All Change

NaNoWriMo 2017

Okay, there’s no avoiding the inevitable. With this being the last day of October, NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow. I have my official site blurb all edited and uploaded, there’s a book cover made and we are ready to roll.

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Starting tomorrow I’ll be doing some changes to this site, all in line with the proposed changes you’ll see on the Patreon. Don’t panic: if you’re a Patron, you’ll have an opportunity (starting on the 6th) to have direct input on how you’d like things to move forward. There is other stuff too, but a girl has to hold some surprises. They’ll also be a reasonably regular flow of content here apart from talking about my novel, and writing about (talking about) my novel.

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I’m also encouraging people to come and cheer me on: I’ll be posting this year exclusively using the @InternetofWords account, in the vain hope it might get some new followers. Feel free to come along and join me.

This journey will be the best one yet.

I Love You

30 THANK YOUS 2

I’ve been looking a way of thanking those people who have helped me get to this stage in my life: ultimately, my best work is with words. Therefore, I’ve spent the last year giving back to friends and RL people who I have a real and tangible bond. These gifts have taken several forms: hand -decorated letters, real-life statements of intent and poetry for those people without whom I would simply be less than I am. Then, I realised there are a bunch of people, many who have followed me for years, that I’ve never truly thanked for their contribution to my existence.

That’s when the #30ThankYous Project was born.

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Every day, starting on November 1st, someone will be gifted a Haiku. I’m very intentionally not going to release a list of recipients: this is not about anything other than surprise and genuine gratefulness. It’s not being done to make a point or impress an audience. These are 30 people without whom I would simply not be what I am. All of them give their words and time freely and without expectation of thanks too, and that is what matters the most to me. Everybody will get an image and a hand-penned poem, just for them.

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Someone, I can absolutely guarantee, will be annoyed they never made it on the list. This understanding was almost enough to derail the entire project before it began until I grasped that this project is an approximate metaphor for Social media itself.  Whatever I do, regardless of the intent, will eventually upset someone. I accept this and still feel the task is worth completing. In fact, looking back on what I’ve written, this is some of my best haiku in action. When they’re all done, I’ll archive them all on Flickr for posterity, so if people want a physical copy they can print off a high-definition version.

The first one will be published 9am GMT on Wednesday morning, on my @AlternativeChat Twitter feed. I’ll see you there.

 

Beautiful Dreamer

autumn schedule

Okay, next week is November, and I need to get my arse in gear. There’s a plan in place for Haiku to cover the entire month (more on that on Monday) and I’m going to announce on that day the subject matter for the month’s worth of Micropoetry in one hit. This allows me to plan ahead, write everything and schedule which will give me MORE TIME FOR WRITING NANOWRIMO.

NaNoWriMo 2017

I’m positively vibrating with excitement over this year’s NaNo: the best idea I’ve ever had, already planned and plotted, confident of not only coming in under time but over word count in a decent form to edit. Next month I’ll also be making Xmas gifts for friends and writing seasonal poetry for Patreons. If it does all go as scheduled I’ll be as pleased as staggered: never having planned something this extensively before, there is no idea of how well (or otherwise) it will all go. I am, I will say, cautiously optimistic.

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There’s also a plan to have more Patrons by the end of November than currently exist at the start: to do that there needs to be compelling and exciting content. I’m hoping to get your help in creating more of that: watch this space for how you can influence how Patreon goes forward and WIN FREE STUFF in the process.

Time to get this show on the road.

Book of the Month: Seed

 

Seed


In my head, you and I are lovers…

There is dust on the picture frame: light dusting of decay, inescapable march of time unhindered. Her smile however remains incandescent, eyes dancing in the pose, all smiles that are about to explode into laughter. This moment was the best, before things began to sour. She didn’t realise the truth, and because of that there was no judgement or condemnation. Instead, this body was light, brilliant and willing to be captured.

