Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Friday Story Bazaar ~ Tale Ninety-Two

False Friends

Alexander M Zoltai



~~~ at the cafe:

Bill gave a deep sigh and said: “Life’s too hard…”

Jim patiently replied: “You’re sounding positively pessimistic…”

“I’m not only that, I’m also quite fatalistic…”

“What’s got ya down?”

“The usual—the world!”


“Can’t talk about it right now…”


~~~ at Jim’s apartment:

Jim gave his friend a tired look and said: “Bill, I’m worried about ya…”

“So am I… I don’t know what I can do—it’s all too much…”

“Well, we know I’m not as smart as you; but, I wanna try to help—what’s a huge specific thing that’s got ya down?”

“The Emperors haven’t, at all, disappeared; and, the Courtiers have multiplied—sure, their names have changed—lords are legislators and ladies are legislatorettes; but, they’re all unsexed automatons—can’t even stop their prancing around their Emperor long enough to make some laws that will start protecting kids at school!”

“Ah… That was a tragedy…”

“No! It’s all an apocalyptic catastrophe… It’s a fact that there are twice as many dead school kids this year, so far, than all the dead military in combat zones…”

“No shit?”

“It’s the numbers, man, tally ‘em up—sick, sick, sick…”

~~~ at the cafe ~ Ann joins Jim and Bill:

“Well boys, what’s kickin’?”

“Bill’s got me convinced the world’s nearly reached hell in its handbag…”

“Now how could I have missed that, Bill?”

“Because, sweet Ann, language has been subverted—meaning has been raped…”

“Uhh… My dear smart ass, Bill—do you deem me worthy of an explanation?”

“For your adoring consideration, Ann, the Rulers of our lives call massacres ‘tragedies’; and, when they need to act like they’re doing more than finding ways to get more gold from the one percent, they talk about ‘Important Considerations’ that are ‘Compelling’ them to ‘Discuss Possible Decisions’ that ‘Might Lead’ to ‘Important Actions’ to ‘Remedy’ the ‘Situation’…”

“What the hell…?”

“Kids are needlessly dying Ann—gunned down by the dozens; and, the ‘Elected Officials’ are dancing with each other in the halls of their brothel which they call ‘Government’…”

“Oh… That…”

“Jim, would you like to give Ann a clue?”

“Uhh… Bill… I think you just did…”

“Really? Then why is she just sitting there staring at you like she wants to take you to her brothel?”

“Bill, I think you’re losing your mind—there’s nothing to do except get along and try to have some fun. What the hell can we do about anything?”

Bill got up, bowed to them both, exited the cafe; and, they never saw him again…


Read More Story Bazaar Tales

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Omit Needless Words: How I Learned to Write with Brevity

Here’s the stunning conclusion of today’s re-blog:

“When you omit the needless, you choose the necessary—and sometimes, that is one perfect ray of sun falling on the back of your hand.”

Read on to find out how the author got there :-)

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

By Ryder S. Ziebarth

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr., edited by E. B. White.

In 1974, my Journalism 101 professor gave only two pieces of required reading: the local city newspaper, and The Elements of Style.

One book. One daily.

What could be easier?

Turned out, a lot of things. Concise writing takes diligence, skill, and patience. Three things I lacked as a college sophomore. But I pecked away on my typewriter, practicing every day, until I finally scored a coveted reporter’s job…

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A Blog Conversation about Book Promotion . . .

Book Promotion Our last conversation here—about Genre—ended for lack of reader comments; but, it had a decent run, on May, 14th, May 16th, and May 21st

I’ll get our next conversation going with this quote:

“As writers and artists, we feel the drive to do meaningful work, but we get overwhelmed by the process of connecting with an audience. We follow best practices in marketing that never seem to pan out, don’t produce results, and make us feel lost and frustrated. But creating doesn’t have to feel this way.”

That’s from the book Be the Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and Engaging an Audience, by Dan Blank.

Dan’s blog has this to say:

“Too often, writers and artists rush into marketing without first finding clarity on what they want to create and who they hope to reach. The result? They flounder, jumping from one marketing trend to the next, each one with results that leave them feeling disappointed.”

In my forays into book promotion, I’ve met many folks who had plenty of decent tips and tricks to snag a few folks’ attention; but, until I read Dan’s book, I hadn’t come across someone with a complete philosophy of how to engage others…

Over the seven years since I published my novel, from a sentence there and a treasured paragraph over there, I pieced together the plan I now pursue to promote my writing…

When I read Dan’s book, I met a kindred soul, since he was laying out everything I’d labored to learn over all those years…

Things like:

  • Never stop looking for the kind of people who’re able to like what you create

  • Find out how folks want you to talk to them

  • Make your reaching out a display of how your work can help others

