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art science fiction TV women writing

Sailor Song (Music video)

Marinda Botha and Frankie Beagle collaborate for “Sailor Song”

Sailor Song
The music video Sailor Song was a collaboration between me and musician Frankie Beagle. Sailor Song includes paper cut-out puppetry, one of the many artforms I like to create work with. Even though I co-produced and directed this music video, it took a whole team to create this project and I am so very proud of that.

Marinda Botha
I have been writing poetry since I was a teenager and I dabbled in photography, too. I studied to become an actress, and moved to London where I lived and worked for 8 years before returning to my home country, South Africa. During my drama studies, I was introduced to puppetry and there, I fell in love with the medium. On both continents, I have worked with numerous genres of puppetry, but my first love is for wooden marionettes. Perhaps, as a result, I have found myself in daily life observing people and catching small gestures they do, the way a person flicks a hand, a transfer weight, tilt a head, fascinating to watch.

For the past 20 years or so, I have also been a voice over artist, working with studios in London, while in the UK, and now from my home studio in South Africa. If I had to condense what I am about, what my art, I would say:

  1. I believe in the power of words, in transporting people to other forms of existence and worlds through the use of that age-old artform: storytelling.
  2. I believe that our lives and identities are shaped by the tales we absorb and tell. It is what we come to believe.
  3. I love movement. In another life I want to be a contemporary dancer, say nothing and just move).
  4. I trained as a mime artist in London and still love that form of performance so very much, but everyone hates a mime, right?
  5. I love animation and the delicacy of that medium.
Marinda talks about her upcoming NFT project

I am new to the NFT community but will be launching numerous projects in the next couple of weeks. My spoken word audio art can be found at Foundation and I will be dropping video poetry soon, too. Please follow me on Twitter for updates.

Website: Marinda Botha
LinkedIn: Marinda Botha
Spoken word poetry NFTs: Foundation App
Twitter: Marinda ETH
Udemy: Marinda Botha voice trainer

Sailor Song full credits:
Vocals and guitar – Frankie Beagle. Backing vocals, keyboard and beats – David Driver. Upright bass – Brendan Ou Tim. Saw and percussion by Frankie Beagle. Recorded at The Cooler. Produced and written by Frankie Beagle.

Video credtis:
Puppetry / Director / Producer – Marinda Botha
Co-Producer / Director – Frances Charlton
Director of Photography / Editor – Karien Mulder
Lighting – Damon Berry and Tammy Reid
Cinematography – Nicole Olwagen, Celeste Muller and Karien Mulder
Continuity & Gaffer – Liani Lombaard
Puppeteers – Franqi van Niekerk & Anri Wessels
Make-up – Yowyn du Plooy
Stills – Mark Straw, Nicole Olwagen and Celeste Muller
Concept design – Marinda Botha and Frankie Beagle

Marinda is a voice actor on the feature film, Alien Rescue

Thank you for viewing this post and getting to know this talented artist, whose voice is featured in studio film productions. How exciting it is to meet someone who is dedicated to their craft. Please follow her on Twitter. I have seen sneak peeks of the poetry videos and I have to say that they were stunning. Marinda has agreed to let me feature her work here in future, so please stay tuned.

In next week’s post, we will meet filmmaker, photographer and diversity activist Brissa Marina Page. Stay good until we meet again.

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art technology women

Magda Gorska: Collage artist

Magda Górska is a friend of mine from Twitter, and she is a collage artist based in Warsaw, Poland. When I found out she was a collagist and Polish, I captured her and brought her to a space I was hosting. She is a celebrated artist who has worked with some of the world’s top brands. I am happy she agreed to showcase her work here on Saint Joan Creative Studio. Allow me to introduce her to you.

Before the thing happened, I had planned a 2020 summer trip from Berlin to Warsaw and Krakow by bus and train. I wanted to experience long distance travel within Europe by road and rail. Still waiting for that to happen, and as I wait, I am able to experience Magda’s artistic vision. Isn’t it great to make friends before you visit a country? I was elated to meet someone who enjoys making collages as much as I do.

Another reason I like Magda so much is that she creates digital artwork on her mobile phone. It is the only hardware she uses for this kind of work. We have spoken before in space (Twitter Spaces) about people being snobby about hardware and software. I personally like scissors, glue and watercolour markers because nothing says “I made this” like a nice cut, paste and stamp project.

Magda’s collages are fascinating because she works to create intellectually stimulating presentations. And because she is so passionate about her art, her collages are loads of fun to look at.

You are probably wondering why people like us make collages. As Magda explains, “This art form arises from the need to question the world and present a thoughtful evaluation of it. I use my collages to show the harmony between nature and people. I ridicule patterns and undermine the current perception of reality.” Agreed. Let’s get ’em girl.

Using digital collages as a medium for storytelling, Magda uses materials that enable her to express herself effectively with original content. She enjoys experimenting with scanning, layering, and combining individual elements so that her creations speak their own unique language.

Magda exhibits in New York, Barcelona, Edinburgh and Warsaw. Her physical collages are showcased in homes all over the world. In life, she is guided by the principle that hedonism is the sweetest form of bondage. She believes in crazy dreaming, and that complaining takes you far away from your goals.

Dream crazy and never give up on your goals. Those are great thoughts, Magda. Thank you for sharing your work with us. And of course, let’s catch up soon in space.

Magda Górska is on social media. Follow her on Twitter as @MagdaGangsta. And on Instagram, she is @magda_americangangsta. You may purchase digital art from her collection on Showtime.

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men news opinion People TV writing

On Leaving (Short film)

On Leaving is a short film by Sagar Kapoor (India)

On Leaving (07:45) is a documentary short by Indian filmmaker, Sagar Kapoor.

Synopsis
Lockdown in India had just started to be lifted, however, due to job loss, increasing COVID19 cases, and other circumstances, the narrator is forced to vacate his rented room. This short film tries to express the feeling of the narrator visiting his room for one last time and how spaces can be personal and important parts of our lives.

Bio
Sagar Kapoor is a filmmaker from India and he grew up in Lucknow, a city known for its delicious cuisine, history, art, and culture. At La Martniere College, he was first introduced to the world of art and photography. Today, he works as a independent filmmaker and illustrator. His documentary films are introspective and empathetic, as they focus on our relationship with the environment. In his free time, he loves to read, write, travel, and cook. 

His upcoming projects are: 
1. Eating clouds, a documentary on a local delicacy from Lucknow.
2. On Death a City; how the uniqueness of a city dies with time and our need for modern infrastructure.

Follow Sagar Kapoor on social media:

Instagram
YouTube
Twitter

How many of you have friends who make films? Well, you have one now. And you will make another filmmaker friend next week. On October 22, 2021, drop by and greet South African poet, voice actor, and performance artist, Marinda Botha. Stay tuned as I feature more filmmakers and creatives over the next few weeks.

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about me creative writing entrepreneurs opinion poem poetry women writing

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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about me art fiction opinion science fiction technology women writing

The Quarter Percent: Effortless book sales with social audio?

Quarter Percent – Trailer

Can you, as an author, achieve effortless book sales using social audio? Please read this post and learn what I have discovered. But get some popcorn first, because there is drama. 

It has been a year since I published my novel, The Quarter Percent, and if someone had told me to relax because that people would ask to buy it, I would have thrown a tantrum. And yet, since joining social audio nearly eight weeks ago, I have had lots of people tell me they bought my novel. First, in my Clubhouse profile, I mentioned writing my second novel. Then after a number of requests to share a buy link for the first one, I added it to my Twitter bio.

The Quarter Percent, novel by Lily Nicole, cover art
Cara de la Reina

I’m not using social audio to sell books, by the way: the book sales are a side effect of staying active on the platforms. By staying active, I do not mean staring at my phone all day. Instead, I make time for active participation in spaces or rooms on a range of subjects.

Last year, I collaborated with several artists and we produced artwork for The Quarter Percent. We focused on key scenes and events. One of the scenes opens in front of a graffiti mural in the foyer of a refurbished warehouse. Tensions in a friendship, the transfer of power, and a generous gift are overseen by a portrait of King Cordial’s late wife, Queen Cara. The scene, mural, and cover art are called Cara de la Reina or ‘face of the queen’. To write that scene, I did a lot of research into warehouses and architectural design because the description of the interior had an important function. It set up a contrast between the home’s cool, trendy, laid back atmosphere and the next level scheming that would take place there. 

North to South

Based on other research, I knew that a cover with a face was ideal, and I assured my publisher that using the mural art was going to work. A year later, this is my avatar everywhere, and saying so in the first paragraph of my Clubhouse profile has made promotion effortless. When people ask me why I don’t use a selfie, I tell them that I am using social audio for business, and I don’t want to attract the wrong sort of customer. Seeing that I get book sales without doing anything extra, it stays right there.

And now, I will highlight some amusing incidents from last year’s promotional campaign. A book marketer told me he had no idea why I would give away free copies of my novel. He had no idea how that would help with book sales. One colleague suggested that a political assassination to help me get mega downloads. Another said to give up drafting if people did not download the beta version. Later, a young lady clickbaited and free trafficked me to her blog after saying that people would never download the $0.00 promotional Kindle copy without reviews, while agreeing that people would need to read the novel to review it.

A tale in the crypt - storyboard of first scene of last chapter, The Quarter Percent
Ruby Castle’s crypt with a statue of Saint Joan on the left.

On top of that, someone has been earning money from views of my trailer on a dodgy platform. Every marketer I hired to promote the book has denied having merched the trailer. I only found out because the analytics on WordPress finally appeared in February and showed me a cascade of clicks out to my blog. The owners of the platform are not answering emails or taking phone calls so I cannot find out who is doing this.

Amid all of that drama, you will understand why I gave up on promoting my novel altogether. But I am happy that l have stumbled upon an effective way to sell it.

Costmary is talking with her publicist Karen Aoki

Regardless of the obstacles, I enjoyed the creative process from last year, and I will expand on that for my upcoming novel. My first idea was to create art prints and posters. Still researching styles that I want to use, and practising on Procreate. Currently, I am producing instrumental compositions for piano, violin and cello. These will match the mood and themes of the story. My YouTube channel is dry and ashy so I asked a composer friend to help me out. I am hoping to share the music with artists and creators who like listening to music as they work.

About an hour before publishing this post, I talked about the project in a business networking group and I was encouraged by the response. The music will also be my rehabilitation after sacrificing brain cells to ratchet YouTube (for research purposes). 

Happy Wednesday, everyone. Keep creating, and thank you for staying in touch. 

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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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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.

Categories
People

I just wanna (love) you over

I just wanna (love) you over
Are you moved by the spirit?

If you’re an artist and you feel apprehensive about showing your work, don’t overthink it. Please take a good look at that page of a fashion magazine. I really like it because it shows you don’t need to have the best handwriting ever to use yours as art.

I had one of those days when I felt truly ****** over and it seemed appropriate to scratch something meta on the side. Then, in a different magazine, I found a monochrome photograph of a man’s left hand. I cut it out, dressed it up, and put it in a box. As I photographed it, I realised I had a fun throwback story for Thursday.

Collage from magazine prints and other objects
Skin care for a dry, paper hand

A few years ago, I was approached by a chocolatier out of the blue. Chocolate-making is profitable here, so they were adding a bistro to their shop. They needed a huge favour. They said, we heard that your handwriting is totally unreadable so we want to use it for our handwritten menu cards so that nobody can say we copied theirs. Plus, we don’t know how to translate katakana to French with proper spelling because we don’t know foreign languages.

And I was like, okay.

Daiso is successful because they give good quality advice
Daiso gives good quality advice

The bistro was a gorgeous, modern, stone structure with stained wood interiors and a sunken kitchen. While I sat there staring at the printed out pages of the menu, the chef brought out the first plate of the tasting menu.

One of my friends, who decided she was going to come along and watch, was the designated taster. And she was elated at the chance to eat gourmet food for two hours while I chicken-scratched on menu cards in two languages.

I have to say I really enjoyed that job.

Hoping you have a great Thursday.

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about me art writing

That went well…

Hello everyone, I went and did another thing. Sabiscuit’s Catalog is now Saint Joan, a creative studio which will be work and/or play. It is evolving. Welcome, in every language.

Saint Joan Creative Studio by Lily Nicole
Saint Joan : Creative Studio

But, to be clear, I have done several things. One was to set my blog to private after WordPress said they were going to publish posts from other bloggers here. It was going to be a matter of time before some antisocial idiot ended up next to my art work.

Signed, sealed, delivered ….

During the break, I was writing a lot of scenes for my upcoming creative project. While doing some research on a character, I went so far down the digital rabbit hole, that when I shook myself awake, it was a brand new year.

Don’t get me started on what has happened already. I left you alone for three months and you bring dogecoin back? Not to mention, amid the mayhem on Wall Street, Demi Moore managed to break the Internet. This tells you that star power is real. Because, let’s be honest, how many of you wear $600 Fendi tights?

Saint Joan  Creative Studio by Lily Nicole
Creative Studio – I love books and retro stuff

Miraculously, after eight frustrating months, WordPress has finally allowed me to upgrade to my own domain. I am grateful for the buffer of time. This domain, saintjoan.studio, is named for the Congregation of St. Joan, an orthodox religion I created for my first novel, The Quarter Percent. It was referenced only once in the final chapter. However, a breakaway sect called St. Joan’s Parish is featured in the next novel. Special thanks go to Draculauren for interviewing me about both projects last year. It was a fun experience.

After brainstorming ideas, I thought the church needed a governing body that behaved like it was running a global sportswear brand. When I thought of the outrage this concept would induce, I decided to bring the Blessed Lady into this timeline.

How are you all doing? Please let me know.

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art creative writing fiction opinion poem poetry women writing

Ascension / Bring me higher

Image with handwritten runic script overlay. Page from Tokyo Fashion Edge Volume 35, 2019.
Garnet – Love
Runic transcription of poem - Ascension/Bring me higher
Runic transcription
Runic script of poem on magazine page. Image from Tokyo Fashion Edge.
Bring me higher – Runic transcription
Ascension - English
Ascension / Bring me higher
Image with handwritten runic script overlay. Page from Tokyo Fashion Edge Volume 35, 2019.
Runic transcription – Opening stanzas
Image with handwritten English cursive script overlay. Page from Tokyo Fashion Edge Volume 35, 2019.
Citrine – Abundance
Image with handwritten English script overlay. Page from Tokyo Fashion Edge Volume 35, 2019.
Quartz – Purity


Presented with love and gratitude. Poem “Ascension/Bring me higher” was written by me. Big ups to my homey, the 9th century poet, Cynewulf. My poem is inspired by his awesome work, Christ II. Images are from Tokyo Fashion Edge Magazine Volume 35, September 2019, with an overlay of handwritten runic and English scripts in watercolour. Have a healing week ahead.

Categories
art fashion gourmet

Roses + Coffee

Drip coffee package with specialty rose shaped cookies - pink.

This morning, I received a surprise gift: A box of rose-shaped cookies from a Tokyo patisserie called Tulip Rose. I can’t have the cookies because I’m gluten intolerant, so I took photos before giving them away.

Drip coffee package with rose shaped cookie - blue.

The illustrations are from individually-wrapped drip coffee sachets. I received four from a colleague who found them while hunting for coffee deals on Amazon. I have had three so far. (When I say I have coffee, I mean a milk substitute, cream, sugar, and coffee as a flavour).

Rose-shaped cookies

I kept the packaging in case I could create some yummy photo art. The moment has arrived, the coffee brand is called Tasogare, and the beans are from Ethiopia and Brazil. 

Drip coffee in package - green. With decorative wooden clothespins, and graffiti.

Thank you for your support so far. Please enjoy the cookies with your beverage of choice, a warm hug from me, and best wishes for the months ahead.

Box of rose shaped cookies (cookie petals with semi-solid cream filling) from Tulip Rose, Tokyo. Thank you scribbled over the top.

( ^ω^ )

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about me art opinion People women writing

Back on the Ferris wheel

My novel has been released into the wild, and I should be celebrating, but I am back on the Ferris wheel. I finally understand why some writers don’t even try. The book promotion game is not necessarily about self-confidence, diligence, originality, or skill. What happened?

THE QUARTER PERCENT is on Amazon.
FREE downloads through Friday, August 7.
Click that link and find out what the fuss is all about.

Playing with stickers on paper. Cucumber.

Friday, July 31, 06:20. I am on an influencer’s website binge-reading suggested articles. In twelve hours, it will dawn on me that this is an elaborate scheme to drive up page views and create demand for her services.

Stickers on paper. Making faces: Onion.

Only an hour after expressing my confusion with her process, I see two blog posts demonstrating the effectiveness of promoting free books for a limited time. They presented statistics, and graphs, as well as screen captures. My plan should work fine, but the influencer insists that people will never download a free copy of a book unless it has at least ONE five-star review on Amazon.

Stickers on paper. Making faces: Pink.

Keep calm, I get it: readers want to know what to expect, and they want to hear it from another reader. I completely agree. This is why I’m doing the promotion in the first place.

Stickers on paper. Making faces: Orange slice lip.

The influencer now advises me to get on social media and spend literally hundreds of hours tweeting and emailing strangers to ask them to read and review a free copy of my book. This contradicts her assertion that people won’t download my book unless it has reviews already.

Screen capture from my publisher’s desktop monitor. Click the image to grab a free copy from Amazon.

I go back to the first message I sent her. Sure enough, in my pitch, there is a longer description and a link to the trailer. There is also an invitation to download a free copy when the promotion starts. It takes me a full day to realise that “books with five-star reviews on Amazon” was code for “don’t wanna read it.”

Stickers on paper. Making faces: Cucumber eyes.

Her next suggestion is that I pay almost US$900 to an elite online book club in exchange for a single honest review by a team, on their website, a process that could take seven weeks.

I need to get off this Ferris wheel. I am told that I can’t promote my book without reviews, and that I won’t get reviews if I don’t promote my book. I stop reading, and in a panic, compose an email to my publisher.

🌺🧡💚❤️🌺

Paperback format available soon. Big ups to my publisher, StelaEVF, for making this possible. Thank you, everyone, for your support.

Categories
about me art creative writing fiction opinion

North to South

Illustration by Poelosophy

Indonesian artist, Poelosophy, created some concept art for my novel. There is an exhibit in Dublin, ‘North to South’, which features aboriginal art from Northern Europe and South America. The exhibit is the setting for a scene entitled ‘Big Daddy Pharma’.

Thank you for leaving encouraging words for me when I wrote about the impossible task of getting promotional work done. I’m still processing ideas and will be working on them as I go. Feeling like giving up is part of the journey. But I was amused at suggestions that I should actually toss my project. Hold on a second. I haven’t tried everything yet.

North to South – illustration by Poelosophy

And I am quite sure that if someone were to lend me their celebrity friends and let me slobber all over them in the club, my novel would get downloaded really fast. A Russian woman who pretended to be a German heiress, and stole millions, has deals with Netflix and Shonda Rhimes. Other people, who look different, would be rotting, anonymously, in jail. So let’s be realistic about what’s going on out here.

In the past, I would have been totally destroyed by “delete your book” remarks. But Fifty Shades fan fiction 365 Days was optioned by Netflix. The film skyrocketed to first place last weekend. It tells the story of a gangster who kidnaps a woman, ties her up, and assaults her for an entire year so she will fall in love with him. Even the people who said they hated it, watched it to the end, and uploaded reviews to their YouTube channels. In other words, the release was a success.

If that film is out there, it means two things. One, thinking in terms of ‘good writing’ or ‘bad writing’ is unhelpful. Two, the universe now needs to be balanced, so I will be publishing my novel.

Perceived quality is not a metric that can be influenced by hand-wringing. Instead of telling people what they should/shouldn’t like, I should focus on finding (a) people who will read anything, (b) people who like everything they read, (c) people who like to read full-length novels on mobile devices and (d) people who collect ebooks.

The search continues …

Have a great week ahead.

Categories
art fiction women writing

A tale in the crypt

Gala meets Velour’s First Minister

Jennifer Horn has done a fantastic job again creating this storyboard for a key scene for my novel, The Quarter Percent.

In the first scene of the final chapter, Gala and the First Minister of Velour are in the crypt of Ruby Palace. On screen is a replay of the ‘fall of the house of Moss’. At a prestigious awards ceremony, in front of the crowned heads of the Continent, Mrs. Moss spills the dirt on the Continent’s aristocrats. Gala explains that it is her system of interpersonal sabotage.

Morse coded message I created online

In the epilogue, one of the characters receives an invitation card on his breakfast tray. The card is written in Morse. He presses it to the screen of his tablet to translate the message.

(^ω^)


Have a happy week ahead, everyone.

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Notes 7/3

Coffee with milk in a dark mug
Image by Nicholas Ng via Unsplash

A few days ago, a post from one of our blogging colleagues, supporting peaceful protest, vapourised just as I posted a response to it. The suppression of speech and shredding of proprietary content is only the beginning of the issues plaguing social media platforms. As Upper Echelon Gamers puts it, “Companies do not care about you.”

Many social media users complain about content banned for “reasons” including nebulous and somewhat petty rules violations. Meanwhile, the most vile content continues to be added to those same platforms seemingly without resistance. I once saw a post with an offensive word spelled out on Scrabble tiles. The justification for posting it was wordy. He knew exactly what he was doing and who would be reading. Another subscriber from a different country threatened, from the comfort of his bedsit, to get me ‘deported’ even though I am a long term resident of a country he has never even visited.

I believe that a platform like WordPress has the resources to hire staff to manually review posts flagged by an algorithm, and warn users about community policy violations. It is lazy to smoke every post that uses the flagged keyword or hashtag of the day. If you have a blog, keyword lists are not enough. People who use speech to denigrate others know how to evade the censors.

Brown paper in envelopes with fountain pen
Image by Ankhesenamunn via Unsplash

I once had a subscriber suggest here, on this blog, that “the races” should shove off to a remote part of the world so she wouldn’t have to live in harmony with us. A mutual write-off won’t make the world a better place. I’ve tried to initiate discussions on the problematic phrasing, virtue signalling and outright opportunism that occurs in times like these. Invariably, my remarks bring out a defensive response. I think the best approach is to keep using our blogs to challenge retrogressive ideas in a non-confrontational way: Art, fiction, reflections, photography, poetry, music and film. The resistance is here on WordPress.

That’s why I’m always beating the drum of engagement. As wonky as it is, this platform enables us to see more of the world. Of course it is risky to reach out and start conversations with people we have never met face-to-face. Sure, it can be a painful undertaking. And yes, it might be a terrible idea but in the exchange, I feel that getting noticed disrupts the status quo of toxic ideologies.

This leaves me with a most important question. How do we get closer to those individuals, to influence them away from divisive and destructive ideas, when the voices of the well-intentioned continue to be suppressed?

(^ν^)


Post script: As a side note, it has been five days since my attempts to upgrade this account have been thwarted. Yet, on Dashboard, I see a notice encouraging me to buy a unique domain. That is a machine talking. Not a single peep has been heard from the mysterious Help Desk humans. As far as I am concerned, they have left town.