clhollandwriter: (Default)
2017-09-16 06:48 pm
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The Paying Market Hippogriff - Part Two

Since last posting about where you can find paying markets, I've come across some more sites.

These are all blogs or list sites, so more for those who don't mind sifting through rather than having a searchable database:
Angie's Desk is the blog of writer Angela Penrose. Every month she posts up anthology deadlines - it's also her all purpose blog so filter by using the tags "anthology market listings" or "open submissions".
Publishing ...and Other Forms of Insanity is the blog of Erica Verrillo, who posts publishing news, open submissions, and contests.
Cathy's Comps and Calls specialises in free to enter calls that can be entered online.

Some websites that have a section of contest and competitions are:
Trish Hopkinson's website
Christopher Fielden's website
Almond Press
Creative Writing Ink
Writers Reign
Writing Magazine (this only their own competitions)

Obviously as these aren't searchable they may also list markets that don't pay or charge fees. As always, read the guidelines before submission. Happy hunting!

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2017-08-24 07:34 pm

Swanwick Writers' Summer School: Day Six

Thursday is the final day of courses. We finished up the poetry course by looking at summer and collage poems, and hearing some of the previous day's homework. Some interesting things hatched from those eggs!

I hadn't been planning to take a short course, but remembered the slightly deflated feeling from last year when I missed out so on a whim picked Murder Investigation over Flash Fiction, Advanced Characterisation, and Self Publishing. It turned out to be one of the best courses of the week. Retired police detective Stuart Gibbon took us through the steps of what happens in an investigation after a body is found, and gave some real life cases as examples. It appeared to be the perfect complement to the CSI course earlier in the week which did the same thing from a forensics perspective, and I slightly regret not taking them both (although my Monkey Mind is chattering a little less so it may be worth the loss). I also took the opportunity to get my copy of The Real CSI: A Forensic Handbook for Crime Writers signed by author Kate Bendelow. Crime Writing and Forensics are always popular at Swanwick, and Kate's book had caused quite a stir when it turned up unexpectedly on Tuesday - people were queuing to get into the book room to get one!

As always, the AGM took up the workshop slot. A new committee was elected, including the co-option of a new secretary with the relevant experience and replacement of both the Chairman and Vice Chairman. Then it was off to pack and/or attend the dregs party before dinner.

The evening event was a rather more low key affair this year, as the committee had decided there wasn't the time to do a pantomime justice this year. Instead there was a brief "award ceremony" where prizes were handed out for the chairman's puzzle competition and Ingrid's writing contest from earlier in the week. The latter had received over seventy entries, possibly more people than had attended the course! I honestly don't know how she managed to read all the entries, since her secret appears to be not to sleep!

After this there was a brief singalong, with John Lamont singing Swanwick favourite "500 Words" and the committee regailing us with a rendition of S Club 7's "Reach" that was stuck in delegates heads for at least four days if the comments on Facebook were anything to go by.
 then finally, a last trip to the bar before the final night's sleep.


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2017-08-23 07:16 pm

Swanwick Writers' Summer School: Day Five

I had a surprisingly lazy day on Wednesday. After reading my poem out in the poetry specialist course - and really not enjoying it - I decided to skip the Performance Poetry short course. I didn't feel like taking any of the others (Heroes, Life Writing, Comedy Sketch Writing). In hindsight I wish I'd taken the life writing course, as this isn't something I've ever looked at before (which was also the reason I didn't take it), but by this time I was feeling a little ragged so glad of the extra down time.

I also skipped the workshops on journalism and editing. I probably could have spent the day working on a poem from my new prompt, a glittery purple egg, but spent it chatting, reading, and walking around the lake instead - all time-honoured Swanwick traditions in their own right.

The evening speaker was Imogen Cooper of the Golden Egg Academy and formerly of Chicken House, who gave an informative talk about the academy's services for writers. After were the Page to Stage performances, and another early night for me.

