Saturday, October 23, 2021

A Secret Island Treasure to Inspire Storytelling

With ochre-stained streams, crimson-hued beaches and enchanting salt caves, Iran's Hormuz Island is a geologist's Disneyland.

"You should get a taste of this soil," said Farzad Kay, my tour guide on southern Iran's Hormuz Island, as we stood at the foot of a ruby-red mountain that loomed majestically over the shoreline, engulfing the beach and waves in a crimson shadow. I approached his suggestion with some trepidation, as I was yet to understand this mysterious, mineral-laden landscape.

Set 8km off Iran's coast amid the murky blue waters of the Persian Gulf, Hormuz is a teardrop-shaped shimmering salt dome embedded with layers of shale, clay and iron-rich volcanic rocks that glow in dazzling shades of red, yellow and orange due to the more than 70 minerals found here. Nearly every inch of Hormuz Island's 42 awe-invoking sq km imparts a story of its formation.

According to Dr Kathryn Goodenough, principal geologist at the British Geological Survey who has previously worked in Iran, hundreds of millions of years ago, shallow seas formed thick layers of salt around the margins of the Persian Gulf. These layers gradually collided and interlayered with mineral-rich volcanic sediment in the area, causing the formation of the colourful landmass.

"Over the last 500 million years, the salt layers were buried deeply by younger layers of volcanic sediment. Since the salt is buoyant, over time, it has risen through cracks in the overlying rocks to reach the surface and form salt domes," said Dr Goodenough. She added that these thick layers of salt, many kilometres below the land, are actually present across much of the Persian Gulf area.

This geological makeup has resulted in ochre-stained streams, crimson-hued beaches and enchanting salt caves. In fact, Hormuz is often called the "rainbow island" because of the spectrum of chromatic hues that it exudes. It's also home to what's thought to be the only edible mountain in the world, which Kay was encouraging me to try.

Locals believe that the salt found at the Goddess of Salt mountain has the power to release any negative energy (Credit: Saeed Abdolizadeh/Alamy)

Locals believe that the salt found at the Goddess of Salt mountain has the power to release any negative energy (Credit: Saeed Abdolizadeh/Alamy)

The red soil on the mountain I was standing near, called gelack, is caused by haematite, an iron oxide thought to be derived from the island's volcanic rocks. Not only is it a valuable mineral for industrial purposes, it also plays an important role in local cuisine. Used as a spice, it lends an earthy flavour to curries and goes perfectly with the local bread called tomshi, which means "a handful of something".

"The red soil is used as a sauce," explained Maryam Peykani, Farzad's wife. "This sauce is called soorakh and is spread on flatbread as it is almost cooked. Apart from its culinary usages, the red soil is also used [in paintings by] local artists, dyeing, creation of ceramics and cosmetics."

Beyond the ruby-red mountain, there's plenty else to explore on Hormuz. In the island's west there's a spectacular salt mountain known as the Goddess of Salt. Extending more than a kilometre, its pale caves and sharp-edged walls are covered by shimmering salt crystals that look like the giant columns of a marble palace.

You may also be interested in:
• How a Scottish mountain weighed the planet
• An ancient Roman mystery solved
• The cliff that changed our understanding of time

Locals believe that the salt possesses the healing power to soak up and release any negative energy, and Kay advised me to take my shoes off so my feet touched the salt dome. "The rock salt is known to release immense positive energy," he told me. "After having spent [time] in this valley, you are bound to feel much more invigorated, which is why the valley is also called the Energy Valley."

Similarly, in the island’s south-west is Rainbow Valley, a stunning display of multi-hued soil and vividly coloured mountains in shades of red, purple, yellow, ochre and blue. As I walked, I noticed patches of bright colours forming geometric patterns that glittered and gleamed as the sun's rays hit them.

In the nearby Valley of the Statues, rocks were weathered into fantastical shapes by thousands of years of wind erosion; with a bit of imagination, I could see birds, dragons and other mythical creatures. It was like admiring Earth's very own art gallery.

The island glows in shades of red, yellow and orange due to the more than 70 minerals found here (Credit: Lukas Bischoff/Alamy)

The island glows in shades of red, yellow and orange due to the more than 70 minerals found here (Credit: Lukas Bischoff/Alamy)

Despite the island’s surreal, kaleidoscopic natural colours, most travellers don't know about it. According to the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran, just 18,000 visitors came here in 2019.

"This natural phenomenon is not fully discovered by world travellers despite its significant tourist attractions, historically and naturally," said Ershad Shan, another local, as I sank my teeth into a spicy, fragrant curry of sardines, red onion, lemon and orange, prepared using soorakh. "If more attention is paid to the infrastructural development of Hormuz, this island can be changed to be an important attraction for tourists."

Locals have started to offer home-cooked meals for tourists and driving rickshaws and motorcycles to transport people around the island. "We feel responsible for doing our bit for Hormuz. It's so rare and is a part of our identity," Shan said. "We feel an urgent need to contribute towards getting the world to take notice of this eco-heritage."

As I devoured my curry, it struck me that while Hormuz is without doubt a geologist's Disneyland, it is the edible soil, which is literally runs through the veins of its inhabitants, that make it truly special.

Geological Marvels is a BBC Travel series that uncovers the fascinating stories behind natural phenomena and reveals their broader importance to our planet.


Join more than three million BBC Travel fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly features newsletter called "The Essential List". A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Need to Market your historical fiction with people of color or black leads?


Need to Market your historical fiction with people of color or black leads?

Black History isn’t actually “black”; but about those of African descent, and such lives are throughout ALL HISTORY and PREHISTORY, not just Urban, Harlem Renaissance, and American and European “Black” Slavery. Newer sciences say ALL PEOPLES began in African and have become many flavors of humans, in all sorts of lovely shades and features.

And back when Europeans were cutting up the entire continent of Africa like a dessert pie, each of those slave states had interactions and intermarriage with Africans. These “mixed race” and “biracial” people have historical stories too.

Ancient Romans enslaved everyone but also freed many and took anyone into their vast armies, during and after the Romans there was a long history of castration cities in the Mid-East and Asia providing eunuch slaves, few of those were “black”, many were other colors.

England then Great Britain plus Europe and Russia had perpetual serfdoms; where people were treated as their masters’ property stock, or they were—many Russians were serfs (slave property) into the 20th Century of the First World War.

What parts of history or hidden histories are you interested? Do you have a story or novel about that time, or a reference text you’d like to share? This is the place, a centralized marketing home for character leads of color:

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Neale Sourna Writing Services / Editing Services at (Games Narrative, Novels, etc.)


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

New Page_Writing Sample: WAITING for YOU


-a dating sim

(work in progress)

        A struggling author meets a sweet girl, a wild girl, and a tough guy husband.

        What could go very right or very wrong in the game of love, lust, and making a living?

_dialog / narration / characterizations built upon from client outline


MEET Angelica


P ANG smiles to the COTS

P ANG looks at COTS - she isn't satisfied



 ABR visits the office building for the first time and he needs to meet his publisher. ANG guides him.

 After clicking on Angelica

P ANG stands behind the reception counter smiling

        ANG: Good afternoon, how may I help you?

        ABR: I'm Abramo Tutti. I have an appointment with Stephen More at “Black letters” publishing house's new offices.

        ANG: All right, Mr. Tutti, just let me check his schedule. Oh. Here it is. Yes, your meeting is on the twenty-third floor and ... you're already five minutes late.

        ABR: I know. Sorry. All these towers are confusing, I wasn't able to find your building, without stopping twice and asking for help. I don't come downtown too often.

        ANG: Don't look so worried. I work on Stephen's desk a lot, he nearly always runs late; so you have a good chance to beat him to his office. Here's your guest pass and take that bank of elevators over there. I'll call ahead to let his assistant know you're on your way up, Mr. Tutti.

        ABR: Thanks. What is your name, good lady?

        ANG: "Good lady"? Well, good sir, my name is Angelica. Don't be nervous, you'll do fine, Mr. Tutti.

        ABR: Thanks for all your kind help, Angelica. I need all the prayer and well wishes I can get.

P ANG has her hands on the counter and smiles to the COTS (CENTER OF THE SCREEN)

        NARRATOR: I'd entered the forbidding office tower feeling harried and afraid I was about to lose everything. If I'm not a published writer, then I'm an unemployed writer. But, now I truly feel more confident and less like I'm dragging a burden. Maybe there really is a God, or whoever who sent the kind angel, Angelica to bless my day. Well, everyone's day, she's not just here for me. Or is she?

        NARRATOR: Hm, good story point. Whatever, if this publishing goes bust, maybe I'll try for a regular day job in this building so I can see and speak with Angelica every day.

New Page_Writing Sample: Flirting With Yasmine  


-a dating sim

(work in progress)

        A guy crashes at his married best friends' apartment, where he gets to meet some new friends, and gets better reacquainted with his close besties, while getting his life and loves back on track.

        Who and what would be your choice?

_dialog / narration / characterizations built upon from client outline


Day 1

S_0001 LOG in CASUAL clothes with luggage standing in front of a building

        NARRATOR: Fuck! I don't want to do this! But, here I am, anyway, standing in front of my best friend's place, ready to move in 'cause, currently, I don't have a place to live. I was evicted from my apartment … for not paying my rent, which wasn't.... Fuck it, that's an unpleasant story I'm just too disgusted to talk about, right now.

        NARRATOR: I know you're thinking I'm a fortunate guy to have a friend like Nathan ready to provide me shelter, meals, and WiFi for 30 whole days; but, well.... I'm more lucky than you know. Kind of. You see, Nathan may be my best bud; but, he married THE girl of all girls for me; my high school crush - Yasmine.

        NARRATOR: Oh, yes, Yasmine, the one girl, who could lift my mood with just the mischievous quirk of her shapely lips; my partner-in-crime, who would laugh until she'd nearly faint whenever I got away with something; the girl, who bested all of my stupidest jokes with even sillier ones of her own.

        NARRATOR: Yasmine was my confidante, the only one who ever lent an attentive ear to any and all of my problems and secrets; except one. 'Cause, I kinda, well, never told Yasmine my most important secret; that I'd fallen, completely and undyingly, for her. I never told her that every time she had spoken to me of another latest crush on some lucky, stupid guy ... I would grimace a brittle smile, while feeling my soul shatter to shards, taking my broken heart with it.

        NARRATOR: I do know why she never thought of me like that, except because my fat ass then could never, would never number among any of her crushes, or desires. Why would I want to see lovely and perfect Yasmine, again, knowing she would NEVER see me as more than a friend? An asexual … friend.

        NARRATOR: That is Yasmine for me: Heaven and Hell in one gorgeous package. Honestly, parting ways with her after high school graduation was the most bittersweet and painfully difficult experience of my younger life. Meeting her again may top that long ago childish history. Married to my best friend, while I've avoided her, until now.... I'm not quite sure what this will be like.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Showing Writing Changes, Chap 1 Becca DuMaurier (part 1)


Showing Writing Changes, Chap 1 Becca DuMaurier

      This and the next few posts will show you changes made while changing several website story chapters of a short story "novelette" into a novel, well, novel series. Here is proof that good things need time for story, character, research, and a novelist to grow something wonderful.

      Yes, the shorts were great, if I do say so myself and my client and her website visitors; but more of a good thing is great too.

Original Client Short Story_Feb 2008

_899 wds


Becca in the Woods Cornwall, England UK; 1680s

Becca’d been on her way to her betrothal, or rather she’d escaped from crowded, maddening London, back to her stormy, Atlantic tossed Cornwall coast;,; three hundred miles further west than most London courtiers would ever venture.


The whole world was in mad upheaval! Pirates raided coasts. Neighbor killed neighbor, for God and Right. Their Catholic king’d run away and his daughter, with her Dutch Protestant husband, now ruled; as Becca’s healthy loveliness and strong family name remained besieged by an earl, whose grown heir had died, and now he wanted another, by her.


Unlucky Becca.


She’d lost two babes; both to fever, then lost her beloved, gentle husband in the king’s senseless wars and now this earl, older than her father, had reached out his covetous hands, to make her his countess, in payment for her father’s impending bankruptcy.

Both men had...more...

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Another "Simple" Way I Name Characters_Sep 5, 2020 at 10:26 PM EST

This is a simple naming technique when writer characters and degenerating character names.


When I travel, to work or wherever, my stories and characters are percolating in the back or to the fore of my mind. Street addresses to name a character. Especially, ones that come one after another or conjoin at intersections can be helpful; because you can find interesting character names.


Just keep in mind if what you come up with relates to their ethnicity or culture, time period, financial level, etc.


Happy hunting.


More helpful tips at....

Friday, September 04, 2020

BUY Neale Sourna of PIE: Perception Is Everything ebooks at Payhip





Neale Sourna at PIE: Perception Is Everything

Neale has been authoring, editing, doing book/ebook layout and publishing about a decade and won's Best Erotica Novel award for her first novel, "Hobble," published through her own company, PIE: Perception Is Everything, and Neale successfully ranked as a finalist for New Century Screenplay's national contest for her script, "FRAMES." Neale also writes and edits for others through her writing company Neale Sourna's; including stories for the Orchid Games' / Sandlot Games distrib: Heartwild Solitaire Game Series and Inertia Software's Margrave Manor Game Series. Neale's many published works, for ebook, print and online, have an edge that always brings the reader back to the core of being human. "I don't write 'romance' stories, but character love stories.