My Africa my Home!

Here it is!! I’m beyond excited to announce that the first book in The Fault in the Family memoir seriesMY AFRICA MY HOME is ready for preorder! I’m nervous, I’m excited, it’s been an incredible journey, and it’s not over yet. I would just love it if you could have a look, maybe a buy (it’s way cheaper to buy it as a preorder than once it launches on April 12th). It’s available as an eBook on all Amazons around the world.

Book Cover Medium One

Here’s the blurb:IG Author Bio-2Scrawny and straw-haired, seven-year-old Jenny wakes up frozen. Her eyes won’t open, her voice refuses to work, she can’t even move her lips or her tongue. In fear, she grasps for her face, but her arms are both tied down, splayed out at either side. Why can’t she move? Where is she? And how did she get here? Her immediate assumption is that this is a punishment. But what was her crime? She searches through a mass of fear and fog, and as a blurry picture begins to form, of noise and drama, snot and tears, horror and panic …. she finds it. That must be it. She’d ignored the rules, fractured the silence, made a scene. She’d broken the cardinal rule; she’d been disobedient. Publicly. She’d broken free of invisible and caused all this terrible trouble. And now she was paying the price.

In this, the first book in the Fault in the Family Memoirs, Jennifer shares her gripping story of chronic neglect and loneliness in her teeny-tiny-bubble-of-a-world, slap bang in the middle of white, privileged, apartheid South Africa in the seventies. In My Africa My Home, Jennifer sets the tone and the background for this epic journey that will transport the reader through five decades, two families, eight international moves, and a shocking hundred-year-old legacy that underpins it all, in her search for identity, “home” and a place to belong.

As a teacher, mentor, author, artist, disability activist, TCK, corporate-wife and above all, mother, Jennifer brings her wealth of life experience as well as and her beautiful, heartfelt, vulnerable, passionate writing style to this incredible life story of hope where there shouldn’t be, and of redemption in ways she would never have imagined.

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If you’d like to read the first chapter, sign on to my email list HERE and I’ll email you a copy.

Please share, and shout if you’d like an interview, a chat, a review …. or to help spread the word!

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 Newsletter link:  http://eepurl.com/cvljU9

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith
JPS Author Signature 02

Saving our Country!

Last night I spent the evening speaking to the counsellors at LifeLine here in Johannesburg. It was such an honour to be invited and an amazing audience. They gave me truly a wonderful evening. We will do it again. And I’m busting to tell you all about it.


But today was not the day for talking about me, or my books, or my mission. Today was a chance to protest. To stand up for the millions of people in this beautiful country who were freed over twenty years ago, only to have so many of those freedoms denied by a new dictator.

Our country says NO!
We say it’s time to go Zuma!

Your reign is over!

We don’t want you for our President!

Nelson Mandela would be devastated.

This is NOT what he fought so hard for!
What a great day we had! We had so many protest options, and we mulled over them all. It would have been cool to go to some of the biggest. But in the end, we decided that they aren’t great places for wheelchairs, and if things turned ugly, I can’t get away fast or protect myself.

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And so we picked the protest run by our church. It’s at the corner of a massive intersection and there is a tonne of space to stand. 200 people is not a lot in the whole scheme of the rallies and protests around the country, but boy, did we do our thing! And the noise from the cars honking in support was huge! And the feeling of standing in unity in a multiracial, multitalented group (yeah, sorry for the stereotyping there but white people can’t sing or chant like black people can 😂 but that’s not a reason to stay home) and stand up for our beautiful country!

What a privilege and what a day! Because we are a God loving church we also prayed. Together. In our different languages, which in and of itself was beautiful. Lots of tears, so much love!


200 isn’t a lot but we were just the afternoon slot, there were people out all day. And there were groups at all the major intersections.

I am praying hard that we can get rid of our president and show the world that it’s possible!

***

As a side note, if you are going to have a car accident, doing so in the middle of an intersection with 200 witnesses, many of whom have cameras rolling, is not a bad place to have it (when you are the innocent one).

