Friday, 30 September 2011

Bar Grapple

At some point I remember: Don’t work hard, work clever.
Play jazz, soul, funk, or whatever.
Loose ends, flirt, snort, you turn the lights out and you sort of like,
work off a playlist, a dj, you wanted to party,
but it was you coming out in the eighties,
all the yawn get away with stuff that you weren’t into the music
we would elation it’s not the size of the dog in the fight,
when I got and the whole crowd over and they would chokehold
at the time I was working at 2 and o’clock I would just get my record nervous around the area all the there sort of like 1984/85
I continued the tradition because it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Ghosts on the Dancefloor

Take your best memories of Manchester night life, on paper form. Take a transcript of an interview with a local DJ. Take a personal hobby, and a few of your favourite elements from this. Cut them all up and throw them in a blender. Pour your literary smoothie out on your desk, and form something striking and jagged: an experimental, surrealist autobiographical poem.

26th September: Nexus Art CafĂ© in Manchester. The small eatery is in the heart of the Northern Quarter, the city’s creative hub. A Tom Selleck movie is projected faint onto a lit wall. Customers are engaged in games of chess and Trivial Pursuit.

A group of writers gather. Commonword writer Segun introduces the Ghosts project- a gathering of written material detailing the birth of the Manchester club scene. Segun’s handout explains that the project “aims to capture the so-far unrecorded roles that the clubs in the Moss Side and Hulme areas of Manchester played in the heritage of the Caribbean community.”

Segun tells us how, in the fifties, African seamen set up social groups in the city which developed, over decades, into the nightclubs that we visit today. Soul nights emerged throughout the sixties, eventually influencing a range of music events- including venues playing drum ‘n’ bass and house. (House in particular is still played a lot in the city’s clubs.)

Segun hands us a transcript of an interview with Manchester DJ Hewan Clarke, who came to Manchester in “the notorious winter of 1969”. It gives us a taste of the styles and atmosphere of the city, from a popular DJ’s perspective- a man who brings people together to share something that they love- good music. It’s an era that I was, enviously, too young to be a part of.

We’re going to look at Surrealism,” says Segun, enthusiastically. “Surrealism accesses our subconscious through randomness. It’s our egos that prevent us from properly expressing ourselves, but you can drop your ego and express through automatic writing- just let the pen hit the paper and keep going. Remember,” he says with emphasis, “nothing is forbidden in surrealism.”

We then performed three minutes of automatic writing on the theme of Manchester’s night life: Our memories of the city and it’s bars and clubs.

Here’s my three-minuter:

2002. Deansgate Locks is not yet the rammed street end populated by the moneyed scally and every other reveller. It’s spacious- The brick arches are clearly visible, even from the inside. The music- cutting edge house. The people- well-dressed and good-looking. It’s the first time I’ve walked into a bar and thought, yes, I like this place. I could be a regular here. It’s the only bar I’ve been to with a curved ceiling. The only bar with a full glass front. It’s Baa Bar, apparently the only cheap bar on the strip. Next door, Sugar Lounge is apparently the reverse. Your month’s wages for a glass of coke, populated by footballers and BBC types. Ying and Yang, practically. I neck another Woo Woo and watch the women.

Next, we took another sheet of paper and tore it up into small slips. Segun asked us to pick out, from our three-minute pieces, five words or phrases that we particularly like. We wrote them on the slips.

Then, we thought of another subject altogether- not night-life related. I chose Mixed Martial Arts. We wrote a few key words from the hobby onto the remaining blank slips of paper.

Following this, we took the photocopies of Segun’s DJ interview and cut it up into lines. We bunched up the lines of paper, holding them like a bunch of flowers, and cut them into chunks.

On three more slips, we wrote a body feeling, an action and an emotion- relating to either night life or our unrelated hobby.

We mixed up our slips like a DJ mixes records. Or like an amateur writer mixes clumsy metaphors. Cough.

Segun, his hands deep in paper slips, says “Pure surrealists would just read out whatever text they’ve got, no matter where it falls. But I think we should mix it around and find a phrasing that you’re happy with.”

I lay my slips out in lines on the table. It looks like the letter that Whitney Houston receives from her stalker in The Bodyguard.

To see how it transcribes, check my next update. There will be a combination of three very different writing elements… but will it reveal anything about my subconscious? Could I- or you- interpret anything from the result? Comment if you think so…

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Doris' Legacy

We’ve done this writing exercise before… I really must research some new ones. Regardless. Here we go.

The group sits at the table. We each have a sheet of paper.

Write a character name. Fold the paper back, so you can’t see the writing, and pass it to your right/left. Keep all the passes in the same direction.

Write an age. Fold. Pass.

A place. Fold. Pass.

A time of day. Fold. Pass

An object. Fold. Pass.

This didn’t bring us full circle, but it doesn’t matter. There were enough elements, by this time, to make a good story. Here’s what I had:

Name: Doris Andrews
Age: 107
Place: Farm
Time: 2:30am
Object: Bracelet

Here’s what Doris is doing:

She had a legacy. A whole branch of the family tree was underneath her. Two daughters. A son. Nine grandchildren. Five great-grandchildren. Without her, there would be none of it.

Doris sipped her water. She took another pill. She looked at the packet of pills. She couldn’t even remember what they were for. But when the alarm beeps, she takes a pill. That’s all she could remember about it.

She looked at the mould of her body from above the covers and thought about how small she looked. She was 6 foot at 21. Now, her teenage grandsons were a head taller than her. Her family, their heights, the size of the whole Andrews clan: Everything was large. Even the farm she lived on was spacious- bigger than most dairies.

She put the water down on the cabinet. She’d left her bracelet on the side, a thin, silver line reflecting the moonlight through the aging curtains.

Doris wasn’t in the habit of taking pills at 2:30am. She wasn’t in the habit of anything. She must have noticed she’d missed a pill, and shifted the alarm on a few hours to compensate.

I’m still sharp, she thought. Still compus mentus. She thought of the lifetime of country air she’d breathed in, and thought of her family in the city, and what was going through her lungs.

Still, she thought, it can’t be harming their growth. The kids are tall enough.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


This week’s dig-a-hole-and-hide-in-it moment occurred at a writers’ feedback meeting. I’d brought in a screenplay- a short comedy featuring homosexuality and Sadomasochism in gangland Britain. As you do. Before the critique I suggested each part be read out by a different person. I purposefully didn’t tell anyone about the content- I just reeled off the character names and let people pick them.

Unfortunately, this led to one man picking the role of a suppressed gay, and his own son- who’d only been at the group a couple of times- picking the role of the straight object of said gay man’s affections.


Still, they were good sports and got through it. The script was well-received and needs tweaking only a little. I’ve been advised to get in touch with a few drama workshops to see if it could be acted out. The Northern Film Network were good for this kind of thing… but they folded a couple of years ago. Does anyone want a bash at shooting this script?
Get in touch! I’ll send it out to you.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Those who beg for mercy...

I was attending a writers’ group in Oldham for a while, a couple of years ago. We’d warm up for the sessions with a written exercise at the beginning of the meeting. As a group we’d look for writing competitions and writing prompts in magazines and on websites. On one week, a group member found a competition in a TV Times magazine, who were looking for new crime-writing talent. The weekly mag wanted short story submissions in the crime genre that must begin with this opening line: 

In my experience, those who beg for mercy seldom deserve it.

We used this prompt phrase as an exercise, and spent a few minutes developing our stories. Here's my attempt.


In my experience, those who beg for mercy seldom deserve it. The theory behind this is, if you know you’re not guilty, you don’t have to beg. After all, who begs if you don’t have to?

The alibi saw the attacker fleeing in a red waterproof. The team had scoured the CCTV and on that day there were two people captured on camera matching that description. Made them both guilty as hell, one after the other. We bent the rules a little- circumstances dictated it- and told each man they were the only suspect.

