Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: Jessica Bell

What’s To Be Done About Banned Books?


There’s a certain 15-year-old, Amaranthia Sepia Gittens-Jones, who “…attended Pal and Nischimachi International Schools, Tokyo, Japan…”. “By age eight Amaranthia declared her purpose to become an artist. By age 12 she was awarded a full scholarship at Kimball Jenkins Art School, Concord, New Hampshire, USA.”

Baned Books

Image by Christian Ferrari ~ http://christian-ferrari.blogspot.com/

She’s written a guest post on Jessica Bell‘s blog, The Artist Unleashed, called Why Books Should Not Be Banned.

Certainly, some folks who think particular books should be banned might stop reading right here, or read further and engage in rant-mode.

And, some people who think no books should be banned may not much care about a young person’s opinion on the subject—possibly reasoning that kids want freedoms just because they’re young

Let me share some excerpts from Amaranthia’s post (hoping you’ll go read the whole post…):

Talking about the Harry Potter series and quoting another author—“‘Some religious groups feel that these books steer children away from God and the church.’—she goes on to say, “Should books be banned and ostracized for themes that people can enjoy and learn from?”

Then, she immediately expands her position:

“I believe banned books should be shown to children to educate them about censorship and themes that are seen as inappropriate to certain demographics….If these themes are explained to children, it could inform them about the viewpoint of groups who believe in censoring, and grant them an awareness of a story that may benefit them before they read.”

She then brings up Huckleberry Finn

And, including a quote from a professor at Franklin Pierce University, she says, “If we only study what we agree with,’our world becomes smaller’.”

Amaranthia next shares a quote from the American Library Association:

“A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.”

One of her closing remarks is:

“Banned books can be used to teach students ethics, the blunders of the past, and the mindset of former generations.”

I’ll leave it to you to find out about the quote she shares from American President Abraham Lincoln
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Are You An Aspiring Writer?


Naturally, folks who’ve already been published could consider themselves aspiring writers.

Aspiring Writers

Image Courtesy of Rae Grimm ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/bloodylery

Looking at the word origins of “aspire” in my Oxford English Dictionary, I find “to breathe before”

So, even though a person writing their first book is usually considered an aspiring writer, I certainly need to breathe (a lot) before I write my seventh book :-)

And, to make even more sense of this aspiration, the root of “spira”—breathe—can also mean “fill with spirit”

So, all you aspiring writers out there, even the ones who haven’t yet sat down and tried their hand at this thing called writing-on-purpose—“being” a “writer”—gather ’round and consider:

Some Questions for The Serious Writer . . .

The Successful Writer

And, How Writers Handle Criticism

Just a few past posts on this blog that those who want to arrange words with a bit of spirit might find valuable

You could also check out the Top Tags widget, further down in the left side-bar, for other topics

And, I’ll also share a video with four aspiring writers—Orna Ross, Jessica Bell, Roz Morris, and Kevin Boothtalking about How To Write A Book


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Painting Complete Characters in Fiction


Why in the world would a writer want to create an incomplete character?

Creating A Total Image for Your Characters In Your Writing

Image courtesy of Flavio Takemoto ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/flaivoloka

One might think it’s a craft technique to keep the reader in the dark for a while

No—incomplete characters are the result of bad writing.

Naturally, I’m not using “complete” to mean every last detail—rather, complete as in “without defect” or “perfect”.

However, it can take a full novel to paint a complete character.

And, keeping the reader in the dark only demands keeping the character off the canvas of the page; or, only making tangential renderings of their actions.

Still, using a sufficient amount of diffused depictions can certainly render a “perfect” image of a character

Let me bring in another writer—J. L. Campbell—who guest-posted on Jessica Bell’s blog with the article, Creating A Total Image of Your Character.

I’ll give you a few excerpts from the article but urge you to take the link to appreciate the full argument

“When you think of an ‘image’, the first thing that may come to mind is a picture…For this discussion, I’m interested in the physical, mental and symbolic connotations of the word for storytelling purposes.”

