Today is Shit, so Here’s a Story. ‘How I Met Brooding YA Hero’

To be honest, we’ve all met him.

His eyes are the colour of the ocean, or midnight, or brilliant saffron, or blazing ruby. His skin is either chalky white, like the undead we suspect he might be, or the beautiful, ethnically ambiguous ‘heavily tanned’.

His grades are always top of the class, but we’ve never seen him study. He’d never be seen in a gym, but when you catch a glimpse of his stomach muscles, you have to sit down. He’s a punk street racer, a shy nerd, an outsider who just moved here. He’s softly spoken, but he’s angry, his eyes blaze.

He has a younger sister in our class, or a best friend we know from Biology. He owns a motorbike or sports car usually unavailable to financially-dependent seventeen-year-olds. He’s always seventeen. His parents are never around – in fact, he’s probably damaged from various childhood traumas. Not that you’d notice on a day to day level.

He had a girlfriend – also beautiful and sophisticated – but things ended when he met you. He’s got a past, and you’re getting dragged into it… but you can’t seem to back away. He’s charming, he’s brilliant, he’s in love with you.

Wait, not you.

He’s in love with the main character in the YA novel you’ve been reading. Or the YA novel you read a few years ago. Or the YA novel you haven’t picked up yet. He’s a pale imitation of Mr Darcy or Heathcliff, and he seems to have the same traits as the author’s husband or childhood crush. He’s a bundle of contradictions (or a bundle of whatever the author wants in a man, which is often the same thing). He’s the least-changing, most-perfectly-formed character in the book, and his hair usually smells wonderful.

He’s Brooding YA Hero, and he’s fucking boring.

Thankfully, there’s something out there to help you cope with this genre-wide plethora of unrealistic manliness, and it’s a Twitter page. I actually found it on Tumblr, where someone had screen-printed some highlights. Like these:

I could go on forever, but you should just have a look for yourself.

I’m telling you all this because I recently joined #BroodyBFF, the official street team for old Blazing Eyes Perfect Abs. Essentially it means I get to take the piss a bit more in challenges like this post, and I do it in the company of other readers and writers who’ve seen just enough of brooding YA heroes to know they absolutely cannot take any more.

Unless the main character looks like us, in which case we’re there.

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Review: ‘Holy Cow’, David Duchovny

Polite notice: I don’t discuss anything in these reviews that isn’t available from blurbs and articles, and they’re more like recommendations than reviews in the same way that Tony Blair is better known as a contributor in the Iraq war than he is as an expert on international relations.

If I were at all spiritual, I would say that the universe is conspiring against me when it comes to reading Frankenstein, but I’m not so I’ll just say that it’s a minor life goal to finish the book. Since it’s been nearly two months since I last did a review, this is mostly here to remind myself that I’m capable of long-term projects (a skill I’m clearly going to need where Frankenstein‘s concerned) than it is to extort money from my patrons… I don’t have any patrons, so I could review twice a week without bankrupting people, but in the spirit of things it is probably smarter to stick to my original plan.

I’ve just finished – as in, this lunchtime – David Duchovny’s debut, Holy Cow. Duchovny’s mostly known for acting, and the novel started as an idea for an animated film screenplay. For what it’s worth I wouldn’t have seen the movie by itself, because it’s about a cow named Elsie who discovers what happens to cows when they reach prime rib status (you’re welcome). Elsie goes on a quest to not get eaten, and makes friends with a pig and a turkey on the way. She tells the whole story as a memoir, and she has a human agent through which she is sharing her adventures with the human world.

It’s completely bananas and doesn’t even pretend to be plausible (if it wasn’t for meat farm references and swearing pigs it would make a brilliant children’s animal adventure film), but there are a lot of nuggets of wisdom here and there – for example the entire Israel/Palestine conflict is explained in a paragraph. If you’re interested in vegetarianism, talking animals and philosophy that’s woven into farce, go for it… but maybe not when you’re in the middle of a beef sandwhich.

You can support my Patreon and recieve postcards, emails etc. from me every time I review here.

Singing for My Supper – New Patreon Page!

You know how I said on Monday that I’ve been working loads and I’m all blurry eyed? Still true, except now I have something to show for it… a god-awful video I shot in my garden this afternoon and had to mute because otherwise you could hear my neighbours discussing their gardening.

Maybe I’ve been watching too many YouTube videos where people have linked their Patron pages, maybe I’m a raging narcissist, maybe I’m fed up with choosing between researching new products and giving myself a wage… either way this seemed like a good way to earn some consistent money – if you guys are up for it, anyway.

Here is how Patreon works, and what I’m doing with it (lifted from my new page there because I’m amazed I learnt how to work it in five days).

The sob story
I’ve started a Patreon because although my freelancing work, blogging and general writing is going really well, it’s not the most stable profession. Getting part time ‘other work’ is kind of difficult when I can only work certain days or times on account of the freelancing – so this is here to alleviate the, er, issues that come with living a dream that doesn’t pay consistently.

I’m not comfortable with asking you guys to send me money each month – or ever – so I’ve come up with a system where I read books, then you donate, and I send you cool things in return.

Here’s how this works
  • I read a book and review it on my blog. [That’s here.] Then I create a post on here [Patreon] announcing my success
  • If you signed up to pledge $1, you’re charged $1 and get to suggest a new book. If you pledged $35, you’re charged $35 and you get to choose a blog topic (plus everything else for every lower tier).
  • If I don’t read and review, you aren’t charged – and you can opt out at any time. I’m aiming to upload a review every four to six weeks and I’ll keep you updated with progress on my Patron page.
Why I’m reading books in return for money
  • Well, if you guys are going to give your hard cash to a writer, the first step to earning your trust is proving I can read
  • I don’t read enough
  • It’s less weird for me than asking you to send me money each month. No one likes monthly expenses.
Where your money goes
  • Under my mattress I’ll set a few goals to work toward, like funding for my blog domain or researching new products for my Etsy shop.
  • Other than goals, the general aim is to help keep the proverbial lights on, afford to take Sundays off and maybe retire before the age of 95. Don’t worry, I won’t spend your money on duck houses or apartments in Trump Tower for my cats. (I have dogs, silly.)

So yeah. My first book is going to be The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, because it’s been on my shelf for a while – I’m going to start with books I’ve got and not read, then branch out, hopefully with your help.

… and I think that’s it. Except to link you to the page again. Oh and I suppose you guys will be seeing a lot of book reviews from me from now on!

Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2014

This year has some new categories and tough competition!

Books of the Year

I’ve stopped trying to pick one.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which I thought was going to be about whiny teenagers and is actually a lovely story about twins with great names who go to university in Nebraska. One of them writes a fanfiction that has thirty thousand hits a day. Whatever you think it will be like, you’re wrong. Read it if you’ve ever read or written fanfiction.

Or How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper, which I read in Greece. It’s about Doug, a 29-year-old widower who hasn’t left his house in a year except to buy Jack Daniels until his sister comes to stay. The characters are incredibly real and although they’re not nice, you want to spend time with them… I wasn’t sure at first but it is A*.

Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. Because Nico and Reyna got their airtime and it was beautiful.

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I tried re-reading this recently and I couldn’t because after the first page I remembered how much my stomach was tied in knots the whole flipping book. If I could write like anyone, I’d pick Khaled Hosseini. The power to make your readers cry, man..

The True Lives of My Chemical Romance by Tom Bryant. I read this the Sunday after the #revenge10 meetup in Camden, which was the fist time I’d been able to listen to live MCR since MCR ended. It was lovely hanging out with other fans and not having to explain or justify how much I love this band. The book made me sad in a lot of ways because it opened a window to the inside of MCR, and it was contrary to the image portrayed by the media (and maybe the band) at the time… But by reading the entire history, told objectively by someone who understood and respected the magnitude of MCR, I felt like I could really start to enjoy MCR again. Listening to songs didn’t make me sad any more; I was genuinely excited for the guys’ new work. So thank you to Tom Bryant! Also I met him at #revenge10 and he is a good dude.

Best New Musician

Lorde. Lorde Lorde Lorde. I ignored her stuff for ages because I was bitter and twisted that someone younger than me had a) such great hair and b) worldwide success. I am now over that. Partly because girls should support girls on their quests for awesomedom, and partly because her music is excellent.

Best New Album

Stomachaches.. Hesitant Alien. May Death Never Stop You. Come on, was I going to pick anything else? I haven’t bought anything else! I am turning into an old lady when it comes to new music. I hope to change this in 2015 buy physical copies of the music I like.

Live Show of the Year

King Lear (amateur production) in my town. Lear almost dropped Cordelia. Unlike the Sam Mendes production, there was a little room for audience participation – mostly because there was all of 50 people watching and you could make eye contact with most of them.

Most Interesting TV Event

Eurovision… Conchita winning was pretty brilliant in itself, but I think this part of the show may have been the most entertaining for the viewer:

Rudest Person on the Internet

Either most of Tumblr, the person on DeviantART who told me they’d ‘just print’ my artwork instead of buying an official copy, or the people featured in @TheDMReporter’s screen shots.

Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award

This was such a hard one to choose I was wondering if you guys would like to suggest any examples? I mean, there’s the usual US-pastor-saying-something-offensive, and recently a UKIP MEP who is actually gay called equal marriage “false bollocks”. I dunno, I feel like we need to expand our horizons. Anyone got any horror stories

Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award

It was very hard to narrow the nominations down this year. So I haven’t.

The purportedly Muslim group calling itself Islamic State. You sirs are giving Islam a terrible name and you ought to be ashamed. My knowledge of Muslim theology is not as thorough as my knowledge of Christianity (A Levels, huh) but I’m pretty sure the Quran is not telling people to behead aid workers and use people as slaves.

Vladimir Putin and his inner government group. (I am not sure what the Russian name for that is.) Do you actually think no one minds or has noticed that you’re rebuilding the Iron Curtain? Please stop. I would like to go to Eastern Europe and Russia in my lifetime without feeling like I’ve stepped into 1965.

The citizens of America who think it is 1965. It’s not. Shooting people is not even remotely a good thing. Shooting them based on their skin colour is even worse. You’re embarrassing your country.

Okay I think that is enough for one post. Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions for different winners or new categories? I couldn’t think up a category for Chantal Claret’s Pledge campaign, for example, or one for Lola, the chimp who does Gerard Way’s PR. 2014 has been an action-packed, sometimes-hilarious-but-mostly-depressing-news-stories year!

A Story About a Review About Blood of Olympus, Plus the Review

A few weeks ago I was having a day of a sort of freelancer sports day, which involves logging into a load of freelancer websites and applying for as many writing or blogging briefs as possible. Usually I shy away from product review articles, because I like Indifferent Ignorance to be my own space, and because I’m terrified I’ll find myself in Private Eye’s Street of Shame column, accidentally supporting a company that promotes the Westboro Baptists or something. A few weeks ago, though, there was a brief open to review Blood of Olympus, and to get a free hardback copy of the novel.

‘Twas like Athena herself was smiling upon me.

I’d worked out, see, that I could afford either the physical or Kindle version of the novel, but probably not both – and if I ordered the physical, I wouldn’t get it until after I came home from Greece. But the gods had spoken. Or the Internet had, anyway. I applied for the brief and got it (first time ever that’s happened, although the application was 99% me gushing about how I was planning on doing a post on the book anyway).

Since I’ve now downloaded, read and had a little dance about the novel, I reckon I’d better make good on my contract. Here is the advert, which I was told to include…

…and here is the link to purchase it on Amazon. Don’t forget that your local bookshop will almost definitely contain a copy, since Uncle Rick is hot stuff in the teenage section.

Review Time

  It’s probably the best thing I’ve picked up in the last six months, and I recently started The Da Vinci Code. For what it’s worth, I reckon Uncle Rick’s writing is more engaging, and his characters are more interesting. That said, I’ve known most of them for nine other books. Dan Brown might go into more detail about history and god stuff, but Rick definitely has the edge on toilet humour – although there was a fun crossover when they both mentioned the term Pontifex, which I believe is the Pope’s Twitter handle.

In terms of the novel’s characters, some of which I care about more than I do people I actually know, most of them get what they deserve. The rest of their lives aren’t written out in a prologue, but there’s enough there that Uncle Rick could do short stories or a miniseries if he wanted (and regardless of whether he does or not, fan fiction writers will probably never be bored again). There are parts I want to read over and over and it’ll probably take another read before everything settles into my head – but when I finished it, I did not throw my Kindle across the room, which was my instinct at the end of Mark of Athena. There are no huge cliffhangers, at least not to the point where I want to march up to Uncle Rick and bop him on the nose. I’d love to pick his brain about the novel and I’d love to read short stories about certain characters more, but I’m also intrigued to see his next work. It was a solid end to two huge, detailed series, but most of all I’m jazzed that there are children reading them who have characters and plots to which they can genuinely, clearly relate. Not bad for a story about the pagan gods, huh.

I guess none of that made much sense unless you’ve read the book. Go and do it. Go.

Competition Time

  Oh, didn’t I mention that before? Well, snowflakes, the people who listed the brief also asked if reviewers would like to host a competition to win a hard copy of the book. Course I would, I said, I love my wonderful fellow readers. Apart from the shitheads who post spoilers, anyway.

So if you’d like to enter a competition to win a copy of the Blood of Olympus, please leave a review on this very site with a haiku stating what you think of people who post book spoilers online. Nothing too gross please, I’m in a good mood. But gross enough that I think ‘darling, you deserve to work in the Fields of Punishment’. One haiku per bitter person, please, and be don’t forget to include an email address. Aim to have it done by Monday 20th and I’ll pick my favourite and post the winner by Saturday 25th. The dudes who ran the brief will send you the copy directly, which is good because I’m not home for another three weeks.

Happy poetry-ing!

Introducing The Little Book of Indifferent Ignorance, Volume I

Yoohoo, snowflakes, this is what I was chatting about on Twitter the other day. I am very pleased and excited to share my first book-of-sorts, The Little Book of Indifferent Ignorance, Volume I!

Look, it's a proper self-help guide!
Look, it’s a proper self-help guide!

Big thank-yous to Ruby, who helped with design advice, and to tabloid-quoting racist homophobes, whose ideals informed this piece rather a lot.

I have put it on Etsy to purchase as a PDF here and it is also available to simply download here:

The Little Book of Indifferent Ignorance

I do not currently have the resources for a proper book, as such, or a fancypants shop on this site, so the PDF is currently available to download; if you have a conscience, believe in compensating people for services rendered or enjoy reading the book, please make a contribution. Together we can tackle the disease of indifferent ignorance!

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

That button will take you to my PayPal, where you can pay either through PayPal or with a card. Just enter ‘Indifferent Ignorance Book I’ or something in the description box so I know what it is you’re paying for; I will soon publish PDF booklets of my other work too. RRP for this particular book is £4.50 on Etsy, hint hint.

Let me know what you think of the book itself in a comment and share it with your friends! Print it out and carry it around if you fancy quoting it and sounding like an idiot! Email me your own examples so I can start to compile Volume II! (I have already thought of more examples but it would be fun to see if you guys have had similar experiences or thoughts.)

This is part two of Five Ways To Celebrate Five Years of Blogging, by the way; you will be pleased to hear that the MCR merchandise reached its recipient, a lovely girl in Italy, successfully.

Happy Friday!

A Tourist’s Guide to Being a Tourist: Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Watford

I feel like I should blog because it’s Literacy Day or something and I’ve got some time to kill before a webinar later. I was going to have a shower so I could be all snuggly with my headphones on, but then I realised that snuggly usually equals sleepy and I’m supposed to be a professional.

Plus I really need to get some proper work points because I spent at least forty minutes today playing around with the customise options on WP and seriously considered making all the links here bright pink. Anyway, Literacy Day!

What’re you all reading at the moment?

I’m reading this:

HPATPS

Why, Francesca?

Well, I went somewhere rather special yesterday, and by rather special I mean a warehouse in Watford…

Privet Drive

Cool huh. I have about a billion photos, mostly of Hagrid animatronics and concept art and Diagon Alley. I was never that into the films because the screenwriting sort of ruined Hermione. It’s a good thing Emma Watson is a total sweetheart.

Yule Ball Set

She’s clearly also teeny tiny.

Since I’ve been to London a few times recently and am on a ‘gap year’ so am supposed to be getting life experience or whatever, I’ve decided to do a little review of my excursions so I can add reviews to my online copywriting profile.

Event and Place Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Watford.

Cost Insane. Tickets plus food plus batshit crazy priced merchandise. They had integrated Starbucks shops and really decent catering but a lot of people had taken picnics. Do that and spend a fiver on Butterbeer, which is foul.

Food See above. Plus nothing I ate made me puke, which was good.

Other people Go early to avoid the crowds. It’s such a popular place that it’s probably packed all the time, which was good in a way because it showed just how many demographics Harry Potter appeals to. There were people from all over the country, people from other countries, old people, families, couples, people with illnesses, deaf people (with sign language guides). 10/10 for people watching, 2/10 for geeking out in peace. It took about halfway round for me to fully process how much stuff I was seeing, and you can only go in one direction. I missed out on the details of loads of little artefacts and information because I’d think “I’ll just go and see X while the crowds are at Y” then I’d get distracted by Z. Take your time. Appreciate how flipping cool the art department was.

What else did I learn?

Well, the Dursleys’ hall carpet is the same as the one my grandparents used to have.

Harry's Cupboard

I might post more photos as and when, just to spring them on everyone in the hope that people dash onto the M25 and have a look for themselves. You don’t have to be a fan, but if you have any interest at all in any aspect of filmmaking, save your pennies and get on it!

Next up: either the Tower of London’s poppy art, a gallery in Fitzrovia or a James Bond exhibition. Wait. The webinar.

The Ten O’Clock News: Penguin Classics Represents Barbie…

It turns out I’m going out for the evening, which happens so rarely I haven’t got my shit together properly (on the plus side, Guardians of the Galaxy). Since I’m going to be entertained – or not, depending on whether it’s as good as my Twitter feed says – let’s all scratch our heads over the weird new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover:

from BBC.co.uk
from BBC.co.uk

Is it commentary on how the novel came out in the sixties, when everyone was screwing children, or did someone click the wrong file and send an illustration of a chocolate box to the cover for Barbies and Hookers?

I may have invented that title.

The Independent quotes a Penguin spokesperson as explaining  that the cover represents’“both the light and the dark aspects of life”’ but I swear I read that book a few times as a child and never imagined abject poverty or spoilt children in the form of a creepy doll child…

Seriously, I took A Level English Lit and I can’t link that picture to the book in my head. Anyone got any ideas?!