HATAS GUNNA HATE
But first, some administrativa
I’m pleased to say that I’ve reached a milestone. 50 patrons are now supporting this blog through my Patreon!
Since re-starting the blog after its somewhat lengthy hiatus, I’ve written 25 paid posts (including this one) covering a huge range of topics, from silly to serious and everything in between. So thanks to all of you for your continued support.
On to business.
I got one of my best troll comments yet here on the blog the other day. I won’t gratify the troll by posting the entirety of the comment, but it did call me an “autistic entitled skank” and said that I’d given him cancer. I was so delighted that the first thing I did (after deleting it from the post, naturally) was email it to a friend, who shared a good laugh with me.
Which got me thinking…
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I haven’t been able to work on any of my own projects for a long time. I’m going crazy.
I wanted to start machinima again, even though I hate myself every time I release something. Well, every tool I used to make my machinimas has ceased updating. So, short of doing absolutely everything through maya or 3D studio max, I’m SOL. Tossed that idea out the window.
I am working on a novel to be completed by the end of the year. It’s all but ground to a halt with the sheer volume of freelance work I’ve taken on. You might ask why I’d take all that extra work when I have my own things to focus on, but you won’t like the answer. It’s because I’m so poor that I have to sacrifice my free time to this stuff. Sad story, boo hoo.
I haven’t been able to blog lately because I am just so exhausted that the words won’t come out. I stare at the white screen all day long and type little letters into it, so I can send them off into the void where only bots and spiders will read them, convert them into a formula, and move onto the next bit of data. It’s thankless until I see that Google acknowledges my work by placing it on the first page of search results. So I guess it’s worth it in the end.
My mind bursts with ideas as my schedule fills up. I go to therapy, and while I’m supposed to be talking about why I hate the shape of my nose and the way my mouth looks and the chicken skin on my arms, I lose myself in thoughts of writing: A man and woman who sit on opposite ends of a bar, unknowingly imbibing the same drink, celebrating the same loss of love; a child clutching her pillow as she wishes herself into a faraway land where she has the ability to shape her own destiny; a young woman contemplating whether her life is worth the price her family pays to keep her alive. Just random thoughts, random dreams, random inspiration all dissipating into the void. I won’t remember these things three months down the road. They’re here now, and they’ll be gone when it matters.
I know it’s October, and I know what that means for me. It’s the burst of creativity I get every year because I can’t really deal with reality. I lost two sisters in October. A friend killed himself in October, and my parents were divorced in October. Next month is my youngest sister’s birthday. I can now add the finality of divorce to October. How fantastic.
There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accommodate my monetary needs and my creative needs. Something had to change, so I drew the line.
I’ll be moving in November. Back to the craziness, i suppose… but also back to the love and support of my closest friends and family. Something changed in me… something I can’t ignore any longer. So I guess here I am, admitting it to whoever reads this. I lost the battle with money, but I won’t lose the battle with my passion for creating art.
[Cross-Posted from Beneath the Brand]
I’ve written in the past about multiple social media platforms that any company — even small businesses — can use to generate brand image and customer interest. And there are definitely quite a few social media sites to choose from: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Reddit… the list goes on and on, depending on your audience and your marketing goals.
In a recent survey released by Ascend2, an agency consulting company, the greatest number of both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies rated customer engagement as their top priority when using social media marketing. While they both had other goals, such as attracting more web traffic, increasing content reach, and boosting their sales, it was interesting to note that customer engagement remained such a strong focus, even above immediate fiscal goals.
In particular, both B2B and B2C companies rated the creation of high-quality blog posts and articles as their best way to draw in traffic; this was followed by creating whitepaper or research content, and creating video or audio media. This is exciting news for most people at first thought because it seems relatively straight-forward and organic. But don’t get ahead of yourself: Content creation, whether blogs or video/audio data, is also the most difficult tactic to pull off. But why?
Well, simply put, to create high-quality articles and engaging content, you can’t just “list and link” locations, key phrases, and zip codes. You have to have an actual, live human being put together a coherent post, usually sprinkled with strategic SEO tactics such as backlinking and maintaining the proper keyword density — and then on top of that, the copy needs to read naturally and be easy for the customer to retain. All of this costs money, and of course it takes up quite a bit of time. This is the primary reason content creation is tough to master.
But it’s most definitely worth it. Potential customers will more than likely find your site while conducting personal research. Whether an eager student is trying to find information for their next school project, an individual is trying to find job interview tips or a great way to cook a healthy dinner, or a grandma is trying to figure out how to best ship her grandkids’ presents, people search with a purpose in mind. Creating insightful and SEO-friendly blog posts with tips, tricks, personal stories, and informative content is the best way to ensure customers will find you and remember you. Not only does blogging help search engines cache your site more frequently (and therefore rank you higher in search results), but it shows your customers that you’re engaged with your products and eager to connect with your audience.
