Storyslingers and music cafe Beggar's Banquet
teamed up last Thursday to put on an evening of short stories, poetry and groovy tunes. It was a small, friendly gathering, the venue itself being very cosy and mellow-lit. We had 17 people in attendance, most of them writers, artists or musicians (and those in between who do a bit of everything). A lot of writers had only met once or twice before, so it was also cool to reconnect. And as always with these types of events, I was utterly floored by the talent in my local area. ( There are a few pics of the event under here. Yes, I actually remembered to take photos this time! )
And at the weekend we put on our usual collection of handmade books and flyers at the Arts Festival. I thought it seemed a bit smaller this year, and we didn't draw in as much interest as I'd hoped, but we did manage to snag a couple of email addresses for the mailing list—a success as far as I'm concerned.
Now, finally, things are a bit calmer. I'm scouting the 'net for prompts for my next 7 Days, 7 Stories
, which I'm planning to kick off next Monday. If anyone knows of any good story prompt venues, let me know. Otherwise, wish me luck!
♫ Anniversary of an Uninteresting Event
, by Deftones.
I thought about waiting to post about the Story Slam until we had some footage up online, but it's probably going to take a few more weeks before we get the video edited how we want it. The good news is we managed to film about an hour of the event so there are loads of clips to choose from. Best to leave the movie making to someone who knows more about it than me, though, or it'll end up looking more like the Blair Witch Project than a cool promo of a lit event.
Everything leading up to the Slam was a blur. I'm still not entirely sure how we pulled it off. No, wait, I am sure: it was thanks to the help and support of loads of friends and colleagues and family. We were so lucky.
We managed to snare ourselves two fair and eloquent judges, Allie Spencer
and Gail Aldwin
, a compère in the form of Daniel Frisby, and some groovy live music from The Wrongo Bongo Band
. Not to mention (again) the mecha-Western artwork
Dan Morison did for our promotional material. In the end we had about 35-40 people in the crowd, some of whom were readers, some special guests, and some just there to soak up the stories and energy. There was a nice buzz from early on that continued through the evening. It helped calm my nerves (a bit!).( Going to pop the rest under here. A couple of pics, and more squee )
Next week I'll post the short story I read out (apparently; I can't remember much about being on stage other than sweating).
by Foo Fighters.
Sorry for dropping off unexpectedly again. My VAIO went for repairs and ended up staying with Sony for almost two weeks. :/ I've been surviving on a flimsy diet of iPhone browser, but it's not the same and communication has been difficult. I have my VAIO back now though, yay!
In a fit of passion, I ordered a MacBook Pro with HD retina display a couple of weeks ago. OK, maybe it wasn't so much a fit of passion—I've been seriously considering it for almost a year now—but it was a big leap. It just felt like the right time, what with the release of OS X Mountain Lion and the recent problems with my PC. The MacBook arrived this morning, all sleek and sliver-sexy and chill. I am in love, though I'm still getting used to the Mac way of life. Gosh, but it's a gorgeous piece of machinery! The downside is that a lot of websites look bad on the HD screen. The upside to the downside is that it has lit a fire under me to hurry up and finish my blog redesign.
Argh, and there's so much to blog about! I don't know where to start. In fact, I'll break everything into a few posts, otherwise this will take hours and become epic, and nobody wants that. :)StorySlam:Live
at London's Southbank Centre was excellent. Different to what I imagined—not in a bad way, just unexpectedly cosy and informal. There were around 35-40 people, 25 of whom were writers and who had signed up to read a story, though in the end they could only fit eight readings into the event. The crowd was energetic and supportive, and the judges, compère, and DJ were all fab. What I liked most was that the judges provided individual feedback for each story after the reader had finished. I'm sure the authors took away a lot of good advice and encouragement.
The stories themselves were really diverse, from conceptual arty pieces and darker dramas to light-hearted humorous spins on the "Sheet lightning" theme. The winner, Carys Nelkon
, read out a charming story about a boy who had been struck by lightning seven times, which you can read at her link. The coolest thing is that it was her first ever short fiction. I hope to hear more of her work at future slams!
