An Indefinite Hiatus from Twitter

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Almost a week ago, I decided to take an indefinite hiatus from Twitter. I haven’t looked back since.

For many reasons, I just don’t feel comfortable using Twitter anymore. It’s definitely not the same place it was back when I first joined. And, to be completely honest, I made myself a promise back when I started my career as an author.

I decided that, if any part of this ever stopped feeling good, I’d stop immediately.

Twitter hasn’t felt good for me in a long time. I straight up get nauseous when it’s time to check my timeline or mentions, wondering Now what? Wondering who’s going to be stomping on #OwnVoices authors while demanding more diversity, or who’s going to be telling me I’m not queer enough or disabled enough. Wondering who’s going to wander into my mentions without actually reading my tweets and start ranting at me. I’ve witnessed authors drag other authors or even bloggers and readers, encouraging their thousands of followers to pile on.

If you stand up and say “This isn’t right,” if you don’t instantly block the “trash” people, you’re out, too. Twitter feels like the digital version of high school: “You can’t sit with us, especially if we see you sitting with her.”

I’m almost 29. I am far too old for these kinds of games. I’ve got lots of books I’d rather focus my energy on writing. Not to mention my energy is already lacking, thanks to a current flare.

I’ve tried taking regular Twitter breaks. I’ve tried paring down the number of people I follow. These things helped a little, but they weren’t enough in the long-term.

So I’ve decided I’m done.

I’d already decided to focus my time and money on Facebook. Now that I’ve connected my Facebook page to my reader group, it’s so much easier for me to manage everything. Through research, I know that Facebook is where I need to be if I want to connect with readers. Plus, I’ve made some lasting connections with other authors there.

Authors who are professional and courteous, even when they feel passionately about something.

From here on, my Twitter page will serve as an outpost. I will not be checking mentions or DMs. I have, however, unlocked my account again; I will be tweeting only when I have news to share, and it will usually be an auto-shared link to my blog.

I’m still on Facebook—and have a reader group—as well as Instagram. You can also join my email list.

In the words of the wise Steve Jobs:

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

It feels so good and quiet now, I can hear myself again.

Lessons Learned

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Five years ago, when I first started out on my publishing journey, I naively thought that I could use my existing social media for my new business. It wasn’t hard to separate business from personal at first, but everything changed when I signed with my publisher. Suddenly authors were friend-requesting me on Facebook, even though I’d resolved to keep my personal profile separate from my business page. I felt bad denying requests, though, and soon my feed became a mix of everything ever.

A friend suggested I make a separate account strictly for business. She’d done so and, even though it was one more account to manage, it’d helped her separate the two. I still stubbornly insisted that I only wanted one. Over the years, readers began friend-requesting me from my reader group. It was fun being friends with both readers and colleagues as well as my IRL family and friends, but it also got tricky.

For example, if I wanted to go on Facebook just for fun, there was no avoiding work-related things. If a friend tagged me in an off-color meme, I had to do damage control.

Keeping the two separate was getting more and more difficult. I kept tossing the idea around, but hesitated because creating a second account and moving people, pages, and groups around would be a gargantuan task. It wasn’t as if I had spare hours to just sit around cleaning up my social media act.

This weekend I decided it was time, though. Today I sat down and created a separate Facebook; soon I’ll be doing the same for Twitter. If you’re an author, reader, or someone else in the book biz and you get a friend request from this account, it’s really me. I’m friend-requesting here and there, though, so it doesn’t get too tedious or hard on my wrists. Feel free to add me if I haven’t already made it to you!

There’s an old saying that you can’t mix business with pleasure, and even though I love what I do, it’s still true. I’m really looking forward to being able to sign into Twitter, for example, and just see book stuff.

Speaking of book stuff, today I hit 28K for Any Other Love. I’m thinking about release dates now, and I’ll be able to share more info soon! 💜

Are you on Facebook?

Like my author page · Add me as a friend
Join my reader group

Quoted on TODAY Show and Washington Post

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Sometimes something happens and you can feel that it’s A Big Deal—a milestone. Last night I found out through a couple people on Twitter that I’d been quoted in the media.

It’s super important to me that people with chronic illnesses have our voices heard, that we aren’t erased or romanticized. Seeing my words in the media—having my voice heard on this level—is surreal in a way that I can’t even explain. It’s also made me stop and think about a couple things.

