Survive

I’m stronger than the storm,

Survival for me is simply the norm.

No matter what life throws,

Or how dark this path grows.

My passion is sometimes all I can give,

But in the end, that’s how I live.

Even when those odds take a dive,

You’ll always find me being able to survive.

Twenty Years on and the Dream Remains Strong

It can take a lifetime to put together and finally complete a story. But to me, the journey, the work and the dream is worth that time.

Some of you know my journey started back in the early 2000’s on a rainy Sunday in front of a windows 98 computer. I was twelve years old and the dreamer in me then is still the same only now I have a completed manuscript for that first story I began then. A story about robots in the future that would stretch generations of characters and time, that world known as the ‘Future’ full of lore that has grown with me and now that book is 130,000 words strong and 500 pages of writing destiny. This legacy story was and always is the plan and the truth is, I was only ready to complete it now because I love it so much, I held this story so dear and I care for it so much that I wanted to be the very best I can be to tell it. This story has always deserved the best and even though I am always learning and honing this craft, there’s a bunch of road behind me full of experience, books, readers and life. Now I stand in a position I have never been. A completed story that is my destiny facing the journey of what could be next.

Anyone can call hindsight here but this has always been my plan. To spend my years learning and honing. Convincing myself and others I can do this and I can do it well enough to inspire, inform and entertain others. The 900 plus followers on here and the 16,000 plus Twitter followers will tell you everything you need to know about that. The connections, oh the wonderful connections that have secured me a fantastic exciting future, all because I started writing on that rainy day.

I have carved this path for that book, for that story I love so dear and because it matters to me, a story about robots in the future that is really a ballad for humanity. Yes there is action, fighting, gadgets, lore and so much more but there is also that message about finding your own destiny, finding others to help you and seeking out the truth in life. Fighting for what you believe in stands at the very core of this book and this is also my own belief. The first original attempt at this book contains all of that but that was just the seeds being dropped into plain earth and now we stand in a garden blossoming with life and all of it driven by love. Those plants of destiny reaching high towards the stars.

So what is the message here and what is the real point to this? I hope you grasp the fact that your story, no matter how long it takes to find and bring to the world matters. It really matters and it is okay to love those characters, their struggles and their journey. For so many years this book of mine has kept me going knowing I have it as an ace up my sleeve and it is ready to throw onto the table. But its also more than that because they give me an escape to in life, when life does come crashing down around you, we as writers do have somewhere to go and I’ve always had this hand of cards but I have the knowhow to use it now. I loved this story so much that I used it as fuel to improve everything I am as an author and blogger. Words and writing are still the most romantic way anyone can communicate in this world and they will always be around in some fashion so maybe I am just an old fashioned romantic who has a love for stories. But that love is powerful, and that love is purpose. Let those stories of yours guide you, they have guided me since I was very young.

Weekly Ramble #122

As a social media creative who regularly gets views and sales from various endeavours, I have concluded in order to get them consistently over time you need to stand out. Most marketing advice online is either out of date or easier said than done and standing out to me is to simply go against the grain of what everyone else is doing and hope it gets noticed. While that may seem easier said than done, and it is, only you can figure out what works for your brand or persona online but passion above all, resonates with near enough everyone.

Social media seems to contain this giant echo of everyone copying one another to the point where most folks just blend into the bandwidth. The passion in all of this is distinctly lacking. Understandably, it can be easy to get caught up or even daunted by this vacuum of repetition but where is the creativity? Buy this or subscribe to that. Everyone seems to be mining for numbers and sales with no real end game when really all you need to seek on social media is enrichment through conversation. That alone will drive visibility, engagement and eventually trust. Trust that you are more than a miner trying to score more points in an endless game that you can’t take anywhere useful. Gain the trust of someone and they’ll invest in you. And this is something that cannot be fabricated. Top that off with a little human passion and things will start to move.

This revelation came to me after I spent way more time than I probably should have on social media, scrolling, watching and talking – maybe it wasn’t in vain after all because for that time I gained the rewards from a high following to regular sales and now a belief this may some day be a career. That is without mentioning the true value of friendships through those things because I found others who share my vision. All I did was spend time conversing and less time trying to sell things and now people have become my power.

