Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Friday Fantasy ~ Number Twenty

The Merfolk’s Dilemma

~ The Merfolk were a generally happy people until they discovered their Great Problem.

Mysterious poisons from unknown parts across the ocean were killing the coral of their habitations—their homes, in the cliffs below the shelf off the shore of the island, were decomposing.

None were yet sick from the poisons but all felt strange sensations

Their Shaman was away on a Spiritual Exploration and their leader, Sheiwan, had called a General Consultation.

The playful stragglers had finally arrived and all were silent.

Sheiwan began the Consultation with their Most Powerful Prayer:

“Lord of Grandeur.

“Most Powerful, Most Forgiving Lord.

“We bring Thee our Perplexity.

“We ask for Thy Most Great Inspiration.

“Bless our Consultation and, if it be Thy Will, enable us to discover the Path Thou wouldst have us take.

“We pray this in Thy Greatest Name.

“So Let It Be

There was not a ripple of movement.

All were wrapt in devotion.

Sheiwan began to utter the subsonic Most Holy Ululation that set them all to adding their own heart-felt, wave-inducing propitiations.

The undercurrents swirled out from their Gathering and, eventually, reached the Shaman, Roalan.

He set his course for Home immediately.


The Consultation was into its second day when Roalan arrived—arrived in great pain

Sheiwan went to him:

“Roalan, I fear you come from where the poisons are strong.”

“Yes, my Lady, I never reached the Place of Noesis. I lingered in the poison stream to acquire knowledge of its properties.”

“Your perceptions, Sir?”

“We have little time. The currents carrying the poisons have merged, to our detriment. I must prepare my adepts for a treacherous mission

“I will leave you to your work and instruct our Family to maintain their prayers and supplications. I await your Counsel.”


Roalan was with his three adepts:

“You have never embarked on a quest such as this.

“You can have no preparation but utter devotion to our Family and consummate courage.

“I send you across the island to the mountain.

“I send you to your deaths

“You will swim through the river to the lake under the mountain.

“You will use the Most Holy Ululation to induce powerful riptides in the lake.

“You will continue until the mountain crumbles around you.

“And, you will meet The Most Great Lord in the World of Light.”


The Plan was simple, though three had to perish to accomplish it.

The Merfolk swam to the depths of the ocean, beyond the island’s underwater shelf, beyond any person’s previous travels—except for, perhaps, the Shaman.

The Plan unfolded.

The adepts began their trio of Most Holy Ululations.

The riptides roared.

The mountain shook violently, then fell in on itself.

A ring of rogue waves surged.


Oceanographic instruments on the shores of the continents sensed the waves.

Warnings went out and coastal cities prepared for an incursion estimated to cause no severe damage except from, possibly, bore tides sweeping up a few rivers.

When it was over, a radio station in a major city broadcast this message:

“An island in the very middle of the Great Ocean has disappeared. For unknown reasons, its mountain collapsed into the sea and set up the powerful wave-action that, thankfully, has only slightly injured three people.”


Days later, the poisons the Merfolk had escaped were concentrating along the coasts of the continents—the industrial poisons that had been generated by the people on the continents and spewed into the ocean for years

Copyright, 2014, Alexander M Zoltai
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Writers & Money ~ Revisited . . .

There are many reasons to write besides making money.

Writers and Money

Image courtesy of Svilen Milev ~

Some folks might even declare that having money as a goal is “improper”

I suppose it depends on one’s ability to be detached from the money—not having money as the prime reason for writing?

Seems that writing for only the money could easily warp some of the more humane reasons to write?

I’ve written quite a few posts about writers and money and one in particular about a new magazine that focuses on money-making opportunities—Scratch, Scratch, Who’s Got The Money?

And, l should mention a literary conference in the U.S.A. in May called, The Muse & the Marketplace.

Someone I’ve featured here many times, Jane Friedman, will be speaking at that conference and wrote in her blog post, Writing & Money: A Brief Syllabus:

“I’m…reading up on the tension between art and business, and finding that the ability of writers to earn a living through their creative work is a fairly new phenomenon, dating back to the 18th century and the rise of literacy, which largely made professional authorship possible.”

She also says, about today rather than long ago:

“…anybody and everybody can write and publish—but attention is scarce. Thus it’s little surprise that we have writers being paid in exposure, not dollars.”

Then she shares a few of the books she’s been exploring to prepare for her talk at the conference (do go to her blog post for her descriptions of these books):

Authors & Owners by Mark Rose

The Author, Art, and Market by Martha Woodmansee

The Content Machine by Michael Bhaskar

The Gift by Lewis Hyde

Make Art Make Money by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens

Then, she closes the post with a wonderful note:

“While my talk is part of the official conference schedule at The Muse, it is also free to the public. Click here to reserve your seat.

So, what are your thoughts or feelings about writing for money?
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Games, Life, and Storytelling

My love of games helped turn me into a writer.

Games and Life

Image courtesy of Dave Edmonds ~

And, I can’t help but feel that, long ago, our ancestors couldn’t tell the difference between a game and a story.

Also, games have been very successfully used to teach life skills.

So, I was excited today when my email held an article from Publishing Perspectives about goings on between writers and gamers at The London Book Fair.

The excitement was increased when I saw another article on Publishing Perspectives called Using the “World Itself as a Storytelling Canvas”.

That article was about Corey King, co-founder of ZenFri, which “creates and distributes cutting edge art & entertainment across a wide range of digital and traditional mediums.”

Corey had been on a panel at the Frankfurt Book Fair that discussed “Augmented Reality Storytelling: It’s the End of the Story as We Know It”.

