Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

As an author I’m advised to participate in social media and project myself out onto the world as a human being. Promote the person, not the book. The consensus of opinion is that if I appear to be a caring, thought-provoking, fascinating…insert adjective of choice…person, that this will help me grow my fan base, and build interest in my writing.

This is all well and good in theory, but I happen to be an intrinsically shy person. I don’t like talking about myself. I don’t feel comfortable posting images of my friends, family and the plate of food I ate for dinner. So, what am I supposed to do? What are other introverted writers blogging, Facebooking and generally yapping about in order to build their audience? Or, are they too shy to come out and play?

My Book Manager at Booktrope has encouraged me to be myself, find the platforms that I feel comfortable with, and concentrate on them. Apparently there’s no need to venture into danger zones that make me cringe and fear being spotted in the crowd. Phew! The next question is, which platforms do I feel comfortable with? And what is my theme? A theme, I’m told, is important; it helps to identify my brand.


As a lifelong photographer, social media sites that are image rich would appear to be my best bet. Pinterest is ideal. I can spend all day pressing the heart button and pinning to a variety of boards. Job done. Not quite. I’m supposed to be letting people know who I am. Maybe my art board says enough. Maybe my choice of paintings lets you know that we share the same aesthetic taste and therefore, if we ever met in person, might find something to sit down and talk about.

I’m getting there, we’re now connecting, relating at a more personal level. You won’t know what to feed me for dinner, but you will know which art exhibition to invite me to.

Then, a few months ago, I revolutionised my ability to stay on top of social media. I knew I had to become more spontaneous with my postings, so went out and bought a smartphone! Yeah, yeah, prior to this I was a Blackberry girl, a much faster, more efficient system, but, quite frankly, rubbish for the likes of Facebook and Pinterest. This new phone was going to transform everything, make it easier. Once I got my head around the darn thing!

It came ready loaded with loads of groovy apps, one of which was Instagram.
Now, I’d heard of Instagram, but never used it, or understood its value within the social media network. Like all enthusiastic self-promoters, I scurried around reading as much information as possible. Okay, the literature says that all I have to do on Instagram is upload a photo, choose whether to add a fun filter or not, write loads of hashtags and post. Easy peasy. Apparently Instagram will make more impact if I stick to a theme. Theme, theme, what is my theme? Everyone says I must have a theme. But, what do I post? We’re back to the three f’s, friends, family and food. To hell with that!

This is my platform and I can post whatever I darn well like. I take photos. I take photos of anything and everything that interests me. So that is what I will post. Insects, reflections, wildlife… “People don’t like scary bugs,” my partner says. “Post cute stuff, people like cute.” I don’t do cute, cute isn’t always available. I do life. This is my life, this is me. Colourful, observant, creative. To post anything else would not be true to myself. At last, I have found my theme…being myself!

Come and join me on Instagram.

Autumn splash #abstract #photography #amwriting #autumn #reflection

A post shared by Toni Allen Author (@listansus) on

Read Full Post »

If anyone’s wondering whether I’ve fallen off the planet…the answer is yes, but only temporarily.

Last weekend 13th to 17th Sept I decided to do a bunk and take off to glorious Dorset in the West Country to spend the entire weekend writing my latest novel. It’s a self made writers’ retreat. I sit in my tent and write while my partner makes all of the meals. Bliss. We go for a few leisurely walks together and I take lots of time to plot my novel and get all creative.

The weekend tentHere it is, the little tent we bought for our weekend getaway.

So far so good, it’s a plan. Driving down to Dorset, some hundred miles from home, was frustrating. It was raining and for some inexplicable reason the traffic was dreaful. A two and half hour journey took four and a half hours. Not to worry, we had plenty of music and snacks in the car to keep us entertained.

Arriving at the camp site the heavens broke and it chucked it down. Not to worry, it’s only a little tent and easily erected. Now, did I mention that this was a new tent? Yep, we hadn’t checked it and one of the poles was broken! Never mind, we can ask the camp site owners for help. Fortunately they know us well and had some poles they’d salvaged from the bins and one of the fitted. By nightfall our litle tent was up and we were on the phone to the Chinese takeway ordering masses of food to be delivered while we dried out.

Excellent. I sat and wrote and wrote, my novel flowing easily. We didn’t care that it rained and the wind battered the tent, insde we were safe, dry and happy.

On Tuesday we broke camp, laughing as it continued to rain and saying what an excellent weekend we’d had. We’re easily pleased.

I know the route home like the back of my hand, that is until the police close a road and we head off down country lanes to goodness knows where. Okay, so we got to see a lot of roads and towns I’d never encountered before, but some hour after being diverted I see a road I recognise and we’re back on track.

Happy, happy we stop at a Little Chef for a rest and a snack. We’ve had a great weekend and I’ve written thousands of words for my novel.

It’s the home run, only forty or so miles to go. Outside Winchester I stop at a roundabout, knowing that my car under heavy load won’t outrun the vehicle approaching on the roundabout. We appear to be the only two cars on the road. Then. Wallop! Shock! A vehicle has hit the back of my car, shunted us forwards, flipped my head backwards and forwards. I can’t believe it! Where on earth did he come from?

Stepping out of my car I do the right thing and exchange insurance details, blah, blah even though my head is reeling and I feel like I’ve been punched into the middle of next week. My car’s a little 4X4 so there’s minimal damage, the spare wheel on the back taking most of the blow.

Traffic builds up and the police cruise by to make sure we’re all okay and once the formalities are over I drive to a quiet road and go, ‘I just need to shake off the shock for a while.’ Eventually I decide I’m up to driving the rest of the way home, but I need to take several breaks.

Once home I call a friend to take me to A&E to get checked out and after many hours of waiting I’m told that I have whiplash and can expect to feel worse the following day and should rest up for at least two weeks. That is not what I intended doing with my life, trust me.

In hopital they give you a useful information leaflet about whiplash symptoms, so that you know what to expect and what creates more cause for concern. ‘Mild headache (feels like someone’s hit me with a sledge hammer), feeling sick (without vomiting), dizziness (so which way is the floor?!), irritability or bad temper (who me?!!!), problems concentrating or problems with memory (Why did I walk into this room?), tiredness (Yawn), lack of appetite or problems sleeping (Nope, I’ve eaten more than usual and slept longer).

So if anyone’s wondering why I haven’t answered their blog post, please accept my apologies. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible once the brain redocks with the mothership!

Toni Allen Logo









Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: