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The Book Professor: My Lessons Learned as a Femalepreneur

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The Book Professor: My Lessons Learned as a Femalepreneur

Earlier this month we featured Tammy Fadler as one of our femalepreneurs. I’ve worked with many women business owners over the years, and writing about Tammy made me reflect on my own journey as a femalepreneur. It’s true. As women, we work hard, work smart, and we get it done. But we also juggle home and family responsibilities and face obstacles that men don’t always encounter. Reduced financing. Lack of support. Exclusion from the “boys club.” Scant resources.

But anything worth having takes hard work, doesn’t it? When I look at my life, the things that give me the greatest joy–from being a mother, wife, grandmother, and business owner–didn’t come without a few tears and hard work. But boy, am I glad I stayed on the journey to reap the fruits of my labor.

Lesson 1: Just Go For It

When you have an idea for a way that you can help others or improve their lives, then go for it. Use the full force of your gifts and talents to bring something new and fresh and useful to the world. It’s hard to get started when you have a great idea but no customers, but keep doing the next right thing to build your product in the most excellent way, and step by step you will achieve the small things that lead to the greater opportunities.

Lesson 2: Surround Yourself with Positive Thinkers

Negative thinking stinks. I can’t stand to be around people who can only see a problem but never offer a solution. Or people that constantly have something bad tosuccess say about your dreams and try to pass their fear-based thinking onto you. My advice is to get around positive people that will support you emotionally. Optimism ROCKS, and you will need that support as you begin your journey.

When I was starting The Book Professor, someone asked me, “Is there really a market for that? How many people actually want to write a book?” I was discouraged by his remarks because my idea was only on paper at that point, but then an answer rose up in me and I said, “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.” If I hadn’t surrounded myself with people that helped lift me up and pour out words of encouragement during the early days, I might have sat in that pit of discouragement instead of staying on my path.

Lesson 3: Stay on the Course and Watch Your Passion Grow

When you consider the people that are considered a success, you usually don’t hear about all the bumps they endured to get to where they are. From elite athletes to billionaire business owners, it’s tempting to think that getting there was easy. I assure you it wasn’t, and the road certainly had periods of self-doubt. Questions like: “Am I supposed to be doing this?” and “Is this my life’s purpose?”  I didn’t know that my dream was to help people who aren’t writers to become authors until I started down the path. With every step I took, my passion grew until I knew that I couldn’t do anything else.  Whatever your dream is, keep taking the next right step and watch your passion carry you right into your life’s purpose!


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Writer Tip: Summary and Scene

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As a writer of creative nonfiction, you have two primary tools for telling your story: scene and summary. A scene is where your characters appear in a specific setting, do what they do, and then leave. A summary is simply a recap of something that happened. It’s your job to skillfully combine scene with summary and write a compelling manuscript that keeps your readers engaged and delivers them to the end result – the purpose of your book.

Difference Between Writing Summaries and Writing Scenes

An almost universal mistake that new writers make is that they write summaries when they should be writing scenes. It’s not that summary is bad. The problem is that they summarize (TELL) when they should actually write a scene to SHOW what is happening – yep, it’s the old show, don’t tell again.

It’s the SCENE that transforms your writing from mere theory to reality, and it’s the scene that activates the reader’s imagination. In a scene, you don’t tell the reader what is happening, what a character is thinking, or what they are like, but you allow the reader to experience it firsthand and to draw their own conclusions. A scene recreates an experience you had and lets the reader be part of it.

When you summarize instead of writing scenes, the reader misses the elements that bring the story to life — the scents, colors, tastes, and sounds of action – the sensory details. They also miss out on how the characters behave, how they act and react, how they relate to one another, how they conduct themselves. Instead of the full-color HD experience, they get the flat, monochromatic, less-than-soundbite version.  

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that summary is wrong or that it’s bad. You just need to know how and when to use it. You can’t go passive on your audience and refuse to do the hard work of writing scenes. In fact, your manuscript should ultimately be a carefully constructed story where summary connects your scenes.

Did you ever play with Tinker Toys as a child? Well, the scenes are the hub or the wooden spools, and your writing scenessummaries are the sticks that connect them. You cannot join two sticks together. If you want to put them in consecutive order, the only way to do that is to lay them down end to end. But that doesn’t really connect them. You have to have a spool to connect the stick to anything. Likewise, you don’t lay out summary after summary after summary. Just like a child will get bored with a pile of sticks, your readers need scenes to carry them through your work.

Summary is Telling. Scenes are Showing. Tell me a little, but show me a lot!

 


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self-publish

There has never been a better time to self-publish

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This article originally appeared on BookBaby.com

Excerpted from BookBaby’s latest guide, 5 Steps To Self Publishing, Part I of our series addresses why this is a great time to self-publish and the importance of professional editing.

self-publish

“There’s never been a better time to self-publish than right now.”

It’s a statement I often repeat when speaking at writing conferences. The good news is that this message is being received loud and clear by thousands of aspiring writers around the world, just like you. They’ve completed the journey of taking their manuscript directly to the marketplace. From romance novels to religious books, from children’s titles to nonfiction, every author can succeed with a self-published book.

Why self-publish? There are lots of compelling reasons, but you only need four:

1. You can and will make more money. A lot more. Self-published eBooks can earn between 60% and 70% in royalties. Your printed books can earn you up to 50% in royalties when you sell direct-to-reader through BookBaby. Now, compare this with the 12% to 20% royalties earned by traditionally-published writers. You may ask, “Are self-published authors actually making money?” Yes. In fact according to recent reports from authorearnings.com, as a group, they are making MORE than traditionally-published writers.

Download your free copy today!

2. Self-publishing is fast. It takes weeks, not months or years. Your edited manuscript will be available on major online retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the rest within a few weeks. Meanwhile, it can take 18 to 24 months for your finished manuscript to reach the marketplace at the end of the traditional publishing process. And that doesn’t even count the time-consuming task of finding both the agent and publisher who are willing to take you on as a new author. That alone could take months or even years!

3. You retain control of your book. No contracts or signing away your publishing rights. Self-published authors are the CEOs, making the call on every aspect of their books, from edits to cover design, book reviews to promo. And finally, one reason that may be obvious and yet still very important:

4. You’re guaranteed to be published. Self-publishing is a sure thing. You WILL be published if you go this route. For many that’s a dream in and of itself. For others it’s a start to a literary career. In today’s low-risk traditional publishing environment, it’s the longest of long shots for an unpublished, unknown new author to get that dream publishing deal.

And if you are holding out in hopes of finding an agent and a traditional publishing deal, let me give you one more reason why you should self-publish.

5. The very best way to be discovered by a traditional publisher is to succeed at self-publishing. Authors can make their best first impression on agents and publishers with quality books, a strong work ethic, and practiced promotional skills. I’ve seen hundreds of examples of self-published authors from either BookBaby or elsewhere being signed by huge international publishing houses.

Professional editing is a must for your book

Once you finish your manuscript, you’re not really finished. Here are five reasons why a professional editor will improve your book.

1. Editing can turn a good book into a great book. Like housework, editing goes unnoticed unless it’s not done. Professional editing is an indispensable part of a novel’s journey to publication. Editing can transform your writing, get readers talking, reach the ears of professional publishers, and catch the eye of movie producers. An editor will make sure that the reader remembers the dazzling plot and characterization – not the problems with grammar.

2. Editors give honest, objective feedback. Lots of authors ask friends and beta readers to take a look at their novel. Most people are flattered by the request and are happy to help. While any feedback is welcome and can help improve the manuscript, friends tend to give a lot of positive encouragement. They can gloss over some of the novel’s shortcomings to avoid causing offense. However, professional editors are experienced at giving criticism. They are systematic and thorough, covering not only familiar issues of grammar and punctuation, but also matters of style, pacing, dialogue, plot twists, and fact checking (to name but a few). Above all, the feedback they give is honest and objective. It takes teamwork to craft a polished and captivating novel that could become tomorrow’s bestseller. In short, authors need professional editors.

3. Editors work together with authors. It’s the editor’s job to be honest with the author when suggesting improvements (such as rewriting, restructuring, or cutting sections) while respecting the author’s message, meaning, tone, and style. Both the author and the editor have a shared interest in producing a work that gets – and keeps – the reader’s attention. What’s more, if an author so wishes, an editor with experience and knowledge of the book-selling market can also suggest ways to take the novel in a direction that might better attract the eye of a publisher or an agent.

4. An editor is a sounding board. Authors often pour their deepest feelings, and even their secrets, into their novels. For that reason, they are often cautious about who reads their early drafts. In such cases, authors can benefit from the impartial opinion of an editor. An editor takes a bird’s eye view of a novel, identifies the elements that work and those that don’t, and suggests the necessary changes. While editors often get to know authors well throughout the editing process, especially in the case of full, substantive editing, they are not concerned with your private life. They won’t be flattered or annoyed if they appear or not in the final version (although a credit is always nice).

