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What revolution?


Fabric swatches on canvas with makeshift cardboard frames
Fabric swatches on canvas

The Netflix film, 365 Days, is not the worst film ever made. That distinction belongs to the threequel, The Next 365 Days. And this is according to journos who got paid to write nice things about it. The films are based on the series of novels by Polish author, Blanka Lipińska.

According to the Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon, stories like 365 Days serve an important purpose. They allow us to watch as the inversion of our values play out in real world scenarios. And as we watch the scenes play out, our tablet or TV screens shield us from the consequences.

Sketchbook doodle from Charlie Esposito

Now, I think that as we broadcast disapproval of fan-fiction hot sex, we are avoiding the real hot topics. We might tell ourselves that we are staying neutral on those issues. But there is no political fence, not really.

Based on my experiences on social media over the past year, these are some questions I feel like asking people I am meeting for the first time:

Are you all in on a multicultural society? Can same-sex couples get married if they want? Can people with wombs please get a prescription filled without a pharmacist asking them to pee on a stick so their religious rules are not broken?

Dr. Emily Porter finds that medical professionals doing their job is going to be very frustrating

Neutrality is a nice word that means we are scared of saying what we think in case someone screams in our faces. Being human is already a lot of work, which is why we elect public officials to help us out. Yet, we keep electing representatives who won’t let us get on with living. They create legislation on matters that should remain private; and drag their feet on issues that are in the public’s interest. This is precisely the reason why more of us are speaking out.

With all of that in the background, I now ask you to consider the artist’s work during times of struggle. One of the best things about being an artist is that we usually end up collaborating to start a movement. The movement is whatever we choose to call it. We make noise as a collective, and people pay attention to our message.

Medusa Marie is on Twitter. Follow her for more fabulous visual art.

Unfortunately, the creative space is most vulnerable to interference. Because we artists are living in a society filled with outrage, our worst enemy becomes what we think others want from us. Fear stifles our productivity. But if we don’t make things, we cannot refine our process and become better artists.

Artists are people with feelings, and this makes us easy targets. And people use their own reactions to our relatively benign creations as an excuse to avoid the draft.

If you are a hobbyist critic, should you pack up and leave? Not so fast. There is still time to get some real work done.

Find balance in everything you do. drawing of stones balanced on top of each other.
“Find balance in everything you do” Artwork by MHBB via Twitter

Here are some people who will benefit from your support: Women, children, minority ethnic groups, refugees, the homeless, the starving, the physically challenged, the mentally unwell, recovering addicts and the orphaned. Dial up your voice to the usual strength. Vote for representatives who can help. Keep writing letters to them until they mobilise resources to alleviate pain and suffering.

Fairies are real and help us achieve our dreams as we sleep. AI assisted digital painting by Simply Veronica.
Fairies are real and assist us in our dreams – artwork by Simply Veronica

The revolution calls you to the draft. There is no need to burn your old scripts. Find a new cause, make some edits, and read them again. You might need a change of costume. Maybe a haircut. Or perhaps a 15-minute session on IG Live will get the ball rolling. The energy expenditure will leave you exhausted and restless. But soon enough, someone will hear you. And then, they will listen.

Good luck out there.

❤️

Postscript: Big shout outs to my lovely friends, Charlie Esposito, Medusa Marie, MHBB, and Simply Veronica. Thank you very much for responding to that last-minute request. Keep inspiring everyone with your activism and hard work.

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art creative writing fiction women writing

The Lotus (Short film): Meet Australian filmmaker Bernadette Walsh

The Lotus: Short film by Bernadette Walsh

Thank you for viewing The Lotus, a short film by Australian filmmaker, Bernadette Walsh. It has been a while since the last short film Friday. When I caught up with Bernadette in Twitter Spaces the other night, I knew her activism would resonate well with you. Read on as she opens a window into her project.

The Lotus: Behind the scenes with director Bernadette Walsh

My name is Bernadette Walsh and I wrote and directed the short film, The Lotus. The film tells the mythical story of a brother and sister who were rescued from the darkest of places, and given a future with hope. I wrote the story in 2019, because I was inspired by the work of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, an NGO based in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Bernadette Walsh and her sister, Kate Walsh

The Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation was founded by Australian philanthropist Michael Brosowski in 2004, when he saw the need to rescue children from exploitation by labour and sex traffickers. Michael founded the NGO to provide these children with the care and support they would need to help rebuild their lives. In 2020, Blue Dragon rescued the 1,000th survivor of human trafficking. Today Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation is still working with over 10,000 children and youth from around Vietnam.

Transforming the lives of children who were trafficked is hard work. And I knew that I wanted to support the NGO in any way I could. Working together with Blue Dragon, I raised funds through the Australian crowdfunding platform, Pozible, to make my film project a reality. My family and friends also chipped in to offer support.

The Lotus was brought to life by sand animation artist, Kseniya Simonova who rose to prominence in 2009, after winning Ukraine’s Got Talent 2009. Ten years later, she participated in The Champion on America’s got Talent. And on Britain’s Got Talent, she was the only act to receive two Golden Buzzers. Kseniya is an extraordinary artist who brings to life moving stories through incredible sand art. Having previously seen her work online, she immediately came to mind as the person who could breathe life into the story.

