IWSG: An Aspie Writer’s Take on Social Distancing

Since I have Asperger Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder,) I have been doing social distancing all my life. I just didn’t know that was what it was called. I just thought of it as being lonely and not having friends and going days and weeks without meaningful social interactions.

This is a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

While other people are getting frantic when they have to stay home because of that certain virus, my life is mostly situation normal. I haven’t had a job for years and get along on SSI disability (NOT fun,) I live in a rural area and don’t waste my small amount of money by hanging about in barrooms, and after a lifetime of having social interactions with mean and hostile people, I tend not to even try to socially interact any more.

In fact, the main change in my life is in the direction of MORE social interaction. My friends, with a very few exceptions, are not real-world friends but online friends. And my social media accounts are livelier than normal with many people staying home and sharing memes and rumors about the virus all day.

Being socially isolated can help you concentrate on doing your writing work— if you actually do your writing instead of letting your social media become a time sink. I have recently completed a short non-fiction ebook. Unlike my usual open-ended projects that get bogged down and fail, I planned this project to be a small, time limited one. I gave myself 12 writing days to produce a work that would be 12000 to 24000 words long, which I have read is a good length for a non-fiction ebook.

In reality it took me 17 days, the book turned out to be on the long side of the projected length (which is good), and I had to do 3 more days to transform my Scrivener text into something Kindle Create could work with and to design a cover on Canva.

And now the hard part comes. I don’t really know how to do the social interaction part of doing a book launch, and with my SSI income I can’t hire services to promote my book for me. I don’t know how well the book will do.

But I have already started my next two writing projects. One is another non-fiction, this time about a low-carbohydrate/ketogenic way of eating. The other is science fiction, about a starship which is somewhat lost and encounters a planet where the population is keen on dealing in stolen starship parts. I am not sure, right now, if it’s better to try to work on both at once or to do them one at a time to keep focus. What will happen? Well, you can come back to this blog to find out.

Lenten and Insecure-Writer Greetings,

From Nissa Annakindt & her cats and other critters.

A Click-To-Tweet Experiment

This one’s about my new book, ‘Getting More Blog Traffic: Steps Towards a Happier Blogging Life. Click on the blue bird to tweet about it. (If you want to participate in this experiment.)

Tweet: Learn simple and free secrets to get more traffic to your blog https://ctt.ac/O71HU+ #blogging

 

My Life as a Newsletter Caterpillar

When it comes to newsletters, I’m not a ninja. Even though I’ve read Tammi Labrecque’s Newsletter Ninja a few times, most recently yesterday.

My newsletter for this blog is a monthly event. Which I have not done since last June. I feel bad about that, but then the main rule I remember about newsletters is that you are supposed to give your newsletter subscribers something of value in each newsletter. No, not necessarily free books, though when my new blogging book, ‘Getting More Blog Traffic: Steps Towards a Happier Blogging Life’ goes temporary-free at some point, I plan to mention that in a future newsletter.

I’m more of a newsletter caterpillar than a newsletter ninja, but Tammi Labrecque’s book has taught me a few things that bring me steps closer to ninjahood. For example, the reason why your newsletter subscribers are so darn special is that they are people who have GIVEN YOU THEIR PERMISSION to be emailed. That’s a great gift, really. We need to cherish it and use it well.

Another thing Tammi’s taught me is the value of emojis in your newsletter’s subject line. It makes people more likely to open the newsletter rather than ignore it. Tammi says the ‘poop’ emoji outperforms all others. I kind of didn’t want to ‘poop’ on all my newsletter subscribers. And I couldn’t find the ‘poop’ emoji anyway. So I picked out a different emoji for my subject line.

One thing I learned all on my own is that using a service really helps so no one will mistake your newsletter for an ordinary e-mail. I use the free version of MailChimp which allows me to have up to 2000 subscribers and to mail out to them more than I am likely to ever do. It’s kind of a learning curve to put together a newsletter on MailChimp— every image I want to share is either too large or too small to suit them.  But I’ve come out with newsletters a few times now, and I’m getting better at it. I think.

Do you have a newsletter? Do you use MailChimp or another service? How well has your newsletter worked for you? What kind of things do you include in your newsletter?

