Zeppelin Watch!

It’s been a while since I posted about our worlds continuing slide into alternative history. I think we can all agree that we are beyond the point of forecasting the appearance of Zeppelins. They must already be here. The news sounds like an excitable teenager trying to summarise a month’s worth of reality TV for someone who doesn’t own a television.

Which brings me to the first Zeppelin Watch! post: A pro-Trump computer generated instagram model is beefing with another computer generated instagram model and may have hacked her account. It reads like the “ethics in video games journalism” of instagram.

And as a bonus. Here’s a story about the President of the United States of America potentially getting sued for defamation by a porn star. To me that most incredible thing about this story is that; if you follow @StormyDaniels on twitter you’ll know that she is a intelligent, funny, hard working woman; and it’s amazing that she’d ever want anything to do with the unimaginative, intellectually lazy, con man in the White House.

Keep an eye out for Zeppelins and tweet me with your weird news so we can track them.

 

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Shop of Doom announcement

My experiment in e-commerce, The Shop of Doom, will be closing on May 8th.

I’d like to keep it running but it’s not paying for itself. That’s not so much a failed experiment as a negative result. One of the benefits of e-commerce is that it’s possible to fail experience a negative result relatively cheaply, but only if you have the discipline to resist the sunk cost fallacy.

What I’ve learned from this experiment is that I suck at self promotion and I have virtually zero reach. This tells me that if I do ever decide to self publish that I shouldn’t invest any money in it, because I’m not going to sell any books, because I suck at self promotion and I have virtually zero reach.

That information is probably worth the small amount of money that I put into the Shop of Doom. Therefore I declare it to be money well spent. Therefore this experiment was a net positive result.

Yay for me. I do not regard this as the latest in a long line of failures that invalidates my value as a human being. I am definitely not depressed about it. I am totally fine. Please enjoy this complimentary image taken from the Shop of Doom.

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Yeah it’s not convincing me either.

Editing hell

That’s where I am right now. Constantly vacillating between, “This line is brilliant, people will be wearing it on T-shirts,” and “This is trash, I am a hack, why did I ever believe otherwise?”

Once again I find myself wondering why I pick such hard stories to tell. Why would I choose to open a story on a scene where a bunch of people who don’t have names (for reasons of plot) are all talking to each other? Also why can’t I just write a normal book? Lots of people write regular mysteries. Or what about a nice historical drama? Or a romance? Why am I writing a spy thriller featuring Celtic Gods?

And why am I trying to get it ready for this pitch event? I’m pretty sure no-one there is going to want it no matter how well I write it. It could be perfect and still be the wrong book for any of the publishers and agents there because it’s just too weird.

At this point I’m fairly sure that I’m only working on it out of stubbornness and a need for purpose.

Everything is feeling a bit pointless at the moment. I spent a year updating this blog three times a week and it doesn’t seem to have resulted in any change in the reader numbers. I spent six months trying to work myself into starting a t-shirt shop and when I finally did, well, I’ve got no idea how to build it as a business and I’ll be closing it at the beginning of next month because I can’t afford to keep it open.

I’m trying to work out how to continue to move forward in a life where everything seems doomed to failure. If you know you’re never going to get anywhere than it should be possible to plan around that. There has to be a way to just do the things that I find satisfying and not care that nobody outside my circle of friends is ever going to see my work.

If you have enjoyed this whine why not buy me a coffee with Ko-fi. Or pop into the Shop of Doom before I have to close it.

Review: Mercury’s Son

Mercury’s Son by Luke E.T. Hindmar

This is my second futuristic detective story review in a row and like False Hearts by Laura Lam it is an easy five star, 10/10, just buy the damn book already rating.*

Sci Fi is the genre of big ideas and this novel is full of them. It’s also a detective novel, and a noirish one at, that so it’s full of enigmas. The story takes place on a future planet Earth recovering from an entirely man-made apocalypse. Humanity has been brought low but is holding on in domed cities, living under an iron central control, committed to fixing the damage to Mother Earth.

The central character is a Moderator, a kind of detective, investigating a murder that goes to the very heart of his society. I can’t say any more about the plot without spoiling it and I would hate to spoil such a beautiful plot.

I recommend this book but it does need to come with a warning. It is a tough read in places. It opens with a suicide and it often deals with horrific violence and the emotional consequences of that violence. It is a brutal futuristic police procedural and it should be violent and terrible in places.

It is absolutely worth reading through passages that you might find painful to get to the deeper meaning. This book has big important things to say about things like consciousness, memory and mankind’s place in the universe and it says them with style and grace.

This is easily a 5 star book for me but if you dislike ambiguity in your mystery novels or violent death in your sci fi then you might have to knock a off one star. But that still makes it well worth the read.

 

*And while you’re buying it in the Amazon store have a look at False Hearts because that’s currently 99p,

And if you want to support this blog you could buy me a coffee with Ko-Fi or visit the shop of doom and buy things.

Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome is something that most creative people experience at some point. It’s that feeling of not being good enough, of not being a ‘real’ creative, or that you are somehow performing your creative endeavors in the wrong way.. For successful creative people it might also come with a fear of being ‘found out’.

I don’t have a ‘hot take’ on Impostor Syndrome. But I either have a bad case of it or I’m a genuine impostor. And it’s so hard to know which.

In the last week I’ve found out that I’ve been formatting my manuscripts wrong and that I’ve either been using commas wrong since forever or the rules have changed since I was at school. That might seem like a small thing. Surely a slight difference in formatting and a few stray commas won’t drive an agent away? Well… Maybe.

