Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Results: 1 Week Social Media Detox

I thought it would be really tough. I deleted the apps from my phone to avoid temptation. It helped that once I'd blogged about giving up Facebook and Twitter for a week, I couldn't sneakily go on them or everyone would have known! 

Day 1 - Social Life

So used to scrolling through my social networks , I found myself with a phone in my hand and not sure what to do with it. I turned to WhatsApp and got in touch with an Argentine girl I'd met here in Mallorca, suggesting a drink one day this week. She replied, "Tomorrow?"  So often in London you'd have to book a date with your friends weeks in advance, so I was very excited about the spontaneous meeting with a new friend.  

Day 2 - Battery Life

The drink with my friend morphed into a lively dinner at her flat, as her Argentine flat mate was cooking Matambre a la Pizza. I stayed in the spare room as buses had stopped running. Since I hadn't been checking my phone all day, I had plenty of battery left to set an early morning alarm and check my emails. 

Day 3 - Brain Retraining

Despite not checking Twitter, my brain kept automatically composing tweets about what I was doing or feeling. Then I'd think, Oh wait, you're not on Twitter, it doesn't matter! Here are some of the tweets I might have written:

Thought it was a cockroach. Thankfully only a baby gecko. Aw.
Cor blimey. Gareth Bale looks hot with his new long hair and beard combo. When did this happen?

2,600 word today! #amwriting

Bloody hell Catalunya. Two nationalities is complicated enough for me. Don't goooooooooooo

I'm dancing on a table with my mother-in-law and half of Mallorca @OktoberFest #doesntgetbetterthanthis

Erm, yeah, so all essential observations... In fact I'm quite relieved I didn't post them. 
Ah. Oops. 

Day 4 - Good News

I wrote 1000 more words than my usual. When I felt a pull to check Facebook or Twitter, I went on the goodnews network. It's still procrastinating, but at least the articles didn't leave me feeling frustrated or upset. The truth is, every day there are incredible acts of kindness and inspirational people doing amazing things. If only the mainstream media shared some of them... 

Day 5 - Everyone's addicted

When you're not checking your phone all the time, you notice how many people are. They arrive at an event, they update. They order food, they update. Don't get me started on the amount of selfies being taken! Or Selfie Sticks! I felt like it was more important than ever to stay off my phone. 

Day 6 - Take it or Leave it

Towards the end of the week, I felt only a mild curiosity to see what I might have missed while being off my networks. My husband mentioned things being shared, like 'Pig Gate' (?) that I hadn't heard of. Does it make any difference knowing where the prime minister put his genitalia at university? Maybe, but I'm not sure...

Day 7 - Resolutions

I decide not to re-install my Facebook app on my phone. It's the one I wasted most time on. Being off it for 7 days has been a liberating experience.

Day 8 - Aftermath

I checked my Twitter and Facebook today and realised I'd hardly missed anything. I had warned people I'd be off it and of the 41 Facebook notifications, half of them were invites to events I wouldn't have been able to go to in the UK, birthday alerts and close friends updating their statuses. 

I know I would have checked each notification and then I would have spent 5 minutes or more scrolling through other posts. That's a potential 205 minutes I reclaimed! 

I hadn't missed much on Twitter either, although it's always great to hear from people who are reading my book and it would have been nice to reply to some of those tweets sooner. Still, it shows that instead of checking Facebook and Twitter every hour of the day, it would be quite enough to check it once or twice (depending of course what you're using it for).

Conclusion: The world does not end when you have a 1 week Social Media Detox. On the contrary you might feel freer and happier as your brain relaxes and you make space for other opportunities to arise.   

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

One week without social media: Will the world end?

Is it possible to switch off?
The last straw didn't break the camel's back. The last straw WAS the camel. It popped up in my Twitter feed. A picture of a creature with big black eyes full of terror, surrounded by people gathered to witness its sacrifice.

My mood went downhill from there. With a little help from Facebook I proceeded to get myself worked up about factory farming, Taji dolphin massacres, Shell's deafening blasting in the arctic, bull-fighting, Spain's gag laws, and of course, the awful plight of refugees.

Before anyone says, you can't compare one with the other, I'm really not trying to. Unlike many of the people posting online, I believe it's possible to care about more than one thing at the same time. You can care about the poor and unemployed in your own country PLUS all the people escaping war and tyranny elsewhere. Whether you can do much about it is another matter.

Never read the comments! I tell myself. But I keep being drawn to them even though I know the avalanche of bigoted and cruel voices are going to play on my mind. It's even worse when you discover a lack of compassion in your own circles. My finger hovers over the unfriend option. I step away. Wait for myself to cool down.

It's common for people to take a break from alcohol, to have a little week's detox after a period of indulgence. I suspect taking time off social media is as beneficial, which is why I'm proposing to take a week off.  

