Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

A Sort of Readiness: Ursula K. Le Guin

Writers absolutely need to read today’s re-blog…

Readers could also profit from checking it out :-)

Longreads Blog

Admired for her quiet daring, her structures, and her inventions, most of all she is revered for her sentences.

SICHA: A few people may talk about the “craft of writing,” but they sound phony. The way you put it is very realistic: that this is an important thing to do if you care about writing.

LE GUIN: The word craft these days has this sort of funny, twee sound, like some little artisan putting the yeast in his handcrafted bread. Craft is how you do something well—anything. You can do anything with craft or with skill, or without it. Writing an English sentence takes a good deal of craft and skill. Writing a good English sentence takes a lot more of it.

At Interview, Choire Sicha talks with revered author Ursula K. Le Guin about balancing writing and parenthood, the relevance of “craft,” and having confidence in oneself as…

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Free Book!

Don’t know if you noticed—I have a free poetry book in the left side-bar…

Plus, today’s re-blog has one, too :-)

Kelsey J. Mills

I apologize for the brevity of this post. The week kind of ran away with me, and I’m struggling to catch up in all aspects of my life.

How about a gift?

Just a few days ago I self published a free book of poetry on Smashwords. It’s made up of the best poems of 2015 from my poetry website, Nothing Gold Poetry. My poetry comes from my heart and my soul, and this book is just a little piece of that. The poems in this book will make you feel.

Enough prattling. I should just get to the book.

You can download it here from Smashwords. I humbly ask that if you enjoyed the book, you leave a review.

That’s all for this week, folks. See you next week.

God Bless, and enjoy the book,

Kelsey J.

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Author Interview ~ Red Harvey

There are Lots of Author Interviews on this blog

Today’s is a bit different…

First, because the interview is with another Wattpad author (there are six more, just above her, in the list at that link up there…).

Second, this author is a bit feisty :-)


Red Harvey - Author O.K., Red, give us a few personal insights?

Well, I’m just a girl, standing in front of some readers, asking them to read her…no, okay, I flubbed that up.

Do over. I’m a Puerto Rican crazy person, and if I don’t rid myself of the crazy ideas (also known as stories), then I’d go into overload mode. That, and my two kids drive me nuts, in the most loving way possible.

What do you do all day?

I write, and I write, and I write. Mostly science-fiction, although I slipstream into other genres, like fantasy and horror. I’m also big into essay writing.

When I’m not writing or being a mom, I’m teaching college composition, editing for the academic journal Penumbra, or editing at my indie press Nuff Said.

What’s your favorite part about speculative fiction?

I love the oddity. Every genre has the potential for oddity, but speculative fiction feeds off it in order to transport the reader properly.

Why do your stories often strike a dark tone?

Could be because I’m (read above) a lover of odd, which then translates to dark. I also find life to be dark, and in my stories, I throw life on a screen.

Who inspires you?

Stephen King. Kidding. And not kidding. But no, really, my newest inspiration is a very distant cousin, Julia de Burgos. She was a poet, feminist, and nationalist, and though her life was a disjointed tragedy, I’m inspired by her drive to promote equality and kindness.

When did you first think about being a writer and/or when did you first do some writing?

Like the corny cliche goes, I’ve written from a young age. However, I never finished a full-length novel until I was 24 (I’m now 29, if that puts things into perspective). I got pregnant with my first son and realized I needed to finish something instead of starting a chapter, moving onto a different story, or jotting down a short story. My mind used to be all over the place about writing. Now, it’s only sort of all over the place.

Care to share a bit about what it’s like on Wattpad?

Being on Wattpad is inspiring, addictive, and rewarding as hell. Utilizing a simple interface, anyone can post a story, and receive feedback in minutes. Does it always work out that easily? No, but sometimes it does, and every writer needs and wants that golden ticket of feedback, so why not try Wattpad? I didn’t intend to turn this into a Wattpad infomercial, but there ya go.

Tell us a bit about your works on Wattpad (especially, Obsolution, my current read…).

I have a few works on Wattpad, such as a horror novella, The Dark, or a paranormal thriller, Cursed, but my labor of love is the sci-fi novel, Obsolution. Gender dynamics have always fascinated me, and sci-fi is my go-to genre of choice, and so I decided to push the two together. Obsolution is about an average retail manager living in a futuristic setting. He inadvertently gets his hands on revolutionary 3-D tech, and prints a female version of himself. Through the eyes of his clone, or Sam, he sees the world differently, all while contending with the growing mechanization of the workforce.

I worked in retail for a long time, and as I rung up people’s purchases, the thought that a machine (or a monkey) could do my job crossed my mind many a time. I worried I might lose my job constantly, but fate gave me a new one, so yay! I’m glad to be out of that world, but I’m also grateful for the real-world experience I gained.

What’s the big project at the moment?

Currently, I’m chugging along on a space opera about four explorers compelled to answer a mysterious alien invitation. As their journey progresses and the decades fly by, they find themselves changing, for better or worse.