5. Editing is a professional skill. It can be tempting to ask a friend to edit your book. Someone who is not an editor but who is good with language and is prepared to do the job for little or no cost.

The issue here is that you often get what you pay for. Editing is a profession like any other. It is their job to help the author produce a work that will keep the reader engaged and cause that magical, lasting effect the author has set out to achieve.

This post was excerpted and adapted from 5 Steps To Self Publishing: All the essential information you need to go from manuscript to marketplace. Download your free copy today.

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com.


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Author Feature: Femalepreneur – Tammy Fadler

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Last week we talked about the “Femalepreneur” and how they face many unique challenges. They work hard, work smart, and get it done, but they also juggle home and family responsibilities and face obstacles that men usually don’t. Reduced financing. Societal predispositions. Lack of support. Scant resources. It’s tough out there. But it can be done.

Picture this:  It’s 1973, and you’re a female immigrant from Vietnam. You arrive in America with $10, a single suitcase, a fifth-grade education, and a dream to own a business. If the odds are against femalepreneurs today, can you imagine what it was like 40 years ago for someone who could barely speak English? But somehow, whether it’s 2017 or 1973, we women know how to make a way when there seems to be no way, regardless of what the path looks like.

Meet Tammy Fadler, Speaker, Author, and Real Estate Mogul

Born in Vietnam and the oldest of 12 children, Tammy Fadler worked in food service for the U.S. Army before the American military pullout in 1973. Fearing for her family’s safety and economic outlook, she emigrated to America with only $10 in her pocket. After working a series of jobs, Tammy owned a successful Vietnamese restaurant in 1981 until it was destroyed by fire. She took the wisdom she learned about money and hard work and chose a career in real estate, which gave her the flexibility she needed while raising two young children. Her inexperience and language barrier was  a challenge at first, but she slowly climbed her way to the top of the real estate chain and became a top performer with Century 21 and the St. Louis area’s first REMAX franchise. (Source)

“You can go, but I want you to always remember one thing: you can make the money, but never let the money make you.”                      

            -Tammy’s Father

With faith and the wisdom of her parents to carry her, Tammy went on to graduate from college (without even having a high school diploma!) and become one of the most highly sought after international speakers, authors, and real estate moguls. Today Tammy Fadler is the owner of Signature Properties and SP Commercial, two highly successful independent real estate firms. In 2012 she released her memoir, Finding the Pearl: Unstoppable Passion, Unbridled Success, a story about her life in Vietnam and her journey to personal and professional success.

Because of the success of her book, Tammy recently came to The Book Professor to help her publish a companion tammy fadlerworkbook. The purpose of this workbook is to use the lessons from Finding the Pearl to lead her speaking audiences who feel vulnerable and alone to realize that they are loved by God and have what it takes to achieve their dreams.

Tammy Fadler lives in the St. Louis, MO area and is surrounded by her two adult children, a host of grandchildren, and many relatives who have immigrated from Vietnam.  For more information about Tammy and how to contact her, please visit: http://www.findingthepearl.com/index.html


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What Type of People Do We Work With? Femalepreneurs

Last month we kicked off our blog series: “What Type of People Do We Work With?” by highlighting business leaders.  I believe that while our world has many problems, each problem can and will be solved by everyday people like you. Every. Single. One.

We work with all the different types of people, and I can see myself in almost all of them. But I can clearly relate to this month’s feature: The Femalepreneur. As a mother, grandmother, wife, and business owner, I know the first-hand challenges that women face to run a successful business. It’s frustrating, exhausting, and rewarding all at the same time. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m fulfilling my life’s purpose in spite of the challenges I face, and there’s no other place I’d rather be.

The Femalepreneur

“Some days she has no idea how she’ll do it. But every single day it gets done.”

-Unknown

It’s hard, hard work to start a business or any other enterprise. And women have unique challenges. We work hard, we work smart, and we get it done, but we also juggle home and family responsibilities and face obstacles that men don’t usually encounter. Reduced financing. Societal predispositions. Lack of support. Scant resources. It’s tough out there.

But women rock! We make a way when there seems to be no way, but it’s a hard road to travel. Now that the hard part is behind you, what can you share that will help other women?

