Yummy changes at my Patreon

EDIT 7th December 2017: I’m no longer using Patreon. You can read about why in this post.

A few days ago, I posted a public post at my Patreon, explaining some changes to my reward tiers. Since I know I have some new followers here who I didn’t have when I set up my Patreon and talked about it loads, I’m sharing the info here too…

I’m still very much at the beginning of my Patreon journey and therefore a lot of what I do involves experimentation, learning and rethinking approaches. When I first started using Patreon earlier this year, I created a set of reward tiers with different rewards because it was what most other people I saw on Patreon seemed to be doing.

BUT.

It felt weird and kind of wrong. I don’t use Patreon to create a hierarchy. I use it to create a way for people to contribute financially to my work as a writer and photographer if they want to do that and can afford to. I also use it as a tool to offer some lovely added extras to my most dedicated cheerleaders, and I started feeling like maybe that shouldn’t be down to the difference between $2 a month and $5 a month.

SO.

I’ve edited my reward tiers so that all rewards are available at even the lowest tier. This means that for $2 a month, you get…

  • Downloadable full-resolution versions of all the photos I take each month for personal use.
  • Your name (real, alias or screen-name) listed on my website, and in any books and collections I publish (if you’re a Patron at the time of publishing).
  • Monthly Q&A sessions here on Patreon where you can pick my brain and ask me awkward questions.
  • Downloadable epub, mobi and pdf copies of new books at least a week before they’re published anywhere else.

All posts before today will remain visible to only the Patrons at the reward tiers for which they were originally intended. This seems like the most fair thing to do. From now on, all posts will be visible to everyone pledging $2 or more a month (and there might be a few more public ones thrown into the mix as well).

You may notice that character profiles and drafts have been removed from the rewards. I thought long and hard about this and realised that as an independent author who is responsible for all promotion of my work, I was preventing myself from sharing content more widely that has the potential to create and sustain interest in my books. Because of this, I would like to be able to share this content on my own website, social media and/or publicly through Patreon rather than only with a comparatively small amount of people based on an arbitrary pledge amount.

Because some people choose to pledge more than $2 per month (I love you, you absolute wonders), I’ve left the $5 and $10 options in place for those who wish to contribute those amounts, but from now on ALL Patrons get the same rewards, regardless of pledge size.

With this in mind, if you currently pledge $5 or $10 a month and would like to drop this to a lower tier, you are 100% welcome to do that. I completely understand and expect absolutely no justification or explanation. If you want to do it, go for it. It’s all good. I’m grateful for your pledge, no matter what.

Because I still feel like I’m experimenting and learning here, I can’t guarantee that everything will always stay the same, but I can guarantee that I will always be open, honest and transparent with the people who support me as a creator.

Endless thanks for all your support and encouragement so far ❤

Samhain: My plans for the year ahead

As a Pagan, Samhain is when I celebrate the beginning of a new year. Although the calendar new year inspires a natural sense of looking back, Samhain is when I look forward. It’s when I feel the greatest sense of potential and possibility, when I get excited about things to come. Instead of making resolutions, I decided to set some goals for different areas of my life.

I’ve noticed other people talking about setting a focus word for the year, a concept that feeds into all their plans and goals, and a reminder of priorities when setting objectives. After a year of experimentation and discovery, I feel like it’s time to focus. So my focus word for the coming year is FOCUS. Yes, I tried to find an alternative word that meant the same thing because I don’t like repeating words in sentence, but focus pretty much hits the spot 🙂

Writing

My first big writing goal is to take part in NaNoWriMo 2017. It’s my first NaNo and my project, 22 Cards, will be the longest book I’ve written to date. Because NaNo is all very new to me, I’m aiming for the 50,000 word target but my real focus is on enjoying and learning from the experience. My other writing goal is to publish my novella, Car Thieves, in early 2018. I’m going to aim to publish 22 Cards before the end of 2018, but I’m not honestly sure what the editing process will be like for a book of this length, so this is definitely more of a guideline than a strict deadline.

Blogging

I absolutely adore blogging. It’s an outlet for non-fiction writing, a fun way to connect with other creative people, and a great platform for sharing my photography and fiction. I’m trialling a blogging schedule in my bullet journal at the moment and aim to plan my posts more in advance, with space left for spontaneous posting, rather than just posting things as they come to mind as I’ve been doing since I moved in to this site last year.

Social media

My social media goal for the coming year is to prioritise Twitter. I’ve been using Twitter since 2008 but I started to use it a lot more actively over the last few months, taking part in hashtag games and events for writers, and spending more time connecting with the writing community. It’s been so much fun sharing my work there and meeting like-minded creative people, so I’m really looking forward to what the next year will bring.

Wellbeing

My wellbeing goal is more about maintenance than new things. I recently returned to a consciously structured morning routine involving meditation, yoga and beginning the day feeling relaxed and enthusiastic. My goal for the year ahead is to maintain this routine because it has such a positive affect on how I feel for the rest of the day and my ability to be productive and happy.

So those are my goals for the year ahead. Blessed Samhain and a happy new year to all my Pagan and witchy friends

Silver the kitten is now on Instagram

Because I was in danger of my my entire online presence becoming kitten-based, I decided to create an Instagram account for Silver. You can find him at @fromsilverwithlove if you’d like to follow tiny kitten adventures through regular photo posts.

I’m the new horror photography Community Volunteer on DeviantArt

I’ve been a Community Volunteer with DeviantArt on and off for the last nine years, most recently looking after a variety of different photography galleries under the umbrella of general photography.

As of 26th September, I’m specifically looking after the horror and macabre photography gallery and I couldn’t be happier!

My first term as a Community Volunteer (2008-2010) was with horror photography, so it feels like a return home and I’m super excited about diving back into a specialist focus again, especially one so close to my heart.

It seemed fitting to include the photo above with this news. If you’re interested in how I created it, materials are listed below. I used one studio strobe with a softbox positioned to the left of the shot and a reflector to the right.

Fake blood is Grimas Filmblood A.
Keys are on a 1970-something Yamaha organ (it still works, I love it)
Smoke is delicious aniseed, menthol and mixed fruit vape.
Hand is mine

My writing is a Daily Deviation on DeviantArt!

This is technically last week’s news cause it happened on 2nd September, but I had a bunch of blog posts scheduled already so it’s being announced here today 🙂

My horror flash fiction piece, Spark, was featured as a Daily Deviation on DeviantArt.com. Daily Deviations are “an assortment of submissions are chosen each day by this select group of staff and volunteer members who wish to showcase artwork they have found impressive or otherwise interesting enough to deserve being brought to the attention of the community-at-large”.

This is such a hugely special thing for me, partly because DeviantArt has been my home, family and community online for over a decade, and partly because this is the first Daily Deviation I’ve received for a piece of writing.

*sniffle*

You can read Spark on DeviantArt here, although if you aren’t a logged-in member, you won’t be able to view it because of Mature Content settings (it’s a pretty horrific story). You can read it here on my website though.

How to use Facebook without using Facebook

What I hope for from Facebook: To keep in touch with lovely friends who I don’t get to hang out with often enough (partly due to living in different countries), to celebrate huge life-changing landmarks and small beautiful moments with people I care about, and to share thoughts, ideas and musings with my friends.

What I get from Facebook: Friends-of-friends who seem to use the internet primarily as a tool for arguing, emotional blackmail guilt-trip chain memes, painfully inaccurate political spam, and passive-aggressive vaguebooking.

The thing is, Facebook is actually really useful for some things, like inviting people to events, keeping track of friends’ birthdays, connecting with people through Groups, and managing artist and business Pages (although the value of those is limited due to Facebook throttling the reach of any Page that doesn’t pay them to serve content to people who have made a conscious choice to actually follow the page and view the content).

Because I AM SO DONE with about 90% of Facebook right now, I came up with a bunch of workarounds so that I can continue to use the useful parts of Facebook without having to bother with the parts that make me want to gouge my eyes out with a blunt spoon. I removed the Facebook app from my phone and rarely visit the desktop site either. It’s been a wonderfully positive experience so far!

If you want to do that too, here are some ways you can use Facebook without using Facebook.

 

Messenger as a stand-alone app and site

Messenger has its own mobile app, which you can download and use for free without having any other Facebook apps installed on your device. Notifications are reasonably flexible, so you can choose to have a light, sound or vibration to notify you of new messages…or not! Messenger also has it’s own URL. Simply bookmark messenger.com in your browser, and you’re set.

