Happy Two Month Old Blog!

Mmmm... Cake

Mmmm… Cake

A few days late with this, but whatever, it’s the internet. I can say it’s the Vatican Queen’s birthday and people will believe me. In breaking news, they just made me Phantom of the Opera. But before I go for rehearsals, let’s do a blog review and discuss WordPress Analytics! Note, this is a self-serving post, anybody who reads this and gets pissed off, well, it’s your fault.

Good Stuff That Happened In March

  • Content: I’ve hit the sweet spot in terms of where I want my blog to be now. Mostly original content backed by my stories. I no longer feel the need to hide behind big name writers and websites. Not sure how this happened, I didn’t plan for it. It just came out. Heck, I even wrote one semi-guide using my own content and examples.
  • Originality: I’m writing more original content in all my posts – stories, reviews, ravings, guides, then ever before, all in, I’m pouring over 20,000 words of self-written content into my blog each month. About 600-800 original words per post with lots of quotes. It seems that with each week, I use less and less of other people’s content.
  • Theme: I think I found a theme which I am comfortable sitting on, one that actually has readable fonts while still providing structure. Though I’m still sad that I cannot just increase the font size automatically. Why WordPress sticks with mainly tiny fonts, I have no idea. Just 1-2 size upgrades for me would be perfect. Other than that, I’m still eyeing the MimboPro theme enviously, though I think it’s a dumb move since I don’t have that much content for such a newsy theme.

Bad Stuff That Happened In March

  • Like-Trollers: Still an amazing ton of them. Not sure where they get their kicks from honestly. What’s sad is when I click on their blogs, they have tens of thousands of followers. Like me, you have probably followed a few trolls before who liked all your post but never actually read anything. WordPress seriously needs to clean this up, if nothing else it is extremely misleading, encourages bad behaviour, and has turned one of the major metrics into a downright joke.
  • Follower-Trollers: Not as bad, but yea, I can’t get rid of you, and that makes me sad. I can imagine WordPress doing an infograph one day showing off all these metrics, and I’ll just be like whatever. If I can block them from even showing up anywhere, that would totally make my day. No, diarrhoea medicine guy or crappy SEO guy, I am not interested in you. The bad thing is, I’m wary about following people now, or even clicking on the likers in my post. More than 50% of them are turds.
  • Readership-Count Dropped: It’s just a given that fiction story posts do not get the same number of views as say a reblog from a famous author or a writing guide post. One of my stories, got a lot of new viewers because I tagged gaming, xbox and stuff. But did they actually read the posts, no. Refer to like-trollers. Plus I didn’t get the big reblog I got in Feb and earlier in March. One reblog by a big site will totally send your site to new heights for the entire week and not just the day. But still, I try to cut down on troll posts unless it’s something I like, e.g. Mad Men or World War Z (only 2 likes but top viewed post for content posted in April).

Analytics… Or “Pics Else It Didn’t Happen”

  • Internet loves Memes – Those I posted in the past are still my top posts on a week-to-week basis – The Immortal Jellyfish (20% of all my views), The Biodegradable Urn and The Gazelle Meme all gets lots of hits from Google. Jellyfish gets consistent hits every single day. The view count of that alone is multitudes higher than everything else, even those reblogged by others. The Gazelle Meme got like 11 one day, just not sure why. These people do not bother reading the other stuff too, so whatever.
  • Readership Count is Wonky All you need is one reader trolling through your entire site and your view count skyrockets. Honestly on all the best views days, that’s what happens. Else, I attract a very small but consistent unique user figure, just the number of views differ.
  • How to get to 1000+ followers Post and tag more photo prompts of the hottest google searches, reblog more content from big names. Until my own stuff gets better, thats the only way. Else I could make internet-friendly stories, very short, to the point, with a gimmick… maybe next time. Until then, just got to brush up my own content.

What I want to do

  • Need More People To Follow – I unfollowed quite a lot of people this month, but now I actually have a awesome reading list choke full of stuff I want to read instead of “Gif of blogger of the month” award ten times in a row, when their blog has more exclamation points and “You can do it!” stuff than actual content. Hence would like to look for new people to follow. Story Tellers, Artists, and Writing Guides are nice. The who to follow tool on the Reader page sucks very bad. No poetry or haikus though.
  • Keep At It – Just keep what I’m doing. But clearly I need to change somethings to get readers. The only way I see I can do that with sticking to the theme of stories, is probably to do something like Rick Mallery and his amazing Power Shorts Daily. I have the base in my photo prompts, just need  a change of style and become as awesome a writer as he is.
  • Structure something – People like structure or know if something can be expected. Using Rick Mallery as an example again. A story on a daily basis in your email – Very neat idea. Particularly when they have been all pretty amazing thus far. Follow him.

