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Just Jot It January: Day nineteen…

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I had already decided on a subject for today’s JJIJ post and I was ready to roll out some medium-grade snarking and pithy witticisms on the subject of internet gullibility, but then I got an e-mail and had a change of plan.

I’m sure the snarkiness will keep until tomorrow, it’s always good to have a post in reserve after all, and I have exciting news which my inner blogslut just won’t allow me to keep to myself.

Well, I’m excited anyway.

I doubt this is going to be much of a shock to anyone who has been following me for longer than a couple of months, but my excitement revolves around Stories In Green Ink, the anthology of short fiction by new writers that includes my first published work.

image I know I’ve been plugging the collection for a while now, but today I heard from Catherine Broughton, the nice lady who took submissions for the book in the first place, and she gave me some more good news.

Not only has the Kindle edition of the book now been updated to include a third story of mine but, since there were some changes required on the paperback version, and whilst the printers are making the alterations, I’ve been given the opportunity to have the extra story included in that one too.

Ok, not that thrilling, you may be thinking to yourself, but Catherine also informed me that I (and one other writer who contributed to the book) have been asked to supply a story for a second anthology!

Exciting, right?

So I’m going to have to choose another of my SoCS-inspired pieces of short-order fiction to grace the pages of the new collection.
I did, of course, ask Catherine if she knew why I’d been chosen to contribute for a second time (I assumed my name had been pulled out of a hat, as it was when I got to dedicate Stories In Green Ink) but she said, and I quote;

“Why were you chosen? Because they like your work!”

Well I’m happy with that.

#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day sixteen…

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For today’s JJIJ post, I thought I’d get creative with a new gadget.

I’ve been trying to find a decent gif making app for a while and I seem to have discovered a pretty good free one, so I had a play with it last night and came up with these three; the first was a test to try out the video gif maker and the other two are created from existing photos.

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Then this afternoon, I couldn’t resist having another go, before I began this week’s SoCS post, (which I still have to write after this one) and I decided to try a doodle.
See what you think…

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Right, I’d better get on with actually writing something, see you later…

#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day fourteen…

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As we reach the end of week two of Just Jot It January, it occurs to me (after reading some of the other posts that follow today’s prompt; “motivation”) that there are almost as many reasons for writing a blog as there are bloggers writing them.

I suppose it isn’t all that surprising, given the fact that everyone is unique and we all want something different from life, which explains why everyone has their own personal set of criteria for what makes blogging worthwhile.

For now though, I’m more interested in finding out why one blogger in particular chooses to do what they do.

Namely, me.

Because, if I’m honest, I really have no idea.

The only reason I’ve decided to break my self-imposed rule to try this month’s challenge without resorting to Linda G Hill’s prompts, is that I have been asked several times recently why I write, or what “inspires” me to do so, and I realised that it’s not something I’ve ever really thought about.

I had little or no interest in the internet until the arrival of smartphones, but as soon as I got my hands on the first primitive version of this incredible, science fiction-like pocket computer that we all now take for granted, I was hooked almost immediately.
And my first addiction was Facebook.

Initially, the nostalgic novelty of being able to reconnect with old school friends was enough to suck me into the social network, but after it became clear that I could communicate with an endless supply of other users, all over the world, people I’d never even heard of before, let alone met, I began to really have fun.

I have always loved language; the way words work, the etymology of communication and the way sentences seem to just flow when they spill from the word processor, typewriter or pen of certain writers.
The way that writers like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett could turn an everyday phrase into a comedic gem by adding a couple (or a few) extra words, words that didn’t strictly need to be there, but oh, you were glad of their understanding of what gave those extra words power.
The way that those little black marks on a page can form pictures in your head fascinated me, even as a child, but it had just never occurred to me to try to translate that wonder into pictures of my own.

But once I began to write smartass comments on Facebook and construct little rants and memes of my own, mainly for my own entertainment, I found the idea of having a platform of my own, from which I could address the vast expanse of the Weird Wide Web, increasingly attractive.
This first dabbling in virtual creativity coincided with my introduction by a  mutual friend to the extraordinarily talented blogger, author, globetrotting urban explorer and all round bohemian, Mr Darmon Richter, who encouraged and assisted me in making my bumbling way into the blogosphere.

Meanwhile, WordPress made the process of getting started an idiot-proof experience, even for someone with my Olympian level of idiocy with all things internet related and Diary of an Internet Nobody was born.

And then I started writing stuff down. I didn’t know any better.

As anyone who knows me personally will tell you, I can talk.
And talk.
So, with an audience of, theoretically, several billion, I just started writing what I’d say if I was talking to you, (until you surreptitiously looked at your watch and mumbled about needing to be somewhere, anywhere, urgently) I didn’t see the point of having a theme, my reasoning was; I’m not an expert on anything, I’ll just say whatever comes into my head and see if anyone listens.

