December 2020 update: Fire and Ice

So it’s December. The year is coming to an end. Twenty twenty. What a year. My hair now covers one of my eyes and I have added a Cabin Fever tracker to my weekly planner. Ambition has begun to falter and the days seemingly blur. So, let’s jump in.

What’s New?

The blog has been going strong this year and we’ve surpassed visitors from 2018, which was my initial goal for the year. More followers have joined the site and I expect more to join as we head into 2021. Writing has provided a much needed reprieve from the chaos of the world and I’m happy with this year.

Articles in Advance

Perhaps one of the most exciting changes on the backend is that with the work that’s gone into the new blog format, I can now start planning more articles in advance. Instead of a stressful May and April, writing an article a week at a time, I’m gradually writing the articles as the ideas pop up.

Patreon and Marketing

Patreon has been updated based off of feedback, not much has changed there. As it stands, Patreon isn’t feasible as a sole source of income, which is fine. I’ll still tinker with it as I like having the option to have a little extra money on the side for expenses. Marketing has become much more exciting. Twitter posts are now threads and the official Facebook page is easy enough to maintain. I’m simply focused on having fun with each respective platform rather than putting pressure on myself to generate growth on each.

Time to Think

This year has been an experiment. In September I turned 27 and I’ve been in a mad dash to make the most of my twenties. I’ve since taken some time to slow down and not be so frustrated that I’m not learning to paint, play piano, learn French, and code all while simultaneously trying to find a new job. I did an informational interview recently to see about writing in a corporate setting and it made me realize that hobby writing is really what I enjoy. Editing would be fun, but anything more might be more stress than it’s worth. I plan to build a portfolio for my writing and coding but I’m honestly glad I studied Business Management and am planning a Masters in Data Analytics. If I can get through 2020, I believe 2021 will be my year as I become more focused in what I want to do with my life. 2020 was my year of bold and 2021 I want to be my year of change.

Goals for the blog

Understanding where I stand with my writing, my ideal is to simply keep growing on WordPress and eventually getting more engagement; I’m grateful that I get some engagement here and there but I dream of a world where every post has a discussion attached to it. I have the recipe for success after this year of soul searching, now it’s just seeing if the ingredients are of the same caliber.

Writing Outside of the blog

I am still wanting to publish a book! However, with my reassessment on life, I’ve come to realize that it is not a pressing urgency; a fun to-do that can continually be pushed back. More pressing would be building a portfolio and contributing to different writing communities from time to time. That’s the plan anyways.

November Wind: A poem by Mike Cole

He felt a chill as the air grew cold

The leaves blew gently

He closed his eyes

This November was colder than usual.

He chopped wood and carried the bundle back to the fireplace

The wood crackled as it burned.

He thought back to Novembers long before, and was left, wanting.

A time where the warmth of the fire was felt throughout.

Where his jaded smile was once whole.

Yet only the cold remained. Waiting for Winter, silently and alone.

November 2020 update: Winter Cometh

What a time to be alive. Rain has come and the months grow darker. November is the passageway from Autumn to Winter.

October

As part of my effort to expand the blog, October was dedicated to quite the treat. For the last month I wrote a short story a week, each around a different horror theme. Week one was “Hades” which focused on my limited knowledge of Greek Mythology. Week two was “The Church” which focused on an old, long forgotten church in the English countryside. Week three took us to “The Manor“. Set in Ireland and loosely inspired by Bly Manor (which I was watching at the time) I experimented with emphasizing room locations to add character. And for Week four we had “The Mirror” where I mixed mental health with horror. All were fun to write and “The Mirror” ended up being quite popular and one of my favorite short stories I’ve written thus far.

The future of October

As part of my general overhaul of this blog, I plan on making October an official spooky series month and in particular, dedicated to writing short stories. I already have a couple ideas for improvements for next year, such as making the short stories two-parters with cliffhangers and more engagement events focused around Twitter and Facebook.

Engagement

The last six months you may have seen quite a few changes from creating a Facebook page to an updated bio and contact page. Of the changes I’ve made thus far, the status updates have been my favorite. As far as major updates this month, I am pouring effort into Twitter. The goal ultimately being to draw in readers from platforms other than the WordPress reader. Ideally I would have liked to hire help for engagement but as it stands, it’s a job I can do and just means I’ll be extra tired.

On the blog itself, I’m trying to figure out the formula for encouraging people to comment and have fun with the blog outside of simply reading it. So far, I’ve simply been liking and commenting as best I can; I enjoy engagement and am hopeful that the blog will one day reach a level where readers will engage with one another.

Patreon and Ko-Fi

Slowly but surely I am getting better at navigating Patreon. I’ve received some feedback and made changes accordingly. The biggest change is updating the Patreon page itself with the newest posts. This, I have to do manually but it creates a better overall experience for both those who follow through the blog and those who are searching through Patreon. As of now the rewards are basic but the plan is to eventually have Patreon exclusive rewards that make each tier feel meaningful. This might be a free copy of a book (if I ever finish one), early access to a podcast (should I ever create one) and prints of artwork (yes, I want to eventually learn to paint and draw). I might fiddle around with Patreon exclusive writing down the road but since I am only one man, it would be nigh impossible to justify the time commitment at the moment. If you’re curious to see what the page looks like, you can check it out here. I’m proud of the changes and if you have any feedback, don’t forget my contact page is fully operational! Every message sent should get seen by me.

Artwork

With writing, blogging was started as a way to get practice communicating. Eight years later and I think I’ve gotten the hang of this whole “communication” thing. As I’ve begun beefing up my media presence and focused on marketing my content, I’ve begun to wonder if now would be a good time to expand once more. It’s hard for people to read articles from beginning to end. A painting or drawing is instant. You see color or the pencil lines, notice detail or minimalism, and make a judgement within seconds. I want to do it as I’ve heard it’s beneficial for mental but I’m also curious if that might be the missing ingredient for getting more people interested in my work.

The future of Series on the blog

Series are here to stay! Previously, I was going to designate April as Sustainability month on the blog but after this last month have decided to focus on poetry. I was also thinking of doing a hybrid poetry/sustainability month but have ultimately scrapped the idea. The reasoning behind this is simply my greatest strength is poetry. A lot of people follow the blog for poetry and I realized that I can write the occasional sustainability article to raise attention to the cause. Plan on Earth Day and my short stories to cover most of my thoughts on sustainability. The big cause and the month that will be article heavy is May, where I will once more be covering mental health.

The blog originally started with a lot of self-help articles as I shared my advice that evolved from my application of business concepts in the real world. In 2018 I took that a step further and dedicated an entire month to the topic of mental health, a series that was meant to be a one off where I built up the courage to talk about my Father’s alcoholism and how it affected me. Last year, I wrote a couple articles in a mad scramble to express the importance of mental health. Over the last 6 months (or however long it’s been) I’ve focused the content I produce so there will be no more mad scrambles (yay). Since I’ve already talked about my deepest troubles, that frees up quite a bit to simply have fun with the series, much along the strand of what you saw in 2019. I already have a couple ideas drafted so we’ll see what comes.


And that’s a wrap. November will be a relatively quite month as I take a breather and organize my social media. As always, thanks for reading and expect a post most likely last week of November! If you have suggestions, always feel free to reach out!

The Mirror: A short Story by Mike Cole

She looked in the mirror every morning. She would wake, she would go to work, and she would sleep. In the morning she would simply stare. A minute, half an hour, time seemed to have no relevance. Her dreams were shattered and her life was nowhere near where she thought it would be. Now in her mid thirties, going on thirty-six, she was alone. A small apartment, where her diploma hung, unused. She had worked retail since graduation and she no longer had the energy to try to make use of her degree. She would greet the customer, come home, and sleep.

The mirror was old. It was what she had left of her parents and the mirror had been passed down in her Mother’s family for a few generations now. The mirror had a small crack, distorting her reflection just over her right eye. It gave the impression of disfigurement when in reality she was quite beautiful. Long, flowing blonde hair, hazel eyes borderline green, and a long face that had a hint of melancholy to it. If she was sad, it hardly showed.

But she was indeed sad and as she lay in bed, she decided she could not sleep and instead looked into the mirror. Instead of disfigurement she saw herself as a child. She was painting and she was smiling. As a child, she loved art. Drawing, painting, and sculpting, she had done it all. As she grew older, she focused on the practical and lost that creative spark; she had not thought about this in years and wondered what had happened to her.

Beth jolted awake from her sleep. It was 3am. Had it only been a dream? The rain pattered the window and the sound of thunder could be heard in the distance. The rain grew louder, the thunder grew closer. Lightning flashed and hit the mirror. Beth gasped as she did not see a child but a decaying corpse. Tufts of hair had already begun falling out and the strands remaining where blonde. The air in the bedroom began to smell of dirt and some other, strange odor. Spoiled milk? No, that couldn’t be it. Rotten meat? Close, but not quite. She went over to the mirror to get a closer look. The image did not fade. The jaw was disconnected and the flesh had begun rotting away. Beth was frozen. Surely this was a dream. The left eye was faded and all but gone grey. Beth slowly moved her head and examine where the right eye should have been. Instead, a worm began to crawl out of an empty socket. She looked closer and noticed it was crawling through the tiny crack in the mirror. She ran and flipped on the light. Whoever was in the mirror was gone, along with the worm. She felt a faint breeze from behind, a flash of lightning, and the power went out; she was in total darkness.


And thus concludes my October series. A month of short stories and hopefully a couple scares as I experiment with horror. I had a blast writing the short stories and while it was not my typical genre, it was great practice. Next year will hopefully be a little more involved as I work on marketing my content and making it available to more individuals. I’m excited for Halloween and have been ramping up my horror intake all month for the Thirty-First. If you enjoyed this post, consider leaving a like, following if you’re new to the blog, and sharing among your friends. It’s been a great year for the blog and your support makes a huge difference. If you want to support me as a creator, I also have a Patreon and Ko-Fi page:

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Thanks for reading and have a spooky rest of your October!