Springtime & Lenten greetings to you all

and may God bless you,

Nissa and her cats & critters


My new book is available for pre-order. If you’d like to take a look at it on Amazon, the link is: https://amazon.com/dp/B086H4FQ4M 

I’d really be grateful if a few people would take a moment to share my book’s link on their social media. I’ve never done a proper book launch before and am quite sure I am not doing it right. 😉

What To Read: Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew

(Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series)

Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri

And now for a bit of more serious reading…. Back when I was a Protestant I liked to read Bible commentaries. A Bible commentary is a book which explains, verse by verse, what the verses of a book of the Bible actually mean. A good Bible commentary is written by a Bible scholar who teaches in a seminary or a Christian college, who knows the Bible book in its original language, who is familiar with important archeological discoveries that shed light on the Bible, or important issues about the surviving manuscripts involved.

When I became a Catholic it felt like all the work I did studying Bible commentaries and attending college Biblical theology classes were all in vain. I had to relearn everything ‘in Catholic.’ But finding a good Catholic Bible commentary was not so easy— until the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series came out.

These commentaries are just like the Protestant commentaries I am more familiar with. They are accessible to lay persons, but have enough content to be a reference for pastors/priests preparing a sermon/homily.

One difference, though, is that each section ends with a short ‘Reflection and Application’ section. This is good for the Christian, because Christians believe that we are not supposed to just interact intellectually with the Bible, but apply its teachings to our lives.

This first volume of the series (they don’t have commentaries on the Old Testament books. Yet.) is on the Gospel of Matthew. A Gospel is an account of the life of Jesus Christ, and the four earliest-written Gospels were written by Apostles— leaders of the early Christian church. In the case of the Apostle Matthew, writer of the Gospel of Matthew, we are dealing with an author who was an actual witness of the life of Jesus Christ— Matthew was chosen by Jesus Christ to be one of the ‘Twelve,’ an inner circle of disciples who received more teaching and, in the traditional interpretation, were ordained to be priests/pastors at the Last Supper.

The Gospel of Matthew really starts off telling the story of the Incarnation of the Son of God from the beginning— with a genealogy list. The authors of the commentary are very aware that this genealogy is a stumbling block to some readers of the Gospel— especially those new to Bible reading who start off with the first Gospel.

The whole text of the Gospel, in the New American Bible translation, is provided, which I like because I don’t like having to flip back and forth between two books, a Bible and a commentary. OK, I do that anyway because I prefer the KJV translation (and have one with the Deuterocanonical books.)

Protestants unfamiliar with Bible commentaries may get upset about quotes from Early Church Fathers and saints and the like (even though I first learned about Early Church Fathers from Protestant sources,) but you don’t have to pay attention to these things if you are not interested in them.

I very much enjoyed reading this commentary and I plan to buy and read more in the series. I ALSO intend to buy and read more volumes in the old Tyndale Bible commentary series, which I have liked since my teen years.

Lenten & Wuhan-Coronavirus Greetings from

Nissa Annakindt, her cats & critters, plus new lamb Daisy

Daisy

 

 

 

 

 


My Facebook author page includes updates when I post a new blog post, so if you are on Facebook, please visit and ‘like’: https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats


PERSONAL UPDATE:

I have recently finished a short book about blogging, called ‘Getting More Blog Traffic: Steps Towards a Happier Blogging Life.’ I’m currently trying to figure out how to turn my Scrivener project into someone the Kindle Create software can work with. (Wish me luck!)

Should Your Author Blog be a Genre Blog?

So you have an author blog…. Maybe you are not even quite a published author yet. Maybe you started your blog to get a head start on that platform-building thing. But what do you blog about right now, when you don’t have any current book news of your own to crow about?

You might do a mitzvah for your new/just-starting-out writer friends by mentioning their stuff. That’s the right thing to do and it is kind, but just as there are not droves of readers panting for news about your upcoming book yet, other new writers have the same situation.

The solution for many is making a blog that is at least partly a genre blog. If you write Christian romance, you can review the most popular Christian romance books, interview the authors perhaps, talk about what is going on in that genre and subgenre, and build a platform that is right for your own books as well.

The same goes if you write atheist Westerns or cozy mysteries or ‘Young Adult’ dystopian novels. If you have nothing new to say about your own writing at the moment, put your own spin on the rest of the genre. Some people even create a multi-authored genre blog which will serve to help promote all the authors’ works (assuming someone involved in the project can actually get all of the authors involved to post regularly.)

One thing to watch out for— if your take on your own genre is largely negative, a genre blog is not right for you. I have encountered would-be authors of Christian fiction who proclaim that ALL Christian fiction is bad— too ‘edgy’ or not edgy enough, too preachy or not preachy enough, or just plain boring and tame. But if they had a blog and ran their genre down that way, they may convince their readers to give up on ALL Christian fiction, even that written by the blogger!

You need to have a mostly positive view of your genre. You can be against some works in your genre— I hate science fiction works where the story takes second place to collecting politically correct diversity points— but if you don’t have a lot of positive stuff to say about a genre, don’t think you can blog about it and win an audience.

Genre blogs are one choice for you when you have an author blog and are not quite sure what to do about it. Blogging frequently is important if you want to win new readers for your blog; genre blogging can help you build up a readership that is likely to enjoy your actual books when they come out. It’s not the only possible choice, though, so if you have something that works for you, stick with it.

Lenten greetings from,

Nissa Annakindt & her cats & critters


Visit my Facebook page (& I will visit yours): https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats

Blogging for Homeless People

Because of my ‘poet’s-level’ income, I’ve long had a bit of interest in the lives of homeless people. Years ago I discovered there were homeless people who blogged, and one at least had a book made from her blog that did well enough that she became ex-homeless.

The homelessness thing really hit home after I had a stroke last year. My home was left unattended, my bills went unpaid, and the power and furnace were off so my pipes froze and the house became uninhabitable according to a social worker who was helping me.

Until the pipes got fixed (thanks to the State of Michigan, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the Salvation Army) I had to be somewhere else. And due to some interpersonal issues with an angry shirt-tail relative, I ended up in the Menominee homeless shelter, and learned a thing or two about real homeless people. Some of whom are not too ‘crazy’ or impaired to create a blog.

Many homeless people have smartphones these days. There were lines in the common room at the shelter to plug phones in for recharging. Most to all of homeless persons are eligible for government poverty programs which would cover the monthly fee for a cell phone. (My SmartTalk phone plan is about $45 a month, and I think there are plans for even less.)

Homeless people would have to have a free blog from either Blogger or WordPress . com, which is OK. My blogs are free blogs, too. You can post to your blog via smartphone— I put both Blogger and WordPress apps on my phone when I was in the hospital. Blogging from a smartphone is a bit of an annoyance when you are used to using a laptop, but I managed it from a hospital after my stroke.

In the homeless shelter there was not much cell phone reception and no wifi, and since I was only there temporarily and was depressed at the time, I didn’t blog from the shelter. But if I had had to stay longer, there were local places with free wifi, such as the McDonalds. I could have ordered coffee or a bunless burger or breakfast sandwich, and stayed there long enough to write a blog post.

For more lengthy blog-work, one can go to a local library with computers. Go there on days when you have been able to get a shower and freshly laundered clothes, and tell the library folk you are a writer and have a blog (bloggers are writers) and the staff will be glad to help you out and may be honored to have you there. (They may think you are the next J. K. Rowling. They may be right!)

My phone takes pictures and videos. I don’t know how to put these on a blog post while blogging from my phone, but I’m sure I could find the information I needed in an internet search. Pictures and videos can liven up a blog. Be sure you don’t take any identifiable pictures of other people without their permission to use them on your blog! You don’t want to get in trouble and lose your blog over it.

It’s good to compose your blog post on something like Evernote, which is free and is an app for cellphones as well as being online. That way you can cut-and-paste your blog post rapidly to your blogging site, and you have a spare copy of the content in case your free blogging host takes your content down and you have to move it elsewhere. You may also want to save a copy to work into book form.

Attitude is the main roadblock for the homeless blogger. Being homeless is depressing because you feel that if you were a lovable or even likable person, you would have family members or friends who would let you stay with them in times of trouble.

But homelessness happens, and not just to the stereotypical homeless schizophrenic. Blogging can be a tool to help you cope, and it can have a good side effect in that you are raising ‘awareness’ of real homeless people and their real problems. If your blogging doesn’t lift you out of homelessness, it may be a big help to homeless people in general by encouraging more charitable giving.

And what if you don’t happen to be homeless? Let the example of homeless bloggers inspire you. If a homeless person can manage to blog, you can surely do it. And so can I.

Have you ever blogged during tough times? From unlikely locations? Tell us in a comment!

 

Lenten greetings to all my readers, friends & frenemies, from me & my cats, chickens & Attila the gander,

Nissa Annakindt

Visit my Facebook page (& I will visit yours): https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats

The Lutheran Rosary & The Jesus Prayer

Rosary with Lutheran Rose on cross.

Many Lutherans (and other Protestants) are uncomfortable at how much the Hail Mary prayer is used in the traditional rosary devotion. One division, or decade, of the rosary has 10 Hail Mary prayers, preceded by the Lord’s Prayer and followed by the Gloria Patri (and possibly the Fatima prayer.)