Then fiction came along.
Well, it had been there before, I’d read bloody loads of it.
But this time I thought I’d do it from the sharp end, so to speak.*

Then I stumbled upon Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompts and I thought I’d have a go at doing them all as short stories.
Which is where I get to the point where it all gets a bit vague, because from the first time I sat down to write a story, it was, umm, well, it was easy.

I know that sounds smug and immodest, but I don’t know how else to explain it.
My very first attempt was prompted by;
” “ke.”  Use the letter combination at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the word you choose to base your post on…”
And this came to me, literally as I wrote it.
I was quite pleased, despite the fact a few people didn’t get it (you might need to read it twice) and every other story I’ve written, with the exception of The Wrong Stuff (which I had a rough idea about for the first post and then decided it would be fun to see where it went on its own) has been pretty much the same way, with varying levels of success.
Including having three stories published in an anthology, available on Amazon AT THIS LINK, just in case I’d forgotten to mention that.

None of which comes anywhere close to tackling “motivation” I’m afraid, but then I did tell you at the start that I had no idea.

* – I read this a few times and I know it doesn’t work as an analogy, but I still like it.

#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day twelve – The next day…

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Before I start the 12th post of JJIJ, I’d like to thank everyone who commented on yesterday’s David Bowie tribute, it’s good to know just how many of you were touched by his life and work.

Having said that, I just want to follow up that post with some reflections on how Bowie’s death was received in the UK.

Even after having spent the day reading (and writing) the tributes to him all over Facebook and on various blogs, it was still with a sense of unreality that I sat down to watch the news last night, because there was no warning, no way to ease ourselves into the idea that we were about to lose an icon of modem music.

Of course, with hindsight we are all now aware that the signs were there, hidden in plain sight on his latest album, Blackstar, with its themes of death, illness and one last transformation; from corporeal megastar to ephemeral legend in one small step, the ultimate space cadet left the planet for the final time.

When we know that we are soon to lose someone who means so much to us, we prepare ourselves, consciously or not, so that when we attend the funeral, watch a memorial service or read an obituary, we have already reached the point which enables us to put aside our sadness and celebrate the life of the one who is no longer with us.
But when the news comes as a shock, when we are caught unawares by such a loss, the reaction is often one of raw grief and irrational anger, that we have been deprived of the chance to properly say goodbye.

So it is a measure of how much a part of our psyche he’d become that, within hours of the news of his passing, after the posthumous message of Blackstar became clear, fans, journalists and fellow musicians alike were praising Bowie’s ability to surprise us, even at the end.

Indeed, it seems that the only person outside his immediate circle of family and friends who knew of his battle with cancer was Belgian theatre director Ivo van Hove, who was working with Bowie on the Lazarus stage show, for which he provided the soundtrack. Van Hove was apparently told of the singer’s illness when they started work on the project and was asked to keep it confidential.

Despite the sadness of yesterday’s announcement however, the overwhelming tone of the news coverage was one of celebration that we’d all been fortunate enough to share the planet with a man who made music and culture so unpredictable and fascinating.

Celebrity fan, Simon Pegg, summed it up perfectly with this tweet…

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…while Channel 4 News ran this piece, fronted by Paul Mason, (usually their economics editor, but clearly a huge Bowie fan) which caught the mood of the nation nicely…

…and followed it with a live feed from the former David Jones’ birthplace, Brixton in South London, where thousands of fans gathered to leave tributes at the Bowie mural there, and to remember him in the best way possible; by singing the songs that gave pleasure to so many, exactly the way he would have wanted.

Even anchorman Jon Snow, (himself a fan) signing off at the end of a show almost entirely devoted to the singer’s life and legacy, couldn’t hide his feelings, his voice cracking with emotion as he read a message from Bowie’s long-time friend and collaborator, Brian Eno.

So we said goodbye to a man who transcended fashion, musical fads and the very idea of what makes a rock star, making him a hero to millions of fans over five decades, all of whom, I’m sure, will pass on their love of an artist who never stopped evolving and ch-ch-ch-ch-changing.

It seems only right that I should finish this post with the album that brought David Bowie to the attention of yet another generation of new fans, when he returned to recording in 2013 with The Next Day.

It’ll be a long time before a man like him falls to Earth again.

#JusJoJan

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Posted by on January 12, 2016 in Just Jot It January, Music, News, TV, Video

 

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Just Jot It January: Day eleven – Ashes and Heroes…

image I almost wish I didn’t have anything to write about today for Just Jot It January.
You know me, I’ll waffle on quite happily about any old rubbish, don’t get me wrong, but this challenge forces me to try and come up with an original or topical subject every day and today has brought me one that I really don’t want to have to write about.

