Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Emily Giffin

Technology and Creative Writing ~ Can They Play Nice?

Starting with some questions today:

Have there been any technologies since the Gutenberg press that completely changed creative writing?

Were there any technologies before the Gutenberg press that completely changed creative writing?

What’s your favorite technology that seems to help you (or a friend) do creative writing?

Which technology has a negatively disruptive effect on creative writing?

This post can’t promise to answer those questions but might give a few hints

Still, you might feel like answering a few of them in the Comments :-)

The New York Times Sunday Book Review recently had an article called, Writing Bytes, with comments about technology by a bunch of writers (short excerpts follow but do go read the full article):

MARGARET ATWOOD: “Your practice test: Rewrite Edgar Allan Poe’s story ‘The Purloined Letter’, using present-day communications technology. In the original, a ‘letter’, made of ‘paper’, written in ‘ink’, and bearing a ‘seal’,’ was disguised as an inferior letter and hidden in plain view. The letter needed to be invisible to searchers, but close at hand so it could be quickly produced when needed.”

CHARLES YU: “I entered college in 1993 and graduated in 1997. Halfway through, the Internet became a thing. Netscape said: ‘Here you go, here’s a door to a brand-new place in the existence of the universe. We just started letting people in. Go ahead, it’s fun. It’ll keep getting bigger for the rest of your life. Also, you can change stuff in it. You get to make up new rules for everything — thinking, remembering, communicating.’”

MARISHA PESSL: “The trouble with technology is that it eradicates a character’s ability to be lost, and it’s the state of being in the dark and the journey toward understanding that has given rise to the greatest stories ever written.”

TOM McCARTHY: “The argument that the advent of the Internet somehow marks a Telecom Year Zero after which nothing will ever be the same can be made only by ignoring the actual history of literature.”

RAINBOW ROWELL: “‘Twenty years from now, you’ll look back on the first time you fell in love, and nothing will seem more romantic than text messages. Or Snapchat. Or whatever it is you’re doing right now behind your parents’ backs.’”

DANA SPIOTTA: “I’m interested in how an actual phone call has become a grotesquely intimate thing, almost jarring. We want immediacy with an end run around certain kinds of intimacy.”

FREDERICK FORSYTH: “I am an unashamed dinosaur; I still seek out a plot-driven narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end — the last reached after a steadily accelerating cadence. As to research, I eschew virtually all online fact searching because so much is either rubbish or inadequate.”

DOUGLAS COUPLAND: “I think the Internet has eroded 19th- and 20th-century notions of a person’s life being ‘a story’, or the notion that one’s life needs to be ‘a narrative’. Instead we increasingly seem to be seeing ourselves as just one more unit among seven billion other units.

TRACY K. SMITH: “…I remember ‘The Waste Land’, and I begin to feel that the Internet has simply succeeded in reinvigorating a set of ambitions and capacities that have been available to poets for a very long time.”

EMILY GIFFIN: “Technology and gadgetry inevitably filter into my stories, but I don’t believe that such advances, even those that usher in huge cultural shifts, fundamentally change how a story is conceived and constructed.”

ANDER MONSON: “I am drawn mostly, insistently to the human voice. How powerful and necessary the solo voice, the experience of being someone, something else for a little while. This is and will remain literature’s killer app, the thing most impervious to threat by everything that’s not the word.”

ELLIOTT HOLT: “…when I decided to write a story on Twitter, I embraced the particulars of the form. I created three different characters and set up three fake accounts, then tweeted in their voices.”

VICTOR LaVALLE: “In the past a writer had to go outside and get to know others before learning about their work, but the Internet has made humanity more accessible for misanthropes like me.”

LEE CHILD: “…technology hasn’t changed my narrative approach at all.”

MEG CABOT: “I often wonder which popular social messaging platform will become the new abandoned playground of the Internet, so I try to avoid mentioning them by name to keep the book from seeming too dated.”

TAO LIN: “I don’t think technology can have an unavoidable, nonlocal, non-trendy effect on storytelling until it allows humankind to join a kind of Overmind — to attain some form of ‘total identification’.”

A. M. HOMES: “…the fact of the novel, the intimacy of reading has not changed, be it in print or on e-readers. The act of reading is one to one, the connection between author and audience goes deeper than an avatar or invented other can defend. The novel speaks to us quietly and stays with us even as we sleep.”

You might also want to read the comments on that article (40 when I checked)
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Author Interview ~ Nova Sparks

I’m registered with a site called Blog Tour which has the slogan: “Authors need to be seen. Blogs need content.”

I met Nova Sparks on the site and we set up an interview for her. Let’s get it going :-)

Nova, where are you from and how old are you?

I’m from the Bronx in NYC. My age is a secret. But, I will say I’m in my twenties. I’m twenty-something.

When did you begin writing and can you remember how it felt inside back then?

The farthest back I can remember starting to write was when I was about 6 or 7 yrs old. My mom bought me a diary because that was the cool thing back then. Instead of writing about the things that happened to me, I made everything up. My mother snuck into my room and found it and read it. She yelled at me for being a liar but realized that I had a knack for story-telling.


Was there any certain date or time you remember when you began to either think of yourself as or call yourself a “writer”?

Ever since I can remember, everyone has been calling me a writer but I never believed it myself. I’ve always been writing. Even when I was in high school, I wrote my friend’s papers for school so they could get a good grade. The thing about me is that I hate doing what people expect of me. Everyone wanted me to be a writer and I tried to pretend I wasn’t interested in it. Everyone thought I was going to be a musician and wanted me to go to college for music, I went for Urban Planning. I pissed everyone off all my life, all while secretly writing TV shows and movie treatments hoping to be a screen or TV writer. I read somewhere that people should be willing to do what they love doing for free. I realized I’ve been writing all my life, every chance I got. When I finally let a few family members read my treatments, they thought the story was really great. And they are brutally honest so I had no choice but to believe them. I thought I’d give it a shot. It took a while to realize that I was good at writing and an even longer time to start calling myself a writer. I think when I finally say it out loud, my family will say “We told you so” and I hate when people say that.


What are your hopes, or dreams, or goals for your writing?

My biggest goal is to see my book series turned into a movie. I started off trying desperately to get my first story the DOME on HBO and that failed. Now that the first book is out and I changed it up a bit, I realize that I would love to see it on the big screen instead of the little screen. That is my BIG dream. My small dream is just to be known. I want my stories to be interesting and innovative and I want people to read my stories and know my stories. I don’t even care if they know my name. As long as they know my stories, I’ll be fine. I wouldn’t mind at all if someone says, “I love the DOME trilogy by that girl.” I would love that!

Sounds like a very healthy attitude to me

Have you had any “formal” training in the art of writing?

The only thing I can say is that I took one creative writing class in high school. My strong suit is story creation. I’m pretty good at spelling and formulating a clear sentence, but no one is perfect. I make mistakes sometimes. I edited my first novel because I was on a $0 budget and some people have spotted a few grammatical errors. But I’m human and I’m woMAN enough to admit those mistakes. I’m just happy it’s a few and not a TON.

Hey, with my recently published book, even after me and the editor and a number of other authors had gone over the manuscript a number of times, the printed book still came out with a few typos

What do you feel has taught you the most about “how to write”?

Definitely reading other stories. I try my best not to read a lot of books in my own genre because I strongly believe that, no matter what, you can’t ignore what you’ve read and you may just unknowingly copy a concept from another writer all while really believing you made it up on your own. I’ve read a few urban fantasy romance novels and I’ve learned from them. I try not to write the usual story. I know for a fact that there are a gazillion vampire books out there and it’s really difficult to come up with a new concept for a vampire novel. I’m going to try to stay away from that. I decided my first book should be in the sci-fi genre because that’s my first love. I’m definitely not into Hard sci-fi and my book isn’t Hard sci-fi. I like to watch a lot of movies but I do think I’m a little weird. I love sci-fi but don’t ask me anything about it because I try not to learn other writer’s styles. I love the paranormal and I watch a lot of paranormal films and TV shows but I try not to read a lot of paranormal books because I don’t want the concept to be in my subconscious and write a whole book on a stolen idea.
Believe it or not, I learn the most from romance novels and mystery novels. Even though my books are mostly sci-fi/paranormal urban fantasy, there is always a mystery and romance. I’m a huge sucker for romance.


Who are your favorite writers and why are they favorites?

I can say that my favorite writer is Emily Giffin. I’ve read all of her books and I love how well she can pull you in and make you beg for more. My other favorite author is super new. He has only published the first book in his Leech series. It’s called Caleo and its book 1. It’s gay YA fantasy. It’s definitely one of my favorite reads and I can’t wait for book 2. Really…

Hmmm… Maybe you’ll mention his name in the comments, eh? :-)

Where and/or how do you get your ideas for your writing?

