Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Write Your Book's Introduction Last

Are you finding it hard to come up with an introduction to your nonfiction book? Then try writing your introduction last.

Many new writers will sit down to a blank page, type in the title to the book they want to write and then type "Introduction". They sit there, starting, trying to figure out how they are going to write the introduction to the book they haven't even written yet.

Write Your Outline First

If you haven't written the outline for your book yet, now is the time to do it. Writing a basic outline for a nonfiction book is not difficult. The more times you do it, the easier it will get until you reach the point where you can outline an entire book in under an hour.

Write Your Chapters

After you have completed an outline, begin working on the chapters. I like to work on my chapters in the order I have them written, but I have read of other writers who work on whatever chapter or section they feel like tackling. Find your own method for writing your chapters and perfect your method.

Edit First Draft

After you have finished writing your book, go back over it a second time. Reread everything and make first round edits. When you do this, you refresh your memory on what you have already written. You can make notes on the key points you go over and use these to write your introduction.

Write the Book's Introduction

After you have written your book and gone through the first edit, you are now well versed in what you have written. Now is the time to write your introduction and mention the key points covered in your book.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Make a Plan to Write Your Way Out of a Job

Waking up in the morning, making a cup of coffee, and heading straight into the writing room is a lifestyle many of us would like to have. Unfortunately, there are bills to pay and the only way to pay for them is to go work for someone else.

Break the Cycle

Get up. Go to work. Come home. Eat. Watch television. Go to bed. It is an awful cycle to feel stuck in, but there is hope. There is always hope.

The only way to break this cycle is to do something different. Instead of watching tv when you get home, write. Wake up an hour earlier in the morning and write. Spend your lunch break writing. Sitting in the car, waiting to pick up the kids? Write.

It doesn't matter what you write. It can be 500+ word articles. It can be 250+ words for a blog post. It can be the fiction or nonfiction book you've been dreaming of writing. It doesn't matter. If you want to break free of working for someone else, you have to become a fanatic and write, write, write.

The Plan

For many, the ultimate goal as a writer is to be able to tell the workplace to bite your big toe. You're not working for anyone else except yourself and your audience. That's it.

You need a plan.

First, figure out the minimum amount of money you need to survive. The absolute minimum.

Next, begin publishing your writing. Start a blog and monetize it. Write and publish books on Kindle. Start and build up a Twitter account. Post links to your work. Write, write, and build. Focus on 1 to 2 sources of income. For example, start publishing Kindle books and start up a blog with daily posts.

Keep doing this until you reach your ultimate minimum amount you need each month. You will need to work like hell to get there, but it can be done.

When you reach the minimal amount each month, don't quit your job just yet. You need to set a second goal.

How much do you need to make each month to live comfortably? Write this down and make it your new earning goal.

Now is the time to really diversify your income. You should be pulling an extra income from at least one source by now. Two sources is better.

You will keep your focus on your 1 or 2 sources of income and work on gaining a 3rd or 4th income source. You can build up your own YouTube channel, get a contracted writing job from or find one on ProBlogger, or create courses on Udemy.

When you diversify your income, you protect yourself and your earnings by not relying on just one source of income. Also, start up a new revenue stream no sooner than every three months. This gives you time to work on each income stream and build up a following and a residual income. As you take on a new project, continue to maintain your other projects.

Like I said, it is a lot of work for the first year or even 5 years, but your goal is to be self sufficient and be able to quit your job.

When to Quit

I had quit my job years ago, as soon as I realized that I was making more from writing than I was from working at the hospital. I haven't looked back since.

When it is time to quit, when you are earning more from your writing and online work than from your day job, then it is time to quit.

Monday, September 28, 2015

How to Write an eBook By Setting Small, Easy Goals

I like to make lists and feel the thrill of crossing things off that list. That is why this method for writing an ebook works so well for me. I break each step down into a simple goal and gain a sense of accomplishment when I complete each goal.

Breaking larger goals down into smaller goals works for many goal-oriented people. Instead of telling myself that I have to sit down and write an entire ebook, I focus on just one small aspect of that goal and the large project is suddenly manageable.

Goal 1 Subject and Title

The first step to writing an ebook is deciding what you are going to write about.

If you are writing fiction, you probably have a good idea about what you want your story to be about. For example, if you plan on writing about an alligator that finds true love in a swamp, you can write your ebook summary as, "Lonely alligator travels the dangerous swamps of Louisiana to find her true love." Once you have figured out the general direction of your ebook, you can create a working title. Since it is just a working title, you can change it at any time to give a better feel for the ebook.

Nonfiction writers can choose topics they are knowledgable about or a topic that interests them. They then break down their their topic into something smaller. For example, if you are a header and want to write a ebook about beading, you will want to break it down into a smaller topic, such as how to make beaded chokers. Many nonfiction writers use Google's keyword tool to break down a topic into a smaller niche by seeing what people are searching for on the web. Once you have chosen what you are writing about, you pretty much have the title of your ebook.

Goal 2 Chapters and Subtopics

When you know what you are writing about, you can break your ebook down into chapters. What is your nonfiction ebook going to cover? A fiction writer might, instead, plot out their story from action point to action point. The point is, now you create the skeleton of your book.

Goal 3 Flesh Outline with Notes and Key Points

After you have the bones of your book in place, it is time to flesh it out. Add notes under each section, plot ideas, and key points.

Goal 4 Choosing How Much to Write Each Day

How much you write each day is up to you. You can do it by word count or by chapter. Make a plan and write it out. Each time you reach the 1,000 word mark or each time you finish a chapter, check it off your goal list.

Goal 5 Edit and Proofread

After you have written your ebook, you will need to read through it, do edits, and proofread.

Goal 6 Final Proofread

A final proofread is always needed. If possible, have someone do this step for you.

Goal 7 Cover

Some people make this their second step in ebook writing. I generally save it for last, after the book is completed and I am certain of the title. Either create your own ebook cover or hire someone to create it for you.

Goal 8 Post Online

When your ebook is ready, it is time to upload it to Kindle. Thank goodness. Upload your file, double check the layout in the preview, and set the price.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

4 Tricks to Finding Your Writer's Voice

One of the hardest things for writers to find is our writer's voice. So many things in life tend to swallow us up, soul and all. Fortunately for us all, there are four key methods to tugging the writer's voice out of the darkest corners of the brain.

1. Write as though no one will ever read it.

When you sit down to write, tell yourself that you are writing for no one. Pretend that no one else will ever read what you are writing. Lie to yourself and tap into your inner thoughts, feelings, and fears. It is difficult to express yourself when you are constantly worried about whether you will lose friends or if people will suddenly hate you for what you write. You need to be able to toss those insecurities aside and write. Life is too short to hold back your creative genius just because a few stiff farts have forgotten that life doesn't revolve around them.

2. Write under a pen name.

Writing under pen names is a freeing experience. It eliminates the fear of being ostracized for your beliefs and deepest fears. I currently write under 4 different names. Each name has a different voice and I am able to write under a different genre for each name. There is no better way to give up your writing inhibitions than to publish your voice under a fictitious name.

3. Write as much and as often as you can.

Sounds stupid, but it's true. The more you write, the safer your writer's voice begins to feel. It starts to poke its head around the door and, with time, it gets out to exercise itself. The more you write, the stronger your writer's voice will become.

4. Read as much or as often as you can.

The best writer's have the most distinctive writer's voice. Harlan Ellison, Jane Austin, and Mark Twain all have a very distinct voice when they write. Read as much as you can. Study each voice, learn about each author, and even test out each voice in your own writing.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Writing - When No One Else Believes in You

“You have to believe in yourself before anybody else believes in you.”
- Ray LaMontagne

I started writing stories when I was a small child. I still have one of my penciled stories about a little bird that was attacked by a cat and didn’t survive the night in the little cage my mom and I prepared for it. I can still see the tear marks on the paper as I wrote my little story.

I always knew I was going to be a writer, even though no one else believed in me.

The harshest moment came when I was in 11th grade and Mrs. Miller, the guidance counselor, called me down to her office to discuss what I was going to do with my life. I told her I was going to be a writer. When she was done laughing at me, she told me I should consider being a secretary. Mrs. Miller, if you are still alive, I saved a copy of my first check from The New York Times just for you.

Life didn’t get any easier after being published. I’ve had a boyfriend tell me to get a real job and tell me that writing isn’t “real” work and I’ve had people dismiss my very existence when I told them I make a living by writing. Yeah, well I didn’t need those people in my life anyway, and neither do you.

Dream It, Believe It, Do It

People all over the world put aside their dreams to be what others want them to be. As a society, we have lost a countless number of artists, writers, dreamers, creators, and so much more, all because no one believed in them.

“Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Clause. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don't, who will?”
- Jon Bon Jovi

If you can dream it, then you can believe it. And if you can believe it, you can make it happen. The only person you need to believe in you is yourself.

I am not saying that believing in yourself is going to be easy. When the rest of the world seems to be telling you that you’re not good enough, your too damn stupid, or you’re too lazy, it is going to be tough. Work through it and keep true to your dreams.

Make a Plan

If writing is your dream, make a plan of action. You’re not going to become a writer magically overnight, but if you make a plan to sit down for one hour a day to writer, you will become a writer through your actions.

Keep Quiet

“Private dreams are the most powerful. You have to dream of success to make it happen, and if you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will. But that doesn't mean you have to go around telling everyone about it.”
- Tony McCoy

One way I have dealt with naysayers in the past is to simply keep quiet. If they don’t believe you can be a writer, then don’t bring it up to them again. You don’t need to hear their negativity, and they will know soon enough how wrong they were.

No Such Thing as Failure

I’ve written a lot of duds in my time. I keep them all in a box. Sometimes I will look through them and see where I went wrong. Mostly, though, I keep on writing new stuff and let the old stuff gather the dust of the ages.

There will probably be a lot of failures as you work your way to becoming a published writer. You may even publish a few Kindle book duds. But, eventually, you will hit the winning streak and and show yourself that you were right all along.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Writing and Publishing Autobiographies on Kindle

Almost every day on Craigslist I see a posts by people looking for a writer to retell their life story. The truth is, you don’t need someone else to tell your story. You can tell it yourself, better than anyone else can, and you can publish it on Kindle.

Make an Outline

An autobiography can start anywhere and end anywhere. It can cover your entire life up until now or it can cover an incident from your youth. If you’ve been thinking of writing an autobiography, you probably know what story you want to tell. Begin by creating an outline. Write out all the events in chronological order and jot notes of things you want to include in each section. The more detailed your outline, the easier it will be to write your book.


Gather photographs and any illustrations or handwritten notes from the time period you are writing about. Ask family members for photos you can use and copies of any correspondences.

Introduce Yourself

Begin your autobiography with an introduction. Introduce yourself as you are today or introduce yourself as you were when the story starts.

Be Honest

No one is perfect. Show your faults and failures. People identify with people who have made mistakes.


Find and write down your purpose for writing the autobiography. If it is to portray an incident, write that down somewhere where you can see it every day as you work. If the purpose is to show inequalities in the legal system, write it and hang it on the wall. Always keep your purpose for writing on your mind when you are crafting your autobiography.

Draft It and Re-read

Hammer out your first draft. Don’t worry about typos, sentence structure, or exact dates right now. Just get your story written. When you are finished, take a break and then dive in for the edits. Re-read your manuscript. Remembering your purpose, cut out anything not related to the focus of your story. Double check facts and add more details when necessary.

Get an Editor

Hire an editor. An editor will help you put the finishing touches on your manuscript. Find one that will do proofreads, too, and make corrections to improper sentence structure.

Publish It On Kindle

You don’t need a snooty-tooty publisher to publish your autobiography. If you have hired an editor to help you fix up your work, you can move on to self publishing. Kindle has a wonderful selection of autobiographies and, while I have yet to publish my own, I am sure that the right story can earn a person a fair residual income.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Write and Publish eBooks About Herbs

In the spring and early summer, people are out in their gardens, deciding what to plant and what to grow where. With more people interested in natural health and eating more flavorful foods, herbs are well back in favor. People want to grow herbs in their gardens, in window boxes, and on their balconies. The only problem is that while people have success in growing various herbs, they don't know what to do with them when they are ready for harvest. This is great news for those of us who love to grow and use herbs.

Pick a Herb

When writing an ebook about herbs, there are a number of ways to go about it. One of the most popular styles on Kindle is an ebook that focuses on just one herb, such as dill or caraway. Once you have chosen which herb to focus on, you will want to plan out your chapters.

A few chapter ideas are:

  • History of [name of herb]
  • Growing [name of herb]
  • Medicinal Uses
  • Cosmetic Uses
  • Tea Recipes
  • Potpourris
  • Food Recipes

Herbs of a Feather

Instead of just one herb, you can focus on a small set of herbs, such as favorite Italian herbs or popular potpourri herbs. Doing this gives you a large range of herbs to focus on, but the ebook also has an over theme, such as Italian or potpourri.

Some ideas for this type of ebook include:

  • Growing and using herbs for hair care / skin care / tooth care / etc.
  • Herbal butterfly garden.
  • Easy to grow herbs for the pantry.
  • Growing and using a variety of mints.

The Compendium

When it comes to ebooks, you will want to avoid a compendium or encyclopedia of herbs. The reasons for this are many. First, there are already numerous and famous herbal encyclopedias on the market - the market is already glutted. Also, large volumes that are encyclopedic in nature don't work well in Kindle format because of the lack of search functions and because it is so easy to lose a page in the Kindle format.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Writing and Publishing Textbooks for Kindle

Textbooks are a hot item to write, and can be written for self learners and for classrooms. Traditionally, textbook writers would seek employment with textbook publishing companies and were given jobs to write about certain topics within their expertise. With Kindle publishing, writers can now employ themselves and write textbooks to self publish.

Use What You Know

When people are stuck on what to write about, I always tell them to write about what they already know. This could be what they went to college for or it could be job related. You can even create textbooks based on your hobbies. Make a list of all your skills and interests.

Know Your Market

The next step in writing a textbook to self publish on Kindle is to check out the market. Do some research on your topic on See what others are publishing, check out their sales rank, and read the reviews.

Choose Age Group

What reading level and what age are you writing your textbook for? Will this be for self learners, classrooms, or homeschooled children?

Study Other Books

After you have decided on a topic and who you will be writing the textbook for, your next step is to research other books on your topic. To understand how to write for your age group or grade level, go to the library and read books that are in those age groups.

Photographs and Illustrations

All textbooks should have illustrations or photographs. Original is best. If your textbook includes projects, include photographs and illustrations demonstrating the project. Graphs and charts are also a great addition to textbooks.

Get Writing

Do your research, create your outline, plan your projects, and get writing. It is one thing to dream about writing and self publishing a textbook, but it is quite another thing to commit to the work. Get motivated, create a writing schedule, and get it done.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Writing eBooks for Zemandi Users? Forget It!

I signed up with Zemandi some time ago just to check it out and possibly give it a review. First, I tested out writing a short article for them which only yielded a little over $2. Not worth my time, but it was all in the review spirit. Then I requested another content assignment and what I got had me seeing red.

Let’s back up a minute, first. There are some bloggers that use Zemandi as a way to get cheap (super cheap) content written for their blogs. The bloggers will create an assignment stating the what the post should be about, give keywords, and a word count.

On the other end are the writers. These are the folks working for peanuts writing content for other people’s websites and blogs. Writers are paid around $2 per post. That’s not much incentive for doing a great job, but I am sure there are some writers who go the extra mile for the project at hand.

What I didn’t realize when I first checked out Zemandi was that people could also request ebooks to be written for Kindle. Generally, a ghost writer for a Kindle book will get paid anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on their skills and past work.

When I requested a new content assignment I received a book writing project that paid $11.25. Excuse me? Even my least selling book earns more than that a month.

