Growth is Uncomfortable

I spent most of September reflecting on my writing and spending time with family. I’ve got tons of unfinished manuscripts in need of work and truth is they are hard to finish. I do not mean hard as in difficult to write. I mean hard as in finding the joy in publishing them.

I have felt bored with the monotony of publishing books. The support doesn’t feel the same. The blog doesn’t feel the same and now, even Self-Publishing doesn’t feel the same.

I am always writing, and I love publishing but I’m no Terry McMillan with millions of readers lined up to read my next book or any other author with multi-city tours lined up to guarantee that the next release will provide a change in routine. I do not mean this to sound pessimistic.

I am not giving up on publishing but those of you who have been Self-Publishing for a while may understand. No real change can get tiring. I have felt like King Solomon when he said, “the making of many books has no end and much study wearies the flesh.” (Ecc 12:12)

I feel myself transitioning to a level I do not as of yet fully understand.

Last week, the revelation came and while I know it’s not the only revelation on its way to me, it’s one I think important enough to share.

Growth is uncomfortable.

This is an exciting phase and every day I am reminded of its promise. Just recently a media specialist contacted me for something I cannot speak on at the moment. These kinds of moments provide me with the proof that I am not going crazy and that perhaps my name is being uttered in rooms I have not walked into yet.

Growth is like strength. It doesn’t feel you are being strengthened when you are in process. It doesn’t feel like growth when it’s happening. It feels uncomfortable and uncertain. I can feel myself changing in a way I never have before. I can almost reach out and touch it.

The next time you feel uneasy and uncomfortable, consider that perhaps, you are growing. Evolving. Blooming.

A little discomfort helps us to grow. The feeling is not fun, but it’s a big part of improving our personal development.

“Routines may make you feel at ease and in control, but what a constant routine really does is dull your sensitivities. Think about the times in your life when you’ve driven the same route repeatedly: after a certain number of trips, you start tuning out most of it. Have you ever had a trip to the office where you barely remember what happened after you got in the car? If you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you might find yourself tuning out much of your life on a daily basis. (Sujan Patel Entrepreneurs, Growth Marketer & Co-founder of Web Profits)

 

To keep from tuning out, I had to stop and think real hard about why I was feeling such discomfort and then I had to accept it, even as I watch people become distant and even as I strive to overcome my own limited thinking.

Brain research shows that putting yourself in new and unfamiliar situations triggers a part of the brain that releases dopamine, the “happy,” chemical. That part of the brain is also said to only be activated when we experience new things.

I don’t want you to think this post is about quitting. This isn’t about quitting. This is about allowing ourselves to grow/level up.

It is tempting to want to revert into that state of normalcy, to remain as we are. It’s easy to go through life unchanged out of fear that this new version of us won’t be accepted or that someone may accuse us of no longer possessing the same moral integrity as before. And how can we not think this way? We’ve been well-trained to think newness and change are inherently bad.

This is not the truth. Not all change is bad and since all change teaches us something, perhaps even change we perceive as bad is not so.

In the words of Maya Angelou, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

Few people enjoy the feeling of being uncomfortable and as we are now a few months away from 2020, time will not wait for us to catch on. My challenge for this month and the rest of this year is to get past that initial feeling of wanting to return to the norm, so I can grow and benefit from that discomfort.

I hope the same for you.

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Writers Who Blog: Spread Your Net Wide

I got a Facebook memory a few days ago that made me smile. It was a post I made about reaching my first 100 blog followers. While I don’t post nearly as much as I used to, what I did in the beginning gave this blog a good boost and has established a system where the blog receives views and new subscribers daily. I am thankful.

I credit a lot of things to that (to include the support of fellow bloggers who share my posts).

I also credit the diversity of what I post and this is what I want to talk about today for those of you who are writers looking to use blogging as one of your author platforms for networking and meeting new readers.

Everyone has to find that thing that works for them. If you are struggling, consider spreading your net wider by diversifying your content.


This isn’t my first blog. This is actually my third blog.

