HUG YOURSELF HAPPY

need a hug HUG YOURSELF HAPPY

I’ll admit it: I’m a hugger. There’s nothing I like more than getting up close and personal with another hairy human. I hug my husband, child and dog as often as they’ll let me. I hug friends. I hug hello and goodbye. I hug taxi drivers and shop assistants. I’d hug the guy who makes my coffee if I could reach over the counter. In fact, if you live locally and you haven’t experienced a hearty Toon hug, then please get in touch, I’m ready and willing.

But why do I love hugging so much?

Well according to the interweb, hugging is good for you. From a medical standpoint it lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, boosts memory and floods your innards with the ‘feel good’ hormone oxytocin.

Just ten minutes of hugging a day can give you a more positive outlook, and apparently those couples who regularly entwine themselves in a huggy fashion have a stronger emotional bond.

Yoga teacher Marcus Felicetti advises us that if we get our quota of ‘eight hugs a day’ we can combat sickness, disease, depression, loneliness, anxiety and stress. Sounds awesome, right?

But if you’re not a natural hugger, or don’t have anyone regularly willing to submit to a good hard hugging – what then?

Well, a company on the East Cost of America has developed a solution – by offering professional snugglers for hire with a range of ‘snuggle buddies’ who promise to sooth away your stress with hugs.

Expect to shell out anything from $60 for an hour-long cuddle, or if you’re in need of some more intensive hugging, they also offer a 10-hour overnight package for $400.

(N.B. The service markets it’s self as entirely platonic – so those wanting a little more than a hug need not apply.)

Of course, touch therapy has been around for a long time in one form or another and has been used to treat a variety of physical and psychological ailments.

Health experts argue that after touch therapy, such as massage, there’s a noticeable reduction in the action of the hypothalamic area of the brain (which controls the so-called flight or flight response’). Touching and hugging comforts and relaxes us, stops us feeling threatened and therefore promotes a sense of security and well-being.

It’s clear that there are many people who could benefit from some serious hugging, which is the reason Juan Mann started his famed FREE HUGS campaign (www.freehugscampaign.org), hugging complete strangers to brighten up their lives.

Although he was eventually banned – due to public liability issues (seriously!) – the spirit of his hugging manifesto lives on!
So today, if you’re feeling a little blue (or know someone who is) reach out, hug them and share in the warm glow that comes from platonically and physically connecting with another human being.

 

 

How to seduce your reader and find your voice

Let’s face it, we can’t all wait around for a book deal or an agent to come knocking on our door. That’s why I love it when writers take the initiative and make things happen. Eda Utku asked if she could share her latest competition on my blog and I thought, ‘why the heck not?!’ Take it away Eda…

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I was just reading a blog article by one of my personal copywriting heroes, Kate Toon, about writing sexy copy.

Among her six sensual tips is the importance of using the right words to describe a product or service. 

She explains that, even when describing a pleasure device (vibrator), some words are downright turn-offs while other words are sexy.

So how do you work out which words are lame and which got game?

RESEARCH WORKS!

After repeatedly testing words and copy and seeing what works and what doesn’t, expert copywriters develop a knack for finding the right words.

I’m convinced that all good writers are excellent seducers. 

With great writing readers quickly find themselves under the writer’s spell. Without realising, it the reader is thinking and feeling exactly what the writer intended.

That’s the kind of writer I want to be.

Now, I’m no master of the craft (merely a student), but luckily I have access to extraordinary writers (thank God for the digital age, eh?) whose style I can emulate.

And through this process I can work towards finding my own voice.

Sydney Reads Contest

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In order to help me find my voice I’ve decided to launch a reading competition. Here’s how it works:

  • From January I’ll be releasing a short story on the 12th of each month
  • I’ll be distributing to cafes and beauty salons in Sydney and LA
  • The stories will also be available for download on my website

To enter the competition, simply provide feedback via my site or  Facebook.

Win an iPad

In return for reading my stories and giving me your feedback, you could be the lucky owner of a brand new iPad Air Wi-Fi 32GB.

Read more about the competition here

Hopefully this feedback will help me improve my writing.

I don’t ever want to get to a level where I think clichés are OK. I need to put my readers first and never underestimate their sophistication. This mantra is what some of the best copywriters live by.

I know that all the great writers are tough critics of their own writing and that’s what makes them so awesome.

The desire for constant improvement kicks off the journey towards growth in any area of life. I’ve already got the desire; I just need a little help from conscientious readers like you, with mastering the art of reader seduction.

So, here’s hoping 2014 brings me the thing I crave most. Better writing!

What are your writing plans for 2014? Please feel free to share below:

Eda UTku How to seduce your reader and find your voice

EdaUtku is a marketer by day, writer by night.

 

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The one thing every dog needs

So I recently wrote this article for Flying Solo about how important it is to have a furry companion when you’re working alone.

My lovely Dad (Mr. Toon to you) then wrote this skit piece just for fun, but it was so good I felt I had to publish it. Take it away, Pa Toon.

—————

There are a stack of articles out there in the pet magazines that outline the essential steps to take before going it alone, but they’re all forgetting one vital component.

You’ve decided to leave that pet shop and go it alone and be your own boss. You’ve sorted out your dog license, had all your vaccinations and made yourself look adorable.

But there’s one thing that’s more important than all that, something that’s essential to going it alone:

You need to get a human

Yes, that’s right. A human is an essential part of any dog’s life.

Don’t believe me? Well, after conducting a highly scientific study (I spoke to some other dogs on the beach), I found that 99 per cent of dogs have humans. I could create a bone chart here, but I think you get it.

Clearly there’s a connection between going it alone and owning a two-legged friend. And here’s why.

Company

A carefully positioned human can make a comfy, heated bed to nap on while watching the television.

And let’s face it: going it alone can be lonely.

Yes, you can go to the beach or to a doggy café and sniff other dogs, but from now on, you’ll spend the majority of your time confined to the house and garden.

The feel of your human’s gentle toothpasty breath on your face will make you feel less alone.

Distraction

Humans provide much-needed distractions, and stop you getting too sucked into your little canine world.

Putting it simply, they need to wee, poo, walk and eat, which means they’re forced to take regular breaks throughout the day. A five-minute respite to let you out gives you time to stretch, have a wee, bark at next door’s dog and return to your bed a little more refreshed.

I start every day with a walk on the beach. While my human sups coffee and twiddles with her iPhone, I get to consider the day ahead – making my mental to-do list. You know: bury a bone, dig up the lawn, pee on the new rug, bark at the postman, that sort of thing. By the time I get back to my home, I’m ready to rock.

Discussion

Humans are excellent sounding boards. My doggy friends will only listen to me barking on about my problems for a fixed amount of time, but my human never tires of my whinging (well, she does occasionally) – though I’m not sure she always understands what I am talking about. As long as I’m looking adoringly at her, she’s happy.

I often discuss issues and problems with her. A slight movement of her eyebrows, or a tickle of my tummy, gives me the direction I need to make smart, empowered decisions. And she doesn’t even charge – not like a vet.

Comfort

I don’t know about you, but my home is freezing. My human makes a perfectly ergonomic, heated cushion, and her bed – comfy, what!

Morale

Being a dog is not easy. We all have bad days – you lose a bone, your favourite toy stops squeaking, people shout at you for barking at their dogs. They all take their toll on your morale.

A human will, quite simply, make you feel happy. There’s some primal connection between dog and human. A quick lick of my human’s cheek and I know everything will be okay.

So forget about investing in expensive doggy toys, or wasting cash on a new lead. If you’re going it alone, get yourself a human. It gives you a tried-and-tested guarantee of a happy and well-fed life.

