Guest Post by Daddy Phantom

“Monday For Nothing and Your Poetry For Free” by Daddy Phantom

Here at Rock Paper Spirit, there’s nothing we enjoy more than welcoming other writers to contribute to the site. Today we’re welcoming poet, Daddy Phantom. I met Daddy Phantom online a few weeks ago and we hit it off, so I was delighted when he agreed to contribute a guest post! Please let us know if you enjoy his blog in the comments and head over to his Twitter profile to connect with him.

If you’re good enough at something, never do it for free.” – The Joker (Heath Ledger) The Dark Knight, 2008

It made perfect sense to me, in 2008, I had been a working performance poet for at least five years by then, and we all know that the average performance poet doesn’t make any money from the art form. If performance poets didn’t recite for free, at least 75% of us wouldn’t publicly perform at all. The way that venues use poets is part of the problem. Although some of us are bad, while others are mediocre at best, a large percentage of poets have excellent skills and deserve to be treated better by the entertainment world. The exploitation becomes voluntary because we’re lyricists, and we write and speak to be heard by an audience.

open mic

There are not more than five cardinal tastes (sour, acrid, salt, sweet, bitter), yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.”- Sun Tzu.

 That’s what my mentor told me some 15 years ago when I started performing and touring with my poetry. That’s a quote from the Art of War by Sun Tzu, but my mentor told me to apply this tactic to my art, and I did. I started making poetry videos. Afterward, I made current event videos called Information with Relevance that featured a relevant poem after every story. Heck! I even made vegetarian cooking videos. I did television interviews, hosted open mics, hosted poetry workshops at schools, traveled to faraway places, spoke at activist rallies, and collaborated with musicians, singers, and MCs. I did all of that to promote my lyrics. Appealing to the masses was never the intention. Keeping my creativity alive was.

 “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” – Marsha Sinetar

When I told one of my many cousins that I was a poet, his response was: “Do you make any money off of that?” There lies the issue with labeling yourself a poet, and not an IT person, construction worker, etc. There are stereotypes associated with an artist that makes some of us want to duck our creative heads in the sand, and I believe as poets, we are partially the ones to blame.

As members of the western culture, we are bred to believe that nothing is free. I think that a poet should polish their skills before that poet considers charging for their services, but it seems that every venue that promotes poetry expects veteran poets to pay their dues to each time they perform at a different place. Buy our drinks and food. Invite your friends to come to see you so they can spend money on out slowest nights too. Repeat this process two or three times (if you’re lucky), and if the host likes you enough, you can be a paid feature!

money

Anyone who knows how to read, write, and speak can write and recite a sonnet, ballad, haiku, or freestyle poem. Then again, anybody with a driver’s license can drive a Toyota, Honda, Mercedes Benz, or a Cadillac, but it takes training and more skill to drive on Scotland’s Knockhill Racing Circuit. Not everyone with the ability to drive can hop into their Nissan Sentra and compete on that level. After Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam began in 2002, there was a flood of performance poets, and anyone with an independent coffee shop had one night a week dedicated to performance poetry (usually on the slowest night of the week). When Def Poetry Jam ended in 2007, ninety percent of those venues who supported us, ceased to exist. The ones who didn’t shut their doors, no longer support performance poets.

On the other hand, the Knockhill Racing Circuit started in an unused mineral mine railway in 1974, and it’s evolved into a circuit that features some of the most competitive British automobile championships. They didn’t get there by allowing cab drivers to compete on their course. Performance Poetry cannot evolve without a venue strictly dedicated to performance poetry that features a lineup of the best poets every time they open the doors to the public.

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Time: Your Most Precious Asset

An Ode To The Writer With Too Little Time To Write

by A A Miller

Here on Rock Paper Spirit, we like to welcome guest writers, particularly if they are other authors. Today we welcome A A Miller! Contact details for this author are at the bottom of this post, where you can check out her website and social channels. Today she’s going to talk a little bit about our most precious assets as writers; time!

A few years ago, just months into my still new-ish adventure of writing a novel, I recall reading an article that had came to my email entitled ‘Tips to Writing a Manuscript’. I had clicked on the link, hoping to find tips I wasn’t taking into account. Number one on the list:

Set aside 45-60 minutes every day to writing your manuscript.

