Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: Kitely

#MainStreetWriters & Virtual Worlds


19 days ago I published a post that detailed the goals of the Main Street Writers Movement:Two Author Friends in The State of Writing -- Kitely

  1. To encourage my neighbor writers in the creation of art.
  1. To attend local literary events, because gathering to discuss ideas and encourage creativity is an essential and radical act in these times.
  1. To support my independent bookstore or, if I don’t have one, order direct from the publisher.
  1. To foster a healthy small press and literary magazine climate by reading new work and submitting my own.
  1. To introduce new friends to my core community, allowing us to grow louder and stronger together.
  1. To credit writers and presses publicly for their ideas, photos, and efforts, and to be genuine with praise.
  1. To celebrate every success in my community as a shared success. This is Main Street. Parades welcome.

And, to address the import of the first image up there, it shows two of my author friends (Ali Noel Vyain and Jane Watson) in the virtual world, The State of Writing, on the virtual grid Kitely.

World Portals in Virtual World Kitely We recently, thanks to the owner, author, Jane Watson, began to discuss  Main Street Writers as it relates to her Worlds.

Even though the Movement stresses local engagement, my first awareness of it was from an author in London—it seems to be going global while it establishes itself in localities

And, as far as the virtual worlds I visit, there are writers from Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, California, Germany, Australia, and the Country of Georgia (among other locations on the Earth)

In Jane’s worlds, whether we’re sitting in a cafe, climbing a mountain, taking a boat ride, hang-gliding, or walking under water, we constantly come back to talking about reading, writing, editing, publishing, and other writerly topics… Marina in State of Writing - Kitely virtual world

So, you can join Main Street Writers as a person “…who wishes more people were reading and talking about literature.“

And, you can come join us writers and artists in Jane Watson’s virtual worlds.

Here are a few guidelines for entering Kitely and finding Jane’s worlds:

Go to Kitely.com and join up for free.

 Kitely works best with the Firestorm virtual world viewer—you definitely want the one that says “Opensim” in the description…

Most viewers have the Kitely grid predefined, so you can select it from a menu. For example, in Firestorm the Menu is labeled “Grid” and is located under where you enter your username and password.

When you first enter Kitely you will find yourself at the Welcome area, where can choose your first avatar.

Then, go to the Explore World Pages on the Kitely webpage and enter State of Writing in the Search Bar.

Though, you might want to visit another world of Jane’s called Avatari—you can find a bunch of different avatars there, grab as many as you want…

When you’ve logged in, find the avatar, Arton Tripsa, in search. To facilitate contact you may offer her Friendship and she’ll invite you to the Writers Island Group and, if necessary, send you some LandMarks to help you get around…

If you’re baffled by these instructions, send me an email, amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com, and I’ll have Jane contact you directly and help you enter her virtual worlds :-)