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2017-08-22 05:59 pm

Swanwick Writers' Summer School: Day Four

Tuesday is traditionally the day off, with a minimum of activities and lots of potential for free time. This year there was a short course in the morning, instead of the usual panels and speakers, with a choice of pitching, research, grammar, and mindfulness. I went for mindfulness, as this is something I'd like to bring more into my life. There were several exercises, and the tutor Zana Lamont emphasised the importance of kindness, to ourselves as well as others. The session ended late, with the class engrossed in a video that had half of the delegates in tears by the end.

Alongside the courses ran the Procrastination Free Day, which as in previous years locked two groups of writers in a room to challenge themselves to meet wordcount goals. Several of the other delegates also achieved this by locking themselves in their bedrooms to write, and as a result the bar was surprisingly quiet.

After lunch, overlapping with the end of PFD, were the rehearsals for Page to Stage. I opted to spend most of the rest of the day in my room, binge-reading and also writing a poem for the following day's poetry session. After travel and some heavy socialising it was nice to have some quiet time to myself.

In the evening there was a "chat show" hosted by Simon Hall and interviewing several of the course tutors, followed in the evening by the buskers' night. I skipped both of these as I'd already decided that, this time, it was going to be a true day off.

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2017-08-21 07:59 pm

Swanwick Writers' Summer School: Day Three

Monday is when I start to get the days confused at Swanwick - after all, it's the second day of classes. I spent the whole day convinced it was Tuesday, a trend which continued all week.

The day started with the specialist course. This year, again, I took the poetry course run by Alison Chisholm. We were following the course of the year with poems following the seasons, and today was Winter so Alison gave each of us a glittery snowflake as a prompt, with instructions on how to use the spaces and spokes to generate a poem. We also discussed diary poems, and how these can cover different time periods (hours, days, months).

I had been planning to take the Marketing and Promotion short course, but decided against it in the end. Also on offer were Writing Intimate Scenes, Poetry from Dreams, and Illustrated Picture Books. None of these appealed so I gave them a miss and parked by the coffee machine instead and chatted to other delegates for a while.

Later in the afternoon I took my only workshop of the week Writing for Competitions, run by Ingrid Jendrzejewski. She's won a prodigious amount of competitions since she started entering in 2014, including winning a free trip to Swanwick last year, but she's a nice as she is prolific so it's difficult to hold it against her! She hadn't expected many people to come, but the hall was packed. She rattled through a lot of useful information in the hour, and could really have done with being given a short course slot. At the end of the session she gave us a writing prompt and instructions to write a story or poem, taking into account the guidelines she'd given us, for a competition with a deadline of Wednesday.

Our evening speaker was children's author Cathy Cassidy. I've enjoyed my time at Swanwick a lot more since I stopped feeling like every speaker was compulsory, so I gave her a miss in favour of curling up in bed with a book, and another early night.

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2017-08-20 04:43 pm

Swanwick Writers' Summer School: Day Two

The first full day of Swanwick means choosing a specialist course, one of the long courses that runs throughout the week.
On offer this year were Writing Popular Fiction, Fiction for Children and Young People, Scriptwriting, Non Fiction, and A Year in Poetry.

After the morning session I took myself off to the Book Room, and was glad to see the secondhand table was a hit this year. This is where delegates can donate books about writing they no longer want, and can take some of the offerings in return for a donation to the school. I picked up a copy of The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman, and from the delegates' books a copy of A Route Map to Novel Writing Success: How to Write a Novel Using the Waypoint Method by David Hough.

The short courses for the day were Short Stories, Forensics and CSI, My Voice Will Go With You (about finding your writer's voice) and The Inner Game. The latter was about silencing the monkey mind, the inner critic, and challenging the things it comes up with. Easier said than done, but I learned a useful technique which came in useful later in the week.

As always there was a Facebook and Twitter reception in the main lounge during the afternoon tea break. I intended to go, but got distracted on the way by coffee and chatting, and only remembered an hour later when I saw the pictures on Facebook.

There were three workshops on offer, on running a creative writers' group, journalism, and a briefing for Page to Stage for casting the performances that would take place later in the week. This is the slot I usually sacrifice for quiet time, so I headed back to my room to read before dinner.