While I can’t call out what the project was for, I will lend you some of the details. The person requesting the work wanted a 2500 word book, broken down into 5 to 7 chapters. Each chapter needed a “compelling” heading. The work was to also include an introduction and a conclusion.

$11.25. Who in the hum would take on such a demeaning project?

Listen, if you can write a book in 2500 words or more, don’t do it for someone else unless they are going to pay you well for your efforts. Publish it yourself. Like I said, my worst earning book makes more than that each month, and it will continue to earn money for the years to come. Why on earth would I create that pocket of passive income for someone who is too lazy to do the work himself or who is just out to scam writers?

What a joke.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Writing eBooks to Help Other Writers

Kindle ebooks that help other writers succeed on the Kindle publishing platform are very popular right now, but the market is quickly becoming saturated. Should you decide to write an ebook about writing for Kindle, you will need to find a smaller niche. For example, the market for writing nonfiction kindle ebooks is currently saturated. You will have to dig deeper to find a niche within nonfiction writing that sells, such as writing true pet stories.


eBooks about writing fiction, however, are not as plentiful as ebooks about writing nonfiction. This is probably because most people can write a nonfiction book about something they are knowledgeable about, whereas fiction requires coming up with a story plot and a good amount of creativity.

If I were going to write an ebook to help other writers, I would focus on a genre within fiction, such as horror, romance, western, mystery, etc. This narrows down the competition from the generic "how to write fiction" ebooks. I would also write ebooks that focus on distinct writing elements, such as "how to build suspense in a mystery novel" or " creating an atmosphere of terror in horror novels." Doing this eliminates a ton of competition while still providing instruction on a popular subject that will appeal to fiction, or wanna-be fiction, writers.

Writing for Greeting Cards, Slogans, Etc.

Another genre you can focus on is on how to write greeting card, bumper sticker, t-shirt slogans. I had the good fortune to know a lady who made a living writing for greeting cards. I don't know how she could sit down and write blurb after blurb, but she did it day after day.


Everyone thinks they are a poet. Heck, I still have the angst-dribble I wrote as a teenager, but I've never been brave / stupid enough to publish it. I am sure there are many people who would like to publish their poetry. How can they do this successfully? What poetry books sell the best on Kindle? How do you write poetry? How do you write chants? Haikus?

Check the Market First

Whatever you decide to target in your writer's ebook, check the market first. If there are more than 5 books on the subject you want to write about, then change the angle of your subject. Avoid being one of the drones. There are already too many Kindle ebooks covering the same topics. Be different. Be original. Get your voice heard.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Writing Kindle Books for Preppers

Thanks to the show Doomsday Preppers, the term preppers has become a hot word for Kindle books. The word also does fairly well on Google searches, according to the Keyword Planner. Other terms used are survivalist and homesteader, although preppers is quickly becoming a popular term for people who are preparing for any number of disasters. These disasters include a disease epidemic, solar flares, a polar switch, terrorist attacks, and more.

I honestly believe that all people should be prepared for a disaster, whether it is manmade or natural. It can be as simple as having a food and water supply for a few days in case of the loss of power, which has happened many times to my household during severe snow and ice storms. Others prepare for years of possible isolation. In either case, people are becoming more aware of the need to be able to care for themselves in any event.

What This Means for Kindle Writers

Prepper books continue to pop up on Kindle and recent events and new disaster possibilities are driving more and more people to read these types of books. A quick search on Amazon for Kindle books on prepping shows me that while the food preservation topics are being taken over, there is still a lot of room for other types of prepping books.

Take a Skill and Gear it Towards Preppers

Let’s say you are a knitter and you create and write your own patterns. What can you knit that would be used by preppers? The same goes with any craft, from woodworking to pottery - what can you make that would be used by preppers?

Are you good at hiding things? Preppers are always looking into ways to hide their food storage and medical supplies.

Organizing? Think of all the organizational skills needed to create a functional pantry where food is used before it expires. Following the “first in, first out” rule, what can be done to organize cans, mason jars, and boxes so that nothing goes bad?

How about collecting and storing heirloom seeds?

Handmade weaponry is another hot topic, as well as self defense and building emergency shelters.

Just About Everyone Can Benefit

Some view preppers as a fringe group, but the truth is that more and more Americans are realizing that they need to have extra food supplies on hand. If the recent years of earthquakes, flooding, and forest fires have taught us anything, it is that we cannot rely on the government to help us in time. We need to have a stocked pantry, even if it is just a short term supply of food and water, and we need to have basic survival skills in times of power loss. The latest batch of Kindle prepper writers are tackling these basic issues.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Writing Kindle Cookbooks

My Personal Experience Writing Recipes

In 2008, I was hired by The New York Times to write about bread baking on their subsidiary, I had no prior experience to writing recipes. Over the next 6 years, I learned the ins and outs of recipe writing and have written over 500 bread recipes. It is not as easy as it looks.

Why Write a Cookbook

People have to eat and, if they are going to make it themselves, they want their food to taste good and look presentable. Recipes teach and guide people how to make all sorts of delicious dishes. It is the writer's duty to make each recipe as easy as possible to make so that even a newbie cook can follow the recipe with success.

If you are skilled in the kitchen, if people love your cooking, and if you love, love, love to create original dishes, you will want to consider writing a recipe book. There is good money to be had writing recipes.

Choosing an Angle

Nearly all the popular recipe books available on Kindle have a very specific angle. For example, recipe books on:

  • deviled eggs
  • salads
  • smoothies
  • paleo
  • vegetarian
  • cookies
  • slow cooker
  • detox
  • quick meals
  • make ahead meals

Your goal is to choose something you enjoy making. For myself, my best option would be to create a book on yeast breads because of my experience. If you make incredible jello shots, that would be your niche in the recipe world.

Know your strengths in the kitchen and use them to your advantage.

Endless Days in the Kitchen

After you have decided what type of cookbook you are going to write, your next step is to pull out all the recipe books you have. Go to the library and borrow more. Fill your kitchen table with possibilities. You may have to eat your meals in the living room for a bit, but I've been there and the kids thought it was fun change of scenery.

Compile your notes and possible recipes. Use a notebook to copy recipes and instructions to test out. If you cook often, you will know automatically how to make adjustments to recipes, such as adding more onions, more garlic, less salt or sugar.

With your notes, your next step is to begin testing out recipes in the kitchen. When I first started out writing about bread baking, I used my family and neighbors as guinea pigs. I had the greatest neighbors at that time, and they honestly told me if the bread was good, not sweet enough, or whatever. If you can find people to give you honest reviews on your recipes, hold them dear.

You will spend a lot of time in the kitchen, adapting recipes, tweaking this and that, and trying out different presentations. Keep notes all the way. If something doesn't work, you can adapt it and test it out again. When you have perfected your recipe, rush to your computer and begin typing out the recipe and the steps to making it.

The Scoop on Copyrights and Recipes

You cannot copyright a list of ingredients. This is because there are only so many ways you can make something, such as plain biscuits. If the recipe list was copyrighted, only a few people would be allowed to hold the copyright to making plain biscuits. A recipe list (ex. 1 tsp baking powder, 1-1/2 cups flour, etc.) can be copied.

The instructions for making the item is, however, copyrighted. The instructions for making the item are considered creative content (ex. in a medium bowl, add flour, salt, and sugar, and mix vigorously).

Easy Vegan Coleslaw Recipe

It took me awhile to develop a taste for coleslaw and I did it by making my own, homemade coleslaw. The stuff you buy in the deli section in the grocery store is bleh compared to homemade.

This recipe is non dairy and has no eggs because it uses vegan mayo.

3 cups cold, shredded cabbage
1/4 cup diced green pepper
3/4 cup vegan mayo
1 Tbsp mince onion

Mix ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill until you are ready to serve. I find this coleslaw tastes great when used as a burger topping (real meat and vegan burgers).

Friday, September 18, 2015

10 Tips for Writing Your First Novel

Writing your first novel may seem daunting, but it can be done. In fact, thousands of people write and publish a first novel each year. You can certainly be one of them.

