I need a rubber neck!

Writers, how is your neck health? Read on about my experiences, this may help!

Wouldn’t it be great to have a rubber spine? I often think that. With so many hours spent at my computer, I often have to attend to my neck muscles even though I am careful how I sit and I do pay attention to my posture. I’m sure it’s a common problem for writers.

My neck issues first started in my early teens. One day, at school, I found I couldn’t move my head from left to right, I was stuck looking to the left. I didn’t know why it was stuck but when I got home, my mum said “oh, you’ve got a crick in your neck.” She got out a heat lamp and I had to sit in front of it for 20 minutes at a time until my neck began to ease.

For many years after that I visited osteopaths and physios approximately once a year. Their treatment worked for several months at a time before I would start to experience neck problems again. I didn’t stick with the same osteopaths, I would switch according to where I lived. Someone recommended a sports physio and he tried acupuncture which was good. But then when my problems continued he suggested traction. Now, my mother had had traction over the years for her far more serious spinal problems and she swore by it so I didn’t hesitate to agree with him. After the first session I didn’t notice any difference and the pain continued. He did another session and the pain got worse. I told him and he gave a funny little grin and said I would need more sessions. I went along with it for a little while but as things got worse instead of better I headed to my GP who blew his top. He told me to squeeze his fingers so I did and he said “no, I said squeeze my fingers.” I tried but I had no strength. He sent me off with a flea in my ear to have an MRI . “Don’t you ever go to that physio again,” he said, “he didn’t give you so much as an x-ray to find out what the problem was!” My GP was furious.

The MRI showed a narrowing between vertebrae but thankfully nothing too serious. For a few years I was given really good NHS treatment but there came a point where all they could offer were exercises which were fine. They did help but I felt I needed more guidance so I decided to try yoga. I didn’t like going to classes so I did a search on YouTube and found a lady by the name of Adriene. I’ve never looked back, I really wish she had been around all those years ago when I was struggling. Thanks to Adriene I manage my neck issues perfectly. It has taken commitment and practise but since I found her, I’ve never needed to see a physio again.

So if you are a writer (or someone who spends a lot of time on a computer) and suffer with neck/shoulder issues, I can totally recommend Adriene. Just search for her on YouTube and you will find she focuses on specific parts of the body as well as doing more general workouts. I’m not on a commission for directing you to her, all I’m letting you know is that it worked for me. If you are worried about a spinal problem, it’s always best to check with your doctor first, please do that.

It’s always nice to be comfortable when you are writing!

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Switching – my method of doing the things I’m not so comfortable with.

It’s a beautiful Norfolk day as I sit here on my balcony writing this. Instead of sunbathing, typically I’m writing, well actually I’m doing both but one by default!

Today I want to share with you some of my methods to motivate and block out negative thoughts, mostly learned during lockdown. This is connected to writing but can be applied to most life situations.

Luckily I’ve never struggled much with motivation. If the idea of a story bites, I’m off, burning to write it. For me, that works with any idea, as soon as I think of something, I want to make it happen. But like many other writers, I do sometimes struggle with self belief or a need to organise myself or I have to stop myself avoiding the jobs I hate.

When the COVID 19 pandemic hit last year, it came as a blessing in disguise. Suddenly I found myself getting up early, doing yoga, learning to meditate, finding out how to do simple coding, completing a cycle challenge for charity and writing a book of short stories – The Isolation Sex Stories. Instead of life getting in the way of the things I really wanted to do, suddenly, I simply did the things I wanted to do (within the safety guidelines of course). Lockdown gave me time to breathe, enjoy my own space and company and evaluate what I really wanted from life.

I know I was lucky, COVID has been a cruel visitor to so many.

When I spoke to friends, I found that some of them had quite liked the first six weeks of the world shutting down too. The later lockdowns were more difficult to get through. Now that peaceful time has well and truly passed and I’m back to trying to organise myself to get as much done as possible which isn’t easy with all the interruptions and distractions of the outside world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I’m enjoying a lot of the normality that has returned but my mind races again as I race to achieve all I want to and it can be frustrating.

I’ve learnt to look for answers from others on how they cope with the onslaught of everyday living, achieving goals and fulfilling ambitions. During my search on YouTube I came across a lady by the name of Mel Robbins. I watched an interview with Mel who came across as extremely honest about the troubles she had endured and how she now makes decisions using the 54321 method. I have in the past used a different method to avoid doing things I know I shouldn’t, like drinking wine every night or thinking of someone who has annoyed me or to avoid a horrible memory. I used to call it ‘switching’. The minute I thought of something I knew I shouldn’t think about I’d switch the thought to something more positive. It’s easier said than done but if you practise it, it really does work. It works in reverse too. If you procrastinate or put things off, which I admit I used to do from time to time, you simply switch your thoughts to getting that thing done without letting any negative thought enter or pull you back. You force the positive thought into your mind before letting the negative thought take hold. Mel will no doubt explain it better than I have so take a look. (Caution: Mel uses some colourful language at times so be warned!) Mel Robbins

Like everything else in life, this can be applied to writing. If you are thinking, ‘I don’t have a good idea for a story.’ Replace that thought with, ‘where can I find a good idea for a story?’ If you think, ‘I’m not a good enough writer,’ switch to thinking of something you have written in the past that you are proud of. If you think, ‘I can’t face promoting my work,’ switch to thinking, ‘how can I find a way to promote my work that I will enjoy?’

Ali Abdaal, again a YouTube motivator says that you need to work at the jobs you feel weakest at or like the least rather than always turning to the ones you find easiest or like the most as that’s the only way you will learn. This is very good advice. I always hated maths at school and whenever I have to do something figure related it gives me an unpleasant feeling deep in my gut. When I set up my first business I made myself learn spreadsheets and how to do figures. I even had to present a business plan to the bank. This was way out of my comfort zone but with support and determination I did it. I had to switch from thinking, ‘I hate maths,’ to forcing myself to be interested in it. Instead of avoiding figure related work, I don’t think too much about it, instead I try to throw myself into it before I think too much and end up avoiding it. This must be one of the most useful techniques I have ever had to learn!

What does maths have to do with writing? Well, if you are an indie author, unless you are doing it as a hobby, it is like any other business, the figures will have to add up. You will need to study marketing, how to promote yourself and your product. Some people are natural at this but many are not. There is a lot of advice available, but you will need to separate the wood from the trees or you could lose a lot of time and money.

Learn to love promoting yourself and your work, it can be fun.

Something I never used to do was ask other people to help. I was so shy and I still find this difficult. This time when I published my short stories I still felt shy about promoting them but with the help of a very talented professional I actually did the launch live on Facebook. It was nerve wracking to begin with but once I started reading, I began to relax and even enjoyed it. Seeing the comments from the viewers afterwards was one of the best experiences ever! They had been discussing the book between themselves as I read. It was heartwarming and gave me huge confidence in going forward to promote the book. I’d never have done this without help so if you can find someone who will help you, do it.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to other writers. I find Twitter a great platform to meet other authors and book reviewers. It seems to be the most interactive and supportive. #Writingcommunity is a useful tag to visit and use. By reading the experiences of others, you can only learn.

Every week I will share what I hope will be useful information for you.

If you are an indie or traditionally published author and would like to be featured on this website please email me at myriadlifebooks@gmail.com for further details. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

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This week on the balcony… the tomatoes have been coming thick and fast now the sun has finally made an appearance. I’m waiting for my chilli peppers to turn red but I’m not sure they ever will! It hasn’t been a good year for strawberries, maybe I didn’t get them early enough or there hasn’t been enough sun.

Autumn is creeping in and soon I won’t be able to work out here (unless I buy a heater…) so I’m making the most of it. If you write outside, send me a picture and I’ll feature it on the website, I’m always interested to see where people create their masterpieces!

Every week I learn something new, here I share it with you…

In my hunt for places to promote my short story books I spotted an author on Linkedin mention a website named AllAuthor.com so of course, I popped along to investigate.

You can use AllAuthor for free or pay to upgrade. I was impressed at the number promotional tools you can get for free. My budget for promotion is small so anything free at this stage is very welcome. I already had my books on Goodreads but you can’t spread the net wide enough when you are marketing your books so I’m always on the hunt for possible outlets.

It’s easy to sign up to AllAuthor and you can generate mock up banners, gifs, video banners, book teasers and AllAuthor will also create tweets to promote your books. Every week you will get emailed a mock up banner for you to post on social media or however you wish. I couldn’t believe how much you could get totally free! It’s a fun and very useful site to use.

It is simple to add the URL for your books and start promoting straight away.

AllAuthor run fun things like cover competitions for you to enter (again this is free). You can add book awards, connect with other authors, add quotes.

If you have some spare marketing cash you can upgrade at a pretty affordable price. There are plenty of good reviews to encourage you.

If you are a reader it’s a great way to find new authors books and you can even buy signed copies.

I’m not being paid to promote AllAuthor, I just want to share information with you that I pick up along the way, totally impartial tips!

Let me know if it works for you or if you know of any other sites you’d like to recommend to writers and readers.

In other news I had a fabulous little crop from the balcony garden this week. At last the tomatoes ripened and I had a handful to pop in a salad. I’m excited to see that it won’t be too long before I have some red hot chilli peppers to enjoy too. The weather has turned wet so I’m stuck inside writing this week. Fingers crossed I’ll be out working on the balcony again next week…

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Because everyone loves books – don’t they?

This is my third blog post for MyriadLifeBooks so hello there and thanks for taking the time to visit.

If you love reading books, writing books or have a thing for very nice notebooks this could be the site for you. I want this to be an interactive site where you leave your ideas and comments too. If you feel you have something useful or informative to say, I would love for you to do a guest post here.

I am also on the look out for authors who would like to be featured on this site. Check out my interview with Angela Bardot, the first author to feature here. In time I’d like to build up a Select 20 who feature for three months at a time so if you are interested please fill in the contact form at the bottom of this page for further details.

I would also like to build a directory of book illustrators, editors and proof readers so if you are interested in being listed please do get in touch (via the contact form below.)

Who am I?

I am a photographer who also writes. It’s hard to decide which I like best so I think I better call it a draw. That’s a point, I love drawing too but I hardly ever get to do it!

I’m based in the amazing county of Norfolk UK which is lucky for me because there is a lot to photograph and write about here. I live by the River Wensum in the city of Norwich, which is perfect. The river wildlife is ever entertaining and diverse, from the odd seal who decides to take a break from the coast, to a night-time fishing heron. The Swan Massive glide up and down regally as if they are the true owners of the river (they are). There are Egyptian geese, ducks and pigeons plus a stray dove who chooses to hang out with them whenever a human turns up with some nibbles. The seagulls provide a cacophony of sound and are typically experts in spotting chips or any food that gets dropped. Occasionally a cormorant will drop by too. Let’s not forget the bats who provide spectacular air displays at dusk and the less popular rats who boldly go wherever they wish – until Rentokill arrive…

I am also a real beach bum too when I get the chance, we are spoilt with amazing coastline here and I like to dip in and out of the Norfolk Broads (see more info about these further down) so I truly appreciate it all and I hope my photography reflects that.

Norwich is a fascinating place and even after all my years here I am still learning more of the history and what makes the city tick. It is interesting to watch it grow and evolve and this provides new photographic and writing opportunities all the time.

Writers of course use notebooks, (as do many people) so it occurred to me that I should produce my own collection using the images I am always out and about taking. I’ve no idea what took me so long to have this brainwave when it’s obviously a no-brainer, but sometimes I am slow like that! It means that you can enjoy the Norfolk views whenever you have to write something down. Even with people using their phones, tablets, pc’s etc there is nothing like the feel of a good notebook. I use one everyday despite the fact I write notes on my phone too, just because I enjoy writing in them and it makes a pleasant change from typing. It would also be a shame to completely lose the art of handwriting.

As well as the beautiful Norfolk scenery, my notebooks also feature my buddy Gavin the Gull with his handsome good looks and cheeky quips. He’s a gull with attitude, that’s for sure! There are quite a few of those notebooks as he’s always got something to say…

If you are a sailor or simply love life on the water, check out my Boating Logbooks. They are particularly useful here in Norfolk with all the waterways but of course could be used anywhere. The total area of the Broads is 303 square km (117 square miles) made up of 7 rivers and 63 Broads, most of which are less than 4m deep. Just in case you were wondering. (Info source Herbert Woods.)

There will be other themed notebooks added to the collection as it grows so keep checking back to see what’s new.

I like to keep my notebooks even when they are full up. Sometimes it is fun to check back to see what was happening last year or in any year for that matter. I love quality paper and tactile covers too, so of course, my notebooks have a lovely soft back 220gsm matte cover and 90gsm internal paper. Quality is important.

New notebook designs will be added regularly. If there’s a particular format you’d like to see, or if you need a cover designed for your own notebook/book idea please get in touch via the contact page. As an indie author myself, I enjoy designing eBook covers so you will see a collection of these for sale on this site in the not too distant future. Take a browse if you are already an author or even if you are thinking you might like to write a book one day. Look out for tips that I’ve learnt along the way and information I continue to learn. I know how hard it can be so it’s good to support other writers where possible.

I will share my photography, introduce you to authors whose books I think you might enjoy, write the odd book review and anything else bookish that catches my eye. Some of the author information will be repeated or expanded on my author site PetraKidd.com so it’s worth following that blog too if you’d like to find out more.

Before I sign off, let’s not forget my balcony garden, I do like to share updates on my micro fruit and vegetable farm. I work out there when the sun shines, listening to the sounds of the river and day dreaming about the people who pass by… they could well end up in one of my stories one day.

Please browse the site, I hope you enjoy it and that you will come back again soon.

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Gavin the Gull

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Every day I learn something new… here I share it with you.

If you are a new author or anyone trying to sell a book of some kind, here is a website you might find useful. I know I do!

Now and then I make great discoveries and if it saves you time and energy so much the better. We are all here to learn.

Lately, (on Twitter) I have seen a few writers wondering about how to make their links universal. I had the same problem and with a bit of research I came across this site booklinker.net. If you have published your book on Amazon but want to include as many countries as possible in marketing links you post on social media, through Booklinker you can shorten the URL and direct whoever clicks on the link to the Amazon site of the country they reside in.

This saves having to cut and paste links from amazon.com, amazon.es, Amazon.It etc to get your book(s) seen all around the world. It’s a really useful timesaver.

You get a choice of link styles as you can see below. I generally use mybook.to but I guess it is good to mix it up if you feel so inclined.

Booklinker also logs which countries traffic comes from so that you know which ones are providing the most hits on your links. As Amazon KDP doesn’t give you this kind of information it’s really useful and interesting to have access to.

Here is what the information looks like for one of my books.

I am sure you will be happy to know that BookLinker is a free tool, provided by the intelligent link management company Genius Link, for authors, publishers and marketers to create localised links that work no matter where in the world your audience is. Simply sign up and go! There is a premium option available too.

Of course there are other sites that do similar URL shortening so you might want to research those too.

I’m not being paid to promote Booklinker, I’m simply writing posts like these because I know how frustrating it can be trying to find the right information sometimes. I will keep my post tips short and sweet on the whole as again, when I’m looking for information I like it when the article cuts to the chase.

Please leave your comments here if you have any tips on this topic.

Of course, if you’d like to buy a notebook to show your appreciation of free information, that would be great! But no pressure. Everytime you do buy a notebook it helps me create more and helps fund my writing ambitions as PetraKidd.com.

You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – it’s good to connect!

Here’s an idea, please subscribe below to get my blog updates…then we can keep in touch. If you have a blog, let me know about it and then I can follow you too.

Thanks for reading… more coming soon!