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Want to Be a Published Writer? Five Things You Can Do

I am a writer. It started when I discovered books, paper, pencils and school. The word writer is friendly and easy, not pompous and full of expectations like author or blogger.

I believe everyone is a writer because we spend our days telling stories to ourselves (although many of them are not true) about ourselves and the world around us.  Sadly, many of us never write our stories down where others can be informed, inspired, and empowered by them.

I believe so much in the power of writing that I now encourage others to write and even publish their work, not to necessarily become best sellers, but to become “tellers” before they die.

Having said all that, I confess that my inner critic, Susie, still tries to discourage my writing. When she shows up I send her to the corner.

Which is why we need like-minded encouragers, supporters and sounding boards. That has been the great gift of social media. Where else and when else in history can you share your thoughts and ideas or post your inquiries with people from the around the world 24/7? For all our complaining about the pervasiveness of social media, it is a miraculous opportunity. And when combined with local networks and events, we arm ourselves with the resources and  tools we need for success.

Five things to do to become a (better) writer.

1. Create a community.

You can do this on LinkedIn, Meetup or Facebook.  On all these sites, decide your goal for joining the group. Then find groups that have active and robust memberships. Once you join, participate by offering valuable information, not making a pitch for your products.

2. Join a tribe.

I joined Triberr.com and GutsieIndiePublishers online, and a Southern California group called Publishers and Writers of San Diego. Not only have I met many fine writers, editors and publishers, but have discovered many new resources and techniques as well.

Perhaps you will benefit from a tribe that writes in your genre, such as the National Association of Memoir Writers, where you can have access to loads of resources, as well as learn from active memoir writers who share their experiences and tips on the member teleconferences.

3. Participate in a challenge.

I’ve been in blogging challenges and article challenges.  I’ve participated in a writing challenge created by Jeff Goins and a blog challenge by Michelle Shaeffer, to name a few. Though most writing challenges offer prizes, that is not the point. My motivation is to sharpen my skills and get to know other writers.  Some of the writers I’ve met in these challenges have become friends, colleagues and even joint venture partners.

4. Read.

Reading broadens you, gives you another perspective and sparks new ideas.

In his article,  “Stephen King’s 20 Tips for Becoming a Frighteningly Good Writer,” Jon Morrow captures King’s key wisdom and then adds commentary of his own regarding becoming a successful blogger.

  Stephen King said

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Jon said

Of course, most bloggers do neither. We start a blog, squeeze in the occasional post between going to the gym and picking up take-out, and then expect it to somehow lead to fame and fortune.

Sorry, but that’s not how it works. Every popular blogger I know reads at least one book every week and writes at least 1,000 words every day.

Yes, it’s a lot, but success comes at a price, folks. Are you willing to pay it?

5. Respect the revision process.

I urge you to hire or convince someone else to edit your work before you publish it. Then use their notes to make revisions. That’s why I urge my clients to get their first drafts done as fast as possible so they can get to the real work of writing: revision.

Revision is not optional. It is actually the most important part of the writing process. It’s when you shape, tone up and hone your thoughts.

 “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”James Michener

You may have submitted your first and only drafts in high school English, and maybe even in college. But publishing your article and book for the public is a different story. They won’t be as forgiving as Miss Lewis (my  10th grade English teacher–Wait! she wasn’t that forgiving either.)

Your job as a writer is to make your ideas flow smoothly to eliminate (or at least minimize) jerks and jumps in the story you tell.

And for those of you who insist on doing your own proofreading, (gasp!) at least heed this advice.

“If you’re going to proofread your own work, do it from back to front,” says Neal Wooten

Some of the advice I’ve shared is best suited for people who want to make a living from writing or blogging.  That may not be you.

Perhaps you want to be an occasional writer for whom just getting your work into print is the reward. Or maybe you want to use your writing to springboard your speaking career or leave a legacy for your grandkids or  make just enough euros to pay for your lattes when you travel.

Whatever your goal, by doing these five things you will not only be a writer, but a better one for sure.

Does the idea of writing appeal to you, but you need help with getting started or back in gear? An easy way to get into the swing is to get my 4-week e-course, “Rockin’ My Book.” Once enrolled you will receive a lesson in your email each week with loads of content and suggested activitives. Get the e-course details here. You’ll get a gentle push, but no pressure. Email me with your questions throughout the course. Get the e-course now. 

 

 

Be an Adventurer, Not a Tourist: Starting Your Writing Journey

An adventurer steps out to answer the call of her heart, never knowing for sure where the journey will take her, but willing to go all the same.

A tourist insists on the sure path, worn deep by those who went before.

The adventurer is willing to follow uncharted paths and make her own way.

When you begin your writing journey, you begin with an itinerary, a destination, and a set of tools, but as you encounter new directions, you explore those as well.

