Weird Christmas Podcast

Yes, I know.

I can hear you all muttering. Bonfire Night was only a couple of weeks ago. The scent of gunpowder lingers, back note to the usual autumn perfume of mulch and dozing hedgehogs. You’re still fishing spent fireworks out of your fish pond and your lawn’s not yet recovered from an over-enthusiastic fire that was lit to bake potatoes and melt marshmallows and almost led to next door’s shed going up.

And here I am adding to festive sofa ads, towers of Quality Street tins clogging the supermarket aisles and your smug friend telling you how she’s already bought and wrapped all her presents.

Yes, the season of legitimised breakfast alcohol and all things sprout and raisin is weeks away, yet over at Weird Christmas.com everyday is Christmas, as everyday is seriously weird.

I recently found Craig Kringle’s site through a writing competition – came for the Weird Comp, stayed for the Victorian cards featuring dead robins.

Craig also has a podcast and today I found this gorgeous early festive treat – Santa is a Hallucinogenic Mushroom. Santa, shamans and fly agaric fungi in one post, just fantastic.

Enjoy. And a Merry Weird Christmas to you.

The Big 5 – 0 – 0

Gold star on red and blue background

Image : Pixabay

 

Well, my dears I’ve been looking at my stats and noticed something pretty big has happened.

A few posts ago I passed the big 500 mark here on WordPress.

In my twenty two months of blogging I have written, proofed and posted just over 500 posts, much of it nonsense rambling – a bit like this post actually – the rest fiction.

I’ve explored words, explored worlds, from fantasy to sci-fi, to historical and domestic with a bit of creepy horror, blood and guts thrown in.

It’s a bit of a landmark, whichever way you look at it.

It means – at a very rough estimate – I’ve written around 150,000 words on here. Both a good, lovely thing and some might think a bad thing, as if I’d used the same time writing novels, I would have stopped prevaricating and finished the current book by now.

Still, I wanted to take time out to say Ta Muchly, because without people to read my writing, to be positive and encouraging, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have posted so much and so often.

Thanks all and you never know, maybe one day I’ll be here celebrating my thousandth post.

 

 

 

WordPress annual reports: useful or a waste of good pixels?

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Image: Pixabay

 

A New Year is traditionally a time for taking stock, for looking past the glittery tunnel of Christmas, seeing the good and the bad of the last 12 months, of what went right and what wrong. And for planning for the year ahead, of course.

I don’t do resolutions as such, being as I am, easily depressed by my own failure. Life throws up plenty of opportunities to do this every year, week, day, without me giving it ammunition by promising to give up things I love to do, eat or drink. No hair shirt for me, please.

I had one of those WordPress annual report thingies for 2015, as I’m sure you all did, comparing my traffic to the contents of subway trains – a concept inspired to transform the blank abstract stats into something recognisably human.

My blog carried about 4 subway train’s worth, apparently – and not a single passenger wiped their feet, dirty devils.

Most of my visitors were from the US: I downloaded over 200 photos: the post with the most comments was the snappily titled Nothing says Christmas like Rubber Eyeballs : the most viewed, This is a Happy House, illustrated by my alter ego, Na the Slayer, above. Gorgeous, ain’t I?

The question I want to ask you, my fellow wanderers around the highways and byways of the blogging community is:

did you read your report? And if so, did you find it useful? In what possible way can or will it influence your future blogging?

You see, much as I liked seeing what I’ve achieved over my first year, I don’t actually know what I can do with all of this info.

Answers on a postcard, please.

Alernatively, do post your views below. I’m intrigued to hear what you think.

A lifetime ago and only yesterday

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Image :Pixabay

 

I take one step, another. The air’s thick with decay. The taste of leafmould coats my tongue, making it slippery against my teeth. I’d forgotten it, but now it’s as if there’s never been anything else.

How long has it been since I was here?

Stupid. I know exactly how long – to the day, to the hour. A lifetime ago and only yesterday.

I run the back of my hand against each tree trunk, savour the scrape against knuckles, the spring of moss.

Keep going.

The trees shut down the sun. Slow as mist, branches drift left and right until the way is clearer, with only a step to take over tangled roots. A groan, the snap of wooden sinew – a crack, loud as a gunshot. I look behind. The boughs have weaved together, a tight net of twigs, sewn with ivy, embroidered with holly berries. I could lean against it, let the tendrils lace us together, a wedding of flesh and greenwood.

But they’re waiting. I walk on.

Finally, the clearing and there – a ring of blood red caps. They are as I remember them – mottled grey bodies, some straight, some twisted as if reaching outwards, their feet sunk beneath the soil, ankles swallowed by a fall of gold and copper leaves.

One step forward. Another. My shoulder brushes a red cap and I’m showered in dust the colour of saffron and I never want to leave again.

Their warmth washes over me, filaments spread, creeping up my shins, gripping my skin, crawling under my nails, in through my ears and nose, filling me.

Home.

***

A little bit of flash, inspired by Rose McDonagh, fellow Mslexia blogger.

 

Is being an author written in your DNA like brown eyes and freckles?

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Clackety-clack Image: Pixabay

After Wednesday’s groan-athon, where I attempted to turn whiny introspection into an art form, and realising that I probably focus on rejection way too much in these posts, I thought I’d write something rather more positive.

A couple of days ago, my other half was reading my first blog post for Mslexia. After the odd wry smile*, he finally said,

Bloody hell, it’s tough, isn’t it?

By this I don’t think he meant writing blog pieces was tough – cos that’s as easy as falling off a stack of the complete Encyclopaedia Britannica – but that the road to being a paid author is tough.

The comment made me look at the whole endeavour with fresh eyes.

Yes, it’s tough. Few people who love to write can do so professionally, fewer still full time. And it’s only the top tiny percent who become so rich they make Croesus look like the Clampetts pre oil strike.

But that doesn’t phase most of us, because that’s not why we do it.

 

We write because words are part of our DNA, woven into our genetic make up as much as brown eyes and a tendency to freckle. 

We write because at some point, we have fallen into the whirlpool of a book, drowned in its world, felt the emotional tug of its characters – we’ve inhaled the magic of the best stories. And we’ve thought, even subconsciously,

“Dammit, I’d love to do that for someone else”

We write for the fleeting joy when a scene, a phrase – even a mere word – feels right.

We write because we grow to love our characters, they live in our minds and whisper at our shoulders, telling us what they wish to do next – what they WILL do next – and we want to be along for the ride.

We write because we want to prise open the door on the worlds we created and say to others, ‘Come on, take a look. Share this with me.’

We write for Joy and Love and even for the Pain we feel as our best created friends slip from us.

We write because we have to.

***

At least, that’s why I write.

So all my writer pals out there, tell me why you write.

Fame? Fortune? The possibility of appearing on Radio 2’s book club with Simon Mayo (oh, yes please)? Or is it just because if you don’t, the stories will build up until your head bursts a la Scanners?

 

***

*My husband has been with me for twenty five years, so he’s heard all my gags now – it’s tough to make him really laugh. Carry on reading this blog until the year 2040 and you will no doubt feel the same.

Never mind the trolls: what blogging can do for you.

Photo Pixabay

Photo Pixabay

Something surprised me this year.

No, it’s not the creeping realisation that Wagon Wheels have shrunk since I first ate one in 1975. Or the fact that people seem to prefer the name Snickers over Marathon and Starburst over Opal Fruits – the crazy fools.

It’s not even the fact that reading an E. L. James book is akin to voting Conservative – no one admits doing it, but the numbers say otherwise. You know who you are.

No, the surprise has come through blogging.

Firstly, as an almost newbie to the inter-webby-netter-sphere, I thought I knew what the virtual world was filled with. Yes, there are websites that can sell you everything from double-glazing to head lice combs. There are ways to view every kind of entertainment known to man and some that frankly most people wouldn’t dream of without swallowing a handful of those pretty coloured pills the young man on the street corner sells. (You know, the chap who’s a walking dictionary of badly spelled tattoos and has a Rottweiler called Chlamydia because he overheard the word whilst standing in the queue at the pharmacy and liked the way it rolled off his tongue.)

But these decent, honest ways to scalp the public of their hard earned do not the bulk of the internet make. Everyone who reads the tabloids knows what it is full of.

If the web had substance and you could plonk it on your bathroom scales, the heaviest bit would be adult below the waist material. Because no one bothers looking at the top shelf in the newsagent anymore – why use vital energy reading when you can let other people’s ideas of eroticism slip from touchscreens straight into your hypothalamus, spreading its tentacles  like some kind of sexy electric octopus?

And the rest of the web-mass is made up of trolls, isn’t it. Not the hiding under the bridge kind we had when I was a girl, but the sitting-in-a-dark-room-shooting-threats-off-to-strangers-just-because-they-dare-to-do-stuff kind.

As a side note, do you think kids realise there were such things as trolls before the internet and those spiky-haired, psychotically-smiley dolls? It would be so much easier to catch the cowardly keyboard jockeys if all we needed to do was hang around internet cafes with Billy Goats as bait. 

Anyway, these are the two main things any middle aged, middle Englander knows about the internet and while I’m sure, if I Googled any rude word we used to circle in the school dictionary all sorts would pop up, expanding my knowledge of humanity and forcing me to have my hard drive wiped, blogging hasn’t really been like that.

In fact, most bloggers are just trying to send the best of themselves out into the world whilst simultaneously being a pleasant and supportive bunch.

And the surprises didn’t just come from the virtual world.

I was never the most productive writer. It’s taken me six years to date to write my YA novel. Okay, I’ve been learning on the job, I’m on at least the third rewrite and I’ve written a couple of other books along the way, but all the same, some writers publish a new book every year – James Patterson will probably have banged out two in the time it takes for you to read this post.

I’ve published over 100 blog posts so far, and with each of those being around 500 words, I could’ve written a novella since I started. If nothing else, it’s shown me I can write regularly and to order, which is no bad thing for someone attempting to spin words into a living.

Even if much of what I publish is nonsense, experience tells us good money can be had that way.

So, here’s to the next 100.


What has blogging done for you? Has it improved your writing or harmed it?