Monday, 29 October 2012

Almost Samhain

I don't know if I'll have time to do this on Wednesday...I'm just so busy (and very unorganised) at the moment!  I'm struggling to get writing done...well to be far to myself, I did write for an hour or so today, probably churned out more than I'm giving myself credit for.  Still feeling good about my writing, but finding time for everything, especially when feeling tired, is a nightmare, so I think I know what my subject for next weeks IWSG next week! ^^;;
BUT!  This is not time for negativity.  In fact, I don't really feel too negative today, in spite of things.  I'm not a naturally positive person, but I'm just feeling good right now.  I think its a combination of the good things that have been happening for me, and Samhain.

I am not strictly pagan, but it would be more than fair to say I lean very heavily that way.  And I do celebrate Halloween/Samhain, although not in the "traditional" fashion ;) I would be up for costume parties and things, but until recent years, I have never had friends who were really interested in Halloween (isn't it typical, this year was the first time EVER I've been invited to a Halloween party and it clashed with something! Oh never mind!).  So I started using Halloween as a time to think about and remember loved ones who have passed on.  A few years ago, someone told me that Samhain is basically the pagan new year, and I have noticed a lot of positive things seem to happen for me around October and November. 

My Halloweens still tend to be solitary (my family do not care for it either, they pretend not to be home as they also dislike trick-or-treaters...nowadays, most of that seems to be over well by 8pm), but I usually treat myself to some candy (hey, you gotta ;) ) while watching The Nightmare Before Christmas with subtitles turned on just to make it into a sing-along, while hugging my Jack Skellington plushie.  Then shortly before midnight, I set things up, light candles, get out my tarot cards, and begin to meditate for a while.  I think about the year that has just gone by, the good and the bad, I think about my loved ones who have passed on, meditate, and then I do some tarot spreads. 

This year, I have to work until 9, but I've decided to go into work looking as festive as the uniform policy will allow, annoy everyone at the Returns Desk by singing TNBC songs all night, and sharing Halloween Horror Mix with my colleagues ;) I'm just glad I'll be home long before midnight, so I can do my little ritual thing that I do...its become rather important to me over the years.  However, I look forward to being daft...its a positive time of the year too.

Over the last couple of weeks I've had a couple of niggles and crappy things happen, but generally my mood has remained chipper, or something has just come along to spoil all the gloom before it gets too bad (take today...pooey day of work, another early shift on something like 4 hours sleep...after my nap, I find my package from Moonmaiden Gothic Clothing has arrived...something about getting lovely black velvet things just cheers me up immensely! XD).  This past year will be certainly be an interesting one to reflect upon.  It has been a hugely difficult year, but so many good things have come of it.  Along with redundancy, relationship problems, losing several friends (not to death, but it still hurts!), my mother being very ill, family problems and so on, it has been a struggle, but along the way, my important relationships improved, new, better friends have emerged to more then fill the gaps in my life left by those who have let me down, a new job (that admittedly with its own problems) has come along, and I'm financially in a much better situation, and now it seems that the career I have longed dreamed about following, being a writer, has set in motion.  In the last 4 months, I have had 3 submissions accepted- this time last year, I was still scribbling in my notebook wondering how it would ever happen.

So yes, thats my reflective post, ahead of Halloween.  In other news...MUCH BUSY!  Still struggling to get everything done- these stupid early shifts bugger up my routine and make me sleepy, and I'm just finding it hard to get anything done.  But I think its just a phase and will pass soon.  My tattoo is healed, but sadly lost some ink in the healing process- probably because of my awful chafing work shirts! Luckily, touch-ups are free at the studio I went to, so I'm going to pop back at the weekend ;)

Right, its getting late- fortunately I'm not up early tomorrow, but I must dash, plenty more to do before bedtime!

Merry Halloween and a Happy Samhain :)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

*Head Explody* Plus Tattoo

I'm having a manic time keeping up with blogging, twittering...everything actually.  Even stuff like cleaning my room! TOO MUCH STUFFS, NOT ENOUGH TIME OFF WORK!