“In crafting stories, our image of each character would be their outward appearance. Most of the time, we see this through the eyes of other characters…”

“Another aspect of image is the way in which others think about your main character.”

“Then there is the perception we attach to certain positions and people. Some of us tend not to look too far beyond stereotypes.”

“Another useful method is to show how the character sees himself.”

“…situations in which our protagonist can exercise his problem-solving abilities is another way to create a complete image of that individual.”

“Your protagonist’s relationships also tell a lot about him.”

So, there are the main points—read the full article for the whys and wherefores :-)

However, there are two important questions at the end of the article.

I’m hoping you’ll go over there and answer them:

What other ways do you use to give readers an accurate picture of your characters?

Do you agree that an inner view of a person is as important as what others think of him?
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Today’s The Last Day to Vote In Our Latest Poll…
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To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
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Guest Posting Is Fun :-)


Plenty of blogging “gurus” tell you to guest post to increase traffic. Jessica Bell

I say, do it to have fun—like cooking dinner at a cool friend’s house :-)

Head on over to The Alliterative AllomorphJessica Bell‘s Place.

I wrote a guest post for her called Most Advice for Writers Is Dangerous

And, take awhile to look over what she has to offer:

Her Books

Her Music

Her Reading Room

Her Readers’ Reviews

Her Authorgraphed Books

Her Book Cover Design Services

Her Writing Day Workshops

Vine Leaves Literary Journal (Jessica’s the Publishing Editor)

The Homeric Writers’ Retreat and Workshop (in Greece)

Her Page explaining How to Guest Post on Her Blog :-)

[ Edit: after this was publishedJessica has moved her blog <— to that link :-) ]
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To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
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Writers Who Self-Edit


If you’re not a writer, you may not be familiar with the process of internally editing what you’re about to say.

Self-Editing

Image Courtesy of Leo Cinezi ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/cinezi

Some writers aren’t aware they do this—some are plagued by it…

Then, there’s the dreaded internal editorial critic who’s getting in the way of the creative flow of the first draft—judging little things and keeping the important parts penned-up.

Of course, there comes the time of reckoning—after the Muse has done the magic—doing the necessary self-editing of one’s work, even if it will be passed on to other eyes and minds for appraisal.

I found two articles about self-editing that I’ll share with my readers who are writers (and, hope my other readers will share them with their writer friends…).

The first is 5 Steps for Editing a Novel from the Inside Out by Marc Baldwin, owner of edit911.

I find Marc’s article fascinating because he doesn’t talk about grammar and syntax directly; nor does he give you methods for catching typos—he goes above that into what might be called the developmental editor’s mind.

Here are his 5 steps (with explanations in the article…):

  1. Be true to the narrative voice
  2. Assure the characters’ credibility
  3. Attend to the plot
  4. What does it all add up to?
  5. Is it a satisfying, organic story?

Do go read Marc’s full article, especially if you just finished one or more early drafts…

The other article is Writing: How to Self-Edit Your Novel by Jessica Bell.

Jessica gives you some powerful ideas for what she calls editing piece by piece and has a book to back it up—Polish Your Fiction: A Quick & Easy Self-Editing Guide—but I’ll only excerpt the bit that clearly shows the wrong way to self-edit:

“…let’s say you’ve read through the first chapter of your manuscript and the only error you notice is the word cafe lacking the accent on the e. Easy. You fix it. And you make a mental note to catch that as you go along.

“But in the next chapter, you come across an awkwardly structured sentence, an embarrassing grammatical error, a character that is speaking in a way that sounds like another character, and you seem to have used the word look way too many times in one paragraph.

“That’s a lot to fix. But you do it fix it, and all seems like it’s in order.

“But guess what? You were so focussed on fixing these things, that you didn’t notice the other instance of cafe lacking the accent on the e. And now that you’ve reworded a few things, you’ve also buggered up your punctuation, and introduced a new spelling mistake. Whoops.”

I know I have at least one editor who reads this blog (perhaps she’ll add a comment…) but I have many writer-readers—hoping they’ll all add to the Comments :-)
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To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
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