Has anyone ever told you that you should write a book?

If you are a femalepreneur, share your wisdom with a nonfiction book! The first step is to prioritize your material, and we do that by developing your BookMAP, which is a visual representation of your entire book. We work through a series of foundational questions to determine the purpose of your book and its audience, and everything in your book will drive toward that purpose for that audience.

This BookMAP will be your guide as you pull together your existing material and write additional elements to create a marketable book that will support your reputation as a hardworking, inventive Femalepreneur.

femalepreneur

Click to enlarge

There’s a wide network of women helping women, and when you write your book, you establish yourself as an expert, increase your credibility, and attract a following.

If you’re a Femalepreneur that has always wanted to write a book, reach out to us, and we can help you take the next step!


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Author Feature: Rich Daniels-Fathers Know, Value & Love Their Children

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A couple of weeks ago we discussed the problem of fatherless children in our country. The role of the father is often overlooked in our culture. But when a father is absent from a child’s life, either physically or emotionally, its effects on the family and our society as a whole– and especially on children–are traumatic. From behavioral problems, teenage pregnancy, suicide, to the influx in our prison population, the epidemic of fatherlessness should not be ignored.

What if there was a solution to this problem? What if there was a resource to guide men that equips them with the tools and resources needed to raise healthy, productive, and emotionally secure children?

There is! And Rich Daniels has made it his mission to see the end to this nationwide crisis.

No Excuses! Men Can Have a Deeper Relationship with their Children

When Rich came to us with his book idea, we knew it was something we wanted to be a part of. Through stories of his own shortcomings and experiences as a books for fathersfather to his three beautiful and uniquely different children, Rich brings hope and inspiration, as well as a multitude of ideas for fathers to implement so that their kids feel they are known, valued, and loved. The key is to connect in areas that are important to the child and to engage with them there.

His book is Tourist In My Own Life: For Fathers Who Yearn For a Deeper Relationship With Their Children is practical, funny, and at times heart-wrenching as he reveals the excuses men make and the barriers they have to creating rich relationships with their kids.  The purpose of his book is to teach and encourage fathers who yearn for a deeper relationship with their children some specific attitudes, actions, and behaviors that will build rock-solid relationships and anchor their children because they feel known, valued, and loved.

Rich Daniels, Corporate Entrepreneur, Physical Elitist, and Father

From Kirkwood, Missouri, Rich Daniels is the husband to Megan and the father of three children, Grace, Luc, and Zoey. A corporate entrepreneur with twenty-five years at Monsanto, Solutia and Honeywell International and seven years in two start-ups, Rich finds his greatest purpose in bringing people together in community to serve others. Having completed twenty-five marathons and two Ironmans, he relishes the endurance sport of fathering more than any event. After forming a small men’s group, Rich felt lead to write a book to encourage other men to move from being a tourist in their own life to the full joy and richness of being a father.

This book will be available in October 2017. Stay tuned for its release date — you won’t want to miss this one! If you or someone you know has always wanted to write a book, reach out to us, and we will help you make it happen!

 


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Writing Tips: Show Me The Details

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I happen to reside in what is known as the “Show Me” state. When I first heard that slogan, I didn’t get it. Show me, what? After a little research, I later found that the slogan was derived from Willard Duncan Vandiver, a Missouri Congressman, during a speech he gave in 1899. He said, “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me” (Source).

In other words, Missourians are not gullible. Don’t just tell us. If you want us to believe, you need to show us the truth through facts and evidence.

It’s funny. My state’s slogan reminds me of one of the most basic directives in writing: Show, don’t tell! I’m certain you’ve heard that phrase before, so today I want to dive in and explore how to do that by using descriptive details in your writing.

Here’s a quote that I really love, because it sums up the difference between boring writing and really good writing:

sensory language

A couple of months ago, we wrote an article about the importance of sensory language. Sensory language is just what it sounds like – it’s the language of our five senses. When you use sensory language, you describe what you saw, felt, heard, tasted, and smelled. You don’t write, “I was sad when my girlfriend left me.” You write, “When she told me she was leaving, she smiled as she whispered the words, ‘I’m leaving you.’ My throat clamped tight. I blinked hard, so I wouldn’t cry, but one hot tear fell and salted my upper lip.”

In this passage, you find four of the five senses: She told me–hearing; throat clamped tight and hot tear–feeling; she smiled–sight; she whispered–hearing; salted my upper lip–taste. The only sense not included is the sense of smell.

