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Just Jot It January: Day twenty three…

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Just a quick one, to fulfill my JJIJ obligations before I start work on today’s proper writing.

I’ve been doing an art project with Audrey this afternoon, constructing the cardboard models that were part of a Minion annual she got for Christmas, so I thought I’d feature them in another little gif.

Happy Saturday everyone.

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#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day twenty two – The Sunshine Award…

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For today’s JJIJ post, I’m grateful to receive John Howell‘s nomination for the Sunshine Blogger Award, which I was also nominated for a couple of years ago, when THIS happened.*

This time, I’m going to break with my contrary tradition of not answering the questions attached to the nomination, simply because I don’t have the time to come up with another Tenuous Lynx post.
So think yourselves lucky.

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John’s questions (and my answers) are as follows;

1. Have you ever fallen in love with a character (Yours or someone else’s)?
Not that I can think of, not in a book anyway. If we’re talking movies, then any part played by Audrey Hepburn.

2. What is the hardest part of a story or an article for you to write?
Hahaha, well, given my recent diversion into open-ended storylines, (The Wrong Stuff, Starship Gypsies and the unfinished sci-fi masterpiece story, Deus Ex Machina) I think I’d have to say endings. Although many of my plots seem to arrive in my head basically complete, my problem is getting lost in writing it and finding out that I’ve gone from A – B via D, K and Y and have to think of a way of getting back to where I left off.

3. Do you ever get into a “writer’s block” situation and if so how do you get out?
Ummm, not as such, because I just talk rubbish most of the time anyway and I don’t have a strict posting schedule. But if you’re talking about fiction specifically, I tend to make stuff up as I go along and it just seems to come to me, once I’ve got the starting and end points of the story.

4. If not how do you avoid it?
By not writing if I don’t feel like it, I suppose. There’s no point in staring at a blank screen when I could be doing something else. But I love doing it so much that it rarely happens.

5. What is the best part of being a writer or blogger?
I’m beginning to think the answer to that may well be “the community”, because I really enjoy the network of other writers and bloggers who I’ve met in the last three years or so. Social media is ok for entertainment, but unless I count the many arguments I’ve had about US gun control, it isn’t exactly a debating platform for an intelligent exchange of views and ideas.
Which is fine, don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook, but the blogging community is a unique and extraordinary thing. I’d never suspected there was so much talent and imagination out there to be discovered.

6. How do you keep yourself motivated to write?
Just the fact that I have the opportunity to do so is enough for me. I’m properly hooked.

7. Do you need noise or quiet when you write?
I very rarely get to have total peace and quiet, with three of us in a small flat, but I can cope with a little background noise. If there’s a lot of talking going on in the room I’m trying to write in, (Audrey does have a habit of giving a running commentary on everything she does, which is a little like having someone recite a list of random numbers in your ear whilst you try and solve algebra problems) I will sometimes put headphones on. I like having music on when I’m writing, but then I like having music playing when I’m doing pretty much anything.

8. What is the way you celebrate when you write something that makes you proud?
That’s very decent of you sir, I’ll have a nicely chilled pint of dry cider if you’d be so kind. (Note to Americans: “Cider” is not “Apple juice”, it’s what I believe you refer to as “rough cider” or something)

So now you know.

The important part of these awards is obviously paying the compliment forward, so I’m going to pick five blogs that have made an impression on me recently and whose work I think is worth your time checking out.

They are…

The yellow paper road.

Her headache.

Fiddledeedee books.

Books music and movies.

Promptly written.

…go over and say hi, tell them dalecooper57 sent you.

And because I can’t resist mixing things up a little, instead of posing questions for you to answer, (although you are of course free to answer the same ones I did, I’d be interested to hear what you have to say) I’d like you to post a favourite photo that you took which represents “sunshine”, to follow the theme of the award.

Thanks again to the inestimable Mr John Howell for the nomination, this has been Just Jot It January for day 22, see you tomorrow.

#JusJoJan

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* That link really is worth checking out, for a wealth of music, video and other random entertainment.

 

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Just Jot It January: Day twenty one…

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I’m just jotting a quick update for today’s JJIJ post, because I’ve just received yet another award nomination and I’d like to be able to do it justice in its own post later on.

So…

Since I told you my exciting news the other day, about being given a second opportunity to have my work published, I have sent in a story that I wanted to include in Stories In Green Ink, but which was too long to fit the submission criteria.
Well, I heard back from the publisher yesterday that it has been accepted. Yay!

Not only that, but I also managed to sort out the problem that some of my American readers were apparently having with finding the book on the US Amazon site.
I got this response to my e-mail;

“Hello,

I checked our US website and can confirm your Kindle book is indeed live and buyable at a list price of $6.99.

