Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Ali Noel Vyain

Helping Youth Write Stories Through A Game :-)

“OH, My! Storytelling is much too serious to be taught through games!” Storium

That last sentence is from a character I created, in a story I might write, who has overblown ideas about the “sanctity” of stories…

Certainly, storytelling is Important; but, if a game can help youth learn the subtleties of telling a story, Bring On The Game!

I’ve written before about Storium—“It turns creative writing into a multiplayer game and lets you tell any story that you can imagine.”

If you want to try playing Storium <— take that link :-)

I’ve been playing a game in Storium—writing a story in Storium—with two friendswriter and publisher, Ali Noel Vyain, and author Jane Watson.

Storium is still in Beta and very soon to be in Gamma—fully-developed—with hundreds of pre-sturctured story-games to play-tell; and, fully customizable to play-tell whatever you and your friends can imagine…

And, most-excitedly, they are in beta-testing with a version for youth—Storium for Schools.

From a recent email update from the Storium Team:

“ENnie and Origin Award-winning game designer Leonard Balsera has joined our team as project manager for Storium for Schools. As one of the designers of Evil Hat Productions’ popular and respected Fate roleplaying system, Lenny has seen first-hand the power of games to inspire players of all ages, including those in the classroom. He’s passionate about Storium’s educational potential. In fact, it was Lenny who convinced us to “go for it” and make education one of our areas of focus.”

“Under Lenny’s guidance, we’ve just completed our first official trial of Storium in the classroom! Nearly 100 students at Manor New Technology High School (located just outside Austin, Texas) recently played Storium as a part of their sophomore World Civilizations class. Through gameplay and storytelling they internalized and demonstrated what they had learned about ancient river valley cultures.”

Check out what the youth who played-wrote have to say :-)

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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Author Interview ~ Ali Noel Vyain – Part Two

Image courtesy of Ali Noel Vyain

This is my 1,000th post and I’m glad we can celebrate the accomplishment of writing over 350,000 words with a second  interview with an author and publisher friend—someone I was always glad to have at events on Book Island in Second Life and have recently been hanging out with at the Cafe on Writers’ Island.

I interviewed her two years ago and I’m glad she’s agreed to another interview.


So good to have you back, Ali! Let’s start with what your current plans are for the publishing house known as The Moon Publishing?

I’m fazing out the publishing house—no more publishing other people’s books and focus more on my books and the monthly magazine. I no longer do book printing because too many people complained and I couldn’t fix every little thing they didn’t like. Basically, I’ve had readers try to tell me how to run my publishing house and tell me I should run it like the traditional publishers do. I will not do that. Printing is expensive and a waste of time anymore. We have digital and I do realize that many people aren’t making the switch for various reasons. However, I don’t think many people will continue to buy the printed books. It will mainly be the people who like vinyl records. Plus any printed books I sell do cost much more than their digital counterparts. I know many readers do not know that fact.

What are your plans for the monthly magazine known as The Moon?

I’ve found a money-free way to distribute it as an ebook. I no longer offer any subscriptions and there is a free issue anyone can download. I’m trying to keep the little cultural icon alive and see what new interest will be generated. So far, there still isn’t much, but that may change in a year or so.

Where are your books and magazines available?

I upload everything to Smashwords first, then once the books are approved for the premium catalogue, Smashwords distributes to everyone else, except for Amazon. Last I heard, Smashwords doesn’t distribute to Amazon right away because there is not bulk upload. I know that can change soon and that’s fine as long as I don’t have to deal directly with Amazon. The magazine doesn’t go to all the stores because I don’t assign ISBNs to it. It has an ISSN and it seems silly to me to add a book number to it. That means Apple and Kobo won’t get the magazine.

Why don’t you upload the books directly to Amazon?

It’s too much work and I have to babysit the sales on Amazon. Oftentimes, books don’t sell on Amazon as well as I need them to. My books don’t tend to sell on Amazon at all. I do get sales from Apple, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and various other stores. I don’t want to give up sales from other stores. Amazon also wants to sell both the ebook and printed books together. That’s unrealistic when many people just prefer one book format over another. Besides, then they won’t allow me to sell the ebooks at a rate which will allow me to pay royalties to the writers or even allow me to earn any money. Amazon has really made it hard to sell books and earn even a small pittance. My other complaint is that Amazon will not allow me to give anything away for free. I still think one free promo book and one free magazine are the best way to generate interest and more sales down the road.

What do you think of publishing now, Ali?

I think publishing has become a war zone. I don’t feel like taking sides or joining in with the fighting at all. I’d rather back off and be self published. I don’t think many of the readers know and understand what is happening. I doubt they can see the whole picture as the publishers tend to be invisible to them. Readers usually only see the writers. I know writers who don’t even know what’s going on either. It’s sad, but I think we all need to keep up with what is currently happening as it can affect us all in different ways. I am also tired that readers and writers think they can tell me how to run my own my publishing house. If they feel that way, then I think they should run their own publishing houses and leave me alone.

Since you and I, along with the Owner of Writers’ Island, have been writing together at Storium, would you share your experience with it?

Storium has been fun. I haven’t played any role playing games before, so it’s a whole new experience for me. I find it interesting that we’ve lost three players and those of us who are left are still at it and we also all met in Second Life. It is fun to be creative with other people and see how we can mesh our characters and their backgrounds together. Sometimes I can’t wait to see what you and Jane will post next.

What are you currently working on, Ali?

I’m in the middle of trying to write and release at least a hundred books into the world. I have three which need to be edited. One has been giving me problems, but I think with the next pass, it should be much better. The next book released will probably be The Colonies of Earth (Venus): In Men’s Shadows, followed by The Guardian Series: The Formation of the Guardians, and The Violet Series: The Water Nymph.

What kinds of promotional work do you do for your writing?

I have a new website,, which is devoted to my writing and a little about me. I don’t use much in the way of social media and certainly not everyday. I have been creating character pinups using The Sims as starters. Then I have to finish them in Gimp. I upload the graphics to the Character Pinups page on my site and also to Pinterest. When I release new books, I will add the covers and link to Smashwords, where the ebooks will be available. I may announce the book release on my various social media sites as well.

I have also written blog articles, but I don’t do it all the time. Typically, I don’t post anything unless I have something to write about. Then I schedule the posts to appear on Mondays, as Monday is the moon’s day. Right now there is a series of blog posts coming out for September. I may continue to write more that will also cover October.

Do you have a writing ritual?

I don’t have a set time to do anything. Currently I have an open schedule, which allows me to set up any appointments I may need. I try to get myself to work on the writing in some form or at least do something promotional. After several days, though, I find I need to just let myself play and goof off or else I will get too stressed. I do have a tendency to work too much and then play too much. I’m still trying to find my balance.

Unfortunately, this could change as I probably should have a part time job to help cover basic expenses. I do plan on growing as much variety of food as I can so I can keep my food bill down as low as possible. I’m still learning how to do that and it will probably have to be indoors in a small horizontal space. It’s not impossible and it’s certainly doable.

And, finally, Ali, why do you write?

It’s like breathing. When I don’t write, I feel like something important is missing from my life. Writing, or any creative work, helps to keep me calm. I find that I don’t want to scream or yell or lose my temper when I keep up with the writing. My life is frustrating enough with the way things currently are and I’m tired of getting blamed for things I have no control over.

Thank you, Ali, so much, for taking the time for another interview :-)

O.K., folks, time to ask Ali a question or two in the Comments…
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

Author Interview ~ Ali Noel Vyain

Regular readers of this blog know I’m the Events Manager on Book Island in the virtual world Second Life.

One of the loyal attendees of our Writers’ Chat has been gracious enough to visit for an interview :-)


Let’s get rolling with where you’re from, how old you are, and is Ali Noel Vyain your real name?

I’m originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana and I’m currently planning my second escape from there. I’m at the young age of 38 years. I’ve published two books under Ali Noel Vyain (full first name is really Alison) although I have used nom de plumes for poems which haven’t all been collected in book form. The last pen name I used was Silver Moon Unicorn, the name I go by in Second Life.

So, Ali, when did you begin writing and can you remember how it felt inside back then?

I can’t remember not writing at any point in my life. I remember having the ability to read when I was at least four years old. I didn’t know at the time that that was unusual, but I loved to read and write at a young age. It felt like I’d found a safe place where no one would interrupt my thinking and cut me off, causing me to lose the whole thought.

Was there any certain date or time you remember when you began to either think of yourself as or call yourself a writer?

Not that I can recall. I just kept at it, on and off, for years. By the time I was a teenager I was definitely calling myself a writer.

Ali, what are your hopes, or dreams, or goals for your writing?

My hopes are to write novels with characters who feel and think deeply about the serious issues in their lives. I still need to find time to spend writing novels and, sadly, I’m too focused on other important things at the moment, but that could change shortly.

Have you had any “formal” training in the craft of writing?

The only formal training I’ve had was in writing classes I had to take while attending the University of Arizona. I’m not sure they helped much. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I just wasn’t understanding what they were teaching or if they weren’t even teaching anything good about writing. Some of the professors couldn’t write in a clear, concise manner and I found it highly annoying. I also never took any classes on creative writing and I doubt I ever will.

What do you feel has taught you the most about “how to write”?

Writing a lot of poetry and short stories combined with reading some of the best literature out there.

Who are your favorite writers and why are they favorites?

Louisa May Alcott—strong women characters and she never condemned homemakers—she honored them for their selflessness. She also wrote some of the best romances.

Jane Austen—she made fun of romance and courtship as she showed the psychological aspects of it.

Robert A. Heinlein—great sci-fi stories with hard core science in them—made them that more believable, plus a recurring male character who is quite ornery and is probably the writer himself.

Arthur C. Clarke—also great sci-fi stories with hard core science. And, he has a tendency towards deadpan humor.

Isaac Asimov—hard core science, great stories, and fascinating characters. One of the few men who could write believable and likable women characters.

Andre Norton—excellent sci-fi and fantasy stories. Strong women characters. She wrote about magic and ESP in a plausible way. She also wrote stories about women entering the workforce.

Oscar Wilde—pokes fun at the morals of his society and makes me laugh while he tells his stories.

Great collection of authors!
Now, let’s find out where and/or how you get your ideas for your writing?

From just about everywhere—my dreams, watching and/or interacting with other people, watching movies, reading books

What’s your normal revision or editing routine, Ali ?

I try to get a rough draft out without thinking about how good or bad it is. I let the draft sit for a while then go back and be as critical as I can.

O.K., time to tell us about what you’ve published and what’s coming up.

Published: Scientist in training gone mad—poetry and short story collection dealing with things that don’t make sense according to what might be expected from what was told; and, Honoring the Cats in My Life—poetry collection dedicated to the wonderful cats I’ve had the honoring of knowing.

Upcoming: Lots of novels, featuring elves, vampires, werewolves (and possibly other kinds of weres) plus humans and aliens

Ali, please tell us about your blog: its purpose, how you go about deciding what to post, and what you want to do with it in the future.

My blog is about my publishing house and its authors. A few of them did post some articles but, right now, I’m the only one who’s posting anything. I also write about current tends in the publishing industry, what I’m up to (making bean bag chairs), and sometimes just sharing an opinion about something I feel strongly.

In the future, I would hope more of the authors would contribute, but we’ll see. I also want to help promote their book readings but that’s rather hard when they don’t tell me when and where they are :-)

Sounds like a challenging endeavor, Ali
So, how long have you had your publishing house and what were your reasons for launching it?

I created The Moon Publishing & Printing in March 2003. At the time, I thought I wanted to work on a monthly magazine but wasn’t sure anyone would hire me.

What do you think about digital versus print books and magazines?

I think the main difference is the format. The quality of the writing should be the same. With the high cost of printing, I’m glad there’s a more cost-effective method for making books and magazines widely available. I also like how I’m still being challenged to keep up with changing technologies.

Where are your books & monthly magazine available?

The magazine is available directly from The Moon Publishing & Printing. Also, any printed books have to be ordered from the publishing house and, since it’s Print-On-Demand, readers need to make a request to have the order printed and shipped.
Here’s the full catalogue :-)
And, the email addresses:

The ebooks are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Books, Apple’s iBookstore (on iTunes or the iPad), and any retailer that sells Google Books.

Ali, would you care to share some of your current feelings about publishing?

I think we’re in an exciting time; but, it’s all rather turbulent. There are so many changes going on and many people aren’t sure where things are headed. I know the big publishers hate it and are refusing to work with anyone to make things better. However, I’m one publisher who’s willing to work with other people to help with the transition.

Well, Silver Moon, I’ll be seeing you on Book Island; and, Alison, thanks, so much, for stopping by and letting us know about your books and your publishing house :-)


O.K., folks, time to ask Ali some questions in the Comments :-)

Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page

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