his solitude is broken by a rescue crew deliberately passing him by. Foyle is completely consumed by rage and hatred for those who ignored him, and spends the rest of his days seeking revenge.

The whole story HERE

Quote of the Day  
Leave a review~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

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What’s your fetish?

Fetish, n. Something irrationally reverenced

Not all fetishes are sexual, Daniel Dalton writes at BuzzFeed. Sometimes you just really love something inanimate, intangible, or non-human…

LogophileDaniel Dalton / BuzzFeed / Via

Oh, I suffer from SO MANY of these…

But this next is NOT one of them!
StegophileDaniel Dalton / BuzzFeed / Via

See all the others HERE

Graffiti Artists make over a school

This is amazing, a project that fires the imagination of the kid in the prison-like white-walled school and transforms those bare walls into something that takes FLIGHT.

And I have no words to express my gratitude to the people involved. Every one of those kids will be the richer for this experience, even though a staggering percentage of them (from the statistics quoted in the video) are “below the poverty line”. Sometimes life is NOT just about bread alone. It’s about dreams, too.

At Huffington Post, Eleanor Goldberg reports on a low-income school that shares a zip code with an Art Basel mecca, but was neglected for years. When 73 graffiti artists found out about it, they decided to give its 30-foot white walls an unbelievable makeover.Painting schoolSee the video HERE

15 obsolete words we should still be using
crapulousCrapulous = overindulging (Photo: Everett Collection/Shutterstock)

Some words fall into disuse, Laura Moss writes at Mother Nature Network, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. Words like

“Apricity: noun. The warmth of the sun in winter”; “Callipygian: adjective. Having shapely buttocks”; “Cockalorum: noun. A boastful person…”

And “Slugabed: noun. Lazy person who stays in bed long after the usual time for rising”, a word my ludicrously early-rising husband sometimes calls me.

See all the words HERE

The Glass Ceiling: The Invisible Authors

Glass-CeilingAs a former professor of English literature,” Anthony Servante writes, “I can tell you the history of female authors who used male pseudonyms (but) …Why are women still using pseudonyms today, 150 years after Emily and Charlotte Brontë began the practice?”

Billie Sue Mosiman’s essay, Literature’s Glass Ceiling, accommodates Servante’s article, along with two female authors who use male pseudonyms to answer some questions about their practice of hiding their gender in the hopes of selling more books.

Read the article HERE

Feminist writers are so besieged by online abuse that some have begun to retire
FeministsWashington Post illustration)

Writing in The Washington Post, Michelle Goldberg looks at the harassment women writers face online.

Jessica Valenti is one of the most successful and visible feminists of her generation. As a columnist for the Guardian, her face regularly appears on the site’s front page…And she tells me that, because of the nonstop harassment that feminist writers face online, if she could start over, she might prefer to be completely anonymous.

“I don’t know that I would do it under my real name,” she says she tells young women who are interested in writing about feminism. It’s “not just the physical safety concerns but the emotional ramifications” of constant, round-the-clock abuse.

Read the article HERE

Amish snowbirdLeaving buggies behind, Amish snowbirds flock to Florida for winter

Relaxed town of Pinecraft in Sarasota suburbs hosts thousands from up North seeking sun, sand and more modern ambiance

Read the story HERE

Jeff Wysaski has been adding some new sections to his local bookstore

See the rest HERE  

The Woman Who Feels Everything

“Amanda” physically feels everything experienced by those she around her. If you eat in front of Amanda, she feels food being shoved in her mouth. When you stub your toe, she feels the same stabbing pain. This phenomenon is a type of cross-wiring in the brain.

More about this extraordinary condition HERE

Quote of the Day

Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” ~ Rita Mae Brown

Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

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Encounter with Coyote

In Dawn of Magic, the last book in my Worldweaver series, Coyote comes into full flower. (I’m working the final proofs now.)

When I set out to write the Worldweavers books, I wanted to write a story which was an American YA fantasy, to ground the stories that I would write firmly in the New World. I began by exploring themes in the Native American mythos.

Avatars of the gods and spirits from that mythological sphere became characters in my stories. Grandmother Spider, who plays an important role in the creation of the world in the rich mythology of the American South West, became a mentor for my young protagonist

And since every light has to have a shadow, the Trickster God, Coyote, ambled onto the stage with a hat-tilt and a wicked grin aimed in my direction.

Initially, he was something of a simple stereotype, a literary equivalent of a simple pencil sketch. He was there to fill the hole in the narrative which required a touch of malice, a touch of trickery, a touch of the dark side. But then, the Trickster in my novels slowly Tricked me into becoming…well, a real boy. He developed tics and mannerisms and habits. He always wore cowboy boots which were always dusty, he was given to flippancy.

CoyoteFor reasons initially known only to himself, he appeared to be working in cahoots with the enemy. And yet Grandmother Spider tells my protagonist, “Coyote will always be on your side.” And it is the joy and richness of this character that both of those are true, and true at once, and they don’t necessarily cancel one another out. Coyote is a Schrodinger’s cat of a character, both good and evil inside that box and you don’t know which until you actually open it up and look. (And often even then you are not sure. He is Coyote, after all.)

My version of Coyote became something larger and deeper, something that forced me to color outside the lines and to ask harder questions and to glimpse all sorts of shadows into which my insights threw only the dimmest of lights, just enough light to know that there was more shadow beyond its reach than I would ever be able to understand or really do justice to within the scope of my story.

In Dawn of Magic, Coyote CAME ALIVE. The book is Thea Winthrop’s apotheosis, where she faces her greatest fears and has to stand firm in the face of them; this is the story of the redemption of Nikola Tesla, and his transformation into something that even I had not seen truly coming.

And above all this is the story of Coyote, the Trickster, the creature who cares deeply about everything even while he pretends not to give a fig for anything at all, who trusts instinct and not reason and gives his whole existence up to the power of that truth, whose role in creation is to test the mettle of men and to bring out the best and the brightest in them when times to try their souls are thrust upon them but who does this work with equal measure of playful malice and unplumbed depths of empathy and love.

This is the Coyote I came to know, and my own life is the richer for it.

Are you a bibliophile?
How many 2OK. Sure you love books, but are you a REAL bibliophile? How Well-Rounded Is Your Personal Book Collection? Buzzfeed wants to know.

Theyr’e talking real printed and bound paper pages here. How many of the 81 (yes, 81) following types of books do you own?

I got 70 out of 81. I fell down when it came to manga… 🙂
How manyTest your bibliophile status HERE

7 Reasons You Should Never Date Someone Who Doesn’t Read Books
Non-readerAs a person who was basically raised by books, Emma Lord writes, she cannot help but balk at dating non-readers.

I understand the sentiment. When I first started talking to a man online, I sent him one of my favorite books. He claims that I made it clear that if he didn’t like it, there would be no hope of a beautiful friendship. (He passed the test; he loved the book and he’s now my husband.)

Emma Lord, who is still single, says in Bustle, “I’m not sticking my nose up in the air at dating contenders because they haven’t read Proust or written a 17-page paper on some other dead guy…there is a book genre out there for everyone, and people who aren’t reading books are deliberately ignoring them and their brains are suffering for it.”

Read her reasons HERE

15 YA Writers on Their Favorite Book for Adults

I wasn’t one of the YA authors asked, but I would have offered several books, including the one I sent as a test to my future husband, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by the British writer Louis de Bernières. I’ll tell you about some of my other favorites another time.

Writing for Flavorwire, Elisabeth Donnelly  asked some of our favorite contemporary young adult authors about their favorite books for grown-ups. The results, which feature responses that are both sly and serious, range from coming-of-age stories to science fiction adventures.

For example,

Favorite adultAndrew Smith: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer

One of my favorite adult literary novels of all time is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. With rich prose and striking characters, the novel tells an inventive and enchanting story about the search for all things lost. It’s one of the very few novels I will read again and again.

Andrew Smith‘s books include Grasshopper Jungle and The Alex Crow, due in March.



Read the rest HERE

Telephones in literature – quiz

It’s 100 years since Alexander Graham Bell inaugurated the US transcontinental telephone service, Greg Clowes writes at The Guardian. And to celebrate the occasion, he examined some memorable calls in literature. Can you get the right numbers for these questions?
TelephoneThe telephone – ‘a supernatural instrument’ according to one French writer. But who?

Take the quiz HERE


Chilling First Amendment Implications of a journalist’s five-year prison sentence

Read the article HERE

Scarves growing on trees. To be harvested by those most in need of them. There are moments that people and their wacky and wonderful ideas really make me happy.
scarvesHundreds of hats and scarves have been spotted in cities that are experiencing freezing temps this winter. The message attached to one scarf says: “I am not lost! If you are stuck out in the cold please take this to keep warm!”

Quote of the Day
QUOTE John Gardner~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me 

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