Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Second Life

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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Author Interview ~ Ali Noel Vyain – Part Two

Image courtesy of Ali Noel Vyain

This is my 1,000th post and I’m glad we can celebrate the accomplishment of writing over 350,000 words with a second  interview with an author and publisher friend—someone I was always glad to have at events on Book Island in Second Life and have recently been hanging out with at the Cafe on Writers’ Island.

I interviewed her two years ago and I’m glad she’s agreed to another interview.


So good to have you back, Ali! Let’s start with what your current plans are for the publishing house known as The Moon Publishing?

I’m fazing out the publishing house—no more publishing other people’s books and focus more on my books and the monthly magazine. I no longer do book printing because too many people complained and I couldn’t fix every little thing they didn’t like. Basically, I’ve had readers try to tell me how to run my publishing house and tell me I should run it like the traditional publishers do. I will not do that. Printing is expensive and a waste of time anymore. We have digital and I do realize that many people aren’t making the switch for various reasons. However, I don’t think many people will continue to buy the printed books. It will mainly be the people who like vinyl records. Plus any printed books I sell do cost much more than their digital counterparts. I know many readers do not know that fact.

What are your plans for the monthly magazine known as The Moon?

I’ve found a money-free way to distribute it as an ebook. I no longer offer any subscriptions and there is a free issue anyone can download. I’m trying to keep the little cultural icon alive and see what new interest will be generated. So far, there still isn’t much, but that may change in a year or so.

Where are your books and magazines available?

I upload everything to Smashwords first, then once the books are approved for the premium catalogue, Smashwords distributes to everyone else, except for Amazon. Last I heard, Smashwords doesn’t distribute to Amazon right away because there is not bulk upload. I know that can change soon and that’s fine as long as I don’t have to deal directly with Amazon. The magazine doesn’t go to all the stores because I don’t assign ISBNs to it. It has an ISSN and it seems silly to me to add a book number to it. That means Apple and Kobo won’t get the magazine.

Why don’t you upload the books directly to Amazon?

It’s too much work and I have to babysit the sales on Amazon. Oftentimes, books don’t sell on Amazon as well as I need them to. My books don’t tend to sell on Amazon at all. I do get sales from Apple, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and various other stores. I don’t want to give up sales from other stores. Amazon also wants to sell both the ebook and printed books together. That’s unrealistic when many people just prefer one book format over another. Besides, then they won’t allow me to sell the ebooks at a rate which will allow me to pay royalties to the writers or even allow me to earn any money. Amazon has really made it hard to sell books and earn even a small pittance. My other complaint is that Amazon will not allow me to give anything away for free. I still think one free promo book and one free magazine are the best way to generate interest and more sales down the road.

What do you think of publishing now, Ali?

I think publishing has become a war zone. I don’t feel like taking sides or joining in with the fighting at all. I’d rather back off and be self published. I don’t think many of the readers know and understand what is happening. I doubt they can see the whole picture as the publishers tend to be invisible to them. Readers usually only see the writers. I know writers who don’t even know what’s going on either. It’s sad, but I think we all need to keep up with what is currently happening as it can affect us all in different ways. I am also tired that readers and writers think they can tell me how to run my own my publishing house. If they feel that way, then I think they should run their own publishing houses and leave me alone.

Since you and I, along with the Owner of Writers’ Island, have been writing together at Storium, would you share your experience with it?

Storium has been fun. I haven’t played any role playing games before, so it’s a whole new experience for me. I find it interesting that we’ve lost three players and those of us who are left are still at it and we also all met in Second Life. It is fun to be creative with other people and see how we can mesh our characters and their backgrounds together. Sometimes I can’t wait to see what you and Jane will post next.

What are you currently working on, Ali?

I’m in the middle of trying to write and release at least a hundred books into the world. I have three which need to be edited. One has been giving me problems, but I think with the next pass, it should be much better. The next book released will probably be The Colonies of Earth (Venus): In Men’s Shadows, followed by The Guardian Series: The Formation of the Guardians, and The Violet Series: The Water Nymph.

