Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: virtual world

The Connected Author ~ Writing and The Internet


Yesterday I was out of the loop and I’m just barely back in.

My ISP failed and when I finally got back on line my best friend wished me a Net-Happy Day :-)

While I was disconnected, I was able to learn some stark truths:

Life is not the same for this writer when he can’t use the Internet.

Connection at a distance is a huge part of my writing life.

Not just literary research for my next book but all my current promotion activities for the novel I published last year are dependent on digital connection.

Sure, if the Internet itself were to disappear, I would still write but let’s just say I prefer this ability to shatter space and time

Using the Top Tags in the side-bar by clicking on Second Life and Book Island will tune you in to where I spend over 40 hours a week engaged in events crucial to my philosophy of book promotion—Making Friends.

And, it should be noted, I’m not talking about the “friends” most folks have on Facebook or other social networks.

My friends are really interested in things I’m interested in.

Some of my friends and I share our writing, with deep discussions.

My friends are not all necessarily my readers but they just might be co-promoters of my work since, if I’m a good friend, my friends may introduce me to their friends

I know, this is exactly what folks do off the Internet when they want to spread ideas, but there are differences.

If I went outside my apartment and made more friends, I could do many of the activities I do on Book Island, but

I doubt I could do them with people from 10 other countries and I doubt I could do them in multiple venues with equal ease—library, coffee shop, retreat, houseboat, beach, and more.

Folks who haven’t inhabited a virtual world rarely understand how much value and feeling can be shared.

But, even if you never intend to visit Second Life or Book Island, if you’ve ever read a good story, you’ve been in a virtual world………

Virtual Live TV & A Place Called Book Island


I work about 30 hours a week on Book Island as their Events Manager.

We have public readings by authors, friendly chats for readers and writers, and some awesome poetry sessions.

There are 60 shops on the Island, too—authors, editors, publishers, book designers, and artists.

Sure it’s in the virtual world Second Life but that doesn’t make the experiences less valid—they can be very real

I’ve written here before about the value of a virtual life—try these 19 posts about Book Island :-)

Well, this past Tuesday, I had the opportunity to appear on Metaverse TV and talk about what we do on Book Island every week—9 events—as well as promote the special dances and other fun things we’re doing for our 5th Anniversary Celebration.

The following video will give you a taste of virtual reality but we are all just sitting in a TV studio and not running down a street or dancing or out walking on a shopping spree :-)

By the way, my name in Second Life is Sandor Zabelin…


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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

The Story of Chaos ~ New Writing Experience


I love introducing people to friends I have who are insanely creative!

Even better to introduce you to the insane character of an insanely creative writer!!

Rebekah Webb is the creative writer.

On Book Island, in the virtual world Second Life, she’s Hakeber Haber.

Her insane character, Car Johnson, reads stories from his life at the Writers’ Block Cafe on Tuesdays and Thursdays

Rebekah and Car did a duel-interview for us back in August and Car once interviewed a crayon box.

Well, all three personae have a new venture: The Story of Chaos ~ An insane challenge where you call the shots!

Here’s their explanation:

“The Story of Chaos is a challenge, where you help write the story. Part choose your own adventure, part tale, you will have your chance at the end to decide what happens next. The challenge will be mine, to try and make the story as serious as possible, while encouraging you to post the most ridiculous choices you can think of. Have the character attacked by an alien or discover his long lost twin in the form of a talking flea.

“Just make sure that you only post what happens immediately next.”

Sound fun?

Believe me Rebekah and Car and Hakeber are up for any challenge you care to throw their way :-)

Oh! I can’t leave the post till I plug Car’s book—The Life and Times of Car Johnson–only $1.99 for the e-book.
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

The Gifts of Social Networking


My social networking isn’t done on FaceBook, Twitter, or Google Plus (though I do still publish links to my blog posts on G+). It’s not even done in the “real world”. I go to a place called Book Island and I make friends—if your social contacts aren’t friends, you run the risk of cheating them or yourself

Back in October, Joel Friedlander asked me to do a guest post about how I network and promote my book in Second Life.

Case In Point: A number of months ago, I was at one of the Literary Happy Hours we have on Book Island and a woman named Eithne McBride showed up.

She’s the Managing Editor of SecondNighters Magazine and was going to do a story about a major event the Island was hosting.

The article was great and time passed on

A couple weeks ago, I was hanging out with a few friends in front of another friend’s new shop on Book Island (there are 60 shops for authors, editors, publishers, and artists).

Eithne was there and, in the course of chatting, I offered her a free copy of one of my books.

We also talked about some ad-space I wanted to secure in her magazine to promote our Happy Hours ( more on that in December :-)

Not long after that she told me she wanted to do an article about how I was using the virtual world to promote my book; and, I gave her that link up there to the guest post on Joel Friedlander’s blog as copy to use for her article—Alexander M Zoltai ~ Author (once you click that link, go to page 147…).

