Monthly Archives: April 2012

Writers Event: National Flash Fiction Day

One international event for writers keen on flash fiction:

The National Flash Fiction Day: 16 May 2012

This event, organized by writer and lecturer Calum Kerr, celebrates the short story form. Check the website to know what events are being organized and where, how to get involved, competitions and more. You can also find Calum on Twitter: @calumkerr and follow National Flash Fiction Day here:  @nationalflashfd

To me, short fiction starts from the drabble – strictly 100 words only (stipulations can be made for including or excluding the title from this word count), then moving up to double or triple drabble. From 500 words upward it’s definitely flash fiction, up to the 1500/2000 words, and then we enter the realm of short stories. Others may think differently, though.

What’s your take on flash fiction and short fiction?

I want to read more in the field of short stories, but I do have one short stories collection to recommend:

love songs for the shy and cynical by Robert Shearman

I had the chance to meet Robert Shearman during my CW MA. Yes, he came with the shiny aura of being that Robert Shearman, Daleks writer extraordinaire (TV geeks unite), and also with the warmest personality and copies of his short stories collection. He signed it, I read it, I loved it. (I will review it in this blog soon).

As to flash fiction, have you written any? I have, and love it. The form is incredibly precise and restrictive, especially if you go for the strict word count, as I do. And yet, as the Oulipo theorists have shown, constraints can and do promote creativity, forcing writers to come up with innovative ways of writing. To know more about the Oulipo, you can check their website here (in French), a list of books written by Oulipo writers on the website Conversational Reading, and yes, wikipedia if you have to 😉

Do you like constraints in your writing (a fixed word count, a set theme, etc)?

 

This entry counts for MNINB April Platform Challenge Days 19, 20 and 21 (new post; editorial calendar; social media management tool)

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MNINB April Platform Challenge Day 17 and 18

The back issues I mentioned in my previous entry on Sartre and Backpain are back with a vengeance – another reminder for all writers out there, and everyone spending long hours sitting: look after your back, stand up and walk regularly, exercise if you can. More on back pain causes, symptoms and treatments on this site: Back Pain Advice.

April 17: take part in a Twitter conversation

I missed the MNINB chat, although I’ve participated to other chats in the past. In part it’s a question of time zones and being asleep when the rest of the world is awake (it feels like it, sometimes).

Anyway, there’ll be other Twitter chats 🙂 I’ll check the #MNINB convo and contribute, if later.

April 18: think about SEO

SEO: Search Engine Optimization. One of those big social networks words! Most important about this task is considering what content (if any) you want to offer and how aligned your blog is to your goal. It’s the biggest question of all (and yes, you can use keywords to make your blog’s content easily found, but that’s more of a technicality).

As I said before, I’m working on an editorial plan for this blog, in order to give myself a schedule for posting and focus on the topics I’m most interested in discussing here. I’m taking my time with it, although it’ll have to be flexible by necessity, because I want to be able to stick with a schedule until the end of this year.

And just like in the social media networks of today, everything is connected (and sometimes illuminated 😉 I need to decide on content in order to find my audience in order to schedule posting in order to use the best keywords in order to be found in order to establish a connection 🙂

Are you struggling with finding your topic? Your target audience? Do you want a target audience? It does sound all very …cold and marketing-speech like.

What I want is to write about the things I’m passionate about, and communicate it to others. There. Much better 🙂

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MNINB April Platform Challenge: Day 14, 15, and 16

April 14: create a Google+ profile

Oh oh. Shall I be all rebellious and ignore this day’s challenge? I’m sorely tempted, but I believe for

a good reason. I find it already hard to follow the networks I’m following at the moment, and adding another one…it doesn’t seem practical, for me, in terms of time management. Moreover, I’d like to really make connections on the networks I’m already on, and it takes time, and time is of essence. Perhaps when I’ve learned to use HootSuite to its maximum and I feel confident I can do a good job of it, and not just a copy and paste thing.

Ergo, my apologies, but for the moment, I’m postponing Google+.  Sorry, MNINB 😀

April 15:connect with at least three new people on one of your social networks

Done 🙂 That’s the easy part. I like to follow someone for a week or two, to get to know them a little bit, before interacting (commenting, etc). so it may take a while. But it will happen.

April 16 add an e-mail feed to your blog

Easy peasy 🙂 I did it a couple of weeks ago. There are a few blogs I’ve started following by email, and it’s great to receive it directly in the inbox. 🙂

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MNINB April Platform Challenge: Day 13

I’m really enjoying doing this challenge. I hope the habit of fiddling with my blog/twitter/linkedin accounts will stick!