The takeaway lesson from Ascend2’s survey is simple. Get blogging! You may need to invest in a part-time writer or researcher, but it is definitely worth it. Blogs generate almost four times the return than just advertising on social media, and in creating original content, you generate that human interaction that is so often missed on the Internet.
[Cross-posted from Beneath the Brand.]
Every holiday season, many companies choose to liven up their image with a mixture of timeless cheer and traditional advertising appeal: Whether it’s the instantly-recognizable red-suited Santa laughing as he partakes of some cookies and milk, or the image of a family together in their living room, seated next to the hearth and a Christmas tree, consumers recognize immediately what the message is. And the truth is, studies show that people still look forward to the comfortable, predictable advertising messages that we see in end-of-the-year holiday campaigns. We feel a rekindling of our youth, and in the joy of giving and receiving gifts. Brands entice us to purchase products so that we can participate in the tradition of exchanging holiday gifts, and they tell us that we’ll feel glad that we did so — lest we be Scrooges.
But the holidays do come on strong, even if we know what to expect, and they can be exhausting, both financially and emotionally. So what about when it’s all over? What does the New Year mean for consumers?
Well, to state the obvious, the New Year brings us new beginnings: A fresh start, promises to change for the better, and a virtual clean slate where we can visualize our goals and plan our route for achieving them. It represents a renewed outlook on life. Or at least, we feel like it does. In reality, we changed the way we wrote a series of four symbols, from 2-0-1-2 to 2-0-1-3. The sun came up in the morning, and then it set again as it always does (well, to be fair, I’m writing this before 12/21 — maybe the sun didn’t come up again!), and January 1 is a new day, just the same as any other day is. It’s just another day in your life.
But the idea of a new year and what it represents is appealing to many people, even if it’s only symbolic. And it’s something that brands should focus on to hit the ground running after consumers begin to suffer from holiday exhaustion. So how do brands usually appeal to consumers in the New Year?
An easy and obvious way is by catering to New Year’s resolutions, such as campaigns for healthy eating to reach your weight goals, or purchasing a financial planner to help with the goal of saving up for a vacation. When consumers feel like a product really will help them with their new goals, they’ll buy it.
Another way of doing this is a little bit bolder, but it definitely works: patting consumers on the back for making it through another holiday season. You’ve made it through another year. Why not take some time out for yourself, and recharge at a spa or ski resort? Consumers can relate to the stresses that come with the season and many will feel like indulging in some relaxing activities.
Or, tell them to get the most use out of the gifts they’ve been given. You just got a new flat-screen HDTV for Christmas. So why not buy yourself a new speaker system to create a home theater experience that the whole family will enjoy for years to come?
By utilizing the powerful idea of new beginnings in the New Year, companies convince us that their products are the key to realizing our New Year’s goals, as well as a way of experiencing happiness even after the novelty of our holiday gifts has long worn off. When brands keep their image fresh and relevant year-round, they enjoy more success!
Nanowrimo and Aria’s Reprisal
So, November came and went. I posted a few times about how I was falling behind on Nanowrimo. Can you guess how the month ended?
If you guessed that I failed, you’re right. I only wrote about 12,000 words. That’s more than I’ve written any other year for Nano (yay for mini-goals?), but I still failed pretty miserably.
I am still planning on working on this project, however. It has been a ton of fun to plan, and if you’re interested in any plot points, quotes, notes on progress, world building, or soundtracks that I think would rock for a movie version of my writing (don’t hate; I make machinima for that reason…) then head over to http://hellystia.tumblr.com to see Aria’s Reprisal and take a look around. You may find it interesting. Or, you might think, “What the hell is this? Now I definitely don’t want to read any of her writing.” Either way, if you are vaguely interested at all in sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, dystopian alternate worlds, and really intense descriptions of cold-weather landscapes, then you may find some of what I write on my tumblr interesting.
Machinima and Morningstar Episode 5
In the machinima realm, I’m slowly kicking off ep 5 of Morningstar. I have a few things I’d like to address about this:
I am doing my best to keep multiple story lines going at once. It’s the way I prefer to tell tales. While I technically have a “main” character, I don’t see the point in focusing on narrating only her thoughts on the world. Azeroth is huge, diverse, and ancient. There’s too much opportunity to tell interesting as well as intersecting stories. That being said, I’ve heard some people say it’s a bit hard to follow. I will try to make sure that things are as clear as they can be at that point in the story, but the point of leaving the viewer hanging is… well, so that they want to watch more!
I have not made a final decision on whether or not I’ll use voice actors for this episode. I understand that this was my #1 complaint about the series, and I also know that I’d reach a much wider audience if I did use voice actors. The funny thing is, I’ve known of quite a few people who’ve done their stories the way I do, and none of them get such terrible complaints about it. I don’t know what it is about me that makes people want to point that out so much — I guess I’m just that socially-awkward nerdy kid that sits alone at lunch. 😦
I will attempt to keep the episodes around 10 minutes in length from now on. I know the last one got ludicrously long. I cringed when I saw the projected length, and for that I’m sorry. I will keep it to 2 story lines per episode to remedy this, rather than three or more. It’s simply too unwieldy at that point.
