2019 Writing & Reading Goals

Welcome to the New Year everyone! With the beginning of a new year, it’s time to start planning ahead for what we hope to accomplish in 2019. 2018, as was the case for most of us, was a year full of turmoil and heartache. While there are no guarantees that the year ahead will be better, we can only hope. As an author and blogger, I have been planning out what I hope to accomplish in the coming year. That’s why I’m going to publicly outline my goals for 2019.

Build Website

I hope to continue building my website that you guys are currently visiting. While I want to get more viewers and followers, my ultimate goal is to provide more exposure for other authors, review and preview amazing books coming in 2019, and meet some new and amazing friends in the author community. 

Read 150 Books Or More

I will make this public on Goodreads as well, but I more than surpassed my goal of books read in 2018, and so I want to challenge myself to read 150 books or more in the coming year.

Enter 2-4 Writing Contests

Writing is going to become much more frequent and a part of my life. In 2018 my own personal writing took a step back. Between my day job becoming much more frequent and a priority, building my website and taking on more responsibilities in my personal life, my writing fell to the wayside. I did publish a short novella and began working on the third novella in that series. I also wrote the fourth book in my Nightmare Wars series. However most of that writing has fallen to the wayside, not edited or reworked or even getting a second draft. 

That’s why in the coming year, I want to further my writing goals and enter at least 2-4 writing contests. This will give me the motivation not only to write, but edit and rewrite these stories and put them out there for others to see and judge. 

Submit 2-4 Stories For Anthologies

Similar to the contests, I want to submit 2-4 stories for anthologies. I get notices all the time for publications putting anthologies together and I’d love to collaborate and work with other authors in this way. 

Edit 1-2 Books Previously Published

One thing that I’ve learned in my years as a writer and blogger/reviewer is that there is always room for improvement and more lessons to be learned. When I was first starting out, I definitely failed to edit and flesh out the stories I wrote as a young writer. I want to take some of the stories I still love that I published prematurely in my writing career, and go back and fix them. I want to bring the stories to life and edit them so that readers will appreciate them more the way that I do.

Write 1-2 Novels

I have so many series in the works and so many stories floating around in my mind, that it’s time to put some of them down to paper (or a computer screen). I hope to write at least 1-2 novels in the coming year. 

Write 2-4 Short Stories

In addition to the 1-2 novels, I hope to write 2-4 short stories (not including the contests or anthologies I plan to write stories for). 

Adapt First Graphic Novel

I would love to adapt one of my novels into a graphic novel. I plan to study and learn how to write a graphic novel, and hopefully will find an artist who is willing to collaborate on the project.

Research, Investigate and Write Book On Southern California Haunting Claims

This is a passion project I hope to pursue in the coming year. My mom and I are deeply passionate about the paranormal, more specifically finding the right science behind the paranormal (we are not religious and believe there is a science that has yet to be discovered in regards to the “spirit”). One thing we have dreamed of is going to places around the world, investigating and writing about what we found/discovered. Our goal in 2019 is to try and do this by writing our first book together on local haunts in the Southern California area. 

Monthly Vlogs on Author Anthony Avina Channel

This is not specifically a writing goal, but it is related. I used to have a vlog channel called Avina Vlogs, but after all of the turmoil and changes to YouTube, I left it behind. However I loved making videos, and want to do it again. So not only will I be filming and uploading a video each month to my new YouTube channel, Author Anthony Avina, but I will be uploading them to Facebook, Instagram and hopefully my website as well. I’m doing monthly vlogs as I have a full schedule and filming daily is not an option at this time. I may look into restarting my podcast again or creating a new one, but that is not confirmed at this time.

What are your writing goals in 2019? Any books you hope to tackle in the coming year? Leave your comments below, and to keep up on whether or not I hit my goals, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and here as I post my progress.

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The Stigma Around Therapy and Why It Shouldn’t Exist

I am honored to be working with BetterHelp on this article.

One of the most difficult things that anyone suffering from mental health ailments or anyone wanting to take control of their mental health struggles has to deal with is the social stigma that has taken over our society for years. Much like the societal stigma that has been placed on sexual and gender identity over the decades, a person’s mental health journey has been marred by the constant ridicule and ignorance of others who believe seeking help for your mental health is nothing more than a sign of weakness.

