Read! It’s Good for Your Health

read booksA new study has some good news for readers. Read! It’s good for you—and it could help you live longer. A study by Bavishi et al looked at the potential health benefits of reading and how the type of material you affects the results. What they found will have readers all around rejoicing.

Read a Book Today

It turns out that reading up to 3.5 hours a week reduces your risk of mortality by 20 percent. And what’s more, book reading trumps newspaper or magazines. So it appears that it isn’t just the act of reading, but the materials as well.

Of course the icing on the cake is that if you live longer, you have more time to read. This study isn’t the first to explore the benefits of reading.

Increasing Empathy

A review earlier this year published in Cell Press found that reading fiction encourages empathy. And if you think about it, it’s easy to see. When you read, you become involved with the lives of the characters. You may be privy to their thoughts and fears. You respond as natural to us humans; you feel empathy.

This behavior is evident even in small children. When we see someone hurting, we reach out to help. When you read, you spend a lot of time with a character and her issues. In real life, we may not spend nearly the amount of time dissecting a problem as you do when you read a book.

In terms of living longer, logic would also tell us that reading can help relieve stress. For a brief time, we leave the world of our own problems and live in a different world. If it’s a similar problem to our own, reading may help us cope and see things from a different perspective.

As if any of us needs a reason to read, maybe now we can set aside the newspapers and magazines and pick up a novel. We can spend time someplace else and leave stress behind for a little bit.

photo credit: beer and book session via photopin (license)

Keeping Sane After the Book

keeping saneYou’ve done it. You finished your book. Now the hard part comes—keeping sane. As writers, we experience our most fragile moments after we publish. We’ve put our souls into our work. Now comes the time for the world to see us at our most vulnerable.

Keeping Sane

An essential but difficult skill to obtain is a tough skin. Let’s face it. Things aren’t always going to go easy. There will be times when you get anxious or down. Sales may not be what you hoped for. Maybe someone didn’t like your take on a particular subject.

It hurts. And it’s normal. It’s okay to feel these emotions. I found myself feeling them to with every painting I put on auction.

Moving Pass the Negativity

For writers, we have to remember several things in perspective to achieve this lofty goal of keeping sane. It’s all a matter of putting things in the right perspective.

Don’t Take It Personally

Remember, your involvement with your book is different than everyone else. To you, it’s your baby. It deserves the utmost attention. Others will need time to fall in love with it. And just because they don’t right away is not a condemnation of you or your work.

People are busy. There are numerous distractions. Sometimes, it’s hard to be heard upon the noise. And believe me, there’s a lot of noise.

Remember Your Achievements

When things don’t go the way you’ve planned, take those moments to remember your achievements. You wrote a book! That’s a helluva achievement. Think about it. You set a goal, and you met it. You did it! That’s fantastic of itself. Don’t forget that.

And think about all that went into accomplishing that goal. It wasn’t just the writing, but it was the editing, the formatting, and the publishing. That’s a lot of work. But you stuck to it. You finished it.

Embracing Mindfulness

When doubt threatens to overwhelm you, pause. When negative self-talk invades your thoughts, pause. Live in the moment. At this moment, you are more than a writer; you are an author.

Too many times, our thoughts rush to the future or seek out the past. The best place for them is the here and now. Let yourself feel that rush again of accomplishment. The rest will fall in place. Enjoy the moment.


photo credit: Poor Charlie Brown! He’s lost his mind! via photopin (license)

Writing Tips from Lessons Learned

This entry is part of 3 in the series Lessons Learned

writing tipsIn this last post for the series, Lessons Learned, I wanted to give you some writing tips from going through the process of concept to publishing. It’s been a journey.

Writing Tips for Marketing

My book, 101 Things to Do on Lake Minnetonka, is unique for me in that I’m taking an active role in marketing it. I want the book to be a success. In many ways, it’s not unlike our experience with the Wisconsin Great River Road.

When my husband and I first saw it, we had to share it with everyone. It was too beautiful not to encourage people to visit this scenic byway. We felt the same about Lake Minnetonka.

So, here are a few writing tips I’ve learned:

  • Double, triple check all of your copy, your links, and anything going out to the public.
  • Make sure your Amazon copy is engaging. Sell your book to someone who needs to be convinced of its value.
  • You need to invest money to make money. Buy books to give out to create the buzz.
  • Get mini Moo cards guerilla marketing and just to hand out. Be sure to include an Amazon Associate referral link to capitalize on your profit. I can’t recommend these cards enough. They look fantastic!
  • Don’t be shy about engaging family and friends.