Michael Bishop, a distressed young man, sat in the plain room looking at the floor.

I took a chair. “You think any lawyer is going to pluck you out of this?” I tried to ask as calmly as I could, suggesting I was presuming his guilt. I wasn’t presuming anything.

Well, yeah,” he said. “And he’ll help me to sue you for defamation of character.”

Give it your best shot. I look forward to see you in court.”


Later, with Mr. Bishop counting the bricks in his cell and joking arrogantly with the officers, we dragged Robert Neild into the interrogation room, the cameras watching his every move.

He was shaking as he slumped in the chair. “Look,” he said. “Yes, I was on the street.”

I’d not even asked him a question.

You can’t do this to me. I was provoked. He was gonna kick me head in. I was just, um… pre-empting it.”

I raised my eyebrows, encouraging him to continue.


I think in order to write a realistic police story, you’d need knowledge of police procedure. I don’t have it. That’s one of the reasons I never developed this, and it sat in an ageing notebook in my cupboard for a couple of years.

However, if you're looking for more inspiration try Writing Magazine and Writers' Forum: two good publications for authors and poets. The magazines often feature competitions and prompts that could be used by writing groups as opening exercises. Find them in WH Smith and other outlets.

For more creative writing prompts online, see here.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Odd French Jam Scenario

Jam jam jam jam jam. I’m looking at my Blogger stats right now. And I’m confused. I’ve been writing this blog for four years. I’ve discussed the antics of a range of celebs, described numerous creative writing exercises, detailed a plethora of bizarre anecdotes and detailed numerous techniques for developing blog stats. Yet, when I look at my own blog stats, the search terms (what people put into Google to be directed here) don’t exactly reflect this. Do you know what the top key search word is?

Yep. “Jam”.

I wrote this post  a while ago- a creative writing exercise where I linked one person’s opening line to another person’s closing line. It’s the only post I have written, to my knowledge, featuring “jam”. Other than this one. Whether the written exercise will satisfy the curiosity of Googlers is beyond me.

But, in the interest of developing blog stats- if it’s jam you want, it’s jam you shall have. There’s space to jam in a story, even if it is a sticky one. In fact, while you’re reading, why not have some background music to jam to?

Picture the scene. Some time in the early nineties. On holiday. South of France. Breakfast in the sun outside the caravan. Toast from the grill. Unusual margarine from the hypermarket. Authentic Bonne Maman French jam. You can find this in Tesco back in rainy England- Mum has always bought this brand, certainly for as long as I can remember. She unscrews the lid as normal. It’s designed to be lumpy jam, with chunks of strawberry mixed in with the jelly. She scoops out a chunk with the knife and lands it on the toast. And pauses.

There’s something in the jam. It’s small and black. It looks like discolouration at first.

Eurgh,” says Mum. Her top lip turns up. She digs her knife in like a scalpel. She cuts out a lump and scrapes it onto the side of her plate.

It’s a beetle. A dead one.

I wonder what French peanut butter tastes like, and how secure their packaging procedures are. Jam is, for the next few weeks, off the choices.

It’s now, what, fifteen years later. I’ve moved out of my parent’s house. I just buy your standard Tesco jam. Mum still buys Bonne Maman. As far as I know, there have been no freebies since that summer.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The REAL Reason for Facebook's Subscribe Button

Subscribe, get your issue”
-Snoop Dogg, Drop It like It’s Hot*

You’ve probably noticed that Facebook has recently changed its privacy settings, now allowing you to “subscribe” to people’s public updates without needing to add them as friends. Some might say it complicates things. I say, things change.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to see the motivations for Facebook’s newest adjustment. First off, understanding your own privacy settings has suddenly become much easier. We can now choose how much information we want a person to see, and can view our page from the perspective of this person to check we’ve adjusted the settings as we want.

