Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Have You Used Poets & Writers Website?



Poets & Writers is a free online fiction and poetry resource. They describe themselves as “the nation's largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers.” If you've got a story or poem you want to get published, I believe this is a good place to start.

I'm going to have a trawl around the site this week to see how it works, and to see if I can find some potential homes for my newest poems.

Have you used P&W? What did you think of it?

Sunday, 20 April 2014

What am I doing tonight? I don't even know.

Strange bank holiday weekend. Ups and downs. Fighting off insomnia without becoming hooked on Zopiclone: a balancing act.

Got free entry to Sankeys nightclub in Manchester last night. Found a deal online. I'd not been since '04, when I saw Arman Van Helden play. Last night's beats were courtesy resident DJ Krysko, whose name I've heard dropped on Radio 1.


When Manchester is largely dying on its arse from half a decade of recession, Sankeys is still packing out. Way over capacity, the club had no room to dance- not that many people wanted to do that anyway. Rather than being a down-and-dirty dance music club, the venue is now full of stillettoed dolly birds and pumped-up gym nuts who've probably never thrown a punch in their lives. And the line for the toilets was as long and as disparate as the queue for aid packages in Syria.


I'll stick with Warehouse Project and Albert Hall for club nights, the latter of which I was supposed to be going to tonight. That has fallen through though...

On a separate note, I've got back into combat sports this year. I'm training with Oldham Boxing Centre at Victoria House. I'm getting my cardio fitness back gradually, and my hand and head movement is sharpening with each session. The tuition is spot on.

It's when I use a weights gym that I notice the only downside: my actual strength has dropped a lot. I can't do anywhere near as many chin-ups or push anything like my bench press record. So I'll skip cardio at the weights gym from now on and focus on weights- all the cardio I'll need I'll get from boxing anyway.

So does anyone from Manchester want to go out right now? Hit me up...

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Splits Month


I've just completed another project marrying exercise and literature. This time, I spent a month attempting the splits, whilst sitting and reading.

I was juggling another project at the time of this and didn't have the time I thought I would, but I still made steady improvement.

At the start of the month my feet were 1m 37cm apart from each other. By the end, they were 1m 50cm: a 13cm improvement. By measuring the inside of my legs- up one leg and down the other- I can work out that the distance apart my feet would be if I was doing the full splits is 1m 66cm.

By my estimation, getting that far would take just over another month, at my current pace. And my current pace hasn't been as fast as I'd hoped: as mentioned, I'd not spent as long sat in that position as I'd planned to. I'm tempted to give it another go just to see if I can get Van-Damme-level stretching. But with it being National Poetry Month I'm a little snowed under, and with summer around the corner I'll want to get out of the house and get my vit D as much as possible. Trying the splits outside when you live on a council estate in Oldham will result in the same treatment you'd get if you tried selling Al Qaeda terror training brochures from your car boot. (You'd get the crap beaten out of you.)

Advice if you're going to do this project:
  1. Find a door frame that isn't at the joint of two walls. Keep the door open. I used the doorway from my lounge to my kitchen.
  2. Keep a light on to illuminate the book.
  3. Wear socks and soft, warm clothing.
  4. Sit facing the door with your feet on the glossed skirting board. Butt-scoot in until you feel a slight strain at the top of the legs.
  5. If you can, grip the door frame to stay upright and to edge your legs apart a little more. Be VERY careful with this. Don't pull a muscle. Also be sure the door isn't going to close on your fingers.
  6. Stay in that position for a few minutes. When you've read a full chapter, test your flexibility. You'll soon notice a slight increase in stretching ability.
So what did I read? I was juggling two books.