1. Prepare Your Space

Preparing to write is the first key to success. You will need to create a comfortable work area with plenty of natural sunlight. If you will be writing at night, you will need good lighting to keep yourself awake and focused.

2. Time

Set up a writing schedule and plan your writing time wisely. Include breaks. For example, you might work for 45 minutes and then go do dishes or stretch for 15 minutes. This helps prevent burnout and lets you get other work done around the house.

3. Distractions

The hardest part about writing is avoiding all the distractions. Turn off the tv, post a "do not disturb" sign on the door, and let your family know that unless a tornado is heading straight for the house, do not bother coming in.

4. Set Goals

Break your novel down into small, manageable goals. For example, write a list of each thing you need to do to write and complete your novel, from outlining to writing each chapter. As you finish each step, cross it off your list and reward yourself with a handful of Skittles or a glass of wine.

5. Outline

Always have a basic outline of what your book is going to cover. Some fiction writers feel that an outline stifles their creativity. Far from true, a basic outline that takes the writer from event to event will improve the writer's skills and help keep the writer focused.

6. Less Talk, More Writing

Stop talking about what you are going to write. Write it down, instead. You can add it to your outline and eventually to your working novel.

7. Skip Perfection

When you sit down to write, skip perfection. Get your story written and worry about grammar, punctuation, and typos later.

8. Keep a Pen and Notepad

Whenever you are away from your writing area, always keep a pen and notepad on hand. You never know when an idea or plot twist is going to pop into your brain. Chances are, you may forget it by the time you get back home and have time to write it down. If you can't keep pen and paper on you, make a note on your phone. Send yourself an email.

9. Read Out Loud

Read what you have written out loud. The written word has a rhythm to it. Read out what you have written or set your computer to read it out to you. Check your wording and the flow of your words.

10. Don't Give Up

Don't become one of the quitters. When things aren't going well with your writing, take a break, take a walk, and clean out the refrigerator.

Vegan Avocado Mayo Dip and Topping

Here is a great dip for veggies and even for cold shrimp (I am not vegan, but we no longer consume eggs or dairy). This dip also tastes great when used as a topping. For example, when you serve fresh tomato slices, put a spoonful of the avocado mayo on top to make it a real treat.

2/3 cup mashed avocado
3 Tbsp vegan mayo
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

You Can Write Children's Books Review

You Can Write Children's Books (A Writer's Digest Book)
By Tracey E. Dils


Author Tracey E. Dils tells the reader what she needs to know to write and prepare a children's book for traditional publishing.


  • Dispels the myth that writing children's books is easy.
  • Gives good book targeting advice.
  • Very easy to read and understand.


  • Author does not go into plotting children's books as much as I would have liked.
  • Does not go into the actual mechanics of writing a children's or young adult's chapter book.

Personal Thoughts

You Can Write Children's Books is a great book for people who are just gaining an interest in writing and publishing a children's book. It is very easy to understand and the writing style is very friendly.

I was disappointed that there were only small mentions of plotting different children's books since I am a plotting nut.

On the positive side, I did get some great ideas in children's publishing and finished this book with several new ideas for children's books that I added to my work list. I particularly enjoyed the section on writing nonfiction for children.

I recommend this book to anyone who is thinking of writing and publishing a children's book with a traditional publisher. It is not written for Kindle writers, but most of the book can be used by self publishers. Chapters 7 through 9 are about traditional publishing, writing queries and proposals, and formatting a manuscript.

Vegan Honey Mayo Fruit Dip

This honey mayo fruit dip is made vegan style. There is no dairy or eggs in the recipe.

1/2 cup vegan mayo
2 Tbsp vegan soft cream cheese
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon peel
pinch ground ginger

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to use. Serve with washed, cut fresh fruit.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

8 Reasons Why People Give Up on Writing a Book

Still stuck on writing your first book? Here are 8 reasons why people give up on their book projects and how you can avoid them.

1. Not Fast Enough

A book is not magically written overnight and it certainly isn’t written in a weekend unless you are dedicated to the project.

Writing a book takes time.

Disregard the time it takes for the pros to write a book. Create your own writing schedule and set a daily word count goal of 1,000 or more words. At the end of a month, you will have roughly 30,000 words finished, and that is enough for a Kindle book.

2. Never Seem to Have the Time

No time? Yeah, you and me both.

To have time to write, you need to make the time to write. Create a writing schedule for yourself and stick to it no matter what. If your daily schedule already seems crowded, then it is time to hack away at the unnecessary things, like watching television or wasting time on Facebook. Cut back on the non-essential activities to make room for writing.

3. Lack of Confidence

I’ve suffered from lack of confidence one too many times and that is why I write under pen names.

When you write a book, pretend that no one else will ever read it or agree to allow yourself to write and publish it under a pen name. It is an incredibly freeing experience.

4. Too Many How-To Books

You should read a book or three on how to write fiction or nonfiction. After that, you are just filling your head with unnecessary clutter.

Read your books, but don’t take them as the word of the almighty. When it comes to writing, rules can be, and often are, broken.

Find your own methods for writing a book, use what works best for you, and discard the rest.

5. Spotting Too Many Mistakes

As writers, we are trained to write first and edit later. Beginning writers often think they should write and edit at the same time or that their first copy should be perfect. They become upset when they see that this is not a realistic way to write a book.

Writers make mistakes. Some writers make a lot of mistakes. That is why we have proofreaders and editors.

6. Lack of Encouragement

Lack of encouragement can deflate any artist’s ego, especially writers. I’ve been through it: no one thinks you should pursue writing as a career and everyone thinks you are just being lazy.

It can be tough pushing through all the doubt from the people you care about, but it can be done. You simply need to push aside what they say. If it helps, take on the “I’ll show you” attitude and prove them all wrong.

7. No Motivation

Without proper motivation, your book will never get written. It will linger in your computer files and collect dust on your desk.

To write a book, you have to really want to do it.

Find your motivation. Why do you want to write this book? Are you writing it to share your knowledge? Is your goal to establish yourself as an authority on the subject? Is it a story that is begging to be told? Are you in it for the potential earnings?

8. Too Many Distractions

Kids, work, companions, and social media all provide us with several lifetimes worth of distractions. To get a book written, you will need to eliminate as many distractions as possible. After that, you will have to work with the kids and get them onto a schedule where they do certain, quiet activities while you are writing.

Non Dairy No Egg Tartare Sauce for Seafood

In my home, we all love our seafood, especially salmon, flounder, and haddock. This tartare sauce is made with vegan mayonnaise because my youngest child is allergic to both eggs and dairy. It's a delicious sauce to top over cold salmon or hot fish.

1 cup vegan mayo
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp chopped capers
1 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

8 Hacks That Will Help You Write Your Books Faster

Some book projects just seem to drag on and on with no end in sight. The solution? Try out these quick writing hacks today and see how your word count improves.

1. Dismiss the Negative

“You’ll never make money writing books.”

“You’re wasting your time.”

“Why don’t you get a real job?”

Being a writer is a job filled with negative input. People will tell you that you should spend a week crafting your singular blog post when many blog writers can kick out a 500+ word post in under 30 minutes. They will tell you that it takes months to write a book when many full-time Kindle book writers spend 3 to 14 days writing each book. Finally, they will try and convince you that there is no money in writing. Bullshit. There is plenty of money to be made from writing.

Do yourself a favor right now and dismiss the naysayers. If they are “friends”, get new friends. If they are family members, ignore them (or get a new family). Never take the naysayer’s words to heart. If anything, use their words as motivation to prove them wrong.

2. Set Word Count Goals

Set a daily word count or page count goal. If your goal is to write 1,000 words a day (that’s 7,000 words a week), make it an important part of your daily schedule right up their with showering and brushing your teeth.

3. Challenge Yourself to Exceed Your Goals

One trick many writers use it to continuously increase their daily word count, even if it is by a single word. For example, if your daily word count is 1,000 words and you manage to eek out 1,032 words, you can challenge yourself to go one word further the next day: 1,033 words. People use this method to increase their daily word count to a reasonable level, such as 4,000 words a day if you are writing full-time.

