Catherine Mede Writes

Proud New Zealand Romance Writer

Creating an Authors Platform Week 10

Sorry its been a while, had some issues with the new site, and dates and times etc.  But hopefully I have things under control now.

Core ValuesSo we discussed in Creating an Authors Platform No 9 a lot of things, like Google Analytics, Organising Email Lists, Throat Grabbing Headlines, Call to Action at the end of posts, and revamping your About Page.  You may have noticed that I have sorted out my website, and only have three pages now.  I just wanted to simplify things, and have a separate page for those books that will be sold… when I eventually publish them.  And I now have a deadline, so I need to get my butt into gear and start finishing this Authors Platforms or I won’t get it finished before I have a finished book.

This week, we will be looking at Being Everywhere, Searching yourself, Engaging with Fans and Creating Link Love.

No 37 is about Being Everywhere.  You need to be where your readers are.  Use social media like Goodreads, wattpad, Amazon Author Central, Pinterest and Google+.  This is a very interesting point.  I use Pinterest, and I put pictures up there of the people whom I imagine are my characters.  I also sometimes put photos of settings on there too.  I have signed up for Amazon Author Central, Goodreads, but I haven’t used Wattpad or Google+ (or as Catherine Mede) anyway.  With a promotion coming up, I need to get myself out there and noticed, although the first part of the promotion will be about getting me noticed  :)  It will be interesting.  I also have a twitter account, click on all the links to go to my pages and check them out.

 

No 38 – Go search yourself.  Seriously, type in your name or your author name and see what happens. This is what I found… Catherine Mede – Google Search which is quite interesting.  Fortunately it is all me, or about me, I didn’t go any further into the images, but they look like ones I have used on my website.  When you publish a book – google it.  It is always interesting to see what comes up – does it embarrass you?  Perhaps you need to do some work to clean up your image.  Does it excite you?  Then others might find it interesting too.  Well done.

No 39 – Engage with your Fans, let your first commenters and subscribers know that you think they are wonderful and special to them.  They are your biggest supporters, support them back.  Treat these people to special offers and perks, or insider information – like the subscribers to my newsletter will get the book at a discounted price… the actual paperback copy!  Sound like a great idea?  You will have to sign up to find out  :)

 

No 40 – Create some Link Love – People like it when you quote them, or mention them online.  People special to me are Cassie Hart, Zee Southcombe, Kylie Somerville, T G Ayer, Melissa Pearl, Rachael Brooks, J A Huss, Ella James, Deborah Cumming.  They are all lovely people and I love to mention them when I can, and share their websites.  Send people emails to let them know that you loved them on your website!  They will get a kick out of it.   Also, creating a link to their name gives them notification through pingbacks that you have tagged them in your post. (Hey I love you guys!)

If you guys are enjoying this series, don’t forget to head over to Your Writer Platform and check out the other cool ideas they have for budding authors.

 

Body Consciousness and Mental Health

Heart Foundation Healthy eatingI have suffered from depression for a few years, diagnosed for the last three.  In the last 10 years, I have steadily increased in weight, to the point where I wasn’t happy with my body and it made me miserable.  And depression being what it is, is a vicious cycle and the more I got upset, the more my body weight increased.

I have been told by a few doctors that the antidepressants would increase my weight, but I didn’t seriously believe that I would pack on 12 kgs over 10 years – the last 8kgs in the last three years.  And no matter what I did, I couldn’t get over it, I couldn’t lose weight, no matter what I did.

The problem was, I wasn’t really doing anything!  I hadn’t cut back on my portions, I hadn’t cut back on the sugary treats, and I hadn’t cut back on the junkfood.  Whoops.  And because I am a comfort eater (I get upset, I find I am hungry – not for anything specific, just hungry), and therefore the more upset I got, the more I ate.

Diets were something that made me STARVE!  And I mean starve.  If I cut back on any food, I had a tendency to crave it.  Madly.  I have tried all sorts of diets, but nothing really worked, except for two very simple ones.

First is contraversial, its the Fasting Diet, which is actually the wrong name for it.  It is more about fasting – either for 16 hours or two days a week – and they don’t have to be two consecutive days.  And it wasn’t about going without food.  On your fasting days, you cut back the amount of calories you ate to 600 – so your could have breakfast, a couple of small snacks and a nice light dinner.  On the other days you eat normally, but I found that I was tending towards more healthier eating habits on my eating days, preferring vegetables instead of junkfood.

The second, and probably the easiest diet – although again that is the wrong term for it, was to cut out all junkfood for a month.  Junkfood was defined as:  Chocolate, cakes, biscuits, pastries, ice cream, fizzy, chippies (crisps), white bread and fast food (although we did agree that sushi didn’t count as fast food).  Since I have a savory tooth, rather than a sweet tooth, it was bloody hard, and I fretted about it the night before I started, but once I got into it, it wasn’t too bad.

But I did have to re-evaluate my snacking habits.  I have oat bars in my cupboard which had white chocolate in them, so they were out.  Chips, also my favourite snacks was out, as were crackers (generally baked pastry).  I did have ice cream, because I don’t drink a lot of milk, and I need calcium, there is a family history of osteoporosis in my family.  So I was having a milk shake in the evening with ice cream.  Ice cream is recommended by the Healthy Heart Foundation as a way of getting calcium, however only 1 scoop a day (and not a large scoop!!!)

To assist me, I kept a food diary and since I have been taking measurements of my body for as long as I can remember, I had a starting point.  Keeping the food diary is probably the single most motivator.  I was able to see what I was eating, when and how much water I was drinking in a day.  And I was able to compensate accordingly.  Now I drink on average a litre of water (no tea or coffee or cordial) a day.  I am not a big alcohol drinker, but I also recorded this when I did, because I was able to see if there was a pattern there as well.

Another small change I made, was cutting back on sugar.  I went from a teaspoon of sugar in my cup of tea, to a level teaspoon, and I use honey instead of sugar on my porridge in the morning.  Significantly, my sweet tooth has diminished, and I crave sugary foods less.

After 4 weeks, I noticed my body changing shape, and when I did my measurements at 4 weeks, I had lost, a total of 12 cms all up around my body.  That is quite significant.

One thing I didn’t do, was a lot of exercise.  I walk my son to school, and walk around a lot, but not a 30 minute heart pumping walk, so I can’t say that exercise helped, but I know that when I start the exercise, things will change and quickly.  At this point, I am focused on creating a habit, which can take 6 weeks, so at the end of September, I will concentrate on slowly adding exercise into my day.

I am proud of my efforts, and I can confirm that I have lost 2kgs, although I don’t have any scales, and haven’t weighed myself twice on the same scales, but the fact that I can physically see changes is the best part.

I encourage you to take a small step today to improve your lifestyle.  You don’t have to cut out junkfood, it might be just to cut back on sugar, or remove sweet treats from your diet, just one small step can get you started on a healthier lifestyle.

If you struggle with your weight, and want encouragement, feel free to contact me, through the contact form, and I will get back to you with some support.  Sometimes it is hard to reach out to those closest to you, but talking with a stranger can give you the boost you need.

Kicking the Taniwha to the Ground!

C Mead final logoYes, rather a dramatic start to my week, but I’m struggling against a brick wall, and my head is starting to hurt.  So I have decided to take a break from the Taniwha story for a while, and focus on a couple of other projects.

While I am sad to leave Curse of the Taniwha, I am relieved as well.

Sad, because I really wanted to write this story, it was burning so brightly within me, but I couldn’t get the story to evolve the way I wanted it too.  The taniwha was too nice, which isn’t a problem, but when you are doing a retelling of beauty and the beast, you need the beast to be rather aggressive.

I’m happy to leave it now, because during the weekend, we visited Totaranui, which was where I started my Abel Tasman Walk in May.  We stayed at this beautiful lodge called Ngarata Homestead, and I headed north along the remainder of the Abel Tasman track and found a lovely little loop track called Paterea Loop (at least I think that is what it was called.)  While I was walking, I had another little beauty brainwave for another story, involving Maori culture.  I am rather excited about this story, but it needs some incubating.  Will put it in my story incubator and see what comes up.

In the meantime, I haven’t given up on writing altogether.  I have the Cursed Love edits to make – which has been ticking along.  Lots of new dialogue, and after reading a Kris Pearson story over the weekend, needs more vavooom.

I also have Beautiful Stranger that I am working on.  This is an exciting story, which is bordering on erotic, but will have to wait and see.  It is based on the 12 steps of physical intimacy.  I’ve had fun with it so far, but I know that there is more to go, so it is a definite maybe.

So, this month, I am focusing on getting my edits done, then getting it back to my lovely editor for her perusal, and then I can confirm a possible publishing date.  Wow, excited, much!

As for the rest of the year, I have various plans in place, including Ice Planet rewrites – this is a romance, but a sweet romance.  I can really spice this up and make it hot and sizzling enough to melt the planet’s permafrost!  I also have a story that I plotted in May about Running Away – which will start a new series of NZ stories.

So, onward and upward for me  :)

Creating an Author Platform No 9

C Mead final logoHey there, well its been a busy week, with lots going on, including moving my website, so if you visited, and the site was down, then you probably struck at the moment when the move was occurring.  I apologise.  The reason for the switch?  I was on WordPress.com, and discovered that WordPress.org has the better options and features that I want to be able to include, so, with a little help from a wonderful friend called JJ McConachie over at NZ Booklovers, the site has been swapped over.

Yay!

So anyway, on with building our platforms.  I feel like I have quite a nice foundation going into this, and with Cursed Love back, all I need to do is edit it and get it rechecked, then find myself a couple of proofreaders!

Core ValuesNumber 31 – setting up Google Analytics.  At present, WordPress have an awesome feature (Site Stats in the Dashboard) that allows you to see where your traffic is coming from, what they are searching etc, but Google Analytics gives you more.  Most of the people who come to my site are searching for are Life, Writing and Depression.  This can change from day to day, depending on where and when people are checking on.  I have had erotic searched on my site, only because I have it tagged.  So you need to watch what you tag  :)

Number 32 Organise your email groups.  Not everyone will want to read paranormal romance.  Someone might want to read a science fiction romance, or fantasy romance.  Sorting my email groups into subgroups will allow me to do this.  Vertical Response allows me to name my list and allow people to sign up to it.  (By the way, I have one person signed up to my email group.  Yay!!!)

Number 33 – Throat Grabbing headlines.  Ok, so I am guilty of putting up bland titles like “When is it sleep time” and “Nothing to See Here…“.  If you want people to say “I just HAVE to read that article” then you need to have a “Jump up, grab them by the throat and shake them violently until they read it” headline.  Like – AphroInsomniac or Let’s play Blind Mans Bluff – with Swords!  Kim at Your Writer Platform suggests that you check out Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline Hacks.  There are some awesome ideas in there (yes, I have got my own copy) so watch this space.

Number 34 is Include a Call to Action at the end of your posts.  Get your subscribed members to do something – share an article, subscribe to your email list, leave a comment or question.  I have started doing this at the end of my blog posts, to see who (other than Zee and Cassie) out there is reading my blog.  But obviously I’m not asking the right questions.  Maybe I should put a post up full of errors and see who gets the most correct???

Seriously, let your subscribers to connect with you, either through comments or email, get them to share their enthusiasm for your work, because that is marketing your book.

Number 35 – Revamp your About Page.  This is one of the most visited pages on your website, or will be when you become published.  People want to know who you are and what you do.  As shown in my second Author Platform Post I have updated some information about me, but my about page looks rather… dull.  Fortunately, Kimberly has some awesome tips on her website entitled 11 Author Website Must Have Elements.  Go and check them out.

Next week, we will be looking into Share, Where, Fare, and Care  :)  See you next week.

Not creating a platform today!

C Mead final logoI did have a lovely Creating an Author Platform post all organised for today, but it appears that switching Catherine Mede to the new web host has managed to lose the post.  But that’s OK.  I will write up a new one and have it ready for next week.  For today, I am happy to announce that there are some changes coming in my life.  Last year I had to drop a lot of commitments because I couldn’t juggle so many different roles.  And I have just had to drop another one.  As of the end of the term, I will no longer be working as a teacher aide.  I loved working at the school, but in the last couple of weeks, I have been crying at the idea of having to go to work, and that isn’t a good space for me to be in.  So I have decided to finish up, although I have given them a few weeks notice.

