How To Get Back In The Writing Groove

So, as many of you may have guessed by the massive amount of time I didn’t post anything, I was away. Surprise! *grin* I was busy with family/work/study/various-stressy-things, so I had to leave my poor book-in-progress for a while, gathering dust. Which was doubly bad, because it was the fourth in a series. Yikes.

But, I’ve just published it today (Twice As Guilty, from the Grim Alliance series), so I did finally manage to finish it. And I completed some 28K+ in little over three weeks. It’s rather tricky getting back into the swing of writing every day when you’ve left it for a while, so I thought I’d share some of my tips and ideas to help you, if you ever find yourself procrastinating rather than going back into that story. It’s harder than just starting a book, but there’s less info on it. So, here we go.

1. Re-read what you have got so far.

Even if you have a writing plan written out (I did a post here on writing out a synopsis, which is what I use – conversely – to guide me at the start of a book, rather than the end), it’s still going to be difficult to pick up the same tone and ‘voice’ you were using previously, if you don’t look over what you already have. But the gem of this is that it should be almost fresh to you, if you’ve left it for a while. So you can quickly pick up parts that worked, parts that didn’t, and get a feel for what you were going for again. By the time you get to the end of what you’ve written, you should be in the same mindset as you were when you last stopped typing.

Source: (By Janpha Thadphoothon – Janpha’s Photo Collection, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10873988)

2. Take notes on what you have written so far.

Use re-reading as an opportunity for some light ahead-of-time editing. Cut out anything that bores you, anything that seems to drag on, and anything that doesn’t fit nicely. Coming back to a novel is difficult, but it’s also a great reason to really trim the fat of your novel and keep it on track. If you don’t use a writing plan of any sort, make sure to at least note down significant characters and events that will effect what you write later on, especially as the story isn’t fresh in your mind.

3. Get yourself in the mood.

If you listened to a particular soundtrack last time around, or if a certain movie or picture influenced the story, go listen to it/dig it out and watch it/look at it again. Remembering the feelings that inspired your story can help you keep it consistent, so there isn’t an obvious leap from last-time-of-writing to just-got-going-again. People continually change over weeks or months, and that includes you – and that will show up in your writing. Get yourself back into the place you were before, just temporarily, and engage with those emotions for the book’s continuity.

4. Relax!

This is nearly always on one of my ‘lists’, but that’s because it encompasses so many parts of life! If you’re worrying over your novel too much, you’re going to get yourself in a rut again. Just breathe, relax, and write away. The important thing is to write, even if you don’t think it’s the standard you had before. You may surprise yourself, and find your writing has improved with a little break! You never know. Just don’t stop writing again unless you really have to. Which leads onto…

5. Start small.

When you get back into a novel, particularly if you were writing a good few thousand words a day, it can seem daunting to do the same after a break from it. So don’t do it! Not yet. Start small, and limit yourself to doing 100 words a day. Then increase it if you can to 150, then 200 – and each day, if you get to an exciting part, keep writing! Before you know it, you’ll be back to writing 5K a day with no problem. I have two friends who combine this with writing challenges; each setting a total number of words that day to be completed, and sharing the outcome with each other. This means you feel more obligated to reach that target when someone else is doing the same, and it’s also great encouragement.

In conclusion…those are my tips! The most important part of getting back into writing a novel is to keep at it. Everyone panics when they start thinking of deadlines, or “I should have had this out ages ago”, or whether they’ll finish it. Don’t think about any of that (I know, easier said than done, but it helps). Just focus on the story. The story is the consistent part that will remain in your hands, whatever you’re going to do with it afterwards. If you’re enjoying writing, then it will come back to you, and you’ll be finished with that novel in no time. So focus on the story, start small with your word limits, and keep at it! Even 50 words a day is more than 0. 🙂

And remember, many famous writers take years to complete novels! (George R.R. Martin, I’m scowling at you, haha).

What about you guys? Any tips you would add to the list that you’ve found helpful in getting back into your writing?

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How Do You Go About Writing A Blurb?

Writing a blurb is a sneaky, tricksy piece of writing. It has to sell your book, but it has to tell enough story to hook people in without giving it away, and it has to give just the right amount that it tells readers something. But what’s too long, and what’s too short? Too secretive, and too ‘spoiler-y’? I personally like writing blurbs (I’m not saying mine are great by any stretch, but I think I get a good balance), but I know a lot of authors like to procrastinate with blurbs as much as possible until there needs to be one.