Gems Of The Month 

Rob Akers – Another story-teller. He writes stories based on his time in Iraq / Kuwait as a C130 pilot. He doesn’t focus on the action though, you get a detailed look at life behind the scenes. The politics and the fear in the eyes of the soldiers.

Amazing Series on Dialogue By Les Edgerton – He guest-posted them on Kristen Lamb’s blog. Amazing four-parter article that will train you how to look at dialogue differently, including the tricky subtext. Too bad he doesn’t have a WordPress blog, but he does have a Blogspot one though.

End Thoughts

I’ve decided to be more active on Quora again. They actually have an amazing community discussing and posting stories, story ideas and what-nots. In bite-size friendly pieces. Plus I like answering when people ask for ideas.

End Post. I shall have my digitally enhanced cake and eat it now. Gif-flavored icing rocks.

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Well that just happened. I went off track with my story on the last 5000 words and it reads more like a fantasy / sci-fi novel with a horror theme than a horror story. Backtracking a little to see what I can salvage, but it’s a big slap in the face for me. Spent the whole of today creating Story / Character / Idea chit sheets with a whole bunch of checklists this time to make sure it won’t happen again.

Feeling the burn. Fortunately most of the parts can be dissected and reused… oh well. Started another story as well, will upload it tomorrow. Next time, I’ll write off the seat of my pants only for the first 10K words before I sit down and plan things out… or you know, just plan things out from the start.

P.S: Apparently Big Bang Theory just used the immortal Jellyfish as a conversation opener for their last episode, so I just received quite a bump on my Immortal Jellyfish post. The power of the media. This post and another Ang Lee one I wrote are my most popular posts right now. Kinda sad about it, but oh well, a view’s a view.

Alone In The Crowd: Part 1 (Present Tense Rewrite)

OMG! Present tense is ridiculously hard to pull off, I must have written over 5,000 words in the last 5 hours trying to make it sound right. And that’s for like only 1500 words in a second rewrite! I’ve actually edited much more beyond this point, but I am not satisfied with the results in the next section – present tense in a dialogue setting – which is actually Part 2 of the story, For now, please let me know how does a present tense version of the story sounds. To give you a comparison, here is the old one in past tense. Please be brutally honest, I don’t want to waste too much time on present tense if it doesn’t work. Thanks

EDIT: Reuploaded, rewritten. Mostly to remove long-winded bits and extraneous dialogue.


Alone In The Crowd: Part 1 (Present Tense Rewrite)

I’m alone in here, surrounded by people who use to know me, listening to the idle chatter buzzing all around. The clink of wineglasses punctuates the constant drone, and I can hear gratuitous cheering ever so often, signaling the arrival of another fresh face to the party. People who never keep in touch for fifteen years suddenly behave like old friends, hugging and doling out the high fives, filling the air with the sickening cloy of their pretentious bull.

Sitting in my corner, I roll my eyes at the elaborate facade on display, wondering just how many superlatives they can add to a compliment before it becomes drivel. High school reunion, nostalgia, whatever. The spirit of good cheer takes one look at the toxic dump that is my memory of Glendale High, and dies without even trying. Just as well, since nobody here seems to notice me.

I entertain myself with a beer, watching and waiting for that something bad that inevitably happens at parties like this. Drunks and tight spaces were never a good combination for anything. I’m betting either loudmouth there by the window gets pushed off by a raging drunk, or blondie here in the short skirt ends up with that dickhead leering at her from across the room. Whatever it is, I feel it already. Somewhere in this this room, my latest muse awaits.

“Get lost skank!”

“Shut up whore!”

The music stops. I look up. Two women on the dance floor are in a cat fight. They scream and they scratch, ripping into one another with their manicured nails, apparently over the bemused man in the middle trying to break them up.

The drunken sadists in the room howl for blood. “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

I watch the fight from my little corner, enjoying the spectacle as I feel my arousal building. I always had a thing for bloodsport. Here’s hoping that one of them snatches an eye out. That’ll be a fine way to start the night.

It doesn’t happen. Their friends come and pull them apart kicking and swearing. The music starts up again and small talk continues. It’s as if the fight never happened.

An hour later, I’m still sitting in my corner adding scratches to the table with my keys. The bartender who hands me my fourth beer tells me to stop. This party sucks, and so is this story. I need to find something better. Maybe if I didn’t start the night as a depraved writer in a party full of people ignoring me.

Wait, what’s this?

I see her squeezing her way through the heaving bodies on the dance floor. Perhaps it’s the dim lighting, or perhaps it’s the booze. Whatever it is, it has to be something that makes people do stupid things, since she’s waving to me right now.

“Peter, hey!” she shouts above the music

I shuffle deeper into my little corner, trying hard to ignore the female protagonist making her entrance into my story. I’m not very good at romantic fiction.

