Monday, December 21, 2015

10 Wrong Ways to Write the Introduction to Your Kindle Book

A poorly planned and written introduction will drive potential readers away. These are the 10 ways you can scare off readers with just your introduction.

1. “Thank-you for Buying This Book”

Someone, somewhere along the way, told Kindle writers to begin their introductions with “Thank-you for buying this book.” Please don’t do it. I read at least a dozen Kindle books a week and over half of the non-fiction books thank me for buying their book. It’s redundant and just silly to say.

2. Making It Too Long

An introduction is just that: an intro. Keep introductions short and to the point.

3. Talking Too Much About Yourself

Sometimes I am so crabby that I just don’t care to read about your personal life story. Keep your personal story down to one to two paragraphs.

4. TMI

Please don’t get too personal. There is such a thing as “too much information”.

5. No Hook

The first thing your readers see when they open your book or Kindle book is the introduction. This is your first chance to grab hold of the reader and pull her or him into the rest of your book. Without a hook, the reader has no reason to continue on.

6. No Benefits

Include benefits in your introduction. Draw the reader past that first sentence with a hook and tell her or him what benefits they will get if they continue to read your book.

7. Make a Bad First Impression

Put your best foot. Avoid using multiple curse words in your introduction. While I don’t mind a few curse words, too many are just too much. Don’t sound trite or angry at the world, unless that is the theme of your book (Trite Angry Twats United).

8. Spelling Errors

Edit your book at least 3 times. Edit your introduction even more. Spelling and grammatical errors in the introduction speak of the quality of the rest of the book. When I see multiple errors in the introduction, I return the book immediately. I know it’s not getting any better than the introduction.

9. Write Your Introduction First

Save writing your introductions for last, after you have finished writing your book. I do the same with my blog posts because I really don’t know everything I will be covering in the rest of the post until after I write it.

10. “Keep Reading for My Super Duper Secret Method”

Out with it. Telling me to keep reading to learn the secret anything just ticks me off. I don’t want the hype and neither do other readers. Tell me what your method is and, if it sounds interesting, I’ll keep reading to learn more about it.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

10 Writing Habits That Will Make You More Productive

As writers, we all want to be more productive. We know that if we can write enough words in a day we can earn more money. This is especially true for those of us who write articles for a living and for those who are just getting started out in writing.

So, how do we become more productive and make the best use of our time? We develop good writing habits and we force ourselves, either through determination or desperation, to make these new habits a part of our every day lives.

1. Create a Writing Schedule

A writing schedule is essential to success. It doesn’t matter if you are a morning writer, an afternoon writer, or a night owl. While many people report that they are able to get most of their writing done in the morning, you have to find a schedule that works best for you.

Spend time testing out different times to write if you are unsure when you are most creative. When you find or decide what works best for you, give yourself a writing schedule that includes the hour you start, the time you finish, and break times for refueling.

2. Get Organized and Stay Organized

After you have written down your writing schedule and posted it someplace where you and your family members can readily see it, it is time to get organized. First, organize your work area. Remove the soda cans, water bottles, wrappers, and dirty dishes (you know who you are). Straighten up any papers on your desk and put the books on a bookshelf. When you are finished with your work area, tackle your computer. Get rid of any unnecessary junk files. If there are any time wasting games you get sucked into, either take the plunge and delete them now or make a solid rule for yourself that you can’t play unless all your work for the day is finished.

After everything is organized, plan on making it a daily routine. Each day, after you have finished all of your writing, tidy up before calling it quits. This way, each day when you sit down to write you can start off fresh and with everything in its place.

3. Sleep

I know you don’t need the lecture about getting enough sleep, but…

From my own personal experience, if I don’t get enough sleep at night, my writing sucks the next day and I guess less done. Studies also show, over and over again, that we need our sleep to be at our best. So, instead of worrying about wasting time on sleep, how about you worry about how much time will be wasted if you don’t get enough sleep.

4. Learn First Draft Writing

A common mistake among beginning writers is the desire to make the first draft perfect. They think that doing this saves them time, but the opposite is true. Learn how to write your first draft and let it be a glorious piece of shit. Write it at lightening speed without any edits or corrections. When you are done, move on to the next article and write it just as fast. When you are feeling well drained and fresh out of voice, it is time to go back over what you’ve written and begin the edits.

5. Relax Before You Write

Stress is the enemy of creativity and productivity. Don’t begin your writing session all stressed out. Instead, create a relaxing ritual for yourself. You can meditate or practice creative visualization before you begin writing. You could also make reading the morning newspaper and having a cup of coffee your relaxation ritual. Do one thing before you start writing each day that triggers your mind to relax and gear up for writing.

6. Keep a List of Ideas

There is no such thing as writers block if you always keep a list of book and article ideas. Keep a notebook and fill it with ideas. I prefer to keep lists of titles for myself. This way, each day I can pick out several article titles and I know I will write an article for each of those titles. For my longer, fictional books, I keep lists of possible titles and a sentence below each title about the book. You will never, ever experience days of not knowing what to write when you start working on a list of book and title ideas.

7. Let Someone Else Do the Other Stuff

If you absolutely suck at or hate editing and proofreading, hire someone else to do it for you. If you feel you need to keep up with your social media accounts, pay someone else to make appropriate posts for you. Need to clean the house? Again, pay someone else to do it.

If hiring someone else to do things for you sounds like a waste of money, let me put it to you this way: How much do you make for 1 hour of writing? I make $45 to $100 an hour, depending on the project. If I give up an hour of my writing to do something else, I lose that money. On the other hand, if I pay someone else to do those other things for me I will still bring in, at minimum, $15 for that hour. Hire someone on to do some of your online work. If you find the perfect helper, contact them privately and work out a deal with them. In the end, you will free up more time for writing and still continue to bring in an income.

8. Set a Daily Goal

If you want to increase your productivity, you need to set a daily goal. This can be a word count goal, such as 4,000 words for your book, or it can be an article goal. You can’t increase your productivity if you don’t know what you are working towards.

Here is my goal list for today: recipe
-TheTalko article
-2k words in book
-blog post (the one you are reading right now)
-freelance article - optional (I have started giving myself optional slots for my articles because I freelance for a lot of sites and I get to choose whatever article I am in the mood to write)
-freelance article - optional

This list is a full day’s work, but it is realistic for me for today.

9. Have a Long Term Earnings Goal

I have become nearly pedantic about tracking my daily, weekly, and monthly earnings. What I have found is that the longer I do this, the harder I get myself to push towards higher earnings. I have set my targeted monthly earnings goal fairly high, but it is in a range that I am comfortable working towards. At the end of each month, I find that I am getting closer and closer to reaching my ultimate monthly goal. The goal can’t be reached on just write and pay jobs. Instead, I have created a number of passive incomes. As I work on these passive incomes, my earnings continue to grow. Keeping track of earnings and having a high, but realistic, goal in mind does wonders to motivate you to keep writing. Even if you are only increasing by a few pennies a day, those are pennies you did not have yesterday.

10. Write Anywhere, Any Which Way, All the Time

The single most important thing to do to increase your productivity is to eat, live, and sleep writing. Live in a constant state of writing. During your quiet moments or while taking a shower or bath, think up plot lines or think up new titles for articles. If you are outside walking or in the grocery store, pay attention to everything around you. There are book ideas and article ideas everywhere you go. Keep a notebook on you or in your purse and add thoughts and notes to it. Take your laptop with you during your daughter’s karate lessons or your son’s football games and write. To be a writer, you have to live like one and that means keeping your writing brain on at all times.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

7 Ways Writers Can Increase Their Energy Levels

It is not surprising that so many writers complain about having low energy levels. Day in and day out we sit at our computers, writing our books, articles, and blog posts, and we forget to do healthy things to raise our energy levels. Here is a list of seven things you can easily do to increase your energy and, as a bonus, improve your work.

1. The Cold Shower

Studies are showing that taking a cold shower in the morning is not only healthier than a hot shower, but it can also increase your mental alertness. Personally, when I give myself the option of either taking a cold shower or going straight to work, I will always choose to get to work. This body does not like cold showers.

2. Exercise

You won’t get the exercise lecture from me because you’ve heard it all before. I exercise all the time while I am writing and when I take my breaks. Some days I manage up to three hours of exercise altogether. It really does help boost energy levels.

3. Eat Healthy Foods

It is not difficult to switch from unhealthy snacks to healthy snacks. If you are too busy or are a terrible cook, start shopping in the health food stores and in the organic food section of the grocery store. There are plenty of healthy alternatives to regular boxed pizza and chicken nuggets. Snack on nuts, such as cashews, to increase your magnesium intake which may help boost your energy levels. Buy pre-cut fruits and vegetables, and check out the raw food diet. It requires absolutely no cooking skills to eat a raw carrot.

4. Walk the Block

If you’re feeling a tad bit sluggish, get your sneakers on and take a quick, brisk walk around the block. You will get some fresh air, increase the oxygen to your brain, and have time to think over your current writing project.

5. Sit By a Sunny Window

Move your work desk so that you get plenty of sun while you are working. If this isn’t possible, take 15 minute breaks to sit by a sunny window or sit outside.

6. Drink Water

Mild dehydration can cause a person to feel sluggish. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and add a squirt of lemon to it. Lemon scent is proven to improve a person’s mood, making it a popular scent in many housecleaning products.

7. Play Some Music

Listening to upbeat music with no vocals can help you increase your energy levels while not distracting you from writing.

Friday, December 18, 2015

10 Ways to Put Yourself in the Mood to Write

There will be days when you can’t sit down fast enough to begin writing and days where the last place you want to be is in your seat. Here are some great ways to put yourself in the mood to write any day, at any time.

1. Music

Set the mood for your novel with classical music. It doesn’t have to be the “boring” stuff people imagine when they hear the words “classical music.” I like to listen to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries makes my fingers fly on the keyboard.

2. Write a Limerick

Break the ice by writing a limerick. Make it raunchy, make it cute, or make it related to the book you are working on. Sometimes your brain just needs a little break from writing the same thing all the time. Change the work up a bit by writing a limerick or even a haiku. Get your brain churning.

3. Decorate

Never be afraid to decorate your work area to set the mood for writing. If you write romance novels, create an area of romance around your desk or display items from the time period you’ve chosen for your novel. Horror novel? Break out the Halloween decorations. Do what you need to do to set yourself in the mood to write your book.

4. Change Location

Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery. If you find yourself dragging your feet to your workspace, consider finding another place to write, even if it is just for the day. Do your writing in an internet cafe or any restaurant that provides free wifi. You can take your laptop to the park or go old style and sit on a park bench with a pen and paper tablet.

5. Light Candles

Burn some midnight oil and light a candle or two to set the mood for just about any genre. Buy aromatherapy candles and get more inspirational bang for your buck.

6. Create a Pre-Writing Ritual

Many famous authors use pre-writing rituals to prepare themselves for writing. The pre-writing ritual can be just about anything, from quickly organizing your desk to taking a shot or two of your favorite booze and pacing around a room.

7. Exercise

Exercise is a great way to put yourself in the mood to write, although, to be honest, sometimes when I give myself the choice to either exercise or start writing, I will choose writing. My brain sees writing as the lesser punishment.

8. Burn Incense

Smells can trigger our brains to feel a wide range of different emotions. Different floral scents can trigger the feelings of spring or summer, and this will reflect in your writing. Explore different scents and see how each affects your mood and your productivity.

9. Bribe Yourself

I just need to type in 250 words and then I can have 1 Skittle. Another 250 words, and I get another Skittle. Little acts of bribery work great if you can bribe yourself with little things that you want. As long as there are red, purple, or orange Skittles in the bag, I can keep chugging out those 250 words.

10. Allow Yourself to Do Nothing Else

Force yourself to be in the mood to write. Sit in your chair and don’t allow yourself to do anything else unless it involves writing. Eventually your mind will consent to writing over doing nothing.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

10 Ways to Get in More Reading

Writers not only love to read, they are also encouraged to get in as much reading as possible during the day. Here are 10 ways you can increase the amount of reading you get done.

1. Keep a Book on You

Always keep a book on you. Keep a paperback in your backpack or purse. Keep a book in the car. Take a book along with your for every appointment. You never know when a free moment will happen.

2. Book It in the Bathroom

Keep a book or a magazine in the bathroom. Have a long, quiet sit and read a chapter or two. If you are worried about interruptions, rub your belly before going into the bathroom and tell your spouse or kids that it must have been something you ate. Odds are, they won’t go near the bathroom door.

3. Audio Books

Listen to audio books in the car. Catch up on the classics or listen to the latest popular books.

4. eBooks

Buy ebooks for your smartphone. Get some reading done while on the go or while you are sitting through a boring office meeting.

5. Read Before Bed

Make reading before going to sleep a part of your nightly ritual. Go to bed an hour earlier than normal and read a chapter or two before turning off the light. If you have a partner in bed with you, buy a book light so that your reading doesn’t disturb her or him.

6. Stick with Interests

Read only books that interest you. You are more likely to be motivated to read a book if it sounds exciting to you. Don’t worry about what everyone else is reading.

7. Weekly Library Visits

Visit local libraries on a weekly basis to see what new books they have. Browse through their inventory and find treasures.

8. Join a Book Reading Club

Join a book reading club that is tailored towards your interests. If you can’t find a book club that reads your favorite genre, then start your own book club. Make friends with other readers.

9. Learn Speed Reading

Learn how to speed read. Also, skip over paragraphs of pages in a book that don’t interest you. If an author is dragging on about a scenery description, skim through the section until you are back onto the plot.

10. Stop Reading What You Don’t Like

You don’t have to finish reading a book your don’t like. I get hundreds of hand-me-down books every year and I donate most of these books to the library because they didn’t catch my interest within the first chapter. There is no written law that says you must finish a book you’ve started. If you don’t like the book, donate it and start on the next book.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

7 Tricks to Stop Procrastination

Writers suffer from the same things as everyone else: self doubt, deliberate stalling, excuses, and overall procrastination. Here are a few tricks to help writers, and others, overcome procrastination and get back to work.

1. Create a Daily To-Do List

Each night, before you go to bed, write out a to-do list for the next day. Write the most important things you must do first. Include everything else after the most important items. In the morning, read through your list and tackle each task on the list, from most important to least important.

2. Make a Time Schedule

Create a schedule for each day and give yourself so much time to complete each task on your to-do list. Keep your schedule realistic and give yourself plenty of time to complete each task. For example, I can easily write a 500 to 1,000 word blog post in well under an hour. On my schedule, I give myself a full hour to complete the task because of the possibility of interruptions or I might get stumped and have to do extra research. If I do finish before that hour is up, I call it free time and you’ll probably find me folding laundry just to get away from the computer.

3. System of Rewards

Offer yourself a little reward for each task you accomplish or whenever you reach a certain word count. For example, if one of the things you need to do is niche research, offer yourself a piece of chocolate or let yourself play a quick game of solitaire on the computer as soon as you are finished with the task.

4. One Thing at a Time

Focus on doing one thing at a time. Avoid multitasking. Studies have shown that you will accomplish more tasks if you work on one item at a time, from start to completion.