Sand art by Kseniya Simonova

The other wonderful, creative and talented people working on The Lotus included fine artist Kate Walsh, who created the storyboard visuals for Kseniya. The original music was created by Australian film composer, Robert John Sedky. And as the narrator, my 11-year-old son, Michael, was happy to offer his voice.

I enjoy testing new narrative styles in storytelling. This is why my next film project, Navigating a Pandemic will be testing more boundaries. For this project, I will be using artificial intelligent software to animate pandemic-related data into a 3D pigmented sculpture. I am fortunate to have the support of a high-performance computer company, which is supplying me with the computing power I need to render the project.

Kseniya Simonova meeting with King Jigme of Bhutan

Next stop? Raising funds to produce the project, and I will do that via the sale of non-fungible tokens. For me, token sales to multiple buyers works in the same way as traditional fundraising platforms. Supporters will be funding the project with the proceeds of their crypto investments. In the meantime, I am working to focus my fundraising activities within the community of crypto investors. The possibilities are both exciting and daunting. Wish me luck.

The Lotus has received the following awards:

  • Special Jury Animation Award at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles (Oct 2019)
  • Finalist at the Rome Independent Prisma Awards (March 2020)
  • Award of Merit at Best Shorts Festival in California (Apr 2020)
  • Finalist Mescalito Biopic Fes (Nov 2020)
  • Finalist JellyFEST Season 6 (Feb 2021)
  • Humanitarian Award at the Best Shorts Competition 2020 (2020)

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Curtis Richardson: Rihanna’s multi-platinum music producer chats with Charles Myambo


Happy Saturday, everyone. In this post, you will meet the multiplatinum music producer Curtis Richardson, who has written songs with Jennifer Lopez, produced music for Rihanna, and worked with David Guetta, Tiësto and John Legend. He is speaking with the fabulous celebrity interviewer, Charles Myambo.

How was it working with Jennifer Lopez?

Well, I first started working with Jennifer Lopez before she was mainstream. She came at a time where the world was itching for a breakout Latina star. At the time, its safe to say that Jennifer Lopez was a pioneer, not only in the US, but also around the world. To date, she is one of the biggest stars worldwide, but it was not always this way. Jennifer was extremely hardworking and determined when I first started working with her. She had a day job and needed to balance that with recording music. Combine all that with the pressure of being a Latina entertainer during a time where not many like her were global superstars, and you can see how Jennifer Lopez was a pioneer. To this day, she is one of my favourite artists to work with. 

Curtis Richardson

What are your thoughts on musicians becoming huge without the help of a record label?

You have to understand that record labels are like machines when it comes to artist promotion. The top tier record labels are exceptional at branding artists and giving them exposure to a global audience. If your question is whether artists can be filthy rich without record labels, then the answer is definitely yes. ChanceThaRapper for instance, is independent and extremely well-off. However, if your question is whether an artist can become as big as Nicki Minaj or Drake without a record label, then I have to say no. Not impossible but it is extremely difficult.

The room on Clubhouse

What tough-love advice would you have for aspiring musicians today?

It’s not easy. The music industry is very much cutthroat. You can gain or lose relevance so quickly. The volatility of music fans is simply astonishing and without careful planning and strategy, almost any artist can start becoming irrelevent very quickly. Obviously, you have your Beyoncé, Snoop Dogg, and JLo, who are household names globally and they are unlikely to ever become irrelevant. However, that’s part of the issue.

Fight about it

We have young artists who try and mimic exactly what these huge stars are doing while failing to understand that it took years for those superstars to be able to produce one album without promoting it on Instagram and it becomes a hit. Today’s artists need to understand that the music game costs money, requires time and effort, demands creativity, and also social media platforms such as TikTok and Facebook to promote upcoming tracks. Artists also have to be willing to adapt to trend changes in order to become relevant and perhaps even one day become the trendsetters.

If you don’t feel like quitting, your dream isn’t big enough

Do you feel like a celebrity?

No not really. Never feel too comfortable. You can always achieve more. Pride is the enemy of progress.

What was the most difficult part about the pandemic for you?

I love travelling, and I couldn’t travel as much as I really wanted.

It’s not that deep, baby

What is one major thing still left on your checkbox?

I’d love to travel more. I’d like to explore more of the world than I have already. Gain more new perspectives through learning about different cultures, music, ethnicities and heritage. 

👀

Thank you for reading this interview, which was provided by Charles Myambo. Follow him on Instagram. Charles is an actuarial scientist by day. And by night, he is founder of the celebrity networking community, Team Smooth. Since 2019, he has worked with hundreds of celebrities from all over the world. Team Smooth has a vision of presenting the community outreach of celebrities and some of the world’s most notable names and brands. Their mission is to spark positive change in the world by bringing awareness to worthy causes and communities.

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A gift of birth (W I P)

Floral montage with fabric swatches on canvas

A work in progress. Still drafting the story, even though I am about six months behind in writing. The best part is that this delay has allowed me to rethink the story I am trying to tell, and build more rounded characters.

In mid-January, I drafted two scenes to show faith intersecting science and politics. This is an important theme in the story because the politics are influenced by a religious doctrine. Blending them will be interesting, because I do not plan to make anything obvious. In this untitled scene, the science is explained in a conversation between two government officials.

Fabric swatches and acrylic on canvas

“That was their colossal cock up,” shouted the health minister. The minister was not inside his study, so Sebastian was talking to an empty desk this afternoon. The health minister was speaking from a different room, and he was shouting even though his voice was transmitted over voice activated smart mics in his home.

