Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

A Game That Could Help Folks with #WritersBlock or Let Writers Without a Block Have Some Challenging Fun :-)


As of this post, there are 6 articles on games and writing (if you take <— that link, you’ll see this post since it has the tag “games”—just scroll down to see the others…). Elegy for a Dead World

I, personally, have found (being a bit of a gamer in my time) that the creative decision-making in certain games and the “story” creation in some world-building games are close analogues to what happens inside me when I write.

So, Laurie Vazquez “…writes about science and technology for Popular Science, TIME, and FiatPhysica.”

She recently wrote an article called, How One Video Game Helped Me Overcome Writer’s Block.

I’ll share just two excerpts from her article:

Elegy for a Dead World is a game we’ve written about but never played before. Created by indie developers Dejobaan Games, Elegy puts players in the position of an astronaut exploring three beautiful, abandoned worlds. All are colorful and rich, but desolate and broken. Their designs are inspired by three landmark poems: Ozymandius by Percy Shelley, When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be by John Keats, and Darkness by Lord Byron. It is the astronaut’s – and player’s – job to investigate each world, catalogue the remains, and piece together the mysteries of each civilization by completing 27 writing challenges. The worlds are merely prompts for writing, and the goal of the game as Dejobaan sees is it is ‘everyone can write’.”

After going into detail about her experience playing the game, Laurie says:

“By the time I’d gotten to the end, I was sad I was finished. So I went and played through the worlds again with different prompts. Now that I’d found my groove and trusted my writing abilities again, it was a joy — and that is the great secret of this game. Elegy does everything it can to inspire you.”

The game is out for Windows, Mac and Linux.

And, on the game’s site they say:

“In Elegy for a Dead World, you travel to distant planets and create stories about the people who once lived there.

“Three portals have opened to uncharted worlds. Earth has sent a team of explorers to investigate them, but after an accident, you are the sole survivor. Your mission remains the same: survey these worlds and write the only accounts of them that outsiders will ever know.”

If you go to that last link, you’ll see how much effort they’ve put into designing an experience that lets Anyone write :-)

Plus, so many writers say the way to break writers’ block is to just write, whether it’s one word over and over or gibberish or copying the back of a cereal box—seems this game might be a bit better than those mindless acts

And, here’s a video about it:

Plus, here are selected preview articles and other mentions:

And, one last video with the game’s project leads, Ichiro and Ziba (be aware the guy interviewing them is Way Too Excited :-)


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Found in translation: three literary translators share tips and secrets


Translation is a strange Art & Roz Morris lets us hear from three of these artists in today’s re-blog…

Nail Your Novel

A few months ago I mentioned in one of my newsletters that I was submitting my novels to Amazon Crossing, and one of my Undercover Soundtrackers, Alison Layland, sent me a ‘good luck’ note. But I didn’t know that Alison is herself a literary translator – and that made me think it would be fun to run a post on this often unexplored corner of writing life. A call to my Twitter followers unearthed two more literary polyglots. So if you’ve ever wondered if translation would be a good career for you, or considered working with a translator, or are simply curious … read on.

Dramatis personae

Rachel Ward Rachel Ward

Rachel Ward @fwdtranslations translates from French and German to English, particularly crime fiction, women’s fiction and children’s books. In non-fiction, she has translated recipe books and titles on history, art and politics.

Lisa Carter Lisa Carter

Lisa Carter @Intralingo translates from Spanish…

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Are your email marketing tactics putting readers off? A plea for ethical email etiquette


Sanity and Sensibility from Roz in today’s re-blog…

Nail Your Novel

Welcome_doormat smlI know email newsletters are the holy grail of marketing and building an audience. I fully accept that we need to nudge people to sign up. I know we need to use calls to action, and not be afraid to say ‘here’s my book and here’s where to buy it’ or ‘this offer will end soon’.

But a lot of email marketing now seems to overstep the mark. And some particularly odious tactics are being taught as techniques for success.

I’ve been provoked to write this because I’ve been sent a rather tempting offer – to promote a course on email marketing, for which I’d get a 75% affiliate fee. Very generous, but … I loathe many of the tactics they teach. I can’t promote a course that teaches them. Not even for 75%.

Are there any email marketing tactics you’d like to see outlawed? Here are my top three.

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Some Thoughts on Reading and Social/Technological Change


There is no doubt that the last two decades have seen some remarkable changes in how reading can be done; and, folks seem to want to draw broad generalizations and cite suspicious surveys and “studies” to support some fairly radical ideas about what all us readers are doing… 

Modern Reading

Image Courtesy of Horton Web Design ~ http://www.HortonGroup.com

There was an article on Digital Book World a few months ago that related some common (but possibly false) reflections on readers—it’s title is How Are Books Changing?

Here are some of the comments I can’t agree with completely:

“The act of reading for pleasure is often considered just another activity—and perhaps a boring one at that—up there with watching a TV show, listening to a podcast or sending endless texts.”

“It’s clear that reading does not hold the overall importance in today’s society that it did for previous generations.”

“…for many, the way we’re reading books has undeniably changed…”

And, one comment in particular seems to me to need some deep fact-checking:

“Not as many people read as before, and for many people who do in fact read, they have neither the desire nor the time to read something lengthy, or to waste any time reading a book they may ultimately put down unfinished.”

The only other thing I’ll say about that article is that a number of the comments folks left are illuminating

Since I’ve been spending so much time over on Wattpad, I wonder if folks like the author of that article are paying attention to the Wattpad phenomenon

Here are a few stats:

“Wattpad’s monthly audience is 45 million.”

“The Wattpad community collectively spends an incredible 15 billion minutes each month using Wattpad.”

“There have been over 200 million story uploads.”

“Wattpad is available in over 50 languages.”

By the way, that 15 billion minutes/month of use equals 250 million hours; and, that’s about 8 million hours per day

So, that’s at least one place there’s a huge amount of reading going on (and, none of the users have to pay a penny for the service…)

And, if you just don’t have enough book recommendations in your life, here are 6 YouTube channels where some varied folk give varied recommendations ( and, other bookish ideas and activities, none of which I can vouch for :-)

1. climbthestacks

2. PolandBananasBooks

3. jessethereader

4. Jen Campbell

5. padfootandprongs07

6. Jellafy

Happy Reading :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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

How to Write an Excellent Book


Today’s re-blog is Simplicity itself :-)

Live to Write - Write to Live

Quick post today because some of the best advice is often short and sweet.

Last week I had the opportunity to see best selling author Joe Hill at our local Barnes & Noble. We were treated to a reading, a sing-along (complete with kazoos), and an open discussion/question session. It was truly a delightful and informative evening.

Note: if you ever have the opportunity to see a visiting author, please grab it with both hands, you won’t regret it.

During the discussion/question period a young girl in the back row raised her hand. “How is it that you can always write so excellently?” she asked.

Joe thought and then replied. “The answer to that question is that I don’t write excellently. My strategy is to write one good sentence and then follow that up with another good sentence and then another one. Pretty soon I have a whole pile of…

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