#TwistedChildhood: NEW Short Story Project

Mushrooms
#ChildhoodRuined

Given the success we had with the last short story project hosted here on chynnablueink.com (see: The Zombie Project), it’s just about time for another. Good short stories are like Doritos. You can’t stop at just one. And it’s been WAY too long since you, my lovely readers, were treated to a delicious, all-you-can-eat buffet of amazing content from published authors and querying writers alike.

What you can expect: Free content from your favourite writers? Check. Undoubtedly weird theme that’ll push the boundaries of said writers’ creativity? Double check. Discovering new authors you just luuurve, some of whom have books available to buy right now? Triple check. It wouldn’t be a #codeblue project, otherwise.

The theme: One of the worst things about growing up is losing touch with your favourite characters. So this time, we’re bringing adulthood to Neverland. I’m talking Winnie the Paralegal. Horton Hears a Homicide. It’s like reading your favourite bedtime story but with beer goggles on and instead of milk and cookies you’ve got leftover chinese food and wine. Ever wondered what would happen if The Grinch stole Guantanamo Bay? Now you don’t have to!

grow up

How to get involved: We’re still taking sign-ups, so if you want to take part, hit me up on Twitter (@chynnablueink) or send a raven.

Interested? All updates, including featured authors and new stories, will be posted on Twitter via the hashtag #TwistedChildhood. A list of the authors involved will be posted reallll soon right here on chynnablueink.com, including Twitter handles and blog links. Following them is another great way to stay updated. And trust me–you don’t wanna miss this.

 

Operation SoapSud: Job Hunting

Today’s Soundtrack – Everybody Loves Me by One Republic (awesome track.)

I don’t need to tell you that the world is increasingly going Online (here we include the appropriately ominous capitalisation.) If you want to find a job nowadays–hell, if you want to succeed at anything–your online presence is a Big Factor (again, with the capitalisation.) When you have a name like mine, Google can be your best friend or your worst enemy. (Hello, awkward Instagram selfies; Goodbye, potential position at prestigious firm…) One way to counteract the personal vs. professional issue is to create separate accounts that are specialised. By that I mean one account for you and your crazy self; another account for your writer-ways; a third account for your professional hire-me face…

are you not entertained
Me when I don’t hear back from a job application. Seriously, guys, I’m awesome. What gives?

Privatise your personal account and keep those Samuel L. Jackson memes where they belong–under the virtual Twitter lock. Voila, you’ve got your fresh, world-face, open to the public, and your 1AM cheese-puff crumb face saved for your nearest and dearest. Or, at least, those online friends you’ve never met but somehow are more willing to listen to your woes than your actual relatives.

What started out as one, personal Twitter account has become two, or three, or more. If you’re anything like me (qualified graduate praying for a decent position, anyone?) you’re faced with a problem. You’ve amassed a significant following on your ‘personal’ account: Check. At some point, that personal account merged into a semi-professional-this-is-what-I-do-in-my-spare-time-please-pay-me-for-it platform. How to extricate the two?

You can’t privatise the account and keep it as your personal without losing your significant following as a platform. It also hides your account content from potential employers (obviously) so they have no knowledge to back up your high following outside the possibility that you might just post hilarious memes all day. You could create a new account and blast it on the old one (read: New account, please follow!), but then you’re a.) annoying and b.) probably gonna get lost in the quagmire of everyone’s timeline. Plus you’re then dividing your time between a personal and a public (maybe even two publics–writer and professional), and if you’re like me and want a career in social media, by the time you’re finished at work you’re unlikely to be dedicated to keeping your own stuff updated in triplicate. Apps like HootSuite can be great for scheduling posts and keeping on top of things if you’re down for this approach. At the moment without paying for premium you can run three accounts comfortably. That includes Twitter, Facebook and Bubble. It also lets you geotag searches, which is good if you’re looking for info within a particular area–useful for me when I was sourcing clients within a particular region during my time as a marketing manager. For me, though, Hootsuite is better if you’re running a professional campaign rather than managing your own accounts. Scheduled tweets lose some of the personality of updates, especially on Twitter where responses help build your presence. I don’t think you can really substitute the hands-on approach (where possible) which is likely why I’m always glued to my computer.

For those reasons, I prefer the cleanup method. Review your timeline, your followers, those you’re following, remove, edit, alter, polish, big smile, flashbulb, etc. Which is why I’ll be spending my afternoon on operation SoapSud. Like raking the leaves from my technological garden, I’ll be sprucing up my online presence. SoapSud should help both my job-search and author image look a little more put-together. After all, how can people employ me to run their social streams unless I can show my own is squeaky clean and flowing smoothly?

 

Wish me luck!

Blue

wish me luck
Job searches are coming…

 

Life and Things

Soundtrack – By The Way by the Red Hot Chili Peppers

 
I was reading my own manuscript the other day using the Kindle app on my phone and thinking about all the things I’d change were I sitting in front of a computer. Perspective is a funny thing. I never bought into the idea that leaving your writing alone for a while would make a difference. And yet, looking back retrospectively at words I’d written years before–what I just this second realised was three years before, to be exact–I noticed things not previously apparent to me. The redundant statements I’d made. Things that were obvious in the prose which I spelled out a couple of lines later.
 
I’m not really sure if it’s a case of me improving as a writer or that the distance made it easier to notice my mistakes. Maybe my style is changing. I could wax poetic and talk about how my approach is becoming more succinct in line with my changing worldview, but I’m not feeling a Hamlet moment today. I have noticed a difference in the way I see things. Whether it’s a result of ageing or experience, I don’t know. The latter part of that statement sums up what seems to be a fairly prevalent theme in my life at the moment–I don’t know. Anything. Except the simple stuff.
 
I miss writing. Once my tests are out of the way, the ideas that have been marinating will be going down on paper. Or screen. Whatever.
 
This has been a public service announcement. Inspired by life and things. I miss you guys.
 
Peace.

In Which I Explain My Absence…

Today’s soundtrack – Underground by David Bowie

What up, guys and dolls?!

Hell, it’s been a long time. A really long time. Although it seems kind of appropriate that my return falls on this day, of all days. I have to tell you, with the amount of lines I’ve written and deleted in this post, it’s a wonder it isn’t ten times longer than it is.

There’s a lot to say and I’m not really sure how to say it. A lot has been going on in my life over the past few months, as you can probably tell from my extended absence. It’s not even so much that I’ve been busy. I’ve had time to post, I’m not gonna lie. A couple of times I’ve opened up the webpage, hit ‘new post’, only to realise I have nothing to say. Because all the things that have been happening–mostly too personal to share–wouldn’t get out of the way so I could write something else. It’s been months since I opened my manuscripts. Months since I’ve felt like reconnecting with the writer world. The flipside of that is a good way to explain how I’ve been feeling: disconnected. Totally, completely disconnected. But as of today…well, I kind of feel like me again.

There’ve been a couple of false alarms–I don’t know how many times I’ve opened Twitter, posted some grand, sweeping statement about being ‘back’, then disappeared into the ether again. Real life can be a huge, unwelcome distraction, especially when it comes between you and virtual friends you’ve come to rely on. Julie, Kristen, I only hope you can forgive me for being such a shitty friend. I haven’t been there when I should’ve been, and I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you, I swear.

So, where am I at right now? Well, I recently started a new job–wamw, that’s me. (To anyone not familiar with Fall Out Boy–‘waitress, actor, model, writer’.) I tend bar in a country pub not far from my house. It’s cute. Very quaint. Typically English. I’m sure you guys would love it. I’m back at University, still plugging away at my degree. I’m also in a new relationship, which I’m pretty fucking happy with. Sickeningly so.

New house, new everything.

Life is weird. For a long time I felt kind of like I’d lost control and I was watching my life happen without me. As though all my decisions were premade, and things were going to go that way and it wouldn’t be good but life is cruel and there’s nothing you can do about it. Because no one really gets what they want, and no one is ever satisfied, and happiness is a myth we made up to give us something to strive for. Cheery thoughts, no?

So I made some changes. I feel better now. Like I can take control again. I still feel like I’m spinning, but I’m learning to roll with it. It’s hard to get back on the horse when you’ve been off it for so long, but I think the wall I’ve been stuck behind has only contributed to the listless purposelessness I’ve been feeling. I need to get back into writing, into blogging, into being myself–i.e., word vomiting through a pixelated medium.

