Categories
creative writing women writing

Formula (writing) is for babies


One of the main causes of writer’s block is the overabundance of writing advice. The checklists, sorry to say, were created to raise the SEO of the sites that are posting them. Every day, I scroll through my Reader and I can see that the pressure to conform to “structures” is sapping the mojo of my blogging colleagues.

Foil packaging for Japanese rice snacks
Foil packaging for Japanese rice snacks

The problem is pervasive, because even large film studios, after using these magical checklists to spit out treatments for films, have to pirate their own releases in order to generate interest.

There exists deep learning technology so finely tuned that it can render writing samples resembling something that a human being would create. This AI tech is open source and anyone can request to be placed on a waitlist to test it. It was inadvertently trained by writers online who write to these checklists.

A friend wants to hang out

One consequence that writers are overlooking is the long-term viability of writing as a career. I will not be shocked if next year, a New York Times bestselling novel is written by AI and an eight-year-old on an iPad. Large news publishing companies are already making huge profits using this technology and a skeleton staff of freelance journalists. Sooner or later, the algorithm will supplant us.

Foil packaging for Japanese rice snacks
Black paper swirls

Or, we could tell original stories and support fellow writers as they do the same.

I cannot repeat this often enough. The film version of Blanka Lipinska’s Polish-language novel, 365 Days, has 2 stars on IMDB and yet, she is raking in the $$$ and is now besties with Oprah. When someone starts talking to me about my work as if I’ve done something offensive, I point in her direction and say, “Have you … seen … this display?” (Thanks for that, Blanka).

A new hairdo

Right now, you could be sitting on an idea for a viral micro series. You might have a beautiful concept for a live, improvised audio play on Clubhouse when it finally comes out of beta. But you might not develop your ideas because lists say not to create as you like.

You are a human being, you are on planet Earth, and you have a story to tell. Are you going to wait until you are perfect, or are you going to write?

Categories
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.

Categories
poem poetry writing

Dominae Sol serenat omnia

aikyo to aikyo 2019 postcard of oil on canvas painting by Anna Ishii
あいきょうとあいきょう

Dominae Sol serenat omnia

Dominae Sol serenat omnia - Latin poem based on the Mediaeval Latin verses in the Codex Buranus.

Based on Mediaeval Latin verses in the Codex Buranus. Below, you will see the English translation.

The Sun is my Empress, She shines over everything

I was tempted to put the full text here. However, I remembered that Chrome’s translation software would chew it up. I hope the two images render without any issues. If there are any, let me know. The raw text is available, so please contact me if you would like to have it.

Image: Postcard I received recently of Anna Ishii’s 2019 work, “Charming and mesmerising” – 193 cm x 193 cm oil on canvas.

Categories
art creative writing fiction writing

Accession

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was writing a coronation scene for a new novel. The story is set in 2033, and unfolds in the same universe as The Quarter Percent. We follow events from three perspectives. One belongs to Sebastian, who happens to be a nephew of Cordial’s.

Whereas it hath pleased our Most Blessed Lady to recall to us Her glorious memory in the noble crown which is solely and rightfully come to the High Prince Carroll Patrice Saints Maud et Agnes:

Still drafting, but I know how the story ends. In the very last scene, after a bombshell revelation the previous evening, a hush falls over the nation on Coronation Day. The new monarch is Sebastian’s bestie, 35-year-old Carroll. In this draft of the story, Carroll’s father is still alive, so the proclamation of accession has to take place at the coronation.

Proclamation of accession (fiction).

By this point in the story, we have eavesdropped on meetings and know that the coronation will be stripped of pomp and pageantry. Sebastian has been asked to whittle down the government’s expenditure on the ceremony to mere shillings. The ceremony is a reckoning with the public which, after a display of hubris, has completely lost face. Nonetheless, the ordeal has been humiliating for Carroll.

Bless and sanctify thy servant Carroll, Inheritor of this realm, who we anoint and consecrate King. Imbue him with the wisdom of the Mighty Reformer Jonas, as we, with one voice, proclaim him King, Servant and Steward, with hearty and weighty affection.

The proclamation text is based on EIIR’s 1952 accession and 1953 coronation. (Read a short story inspired by the latter). As mentioned in that earlier post, Google was reading over my shoulder and recommended gospel music to me on YouTube. I made some artwork to display the text that was misunderstood. I hope you like it.

Note: This post was originally intended for publication on this date, 09/20, but I moved it up a week. I moved it back here to make way for a different post. Thank you for your attention, as always. Header image: Izrael Poznanski Palace in Lodz, Poland, by Jacques Bopp, via Unsplash. Concept art: “Accession proclamation for King Carroll”, Posca watercolour pens, and Pilot Juice metallic ink on matte/glossy magazine paper.

Categories
poem poetry writing

Beatitudes

Go out in the morning,
into the tabernacles and the courts.
Blessed are the souls that receive you;
they will be comforted.
Do not faint from toil; find rest
in mine house. Sleep, and see
a mystery in the early moments,
before the trumpets will sound.
Continue to the city, touching
all who praise thee for thy works.
Blessed are the faithful that rejoice
in thy labour; they will obtain
gladness even until the latter rain.

I will not age
nor show how frail I am,
nor let the flower of my glory fall away.
Yea, I will bless them that sow in joy
and wait to taste the bounteous supper.
Mine riches shall I heap upon their heads.

Therefore, feel not disquiet,
but hope. Walk in righteousness,
and be worthy. Weep not for days,
but return to me. And measure not
my devotion in a handsbreadth;
surely, it will endure
forever.

🌺

Thank you, everyone, for your encouraging words on my last post. This poem is based on Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem). English text: King James Bible. Original image: Nghia Do Thanh. Musical inspiration: Junkie XL’s Brothers in arms.

Categories
about me creative writing opinion writing

Better is one day

Better is one day, from Hymn by Sarah Brightman

Therapy is working. I had to complain to my therapist about this because, for two weeks, I have been staring at a wall of text that usually my brain would gather up and frappé into a poem.

However, my therapist and I have worked out my underlying issues. The stuff that was causing me to be codependent, passive-aggressive, resentful, angry, and vindictive had helped me to write poetry. There is no better way to cloak my hostility or deny my own needs. Now, the magic is gone. Nice job, doctor. 

I am able to confidently state my needs, and sometimes that involves screaming to the world that I’m not okay. This always happens when I am in traffic on Sundays, but I think that’s true for everyone. Anyway, she says I need to ping my brain with music. I say that it is a meditative process that only works for writing prose fiction. We also talk about feeling sad about the tragic passing of someone we all know.

After that conversation, I swear to Jesus, I went to YouTube and I see Sarah Brightman posed like the Columbia Torch Lady. I had no idea that she released an album in 2018. I listened out of curiosity, and realised that YouTube did not suggest this to me before because I avoid songs that praise the Lord Almighty, in English. I made a face at first, but it stuck and I had to play it again. The song is based on A German Requiem by Brahms. It sounds uplifting, cheerful, and transporting.

How did this happen? Google’s neural networks are getting better at listening to my private chats (!) and/or analysing my emails. I strongly suspect the latter because yesterday, I emailed myself the ecclesiastical portion of a coronation scene that I am writing. It’s for a new novel, but the machine believes that I’m Catholic or something. Oops.

I love the song. And I still can’t write poetry.

Categories
art creative writing poetry women

Psycho Fan

One is a crowd.

My addiction of choice is your past.
Its powerful spell makes me anxious,
creates a tension that is so deep.
You are cocky and terrific. Grinding
right there is the hardest thing in the world.
But your stuff was beautiful and
the consummation was
a thing of enchantment.
I genuflect under control.

The second half makes me want to get
squelched so fast into several pews.
The three-part thing was so spontaneous.
You are a pretty raw wonder. You did
something really special with your stick.
Took a minute for it to sink in.
Just love to picture it.

How beautiful to know
it all works inside me.
Truthfully, strong man, morality
is all stupidity and foolishness.
I think I’m pouting, yet taking it
painfully is humbling.

Always,
Psycho Fan

The comments remind me of a time when humans had a sense of humour and understood sarcasm. Originally published May 25, 2015. Image by Diana Vartanova via Unsplash.

P.S. Still unable to see any notifications for this post five hours after posting. Please leave a comment so I can holler at you.

Categories
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 creative writing fiction People

Oh my gosh…

Google is doing a terrible job stalking me on my new iPhone SE. Look at the ad they showed me (renting out your property circa death) while I was watching that Nicki Minaj video. Like, what exactly are they trying to imply? The Anaconda music video is at 943 million views, so I know you all saw it.

I don’t want none of this ad, hon

I am preparing to publish my first novel, The Quarter Percent, while working on new projects. Hurricane Nisto is still angry but her story will unfold in a different part of this solar system.

The Quarter Percent pays homage to Greek tragedies and is written in an episodic format with a ‘time-as-protagonist’ feel. I wonder if I should worry that some readers may not understand this even after I have suggested “focus on the timeline” in the two blurbs and the trailer? The story itself is based on William Shakespeare’s play Lear of Britain. We meet King Cordial on a Sunday morning and almost two weeks later, on a Friday morning, … read the novel.

Don’t judge me…

I grew up around famous people and I know that for them, every problem is an image problem. The narrative style of The Quarter Percent is meant to illustrate the superficiality of this world. Quarter percenters are obsessed with what others think, and are doomed to live from one crisis to the next.

My question for you is do I need to create a long blurb for the back cover or should I trust readers to work things out for themselves?

Categories
about me creative writing fiction opinion

One is selling out, but will they buy it?

Image by Carolyn V via Unsplash.

For my next project, I was planning to sell out and write a romance novel. Not sure how, because I can’t even watch people kiss on telly. On top of that, real research with live participants is going to be a dead end, as I have no game.

After reading the treatment, I realised it wasn’t romantic. So I set it aside and tried to write a few scenes. Still nothing. To procrastinate, I googled name generators. That was when I spied an automatic romantic plot generator. The software gobbles up keywords and spews out plots in mere seconds. Here, you will see what I got when, just for fun, I tried it on for my new fiction project.

AUTO GENERATED PLOT

Madeleine Locke is a stunning, fit and focused actress. Her life is going nowhere until she meets Badger Mulroney, a slim, tall man with a passion for wealth. Madeleine takes an instant disliking to Badger and his stubborn and obsessive ways. However, when a stalker tries to smear Madeleine, Badger springs to the rescue. Madeleine begins to notice that Badger is naive at heart. But, the pressures of Badger’s job as an intimacy coach leave him blind to Madeleine’s affections. Madeleine focuses on fame to try and distract herself. Finally, when controlling model, Hurricane Nisto, threatens to come between them, Badger has to act fast. But will they ever find the sizzling love that they deserve?

Auto-generated plot for a romance novel

Brilliant! Even I couldn’t have come up with an outline as terrible as that on my own. Then, I wondered, “Is there, like, an automatic novel generator, because I don’t wanna, like, you know, write a whole novel?” The answer is, yes, there is.

I plugged in the name of my main character, some adjectives, emotions, objects, place names, et cetera, and put the software to work. This is supposed to be a romantic short story, but as you can see, the software does not believe me.

Image from Arno Senoner via Unsplash.

ANGRY HURRICANE NISTO
An auto-generated story

Hurricane Nisto looked at the shattered shovel in her hands and felt angry. She walked over to the window and reflected on her freezing surroundings. She hated isolated Skartoya with its greasy, glamorous glacier. Then she saw someone in the distance. It was Madeleine Locke, a stubborn diva with hot hands and tight legs. Hurricane gulped and glanced at her own reflection. She was an angry, obsessive, wine drinker with skinny hands and tall legs.

Once, she had rescued Madeleine’s career from a burning building. But not even an angry person was prepared for Madeleine today. The blizzard teased like posing cheetahs. As Hurricane stepped outside, Madeleine glared at her with all the wrath of 8,484 controlling vigorous vixens.

They looked at each other with frustrated feelings, like two crispy, calm cougars acting at a very ruthless press conference, which had violin music playing in the background, and two vile uncles shilling to the beat. Madeleine looked jealous, her emotions blushing like a smooth, stinky satellite antenna. Then she stepped inside for a nice drink of red wine.

THE END

Thank you for reading my word soup. Have a great weekend coming up.

Categories
about me art opinion writing

Cara de la Reina

The mural "Cara de la Reina" is featured in my novel, The Quarter Percent. This graffiti style illustration was created for me by Emanuel Malu at Saita Studio.
The mural “Cara de la Reina” is featured in my novel, The Quarter Percent. This graffiti style illustration was created for me by Emanuel Malu at Saita Studio.

As I have discussed before, my amazing book promotion campaign fell flat because everyone I approached wanted me to be a popular author before agreeing to help me promote my book. Gah!

Over the weekend, I decided to beta test the promotion of a promotional copy of my novel, The Quarter Percent. After receiving a copy formatted for Kindle from the book designer, I wanted to see how a free PDF copy would be received by an influencer who has a large audience of avid e-book readers. This person’s audience only wants fiction books that are FREE or which cost $0.99. Perfect for a beta test? Or so I thought.

After three days of discussions, I was floored when this influencer insisted, today, that the book be published to Amazon first. He also asked me, “But how will you benefit from people reading it?” I am confused. Isn’t the point of publishing a novel to have people read it?

In other words, his audience is not interested in books that are cheap or free. They want popular releases for free or at a super discount. Yet, the advice I have received is to give away promotional copies of my novel to generate buzz. That makes no sense, you say? Large film studios deal with this nonsense, too. That is why they leak promotional copies of new releases to torrent sites.

My confusion arises from the fact that official publication on Amazon defeats the purpose of beta testing the novel with readers in different locations, and watching how they respond to it. I need this information so I can know how and where to promote the story. What I don’t want is readers who are not the intended audience to write reviews on the Amazon page complaining that the novel has words and that the themes are ‘difficult’.

I used to joke that I am an alien from outer space. But I am beginning to believe that either I stepped into a wormhole and this is the underverse, or the inhabitants of this planet are insane.

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.

Categories
about me creative writing opinion

Illustrations

Gala and Cordial of Vale – Illustrations by Victoria Seow

So after literally a week of gymnastics and writing while standing on my head, I’ve managed to format my fiction novel. And rework the timeline after finding out I have physically shredded five key scenes, which I wrote longhand. The novel is completely re-drafted. Edited, done. Not only that, I’ve managed to weave a coherent timeline for all of the scenes. On top of that, the conclusion is tight, the prologue is tight, and the epilogue is tight. I even have a brilliant idea for cover art.

Augustine Santa Clara- Illustration by Victoria Seow

But guess what? The geopolitics is mucked. The Monarchy of Vale (the fictional name of my country) has to be landlocked for the story to work. My protagonist is an absolute monarch of a fictional country that’s needing to negotiate with trade partners, also fictionalised.

My basis for designing the Continent was Europe, with different borders, same cities but different country names. But the m-effing European Union, in real life, it’s just sat there. It already has a trade bloc and negotiates on behalf of member states. While editing, I realise cannot use the word “Europe” or euro as currency. I could use a pound but then readers will be confused, thinking I’m talking about the UK. I am not.

I know I’m overthinking this. I know it’s fiction. But you know how certain types of people are. They immediately start fact checking your fiction. Do you guys remember Pandora? Pandora, my retelling of a doesn’t exist mythological creature entity person. Got Wikipediaded!!!

I know myself. I will trash that thing if someone bothers me.

I might have to situate this entire story on a completely different planet where the sentient beings are octopuses.

Special thanks to Victoria Seow / sunflowerfox for drawing these characters from my novel.

Categories
creative writing writing

I went and did a thing

Greetings, everyone. Since my amazing book promotion idea got twisted in the game, I had a few other ideas. One person who helped me is Australian illustrator, Jennifer Horn. She created these storyboards for some key scenes in my novel, which I am calling The Quarter Percent. I asked for rough sketches because I’m redrafting at the moment. Here are three of the key scenes.


Rue and Karl – Illustration by Jennifer Horn

Rue and Karl are now friends after their bitter divorce ten years earlier. Karl reminds Rue that he has custody of their frozen embryos from the divorce. They are about to be destroyed. Karl proposes that they start a family instead. Rue agrees, on condition that they ask three gestational carriers to carry the babies at the same time. She also decides to publicise the news of the surrogacy to stir up controversy, which will drum up business for her luxury yacht building company. That decision will backfire because…

Costmary and Karen – Illustration by Jennifer Horn

Costmary’s private dispute with her father, Cordial, has leaked to the press. Social media is Team Costmary. The public takes her sister, the thrice-divorced Rue, to task for promoting a ‘happy families’ image in light of her sister’s hardship. Costmary is having crisis talks with her publicist and friend, Karen. Earlier that day, Cordial had filed a vaguely worded writ against his subjects. Reading between the lines, journalists guessed correctly that the writ was meant for Costmary. To make matters worse, he served her with a €45 billion lawsuit. It represents the stock value of her vegan brand, Costmary’s Farm. Her father’s latest salvo has come as a shock.

Cordial and Marvin – Illustration by Jennifer Horn

Rue and Costmary’s father, Cordial, is distracted at the moment. Three weeks before the closing deadline of a multinational trade deal, he is having a video chat with the reclusive Marvin Stone, CEO of Marvin Stone Technologies, LLC. Marvin has launched a brand new, super exclusive insurance policy that only a quarter of the one percent can afford. Marvin invited twenty-three individuals to sign up for the policy. Cordial is angry because he was not on the list. But Marvin excluded him on purpose. It seems the strategy was effective.

+ – <

You can find Jennifer Horn on Instagram @Eskyjen and view her Facebook Art Page here. She has been kind, encouraging and a lovely person to collaborate with. As always, thank you for your support. Have a productive week ahead.

Categories
about me fiction opinion

My amazing promotional campaign idea crashes and burns

… before it’s got off the ground. Anyone have a celebrity friend I can borrow?

Still using the new editor. You need lots of Real Estate in order to create a post. I’m on my phone. And no Siri that’s not a capital R and a capital E.

Today, I had a brilliant idea while I was having lunch. I dropped my food and wrote everything down.

Going off on a tangent here, let me say that I’m sick and tired of people telling me how amazing social media is for promoting myself. The number of unanswered tweets I read daily made me sad. On top of that, Twitter wouldn’t allow me to promote my tweets because my account was too new. It seems difficult to grow through organic engagement. 

facebook application icon

I read that on social media, between 4.7% to 5% engagement is good. And anything above 9% is rare. It is a lot of singing and dancing for paltry rewards. Therefore, I thought it would be efficient to use many existing networks to get my project idea out there. I want to meet and correspond with people who like to read books. I don’t know how many people are reading my chapters on this blog and I don’t want to trash my project because I don’t get a lot of feedback in this forum. The plan was to create redundancies by launching as many promotional campaigns as possible and renew them periodically.

Do I continue writing or do I shred my novel? I thought it would be a good idea to encourage people to sign up to beta read it chapter by chapter in chronological sequence. Based on demand or continued mailing list subscriptions, I could decide what to do next.

My plan so far: Readers who are interested in reading an entire book for free will subscribe to a mailing list and receive a new chapter each week. Subsequently, I will ask readers to share testimonials and links to my blog, or write reviews. I estimate it will take several months to a year.


Soon, I found everything I needEd for my campaign. All of the individuals I contacted were popular and sought after. They advertise shout outs, interviews and advertisements. I was thrilled. I typed out my stump speech, added some bona fides and messaged every one I could find.

Six hours later, almost everyone responded. I got three positive replies. However, most were not willing to do any promotion for a new author. Others needed to read the whole book first.  

This means I may not get my project promoted as widely as I’d like even though it’s a FREE fiction novel. But isn’t that the point of promoting a product via a total influencer roll out?

I agree that name recognition helps. Chanel, Dior, Estée Lauder, Fancl and Shiseido give away skincare and makeup products all the time. They’re still able to sell full-size products for high prices.

Even so, I felt like a start-up skincare company being told by a beauty vlogger that they won’t even patch test my products because they’ve never heard of my “brand”. I appreciate everyone’s honesty and will now proceed to feel sorry for myself.

Other images in this post are free from Unsplash.