Wednesday, October 31, 2012

photo stories - halloween edition

And 11 photos to inspire more Halloween stories...
along with some well-written All Hallow's Eve-ish snippets.

There were days when no kid came out of his house without looking
around. The week after Halloween had a quality both hungover and
ominous, the light pitched, the sky smashed against the rooftops.
― Jonathan Lethem, The Fortress of Solitude

But I can think of nothing on earth so beautiful as the final haul on
Halloween night, which, for me, was ten to fifteen pounds of candy, a
riot of colored wrappers and hopeful fonts,snub-nosed chocolate bars
and Sweetarts, the seductive rattle of Juicyfruits and Good & Plenty
and lollipopsticks all akimbo, the foli ends of mini LifeSavers packs
twinkling like dimes, and a thick sugary perfume rising up from the
― Steve Almond, Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America

She picked up a knife and headed toward the pumpkin.  Alex watched
miserably as she went to cut the top off.  Then a strange, awful thing
happened: As she touched the pumpkin, holding it steady with one hand,
it began to glow softly.  She lifted her hand away, looking at the pumpkin
with concern.  The glow lit her apron orange.  She lowered the knife and
it grew even brighter.  She looked, mystified, at the pumpkin.
She said to Alex, "You didn't get this at Ferguson's, did you?"
- M.T. Anderson, "Just Dessert", The Chronicles of Harris Burdick

By Malinda Fisher

By Kelley F.

illustration - halloween edition

Here are 12 Halloween illustrations that could use a body of words in
explanation.  What kind of stories would you write?

I saw thousands of pumpkins last night
come floating in on the tide,
bumping up against the rocks and
rolling up on the beaches;
it must be Halloween in the sea.
- Richard Brautigan, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster

Suddenly the day was gone,
night came out from under each tree and spread.
- Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

Dear Great Pumpkin, Halloween is now only a few days away. Children
all over the world await you coming. When you rise out of the pumpkin
patch that night, please remember I am your most loyal follower. Have
a nice trip. Don't forget to take out flight insurance.
- Charles M. Schulz, The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 6: 1961-1962

By Ania Tomicka

By Elia Fernandez

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

on reading - alberto manguel

One book calls to another unexpectedly, creating alliances across different
cultures and centuries..  From fire, water, the passage of time, neglectful
readers, and the hand of the censor, each of my books has escaped to tell
me its story.

- Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night

By Maruti Bitamin

a dreamer's wisdom - lao tzu

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.

- Lao Tzu

By Alison Scarpulla

Monday, October 29, 2012

illustration - kim salt

Kim Salt is another of those artists skilled with color, light,
and therefore mood in each of her pieces.  The fourth illustration
down reminds me of Catherynne Valente's novel, Palmpsest, but
the first is like some kooky, vivid graphic novel for middle grade
readers, so her work is varied, but all of it wonderful.  Have a
look, be inspired.

Here in your mind you have complete privacy.  Here there's no
difference between what is and what could be.
- Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

Sunday, October 28, 2012

photo stories - shall we fly?

Halloween is coming, which brings to mind witches riding brooms
and ghosts riding air.  Here are a few images, some eerie, some
ghosty, taken by photographers dreaming dreams of flight, a magic
we are able to achieve with our minds, but not our bodies.

Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with
your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you
will always long to return.
- Leonardo da Vinci

By Kubra Kactioglu

By Brandon Long

Saturday, October 27, 2012

the well written - franz kafka

Everyone carries a room about inside him. This fact can even be
proved by means of the sense of hearing. If someone walks fast and
one pricks up one’s ears and listens, say in the night, when everything
round about is quiet, one hears, for instance, the rattling of a mirror
not quite firmly fastened to the wall.

- Franz Kafka, Blue Octavo Notebooks

By me

on writing - john steinbeck

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish.  Lose track
of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps.
Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole 
thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing 
is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for
not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can
only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless,
faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place,
unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one 
single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one
person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write
to that one.

4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think
you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the
whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the
reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than
the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only
then will it have the sound of speech.  (Via BrainPickings)

As with all writing advice, take these bits as food for thought.
They may be true for you, they may not.  

By Julia Yellow

Friday, October 26, 2012

the well written - stephen king

But Nadine had always and forever belonged only to Nadine.  She was
the aerth's child...  Aunt and Uncle were too old, they had been in their
mid fifties when she turned sixteen, the year she had run fleetly through
the dewy grass under the moon - the night of wine, when dreams
condensed out of thin air like the nightmilk of fantasy.  A lovenight.  And
if the boy caught her she would have given him whatever prizes were hers
to give...  But he hadn't caught her.  A cloud had drifted over the moon.
The dew began to feel clammy and unpleasant, frightening.  The taste of
wine in her mouth had somehow changed to the taste of electric spit;
slightly sour.  A kind of metamorphosis had taken place, a feeling that she
should, must wait.  And where had he been then, her intended, her dark

- Stephen King, The Stand

By Dan-ah Kim

Thursday, October 25, 2012

from unexpected places - movie poster design

These minimalist movie posters sum up key moods and plot points
in a single simple image.  What silhouette and color palatte would
belong to your story?  (Via

photo stories - chad moore

Much of the work of Chad Moore seems straight out of a YA novel to me.
In his own words: "I always find it tough to describe my work to someone
that has never seen it, because all in all, it's so personal.  It's my collection of
memories. It's my documentation of fleeting youth I suppose, that feeling of
optimism and adventure that you can only feel when you are at a certain age.
I think youth is so important, so delicate and that's what I capture in my
photographs.  I get obsessed with certain people and their stories and often I
guess I'll make up my own story about them.  I suppose taking photos is a way
to take that all in, to create a tangible memory."  (Via Refinery29 and Black Flag)

I will love you always. When this red hair is white, I will still love you. When
the smooth softness of youth is replaced by the delicate softness of age, I will
still want to touch your skin. When your face is full of the lines of every smile
you have ever smiled, of every surprise I have seen flash through your eyes,
when every tear you have ever cried has left its mark upon your face, I will
treasure you all the more, because I was there to see it all. I will share your life
with you, Meredith, and I will love you until the last breath leaves your body
or mine.

- Laurell K. Hamilton, A Lick of Frost

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

on reading - franz kafka

A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.

- Franz Kafka, The Trial

By Maria

illustration - berk ozturk

Ozturk is a master illustrator of life's sorrows and loves. Apart from
these gems, he's done illustrations of classic fairy tales and comic
book heroes, as well as works to represent different psychological
themes - schitzophrenia, empathy, anxiety, suicide, obsession, and
free association - so be sure to take a look at his gallery.

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely
miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite
certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
- Agatha Christie

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

the well written - elie wiesel

Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking and loving and dreaming.
At night everything is more intense, more true. The echo of words that
have been spoken during the day takes on a new and deeper meaning.
The tragedy of man is that he doesn't know how to distinguish between
day and night. He says things at night that should only be said by day.

- Elie Wiesel, Dawn

By Sadie Harris

on writing - elie wiesel

Whoever survives a test, whatever it may be, must tell the story.
That is his duty.

Think higher, feel deeper.

Write only if you cannot live without writing. Write only what you
alone can write.

I feel that books, just like people, have a destiny.  Some invite
sorrow, others joy, some both.

I write to understand as much as to be understood.

There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the
very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages, which is the result
of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred pages are there.
Only you don’t see them.

- Elie Wiesel

By Clare Owen

Monday, October 22, 2012

photo stories - kyle thompson

Kyle Thompson is a surrealist photographer, often photographing himself.
He got into photography simply after seeing the work of Francesca Woodman
online.  He dropped out of college to travel and explore the world while he
continues to explore his art.  He's had to strengthen his improvisation skills
with props and locations as he's traveled, leading to some stunning works...

Similar to how its often good for a writer to exercise his/her short story
writing skills with limits of 1,000 or 5,000 words.  Keep writing.
Uncover the gems that come from constraints.

The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some
place, in the air.  All I must do is find it, and copy it.  - Jules Renard, "Diary"

from the screen - the iron lady

Watch your thoughts for they become your words.
Watch your words for they become your actions.
Watch your actions for they become habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.

- Abi Morgan, The Iron Lady (film)

The Weinstein Company

Sunday, October 21, 2012

on writing - author anecdotes

These are always to fun to read - the small beginnings to great ends.

1. The Hobbit:
J.R.R. TOLKIEN was grading college exam papers, and midway through
the stack he came across a gloriously blank sheet. Tolkien wrote down the
first thing that randomly popped into his mind: “In a hole in the ground there
lived a hobbit.” He had no idea what a hobbit was or why it lived
underground, and so he set out to solve the mystery.

2. Treasure Island:
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON painted a map to pass the time during a
dreary vacation in the Scottish Highlands. When he stepped back to admire his
handiwork, a cast of imaginary pirates appeared. Stevenson recalled, “They
passed to and fro, fighting and hunting treasure, on these few square inches of a
flat projection.” He promptly traded his paintbrush for a quill and began to write.

3. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:
L. FRANK BAUM was telling his sons a story when he abruptly stopped.
He’d been swept away to a land unlike any his imagination had ever conjured.
Baum ushered the young audience into another room and, page by page, began
to document Dorothy’s journey along the yellow brick road.

By Neily

a dreamer's wisdom - the well written - c.s. lewis

When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter
the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you
have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk
about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly,
nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they
hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face
till we have faces?

- C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

By Steve Kim

Saturday, October 20, 2012

on writing - janet yolen

Janet Yolen has an advice for writers section on her blog covering a range of
topics from revisions to Muse to joy and rejection. Many encouraging pieces
of wisdom to be had, so here are some highlights:

On characters: I generally do not think out plots or characters ahead of time.
I let things roll along.  I do it because I am a reader before I am a writer. I want
my own writing to surprise me, the way someone else’s book does.

On writing a novel: The first chapters are a slog, circling and re-circling again,
trying to find the right voice, the strength of the main character, the central
metaphor. Often the middle sags as I rethink, re-vision, try to re-adjust everything.
But by the time I round the next-to-final curve in the road, when I can almost see
the tape at the end of the run, I fling my virtual arms in the air and race to the
finish. If I ever write the perfect book, I’ll stop writing.

By Jessica Brilli

the well written - ken kesey

What the Chronics are - or most of us - are machines with flaws inside
that can't be repaired, flaws born in, or flaws beat in over so many years
of the guy running head-on into solid things that by the time the hospital
found him he was bleeding rust in some vacant lot.

- Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

By Patrice Murciano

Thursday, October 18, 2012

on reading - ralph waldo emerson

Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences
that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Sel├žuk Demirel

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

the well written - vladimir nabokov

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta:
the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap,
at three, on the teeth.  Lo. Lee. Ta.  She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning,
standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly
at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was
always Lolita.

- Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Lolita and Humbert by Lana

illustration - vilde d. ulriksen

The home page of Vilde's website says "Every picture tells a story".
She's always been minded in the way of deep and mysterious forests,
fae creatures, and ethereal beings, illustration as her means to get the
stories from her mind and into the world.  From what she creates,
I'd say these are some pretty wonderful stories...

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine
picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not
obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the
human soul.

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

photo stories - gregory crewdson

Ultimately, I’m interested in this ambiguous moment that draws the viewer
in through photographic beauty, through repulsion, through some kind of
tension.  I have always been fascinated by the poetic condition of twilight.
By its transformative quality. Its power of turning the ordinary into something
magical and otherworldly. My wish is for the narrative in the pictures to work
within that circumstance. It is that sense of in-between-ness that interests me.   

– Gregory Crewdson

Many writers also manage to strike this balance between beauty and repulsion.

Valente and Angela Carter strike me as two great examples.  See here:

They fell on me, which is pretty much how zombies do anything...  But they 

didn't bite me, and finally my father threw back his head and bellowed. I know 
that bellow. I've always known it, and it hasn't changed. They pulled away, panting, 
exhausted... And my father limped over to me, dragging his broken left foot-they 
don't die but they don't heal. I tried to set it once and that was the closest I ever 
came to getting bitten before that night on the river.

He stood over me, his eyebrows crusted with old fluid, his eyes streaming tears 

like ink, his jaw dislocated and hanging, his cheeks puffed out with infection. He 
reached out and hooted gently like an ape. To anyone else it would have been just 
another animal noise from a rotting zombie, but I heard it as clear as anything: 
Caitlin, Caitlin, Caitlin. I had nowhere to go, and he reached for me, brushing my 
hair out of my face. With one bloody thumb he traced a circle onto my forehead, 
like a priest on Ash Wednesday. Caitlin, Caitlin, Caitlin.

His blood was cold. 

- Catherynne M. Valente, " The Days of Flaming Motorcycles

And a great example from Carter can be found here.

a dreamer's wisdom - dr. seuss

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive
who is Youer than You.

- Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You!

By Eden Timm

Monday, October 15, 2012

on writing - virginia woolf

For it would seem - her case proved it - that we write, not with the fingers,
but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself
about every fibre of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver.

- Virginia Woolf, Orlando

By Michaela Coney

Sunday, October 14, 2012

illustration - the well written - catherynne m. valente

I often enjoy fairy tale retellings, especially when a writer completely turns
the story on its head, from an angle of far left field.  "Bones Like Black Sugar"
(Hansel & Gretel years later) by Valente is one of those.  She basically writes
about the phenomenon of victims bonding with their kidnappers through the
medium of fantasy - amazing.  Have a read (link soon to follow) if you haven't
already.  And enjoy some illustrative takes on the tale below.