Dinner started with a small group of us in the bar celebrating the sale of Val Penny's novel Hunter's Chase to Crooked Cat Books. Then dinner, and our evening speaker Sophie Hannah. She was hilarious and informative, with anecdotes on the inspiration behind her first book and how she came to be writing Poirot continuation novels. Unlike the previous speaker, she's a plotter and outlines her books to within an inch of their life. It works for her - she's nothing if not prolific - but it's not a method of writing I get on with.

After the speaker I took in the start of the poetry open mic, but didn't have the stamina to stick out the whole thing so headed off to bed.

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2017-08-19 04:55 pm

Swanwick Writers' Summer School: Day One

I am, once again, blogging a week late. I took my tablet and some good intentions, but didn't switch it on all week.

The trip up was mercifully uneventful, and we found ourselves outside Derby station waiting for the coach. And waiting. When it eventually arrived it turned out to have been designed for children, in rows of five tiny and uncomfortable seats. I wonder in hindsight if the coach company saw the booking and assumed school meant children, but they've provided coach services often enough in the past to know better.

We arrived late, but there was still enough time to unpack before the Chairman's Welcome. After that was dinner, and our first experience of the new buffet-style dining. I loved it. There was a choice of main (generally two meat, one fish, one veggie), two choices of carbohydrates (potato and rice or pasta) and two vegetable choices. Despite having to queue, everyone was served quickly which left us with plenty of free time before the speaker. This was something that often came up in conversation during the week - how much extra time we found ourselves with, because of that one simple change. It also meant there was a choice of desserts, which usually alternated between multiple cakes, or a choice of cold desserts (including fruit), and one hot option. The down side of this was I ate more puddings than at previous Swanwicks, the up side that several of these were fruit rather than cake.

After dinner was the evening speaker, crime writer Stephen Booth, who was excellent. I don't read a lot of crime (although I'm starting to) but it's always nice to hear other writers' processes - and he's most definitely a pantser. I went along to the book signing and picked up a copy of Dancing with the Virgins, the second in his Cooper and Fry series, which I then spent the rest of the week reading instead of writing.

As always, I headed to bed early as even uneventful travel is tiring and there was a busy week ahead.

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2017-07-29 11:37 am

Swanwick Writers' Summer School: Ten Tips To Make Your Week Better

Further to last year's First Timer's Guide, here's a few more hints and tips to make the week easier for even seasoned Swanwickers. Because let's face it, we all forget this stuff.

1. Bring any writing-related books you no longer need - You can donate them to the school for sale in the Book Room, to raise funds for the school. Bringing them with you automatically frees up the space in your luggage and on your bookshelves for all the books you'll buy at Swanwick.
2. The Hayes gift shop is generally open during the tea and coffee breaks on the programme - You may rarely catch it outside these hours, but generally the tea and coffee breaks are the time to visit. I mention it because I spoke to a Swanwick regular last year who, not realising the opening hours, kept missing it.
3. There is a games room - There's also a giant outdoor chess set in the Quad. It you find yourself with nothing to do (it could happen!), you could play a game.
4. All floors in Lakeside are accessible from ground level - It just depends on which floor you're on and where in the building. As a general rule: rooms on the ground floor are accessible from the far right entrance; rooms on the first floor are accessible from the middle entrance (for the Alan Booth Centre); and rooms on the second floor are accessible from the lefthand entrance (past the Main Conference Hall). Of course, if your room is on the opposite side of the building it may be quicker to take the stairs.
5. The Hayes has at least two bookcases of books for sale - For the price of a donation in the charity tin, you can help yourself. One is opposite the shop, the other in the Lakeside foyer.
6. If you leave dinner at the last minute, you won't have time to get to the loo before the speaker - Seriously, if you're likely to need the toilet in the next hour and a half, leave dinner early. The queues are pretty much what you'd expect from a convention of writers who've been drinking coffee all day and have just started on the wine.
7. Pack layers - Typically for British summers it may or may not be sunny/rainy/stormy/snowing. Plus the Main Conference Hall and some of the other teaching rooms are freezing in the morning, but quickly heat up once they get full of people. You will ultimately be more comfortable if your wear layers so you can take some clothes off without scandalising anyone.
8. The coffee in the bar is better than the coffee in the rooms - If you plan on heading back to your room to get some writing done, take the coffee with you. If you want to get decent coffee in the mornings, leave a little early.
9. If you don't like coffee there are about eight different types of tea - So there's no need to bring teabags with you unless you're particularly fussy. They're in the bar area by the coffee machines and include decaff options (the rooms only have regular). If you're more of a tea drinker, think about taking some tea bags back to your room.
10. The noticeboard in the Vinery is a good place to plan extracurricular events - Last year, we had matchmaking for people who wanted to go on excursions, and an impromptu class on mindfulness. You can also speak to the committee about making an announcement.

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2017-07-22 10:59 am

Bullet Journal - Six Month Update

Six (nearly seven) months in and my Bullet Journal is still going strong.

I've made a couple of changes to the format. Instead of writing a daily log every day I do a weekly spread. It allows me to park weekend tasks on those days, from the beginning of the week, instead of having to either remember them or carry them through every day until I get to the point I can actually do them. It also means less disruption of my routine on the days when I can't check the journal over breakfast (early starts where I have to eat at my desk, for example), since I don't have to prep the log every day.

I've started putting in a deadline calendar each month, but only for the current month. Future deadlines are still going in my diary, along with appointments. It's a little clunky having two books, but the way I look at it is the diary is for the future (and I can leave it at home) and the journal is for now. I don't think I'm quite ready to abandon the traditional diary yet.

I'm still scrapbooking in the back (and a note for future journals is that pritt stick might be better for this than staples!). My Beadhaul comes with a leaflet showing all the beads included, so I've added that as well. So far I've only made a pair of earrings. I've got ideas for a couple of other things but I'm not sure I can translate the ideas out of my head at this point.

It hasn't helped much with my writing, but I think there's a larger issue of balance there, rather than being disorganised. Overall I'm getting more of the day to day things done that used to slip under the radar, so it's definitely working. The only problem is I'm bored with the notebook now and ready for a new one!
clhollandwriter: (Default)
2017-07-02 01:42 pm

Hello #Beadhaul!

Back in April I signed up for a two-monthly bead subscription box called #Beadhaul. I'd just missed the April box, so I've been waiting a while. My first box arrived on Friday, and I was so tired after work I didn't even open it straight away. But when I did I was glad I'd signed up.

There's some stuff in there I wouldn't buy myself (like the acrylic fishes) which is kind of the point, to break out of my comfort zone and keep me interested. The only question is what to do with it all! I'll keep you posted.


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2017-06-22 08:09 pm
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The Paying Market Hippogriff

I've seen, two or three times this month, writers saying that non-paying markets are the norm. There seems to be this myth that paying markets are few and far between, and that's really not the case. I suspect this is a form of The Tiffany Problem: people "know" that markets don't pay because that's what common knowledge says. But the reality is that there are plenty of paying markets out there if you know where to look.

This varies across genres, and non- paying markets seem to be far more prevalent in literary and poetry circles than speculative fiction. Here's the thing: a number of literary and poetry journals don't pay because they're a labour of love. For example journals run by universities, staffed by students, without the budget to pay writers. Some of these are more prestigious than others, and sometimes it's worth not getting paid for appearing in a highly regarded journal or magazine. However sometimes these markets are simply a guy with a blog, posting stories for fun.

There are several ways to look for paying markets. Many writing magazines (certainly here in the UK) include a section of listings. The drawback to this is that you have to wade through all of them, whether or not they're relevant. This is also the case with books like The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook and Poet's Market, with the addition that these quickly go out of date.

Fortunately there are a number of ways to search online:

General market databases
Duotrope - Duotrope contains a searchable database that lets you look for markets by genre and pay rate, among other variables. It leans more towards poetry and literary markets, and has a subscription fee of $5 a month.
The Submissions Grinder - Although technically still in beta, this is a a perfectly functional site with another searchable database. It tends to skew more towards speculative fiction since that's where it originated and where most of the user base lies, but has recently started populating poetry markets and does have a fairly big catalogue of non-genre markets. It's also free.

Both sites also allow for tracking of submissions.

Paying Publications allows for very basic search filtering, and allows for searching of paying poetry markets based on whether a poem is new/already published, already under submission somewhere else, and whether or not the poet is established.
Poets and Writers has a basic searchable database - which doesn't allow for searching by pay rate (see above regarding literary markets!)

Blogs and list sites:
There are also a number of blogs and listing sites that are a useful resource even if not searchable. These are often genre specific.
Dark Markets is for horror markets and offers a very basic filter by publication type (anthology, podcast, etc).
My Little Corner is a blog by author Sandra Seamans that focuses on crime and mystery markets.
Womagwriter is aimed at women's magazine fiction.
Ralan is for speculative fiction markets.

Poet Alison runs the Creative Writing Opportunities List, although please note you need to be logged in to Yahoo to access this.

Facebook groups
There are also several groups you can join on Facebook where opportunities are posted, both paying and non-paying.
Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Pulp Markets.
Crime, Thriller, Mystery Markets.
Poetry, Fiction, Art.

And this one specifically for paying markets.

So, there are plenty of opportunities out there!

If you want to submit to a non-paying market, that's up to you. Sometimes the prestige or opportunity to support a charity is worth the loss of payment. You might not be interested in publishing for money. But please, whatever you do, don't give your work away for free because you don't think anyone will pay, because that's simply not true.

With thanks to Helena Bell and Dan Stout for additional links. Further suggestions welcome in the comments.

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2017-06-08 01:29 pm
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May Update

Even less done in May than April, it feels. I did work on the novella until mid month, but stalled when I hit the contest deadline and there wasn't a sense of urgency any more. I've worked on a couple of poems since, but not much else. I've worked on a couple of beading projects and read some books, but no writing. Work is busy and eating a lot of my bandwidth at the moment. Not much of an update, but that's it.
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2017-05-28 05:12 pm
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Sunday Update

It's amazing how much a bad night's sleep can throw off my day. There was a massive thunderstorm on Friday night, that woke me up twice in the early hours. It meant I was sleep deprived when I got up on Saturday (having been woken twice more by my partner getting ready for work, and a hungry cat). I left my ability to sleep in somewhere in my twenties, the best I can manage is coffee and internet before I get up these days, so I spent most of yesterday stumbling around in a grumpy haze. In the end I spent the whole day reading, punctuated by occasionally getting up to poke the washing machine or the dishes. Probably a good thing in the end. It forced me to take a day to relax, which I don't do often.

Today was more productive. Lots of cleaning, lots of research, lots of admin. I'm applying for a promotion at work so spent some time on the application. I'm also pondering opening an online hobby business, selling handmade jewellery. Still not convinced it will be worth the work and costs though, and it's not like I'm spending enough time writing already.

There are two things left on my To Do list for the weekend: book train tickets, and play computer games. This might be an either/or thing given it's now the evening. It's a bank holiday tomorrow, though, so I can bump things if I have to.
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2017-05-20 08:00 pm
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On Why I Like Eurovision

Last weekend I went round to a friend's to watch the Eurovision Song Contest. A lot of people who know me can't believe I actually like Eurovision, either because they think I'm too serious to enjoy it, or because they think it's crap. The first set of people are ones who don't know me that well, work colleagues and the like. I like plenty of silly stuff, I just draw the line at stupid. The second set are missing the point of why I like Eurovision. It's mostly cheese pop, yes, and some of it's not that great. But it's one of the few things around that exists purely for the joy of it (this year's Belgian entrant who looked like she wanted to cry notwithstanding).

I mean, think about it. The contest is so expensive to run that countries have been known to sabotage their own chances of winning it (I'm looking at you, Ireland). Quite a lot of the acts--winners included--disappear without a trace (certainly in the UK). It can be intensely political, with neighbouring countries voting for each other, and the Russian entry being booed in 2014.