You must trust even when you’re not sure and enjoy the full spectrum of sights and sounds on your writing journey.

Adventurers are people like:

  • Wayne Dyer
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Leonardo de Vinci
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Seth Godin
  • Admiral Byrd

and YOU!

Adventurers blaze new trails, enter new fields, follow the clues in their path and as a result, solve elusive mysteries and discover new lands.

Begin your writing journey with an itinerary. Learn the rules. Observe what others have done. Then forge your own pathway, painting your story using the hues of inspiration that will propel you along the way.

Only an adventurer like you can write your story the way you can write it.

And somewhere someone is waiting to read your book exactly the way you have written it.

If you are ready to go, I’d love to be your travelling companion to make your writing journey a fun trip with a soft landing.
Send me an email with “Ready” in the subject line along with your phone number and best time to call. I will call you within 24 hours.

I’m going over to check for your email right now.

 

 

 

Spice Up Your Book with a Recipe

When you set out to write your book, you have ideas, steps, encouragement and more that you want to share. The easier you make it for the reader to grasp your key points, the better. Try adding a recipe to spice up your book.

Almost any book can benefit from a recipe metaphor. All you need is a theme or objective, some ingredients and directions on how to mix them together. The beauty of recipes is that they are user friendly and we can understand them. Even a technical topic could benefit from being expressed as a recipe.

Your recipe could list general ingredients.

A book on happiness, for example, could list what researchers have discovered about the traits of happy people

  • gratitude
  • help others
  • believe in a higher power
  • practice being quiet and still from time to time
  • laugh
  • choose activities you enjoy
  • hang out with happy people
  • avoid toxic people

Your recipe could identify quantities of each ingredient.

A book on living a healthy life, for example, could list

  • 5 fruits and vegetables daily
  • 30 minutes of brisk exercise at least 4 times a week
  • 8 hours of sleep nightly
  • one ounce of water for every pound of weight

Your recipe can take on many forms. It’s important to remember that this is your recipe and therefore can be constructed whatever way you wish. Opinions vary on how much we need of anything, so you get to be the expert with your recipe.

You can construct your ingredients from the tips, steps and points you already share. Then be sure to discuss how those ingredients go together to yield the “dish” you are promoting.

Your recipe might be a metaphorical one or an actual kitchen-style one.

In Chapter 6 on Balancing Family and Work in my book, Color Your Life Happy: Create Success, Abundance and Inner Joy You Deserve, I stressed making family the highest priority.

In that section of the book I talked about our practice of cooking new recipes on Sunday afternoons when my children were growing up. One of those recipes became such a family favorite that to this day, decades later, every time I serve that recipe the guest always asks for the recipe. I had to include that recipe in my book, of course.

I won’t make you go over to buy the book in order to get that recipe. Over the years I’ve switched to ground turkey and fresh green chiles, but here is the original recipe as it appeared in the Los Angeles Times recipe section decades ago. Let me know how you like it.

California Zucchini Bake

1 pound lean ground beef
3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
¼ cup sliced green onion with tops
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 (7 ounce) can green chiles, chopped
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded Jack cheese
1 large tomato, sliced
salt, pepper

Saute beef, zucchini, onion, salt, garlic powder and chili powder in a lightly greased skillet until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender crisp, Stir frequently. Add green chiles, rice , sour cream and 1 cup cheese. Turn into greased shallow 2 quart casserole. Arrange tomato slices on top, Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees 20 to 25 minutes

Do you want to talk about what recipe you can include in your book? I would love to be your partner in choosing a recipe that readers will find yummy. If you are ready to begin, pop me an email right now with “READY” in the subject line at flora@florabrown.com . Tell me about your book idea. Be sure to include your phone number and I’ll call you within 24 hours.

I’m going over to check for your email right now.

 

 

Choosing Your Book Title: Are You Keeping Your Promise?

A recent ad from a local store featured a party cooler for sale. Although the cooler was pictured filled with ice and canned soda, printed in parentheses was “Sodas and ice not included.” While most of us would realize that the ice and soda were intended to show how the cooler looks when in use, without this disclaimer there are a few shoppers who could claim that the picture lead them to believe it was included.

Just as clearly stating what is being offering is critical to success in advertising, so is it important in your book title. Your book title is a billboard, a promise, an agreement to deliver certain content.

Here are some tips for choosing your title.

1. Create one sentence that sums up the contents of your book.

Within that sentence are the keywords that could be in your title.

2. While titles cannot be copyrighted, steer clear of emulating popular titles.

and and have already been done.

3. Settle on a working title while you’re writing your book.

The perfect title may not be apparent at the start. By the time you finish your book, however, the title will likely emerge.

4. Reflect the tone of your message in the title.

If you’re writing a how-to book, you don’t want your title to mislead your readers into thinking it’s a sizzling  romantic novel.
It may result in sales, but readers will be disappointed and unfulfilled.

