Sunday, September 30, 2012

from unexpected places - vintage astronomy prints

These are from Etsy's Antique Print Store.  What kind of characters
would own them?  What kind lived through some of these spectacles,
lives forever changed by wonder?  Are any of these characters yours?

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
- Carl Sagan

Ziva Comet, 1858

Comet Nuclei, 1940's

on reading - alberto manguel

At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book - that
string of confused, alien ciphers--shivered into meaning. Words spoke to
you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You
became, irrevocably, a reader.

- Alberto Manguel

Saturday, September 29, 2012

photo stories - sophie fontaine

Sophie's photographs have appeared in Vogue Italia and Seeance Magazine
among other places.  She likes to explore forgotten and abandoned locations,
putting subjects into frames where they wander and even become one with
the mysteries around them.  Each of these is a snapshot in some story of
restlessness and secrecy on the countryside.

Seek treasures amid ruins, sincere one.  - Rumi

from the screen - looper

Thank you to Looper (and writer Rian Johnson) for a sci-fi film that
takes itself seriously.  And takes its audience's intelligence seriously.
The screenwriting, acting, themes, and more were absolutely amazing.

Quotes from Rian:
One thing all my favorite sci-fi has in common is that it always uses the
sci-fi elements to amplify very human emotions, themes and characters,
and not the other way around. Ray Bradbury was the first sci-fi author I
was ever exposed to as a kid, and is still for me the most masterful example
of using outlandish sci-fi concepts that have nothing to do with our real
lives to get at stuff that strikes right to the heart of our lives. Characters are
hugely important to me when I'm writing, so that naturally ends up being
what leads the whole process.

When I’m writing I’m big into structure and outlining, so I’ll spend the
first 80 percent of the process working in notebooks and working out the
big picture in a space where I can see it. I love connections, I love seeding
stuff in that’s going to pay off later, and figuring out ways to do that in
ways that make sense and feel organic. All that stuff, including the smoking
thing with Emily, was baked into the script. But obviously it’s all got to
serve the character, showing that she had a past she’s given up, that she
misses and thinks about.  (Via Writers Guild of America)

Endgame Entertainment

Thursday, September 27, 2012

the well written - margaret atwood

She imagines him imagining her. This is her salvation.

In spirit she walks the city, traces its labyrinths, its dingy mazes: each
assignation, each rendezvous, each door and stair and bed. What he said,
what she said, what they did, what they did then. Even the times they
argued, fought, parted, agonized, rejoined. How they’d loved to cut
themselves on each other, taste their own blood. We were ruinous together,
she thinks. But how else can we live, these days, except in the midst of ruin?

- Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

By Claire Price

on writing - john steinbeck

Dear Writer:

      Although it must be a thousand years ago that I sat in a class in story
writing at Stanford, I remember the experience very clearly. I was bright-eyed
and bushy-brained and prepared to absorb the secret formula for writing good
short stories, even great short stories. This illusion was canceled very quickly.
The only way to write a good short story, we were told, is to write a good short
story. Only after it is written can it be taken apart to see how it was done. It is a
most difficult form, as we were told, and the proof lies in how very few great
short stories there are in the world.

      The basic rule given us was simple and heartbreaking. A story to be effective
had to convey something from the writer to the reader, and the power of its
offering was the measure of its excellence. Outside of that, there were no rules.
A story could be about anything and could use any means and any technique at all
- so long as it was effective. As a subhead to this rule, it seemed to be necessary
for the writer to know what he wanted to say, in short, what he was talking about.
As an exercise we were to try reducing the meat of our story to one sentence, for
only then could we know it well enough to enlarge it to three-, six-, or ten-
thousand words.

By Rainer Tenhunen

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

a dreamer's wisdom - j.m. barrie

The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever
to be able to do it.

- J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

By Aleksandra Chabros

resources -

Many of you probably already know about this, but is a great place
to find markets for your short stories and novellas.  Websites are listed by
payment category: pro, semi-pro, pay, and token, as well as paying or non-paying
anthologies.  With each site is listed submission and payment details.  Even five
minutes on the site offers that little push to finish short story X or Z or start one
you've had on your list of things to write someday.