Breaking this ignorance can be difficult. Many families and individuals have spent their entire lives being taught that certain things are “wrong”. Even those who grow and learn to see past the stigma of certain things will still find themselves ignorant of things they say or do. For instance, I have known people in both my own life and outside on social media who are great people, but still use terms like “crazy” to describe a person, or even using actual ailments to describe a person negatively, like someone saying a person is “bipolar” and indicating that anyone with the ailment is painted in the same negative light.

These societal stigmas can be incredibly difficult to ignore or overcome. When you have the whole world telling you there is something wrong with you when in reality you are just a human being who needs a little help, it can be hard to make the effort to seek out a therapist or consider therapy in general. The thing we as a society need to do is break the social stigma around mental health and seeking therapy in general. 

First of all, seeking out a therapist or asking for help with your mental health does not mean you are “crazy”. I personally don’t believe that term is accurate, as it brings a negative light to something that everyone should be a part of. The mind is a muscle, and a part of the human body. It needs to be looked after and taken care of just as much as the rest of your body, and seeking a doctor or therapist to help in that regard is nothing to be ashamed of.

Secondly, therapy and seeking out a therapist in general does not make you an outsider, nor should it make you feel ashamed or like there is something “wrong” with you. The stigma around mental health has led to severe consequences, with the loss of life due to some not seeking the help they need increasing and personal impacts on people’s relationships and work lives being affected as well. 

Mental health is a real thing, whether or not people want to believe it. Seeking help doesn’t not make you weak. In fact, getting help for your mental health is smart and the strongest thing you can do. Guys, it doesn’t make you less of a man to seek help and get in touch with your feelings. Women, never let men or anyone in your life make you feeling “crazy” just for finding a therapist and taking care of your own well being. Everyone in this world can benefit from seeking out therapy and getting the help they need. Ignore anyone who tells you differently, and take the steps to find the help you need today.

Learn more about how to find online therapy using BetterHelp at this link —> CLICK HERE (opens in a new tab)”>CLICK HERE

The Blogger Trailmap: How to Take Your Blog to the Next Level in Easy Steps by Chivi Frost Review

Have you ever wanted a fast paced guide on how to get your very own blog, vlog or podcast rolling? Do guides with statistical analytics and chapter after chapter of tactics make you feel overwhelmed at the idea of starting your own blog? Then author Chivi Frost has the answer for you in the novel “The Blogger Trailmap: How to Take Your Blog to the Next Level in Easy Steps”. Here is the synopsis.

Have you ever wanted a fast paced guide on how to get your very own blog, vlog or podcast rolling? Do guides with statistical analytics and chapter after chapter of tactics make you feel overwhelmed at the idea of starting your own blog? Then author Chivi Frost has the answer for you in the novel “The Blogger Trailmap: How to Take Your Blog to the Next Level in Easy Steps”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

“The Blogger Trailmap” is great both for beginners who are about to start a blog, as well as those bloggers who are established and ready to grow. 

This book brings for you a proven plan, tools & templates you need for incredible success. This power-packed concise guide can help you in many ways: 

Templates to set clear goals and craft a blogging roadmap, avoid common mistakes, and how to get started quickly. 

With a focus on action, this book brings for you the tools, templates, and checklists to help you quickly Implement what you learn in every section of the book. 

Gives you a proven framework for creating content which people would love to read and share. 

Simplifies every critical aspect of a blog – e.g. Magnetic Headlines, Copywriting, Swipe Files SEO, Sales Funnel, Landing Page and email Harvest. 

Crush it on social media without going crazy – Build a list of raving fans and subscribers on autopilot without constant hustling. 

Secrets to rank high in search engines with SEO best practices so that you can grow your traffic and get readers to come find you. 

An easy-to-follow, systematic process to make money through your blog & grow your business. 

Above all, you will learn that you don’t need fancy tech or cool tricks to grow your blog! 

Whether you are a hobby blogger or blogging for profit, I am confident that this book would give you game-changing ideas to make your blog more meaningful and hugely successful. 

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The Review

This was an incredibly thought out, easy and informative read. As a blogger myself, it was refreshing to see a guide that focused more on the personal, social connectivity of a blog (or vlog or podcast), than the statistical side of things. While statistics and facts all have a place in starting your own blogging business, you can’t get to that point without first learning what your brand is and who you are trying to reach. 