Sensory language punches up your writing and engages the reader. It breaks up the monotony and helps the reader to visualize the scene so they can experience it.

Sensory language IS the details.

When you add detail to your writing, you ARE like a painter.

Words are your paint, and you can use all the colors!

Writing in detail takes time, but not as much as you might think. There are a lot of resources for learning how to do this, but my favorite is the book Bird by Bird  by Anne Lamott. This is a classic in the world of writers and well worth having on your bookshelf. I want to share a couple of snippets from the book that have helped me in my own writing.

Anne Lamott encourages writers to look at their world in small sections, the size of a one-inch picture frame. “All I have to do is write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame, she says. That sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?

And when you’re frenzied about how much you need to write, step back and look through that one-inch picture frame.

“All we’re going to do for now is to write a description of the river at sunrise, or the young child swimming in the pool at the club, or the first time the man sees the woman he will marry.”

That’s it. Construct the details of your book by looking through these small windows. And when you look through small windows, you see a lot more minutiae, like the curved crack etched in the sidewalk, or the one green pea that rolled under the table, or the rim of grease under his fingernails.

Details make the difference, so show them to your readers!

Ready to get started? Sign up for an online writing class and get your book out!

 

 


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How To Use 100 Print Books To Promote Your Self-published Book [Infographic]

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This article originally appeared on BookBaby.com

As an author, we know you appreciate the value of the written word, but there’s something about an infographic that spells out an idea and puts it into perspective. So while you may have enjoyed the long-form version of this concept in an earlier post, we asked our designers to create this infographic to help add a colorful twist to the notion of how to promote your self-published book. Our contention: if you’re going to self publish, you need to self promote. If you’re going to get involved in your own PR, physical books can be a great vehicle for your book promotion efforts. If you’re going to use print on demand books – we’ve got ideas for how to put 100 of them to work for you.

self-published book

 

About BookBaby

Based in the Philadelphia-area, BookBaby is a team of authors, poets, bloggers, and artists — so they know the thrills and challenges of bringing a book into this world.

Since 2011, BookBaby has helped thousands realize their publishing goals by offering the largest eBook distribution network, including Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers in over 170 countries around the globe.

Learn more at www.BookBaby.com.


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Fathers, We Need You, Too!

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Last month the world paid tribute to all our mothers. On Sunday, June 18th, we celebrate the dads on Father’s Day. In mainstream media, it seems that you only hear about the deadbeat dads who don’t step up to the plate. You know the type: consistently unemployed, emotionally unavailable, and completely un-involved with the little ones they helped to create.

I’m a mother of two daughters and was fortunate that they had a very involved father, and it makes me angry when I hear about men who’ve simply chosen to optfather figure-out. With the statistics of “single-mothers” now at an all-time high, it’s no wonder we think that some men have abandoned the home.

But, what about the men who do step up to their responsibility as a father figure? We don’t hear enough about them, and sometimes it seems that the father’s role is often minimized when compared to the mother’s. This isn’t true. If you don’t think dads have a critical role in the development of their children, think again.

Studies have shown that children who grow up without a strong father figure have:

  • A diminished self-concept and compromised physical and emotional security. Children consistently report feeling abandoned when their fathers are not involved in their lives, they struggle with their emotions and have episodic bouts of self-loathing.
  • Behavioral problems. Fatherless children have more difficulties with social adjustment, and are more likely to report problems with friendships, and manifest behavior problems.
  • Truancy and poor academic performance. Seventy-one percent percent of high school dropouts are fatherless.
  • Delinquency and youth crime, including violent crime. Eighty-five percent of youth in prison have an absent father, and fatherless children are more likely to offend and go to jail as adults.
  • Promiscuity and teen pregnancy. Fatherless children are more likely to experience problems with sexual health, including a greater likelihood of having intercourse before the age of 16, becoming teenage parents, and contracting sexually transmitted infection.

Source

These statistics keep going. When you look at the problems around our country, you can’t help but wonder how many of them would be solved if more children grew up with a father figure. Remember, not EVERY child that grows up without a father will experience these side effects, but many, unfortunately, do. Dads, if you didn’t think you were important to your child’s life, I hope this changes your mind. If you have a solution to the problem of fatherless children in our country, join us as we find 117 solutions in 2017!

The Good Guys

Fatherless children are a big problem in our country, so I want to pay tribute to some of the people who have chosen to be part of the solution, such as organizations like The National Center for Fathering, which was created in 1990 in response to the social and economic impact of fatherlessness in America. Their dedicated team of professionals wholeheartedly believe every child needs a dad they can count on.
The research is clear: children thrive when they have an involved father or father figure—someone who loves them, knows them, guides them, and helps them achieve their destiny. The National Center for Fathering works to improve the lives of children and reverse the trends of fatherlessness by inspiring and equipping fathers, grandfathers and father figures to be actively engaged in the life of every child. Source

For more information about this organization or how to become involved, please visit them at www.fathers.com


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What Type of People Do We Work With?

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I’m often asked when I meet aspiring writers: what type of people do you work with? This is an easy question for me. At the risk of being labeled an idealist, I sincerely believe that all of our problems—and I mean all of them—can be solved, and that the answers are trapped inside of everyday people like you. When you share what you know and what you’ve learned, you become the solution. At The Book Professor, we help aspiring authors write non-fiction books that will change lives, save lives, and transform society. Whether you’re a business leader, an overcomer, a public speaker, or you want to write your personal memoir, we know exactly what you need to do to write your book. Join us over the next couple of months as we highlight the clients my team and I serve every day.

The Business Leader

You’ve been a professional and a leader for quite some time and have learned a few things along the way, haven’t you? Your years of experience, education, ideas, and expertise are what other impassioned leaders need in order to gain the success that you’ve achieved. Perhaps you’ve already been a mentor to others, and you know that what you know could benefit more than you can reach in person. If you want a greater influence, you need a bigger platform! It’s time to take your solution and help others solve the problems they can’t fix on their own.

Why Should a Business Leader Write a Book?business leader

As a business leader with years of experience, you know deep down that you’re a true leader. Writing a book helps to establish yourself as an expert with those who don’t know your talent.

Business leaders write a book for a number of reasons:

  1. You have something to share that will benefit others.
  2. You want to leave a legacy that will impact the future.
  3. You see others struggle and have learned how to overcome obstacles.
  4. You want to showcase your business and the path to success.

Listen to what our writer, David J.P. Fisher, author, business leader, and entrepreneur had to say after he wrote his first book Networking in the 21st Century: Why Your Network Sucks and What to Do About It:

“Writing the first book was definitely a big hurdle, but I found that it was like running a marathon. Once you do one, you look back and want to do it again. I’ve published three shorter books in the ten months after publishing my first book, and there are more on the way. It’s definitely helped build my professional credibility and stature as an expert in my field.”

What do you have to lose? When will there ever be a better moment than now? It’s time to build your personal brand and establish yourself as the expert you are.

If you’re a business leader that has always wanted to write a book, reach out to us, and we can help you take the next step!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Lessons Learned-Let’s Get Physical

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May is National Bike Month, so I’d like to talk about lessons learned from physical fitness. We all know the benefits of physical exercise, but if you’re anything like me, I have a love-hate relationship with it. Of course, I love its advantages: weight control, reduced risk of certain diseases, muscle endurance and, of course, mental clarity. But do I feel like working out every day? Not so much.

I remember when my husband and I took a trip to the Grand Canyon. He loves the outdoors. To survive the 8.5-mile hike down Bright Angel Trail while carrying our belongings, I knew I needed to get a trainer. I was in reasonably good shape but not strong enough to make the hike while carrying my 25 pound pack. So I started training with Brent about five months before our trip.

He planned a regimen where on Wednesdays we worked on building strength and on Fridays we worked on balance and agility. When Brent told me to do twenty jump squats, I did them. When he told me to get on the stair climber and climb on my tiptoes, I did it. No two sessions were the same, and week after week after week, I showed up and did whatever he said to do for that hour. Little by little, I built my strength and agility in those one-hour bite-sized chunks.

It paid off.

The day we hiked down the Grand Canyon, it took us 5.5 hours to get to the bottom, and I felt pretty good until about the last half mile. The heat was exhausting, and by the time we reached the bottom it was 109 degrees, but we made it. I made it! Those small repeated increments of time I’d devoted to getting in shape for the trip carried me from the upper rim of the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River at the bottom.

It’s funny. Physical exercise is what life is like. We don’t always feel like doing things in life. If we only did what we felt every day, there would be a lot of unsolved problemsnational bike month because people would give up the first time they failed. After all, who ever feels like trying again after failure? And do you know how many inventions were the result of countless initial failures? Almost all of them. There would be a lot of failed relationships because people would bail at the first sign of discomfort. And there would be a lot of diseases with no cure today because the scientist didn’t feel like facing another failed experiment.