ZenFri is best known for a reality-bending game played on iOS devices and called Clandestine Anomaly—a game that “…incorporates the actual neighborhood of each individual into the gameplay. Hailed at conferences around the world…as ‘the most ambitious augmented reality game ever attempted’, Corey’s mission is to define the narrative and gameplay conventions for what he sees as an emerging storytelling medium, one where the world itself is the canvas.”

Pulling myself back from the vivid fantasy of playing a game out on the streets, I want to talk about a venture that merges The Game with The Story—I featured it here two days ago, I’m already involved in it, and I’ll be inviting a few of my readers to join me

If you have the Spirit of gaming or writing in your blood, do read this past post—Storium — The Online Storytelling Game.

For those of you who tend to not take links out of blog posts, I’ll share three telling quotes from that post:

Is fiction just a game authors play with readers?”

when you’re writing, it can sometimes seem like you’re in a game with your characters and you’re not sure who’s going to win…”

If you want to write your best you need to be your best; and, if well-selected games can help you be your best, what are you waiting for?”

I’m currently creating a game over at Storium—I’ll be the Narrator—nine other folks will be the Main Characters (maybe you’ll be one of them?)—and, we’ll all write a story by playing a game, ok?

Stay tuned for Updates

“I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know are not ‘true’ because we’re hungry for another kind of truth: the mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is not about someone who lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about oneself.”

~~ Orson Scott Card, “Ender’s Game”

Check out this video about Storium:

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A Present for *You* on My Birthday :-)

Turning 68 isn’t quite the same as turning 5, or 27, or 46, or 53… 

Reading Writing and Publishing

Image courtesy of Svilen Milev ~

While remaining Young At Heart is Highly Recommended, age has its advantages—making lots of mistakes adds up to a few successes :-)

Being an author who blogs about Reading, Writing, and Publishing means I will work on my birthday; but, also means I certainly won’t feel at all bad about it.

So, before I get back to work, I wanted to pass out a few presents to my readers—6 links to articles that might have something valuable you can use:

* Here’s one from BiblioCrunchBasics of Online Ebook Retailers

Thinking about self-publishing and wanted to know about the biggest retailers for your digital and print books? We break it down for you in our easy to navigate guide…”

* And, one from ForbesHow Public Libraries Are Solving America’s Reading Problem

“According to the Pew Research Center, libraries remain the most trusted institution in the United States, ahead of the military, small businesses, the police or religious institutions.  A staggering 91% of Americans say that libraries are important to their community.”

* From author Mary Robinette Kowal—Exercising your story telling techniques

A unique, two-part set of exercises that Mary comments on with, “People sit down to write a Story, and don’t think about the fact that dialogue, point-of-view, description, voice, and plot are all techniques that can be practiced individually.”

* One from The GuardianSo you want to be a writer…

Last week Hanif Kureishi dismissed creative writing courses as ‘a waste of time’, yet they have never been more popular. [10] leading author-teachers reveal their advice to students.”

* Another from The GuardianTen rules for writing fiction—from 27 different authors

* Finally, one from The ConversationChildren’s fantasy literature: why escaping reality is good for kids

“Fantasy is a genre of literature that tends to polarise people. The oft-repeated logic is that ‘serious’ readers prefer realism while fantasy caters primarily to children or those who view reading as a form of escapism. The assumption is that fantasy is of lesser value than realist writing…”

I hope you found something valuable in a few of those articles; and, I hope you’ll share your thoughts and feelings in the Comments :-)

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Storium — The Online Storytelling Game

Have you ever played a game and had it turn into a story? Storium

Have you ever read a story and felt like it was a game?

How about playing a game that actually helps you and few other folks write a story?

I’ve blogged before about how stories and games can interact:

The Fiction Game

Is fiction just a game authors play with readers?”

Writing & Games ~ Sometimes It’s Hard To Tell Which Is Which…

when you’re writing, it can sometimes seem like you’re in a game with your characters and you’re not sure who’s going to win…”

Games for Writers ( or, really, anyone :-)

If you want to write your best you need to be your best; and, if well-selected games can help you be your best, what are you waiting for?”

Now, I’ll introduce you to a new online storytelling game—STORIUM.

The game is still being Kickstarted but they do have a Beta version you can play with ( I just donated $10 and have access to the Beta :-)

From the site:

“Storium is a new kind of online game where you and your friends tell any story you can imagine, together.”

“Stories are part of what makes us human.”

“They’re all around us, from books and movies to TV and video games.”

“Experiencing a good story can be one of life’s great pleasures. But telling your own can be even more fun!”

“Storium uses familiar game concepts inspired by card games, role-playing games, video games, and more.”

“In each Storium game, one player is the narrator, and everyone else takes on the role of a character in the story.”

“The narrator creates dramatic challenges for the other players to overcome.”

“In doing so, they move the story forward in a new direction.”

“Everyone gets their turn at telling the story.”

“What makes Storium special?

  • Total freedom: You decide what happens in your story.
  • Multiplayer: Write and play with your friends, online.
  • Asynchronous: Play at your own pace.
  • Worlds: Pre-made playsets that help you tell stories in different settings and styles.
  • Something for everyone: You can tell any kind of story you want!”

They have two videos on the site:

First, one of the creators telling you about the background of Storium and what their Kickstarter Project is for.

And, one showing you the basics of how a game of storytelling works.

If you’re already a writer, this game could help you relax any tensions you might have about how writing “works” and even inspire new ways to create your own stories.

If you been toying with the idea of becoming a writer, this game could become your “basic training” :-)

“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”

~ Muriel Rukeyser

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For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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