I started my first blog in 2012 and my second blog shortly after that. I named my first blog after my first novel, The Aftermath, and the second one “A House of Poetry,” I dedicated exclusively to poetry. Neither of these blogs did very well, and I eventually deleted the second one after transferring the poems over to this one.

These blogs were dedicated to one kind of content. On my poetry blog, for instance, I posted poetry and nothing else. I did not talk about myself, my life, my likes or dislikes. Every post was a poem. Some of them got good feedback but mostly, the blog sat there. Lonely. Thirsty. Empty.

When I started this blog, I changed my perspective on blogging. While I did not do a good job with naming it (named this blog after a book I was writing…authors…not a good idea…chances are you will write other books…name your blog after yourself), I decided I would widen my net and diversify my content. Every day I was posting something different. News, music, random thoughts, poetry, quotes. I took part in challenges (like Colleen’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday) and took the Writer’s 101 Blog Course offered by WordPress.

I was posting five and six days a week, following other bloggers and commenting on their blogs. I met blog and author friends I am still in touch with today. I reblogged other people’s posts and promoted them on my social media. I followed the blogs of people who had been blogging for a while and applied their advice. Jason Cushman’s Opinionated Man blog was a huge help in understanding things like hashtags and such.

In the beginning, I was obsessed with growing my blog. I was nominated for blog awards so much that after 13 nominations I stopped doing the Blog Awards (you can still find them on the blog awards page up top).

Before I knew it, three months had passed, and I was over 300 subscribers in.

After a while, I switched it up and started sharing blog tips with others so new bloggers can level up their blog too.

I also started sharing writing tips based on my experiences that may be helpful to others and publishing book reviews.

I was eventually included in Reedsy’s Best Book Review Blogs list where I remain today.

My rate in the beginning was about 100 subscribers a month.

As the blog grew I did away with the WordPress part and upgraded to a plan that would allow me to use a dot com domain name for a bit more professionalism (I was never interested in going self-hosted).

Writers, Spread Your Net Wide: Diversify Your Content

I don’t have millions of followers, of course (I still consider this blog one of the little guys …I should be much further along by now hahaha). But what set the stage for this blog’s foundation in the beginning was being myself, posting about more than just my writing, interacting in the blog community and celebrating every step of the way. Most importantly, I actually enjoy blogging so I was learning and having fun.

Now, I have to say it. It’s important that writer bloggers are authentic. A different topic every day was something that worked for me but that doesn’t mean it will work for you too. Post consistently and be authentic with your content. Talk about the things you like, your life, the things you are passionate/knowledgeable about. Don’t try to mimic someone’s style or repost information from other people too much. Be yourself.

What I’m saying is, there is more to blogging than drafting a post and hitting the publish button.

If you are struggling with your author/writer blog, consider diversifying your content. Spread your net a little and try to understand how to blog outside of posting your stories. What are tags? How do we use them? How does pictures enhance the post? Is my follower button visible so people can follow me? Am I following anyone else? Have I supported someone else blog? How does my blog platform (in this case WordPress) work?

…and so on

Just something to consider.

How Blogging Consistently Helps Readers Find You

This is an informative post for any writer looking to use blogging to build an author platform. I have said this before (but hey, who am I?) that blogging consistently is possible without taking away from writing and publishing books.

Blogging is part of your branding; if you are confused about your branding, you will be confused about what to blog about. Think about it: if you knew exactly what you were going to write about each week, how much easier would that be? – Rachel Thompson

Even if you are not being paid to blog it is still helpful to helping you to find more readers (which helps you to get paid kind of indirectly). Readers and authors I’ve met through blogging are still among my biggest supporters.(Blogging consistently also helps you to…wait for it…grow your blog).

Below are three links. Two are from Rachel Thompson and the other is an older article I published to this blog three years ago on how blogging between books has been helpful to me. (read more articles on blogging from me on the Blog Tips page). Enjoy.

