Presented with love and gratitude. Poem “Ascension/Bring me higher” was written by me. Big ups to my homey, the 9th century poet, Cynewulf. My poem is inspired by his awesome work, Christ II. Images are from Tokyo Fashion Edge Magazine Volume 35, September 2019, with an overlay of handwritten runic and English scripts in watercolour. Have a healing week ahead.
During thirteen intense days of summer, 2030, profit is territory, and the quarter percent wield influence and prestige to fight for more of it. Behind the screens, a reclusive entrepreneur is rewriting the rules of the game. As the rules change, a former social media influencer struggles to adjust. On the Continent, a popular and charismatic king works covertly to undermine his rivals. His younger daughter takes on an exciting new challenge while his youngest finds herself in his cross-hairs. His oldest daughter is heir apparent. She marshals forces in a bold scheme to burnish her brand. She will do whatever it takes to win.
It is summer, 2030. Truth is the weapon, and profit is the territory. Behind the screens, Marvin Stone is a wealthy recluse who uses powerful, cutting-edge technology to rewrite the rules of the game. As the rules change, Augustine Santa Clara, a former social media star, struggles to adjust. On the Continent, the popular and charismatic King Cordial of Vale works covertly to undermine his rivals. His youngest daughter, Costmary, is in his cross-hairs. Rue, his older daughter, takes on an exciting new challenge. Gala is the King’s firstborn. When she is named Princess Regent, she forges new ties and unveils her master plan.
Trailer created by Ateeb Khan.
This morning, I received a surprise gift: A box of rose-shaped cookies from a Tokyo patisserie called Tulip Rose. I can’t have the cookies because I’m gluten intolerant, so I took photos before giving them away.
The illustrations are from individually-wrapped drip coffee sachets. I received four from a colleague who found them while hunting for coffee deals on Amazon. I have had three so far. (When I say I have coffee, I mean a milk substitute, cream, sugar, and coffee as a flavour).
I kept the packaging in case I could create some yummy photo art. The moment has arrived, the coffee brand is called Tasogare, and the beans are from Ethiopia and Brazil.
Thank you for your support so far. Please enjoy the cookies with your beverage of choice, a warm hug from me, and best wishes for the months ahead.
( ^ω^ )
Dominae Sol serenat omnia
Based on Mediaeval Latin verses in the Codex Buranus. Below, you will see the English translation.
The Sun is my Empress, She shines over everything
I was tempted to put the full text here. However, I remembered that Chrome’s translation software would chew it up. I hope the two images render without any issues. If there are any, let me know. The raw text is available, so please contact me if you would like to have it.
Image: Postcard I received recently of Anna Ishii’s 2019 work, “Charming and mesmerising” – 193 cm x 193 cm oil on canvas.
In a previous post, I mentioned that I was writing a coronation scene for a new novel. The story is set in 2033, and unfolds in the same universe as The Quarter Percent. We follow events from three perspectives. One belongs to Sebastian, who happens to be a nephew of Cordial’s.
Still drafting, but I know how the story ends. In the very last scene, after a bombshell revelation the previous evening, a hush falls over the nation on Coronation Day. The new monarch is Sebastian’s bestie, 35-year-old Carroll. In this draft of the story, Carroll’s father is still alive, so the proclamation of accession has to take place at the coronation.
By this point in the story, we have eavesdropped on meetings and know that the coronation will be stripped of pomp and pageantry. Sebastian has been asked to whittle down the government’s expenditure on the ceremony to mere shillings. The ceremony is a reckoning with the public which, after a display of hubris, has completely lost face. Nonetheless, the ordeal has been humiliating for Carroll.
The proclamation text is based on EIIR’s 1952 accession and 1953 coronation. (Read a short story inspired by the latter). As mentioned in that earlier post, Google was reading over my shoulder and recommended gospel music to me on YouTube. I made some artwork to display the text that was misunderstood. I hope you like it.
Note: This post was originally intended for publication on this date, 09/20, but I moved it up a week. I moved it back here to make way for a different post. Thank you for your attention, as always. Header image: Izrael Poznanski Palace in Lodz, Poland, by Jacques Bopp, via Unsplash. Concept art: “Accession proclamation for King Carroll”, Posca watercolour pens, and Pilot Juice metallic ink on matte/glossy magazine paper.
There is a torrential downpour forecast for this week. I came home during a lull, grabbed my tablet and both of my phones and thought, “I’m going to the office/coffee shop to take advantage of the quiet time to write a scene for my upcoming novel.” Why, oh why, did I check my email before going outside?
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I live in the same universe as the author who wrote bestselling fan-fiction about a woman who was kidnapped and assaulted by a dude for 365 days. Therefore, I will write whatever I like. Please do not misunderstand this post. I am not griping about feedback from a man who tried to say I was “nutty” for using research and my fertile imagination to write a fictional story.
As I have said before, people like what they like. And when they don’t, here come the excuses. It’s like when a guy meets a girl and she has a perfect oval face, hair that is soft and silky, and skin like nectar. She is kind, polite, chews with her mouth closed, and speaks five languages. Except … she has a 32A chest and he can’t feel it for her, he whines to his friends over a beer, because his eyes cannot focus on a woman who does not have a 36 GG chest. And if that woman has to go to Seoul or Bangkok and have them stitched into her body for his viewing pleasure, so be it. “You’re giving me a real athletic vibe,” he later says to the girl over spaghetti. “Are you into sports? You should be a sports model.” The girl feels bad.
In July, I was worried that people would find my story bland, given the current year we live in. However, this afternoon, I read a message explaining to me that the story for The Quarter Percent was quote, A NUTTY IDEA THAT WORKED OUT WELL IN YOUR MIND, unquote. Get it? This person accurately described my process for writing every fictional story that I’ve ever published on this blog.
People enjoy reading about themselves. So, I guess he felt left out? One of the women in my novel is an engineer who does engineering things, while being partially clothed. A real woman doing a postdoctoral fellowship in engineering read it and sent me an email to say she enjoyed the story. And to be fair, if I read a book by an author who was using their work to attack a protected class or group, I would shred it and mail it to the publisher.
But I tell you all of that because I want to say that the story for the sequel to my first novel is over-the-top, dystopian, unconventional, irreverent, and chaotic. In fact, my process is that if scenes feel NORMAL they are immediately scrapped. Or I rewrite until things get CRAZY. If someone reads that novel and doesn’t think it’s crazy, I will be very upset.
After a busy month of literally no weekends, I finally have a four-day weekend coming up. I will be spending most of it writing. Some day, in the future, you will meet Mimi, a public health nurse who has lost her sense of humour given the situation unfolding in her country. Compared to her, Rue of Vale is going to look like a Sunday school teacher.
Go out in the morning,
into the tabernacles and the courts.
Blessed are the souls that receive you;
they will be comforted.
Do not faint from toil; find rest
in mine house. Sleep, and see
a mystery in the early moments,
before the trumpets will sound.
Continue to the city, touching
all who praise thee for thy works.
Blessed are the faithful that rejoice
in thy labour; they will obtain
gladness even until the latter rain.
I will not age
nor show how frail I am,
nor let the flower of my glory fall away.
Yea, I will bless them that sow in joy
and wait to taste the bounteous supper.
Mine riches shall I heap upon their heads.
Therefore, feel not disquiet,
but hope. Walk in righteousness,
and be worthy. Weep not for days,
but return to me. And measure not
my devotion in a handsbreadth;
surely, it will endure
Thank you, everyone, for your encouraging words on my last post. This poem is based on Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem). English text: King James Bible. Original image: Nghia Do Thanh. Musical inspiration: Junkie XL’s Brothers in arms.