But. if you’re thinking you can substitute any human and achieve the same success, you are mistaken. My advice is to chose your human carelfully. Some humans – like that bloke across the street – have been known to have a detrimental affect on your well-being. You have been warned.

Do you have a two-legged friend of the human variety? How has he or she helped you go it alone? Comment below:

Derektoon The one thing every dog needs

Derek Toon is a part-time writer and photographer who has been taking pictures for over 50 years. His photographic interests include street photography, panoramas and urban decay.

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Wobbly Jim: What next?

So, we did it.
We raised $8305 in 14 days via Pozible and our project is officially going ahead.
We now have 45 or so days left to see if we can add to our total.
Any extra money we raise will be used to convert Wobbly Jim into an eBook so we can sell it via Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore, Copia, KOBO, Nook, Barnes & Noble and others.
If we raise substantially more, we’ll try to put together an app for iPhones and other devices. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

So, what next?

Well, while Will is busy finishing the illustrations and laying out the pages, I’ll be focusing on distribution.
This will involve:

  • Writing a press release.
  • Drawing up a list of possible publications and blogs we can send the book to – in the hope that they review it.
  • Drawing up a list of bookshops, and approaching them personally to see if they’ll stock the book.
  • Planning a launch party.
  • Working out how to set up an Amazon account.
  • Setting up the payment mechanism on the Wobbly Jim account.

In reality, the Pozible project was just the beginning, now the real work begins!

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COMA SUTRA IN SHORT AND SWEET FINALS

I found out yesterday that my 10-minute play, ‘Coma Sutra’, won its week to make it into the ‘Short and Sweet’ finals in Sydney. It won first place with the judges and came third in the People’s choice vote. My good pal Nick Bolton also scooped 3rd for Mr. Pissed, which was one of my personal favourites.

See a breakdown of the votes

‘Coma Sutra’ is an almost monologue about a guy who’s popular with buses and struggling to wake up from his porn-packed, regret-filled coma.

Every now and again you write something that you think is actually rather good (rather than the usual feeling of, hmmm…). I felt that with ‘Coma Sutra’. The voice of the main character, Matt, is actually my internal voice (yes, with all that swearing), put into a male body, so it felt really genuine to write.

I also wrote with an actor in mind, something I used to do when Deborah Bradshaw regularly acted in my pieces. This time, my muse for the character of Matt was the flame haired lovely that is Aaron Nilan, quite simply, no one else could have played the part so well.

Melinda Lastos directed the piece for a ‘Script in Hand’ night so I felt it was only right she direct it in ‘Short and Sweet’. She took the rudder firmly and steered the ship home, sadly I couldn’t make any rehearsals (due to sprog care) so it was a bit exercise in trust. Mel made some cuts (and bizarrely changed the name of the dog in the final speech from Phillip to Jack), but I’m pleased that I let her do her thing.

And big hugs to Danielle Emery who stepped in to play Suze the day before the performance, to fill in for the previous actress who was felled by tonsillitis.

Here’s a snippet:

“Even though I’m dead from the brain stem down, my cock is on fire.
All the black holes are just filling up with SEX. Just a random succession of moist holes, tits, thighs and sweat you know? It’s like some cheesy hotel porn is playing in my head all the time. I try to reach down and like… you know (grins sheepish) and I can’t. How frustrating is that?”

Annoyingly, the gala final falls when I’m away on my writing retreat (obviously I didn’t think I had a cat in hell’s chance of winning).

Do I come back and see it, or just hunker down and focus on my novel? Hmmmm.

While I’m blowing my own trumpet, did you know that:

  • The play won Judges’ Choice, Peoples’ Choice and Best Actor Runner-up for James Hartley, in ‘Crash Test Drama’ Sydney, July 2012.
  • My last time in the finals at Sydney was in 2008 with ‘Bomb Disposal’
  • I’ve been in the finals in Brisbane (Sock winner ‘Best Drama’ 2011), Canberra (‘Sushiwushiwoo’, nominated ‘Best Play’ and ‘Best Overall Production, won ‘Best Actress’ for Caroline O’Brien, 2012) and Melbourne (‘Bomb Disposal’ nominated for ‘Best Comedy Writing’, won ‘Best Actor’ for Jonathan Dyer, 2007.)

