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A Valentine for You – With Love


Movies + Romance = The Key to My Heart I’m a romantic in so many ways, it would take another blog to explain all of my many connections to Venus, the moon, nature, and more. As a romantic, I adore … Continue reading →Original linkOriginal author: Diana Stout
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At the Teahouse Café: Essays from the Middle Kingdom by Isham Cook review

via At the Teahouse Café: Essays from the Middle Kingdom by Isham Cook reviewOriginal link
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Writing China in English: Recent novels


If there was ever a story with an extreme cultural divide to navigate, it’s A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo (Anchor, 2008). A young woman from rural China is plopped down in London for a year on a study visa with little English ability or understanding of Western culture. Soon an Englishman she meets in a cinema seduces her and she moves in with him. He’s not your typical British chap (if there is such a thing) but an unpindownable bisexual eccentric and failed sculptor with leftist anti-establishment leanings and a Luddite distaste for the trappings of modern society. He’s also twenty years older than her but handsome and fit enough that she falls for him — her...
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The adorable expat eccentric


A lazy, hidebound assumption has long held sway about people who work as English teachers abroad: it’s the only job the “losers” and “bottom feeders” can find, as they lack the qualifications to hack out a career back home. But it’s a hackneyed cliché, one that obscures the real class of losers. Think about it. To be able to go abroad, all by yourself, is an impressive feat. You need, for starters, to have a certain imaginative capacity, a conception that there are other countries in the world, and that it’s possible to visit them and even live in them. This is more than can be said for many Americans. On my occasional trips back home, I am thrust into a sharply different reality. There is a...
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Midnight in Peking and True Crime Fiction


Bird’s-eye view of Fox Tower (bottom) looking west along the Tartar City Wall toward Hata Gate (top) in this bronze relief map of 1949 Beijing (Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall; photo by Isham Cook).Paul French’s Midnight in Peking: How a Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China (Penguin, 2011) has sold hundreds of thousands of copies since its publication almost a decade ago. Deftly written and combining all the desired elements one could hope for in a nonfiction thriller — a hitherto unsolved murder, wild sexual intrigue, a motley cast of eccentrics, all set in the exotic past of an Oriental city — it’s not surprising it took off into best-sellerdom. Anecdotally, i...
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Akard Draft One Art Objects

Akard Draft One covers copyright 2020 by Michael D. Smith
It must be highly unusual for an author to post a blurb for a book he emphatically does not want to sell. But I’ve been so pleased with how this four-part paperback version of Akard Draft One turned out that I just had to show off these pretty art objects. Somehow they turned out exactly as I’d imagined they would. I’m surprised how involved I got with this printing project, which also honed my publication technologies.Why Did I Do This?The rough draft of Akard Drearstone was my first breakthrough effort after two practice novels. I threw everything into this book, and its writing led me in undreamed-of directions. It’s odd to wonder what I would’ve been like, how many unanswered pressures I...
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It All Began With a Book Report


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group  January 8 question – What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just “know” suddenly you wanted to write?  It All … Continue reading →Original linkOriginal author: Diana Stout
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The One Trait Every Writer Needs


The One Trait Every Writer Needs Originally posted on June 25, 2014 on my Only for the Brave blog, I offer this advice again. It’s advice that never gets old. This trait is the one trait that finally saw me getting my … Continue reading →Original linkOriginal author: Diana Stout
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Chungking: China’s heart of darkness


One of Chongqing’s hundreds of former bomb shelters, this one serving snacks to touristsIt may not be immediately evident what Lord Byron’s Childe Harold (1811), Herman Melville’s Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847), and Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) have in common, but it may be clearer when mentioned in conjunction with several other bestsellers of the time: Murray’s Handbooks series for Travellers on the Continent (1836), Travellers in the Ionian Islands, Greece, Turkey, Asia Minor, and Constantinople (1840), and Travellers in Egypt (1847). All were churned out by John Murray of London, the first publisher to capitalize on the growing public fascination for worldwide travel.Europe ha...
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Sortmind Press at Smashwords End of Year Sale

Akard Drearstone by Michael D. Smith
The 3rd annual Smashwords End of Year Sale runs December 25 through January 1, 2020.  The eBook versions of my literary novels Akard Drearstone, Sortmind, and The Soul Institute, as well as my science fiction novella The First Twenty Steps, can be obtained for free from Smashwords during this time.Akard DrearstoneA cinder block falls on Akard Drearstone’s head and he trades his print shop job for lead guitar. As the four members of the Akard Drearstone Group face the onslaught of national fame at their rural Texas commune, twelve-year-old Jan Pace nurses her crush for the narcissistic, paranoid bassist Jim Piston.SortmindA startup company’s telepathic Sortmind app Mindwipes ten thousand user...
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The Joy of Writing & Knowing When It’s Time to Quit


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group December 4 question – Let’s play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if … Continue reading →Original linkOriginal author: Diana Stout
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Shackism v. Sortmind, Part Three