So, hey. I really am back this time. At least for the foreseeable future.

I’ve missed you guys.

Blue

Are you there, fan fiction? It’s me, Blue.

Today’s Soundtrack – Allie by Patrick Stump. (Here’s a thought–why don’t you listen whilst you read? I’m tryna give you a multisensory experience here, yo.)

I am a fan of any kind of writing.

I love words. Books, poems, TV, lyrics, blogs…literally anything that at some point in the creative process has involved someone scribbling on a piece of paper. I find that whole writing-by-candlelight thing fascinating. Which is why I endeavour to do it, natch.

In terms of books, though, there’s something that’s always bothered me. It kind of splits into two halves, and neither of the halves can be reconciled, so it’s essentially a pointless and rambling statement. But this is my blog, so tough shizz.

Número uno: it bothers me that authors never do what you want them to do.

Admit it: we all have our guilty fantasies about the characters we wish had gotten it on. All those lust-filled gazes that never amounted to anything can be pretty damn frustrating. And who says the characters even have to get together at the end of it? Keep to the main love story if that’s what you wanna do, but dammit, don’t fill our heads with possibilities then dash them like you’re a disciple of G. R. R. Martin. Not cool, man.

Número dos: it bothers me that authors do follow the obvious course/play to reader fantasies.

Yeah, we all love a love story. I’m as much a fan of the “finally they fucking did it” kiss as the next person. But, in a lot of cases, the moment of unbridled passion and loin-clenching flaming butterflies is so expected it’s almost passé. We all know it’s going to happen. Sure, it’s still fun and fulfilling and all that stuff to read, but ultimately, everyone is expecting it.

Yeah, I’m hard to please. I know. The only thing I could possibly think of that would solve this problem pour moi would be for the author to write the book a hundred times over, following every possible angle. But that would be insane, you scoff…wouldn’t it?

Welcome, friends, to the world of fan fiction.

*cue flashing lights and pumping techno music*

Fan fiction, for me, is a genius concept. There’s something beautiful about loving a story–loving characters–so much, you feel you have to write them again. And again, and again, and again, exploring every possibility and venturing into crossovers until you can’t even remember what’s actually canon anymore. It gives stories a universal depth that can’t come purely from the books themselves–unless you’re writing epic fantasy, in which case I applaud you. Books are no longer just stories–they become universes, with alternative pairings and ships and new elements.

As a writer, fan fiction is pretty damn easy to write. The characters are already there, and so is the audience’s love of them. All that’s left to do is harness the power of the story.

20140516-134114.jpg

Fan fiction is by no means a recent discovery for me. This is, however, the first time I’ve tried writing it myself. Initially, my plan was to write a book that I intended to put up on Wattpad, as a way of boosting my audience–so people could check out my writing, and see if they liked it.

Then I discovered there was such a thing as Fall Out Boy fan fiction, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I know more Fall Out Boy trivia than anyone I know–with the possible exception of a fellow FOB fan fic writer, who shall hereafter be referred to as @birdsatemyface (because that’s her username on Mibba, the fan fic site–not because birds actually ate her face. That I’m aware of, anyway. Remind me to get back to you on that one.) Writing something has never been so easy. To put it in perspective, I’ve written around 30,000 words since last Thursday. It’s been cathartic, stress-releasing, knowing every word doesn’t have to be perfect, not worrying over every niggling thing because, hey, the info is already there, and if I mess it up, there’s always someone else who can write it better.

Posting chapter-by-chapter has been a real confidence booster, too. It’s a great feeling to get continual feedback, and to know people are enjoying what you’re writing.

I have an unfinished manuscript and exams, but I don’t feel guilty about spending time on my fic, because of the way it makes me feel. If anything, it’ll hone my craft. Hopefully when I come back to Deathfens in June (unfinished MS), I’ll have learned something from the experience.

I’m pretty sure I’ll keep writing fics for a long time, too.

Some people might see it as a step back, but in my eyes, the only thing spending time writing can do is make me better at my craft–whatever I’m writing.

If you want to check out my story, you can find it here. There’s sex–duh–and it’s essentially unedited, so don’t be expecting a masterpiece, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun to write. And when you’re writing for yourself (and other crazy fans like yourself), fun is all that matters.

Peace.

(If you do head over to Mibba, I recommend checking out this story by @birdsatemyface. It’s epically long but sinfully good, and there’s a sequel. This girl has definite talent. Okay, now I’m done.)

Never stop fighting time

Inevitability.

Inevitability is the world’s favourite word. Getting older, growing up is inevitable. Inevitability is what gets you in the end. *Time* is inevitability. We all start out wanting to be unique, fighting the man, wanting to break through and forge our own path, but it’s the inevitability that gets you. The ‘one day I’ll have to settle down’, the feeling that time is running away from you in skips and lulls so that you’re so busy thinking about what you’re not doing that you spend no time doing anything at all. You want to indulge in youth and passion but you’re so god damn scared of what you *should* be doing that you stop fighting time and let it take you instead, numb yourself and close yourself off, forget about the minutes and hours passing and just join the inevitable tide of life until it takes you and leaves you neatly where it wants you, in some menial job in an office running on caffeine and grey conversation. Don’t stop fighting time, clawing at the minutes, feeling every second of stress and worry and panic that everything is going to fall apart because that means you’re doing it fucking *right*–you’re not surrendering and falling asleep, you’re watching the tick tock and running the other way and doing exactly what you want to be doing, you’re not taking the sedatives and joining the tide. Fight to fail. Fight for the right to fuck shit up. Fight to ignore life’s path and follow your own fucking path instead.

The American Apparel Controversy

Today’s Soundtrack – Annabelle by A Rocket To The Moon

 

Anyone who knows American Apparel knows the brand is synonymous with controversy. It seems like if there’s anything they can do to make waves, they’ll do it. One of the weirdest stunts they’ve pulled happened in the run up to Valentine’s Day.

Putting pubic hair on mannequins actually seems like a pretty logical progression for Dov Charney, self-crowned king of Au Naturel and founder of American Apparel. Initially, it appears to be just what we always expect from him; crude and steeped in shock-factor, with a cooked-up inspirational ‘message’ intended to lend credibility to what borders on soft porn. And, certainly, that was my initial impression of it.

Looking straight out of an 80’s porn film, the AA mannequins definitely achieved the notoriety and publicity Charney was no doubt looking for.

The people at American Apparel claimed they wanted to expose the raw lust of a holiday that’s usually all about pink fluff and red lace. Because nothing says ‘sex’ like putting a fake rug down your pants. (I’m not even going to get into the visible mannequin-nipples. As far as I know, no one has a problem with nipples. Nipples, you do not need to be liberated. You have reached full liberation.)  Still, there is something that can be taken from this pseudo-liberation of a bunch of plastic women’s body hair, and that’s the liberation of actual women’s body hair.

Mannequins have always bothered me, because they perpetuate the whole smooth-as-a-baby’s-butt media portrayal of women. We’re supposed to be slicked and plasticky and shiny and glossy, which is, of course, unrealistic–unless you spend your life in a beauty salon, or get real familiar with contorting yourself into unnatural positions whilst juggling hot wax and paper strips. What was clearly a publicity stunt pulled in typical AA style has done the impossible and actually highlighted the message it was supposedly giving–that women are not a hairless alien species.

I’m not saying I agree with the addition of pubic hair, but I am saying I don’t see why it’s such a huge and gross problem. After all, they add wigs, eyebrows and even eyelashes to these mannequins sometimes. Pubic hair is gross why? Because it’s associated with sex? Or because it seems ‘unnatural’ for a woman who has been artificially created to be portrayed as having it, when of *course* if we had the choice we wouldn’t have it at all?

It’s natural, and some women have it. Most men have it. Teenagers have whole classes devoted to accepting the change when they get it. Maybe it wasn’t necessary to include it, but it also wasn’t unnecessary. Typically accepted body image has a long way to go to get better, guys and dolls. Maybe some things like this are necessary.

 

Blue.

