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HELLO INTERNET BOY #3: Somewhat like God

Matt remembers the first time encountering me in any fashion, which was a wildly enthused post on the Sara Douglass Bulletin Boards. Sara Douglass was an Australian fantasy author who I loved and I posted on the site telling everyone how excited I was that I’d met her at a book signing. I must have been around fifteen. Apparently after the post, he added me on MSN Messenger or maybe ICQ and we chatted.  After chatting about Sara Douglass and fantasy books for a while, I told him about a roleplaying game called Alleria which I’d recently started playing. There was some weird roleplaying fanfiction element on the Sara Douglass BB boards, so it made sense to get him involved. He went over to Alleria, started playing an Elf named Aderyn and now he basically runs the place. Matt told me all this at the cafe in a very definite manner, because as per usual, I can’t remember anything about the past at all. He seems to remember things clearly and with great clarity. He seems to know a lot of secrets. Sometimes he would tell a story, and then look at the recorder and end it with ‘oh, I know some things.’ In vampire terminology, I am Matt’s Allerian sire. I created him, in much the same way I was turned by a super motivated girl on AOL Instant Messenger a year or so earlier. I feel both pride and responsibility about this position. I feel somewhat like God. I am being entirely facetious. I asked Matt a lot of questions about the state of Alleria now – or Aelyria as it’s now known for undefined reasons. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was pushing towards something with my questions – I asked him about how it compared to the game I knew, how it had changed, for the worse or for better. It’s been so long since I’d played that I was clearly trying to find out if the game I played even still existed outside of our shared memory. I also asked him about how it all fit into his life. He had done it all, played a long-running character with a rich and varied history, been all the different forms of Games Master and was now a Director, basically the top job. I’d briefly taken a stint as a Game Master and wrote a very sporadic drunk gay elf named Mesildur who basically crashed parties as a hobby. I asked him how he fit it all in as Director, how he dealt with the stress of all the drama, all the intrigue, how he managed to write so much every day. Had he ever taken time off? Had he ever gotten burnt out? He told me that he found it easy, that it was relaxing, that it was fun. Which, I suppose is exactly the kind of buzzwords you want to hear in relation to a game. Matt ordered a second Chai Latte and I gave a polite yet entirely incoherent homeless man some money, and I realised why I was asking all these questions – I had quitters guilt. Sometime around 2005 I’d left the game, citing other writing priorities, working a bunch of stupid jobs and uni, having RL friends. All things which other players in the game managed to juggle while still playing. It seemed that I subconsciously wanted validation for leaving – I wanted to hear him say that it was a major responsibility, that it took up his entire life, that he’d sacrificed his friends and family and career in his mad quest for internet roleplaying power! But it hadn’t. I am someone who suffers massive FOMO, and I don’t like quitting. I like sticking things out. I’m sad that my connection to this game exists almost entirely in the past, but I suppose that this project is about exploring that? And if all else fails, I can just take credit for everything Matt does because I am his sire and am somewhat like a god I suppose.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.

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HELLO INTERNET BOY #2: Super chill

Our table was rickety and despite no longer being able to drink coffee myself, I felt a huge amount of responsibility for the quality of the coffee he was drinking. I’m still at the stage where I need to justify my lack of coffee drinking, as if people would judge me for drinking tea. I delight in telling people about my ulcer. The first thing I said to him after saying hello was to tell him about my ulcer. I assume people judge me for drinking tea, because I used to be that person who judges people for drinking tea. Anyway, I have no idea if his coffee was any good, but he drank it down within the first five minutes of us sitting down. My tea was tea. His name is Matt, and he had the dubious honour of being the official start to my project, being the first to leave the sweaty anonymity of the internet’s cocoon and explode into becoming a real person. Or more specifically, catching the train up from Shellharbour and meeting me out the front of Kinokuniya bookstore in Sydney.

Matt was polite and friendly and said about two words for every ten of mine. I think this is because as we sat down, I pulled out notepads and pens, and the notepad had lists of questions and a checklist for me to tick off and he looked at them and laughed a bit, and I told him that I tend to over-prepare. He said ‘at least you’re not recording me!’ and I answered with ‘actually, could I?’ and attached a special microphone to my iPhone when he agreed. I don’t know why, but I’d set this out like it was an interview, like I was wearing my best shoulderpads and I was trying to find out the scoop. “Hey Jimmy, what’s the skinny with being a dude from the internet, c’mon, give me a ‘sclusie, I love ‘sclusie, what’s the 411, the lowdown.” I realise now that I was not putting him at ease.

When someone is ill-at-ease, the best thing to do is to talk really fast and animatedly, in the manner of a person trying to convince themselves that they are not covered in bees by repeating the line ‘I am not covered in bees’ a thousand times. I asked questions that had fifteen minute setups, and I would then answer them myself. I asked him a lot of facts. I don’t know why I asked him a lot of facts. I didn’t realise that I was being a weird list-freak until the end, but you know, there’s a fucking reason I have this goddamn ulcer, you know?

(I am going to write more about meeting Matt, btw, I just had to get this off my chest)

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.
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COME AND SEE ME AT PLACES: April/May

If YOU have some kind of ridiculous desire to see me at places doing readings and junk, then boy oh boy, the next two months are gonna be a real treat for you, with readings at Story Club, comedy discussions, ghost stories and an event at the Sydney Writers’ Festival! No but seriously, all these events are going to be amazing and feature amazing people so once you get sick of me, there’s all sorts of other wonderful nonsense happening.

TUESDAY 7th APRIL – STORY CLUB: I Told You So

Where: Giant Dwarf, Redfern Sydney

How much: $20

Stories about seeing the car crash before it happens and yelling ‘Oh my god that vase is going to fall!’ when it’s already falling. Plus stories about Daisy Doomsdays, and Smug Susies, and I Know What’s What Wendys. And other stories.

Featuring:
Myf Warhurst (TV Lady, Writer, Double J Presenter)
Alex Lee (BuzzFeed Plus Telly)
Patrick Lenton (Writer of things inc. Book!)
Mark Sutton (Dr of Something)

+ Zoe Norton Lodge & Ben Jenkins

TUESDAY 14th APRIL – GHOST STORIES

Where: Giant Dwarf, Redfern Sydney

How much: $10

It’s hilarious and spooky. It’s creepy and it’s kooky. Quite frankly, it’s altogether ooky. It’s Ghost Stories at Giant Dwarf. Sydney’s best comedians, writers and actors emerge from the shadows to deliver original urban legends and urbane legends so funny and scary that you won’t know whether to laugh or cry. You will scream though. Everyone screams.
Hosted by Pat Magee.

Line up:

Patrtick Lenton
Zoe Norton Lodge
Harry Milas
Eliza & Hannah Reilly
Benny Davis & Mark Sutton
& more!

TUESDAY 28th APRIL: Better Read’s Talking Heads – Comedy Readings

Where: Newtown Library, Sydney
How Much: FREE but bookings encouraged!

Better Read than Dead Bookshop and Newtown Library bring you a mix of the best local, emerging, and bestselling authors.

Comedy Readings:
Four of Sydney’s funniest emerging writers will be discussing and reading extracts from their forthcoming works. Patrick Lenton will be reading from his book of microfiction, A Man Made Entirely of Bats and Oliver Mol, the 2014 Scribe Non Fiction Prize-winner, from his creative non-fiction book Lion Attack! Zoe Norton Lodge (Story Club, ABC TV’s The Checkout and The Media Circus) will be discussing her forthcoming memoir and Bridget Lutherborrow will be chatting about her short story collection, Thirteen Story Horse. With such an entertaining bunch it’s bound to be a fun night!

Presented with Better Read Than Dead

Tuesday 28 April
6-7pm
Newtown Library

Book Online or Call 9265 9333

THURSDAY 21st MAY: A Man Made Entirely of Bats at Sydney Writers’ Festival!

Where: Bondi Pavilion, Sydney

How much: FREE, but bookings essential.

From superheroes to the super weird, A Man Made Entirely of Bats is a collection of comedic short stories and flash fiction designed to make you laugh and think too deeply about the TV show Friends. Join some of Sydney’s best comic actors as they read selected stories from A Man Made Entirely of Bats, written by award-winning writer Patrick Lenton.

Presented with Rock Surfers Theatre Company

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HELLO INTERNET BOY #1: Excited again

I was on a grey, early morning bus from Canberra this weekend, staring at the confirmation email from the AirBNB accommodation that I’d booked for New York, and for the first time since winning this grant I felt a flutter of trepidation, instead of overwhelming, beaming, Labrador-chasing-a-ball-made-of-meat excitement. I was starting to understand that my whole plan of appearing in a flash of light and cloud of brimstone directly out of the internet and into the lives and homes of people all around the world who I only knew as lines of text in chat programs and forums, meant that I’d be doing a lot of meeting new people and socialising. In fact, it’s kind of the crux of the entire project.

But the night before at a writers festival in Canberra, something I’d done to my body, perhaps something I’d eaten or the midday beer I’d drunk had triggered one of my many horrifying ailments and I started to feel like crap. One of the potential names that I have for my inevitable memoir is ‘The Life and Times of a Medically Weak Piss-Baby’, because while I like to think of myself as an energetic, happy-go-lucky  go-getter, I’m usually someone who is eating plain oats because my stomach ulcer has flared up, or is sticking their shingle-ridden leg out the tent flap so the breeze can blow on it, or is massively grumpy because of my iron deficiency. So surrounded by happy writing festival crowds and cool friends, I slunk back to my hotel room at about 10pm and went to sleep. I couldn’t help but wonder how I’d deal with a month in the US on my own, when a single night in Canberra had defeated me.

After an hour of listening to sad bearded men sing about the winter, the girl sitting next to me on the coach got up and had a word with the bus driver. When she came back, she told me had asked him to turn down the air-conditioning, which was somewhere near sub-zero levels. I smiled politely, but didn’t really take out my headphones or close my book – my dad, a frequent intercontinental plane traveller, had raised me on horror stories of being stuck talking to boring and/or insane people for hours. But then she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: she asked me about the book I was reading.

What followed was a couple of hours of brilliant conversation – the subject got around to travel, and she told me about all the places she had travelled on her own. She was not only enthused, but hopeful about it all – she told me she travelled by believing in the best from humanity. I must have looked pretty shocked and sceptical, because I tend to believe the majority of humanity are sewer people, with the kind of habits and patterns that you get from wallowing around in the sewer. But she told me about being stranded on a train station overnight with meth-heads in Germany and eventually making friends with a whole bunch of homeless people who she shared her coffee with. She told me about missing her flight in Rome and some rich businessman showing her around the city in his Lamborghini – a story which could sound super sleazy, but I don’t think actually was?

Her version of how to travel alone wasn’t even the thing that made me feel better, it was actually the experience of sitting and chatting with her and enjoying meeting a new person. I think sometimes I underestimate myself, and even if my body is falling apart, there isn’t any pressure on me to hit this experience with the energy of ten thousand tigers. I can only hit it with the energy of one thin sickly man, because that’s all I have. So I can look after myself, and give myself realistic expectations and goals, and still be excited and enthused and slightly scared, but in a thrilled way, and not put pressure on myself to meet every single person and party every night and eat all the bagels, I dunno. I’m excited again.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.
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I won the Thiel Grant for Online Writing!

Well, in stupidly exciting news I’m overwhelmed to announce that I’ve won the Thiel Grant for Online Writing! I’m very thankful and grateful to Mr Thiel and the judges who chose my proposal. And congratulations to all the amazing people also shortlisted.

star-trek-for-car-partyAs some of you may know, this will allow me to go forward with a project I’ve been working on for a LONG time. I’ll be tracking down and visiting people I played an online roleplaying game with when I was a teenager/early twenties jerkhole, and finding out what happens when internet friends become IRL friends. Magic, I assume. I’ll be writing a series of linked micro-nonfics for my blog during the experience and sharing them all over the goddamn place.

The grant will allow me to actually travel overseas and visit these people, something I would not be able to afford on my own. The next step for me will be getting a schedule in order, but I’ve already got a bunch of plans in place, including a roadtrip in June in the US with two of my roleplayer chums who I will be meeting for the first time, which is gonna be amazing.

I’m excited to explore the idea of truth and trust and online versus IRL personas, but also how funny it is when people meet? I love the idea that I know these people more commonly by the name of the orc politician that they roleplay than their actual name. I love the fact that they know me as a drunk elven lord named Mesildur, as well as Patrick the drunk jerk. I love that pretending as hard as we can to be elves is what will bring us together.

If you want to follow along with this project while I do it, I’ll be posting them on this blog and they’ll all be nice and tagged, and you can follow The Spontaneity Review on Facebook too.

I am very, very, very excited about all this! Big happy dance.
Http://teacherintherye.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/thiel-grant-winner/

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Come see me at The Noted Festival!

Next Saturday, March 21st I’ll be in our nation’s capital for The Noted Festival! It’s a new experimental literary festival, run by a cast of legends and it looks like it’s going to be stupid fun. I’ll be floating in to do cool stuff like the giant be-titted behemoth of our dreams and nightmares.

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“I’ve come to your city to read stories…”

I’m doing two events on the Saturday:

Ask me Anything: Patrick Lenton

  • Saturday, March 21, 2015
  • 1:00pm 2:00pm
  • Smiths Alternative Bookshop

Wondering what’s out there in the digital landscape for writers? Let playwright, fiction writer and The Spontaneity Review blogger, Patrick Lenton, guide you through the ins-and-outs of digital writing. He’ll also be on hand to answer all your questions about comedy writing, micro fictions and digital marketing. Tweet your questions to @NotedFestival.

and –

Lit Hop: Fresh Start

  • Saturday, March 21, 2015
  • 6:30pm 7:30pm
  • The YAH Hub Space

Stage one of Lit Hop, ‘Fresh Start’, will include a selection of readings from some of our Notable artists.

Artists include: Patrick Lenton, Emma Jones, Beige Brown

About Lit Hop: Like a bar hop, but better. Discover notable writers and performers as you go from one watering hole to the next. You’ll find storytelling, games and rowdy trivia in three separate venues, with pop-up pit-stops along the way.

I’ll be reading a story from A Man Made Entirely of Bats at the Lit Hop, and speaking of which the very awesome Paperchain Bookstore are stocking copies throughout the festival.

Hopefully I’ll see you at the festival, come and say hello, let’s do an awkward dance.

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Thiel Online Writing Grant shortlist!

I am very very excited to announce that I’ve been shortlisted for the inaugural Thiel Grant for Online Writing! It’s super exciting and I’m amongst some really fantastic writers.

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If I win, I’ll be doing a massive blogging project where I visit people all around the world who I used to play an online roleplaying game with as a teenager, and discovering what happens when you take a relationship from online to IRL. Is there a massive difference? Is there some kind of inherent truth to meeting someone in person that you mightn’t get in a chat room? Or does the internet maybe free you to forge a different kind of relationship? But mostly it’s about how funny and awkward it is to go on a road trip with people you technically haven’t met before.

Some of you may remember this as the project I pitched to the 2013 SOYA awards, in which I was a finalist – it’s been a project I’ve been working towards for a long time. You can also read a kind of prequel to the project over at Seizure’s Alt-Txt called ‘People I’ve Never Met from Places that Don’t Exist’.

CROSS MY FINGERS!

But it’s a huge honour, and I think it’s amazing that Philip Thiel created this grant for a medium of writing that still isn’t entirely understood or taken seriously by a lot of people.

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So I’ve published a book, oh my god what now?

On Sunday March 1st, A Man Made Entirely of Bats burst forth unto this world, shrieking and pissing furiously as literally dozens of onlookers watched in horrified awe. Let me say this about the entire publishing experience: it’s been an unmitigated joy. I feel so warm and protected by all the people who have supported me and my tiny rabies-filled baby. From the good people at Spineless Wonders, to all the amazing folk who bought a copy of Bats during our pre-release drive and are currently staring baffled at my personalised message, to the gorgeous hordes that came to my launch, to the people who have written nice things about the book… it’s just all been amazing. Thank you.

 

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LOOK AT THESE BRILLIANT PEOPLE

THIS BEN JENKINS GUY IS JUST SO NICE AND FUNNY and helped launch the book, what a goddamn prince.

THIS BEN JENKINS GUY IS JUST SO NICE AND FUNNY and helped launch the book, what a goddamn prince.

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Look at this fuckface

But there’s been a kind of unstoppable momentum up until this moment, all aiming towards the publication date. I’ve been annoying on social media, I’ve been wandering around thrusting my book into people’s faces. But the fact that it’s now published and in some bookshops and online doesn’t mean that it’s all stopped. Oh no, now it’s just began.

For me, I’ll be doing a lot of things. I’ll be doing readings and events and festivals. I’m heading down to Canberra later this month for the Noted Festival, I’ve got some exciting events at Giant Dwarf next month, doing something AWESOME with the Sydney Writers Festival, a comedy reading with some of my favourite authors at Better Read Than Dead in April… I’m going to be unstoppably in your face. That is what I’m going to be doing next. It’s not that I expect to make money from this collection of weird short fiction – I’m not trying to support my starving rescue dogs from the proceeds, or buy myself a white leather tuxedo. But I worked really hard on this book, and I’m proud of it, so I want to make sure that as many people as possible read it. I want to make sure I don’t sit idly by while it slowly fades away into nothing. Maybe it will be only read by a few dozen of the best people on earth, but it’s not in my nature to be complacent about anything to do with stuff I’m passionate about.

There was a great article in Seizure about what people can do to support a debut book, the weakest and most likely to die of all the books. I suggest you go and read it, because it’s just wonderful and 100% true: http://seizureonline.com/agony-aunt-friendly-fan/

Sometimes it is hard to know how to show support for the writers in your life. You toast them at the launch, slap them on the back or tell them how much you like their book. Don’t get me wrong, this is good moral support but it is very likely that the author you know is sweating it out. They are sitting at home staring at a crack in the wall that has begun to symbolise their life, because after years of slog, submission, acceptance and then sweet, sweet publication, nothing much really happens.

You may see a review or two, even in the serious literary supplement of a serious weekend newspaper, and assume that they are now your famous and successful author friend. This is most likely not true. From the outside they appear upbeat but their ears are ringing with deafening silence, punctuated by the odd review or mention.

So what can family, friends and fans do to help? Plenty.

This is what has rung true for me – it took me ages to realise that just because my published friends were famous to me, famous-to-me is not a position that sells books. One of my favourite things to do is only give Australian/friend books to people for Christmas. It’s an easy thing to do, and the recommendation that comes with it usually means the gift means more.

Anyway, this article has a list. I’m going to post this list.

So basically it is quite a challenge to get noticed as an author and the one you know is probably too bashful or prideful to ask for help. Here are some things that any friend, family or fan of an author can do to help raise their profile and get that clap-o-meter to move:

  • Buy a copy at the launch
  • Buy a copy from a bookshop
  • Buy a copy from a bookshop that doesn’t stock it and have them order it
  • Sneakily move your friend’s book to face-out when bookshop staff aren’t looking
  • Bring some friends to the book launch. There will, after all, be free wine and maybe even some cheese.
  • Depending on how close you are to your author, you may like to offer assistance to plan and execute the book launch (since this is often the author’s responsibility these days).
  • Say something online; Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, to name a few*
  • If you’ve got a blog, write a blog post or run an interview; after all, you’ve got access to an author!
  • Take your author out for a drink. Ask them how the publicity trail (trial) is going and encourage them to keep going, to reach out to more bookshops, libraries and bloggers if they seem to have lost steam. Which they may well have, because trying to get attention for their book may seem like banging their head against a particularly unresponsive brick wall.
  • Brainstorm networks for the author to tap. These could be local schools if the book has relevance, media contacts or events planners – to name but a few. Publishers are trying to promote a roster of books all year round – an author’s networks are invaluable.

Such a good list! In my job as Digital Marketer, we’ve found that reviews on Goodreads and Amazon etc are just really important. They’re the internet version of word of mouth. And word of mouth is king. Anyway, watch this space if you want to find out deets of any of these events and stuff, and also now that things have calmed down a little bit, I’ll start actually writing some shit for this blog, instead of endless self promotion. Speaking of which:

If you want to buy Bats, you can buy it in print from many places like here at Spineless Wonders, here at Amazon and here at Booktopia or you can buy it in ebook from Tomely or Amazon.

But seriously. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone for all the support. You’re all golden dolphins swimming in the sun.

 

 

Launch Made Entirely of Bats

Come to A Launch Made Entirely of Bats

Hello friends – if you’re in Sydney, it is a week until the launch party for A MAN MADE ENTIRELY OF BATS! And you’re invited!

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It’s going to be such a good night – launching the book will be friend, former colleague, actor, comedian, writer, good guy and secret spy BEN JENKINS, who you might know as the host and co-creator of ABC’s Story Club, or his work on The Checkout, or maybe his podcast Free to a Good Home. He has so many facets to his bow.

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I don’t actually know what this is, but it came up when I googled Ben so… legally I have to include it.

 

 

The art of Daniel Lethlean Higson will be displayed and on sale as well. You might know him as the designer who created the amazing cover of A Man Made Entirely of Bats.

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Some of Daniel Lethlean Higson’s art: mountforeverest.tumblr.com

 

And I’ll also read a bunch of stories while you drink free booze and have some snacks and it will be a blast, a goddamn blast I tell you. Please come! Bring friends! See you there!

DETAILS:

WHEN: Wednesday 18th February, 7.30pm

WHERE: Alpha House Gallery, 226 Union Street, Erskineville (Just off King Street, near The Union Hotel)