5. Notice the nickname or short name you’ve given your book while you’re writing it.

That may be a great title. One of the actors from the sitcom, That 70’s Show, revealed that this was not the original title, but the nickname
they gave it during rehearsals. By the time it was ready for launch, the producers decided that the nickname was the right name for the show.

6. Listen to how you respond to questions about your book when you are speaking to groups or your accountability partner.

John Gray came up with “Men are from Mars, Women
are from Venus” in an effort to explain the differences in men and women during
at one of his live presentations. He knew he had found the right title for his book on relationships.

7. Go for a simple and clear title rather than fail at being clever.

  • The “how to” title is still the most popular because it appeals to our never-ending quest for doing things, taking action and making improvements.
  • “Murder at the  [location]” will still grab mystery lovers.
  • The [odd number] Ways to [do or accomplish something that we want] is irresistible with its promise of actionable steps.

8. Give your book a subtitle, if necessary for clarity.

 

One book that could have benefitted from a subtitle is “How to Avoid Huge Ships” by John W. Trimmer.

When Captain Trimmer got tired of running into small boats, he wrote this serious book directed at small boat owners/operators to help them avoid getting into the pathways of big boats which can not always see much less miss hitting them. Unfortunately, many of the 186 Amazon “reviewers” had a lot of fun with this book title.  With the price tag of $75, it’s not likely most of the reviewers actually bought the book, but they couldn’t resist aiming at that title.

Here are some of the reviews of Trimmer’s book that made me laugh out loud.

  • Read this book before going on vacation and I couldn’t find my cruise liner in the port. Vacation ruined.
  • Huge ships have been the bane of my life, so I was very excited when I bought this book. However, Captain Trimmer does not provide the helpful and insightful advice that I had hoped for and I did not feel that this book had any noticeable effect. If anything, I now encounter more huge ships than ever! Would not recommend.
  • After reading this book, I relized[sic] exactly what I was doing wrong everytime I was run over by bardges[sic] on the mighty Mississippi. I always played dead and hoped the boats would go away, like I was taught by a book I read, “How To Survive Bear Attacks.” I guess I thought the lessons taught by that book applied to everything life, but it clearly meant just bears. Now I am surviving the waterways better than a BP oil rig.
  • I give this book five stars because it is by far the best treatise to date regarding the avoidance of huge ships. BUT C’MON, PEOPLE! Did you learn nothing in the sixties? Avoiding huge ships won’t solve the problem. Separate but equal waterways only drives us further apart. It is the lack of understanding between the huge and non-huge vessel communities that lead to well-intentioned but misguided tomes such as this. We must begin a dialogue with our huge brethren. Remember–we are all floating on the same ocean. I have a dream… that one day ALL vessels will be judged not by their tonnage, but by the content of their cargo. Next time a huge vessel approaches, just ask yourself “WWPD?” (What would Popeye do?)
  • As the father of two teenagers, I found this book invaluable. I’m sure other parents here can empathize when I say I shudder at the thought of the increasing influence and presence of huge ships in the lives my children. I certainly remember the strain I caused so long ago for my own parents when I began experimenting with huge ships. The long inter-continental voyages that kept my mom and dad up all night with worry. Don’t even get me started on the international protocols when transporting perishable cargo. To think, I was even younger than my kids are now! huge ships are everywhere and it doesn’t help that the tv and movies make huge ships seem glamorous and cool. This book helped me really approach the subject of huge ships with my kids in an honest, open and non judgmental way. Because of the insights this book provided, I can sleep a little better and cope with the reality that I can’t always be there to protect my kids from huge ships, especially as they become adults. I’m confident that my teens, when confronted by a huge ship, are much better prepared to make wiser decisions than I did. At the very least my children certainly know that they can always come to me if they have any concerns, questions or just need my support when it comes to the topic of huge ships.

Are you unsure about your title? I would love to be your partner in choosing a title that makes a promise your book will keep. If you are ready to begin, pop me an email right now with “READY” in the subject line at flora@florabrown.com . Be sure to include your phone number and I’ll call you within 24 hours.

I’m going over to check for your email right now.

Book Writing: An Inside Look at a Chapter

Just as each chapter in your book has a job to do, so does it have a structure, a framework upon which the content hangs.

If your chapter heading is a question to be answered, the content of your chapter must provide the answer, preferably in a structure that is easy to follow. A consistent structure guides the reader through your book easily, enabling her to grasp your concepts and messages.

Throughout my book, Color Your LIfe Happy: Create the Success, Abundance and Inner Joy You Deserve, I decided on the following structure and order of chapter content:

1. Relevant quote
2. Attention-getter pulling the reader in the story
3. Reassure reader that he’s not alone
4. Example or story with action, dialogue or to show relationships
5. Advice or tip to bring about the change suggested in chapter title
6. Relevant comic relief to lighten mood
7. Summary of chapter
8. Activites to get reader to reflect and/or apply what was suggested in chapter

Here are excerpts from Chapter Two, Preparing Your Mind for Happiness, to demonstrate how the structure unfolds. Remember, in your mind change the chapter title into a question, How do you prepare your mind for happiness? The components of the chapter helps answer the question.

1. Relevant Quote

What you think of yourself is much more important than what others think of you.~Lucius Annaeus Seneca

2. Attention-getter pulling the reader in the story

If you’ve spent your entire life being moody, cranky, negative, judgmental, and just plain miserable, then you can’t expect to jump into happiness overnight. That would be a tremendous shock to your system—worse than being unprepared and diving into a pool of ice water. . .

3. Reassure reader that he’s not alone

For you, it’s probably scary to think about being happy—or to think it’s even attainable for you. After all, you’re comfortable and familiar with being unhappy. But if you’re going to become happy, then you’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone. Brrr!. . .

4. Example or story with action, dialogue, or to show relationships

Being happy is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage and energy to move from one way of thinking to another or from one set of habits to another. And it seems that happiness can even worry other people.

For example, a member of my church stopped me one day and asked, “Are you always happy?”

“What do you mean?” I responded, feeling almost guilty for a moment.

“You’re always smiling,” he replied. . .

5. Advice, tips to bring about the change suggested in chapter title

You don’t need to make huge changes in your life in order to be happy, although positive changes will likely come about as a result. If you want to change your eating habits, for example, you could choose to eat half as much per meal, or just cut out one item. This small effort will get you started on your way without requiring a major overhaul.

Don’t be intimidated by others you think are happier than you. They may not be. Their happiness may be maintained with a lot of effort, just as a bodybuilder must maintain a certain lifestyle in order to keep up that chiseled appearance. . .

6. Relevant comic relief to lighten mood

Happiness Flashback
 I took lots of photos of my children to chronicle major and minor events in their lives. They were so used to posing for pictures in the midst of activities that no matter how upset or tearful they were, when I pulled out a camera, they froze in place and broke into smiles, and then returned to whatever dispute or turmoil they had been involved in at the time.

7. Summary of chapter

Happiness is not something you put on in the morning and remove at
night. It is a way of living. It’s the way you see the world and choose the
experiences you want to have.

Four habits can help you create happiness in your life.

Conceive and visualize what you want, but be careful what you ask for.

Remember, words have power.

Set your goals without worrying about how you’ll get there.

Chop your big goal into small manageable ones. Think of small things
you can do today or tomorrow that will begin to move you toward your
goal.

Instead of stepping out of your comfort zone, widen it to include new
habits and experiences. One of the easiest ways to do this is to associate
with others who are engaged in the activity that interests you.

You must be willing to do whatever it takes to get where you want to
go. If you aren’t, then how do you expect to get there?

Don’t let bad news stunt your growth. It’s all around us, but it can be
a dream killer if you dwell on it. Like all living things, the economy goes
in cycles. It will be down, followed by up, followed by down, and so on.

Failure, though we try to avoid it, is part of life as well.

Though positive affirmations work for me, they don’t work for others.

Thinking brings about results to match it. What’s important is to find a
technique that brings about the results you desire.

While you may have trouble accepting the concept of positive thinking,
consider other factors researchers agree also lead to happiness: adequate
sleep, a balanced diet and exercise.

Finally, to make happiness a part of your daily life, you need to bring
your inner critic in line and enable your intuition to get louder. Be good
to yourself. Put your best interests first. Learn to say “no” to things that
pull you from your goals or deplete your positive energy.

8. Activities to get reader to reflect and/or apply what was suggested in chapter

a. Make a list of all the activities, events and experiences you’ve really enjoyed. It doesn’t matter what they are. Only you know which things have made you feel good and given you joy—not only while you were doing them—but even just remembering them. They may even be things you haven’t done since childhood or your youth. . .

b. List one goal you’ve delayed or been afraid to pursue. It doesn’t matter
whether it’s a personal, spiritual or career goal. Only share your goal with people who are supportive. . .

c. Do you know people who have accomplished the same goal as yours?
You don’t have to know them personally, just know where they are
located. If so, list their names here. . .

Sometimes your chapter structure will be clear to you at the very beginning. Other times it evolves as you create and/or edit your manuscript.

In either case, by having a structure throughout your book, your readers will be able to follow you easily from chapter to chapter until the end just as you planned.   When this happens, they not only get the answer to the questions posed by the book title and chapters, but also now anticipate your next book.

Do you have a book idea under construction? I would love to be your partner in putting its structure in place.. If you are ready to begin, pop me an email right now with “READY” in the subject line at flora@florabrown.com . Be sure to include your phone number and I’ll call you within 24 hours.

I’m going over to check for your email right now.