But the tattoo did get done, so here is a photo of it:

Picture courtesy of my friend, Alana, who was present to make sure I went through with it ;) This was immediately after the tattoo was done, currently looks a bit pale due to the natural healing process...its healing very nicely, and barely itches apart from when it rubs on my horrible work shirts!  But I just pet it gently with cool finger tips, and it becomes a happy bunny again n___n no scratchy!

I absolutely love it!

More soon, must dash! x

HMV- You are really not very rock and roll!

So I woke up this morning to find several of my “alternative” friends spreading about this story:

Now, a lot of people were stating how they haven’t shopped in HMV in years anyway, and before I continue, I will admit, my HMV purchases over the last couple of years have been a bit spread out…sorry to say it, but my local branches don’t have the same variation in stock anymore (can you believe I used to find Emilie Autumn and The Birthday Massacre in their stores!?) and the prices are not competitive. I suppose I can’t blame them (and that is a discussion for another day) but I do usually have a look in store anyway and have snapped up the odd bargain.

One of the things that made shopping there nice was the fact the staff were varied; many were rocker/alternative types, with dyed hair, body piercings and tattoos etc. They all wore uniform, but I think they looked pretty cool, and I would often have a nice chat with a HMV worker about where they got their latest ink or whatever.

I used to hold up HMV as an example of “alternative-friendly” companies when giving advice to people trying to find work in retail (Claire’s Accessories, in my experience, has been another). But now I am seriously considering boycotting them.

My reaction may sound rash and impulsive, but the reason why I am appalled by the new policy is the EXISTING staff. It is one thing to turn away a potential candidate based on their appearance, but completely another thing to hire someone and then give them grief later down the line based on their appearance, when it was not an issue at the time of the hiring.

I’m not saying that we should all just dress how we like for work- there is a time and a place- but imagine hiring someone 3 years ago with visible tattoos etc. Imagine they have been a valued employee for 3 years, they have worked hard, done well, been loyal and dedicated to the company (as more of us become disillusioned with retail, this is becoming harder to find!), and then over night, deciding to take disciplinary action against this employee because a new policy states that they can’t have a visible tattoo.

What the flaming heck is that employee supposed to do? Find a cheese grater and bite down on a stick!?

Ok, I’m being a bit melodramatic, but it grossly unfair, in my opinion, to spring this on the existing staff. Heck, I think its taken the whole company backwards ten years and reversed what little respect and understanding the alternative community was gaining from the general public, but I digress.

I just hope these guys don’t face disciplinaries or even termination because of this. I also find the denim-skirts for the women sexist…it could be that article was just a short one and didn’t have full details, but if the women can ONLY wear skirts, then…hello 50s! Where have you been?

I am not saying all this as someone unfamilliar with the retail industry or customer service either. I have been in some form of customer-service-based work for most of the last 10 years. My first ever job was at a newsagents, where I wore black lipstick to work, much to the amusement of many of the patrons (many of whom were elderly). I was a teenager then, and not required to observe any form of uniform policy, but my following job was for a fashion retailer, and my work revolved around the products and customer service. I adhered to the uniform policy (which I didn’t think was so bad), kept my appearance neat and proper…I felt comfortable and yet, recieved many compliments. One of my colleagues was the furthest thing from a Goth you’d ever find, yet she was covered in tattoos and piercings, and always looked smart, fashionable and respectable!

My current job is running a returns desk- a huge amount of public interaction is required, I wear a uniform…yet I am also identifiable as a Goth. I always pass my evaluations, I am clean and tidy, yet people can still tell who I am. A lot of my coworkers are heavily modded- and no one cares!

Back in January 2011, I submitted this article for EGL Magazine:

So you can see, I’m not one of these raving teenagers who don’t know what the “real world” is about and thinks life is cruel if you can’t have purple hair and padlock through your nose. MY opinion is that we should all be happy how we look, but there is a time and a place for it. Be you goth, punk, rocker, emo, or whatever loveable misfit, you should be able to still be yourself and present yourself in a professional manner.