This poor delivery guy on a motorbike was collected by a car going the other way. In an instant, dozens of people dropped placards, stopped traffic, and as the fuel tank gushed its contents my hubby and a bunch of others moved him well clear. He was able to walk (amazingly) but they called an ambulance anyway, moved the motorbike off the road. This guy could not have had more love, help or support! 😊

 

Where you can find and follow Jennifer: 

@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

 

ScampinChips Blogs!

img_5280-1I couple of months ago I found ScampinChips. She is a great blogger on so many levels and her wisdom and kindness in sharing everything that she learns, so freely and so honestly, is an inspiration to me. I have to confess that when I read her blogs I feel embarrassed of mine. I won’t stop of course but I thought that instead of writing nothing on starting out on Social Media this week, I would share this post on her blog.

Please don’t just close this down and without reading it. It is a really easy read I promise and it is a fabulous list of the 9 things that she wished she knew before she started blogging. If you are so new that you are following me on this series then her post is a must read! Truly! Even if there are a couple of things that don’t make sense to you yet, most of it will, and you will be thankful for these tips I promise.

I myself am keeping it open as a checklist because there are a couple of things that I missed as well and so now is the time to change/fix them…

Social Media Etiquette:

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Sorry that this is a long one but I don’t want to repeat myself for each platform, as all of this applies to all of them. But here are some basic Social Media Etiquette “Rules”:

I am not one for “rules of society” other than respect respect and respect. I think that if each and every one of us is thoughtful, aware and respectful, then most things in social life will go smoothly. But that is not the reality that we live in and there are a bunch of extra rules which need to be taken into consideration when launching into social media. Of course the basics of respect apply, but here are also a bunch of other somewhat random basic rules that also apply and why.

1: Try and be discreet when “Tagging” people. We tag people to either get their attention or the attention of their friends and followers. Which is great if you already have an appropriate relationship with them, or at a pinch you have something that you are 100% sure they will actually appreciate. However, tagging them in our post to promote ourselves is not a cool thing to do and is a bit like taking advantage of someone or worse, invading their personal space. It is considered rude to simply tag someone as advertising and I have been bowled away by how many people do it even though it is written all over the place that one shouldn’t. The other day someone who I have never met tagged me in their post saying “look at my blog, you will love it”. That is not cool. It is taking advantage of my following to promote themselves. If you tag me because you are reading these blogs and setting up accounts because of it, then go for it, but go for it because I am specifically inviting you to as you learn, and I encourage it too as I have offered to help. But if you then keep tagging me every day from then on in order to promote your puppy pictures then that is a whole new board game. It is an easy rookie mistake but not worth making. Be thoughtful (and respectful) about who you tag and how often.

2: Direct Messaging or sending people or pages private messages. Again this is a great tool but people either intentionally or unintentionally use this in ways that are considered totally not cool by the general social media population. When I got my first DM after following someone I was super excited. To then learn that they send the same message to every follower, automatically at that, left me feeling a little negative (anything stronger than that is pushing it but it wasn’t a cool feeling for sure). It didn’t hugely bother me until I kept reading over and over how much the big guys detest it and how upset some people do get by it. That first DM for me at least appeared to be genuine the way that it was phrased, but since then I have received hundreds of them that are not even vaguely attempting to sound genuine. They ask for things, tell me how much I will be blown away by their product, blog or company, and often send long lists of everything that they are connected to. I just ignore them as I have decided to give them the benefit of the doubt that they don’t “know any better”, but I have read many articles where people will block anyone who sends them a DM. I think that that is a bit strong but I don’t want to be that person sending DMs all over the show either.

3: How often to post. This one is a really tough one but as a general rule of thumb:

  • If you don’t post very often then there isn’t a lot of point in trying to get a following outside of the community of people like family and friends that you already have.
  • If you post too often then even the most forgiving don’t like their entire feed to contain nothing but you, so you will lose followers.

So you need to find some balance and middle ground. Most people try and have some kind of post 2-3 times each day. Many post more than that which can be great if you actually have that much to say that people love.

4: Repeated posts on Twitter and Facebook are a good idea because they are such a “point in time” platform that anything you say has all but disappeared by tomorrow or the next day. But if you have nothing but the same repeat going on then your followers who do see you will get sick of the same thing over and over. Imagine that you post 3 times a day but it is all the same things, your profile will simply be a long long list of the exact same thing. Even rotating 2 or 3 different things is not much better. So have some variety. Share your blog posts as you write them but in between share other things too. This is where Instagram comes in handy for me, it allows me to quickly and easily add colour, pics and memes to my Facebook Page automatically and in doing so I am covering two social media platforms in one, plus adding diversity to my posts.