Looking forward to reading that, Red…

And, thanks, so much, for taking time out of your busy day to share with my readers about your writing life…

See ya on Wattpad :-)



Red on Wattpad
Red’s Blog
Red on Twitter
Nuff Said Publishing
O.K., time to ask Red some questions in the comments :-)
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

‘The Loneliest Place for a Writer’: Gary Lutz on Writing (and Rewriting) Great Sentences

For readers—is today’s re-blog just a bunch of fancy talk?

For writers—is today’s re-blog only one particular view-point?

For anyone—is what follows interesting?

Longreads Blog

Early this summer I attended a disappointing writing workshop where a clearly unprepared instructor stressed the importance of creating air-tight sentences without bothering to suggest how. “Interrogate each one of your sentences,” she kept saying, then referring, over and over, to the first five lines of Lolita.

While the overall experience was unsatisfying, it reminded me that for a long time I have been wanting to go further with my development as a writer, at the sentence level. Since then, everywhere I’ve turned there have been signs pointing me in that direction.

Almost daily in the New York Times, ads for the Building Great Sentences audio and video offering from The Great Courses catch my eye. (Recently I ordered the corresponding book.)

More notably, not long ago, two different colleagues independently mentioned “The Sentence is a Lonely Place,” this instructive essay by Gary Lutz that appeared…

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Author Interview ~ Geetanjali Mukherjee

There are over 60 author interviews on this blog but today’s is only the second with a predominantly non-fiction writer.

And, I think the book she’ll be talking about could help many people

Geetanjali Mukherjee - Author Geetanjali Mukherjee is the author of six books. Her first book, Seamus Heaney: Select Poems, is in its 6th edition currently, published by Rama Bros. India. She’s written five other books, with the latest being about study skills.

She grew up in India, spending her early years in Kolkata, and then attending high school in New Delhi. She has a law degree from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, and a Masters’ in Public Administration with a concentration in human rights and social justice from Cornell University. She currently lives in Singapore.

Let’s get underway


So, how long have you been writing and what kinds of writing have you done?

Firstly, thanks for having me on your blog.

I have been writing since I learnt how to put words on the page. My earliest writing-related memory is sitting on the balcony of my aunt’s house, with a pad of paper, writing poems. I loved to write as a child, but at some point, through the combination of some overly critical English teachers and family problems, I stopped writing, and viewed writing as something difficult. My writing remained restricted to school assignments. I never gave up on my dream of being a published writer, reading every writing advice book I could find. I also wrote poems and the beginnings of stories, but since I didn’t really believe in myself and my writing, I couldn’t really take it far. Even after a publisher in India commissioned me to write a literature study guide for the poems of Seamus Heaney, while I was still in college, I didn’t really think of myself as a writer. It was only in the last few years, with the support of my family, that I decided to take the plunge and “really” write.

Five of my published books are non-fiction; some are study guides for students, and others are on topics that I was particularly interested in. One of my books is a compilation of poems that I wrote while in college. I have recently started writing fiction, I successfully completed Nanowrimo last year, and have plans for a few other stories.

Where did your love of books, reading, and writing come from?

My parents and my family.  I like to joke that I was destined to be a writer, because of my name. I was named after a book that won the Nobel Prize for Literature, by Rabindranath Tagore. Growing up, books were everywhere, in my home and the homes of friends and family we visited. My mum read stories to me, and once I learnt to read, I couldn’t get enough. I borrowed a book every time I visited the homes of family friends with extensive libraries, and even walked on the streets of Calcutta with my nose in a book (not something I would necessarily recommend!) Both my parents love to read, and ever since I can remember, I have always felt bookstores and libraries are like coming home. One of the first things I do in a new city is get a membership to the local library.

How did you become involved with the subject of your most recent book, Anyone Can Get An A+Anyone Can Get an A+

I have been interested in books on better study strategies since I was in high school. I was struggling in the first year of high school, and then I aced my 10th grade board exams, in the process learning a lot of study skills and techniques. I had the idea to write a book sharing these techniques, but it remained just an idea for the longest time. More recently, I started to read up on the subject again, and decided to put down all the things I learnt during my own university years, weaving in the scientific knowledge I had read about. Although there are many books out there on this topic, I think mine is pretty unique because it addresses common student problems such as procrastination, stress, and poor time-management, as well as giving advice on optimum nutrition and the right mental attitude.

What were your specific goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

I wanted to share all the surprising things I learnt in the course of my extensive reading on this topic, and link the science to my own experiences. I had inadvertently stumbled upon a lot of useful techniques that I wanted to share with students, but in a simple and easy-to-apply manner. I also wanted to address some of the common misconceptions and myths that hold many students back from not even attempting to be successful at mastering certain subject areas and getting good grades at school. I really want to reach out to every student who lacks confidence in their own abilities, or who have been derided by peers or authority figures as not being smart – I want to assure every student that given the right study skills and approach, they can handle any subject or course.

I believe that I have been able to successfully convey what I most wanted to, and feel gratified by all the 5-star reviews I received. I can tell the book is resonating with readers. However, I won’t feel satisfied till I can reach out to many more students, and give them the benefit of the advice in the book.

What’s the most important thing people don’t know about your subject that they need to know?