Agents are looking for excuses to stop reading. Of course they are. They get hundreds of queries. It makes no sense to read all the way through something if they can’t sell it, or don’t want to work with the writer. The formatting and the commas alone wont stop them but that’s already two strikes. It makes the agent less likely to overlook any other little weakness they might find. It makes me look less professional. It also makes me question whether I have any business attempting to write as a profession. What kind of an author doesn’t know how to format a manuscript or use a comma.

And while worrying about all this I discovered that part of the opening of the current novel in progress isn’t nearly clear enough. I had a beta reader read right through the death of a character and part of their wake and then ask me why they were reading about all these other characters and not the dead one. And this is an intelligent person. That means that 1 in 4 readers didn’t get a pretty major plot point. I can’t just decide that this person is an idiot. I have to make the scene clearer somehow. And I don’t know how.

So in the last week I’ve found out that I’m failing at punctuation, formatting and clarity. How’s your week been.

If you have enjoyed this post why not buy me a coffee with Ko-fi or visit the Shop Of Doom to purchase objects.

Writing Fat Women

Recently on Twitter much fun was had with the idea of women writing ourselves as a male author would. I couldn’t join in because I’m a disabled fat middle aged women and that means I’m invisible to most male authors. And actually a lot of female authors. And when they do write us it’s as comic relief.

I did get to join in with the “write yourself as you would write you” challenge but that left me wondering why I write so few fat characters. I think the truth is that I don’t trust myself to write fat characters. I’m worried that my own body image issues will creep through and I don’t want to put any more fatphobia in the world.

Perhaps I’m also subconsciously feeling like I’m the wrong person to write that kind of acceptance and diversity. I shouldn’t write positively about fat women because I’m a fat woman so it doesn’t count. But if I don’t do it then who will? There’s not a lot of skinny people queueing up to write warmly about fat people. Able bodied people tend not to write about the disabled, particularly not those with chronic pain. And neurotypical people are really bad at writing neurodiverse characters.

But then there’s a part of me that resists that. Don’t I get to write my fantasies of a life without pain, a life of full mobility, a life where I don’t have to spend every waking moment justifying the space I take up? I deal with that shit all day every day and now I have to write about it too? How is that fair?

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If you’re the kind of masochist that enjoyed reading this rant why not buy me a coffee.

The inertia paradox

It’s very hard for me to get anything done. With depression, ADHD and chronic pain all pulling me back it takes a tremendous effort to achieve anything. Anything I want to do seems to involve far more steps than it should and each one of those steps requires a run up and that run up requires overcoming my executive dysfunction. Something that should take a week ends up taking six months.

I’ve been assuming that this inertia was the big problem with my life. I thought that if I could just do the things I wanted to do that I would experience success of some kind. I thought that it would be possible to get something back out of life if only I could work out how to put enough in.

I’m starting to suspect that I was wrong and that the inertia was really protecting me from the inevitable disappointment. I look back at my life and I see a lot of me working hard on something, fighting to overcome the inertia, doing the thing I wanted to do, and then nothing. It never goes anywhere.

Presumably I’m doing something wrong. It’s tempting to blame the inertia. It’s tempting to say that the inertia leaves me too tired to make the thing into a success. But maybe it’s not that. Maybe it’s that I’m just not very good at anything and the inertia knows. Maybe the inertia is trying to save me from the pain of being deeply mediocre.

Epic displacement activity

In my ongoing quest to avoid rewriting part 3 of my current novel in progress I have finally discovered the ultimate strategy. I set up an online business.

I set up an online shop. I designed t-shirts, mugs and tote bags. I put together a website. I may even add a blog to that website so that I’ll have two blogs to avoid writing for while I’m also avoiding writing my novel. With so much work to avoid I’m bound to accidentally get stuff done.

One thing that I have proved is that I have to stop saying that I lack all the skills necessary to be an an indie author. If I can design a pleasing t-shirt that people will actually buy then I can design a book cover that will persuade people to read the blurb.

Working on the designs did make me think that maybe I should post more visual stuff here. So far I’ve posted a lot of words and not much else but other people’s blogs usually seem to have more pictures or videos. Would that be an annoying and pointless change or would it be refreshing and welcome? Or both to different readers?

Anyway, here’s a link to the shop:

Madame Q’s Shop of Doom

And here’s a picture that you can buy on a t-shirt.

Review: False Hearts

False Hearts by Laura Lam

I really loved this book and I’m having a hard time knowing what to say without spoiling it. If you like noir and scifi you should probably just go and read it now without waiting to hear more.

The story follows formerly conjoined twins who escaped from the hippy cult of Mana’s Hearth to the high tech paradise of San Francisco. One twin may or may not have committed a murder and the other must take on her sister’s identity in order to find out.

There’s a lot of world building going on in order to create two drastically different false utopias. Ms Lam makes it seem effortless but I’ve done enough world building of my own to know the amount of spadework that goes into creating a single believable fictional society never mind two. Ms Lam constructs two beautiful facades before letting the plot drag it’s fingernails through and show us the rot beneath.

I particularly liked the way that the inhabitants of both Mana’s Hearth and San Francisco know that their societies aren’t perfect but they’re invested enough in the success of those societies that most of them pretend otherwise. That seems very real to me. Human history is full of people pretending to believe that their societies are better than they know them to be in the hope that the lie will become true.

I haven’t said much about the plot, not because the plot is weaker than the world building, but because I don’t want to spoil any of it. It’s a true noir so the less you know going in the better. It is deeply satisfying in all its twists and turns and I’d hate to lessen that satisfaction.

Apology in advance

I’m not sure I’m going to be able to update properly for the next couple of weeks. I suspect that my depression is acting up. If that’s the case the best way to deal with it is to acknowledge that it’s happening and not to try and push through it.

Of course I might be worrying over nothing and I’ll be back to normal next week. Either way I’ll be back posting lengthy and hopefully humorous rants about my terrible life before too long.