One way to get around that is to replace the Hail Mary with the Jesus prayer. The Jesus prayer is a very ancient devotion in the Eastern Orthodox church. ‘The Jesus Prayer: The Ancient Desert Prayer that Tunes the Heart to God’ by Frederica Mathewes-Green is a whole book about the Jesus prayer by a convert to the Eastern Orthodox church.

The way to think about the Jesus prayer is this: in those early days in the church, no one had personal Bibles in their home for daily Bible reading. You got your ‘dose’ of Bible from the Bible readings in church. And so hermits and early monks would snatch on some Bible words they remembered and repeat them over and over to get closer to God. It was a way of to ‘pray without ceasing’ as in I Thessalonians 5:17.

The Jesus prayer is: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.’  There are many Bible passages in the Gospels in which people ask mercy from Jesus Christ, as in Mark 10:47: ‘And when he [Bartimaeus, a blind beggar] heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.’

In the Eastern Orthodox church it is customary to use a ‘prayer rope’ of knotted wool to count one’s repetitions of the Jesus prayer. Many people make thousands of repetitions of the prayer a day!

In the Lutheran rosary, it is combined with meditating on the rosary Mysteries, or Life-of-Christ meditations, just as one does when one uses the Hail Mary in the rosary. Since the Jesus prayer can be said more quickly than a full Hail Mary, one can pray a rosary more quickly to the end.

The hard part is when you are using an audio or video rosary from Catholic sources to help you learn the rosary. You can learn to say (or think) the words of the Jesus prayer when everyone else is saying a Hail Mary, but it’s a bit of a learned skill. If you want to regularly pray the rosary along with Catholic friends and you just cannot say any part of the Hail Mary, you can learn to pray your Jesus prayer silently and just pray aloud with the Our Father and Gloria Patri prayers. But it is a learned skill. I’d practice with an audio or video Catholic rosary, such as those on EWTN television, before I would try it with real people. (I recommend the ‘Holy Land Rosary’ which is on at 630 Central Time in the US.)

The first step in learning to make the rosary part of your spiritual ‘arsenal’ is to memorize the prayers you will be using, and that includes the Jesus prayer if you will be using it, along with the Lord’s Prayer and the Gloria Patri prayer. You don’t want to fumble around reciting the prayers from books if you can help it.

The Jesus prayer, all on its own, has been used as a serious prayer tradition. Using it in your Lutheran rosary is not ‘cheating’ or doing less than a full rosary, but can be a real blessing to you.

What to Read: Deus Vult by Declan Finn

Deus Vult

Saint Tommy, NYPD Book 6

Declan Finn

I had some earlier books in the Saint Tommy series on my Kindle last year when I went to the hospital and other places, and those books really took my mind off grim reality.

The main character, Tommy Nolan, is a NYC cop. If you like one of those Law & Order shows but wish it had fewer anti-Catholic, anti-Christian and pro-abortion moments, this series may be a real treat for you.

If you are well-informed on the Catholic concept of a saint, you may wonder how Tommy can be ‘Saint Tommy’ when he isn’t dead yet. Author Declan Finn is well-aware of this, judging by the books. He’s got every darn demon in the Greater NYC area offering to make Tommy into a full-qualified (dead) saint.

What Tommy has is some strange spiritual gifts that have been reported in the lives of certain saints while those saints were yet alive. Tommy can smell evil, can bilocate and levitate, and cool stuff like that which is quite useful to a working cop.

In ‘Deus Vult,’ Tommy just wants to spend some quality time with his wife and kids, but he’s caught up in a case. A monastery has been desecrated and monks brutally murdered, and the local demons are gathering to make yet another attempt to doom Tommy.

The term ‘Deus Vult’ means ‘God wills it,’ in case you don’t know. I didn’t and had to look it up. The genre might be described as faith-based urban fantasy, and it’s quite exciting. I also think it’s good because it shows that a formidable police officer can also be a man of faith and a family man.

There is (Catholic) religious content, but the book doesn’t feel like a bland faith-lesson or a tame work of stereotypical Christian fiction. It takes you in to places where you see the seamier side of life, but you are in the company of a man of faith and God is on our side. I would recommend it as an exciting read, even if I didn’t personally share the author’s faith.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I’ve known the author, Declan Finn, in an internet kind of way for a few years now. Right now, Declan Finn and his wife are having some troubles, They are/were in Italy when Italy shut down, and when trying to leave the country walking through the wrong door at the airport led to being detained and they still aren’t home safe as of this writing. But they have a batch of FB folks praying for them and they are supposed to leave Italy today.