I just wish that these companies would just realise that they are potentially missing out on some really great people working for them, just because they have a personal adversion to the alternative look. And I say personal, because I do think it is down to a few individuals in an office somewhere. Someone told me today (I haven’t verified this) that HMV’s new policy comes from middle-managment head-hunted from Marks and Spencer. Now, I have nothing against M&S, but they clearly have a different demographic to a music and media retailer.

BTW, you really can be alternative and still be dressed professionally etc. (C’mon, ever see a tattooed guy in a wedding tux or a business suit? HAWT! ^_^ ). For example, the last job interview I attended, I wore a skirt-suit…I also wore a blood-red blouse and knee-high lace-up boots. I was clearly a Goth, but also imaculate. And I got the job. Trust me guys, I am not telling anyone to cover themselves up…that is the LAST thing I want anyone to do. I refuse to hide who I am, I am just willing to present myself in a different light.

And as for the HR zombies who think customers hate how we look too- my current job deals with customer complaints DAILY. In my entire working career, I have never recieved or even heard a complaint regarding a staff-member’s appearance.

So in the meantime, I hope that HMV staff are not subject to bad treatment due to their existing appearances, and while I would hate to see the retailer go bust (I have experienced that myself), I just cannot bring myself to shop in a store that considers people who look like me to be somehow dirty or inferior.

(Note: reposted from my Tumblr blog: Since the first posting, it has been suggested to me that the story on HMV maybe fake, but I decided to repost anyway.)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Things are a-happenin' this week!

I would like to start first by thanking everyone who commented on my IWSG post recently; it was my first IWSG post, and I'm still very new to blogging, but I recieved such a lovely welcome.  I'm starting to just about get the hang on Blogspot and blogging in general (Tumblr still offers a few hiccups!) but I'm getting there, and getting to talk to some very interesting and lovely people in the process!

This week, I am on holiday...usually when I have a week off from work, I treat myself to a little adventure to somewhere such as London (one of my favourite places), however, this month I'm a tad short on the munnies, and also have plenty of creative things to be getting on with.  Catching up on blogging, article writing for EGL Magazine, short-story writing and pretty-picture making is all up there, but one pressing task I have involves finding local printers for wedding stationary I designed for my aunt and uncle.  So I wouldn't be fooled by the pyjamas or long-lie-ins...I have a busy week ahead of me! ;)

Today, I woke up to a lovely surprise; to find my package, containing my copy of the Fear Anthology Volume 2 waiting for me.  There will be bragging posts and photos of me grinning neurotically while brandishing the book to follow; I am so, so pleased to be actually in print, in an actual, paperback book.  My photo is even in it! EEEEE! 

And that's not all.  I have just signed a contract to feature in another anthology (steampunk-horror theme)- and this one I will get paid for!  So you know what that means? I am now a professional writer! As a personal rule, apart from mentioning "I was at work" I never mention my jobs on my social networking accounts and the like (I strongly believe in keeping work and personal life seperate, I refuse to even add current colleagues on Facebook), but I decided this meant updating my employment details on Facebook to state "Artist/Writer"- teehee!

Today, I'm working on printers and article-writing...but tomorrow is also a big day.  I am finally (FINALLY) getting my Black-Rabbit tattoo!  Oh I've only wanted it since I was about 18 or 19, and I've chickened out or just delayed it a million times over.  Its not even been a fear of the pain, so much as my anxiety fuelling my indecision (like with many things in my life).  I had really intended to get it last year, during the Chines Year of the Rabbit (I am a rabbit in many ways!) but I kept forgetting, and then right at the end of the Chinese Year, the tattoo apprenticeship fell through.  Part of me can't really believe I'm doing it, so its a good thing that not only have a paid a deposit that I don't want to lose, but I also have my lovely friend, Alana, egging me on and making sure I can't back out ;) my fiance has already okay'd the use of physical violence to keep me in the studio, but Alana says she'll just sit on me haha! I think I'll be fine, I'm very excited...although I do reckon I'll have a mini-freak out at the last moment when I realise what I've let myself in for! :P

The image at the beginning of this entry is the rabbit I'm having tattooed.  It is the Black Rabbit of Inle (rabbit version of the Grim Reaper) from Watership Down, one of my favourite movies/books (there's a big surprise, eh?), and it'll be going at the top of my back, in the centre.  It has several meanings to me, which I won't go into now (I'll probably do a rambly "look at my awesome tattoo" post tomorrow evening...oh crap...thats right...its TOMORROW!).