April 13: link yesterday’s blog post to your social networks

Done already (go me) so I added two more tasks (self-inflicted, and yes, I liked homework, even when I was lazy and wouldn’t do it):

-check and use the URL shortener sites (I likehttps://bitly.com/ )

-explore HootSuite as a way to manage my Twitter stream specifically. I’ve already learned I need to re-organize my Twitter lists, because I can visualize them side by side in the HootSuite dashboard (which is something I wanted o’so badly)

The next days will prove tough, cause the same family emergency which caused me to start this challenge late is resurfacing: but maybe my management skills have improved!

How do you deal with managing your time? It’s always such a hard thing to do for me! I would love to know how you cope (or not 😉

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A Tip about WordPress: how not to lose that precious draft!

Last night I had a temper tantrum, because I lost the draft of the post I’ve been working on for an hour. It happens. My typing fingers accidentally clicked on some random key, and it all disappeared from the screen.

How not to lose that precious draft

In case, like me, you didn’t know it, at the top of the ‘new post’ page there’s a little tab called Screen Options.

Click it, and you’ll see several options. One of these is called ‘revisions‘.

If you click it, every time you save a draft, a link to the new version will appear below your post.

In case you have trigger fingers like me, pushing keys all over the keyboard, or change your mind, or if a black out strikes…you’ll find all the saved versions of your draft there, and with one click, you’ll be able to recuperate them!

WIN /

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TV Moment: Big Bang Theory and hard-working brains

TV MOMENT: posts about Television programs, shows, issues, from an academic point of view. Ergo, sometimes, big words! I’d love to hear your opinion and comments, and not just academics ones: in this blog, Media Fans (aka geeks) are more than welcome 🙂

TV MOMENT:Big Bang Theory Rocky Montage

(the link takes you to YouTube, embedding was not available by request)

I only recently started watching The Big Bang Theory TV series. My initial hostility was biased: “Not another ‘funny white hetero losers’ sit com, please.” Due to external circumstance, a couple of weeks ago I happened to watch two episodes (in the UK, on the E4 channel at 6pm). Then I watched the episodes on the following day. And the following day. And the following day.

And I was hooked.

In terms of funny, white, hetero, losers:

-it is funny. Where does it come from? For me, Sheldon’s literal interpretation of the world; seeing my hobbies both validate and ridiculed (that visual representation space is always, always ambiguous); getting the geeky references so familiar to me (and if not familiar to me, familiar to other geeks I know)

-it’s mostly white (I can see the in my mind the post colonial essays on Raj and his – alleged? – Americanization, his family’s Skype conversations making for a global communication world, his sister inhabiting an uncertain disruptive space between tradition, culture and emancipation…and so on)

-hetero…again, there’s that annoying, ambiguous visual space where you can see heterosexual couples following the dictates of society, but you also have (because producers are smart and clever and know the wider the audience, the better) the somewhat obligatory bromance and different takes on hetero-activity – Sheldon and Amy’s relationship develops along very peculiar trajectories.

-losers. Uhm. I’d say no, but apparently it doesn’t matter if you have friends, hobbies, a good job. The contemporary take is that you’re a loser if you don’t have a girlfriend (again, heternormativity at work), which is a big part of the show’s premise.

Back to the fabolous clip from the show: Big Bang Theory Rocky Montage

This moment made me laugh out loud.  Eisenstein’s theory of montage (Soviet montage theory) considered editing a method of juxtaposing shots to derive new meaning that did not exist in either shot alone. Not just one shot after the other in a chronological and causal relationship, but one shot on top of the other, one shot against the other.Thus creating a new text, a new meaning.

In this clip, Sheldon and Raj are standing still, rigid, staring at the equations-filled whiteboard. The montage matches several shots of them occupying different spaces in the office but always, always in unique relation to the whiteboard, with the theme from Rocky’s training exercises (Eye of the Tiger by Survivor). Which is an energetic, pulsating, adrenaline-infused rhythm, whose connection with the film Rocky and his hard boxing training evokes the idea that Sheldon and Raj’s brains are, in fact, hard at work, with all the sweaty pathos of the boxer Rocky, but not an inch of movement (apart from the painkiller request, a brief pause of silenced music).

Hilarious.

The Comedic Paradox at work, and brilliantly so: repetition, inversion and the comedic paradox (as initially argued by French philosopher Henri Bergson in 1900, in his Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic).

“Life presents itself to us as evolution in time and complexity in space. Regarded in time, it is the continuous evolution of a being ever growing older; it never goes backwards and never repeats anything. Considered in space, it exhibits certain coexisting elements so closely interdependent, so exclusively made for one another, that not one of them could, at the same time, belong to two different organisms: each living being is a closed system of phenomena, incapable of interfering with other systems. A continual change of aspect, the irreversibility of the order of phenomena, the perfect individuality of a perfectly self-contained series: such, then, are the outward characteristics–whether real or apparent is of little moment–which distinguish the living from the merely mechanical. Let us take the counterpart of each of these: we shall obtain three processes which might be called REPETITION, INVERSION, and RECIPROCAL INTERFERENCE OF SERIES. Now, it is easy to see that these are also the methods of light comedy, and that no others are possible.”

And there I was, laughing, as these two brainy physicists were stuck in a staring contest with a whiteboard, a matter of life and death to them, the most serious of task, over and over (repetition), highlighted by the music recalling Rocky (inversion: not muscles, but brains working hard) and the overall effect, the paradox, is created.

I’d love to hear comments and opinion on this post, the Big Bang Theory or anything else you feel relevant 🙂

ETA: This post is also my April 12 entry for MNINB’s April Platform Challenge!

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MNINB April Platform Challenge: Day 11

And I’m on track for this!

April 11: share a useful article or blog post with your social network.

This is not difficult at all: I like sharing stuff (and by that, no, I don’t mean personal and/or embarassing TMI moments. Although, I have to say, in person I can be quite candid and I have no problems answering personal questions; I believe in sincerity and not in secrets. Another proviso: I do believe in keeping someone else’s secrets! I’m also extremely good at it 🙂

Anyway, back to the point: sharing useful information is fun, easy to do nowadays (just a click or two). So, here I go: two blog posts for writers, and one for those interested in ‘human marvels’ (as I am).

From the website Writer Unboxed, this post about copywriting by Jane Friedman, and this one about Goodreads by Crystal Patriarche.

Both informative, and good reminders of basics (we can all get wrapped in panic and forget those basics).

The Human Marvels: this is a gorgeous site, choc-full of visuals and information.  My take on Other is that it’s not visible, it’s not Alien, it’s not Freak: Other is Within. And by reclaiming those we call freaks, we may start looking within for Otherness.

Let me know what you think about these links, I hope you may find them of use (I did) 🙂

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MNINB April Platform Challenge Catch up! 6 to 10

Following from this previous post, here follows the rest of MNINB April Platform Challenge Catch up.

April 6: read and comment on another blog.

Done 🙂 On two blogs, in fact. I don’t comment much on blogs, tbh, mostly due to the format of blogging. On Livejournal, I can see the stream of the journals I follows (much like a Twitter stream) in one page, and there I comment regularly and frequently. I do completely understand, however, and see the fairness of it all: why should someone comment on my blog if I don’t do the same? It’s only courtesy. On the other hand, I’ve only recently properly following blogs, so I don’t yet have many I follow daily/regularly – I also ADORE the ‘follow by email’ option, which allows me to read in my inbox.

April 7: add share buttons to your blog

I’ve done this recently. At the moment, if you look at the side bar, you can follow me on Twitter, by email, pinterest…and something else, I believe. Can’t use AddThis on WordPress (WordPress doesn’t allow plugins for security reasons, fair enough), but I think if one wants to follow me, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

April 8: create a LinkedIn profile

Had one for a little while, but not doing much with it. Here it is: Sil on LinkedIn. However, I believe that’s the most complete profile I have out there (and possibly a better one than the one here on this blog)(uhm, chances for updating then 🙂

April 9: respond to at least three Tweets today

I like re-tweeting (RT) although I still have to master the art of adding my own comment to a RT (unless copy&paste is the only option, in which case, well, okay).  In any case: done 😀

April 10: do a search on your name (images, too)

Google:

my blog is the first result! And the second, third, fourth, and fifth. Three images from this blog in the first ten images results.

My name appears first with my Graphic Scotland profile (note to self: make sure profile is up to date), a couple of those annoying spam sites with as much of your data as possible, my flash fiction linked on the Creative Writing MA blog, and my old Highlander: the TV series fanfiction, more than ten years old! LOL 🙂 Image results: good, my logo for Graphic Scotland, the covers of a couple of books I contributed to.

Bing

Blog: Fourth result in the first page (and another one towards the end of the page). Images: none.

Name: some results (academic, and as in yahoo). Images: one book cover (I contributed an illustration for a short story).

Yahoo

Blog: third in the first page (and another one further down). Images: none (although, many gorgeous photos of ruined  and rusty machines).

Name: another one of those spam sites, and similar to Yahoo, plus a mention in the Encyclopedia of Buffy Studies. Images: book cover (I contributed an illustration for a short story).

General results: I think people can find me, if they want to. On the other hand, how embarrassing is it to google yourself? A lot!  I really have to improve on my shyness – which is not as strong in person, or at all, but definitely predominant on the net.

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MNINB: April Platform Challenge Catch Up! 1 to 5

I have read many blogs with wise advice for building your platform. My Name Is Not Bob’s April Platform Challenge seemed like a good opportunity to just get back on the saddle and blog regularly. I’m also developing an editorial schedule for blog posts, which will start after this challenge ends. I’ll introduce my schedule in a future post, with added thoughts about blogging and platform development.

Here’s my catching up effort, all in one post to avoid spamming the world.

APRIL 1: In one sentence, who am I?

Some of the work I’ve done, publications and interests are in the ‘about me’ pages, my art, pas|time, and studies pages. It’s always hard to present oneself bi-dimensionally, ink on paper: it feels strained, forced, arrogant at best and pompous at worst. It maybe a cultural trait, but I suspect more a family one – Italians are not exactly known for being demure, are they? But, in one sentence, as the challenge requests of me:

I’m a passionate being with a penchant for monsters, aliens, strays and inventive experiments of writing and art ; I felt like a foreigner in my own country, so I moved to another, and now my feelings are (a tad more) justified: I write and draw, I could do with a part time job, and wondering what-ifs and finding answers, no matter how gory or dark or hopeless or carnally sexual, it’s the best fun I have.

(I feel I cheated, but at least it’s there:)

APRIL 2: Set some goals for yourself.

Things to look forward to, to make happen, to work for and toward: motivation begets production begets results…

Short-term goals:

-complete the April Platform Challenge

-finish the second draft of my novel by the end of May

-revise short fictions by the end of June

-write new material according to plan (ongoing)

-edit and revise novel by July

-plan second novel by September

-refine planned trilogy of alt historical novels By December

Long-term goals:

-find a part time job complementing my writing activity

-take care of my back issues (involves exercising and losing weight and perhaps surgery)

-publish my novel/s

-age with grace

(Too much and too vague, perhaps, but I’ll come back to this list and refine it, make it more detailed/specific)

 

APRIL 3: Create a profile on Facebook

This is somewhat tricky. I do have a Facebook profile but I consider it personal, and my friends there are people I’m friends with in Real Life, not necessarily writers or even interested in narrative at all. Since I moved away from Italy, I also use it to keep in touch with my family, and the friends I left behind. In a way, this particular Facebook profile is the one where I would post the contents of my breakfast, and I believe very few potential readers of this blog would be interested in that sort of information 🙂 I suppose this means I need an official page. With my full name and all. I remember when we had no internet, and the first acute paranoia of having your name out there in the WWW is still very strong within me: once something is net-published, it stays net-published.

I shall consider creating an official profile page. In fact, I have created one, but I’m still hiding it. Shyness is not conducive to writers, is it? 🙂 In future posts, I shall reveal it, when I can overcome the sense of exposure.

APRIL 4: create a Twitter account

This is easy. You can see my latest Tweets on the side bar of this blog, and there’s one of those nifty little buttons people can use to follow me there. My handle is not, however, my byline. Again, a flaw of mine, I suppose, but I also created my Twitter account a few years ago, when my dreams of writing as a profession were just that (I made life changing decisions, and I’m so happy about that). My name is, however, Silvia, so @Sil_ontwit is not that far away.

 

APRIL 5: create a blog

This one, this one! I wrote in a previous post some of my thoughts around blogs, journals and online presence in general. Not everyone is a fast writer (and yes, I write in a second language, which is my own choice, but still at times presents its own challenges) and I’d rather write my narratives than spend time on Social Media.

However, the blog is here: I chose the title not thinking about my by-line, once again failing at putting myself out there as I should. On the other hand, my full name, email, twitter and blog address are on my business cards: people I meet in person do know how to find me. At some point I may change this blog’s name with my byline, or add it somewhere. If you’d like to know how I chose the name Dead Machinery, read this post.

 

This is Part 1  of my April Platform Challenge Catch up! 5 to 10 in following post.

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The best laid plans

I spent January and February getting more confident with social media and Twitter in particular. I was also sieged by snow for the whole of February (the first three weeks of constant snow-falling in Italy since 1956!).

So I made plans. The best plans always go astray, don’t they? March was dedicated to planning, and exercising my back’s muscles – it doesn’t seem like a lot, but it was, and it was painful, too.

April was when I would start implementing my best plans:

1) Follow My Name is Not Bob‘s April Blog Writing Challenge.

2) Rewrite the second draft of my historical lit  Cronenberg-does-Victoriana novel.

Ops. The best plans.

Two family emergencies*, two different people in hospital, set of two grand-kids to look after.

My Name is Not Bob’s April Challenge it’s up to day 7 now, so I need to catch up to seven days of it, whereas my novel’s second draft is looking at me with Gothic-tainted menacing (virtual) eyes.

But. I will catch up. I will sit here tonight when everyone is (finally) in bed and catch up. Watch this space, and feel free to share your horror stories concerning the best plans and the devilish stratagems the gods come up with in order to change them.

*luckily, both are now recovering.

Robert Burns’ poem To a Mouse, 1786

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren’t alone]
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.

John Steinback used this poem as the source for his 1937 novel’s title: Of Mice and Men

Robert Burns John Steinbeck

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