Right, that’s more than enough showing off. IF you’d like to go to the Gala Final at the Seymour Centre, you can book tickets here, or call 02 9351 7940.

Gala Final details are:

Time:

  • Fri 22 March 7.30pm
  • Sat 23 March 2pm & 7.30pm

Tickets:

  • Friday – Adult $45, Group/Group 6+* $40
  • Saturday Matinee – Adult $40, Group/Group 6+* $35
  • Saturday Evening – Adult $49, Conc./Group 6+* $44

Venue:
Seymour Centre
Everest Theatre
Corner of City Rd and Cleveland St
Chippendale NSW 2008

Contact Kate Toon – Sydney writer

I’m a poet, writer, playwright (and in real life an SEO copywriter, SEO Consultant and Information Architect) call me in Sydney Australia on +61(0) 418 166 458, or email me.

gureilla

Isn’t time you went guerilla?

I’ve never been much of a team player and the idea of getting ‘involved in the community’ brings me out in an itchy rash.

In fact, the word ‘community’ conjures up images of hippies weaving their own underwear or growing rhubarb: it’s just not for me.

There are those who like to join in and those who prefer to stand in the corner muttering to themselves. I’m with the mutterers.

But when I asked a few friends (yes, I have some) how they’d describe community, they came back with words like: loved, connected, supported, helpful, sharing, blessed. Sounds good, right? So how does a certified loner like myself get a bit of that warm and loving community action?

Well, recently I’ve been attempting to grasp the social nettle and embrace my local community, and I’ve discovered the perfect way for us hermitty types to get involved while still keeping our distance.

I like to call it the Guerilla community approach.

For those less literate—no I’m not talking about cavorting with the herbivorous apes that inhabit the forests of central Africa or starting some kind of local gang war —but rather about using stealth tactics: striking and withdrawing almost immediately and practicing random acts of community kindness.

Here are some Guerilla community ideas you might like to try:

  • When paying for your coffee, pay for the next person’s as well.
  • Shop local at small businesses and be friendly to the staff.
  • Carry spare dog poo bags to hand out to forgetful owners.
  • Water your neighbours’ plants on a hot day.
  • Stop when you see a stray dog, check it’s tags and call the owner or the council.
  • Drag a neighbour’s bins back off the road for them.
  • Give someone a random compliment.
  • When you’re walking the dog, take a pair of rubber gloves and a bag, and pick up any rubbish you see.
  • Let someone go ahead of you in the supermarket queue.

Just by doing these small things, you’re actually helping your local community.

No, you haven’t volunteered for a local charity, or run a marathon to raise funds for the local seniors club, but you’re doing a little something every day. I guarantee you’ll quickly feel a warm glow welling up inside you.

After a while, you might also find that people remember you. That passing smile blossoms into a friendly ‘hello’, and then possibly a little chat. No, they’re not friends, not even acquaintances, but perhaps this little human interaction will be enough to put a little extra zig in your zag.

And possibly, when you’re next walking to the shops to buy your microwave meal for one, you’ll enjoy a feeling of belonging, without actually having to belong.

Share your thoughts

What do you think of my guerilla approach to the community? Can you think of any other tactics?

 

Contact Kate Toon – Sydney writer

I’m a poet, writer, playwright (and in real life an SEO copywriter, SEO Consultant and Information Architect) call me in Sydney Australia on +61(0) 418 166 458, or email me.

Image borrowed from http://www.guerillagoodness.com/

This article will soon appear in the new and improved Gnostic magazine.

 

Writer of things