Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Book Island

Author Interview ~ Elizabeth Thompson

The woman you’ll meet today is a very good friend of mine—intelligent, witty, and compassionate.

She’s described herself as, “Just a little old lady in a muumuu at heart, habitual writer, raging bibliophile, raving loony.”

I think we’re both right

I met Elizabeth when I was the Events Manager on Book Island in the virtual world, Second Life.

I’d be getting ready for our weekly Writers’ Discussion and Elizabeth would arrive and sit on the rope that surrounded the stage we gathered on

It sometimes took a bit of prodding to get her responses during the discussions—whatever she said always unique and spot-on

We don’t see each other at events on Book Island now—we meet up for amazing discussions with other writers at places like The Muse in Jane Watson‘s The State of Writing, in the virtual world Kitely.

So, I’ve been prodding her, on and off, for years, to have an interview here

Let’s get this thing started :-)


Elizabeth, how about we start with some basics about you? Nicole Turner - Author

I’m a writer. A minimalist. I’m married (almost a decade now). I’m 29. I live in the great state of Alabama. I’ve been writing books in the same territory (chic-lit, new adult fiction) for over a decade.

What would you say your writing “style” is?

Messy. Flawed. Silly. But oh-so honest. I like writing about the people I wish I knew. I call them my imaginary friends because I carry them every single place I go. They keep me company when I’m lonely and give me something to sleep to at night. As a matter of fact, I named one of my mains Lullaby because for the better part of a year, that’s what she did for me—sat up in my dark bedroom with me, helping me clear my head when I needed to in order to fall asleep.

So, want to tackle “Why do you write”?

From personal callings gifted by Divine Providence to desperate dreams of sweet immortality, I’ve heard a million answers to this question. Some people are in love with the idea of it. Some people like the lifestyle. Some want to make a living. Some want to be read, to be heard, to be understood. There are people who write with the purest intentions; they want to change the world for the better. I think these are all wonderful reasons to put pen to paper. Sadly, though, my answer isn’t as colorful, exciting, or noble. I just do it because I like to.

[ Editor’s note—Elizabeth is now up to speed :-) ]

As far as publishing goes, what route would you say you’re taking?

I’ve been self-publishing since I was 19, I think. What I like about self-publishing is, you’re in complete control of your finished product (or mostly are). And in my case, there’s not a lot of upfront cost. If you have the time and desire to learn about cover design and basic self-promotion, you can do a whole lot with nothing but your talent and time invested. That’s pretty amazing. I don’t think I could ever do traditional publishing. I’m not brave enough. And the idea of my words being mass-printed and available for the world to pick apart and analyze petrifies me. I love that I can pick and choose who I share what with.

In your opinion, Elizabeth, what does it take to be a good writer?

A story to tell and a willingness to tell it. Honesty. Patience. Hard work. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. And stand there and take it with a smile when the unpredictable, sometimes unkind world reacts to your art. It’s like taking your sweet, precious, irreplaceable pet bunny and gently tossing it into a cage of starving lions. I’m sure there’s a chance they might just look at it and walk off (in a take-it-or-leave-it sort of way), but most likely, they’ll gobble it up OR rip it apart and roll around in what’s left. For me, that’s the toughest part.

Who are your favorite storytellers?

Erma Bombeck. I have every single one of her books. She was the funniest lady. I love and admire the way she could take a mundane task like doing the laundry and turn it into a 10-page chapter about trips to Hawaii and that one time she went to a potluck dinner and caught the table linens on fire. She was a drama queen in the best sort of way—an original desperate housewife. But her desperation was a different kind.

I love Dolly Parton, and I have since I was 5. I love her songwriting, her acting, and I really loved her children’s book I am a Rainbow. She’s kind and gentle, but she shoots straight. There is so much power in humble honesty.

My mom. When she’s telling a funny story, she gets so tickled by the memory, she starts laughing and can’t finish telling it. And when she’s telling campfire tales she does an impression of a chicken which can not be described with words. It’s priceless.

How do your favorite storytellers inspire/shape your own stories?

I recently decided, my new motto is, when it comes to campsites, hotel rooms, and other peoples hearts, leave it better than how you found it or leave it alone in the first place.