I never knew I’d be an activist. Sure, I’ve always been passionate. (Just ask my parents and partner.) I’ve also long been shy and, for quite a while, lost my voice. It wasn’t until more recently that I’ve begun speaking out. I want awareness for people with chronic illnesses. I want able-bodied people to treat us better, to stop judging us by how we look or don’t look. I want better accessibility. (Yesterday I went to a restaurant and their ladies’ restroom barely fit me, never mind a wheelchair.) I want so very many things… and so I think I have to sit down and come up with some goals, focus my efforts a bit more than just sharing my story and speaking out when I come across something wrong. I want to do more.

It’s also made me stop and think about how much my words matter. As a writer, I think I’m maybe a bit more aware of the weight of my words. Seeing them in the media puts it into a whole different perspective, though. I’ve always strived to be myself on social media; I’m going to swear and share cat pics, but I’m also not going to join the mob with pitchforks when there’s a tweetstorm. I want to be professional but firm, serious but kind.

It’s truly surreal to see your words out in the wild, to know that they were on how many thousands of TV screens in an instant. My life hasn’t changed—I didn’t get an influx of followers or anything like that—but in 140 characters, I helped people see how that Cosmopolitan article was focusing on the wrong inspirational story. I’ve been part of the conversation for years, but I feel like this week, I was truly heard—along with so many others in the community.

Hey, I wonder if maybe now Washington Post will accept my article about opioids being a lifesaver for people with chronic pain. 😉

The One Where I Ask for Your Help

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via Unsplash

I’m stubborn. It’s literally in my blood; my great-grandmother, both my grandparents, and my dad are all super stubborn, so it was inevitable that it’d be coded into my DNA. My motto is basically “I’ll handle it myself,” which means that I’ll mulishly insist on DIYing it until it gets really bad and I’m forced to let someone help me. And I hate asking.

In the past nine years, though, I’ve had to let go of my pride and learn when to ask for assistance (like when I can’t walk to the bathroom or when I need to open a jar of sugar for my coffee). Being sick has forced me to change perspective… yet I still hate asking.

Which is why it’s really hard for me to write this post.

I need help—we, meaning Mike and I, need help. We totally thought we had everything under control, but his “full-time” job regularly cuts his hours and we’ve been falling further and further behind on bills. Despite dozens of applications and several interviews, he’s having a hard time finding something else. Recently, our refrigerator died and we had to replace all of our food. Immediately after that catastrophe, our rent went up. Mike has been sick with an upper-respiratory infection and is out of work for now, and I’ve been struggling with a flareup. We’re both super stressed, and while we’ve been able to borrow money from wonderful friends and family (and pay it back), we’re still falling behind.

It’s a rat race.

We don’t have a lot of bills—just rent, electricity, car insurance, two credit card payments, and groceries (which we receive SNAP for, but it fluctuates and we often pay for food out of pocket). We don’t even have cable (but thanks to a sweet friend, we do have Netflix). We live simply—for example, I make almost all our meals from scratch and rarely buy pre-prepared foods like sauce or Rice-a-roni—but with one income, it just isn’t enough.

I feel weird asking people to just give me money; if possible, I’d like to work my ass off in exchange. I love helping my fellow indies, and in the past five years, I’ve gotten good at a lot of things.

Recently I sat down and came up with some author services I can offer to my fellow indies:

  • social media banner design
  • ebook formatting
  • beta reading
  • blurb writing

These are all things I enjoy doing for people, and have done in the past for brief stints. But I need as much freelance work as I can possibly get right now.

I’m also offering the following to those who would like to help but don’t necessarily need any services:

  • ebook copy of one of my books
  • ebook copies of all 10 of my books
  • signed paperback copy of one of my books

And both J.C. Hannigan and Molli Moran have generously offered ebook copies of a couple of their books in exchange for donations.

I’ve opened up a GoFundMe page. Click here to donate and select your reward. Or, if you’re more comfortable, email me at elizabethbaronebooks@gmail.com and I can invoice you via PayPal. Alternately, I have both the banner design and ebook formatting gigs set up on Fiverr.

If you can’t donate, I completely understand; I know a lot of us have fallen on hard times. Virtual hugs and good thoughts are much appreciated and needed! And if you can, please share this post with your book community friends.

I’m grateful for any help at all—even if it’s a simple comment on this post wishing us well.

Thank you so much.

Click here to donate via GoFundMe »

XOXO,
Elizabeth Barone

Unplug, For Fuck’s Sake

via Unsplash
via Unsplash

For quite some time, I had a hard and fast rule: no social media on weekends. Over time I started bending it. After all, my life doesn’t stop on Saturdays and Sundays, and I enjoy sharing it (especially on Twitter). I still try to hop on as little as possible, using my time to just recharge. But this weekend, I needed a cold turkey cleanse.