As I was writing this post, I considered changing the title to The Anatomy of Gifting In Social Networking—I had no expectations when I gave Eithne my book; it just happened to be about a topic that came up in conversation. I expected no gift in return

There’s another side to this new friend of mine. She began an endeavor called The Pink Bag Project and she has a blog about it called Magnanimous Beauty. It helps the homeless and you can help her help them on her Administrative Needs Wish List

When I met her, when we became friends, when we traded gifts, when I was doing business with her, at first, I had no knowledge of her work for the homeless. All I had were my numerous experiences over 47 years of trying to hold down jobs and failing myself into homelessness………

Also, to find out lots more about how Eithne helps these fellow humans (and, to discover her “real life” first name) check out the return of her blog at ChicagoNowNeighboring The Neighborless
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Author Interview ~ Jane Watson


[ Admin Note: Since this was written, Jane has moved on from Second Life and is creating new Worlds in Kitely]

When I first met Jane Watson, her name was Arton Tripsa. Well It still is and she’s still Jane Watson but Arton isn’t a pen name. It’s her virtual name on Book Island in Second Life.

Jane is the author and Arton is the manager of the Island. As an author, I greatly admire her. As a manager, she’s my boss.

I first spoke about my work as Events Manager in the post, A Virtual World, A Writer’s Mind, And Serious Business That’s Always Fun!, but since then, I’ve made more time for Book Island and Arton has become more than a boss—she’s a confidant And Jane? She’s still the author who’s book I carry wherever I go

[ Since we did this interview, Jane has returned for another interview :-) ]

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So, Arton, who is Jane Watson?

I am an Australian writer. My first novel, Hindustan Contessa, was published by Picador in 2002.

Jane, why do you write?

To find out, to access an inner world, to explore the possibilities of an image (because I think am a very visual writer), to process my experience.

When did you start writing?

When I was nine I wrote a ten page novel. It was called, very originally, Kidnapped.

So, this first book of yours

My first novel was published after Picador discovered it at a writers’ conference and gave me a contract on the basis of the first one hundred pages. Then I had to finish it in the next eleven months :-)

That kind of deadline makes me want to ask about your “writing habits”.

I try and write every day. Sometimes I don’t succeed but even when I am not writing I am thinking. I often use reading to inspire me. The writing life is an isolated life. It’s quite hard to arrange contact with other writers  to talk about writing at a time that does not interrupt your own writing schedule. For this purpose, I go into Second Life. It has become part of my writing habit.

Jane, please tell us about the book.

Hindustan Contessa is a novel set in Australia and India which follows the journey of an Australian couple, as they travel in an Indian car to meet the husband’s Indian grandmother for the first time, in his family’s ancestral village. The novel’s title comes from a particular car once manufactured in India, the Hindustan Contessa, which the couple travels in,  and which seemed to me a fitting image of a dual culture. This car, once made by Hero motors of India, was an imitation of a modern Western style car with a dash of Indian style. It attempted, I felt, to have a foot in both cultures. I wanted it to symbolise the cultural identity crisis that the main characters face.

What’s the source of your inspiration?

I find inspiration everywhere. Someone once said that a writer’s own life experience is like the piece of grit in an oyster, which the writer’s art and skill then transforms into a completely different and wonderful pearl. Then again, on a more sombre note, I have also heard it said that writing a novel is like driving a car without the headlights on!

Very apt analogy, Jane :-)

What’s your take on the literary community in Second Life?

Very similar actually to the real life one, because, after all, behind every avatar is a real person. I do feel that folks in Second Life are kinder and more generous in the way they receive a piece of work at reading/critique events. The other real difference of course is that the literary community in SL is more cosmopolitan and can provide many cultural perspectives.

What is the Writer’s Studio?

The Writer’s Studio is my office/shop on Book Island. On the lower level, information about my writing is displayed and, on the second, I can often be found writing at my desk. Folks often drop by there to chat with me and everyone is welcome.

[The link for “Book Island”, at the top of this post, will help you get to Arton’s Writer’s Studio]

Jane, what’s next?

I am finishing my second novel at the moment. It is about literary theft.

Thank you, ever so much, for taking time from your writing to give us some insight into your life :-)

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Synopsis of Hindustan Contessa

An Australian couple, Milan and Tillie, travel to India. Kidnapped by robbers and incarcerated in a cave, Tillie tells their story. Captured by her sexual jealousy and suspicions of Milan, Tillie nevertheless endeavours to help him come to terms with his own childhood spent with grandparents who held him hostage while his parents travelled overseas. Family intrigue and crises of identity follow the couple as they travel across India. Against the colourful backdrop of India and Venice, this novel tells a story of loss and rediscovered identity amidst magic, obsessions, goddesses and misconceptions in a land where reality and illusion seem to merge. Not just a tale of India but a story of people who try to exist in the global melting pot and for everyone who lives on the edge.

Jane’s WebSite
Jane’s Novel at Amazon US
At Amazon UK
At Booktopia
At Biblio
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com