Writer’s journey – How did it all happen?

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This is  my writer’s blog about me and my crazy journey to becoming a half decent author.

Well how did I start writing? It was quite odd really. I used to write as a teenager. At the time I had a ginger tom cat called Chester, Mr. Popularity, everyone loved him. He liked to venture afar and we would often have to rescue him. I remember one occasion in particular, my brother and I ended up trudging through the woods, in Blackhall in Edinburgh, to pick him up from a house in the vicinity. He ended up at the most peculiar places. One time he chose to visit a house with thirteen cats!

I told you he liked company. So it seemed natural to  write about cats,  and I kept a diary. My dad was and still is one of my other great sources of inspiration.  He has travelled extensively to the Far East, and Middle East and is a wonderful raconteur.

As far as my writing is concerned the inevitable happened.  I was the typical teenager. I got distracted. I found boys, discos, parties, and my writing suffered. Somehow I didn’t pick it up again for a very long time. This is a regret. A massive regret. But what can I do? I can’t travel back in time, I don’t have a Tardis. So I just have to accept that the time is right now.  You see, I’m still this young girl at heart, just stuck in an older and maybe wiser body. I have experienced more, travelled more, lived more, so hopefully that will make me a better writer.

Several events came together to ignite my desire to write again. First of all I read a lot.  At the time I was reading Dorian Gray and it was definitely a novel that captured my imagination and set my mind free. Also my eldest daughter was studying GCSE Art and I took a sudden interest in art and photography. I’m not saying that I can paint or draw, though I wish I could. No, I enjoyed watching her artistic development and I enjoyed sharing ideas with her and encouraging her.

All of these influences helped me to write my first book, a YA fantasy set in Cambridge, which I hope to publish soon. The female protagonist in my novel is a teenage girl who paints a puzzle of art. But it is by no means a novel simply about Art. She expresses her sadness, and discovers her magical powers, through the medium of painting and well the rest you will find out when you read the book. Lets just say that an awful lot happens and I think that it will keep you entertained!  Well I hope so anyway.

Also I know this sounds crazy but my other source of inspiration was a black cat, a  throw back to Chester.  I had never seen this strange black cat before and suddenly he just started appearing in our garden. There was something different about him. He appeared  like a miniature panther, all glossy and splendid, looking for attention, with his mesmerising eyes, I fell under his spell. He liked to show off, he would disappear into thin air, climb to ridiculous heights, or chase his tail around the garden like a demented clown. He just had to play a part in this book too. Lets just say he has a subsidiary part to a main character, who is male, young and very interesting too, just like him. That was the beginning. Looking back I am amazed that from just a few initial thoughts my idea just seemed to grow and grow. Now my debut novel, is nearly ready for the final edit. How did that happen? I couldn’t be happier in fact if I had a tail, I’m sure I would be whizzing around and around chasing it with excitement!

Photo courtesy of Google Images.

My Kyrosmagica Review of A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Eimear McBride’s debut tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist, to read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator’s head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn’t always comfortable – but it is always a revelation.

Touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma, McBride writes with singular intensity, acute sensitivity and mordant wit. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is moving, funny – and alarming. It is a book you will never forget.

My review:

I have a grave fear that if I’m not careful this review is going to be a Half-formed thing so here goes:

My first thoughts upon finishing this novel were like a stream of consciousness itself. It seemed as if the novel had literally blasted my train of thought and left me with a series of broken uncertainties, which were flooding my consciousness.

It just didn’t seem to fit within my usual  book rating system.

Did I like the novel? No, I don’t think that like is a sentiment you can apply to this particular novel.

Did I love this novel? Definitely not. It was a disturbing read.

But did I admire the person who had written this? Absolutely.

Will I forget it? Most probably not.

In my wildest dreams I could not imagine writing such a novel. No doubt that is why A Girl is a Half-formed Thing has won numerous awards: Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize, the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award, and shortlisted for the Folio Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize, and the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award.

So a difficult novel to review and rate. I found the first paragraph almost incomprehensible: For you. You’ll soon. You’ll give her name. In the stitches of her skin she’ll wear your say. Mammy me. Yes you. Bounce the bed, I’d say. I’d say that’s what you did. Then you lay you down. They cut you round. Wait and hour and day.

Somehow, the writing style became easier to decipher and understand as the novel progressed but trust me when I say it is not a novel to read while wrapped up in your duvet at night with a nice cup of hot chocolate, and fluffy pink and white marshmallows. No, the themes are disturbing, shocking, and sickening. There are brief humourous interludes that attempt to lighten the load but these are few and far between.  In this short novel Eimear McBride tackles sexual abuse, religious fanaticism, love, dysfunctional families and grief at the loss of a family member, in a very raw and exposed way. This is not a novel for the faint-hearted. In my opinion, it should carry a health warning: Read on if you are prepared to enter the dark mind of an abuse victim. This novel is predominantly about a young woman who has suffered dreadful sexual abuse at the hands of her uncle, and her relationship with her brother who has a brain tumour. So not light reading.

The form of writing used in this novel, a stream of consciousness, works because it strips back the story to the bare, exposed elements, leaving very little room for fuller character or descriptive element, and therefore the reader can’t help but feel even more disturbed by the events within the novel. It is just so raw, and painful.

The way that Eimear Mcbride handles the ownership of grief is very startling, the mother and the daughter both want to be in control, to be the focal point of the dying man,  this causes conflict at a time when they should be supporting each other. Grief can make people behave in a very strange, and destructive way, especially if there are deep-rooted relationship issues as there are in this case. The victim of abuse in this novel has been so damaged at a young age that she becomes the seeker of abuse, almost validating the original abuse, in a state of “sin” until this ultimately destroys her.

I can only recommend this to those readers who might appreciate a very sad, but thoughtful read. I will be listening to Eimear McBride discuss her long and difficult journey to getting this novel published at the Cambridge Literary Festival this coming weekend so more details on that to come.

My rating:

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Links:

http://www.cambridgeliteraryfestival.com/events/a-girl-is-a-half-formed-thing/

Interesting interview with the author: http://www.thewhitereview.org/interviews/interview-with-eimear-McBride/

How to draw…

marjma2014:

This is so cute. How to draw a girl who Hearts Books. Reblog via Girls Heart Books.

Originally posted on Girls Heart Books:

…a girl who hearts books.

Start with a pencil.

1. Draw a circle on a stick (near the top of the page or you might run out of space).

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Balance it on a box, slightly squashed. Balance that on two longer sticks, at an angle.

2. Draw two triangles on the side of the circle, saggy ones that point down, like a parrot’s beak. Add a small rectangle on top of the box then 5 ellipses (egg shapes), a big one hanging from the top of the box, two small ones half way down the long sticks and 2 medium-sized pointing up from the stick ends.

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3. Now you can start adding detail – a sticky-up fringe, plaits, ears, nose and a huge smile. Rest two arms in the big ellipse and give them two square-ish hand shapes. Make banana shapes from the box to the knees and then more bananas…

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My Friday Image: Started in a Book Tunnel Ended Up In A Library

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A Tunnel made out of books! Wonder of Wonders. Imaging crawling through it as it  becomes narrower and narrower. Would your thoughts dwindle as you wandered further into its clutches? Or would you linger by the opening and stare in wonder at the sheer size of it? Who knows where this tunnel of books could take you? Anyway, whatever you do don’t pinch any of the books, you’ll spoil the look!

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It’s sunny outside. Washing time.  Air those books!

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If you’ve got time on your hands and you’re feeling romantic? Try your hand at book sculpture.

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Or would you prefer something a bit more traditional?

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Or fantastical?

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John Work Garrett Library

Maybe you’ve got a thing for rare books? Look no further than the Garrett Library ‘s collection of rare books and manuscripts gathered together over two generations by T. Harrison Garrett and his son John Work Garrett, before the latter bequeathed the collection in 1942 to Johns Hopkins University. Today, it is part of the Department of Special Collections at the university’s Sheridan Libraries, with some 30,000 volumes in all, the large majority of which are represented on-line in the Sheridan Libraries On-line Catalog.

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Rijksmuseum Library Amsterdam

Library nut? Visiting Amsterdam? Have you been to the Rijksmuseum’s library in Amsterdam? Doesn’t it look incredible?

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Library of Congress

Or maybe you might consider the US. The library of Congress in Washington D.C. is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections.

Well, I’ve been so distracted with writing this post and finding all these amazing images that I’ve had no breakfast or coffee so with that in mind. I will have to close this off with a few links:

For book sculptures visit these amazing sites:

http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/portfolio-book-cut-sculpture/

http://www.fuckyeahbookarts.tumblr.com

And libraries:

Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/

John Work Garrett Library: http://www.museums.jhu.edu/evergreen.php?section=collections&collection=john-work-garrett-library

20 Most famous libraries in the World: http://www.topdesignmag.com/20-of-the-worlds-most-famous-libraries/

Have you been to any of these amazing libraries?  Or found some wonderful book sculptures? If you have please tell me all about it in the comment field below. I’d love to hear your stories. Breakfast awaits!

