Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Fifteen

If I Didn’t Know Now What I Knew Then

Alexander M Zoltai
Dedicated to
Erin Shaw & Elliot Ward


It started with a whisper in Sardinia, followed by quiet probing in Nicoya and Ikaria.

Within a year, there was official interest in the phenomenon.

What had happened was that two women aged 108 and a man aged 110 began what was being called a “Second Puberty”.

The predominant symptoms were:

* Resumption of a mild period in the women

* Increased erections in the man

Within two years, there were five more women and seven more men, with additional symptoms, including:

*Richer hair growth in pubic area

* Woman’s breasts becoming firmer

* Men having strong, revived interest in sex—even without an erection

Certain corporations began a push to send medical teams to Sardinia, Nicoya, Ikaria, Okinawa, and Loma Linda, California.

One particular corporation sent a scientist/physician/psychologist team to Loma Linda—they began blood draws, laboratory testing of skin cells and hair, along with intensive psychological interviews.

Mary Gilbert went along with it all until the scientist wanted her to sign a paper that gave them the right to own any treatments derived from the physical specimens being taken.

In a televised interview sparked by some of Mary’s actions, she said:

“They tested me and my body without good faith—fact is, they tried to get me to sign those papers without reading them.  Something bad is beginning…”

The corporate team got full permission from two of the Loma Linda centenarians—Mary did her best to dissuade them but failed…

The team disappeared—two years later a new drug appeared on the marketplace—it was called, YoungOnceMore.

People in their 80s and 90s (there were reports of some folks as young as 45…), none of them in Second Puberty, began taking it—rumors were the health oversight organizations were heavily bribed.

People who’d taken the drug had a few weeks of illusory youth—twenty died suddenly…

TV crews began to show up in Loma Linda wanting interviews with any of the centenarian residents—Mary declined all but one of them.

The woman who approached her had said:

“Mary, we’ve got a case of corporate crime, always hard to fight; but, you seem to have had a premonition that they were up to no good. What made you not sign their consent papers?”

“Basically, the way they talked—all over-happy, too many words of praise of me—I mean who am I to be praised for something strange that happened in my body (didn’t even feel all that good—my breasts were a bit firmer but ached…) and the men were totally getting on my nerves—why in the world want to make it so anyone could have what we were struggling with…?”

“So you don’t like your Second Puberty?”

“Hell no—some folks pretended they did; but, scratch the surface, if ya know what I mean…”

“Can we video you so other folks can hear a rational explanation of what’s happening and the dangers of this YoungOnceMore craze?

“Let me think on it—come back tomorrow…”


Mary did agree to the taped interview.

It was appropriately closed captioned and shown all over the world.

A movement of younger folk—21 to 35—rose up, calling themselves “Protectors of the Respected Elders”.

It only took six months for the group to attain a membership of one million.

What caught the public’s attention were the members of “Protectors” who specialized as counselors to the centenarians—there were a constantly growing number of  the seniors contracting Second Puberty and the youth counselors transferred knowledge and feelings from elders who didn’t like the condition to those who claimed it was “Wonderful!”.


It took another six months for the deadly qualities of Second Puberty to become glaringly apparent:

* Men were becoming quite violent.

* Women were planning for births that would never come, then plunging into depression cycles that threatened mortal results.

* More and more folks, even down to their mid-30s, were taking YoungOnceMore, with a larger percentage dying.


When the drug was finally taken off the market and a new one that mitigated the Second Puberty symptoms appeared, Mary wrote a book about her experiences…

The final paragraph said:

“I need to sum-up and some folks won’t like it.

“Second Puberty is a disease, bottom line.

“You may wish for returned youth; and, you may hate the results of aging; but, there’s a way a person with an old body can feel young without fancy drugs and it’s called paying attention to your inner self.

“There’s also a reason our bodies age—all the increasing poor functioning is there to help us tune in to our Immortal Souls—the material world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, ya know…

“You sure don’t have to agree with me; but, let’s talk about it when both our souls are in the Afterlife…”


Read More Story Bazaar Tales

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Masterclass snapshots: how to write several narrators and make them sound distinct

Roz Morris nails the issue of more than one Narrator Voice in today’s re-blog :-)

Nail Your Novel

guardian classHere’s another of my favourite discussions from my recent Guardian self-editing masterclass…

characters sound distinct Nail Your NovelHow to write several narrators and make them sound distinct

One student had several narrators and was finding it hard to make them distinct. His writer group reported that they sounded too similar, especially in dialogue. One character was male and one female, so some of his critiquers were assuming the gender was the problem; that he as a male couldn’t write as a female.

Hold it there. Some writers – and readers – believe that males can’t write plausible females and vice versa. And certainly, there may be some gender-specific mentalities that are impossible to disguise … but before we all assume we’re tethered to our chromosomes, let’s consider what makes a character distinct.

Difference usually comes from outlook, education standard, moral compass, background and the character’s emotional state. I thought it far more likely that the…

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Writers Finding the Best Advice, Wherever It Might Be…

I’ve done 6 posts that involved Nilofer Merchant in some capacity. Nilofer Merchant

For those new to blogging—since I’m going to tag this post with her name, you’ll also find this article at that last link :-)

Nilofer has been called the Jane Bond of Innovation and it’s usually folks in business that follow her advice.

So, since I’m an advocate for Self-Publishing and since that route demands a number of activities that have the fragrance of business about them (especially, book promotion), it could benefit writers if they sought out what Nilofer thinks…

So, if you’ve never heard of this woman and you’re a writer (or, if you’re not a writer and you engage in any kind of business), I’ll share a bit from an article on the Strategy + Business Site called, Nilofer Merchant’s Required Reading:

Nilofer Merchant knows something about value creation. By her reckoning, she has had a hand in launching more than 100 products that have netted a combined US$18 billion in sales — first in stints at Apple and Autodesk, and later as an advisor to technology companies such as Logitech, Symantec, and HP.”

Substitute “writerly” for “corporate” in this quote:

“…Merchant sees the humanist values of diversity, inclusivity, and collaboration as the keys to creating corporate value. ‘It’s not that everyone will but that anyone can contribute’, she says.”

I should add that the inclusivity and collaboration will probably occur some time after the first draft :-)

This next excerpt is meant to be pondered (and, hopefully, remarked on in the Comments…):

“She argues for a more inclusive approach to strategy-making that enlists the people responsible for executing it….Merchant contends that social technologies and tools have given rise to a new era in which the basis for value creation is collaboration and co-creation by communities of people who are united by an aspirational purpose.”

Then, for those intensely interested in exploring “value creation” as a tool to include in their kit, there are three books and one article that Nilofer recommends.

And, here’s a video of her—meant to be “interpreted” from “corporate” to “writerly” advice (she starts by talking about her time working for Steve Jobs…):

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How do you discover the books you want to buy? Some thoughts about book marketing

Wonderful re-blog today—exploring whether the much touted book marketing venues are the ones readers really use <— at least, that's what I got out of it :-)

Nail Your Novel

long_room_interior_trinity_college_dublin_ireland_-_diliffWhere do you find the books you want to read? There are theories galore about how authors and publishers should advertise, use categories, keywords etc. But I often find myself a bit bemused by them.

Because I don’t buy books that way. These theories seem to describe a behaviour that I simply don’t recognise. But I do buy books. All the time. So where am I discovering them?

I don’t expect this post will set the world of book marketing alight. But I hope to illuminate some less acknowledged processes. And I’m curious to know what you do, so I hope you’ll join in at the end.

Facebook adverts

I’ve never bought a book that I’ve seen on a Facebook advert. Yes, I know that advertising is there to remind you a book exists, not necessarily to grab your £££ immediately. I know that adverts have to be seen a…

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Author Earnings ~ “…Turning of the Tide…?”

I’ve posted before about Hugh Howey‘s initiative Author Earnings.

Here’s the site explanation

“Our purpose is to gather and share information so that writers can make informed decisions. Our secondary mission is to call for change within the publishing community for better pay and fairer terms in all contracts. This is a website by authors and for authors.”

Today’s post will share a few of the highlights from Author Earning’s October Report

“During the five short months since May, it seems that indies have somehow lost their market share gains of the preceding 18 months. This has been counterbalanced to a limited extent by a slight uptick in traditionally-published unit sales: both Big Five and Small/Medium Traditional Publishers have each gained roughly 1% in market share. But most of the lost indie market share seems to have instead gone to Amazon Imprints, who have gained a whopping 4% in market share.”

Might be hard to believe; but, that’s not as bad as it may sound…

“Despite the Big Five’s slight uptick in unit-sales market share, their share of consumer ebook dollars has continued to drop—albeit less steeply than in previous quarters.”


“…the biggest recent winners seem to be the Small/Medium publisher authors, whose share of total Kindle author earnings has surpassed 20% for the first time.”

Taking the link to the October Report will give you a huge amount of information and speculation…

For non-link-takers, I’ll finish with:

“We have no idea whether this reversal represents the new normal—no clue at all whether what we’re seeing is a single-quarter blip before the previous relentless market-share shift toward non-traditional ebooks resumes; or whether we are seeing the true beginning of a turn in the digital book tide.

“But regardless, if you’re a traditionally published author of longstanding tenure, this change is probably good news.

“On the other hand, if you’re a relatively new traditionally published author or traditional publishing aspirant, the news is a whole lot less exciting. Because it seems the benefits of this recent increase in traditional ebook market share are not being felt equally by all authors…”

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