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Welcome to this MARCH edition of Hackwriters. Read us and our amazing archives too. 18 years on-line, 7397 articles - reviews - stories - travel - share any feature you like and pass them on using the links.
Hackwriters is happily cited by HelloTravel.com as "TOP JOURNALISM/NARRATIVES TRAVEL BLOGS 2016"

Editorial: March 2017
Well we are where we are. Brexit will be finally triggered at the end of the month, Scotland wants independence (again) and Northern Ireland might fly the coop too. It's amazing what happens when you let a referendum genie out of the bottle. March 29th will go down in history as the day the UK committed economic suicide. And there is nothing we can do about it. Makes you want to weep. Now we have terror outside the House of Parliment and scores of people with horrible injuries and four dead (including the terrorist). Strange times.

Trump is dismantling healthcare and trust in everything, the media, CIA, FBI and well on his way to bankrupting America with his tax plans - never mind the wall and wrecking trade agreements between Mexico and Canada. That's before we factor in that robots and Ai systems are going to replace all our jobs. Feeling a bit down about it? Take a number, open some wine - it's not going to get any better. Oh yeah, there's a tax deadline too.

Been thinking a lot of the selfie culture lately.  That urgent need to be a star in your own life; show everyone what a great time you are having. Post images every meal you eat, your funny dog, your crazy cat, your new socks, hell see my fresh scars and wait for the ‘likes’.  Some become so obsessed they contemplate suicide because they don’t have enough ‘likes’ or attract the trolls and who knew there were so many trolls.  Others climb tall buildings, stand on fast moving trains - anything for likes - and some get killed doing really stupid things such as standing in front of fast moving trains....

We live in a life where every moment is recorded and there’s no need to remember anything anymore because it’s all in the cloud.  (A word of warning, I have all my photos stored on a SyQuest drive that no longer works and even DVD’s are endangered – so what makes you think the Cloud will last forever?)

The selfie culture thrives off our need for popularity.  The whole tweet phenomenon is driven by narcism, as the tweet master Donald Trump so proves.  If he isn’t getting likes or a reaction he doubles down until he gets his fix.  Tantrums and tweets drive our politics these days.  (I’m not on Twitter and care not to tweet).  So selfies are all about self-validation.  ‘I post stuff on Snapchat therefore I exist.’ Same for every damn social media site.  Score ten thousand friends and suddenly you’re a commodity. Score a million and you can become a ‘brand influencer’ sponsored by all kinds of companies on Instagram.  Make-up, fashion, drug companies, food manufacturers.  You are the trendsetter because you eat gluten-free Twinkies and wear Mary Katrantzou prints and share every second of your life with the world.

Empty, shallow?  Who cares, you’re rich.  Well on your way to Philip Greenland and your first yacht.  Never heard of Natasha Oakley or Emily Skye?  Where have you been?  Did you realise Kendall Jenner or Cara Delevinge can change $300,000 per post according to the Independent.  Instagram is the gateway to wild riches.

Vloggers like Zoella is teamed up with Boohoo.  She is a brand collaborator with 6 million followers.  No intellectual effort here, just a pretty face and see what I’m wearing, eating, washing my hair with… and adds her brand to the kids novels clogging up the bedrooms of teen girls, sadly it seems to be exactly what kids want.  Children check their smart phones all night long to see how many likes they have.  It’s obsessive, compulsive and a whole generation will grow up entirely neurotic, sleepless and needy because of it.  But can we do anything about it?  I doubt it.  No one is going back to licking stamps and posting letters. There are of course downsides. Shallow, empty-headed YouTube stars are created such as PewDiePie with millions of followers - and he's in disgrace because of an anti-semitic joke. Without the checks and balances of a 'team' around you, you can go off the rails and quickly become toxic to the brands funding you. Joining that club is the alleged proto-facist Milo Yiannopoulos, former editor on Briebart News, (All the fake news you want to read) who is just learning about the word hubris. 'Daddy' doesn't love him anymore.

But perhaps the selfie culture is morphing into something more relevant. Teen Vogue leading the way with intelligent writing by young activists are at last waking up to the fact that they have to make people aware of the problems in society and how precious the 'truth' really is. Even if the thrust of the features are still - 'What everyone needs to know before their first hook-up' or 'The Real Reason you should be masterbating more.' Although they do run a fact check on Donald Trump's lies and list 27 Trump brands to boycott. Which is progress. Every little fact check helps.

Any chance of this situation changing? Nah. Wait, my dog is doing something cute ...

Books On another tack - recently I have been trying to get my students to enter their short stories to national competitions.  Some of their work is pretty darn good and seems a waste not to share it with a potentially wider readership.  It’s worth pointing out that not everyone enters these competitions.  Some writers are too shy, or lack confidence, or just never quite get around to it, but the odds of winning or getting shortlisted are way better than the lottery.  Getting exposure for your work is important, sure it is also about validation, as much as posting an image on Instagram, but at least there has been some genuine creative thought behind it.

We all are suckers for the reasoning: I’m here, I matter, I write, I exist.  But writing stories requires effort for the readers and it is so much easier to look at a photo of your cat or blog or vlog and whip up a ‘That totally sucks’ comment on the comment window. 

So who’d be a writer in this climate?  Why put yourself through that when all people want to know is where did you get those fabulous shoes?  Perhaps it's a compulsion, after all a writer is creative. One of the great frustrations for a writer is getting anyone to read your stuff. Some post their work on Wattpad and build up a relationship with fans, even publishers read the really popular postings. But who do you write it for really?  Primarily yourself.  It’s good to share and get feedback. Better yet, find recognition and get paid for writing. Actual money.  It’s tough, seemingly impossible, but it can be done (at least until Ai robots start writing short stories and the other robots start reading them.)
It may seem that in this viral social media age that the aspiration to be a writer is the hard choice, getting rich for looking good and sharing your vegan make-up tips is so now, but will also be so forgotten in time.  Netflix still needs content.  Even the BBC needs content, people still publish magazines, bookshops still exist, they will need a new generation of ‘content providers’ especially ones who can create interesting believable characters who leap off the page.  Have courage; there is still a niche to fill and who knows there might be a reward in the end.  You can always post a selfie of you with your new story….

Check out the March edition of the magazine - and share what you like. More postings soon.

© Sam Hawksmoor March 2017
author J&K 4Ever – a story about young love and devotion.
Be warned America in 2067 isn't a very friendly place. Print or kindle
Review: (A beautiful love story but also a terrifying glimpse of our future) DK

*As ever Hackwriters is supported by sales of our books - so do buy, print or kindle, we aren't picky.
**And thanks for those who do. The Heaviness, Another Place to Die: Endtime Chronicles are recommended.
The spy/romance Repercussions of Tomas D

J&K 4Ever - Love and Devotion in the Wastelands
Sixty years after the end of everything the city of Bluette survives, controlled by a malignant sect.  A place where men rule, girls receive no education and are matched at 16 to the highest bidder.  No one is ever permitted to leave the city and outside is a murderous wasteland of despair. Orphans Kruge and Jeyna have been devoted to each other through all the years of terror in this harsh regime and sworn never to be parted.  But the beautiful Jeyna has been betrayed by the Warden. Kruge has been swiftly banished to the Scraps, under the control of the Keeper. Jeyna is heartbroken; she will not accept her fate and escapes to find Kruge.  She is pursued by ruthless Enforcers on horseback, whose task it is to bring runaways back, dead or alive. 'A genuine romance in a bleak but plausible and terrifying setting'.
Marikka MARIKKA- exclusively on Amazon Print and kindle 2

Based on a tragic real life event, Marikka flees from an arson attack on her home to the sea, where she meets Starfish boy – a runaway working for Jackson, a scarred man hiding a sinister secret from the world. Meanwhile her real father searches for her with the aide of Anya, ‘the girl who can read objects’. More about the writing of this book

Long after my tears dried, my heart stayed with Marikka, Starfish Boy and the strange girl who reads objects.’ CT
You will smile, you will gasp with shock, and you will struggle to read the words through your tears. Gemma Williams - Amazon.co.uk 2015

By Sam Hawksmoor and Sam North
Could you live in a world where antibiotics no longer work?
Print & Kindle
Q&A interview with the authors here
A city gripped by fear as a lethal virus approaches from the East. No one knows how many are dying. People are petrified of being thrown into quarantine. Best friends Kira and Liz once parted are scared they will never see each other again. Teen lovers, Chris and Rachel, prepare to escape to the islands. Do you stay and hide, or do you flee?

Review from the First Edition:
'Beautiful, plausible, and sickeningly addictive, Another Place to Die will terrify you, thrill you, and make you petrified of anyone who comes near you...' Roxy Williams - Amazon.co.uk

Another Place To Die

Repercussions Spy/Romance thriller set during the Blitz in WW2 - Kindle download
All proceeds go to keeping Hackwriters going

The Repercussions of Tomas D
A Hero? Or Englands Greatest Traitor? USA Paperback here

'Disturbing and very poignant YA love story that presents a chilling alternate future for an England that lost the war.' Marcel d'Agneau
'A brilliant imagining of living in the Blitz, well researched.' Amazon UK
'This is Man in the High Castle for teens and scarily plausible with alternative facts '
*download the Kindle version or buy the paperback from Hammer & Tong
'The Heaviness' for any reader who likes to think about such things as betrayal, revenge, relationships and the laws of gravity.
An original Genie Magee story

The Heaviness published by Hammer and Tong
Genie & Renée have just 36 hours to save Rian or he dies

'Without a doubt, one of the best YA Sci Fi series out there.' Evie Seo Bookish
Kindle & print

Thanks to readers who have been buying this title this year. If you enjoyed it, please post a remark on Amazon or Goodreads. It all helps. * Just sold to Marti Y - The Turkish publishers of TOZ & Golge
The Heaviness of Genie Magee

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