Sounds semi-reasonable most of the time. I had been, after all, a full-time working mother—still am. I needed to be realistic about the whole ‘every day’ bit. I’d continued to read as the article went on to elaborate:

If you can’t do this, you’re not serious about writing a manuscript. Period.

My cheeks had flushed as a rush of blood flooded my face. But why the sudden surge of anger, you ask? I had taken this piece of advice—and the declared consequence of failing to follow through—incredibly personally.

When I started this endeavor of writing a novel with Anne, my co-author and another busy mom, I quickly learned that time was my most precious asset. Not my creativity. Not my average grammar skills. Not even my computer. I have a job, a husband, and two children; my time doesn’t belong to me. And if you finish your project to the glare of a resentful spouse or awash in the apathetic attention of children used to being ignored, can you really call that a win?

I’m not saying I don’t spend my share of Saturdays without showering while the kids binge-watch nonsense. I’m not saying I don’t think about all the things I could be doing as I read to my littles. I do, however, attempt to remain vigilant of the time suck factor when my attention is dragged away. I know I need to be aware when my million-miles-away thoughts are going to negatively affect my family. When your time isn’t your own, you need compromise, understanding, support, and communication, and that needs to come from both sides.

Ask for the time you need from the people in your life, but be willing to read the signs that point to ‘no’ when you haven’t been doing your part.

So what do you do about your limited amount of time when you have a huge goal in mind like writing a novel? Try out a few different methods to boost your productivity. Test out your most efficient time of day. Set your alarm for an hour before everyone else gets up. Establish 1 or 2 nights a week that your spouse is “in charge” of the household. And once all parties have agreed on your time, make sure you own it. And don’t beat yourself up if you just can’t commit to every day.

You’re not alone.

So how do I (attempt) to do it? Here are a few tricks I’ve picked up to boost my productivity:

  • Dedicated blocks of time focused on predetermined goals, scheduled in advanced

This method has benefited my time management more than a daily 45-60 minute window ever could. Think about taking a day off from work when the kids are in school. Use that leave for yourself. You know you want to. Go somewhere that’s not home, where you won’t be distracted by the things you “should” be doing.

  • Using my daily commute

There are several ways I’ve found to use my daily two-hour commute. The first is using a text-to-speech app. I will admit, this method takes an acquired taste, but I personally rely on it heavily. If you’ve ever tried one, you’ve probably given up on it pretty quickly. They’re robotic, they make goofy pronunciation mistakes, and they just don’t have any heart.

I managed to find a British accent named Daniel on my Natural Reader app, and was able to stomach his voice long enough to get used to the sound. Daniel has read my manuscript to me dozens of times. Multiple dozens of times, helping me keep fresh on my details and sort out quite a few problems in my writing.

I also use the speech-to-text feature on my phone to make notes on what to fix later as I listen. It also comes in handy to get the words out when inspiration strikes. Hands-free, of course. I’m not a maniac.

Another important use of my commute is listening to audiobooks. Reading is a fundamental building block of writing. Never stop reading. And yes, I consider listening to an audiobook reading, so deal with it.

audiobook free time cat headphones

  • Grasping at mere moments as they arise

This last method may toe the line of the whole “being present” goal—I did mention my lack of perfection, right? I use the power of my Google Drive and Google Docs connected smartphone to take advantage of random moments as they arise. How did authors do this before technology? Those moments can pop up when I least expect them. They may be just minutes, or if I’m lucky, they may add up to a bit more.

I’m grasping right now, in fact, waiting on spaghetti to boil. Eight extra minutes of productivity, check.

I do run the risk of being that parent with their nose buried in their phone with that last method, so I have to watch myself. But now I wonder if those parents are just trying to do the same, stretching their productivity in any way they can.

Nah, they’re just playing Candy Crush.

So, that’s what has worked for me. You need to figure out what works for you, and just as importantly, those around you. Know when to give and when to take. And make sure you do take, because dammit, you deserve time for yourself!