5. Break It Down

When a project feels overwhelming, break it down into smaller tasks and tackle each task, one step at a time. For example, if you want to write a novel, break the tasks involved down into research, outline, rough draft, second draft, etc. You can break the rough draft down even further into time allotments, such as 2 hours of writing each day, or into word counts, such as 4,000 words a day.

6. Give It 5 Minutes

On those days where you just can’t seem to break out of the rut, force yourself to do the task for 5 minutes and tell yourself that after 5 minutes, you can do whatever you want for the next 20 minutes. Sometimes you will find yourself able to work past those 5 minutes and continue writing for a much longer time. Other times, it will take a few sets of 5 minute works to get your creative motor going.

7. Read Motivational Books

Get motivated by reading self-help books, watching motivational videos on YouTube, and reading motivational quotes. I like to post a daily motivational quote each day in my work area. Whenever I feel like stopping or giving up, I’ll look up and reread the quote to get myself motivated to get back to work.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

10 Tips on How to Write a Successful Book

What does it take to write a successful book? Besides a lot of determination, here are nine other things you need to do before you finally write a book that earns you some serious cash.

1. You Cannot Be Afraid of Hard Work

Writing a book takes a lot of work, but writing a successful book requires more than just work. It requires dedication, determination, and you will work harder than you ever have before. Expect to spend many hours, not only writing your book, but perfecting it. Expect numerous rewrites and edits. Plan to write every day, no exceptions.

2. Study Best Sellers

Don’t just read other successful books in your genre, study them, too. Choose a book you have already read and enjoyed and reread it. Take notes on the plot and how the author introduces the characters. Study how the plot builds and make notes on the subplots. There is a lot to be learned by simply reading a book and plotting it out.

3. Know Your Audience

When you are busy studying other best sellers in your genre, you will also discover what the readers want in a book. Learn what excites your audience and why they buy the books in your genre.

4. Prepare for Rewrites

Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, prepare yourself for a lot of rewrites. Polish your manuscript before you show it to anyone. Go back and add more description to your scenes and eliminate wordiness. Delete entire chapters, condense sections, and write new ones.

5. Always Have Pen and Paper

Always keep pen and paper on you. At any given moment you may come up with a plot twist or a character idea for your book. You need to write down your thoughts and ideas right away because you will more than likely forget them if you don’t get them down on paper.

6. Focus

When you make the decision to write a book, you are making the decision to focus on the project 24 hours, 7 days a week. When you are at your day job, you will be thinking on your plot. You will dream about your book. For those hours that you dedicate to writing, you will be putting all your thoughts and daydreams onto paper or the screen. Book writing requires more focus than the care of a newborn baby, because books and your creativity never take naps.

7. Plot, Plot, Plot

I don’t care if you like writing out plots before writing a book or not. The simple fact is that you need to understand what a plot is and how to develop it. Read up on plotting techniques and gain a full understanding of the different types of plots. Putz around with Plotto for a day and explore the 3 act plot. Learn how to build upon a basic plot skeleton and apply your knowledge to your writing.

8. Give Yourself Deadlines

As writers, we are our own boss. This means that we have to set a schedule and set deadlines so that things get done. Learn to give yourself realistic deadlines and, while you are at it, set daily writing goals for yourself so that you know you can meet the deadlines.

9. Write the Unwritable

Dare yourself to write about things that other people won’t write. This is true in both fiction and non-fiction. In fiction, dare to express the rawest emotions, the most primal fears, and the kind of love that makes your head swoon. In non-fiction, explore topics that other writers neglect, whether the topics are neglected because they are too simple, too complicated, too gross, or too shocking. Take your readers to new heights, new depths, and open their eyes to the world(s) around them.

Monday, December 14, 2015

10 Things You Need to Do to Become a Productive Writer

When you finally make the decision that you want to write for a living, you have to make changes to your daily schedule and the way you work. Creating a proper work environment and a schedule are two of the most important things any writer can do to increase her or his productivity. The rest is just common sense.

1. Designate a Workspace

Sure, you can spend time writing anywhere you like, such as on your bed, on a comfy chair in the sunroom, or at a local cafe. However, you should always have a home base for your writing.

You don’t have to have a private office. In fact, many people just don’t have the extra space in their homes for an office. What you need to do is find a place within your home or apartment where you can set up a desk and a work space. For me, that is my living room. I have a toddler that needs care and supervision, and having my work space in the family area allows me to care for her and watch over her while she plays and I write.

Bedrooms are also fine for creating a work area, and many people create a personal office in the corner of their bedrooms. If you can set up a bookcase by your work area, all the better, but the important things is that you have a desk and chair set up for you to work at.

2. Set a Writing Schedule

The second most important thing all successful and productive writers do is create a writing schedule. If you must, write out the schedule and post it somewhere that it can be seen. Treat your writing like a regular job. Show up on time and work some overtime when you can.

Make sure other people understand that you have a writing schedule that you must keep to. That means no surprise visits and tell people not to call you unless it is an emergency.

3. Remove Distractions

Distractions are a writer’s worst enemy. There’s social media crap, cell phone bleeps, and the holy internet.

Before you begin working, make sure that there will be no temptation to check your Facebook feed, Twitter blips, cell phone messages, and other annoyances. Disconnect from the internet and only turn it back on if you need to quickly look something up related to your work. Set your cell phone across the room or, if there is no possibility of an emergency call, turn it off. You don’t need it while you are working.

4. Focus on One Project at a Time

I used to have this problem: I would try and write multiple articles at once. Now I split my schedule so that for the first few hours of my shift I am working on my book and the last few hours of my shift, I am working on articles (one article at a time).

Finish the article you’ve started before you begin a new one. If you get an idea for another article while you are working, simply jot the idea down and return to what you are working on. Never allow yourself to work on more than one article at a time.

5. Read as Much as You Write

You need input to have output, and reading stimulates the mind, increases your creativity, and can give you an endless supply of book and article ideas. While I am not suggesting that if you spend 8 hours writing, you should spend 8 hours reading (although that would be a dream schedule for me). Instead, think of word counts. If you write 2,000 words a day then read at least that much in a book. On average, I read about 2 hours a day, but I usually write about 4,000 words a day. It’s an endless cycle of feeding my brain and spewing it all back out again.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

10 Things You Need to do Before You Write Children's Books

1. Interact with kids. If you have kids of your own, this is easy. You can also borrow your relatives' kids for the day. Talk with kids (with their parent's permission, of course) and ask them about their day, what they like to do, what they think of school, etc.

2. Remember the bullies from your school days. Schools are filled with bullies. Remember the ones you knew. Create character profiles of them, their traits, and make a list of things they would do and say.

3. Read as many children's books as possible. For parents, this is easy. Just read as many books as your kids will sit through. If you don't have kids, go to the library and talk to the librarian. Tell her that you want to write children's books, but you first need to study some of the popular books. Have her show you what kids are reading these days.

4. Keep a journal. Write about your memories from your childhood and key events that affected you. Write about your children's activities, things they did or are doing, the cute things they say, and write about the things that bother them, such as so-and-so not sharing.

5. Ignore the naysayers. There are plenty of mean people in the world that love to tear down other people's dreams. Avoid these people as much as possible.

6. Remember your childhood best friends. Create character profiles of each one. Write about what made them a good friend.

7. Observe the dialogue between children. Just kick back and listen to how they interact and how they speak to each other. Write down snippets of their conversations.

8. Study how to plot. Yes, even children's books are written from a plot outline. Take a few favorite children's books, such as something from The Magic Tree House or The Time Warp Trio, read through them and outline the plot. Learn about the 3 part act.

9. Begin writing down ideas. By this point, you might already have several plot ideas floating around in your head. Write them down so you don't forget them. Keep a list of ideas so that you will never suffer from writer's block.