Staying the Course

It’s a tough venture to write a book. It’s your baby at this point. It’s hard not to feel a bit fragile after going through the process. Here are some writing tips to help you keep your sanity.

  • Keep a journal about the process. It’ll help you identify areas to fix next time around as well as help you remember what worked.
  • Be realistic. Your book is the center of your world, but word has to get out before it takes off. Be patient.
  • Spend the time marketing, but also start planning your next project. You’ve built some great momentum. Use it.
  • Always remember what you’ve accomplished. Think about it. You’ve taken an idea and made it come to life. Not many people can say the same thing. It’s a bucket list kind-of-thing. Be proud of yourself.

I hope these writing tips have helped. We are a unique group of people, us writers. Never forget that.

photo credit: because I was there. Yesterday at late night I went to a movie theater. The film was … via photopin (license)

Editing Made Easy

editing solutionPerhaps the title of this post made you chuckle. Editing made easy? Yeah, right. But, hang on. There is an easier way to edit your book. It’s called Pro Writing Aid.

Editing with Pro Writing Aid

If you’ve read anything online lately, you’ve probably noticed what everyone has too—people make mistakes. Even major newspapers and editors let a few slip by. And the reason might be simpler than you think.

Microsoft, or any word processor for that matter, cannot catch everything. Even your browser misses a few. The reason is that it looks for spelling and grammar errors, not contextual errors. That’s where Pro Writing Aid comes in.

It looks for the obvious stuff like typos. But it goes one step further. Their editing tool looks for clichés, overused words, repeated phrases, and much more.

It also includes things like plagiarism check and consistency screens. The latter was helpful as I wrote 101 Things to Do on Lake Minnetonka. It flagged inconsistencies in capitalization where I referred to the lake by name and other times as simply, the lake. It’s a good way to check some errors that would pass a spell check but not a readability scan.

Streamlining the Process

As I wrote my book, I followed the golden rule of not editing along the way. I just wrote. Then, I put each item in the Pro Writing Aid tool. I cleaned up my writing. And I’ve got to say that I was shocked by how much I missed.

When my reader looked over the book, he found very few errors. And yes, the editing process was easier than it’s ever been for me.

You can try it out to see if it’s for you. If you like it, the Pro Writing Aid tool is a subscription-based service at $40 a year or $45 for the additional plagiarism checks. I would definitely encourage you to check it out.

The last thing you want as an indie author is to come across as an amateur. The Pro Writing Aid tool makes your work appear more professional.

Publishing with CreateSpace

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Lessons Learned

publishing epic bookPublishing with CreateSpace is an ideal solution for a new writer. And there are several reasons for this claim. For this second in this series, Lessons Learned, I’m going to discuss the advantages of using it.

Publishing on Amazon

Publishing on Amazon is where it’s at for quick online sales. The process with CreateSpace couldn’t be easier. For the new writer, there are templates for each formatted size. However, as I posted yesterday, I found Pressbooks a lot easier to use–even over Scrivner.

You can get a free ISBN number with CreateSpace. And that’s not a bad thing. Buying a block of ISBN numbers isn’t cheap. Last I looked, it runs $249 for 10.

With the cover generator, you can produce a decent cover. Tip: use Chrome not Firefox to create your title. For some reason, Firefox wouldn’t allow me to upload a cover image. Speaking of images, CreateSpace has a gallery of images to use. They’re fine, but the selection is limited.

Other Advantages

I can’t comment on Smashwords because I haven’t used it. I also published my title on Ingram Spark. However, because I had titles with Amazon already, I couldn’t make 101 Things to Do on Lake Minnetonka available on Amazon. That’s why I opted for CreateSpace and Ingram Spark.

CreateSpace has a lot going for it in the self-publishing biz. Copies are printed same day and shipped for a helluva lot less than Ingram Spark. The quality is excellent.

With CreateSpace, you can easily publish on Kindle too. From an author’s perspective, getting your book available online as quick as they do is a huge advantage. With CreateSpace, it’s a 24-hour turnaround. Nice.

Summary of the Process

For publishing on Amazon, I used CreateSpace and did not opt in for the Expanded Distribution. For publishing for retailers, I used Ingram Spark. It’s a name that retailer and booksellers trust. In a world where us indie authors are still trying to make a go of it, we have to play all of our cards.

Next time, let’s look at the editing process. Besides writing, editing is likely to take the biggest chunk of your time.