Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Top Posts & Pages for #Readers, #Writers, & #Publishers

I usually promote a post from other blogs on Sundays; but, today, I’ll promote the most visited posts and pages on this blog since its beginning in January of 2011

There have been over 105,000 visits

35,035 visits were to the main page—showing whatever posts happened to be current.

5,228 visits were to the About Page, which is usually a well-viewed feature on most any blog.

2,126 were to Writing Challenge ~ Use The 1200 Most Common Words To Write A Story…


1,837 were to * The Book ~ Notes from An Alien

1,216 were to Why Do Certain People Become Writers?

975 went to Free Software for Writers . . .

718 went to What’s The “Best” Way To Learn “Proper” Grammar?

635 went to Are Fiction Writers Capable of Freelancing?

601 went to * Behind The Scenes . . .

600 went to Diagramming Sentences ~ A Lost Art?

585 ended up at The Danger of A Single Story

483 visits went to * Our Author Interviews

453 were to What’s The Relationship Between A Writer & Their Characters?

438 were visits to Writing ~ Is It A Craft or An Art?

And, finally, 406 lucky people ended up at What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?

These were the most visited of 1,787 posts and 9 pages…

So, why did I say the 406 folks who went to What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies? were lucky?

Because, I consider that post the most important thing I’ve written in the last six years of blogging.

If you’re new here, you can also access the Top Tags widget (further down on the left side-bar) for a handy way to find groups of posts with similar ideas
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Conflict in every scene? Disasters in every act? Yes and no

Straightforward and valuable advice for writers from Roz Morris in today’s re-blog :-)

Nail Your Novel

15517166590_fabb8e02ee_oI’ve had an interesting question from Ben Collins.

I have read that each part of a novel should contain a ‘disaster’ and that every scene should either contain conflict or be deleted. Is this too rigid a formula, or do you think it is correct?

That’s a good question with a lot of answers.

So let’s take it apart.

‘Every scene should either contain conflict or be deleted’

I certainly subscribe to the view that every scene should feel like it’s moving forwards. Something should change, and in a way that keeps the reader curious.

In my plot book I talk about the 4 Cs of a plot – crescendo, curiosity, coherence and change. You can hear me discuss it here with Joanna Penn on her podcast. Three of those Cs are relevant to this question – curiosity change, and crescendo. Crescendo is a sense that the pressure is…

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Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Thirty-Six

A Higher Calling

Alexander M Zoltai


He couldn’t understand…

His usual methods weren’t working…

She acted nicely enough in his presence; but, remained icy at her core.

Every time he asked her for a date, she accepted; yet, the signals were extremely clear—Be proper or I’m out of here

He recalled articles from years ago saying that women craved sex as much as men; but, with that off the menu, what did she want from him…?


He finally decided he just had to ask her…

He did and she said he should wait for her written answer in his mailbox…


It arrived and it said:

You have remarkable abilities and a captivating personality.

I go out with you because I keep hoping you’ll see beyond your body’s demands and notice me…

Oh, I know you’ve noticed my body; but, I keep expecting you to peek into my soul…

I fear this letter will sever our relationship; yet, I hope you want more than fun and social games.

Think about it…

I give in to your desire for sex—you and I enjoy it—it does what it usually does—creates the urge for a deeper connection—you back away and have to find another woman that won’t make you think about commitment…

Can you do that for the rest of your life?

Your penis will more than likely keep working; but, what about your heart?

I care, deeply, for you…

But, I care about the real you, not the you that so strongly identifies with your very mortal body…

Will you see me soon to talk about this; or, will you run………?


Read More Story Bazaar Tales

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#MainStreetWriters > “…a tiny writing festival steps into the big leagues”

My original article about the Main Street Writers Movement is where I explain its goals and principles and help you become a part of the Movement (there are no fees...).

Main Street Writers Movement

Click this Image to find out How to Join…

Today’s post is about an article on the Forest Avenue Press site—Main Street Writers Movement: In rural Oregon, a tiny writing festival steps into the big leagues.

Here are just a few excerpts:

“In rural Oregon, literary life tends to happen in solitude.”

“Here, writers work behind closed doors and are forced to go elsewhere for writerly conviviality.”

I just want to point out that this is being said about a town of 30,000 people. However, some folks in very large cities feel like this

“Writers here—real writers, who fill pages and tell stories and dream big—sometimes haven’t yet gotten the message that they don’t need anyone else’s permission to identify as such.”

Again, this is something many writers in large cities need to know

The Terroir Creative Writing Festival has always aimed…to bring the conversations to the people where they can access it and make it affordable to all. Yes, it’s about creating a literary community, but it is also about teaching people to value their own stories, their own processes, and to give them the tools needed to move their creativity a notch every year.”

The Terroir Creative Writing Festival honors what this particular soil has given birth to and recognizes that soil needs compost just as creativity needs its own type of fertilizer.

Do read the full article for more info on this “tiny” but interesting festival

Here’s one more excerpt for those in “small” towns—something to possibly inspire you to have your own festival (or, at least, join the Main Street Writers Movement…)

“McMinnville hosts smaller events on the literary calendar—author talks at the local Linfield College, an open mic series, a writer’s group at the library, so I don’t want to give anyone the impression that it’s some kind of creative wasteland out here. It’s not. But Terroir is the one time of year when all the writers seem to come out of the woodwork, reconnect, get inspired, and sally forth with strength and inspiration into their own projects.”

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“The Woman Who Read Too Much”

The Woman Who Read Too Much - Bahiyyih Nakhjavani

Bahiyyih Nakhjavání, Author of “The Woman Who Read Too Much”

Because of my feelings of the importance of the book I talk about in this post, I’m leaving it up here at the top of the blog for three days ( tell your friends—writers and readers :-)


On July 19th and 20th, 1848, there was, in Seneca Falls, N.Y., USA, the Woman’s Rights Convention, led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, which produced the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions

However, just a bit earlier, in late June and early July, 1848, in the country of Iran, there was the Conference of Badasht, at which a woman named Táhirih removed her veil, symbolizing a clear break with the past and ushering in the age of women’s equality

I can remember reading about Táhirih and the conditions of Iran (then called Persia) in the mid-1800s in the book, The Dawn-Breakers

There was unrestrained turmoil because of the birth of a new consciousness of the purpose of humanity and how that should be expressed in society

But, Dawn-Breakers was a history book.

The Woman Who Read Too Much, by Bahiyyih Nakhjavání, is a novel based on the few indisputable facts we have about the life of Táhirih.

A Kirkus review of the book said:

“Nakhjavani deftly transforms an incomplete history into legend.

“An ambitious effort produces an expertly crafted epic.”

The Guardian, (in a more complete review) said:

“It is, of course, a male society in which women have found ways to manipulate policies and influence the course of events, but from the shadows of the anderoun, the women’s section of the palace. In this, Táhirih stands almost alone as ‘the Woman Who Read Too Much’, her acquired art granting her access to knowledge and her knowledge the courage to speak. Táhirih marvellously exemplifies the power of the reader, and the fear this power elicits in those placed in positions of authority.”

I’ll excerpt just a bit from the book itself.

About the men, when Táhirih removed her veil, at the Conference of Badasht:

“They found themselves listening to her at the same time as seeing words form on her lips. They discovered themselves reading the lineaments of her face even as they heard her talk. And they saw gardens and rivers flowing from her mouth, as she spoke, with breath-taking eloquence, of paradise.”

And, about the women Táhirih spoke to, in the female section of a residence, during a marriage celebration:

“Everyone was intoxicated by that rose-red voice floating out on the air. Everyone was drunk on the wine of the words of the poetess of Qazvin.

“The women became pensive after that. They stopped dreaming of being brides and imagined being in love. They ceased thinking of themselves as wives and pondered what it meant to be human beings. They no longer chewed on gossip but hungered for the possibility of truth. They clucked, they swayed on their haunches, they argued for days about whether or not the poetess had actually named her Beloved, and why she had given a book to a bride. They disagreed over everything about her.

“But though those who heard her speak never forgot her, none remembered precisely what she said.”

And, a bit from Bahiyyih Nakhjavání in the Afterword of her novel:

“I wrote a fiction inspired by the life of Tahirih rather than a biography based on her life because literature allows for contrary interpretations to exist simultaneously.”

“Foreign diplomats, travellers, and scholars wrote of her. Sarah Bernhardt even commissioned a play about her. Her ideals were taken up enthusiastically in Austria and the Netherlands, in America, in Russia, and in France, and aspects of her life have been turned into poems, plays, tapestries…”

“[The book’s] chronology has been reversed in order to trace the links between her prophetic words and the men who held power over her contemporaries.”

And, because of what I feel is the importance of this book—for women (and, men...) and for all writers—here’s a talk by Bahiyyih Nakhjavání about how and why she wrote The Woman Who Read Too Much:

If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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