Author Archives: Judy Baker

About Judy Baker

Judy Baker is a book marketing expert who helps authors sell more books.

Into the Forest is a Goodread

Into the ForestInto the Forest by Jean Hegland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The horrific challenges these people endured and how they were tempered by the fire of their circumstances moved me and kept me turning each page with eagerness.

Jean Hegland paints a dystopian landscape that is painfully close to reality. She creates a strong foundation and builds out the rooms of this story, brick by brick. Her use of language is reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver’s, yet distinctly her own creation.

Relationships are tested, twisted and nearly broken apart, only to heal and become stronger. At its core, it is a story about the love the grows out of the hearts and minds of one family, embodied most clearly in the relationship between the two sisters, Nell, and Eva. They live with their father and free-spirited mother on an isolated farm in a fictionalized location the redwoods of Northern California.

I reveled in the details and patience with which she painted this world. A strong connection to nature permeates the story. The rhythm of her language flows like a strong clear stream. She deftly amplifies the emotional landscape within Nell and Eva contrasting it with their external reality, seasonal transformations that offered bounty and danger in equal measure.

These are unique, smart, quirky people. Each has gifts and blind spots. Through it all, they are enmeshed with each other like the roots of the forest trees and plants that surround them.

It is a coming of age tale of survival. The principal characters are far from perfect. They stumble as they learn how to exist in a world where nothing comes easily except for being true to their innermost selves.

I ached with pain as I read each new struggle. I laughed and wept as the two typical teenage girls discover boys and who they are meant to be. Their lives are turned inside out and yet they find a way to do more than simply exist. These girls are resourceful at times, frightened, and always real.

I could imagine myself in their world where technology and civilization as we know it disintegrates.

It is a well-told tale and left me wanting more.

View all my reviews

Don’t Make This Mistake When You Self-Publish

Open for Business? Don’t Make This Mistake

Cash Only

A friend told me about a bakery she thought had the best bread. Then, she also saw that they were selling New Haven style pizza. But, they didn’t have any set hours posted, and it was serendipitous if you happened upon the bakery when it was open. Don’t make this mistake!

Sometimes an A-frame sandwich board appears on the sidewalk. As I drive by I can see it. I have gone past it several times. I am interested in trying out their bread, and the sign says they have New Haven-style pizza.

Pizza Hours at Garcia's Bakery

I saw the sign today and decided I would overcome my fear that they were only teasing me once again with the promise of being open for business. Traffic was light, so I pulled into the parking lot. I parked my car and walked up to the entrance. 

The time of my visit to the shop was 10:40 a.m. Based on their two signs, the store should have been open. It was closed, as it had been on each of my previous visits to this bakery.

I’d like to do business with them if only I could enter the store and find them open. I’ve had little success even with the newly posted hours of operation. My friend told me that finding them open was a bit random. I may give this business and another chance, but, maybe not. I don’t seem to be able to get there when they are “OPEN FOR BUSINESS.”

Perhaps the law scarcity is at work. I think there is a lack of awareness about serving people and being open and available for them to buy what they have to sell. I am not happy. I was drawn to their bakery by the sandwich board twice. Both times I was disappointed to find the business wasn’t open! Don’t make this mistake when you self-publish.

As an Author, Are You Open For Business?

If you’re wondering what this has to do with you as an author, I’m glad I piqued your curiosity. When you are self-publishing, you need to be open for business. What does that mean?

Here are 12 Things you need to do to be prepared and Open for Business:

  1. Register your name or the name of your publishing company, your online home. It is your domain name, your URL. URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It is the unique address of a web page. Consider registering your name as your primary domain which will allow you to gain recognition as an author and it gives you flexibility as you develop your author platform.
  2. Set up a business bank account. Track all of your expenses for writing, publishing and promoting your work. Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up a book publishing company.
  3. Set up your WordPress site using WordPress.org. The software is free and easy to use. If you aren’t comfortable with technology, many qualified WordPress experts can help you. With WordPress, you can be up and be running in less than an hour. In most cases, you will be able to add new content yourself without needing to hire a consultant.
  4. Pick a theme for your website. There are many free WordPress themes available. There are many professional themes available from a few dollars to around $100. Take a look at the sites and themes offered by Studio Press, WP engine, and Theme Forest. There are themes specifically made for authors. All you need to do is search for a theme that matches your style and your intentions.
  5. Pick an email service provider. Your personal email is for sending out and receiving email one message at a time. A service provider allows you to send out a message to a large number of addresses at a time. You want to build an email list and stay in touch with your audience. Building your list is crucial if you want to sell lots of books! You need an email service provider to send out email messages that are will be delivered. Constant Contact, AWeber, Mail Chimp, GetResponse are among the top email service providers for authors and small businesses. Infusionsoft and Salesforce have more features and can do more than manage your email list, however, they are pricey and probably not what you need when you are just starting out. If you want to read more, look at these are articles that compare and review these email service providers. Some services offer a free trial so you can see if what they offer is a match for what you need and your level of technical skill. Remember, you can always hire an expert to set up and run your email service and campaigns.
  6. Create email opt-in forms for your blog. Every time someone comes to visit your website you want to give them a reason to give you their email. Make it easy, make visible, make it irresistible. Your lead magnet is the content you offer in exchange for your visitor giving you their email address. All of the services listed above will allow you to create a form you can put on your website where visitors can give you permission to send them emails by giving you their email address. Your opt-in is the gateway to growing your email list. Your email list is gold. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting from zero or if you already have an email list with thousands of names. Building an engaged email list will pay off when you publish your book and when you publish your second and third books. You may be planning to offer to coach or provide consulting services related to your book, develop courses, webinars, or sell products and services made by others. When you have an engaged email list, you have the opportunity to give away great content and get to know your audience so that you offer what they want. It gives you a way to develop trust and get feedback.
  7. Your Lead Magnet is a Free Giveaway. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be a list of resources, a list of tips, a collection of articles you authored, and it could be a video, a recording, something that is valuable to your audience. Don’t spend a lot of time creating your giveaway. You can change it later after you have gotten feedback from your audience that tells you more precisely what they want or if they want something else. Think about what you know that other people don’t know and share that information as your lead magnet. Give yourself 24 hours or less to create your free giveaway to attract the kind of readers you want.
  8. Start writing for your blog. Before you publish your blog, right 5 to 10 articles that establish who you are and reveal what people will find on your website. These foundation articles will probably be between 1000 and 2000 words long. They establish your point of view. Don’t be afraid to be controversial. The point of creating these foundation articles is to show how you think, how you write, and your message, your passion, and inspiration and why you write. Remember, you want people to read, follow, and trust you. These articles are like conversations you would have if you were dating your audience. Be authentic, be yourself, and write with intention as you picture who you are writing for and why. When you have your 5 to 10 foundation articles written, edited, and proofed for spelling and grammar, it is time to publish them on your blog. The best foundation articles are timeless also known as evergreen content. If you’re not sure what to write, take a look at authors and thought leaders in your genre. Study what is working for them. It’s okay to learn from others. Modeling your site on a website you enjoy will help you get started. Here are some author blogs that may inspire you:

    http://goinswriter.com

    http://goinswriter.com/intentionalblogging/

    http://timgrahl.com

    http://thebookdesigner.com

    https://janefriedman.com

    http://thecreativepenn.com

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

    http://www.nownovel.com/blog/five-great-writing-tips-from-j-k-rowling/

    http://www.jkrowling.com

    http://markjdawson.com/

    http://www.jamesaltucher.com/

    http://femalefire.org/

    http://www.patriciavdavis.com/

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/

    http://jenniferweiner.blogspot.com/

    http://www.wilwheaton.net/

    http://www.writerswrite.com/authorblogs/

  9. Set up an auto-responder sequence for new subscribers to your email list. Send them a series of emails spaced 3-days apart. Welcome them to your community (your email list). Send them emails with more great content, like a link to one of your foundation articles. This series of emails is known as an auto-responder sequence. Emails go out to your list of subscribers after a particular event occurs or time has elapsed. In this case, you are following up with subscribers who have asked for your lead magnet. You are establishing how you will stay in touch and what they can expect from you.
  10. Look for places where there is already traffic, like the blogs of those who are leaders in your field of interest. If you are new to blogging, it’s likely that you don’t have many people who would be looking for your website, yet. A proven way to gain followers is to publish valuable and exciting content as a guest blogger on a well-read site. Pick a site that has a similar audience to the one you want to build. Follow that blog and begin by reading the type of content that is published there. Contribute comments that add value to the conversation. Contact the blog owner by email and let them know how much you appreciate their blog. Let them know you would be interested in providing a guest post and why you think it would be of interest to their readers. Ask if that would be of interest and thank them again for inspiring you. Follow up until you get either a yes or no about providing a guest post. Some blogs have guest posting guidelines and policies posted. Do this with 5 to 10 of your favorite blogs. Guest posting great content with an “author box” that includes your website address can help you grow your audience quickly.
  11. Include a link to your blog on any social channels where you have a public profile and always include a link back to your blog when you publish on other websites.
  12. Each time you add new information to your blog, include a link to your blog post in status updates on your social channels. Don’t make yourself crazy. You can be very successful using one or two social channels persistently. It isn’t necessary to be on all of the social channels. Pick the ones where you audience is most active. If you aren’t sure which ones are best for you, observe the types of conversations that are taking place and who is participating. Join a group and be respectful and generous. People gravitate to those who are helpful. None of us what to be sold. Focus on building trust.
  13. Include a link to your website on printed materials, like business cards, posters, postcards, bookmarks. Make it easy for people to find you.
  14. Social channels where you are likely to find your audience:
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
    • Pinterest
    • YouTube
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
    • Google+
    • Goodreads
    • iTunes (Podcasts)
  15.  Include a digital media kit on your website. Include professional photographs of you for download by news outlets and event planners. Speaking is a way to promote your expertise and will help sell more books.

http://www.theblogmaven.com/media-kit-examples/ 

https://www.pinterest.com/twelveskip/media-kit-design-examples/

http://www.twelveskip.com/guide/blogging/1160/how-to-make-media-kit-and-why-need-it

http://www.twelveskip.com/guide/blogging/1396/media-kit-templates

http://monetizepros.com/ad-sales/seven-examples-of-media-kits-that-make-it-rain/

http://www.mixhart.ca/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Musings-Media-Kit-print.pdf

http://www.shoutmeloud.com/best-media-kit-examples-inspiration.html

http://thebrandmagnet.com/

https://www.shopify.com/blog/44447941-how-to-create-a-press-kit-that-gets-publicity-for-your-business

Joan Stewart, aka “The Publicity Hound” offers expert tips for setting up your online media kit, https://publicityhound.com/blog/author-media-kit-include-8-essential-items.

