Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

5 Picture Books That Have Influenced My Teaching of Social Justice Issues by Vanessa Capaldo

Even though “picture books” may seem the province of only children (or, adults reading to children), perhaps you might enjoy some of these… in a suitable hideaway? :-)

Nerdy Book Club

I am a voracious reader and a devoted middle school English teacher. Every year, my focus has been to teach my students about being kind to others and being an upstander who stands for doing what is right and taking care of those who need it. Here are 5 picture books that have influenced my teaching of social justice issues in my classroom. (They are also good for sharing with our own children.)


Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

(social justice issue – bullying)

I had the chance of hearing Woodson speak last January at a teaching conference and I was struck by how eloquent and endearing she is. This certainly bleeds into the stories she writes. This book is about a young girl at a new school who is not accepted by her peers. Rejected, Maya eventually stops coming to school. Chloe, one of the girls who did not accept…

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Little Books Might Be the Best Solution for Promotion

When I used the word “Promotion” in the title of this post, I was thinking broadly—more in a minute… 

Scout Promotional Books

Click Image to Visit Scout Books

A little over a week ago, I published a post about the Main Street Writers Movement.

Back in January, the Independent Book Publishers Association published the article, Portland-Based Independent Press Launches a National Community-Building Writers’ Movement.

In that article, this is said:

Forest Avenue [Press] will give away a thousand notebooks created in partnership with Portland’s Scout Books and featuring a pledge for writers to sign, an action-item list, and quotes about why such a movement is necessary in these times.”

As you might have noticed, the “notebooks” mentioned are Scout Books; and, Forest Avenue Press is backing the Main Street Writers Movement

Scout Books can be 3.5 X 5 inches (each starting at about $2 {more with fancier printing options}) or 5 X 7 inches (each starting at about $3 {more with fancier printing options}); and, of course, the cost is less in quantities greater than 250 books; plus, all of them have 32 pages.

You can take the Scout Books link and explore the full potential of these little books for various promotional efforts or you can dive right into the Shop and Blog pages for idea-prompts to get you thinking about how you might use these books, like:

“…a series of nine custom notebooks to use as backer rewards for their record-breaking Kickstarter campaign….”

“…Let’s Do This! goal notebooks, filled with prompts to help you capture and achieve your goals.”

“…charming series of custom notebooks as a giveaway for their members and team….”

“Custom Scout Books make a fantastic and unique holiday gift.”

“Scout Books teamed up with Jolby & Friends to create a limited edition notebook called DRAW MORE, PLANT MORE! Best of all, we’re planting a tree for each notebook made. …”

“We Choose Hope Notebook”

“Night Writer Gift Set”

“Big Ideas Start Here Notebook”

That Shop page up there might be for you if you only want to buy some already designed books

And, if you have any interest, at all, in these Little Promotional Books, do visit Scout Books’ page of their own favorite designs

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4 low-cost ways to get writing tuition if you can’t afford an editor

Very Important Bonus Re-blog…

If you’re not a writer, find one to share this with :-)

Nail Your Novel


I’ve just finished writing my first novel. I want to get published but I can’t pay for an editor. What can I do? Edith

Every week I get emails from writers who want help but can’t afford the cost of an editor. And I can see why. Good editors cost a big chunk of money and the job can’t be done cheaply. I don’t think seriously committed writers assume anything otherwise.

But sometimes, the writing world can seem like those schools where rich parents hothouse their kids by hiring personal tutors. If you don’t have the spare dollars, will you be left behind?

Not necessarily. Many of the writers I know never hired editors, yet we earned our spurs somehow. And you can still learn the way we did. It still works.

I probably sound like I’m doing myself out of a job here. Certainly a good editor will zoom…

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The Gift of Being a Writer Plus Shareworthy Reading and Writing Links

Ever wondered what writers do when they’re not purposefully writing?

This re-blog will give you a pretty good idea…

And, there are a slew of links, too :-)

Live to Write - Write to Live

Ascot CloudsAs a writer, it’s your job to observe the world; and that has to be one of the best jobs going. Though it might make non-writers a little crazy, I love the way my writer’s brain soaks in all kinds of minutia no matter where I am or what I am doing. I love the way it connects the dots to pull stories out of the ether. And I love the way that this constant hum of observation and internal storytelling helps me see and appreciate the world more deeply.

Earlier this week, I was sitting alongside the outdoor practice ring at the barn where my daughter and I take lessons. I was enjoying watching my daughter and her lesson pony, Chanel, run through their paces while carrying on a silent conversation spoken in a language of touch and movement. I have always been fascinated by the way horse and…

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#MainStreetWriters ~ Moving Forward

I started promoting Main Street Writers Movement on the 12th of February with a re-blog by Roz Morris, where she said the Movement is, “…a campaign that aims to represent the work of literary writers, small presses, independent bookshops and anyone who struggles to be heard or find their audiences.” Main Street Writers Movement

The next day, I did a full-on post about Main Street Writers Movement and I urge all the following folks to go to that last link and find out what’s going on:

“Writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, and anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”

Since then, there’s been a post on their site from author Kate Ristau about Building Writer Relationships, which I’ll do a bit of excerpting from:

“Writing is lonely. For many of us introverts, spending the day by ourselves, sitting at a computer, maybe not even taking a shower, is . . . awesome! Am I right?”

“But occasionally, even I want to get out of my shell – to peek my head out and see what’s on the other side of my computer. And sometimes, I need more support than my dog.”

“…how do you build your own writing community? How do you find other writers and hang out with them in a not-weird way?”

She then goes on to list four ways to engage in Community…

And, if you go to their Pledge page, you’ll find this line of reasoning for forming Community:

“These are scary and uncertain times, but we must continue to use our voices and to listen to our neighbors’ words….The Main Street Writers Movement urges experienced writers to strengthen the national literary ecosystem through passionate engagement at the local level. Let’s honor and amplify our communities’ underrepresented voices. Let’s buy from local bookstores and small presses. Let’s leave our houses and dance in the streets to the sound of each other’s words.”

Plus, a few days ago, I received the first Main Street Writers Movement Newsletter, which had valuable information from a literary agent, a sharing from Laura Stanfill (Founder of the Movement), and this rousing statement:

“If you’ve been waiting for years for someone to give you permission to join the parade instead of waving your flag from the sidewalk, here’s your letter of recommendation, your megaphone, or (if you’re a pessimist) your umbrella. It’s time to get off the sidewalk. Let’s go. Let’s do this together.”

If I’ve piqued your interest in the Main Street Writers Movement, do check out my full post with all the details

I should also link to the hashtag you can follow on Twitter — #mainstreetwriters  and, if you’re in the USA, check out this site for getting in touch with folks in your neighborhood — NextDoor

Though, I truly hope folks from places other than the USA will leave a few comments on engaging in Literary Community in their own countries…

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