5: What to post. Don’t just talk about yourself or your product. One of my personal favourite things about all the social media sites is the community and connectedness that I have found there. It is clearly obvious very quickly that the more you build up others the more they will build you up. If you post nothing but your own things and don’t contribute to discussions, share other’s posts, or encourage others, then why should they do all that for you? Stats vary but from all the articles that I have read, if you share, “like”, comment etc on other people’s pages at least two or three times for every time you promote yourself you can’t go wrong. More is even better. Some days I am tired and don’t feel that I have much to say, so I simply scroll through my feed and like share and comment on other people’s things. It brings diversity to my own profile, and people see that I promote and encourage other. I need followers and I often get more followers on those days. So don’t feel that you have to come up with all your own stuff.

6: Be genuine. Think about what you share, either of your own or of others. As you click away, share away and comment away, your personality will shine through. If you think you have that angry streak well hidden, it is likely to show in the general flow of what you do. And that is OK. If it is real then show it, and you will connect with like minded people. If you try to be false, too sweet, or too anything that you are not, it will show. For the most part people want to follow genuine people and aren’t interested in fake. Having said that, some of the biggest social media people are completely fake and yet they are followed anyway. Unless you have that gift of being “on” 24/7 and can push some crazy fake agenda, then don’t even try.

Glossary of Facebook Terms:

(Repost from my old blog from when I started Twitter):

Here are the “Glossary of terms” for your Facebook Page.

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Now that I am unpacking and explaining Facebook, I am actually getting a little annoyed with them as I feel that there is way too much duplication of terms and words. Last time we struggled with the issue between our own private Facebook account which the general public refers to as “my Facebook Page” and yet when you create a Facebook Page for a cause or a product or your community, that is what Facebook call a Facebook Page.

Now as I look at the screen shot above from my own FbPAGE, the third word down on the left is HOME which is the exact word that Facebook uses for our Newsfeed, which is a different thing entirely! So I hope that I can get around this and not confuse you in the process…

Facebook Words:

  • HOME (personal account): Ugh, When you are on your personal account OR on your open FbPAGE and you click the Home button that is on the blue bar across the top of your page, near the right, you will always go to your personal Newsfeed. Why they don’t just call it a Newsfeed is beyond me, although this is where you can find all kinds of things down the left which aren’t visible when you are on your Timeline. I am pointing this out because when you are working on your FbPAGE, the blue bar across the top remains the same, it does not change to your PAGE, it remains as your profile. o don’t confuse this Home with the one mentioned above on your PAGE.screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-12-33-16-pm
  • HOME (FbPAGE): I am now referring again to the first picture that I put up at the very top of this post, when you click on this Home, it takes you to the Timeline of your FbPAGE (not personal account).
  • Personal Timeline or User Profile: This is for your personal page only. AT any time when you click on your own name on the blue bar (I would click on Jennifer there, next to the word Home), it takes me to my own personal Timeline. This is the page that is “me”, what I or others that I allow, post there.
  • Page Name: Under my profile picture at the very top you can see my Page Name “Jennifer Peacock-Smith”. It is my writing name, my author name, but if this page was a business or a band, the Page Name would be the name of your choosing. Mine is my personal name because I am an author but yours might be your stage name, business name, WordPress blog name …whatever you choose.
  • Username: Private Accounts & Profiles are in general simply your own name. There are thousands of John Smiths in the world and all of them can have Facebook Page called John Smith (have fun finding YOUR John Smith) but in many ways it means that you can have a level of secrecy by being one of thousands if you don’t want everyone under the sun to find you. But if you have a FbPAGE, you are able to have a unique Username as well. My FbPAGE has me as my full name (Jennifer Peacock-Smith), and technically I could be one of many, but my username is @JPeaSmith, which is unique. If you want to find my page and know my username, I am easy to find.
  • Tag (& Tagging). This has been a part of Facebook for a long time, and it is a way to alert someone that you are posting about them, or bringing their attention to something that you are including them in. All you used to have to do is use the @ followed by someone’s Facebook name and a link would automatically connect and alert both them and their friends. It has gone under some changes in the last few years and they are important to note if you want to use them: The first is that you no longer use the @ to tag someone, you simply start typing their name and the option of tagging them appears which you can click on or ignore. The second change however is only relevant to Usernames which are only used on pages. If you want to tag me personally to your post, then you just do what I said in number 1, however if you want to tag my FbPAGE, then using my NAME (even the name of my page) won’t work, but using my Username (which has a @ in it already) works.
  • Followers: As explained last week, a private Facebook account has friends only. This means that all connections go both ways. But FbPAGEs only have followers. These are the people who “like” your page, and when they do so, they become a follower of your page. Your page will appear on their newsfeed and they will feel that they are part of the community that is interested in you. If you want to get your name, your business, your blog out there, you need people to follow you. If you link your FbPAGE to your blog to automatically post each time you blog, then you are now tapping into the Facebook community who might otherwise not know about your blog…

Learning Instagram:

(Repost from my old blog from when I started Twitter):

Instagram (IG) is an interesting platform. I have heard two very different stories about the effectiveness of Instagram and there appear to me to be two very strong camps. The first of course says that if you want to get yourself, your writing, your blogs out there, then you need to use all platforms of Social Media and that includes Instagram. The other school of thought is that yes, you should be using all the platforms, but that Instagram is a waste of time. Use Instagram for your family and dog pics, and everything else for your writers profile.

It is now four months since I started my Writer’s online presence and I have to say, that in terms of bang for your buck, Instagram is hard work. Twitter (0nce you get your head around it) can be fast, simple and in the moment. Your wording is limited, you don’t need a photo, and it is relatively easy to keep up with what is going on. It is easy to “find your tribe” and to connect with a community.

Instagram on the other hand I have found to be much slower. It is all about the photos and you need good ones for people to see you. Once you find your tribe you can definitely build community, but with the same amount of interactions my community on IG is about a 1/4 of the size of my Twitter community and each post takes way longer to put up.

I feel (rightly or wrongly) that my IG community is much more intimate, but I don’t feel as though I am getting my writing or blogging out there much.

So why have I stayed? MY Facebook Page is going slow because I have not been putting much effort into it (but plan to) and what I am enjoying about Instagram is that I link it to the Facebook page. So that even if not much is happening, I am adding pictures and content to my Facebook page every time I Blog, but also every time I take a photo.

To sign up for Instagram simply look up Instgagram.com (or click on that link) and once you have clicked on the sign up button, you can again follow the very basic prompts. It is very much the same procedure as Facebook and Twitter.

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Enjoy! 🙂

Learning Facebook:

IMG_6082(Repost from my old blog from when I started Twitter):

So today we are going to go through the basics of having a Facebook PAGE. This is super confusing because those of you who have Fb already will know that most people refer to their Fb accounts as their Fb page. So I need to start off by being very clear that when I talk about a Fb PAGE I am talking about what they call a public page. The difference is this:

I have a private Fb account (FbAccount). This is me: Jen Smith (please don’t send me a Friend Request, as this is my private account and I don’t accept requests from anyone but close family). Also please don’t send requests to each other either, as during this process of setting up Facebook Pages it will add to the confusion.

This on the other hand is my Fb PAGE (FbPage): Jennifer Peacock-Smith. You are very welcome to “like” it, and in fact please do so that you can follow along as all the posts here will be posted there. As you each build a page I will “like” yours as well, and I encourage you to “like” each others.

If you compare the two, the one that is privately me (FbAccount) looks very different to the one that is publicly me (FbPage). The major difference is that for the FbAccount we need to be mutual friends to follow each other. We send Friend Requests and upon acceptance we can see each other clearly.

For the FbPage on the other hand the communication is one way. If you “like” me, you are following me, you can see everything that I post, and I will show up on your newsfeed if you want me to. But I can’t see YOU and your private account in any way shape or form.

