Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Monthly Archives: January 2016

Author Interview ~ Ana Simons

Regular readers know I have many author interviews on this blog.

And, those readers know about my relatively recent immersion into the Wattpad community.

Those readers have experienced interviews with the following Wattpad Authors: Holly GonzalezJ. A. PartridgeRaphyel M Jordan, and Jennifer Morrey.

Today, we have another Wattpad author; but, this one’s quite different

So different I’m publishing this interview on a day I normally re-blog someone else’s post and I’m leaving it as top post on through tomorrow

I suppose my main reason for this is because Ana Simons has shown me a rare type of authorial courage—a courage that needs to be granted attention

I read the book she’ll talk about in this post—gave it a private “r” rating (small “r” because the steamy scenes were well done)—and, I was a surprise to Ana when she saw me commenting on her story (a man reading “ChicLit”…).

So, let’s get to know a bit about this woman.


Who is Ana Simons?

Ana Simons - Author I’m a mother, wife, teacher, social scientist and, apparently now, an occasional writer.

How did you come up with the idea for your first book, Ana?

From the “iceberg theory” itself, which I actually lecture about. It has been used in different fields, namely in psychology by Freud, anthropology and culture studies by Edward T. Hall, even in literature by Hemingway. It reinforces the idea that our perceptions rarely correspond to the whole truth, because we all hide much more than we allow the others to see. The iceberg analogy, the fact that there’s much more underneath the surface than we actually observe floating on the ocean, underlies the relationship of the main characters in my first book. It can even be applied to the story itself, because readers are not reading what they think they’re reading; the true meaning of it all is hidden in the last chapters of the book…

So, it’s really your first story, Ana?

Yes, The Iceberg Theory is my first The Iceberg Theorystory, I had never written before ‒ I mean, I had never written fiction before. I teach at the University, which means that I also have to do research and write and publish the results in academic journals. So I do write a lot, but in a quite different register.

O.K., Ana, seems like it’s time to reveal why you started to follow the path of fiction writing…

Firstly, you should know that most of my academic research centres on the analysis of wartime literary representations. Last year around this time, I was chatting away with my husband about how difficult and draining it was to read; and, in a way, sort of dissecting autobiographical accounts that always describe quite painful events, terrible situations that shattered people’s lives and, in some cases, even their children’s lives, as well, because trauma can quite forcefully be a trans-generational phenomenon.

So, I had been doing that for 14 or 15 years already.

Then, completely out of nowhere, he came up with the idea that maybe I should take a break from it and give fiction writing a go. I laughed at the idea, because, sure, I could write, but I was not that kind of writer. Sure I had read a lot, I hold a BA in English and German Studies and therefore studied all the classics. I post-graduated in Culture Studies—had to read the work of the greatest authors of our time—but studying literature is one thing, being able to weave and tell people a story is another. So I rejected the idea. But then a couple of weeks later I did find myself outlining a plot, thinking about the characters, about the places where I could make it happen…

What made you use Wattpad to tell your first story?

A year ago I wasn’t even aware that there were such platforms. A friend of mine told me about it, I looked for it, registered just to see what it was and a month later or so I started to post to assess how it really worked.

Do, please, tell us a bit more about your experience of publishing a “serial story” on Wattpad…

I had just begun to post The Iceberg Theory when after a couple of weeks I decided to quit, you know? I even got to the point of deleting the half dozen chapters I already had up. It felt that Wattpad was a place populated only by teenagers and young adults and that there was no place for me or my story, so I decided to leave and even forget about the whole idea of writing.

But then, that same day, I came across the LOL+35 thread and everything changed. LOL stands for Ladies on Life and there I found a group of talented and generous women, who help and support each other in their writing endeavours. Every time I posted a new chapter they were usually my first readers and thanks to them and their words of support and encouragement I found a reason to finish writing that story. All in all, it was an amazing and quite rewarding experience.

Change-up—what’s your favorite book and why?

There are many. In terms of autobiographical writing I’d like to name Ruth Klüger’s Still Alive, which I only read in the German version. Unlike what we usually see in other Holocaust memoirs, we have here an author/victim that assumes a quite provocative attitude as she renders her childhood memories; in fact, she approaches quite sensitive matters such as disrupted parental relationships during the war, the complex relationship between Jews and Germans and even some Jewish patriarchal conventions which, according to her view, deny women their right to hold traumatic memories. Paul Schatz im Uhrenkasten, written by the German author Jan Koneffke, is also one of my all-time favourites. Also based on real life events, it’s a moving, at times, disheartening account of how a Jewish little boy managed to survive the Nazi persecution. Part of it is narrated from the child’s perspective and it’s amazing how the writer, who is nephew to the real ‘Paul’, managed to capture a child’s imagination and his innocent interpretation of all those shattering events.

Ana, how old is your new web site? And, please tell us about your traveling and interviewing other authors.

My website is not even one month old! It’s my first 2016 project! The authors I’m interviewing are all members of the group I told you about in Wattpad. They’re the women who most inspire me and that were there when I embarked on my writing journey. These interviews are sort of a tribute, a way of saying “thank you” to them.

And, what are your plans for the future?

Well, I will continue to write, because, in the meantime, it has become a hobby that I really enjoy ‒ certainly Wattpad readers, who are all immensely kind, and the supportive community of writers I found there have contributed to this positive feeling.

If I’ll take it to the next level and try publishing that’s still under consideration. For starters, I’m not a native speaker, so I’m perfectly aware that my work needs a lot of editing. I’m getting some help on that already, but I’d still need to get back to it and revise it thoroughly. Not quite certain if the effort pays off though. My perception is that it’s incredibly difficult to succeed out there and I still don’t know if I want to go through all the frustration when I’m having so much fun right now

Well, Ana, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your new-found writing life with my readers! I’m looking forward to more books :-)


Ana’s working on her second book right now (check out the links below…).

Ana’s Links:
Web Site
Wattpad Page
First Book
Second Book

O.K., folks, now’s a great time to ask Ana questions in the Comments—especially if you’re sitting there wondering if you can actually write a novel :-)
If you don’t see a way to comment after this post, try up at the top right :-)
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com


Publishing 101 with BJ Muntain, part two: Querying

Back on January 23rd I re-blogged Part One of this 101 of Traditional Publishing :-)

Kelsey J. Mills

So what is querying?

Querying is trying to sell an agent (or publisher) on your book. You do this by sending a query letter. Some agents only want the query letter, some want a synopsis, some want to see the first 5, 10, 50 pages. Send them what their guidelines say they want to see.

A query letter is a creative business letter. It’s a business letter because you want to do business with the agent. It’s creative because you are selling your creativity, and effective selling takes creativity. You want your query letter to entice the agent to read your novel.

When querying, DO:

  • Read and follow the guidelines.
  • Address the query letter to the agent’s name. Agents cringe at “Dear Agent”. You don’t want the agent’s first impression of you to be cringe-worthy.
  • Make a good impression.
  • Keep the query letter to one page, double-spaced. That’s about 250…

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#WORDS ~ 42 of Our Weird Little Friends :-)

My Best Friend, Jane Watson, shared two very interesting lists with me that I’ll share with you.

I was happy she shared them because, as you can see from the image, this blog has had visitors from many countries… 

Visitors to this Blog

Dots are Visitors Since November, 2012 ~ Total Visits on Map = 55,310 — Total visits to this blog since January, 2011 = 94,158

You’ll have to go to the links I give you to read about all the words but I think it will be worth your time, for entertaining and educational reasons :-)

First is 23 Awesome Foreign Words We Need to Start Using in English.

Here they are (read about them at the link…):

1. Kummerspeck — German
2. Luftmensch — Yiddish
3. Tsundoku — Japanese
4. Chi Ku (吃苦) — Chinese
5. Toska — Russian
6. Kreng-jai — Thai
7. Pochemuchka — Russian
8. Goya — Urdu
9. Esculhambação — Brazilian Portuguese
10. Koi no yokan — (the site listed no language for this word…)
11. Backpfeifengesicht — German
12. Hanyauku — RuKwangali
13. Verschlimmbesserung — German
14. Pålegg — Norwegian
15. Cwtch — Welsh
16. Sisu — Finnish
17. Inat — Serbian
18. Mokita — Kivila
19. Won — Korean
20. Yakamoz — Turkish
21. Waldeinsamkeit — German
22. Lítost — Czech
23. Culaccino — Italian

Second is 20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words from Around the World.

Here they are (read about them at the link…):

1. Toska — Russian
2. Mamihlapinatapei — Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego)
3. Jayus — Indonesian
4. Iktsuarpok — Inuit
5. Litost — Czech
6. Kyoikumama — Japanese
7. Tartle — Scottish
8. Ilunga — Tshiluba (Southwest Congo)
9. Prozvonit — Czech
10. Cafuné — Brazilian Portuguese
11. Torschlusspanik — German
12. Wabi-Sabi — Japanese
13. Dépaysement — French
14. Schadenfreude — German
15. Tingo — Pascuense (Easter Island)
16. Hyggelig — Danish
17. L’appel du vide — French
18. Ya’aburnee — Arabic
19. Duende — Spanish
20. Saudade — Portuguese

Were there any words in those lists from Your country’s language??
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Top Ten Ways to Match Books to Readers by Dana Johansen and Maureen Mooney Corbo

Today’s re-blog might seem like it’s for teachers only…

Nope — most of the ten tips will work just as well for your friend or neighbor :-)

Nerdy Book Club

A child comes up to you, hope in her eyes. She asks the one single question that has the power to strike simultaneous excitement and fear in a teacher, parent, or librarian- “Can you recommend a good book for me?”

We know our students, children, and the books we have on the bookshelves. So what are we worried about? We worry that we will get it wrong. We worry that we will let down a reader. We want to make that divine match, the one that will create a lifelong, passionate reader, so badly that we put a ton of pressure on ourselves.

But never fear! Over the years, we’ve generated a list of strategies that help us match books to readers. When one strategy doesn’t work, we try a different one.

  1. “The Investigation” – Get ready to do some detective work! Ask, “What’s the last book that you enjoyed?”…

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Amazon Seems to Be Playing Fair, after All . . .

Five days ago, I published the post, Do We Have to Worry about Amazon Being Heavy-Handed Again? Amazon Label Warning

I reported on a story about Amazon putting warning labels on e-books that have typos and other errors; but, I expressed my wariness about what was being said in the quoted article from goodEreader

I also asked for a heads-up if anyone saw more about this issue

I saw more

First, was an attempt at damage control by the author of the article I’d blogged about—What authors need to know about the new Kindle warning system.

The information in that last linked-to article should have been in the first article

Then, I saw that author John Doppler, in his post, Snark: Amazon’s New Warning Labels, has a wonderful graphic about the warning issue (which you’ll have to take the link to see)—it could be worth a visit, you may have a couple chuckles :-)

In the text of that article, John links to his other article, No, Amazon Will Not Penalize Your Book for a Typo.

Let me first point out that John (in the caption for an image of the author of the first two articles I linked-to) wrote this:

Good E-Reader’s founder, Michael Kozlowski, has a history of posting inflammatory clickbait.

So, my suspicions about Mr. Kozlowski’s first article seem correct (though, I’m a bit embarrassed that I took up a whole blog post about it…) and my judgement about his second article feels justified.

Mr. Doppler sums it up nicely:

“If Amazon’s screeners confirm that a book has issues, there are two possible actions.

“For errors prominent or numerous enough to detract from the reader’s enjoyment, Amazon will place a warning banner on the product’s page alerting customers that the item is under review. Authors and publishers will then have an opportunity to correct the issue and promptly remove the warning banner. (Amazon has already been doing this for years; they’re just expanding the conditions that can trigger an alert.)

“Errors that render the book unusable or incomplete or books that violate Amazon’s Terms of Service will be removed from sale.

“That’s it, friends. Nothing malign, nothing alarming. Just an improvement to quality control that won’t affect any professionally edited and formatted book.”

Thank you, John :-)


I recommend that writers check out John’s site
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com