A good example to emulate once you have published your book, http://www.thebookdesigner.com/companion/media-kit/. It includes:

• An image of the book cover
• Press Release
• Author photo
• Author Bio
• Sample interview with Joel Friedlander
• Sample chapter from the book, A Self-Publishers Companion
• Plus a link to a download of everything in the entire media kit
• The book information (publisher, ISBN’s, ASIN for Kindle), about the author, testimonials and purchase information

Ready, Set, Open for Business

As you can see, there is a lot to do before you are ready to open up your publishing business and launch your author website. The good news, you don’t have to do it alone, and you don’t have to do it all in one day.

Get Started

I recommend you start by taking some time where you are undisturbed and write down all of your ideas on a sheet of paper or use mind mapping software for your brain dump. Just let it all out.

  1. Brainstorming
  2. Review all of your thoughts and ideas and organize them.
  3. Prioritize your goals.
  4. Create a step-by-step action place of what you will do and what you need to accomplish your goals.
  5. Work your plan.
  6. Make adjustments along the way.
  7. Get help if you need it.
  8. Open a business bank account.
  9. Write 5-10 foundation articles.
  10. Get your domain name.
  11. Set-up WordPress.
  12. Post your foundation articles.
  13. Create a lead magnet.
  14. Sign up for an email service provider.
  15. Create an auto-responder series to deliver your lead magnet and follow up with subscribers to your email list.
  16. Add an opt-in form to your website.
  17. Launch your website.
  18. Post updates on social channels that link back to your website.
  19. Publish guest posts on other blog sites with traffic.
  20. Keep writing on a regular basis.
  21. Stay in touch with your audience.
  22. Ask people what they want and give it to them.

Make a plan, set a goal, set a date and get started.

Writing your foundation articles will probably take the most time. Setting up your email opt-in forms and choosing and using an email service provider is critical, and will also take a bit of time. Once it is set up, your autoresponder series will work for you every hour of every day and help you to grow your email list.

You can get help with any or all of the steps listed

Even some of the most successful people with large followings didn’t get it right the first time. Jeff Goins will tell you all the things he did wrong with his first blog. He learned from his mistakes, and now he helps other people avoid the potholes and pitfalls he encountered on the way to building his following.

My advice to you is get ready to open your virtual doors. Announce that you are open using email, social channels, and traditional media channels. Let people know how to stay in touch and when they can reach you. You will probably change things once you get started and get feedback from your audience. With the freedom to improve and adjust built into WordPress, you can get started now and keep improving as you learn.

Don’t make the same mistake as this bakery. They may have a good product, but I haven’t been able to experience it yet. They may never win me over as a customer because I have been disappointed so many times. This situation could turn out to be a very costly mistake when you multiply my experience by all of the other people who have been eager to buy but couldn’t find the right time to connect with the bakery. The bakery has been very effective at putting up barriers to my becoming a customer. I wonder if they know they have lost business because of their behavior? I can’t tell them because so far, they are never open when I expect them to be!

Marketing is a conversation

Get Ready and Open for Business. Let’s talk about how to get people talking about you!

Amazon Success Toolkit is the Easy Way To Self-Publish

Amazon Success Toolkit

Amazon Success Toolkit takes the fear out of self-publishing

Were you ever freaked out by all of the hoops you need to jump through when you publish on Amazon? No more. Check out the Amazon Success Toolkit. Now you have step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process of successfully publishing your print book, ebook or audio book.

You’ll also see how to master your Author Central account. And there’s more. You get checklists and worksheets that will help you sell more books on Amazon.

It looks like another home run toolkit from Tracy Atkins and Joel Friedlander over at authortoolkits.

Amazon Can Be Complicated

There are many choices to make when you self-publish on Amazon. You want to get it right and yet there are terms you may not understand. The Success Toolkit will give you the confidence to get your book ready and start selling.

Instead of worrying about all the things you don’t know, it is a relief to have a proven system that works guiding you, every step of the way.

 

Value and Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day

Value and Celebrate Independent Bookstore DayBuy a Book

April 30 is Independent Bookstore Day. If you are lucky enough to live near an independent bookstore, you are fortunate. There is a great indie store just off the plaza of downtown Sonoma, Readers’ Books. It is a hub for creative expression that goes beyond books. Random Acts is a monthly gathering hosted at the store where people read stories, poetry, sing, perform, and most import of all, it is a celebration of art and community.
Other nearby independent bookstores include Copperfield’s Books (with nine stores), and Book Passages (two locations). Both of these stores honor and independent authors and host a variety of events in support of writers.

Tips to Help you Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day

You can find a complete list of Independent Bookstores in Northern California at the NCIBA website, home of The Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. There is even a map to show stores across the U.S. At indiemap.bookweb.org

There is a whole website in honor of the day at http://www.indiebookstoreday.com/

Local Bookstores are Gathering Places

Reader’s Books, Copperfield’s and Book Passage are gathering places for writers and readers. My favorite stores provide a cozy atmosphere, encouraging me to hang out and commune with books. Books are alive, tangible, tactile, enticing, mysterious, wise, funny, friendly, informative, captivating, connections to myself and others, passports to strange and wondrous places, comforting, disturbing, revealing, guides and roadmaps to new and familiar places. Books are bundles of knowledge and emotion, with secrets waiting on each page. Successful stores host events and enrich the community.

Lifelong Love of Books

I love books. I can’t remember a time when I was not reading something. As a child, I made weekly trips to the library with my father. I treasured these times and struggled with the limited number of books I could check out each trip. It was hard to pick which books to possess and which ones to leave behind until next time.

When I migrated north to San Francisco, I was fascinated by the quirky bookstores throughout the City. I replaced long hours in the library with searching and sampling books at local bookstores.

Whenever I travel, I love to see the books featured by the local independent bookstores. I found a charming bookstore in New Orleans, the Garden District Bookshop. It is a bright and sunny spot, filled with people, books and lots of books by local authors.  http://www.gardendistrictbookshop.com/ 

Writers Create and Read Books

I live in a creative community populated by writers, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, chefs, performers, artists and entrepreneurs of all kinds. The air sizzles with ideas. It is a complex, many-layered, innovative and textured community. We are fiercely loyal to our independence and independent businesses, like bookstores. The authors who live here support our gem of a bookstore. Authors are passionate and voracious readers. I think this appetite is part of what drives them to write.

Value and Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day

Show Independent Bookstores You Care on April 30, 2016. Support these hubs of thought. Go out and buy a book for yourself. Splurge and get one for a friend.

If you have a favorite Independent Bookstore, please share it with me.

Smartphone Tripod Tip

Smartphone Tripod Tip Gives New Life to Older Tech and Their Accessories

A smartphone tripod is a must have accessory for making movies of yourself.

What to Do with the Old Stuff

I am in the midst of spring cleaning. Before I pitch stuff or give it away, I look for ways to repurpose it.

Will It Hold?

I have two older handsfree phone holders for my car. When I updated to an iPhone 6s Plus, I kept my iPhone 5s. I retired both of these phone accessories. My new phone doesn’t fit either of them due to its larger size. I was curious if I could use either holder as a tripod with my iPhone 5s.

Experiment #1

Stick-on mount smartphone holder

The device mounts to your dashboard. I was never satisfied with it, and the sticky stuff rapidly lost its stickiness. Adhesive plus a warm car interior do not make for a good outcome. Before looking for a way to reactivate the stick ’em, I thought it would be wise to see if this was a tripod substitute.

I did a short test where I anchored the holder with a cabinet door keeping it in place. It could work. This holder has some limitations for a smartphone tripod. It is stiff; repositioning is difficult, and it has a limited range of angles. Putting the phone in landscape mode is a push. If I were going to place this in one spot on a more or less permanent basis, I could see using it as a tripod replacement.

I give it a rating of 3 out of 5 stars.

Experiment #2

side view of a handsfree car phone holder back view of a handsfree car phone holder

smartphone tripod made from a handsfree phone holder

The second holder attaches to the car with hooks that fit into the air vents. You can see that it works as a tripod out of the car.

I rate this option 4 out of 5 stars.

Real Smartphone Tripods for Extra Large Phones

I found possibilities that work with larger smartphones. Some require an adapter that attaches to the tripod.

Joby makes a GripTight GorillaPod Stand that fits most smartphones and small tablets. Phones with or without a case between 2.7-3.9in (69-99mm) wide will fit the GripTight XL.

It fits these phones: iPhone 6 Plus, 6S Plus, Samsung Galaxy S 5, Samsung Galaxy Note, Nokia Lumia 1520, and more.

GripTight for XL-sized phones

Joby-GripTight-GorillaPod-Stand

 

You can find it on Amazon.

If you want a bit more control and flexibility, look at this model from Joby.

GripTight GorillaPod Hybrid For Smartphones

Joby-GripTight-Hybrid tripod

Mount and flexible tripod with integrated ball head for your iPhone, Android, or Windows phone.

Check their product guide to see what works for each brand and phone size.

More Tripods

I haven’t used these myself, but they look like possibilities. Parts of the hardware may look familiar to you if you have or have ever seen a selfie-stick.


My Advice is to Make Movies and Share Them

Get a smartphone tripod or an adapter and use it with your always handy cell phone, new or old, to take videos. The investment is small and will yield better videos. Build an inventory of short and long movies you can share on your website, on YouTube, via Facebook, in LinkedIn, or via Vimeo.

A video is an excellent way to connect with your audience and let them get to know you. Let me what you think of my video.

8 Tips for Getting Book Reviews

8 Tips for Getting Book Reviews

Step One is to find reviewers.

Some authors don’t realize they can to go out and find people who like to review books. There are many places to locate potential reviewers, and most of them won’t cost you a penny beyond your investment of time. Here are my eight tips for getting book reviews for your amazing book.

8 Tips for Getting Book ReviewsTip #1: The Book Review Directory

I just discovered The Book Review Directory. It is a website where reviewers can sign up, and authors can list their books. Most books have a direct link to where it can you can purchase them.

Authors can buy paid ads too.

Over 125 Book Reviewer bloggers are listed here. Books are classified by genre.

All in all, it is worth exploring this site to find reviewers for your books.

Tip #2: Rave Reviews Book Club

There is a small annual membership fee, $25, for this group. It is a supportive group of authors reviewing and buying books by other authors in the group. They have an online catalog, contests, a virtual book club, spotlight authors, member of the month and other ways to get noticed and to promote your books. It may not be the prettiest website from a visual standpoint, but what it lacks in visual design it more than makes up for in the wholehearted support for participating self-publishers.

https://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/join-here/

Rave Reviews Book Club started on Facebook.

Tip #3: Choosy Bookworm

Choosy Bookworm has a “Read & Review Program” that allows an author to give away an ebook in exchange for an honest review on Amazon / Goodreads. They have over 60,000 subscribers to their Daily Deals Newsletter, 7,200+ Twitter followers (@choosybookworm), and 14,700+ Choosy Bookworm Facebook Fans. They also have paid options for promoting your ebook to their readers.

Tip #4: Reader’s Favorite

Reader’s Favorite offers free book reviews which they will post on some of the top trade and social media sites. They will create an online Review Page for your book where they will post all four and five stars reviews. They do not guarantee that they will select your book, and it may take up to 3 months. They offer Paid Review services that range in price from $59 – $199.

You can participate in the Monthly Book Giveaway program by providing a free copy or your book to the contest winner.

Tip #5: Underground Book Reviews

Underground Book Reviews focuses on independently published books. They don’t charge to review and only accept the following types of books:

  • Novels and novellas of all genres
  • Adult, young adult and middle-grade fiction
  • Self-published and independently published fiction

Although they do not review them, they will still list these books on their site)

  • Non-fiction
  • Memoir
  • Children’s books
  • Short story compilations
  • Graphic Novels
  • Poetry compilations

They offer advertising opportunities on their website for a fee.

You must become a subscriber to submit a book for review. You will receive their e-zine, book reviews, interviews and articles in a weekly email.

You can become a Premium Member for 99 cents a year.

There is a directory of members which includes authors and publishing professionals.

Tip #6: The American Library Association Booklist

  • www.ala.org/booklist, The American Library Association Booklist Publications, includes an archive of over 160,000 reviews which they make available to their subscribers. An excellent resource for authors and independent publishers. You can submit books for consideration before being published. Click here for instructions to submit your book.

Tip #7: Reader’s Circle

www.readerscircle.org has over 200,000 readers. You can find or start a book club with help from this site. Authors can promote their books by paying a one-time fee of $70.

Authors can add their events to the Reader’s Circle calendar.

https://www.facebook.com/readers.circle/

Tip #8: BookLife

BookLife.com is a website from Publishers Weekly dedicated to indie authors. The site provides a free and easy way to submit self-published books to Publishers Weekly for review and offers editorial content—success stories, interviews, author profiles, how-to pieces, news, and features—geared toward helping indie authors achieve their goals. Whether an author focuses on writing and editing, art and design, or marketing and distribution, BookLife has valuable resources that can help along the way.

I agree they offer lots of great resources for indie authors. When you arrive on their landing page, you will find a great big button that looks like this:

booklife free services

Bonus Tips: Online Book Clubs

WellRead Book Club

www.wellread.org/the-club/well-read-book-club/ has a TV show where they feature one book a month. Members can post comments and reviews. You can request an interview and get more information about Well Read from producer@wellread.org.

Online Book Club

onlinebookclub.org is a free site for readers where you apply to have your book reviewed.

Goodreads Groups

www.goodreads.com/group You can search for reviewers, join groups and so much more. Amazon owns Goodreads. Goodreads is the place for avid readers and reviewers. You can put out a request for reviewers. Free to join.

Here are two articles about joining online book clubs:

Should You Join an Online Book Club? Hell, Yes. By Catherine McKenzie, published in Huffington Post

Online Book Clubs: Talk That Stays on the Page  By Judy Abel in The New York Times

Get Book Reviews for Your Amazing Book

Go out there and get book reviews. Then, post a comment about your results with these resources or share recommendations for other places to find reviewers.

self talk

Self Talk is Your “Get Out of Jail Free” Card

Self Talk is Your Get Out of Jail Free Card

Have you ever felt like you were stuck? Maybe you wanted to change something in your life. Yet, every time you said that today would be different, pesky old habits showed up. You stayed right where you have always been. Your self talk sabotaged you.

I discovered a way to change the rules. Instead of being stuck, I found out how to use my mind to get my heart’s desire.

Self talk is your get out of jail free card or your prison

Our brains believe everything we tell them.You can change the story and change your results.