10. Prepare to write. Create a work area for yourself. Create a schedule. Give yourself deadlines.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

10 Reasons Why Writers Are So Attractive

Harlan Ellison has a brain that can’t be matched, and a mouth that’s just as quick. Neil Gaiman is a dream. J. K. Rowling is a writer I would just love to spend a bit of time with. And no one can match Robert A. Heinlein’s power of observation.

All writers have at least two of the ten unique traits that make them so attractive to others.

1. Mysterious

Writers have an aura about them. There’s always something there that they aren’t telling us about. They are fascinating people that can be easily misunderstood by the masses.

2. Creative

Writers, by their very nature, are creative people. They can take a tiny grain of thought and churn it into an immaculate concept. They express their creativity, not only in writing, but in their day to day lives.

3. A Bit Touched

Writers can be odd, weird, or just a bit touched. They can express themselves in many ways, from unusual outbursts to strange daily rituals. They make life interesting.

4. Good Listeners

Writers are great listeners by trade. They are always exploring new ideas and new perspectives. People fascinate them to no end and writers will listen to them and explore what they have to say.

5. They Dream

Writers spend a lot of time mucking around inside their own heads. They are dreamers, always picking at things to explore and write about. When you become close to a writer, he will let you into his world and share some of his magic.

6. Easy to Be Around

Writers are often very friendly people. They may seem quiet or aloof, but after you get to know one you will find her to be very easy to be around.

7. Intellectually Stimulating

Writers make other people think. They discuss ideas and explore different angles. They enjoy playing the role of devil’s advocate. Their conversations are meaningful and they enjoy sharing their thoughts with others.

8. Observant

Writers own the power of observation. They make mental notes of all the things they see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. They are people watchers. They observe society’s ebbs and flows. Nothing gets by them.

9. Inwardly Motivated

Writers are motivated by their innermost thoughts and feelings. They don’t need a cheerleader to get them moving. When you want to motivate a writer to do something, appeal to her emotional side and her passions.

10. Immortal

All writers have an air of immortality about them, and their writing can make other people immortal, as well. Unlike vampires that thrive on the life force of others, writers pour out their life force into their writing and send it out into the world where it will dwell forevermore.

Friday, December 11, 2015

10 Easy Steps to Turn Your List Into a Kindle Book

Have you ever written a list post? Did you know that you can turn those lists into larger, popular books? Here is how you can turn your list of ideas into a Kindle book.

1. Choose a Topic

The first step to writing a book is deciding what you are going to write about. Choose a topic that not only interests you, but will interest your readers. Make a list of your personal interests and subjects that you already know a lot about. Next, sign up for a free Google AdWords account and visit the tools section. Using the Keyword Planner, you can type in each of your interests and find out what is popular and get more keywords to use in your book title. For example, if one of your interests includes UFO sightings, type “UFO sightings” into the new keyword and ad group ideas section. Click “Get Ideas” and you will get a list of what people are searching for. A popular search term under UFO sightings is for sightings 2014. For our make believe book, we are going to right about the hottest UFO sightings in 2014.

2. Write a List

After you have chosen your topic, it is time to make a list of all things you will be including in your book. For our book on the hottest UFO sightings in 2014, we are going to break our list into states. Open a new document and, at the top of the page, type in our current title of Hottest UFO Sightings in 2014. Our goal is to find one great UFO sighting for each state in 2014, so we change our title to 50 Hottest UFO Sightings in 2014 and make a list of the names of each state in the U.S. After our list is complete, it is time to move onto the next step: research.

3. Research

To find the latest information about our subject, we are going to use the internet. As we search and scour the internet for the latest UFO sightings for each state, we will be adding our notes to our list of states. At this point, we are not worried about duplicate notes or organizing our research. Our main focus is to find the most exciting UFO sightings that happened in 2014 for each state.

During the research phase, we will also be contacting people about sightings. We might interview some specialists and we may be able to get in touch with the eyewitnesses. We will takes notes of everything and document our interviews. Add as much information as possible under each state about all the interesting UFO sightings.

4. Outline

By the time we are finished with our research, we will have the makings of a rudimentary outline. All of our research notes and interviews should have been added to the list.

It is time to get organized. Focusing on one state at a time, we read through all the research we’ve have gathered. We’ll decide on what information to keep and what to delete. We’ll cut and paste our notes into sections. Make notes chronological and decide on the best place to put the interview. Any personal thoughts and conclusions should appear at the end of the entry.

The reason why we did your research first and are now organizing our notes is because it makes the process of writing our book easy. By the time we are finished with our outline, we will be playing connect the dots with our notes and turning them into full sentences and paragraphs.

5. First Draft

We have followed through with the research and the outlining. Writing will be the easiest part. We begin by focusing on each section of the book. We’ll skip the introduction and the conclusion, for now.

As we are writing our book, we may discover that we’ve missed a few facts in our notes. Since this is our first draft, we are not worried about perfection and, instead of stopping our writing flow, we will instead mark those missing facts with dashes (------) and come back to them later on when we are editing.

6. Introduction

When we are finished with the body of our book, it is time to write the introduction. The introduction to our book should begin with a hook sentence. A hook sentence is a sentence that is interesting or intriguing. It draws the reader in. After the hook sentence, we will tell the reader why he wants to read our book. We will also list any benefits the reader will get from the book and include a short paragraph on why we wrote the book.

7. Conclusion

After we have written our introduction, the conclusion chapter will be easy. This chapter will sum up what the reader has read. It will tie together all the issues the book raised. It can also include information on how the research will impact future studies, beliefs, or habits.

8. Edit

Holy cow, we made it! We’ve turned our list into a book. Now it is time to go back over our book and begin the editing process.

A popular method used to edit books is to begin reading our book out loud in a funny accent. This will force us to pay attention to what we are reading and it will help us pick up any mistakes.

Correct all spelling mistakes and typos. Smooth out any awkward sentencing. When we reach the dashes we put in for missing information, we’ll take the time to look up the facts and add them in.

After finishing the first edit, it is time to take a break. For the next day or two, we’ll work on something else so that we can return to our book with fresh eyes.

9. Final Proof

It is time to go over our book with a fine-toothed comb. Kick back, relax, and start reading out loud again. Make corrections.

We’ll also have our computer read the book to us. This feature is available on both Macs and PCs.

If it’s possible, we’ll ask someone else to take a look at our book. Print the book off and give them a red marker. Ask them to mark up the pages whenever they spot a mistake or if they feel that there is a problem with the wording.

We will also want to take a final look at our book’s title. Does the title accurately reflect the content of our book? Does it have good keywords? After giving our title some thought, we decide that we will change our book’s title to 50 Unbelievable UFO Sighting in the United States: 2014 Edition.

10. Cover Design

When it comes to cover design, we have two options: we can make our own cover or we can hire someone else to make the cover for us.

If we decide to make our own book cover, our first step is to study other book covers in our genre. We observe what background colors are popular, the fonts and font sizes, and how images are arranged on the covers. We will also note how covers with white backgrounds also have a border around the edges so that the book stands out against’s white background.

A lot of work goes into creating a book cover, so we can decide to purchase a cover for our book. One of the most popular places to get an inexpensive book cover is on For $5, we have someone else deal with the hassle of sizing and coordinating the text and imagery on a cover.

Final Wrap-up

After all this work, there is still more to do. We have to layout our book in MS Word and upload it to Kindle. When our book goes live, our next step is to market our book and begin work on our next book.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

10 Days to Write a Short Book Part-time

To write a book in ten days part-time, begin day one when you have off from regular work and can sink 5 or more hours into getting your book set up so that you can spend the remaining days writing your short book on a part-time schedule.