 

Pages Manager as a stand-alone app and Pages as separate URLs

You can also download Pages Manager as a separate app that can be used for free without having any other Facebook apps installed on your device. While you can select vibration and sound notifications independently of each other, you cannot turn off push notifications permanently through the app as it only gives you the option to turn them off until the following morning. If you want to use Pages Manager without notifications, you can still block notifications in your device’s app manager though.

If you want to visit and manage your Pages in a browser, simply bookmark the Pages themselves so you can access them without having to open the main Facebook site.

 

Groups as a stand-alone site

Facebook Groups are actually pretty useful. I’m part of an active, supportive little writing group on Facebook, a group for staff of a news blog I contribute to, and various other groups for organisations I belong to. Luckily, the Groups section of Facebook has its own URL that you can bookmark! Save https://www.facebook.com/groups/?category=groups in your browser’s bookmarks and it’ll take you right to the list of Groups you’re in, rather than the annoying Discover page.

Unfortunately, Facebook has discontinued it’s Groups app, but if you want to access Groups on your mobile device without going through the main Facebook app, you can still do this with your mobile browser – just sync your bookmarks between desktop and mobile, and you’re sorted!

 

Birthday reminders

Facebook can be super useful for helping you to remember friends’ birthdays. I know there are people giving me disapproving looks for this, but seriously, how is it any different from putting birthdays on your calendar? The point is, you use a tool to be reminded of birthdays.

If you want birthday reminders from Facebook without having to visit Facebook, go to the Email Address section of your notification settings https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=notifications&section=email&view and turn Upcoming Birthdays on. This means you’ll get an email about birthdays from Facebook! If you don’t want those showing up in your inbox, use the settings in your email client to filter them into a separate folder.

 

Creating (and being invited to) Events

You can view Events, including invitations, and create your own by visiting https://www.facebook.com/events/upcoming, which by-passes the main site but still allows you to access everything to do with Events! Annoyingly, there doesn’t seem to be a way (currently, that I can find) of receiving email notifications about invitations without having email notifications generally turned on, but if you can remember to check your emails and other social media sites regularly, it’s not too hard to have a quick look at your Facebook Events too.

If you bookmark the Events URL and sync your bookmarks between your desktop and mobile browser, you can view Events and invitations on your phone or tablet without needing a Facebook app.

If you’re willing to receive push notifications on your desktop even when Facebook is turned off (a big yuck for me personally, but to each their own), you can turn Event-related notifications on through https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=notifications&section=push&view

 

Checking notifications without viewing the rest of your feed

Yep, this is entirely possible! Your Facebook notifications have their own URL at https://www.facebook.com/notifications so you can bookmark that and check in on your notifications when you feel like it without having to view everything else that appears when you go to the main Facebook site.

To select which notifications you receive on Facebook itself (rather than on your mobile device or by email), go to the On Facebook part of your settings page at https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=notifications&section=on_facebook&view and turn individual notifications on and off to suit your needs.

 

Make Facebook less awful when you do visit

Even if you want to avoid Facebook most of the time, you may still feel like having the occasional browse. The FB Purity browser extension is an absolutely amazing customisation tool that allows you to hide pretty much any areas of the site and types of content you don’t want to see. It doesn’t stop people saying daft things (although you can block words and phrases) and it doesn’t magically fact check all the political memes, but it does a fantastic job at hiding adverts, Marketplace, ‘someone Liked this thing’ stuff, Trending news, and all the other annoying, extraneous bits and pieces that clog up Facebook and make it horrible.

 

And finally…

Facebook has a tendency to change, hide and remove settings every now and then, so I can’t guarantee that these instructions will definitely be 100% accurate forever, but they’re correct at the time of posting this. I’m sure I haven’t covered absolutely everything in terms of Facebook workarounds, but I hope this has at least provided a helpful starting point for people who want to  use some of the tools Facebook provides without having to deal with the parts of the site that annoy you or suck your time 🙂

Vlog of reflections, observations and plans

This is a vlog I posted on my YouTube channel a few days ago. It gets unexpectedly emotional (I’m never sure what’s going to come out when I point a camera at myself), but it’s all stuff I really needed to say and it feels seriously good to have said it.

I’m still utterly freaked out by the experience of being on camera, even more so by the experience of watching videos of myself, and posting videos of me rambling stream of consciousness randomness, especially about personally meaningful things, is proving to be a bizarrely healing experience 🙂

Talking on social media about nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups

I originally posted this on my personal Facebook profile earlier today, but the more I think about it, the more I feel it applies to social media in general. I’m not sharing this here to talk you into agreeing with me or to invite you to tell me why you don’t. I’m sharing it in the hope that perhaps it might encourage people to consider things from a perspective other than their own, just as other people’s blogs, posts and articles encourage me to do.

Content warning for mentions of hate groups, violence and my usual delightful turn of phrase.

So, fucking nazis and people’s responses to their activities. I’ve been trying to think of something to say about this because I want to say something. I honestly believe it’s time that everyone said something. So this might not be the most eloquent or palatable of somethings, but it’s where I’m at, so here goes…

I’ve seen a lot of “OMG this is so shocking!” posts. And it is shocking. It’s horrible and awful and shocking. If some people don’t appear to be as shocked as you, remember that rather than it being because they don’t care, it may be because the thing that is shocking to you has already formed part of the landscape of their existence for so long that it no longer surprises them. And possibly when they’ve talked about it before, they’ve been dismissed, ignored, disbelieved or shut down. I’m not saying don’t express your shock, horror, rage or whatever. I’m just saying that when other people don’t, it might not be for the reasons you assume.

I’ve also seen a lot of images being shared, from pictures of recent white supremacist marches to depictions of violence in the not-so-distant past to photographs from wars that most people reading this weren’t alive to see. While those might be important images to share, especially if you are part of a community or a demographic that may not have a strong awareness of the things they depict, please remember that some people seeing them have witnessed or experienced those traumatic events first-hand. I’m not saying don’t share those pictures. I’m just saying please respect that not everyone can cope with looking at them for perfectly valid reasons.

I’ve seen a few people saying, “If you respond to violence with violence, you’re just as bad”. I get this on some level. Sometimes there are different ways to respond to a situation without being violent and often those are more productive and less damaging options. But when your safety and survival (or the safety and survival of someone else) are being threatened, fighting back is sometimes the only option. I’m not saying don’t try to find non-violent approaches where you can. I’m just saying that unless you have literally fought for your own survival, kept throwing punches as you lost consciousness, protected someone who couldn’t defend themselves by putting your own body between them and the person trying to hurt them, please try and understand that your hypothetical situation is someone else’s lived experience and maybe you don’t get to tell them how they should have reacted.

Also, it’s really easy to tell someone, in private, “I agree with you. I support you. I’m on your side.” That is a valuable and important thing to do. But it’s also, if not more, important to stand up and state that position openly when you have the opportunity. Yes, trust in the world in general can be damaged by strangers doing terrible things. But trust in the people close to you, which is arguably more meaningful, can be absolutely obliterated to the point of no return by their choosing to remain silent when it really matters.

And another thing. “You have to respect everyone’s opinion equally” is bullshit. If someone’s opinion is that other people are less than human because of their ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, gender, or mental or physical dis/ability, no-one has to respect that. If someone’s opinion is that other people should be denied human rights, imprisoned, or killed, because of those things, no-one has to respect that either. There is a massive difference between “I politely disagree with your views on an intellectual level” and “You should not be allowed to exist because you are different from me in harmless ways that are inherent to your identity”.

If you feel the need to play devil’s advocate, fuck off. If you feel the need to qualify anything you say with “I’m not a nazi/white supremacist/fascist/total cunt, but…”, fuck off. If you feel the need to say “It’s not that bad” simply because it hasn’t been that bad for you personally or for people you know in the place where you live (yet), fuck off.

Choosing to not take a stance on issues of politics and human rights is a privilege and a luxury that not everyone has. If you want to know “what you would do, if…”, take a look at yourself right now. Because you’re already doing it.

New vlog! Much excite! Much exhaustion!

A new video on my YouTube channel in which I ramble incoherently in a state of extreme tiredness about some cool stuff that I’m doing at the moment. It had been a long day and I’d basically reached the point of being wrapped in a blanket on the couch by the time I did this. I foresee “exhausted and wearing a blanket” becoming a recurring theme on my channel.

I’m on YouTube!

So a few weeks ago, I made a pact with a friend that we’d both have YouTube channels before the end of 2017. Anyone who knows me at all will be fully aware that I am completely terrified of being on video. It freaks me out hardcore. So of course I did it.

Bask in the glory of my nervousness! There will be more videos on the way just as soon as my heart rate goes back to normal and I can cope with talking on camera again. But hey, do something every day that scares you, right?