NancyErickson | Write a Nonfiction Book with The Book Professor

Author Archives: NancyErickson

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Back to School: You Can Keep Writing

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Whether you’re heading back to classes yourself or shipping your kids back to theirs, your schedule is probably about to change if it hasn’t already. When schedules change, it can be hard to juggle everything and settle into a new routine. All too often, things fall through the cracks, and your personal writing time might get lost in the shuffle. There is room in your schedule for a writing routine, you just have to make sure to prioritize the time in your schedule!

Don’t be flexible about your writing time

As you work in school pick-ups and drop-offs, extra-curricular activities, work meetings, and other responsibilities, it can be easy to sacrifice your writing time. Whenever you feel the need to put your writing on the back burner, remember this advice from J.K. Rowling:

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Many writers love to wake up at dawn and write during the quiet hours of the morning. Others work late into the night while everyone is asleep. Some writers are militant about using their lunch break to write furiously in the break room. These routines are very different, but the result is all the same; these writers write.

How can I find the right writing routine?

The truth is, your writing routine will be different from another writer’s. Every author is motivated or distracted by different things, and your daily responsibilities differ from other author’s. For example, Barbara Kinsgsolver, who started working on her first book the day she had her first child, said, “I used to say that the school bus is my muse. When it pulled out of the driveway and left me without anyone to take care of, that was the moment my writing day began, and it ended when the school bus came back. “ (Source)

Agatha Christie, on the other hand, used chore time to brainstorm.

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Make your writing routine a priority

Wake up every morning and tell yourself, “My writing is a priority.” Say it out loud and really mean it. No one is going to force you to sit down and work on your book, so you have to be the one to set aside the time to put words on the pages. Take a look at your schedule and decide when you can truly dedicate yourself to your book. Be realistic about it. If you absolutely dread mornings, don’t set yourself up for failure by scheduling 4 am wake-up calls. If you know that your Saturdays will be filled with soccer games, make that your day off.

Wake up every morning and tell yourself, “My writing is a priority.”

Your writing time is important. It is not leisure time spent in front of the TV. It is not a hobby. You are telling your story, and your story matters! Make sure you schedule time to write, even if you have to break it up into smaller increments. It’s ok if you can’t dedicate several hours to your book every day, but figure out how much time you need to work on it each week and then stick to that schedule.

You can write your book in one year, but you have to dedicate time to a writing routine! As you settle back into your school or work routines, make sure you schedule plenty of time to work on your book.


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Nonfiction Writing Technique: Psychological Distance

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There’s a concept in writing called psychological distance, and good writers know how to use it.  For those of you who studied psychology, you may remember the construal level theory in social psychology, which classifies your thoughts as either abstract or concrete.

It’s a bit of a slippery concept and not that easy to define. It’s like trying to describe the word “intimacy.” Hard to pin down, but you know it when you feel it, don’t you?  Or better yet, you know it when you DON’T feel it.

If something feels very close to you, you tend to think about it in concrete terms. If something feels far, you usually think about it in a more abstract way. And that’s what we’re talking about here – whether something or someone in your writing feels close or far away.

Your readers must feel close enough to trust you. So how do you bring your readers close, how do you decrease the psychological distance between you and them? You simply make sure that your readers see the person or object in concrete terms.

Take strawberries, for example. If you had a bowl of fresh strawberries in front of you, you’d see their color, size and texture. You’d notice their ruby red flesh psychological distanceimprinted with tiny golden seeds, their bright green crown, and perhaps a stem. You might smell the sweetness of the ripe fruit and start salivating at the thought of eating one.

These are all concrete observations.

On the other hand, if you thought about strawberries in an abstract manner, you might picture a tiny part of the produce section of a massive grocery store, stacked with a few rows of something red in cardboard containers.   

To decrease psychological distance, you pull your reader in, you zoom in on your scene like a photographer would when staging a close-up shot.

Here are some tools you can use to decrease psychological distance:

  • Sensory language – use more than one sense in describing a scene
  • Use common language that doesn’t call attention to itself, mainly short, everyday words, and uncomplicated sentences
  • Showing the viewpoint character’s feelings (SHOW don’t tell)
  • Show the character react in a less-than-perfect, human way
    (eg s/he can get annoyed, feel cranky, act selfish… s/he’s not always a Hero, any more than real heroes are)
  • Use quick paced dialog. Dialog makes you feel part of the conversation and lets you get close enough to participate in the action

 

When you pull the reader in close and let them see the details, you have closed that psychological distance and will hold the reader’s rapt attention. In turn, they will want to keep reading!

 


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My Lessons Learned as a Femalepreneur

I’ve worked with many women business owners over the years, and it makes 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!

What about you? Are you an aspiring femalepreneur ready to expand your credibility and increase your following by writing a book? Contact me today. I’d be honored to help.