I completely unplugged from both Twitter and Facebook—a feat that required gargantuan effort. Actually, Friday night I hopped on several times “just to see.” What I was trying to see, I don’t exactly know. Truthfully it was my way of getting another fix. I didn’t cut myself off from Instagram and Pinterest, but I used them only minimally. Mostly I relaxed.

On Saturday, I slept in until 2:30pm. My friends with children are glaring so hard at me right now, but in my defense I hadn’t slept Thursday night, and I’ve been fighting off flareup fatigue while juggling anxiety attacks. I desperately needed the rest—even if I woke up somewhat panicked because more than half the day was already gone.

Sometimes, you just need quiet time.

Because the last couple of weeks had been full of panic attacks, I really needed to calm my mind. Thankfully, my old therapist E gave me some really great tools. I used eucalyptus essential oil to combat my three-day tension migraine. If you put some on your chest, the back of your neck, your forehead, and temples, it really helps sooth the pain.

I also binged The Fosters. If you haven’t caught this show, you need to. Going in, I thought it was going to be a lighthearted family show. And for the most part, it is; no matter what happens, you know the Adams-Foster family goes to sleep with love in their hearts. But damn, do they tackle some heavy stuff. They do it in such a way, though, that you can’t help but feel good (even after they’ve played with your emotions and made you cry). I love the healthy relationships and choices they portray. No matter how hard things get, there’s always a chance for these characters to move forward. And the fact that this show is so pro-LGBT+ makes it even more of a winner.

In between episodes, Mike and I started Luke Cage, which is like a billion times better than those other Marvel shows. *cough* Daredevil *cough* Jessica Jones *cough* I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who doesn’t dig those shows. I tried really hard to like Daredevil, but I couldn’t even get through one episode of Jessica Jones. However, Luke Cage is kick-ass. Maybe it’s because Mike Colter is oh-so-damn handsome. Or maybe it just took some time for the team behind these shows to really hit their stride. But the acting, pace, story, and characters are just phenomenal. We’ve only been able to watch one episode a night, and I’m dying for more.

Side note: I recognized Colter from Ringer and The Following right away. I was super excited, because I loved him on those shows. He’s such an awesome actor. And did I mention how gorgeous he is? 😍

We also went grocery shopping, which ended up a bit more of an adventure than intended because we ran out of money before we could finish. Starving artist problems, sigh. I’m so looking forward to the day when we don’t have to worry about these things. But we have enough to get us through the next couple of weeks, and that’s all that matters.

On Sunday, I spent the entire day binging The Fosters and working on a project I’d thought I’d completely abandoned. Back in 2007 when I was in college, I took a crafts class as an elective. It was a difficult course because it was very hands on, and that was around the time when my arthritis first started. I had to get a doctor’s note to skip certain projects because they put too much strain on my wrists, and it broke my heart. However, there was one activity that I really fell in love with: embroidery.

Even after the semester ended, I continued playing with it, learning new stitches and working at my own pace. Though it is hard on my hands, I’ve found that using a hoop really helps. Frequent breaks, too. 😉 I’d started a project in 2012-ish, recreating leaves placemats that I’d seen in the Kohl’s store I worked in at the time. They weren’t even that pretty, and the store had jacked the price way up. I thought to myself, I can totally make those, and started… but never finished.

In fact, when I picked it back up again this weekend, I realized I’d made even less progress than I’d thought. I was able to finish my first one, though, and nearly completed a second. By the time I went to bed last night, I was so relaxed, I dropped off to sleep almost right away. And I didn’t even need the eucalyptus oil!

This weekend I also got to spend a little much needed time with my sister-in-law. We jammed out to this song on the radio, which I’d heard before but hadn’t caught the artist. Now I know and Kiiara is fantastic writing music. I just love how chill this song is, and her voice is angelic.

This weekend I learned something really cool about myself: No matter how hard things get, I’ll always work through them and move forward. In the past, my anxiety and depression have felt suffocating, like they would go on forever and ever. While my anxiety was pretty bad these last couple weeks, the key difference this time around was that I knew eventually it would pass—especially if I kept using my self-care tools. This time last year, I was so lost, but in the past twelve months I’ve grown in leaps and bounds. I’m a completely different person. I’m still me at my core, but I’m also stronger. More confident. Empowered, not ashamed.

In the quiet of my calm mind this weekend, I sat reflecting on all of this. It feels so good to be in this place, to be this version of me. Even though I still have my challenges to work though, I’ll always keep moving forward.

