#socialmedia versus #socialanxiety

One of the biggest obstacles facing many authors today is Social Anxiety.

A few days ago I had a conversation with a friend about how hard it is to be an author today, especially if you’re an independent author. Gone are the days of being an elusive or mysterious author. These days, social media dominates and dictates whether you’re #successful at it, or if your book will sit and collect dust.

How do you survive #SocialAnxiety and overcome the beast?

I have severe social anxiety. When it comes to giving someone my hard earned money to force myself into a crowd of people and sit on display behind a table with not only my books, but my name and picture on a banner, I want to curl into a fetal position.

It’s not easy to talk to strangers. It’s even harder to forge a connection to an elbow-to-elbow crowd. Add the daunting task of smiling and-oh right-form coherent #words. I’m an author and I make my living off weaving words but when faced with a crowd of strangers who are sizing me up and comparing me to all the other authors around me I turn into a blank thought bubble.

Over the past four years, I’ve found a few tips to help me and I’m going to share them with you. Take what you want and need from them and maybe share some of your own in comments.

Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is a great way to know what will help you fit in. If you fit in, you can blend in with the crowd when you need a break.

If you ever see me in a pair of jeans and a Stitched Smile Publications t-shirt you’ll know I’m struggling to get through the event. I normally don’t like to be that casual when I’m at a convention or live event, but I do what I have to, to get through it. In jeans and a T-shirt it’s super easy to slide through the crowd, hide in a bathroom, or get some fresh air without anyone really giving you a second glance.

Have a Buddy

Having an event buddy is #crucial to your survival. Someone who you have already given a heads up talk to. Someone you trust with your life. It’s sounds drastic because it is. Don’t believe me? Try having a panic attack at a con with thousands of people brushing past you like a sea of ants to a sugar cube.

Having a con buddy gives you a life preserver and ensures you don’t drown in the sea. They can take your hand and drag you to a quiet corner, they can help you focus, help you breath, and most of all they can give you a sense of grounding when you feel like you’re about to float away.

Wear a Mask

Literally and/or figuratively! I created the Queen persona to give me a way to interact with people I don’t know. I can just be a character I created and channel her power. The Unsaintly Queen fears no crowd!

Obviously, dressing up in dark fantastical clothing isn’t appropriate for all occasions (sigh, whatevs) but her “role” is still one of power and confidence. I put on my crown and I pretend. It’s easier to be a badass Queen than a fragile human. If you practice.

Practice Makes Perfect

My best advice is to start super small. Go to the #library and ask if you can host a small reading discussion or meet and greet. Check in with a small coffee shop and try to set up an event with them. You have two choices: go to a shop you know so the faces are familiar, or go to one you’ve never been so if you freak out and spill coffee on yourself you never have to see them again.

Practice your pitch. Practice answering questions. Watch yourself in the mirror and force yourself to relax your shoulders. Practice talking slowly and pausing to avoid “um” and “uh”.

And practice getting in front of the crowd. Remember, we start small and add on. Not the other way around.

Now that we have all these tools under our belt, let’s tackle the real #boss-fight: Social Media

Social media fatigue refers to social media users’ tendency to pull back from social media when they become overwhelmed with too many social media sites, too many friends and followers and too much time spent online maintaining these connections.

It’s time to compartmentalize priorities. Keep close friends and family separate from your “other world”. And honestly? Keep only family members on your social media who are not toxic to your mental health. It’s ok to block out negativity. I give you permission. They can talk to me if they don’t like it.

Schedule your posts.

This is so important I’m going to repeat it in bold. Schedule your posts. Find a quiet time, once a day when you’re not in the red zone of anxiety and limit your exposure.

Back in the old days, authors got sloshed and hid behind a handler when they did their signings. Hell, sometimes it wasn’t even really the author there! They’d just send the model used in the author pic. No one knew any better.

I’m sorry #cat-fishers you can’t get away with that these days! Nope, fans and readers troll the internet and #Google sleuth you better than any FBI agency. Remember that picture from Aunt Bunny’s wedding when you were 14, awkward, and shoving cake in your face? Yup. That’s the one they’ll find and it will get more #exposure, #engagement, and #interaction than any profound post you ever make in your entire social media lifetime.

Won the Nobel Peace Prize? Doesn’t matter: Aunt Bunny.

You Must Disconnect to Connect

If you lose connection to life, friends, sunlight you lose connection to yourself. If you have no lifeline to you and your center you will drown in the Matrix. Digital age has made it easy for us to corrupt our hard drives: Our mind. Overloading your brain with input and stimulation will wear you out in ways you can’t even process unless you take a step back.

The light from our cell phones, the glow of the computer screen, the heavy chain link of “notifications”. All of it is designed to force more stimulus at you than you can humanly process.

You need to reboot. You need to come back to the real world. Even if you’re lonely or depressed, the silent call of the internet will only make it worse.

A lonely person in real life can easily fall into the allure of the “friend count” game. You think all those people are your real friends? Here’s a test. Ask for their help. If you ask for something where they would have to give up anything; time, money, etc., you’ll find you might be stretching the true number.

Am I saying you can’t have a relationship (friend or otherwise) with someone on the internet? Absolutely not. I’m saying make it real. Call on the phone and make plans to go somewhere (please for the love of all things Cthulhu be safe about this. Do not meet with strangers alone. Do not give personal information to any stranger and just have some common sense). Go get some coffee or start a book club.

Human touch and energy is more fulfilling than anything you can acquire from social media.

Set boundaries

Set boundaries and defend them like a badger. Limit time, and exposure to social media. Spend more time on you.

Can you succeed as an #author and still employ everything you’ve learned here? Yes, because once you master being able to face small crowds, the all-too-important human connection will far outweigh what social media can do for you.

Think about your favorite celebrity. It’s nice when they like your post or comment but would you rather chat with them on #Skype for 2 min or have dinner with them face to face?

Scares That Care Charity Convention

Just some pictures from the convention. Scares That Cares raises money for families who are unable to pay for medical needs. Set in the quaint city of Williamsburg, VA., this three day event is host to a plethora of celebrities who all share the same vision: to help those less fortunate.

The venue is well run, and complete with activities for kids and adults alike. If you have a chance, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

The Answer is Simple

#truth #life #direction #advice #amwriting

The buzz of the city amplifies your anxiety as you stare at the street signs. It’s a new place. You’ve never been here and perhaps you’re used to small town life. You want to ask someone for directions so you stand there-in the middle of the sidewalk-watching the faces as they move past you.

Their faces are cold and stoic. Each expression is carved in stone, immortalizing the “worker bee” hive mind. Finally, as if sent there just for you, an elderly woman shambles nearby. She’s bundled up in her wool coat and pink, knit hat, gazing into the windows displaying colorful clothes, flashy watches, maybe a best selling book. Her lips are softer than the chiseled-line mouths of the faces around her.

Yes, you think to yourself, this is the person I will ask for directions.

Rolling your shoulders back, you head her way, put on your best smile, and call out to her.

“Excuse me, ma’am. I’m sorry to bother you but I’m a little lost. Can you point me in the direction of the subway? I need to get uptown.”

The woman smiles and offers a small chuckle. Turning a half of an inch to her left. She raises her arm, extending her crooked finger, tipped with cotton candy nail polish, and points in the direction you came from.

“It’s over there stupid, can’t you read?”

And just like that, her smile goes from being sunny and warm, to sarcastic and full of ridicule.

The point of this little story is to point out how sometimes we let our own insecurities and fears keep us from seeing where we we need to go. We can’t see the clearly marked signs. We feel disoriented. We question our own judgement.

The direction is always easy.

Just go north.”

It’s right there in front of your face.”

However easy the direction seems, it doesn’t reflect how hard the path is to actually reaching your destination.

Focus on the direction, but work on the path.

It’s right in front of you . . . Dummy.

Victims, aren’t we all . . .

#reading #horror #bookclub #reviews

I’m starting a monthly horror reading group. Every month I’m looking for authors willing to send out one free ebook to members to vote on their favorite Villain of the Month.

In return, you get free promotion and members agree to leave an honest review.

Do you want to play a game?

Comment below! Share with anyone you think might love to play!

Border of Immortality Cover Reveal

No photo description available.#ComingSoon #FreeReading #CoverReveal

Although I’m offering this for #free on my blog, I will also be producing this in print format. Once it’s edited, formatted and submitted, it will be deleted from the blog!

What do you think?

 

 

Border of Immortality: Cast of Characters

Disclaimer: NONE of the artwork shown is mine. I am not using it for monetary gain. I’m creating a mood board for my characters and sharing “concepts” and “visual aids” for fun. PLEASE visit and support any of the artists you see by following them on social media or even purchasing some of their work!


Image result for queen of the night fantasy

Gabrielle De Sol: The Black Rose of the De Sol Family

Gabrielle was the first born child of the De Sol line. Due to her dark nature, she was not made the successor to the throne in the Sol’Arian Empire when her mother, Genesis, died but this was never an issue with her. She created her own kingdom like her other siblings in order to expand the power of her family throughout the universe.

Artwork by Cryptcrawler

 

 

 

 

 


 

Tanar’ri De Sol: Successor to the throne of the Lord of Dragons

Tanar’ri is the youngest of the 1st Brood of siblings and the rightful heir to the De Sol throne of Celestial Dragons. His better half, Marianna, is the Baroness of Pain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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Marianna: Baroness of Pain

Wife to Tanar’ri De Sol and mother to their daughter, Marianna is sadistic and enjoys inflicting torture on the De Sol enemies for interrogation purposes.

Artwork by Luis Royo: https://www.luisroyo.com

 

 


 

 

Drak’kith’ar: “The General”

Drak’kith’ar is the former brother-at-arms of Ladon (Patriarch of the De Sol Family), turned traitor and enemy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

sebastian

Sebastian: Commander of the Sol’Arian Military

Sebastian is the son of Gabrielle and Arkane. Half vampire, half werewolf. (And before any one wants to cry UNDERWORLD rip-off, please note this story has been in print way before the movie, and MANY people who roleplay know this is not a new concept.)

 

 

ALL ARTWORK came from the following link and ALL CREDIT goes to the artist except where otherwise noted:

https://www.artstation.com/maratars

#WritingTips: 6/25/19

There are times when I try to give advice to authors and I feel like I’m failing. I know “time” is hard to negotiate between “real life” and our make believe sessions at a pen and paper (or computer, etc). The real question is, “Is this your real life? Or is it a hobby?” The question lingers overhead like a giant thought bubble taking up the space of breath between me and said author.  Do you think I don’t understand? Oh, I do.

Accountability: Own it. Whether it’s a mistake, a failure, a success, a lie, a truth … just own it.

If I don’t make time to write, that’s on me. No one else. I choose to not make that time. No one else but me owns my time.

You say, “it doesn’t pay the bills.” No, it doesn’t. Not yet. Because you’re not taking inventory and ownership of it. Trust me. I run a small press. No one is making a living off of this. Whose fault is that? Mine, theirs, ours. When my brain wants to explode and I shut down? I own it. When they need a break and life overwhelms? They own it (most of them, anyway). We all do the best we can.

Let’s finish with the coddling, now.

Only you can sit and write your story down. You have to do it. You have to push through the dry spells, the hectic life, the exhaustion, the depression, the loneliness, and the mania.

Make. It. A. Habit.

Give yourself a set amount of time a day. Most of us have a certain period (night, day, morning dump, etc.) where we are unbothered and can jot down a few words. Carry a notebook with you and jot ideas down. Seriously, this isn’t hard. Grab a napkin. Grab an old receipt. Keep all your notes in one spot and keep them organized. Maybe an index card box? A shoe box with cardboard dividers? An accordion file … whatever.

You have to believe you want to do it, in order to be motivated. You have to be your own cheerleader.

Stop listening to everyone else and listen to YOU. Are you proud of your progress? Are you proud of your growth? Are you proud of your words? If not, work for it. Earn your own approval. Stop wallowing in self-deprecation and make yourself worthy of YOU.

What I can do is give you the tools you need. What you can do is use the tools.

Now, stop what you’re doing and give me 100 words.