However, despite all this the "big five" (countries who put up a lot of the money and so are guaranteed a place in the final) often don't do that well but pay up anyway. Countries undergoing economic and political crises still take part--for example the ongoing political situation in Ukraine meant it missed but still broadcast the 2015 contest and was back in 2016. Australia likes Eurovision so much it was invited to take part in the 60th anniversary contest in 2015, and got so into things it's been made an official participant. Portugal's win this year was the first in their 53 years of entry.

The whole point of Eurovision is the spectacle. Some of the songs are terrible, yes, but that's guaranteed if you listen to a couple of hours of pop music anywhere. Some of them are great. In recent years some entries have really upped their game on the visual side of things and it's great to watch, like Russia's stunning entry last year. It's amusing to watch for who's taking it seriously and who's not - last year the whole interval act was based on making fun of the contest. If you're in the UK you have the added bonus of Graham Norton upholding previous host Terry Wogan's tradition of snark.

And it's fun to play Eurovision bingo. Multi-lingual song! Fireworks! Mid-song costume change! Wind machine! Traditional dress! Yodeling! Also to baffle at what other countries thought were surefire winners. This year saw a song with both yodelling and rapping, a gorilla on stage, and a man duetting with himself (seriously, watch this one if no others, it's the work of a mad genius).

Everyone seems to be having a good time, which is what matters. We need more of that.

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2017-05-01 12:09 pm
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April Update

I don't feel like I've done much over April. My novella is nowhere near as far along as it should be and I may be too far behind to catch up ( it needs to be finished in two weeks). But when I looked at my calendar I realised I'd written 50% of the days last month so I'm counting it as a win.

It's tough to get back in the habit of writing regularly, especially when working hours aren't regular. It's impossible to set up a routine if I can't guarantee I'll have writing time before work, after work, or at lunch time, or if I'll have to cook  and/or do housework in the evenings. Since my hours vary week to week, I'm just starting to get into a routine when it all changes. Younger me didn't mind so much; today me is fed up with one more thing to keep track of. I feel like I'm wasting mental energy having to remember what time I need to leave the house this week, if I need to take breakfast, do I need to put laundry on before I leave or will there be time to do it when I get home, will I have time to cook and if not do we have soup in, what time should I get to bed.

I'm honestly thinking of writing timings down in my Bullet Journal to save me the bother of remembering. It certainly works for to do lists.

Since it's a bank holiday I'm using today to catch up on writing and blogging, and trying out an experiment in making writing at home like writing at a coffee shop. Although it will be a cat cafe, obviously. More on that later.
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2017-04-18 02:31 pm
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The Trouble with Adulting

To say I'm tired of politics right now is an understatement.

We've got Trump over in the USA, mooning North Korea and apparently trying to start World War Three. He also seems to be trying to find out if it's possible to bankrupt a country through playing golf. From an outsider's perspective, it appears that no one over there actually knows how to deal with a president with no real interest in doing the job, and so they (and by extension the rest of us) are stuck with him for four years.

Here in the UK we have Brexit and the Tories. It probably hasn't escaped anyone's notice that Theresa May's called for a snap General Election, that will coincidentally make the Tory election fraud investigation go away, and probably reduce the opposition to them in Parliament, allowing them to push through a hard Brexit, further dismantling of the NHS, and whatever the hell else they like. The fact that this is on top of the PM saying that Scotland can't have a second referendum on independence because of the "destabilising effect" it will have so close to Brexit is just the cherry on top of the hypocrisy cake as far as I'm concerned. They don't think the possibility of replacing the whole government will be destabilising at all?

Honestly, I don't think they do. None of the other parties will have time to prepare anything like a reasonable campaign, but you can guarantee the Tories have been planning this for some time. The Labour party are tearing themselves apart over Jeremy Corbyn, and I doubt very much will unite behind him for the sake of the country. The Liberal Democrats still haven't been forgiven for the mess they made over the Coalition. There isn't a viable opposition, so what this will do is cement the Tories in power for another five years, with a larger majority, during which they can do whatever the fuck they like.

