The Merry Writer started as a hashtag game on Twitter and Instagram. Hosted by Ari Meghlen and myself, The Merry Writer Podcast is a fun, friendly show about all things writing and bookish. Join us as we ask all the “write” questions.
Episode 043: how do you build a following on social media?
In this week’s episode, Ari and I discuss some ways to build a consistent and engaging following on social media (without killing yourself!). Let us know your answers to this topic in the comments or on Twitter using the hashtag, #TheMerryWriterPodcast. Be sure to give it a listen through the YouTube video below or any of the links below. Enjoy!
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I received an e-ARC from the author. The decision to review and all opinions are my own.
Title: When Silver Met Gold Author: Kounj Muzafar Genre: Romance
Series: N/A Publisher: Self-published Publication Date: August 14, 2020
I don’t typically read romance novels and I gave the author the head’s up about that when I was contacted about this book. The story sounded intriguing though, so I decided to give it a try. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint.
The protagonist, Musca, moves back to Pakistan after the death of her mother where her life is changed forever. Growing up in the US, there are plenty of differences between there and Pakistan – including relationships with adorable boys you’re smitten with.
The characters were fun to follow along. I enjoyed the relationship building between Musca and Aaliyan as well as her uncle. The overall romantic plot with the cultural differences was fascinating and nothing I’ve ever read before, so I’m glad I got the chance to check this one out.
The writing style was easy enough to follow along, but I felt there was too much description in some places. For me, the beginning was pretty slow and it took me a little bit to get into the story.
Overall, I enjoyed the read and I’ll look forward to see what else this author has in store.
When Silver Met Gold by Kounj Muzafar
When Silver Met Gold by Kounj Muzafar is a refreshing romance read. If you’re looking for something culturally different and enjoy romance, give this one a try.
About the author
Kounj Muzafar is an introverted butterfly who likes to wrap herself in the cocoon made of books and caffeine. When she is not reading, she is writing. The passion for reading was developed in her early teenage years, while her first writing was a short story she had scribbled in her notebook.
She is an entrepreneur, an author, a freelance writer, and a blogger. She hosts multiple blogs including, ThatKayBlog.com and Author Kounj Muzafar. She believes in humanity, peace, fate, and the beautiful fantastical and supernatural beings. She likes traveling, trying new food, especially learning new things, and acquiring knowledge. Interested in all the beauty world carries she still likes to live in her muse and imaginations.
This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission should you buy from these links at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.
Something I’ve always wanted to do was create a vision board. I never knew what to make this board about though. It can be about anything.
When 2019 went down the drain, I decided to make a vision board filled with ideas and goals for 2020.
I never made it through. I actually forgot about the idea.
It’s fine though because 2020 was a dumpster fire – it was worse than 2019. If I had made a vision board I would have added “traveling” and… well, that wouldn’t have worked out.
In an attempt to go into 2021 on a positive note, I decided I was finally going to create my vision board.
Vision board creation for mental health
This was one of the most therapeutic things I had done in a long time. I chose to write about it as a mental health post mainly for that reason.
Not only is art therapy a great activity, but it really made me focus on things I want and need for the better. Rather than me saying, “I wanna do this!” and then not doing it and getting upset with myself. Or doing it and it doesn’t go according to plan, thus me getting upset.
Plus, I roped my sister into doing this with me so we each made a vision board. We went to our local craft store and spend money on things we didn’t need such as washi tape and scrapbook paper and lots of cool stickers.
I already had the poster board – in fact, I had two so it was perfect – for another project I planned on working on a few years ago… that I never did.
The poster board came into use eventually!
Once we got back from the craft store, we worked on our vision boards for about six hours before they were finally completed. It was a Sunday afternoon/evening well spent.
My 2021 vision board
I divided my board into six categories with 2021 at the top with two quotes I want to keep in mind for the year.
