Sleep in the Park Event Set for Dec. 9th

Sleep in the Park Event Set for Dec. 9th

Blog by Dr. Sheena Macleod

The One Million Project (OMP), a non-profit making group, raising money and awareness for homelessness and cancer globally, are delighted to support Emma Short and Emma Park in their sleep-out to raise funds and awareness of homelessness in Scotland.

Emma Short and Emma Park are attending Sleep in the Park, the world’s largest ever sleep-out event organised by Edinburgh Homelessness Charity, Social Bite. They will be joining about 9,000 other participants who will sleep rough in Edinburgh’s city centre with the aim of raising £4m to eradicate homelessness in Scotland.

Emma Short and Emma Park are excited to take part in this event, which takes place in West Princes Street Gardens on Saturday 9 December 2017. By sleeping out in the cold overnight, they, along with the other participants will experience what homeless people experience every day.

By working together with local people and community groups, Social Fund aims to raise awareness of homelessness They want to stop the existing sticky plaster mentality and get to the root issues and eradicate homelessness over a five year period. In partnership with Local Authorities, they plan to provide housing, rehabilitation and job opportunities alongside support to help homeless people get back on their feet.

Ultimately, Social Bite wants Scotland to be at the forefront of eradicating homelessness as an example for the rest of the world to follow.

In total, 9,000 people will be sleeping overnight in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh.  Comedian, Rob Brydon, is hosting the event and attendees will be entertained by an impressive line-up of A-list artists before bedding down for a cold night in the open. They will enjoy sets from Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy Macdonald, Frightened Rabbit and other surprise guests. John Cleese will be reading a bedtime story.

Attendees will hear of his support of the cause from Sir Bob Geldof, who will also be sleeping out overnight along with a host of other celebrities, sports personalities, and figures from across Scotland’s political parties.

Emma Short and Emma Park are pretty excited to be sleeping out.  Arnold Clark are one of the Sleep In the Park sponsors, and Emma Short won their tickets through them. The only thing Emma Short and Emma Park had to do was pay a £100 donation and raise more money for the cause.  Arnold Clark will double whatever they raise. Fifty of Arnold Clark’s employees are going, and between them, they aim to raise about 10k.

When Emma Short won their tickets through work, they decided to raise as much money as possible. They plan on taking two sleeping bags and two camping chairs.  Emma Short thinks her and Emma Park will drink hundreds of cups of tea between them. The OMP think this is well deserved, and congratulate them in advance of their venture.

No tickets are being sold for Sleep in the Park. People can only attend by reaching fundraising targets and accepting the sleep-out challenge. Find out more and sign up at sleepinthepark.co.uk.

As part of their attendance at Sleep In the Park, Emma Short and Emma Park are running a fundraiser. You can support them on –  https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=ac-balfield-road&pageUrl=2

 

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How A Cold December Night Will Help End Homelessness

On a cold December night, 9,000 people will be gathering for the Sleep in the Park to end homelessness in Scotland.  It will be the world’s largest sleepover, EVER. Emma Louise Short and Emma Park — members of the One Million Project (OMP) — will be participating and will experience on Dec. 9, 2017, what homeless people live with all day, every day.

The hope is to raise social awareness by working together with local communities and groups as they try to get to the root issues of this problem.  The organizers have a plan to eradicate homelessness in Scotland within five years by providing people with housing, rehabilitation, job opportunities and support to get back on their feet.

Check back with the OMP blog as we post reports from the Sleep in the Park event, photos and interviews with the “Emma’s” about their experiences.

Interested in learning more?   https://www.sleepinthepark.co.uk/

A Changing Outlook — by John Nedwill

Just over a year ago, my family was hit by a devastating tragedy. It was not something we expected; it hit us hard and suddenly. It also had ripples out into the communities my family was part of, affecting people beyond just us. I could write about what happened – indeed, some people might say that it is relevant to some of the things that the OMP was set up to do. But I’m not going to. In the last year, I have been over those events more times than I care to remember. Instead, I am going to write about the effects our experiences can have.

We are all the sum of our experiences. They shape our beliefs, our thoughts, and our deeds. It is also impossible to predict how our experiences will affect us. Something that seems trivial at the time may come back to haunt us, while something that was headline news may fade into the background after a week or two. We just don’t know. However, as creative beings, we have a duty to consider these things.

As a writer, one of the first pieces of advice I received was “Write what you know.” The point of that advice was to help me put feeling into my work and to help the people who read it connect to it. But, I have to be careful. Different people have had different experiences, and so what I write will affect them differently. And, as I cannot predict what effect my words will have, I have to be sure that I show what they mean to me. Of course, whoever reads them will have a different take, but it is my job to share my take on things.

This doesn’t just apply to writing. It applies to any form of creative work, be it music, acting, art or whatever. As creators,  we try to bring our audience into another world, where they can experience new things and where we can change the way they think.

I am not arguing for – or against – trigger warnings, safe spaces, X-cards or any of those things that are debated in the press and on the internet. They have their place and their uses. Instead, I am asking us to remember that what we do tells other people about who we are and how we perceive things.

It’s an awful responsibility to create things and share them.


OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject blogger.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the OMP short story anthologies to be published by Dark Ink Press in the near future.

Will Imagery Replace the Written Word?

Will Imagery Replace the Written Word?

We are bombarded by images and sound bites almost 24/7 due in part to around-the-clock news channels and social media sites that feature photos with a brief message providing links to the words.  Even a still photo will be considered passe in part due to the rise of live video on Facebook.  Emoticons and GIFs are replacing written phrases.

I love a good photograph or a funny video as much as the next person, but I’m a writer and I wonder if future generations will miss the joy that I’ve found in reading a book.  There is something very special about reading a book passage which paints a mental image in our brains transporting us to another realm created through the author’s vision molded into the reader’s interpretation of their literary musings.

The warm red glow of the rising sun peeked through gaps in the advancing front of the storm.  Its weakened light glinted off of the corrugated metal carports.  The roar of the tide rushing into the beach and an occasional car door or trunk closing were the only sounds. — Exodus, Chapter One

I had a specific memory in mind when I wrote this paragraph in my first novel.  A writer uses words like an artist uses a paintbrush.  Our combination of adjectives, verbs, and nouns are the paints we stroke onto our canvas.  We use long sweeping sentences mixed with crisp ones to add drama and layers similarly to the technique a painter will use when they change the type of bristle on their brush or the direction and quality of their application of paint.  Splashing a bit of color here and there to bring out dimensions in their work is not unlike building tension in a scene.

Will future generations be unable to frame a mental picture of what they are reading?  Will our writing become a washed out photograph relegated to the past because a bright video set to music strengthens certain nerve centers in the brain while other neurons, which once dealt with the impulses of reading a descriptive passage, whither away?

I thought it was funny when people would visit my home, look into my home library and comment, “Have you read ALL of these books?”   When I told them that I read the majority of them, they would look at me like I was a freak of nature.  Or when I hear a negative comment about a person being “strange” because they don’t watch TV and “all they do is read!”  I begin to worry about the direction our society is going.

I was curious to see if this was a problem or only a theory produced by my book-obsessed psyche.  I found out a Pew Research Center study showed approximately 72 % of American adults had read a book in 2015.  This was a continuation of a gradual decline over five years.  In 2011, about 79% had read a “book in part”.   Women read more than men on average and younger people (80 %) read at least one book in a year compared to senior citizens with only 69% reading a book/year.   Americans as a whole read fewer hours per week by half when compared to readers from other nations around the world.   These statistics are sobering.

Or, am I worrying much in the same way the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” predicted in 1979?  It didn’t.

In the early 20th century,  the Italian avant-garde art movement — Futurism — looked to destroy older forms of culture, preferring to explore new technologies and media as the means to communicate their creative vision.  Futurism added an additional layer to the cultural whole, instead.

We, as writers, can fight back by presenting the best quality work we can.  The continued honing of our craft and improvement in our writing skills is a must.  I’m not an elitist writer, and I cringe when I read comments by writers about all of the crap being written today.  My belief in encouraging all forms of writing by many writers will be our saving grace.

We crawl before we can walk or run.  Our writing develops and improves as we write.  If we turn our noses up because “we” know good writing and denounce the offerings of another, we will discourage the exploration and evolution of the art we wish to embrace.

So, I have joined the ranks of authors utilizing the social media I worry will destroy the older exchange of ideas in books.  If it goes the way of music videos and new art movements, it will add something to our creative palate and may bring more readers and writers into the fold.  Inclusion is the remedy to keeping an art form thriving in an ever-changing world.


OMP Admin Note:  Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers. The first two books in her Clare Thibodeaux Series–EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1473258208&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1473258097&sr=1-2-ent

 

 

Unlocking the Social Media Marketing Puzzle

Unlocking the Social Media Marketing Puzzle

I was online chatting with another author the other day, and we were discussing what types of marketing we do.  I started going into whatIMG_5071 I do for marketing and realized my approach to social media needed something.

So where did I go for more information on how to market on social media?  I went online to social media to see what works for other writers.  I was able to download a ton of infographics on Pinterest about Social Media Marketing tools, and I read at least a dozen articles on it.

I gleaned some essential points from my research:

  • Social media marketing is not about your books as much as it is about you as an author.
  • Various types of social media have specific guidelines which help you get your brand out to potential readers effectively.
  • There’s a right way and a wrong way to use hashtags depending on the social media platform you are using.

You will turn off potential readers if they are continually seeing your post “Buy my Book!”  A good rule of thumb is to make sure that 80% of your posts are social and 20% are direct marketing of your writing.  Give your new friends/followers a glimpse into who you are as a writer.  What are you reading?  What insights do you have into writing?  What do you want to know about your readers?  Ask them, and you will be engaging your potential audience and not causing them to click on the “Unfollow” button.  When you do put your book marketing post out there, make sure you post no more than 1-4 times per week and only 1-2 times per day.

The most common reason social media users “unliked” a page was because the brand posted too often and cluttered up their newsfeed.  You don’t want them to hide your posts!  That’s like flipping the channel because you don’t want to see the commercials.  To make your posts most effective make sure that the image or brand you wish to convey is sending a consistent message across all of your platforms.  Your attention to your messaging will ensure that your posts will have more impact without being overbearing with too much frequency

Too lengthy a post can also decrease the number of engagements you will receive.  A photo, short video, GIF or meme with a link to more content will capture the attention of your follower, but a novella-length post will have their eyes glazing over.

Sooo, what do I post?

Let your reader know who you are.  I don’t mean telling them about your recent surgery or your divorce.  Keep your private life private, but tell them funny snippets about your life.  Do you like to bake?  Put a photo of your latest culinary masterpiece along with sharing your special recipe.  Behind-the-scenes pictures at your book signing, your favorite place to write, or a special spot where you like to read.  Add favorite quotes, your favorite books, links to your blog posts, a good book written by another author, event information, writing tips, etc.

Interact with your followers by responding to their comments. Thank them for their Retweets and when they befriend you, respond promptly.  That means today, not next week.  If there is a delay, apologize sincerely, but you don’t have to give details about why you weren’t more prompt.  Remember, Social media is all about getting to know people.  If they feel a personal connection to you, they may invest their money and time in your book.

Each form of social media has its guidelines.  Pinterest and Instagram are visual media platforms.  Your pin/post needs to be eye-catching.  It needs to be something special enough to warrant having someone save it to one of their Pinterest boards or to like it on Instagram.  Each one has guidelines as to what size images work best on their site.  An application like Canva contains easy to use templates for various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, making it easy to have a post which captures attention.

Too many hashtags can be distracting. More than two and you lose engagement. Check out articles about the different hashtags writers can use to promote their work.  Got a book on sale for 99 cents?  Try #99c or #99cents at the end of your post.  Free ebook?  #FREEbook or #BookGiveaway.  Consider using #InIMG_5070dieThursday, #WriterWednesday, #MustRead or #FridayReads.

Keep hashtags to a minimum, group them at the end of your posts, don’t hashtag every word, or #makeyourhashtagssolong no one can or will read them.  Use hashtags that are trending, but make sure they work with the message you are trying to send.

Take the time to do the research and find those social media platforms which will work with your schedule and your life.  Social media can be overwhelming, and you don’t want to spend so much time online you don’t have time to do what you love to do — write!

And with that, I #amwriting.


OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers. The first two books in her Clare Thibodeaux Series–EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1473258208&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1473258097&sr=1-2-ent

@katemcginn6

https://www.katemcginn.com/

How the Creative Arts Inspire Me–by Kate McGinn

Music and art transport me to another place and time.  The rhythmic strands of a guitar in the opening stanzas of the passionate melodies from the island of Puerto Rico will transport me to the island in a heartbeat.  The song Despacito that has been so popular this summer evokes the beach, laughter, and camaraderie between my family of gringos and my extended Puerto Rican family through the ties we have with our lovely daughter-in-law.  The caring for each other’s welfare combined with a love of family, music and an openness which couldn’t help but make me wish I had a bit of Puerto Rican blood in my veins.  The music lets me feel for a moment I was part of their rich culture (at least until I tried dancing and let’s just say “sad” describes it perfectly).

