Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: mystery

You Decide ~ Which Genre Should Sell Best?


There is a poll for you to take but I have to reveal the results of the poll about polls—“Should I have a new poll every Friday?

“Agree” and “Strongly Agree” totaled 40%.

“Disagree” and “Strongly Disagree” totaled 20%

I took the idea for this first Friday Poll from the “Other” responses…

You can definitely pick more than one :-)

And, “Other” is where you can vote for genres I didn’t happen to include…

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Strange Fantasies


From Psychology Today: “Fantasies are not frivolous. They can be entertaining, distracting, frightening, even arousing, but they also allow for creativity and help us plan for the future.” Strange Fantasies

I’m doing a rare Saturday post because I’ve just released STRANGE FANTASIES—31 Short Tales of Mystery and Wonder.

Yes, the stories are available as individual posts; but, now you can have all 31 Strange Fantasies on your Kindle for 99 cents.

It took me 7 months of Fridays to write them and I worked hard to “bend” the Fantasy Genre.

Just in case you’ve never considered reading “fantasy”, perhaps because you feel it’s too frivolous, here are the root meanings of the word:

early 14c., “illusory appearance,” from Old French fantaisie (14c.) “vision, imagination,” from Latin phantasia, from Greek phantasia “appearance, image, perception, imagination,” from phantazesthai “picture to oneself,” from phantos “visible,” from phainesthai “appear,” in late Greek “to imagine, have visions,” related to phaos, phos “light,” phainein “to show, to bring to light“. Sense of “whimsical notion, illusion” is pre-1400, followed by that of “imagination,” which is first attested 1530s.”

So, read all 31 short fantasies on this blog or get the Kindle book, cheap :-)
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Friday Fantasy ~ Number Thirty-Two


The Befuddled Blogger

I didn’t think fantasy could exist in this world of digital money and vanished dreams…

I couldn’t believe that an unfinished story could just disappear, like a puff of mystical smoke…

I’d been on a roll—about a quarter of the way through the first draft of a story about a mysterious man, “…dark on the outside yet full of light.”…

He was looking for a Monster that gored the young ones and ate their flesh.

He was just about ready to confront the Monster…

And, the story disappeared.

I know how to use a word processor—I had automatic saving set for one minute—I was manually saving at each critical turn of events…

I used the search-for-file function and came up empty—empty at first of desire to write, then empty of the need to worry—try again…

Began a fantasy in the modern world—saved a bit of it—wrote more, saved again—closed the word processor—went looking for the new story and found it—am writing it now—saving again………

Closed the processor, opened the file—here it is…

Damn!

What happened?

Where did the “real” fantasy story go?

Why is this Real fantasy happening?

Perhaps I should just publish this piece on wondering about a 21st Century mystery and let that one about the Monster roam on the endless plain of conjecture…

Copyright, 2014, Alexander M Zoltai
Read More Friday Fantasy

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Friday Fantasy ~ Number Thirty-One


What Is This Mystery?

There is a creature—seemingly ageless—capable of compelling…

It roams all places—through plains and forests, over mountains, and across the seas.

No one knows its name but it visits all peoples.

Its form becomes what is necessary for each individual; though, many folk see it as the same creature.

There are few reliable records of its nature and accounts from individual people can vary upon retelling.

Here are the few fragments we can offer that have any semblance of believability.

My name is August Valli and I am the banker of Rancelle township.

I first met the creature when I was but fifteen years old.

It appeared before me, as best I can recollect, as a friend of mine—Gregor—but not really him…

It changed as I spoke to it, became a darkness, compelled me to follow it down the river bank into the water, where I met a beautiful woman…

August was found in the water and three people did see him talking to the air…

I am Mary of Capilan village and I help the nuns with their duties.

I was startled awake one night last year by a fear that I sensed before me, but only its outline, like a man with no body…

He spoke to me and compelled me to follow him from my home.

I was strangely trusting and found myself, in the morning, in the basement of the church.

Mary was found in the church’s basement—behind a locked door…

My name is not important but you can find it out from anyone in Vauxain City—I was their Chief Magistrate…

The creature is real, as real as rock, but takes on forms to suit its prey.

I met what I thought was my wife returning from shopping but it was far too early—no shops were open and I’d just left her, sleeping in our bed…

She greeted me as usual and compelled me to follow her to the Hill of Remembrance where we had a picnic breakfast…

That gentleman, one Peter Swan, was found in a stupor on the Hill of Remembrance…

I am Bressilia Vougette from Hespas.

I knew the creature for ten years, in three distinct forms—my son, my mother, and a man from a foreign country.

Each appearance seemed completely normal until it suddenly became a void—a felt presence that could not be seen but compelled me to do things I can not mention…

We include Ms. Vougette’s words only because of the fine reputation she holds in her community.

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It may be wondered why the few accounts we present as marginally believable are so short.

This is how we received them—they all seemed willing subjects, eager to tell their tales, yet what you’ve read is all they said—each falling deeply asleep after their last words…

What follows is a statement from a man whose opinion we could well distrust, except for the remarkable fact that each of the people whose brief accounts we have shared have met with this man and vouch for his understanding of their experiences.

He was able to have each of them tell him much more than we here record but he will not release his records.

His statement:

I am a Psychologician—capable of determining the inner states that lead to what commonly is called hallucination.

These people are quite normal and are only displaying what all people experience but never admit to themselves.

What they say in their stories is true.

This is all we can report…

Even though we have barely begun a proper analysis of this phenomenon, and even though we have a statement from a proposed expert who in fact did gain the approval of certain people as trustworthy, and even though we may doubt much about these experiences, we are compelled………

Copyright, 2014, Alexander M Zoltai
Read More Friday Fantasy

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Author Interview ~ Karla Telega, Part Two


I’ve done a number of interviews with yet-to-be-published writers and, back in February, I had great fun talking with Karla Telega. That was before her book, Box of Rocks, was published. I was ecstatic when she asked me to be a beta-reader of the book and I feel a teensy bit like one of the midwives of that novel :-) Now, I get to share her wonderful humor with you in this post-publishing interview:

Karla, what genre do you write?

My first love is humor. My first book is a mystery. Go figure.

Was there a defining moment when you felt that you were an author?

When I finished writing my first six pages, I realized that a) I wanted everyone to read it, and b) I wasn’t finished writing yet. I had no idea then that I would one day be sweating through the Shelfari help menu for two hours, trying to figure out how to add an “author” flag to my avatar.

What was your favorite part about writing a novel?

I was terrified at the prospect of making up a whole world, when I can’t even remember if I changed my underwear this morning. Turns out, that’s what I love most about writing fiction, and yes, I’m wearing clean underwear.

Are there things that you feel you could have done better?

Always. The secure writers are doing shots with honest politicians and unicorns.

What’s in store next?

Next is a humor anthology that I’m editing. My partner and I have compiled a really impressive line-up of cut-ups for the book. I’m so excited to be able to get attention for some deserving and talented humor writers. My Funny Valentine will be coming out the beginning of January, 2012. Meanwhile I’m promoting Box of Rocks, editing my humor book, and working on the next book in the mystery series. Sleeping is not an option.

How do you promote your book?

Here’s where I feel like a newbie right now. I just wrote my first press release, I’m having my first book signing Saturday, and I’m trying to figure out how to look interesting enough so that people will want to interview me. And by “interesting,” I don’t mean I can open a jar of pickles with my toes.

Can you give a short description of Box of Rocks?

At the advice of her psychiatrist, Maggie confronts her fear of failure, small designer dogs, and an uneventful future by embarking on a series of hobbies that will test the limits of good sense. From hunting a fabled Lizard Man, to panning for gold, she and her friend, Cher, tempt the fates with one ill-conceived adventure after another. In a small gold mining town, their paths cross with an archaeology student, a bumbling killer, and a hidden goldmine. It is here they learn that the first step to surviving a mid-life crisis is: don’t die.

Now that you’ve completed a novel, do you feel like you have particular strengths as a writer?

I love writing snappy narrative. I get to use all the comebacks and one-liners that I wish I could think of when I’m talking to someone. I also think I do a good job with character development. The people in my book come alive for me. I think I’m able to convey that pretty well to the reader.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known then?

Actually, I’m glad that I was naïve when I started writing. If I’d known the obstacles involved, I’d probably be stocking shelves at the grocery store right now, instead of sitting up at 3:00 AM dinking around on the computer. Did I mention the no-sleep part? Writing has been a rewarding and therapeutic ride. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Karla, thanks, so much, for gracing us with this return visit!

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For a regular dose of Karla’s unique humor, do visit her Telega Tales Blog :-)
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