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If You Want to Write a Good Book-Make Time To Read

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Writing is so much more than putting words on paper or typing them onto a screen. If you want to be a truly great writer, you’ll need to work at improving your craft through practice, research, and, of course, reading. You might think an online writing coach would only assign writing exercises as homework, but reading a book could just as easily be a worthwhile assignment.

Online writing coach recommends reading to improve writing

Make time to read

We are all busy and finding time to write can be difficult enough, but that doesn’t mean you should let your reading pile stack up. When you are feeling stressed and crunched for time, reading can actually be the key to re-centering yourself. Studies show that just thirty minutes of dedicated reading time will do more to reduce stress levels than more traditional methods such as going for a walk or having a calming cup of tea. Any online writing coach will tell you that writing while stressed rarely results in quality content. If your writing is starting to feel forced or you find yourself with a bad case of writer’s block, pick up a book and unwind a little.
Set aside 30 minutes of each day to read a good book. It can be during your lunch break, right before bed, or even first thing in the morning. It may seem impossible to squeeze 30 minutes of reading into your busy schedule, but if you want to improve as a writer, you need to make the time to read.

Active readers have more diverse styles and vocabularies

Who needs a thesaurus when you have a good book? When you read a book you are exposed to new words that you either comprehend through context or will perhaps be compelled to investigate further. Whether you make the conscious choice to absorb the words, chances are you will eventually incorporate them into your speech or writing.

Great writers read to see what works and what doesn’t work. A good online writing coach will stress the importance of exposing yourself to different voices and a variety of writing styles. Avid readers are constantly exposed to fresh voices and interesting subject matter that can open their minds up to new ideas which can be implemented in their own writing. A great book can influence your writing style, inspire you to try new things, and kick start your desire to write. If you do not continue to read new material, you will have a hard time improving your own writing skills.

Read outside of your genre

While it’s useful to read books within your own genre to get a sense of what other writers are doing, you should also diversify your reading list. Nonfiction writers do not have to stick to nonfiction books! In fact, reading novels can help cultivate creativity and even stir up memories of personal experiences. It’s very important to read books both for work and for pleasure. In fact, this Stanford study shows that a different area of the brain is activated when you read for leisure than when you read as if studying for an exam.

If you hire me as your online writing coach, I can guarantee you that I will recommend adding designated reading time into your daily schedule. Good readers make great writers, and I’m in the business of helping people become excellent writers!


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Summer Reading Lists-Some Nonfiction Classics Never Die

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Summer is the perfect time to delve into a book, whether you decide to read while lounging on a blanket in a park or curled up on the couch during a summer storm. New releases are exciting, but it’s always great to pull out classic nonfiction books that have stood the test of time. If you are an aspiring author, you can look to some of these successful writers for a bit of inspiration.

nonfiction books for an aspiring author

1. The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

This self-help book focuses on helping the reader narrow in on habits that are preventing them from moving forward in life. The Power of Less could help any aspiring author simplify their life and make more time to work on their book, but this is an especially great read for anyone who wants to write a self-help book of their own. Explore Babauta’s writing style and see what styles and techniques might work in your own writing.

2. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you want to write a memoir, this is a great book to read for a bit of inspiration. The book covers one woman’s journey of self-discovery after she goes through a divorce and decides to travel the world. Gilbert is honest about her loneliness and how lost she feels as she hops from Italy to India and Indonesia. Eat, Pray, Love shows how to take a story that is uniquely yours and still make it relatable to readers. Any memoir that can hold a spot on the New York Times Best Seller List for 187 weeks is certainly worth a read for an aspiring author looking to write a memoir.

3. A Brief History of Time From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen W. Hawking

Stephen Hawking is recognized as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists and cosmologists of all time and he was able to write a non-fiction book that is extremely accessible. This book not only further solidifies Hawking’s status as an expert in his field, but it also shows that he is a stand-out teacher who is able to reach audiences and students outside of his specialized field. If you are looking to share your knowledge in a way that allows readers to absorb the information, take a look at how Hawking managed to do just that.

4. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…and it’s All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

Carlson truly established himself as an authority in the field of psychotherapy when his book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s All Small Stuff, held the number one spot on the New York Times Best Sellers List for over 100 weeks. Carlson even went on to become a popular guest on talk shows, which helped him further promote his book. This book is the perfect read to motivate an aspiring author to write a book that will show off their specialized knowledge and help people along the way.

5. Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

You might recognize the name Malcolm Gladwell from our previous blog post, Writing Insights from Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell has written several successful nonfiction books, but Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, is an especially intriguing read. The book discusses how spontaneous decisions made in the blink of an eye are often better than well-thought-out plans. Gladwell is a psychologist who combines intensive research with engaging writing that allows the reader to get caught up in the narrative. This is a great way to expand your horizons and get a good look how one nonfiction author made his specialty interesting and accessible to the average reader.