 

Irish songs with pipes and the steady beat of the bodhran brings to mind green fields with blue seas crashing against the dark cliffs along the shore all the while white BCAFA67E-E15E-4514-98C2-07051A38CEF2puffy clouds float over the mountains covered with black-faced Connemara sheep.  I tap my feet with the rapid melodies fighting to restrain myself from spinning around the living room to the song (only because of the aforementioned inability to dance–I could hurt someone).  Seriously, you don’t want to see the damage I inflicted upon myself and a metal bucket while dancing to LOCASH’s song, Ring on Every Finger.

 

Visual arts–paintings, sculpture, and photography–have the same effect on me.  I see a story in every work of art.  At Loche Eske Castle, the sculptures of a woman sitting under a tree reading while three children torment each other a short distance away caught my imagination.  My photo of an old church cemetery called out a tale of heartache and loss.

 

I’m reading A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline based on the Andrew Wyeth painting, Christina’s World.  A fictional account of the interactions between Wyeth and his muse, Christina Olson.  I googled Wyeth and found myself looking through his painting several of them are alluded to in the book.

 

Wyeth found beauty in the most austere and everyday items in the Maine home of Alvaro and Christina Olson as described by the following passage from Kline’s novel.

 

“We are more attuned to the beauty of this old house, with its familiar corners, when Andy is here.  More appreciative of the view down the yellow fields to the water, constant and yet ever changing, the black crows on the barn roof, the hawk circling overhead.  A grain bag, a dented pail a rope hanging from a rafter:  these ordinary objects and implements are transformed by Andy’s brush into something timeless and otherworldly.”

 

Just as the musician takes melodies from the sound of the rain and the wind and an artist uses the imperfections, light, and shadows to color and add depth to their works of art, the writer pulls from emotions, sounds, songs, images, memories to type words onto a page.  A single note, the touch of the brush against a canvas and the letters on a page can transform a world, a mind and a heart with their existence.

 

This is what I love about the arts and the part they play in my life.  I might not dance gracefully but I continue to try.  I sing like a frog but sometimes I can’t help myself, I must sing.  My world continues to push me to write and this I strive to do to the best of my ability as long as I still breathe.

 

I mentioned Puerto Rico in this blog and it pains me deeply to see my fellow Americans and military brothers and sisters and their families suffering following the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria within days of each other.  Please keep them in your prayers and if you are able to help during this terrible time please consider donating to the recovery efforts.

Donations for Hurricane Maria Recovery in Puerto Rico


OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers. The first two books in her Clare Thibodeaux Series–EXODUS and WINTER’S ICY CARESS are available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1473258208&sr=8-1

=1473258097&sr=1-2-ent

On Twitter: @katemcginn6

https://www.katemcginn.com/

On the Nature of Being by John Nedwill

On the Nature of Being by John Nedwill

Alright, it’s a bit of a pretentious title for a blog, but stay with me for the next few hundred words.

Take a look at the biographical details at the bottom of this article. You’ll notice that it is very sparse – almost no personal details beyond my name and a WattPad account. Compare it to some of the others who write blogs for the One Million Project. Lots of details in those. Now, given the current emphasis on social media and accessibility to readers, why would an aspiring author not want to be contacted? Why would they not want their readers to connect with them?

The answer in my case is simple. Privacy.

You see, I lead a double life. One of them is the ordinary life that everybody else leads – the life of work, responsibility and paying the bills. The other life I have is one of imagination, creation and wonder. In one of them, I am virtually unknown beyond the walls that are placed around me. In the other … Well, I’m still pretty much unknown, but there is more freedom to do things.

I try to keep my two lives separate. But there is still one inevitable point of contact between them: me. Although I have different names for my different lives, I am still at heart the same person. Parts of my normal life will creep over into my existence as John Nedwill, and vice-versa. I could reinvent myself totally, or I could create an entirely separate persona from whole cloth and put that out as ‘me’.

Neither of those options particularly appeals to me. The first one would mean giving up too much of the things I like about me that already exist. The second would involve lying on a massive scale, and that would challenge my integrity just as much as the first option would. So, I have decided to remain a cipher. It may not be the best choice, but it is the one I am most comfortable with. Instead, I prefer readers to engage with my works rather than some personality that is itself a work of fiction.

As writers, we have to decide how much we reveal about ourselves to our readers. Some of us are more comfortable sharing than others; others prefer to keep something back. It doesn’t mean that we don’t want to engage, it’s just that we want to choose our grounds to do so.


OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer and OMP Network member, who will be blogging on a regular basis on various issues and causes.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the OMP short story anthologies which will be published by Dark Ink Press this fall.