Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: authors

Am I Authoring My Life or Are Others Writing It for Me?

Book Discussions There’s a conversation going on here…

It began on February 12th and continued on the 14th

So far, the conversation has been about an author’s conversation with the world and having a conversation on this blog :-)

Reader Comments on the 14th:

“I like the idea of blogs being a conversation rather than a monologue.”

I think every author stands at that window of trust and wonders if it’s possible to jump and land unhurt. In a way, we are all shouting into the emptiness of bookspace and listening with surprise to faint answers.”

A comment about, though extending, those comments, on the 14th:

“‘Am I authoring my life or are others writing it for me?’ That’s a very interesting question. I guess we would all like to be the author of our lives but……. what author can truly say when they wrote a book they knew everything that would happen in it? On the other hand a book may have an author but it is also written in the reader’s head, who shapes its story in their imagination as well. So perhaps both states of being are desirable – you author and other people read “versions” of your authored work and somehow or other we all reach the end of the book, better read, still wondering if we understood the climax and the denouement and hoping there will be a good ending :-)”

I find this comment fascinating since it starts with a question I’d asked and immediately takes it to territory dealing with an author’s conversation with their own work—writer talking to their writing…

My response to, “what author can truly say when they wrote a book they knew everything that would happen in it?”, is that we can’t be absolutely sure what happens in our lives and the author can’t be absolutely sure what will happen in their book—until it happens—until it’s written…

But… We can plan intelligently and faithfully about our lives and the author can do the same about their book…

Still… We must accept what life makes of our efforts and the author must accept the “place” the book wants to go, as well as what readers want to make of the book…

The rest of that reader’s comment is still being processed and I may have to delay fully commenting until I’ve mined it for more meaning—rather like certain situations in my life—rather like certain situations in books…

Though, I do get some tentative meaning:

Life and books are being constantly re-written and the stories can certainly seem to blend into or clash with each other—we can either accept the situation or we can go a bit mad under the relentless flow—books take us places we may not expect nor like—life certainly does the same…

Yet, a book we don’t like can be put down and a life course can be abandoned…

Perhaps, the best advice, at times, is to find a book you like better—re-write your future with fresh plans…

Have I made any sense for you?

Have something to add to the conversation?

Have a few questions you’d like to ask?

Do, please, leave a comment or two…

The conversation continues on Wednesday :-)
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Visit The Story Bazaar
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com


A Personal Anniversary and a New Year’s Hopes . . .

I started this blog exactly 7 years ago—I’ve published a little over 2,000 posts… A Personal Anniversary and a New Year's Hopes

I feel the words of the very first post bear repeating:

Read > Write > Publish > Repeat = A Wonderfully Strange Life

I’ll start explaining the formula in this post’s title with the word “strange”. Its history shows it meaning, “from elsewhere, foreign, unknown, unfamiliar”.

A Strange Life…

So does reading then writing then publishing then repeating the process create a life that’s unfamiliar, unknown, foreign, and from elsewhere?

Ask any serious writer :-)

The reason I started this little explanatory formula with “reading” is because I’m in agreement with the folks who say the best training for writing (besides writing itself) is lots of reading. Of course, reading might also be the research that writers often do—even the kind of “reading” they do in their own minds when they invent characters and worlds.

This reading of one’s own mind isn’t all that hard. It is strange, though, because it usually doesn’t involve words. It’s the heart reading what the mind is saying from its depths.

So, then comes the writing. If you aspire to create a wonderfully strange life, I suggest you not read a bunch of books about writing before you actually do a whole bunch of writing. In fact, the formula should have a little feedback loop between reading and writing: read>write>read>write, etc.

Then, publish. This doesn’t have to be normal publishing. Since the word means, “to make public” and public means, “open to the community”, the community you publish to could be as small as a group of friends.

Then comes repeat. If you want a truly wonderful life that constantly surprises you with the unfamiliar, that leads you to the unknown, that introduces the foreign, and entertains experience from elsewhere, you have to get a cycle of read/write/publish going.

Think of a coffee house. Imagine the person who reads books, then shares their experience in their own words. Every time you visit, they have a new story. Pretty soon, they’re painting their own stories. By the way, one of the original meanings for the word “write” was “paint”.

So, there they sit reading their own minds with their hearts and painting verbal pictures that inspire the little coffee house community.

The first people who led a wonderfully strange life may not have had coffee, but they had their community. They spoke heart-felt words that captivated their friends.

They were our human family’s first authors…

So, that satisfies my feelings about celebrating my blog’s anniversary

Now, for some of my concerns and hopes for this New Year…

They come from an article in OpenCanada.Org, called, How to Build a Better, Bolder and Braver World in 2018.

The words in these excerpts are from Payam Akhavan:

“…we are out of touch with the despair and rage and alienation in our midst, and that we need to have a conversation about empathy and engagement.”

In speaking about a book of his that became a bestseller:

“…the fact that the book became a bestseller wasn’t so much a triumph of my ego but more a kind of vindication of my understanding of what moves the public to think and reflect more deeply on the human condition — what it is that provokes people, instead of falling into despair and anger, to actually be motivated, to become engaged, to build a better world.”

And, something that more folks should ponder (as it relates to their individual lives) and discuss:

“…imposing individual accountability for crimes against humanity, isn’t just about some lofty moral dream, but it’s also about sustainable global governance, because there is a price that you pay for impunity for mass violence.”

And, a comment by Mr. Akhavan that I consider a Writing Prompt:

“We need to create movements within different nations that demand of their leaders a more global vision and meaningful engagement in creating institutions of global governance. But by the same token we need visionary leadership among global elites that realizes the status quo is not tenable.”

And, finally, something that could also be a Writing Prompt, about the Millennials:

“I would actually think that I have great hope in the millennials. I see, as an educator who deals with young people all the time, and as someone who is a father of two teenage children, that degree of consciousness, whether it’s about gender, the environment, poverty, culture, identity, racism — I think that my children are way ahead of where I was.

“I think that we need to admit to the millennials the grave mistakes that [older generations] made in [their] culture, which celebrated greed and narcissism, and which has brought us to this point — this incredible despair and thirst for doing something meaningful.”

There is much more to ponder in the full article…

Happy New Year !
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Visit The Story Bazaar
FREE On-line Course in Self-Publishing & Book Promotion
Even though it may say “Fee”, it Really is FREE :-)

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

Journalists Have a Lot to Teach Other Writers . . .

Back in January, I published a post called, Investigative Journalists Are Storytellers, Too…

Here’s an excerpt:

What is an Investigative Journalist?

One set of broad identifiers is on the JournalismFund.EU site:

  • Important subject – only a question of importance for the common good can motivate the amount of effort and resources, that very well may have to be invested in the research as well as the criticism uttered in the publication.
  • Own initiative – journalists/editors decide, what is important.
  • Own research – the reporter gathers information and documents, sometimes in spite of tough resistance.
  • Own analysis – the information gathered and the documents are evaluated. An expert can assist in the analysis, but publication does not depend on what someone says.
  • Exclusivity – the public learns important information, that else would not have been in the open.

Most of what those guidelines indicate could work quite well for essayists, memoirists, novelists, and other writers

That past post featured Jenny Kleeman; and, today, I’ll point you toward the work of two other journalists.

First is Christina Patterson, a columnist (which is a type of journalist) and broadcaster.

Christina Patterson

Christina Patterson

When wondering what a columnist could teach other writers it would be valuable to look at Christina’s About Page — here’s a short excerpt:

“After reading English at Durham, and doing an MA in ‘The Novel’ (with Malcolm Bradbury, Angela Carter and Lorna Sage) at the University of East Anglia, she worked in publishing before moving to the Southbank Centre to organise and present literary events. Writers who took part in the programme ranged from Gore Vidal, Susan Sontag, Salman Rushdie and Umberto Eco to poets hardly anyone had ever heard of.”

Elizabeth Day

Elizabeth Day

Then, there’s Elizabeth Day—a journalist who’s the author of four novels…

Here are a few comments about her writing from reviewers:

“An acutely observed and insightful portrait of contemporary urban life. Audacious, funny and shrewdly telling – written with tremendous confidence and brio”
— William Boyd, Paradise City

“Day is an empathic observer. She is meticulous in teasing and dissecting each sensation”
— Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times

“A moving, terrifyingly real account of how love can be bent out of all recognisable shape”
— The Observer — Scissors, Paper, Stone

The reason I know about these three journalists (writers) is that they all appear regularly on the Sky News segment, Press Preview.

They have all kinds of folks on Press Preview, some quite obnoxious; and, the format is the broadcast presenter leading two people in a discussion of the latest news stories.

The three journalists I’ve featured immediately grabbed my attention—they made sense, they spoke in complete sentences, and they actually gave Considered opinions.


If you’re a writer and you need a fresh approach to what writing is all about, do consider studying a few journalists, even if all they’re doing is talking
If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
Visit The Story Bazaar

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


#Writers Need All the Help They Can Get . . . And, so Do #Readers . . .

At different times and for different reasons, all writers need help—

Writers and Readers need help

Image Courtesy of Mikhail Lavrenov ~

—with getting new ideas, with improving current ideas, with editing or revision, with the way to construct a book…

I’ve been extremely interested in a particular phenomenon that’s intended to help writers; however, it’s also intended to help “…readers, booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, and anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”

It’s the Main Street Writers Movement {which will include this one at the top (and, others, I’m sure, in the future, since I tag my posts so they can be found in groups in the Top Tags widget, down a bit in the left side-bar…)}

In fact, the Founder of the Movement said this:

“The Main Street Writers Movement urges experienced writers to strengthen the national literary ecosystem through passionate engagement at the local level. Let’s honor and amplify our communities’ underrepresented voices. Let’s buy from local bookstores and small presses. Let’s leave our houses and dance in the streets to the sound of each other’s words.”

She also said:

“These are scary and uncertain times, but we must continue to use our voices and to listen to our neighbors’ words.”

And, concerning joining the Movement (for which there are No Fees…), which you can do Right Here, she said:

 [Becoming] “…an official member of the Main Street Writers Movement, [earns] you access to literary community building tools, industry insights, and connections with #mainstreetwriters who are creating new opportunities in their cities. We’ll send you a newsletter once a month with ways to get involved and ideas to make a difference.”

But, once again, even though it’s called a Writers Movement, it truly is also for “…readers, booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, and anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”

O.K., so that, apart from my normal work as a writer and my duties as a member of Humanity, is one of my top “passions” now; yet, this help for writers thing was also a factor in my writing today’s post because of an article by Jane Friedman called, Author Marketing Collectives: An Increasingly Important Component of Book Promotion.

It makes mention of a group called Tall Poppies; and, my Best Friend (from Australia, where the phrase is used to indicate folks who could use a lecture on entitlement…) feels the group is doing themselves a disservice with that name; though, they are doing quite well, probably because folks in the U.S.A. haven’t run into that phrase…

Now, that was a tortured sentence :-)


The idea behind the group—

I’ll quote from the article:

“…our goals are different from a publisher’s goals. Of course, we would like to sell books but our primary objective is to give our readers access and personal interactions with authors. To that end, a Tall Poppy Author is invested in relationships and not only the kind of relationships where money changes hands. We want our stories to resonate and getting to know our readers help us do that. If a publisher has like-minded, committed, generous authors who enjoy social media it’s possible they could mimic what we do.”

Not sure about you, but this sounds to me like a group of authors who, all by themselves are doing something extremely similar to what Main Street Writers Movement is working to implement.

The only difference I detect is that Tall Poppies is a two-way street between a group of writers and their readers; while Main Street Writers Movement is a multi-dimensional set of paths between:

“Writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, and anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”

I’ve contacted my local library here in Akron, Ohio and a large writer’s group in Cleveland, Ohio and will soon start calling local bookstores, et al.

 Thing is, the library and the writer’s group liked the idea of Main Street Writers Movement but couldn’t see what they could do with it…

I certainly won’t push them and I did recommend they read my posts about it; but, bottom line, I feel they were being insular—wanting to stay on their island, not even attempt to launch boats to make friends with other islands—remain isolated from “…anyone who wants to participate in the literary conversation.”afraid of “diluting their efforts”…

Yet, it’s my firm belief that More can be done with More people from More diverse pools of learning and desire…

Sure, it can demand better planning, smoother logistics, more time, and a firmer commitment to the “larger community”…

But, in a world tearing itself apart into a multitude of sects and causes and parties and nations and walled-off clubs, why not make more room for the transcendent call of the Oneness of Humanity?

Actually, since the mid-1800s and more strongly since the early 1920s,  humanity has been learning to Unify…

There are more groups now, working toward unification, then at any time in the history of humanity—it’s an evolutionary phenomenon…

So… before I spin off into a cloud of aspiration, I ask you to consider (even if it isn’t through association with Tall Poppies or Main Street Writers Movement) hooking up with other folks, merging some of the goals of your group with other groups to strengthen both, volunteering with one of the many organizations working for Human Unity…

O.K., I’m signing off  ’cause I’ve arrived smack in the middle of that cloud of aspiration :-)

If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com


A Fascinating Story from Wattpad

If you scroll down to the Top Tags widget in the left side-bar and click on “Wattpad” you’ll find this post and 25 more (perhaps more yet if you’re reading this post well after Dec. 2016…).

And, if you can’t find the Top Tags (phones often cut off the side-bar) just click on that last link :-)

If you do take that link you’ll find posts about why I began using Wattpad, plus a number of interesting interviews with Wattpad authors, plus some of the benefits of exploring the Wattpad World…

Today I want to show how folks on Wattpad help each other.

Mary L Tabor - Wattpad First there’s Mary L. Tabor who has 22 different works on Wattpad, has been there since March, 2014, and has this to say in her profile:

“Reader, author, professor, radio show host, columnist. Best advice I ever got? ‘Only connect …’ — E.M. Forster.

“This writer believes the process of writing is an ongoing, changing effort—a deeply human experience. We all have language and the ‘word’, as Emerson said, ‘if traced to its root, is found to be borrowed from some material appearance. “Right” means “straight”‘ he explains in Nature, Chapter IV, ‘Language.’

“Thus, we all own metaphor in our words.”

KL Candela - Wattpad Then, there’s KL Candela, who has 4 works on Wattpad, has been there since March 2016, and says in her profile:

“Endless gratitude to Mary L. Tabor who I met here on Wattpad and who then took me under her angel/professor wing for over a year, never asking for a thing in return, except for me to show up and work hard. During this time she taught me much about the craft of creative writing, while always being fast to remind me not to mess with that mysterious place of invention. (See, this is a good teacher.) This fabulous and whip smart woman taught me not only how to write better, she taught me how to read better, and believe me, I know well, because of her, how these two acts must go together if you want to create great writing. Please check out her award winning writing here on Wattpad.

And for me: Published:
Poetry in Launch Magazine; Short Story in Lake Effects 7 Anthology 2015, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON;

Shortlisted in the Glimmer Train Top 25 Short Fiction Contest 2015

That kind of interaction and instruction and friendship is happening all over Wattpad…

Of course, you can use Wattpad to only read, for free (on your phone, if you like…)…

You might also let the authors you read know what you think about their works…

You might try your hand at some original writing…

And, you might post writing you’ve already done…

The thing is, if you hang around long enough, you’ll find friendly, helpful people (from all over the

If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com