Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Joanna Penn

#BookReview of #RozMorris ’ #NewBook ~ a Wonderful ! #Travel #Memoir

The title of this post may not be “pretty”; but, it should have some hashtag “influence” on Twitter…

Roz Morris ~ Author The reason for desiring the influence is Roz Morris‘ new book, Not Quite Lost – Travels Without A Sense of DirectionNot Quite Lost: Travels Without a Sense of Direction

I know I used the words “Book Review” in the title; but, I’m much more the reporter here; so…

Here’s Roz telling us about the Source of her new book:

“A notebook is essential travel gear, of course. I have a special one I use when I’m off home turf. It’s an old leatherbound book embossed with the name ‘visitors’ – because it is the book I write in when I’m a visitor.”

That notebook is where she mined 25 years of travel for the tales in Not Quite Lost.

 In fact, that notebook also contains prompt-material for her first two novels, as well as a few future ones…

And, before I get into reporting on this book, I must mention those first two novels—both incredibly unique, both exquisite reads: My Memories of a Future LifeLifeform Three


Also, before we consider Not Quite Lost, I must trumpet the praises of Roz’s Writing Books, the Nail Your Novel Series

And, backing up just a bit more (before we move forward), I can’t fail to mention Roz’s deep and rich experience as a ghostwriter…

Let’s just sum all that up with a quote from one of her Bios:

Roz Morris published nearly a dozen novels and achieved sales of more than 4 million copies – and nobody saw her name because she was a ghostwriter. She is now proudly publishing as herself with two acclaimed literary novels and is frequently compared to Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury and Doris Lessing. She has also been a writing coach, editor and mentor for more than 20 years with award-winning authors among her clients. She has a book series for writers, Nail Your Novel (and a blog, and teaches creative writing masterclasses throughout Europe and for The Guardian newspaper in London.”


I’ve just finished reading Not Quite Lost – Travels Without A Sense of Direction and I took just a few notes as I traveled along with Roz and her husband, Dave (who must not be slighted; so, here’s a Bio for Dave Morris…).

Before my few personal notes, taken as I read Not Quite Lost, here’s my idea of some Promotional Copy for Roz’s latest book:

Entrancing Tales ~ Chummy Anecdotes ~ Delightful Humor ~ Surprising Truths ~ Impeccably Lovely Writing; and, dare I say, Much More:-)

My Sparse Notes from Not Quite Lost {there are 19 Tales in the book—the ones not mentioned below had a quality similar to some of Emily Dickinson’s poems, full of meaning that can be experienced; yet, leaving a trail of mystery in my mind...}:

Eve of destruction: a childhood home

Excerpt: “A family house is one of your guardians.”

You are not Morgana and I am not Merlin

I can’t reveal any of the words of this particular tale; though, it is full of humorous riddles…

I came to find her

This one is pure sweetness…

Staircases to nowhere

This one’s about a house that wouldn’t completely vanish…

Travels without a sense of direction

One word here: intrepidity (oops, that was four...)

A time traveller’s road

Rather amazing—Roz shares the personality of a road…

Cold sleepers

Utterly fascinating…

An earthquake

It was in Italy; and, Roz, during nitely retellings (repeated as mundane prayers): “I’d done the typical writerly thing – I was filing it away, to be able to tell it faithfully afterwards.”

Strictly faking it

A few reveals about her ghostwriting days and submissions of her own first novel, mingled with a very impressive flash-mob dancing gig…

West word

Such a lovely ending…

Roz gives a handy recap of all the places visited and a couple surprise links to the flash-mob dance and a Pinterest page of all the places in the book…

She also reveals how a few of the locations spawned places in her novels, past and future…


If you’d like to read a “real” review and some supporting articles, try here, here, & here,

I’m going to share a video of Roz and Joanna Penn talking about Not Quite Lost; but, at about the 5 minute mark, Roz mentions a Particular Memoirist, whose name appears in some of the promotional copy for her book:

‘Move over, Bill Bryson … beguiling’ – Peter Snell, independent bookseller

Must include one last quote from Roz before the video:

“Not Quite Lost” is, as she says, a “…first collection of narrative non-fiction. Set mainly in England, it’s an ode to the quiet places you never realised might tell you a tale.”

