Catacomb Categories

Very futuristic

I wouldn’t normally put in anything about Amazon but their new warehouse in the UK is very sci fi and I ask myself which are the automaton’s: the humans or the robots? They’ve dumbed the job down so much anyone can do it, whether that’s good or bad is something I’m not examining but that could include a robot. If this is the future then I think we need to stop and look at the structure of society with a view to restructuring. Too many robots means an awful lot of people out of work. If they’re out of work they’re not earning. Etc, etc, etc. Just join the dots for yourselves.

The Hugo Awards!

Remember previous years when there were voting blocks who got together with the idea of reducing diversity and giving awards to white authors? It bombed this year and I’m very pleased to see it. You can read the article yourself.

The Voynich Manuscript

If I’d remembered to buy a ticket in tonight’s lotto draw and actually win lots of millions of dollars I would have bought one of these books. Carbon dated to the 13th century it is a thing of beauty and a tiny Spanish publisher has received permission to reproduce it completely and utterly but they’re only doing 898 copies and they’re far above my price range. Not only that I’d need to increase my house insurance just by having it here. I’m drooling.

The Who Quadrophenia by Alan Fletcher

The Who Quadrophenia by Alan Fletcher

The Who Quadrophenia by Alan Fletcher

Not sure why I picked this book up and I don’t recall where I got it from but I’m glad I did. It’s the book of the film of the album by The Who. I hope you were following that, there’ll be a test at some stage.

The Who, iconic band who’ve been around since forever…actually since 1964 and they haven’t done an awful lot since 1982, at least not together. They have reformed and done various live appearances and stuff since then. The names in the band are legendary and you can do your own googling but they include Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.

They are known for ever so much. Including My Generation and my favourite version is this one by The Zimmers. By the by, they’ve been on Britain’s Got Talent. But The Who also did Tommy, a rock opera about a boy who was deaf, dumb and blind but became the pin ball wizard.

But back to Quadrophenia. It started life as an album talking about the life of Jimmy the Mod, it then became a movie and ended up as this book. The Mods and the Greasers fought, sometimes to the detriment of the surrounding suburbs. As I just discovered last night they’re in the process of filming a sequel with some of the same actors. It includes Toyah (you’ll know her from her music in the 1980s) and Mark Wingett who we watched, and saw grow up, for many years on The Bill. The fact that I can’t find any more about this movie except what I read in the article is totally irrelevant.

Yes, I did read it. Did I enjoy it? Sort of, it was interesting getting into the head of someone stoned out of their brain. And it was fascinating seeing England in 1964 from the point of view of someone who was totally against everything. I got the impression Jimmy was young and immature, more so than his age. I know people like that who think nobody understands them and don’t take the trouble to even try to explain but just complain that no-one understands them.

Am I likely to read it again? Probably not, and I have no intention of keeping the book. It’ll probably go on one of those auction sites that I’m not going to name.

George Orwell

You know what?

I came across this article about George Orwell and how his name was really Eric Blair and how they’re building a statue to him outside BBC Headquarters and it made me think. While thinking I checked the catacombs and discovered while I’ve mentioned Orwell 13 times (some of these articles I’ve even published and others are still in draft form) I’ve never actually written about him.

Now you know his real name was Blair and he was born in India but of British descent. And there’s the question I have, if you’re born in India doesn’t that make you Indian? But I’m told he’s British. I’m confused.

Someone should write more about him and I don’t just mean me, I mean a creative story about how he didn’t actually die in 1950 but actually lived a long and productive life. I mean, think about it. Orwell wrote some really excellent works but how many would he have written had he lived longer than 47 years?

Let’s have a look at just two of his most important works.

1984 by George Orwell

1984 by George Orwell

Doesn’t matter whether you use digits or letters this is a really important book. Many people have written about its importance in today’s society and how it foreshadowed the CCTV on the streets and in buildings or how we’re now watched by so many people. Don’t even think about making me look at social media.

But, hey! There’s a thought. I do wonder what Orwell would have made of social media. What sort of book would have come out of that I wonder.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm is all about politics, more specificially, socialism and fascism. But because it’s been set on a farm with the animals working the farm it looks like a children’s book. How brilliant is that? In places where censorship is rife this is one book that’s survived just because it looks like a children’s book. Did he think that through and decide he needed to make sure at least one comment on socialism/fascism made it through and that’s why he’d make it look like a children’s book? Don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

What’s your style?

The thing about doing a uni degree such as mine is that it gives you the chance to experiment with writing styles and to find where you’re most comfortable and where your skills really lie. They give you the chance to write in many different types and as of this trimester I’m going for it and I’m attempting to write lots of different things just to see what happens.

My current assignment due in tonight is looking at the script for 8 Mile, matching it up with a quote from one of the critical readings and to write either a screenplay/script or a creative nonfiction piece alongside a Statement of Intent. Between all of that I need to reach 1,600 words. And I don’t understand why 1,500 words doesn’t phase me but 1,600 freaks me out! To calm me down I’m trying to remember the Statement of Intent is meant to be 300 words while the other piece is 1,300, there’s no 1,600 there. Truly.

I’m enjoying the time when we have to do a Statement of Intent or a Reflection of our work. This is the time when I get to ramble about why I chose what to write about and how I went about doing the work. It feels good to actually be writing about these things.

Going back to the piece due in tonight. Having never written a screenplay/script that’s what I’ve chosen to do. The fact that it makes sense and totally fits with the things I have in mind is totally irrelevant. It’s all about extending myself, stepping out into the wide blue yonder and doing something outside my comfort zone.

One of my fellow students told me about a little website to help with writing screenplays/scripts. With the wonders of technology I googled and found it during class, signed up and voila! I have a free account. Celtx is a lovely little programme which gives you so much help for how to lay out these things. You still need to know terminology and what to do but once you’ve written it you can then produce an industry ready document. You can pay and get extras such as the ability to add members and other useful stuff but I only need the really basic.

For Sunday I have a creative essay of 1,500 words and for next Wednesday I have a workshop for which I have to provide a draft of about 1,500 words. If all goes well I may do a poem for the workshop, I don’t do poetry but it would be good to step out of my comfort zone.

Knights of Madness by Peter Haining

Knights of Madness by Peter Haining

Knights of Madness by Peter Haining

Peter Haining is my all-time favourite editor, he’s put together so many of my favourite anthologies that I wouldn’t know where to begin to choose just one. Instead I’ll talk about the latest one I’ve read. Haining has been putting together anthologies for longer than I can remember, sadly he won’t be doing any more as he died in 2007, I mourn him still.

If you look at the front cover you’ll see art work by the incomparable Josh Kirby. Until he died in 2001 he created many covers for Terry Pratchett, you’ll know which they are as they share similarities with this one.

When you open the front cover and see names such as Terry Pratchett, Jerome K. Jerome, G. K. Chesterton, Ray Bradbury, Spike Milligan and Mark Twain you know you’re in for a very special treat. Then he adds in some Orson Welles, Peter Sellers and Gene Wolfe as well as a detective story by A. A. Milne, the wonderfulness of the writers abound and then you get the stories.

But, enough. Get the book and read it yourself. You’ll find something to make you laugh, something to make you think and then something to make you go ‘what!’ sometimes in the same story.

If you see my brain please send it home

As you know I had good intentions of being really organised and using technology to its fullest extent to help me study for uni. And I’m sure you’ve read my rant about technology letting me down because the files were actually images despite telling me they were pdf. It meant that instead of starting the trimester slightly ahead I’ve started behind while I attempted to get technology to work. I’ve then continued to stay behind, next week is where I make every effort to get some way to caught up. What will help is that I’ve got two assignments due in by the 21st August, another on the 23rd August and a week off uni next week. Having assignments due really focusses my mind and makes sure I get the readings done. What won’t help is that between the three it’s almost 5,000 words and I’m starting a writer’s group with some of my class mates. I’ve booked a room and we’re going to sit and write. What will help is that I worked hard on them yesterday and I am getting some sort of structure happening.

Not to mention that I’ve been asked to speak on a panel at the Book Expo in October. There’s a chance you might have noticed me talking about this last year. Only a chance, mind you. I’m sure I only wrote several articles about it. It’ll be awesome, again! This year they’ve got a really organised blogging conference on one day. I’ve spent a little time looking at some of my fellow bloggers and I’m in awe, they’re doing really amazing things and I can’t wait to meet them!

With all this in mind I sat down at my computer and couldn’t decide what to write about for you. I have a list of ideas but I’ve put none of the research in progress to actually write on any of them. I also found 39 drafts of potential articles waiting for me in the back blocks of my website, I looked at and deleted six of them as they totally out of date or irrelevant. While I did finish a book a couple of days ago I want to leave that for Monday. Next week I might write about the film script we had to read, especially if I have time to watch the movie to go with it.

Are you Missing?

I’ve often wondered how you’d know if you were one of the Missing. You might think the project has petered off and will no longer be finished, I can understand how you might think that, I mean, with Terry Pratchett gone don’t all projects stop? He’s gone we no longer have a reason for living or doing the things that we did when he was around?

Stuff and nonsense. When someone dies you mourn and move on. When someone famous dies and you mourn by playing/reading/doing the things that made them famous. In the case of Trollbridge nothing has changed (I lie, the group involved in bringing this little movie to fruition has grown), the movie will be finished and we’ll be able to see it in all its glory.

If you backed Trollbridge back in the day and have heard nothing for a while it’s for some strange reason. The Trollbridge team have tried and will continue to try to find you. Give them a hand, go to The Missing page and using modern technology email Deb, start with ‘Hello!’

Maybe they should send out Angua.

Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine de Landro

Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine de Landro

Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine de Landro

I’m so over committed I’m finding it hard to fit in enough time for reading. I’ve currently run out of books I’ve read to scribble a few words about and am showing you one of my university novels instead. Next week I have an anthology of fantasy short stories which I’ll be finishing tonight.

This is rather out of my normal reading matter and there’s a reason for that. My university subjects direct me to read books I’d not otherwise consider and this graphic novel is one of them. It’s well worth reading and the warning is that it’s rated M, it has violence, sex themes and swearing, nudity and is not recommended for young, impressionable people. Let me explain but there will be spoilers as I can’t figure out how to write this without. If you want to read the book first then I suggest you go now.

Bitch Planet is science fiction and satire. It’s set some time in the future when the world has changed drastically, men have completely taken over and if any women misbehaves they are sent to Bitch Planet (also described as Auxillary Compliance Outpost, don’t you just love weasel words). It is an actual planet so if any female does the wrong thing they can’t get back unless a man specifically requests it and goes through all the right channels and even then it might not happen. Just like being sent to Australia as a convict, very unlikely to get out alive but unlike Australia, unlikely to ever complete a sentence.

The women don’t get a break, even when it looks as if they’re being given one the people in charge don’t play by the rules. The women in charge have been brainwashed and oppress those on the inside.

It’s a very important book to read  as it highlights how one faction of society can oppress another.  It points to a very dysfunctional society. The writing is really good and the artistry is also good, I’m impressed with both. I’m sure I’ll be even more impressed once I’ve studied it.

Getting your book out there

There’s so much on the web about getting your book out there and getting reviews which should, logically, get more readers. And that somehow brings me to Facebook. Actually, not just Facebook, but also Twitter, Litsy, Instagram and a whole raft of other social media options.

There are more social media options than I have books in my To Be Read Pile. You could spend years going through and assessing them all to find out which are the ones you need for your niche or you could cut to the chase and just follow the trend.

As an author, the ones you absolutely need are GoodReads and Litsy. Why those? Because GoodReads has all the books and at the very least you need an author profile and some reviews you’ve written of some other books to show you do more than just write. With 50 million members and 1.5 billion books they are a must for you. So, how do you stand out with those numbers? Don’t limit yourself to GoodReads, make sure you’re on other social media outlets as well.

But you have to be where your readers are. Look at other authors of your genre and find out where they sit with their social media. How? Go to your local bookshop, browse and find authors then google them and find out where they are. This is a good start.

There seems to be a burgeoning bookworld on Instagram. I suspect that’s because of the camera/mobile phone/cosplay thing that’s becoming big. Instagram is more about photos but you’re able to put in quite a chunk of text and hashtags so people can browse the hashtag they’re interested in and find you. I’m doing a bit of experimenting with Instagram at the moment.

Litsy is the newcomer to the reading world. It’s a combination of GoodReads and Instagram. It’s meant to be mainly about books so I signed up as soon as I heard about it but it turns out that’s way too early. It’s only available for Apple products at present, I have it on my iPad but I’m anxiously awaiting it for the Android.

At one stage Twitter looked like it was the goer, but I’m now not certain. I’m unwilling to leave it as I have so much affection for it. I do try to browse it every day and retweet articles that sound interesting. I’ve done the wrong thing and linked up Twitter with Facebook so everything I tweet or retweet also goes to Facebook.

You also need a home, somewhere you can put all those big things and direct people to. Somewhere you might be able to sell your own books or at least have links to bookshops whether online or bricks and mortar. The problem with Facebook is they can take down your page at any time and if you’ve got 300,000 followers then you’ve just lost them. Twitter is better, as are both GoodReads and Litsy but you still need somewhere you can put all those things that don’t fit on any of those accounts. That’s why you need a website. It can be really basic but it needs to be you and yours. You can do blogging type websites and they can be fairly cheap or you can spend heaps of money getting someone else to do it for you.

If you choose to do WordPress you’ll find some awesome plugins around. What you’ll also find is the massive number of social media possibilities around. I’ve just glanced at one plugin and found it supports over 50 social media sites! I once saw over 300 but that was a few years ago and sometimes these things can fail.

Which reminds me, I must update my plugin now I have more social media links to add in. Take a leaf out of my book and don’t choose too many, only choose the ones you can absolutely support. Also, choose a username/website that’s easy to remember, fits you and is easy to say. I’ve chosen SuzsSpace but it’s so easy to get wrong, just look at those letters!

Things, just things

Last night was an interesting evening.

I’m a member of several websites to do with freelancing. I rarely look at them and never click through the links on their emails. Last night was different and I did exactly that. I know, I know, never click on a link but I trust this website…or at least I trusted them more than I do now. The link said Create Listing Now and I clicked into it thinking I’d look and not finalise the listing. Wrong, wrong and brimming over with wrongability. Clicking through finalised the listing and all of a sudden phone calls started coming through on Skype, and before I knew it I had 50 offers on my listing. I’d had no chance to amend the details they put in there and I was in a total daze. I eventually found their Live Chat and they helped me cancel it but not before the first person on Skype had tried to ring me three times and connect as a friend.

40 minutes later I thought the whole thing was finished with and noticed Skype starting up again. This person was very persistent, trying to ring me twice more and connect again. I chatted in text format and was very firm saying I wasn’t looking for staff and that the listing was accidental. No, I never connected and didn’t take the call. I’ve now blocked them as they were very persistent and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Yes, I used the word ‘no’ and synonyms! I hope it’s now over with but I’ll wait and see.

Yes, I complained about the link in their email.

The funny thing is I have no speakers on this computer. This person was ringing and there was no sound. I found out because I looked at the bottom of my screen and noticed numbers on my Skype icon. What fun!

Onto more exciting things.

I have a few book blogger friends, only a few mind you. I snuck onto some of their blogs last night and here’s a very small selection.

The Neverending Bookshelf has given an update of The Australia Women Writer’s Challenge. It seems to be going well. She’s read 46 out of her 50 books and reviewed 27 out of 40. Good stats happening there.

Nerdalicious has a way with blogs. There’s a bit of history, a bit of film and TV. Just have a look for yourself.

And while they’re not actually friends, they do books so they feel like friends. Orbit is hiring!

I’m finishing today with Book’dOut. She’s always got good reviews.

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I want to thank the Koolin people for their thousands of years of guardianship and caretaking of the area where I live.