We’ve admitted we can’t commit to writing every day. Because of that, you may still question whether Anne and I are 100% serious about writing. You bet we are, but we’ve also accepted life doesn’t stop for our novel. Life just gets more complicated because of it. We’re faced with challenges. We’re limited on time and resources. We’ve made mistakes and slipped up on priorities. But somehow through this process, we’re growing smarter with our time yet.

Whatever venture you’re in the midst of, or about to take on, just remember that accomplishing your goal will be a trial-and-error process. Life is not one-size-fits-all. We all have our own distractions and obligations, and balance is an art that takes practice. So don’t get discouraged when obstacles are thrown into your path!

You may have to push your project aside here and there, but at least you won’t have missed out on what’s important, damaged a relationship, or created a negative stigma. If it takes you five years to write a book, build a business, or finish a project, but you feel good about how you chose to spend your time, then your venture was a success. And don’t let anyone calling themselves an expert tell you differently.

Time is your most precious asset.

time management writers writing stopwatch pocketwatch clock

And in the words of Albus Dumbledore—or more accurately, JK Rowling:

“Use it Well.”

Happy writing!

Crystal “Alise” Miller

of AA Miller

www.guardianlightsbook.com/ourjourney/blog

Twitter: @guardianlights

Facebook @guardianlights

Email: guardianlightsbook@gmail.com

Five Favourite Books For Encouraging Speech In Toddlers

Here on Rock Paper Spirit, we love to welcome contributions from other writers and bloggers. Today we welcome blogger Kim Hogg for this special guest appearance, where she will be sharing which books are her favourites for encouraging speech in toddlers.

My eldest son is 3 and while he is now seen to speak, it hasn’t always been this way. He was over 18 months old before he finally said “mum”, and he was nearly 3 before we could start to have a vaguely sensible conversation with him. I have spent a lot of time working on his speech at home, and have found a variety of activities that work well for him and don’t seem like “work”.

His favourite one is reading books. I have always been a bookworm, so a love for stories is something I am keen to encourage in both my children. I have found repetition is key to encouraging speech, making the words easily recognisable as they have been heard hundreds of times before, and so I tend to read the same 2 or 3 books repeatedly for a few weeks and then move on to the next set.

For us, I have found the best books for encouraging speech in toddlers to be books that rhyme. The slightly rhythmic way they are read, plus the anticipation of the rhyming word at the end of the line means that eventually they feel compelled to say it. After I have read a book a few times (over a couple of days – it doesn’t have to be all at once) I then start to pause towards the end of a sentence, allowing him the space to say the word if he would like. He often doesn’t, and that’s ok, it’s all about giving him the option.

Using that method Piglet can now recite whole chunks of text from his favourite books with no prompting at all. It’s perhaps not as useful as being able to tell me when he would like a drink or what he wants to play with, but it goes a long way in building his confidence in speaking out loud.

We have built up quite a collection of rhyming books over the last 3 years, but these are our favourites:

Never Touch A Dinosaur

books speech delay

This book is doubly fun, as it not only rhymes but also has different textured pages for them to touch too. We used to have the Never Touch A Monster version but it was so well used that it started to fall apart! We got this one at Christmas and it is read most days.

It is on the shorter side, which makes it perfect if you’re just getting started. There’s no need to try and hold their attention for an extended period, and for my dinosaur mad boy the characters are perfect.

Dinos On Deck

books encourage speech

Sticking with the dinosaur theme, Dinos On Deck is another favourite. As well as the rhyming pattern, each page comes with a sound to help keep children engaged with the story. Again, it is a shorter story but it is one we read 3 or 4 times in a row regularly.

Hide And Seek Pig

books children language

This is one of our all time favourites, and the repetition in the story meant that it was one of the first ones that Piglet started voluntarily speaking in. At one stage I was reading it every night before bed, for around 6 or 7 months. No matter how many times it’s been read the lift the flaps never seem to get boring!

A Squash And A Squeeze

childrens books speech delay

Similar to Hide And Seek Pig, A Squash And A Squeeze follows a similar format per page – that familiarity is key! The inclusion of common farmyard animals always helps, and often sparks other ideas such as singing Old Macdonald Had A Farm. There are quite a few Julia Donaldson books that have the same effect, like the Gruffalo, Zog and Monkey Puzzle.

Stick Man

toddler speech delay

More recently we have been reading longer books with less repetition, but still following the rhyming patterns that I find so effective. They are no less popular, and now that reading is a habit we are both in to Piglet regularly asks to read Stick Man. Santa does make a little cameo – but that doesn’t stop us reading it all year round.

If you’d like to read more of Kim Hogg’s posts, you can check out her own blog and social channels below.

Blog: Oddhogg

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

YouTube

Welcoming Fiona Chapman – Author of 7 Simple Ways To Survive On A Budget

Today I’m sharing on my blog a post from back in the spring of 2013.  Please welcome to my blog, Twitter friend and fellow writer, Fiona Chapman!  Fiona is also a keen blogger, the author of 7 Simple Ways To Survive On A Budget and I’m delighted to share her guest post here again.  Take it away, Fiona! (Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link, so if you click the link to Fiona’s book I will receive a small amount of commission)

Thank you Lacey for allowing me on your blog today, it’s an honour.

I first met Lacey when I became more active on Twitter in October 2012. I was working Monday-to-Friday, nine-to-five in an office job and dreamed of a better life, away from the stifling air-conditioned office with its floor-to-ceiling glass, taunting me with the freedom of fresh air and The Great Outdoors. I felt restricted and imprisoned in a life I didn’t belong to – and had done for a few years, since recovering from an illness in 2005, when I discovered there was more to life than being a corporate slave. Despite this, I went back to work after the illness as a way to make ends meet and found myself back in the thick of this slavery. 

fiona chapman 7 simple ways to survive on a budget

Many times passed when I was sorely tempted to take the plunge and throw myself into my desire to write for a living, but with bills to pay and no progress, it was a silly idea and a pipe-dream. Yet unlike most of the things I start in my life, writing was one hobby that just wouldn’t give up on me, so I fed it, nurtured it and carried it with me while living a separate life of society’s expectations (apparently we should all have financial security in the form of contracted employment and live by rules written by another). 

In 2011 I became a mother and after nine months of maternity leave, made the choice to return to work, full time, place my daughter in childcare and stress myself out to within an inch of my life just because it was The Right Thing To Do. After these nine months and a request to reduce my hours – which was rejected – I decided that enough was enough and it was time for a change.

So I quit my job and made the choice to focus on bringing up my daughter and developing my longed for career in writing. I’m slowly making progress, juggling time for writing with a tornado of a toddler, and it is a challenge. I recall an ex-colleague joking that she embraced working three days a week, just for a rest from her children. Yet I do not regret it one bit. I am permanently knackered, but I’m no longer stressed. On only one income, it’s a struggle and we have to forgo certain luxuries such as holidays and new clothes, but we’re happy. I don’t see a lot of my old friends – who are busy with their hectic social lives – but I get to choose my own hours. As well as Lacey, I’ve made some brilliant new friends and contacts in the world of social networking who have made me realise it is possible to make your dreams a reality. 

For me, writing is not only a career choice but also an outlet, a channel for expression and a time for serenity. I write articles, short stories and blog about my progress. Since October, I have put together and published a mini e-book on 7 Simple Ways To Survive On A Budget. I wrote the first draft of a romance novel – The Gateway – during NaNoWriMo 2012, which started with the seed of an idea and evolved into something totally unexpected; a love story set in two different time zones. It’s still a work in progress, and I haven’t decided on my publishing route yet; be it self-publishing or traditional-publishing. But as my writing journey progresses, I hope I can inspire others to take control of their lives, too.

fiona chapman writer 7 simple ways to survive on a budget 

Thanks for reading.

If you would like to know more about Fiona or her book, 7 Simple Ways To Survive On A Budget, you can visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the links and make a purchase, I will receive a small amount of commission. I’ve been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Alexandria Brown of The Cloud Traveller! Thanks to Alexandria for the nomination. I’m super excited because these kinds of awards are always fun to blog about.

sunshine blogger award

Rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award:

  1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you for the blog post and add their link to your post.
  2. Answer the 11 questions which your nominator asked you.
  3. Nominate up to 11 new bloggers for the award and write them 11 new questions for the same.
  4. Let your nominees know that they have been nominated.
  5. List the rules and add the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post.

Nominees:

I would like to nominate the following bloggers. Some of them I’ve been following for a while and enjoy their content. Others I have newly discovered. Please do message me to let me know when your own Sunshine Blogger Award posts are up.

  1. What Abigail Says
  2. Half-Arsed Crafts
  3. Purple Spark
  4. Wanderwoman Adventures
  5. Melissa Verwey
  6. Willow Peterson
  7. Cape Town Up Close
  8. OxGadgets
  9. Finding Abundance
  10. The Words I Would Say

Here are my answers to Alexandria’s questions.

What do you love the most about blogging?

I love having a platform to say things that might make a difference. For example, last year I wrote a post about suicidal thoughts (dark topic, I know) and somebody got in touch to say that she knew how I felt and how it was good to know that even people who look like they have it all together are struggling just like everyone else.

What is your Blogging Inspiration?

My son. One of the reasons why I want to keep a record of my life right now is so that he had something to look back on when he grows up.

What would be your favourite country you have visited?

Without a doubt it is Cyprus. I would move there if I could.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

The ability to increase blog views and/or the ability to sell my books. Some days I get so few hits and sell so little that it feels like those who are successful are superheroes. In the more traditional sense, probably super strength.

What is your favourite social media platform to use?

I would say at the moment it’s Instagram. I’ve been so fixated with Twitter for the last ten years that I ignored a lot of the others and now I’m starting to get to grips with Instagram I’m really enjoying it.

Any suggestion for improvement in my blogs?

I would love to see a sidebar with some posts in it. I had to scroll to the bottom of the post I landed on to get to anywhere else on the site and I think a sidebar with some suggestions of popular posts might encourage visitors to stay on the site longer. But your site is awesome! I love the fresh, clean look it has.

If you could give advice to other bloggers, what would it be?

Be more personal. The blogosphere is such a cynical place now. It’s all about who can get the most hits and how much money we can make. I’m old-school. I started in 2005 and I remember when it was just about sharing news and stories with friends. I miss that.

What do you do to promote your blogs?

I talk about them at every opportunity. It sounds really simple but word of mouth is still, hands down, the best publicity.

How long have you been blogging?

Since 2005, so 13 years.

Share a memorable experience from blogging.

I once went to a blogging event in Edinburgh. It was my first one and I was so nervous. I was told in the email I received to print out my ticket so I did – I tend to follow instructions. When I got there, the guy who was welcoming bloggers was like “Oh, you printed out your ticket in the old fashioned way. That’s so cute!” That made me feel like enough of a fossil but when I sat down and got out my notebook and pen to take notes, this girl (who, funnily enough no longer blogs) made a joke about my notebook and pen being “So 1990s.” Then I heard two men in front of me discussing the fact that there was a lingerie blogger there, but they weren’t sure who since nobody looked like a lingerie blogger. I was mortified and left at the first break. I haven’t gone back to another blogging event and have kept it all strictly as a virtual experience.

What expectations do you have for your blog over the next 5 years?

Well, my ultimate goal is to reach 5000 page views per day. I’m still a long way off that and I’m not really sure why I want to reach that goal. I think if I make my blog the best it can be and grow my site, it will translate into book sales, which is what I really want. I am a writer, after all. If I make money from the blog and have some nice experiences in the meantime, that would be awesome.

My Questions For the Nominees:

  1. What made you start blogging?
  2. What was your first blog post about?
  3. What’s your favourite biscuit/cookie?
  4. Who would be your dream interview subject?
  5. Who would play you in the movie of your life?
  6. If you could visit any country, which one would it be and why?
  7. The world is ending and you can only write one more blog post. What is it about?
  8. What tips do you have for me on how to improve my blog?
  9. Who would be your dream brand to work with and why?
  10. Which is better: having a niche or having no niche?

I can’t wait to read everyone’s answers and congratulations to everyone for being nominated for this award!