And when I need a break, I’ll keep making myself unplug, for fuck’s sake. 😉

8 Reasons Not to Date the Band

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via Unsplash

Last night @SeriousGirlGang threw one of their usual hashtag parties. They’re always a blast, and often trend, but #ReasonsNotToDateMe was especially fun. There are a lot of reasons not to date me, but since Mike took care of that problem three years ago, I thought it’d be fun to tweet from the point of view of the South of Forever gang.

It was way too easy to riff on these guys.

If you want to see all of my #ReasonsNotToDateMe tweets, click the tweet below to see the thread.

Since they were so fun, I figured I’d do a few more.

Reasons Not to Date Jett

  • I’ll spend all of my money on boots… then all of your money on more boots.
  • If you like hot showers, don’t hold your breath. I take long, hot baths.

Reasons Not to Date Koty

  • Because of my stint with the boy band ESX, I never have to work again, and I’ll always try to rescue you with my cash.
  • I have zero taste in home decor, unless you count stainless steel and leather.

Reasons Not to Date Savannah

  • I’ll put your kid in daycare behind your back so that I can focus on my painting career.
  • Most of the closet we’ll share will be occupied by half-finished paintings.

Reasons Not to Date Max

  • My ex is crazy. Like, legit crazy. She’ll sneak attack you without you ever even seeing her.
  • I have a B.S. in education, but I impulsively moved to Boston and joined a band instead of finding a teaching position.

Reasons Not to Date Poppy

  • I will always look more put together than you. I have outfits for days.
  • The first time I ever drove on my own—licensed, of course—was in a snow storm. Wearing wedges.

Reasons Not to Date Griff

  • Since I’m pushing thirty, I have a bad case of family fever.
  • If things with the band don’t work out, I’ll go back to playing minor league hockey. Or just retire early with my trust fund.

Reasons Not to Date Krista

  • I’m not looking for a relationship. To quote Group X: I just want bang-bang-bang.
  • Hos over bros. Sisters before misters. Period.

Reasons Not to Date Perry

  • I enjoy long walks to the liquor store and relaxing one-night stands.
  • My hair will always be cooler than yours. Fuck yeah, dreads!

For more of the South of Forever gang, pick up your free copy of Diving Into Him.

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WIP Joy: Just One More Minute

In June, I participated in a challenge called #WIPjoy. Every day, authors tweeted about their current work in progress, using a daily prompt.

CjjS7zeUgAIXm5W.jpg-largeThe goal is to share tidbits from your work in progress with other writers and readers.

I’m not good at challenges, mostly because I forget to post. True story. I’ve abandoned more challenges than I can count because I fall behind every single time. Often, I won’t even start one because I know I’ll inevitably forget. The thing is, challenges like this are good for many reasons:

  • they help you meet readers
  • they allow you to look at your work from another angle
  • they put you in touch with other authors

The second point is the most useful to me. Writing often feels solitary and when I’m elbow deep in a draft, I have no idea whether what I’m doing will work or not. I only know that the story is interesting to me. #WIPjoy convinced me that Just One More Minute is just as exciting to readers as it is to me. Most of my tweets received some kind of positive feedback, whether in an enthusiastic tweet back, a like, or a retweet.

Not that I’d stop anyway. I’m having way too much fun hooking up Rowan and Matt!

For those of you who aren’t on Twitter or who missed some of the days, here’s a recap!

Tell us about your WIP!

Introduce your protagonist’s* awesomeness!
*main character, also known as the person we’re rooting for

Share a line showing your WIP’s atmosphere.

Share a line about one of your WIP’s main emotions.

The character you relate to most, and why.

A character who shares a flaw with you.

Did you base anyone off a real person?

Share a line that shows a character’s sense of humor.

Which character(s) would you want to be roommates with?

Share a line that makes you want to hug a character.

A minor character with author-headcanon* you adore.
*Meaning something only the author knows.

Share a chapter beginning you love.

How do you want readers to view the protagonist at the beginning? and at the end?

Share a line where a character tries something new.

What grabs you about your premise?

What sticks with you about the ending?

At the end, how has your protagonist made you proud?

Share a chapter end that you love.

Does your WIP have a contagonist*?
*temptation to a character’s conscience

Share a line that mentions food.

Does the weather/nature act as antagonist* at any point?
*villain or force working against the protagonist (can be another person, an element, or even the main character’s emotions)

Share a line about a smell.

Is this a kissing book? 😉

Tell us something your character would hate for us to know.

Do your characters feel like your friends? kids? both? something else entirely?

What keeps you working on this WIP?

What threatens your writing joy? How do you combat it?

What do you want the future book cover to look like?

What’s the best thing people can say to you about this WIP?

What are you planning for your next WIP after this one?

Add Just One More Minute to your shelves on Goodreads. Tap here.