Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

#Reading Is Powerful Medicine

To say reading is powerful medicine demands that I say a bit about the word “medicine”… Woman Reading

I’m not necessarily talking about pharmaceuticals—dangerous stuff

I suppose, if your dying and there are no natural alternatives, sure, take certain pharmaceuticals.

It’s just that doctors are often paid to dispense pharmaceuticals that people don’t need and that harm more than they help—I, in particular, was nearly crippled by misdiagnosed pharmaceuticals


My Oxford dictionary informs me that “medicine” has it roots in the concept “healing”.

So, am I saying reading can heal?

Yep, that’s what I’m saying.

And, that’s what a cool article over at Fast Company says.

The title is How Changing Your Reading Habits Can Transform Your Health and here are a few excerpts:

“…according to Dr Josie Billington, deputy director of the Centre for Research into Reading at the University of Liverpool….’Reading can offer richer, broader, and more complex models of experience, which enable people to view their own lives from a refreshed perspective and with renewed understanding’…”

Dr. Billington also said:

“People who read find it easier to make decisions, plan, and prioritize, and this may be because they are more able to recognize that difficulty and setback are unavoidable aspects of human life…”

So, those are good general (psychologically healthy) reasons to read more—here are some specific physical health-related reasons:

“Reading for pleasure in general can also help prevent conditions such as stress, depression, and dementia….Research has shown that people who read for pleasure regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers. Large scale studies in the U.S. show that being more engaged with reading, along with other hobbies, is associated with a lower subsequent risk of incidents of dementia.”

I’m sure you know that stress and depression can lead to many physical health problems

And, the article even covers more general Social benefits:

“Reading has huge power to make you see things from another person’s point of view…”

Research is cited:

“[showing] that reading reduces stress and creates neurological changes in the brain that makes it think you’re in another world—or another life. ‘Reading about people different to you, for example who come from another culture or background, can help you understand their perspective and readdress former prejudices.'”

But, you may say, I don’t have time to read more!

The article shares these recommendations:

1. Read what interests you not what you think you “should” read
2. Find just 30 minutes a week to read
3. Create a challenge for yourself
4. Don’t stick with a book if you’re not enjoying it

And, I suggest you go read the full article so you can benefit from what they say about each of those four recommendations :-)
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Putting a Writing Life on Display

Alexander M Zoltai:

For my readers in the USA—be THANKFUL you can write in private—today’s re-blog shows you why…

For all my other readers—Be Thankful—for Something—today’s re-blog shows you why… :-)

Originally posted on Longreads Blog:

It’s not uncommon for writers to document the writing process via an anxious dream journal, or on Twitter, or in emails to their friends. Artist and author Gabriela Denise Frank took this impulse one step further. Frank moved her living room furniture into Seattle’s Central Library. For 30 days, she brought her laptop and headphones and set up shop on her own couch, in the middle of the library. And her laptop? It was hooked up to a giant monitor, displaying her every typed word. Her roughest rough drafts were privy to observation and commentary by library patrons. Read about her “novel performance” at The Rumpus.

Around that time, I discovered a quote by John Green that cemented my resolve: “Writing is something you do alone. It is a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.” Why…

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Public Libraries in the U.S.A. Are Under Threat

I know I have an international audience for this blog; but, some stories that concern the U.S.A. seem like stories that could also happen in other countries… 

Did you know that public libraries are going private?

They’ll still admit the public to check out books but they’re owned by private corporations

BloombergBusiness has the article, As U.S. Libraries Are Outsourced, Readers See Public Trust Erode, and I’ll excerpt certain key parts of it:

“A Maryland company [LSSI] that runs public libraries has more than doubled in size in the past decade as governments seek savings. Bibliophile residents complain that an investment in knowledge and culture is being milked for profit.”

A quote from a library professional:

“‘This is meant to increase business profits and drive down quality’, said Esdras Quintana, a 14-year library information-technology employee and member of the Service Employees International Union. ‘We need to invest more in our libraries. Turning over our libraries to LSSI would not be an investment. It would be an abandonment of a precious public asset.’”

Quote from a private citizen:

“’If our libraries are privatized, the companies have a right to do whatever they want and they don’t have to listen to the community’, said Yesenia Contreras, 26, an Arvin resident and community organizer. ‘We live in a rural community. Our kids do not have access to books and computers.’”

Here’s a quote that makes one wonder what the word “government” actually means now:

“Governments have made safeguarding culture a priority since antiquity.”

And, in spite of one person’s positive statement ending the article, this appears very near the end:

“Of the 82 company-run libraries, 47 are in California. Riko Mendez, political director for the SEIU local representing workers from San Jose to Kern County, said LSSI’s model is to cut salaries and benefits, rely on volunteers, and make money by selling library-branded pens and other products.”

As always, I encourage anyone interested in what I’ve excerpted to go read the full article; however, let me end with a quote that absolutely chills me to the bone (please remember that LSSI runs private libraries and that public libraries are what “governments” protected when they were “safeguarding culture”…)

“Today, LSSI is the fourth-largest library operator in the U.S., after public systems in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles County.”

Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Raymond Chandler Didn’t Care About Plot

Alexander M Zoltai:

It’s been good to see more and more people admitting that many of the “Rules” of writing are Bunk…

Today’s re-blog shares some important Insights…

Originally posted on M.C. Tuggle, Writer:

Raymond Chandler

I’ve always found Raymond Chandler’s writing to be inspirational, sublime, and maddening. I have no idea how many times I’ve read Farewell, My Lovely, and there’s still a lot about it I just don’t get. The work is an adventure tale, a work of art, and a puzzle. Chandler broke a lot of rules. But I, and countless other fans, keep coming back.

This retrospective on Chandler’s unique approach in Literary Hub echoes my feelings toward this gifted and driven artist:

Looking at Chandler’s work in retrospect, it seems fair to say that he wasn’t really a “mystery writer”—or not first and foremost. Plots didn’t interest him much. They were just pegs on which to hang characters and language. His plots were not particularly original but that never bothered him. “Very likely Agatha Christie and Rex Stout write better mysteries. But their words don’t get up and walk. Mine…

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There Should Be Only One Way to Promote Your Writing ~ Your Way!

I’ve written a lot on this blog about book promotion, author platforms, and social media. Alliance of Independent Authors

And, you can scroll down in the left side-bar to find all of it (in the Top Tags area)

But there are two posts in particular I’ll point out:

Breaking The “Rules” of Book Promotion ~ 6 Different Views

Authentic Book Promotion ~ Does It Sell?

I mention those because I’m going to excerpt from an article at the ALLi Author Advice Centre —> Opinion: Promote Your Self-Published Books Your Way, by Debbie Young.

You’d think that any self-respecting writer would consider their own abilities and proclivities before they tried some promotion program from some “expert”, even if that “expert” has sold gazillions of books.

There’s nothing wrong with reading what the “experts’ say—we just must pay attention to our own unique needs and abilities

From the ALLi article:

“Just because we can tweet/Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram etc around the clock, it doesn’t mean we should.”

Followed by:

“Too many of us believe that if we don’t put in a significant amount of time, effort and budget into doing so, we’re failing.”

Thankfully, followed by:

“Drop that thought right now.”

I started promoting my novel nearly 5 years ago (before I published it) by beginning this blog.

I’ve tried the other popular social networks and found all of them wanting (though other folks do find them useful…)

Recently, I started using Wattpad and I’m still wondering what took me so long to find out it fits in with my abilities and needs

So, back to Debbie’s article, with some teasers that can be satisfied by reading the whole thing :-)

“So, if the idea of staging online conversations in fewer than 140 characters makes you cringe, avoid Twitter….

“If you’re going to be irked by people posting cat videos and games requests in front of you every day, forget Facebook….

“…I found that the pressure to add affiliate bookstore links every time I mentioned a title put me off posting at all. So I’ve ditched the links.”

And, with another strong encouragement for you to read Debbie’s full article, I share this last excerpt:

“…I will try not to feel the need to justify my actions every time I turn my back on a marketing trick. Instead, I’ll take inspiration from the eponymous character from Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener, who, as I remember from high school, quietly declines opportunities with the refrain:I would prefer not to”. My English teacher, Mr Campbell, (who I think quite often fancied using Bartleby’s line in staff meetings), would be proud of me. Even if, in the story, Bartleby does eventually die of starvation.”

And, after you read Debbie’s whole article, look around on that page, ’cause you’ll be in the How-to for Authors section of the Self Publishing Advice site of The Alliance of Independent Authors
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com


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