Life's a Pitch: How to Sell Yourself and Your Brilliant Ideas

I picked up this Stephen Bayley / Roger Mavity joint venture in the Design Museum in Greenwich. When you want something, and someone else has it, you need to pitch them. It could be a potential romantic partner. It could be a raise in your job. You might have a great business idea that needs financial backing. This book tells you how to pitch. It's written with wit, charm, buckets of research and a few cocky, surprising revelations. I was a little confused as to the formatting, though. Quotes from the text were occasionally blown up to break up the text, like in a magazine. Isn't this done to keep the attention of the reader, who- when reading a magazine- might flip to another article? With a book, don't readers read in chronological order? So isn't this quoting unnecessary?

The content, though, was fascinating and the delivery brilliant.

Copywriting: Successful writing for design, advertising and marketing

Copywriter Mark Shaw's 2nd edition of his guide to producing great copy is an interesting, vibrant insight into the copywriting business. Good informative writing sidles up next to replicated posters and website screenshots, with copy text reproduced alongside so you can clearly read the adverts. Well explained and presented. Most of the book covers advertising, but the final chapter delves into the online world- a good introduction to internet copywriting such as blogging and use of Twitter. The subject matter in this last section could really warrant a whole extra book, but that's a different issue.

The one missing answer in the book is to this question: how the hell do you get a job in copywriting? How do you get someone to PAY you to do this, now you know how to do it? No-one I have ever met could answer that question. Hence, I'm still a business support officer.

Practicing the splits will incur steady progress, but now I'm boxing twice a week that may still happen (as part of the cool-down we stretch off). I'll continue to occasionally test flexibility this way, but to focus on this for a full month I'd be better off trying again in autumn once it's cooled off.

Give it a shot yourself- let me know how it goes!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Manchester's Finest Returns to Entourage 2nd May

Possibly the best old skool house night running in Manchester at the moment is Manchester's Finest, a monthly retro night held in Entourage in The Printworks. I got handed this flyer after last week's awesome event. I've noticed that this design doesn't seem to be online at the moment, so here it is.


DJs include Stu Allen of Manchester's Key 103 fame and Pianoman, who remixed Blur's Boys and Girls with his '96 top ten hit Blurred.


Performing a live PA will be Sweet Female Attitude! You remember Flowers, from 2000, right?


DJs on rotation will also include Dave Booth, Adam Guy, Stef Xiros, Bini, Danny Woods and Andy Finn.

I'll be there. You be there.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Manchester's Finest in Entourage


Last night I hit Entourage nightclub in Manchester's Printworks for Manchester's Finest, a night of local-based house music.

Here's old skool DJ and former Key 103 presenter Stu Allen 


I used to listen to his shows like this one on Key 103 in about 1996, so it was great to see him finally play.

90s dance music icon Rozalla performed an impressive but short 2-song PA.


Apologies for being a short-arse and not being able to see my camera's viewfinder as I filmed over my head.

Also working the decks were John Fitz, Adam Guy, Nick Hussey, Lewis Barlow, Shaun Lever, Fash, Stef Xiros and residents Bini, Danny Woods and Andy Finn.

Brilliant music and atmosphere, if you'll excuse the odd stalker-ish weird woman staring at me from the other side of the dance floor all night. Hey, no night is perfect.

This appears to be a monthly night with the next event held on Friday 2nd May. Performing will be garage act Sweet Female Attitude and Old Skool producer Pianoman. My plan is to be there.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Square Ring


Day 4's prompt over on the NaPoWriMo site is a lune. After spending a good portion of today watching 1980s Mike Tyson fights on Youtube, then doing some bagwork and sparring myself, I came up with...

Square Ring

Above the gloves
his eyes fixed, body bracing
fearing the blow.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Ballooning your Blog Stats with Porn Star Tweet: Take 2


Bear with me here, as this story is going to get quite strange.

It started in June 2011 when I was talking to another blogger who had a similar number of hits on their own site as I had on mine. As detailed here, Skeletor's Armpit and Power is a State of Mind had both drawn in around 13K hits each. The author of SA challenged me to a race, to see who could hit 15K first. I accepted, and we both started to crank up our writing, uploading and promoting.