Winter mornings

Winter mornings

Hopefully this means that I can focus on writing a bit more, but we will have to wait and see.  First, I have to get my house in order – cleaning and it is spring, so spring cleaning time is upon us, a good a time as any to get some junk chucked, rubbish binned and cupboards cleaned.

I hoped to have Curse of the Taniwha would be finished by the end of this month, however I have been working with my husband every available time.  In fact, this is the first Saturday in a very long time that I am not out working with him.  The reason for this is that my darling son turns 10 tomorrow.  10.  I can’t believe my baby is 10!  So I am taking him and a couple of mates to play mini-golf and go roller skating.  Looking forward to a little fun today.  Next weekend we are going to celebrate the 40th birthday of a deceased friend.  So another weekend free – yay!  Nice to finally relax, and hopefully once the school holidays come about, I am able to have some “me” time again.

So until next week (or Monday, depending on if I get my act together), have a lovely day.  :)

 

Creating An Author Platform Part 8

Core ValuesTC Mead final logohis week we are looking at offline groups, social networking, and writing calendars.

Number 27 involves offline groups.  What the hell is this – some of you may ask.  Easy.  Join a group where you meet face to face.  Shock! Horror!  That means having to go out of the house and actually physically meet with people.  Yes it does.  And for a very good reason.

I am a member of the Romance Writers New Zealand, and we have a local chapter that meets once a month.  As a result, I get some inspiration, some laughs and encouragement from like minded people.  But I can do that online – yes, you can.  But you don’t get that feeling of camaraderie that you get when you meet face to face.  I also catch up with a couple of writer friends and have a write in.  We used to do this on the weekends, but now we have switched to a Monday at the local library, because it is quiet, has a nice atmosphere, and no one really cares what you are up to when you pull your laptop out.

Basically, meeting face to face gives you a chance to leave your house and have some human contact.

No 26 – Social media can be a minefield, but it doesn’t have to be.  In number 12 we were advised to get a social media management tool.  I have got hootesuite for my twitter account.  I use facebook all the time, so I will post in my authors page when I have something to say, and this posts onto my twitter account.  However I don’t use twitter – I barely go in there, except to retweet something, or thank someone.  Having Hootesuite, I am able to schedule tweets to come out around 24 hours, which is helpful when you consider that you are only awake for 16 of them.

You can get social media management programs that will schedule to facebook as well, and of course, you can set up wordpress (and I presume other blog sites) to post to your social media account.

No 27 – get business advice.  Yip, you are about to set up a business, so you need to have some advice from a business professional, be it a small business advice group, Citizens Advice Bureau, or an accountant.  It is important that you talk to someone so that you know what the expectations are, what the tax requirements are and any other details that may be required.

28 – Join LinkedIn.  This is a strange social media group – but since I have signed up, I have found that people have been requesting to make contact with me, because I have writer as one of my interests.  There are even groups on LinkedIn that you can join and connect with others who are in your interests.  I am on there as myself, so I might have to go in and create another account for Catherine Mede.

No 29 – Add to your list of influencers – not only your readers, but those who are big in the industry, other writers, reviewers.  Keep a list of them on hand, because you might actually need them at some time.

No 30 (because there is nothing like pushing the envelope) Create an editorial calendar.  This was something that I did the other day, with an old whiteboard I had.  I put the title of my story, where I was at (writing, editing, proofing) and when I expected to have it finished (end of August 2014, February 2015 etc.)

There is also a really cool website where you can download and write up your own calendar for your events – this can be found at Literautas –   You can create your own calendar there.  I also have a weekly calendar where I write down all those obligations that I have to do (work, volunteer work, appointments) and it allows me to see where I have gaps that I can write in.

We are nearly a third of the way through this exercise.  If you want to get ahead of me, check out Your Writers Platform for more details.

What or Who is a Good Person?