“Hey!” she says, walking up and taking the seat beside me.

“Hey,” I reply, what else am I suppose to say?

“Remember me?” she asks in a jingly voice that reminds me of one of those secretaries in Mad Men.

I look her over once and rack my brains. Long brown hair, porcelain skin, white fleshy thigh… If I’ve seen her before, it’s probably part of my private movie collection.

‘Sasha Grey?” I say, trying my luck.

She gives me a bewildered look before breaking into girlish laughter. “Nice try Peter, I’ll take that as a compliment. It’s me Lyla.”

I roll her name on my tongue, finding it unfamiliar.

“You are Peter right?” She says hesitating.

I nod once. It’s been a while since someone has called me Peter. I go by my pen name now, Borris Black. Peter Pendleton just doesn’t inspire the same vibe when you’re trying to sell horror for a living.

“Wow, it is you, how have you been!” she says, flashing a megawatt smile and tucking her luxurious mane behind her ear. “Words out that you’re some fancy writer now eh, must be exciting to see your work in public.”

“A little,” I say, scrunching my eyes as I try to place her name and face again. For the life of me, I cannot recall ever meeting a Lyla.

“You don’t remember me do you?” She says, giggling at my effort. “Braces, black glasses, dorky hair, ninth grade?”

Social protocol dictates that I should have an idea now, or at least pretend to remember while I smile and play along. But since I honestly can’t remember and don’t give a damn about what others think, I shook my head politely. It’s been a while since I’ve thought about my life back when I was a Peter.

“It’s okay,” she says, making a good sport out of being forgotten. “Let’s just start over. Hi, my name is Lyla Fisher, I’m a fashion designer and I’ve just moved back to Glendale. I’ve been living in New York for a while, but I miss my family, so now I’m back. Please to meet you Peter!”

“Borris. Borris Black.” I reply, correcting her. As far as I’m concerned, Peter Pendleton was dead and buried. “I go by my pen name now, please to meet you Lyla.”

We shake hands, which probably makes Lyla my friend now, though I still have no idea what this woman wants from me.

“So Peter… I mean Borris, how’s life,” she asks, getting my name right as she leans in towards me.

“Busy, you know, writing stuff. ”

That was a lie. I actually haven’t written anything of worth in the last eight months, which makes my claims of being a writer pretty dubious. But then again, I am trying.

“What are you writing now?” Lyla asks, twirling her hair with a finger as she takes a half step forward.

“Just started on my second novel, thought it’ll be fun to come over and say hi to the folks, maybe get a few ideas.” I lie again.

The Book Case: Return Of The Novella

20130301-000404.jpgThis was a fun little quick read. I believe the word count is close to 17,000. The writing style is extremely fast and fluent in this story, except towards the end as in the case for most detective mysteries when too many things must happen for the story to wrap up.

I’m usually not a fan of detective work since it tends to plod on before the author throws everything at you at once (the big ah-ha! moment), but I’m still highlighting this book because Demille’s writing style in this book is something I wish to aspire towards someday. Full of dry wit, random nonsense and little quirks that does not take away too much from the story. He was using an old character from his previous series though, so do not expect too much character descriptions and background here.

Also, I have been intrigued by this medium-length sort of effort lately. Quick reads that resemble more of an episode of Big Bang Theory instead of a 3 hour long movie epic. Maybe it is just me or a passing fad, but I think with how reading habits are forming up in the past few years, shorter more-to-the-point work might be the new thing here. Maybe I should give the 15,000 mark a whirl and see how it goes.

I Am Legend

I am legend

Firstly, ignore that horrendous movie that used the name as this novel. That movie has absolutely nothing to do with this book. Get it out of your mind completely. Done that? Good. Now stop thinking about Will Smith as well.

Last night, I had the chance of revisiting this amazing novella in a late night reading binge. This was probably my fourth time reading it since I picked up the ebook. And yes, I got it only after I saw the freaking awesome trailer for the movie in the cinema. Guilty as charged.

But as run-of-the-mill and disappointing as the movie was, this novella totally isn’t. They start off pretty similarly, focusing on the protagonist and his day-to-day struggles of living in a world overrun by vampires. But when it comes to the second half of the book. Mind blown. Completely.

Richard Matheson delivers a horror story packed with a thoughtful ending that provokes the reader to think about the idea of horror itself. After multiple read throughs, I can safely say that you will never finish the book feeling the same way twice.

I highly recommend this book. If you don’t want to buy it, I’m sure the library would have it. And if you need a few more reviews to convince yourself, here’s another 700 more.

And for the budding horror writers out there. perhaps look at this as well as Death By Utopia to learn an alternative presentation for horror beyond the physical. Look beyond disgustingly-gruesome to discover the true essence of horror, frightfully-chilling.