Yes, there will eventually be a ‘love’ story. I’ve also had a few people ask about this. I am aware that love is a common thread throughout the narratives of Azeroth; I, too, am interested in reading and writing about that. But love is not the primary focus of the story, because I want to tell a tale where my characters stand on their own as solid, well-developed individuals. Too often, I feel love stories are used as crutches to avoid developing a character — who are they without their partner? Characters, particularly females, can exist and be simultaneously intriguing, complex characters without a love interest. It can be done!
Beneath the Brand
I am a regular contributing blogger at Talent Zoo’s Beneath the Brand blog now. I post under my real name there, so regular readers might see some discrepancy in the online personas I use. I’m sorry if it’s confusing!
I will be linking my articles here every week (usually Fridays) so that you can read something fresh!
In addition to my day job of writing, and my night job of… well, playing World of Warcraft and doing more writing (as well as video effects), I am a — wait for it — freelance writer. I take commissions for a multitude of projects and genres of writing. If for some reason you’re interested in working with me on a writing project, get a hold of me on Twitter or shoot me an e-mail (ninja dot superwoman at gmail dot com). I’ve been busy of late, but I always love receiving new jobs.
I hope you guys have kept yourselves busy, happy, and creative!
Like many of you out there in the blogosphere (I hate that word, and yet I use it anyway), I have been looking forward to nanowrimo.org‘s annual event — oh yes, thirty days and nights of literary abandon, here I come! I have a lot of notes written down, some about character development, others about plot points, and a lot about the economy, language, and politics of my fictional realm. I am scared that, as usual, I’ve put myself in an extremely hefty project that I will not be able to finish. I planned on taking an old project from high school and revamping it.
In high school, I was extremely into anime and the novelty of it as a fairly “new” genre (although I was aware there had been anime fans in the US for years, it was not popular until the late 90s). I had never seen such amazing fantasy and sci-fi stories presented through animation, so naturally, I went on a journey to watch as much of it as I could. I had a particular fondness for dark, dystopian (or semi-dystopian) sci-fi anime such as serial experiments lain, Boogiepop Phantom, Big O, and Gundam. Anything with giant robots, corrupt politicians, and murder tended to be right up my alley. But on the other hand, I crooned over shows like Magic Knight Rayearth, The Vision of Escaflowne, and Oh! My Goddess. I loved movies like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I played games like Final Fantasy and Parasite Eve, but I also spent hours buried in the islands and lore of MYST. So many genres!
So I wrote a story about a dystopian future in which people had a giant airship and used pseudo-science to bring the dead back to life. It was not terribly well done. But I liked the ideas that I had, and after reading through my fifty-two pages of poorly-written novella, I realized that I could easily fit this into a different genre: Steampunk. Now, my idea of steampunk probably doesn’t neatly fall into this category, but it’s definitely the best descriptor I can come up with. I still have a dystopian realm, survival/horror, and of course magic and science.
So without further ado, here’s the synopsis of my plot so far (it will evolve as I move through the story, I’m sure). And if you want to add me on nanowrimo, my name is monaxia!
For centuries, the realm of Theliess ran like a well-oiled machine. The three empires it nurtured all played a valuable role in its global economy: The Orrusov Empire presided over much of the intellectual and political requirements, the city-state of Anaulel over theology and magics, and Allakesh over agriculture and technology. Each of the three empires had a relatively high standard of living for its citizens, and provided valuable contributions to its neighboring realms, thereby maintaining balance throughout the lands. For most, this was an idyllic setup which allowed the denizens of Theliess easy access to necessities such as food, housing, employment and financial security. Anyone who could not afford such luxuries often traveled to the agrarian sectors, where farmers and engineers were willing to take outsiders in for apprenticeships and training.
But their simple lives in were only temporarily veiled from the eyes of the blackened gods that lurked among them. The balance of power between man and the gods was never perfect, but for years it was tilted in man’s favor, keeping the gods’ fury under control. But as Theliess began to approach its population threshold, darker political ideas came to fruition in moments of desperation: Destruction of the poorer communities, razing of areas that did not offer sufficient food production, and eventually of the people deemed intellectually or physically inferior. As the greed and chaos mounted inside of the elite sector, a sharp line began to divide those who sought to regulate the lives of others, and those who clung to the ways things had always been.
And then, one morning, the answer came. The sun was blotted from the sky; crops withered and died. Electricity was a luxurious dream — food even moreso. Now, everyone fights to survive against the wrath of the blackened gods, but the powers they harbor are more powerful than they’d ever dreamed of. The people of Theliess must band together and use their skills of magic and science, intellect and intuition, and religion and rationality, to save themselves from destruction.
Best of luck to all you participating in Nanowrimo! 🙂