Bangs Head on Desk by Tolan88 @ deviantart

Bangs Head on Desk by Tolan88 @ deviantart

I was going to post today about Perfectionism – as it was a recent discovery of mine, but instead, my lovely psychologist threw me a curve ball.  She decided that we needed to work through one of my beliefs, and it was quite a tear jerking moment.  I had to work through the thought that “I am not good enough”, which is something that I have lived with pretty much my entire life.  We went through the arguments for and against (to work out what are facts and what is fiction) and often it can be hard to find some against’s, although unwittingly, I had done that myself.  I got to a part about parenting – and I am not a good parent – and that started me off again.

So, my homework was to define “a good person” and “a good parent“.

That might seem easy – a good person is someone who is good right?  but what is good?

I asked my husband, and he reckons that someone who is honest, has integrity and trustworthy.  That’s all well and good, but what does that look like?  I wanted a more rounded definition to take back to my psychologist.  My Mum didn’t feel she was able to answer that question.

A good person – what do they do?

A good person is someone who is there for others, is selfless, kind, gentle, able to support and encourage someone in times of need.  They are friendly, helpful, a good listener and someone with sound advice.  Does this sound right to you?  What do you consider to be a good person?

What about a good parent – what does one of them look like?  What do they do?

For me, a good parent is someone who loves unconditionally, gives their time and patience to their child(ren), offers advice, help, but allows the child to make and learn from their own mistakes.  They support and encourage their child(ren) in all that they do.  They discipline them when they need to be, and teach them the basics to a healthy long living life of gratitude.

These are my own thoughts on the matter, but I am curious what other people think?  What is your definitions of a good person and a good parent?  If you don’t want to respond on here, feel free to email me at catherine(at)catherinemede(dot)com.

Please sign up to my newsletter while you are here, be the first to sign up and get the news and views and updates as I progress towards publishing by the end of the year.

Space and Time Discontinuum

Curse of the TaniwhaAnother busy week has been and gone.  And once more I have been scrambling for time and space to do some writing, alone time and pretty much anything else.  I can tell you that I am sleeping better (yay!) and can’t really tell you that I have been doing anything special, just sleeping.

It is over a week now since I started the Junk Food Free August – no takeaways, chocolate, white bread, icecream, cakes, muffins, pastry’s, fizzy drink, biscuits, chips, anything that is fun basically.  I have lost a few centimetres already, but I think that has more to do with an increased fluid intake rather than actual weight lost.  I have found myself eating more fruit bread.  I’m finding it hard to find things to fill me up.  It has been challenging, fortunately it doesn’t count out alcohol, so I can still have a tipple if I have a bad day.

Writing wise, I have managed to eek a few moments in here and there.  But not enough for my liking.  At least I have done two hours this week, which is about an hour more than last week.  I also finished the ending of the Taniwha story, so now I have to work on the middle.  I have some ideas, but I want more conflict – what can I throw at the heroine and the hero to make the situation more dangerous, tricky?  She is accident prone, so I don’t want to focus on her any more.

Anyway, a fresh week awaits.  Lets hope there is more writing time than this week just been.

Creating an Author Platform #7

Core ValuesOK, we are trudging through this, but already I am starting to feel like I am accomplishing something.

Before we begin, an update on some  of the things I have been trying out.

Vertical Response is fabulous.  It is easy to use and looks great.  Can’t wait to start getting newsletters out there, but first, I need some people to sign up!  There is a gorgeous picture of a silver fern to the right of this post.  Click on it, and it will take you to the sign in page.  It looks awesome.

I have signed up to Hootsuite, only to be able to schedule my tweets.  I don’t use twitter much, but as I have big plans coming up, I really need to be able to have tweets scheduled for regular intervals, without me having to sit up half the night to do it.

So, where were we, oh yes, No 21 – become an expert in your field.  Now I know many writers, whom are published, but just don’t feel like they can call themselves authors.  Why not?  You wrote a book and it was published.  Someone liked it.  But you don’t have to be a published writer to become well known.  Offer to teach a class about writing.  I have done this on a couple of occasions at the local school now – teaching year 2 and 3 and year 5 and 6.  I got just as much out of it as the kids did.  It was fun to see them get what I was talking about.  The years 2 and 3, we talked about description – now these are 6 – 7 year olds.  We talked about hair colour, eye colour, then what superpowers their character would have – like laser eyes, ability to fly, able to breathe underwater.  The kids really got into it.