The moon slashes windows into the black soil, and he sleeps behind me,
sleeps dead and sweat-pooled. My steps grin on the pine needles and I
need no breadcrumbs, never needed breadcrumbs, north into the forest, the
wood, the thicket of breath and branches that pricks my skull hours on hours,
that tangles my lungs in sap and sweet. It is not that I remember where it is,
but my feet have learned no other path than this, this crow-hung track slinking
through the dark. They turn and point with the eagerness of a girl in pigtails,
a girl in braids, a girl with ribbons streaming like oaths behind her.

- Catherynne M. Valente, "Bones Like Black Sugar"

By Heidi Hanninen

By Marie Josee

Friday, October 12, 2012

the well written - daphne du maurier

They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little
cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so
swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word. To-day, wrapped in the
complacent armour of approaching middle age, the infinitesimal pricks of day
by day brush one but lightly and are soon forgotten, but then—how a careless
word would linger, becoming a fiery stigma, and how a look, a glance over a
shoulder, branded themselves as things eternal.

- Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

By Amber Ortolano

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

photo stories - empire state building

Buildings can have personalities of their own - allure, mystery, evils.
The show 666 Park Avenue builds on this premise, as do Millhauser's
"The Barnam Museum" and many of his other stories in Dangerous
Laughter ("The Tower" and "The Other Town").   The lavish houses in
Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby play important roles as well.  The list
goes on and on.  What houses, towers, and skyscrapers play roles in
your stories?

Downtown. Lights on buildings and everything that makes you wonder.
And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.
- Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

By Warhol

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

on reading - gustave flaubert

You forget everything. The hours slip by. You travel in your chair through
centuries you seem seem to see before you, your thoughts are caught up in
the story, dallying with the details or following the course of the plot, you
enter into characters, so that it seems as if it were your own heart beating
beneath their costumes.

- Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

By Olaf Hajek

Monday, October 8, 2012

illustration - eric fortune

Eric's bio describes his work as characters in our world with a touch of
surrealism.  He fits the paintings with emotion through soft lighting and
atmosphere, along with specific and masterful color choices.  They are
tone and emotion, otherworldly portraits even, and while other artists may
paint specific moments, Eric paints the big picture, the essence.

There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.
- Edgar Allan Poe

the well written - angela carter

She gained entry into the world by a mysterious loophole in its metaphysics
and, during her kiss, she sucked his breath from his lungs so that her own
bosom heaved with it.

She sank her teeth into his throat and drained him.  He did not have the time
to make a sound.  When he was empty, he slipped straight out of her embrace
down to her feet with a dry rustle, as of a cast armful of dead leaves, and there
he sprawled on the floorboards, as empty, useless and bereft of meaning as his
own tumbled shawl.

She tugged impatiently at the strings which moored her and out they came in
bunches from her head, her arms and her legs.  She stripped them off her
fingertips and stretched out her long, white hands, flexing and unflexing them
again and again.  She stamped her elegant feet to make the new blood flow
more freely there.

- Angela Carter, "The Loves of Lady Purple"

Pop S/S 2007, Mert & Marcus

Sunday, October 7, 2012

illustration - a pod of mermaids

I recently read Millhauser's short story "Mermaid Fever," found here
at Harper's Magazine for free.  "The Little Mermaid" has been retold many
times (Midnight Pearls by Debbie Viguie, Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon),
and then there was the rumor that Stephanie Meyer was writing a book
on the topic of mermaids.  Anyway, it's interesting to see different authors'
takes on the creatures (Sur La Lune has a list of modern literary
interpretations, short or long, for any who are interested), as it is wonderful
to see different illustrators' treatments below.  Enjoy.

At 5:06 a.m. the body was discovered by George Caldwell, a forty-year-old
postal worker who lived two blocks from the water and was fond of his early-
morning swim. Caldwell found her lying just below the tide line; he thought
she was a teenager who had drowned. The body lay on its side among strings
of seaweed and scattered mussel shells. Caldwell stepped back. He did not
want trouble.  “I thought she was a high school girl,” Caldwell later told a
reporter; we read it in the Listener. “It was still dark out there. I thought she
was wearing some sort of a dress with the top torn off. I could tell she didn’t
look right. I didn’t want to get too close.

- Steven Millhauser, "Mermaid Fever"

There are people all over the world who carry the mermaid inside them, that
otherworldly beauty and longing and desire that made her reach for heaven
when she lived in the darkness of the sea.

- Carolyn Turgeon, Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale

By Steph Holmes

By Sophie Blackall