Saturday, December 29, 2012

a dreamer's wisdom - maya angelou

Pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so
well that people can't take their eyes off you.

- Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

By Ambrogio Alciati

Friday, December 28, 2012

from the screen - total recall

MATTHIAS: What is it you want?

HAUSER: I want to help you.

MATTHIAS: That isn't the only reason you are here.

HAUSER: I want to remember.


HAUSER: So i can be myself, be who i was.

MATTHIAS: It is each man's quest to find who he truly is,
but the answer to that lies in the present, not in the past. 

HAUSER: But the past tells us who we've become.

MATTHIAS: The past is a construct of the mind.  It blinds us,
it fools us into believing it.  But the heart wants to live in the
present.  Look there - you'll find your answer.

- Screenplay by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback

Via Sony

Thursday, December 27, 2012

the well written - carol rifka brunt

The bed was warm and ordinary and perfect, and it had been
such a long, long day. Probably the longest day of my life. I felt
like I had proof that not all days are the same length, not all
time has the same weight. Proof that there are worlds and
worlds and worlds on top of worlds, if you want them to be there.

- Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I'm Home

By Mafalda Silva

on writing - ernest hemingway

I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop
when there was still something there in the deep part of the well,
and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

The first draft of everything is shit.

I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try
to put the shit in the wastebasket.

In order to write about life first you must live it.

A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it.

By JM Hillman

Sunday, December 23, 2012

illustration - the well written - a dose of holday

Below are offerings from deviant artists spanning many genres -
fantasy, science fiction, high fantasy, adventurer, and even a
little horror.  Enjoy and happy holidays!

Something woke him up – a strange noise in the living room.
For a moment he lay in bed wondering if Santa Claus might
have come, but then he remembered it was still three days until
Christmas.  Still, he could definitely hear something moving, a
kind of quiet fluttery sound.   His brothers were both sprawled in
boneless, little-boy sleep across the mattress they shared, so he
climbed carefully over them and made his way out to the living
room.  At first he saw nothing more unusual than the small
Christmas tree on top of the coffee table, but as he stared, his
eyes trying to get used to the dark, he saw the tree was…moving?
Yes, moving, the top of the pine wagging like a dog’s tail.
- Tad Williams, The Sugarplum Flavor

Myth became life. No one really believed in the Santaman until
he came with his tattered red robe and his dripping red sword. No
one really believed in his undying love until he burst into our
direst need to carve us a new home from the bones of the world.

We looked up at the whistle of his wolf-stallion. “Why do you
weep and whimper?” the Santaman asked from the back of his
mount.  “We whimper for the end of our world,” one of us said.
- Ken Scholes, If Dragon's Mass Eve be Cold and Clear

By Guilherme Maueler

By Andrew Mar

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

photo stories - antonio palmerini

Palmerini shows us split personalities, melancholia, bi-polar
disorder, depression, paranoia, and sociopathy, all through
double exposures, long exposures, and high contrast
development.  At least that's what I see...  stories of ghosts
and tormented wanderers.  What do you see?

Many couples, many people, are not living with real human
beings, but with their ghosts. Who has not followed for years
the spell of a particular tone of voice, from voice to voice, as
the fetishist follows a beautiful foot, scarcely seeing the
woman herself? A voice, a mouth, an eye, all stemming from
the original fountain of our first desire, directing it, enslaving
us, until we choose to unravel the fatal web and free ourselves.

- Anaïs Nin

Thursday, December 20, 2012

the well written - boris pasternak

About dreams. It is usually taken for granted that you dream of
something that has made a particularly strong impression on you
during the day, but it seems to me it´s just the contrary. Often
it´s something you paid no attention to at the time -- a vague
thought that you didn´t bother to think out to the end, words
spoken without feeling and which passed unnoticed -- these are
the things that return at night, clothed in flesh and blood, and they
become the subjects of dreams, as if to make up for having been
ignored during waking hours.

- Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

By Paolo Domeniconi

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

from unexpected places - mutter museum

The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia houses all sorts of odd
skeletons, molds of bodily stigmas, photographs of patients of
interest, x-rays, even slides of Einstein's brains.  The associated
book about the museum says in its forward, "While these bodies
may be ugly, there is a terrifying beauty in the spirits of those
forced to endure these afflictions."  They are also dark
inspirations and someday, stories.

What is important is the story. Because when we are all dust and
teeth and kicked-up bits of skin - when we're dancing with our
own skeletons - our words might be all that's left of us.
- Alexandra Fuller, Scribbling The Cat

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

a dreamer's wisdom

Each person who ever was or is or will be has a song. It isn't a
song that anybody else wrote. It has its own melody, it has its own
words. Very few people get to sing their song. Most of us fear that
we cannot do it justice with our voices, or that our words are too
foolish or too honest, or too odd. So people live their song instead.

- Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

By Karl Wennergren

Monday, December 17, 2012

illustration - michele mikesell

Michele's favorite subject is the circus, which is why even her
non-circus subjects come across with a touch of the disproportion
and spectacle that come with the big top.  She seeks to create
individuals, combining expressive human faces with animal touches
in costume and posture as commentary on the human condition, and
humanity versus instinct.  With a background in textile design, she
sees it as crucial to communicate through color and texture in
support of the general image, and she uses methods of scratching
and sanding to tell of tragedy, contradiction, and irony in her pieces.

These are great inspiration for anyone writing a circus tale, or one
in the vein of Phantom of the Opera - something sweeping,
something dark and melancholy.

"Ladies and gentlemen," she calls.
Her voice fills the air.  It feels as if the tent grows to accommodate
the words, the circle of benches pushing out and out, the tinny
Panadrome swelling to an orchestra, the light softening and curling
around the shadows, until all at once you find you are perched in a
tiny wooden seat above a vast and glorious stage.

- Genevieve Valentine, Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti

Sunday, December 16, 2012

on reading - vladimir nabokov

I need you, the reader, to imagine us, for we don't really
exist if you don't.

- Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

By Fongwei Liu

on writing - jack kerouac

Thirty phrases - Belief and Technique for Modern Prose - by
Jack Kerouac.  For every kind of storyteller...

1.  Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for 
your own joy
2.  Submissive to everything, open, listening
3.  Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4.  Be in love with your life
5.  Something that you feel will find its own form
6.  Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7.  Blow as deep as you want to blow
8.  Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9.  The unspeakable visions of the individual
10.  No time for poetry but exactly what is

Friday, December 14, 2012

photo stories - rinko kawauchi

Rinko's work makes the simplest, most commonplace, sometimes
borderline ugly things look so beautiful, intriguing and bewitching
that you're sure there's an interesting story tucked in there
somewhere, even if its in an owl's black eyes and white feathers.
Her power lies in making every moment magical, showing us that
in all things there is a story.

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.  - Muriel Rukeyser

Thursday, December 13, 2012

the well written - thomas pynchon

Death has come in the pantry door: stands watching them,
iron and patient, with a look that says try to tickle me.

- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

By Charlie Quagmire

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

book covers - amazon's top 10

For your consideration: the book covers for's
top 10 science fiction & fantasy books of 2012, based on sales. 
Looking at these through the lens of the recent book cover 
design post, they play to many of the "good design" theories
mentioned such as combination theory, maximization, ju jitsu
theory, though most use encapsulation theory, where the image
and typeface are unified and easy to understand at a glance.
Would you buy any of these based solely on the cover?

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

illustration - asahinoboru

These are from a series by deviant artist asahinoboru entitled
"I Wanna Be a Witch" and they're absolutely amazing.  Along
with each addition is a little statement that she connects to that
particular witch like, "I wanna be a witch who is serious about
living."  It's all pretty wonderful, drawing you in to not only the
stories of her witches, but to the story of their maker as well.

I was born on the night of Samhain, when the barrier between
the worlds is whisper-thin and when magic, old magic, sings its
heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it.
- Carolyn MacCullough, Once a Witch

a dreamer's wisdom - ursula k. le guin

My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives
me all the world and exiles me from it.

- Ursula K. Le Guin, Harper's magazine, August 1990

By Gabriel Pacheco

Monday, December 10, 2012

on writing - joss whedon

Whedon's 10 screenwriting tips - authors have given similar 
advice, so I'm posting it here, where we can all learn from it.

1. Finish it
Actually finishing it is what I’m gonna put in as step one. You 

may laugh at this, but it’s true. I have so many friends who have 
written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about 
three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, 
and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you 
know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You 
have to have a little closure.

2. Structure
Structure means knowing where you’re going ; making sure you 

don’t meander about.  I’m a structure nut. I actually make charts. 
Where are the jokes ? The thrills ? The romance ? Who knows 
what, and when ? You need these things to happen at the right 
times, and that’s what you build your structure around : the way 
you want your audience to feel. Charts, graphs, colored pens, 
anything that means you don’t go in blind is useful.