Then a week later, it was the Storyslingers Story Slam. My little writing group! All grown up! Jennifer B has put together a great write up at our website
already, and I plan to blog soon about my experience as a co-organiser and the surreal excitement of it, and I'll also post the flash steampunky piece I read out on the night.
F-list catch up tomorrow. For now, I must get back to the MacBook Pro!
♫ Born to Die
, by Lana Del Rey (Gemini Remix). Dubsteppy.
It's the Storyslingers Story Slam
tonight (OMG!) and I am excited and a little nervous, but mostly excited. More people have signed up for reading slots than I thought would, so we'll be drawing stories randomly once the main slam has finished. We're very lucky to have two awesome judges—flash fiction writer Gail Aldwin and award-winning novelist Allie Spencer—who'll be picking winners from our line-up. I've also managed to (finally) write something to read out if there's time, a short steampunky piece that recycles a couple of ideas from another flash story I wrote last year (that didn't do enough for me, so I never sent it anywhere). I'll probably post it here after the slam.
I still need to blog about StorySlam: Live
that I went to in London last Thursday, and the Frome Literary Festival
from the weekend before, but that can wait until next week. Today, there is still much to do. Wish me and my little writing group luck!
Btw, my Internet has continued its crazy-making the last two or three weeks. I've got some guys coming out on Tuesday to fix the wire running from my house to the phone pylon, which apparently is the root of the problem. That should finally set things right, and I will be back in action!
♫ Hey Ya
, by Outkast. Because I need some up-beat, energising music today. :)
This Thursday I'll be attending StorySLAM: Live
at the Southbank Centre in London. I'm not reading, as I doubt I'll have time to write something to the theme "Sheet Lightning" by then, but I will be listening happily and hopefully networking, and at the very least learning some tips and tricks we can apply to our own Slam on the 20th.
Over the last few days I've been making new story flyers and booklets to give out in a couple of weeks. I love this stuff, though it does take up quite a bit of time, so I have to be firm and only allow myself an hour or two each day. I've also discovered the joy that is the bookmarklet
, which is a slim notebook the size of a bookmark you can use to take notes on whatever book you happen to be reading. I've made a few with our amazing Slam poster design by Dan Morison (see it here
).( Here is my stash so far – new flyers, bookmarks and bookmarklets, as well as a few leftovers from last year )
My new website and blog design is also nearing completion, at least on a Photoshop level. I've yet to start chopping it up and coding. But I'm really excited about getting a new look! I just hope it's not too much pink. OK, I was going to sit on it until it's ready, but I need to re-learn how to make image maps for LJ-based layouts which could take some time, so I might as well post a preview: ( New journal layout WIP – The Curious Evolution of JKO )
In between writing and designing, I'm trying not to get too distracted by Zombie Swipeout
, a new game by Zynga for the iPhone. It's like Fruit Ninja, but with zombies instead of fruit. Zombies are better to swipe than fruit ("Zombies vs. Fruit"–the next big anthology, Y/Y?). The app has issues, though—issues I hope Zynga rectify, otherwise they'll be missing out on such a big investment. At times it almost feels like the app is only three-quarters finished. And I don't recommend buying the paid version, because apparently it's barely worth it. But still! Zombies.
♫ Pretty Life
, by Jakalope.
I always used to say "Trust your story to know what it needs to do" but all my flash fiction seems to end up too long to be flash fiction, even when I set out with a clear plan that's as self-contained and streamlined as possible. The idea starts off small and doable, but in the writing, it explodes and branches off down irresistible avenues. I'm starting to think not all stories know what's best for them—some of them actually want some discipline, otherwise they run away, like the terrible little delinquents they are.
Yeah, I'm having difficulties writing a piece of flash fiction for the Storyslingers Story Slam
. Reading slots are approximately five minutes, which equals about 780 words, give or take a few. I had an exciting idea last night, but I already know it'll be a full short story rather than a flash. Grrr. (I'm still jazzed about writing it, though!)
Speaking of the Slam, we've had some incredible custom-illustration done for the promotional posters and flyers. The artwork is by Dan Morison
, a London-based artist who draws cool mecha-centric characters and scenes among other things:( Check out his design for Storyslingers here. Cut for size, but you should totally take a look because it is brilliant! )
So far the organisation seems to be going well, although we're aware time is slipping away fast. We have a couple of judges for the panel and we've come up with ideas for prizes and some small tokens for participants. We've also had some sign-ups for the competitive readings, and a number of writers are interested in reading out their flash fiction in the non-competitive slots. Oh, and we may also have a didgeridoo for musical accompaniment (because everyone should have a didgeridoo for musical accompaniment).
♫ Lucky Pressure
, by Roni Size / Reprazent.
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.
I'm resolved to blog more during the summer. Rahul Kanakia recently posted
about how he overcame blogging inconsistency, and I've decided to give it a try. I don't think I could post every day, but I'll aim for once a week at first, and perhaps raise it to 2-3 posts a week eventually. We'll see. I never thought to approach blogging the same way I approach writing; when I'm in the flow I can write 1000 words+ each day, so what's stopping me from writing 100 words of a blog post a day? Only me, myself, and I. This is sounding suspiciously like a Mid-Year Resolution, but I can assure you it most certainly is not. No, really!
I used to love online socialising, and I find it odd how my drive to blog shifted when I became more serious about putting my fiction out there. You'd think it would work the other way, wouldn't you—that writing seriously towards publication would make writing blog posts easier? Strange how it hasn't.
In a similar vein, I've noticed in recent years how my sociability is tied closely with writing. When I'm caught in a dry spell, with little time or energy to write, I tend to hermit away. This isn't confined to the Internet, either—I withdraw in RL, too. But when I'm back into the writing groove, I want to be around people more. Anyone else get this?
I might have mentioned previously that my writing group is putting on a short story slam (same format as a poetry slam
), and I'm pleased to announce that we have an official date for the event! It'll take place on July 20th 2012, here
. We've never done anything like this, but it'll be interesting and exciting to set up, not to mention nerve-wracking to participate in. Which reminds me, I need to get on and write some flash fiction to read out! OMG.
I'm also attending the Frome Arts Festival
in July this year, taking part in "Dickens's London" run by author Peter Clark, followed by "Editing Without Tears" with Jane Elmor and Jill Harris. I'll try to remember to take lots of notes to share here afterwards.
♫ Glory Box
, by Portishead.
How awkward is it when you're walking along and someone comes out of a room or doorway and starts walking the same way as you, and you're sort of walking together but not quite, and you don't know each other, so one person has to speed up and one has to slow down until there's enough distance between you to walk comfortably again, and everyone involved feels a tad stupid? The answer is, most awkward!
I've been playing a spot of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
in my spare time (a little late to the party, as always), and all I can say is: epic whoa. ( Cutting this for lengthy rambles about large RPGs )
Aside from that, I've been writing, submitting, receiving rejections—a couple of them very encouraging—working, playing, and snuggling my cat. Me and my Storyslingers
co-mod are hoping to host a Short Story Slam
in July, so we're starting to plan for that.
I hit 40k words on the steampunk novel recently, which I estimate to be about halfway through. It's good, solid progress, and that is fab. Also, things that I started to think weren't relevant and may end up being cut are now becoming relevant. Is this a part of my brain that's one step ahead of the rest? Could be, could be! Thank you, brain. I'm still mostly running on instinct, still finding it an enterprise of discovery and excitement. But there's always that tiny, niggling fear that I'll lose the plot or veer too far from my (shady) goal.
And a couple of weeks ago I discovered:
♫ Wake You Up
and Insect Flick
, by Coven. A relatively new dubstep act, who I hope continue to bring out quality beats!