As a long time Ice Road Truckers fan, and fan of big, Transformery-looking things in general, I'm happy to be writing short audiobook reviews for Trucking Magazine
(UK). My first review is for The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak. I wanted to start with a favourite and a positive note, and I have to admit, I'm secretly hoping Optimus Prime sees it and gives the book a try, if he hasn't already, because ahhh, the human condition! Next up, I'm reviewing Damned
by Chuck Palahniuk, which I'm currently working my way through (and feeling quite mixed about).
Totally unrelated, I've deleted my Facebook account. It's been a long time coming. Facebook's a network I've never felt comfortable using, even casually. I never wanted to share any personal info, even under friends or filter. I hated being tagged, particularly placed at a specific location, and I hated having to manually remove tags about me. I don't like the format or layout, and I dislike how difficult they make it to leave. It got to the stage where I despised even having to briefly log in to reply to direct messages. So it's gone.
Saying that, I still have a Twitter
, so it's not like I can't be found. I'm sure all those are enough to be going along with for now.
It's strange that I remove FB from my life right as I begin researching celebrity culture for my new novel. But thankfully I'm more focused on the A-List celeb beast, rather than the Internet fame type, although I know it'll come up later. I've been following this in the planning of the new novel:How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day
, by Rachel Aaron. I also picked up a Kindle copy of the e-book which contains everything in Rachel's post plus loads more specific to plotting and revising.
Right now, it's mostly plotting and developing characters, with little bursts of happy writing in between. But I desperately want to get stuck in and mash some words—even now I can already see an increase in my output.
♫ Cafe Del Mar (Michael Woods Ambient Remix)
, by Energy 52.
(2012) the other night and found it was not at all what I was expecting. At first I wasn't even sure if I liked it, but by the end I thought its surreal awkwardness, unforgiving teenage angst, and glimpses of genuine bittersweetness made it work well as both a horror and a dark comedy. It's certainly gory and uncomfortable, but at the same time it doesn't always take itself seriously. I think this contributed to the impact of the ending—and I truly was surprised; the balance of horror and humour was so finely done that I had no idea which way they were going to go with it. You can see the trailer here
. A lot of the gore scenes are shown through the disturbed sexual fantasies of the main character, Pauline, and are intentionally bizarre, mixing art and absurdism and blood—something I found different and oddly amusing. At times I rooted for Pauline, and at other times I wanted to bash her over the head for making life harder for herself (and everyone around her). If you're looking for something dark but not always too serious, I'd recommend giving this a try. Though be warned, it is
I also really want to see Exit Humanity
. Civil War zombies!
It's always a little unsettling when someone from my past adds me on Facebook. Not that it's terrible or anything, just peculiar to see them again after so many years. A lot of folk from school haven't changed much, and I wonder if they think the same about me. I feel so different from even five years ago; I can't believe how much has happened and changed in fifteen years. While I don't use it very often, I'm on Facebook here
if anyone wants to connect. I rarely read my timeline, though, so please don't assume I'll see everything. At the moment I can only just manage a blog and Twitter. :)
Lately I've been thinking more about Dreamwidth
and the flush of LJ users who are migrating and cross-posting. I still don't want to leave LJ, but it's starting to look inevitable, and I think eventually most of us will have to. There've been a lot of downtimes here, a lot of bad press in the last few years, and I can't see that changing. If I can figure out how to code one of the DW layouts to match my LJ, I probably will post there and have entries mirrored. I would still reply to messages and read my friends page here, for as long as the majority of it exists here. But if more and more people switch, I may have to rethink it all further down the line. If you've recently moved to DW or set up a backup, my username is the same: jenniferkoliver
And a short article that tickled me: 4 Copy Editors Killed in Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence
- from The Onion. Love the bit about the serial commas.
♫ Almost Over
, by Limp Bizkit.
LJ confounded me when they removed the Last.FM link from the edit profile page. I'm not sure where they announced it, but you can now find and add your Last.FM link at the bottom of this page
. I don't really get the need for a relocation, but then, there are many things LJ does that I don't get. ;)
I'm 13,000 words into draft #2 of the steampunk novel and I'm trying to find old 19th century travelogues and journals written by Brits abroad. You'd think there would be tons of them scattered all over the 'net, but for some reason they're hard to locate or just plain unreadable because the scan quality sucks. My friend Yvonne dug up a few decent resources the other day, but even she found it difficult and she's a black belt in Google-fu. This may require another trip to Bath, this time during the week so I can raid the library. It's not too
frustrating hitting this wall because there are other parts of the novel I can get on with; the travelogue sections weren't in my original plan anyway, and I don't feel like they're major roadblocks at this stage. But I do need to get it sorted eventually, and I need to get it just right.