Please be assured that the book can be downloaded to all Kindle devices and applications.

If you still think they didn’t receive the correct version, you can ask them to contact our customer service at this toll-free number, 1-866-216-1072 and they will be able to push the content to you.”

So now you know.

But if you’d like to go directly to the right page, here are those links in full:

U.S. readers go HERE for both formats.

U.K. readers go HERE for Kindle or HERE for paperback.

And, just in case you think I’m only interested in plugging myself, (like the blogslut I most assuredly am) here are a couple of random artistic oddities I made.

A gif of a galaxy…

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…and Fuckface von Clownstick in the role he was born to play; an unprincipled presidential candidate in Stephen King’s The Dead Zone.

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You’re welcome.

#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day twenty…

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I’m beginning to think that Just Jot It January is some sort of jinx, what with all the public figures dropping dead left, right and centre.

Just in the last week or so we’ve lost David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Alan Rickman and Dale Griffin from Mott the Hoople, and now I wake up to the terrible news that Queen Elizabeth has passed away.

Apparently she was taken ill with a nasty case of hypothermia whilst snowboarding in the back garden at Balmoral yesterday and died later from complications resulting from overdoing the Jaegerbombs in an attempt to warm up.
Prince King Charles has asked that the royal family be allowed their privacy in this, his hour of celebration grief.

Ok, that’s not actually true.

But how many of you stopped reading in shock after the first paragraph and googled “Queen Elizabeth dead”?

I’m hoping very few of you, because I like to think my readers are somewhat brighter than that (plus, you probably noticed that this post was tagged “hoaxes”; a bit of a giveaway in itself) and you don’t just automatically believe something on the basis that “it’s on the internet, so it must be true”.

But not everyone online has your finely-tuned analytical faculties (or “bullshit detectors” as I prefer to think of them) and many people will indeed take anything they see as they cruise the information superhighway as the gospel truth.

Facebook appears to be one of the most densely packed credibility minefields for the gullible to pick their way through, with idiotic memes and nonsensical “facts” being posted almost every day by the less discerning web surfer.

I could understand if these cheeky attempts to con people into believing rubbish were in some way humorous or satirical, (it’s easy enough to manufacture reasonably convincing spoofs these days, with all the gadgets, apps and simple technology available to us at the touch of a button) here’s one that took me two minutes to make just now…

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…but so many of the allegedly plausible posts I see scrolling past, often posted by friends I know to be intelligent and articulate in any other situation, are so demonstrably bollocks that it amazes me they manage to get through anyone’s bullshit filter without setting off all the alarms on first reading.

For instance, here’s a perennial favourite, the inane response to a con that I’m sure you’ve seen on the Facebook newsfeed, one which seems to do the rounds on a regular basis;

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Now, I understand that unchecked optimism can lead to the odd lapse in judgement, but surely nobody realistically believes that Mr Zuckerberg got rich by randomly giving his money away to strangers, (especially when he has all those diapers and babysitters to pay for) so what makes anyone think it’s even worth reposting this stuff?

And then there are things like this next one, which I really can’t get my head round.

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Why somebody would fabricate this sort of pseudo-medical nonsense to start with is completely beyond me.
Apart from anything else, there is a very real risk of someone actually taking it seriously and, relying on the idea that, if you get chest pains the best thing to do is have a nice refreshing glass of water and go to bed, could very well result in you waking up dead.

Not all of these memes are dangerous of course.
How about the much-reproduced post that claims to be the “last words of Steve Jobs”..?

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…it isn’t exactly malicious, but I doubt his loved ones appreciate their deceased friend or family member’s image being hijacked, in order to service some personal agenda or bid for notoriety.

And yet thousands of people have unthinkingly shared it without even the slightest suspicion that, amongst other things;
a) as a confirmed atheist, Jobs was unlikely to be thinking of God at all, let alone giving him column inches in his epitaph,
b) he would have posted something that was written with such peculiar phrasing and grammar (particularly given Jobs’ well documented perfectionism), or
c) he had such a long and cheesy speech ready to quote at the last minute, even if he’d had the strength or inclination to self-eulogize to such an extent anyway.

Jobs isn’t the only victim of posthumous image fraud of course, there are many others whose pictures have been manipulated for fun or mischief, (like my Dr MLK meme at the start of this post) the best known of which is probably one of the variations on photos of Albert Einstein…

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…and, most recently, this photo of the late, great David Bowie and his old mate, Lemmy…

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…which is a nice piece of fan-generated wish fulfillment, but the original photo featured Lemmy and his French girlfriend.

So, how do you avoid the crushing disappointment/cringing embarrassment of posting something that is less realistic than The Donald’s hairline?
You use Snopes of course, either that or Hoax Slayer, that way you can post away to your heart’s content and not worry about being ridiculed by your online peers for a Facebook faux-pas.

I know a lot of you are thinking; “What a patronising bastard, we’re not stupid you know!”, but there is at least one person reading this who will be glad of a fact checker (you know who you are, hahaha) and I’m sure they’ll make good use of it in the future too.

#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day nineteen…

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I had already decided on a subject for today’s JJIJ post and I was ready to roll out some medium-grade snarking and pithy witticisms on the subject of internet gullibility, but then I got an e-mail and had a change of plan.

I’m sure the snarkiness will keep until tomorrow, it’s always good to have a post in reserve after all, and I have exciting news which my inner blogslut just won’t allow me to keep to myself.

Well, I’m excited anyway.

I doubt this is going to be much of a shock to anyone who has been following me for longer than a couple of months, but my excitement revolves around Stories In Green Ink, the anthology of short fiction by new writers that includes my first published work.

image I know I’ve been plugging the collection for a while now, but today I heard from Catherine Broughton, the nice lady who took submissions for the book in the first place, and she gave me some more good news.

Not only has the Kindle edition of the book now been updated to include a third story of mine but, since there were some changes required on the paperback version, and whilst the printers are making the alterations, I’ve been given the opportunity to have the extra story included in that one too.

Ok, not that thrilling, you may be thinking to yourself, but Catherine also informed me that I (and one other writer who contributed to the book) have been asked to supply a story for a second anthology!

Exciting, right?

So I’m going to have to choose another of my SoCS-inspired pieces of short-order fiction to grace the pages of the new collection.
I did, of course, ask Catherine if she knew why I’d been chosen to contribute for a second time (I assumed my name had been pulled out of a hat, as it was when I got to dedicate Stories In Green Ink) but she said, and I quote;

“Why were you chosen? Because they like your work!”

Well I’m happy with that.

#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day eighteen…

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For this, the 18th installment of Just Jot It January, I thought I’d give you an update on Brian, our unofficial pet.

Nearly six months ago, Brian arrived in our back garden (or rather, since he was lost, maybe “failed to arrive somewhere else” would be more accurate) and showed no sign of wanting to leave.

He was a bit cautious to begin with, but regular meals and non-threatening behaviour on our part seem to have helped him settle in to a daily routine.
He now comes fluttering down from the roof when we go and sit out for a morning coffee, strutting about and making that weird hooting noise that pigeons make, until one of us rewards him with a pile of seed from the pot we keep in the (now securely anchored) gazebo, especially for him.

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Brian has become less picky in the time that he’s been with us, now actually eating the wild bird food we have for the less-refined natives of the neighbourhood, instead of insisting on the sunflower seeds that he would only eat when he first appeared last August.

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As you can see, he now has his full winter plumage, with some rather fetching iridescent patches of green and purple, after having gone through a somewhat less dignified period of moulting, when it looked like he had mange and his throat went completely bald.
He’s even started associating with the local wildlife to a certain degree, sometimes sharing a branch with another (less well-bred) pigeon or one of the collared doves that frequent the patio, although he is still very protective of his personal seed pile.

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“You lookin’ at my seed?”

The only possible danger Brian faces now, is from the attention of the two cats that have moved in next door, one of whom is showing an unhealthy interest in our feathered friend. But he seems to have got into the habit of checking to see if the coast is clear before venturing down from the roof, so he may not be quite as bird-brained as we thought.

Having said that, he does occasionally seem to have trouble determining what constitutes a balanced diet.

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“Now, do I eat salad, I can’t remember..?”

{photos by Rhonda}

#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day seventeen…

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Right, one last play with my new gif maker this morning, because Audrey wanted to participate in JJIJ again, after her Star Wars poster was so popular.

So here she is and, yes, she is like this almost all the time…

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…and then there’s this, a joint effort by the pair of us;

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Ok, ok, I’ll go and write SoCS now.

Later…

#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day sixteen…

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For today’s JJIJ post, I thought I’d get creative with a new gadget.

I’ve been trying to find a decent gif making app for a while and I seem to have discovered a pretty good free one, so I had a play with it last night and came up with these three; the first was a test to try out the video gif maker and the other two are created from existing photos.

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Then this afternoon, I couldn’t resist having another go, before I began this week’s SoCS post, (which I still have to write after this one) and I decided to try a doodle.
See what you think…

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Right, I’d better get on with actually writing something, see you later…

#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day fifteen…

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Day fifteen of JJIJ and it’s been one of those days.