Otherwise, I don't have too much planned this week.  I will be seeing a couple of friends (and sharing Halloween candies), but otherwise, for me its just writing, drawing and more of the same.  However, it is kind of nice to have the time set aside for creative work and the such, and as for adventures to London, I have another week off in November ;) I'm also trying to get into a Halloween mood...difficult as I keep looking for Christmas presents for people! D'oh!

It's been a super busy couple of weeks, but another thing I've been very pleased and proud of is the opportunity I had to review my favourite band, The Birthday Massacre's new album "Hide and Seek".  You can read the review on EGL Magazine's site- here is the link:
It's a cracking album, one I'm very excited about (I pre-ordered my copy, its on the way now!), and I also wish the singer, the lovely Chibi, a speedy recovery, as she recently underwent surgery on her vocal chords.

I also finally recieved my copy of Emilie Autumn's album "Fight Like a Girl!" YAY!  I also reviewed this album back in July:

Well, I'm going to wrap this up know, the book is right next to me on the desk...I can't stop staring at it...this is amazing!

Take care for now!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group- My First Post (You Can Do It!)

This is my first post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group; in fact, I am still very new to blogging in general, so do bear with me! But I really wanted to participate, as in recent months I have learned first hand what a great help it is to have a support from fellow writers.

I often find myself feeling extremely insecure about my writing, and my art.  Recently, I have felt more confident in my ability and future as a writer, but I know that the doubts will always linger.  Today is actually a rather significant day for me; today, the Fear Anthology published by Crooked Cat is released, in which my short story "Candlelight" is featured.  This is my second fiction publication (my first being in an eZine this summer just gone), but my first in a physical book.  For me, this is a turning point, as up until now, being a writer had been little more than a dream; but now it is a reality.

Now, I really need to stop myself here and say that this is not a bragging post by any means...I maybe new to the IWSG, but it just seems like poor ettiquette to come along and start bragging about successes on the first post! :( This month, I am brimming with confidence.  But perhaps, next month, I will be low...perhaps I'll have had a couple of rejections or a terrible case of the dreaded Writer's Block, or something will happen to make me completely doubt myself.  It WILL happen at some point.  It always does.

And maybe this month, you, the reader of this rambly post, may be feeling really low.  So while I'm feeling good right now, it seems that maybe I should share some of that postivity while I still have it.  If you're reading this and you're feeling very down thid month, then I hope what I'm about to write will somehow encourage you :)

I'm writing this because I've had so much wonderful support from certain friends (you all know who you are, I love you all, thank you), some are fellow writers, some are not.  But they've been more than happy to sit down, chew the fat and get the ideas going, and give me an ego boost when I've felt low.  The biggest boost came right at the end of June, when I was rapidly approaching a fiction deadline (I had something like 2 hours to go).  Convinced I was a crap writer, a hopeless flake and had blown my chances by stupid procastination, I had a big old b*tch fit on Facebook, only to be met by some very supportive comments by my friends.  One, in fact, gave me a big telling off for considering giving up.  I made that deadline with 42 seconds to spare (literally!).  Since then, while I have had my bad days, I have urged myself to keep going...and my friends have urged me too.  Its made a huge difference.