How Blogging Consistently Helps Readers Find You

4 Ways You Can Make Time to Blog

Between Books: When the Blog Comes in Handy

Oh, wait! Also see…

Blogging and Time

Since I wear glasses now, I had to give the avatar a new look.

A Poem is Born

Photo by Marc Schulte on Unsplash

Not all poems are conceived in light

Some of them are buried in darkness

Surrounded by dirt and soil

gritted teeth

and clenched fists.

Sometimes the lyric is a resurrection of rage

a fire that is only quenched through spilled ink

on blank pages.

Sometimes poems are tears

because not all compositions are conceived

in well-lit rooms

some poems are seeds that only grow in darkness

or did you not know that is how seeds grow?

Hidden, covered and planted in the dirt

the sun coming in from someplace outside of itself

water pouring in from someplace outside of itself.

Some sonnets are crushed grapes

crumpled and left for dead

or did you not know that is how wine is made?

Something fermenting

festered and developing into something worse.

Some poems are nearly dead

before they reach the light.

Or did you not know that is how Messiah rose?

from the grave

from the pit

from the earth.

When you feel that you cannot write

that your life is a laughing contradiction

thrown back into your face

a joke everyone gets but you

when your hands tremble with uncertainty

too weak to hold the pen

too fragile to unvirgin the page

Write anyway.

Because not all poems are conceived in light

some of them, the best of them

are buried in darkness

and covered in dirt.

until suddenly, like a sprouting seed

a poem is born.


REMINDER: Don’t forget to preorder Keep Yourself Full in ebook below. Free with Kindle Unlimited.

Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER

CLICK HERE TO MARK AS WANT TO READ ON GOODREADS

A Word of Encouragement for Independent (Indie) Authors / Publishers

Let’s just say May was a trying month for me. I had a birthday but otherwise inwardly, mentally, I struggled. And while I am not ready to talk about it, I want to use this as an occasion to lift you in case June is that month for you. In case July is that month for you. In case August is that month for you, and so on.

This is the story of a boy, his father, and a donkey. The man and his son went to town with the boy riding the donkey and the father leading it. They came upon a group of people who criticized them, saying, “hey, what are you doing? How could you let your father walk? He should be on the donkey!” Listening, the man and his father switched places. Now, his father rode on top the donkey and his son walked. They walked and came to another group of people who criticized them, saying, “how dare you have your son walking!” The boy and his father then tied the donkey to a pole, and both carried the donkey. They came to another group of people who laughed, saying, “that’s so silly! Why would you carry the donkey? Haha.” Eventually, the donkey fell off the pole and it exhausted both father and son.

I have summarized a story many of you already know or have heard before. Sometimes it is not the father and son but the husband and wife. The moral of the story is you can’t please everyone and if you try by listening to everyone, you will find yourself confused. As an Indie Author, I want you to remember your journey is and always will be unique. While I can give you an insight into my experience and while your experiences can be very similar, it will never be exactly the same. If everyone did things the exact same way, there would be nothing original. Your purpose differs from mine so your experience will be different. I’ve heard so much about Self-Publishing and I just have to shake my head because I have lived the complete opposite of the advice I read. If I heeded everything I read I would be just as silly as the father and son who thought it would be wise to carry a donkey on a pole. While this is a fictitious story it is also real. How many of us are carrying donkeys because people disagree with everything we do? All the father and son had to do was keep moving and block out the noise. And that’s all you have to do.

For a short stint in High School, I tried out for the track team. My gym teacher begged me to do it because she admired how I ran. What I learned is if you start out fast, look behind you or beside you it will slow you down and burn you out before you make it to the finish line. You got to stay in your own lane, keep your eyes in front of you and pace. Start off steady and pace, breathe. This is how you win. You gotta find the pace right for you and ignore what other people are doing or saying because it can discourage you from what you are doing. It is the equivalent to starting a race by going fast. Starting too fast is a common mistake. When someone runs at a pace that is faster than his or her capabilities, it’s entirely counter-productive. Fatigue will set in and force the athlete to slow down later. This is how you lose. At the end of the race you are moving slower when you should run faster. If you paced and stayed the course in the beginning, you would win.

