Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

So You Like To Write; But, Will You Ever Be An Author?

So many words in our language seem to have lost their real meanings… 

Writer and Author

Image courtesy of Mateusz Stachowski ~

“Writer” and “Author” have been forced apart by the publishing industry.

You can be the “Author” of many things—books, ideas, kind deeds, or social movements, to name a few.

But, our use of language has made a “Writer” become someone who hasn’t yet published.

If you “Write” things then you’re the “Author” of them, whether you “Publish” them or not.

So, you like to write—you’re the author of words, ideas, and stories

Do you want to have your writing published?

I’ve done a lot of writing here about Traditional Publishing as well as Self-Publishing.

And, if you haven’t really thought much about the differences and similarities, I urge you to click those two links and begin exploring

Today, I want to give you a number of resources related to issues every writer/author, if they stick with their calling, will have to deal with directly or, at least, contemplate.

First is Editing—a critical stage in preparing for publishing, whether traditional or otherwise.

I recommend (unless you’re already well-versed in the subject) that you read the article, 4 Levels of Editing Explained: Which Service Does Your Book Need?

Next is an Agent—someone you may or may not need —> little known fact: there are self-published authors who have agents

Check out this interview with the agent who discovered Jonathan Franzen’s first novel in her slush pile.

Now, let’s look closer at the Slush Pile with the article, Why Most Manuscripts Don’t Click with Literary Agents.

By the way, I feel the traditional slush piles are being replaced by the glutted digital book shelves

I should also mention here, the articles I’m linking to today are only meant as “representational” views.

If you’re deadly serious about learning more about any of the topics in this post, do spend some Prime Googling-Time

The next issue for the writer/author, whether they deal with the legacy publishers or do it themselves, is what’s variously referred to as Book Marketing, Author Promotion, or Platform Building.

However, it’s given a fresh twist in the article, Are There Limits to Literary Citizenship?

And, if you want to really stretch your mind and go where few writer/authors have gone before, check out Seventy-Two Hours on the Future of Publishing

One last note, for my readers who are still at the stage of wondering whether they’ll ever learn how to write well:

I’m hosting a game that could help you learn more about writing.

Go read my post, Let The Game Begin! :-)
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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Help Me Tell A Story

Ever wanted to write a story?

Storytelling Game

Image courtesy of Eduardo Siqueira Filho ~

Ever thought you couldn’t do it?

Well, there’s a new game that helps folks tell stories :-)

I’ve written three posts, so far, about it:

Storium — The Online Storytelling Game

Games, Life, and Storytelling

Let The Game Begin!

That last one has the details about the first Story/Game I’ve created with Storium and how you can be one of the Character/Players in Forging The Future :-)

That’s all I’ll say about it for now since, if you like games or you want to take a go at telling a story, you can check out those posts

One last note :  I’m looking for players in a couple other places as well, so act fast—the Story/Game might start this weekend………
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
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Can Authors Do What Scientists Can’t Seem To Do?

Does Climate Change matter to you?

Climate Change

Image courtesy of Miles Pfefferle ~

Bother you?

Scare you?

Not interest you at all?

There are so many scientists trying to make a case for dire days ahead for humanity; but, it might seem like no one cares

Is it because folks only care about what will happen tomorrow or in the next hour?

Is it because people just don’t believe the scientists?

Is it because we don’t understand the scientists?

Naturally, there are powerful multinational corporations narrating their own stories about those “crazy” scientists

Well, I got an email from my Best Friend this morning that revealed to me the utter creativity and profound commitment that can be mustered around the whole issue of Climate Change.

The story begins in Melbourne, Australia at the Wheeler Centre—”…the centrepiece of Melbourne’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.”

The story will continue to unfold at Free Word in London, internationales literaturfestival berlin, Krytyka Polityczna in Warsaw, and Tallaght Community Arts in Dublin.

The Project is called Weather Station and is set to explore Climate Change through Writing.

From their site:

“We’ve given five authors eighteen months to explore, research and discuss the question of our threatened environment….they’ll be sharing their thoughts, ideas and discoveries, as they work to use the power of storytelling to inspire new ways of living.”

And, from an article on Weather Station’s site—‘Deep Down, Do I Really Care?’—by author Oisin McGann, we have these words (do go to that last link for the full article):

“There’s no question that the issue of climate change is important . . . right?”

“Yet, there’s still that question, that grotesque beast of a question, scratching at the undersides of the floorboards in your brain, grunting at you to let it out into the light.”

“‘Deep down, do I really care?’”

Because, let’s face it; if human beings were spurred into action by something as straightforward as facts, we’d have solved most of society’s problems a long time ago.”

“So what’s the point of dragging five storytellers into this?”

“If the reader will only consent to take our hand, we can lead them on a dance, and in the course of that dance, in that whirling momentum, we can steer them in new directions. If they invite us into their minds, we can seed new thoughts. We can show them the world through our eyes. We can manipulate emotions.

“And it is emotion, far more than reason, that compels us to act. Facts may offer a compelling reason for doing something, but if you want to provoke people into action, you have to get personal.”

Then, he revisits his question, “‘Deep down, do I really care?’”:

When that ugly monster of a question bursts up through the floorboards and demands an answer, I’ll have one to give. I do care, because this is my problem. I’m making it my problem.”

The other writers in the project are Xiaolu Guo, Mirko Bonné, Jas Kapela, and Tony Birch.

What are your thoughts and feelings about Climate Change?

Do you think it’s the humanity-threatening challenge scientists are trying to get us to confront?

Do you think it’s already causing suffering around the world?

Do you think authors can engage people toward action, who, for various reasons, are now doing nothing?
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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Let The Game Begin!

Most of us like playing a game now and then. Storium - The Storytelling Game

Some of us would rather play games than go to work.

It’s been said Life is a Game

It’s believed Stories began around our ancestors’ campfires

Well, I’m a writer and I’m always looking for ways to encourage folks who also might want to be writers.

And, I’ve found a delightful way to help people write stories by playing a game!

I wrote about it recently in two articles:

Storium — The Online Storytelling Game

Games, Life, and Storytelling

Now, I’ve created a game in Storium and I’m looking for players

“Tilly”, my Best Friend, has already joined in, and I need 8 more folks before I begin the story.

I’m the Narrator and all the other players are Main Characters

I’ll show you the Synopsis for my first storytelling-game in a bit but I should mention that Storium is in Beta and should be released to the public by November.

If you’re already a writer (or, you want to play some games that could help you become a writer), you can create and play-out story ideas with others by donating as little as $10 to the Storium Kickstarter project :-)
>>> Check it out!

Now! I present the storytelling game I’ve just created:

Forging The Future - A Storytelling Game

Here’s my Synopsis:

April 15, 2099 — It’s time to create an additional Home for humans.

Starship Morna, with her 95 crew members, is ready to leave Earth-orbit.

Earth’s remaining inhabitants pause—-in their exertions to finalize the restoration of civilization—-to send their farewell messages to Morna’s crew via the InterMeshWeb.

Future messages to and from Morna will be few and far between because of the incredible distance she’ll travel

Morna might return to Earth, if the first leg of the mission succeeds—-voyage to Earth’s nearest neighboring system, Alpha/Beta Centauri.

The crew will attempt to establish a colony on the planet Centauri A—orbiting the Centauri double-star-system in a “figure-eight”.

A ColonySeed Hub has already been successfully landed on Centauri A and is located in an area with lush vegetation and water.

All crew members have been trained in all conceivable necessary functions.

Estimated duration of first leg of mission: eight years.

Preliminary time estimate to establish Colony: one year.

Second leg of mission—-Earth-return of up to half the crew: Optional.

The settlers will defer any considerations of implementing a particular form of government until Consultations can be completed with a convocation of all National representatives on Earth in communication with the Centauri A Colony.

Naturally, due to the lengthy signal-time between the Colony and Earth, it is to be expected that the Colonists will experiment with various Administrative Procedures.


To join my game and create your own character, you don’t have to pay any money—just send me an email: :-)

To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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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
Read More Friday Fantasy

To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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