Tag Archives: social media

Politics Is Ugly: Can We Change It?

I don’t often, if ever, get political on my blog, but I am political.
I am a big fighter for human justice, fairness and compassion,
and the way the world is lead is important to me.

Politics is Ugly - Lies and Deceit – We Need Change - The Last Krystallos
I don’t want this post to be about my political leanings.
We all have them and in this world, at least where I live, we are free to air them. I realise not all parts of the world have this freedom, and I am very grateful that I live with political freedom. Our views, our opinions and our politics are our own and we are allowed them.

Politics is getting very ugly.

Some of you, who are much better historians than me, will point out that politics has always been ugly. That it’s always been full of lies, deceit, ambition, and corruption. You’re probably right. But with the advent of social media, we are perpetuating it ourselves. I’ve been accused of sharing social media posts, memes, and articles without checking the facts, and years ago I did, until I began checking facts before reposting. I try not to post anything, except my opinion, unless I’ve checked facts first, though I will post others’ opinions, because I am allowed to do that too.

union jack, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Brexit was ugly. Brexit (the UK Referendum on whether to leave the European Union) was perpetuated with lies no matter which side of the argument you were on. It was undercut with lies, xenophobia, name-calling, and scare-mongering on both sides. The party leadership contests are the same, and don’t get me started on the American Presidential election.

This post isn’t about my politics, but I do want to discuss the ugliness of politics. PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) in the British Parliament is ugly, always has been. They laugh, bully, put each other down, and generally act like they are on a school playground, or in a farmyard, though these analogies are very unfair to both children and farm animals. PMQs is game playing, on both sides. It’s like Good Cop Bad Cop. It’s about half an hour on a Wednesday when the Prime Minister answers MP’s questions in the House of Commons. But it’s hostile.

If you know me well, you will know my political leanings. I don’t hide them, and recently on Twitter I shared the following two tweets when Theresa May our new PM took her first PMQ session:

I got a lot of agreement and some opposition, that’s cool, it’s my opinion after all. On the 13th July, I listened to Theresa May’s speech outside number 10 Downing Street with interest. She had just become our new Prime Minister and her speech was very good. She spoke about poverty, welfare, people, and the struggles we go through every day. She, according to her speech, knew exactly what state the country was in and vowed to change it and help us. Within days her Cabinet was reshuffled and familiar faces we’d hoped to see gone were there, and our faith was diminishing. And, yes, how you feel will be akin to your political leaning. I’m allowed mine.

Theresa-May-Jeremy-Corbyn-PMQs

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn Photo Source

So PMQs was the first time to see her in action. And this is where I saw the true ugliness of politics. Every question was blocked by posturing, jibes, name-calling – and yes, politics does not change. The people do, the actions don’t.

But what shocked me most was the media bias.

It was reported, gleefully, that Theresa May had wiped the floor with her opponent. Now regardless of your politics, if I’d seen this the other way round I’d have been just as shocked. It’s not that she’s Tory, but that her body language (leaning forward to intimidate), her tone (aggressive), her words (demeaning, bullying, and cruel personal insults), and her expression (calculated revulsion and sneers) spoke volumes.

Since when is someone considered strong because they can insult someone better than someone else?

Since when has great leadership consisted of putting down the opposition?  

The media reporting was and has been very biased towards one party. Maybe this has a great deal to do with Rupert Murdoch owning the media brands we listen to or read. But the media bias has been so strong lately that it needs looking into and changing. The BBC is supposed to be unbiased, but is it?

These two reports: BBC admit intentionally damaging Corbyn leadership with contrived live resignation, and the Independent’s Our report found that 75% of press coverage misrepresents Jeremy Corbyn – we can’t ignore media bias anymore, show just how much damage is being done in the name of the media. Whether you like Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn or not, you can’t help notice the media portray him as a loser. I watched the interview with Andrew Marr recently, and found a calm, well-spoken politician who put across a strong vision for Britain, but the media don’t show that in general. He is spoken of as unelectable, yet the people have voted in their droves for him.

I’d like to see both leaders taken seriously, and both leaders to take their responsibilities seriously too. I felt that Corbyn had nothing to say during Brexit, maybe he didn’t, but maybe it was just unreported. I also commented during Brexit that the Liberal Democrats had been conspicuously absent. But when I spoke to a Lib Dem supporter, he assured me that Tim Farron had been at many rallies, spoken well and was well-versed in his opposition to Brexit, but I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him on British media. On the other hand, UKIP was totally over-represented considering they have less members of parliament than the Lib Dems (UKIP: 1, Lib Dems: 8). The Greens and UKIP have one member of parliament each, yet, who did you see more of during Brexit?

Fair reporting is one thing I’d like to see.

The other is less lies, I’d like to see no lies, but that is probably both unlikely and impossible!  The lies during Brexit were breath-taking in their arrogance, but I won’t go into that, done and dusted.

I am seeing the same thing in American politics, and fear the same outcome in their Presidential Election. Outright lies, xenophobia, and scare-mongering.  The fear of having Donald Trump become President of the United States, outweighs my fear over leaving the EU one hundred fold, despite the problems leaving the EU is bringing. Our pound is unstable, and has lost a lot of ground against foreign currency, this means something to me as I send my son money in Canada, and where £50 would have given him $100, it now only gives $85. That’s a big loss when every penny counts. Food prices here are rising and we have yet to see where trade goes. Hopefully as a country we can make the best of it. But Donald Trump? I’m on the Nope Train with that one.

The reporting in the US is diabolical and much of the electioneering is about honesty or dishonesty. This chart shows how damaging the reporting is. From my newsfeeds and the media I’ve seen surrounding Trump and Clinton (and incidentally, Obama, who I’ve had great respect for) both are seen as unethical and dishonest. I’ve even seen Hillary Clinton bandied about as being criminal. This article Lying Liars Who Lie: 2016 Edition, (ignore the religious tones if that’s not your thing the sentiment is still the same) points out that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Jeb Bush, are some of the most honest politicians around. Then you can take a look Donald Trump’s results…

Sometimes I wonder at people.

  • Edited on 26th July 2016 (day before posting): Having just watched Michelle Obama’s DNC (Democratic National Convention) speech, I feel things can change. It doesn’t matter which side you are on, it’s her interest and passion we need to change how politics work. Ignore who she supported if you’re not with Hillary Clinton, but notice how Michelle speaks, how she offers truth and facts with passion and without putting down the opposition with a cruel personal attack. That’s how I want my politics. 

“When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is: when they go low, we go high.” – Michelle Obama DNC Speech 2016

Michelle Obama DNC speech 2016

Michelle Obama DNC Speech 2016 Photo taken from You Tube video

This post was not written to further my political views, but to show much I wish politics could change.

There is no strength in bullying, intimidating, or invalidating the opposition.
There is no honour in lying to the public.
There is no humanity in deceit.
So why do we fall for it and could it ever change?

Can politics and the media surrounding it ever become honest and not corrupt?

*Note on comments: everyone is allowed a valid opinion, but if any comments are deemed attacking, aggressive, or inciting they will be removed or unapproved. Don’t feed the trolls.  

 

How an Introvert Discovered the True Value of Friendship

‘They might not need me; but they might. I’ll let my head be just in sight;
a smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity.’

Emily Dickinson’s words ring true – someone might need you.

How an Introvert Discovered the True Value of Friendship - The Last Krystallos
Life has been hard lately.
I’m not just talking about my own life – which has been shatteringly exhausting and left me on a precipice – but those around me have been struggling too. And when you look further afield, easy to do with social media and television in our laps, the world seems to be besieged and careworn, to say the least.

I have decided to love - Martin Luther King Jr, 1967 - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The world has been full of discord, death, politics, and division which reap uncertainty and insecurity, and I can see each of these things in my own personal life and amongst those close to me too. Add physical and mental illness to that and you have a cauldron of despair.

As an empath I absorb, I can walk into a room and absorb the emotions of those around me, but as the world about us shatters, soaking up its emotions is downright dangerous. I can’t dwell on what’s happening worldwide, or even in my own life, instead I want to concentrate on how we deal with the fallout. How we can cope.

Ian Hislop editor of Private Eye magazine recently said about those who voted Remain in the Brexit referendum after we’d been told many times to ‘shut up and live with the decision’“Even if you lose the vote you are entitled to go on making the argument,” This also works with all the mess inside our lives, or in the world at large, we can and should talk about it. But who do we talk with?

Kindness is more than... C. Neil Strait

© Lisa Shambrook

As I stand on the edge of this abyss luring me into a major depressive episode, I fight. Some days I don’t think I’ll win the battle, other days – like my last blog post – I know I can triumph. But what helps me fight? Who helps me fight?