Eventually, everything comes to an end. Secondary school biology taught the theory, but only when his father died did the young man grasp the inescapable march of time. There is no way to bring people back: however, you can remember them. The faded photograph of him and dad next to hers is stark contrast: no colour, just memories of that past now long gone. However, this woman would always be bright, spirited: modern photographic techniques means the digital picture is the same vibrancy regardless of light and days.

For her, it was more than that. She hadn’t left him. Somewhere in Central London, this woman remained.

He would find her, and get her back.


The coffee shop’s central heating does nothing to take the edge of a cold, winter day, and Lucy Brandon’s headache isn’t shifting. Rummaging in her handbag for paracetamol, there is too much else on her mind. The elderly couple by the window are about to move, and that’s the seat that’s really needed so that the view down to the High Court is clear and unobstructed. She’d promised Alice to be here for as long as she needed after the verdict, and that was what was going to happen.

The couple have left their copy of the Daily Mail on the table: Lucy’s nausea reappears from a hurried breakfast. On front page is a picture of the man who Alice has stood up in court opposite for the last two days: Andrew Gresham. Serial internet pest, online stalker, professional intimidator. Sitting down, the contents of her opened handbag spill onto the table: half-drunk coffee remains on the table by the toilets, and she is a mess.

A lovely woman brings the cup over and offers to help tidy up, but Lucy doesn’t need support, simply a chance to regroup and swallow painkillers. If this is the acuteness of anxiety felt just by association, how must Alice be right now? This case has become consumingly high profile: countless cameramen and film crews setting up down the road are testament to the interest this judgement has on a wider stage. After all, everybody’s had a problem with somebody like this in their lives. Only now has the Internet allowed pests the opportunity to target countless women with seeming anonymity.

Her mobile lights up, Mum’s picture instant reassurance, and handbag rearrangement can wait.

‘Hello? Are you at Court yet?’

‘Yes I’m here, they’re not done yet.’

‘They said they’d deliver the verdict at 9.30: it’s 9.45 now, have you seen her?’

‘Not yet, there’s a lot of TV outside, I’ll know when someone comes out.’

‘I’m so pleased you decided to move back home Lu, I was worried having you out there on your own with lunatics like this on the prowl.’

‘Mum, he’s not a lunatic, he’s an idiot. He’s an idiot who thought he could get away with hassling a few women online without consequences.’

These aren’t her words, but Alice’s: braver than she could ever be, able to stand up and be counted. If this had been Lucy in the dock she would have folded, crumpled under the pressure of exposure to all these disparate factors. Of the twins, there was undoubtedly a dominant personality.

‘Your sister will appreciate having you at home too. She may not have said as much, but I know what’s the case. Thank you for doing this for us both.’

There’s movement, suddenly: scramble of people by the Court entrance. Lucy’s about to tell her mother to stop talking but time seems to be slowing, oddly detached in her head, as if the drugs taken aren’t paracetamol but some kind of hallucinogenic. At the entrance to the large, stone building there’s some kind of struggle going on: a flash of bright light that could be a camera, pop that might be a car backfiring and then chaos explodes. A man is running towards her, like his life depends on escaping, and her next move is on instinct.

Turning on the phone’s camera his approach is recorded: there’s no acknowledgement from him of the action, blind determination in the sprint away. She can hear her mother desperate for a response, call still active, but instead all that matters is the body of the young woman lying on the pavement of the east London street, blood slowly running off into the gutter.

From this distance, the twin has no idea if it is her sister or not.


This wall is full of newspaper cuttings: not haphazardly placed as some lesser beings might manage but organised, categorised by date and subject. He’s even managed to group by publication: no mean feat considering the number of column inches the gutter press have devoted to his case. Of course, up until yesterday nobody grasped the mistake that had been made, that the Metropolitan police in all their infinite wisdom had arrested the wrong man. He’d left clues, but as yet nobody could work out their meaning.

They’d arrested a patsy, discussed to death on TV talk shows and radio programmes, who looked like he was most likely to offend. It wasn’t unusual: even the police were swayed by the vanities of modern life. If he looks shabby, smells like he hasn’t bathed in a week, is overweight… yeah, he’s a stalker. This man’s misdemeanours, if the quality press were to be believed, were still considerable, but he’d not killed anyone. There’d just been a passing threat or two, nothing truly serious.

He’d been at court to photograph her sister, proving without doubt he could tell the two apart… and then some moron had pulled a gun on one of the other idiot’s victims. Some jealous lover or imbecile trying to protect his own sorry crimes. Running away on instinct, only now did he realise the stupidity of his mistake. Some girl in a coffee shop had captured it on video, an opportunist with a mobile phone, thinking he was the shooter. Sometimes the unexpected was just that, and now nothing could be done to salvage the situation.

The audacity of his ability should be everywhere, TV filled with professional crime. Not this fat, stupid idiot but the calculated, brilliant operator who’d killed dozens across a decade and continued to evade capture. There was clearly no justice in the world.

From the corner of his eye, staring at the topof -therange gaming computer, there’s a flash of momentary recognition.


Her sister is awake.

Lucy’s hand grasps, pale hands the same colour as the hospital linen. Alice is alive, sitting at her side, wide smile all that is needed to allay fear. Then she stands up, coming over to hug, solid reassurance from the woman who wasn’t afraid of anything.

‘You gave us quite a shock, you know. Doctors aren’t sure yet, but they think you might have pneumonia, Mum’s looking at the X rays with them now.’

‘I thought… I thought it was you he shot. I thought it was you.’

‘I was inside the lobby when I heard it, thanking my barrister for the thoroughness of her work. It’s easy to see why you might think that at a distance, we looked a lot alike. I was more worried about you though, I’ll be honest, Mum called 999 as soon as you stopped answering her. She’s been thinking you’ve looked unwell for a while… and she was right. Staff found you passed out on the floor: I came here in the ambulance.’

There is something going on outside the curtain that passes for makeshift privacy wherever it is Lucy is lying, and a nurse appears through the gap, with a look of some irritation.

‘I’m sorry to interrupt you but I have a police inspector who’d like to quickly talk to you about the video you took: would that be okay?’

Something is bothering Lucy, at the back of her brain, itch the same as it was when she’d started watching the man, running away. This was not a random stranger she’d managed to capture on her camera phone, anything but. Memory appears, unprompted: the last week of finals, in the bar in Oxford. The quiet guy in her Economics class who’d managed a First class with Honours even before they knew final dissertation results. The loner whose dad had died a year earlier.

The idiot who couldn’t tell her and her sister apart.

Lucy might not possess Alice’s strength, but she knew when she was being stalked. That night, she’d told him in no uncertain terms: there is nothing you can do to impress me. I don’t care what you do, or how clever or organised you are, I am not interested in a relationship. You will never have me, not now or at any point in the future. Go die in a fire.

The female policeman stands with a picture in her hand, graduation photo she remembers being taken. He’d stared at her the entire ceremony, and she’d gone up to him again at the end and told him again. I’m not interested. Leave me alone.

‘Christian Hardwick. I was at college with him. Did he shoot that woman?’

‘That’s what we need to talk about. We’ve been looking for him for some time now.’

Lucy suddenly feels the desire to vomit.


Christian stares at Lucy’s picture with sadness: eventually, all things must come to an end. He’d wanted to kill her the first time he’d seen her: she would have been number three in his series, but was the only woman who ever saw through the veneer, and as a result gained a reprieve. It is ironic therefore that had he killed her then, she would not have been alive to capture his image on video. Now all the careful planning and organisation has been for nothing. She has ruined his final act, the means by which a brilliant run of terror would have been exposed to the World.

The flames begin to consume her digital picture: dad and he have vanished, ash circulating around the ceiling, black marks on perfectly plastered walls that are beginning to blacken and peel. When it became apparent his crime was no longer his own but had been taken by the most brutal of circumstances, it was time to grasp Lucy’s words to heart. She had been the one who had told him to kill himself, all those years ago, and so he will. Nobody will get closure, pain on his actions all the more brutal and raw.

The biggest casualty, in the end, will not be him but her. Photographic memory, incandescent smile. She will remember what was said, and her guilt will be enough.

By exposing him, Lucy condemned herself.


The food on the hospital tray remains uneaten, and she stares into the middle distance, suddenly aware that all eyes in the ward are upon her. At the nurses’ station the staff are in furious conference: they’re already talking about moving her to a private room, that her health is fragile enough without being affected by something this traumatic. She stopped looking at the communal TV five minutes ago, but the female commentator is still discussing the discovery, morbid fascination in detail.

The upper class assassin, they’re calling him. No indicator until now that he’d murdered countless women and men, no sense of the certifiable individual he’d become. The secret room in his Chelsea flat that had been revealed after he killed himself, and several other people. The fire escapes he’d sealed to make sure nobody got out. The care he’d gone to document every murder… oh and the pictures. On one wall of the room, portraits of his victims, and one of a woman police had yet to formally identify.

Lucy’s image is everywhere.


Communication Breakdown

Origins

Those of you paying attention will know that yesterday was my 51st Birthday. These events are often odd affairs: I can remember my 40th as one of the darkest periods of my life, whilst a decade on I was in Paris, with my family and staying in the fanciest Hotel I’d ever experienced. As human beings, we tend to put a lot of emphasis on these celebrations, and it is only this year that I’ve begun to understand why that is. Those revelations will undoubtedly serve as personal blogging fodder for several days: for now, I wanted to spend some time explaining how a very particular group of people have influenced my journey to this point.

You see, without exception, it is those who take time to be critical whom I respect the most.

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Being positive is, for a writer, often the coward’s way out. I can remember moments when asked to critique other people’s works, I’ve struggled to find anything positive to say. In those cases, the compliment sandwich becomes a difficult meal to make. You know how this works: two positives that act as the bread to a filling where you get to lay bare all the bad stuff. Except sometimes, there is only filling. As a society, we are now pushed to be positive for a lot of very good, noble and totally correct reasons. There are extremely sound foundations for encouraging this behaviour… except when your sandwich is sans filling…

It is a balancing act I’ve always found hard to maintain because I was made a blunt instrument. I’ve had to learn to communicate a balance, and over the years on my three blogs you can, if you take the time, watch this evolution take place. There will be days when I continue to say ‘fuck you’ to various sections of the establishment, and that remains the case because there is the realisation that these people just don’t listen regardless. If your idea of criticism is the passive-aggressive format that at least one of my stalkers took in an attempt to try and make me feel guilty for ostracising him? I can see the difference now. That ploy’s not going to work anymore.

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With everybody else, I can find a working relationship. Language differences do not matter: I can Google translate now if required (and I do when the need is there) and honestly if the willing exists on both sides, everybody wins. The best criticism I get, consistently, is that which simply holds a mirror up to my own failings without fear. It happens far more than most might realise too: the exchanges via Social media, realisations that are highlighted by (often) the most unexpected of people. The number of individuals who still DM me when typos turn up in posts is a true joy and is never going to get old. It isn’t pedantry, but a physical manifestation of care, and I will forever remain grateful.

Being online is becoming less dangerous with each passing day as a result. Those who are annoyed enough to block me from their lives have done their job in teaching the lessons around how sometimes, however hard you try, people will just hate what you are regardless. Occasionally those blocks, however, are for sanity, and the understanding that someone isn’t listening to anyone but themselves. For the people who really matter you just mute and allow them the chance to vent, because they give you that respect in your space to do the exact same thing. Having taken all my Twitter mutes off this morning after a period where I just needed to breathe (metaphorically speaking) there a readiness to engage again.

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Writing isn’t just an exercise in self-satisfaction, despite what some authors might say to the contrary. It is as much about being able to grasp and accept the critical responses of others as it is being able to do the same to them. I am happy to be edited, which was once not the case but only to a point. If I feel someone’s suggesting the removal of a point I feel is crucial to an argument or a narrative, it will stay intact. If someone sees the World in a differing way to me that is absolutely fine (and I can respect this) but not at the expense of my own view or indeed feelings on the matter. If it is obvious someone is not prepared to compromise… then you walk on. With too much else to do, some fights are simply not worth your time.

However, I listen to all the criticism I get. Good and bad, positive and negative, I have found the means to assimilate it all. That is something I know many people just can’t do, but for me, it has become as much of the process as the writing itself. I have been forged in the heat of decades of pitched Internet abuse, attacked by trolls and fools as well as finding some of the best and most brilliant friends a girl could ever ask for in her journey to enlightenment. Sometimes, you take it all because there’s the understanding that on some days, you get nothing at all.

This is what I have become, and it is glorious.

GSME #26 :: End Game

social-media-asides

The Great Social Media Experiment is taking a rest until December. There are a number of reasons: the most significant one remains the most important.selling-yourself

I fully understand the significance of the online sell: so much more than that was the case when all this began, and with honesty in tow. There does have to be a measure of sacrifice to the online gods if you ever want success, and right now that’s in direct conflict with the means at my disposal for creating such content. Every single picture taken and uploaded, each Tweet composed… all have the potential to transform your fortunes.

This outlook also fundamentally alters the perception of people around you. Having people scream you’re a sellout, you only care about yourself whilst totally believing that’s my plan? This year I’ve learnt a lot about where I want to be, as well as those people I’d like to have around me. No longer is there the feeling I need to be nice to those who think they’re owed something. This has stopped being about knowing the right people and, as each day passes, becomes more about understanding myself as a priority.

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When I come to look back on 2017 it will, I’m sure, be with the eyes of someone who finally grasped the truth about the Internet. If all you want to see is stress, anger and idiocy… then that is all there is to be seen. Only when you take the time to dig deep, and truly accept that you are part of the problem, does it become possible to move past so much of the negativity that currently exists. That onus is on you, and you alone. For me, organisation and purpose have become their own rewards.

When I re-start this project in December, Social media will work for me. I don’t need your skanky pretend followers or promises that if I do X then Y will instantly follow. I’m about to create my own means of controlling the ebb and flow of data and interest. Then, if I fail, I can at least say I tried to be an innovator, which matters infinitely more than being part of a flock of foolish, ignorant users. The future, at least for me, is innovating with my rules.

#ThinkTober Week Three

Week Three of the Haiku project ended up as something of an experiment in different canvases. Some worked, others didn’t, but overall I learnt a great deal about organising myself more effectively. Needless to say, all of this is useful information to take going forward in the weeks to come.

One of the most significant changes will be that if I use myself as a canvas, I’ll need to get somebody else to take the pictures. This picture is a bit more blurry than I would like: had I been better organised, a far more professional picture could have been taken. Also, fountain pen ink is by far the best thing I’ve found to write onto my skin. This won’t be the last time that happens, I’ll wager.

Welcome to the green space outside my house: one of the trees here fell down a few years ago and crushed my car. This one, however, appears to be made of sturdier stuff and became my backdrop: I did think about writing on the bark, but am pretty certain that would qualify as vandalism. Card and BluTack had to do instead.

In the interests of full disclosure: this spider was not killed in order to make the Haiku happen. I found a long-dead spider corpse (with an already detached leg) to play a stunt squashed arachnid. I still need to put this unit together, now I come to think of it… ^^

I need to make more use of custom card cutouts in the Christmas set of Haiku I’m planning. Hobby shops probably will be able to provide me with some festive shapes, and I’m smart enough to be able to design some of my own. There’s also the opportunity to print out my words and then place them against plainer backgrounds, which is an approach I’ve not utilised…

This, of all the Haiku I’ve done, is my absolute favourite of all. It required me to have to write a poem only using the Scrabble letters and then finding a way to place them on the board where particular letters had to be duplicated. Okay, that’s not exactly how a game would work either, but you can’t have everything.

Yes, I texted this one in because I was short for time.

I think it works regardless 😀

… and that is Week Three done. That leaves me another 10 days worth of Haiku to complete, which I’ll post as one complete post after the Project is finished. Many thanks for sticking with me thus far, and I look forward to seeing you for the last part of the journey.