I'm tired of experiencing so many emotional reactions every moment of the day. Since I'm constantly checking my phone, there's always something which evokes an emotion in me. Being upset isn't going to help anyone. Being pro-active is. I'm thrilled that I won £250 from a video competition I mentioned in a previous post, which I'll be donating to Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).  

While I was writing #PleaseRetweet I could justify being online all the time. It was like research. I was tweeting and facebooking and instagramming until I started getting headaches like my main character, May Sparks. But now I'm curious to know what it would be like without all the online stimulus.

My plan is to have a social media blackout for one week. You probably won't even notice, but I know I'll find it really tough. I can already hear a little whining voice saying, but surely Instagram's alright? That's just pretty pictures isn't it? 

I'll let you know how I get on!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Interior monologue of a writer trying to sell a new book. (Or, the joy and pain of amazon ranking)

Right. This is it. The great launch is here. Well, not great. I'm not actually going to do anything. A bit of cava for lunch to mark the occasion, that's all. It's an ebook, we're in 2015...  Perhaps for the paperback I'll pay for a launch, but I don't know...  it's not really worth it, to be honest. Not financially. A lot of fun though.

Right. Here goes a quiet e-book launch.

I just want...
I just want so badly for it to be..

the one.

I know. I shouldn't have expectations. I'm going to be disappointed if I do. 

Everyone knows you have to write at least eight books before you get anywhere. Look at 
Jojo Moyes. She wrote eight books before You Before Me took off. 

I must prepare myself for the worst.

#PLEASERETWEET IS PUBLISHED. (video proof below)

It's just gone live on Amazon. Current position #56,000.

If it goes any lower... don't go any lower... I shouldn't look. Don't look!


Thank f$%^ for that!

Maybe it'll go higher. Even if just one person buys it, it will jump up a few thousand. 

*appeals to friends and family on Facebook to 'help an artist out'*


Yessss. Keep climbing! Please keep climbing!

Once when I discounted ShopGirl Diaries to 99p I sold 10 ebooks and it shot up to #80 in one of the 'women fiction' categories. That's what I need. A few people buying it at the same time. The higher it gets the better chance it has of reaching a wider audience. Wider than my friends and family, for instance.

*Appeals to Twitter*


Thank you everyone! Thank you. I LOVE YOU.


You are the most supportive, kindest bunch of people ever. I'm so grateful to everyone. I love you. You all know that right?


Oh wow. This is the highest I have ever reached. Maybe this is the beginning of a new, more successful phase. Maybe the work is going to pay off. Maybe I can aspire to make a living out of this after all?



*refreshes amazon page*
*refreshes amazon page*
*refreshes amazon page*
*refreshes amazon page*
*refreshes amazon page*
*refreshes amazon page*
*refreshes amazon page*

It can't be game over already! Maybe it'll go up tomorrow?



I'M NEVER WRITING A BOOK AGAIN! I can't take it! I can't take any more! It's too hard!


Then again two weeks isn't that long, is it?

People haven't even had time to read it, have they?

Maybe it still could be the one.

Fancy helping #PleaseRetweet on its journey? 
Available now from Amazon 

Thursday, 27 August 2015

5 Social Media Habits in my New Novel #PleaseRetweet

My new novel #PleaseRetweet is out today for e-readers! It's been getting some good reviews, which is exciting, by people who sound like they didn't want to read it in the first place...

"Absolutely NOT my sort of thing this, upon first perusal. I mean on top of a lot of other things it has Romance. I don’t do romance. Except in this case (and one or two other rare ones ) I kind of do. Fun I like. And this was the best fun I’ve had with a book when it comes to sheer laugh out loud moments in a long long time," Liz Loves Book, read full review.

It's a comedy about our obsession with social media, about:

1. Documenting every moment

2. The way we relate to people

3. Chasing the high from Likes and Retweets

4. Sharing everything because if we don't, did it really happen?

5. and getting our priorities mixed up...

I've reason to believe if we all bought it today, it would fly up the Amazon ranking out of oblivion, even for just a moment! 

Of course if you've bought it already THANK YOU! And for everyone who is going to buy it next week, or the week after, or... I'm not fussy, it all sounds wonderful to me.

And if you haven't and would like too, here's all the places you can buy it from.

I hope you enjoy it! Please Retweet if you do... well, I had to get that in somewhere didn't I?

Monday, 17 August 2015

New Author Website - just in time for release of #PleaseRetweet!

I want to introduce you to my brand new author website:

I thought it was about time to get my writing life in better order. From here you'll be able navigate much easier through my books and articles. You'll also be able to follow me on my different social networks: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I'll still be using blogger as a platform for my blog posts, but they will be integrated with my website too.   

I particularly like the countdown to publication for #PleaseRetweet - currently at 9 days 11 hours 36 minutes and 8...7...6 seconds!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

London Calling - Back in the Capital post Big Move

My old job called and offered me a week's work on reception.

"Yes please!" I said, thinking about the rent.

As soon as I'd bought my flights, the boss told me they were closing for refurbishment. Would I help the painter and decorator instead?

As a result my reception duties included:

1. Sanding
2. Painting
3. More painting
4. Repotting plants
5. Making appointments

Half way through the week there was a tube strike. My Mum suggested I borrow her rollerskates. Twitter tweeted "DO IT!" and so I dutifully did, racking up 16 miles / 25 kilometers in one day. 

I made a video of my scenic skating route for a 'tube strike' competition. There's only 2 entries, so I might win if you view my video. With the £250 winnings I'll be able to afford to take the tube again...*

(*Actually if I win the £250 I'll donate it to Medecins Sans Frontieres who help people who probably have bigger problems that a tube strike!)

Only one pedestrian tutted at my skates, and that was at Parliament square. I wanted to ask the grumpy-faced woman, "WHERE'S YOUR INNER CHILD?" but instead I tutted quietly back, a little too late so it looked like I was tutting at someone else. Sorry random person!

For the rest of the week I travelled on the underground. What is it about the tube that turns you into a machine? I always speed up and start dodging people as if I'm a spaceship in a computer game.

You live in Mallorca now, my inner voice reminded me gently. You don't have to rush any more. I slowed down and considered standing on the wrong side of the escalator.

While I've been working in London - book bloggers and reviewers have been downloading my new novel #PleaseRetweet on Netgalley. I've been getting lots of lovely tweets about the book. Each one feels like a cuddle. 

It's exciting to know people are enjoying it but I know I've got to manage my expectations. After all, this writing life has more ups and downs than a seesaw.   

I arrived back from London yesterday feeling like I'd been away for a month. It was so intense and busy! I loved seeing my family and my friends, but I'm not so sure I could hack living in a big city again...

Monday, 27 July 2015

Facebook - a tool for wasting time or a tool for change?

 Sometimes I marvel at the way life works. 

'Volunteers heading to the cove'
Photo by Jaume Llinas
If you've been reading my blog lately you'll know that I've been getting upset about the amount of plastic in the sea. It's not just the disposal of the rubbish but the quantity of it generated. There are so many single-use items that will take thousands of years to decompose, if they decompose at all. Things that aren't essential to our survival but are ruining the chances of survival of so many other species.
The thing is, I know I'm at risk of becoming one of those boring, preachy types and I'd really rather DO something rather than moan about it.

But how to get started?

In a shop in Palma a few weeks ago, the owner of the shop asked me if I wanted a bag for my purchases.

"Only if it's paper," I said. "I'm trying to give plastic bags up!"

The shop keeper said she didn't like plastic bags either, and we got chatting about the state of the sea. I asked her if she knew anyone who organised beach clear ups and after a moment's thought, she gave me an unusual name that I promptly forgot.

A few weeks later it came to me, Biel Barcelò! I looked him up on Facebook and found a page dedicated to clear ups. It wasn't long before he posted a news report that a huge amount of rubbish had been swept up at one particular cove called Cala Vella. He set up an event inviting people to go out on a Sunday and help clear up.

'Sunday in Mallorca -
very different from our London life!'
Photo by Jaume Llinas
If you say to the universe, I WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS ISSUE! and then the universe replies, OKAY, DO THIS! you can't go, well actually I'm busy this Sunday, maybe next time...

My husband and I headed across the island and joined a small group of volunteers, plus a news crew who filmed the operation. It was a stunning day - every day is a stunning day in Mallorca - and looking out from the top of the cliffs, the turquoise sea made us doubtful there really was as much rubbish as had been reported.  

Half an hour later, we saw it for ourselves. Mounds of plastic. On the sand, between the rocks, in the bushes... it was everywhere.

We got to work gathering it up as best we could. Sixteen big bin liners were filled. If only we'd had sieves as so much of the plastic has been reduced to tiny pieces. However it's the tiny bits that gets washed back out to sea and ingested by fish and turtles, which then die an agonising death.

It was hot and sticky, but it was profoundly satisfying working alongside a group of strangers all wanting to do something for the good of the earth. Focused on the practical work meant I stopped feeling so annoyed and just got on with the job.

'16 Bin Liners filled - much of it from North Africa'
Photo by Jaume Llinas
Only later did  I reflect on the wonderful coincidence of walking into that shop. To talking to that lady - to her knowing of this man - and to being able to get involved doing something practical about an issue I feel more strongly about each day.

Facebook can be a massive procrastination tool or it can be a tool to make things happen!

What is it that annoys you? Perhaps there's something you can do about it... maybe the next step is just a click away!

Check out the Two Hands Project for an international Facebook page on beach clear up or leave a comment with other pages you've found useful. I've also just heard that World Champion Surfer, Kelly Slater, has just launched OUTERKNOWN, a clothing brand which makes its garments out of ocean waste!