A bigger driving factor: Facebook wants to take on their biggest rival, Twitter. Twitter has gained popularity massively recently- partly due to news of cheating footballers and sly, doomed tabloids breaking on the site before the papers can report it. People started to try out Twitter en masse, and saw the array of celebrities sharing updates. It’s fascinating for movie fans and pop music lovers.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is just filling a gap in his product’s service, tempting celebs to share info with their fans. Celebs don’t run their own fan pages and they have probably set their own profiles to the highest security settings… until now. We have already started to see some big names adjust their settings to allow their fans to see their personal Facebook updates through subscriptions. This will mean celebrities' accounts, like actor Jared Leto's, will need to be verified, in a similar way to Twitter’s system, to prove the celeb is really the person updating the account.

I bet that’s the covert reason for the new change. It’s all about taking on the new competition from Twitter, disguised as a genuine concern for the control of your privacy.

*You can follow Snoop on Twitter. There's a Facebook “Like” page that looks like it's ran by the man himself. But now, Facebook are now tempting celebs to make some of their personal updates public so that their subscribers- usually fans- can see what they have to say. Obviously, a celeb like Snoop might use Facebook to promote himself, making some of his updates “public” for all to see. (There will be a small image of the globe next to the update.) For his close friends, he can make an update “private” for only his friends to see. For his public updates, he should be able to syndicate his Twitter account to his Facebook so updates appear on both simultaneously.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Do You Want to Meet Ian Rankin?

Author and creator of fictional detective Rebus, Ian Rankin, will soon be in town signing his new novel The Impossible Dead. Find him in Waterstones Deansgate from 1pm, Thursday, 13th October. It’s free! I’ll be busy doing some promo work dressed as a large piece of toast on this day, so won’t be able to make it. Don’t ask.

Do you fancy going? Do you want to write it up? Can I show your writing here? Come on, it’ll be fun! You’ll get a link to your blog, if you have one. Get in touch at if you’re going and fancy collaborating.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Cold Six Thousand.

I want to see these bad, bad, bad, bad men come to grips with their humanity.
-James Ellroy

I recently finished reading Ellroy’s epic crime novel, The Cold Six Thousand. It's a classic. Starting with the FBI-orchestrated Kennedy assassination (detailed in Ellroy’s fore-running novel American Tabloid), we’re introduced to hitman Wayne Tedrow Jr, who has arrived in Dallas to kill a black pimp. The moment he gets off the plane, he’s caught up in the JFK conspiracy. FBI man Ward Littell and Howard Hughes’ hitman Pete Bondurant return to clear up the mess of their slightly botched Kennedy hit (fall guy Oswald is still alive after he kills the policeman sent to kill him). Littell and Bondurant then continue to shape American history via ‘Nam war dope dealing, further JFK cover-ups, a link-up with Tedrow Jr and eventually the whacking of both Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

The Cold Six Thousand is a riveting, violent-as-hell read and a great retelling of history, although Ellroy’s choppy sentence structure becomes testing after a few hundred pages. There's also a couple of instances when things become unrealistic. For instance, a man has been paid to kill someone- someone who, it emerges, is the same individual the hitman has been tracking down for some time, for his own reasons. I thought I'd misunderstood this, but a quick Google search shows this as a bizarre coincidence within the story.

That said, I love conspiracy stories where the author shows us flashes of a history that we’re already familiar with, only accompanied with a very different back story, tempting us to change our beliefs about the past. Ellroy is the master of this. As is usual from Ellroy, it's ridiculously complex so be prepared for a head fuck. An incredible, 700-page, Sunday-Times-Bestselling head fuck. Read American Tabloid. Then read The Cold Six Thousand.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

I've been interviewed!

Author Morgen Bailey, novelist / blogger / short story author and three-time NaNoWriMo winner, is conducting a series of interviews with authors on her blog.

Guess what? I'm one of them. Number 128, in fact. Check it out.

Morgen is still looking for more contributors, so if you're an author and want to get involved, check her website for contact details.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Social Media Prediction: ACCURATE.

