Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

The first book on writing I ever read – what was yours?

Great re-blog today from Roz Morris :-)

Nail Your Novel

Most of us here probably have a shoal of books about writing craft. Here’s just one of my shelves.

writing bookshelf

But which was the first writing book you ever read?

For me, it was The Craft of Novel-Writing by Dianne Doubtfire. It was a gift from Husband Dave when we first met in 1992. It’s a tiny volume; just 87 pages including the index at the end and throat-clearing at the start. But it has everything you need – theme, viewpoint, planning, setting, characterisation, style, revision.

Dianne Doubtfire Nail Your NovelI flick through it now. At random, I can see sensible advice to use ‘he said’ instead of ‘she gushed’ or ‘he averred’. A section on writing description so the reader remains riveted, with examples from Iris Murdoch and Graham Greene. A paragraph about keeping a notebook beside the bed, including a torch. An explanation of style as ‘a quality as unique as your fingerprints’…

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Writers Who Try Too Hard — “Language Warpers”

Today’s post is about bad similes.

Bad Writing

Image Courtesy of Brenton Nicholls ~

Four of my dictionaries give “simile” these definitions:

“a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind , used to make a description more emphatic or vivid”

“A figure of speech in which a person or thing is described by being explicitly likened to another, usually preceded by as or like”

“A figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another of a different kind , as an illustration or ornament”

“a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared”

Quite similar with interesting variations

I also have four different weather apps, with their own brand of interesting variations (and many days not very similar…) on what kind of weather to expect :-)

The Paris Review has an article called Striking Similes that says:

“’I think that the impulse to find the likeness between unlike things is very basic to us’….Pair this impulse with a desire for novelty—with every writer’s desire, that is, to be the first person ever to make a certain comparison on the page, to connect two previously disparate things—and you can see how even a seasoned writer could have a reach that exceeds his grasp. There’s a thin line between the original and the asinine.”

The article quotes some amazing (weird, out-there, warped) similes from a book called, Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases. <— that link is to a Google Page (you can buy the book or get it free…).

“Useful” Phrases………


I read a lot of folks on Wattpad (part of my book promotion program) and, admittedly, most of them are not “seasoned” writers (still, there are many fine writers); yet, there are quite a few of them who fracture language but still pull me along with their Sense of Story

And, even though some of the Wattpad writers warp things a bit, that article from The Paris Review has more than 40 Extremely Overwrought similes.

I’ll excerpt just the few that really stand out for me:

“A glacial pang of pain like the stab of a dagger of ice frozen from a poisoned well”

“Brute terrors like the scurrying of rats in a deserted attic”

Those are definitely overwrought…

This one’s almost painful:

“Cheeks as soft as July peaches”

Just a few more:

“Each moment was an iridescent bubble fresh-blown from the lips of fancy”

“He snatched furiously at breath like a tiger snatching at meat”

“Her hair dropped on her pallid cheeks, like sea-weed on a clam”

“Like a festooned girdle encircling the waist of a bride”

“Love had like the canker-worm consumed her early prime”

And, some of them “almost” work:

“You are as gloomy to-night as an undertaker out of employment”

So, if you need a course in overwriting, check out that book; and, you might also read the whole article in The Paris Review
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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10 Books that Inspire Kids to Take Action and Change Their World by Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Wonderful Re-blog today :-)

Nerdy Book Club

I’m a librarian in a Primary Years Programme (IB) elementary school that is also a Title 1 school. All students participate in our PYP programme and one of the big take-aways for kids is how to take action. Once you see an issue or a problem in your world, how do you make a difference? I think this idea resonates with many young children who are often great idealists.

I’ve been on a quest to find picture books that show people taking action. I’ve chosen to stay away from big-named leaders. Don’t get me wrong, those big-named leaders did important things, that’s why we remember them. But I want kids to see that little things can also make a big difference.

You don’t have to teach in a PYP school for these picture books to inspire kids. I think teachers and librarians everywhere want to have books available to show…

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Find True Roots.

An author friend of mine from Wattpad wants your opinion on her new tagline and values statement…

Sarah K. L. Wilson

As an indie author, I wear two hats. I’m both an artist and an entrepreneur. Like all entrepreneurs, I’m trying to start my new business up the right way. I’ve been studying branding, and how to explain to other people what you and your business (in this case my books) are all about, so here’s my first kick at the can: a tagline and values statement. What do you think?


I believe fiction can help us find our true roots. It’s my mission to provide you with those kinds of stories in e-book form. Are you ready to dive deep?

Have you tried this? Do you have thoughts or opinions on how to find your ‘whyology’? Drop me a line in the comments!

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CrowdFunding for Authors

CrowdFunding = “…to help bring creative projects to life.”, according to the famous WebSite, KickStarter.

Crowdfunding for Authors

Image Courtesy of Griszka Niewiadomski ~

Here’s a link to info on 9 other crowdfunding sites

Enter Bethany Carlson—“CFA, loves bringing films, books, and other art to life with the power of crowdfunding! Her passion is making yours possible at The Artist’s Partner. Bethany has a B.S. in Applied and Computational Mathematical Sciences with an Emphasis in Economics, with Honors, from the University of Washington, and she is a CFA charter-holder. She is a former NASA researcher and teaches math and physics at Renaissance School.”

She has a book on crowdfunding for authors coming out in October

Jane Friedman gave her space to post an excerpt from the book—Crowdfunding Usually Doesn’t Work for Writers—But It Can.

Here come the excerpts:

“Crowdfunding centralizes and organizes your fan base…”

“Crowdfunding is book marketing boot camp and publication day training…”

“Crowdfunding is not easy money.”

“Crowdfunding is not fast money.”

“Crowdfunding is not free money.”

“Writers fail at crowdfunding more frequently than other creatives….because it requires four skills that most writers do not regularly practice….Brevity….Visual design….Collaboration….Self-promotion…”

“The challenges are real—but they are not insurmountable. Over thirty thousand authors have collectively raised over $100 million for their books.”

On the same day Jane let Bethany post the excerpt, they had an interview—Q&A about Crowdfunding for Authors with Bethany Joy Carlson.

Important first excerpt:

“…Bethany Joy Carlson, owner of  The Artist’s Partner…has helped crowdfund over $110,000 for creative projects, including over $70,000 for books.”

Now, to break with certain “traditions” surrounding how to excerpt, I’ll list only the questions Jane asked Bethany:

*I worry that some authors who are interested in crowdfunding don’t have the proper resources or network in place to run a successful campaign. While I don’t want to be discouraging at the start of this interview (!), are there situations where you advise authors to wait before they start a campaign—to ensure they have some essential components in place?”

* “For an author undertaking their first crowdfunding effort, about how many hours of prep time would you budget, and then how many hours per day during a typical campaign?”

* “You’ve helped your clients successfully raise more than $100,000, and you’ve got the process down to a near science. Your excellent posts on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign elaborate on the number crunching you do beforehand. How much do you think it’s a numbers game?”

* “Okay, moving away from the numbers: I know there’s an art to this as well. What are elements you observe, on the qualitative side, that the author has to bring to the table to help ensure a campaign succeeds?”

* “What tools or resources do you find indispensable for managing a crowdfunding campaign?”

Now, breaking with my own break with excerpt-tradition, here are the bullet points for that last question:

“A good email host.”

“Lots and lots of great pictures of the author’s face—and other faces.”

“Basic image-editing software.”

Each of those do have an additional explanation

So, just from the excerpts (though, if interested, you really need to go read both full articles…) are you up for the challenge?

What if mastering the skills of crowdfunding made the difference between selling lots of books or not selling very many books at all?
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com


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