From explaining the concept of these formats and showing off the fundamental trail to follow in order to build your blog, to showcasing how to find your blog’s identity and the identity of your audience, this guide has it all. It’s a quick yet powerful read that will give anyone hoping to build their website the confidence they need to take that initial step into the blogging world.

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The Verdict

Overall this was a fantastic read. It’s a great roadmap to the beginning stages of any blogging format (blog, vlog or podcast), and gives readers the confidence to find their voice and not give up when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. For anyone looking to get their voice heard in the world of blogging and in search of a helping hand, then pick up your copy of Chivi Frost’s novel “The Blogger Trailmap” today.

Rating: 10/10

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Write On Your Terms: Why You Can Succeed As A Writer Without Committing To NaNoWriMo

Let me start off by saying this: I love NaNoWriMo. I’ve participated twice in the last four years, and each time I felt myself challenged, excited and creatively supercharged with each passing day. The process of writing in 30 days a full 50,000 word or more novel is exhilarating to say the least. So this post is not a knock to the event at all. In fact the event is still a very huge presence in my writing in the month of November.

However, for any authors out there who are not participating or can’t participate in the event, know that it is ok. You do not have to participate in the event to be a great writer in life or even just in the month of November. I struggled for a couple weeks on whether or not I wanted to participate in this year’s event.

Am I participating?

So many factors came into play when it came to my ultimate decision. I am working four jobs right now, all of which take up a lot of my time. In addition to this, I have responsibilities at home that take up even more time of my day, so by the time I get to the point where I have time to write, I’m either exhausted or have very little time to write, only getting a few hundred words in at most. I also have a project I am deeply committed to, but I am already at over 40,000 words. I’m not sure how many more words my project will end up taking on, but I don’t want the pressure of having to write another 50,000 just to satisfy the goal of NaNoWriMo and writing more than I really needed. Each story is unique (as many of you writers know), and should not be constrained by word counts for the sake of statistics. It usually sacrifices the story and flow of the novel overall as a result. I started coming up with an outline for a short story anthology I want to write to create a whole new project to work on, but with all of the other factors in play, the timing for NaNoWriMo 2018 just didn’t feel right.

So I decided ultimately to hold off for the year. I felt at first like I was failing to join the writing community or failing to be the best writer I could be. Then I started to ask myself: why? My day jobs consist of writing. I have a whole project I’m in the midst of working on that will include more writing. I’m neck deep into the world of writing. Why should I feel any less of a writer just because I’m not participating in the event.

Your Terms

There is no shame in taking your own path when it comes to writing. Whether you have an existing project, a project that doesn’t require 50,000 words or more or already is near that goal, you don’t have to commit to an event to feel like a great writer. The best advice I can give to a writer is to just be you. Write what you love, and write it on your own terms. Whether it takes you a month or ten years, don’t let anyone else tell you, (although, unless you are writing the next great novel, ten years is a bit long. Just kidding). Even I am still growing as a writer, and learning that you cannot rush the creative process or a project as a whole. To anyone participating in NaNoWriMo, good luck to you guys and I wish you well. I look forward to reading some of these projects in the future, and to interacting with you guys throughout the month as we all write alongside you. To everyone else, be you, and write on your own terms.

What do you guys think? Does this help any of you writers out there? Do any other authors have advice for anyone not participating in NaNoWriMo? Leave your comments below and be sure to share this post on your social media sites.

Check out my latest review of Firstborn by Tosca Lee here! Also grab your copy of my first two YA novellas in the Nightmare Academy series here!

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Hope At The House of Mouse (Disneyland 2018)

My Day At Disneyland

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The blazing Southern California heat couldn’t touch stop us from having the time of our lives. When the world thinks of Southern California residents, they have a certain image of us. They see beach dwellers, Hollywood obsessed actors and non-stop party goers. They see the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, and the pitfalls of crime and horrors on the streets of our cities. Thanks to social media, a lot of people also tend to assume that anyone who lives in Southern California goes to Disneyland all the time. They would be wrong.

When I was a kid, trips to Disneyland were a once a year adventure. They were ingrained into our childhood memories, like sand mixing into the fibers of a carpet. No matter how hard you try not to dwell on the past and yearn to return to a happy time, those memories just won’t go away. For someone like myself, who struggles with physical disabilities 24/7, getting down to Anaheim and the Happiest Place On Earth is no easy task.

Entering The Park

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For the first time, I got to experience a day at Disneyland and California Adventure like never before. Setting out with my fellow Disney obsessed fans (who happen to also be my mother and sister) we ventured into the park and experienced it like it was the first time. From our first time eating lunch at the famed Carnation Cafe to the soothing ride on the classic attraction Jungle Cruise, the day was like someone scavenged through the memories of my childhood and plucked it out of my mind.

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Honoring My Grandfather

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The highlight, (one of many), of the day for me came in New Orleans Square. Years ago on Christmas Eve, my family and I had the misfortune of having to say goodbye to my grandfather, my mother’s father. He was a kind, caring family man who may not have been perfect, but he loved his family dearly. He was the kind of man who wouldn’t let you get into his home without bombarding you with affectionate hugs. He gave my mother, sister and I our love for cheesy horror movies and musicals. He is the man who introduced my mother, and subsequently me, to the works of Stephen King, the author who would inspire me to become a writer in the first place. He was an amazing soul who worked his entire life as a carpet layer to provide for his family, and gave everyone a lifetime’s worth of memories to cherish.

It was one of those memories that led to this momentous day at Disney. While in New Orleans Square, my mother surprised my sister and I with a glass figurine each. We learned that as a child, her father would take her to Disneyland, and together they would watch the glass figurines being made in that shop, the Cristal d’Orleans. Then he would buy her one of the figurines. It was a symbol of the great memories she made at the park with her father, and for years she dreamt of passing it down to us. After a decade away from the park, we finally had the opportunity to learn of this experience she had, and together we had an emotional bonding moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.

California Adventure

Then we continued our fun in California Adventure. An area of the park we never experienced as children since it had yet to come into existence fully, we explored the fun and excitement of the park. It was Pixar Fest, and we got to see some amazing sights. We traveled back in time to the days when boardwalk games were still popular and won some fun prizes. We listened to amazing Mariachi Music, including a wonderful rendition of our current favorite Disney tune, “Remember Me” from Coco. We shopped and dined, and together we experienced one of the best days of our lives.

Some may not understand fully why a day at Disneyland could be so magical to a family of adults, but to us, honoring our childhood and the memories we shared, is something everyone should experience throughout their lives. The world of Disney helped shape part of our lives, giving us the means to explore masterful storytelling, emotional highs and lows in life, and best of all, discovering the magic of hope. In our daily lives, we experience physical pain from our disabilities, emotional pain from those illnesses and the despairing world around us, and mental pain knowing those things aren’t something we can change overnight. Yet in that one day, we got to experience nonstop wonder, excitement, fun and best of all, hope.

A Day To Cherish

We laughed. We cried. We made memories together, and we made promises to one another. Promises to honor the day we had with one another and make it an annual trip (hopefully) in the future. To make it a goal to get to the park at least once a year, and honor the memories we shared with one another. To honor those who are no longer with us in body, but remain in our hearts. To look adversity and pain in the face and smile, as the hope for a brighter tomorrow races towards us. For myself and my family, that is what the happiest place on Earth means to us. That’s what Disney has done for our family.

What is your favorite childhood memory? What’s one place you will never stop wanting to go to no matter how old you are? Leave your comments below.

https://disneyland.disney.go.com/

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How Depression Affects Relationships and What to Do About It

How you deal with your depression may very well decide whether your relationship will end before the depression does. One study showed how major depression leads to negative life events such as divorce. Not only that, but your spouse may become depressed, too, as they struggle to manage things you aren’t able to do because you’re mired in negativity.

Your spouse may be your greatest support. The best way to thank her or him for that is to deal with your depression as quickly and completely as possible.

Easier said than done, right? However, there are some things you can do for yourself to decrease the severity and length of your depression.

Avoid Ruminating

Ruminating means turning something over and over in your mind without solving the problem you’re thinking about. Some people call it wallowing. Think of it as dwelling on problems rather than solutions.

Research has shown that people who ruminate a lot when they’re depressed have more numerous and severe depressive symptoms. So, instead of thinking about how bad you feel and everything you feel has gone wrong, choose more positive thoughts.

Change the Way You Think

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a treatment method used by therapists to teach you how to identify problem thoughts and replace them with more positive thoughts. Through cognitive restructuring, a key CBT technique, you learn to look at your situation differently.  You can work with a local therapist or an online psychiatrist to change your thinking through CBT.

Take Positive Action

People who are depressed often have a hard time taking positive action to improve their situation. Many do break through their feelings of being stuck though, and you can, too. Start with CBT. Then, go further by putting what you learn into practice every day.

Take action on your own, or talk to your partner about how you can work together to solve problems. The benefits for your relationship can start even before the depression lifts. Just the fact that you’re collaborating with each other on these issues can bring you closer together.

Confide in Your Spouse

Confiding in your spouse about your depressive thoughts and behaviors is a good way to check your perceptions and thought processes. Assuming your spouse isn’t depressed, too, she or he can help you develop a more balanced view and provide a more positive perspective.

Do Activities You Usually Enjoy Together

You might not feel like going hiking or taking an evening to go have dinner and see a play. If an activity has been a source of joy for the two of you in the past, though, your spouse may miss it. Honor the support your spouse offers you by doing what you can to support them, too.

Seek Help

The most important thing you can do for your relationship is to seek help for your depression as early as possible. With early intervention, you can overcome your depression faster and stay well longer. You can learn appropriate ways to deal with your depression within the marriage and when you’re on your own.

Marie Miguel Biography

Marie-Miguel

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

How I Cope With Depression & Anxiety

Hello there everyone! You guys have read a lot of different posts from me. I mostly post book reviews, author interviews and personal writing blog posts about my own work as an author. That’s what you’ve come to know about me over the years, but one thing you may have noticed as well is that I am very passionate about mental health awareness. There are many reasons for my increased passion for this topic, but today I’m going to tell you the personal connection I have to mental health awareness. You see…I suffer from depression and anxiety.

I’ve touched upon this briefly in old videos on my YouTube channel Avina Vlogs. However as I’ve had the pleasure of working with the amazing company BetterHelp on several guest blog posts, I thought I’d take a more hands on approach and work with the company to bring you my own personal mental health struggles.

You see, my depression struggles began when I was sixteen years old. At that time I was an active kid in high school, working hard in school and holding down a steady job, earning money for my future. I was studying, working, and gearing towards my future education in college. I was losing weight, hitting the gym hard and was living what society has deemed a typical high school life. Yet whether you want to call it fate or just a stroke of bad luck, the universe had other plans in store.

One night in November 2006, I was at the gym playing a pickup game of basketball when I landed on a slippery spot on the court. My legs gave out under me and I proceeded to tear a ligament in my ankle. That would be the night my life changed forever. To make a long story short my life got turned upside down. My ankle to this day after multiple surgeries never healed properly. After my injury, illnesses I inherited from my family began to crop up,. This stopped me from working out of the house, forced me to finish my high school career from home and set me on the course I’m on today.

Now while this string of bad luck allowed me to find my purpose in life, which was writing, it also set me up with a lifetime of health struggles that will never end. This has been the biggest contributing factor in my mental health struggles. Since then I have struggled with crippling depression and anxiety, especially and more specifically social anxiety. It’s a struggle to get out of bed each day and do what I’m capable of doing, knowing I’ll never be able to do what I once was able to. The struggle never stops, but there are ways I’ve learned over the years to cope. Some are more personal, while others may be able to help you as well.

  1. Talk to someone. This is the most important step you can take. Sitting alone with your thoughts in this state is dangerous, and if not for my amazing family I would have been alone. Speak to family, friends, or professional help. No matter what find someone to reach out to.
  2. Find a Creative Outlet. This for me has included various things, such as writing and reading, blogging, photography, videography, playing video games and so much more. Perhaps art or design is your outlet. Find something to occupy your mind.
  3. Health. Eat healthy food, exercising or moving in general can help with your depression.
  4. Seek Help. If the depression is overwhelming, seek help from a professional. Don’t let others tell you differently. Ignore those who support the stigma around mental health. Take control and find someone to help you. They can either prescribe the right medication for you, help you find natural ways of coping or talk you through the process. A great way to do this is to find a psychiatrist, which thanks to my friends at BetterHelp you can do by clicking the link here.    https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/psychologists/reasons-to-choose-an-online-psychiatrist/

Thanks so much everyone for listening. If you’d like to know more about my mental health journey or other’s who struggle with it and how they cope, leave a comment below and share this post on your social media sites. Thanks to my friends at BetterHelp for the link to this amazing resource, and I will talk to you all in the next post.