 

Independent – Free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority.

 

Think about that.


The Lit Mag is out!

>>Order in Print or Digital Here<<

*Free digital version when you get it in print!
*When sharing about the magazine on social media be sure to use the hashtag #LitMag! Thanks so much!

Have you entered your poem into this year’s contest yet? Click on the link below to learn about the prizes, guidelines, and more for a chance of publishing in next year’s issue.

>>>Enter the Contest Here<<<

*We need help with promoting this year’s contest! If you would like to help me to promote, comment below and I will send you a copy of the flyer. I prefer to send it to you so that it’s not pixelated or grainy from screenshots. You can also reblog the original post (Click link above) Tweet or Facebook out the link.

Blog Break

I am scheduling one more interview that will go live before taking a break from this blog but you can still send your questions in so they can be scheduled for when I return.

Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. 

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Karina Bartow

What is your name and where are you from?

I’m Karina Bartow from Ohio, USA.

What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?

It’d be overlooking the Eiffel Tower and would have an inspirational quote on the wall, a chic, white leather couch, and a Frappuccino maker!

What do you hate most about writing advice? What do you love?

I hate when people give me ideas for stories because they’re usually pretty offbeat and aren’t suited to my style. I appreciate it, though, when others encourage me not to quit and when my mentors offer suggestions about plot twists.

In your own words, what is love?

I expressed that in my newest novel, Forgetting My Way Back to You. It’s living through and reflecting on the bad moments but wanting to be together, regardless. There are always problems, and relationships end because of them. It’s easy to give up on a fleeting feeling, but that isn’t the case with real love.

Does blogging help you to write?

It does keep my creative processes flowing and keeps me in shape, I suppose, but it takes away a lot of time from my usual writing. I guess it’s a love/hate relationship.

Blogging does take a lot of time. I get it. What kind of music do you like?

I enjoy almost everything from oldies to pop to (some) country.

In your own words, what is humility?

Humility is accepting that you’re flawed. You can still be proud of your abilities, but you have to recognize that others can and will be better. I think it’s also realizing that your ways and opinions aren’t law.

I dig it. Would you like to have children?

Yes, because they’re fun, genuine, and change your outlook on life.

Awwue. Right? Why is writing important to you?

Writing gives me freedom. Having Cerebral Palsy, there aren’t many things I can do on my own, but writing is one exception. Every idea and keystroke is mine alone—unless I’m on a deadline and need help typing. Plus, I’m free to create plot lines without being barred by reality.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, and Google Play Store.

That cover is so fun looking! What genre do you write in, why?

Though I’ve written love stories, I mainly write mysteries. I enjoy sculpting different twists and turns to make readers keep guessing. That said, almost all my mysteries have a romantic element to them because I “love love!” ♥

Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?

I’m a big baseball fan, and I also love shoes.

Thank you Karina for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Copyright ©2019 Karina Bartow.

 

Bio.

Karina Bartow grew up and still lives in Northern Ohio.  Though born with Cerebral Palsy, she’s never allowed her disability to define her.  Rather, she’s used her experiences to breathe life into characters who have physical limitations, but like her, are determined not to let them stand in the way of the life they want.  Her debut novel, Husband in Hiding came out in 2015 and was well-received by readers.  Her second, Forgetting My Way Back to You, was released in October 2018 by Vinspire Publishing and has been praised by reviewers.  She may only be able to type with one hand, but she writes with her whole heart!

To learn more, visit www.KarinaBartow.com

Be sure to follow Karina online!

Facebook-https://www.facebook.com/karina.bartow.58

Twitter-@KarinaBartow

Instagram-@karina.bartow

Blog-karinabartow.wordpress.com


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. *Looking to promote poets all April!*

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Khaya Ronkainen

Today, I’d like to welcome Khaya Ronkainen. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Khaya Ronkainen. I was born and bred in South Africa, and I now call Finland my second home.

