Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

“The Woman Who Read Too Much”

The Woman Who Read Too Much - Bahiyyih Nakhjavani

Bahiyyih Nakhjavání, Author of “The Woman Who Read Too Much”

Because of my feelings of the importance of the book I talk about in this post, I’m leaving it up here at the top of the blog for three days ( tell your friends—writers and readers :-)


On July 19th and 20th, 1848, there was, in Seneca Falls, N.Y., USA, the Woman’s Rights Convention, led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, which produced the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions

However, just a bit earlier, in late June and early July, 1848, in the country of Iran, there was the Conference of Badasht, at which a woman named Táhirih removed her veil, symbolizing a clear break with the past and ushering in the age of women’s equality

I can remember reading about Táhirih and the conditions of Iran (then called Persia) in the mid-1800s in the book, The Dawn-Breakers

There was unrestrained turmoil because of the birth of a new consciousness of the purpose of humanity and how that should be expressed in society

But, Dawn-Breakers was a history book.

The Woman Who Read Too Much, by Bahiyyih Nakhjavání, is a novel based on the few indisputable facts we have about the life of Táhirih.

A Kirkus review of the book said:

“Nakhjavani deftly transforms an incomplete history into legend.

“An ambitious effort produces an expertly crafted epic.”

The Guardian, (in a more complete review) said:

“It is, of course, a male society in which women have found ways to manipulate policies and influence the course of events, but from the shadows of the anderoun, the women’s section of the palace. In this, Táhirih stands almost alone as ‘the Woman Who Read Too Much’, her acquired art granting her access to knowledge and her knowledge the courage to speak. Táhirih marvellously exemplifies the power of the reader, and the fear this power elicits in those placed in positions of authority.”

I’ll excerpt just a bit from the book itself.

About the men, when Táhirih removed her veil, at the Conference of Badasht:

“They found themselves listening to her at the same time as seeing words form on her lips. They discovered themselves reading the lineaments of her face even as they heard her talk. And they saw gardens and rivers flowing from her mouth, as she spoke, with breath-taking eloquence, of paradise.”

And, about the women Táhirih spoke to, in the female section of a residence, during a marriage celebration:

“Everyone was intoxicated by that rose-red voice floating out on the air. Everyone was drunk on the wine of the words of the poetess of Qazvin.

“The women became pensive after that. They stopped dreaming of being brides and imagined being in love. They ceased thinking of themselves as wives and pondered what it meant to be human beings. They no longer chewed on gossip but hungered for the possibility of truth. They clucked, they swayed on their haunches, they argued for days about whether or not the poetess had actually named her Beloved, and why she had given a book to a bride. They disagreed over everything about her.

“But though those who heard her speak never forgot her, none remembered precisely what she said.”

And, a bit from Bahiyyih Nakhjavání in the Afterword of her novel:

“I wrote a fiction inspired by the life of Tahirih rather than a biography based on her life because literature allows for contrary interpretations to exist simultaneously.”

“Foreign diplomats, travellers, and scholars wrote of her. Sarah Bernhardt even commissioned a play about her. Her ideals were taken up enthusiastically in Austria and the Netherlands, in America, in Russia, and in France, and aspects of her life have been turned into poems, plays, tapestries…”

“[The book’s] chronology has been reversed in order to trace the links between her prophetic words and the men who held power over her contemporaries.”

And, because of what I feel is the importance of this book—for women (and, men...) and for all writers—here’s a talk by Bahiyyih Nakhjavání about how and why she wrote The Woman Who Read Too Much:

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Beta Readers

I almost did a post today about IndieAuthorFringe; but, upon examination found it pandering to “commercial success” — However, whether you crave “success” or not, getting a bit of help from early readers can be Gold — hence, this Wonderful re-blog :-)

Lit World Interviews

Not all writers use beta readers, and not all writers offer their services as beta readers, but both of these things can serve as a huge help in our writing. Looking at it from the writer’s side first, it’s important to know what it is that you’d like your beta reader to do for your story, if there is anything in particular that you do want. Don’t be shy to ask if you suspect a weakness in any area.