Most students who are struggling at school (or adults contemplating going back to school), think that maybe they simply lack the aptitude for a certain subject, or that maybe in order to do well, they would have to become a grind and study every single minute. Neither of these things are true, and I found from my research and my personal experience, that good study habits can actually help you to study a reasonable number of hours and still do well. Additionally, if you’re not doing well in a particular subject area, it just means that your brain hasn’t had the chance to develop a solid foundation in that subject, which you can rectify by going back to the basics, simplifying the topic as much as possible, and mastering each aspect of the subject separately. When you put it all together, you will realize that suddenly you know a lot more than you did before, and more than you thought you could know.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I loved doing the research for this book, because the subject is genuinely interesting to me. I also enjoyed adding in anecdotes and personal experiences to illustrate the principles I was writing about.

O.K., what was the hardest part of writing this book?

The hardest part was surprisingly the editing stage. Usually, I find writing the first draft of a book quite difficult, but for this book, the initial draft just poured out of me, and I completed it in less than 3 weeks. The editing process however, took much longer than anticipated, mostly because I was having some difficulty explaining the research underpinning the advice in the book, while still maintaining its readability. However, the hard work was justified, because I have been told several times that the book is very conversational and easy to read, which is a relief, because I am mostly used to writing for an academic audience.

Not sure if this is a fair question but where would you recommend folks go to read more about this subject?

I have a pretty comprehensive reading list at the end of my book that references many useful and readable sources on the subject.

So, what inspires you?

I feel inspired by beauty, art, excellence and goodness. I know that seems like a disparate list, but it’s more like a feeling really, the kind of feeling you get when you watch an incredibly beautiful movie, or read an inspiring book, or watch an athlete break a record. Inspiration is all around us, and if I am paying attention, I can capture it and use it. Just going for a walk in nature can inspire so many new ideas. I am incredibly lucky to live a few minutes away from the beach, and I go there often to be inspired. I look out at the sea and the natural beauty around me, and I am reminded how wonderful the world can be if we only open ourselves up to it.

What did you find most useful when you were learning to write and what was least useful or most destructive?

I have been reading writing advice books since I was in high school, and in some ways they were both encouraging and demotivating. They were useful because they stoked in me the desire to be a writer; I dreamed of it every time I walked into a bookstore, or read about a successful author. However, the avalanche of advice I read also made me think that it was incredibly hard to become a writer, and stopped me from even trying to write for several years. I had so many ideas, and I would pursue them for a few pages, and then give up, thinking it was too hard, and I just wasn’t good enough.

Then I read the books of prolific author Julia Cameron, whose books demystified the process, and encouraged me to start writing, even if, initially, just for myself. I highly recommend her work, and also that of Anne Lamott, Brenda Ueland, and Hilary Rettig, to a beginning writer just starting out. It is important to improve at one’s craft and put in the work, but you can only improve after you have given yourself permission to start where you are, write badly if you need to, and put your real self on the page.

This might be too wide a question but what do you think is the future of reading and writing?

I think that despite the articles that decry how people are no longer reading, there will always be people who love to read. There may be differences in what people read and through what medium, but I don’t think the written word is completely in danger of becoming obsolete. However, there is more competition for the attention of readers, and no one can be guaranteed an audience. In such an environment, I believe it is even more important to be true to yourself, write what you truly care about, and try to write something that makes a difference, that reaches out and touches the reader in some way. I believe that as long as a writer inspires, engages and connects through their work, they will find readers.

How do you find or make time to write?

This is the biggest hurdle as a writer, not having enough time. One thing you learn pretty quickly is that no one finds time, you simply have to claim the time you need, and work other things around it, or give some stuff up. Some things are easy to give up, others not so much. Sometimes (or most of the time) I am not able to devote as much time to writing as I would like. However, I have also recently noticed many ways to reclaim time from less important pursuits, or find ways to do things faster, and use the extra time to write more, or do writing related things like this interview. I am a big believer in scheduling time to write, although invariably I don’t stick to my own schedules. I also think it is important to lower one’s expectations of any one writing session – don’t expect to write a masterpiece, just expect to write a pretty average first (or second or whatever) draft. When I lower my expectations, I find time to write “magically” appears – just a few minutes in between housework and family responsibilities, or minutes that would otherwise just sink into catching up on social media.

What do you like to read in your free time?

Everything. Mostly I love reading non-fiction – business and personal development books, biographies and history, writing and creativity books. I also love fiction, but don’t read as much of it as I would like (except when I binge read through a series). I also read a lot of articles from my favorite blogs and online magazines. I read over 95 books last year, and my goal this year is to be able to hit 100, and also read a lot more fiction.

That is a lot of reading :-) So, what projects are you working on at the moment and what do your plans for future projects include?

I am working on a book of essays at the moment, and hoping to edit and publish the novel I wrote during Nanowrimo. I also have plans for a number of other books, probably in very different genres than the ones I have written in so far. You can come check out my blog or Twitter or Facebook page, to be the first to know when my next project comes out, hopefully soon!

Many thanks for taking the time to let us know about your writing life and your latest book; and, may you have much success! :-)


Anyone Can Get An A+
Amazon Author Page


Now’s the time to ask our author questions in the comments :-)
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


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