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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 :-)

~~~

Elizabeth’s WebSite/Blog
Her Pinterest Page
And, Her Flickr Page

Nicole left us this postscript:
“Whenever I have books available for purchase, or for free through giveaways, links will be posted on the sidebar of my blog.”

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

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Read Faster? With More Retention? Really?!?


So, I hang out every night, from about 9pm till 12 or 1 in the morning in the virtual world Kitely.

I talk to writers

Writers from many different places in our world

Sometimes we talk in nice buildings, sometimes on boating trips, sometimes just sitting on the grass, or the top of a mountain

And, I don’t pay anything but my basic Internet fee to do all this virtual socializing

So, the other night, at The Muse (a cool space we visit a lot), I was chatting with my Best Friend (from Australia) and my Good Buddy (from Maryland {in the USA}) and someone new dropped by.

This new guy happened to live just a few miles from me in real life (Ohio—USA) but his ancestry was from a country in Asia that I’d spent time in when I was serving in the Navy

Also, what he was talking about was nearly identical to a book I’d just read about how to get more done in less time

I know, I promised faster reading—so, why am I going on about my virtual social life?

Basically because, when I’m doing my thing in a virtual world, I expect to be talking to folks who are many miles physically-distant and not having an ancestry that stretches back to the one place on the earth I had to travel farthest to reach while also sounding nearly exactly like the man speaking in the book I’d just finished !

The psychologist, Carl Jung, would have called so many “coincidences” a case of “Synchronicity“.

And, when this kind of thing happens, I take the time and what’s talked about Very Seriously

One of the very serious things I followed up on was his recommendation of a particular web site and new “Reading Technology” called Spritz.

My new synchronistic-friend in Kitely had shared that he’d only read 4 books in his life due to a particular mental-syndrome he has—he just couldn’t pay attention long enough to finish more than a few dozen pages

After he’d played with Spritz for awhile, he found himself reading so quickly and retaining so much that, in a relatively short time, he’d finished about 70 books

Spritz lets you adjust your reading speed from 40 WordsPerMinute to 1,000 WPM!

So, because of my publishing experiment on Wattpad (which involves one heck of a lot of reading), I’m going to be experimenting with Spritz

From the Spritz page about the science behind their Reading-Technology (and, I encourage anyone interested to definitely read that whole page...):

“Removing the eye movements associated with traditional reading methods not only reduces the number of times your eyes move when reading, but also decreases the number of times your eyes must pass over a word for your brain to understand it. This makes spritzing extremely efficient, precise, convenient and comfortable.”

And, on the page where you find all the places you can use Spritz, you learn that it can be used on the Web, with 6 different Apps on iOS, 3 different Apps on Android, the Windows Phone, the Samsung Galaxy S5, the Samsung Gear2, and 3 websites that have integrated Spritz Technology

Plus, I want to share two very important points from their FAQ page:

  • Does it require special training?

Unlike other reading techniques, you don’t have to receive special training to read with Spritz. And… the more you practice, the faster you will go, the smoother the reading will seem and the higher your retention will be. What you need to learn: relax! Don’t try to scan the words from left to right. Simply look at the red character and trust that your brain retains the whole word. When you relax, you will concentrate more on the content – see next question.

  • Will I even remember anything I read?

Of course… Our testing shows that the retention levels when spritzing are at least as good as with traditional reading and that, with just a little bit of experience, you will retain even more than you did before. How long can I spritz in one session? Internally, we’ve tested to about 2 hours straight with no breaks. Then our tester had to pee. If you have a large bladder and would like to take a shot at the record, by all means, go for it and let us know the results.

I’ll be experimenting with Spritz on Wattpad and I’ll share my results—(soon ?)but, if you try it, do, please give us a report in the Comments :-)

Oh! Here’s a nifty short video about Spritz:

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The Librarian Who Became a Novelist


I have a new (virtual) friend who just happens to be a fine poet.

Lucia St. Clair Robson

Click to visit Lucia St. Clair Robson’s site…

“Virtual” because I met her in a place called The State of Writing—which is in the Virtual World, Kitely.

She’d just visited for the first time two nights ago and we shared a boat trip (virtually) last night.

This morning she left a comment on yesterday’s post with a link to a fascinating article in the Capital GazetteLucia Robson: How I made peace with telling lots of lies for a living.

As usual, I’ll excerpt (with comments) and encourage you to go read the full article

Early in the article, Lucia says:

“In 1975, I accepted a job in Anne Arundel County’s exceptionally fine public library system.”

You’d think someone who’d spent so much time around books would be able to imagine writing one; yet, after an editor told her she should do just that, she said:

“Don’t be ridiculous. I don’t know how to write plots or character development or snappy dialogue.”

Luckily, the editor replied:

“Just shut up and do it.”

After much prodding, she began her attempt to write a novel, finished a six-chapter draft, sent it to the editor who’d gotten her into this, and had him give her the name of another editor to submit to—result (in Lucia’s own words):

“A week later Pam called the library and offered me a contract to finish what turned out to be a 562-page historical novel, Ride the Wind.”

Lucia went on to write nine more novels

And, apart from asking you, again, to go read the full article, the best ending to this post is this excerpt:

“My tenth and latest work of fiction, Devilish, is set in the present in Anne Arundel County. But no matter when or where a novel takes place, the writer and the reader make an unspoken pact. The astute reader says, ‘I know you’re lying to me, but I’ll suspend disbelief on the chance that, together, we’ll come to some greater truth.’

“That’s how I’ve made peace with being a professional liar.”

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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 ~ Johnpaul Mahofski


As many of you know, I spend lots of time in the virtual world, Second Life (and, recently, Kitely, too). Microfiction is More

Lots for a writer to do in these worlds—at a café, library, or even a fishing club—talking about writing or, as writers do, talking about everything else

One of my long-term friends has had three names, so far, for his avatars—Soup Johnson, Relish Resident, and Brokali (trying on personae is often practiced in virtual worlds…).

His real-world name is Johnpaul Mahofski and I’ve done four past posts featuring him and his unique fiction:

Breaking Boundaries ~ Microfiction

Microfiction ~ Revisited

MicroFiction Reprise :-)

And, we had a mini-interview in this post—My Friend ~ Micro-Fiction Writer & Prison Librarian

And, here’s an article about Microfiction, itself.

Those links to Johnpaul’s posts will lead you to some of his stories

So, let’s have a proper interview with this man.