By Manuele Fior


Sunday, December 9, 2012

the well written - albert camus

It was quite like old times; a lot of young people were in the swimming 
pool, amongst them Marie Cardona, who used to be a typist at the office. 
I was rather keen on her in those days, and I fancy she liked me, too. 
But she was with us so short a time that nothing came of it. 
While I was helping her to climb on to a raft, I let my hand stray over her 
breasts. Then she lay flat on the raft, while I trod water. After a moment 
she turned and looked at me. Her hair was over her eyes and she was 
laughing. I clambered up on to the raft, beside her. The air was pleasantly 
warm, and, half jokingly, I let my head sink back upon her lap. She didn’t 
seem to mind, so I let it stay there. I had the sky full in my eyes, all blue 
and gold, and I could feel Marie’s stomach rising and falling gently under 
my head. We must have stayed a good half-hour on the raft, both of us 
half asleep. When the sun got too hot she dived off and I followed. I 
caught up with her, put my arm round her waist, and we swam side by 
side.  She was still laughing. 

- Albert Camus, The Stranger
By Matthew Richardson

Friday, December 7, 2012

from unexpected places - toy stories

Some amazing stories are centered around toys - The Velveteen 
Rabbit, the Toy Story franchise, even The Dollhouse Murders,
if you want to go a darker route.  In this series, Much Loved, by
Mark Nixon, teddy bears are the main characters.  Nixon took
photographs of old and much loved bears and collected the
stories behind them.  Have a look at the photos and anecdotes
and walk down memory lane with your own teddies or polly
pockets or gigapets, and so on.

You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen
often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who
have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real,
most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and
you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't
matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except
to people who don't understand.

- Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Teddy (age 22)

Teddy Tingley (age 45)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

the well written - a.s. byatt

They took to silence. They touched each other without comment
and without progression. A hand on a hand, a clothed arm,
resting on an arm. An ankle overlapping an ankle, as they sat on
a beach, and not removed. One night they fell asleep, side by
side...He slept curled against her back, a dark comma against her
pale elegant phrase.

- A.S. Byatt, Possession

By Higinia Garay

on writing - more advice on first pages

Seven reasons why agents Esmond Harmsworth, Eve Bridburg, and
Janet Silver of the Zachary Shuster Harmsworth agency stopped
reading around the 250-word point:

1. Generic beginnings: Stories that opened with the date or the
weather didn’t really inspire interest. According to Harmsworth, you
are only allowed to start with the weather if you’re writing a book
about meteorologists. Otherwise, pick something more creative.

2. Slow beginnings: Some manuscripts started with too much
pedestrian detail (characters washing dishes, etc) or unnecessary
background information.

By Rose Brigid Ganly

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

on reading - cameron dokey

A story is alive, as you and I are. It is rounded by muscle and
sinew. Rushed with blood. Layered with skin, both rough and
smooth. At its core lies soft marrow of hard, white bone. A story
beats with the heart of every person who has ever strained ears
to listen. On the breath of the storyteller, it soars. Until its images
and deeds become so real you can see them in the air, shimmering
like oases on the horizon line. A story can fly like a bee, so
straight and swift you catch only the hum of its passing. Or move
so slowly it seems motionless, curled in upon itself like a snake in
the sun. It can vanish like smoke before the wind. Linger like
perfume in the nose. Change with every telling, yet always remain
the same.

- Cameron Dokey

By Erin McGuire

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

book covers - twenty theories on successful designs

For those of you curious about book cover design - whether it
be in regards to your future novel dreams or your current
self-published project, and so on - here's a great intro to what
can make a good book cover.

1. Face theory - 
Research suggests that human beings spend 48.6% of their lives
decoding facial communication, so a big draw for a potential
book buyer will be the familiarity of a face.

2. Association theory -
Human beings make a connection with a given stimulus that
leads to how they respond to something they see. The image on
the cover of Luca Turin's The Little Book of Perfumes uses the
familiar image of a perfume bottle to help the reader respond to
the idea that the book is about scent.

Monday, December 3, 2012

illustration - juri hayasaka chinchilla

Juri's illustrations are definitely on the side of traditional fantasy
- angelic heroins wandering the borders of light and shadow,
half-angels, half-goddesses, hair blowing in the wind, dresses
billowing against the breeze...  they're all quite beautiful and
capable of stirring one to want to write a woman up to the
standards of what Juri presents.

Side note: the first illustration is her self-portrait, which I find
rather fascinating in itself, a single frame in some great story.

Feeling at peace, however fragilely, made it easy to slip into the
visionary end of the dark-sight. The rose shadows said that they
loved the sun, but that they also loved the dark, where their roots
grew through the lightless mystery of the earth. The roses said:
You do not have to choose.
- Robin McKinley, Sunshine

the well written - neil gaiman & terry pratchett

The cafe door opened. A young man in dusty white leathers
entered, and the wind blew in empty crisp packets and newspapers
and ice cream wrappers in with him. They danced around his feet
like excited children, then fell exhausted to the floor.

- Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett, Good Omens

By Hillary Kleptach

Sunday, December 2, 2012

photo stories - richard burbridge

These mask photographs by Richard Burbridge in the latest issue
of Livraison Magazine illustrate how angles, proportions, and
textures can dramatically change the moods of an otherwise similar
set of faces.  One reads as heroic gladiator, another as fairy
warrior, a third - the last in the series - makes me think of a
sci-fi queen or Zeus' mistress.  The individuals who designed
these are storytellers in their own right.

A huge, monstrous thing, the mask sits on her head like the prow of
a broken, overturned ship, carved over with etched eyes and fins.
Yellow reeds and sea-stones hang from its tricorn-points. She is
looking at me, but all I can see is the wooden grotesque she wants
me to see instead of her face.

- Catherynne M. Valente, Silently and Very Fast

Friday, November 30, 2012

a dreamer's wisdom - johann wolfgang von goethe

Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move
the hearts of men.

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

By Corinne Reid

from unexpected places - dioramas and miniatures

It's possible that a big story could be inspired by something small or
miniature...  These artists offer intriguing scenes born from the stews
of horror, childhood lolling, science fiction, and adventure fantasies
involving giant octopi and mutant bunnies.  Dioramas fascinate
children the world over.  They don't even have to be about something
fantastical; they just are fantastical by nature - little worlds to carry in
an old bottle or shoe box.  What inspired us then can inspire us now..
Have a look.

Never would I allow my size to define me. Instead I would define it.
- Melanie Benjamin, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb: A Novel

There's a great power of imagination about these little children, and
a creative fancy and belief that is very curious to watch.  I am
determined that Anny shall have a very extensive and instructive
store of learning in Tom Thumbs, Jack-the-Giant-Killers, etc.
- William Makepeace Thackeray

Jonah Samson

By Erin Tyner

Thursday, November 29, 2012

on reading - orson scott card

I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know
are not "true" because we're hungry for another kind of truth: the
mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth
about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the
most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is
not about someone who lived in the real world, always has the
possibility of being about oneself.

- Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game

By Kristin Kest

on writing - why editors reject stories

David Farland's four reasons why an editor will reject a story:

1)  The idea for the story isn’t particularly fresh or interesting. You
may not realize it, but the basic concept of your story has probably
been done before. For example, let’s say that you decide to write a
story about “Zombie Sharecroppers.” Great. You might write it
beautifully, and I might get through the entire tale and enjoy it. But
ultimately I have to look at it and ask, “Is the basic tenet of the story
fresh and original? Did the author give it a surprise twist that lifted it
above similar stories?” If the answer to both of those questions is no,
then it will probably not get higher than an honorable mention.
You’ll need to come at me next time with a fresh idea.

2)  If the idea is good, then it may be that your execution is off. Very
often I’ll get stories where the idea intrigues me and the story is
written pretty well, but the author still has a few problems. Maybe
the author uses too many weak verbs, or has word repetitions. I had
one a couple of days ago that was set in Haiti, and while interesting,
nothing about the character’s voices suggested that the author had
ever listened closely to a Haitian. The accents just weren’t right.

By Giorgio Baroni

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

illustration - gracra

The artist of GraCra Illustration offers up some fantastical queens
and princesses, sisters and seductresses.  I immediately wonder
what these creatures have set out to accomplish, what kinds of
lives have carried them this far, and where their magic, sorrows,
and creature companions have come from.  Sets of melancholy
sisters, a world of desaturated people and saturated nature, and
others where the two merge entirely.  GraCra Illustration brings
to the table images worthy of Oz and Wonderland.

You would have to be half mad to dream me up.
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

the well written - fernando pessoa

When one of my Japanese teacups is broken, I imagine that the real
cause was not the careless hand of a maid but the anxieties of the
figures inhabiting the curves of that porcelain. Their grim decision
to commit suicide doesn't shock me: they used the maid as one of
us might use a gun.

- Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

By Mark von Minden

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

a dreamer's wisdom - dale carnegie

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished
by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no
hope at all.

- Dale Carnegie

By Guillem Mari

from unexpected places - ania cywinska's collages

I stumbled upon these by Ania Cywinska.  Most are from a series
entitled, "Snow Queen".  They're not all the way illustration nor all
the way photography, but what I love is that they definitely give
an impression of a story - one about a psychopathic empress on a
remote planet decades into its dystopia maybe, and the two girls that
tried to challenge her.  Each collage reeks of mood, builds it with
every positioning, combination, and tint.  So congrats to Ania.
And our stories should do the same.

It was an evil doom that set her in his path. For she is a fair maiden,
fairest lady of a house of queens. And yet I know not how I should
speak of her. When I first looked on her and perceived her
unhappiness, it seemed to me that I saw a white flower standing
straight and proud, shapely as a lily and yet knew that it was hard, as
if wrought by elf-wrights out of steel.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King