I dived onto Twitter to promote my site. I found ways of drawing people in, including using trending topics and suggestive tweets to tempt people into clicking links. Page views started to trickle in. On a whim, I came up with a crazy idea. I asked a celebrity to retweet a link to my blog, to see if I could boost my readership.

I can't remember who I first asked as I didn't make a point of recording it, but it was a well-known figure with over a million followers. Suffice to say, they ignored me. I tried a few TV figures. A few writers. A few other popular accounts. No response.

Then I tried a porn star. Yes, I was following a porn star on Twitter. Don't judge. (Well, not yet.) Her name was Kerry Louise. She retweeted me to her 44K followers, and I saw a sudden tiny surge in my page views. I got more hits in 5 minutes than I'd got in the rest of that day, after leaving comments all over the net with backlinks to my blog, and other types of promotion. I was enthralled.

I tried a few other girls in the industry by searching for their names. More often than not, they would retweet me and the stats would trickle in. I got to 15K long before my competitor. I'd won the race, and I was onto something.

I knew that there were entire blogs out there raking in hits because their remit was blogging itself. Blogs like Daily Blog Tips, How to Make My Blog, Kikolani and Denise Wakeman were packed with ideas for the development and sustenance of personal and business blogs. The blog authors had thousands of followers. The idea of getting people to read what you put online was already incredibly popular, and I'd found a method of doing this that nobody else had: getting porn stars to promote you. It was quick, and it was effective.

After talking to a few porn stars, I wrote a handful of blog posts about communications between them and myself. These posts quickly received a splurge of hits through Google searches (the majority of them are still in my “most popular entries” at the time of writing).

People love porn. They might not talk openly about it, but it's a part of people's lives. I'm no different. Aside from that now, I was asking porn stars for social media-related favours. I was making porn public.

After searching around, I found that there were LOADS of porn stars on Twitter, and that they had thousands and thousands of followers. Was anyone discussing this? I thought. Was porn still the elephant in the room?

Perhaps not. I had a quick look on Mashable, one of the world's leading tech blogs, to see whether they had covered the issue of online adult entertainment. I discovered the Porn Star Tweet website, an amalgamation of all of the porn stars on Twitter and a feed of their newest tweets. I had hit a goldmine.

I decided to spend a month hammering the site for retweets. I spent a month smashing through as many of the accounts as I could, asking the same question over and over- “will you retweet my blog?”

Many people did, and my stats surged. It was an interesting month, what with loads of hits, follow backs, and threats of being reported to Twitter for spamming. I looked around on Google to see if anyone else had hit on this concept of getting help from porn stars to promote a personal blog. It seemed not. I was onto something.

To keep a track of the project, I kept a spreadsheet of every account I'd approached. I created fields for their name, whether I'd had any response at all, if I'd asked for a retweet, whether they had retweeted, their follower count to the nearest thousand at the time of writing and a field for notes.

At the end of the month, I wrote up the post. I showed it to everyone who had retweeted me, thanking them for their help. A good number of them retweeted the post, pushing it into my top 10 posts in a matter of minutes.

I showed it to other social media bloggers. Some were interested, some weren't. I got loads of followers on Twitter. I had awkward online conversations. Some people unfollowed me. I received more comments on this post than I had on any other. It took 8 months for the post to climb to the top spot. To this day it is still one of my most popular posts, with over 7K hits overall.

I knew that the project could easily have gone on for over a month, though, as I'd asked only 900 out of the 1500 porn stars listed on the site. So I planned to leave the site alone for a year, to let new people enter the industry and to be added to the site. I had other projects to do. Hence, in October last year, I decide to have another go.

The first thing I noticed was that I was following hundreds of porn stars who had ignored me outright. I started by unfollowing them all. No point involving myself with people who won't involve themselves with me.

I expected I could ask every single person listed on the site within another 2 months. I hinted to this in this post

In actuality it took 5 and a half months. The reason? The site was rarely fully functional. When the site worked properly, the alphabetical list on the right-hand side of the page was available to find accounts. However, frequently the section of the site where the alphabetical list should be was left blank. It would disappear and reappear at random, with no explanation from the site's Twitter feed

Instead, I tried the Porn Stars Stats section, tweeting to the most-followed accounts, the most-tweeted, and the upcoming birthdays.

In the last couple of weeks, the site has been fully operational and I've been able to fire through acount after account, getting swathes of page views. It took so long to do this that by the time I'd finished the names starting with Z, new people had been added on to the site. So I whipped through the list again, throwing in further requests, checking my spreadsheet and referencing when an account was inactive or suspended or not found, so I wouldn't have to check again. If a porn star hadn't tweeted in the last month, I'd note that and not tweet to them. The same goes for if they had protected their tweets (meaning their follower count would be pretty low). The chances of an inactive account replying to me are pretty low, and besides, I want to be involved with people who are actively using Twitter.

Most of the people I tweeted to ignored me. That's an expected factor. Others responded with interest, others with annoyance. Actresses' boyfriends treated me with suspicion. Actresses themselves occasionally lashed out. “Do your own PR, yo!” one porn star instructed me. (I was doing.) But other than that, people either did as I asked or they didn't acknowledge me at all.

I found other small issues along the way. The names people might give themselves over Twitter might differ from the individuals' performer names (which are listed on the Porn Star Tweet page). I eventually made a point of recording both of the names, so I could search for them to check if I'd already approached them. Really, I should have made a field for their @ handle, as this never changes once the Twitter account has been set up. The user can change their Twitter name whenever they want.

So: the big question- who retweeted me? Out of the remaining 807 accounts I checked (many of which were inactive), 135 did. Here are the names, in ascending follower number order, to the nearest thousand. (Accurate to the time of asking for the RT. Account stats may have changed.) The more followers an account has, the more people could see the blog and the more exposure I get. You should follow them.

Jay Rock (26)
John Strange (245)
Shannon Kelly (546)
Maya Divine (557)
Jonni Hennessy (594)
Paul Wilcox (701) (Follows back)
Bella Young (898)
Roggie / Rogizoid (899)
Juan Largo (1K)
Ciara Blue (1K)
Tommy Utah (1K)
Bentley Pierce (1K)
Jasmine Delatori (1K)
Jassie Jade (1K)
Juliana Grandi (1K)
Trinity Morgana (1K) (Follows back)
Trinity Rae (1K) (Favourited)
Wrexxx Kidneys (1K)
Mistress Roxy Jezel (2K)
Ruby Adultstar (2K) (Favourited, follows back)
Cody Sky (2K)
Aurora Monroe (2K)
Chennin Blanc (2K)
Krystal Star (2K)
Master Liam Cockran (2K)
Danny Ocean (3K)
Eric Masterson (3K)
Kassius Kay (3K)
Sage Evans (3K)
Sioux Sinner (3K)
Johnny Slim (4K)
Claire Hart (4K)
Alexandra Silk (4K)
Bella Nicole Black (4K)
Binky Bangs (4K)
Bibi Noel (4K)
Brea Bennett (5K)
Avena Lee / Syonara Black (5K)
Brandi Belle (5K)
Cali Hayes (5K)
Chris Cock (5K)
Jessy Jones (5K)
Jasmine Jade (5K)
Sean Michaels (5K)
Justin Long / Negrodamus (6K)
Alysa Gap (6K)
Max Cortes (6K)
Tristan Berrimore (6K)
Sofia Maya (6K)
Emily Grey (6K)
Delilah Blue (7K)
Angel Rivas (7K)
Nikki Lavay (7K)
Catie Parker (7K)
Lexi Cruz (7K)
Raven Rockette (8K)
Tegan Riley (8K)
Sky Daniels (8K)
Cory Chase (9K)
Brandi Mae (9K)
Sabina Leigh (9K)
Djedi Michael Vegas (9K)
Julia Sands (10K) (Favourited)
Bruce Venture (10K)
Jack Blaque (10K)
Alana Rains / barbiemarleyxxx (11K)
Sara Swirls (12K)
Selma Sins (12K)
Evan Stone (12K)
Vince Vouyer (12K)
Seka (13K)
Nikita Denise (13K)
Anna Morna (13K)
Sadie Santana (13K)
Lilly Evans (13K)
Lia Leah / Vivid Lia 19 (13K)
Magdalene St. Michaels (13K)
Kate Faucett (13K) (Follows back)
Kitty Tyler (13K)
Rita Daniels (13K)
Dakota Skye (15K)
Miss Tiffany Naylor (15K)
Derrick Pierce (17K) (Follows back)
Natalie Moore (17K) (Follows back)
Blue Angel (18K)
Shae Snow (18K) (Follows back)
Jennifer Best (19K)
Randi Wright (21K)
Skylar Green (21K)
Katie Cummings (22K)
Lolly Ink (22K)
Giselle Mari (23K)
Jocelyn Stone (23K)
Mary Jane Johnson (23K)
Summer Brielle Taylor (24K)
Maria Moore (24K)
Holly Hanna (25K)
Paige Delight (25K)
Penny Pax (25K)
Natalie Lust (28K)
Talia Shepard (28K)
Rebecca Love (29K)
Callie Calypso (30K)
Sadie Holmes (30K)
Justine Joli (30K)
Jayden Lee (30K)
Dana Vespoli (30K)
Seymore Butts (30K) (Did anyone see a programme about 10 years ago called Porn: a Family Business about a guy and his brother shooting adult content in San Fernando? This guy was the subject. Fascinating behind-the-scenes TV show.)
Original Tommy Gunn (30K) (follows back)
Sofia Prada (36K)
Alex Chance (36K) (I had asked before but I'd forgotten to include his name in the tweet, and I'd got no response. This time I tweeted with his name. In Dale Carnegie's multi-million-copy-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People, the author writes: “Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” People are more likely to do something for you, Carnegie claims, if you remember their name.)
Kiera Winters (37K)
Mia Rose (38K) (Says, “I have high expectations. Don't let me down.” Oh, I won't.)
Michael Brandon (39K)
Violet Rose (40K) (Favourited)
Megan Foxx (41K)
Tiffany Doll (43K)
Sasha Heart (46K) (Favourited)
Marcy Cartel (47K)
Michelle Thorne (50K)
Kayla Paige (52K)
Laureen Pink (52K)
Jessa Rhodes (52K)
Trisha Uptown (52K)
Holly Halston (56K)
Casey James (56K)
Abigail Mac (56K)
Melrose Foxxx / Just Me... (77K)
Holly West (78K) (Favourited, says “interesting read”)
Katie Cox (82K) (Follows back)
Brooklyn Bailey (84K)
Gemini Love / Geminixxx.com (106K)
Summer Sinn (110K)
Kagney Linn Karter (116K) (her tweet got retweeted 6 times and favourited 5 times! There must be a handful of people out there giving a shit!)
Brooke Haven (178K) (Verified)

And my top retweeter...

Nikki Daniels (184K)


I received 136 porn star retweets.

Stats at time of starting project: 166, 837.

Current stats: 206,813.

The first time I performed this task, I did it for one month. I wrote up the project to show how, in that short space, a project like this can boost your visibility to an audience that you, well, you might not have thought of reaching out to. I wanted to show that your page views can go through the roof by asking for retweets, particularly from porn stars.

This time, I wanted to ask the rest of the people listed on the site. Because I spent so many months on this project, and because particular blog posts were gaining popularity anyway, it wasn't easy to see how many of my stats were a direct result of the retweet project. There were so many peaks and troughs during the retweeting that it isn't obvious what parts are a result of the retweets.



I'd like to say a huge thanks to everyone who retweeted me. I realise it's zany. I realise I'm getting something for nothing. I'm taking you seriously. Whether anyone takes this project (or me) seriously is another issue...