It would appear many creatives loathe the thought of marketing, but me, I actually quite enjoy the challenge and results which are always an opportunity to learn and pass information on. All driven by the desire to go against the grain and try something new fuelled by people who believe in me. Those days of reverting to zero are few and far between for me now, long may it continue.

The Tweet Machine Basics for Authors and Bloggers

The world of social media is the glue that holds all of my authoring and blogging efforts together. In particular, Twitter is a weird and wonderful vessel that sails the seas of social media and can be used as a valuable tool in both marketing and finding your own crowd. Everything I’ve learned from the Tweet machine can both be applied to all writers and bloggers who make up the wider writing community.

To begin with, my advice for any prospective writer or blogger is to get yourself a Twitter account. The potential reach you can achieve doesn’t compare to anywhere else, so if you aren’t on Twitter you will most probably struggle to reach potential readers.

You’re going to need a handle (username). This can be creative or simple. Both work fine and yet again another important attribute outside of the trio looms.

To give yourself the best possible chance at Twitter success you need to be honest, friendly and decent. Why, you say? Because that’s how I got several thousand followers in just a few years, so you need:

A real profile picture of yourself;

A friendly bio that describes who you are, what you do. The more inviting, fun and friendly the better;

A pinned Tweet – a tweet you can put at the top of your profile that relays what you currently have available/currently writing, what’s coming soon or even a link to your book or blog;

To engage with others by commenting, offering help and advice, being friendly, supportive and decent;

To be honest. Trust me most twitter types are drawn it.

This also includes a following strategy that consists of:

Following those who follow you;

Unfollowing those who no longer follow you;

Following those who interest you.

Now you might be asking what exactly do I tweet about? My mantra is to tweet about anything as long as it informs, inspires, entertains or provides some level of value – this will normally lead to some engagement but if not it’s probably due to lack of visibility because of a low follower count. I will typically add at least one hashtag to that tweet also.

Popular hashtags for authors and bloggers include: #author #writer #blogger #writingcommunity #amwriting #amreading.

Twitter is a wonderful arena full of folks just like you, and together the voice of authors and bloggers is louder trust me.

For absolute beginners it might feel like nobody is listening or seeing your posts. This is only reflective of your current following. At the very beginning tweet less and spend more time commenting on the tweets of others. Explore hashtags and search for folks who you have a common interest with.

Twitter takes some time and effort to work out and has a very specific psychology to master. As long as you are approachable and lightly social, you’ll be okay but remember, it takes time and above all, good conversation between you and others. Before you experience any type of external success (book sales/blog views) your audience will need to feel like they can trust you. This can only be achieved long term and through genuine interactions. I call this the ‘Algorithm of Trust’.

This post is an exclusive excerpt of self help book ‘Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age’ which is available now.

American Blasphemer by By John Gillen – Reedsy Discovery Review

A masterful labour of modern honesty, told through the lens of a lonesome soul trying to figure out this world and life… 

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John Gillen has put together a series of life encounters; his own bible you could say or even a modern companion to it. Of course that could be classed as blasphemy through the eyes of some but the many references to God and religion is but a metaphoric vessel used to tell these candid stories. That being said, through all the events that take place its also about his relationship with religion and not once did I find it preachy or overbearing in that sense.

From the title you can probably guess it’s going to take readers to places of a sordid nature and it does, but that’s not for the sake of just telling a story or for the shock factor, its for a deeper meaning that each reader might grasp differently – only a true artist can achieve that. Past the drug taking, the sex and the chaos in these accounts you’ll find the real meaning behind it all and an honesty, a pure and raw poetic honesty. This is a modern reflection of America that highlights violence and a historic thirst for war, it doesn’t sugar coat anything and even touches themes that are happening right now in the world.

I found myself unable to look away right from a beginning that introduces John among a dysfunctional family, he knows them well although he isn’t like them, he isn’t like a lot of people. The many stories might even represent an ‘anti bible’ because like that text they include similar themes such as charity but with a hope of self gain and even a captivating encounter with temptation and bargaining that leads to something much more sinister.

For everything that is laid out on the surface, the trials, the tribulations and the misadventures all of which could be even be classed as ‘total cinema’, it’s what you’ll find underneath that makes this book well worth taking the time to read.

4 Stars – Here’s the link to my Review which premiered on Reedsy Discovery , thank you to them for providing a copy in exchange for this review. This may be one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. You need to check this one out trust me!