The left quote is:
Don’t let the internet rush you. No one is posting their failures.Peter Hollens
The right quote is:
You’re going to be challenged to the max, but you will find your way through your own destined path.Virgo horoscope for 2021
The reason I did this was that I was trying to make everything as even as possible. I thought I could have more than six categories but I couldn’t make the squares even otherwise. So, I filled the top with quotes and more stickers.
Each square is a category with goals in it for the year. I tried to come up with three for each category. I cut watercolor scrapbook paper into the size of post-it notes and glued them into the board for my goals.
Then decorated each square further with a quote and stickers.
This first square is “connect” so it’s all about friends and family. Here are my goals:
Reach out and/or make plans with friends and family more often
The reason for the and/or is because we’re still in a pandemic and there are some people I don’t feel comfortable seeing in person but still want to keep in touch with. Pandemic or not, whether I can get together with them in person or not, I want to reach out to friends and family more often than I do.
Not being able to see each other for the past year has been weird. I still keep in touch with my close friends through text and such but I feel like I could be doing more. I often lose myself in my work and forget my phone exists.
This is also for my anxiety too. I don’t reach out to people often because I feel like I’m bothering them or being annoying. So, I don’t. I wait for others to reach out to me.
So, I want to be a bit more proactive with this so I can show them that I’m still thinking of them too.
Collab with friends online more often
For those of you who don’t know, my sister and I run a video game website called Double Jump. We also live stream on Twitch. We’re part of a lovely online gaming community and have friends from around the world with who we keep in touch.
We used to collab with blog posts often and play games together. That sort of fell to the wayside due to my mental health along with the pandemic (despite this being online) and then the holidays hit and such and we just never got back into the routine.
My sister and I have a few collab ideas that we’d like to pursue this year and also keep in touch with these friends more often. In other words… I need to stop forgetting to check Discord.
Meet someone new
Is this possible since we’re still in the pandemic? I don’t know. But, if given the chance, I would like to go out and try something new and maybe make a new friend or something.
I don’t even know how I would do this since I don’t like talking to people, so we’ll see what happens.
Quote for this square
Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.Peter Hollens
I chose this quote for this square because I don’t keep in touch with friends and family as often as I should. I pretty much work, babysit, then work some more. I also hate leaving the house so I need to work on that.
The category below that is “fun.” This is piggybacking from the “connect” category. I need to do a little more than just work all the time. I need some hobbies that won’t turn into work either.
Learn/try something new
What is this new thing? I have no idea. But I’d like to broaden my horizons with something.
Improve graphic design skills
In addition to learning something new, I want to try to improve something I already do.
I chose my graphic design skills for a number of reasons. I enjoy it and I use it for work (I know, I was just talking about doing something not for work), but it’s just a generally good skill to have in the world of computers.
Try candle making, photography, resin
Now that I’m writing this, I realize these three goals are all similar to each other. I want to try or learn something new and improve a skill.
In addition, I also want to do more candle making. I’ve done this before and would love to make this into a hobby. The last time I tried, the scents burned off and my candles were pretty much scentless. So, definitely improve this.
Photography is something else I want to get better at. I have a DSLR camera and want to learn how to use it better. I also want to be more open about taking photos.
I’ve thought about bringing it to my local pond or even just walking around my block but I’ve been self-conscience about what people would think I’m doing. So, I’ve never taken photos outside my backyard.
Resin is something I’ve always wanted to learn and try to create stuff with. Except, I don’t know where to start, so… I haven’t. I’d like to fix that at some point.
Quote for this category
Roof, roof! I’m a puppy!Ian
This is a joke from one of my live streams. I still laugh at it often and thought it was appropriate for the “fun” category.
Of course, I want to set some career goals for myself, so that’s the next category.
Open Spilled Ink shop
I’ve been wanting to open my own shop with products for readers and writers alike for a few years now. It’s been in the making for a long time and nothing has come of it yet because there’s a lot to learn when opening your own small business and selling online.
It’s been a learning curve and I’m planning on having it finally come to fruition this year.