What kinds of promotional work do you do for your writing?

I have a new website,, which is devoted to my writing and a little about me. I don’t use much in the way of social media and certainly not everyday. I have been creating character pinups using The Sims as starters. Then I have to finish them in Gimp. I upload the graphics to the Character Pinups page on my site and also to Pinterest. When I release new books, I will add the covers and link to Smashwords, where the ebooks will be available. I may announce the book release on my various social media sites as well.

I have also written blog articles, but I don’t do it all the time. Typically, I don’t post anything unless I have something to write about. Then I schedule the posts to appear on Mondays, as Monday is the moon’s day. Right now there is a series of blog posts coming out for September. I may continue to write more that will also cover October.

Do you have a writing ritual?

I don’t have a set time to do anything. Currently I have an open schedule, which allows me to set up any appointments I may need. I try to get myself to work on the writing in some form or at least do something promotional. After several days, though, I find I need to just let myself play and goof off or else I will get too stressed. I do have a tendency to work too much and then play too much. I’m still trying to find my balance.

Unfortunately, this could change as I probably should have a part time job to help cover basic expenses. I do plan on growing as much variety of food as I can so I can keep my food bill down as low as possible. I’m still learning how to do that and it will probably have to be indoors in a small horizontal space. It’s not impossible and it’s certainly doable.

And, finally, Ali, why do you write?

It’s like breathing. When I don’t write, I feel like something important is missing from my life. Writing, or any creative work, helps to keep me calm. I find that I don’t want to scream or yell or lose my temper when I keep up with the writing. My life is frustrating enough with the way things currently are and I’m tired of getting blamed for things I have no control over.

Thank you, Ali, so much, for taking the time for another interview :-)

O.K., folks, time to ask Ali a question or two in the Comments…
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The Happiest Writer/Illustrator I Know

Let’s start with an image of this woman:

I used to work as an events manager for a place that catered to writers in the virtual world, Second Life. That’s where I met Debbie.

I certainly still spend time in Second Life, with writers, but I haven’t seen this woman, virtually, for quite some time

Debbie Ridpath Ohi

I learned of her creativity the first time I met her—she created objects in Second Life, like a pile of books that was really a chair and an artist’s easel you could use

I do hope you’ll check out every link about her in this post but I want to import some words she uses to create a “picture” of herself:


jeff | writing | blathering | long soak in a hot bath | my nieces and nephews | my sister’s books | San Francisco sourdough | canoe trips | board gaming | office supply stores | bookmarks | filking | science fiction/fantasy | my iPad | songwriting | reading in the tub | Star Trek:The Original Series | sushi | food movies | sappy happy endings | spicy teas like cinnamon and licorice | my harp | chocolate | Nahanni trip | Urban Tapestry | creative people


wasted time | leaf blowers | whiners | squirrels | telemarketers | cigarette smoke | people who send big e-mail attachments without asking first | swimsuit shopping | spam | tv commercials in movie theatres | cellphone slaves | squeaky shoes | being stuck in a line without anything to read

Most of the people in Second Life choose creative aliases for their avatars.

I knew Debbie as Inkygirl, which is also her Blog For Children’s/YA Book Writers And Illustrators, which includes [her] Writer’s and Illustrator’s Guide To Twitter, interviews, [her] MicroBookReviews [scroll down a bit for this one], book reviews in comic formatwriting/publishing industry surveysWriting & Illustrating a Picture Book For Simon & Schuster BFYR post series [scroll down a bit for that one, too] and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see [her] Inkygirl archives, Category archives, and comics for writers [again, scroll down] (including Will Write For Chocolate). [She] tweet[s] about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows.

I’ll do one more thing to encourage you to visit and explore her site. Here’s one of her Will Write for Chocolate comics:

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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!”
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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!

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