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Review reviews

Hiya

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I hope that everyone had a great summer/winter depending on where you are in the world. If your brain is misbehaving I sympathise and just keep going even when you really don’t want to/see the point. Keep walking towards sunrise. It’s beautiful when you reach it, promise.

First a brilliant quote I read from Joanne Harris, writer of Chocolat:

Depression is no more curable by saying it’s “all in the head” than cancer is by saying it’s “all in the cells.”

That lady talks sense…and writes great books!

I, unsurprisingly spent a lot of my time writing. I know, anyone would think I was a writer…oh yeah, I am! Lots of freelance work and regular work…happy, happy, on anti-depressants-happy! And grateful.

Also writing the next book:-)

Occasionally I look at reviews for my books on Amazon and Goodreads , not too often though because it can be a teeny weeny bit scary seeing what people think of your writing.

Guess what? There is no definitive rule about taste and reviews. For the same book I have had a 1* and 3* and a 5* so for any writers out there who get disheartened by reviews just remember that a review is someone’s opinion. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be respected but you can agree to disagree with someone’s opinion.

It’s very easy to read a review of your book that showers with praise and very tempting to kick the furniture when you see a less friendly one. A 1 star makes you want to shout “I put blood, sweat and tears in to this and you gave it a 1????” A 5 star lets you puff out your chest proudly in the knowledge that “someone appreciates talent/dedication/late nights and rewrites.”

 

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My 5* counsellor led me to devise a system where when I read reviews, good, bad or indifferent, that I spend no more than 30 seconds reviewing the review. I assess whether there are useful points which would enhance the book or if I should agree to disagree. Then I move on. This means my emotional state doesn’t fluctuate with the reviews. I can be objective. Just think if mood was dependent on reviews, it’d be like being attached to an internal unpredictable bungee rope!

Happily, my brain is still healing and the progress is promising. I just have to remember not to make myself too busy, too under pressure and too focused on work. Relaxation and rest are important too! Who knew?

I have also enjoyed more reading time lately, currently reading Sabine Durrant’s new book Lie With Me and it’s very good so if you fancy a psychological thriller you shouldn’t be disappointed with this one.

Of course, being the history buff that I am I have been looking at a book by Anita Leslie on her great aunt Jennie Churchill, Winston’s mum.  Interesting, inside view of the family.

Happy rest of September and as the seasons change try to find the poetry in the moment.

Jo

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PS: If you’re giving a review please remember that there is normally a hard working person behind the book/piece so please be constructive, think helpful!

 

 

 

Celebrate!

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I was reminded this morning of how I used to be, people who know you “from before” a brain blip tend to send your mind right back, to “another” you.

I recalled how reluctant I was to say that I was ill, how I backpeddled from treatment, how I refused medication for my OCD/PTSD for around six months and how when it all looks gloomy the thought of defining the sadness with big medical terms is enough to depress you – when you’re already depressed!

Here’s a news flash for anyone who feels like this at the moment:

I only started to heal when I got treatment, accepted the diagnosis, cried my eyes out (I put them back in) and then took meds – only 60mg in my case – but my long suffering therapist thought she’d have trouble even getting me to take 5mg of anything!

Therapy does make you better, I know it’s a long road and sometimes it seems neverending, but enjoy the moments in which you claim YOU back and can review the past with a knowledgable smile and gratitude that thanks to experts and rebalancing a chemical imbalance your life is yours.

Sure, it will be different, you will be stronger – no one goes through a mental health crisis without learning who they truly are – but that, in its own way is empowering. Cool, huh?!

Don’t let the bad guys steal your life, get help and the future opens up like a rose bud.

If anyone is down today I recommend this: Thanks Jo:-)

 

 

Is the answer always out of reach?

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Hope everyone is looking forward to the weekend, it’s almost here!!

I found myself wondering about something earlier…

Bearing in mind my experiences (ongoing) with depression and anxiety I was told about a friend of a friend who is going through a tough time and I’m going to be honest while I was sympathetic I wasn’t ready to feel sorry for her 100% as I can with other sufferers.

In brief: She is a twenty something single parent (the dad has custody every other weekend) and she never seems to be able to make ends meet, she works part time in a supermarket but doesn’t feel love for the job. Her doctor told her about 4 months ago that she was depressed and prescribed some meds to help.

OK, so far, so good – this is the stuff of life, I believe it’s called situational depression and it must be horrible or it wouldn’t be called depression. However, sympathy from those around her has diminished over the months and I can see why even though I know that depression can rob you of the concept of possibility and opportunity…

She doesn’t like her job – as she likes to tell any and everyone BUT she arrives late regularly, tries to leave early and isn’t keen to work so she often has to be reprimanded by her boss. We all know that the job market isn’t great so jumpin in to another job might not be possible but she won’t try because the present boss does nothing more than reprimand her verbally – water off the proverbial duck’s back.

She also stopped taking the meds but took another two months off work without any pay which wasn’t a popular course of action.

She doesn’t have enough money – this is a problem shared the world over and I can understand that money goes out the door as fast as it comes in. Children can’t live on fresh air and they are constantly growing BUT as soon as she can get a babysitter or the father has custody of her child she turns in to a party animal, gets totally wasted and spends far too much money on “having fun.” Everyone needs fun but every week???

A solution like going out less and saving some money doesn’t seem to have any weight in her mind – she wants to go out, get drunk and be a twenty something like her friends.

The general opinion is that she’s got in to a rut in which she is “happy” to tell everyone how miserable life is and how much she has to put up with but at the same time any help, constructive advice or offers of treatment are being refused or ignored.

So what is she going to do?

Is the answer really out of reach for her?

Does she simply have to face the fact that she can’t live the life her friends have because she’s got responsibilites? 

Is it the depression or her nature that’s costing her the chance of taking control of her life? 

Would “tough love” (NOT STIGMATISING!) help where indulgence hasn’t? 

Is it time to employ the adage “God helps those who help themselves?” 

Questions, questions!!

Interesting, isn’t it? Everyone’s walk with mental health is different, there’s a 1 in 4 chance that you’ll be a sufferer and there’s a 3 in 4 chance that you’ll have to be around to support that person…however long it takes.

We can all learn from another person no matter how many answers we think we have.

Now, in case this is all too serious, here’s a funny picture. Thanks for reading!

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Reach out, make it a goal.

Hi

It’s Monday, fancy a superduper fabulously brilliant pep talk/great idea?

Excellent! Have a read of this…Pretty please with a cherry on top!

Think serious, think goal for the week/month/year/millenium.

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I’ve just been reading an article about women who have chosen not to have children, not because they are horrible people with no compassion but they just don’t feel maternal and so feel it would be worse for them to bring a child in to the world that they don’t really really want than to conform with the status quo and procreate. One of the women pointed out something that I instantly related back to mental health although the two matters are entirely different. Bear with me, it’ll make sense.

She commented that a girl could get pregnant legally at 16 but not having children was not the traditional expectation, NOT having a child was somehow unacceptable and deeply frowned upon.

In the world of health and illness I would say that there are things which are considered more acceptable and others less so. Imagine “I’ve got diabetes” versus “I’ve got depression.”

Chances are that diabetes will get a sympathetic smile, a question like, “do you take insulin?” or “how does it affect your diet?” and the chemical defect in the body will be “acceptable.”

Now, let’s look at “I’ve got depression.”

Possible comments are “Buck up/Perk up/Snap out of it.” “What’ve you got to be depressed about?” “Oh yeah, I was ****ed of last Tuesday.” or “Are you on happy pills?” All accompanied by a wary or dismissive look or gesture.

Loud and clear a message is sent back to the unfortunate sufferer: “Depression = Not acceptable.”

Hmm, that’s not fair.

It took me far too long to accept that depression is also a chemical imbalance, there is no real difference between the two illnesses if you take them back to the words chemical imbalance. Insulin is seen as necessary medication to live a normal and rewarding life, anti depressants are given a derisive name “happy pills.”

So a person with depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD etc. is classed as what? Weak? Lacking? hey, that’s YOUR BAD not the sufferer’s. They can quite easily feel weak, swamped, like they are deficient, alone and fighting themselves and the world’s stigma so they really don’t need any additional unhelpful comments.

BTW: Yes, sufferers know that you think you’ll say something wrong and we’ll burst in to tears so you subtly avoid them/the subject but please be brave, you don’t have to hold a psychology degree to help…how’s about these comments plus a smidgen of your precious time instead:

“Do you need to talk?”

“Can I help?”

“I’m here for you.”

“Remember, it’s an illness nothing to feel bad about.”

“You are 100% NOT WEAK. It’s a chemical thing.”

“Don’t be ashamed, the medication will make you feel more like you.” 

As a sufferer even knowing that you aren’t alone can feel like a miracle when your brain seems to be working against you.

So, if there is someone around you who is suffering from a mental illness they may just need to know that you’re on their team not chief judge, jury and executioner of any of their remaining self esteem. Reach out, a small gesture moves mountains. 

Alone is a lonely place, everyone knows that! Give someone a hug, give their brain a friendly smile and not an unfortunate comment.

We all know that stigma can be overcome, please be a someone who does that rather than a someone who helps to build the crappy stigma pile up to the sky.

THANK YOU!

Have a fab week.

Joanne

Happy Friday

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It’s Friday which means that the first weekend of October is almost here! Fetch me a fab book, my snuggly blanky…and hot chocolate with cute little marshmallows….wanders off in to a delicious daydream…

I’m back!

This week I’ve been working on a children’s story which fingers, eyes and toes crossed the client will like (pretty please!) and next I’m off in to article writing land to write 10 pieces. Research required, it helps if I know exactly what I’m talking about, apparently. Who knew?

I’m also working on another royalty quiz book which should be out before Halloween, I know that ghosts love a good quiz, they do, really.

In the dear old U.K. October means we will probably hear fireworks any time now, even though Bonfire Night is still over a month away, show a Brit a firework in a store and they will purchase and let it off, even sometimes at two in the morning, hmm thanks for that;0)

 

 

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Final thought for the mo, please can we all tell the media to stop writing/speaking so negatively about mental health issues?

Very few people are about to become a danger to their communities, hey, some of us even know that as mental illness sufferers we are more susceptible to being the victims NOT the perpetrators of crime. It would be great if the people charged with the duty of informing viewers/readers (and the powers that be) could remember that before they fall in to stigmatisation yet again. Just saying, right that’s me off my soapbox and off to the land of cute article queen.

Have fun, stay safe and smile.(But never at a crocodile.)

Joanne

 

babsIn paperback and Kindle formats.

 

Daylight!

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I been so busy in the last week working on various writing projects that today was going to be a day off BUT I woke up wanting to write something so, here I am. This might give me my writing fix so that I can relax for the rest of the day! Or, knowing me, I’ll keep writing!

Apparently there was daylight during my week in writing hibernation, I think I saw the sun once or twice but I’ve been absorbed in writing and editing a childrens book, doing a couple of freelance jobs and researching for my new history book.

The childrens book, The Amazing Treasure Hunt, is sitting with a publisher now so fingers and toes crossed that all is well…I might cross my eyes as well – Feel free to join in!!

The history book is part written and I’ve been building up the data so that I can write like a ninja from tomorrow onwards!

Meanwhile, I think I’ve sourced an artist for my “coming soon” children’s story website and I’m waiting on news for another couple of freelance jobs.

I’m so grateful and I guess relieved too when the client says that they like what I’ve produced, it really energises me to tap away on my laptop and let my imagination run wild.

Have a fab day,

 

Joanne

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Freelance Work

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Besides writing my own book I have been lucky enough to get some freelance work this week too…YAY!

One job was to write some information about pets and another was proofreading and editing pieces related to child development. I loved the variety, hopping from subject to subject keeps all the writing fresh.

I was concerned that by leaving my history book I’d lose the thread a little but actually, it reignited the energy because I came back to it fresh after a few days. I hadn’t even realised that I would benefit from time away from that project. Fab huh?

Hopefully those freelance jobs were the first couple of many, fingers crossed.

Incidentally, the switcharounds triggered the OCDing part of my brain, about facing new things, would the work be good enough for the client? insecurities, can you manage the workload? worries etc. but the worry was thankfully all in my head! – the clients gave me great reviews (thank you!) and I didn’t spontaneously combust.

So, if you’re a writer I’ve learned that you can benefit from taking a break from your beloved project… and if you’re a freelancer pleeeeeeease don’t go for the same jobs as me!!! I need to keep my supply of chocs and sweets up, you know how it is!!!

Have a fab weekend.

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New work

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Besides my writing projects for my books I have decided to offer my writing skills on Fiverr too.

As I love writing poetry and have had the honour (yay!) of being published several times I’ve taken the next step and write customised poetry for a special person or special event with orders placed on their site.

For people who don’t know Fiverr it is a website that has sellers and buyers of creative skills and business related tasks too. All charged at…you guessed it $5 per task or gig as they call it.

So, let’s see if anyone wants to take up the offer, I’ll let you know.

https://uk.fiverr.com/joco23

I realised that although book sales are thankfully do very well (GRATEFUL!!) that it would be nice to have another revenue stream available for the slower book sale months…they might also turn out to be slow months on Fiverr but as the saying goes you’ve got to be in it to win it.

It also gives me even more variety in my work days, the customers provide the inspiration and get a unique piece of work in return. It’s a win win.

I have said before that I like to be busy – yep, I do, some things never change – now I’m off to research some more info for my book.

Just for a change haha the weather in England is pants today…not at all summery. If you see a drenched, bedraggled but happy five foot four inches tall researcher…it’ll be me!

Have fun.

Joanne

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I love researching!

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I’ve been having fun researching for the book that I’m working on – The Royal Race of 1818.

I was so pleased to find books and information online BUT I practically did a jig of joy when I came across newspaper articles from 1818 that gave me contemporary reports of two royal weddings, who attended, what they wore, where they went on honeymoon…it was a real step back in to history and it was fabulous.

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I found political records too and pages of wordy condolences from the various councils in Britain after the death of the Prince Regent’s daughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales.

All of these articles are obviously approaching two hundred years old but I could feel the reverence and duty, the sadness and uncertainty of the nation’s future.

I am still researching so who knows how many more historical gems I’ll find and marvel at.

Have a great rest of the day. If anyone wants me I’ll be in 1818 Regency Britain!

Joanne

Winter Poll-tastic!

Hi, can you help me with an article by answering a couple of questions via my poll? Please and thank you!!

 

If you want to leave an additional comment please do!

Thanks for helping me out.

Joanne