Welcome! You’ve arrived at the blog of PJ Colando, a member of the Insecure Writers Support Group, which is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, an esteemed sci-fi writer and film critic. Here’s his page, an important place to check out: https://www.alexjcavanaugh.com
Here are the co-hosts that help Ninja Captain Alex, manage this large group to which writers of all ilk throng. Click on their links to check out their contributions, too.
J Lenni Dorner https://jlennidorner.blogspot.com/
Janet Alcorn https://janetalcorn.com/
Diane Burton http://dianeburton.blogspot.com
PJ Colando https://www.pjcolando.com/
Jenni Enzor https://jennienzor.blogspot.com/
This is an enduring online support group, in part because insecurity seems to be as integral to the writer’s life as talent. Every other moment one or all of us feels like we’re a hack. Call it the ticking clock of our mutual dogged determination.
The other part is that the advice, support, applause, and solutions are real. Each month members check in to respond to a question. The July question: If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose? There are no right/wrong answers. Herein lies the freedom of expression that is central to our preoccupation with writing.
This question was difficult for me because I enthusiastically embrace travel as much as reading. The duo shares the second spot on the heap of my life’s passions – my husband is No. 1. We are fortunate to have enough income to afford both hobbies, which can be expensive. But, no more expensive than professional sports tickets, coupled with fine wine, cognac, and luxury cigars.
World-building is the province of great writers. These experts can enliven their characters and plot with the immersive world they create. Some are so skilled that a reader is transported, something that has helped cope with our protracted Covid-caused homestay. In the instance of science fiction writing/reading, one could visit another planet. Time travel novels fostered living in a different time, as well as place, unfettered by disease.
Consider England’s Forest of Dean. There, you’ll encounter winding paths, dense dark green foliage, and an air of hidden secrets – a model for fantasy world-building. J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series author, grew up nearby and spent time in the forest, which is the inspiration for the book series, Forbidden Forest. There are traces of her childhood cottage home, which may/may not feature a tiny closet under the stairs that served as Harry’s bedroom. Wanna verify with me?
My husband and I visited Edinburgh, Scotland during a trip that included England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, On the grounds of Edinburgh Castle, are Mary, Queen of Scot’s, riding stable which was the model for Hagrid’s House, Edinburgh is the perfect city for her world-building. The graves at Gray’s Church famously sport key character’s names, including Voldemort. Further, we visited the Elephant Tree House, where she wrote the series, reportedly nursing a single cup of tea and biscuit because that was all she could afford.
But I wouldn’t want to inhabit that world. Not only do I not identify as a Muggle, but I adore living in southern California, the land of perpetual sunshine and joy.
My husband and I edged the Ngong Hills, Kenya while on a sensational safari, one of the many trips of a lifetime we’ve taken.
Danish author Karen Blixen wrote Out of Africa, chronicling her time living on a coffee plantation from 1913 to 1931 at the base of Ngong Hills in Kenya. While we adored our trip, I wouldn’t want to live there. The feelings that permeate the book – and the movie of the same name, starring Meryl Streep ad Robert Redford – are loneliness and isolation.
Ernest Hemingway set his book, The Green Hills of Africa, in the vicinity of our safari on the great migration route, shown in the movie, The Lion King. Our emphasis was on sighting the wild beasts in their habitat, not hunting and killing them as trophies. And, while our safari accommodations were deluxe –
I wouldn’t want to inhabit that world. I live in a paid-for home with no packing-and-unpacking necessary.
Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, primarily takes place during the Roaring Twenties in fictitious towns on Long Island’s north shore. Neighboring communities housed wealthy families who lived in lavish mansions but with one significant difference — “old money” families inhabited East Egg. Across a small bay, West Egg’s inhabitants were considered “new money” social climbers. Jay Gatsby, the main character, lived in West Egg, threw elaborate parties, and pined for his love Daisy, who lived across the bay, married to another man.
While the world of forbidden elegance holds allure, the recent plundering of women’s rights by the Supreme Court assures me that the era was not for me. I’m not even certain that the women in the novel could vote.
I wouldn’t want to inhabit that world. I’m having a difficult enough time considering an America dumped back into the ’50s.
Who can forget the lively adventures of Tom Sawyer in Mark Twain’s famous novel? The book is set in the fictitious town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, along the Mississippi River. My Faith, Family, Frenzy! book series has much in common with this geography and mores of the small town. The books are available on my author site https://www.pjcolando.com.
Because we are enthusiastically engaged in travel, my husband and I have visited many settings, but, as Dorothy famously said, “There’s no place like home.”