Or rather, I’ve got to write about it for a reason I wish I didn’t have.

The Cracked Actor, The Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Major Tom; all names synonymous with originality and eclectic musical genius, all of whom would be worthy of the plaudits and tributes of their peers, even if they had only made individual contributions to our understanding of what makes popular music such an unquantifiable medium to express artistic individuality.

Except of course, we know that these flamboyant and larger than life characters were all facets of the same unique and groundbreaking artist, the one of a kind cultural chameleon who was David Bowie.

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I quite literally didn’t believe it this morning, when the very first story on my Facebook newsfeed informed me that possibly the greatest musical hero of my generation was no longer with us.

It’s difficult to imagine a British musical landscape without the genre-defying presence of a man who saw no incongruity in a career that embraced musical forms that included glam, pop, rock, new wave, dance and blue eyed soul, as well as an indefinable style that can only be described as Bowie-esque.
His influence and inspiration are so ingrained in our musical heritage, so far reaching and ubiquitous, that the idea of him no longer surprising us with another unpredictable reinvention is almost unthinkable.

If Mick Jagger had announced that the Rolling Stones were going to release a trip hop concept album, I suspect (no, I hope) that he would have been roundly mocked and told that he should leave that sort of thing to the youngsters.
And yet, when Bowie brought out a Drum and Bass record at the age of fifty, nobody batted an eyelid, because he’s David Bowie and that’s exactly the sort of thing we had grown to expect from him.

I mean, if one artist can produce a bombastic rock masterpiece and an ultra-slick soul classic in two consecutive years, then, musically speaking, all bets are off.
Which is precisely what made it so difficult for an industry obsessed with pigeonholing, to pin down a man whose hunger for change and personal discovery put him outside the normal definition of a pop star.
Because that is exactly why we loved him; we just didn’t know what he was going to do next.

The man who started his career as plain old Davy Jones achieved something that few, if any, musicians have managed before or since; to become an accessible and populist teen idle, an enigmatic underground cult figure, a genuine, stadium-filling Rock God, a movie star, a consistently original and influential visual artist and an almost universally loved national treasure and the true wonder of his astonishing legacy is that none of this seemed in the least bit contradictory or contrived.

I can’t remember a time in my life that hasn’t been soundtracked by David Bowie’s music.
Whether it was hearing the quirky psychedelia of The Laughing Gnome on Radio One’s Junior Choice as a kid, seeing the extraordinary video for Ashes To Ashes for the first time, or the shiver of emotion that came from hearing him tell the crowd that “You are the real heroes of this concert” at Live Aid, Bowie has always been at the forefront of innovation and he personifies what makes pop music such a fascinating art form.

I was initially shocked at how much emotion was stirred up by today’s sad news, but I suppose that, given the fact that here was a man who provided the soundtrack to my entire life, I shouldn’t be surprised that writing this post has caused a certain dampness around the eyes and a little difficulty in swallowing the lump in my throat.

I leave you with two milestones in a career that has spanned half a century of musical transformations; first the story of probably his most memorable creation, Ziggy Stardust, followed by his most recent release, Blackstar.

Goodbye and thank you Major Tom, it’s now time to leave the capsule if you dare.

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David Robert Jones: 08/01/47 – 10/01/16.

#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day ten – New Starship Gypsies post…

image Ok, I’m cheating today, I’m posting the chapter I just finished writing on Starship Gypsies for today’s Just Jot It January entry.

But I think that’s allowed, isn’t it?

#JusJoJan

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Starship Gypsies

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Eric Lazzaro was worried.

He honestly didn’t know what to think.
Was she playing with him, stringing him along until he caved in and asked her, just so she could laugh at his embarrassment?

He couldn’t believe that he wouldn’t remember something, well, something like that happening, no matter how drunk he got, and yet Carli had been so obviously upset that he’d forgotten about it, it made him question his inability to recall anything about even seeing her that night, let alone…anything else happening.

He needed to think and found himself heading to the canteen for coffee.
Well at least he had his pass back, he thought, as he turned into the doorway of the large open space that acted as the ship’s dining area.
He stopped short when he saw Carli and her friend Diaz, sitting at a table on one side of the room, but they didn’t…

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Just Jot It January: Day nine…

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It’s been a busy day, so for today’s JJIJ post I’m co-opting a guest artist to provide the ninth jot, namely my daughter, Audrey.

Here’s her school homework; a poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which I took her to see over Christmas, featuring the climactic battle between Rey and Kylo Ren.

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#JusJoJan

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Posted by on January 9, 2016 in Arts, Films, Guest spots., Just Jot It January

 

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