My mother used to clean hotel rooms for a living, and we never, ever left one we’d stayed in without her cleaning it first and leaving a tip for the housekeeper. This is very important to her. I used to laugh at her for it, but I’ll never forget and hopefully I’ll pass it down to my own kids someday.

I read a story Dolly told once about a statue of her they’d erected in a park someplace in her honor. She mentioned how her father would go out there and clean the bird poop off it. She teared up when she talked about how much that meant to her.

Care to share some advice for other writers?

There’s a lot to be said for remembering how you started out and appreciating how far you’ve come. What’s even more important, maybe, is that you don’t forget to look back and try and help out those who aren’t quite up to your progress point yet.

Elizabeth, I truly hope we can get you back here, soon, for another interview—Thanks a Heap :-)


Check out Elizabeth Nicole’s latest book………

Now is a great time to ask Elizabeth some questions in the comments…

Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

A Tribute To My Virtual (Real) Friend . . .

Regular readers of this blog know well my work on Book Island in the virtual world Second Life.

Some of you have read the guest post I did for Joel Friedlander, Second Life: Virtual Book Promotion and Word of Mouth.

Some folks claim that friendships in virtual worlds aren’t real

I would say two things:

They didn’t use the right virtual world.


They’ve never been in a virtual world.

Perhaps a quote from that guest post is in order:

“If you’ve never experienced virtual reality, the first, obvious yet often-overlooked, fact is that there is a real person behind every virtual person. You may be sitting in a fake coffee house, ‘drinking’ fake coffee with a 3-D representation of another person, but that other person is ‘there’, responding to you

I have a friend on Book Island named Donjuan Writer.

He’s ultra-intelligent, from the UK, living in Sweden, writes awesome poetry, and is looking into making films in Second Life.

I’ve had many amazing conversations with him.

Recently, he told me he’d had a “breakout” event—performed some of his poetry in public.

There’s a video down there with him performing the poem and I’m going to put the words here, too.

First though, I want to give the definitions for a word used in the poem—bollocks:

1 – the testicles.

2 – [treated as singular] nonsense; rubbish (used to express contempt or disagreement, or as an exclamation of annoyance).

War On Bo**ocks

Ladies and gentlemen,
Brothers and sisters
Children and animals
Flora and fauna,
rent boys and feminists,
movement-makers and cynical bastards,
people of the world,
I declare a war,
on Bollocks.

Let us not be mistaken
this is not a war on dog’s bollocks.
“Dog’s bollocks” is our unifying cry.
it is bollocks
and bollocks alone
that calls us to action.

For too long,
bollocks has paraded itself as reality.
Broadcasted bollocks
has been viewed by our children.
Bollocks has been exposed to the peoples of other cultures,
even the very notion of culture,
has become bollocks.

We have no idea to what degree bollocks may have infiltrated our borders.
We can never document how much bollocks has gone unchecked.
And while the bollocks that springs to mind
hang before our opened eyes,
the untold bollocks beyond our peripheries,
aside from our focus,
underlying the fabric of our cares,
hanging there in the gob-smacked vacuum of the truth-filled cosmos,
continue to taunt and dare us.

There is so much bollocks in our midst that it is fair to conclude that the world rests on the top
of almighty bollocks.

To the bollocks, I say “bollocks”
and take back what’s rightfully mine;
my bollocks
my business
and the bollocks of men, women and children
are their own bollocks.

The bollocks we rise against
are the bollocks that would destroy us.
the bollocks that would enslave us,
the bollocks that would have us teetering on the edge as we slave away in a rut that has us pummeled and bombarded by bollocks
day in
day out,
the bollocks belligerently bashes, beats and bastardises
our rights to just hang about and talk bollocks.

Our rights will be etched loud and proud on our collective, human constitution,
the right to bare bollocks
in the name of world peace
space travel,
clean energy,
healthy food
affordable medical care
access to education
and the longevity of life;
the ability to travel the globe
with a smile on our faces and to smile without fear in the face of a new endeavor
an endevour into the future
the future that is free
from this bollocks.
Brothers, sisters, hermaphrodites,
hear my plea,
Bollocks to bollocks
it’s dog’s bollocks time!

Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
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Author Interview ~ Laura Cantu

Some of you may know I was the Events Manager on Book Island in the virtual world Second Life.

We had many writers attending events and a few of them have been interviewed here.

Here comes another one :-)


Welcome to the blog, Laura. Let’s start with you telling us about your newly finished book, O. K.?Ancient Rising

Sure, Alex.  Xandria Drake: Ancient Rising is a paranormal fantasy novel that puts a unique spin on the history of certain supernatural beings. The story is told through the words of a quirky, yet endearing young lady named Xandria Drake. Her journey through the mysterious and magical worlds of hidden realities forces her to question everything, including herself. Through experiences with darkness, light, chaos, and order, Xandria learns about love, sacrifice, and how to overcome fear. Like an alchemist changes lead into gold, Xandria eventually finds herself transforming into a new person.

So, where’s your book available?

Well, I decided to self-publish and worked with a friend to make it available on Kindle.  For the first run, we decided to release it in parts to allow people to try it before really committing. The full book will also be available very soon. Eventually, it will be available in paperback on Amazon as well.

Your readers can visit my Author Page and explore a part or two of the book :-)

Yes, I noticed you have three parts of the book already available! So, How did you come up with the idea for your story?

Well, it all happened in a strange and serendipitous kind of way. There I was, singing in the shower and washing my hair, when the background information of the story just downloaded into my consciousness. The experience was so vivid that I could almost see a colored map, complete with dates, events, and places, right in front of me. I enjoyed the material immensely and could not stop thinking about it. I even dreamed about it. Eventually, I was begrudgingly convinced by my inner dialogue to “try” to write about it. I had never written anything of this scale in my life and certainly did not think of myself as an author. Yet, there the inner voice was, prodding me to proceed. Scared and intimidated, I raised the lid of my laptop, clicked on the word processing program, and stared at a blank screen. Within seconds, my fingers were typing, taking me along for a ride. Characters came to life, the story formed, and I simply let it happen. It was like watching a movie.  I knew there was information to be released, but I had no clue how it would happen.  The entire process was amazing, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Certainly sounds like this story was ready to be born :-) Do, please, tell us a little about who Laura Cantu is.

I suppose I’ll begin by telling you of my professions. I have two main careers. I am a Doctor of Oriental Medicine by day, and a professional ballroom dancer by night. I love both of my jobs, but if I had to choose only one, I would choose dancing.  I absolutely love to dance, and I hold several national titles.  I placed 4th in the world in the Professional World Argentine Tango Championships and currently compete professionally with my partner and husband, Louis Bar, in the Dancesport Championships Circuit. Additionally, I dance with students and amateur partners in both the International and American dance styles.  My partner and I perform all over the world and enjoy every minute of it. There is nothing like connecting with the music, my partner, and the audience to create inspiring and meaningful moments. The benefit of having the privilege of sharing these moments with others is simply magical!

Aside from dancing and performing acupuncture on patients, I also freelance as an artist and graphic designer. I design brochures, logos, etc., as well as paint portraits, draw, and sculpt.  Most recently, I’ve added writing to my repertoire. Some have called me a Jack-of-all-trades, yet I like to think of myself as simply being creative.

O.K., I just have to ask, if you care to answer, how old you are and where you’re from.

That’s a fun question. I am 38 years old according to popular belief, but I feel more playful and energetic with each year that passes. I appreciate life and value every year that I have the honor to enjoy life’s experiences.

I was born in Kentucky, but moved almost every year until I was 24 years old. I’ve lived in North Carolina, California, and many states in between. One place I’ve never lived is overseas. My husband, however, is from France. Luckily, I get to travel a lot

Do you find time for any hobbies?

It can be difficult, but I try. Sometimes to relax, I watch movies, read books, and play Second Life.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know, Laura?

First, I would like to say thank you to your readers who’ve gotten this far in the interview :-)

Also, a HUGE THANKS to you, Alexander, for asking me to do this interview. I love your blog and am thrilled that you asked me to be a part of it!

You are Very Welcome, Laura :-)


O. K., Folks, now is the time to ask Laura your questions in our Comments :-)
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Author Interview ~ Nia Holden

Today’s post gives us 42 Author Interviews :-)  Nia Holden

It also introduces another author I met when I was Events Manager for Book Island in the virtual world Second Life.

We had an Open Mic at Book Island’s library every Sunday and that’s where I was introduced to Nia’s writing—deeply meaningful poetry, often dark, yet always showing glimmers of hope

Nia is from the country of Georgia.

I’m quite honored she’s decided to be interviewed here


Nia, please tell us how long you’ve been writing.

Alex, I’ve been writing from early childhood

Do you remember your earliest writing? What was your reason for writing then? What did you like about it?

My first writing was fairytales. It seems I just liked to write. I found there weren’t a lot of fairytales, which got me wondering why people hadn’t written more :-) So, I wrote them myself and asked my mother to read them for me.

In my writing back then, I liked that fantasy can be endless and you can imagine anything—there are no rules—you have the feeling there are no walls to break—you’re free to move and describe what you’re seeing.

Would you describe your writing style for us?

Hmmm… Writing style… I don’t think I have any special style

What do you think is your motivation for writing?

Each person has their own way of describing their motivations; but, I don’t think I have any unusual motives, I just write, that’s all.

Are there any writers you admire who you might call your “inspiration”?

My inspiration is Galakhtioni, the Georgian poet. When I read his poems, I was so affected I felt the world changed around me. I found that the soul is a mirror and it shows us the inside world of a person.

Georgian is your native language but how much of your writing has been translated into English?

I try to translate all my work because I’ve found a lot of amazing people who care about what I write; so, I always try to translate so I can share with them.

Would you tell us how much you revise or edit your writing?

My writing needs lots of work. I always edit and correct until I have the best possible result. Everything needs hard work to get what you really want, nothing comes easy.

What are your published works?

I have two published books, Heart Beat Time and 65 Cells.

Would you tell us what kind of help you received in your publishing?

My friends helped a lot with publishing.  I want to especially mention Don Shattuck—an amazing person. He works hard to help me correct my terrible English and grammar mistakes :-) Also, he helped me upload my books to Amazon. I want to thank him, very much

When will you be published again?

I don’t know what will be in the future. I live for today and write when I have something to say.  So, the future is for the future.

What are your most important hopes or goals for your writing?

My hopes? Better to say my Dream. If even one person understands what I try to say in my writing and something in their soul changes—they see something they didn’t see before—I will be happy.

Nia, thank you, so much, for letting us know about your books and giving us a glimpse into your life as a writer :-)


You can have both of Nia’s recently published books by visiting AmazonHeart Beat Time65 Cells

From the book descriptions on Amazon:

Heart Beat Time is first collection of poetry by Nia Holden, a young woman with deep roots in eastern European culture translated for the first time into English. Her unique viewpoint on life and love will startle and amaze new readers. 65 Cells is a collection of fiction and poetry.”
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

The Art of Creative Reading . . .

As you can see from the subtitle of this blog, it’s about Reading, Writing, and Publishing.

Because of an on-going survey of reader desires, writing gets most of the attention.

But, checking the Top Tags widget in the left side-bar shows “read” = 20 posts, “reader” = 40 posts, “readers” = 16 posts, and “reading” = 51 posts; though, I’m sure some of those numbers overlap; and, this post will add another post to each of those categories

There are two special posts here about reading that a friend said were so “technical” that they couldn’t even come up with a comment; though, they apparently liked the posts: What Happens When We Read? ~ Part One and What Happens When We Read? ~ Part Two.

I’ve had to constrain my normal desire to read with abandon for the last long while because I’ve been involved in writing an important series of books.

When the next one is published, I’m going on a reading sabbatical with my Kindle :-)

As some of you know, I’m the Events Manager for Book Island in the virtual world Second Life.

Every Saturday we have Readers’ Chat, a fun and wide-ranging free discussion of any and all books as well as surprising sessions about the act of reading itself.

Last Saturday, someone shared a link to the blog Creative Reading by Wouter Hanegraaff, Professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam.

There are only 8 posts on the blog and I’m hoping some of you are interested enough to visit and, perhaps, induce Wouter to write more :-)

His quote in the banner of the blog is interesting:

“‘As academics we are expected to write and publish, but we are not supposed to waste our time reading.’ This remark by a colleague—as absurd as it is true—inspired me to start this blog. Yes: as an academic in the field of the Humanities I spend much of my time reading, and on this blog you can see how that works. If scholarly writing has any value at all, then the reading that precedes it deserves respect as an integral part of the creative process that leads to knowledge and understanding.”

If all this talk of reading has gotten some of you writers fidgeting, why not read the past post, How To Read Like A Writer :-)
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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