Here's a post I wrote a year ago suggesting Facebook will soon incorporate webcams.

New networking site Google Plus did just that in July, as I documented here.

Zuckerberg has finally pulled his thumb out and caught up. Log on to Facebook to see the webcam interface in action. If you look at the chat box and click a friend's name, a separate chat window will appear as normal to the left. Next to their name, you'll see a small video camera sign. Click the sign and install the plugin, and you're ready for video chat. Send a request to start a video call. You get connected if they accept. If they don't or they're not there, you're given the opportunity to record a webcam message- provided you and your recipient have both installed the required plugins.

Stay tuned to see what else I say will happen. Because it will happen.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Movies By Maths #1

 Experimental post to convey a movie's lack of originality.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A Trail of Muddy Footprints Led You Here

A writing exercise you can do in a group:

Before the meeting, the group leader takes a series of slips of paper. He / she writes an opening sentence, unfinished, on each one. He / she folds them up and takes them to the meeting.

At the meeting, a member of the group picks out a folded slip and reads the statement out loud. This is the opening sentence from which the group writes.

Our opening line was:

A trail of muddy footprints led Margie straight to…”

Here’s what I came up with. I apologise in advance for this. I really do.

A trail of muddy footprints led Margie straight to a T-junction, where they stopped.

Margie looked left. Margie looked right. Margie saw no-one. She tittered, bemused. The guy had charged through her farmyard, laughing like a maniac, just a few moments ago. He was out here somewhere.

On the tarmac, she found a solitary custard pie. Scooping it up, she scouted the land.

The trouble with living out here, she realised, was that people needed open space- particularly those in travelling circuses. They can take up whole fields. But their antics were beginning to test her. Too many silly string attacks had frayed her nerves. She was going to find this clown and wipe the smile off his face. But where was he?

She looked both ways. No silly outfits. No laughing. No balloons or giveaway seals patting down the road. How can footprints stop in the middle of a wide road? And which way had he gone?

Tentatively, she climbed onto the Limestone wall at the side of the road. She looked out at the expanse of grass, bisected by tarmac. There he was, heading west- left hand, right hand, knees to the sky.

She positioned the custard pie.

Stay off my land, she thought, and launched the pie at his ridiculous head.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Published: Double Entry

I spent ages trying to think of an imaginative way of introducing my latest story, but I drew a blank. So here it is. Erotica magazine Oysters and Chocolate have published this black comedy piece. I hope you enjoy “Double Entry.”

I spent ages trying to think of an imaginative way of introducing my latest story, but I drew a blank. So here it is. Erotica magazine Oysters and Chocolate have published this black comedy piece. I hope you enjoy “Double Entry.”

Friday, 9 September 2011

Subway is NOT a health food.

I had a bit of a wake-up call recently when somebody showed me this website claiming that it’s actually “healthier” to gorge on Big Macs than it is to chow down on the majority of Subway sandwiches. Subway’s ethos of providing supposedly healthy food, carrying the misleading phrase “eat fresh”, pulled the sandwich wrapper right over my eyes. It tricked a vast number of other Britons and countless Americans too. Check out “Is Subway Healthier than McDonalds?” halfway down.

It’s a personal blog and not an official website, but the page is- I’m sure you’ll agree- very believable.

I’ve been eating a six-inch sandwich three times a week- considering it a “light snack” between work and the gym- for the past six months. No wonder I’ve piled on weight and lost my six-pack- despite smashing the gym six times a week!

This changes now. As well as cutting out Tesco Value goods, I’m also avoiding Subway like a large bucket of fat. For exercise, I’ll keep hammering the weights, and will stick at Boxercise and MMA Circuit (See here). These are two classes at Oldham Community Leisure that will definitely increase strength and endurance. I’ll get back to the physique I had before I moved out of my parents’- which, for the record, was pretty damned good.

