Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Six


Alexander M Zoltai
Dedicated to


She couldn’t wait for her birthday to arrive.

Six weeks till she’d turn fifteen.

So much to do to get ready…

Her friends had trouble understanding her seriousness about it all.

Sue had said, “Come on, Mary, lighten up—it’s just fifteen not thirty-two!”

But, Mary didn’t know how to explain what was going to happen…


She was very near the top.

She’d started at sundown.

It was now pitch-dark.

She knew the clouds swirled below her.

She knew an eagle soared overhead.

She gave it her all—hauled her body up over an outcrop to the peak and sat, happily exhausted.

Gazing at the stars she prepared for the final step.

She jumped… up… and soared…

Then, she woke and spoke to herself:

“Will it really be that important?”


One week to go…

Mary finally figured out what to say to Sue.

She caught up with her at the mall and offered to buy her a tea.

After they got their order and sat down, Mary said:

“So… The reason turning fifteen is so important—Wait…You remember my parents are religious, right?”

“Yeah, but not so you could tell—just real nice people.”

“They are—best parents ever—but, very religious; and, in our Faith, fifteen is the age of choice—could say age of responsibility. I have to decide, have decided really, whether I’ll be an official member of the Faith—follow all the laws.”


“Yep—not many really, mostly a lot of guidance on how to be of service to humanity…”


“Yeah, some real laws, like no alcohol.”

“What else…”

“There’s a nineteen day fast in the spring.”

“Fast? No food?”

“No food, no drink; but, only from Sunup to Sundown.”


“Actually it’s good for your health to fast…”

“Yeah, yeah—what else?”

“I get to choose one of three special prayers to say every day—already been saying the short one since I was five—might say the medium and long ones for a bit—see how they feel…”

“What else?”

“I think the only other one is saying some of the sacred writings every morning and evening.”

“That’s it?”

“Pretty sure—yeah.”

“Don’t know about the fast…”

“Me either; but, I gotta try.”



“Yeah, why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do you have to make it official, make yourself follow laws.”



“Well… I want to do what my Prophet says is good for me…”

“How do you know your Prophet knows what’s good for you?”

“My parents explained a lot of it to me, I been studying hard since I was eleven—it just seems right in my mind—more important… in my heart…”

“Now you’re talkin’—heart…”



“You said it!”


The girls dissolved into sweet giggles…


Read More Story Bazaar Tales

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Editing seminar snapshots: How much should you budget for editing your book? And how should you choose an editor?

Just *had* to give you another Roz Morris re-blog—especially since she’s so comprehensive in this one, about editing…

Nail Your Novel

w&alogoThis very good question came up when I spoke at the Writers & Artists selfpublishing summit a few months ago. And my answer… deserves a post.

dollar-1071788_960_720First, there seem to be two modes for charging: by the hour and by the wordcount or page. With the wordcount, writers can be quoted a fixed price, so everyone knows where they stand. With an hourly rate, it’s much more difficult for the writer to know how much they’ll be spending.

The convention seems to be that developmental editing is quoted by the wordcount or page, and other phases are priced by hour. Here’s a post that describes the different editing processes and the order to use them in.

Second, editors set their own fees. Does a low price indicate good value? It might if the editor is starting out and doesn’t yet have a reputation. But might they also be lacking…

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Why Are There Still So Many People Who Don’t Have Books to Read?

Many organizations and individuals work very hard to get books to those who have none… worldreader

One individual is linked-to in the left side-bar—his organization is called GoneReadingyou can buy really cool gifts for readers; yet, they give “100% of after-tax profits to fund reading-related charities…”.

I have an interview with the founder of GoneReading.

Another organization I’ve written about is WorldReader (here are the posts I’ve done about them…).

Here’s just a bit of explanation of what WorldReader does:

Literacy is transformative

It increases earning potential, decreases inequality, improves health outcomes and breaks the cycle of poverty. Books are necessary for the development of literacy skills yet millions of people still have limited access to books.

We’re changing this.

WorldReader does its work by supplying folks with e-readers stocked with books appropriate for their age and culture

Plus, today on TechCrunch, there was an article involving WorldReader called, Amazon Launches the Kindle Reading Fund to Expand Digital Reading Around the World.

Do read the full article to find out how broadly Amazon‘s initiative reaches; but, here’s an excerpt about their affiliation with WorldReader:

“The company says its new collaboration with Worldreader will see Amazon donating thousands of Kindle e-readers to developing nations. The two have worked together previously, however. For example, Amazon recently supported Worldreader’s LEAP 2.0 library partnership in Kenya, which reaches around 500,000 people by bringing digital reading to 61 libraries in the country.”

It’s been said there are one billion people on our planet with no access to books

If you want to be inspired to do something about this, watch these two videos

This one was done in association with Kindle:


This one is from WorldReader, directly:

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Writing a slow-burn book? Three surprising ways to measure progress

Here’s another re-blog with Roz Morris…

Hey! You writers—pay attention :-)

Nail Your Novel

600px-Arbol_de_PiedraSome novels take their time, especially those of a literary hue. We might need to quarry vast amounts of possibilities and storyways, find the book’s particular character, discover what a stubborn idea wants to be. (Here’s a post about it – What takes literary writers so long.)

With all that exploring and uncertainty, it can feel like we’re getting nowhere. Then something will suddenly reveal that we actually have more substance than we suspected. It’s happened to me a few times recently with Ever Rest, so I thought I’d share them here.

1 Conduct a research interview

A few months ago I needed input on the story, so I chatted up an expert and told him the story, from start to finish, checking every development and assumption. As I’d hoped, this clarified vital questions and generated ideas, but I also realised it marked a milestone. This was the…

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Oh, My! How Can I Use #SocialMedia and Not Go Bonkers?

I’ve covered Social Media on this blog quite a bit—mostly because of my trials and travails in attempting to figure out if it helps me as an author…

Here are 20 articles on Social Media (if you click that link before I write another post about social media, this post will be at the top of the list).

Here are over 50 posts with “social media” somewhere in the text

And, two specific posts:

Selling Your Soul With Social Media

Is #SocialMedia Really Good for #BookPromotion?

Still, since social media is nearly constantly changing and since many authors swear by its use, I turned to one of the smartest folks I know, who specializes in helping authors promote themselves—Jane Friedman.

She has a recent guest article, by Kirsten Oliphant, called, How to Be Active on Social Media without Losing Your Mind.

Here come a few excerpts ( those with a burning desire to know should read the full article :-)

“The biggest issue I hear from people struggling with online marketing is TIME. Many writers struggle to balance social media and writing or creative work. Since we don’t have the option to go back before the age of Twitter, we are left with a few options.”

She follows with a few ideas on the options “Hire it out” and “Gripe and procrastinate”; then, she dives deeply into “Master and manage” with these bullet points:

1. Choose Your Platforms

2. Set Up Systems and a Workflow

3. Automating Effectively

4. Scheduling Effectively

5. Engaging Effectively

Here are her “Final Thoughts”:

“An effective workflow will include automation, scheduling, and interacting in real time without exhausting all your time or energy. Start with one or two platforms and set up your systems…Whatever you do, don’t wait until you’ve completed a manuscript to start considering your platform.”

She promises, with her advice, that you can “make the most of your time by working smarter, not longer.”

And, if you want more of her advice, check out her Seriously Simple Social Media Strategy…
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com