Are you a god?

If you are a writer, yes.

In a very real sense what you do when you create a fictional world is neither more nor less than being a god of a universe of your own creation.

We writers, we artists, we take the building blocks of the familiar and go on to make something different from them, something rich and strange. There is a train station where all the trains to these places stop, and we all stand there on the platform selling tickets, tickets to OUR worlds, and we smile when someone picks one up and boards a particular train and sits there leaning forward with shining eyes full of anticipation.

The worlds we create can be filled with intricate and painstaking detail – or they can be just hinted at, with the larger picture there for you, the reader, to fill in when you lift your eyes from the words on the page and the ideas blossom in the back of your mind.

Some of the best world-creating moments are almost incidental – like in a fairly silly episode of Doctor Who named “Gridlock” where the premise rests on this ludicrous idea of a traffic jam that has literally lasted for lifetimes… and yet this silliness is lifted into the transcendent.

Right at the end of the episode, the Doctor speaks with passion and pain and longing and regret and nostalgia and the purest love, of his lost home, Gallifrey. The world is built, sketched in a a few powerful words, a couple of incandescent sentences.

I’ve never been to Gallifrey. I can’t have ever been there. It does not exist any longer – the Doctor said it’s been destroyed. But, of course, it never REALLY existed at all, outside the story, outside the Doctor’s own mind and heart and memory.

Gallifrey illustrationAnd yet some part of me thrills to the “burnt orange sky”, and the “mountains that shine when the second sun rises.”


(With a little search you can find a video clip of this brief scene online and it’s worth the effort.)

I do this thing, worldbuilding. I take pride in creating worlds that live and breathe.

And sometimes I get rewarded.

“I could almost smell the cold and the freshness of the air and the tremble of the earth,” someone told me the other day, in reference my novel ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei‘.

I took a reader into a world that rose, real, around her as she rolled into the heart of it. One journey into a sense of wonder, validated. There are moments of which entire days are made. This gave me one of those moments.

Professor Tolkien wrote about all this, powerfully:

Although now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not de-throned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned:
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted Light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons- ’twas our right
(used or misused). That right has not decayed:
we make still by the law in which we’re made.

Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker. — J.R.R. Tolkien, Tolkien on Fairy-stories

In a LiveJournal essay a few years ago I challenged my readers to:

“Take me to a place you’ve never been and make me homesick for it. Make me yearn for it and believe in it and love it and miss it as though it once belonged to me and I still carry it in my heart.”

It’s easy – well, easier, anyway – to write about a place one has personally known and loved. I have done it talking about the Danube and the way I feel about that river; I’ve done it about the places of my childhood.

But can you be homesick for a place you have never been, can never go? Is it possible for an Earthbound human to be homesick for a planet called Gallifrey, or a wood known as Lothlorien? Is it possible to be homesick for some patch of this our own world which one has never seen or visited?

For instance…

Oh, the moment in which the sun is not yet quite risen, not yet quite ready to pour itself around the shadowed crags in their veils of mist, but the day has started – and the light is pearly and nacred, shifting and shining, and the mists flow and coil around their great standing rocks and islands as though they are saying farewell to a lover. And the sky is lost in a brightening glow and the silhouettes of stones sharpen into individual sharp edges, and trees, and in between all there is the river, and the water is starting to change from darkness to a dull pewter glow which echoes the pre-dawn light to the glitter of sun on water as the first fingers of sunlight touch the ancient river and wake it into day once more, another day.

Already there are boats moving, and men silhouetted against the sky, and the faint shimmery lines of nets being cast into the water where the fish are waking, too, and waiting to offer themselves in the daily act of love and sacrifice that feeds the people of these crags, of this river. And the shadows are black, and the crags are charcoal gray and deep deep green in the faint light, and the water is turning golden and the sky is turning a faint blue, like the delicate shell of a bird’s egg, and soon the sun will come and the water will blaze with glory.

I am talking about a real place, the Li river, Guilin, China. But I’ve never been there. I’ve never seen this, outside of pictures.

River in China photo

I found this photo AFTER I wrote that paragraph above. I went looking for images that matched the view from my mind’s eye. I wasn’t describing the pictures; the pictures were found later to match and illustrate what I had already described…

And yet it’s there in my mind’s eye. And I can make myself homesick for it by letting the image live in my mind.

Perhaps it is possible to take a soul to Gallifrey. And make that soul love a place never seen, impossible to reach, a place that may never have existed outside the mind and heart of a character in a story…


My first book audiobook – Paper and ebook and voice, oh my.

I am a very visual writer. I sometimes basically close my eyes and just transcribe the movie that’s unfolding before me on the backs of my eyelids. I SEE things.

Some writers dictate their books into a recorder before transcribing them onto the page, and some use software such as Dragon to dictate their books directly onto the screen. But that is not the way I think, not the way I write. I need to see the words dance on the page. Not hear them.

For the same reason, I haven’t really taken to audio books the way others, my husband for example, have. I don’t take in stories JUST by listening to them.

But the times they are a-changing, audiobooks are becoming more popular and I have now taken a step into the future with my first book in audio format, ‘Embers of Heaven‘.
Embers of Heaven coverI listened to the sample on the Amazon page for the audio book and it’s eerie to hear my own words spoken at me. It’s well done, at least in the sample I heard. (I have to admit that I would probably have chosen a female narrator voice since my main protagonist is a woman and the final section of the book is pretty much a first-person journal-like narrative from her POV.)

My first audiobook. Huh. I feel all grown up now.

You can sample or buy it at Amazon HERE

Quote of the DayBenjamin Franklin posterIn his own way, he was talking about building a world.


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And now, the REAL book!

Welcome Were WorldLook, I fully understand that the world is a-changing. And in order to deal with that change, I am fully committed to the fact that my books, my stories, are out there in electronic form as ebooks read on tablets and e-readers and smartphones – on a bloodless, scentless, weigtless screen.

I just finished reading a book I got for Christmas – a big, fat hardcover, more than 600 pages in length. It’s awkward to read, it’s hard to hold and to maneuver, it’s difficult to position and then turn the pages, when you’re right at the beginning or close to the end and one end of the book is disproportionately heavy and unwieldy you wrists feel as though they’re about to shatter into a bowlful of small bones that you could use as gaming dice.

But I savored every moment of holding that book, that substantial book, that glorious story between two covers, lines of print marching up and down the pages, knowing that I can linger over a particularly powerful phrase or something that made me smile or tear up, or turn back to a favorite passage and caress it as I read it again and it goes silkily into my spirit through my eyes and my fingers and my nose alike as I inhale the words and the new-book smell.

Shoot me, I’m a book Luddite. To me, holding that book in my hands is part of the act of reading..

This is why I am so very very happy to tell you that – after being available in electronic format only for some time – my latest, ‘Random’, is today finally available as a proper book.

It’s paperback to be sure and not the weighty hefty hardcover but still – words, on paper, held in your hands while your fingers turn the pages. A book which, if you loved it, you can put back on your shelf and take solace in knowing it’s there – a book you can go back to, knowing exactly where in its pages a passage you particularly enjoyed resides, and which will eventually fall open at those favorite passages of its own accord, as though it is reading your mind.

Welcome to the world, dear ‘Random’.

(You may buy a copy here)


21 Women Writers From Before 1500 That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Al-KhansaAl-Khansa (575 – 645) was an Arabic poet and contemporary of Muhammad, whom she met in 629 and converted to Islam, Entropy Magazine reports. She gained respect as a female poet by writing elegies for the dead and performing them for the tribe in public competitions.

An anecdote says that contemporaneous Arabic poet Al-Nabigha told Al-Khansa, “If Abu Basir had not already recited to me, I would have said that you are the greatest poet of the Arabs. Go, for you are the greatest poet among those with breasts.”

Al-Khansa replied, “I’m the greatest poet among those with testicles, too.”

Read the article HERE

Forgotten fairytales slay the Cinderella stereotype

Stories lost in Bavarian archive for 150 years and newly translated into English offer surprisingly modern characters, Philip Oltermann writes in The Guardian.

Once upon a time … the fairytales you thought you knew had endings you wouldn’t recognise. A new collection of German folk stories has Hansel and Gretel getting married after an erotic encounter with a dwarf, an enchanted frog being kissed not by a damsel in distress but by a young man, and Cinderella using her golden slippers to recover her lover from beyond the moon.
eichenseer in fairytale trailErika Eichenseer, a retired teacher who has dedicated herself to exploring Franz Xaver von Schonwerth’s work since the 1990s, on fairytale trail in woodland outside Regensburg, in Bavaria Photograph: Philip Oltermann for the Guardian

Read the article HERE

Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual ‘Christmas Book Flood'”

In Iceland, the best Christmas gift is a book — and it has been that way for decades, Jordan G. Teicher writes at NPR. Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world, with five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders. A majority of books are sold from late September to early November. It’s a national tradition, and it has a name: Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood.”

The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday,” says Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association. “Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading. In many ways, it’s the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland.”

Read the article HERE

Quote of the Day
Good adviice~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me 

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Worship of Writers

business-of-ferretsBusiness of Ferrets – Image credit: Michael Lyons

50 Collective Nouns to Bolster Your Vocabulary

Collective nouns may seem like quirky ways to describe groups, Lucas Reilly writes at Mental Floss, but 500 years ago, they were your ticket to the in-crowd. As silly as some sound today, the phrases were formal and proper descriptions designed to help gentlemen-in-training avoid the embarrassment of “some blunder at the table.”

Some have achieved widespread currency and acceptance, like a “flight of stairs,” “a board of trustees,” and a “school of fish.” Others, like a “murder of crows,” barely hang on.

Most are little known, but some should be more popular. I mean, how could “Worship of Writers” go out of style?

50 collective nouns HERE

Is longer better?

The Off the Shelf staff offers 7 Great Big Novels

Have you ever spent eight months reading a single book? How about a year? While such a commitment may seem daunting, there is nothing comparable to getting lost in a long, sprawling novel.

For example:
Miss-MacIntoshMiss MacIntosh, My Darling, by Marguerite YoungOne of the most ambitious and remarkable literary achievements of the twentieth century, it might be called the Arabian Nights of American life. In prose that is poetic, incantatory, and extraordinarily rich, Marguerite Young takes us on a search for reality in a world of illusion and nightmare, touching on subjects as varied as drug addiction, women’s suffrage, murder, suicide, pregnancy (both real and imagined), schizophrenia, love, gambling, and perfectionism.


See more at:

12 Books That End Mid-Sentence

Books have long been messing with the heads of readers by daring to not use a period as the last typeset keystroke on the very last page, Gabe Habash tells us at Publisher’s Weekly, and offers 12 examples. He asks help in adding to the list, and notes that the lack of books by female authors is because he couldn’t find any, not one, in hours and hours of searching.
A Sentimental JourneyA Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy by Laurence Sterne (1768)

The Ending:

–But the Fille de Chambre hearing there were words between us, and fearing that hostilities would ensue in course, had crept silently out of her closet, and it being totally dark, had stolen so close to our beds, that she had got herself into the narrow passage which separated them, and had advanced so far up as to be in a line betwixt her mistress and me–

So that when I stretch’d out my hand, I caught hold of the Fille de Chambre’s–


At the end of his rambling journey, Yorick finally ends up at a roadside inn. Because there is only one bedroom, he shares it with a lady and her chambermaid, under the condition that he not speak. Of course, he breaks this rule and gets the chambermaid heading toward him. It’s possible, grammatically, to read that Yorick stretches out his hand and catches hold of the chambermaid’s hand. But, given that this is Sterne, the dirtier option (and the fun placement of the word “end” in the sentence) is a lot more enjoyable.

See the rest HERE

Paradise Lost: The Hippie Refugee Camp

Let me tell you about a place called Taylor Camp, a tropical ocean-front utopia without rules, politics or bills to pay“, MessyNessy writes.
Taylor camp Anti-establishment all the way, clothing was optional and decisions were made according to the “vibes”. It was the ultimate hippie fantasy. Taylor Camp began in the Spring of 1969, with thirteen hippies seeking refuge from the ongoing campus riots in America and police brutality. Having fled their homes, they headed for Kauai in Hawaii, then a very remote and unspoilt land with just a single traffic light on the island.

Read the rest HERE

If fiction is the art of invention, memoir is the art of selection and arrangement

Will Boast’s standout memoir, Epilogue, about the death of his mother, father, and brother, is both a wrenching exploration of grief and a moving story of remembrance.

It took me nearly three years of trying to cram my subject matter into a novel manuscript, Boast writes, before I understood that the story I wanted to tell would fit better into nonfiction. It took me another five years to finish the manuscript that became Epilogue. As provisional and context-specific as they may be, here are a few lessons I learned along the way:

Writing a Memoir tips HERE


Memory thrives on storytelling.

How do memory champions accomplish their miraculous feats? They get really good at telling memorable stories to themselves while weaving in what they’re trying to remember. Because the human brain is built for storytelling. The more things you can link together into a narrative, the more readily you’ll be able to recall them later on.

I’m not surprised.