Aside from that, the second draft is going better than I dreamed. After realising it needed two main POVs instead of one, the scope of the novel has opened up even more. The finished thing will actually have four POVs, though two of them will be minor, contained in the short travelogues mentioned above. They'll also mark my first proper foray into 1st person. Aiee!
There are also a couple of flash pieces on the horizon for the Story Slam in July. I recently found my way to Erin Morgenstern's blog
where she's been writing 10 sentence stories set to photographs, and I thought I'd have a go at something similar using everyday visual prompts. Even if I don't read them out at the Slam, we're putting on a table of hand-made booklets and story flyers like we did at the Arts Festival last year
, and they make great printable pieces for sharing.
Random Thought: I'm always flailingly amused that Zack Braff calls Donald Faison "C-Bear" on Twitter. ♥ Scrubs
♫ Hungry Like the Wolf
, by Duran Duran.
This past week's been exhausting but in a positive and productive way. I'm still behind on all things LJ and I'm sorry if I've missed anything important. I hope everyone is well!
The Dorset Writers' Network publishing day went swimmingly. Me and Jennifer Bell gave a talk on e-zines and online publishing, and amazingly I wasn't all that nervous, even though it was my first time addressing a (small, but big to me) crowd on a Topic of Interest. At one or two points we thought we were losing them, but the feedback was good and a few people asked if they could send follow-up emails if they had any problems. We also got to see a real, live Agent—in the flesh!—which helped demystify them a great deal. She was extremely nice, and after finding out she represents the genres I write in, I took her business card.
Then yesterday I skipped over to Bath with Becky Bye
, Beth Stewart
, and Jennifer Bell
for a speculative fiction workshop held at Roscoff Deli and lead by a lovely group of post-grad creative writing students. It was so nice to connect with more local writers, and we've since swapped Twitter handles so we can stay in touch.
On Sunday I finally got to type "The End" in my steampunk novel document! It's a first draft that's sparse in places, and a draft that's full of plot holes big and small, but I am aware of those plot holes and I know they can be fixed. I'm letting it settle for a few days before I begin any editing, and in the meantime I'm going to write the outline (yeah, backwards!) and shuffle things around for maximum impact. My little first draft is woefully broken right now, but I do love it. ♥
And at last, I'm slowly cobbling together my very own custom layout for www.jenniferkoliver.com
. It'll run on Wordpress, using the Thematic Framework
(which is brilliant, btw) , and I'm really excited about it, but man it's a slog figuring out some of the code. The design hints at the Victorian era and is light and fun and whimsical, which will work nicely alongside my current projects (and a few on the distant horizon). I've also been itching to change my LJ shoe layout for a while, so I think I might adapt the new layout for this blog, too. Anyway, once I'm down with the WP theming, I should be able to switch it up now and then to keep everything feeling fresh. On top of that, I've got a couple of small web design commissions on the go. All in all, good times!
, by Fightstar.
Funny I was just posting about micro-fiction, because yesterday one of my Twitter stories went live @onefortyfiction
. It can be found on their website here: Grey Matter
. I'd recommend it if you like a smidgen of humour with your zombies. :)
The last few days my attention has been mostly riveted on the UK riots coverage, which continues to unfold like a horrific movie. It's almost unbelievable, and makes me damn relieved I don't live in an inner city where most of the trouble is going down. I hope the city dwellers on my f-list are keeping safe and well out of the way. Possibly related, me and Jen Bell hopped over to a neighbouring writing group and poetry reading Tuesday night, and when we left there was a guy getting arrested on the street outside. It was noisy and there were a few more people scattered around watching and egging it on. We ended up power-walking back to the car, a little freaked out, and I thought: holy crap, that was just one guy! I can't imagine what it must be like on the streets with hundreds of them. Bloody terrifying.
It's also weird that I was recently talking about book covers, 'cause I got the cover art through from Karl A. Nordman
for my dark fantasy novelette "Dust City". There was joyous flail! There was much squee! And my cat gave me some odd looks.
I still have a couple of stories from Darwin's Evolutions
to catch up on, too. Links forthcoming.
And I thought, what with the recent LJ-apocalypse near miss, it was worth mentioning again that I have a mirror journal on Dreamwidth here
. That's where I'll relocate should LJ ever implode for more than week or two.
I posted about this on my website
the other day (and I realise now that I've never officially launched my author website—oops!) and thought it was worth posting here, since micro-fiction is growing in popularity on sites like Twitter. I already mentioned that one of my Twitter fics will be going up @trapezemag
on October 22nd. One of the reasons I love Twitter-based fiction is because it poses a unique challenge, forcing you to be frugal with your words, punctuation, and even the spaces between
words. It's also tough coming up with fresh plots and scenarios that can be encapsulated in 140 characters.
There’s a superb blog post about writing Twitter fiction by the editor of Trapeze Magazine, Jessica Otto: Why Twitter Fiction?
Another good post is Twitter Fiction is a Joke
by Nathan E. Lilly, which covers some of the different formats. Well worth checking out if you’re interested in pursuing micro-fic writing.
Another valuable resource is a list of popular Twitter fiction markets
, compiled by author Simon Kewin. A few of them even pay!
I’ve stumbled across a couple more micro-fic markets that are worth mentioning. These are not all limited to Twitter:
| website and guidelines
– A collection of stories consisting of only six words, inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s famous challenge.Two Sentence Stories
– As it says on the label, stories told in two sentences.Monkeybicycle
– Publishes one-sentence stories. Check their guidelines.Seedpod
- A literary/arts collaboration. Publishes Twitter fiction.
Also found an interesting blog written by author, artist and graphic designer Sarah E. Melville that takes a detailed look at book covers: Your Cover Uncovered
. I'm fascinated by book covers and the process cover art goes through, who makes the decisions, why they make the decisions, and why a lot of really bad book covers make it into shops. It's one of those things that will no doubt keep me awake at night some point in the future when it's my book cover being designed (see what I did there? Positive thinking, yo).
So, good things? I got a shiny white iPhone 4 this morning to replace my old 1st gen phone which I accidentally dropped and cracked. The old one was on its dying legs anyway and the battery needed charging three times a day, so I don't feel too
indulgent. But I do love my new baby. And to think, I used to hate mobile phones!
On Wednesday I'm heading to London to meet up with whymzycal
. We're going to be all touristy and visit a museum, although I doubt I'll be concentrating on art when there is a Dabs nearby to glomp and natter with.
Bad things? I think my Twitter account was compromised this morning, as people started getting spammy private messages from it. But I did not send those messages (I would never send spam on any social networking site, ever) and if anyone else gets PMs from 'me' please let me know. I've done the security check, changed passwords and info, so I'm hoping that'll be the end of it. I also disabled all the third-party sites that were linked up to my Twitter, which means no more cross-posting. Doing it manually takes a little extra time, but for the added peace of mind I'm willing to do it. Yikes.
And now I'm going to catch up with LJ things! Hope you're all well and survived the LJ-apocalypse. :)
Here are some places where you can offer help toward the Japan earthquake appeal: this list
(US) and here
There's been some discussion about whether people should continue posting to their blogs and social sites as normal, and I think yes, yes you should post about your day, your cat, your writing, whatever is going on at the moment. If we all stopped posting every time something terrible happened in the world, we'd never post again. We post to keep each other informed, offer support, communicate. Without communication, nobody would be able to support anyone else during times of great sadness or happiness.
Of course, it works both ways, and nobody should feel they have to post (or donate) because other people are. We all deal with stuff differently.*
Accessible websites with clear links and information make the Internet a less frustrating place, to be sure. But I wish some website owners would keep in mind that the more widgets they use, the longer the pages may take to load, and the more visitors they could be losing. I see this a lot in writing blogs and websites—you know the ones, jam-packed with about every social slider, widget, and gadget out there, plus animated ads, buttons and banners. I rarely wait more than 10 seconds for a page to load (and I'm not even on dial-up here), especially if it's simply to post a comment reply on a blog. Ideally it should take no more than five seconds, but even then you could be losing visitors and valuable commenters.
/random web design thought for the day.*
Usually I ignore the Oscars buzz each year (well, except for the red carpet dresses and shoes, which I'm always interested in seeing!) because by and large I find the films that don't win anything just as deserving as the ones that do, but having recently seen The King's Speech
I have to hand it to them: they picked a corker. Such amazing acting and writing, right there. If you haven't seen it yet, and you don't think it would be your cup of tea, go see it anyway. I wasn't entirely sold beforehand, but it was excellently done, poignant, and very funny in places. Plus, what a cast! :)
Has anyone else been getting notifications from their anti-virus of 'Exploit Blackhole Exploit Kit' threats here on LJ? AVG keeps blocking these virus missiles when I'm on the site. I did a spot of research but there's not a great deal of info about the threat. According to an answer on Yahoo! it's a Russian-made software that delivers viruses and other malware to computers. There's also this page on Malware Intelligence
about its history. I've reported it to LJ, and hopefully they'll be able to stop it.*
Those who know me are aware I have a firm love/hate relationship with Facebook, but I have a feeling it's borne out of unfamiliarity with the interface more than anything else. I can't deny it's an excellent way of meeting people and sharing info, and it's necessary for certain types of social networking. My personal FB page is mainly for close friends and family, so I thought it was time to set up a separate account for writing and reading endeavours. Hopefully with the new account, I can post about writing or reading events, locations, recommendations, and follow people with similar interests. I want this new FB page to be open to anyone and everyone who wants to connect.
So! Here is my Jennifer K Oliver Facebook page
. It's a bit sparse right now, and I will be adding more info and photos over the coming weeks. If you're on FB and you want to connect, feel free to add me or give me a shout.