T'ohj'puv copyright 2018 by Michael D. Smith
The reader of the previous two blog posts must suspect that I’ve been building to some manifestation of Shackism v. Sortmind in my current life.So I finally acknowledge a buried concept lurking for several years: the idiotic notion that I might only have one big novel left in me, one intended to sum up and justify my entire existence in suitably solemn tones, and that I must drop dead after finishing such a perfect expression.God, that is stupid. An artistic poverty mentality, art gasping its last breaths in a long-term care facility, pitied by all. I am here to keep growing, keep discovering, keep expressing. There is no Final Stuff to sum up.Thank you Mike of June 1971, and Mikes that foll...
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Shackism v. Sortmind, Part Two

Fourth Floor Space Science copyright 1979 by Michael D. Smith
No reader can possibly be prepared for this blog author to include a snippet from a June 26, 1971 letter to my friend Sabin Russell. I didn’t realize at the time how important this paragraph would be in my life. It comments on a philosophy paper Sabin wrote at Yale, and refers to my just-completed story “Prom”:My thought: In a short story I try to make a little aspect of life with which I am familiar clear, like the absurdity of falling in love with a teeny-bopper. But I can’t try to explain life because I’m not familiar with all of it. So I just work at every little aspect that comes along. That is art, “little-aspect-philosophy.” Big Philosophy tries to explain the world, and fails.So my t...
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Shackism v. Sortmind, Part One

Sortmind, the novel, by Michael D. Smith
Shackism: In the moment, flexible, aware, expectant. Creative disorder. Making pottery in a little shack at the side of an empty desert highway. Hit or miss power.Sortmind: Deep intuition, synthesizing, order, explanations, philosophy, indexing. In harmonious contact with all aspects of existence. High power levels.Two modes of consciousness collide in Sortmind when Edward Duce, urban terrorist and founder of the Open Telepathy Foundation, invades teenage artist Oliver’s apartment.“You blew up the library? And–and all of downtown now?”“Hey, I don’t buy guilt trips, Ollie. It’s just not me. Besides, you’re in this too. You’re now the executive officer of a terrorist organization.”“But … I’m p...
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Runes – An Ancient Oracle Tool: It’s All Been Rune’d


Once again, Keri Kruspe has written a fantastic post for my blog. I was over the moon reading this post because it spoke to me. Many times I’ve tried to use runes and Keri, through this post, has shown me … Continue reading →Original linkOriginal author: Diana Stout
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How to Redeem Unredeemed Gifts on Amazon


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group For November 6, 2019 Rather than answering the question posed to the group this month, which was What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever googled in researching a story?, for which I had no good answer, … Continue reading →Original linkOriginal author: Diana Stout
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Jump Grenade in Paperback

Jump Grenade by Michael D. Smith
Sixteen-year-old Billy Bolamme, Junior Dropout Basketball League star, joins shamanic forces with Guenevere “Uni” Ryder, fellow high school dropout, art gallery receptionist, and unwitting accomplice to thirty thousand murders. Berserk at missing his five hundredth point in a row, ridiculed by radio announcer Frank Chester over the arena P.A. system, Billy batters Chester and ties him up, leaving him to stare at two armed hand grenades on his desk. But then Billy sees that he’s left the P.A. system on, and that his threat has been conveyed to ten thousand witnesses. He proceeds to blow Chester up anyway, then destroys the entire sports arena to erase all witnesses to his crime.In addition to...
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Jump Grenade – The Author Interview

Jump Grenade by Michael D. Smith
Q: So what’s this crap you’ve got now? Jump Grenade? And don’t give me any of those typical BS marketing blurbs.MDS: All right, guy, let’s get into it. Basically the novel is about psychopathy, how much fun it is to win at any cost–and how surprised you are when you discover that the cost is karmic, stretching across thousands of lifetimes.Q: Yeah, right. You’ve led everyone to believe it was about some kid basketball player.MDS: Well, it certainly is. I had a lot of fun writing a sports story. I had to stretch a bit to do that. I wanted sports writing, visceral and sense-oriented. The casual insults and curses everyone hurls at each other evoke the mandatory ego-jockeying of the sport.Q: Wa...
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Jump Grenade is Published

Jump Grenade copyright 2019 by Michael D. Smith
Billy Bolamme, psychopathic Junior Dropout Basketball League star, joins shamanic forces with Guenevere “Universe” Ryder, fellow high school dropout, art gallery receptionist, and unwitting accomplice to thirty thousand murders. Berserk at missing his five hundredth point in a row, Billy kills a taunting radio announcer with hand grenades, then blows up an entire sports arena to erase all witnesses to his crime. From here on out his fame and luck can only grow.Is this really any sort of sports fiction? Black humor? Absurdist farce? I think the book points to the Other World and karma. Human beings do anything to reinforce their ego and their winnings, but the hurt they cause must eventually ...
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11 Reasons Why I Continue to Write


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group  Posting for the first Wednesday of the Month, October 2, 2019 Because I’m in the final editing stages of my upcoming book, Love’s New Beginnings, which I plan on publishing in October, I thought I’d … Continue reading →Original linkOriginal author: Diana Stout
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