Tag Archive for writing

My Writing is My Phrontistery

Martin Harvey

Phrontistery is an ancient Greek word meaning “a place for thinking.” I love cool words and phrontistery not only feels good on the tongue, but its meaning really appeals to me — it describes a space specifically dedicated to thinking! For many people, bathrooms are a perfect phrontistery. They are for me, too. Showers score high as well. But I think I do my best thinking when I write. With my fingers on the keys, I can clarify my thinking and also discover ideas that must have been hovering around my subconsciousness, ready to be revealed to my eyes through my fingers. Writing is a metaphorical phrontistery for me. And probably in the days when diaries and journals were popular, many others found capturing words in a tangible medium clarified one’s thoughts and opinions on all sorts of matters. Luckily for my friends and family, I write mostly fiction — my phrontistery cleverly hides the true identities of many. Lately, I have been devouring books at a high rate. As a result, my little collection of notes (over a thousands and counting) has been growing. I consider my notes app as part of my phrontistery. I jut down ideas for…

Holiday Thread


I follow an Iranian woman on Instagram that demonstrates in short videos her embroidery techniques. She does beautiful work — intricate flowers, leaves, curlycues, snowflakes. Her pigment choices are amazing and she does very detailed art in that multicolored thread. I know how to sew and I had a vague idea of how to embroider — I mean I can pull off a flower or a leaf if I had to. But my “knowledge” of embroidery comes from extrapolating what I know about sewing and guessing at the rest. But this woman is actually a master of this skill. And by watching her for a few seconds here and there doing her art, I realized that thread conservation is an important part of embroidery! Not only is beautiful thread expensive (e.g. gold thread), but the bulk that would be added to the material by doing the design on both sides would be awkward. Double-sided embroidery would mess up the delicate expression of the final piece of art. So there is more to this skill than I realized at first blush. Many crafts require expertise that is hidden from casual view. In many cases, the achievement of effortless grace is anything…

The Dance

The Russian Bride’s Attire by Konstantin Makovsky

From Russia With Love This month, I’ve teamed up with a few other indie writers who wrote stories set in Russia. There are just the seven of us, and I hope you check out our stories. I, of course, have a novel Twin Time that is set in Old Pre-Revolutionary Russia. If you click the link here, you will get to my blog that has the first few chapters free. Or you can see the whole Russian collection here: October seems like a good month to spend between the pages of stories that drop you in the middle of the cold, exotic, and thrilling faraway places. I hope you will find something good to pick up in this collection. Here’s a link to a little book trailer I’ve created for my book: The Dance I’ve published over a million words in the 14 years I’ve been writing novels. For each word I’ve written, I’ve consumed thousands. And the more I write, the more treasures I find in other people’s writing. It’s like being a botanist and visiting a forest. Everyone enjoys the beauty of walking nature trails, but a botanist spots things that remain hidden from most eyes. I am…

Mothers on The Hero’s Journey

Hero's Journey Illustration

A Common YA Fantasy Novel Plots: A bunch of kids lead perfectly ordinary lives. One day they learn that the universe is full of magic (or strange science) and if they don’t put down their homework right now (like right now!), everyone they know and love will suffer horribly (or the universe will come to an end, whichever happens first). Hard as they argue, their parents just won’t let them go out after bedtime to save the universe. So after endless texts back and forth, the friends decide to just finish their homework and go to bed. It’s a school night, after all. But in the middle of the night, they wake up and realize that it is up to them to save the world. They sneak out of their house, leave their parents and homework behind, and go out into the night. While wandering at strange times and in unfamiliar places, the friends meet a stranger that tells them he knows the way. The friends, sleep-deprived as they are, believe him and follow him to destinations unknown. The stranger makes the friends do more and more dangerous and crazy stuff. And these young adults do it just because the…

On Writing and Reading and Learning and Teaching

Supermarket Science Home Page

Learning and Teaching I will start with learning. One of the tragic things about this pandemic is that our kids are missing out on education. This can’t be helped — schools are hotbeds for viruses. It is common wisdom that a new elementary school teacher needs to survive the first few years of being continuously ill — little ones love to share hugs and kisses and snot, all in equal measure. But after a few years of coming to school every day, teachers develop monster immune systems…parents not so much. So schools had to be closed — the world has no immunity to COVID 19. And the only way things get back to normal is when we ALL get immunity to this virus. We can get it by getting sick or by getting a vaccine. The vaccine is still a year away if we are lucky. Acquiring immunity through illness is like playing Russian Roulette — you might be one of the lucky ones or you might become a physical or cognitive cripple…and that’s forever! So schools will be closed for a very long time. And parents are stuck at home, homeschooling their children — not the job anyone really…

Cool books, peril loops, tech talk, and other sci-fi reading traps

Paris in the future from 1905

Rock? Or classical? Sometimes, good content is difficult to classify. But once you find someone good, it almost always works out (well, except for the last chord–what happened there?). I’ve mentioned before–when I find an author I like, I read everything they’ve ever written. This works for music, too. It’s a safe strategy, for the most part. But it does send me searching on a regular basis for someone new to love. Writers simply can’t write as fast as I can read. It’s one of the reasons that as a writer I don’t feel like I’m in competition with others in my genre–writing is a slow, slow process. So for the last year, I’ve gone on an adventure of searching for new authors to love. I’ve read multiple collections of short stories, old and new. And I also read a few biographies, notably Isaac Asimov’s last book, where he describes not only his life but also the history of the science fiction as it became its own literary category. [A bit of an aside: I met Isaac Asimov in New York many years ago at a science fiction convention. I thought he was a total *ss in person. His autobiography…

Ice Music

Coding Peter Suddenly Paris 2 Covers

I wish I had heard of Siberian Ice Drummers or the use of Lake Baikal ice as a musical instrument when I wrote the second book in the “Many Worlds, One Life” series: “Coding Peter”! If I had, it would have been featured prominently in my story. Alas, some discoveries come too late…but at least they come! Take a listen: