Tag Archives: help

Coming to America! (With a Little Help from my Friends)

Yes, that’s right my friends, I’m coming to America. Just like this guy:


Okay, maybe not exactly like Prince Akeem, but very close. And I’ll take with me all the lessons I learned from watching the movie.

  1. If you want to meet a future Queen, you go to Queens. (duh!)
  2. New Yorkers are ready to steal everything you own at every moment. Unless you’re in a barber shop. Barber shops are super friendly.
  3. Eddie Murphy’s smile is bigger than his face.

But enough of that.

So, I’m coming to America. To be more specific, I’m coming to Salem, Massachusetts. To be even more specific, I’m coming to Salem, Massachusetts to attend the Writer Unboxed Un-Conference from Monday November 3rd to Friday November 7th.

Now, I’ve talked about Writer Unboxed here before. I’ve mentioned the blog (Look, it’s right over there => on the blogroll!), and I’ve talked about the Facebook group. Both of which are awesome. I’ve been an active member of the FB group for a few years now, and an active participant on the blog, and so when I heard about the Un-Conference, I decided there was nothing more important in the world than for me to attend this not-a-conference-conference.

And then, you know, my life imploded and changed significantly, and I found myself a single mother, living in a caravan with two small boys, with little to no income. And I had to regretfully admit that I just couldn’t afford to goto the Salem this November. With flights, insurance, accommodation, meals, conference fees, childcare arrangements, and the need to eat actual food (rather than just dine on the writerly ambience), the price was going to run to thousands of dollars.

But put away those violins.violin

No, seriously, put them away. Because just at the point where I was feeling a bit like having a wallow in my own misery — and bemoaning the fact I live in FutureLand, rather than downtown Salem — a team of Superheroes came to the rescue.

A group of online friends — all of them women writers — decided to take matters into their own hands and do whatever it took to get me to that conference. And not just me. There were five of us in all. Five of us who desperately wanted to attend, but just couldn’t get there for financial reasons. And we all have a few things in common.

  • We’re all writers. (Obviously.)
  • We’re all women.
  • We all have small children.
  • We are all passionately involved in helping and supporting our fellow writers.
  • We all have the bestest friends in the whole entire universe.

And thus, the WriterMamas fundraiser was born.

And this is where you come in, my dear friends. You see, at the time of writing this, we’re about halfway to our fundraising goal. Halfway. Which means that, at the moment, when I board that plane in November, I’ll be thrown out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And I’m not much of a swimmer.

If I’m lucky, I’ll find an island nearby. A few days later, I’ll look like this:


Yes, beard and all. What happens on the island, stays on the island.

So if you’d like to prevent me from turning into a grizzled, mostly-naked man with nothing but a volleyball and my own psychosis for company, please jump on board the WriterMamas fundraiser.

There are four ways you can help.

1. Make a Donation

It’s pretty simple. Pop on over to the WriterMamas GiveForward page and make a donation. Even if all you can spare is $5, we would all appreciate it. I would appreciate it. I really don’t want to be stuck on a remote island, slowly turning into Tom Hanks…

Of course, you’re welcome to donate more than $5. Any and all donations are gratefully accepted.

2. Buy The Successful Author’s Toolkit

Okay, this is an absolutely awesome parcel of writer’s resources for a fantastic price. All of these products have been donated to the WriterMamas fundraiser by the authors, so 100% of the price you pay goes straight towards helping me avoid a long and lonely swim in the Pacific Ocean. The Toolkit includes:

  • “Got High Concept?” by Lori Wilde
  • “Writing Active Setting” boxed set by Mary Buckham
  • “Rock Your Writing” complete set by Cathy Yardley (including her never-before-released marketing course)
  • “Write. Publish. Repeat” by Sean Platt and Johnny Truant
  • “A Writer’s Guide to Blogging” by Dan Blank
  • “Your First 1000 Copies” by Tim Grahl (including a usually not-for-sale bonus podcast)
  • “Prowriter: Secrets of an Author Entrepreneur” course by CJ Lyons and Joanna Penn
  • “The Career Novelist” by Donald Maass
  • BONUS: 50% off Cathy Yardley’s amazing editing service on a single project
  • BONUS: Live chat or phone call with Shelley Souza, an experienced editor, to discuss the first five pages of your manuscript.

The whole package retails at well over $200 — and that’s not even taking into account the bonus offers — but it’s available as part of this fundraiser for $100. Go and read more about each of the resources here. And then buy the toolkit, either for yourself or for a deserving writer friend.

3. Buy cool Writer Unboxed merchandise

This fundraiser has inspired some of the most amazing people to dive in and help. And so you can buy cool caps and t-shirts, and all the profit goes back to making sure I don’t have to spend the next two months practicing my breaststroke.

Check out these great baseball caps, available for a limited time for $30.

Or, if you’re not into baseball caps, you can pick up a limited edition Writer Unboxed t-shirt for only $23. Don’t they look amazing?

 4. Spread the Word

Seriously, tell everyone. Share this blog post. Share the individual links. Tweet them, FB them, G+ them, Pinterest them, scrawl them on bathroom walls, do whatever the cool kids are doing with links these days. Go crazy and tell your friends in person. Sky-write it. Shout it from the rooftops.

If you’re not interested in writing books or merchandise, and you can’t or don’t want to donate, that’s okay. You can still help just by clicking a few buttons. Spread the word.

Any other ideas?

And if you’ve got any other fundraising ideas, hit me up in the comments.

I am ever so grateful to the original organisers of the WriterMamas fundraiser, to all the other people who’ve come on board in the last few weeks and turned this dream into an almost-reality, and to everyone who has already donated, purchased, and shared the love. Without friends like you, the world would be a darker place.

And with that little piece of nostalgia, how can you do anything else but help?

