Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Fifty-Three

For the Children

Alexander M Zoltai


We’d travelled to the mountains—found the hidden valley—discovered the training camp…

The sun hadn’t risen yet, but would soon light the valley…

Our film crew was there to do a documentary…

The team had been carefully selected—no one with a record of government involvement…

The documentary was to be about the most fearsome terrorist organization in the world.

They, of course, did their own horrific promotion videos for the Internet; but, my reputation as an independent film-maker apparently gave me the highly questionable “privilege” of showing the world the inner workings of their main training facility.

We’d been cautioned to not film on the way in; but, now that we’d arrived, we scrambled out of the two four-wheel vehicles and immediately began creating the establishing-footage; during which, I couldn’t help but notice all the children—some teens; but, many younger—all carrying guns and ammo belts…

I told the team to focus on the kids—the swelling sunlight made some wonderful dark/light compositions…

We spent all day filming—wildly ripping through digital storage capacity—knowing this was a set of one-takes that would need very careful editing. We were assured by the camp leader that one of their outside agents would contact us in three months to view our finished product…

I kept urging my team to include as much of the kids as possible, even if we’d been instructed to interview various adults—angle the shots to include the children.

Near the end of our time, I was introduced to two of the children, not yet teens, and the translator began to relate their tale as the cameras rolled…

The slightly older one, a boy, began:

“We are fighting for God’s Cause—we have special training to infiltrate a tourist area in a major European city and become glorious martyrs for the Prophet.”

The younger one, a girl, continued:

“We have no fear. God is Great and we will receive wonderful rewards in the Next Life.”

Much more was said, all of it seeming to be desperate justification for what these young humans would commit…

We finished our work in the mountain valley…

We returned to our civilization and realized it would do no good to alert the authorities—we didn’t know which city was targeted; still, we passed the word to our military contacts…

But, there were exploding martyrs all over the world—it seemed there was no way to stop them…

Our one thin hope was that we would be guided in our editing to show a powerful sub-plot with the children as the center of the action—praying our finished documentary would meet with the terrorists’ agent’s approval—praying the exposure of the kids would spark international action…

We certainly knew how to get it aired all over the place…

We certainly didn’t know how to protect those children…

All we could do was help them become the tragic stars of their own treacherous tale………


Read More Story Bazaar Tales

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Got a personal story to tell… should you make it into a novel?

Not much I can say about today’s Re-blog…

It’s from Roz Morris…

It will be unfailingly Good :-)

Nail Your Novel

mona-1This week I’ve been advising a writer who wants to gather his professional experiences into a daring expose of … well, I’m not allowed to reveal that. But there is malpractice, corruption and a lot of harm being done to innocent people. Publishers have told him they’re wary because he doesn’t have a platform as an investigative reporter. Others have suggested that he could make his experiences into a novel. And that was one of the questions he asked me. Should he?

Obviously, if you’re going to embark on fiction, there are certain mechanics to learn – storytelling, character invention, show not tell, arcs, dialogue.

But this kind of book comes with an extra challenge. If your material is a true-life account, or a memoir, or an expose, you also have to change your attitude to the content. You have to be willing to change everything – anything – in…

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It’s International Jane Friedman Day !

Jane Friedman Well, actually, it’s not really “International” Jane Friedman Day—just a day on this blog when I’ll share 6 articles by Jane that have accumulated in my Bookmarks. :-)

If you use my handy Top-Tags Widget (down a bit in the left side-bar) and click on her name, you’ll find this post (’cause I’ve tagged it…) and a copious amount of additional posts featuring a woman who’s said, on her About Page:

“I have a special interest in how the digital age is transforming writing careers, publishing, and storytelling. Rather than taking a dark view of how the Internet era has affected writers’ livelihoods, I’m more interested in how revolutionary change can inspire new business models, and how authorship will ultimately evolve. I believe history is on the writers’ side: they’ve been sustaining their careers in ever more innovative ways since the era of Gutenberg. Furthermore, I don’t think that business and art are at odds—I see how they inform and push each other to flourish.”

And, since digital self-publishing is totally transforming so many folks, I lead my sharing with her article entitled, Start Here: How to Self-Publish Your Book, that has a video and these major sections:

1. A Quick History of Self-Publishing
2.The Most Common Ways to Self-Publish Today
3.Self-Publishing: The DIY Approach I Recommend
4.How Ebook Self-Publishing Services Work
5.Creating Ebook Files
6.How to Self-Publish a Print Book
7.Investing in a Print Run: Yes or No?
8.Print-on-Demand Recommendations
9.Maximizing Your Book Sales
10.More Resources

And, in case you self-publish and haven’t really primed the world to receive your book, here’s Jane’s article, So You’re an Author Without a Social Media Presence: Now What?

Then, comes an article entitled, The Advice to Pursue Your Passion: What Does “Passion” Even Mean?, in which Jane explains:

“This is partly why I avoid the word ‘passion’. It is an excellent way to stoke someone’s anxiety….in the current cultural moment, the word has become ever more fraught—it’s tinged with a value judgment, that there’s something wrong if you haven’t discovered your passion and found the way to make it into your career. The capitalist pursuit of passion is the new horrible form of enlightenment we’re told to chase.”

And, to explore a particular “capitalist” passion that has many writers trapped on their own treadmills, I share her desperately needed article, The Pressure to Release More, More, More Titles.

And, to round out those four tool-box articles with two rather specialized topics, here are:

What Is a Hybrid Publisher? and A Writer’s Guide to Permissions and Fair Use.

If you take those links and study those articles, you’ll be further along the learning curve than most aspiring writers…
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…
Visit The Story Bazaar

Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com


It may be obvious; but…

If you don’t have children in the home, do share this Re-blog with someone who does…

Of course, ardent writers may, naturally, read it for research…

Nerdy Book Club

This is a difficult time for schools, for our country and our world. No matter what your beliefs, parents and teachers can’t help but be concerned about what is happening and how our kids have been exposed to it. Even if we do our best to protect them from the media, they go to school or to sports or to art classes and they hear or experience things we wish they hadn’t. They ask questions about what happens now? If they are older, they may even be anxious. You may be asking, as I am, how can we help them? Then I remembered one of my favorite quotes from Fred Rogers.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers

After much thought, I…

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Attention All Bookworms, Bibliophiles, and Ardent Readers

I discovered a “book subscription service” that may not be for everyone; but, for those who can appreciate it, it could be the best thing that’s ever happened… PageHabit Book Subscription Service

One other caveat—it costs $30/month—leading to two or more folks sharing an account?

The name of the service is PageHabit.

Here are a few things they say about themselves:

“We are changing the way people share stories by creating a completely immersive reading experience for every kind of book nerd. We deliver the best new release books to your door and bundle them with exclusive author insight, including written annotations, bookish goods, and an active reading community to boot. PageHabit is nothing new, it’s just better.”

Did you notice “exclusive author insight & written annotations? It’s actually PostIt notes in the book from the author…

“We noticed that there was an especially large disconnect between authors and their fans — online and in real life. We realized that through our curated boxes, we could help bridge this gap and deliver an amazing immersive reading experience.”

And, they have this little jewel of a policy:

“With every mailing, we donate on your behalf to children’s literacy. Each month, we partner with a different organization around the world and support their efforts in spreading literacy throughout their community. Our donation helps support building schools, public libraries, and community centers to ensure that every child has access to books.”

Here’s their Mission Statement about their donations—looks like a one for one deal—you get a book, the kids get a book


Now, time out for a slightly Hyped video :-)

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…
Visit The Story Bazaar

Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com