Register as an LLC
I actually put “get a business license” on the board but I meant to write, “register as an LLC.” Between my shop and the services I offer, I think it’s time to officially recognize my work as a small business. This will help me out a lot in the long run.
Grow Spilled Ink services
Registering as an LLC is certainly a step in growing Spilled Ink services but there’s a lot more I want to do with it. For one, I created a new website for it that will be opening soon.
Quote for this category
Your standards are high, and this is fine. It’s easy to reach small goals. You’ve picked the largest mountain to climb. Be patient.Virgo horoscope from 2019
This was my horoscope from a random day in October from 2019. It always stuck with me because patience, when it comes to work, is something I don’t have much of. It also just made me feel better about my career choices too.
Of course, I needed to add a mental health section to the board.
Try more art therapy projects
I’ve always wanted to get more into arts and crafts and art therapy is fascinating to me. In fact, someone once told me they thought I should be an art therapist. For some reason, that always stuck with me, despite the fact I can’t draw or anything like that.
I want to try more art therapy projects to express my feelings more and explore the mental health space in general. The vision board was the first one and it worked out great.
Yes, I consider this to be part of mental health. It’s physical health and nutrition as well, but the amount of exercise and different foods you eat also affect your mental health.
Plus, from a non-mental health perspective, I’m sitting on the computer for most of the day and I’d like to move around a bit more.
Quote for this category
I’m thankful for my struggle because, without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.Peter Hollens
This quote has always resonated with me. I think Peter Hollens posted it on his Instagram account a while ago. I have a few quotes from him on my board because he’s just such an amazing and inspirational person.
The next category is “finances.” Do you know what I learned here? I have trouble spelling the word “finances.” I don’t know why but this is a word I need to stop and think about before spelling. Who knew.
Save money/make travel plans with friends
In 2018 and 2019, my sister and I went on a weekend getaway with our friend. We had planned for it to be a yearly thing. Except, 2020 put a stop to that.
I don’t know if we’ll have the chance to go anywhere in 2021. I also don’t know how adventurous I’ll be. The pandemic mixed with my anxiety has made me hyper-aware of germs and I will never be able to look at the world the same. I was already nervous about airplanes and I have no idea when I’ll feel safe to get back on one.
So, that’s why I said to save money and make plans. Even if we are able to get away by the end of 2021, I think I’d rather wait to be on the safe side. For this year, we can decide where to go, for how long, and save money for a much-needed trip.
Save some money for school
Yeah, I’ve been wanting to go back to school. I’m not entirely sure why but I’d love to get my Master’s degree. The reason I stopped after my Bachelor’s was because I was sick of spending the money and I also didn’t know what to get my Master’s in. Marketing? Business? Something else? I wasn’t sure.
I’m still not sure. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to school, but just in case I decide to go back in the fall or next spring, I want to keep it in the back of my mind and have some money set aside just in case.
Set up an account and save for retirement
This isn’t something you learn about in school – certainly not for people who are self-employed and go into business for themselves.
I saw something on Pinterest about a retirement plan (not sure why it popped up on my feed, but oh well) and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
So, I’m setting aside some money each month into my savings for retirement. When I feel it’s safe enough to go to the bank and open an account for retirement, I’ll transfer the money I already saved and continue to save to that account.
Quote for this category
Everything you do has value. Maybe you don’t get compensated fairly every time, but make sure you protect your value as best you can.Jett
Another quote from another friend. This is another I wrote down because saving money, dividing it up, and starting your own small business is a roller coaster of ups and downs. It’s easy to get discouraged and… it’s super expensive and hard to make a profit, especially in the beginning.
Reminding myself that I and my work have value is something I need to do often.
Finally, I made a category for overall goals I want to achieve for the year. These are things I want to work on throughout the year, things I’ve been working on for a long time but let other things get in the way or I get discouraged for some reason or second guess myself.
So, I added these big goals to my board to remind myself to keep pushing forward with them.