If you tell yourself you aren’t good at something, your brain will believe you. If you tell yourself you are good at something, your brain will believe you. So, program you brain with the outcome you want instead of the one you have had up to now.

Be the Change You Want to See

I began with a small investment of time and vision. It has transformed my experience. You can break free of what was and have a better life when you follow this recipe.

For almost a month I start every day with two powerful practices:

  1. The Daily Clean Your House Flow
  2. Reading a set of affirmations

As a result of my doing these two things, I am experiencing changes in how I look and feel. I am happy to report that my energy level is soaring. I wake up with a sense of excitement and anticipation for all that I will do each day. I am happier than I have ever been. I am approaching difficult situations and projects with confidence. I know that I will find a way to solve every problem before me.

What Changed?

I am a regular practitioner of the Daily Clean Your House Flow. I have done this flow every morning for many years. It is a simple, 9-step energy flow that I learned from Deborah Myers. Deborah is founder of Health at Your Fingertips and Daily Clean Your House Flow. “Jumper Cables” are my go to practice when I need an energy boost. If my body to goes into reaction, like being at the dentist or getting chemotherapy, they calm me. I use it when I fly and I never have jet lag as a result. I do the entire flow when I wake up and right before bed too. Doing it before I go to sleep helps me sleep better. I sleep deeper and I rested when I awake. I have had trouble sleeping most of my life. I used to be restless and worried at bedtime. I would struggle to fall asleep and staying asleep. Now I am asleep in minutes and if I wake up, I fall right back to sleep.

The Daily Clean Your House Flow resets my body’s energy system, like resetting the breaker when there is a blown out fuse in your house. It keeps me feeling alert when I need to be and restful when that is mode I want to be in. It only takes about 10-minutes to go through all of the steps and I can do it anywhere. I think it is wonderful that I can give myself so much love and self-care any time, anywhere.

Resetting My Brain

I attended a workshop with Steven C. Campbell, the Mind Whisper a few weeks ago. I first met Steven about three years ago when he came to speak at a meeting of the Bay Area Consultants Network, BACN. Steven is a master at creating the world he wants to live in and showing others how to do the same.

The second change came about as a result of attending a workshop with Steven C. Campbell, the Mind Whisper. I first met Steven about three years ago when he came to speak at a meeting of the Bay Area Consultants Network, BACN. Steven is a master at creating the world he wants to live in and showing others how to do the same. His book on this topic, Making Your Mind Magnificent – Flourishing at Any Age.

I attended a workshop he based on the book. I learned how to get my mind to work for me, not against me. He demonstrated how to create powerful affirmations and how to use them. The old thinking about affirmations has changed. I learned about affirmations from Shakti Gawain’s groundbreaking books and tapes. I still have my copies of Living in the Light and Creative Visualization. We thought that repetition implanted affirmations. Affirmations would become a mantra. It turns out that repetition actually doesn’t work. It puts our brains to sleep, not into action. Our brains need to replace our current self-image with a stronger picture. We assimilate affirmations that show us a new reality. Picturing the change we want to see as if it already true. Charging the visualization with positive emotions seals the deal. His book is a great guide to the workings of the mind.


I won’t reveal my affirmations here. They are private and only matter to me. I will reveal that I put my affirmations in writing. Steven helped me improve what I started with. I printed two sets of my affirmations. I placed one set near my makeup mirror and another in a spot I see every morning. I read them to myself in a slow, calm fashion. Almost immediately, I noticed a shift in my energy. This good feeling is now part of how I see myself.

I’ve gotten traction in n the weeks since I committed my goals to paper.  Projects that had been stuck in the “good idea” mode for a long while are moving forward. And, as I said earlier, I am happier than I have ever been.

Change Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

By putting these practices into place, I changed the way I look and feel. I made a minimal investment of time and almost no effort. I am somewhat lazy when it comes to making changes. These two practices are painless and come with big rewards. They appeal to my lazy brain and they work even if I don’t know how or why. By putting these two practices into action, I am seeing big changes. Friends have commented that there is a glow about me. I have noticed it too.

More and more, my clothes are a bit looser than before. I have more pep and I my concentration is better. I recommend putting these two practices into your toolkit. It doesn’t have to be painful to get what you want when you put your mind to it.

Learn How to Feel Good Every Day with Deborah Myers

Energy Care Balance GuideYou can learn from Deborah Myers too. She has a workshop coming up in Santa Rosa. She will teach you the Daily Clean Your House Flow. It is an entry-level workshop that covers self-help acupressure techniques. She is the author of The Energy Balancing Care Guide which is used in the workshop. She also is the mastermind behind the Daily Clean Your House Flow toolkits. These are resources that will help you feel better every day.

Making Your Mind Magnificent is a great investment in creating the live you desire. I hope you will get a copies of these books for yourself.

Change Your Story for a Different Result

You can write a new story for yourself. In the past you may have had a fear of public speaking. Now you know you can rewrite your story and enjoy speaking and sharing about your book. What ever the challenge, you can rewrite the conversation and change the outcome.

Self talk is your get out of jail free card. Use it to get what you want now.

Self talk is your get out of jail free card. What happened before today doesn’t have write the script for what happens going forward. Start now. You have the power to write a happy ending for yourself. Your happy new life begins when you change the conversation. It’s up to you.

How to Easily Improve Your Writing with the Right App

Typewriter deconstructed

Easily Improve Your Writing – There’s an App for that!

Writing Tools for Authors Compared

Scrivener

My long standing favorite writing tool is Scrivener. It is a comprehensive tool that has helped me improve my writing. I am using it right now. It is my go to writing tool. I like it because:

  • I can gather information in one place
  • It syncs to Dropbox (no worries about losing content)
  • Designed for writers
  • It is easy to organize projects
  • I can add hyperlinks
  • I can import files from other programs (Microsoft Word)
  • Editing is a breeze
  • Built-in tools that make it easy to save and share what I write in Scrivener
  • I can find templates for just about any kind of writing project
  • The spelling and grammar features work well
  • I can customize the interface
  • It works

I started using Scrivener 4 years ago. My writing coach, Amber Starfire, revealed this wonderful tool. I immediately put it into my repertoire. Scrivener has a downside: Literature and Latte promised an iOS version of the program in 2012. We are still waiting in 2016. There are other iOS apps that can stand in for Scrivener and I will tell you about them next.

Textilus

This is a powerhouse app that helps you improve your writing. Most note programs are fine for short bits. Most of them lack serious formatting tools. Enter Textilus, which comes in a free and a pro version. I downloaded the free version to see how it performs. I used it for the first time yesterday and I like what I see. Textilus has formatting options like those in Apple Notes. Did you know that if you log out of your iCloud account, you will lose those notes saved to iCloud?

Textilus has the full power of a desktop app like Microsoft Word. It is isn’t perfect. You can choose where you will save or share your files. It connects with Dropbox, via email, iCloud or other cloud-based services. I imported the notes file I saved to Dropbox in RTF (Rich Text Format) into Scrivener. The file naming part of the app is a bit weak, but without looking at any help files or a manual, I figured it out.

Did I mention that is PC/MAC compatible? You can save to these formats:

  • Universal RTF and PDF based document file formats
  • RTF , RTFD , PDF , ePUB, Plain text, PNG and HTML

This is where it shows how powerful it is:

  • Auto-Syncing With iCloud Drive, Dropbox , Google Drive, Box, Scrivener, Evernote
  • Includes automated document syncing with most popular cloud services
  • Open-in email attachments. Send many documents in the same email
  • Open-in your Textilus documents with other apps

I say you will be happy if you use this app on your smart phone or tablet. You can get from the iTunes App Store

Hemingway

“Hemingway App makes your writing bold and clear.” That is a powerful statement. Just what I am looking for to easily improve my writing. I started my journey with this app recently. Lisa LaMagna is set to share this app at the next meeting of the Bay Area Consultants Network.  We have a segment, Life Hacks, where we share tools and resources that make life better.

I was curious about this app. I have a tendency to write over long sentences and this is an app that is training me to write cleaner and better. It highlights the different types of issues that are common to writers:

Yellow: hard to read rating.

Red: hard to read

Purple: Phrase has a simpler alternative

Blue: Adverb. Remove it

Green: Use of passive voice.

I ran my paragraph about Hemingway through the app and it told me that my sentence about Life Hacks is hard to read. I got a grade of 7 (good). I plan to draft my writing in Scrivener, then run it through Hemingway to see where I can improve. It come in a desktop and browser edition.

Poetica

Carla King shared this app at the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. Poetic is available from https://poetica.com/.  It is a WordPress plugin. It allows you to collaborate, markup your writing, from within WordPress. I plan to start using this with my clients. It will save us from having to send a slew of emails and the pain of using Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Everything in one place. Sounds cool. I will report back on how well this works.

More Choices

Here are additional apps to consider, depending on your style or writing focus:

  • Storyist for Mac OS X is a tool for novelists and screenwriters. www.storyist.com
  • Ulysses for Mac and iPad, www.ulysses.com/mac offers a clutter-free writing environment. An iOS version is available or you can sync with Daedalus Touch. Uylsses using a library for storing documents, which is like the binder in Scrivener. You can save your documents to iCloud, Dropbox or in your MacFinder. It has a Markdown sidebar were you can add web and e-pub friendly formatting. Ulysses includes tools you may already know and love, such as word and character count. You can export to PDF, Word, RTF, TXT and ePub.  $44.99 from the Mac App Store. If you write on the desktop and on your iOS devices, you will enjoy Ulysses. It includes auto-backup, smart lists, text-to-speech and themes. $19.99 for the iPad. This looks like what Scrivener promised and has yet to deliver for iOS.
  • Daedalus App lets you write on your iOS devices. It includes a built-in web browser. I was impress by these formatting features: dynamic size and kerning. These are features usually reserved for full-blown page layout programs like InDesign.
  • Write for Mac is a note taking and markdown writing app, writeapp.net/mac/. It and features tags which you can sync in the cloud with all your devices. Sync documents and folders in more than one location: iCloud, Dropbox, and Google Drive. You can add tags and it supports Markdown. Sharing is possible using AirDrop, Messages, Twitter, Facebook and it offers HTML previews. It comes in a desktop ($9.99) and iOS version ($1.99).
  • Writer for Mac, https://ia.net/writer/mac/ makes writing for websites, apps and videos easy. It comes in a free and pro version ($19.99). It syncs with iCloud and Dropbox, export to pdf or html, to and from Word.
  • For bloggers, check into MarsEdit, which is one of the priciest of the apps at $40. It looks and feels like Scrivener. MarsEdit supports WordPress and other popular blogging platforms like Tumblr and TypePad. Like Scrivener, you can embed url links, with the addition of images and header formats. You write in WYSIWYG and it converts to HTML automatically.

Headline Helpers

“On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.” – DAVID OGILVY

This is a special category of writing. Headlines are an invitation to your audience. If your headline is boring, nobody will read the rest of your stuff. If you write blog posts, articles stories, you would do well to check into one or more of these headline analyzer tools.

I use to  these apps to write better headlines and titles. Two of them are free to use browser-based analyzers. The third is a paid desktop app with some unique features that make it worth the investment.

Advanced Marketing Institute Headline Analyzer

“Paste your headline in the text area below. The analysis engine will automatically cut your submission at 20 words, so we encourage you to do a word count before submitting! This will ensure the most accurate analysis.three areas:, Intellectual, Empathetic, Spiritual.

Scores are shown for each area and how you compare to expert copywriters. Using this tool will easily improve your writing.

http://www.aminstitute.com/

Coschedule Headline Analyzer

This analyzer has a different way of looking at your headlines. You paste in your headline and you are given a letter grade. This tools gives you an analysis of the overall structure, grammar, and readability of your headline.

  • Common
  • Uncommon
  • Emotional
  • Power

It shows the make-up of your headline: common words, uncommon words, emotional words, and power words. It shows the number of characters and words used in your headline too. The counts are helpful for SEO. It shows the keywords used in your headline.

http://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer

These headline analyzers differ in focus. Using them has helped me write attention grabbing headlines. I primarily use them for blog post titles and for email subject lines.

Fresh Title

This is a paid program. It includes swipe files and up to the minute results about what titles are getting viewers. Results are based on Google and Bing searches. It also possible to see what headlines/titles are trending in real time. You can see the keywords in the headlines.  I can save my own headlines for future reference. This is a timesaver for generating headlines that you know will work. MAC and PC compatible.

http://freshtitle.com/

There are many choices and my advice is…

I haven’t even touched on many of the specialty writing tools available. When evaluating apps, I begin with the  features I need, then I look at what else is possible. Being able access my files on any device is a “must have” for me. I use Scrivener when I am on my desktop. Before starting this article, I was unaware of some of the other writing tools available and may be switching over to one of these newer powerhouse apps.

My main purpose in seeking a good writing app is is to make my mobile note taking easier. My list of needs:

  • taking notes at meetings
  • blogging (drafts and editing)
  • prepare presentations
  • workshop materials
  • compose sales copy
  • Developing course materials

I was all set to buy Textilus Pro. After researching writing apps for this article, I am considering a move to Ulysses for my iPad. I like the features of Write and Writer too. My advice is to try out the apps you are considering if possible and many offer a free trial or have a free version and a paid version.

I almost forgot, another app I use on my iPad and iPhone: Index Card 4 – Corkboard Writing App. It uses note cards for each of your files, just as you find in Scrivener. You can reorder the cards and it rearranges your content. You move your writing around just as if you were using paper notecards. Index Card syncs with Scrivener which is how I can to use it. It is a stand in for the long-promised iOS version of Scrivener. You can save and share documents as RTF, TXT, PDF, Scrivener, Notecard, and OPML format. $4.99 available from iTunes and from the developer’s website: http://www.denvog.com/.

 

Markdown Defined

Markdown is code. Browsers need instructions to know how to display text and media.

Web pages and e-publications are built with html Markdown. It identifies the parts of a page: paragraphs, headings, lists, links, images,and tables.

Learn more about Markdown at Markdown Cheatsheet.

Write Better

Go out and use one or more of these tools and write better. I’d love to hear which one you are using and why you like it.

Queen Bee Catherine Sevenau

Queen Bee Catherine Sevenau

Queen Bee Catherine Tells Us Why She Writes

Catherine Sevenau mused, why write? She created quite a buzz with the launch of her book, Queen Bee. Once again, she filled the space at Reader’s Books in Sonoma with friends, family, fellow writers, and excitement.

I captured the Queen as she filled us in on why she writes:


Catherine read excerpts from the second installment in her memoir. She began with “Why Write” and set the tone for many great stories.

She choose tales that brought laughter to the crowd. Grandchildren, Satchel and Temple, shared the stage with Queen Bee Catherine. They also share winning smiles, dimples, a command of the room. I appreciate they each have a wry sense of humor too.

Well done.

Queen Bee’s Creative Hive

Catherine belongs to several creative groups, including BAIPA, the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. She and I often carpool to the meetings in Novato, where we learn about changes in the industry and best practices for publishing and marketing books. I was fortunate to work with Catherine on marketing for her first book, Behind These Doors.  She is a talented woman.

Find out more about these books and Catherine at www.sevenau.com