My phone and Wi-Fi signal has been dropping in and out all day, I’ve got a bloody great crack in my windscreen (that’s a “windshield” to you, my American-speaking readers) that I can’t afford to fix, but have got to because my MoT is due next month, and to top it all I just had my card declined in the supermarket, resulting in the undignified process of me unloading my shopping at the checkout, while a disapproving woman in a paisley headscarf stood and glared down her nose at me for having the nerve to inconvenience her by being broke.
She didn’t seem inclined to offer to pay for my shopping, thereby speeding her on her way, so I smiled politely and apologised to the rest of the queue in general, (all of whom seemed to have important things to be looking at elsewhere all of a sudden) nodded cheerfully at Scarf Lady and left, shoppingless.

Now I just want to sit down to dinner and relax.
So here’s a nice picture of this evening’s sunset.
See you tomorrow.

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#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day fourteen…

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As we reach the end of week two of Just Jot It January, it occurs to me (after reading some of the other posts that follow today’s prompt; “motivation”) that there are almost as many reasons for writing a blog as there are bloggers writing them.

I suppose it isn’t all that surprising, given the fact that everyone is unique and we all want something different from life, which explains why everyone has their own personal set of criteria for what makes blogging worthwhile.

For now though, I’m more interested in finding out why one blogger in particular chooses to do what they do.

Namely, me.

Because, if I’m honest, I really have no idea.

The only reason I’ve decided to break my self-imposed rule to try this month’s challenge without resorting to Linda G Hill’s prompts, is that I have been asked several times recently why I write, or what “inspires” me to do so, and I realised that it’s not something I’ve ever really thought about.

I had little or no interest in the internet until the arrival of smartphones, but as soon as I got my hands on the first primitive version of this incredible, science fiction-like pocket computer that we all now take for granted, I was hooked almost immediately.
And my first addiction was Facebook.

Initially, the nostalgic novelty of being able to reconnect with old school friends was enough to suck me into the social network, but after it became clear that I could communicate with an endless supply of other users, all over the world, people I’d never even heard of before, let alone met, I began to really have fun.

I have always loved language; the way words work, the etymology of communication and the way sentences seem to just flow when they spill from the word processor, typewriter or pen of certain writers.
The way that writers like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett could turn an everyday phrase into a comedic gem by adding a couple (or a few) extra words, words that didn’t strictly need to be there, but oh, you were glad of their understanding of what gave those extra words power.
The way that those little black marks on a page can form pictures in your head fascinated me, even as a child, but it had just never occurred to me to try to translate that wonder into pictures of my own.

But once I began to write smartass comments on Facebook and construct little rants and memes of my own, mainly for my own entertainment, I found the idea of having a platform of my own, from which I could address the vast expanse of the Weird Wide Web, increasingly attractive.
This first dabbling in virtual creativity coincided with my introduction by a  mutual friend to the extraordinarily talented blogger, author, globetrotting urban explorer and all round bohemian, Mr Darmon Richter, who encouraged and assisted me in making my bumbling way into the blogosphere.

Meanwhile, WordPress made the process of getting started an idiot-proof experience, even for someone with my Olympian level of idiocy with all things internet related and Diary of an Internet Nobody was born.

And then I started writing stuff down. I didn’t know any better.

As anyone who knows me personally will tell you, I can talk.
And talk.
So, with an audience of, theoretically, several billion, I just started writing what I’d say if I was talking to you, (until you surreptitiously looked at your watch and mumbled about needing to be somewhere, anywhere, urgently) I didn’t see the point of having a theme, my reasoning was; I’m not an expert on anything, I’ll just say whatever comes into my head and see if anyone listens.

Then fiction came along.
Well, it had been there before, I’d read bloody loads of it.
But this time I thought I’d do it from the sharp end, so to speak.*

Then I stumbled upon Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompts and I thought I’d have a go at doing them all as short stories.
Which is where I get to the point where it all gets a bit vague, because from the first time I sat down to write a story, it was, umm, well, it was easy.

I know that sounds smug and immodest, but I don’t know how else to explain it.
My very first attempt was prompted by;
” “ke.”  Use the letter combination at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the word you choose to base your post on…”
And this came to me, literally as I wrote it.
I was quite pleased, despite the fact a few people didn’t get it (you might need to read it twice) and every other story I’ve written, with the exception of The Wrong Stuff (which I had a rough idea about for the first post and then decided it would be fun to see where it went on its own) has been pretty much the same way, with varying levels of success.
Including having three stories published in an anthology, available on Amazon AT THIS LINK, just in case I’d forgotten to mention that.

None of which comes anywhere close to tackling “motivation” I’m afraid, but then I did tell you at the start that I had no idea.

* – I read this a few times and I know it doesn’t work as an analogy, but I still like it.

#JusJoJan

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