Be ready to buy a house
My sister and I have been saving for a long time. Everything around us is so expensive so we’ve been saving as much as we can. However, we both think it’s time we start actively looking for a house.
Once we reach a certain amount saved (by the summer, I think) we’ll start really looking for a house. In the meantime, we want to attend some open houses and such just to get a feel for the process.
We don’t know if we’ll find “our” house by the end of the year depending on the market and what’s available, so that’s why I put “be ready” to buy a house for the year.
Hire an editor for George Florence book
This needs to happen. I’ve been working on this book for so long and it’s the best it’s ever been (I think).
So, I want to be in the process of hiring an editor by the end of the year. This includes actually having one or shopping around for one. I know it’s a process to find one you click with and it also depends on their availability. If I can have a couple lined up, if not one already hired yet, that’d be great.
The blank goal
Remember earlier I said I tried to come up with three goals for each category? I added this third one but didn’t write anything down because I couldn’t think of anything.
I wanted to make sure I had room for it in case I thought of something later.
I thought about adding, “complete 10 out of the 17 goals” on the board but I think that might be adding too much pressure to myself. If I only have eight completed by November, I’d start freaking out.
So, I left it blank. Maybe I’ll fill it in tomorrow, maybe I’ll fill it in during the summer. I want to see how the year goes. Anything can happen or change between now and a few months from now. A new goal might arise, so we shall see. Only time will tell.
Quote for this category
Your earthy sign is being given a lot of chances to prove yourself this year, as you are meant to fully thrive in all realms of life, love, and business.Virgo horoscope for 2021
This is another quote from my year’s horoscope. I thought it was fitting based on my goals, wants, and needs.
What about the back?
The back of the poster board is blank.
To keep me accountable and to encourage myself along the way, I decided to document my year. I’m going to take pictures of my accomplishments, especially of the ones that are listed on the board.
By the end of the year, the back of the poster board should be a collage of pictures of any art therapy projects I do, new friends, moments with my family, any crafts I try, and more.
I’m looking forward to seeing what I accomplish this year!
Have you made a vision board before? Do you have one for the year? Let me know in the comments and we’ll chat!
Meredith pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration. They had done this so many times and yet, something always seemed to go wrong. She had turned on the computer and the recording software, but that needed to update. Whenever the program had updates, it usually took a good chunk of time. It was about halfway done and it had already been thirty minutes. She had taken the microphone out of the closet and set that up, but hadn’t plugged into the computer just yet. The program didn’t like to have everything plugged in right away when it first opened. It was fickle like that.
However, when you’re first starting out and you decide to do an expensive hobby such as film making with your friends, you start off with the cheapest equipment you can find – as long as it works. Theirs worked, it always took its time though.
Isaac stood on the other side of the room setting up the camera on the tripod facing the green screen. Well, it wasn’t exactly a green screen. They had bought a bunch of green poster boards and stuck them together to make a green screen. It was on their list to buy, they were saving up for an actual green screen. Again, the cheaper route was the best route for now and the green posters worked just fine. At least, they couldn’t tell through the footage while editing. (Hopefully their viewers didn’t notice either.)
“How’s it going over there?” Isaac broke the silence.
Meredith shrugged even though her friend’s back was to her. “The program is still updating. I think we’re going to be a bit behind schedule today.”
“No worries, we were going to be behind anyway,” Isaac replied.
He took out the battery from the camera. “We forgot to charge this last time we filmed.”
Meredith groaned. She buried her face in her hands.
“Hey, it’s no big deal. It only takes an hour or so charge. It may take that long for the recording studio to finish updating anyway.”
Meredith looked back at her computer screen. “True. Still, this is quite annoying.”
“It happens. You have to roll with the punches. We’ll get to the episode today, don’t worry. Besides, Gabriel isn’t even here yet.” Isaac looked at his wrist watch.
