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

Monday, November 26, 2012

the well written - f. scott fitzgerald

You will walk differently alone, dear, through a thicker atmosphere,
forcing your way through the shadows of chairs, through the
dripping smoke of the funnels. You will feel your own reflection
sliding along the eyes of those who look at you. You are no longer
insulated; but I suppose you must touch life in order to spring from it.

- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender Is the Night

By Emily Humphries

on writing - advice on short stories of all genres

Skill alone cannot teach or produce a great short story, which
condenses the obsession of the creature; it is a hallucinatory presence
manifest from the first sentence to fascinate the reader, to make him
lose contact with the dull reality that surrounds him, submerging him
in another that is more intense and compelling.

I think it is vanity to want to put into a story anything but the story

For me the thing that signals a great story is what we might call its
autonomy, the fact that it detaches itself from its author like a soap
bubble blown from a clay pipe.
- Julio Cortázar, Around the Day in Eighty Worlds

The one test of the really weird (story) is simply this--whether or
not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of
contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed
listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of
outside shapes and entities on the known universe's utmost rim.
- H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature

By Hengki Koentjoro

Sunday, November 25, 2012

photo stories - ralph eugene meatyard

Ralph Eugene Meatyard (1925-1972) made his living as an
optometrist, though you wouldn't know it considering the
stunning and professional hauntedness that is his photography.
His work touches on themes of decay, the world's shadows,
childhood, and young creatures' fates as adults.  His treatment
of the themes was so striking, the poet Guy Davenport said of
Meatyard's work, "They are like short stories that have never
been written."

See if any stir up a story in you.

Why do grown-ups think it's easier for children to bear secrets
than the truth? Don't they know about the horror stories we
imagine to explain the secrets?
- Cornelia Funke, Inkheart

Saturday, November 24, 2012

on reading - salman rushdie

When a reader falls in love with a book, it leaves its essence
inside him, like radioactive fallout in an arable field, and after
that there are certain crops that will no longer grow in him,
while other, stranger, more fantastic growths may occasionally
be produced.

- Salman Rushdie

By Julieta Mora

Friday, November 23, 2012

illustration - corinne reid

Corinne Reid's illustrations are truly amazing.  And a wonderful
thing is that she is inspired by writers' projects as writers can be
inspired by her projects; her illustration Ponies is inspired by Kij
Johnson's short story of the same name.   Have a look and begin
to dream up why buffalo chase wolves, dragons makes sly deals
with frogs, and an empress travels the jungle at night to collect
glow flies.

 I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies,
the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to
say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?
- John Lennon

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

a dreamer's wisdom - harriet tubman

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember,
you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion
to reach for the stars to change the world.

- Harriet Tubman

By Roberto Weigand

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

the well written - hermann hesse

How absurd these words are, such as beast and beast of prey. One
should not speak of animals in that way. They may be terrible
sometimes, but they're much more right than men...They're never
in any embarrassment. They always know what to do and how to
behave themselves. They don't flatter and they don't intrude. They
don't pretend. They are as they are, like stones or flowers or stars
in the sky.

- Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

By Laura Siadak

Monday, November 19, 2012

photo stories - denise grunstein

Denise's photographs are a bit like those of Tim Walker.  The
work of both artists is whimsical, bursting with color, often
mysterious.  I also see Lisa Frank here - a grown up Lisa Frank
complete with mist, creepy masks, and wintered death among
the vibrant saturation.  These photographs beg the question:
what is going on here?  How would you answer?

The answer is dreams. Dreaming on and on. Entering the world
of dreams and never coming out. Living in dreams for the rest of
time.  - Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Sunday, November 18, 2012

on writing - on reading

The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in
order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make
one book.  - Samuel Johnson

If you read good books, when you write, good books will
come out of you.   - Natalie Goldberg

Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to
read them at all.
- Henry David Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

There's nothing wrong with reading a book you love over
and over. When you do, the words get inside you, become a
part of you, in a way that words in a book you've read only
once can't.  - Gail Carson Levine, Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly

You should write because you love the shape of stories and
sentences and the creation of different words on a page.
Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher
of how to write.   - E. Annie Proulx

Read.  Read 1000 pages for every 1 page that you write.
- Sherman Alexie

By Gustavo Almar

Saturday, November 17, 2012

illustration - pablo auladell

Most of Pablo's illustrations are already attached to written words,
but they can easily inspire some great stories with touches of
surrealism, noir, melancholy, the childlike, wild, and mysterious.
All storytellers should be so skillful with color and mood in word
and story structure.