Now, before I get out of the way and stop breaking many blogging rules: the following “Juicy” video travels quite a bit down it’s own trails, covering, among other paths—Fiction writers “keeping it real’ when writing memoir—Personal Essays—Writing for Therapy—Journalling—Splurge Drafts—Libel—Writing Novels—Marketing…

Hope you don’t have to suffer an ad before the interview…

Enjoy :-)

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What is “Author Voice” ?

To start today’s exploration of Author Voice, I’ll excerpt a bit from a post I published in November 2013—How Do Writers Find Their “Voice”? 

Author's Voice

Image Courtesy of Svilen Milev ~

“For those of you who’ve never considered what a writer’s Voice is, Wikipedia has a decent definition:

“’The writer’s voice is the individual writing style of an author, a combination of idiotypical usage of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works).”

“And, whoever wrote that definition (or, considering it’s Wikipedia, however many people worked on editing that definition) it has a peculiar Voice since it uses a completely non-typical word (not even in my Oxford dictionary)—’idiotypical’…”

And, in December of 2014, I published the post: The Writer’s Voice ~ More Than A Certain “Style”…

That one has a valuable video; however, the video is about qualities of voice in speaking

I say this about that:

“…I am a writer and I find using the tool of Analogical Comparison, applied to other arts, is a valuable source of learning in my art—painting and music are also great for this creative-borrowing of tools…”

I use a different flavor of Analogical Comparison in a post I published in October 2012—Can Writing Poetry Help An Author Find Their “Voice”?

This is the beginning of that post:

“Writer’s Voice is one of those terms that seems to change its meaning depending on who’s talking about it—almost as if ‘Writer’s Voice’ were capable of sensing who’s writing about it and letting that author’s Voice decide what ‘Writer’s Voice’ means…”

And, to round out the information in those posts, here’s a video about Author Voice with Joanna Penn (she’s “written 21 books and sold over 500,000 books in 84 countries and 5 languages”) and Roz Morris (“professional writer, editor, and writing blogger”—“sold more than 4 million copies of books worldwide”) ENJOY!

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#Publishing ~ Good and Bad

I’m going to report on three articles today—three views into the workings of today’s Publishing Industry… 

First, David Gaughran‘s piece, How The London Book Fair Helps Vanity Presses Exploit Newbie Authors.

An excerpt:

“The most prestigious event in the UK publishing calendar, the London Book Fair, welcomes predatory operators with open arms, deliberately positions them opposite author events for extra cash, and then helps to whitewash their reputation – even running misleading interviews and puff pieces on its own website to help them get more leads.”

David’s talking about what are called “Vanity Presses”.

They pretend to be regular trade publishers; but, they lure a writer in then attempt to trick them into paying exorbitant fees to publish their book.

This is extremely different from a writer who chooses to pay certain fees for services to help them Self-Publish.

It’s also very different from Traditional Publishing, where the writer (if providentially accepted) pays no fees; in fact, is given a cash advance

Two more excerpts:

“I’m sure many of you are angry about this – and you have every right to be. This is the leading event of the UK publishing industry, and one of the most prestigious in the world. And the London Book Fair is not just allowing these guys to appear, but it’s actively generating leads for exploitative services, and directly engaging in PR efforts on their behalf to make them seem like legitimate publishers.”

“The deeper I dig – five years of this, let me remind you – proves that these guys are central to the industry, and that whole swathes of the publishing establishment is geared towards separating inexperienced writers from their money in incredibly dishonest ways. And we never even talk about it, let alone take action.”

That’s the Dark Side

Now, for Jane Friedman and her article, The Publishing Industry in 2016: A Status Update.

“According to Nielsen Bookscan, for print book sales (primarily traditional publishing sales):

  • During the first quarter of 2016, frontlist adult fiction sales were down by 17% compared to 2015
  • During the second quarter, they were down by 4%
  • First quarter backlist sales were up by 4% compared to the prior year
  • Second quarter backlist sales were up by 9%”

Then, this:

“…the picture became more clear when the biggest New York publishers released their financial results for the first half of 2016—compared to the prior year:

  • Penguin Random House (PRH): sales down 10.7 percent
  • Hachette Book Group USA: sales down 6.6 percent
  • HarperCollins: sales down 2.5 percent
  • Simon & Schuster: sales down 3.5 percent”

One more excerpt:

“For Penguin Random House, the CEO said the shortfall was related to ‘the absence of newly published megasellers’, as well as the  poor performance of ebooks in the United States and UK. Helping make up for the losses: steady print book sales and audiobook sales.”

