Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Australia

Our Blog Conversation Stays Focused on Truth in Fiction


Some may feel that “truth” and “fiction” are eternal opposites… Truth in Fiction

Yet, readers can, regularly, consume a book of fiction and come away feeling they’ve learned something profoundly true about life…

This past Wednesday’s post was the beginning of our exploring this apparent truth about fiction—Our Blog Conversation Takes a Turn toward Truth. . .

You may want to check it out before finishing this post…

Back already? :-)

O.K., here are the two comments on that past post—one from the U.K. and one from Australia—both from authors:

U.K.:

“If I didn’t put truth in my books I’d have nothing to write about. Of course one adapts the truth to fit a story; but, who hasn’t used a remembered place or situation, or even a character in their fiction? I believe even if an author writes fantasy they still use attitudes remembered from real life. My readers often ask if a character in my novels is really me and there are bits of me and my experiences in every book. Truth and imagination are blended in fiction, just as they are in drama.

“I’m told my books read like a ‘soap’ and take that as a compliment, not a criticism.”

Australia:

“I believe that fiction does always have a core of truth – But what does ‘core of truth’ mean? For me ‘truth’, in this sense, means an authentic voice and an emotional centre whose logic rings true. I don’t think the truth we are talking about here is the same as ‘it actually happened in reality’….A Hobbit did not take the ring to Mordor at any time we can remember in real life; but, the whole story resonates with an emotional, mythological and spiritual Truth – which is why we read it.

“Many writers, I believe, start with the grain of some small fact which they fictionalise into some larger world of even greater truth.”

Each of those comments say a lot about truth and fiction; but, I’ll only emphasis a bit of both…

U.K.:

“Truth and imagination are blended in fiction, just as they are in drama.”

This statement rings many bells for me:

I was already completely convinced that fiction has a truth about it; and, I now also realize that even a play about real life is a staged fiction that still speaks truth…

Australia:

“A Hobbit did not take the ring to Mordor at any time we can remember in real life; but, the whole story resonates with an emotional, mythological and spiritual Truth – which is why we read it.”

I’m glad the idea of Mordor was summoned—I’ve often felt I was approaching the place; yet, to be reminded we read fiction to discover the truths within it is comforting

What are your thoughts on this topic?

What are your feelings about it?

Care to share in the comments?
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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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Our Blog Conversation Stays in the Realm of Charming and Surprising Books


Last Wednesday we had the post, Our Blog Conversation Takes a Delightful Turn . . ., and it garnered two comments—one from Maryland in the USA and one from Melbourne, Australia…

Pop-up books

Painting by Hokusai

I wasn’t sure if talking about pop-up books would bring any conversational comments; but, I was delighted that both have valuable links included :-)

So…

from Maryland:

“This conversation reminded me of an essay I once bookmarked in Library School…
(A Concise History of Pop-up and Movable Books) by Ann Montanaro

“Also it reminded me of a quote that is on the wall in the visiting room at the prison I work at. It is placed where inmates sometimes get to read to their children or watch them interact with Pop-up Books:
Books help give children a leg up on the ladder of life‘.
Children’s book editor Janet Schulman (1998)”

Then, Australia:

“I have tried very hard to remember if I had a pop-up book as a child. I have a very strong sense that I did have one but I cannot remember what it was. I remember opening a book, and watching its pop up dimensions unfold – perhaps I was looking at a building, something ancient like the Globe Theatre in Shakespeare’s times but I cannot confirm this. The feeling of loss that I had thinking about this led me to do some research on pop-up books in the hope that one would leap off the page as the one that I was acquainted with. Alas none did, but I came across some very interesting examples, which I wish I had owned. One was a pop-up book of the works of Hokusai, the Japanese artist. I would really like to own this book.

“As I was finishing my research, I realised that I had read a kind of ‘pop-up’ book as an adult and had gifted it to quite a few small children. It is a delightful book and you may know of it: ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar‘ by Eric Carle. Wikipedia says that this book has sold 30 million copies worldwide and that ‘it has been described as having sold the equivalent of a copy per minute since its publication in 1969.’ It is the story of a caterpillar who eats his way through the book, then grows into a pupa, which then transforms into a butterfly. Educational but boring you may think? No, magical and transformative for a reader of any age. This is not just a book that pops up but it is also extruded. The book is full of holes left by the caterpillar as it eats it way through the pages :-)

“I finally realised that perhaps now we have a new kind of ‘pop-up’. Ever seen an orrery on your computer or tablet? Or, the version of Alice in Wonderland? Wonderful stuff….Let’s hope today’s children remember these 3D stories when they are old :-)”

Well… 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar seemed somehow familiar; so, I searched this blog and found the book referenced in two past posts:

Would You Like A Hand-Annotated, First Edition of An Acclaimed Book?

What Are Humanity’s Most Popular Books?

So, dear reader, would you like to continue this conversation about Charming and Surprising Books with a comment of your own?

Or, would you rather comment about a different topic we can discuss {in the realms of Reading, Writing, or Publishing}?

Either way, your comments are Welcomed :-)
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Our Conversation Moves through Grammar toward Learning and Magic . . .


We’ve been having a conversation on this blog for 5 of the last 16 days—every Monday and Wednesday… Blog Conversations

The last go-round went into the shades of meaning of two phrases and how they lend themselves to explaining different approaches to our experience of reading.

I ended up saying:

Reading, with concentration and empathy, will help you escape into books as well as escaping with books—you can live inside the book; and, you can internalize the book’s world to help shield you from
“The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…

Which lead on to two comments, the first from Australia, the second from England (I’m over here in the U.S.A.…):

“The only grammar I learnt at school came from learning a foreign language. I learnt how to write by reading a lot and then under the care of a wonderful teacher, who, every day of my school life, asked for a paragraph of creative prose from each member of the class. We always wrote it in class and then read out what we had written. One day a student stood up and asked: ‘Why do you make us write such unhappy pieces?’ The teacher smiled and said: ‘I have never given you any topic to write about. You have written what you are feeling.’ It was true: we were confused adolescents. We escaped into our own little worlds and the rest of the class escaped into the small worlds we had created…we had never heard of transitive or intransitive :-)”

“I suppose I knew about transitive and intransitive when I did A level English but those phrases about books can be interpreted just as well without understanding grammar. After a while some readers just seem able to feel how to write, and read, without knowing too much grammar, which is why the new emphasis on grammar rules in Junior School English is a waste of time. By all means teach punctuation and discuss nouns, adjectives and adverbs, but what else do most people need? I agree with reciting tables (and poetry). Children will find that useful when, like me, they have forgotten most of the grammar they learned at school.”

So, before I add to the conversation proper, I’ll explain the title of this post—Our Conversation Moves through Grammar toward Learning, and Magic . . .

I got “learning” and “magic” from the etymology of Grammar:

“late 14c., ‘Latin grammar, rules of Latin’, from Old French gramaire ‘grammar; learning’, especially Latin and philology, also ‘(magic) incantation, spells, mumbo-jumbo'”

So…

Both of those comments (from Australia and England) came from accomplished authors…

The first noting that grammar was only an experience related to learning a foreign language and the second putting grammar in the closet of things not worth a tremendous amount of attention…

I’ve even heard, from an English teacher in college, that the grammar we use in English is taken directly from Latin—weird, eh?

Yet, the first commenter brought up a glowing remembrance of writing creative paragraphs (an implied use of grammar) and the second made reference to understanding the structure of language by Feel, through experiencing it, while forgetting any grammar learned…

I am certain there are folks who spent many hours of their lives studying grammar, and continue to think about it for hours, and use what they learned and pondered—building a written piece from its bare skeleton out—applying the flesh as a mere necessity to hold the bones…

And, there are a flock of folks who are somewhere between that last group and our two accomplished authors…

Then, there are the crowd who one might call language fundamentalists—blowing themselves up in public over rigid ideas of what words are for…

Sure, there are some who write things poorly—concatenations nearly impossible to read—swerving all over the highway of meaning…

And, finally, those who put words down because something Magic, deep inside, moves them to relate creations that can enspell us into other worlds…

So, from confused and sad adolescents, pouring out their hearts, paragraph after paragraph, to those who’ve “forgotten” their “grammar” yet still tell stories—moving through Grammar toward Learning and Magic…

By the way, my favorite definition of Magic, from the Oxford Dictionary of English is:

very effective in producing the desired results

I’m sure I’ll eventually move away from so much etymologizing…

Still, once again, we’ve had some sort of “conversation” here…

And, if you feel like adding your thoughts and/or feelings to it, do, please, leave a comment :-)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

April Fools ?