A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph;
a novel is a film.  - Lorrie Moore

By Maureen M. Evans

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

illustration - rebecca green

Rebecca Green's work is absolutely incredible.  It's real life bumping up
against the borders of whimsy and magic.  If you check out her Society6
page, she often gives little anecdotes as to what inspired various pieces...
Like a friend's mother who owned an accordion to big to be held, or
the world's largest collection of toys being put up for sale, or a violinist
she watched on the street once.  Any of these is perfect material for a
short story or two.

Words from Rebecca -
I love stories.  I love small drawings that contain a lot of life.  I spend a lot
of time just watching out for little details in people, old buildings and
architecture, animals, colors, all that.  When I get an artist block, I take a
break from my studio and look at other people’s work.  That usually fires
something.  (via Ric Evans)

on reading - margaret atwood

A word after a word after a word is power. 

- Margaret Atwood

By Pablo Auladell

Monday, September 24, 2012

the well written - diana gabaldon

Deftly whipping a small tuning fork from his pocket, he struck it smartly
against a pillar and held it next to Jamie's left ear. Jamie rolled his eyes
heavenward, but shrugged and obligingly sang a note. The little man jerked
back as though he'd been shot.

- Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber

By Takuichi

Sunday, September 23, 2012

from the screen - sherlock (tv series)

I am you, prepared to do anything.  Prepared to burn.  Prepared to do
what ordinary people won't do.  You want me to shake hands with you
in hell, I shall not disappoint you.

No, you talk big.  No, you're ordinary.  You're ordinary.  You're on the
side of the angels.

Oh, I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think for one second
that I am one of them.

No, you're not.  I see.  You're not ordinary.  No.  You're meee.  Haha. 
You're me.  Thank you, Sherlock Holmes.  Thank you.  Bless you.

- Written by Steve Thompson


photo stories - dan winters

Dan Winters is great with portraits.  One of my favorite character
development exercises is to imagine: if your character had his or her
portrait taken, what would it look like?  Which postures, eye angles,
clothing, jewelry, visual quirks would capture his or her essence?
What kind of lighting?  Facial expressions?  On and on.  Dreaming
up this kind of snapshot for a character is like creating a tag line for
your novel - it can add clarity and focus, make the person sharper to
you and therefore, to us.

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not
characters. A character is a caricature.

- Ernest Hemingway

Gwyneth Paltrow

Johnny Depp

Saturday, September 22, 2012

on writing - EVERY DAY

I'd say this is one piece of writing advice that is forever true: WRITE EVERY DAY.

You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries
and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear
books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for
the next 20,000 days.  And out of that love, remake a world.  - Ray Bradbury

Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite
fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks
of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you
follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully
but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the
world.  - Robert McKee 

By Nguyen Minh Hai

a dreamer's wisdom - edgar allan poe

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which
escape those who dream only by night.

- Edgar Allan Poe

By Lilie Melo

Friday, September 21, 2012

the well written - john green

"I'm in love with you," he said quietly.

"Augustus," I said.

"I am," he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his
eyes crinkling. "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of
denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with
you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is
inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when
all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the
only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you."

- John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

By Katherine Dae

illustration - blok magnaye

Blok Magnaye has a collection of amazing work up on deviant art and
a related tumblr account.  What impresses me is his skill with mood -
cheer, melancholy, exhaustion, sorrow, mellow - Mark knows how to
use color to express all kinds of stories.

Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing?
Can one really explain this?  No.

- Pablo Picasso

Thursday, September 20, 2012

resources - free short stories

Mallow yearned to know everything.  Curiosity was part of her, like her short
blond hair and bitten fingernails.  The best thing in the world was not her
luckfigs or her whiskey lake, not her weeping-orchid garden or the cast-iron
ducks that thudded heavily on her windowsills every morning, hoping for a
bit of onion oil to moisten their bills, not even her friends or her little country
house, but having curiosity satisfied, feeling the warm, sure spread of
knowledge through her body.

- Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland - For a Little While (

Many authors post their short stories on their websites, or at least the links.
Two such authors are Catherynne M. Valente and Kij Johnson.
Click to see the lists of available reads.

By Ana Juan

photo stories - francesca woodman

Francesca's work offers great inspiration for writers of eccentric fantasy,
ghost stories, the paranormal, or even those who seek to propagate a
tone of melancholy, angst, and restlessness in their work.  So many stunning
moments caught in these frames...

I normally create a scene, a narrative, or sometimes a whole universe that I
would be interested in making into a reality -- and then I fill these worlds
with people.

Despite inflictions, the soul can remain pure.  However, everything we do
is in us forever.

- Francesca Woodman

Francesca took her own life at age 22.  The Woodmans is a documentary
about Francesca and her family.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

the well written - milan kundera

Dreaming is not merely an act of communication, it is also an aesthetic
activity, a game of imagination, a game that is a value in itself.  Our dreams 
prove that to imagine—to dream about things that have not happened—is 
among mankind’s deepest needs.  Herein lies the danger.  If dreams were 
not beautiful, they would quickly be forgotten.  But Tereza kept coming back 
to her dreams, running through them in her mind, turning them into legends.   
Thomas lived under the hypnotic spell cast by the excruciating beauty of 
Tereza’s dreams.

- Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

By Joshua Vegas

from unexpected places - peculiar objects

Each of these has a story...  the first could be the house of a traveling gnome,
the second the shoes of a futuristic mistress in an urban fantasy, then tagging
rings in a science fiction adventure, an enigmatic instrument that is the
subject of a historical fiction piece similar to The Red Violin, then a head
dress in a hybrid science fiction/fantasy, an instrument of a culture long
extinct, and last, a wicked witch's disguise or a robot's masquerade attire.

Or whatever else you dream up.

Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.

- Albert Einstein

Gnome house, a blogger called it

Designed by Aoi Kotsuhiroi

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

on writing - george orwell

George Orwell's 4 motivations to write:

1.  Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be
remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups
who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend
this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this
characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers,
successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of

2.  Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external
world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement.
Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of
good prose or the rhythm of a good story.  The aesthetic motive is
very feeble in a lot of writers.

3.  Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out
true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

4.  Political purpose. Using the word ‘political’ in the widest
possible sense.  Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to
alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should
strive after. No book is genuinely free from political bias.

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout
of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing
if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither
resist nor understand. It can be seen how these various impulses
must war against one another, and how they must fluctuate from
person to person and from time to time. (Source)

By David Rees

on reading - chinese proverbs

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.

After three days without reading, talk becomes flavorless.

A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood.

By Nguyen Minh Hai

Monday, September 17, 2012

a dreamer's wisdom - garth stein

Here's why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot talk, so I listen
very well. I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my
own. People, if you pay attention to them, change the direction of one another's
conversations constantly. It's like being a passenger in your car who suddenly
grabs the steering wheel and turns you down a side street. For instance, if we
met at a party and I wanted to tell you a story about the time I needed to get a
soccer ball in my neighbor's yard but his dog chased me and I had to jump into a
swimming pool to escape, and I began telling the story, you, hearing the words
"soccer" and "neighbor" in the same sentence, might interrupt and mention that
your childhood neighbor was Pele, the famous soccer player, and I might be
courteous and say, Didn't he play for the Cosmos of New York? Did you grow
up in New York?

So my initial conversational gambit - that I had a funny story about being chased
by my neighbor's dog - would be totally lost, and only because you had to tell me
all about Pele. Learn to listen! I beg of you. Pretend you are a dog like me and
listen to other people rather than steal their stories.

- Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Claudia

Saturday, September 15, 2012

photo stories - luke gilford

This is a spread photographed by Luke Gilford for V Magazine #79.
Looks like great inspiration for some short and eccentric speculative fiction to me.

illustration - sara wilson

Sara Wilson of Fly Okay Illustration, found on etsy here, loves to tell stories
through watercolor and more.  Some of her illustrations are even part of a series
making up a more rounded story.  She's very in touch with her insides and all
other things around us meant to inspire the greatest of stories.  She cites music,
Miyazaki, and the stumbled upon truths of life as some of her influences.