In general, as well as glaring plot holes and so on, your beta reader will spot things like continuity problems, or hair that started out blonde and suddenly changed to auburn half way through the story. These are big deal issues for your future readers and often things that we miss because of our closeness to the story. For the same reason, we may leave out crucial descriptive passages or backstory…

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One word at a time

Many folks have challenges (similar to the writer of todays’ re-blog) when it comes to writing…

The solution, once found (and, at times, re-found multiple times…) is simple…

Live to Write - Write to Live

A beach, the waves and a orange and pink setting sun in Hawaii I took this in Hawaii two years ago. I keep it handy because it reminds me to breathe deep.

I don’t like to whine, but I do like to keep it real.

I am having a creative crisis.

I think I’ve mostly worked through it, but there are still days …

As I’ve mentioned before, like most of us, I do not write full time. I am a caregiver, and I work in marketing and communications for a boutique technology firm, that specializes in digital signage for airports. And, I write personal essays and fiction.

I finished the first draft of my novel a little over a year ago. YAY! I knew when I finished it that there were more holes than a fishing net, but I was okay with that. I gave myself another year to finish the second and third drafts. I had goals, a schedule and deadlines.

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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Thirty-Five

Such a Lovely Revolution

Alexander M Zoltai


The planet was close to its rather small, red star—“tidally locked”, with one side always facing the light.

People took vacations, mostly, by going to the night side; and, of course, all the astronomers lived there.

Those who never went to the darkness were apt to contract some strange mental alterations…

One of those who never vacationed in the darkness happened to become the ruler of the strongest country on the day-lit side.

He’d been mostly concerned with seeking ways to lessen the financial woes of his fellow citizens—not many people thought he’d be elected the ruler…

Folks went around feeling like the darkness had begun to infiltrate their side of the planet.

There were new bills that encouraged people to resettle in the hemisphere they weren’t born in.

There were enactments of rules for the sharing of wealth.

People were becoming so confused, and acting so strange, it almost became necessary to enforce rather strict curfews…

Luckily, the ruler of the strongest country convinced all the other countries to institute a world-wide, light/dark unification treaty—to become, truly, one world.

Many folks thought he should just, finally, visit the dark side—stop such deranged behavior…

But, just about five years after the treaty took hold—after things had fully calmed down—the planet began to spin…


Read More Story Bazaar Tales

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E-Book Publishing ~ An Update from Jane Friedman

This is the 45th post on this blog dealing with the ideas and opinions of Jane Friedman; and, yes, it’s not my normal Thursday Re-blog :-)

Jane, on her About Page, says this:

“I earn my living as an entrepreneur and freelancer; my goal is to be truly independent of any obligation to an employer, business, or organization….My income is driven largely by my own writing and teaching, as well as consulting services for writers, and I consider my interests to be aligned with writers’ interests.”


Her blog post—How to Publish an Ebook: Resources for Authors—is an unbiased yet informed set of guidelines and resources.

She begins the post with this:

“About the only thing that remains constant in ebook publishing is that it changes—everything from the services to marketing strategies. Here, I regularly update best resources I know of related to learning to publish an ebook, finding the right e-publishing distributors and services, and staying on top of changes in the industry.”

Here are her section titles (most are followed by copious links...):

Creating Basic Ebook Files
Creating Enhanced, Multimedia, or Full-Color Ebooks
Choosing Your Ebook Retailers and Distributors
Optimizing Your Product Page and Description
Sales, Marketing, and Promotion
Giveaways and Discounts
Getting Reviews
Facebook Strategies
Advertising and Other Monetary Investments in Book Marketing
Excellent Book-Length Guides on Self-Publishing
To Find Freelance Help
Great Sites That Cover Self-Publishing and Ebook Publishing
News & Trends About Ebook Publishing

I should add that many of the services she links to are beyond the reach of a pension-poor writer like me; though, folks in the “middle class” {do we still have one?} will find them moderately priced
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