4. Never Edit While Writing

Never edit your book as you are writing it. Your main goal for the first draft is to simply get it all written down. This is not the time to find the best word, perfect sentence structure, or even change a character’s name. Save that for your second draft.

If you are chronically editing your work as you are typing, try this simple trick:

Highlight all of your text and change the font color to white. Now it will look like you have a blank screen and you can focus on thinking and putting your story to “paper” without being distracted by poor grammar, spelling mistakes, and punctuation.

5. Make Your First Draft Lean

My first drafts are always lean because I focus on the bare plot. I want to get it out of my head and onto the screen as quickly as possible. This method has allowed me to write a bare skeleton plot in three days. After the basic plot of my story is finished, I go back and begin adding the descriptions, the details, and I work in a few more subplots.

6. Speak Your Book

For some people, dictating their book is the fast and easy way to go. Try it out sometime. Tell your story and record it. Hire a transcriptionist to typing it in for you and then go back and begin editing your story.

7. Write Shorter Books

Kindle writers are no longer held to the 60k+ word count required by most publishers. In fact, short, concise books sell very on Kindle. If writing a tome about beekeeping is taking up way too much of your time and you feel as though you will never get the book done, break the book down into shorter books and create a series of books on the subject.

8. Hire Ghostwriters

You don’t have to write your entire book yourself. In fact, if you are having trouble writing one or more of your book’s chapters, hire a ghostwriter to do it for you while you work on the chapters you can write yourself.

No Dairy Vegan Cheese Butter Spread

I gave up dairy when my youngest child was diagnosed as being allergic to the stuff. Since then, I have been able to experiment with ingredients that I would not have normally bought. This recipe is to help with those cravings for butter and cheese. The spread tastes delicious on toast, crackers, and hot biscuits.

1/2 cup grated vegan cheddar cheese (I use Daiya)
4 Tbsp vegan butter (I use Smart Balance)
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Pinch black pepper

Cream ingredients in a small bowl. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Monday, September 14, 2015

7 Ways to Prepare for a Day of Writing Before You Go to Bed

Writers live a life full of deadlines and stress. Sleep is often the only time we get to relax and let go, especially during our work weeks. This list shows you all the ways you can prepare for a new week of solid writing and how, if you follow these simple steps, you can make your writing week less stressful and more enjoyable.

1. Plan Meals

You have to eat. If you are planning on a writing marathon, prepare meals ahead of time so that they can be easily reheated the next day. Prepare your snacks and snacks for your children.

2. Get Out Tomorrow’s Clothes

Get your clothes out for the next day. Plan on wearing something comfortable. If you have young children, get their outfits out for them as well. For my 2-year-old daughter, I have all of her outfits hanging up in the closet so that I can simply grab one out for the next day.

3. Write a To-Do List

Just knowing what you will be doing the next day will help you relax and fall asleep. Make it a habit to write a to-do list each night before going to bed. Read over it again in the morning and plan your day accordingly.

4. Take a Hot Bath

Take a hot bath about two hours before you plan on falling asleep. A hot bath will relax you and help relieve you of the day’s stress. It will also prepare your body for sleep - something that all writers need, especially before diving into a new book project.

5. Pen and Paper

Keep a pen and paper by your bed in case any ideas come to you as you are preparing to sleep. Write them down immediately and return to getting some sleep.

6. An Hour of Reading

Reading is not only relaxing, it also stimulates your imagination and increases your creativity. Make time to do some reading every night before going to bed. This can include reading a story to a child before bed.

7. Visualization

After you get snug in your bed, close your eyes and visualize yourself working at your desk. See yourself relaxed and feel the words flowing effortlessly from your mind, down into your fingers, and onto the keyboard and screen. See yourself reaching your word count and feel the happiness of a job well done.

Toasted Apricot Jam Slices for Tea and Breakfast

I managed to make some delicious jams and jellies this year and, of course, I am already looking for ways to use them. This is a recipe for hot apricot name bread slices. It is easy to make, tastes great with tea, and can be made for breakfast or snacking.

1 loaf french bread cut into 8 to 10 slices
8 Tbsp butter or vegan butter (try Smart Balance)
1/2 cup apricot jam
Ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter bread slices. Spread on the jam and sprinkle with cinnamon. Place the prepared slices on a baking sheet and place in the hot oven for 8 minutes or until hot and lightly toasted. Serve hot. Be carefully. The jam will be piping hot and slices should be cooled down and tested before serving to children.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

7 Ways to Become a Workaholic Writer

Making the change from slacker writer to workaholic writer takes time, willpower, and determination. These are the methods I used to change my life around and begin earning real money for my work.

1. Set Daily Work Goals

Daily goal setting changed my life from the first day I started doing it. What you do is, each night, before going to bed, you write a list of things you must accomplish the next day and, under that, things you would like to accomplish. When you get up the next day, read over your list and tackle one goal at a time. Start with the must goals and, when you have completed those, begin working on the would like goals.

Having goals written down so that you are able to read through them helps you focus on what you need to do. I find that when I focus on just one task, one goal, I am able to complete it quickly and efficiently.

2. Break Large Projects Down into Smaller Projects

Some goals are just too large to be completed in one day, such as writing a Kindle book. For these larger goals, you will need to break the goal down into smaller goals. For example, one goal could be choosing a niche and a second goal could be titling the book or creating a basic outline. When you break larger goals down into smaller goals, you are more likely to accomplish those goals.

For those who write blog posts and articles, let me share a tip: Never write the number of blog posts or articles you want to write in one day. For example, never add to your goal list, “write 5 blog posts.” It is not a very motivating goal and it is unlikely that you will get yourself to reach the end of that goal. Instead, add the goal, “come up with 5 new blog titles.” After you come up with those blog titles, your brain now knows what it is going to write about. Write each title onto your goal list. Your goal is to write a blog post for each title.

3. Focus on What Must Be Done

Only focus on one thing at a time. Do not multitask because you will wind up with a bunch of started projects and zero finished projects. Instead, choose one goal from your daily goal list and focus on starting and finishing it. Do not allow yourself to start working on a new goal until you have finished what you are working on.

4. Eliminate Distractions

Get rid off all distractions, except for the kids. Turn off the television, your cell phone, the radio, and anything else that beeps, bleeps, or talks. If you can close the door and work in a quiet room, do so. Put up a “do not disturb” sign, if your family members are forgetful. If all else fails, go write someplace else.

I’ve done writing in my car, in the back yard, and on walking trails when I’ve had to. You have to find what works best for you and, in emergencies, where you can go for distraction-free writing when things are too hectic at home.

5. Know Your Purpose

Why do you write? What is your overall purpose to writing? Each person has their reasons for writing. It can be money and increasing earnings, it can be a personal challenge, and it can be the desire to share. It doesn’t matter what your purpose is, you just need to write it down and post it somewhere in your work area where you will see it every day.

6. Avoid Burnout

Nothing destroys productivity faster than burnout. Burnout happens when you work too much and don’t give yourself breaks and off time. Writer’s burnout can take days and even weeks to recover from - a much longer time than if you would have just given yourself breaks and time off.

7. Stay Motivated

Motivation is key to increasing your ability to write often and a lot. Writers have different ways to get themselves motivated. For myself, quotes from famous people get me motivated to start working and continue to work. Some writers use visualizations, affirmations, or a daily ritual to get themselves mentally prepared to start their work day. Creating a reward system for yourself is another great motivator that works for many people. The key is to find what works best for you and then use it religiously.

No Dairy Cucumber Sauce for Fish

We eat a lot of fish and because my youngest child is allergic to eggs and dairy, I am always looking for ways to make each dish a little different. This dairy-free cucumber sauce can be made ahead of time, chilled, and serve over your favorite cooked fish.

The origin recipe calls for mayonnaise and we have substituted it for vegan mayo without any problems.

  • 1/4 cup regular or vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch black pepper

Combine all ingredients and chill. Serve a spoonful on top of cooked fish or serve it on the side. Also tastes good when mixed with canned tuna.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

7 Tricks to Getting Yourself to Write More

Every writer has her or his little bag of tricks to get themselves to write more. Here are 7 tricks that I personally love, especially number 4.

