As the months of 2020 have darted from improbable crisis to even more improbable crisis, it’s become clear that we’re all trapped in some kind of ludicrous fictional universe. It’s the only explanation for the absurd plot twists each day brings.

I have plenty of time to spare, so I took it upon myself to determine exactly which fictional universe we’ve had the misfortune to fall into. It took some work, but I finally found the answer.

The fictional universe we’re trapped in is The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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The Long Winter is a children’s book about Wilder’s family and their struggle to survive “ The Snow Winter “ of 1880–1881, the most severe winter ever endured by many parts of the United States. Wilder’s account of those perilous months 140 years ago parallels our own situation in 2020 perfectly. …

Grief, they say, has five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Since “they” is Wikipedia, and since I just watched a lineup of five Christmas movies that managed to mirror that psychological construct, I would like to take you on a journey. A journey through five lighter-than-Hallmark holiday films (which you must watch in order or it won’t work!) that will induce a state of festive despondency and then completely eradicate it, leaving you gleeful and giddy.

You can do this any time of the year. 2020 has been a spiral of cosmic horror out of a Junji Ito manga; who can say what the future holds? …

Storytelling is a universal human impulse. Nowadays, novels are written in just about every corner of the planet. But that wasn’t always the case.

Just how old is the novel? Is a novel’s basic essence influenced by when and where it was written? Or is there something that all novels have in common, regardless of the culture that produced them?

Let’s find out!

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Google “what’s the world’s first novel?” and the answer you’ll see over and over is The Tale of Genji. Written around 1010–1021 by Imperial lady-in-waiting Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji tells the story of the romantic and political adventures of Prince Genji, outcast son of the Emperor of Japan and ideal aristocrat of the Heian period in which the story was both written and set. …

In the middle of October, days before Halloween and months into a plague slash political horror show straight out of a Stephen King novel, I was sitting in my car, minding my own business and eating takeout pastries, as one does In These Uncertain Times.

To amuse myself as I roosted in my vehicle shoving stale and frankly uninspired macrons from the local donut hut into my gob, I had two options: I could read the news, which was reliably appalling, or I could read “ The Candy Country” by Louisa May Alcott, author of the beloved and reassuring children’s classic, Little Women. …

So, you need to write an essay? Possibly you’re thrilled (probably you’re not). Either way, it doesn’t have to be a dull chore. Essays are as fun and as simple as … ice cream! Don’t believe me? Read on!

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What is an essay?

An essay is a succinct piece of nonfiction writing that presents an argument, interpretation or line of reasoning about a specific idea. The word “essay” comes from the French word “essayer,” which means “to try or attempt.” This word, in turn, comes from the Latin word “ exigere,” which means “to examine or test.” …

One slow and sunny summer day, I spent a blissfully pandemic-free afternoon scouring the internet for a recipe for golden rod cake. As I clicked on cooking blog after cooking blog, scrolling through recipe after recipe in a fruitless search for this most obscure of all archaic cakes, a question suddenly occurred to me: Why are recipe posts on food blogs so obscenely long?

Why not find out? I wondered. After all, I was only looking for a golden rod cake recipe so I could waste time snarking in blog form about a badly written pulp novel I’d wasted days reading. …

It’s been called one of the most inept movies ever made, hilariously demented, and pure unintentional camp. It’s on list after list of the worst movies ever made. It’s The Room.

A close watch of this 2003 film lays bare a veritable buffet of stilted acting, baffling continuity issues, illogical editing, and a plot that boggles the mind. And yet, somehow, it’s an intensely fascinating piece cinematography.

The Room has been mocked, memed and memorized by fans. It’s been snark-analyzed to death. And yet, nobody has ever been able to figure out what this bizarre film means.

What is The Room really about? …

Writing a novel can be incredibly time-consuming. Some authors commit years to the task. Others, decades. But who has that kind of time nowadays? Is it possible to write a novel in a lot less time — like a month?

Yes! You can write a novel in just 30 days. I know because I’ve done it. Twice. I’ve got five tips to share — each of which I’ve personally tested — that will help you do it, too. Let’s get started!

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When to write your novel

What’s the best month to write a novel in 30 days? Last month, as the saying goes. But if you have a choice, the ideal month is the one that perfectly combines the high energy of the holiday season with the dreariness of bad weather and long nights. …

What’s the shortest novel ever written? What makes a work of fiction a novel and not a short story? And how do novellas fit in?

We’re examining ten extremely short novels from around the globe to find the world’s shortest novel and, while we’re at it, figure out what really makes a story a novel.

Today, we’re looking at structure. Novels are built from smaller pieces: words that come together to form sentences, sentences that are joined into paragraphs, and paragraphs that pile up until they become chapters.

We all know what words, sentences and paragraphs are. …

Here we are again, friends. Another Flowers in the Attic book has arrived to grace us with its presence, this time at the outset of a global pandemic. Released in the infelicitous month of February 2020, the timing of Out of the Attic was bad. The book itself is worse.

Much, much worse.

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Out of the Attic is the follow-up to Beneath the Attic. Both books are set before the events of Garden of Shadows, which itself is set before the events of the very first book of the series, Flowers in the Attic.

However, as it turns out, Out of the Attic isn’t really a prequel ( to a prequel). …



Novelist, journalist, coffee addictist. Books at

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