How did you get your creativity flowing again?

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I’m feeling a little ‘meh’ right now. My creativity seems to have dried up. My motivation slammed the door in my face, after rolling her eyes at me.

It’s just all part and parcel of being a writer, a blogger, a designer, or anything remotely creative…we can’t be expected to produce original ideas constantly week in, week out. Sometimes, it all goes a bit well…barren.

Don’t worry, don’t fight it they say. Just go with the flow, go for a walk, take a break…it will come back. Hopefully.

I love when I’m bursting with creativity. There’s a real buzz to daily life and I feel alive. I can’t get the words down quick enough.

But right now, my mind is blank. I’m staring into an endless, empty space. Honestly, It’s quite terrifying.

I’m sure you must know the feeling right? Oh please tell me I’m not alone.  How did you get your creative mojo back? Do share your own experiences and how you managed to ignite your inner flame. I’m sure your words will soothe many weary souls out there. Thanks guys.

Guest Post: Inside the Mind of an Addict – Negative Thoughts Addicts Must Overcome

Inside the Mind of an Addict: Negative Thoughts Addicts Must Overcome

Addiction to drugs and alcohol are unfortunately common, and many individuals from young teens to the elderly suffer from addiction to one or more substances. These are substances that can affect body chemistry, and there may be a real, physical craving by the body for the individual to use these substances. More than that, the individual may experience some sort of pleasure, relief or other positive feeling when using, and this can make an addiction even more difficult to overcome. In addition, an addiction can affect the mental state of an individual, and this may be one of the most challenging aspects associated with overcoming an addiction. By entering the mind of an addict and learning more about the common, negative thoughts many addicts have, you may be able to learn how to overcome these thoughts as a first step toward recovery.

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I’m Going to Die An Addict.
There is often a sense of hopelessness felt by an addict. The addict may feel as though a life free of the drugs or alcohol is simply not possible. However, the addict may also be aware that the behavior is detrimental to his or her life or safety, and because of this, there may be a real fear that the addiction will result in his or her death. This thought may be combined with other negative thoughts to create a general feeling that the situation is hopeless and that recovery is not possible.

I Don’t Want to Live Anymore.
Many addicts understand that their addiction is having a negative impact on their lives. They may realize that the addiction has led to problems with personal relationships, their job opportunities and more. The goals and dreams that the individual once had may no longer seem attainable, and the general zest for life may be gone. Giving an individual hope that there is a better future in store after recovery is a necessary step.

I Don’t Like Myself.
This is a thought that may have two sides to it. For some individuals, they do not like themselves unless they are using. They have be filled with self-hate, and they may only find the release from this feeling by using. Others may not like themselves when they are using, but they may feel compelled because of a physical addiction to continue to use drugs or alcohol. Learning more about what specifically the individual does not like about himself or herself is vital to the recovery process. This is because improving self-image is a goal of recovery and rehabilitation.

I Don’t Know How to Stop.
Many addicts understand that they have a problem, but they simply are caught up in a cycle that they do not know how to break. Drug and alcohol addiction can be challenging because it affects many facets of a person’s life, and rehabilitation often may take weeks or months to complete. When an individual wants to stop but does not know how, these is a sign that additional support from family, friends and a rehab center are needed.

There’s Nothing I Can Do to Get Better.
While an addict may realize that the addiction is a detriment to his or her life, it is common for the individual to feel as though rehab and recovery are not feasible. They may feel that their addiction is too strong or that they need the substance in order to function. It is important to point out the negative impact of the addiction on the person’s life. In addition, scheduling an interview or consultation with a rehab center may be beneficial. The fact is that rehab is successful for many individuals, and there is actually hope for a full and lasting recovery.

The thoughts that run through the minds of addicts are among the most difficult negative forces to overcome. By speaking in detail to the addict, you may be able to learn more about his or her goals, fears and desires.

For more support you could contact a professional – http://www.thephoenixrc.com/our-philosophy/

Bio: Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health, fitness, beauty and fashion. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.

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Paisley

Read This Book – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

I’m determined to keep to my promise dear readers. I’m reading books, so many books. I believe any author worth her/his salt must spend as much time reading as they do writing. It’s slowing down my writing, but it is essential study. Lately, I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Wow, just wow. Have you read it? Put it on your book list.

Fault“I wanted to know that he would be okay if I died. I wanted to not be a grenade, to not be a malevolent force in the lives of people I loved.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Blurb: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Cry? Boy you will cry, I sobbed like a baby, clinging onto every word…but you’ll also smile and laugh as this young couple struggle to enjoy life and love despite their health. This isn’t just another modern day romance, this is a book that reminded me that life is precious and unpredictable.

Reviews

“In its every aspect, The Fault in Our Stars is a triumph.” -Booklist, starred review

“Luminous.” -Entertainment Weekly

“A smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance.” -Kirkus, starred review

A blend of melancholy, sweet, philosophical, and funny. Green shows us true love…and it is far more romantic than any sunset on the beach.” -New York Times Book Review

“One doesn’t like to throw around phrases like “instant classic” lightly, but I can see The Fault in Our Stars taking its place alongside Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret in the young-adult canon. Green’s book is also a good example of why so many adult readers are turning to young-adult literature for the pleasures and consolations they used to get from conventional literary fiction.” -Time

“Green writes books for young adults, but his voice is so compulsively readable that it defies categorization. The Fault in Our Stars proves that the hype surrounding Green is not overblown.” -NPR

“A pitch-perfect, elegiac comedy…it will linger long and hard in the minds of teens and former teens.” -USA Today

“An achingly beautiful story.” -SLJ, starred review

“John Green deftly mixes the profound and the quotidian in this tough, touching valentine to the human spirit.” -Washington Post

My Book Cover – The Updated Design

WomenBehavingBadly-FrontAs most authors should really know, a quality book cover is absolutely vital.

Author fact #1 – a rubbish/average/rushed cover will inevitably slow down sales…It’s a tough fact. Readers will judge us on our covers.

I quite liked my original design, but I couldn’t help but mutter to myself, yes it’s OK but….my cover could be better.

Here it is folks! Taa-daa! I think my sales are already improving on Amazon. Woo hoo!

Other big news in my own booky wooky world? This book will also soon be available to purchase on Amazon and other shops as a paperback. I’m working on it. At the moment, it can be purchased as an e-book. Just click on the Amazon links to read the reviews.

Amazon UK

Amazon USA and beyond

Blurb:

Have you ever been hurt by a woman? Are you fed up with the constant bitching, gossiping and manipulation between the females in your life? Do you want happier and healthier relationships with females? Do you wish to weed out the toxic women and seek out only positive women?

If you have ever wondered why some women are complicated creatures this book will offer you straight talking answers. This book will highlight all the strange, controlling and spiteful behaviours that some females specialise in. This book attempts to understand what actually drives women to be cruel or bitchy to each other. It attempts to make sense of the huge expectations women place on each other. How can we avoid toxic women? What bad behaviours should we be looking out for? This book explores every cruel behaviour possible and attempts to understand what is really going on between the females in our life.

More about ‘Women Behaving Badly’,

Alana Munro takes us deep into the unnerving yet compelling reality of being a woman, revealing a world where females don’t nurture other females. Sharing many deeply personal and shocking tales about bullying, bitching, gossiping, power games, jealousy and much more – Alana explains what each hurtful episode taught her about females.

Women Behaving Badly shatters our assumption that all women are loving. It ruptures the delusion of sisterhood. It heightens our awareness of what goes on behind the sweet smiles. It liberates women from the emotional and often difficult prison that is womanhood. It exposes the harsh and fickle reality of friendship between women.

This book offers us nothing but the truth. Alana argues that the bonds between women are most often too fragile. She also argues that the ideology of sisterhood is optimistic but unrealistic. Women are human beings with profound emotional short comings.

Alana also looks at how we can weed out the negative women, pin point suspect behaviours and most importantly how to protect yourself from future hurt.

“The easiest thing to do is for me to feel upset and retreat to my bed, never trying to make another friend. Or I can dust myself off and learn from my stupid mistakes. I can even try to make sense of the ridiculous injustices thrown in my direction. My goal for this book? Simply to allow other women a chance to become more aware of the cruel games played by some females, allow women the opportunity to pin point hurtful (and often invisible) behaviours and find healthy friendships again”. Alana Munro.

Testimonials from happy customers.

“I found myself wanting to print this eBook out and highlight all the solutions that pertain my current relationships with women.”

“I woke up this morning after reading your book and actually felt liberated. I am not alone, I am not the only woman who has had so much crap from women, thank you!”

“I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I could relate to her personal stories about females being so nasty to each other. Really good.”

“This book outlines what to look for in friends. What behaviours to avoid at all costs. It validated a lot of my pain. I think it is a good balanced approach.”

“She’s not attacking women, she’s trying to get to the bones of the bitchy and weird behaviour. Shocking. It is shameful how we can be.”

*Thanks for your support blog readers!

Book News – Twilight Visitor

Twilight Visitor Front

Blurb:

On a secluded stretch of beach girding the idyllic coastal town of Afife, Portugal, sits a lonely man enduring the harsh and blustery winds, hoping to escape the tragic reality of his mediocre life. His solitude is broken by the appearance of a strangely beautiful and mysterious woman who engages him in a bizarre dialogue. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a global crisis erupts, quickly mushrooming in just 24 hours into a worldwide event which threatens the very survival of all mankind. Mateus Cordozo has no idea that his dysfunctional life is about to radically change, and that this woman is in fact leading him down a road which will challenge his core values as he faces the crisis – one which he has the power to prevent, if he chooses to.

This book can be purchased on Amazon

To discover more about this author, please visit – www.booksbyreallaplaine.com

*Best of luck with your latest book release Real.

Guest Post: The Road Less Travelled

once upon a time

I had a story in my head.

Well, that’s not exactly true. I had people in my head – not in the worrying way – they were characters. I also had countryside and a stately old home. Gradually, as I let all this churn and roll, a story began to unfold.

This is where I made my first mistake: I didn’t start writing straight away.

As time went by, the story grew. It became a tale of friendship and loyalty, a family drama set against the backdrop of a violent war, and a bittersweet romance. I began researching, layering flesh over the bones and finally, finally, I began to write.

Mistake number two: I felt like a fraud, locking myself away pretending to be a writer, so I got the guilts up and wrote only sporadically; when no one was home, like I was doing something very naughty.

It took years before I could be open about my fantasy career. When I finally told my husband he was very supportive but most of all he was curious. He wanted to read it.

Ha! There was no way I would let that happen; I was writing for me, for the pure pleasure of writing, the freedom of expression, blahdie blah

Who was I trying to kid? Like so many people, I dreamed of seeing my book in a bookshop. But dreams never become reality unless you back yourself – right?

Right!

So I completed the book, and took the biggest step of all: I asked a trusted friend to read it.

She loved it – which led to mistake number three: I didn’t believe her. I put my manuscript away for a couple of years.

During that time, I grew more and more frustrated. I wanted to write but I didn’t believe I could ever produce something that others might enjoy reading. Finally – probably because he was sick of my moping – long suffering and endlessly patient husband held out his hand and said, “Give it to me. I’ll read it and give you honest feedback.”

Massive step, that one, letting my nearest and dearest read my work. Nevertheless, I gave it to him. It took him about a week to read and when he was finished, he came to me.

He loved it. Righto – I didn’t believe him either!

I gave it to another friend. She loved it. Naturally, I wasn’t going to believe her.

And on it went. Did I keep handing it out waiting for the negative feedback to come in? Probably – how else to prove that my opinion of myself was right all along?

A little scepticism is healthy, but there comes a point in time when you need to trust.

Who is the one person in a woman’s life who will always, no matter what, give her the most honest, brutal and heartfelt feedback?

Her mother – obviously!

So, one day, I said to my mum, “I’ve written a book.”

Oh?” she says.

I wait.

She waits.

I’d … um … really appreciate your feedback.” I tried not to cringe as I said it.

She nodded. “Alright, then. I’ll read it and I’ll tell you what I think.”

Yeah, well, that’s what I was afraid of but it was time to toughen up. I printed the manuscript all nice-like, put a fancy cover on it and bound it ready to hand it over.

Before I had the chance to give it to her, Mum was diagnosed with cancer – really advanced cancer. Her decline was rapid and only a month later we’d lost her.

She never read my book.

That was when I realised my biggest mistake: I lacked confidence.

Had I the confidence to write my book, get feedback on it a lot earlier, tell people about it, and step out, hand on heart and proclaim to the world, “I am a writer!” my mum would have read my book.

Mum passed away in 2012. 1 January, 2013, my new year’s resolution was to publish my book.

Fast forward to September 2014. My book, Torn, is on the bookshelves selling well and its sequel Inviolate is sitting proudly beside it. The media has been onto them, rave reviews are coming in and I am working my dream – I’m a full time writer!

So why have I told you all this? Simply because I have made some silly human mistakes and yet I’ve learned some things along the way too. Things I’ll now share with you!

Under the heading of “Lessons learnt:”

  • Trust myself and be more confident.

  • Trust those people who love me enough to be honest.

  • Avoid procrastination – it pretends to be my friend but is really my enemy.

  • Be realistic about my weaknesses and engage experts to take up the slack; I’m hopeless at self-promotion so I am working with a distribution team and a publicity team to take care of the yucky stuff.

That’s how my books ended up in shops and the media suddenly started paying attention – and I have taken the road less travelled: I live my dream.

A wise person once said to me that if it’s worth doing, it’ll take you out of your comfort zone. She was right.

Karen Turner is an Australian author, who discovered a passion for fictional prose as an escape from the corporate world, which led to a rather eclectic compilation of short stories, All That and Everything. First published in 2009, many of the short stories have won literary awards. Karen has also published two novels: Torn and Inviolate. Find out more at www.karenturner.com.au

Book News – Tangled Roots

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Blurb:

 

After eighteen-year-old Carrie Jacobson discovers she was a witch in a previous life, she seeks to reawaken the past part of her soul. With the help of an eccentric enchantress and a boy who is more than he seems, Carrie succeeds and is spellbound by the memories of her life in the 1600s. She reverts to her bewitching, more volatile form and sets out to break a curse she cast long ago. If she succeeds, she’ll unleash a powerful force, the likes of which has not been witnessed in centuries.

Carrie’s boyfriend Jack (A.K.A. Tree) cannot help feeling unease about the changes he sees in the woman he loves. When Carrie’s past clashes with the present and dark magic intoxicates her once again, Tree must take drastic matters into his own hands and attempt to save Carrie from herself.

With Tree’s help, will Carrie be able to resist the allure of her new powers? Or will she plunge into the deep end and give into them?

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Giveaway on Goodreads for a signed paperback and cool swag to go along with it. Here’s the link to enter: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22888663-tangled-roots?ac=1
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

Rebekkah Ford grew up in a family that dealt with the paranormal. Her parents’ Charles and Geri Wilhelm were the directors of the UFO Investigator’s League in Fairfield, Ohio, back in the 1970s. They also investigated ghost hauntings and Bigfoot sightings in addition to UFO’s.
Growing up in this type of environment and having the passion for writing is what drove Rebekkah at an early age to write stories dealing with the paranormal. Her fascination with the unknown is what led her to write the Beyond the Eyes trilogy and Tangled Roots.

Rebekkah has an irreverent sense of humor, adores coffee, and yummy food makes her happy. She loves books, history, antiques, animals, connecting with her fans and other authors, and watching her favorite TV shows.

Visit her online at http://themusingwriter.blogspot.com and at http://www.Facebook.com/RebekkahFord2012

*Good luck with your latest book release Becki!

It’s Time To Transform Scotland

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Article from http://nationalcollective.com/2014/10/02/christopher-silver-its-time-to-transform-scotland/

Whatever had transpired on the 18th, Scotland was always destined to wake on the 19th of September as a land of massive contradictions. A land of stone built villas and crumbling social housing ghettos with generations of obscenely concentrated wealth and endemic poverty. A Trident submarine would still have been lurking somewhere beneath the North Atlantic, despite decades of protest. The long denied riches of this place would still have been obscured to the public eye: private owners would remain just as covetous. Untapped potential would still have been the glaring reality of this country.

To change any of these facts of modern day Scottish life an unprecedented effort would have been needed had a majority for independence been won. As it turned out, in the measuring of it, millions thought that transformation was needed, while still more thought that it could wait, or that this road was not for them. However, those simply keen to maintain a status quo that worked for them may be disappointed. After two weeks of reflection on the referendum result, it seems increasingly clear that those alive to the prospect of transforming Scotland are intent on doing so anyway.

The movement that grew around Yes has had to be resilient, it is mature, self-regulating and mutually inclusive. Last week, even as the results were coming in, a certain resolve could be discerned. For me, the following from Andy Wightman was an early signpost as to what would transpire.

 

Still, the awful finality of the result seemed like it had changed everything. Yet, in the context of the authentic experience that those engaged in the campaign shared, it changed nothing.

This is not to say that the experience of those long final hours was anything other than heartbreaking. As the results came through, I was in a room with terrible acoustics surrounded by inconsolable bright young things. The combined howls of incomprehension and STV’s blaring referendum jingle had the effect of slamming home every result with a horrible intensity. Revolts in the great workers’ cities of Dundee and Glasgow were not enough. A million small hopes were extinguished. This was not the country we thought it might be.

Something was silenced then. It was not the Tartan Army-like brigades that popped up in George Square or outside the Parliament in the final few days (they were still going long after the result was known) nor ever more wearied political soundbites. Rather, the result put to rest the quiet assumption, perhaps the fault of arrogance or sheer narrative potency that independence was simply an underdog waiting for its day.

The draw of any ethnic or cultural nationalism in these parts is severely limited. Our situation is clearly not comparable to demands for sovereignty in say, Quebec or Catalonia. In the 2011 Census 62% of people in Scotland identified themselves as ‘Scottish only’, only 18% opted for ‘Scottish and British’. If the referendum has done nothing else, it has exploded the myth that support for Scottish independence correlates with ethnicity. It never has and it never will.

For all that we may long for a simpler form of national identity, we remain a place of awkward complexities. Last Thursday’s result proved no exception. For all that the referendum seemed to light up public space and trigger mass dialogue, the silent majority won through in the end.

Indeed, for those more engaged with traditional media and passive political engagement, British nationalism briefly became the only game in town. Once that (possibly fatal) YouGov poll suggested that Yes might be in the lead, British identity was quickly taken down from the attic, dusted off and presented to the world as a functioning project once again. A splurge of ‘Rule Britannia’ from the press and politicians, promises of financial ruin, celebrity endorsement and well stoked fears provided No with that decisive boost it needed. Yet it managed to win without ever understanding what it was up against.

Independence was about the idea that power could be radically decentralized, from 60 million to five million and that a country could be transformed as a result. It was about a desire to take responsibility, a long overdue political response to a non-existent big society in which there remain no alternatives. This is why the networks the Yes movement created seem resilient. With independence off the table for the foreseeable future, a surplus of grassroots political energy is already being channeled into parties, campaigns and initiatives based on different models, transformation or the nurturing of a distinct polity in Scotland.

Clearly, several mistakes were made in the pursuit of that elusive Yes majority. At a strategic level continuity of process became confused with a vision premised on continuity. The SNP, by far the biggest players in the campaign, opted to present a future in which not much would change in an independent Scotland. The White Paper was an awkward mix of party manifesto and technocratic blueprint. That fudge, along with a relentless campaign of attrition on currency from the south, gave the high ground to the No camp. It also positioned media narratives and headlines to focus on independence as a policy to be refuted, rather than one of two competing propositions.

For as long as I can remember Scottish independence has been greeted by its opponents as something that would simply never happen. Either that or an act of economic harakiri, a petulant gesture to the globalized world (London) based on a crushing sense of inferiority. In the process of this referendum campaign we have established that the case for independence is neither and that will not be easily extinguished. As the polling station boards reminded us, we were literally asked to seize the opportunity and told it wasn’t worth the risk. To move forward, we have to accept that Yes failed to make that opportunity tangible, pervasive and compelling enough.

We now have two options: to work towards seizing every other opportunity that presents itself and transforming Scotland from below, or to retreat into accepting that no level of engagement can combat an army of mandarins, journalists, spin-doctors, celebrities and, improbably, Gordon Brown.

We all know that Scotland was subjected to an unprecedented campaign of threats, bribes and scares. How else did we expect power to react? The British state staged a rearguard action which, ironically, is one of the few things that it has excelled at over the years. It has a weak civic identity and is dysfunctional on many levels, but it is masterful at facing down existential threats: it has been doing so for three centuries.

But here is something worth considering. Thousands, perhaps millions, of Yes voters experienced an emotional journey that rarely takes place in the public realm. Having surrendered so much of ourselves in order that the idea of a new country might actually take shape, many experienced the referendum’s conclusion in profoundly personal terms. On polling day itself, Twitter was awash, not with nationalism, but with tributes to friends, family members, those who had helped, those who had inspired. This was a profound display of civic emotion. It felt like a national community long imagined, might actually be conceived in a moment of peaceful, joyous, participation.

In its handling of the Scottish question as a distinct and separate problem, the UK has given itself a bigger challenge than it reckons. The sanctity of devolution rests on very shaky ground: the Scottish Parliament receives limited media coverage, experiences significantly lower turnouts than Westminster elections and is widely resented throughout the rest of the UK. For all that people voted in droves last month, how do we ensure that the glaring 35% difference in turnout between the 2011 Scottish Parliament election and the referendum is not repeated in 2016?

The key challenge that the ’45%’ (I prefer the ‘1.6 million’) now faces, is in the first instance, not to encase itself in the virtuous armour of self-righteousness and chant, ‘we told you so’. There are far more important things to say to our two million No voting fellow citizens. Even as promises of more power evaporate, we must embed our new politics of transformation and maintain grassroots participation so that it becomes a definitive trait. We also have to build a truly civic national media or risk jeopardising the very existence of Scotland as distinct polity in the longer term.

Ours was not a nationalist movement. It was progressive, inclusive and premised on activism and participation. Such a movement does not stop or collapse in on itself because it failed to jump a hurdle. It continues until its vision of a better democracy is normalised and even then, it never really goes home. However, the entire exercise becomes pointless if we retreat into opposing, self-righteous minorities and echo chambers.

As it happens, something was different on the morning of the 19th. Millions had voted Yes. Most had been on a long and unique journey to that polling booth, while few imagined that they would see such a tangible glimpse of a new Scotland in their lifetimes. That decades of outrage at the UK state had transformed into a fragile hope was remarkable, to express it was a rare privilege. Those boxes cannot be un-crossed and to hold power collectively, even for a mere fifteen hours, is transformative. But those who are empowered, even fleetingly, have responsibilities. This is why we must now move beyond the referendum and change Scotland anyway.

Christopher Silver
@silverscotland
National Collective

This article was originally published on Christopher’s website.

How to Get the Most Reach Using Trending Twitter Topics

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Start today – click to follow me on Twitter.

 

How to Get the Most Reach Using Trending Twitter Topics

 

With only 140 characters at your disposal in a tweet, it’s important to send the right message every time. Unfortunately, a lot of people misuse the space they are given and completely ruin their chances for reaching a large audience on Twitter.

 

If you want to start improving social engagement with your tweets, it will be important to understand how people use Twitter and how you can use trending topics to your advantage. This will be especially important for any business that hopes to increase their number of both followers and customers, as a healthy approach to social media can lead to increased sales. Let’s take a look at how you can use trends and hashtags to improve your reach on Twitter:

 

Use Hashtags Properly

 

Although there has been much said about this little character, some people still don’t know how to use it or what it is used for. This isn’t just a method for starting and following trends, it’s a tool for categorization that can help the user to find information that they are interested in. Because of this and the limited space available in a tweet, it is usually frowned upon to use more than two or three hashtags in a post.

 

Another important factor to consider is how relevant the hashtag is going to be. If you want to choose the most relevant hashtags for categorization, it will be important to avoid using common words and instead specify the subject of your tweet. Thankfully, Twitter tells you which topics are trending in the bottom left corner and there are other tools such as Trendsmap that can show you what is trending all over the world. You can avoid misusing hashtags by sticking to trending topics and focusing your conversation where it is most likely to be seen.

 

Choose Only Relevant Trends

 

It can be tempting to jump into a conversation that doesn’t have anything to do with your business or brand, but it can also be detrimental to your social engagement on Twitter overall. Even if you do gain a few followers from talking about an irrelevant trending topic, chances are they will either unfollow you or ignore your posts when they find out that your account is not actually related to that topic. In order to avoid gaining followers who will not engage with your brand, it will be important to focus only on trending topics that are relevant to your business.

 

For example, if your company is trying to sell athletic shoes, it might make sense to follow trends relating to sports and discuss those topics. However, a brand like this probably shouldn’t get involved with trending topics related to politics, because it simply doesn’t have anything to do with what that business is providing to its customers. If your aim is to gain more followers who will engage with your brand, it will be in your best interest to follow and become a part of discussions relating to trends that will interest those specific followers.

 

Test Your Hashtags

 

Even if the hashtag is trending, it will be important to research the topic and find out why it is so popular. Before you start writing that tweet, click on the hashtag you plan to use and find out how other people are using it. If their reaction to the topic is negative, you might want to avoid using that hashtag, even if it is relevant to your brand. Don’t just find relevant trending hashtags and expect them all to be winners. If you really want to build social engagement with your business, it will be important to research every trend you are about to discuss before even thinking about entering the discussion.

 

 

Why is it so important to research trending topics on Twitter? Because not every hashtag is used for its intended purpose. For instance, a few years ago a popular company started a hashtag hoping to create positive engagement with their followers, but people who did not approve of their services used it instead to talk about how much they didn’t like their business. If you had simply seen this trending and started writing about a positive interaction with the company, your words either would have fallen on deaf ears or you might have drawn the ire of people who were against the company. Research every hashtag before you commit to using it in a tweet.

 

Attract the Right Crowd

 

If you’re trying to improve social engagement on your Twitter account by using trending topics, it will be important to focus on topics that relate well to your brand and will drive the right kind of traffic to follow you. Many would say that one follower is as good as another and there is no difference between two Twitter users, but that just isn’t the case.

 

When it comes to social media, an engaged follower who is interested in your brand is much more valuable than someone who just found your page because you happened to be talking about an irrelevant trending topic that they were interested in at one time. Don’t just focus on numbers, work to create a following that will truly help you to get the most out of your social media marketing efforts and you will benefit from an audience that hangs on your every tweet.

 

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Megan Ritter is an online journalist and tech enthusiast with a background in media. As an entrepreneur, her writing covers everything from start-ups and small business to global branding. You can find more of her writing by visiting her blog.

Thanks for your advice Megan.

Keep Pushing Forward – Criticism is just part of a creative life…

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It takes a lot of guts to exhibit our art, expose our deepest fears and share a part of who we are with other people.

I had years of crippling self-doubt and often blind-panic hesitation with regards to publishing my first book and then publishing my personal thoughts on this blog.

But you know what I’ve found? Most people are kind and generous. The toxic-life-is-shit-and-we-hate-anything-remotely-different-committee, Mr/Mrs Judgmental, and the dreaded online trolls can and must be ignored.

What I’ve discovered on my personal journey into blogging and writing is this – You will never please everyone, no matter what you write about, someone will always, ALWAYS, try to find fault and try to make you look foolish, just so they can feel better about themselves.

Some people, sadly, can never cheer us on. They get a kick out of magnifying all your faults. It’s weird. How anyone can feel truly content inside making other people feel sad/upset/extremely pissed off?

Just remember, you’ll never be able to avoid people’s criticism. As the quote says, you’d have to hide under your bed – doing nothing, saying nothing, becoming nothing for your entire life. What a wasted life!

Instead, choose to be too busy creating an amazing and inspiring life to care.

Depression – The Beast Within

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Deep within the essence of my jaded body, in a dark place, a danger lurks.

A beast threatens to engulf me.

Stealing my mental health, robbing my hope, stripping me of reasoning.

Hidden from the world, in a murky corner of my mind, flawed thoughts flourish.

A rebellious fiend ravages at my precious core. She pilfers and poaches me, beating me weary.

The monster within simmers and seethes daily. The bubbles of angst threaten to swamp me.

Lonesome and lost, I pick up my weapon once more.

Let the fight commence. Once again.

I won’t let your darkness slaughter my light.

Somehow I must find the strength to combat your merciless pursuit of my spirit.

Scottish Independence – Let your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears…

If you are still undecided about Scotland becoming an independent country, you really need to watch this video.

Please, watch it.

Even if you live outside of the UK, it’s fascinating to discover the social changes going on in Scotland right now. People in Scotland are waking up to the reality that they have no voice, no impact, and very little powers to improve their life in Scotland. We’ve been lied to, manipulated and our natural resources have been making a select few people very rich, meanwhile many people in Scotland and the rest of the UK live in ridiculous poverty.

Whatever you do, research and study the subject of Scottish independence properly. Do not just watch the BBC news (they are pro-union bias) and forget about reading the newspapers for the truth. It has been proven time and time again that the mainstream media is corrupt and bias. They report what suits their own agenda. There is only one newspaper in the UK that actually reflects truth and a more balanced, less fear driven debate  – check out the Sunday Herald.

In this latest video, Tommy Sheridan speaks (or rants?) to Scottish people about why we need to grab this amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity. There are many, many more videos on You Tube. Please take the time to listen to the debates going on and make an informed choice.

If you wish to live in a democratic country with powers to make positive changes for the very people who actually live here, if you wish to have a voice, for your vote to actually count and to be represented, you have to vote yes this September. Or you can choose to be represented by right-wing neoliberalism politics. You can choose self-determination or you can continue to allow public school boys – the old boys club – to run your country forever more? Privileged leaders are not the answer to the economic inequality in modern day Britain, considering that these neoliberalists promote capitalism no matter what happens to the common man on the street.

 

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No thanks – I’d rather run my own country. I’ve seen enough of your management.

 

If it is a no majority, we will have been the only nation in history to be too scared to take independence. The ‘vote no’ fear campaign is about to go into over drive. Westminster are desperate to hang on to Scotland, they need our resources. The governments have had over 30 years to fairly distribute the wealth all over the UK. They haven’t, as ever, the rich have got richer – the poor have got poorer. The Scottish people have (hopefully) had enough of this deliberate mismanagement, the lies and the corruption.

If Scotland is really, ‘Better Together’ within the UK, please can you explain to us yes voters why so little has been done to improve the quality of life in Scotland? Why have so many towns all over Scotland been left to fester? Can you explain to us what is fair and rewarding about this union? Personally, this union is not working for the people of Scotland. It works for the bankers in London, but not for me or other normal Scottish people. How can we be ‘Better Together’ with Food Banks growing by the day?

 

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Let’s stop London pissing all our oil away and use the wealth to improve life for people.

 

You messed up Westminster, you got greedy, you sold all our assets, you didn’t even bother to set up an oil fund, and now you’re desperately trying to convince Scotland that you love us, but the reality is – you need us to help you pay back the massive debts. You can’t even be honest about that.

Sorry UK government, we’ve waited and waited like a helpless wife waiting on her drunken, spend-crazy husband returning from yet another night at the casino. Hoping things would improve and he’d notice the rot setting in, make changes and start to care. Sometimes we need to say, ‘enough! I’m tried of your lies, your promises, your deceit. It’s so over!’

You’ve told us for years that we are too small, too stupid, too wee. You’ve done everything to hurt our confidence and slow our progress.

Sure it’s a little bit scary, standing on our own feet, but you know what is even scarier – handing over our opportunities, our public services, our powers to a government in London, who quite frankly only think about Scottish people when they really have to. You use us for our natural resources and treat us with contempt. It’s not acceptable.

I’d rather be a bit scared but have the ability and self-determination to improve my life, rather than have restrictions on how I can move forward and make positive changes.

As Nelson Mandela said so beautifully,

hope not fear

 

Below sums up why we simply must vote yes, I found it being passed around on Facebook and couldn’t resist sharing. If anyone knows who wrote these words please do let me know so I can credit the person. Thank you.

 

HOW DARE YOU SCOTLAND!

How dare you want to be governed by the Party you voted for.

How dare you expect to use your own oil wealth to improve your own country.

How dare you complain about the doubling of number of Scottish people in poverty during the eighties.

How dare you complain about the policy of creating 8 out of 10 of all new jobs in the UK in London only.

How dare you complain about your graduates having to leave Scotland and their families behind just to find a decent job.

How dare you complain that 20% of your children live in poverty.

How dare you oppose Austerity measures which are projected to put 50,000 – 100,000 more children into poverty.

How dare you complain about having the lowest minimum wage in Europe.

How dare you complain about spending 27% of your income on childcare. Who cares if in Sweden they only spend 5%! And don’t you dare mention that they are a small northern European country of around 9 million people!

How dare you complain about having the least generous pensions in Europe. They’re only pensioners after all!

How dare you complain that in some parts of Glasgow some men don’t live as long as they do in Iraq or Afghanistan.

How dare you show a more progressive attitude to Immigrants when the rest of the UK is allowing UKIP to gain power.

How dare you complain that you only see £1.9 billion worth of defence spending in Scotland when you are charged £3.3 billion per year.

How dare you complain about our children polling as the least happy in the developed world.

How dare you complain about having to subsidise a high speed rail link in the South East at a cost of £4 billion pounds when this will do nothing for Scotland.

How dare you complain about Trident and its huge running costs. Why would you want to spend that money on your infrastructure for heaven’s sake!

How dare you complain about being the 3rd most unequal State in the developed world.

How dare you object to the brutal and barbaric foreign policy of the UK.

How dare you complain about a 400% rise in food-banks since the Coalition came to power.

How dare you ask for clarity and evidence when the NO campaign claim Scotland is better off as part of the UK.

YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO TELL EACH OTHER “WE COULDN’T DO IT!”

HOW DARE YOU REACH FOR THE STARS!

 

Next up – be sure to check out this book…click here to get your FREE copy. This book explains the reality of an independent Scotland and cuts through all the lies often told by the BBC news and newspapers. This book is a must-read before you vote.

 

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And lastly, a must-watch video for anyone still unsure about Scotland becoming independent…the common myths debunked…

 

 

*Ta daaaaa do enjoy! Wish us luck friends of the world. #voteyes

Author Interview – Ladies I Know Why Your Single

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The book cover

 

Please welcome to the blog, RoMay. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know RoMay via my Google+ group Support-a-Writer, where he has offered lots of support, encouragement and genuine friendship to myself and other people who love to write. He’s a lovely bloke, be sure to connect with him. RoMay has recently released this book, the subject intrigued me and I wanted to know more…

 

1. This book is a completely different direction from your debut book, can you tell us what inspired you to write a book about romantic relationships and in particular what motivated you to write about the subject of women in relationships with men?

I agree. This book is certainly a lot different from my first. My first book was my autobiography and an opportunity for me to clear my mind of many experiences that I had accumulated over the years, while this book was also a chance to clear my mind, I hadn’t focused much on the intimate relationships that I’d encountered and the affects that they’d had on me. So in writing #LIKWYS, my intentions were to expose the lessons that I had learned in relationships that didn’t work, so that women would be sure not to make those same mistakes in their relationships now or in the future. Plus, it was a chance for me to tell my past relationships what went wrong with us.

2. If someone asked you to describe your book in one sentence how would you describe it?

#LIKWYS is the necessary guidance for anyone seeking to be in a healthy, headache-free relationship.

3. What are the key factors that some ladies do in relationships that drive men crazy – and not in a good way crazy?

I think that the number 1 thing that women do to drive men crazy is nag(ing). As men, we’re already expected to be the leaders and providers in the relationship, but not allowed to tell a woman that she’s wrong when she makes a mistake. At least, not without backlash. For a man to live in peace within his relationship, he must be as close to silent so that he doesn’t stir any waters, whether he’s right or wrong. The other option is for his lady to read #LIKWYS and do her best to follow those guidelines.

4. How are the ladies in your personal life receiving the book?

The women that I know love it. I think that most women, outside of those that I know, will be a bit reluctant to pick up #LIKWYS, because there’s always the idea that a book with such a title isn’t referring to them. I mean, who doesn’t want to believe that they’re perfect or the closest thing to it. Needless to say, even the best of us have picked up the Holy Bible at some point or another.

5. Can we call you RoMay the relationship guru now? I think we should.

You can do that, but understand that I’m still in training with relationships. I just found it necessary to share my perspective based on my experiences in the relationships that I’ve been in and saw throughout the years. I do, however, feel that the best teachers are those that have experienced what they are aiming to teach. So, with that said, guru I am. Ha ha.

6. You mention confidence as a key factor for women to keep their men interested. How can women increase their confidence and self-esteem? And why do some women lose their confidence in relationships?

Yes, I mentioned that confidence is the most important piece of the puzzle that makes a desirable woman. Actually, confidence happens to be the first topic that I tackle in #LIKWYS, because of its importance. I think that long before any woman can increase her confidence and self-esteem, she should learn to maintain the very confidence that allowed her to find herself involved with a man. As nurturing and submissive creatures, women engage in relationships with a natural acceptance of anything that might seem like love or a future with someone. That premature acceptance allows her to put her needs and desires on the back burner while actually convincing herself that the direction that she’s being steered in is actually what she always wanted for herself. This is where she misplaces her confidence in what she wants and needs as her self-esteem takes a back seat to her dismissed self worth. The key to maintaining that confidence and self worth is to express a bit of selfishness by not putting another ahead of yourself at all times. Much like on an aircraft, during an emergency: requirements say that you should put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others. Also, it should be noted that a good man that’s worth keeping in your life will want a woman that thinks about herself as much as she does him.

7. What is the most ridiculous expectation you have ever heard woman have in a relationship?

Let me see…I would have to say that the one thing that I’ve heard most men have issues with is being in a relationship with a woman that feels the need to do everything together as a couple. With that, I believe that everyone in any relationship should forever have an identification as an individual within the relationship, but also to do things that respectfully doesn’t require the other person to be involved. Some women will insist on their partners to accompany them shoe shopping or to the hair stylist when he’s obviously not comfortable trailing along. In my years of living, I have never witnessed a man that insisted on his wife or girlfriend wait for him in the barbershop, unless she happened to be paying for his haircut and shave, which is another issue altogether. There’s just things that men should do alone or in the company of other men to remain as such, just as women should do alone or with other women. Nevertheless, I feel that both parties in relationships need their time to themselves so that they could look forward to the moments together that ultimately should add up to a life as one.

8. I’d definitely agree that some women use sex as a weapon to control their relationships, blind men to their bad behavior and gain more power. Why do you think some women resort to this dirty tactic?

I think that women use whatever it’s that the man values most. Sex just happens to be the only thing that a man cannot recreate himself from a genuine standpoint. If a woman decides not to cook a meal for a man that’s grown used to it, he will simply learn to cook or order take-out. With sex, he might order “take-out” or pleasure himself, but nothing is like the one that he truly wants to be with, so he suffers. The sad part about this is that through that man’s suffering, he will never see that woman as a human being that’s imposing a suffering on herself as well.

9. Why do some women share so many personal things on social media about their relationships and their life in general?

Gossip is a natural instinct for women, I’ve learned. Those who don’t engage in gossip now have already learned how infectious it is to a relationship by means of past experience. On e upon a time, before social media, small groups of women physically met up and “discussed” things like kids, work, gardening, their husbands accomplishments, what they were cooking that night and whatever. Today, the ‘Evolution of Conversation’ finds women exchanging stories about everything other than those things. Women today, find more resolve in exploiting the faults of their partners and all their shared business in between on social networking; then act surprised and even angered when the public that they’ve deemed as “friends” judge them for it. Of course, I’ve written a chapter about that too.

10. Describe your ideal lady – what’s her character and how does she behave?

My ideal woman is much like my sister. She’s intelligent, confident, calm and less concerned about what her husband is doing as opposed to how she can be the best at who she is to the relationship. With a woman like that, any man in his right mind will do what’s right and necessary to keep her happy.

11. What do you think most men hope for in their romantic relationship?

There’s a song by a singer, Usher, where a rapper named Ludacris chimes in with the line, “…a lady in the streets, but a freak in the bed.” I believe that every man would love to have the best of both worlds, what’s needed along with what’s desired. That probably applies to both sexes for that matter. Needless to say, euphoria for a man is in having his partner be his fantasy.

12. If you picked just one factor from your book, what’s the single biggest turn off for men? What typically results in a man leaving a woman?

If I had to choose just one thing or chapter from #LIKWYS that would run a good guy away from a woman, that would have to be if she’s ‘Too Argumentative’. I’m sure that a lot of men could and probably do overlook most of the things in this book, but I’m certain that I speak for the majority of guys when I say that it is a complete turn off for a man when a woman disagrees with him all the time, just for the sake of it. A good man wants to believe that the woman by his side is his partner, not his enemy.

Watch the book trailer, discover the book and connect with RoMay:

Official BOOK TRAILER: http://youtu.be/esvpxB7NJ0E
Amazon book link: http://www.amazon.com/Ladies-Know-Why-Youre-Single/dp/0615957447
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LadiesIKnowWhyYoureSingle
Google+: @LadiesIKnowWhyYoureSingle

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RoMay – this author speaks from his heart and loves to share his many life experiences.

There’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer…and seeking self-determination

This song has inspired me this week. Perhaps it is the singers beautiful Scottish accent? Or, perhaps it is the hopeful, powerful lyrics? Please take the time to listen if you can and tell me what you think this band are singing about?

Twin Atlantic are a Glasgow band. Well worth a wee listen when you are doing the dishes…

Me? I think they are singing about the people of Scotland uniting and realizing self-determination is possible thanks to gaining independence from ruthless, self-serving, elite London based governments, but hey, that’s me!

I’m ever hopeful. I sincerely hope other parts of the UK follow suit and demand equality and fairness all over the British Isles. Scotland needs to be the first to jump ship. It’s scary, but it’s time.

N.B Struggling to think about anything else right now, my homelands entire future rests on this historical once-in-a-lifetime vote. Good luck everyone. People power.

Anyway, this song caught my attention, I hope you enjoy…

I know that the song below by The Proclaimers is about Scotland becoming independent. Gee, wonder how they will be voting? ;)

And one last song – bet you’ve heard of Lady Gaga, but what about Lady Alba? Got to hand it to the Scots – we’re pretty ummmm creative! In case there’s any confusion or you have a malfunctioning irony-radar: “Lady Alba” is voting No but I’ll be voting Yes!

What Drives You Crazy About Modern Life?

Modern life drives me bonkers! Watch Steve Martin lose the plot about the ridiculousness of his stressful situation. P.S If you have sensitive ears, he does swear (a lot) in this clip, skip the video…however, it’s truly comical…even the nicest guy can go loco. Sometimes, life can wear us out.

Our world has become identity fraud nuts. You are guilty until you can prove who you are. I long for the days when people knew each other and trusted people had nothing but good intentions. Sadly, those days are long over. Everybody and anybody is a terrorist, apparently.

Just the other day I was trying to obtain a new battery for my mobile phone. A pretty simple procedure one would think. Ah, but we live in the world post 9/11. Our world will forever remain uneasy.

The battery had swelled and as a result my mobile wouldn’t work. I’m not someone who loves my mobile, but I need it for emergencies and for the primary school to contact me. Otherwise, I’d happily chuck it into a kitchen drawer and ignore it.

Anyhoo, I am patiently trying to explain to someone over Skype that I can’t use my mobile due to this common battery design flaw and I am still paying for this said mobile. And, could they please be so kind to send me a new battery out.

Cue one hundred questions. ‘Do you have an account number?’ ‘Do you have a pin number?’ ‘What’s your date of birth?’ ‘You need to confirm your address’ and  ‘Can you pee into a plastic cup for us and send it to us asap, only then can we actually help you, maybe, if we feel like it….’ (OK, so the last one didn’t happen, but you get the point.)

I’m all for security. I abide by the rules. We have to protect people from the crooks. I understand the anxiety. There are ruthless and awful individuals walking around our shared planet.

It’s just, I’m wondering how did normal people, like you and I, you know the very people who pay their bills every month, become unknown criminals that must have their integrity questioned on almost a daily basis? What a sad, sad state of affairs.

But do you know what bugs me even more than over-zealous security questions?

Automated telephone services.

I think automated telephone services are quite possibly the worst invention ever. Not a high point for mankind. Hardly up there with designing the wheel or discovering fire. A voice takes you through about 2,453 options, you press the dial pad furiously. Eventually, if you get lucky, a human being will finally answer your call and then refer you to some other department, because you pressed the wrong numbers.

You should witness a Scottish person (me) trying to talk into a automated telephone service that asks you to say things. ‘I’m sorry but we have no idea what you are saying, you sound sub-human to us, please try again…’ It’s not pretty.

 

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Phone problem now fixed…sweet relief.

Here’s a outlandish idea, we call – a person picks up. Mind-blowing stuff!

How did life become so complicated? All these devices that are supposed to make life easier, actually they make life more complicated and stressful for the very people they are supposed to protect or help.

What drives you nuts about modern life? Go on, get it out. I’m listening! :)

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The truth hurts…ouch.

What is Love?

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Love hurts…sometimes

How do you cope when a person you love let’s you down yet again? How do you move on and forgive? Or maybe you shouldn’t, maybe you need to keep (power) walking and not look back?

This has happened to me, and I bet it has happened to you at some point too. Who hasn’t experienced bitter disappointment? Who hasn’t been hurt by a person they adore?

People mess up. People hurt each other. People do stupid, thoughtless, selfish things. Shit happens.

Buddha said to leave the expectations at home. He said don’t expect any thing from people. Let the expectations go.

Thanks Buddha, nice idea, but I do have expectations. I am a human being with needs, wants and desires. I need, want and expect the people who love me and the people I love to respect me, just as I respect them.

Which leads me to ask the question most of us will have asked, how do you know if a person truly loves you?

For me, personally, it comes down to respect. It’s a small word but it is powerful and revealing.

Do they care enough to patch things up again when they screw up, do they take responsibility for their own behaviour, and make positive changes? Or, do they ignore the emotional wounds, pasting over them? Or worse, do they try to *pin the blame on you – by manipulating you, telling you it’s all your own fault.

I think the mark of a decent person is someone who is able to put their hands up and say, ‘Yes, I messed up again. Yes, I hurt you. I’m sorry.’ 

I’ve had people try to pin the blame on me. People who have behaved recklessly and selfishly, often lack the ability to think with clarity don’t they?  ‘You made me behave this way. You had this coming to you!’

Sorry Dumbo, but no one makes you behave like a negligent, arrogant and brash bully. That’s all yours baby.

People will only change if they want to change. We cannot make a person love us, we cannot make a person respect us, and we cannot ever, ever change a person. They have to want to make the changes. Hey, no one is perfect, but some people need to make positive changes for their own sake, their loved one, and their children.

If we love the person, we can support them, but we can only do so much, or we will drown with them.

All we can do is hope the people we love, respects us enough to take our hand and stop their destruction before they destroy us.

If they can’t see how much you adore them, if they struggle with respecting your feelings time and time again, put on your trainers and walk.

What’s your personal experience of love? Have you had to forgive and move forward? How important is respect in a relationship? Please share your wisdom. Thank you!

Recommended Read – The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley

If you write, you must read … and so, I’ve been making time to just sit down and read more often. Ahh reading, such a simple pleasure.

I had to share a recent book, The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley. It caught my attention, which trust me is not always easy with three kids asking for yet another drink, but nonetheless this book demanded my attention.

Amanda book

 

The blurb:

Discover how human beings react to danger–and what makes the difference between life and death

Today, nine out of ten Americans live in places at significant risk of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorism, or other disasters. Tomorrow, some of us will have to make split-second choices to save ourselves and our families. How will we react? What will it feel like? Will we be heroes or victims?

In her quest to answer these questions, award-winning journalist Amanda Ripley traces human responses to some of recent history’s epic disasters, from the explosion of the Mont Blanc munitions ship in 1917–one of the biggest explosions before the invention of the atomic bomb–to the journeys of the 15,000 people who found their way out of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. To understand the science behind the stories, Ripley turns to leading brain scientists, trauma psychologists, and other disaster experts. She even has her own brain examined by military researchers and experiences, through realistic simulations, what it might be like to survive a plane crash into the ocean or to escape a raging fire.

Ripley comes back with precious wisdom about the surprising humanity of crowds, the elegance of the brain’s fear circuits, and the stunning inadequacy of many of our evolutionary responses. Most unexpectedly, she discovers the brain’s ability to do much, much better–with just a little help.

Verdict: If you’re interested in human behaviour and interested how you can increase your chance of surviving a tragedy you’ll find this book insightful and fascinating. Who knows this book, might just save your life! It’s popular psychology with lots of personal stories from survivors of terrifying world events that have shaped our world.

This is not a war, this is genocide

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The shocking reality of our world today

If you are anything like me, you’ll be trying to figure out what on earth is going on right now between Israel and Gaza, between the Jews and the Arabs. One thing I have noted is this – we are witnessing barbaric ethnic cleansing disguised as ‘military defense’, with the backing of major western governments.

It’s not a war, it’s genocide.

And yet, the world leaders support Israel’s right to defend itself. Bullshit. America is still supplying Israel with more weapons. There’s plenty profit in killing people.

I am horrified by the cruelty and indifference of human beings.

I don’t care who is right and who is wrong, all I care about is this – babies are being blown apart.

If you care about people, please take the time to demand action. This slaughter has to stop. We need to be demanding tough sanctions on Israel to stop this genocide. Instead, our governments are supplying the weapons. Join the campaign today.

I look at those dead bodies of little toddlers, parents howling in despair. I look at my own toddler as he gleefully plays with his trains, thankfully unaware of the horrors happening to kids who share his birthday.

I don’t want to hear excuses for Israel’s mass killings. There is no excuse for this. I’m furious how the mainstream media is portraying this as a just war. How can the slaughter of children ever be necessary.

Stop the world, I want to jump off.

***

Boycott from Within has sent the following letter to the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. We encourage others to do the same at http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/contactform.asp?address=1. You may use this letter.

Dear Madame/Sir,

We are citizens of Israel who oppose our government’s policies of colonialism, occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people and its actions which may amount to genocide. We write to you following thirteen days of an ongoing massacre, which is being perpetrated by Israel in the besieged Gaza Strip. As the death toll is rising, it now stands at 400 casualties and 3100 injured. The UN has declared, via UNICEF, that over a third of the victims are children. As you well know, this massacre was preceded by a month of massive Israeli violence and political persecution in the occupied West Bank, including the arrest of hundreds of so-called “Hamas-affiliated” men and boys. Meanwhile, Israeli mobs run wild in the streets of our cities, shouting the chilling “Death to the Arabs” chants (as well as “Death to the Leftists”).

You cannot ignore the fact, especially during this UN-declared “year of solidarity with the Palestinian people”, that two similar massacres have already been perpetrated by Israel in the short span of six years; that Gaza suffocates under Israel’s hermetic siege; that Israel has been perpetrating an ongoing ethnic cleansing against the indigenous people of Palestine since 1948 and up to this day; and that Israel believes it may exterminate hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza every two years and do so with full impunity.

The UN states that “Where genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity do occur, the International Criminal Court, which is separate and independent from the UN, is empowered to investigate and prosecute those most responsible if a state is unwilling or unable to exercise jurisdiction over alleged perpetrators.” Israel is well beyond the point of prevention and we, its privileged citizens, are hereby charging it with genocide.

We demand that your office will do everything in its power to halt Israeli genocide as it is taking place. We demand that you take immediate action to prevent Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people. We will be following your conduct on this matter.

Sincerely,
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within

Author Interview with Peter Anderson

Peter Anderson Book

Tell us about your book?

Okay. It is the mid-1980s, the era of so-called “reformist” apartheid, and South

Africa is in flames. In the townships, the children at the forefront of the struggle

march under banners like OUR BLOOD WILL WATER THE TREE OF LIBERATION,

and are gunned down in the street by the police and the military. Far from such

action, it seems, a small party of four is traveling by minibus to the north of

the country, close to the border with Zimbabwe. Their aim is to shoot a small

documentary video on the discovery, twenty years before, of a prehistoric skull of

such anomalous proportions that it caused Professor Digby Bamford, the star of

the show (such as it is), to boast: “True man first arose in southern Africa.” But

boozy, self-absorbed Professor Bamford is unaware that his young lover, Vicky,

brings with her some awkward complications. There is to begin with Rian, the

cameraman, once in love with her, and now for some reason unable to let her go.

And then there is the fourth member of the party, Nando Killing Boy Ndhlovu,

called Bucs, a young man from the townships, who on this trip is doing his best

not to be involved in the increasingly deadly tensions developing among the

“abelungu,” the whites.

And that is just the surface narrative. There is an underground narrative, too,

as we flash back to the childhood of Rian, the videographer, who tells the entire

story. The novel moves between these two levels, toward its inevitable climax.

What/who inspired you to write this book?

In a sense, I was “writing back” to Margaret Atwood’s brilliant first novel,

Surfacing. But had lived all my life under the apartheid régime. I knew it

firsthand.

Describe the route to your first book being published?

I spent many years working on The Unspeakable. The project was repeatedly

interrupted – by leaving South Africa, by studying for a Ph.D. in mid-life at an

American university, by helping to raise my two children in Boston (my wife

worked at night, and I had the kids from 5 p.m. until bedtime), by my own neurotic

perfectionism, by the difficulty of saying what I knew I had to say, by a bout with

cancer, by, oh, multiple things, a.k.a. life.

I finally completed the novel when I settled in North Texas. Then, over a period of

three years, 50+ publishers turned it down, my agent gave up and withdrew her

services, but finally, C&R, a small Southern publisher committed to high quality

literature, picked it up.

Did you enjoy the writing process?

Like hell I did.

What’s the hardest part of writing a book?

As Hemingway said, “Getting the words right.”

What advice would you give to people trying to write a book?

Don’t stop trying.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?

Oh, I’m a blockhead, all right.

With regards to writer’s block, can you offer some methods you have used to get back to writing?

Julia Cameron is right when she points out in The Artist’s Way that writer’s

block is caused by fear. Personally, I suspect that fear is the negative flip side of

desire, just as anxiety is of excitement. It is like male-pattern impotence, where

you want something (read: someone) so much that you just can’t. Fantasy can

help. Just daydreaming, maybe. Personally, I also read – Nietzsche, for instance,

particularly Thus Spoke Zarathustra, for the spur it always gives me. Nietzsche,

Jung, Hillman, Eigen, psychological thinkers who dare.

And then the great writers: William Faulkner, Annie Proulx, Joseph Conrad,

James Joyce, Marguerite Duras, D.H. Lawrence, Margaret Atwood.

What one book has changed your mind or your life, or simply amazed you?

Out of ten thousand? Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry.

Would you recommend indie book publishing and why do you believe the traditional route is still preferred by many?

The problem with indie publishing (if, as I take it, you mean self-publishing), as

everyone knows, is that it’s a free-for-all. The internet knows no bounds, and one

bit of data is the equal of the next. The question becomes, how to stand out?

And therefore, how to be read? I believe that instead of setting up an either-or

between indie and traditional publishing, we have to hold hang onto a both-and.

The internet won’t kill books as such – e-books are books, too – but it may kill

literature. We need canons, otherwise, we are stuck. Or, more likely, we wander

aimlessly through the infinite network of social media without any real certainty

as to what is best.

How did you feel when you published your first book? And, how did you celebrate your achievement?

Weirdly, because of my isolated personal situation, I had no one to share the joy

with. It is far better if you have a circle of friends and family. I had a one-sided

discussion (he didn’t say much) with the shade of Friedrich Nietzsche. I told him

I wished I had a moustache like his. I told him I wished his sister hadn’t given his

walking stick to Hitler. I told him I wished Texas had some great mountains, but,

hey, what can you do? It’s the bottom of a prehistoric sea.

***

PART 2 – Getting to know the author…

 

Peter Anderson Author

Peter

Describe yourself in five words?

I’m a hêppie Wit Hotnot.

Describe your perfect day?

A day spent in the company of the woman to whom I once sent a copy of Rilke’s

poem that opens: “Beloved, lost to begin with. . .”

If you could invite five people to dinner who would they be?

The above-mentioned woman. No one else.

And what would you serve at the meal?

Tricky Q. She was strong to overwhelming on animal rights and vegetarianism,

no, veganism. Romaine lettuce and ice water? (Just kidding. A rich mushroom

stew.)

What is your favourite topics of conversation with your friends?

Politics. Personal histories. Emotional understanding. Literature.

How do you like to relax after a busy day?

Now you’ve got me. As an academic and a writer, I just keep working.

What were you like as a child?

Read my novel, and you’ll see.

What’s your mantra in life?

It changes by the day. Today, from Hermann Hesse’s Narziss and Goldmund:

“To love God is not always the same as to love the good.”

Your favourite quote ever?

What is what is? (Heidegger)

What drives you crazy about modern life?

Fashionable poses claimed as pluralistic identities.

If you had the power to change anything in this world what would you change?

The linear lockstep of Time.

If you had a super power what would it be?

To make you sparkle with delight at a glance.

What three dreams are on your bucket list – and have you achieved any yet?

1. To complete The Unspeakable. (Done.)

2. To rewrite/revise my critical study: Stone, Paper, Steel: Poetry in Prison

Under Apartheid. (Far from done.)

3. To write my second novel, Lords of Misrule. (Not yet commenced.)

*Thanks Peter, all the best with you book. Great to meet you.

Slut Shaming – Enough Already!

tina

It’s 2014 and women are still quick to throw around the word ‘slut’, ‘slag’,’whore’ at other females. Slut Shaming is alive and well.

Fact: It takes two to tango.

Or it takes 24 men with the horn and one lone, drunk woman.

Twitter was set a blaze just the other day. A drunk 18-year-old woman on holiday in Spain pleasured 24 young men in a bar. All men stood waiting for their turn, the girl received a free drink for her efforts.

Society was utterly disgusted with her. Sure, if she was my daughter – I wouldn’t be chuffed at all, I’d be having some talks with her, but where is the disgust for the young men queuing up to receive her services? What about the bar arranged the event and allowed this to go on? Sex games are encouraged and part of the bar culture in these Spanish resorts. What about the cheering, jeering crowd of young people egging her on and daring her to give it a go? How is it acceptable that peer pressure exists in this sexual context?

Female celebs and women the world over said she’d need to pray for forgiveness, that she was a disgusting human with no morals.

Okay. Thanks for your considered and insightful input ladies. Helpful.

I find it a little a bit unbalanced that celebrities who use their own sexuality to sell records are horrified by sexual behaviour. You know, the very celebs who are rolling about a beach, pretty much naked, pretending to have sexual intercourse with a gorgeous male model for their latest music video.

The response to this girls sexual behaviour was in a word – predictable.

Predictable – it was the girl who was ridiculed and picked to pieces on social media. Little or nothing was mentioned about the young men all standing waiting, holding onto their man hoods like pathetic wannabe porn stars. Not much was mentioned either about the night club management who arranged the competition. The people who ‘set up’ these events to bring in more punters.

Instead all disapproving eyes were glaring at the girl. The spotlight was firmly on her. Sure, her behaviour was shocking, but the entire sexual environment, the peer pressure, the scene, the people who promote/encourage these events, the culture is more worrying and a much bigger problem. It’s important to take a step back and not point the finger at one person. Branding a girl a ‘slut’ is not going to change anything.

Surely it’s more productive to glare the spotlight over our sexually charged society? Have we, the adults, helped to manifest these behaviours in our young people today? Who is actually responsible for the sexually hyped society we live in? When did it become fun for young people to behave like porn stars in a bar?