But isn’t that what greatness is about? It’s often in our failure that we learn our best lessons and come up with the greatest solutions. Solutions that result from failure and struggle are what make non-fiction books so compelling. Why? Because we can relate to it. Anybody that’s successful in their chosen field is only a success because they did what others didn’t feel like doing. Isn’t that why Nike’s slogan: “Just Do It” is so popular? Whatever your physical fitness or life goals are, “Just Do It.”

May is National Bike Month

Need a little change up from your typical physical fitness routine? Get on your bike and get moving. National Bike Month was established in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists to celebrate the benefits of cycling and encourage others to start pedaling. For more on this organization or about cycling in general, please check them out at http://bikeleague.org/bikemonth.

 

 


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Writing Tips: Pacing

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PACING in literature refers to the rate at which your story progresses. Your job as a nonfiction writer is to move the story along without losing your audience. It’s important not to go too fast, and you certainly don’t want to go so slow that you bore them to death. When you understand how to control the pace of your story, you’ve grasped one of the most important skills in writing.  Keep the following in mind when you write, and you’ll be a master at story pacing in no time.

story pacing1. Length controls speed.

Short scenes and chapters, terse sentences, and snappy dialogue all contribute to a feeling of intensity and speed. This is probably the easiest way to control your pacing. As your story nears the tense scenes, make it a point to condense everything. Limit the length of your scenes to 500-800 words, cut your scenes short at important moments, and switch back and forth between points of view.

Fragments, sparse sentences, and short paragraphs quicken the pace. Crisp, punchy verbs, especially those with onomatopoeia (crash, lunge, sweep, scatter, ram, scavenge) also add to a quick pace. Invest in suggestive verbs to enliven descriptions, build action scenes, and milk the suspense.

Harsh consonant sounds such as those in words like claws, crash, kill, quake, and nag can push the reader ahead. Words with unpleasant associations can also ratchet up the speed: hiss, grunt, slither, smarmy, venomous, slaver, and wince. Energetic, active language is especially appropriate for building action scenes and suspense and for setting up drama and conflict.

A fast pace means you trim every sentence of unnecessary words. Eliminate prepositional phrases where you don’t need them: For example, “the walls of the cathedral” can be written as “the cathedral walls.” Finally, search your story for passive linking verbs and trade them in for active ones.

2. Vary Story Pacing

As important as the high-tension race-‘em-chase-‘em scenes are, it’s even more important to vary your pacing with slow, introspective scenes. Without the slow scenes, your characters and your readers won’t have a chance to catch their breaths. Even the most exciting scenes lose their intensity if they aren’t balanced with moments of deliberate quiet.

3. Pay Attention to Details to Build Momentum

In film, directors often show scenes in slow motion to indicate that something dramatic is happening or about to happen. One of the best ways writers can mimic this technique is to slow their own writing down by piling on the details. Let’s say one of your characters is shot. This is an important moment in the story, and you want the readers to feel its impact. You can do this when you take your time and describe every detail: the look on the gunman’s face as he fires, the recoil of the pistol, the flash of the barrel, the horror that chokes the victim, and finally the collision of the bullet.

4. Control Your Tell vs. Show Ratio

Although “showing” your audience the blow-by-blow details is key to engage the reader and make them feel the tension, sometimes the best way to hurtle them through a scene is to condense certain actions into “telling.” Perhaps you want to use that scene where your character is shot, but you don’t want to linger on it. You want to do a quick flyby, shock your readers, and plunge them into the action after the gunshot. Instead of taking the time to show the details, you can thrust the gunshot upon the reader simply by telling him/her that it happened.

5. Manipulate Sentence Structure

The mark of a professional writer is his ability to control the ebb and flow of his sentence structure. The most subtle way to influence your story pacing is through your sentence structure. The length of words, clauses, sentences, and paragraphs all contribute to the pacing.

Long=slow

Short=fast

When it’s time to write the intense scenes, cut back on the beautiful, long-winded passages and give it to your reader straight. Short sentences and snappy nouns and verbs convey urgency, whereas long, measured sentences offer moments of introspection and build-up.

To write like a professional, you must master the art of story pacing. This is critical to the success of your book. Once you perfect this writing technique, you will leave your readers eager for more. It takes practice, but the payoff is worth it in the end.

 


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