I’ll blog again in a month. Rather than comparing body weight (I could go down cutting fat or up building muscle) I’ll compare cardio / strength records at the gym. I expect good results, and will no longer have a sub-standard physique (pun intended).

Thursday, 8 September 2011

"Not even Z-list"- last week's big-name encounter‏

Here’s a shout-out to Wingman from Capital Radio Manchester, who I met on Bank holiday Sunday in Avici White, Manchester. I told him I run a blog about Manchester and celebrities.

I’m not a celebrity, mate,” he assured me.

Well,” I bantered. “Y’know. Zed-list”.

Not even that,” he replied.

He’s still a funny guy that a few thousand people wake up laughing to. I didn’t have any goddamn blog cards on me, but I told him I’d give him a shout-out. Google “Power is a State of Mind”, I told him, and I come up as the top result.

Here it is, dude.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Any Sean Ryder Fans Out There?

Thursday 15th September- Happy Mondays frontman Sean Ryder is discussing his autobiography at Manchester’s Watertones Deansgate.

I can’t make it but I’m sure there will be some tickets left. Check it out here.

Are you a twenty-four-hour party person? Are you a writer going to this event? Why not write it up and get it seen right here on Power is a State of Mind? If you send me the text, I’ll post it and provide a backlink to your site. Given how funny the BBC documentary was a few years ago...

I’d say it will be a pretty hilarious night. I’m just tied up. First come first served!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Can You Trick Yourself?

Whether you think you can or think you can't - you are right. 
~Henry Ford, founder of Ford motor company

You’re in the back of a truck, parked up by an abattoir. Frosty air rolls by your feet. With your team-mates, you hoist up cow carcasses, pink and frozen, onto hooks. The truck’s hidden motor churns out the cold, preserving the meat. The truck is filled now, the last body lined up. You walk back, shoulders hunched to keep the air out, checking the fixtures.

That’s when you hear the clang.

The light changes. The container on the back of the truck has been sealed. Your teammates forgot you. Only the backup lights, with their metal frame covers, bleed out a little yellow light.

Panic. Cold. You’re alone. You find a wall. You knock. “Hello?” you say. “I’m still in here.”

No response. You knock harder. You bang with the underside of your fist. You shout. You swear at the people who left you. You yell. You kick out with the flat of your foot, hurting your knee. Weeping, you scream at the walls. Your footing goes. You stumble into the carcasses around you: a macabre prediction of your fate. You sit with your back against the wall, surrounded by death, waiting. Heat and hope drain out of you, second by second, in the small steel room.


The next morning, the abattoir workers open the door to the container. The door clangs again, but you don’t hear it this time. You don’t see the burly men enter and flick the lights on. You don’t notice the water on the floor that has drained off the meat, gushing out of the door onto the floor outside. You don’t smell the rotting. The men do, though.

There’s a carcass at the back of the room, jammed in a corner. It’s yours. You’re not frosted over, but you’re frozen stiff. Your heart has stopped.

The men are dumbfounded. How has this happened?

Did we check the motor? They ask each other. The container’s motor, the device that keeps the room cold, is inspected every night- usually. But not last night. They forgot. They check the box in the corner of the room.
The engine burned out some hours ago- long enough for the large meat stocks to thaw out completely.

You didn’t, though. You were convinced that you were going to die. And you did.


Well. What a depressing story that was. I heard this story back in 2005 when I made a failed attempt to carve a career in telesales. The company I was working for put on a training course where a very upbeat, jolly lady “taught” us about positive mental attitude. She told the story to illustrate this point- if you think you’re going to fail, you will fail. It stands to reason, she suggested, that if you think you’re going to succeed- or rather believe you’re going to succeed- you will succeed.

I really liked the sentiment, but I didn’t believe the story then and I don’t believe it now. Can you “freeze” to death in a room above zero degrees Celsius? Can you die from just the belief that you will? Can a total loss of hope kill you?

