I really appreciate the small, simple things in life that let me know I’m appreciated: a smile, a hug, an encouraging text message or a silly SnapChat. It changes my day knowing that someone cares enough about me to share those things with me.
I was reminded again by Karen Nimmo’s blog post on Nerdome how important that is. In this world where some people will sell you just as quickly as looking at you, or push you under the bus if it means they’ll achieve their goals faster, there are some people who have no positive interactions with other people all day.
My smile might be the only one they see. My words of encouragement might be the only ones they hear. My random act of kindness might be the only light in a dark day.
Because I know what dark days are like, I understand the privilege — and the responsibility — of being able to change that for someone else.
It doesn’t have to cost anything at all. It isn’t an obligation.
It does require us to take our focus off ourselves for a few seconds and give something intangible, yet priceless, to another person.
I hope that my words here, and those of Karen Nimmo, encourage you to seek to make a difference in someone else’s day today. You never know – you might just make your own at the same time.
hink of the last time someone did something nice for you.
Not something big; just a small act of kindness — bought you a coffee or a treat, did a household chore for you before you’ve asked, asked how your weekend was (and genuinely listened to the answer).
Recall for a minute how that made you feel. Good, right? It’s not so much the act that creates the warmth; it’s that they were thinking of you, that they found the time and means to appreciate you, to ease your load or make you smile.
The world can be a dog-eat-dog place; often, we find ourselves competing to get what we want and need. But trampling over others for our own agendas doesn’t make us feel good. Quite the opposite, actually.
One of the best ways to boost happiness is to do something for someone else. Their…
Snapchat has been the subject of much controversy in the past – mostly from people who have never used it. I know a lot of people have been vocal in their criticism of the ease with which teens could use it to send pictures of their naughty bits to one another. To be honest, they haven’t ever needed SnapChat to do that. And, in a further moment of not-so-surprising honesty, I’ve never used Snapchat for that either.
It’s like anything: you can use it sensibly, and be careful who you add to your contacts, or you can be an idiot and endanger any bit of credibility you ever had. Snapchat is definitely not alone in that regard.
Contrary to all the negative press it has had, Snapchat is actually pretty cool.
The process is simple:
Take a snap, choose who you want to send it to, and send it.
If you want everyone to be able to see it, you add it to your “story”.
If you don’t, people will only see your snap if you actually send it to them individually.
You can choose how long you want the photo or video to last. Once the time you set expires, it’s gone.
It’s important to remember that people can take a screenshot, and people can be offended, so common sense and decency are still required.
I have great fun using Snapchat for quick, easy contact with my family and friends. It’s also a great way to quickly and easily share a moment in your day in ways that are hard to otherwise express.
In that respect. It’s super duper effective.
It’s actually great for introverts because we can communicate meaningfully without actually having to make, or answer, a phone call. I have found that if you send enough Snapchats, they know you’re okay and what you’re doing, and don’t actually try to call anywhere near as often. That may sound awful, but if you ask any introvert you know, they’ll tell you it’s a fact of life: talking on the phone for any length of time is hard, especially if you’re tired or unwell.
I also use it to share my comedic genius with the world. You’ve got to take your opportunities where you can get them, after all.
My absolute favourite use of Snapchat, though, is when my family use it to send me baby spam. I’m one of those aunties who can never get enough pics of my babies so Snapchat offers a great way for them to send me pictures without all the cranky “we don’t want baby spam” whiners on Facebook and Instagram getting their noses out of joint. Snapchat makes it easy to be a lot more direct and “one on one” with your pictures.
You don’t even have to take a photo every time. You can just use the instant message function if that’s all you want to do. But then… why wouldn’t you take a photo every time when you’ve got those filters to play with?
Seriously, the Snapchat filters are fantastic. One minute I’m a washed out, permanently exhausted 50-something English teacher, and the next, I’m a cat… or an emu… or a pirate… or whatever the filters of the day offer. Sometimes, I have instant makeup and smoother, younger skin. Sometimes I can add a piercing or a tattoo. Finding out what the filters are each day is as much fun as using them.
Its easy to edit a picture using the menu at the top right of whatever picture you take This allows you to:
add text, labels, and/or stickers
crop your photo
doodle or write on your picture
attach a URL or website to your image
cut out part of your picture to create a sticker
You can also easily save any picture you like to your phone’s camera roll, using the little down arrow icon at the bottom left of the image.
There isn’t really a lot that annoys me about Snapchat, but I probably should mention:
The silly, click-bait stuff they post on the “discover” page. Ugh. Once I’ve looked at my friends’ stories, I swipe away from the page.
On specific dates – Christmas, New Year, that kind of thing – the ’Snapchat Team’ send pictures or videos that you have to watch to get rid of them. Some of them are clever. Others… not so much.
Occasionally, there will be a filter that makes me look uncannily like my brother. I’m really not so keen on those, but it is kind of fun freaking out his daughters and our sisters with the pictures. And no… I’m not going to show you what I mean!
For me, the frustrations are very minor compared to the fun I have with the app. It’s a keeper.
There’s no doubt about it: Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms on the planet.
Like anything, it can be fantastic if it’s used the right way, and it can downright dangerous if used for sinister purposes.
There are some aspects of Facebook I really enjoy:
Being able to connect with my family and friends all over the world in real time. What a blessing! When I’m homesick for someone I love – there they are! When I’m lonely – my friends are right there! I can see their pictures and videos, and respond to them right away. I can chat with them, talk with them, and send them stupid memes to cheer them up when they are down or unwell.
Being able to connect with like-minded people all over the world. As part of the Indie author community, I have received so much help, encouragement, knowledge, advice and good direction from people in Facebook groups.
It has also been a very great pleasure for me to be able to pass some of that knowledge and advice on to others, and to encourage them in their journeys.
Similarly, I’ve made some wonderful lifelong friends in a particular grammar-nerd group, and have met two of them on one of my trips overseas. I can’t imagine not knowing them or being able to talk with them.
Being able to find things I’m interested in via the pages people create. I’ve discovered some wonderful blogs to follow, some great information on specific topics, and I can’t tell you how many excellent Indie books I’ve found to read. That number has to be in the hundreds.
Being able to permanently hide things from my timeline that I don’t want to see. This is generally anything racist, hateful, or politically zealous.
Being able to permanently hide things from my timeline that I don’t want to see. This is generally anything racist, hateful, or politically zealous.
Memes, jokes, and videos that make me laugh. Some of that stuff is pure gold.
The block function. It’s really good.
Of course, with the good comes the not-so-good.
There are things I really hate about Facebook.
The fact that they don’t show me everything my friends post. If my friends think it’s worth posting, I probably want to see it. But no… Facebook gets all choosy about showing me their posts, and when showing mine to them.
Of course, they’ll tell you that boosting your post will get it shown to your friends. For $13, your post can reach… er, how about no? I’m not giving them money to show my posts to my own friends. They should do that for nothing.
That dratted algorithm. It seems any moron can make a stupid post that will go viral because people “like” and respond to it, but you can’t post a link for a product, or a blog post, or an event, or a website outside of Facebook without them suppressing it so that maybe 3% of the people who follow you or your page will actually see it.
And every time you get clever about how to communicate your product/event/website to your audience, they change the algorithm so you are actually no further ahead, yet again.
I know: it’s a business. But if they showed my stuff to the people I know, I’d probably be more interested in giving them a bit of cash to show it to folks I don’t know.
The perceived freedom some people feel they have to deride, belittle, criticise, mock and bully others. In a not-so-surprising coincidence, this correlates very closely with one of the things I hate most about people in general. Just because they’re hiding behind a profile picture or an avatar, they think they can say what they want to and have no consequences.
Not in my world, Julie. Block, block, block. Fixed.
The verdict: As much as I hate it, I love it. I’m definitely keeping it.
But if I ever meet that algorithm in person… it may just walk away with a black eye.
Originally posted on Red Cape Publishing: February is Women in Horror Month, and this is why we bring to you a fantastic selection of books from female authors, in a variety of sub-genres. Have a browse, pick up a few new books, and maybe even discover your new favourite author. Starblood by Carmilla Voiez Star…
February is Women in Horror Month, and this is why we bring to you a fantastic selection of books from female authors, in a variety of sub-genres. Have a browse, pick up a few new books, and maybe even discover your new favourite author.
Starblood by Carmilla Voiez
Star craves freedom, but her lover, Satori, refuses to let her go. He casts a spell to make her love him again, opening a gateway through which Lilith, mother of demons, enters their lives.
Lilith serves no man. Instead she seduces Star, assuring her that there is no shame in love, only completion. Thus begins a strange and terrible love triangle that leads them to Scotland and the Cairngorm mountains. Purchase here
In honour of Women in Horror Month 2019, this post is dedicated to twelve amazingly talented Indie writers of horror and dark fiction.
If you enjoy reading horror and other genres which often blend with it such as dark fantasy, urban fantasy and dark romance, these are the authors you should follow and read.
Each of them will be featured individually on this blog in the coming weeks, but by introducing them all now, you can be following them on social media and becoming familiar with them even before their individual profiles hit the page.
Lily Lamb aka A. Drew is a Turkish Australian multi-genre indie author. She works as a nurse by day where she feeds her soul by caring for others. At night she tends to her imaginative alter-ego by writing tales involving love, passion, mystery, and horror.
Faith Marlow is a dark fantasy/ paranormal/ horror author with Vamptasy Publishing, an imprint of CHBB. Her stories stir emotions and explore the thin veil between human and the inhuman. Dark, yet inviting and familiar, Faith seeks to deliver chills with a sense of class, and sometimes a bit of heat. With each story, she hopes to build exposure for fellow women authors and artists who create horror.
Baileigh Higgins, author of the bestselling Zombie Apocalypse Series, Dangerous Days, lives in the Free State, South Africa, with hubby and best friend Brendan and loves nothing more than lazing on the couch with pizza and a bad horror movie. Her unhealthy obsession with the end of the world has led to numerous books on the subject and a secret bunker only she knows the location of.
A.Giacomi is the author of the wildly entertaining Zombie Girl Saga, a four-part series from CHBB Publishing. She is a wife and mother two tiny humans. She is a Canadian born writer, educator, and artist. A. Giacomi is a zombie enthusiast, lover of all things Tim Burton, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Marvel, Star Wars and just generally just loves film and literature, essentially she’s a fangirl.
Fiona Cooke is a writer, editor, poet and blogger living in the Midlands of Ireland. She has four books published on Amazon – The Lights Went Out and Other Stories; a collection of unusual fiction in a mix of genres, What Happened in Dingle; a romantic comedy novella and two collections of gothic horror- Death Comes Calling and The Nightmare. A Tolkien obsessive, she lives for music festivals and all things horror related. She hopes to publish her latest horror novella – Death Dues in the near future.
S. K. Gregory writes horror, urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels. When she isn’t writing, she works as an editor and promoter for Indie authors. She resides in Northern Ireland and has been writing since she was a child.
Lou Yardley is an Office Gremlin by day and an author by night: it’s the best time, really, as it’s when all the monsters come out to play. ‘The Other’s Voice’ (2016) was her first novel. 2018 saw her publish a delightfully gory werewolf tale called “Hellhound”, as well as a short stories “When the Sun Sets” and “The Forest”. She currently lives with her partner Mark, and their eight cats in Greater London. When she’s not performing spreadsheet alchemy in her day job, Lou likes playing the banjo, reading, listening to the kind of metal where the vocalists growl at you, and watching B-movies.
Suzi Albracht lives near Annapolis, Maryland in a town called Bowie with her boyfriend, Tim. She is the author of Supernatural Horror Crime Thriller books in The Devil’s Due Collection and a Paranormal Romance/Ghost series – An OBX Haunting – that takes place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
D.J. Doyle was raised by pot-smoking hippies and spent her days worshipping pagan deities in the HellFire Club and her nights watching horror movies and reading horror books. She now lives with her family in a treehouse, preying on unsuspecting travellers, and where she likes nothing better than coming up with ideas for new stories and plotting her next novel. Some of this might have been made up.
Joanne Van Leerdam has lived all her life in Australia, she has, thus, far, avoided being killed or consumed by any of the deadly wildlife, which is probably a good thing. Other than Australia, Canada is her favourite place in the world. In addition to writing powerful, thought-provoking poetry and short-but-incredibly horrifying stories, she keeps teens enthralled in her senior high school English, History and Drama/Performance classes. She is an active member and performer in her local theatre company and has directed high school musicals for ten years. Her poetry is contemporary, sensual, moody and easy to read – and it will get you in the feelings. Her horror fiction is deliciously creepy and macabre, and deeply satisfying.
Lily Luchesi is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of the Paranormal Detectives Series, published by Vamptasy Publishing. She also has short stories included in multiple bestselling anthologies, and a successful dark erotica retelling of Dracula.Her Coven Series has successfully topped Amazon’s Hot New Releases list consecutively.She is also the editor, curator and contributing author of Vamptasy Publishing’s Damsels of Distress anthology, which celebrates strong female characters in horror and paranormal fiction. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, and now resides in Los Angeles, California. Ever since she was a toddler her mother noticed her tendency for being interested in all things “dark”. At two she became infatuated with vampires and ghosts, and that infatuation turned into a lifestyle. She is also an out member of the LGBT+ community. When she’s not writing, she’s going to rock concerts, getting tattooed, watching the CW, or reading manga. And drinking copious amounts of coffee.
I stumbled across this article thanks to a friend sharing it earlier today.
The advice offered is helpful for new and old bloggers alike, especially given the dynamic world in which we live and blog. Things are changing all the time, so any constructive advice is a great thing!
A couple of friends on Facebook tagged me in this challenge last night:
For those authors out there, list 10 other authors/individuals who’ve made an impression on you or who have helped influence your writing in some manner.
This is the sort of tag challenge I enjoy, because it gives me an opportunity to acknowledge some of the influences who have helped me to become the writer that I am today.
I’m a total bookworm, and I know I’ve read many, many magnificent books in my time. They’ve all contributed to my imagination, my understanding of the world, and the wellspring of ideas that flow through my brain and into my words.
The ten I’ve listed here are authors whose work I have consciously aspired to honour in my own writing, either stylistically or in the themes and ideas I regularly explore.
None of the names on this list will surprise anyone who knows me. Those who have read my work probably won’t be too surprised either – not because I have copied them, but because of the “trace evidence” in various poems or stories I have written.
This list is presented in no particular order, because I couldn’t possibly rank them. I wouldn’t even know where to start.
I’m the first to admit that I’m fussy about the poetry I read. I want to experience something moving and powerful in a unique style. I want imagery, colour and movement. I want depth, and I want to be able to feel and hear the poet’s soul. It may be considered “old-school” by some, but I still want to find the music of rhythm and rhyme among the various techniques that a poet uses to deliver their ideas.
So, when I tell you that these are the poets you should be reading, please understand that this is not just a nod to people I like or who have pretty book covers. These people don’t just write poetry— they are poets, and they take their craft seriously. These poets can really take a reader beyond themselves, open a reader’s mind, and influence them so that they see things in a completely new way.
These Six 21st Century Poets You Should Be Reading are not listed in any order of preference. If you want to explore their work further, simply click on the cover of each book.
Author of ‘Sediments’.
Shanti’s poetry is rich and sensory, full of imagery that draws the reader into the emotion and wellsprings of the poet’s mind.
Drawing on mythological themes and elements of Biblical allegory, although it is by no means religious poetry, Shanti explores her place in time, relationships, and the universe through themes of belonging, human vulnerability, equality, and home. She is a master of contrast and balance, weighing sensitivity against images of those things that overwhelm, and confidence in belonging despite her humility, framed within a very real sense of awareness of the immeasurable breadth and depth of the universe.
Patrick Williams Author of ‘Lethal As Love’.
Patrick Williams’ poems are beautiful in the simplicity and honesty of the feelings they convey, even though the feelings they communicate are at times complex and conflicted. There is no pretence or affectation in Williams’ writing, nor is there any strict observance of rhythm, rhyme or other particular poetic techniques. Instead, he uses language and form to evoke a strong sense of love and longing that is almost tangible as he leads the reader on a journey through the highs and lows of the love he so powerfully communicates in these poems.
Some of this poetry is quite erotic, so it’s definitely only for an adult audience, but there’s nothing gratuitous or tawdry about it. One could learn quite a lot about how to love deeply and sensuously from reading ‘Lethal as Love’, but there is also a more sombre lesson to be heeded: nothing lasts forever. It is clear from ‘Lethal as Love’, though, that the pleasure and passion were definitely worth the pain.
Sarah Northwood Author of ‘The Truths We Tell’.
Sarah Northwood gives voice to thoughts and feelings commonly experienced, but often not so thoughtfully expressed, by people in all walks of life.
Northwood explores the ways in which we respond to the situations and feelings that challenge us and those things that fill and complete us. The reality of being haunted by regret and the “what ifs” of life is contrasted with the whimsy of fleeting happiness and the irresistible, transforming power of love.
Through all of this is the reminder that life is what it is: “Feeling the breeze on her cheek she knew, the wind can never be the sun.” (Unique)
Joseph Ferguson Author of ‘Reflections of a Scurvy Bastard’
Ferguson writes with a very strong sense of realism and a degree of world-weariness in his profound poems that work like snapshots of different events and memories. He has a gift for creating vivid images that transport the reader to another time and place, and making it seem absolutely real.
When Joseph Ferguson’s poetry is recognised as ‘classic’ and he is regaled world-wide as a master poet, it shall come as no surprise to me.
Shelby Leigh Author of ‘It Starts Like This’
Leigh’s poetry is thoughtful and often intense in its exploration of love, loss, anger, loneliness and grief, and is highly relatable for anyone who has experienced the breakdown of a relationship or been let down by someone they trusted.
Her poetry and expression are accessible and easily understood, and Leigh’s imagery is often quite stark and raw, but that is where her strengths as a poet lie.
Joanne Van Leerdam Author of ‘Leaf’, ‘Nova’, ‘Stained Glass’ and ‘The Passing Of The Night’.
Yes, that’s me, and those are my own books. Obviously, I write the type of poetry I want to read. Don’t take my word for it, though – I have compiled this description with quotations from different Amazon reviewers.
“Joanne Van Leerdam is a master poet who combines an old-worldly feel to her poetry with a modern flavor.”
“Joanne Van Leerdam’s poems are about the emotional fragility of human existence, about the brittleness of love and about living with love lost. She expresses both the sense of frailty and the strength of resilience in her reflections, as if a lonely survivor on a faraway island.”
“Many of her poems are conventional in structure, with a regular rhyme scheme, traditional yet so sensitive and vulnerable that they emerge as special, standing out like novae in the vast night sky.
Her poems don’t crash through the door, flourishing their creative uniqueness, but in a quiet voice Van Leerdam almost whispers to us to let her poems come in as she both exposes the emotional pains of life and provides comfort for them.”
I’d love to know if you are encouraged to try any of these poets’ works, and if you do, what you think of them. You’re always welcome to leave a comment on this, or any other, post.
National Poetry Month started as a national celebration in the US back in 1996 as an initiative of the Academy of American Poets but has become something that is celebrated more and more internationally, with not just publishers but bookstores, schools, libraries, and poets themselves joining in the celebrations. As you know, I’m a poet, so I’m absolutely in favour of all of that.
As the month progresses, I’ll be sharing some of my poems with a bit of context about why they were written and how I went about crafting my initial idea into a poem that delivered the message I wanted to put out there. I’ll also be sharing some of my favourite poems that I’ve loved for a long time, and introducing you to some new poets that you may not yet have heard of.
If you’re not into poetry, don’t worry – my blog posts won’t be exclusively poetry related. I hope to share some more insights about writing and social media for authors, too.
To encourage you to get involved in small ways, I have compiled a list of ten ways in which you can celebrate Poetry Month this April. Choose one, or choose all– it’s up to you.
Read a poem that is new to you.
Memorise a poem, or part of one.
Support a poet by following their blogs or websites. Follow my blogs – here and at WordyNerdBird Writes where you can read my new writing, including recent poems and one or two from each of my books.
Support a poet on social media by following and sharing their posts. I’ll be posting some more suggestions in the coming week about where you might like to start, but for now, my social media links are at the bottom of the post!
Support a poet by buying a book of poetry. I’ll be posting some suggestions in a day or two, but you can check out last year’s suggestions here! They’re all really good.
Participate in the Dear Poet project, even if just by enjoying the fantastic videos on the website.
Subscribe to Poem-A-Day, where you will receive a brand new poem and some insights from the poet each day.
Put the National Poetry Month poster image on your social media, website, notice board, shop window or anywhere else you think it might make a good impression.
Write your own poem for someone special.
Listen carefully to songs on the radio. You might be surprised how many of them are poetry set to music.