The easy answer is my family. Without them I would be lost and I would not be here. But the bigger answer swathes a multitude of people in my life, most of whom I either do not physically know or who live many miles away from me.

DFQ-con-minion-con-nottingham-uk june 2015

My Writing Community – DFQ UK

Social Media has been a life saver. That might sound extreme, but it’s very true. I don’t find socialising easy or even possible at times, due to crippling social anxiety. I can overcome it, but usually only in my author guise, you’d be surprised how many authors have significant social anxiety, but that’s another story, so I find making friends very difficult. A year tutor’s school report that upset me greatly, back in year ten, told me I was ‘aloof’. She totally mistook being shy and anxious as being aloof and superior. If she’d taken time to get to know me she’d have found a generous, warm and giving spirit.

The advent of Facebook and Twitter, though, offered me friendships within my own living room. I had the chance to catch up with old friends, find new ones, and I discovered my community. I found people who not only understand me, but those who openly embrace me and love me.

They might not need me but they might - Emily Dickinson - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Take another look at Emily Dickinson’s poem – someone might need you. It might only be a smile, or a hug, and they might be virtual, but still a necessity. Kindness, friends, love and compassion are essential for the human spirit. Every comment on my blog, or Twitter, or my Facebook wall matters to me. Some have even saved me.

Friends are those who notice when you slip and are there to stop your fall... The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Friends help me fight. Friends help me battle the injustice of life and help me see the good and the beautiful. Friends support me and lift me. Friends have given me reason and love.  

Bekah at Calon Sept 2014

© Lisa Shambrook

Having a multitude of online friends from across the world has taught me much. I am learning now that I can foster friendships locally too. I used to feel insecure and unable to invest in friendships where I would actually have to put in time and effort. The natural introvert in me backed away from occasions where I could make friends and interact. I have some lovely friends in my life, who I have often neglected, not purposefully, but out of anxiety and insecurity. Learning that I can ask for support, or even accept it when it’s offered, is a huge and wonderful step for me. I am finally accepting invitations and discovering how powerful and necessary friends are, both online and in my physical life.

Meeting up for a hot chocolate, FB messages, and even texts (I don’t do phone calls!) from those who live close by are becoming more important to me as a support network, and I am extremely grateful for those care and take the time to be my friend.

We all need friends – I won’t quote song lyrics but there are hundreds of them alluding to the importance of friendships – and despite being a lone wolf introvert I’m finally realising why.

Kindness has a beautiful way of reaching down... unknown

© Lisa Shambrook

This week, be a friend, let your smile be just in sight.

Friends are those who notice when you slip and are there to stop your fall; and even better are those who hold your hand and your heart and prevent you slipping in the first place.

What’s your definition of a friend?

How important are friends in your life?

(This post is dedicated to those who matter  – the friends who have seen me through the tough times, whether you live close by or hundreds, or thousands of miles away –
You Know Who You Are
– because you are those who have commented, messaged and spoken to me and kept me here – Thank you ❤ ) 

How to Create a Strong Author Platform that Works for You

How do you create a positive and visible author platform?
How do you bring readers to you instead of having to search them out?

How to Create a Strong Author Platform that Works for You - The Last Krystallos
Having published, with or without the help of Traditional Publishing, you will need a platform. The book market is saturated and if you publish and sit back waiting for people to find you and your books, you may be waiting interminably. Even traditional publishers require a huge amount of author input and rely on you having a good social media platform to begin with. So where do you start?

facebook-author-page-lisa-shambrook

I began with Facebook. I had a personal account with strong privacy settings, but that won’t inform the world about your books beyond your friends and family. So, you’ll need a Facebook Page. There’s a lot of debate about whether Facebook’s algorithms make Pages worthwhile, but it’s still a good place to start and build up a following. It’s important to note that unless you and your followers/likers interact it’s unlikely your posts will be seen, so make an effort to interact and post regularly.

Facebook allows you to add several great functions to your Page. The Call to Action button allows you to add a link to your shop/Amazon, so people can immediately find your product. Add the Author Marketing App so you can add your books either manually or via their ISBN and have easy access to all your books from your Facebook page.   

twitter-page-lisa-shambrook

Then there’s Twitter. I cut my teeth on Twitter before anything else. I wanted everyone to know about my book so joined Twitter – I will be forever grateful, though, that I never crammed my twitter feed with my books above interacting. There it is again that word – interact – the most important word on social media. Even if you’re only using social media for marketing, you are building relationships first and foremost. Don’t underestimate the value of friends and relationships online.

Make sure your Twitter Bio is strong, a brief introduction to you and your audience. Add a link directly to your books or website or blog whichever is your primary source for information and sales. And Twitter is the Queen of Hashtags so use them – in your bio and in your tweets – to help people find you and your content.

Some Twitter etiquette advice:
Don’t be the person who Tweets endlessly about your books and nothing else – and don’t RT endlessly everyone else’s books. People will tire of a stream of book ads and will either turn off your RT’s or unfollow you.
Don’t use DM (Direct Messages) unless you are actually contacting someone for a reason, and not to advertise yourself. If you DM me as soon as I follow you with ‘Thanks for following you can find my books (here) and my FB page (here) and please buy my books – because I’m getting desperate…’ then I will unfollow you. Direct Messages are almost sacred and should be used sparingly, as such. By all means when you’re followed tweet the new follower with a welcome message and interact with them, but don’t use DM’s unless you are asking them something that can’t be shared publicly.
I will also unfollow those who Tweet ‘I’ve had 26 unfollowers today – I know who you are…’  Nobody cares who follows or unfollows you and if I see you using this app when I check out your feed before following, you’ll have lost me straight away.
Some people believe Twitter is all about numbers and how many followers you have. Maybe that works. However, I follow someone because I’m interested in what they might have to say not because I just might, and might is the operative word, sell you something. If I had hundreds of thousands of people to follow I’d never be able to interact and to create friendships and relationships, and for me Twitter gave me friends and a writing community which I adore.

google-plus-lisa-shambrook

Google+ is important, more because its content is indexed and it helps you raise your profile and online rankings. I don’t understand a lot about SEO, but I do know that if someone shares your content on Google+ that post will rank higher and can be found within the hugeness of the web much more easily. I find Google+ difficult to work with, but persevere and benefit from it. Create your Brand Page or personal page in a similar way to Facebook and interact.

amazon-com-author-page-lisa-shambrook

Your Amazon Author Page is of utmost importance when you’re starting out. It shows up with your books on their sale pages on Amazon and adds dimension and interest. Think about when you search for a book on Amazon – when it comes up you read the blurb and scroll to check out the author. This is their Amazon Author Page. Go to Amazon Author Central (and there are several: .com, .co.uk and other countries) and fill it out. Link up your blog on the .com site and add your author photo and books. People can also follow you and get updates when you release a book.

pinterest-lisa-shambrook

The next few social media sites are more optional, but worth signing up to and using. Of these Pinterest is the most useful and fun. Pinterest is a giant online noticeboard, you can pin pictures and return to them whenever you wish! Each picture should link to an article or blog post from whence the picture came. Many links are broken on Pinterest, but you can utilise Pinterest by adding great pictures to your own blog posts and adding a ‘Pin It’ tag. Make sure any pictures you use are yours to use and don’t fall foul of copyrights.

instagram-lisa-shambrook

Other useful sites are Flipboard, Stumbleupon, Snapchat and Tumblr. I also love Instagram. Instagram is becoming more useful for marketing as you can post your own ads and personal interest pictures for your followers. Who doesn’t like knowing more about their favourite author’s personal life and what makes them tick or what inspires them? You can share your Instagram pictures on most other social media and spread the love!

Blogs are the best way to get your writing out there and to find new readers. I began blogging on Blogspot, posting my Flash Fiction to a number of sites I followed: Five Sentence Fiction, Visual Dare, Mid Week Blues Buster to name but a few. These sites and exercises helped me to hone my writing and my skills and made me a far better writer than I was. Slowly, my own writing took over my time and my flash fiction decreased.

the-last-krystallos-blog-lisa-shambrook

I re-evaluated my blog and transferred it to WordPress, a site I find much more writer friendly. I had no idea what to post, but blogging is an important way to keep a presence on the internet and to keep my writing public. Often, we writers sit at home and churn out the words, but until a book is released no one sees us and blogging can keep you in the public eye. I decided to pick a few subjects that I loved and wanted to write about, and that fit well with the books I had or was writing. I chose to write about Nature; Mental and Emotional Health; Positivity and Dreams; and writing and reading. Mixed in would be fun posts about whatever took my fancy and flash fiction! I adore nature, the outdoors and its beauty, and nature inspires my writing a great amount, and it meant I could add my own photographs and pictures of flowers and trees! Mental health and reducing its stigma is personally important and I would be able to share my own issues and helps. Dreams and fighting for what you believe is another passion of mine, and all three of these subjects are paramount in my ‘Hope Within’ books, so I love writing and sharing about them!

It’s up to you what you blog, the most important thing is to choose what you love, what’s important to you, and not to get bogged down. You need to love what you’re writing about.

A few tips on blogging:
Love what you write.
Know what you write.
Link back to great sources.
Get and be guest bloggers.
Use your own photographs and pictures to avoid copyright issues, or find free image sites.
Be consistent, in both posting and how you post. Your blog will become part of your brand.

website-lisa-shambrook

Your website is a first stop for most of those searching for you online. They might have seen your business cards, ads, or just heard about you. They need to be able to find you.

Your website might be your blog too. Make sure it’s clean, strong, and consistent with your brand.
I choose to have a Weebly website and a WordPress blog, both link easily to each other via one click. Be sure they do, like me your blog may be named differently to your personal brand, and it needs to be linked. People may find you via your website or blog, so make sure all your social media are linked on both sites. Links to your other media are imperative. Keep them clean and easy to find.

I have several pages on my website: a home page with ads and my author picture; an about page; a book page with links to all my publications; a page of reviews – you can see what readers have thought about my books; a news page; an extras page with downloadables, gallery, fun facts about me, and a few snippets of my flash fiction – try before you buy; and a contact me page with my media kit. I then have direct links to my Blog and Etsy shop!  Make your website fun, informative and accessible.

Once you’ve decided what platforms are important to you, stick with them. You may start using Pinterest and decided it’s not for you. There are no right or wrong answers. No one will force you to interact on Twitter if you hate Twitter! Many people will tell you they sell enough books purely by blogging, or whichever social media suits them. Many will tell you they can’t sell any books despite having every social media set up they can find. You need to learn what works for you. Unfortunately to sell books, you need to market and unless you have a great deal with a publisher right behind you, that job is going to be yours.

The-hope-within-business-cards-lisa-shambrook-books-2015

My last tips are:
Consistency is vital. Use the same author photo across the board on your public platforms. I have a different personal profile pic for my own Facebook, but that’s mine, not my author profile.

On the same note, use the same name. I used to call myself LastKrystallos on Twitter, and you’ll still find The Last Krystallos as my blog name, but changing all my social media to Lisa Shambrook means that I’m much more easily searchable and discoverable. Though my blog is still called The Last Krystallos, you will see that my name and author picture are very visible.

Intersperse your links to your books/blog posts/ads etc with genuine conversation and interaction especially on Twitter and Facebook. You are a person, not a repetitive bot, let people get to know you. If I like someone I’m 100% more likely to buy their writing than if they bombard me with ads and links. Interact.

I hope some of this will be useful to you and will help you create your online presence.
I hope that you’ll interact and discover friends and supporters like I have,
who will delight in both your words and in you yourself!

Let me know if you have any further platform building tips?

#InShadowSelfie – Mental Health Awareness

Last week I discovered #InShadowSelfie thought up by Louise Gornall.
Go take a shadow selfie and help promote Mental Illness Awareness…

inshadowselfie-louise-gornall-mental-illness-awareness-the-last-krystallos-blog-post

It was about the same time the DWP updated their list of health issues that come without physical impairment intimating that sufferers of mental illness are quite able to work and should not be allowed benefits. Last week figures were also released from the government giving numbers of those who’d died within six weeks after being refused benefits. (These figures are subjective, but in my opinion still damning – you can see the reality here.) This is so serious though, that the UN (United Nations) are sending a team to investigate Iain Duncan Smith’s reforms.

© Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

This is important to me for many reasons as I know many people who suffer from mental health related illnesses. I have a history of severe anxiety, panic disorder, and clinical depression. In my early twenties I was signed off work due to these factors and the then little known ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – better known as Post Viral Fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). I left work and received Invalidity Benefit for a couple of years before John Major’s Tory government saw me fit to work. I suffered huge panic attacks amid years of debilitating depression, combined with self-harm and a variety of other symptoms, plus, I was raising my first child, but I was obviously fit to work as there were no physical symptoms. I vividly remember the government doctor telling me that I had no physical symptoms whilst my heart thumped and cramped so much I thought I was having a heart attack, and my legs became pure jelly. I could barely make it out of the examining room without collapsing. I was shattered, exhausted and lost, and spent the next few days at home a mess of tears, shivering loss and quite unable to think straight due to my antidepressants. Hubby worked part time and helped with my daughter as much as he could but I was a mess for those years.

That was back in the early nineties. Have things changed much for mental health awareness since then. Yes, and no. Public perception is marginally better, but government compassion? No.

© Emmie Mears

© Emmie Mears

So, when I saw my friend, Emmie, post on Instagram her #InShadowSelfie last week, I knew it was something I wanted to do too, particularly as I am right now in the middle of a bout of clinical depression.

I found Louise’s blog and checked out her posts about the hashtag, which you can find here and here.

© Louise Gornall

© Louise Gornall

Anyway, I wanted to let Louise explain her hashtag…and I want you to go and support it! Find your shadow, take a selfie and post it on your social media! You don’t have to suffer from mental health issues to take part and every picture posted will help to build awareness!      

Louise, what prompted your idea to raise awareness to invisible mental illness with the hashtag and what made it personal to you?

Hi Lisa. Thank you so much for helping me highlight this project. So, I read this article in Welfare Weekly. Beyond the money part, I was really upset by the list of mental health conditions the DWP say come without physical impairment… On what planet is this? At first I assumed they’d made a mistake because I’m a chick with a laundry list of mental health issues, four of which appear on this list, and most days I can’t get beyond my driveway without passing out. Alas, there’s no mistake. It would seem that because you can’t see bruising or bleeding, I’m not considered physically impaired by my petrified brain. I shudder to think how I’d survive without my family taking care of me. Some days, even the smallest task sends me into a spin.

© Louise Gornall

© Louise Gornall

What’s your biggest frustration with insensitive attitudes to mental health conditions?

I have two. Well, I have about fifty, but these are two I keep seeing a lot of lately. It irks me that people measure suffering. Or weigh suffering against suffering. Phrases like, “Get some perspective…” or “It could be worse…” I’m not a violent person, but this stuff sends me into a table-flipping rage. For starters, if it were that easy to get some perspective, I would have bought it by the bucket-load already. And secondly, I’m not about to tell anyone they don’t know real suffering while they’re shedding tears over a deceased family pet. I don’t assume to know that relationship, or how it worked, or what it meant. If the loss of a pet tears you in two, my only job, as a human being, is to be sympathetic. There are awful things going on in the world, but the strength of suffering will always be measured most by the person affected.

And one more, the idea that people use mental health as some sort of “get out of work free” card drives me up the effin wall. Sure, I can’t go out to work… but then, what about the rest of my life that’s also on hold? People are very ready and willing to shout about me using my disability to get out of a day’s graft, but they don’t mention that it’s also the thing stopping me from being a bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding in Cyprus. Or that it’s the reason I had to give up my horse. They don’t mention that I haven’t seen a film at the cinema in almost two years, that I have no love life, can’t pop to the shop for a bar of chocolate, go out with my friends at the weekend, go and visit my granddad in the hospital before he died. I just wish people would look beyond the little they know about mental illness. I wish they’d worry as much about mental health as they do about money.

© Louise Gornall

© Louise Gornall

What do you hope the #InShadowSelfie will achieve as it grows?

I want people to talk. I want people to feel like they’re not alone. I don’t want suicide to be a person’s only option. I want this thing to grow so big people see it, ask why, and what it’s all about. I don’t want people to feel afraid or isolated. I want mental health to be seen as suffering. I want accusing a self-harmer of attention seeking to become a thing of the past. I want people to stop saying anorexia is all about vanity. I want people to stop telling folks that are being crippled by depression to buck up. I want to join the fight to stamp out stigma.

Thank you for explaining your hashtag to us, Louise, I truly hope it grows and people take it to their hearts.

mental illness visibility quote, lisa shambrook,

© Lisa Shambrook

In my opinion, the government need to think twice before condemning so many people and before telling them they have no physical symptoms and are therefore fit to work.

© Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Does an illness always need to be physical before it’s debilitating? No.  Mental illnesses can be both visible and invisible, and both are debilitating.

Common physical symptoms of mental illness:  heart palpitations, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, flushing, hyperventilation, shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, sweating, tingling and numbness, choking, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle aches, restlessness, tremors/shaking. These can be both minor and major, but should never be dismissed. As always some people can work with these conditions, some cannot and should not, remember the extreme case of the pilot who brought down the Germanwings flight? Each case should be looked at individually, but with understanding, knowledge and most of all compassion.

So, please share your #InShadowSelfie and show your support and help awareness of mental illness. Let’s spread our shadows across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and show that we are not invisible!

What’s in a name? Choosing your social media brand…

How do you choose your social media brand,
the name you’re going to be known and recognised as?

what's in a name, choosing your social media name, how to choose a social media name, twitter name,
Many new to social media and those looking to brand themselves online wonder where to start when asked to choose a name.

For some it will make sense to stick closely to your given name, especially if you’re a writer or your product bears your own name. For others you can introduce a little more fun or intrigue, whichever you prefer!

The Last Krystallos © Lisa Shambrook

The Last Krystallos © Lisa Shambrook

When I first joined Twitter, I was shy and was faced with quickly choosing a name to sign up with. I grabbed my favourite dragon and title of a yet to be finished novel, and became @LastKrystallos.

I had no idea how important this name would become to me.

When I began writing my series of dragon adventure novels over a decade ago, I researched names to call my dragons. I have several, which I won’t name here, but as my last Krystallos has been out there for a while, I’ll talk about him.

Kryos, my last Krystallos and my social media moniker*, is a dragon that lives within my fantasy tales…he’s been featured in several Flash Fictions: Love, and Memories, and the latter piece placed in a contest. I wanted a name that meant something to me, that would be instantly recognisable and that people would ultimately connect with me.

Last Krystallos Publishing

Last Krystallos Publishing

*I joined Twitter back in 2011 and have since become @LastKrystallos on Instagram, I am The Last Krystallos on Flickr and eBay, on my now defunct Blogspot and on WordPress. I comment on Blogger blogs with Last Krystallos, and write flash fiction under it, and many other sites also are familiar with my nickname. I use my own name on Pinterest and Google+. I am also owner of the Last Krystallos Publishing imprint and both myself and my books are linked intrinsically to the name.

If you Google Krystallos you can find me, and if you searchLast Krystallos, it will be pretty much predominately my sites. I’ve also tagged almost all my online photographs with the name too, so they appear quickly within image search parameters.

My Blog banner containing my blog name and branding... © Lisa Shambrook

My Blog banner containing my blog name and branding… © Lisa Shambrook

Now what does this say? Firstly, your name will spread, it will appear across the span of the internet faster than you think and once there, it will remain. Secondly, that your choice is of great importance. If your name is out there, you need to be sure it’s the name you want and are comfortable with.

My website - note consistent photo, colours and imagery © Lisa Shambrook

My website – note consistent photo, colours and imagery © Lisa Shambrook

Consistency is very important. My branding of Lisa Shambrook as the Last Krystallos is successful; the two names will always be associated. I am careful that across my social media I use the same names, the same photographs, logos, and images. For instance, this blog has the same background as my website and I use the same author photograph to identify myself. You’ll find different photos on my personal Facebook page, but my Author Page and in general my social media will be easily identifiable as mine. Your social media are an extension of you and recognition is paramount.

Also remember, as you progress you will need to periodically update. When you change your professional media photograph remember to change it across your media.  

So, when choosing your name:

Be sure you think about what you want to be known as, it’s going to be very difficult to change once it’s out there. Is it memorable, can people spell it?   

Choose carefully and research the name you want to use. Don’t choose a name that is already associated with another person or product, or you may drown amid their surge. For instance if someone wanted to brand themselves Krystallos, one Google search would show my social media presence and my association may damage theirs, or vice versa. Also, none of us want to tread on someone else’s feet!

Research the meaning of the name you wish to use, be sure it has no derogatory connotations or hidden meanings.

Find a name and stick with it, be sure to use it across the board so you can be instantly connected to that signature. 

Have fun with it, even if you use your own name, you can find an identifiable tag line. Play with ideas, but take your time to choose the right one.

Short and sweet, memorable and different, unusual and intrinsically you…what suits you?

What are some of the more memorable names out there? Why did you choose the name you have?

*EDITED August 2015: I have since decided to change my opinion on Twitter and Instagram particularly. I am now known as @LisaShambrook on Twitter and Instagram.

The reasons are to offer more consistent branding and to be more easily discovered. After all, if my books are known by my name, and they are, then that’s what readers will search. I stand by my love and reasons for The Last Krystallos and my blog will remain the same as it is my personal place. However, I do agree that using your own name, especially as an author, will ultimately make your brand stronger and more identifiable. Make it work for you, but keep it easy to find!