Let’s take a look at the breakdown of an average blurb; (There’ll be some example ones further down)

 

Pull ’em in

Colour me intrigued...

Colour me intrigued…

The first line of your blurb is no different from the first line of your book. It’s got to be the most powerful sentence that will grip someone by the shoulders and scream, “I’m here! Look at me, damn it!” And also same as your book, go straight into the action. Here’s some first lines I personally love.

 

‘The President knows it’s a perilous, high-risk assignment.’ – The Target, David Baldacci

Former Broadway dancer and current agoraphobic Billy Shine has not set foot outside his apartment in almost a decade.’ – Don’t Let Me Go, Catherine Ryan Hyde

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother.’ – The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

What if your whole world was a lie?’ – Allegiant, Veronica Roth

 

One thing all these blurb lines have in common, is that they are in the Top Ten at Amazon, which is a great indicator that the blurb has at least contributed in part to their sales. But another thing they have in common is that they make you ask all the right questions. Who? What? Where? When? Your interest is already piqued by that single sentence, so you’re going to read on, in the hope that this gets developed further.

Try making a statement that goes straight into the action, like the line from The Goldfinch, or asking a question, like the line from Allegiant. What do you want your readers to ask questions about? Does your main character have a deathly secret? Make a point of it. Has there been a horrific world event that your characters have to live in? Drop a hint about it. So let’s take a look at where this sentence might lead.

 

Develop It

I promise I'm doing work on this blurb. I promise. Honestly. Definitely.

I promise I’m doing work on this blurb. I promise. Honestly. Definitely.

You’ve hooked your reader in, but this isn’t enough. You’ve got to flesh out your initial hook a bit more, because you need to make sure the reader actually wants to find out more about this character or that world. If what follows your first sentence doesn’t carry on from it, or doesn’t make sense to the first line, readers will immediately switch off and get bored, as it doesn’t follow a valid line of events. Let’s peer at two of the blurbs from earlier again;

 

If he gives the order, he has the opportunity to take down a global menace, once and for all. If the mission fails, he would face certain impeachment, and the threats against the nation would multiply. So the president turns to the one team that can pull off the impossible: Will Robie and his partner, Jessica Reel. Together, Robie and Reel’s talents as assassins are unmatched. But there are some in power who don’t trust the pair. They doubt their willingness to follow orders. And they will do anything to see that the two assassins succeed, but that they do not survive.’ – The Target, David Baldacci

Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.‘ – The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

 

These are the ‘bulk’ of your blurb, and the bit that’s really going to ensure your reader stays to find out more. You’ve hooked them with your first line, now give them a reason to stay. A major thing these two blurbs have in common is that they expand on the first line, while carefully dropping more hints that both intrigue and provide more information, while not giving away any major events. In the blurb from the Target, we’re told a little more about what the ‘high-risk assignment’ was that hooked us in the first line. It expands on the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the blurb, but it then goes further into creating another question, while giving more information. Which option will the character choose? How? We’re then introduced to more information for the ‘how’, which in turn opens up all the questions about what events will happen in the novel.

In the blurb from The Goldfinch, it has the same structure, building on the first sentence and answering the ‘what’ and ‘why’. It then continues onto expanding more, but instead of expanding on the situation, it expands on the character. This is important, as it depends on whether your novel is character-driven, or events-driven. You could argue the first one is about the President, but any character could be substituted for him, and the blurb would still make sense. For the second blurb, it can only be about the main character. The blurb is a peephole into your book, so if you focus on characters in your book, but make the blurb heavily event-based, it won’t match up with the reader’s expectations. Tartt then also adds another question at the end of her blurb for the reader – what significance does the painting have?

 

Let’s Wrap It Up

*Disclaimer: Mordor and/or magical One Ring not required for finishing blurbs.

*Disclaimer: Mordor and/or magical One Ring not required for finishing blurbs.

Now we come to the grand finale of your blurb – the reason why a reader should buy your book. They’ve been hooked, they’re intrigued by the premise…but where is it leading? This is about how your book stands out from others, but bringing it down to a finely edited, neatly-sharpened point. This part should give them a reason to answer all the questions they’ve been asking so far. As we’ve already started a trend, let’s take a look at the final lines of the above two blurbs;

 

As they prepare for their mission, Reel faces a personal crisis that could well lead old enemies right to her doorstep, resurrecting the ghosts of her earlier life and bringing stark danger to all those close to her. And all the while, Robie and Reel are stalked by a new adversary: an unknown and unlikely assassin, a woman who has trained her entire life to kill, and who has her own list of targets–a list that includes Will Robie and Jessica Reel.’ – The Target, David Baldacci

‘As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.’ – The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

 

For me personally, both of these would make me buy them. For The Target, we’re then told this isn’t just about the crisis from the President. It gets more personal, letting you know that the characters themselves are also in danger. This adds an extra element to the already exciting premise, a reason why this book will be different from any other book that has the President making  a hard decision. It also points out that there’s going to be internal conflict for at least one character, adding another layer to the onion.

In The Goldfinch, the blurb ends differently, but uses the same structure, as it’s for a different audience. It adds another layer to the story, letting the reader know this isn’t just about how young Theo deals with the events in his childhood, but there’s another ‘something’ as he grows older. And the ‘something’ is a dangerous event that might answer some of the earlier questions that were asked. It also ends on a ‘sell’ of the kind of book it is, perhaps encouraging the reader to buy it if they already know this is the kind of book they like. Another example of this is when a blurb might end on ‘Fans of xxxx would also enjoy this book’. Readers always look for something new that will give them the same feeling as their favourite book, so this is a good plan if you have a similar book to something else. Fans of the Hunger Games might enjoy a dystopian, for example, or fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood might like an urban fantasy about a band of gruff but sexy vampires.

Think about your reader. What is it that will make them buy your next book? Genre is the first indicator of a reader’s preferences, but it’s much more complex than that. Taking the first blurb above, from The Target, it looks at first glance as though it’s for a thriller. And on the surface, it is. But it goes deeper than that. By including the final part, Baldacci has narrowed his target audience to readers who not only like thrillers, but also like personal stories about the characters, like books with assassins in, and stories about redemption. For The Goldfinch, it’s aimed towards readers who like contemporary books, but also like stories that follow structure from traditional books, is about loss and renewal, and personalised through the eyes of a main character. Both have been fine-tuned to the point that certain readers will decide it’s not for them, and the target readers will immediately one-click.

So when writing your ‘final sell’, remember these points; Make sure it both adds more information to the questions, and opens up what these will develop into. Add fine details that make your book unique from its main genre. Is it personal to one character? Is there a lost-lost relative that comes in and stirs things up? Is there a coming event that happens behind the scenes, that the characters don’t yet know about? Don’t be afraid to narrow your target audience. A lot of authors throw a wide net, hoping to catch every reader possible, in the hopes that they might like the book. All this is going to do is end up with a lot of disappointed readers, if they buy the book, hoping it was something else!  Speak to your readers directly, let them know that if they buy your book, they know exactly what they’re getting.

 

So what do you guys think? Do you enjoy writing blurbs, or do you find them an awkward task? And readers, what do you look for in a blurb? What captures your imagination?

 

Feature Friday – Jake Snow By Elodie Parkes!

Hi Miranda, thank you for inviting me to the blog today with my new release, ‘Jake Snow’! (September 20, release to Kindle)

The book is the story of Bethany Snow’s brother. Bethany is the leading female character in my erotic romance, ‘The Last Time’ and people who read the book early in its release always wanted to know more about Jake. I had his story in my head and so here it is.

‘The Last Time’ takes place on a movie location and that’s where Jake and Bethany, who are private investigators are sent by their agency to deal with hate mail being sent to a movie star there. It’s two years since his sister got married and Jake has been working cases alone. He’s tired and hoping to find love too when we meet him in this book. This time the story takes place in the fashion world and Jake gets caught up in the strange happenings in an atelier.

The idea for the movie location book came to me when I was invited to watch a shoot by an indie film maker. The idea for the high fashion setting for this book was seeded about the same time when I went to watch a fashion show with friends. I was on holiday overseas, with them. We had attended a dance theatre, and then later in the week a fashion show. I knew immediately that I would write a story about the world of fashion. The idea of placing Jake Snow in this world came after I had written, The Last Time.

A new romantic mystery from Amazon best-selling author, Elodie Parkes

Jake Snow

Private detective, Jake Snow, has grown tired of working alone since his sister Bethany married, and stopped working on field cases with him. He’s chosen less high-powered cases as he decides against teaming with another partner from the Black Agency. Gradually Jake realizes he wants the kind of love his sister found, and a different job…

When he’s sent on what he thinks is a simple surveillance assignment, just before he’s due to take his requested extended leave, he finds a tangled web of lies, and a fashion designer in trouble…

The question is will he also find love?

With steamy love scenes and a twist of fun, this book is 18+

Read an excerpt G 13+ rated

 

He put his hand gently on her arm. “Let me see where you’re hurt.”

She pulled her T-shirt down to show him the top of her arm. There was a big bruise starting where her shoulder met the top of her arm and it continued down her arm a little way.

Jake frowned. “I’m sorry. I did that didn’t I? I knew you were slender, but I thought I was dealing with a young guy, maybe casing the place for a robbery. Have you got any witch hazel, that’s good for bruises?”

She shook her head, and pulled up her T-shirt.

“Maybe a pack of frozen peas?” Jake really wanted to help, and at the same time, he was trying to squash down an urgent need to hold her close and kiss that bruise away. It worried him, but he found her very attractive.

Pixie shook her head again, and to Jake’s alarm, a huge tear slid down her cheek and dripped off her chin. Jake caught it in the palm of his hand.

“Don’t cry. I’ll talk with my boss and maybe there will be some way we can help you.”

COPYRIGHT ELODIE PARKES 2013

*****

Elodie is giving away a $10 or £10 Amazon gift voucher to celebrate the release of ‘Jake Snow’. Enter via the rafflecopter with a comment on the blog.

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Elodie Parkes is a British author writing romance, erotic, contemporary, and often with a twist of mystery, paranormal or suspense. Her books are always steamy, cool stories and hot love scenes.

Elodie lives in Canterbury with her two dogs. She works in an antique shop by day and writes at night, loving the cloak of silent, darkness that descends on the rural countryside around her home.

Elodie writes for, Hot Ink Press, Moon Rose Publishing, Eternal Press, and Evernight

She has also released titles as an individual indie author.

Find Elodie online: Blog  Tumblr  Facebook  Twitter  Google +  Pinterest  YouTube..Amazon USA..Amazon UK..Smashwords.. KOBO..SONY Barnes and Noble..AllRe..

Buy Jake Snow

Links to come

Jake Snow, a sweetie, sexy, strong…looking for love and the person responsible for the theft he’s currently investigating.

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Feature Friday – September Ends By Hunter S Jones!

SEPTEMBER ENDS

 

By

 

Hunter S. Jones & an Anonymous English Poet

Overweight and dull. That’s how I felt.

My grandfather and brother died. I hid inside a black cave deep in my soul, numbed for a decade on meds, booze, and bad love, married to my glorious career.

My name is Liz Snow, from Atlanta, Georgia, and this is my story.

One hot summer I fell hopelessly in love with successful attorney, Peter William Hendrix III, from Chattanooga, Tennessee. We bonded because of Shelley and Keats. Pete introduced me to the works of modern English poet, Jack O. Savage, It was like The Poet was drawing us together through his blogs and poems, like he had a message for my life and my love with Pete Hendrix.

I lived it in my heart and soul.

It all went tragically wrong once I learned Pete’s secret.

As September ends I jet to London, England. I didn’t realize it when I went, but it was to be the start of a new life. Pete Hendrix betrayed me big time. There was no time for my revenge. With an unstable mind, and a broken heart – my life was a kaleidoscope of stabbing shards of pain.

London ignored me. Maybe I didn’t exist. I was lost and lonely in a flat in Kensington. I hear that Jack O. Savage will make a rare public appearance. I wrangle an invitation to the art gallery where he is reading. I was curious. In some ways, he was the cause of my trouble.

It turned out my fallen rock-star-with-words was even more damaged than I.

Jack O.Savage, The Poet became my friend.

Then, an unexpected kiss at a county fair on a perfect English summer’s day changed everything forever. Jack the man became my lover.

Magic.

My elusive dream of a lifelong love began.

If Pete was what I’d always wanted, Jack was what I always needed.

The mystery unraveled as the kaleidoscope of my broken life evolved and I found myself living a rainbow of perfect bliss.

Sometimes when you believe it’s the end, it’s only the beginning.

September Ends is a contemporary romance with erotic and supernatural elements. It reveals the intricate web of passion and desire which ensnares Liz Snow, Pete Hendrix and Jack O. Savage. The story is told through Liz Snow’s diary, Jack O. Savage’s poetry and insights, and from letters sent across the Atlantic. Traveling throughout the lushness of a summertime in Tennessee and Georgia, September Ends journeys into the elegance of London’s West End and is finally settled in the countryside of Cornwall, England, a decade later.

September Ends is the story of sin, redemption and salvation through love, because love happens when we least expect it.

Author Links!

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Focus Friday – To Have And To Haunt Cover Reveal!

Title: To Have & To Haunt

Series/Volume: The Possess Saga / #4

Genre: Dark Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

Release date: October 4th, 2013

Description:

Ghosts aren’t the only thing that can haunt you…

Nolan and Harley have been in paradise for the last year, head over heels in love. When Nolan proposes and they find out Harley is expecting, it seems they both will have everything they ever wanted.

Or will they?

Nolan’s kept the horrors of his past locked away. After all, he has Harley and Finley’s Pub is doing great. None of it matters anymore, right? But when the news of nuptials and babies has the opposite intended effect with his estranged mother, the ghosts of his past come rushing back, and the memories of them are terrorizing him nightly. But he can’t tell Harley. On the verge of marriage and parenthood, Nolan must figure out a way to deal with his past, or let it consume his future with Harley.

Harley’s always known she wasn’t normal. Seeing Brody’s ghost only confirmed that. But now a killer is on the loose in Midtown and she’s having visions of each victim’s death. Will she be able to help them and accept just how different she truly is? Pregnant, engaged, and contending with an overbearing mother-in-law, Harley isn’t sure she can take on the responsibility and the future laid out in front of her.

They say love conquers all. But as Nolan and Harley struggle with their own secrets, will their love be enough to keep them together?

Or will the things that haunt them finally tear them apart?

Links

Book Trailer:

http://animoto.com/play/1odMFekBfMzWA94Os8Kj5A

The Possess Saga on Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/series/100012-the-possess-saga

Author Bio

J.A Howell is an office drone by day, and a writer by night. Her love of writing took off when she was eleven years old and decided to fill a composition notebook with stories to read to her friends. Many years (and notebooks) later, not much has changed. She still loves writing and sharing her works with others. When she isn’t writing, she can often be found trying her hand at whatever artistic pursuit strikes her fancy. J.A. Howell resides in Apopka, FL with her husband and their menagerie of animal children.

Links

Website:

http://midtown-underground.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/JenniferHowlz

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/jenniferhowlz

Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1472837.J_A_Howell

Pinterest:

Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT8NDT1MMQc_4DnOgQLRpww

Focus Friday – Relative Deceit Release!

Welcome to the blog tour of Relative Deceit! This wonderful novel is being re-published through Moon Rose Publishing on the 30th August 2013, and is a crime thriller that will have your brain in knots. A fortune, a family, and one man greedy for it all. Scroll down to find out more, and get ready to add this to your summer reading!

 

The Blurb!

Sir George, Baronet of Bancroft Hall, has run his family and their fortunes into the ground. All seems hopeless, until they are visited by their cousin, Gregory Rogers. He promises to return the family to their former glory, but is he all he seems?

Driven by jealousy, greed and desire, nothing will stop Gregory Rogers from taking that which he believes is his. He’ll do anything to gain money, Bancroft Hall and the power that comes with the title of Baronet.

Even murder.

Until his eyes fall upon the beautiful Jane. Clever, intelligent, and beautiful, she finds herself the unknowing victim of a vicious plan to dispose of her parents and brothers. With no one standing in the way of Gregory’s plans, can she rescue him from himself?

Will she be the one thing that he cannot ruin, in order to have?

More About The Author

SONY DSC

Karen Aminadra is an English author who can usually be found with her head in the clouds and muttering inanely to herself.  She mostly resides in her writing cave, and is occasionally allowed to come out to eat.  Her love of reading, writing short stories and her childhood imaginary world led quite naturally to writing novels.  Encouraged to read by her bookworm father and grandmother and by  winning a writing competition in just her first year of secondary school, she was spurred on, and she has been writing stories ever since.  Her love of mystery and plot twists that she put into that first story continues today.  She has travelled to and lived in many countries, not just in her imagination, and has gained an insight into people’s characters that shines through in her work.  Today, with her feet firmly back in England, she travels the world, the universe and in time through her imagination and her novels.

Links For The Author

Website

Facebook Author Page

Twitter

 Moon Rose Publishing

Links For The Book

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

Smashwords

Moon Rose Publishing

Focus Friday – Dealing With Depression (Or How To Start Beating It)

Morning, folks! 🙂 Well, we’re finally at the last day of the week, such a fun day that it’s practically the weekend anyway! On Fridays, we’re going to have ‘Focus Fridays’. These are going to be my only blog posts about things that are not book-related. Today I’m ‘focussing’ (see what I did there! LOL) on depression.

I don’t think I’m the only writer I know who has this horrible illness either – and it is an illness. Depression is not the same as feeling ‘a bit out of sorts’, or ‘a bit down in the dumps’. Depression can be debilitating, and you feel like you need to retreat into the safety of your own world, as if ignoring all the stresses of life will make them hold off for a while. I never understood what ‘feeling nothing’, and ‘having an empty mind’ truly meant until my first bout with it. But everyone is different. Some people with depression may feel incredibly unhappy, others will feel completely numb. It can be tricky for people around the person too, as depression makes you snappy and annoyed with everything – it’s not us at all, it’s simply that everything seems to have a negative side, with no positive side.

And it can be difficult when well-meaning people around you try to make you feel better as well – not that it’s wrong at all! We know it means that you care, but sometimes what seems the best way of dealing with it can be the worst. Don’t try to force someone with depression talk about it, and don’t do that thing of flinging of flinging the curtains wide to the sunshine either! 🙂 Sometimes we really do need to be alone. Depression is very personal, and sometimes we need to sit and work things out in our heads – it really depends on the person. Instead, just let them know you’re there when you need to find them, and don’t make them feel neglected. Remember, someone with depression is already at their lowest, so the last thing they need is reminding just how ‘lazy’ or ‘silly’ they’re being. I have in the past being accused of just moping around and not doing anything constructive. When you already feel like a failure, despite whatever is going on in your life, this only serves to make you feel worse. So remind them you’re there, that you care about them, and remember to make them feel as though you’re not going to just get exasperated and annoyed when they don’t come around straight away. It can be a long process to push off a bout of depression.

Obviously, if you think someone is so depressed that they might do harm to themselves or others, it’s a little more serious. Make sure to still let them know you’re there. Don’t dismiss or trivialize any thoughts of suicide or self-harming they may have, as this can minimize the person’s pain and shut out any communication whatsoever. Listen to what they have to say, and be genuine. Eliminate any access they may have to dangerous items, if it’s truly serious – so any knives, razors, etc. – take them out of reach, out of the house, if necessary. Give them hope, let them know that they’re not the only one who has felt like this, and that others have gone on after these thoughts to have fulfilling, happy lives. If it is a real emergency, ring your emergency services straight away, whether that be 911, 999, or whatever your country has.

I’ve also got some helplines at the bottom of this post, so if you or anyone you know would like to talk to someone about feelings of depression, self-harming, or suicide, go ahead and talk to someone. You’re not alone, and your feelings won’t be blind-sided.

Now, onto the happier part of my post. 🙂 Last night, I felt the lowest I have in a long time. I hadn’t realised I’ve been going through another bout of depression until last night, and it hit me, making me feel like I just wanted to crawl into a ball and disappear. But, I know this doesn’t help me, from past experience. And while what I did may not be the same as what you yourself need (remember, it’s all personal), it may help in some small way. 🙂 So what did I do?

Step 1. Get YouTube going.

The first thing I did, was listen to a piece of music that never fails to boost me up again. Music is an incredibly useful tool with depression, as the right music can lift something inside you and make you feel a little bit brighter. It’s different for everyone, but for me, it’s Jim Noir’s ‘My Patch’. I love the funky, up-beat music, and the words are good too. ‘If you ever step on my patch, I’ll bring you down, I’ll bring you doooown’. It may not sound like the most likely lyrics, but in my mind, it goes something like this. (Blame it on being a writer). Depression is like those games where you used to have to hit down moles, or whatever they were. And (you can blame Little Big Planet for this imagery too) depression is almost like moles popping up in my garden. So every time the lyrics merrily sing out, ‘I’ll bring you down!’, I imagine banging it on the head with a large mallet – I’m basically telling the depression to back off, and it’s to an awesome tune. Here’s the music for you to listen to yourself. 🙂

Step 2. Decide what you desperately need to get done that day, scrap the rest.

It can be tricky to juggle depression and all the everyday things we need to do, especially if you feel bosses/colleagues/family are not as understanding of it as you would like. BUT, you should not allowed yourself to get stressed. Decide what you really need to do (I mean REALLY need to do. Can it wait? Chances are most things can, at least for a few days. Most people ARE understanding when it comes to someone being ill.), and for everything else, let people know that it will take a while. Be honest, no matter how difficult it is, about why you have to leave it for a few days. The large majority of people are understanding about something that isn’t urgent, so leave it until you feel stronger in yourself. Take the things you really need to do, and schedule them into your day, leaving plenty of breaks in between. Even if your break is just going for a walk, taking a five-minute snack break, or running to the loo for some peace and quiet if you’re in an office, anything can help you deal with the day as it goes on. Make sure these tasks are set within a normal day of work, and don’t allow any overtime for extra work – don’t argue with me! This is part of what isn’t helping, so just for today, you can chill out about it. Dr. Miranda says so. 😉

Also, if you’re like me, and have to use the internet for any of your work, try to use it as little as possible. Try not to go on Facebook, and Twitter (If you need to put in an appearance, limit yourself to a set time, and log off when it’s up), instead concentrating on what needs doing that day. The less you’re putting things off and getting on with them, the quicker they’re done, and the less stressed you will feel.

Step 3. Remember what you enjoy doing.

Preferably, remember what you enjoy doing that is as far removed from the stressful activities as possible. For example, today I’m going to bake cakes. 🙂 Absolutely nothing to do with writing or publishing at all (my day job). I’m also (secret confession time here) a bit of a gamer. I know, I’m a little geeky. LOL 😀 So maybe I’ll blow the dust off my PS3 and have a bit of escapism. Remember all the things you enjoy when you’re not working, the things that are an escape. That might be jogging, going for a walk, baking, singing, or even just snuggling on the sofa and watching a movie. Whatever it is, ENJOY it. I’m officially giving you a special ticket for today. It’s a ticket that says you are allowed to forget all about anything stressful, so once you’ve finished all your work, you can chill out and enjoy your day. I’ve even popped a print-out label for this below (don’t judge me, I love Photoshop 😛 ), so you can print it off, and stick it wherever you have to. Heck, use these if you just want a bit of peace from the rest of the household. 😉 Today is your chill-out day, so do whatever you know makes you feel better. I know I need baking, gaming, and fresh air, and for you it’s something different. Enjoy it. 😉

Step 4. Don’t repeat yesterday. Repeat TODAY.

This is the most important step. You’ve had the best chill-out day ever, and now tomorrow is looming. NO. It’s not ‘looming’. Tomorrow is another day of good stuff. Go on, say it out loud. GOOD. STUFF. All day. It’s important not to go backwards, but to go forwards. Use your scheduling technique for work every day. Sift out the important stuff, schedule it, come back to the other things tomorrow. Make sure you stick to deadlines so you don’t get stressed. Give yourself enough time to do these things, and remember to give yourself plenty of breaks when you start to feel the Stress Gremlin hopping on your back again. If you feel your symptoms making a come-back, whack on your ‘happy song’ and listen to it, even if you have to put headphones in. Recognise your symptoms and nip them in the bud, changing it for something you know will make you feel better. Give yourself time every day to truly relax and do something you enjoy, that has nothing to do with whatever makes you more depressed. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Lots of people forget this step, but make sure you do it, so every morning you can wake up with a smile. Or at least a half-smile. 😉 Put your ‘happy music’ on a music player, and leave it on your bedside table. Make sure it’s the first thing you listen to when you wake up. Leave yourself plenty of time in the morning to get ready and have a full breakfast, chilling out before work starts. Spend time with loved ones and friends, but don’t feel pressured to go to any invites you don’t feel up to.

Step 5. Shit does happen.

It’s an unfortunate fact, that the best laid plans, are often covered in cow-muck. But this is life, and we have to accept it happens – but not accept that we want it. When something happens that you weren’t expecting, or something that ruins something you were doing – computer running slow, I’m looking at you – just smile and DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. The world will not stop turning, nothing bad will happen, and everything can be fixed. Accept that it’s happened, don’t allow yourself more than a second’s thought on it, and move on. Always be moving forward. It’s the best way. 🙂

Do all these things, and hopefully, you can feel a little better. HUGE HUGS to you, whoever you are. ❤

The Print-Off ‘I’m Chillin’ Right Now’ Sign

Here’s what it looks like! And right here, I’ve got the link for you to print your own off: Click me here for the link! Print me as much as you like! 🙂 Feel free to print as many as you need, and delete whichever bits don’t apply to you on the poster. 🙂

Depression begone! You're not wanted around here.

Depression begone! You’re not wanted around here.

And you want to talk to someone, you’ll find them all here. Don’t forget the most important thing: you’re not alone. 🙂
Helplines UK

Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927
Website: www.rethink.org

Depression Alliance

Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.
Website: www.depressionalliance.org

CALM

CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.
Website: www.thecalmzone.net

MDF: the bipolar organisation

A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.
Website: www.mdf.org.uk

Samaritans

Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 08457 90 90 90 (24-hour helpline)
Website: www.samaritans.org.uk

Sane

Charity offering support and carrying out research into mental illness.
Phone: 0845 767 8000 (daily, 6pm-11pm)
SANEmail email: sanemail@org.uk
Website: www.sane.org.uk

Mind

Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393
Website: www.mind.org.uk

The Mental Health Foundation

Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Website: www.mentalhealth.org.uk

YoungMinds

Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.
Phone: Parents’ helpline 0808 802 5544
Website: www.youngminds.org.uk

PAPYRUS

Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141
Website: www.papyrus-uk.org

*From the NHS website

Helplines US

U.S. Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433

NDMDA Depression Hotline (support group): 800-826-3632

Suicide Prevention Services Depression Hotline: 630-482-9696

AAA Crisis Pregnancy Center: 800-560-0717

Child Abuse Hotline (support and information): 800-792-5200

Crisis Helpline (for any kind of crisis): 800-233-4357

Domestic and Teen Dating Violence (English and Spanish): 800-992-2600

Parental Stress Hotline (help for parents): 800-632-8188

Runaway Hotline (all calls are confidential): 800-231-6946

Sexual Assault Hotline (24/7, English and Spanish): 800-223-5001

Suicide and Prevention Hotline (Covenant House): 800-999-9999

National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-422-4453

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

National Domestic Violence Hotline (TDD): 800-787-3224

National Youth Crisis Hotline: 800-448-4663

24-Hour National Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-3000

Covenant House Nineline: 1-800-999-9999

Abuse / Violence Child Protective Services: 1-810-412-6109

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Referral Network for Kids and Adolescents In Crisis: 1-800-543-7283

Alateen/Al-Anon for the friends/family of alcoholics: 1-800-813-3105 or 1-800-356-9996

Alcohol and Drug Helpline: 1-800-821-4357

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependancy Hope Line: 1-800-622-2255

Marijuana Anonymous: 1-800-766-6779

American Council for Drug Education: 1-800-488-3784

Eating Disorders Information and Referral Line: 1-800-931-2237

National Crisis Line – Anorexia and Bulimia: 1-800-233-4357

Overeaters Abuse Hotline: 1-800-888-4680

National Eating Disorder Hotline: 1-800-248-3285

Food Addiction Hotline: 1-800-872-0088

American Cancer Society: 1-800-ACS-2345

American Lung Association: 1-800-586-4872

Hotline for Teens Who Cut: 1-800-366-8288

National Depression Association: 1-800-826-3632

Boys Town Hotline (for Girls AND Boys): 1-800-448-3000

Gay and Lesbian Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Hotline for Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgendered Youth: 1-800-347-8336

PRIDE Institute for Lesbian and Gay Mental Health: 1-800-547-7433)

National Alliance for Mentally Ill: 1-800-950-6264

Planned Parenthood (connects you with your local clinic): 1-800-230-7526

Emergency Birth Control: 1-800-584-9911

National STD Hotline: 1-800-1-227-8922

Sexually Transmitted Diseases Clinic: 1-810-573-2090

AIDS Hotline: 1-800-872-2497

NO MEANS NO: 1-877-666-3267

RAINN – The Rape Abuse & Incest National Network: 1-800-656-4673

Family Youth Interventions: 1-810-758-7040

Runaway RAP Line: 1-800-292-4517

National Youth Crisis Helpline: 1-800-999-9999

National Adolescent Suicide Hotline: 1-800-621-4000

Teen Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-949-0057

*From the http://thesafeheaven.org website