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

The Virtual Book World ~ More Real Than You May Imagine :-)

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

And, I’ve often related experiences from my activities on Book Island on this blog

I also had the privilege of guest posting on Joel Friedlander‘s blog—Second Life: Virtual Book Promotion and Word of Mouth.

Briefly, you can do nearly anything on Book Island that you can do in the world we normally call Reality :-)

Here’s an excerpt from that post {with a few edits to catch up with changes since it was written}:

“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’d been experiencing Book Island for only a short time when the idea for my novel was born. I immediately started renting a shop (one real-life dollar is worth around 260 Second Life dollars) and began seeking feedback from folks about the book’s concept. Soon, the owner (Selina Greene in the UK) and the manager (Arton Tripsa in Australia) approached me about being their Events Manager. Now, I manage nine events a week, directly facilitating three of them, and there’s another event which was inspired by my novel and has discussion sessions on issues raised in the book.”


I thought it was time to let my readers have the Full Schedule of Weekly Events on Book Island {SLT=Second Life Time=U.S. Pacific Time}:

*Sundays, 1pm SLT: Join Sandor Zabelin for our Open Mic @ The Library. Bring your own writings (fiction, non-fiction, poetry…) or the writings of one of your favorite authors. You can read on Voice Chat *or* one of our regulars can read for you. And, we sure won’t kick you out if all you want to do is listen :-)

*Sundays at 6pm SLTGlobal Peace Group – A self-organizing association of individuals learning how to formulate plans to aid a Culture of Peace and, when appropriate, put those plans into action.
This is a non-adversarial approach to group planning and operates with an awareness of the principle of Unity In Diversity.

*Tuesdays at 4pm SLT, Hakeber Haber’s Happy Hour >> Livewriting! Remember sitting around a campfire, listening to ghost stories? Hakeber Haber will write new mini horror stories based on audience prompts and read them live! Then she will clear your brain pallet with comedy from The Life and Times of Car Johnson during the rest of the hour. Horror and comedy go together like milkshakes and French-fries. The fun starts at 4 pm SLT. Car Johnson may even make a guest appearance. :-)

*Wednesdays at 11am SLT is the ever-popular, informal & informative Writers’ Chat. Readers and Artists are especially welcome! We never know what we’ll be talking about and even the seemingly random chatter is interesting :-)

*2nd & 4th Wednesday of the month @ 5pm SLT
>> Digital Publishing–Promotion–Marketing Workshops <<
Today anyone who can write can digitally self-publish, but then what?  How will the emerging digital publishing world differ from today’s? How will writers and poets get the word out when they become one small voice in an ever-expanding global throng looking for readers? Help us find out. Join us for a series of workshops in which we will try to understand how this new world will differ, and how we can earn a living from our books without a publisher’s money and support. Your participation, your insights, and your ideas will be important to our success.  Join us.
>> Jackson also has Office Hours @ 10am SLT on Saturdays :-)

*Thursdays at 4pm SLT: Hakeber Haber’s Happy Hour >> Livewriting! Remember sitting around a campfire, listening to ghost stories? Hakeber Haber will write new mini horror stories based on audience prompts and read them live! Then she will clear your brain pallet with comedy from The Life and Times of Car Johnson during the rest of the hour. Horror and comedy go together like milkshakes and French-fries. The fun starts at 4 pm SLT. Car Johnson may even make a guest appearance. :-)

*Fridays at 5pm SLT
A collective reflection on the Mystical Writings of the World, both old and new, in search of insights that will enrich our lives and broaden our vision. Come and share your positive input as we explore the multifaceted gems of some of humanity’s  great spiritual literary heritage. All contributions will be respected in a courteous atmosphere of mutual support and accompaniment. Meet us at the Book Island Tea Garden:)

*Saturdays at 8am SLT
Hosted by Olivia Whitsend
At traditional Dashes, you arrive, are given a word, words or phrase to work with; you write, then after about 15 minutes, you stop, allowing everyone the opportunity to read their story.
Our format is
Read (last week’s Flash writing, or another piece you’re working on)
Critique (The “Fix” part of the “Fix-N-Flash”)
Flash write
Afterglow (if time allows)

*Saturdays at 11am SLT: Readers’ Chat. You can talk about the books, short stories, or poetry you’ve read recently (or long ago) — even the books you didn’t like :-) This is a casual, welcoming group and we’d love to hear what YOU are, or were, reading!”
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page

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 :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page

Author Interview ~ Laura Cantu

Many of you know I’m the Events Manager on Book Island in the virtual world Second Life.

We have 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.

“Play” Second Life? I know you do a bit more than play :-)

Yes. I have a fantastic store on Book Island!

I also have a display at Alabastoria Plaza.

Which reminds me

My book is being read at Alabastoria Plaza every Monday and Thursday at 8:30 pm SLT (Pacific USA Time). The presenter’s name is Chraeloos.

The readings started Monday, January 14th.

Here’s the link for those readings.

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
* Google Author Page

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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