Tribes!

You already know I have a thing about tribes right? If not, it’s time you did. We’re on day eleven (I think) of our #SevenFerries trip to the UK to get some paperwork sorted then back again via Portugal and Spain to try ride some of the #CaminoWay on Daisy! Not as a spiritual journey but because we were close by anyway, and I’d always thought I’d like to walk here, (then when I couldn’t walk any more – certainly not any kind of distance), I thought I’d never do this. So in some ways this is a bit of up “up yours!” at mah Eeds as I ride bits of it instead.

We arrived via ferry from the UK a couple of hours ago and we’re tucked inside doing work for the book launch week and writing madly for the next two books. We love wild camping and there’s nothing quite like sitting in Molly working away. But some of the camping is a bit odd. In France they provide free spots of mostly small green patches, but in Spain they do things differently.

They use sporting facility car parks and other tarmac areas that otherwise sit empty. It sounds very odd but it’s brilliant and so clever. Like the French, these stops have rubbish, water, and dumpling facilities for a small fee. It’s often not as pretty, but when you’re only staying to sleep, it really doesn’t matter once it’s dark.

It’s safe, you know you’re welcome, but above all, it feels great to be amongst our own. We’re surrounded by mostly huge beasts, so we’re the babies by a long shot, but as the sun goes down and little lights go on and the little homes light up with cooking and chatting and settling in for the night, as bicycles are strapped down and dishes are washed and out comes the red wine, we feel like we belong in this strange tribe. We’re in the middle of a miniature village.

The guy in the van in front of us offered to move (we didn’t need him to but thanked him), but he doesn’t speak a word of English. Our tribe is made up of all kinds of people from all over the planet. We’re bound by one thing only; this place and our similar journeys! One that knits us together just a little bit. 😊

Nighty night from Spain!!

PS: My Africa my Home eBook is on sale today and tomorrow if you didn’t get your copy before launch!! http://getbook.at/MyAfricamyHome

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Two Tier Support?

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-12-58-35-pmI am toying with an idea here, and I need to know what you think. It is somewhere in the space of having two distinct groups in my launch teams.

People who have their own launch teams tend to be way better supporters of others, and I have seen groups where they unwittingly land up with a group that is deeply connected and supportive, much like I spoke about in this post a few weeks ago. The problem with this is that it can backfire and if it does it will happen without notice, and it is irreversible, and you can land up losing your very best reviews.

This is just a thought that I am having, so bear with me, please.

What about having a two-tier support group or even two launch teams? is that too hard. But the benefits are twofold. The first is that you split your roles but secondly, you can grow your team way bigger (I think).

Team A: These people are full-on supporters. They read ARC copies, they download your book on its free day, they leave reviews on every country of Amazon and Goodreads and they blog about your book, share it on Facebook and so on. These people are a dream come true. They are FABULOUS. They are also people that you trust to follow through. These are the people that I would have on my launch team whether I had one or two.

But Amazon will not let them review our work if we are personal friends OR EVEN IF SUSPECT that we are friends. We need these people desperately but then all should agree to not connect on a personal level through social media!

Team B: These people are just as important. But they don’t have enough cred on Amazon to leave reviews, and/or they are family and friends that can’t review us anyway. They are the people who don’t want to be bombarded with all the info on the launch team site and they don’t have the time to read ARCs, and nor do they want to. They are simply happy to give us some love when our book comes out, share on Facebook and so on. I find that a lot of people lose these people from their launch teams because they are simply not that into the whole process. They just want to lose the bottom line.

They aren’t second best, they just play a different role. They can be friends on Facebook, they can love and support. But if we keep them out of the nitty gritty then more of them might stay?

Any thoughts?

Where Jennifer hangs out: 

@JPeaSmith
 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Have You Ever Used a Writing Coach?

img_2176For all kinds of reasons, I am not an expert in writing. I consider myself an expert in my topics because I have lived, breathed, conquered, failed, picked myself up from, and failed again, in these areas. Emotional Abuse, Control Abuse, neglect, loss, grief, loneliness, and debilitating chronic illness. I write about all these things and I know I do ok at it because I am so passionate about these things. They flow out if me.

But I don’t have a literary degree, I am dyslexic and autocorrect hates me. I have a lot to say, and for the most part, people appear to listen (maybe they are just being nice), but I want to do it well. My Memoirs mean the world to me and I cannot wait to share them with the world, but I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot and hit a wall due to the fact that I am not an expert but more importantly than that, I know my whole story so intimately well, that I don’t know what others see on the outside.

I have decided to have some coaching and the first half hour slot was great. I still have my own voice, but it was great to get feedback on what a reader needs to hear in the opening chapters. When we write our own story, whether as a memoir or any other piece of fiction, it is really easy to over share, and just as easy to under share. I was worried that I was the former and it turned out that I am the latter; I wasn’t sharing enough detail about some of the relationships in the opening chapters. You can’t please everyone and this isn’t about people pleasing. It is about learning to share the right things and when so that hooks aside, I don’t leave people asking too many questions instead of just reading on. I am really enjoying this process!

Where Jennifer hangs out: 
@JPeaSmith 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

All the Things to Write (and read)!!!

img_9246-1I am thoroughly spoilt that I get to write pretty much full time, and yet most days I feel terribly behind. In the night I think of wonderful things to say, and believe it or not, I usually remember most of them in the morning. Some are blog topics, others are great ideas for my next book (or the one after that, or the one after that). But I already have a writing to do list longer than my arm, and so some days it is easier to just ignore it all and read instead! Especially when my “to read” list is longer than my “to write” list.

And I am not just talking about reading for pleasure. I read because I like to keep up with my peers, and support fellow authors and I try to beta read at least 2 books a month. And I hate letting them down. Then there are all the books about how to write, publish and so on. It never ends.

I think that I need to streamline my writing a little bit and somehow slow down. But once the bug bites that is it! No turning back… How do you balance your time? Writing, Reading and everything in between? I would love some tips on how to keep a balance!

Where Jennifer hangs out: 
@JPeaSmith 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Memoir Fest!

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It is ages since I have written about my memoirs. My first love, my “great work.” They were kind of pushed to the backburner when I stopped to publish the chapter-which-turned-into-a-book on Anxiety. Not that I regret that, it was the best decision that I have made in a long time. But now I am back into the swing of things and writing two memoirs at the same time.

This time last year I started writing the first memoir in the series, and over the rest of the year, I kept going. I got so much out of it in all kinds of ways, but now I need to go back to the first drafts and work on publishing and putting them out there. Which means a ton of editing. It is hard work, way harder than simply “sitting at the computer and bleeding it onto the screen”. But my mind doesn’t stop and the stories are still not yet all told.

But there are pieces of stories that are too painful for other people, too detailed or complicated to fit into the ebb and flow of one of the other books, or too small to become a book on their own. And so I am left with a jar of deeply painful, vitally important, singular events which have no home. Stories that need to be told, stories that later books need the reader to already know. And it has been bothering me.

But also bothering me has been a new desire to write fiction. I am a little shocked and very surprised. But there you have it. The seed has been planted and I didn’t know what to do with my jar or this seed. And then last week I realized that I could blend the two. Tell a fictional story and place everything from the jar within it. Accurate and truthful pieces, which now will get to see the light of day with a new name, a new place, and a little bit of new packaging.

And so when my mind is clogged with editing and I cannot go on, but my fingers are itchy and busting to bleed … I bring out the new book and out it flows! 2017 is going to be an interesting year for me and for my writing! These two threads that are happening side by side; editing the memoirs and weaving parts of them into Fiction. Roll on 2017 I say!

Where Jennifer hangs out: 
@JPeaSmith
 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Anxiety Champions Part 3:

screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-1-13-19-pmPart three in my series on Anxiety Champions is also someone from Survivor Season 33 in my beloved Fiji Islands. Hannah Shapiro is hilarious, but there is also a really serious side to her, and she is very openly and visibly someone who suffers from anxiety. But more than that, during the show she has a full blown panic attack and many people have remarked about or remembered her infamous lines, “I can’t feel my hands!” and “don’t let me die!”.

For me, this is such an incredibly vulnerable moment, where she totally forgets the cameras, she is utterly and completely consumed by her panic attack, and simply from the words she cries out, this is clearly extremely scary for her. This is the first time that I have witnessed a panic attack from the outside, and it was fascinating for me to watch. Having experienced hundreds of these myself, I have only seen them from the inside and I was shocked by how “normal” it looks from for an onlooker.

Hannah I think is one of those people who not so much embraces her anxiety but she is learning to live with it and does not let it hold her back. She is clearly funny, articulate and very bright, so she is in no way defined by her anxiety, but she is a wonderful ambassador for what living with anxiety looks and feels like. Thank you, Hannah!

 

 

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Free for a Few (days):

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I am so blown away by the public response to my book! I have no idea what I expected: we all (well me anyway) have a dream, a hope, a best-case-scenario that goes around in our heads, as well as a total disaster worst-case-scenario which we dread. I sometimes feel as though I am a goldfish, going around and around in circles, regularly coming to exactly the same space I was a few hours ago and having exactly the same reaction “this is going to be fine…” and then “What on earth was I thinking, putting my heart and soul out there, they are all going to laugh at me!” And then “this is going to be fine (again).

So in terms of what I thought would happen, well, I had absolutely no idea what to expect or what was realistic. And I still think that all the people who will ever like it have now said so and now it will flop completely…

Total strangers have bought my book and so far every single review has been 5 stars. Now THAT is something that I did not even hope for in my best-case-scenario dream! But I am also realistic and maybe this is where the good part of the dream ends?

The book will be FREE for a few days from right now through Saturday, so please feel free to download it, read it and let me know what you think. And to let anyone else know who may be interesting.

I am also learning that reviews are everything. I saw a picture on Twitter today with the headline “Authors can’t sell books without reviews!” and if I had a dollar for every time that I have heard that in the last year then I wouldn’t need to write books; I’d be rich! I know that as a reader I never understood the value other than ego, of writing a review, but now I do! The algorithms and stats are there for a reason so that people can’t sell or use robots for “fake” reviews, but it does mean that there is a load of importance placed on real ones, and these are used for Amazon to decide who they promote and who they don’t. And so now I am slowly chipping away at writing a review for every book that I have ever read!

So if you have a few moments of time and have not read the book yet, then I would love you to read it for free here, and an honest review would mean the world to me! 🙂 You can leave one at Goodreads as well as on the Amazon book itself:

And the count down begins!

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-10-56-43-amA new year, a new book, and I am actually feeling a little overwhelmed by how fast this is all growing! I am now writing for a few different publications which I am super excited about. I am thoroughly enjoying writing for The Mighty and hope that this will become my main Chronic Illness Voice in 2017. We are working on that behind the scenes and I will let you know how that goes. It is quite different to writing books but I love that I can speak a small snippet of my life and my work without having to fit in to a lengthy book. I am finding it a fabulous way to develop my writing ability as well, as I enjoy being stretched in a different direction.

The Facebook page is also slowly growing. Obviously I would love it to grow fast but I feel a little as though I am being pulled in a few directions and with my health restrictions I can only push myself so far before I do some serious damage. But thanks so much to everyone who has followed it and is sharing my posts!

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The book should be available on Kindle next week, the only reason that a date isn’t set in stone is because the holiday period has meant that so many people who are needed in the process have shut up shop … and good for them! MailChimp for example are doing a fabulous job of keeping track of those of you wonderful people who have signed on for the newsletters (which will tell you when the book is out!) but they have had a glitch and so we can’t even send out a test email yet until they get back to us… So we are waiting on a handful of those kinds of things before we can confirm 🙂

If you missed the opportunity to put your email on the mailing list, which will give you launch dates as well as let you know in advance which days the book will be promoted for free etc, then please feel free to email me on jenniferpeacocksmith@gmail.com and I will manually add your email address to the list 🙂

The book itself is going well and the Beta Readers have given me such wonderful feedback and there are so many people who have offered to share it on their blogs and websites, so if you would like to do the same just let me know!

Thanks for journeying with me on this, I am soooo nervous and yet excited about this book and I hope you will get as much from it as those who have so far read it 🙂

(You can also follow me on Twitter if that’s you thing 🙂 )

The Lion and The Peacock – How I Conquered Anxiety

aa-final-book-coverAfter one of the most amazing roller coasters of a month, we are on track for the launch of my first book, The Lion and the Peacock – How I Conquered Anxiety.

I did not plan on this being my first book, but after writing the chapter on this part of my journey for one of my other books, it occurred to me that this needed to be a stand-alone book in its own right.

It is short, only about a tenth of the size of a full-length novel, which means that anyone will be able to access this, without having to read or purchase anything else or anything bigger. I am still telling my story and the books will keep coming, but this is now the first window into my complicated story.

If you would like to be on the mailing list for the book (which I promise I won’t spam you with), it will involve only a few emails leading up to the launch on the 15th of January 2017, and then from then on monthly emails with updates on promotions, free days, and the follow-up book releases. Please sign up or leave your email details in the comments below.

Where I hang out:
@JPeaSmith
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I don’t like Everyone I Follow!

screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-8-42-04-pm(Repost from my old blog from when I started Twitter):

3 weeks in and I’m still getting my head around all this “follow” business. They obviously all mean the same thing across all the platforms and if I want my voice to be heard and to interact and support people who are walking the same paths in life that I am, whether that be writing their story, recovering from trauma or living with a different ability, …it helps them and it helps me.

But there are so many who will only follow if I follow back, there are those who clearly have no interest in anything that I do whatsoever, and while thankfully my numbers are slowly climbing, I also seem to drop people every few days, …some for no other apparent reason than that I am clearly not showing interest in their cleavage or abs.

I am an introvert by nature, but I also have a huge heart for people. I get enjoyment from supporting and encouraging others, from promoting those of them who I believe in, and from “hanging out” online because I mostly can’t in “real life”. This on-line world works for me, it keeps me connected in a world that would otherwise be extremely shut off.

So I need these follows and followers, both literally (in that the more followers I have the more people will see me, and the more who stop to listen, even though not all of them will, many might actually stop and hear me) and emotionally, in that I enjoy some of the interactions that come from them. I want to follow them. I love seeing what others are doing; ….getting inspired by things like courage, new ideas and concepts, strength through adversity and enjoyment in the little things.

In real life, because I have lived in so many countries, studied in so many places, and never really belonged anywhere, I have an extremely rich group of real life friends. For me I have picked the best that life has to offer, they are outliers and the crazy ones. Those who dare and care and love deeply and richly and hurt badly and above all, as much as they are able, they are real and transparent and are all the better for it.

They cover the spectrum of gender and faith and physical ability, and some of them are deeply muslim, others deeply Christian, and some have absolutely no faith at all. They are all unique in all kinds of ways but they are all respectful, loving, deeply compassionate people. And while I love all of them, I don’t like all of them equally. There are some who I think have got their heads screwed on completely wrong, but I love having them in my life because they challenge me, they push me, and they never tell me simply what they think I want to hear.

Others don’t even do that, and are completely annoying, but when I see where they have come from, what they have achieved, how they have grown, …I so admire them, and am honoured to be a witness to that growth and that they call me their friend. To walk beside and see where they are eventually heading is exciting.

But it doesn’t mean that I like them a whole lot either, or that I can handle them in anything other than small doses or large crowds. I want to follow and be followed by the whole gamut of people too, we may not all think alike or have the same belief systems, but I won’t judge you, and I ask the same in return. I want this to grow organically, but I don’t want to miss the boat and not be purposeful either.

It’s just that if I do follow you, please know that I consciously follow you because I choose to and that you aren’t just a number…