1. Create a Set Time to Write

Choose a time to write. If you must, plan on getting up earlier in the morning and schedule that extra time for writing. Set a daily writing schedule for yourself and keep to it.

2. Make it a Habit

Make writing a habit, along with all of your other habits. Tag it on to another habit you currently have. For example, if you get up in the morning and make yourself a cup of coffee, start sitting down at your computer with your coffee and begin writing. According to many, morning coffee and writing go hand in hand.

3. Become Your Own Employee

Hire yourself to write a book and become your own employee. Set standards, expectations, and hours for yourself. Hold yourself accountable.

4. Set an Easy Minimum Daily Word Count

Set a low minimum daily word count for yourself. For example, if you want to write an 80,000 word novel in one year, that will equal roughly 220 words a day. Set up a chart or spreadsheet for yourself showing each day and 220. Example:

Day 1 - 220 words
Jan. 1 - 220 words

Once you have the minimum word count you need to do each day, your next step is to exceed that number. Let’s say that you wrote 500 words yesterday. You were able to cross off the day’s word count PLUS you got to cross off the last day on your list, making the time to finish your book one day shorter. If you go nuts one day and write 2,000 words, you get to cross off that day’s word count PLUS 8 days at the end of your list. The more work you do, the less time it will take to finish off your book, and since 220 words a day is an easy goal to reach, you can keep yourself easily motivated.

5. Keep Track of Your Daily Word Count

At the end of each day, write the day’s word count on a calendar. Keep track of how many words you write each day and challenge yourself to write more, even if it is just another 5 words.

6. Break Writing Time Into Blocks

Give yourself breaks while you are writing. Some writers like to write for 30 minute blocks and then give themselves 10 to 15 minutes to do something else before returning to write for another half hour. Test this method out and see how it works for you. For some, it is a great way for them to catch up on laundry and cleaning while keeping to a writing schedule.

7. Go Offline

Going offline is about the easiest way to get yourself to write more. I discovered long ago that whenever the internet was down, my daily word count tripled. These days I just turn off my internet connection and I don’t allow myself to turn it back on until I reach my writing goals.

Homemade Honey Lemon Pancake Sauce Recipe

While I love real maple syrup, I like to change things up a bit now and again. This recipe for honey lemon pancake sauce has no dairy and no eggs. It is delicious served over pancakes, toast, waffles, pudding, yogurt, ice cream, and a slew of other dessert items.

1 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp powdered nutmeg

Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat to warm over low heat. Do not bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Store in a glass jar.

Friday, September 11, 2015

7 Time Management Tips for Writers

Writers, whether they have young children or a full-time job outside the home, need to develop time management skills if they are going to become successful. These time management tips for writers can be used by any writer, full-time or part-time, to manage their skills and become more productive.

1. Determine When You are Most Productive

I used to be a late night writer but, with the birth of my youngest child, I have had to switch to a morning and afternoon writer (although I will sometimes write an article or work on book notes late at night in bed if I can’t sleep).

When do you feel most creative and productive? Don’t fight your natural cycle. Work with it and schedule your writing time when you are most likely to feel like writing.

2. Create a Writing Schedule

Create a writing schedule and give yourself hours just like a regular job. Make the schedule realistic so that you are more likely to stick to it. Be your own boss and take charge.

3. Overestimate the Time to Complete a Task

Never cut yourself short on time. If you think a task will only take you 30 minutes, schedule it in for an hour. If you complete the task in under the allotted time, you can move on to the next task or give yourself a break for a few minutes. If it takes you the full amount of allotted time, great planning! That is why you gave yourself more than enough time to do it in the first place.

4. Schedule Free Time

Just as you are creating a work schedule similar to that of a regular job, you will also be scheduling in breaks. Call them potty breaks, snack breaks, or a few minutes to start the laundry, it doesn’t matter. Schedule in break time and take advantage of it. Think of it as a reward to step away from the work desk.

5. Be Reasonable With Yourself

Don’t over schedule. Never cram too much into your schedule. You will feel overwhelmed and, when you are unable to complete all your tasks, you may feel depressed, ready to give up, or angry with yourself. Avoid the bad feelings altogether by creating a reasonable schedule for yourself. If you finish early, you can reward yourself by stepping away from your work for the day or you can get extra work done and feel even better about yourself.

6. Spend 10 Minutes on Preparation

Before you begin your work day, spend 10 to 15 minutes preparing yourself mentally and preparing your work area. Grab the books you might need for research. Make sure all your papers are in order. Set some healthy snacks on your desk and prepare a cup of hot tea or coffee for yourself. Take a moment to read over what you plan on doing today and mentally prepare yourself to finish each task.

7. Avoid Getting Sidetracked

Turn off all email and social media notifications. Check these things only during your scheduled breaks. Post your writing work schedule up for other members of the household to see. Ask that they respect your time and your work.

PA German Molasses Sauce Recipe

This recipe is for a delicious molasses sauce made by PA Germans. It is generally used in place of maple syrup on pancakes and waffles, although a drizzle of this sauce over vanilla ice cream is very delicious.

I have made with recipe with both butter and non-dairy vegan butter. It tastes great both ways.

1 cup butter or vegan butter, soft
2 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp black molasses

Place ingredients in a blender and mix. Serve over toast, pancakes, or waffles.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

7 Things You Should Know About KDP Select

Many people who publish their books on Kindle will choose to put their books into the KDP Select program because of its many benefits. There are also a few writers who advise against this practice because by enrolling a book into KDP Select you agree not to sell it in other platforms on other sites, such as Smashwords.

My experience with KDP Select has been extremely positive. I have all my books enrolled in the program because I make a lot of my money through Kindle Unlimited.

Before you decide on whether or not to join KDP Select, you need to know the following.

1. Exclusive to Amazon

To enroll your book in KDP Select it must be exclusive to This means your book may not be available, for sale or for free, on any other sites.

2. Earn Money from Borrows

When you put your book in the KDP Select program, people can borrow your book. You get paid a share of the KDP Select Global Fund for each borrow where the reader reads 10% or more of your book.

3. No Limits on How Many Books You Enroll

You can enroll one book into KDP Select to try it out or you can enroll all of your books into the program.

4. Free Offers

Under the KDP Select Program, you can offer your book for free download for up to 5 days within a 90 day period.

5. Minors

People under the age of 18 can publish books on Kindle and be enrolled in KDP Select. The minor’s parent or guardian must open the KDP account and the minor can publish her or his books on this account.

6. Kindle Unlimited

All Kindle books that are enrolled in KDP Select are included in Kindle Unlimited. This allows people to borrow Kindle books for “free” when they pay the monthly subscription price. You are paid from the KDP Select Global Fund for the borrows.

7. Automatic Renewal

Your books are automatically renewed in KDP Select every 90 days. This means that if you place your book in the KDP Select program, it will automatically renew every 90 days so that you don’t have to manually renew it.

Easy No Cook Strawberry Sauce

The most awesome part of this recipe is that you don't need to cook the sauce and you can make it in just minutes.

1 pint fresh or frozen strawberries
1/2 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar

Stick both items in the blender and puree.

Use the sauce to top ice cream, pound cake, or pancakes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

7 Things You Need to Know About Publishing a Book on Kindle

1. You Can Format a Book in MS Word

You don’t need to buy any fancy programs to format your book for Kindle and you don’t need to buy any Kindle book templates. All you need is MS Word and KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) provides you with free information on how to properly format your book.

2. Minimum Word Count

There is a minimum word count of 2,500 words for Kindle books. The target word count for most nonfiction books is 6,000 words and up. Kindle Shorts start at 5,000 words.

3. Avoid Bulleted Lists

Never use bulleted lists in your Kindle books. The formatting does not translate well into Kindle books. Instead, avoid indented bullet lists and create a list manually using an asterisk.

4. The Sweet Spot in Pricing

Books priced below $2.99 and books priced above $9.99 get a 35% royalty. Books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 get a 70% royalty. Many writers feel that books priced at $2.99, getting the 70% royalty, sell better than books in other price ranges.

5. You Can Update Your Book Anytime

You can update your book’s content and cover at any time and as often as you like. There is no limit on the updates you make and you can upload corrected or updates books whenever you choose. Customers who have previously downloaded your books will automatically receive the update.

6. Pre-Orders

You can accept pre-orders on your book up to 90 days before its release date. This is a great way to see if there is an interest in your book before you begin writing it.

7. Removing a Book

You can remove a book for sale at any time. You cannot delete the book from your “library”, but the sales page on Amazon will be removed from the public.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

7 Things Successful Writers Do Differently

To be a successful writer, you must not only work hard, you also have to act the part. Here is a list of seven things successful writers do differently.

1. They Focus on What Matters

Distractions are everywhere, but successful writers have trained themselves to focus on what really matters to them. For many writers, the focus is on family and writing. They write so that they can spend more time at home with their children and spouse.

2. They Don’t Try and Make Everyone Happy

You will never write a book that pleases everyone.

Mark Twain once wrote about Jane Austen, writer of Sense and Sensibility and other classics, “I haven't any right to criticise books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read 'Pride and Prejudice' I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

Lord Byron had this to say about John Keats: “Here are Johnny Keats’ piss-a-bed poetry, and three novels by God knows whom… No more Keats, I entreat: flay him alive; if some of you don’t I must skin him myself: there is no bearing the drivelling idiotism of the Mankin.”

3. They Don’t Worry About What You Think of Them

Harold Bloom, literary critic, had this to say about J. K. Rowling: “How to read ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’? Why, very quickly, to begin with, and perhaps also to make an end. Why read it? Presumably, if you cannot be persuaded to read anything better, Rowling will have to do.”

Thank goodness J. K. Rowling hasn’t stopped writing.

4. They Focus on One Project at a Time

There are writers who will only work on one book project at a time and there are some writers who will have 2 or more active book projects, but they block their time to only focus on one of the books at a time. For example, they might only do 1,000 words on book #1 in the morning and later in the afternoon they devote 2,000 words on book #2. Nothing is done all at once, all together, in a multi-tasking heap of mess.

5. They Don’t Take Shortcuts

There are no shortcuts to writing a great book. As author Colin Wilson said, “Criminals interest me, because they're driven by the same desires as we are, but they take these disastrous shortcuts and end up in a real mess.”

6. They Have Learned Ways to Enjoy Their Work

As author Nora Roberts simply said, “I loved the process of writing.”

Writers, while infamously known as procrastinators, love their work. They obsess over writing and can also be addicted to writing.

Author Christine Feehan says, “I write for the love of writing. If I never published another book, I would still be writing stories.”

7. They are Constantly Learning

Successful writers are constantly learning and reading. They don’t go stagnant.

Benjamin Franklin says it perfectly: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Monday, September 7, 2015

7 Things Writers Can Learn from Scientists

The best way to learn how to succeed is to learn from the great minds of the past and the present. These seven scientists can teach you how to be a better writer.

1. Keep a Notebook of Ideas

Albert Einstein is famous for keeping notes. One of his notebooks is a prize above all the rest. Written in a small, brown notebook are his notes for the Theory of Relativity. Einstein’s notebooks, as well as his letters, can be found online.

Writers, like scientists, should always keep a notebook on their person and fill it with ideas, character sketches, and even famous quotes that inspire them.

2. Be a Dreamer

Of all past scientists, Nikola Tesla was the biggest dreamer. In 1901, he dared to dream of a day where people could communicate by wireless technology. He believed that through this technology, which would be the size of a watch, we could transmit images and keep up to date on the stock market. About 100 years later, and we have the smartphone. Tesla’s dream of the future came true.

Writers, like Tesla, daydream. They come up with ideas, scenes from the future and from the past. All that writers observe are absorbed and brought back out in their writing. Never stop the dreams.

3. Let Nothing Stop You

An amazing modern scientist, Stephen Hawkings is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist. Hawkings has pursued his love of science in spite of tremendous setbacks. Even though he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and is now almost completely paralyzed, he gives lectures, has written two popular books on physics, and has made major contributions to quantum physics.

As writers, we often complain about not having enough time, not being able to come up with an idea, or not earning enough to continue writing. We need to remember that there are people out their who have accomplished far more than us using less than what we already have. Let nothing stand in the way of your goals.

4. You Need to Work for What You Want

Marie Curie, born in 1867, is famous for her discovery of radium and polonium and her medical research. She won Nobel Prizes in both physics and chemistry. To reach her achievements, Marie Curie had to work as a tutor and governess and put not only herself, but also her sister through school. Even though she was a woman and had to face many obstacles, she worked hard and, at times, suffered to reach her educational goals to become a scientist.

For most, writing doesn’t come easily or even naturally. As writers, we need to work to build up our skills and reach our goals of becoming a successful writer.

5. Evolve

Charles Darwin taught us about evolution and how species need to change in order to survive or risk extinction. The same can be said of writers.

Writers will write a lot of crap before they become successful. Whether it is the sappy stories born from a teenage mind, the angst poetry of a 20-year-old, or the silly children’s stories of a new mother, all writers evolve and change their writing styles until they find one that is successful.

Change is essential to becoming a successful writer. If you fail to make the necessary changes to your writing, you are allowing yourself to become extinct.

6. Hire Help

Thomas Edison hired inventors to work for him. His goal was to create 1 new minor invention every ten days. A major invention was to be made every 6 months.

Like Thomas Edison, the best writers know that they can’t do everything on their own. Some writers hire typists, others hire their own editors or proofreaders. If you have kids, hire a babysitter during your writing times. Accept that you need help and get others to work for you while you concentrate on your writing.

7. Explore Everything That Interests You

Leonardo da Vinci is most widely known for having painted the Mona Lisa, but there was so much more to him than his artwork. He was also a self-educated mathematician and inventor. His surviving notes show he had a great interest in the properties of water and many of his inventions were beyond his time, including the ball bearing and a flying machine.

While writing is a skill that can take a lifetime to master, there are other things you should explore. Follow up all your interests with research and attempts. Keep your own journals about your discoveries, and let your new knowledge inspire your writing.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

7 Habits of Successful Kindle Book Writers

The secrets to succeeding as a Kindle book writer aren’t really secrets. They are habits that can be applied to any business venture.

When you want something so badly, when you can almost taste success, it is time to buckle down and build yourself these new habits. Put yourself on the right path right now.

1. Scheduling

To succeed, you need structure. Schedule your days and decide on when you will be writing and when you will be doing other things. Some writers like to schedule one large block for writing each day while others will schedule in two smaller blocks of time each day. How you schedule in your writing time depends solely on what works best for you.

2. Set Priorities

Decide each day what needs to be done. Decide what is important to you and work on it. Writers can easily get caught up in distractions, such as posting to Facebook and Twitter, but neither of these activities will help you reach your ultimate goal of being a successful Kindle book writer.

3. No Multi-Tasking

You can’t do everything at once. Studies show that people who multitask get less done than people who focus on one project or task at a time. If you have to write articles and work on your book, plan to spend a designated time solely on the articles and another block of time just on your book.

4. Include Breaks

Taking breaks are just as important as the work itself. Some writers prefer to work for 45 minutes and then give themselves a 15 minute break to do other things, such as tackle the dishes. Plan for breaks and you will undoubtedly see an increase in your production levels, as well.

5. Eliminate Distractions

Turn off all notifications as you prepare to work. If you work in a home office, put up the do not disturb sign or implement a closed door policy where no one is allowed to disturb you while the door is closed. If your home or neighborhood is noisy, wear earplugs.

6. Set Goals

Set daily goals, such as page or word count goals. Keep your ultimate goal in mind all the time: to be a successful writer. Remind yourself daily that you are working towards this goal and let it motivate you.

7. Reward Yourself

Reward yourself for all the things you accomplish each day. For example, when I reach my daily word count, I reward myself by watching a favorite show on Netflix. Quite a few of my writer friends reward themselves with a glass of wine at the end of the day. Finishing a book should be rewarded with something a bit more special, like going out for dinner or having a clam bake.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

6 Ways Writers Can De-Clutter Their Lives

Writers can be the messiest people around or they can be the neatest folks on the block. The fact is, when you declutter your life, you make room for inspiration, creativity, and, ultimately, an increase in production.

1. Reduce and Eliminate Non-Productive Activities

You don’t need a direct connection to Twitter or Facebook 24 hours a day, and you certainly don’t need to check your inbox every 15 minutes. All of these activities are time wasters. Instead, use social media as a tool to promote yourself, your writing, and to promote others. Don’t spend hours each day reading through the feed. Set designated times to check your accounts and inbox.

Television is another time sucker. If you simply refuse to eliminate watching television, then set designated times for watching it. Use it as a reward for meeting your daily goals.

2. Create a Working Schedule

You need to create a schedule that actually works and one that you will stick to. Decide on your best times for writing and schedule everything else around those times.

3. Make a Short To-Do List Every Day

Every night, before going to bed, write out a short to-do list for the next day. Include up to 10 things that you must do or would like to do.

4. Clean Up Work Space

There is a huge difference between a creative atmosphere and a sheer mess. When you start to get cluttered, it is time to clean up. Find your desk under all those papers and throw away the candy wrappers.

5. Avoid Negative and Annoying People

Negative people can zap the energy right out of you in under 10 minutes. Avoid them as much as possible. If you must deal with them, such as family members, see them after you have done the day’s writing.

6. Set Daily Writing Goals

Set a daily writing goal. Some people set a goal as low as 500 words a day and others set their goal much higher at 10 pages a day. Set a minimum amount of work you must do each day.

Friday, September 4, 2015

6 Tricks Writers Use to Be More Productive

Writers have time to fiddle around and see what methods work best for them and what works to increase their productivity. These 6 tricks of the trade are the most common and practical ways writers make the most use of their time.

1. Use a Timer

Use a timer and work for 45 minutes. Give yourself a break for the remaining 15 minutes in the hour and then work for another 45 minutes. Many writers find that they are more productive using a timer. They waste less time when there is a designated amount of time to work and a designated amount of time to stretch and do something different.

2. Checklist

Create a checklist of what you must get done. Break book projects down into smaller tasks and turn the list into a checklist. Get the satisfaction of checking off each task that brings you closer to a finished book.

3. Listen to Music to Set the Pace and Mood

Listen to music while you write. Choose music that fits the mood of your book or choose music that will set the pace of your typing. Avoid music with words because the words will be a distraction.

4. Carry a Notebook

Always carry a notebook with you. Inspiration or the solution to your plot can occur at any time. Be prepared with pen and paper because you never know when your smartphone will run out of battery or decide to give up the ghost. Hard copies of ideas are best.

5. Natural Rhythms

Work with your natural rhythms. If you are most creative at night, schedule your writing hours at night. If you are a morning or afternoon person, work with yourself to create time for writing during those hours. By working with your natural rhythms, your productivity will increase.

6. Build Momentum

Break large goals into smaller tasks and add these tasks to your daily checklist. As you complete each smaller task, you will realize that you are getting closer to your goal. The momentum will continue to build and you will achieve more work, faster.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

6 Things to Remember When You Self Publish a Kindle Book

Deciding to join the self publishing arena is a big deal. You are becoming one of the many self employed people looking to make a living doing what you love. Here are a few things to think about when you make the big leap.

1. Publishing is the Easy Part

Self publishing books is easy. The hard part comes in when you want to sell your book. You will need to consider marketing and getting your book in front of potential readers. Some self publishers are very laid back when it comes to marketing and others have a whole strategy to getting the public interested in their book. If you are fine with making a few sales here and there, be laid back. If this is your only income (or you want it to be), then you have to get out there and push.

2. Research Your Title

Always research your book title before you hit the publish button. Make sure your book title isn’t already being used. In the case of fiction, see how many different authors have already used your title. For example, “The Wishing Well” is the title or part of the title for many works of fiction. Would you want your book competing with other books of the same title, or can you alter your title and make it unique?

3. You Won’t Wake Up a Millionaire

You finished writing your book, got it edited, and had a cover made for it. Now all you have to do is hit the publish button and tomorrow morning, after waking up, you will discover that you became a millionaire overnight. I wish, but the truth is that it will take time to build up your sales.

4. You Need to Build Your Audience

You will need to romance your potential audience by offering them your book for free for a limited time. You can also build up an audience through a blog or social media.

5. Get Your Book Reviewed

Getting your book reviewed is a big deal. As a person who spent years writing book reviews, I know first hand that traditional publishers scramble to get established writers to review their books. Now that you are publishing your own book(s), you will have to join the throngs of others seeking legitimate book reviews. You can hire some book reviewers on Fiverr, but you’re best bet is to pay the hefty review fee that some established book reviewers and book review sites want. Honestly, getting reviews are worth the price.

6. You Only Have Yourself to Blame

When the poop hits the fan, you only have yourself to blame. That’s right. You must hold yourself responsible for everything that happens when self publishing your book, and that means the good as well as the bad.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dairy Free Chocolate Syrup Recipe

Ever since my youngest child was diagnosed as being allergic to both eggs and milk, I have had a heck of a time finding safe foods for her in the grocery store. To combat her lack of choices, I have started making more non dairy items from scratch.

This chocolate syrup recipe is not only dairy free, but it can be used the same way as store bought chocolate syrup. You can use it as a topping on desserts and ice cream and you can use it to make chocolate milk with almond milk, soy milk, and even cashew milk.

  • 1 cup powdered organic cocoa
  • 2 (1 ounce) squares bitter chocolate (read ingredients on label to make sure it has no milk)
  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 egg or egg replacement
  • 4 tbsp Vegan butter or coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, add the cocoa, bitter chocolate, brown sugar, salt, and water. Stir on burner set to medium heat until ingredients are dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil for three minutes. Remove pan from heat and beat the chocolate with an egg beater. Beat the egg or egg replacer into the mixture. Return pan to burner set on low and add either the vegan butter or coconut oil. Mix with the egg beater again and then allow the syrup to simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla extract and stir. Pour the chocolate syrup into a quart size canning jar. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

7 Great Productive Places for Writing

You can write just about anywhere, but here are seven of the most productive places you can go to write a book.

1. Library

The library is one of the best places to focus on your writing. For one thing, most libraries are quiet, except when they have a children’s reading group actively bouncing around. You are also surrounded by books. You can do your research and read up on developing plots easily and within the comfort of a few steps.

2. Park

Parks are a great place to relax, watch wildlife, and spy on people (we call it people watching, but “spying” sounds more exciting). Take your laptop or simply a pen and notebook and work on your writing in the park. If there is a nice, grassy area, take a blanket along to stretch out on.

3. Hotel Room

Maya Angelou rented a hotel room to do her writing. Hotel rooms are great places to find peace and quiet, and to get away from distractions at home. Talk to the owner or manager at a local hotel and see if you can come to an arrangement to use a room for a few hours each day to write.

4. Beach

Imagine the gentle lull of the waves as you stretch out on a blanket to write. Plan a working vacation and, while everyone else is off walking the boardwalk, you find a comfortable place to lay out and work on your next novel.

5. Coffee Shop

J. K. Rowling said she wrote her first Harry Potter book in a coffee shop, but it’s not the best of places for everyone. Cafes and coffee shops can be noisy and there are always plenty of disruptions. If you thrive on the hustle and bustle of humanity and can work calmly in the midst of chaos, give it a try.

6. Car

When things get too loud at my place, I head out to the car to write. Writing in the car provides writers with just the right amount of isolation and alone time. If you need the internet, park the car at one of the fast food places that offers free wi-fi and enjoy your writing time to the fullest.

7. Home

There’s no place like home. For most writers, all the brain action happens within the home or the backyard or patio. Wherever you can sit and enjoy some quiet time to write is the perfect spot.