Weekly Ramble #158

This journey can change from magic to tragic in the space of a week. The truth is, right now I’m a work in progress and I might always be.

Figuring out my own limits and how it runs parallel to my mental well-being is something many of us struggle with, that includes me. From the anxiety caused by a bad day to just the worrying and overthinking of life things, the mind of a creative can go to some wonderful places but it can also go to dark places too. But that’s okay, we’re only human and the tendency to spiral towards the shadows relies heavily on the day to day happenings in this world. Above everything, talking about his stuff is important.

Times are seemingly tough for many right now and they have been for a while – some stuff we just cannot control but we can limit our exposure to some things. I’m doing my best to take regular breaks from certain aspects of social media and I’m fortunate to have a support system out in the ‘real’ world of people I can call family and friends. In times of mental struggle, I’ll draw from their energy to pull me through and I’ll do anything to get through dark thoughts and times.

As a writer, creative and someone who is present on social media, I’m no stranger to them, but like many on here, together we are stronger than that darkness. Simply talking about it might be enough to cast some light into the depths.

Weekly Ramble #148

It can be tiring sometimes. With the constant social media presence and content creating, that is whilst also trying to survive a world that is seemingly getting darker and worse every day. That’s how it seems anyway. Not so long ago I revelled in the fact everything went quiet for those pandemic quarantine days, now things have come back to full capacity, they seem to have returned even busier and harder.

The anxiety seems to come frequently these days and is triggered by the sometimes inane things. From an unwanted letter in the mail to a bad interaction whilst driving. This world isn’t exactly forgiving right now. Then you’ve got the politicians making decisions that really don’t seem to make sense. It really is a weird time if you think about it deep. Times keep shifting for the worse it appears, just when things start to quieten down, it gets noisy again. The disruptions are probably the cause of that anxiety and maybe I do just need to stop for a while. Take my foot of the gas and just breathe.

This week I’m in need of a recharge and unwind. Perhaps I’ll dust off the games console and escape that way. It has been all work and no play recently and well you probably know what comes from that. Stay strong loyal followers.

Weekly Ramble #147

I’m gradually moving towards preparation for my 8th book release.

‘Darke Apocalypse’ should arrive in September or early October and represents the end of a series that has held my indie career together. Whilst my focus these days is more on content outside of books, I promised myself and the handful of readers who have read this series that I would release this one next.

The truth is, the content I now produce is a product of demand from my followers but sometimes when it comes to writing and creativity, I have to follow my own demand or wants. There is always work to be done when it comes to content, social media, blogging and everything else I do but to me, books are my home. That is also without mentioning the abundance of curveballs life seems to throw me at any given time, I guess that’s just life and it is always something I have found a way to manage. Time is precious and I have learned that spending it on myself is important, especially for my own mental health.

Although this book is the 5th in a series that not a lot of people have read, I am so damn proud of how much it has carried me and what it has given me in terms of learning experiences. To have a backlist of 8 books puts me in a wonderful position and so like I have said before, watch this space kind reader because I am sure you’ll be hearing much more quite soon!

It’s Okay to Talk About Mental Health

It’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to talk about mental health. We are human after all and life can be less than kind every so often, not to mention difficult. The modern world of social media and what’s happening outside our windows can take its toll, even on those who might appear strong. Here at the Hall of Information we stand with anyone who is suffering or feeling the affects from their own mental health. We also support anyone who wants to talk about it.

None of us are anything without our minds and to me its important to acknowledge that we can get down about even the most trivial of things. It’s important to acknowledge that depression, anxiety and the wider mental health struggles many of us face, do exist. I’ve suffered from anxiety in recent times, just from being busy and having a lot on my to-do list which is totally normal and okay. It has affected my sleep and my productivity but I’m doing better now. Triggers come in many different forms for everyone, from a bad day at work to an unexpected bill in the mail to even a bad interaction online.

To have a reaction to something that triggers our mental health is normal and valid. Only you know how you feel truly and if you are having a tough time, reach out if you can, reach out to me, reach out to someone, I’m always here for anyone feeling the grind and if you see someone who may be suffering, reach out to them too because it is so important that we talk about our mental health – our lives are so precious and what we all offer to this world is unique to ourselves.

There is only one you, remember that. Some day, what you give to this world could bring light to someone’s darkness.

The Story Behind The Ghost Beside Me

Two years have passed since my short paranormal romance ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ was published. Two years that have served as the most important of my writing career and this book represents that and so much more. Prior to the publication of ‘Ghost’ my 5th book, I had nearly walked away from publishing and writing all together, this creative journey can be arduous and many different things took their toll so this book represented a symbol of resilience and eventually the philosophy that I carry today- never giving up. Ever.

2019 was a year I spent repairing myself as a writer. Before then, I had gone hard into writing and publishing. Books One to Four were published in two years – the results by the end of that were minimal, social media is something I hadn’t fully figured out, being an indie author is a constant struggle that I had yet to discover too. I was in my late twenties and the previous decade was coming to fruition – I was also moving into my own place for the first time. Things were busy, stressful and something was going to snap and it did. I took most of my stress out on myself and this author path which was seeing near enough no results.

Good things do take time and I’ve learned that now, I am content with that now, but lessons for me are always learned slowly and the hard way. Expectation always plays a part in this journey and now its more realistic but back then it wasn’t so I suffered in my own mind for it. So how did I find myself? I went back to my writing routes. I went ‘dark’ on social media for a short time, I even put the laptop away and started to write down the ideas I had for a paranormal romance that would tribute to my own thoughts and feelings, an echo of me finding myself, finding resolve and a path forward. The concept of Edward Neville being an introvert by choice struggling to break that mould and wanting to socialize with others was a vessel mirroring my own struggles. There were also so many ‘real’ elements of me that went into the story, the concept of trying to fit in at a work place, the monotony of commuting and of course living alone.

Although I was hurting at the time I started ‘Ghost’ I seemingly produced a story that might be my best attempt at emotional depth and expression. For a 59 page book, you get every essence of my inner emotion through Edward Neville. The words poured onto the page and soon enough by early 2019 I had a fully handwritten draft. Then I put it away and did probably the most important thing I have done on this path. I began reading and reviewing indie books. My return to Twitter sparked it all to life when I put out a Tweet asking for indie books to review – the response was huge and showed me the potential this platform has, so I got to work. (This was late 2018, long before those tweets where people fish for engagement by asking for book recommendations).

While the reviews and social media stuff started building my profile, I was reading because I was trying to find myself and my love for stories. The wonderful thing is, it worked. This was just me by myself reading books but then the reviews started helping others and so it became inadvertently selfless. And by the time September of 2019 rolled around I was ready and then the perfect thing aligned. You see 2019 was the 13th anniversary of my Grandfather’s passing – a man who’s influence is still with me today. He told me a real ghost story back when I was a kid and that story became the inspiration for the ghost in this book and now I had a reason to publish it – to tribute him. 13 years later because we always had a thing for the superstition of Friday the 13th and I knew wherever he was, that would make him laugh.

I got to work transferring a handwritten story onto my laptop and organised the cover art. And this book would carry the weight of all the above; an emotional tribute, finding myself, self-repair and that important 5th book where they say things start to happen. And they did.

‘The Ghost Beside Me’ soon hit the highest number of reviews any of my books got on release – even now it is the quickest of my books to reach 30+ reviews. Sales were the best at the time and I’d made some level of writing redemption. Redemption in many walks of life is rare and so this book represented that. Expectation plays a huge role in authoring, especially at the self publishing level and so with this book my expectation was zero and that where it remains for every release. This journey and its success is governed by the beholder, you.

The truth is, and whilst finding myself I never gave up even though sometimes it can get dark, it can depressing and it is hard, there is always hope where there is life and creativity. Books are a truly wonderful thing and even now with all this modern tech, social media and other stuff, books still have a powerful mystique, their wonder to expand our minds has never changed. Their power to connect us and heal us when we most need it is something I will always cherish

And now, two years after publication, the majority of authors who I have connected with choose ‘Ghost’ because it has become a writers favourite. Something I hold dear to my heart for what it really represents. I guess writers can read between the emotional and symbolic lines, well, they did for this book and that means a lot to me. As a lower profile published author I never get much of a chance to talk about my work in this way and The Ghost Beside Me stands out as an experience like no other. It got me back into to writing, it proves that books can still be successful after publication and it paved the way to elevate me higher than I could ever imagine. My centre pillar of blogging comes from reviewing books, and their power is what put me back together.

There is great power in your stories authors, embrace it!

To those who have read and reviewed and supported this 59 page tribute to many things, thank you and thank you for reading.

Weekly Ramble #125

Even I run out of steam sometimes. For everything this busy social media author blogger machine can be, it can also be exhausting. This is especially so when life seemingly unfolds. From the bullshit of paying bills to a busy work environment, for what is supposed to be a hobby writing can be a surprisingly difficult ocean to stay afloat in.

I’ve come to realize you can only do what you can in life. Battles and hills worth dying on are everywhere so pick them well. Good things can take time and I have the highest respect for those who do keep going, even through hiatuses, mental health breaks, absences , rebrands and whatever you need to rejuvenate that engine of yours. That also includes life. We are always learning and as a story teller or writer, I may not be at a laptop all the time but in my mind I am writing. That can be enough sometimes.

The pandemic era stripped a majority of busy things away and while that provided an opportunity then, that stuff is creeping back in and so the balancing act is becoming a rebalancing act. Writing books in this busy world is hard, blogging is hard, tweeting is hard, finding time to do anything other than exist always has been hard. My go-to process has always been to stop if the enjoyment stops. Take breaks, pull away, think deep and go for a walk to process. Remember, we’re humans and even when we are amongst all this technology, our systems are organic.

This past weekend I hit a milestone. A personal goal that is also a personal pillar holding a majority of my wider dream up. Some stories take a lifetime to tell but the satisfaction of reaching the end, well that’s where the real journey begins.

Weekly Ramble #120

And so the notifications fall silent but the words I have laid down are seemingly just as loud in my absence. In the near week I have been away from Twitter the amount of followers I’ve gained has gone up by over 300. While silence is sometimes solace, I see enough of it while writing and I’ve concluded this journey is nothing without the company I have found across social media.

I did say previously I am on this journey because of the writing but now the social media connections, the personal connections I have made with so many like me are now a part of that. The good things I have found and created for myself outweigh the bad by a lot. This always has been an eye of the beholder type deal and I know social media can be a grind, for some, it can chew you up and spit you out, but only if you let it. With my following, we made Twitter a good place to be, a place to converse and sell our work to the world while we learned from one another. We found each other and together we are going to step forward day by day and continue what we started. I value it too much to just walk away. I value personal connections as much as my writing.

The world can be a bad place but it can also be a good place, but you have to be willing to let that positivity in and embrace it because soon enough the negative will emerge. I’ve been away only for a little while and I’ve found my happy thoughts, I’ve found my balance and I’ve concluded that I am all in from now on. I was burned out but you’ll be amazed what a few days of silence will do for the mind.

There always will be others who’ll try to be the opposite of me, folks I have no time for. It’s why Twitter invented the mute, unfollow and block buttons. Tools I’m gonna be using to protect myself, because I come first, my following does too and I’m too far down the track to let a few bad interactions stop me. The bad feelings they present me with weigh nowhere near as much as the good. As I said, balance and I’ve found mine.

Taking a Break from Twitter…

* This post is old *

I’m writing this post more as a statement than anything else and before I dive in I will firstly say that I am fine. This is not a publicity stunt, attention grab or an attempt to cause arguments or bad feelings. I thought I would lay out in length and hopefully clarify why I have decided to take a short break from Twitter; something I have been envisioning on and off for around three months because the truth is, I have been running hot on the platform since April 2020 and I am mentally tired.

By running hot I mean that in 16 months my efforts and time on the platform has increased by probably twentyfold at least while the rewards I got for it are very much apparent. Back in April 2020 I had around 4,000 Twitter followers. The last time I checked, I have around 13,500. This is partly testament to the effort I have put in to converse and connect with so many creatives, readers, friends and anyone else on a daily basis. These wonderful people buy my books regularly and read this here blog regularly and engage with me every day – most importantly they are probably the biggest reason for my social media success.

The personal connections are the main reason why I am already planning my return because simply walking away from so many wonderful people is not who I am. When I announced I was taking a break, so many good people wished me well, if you are one of them, thank you.  

This incredible journey I have been on has also contained the odd pitfall – anything worthwhile will always have challenges and to jump to the numbers I have now is something I have always been able to process. Twitter for the most part has become partly an addiction (a healthy one, mind) but only because I was getting good results and I was getting better at it – the statistics do not lie. The style that I developed over time works well to drive engagement and I figured out the psychology of the platform while making some awesome connections who have helped me big time on this path. To successfully sell anything on social media takes a lot of effort because the algorithms are so so against you pretty much all the time – this is a mental minefield on its own and statistics don’t always tell you what’s going on under the hood because after all I am a human of the regular persuasion.

The last 16 months were intensive for a number of reasons. In that time I released Book 6 and then Book 7 – with 7 becoming the most intense editing experience of my life – I had to get Consistent Creative Content right, and I did. I also began eyeing up the concept of reaching 10,000 followers right around the time ‘CCC’ was released after a lengthy pre-order run and so things were just happening all at once. This is also without taking note of what was going on in the outside pandemic world. Part of my reason for upping my author social media game was because the pandemic gave me time to do so. I used the time I was given to thrive on social media.

When I did reach 10,000 follows, a huge amount of self-pressure lifted. I had made it into a club that as an indie author who started from zero is rare. Most of my followers are folks just like me and my appeal is probably because I am still one of them and what I can achieve is possible for them too, it really is and I am public about that, not to mention open and honest. Together we made my Twitter a good place to be everyday. But under the hood things were kind of struggling for me and that 10k milestone paved over some cracks but I continued forth. My book had just been released and there is always work to be done but I always knew the chase on social media is endless and Twitter moves quickly, very quickly.

I can count on one hand the amount of bad experiences I’ve had on Twitter. I know what stirs pleasant conversation so I tend to not have many bad moments. I don’t go looking for them and at the very core of my belief is to post something that informs, inspires or entertains without any malice. You might even see my attempt at humour but very much in an inclusive light dad-joke style. If you are kind and pleasant no matter what flag you fly or where you are from, you are welcome on here and even in my own home – that will always be who I am. I do my best to bring that attitude onto Twitter and you might have seen me talk about the power of positivity, it tends to win the day most of the time.

Before I figured out the psychology of my following or even built it I always knew that Twitter was and still is a very public place where anyone can comment or find you anonymously. I’ve even described it personally as a ‘cesspit’ before and for nearly 16 months, to me it wasn’t because I had made it pleasant for me and my followers helped with that. Perhaps I was a little naïve and perhaps I haven’t adjusted my style too much over the last 16 months which might have left me vulnerable in my own head because there are types out there who have the opposite attitude to me and three separate incidents occurred in quick sucession that ultimately drove me to walk away from Twitter temporarily – and that is with the last 16 months piled on top. I say temporarily because most of the time I tend to get pissed off with something, then I process and then I dive back in quickly. And my followers mean too much to me right now to permanently walk away.

This post is me processing because I know there will always be trolls or less desirable folks who in my opinion probably need help but instead they’ll try to drag people like me into their bullshit or their problems. This is not just me being some privileged guy having a whine because someone randomer said something I didn’t like. I’m not easily offended and I am big enough to handle 10,000 people downloading my book in day and then dealing with the influx of low ratings after. I also know there are a lot worse things happening in the world but to me, my mental health will always come first so I have to process this on my home turf and like I said at the start I am fine but this is me intervening to keep my very stable mental health just that. .

These three incidents that occurred were unprovoked because like I said, my tweets have zero malice. I am on Twitter to connect and learn with others and find a readership for my books. I’m an author first and foremost, not a social media personality, I got into writing before social media existed and ultimately it’s a resultant of that. I had been eyeing up a break from the platform since May but these incidents were probably the motivating factor to tell me it is just Twitter and I don’t need it right now.

And for anyone ever struggling with Twitter, remember that sometimes it is just Twitter. You come first.

So what happened and who did what? The specific details of who aren’t important and it wasn’t you that pushed me to take a break. In fact the three incidents were from non-followers which might have been why I reacted the way I have. I won’t give you specifics but I will tell you now from when I return to Twitter, my style will now be adjusted to one of a larger following. I was once a small business operating like a small business, but now I have grown, my approach will change it. I’m going to act like a bigger business and I have to be shrewd to protect me. This will include 3 rules that are for me to follow in order to protect myself and my mental health while using the platform.

  1. If someone attempts to correct me in any way, including my spelling they are gone. (blocked, gone sounds more dramatic);
  2. If someone attempts to make a funny comment that is actually a back handed insult or I cannot grasp their tone in that comment, they are gone;
  3. If someone attempts to spin what I say, gone.

I know as an author and blogger I sit in a very glass house and I’m not attempting to control anyone or silence anyone because this approach is to protect me and life is too short for me to be effected by people who don’t know how to converse properly on a platform designed for conversation. By glass house I mean anyone can hop on over to where my books are listed and drop a low rating – this is part of the reason why I am the way I am on social media and these three rules ultimately depend on how well someone knows me and how we interact. The majority of my wonderful following could do all three of these and as long as they are honest and decent, I probably won’t even bat an eyelid or we might even laugh about it. I am also going to look into privacy settings but approving every single follower will be a lot of time. My current daily follow rate was north of 50 a day and 90 on weekends. It is still moving up now and this is after a whole day of me not tweeting a single thing.

Personally, these rules are basic conversation etiquette and for a lack of it to come from non-followers really surprised me or maybe it just proved I have become naïve to trolls or maybe this even the sign of true prominence. I know this world is full of bad people and I am wise to that but maybe now because of my following I am a target. I also know that I cannot control others but I can shield myself from them. My larger following is an opportunity to some folk who dwell under bridges it seems and like I said, I don’t tweet about anything that deserves this behaviour. One account literally followed me minutes before backhandedly insulting me on a tweet I composed as a light-hearted humour attempt, that account then disappeared after I reported it for abuse.

Number 3 in particular is something that surprised me also but it happened twice in a week. Trying to spin my non-malicious words into something malicious will earn you a block. I am not a politician or a billionaire so stop trying to spin what I say like a cheap journalist. If someone is that insecure about what I say, then the problem is with them not me. Yes, Twitter is a public highway with freedom of speech which I fully support, and you could just tell me to grow up here but I will counter with just two words that define what all humans should be able to do:

Be Kind.

There is a human behind that handle and following. Above all, I have spent a lot of time on the platform and I can see through words, very well.

I take my online author endeavours seriously and authoring will be my primary career one day. Above all, I am adjusting my style to protect my mental health which has dipped partly because I ran hard for so long and partly because unpleasant people do not deserve me. Now I’m having a week away and very much enjoying being a writer. My mind and imagination is my greatest asset and I will do anything to protect it. Right now I am deep into editing the book I began this writing journey with back when I was 12, its way more important than a few random trolls trying to get a reaction. The writing matters, it always will.

In 16 months I gave everything to putting together a loyal engaged following on Twitter.

All of you who do follow me are worth that everything.

You can expect to see me return to Twitter late next week to do battle with the algorithms and be with the people who made this journey worthwhile. Thank you for reading.

‘From Voiceless to Vocal’ by Danielle Larsen – Review

Candid, brave and ultimately inspirational…

While many of the subjects in this memoir aren’t easy to talk about, Danielle Larsen delivers her story flawlessly and highlights the moments and events of a journey that makes for a gripping read. In this day and age the subject of mental health needs to be talked about more and this book does that. Being wrongly diagnosed at a young age ultimately paves the way for Larsen’s struggles while the main bulk of the story focuses on her being in a relationship with an abusive controlling partner. For much of the time it’s frustrating to see the abuse that unfolds – why can’t she just leave? Unfortunately it’s a little more complex than that and part of the journey is understanding that it’s hard to leave sometimes and breaking those shackles is difficult when the circumstances of gaslighting and emotional abuse are present.

“Normal does not have to mean good or comfortable, but simply what one gets used to…”

This book acts as guide in some senses to spread awareness while also informing others. The narration style feels natural and relays every moment with dignity and there are some moments when you cannot help but feel for a person who has been through so much – a lot of it wasn’t even her fault and you just want her to succeed in the end. There are even some brighter moments later on which highlight finding inspiration from musical theatre and how we all need to find something for emotional release. For Danielle Larson to share a memoir like this it’s incredibly brave and ultimately inspirational because the message is no matter how many chips are down you can always come back, there’s always hope and survival is probably the greatest gift we have.

5 Stars – A gripping and touching well-written read that bravely shares so much. Reviews left via Amazon and Goodreads.

Weekly Ramble #78

The truth is, even though I’ve written recently about reverting to zero, that whole deal has summoned some wonderful people. It’s actually been very touching to hear from so many who approached me after that post, which started out as just a vent about the lamenting struggle it is to be noticed in this world as an author. We all have those moments that get us down. The whole taking a wider look around and realising this might be not as great as first perceived. 

I suppose we are all a work in progress. And even though since that reverting to zero post, my sales have been one more than zero, I’ve realised I have something worth way more than that – the support of some decent people from all over this rock which now seems a little smaller. That support is way more valuable than anything else on this journey, trust me, it means so damn much to have people swoop in and offer their words and kindness – you know who you are and for what it’s worth, you’ve improved my stance and mental health on the subject.

I’m fine, and I will be fine. This whole process of writing books is a build me up and tear me down type of deal – that may sound deep but it is. I pour absolutely everything into my writing, every essence of me are in those words, every emotion I have will go into creating something from that number, zero. Even though all of us who create have aspirations of what that work will do, it’s what you don’t expect to happen that gives out the true pleasure and satisfaction.

I will take the support of those who have supported me and do support me over anything else. They have offered me something I never thought I would find, let alone look for.

Being genuine in this world is probably the best thing you can give someone. Thank you – from a writer who isn’t afraid to go forward because of that.