South Africa in the houusee. What was your childhood dream?

To become a teacher. I have huge respect for teachers. I talk this, and also the reasons why I never took up the occupation after all, in the “About” page of my site.

Nice. We’ll be sure to link that below. In your own words, what is humility?

Humility is not a low opinion of one’s self but an awareness that there’s always room for improvement, even if one is confident in their abilities and skills/talents.

Absolutely agree. Who’s your favorite Historical figure?

Nelson Mandela, because he gave me a voice. Most people are aware of apartheid system and its laws that prohibited many things in South Africa. For those who do not know what apartheid is, I suggest a read that sheds some light on the nature of racial injustices at the time, Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, a South African author. I read somewhere that if one wants to understand a country, they must read its authors. So I hope you’re inspired to pick up the book if you’ve never read it.

Awesome. What is the most thought provoking book you’ve ever read?

Animal Farm by George Orwell. It’s the first influential book I read that showed me the power of a written word, and opened up a whole new world. I have to thank my English teacher, Mrs. Roos, during my high school years. She knew how to activate young minds and keep them engaged through literature.

Available now on Amazon

Loved Orwell’s 1984. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer?

It’s often difficult for me to describe what I do to people who don’t write or create in any other form. Because what I do, writing, largely depends on an exaggerated inspiration or the elusive muse that holds me hostage, but with no promise of real money.

The most exciting thing?

Dreaming stories into being, that is, the gift of imagination.

You said, there’s no promise of real money in writing. With Indie Publishing being as successful as it is these days, do you think that’s changing? In what way can we improve how writers are paid?

Certainly, there’s no denying the success and benefits of indie publishing; total creative control, higher royalties, supportive indie communities, and so on. More importantly, indie books are doing well as traditionally published books, when it comes to e-publishing, in some genres.

When I talk about no promise of real money, I’m not speaking for all writers but my own writing, which is mostly poetry. Let’s face it, poetry is a difficult genre to sell. My observation is that people love poetry or at least, the idea of poetry, but are not so eager to buy poetry books.

We also know that no one goes into poetry for money. Poets still have to hustle and take regular jobs in order to earn a living. So, perhaps, I’ll rephrase your question, “In what way can we improve how writers are paid?” with “How can we support poets, as readers, and stop undervaluing their work by expecting to get it for free?

As you can see, I’m passionate about this topic. But I’ll stop here.

No, keep going! I love the passion and you are absolutely right. While no one should “poet” for money, no one should do anything else for money! You shouldn’t embrace any path for money specifically and yet we must eat. Looking at it this way, why is poetry or writing…why is Art in general, not expected to be profitable? Something to think about.

I suppose I don’t have to ask what genre you write in…

Poetry, because I like its brevity and the immediacy it creates. Fiction (semi-autobiographical works) because I like to blur the line between fact and fiction. I’m also a horror genre “visiting writer.” As a matter of fact, I’ve recently published my second poetry chapbook, a small collection of dark poetry.

Available now on Amazon

Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?

Nature is my playground and a playmate, my husband. Seriously, I do all sorts of outdoor activities, and I draw huge inspiration from nature.

I can see that about you! Beautiful. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?

Taking a sabbatical in order to go backpacking through Asia.

Thank you Khaya for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Copyright ©2019. Khaya Ronkainen. photo used with permission.

Bio

Khaya Ronkainen is an independent author, writer, poet, public speaker and many other things. She currently lives in Finland with her husband.

Her work often examines duality of an immigrant life, cultural identity, relations among immigrants, and nature. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Seasons Defined and From the Depths of Darkness, both available at Amazon Kindle.

She is currently at work on her debut novel about growing up in South Africa during apartheid era. Learn more about the writer and her work or connect via her blog at www.khayaronkainen.fi.

You can also find/connect with Khaya at:

Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07DGT7683

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/khaya.ronkainen/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18097702.Khaya_Ronkainen

Blog: http://www.khayaronkainen.fi/


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE.