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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heavenly Creatures - the movie



I watched Heavenly Creatures on Hulu.com last night. Yes, I know now that it came out in 1994 and was nominated for an Academy award. I’m not much of a movie person, honestly. Seeing Peter Jacksons name roll up in the credits did reassure me that this was a worthy way to spend a couple of hours, though.

I am a psychological thriller crime person. And this story, from the summary, intrigued me. It is closely based on the actual crime, called the Parker-Hulme murder in Christchurch, New Zealand. Peter Jackson and his wife, Fran Walsh decided to focus on the intense friendship (I’d call it a relationship, since it becomes clear that they were lovers) between the girls and how something that should have been a positive part of their lives went horribly wrong.

Which is something that I am also very interested in. All the ways that love and friendship turn into murder and mayhem. I was particularly interested in this story because even at first glance it seems to have some parallels with the novellete I am currently writing, Catalyst (former working title “Silent”).

In the movie, and in my book, the girls are lesbian lovers whose intense relationship leads to the death of those who would come between them. And there the resemblance ends.

Heavenly Creatures does a beautiful and graceful job of recreating the girls’ relationship. It is easy to see how happy they make each other, how close they become, and how each becomes the others one ray of sunlight in a world that does not seem to love or appreciate them.

I could easily identify especially with Pauline. I was a very angry young teen myself, who deeply and desperately hated my mother. And yes, I actually did spend a good deal of time – very early in my own life – considering ways that I could kill her. One reason I did not was because I saw several cases (I was a newspaper junkie and crime hound even then) where the press and public vilified children who killed their parents – no matter what the cause may have been. They still do. I concluded killing my mother wouldn’t do me much good if I spent my life hated and in jail. I decided to kill myself instead. (That’s a whole nother story, and obviously I haven’t killed myself – please don’t inundate me with sympathy and “don’t do it” messages – okay? Thanks)

Juliet is such the proverbial poor little rich girl. Her story underlines the fact that money cannot purchase you health – and that sometimes the things people do to us “for our own good” is not what is best for us at all. I’m actually quite sure Juliet’s parents wanted to do the best for their daughter, and undoubtedly loved her dearly – but their actions left her feeling very abandoned and unwanted.

These two outsiders meet and find they have a rich, humourous, imaginative world in common. Finally, someone to open up to – who appreciates them. They create a beautiful fantasy world – and write novels (I wish I could read them) – and eventually become lovers.

The problem occurs when their parents become determined to tear them apart. For their own good. For the good of Juliet’s health she is to be sent to South Africa (although I can see that in her eyes her parents, now divorcing, are just getting rid of her again – neither of them want her in their new life) and of course, at the grand old age of 14 Pauline’s mother has no intentions of letting her leave the country!

Everyone is doing what is best for their daughter – but the girls can only see that the only person who makes them happy is being torn away from them and there is nothing they can do to stop it.

Except perhaps…and murder and mayhem ensues.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stop The Bleeding

I pay $10 a month for webhosting.

I earn $5 to $10 a month from Adsense, $20~ from Squidoo (for which I do not need any actual webhosting) and about $100 a year from Zazzle (again, for which I do not need webhosting) but it is possible that some of my traffic to Squidoo and Zazzle come from my hosted work - and visa versa.

I also earn (chuckle) about $12 a month from my adults websites WHICH HAVE NO CONTENT and have had none for years now. (It is residual income from some dear souls who continue to buy from my sex toys and porn VOD store and one very long term paysite member who continues to renew their subscription)

Originally I purchased my own web space for several reasons.
At that time, I could and did hand code webpages and websites – yep, we are talking over ten years ago – and they were competitive with professional sites and in many cases, outperformed those sites in my chosen niches. Times goes on, things change and so did that income. Dramatically. Those sites all went down when my old webhost imploded, during the time we were homeless and without Internet, and by the time I was able to do something about it, it didn’t seem worth the trouble. Time – and the Internet – had moved on and past those article sites.

I could host my own blogs. At that time I had a nice little PHP blog program that ran like a top and out SEO-ed all these new blog platforms big time. Several of my 12 blogs were number one result at Google for their niche for years – even after they were offline. Since then the PHP program stopped working, and I don’t know enough PHP to fix it.  I also personally believe the days of making money on a blog are dead.  Running Wordpress on my webspace gives me no discernable advantage over WP on a free host or at Wordpress.com, Blogger, etc. but does offer major disadvantages as far as being hacked and SPAMMED to death. I’ve already decided this blog will move – just not where it will move to.

I could create adult sites (as long as I made sure my webhost allowed them, and of course, I did). For a time – pre-Bush porn vendetta – I made way more on porn than anything else. It certainly paid for itself and made a profit. When Bush went on his porn vendetta, my husband became afraid I would be jailed, and begged me to take all of those sites down. I did so (thus why it has been years – yes, over 10 years – since those sites had any substantial content). I could put them back up now, but after some research I believe that between the availability of free porn, and the extreme porn that comes from the former USSR (where there is currently no laws governing what they can put online) so very cheaply, I doubt there is any real money to be made by a small time porn site or three hosted and run in the U.S. So I haven’t bothered doing anything with those sites, and have even lost some of the domains when I couldn’t come up with the $12 to keep them (last year when we were struggling to keep hubby alive).

I could host my own art, clipart, and coloring pages. Those were, in fact, some of my best earning sites. Then I discovered that most people steal your art and don’t even bother with credit or links. Many of them add insult to injury by stealing your bandwidth. I looked at my hosting statistics today and it is clear someone in Germany is direct linking to something on the clipart site and using more bandwidth than all the other pages on this domain put together, including the clipart pages linked at Squidoo and the free novel downloads I used to have available! This in spite of safeguards put in place by my webhost.

Even though Color-Your-Own.com continues to have over 20,000 unique visitors per month – my income from that site is $2 or so a month. It does send some traffic to the Squidoo lenses and sell some of those coloring books, and Squidoo still sends a little dribble of traffic when someone drills down or searches hard enough to find one of my coloring page lenses..We won’t go into how much of my line art has been stolen and not credited, used for commercial purposes, and my personal favorite, claimed by someone else as THEIR original art. Or better yet, used on someone elses Squidoo coloring pages lens which is ranked 100 times higher than mine and built entirely of other peoples art. And Squidoo claims they prefer original work – what a big fat lie that is.

I could host and run my free eCards site. Of course, we all know better than to open anything marked “ecard” in our email now – because it is a virus. Okay, that was all over with years ago, but the ecard site never regained it’s former traffic. Then my webhost imploded. The company I had purchased the ecard creating software from does not return emails sent to support, does not seem interested in a new installation, and for all I know is totally out of business. New software would cost in excess of $50 and I have my doubts that I would ever make that back. And lets just mention, again, that people stole my artwork and bandwidth despite supposed safeguards against both included in the software.  The domain name was one of those I lost.

At this point in time, I could rip down every single website and webpage I have up, pay nothing for hosting or domains, and come out ahead on money.

Don’t panic, I’m not going to do that.

Yet.

What I am going to do is put Color-Your-Own.com up for sale; line art, domain and all. I’m going to look for a free host for Demented-Pixie.com, my “official authors page” at SummerFeyFoovay.com, and, if possible, my last remaining adult domain which I just like, dammit, and some day I’ll rebuild it in some form. The Cauldron, of course, will go to the “winning blog platform” as explained earlier.

I am not entirely sure what the fate of the free public domain clipart at Squidoo will be, but since it earns me all of $5 a month or so I can’t say I much care at this point. Maybe I’ll sell the lenses and let someone else worry about it.  Right now the larger images are hosted by me - I may see if I can change those lenses so they are on the lens or at least on Squidoo hosting.

I believe my long-term income will come from my novels, and possibly my illustrations and book covers.

Ten bucks a month may not sound like much to you but to me it will; buy a day or two’s worth of nutritious food for my chronically ill husband, or buy enough gas to get us to his specialist doctor/clinic/hospital in a medical emergency. It will buy about one months worth of cat food for Pearl. It is enough to buy a one month supply of one of the several vitamins or OTC drugs my husband has to have that isn’t covered by insurance. It will do about two loads of laundry at the Laundromat. It might be enough to buy a small amount of advertising for my novels. It could be used for a luxury – such as a few new books for my Kindle, some Facebook credits for games, or music for our iPod Shuffle. I could even gasp SAVE it towards owning our own home or car someday.

Hey – it’s ten bucks.

Blessedbe

Summer Foovay

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Best Blog Trial

At the moment, I have SIX blogs that I cross-post all Foovay's Cauldron entries to. (I have two additional blogs, one for the coloring pages website and another, Demented-Pixie.com which is devoted to the fairly narrow fairy/pagan/punk/goth niche. Yes, for me, that's a narrow niche.

That's part of my problem with the Internet lately - like the rest of the world - everything is supposed to fit into a nice, narrow niche that can be expressed in one to three word search terms. Me, my life, my talents and interests, have NEVER fit that paradigm.

Short, punchy, focused blog entries. I'm working on it.

I have been driven to the six blog situation by two major factors.

One - this blog, hosted on my own webspace on a WordPress platform is hit daily by hundreds of SPAM comments. I'm not sure there are any real human beings reading this blog - although I have thousands of listed, registered users who every day tell me "interesting post. You can get a loan/viagra/drugs/sex/etc at my website here". I could purchase software to block them, except that as you may know I am your typical starving artist and cannot spend money for software that could be spent on necessities.  So I have been forced to simply turn off commenting.

Two - as I have joined and begun participating in various online communities, particularily writer communities, most people have their own favorite platform where they have a membership (and probably a blog or five) and they will only follow or comment on blogs that are hosted on that platform or website (such as blogger, Wordpress.com, or Livejournal).

I am not happy with this situation for several reasons. The first is my personal convenience. Cross-posting to six different blogs, on different platforms, with different ways of handling code is a royal pain in my ass. In addition, I would prefer to be able to link to and advertise ONE blog url for all of my traffic.

Okay - the exception to that is that it is likely that eventually I will split my online endeavors, as best I can, into two niches - as if I were two people - the art I create, and the writing I create. With a blog and fan page and so on for each of them - more on that in another post.

Another reason I do not like this is that Google, and other search engines, don't like seeing a whole lot of identical or near identical pages. You know, like a blog post repeated on six different blogs. And sometimes, if it happens to be an article or short story, on article sites, Squidoo, Gather and fiction sites as well!

But more than anything else, this is a real pain in my ass.

Allow me to bitch for a minute. I can code. I love to do webdesign and make my own backgrounds and so on.  I used to have a lovely php run blog that was FANTASTIC for SEO and threw all of my blogs (when I had 12 of them) up to the top front page of Google in keyword searches for every one of their niches. Sadly, that coding no longer works, and I don't know enough PHP to fix it. In addition, the Internet has moved along and everyone - again - wants you on blogger or LJ or WP.com with them so they can comment without having to log in or do a captcha, etc. Which I understand. Me, too.

Right. Remember the Great Squidoo Experiment? Well, this is going to be the Best Blog Trial. It isn't going to be as scientific, because some things will factor in that cannot be reduced to statistics, such as my personal like or dislike for working with the platform. For the next six months I will continute to cross-post. I've set up a special folder in favorites to make sure I get every fucking one of the six done whenever I blog. (groan) I will watch commenting, sharing, SEO, and traffic (as much as I can since some of the platforms don't let me at those stats), as well as get a hang for working with each platform. I will endeavor to post about once a month about my findings if there seems to be any interest among my audience. And in about six months I will pick ONE GODDAMN BLOG. The others will get a nice thank you and a final post with a link to the one I'm going to use.

So rather than experiment, I'm calling it a trial. Because Goddess knows it is going to be an ordeal for me personally until it's over with. I reserve the right to dump one or more along the way because I detest working with the platform so much I know I'll never chose it - but I'm going to try to not do that. Hell, I got used to this WP platform, and I hate it.

Until it is over with, I'll also leave the blurb at the beginning of each post here at what I think of as "the real Foovay's Cauldron"
that has links to all of the other platforms.


You may notice there are only five links in that list, although at the beginning here I mentioned six blogs I cross-post to. One of the blogs is a personal journal on a closed community site that I don't advertise or link to because, well, it's a closed community and I don't cross post there for publicity or SEO but because my friends on that site have proven to be really great friends who are interested in me, and who will visit my websites, purchase my work, and so on. So although its in the cross posting list, it's not really part of the trial and it won't ever be listed on any other blog. *you know who you are*

Let the ordeal begin.

And here is the blog list;

You are more than welcome, always to follow me at Facebook, or Twitter. If you have other social networks you prefer I am listed at just about everything you can think of as "foovay" or Summer Foovay, or Summer Fey Foovay (some of THEIR systems won't let me use my middle name in case you are wondering). But of course, you get the 140 character version of my life those places ;)

Blessedbe

Summer Fey Foovay

Friday, September 9, 2011

Calling My Audience



I have a lot of wonderful friends online. Amazing, creative, loving, kind, compassionate, smart friends. Some of them are here to try and make a living, or at least a little extra money. Some are driven creative people who must write or draw or photograph or create in some way and are able to share their creations through the marvel of the Internet.