With the year 5 and 6 (9 – 10 year olds, ) we discussed editing, because it takes more than one draft to write a book.  I showed them some of my manuscripts with red scribbles all over it, and explained why changing things can make it sound more interesting, or powerful.

But you don’t have to teach kids.  What about adults?  How about guest blogging, talking about your writing processes?  Offer to talk to a group about writing.  Answer questions on other blogs and forums.  There are lots of possibilities out there.

Number 21 involves HARO – or Help a Reporter Out.  I guess this is an American thing, but does it hurt to try it here in NZ too?  Respond when someone needs a quote on your subject.  How about contacting a reporter about your local writing group – or a up coming seminar about writing.

Follow up on breaking news is number 22.  If a subject comes up in the media, an human interest story that you have written about, contact the local media and let them know you have written a book about it.  Why?  Why not?  It gets your name out there.  Just make sure it isn’t about violent crime or homicide – that would be rather tactless.

A pillar post is new to me.  Basically it is an article that orients your reader to what you are all about.  It reflects your core values or your author brand and answer a question or need.  This one I had to look up – because I really didn’t understand.  Doesn’t this come under the “About Me” part of my website?  Kimberly recommended that you visit Entrepreneurs-Journey.com for a definition, and I think he put it better than I can describe.

 

“Write at least five major “pillar” articles. A pillar article is usually a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. Generally they are longer than 500 words and have lots of very practical tips or advice. This article you are currently reading could be considered a pillar article since it is very practical and a good “how-to” lesson. This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn’t news or time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better.”

 

So basically, write a series of articles about – Writing.  Perhaps your writing process – how you come up with characters, how you write your dialogue, where you get your settings from, how do you plot your story.  All wonderful ideas that can get you going.

I have actually been thinking about this for a while.  Goodness knows I have started a few, but kind of withered off into nothing, because I don’t think I have anything special to share, but someone out there might just have a problem with picking names for a character – and I might just have the inspiration they need.

So next week, we look at offline associations, media scheduling, business advice and LinkedIn.

When is it sleep time?

I have lots of trouble sleeping – in fact I have suffered from insomnia for years. It is only recently that I have been quite conscious of the lack of sleep. 5 hours is a good night for me.

But the funny thing is, there still isn’t enough time in the day! My psychologist is persistently telling me that I need to manage my time better. But the thing is, I have to do lists, and I have a daily planner, but every day, something happens to throw my plans out! How does that happen?

I finally told my husband the other day that I am taking some time out to write. So what does he do? Interferes with MY time. Grrr.

I have been working nearly 7 days a week – at least 6 days. Tuesday is the only day I get to myself at the moment, and I make the most of it, by getting out of the house, because how else am I to have some personal space.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband dearly, and I love spending time with him, but I just wish he would respect my wish of time to myself.

Even at night time, I have taken to sleeping in a separate bedroom because I am so restless at night. I have made myself a nest – quite literally. I got all the furry blankets I own and put them on the mattress on the floor. I curl up in the softness and read, because there is little else to do while you can’t sleep.

Now, I know that some of you will be saying, that the problem is I am reading at night. Well, I actually go to bed. Read for half an hour to an hour, and then go to sleep. I sleep well until about 1:30am. If I can’t get back to sleep by 2am, I read my Kindle. Reading is the only way to quieten down my mind. I do yoga, I exercise, I don’t eat a certain amount of time before I go to bed, I am careful what I watch or the games I play before bedtime, because I know this can affect me, but still – little to no effect.

Of course, it doesn’t help when you have a conversation going on in your brain between two characters… and they don’t want me to forget the conversation, so keep repeating it until I have the opportunity to write it down. Sometimes I wonder at my own sanity!

Once a fortnight, I have a sleeping pill, in the hopes that it will get me back into a regular pattern, but it hasn’t to date. The only time I got some good sleep was when I was sick… and I can’t constantly be sick.

I know that my brain is relatively active, but is this because I am a creative person? Does anyone else have trouble sleeping? Would love to hear what you do to get a better nights sleep.

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