Giving Thanks

marjma2014:

This is so lovely, had to reblog from Here I am.

Originally posted on Here I Am:

I just got the Thanksgiving box down on Monday. In the box, I found some of our Thanksgiving thankfulness projects. We haven’t done something every year, but I do have a few mementos. In 2003, we made foam trees. I must have been inspired by a preschool project.

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In 2004, we were thankful that Charlie survived and didn’t take the time to create another project.

In 2005, we made placemats with each of our homemade trees of thanks. They are sitting around our table now and we are all getting a kick out of what we were thankful for back then.

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In 2006, we made bookmarks. I have these hanging on a mirror in another hallway.

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We must have been really busy living and were not that creative in the past 8 years!!  This year we are settling again and are ready for another thankfulness project.

We looked on Pinterest, and…

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How easy is it to be grateful?

marjma2014:

Reblogged from sfsoulspa. Sometimes we have to go through hard times to really appreciate what we have. Also it can happen that an unpleasant symptom can have a positive outcome, e.g. I suffer from ear problems which sometimes make me dizzy. This helped me write a scene in my novel in which the protagonist suffers a similiar episode (not brought on by mundane ear problems),  you may want to read the book to find out what, when it is published.

Originally posted on sfsoulspa:

With Thanksgiving around the bend, there is a lot of talk about gratitude. From boosting your happiness to improved health, there are real reasons to cultivate gratitude.

Gratitude is easy when golden opportunities fall into your lap or when you fall in love. It is also easy to be grateful when you are comfortable and without worry. But what about those days that are challenging?

how easy is gratitude?

Yesterday, i was not feeling well. I went through my day and skipped doing things that were not essential. In the evening i soaked in a hot bath tub by candle light, and drank a grog—a northern European home remedy, in my case consisting of a shot of aquavit with hot water—to sweat out the bug. Then i went to snuggle up under a cozy comforter and topped my medication with Oscillococcinum (a homeopathic flu remedy).

What does this all have to do with gratitude? When…

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Digital Marketing The Possibilities Are Endless

 

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Recently I joined in the Futurelearn Digital Marketing Course. Why you might ask? Well, I figure that any help that I can get to help me get my book published has to be worth investigating. And,  I’m a bit of a perpetual student, I love learning!   I’m no expert, in fact I’m a bit of a novice, but here are some suggested links from the course and a few more that I found myself that I think may be of interest:

Free digital media guides to  create, manage, deliver and use digital media. http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/guides

Temporary text hosting:

http://pastie.org/

http://notehub.org/

Learn how to be an authorpreneur! http://thefutureofink.com/authorpreneur/

‘Padlet Walls’  places to share media like images or text with other learners. http://padlet.com/

‘Welcome to the easiest way to create and collaborate in the world.’ Padlet is free to use, does not require you  create an account, and works on most devices including desktop, mobile and tablet.

Photos

 

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Learn about using photos on google plus. http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/photos/

‘Capture and Share the World’s Moments':  http://instagram.com/#

‘Inspiring photography. Share and connect with the Flickr Community.Stunning photos made easy. All your pictures in one place.': https://www.flickr.com/

https://www.dropbox.com/

“Easily share photos and videos right from the Dropbox website. Share a link to a single photo or an entire album you’ve created, such as for a special event. Anyone who receives the link can take a look, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account. “https://www.dropbox.com/en/help/498

‘Join Pinterest to find (and save) all of the things that inspire you.’ https://www.pinterest.com/

Pin interest basics: https://help.pinterest.com/en/articles/add-edit-or-delete-pin#how’P

‘Your images have never looked better. Unlimited uploads. Unlimited space. Safeguard your high-res photos in the cloud.’  http://imageshack.us/

VIDEO

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No doubt we all know about youtube: https://www.youtube.com/

But, there is also Vimeo: Watch, upload, and share videos : https://vimeo.com/

Facebook and Google groups:

How to create a FB group: https://www.facebook.com/help/167970719931213/?q=how+to+create+a+page&sid=0OK4UtwGVxhISdfMo

‘You can use Google Groups to share information and interact with people who have your passion for a particular hobby, interest, or organization. And you can also share documents and send calendar invites to a group so you don’t have to list people individually.’ https://support.google.com/groups/answer/2464926?hl=en

‘You can use Google+ communities to find other people who share your passion for a particular hobby, interest or organisation. And if no-one’s started a community for what you care about, you can create your own.’ Creating a google + community: https://support.google.com/plus/answer/2872671?hl=en-GB

Facebook groups recommended by award winning author Dianne Harman http://dianneharman.com/blog/five-facebook-groups-i-recommend/

 

Or you may prefer LinkedIn. I tend to associate this one with business, but I suppose plenty authors, use it too.

https://www.linkedin.com/

Enterprise social network:

‘Yammer is a private social network that helps employees collaborate across departments, locations and business apps.’ : https://www.yammer.com/

 

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On-line conversation:

‘Neat Chat is the easiest and fastest way to have an online conversation with a group of friends or colleagues. No signups or software installs are required. You simply use a web browser to communicate via Neat Chat’. : http://www.neatchat.com/

‘Schedule. Manage. Measure':

https://hootsuite.com/

Simon Fogg’s links:

Building Your Platform: Michael Hyatt: https://plus.google.com/+SimonFogg/posts/3QyY5HgwmNC

Podcast: “How to Write Web Copy That Sells”, Ray Edwards: https://plus.google.com/+SimonFogg/posts/HFQMigFwUS1

Storytelling Ads: Social Media is Sweet: A Hootsuite Story: https://plus.google.com/+SimonFogg/posts/eVpUcDdRXwF

“The 5 Elements of a Powerful, Personal Brand”, Michael Hyatt: https://plus.google.com/+SimonFogg/posts/NAMEGiFSuvN

 

 A couple of links I discovered via fellow Futurelearners:
 Amusing marketing approach by Ikea, found the link via Louise Hoffmann, fellow futurelearner : ‘Experience the power of a bookbook.’  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOXQo7nURs0

Friends: The Freezer

marjma2014:

Reblog of Friends: The Freezer from Bound 4 Escape. Love Friends so this was just too tempting. Next time I get scared when I read maybe I’ll follow Joey’s advice!

Originally posted on Bound 4 Escape:

My favorite bookish Friends moment: Rachel finds a copy of The Shining in the freezer. He says he gets scared when he reads it and puts it in the freezer because it makes him feel safer. 

Rachel talks Joey into reading Little Women and it really upsets him…so Rachel offers to put it in the freezer for him.

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

th6J8S2PIM Goodreads synopsis: Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

My review: This final novel in Stephanie Perkins wonderful trilogy has been the hardest for me to review. I began by liking it but somehow I didn’t love it. I loved parts of it but not the whole. But, the ending more than made up for any shortcomings. The ending smashed it.  I read the final few chapters coming back on the bus. I was sitting opposite two young boys, and trying to keep my emotions in check!

This final story is more complex and mature than the previous two books in the trilogy. Somehow with the complexity, certain important aspects of the characterisation are lost. Josh intrigues me, but somehow I just don’t get a full enough picture of who he really is. I like the idea of Isla’s friend Kurt being an autistic boy but again I just don’t quite connect with his character as much as I would have liked to. In previous novels I felt that Stephanie Perkins did an admirable job in the development and portrayal of supporting characters, Lola’s two gay fathers coming to mind.  Isla herself is shy, insecure, and prone to indecision. She is portrayed as being the blank canvas, waiting for her pages to be inked and her story to unfold. Again this idea really appeals to me, using art as an expression of personality but somehow it’s aim is maybe a little lost along the way.

The settings are intriguing. They just seem to be a bit like a faded watercolour painting and yet they should have been anything but with locations such as Barcelona, Paris, New York. Vibrant, exciting cities. So what happened? I think characterisation and location played second fiddle to the sheer passion of Josh and Isla’s love! All the time that they are walking through the streets of Barcelona, we are seeing Barcelona through the eyes of two would be lovers who aren’t really interested in the city sights, all they want to do is get back to the privacy of their hotel room as quickly as possible. When they reach the top of the hill we see Barcelona from a DISTANCE. They RUN past “Gaudi sculptures, Gaudi buildings, Gaudi’s famous lizard fountain, but they barely earn a glance as we whiz by. We only have eyes for each other.”

I like the way that Stephanie Perkins handled the more “grown-up” scenes in which Josh and Isla try to make out, these are often hampered by adults imposing rules on them! One of my favourite sexy quotes: “His lips press deeply against mine, and mine press deeply back. Our mouth open. Our tongues meet. We’re hungry, deliriously so. Even with my eyes closed, the shape of his body flashes before me, lit by the spectacle outside. Light, dark, light, dark. He tastes like champagne. He tastes like desire. He tastes like my deepest craving fulfilled.” This one too: “I trace the ink on my body. His beautiful illustrations are smeared with streaks of gooey chocolate. Reluctantly, I turn on my shower. The steam is already billowing when I climb in. The hot water hits me, and purple-black ink floods down my body. It touches everything. He is everywhere.” Whoa, Stephanie you’re getting carried away! Of the three books this one has the highest rating for hottest action that’s for sure!

HOT PEPPER ACTION! hot-pepper-98945_640 SMOULDERINGfire-142482__180 HOT mirroring-83263__180The final part of this novel managed to reach out and touch a nerve in me mimicking things that have happened to me in my own relationship. I, met my true love when I was very young too. When you fall in love at a young age obstacles seem to stack up, and uncertainties multiply, but if you have someone like Isla’s sister to bring you together as I did, then in the end it may all end happily ever after!

Stephanie Perkin’s final words in her acknowledgment are so beautiful : “Finally thank you to Jarrod Perkins. I’m crying now just because I typed your name. I love you more than anyone. Ever. Times a hundred million billion. Etienne, cricket, and Josh – they were all you, but none of them came even close to you. You are my best friend. You are my true love. You are my happily ever after.”

Highly recommended for readers of YA, Contemporary, Romance.

My rating:

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My Friday Image Antelope Canyon Arizona

antelope-canyon-4036__180 antelope-canyon-4034__180 antelope-canyon-4023__180 antelope-canyon-4025__180 antelope-canyon-4033__180 Let me introduce you to Antelope Canyon. I’m totally captivated by these wonderful photos. The canyons are without doubt one of the most beautiful wonders of the world. I had fun arranging these images into an order, the top few are more shadowed, having less light filtering in than the last. They are all exquisite. Enjoy. Antelope Canyon is located near Page, Arizona, on Navayo, native American tribal land. Antelope Canyon consists of two photogenic slot canyon sections, Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack; and Lower Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew. The Navajo call Upper Antelope Canyon  Tsé bighánílíní, which means “the place where water runs through rocks.” Lower Antelope Canyon is called Hazdistazí (“Hasdestwazi”) by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department), or “spiral rock arches.” Of the two canyons Upper Antelope canyon is the most frequently visited by tourists. This is because  its entrance and entire length are situated at ground level, requiring no climbing. Thank goodness! Like the sound of that! Also, direct beams of sunlight from the openings in the top of the canyon are much more common in the Upper than in Lower canyon. In the summer months these beams occur most often, as the sun is high in the sky. Winter colors tend to be a little more muted. Lower Antelope Canyon is more difficult to visit. Before metal stairways where installed  visiting the canyon meant that you had to climb along pre-installed ladders in certain areas. Even after the stairways were installed, it is more difficult to access Upper Antelope as it is longer, narrower in places, and footing is not available in all areas. Not for the faint-hearted or your granny! Also to leave the canyon, the climb out requires several flights of stairs. So for those who enjoy climbing this sounds the one to visit! Despite this  Lower Antelope Canyon is still a challenge that many photographers can’t resist, and no wonder as the views are breath-taking. Photography within the canyons is no easy feat due to the wide exposure range (often 10 EV or more) made by light reflecting off the canyon walls. Antelope Canyon is a true photographers dream. Many are attracted to come see this wonder of the world. It has been a source of tourism for the Navajo Nation. Since 1997 it has been possible to access the canyons by tour. The Navajo tribe must be so proud of its status now as the Navajo Tribal Park. Well, I’m so glad that I found Antelope Canyon and made it my Friday image. It really makes you realise how wonderful the world is. What a lovely thought to start the weekend with! Have a fabulous weekend.

If you want to see more I’ve posted a wonderful video of Antelope canyon to my Tumblr, here’s the link to my blog where you can see Jason Ward’s stunning video: http://kyrosmagica.tumblr.com/

Photography courtesy of Pixabay: http://www.pixabay.com

 

How are You Using LinkedIn as a Writer?

marjma2014:

Great advice about using LINKEDIN for Writers. Reblogged from Savvy Book Writers

Originally posted on Savvy Writers & e-Books online:

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It took me years until I finally engaged on LinkedIn.  The main reason was, I assumed only business people, job searchers and hiring executives are on this platform.  How wrong I was!  It is a fantastic tool for writers to connect in many groups, posting and participating there, learning from their peers and to publish articles or blog posts.  Only when I learned that almost 95 per cent of all editors and journalists are on LinkedIn, I finally got in full swing.
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Via: PowerFormula for Linkedin Success

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Wayne Breitbarth, successful author of the LINKEDIN BOOK: POWER FORMULA FOR LINKEDIN SUCCESS managed to get answers from over 900 LinkedIn users in a survey about their habits on this popular Social Media Networking site. The info graphic shown above is about his findings.
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Aimed at the experienced business professional who is either skeptical about LinkedIn or looking for…

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