Therapy is working. I had to complain to my therapist about this because, for two weeks, I have been staring at a wall of text that usually my brain would gather up and frappé into a poem.
However, my therapist and I have worked out my underlying issues. The stuff that was causing me to be codependent, passive-aggressive, resentful, angry, and vindictive had helped me to write poetry. There is no better way to cloak my hostility or deny my own needs. Now, the magic is gone. Nice job, doctor.
I am able to confidently state my needs, and sometimes that involves screaming to the world that I’m not okay. This always happens when I am in traffic on Sundays, but I think that’s true for everyone. Anyway, she says I need to ping my brain with music. I say that it is a meditative process that only works for writing prose fiction. We also talk about feeling sad about the tragic passing of someone we all know.
After that conversation, I swear to Jesus, I went to YouTube and I see Sarah Brightman posed like the Columbia Torch Lady. I had no idea that she released an album in 2018. I listened out of curiosity, and realised that YouTube did not suggest this to me before because I avoid songs that praise the Lord Almighty, in English. I made a face at first, but it stuck and I had to play it again. The song is based on A German Requiem by Brahms. It sounds uplifting, cheerful, and transporting.
How did this happen? Google’s neural networks are getting better at listening to my private chats (!) and/or analysing my emails. I strongly suspect the latter because yesterday, I emailed myself the ecclesiastical portion of a coronation scene that I am writing. It’s for a new novel, but the machine believes that I’m Catholic or something. Oops.
I love the song. And I still can’t write poetry.
One is a crowd.
My addiction of choice is your past.
Its powerful spell makes me anxious,
creates a tension that is so deep.
You are cocky and terrific. Grinding
right there is the hardest thing in the world.
But your stuff was beautiful and
the consummation was
a thing of enchantment.
I genuflect under control.
The second half makes me want to get
squelched so fast into several pews.
The three-part thing was so spontaneous.
You are a pretty raw wonder. You did
something really special with your stick.
Took a minute for it to sink in.
Just love to picture it.
How beautiful to know
it all works inside me.
Truthfully, strong man, morality
is all stupidity and foolishness.
I think I’m pouting, yet taking it
painfully is humbling.
The comments remind me of a time when humans had a sense of humour and understood sarcasm. Originally published May 25, 2015. Image by Diana Vartanova via Unsplash.
P.S. Still unable to see any notifications for this post five hours after posting. Please leave a comment so I can holler at you.
My novel has been released into the wild, and I should be celebrating, but I am back on the Ferris wheel. I finally understand why some writers don’t even try. The book promotion game is not necessarily about self-confidence, diligence, originality, or skill. What happened?
THE QUARTER PERCENT is on Amazon.
FREE downloads through Friday, August 7.
Click that link and find out what the fuss is all about.
Friday, July 31, 06:20. I am on an influencer’s website binge-reading suggested articles. In twelve hours, it will dawn on me that this is an elaborate scheme to drive up page views and create demand for her services.
Only an hour after expressing my confusion with her process, I see two blog posts demonstrating the effectiveness of promoting free books for a limited time. They presented statistics, and graphs, as well as screen captures. My plan should work fine, but the influencer insists that people will never download a free copy of a book unless it has at least ONE five-star review on Amazon.
Keep calm, I get it: readers want to know what to expect, and they want to hear it from another reader. I completely agree. This is why I’m doing the promotion in the first place.
The influencer now advises me to get on social media and spend literally hundreds of hours tweeting and emailing strangers to ask them to read and review a free copy of my book. This contradicts her assertion that people won’t download my book unless it has reviews already.
I go back to the first message I sent her. Sure enough, in my pitch, there is a longer description and a link to the trailer. There is also an invitation to download a free copy when the promotion starts. It takes me a full day to realise that “books with five-star reviews on Amazon” was code for “don’t wanna read it.”
Her next suggestion is that I pay almost US$900 to an elite online book club in exchange for a single honest review by a team, on their website, a process that could take seven weeks.
I need to get off this Ferris wheel. I am told that I can’t promote my book without reviews, and that I won’t get reviews if I don’t promote my book. I stop reading, and in a panic, compose an email to my publisher.
Paperback format available soon. Big ups to my publisher, StelaEVF, for making this possible. Thank you, everyone, for your support.
Google is doing a terrible job stalking me on my new iPhone SE. Look at the ad they showed me (renting out your property circa death) while I was watching that Nicki Minaj video. Like, what exactly are they trying to imply? The Anaconda music video is at 943 million views, so I know you all saw it.
The Quarter Percent pays homage to Greek tragedies and is written in an episodic format with a ‘time-as-protagonist’ feel. I wonder if I should worry that some readers may not understand this even after I have suggested “focus on the timeline” in the two blurbs and the trailer? The story itself is based on William Shakespeare’s play Lear of Britain. We meet King Cordial on a Sunday morning and almost two weeks later, on a Friday morning, … read the novel.
I grew up around famous people and I know that for them, every problem is an image problem. The narrative style of The Quarter Percent is meant to illustrate the superficiality of this world. Quarter percenters are obsessed with what others think, and are doomed to live from one crisis to the next.
My question for you is do I need to create a long blurb for the back cover or should I trust readers to work things out for themselves?
For my next project, I was planning to sell out and write a romance novel. Not sure how, because I can’t even watch people kiss on telly. On top of that, real research with live participants is going to be a dead end, as I have no game.
After reading the treatment, I realised it wasn’t romantic. So I set it aside and tried to write a few scenes. Still nothing. To procrastinate, I googled name generators. That was when I spied an automatic romantic plot generator. The software gobbles up keywords and spews out plots in mere seconds. Here, you will see what I got when, just for fun, I tried it on for my new fiction project.
AUTO GENERATED PLOT
Madeleine Locke is a stunning, fit and focused actress. Her life is going nowhere until she meets Badger Mulroney, a slim, tall man with a passion for wealth. Madeleine takes an instant disliking to Badger and his stubborn and obsessive ways. However, when a stalker tries to smear Madeleine, Badger springs to the rescue. Madeleine begins to notice that Badger is naive at heart. But, the pressures of Badger’s job as an intimacy coach leave him blind to Madeleine’s affections. Madeleine focuses on fame to try and distract herself. Finally, when controlling model, Hurricane Nisto, threatens to come between them, Badger has to act fast. But will they ever find the sizzling love that they deserve?Auto-generated plot for a romance novel
Brilliant! Even I couldn’t have come up with an outline as terrible as that on my own. Then, I wondered, “Is there, like, an automatic novel generator, because I don’t wanna, like, you know, write a whole novel?” The answer is, yes, there is.
I plugged in the name of my main character, some adjectives, emotions, objects, place names, et cetera, and put the software to work. This is supposed to be a romantic short story, but as you can see, the software does not believe me.
ANGRY HURRICANE NISTO
An auto-generated story
Hurricane Nisto looked at the shattered shovel in her hands and felt angry. She walked over to the window and reflected on her freezing surroundings. She hated isolated Skartoya with its greasy, glamorous glacier. Then she saw someone in the distance. It was Madeleine Locke, a stubborn diva with hot hands and tight legs. Hurricane gulped and glanced at her own reflection. She was an angry, obsessive, wine drinker with skinny hands and tall legs.
Once, she had rescued Madeleine’s career from a burning building. But not even an angry person was prepared for Madeleine today. The blizzard teased like posing cheetahs. As Hurricane stepped outside, Madeleine glared at her with all the wrath of 8,484 controlling vigorous vixens.
They looked at each other with frustrated feelings, like two crispy, calm cougars acting at a very ruthless press conference, which had violin music playing in the background, and two vile uncles shilling to the beat. Madeleine looked jealous, her emotions blushing like a smooth, stinky satellite antenna. Then she stepped inside for a nice drink of red wine.
Thank you for reading my word soup. Have a great weekend coming up.
Indonesian artist, Poelosophy, created some concept art for my novel. There is an exhibit in Dublin, ‘North to South’, which features aboriginal art from Northern Europe and South America. The exhibit is the setting for a scene entitled ‘Big Daddy Pharma’.
Thank you for leaving encouraging words for me when I wrote about the impossible task of getting promotional work done. I’m still processing ideas and will be working on them as I go. Feeling like giving up is part of the journey. But I was amused at suggestions that I should actually toss my project. Hold on a second. I haven’t tried everything yet.
And I am quite sure that if someone were to lend me their celebrity friends and let me slobber all over them in the club, my novel would get downloaded really fast. A Russian woman who pretended to be a German heiress, and stole millions, has deals with Netflix and Shonda Rhimes. Other people, who look different, would be rotting, anonymously, in jail. So let’s be realistic about what’s going on out here.
In the past, I would have been totally destroyed by “delete your book” remarks. But Fifty Shades fan fiction 365 Days was optioned by Netflix. The film skyrocketed to first place last weekend. It tells the story of a gangster who kidnaps a woman, ties her up, and assaults her for an entire year so she will fall in love with him. Even the people who said they hated it, watched it to the end, and uploaded reviews to their YouTube channels. In other words, the release was a success.
If that film is out there, it means two things. One, thinking in terms of ‘good writing’ or ‘bad writing’ is unhelpful. Two, the universe now needs to be balanced, so I will be publishing my novel.
Perceived quality is not a metric that can be influenced by hand-wringing. Instead of telling people what they should/shouldn’t like, I should focus on finding (a) people who will read anything, (b) people who like everything they read, (c) people who like to read full-length novels on mobile devices and (d) people who collect ebooks.
The search continues …
Have a great week ahead.
As I have discussed before, my amazing book promotion campaign fell flat because everyone I approached wanted me to be a popular author before agreeing to help me promote my book. Gah!
Over the weekend, I decided to beta test the promotion of a promotional copy of my novel, The Quarter Percent. After receiving a copy formatted for Kindle from the book designer, I wanted to see how a free PDF copy would be received by an influencer who has a large audience of avid e-book readers. This person’s audience only wants fiction books that are FREE or which cost $0.99. Perfect for a beta test? Or so I thought.
After three days of discussions, I was floored when this influencer insisted, today, that the book be published to Amazon first. He also asked me, “But how will you benefit from people reading it?” I am confused. Isn’t the point of publishing a novel to have people read it?
In other words, his audience is not interested in books that are cheap or free. They want popular releases for free or at a super discount. Yet, the advice I have received is to give away promotional copies of my novel to generate buzz. That makes no sense, you say? Large film studios deal with this nonsense, too. That is why they leak promotional copies of new releases to torrent sites.
My confusion arises from the fact that official publication on Amazon defeats the purpose of beta testing the novel with readers in different locations, and watching how they respond to it. I need this information so I can know how and where to promote the story. What I don’t want is readers who are not the intended audience to write reviews on the Amazon page complaining that the novel has words and that the themes are ‘difficult’.
I used to joke that I am an alien from outer space. But I am beginning to believe that either I stepped into a wormhole and this is the underverse, or the inhabitants of this planet are insane.
In the first scene of the final chapter, Gala and the First Minister of Velour are in the crypt of Ruby Palace. On screen is a replay of the ‘fall of the house of Moss’. At a prestigious awards ceremony, in front of the crowned heads of the Continent, Mrs. Moss spills the dirt on the Continent’s aristocrats. Gala explains that it is her system of interpersonal sabotage.
In the epilogue, one of the characters receives an invitation card on his breakfast tray. The card is written in Morse. He presses it to the screen of his tablet to translate the message.
Have a happy week ahead, everyone.