Say for example I am a singer  and “PopStar” is my stage name, but my real name is Fred. I can’t have a FbPage for PopStar without having a FbAccount for Fred. My  Fred Facebook can have friends it is the two way valve and everyone who can me, I can see too. As Fred I save this for my family and close friends that I trust. But PopStar is my public a FbPage and 3 million people follow me there. They click “like” on his page and they are my fans. I have no obligation to follow them at all, because it is a one way valve. When they follow me they have no expectations of me following them back because my FbPage can’t follow people. I hope that that makes sense…

So here is how you do it. To set up a Fb Page,

  • Go into your Facebook on your computer and click HOME at the top of your screen. This is your newsfeed as usual.
  • To the left you will see this: screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-11-47-32-am (click on Create Page).
  • You will then see this box pop up: screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-11-48-41-am
  • You then need to click which ever box applies to you. I am a Writer, so I clicked on Artist, Band or Public Page. This is what happened when I clicked on it: screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-11-50-03-am
  • You now need to choose a category. I chose Writer for my Page, but I also have an Artist page for my artwork that I do with my friend Julie, which I named accordingly. So with your single Fb Account you can have a number of different Pages, but for now we are going to stick to one so that we don’t all get confused.
  • I can’t go any further in the process myself as I am not setting up an account. But from here on in it is quite simple. Follow the prompts slowly and read everything on each page.
  • Soon you will find that your Fb Page is active and the bare bones are set up.

Remember that this is all foundations so you don’t have to even add any pictures yet, and you can change the name later. Check out my and other FbPages and see what you like and dislike. Comment below and ask any questions and please share with us anything that you struggled with or found helpful so that you too can pay it forward for the others who read this🙂

Enjoy experimenting and having fun! (and remember to not spread the word yet!). click on things and experiment, ask stuff here and get super comfortable with the whole idea of pages and what you would like yours to look like🙂

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…

The Lion & the Peacock.

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A slight diversion happened today:

While writing my book “It’s Mah Eeds”, I landed up on a chapter on my journey through anxiety and I did not feel as though a single chapter in a book did this story within a story justice. I had to cut too much out to fit in the book, not just in terms of physically fitting but also in terms of keeping to the bigger picture. It was a massive thing to live through and a truly life changing experience and I didn’t want to lose that. I have left it in the book but I also I pulled it from the book today and fleshed it out, …letting all the pieces in between shine through and the whole thing work it’s space.

I landed up with a beautiful 6 thousand word story which I will spend each day this week editing over and over again. I want to publish it as a short book all on it’s own. And I want to give it away for free, at least to start with, as I think that so many people suffer from Anxiety and there may be a few people out there who find helpful or encouraging. So comment below or send me an email if you would like to be notified when it is out (hopefully in January or Feb next year).

I will keep you updated on here anyway as the process unfolds from it’s birth today to a published book…

Memoir Writing.

img_8897I loooove train rides. Especially sleeping trains. They are my passion and my favourite place in the world to be. My writing for me is very much a series of train trips as it is all about the various journeys that I travel on in life. My health, my heart, my faith, my personal growth and my physical travels all around the globe. They are often lonely and they are deeply emotional. What I love about blogging is that I get to take people on these trips with me and I love that. I truly love my readers and their support and the fact that they choose to come on my rides with me blows me away!

The only writing that I have ever done is from my heart and soul. My experiences, my opinions, my thoughts and my dreams. I started a new memoir with NaNo on the 1st of November and since then it has been pouring out of me with such great force that I feel as though this train has a mind of its own. This one is a runaway train and I love it. Sometimes we fly through deep dark tunnels that seem to never end as I relive all kinds of experiences that I am writing about which bring up horrendous pain, nightmares, anger, frustration, …but those experiences allow me to write with feeling and color and I believe that they enrich the story and help keep them extremely real.

Then there are the highs as I write about the good things or more often they occur when I am writing about the bad but the chapters come together well or the writing flows in a way I hadn’t imagined it could, or when something or someone (usually a stranger on social media) encourages me out of nowhere. The highs are thrilling and they keep me going through the hard days. But throughout this experience, the train hasn’t stopped for a moment and it is an exhausting but thrilling ride!

I can totally appreciate why writers want to go and hide on a mountain somewhere and simply immerse themselves in their writing. It is addictive and it flows and in many a way, it is like they are living a completely separate life. This is me.

Sadly I am forced to spend some of my time in the real world and often I am finding that I enjoy it less and less. I am sure that this is not a good thing, but right now I am not sure that I entirely care. Is that shocking? Is that terrible? Am I morphing into a hermit? … my husband and my readers are the only people on this train journey with me and I am loving it. So thank you to all of you who are making this journey so exciting, I cannot wait to start publishing!

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