Day 1

Begin searching for a topic to write about. First, start with a list of your skills and interests. Research the keywords you used to find possible titles for your book. Create a list of several titles and check out the titles on to see if there is another book with the same title. If there is, tweak the title until you have an original title. This should take you no more than an hour.

Research. After you’ve decided on what your book is going to be about and you have chosen the book’s title, it is time to do research.

One method for doing this is to check out the table of contents of similar books and start planning out your own chapters and subsections. After you’ve broken your book down into chapters and subsections, hit the books and the internet to fill out your book with facts.

The second method is to dive right into the research, typing in and cutting and pasting information into your outline. When you are finished, begin organizing your notes into chapters and sections, naming them along the way.

Research should take no more than 4 hours.

Day 2

Goal: Write 500 -1,000 words.

Your research is complete and your book should be organized into chapters.

Do not write the introduction. Instead, save writing the introduction and the conclusion until after the meat of your book is written.

Start writing the first chapter or begin with any section you most want to write.

Day 3

Goal: Write 500 -1,000 words.

Day 4

Goal: Write 500 -1,000 words.

Day 5

Goal: Write 500 -1,000 words.

Day 6

Goal: Write 500 -1,000 words.

Day 7

Goal: Write 500 -1,000 words.

Day 8

Goal: Write 500 -1,000 words.

Day 9

Goal: Write brief introduction and conclusion.

Keep both the introduction and the conclusion short.

Day 10


Word Count

Following this 10 day writing formula, your book will be from 3,500 to 7,000 words long - just the right length for a short book.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

8 Common Mistakes Short Non-fiction Book Writers Make

Reading four non-fiction Kindle books a day is common for me. A lot of these books are absolutely great, but then there are the duds. Here is a list of eight common mistakes made by writers of short non-fiction Kindle books.

1. Assuming the Reader Already Knows

One of the biggest mistakes short book writers make is assuming that the reader already knows what they are talking about. For example, let’s say that I know nothing about how to change a car tire (I don’t) so I buy a short book on how to change my car tires. I am excited because this book seems like it is going to teach me about this subject and walk me through it step by step, but when I start to read the book I find myself lost because the writer mentions tools and car parts that I don’t know unless I see a picture of it. Never make the assumption that the reader knows technical jargon. Give definitions and, if possible, provide illustrations or photos to clarify things.

2. Talking Too Much About Yourself

This happens all too often with short books. The author needs filler to justify the cost of his book, so he writes about himself and tells personal stories that are not even remotely related to the subject of the book. If you are going to talk about yourself in your short book, keep it brief and relevant. In one to two paragraphs, tell your readers why you are qualified to write this book. Give a few, short anecdotal stories throughout the book, if they are relevant. Mostly, stick to the facts and stay focused on your book’s topic.

3. Too Many Links

Open up some Kindle short books and your eyes get assaulted by all of the links: go here to download this, read more about that here, check out my blog post on such and such, etc. I am a firm believer that you should only put your link in the front of your book and at the end of your book. Too many links in the actual text of your book looks spammy and you will quickly lose your readers’ trust. If you want to recommend further reading links, do so at the end of your book in the “Recommended Reading” section you can add.

4. Not Scheduling in Breaks

Yes, if you are a nut you can actually try to write a book a day for an entire month. Take my word for it, you will burn out long before that month is through. How do you recover from writer’s burnout? By taking off many, many days, weeks, or even months. Play it safe. Take a day or two off between writing books and avoid the burnout.

5. Skipping the Editing Process

Edit. Edit. Edit. Just because the book is short does not mean you should edit it at least once. Even better, hire an editor or proofreader. Since your book is a short one, you will not pay as much for editing services as you would a full length book.

6. Listening to Naysayers

Never pay attention to the poo-poo heads that nay everything you say. People who doubt the power of short books never tested them out or never managed to find the right, profitable niche for their short books. In fact, only recently I was a negative Nelly when it came to short books, but after testing them out and comparing the sales, I know that short books sell well and can bring in a good amount of money.

7. Not Researching Your Audience

When I set out to test short books (books that have a word count of 2,500 to 5,000 words), one of my first steps was to get to know my audience. I checked out their favorite magazines, forums, and checked on Amazon to see what their favorite books were. This resulted in some really great sales. Research your audience, learn their vocabulary, and find out what they want to learn before you ever start writing your book.

8. Sticking to Trends

Trends come and go, and while writing a short book on a trend topic can bring in a lot of cash in a short amount of time, the book will quickly lose its selling power and will finally die a quiet death. Instead, work across numerous topics, including trending and long-standing popular topics. You want a list of books that will have high selling power, steady (evergreen) selling power, and even seasonal selling power.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

9 Reasons Why Writing Nonfiction is Easy for Beginners

Don’t know if you should start out writing fiction or nonfiction? Here are 9 reasons why many people begin their Kindle writing careers writing nonfiction books.

1. You Can Write What You Know

When you are deciding on what to write about for your first book, always stick with what you know. Even if it doesn’t contain high ranking keywords, write about it. It is the perfect first-hand experience for new writers and an easy goal to accomplish.

2. Research is Easy

I could spend weeks just diving into research. Realistically, I have to cut the amount of time for research down to less than a week if I want to stay on schedule. Researching your next book idea is enjoyable, relaxing, and educational.

3. Works with Outlines

If you have never done an outline before, now is the time to learn. While you are researching your book topic, you will also be adding notes to your book’s outline. By the time you are finished with your research, the bulk of your book will already be written.

4. Endless Amount of Topics

You can write a nonfiction book about everything and anything.

5. Easy to Break Down into Niches

When writing Kindle nonfiction books, you will be able to break your main topic down into a smaller niche. You won’t be focusing on covering everything known to man about your topic. Instead, you will be focusing on just one small aspect. For example, instead of writing a book about knitting, you will be writing a Kindle book about knitting scarves.

6. Perfect Excuse to Learn New Things

Do you love to learn new things? Nonfiction gives you permission to explore new places, new crafts, and new techniques. Suddenly, you are not wasting your time, but are doing extensive research into the next book your are going to write.

7. Usually Pays Better than Fiction

When it comes to unknown writers, it is easier to break into the nonfiction field than it is to break into the fiction field. You will earn more money in the beginning as a nonfiction writer.

8. Often Quicker to Write

If you use outlining to plan your book and fill it in with your research, writing the actual book becomes super easy. It’s almost a game of connect-the-dots, but instead you are connecting the facts and tossing in a few personal perspectives and ideas.

9. There are Templates You Can Use

There are formulas and templates for writing nonfiction available online for free. You can easily cut and paste these templates into Word, rename the chapters and subheadings, and begin organizing your research into each section.

Monday, December 7, 2015

9 People Watching Tips and Techniques for Writers

People watching is a great way to get inspiration for your next book and learn how to create realistic characters. Here are nine tips to perfecting your people watching skills.

1. Dress “Normal”

When you head out to go a’watching, don’t dress in anything that will make you stand out from the crowd. Dress low key and “normal.”

2. Go Where the People Are

Restaurants and cafes are great for people watching. Malls are okay if you can find a place to sit where groups of people congregate. Anyplace where people may be stationary for any length of time is great. Avoid situations where you would have to follow people in order to hear their conversation.

3. Find a Comfortable Place to Sit

Following people will creep them out and may cause them to react negatively towards you. Instead, go someplace where you can sit and listen to conversations. Make it a comfortable spot, such as a park bench or a blanket on the beach, where people often go to sit and relax.

4. Wear Sunglasses

When people watching outdoors, wear sunglasses so that you can watch people without them knowing you are watching. Outdoor cafes are also great for wearing sunglasses and watching.

6. Hold a Magazine or Newspaper

People watching on the bus or subway can be lots of fun, but one of the tricks of the trade is to pretend you are doing something else. The people around you will feel more comfortable if they think you are busy and aren’t paying any attention to them.

7. Write Out Conversations

Take a pen and notebook along with you or use your cell phone to write out snippets of conversation you overhear. Sometimes these conversations you jot down can be used to open up the story of your next book or, even better, inspire a whole new book idea.

8. Write Character Descriptions

Write character descriptions of the people you are watching. Describe their dress and their mannerisms.

9. If You Get Caught

When getting caught people watching, I find that the truth is often the best explanation. If someone approaches you, asking what you are doing, you can reply, “Hey, I’ve got an idea for a book to write and I’m just out here brainstorming a bit. Looking for inspirations, and such.” Or you can tell them that you are doing character research for a book. Truth often works best.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

8 Ways Writers Can Beat Procrastination

Do you find yourself putting off writing your book or blog posts? Maybe you’ll work on it tomorrow, this weekend, or next month, and maybe you’ll never get to it because you are procrastinating. Here are eight ways you can beat procrastination and finally begin working on your writing.

1. Why Are You Procrastinating?

Try and get to the root of the problem. Many people put things off simply because they are scared of doing it. It can be a fear of failure or even a fear of success. Explore your fears. Make a plan to face each one and move on towards success.

2. Create a Schedule

Plan out your days and schedule in the times you will be writing. Don’t forget to schedule in breaks and free time to catch up on other things.

3. Change Your Approach

You want to write a book, but you are dreading the time it takes to write a book. You need to change your perspective and look at writing, not as a loathsome chore, but as part of your job. Find ways to make your job more enjoyable by playing some music or having some enjoyable snacks nearby. Learn to enjoy and look forward to the alone time.

4. Create a To-Do List

Break writing a book down into smaller tasks and, each day, add one of these tasks to your to-do list. For example, a writing task can be “write 2,000 words today”.

5. Set Realistic Goals

Set realistic goals and tasks for yourself. Don’t add on your to-do list “write 5,000 words” if you have never done 5,000 words in a day. Instead, aim for what you know you are capable of doing.

By setting unrealistic goals, you are setting yourself up for failure. After you fail a few times, you become discouraged and you begin to associate writing with these bad feelings.

6. Create an Inspiring Workspace

If your workspace isn’t inspiring, you won’t feel inspired. Create a workspace in an area where you can get plenty of natural light. If that’s not possible, add proper lighting to keep yourself awake and alert. While you want your main work area uncluttered, you should add a few inspiring items into your workspace.

7. Be Positive

Think positive thoughts. Avoid putting yourself down over perceived failures. If you find that you aren’t able to complete a writing task in one day, cut the task in half and plan on doing only what you are capable of doing. Failure isn’t a negative. It is part of the learning experience. Adapt until you find a method that helps you succeed.

8. Reward Yourself

Give yourself a reward for every little success. For myself, I give myself the reward of watching an episode of one of my favorite shows at the end of the day, after I have completed the day’s writing goals. For larger accomplishments, like finishing a book, I might take the next day off to do something I enjoy, such as visit a local historic sight.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

8 Tricks to Motivate Yourself to Write More

1. Just 5 Minutes

This is one of my favorite tricks to get myself out of a lazy funk and back into writing. Tell yourself that all you have to do is write for 5 minutes and, when you are done, you can do something else. What usually happens is you get yourself started and you don’t want to stop writing. You will continue to write until you actually do need a break.

If this trick doesn’t work the first time, then allow yourself to get up and do something else for another 10 minutes. Plant your butt back in the chair and force another 5 minutes out of yourself. It’s like a match that doesn’t catch light on the first strike. Strike it again and again until it’s burning bright.

2. Brief Burst of Exercise

Taking walks are my thing, but I also like to bounce like a nut on my exercise ball. Both activities help release tension and let my mind wander off.

A brief burst of exercise will get you pumped up, or psyched, to sit down and begin your day’s work. Also, if you ever find yourself stuck on a sentence or plot, stop and exercise for a few minutes. It helps joggle the brain for fresh ideas.

3. For Your Eyes Only

Some writers suffer from insecurities or are just too “bashful” to write what they really want to say. Tell yourself that no one else will read what you are writing. If that fails, give yourself permission to use a pen name. I write a lot of books and articles under pen names. It’s a freeing experience.

4. Set the Mood

Set the mood for your writing. Put on some classical music, light some candles, and burn some incense. Setting the mood for your novel gives a burst to your creativity and helps you create scenes, not only in your mind, but in your surroundings.

5. Break It Down Into Tiny Steps

Another great way to get yourself motivated to write is to break the writing process down into steps. Create a list of all the steps you need to take to write your book. Don’t know what those steps are? The internet is full of blogs and articles about the steps of writing nonfiction and fiction. Print off a list of steps and use it as a checklist. Get the momentum going.

6. Offer Yourself a Reward

If I write 2,000 words today, I will allow myself to watch an episode of Rosemary and Thyme.

Offering a reward is a great way to motivate yourself to get your writing done. It can be chocolate, a piece of cake, a bowl of popcorn smothered in butter, or whatever gives you a little thrill.

Avoid offering yourself punishments. Never associate writing with a negative experience or you will lose all hope in getting motivated. Simply offer yourself a reward upon completion.

7. Put on Your Thinking Cap, For Real

This used to be one of my favorite tricks to put myself in the mood for writing. Over a decade ago (actually, closer to 2 decades ago), in the early years of the internet, I ran the second largest Pagan website online. One of my tricks to get myself writing as much content as I did was to put on my witch hat. Each time I put it on, it triggered my mind into knowing that now was the time to write.

There are other little things you can do to mark the start of writing, such as putting on a writing sweater or putting on a favorite piece of music. Make it a ritual and, in a short amount of time, your mind will associate that object or action with writing.

8. Pretend You are One of Your Favorite Authors

I wrote a short horror story a few years ago and the entire time I pretended I was Edgar Allen Poe. It was a great experience and one that I’ve enjoyed repeating when I was stumped on what to write about.

It doesn’t matter if you are pretending to be Jackie Collins or William Shakespeare. The entire point of this exercise it to get your brain thinking like a successful author and behaving like a successful author.

Friday, December 4, 2015

How to Increase Your Daily Word Count in 8 Easy Steps

Writers are forever looking for ways to increase their daily word count. This is nothing new. Writers are often paid by their word count. The higher their daily word count, the higher their income.

Step 1 - Prepare the Night Before

The first step to increasing your daily word count is to plan ahead. The evening or night before you plan on writing, prepare your work area and your notes. Make the arrangements necessary to remove any possible distractions you might have while you are writing.

Step 2 - Start Earlier

Begin your writing time as early in the morning as possible. Many writers, including lifelong night owls, have reported a higher word count when they adapted to writing on a morning and early afternoon schedule.

Step 3 - Healthy Snacks

Buy healthier things to snack on and increase your energy levels by doing so.

Step 4 - Relax

When you sit down to write, relax. Do your breathing exercises. Let the words flow out of you. Don’t worry about what you are writing, whether it is good enough or perfect. Just focus on the act of writing.

Step 5 - Prepare an Outline

If you are writing nonfiction, an outline is essential. For fiction writers, at the very least prepare a summary statement on what your book is about to help you stay focused.

Step 6 - Set a Low Daily Word Count

When you start writing, set a low daily word count. For example, start with 500 words. Try and beat that daily word count, even if it is by 1 word. If you find yourself writing a minimum of 700 words a day, up your word count minimum to 700. Always challenge yourself and try to up your word count every day.

Step 7 - Don’t Edit

When you sit down to write, focus only on writing. Save editing for when you are working on your second draft.