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but
the inner music the words make.  - Truman Capote

Friday, November 16, 2012

on reading - james russell lowell

Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen
from one to another mind.

- James Russell Lowell

By Presley Fox

on writing - short story rejections

Here are ten reasons why David Farland rejects short stories quickly
—usually within the first page:

1.  The story is unintelligible. Very often I’ll get submissions that just
don’t make sense. Often, these seem to be non-English speakers who are
way off in both the meaning of words, their context, or in their syntax,
but more often it’s just clumsiness.

2.  The story is unbelievable. “Johnny Verve was the smartest kid on
earth, and he was only six. He was strongest one, and the most handsome,
too. But the coolest part was when he found out he had magical powers!”
At that point, I’m gone, and not just because there were four uses of
“was” in three sentences.

3.  The author leaves no noun or verb unmodified. Sometimes when an
author is struggling to start a story, he try to infuse too much information
into a sentence: “John rubbed his chapped, dry, sand-covered hands
together grimly, and gazed thirstily over the harsh, red, crusty deserts of
a deserted Mars.” I may put up with one sentence like that in an otherwise
well-written story. You put two of those sentences together on the first
page, and it really bogs a story down.

By Oscar Villan

Thursday, November 15, 2012

from unexpected places - beauty photography

We all know the skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair 
as black as ebony.  Appearances are powerful, even the glittering
ways they can be described, and some rise to icon status like that of
Snow White.  Of course, a character's appearance doesn't have to be
described in such a sharp way, but sometimes doing this can serve a
story.  So what amazing things mark your characters, fantastical,
science fiction-style, or human?  Does he or she have silver at the
inner edges of their eyes?  Gold eyelashes?  Ever-puckered lips?

She seemed, in the drenching light, to be made of gold, honey,
cornsilk; bees, drawn to her scent, clung to the fat braid down her
back.  She covered her face with her hands and shook her head
violently.  Drops of gold fell between her fingers.

- Patricia A. McKillup, In the Forests of Serre

By Boris Ovini, Dahse Mag

Vogue Nippon

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

the well written - cormac mccarthy

He rose and turned toward the lights of the town.  The tide-pools bright
as smelterpots among the dark rocks where the phosphorescent seacrabs
clambered back.  Passing through the salt grass he looked back.  The
horse had not moved.  A ship's light winked in the swells.  The cold
stood against the horse with its head down and the horse was watching,
out there past men's knowing, where stars are drowning and whales
ferry their vast souls through the black and seamless sea.

- Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

A Dutch Etching

a dreamer's wisdom - norman foster

Everything inspires me; sometimes I think I see things others don’t.
- Norman Foster

I recently watched a documentary about the architecture of Norman
Foster entitled, How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?
Foster is an ever-dreamer.  He is said to carry a set of pristine
notebooks and pencils in the trunk of his car for whenever inspiration
hits.  He keeps his mind open, wants the tools of creation to be at his
fingertips at every moment.  His lines are very spare, the narrator
says, but also very expressive.

Don't we seek to write stories of the same description?  Every word,
every sentence should have a purpose.  Cast out the superfluous,
keep only what is sharp, bright, dripping with meaning.  We can
learn from great architects as we learn from each other.

If you would be pungent, be brief; for it is with words as with
sunbeams—the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.
- Robert Southey

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no
unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the
same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a
machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make
all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subject
only in outline, but that every word tell.
- William Strunk and E. B. White

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

on reading - e.m. forster

I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which
we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular
path than we have yet got ourselves.

- E. M. Forster

By Aaron Jasinski

Monday, November 12, 2012

the well written - william faulkner

I could smell the curves of the river beyond the dusk and I saw the
last light supine and tranquil upon tideflats like pieces of broken
mirror, then beyond them lights began in the pale clear air, trembling
a little like butterflies hovering a long way off.

- William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

By Unknown

Saturday, November 10, 2012

illustration - tran nguyen

Tran's paintings bewitch me.  I feel they are metaphors touching
on the weight of an individual on a landscape, a people, which
is exactly what all our short stories and novels try to do.  Each of
these is filled with mood, emotion, even beginnings and endings,
all in a single image.  She uses brushstrokes; we use words.
May we learn from each other.

And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person.
One moment at a time.
- Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing

Friday, November 9, 2012

a dreamer's wisdom - erica jong

Everyone has talent. What's rare is the courage to follow it to
the dark places where it leads.

- Erica Jong

By Madeline

on writing - five bits of advice

Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall
of sleep between the two. This you cannot do without temperance.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t ever write a novel unless it hurts like a hot turd coming out.
- Charles Bukowski

A short story must have single mood and every sentence must build
towards it.  - Edgar Allan Poe

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal- T. S. Eliot

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others
should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with
language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element
in your style.
- Kurt Vonnegut

By Alanna Cavanagh

the well written - steven millhauser

One sunny morning I woke and pushed aside a corner of the blinds. 
Above the frosted, sun-dazzled bottom of the glass I saw a brilliant blue
sky, divided into luminous rectangles by the orderly white strips of
wood in my window.  Down below, the backyard had vanished.  In its
place was a dazzling white sea, whose lifted and immobile waves would
surely have toppled if I had not looked just then.  It had happened
secretly, in the night.  It had snowed with such abandon, such fervor,
such furious delight, that I could not understand how that wildness of
snowing had failed to wake me with its white roar.

- Steven Millhauser, "Snowmen"

By Rikke Skovgaard

Thursday, November 8, 2012

photo stories - ruth thorne-thomsen

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen is a fine art photographer describes her work
as environmental collage, an art she creates using a pinhole camera,
soft focus, and miniature props.  She dreams in myth, surrealism,
and antiquity influenced by literature and philosophy.  My goodness,
all these influences have come together to create such beauty.

The imaginary is what tends to become real.   
- André Breton

Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to
be shackles limiting our vision.  
- Salvador Dali

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

on reading - theodore parker

The books that help you most are those which make you think the most.
The hardest way of learning is that of easy reading; but a great book
that comes from a great thinker is a ship of thought, deep freighted with
truth and beauty.

- Theodore Parker

By Temma

Monday, November 5, 2012

on writing - first pages

Advice on first pages from agent Sarah Heller and author Kim Moritsugu:

1. The purpose of the first page is to engage the reader and thrust them
into the middle of the action.
2. You need to evoke a scene – what are you seeing, hearing, smelling?
Pick a small slice of life and flesh it out through tone and character.
Compel the reader to read more.
3. Set-ups need to lead to pay offs – if you introduce an interesting idea,
finish it.
4. Don’t drown the reader in adjectives. We see this a lot – you do not
have to write this way. Don’t be overly descriptive. Don’t write in ways
that could not happen in life. If your story is magical, that is okay if we
are still getting a sense of what you mean, but some kinds of fanciful
narration interfere with story. Plus, an overuse of adjectives may
indicate that a writer is trying too hard - a sign of being an amateur.

By Laura Alice Watt

on reading - on writing - lisa see

Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.

- Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

By Erika Kuhn

Sunday, November 4, 2012

illustration - breeann veenstra

BreeAnn is a very talented creature creationist - one that us writers
can learn from too.  Growing up, she lived in Wyoming and Michigan,
where she became one of those beings in tune with the magic of
nature, a fact I think is obvious in her illustrations.  According to her
website, she believes in four leaf clovers and wishing on shooting stars
and hopes for all to believe the same.  That spirit and dreamfulness is
visible in her work as well - in and through and all around.

Wish on everything. Pink cars are good, especially old ones. And stars
of course, first stars and shooting stars. Planes will do if they are the
first light in the sky and look like stars. Wish in tunnels, holding your
breath and lifting your feet off the ground. Birthday candles. Baby teeth.

- Francesca Lia Block

a dreamer's wisdom - ayn rand

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the
hopeless swaps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all.
Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for
the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The
world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible..
it's yours.

- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

By Pierre-Alain D. (3MMI Design)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

the well written - arthur conan doyle

Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could
invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really
mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window
hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and
and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange
coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains
of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre
results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen
conclusions most stale and unprofitable.

- Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

By Acris

Friday, November 2, 2012

from unexpected places - fairy tale posters

These are designed by Christian JacksonPosters like these 
always challenge me to try it the other way:  If one of these was
an image of a partially peeled orange, what would be the story?
What the pictured element was a heart-shaped patch of blue
plaid fabric?  Or prison bars, two of them painted yellow?  

Christian's thoughts on creativity:  "When I have creative idea it
will nag at me until I give it some attention.  So I express it, then I
move on to something else.  Sometimes it works out in my favor
(like this poster series) and sometimes it's just nonsense.  I take
every idea that I have seriously.  Nothing is too small because, in
my mind, there is no such thing as a small idea, only ones that 
have yet to be fully realized." (Via MyModernMet)