Rather than my normal re-blog today, I’m sharing something from Smashwords.

April Fool's Day

Image Courtesy of Michelle Dennis ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/saine-39175

However, before I share that, I must reveal a particular confluence of my writing and my gullibility

Yesterday, I published the Thirty-Seventh Tale on my Friday Feature, “Story Bazaar”.

It was called “Alternative Facts”that title echoing something that became an “issue” here in the USA (and, I’m sure, a few other countries…—and, in case you missed it, here’s a bit of news coverage…)

Also yesterday, as I often do, I sent my Best Friend, who lives in Australia, a link to a story from one of her newspapers.

It claimed the Mayor of Melbourne was instituting a policy to keep Daylight Saving Time going in the Central Business District to increase financial benefits

It turned out to be an April Fools’ prank that totally took me in (and, if you’re wondering, it is true that Australia gets to any given day sooner than I do…)

So, when I put those two things I did together, I get this weird formula:

Alternative Facts ?=? April Fools

And, all that leads me to the hard-hitting article from Smashwords—Fahrenheit 451 Meets April Fools—read it and ponder

I’ll give you one excerpt to entice you to take the link:

“What does it portend for civil society and humanity when willful ignorance is celebrated above facts?

“As authors and readers, we should care. Books are the best vehicles for deep thinking. We authors have the power – one book at a time – to right this wayward ship.  We readers have a responsibility to demand truth telling.”

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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…
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A Few More Reasons to Consider #SelfPublishing


This will make the 148th post I’ve done about “Self-Publishing”.

To see all the others, find the word in the Top Tags widget (down a bit in the left side-bar…)—you’ll see this post there, too, since I’ve tagged it with “Self-Publishing” :-)

So, a few more reasons to consider this “new” (it’s been around since the ’90s…) way to publish

You may not have noticed that traditional publishers are floundering all over the place to “adjust” to the economic realities of the BookWorld.

You also may not have noticed that governments around the world are flailing about, nearly helpless to stop the global economy from unravelling.

About the only thing that’s positive about these situations is that the economies of most countries all depend on one another—unified whether they like it or not—so the “leaders” might just work out some solutions

It’s times like these that breed individualistic activity

Two cases that boldly highlight these issues are in Australia and Israel.

The Australian government has recently attempted to change the traditionally published authors’ protections—witness this articleCall for Clarity on Copyright.

I believe the government may have backed down but the situation is still a sign of the times.

Just one excerpt from that article:

“The government risks seriously damaging an Australian book market that generates $2b in revenue per annum – a healthy, competitive and unsubsidised creative industry — with its unproven plan to abolish the right to buy a licence to publish and market a book in Australia.”

Now, the situation in Israel

Amid Controversy, Israel Repeals Its Fixed Price ‘Book Law’

Again, just one excerpt:

“…the law resulted in a large increase in the price of new titles along with a subsequent decline in sales. Publishers say that while book sales overall fell by 20 percent, sales of newly published books–which fell under the law’s restriction on discounts–declined by as much as 60 percent…”

Something to consider:

As long as there are still governments and economic systems and global communication, self-publishing is “relatively” immune to governmental malfeasance—and, I should add, as long as governments don’t shut-down companies like Amazon and FastPencil and Smashwords and many other outlets for self-published books.

For instance:

I published my novel through FastPencil (though you can grab a free copy Here…).

FastPencil distributed it to Amazon, Ingram, Barnes & Noble, and Apple.

Primarily because it appeared on Amazon, it was picked up by retailers in many other countries, with FastPencil and I not lifting our fingers—just a function of the global economy.

Even in Australia, where they apparently have various restrictions on books from other countries, my book is available on AmazonAustralia

The main point is that my book is as open to not being available as traditionally published books, IF society in general unravels a lot more; but, if it can hold itself at its present wobbly level of functioning, self-published books are more immune from government interference than traditionally published books.

Do be aware, I’m not trying to present a “well-reasoned” “case” for the dangers of traditional publishing—just presenting a few situations that seem, to me, to indicate the worth of investigating self-publishing.

The only thing I can’t do in this post is predict the future………
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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…
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* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com