Step 8 - Do Typing Exercises

I remember sitting in typing class in high school and absolutely hating it. A few years later, in 1997 to be exact, I was working on my computer and realized how slow my typing was. I bought a typing book and began practicing typing all over again. Learning how to correctly type on a keyboard is essential to improving your overall word count. If you are still playing the hunt and peck game, it’s time to take advantage of the free typing lessons available online.

8 Things You Should Do to Make Writing Your First Draft Easy

The whole point to writing a first draft is to get everything out of your head and onto the screen. That’s it. You don’t use fancy words, worry about your tenses, and you certainly don’t bother to go back and edit the previous sentence you wrote.

Here are the 8 things you should be doing when you are writing your first draft.

1. Have a Basic Story Outline

It doesn’t have to be much. Your outline can be just a few lines listing the plot points or it can be a 10 page outline detailing every plot point and twist in your book. Either way, know the direction of your story before you begin to write it.

2. Write Your Story Summary

To keep you focused on what your story is about, write your story summary or main idea on an index card and post it on your desk, wall, or someplace where it is in plain sight.

3. Use a Plain Text Editor

You really don’t need MS Word for writing your first draft. In fact, if you are the type of person that gets easily distracted with formatting, you should avoid Word altogether when you are writing your first draft. Use a simple, distraction-free text editor, instead.

4. Use Simple Words

Avoid using large, complicated words in your first draft. Stick to simple words, such as hot, cold, tricky, big, and small. You can dress up your words when you are working on your second draft.

5. Forget About Spelling and Grammatical Mistakes

Do not worry about correct spelling, tenses, and any grammatical mistakes while writing your first draft. Heck, while you are at it, you can throw sentence structure right out of the window. The whole point of writing a first draft is to simply get the story out of your head. Nothing else matters at this time.

6. Don’t Edit

For the love of all things good and evil, do not edit. Never, ever edit while writing your first draft. It will break up your flow and cause you to get less done on your actual draft. If you have to, dim your screen and avoid looking at what you have already written.

7. Don’t Stop to Do Research

Can’t remember a simple fact or need the details of a procedure for one of your characters? Do not stop writing to do the research. Instead, put a string of Xs in the spot (or any letters you desire) and come back to those spots after you have completed your first draft.

8. Give Yourself a Deadline

I am one of those people that works best with a deadline. I am also one of those people who will wait until the last possible moment to do something. My only solution to this problem is to give myself a very tight schedule and deadline.

If you aren’t like me, give yourself a reasonable deadline for your first draft. This can be a week, a month, or an entire season. Just have a finish point to work towards so that you don’t find yourself working on your first draft for years to come.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

8 Steps to Writing a How To Book

The words “how to” get around 246,000 searches a month in the U.S. on Google. People everywhere want to know how to do something, how to make something,, how to build something, and more. “How to” is popular and that is why so many authors write how to books.

1. Choose a Subject

What type of how to book you write depends mostly on what you already know and where your interests lie. Your first task to writing a how to book is to decide on what subject you are going to write about.

2. Research

After you have chosen a how to subject, your next step is to start your research. This can be done online or in the library. Gather notes on your subject. Use index cards or begin typing in your notes immediately.

3. Outline

Often, outlining and research happens at the same time. As you gather your research, start organizing it into sections. Create a basic outline listing the chapters as titles. Fill in the chapters with notes and personal thoughts. If you are writing a step by step how to book, turn each step into a chapter. If I were to turn this blog post into a book outline, it would look like this:

10 Steps to Writing a How To Book
1. Choose a Subject
2. Research
3. Outline

4. Begin Writing

Now you begin working on the body of your book. Use your outline and your notes to write your book. Add your personal insights and stories into the chapters to provide the readers with more value.

5. Write Introduction

After you have finished writing the body of your book, your next step is to write the introduction. You introduction should include:

  • Hook sentence to get the reader interested in reading your book.
  • The benefits the reader will get from your book.
  • A brief paragraph on why you wrote this book.

6. Write Conclusion

The conclusion recaps the benefits the reader has received from your book. Remind the reader why this book is important and encourage the reader to follow the steps in the book.

7. Edit

Only edit your book after you have finished writing it. During the editing process you should:

Add more necessary details for your reader and cut out parts that are not directly related to the subject of your book.

Correct all typos and grammatical mistakes.

Smooth over poorly written sentences and paragraphs.

8. Publish

After you have completed all of the steps above, you are now ready to begin the process of publishing. This includes laying out your book and uploading it to Kindle. You will also need to create a book cover or have one made for you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

8 Steps to Improve Your Writing Skills

1. Read. A Lot.

When you read books, you gain a better understanding of writing styles. You see how published writers string together sentences, build suspense, and create understandable step-by-step instructions.

2. Practice Makes Damn Near Perfect

Anyone who wants to become a good writer needs to practice writing every day. Devote an hour to writing each day. Set up a blog and write for it. Work on your manuscript. Write articles to publish on content websites, such as Write about the day's events in a journal.

3. Write Poetry

Learn how to write haikus, limericks, sonnets, and other forms of poetry. Devote a week to study and practice each poetry style. For inspiration, I recommend The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach by Robin Behn.

4. Set Up a Work Area

Set up an area where you can sit comfortably and write. If possible, make sure the area gets plenty of natural sunlight during the day and can be well lit when the sun goes down.

5. Join a Writer's Group

Check your local libraries to see if there is a writer's group you can join. At the very least, search online and find a group to join.

6. Study Grammar

Purchase a book on grammar and punctuation. Take your time and read through it. Set it aside and reread it a year later. I can personally recommend The Book on Writing by Paula LaRocque.

7. Create a Schedule

By creating a writing schedule, you train yourself to sit and write at a certain time, for a length of time, each and every day.

8. Write Down Ideas

Keep a notebook or a file on your computer for book and story ideas. I keep a file on my computer with all my ideas and possible book / article titles. I also keep my ideas in a written notebook that I carry with me wherever I go. You never know when or where an idea will hit you, and it is always best to write ideas down immediately. Otherwise, you may forget about them before you are able to sit down at your computer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How to Become a High Achiever

I read a lot of self help books because I have a strong desire to continuously improve myself, especially now that I am in my 40s. The latest book I read was Peak Performance Principles for High Achievers by John R. Noe (1986). While a good book, it is filled with quite a bit of fluff and talks about climbing mountains and religion. Because neither of these subjects interest me, I was able to skim through the book in a night and take out all the information about becoming a high achiever. My notes didn’t even fill a full page, and there is no way I would waste anyone’s time trying to turn this information into a book, so here it all is.

Types of People

There are three types of people in the world.

The first are those who are complacent and don’t set goals that require effort. These people are satisfied living their lives fulfilling the goals set for them at work. Complacent people don’t strive for more and don’t go out of their way to achieve a higher goal. Self improvement is a waste of their time. They are content with the way things are.

Second, there are the achievers. Achievers are people who set and achieve goals that require a small amount of effort. They are willing to do a small to average amount of planning and work to meet goals that they set for themselves. Achievers strive to better themselves as long as the action causes little to no discomfort.

Finally, there are the high achievers. High achievers are people who set goals that take great effort and planning to reach. High achievers are known to set goals that seem almost impossible to reach, yet they strive and thrive on the challenge.

To Become a High Achiever

High achievers have a strong desire to reach high goals. They don’t wuss out at the first sign of a challenge. Instead, they meet challenges head on.

To become a high achiever, you first need to identify your imperfections. These are the things that are holding you back, and you need to overcome them. Your imperfections are mostly fears: the fear of success, the fear of failure, and the fear of being different from your peers.

You need to have a strong desire to reach hard-to-achieve goals and you must be willing and comfortable enough with yourself to spend a lot of time alone working towards your goal. No one else can reach your goals for you. You can enlist help, but the vision is yours alone. You own it.

You must be willing to step out of your comfort zone and experience new things. You will face the risk of rejection by family and peers because support and understanding of what you are trying to do will be nil to very limited.

High achievers plan and prepare for what they want. They set daily and weekly micro-goals for themselves that move them ever closer to their high goal. They take risks and get back up after a fall.

What a High Achiever is Not

Being a high achiever does not mean working yourself to the bone. Instead it means that you will be working smarter with a strong focus on your ultimate goal. Everything you do will be for your goal.

Always Setting and Reaching Goals

A high achiever might set learning a new language as a goal. This is something s/he will have to work towards and it is not an easy goal to achieve. As soon as the high achiever accomplishes the goal, s/he sets a new one, such as starting a new business.

High achievers never reach a goal and then suddenly quit. They continue to improve themselves and prove themselves to others. There’s no stop button to life, and the best way to live life is to continuously to move forward and upward. High achievers have a strong understanding of continual growth, and that is what helps them succeed.

Easy Crochet Coaster Pattern for Beginners

Making Coasters

I never thought I'd see the day when I would be crocheting coasters, but after wiping down the coffee table thousands of times over the last 20 years, I finally broke down. I searched the stores for coasters and couldn't find anything I liked, so I decided to go through my leftover yarn stash and crochet my own quick coasters.

Coaster Pattern

I used a kitchen cotton yarn for this coaster, Peaches and Cream.

Size H hook.

Chain 15.

Hdc in 3rd chain from hook. Hdc across, chain 2, and turn.

Continue in hdd until coaster is as long as it is wide, about 4-1/2 inches. Tie off and weave in ends.

8 Reasons Why You Should Start Self Publishing Today

People are turning to self publishing in higher numbers than ever before. Thanks to platforms like Kindle and Smashwords, self publishing is now cheap and easy to do. Of course, there are other reasons why so many people are turning to publishing their own works.

1. You Are the Boss

The great thing about self publishing is that you are the boss. You make your own decisions and decide what to write about and the length of the manuscript.

2. Take Risks

Unlike traditional publishers, as a self publisher, you get to take risks. You can mix genres, dabble in non-traditional plots, and create characters and situations that normal publishers wouldn’t dare touch.

3. Earn More Money

When you are self publishing your books, you have the potential to earn more money on your own than if you were to publish your books through a traditional publisher. If you are publishing on Kindle and your books are priced between $2.99 and $9.99, you will earn 70% of your sales. That is far higher than the 5% to 30% you might earn from a traditional publisher.

4. Control the Edits

You control of edits of your manuscript. When you hire an editor, you control which edits to make to the final manuscript and you control the ultimate destination of your story.

5. Set Your Deadlines

You set your own deadlines. You can make your writing schedule conform to the times that work best for you. You answer to yourself and you meet your own goals.

6. Marketing

You are also in charge of your own marketing. Yes, you can hire someone else to do the marketing for you, but in the beginning, you will want to learn the ins and outs of marketing a book.

7. Longer Shelf Life

Traditional books have a short shelf life because publishers are always on the lookout for the latest trending topics and bookstores only want to stock the best selling books. When you self publish on platforms like Kindle, you control the shelf life of your books. Even after book sales start to dwindle down to only a few sales a month, you have the option of updating the books, launching a new marketing plan for the books, or simply let them keep on selling the way that they are.

8. Control of Pricing

You control the price of your book, especially digital books. This means that you can write a bunch of short, 5,000 word books and sell them for 99 cents - a price that many will pay. Or when you have a $4.99 book that starts to slow down in sales, you can drop the price to $2.99 to see if sales increase again. When you control the pricing and are able to watch the sales, you can work out what prices work best for which books.

Monday, November 30, 2015

How to Create a Simple Nonfiction eBook Outline

Every writer has an outlining method that works for her or him. Some writers swear by mind mapping software and other writers use pen and paper to plan out their books. I use Text Edit on my Mac. Text Edit is just a simple word processor program with fewer bells and whistles than MS Word. And word processor program will work.

Basic Outline Layout

When planning out your nonfiction ebook, you will need a comprehensive outline. Here is my most basic outline structure:

By Author

-What this ebook is about.
-How this ebook benefits the reader.

Chapters 1 thru ? Subject of chapter.
-Overview of what this chapter is about.
-Meat of the subject.
-Conclusion of the chapter.

-Recap of the benefits or steps mentioned in the book.

Bibliography or Recommended Resources

Other Books by Author

Chapter Titles

While researching the topic you will be writing on, you should be able to come up with the names of your chapters. For instance, if I was going to write a book about bread baking, I could list my chapters as: Tools for Baking Yeast Bread, Flours Used in Bread Baking, Bread Baking Techniques, White Bread Recipes, Grain Bread Recipes, Holiday Bread Recipes, International Bread Recipes. With this basic list of chapters, I can begin to fill in and alter my outline. It would then look like this:

Baking Yeast Bread
By Author

Introduction to Bread Baking
-What this ebook is about.
-How this ebook benefits the reader.

Chapter 1 Tools for Baking Yeast Bread
-Overview of what this chapter is about.
-Basic Bread Baking Tools
-Tools to Try Out
-Conclusion of the chapter.

Chapter 2 Flours Used in Bread Baking
-Overview of what this chapter is about.
-Meat of the subject.
-Conclusion of the chapter.

Chapter 3 Bread Baking Techniques
-Overview of what this chapter is about.
-Meat of the subject.
-Conclusion of the chapter.

Chapter 4 White Bread Recipes

Chapter 5 Grain Bread Recipes

Chapter 6 Holiday Bread Recipes

Chapter 7 International Bread Recipes

The Benefits of Baking Bread
-Saving Money
-Family Traditions
-Healthy Ingredients
-Starting a Home Bakery

Bibliography or Recommended Resources

Other Books by Author

Notice that as I filled in the chapter titles, I was also able to begin adding sub-topics under the chapters. If I were to continue my research, the outline would become fuller and, before long, I would have an entire blueprint of my ebook filled with notes.

No fancy software is needed to create a nonfiction book outline. Just divide and conquer your book subject into chapters and subtopics, and you are all set.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

How to Find More Time for Reading

Studies have shown that the wealthy read more books than those in the $35k and below income range. Do you think that they read more books because they are wealthy or that they can contribute some of their wealth success to their love of reading? According to the experts, reading self help books, educational books, and career related books is what gives people a boost in their income. So why not make more time for reading? The worst that can happen is you become smarter than you already are.

Schedule Reading Time

Everyone should have a basic schedule of their daily routines, from going to work to when they eat their meals. Eke out a 30 minute time slot in your days to dedicate to reading.

Read Before Sleep

Read a chapter or two before you go to bed. Most people have a bit of free time before they go to sleep at night. Use that time to get some reading done.

Borrow Library Books

If you want to light a fire under your butt, borrow some library books. Library books have a due date, so you’ve got to read them before they are due back.

Book Stashes

Keep books stashed in different places. Keep one in the bathroom for when you have a few minutes to sit. Keep a book or two in the living room and in you car. Any time there is a free moment, take the opportunity to read a page or two.

Speed Reading

Learn how to speed read. There are many books and articles available that teach speed reading. Find a technique that works for you and increase the amount of reading you do.

Digital Books

Always on the go? Start reading digital eBooks. Download books onto your phone and read them whiner a free moment presents itself.

Stop Reading Junk

Cut out reading social media feeds and click bait articles. If you want to learn about money or wealth building “tricks,” turn to books instead. You will get more in-depth material from books than from social media.

Audio Books

Buy or borrow audio books for your commute. Many public libraries carry audio books and you can borrow them for free. Audio books are a great way to catch up on what everyone else is reading. Self help books are also great for long car rides.