There’s a lot more in Jane’s article (especially about Amazon…); but, I’ll leave it to the folks who Need To Know to go read both Jane’s and David’s full articles

Finally, there’s an interview between Jane and Joanna PennPublishing Trends In 2016 With Jane Friedman—where Jane talks about “empowerment”; which, to me, clearly means Self-Publishing:

“There is a class of author who I think is more empowered. But I don’t think the emerging writer, the person without any credits to their name, are they more empowered? Not necessarily. But there are lots more options and paths for them if they educate themselves.

“But in that first book contract, if they choose traditional, it’s hard. It’s as hard as it’s ever been.”

So, three articles, lots of opinion, some facts—just like Life-in-General—Some Good, Some Bad, Educate Yourself………
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Is It Really Worth Being a Self-Published Author ?

I need to make my use of the term “Self-Published” clear—mostly because of another term—“Indie Author”… 

Back in 2013, in the post, “What IS An Indie Author?”, I quoted a question I’d asked The Alliance of Independent Authors concerning something said on their site about membership:

“I notice the first ‘definitive’ statement is:
‘You have self-published at least one book.’
What is ALLi’s definition of ‘self-published’?”

Orna Ross, the Founder of ALLi, made this reply:

“Essentially, that the author paid and was the creative director of the book.”

I thanked her, then received another reply:

“You’ve actually sparked an entire debate in the office, Alexander…”

So, I gave this post I’m writing the title, Is It Really Worth Being a Self-Published Author ?

And, I’m going to give a partial answer to that question by sharing excerpts from an article by Joanna PennPros And Cons Of Being An Indie Author—I feel “Self-Published” and “Indie” are interchangeable—other folks don’t think they are and, perhaps within another decade or so, opinions will achieve some coherence


So, here are Joanna’s Pros and Cons for Being an Indie a Self-Published author:


Total creative control over content and design


Faster time to market

Higher royalties

Sell by any means in any global market, as you retain the rights

Niche books can reach an audience

Use it to get into the game

{ Joanna, by the way, in her discussion of that last Pro, actually uses “Indie” and “Self-Publish” somewhat interchangeably…}


You need to do it all yourself or find suitable professionals to help

There’s no prestige, kudos or validation by the industry

You need a budget upfront if you want a professional result

It’s difficult to get print distribution in bookstores

Most literary prizes don’t accept indie books and most literary critics for mainstream media

Even with a bit of confusion over what to call authors who don’t do it traditionally, Joanna’s article is worth a full read—she goes on to talk about being a “Hybrid” author and shares other publishing options

One thing is certain—there are more options for authors now then ever before in Human History.
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Making Money As A Writer

I’ve written many posts about writers and money.

Writing for Money

Image courtesy of Caltiva Creatividad ~

Some folks think that only the journalist-type or the non-fiction writer should think about making money

Some folks think that fiction writers shouldn’t consider money and only write for the love of the art

Some folks think the new self-publishing juggernaut can slam them into the mega-sales bracket

Thing is, there’s a bit of truth in all those ways of thinking—a bit

The full truth about any individual’s chance of making money with their writing involves, at least, the following factors:

* How strong their desire is to make money

* How much money they can spare to help them make money

* How much time they have to spend working toward making money

* The choice of venues in which they’re willing to try to make money

From my experience, I’d recommend a writer soberly consider those factors; then, based on their deliberations, make a sound judgement about one more factor:

* Can they generate the staying-power to pursue, faithfully and diligently, the path toward earnings they want to follow?

That’s my two-cents’ worth

Now, I’ll share two very different perspectives on making money as a writer.

The first is from a friend of mine—Angela Yuriko Smith—and is called Three Ways to Build Your Byline.

Her method is simple and sound; and, you might call it the boot-strap method.

Just a couple excerpts from her article:

“In the beginning, you need to show your talents off anywhere you can.”

“It doesn’t matter if you were paid for them or not.  All that matters is you have published peices of paper with your name on them.”

“Now that so much is on the internet, your links are also your clips.  Save the title and link to everything you get published.”

“Give your talents away to everyone who will take them.  I have had so many doors open up because I volunteered to lend my writing for a good cause.”

“Let your words be powerfully promiscuous.”

Do, if you have any desire to make money as a writer, go read Angela’s full piece.

Next, I’ll offer a video with two of today’s rising stars in the writing-for-money “market”—they both make money talking about making money—yet, they both have some good ideas to offer for your consideration

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