Winterbourne abuse scandal

Writing is writing, right? Someone in ‘Good Will Hunting’ said that, if you can do it, you should, on behalf of all those who can’t. Well this link to my other blog, my other life, is my writerly way of speaking for those who can’t. Others have done the same. Journalists have made erudite comment. The BBC gave us the material. But we all knew it was happening, somewhere in our souls, our collective psyche. We knew that we could not always trust humans to act with humanity, or decency, or even just plain neglectfully. We knew that some would see an opportunity for self aggrandisement, satisfaction, ego inflation. But as long as there were systems in place to inspect and regulate, it was not our business.

Well, maybe it is our business. Maybe, since we pay the regulators and the professionals and the carers, we have not just a right but a duty to take a look from time to time. To poke our real-world noses into systems and say that we don’t care what boxes are ticked, this doesn’t smell right. Maybe we should all make friends with our local care homes, nursing homes, and community hostels and offer some home-baked perspective and reality.

Rationalising and Re-cycling

List of science fiction television programs

Irrelevant Image (via Wikipedia) apparently triggered by content of post!

For reasons that had to do with ignorance, and the idea that there might a cap to the number of posts I am allowed, (or at least might be likely to approach in the next hundred years), I put my fiction on its own page, and then announced each new entry in a post. How dumb is that? Same number of posts but no room for contiguous comment – sheesh!

So, as of now, my bits and pieces of writing, including the infamous ‘poitry’ if that ever emerges again, will be posted on their own page where they can accrue their own comments. The Nano Fiction page will become a kind of anthology, and the blog posts will be the first hit for any visitors. Very rational. Very organised.

And the re-cycling? Gives me an excuse to bless my neglected little darlings with a space of their own, in between moments of contemporaneous inspiration, innit?

All change to the decor

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Image by big hairy monkey via Flickr

This, dear blog-mates, is Elegant Grunge. So far, I’ve found one unexpected thing on the page (my first post, which was not too illuminating), and not much missing. But then, I’m usually looking at it from inside the shop, not outside, so if there’s a gizmo you like to use and it’s disappeared, please let me know and I will do what I can to nail the little blighter back in place.

Blog tag game (thanks, Dragon lady!)

The Revelation of St John: 4. The Four Riders ...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been back to Here be Dragons twice now, citing incapacity, incompetence (or was it incontinence?) and a sudden sighting of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as reasons for not quite getting on with this tagging business and so, while I sit here poised to scare the bejabbers out of my visiting rats (I’ll tell you later but it involves a remote spray, an infra-red control and better eyesight than I can claim), I’ve decided to stop procrastinating.

So this is the deal, I answer a series of questions in an entertaining manner not necessarily fully acquainted with the truth and you have a good giggle. Then I zap you with a tag so you have to expose your own inner twitchings in a like manner on your own blog. Gettit? Good, here we go then:

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?

That’s got to be the beamy uppy thing, the ability to instantaneously travel between two points without having to take an umbrella or an Oyster card (London reference, I don’t have one and don’t know how to buy tickets in London because I don’t know what the zones mean. Fix it, Boris!)

2. Who is your style icon?

Definitely Joanna Lumley. I’d like to think I can make the distinction between her and Patsy but it isn’t always that easy. Glamour? Tart? Tart? Glamour? Hm. Trouble is, I can fall over without the alcohol so the thing about sheep, lambs and public hangings rather leads me to go for self-expression and deal with the flak later.

3. What is your favorite quote?

Sophia Loren, asked how she managed to look glamorous at her age (70s and there’s no record of what injuries were sustained by the reporter who asked) said ‘Stand up straight and don’t make old people noises’. I’m reaching the stage where this is becoming relevant, particularly in light of #2 above.

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

My boss, without warning, told a conference of professional clinicians and scientists that our department had in it a number of notables with national reputations and that mine was international. I burst into tears!

5. What playlist/cd is in your CD player/iPod right now?

Kasabian, Nine Inch Nails, Kings of Leon, the Baseballs, Faithless, Lady GaGa, The Burns Unit, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Gorillaz, and the BBC Dr Who Prom. In case you aren’t from round here, we like to keep the plebs away from classical music except at prescribed times. These times happen during September each year when the Royal Albert Hall is opened up (foot baths and nit-combs are available at the entrances) to The Great Unwashed of the country and we get to hear the likes of Elgar, Mussorgsky, Puccini, and, latterly, Murray Gold who writes the scores for Dr Who. No kidding though, ‘Song of Freedom’ is just exquisite and the version sung on the night by Mark Chambers is quite remarkable. Tonight is the (in)famous ‘Last Night’ when flag-waving, pogo-ing, and random balloon-popping accompany The Sailor’s Hornpipe, Land of Hope and Glory, and something nobody will understand that involves hitting percussion instruments with bits of industrial debris. Avant Garde, I think they call it. Very worthy.