 

In Which I Get Personal: Women and Appearance

Today’s Soundtrack – Video by Indie Arie

Recently, a Twitter friend of mine posted something poignant on her blog. Something that, as I was reading it, made my heart twist and my mouth turn down at the corners because I knew exactly, exactly what she was talking about. You can read Carey’s post here.

Every single day, when I wake up in the morning and I look in the mirror, I see a face without make up, without anything to enhance or highlight or conceal or freaking paint me like one of your French girls, Jack, and I feel ugly.

In the 21st century, when we’re more enlightened about diversity and acceptance than we have ever been, I don’t understand how this is okay.

That a girl, in her own skin, sees her own face, and feels she needs a special little kit bag full of bottles and potions before she looks passable.

That, until my skin tone is perfectly even and my face unblemished, unless I’ve coloured my eyebrows in with a crayon (seriously?) and lacquered my eyelashes with sticky black goo, I am imperfect. Plain.

I can’t count the times I’ve thought about getting a nose job because I happen to have a nose that is longer and more prominent than what is considered to be ‘beautiful’. Paying for braces because my front teeth cross over a little. Paying to have the excess skin over my eyes removed so I look pretty when I smile.

The times I’ve stared at myself in the mirror and hated myself for not liking exercise. The times I’ve looked at pictures of other girls and felt like crying because I will never, ever look that way.

Want to know a secret? I had a fringe put in because when I was younger I over-plucked my eyebrows, and now I can’t stand looking at them. Because big eyebrows are in now, and it’s just another way that I’m not perfect.

I shave my arms because my body hair (I have dark hair and very pale skin) makes me feel unfeminine, and I’ve considered laser hair removal for the rest of my body for the same reason.

I love being pale and having dark eyes and hair, but when I see the way people with blonde hair and blue eyes are treated – the way they always get looked at and somehow manage to look beautiful whatever they’re doing – it makes me feel inadequate.

I wish none of this were true. I wish I could stand here and say to you, ‘I fucking love who I am!’ and mean it 100% of the time. And 99% of the time, I do mean it. Screw thigh gaps. Screw fake tan. Screw stick on EYELASHES and little plastic nails and long legs. I’m five foot two and curvy and so pale when I don’t wear make up I get asked if I’m ill. I’ve eaten cake for breakfast. I cannot be assed with painting my nails. I never blow dry my hair and I have scars all over me.

But 1% of the time, those magazine photos and actresses and models make me feel like chewing gum stuck to the pavement.

1% of the time, you people, you media people who perpetrate these fake images with your airbrushing and your celery-and-water diets make me hate myself. And for that, I hope you can’t sleep at night. Because when you’re using your computers to smooth out a woman’s face and take three inches off of her hips, you’re creating something that will never be real, and you’re destroying what’s real about us – the real women.

We have different features. We don’t fit into the plastic mould of ideal, Westernised beauty. We have what’s called character, and no matter how crappy you try and make me feel about myself so that I’ll buy your products and pay the surgeons, I’ll never let you take my nose away from me. I don’t need your perfect, false nose. I have my own, and it’s perfect, because it’s mine.

Blue.

NEW TITLE REVEAL

Today’s Soundtrack – 20 Dollar Nose Bleed by Fall Out Boy

If you read my previous post, you’ll know I recently had a dilemma regarding the title of my soon-to-be-published book, previously known as BLOOD BORN. If not, you can read about that here.

Thankfully, after many mindmaps, car journeys and scribblings, I came up with a new title. The good news? I like this one better than the old title. I made lemonade from life’s lemons. Suck it, life.

You ready to see it?

The new title IS….

STRICKEN.

Definition:
a. Affected by something overwhelming, such as disease, trouble, or painful emotion.
b. Incapacitated; disabled.

adj

1. (Pathology) laid low, as by disease or sickness
2. deeply affected, as by grief, love, etc
3. (Pathology) wounded or injured

4. beset or afflicted, as with disease, trouble, or sorrow.
 
 

It fits the book perfectly, and for another reason, too – although I’m not sure I want to divulge that just yet. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new title, so please, hit me up in the comments.

 

To demonstrate how thrilled I am, there’s lemonade for everyone! I hope you’re all having a WONDERFUL day.

 
 

Blue.