More about memory HERE

DesolenatorCreators of the Desolenator are crowdsourcing development money for a device turns sea or heavily polluted water into clean water.

You can help HERE

Wedding name combos so bad they might want to call the whole thing off

Would you believe MacDonald-Berger? Hardy-Harr? And much much worse!

See the others HERE

A government ban on which prohibited prisoners in England and Wales from having family and friends send them books, has been ruled unlawful.

Quote of the Day
QUOTE Joan Didion~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

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Ever heard me?

I mean heard my real voice, not the one you hear in your head when you read one of my books? No? Well here’s your chance.The Skiffy and Fanty podcast is a, deservedly and perennially, award-nominated podcast show that I’ve been listening to for ages.
podcastI’ve heard their interviews with writers I’ve long known and loved, and sometimes writers I didn’t know but whose personalities and insights as they shone through these online chats made me sit up and become interested in what ELSE they had to say, in their books. And then, one day, like in ALL the best stories, it was my turn in the Skiffy and Fanty spotlight:
We talk about her werecritter culture, the immigrant experience, language, and much more!
I enjoyed this chat immensely; I hope you do too.  
Listen to it here
In the dark of winterThe days seem impossibly short and the nights never ending, Emily Temple writes at Flavorwire, and suggests that it’s a great time for reading dark books. After all, there’s nothing better to cut through the literal gloom than to curl up with some intellectual doom. All you need is a tiny light to see your book by.  She offers 50 of them, starting with the REAL Grimm fairy tales we’ve been talking about recently.Then there is:
Wittgenstein’s Mistress

Wittgenstein’s Mistress, David Markson
A series of missives from the typewriter of the last woman on earth as she mulls over art, literature, life, and her own tragedies.
Or pick one of the other 49
But to lighten the mood, The Stylist offers…
20 opening lines from our favorite Christmas books
My favorite is, of course…
The Grinch Who Stole ChristmasEvery who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot.” 
See the rest
50 Writers You Need to See Read Live:  It’s a pleasant surprise when a writer is dynamite in person, Elisabeth Donnelly  writes at Flavorwire, “whether they’re reading their work or answering questions with confidence and something like charisma. The best live appearances by writers are able to cast a spell over the audience — through a variety of elements — and here are 50 writers make that achievement look easy.”e.g.
Gary ShteyngartGary Shteyngart
He’s very, very funny and quick-witted and he’s written scarily accurate speculative fiction about our future world. Your ribs will hurt from laughing after seeing him live.

See all 50

A holiday reminder

Books make Great Gifts


Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and a practice of an art,” Ursula K. Le Guin said at the 2014 National Book Awards.

And she had some thoughts about Amazon, the “profiteer” trying to “punish a publisher for disobedience.

“…I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds. But, the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.

An Upstate New York Home Gets the World’s Most Colorful Makeover
Rainbow housePhoto: Kat O’Sullivan

See ALL the photos here

Quote of the Day

QUOTE Astrid Lindgren~~~~~
Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

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Global warming = more girls

BabiesGlaciers are melting, oceans are rising, and the male population is dwindling as temperatures continue to increase—at least in Japan, a new study shows.

Japanese researchers found that in the hottest recorded summer, 2010, there was a dramatic increase in female births, whereas the coldest winter, 2011, produced more baby boys, Soli Salgado reports in Utne.

Read the article

50 Best Films About Writers, Ranked

In Hollywood films, writers are the low man on the totem pole, the person banned from the set, the guy who wrote the Great American novel drinking himself to death in Los Angeles, rewriting dumb scripts.

There are a lot of bad movies about writers out there, Elisabeth Donnelly tells us, so Flavorwire came up with “the definitive list of the 50 Best Films About Writers of all time.”

One of my favorites, Finding Forrester, made the list, albeit as number 49 out of 50 with some silly disparaging remarks and a dumb suggestion that a scene I scarcely remember has become a meme. I’d pick any of a dozen other scenes myself.

And their gushing love of Woody Allen movies? Well … never mind…

What do you think of their choices?
Finding ForresterFinding Forrester...This film is pure cheese, one of the infrequent films to feature a black protagonist as a writer, and its most memorable moment is a writing scene — a writing scene! — that’s become a meme, with Sean Connery cheering the young writer on as he types on a typewriter in his inimitable burr, “Punch the keys for God’s sake! Yes, yeeeessss! You’re the man now, dog!”

Read the article

The secret emotional lives of 5 punctuation marks

From the angry period to the dramatic asterisk…
doing-okay-budDoing okay, bud? (iStock)

Punctuation is the homely, workaday cousin to the glamorous word, Arika Okrent writes at The Week. It works quietly in the background, sweeping up and trying to keep the information flow tidy, while words prance around spilling thought, meaning, and feeling all over the place. Punctuation marks accept their utilitarian roles, but they too carry feelings.

The Week takes a look at the secret emotional lives of five punctuation marks, especially in social media.

Read the article


‘YOU’ Poem Goes Viral

See the video

The Force wasn’t with them

Every On-Screen Death In The Original ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy, In Under 3 Minutes

See the video

Telepathy is here, well sort of

Read the article

San Antonio Airport offers Digital Library Kiosks which allow patrons to checkout ebooks. In addition, the kiosks serve as rapid recharging stations for mobile devices.

Quote of the Day
Joss Whedon~~~~~
Alma Alexander
My books

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Best SF comedies?

The best SF comedies

At io9, Alasdair Wilkins and Charlie Jane Anders picked “The 13 Greatest Science Fiction Comedies Of All Time.”

They left out one of my faves, Paul, which is unforgivable.

PaulAnd they named a few … er, peculiar ones, but any list that includes Galaxy Quest meets with my approval.
Galaxy QuestGalaxy Quest is a rare trifecta: it’s a great science fiction comedy, it’s a brilliant comedy about science fiction, and it actually works as a pretty decent science fiction film in its own right. The film never loses sight of its parody of Star Trek’s most cliched tropes or its affectionate skewering of the various neuroses of the has-been actors, and it’s a tribute to Galaxy Quest’s comic dexterity that it perfectly balances both threads.

Read the Article

The mystery of Creativity

Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist Leonard Cohen is among the most exhilarating creative spirits of the past century, Maria Popova writes at Brain Pickings. She draws on a 1992 Paul Zollo interview which begins with Cohen considering the purpose of music in human life:

There are always meaningful songs for somebody. People are doing their courting, people are finding their wives, people are making babies, people are washing their dishes, people are getting through the day, with songs that we may find insignificant. But their significance is affirmed by others. There’s always someone affirming the significance of a song by taking a woman into his arms or by getting through the night. That’s what dignifies the song. Songs don’t dignify human activity. Human activity dignifies the song.
Leonard CohenCohen’s most moving insights on songwriting transcend the specificity of the craft and extend to the universals of life.

“f I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often. It’s a mysterious condition. It’s much like the life of a Catholic nun. You’re married to a mystery.

Before I can discard the verse, I have to write it… I can’t discard a verse before it is written because it is the writing of the verse that produces whatever delights or interests or facets that are going to catch the light. The cutting of the gem has to be finished before you can see whether it shines.

Read the Article

If Strangers Talked to Everybody like They Talk to Writers

Strangers seem very willing to offer advice — ‘self-publishing is where the money is!’ — to writers, Lincoln Michel notes at Electric Lit. What it would be like if people talked about other professions in this way.?
Professions“Ah, a middle school teacher? Have I met any of the students you’ve ever taught?”

“An accountant? Wow, I haven’t even looked at a number since high school.”

“News anchor? Okay here’s a news story I’ve been thinking about for years: the vice president slips into a vat of grape jelly. People would love that story, right? It’s yours! I’ll never have time to get away from work and break the story to a national audience myself.”

“Software programmer? Like, for actual computers sold in stores or just as a hobby?”

Read the Article

13 Dysfunctional Literary Couples Who Should Have Broken Up

Literature is littered with plenty of couples who were meant to be, Tori Telfer muses in a light-hearted piece at Bustle.

…sometimes it seems like everyone in books is experiencing adorable meet-cutes … But for every pair of literary lovers who finish each other’s sentences, there’s a duo that does nothing but drag each other into the darkness… Can you imagine how differently things would have turned out if these losers had just broken up with each other like 50 pages earlier?

For example:
Raymond CarverALL  of Raymond Carver’s married couples

Recipe for a Raymond Carver marriage: a lot of drinking, a lot of smoking, and a healthy dash of constantly thinking about how you’d like to leave your spouse. Mix well with weakness of character. Never change a thing.

Read the Article

45 random acts of kindness

Okay, sometimes you just need to be reminded, in the face of everything dark in the world today, that there are a few lights flickering out there somewhere. In spite of it all. Maybe even because of it. Do a kind deed for someone to day – or say a kind word – just because you can. Be a human being.

Check out these random acts of kindness celebrated at Passit Down.
BagelsAfter work, this man takes uneaten bagels and hands them out to the needy on the street.
Brian O’DriscolRugby player Brian O’Driscoll visited his biggest fan in the hospital.

See the pictures

Quote of the Day

Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one
else can see.“~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Alma Alexander
Check out my books
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Comments welcome. What do you think?

Spamology et al

DEARLY BELOVED, SAVE HUMANITY!” says the subject line on one the messages in my spam box.

I am tempted to send an autoreply.

“You have reached the Messiah Hotline. We value your call. Due to the heavier than usual call volume, you may have to wait a little longer than usual for a response. Your expected wait time is approximately 2000 years. Please stay on the line and someone will be with you momentarily.”

Sea of Voices, or, A Question of Character

“How many people are in this room?” I asked the audience at a recent Cascade Writers Conference. They began turning around to count heads.

“No,” I interrupted, “not how many warm bodies. How many people?”

I paused as they puzzled over this, then went on.

“Let me introduce you to the ones that are currently up here at the front of the room with me.”

And then I spoke, in character, as character, as four of the characters from my own stories.

There was Coyote, for example, from my Worldweavers books:

CybermageShe called me Corey, in the books. She had to call me something. But you might know me better as Coyote…

I am a spirit; I am a god; I am an avatar. I am chaos. I am a rock in a stream; I do not block the water flow but I act as a dam and I make the water find a way around me if it wants to move forward in its bed. I am a lesson to be learned….

We all carry it within us, all the writers, we all swim in this sea of voices which whisper nto our ears as we work, as we eat, as we sleep, as we dream. We contain multitudes, That person sitting in the back of the bus having a passionate conversation with thin air? He’s probably a writer arguing with a recalcitrant character who will not do what is needful because they know better (the worst thing is that they usually DO…)

I talk about this in detail at Storytellers Unplugged.

Read the Article

Okay, then. Okay.

I was procrastinating like crazy, trawling the Net, when I found something on the blog, Writing Advice: by Chuck Palahniuk.

“For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every ‘thought’ verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.” (If you want to read his whole column, you can find it here.)

UNPACK, he says. And then he gives challenge sentences. Here’s my answers to the challenge (his sentence first, my (long -winded) responses following straight after):

“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”

“Ripples spread out in circles silver-edged by moonlight, spilling on the surface of the dark water, as though something had been thrown into the river, or something had jumped out – for terror, for joy, perhaps for both. It might have been Marty’s own heart, beating too fast against his ribs as he struggled to catch his breath.”

“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”

“It all came flooding back as soon as the wine spilled into her mouth, and she could all but taste the wintry sunshine outside the half-empty cafe where she had last sipped of this particular vintage, watching the door close slowly just as Joe had walked out, leaving her alone with the half-consumed bottle of wine and the dregs in his own glass, unfinished, still stitting there on the table across from her, mocking her dreams.”

“Larry knew he was a dead man…”

“There was a metallic taste in Larry’s mouth as he crouched behind the packing cases. He could be certain of at least three of them, out there in the warehouse, too far spread out for him to do anything about; for all he knew there were a dozen more. But it didn’t matter, either way. They were between him and the exit, and there were only two bullets left in the gun. ‘Well,’ he muttered under his breath, out loud just so that he could hear his own voice one more time,  closing his eyes briefly and holding the cold metal of the gun’s barrel flat against his forehead in a gesture that was almost a salute, ‘I guess the only thing left is to make it count. I won’t go without taking at least two of those bastards with me.”

Of course, “unpacking” means MORE WORDS. But eh. I can live with that.

A hilarious video for all lovers of language
LanguageMatthew Rogers used the words of Stephen Fry in creating this kinetic typography animation. It’s wonderful. Watch it.

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35 of the Internet’s Most Influential Writers

Some are young authors, others are firmly established, Jason Diamond writes at Flavorwire. Some of them are publishing industry veterans or new media superstars who want to use their clout to talk up writers they love, while others command small armies via their Tumblrs. Some start hashtag trends, while others have scored book deals with their clever tweets.

Whatever it is they do on the Internet, these 35 people do it better than anybody else in the book world, and that’s why they help steer literary conversations and tastes.
Melissa BroderMelissa Broder: We’ve already explored this poet’s uncanny ability to tweet magic, but it bears repeating. If you haven’t followed her yet, what are you waiting for?

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