Jolly Lady seemed to believe it. There isn’t much online to back it up. The more positive ideology does match up, however, with that discussed in the film The Assassination of Richard Nixon.

Samuel Bicke (Sean Penn) is trying his hand at sales. It isn’t going too well. His manager Jack Jones (Jack Thompson) gives him some confidence-building audio tapes to listen to.

Remember,” says the tape’s instructor, “power… is a state of mind. You have as much as you think you have. If you don’t think you have any- you don’t.”

Interesting. I’ve spent my life trying to trick myself into becoming more confident. I’ve also made a conscious effort to find people who can advise me on this issue. I’ve met with social workers, careers advisers, disability specialists (I have short-term memory difficulties), and talked things through with friends, of course. I’ve written a lot about power and confidence, perhaps altruistically as I’m not convinced that these blog entries show my confident side. I read advice books like The Game. I’ve put key phrases from the book into my phone for reference when I’m in bars. I follow the book’s author, Neil Strauss, on Twitter. I read websites. I’ve subscribed to the emails from dating gurus David DeAngelo and someone known only as “Tynan”. I’ve travelled Manchester looking for confidence-building experts. I’ve visited the Manchester Institute of Psychotherapy, the Samaritans, and a black-belt life coach called Rob Woolen. I’ve spent my adult life- over a decade- learning Thai boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. I’ve tried working in sales, promotions and marketing. I’ve done loads of bar work. I’ve been a volunteer radio presenter. I’ve read out fiction and poetry at literature events. All of this has been me striving for more confidence. I’m now twenty-nine- twenty-fucking-nine- and I think mentally I might just have developed to the stage of the average twenty-one-year-old.

Now it’s time to trick myself. I want to believe that I’m confident. I want to believe that I can get whichever woman I want- and prove myself right. I want to be totally comfortable telling people about my memory. I want to eliminate silent pauses in conversations with people. And I want all of this to improve every part of my life and make me happy. Now, as cheesily arrogant as that sounds, I’ll stop talking and do it.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Celebrity Blog Retweets Are the Way Forward.

Today I interviewed a squirrel in my backyard then threw to commercial. Somebody help me.”
-US talk show host Conan O'Brien's first tweet

If you'd have told me twelve months ago that I'd be chatting up porn stars in the near future, I would have laughed in your face. This, however, has become my reality. Sort of.

Just over a month ago I set myself a challenge: get a famous person to retweet a link to this blog- to pass it on to all of their followers.

The plan was to find someone who would agree to a retweet who had more followers than adult star Kerry Louise, at 43,000 followers. At the time, Ms Louise had already retweeted me and she had more followers than any other individual who'd retweeted me.

I started firing out a few requests for retweets to people, regardless of their stats. TV presenters, pop stars, radio presenters, big-name Hollywood actor types: no response. When you're Nicki Manaj and five million people are messaging you, I expect your Mentions tab would be a constant flow of information from people relentlessly pestering you twenty-four hours a day. You'd start to feel like Morgan Freeman's incarnation of God in Bruce Almighty, tuning into the prayers of millions all at once. Some geek from some northern British town banging on about his pretentious blog is not going to stop you from going about your business.

Well, not usually. I carried on asking people.

I tried other authors, magazine editors, pop stars from the UK and the US, politicians, actors from both sides of the Atlantic, and even a fake Michael Winner profile with 17,000 followers. Largely nothing. Most profiles gave not even the quietest little tweet of response. There was, however, one profession that I had a lot of success with- the porn star.

