Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Friday Poll ~ How Do You Find The Books You Read?

First, the results of last week’s poll—Writers’ Deadlines: 

How Do You Find The Books You Read?

Image Courtesy of Craig Parylo ~

Most voted is: I sometimes give myself writing deadlines

Second is: I usually meet my writing deadlines

Third: My job rarely imposes writing deadlines

Fourth, two-way tie: My job sometimes imposes writing deadlines & I rarely meet my wriiting deadlines

Fifth is a five-way tie:

My job always imposes writing deadlines

I always give myself writing deadlines

I rarely give myself writing deadlines

I sometimes meet my writing deadlines

“Other”—“my writers’ group imposes some deadines”

And, last, both with no votes: I always meet my writing deadlines & I never use writing deadlines


Now, this week’s poll—How Do You Find The Books You Read?

I’ll give a few common answers and include the “Other” space for unique answers.

Naturally, multiple answers are just fine…

Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

How Can Writers Find New Ideas?

Reading about how-to-write can get stale, especially with the current trend of people borrowing ideas from each other and trying to dress them up in slightly different clothes… 

Finding New Ideas

Image Courtesy of Crissie Hardy ~

Discovering new ideas for your writing usually takes more than a little effort.

It also usually means talking, at length, with other people.

So, why would I use an image of a bunch of matches for this post?

Think of the matches as people, each one capable, with enough friction, of bursting into flame; and, each one with a new flame capable of making others find their flames, too.

But there’s one thing wrong with that image—all those matches should be different from each other—very different.

Also, if you don’t know a group of people with different capabilities, you could create a few characters in your mind and have a deep conversation with them :-)

The article I’ll share with you today says, “…research from Kellogg shows that the cost of thinking with people like you hurts the rate of innovation – as measured by new ideas — by 15%. Thinking with people different from you improves the quality of decisions by nearly 50%.”

The article is about business people getting together—groups with radically different people—to find new solutions for business problems.

But just as a writer can watch a movie and be inspired, or listen to a painter talk about their work and come away with a new idea for a book, or listen to some music and suddenly have a new way to twist a plot, a writer can learn from what business people do

I’ve shared information from Nilofer Merchant here before and today I’m sharing her article, To Find New Ideas, Innovate, Etc.

The article is all about how to structure a group of people for maximum generation of new ideas; and, the first important principle is how different the people must be.

As a writer, can you find a group of people (even if rather small), people from different backgrounds, with different professions, who could help you spark some radically new ideas?

No? Then, can you create that group in your mind like you create characters for a story?

How about just one character?

From my own experience, I know that creating a character in my mind who’s radically different from me, then having a deep discussion with them, has helped spark new ideas—every time

I urge anyone who’s stuck for new ideas to go read Nilofer’s article and, for those who tend to not take links out of a blog post, I’ll share just a few more excerpts to encourage you to read the full piece:

“…being exposed to a range of people and experiences is an important part of how we find new ideas, and innovate. And it is working thru the related discomfort that leads to learning.”

“You don’t just drift into better behavior. You have to be intentional and deliberate.”

“Innovation is, most fundamentally, a people-based process.”

“To learn something new, you have to be uncomfortable.”

“When assumptions aren’t challenged, when questions aren’t posed, when new ideas aren’t thoroughly considered…you don’t invent a new solution to an old problem.”

Now that I think about it, those quotes from the article might have scared a few folks away :-)
Today’s The Last Day To Take Our Latest Poll…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Gifts for The Readers In Your Life

With over 1,070 posts on this blog, folks can find a lot of information about Reading, Writing, and Publishing. Take Me To Your Reader

Search and Top Tags work great but many don’t realize the side-bar has valuable stuff, too.

Like the link to GoneReading

It’s a place to get all kinds of gifts for readers but also an organization that donates all its profits to other organizations that work to help over a billion people on this planet get the books they need

In the past post, It’s Simple. They’re Gone Reading :-), I interviewed Bradley S. Wirz, the owner of GoneReadingtake that link to discover what an amazing organization it is

By the way, the image up there is on a cup that Brad gave me after our interview :-)

Today, I want to feature just a few of the things you can buy for the readers in your life from GoneReading.

First a couple of sheer fun items:

William Shakespeare’s Magnetic “Dress-Up” Set

Fun Gift for Readers

Emily Dickinson Finger Puppet / Fridge Magnet

Emily Dickinson Finger Puppet

 And, here are a couple of very useful items:

Book Chair: Book Holder & eReader Stand

 Book Holder and E-Reader Stand

Reading Journal for Book Lovers

Reading Journal

 Last, the image on the cup Brad gave me—except it’s on a T-Shirt :-)

Readers T-Shirt

So, head on over to GoneReading for a wealth of gifts for readers and know that what you spend is going to help others have the books they need for a full life…
Check Out Our Latest Poll…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

“Choice” Digital Tools of 2014

There have been so many digital tools created for writers that you could probably spend weeks just checking them out…

Digital Media Tools

Image Courtesy of Fran Gambín ~

So, I’ll reference Jane Friedman again.

She has “…more than 15 years of experience in the publishing industry, with in-depth expertise in book, magazine, and digital media publishing. From 2001–2010 she worked at Writer’s Digest, where she ultimately became publisher and editorial director of the $10-million multimedia brand.”

And, she recently published the article, My Favorite Digital Tools in 2014.

I’ll list the six tools she chose but urge you to take the link to her article to read her comments on each

1. The video conferencing tool, Zoom.

2. The visuals-designer tool, Canva.

3. The organizational and workspace tool, Evernote.

4. The online backup tool, CrashPlan.

5. A most amazing all-round writing tool, Scrivener ( for Mac & for PC).

6. The project management tool, Asana.

She also shares two early contenders for 2015 and two of her long-time favorites…
Check Out Our Latest Poll…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

A Professional Association for Authors Who Self-Publish

Self-publishing is not necessarily one writer who does everything themselves; though, there are such amazing people.

Alliance of Independent Authors

Image from the ALLI Site

A self-published author probably has an editor and may engage a cover designer and other freelance talent.

Then, there’s the label Indie Author…

Is Indie different from Self-Published?

I explored that question in a post back in October of 2013—“What IS An Indie Author?”

I also explored a relatively new organization for Indie authors in the post, Why Would An Author Want To Be Independent?, which has two informational videos with Mark Coker of Smashwords and Orna Ross from the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).

In a recent e-mail I received from Orna, these benefits of ALLi membership were shared:

  • A “How To Self-Publish Well” education pack, with free ebooks and seminal articles from our advisors and friends, including Mark Coker, Joel Friedlander, Jane Friedman, David Gaughran, Joanna Penn, Mark McGuinness and more
  • Multiple ways to connect with, and learn from, other members
  • Great discounts and deals
  • Monthly online events, including our “Sell More Books” monthly meetup
  • Watchdog and Rating of Author Services globally
  • Rights & Contracts Advice service
  • Foreign and subsidiary rights services, including a massive discount on Pubmatch and IPR Licence, an agent who’ll assess your books for foreign rights potential
  • Through these benefits, we’ve given hundreds of indie authors the information and skills to publish better and sell more books

Here’s what they say about their Service Directory:

“ALLi’s Self-Publishing Service Directory, which launches January 2015, is the first of its kind: a showcase of vetted services for self-publishers, combined with advice and tips on assembling the perfect team to produce books and literary projects that adhere to ALLi standards of ethics and excellence.”

You can read a preview of ALLi’s Service Directory.

And, you can also get some of ALLi’s Author Guidebooks.

I’d love to have some of you answer these questions in the Comments:

Have you Self-Published?

Are you an Indie Author?

Do you want to Self-Publish?

Are you working toward being an Indie Author?
Check Out Our Latest Poll…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com


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