To the subject, a bit of Hayao Miyazaki's wisdom:
Even in the middle of hatred and killings, there are things worth living for.
A wonderful meeting, or a beautiful thing can exist. We depict hatred, but it is
to depict that there are more important things. We depict a curse, to depict the
joy of liberation.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

the well written - haruki murakami

Time weighs down on you like an old, ambiguous dream. You keep on
moving, trying to sleep through it. But even if you go to the ends of the
earth, you won't be able to escape it. Still, you have to go there- to the
edge of the world. There's something you can't do unless you get there.

- Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

By Zhong Biao

on writing - stephen king again

Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes
you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel
shit from a sitting position.

With six weeks' worth of recuperation time, you'll also be able to see any
glaring holes in the plot or character development. And listen--if you spot
a few of these big holes, you are forbidden to feel depressed about them or
to beat up on yourself. Screw-ups happen to the best of us.

When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying
the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.

The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your
pen or word processor.

Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid,
or making friends. In the end it's about enriching the lives of those who will
read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It's about getting up,
getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy... this
book is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to
start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other
creative art.  The water is free.  So drink.  Drink and be filled up.

- Stephen King, On Writing

 Read the book here.

By Karlee Manix

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

on reading - eudora welty

Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read.  For all I know,
writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.

- Eudora Welty, On Writing

By Stephanie Dolph

resources - idioms has a catalog of idioms based on countries (English): Irish,
American, Australian, British, Canadian, Scottish, Indian, and New Zealander.
This can be helpful if, say, you're writing a Scottish character and want to indicate
his or her country of origin with more than "aye" and "ye".

Cat's lick = quick wash
Head is mince = confusion in face of a dilemma
Turn the crack = change the subject

By Absurdite

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

the well written - ray bradbury

He raged for hours. And the skeleton, ever the frail and solelmn philosopher,
hung quietly inside, saying not a word, suspended like a delicate insect within
a chrysalis, waiting and waiting.

- Ray Bradbury, The October Country

By World is my Playground

from the screen - great expectations

And I could still draw.  Nothing has lessened it, as much as I'd abused it,
as much as I'd abandoned it.  It was a gift, and it was still mine.  And
everything else was less real.  What could it mean, that picture of the world? 
But when it's true, we recognize it, in ourselves, in others.  We recognize it,
like love, completely undeserved.

- Adapted to the screen by Mitch Glazer

Twentieth Century Fox

Monday, September 10, 2012

illustration - veera

Veera likes to play with the creature/human dynamics - human trumping
creature, creature trumping human, creature and human in harmony.
Her illustrations are more like snapshots.  The beginnings, middles, and
ends still need to be filled in.  Any ideas?

Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem.

- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

a dreamer's wisdom - steven r. covey

Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit,
reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.

- Steven R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

By Jimmy Liao

Sunday, September 9, 2012

photo stories - ryan mcginley

Ryan's photos just beg to be written into beginnings.  If we keep asking
why, the story will surface.  Why does that shade of blue surround her?
Why the fog?  The bonfire?  Why does the moon pause above his head?
Why does she watch the water?....

on writing - stephen king

In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it 'got boring', the
boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of
description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling.

Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.

Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot
succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. It’s not just a question of how-to,
you see; it’s also a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how
much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only
by doing.

- Stephen King, On Writing

By Joe Mamer

Saturday, September 8, 2012

the well written - jo walton

In honor of Jo's Hugo Award win...

At home I walked through a haze of belongings that knew, at least vaguely, who
they belonged to.  Grampar’s chair resented anyone else sitting on it as much as
he did himself.  Gramma’s shirts and jumpers adjusted themselves to hide her
missing breast.  My mother’s shoes positively vibrated with consciousness.  Our
toys looked out for us.  There was a potato knife in the kitchen that Gramma
couldn’t use.  It was an ordinary enough brown-handled thing, but she’d cut herself
with it once, and ever after it wanted more of her blood.  If I rummaged through the
kitchen drawer, I could feel it brooding.  After she died, that faded.  Then there were
the coffee spoons, rarely used, tiny, a wedding present.  They were made of silver,
and they knew themselves superior to everything else and special.

None of these things did anything.  The coffee spoons didn’t stir the coffee without
being held or anything.  They didn’t have conversations with the sugar tongs about
who was the most cherished.  I suppose what they really did was physiological.  
They confirmed the past, they connected everything, they were threads in a tapestry.

 - Jo Walton, Among Others

By Brian McGloin