None of them are my audience. I share my writing to be told over and over various versions of “Wow, this is awesome. You are a great writer. Don’t stop. But – it isn’t really my cup of tea.”

Now the encouragement is deeply appreciated. I need a great deal of positive reinforcement to continue creating and sharing because I started out with a great deal of negative reinforcement in my life, and I very easily become discouraged and depressed. Some of that is from early abuse, some of it is from the continual realities of this world, where I am paid $8 an hour to swab toilets in a motel, and less than a penny an hour to draw or write – if that – and that grudgingly from a consumer base that seems to feel that artists and writers really give away their work for free for the joy of sharing.

I wish we could, by the way, but even creative people need to eat.

I diverge. (Speaking of diverging – I am diverging one last time here to say I intend to diverge a lot less in future blog posts – short, focused, punchy, one subject posts – that’s where I am going)

My current friends, and blog readers, and twitter tweets and Facebook friends, and especially my Squidoo contacts – are not my readers. They are not my audience. (Yes, there are, of course, some exceptions)

I need to make contact with my audience. I need to reach the people who will read my writing and go “Wow. That was my kind of book. I loved that. What else has she written? When is the next one coming out? OMG I better get on her mailing list/feed/fan page/twitter account so I’ll know as soon as she writes something new.”

(I also need to find the customer base for my art – but that’s a whole nother thing – and I’m trying to be more focused in my blog posts – right?)

Before anyone gets butt hurt, I am not about to unfriend anyone anywhere for any reason. Are you kidding? I love you guys, I need you guys, and I wouldn’t want to lose touch with any of you because I also love to see what you are doing and creating. What I hope is that I’ll make even more new friends and fans!

Okay – I am stopping now. I’m focusing. Everything else I want to talk about today is – well – something else. And besides, I need to give the hubby a ride to his half day volunteering so I can keep the car and go do other things.

See – some of you are interested in that, and some of you couldn’t care less. In my next post, I hope to make everyone’s life a little easier or at least, more focused.

Focus, focus, focus…

Blessedbe

Summer Foovay

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

The money is in. Hubby ordered his new computer. We hit the grocery store for a massive pile of junk food - a couple good meals - some raw food - and BEER. I got a new spiral notebook with Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter on the front.

THE PLAN - barring interruptions from cowboys and indians for more beer and hot sex - is to chain myself to this computer and WRITE.

The results? Well, Bloodline was a 3 day novel (over Labor Day 2 years ago) although it wasn't QUITE finished. This year I'm actually planning to (finally) finish Silent and then tackle one more WIP - Bloodbath? We shall see....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fire and Ice - the Psychopath



Fire and Ice – the Psychopath

The thought that leapt to my mind when I first saw this image was what a perfect representation it is of a psychopath. So many of them project this icy outer image of perfection – the nice guy next door who plays the clown for children’s parties, the dream husband (rich, handsome, charming), the quiet genius pursuing a law degree. Inside a fire is burning that no one can see and that the psychopath is careful to hide at all costs. Now and then it explodes in a murderous fireball and someone loses. Life, money, security, self confidence, all that and so much more the psychopath will strip from you in a moment of unbridled fury and then walk quietly away once again safely hidden behind their wall of ice. The neighbors are shocked when the bodies begin to surface in the yard next door.

Of all the killers in the Hunters of Men series – some of which you may have met, some of whom you have yet to meet – the one this image is most salient to is Edgar A. Dixon. As sinister as he is with his height, intelligence, and ruthless rule of the family fortune as well as the family mission he still comes off as cold. So cold, that early in the book, Bloodline, Lily is shocked when Betty (the family’s genealogist) tells her that Edgar not only has children – he has in fact 8 children (3 adopted) – and he has 6 grandchildren. They get a good laugh imagining him as “grandpa”. Not bloody likely. His grandchildren are undoubtedly taught to call him Grandfather, and to begin or end any sentence directed at him with Sir.

Martin Hunter, too, comes off as cold but more in the mold of being aloof yet charming (when he wants to be). He is next in line to be family patriarch – and is not above rushing the succession. His passion is raising the next generation of killers, and the secret burning obsession we’ve barely glimpsed as yet is a nascent desire for Lily, that will soon grow into a dangerous need to possess her for his own.

But that’s for the next book.

*evil grin*

Summer Foovay

You can see the original of Fire and Ice here This post is a response to the blog prompt for this blog hop: