Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Friday Poll ~ Readers’ & Writers’ Distractions

As always, we lead off with the results from last week’s poll—Are there too many books in the world? 

Readers - Writers Distractions

Image Courtesy of Michael & Christa Richert ~

The top vote went to “No” with 66.7% of the responses.

The “Other”, Fill-in answers were “Hell No” and “Not when you consider the millions of poor who can’t get any books” at 16.7%.

So, “No” was actually 83.4% !

Then came “Yes” and “Maybe” with 8.3% each.

Sure looks like most readers of this blog are  quite happy with billions of books :-)


Now, this week’s poll—What Distracts You from Reading or Writing?

I’ve constructed the poll so you can answer as a reader, or a writer, or both…

I actually did a mini-survey with some readers and writers to come up with the answers you can just tick-off with your vote.

And, of course, there’s the handy “Other” so you can fill in your unique votes.

When you use “Other”, be sure to preface your distraction with “Reader” or “Writer” (or, Both) so I can tally them separately…

Naturally, you can vote for as many choices as you want :-)

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Book Awards for Self-Published Authors

Blue Ribbon

Image courtesy of Billy Alexander ~

Can winning an award give a self-published book a boost?

Well, it is one form of book promotion…

And, even though book promotion can seem like too much hard work for creative writers there are so many ways to promote books that anyone should be able to find a bearable combination of tasks to aid sales…

And, lest you think that getting a contract from a big publisher will take care of all the business of book promotion, consider this statement on Joe Konrath’s blog (which includes book promotion, along with other legacy “services”):

“…the vast majority of us who sign with legacy publishers, hoping for the ideal experience legacy can offer, have our expectations dashed.

“Imagine going to a restaurant, paying $50 for a steak, and getting a tiny bit of gristle and a single sprig of undercooked broccoli. Wouldn’t you be mad at the restaurant?

“Actually, if you were starving to death, no you wouldn’t. You’d be grateful for the shit they served you, and you’d pray to the universe they would deign to serve you again.”

Also, you may want to check out the 39 posts I have on book promotion

So, can winning an award give your self-published book a boost?

Like all things in the world of books, maybe………

But, in case you have been or are considering self-publishing and you want to investigate the possible benefits of winning an award, The Alliance of Independent Authors have an article called 50 Book Awards Open to Self-publishers.

I’ll list the links they offer but also include their Warning:

“As ever on the internet, be scam savvy when considering awards, since competition fees can be quite hefty. Check out the Writer Beware site.”



Last Day to Vote in 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

Can Stories Change Society?

Most of us have read a story that’s changed us, in some way.

Often, these are news stories…

Sometimes, stories told by friends…

Even fictional stories have the power to induce lasting change in our lives…

Back in May, I wrote a post that focused on an organization that facilitates story-telling for social change.

I’m not going to encourage you to join the organization; but, whether you’re a Reader, Writer, or Publisher, I think you could learn something from them…


I’m reproducing that past post.

[ There are a couple freebies in it :-) ]


As a writer, I often wonder about the future… 

Actually, because of some of my research, I hold the future in Great Wonder.

And, because I’m a writer, I have the power of words to help me, even if falteringly, to potentially shape some of the Future.

What if you knew about an organization that could help you  “change the story on the issues that matter most.”

Change the Story

Some say we humans are story-telling creatures.

Think for a moment about all the stories you hear every day—from family, friends, co-workers, bosses, corporations, and governments

Well, that organization that can help change the story that surrounds certain issues has a Vision:

“We believe that together we can move towards a just economy, a healthy planet, and a better future for all.”

Something else this organization says, that evokes deep feelings for me, is:

“We believe the root cause of today’s crises lie in the potent mythologies that normalize an unjust status quo.”

The organization is the Center for Story-Based Strategy.

One thing I find fascinating about this organization is their willingness to teach the power of sharing compelling stories to help create a better future for our human family and this home, our planet

They have a .pdf you can download—Harnessing the Power of Narrative for Social Change—which includes the elements of story-telling as well as this quote:

“There are many different ways to win the Battle of the Story whether it’s by re-framing the issue, amplifying previously unheard voices, or offering new solutions. The story-based strategy approach offers a flexible methodology for campaign or community stakeholders to encapsulate their common experience and vision into a powerful, shared narrative.”

Here’s another .pdf you can download—Giant Whispers: Narrative Power, Radical Imagination and a Future Worth Fighting For…—which has this quote:

“Beyond our much-hyped opposable thumbs and our ability to stand erect on two feet, humans are unique in the animal kingdom for our relationship with narrative. We humans are storytelling animals, constructing our social reality through our ability to create, interpret, and contest stories about the world around us and our place within it. We think, dream, remember, and believe through the filter of narrative.”

Do you tell stories?

Do you feel they have power?

Do you wish you could learn how to make them more compelling?

I’ll leave you with this video, which brings up a story from Amazon

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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

Clearing Our Heads About Amazon

First, even though I cover Reading, Writing, and Publishing, Amazon does not carry only books.

Amazon Hachette

Image Courtesy of mantis wong ~

That may be quite obvious but, in the raging battles over the company, there are many folk who, for various reasons, forget the obvious…

If you haven’t been up to speed on the Amazon-Hachette battle, the best I can do to catch you up is have you read my past post, Almost Against My Will ~ Yet Another Look At The Amazon–Hachette Dispute…

And, to catch you up on other important issues in the book and publishing world, check out these articles by Joe Konrath:

For the Authors Guild & Other Legacy Publishing Pundits

Death and the Self-Pubbed Writer

Konrath’s Advice to Publishers

I thought my post up there, with Almost Against My Will in the title, would be my last about Amazon, for awhile—the hoopla and grizzly name-calling is just too much…


When Joe Konrath weighs-in, reason lights up the alleys of conflict, so, I’m sharing this article:

The great Amazon debate: A leading Amazon critic and a self-publishing rock star try to find common ground

This is a communication between Konrath and Rob Spillman, editor of Tin House magazine and editorial advisor of Tin House Books.

At the beginning of the piece, Spillman refers to Konrath as an author who “…has self-published 24 novels (three of them No. 1 Amazon sellers), hundreds of stories, and has sold over 3 million copies of his books.”

Then comes Rob’s letter to Joe, then Joe’s answer, then Rob’s attempt at rapprochement…

For those of you who don’t follow links and read what they point to, I’ll give you just one excerpt of what Joe says concerning his experience with the “Big” publishers and, then, his experience with Amazon:

“I was a Roman prisoner in the Coliseum, being feasted on by lions. Those lions were big publishers. After 20 years, a million written words, and nine rejected novels, I finally landed a book contract. And I worked my ass off and published eight novels with legacy publishers, dozens of short stories with respected magazines, and went above and beyond everything that was required of me, in order to succeed.

“And I got eaten. One-sided contracts, broken promises, lousy money. But it was the only game in town. If I wanted to make a living as a writer, I had no choice.

“Then Amazon invented the Kindle.

“I first self-pubbed in May of 2009. That first month I made $1,500, publishing books that New York rejected.”

Joe went on to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars from those “rejected” books…

So, if you’ve been confused about whether Amazon is an evil giant and Hachette is the aggrieved party, read that article…
Check Out Our Latest Poll…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
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To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
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Author Interview ~ Nathaniel Danes

Released Oct. 14: Nathaniel Danes’ The Last Hero, Book One The Last Hero

And, we have Nathaniel here today for an interview!

Let’s get rolling…


Welcome to the blog, Nathaniel. Please tell us a little about your newly released novel.

Thank you for having me, Alex.

The Last Hero starts off a couple hundred years in the future after first contact with a race of pacifists has convinced humanity to make peace with itself and disarm.

When we first met the hero, the last Medal of Honor recipient, he’s selling insurance for his father-in-law. A natural warrior, he’s made the best of a demilitarized Earth and become a dedicated family man. He gets drafted back into active service after a third race destroys the New Earth colony, forcing a crash mobilization.

As he travels the galaxy fighting the war, he struggles with the internal conflict between his lust for battle and his father’s-heart which just wants to be with his daughter. And, the law of relativity comes into play, to complicate things.

There are big space battles and large-scale ground engagements—keeps the blood flowing; but, it’s a deeper story than just action—explosion—fire fight—explosion—the end.

I understand this is part of a series or larger universe…?

Absolutely! This is book one of a trilogy. I’m already editing book two and have the third and final installment worked out in my head.

What inspired you to write this story, Nathaniel?

I’ve always had an over-active imagination. As an adult I use it as a coping mechanism to deal with my encroaching blindness. I’m losing my sight to a genetic disorder. To escape this depressing reality I like to drift off and let my imagination go wild. I watch and read a lot of sci-fi which helps to plant seeds…

Eventually, I worked this story out in my head and had to get it out.

Do science and technology play an important role in this story (or in your work in general), or is it secondary to the story-telling and characterization?

If forced to rank them, I’d have to say they’re secondary, though technology certainly does play an important role in the story. It’s just not as important as everything else.

Do you have plans to expand the universe in this trilogy?

I’ve toyed with the idea of doing another series in this universe, but it’s way too early to commit myself either way.

Do you also write short stories, Nathaniel?

Can’t say I’ve ever written a short story. I like bigger plots and deeper history than can typically be achieved in a short story.

What advice would you give the aspiring writer?

Write and read and write some more.

For most people, myself included, it takes a lot of practice before you start to develop into a writer who people will want to read.

Also, find a friend who can read your work and give honest and educated feedback.

Lastly, don’t get discouraged. Success in anything rarely comes fast or easy.

Who’s your single, most influential author in science fiction and what impact have they had on our own work?

Hands down, Joe Haldeman.

To be honest, I’ve only ever read one of his books, The Forever War; but, that’s what got me hooked on military science fiction novels.

Reading is a challenge for me and I used to read only military history. The Forever War changed that and set me on the path that led to writing The Last Hero.

Do you have any other projects in the works not in The Last Hero‘s universe?

I’ve actually already written the first two books in another series that will come out after The Last Hero series has concluded.

And, something I’m sure our readers will want to know—your website? And, your readers can read the first three chapters of The Last Hero for free :-)

Nathaniel, been a pleasure—much success to you, Sir…


And, folks, here are a few more links for Nathaniel:
Read More Author Interviews
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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