Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: review

Some Reviews Feel Better Than Others


There are reviews and there are REVIEWS.

Even amongst all the good ones, there are those that make a deeper impression on the author.

And, there can be reviews that are good for the book but don’t make the author feel good

It’s even possible to like bad reviews, as was indicated in our post, Bad Reviews Are Good ?

As far as Notes from An Alien goes, the post, “Almost” “Reviews”, had me saying about a particular review, from a humble reader who struggles with the English language, that, “No writer could ask for anything more………

Still, a treasured review from a humble reader is different than a treasured review from another author—cherished in different ways.

There are a few reviews from authors on our Review Page but one was just released that has special reverberations

Jane Watson is the Australian author who wrote Hindustan Contessa.

You can read an interview with her here.

She is my best friend

Some may think that last comment “invalidates” a review of my book from Jane.

But Jane knows me, perhaps better than anyone; and, knowing something about the author can infuse a review with special insights.

I’m including her review here but also giving you the link to it at Amazon since it could help sales a bit if you went to the site and rated or commented on Jane’s review :-)

The Thinking Person’s sci-fi

“I loved this book. Notes From An Alien is a deep epic with many voices, which work together to create a concert of meaning, which is both instructive and profound. The book is quite ‘documentary’ in style and structure, yet the writing has intense lyrical moments which draw the reader in.

“The story, told through science fiction, expresses the belief that world peace is possible and can be everlasting. The writer uses a clever technique of telling the story as a history of a distant planet. Soon however the reader comes to realize that this struggle could be the history of Earth itself in the future.

“The plot turns in many remarkable ways but mostly the book seeds in the mind a desire to think about the worlds it describes and how they may have come about. The characters are finely drawn, not the least is the narrator, Sena, whose voice begins the narration in a most intriguing way. She has a poised intimate voice and her method of addressing the reader is arresting:

“‘I am a woman from a star system about twelve light-years from Earth. If you choose to believe me, my story might be considered a history lesson—how to achieve unity and peace—a lesson that Earth desperately needs. If you choose to not believe I’m real, my tale might be considered a science fiction story about how to achieve unity and peace—a lesson that Earth desperately needs… I’ll proceed on the premise that I am real.’

“How can we resist such an invitation to listen?

“She goes on to make the observation:

“‘And, even though I’m speaking to you now in what’s called first-person point of view, most of the story will be told in what writers call third-person omniscient, which means that the other people in this tale won’t be the storytellers. This is what writers on Earth use to give them more freedom of expression—jumping from an overall point of view to very personal views and back out, much like what a camera does in a movie.’

“Which is apt because, for most of the book, I felt the reader was watching the stories unfold in a cinematic fashion, so much so that I am hoping that someone does make this into a movie! This is Dune without spice but with plasma as a far more potent symbol of connection. In fact as I read on I realized that Plasma was one of the most important ‘characters’ in the book. The concept of plasma as a connecting force or medium is fascinating. I found myself on several occasions looking up the index of science-based books in bookshops looking for the word.

“This is the Thinking Person’s sci-fi, which is more speculative in nature than fantastical. The philosophy is about understanding the self as a part of a broader connected universal family. You are left with the conviction that the events it describes could happen and by the end Sena’s words seem like a prophecy and a warning. Go read it!”
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

“Almost” “Reviews” . . .


How short can something be before the “experts” say it’s not a review?

My dictionary gives a first definition as: “A new appraisal or evaluation”.

There is a special page on this blog used for “normal” Reviews of my books.

This post will give three very short “reviews”… and, I’ll add this post to the Review Page :-)

The first “review” arrived as an incident related to me by a prison librarian.

Johnpaul Mahofski placed my book, Notes from An Alien, in his library at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Maryland.

Someone checked it out then, a couple months later, someone else checked it in.

It was in bad shape, the pages and cover wrinkled so badly that Johnpaul decided he had to replace it.

My book had suffered the same treatment that books of the inmates’ most popular genre, Urban Fiction, had suffered—being passed around so much they began to fall apart

The second almost-review happened today.

Once a book is released and promoted on the Web, an author is well-served by having a Google alert set up to see everything being said and done about the book.

Without my interacting with Tamela Quijas, she created a post with images and links to my book, saying: “I’ve fallen head first  into the world of Sci-Fi.  I’ve absolutely LOVED the novels that have passed my desk…The latest Sci-Fi thriller on my reading list is Notes from An Alien…”

Tamela doesn’t give any of her own opinions about my book but the layout of the post is “A new appraisal or evaluation”.

The last review is still short but much sweeter.

My long-time, never-met-in-person friend Catherine Roberts had received a free copy of Notes from an Alien but was struggling with the language, not being a fluent English reader.

She went ahead and purchased the book and sent me this charming email:

“Yesterday I received your book in the mail, I already read most of it last night and today, I was already a bit familiar with it, since you sent me the whole script over the internet, but I find it much more interesting to read from the book …truely exceptionel good writing a bit complex in a few areas for me that is a norm since I never studied true difficult words in english, I look them up…also I think I reconize quite a few of the people that are mentioned in fictiouse names. I love the book Alex, and you are a absolutely great writer as far as I may state.”

No writer could ask for anything more………
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Bad Reviews Are Good ?


“Any press is good press”, is an old promotional maxim that can generate some weird stunts in the media.

Some authors have capitalized on bad press, even manufacturing it; most cringe at the thought.

I found two authors who like bad reviews. Not just tolerate but like them :-)

My book‘s not been around long enough to draw negative reviews though I’m sure they’ll come.

I have had beta readers who couldn’t “get into” the book and a number of nitpicky grammarians but many authors I respect have praised the book.

So

How does an author learn to like bad reviews?

Mike Mullin, author of Ashfall, gives a good account of his first one-star review in, Why Bad Reviews Rock. My take-away was, “Even a bad review means someone cared about the book enough to talk about it in public.”

Mike then goes on to describe some cogent reasons for sharing and linking to those reviews.

There’s also a great comment stream after the post :-)

Mike also points his readers to Jay Lake’s post, [publishing] Reviews.

After Jay links to a bad review and shows his basic optimistic attitude, he says: “…even when a reviewer just says, “Nope, not for me, didn’t like it at all”, that’s ok with me. Because I believe right down to the bedrock of my writer’s soul that the story belongs to the reader. It doesn’t matter what I intended, or thought I executed on the page, or what any other readers thought. If a reviewer (or any reader) doesn’t like the book (or story), that’s their experience of it, and they cannot be wrong. It’s their experience.”

“It’s their experience.”, reminded me about a post I wrote back in January, Rewriting While You Read ~ We All Do It….

Have you or a writer friend gotten “bad” reviews?

Do you think sharing them is helpful?

Have you learned a few writing “lessons” from bad reviews??
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Kids, Libraries, and Book Reviews…


If you’re a writer, do you plan to still be writing in ten years?

If you haven’t yet published, do you think you will within ten years?

If you’re published, do you think your books will still be read in ten years?

I ask because I watched a video with young people giving book reviews and it taught me, as a writer, quite a bit about who might be reading my work in ten (or fewer) years

A woman named Debbie Norton from Texarkana, Texas wrote a grant proposal and won $200 to make a video in her classroom to support collaboration with her library.

Her grant was sponsored by Follett Software Company and her proposal can be viewed on the We Are Teachers site.

As you watch her video, The Living Library, ask yourself when these kids will be reading something you’ve written


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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
Take Part In Our Reader Survey
Follow the “co-author” of Notes from An Alien, Sena Quaren:
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AND, Get A Free Copy of Our Book

Coming Out of The Closet ~ I’m A Poet At Heart


I’ve written what one author friend has called a Documentary Novel which will launch on May 16th.

That will be followed by a Short Story Collection.

I have two other publications that are free to download.

Then there’s my Poetry Book

It was reviewed recently by an author I’ve interviewed on this blog–Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick:

“Don’t be surprised to learn that Alexander is a poet. A fine poet.

“I own his collection from 2005, which he subtitles ‘A Poet’s Struggle With God’.

“This is not poetry in a page, nor in a phrase, or sentence.

“It is poetry within a word.

“Here is my review:

“How many words does it take to say something profound? If you are Alexander M. Zoltai, sometimes only three or four. ‘Is Your Soul in Here?’, is not a question this poet is asking you, the reader. He is asking himself, and listening very hard for an answer. In this book is the silence of rushing waters, the stone-stillness of clouds, the laughter that pain causes, and joy in feeling the search for love in your soul.

“Alexander claims this ‘spiritual struggle [is] an activity best performed alone…’, and he’s listening to hear if God agrees.

“This is a deeply personal writing, dedicated to his daughter–with the simplest expression of pure love that I’ve ever seen in text.

“I wanted to share this, to thank him for those pages. I find them wonderful to know.”
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
Follow the “co-author” of Notes from An Alien, Sena Quaren:
On Facebook
On Twitter
AND, Get A Free Copy of Our Book