So I'm angry, and I'm tired. And tired of being angry. I live in a Tory stronghold, prior to that I lived in a Labour/Plaid Cymru stronghold. I've always voted (except that one time I fucked up my postal vote) but my vote has never, ever, made a difference. I keep doing it because otherwise I have no right to complain about the outcome - except it apparently doesn't even give me that these days. I don't think I've seen a single discussion of Brexit that doesn't degenerate into (if it doesn't start with) "You lost, stop complaining and suck it up" from a Brexiteer troll who apparently doesn't understand how democracy works.

Democracy means that even a minority opinion still gets a voice. That's why we have opposition parties. That's why opposition parties get seats in Parliament. There are checks and balances that stop the majority party running roughshod over everything (and yes, that includes the House of Lords). If you're too stupid to understand that you really have no business voting on the X-Factor, let alone the serious business of government. But I guess that's what we get when we treat a referendum like a reality TV show.

And yet, this is how we're doing Brexit. "Brexit means Brexit" and anyone who doesn't agree with Theresa May's vision is told to shut up. All this General Election will do is cement that, because there won't be anyone left in Westminster with a strong enough voice to question. It will further validate the trolls on social media, and all those racists who have come squirming out of the woodwork. Like the woman on the bus a couple of months ago who screeched "EU Out!" at a man who was only guilty of queuing while Spanish. I live in area dependent on tourism and English language schools, but hey let's just send all those kids from the EU home and fuck the economy, shall we.

I think what's made me most angry is the sense that the whole thing is being run by Basil Fawlty. We don't have a plan, or if we do it was written down on the side of a bus somewhere. We want all the benefits of a relationship with the EU, but none of the compromise - tapas bars but not the people who actually run them. I keep hearing that things will be better after Brexit, but so far I haven't seen any proof. And I'm getting tired of asking for it.
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2017-04-11 07:25 pm
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Welcome to my Dreamwidth

So this is my first post on my new Dreamwidth journal, and I don't have a lot to post about. I'm plodding my way through a novella, so behind my intended wordcount that I'm not even going to post a status update. I could probably be doing more in the evenings, but it's hard to get up the motivation after a day at work.

For those who aren't aware, there's a mass exodus from LiveJournal due to their new terms of service. More info here, and here. LJ had been getting quieter anyway as people drifted, but this has prompted a lot of the last holdouts to leave. I do miss the days of community and chatter, so I'm hoping things will perk up over here. I just have to find everyone...

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2017-04-03 09:34 am

March Update

My February #12for12 piece "Essence" was published over at Riddled with Arrows. It's a market that specialises in meta-fiction - writing about writing - so the story is little more than an extended literary joke, but I like it. Not least because I was experimenting with different formats earlier in the year, something flash makes easy to play with, so it's told through the medium of an internet chat log.

Very little writing done in March, other than getting the other oubliette piece out, as mentioned before. Towards the end of the month I wrote a poem, then finished it off and submitted it over the weekend so it counts for April's #12for12. I'm supposed to be spending the next six weeks writing a novella at the rate of 400 words a day, but I had an otherwise rough weekend so I'm already two days behind. It doesn't help that I don't have a name for my main character yet (or even an idea why they're the main character, I'm not sure they are), or an opening scene. I've a good idea where I'm going, just not where to start.

At this point it's still possible to catch up, but I'd better get started soon.
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2017-03-24 09:30 pm
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Some thoughts on Iron Fist

So, this show is a hot mess. This post is going to be chock full of spoilers, because I have a lot of thoughts on why that is from a writing standpoint.

First off - what was that first episode doing? Danny Rand turns up at the Rand building and expects to be welcomed back with open arms. Never mind the fact that he's been gone 15 years and the last time anyone saw him, he was a child. Never mind that fact that he saw his parents die in the plane crash that made him disappear, so should perhaps be aware that everyone thinks he's dead. He just turns up and expects everyone to accept him at face value - he doesn't offer any evidence or personal anecdotes to prove he is who he says he is. He could have convinced both Joy and Ward with the information he uses in later scenes and episodes right up front, but he doesn't because otherwise we wouldn't get to watch him in the psychiatric hospital in the next episode.

Which leads to - Danny Rand is an idiot. The whole show is one long stream of him being Too Stupid To Live, and yet living anyway. In the psychiatric hospital he keeps insisting he survived the crash to be raised by monks as a living weapon with a superpowered fist, in a mystical kingdom you can only get to or from every 15 years - and then wonders why they decide he's delusional. He approaches pretty much every conflict like this, wading in without thought. It gets wearing very quickly. It occurred to me while writing that possibly we're not supposed to be watching him as a 27 year old man, but as the 12 year old boy he was when he was lost. It would certainly make him more understandable. Unfortunately this doesn't come across in either the script or the performance.

To be honest, Danny's not even all that interesting. And he could be, handled differently. Show us more of that lost kid. Show us the culture shock of growing up in K'un-Lun, and of returning home and the struggle to regain an identity. Show us the struggle between his two cultures, birth and adoptive. What we get is trademark rich white vigilante. It's not that interesting and it's been done, and better.

The problem is, there's no conflict in Iron Fist's main character. In Daredevil we see the struggle between Matt's desire to enact justice and his faith. In Jessica Jones we see Jessica's need to stop Kilgrave warring with her need to hide from him and what he made her do. In Luke Cage, we see Luke's desire to get his head down and live a quiet life, and how that conflicts with his desire to protect his community, and others' attempts to do it and him harm. Danny Rand knows he's right and righteous, and acts accordingly. There's no doubt in him ("Doubt is death") and it's really, really dull. All of the supporting characters are more interesting, because they all have conflict, from Colleen struggling with the fact she actually enjoys kicking the shit out of people, to Ward trapped in a corporate hell he can't escape.

Not only are there no inner demons, there aren't any outer ones either. The first seasons of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage all have memorable antagonists (Fisk, Kilgrave, Cottonmouth and Diamondback) and are all fantastic. Season two of Daredevil  wasn't nearly as good, because all we had was an army of faceless ninjas. Iron Fist suffers from the same problem. Who or what is the Hand? What do they want? Who knows? Who cares any more? The Hand is not exactly a hands-on villain.

There's been a lot said on the internet about the fact that the Iron Fist is white. White saviour complex aside I don't have a problem with that because the character was already white in the comics. He is, however, too white. He's supposed to have spent more than half his life growing up in a mystical version of Tibet, but he comes across as a guy who knows how to act but not what it means and is only going through the motions. I read somewhere (and can't find the link now) that all of the main people involved are white, and I suspect that's part of the problem. If you're going to film a show about a fake-Tibetan kung fu master, at least hire someone who can point out things like how to bow correctly, to take your shoes off before you enter the dojo, and how to act like you've spent 15 years living in fake-Tibet instead of New York.

Also, where did Danny learn to drive? That's been bugging me since the start.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
2017-03-12 03:49 pm
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Random Update-Shaped Thing

I've decided to mix things up with my writing magazine subscriptions. I did subscribe to Writing Magazine and Mslexia, but I've got to the point where I no longer look forward to the new issue of Writing Magazine. In fact, when the current issue arrived I thought "oh god, another one" since I still had the previous two on the go. The content has become decreasingly useful - it seems like it's all article writing, and apparenty no venues for short fiction exist except competitions. The only reason I was still getting it was for the market info in the back, but that's become less and less useful since usually I know about a deadline two months before it actually appears in the magazine.

So I've cancelled my subscription. I'm keeping Mslexia, since I do still look forward to that. And since I want to read things that will help with writing short fiction, I paid for a year's subscription to F&SF and ordered the bumper-pack of 8 back issues of Asimov's/Analog. At the very least I'll get something worth reading out of it.

I've also managed to edit and submit the other oubliette piece for #12for12. I really need to start writing some non-flash this year now.