Thats why I decided to join the Insecre Writer's Support Group...this month I am very confident in my writing, even if I may feel differently next month.  So for now, I will spread the love <3 If someone reads this and is inspired to battle on, then this will have be more than just self-indulgent waffle ^^;; 

You see, I honestly never really believed this would happen to me...getting published I mean.  I've not a had a good year, and I tend to think very negatively anyway.  For sure, it was- still is- my fondest dream, my biggest ambition, but I never really knew HOW to get the writing off the ground.  I hadn't even finished anything properly before July, apart from articles I write for an online magazine.  I seem to lack motivation to get things done for myself.  By nature, I have to admit, I am lazy, scatty, undisciplined, and a terrible procastinator...and on top of this, I am under-confident.  It would become a vicious circle- I couldn't compel myself to get something done, so I'd become depressed that I'd never become published, and knowing I wouldn't become published, I had no motivation to get finished.  My biggest problem, I think, is that I find it difficult to just sit my bum down and get on with writing!  I am a shameless daydreamer, and I spend more time fantasising about the writing then actually doing it!

But I am changing my ways...I am a creature of bad, bad habits, but bad habits can be beaten!  And already I'm getting results out of it.  Since July, I had submitted six short stories, and two now have been published, which I personally don't think is a bad result. 

If I can do this, I know you can too.  Take a look at your habits and try and see what is holding you back.  Make time for your writing- it is true we all have lives and responsibilities to consider, but we need to invest in the time and effort to craft a story and bring it to life.  You know, lots of people like to ask the musician/film-maker/writer/all-round creative guy Voltaire how to write a book, and his reply has been simply "Write a book!" So many people (myself included) spend too much time worrying how to do it when really, the first step is just DOING it.  And you can't jump ahead to the next step until the first one is completed.

Its not easy, but it is rewarding, and if you persevere, you will be get to experience that.  So my advice is just to work hard, believe in yourself, as hard as that maybe, and try to identify any of your bad habits or flaws that get in the way of your writing- and tackle them head on.  Surround yourself with wonderful people who can help and support you (although chances are, if you're already part of the ISWG, you already know loads ;) ).  My experience tells me a lot of creative people can be a bit flakey and scatty, so I wouldn't be surprised if some of you have had similar experiences in trying to get things finished.  I know full well that my faults will continue to present challenges to me in my writing and creative projects, but now that I have had a taste of success, this will drive me on for more.

And when I feel bad, I'll be back, browsing through other writer's IWSG posts, looking for more advice on how to whip myself into shape.  I really think the IWSG is a great idea, and I look forward to interacting with other creative minds :)  In the meantime, I'm going to make the most of my positive attitude...I'm more negative by nature, so I need to enjoy it and share it while I can!

So for now, I will wrap up this rambly, rambly post.  I really hope that I haven't been too big-headed or self-centered, and I hope that someone perhaps feels encouraged by what they've read.  Apologies if any of this post was inappropriate or unhelpful...but hey, its my first post, and we all have to start somewhere, right?  Any advice, comments, tips, etc, totally welcome.

Happy writings, my freaky darlin's! ;)


(Edit; I'm such a noob, totally forgot to add the link, didn't I? Doi! :P)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Hello, October!

My mental calender is still hovering between August and September, so it is a little bewildering that October is already here, and that Winter is just around the corner.  But I will try and shake off the funny feeling- I enjoy Autumn, and October traditionally has always been a good time of year for me, in many ways.  I love Halloween for starters, but even though I am not strictly pagan, I celebrate Samhain and like to reflect on the year and the past in general on the 31st.  But October also tends to be a month of great positivity for me, and going by how things look right now, it looks set to be good this year also!

The big thing for this month comes on Wednesday the 3rd- Crooked Cat's Fear Anthology (spread over two volumes) is released in paperback and Kindle editions (available from Amazon).  This will be the first time I appear in a real-life physical book as an author, so this is an amazing thing for me!  I have previously been published in an eZine (Siren's Call Publications), but it really is going to be something to be able to brag about being in a book!

My short story "Candlelight" appears in Volume 2 ;) (pictured).

So, what else will this month hold?  Well, I will be continuing to write, as I have other short story submission deadlines I am aiming for.  On the 9th, my favourite band, The Birthday Massacre are releasing a new album, "Hide and Seek", which I am extremely excited about!  I have social events I am looking forward to, but right now, I have a very strong urge to go shopping!

In other news, I recently participated in my very first blogfest, which was successful and great fun, and I look forward to doing it again!

Here's hoping for a fabulous October!