It is completely true that each person and each person’s creative work demands a unique method and practice of promotion; yet, the most effective basic principles that lead to all those tailor-made plans are actually few—they revolve around concepts of human communication and, there are other people who know and have written about them, besides Mr. Blank—he only seems to me to paint the most detailed picture…

So, to provide an aid to exploring the sources of creative promotion, I’ll share the word history of “Communication”:

early 15c., “act of communicating, act of imparting, discussing, debating, conferring,” from Old French comunicacion (14c., Modern French communication) and directly from Latin communicationem (nominative communicatio), noun of action from past participle stem of communicare “to share, divide out; communicate, impart, inform; join, unite, participate in,” literally “to make common,” related to communis “common, public, general” (see common (adj.)). Meaning “that which is communicated” is from late 15c.; meaning “means of communication” is from 1715.

I feel it’s somewhat obvious that a good method of book promotion would be capable of being adapted to the promotion of any work of art; but, I bet there are some folks who would disagree…

Anything in this post you agree with?

Anything you disagree with?

Something about promotion that’s important that I haven’t mentioned?

Care to share a comment?
If you don’t see a way to comment, try at the upper right of this post :-)

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Mining Emotion to Bring History to Life by Andrea J. Loney

Read today’s instructive and fascinating re-blog and find out why the author says this:

“Once we take history into our own hearts and minds, it can become a part of us and a part of our own stories.”

Nerdy Book Club

For the past few years, I’ve spent one Saturday each month reading to second graders. We sit in a circle on the colorful classroom rug, share stories about our lives, read a picture book chosen by their teachers, share how the book relates to our own lives, and then we make crafts to turn the storytelling into a hands-on experience.

My volunteer gig takes place at Leo Politi Elementary school, which is named after the famous children’s book author. The students are primarily Hispanic and Latino. Most of the books we read are about people who don’t look like us. But every month, we connect with fantastic stories and lose ourselves in fiction and nonfiction.

My favorite tales to share with the kids are the biographies. It amazes me how, time after time, we can read a book about a person born centuries ago and a half a world away…

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Yet More Conversation about Genre . . .

The previous posts in this conversation are Here and Here… Genre Conversation

Those posts had comments that reflected various shades of discomfort with putting books in genre-boxes…

One of the comments, though, stood out by saying:

“A work’s genre is nothing more than a convenient handle to help the reader find his next read. I think of the genre as something useful, not confining at all.”

And, while I respect that viewpoint ( like I must, as a seasoned writer, respect readers’ oh, so various perspectives on books... ), for the sake of this discussion, I’ll share a few excerpts from a post at Literary Hub:

“The entire publishing ecosystem, from authors to publishers to bookstores to readers, frequently have blind spots that separate stories out in ways that exclude readers.”

“For readers who want their personal library to show a healthy variety, finding books outside of your preferred genre is how you can broaden your tastes and discover terrific new talent.”

“By staying in the box an industry creates, a reader will see similar approaches and similar tropes, explore similar experiences and similar results. The hope and aim of reading, drilled into us as students, is that it broadens horizons, but that aspiration then gets undercut as soon as we start reading for fun. Our literary diets narrow, then ossify. By tuning out books from other genres, we cut ourselves off from important parts of the literary conversation.”

“Really, anything that feels a few towns over from where your reading life lives will gift you a new perspective. Because so much of the process before a book reaches your hands is designed to build that box, by simply venturing to another section of the bookstore, you’ll get to experience worlds you otherwise would never have known existed.”

So, we’ve come from comments that blast genre as a ploy of the traditional publishing houses to sell more books, to the idea that “…genre [is] something useful, not confining at all.”, to a caution about the genre mode of classification that encourages swimming in multiple genre-pools…

But, now, I’ll introduce a Marvelous comment on genre, from one of those previous posts, that shatters the mold of the standard idea of a blog comment, while it swims in a meta-pool of meanings…

The Rainbow

Always impressive, the rainbow’s view
Its shades spread across the spectrum
Colors blending from one to the other
Each band’s width wider to some

But no one can say where one band begins
And the next color has altered its hue
For changes in the view of a spectrum
Is altered how it’s perceived by you

~~~ Barbara Blackcinder

All it takes to continue this conversation about genre is a comment from you :-)

If you don’t see a way to comment, try at the upper right of this post :-)

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OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message