“Sir,” replied Sebastian, “Treasury does not have jurisdiction over private medical cases.”

“You can revoke their funding,” was the minister’s surly response.

“True, but taking away funding from medical research into fertility treatment would be tantamount to a human rights violation,” said a smirking Sebastian. He was rather pleased with himself. “And may I remind you that overseas investors are plugging large amounts of cash into the research and development?”

“Money, money, money,” said the health minister. “She is suing me for lack of oversight. Me, personally. The research shows that uterine cells never generate fetal tissues even when exposed to a massive cocktail of hormones.”

“It was an act of God,” said Sebastian. He was laughing silently because he knew the statement would annoy his colleague. He stopped laughing and raised an eyebrow because he wondered if the health minister could see his face on a monitor somewhere.

Collage elements, fabric swatches and acrylic on canvas

“An outdated notion,” was the swift correction from the health minister’s voice.

Sebastian rolled his eyes, slightly relieved that his mocking behaviour had not been noticed.

He said, “She is with the Congregation, so those notions are alive and well. And support, across the world, has been universally positive. Also, remember that this is a giant leap forward for fertility research. The value of stock portfolios of biotech investors have skyrocketed. Absolutely everyone loves her.”

“Fine,” replied the health minister. “She is raising her daughter, and enjoying sainthood, but why is she suing me … and the government for the near fatal heart attack she suffered minutes after giving birth? I feel sorry that she had to go through that, but the same technology reprinted her blood vessels that were damaged. She is alive because of us and is suing us? Yet, everyone believes her actions are justified. Especially after that fiction!”

“Creative non-fiction, sir,” corrected Sebastian. He glanced over on his screen to review the article published in the National Gazette, in which the woman recounted the experience of giving birth to a girl less than a year after male-to-female gender reassignment surgery. Bloating, swelling and discomfort were normal after these procedures. She and her doctors did not know she was pregnant and there were no sperm or egg donors. Her doctors guessed that because of the hormone protocol she received, some of the cells in her ovaries had changed to reproductive cells. After exhaustive tests, they concluded that the most likely explanation was that one of the cells moved to her uterus and started dividing spontaneously. The hormone protocol facilitated the pregnancy, and the fetus was delivered at the six month mark.

Sebastian looked at the highlighted text of an email which was opened in another window on his screen. His cousin, Gala of Vale, was the first person he contacted when the health minister asked him for a meeting. She had replied to him with a voice message. Reading the transcription, he saw that it had everything he needed.

“Technically,” Sebsastian continued, “she cloned herself but this not a flaw in the medicine. She is reproducing, which is, biologically, what her body is supposed to do. Ask your team to focus on that argument and petition the tribunal to force a settlement on those grounds. But while you do that, tread softly. Her story is about family, faith, and the belief in miracles. Something that is lost in our world. People like hoping for things. We shouldn’t try to take it away from them.”

Paper collage with 3D elements

“All right,” replied the health minister with a sigh. “And what can I do?”

“Hire her as a special health advocate,” answered Sebastian.

“Even though she’s suing me,” retorted the health minister.

“Yes. Exactly,” replied Sebastian. He glanced over at the rest of the notes from his cousin. “And for the settlement negotiations, you personally offer money and resources only if she agrees to set up a foundation. Ask the Congregation to join the negotiations as an appropriate third party. As health minister, you will appoint an advisory board to represent the Congregation and the biotech industry. Instead of fighting her at a tribunal, we should help her to build a platform and set an agenda for the next three decades.”

“All right, Sebs. I am going to get legal on the phone, and I want another meeting with all of you before dinnertime today.”

“Yes, minister. We will see each other then.”

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A loving me thing: 8 steps to an Instagram turnaround

Hello everyone. This is a followup to my post last year when I realised why IG was sending me followers though I did barely anything. As opposed to the year before. At that time, I reached 300 followers even as I posted infrequently, and used zero hashtags. Shortly after publishing that post, I reached 500 followers.

I have since that point started using hashtags. I also hid reels and archived posts to create a tight, focused grid. At some point, I will take down most of my current grid so I can keep the focus on installations of my artwork.

My Instagram account is attached to Clubhouse (and Spotify Greenroom). Quite a few of my early follows were coming from there because I participated in room discussions. I was also asking people in Twitter Spaces to join me on Clubhouse, and they found me on Instagram as well.

A few weeks ago, I was discussing the above results with a friend, and I came to understand that by posting to my Story daily, I was creating space for Instagram to place ads between accounts. People are used to tapping on the right side of their screens to see new stories, and that gives 5-second ads a place to breathe. I believe that my steady gain of followers daily had something to do with that. In other words, Story is where active accounts thrive, and you raise the likelihood of IG recommending your accounts to people interested in your niche.

By the end of 2021, (CH/Twitter) collaborations with some larger accounts were also boosting my account. Accounts with massive followings were talking about our collabs on Clubhouse and they reposted my stories (about them) to their stories. I have also been mentioned in their IG Live broadcasts. Remember that I am using IG for business and these were my goals all along.

Step by step, let’s review the method I used, with an updated set of 8 enhancements. These are also low effort and consistently applied, with focus on the Story feature.

  1. Share the work of other artists
    First, do for others. Instead of scrolling, think about whether you would like to share a post in your Story. I recommend that you share posts to Story if (a) the account supports you or (b) if the account is somewhat popular. In the latter case, a story mention (using the mention tag) ensures that you stand out in their notifications.
  2. Keep it up in messages
    Socialise via text and voice messages. The more time you spend sharing accounts in a meaningful way, the more you find yourself receiving kind notes from creators in your messages. And sooner or later, you will feel like you’re talking to your friends. Follow up by explaining why you like their work. Be interested in their methods or techniques, and ask them what other projects they are working on.
  3. Follow and share accounts that look like yours
    If an account is doing work that you want to do and it is not too big (over 100K followers), you should try to show that you have something in common. Show your followers that your ideas have been brought to light by another creator. Use the text or drawing feature in notes to make it obvious why you like the post you’re sharing. Be adventurous and you will find support.
  4. Pay attention to accounts with great content and few comments
    When a new post bubbles into view, look for comments first. Then, if this account is familiar to you and you know they will respond, leave a comment. Comments are precious, so offer them generously and try to keep them light and positive.
  5. Check stories and comments
    Quite a few popular creators schedule their posts and no matter how amazing your comment is, they (or their team) might never see it. One way to make sure that an account is active is to look at their Story. Active accounts may be more willing to engage with yours, and this is what you want.
  6. FL!RT
    This is the one time when I will advocate making the first approach. On the account of a popular creative (artist/writer) in your niche, look at comments on their most recent post. Did the post author reply to comments? If not, among the replies, look for accounts that engage with their followers. Come back to the post and reply to their comment. Then, heart some posts on their account, and wait.
  7. Mute
    There are accounts that produce amazing work, but a swath of posts down your timeline two days in a row is no bueno. Mute the account so you can see other posts. Or, if you feel so-so about a single post, hide the post so Instagram doesn’t keep showing more of what you don’t want. You can always see other posts from the account later.
  8. Unfollow
    What’s it like when you notice a live broadcast or a post that seems out of left field? It pays to do regular checks of accounts that you are following. Use the “most/least interacted with” feature in Instagram to check for accounts that are far outside your interests. First and foremost, focus your attention on accounts actively supporting you. From there, branch out with confidence, and bring new friends with similar interests into your fold.

Thank you for reading this post. I imagine you might realise that a low effort method of using social media takes … effort. Overnight, you could have great results, but that’s because you were consistent in the past. None of these methods require you to spend a whole day scrolling. Based on what I have shared so far, create a plan that fits comfortably with your needs and objectives. Never give up on your dreams, the saying goes, but you should be prepared to work for them. Best of luck.

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All Hallows’ Chic

Sylva and Tee Nightmare

Recently collected is the spectacular nonfungible token from Keith Allen Phillips on Hic et Nunc. The blurb reads, “Sylva and Tee – Nightmare. If you wake up to this at the end of your bed, do you run or do you stay? This is Sylva Hattington with Tee Marie modeling some of Sylva’s amazing creations.”

Will be checking my stats in about six hours to find out exactly how many eyeballs were clapped on this image, all 7MB of it. If you thought your eyes were going to fall out, wait until you see the rest of Keith’s collection. (Don’t look.)

And if you want to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I was drawn to the portraits because of the headdresses. I love headdresses and finding out these were designed by a woman made this token a must-have. Maybe it’s because I’m such an introvert and I need a shell in which to retreat.

Tea Time by Gimme

Then, collected last Sunday, was Tea Time by Thai artist GIMME because I have a thing for skulls carved out of crystals. The artist was featured in an earlier post on 3D NFT artists. I thought that nothing could make them scream, but they freaked out when I told them I was going to collect this token.

Now, if you want a nightmare story for Halloween, it should be about my dysfunctional love life. Without making a confession of any sort, I’ll give you the rundown as if it were the treatment for a work of fiction.

The story goes, a woman who looks disturbingly young for her age has run away from her gilded cage where she is being courted by dozens and dozens of extremely handsome suitors. As night draws near, she stumbles upon a tower at the edge of her world. The steward of the tower is a monk who has lived there, alone, for nearly thirty years. Seeing an opportunity to have all of his knowledge recorded, he seduces the woman with a promise to share his ultimate secret.

In exchange, she must work with him to write down every miracle he has ever performed. The woman agrees because she is in love. And as she studies his alchemy, she suspects that his insights are pedantic filler. His proclaimed power over the material world could be the stuff of fantasy. In order to save herself, she embarks on a search for her true soulmate. Does he exist, and will she find him in time?

Have a safe and blessed Halloween.

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Greetings from the Metaverse + Twitter (Spaces) update

Happy Monday, creators.

Photo by Anna Shvets

Does anyone remember that time last year, when I was crying into my phone about Twitter? Well, I took my own advice and it seems to have worked. I was miserable because I felt I had to change myself to fit into what I thought would gain traction. However, with this new account, I started out with the intention of doing what I wanted to do.

A musician I met on Saturday had this to say this morning.

Being a person with broad interests and unquenchable curiosity might have helped. After deciding to focus on non fungible tokens as a subject, I had no idea that all of my favourite topics would collide under that niche.

Unlike my previous post, in which I showed how you can get Instagram’s smart tech to work for you, Twitter is tricky. I can only give you generic advice with the caveat that everything depends on your specific subject matter. As you read, remember that I am using Twitter to promote sales of my creative projects, including fiction writing and fine art.

Social audio, specifically Twitter Spaces, allows me to hear from machine learning specialists, Buddhist and Hindu philosophers, philanthropists, musicians, authors, poets, programmers, game developers, actors, singers, tech venture capitalists, marketers, attorneys, architects, publicists, and blockchain specialists.

My work has been to use Twitter Spaces to create one large thought bubble, wherein everyone discusses a topic from the perspective of their areas of expertise. Reaching for a cognitively rich experience has made my time on Twitter stimulating instead of exhausting.

An example of a good bio tweet

In the list below, I will share some general ideas for working within your own niche with the help of Twitter Spaces. The most important principle to remember when marketing or promoting your work on any platform is simply, “Do what works, not what you like to do.”

  1. Spend time on Twitter. Can’t tell you how many times I have had people tell me they had no time but wanted to know the one tweet they could post so they could gain 10,000 fans overnight.
  2. Curate your feed. Do not scroll. Stop and engage with tweets for about ten minutes. Like it, share it, or toss it. Use the “Not interested in this tweet” option and add specific reasons. This helps the smart tech to learn more about you.
  3. Tweet a bio tweet like the one in Sreeran’s example above. Thereafter, when you enter a space, say your account name and your personal tagline and the smart tech will index your account under the correct topics of interest.
  4. Join Twitter Spaces and listen in as a priority, even if invited to speak.
  5. Use your time on a speaker panel to give a voice to your engagement. You may want to say that you have commented, liked, or retweeted a speaker’s tweet.
  6. Support other accounts more than you tweet about yourself. We use the word “shill” to mean “self promote”. Shill for others because as a rule, do for others and they will do for you. If you receive no support from an account, focus on other accounts until you find your group.
  7. Take your time and work consistently. Results will multiply over time, because your diligent effort will earn you trust within your network.
  8. Keep the hashtags to a minimum (2 – 4 maximum) until you meet your ideal threshold of engagement in terms of tweets, retweets, comments and likes. Thereafter, use them rarely.
  9. Avoid negativity. Rephrase your words positively (for the smart tech). Do not follow accounts that are antagonistic towards your principles.
  10. If you must be outspoken, discuss and debate in spaces where your ideas will be heard, even if others disagree. Same rules go for all audio spaces. Keep rants super short.
  11. Quote tweet. Own the conversation by bringing it to your timeline. Bring it up later in spaces and ask for feedback, shares or other engagement on your tweet.
  12. Tag accounts and mention them in tweets with requests for answers. This raises your engagement by putting you on their timeline. It is also a great way to start a conversation.
  13. Consciously disengage. When you disagree in a comment, etc., the person with whom you disagree gets a boost by the algorithm because the smart tech will read your engagement as POSITIVE interest.
  14. Avoid engaging with inactive accounts. Twitter’s smart tech loves fresh content, so keep within a view/comment/share threshold of about 17 hours.
  15. Follow accounts that you genuinely like and want to support. As a rule, I avoid following popular accounts and add them to lists instead.
  16. Any support you receive must be reciprocated. And focus on supporting accounts that give you support in return.
  17. Analyse, rinse and repeat. If you start gaining support from your activities, try them again and see what happens. If a thing is working, keep doing it, regardless of whatever “advice” you receive, including mine.

Remember to try many things. Do what works and not what you like to do (for example, staying off Twitter or only tweeting about yourself). After joining Twitter with a fresh new account on June 19, 2021, my account now has 3107 followers today, September 27, 2021. The final push to 3000 happened last night (Sunday) when the count was at 2992. Thankfully, when I asked for some help getting over the line, my friends were there to offer their support. And that is how it should be. That’s all for now, and thank you for reading. See you in the metaverse.

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Instagram’s smart tech is a loving me thing

It is Saturday afternoon and as I write this, I am waiting for a meeting to resume. Unfortunately, two expatriates seated at the far corner of the conference room are talking loudly about assorted bedroom activities. I gather that the man is gay and his friend is a married straight woman. I suppose they are comparing notes?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

It was impossible to hear myself think, so I am standing near an open window to let the sound of traffic drown out their voices. And while I am here, I thought it would be good idea to update you with my Instagram goings on.

At the moment, I’m hardly posting on Instagram. But for the past eight days, every 23 hours to the hour, I see that I have 25 new followers. This exact number, at exactly the same time, tells me that this is the work of a machine. 

Remember that last year, Instagram was burning my posts. And now, after two months on the platform, the smart tech is working for me. I was advised in a Clubhouse room, a couple of months ago, that Instagram was doing a big reset. I was also advised to take advantage because this was a once-in-a-lifetime event. The problem is that I am an introvert and going live on video will never happen. Because of that, I needed a modified approach.

Photo by Tim Gouw

Here is what happened after two months and 18 reels, 3 (15-second) stories daily, no lingerie selfies, and zero live posts. I am at 472 followers. My account is growing every day, so I will continue on this path. (If only Twitter were as malleable).

Metrics 

  1. This is a business account. 
  2. I do not pay for ads which means that all of my engagement is organic. 
  3. All of the new followers brought over from Instagram’s smart tech are 85% artists in the NFT community, 5% follower boosting accounts and 10% crypto investors. 
  4. Quite a number of my other followers are from Clubhouse. The apps share data with each other. Instagram will automatically suggest my account to anyone following me over there and vice versa.
Photo by Fiona Art

Posts and engagement  

  1. After my first five posts, I started posting reels in the form of animated videos showcasing my artwork. 
  2. Avoid captions. Only a few of my reels have them. Instead, I tell a story in a slideshow or MP4 video. 
  3. Nearly zero hashtags on posts or reels. Instagram treats hashtags like spam. 
  4. Edit all videos or images (to create a slideshow) in the IG native editor using filters.
  5. Add music and carefully choose clips within the song to match the story. Music choice is the number one compliment I have received so far. People seem to have a positive emotional reaction my artwork because of the music. 
  6. Repost my own reels/posts to stories. 
  7. Hashtags only in stories – limited to one per story and this is always NFT related. 
  8. Follow back as many accounts as possible. Check occasionally to make sure that all followed accounts are active. 
  9. Restrict spammy, fake looking accounts and never follow sales people (crypto investors). 
  10. Reply to all comments and respond to private messages. Delete messages I don’t want to answer. Accounts look spammy if they don’t talk to each other. 
  11. Mute accounts that post more than 5 reels in one hour. These kinds of accounts rarely engage with my posts. Then I look spammy to the smart tech. 
  12. Visit new followers’ profiles and engage with posts. 
  13. Engage with my timeline. Hide, mute, like or share posts to friends.
  14. Join live broadcasts even for a few minutes. Send comments and reactions while there. This signals that I am a real person.
  15. Engage with my followers’ stories by sending reactions and comments. Gauge feedback to these and mute accounts that are not responsive. 
  16. Remix posts from active followers and share them to my stories. Add music, fun stickers, gifs, scribbles, text and mentions.
  17. When a follower adds the above remix in their stories, immediately share to my stories.
  18. Use voice memos or calls where possible. 
Photo by Steve Johnson

If you are interested in testing this approach, try it on your Instagram account. I must point out that I am niche specific. I am an artist in the NFT community. I focus on graphic design and I’m interested in paintings from visual artists. And though I never tell Instagram what my specific niches are by using captions or hashtags, the smart tech introduced me to blockchain specialists, abstract painters and 3D/animation artists in the NFT space. Then, bear in mind that I spend no more than 30 minutes a day creating at least three stories. I also respond to all of my messages.

No selfies, no bikinis, no bare butts. Only plenty of good music, interesting stickers, and artwork to inspire me. Best of luck.

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art creative writing science fiction technology writing

Weaving Silk

Sculpting with light on the Silk web app

Happy Thursday, everyone. I am having an epiphany after using AI software to sculpt with light. It was an interesting conversation, with much guesswork on both our parts, but I think we understand each other. I am using the Silk web app for a second day in a row. If you want to try from your desktop browser, it takes a lot of tapping around, but eventually, you will get used to it.

Layered

Back to my epiphany. I wonder if anyone reading this is familiar with the hypothesis that we are living in a simulation? By familiar, I don’t meant listening to Elon Musk worshippers who say, “Our world is a simulation”. I mean have you looked at the math and tried to weave a hypothesis on your own?

I have some thoughts about this. The math says that in a complete simulation, the processor speed would intervene in the operations of the simulation. Put differently, if there is no level five of a video game, a genius player will spool for eternity at the end screen of level four. At some point, this player will resist every attempt to gaslight him about what’s going on.

Sainted

Some scientists have taken plant-based substances in order to access the cheat codes and escape the program. They seem not clever enough to acknowledge that they lack the correct plugins to decode what they are experiencing. Or perhaps they use the math as an excuse to go on trips and escape the truth, which is that a genius rigged this game and coded them into it.

Many trips later, they are left with a pile of printouts on their office floors, and no-one knows what they are talking about.

Blended

PS: Thank you for viewing my video installation. If you are using social media to share your work, and your reach is low, do not take it personally. Yesterday, the results of my first attempt at light sculpting went viral on Instagram. I was getting audio messages to please post more. Weirdly, the same presentation had only a few views on Twitter because the smart tech did not show it to anyone. The same thing happened this morning, with this version, so I will have to rethink the “get seen on Twitter” theory that is being sold to digital artists. Glad this is happening now and not when I have something major to release. Have a great Thursday.

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art artificial intelligence creative writing entrepreneurs fiction opinion People science fiction technology women writing

A reel turnaround

Hello everyone. I am sending happy weekend vibes to you. As you might guess from the title, I’m back on Instagram. Does anyone remember last year how I spent three days on Instagram and then spent another four trying to deactivate my account because they kept burning hashtags and deleting my posts?

On Wednesday, I downloaded the app again and created a fresh new business account. My experience is much more pleasant because I’m not using captions or hashtags. Instead, my method for increasing my engagement has been to make demands and threats. This has worked so far.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I get asked daily why I am not on Instagram, so I created this business account to connect with professionals I meet through social audio.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to make friends with someone who works with Google to train business owners to use Instagram for marketing. Thus, I have a strong incentive to not toss my phone out the window.

Instagram’s smart tech is impressive, something Marvin Stone would have approved of. I’ve only been on there for three days, not scrolling or searching for anything, and it showed me my favourite dish: charcoal grilled eel on sticky rice. The person who posted the image also has his headquarters at Starbucks and like me, he has the same drink every time he goes there. I had better behave or that thing is going to publish all of my secrets.

So in one of the scenes for my upcoming novel, I wrote about a social media application that shows only one post at a time. One of the characters, Mimi Hollingsbrook, is preparing for her work day. Because she works in the Royal Household as Baby Pudding’s nanny, she has agreed to keep a low profile on social media. Against her better judgement, she decides to look at her feed, and notices something in a caption from a famous influencer. She has a meltdown after reading it. Within a few minutes, her response, which is full of expletives, gains 5 million likes. This prompts her to permanently archive her account. In a later scene, Mimi is given a taste of power when a quarter percenter asks her to decide about that influencer’s future.

When writing notes about the social media applications I would be using in the story, I thought about reactions from readers. I was convinced that this feature would never be adopted in the real world. However, at the moment, the trend is to be super minimalist on Instagram, with as few posts as possible. At this rate, if I don’t hurry up and finish drafting, I will be publishing historical fiction.

In further news, I have been sucked into the vortex and I am now managing my social audio apps on two phones. One for Clubhouse, Discord and Twitter, and the other one for Greenroom and Instagram. That’s because one of the apps keeps crashing if I’m in audio spaces on two others. (Don’t ask). Juggling two phones might look cool on TV but I’m an introvert, so it does not feel right.

Why, oh why couldn’t I have found a marketing firm that was good at their job? I could’ve been friendlessly redrafting my new book right now.

Please send prayers. Thank you.

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creative writing fiction technology women writing

Oh, Gloria …

Where seconds before, castanets were rapping their clat-ta-tat-tat, a deafening silence fell on the host of avatars in the room. Friendly banter was interrupted, a question went unanswered, and earphones were unplugged from devices to broadcast the newest tirade over speakers. Someone in Brussels unwrapped a lunch sandwich and listened in.

Gloria was in the room. This morning, she presented with glossy grey locks, which billowed in a nonexistent breeze. Her flawless, peaches-and-cream skin was buffed to a high shine. But that was not why everyone was squinting at their screens. They were accustomed to seeing a dark-haired vixen in a slice of underwear, sat with her knees exactly fifty centimetres apart. (Someone attempted the pose at home.) Today, everything, including her shoulders and most of her neck, was covered.

A stream of pings followed. “Everyone, get in here. Gloria is wearing clothes.”

Master had stopped the castanets mid-clat to croak at the host of avatars, “Reverence! Gloria is having a bad day.”

“And today’s crisis is…?” thought everyone. And they waited to find out. In New York, a spoonful of breakfast cereal was returned to a bowl. “What… exactly?”

A summary was sent in a backchannel. It read, “Dental emergency at the dentist, who has Wi-Fi, so Gloria can be here with us shortly before receiving treatment for the dental emergency, and then stay here with us, in fact, during the entire procedure, so we can be there for her.”

“Surely,” went one dictated response, “the care and feeding of her children comma who materialised out of thin air only last week comma should be the focus of concern question mark.”

After that update, volume buttons were pushed all the way down. But unable to see this, Master squeaked again. “Praise Gloria. Genuflect, you peasant scum!” No-one heard him. The rebellion had started.

Three hours later, Master punished everyone by giving Gloria his proxy. “Host the room for us, will you? For your teeth, dear.” A dubious honour it was, to be the doyen of disenchantment, dueña to disconnected souls.

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about me art creative writing

Schlüsselmeister Grau

Keymaster Grey

These posters are still in a work in progress but I wanted to dedicate the drafts to the German business owner who has left two advertisements for his keymaster business on my feedback form. That’s Schlüsselmeister in German.

I spent the weekend designing posters and video pins while also being professionally petty on social media. And one thought I had was about WordPress throttling my posts, so that I must display my artwork on a Pinterest board. The difference in engagement on both platforms should become a meme because it is so vast. Wow WordPress.

Fast on site

Though I am busy over there, I wanted to post some artwork here for you. I also wanted to say hello to the German business owner before pinning the final versions.

The keymaster’s website is well-presented, but I changed some of the identifying information in the poster. Sir, please be good enough to leave your real email on that form so I can send you the PDFs? You can print them out on your office printer and frame them.

It feels weird not posting weird art on here. Perhaps that is a Church versus State thing. Or, business art versus hobby art, though which one is which, I don’t quite know.

For everyone else, have a great Monday. Allen anderen einen schönen Montag.

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creative writing fashion fiction health opinion women writing

Be good to yourself

Retro style green and brown poster which says be good to yourself
Be good to yourself

I am still broadening my horizons and yesterday, my list came to the rescue again, thank goodness. The project in question started with an idea: “Make a super short film with one actor, in a single frame, with minimal monologue.”

The first attempt at production was binned due to technical issues. There was a recast but the second attempt got scrambled during two separate uploads to a cloud server. C’est la guerre.

Have a weekend of tranquility

Once upon a time, I would point my iPad camera at something, press record, and an interesting short film would pop out. Now that I am trying to show you something, I find myself living a scene from The Truman Show.

What confirmed this to me was that this evening, a UK-based filmmaker offered me producer credits on his two upcoming films. Have you seen The Truman Show? This is that scene in the bank.

Enjoy a beverage and a great book,
hopefully, one you’ve written


Presently, an actor is filming a different mini micro super short story that I wrote. If we both like it, I will share it here.

They say that if you start nothing, there will be nothing. However, I have proven, over the past three months, that even with strong will and a positive attitude, this outcome can happen anyway.

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about me art creative writing fashion women writing

Everyone wants the cherry on top but it takes work to get there

Commitment Cupcake

Does anyone remember who said, “Follow your joy”? I think this quote is popular because everyone can imagine feeling happy at the final stage of a project. Recently, I told Caring for Art that my nightmares have become work product. I was not exaggerating. Public speakers will never tell you that you must hard work to find the thing to which you can happily commit. If they told you to face reality, nobody would pay them $50,000 to talk about themselves for 30 minutes.

And because I know that the truth is hard to hear, I feel confident that no-one will copy my secret formula, which I am going to share in this post. This is my recipe for staying committed and focused on the way to finding joy. First read it, then scroll down for a taste test. 

🧁 Commitment Cupcake 🧁

Ingredients
Absolutely everything real about you right now. 

Directions 

  1. Write down every idea you have but stay loosely attached.
  2. Seek advice from qualified experts. 
  3. Listen to advice and evaluate for quality.  
  4. Search for useful ideas in negative feedback.
  5. Be assertive but never argue, no matter what.
  6. Lose fixation on irrelevant details.
  7. Shut down anyone who attempts to devalue you. 
  8. Transfer your idea from a “hard” medium to a “soft” one. 
  9. Follow up on each new idea (see item 1).  
  10. Table, pin, or expunge unworkable ideas. 
  11. Shred your lists.  
  12. Start over. 
  13. Keep at it. 

The taste testCovers only
Item 8 became especially important this week when my plans came to a full stop. And though I was feeling isolated and trapped, I decided to shred everything and start over.  

Contessa Magazine: Cover 2 in Icelandic

One of many ideas I had written down was “launch a magazine”. However, I threw it out because there are billions of writers, millions of magazines, and only a handful of subscribers.

From that, I imagined what it would be like for a young writer to dream of launching a magazine only to hit roadblock after roadblock. How would this writer solve these problems? The answers to that question became the treatment for a writing project. My preferred medium for presenting that story is a “hard” one, so I pinned it for later.

The transfer to a “soft” medium was a frictionless fusion of my interests. After careful research, I did some math: photography + fashion + world cultures + health + making stuff up + graphic design = a concept that I really like.

That is to say, I will only produce the covers. I’ve posted two test copies for you and I hope you like them. 

Contessa Magazine: Cover 1 in English
(Spoiled it, so don’t look too closely)

Categories
Ancient Past creative writing Earth fiction women writing

ˌɪmɔːˈtælɪti dʌŋ mɑːsk

Summary
ˈhɜːkjʊliːz kliːnz ði ɔːˈʤi(ː)ən ˈsteɪblz baɪ fɜːst ˈgɛtɪŋ ˈfɑːməz frɒm ɔːl ˈəʊvə griːs tuː klɪər aʊt ðə kaʊ dʌŋˈɑːftə ˈwɜːkɪŋ ɒn ə fjuː ˈprɒdʌkt aɪˈdɪəz wɪð tuː ˈmɑːkɪtɪŋ kənˈsʌltəntshiː ɪˈvɛnʧəli dɪˈsaɪdz tuː bɜːn daʊn ðə ˈsteɪblz

After the last of the farmers’ carts had left, Heracles summoned Themis to thank her. She had told him what to say to convince every farmer in Greece to use immortal bovine dung to improve soil quality and guarantee bountiful yields, even in times of drought. The best part? The dung was free, as long as they scooped it out of the stables themselves.

Kisshoutennyo, one of Lakshmi’s cousins, was visiting with Themis. She appeared when Heracles said he still had a decade’s worth of dung to clear out. She offered a solution. “Let’s do a night cream called, ‘Kissho Immortality Dung Mask.’”

“Who the $#!+ will use face cream made of $#!+?” asked a bewildered Heracles.

“Everyone,” replied Kisshoutennyo, not quite understanding what the problem was. “Ten minutes of this is going to snatch your face.”

“Are you seeing my office, though?” whined Heracles.

“Relax,” said Kisshoutennyo, “because I will help. But give me a second … Be right back.”

While they waited, Themis suggested mixing extra virgin olive oil (lamp fuel) and immortal bovine colostrum into the dung. These ingredients would prevent the cream from drying out. Two days later, the churning was turning into a new labour, and Heracles was not happy. They were well past the deadline and they had no packaging ready.

“I should have thought of packaging first,” Themis said. Then she got an idea. “Do you realise that we can use this mixture to make soap? No packaging necessary.”

“How?” asked Heracles.

“We have colostrum, which has water; olive oil, which is fat; and dung has lots of salt.”

Heracles’ eyes glazed over. He was, after all, just a guy with muscles who did stuff.

“We need a cauldron and some fire,” continued Themis.

Pointing to an urn containing lamp fuel, Heracles suggested, “Like, why don’t we use that and burn all the $#!+ in here?”

“That works better,” agreed Themis. By now, the noxious gasses in the stables were making her loopy. In spite of this, she put the cows out to pasture, and Heracles set the stables ablaze.

And as they chuckled to themselves, Kisshoutennyo appeared.

“Oooh, you’re done already?” she exclaimed. “You’re so hardworking.”

Themis glowered at her friend, flaring her nostrils. This prompted Heracles to stand between them.