Meredith stood making her way to the window. She looked at the street seeing her car in the driveway and Isaac’s parked on the street. Two cars drove by, but neither of them were Gabriel. “Did he say he’d be late?”
Isaac shook his head. “Not to me. I have no idea where he is. I guess I could text him. If he’s on his way, he’s not going to reply though.”
“Well, I guess we can take that a good sign then, right?” Meredith walked back to the couch picking up her cell phone. She silently decided to reach out to their other friend despite Isaac volunteering to do it. Meredith typed something in the group chat between the three of them. She hit “send” and tossed her phone down onto the cushion.
“We should have stuck with live streaming,” she said.
Isaac snickered. “Live streaming is just as difficult. And we’re live so if any tech issues happen, we have to deal with it in front of an audience.”
“I know, I know… but I feel like sometimes setting up to record not live is more difficult.”
“This will be good in the long run. We try to live stream quite often and that requires all three of us to be on at once all the time. If we create a video series with different features and stuff, we can cut back on the live streaming,” Isaac explained. “I think it’ll be good for the channel because we’ll be able to have more freedom behind the camera if we record rather than being live. Plus, if we can’t live stream for some reason, we can upload a video so there’s still consistent content on the channel.”
Meredith nodded. She knew all that. They had a team meeting a few weeks ago and while it was Isaac’s idea, they mutually agreed it would be a great addition to the channel and help it grow further.
They were a gaming channel and they live streamed about three to four days a week. It was tiring and time consuming, but they had a lot of fun with it. They alternated someone being behind the computer and camera while the other two hosted the show and played a game.
They had decided they could do more with recorded videos. They could start a podcast-like show, maybe schedule guests on now and then, and they’d be able to have more gaming content other than them just playing games.
Would the viewers like it? They weren’t sure. The trio of friends wanted to create a decent backlog of videos before going live with the news. They were each busy with their own lives and it wouldn’t look good for any of them if they uploaded a video and then couldn’t find the time to get together to record the next video.
While they didn’t want to stop live streaming, they hoped to cut it back a little. College started in a month for all three of them and they knew they weren’t going to be able to live stream three to four days a week. They’d be happy if they were able to live stream just two days a week. They had already told their audience the schedule was changing soon and the live streams would get cut back a tad. However, the videos will be a nice surprise and will be uploaded on the other two days they normally live streamed but didn’t have the time to do anymore.
It would add a bit to the channel without taking anything away. Isaac especially hoped they’d be able to eventually upload a video daily and continue to live stream at least twice a week. Gabriel had agreed and while Meredith thought that would be a fun idea as well, she wasn’t so sure how realistic that’d be – at least, not anytime soon.
Meredith looked at her phone. Gabriel hadn’t replied yet. The recording studio on her computer still hadn’t updated, though it seemed as though it was almost done. Isaac had left the room to do something for the camera. She stood and looked outside the window again.
There was still no sign of Gabriel but that was alright. They clearly weren’t ready to begin anyway. She was nervous to begin school in a month. She and her friends had been live streaming for about a year now and they had a decent sized audience. They all enjoyed it and were happy to continue on with it through college and beyond. They had convinced themselves their internet video channel would kick off and they’d be rich and famous in no time. All of their parents, on the other hand, were all in agreement that their children should go to college for a backup plan. They were supportive with the videos and live streaming, yes, but they were afraid of the “what ifs” of life for their kids.
So, Meredith and her friends worked it out so college would work in their favor. They all got into the same school and scheduled their classes around one another as best they could. This way they could still maintain a steady recording and live streaming schedule.
Gabriel was attending college for business. He was a math whiz and academically the smartest out of the three of them. Knowing their channel may take off and pay for itself within a few years, Gabriel was the one who knew it would turn into a business. There would be budgeting, ad revenue for the channel, getting game review codes from developers, possibly merch down the road… he was ready to take on the challenge of being the business manager for their channel and Meredith and Isaac were both okay with that.
Isaac was attending college for marketing. He was always the best at social media and had no problem hyping the channel up to strangers on the street, family and friends in real life, or just shouting it into the void of the internet. He always did research on various social media platforms and had always looked for bigger and better ways to spread the word about their channel in the gaming industry. So, marketing seemed like the way to go for him. He’d learn new skills for it in college.
Meredith, on the other hand, was attending college for film making. She was the one who was the most tech savvy out of the three of them. She often got frustrated with the various tech issues they always had, but she knew that’s what happens when you have to buy cheaper equipment. Of course, they just needed something that worked and honestly, all their equipment worked great. It had been a year and (so far) nothing had blown up on them.
She wanted to learn more about film recording and video editing. She’d love to see what kind of equipment other people had and what her professors would recommend.
Thinking about college was nerve wracking for her. Meredith felt a bit better knowing that Isaac and Gabriel were in the same boat as her. She wanted to learn these new skills, despite doing a great job at teaching herself this past year. However, she wasn’t looking forward to the homework and the projects. She certainly didn’t want to sit in during a lecture either.
However, all their parents were nice enough to let them all take a year off after high school. None of them knew what they wanted to do and instead of wasting money on possibly useless classes, they took a year off to explore their options in the real world. Gabriel was the only one out of the three of them who had a job and when he came home from work one day, Meredith and Isaac had roped him into recording a video with them. From there, they decided to live stream and somehow, it kicked off and became a thing they did. It became their purpose.
Now it was going to become more than their purpose. It was to become their jobs.
Isaac had already sent out messages to their followers and subscribers as well as on social media that a new addition to the channel was coming, especially since their live streams were being cut back. They had a great audience. They were all kind to one another (yes, they were still pretty small) and they were supportive of the three of them going to college to hone their skills in the film industry. In fact, some people even donated money to them for the college. Meredith and the boys split the donations, as small as it was, evenly and put it toward their textbooks for their first semester.
Gabriel walked through the door breaking Meredith out of her thoughts. He let out a groan. “Sorry, I’m late. There was an issue at work and I couldn’t leave.”
Meredith smiled. “No worries, everything’s going downhill anyway. We can’t do anything. The recording studio is still updating and none of us thought to charge the camera from last time.”
Gabriel stared at her shocked for a brief moment and then let out a chuckle. “Ah, okay. So it’s going to be one of those days, I see… work was already annoying, so let’s get down to business with this thing.”
He took off his jacket, tossing it to the side, and sitting down on the couch beside Meredith. Isaac entered the room and gave a small wave to Gabriel. He leaned against the wall on the other side of the room and the three of them stared at each other for a moment.
“Do you think college will recommend any new programs for us to get so this doesn’t have to update all the time?” Meredith chuckled.
Gabriel grinned. “Well, my classes should teach me how to budget and stuff for a business so we can certainly start saving for a new program.”
“I’ll be able to market a fundraiser.” Isaac winked.
The three of them laughed.
Meredith didn’t want to go to school, no. She was nervous, yes. But there was a little part of her that was actually looking forward to it. She only hoped it will be as good as she thought it would be.
I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.
Series: N/A Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing Publication Date: April 11, 2020
Seeing the differences between men and women in real life, this book is a fascinating read.
I had to admit that it took me a little bit to get into the story. In the beginning, I had a hard time following exactly what was going on and what any goals were, but it picked up. Frieda goes on a journey to rescue her brother and, of course, things happen.
I enjoyed the characters. I thought they were likeable and relatable in some ways, despite this being a dystopian-type novel.
The writing style, aside from the slow-start of the beginning, was easy to read and follow. The author has a great way with words and built the world masterfully.
Overall, this was an interesting read with intriguing characters, a tempting plot, and an intricate writing style.
Virtue Chasm by Ashley Crookham
Virtue Chasm by Ashley Crookham is an excellent book if you’re looking for something new to explore. This takes outside-the-box thinking to a new level.
Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts on it in the comments below. If you enjoyed this post, please share it.