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

When I started training to be a nurse, I remember looking at the shift schedule and thinking ‘There are two 7.30s?!’ I’ve since managed to order my life to allow for a more natural rhythm and what has emerged, largely due to the elimination requirements of dogs, is a nocturnal preference interrupted by early enough mornings to avoid a mess on the carpet. It works for me.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

I have both but I suspect I identify more with cats. Just keep that to yourselves though, would you? My dogs are watching…

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name

What is my blog name? Oh yes, conboy-hill-fiction. Well, it’s tediously obvious I suppose but I came to it with great trepidation as I hadn’t ‘outed’ myself as a writer and, indeed, could offer no evidence that there was anything worth ‘outing’ so it was a bit risky when set alongside my other life (international reputation, dontcha know!!). However, one OU course under my belt, another about to start, and the tiniest of publications out there in the wild (theNOT) and I’m ready to front it up – verily, I do write fiction! And I don’t mean my court reports and scientific papers thank you!

So, that’s my offering, now it’s your turn. Brace yourselves Linda Cassidy Lewis, Sweepy Jean, Amy Nichols, Christie Craig, and  Cathryn Grant, seems you’re up next!

Meanwhile, I’ve been looking for somewhere to park this ruddy cat and I’m delighted to award it to Here be Dragons for providing me with a distractor while lurking behind the double glazing with a zapper to scare a couple of cheeky rats off my bird table!

In case the text is a mess of arcane scribble from where you’re sitting, it says ‘Blog award for cattitude, scattitude, or downright scattalogitude’. ie. feisty, funny, or flippin’ mucky! No idea how to deliver it though so contain yourselves please..

If not the blog then, where?

image of bookI’ve seen this debate elsewhere, publish on your blog so you have a ‘presence’ or keep your work to yourself so that it remains saleable. So far, I’ve just put up early pieces; exercises, bits and bobs that might entertain but that wouldn’t make it into a slush pile, never mind a magazine. Last week though, on leave and with only myself to entertain, I wrote what I think is one of my best short stories EVER (nah – doesn’t take much!) and, it being under 500 words, I was about to sling it up here for my many thousands of readers (ok, might have shifted a decimal point or two) to peruse. STOP! I thought. If this is a winner, it can’t go here, it has to go somewhere to do its winning and for that, it has to be pristine, untrammelled, unseen, and unpublished (Six readers – hear me? Six!). I teetered on the verge and muttered things like OMG, and WTF, and even They’ll Never Know, I so wanted it to be seen!

And then a compromise hove into view – Critique Circle! I could put it there, let people rummage around and maybe even get some decent feedback, and then send it to a loving home – what could be better? Well, not much as it turned out. As a CC Newbie (not now – got elevated to the Grownups queues), my story went into the up front public queue and fairly quickly picked up critiques. Some of these were rather limited – the critiquers hadn’t ‘got’ the story and so didn’t know how to judge it – but others were spot on (these, of course, were the most intelligent and insightful of the bunch [irony alert, just in case…]), not only understanding the tale but also coming up independently with the complex driving theme – musicality, poetry, and rhythm. Blinding!

It occurred to me too late that I should have announced the submission on twitter and my blog so that other members could go and take a look. I will next time. If CC offers a place to put work that might be published and doesn’t jeopardise its virginality, then that’s the place for me. I have another tale up shortly. If you’re a CC member, go take a look from the 18th (or 25th) for ‘Promotion’ and maybe give a crit if you fancy a go.

This story, ‘Dissolution’ was inspired by hearing Kate Baker narrate podcasts for Escape Pod and Clarkesworld. That voice, which turns out to have singer/musician and writer underpinnings (quelle surprise!) is one of the most evocative I have ever heard and if she were to read ‘Dissolution’, I would probably dissolute myself into a greasy blob on the carpet!

So there we are, a new phase entered in which I find I have something finally to guard. I welcome myself to the wicked and paranoid world of fiction writing!

What do you think? Use a critiquing service to find your potential readership and hone your skills or just keep it all very quiet before unleashing the lot on an uprepared public?

This post is, evidently, super-awesome

At least that’s what the new button on my WordPress dashboard promises. I can’t vouch for that but, since some people who have activated a ‘surprise me’ feature on their blog have seemingly seen funny videos and humanising effects on their blog traffic pages, I’m giving it a go. Of course they might just have eaten an out-of-date yogurt but when I press this much larger PUBLISH button to my right, we could all find out soon enough. Hang onto your hats, here we go….

The Twitter Imperative

classroomFabulous thing, this integrating of blog and tweet business. You write your headline, develop your theme, and press the button so that publication and dissemination occur simultaneously. Magic!

Or at least it is if, once twitter has separated it from its context, the headline doesn’t look like your geography teacher’s demand for the submission of your homework . Reading my previous post, plucked bald of its message and lying exposed on Tweetdeck, I suddenly see the words ‘Did you read ‘Madness’?’ in a different context. This time my hopeful inquiry born of earlier discussion is replaced by the image of an irate school ma’am, hands on hips, peering from under outraged eyebrows at her class of recalcitrants with a look that suggests the outbreak of World War III would not be a good enough reason for failing to return the essay on Australian flora and fauna by the prescribed deadline.


So, it’s thank you to people who pitched up to detention as required and apologies to those who felt they needed to get a note from their mother to avoid withdrawal of privileges!