I assure you, you’ll make me smile even bigger than Eddie Murphy. And that’s no small task.

eddie murphy


Filed under Random Stuff, Writing

Feeling apathetic? Five Ways to Find Your Mojo

A few days ago, I wrote a post explaining how apathetic and “nothing” I was feeling. I wasn’t unhappy, I was just feeling empty. I didn’t know what to expect when I posted it — it was so much less positive than my usual posts — and I can’t begin to tell you how touched I was by the responses I received.

It turns out I’m not the only one who has days (weeks… months… years…) like that.

And people had suggestions on how to feel better. Good suggestions. Suggestions I possibly would have thought of myself if I hadn’t been feeling so incredibly overwhelmed by the world. So I put a few of them into practice.

You’ll be glad (probably) to know that I’m back to my usual manic, enthusiastic, excited self.

So I thought I’d Pay it Forward, as it were, and put together all of the wonderful suggestions I received, as well as a few of my own. I hope this is of some help to someone else out there feeling hollow and disillusioned and struggling to find a modicum of energy.

1. Rest & Relax

In today’s busy, busy world, we often find ourselves overwhelmed with responsibilities — many of which we take on out of guilt, obligation, or expectation. It’s easy to forget that we also have a responsibility to ourselves. Taking time to rest and relax is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. So if you’re feeling empty and drained, make sure you’re taking time to fulfill your obligations to yourself as well as your obligations to others.

Read a book, watch a movie, go out with friends, have a long bath, drink a bottle (or box) of wine, go for a walk, listen to music, dance in your underwear, sing in the shower, do some finger painting (by yourself, not with the kids), do something you’ve always wanted to do and never had the time for, or just go to bed and sleep.

(Thanks to Speaker7, learningtobesuperwoman, Bridget, jlbang24, and tyler72 for these suggestions.)

2. Rejuvenate Your Body & Soul

Another side-effect of being busy is that we tend to spend so much time looking after other people (especially when we’ve got kids), that we forget to take care of our own physical needs. But just because we’re parents, and we’ve got important jobs, and we’re trying to work a day job and write a novel and blog and find time to actually see our partners, friends, and extended families, it doesn’t mean we don’t need to eat, sleep, and connect with something greater than ourselves.

Make sure you sleep 7-8 hours every night. (I know it’s hard!) Did you know that when you don’t get enough sleep, your body craves more sugar and carbs, which causes you to over-eat and eat unhealthy foods? Did you know that when you don’t get enough sleep, your metabolism slows down and you tend to gain weight and feel lethargic? Seriously — sleep.

Drink a minimum of six glasses of water every day. Eat fresh fruit and vegetables, and plenty of good healthy food. If you’re like me, you probably crave McDonald’s burgers, salt & vinegar chips, and chocolate when you’re feeling down. Resist. Don’t do it. The buzz you get from eating them is temporary, and then you’ll feel worse than when you started.

Do some exercise. Exercising releases happy-juice into your brain and increases your energy levels. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it’s true. Instead of lounging in your pyjamas all day, put on some clothes and go for a run around the block. Your body (and mind) will thank you for it.

If you’re religious, take time to pray. If you’re not, try meditating. If that doesn’t appeal, take a walk into nature and find a quiet place where you can sit and contemplate the awe-inspiring nature of trees. That beautiful old tree you sit under to shade you from the sun? Chances are it’s older than you are. It could be up to hundreds of years old. Imagine how many other people have sat under the same tree, in that very same spot, enjoying the quiet greatness of the natural world.

(Thanks to Speaker7, learningtobesuperwoman, and Bridget for these suggestions.)

3. Research, Revisit and don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Have you ever felt like you’re the only one in the world who has ever felt so empty and hollow and depressed? Yeah, me too. I’m pretty sure we all feel that way when we’re teenagers, but sometimes the feeling sneaks back over us when we’re adults and really should know better.

Rather than trying to figure your own way out of your apathetic mood, look at how other people before you have done it. The interwebs are full of people shouting into the void about how to do this, that and the other. (And now I am, too. Yay me.) So head over to Google or YouTube and see what you can find.

(Thanks to Dan Thompson for this suggestion, as well as the following short video:)

4. Re-evaluate your Life

If your feeling of emptiness and apathy goes on for more than a few days, it might be time to try to work out why you’re feeling that way. Perhaps your mojo hasn’t really gone, and the steps above will help. Or perhaps your mojo has gone into hiding because you’re not happy with something in your life. If that’s the case, spend some time working out why you feel the way you do, and how you can change that.

In some cases, that may be obvious. As Dave Higgins said:

I had the feeling some days after I was made redundant for the first time.I found that having a scheduled boring routine task to do each day worked for me. Because it was boring (scrub the sink, &c.) I did not expect to feel happy during it. Once it was finished I got a little buzz from achieving it and my inner critic could not call the day wasted.

But sometimes, you may need to look at making a much larger change to re-find your mojo. As Dianne Gray said:

The way I pulled myself out of [a nothing week] last week was to make a massive decision. On Friday night I decided to leave work and go back to the country. My last day at work will be 2 November and now every day I’m looking forward to and working towards that goal.

(Thanks to Dave Higgins and Dianne Gray for sharing their experiences.)

5. Reach Out

Don’t underestimate the power of telling other people how you’re feeling. I wasn’t kidding on Wednesday when I said I’d written and deleted three blog posts before I wrote the one I eventually published. I’d actually decided not to post anything at all, but then forced myself to do it anyway. I’m so very glad I did. Even just hearing that other people feel the same was a huge help.

Thank you to everyone who read, liked, and commented on my post. You guys are the best.

Which of these suggestions have worked for you in the past? Have you got any others I’ve missed?


Filed under Opinion