Here is the honours role, in size-order of followers. Correct at the time of the retweet. Most accounts will have more followers by the time you read this:

Viv Whitehead- arts director (2K)
Mark Santangelo- DJ (3K)
Georgie Darby- Babestation model (5K)
Lucy Love- porn star (7K)
Guido Fawkes- blogger (7K)
Camilla Jayne- Babestation model (8K)
Tommy Gunn- porn star (9K)
Katie K- porn star (12K)
Claire Dames- porn star (15K)
Tanya Tate- porn star (25K)
Charley Chase- porn star (25K)
Derek Haines- author (26K)
OliviaO' Lovely- former porn star (31K)
Kerry Louise- former porn star (44K)- Former top retweeter
Dylan Ryder- porn star (46K)
Puma Swede- porn star (58K)
Mariah Milano- porn star (67K)- Current top retweeter

Rachel Starr (63K, yes, another porn star) favourited my tweet. Well. It's a claim to fame.It wasn't passed on to her followers, but anyone can find it under the "Favourites" tab on her page.

Katie K followed me back. Hi Katie!

90's porn legend Jenna Jameson  “LOL”d at my initial tweet to her- she was “stuck on page 3 of Angry Birds”, and wanted help from her followers. “Not like you to be stuck on page 3 ;)”, I tweet-quipped, adding “(Does anyone outside of the UK get this joke?)”

Why I had so much success being retweeted by this sector of the media industry- when I had so little success elsewhere- is beyond me.

To make my project a little easier, I did a bit of research into add-on applications that work alongside Twitter.

Like a regular Twitter news feed in principle, only comprising purely of celebrity tweets, complete with links to their actual profiles. Updates every few seconds. Good for jumping on celebrities the moment they tweet. At least you know they're online at that moment and are available to read your message. The site also contains a link list full of Twitter accounts for hundreds of big names.

This site processes your account and allows a greater range of actions. Simply log in with your Twitter account and your followers and followings can be ordered by time of tweet, number of followers or number of followings. It also shows you who isn't following back, and gives you the option of unfollowing right there and then without going back to your actual Twitter account.

These functions have been the missing features on Twitter that we have become accustomed to on Facebook. I expect that Twitter will develop its own site to include this ordering system soon, rendering My Tweeter Karma obsolete. Facebook, for instance, only incorporated status comments once an external application allowed users to do it first. Once Facebook copied it- goodbye commenting app.

How to get a retweet

Keep your message short.

Say please. If they retweet, tweet again to say thanks. Remember your manners. They might be on the other side of the globe, but they're still people.

Throw in a compliment. If they're beautiful, tell them. If they're an inspiration, let them know.

The message may need to be more than 160 characters if you want to introduce yourself, name your blog, give a description of content and ask for a retweet. If so, you'll have to ask in a series of tweets. Make sure the tweet with the link in includes a good description of the site, so the person retweeting doesn't have to edit it. They should be able to hit the Retweet button resulting in their followers having a good idea what they're about to click on. You don't want a lack of trust at the crucial moment.

Modify your tweets a little for each person. Personalise messages. If the celeb checks your profile and sees that you've hammered the exact message to countless other people, they won't feel like you really care. They might feel like they're just being used. Wouldn't you? If it's an actor, tell him which role you liked best.

So: How well did the experiment work?

To compare, here are last month's blog stats.

Total hits: 18265
Hits last month: 4011
Referring URLs from Twitter this week: 17
Referring URLs from Twitter this month: 195

Here are this month's.
Total Hits: 25,721
Hits last month: 4245
Referring URLs from Twitter this week: None (the month-long challenge is over and I'm not pestering for retweets any more.)
Referring URLs from Twitter this month: 20 (Strangely low compared to last month. No, I don't get it either.)

But look at my stats!

I'm now going to stop pestering for retweets. I've had very few actual comments, relating to the blog, from those I asked for a retweet. It's been thrilling watching my stats surge, but I have the feeling this will be temporary success. Those who found my site from following adult actresses are unlikely to turn into loyal followers. There were no comments appearing on the blog during this time. Other than the actual retweets, there was no further involvement from people- either from the retweeters nor the people who followed the link.

If you're a blogger, do this as an add-on part of your networking. Maybe ask one person a day for a retweet. I've hammered this for over a month, purposefully. It paid off in stats, but I have also kept up with regular blog updates. Everything in moderation.

Thanks to everyone who helped out with this. I take you seriously as a professional.