I always think of what I would love to see or read. I try my best not to take any ideas from any other author or screenwriter. I’m a huge advocate for original ideas. It is a little difficult to do because who in their right mind wouldn’t jump on a popular concept? If the whole world was going witch crazy, why not write a book about witches? For me it’s a little different. I look at the popular concept and think of what can I do that is totally different from that, without knocking myself out of the box.

I find that attitude very refreshing, Nova…

What is your normal revision or editing routine?

Lol. Because I edit my books, it’s hard for me to find mistakes I’ve made if I’ve been looking at it for weeks at a time. Because of that, I force myself not to look at my book for about 5-10 days and when I finally look at it, I find a lot of mistakes I’ve missed. I recommend that for a lot of self-publishing writers who have a very small budget. BUT I also recommend getting a professional editor to look at your work as well. Someone affordable but good at what they do. It is impossible to find all the mistakes in your own work. Believe me, when I first published I thought I weeded out all my mistakes. I was wrong. But I will say that I weeded out A LOT of the mistakes.

I traded an English Grad student an acknowledgement in the book for editing; still… those typos showed up…

So, you indicated you’re published……

YES!!! I am published and it’s soooo surreal! I’ve been secretly dreaming of this day all of my life and it’s here. I published my first book the DOME (the DOME trilogy #1) in the beginning of May and it has been getting some really positive reviews so far. I never thought I’d see the day. Book 2 in the DOME trilogy is called the DOME revelation and it is scheduled to be released mid to late July for Kindle and Nook. Paperback will be released soon after.

Please, Nova, tell us about your books…

My first book series the DOME trilogy is my baby. It is the first TV show treatment I wrote and is the one I pushed the most when trying to get it picked up. Here is the synopsis:

What if you knew the exact date and time the world will end, what would you do? Sam Tucker was faced with that dilemma when he began getting visions of the Earth’s demise. Luckily for him, he was able to save his family and as many people as he could before the tragic event occurred, and he did so with the help of unknown visitors. With Earth now destroyed, Sam, his family, and thousands of other lucky survivors must live the rest of their lives on a faraway planet in a Dome that simulates life on Earth. But Sam’s mind can’t seem to rest as a few questions arise. Why did the aliens save them? How did they know about Earth’s sure fate? And exactly what are they hiding?

Emma Tucker begged for an escape from her boring life but never in a million years did she think it would come at the destruction of Earth. Living on a new planet and finding it difficult to get rid of her rebellious habits, Emma finds herself making friends with a member of the alien race and it soon develops into an unexplainable love; a love that is more dangerous than she could ever imagine. While her father is searching for his own truths, she has no idea that she is stumbling on a truth of her own.

Told from the point of view of both Sam and Emma, I take readers on a journey to discover love, fate, faith, truth, and the mystery of the DOME!

Seems you got that originality rule of yours woven tightly into the book :-)

Can you go into the “purpose” of the series?

I wanted to write stories where humans are taken out of their comfort zone and forced to recreate what it means to be human. Too many times have I’ve read a book or seen a movie or TV show where aliens come to Earth and invade or there is a UFO sighting. I wanted to write a story where humans are taken from Earth and have to live on an alien planet with nothing but their memories to start over with. It really forces humans to figure out what really makes them human; and, is it all worth fighting for? It really makes us look at ourselves through the eyes of another species.

I really hope this trilogy shines light on the human potential and the human purpose. I really believe that we are a ridiculously cocky and arrogant race of people and we are never really shown how small and insignificant we are in the larger spectrum of things. But at the same time, I want this book to show how rare and precious we are as well. I thought of this whole concept while staring up at the night sky outside my window which I do for 2 hrs straight every night before going to sleep. The night sky really reminds us of how small we are and how much world there is out there that we haven’t even touched yet. The morning sky doesn’t have the same effect as the night sky. The night sky is the open window to the universe.

A nightly deep-sky meditation… How cool!

Thank you, so much, Nova, for taking the time for this interview!!
Folks, here are some links for Nova :-)

Her Blog

The DOME for Kindle

Now it’s time to leave a few comments for Nova :-)
And, do check out Nova’s Second Interview here
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
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