~~~

Would you tell us a little bit about yourself, Johnpaul?

Let’s see I have low self-esteem and suffer from depression and anxiety. I definitly think those two aspects are me. On paper, I am Johnpaul Mahofski, age 43. I’ve been in the taxable workforce since I was 15. Prior to that, I carried newspapers and cleaned offices and, along the way, I’ve earned a B.S. Education, emphasis Mathematics; and, an M.L.I.S. Masters, Library and Information Science.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I read a decent amount, work my day job, fish, and attend church regularly. Oh! And, hang out in virtual worlds

And, the title of our mini-interview revealed that day job as prison librarian—an exemplary service you perform

So, Johnpaul, when did you start writing?

I always enjoyed writing; but, I’d say it was in the early nineties that I penned a column for the college newspaper called Pope’s Thoughts. Little did I know these stories were what I now call microfiction. After that, I earned a bit in journalism (on the side) up until about five years ago—sports reporting, feature writing, local meetings. I did this mostly for Pittsburgh newspapers.

Can you explain your motivations for being a microfictioneer?

I think the best I can say is that short columns and stories are what feels the best. I don’t know about novels for me I love to just punch, hard and quick.

Where do you get your ideas?

I’m a people watcher.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

No, but I do experience laziness.

Are there any particular authors who’ve influenced you?

Charles Dickens, David Barry, David Sedaris, Lydia Davis, Eminem, Biggie, Tupac, Nicholas Sparks—not in that order.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

I think when you self publish the only challenge is yourself.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your book or getting it published that you would change?

I feel like I would have done more stories

How do you promote your work?

I haven’t marketed this work yet. (see above—low self-esteem, anxiety, depression {Also see my punctuation.})

Would you say your stories are mostly based on your people-watching or is it also imagination?

Yes, both play hard in these stories.

Do you have any favorite stories in this collection?

No, every little story is important to me.

What project are you working on now?

I’m working on a professional project, an anthology; plus, I’m doing a lot of research about Saints, hoping to write microfiction about them.

What’s been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? Or, what’s been the best compliment?

As a journalist I was often criticized and told “We’ll call you”. It hurt a lot. The best compliment is being interviewed on this blog.

Well, Johnpaul, your best compliment is a compliment for me :-)

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read, visit your libraries, and write with your eyes closed once a week.

:-)

Thanks, so muchJohnpaul, for an interview that’s let my readers peek into a corner of the mind of a microfiction author…

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