Every aspiring author needs to read!

This is far from a comprehensive list, but it’s a great start.  Make the most of your summer and check as many books off your “to read” list as you can.


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Even a Business Leader Needs Help

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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’re already a mentor to others, and you know that what you know can 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. Yes, you’re successful, but sometimes even a successful business leader needs help reaching others.

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-that’s where I can help.

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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Nonfiction Writing Technique: 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 out 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 languageA couple of years 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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Father’s–We Can’t Do It Without You

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Last month the world paid tribute to all our mothers. On Sunday, June 16th, 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 uninvolved 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.

Fathers, Learn How To Connect With Your Kids With The Help of Rich Daniels

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 father to his three beautiful and uniquely different children, Rich brings hope and inspiration, as well as a multitude of ideas for fathers to try 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.

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. His book, A Tourist In My Own Life: For Father’s Who Yearn For a Deeper Relationship With Their Children is available now for purchase and would make a wonderful gift for every father this Father’s Day. Click here to get your copy today!

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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Nonfiction Writing Technique: Pacing

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This summer while you’re working on your book, it’s important to keep techniques like pacing top-of-mind. Never heard of the term? It’s OK! Keep reading to learn how mastering this format will make your readers eager for more and keep your book at the top of their mind!

The term 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.

What about you? Do you need help writing a book? Have a manuscript but don’t know where to go from there? We can help. Contact us today to find out how

 


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Define Your Purpose

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It’s almost summer. School’s out, and that vacation is just around the corner. Take some time off, but no matter how hot it gets outside, you must take time to water the garden! Let me explain. As a nonfiction book coach, I have the privilege of working with people from all walks of life. But something funny tends to happen in the summer. They’ve worked hard all year on their book, but for some, the summer months can make them want to go kerplunk and put their book aside until the Fall. Don’t let that be you. Whether you’re a coach, speaker, or entrepreneur, you still must water the garden, even when it’s hot outside! And that means the work should continue!

This is especially true for public speakers! If you’re a public speaker, you must continue to work the garden to set up speaking engagements, whether they’re scheduled now or later in the year. But first, your purpose must be defined.

Brand Yourself to Show People What You Are All About

If you want to prove yourself as a desirable speaker and land more speaking engagements, you need to establish a clear purpose. When you try to appeal to every audience, you don’t stand out as an expert in anything. If you brand yourself as an authority in a specific field, you are more likely to get booked to speak at relevant events.

So how can you decide on your personal brand and purpose?

brand yourself

It’s important to take a closer look at who you are, what you do, and what messages you hope to convey through your public speaking. If you are a personal finance expert, maybe your purpose is to help the average person better understand their finances and manage them. If you are a domestic abuse survivor, maybe your purpose is to tell your story of survival and help others recognize dangerous situations and see that they are strong enough to get out.

Be unique

Your personal brand and purpose might be similar to others within the same field, so what makes you so special? When you brand yourself, make sure that your purpose sets you apart from the rest. Make your message one that people will be dying to hear. If you want to get booked, you need to be like a great movie trailer — catch people’s interest and leave them wanting more.

Show The World You Are Available

You could be an excellent public speaker with a wealth of knowledge, but how will anyone ever find you if they don’t know you are available? If you want to brand yourself as an expert and public speaker, you will need to put information about your skills online so that the people who are interested in booking you can find you.

A bio is essential, as people will want to know your background, including relevant personal, professional, and academic achievements. There should be a clear statement, separate from your bio, stating the topics that you address for your public speaking engagements. That clarity alone will give a valuable preview of your unique message.

Visuals are always useful to catch people’s eyes, so whenever possible, include videos and photos of yourself in action. You want to demonstrate that you are confident and captivating in front of an audience.

Find Your Purpose And Be the Best You

As I always say, you are the only one who can tell your story. Explore yourself and your story to decide what your purpose is as a speaker, and then commit to the brand you have put forward. Clarity and confidence are sure to lead to more speaking engagements on your calendar.

Of course, one of the best ways to establish yourself as an expert in your field is to write a book, and it would be my privilege to show you how. But no matter what, continue your work this summer and enjoy the fruits of your labor later with a busy Fall speaking calendar!

 


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Nonfiction Writing Techniques: Conflate

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Do you know that word—conflate? Conflate means to combine or blend things, to fuse them into a single entity. It’s a helpful nonfiction technique where you merge several events or conversations or relationships and present it as one single event or conversation or relationship. It allows you to efficiently cover a span of time without boring your reader to death with the blow-by-blow details when all they really need are the pertinent points.

Do you know that word – Conflate? Conflate means to combine or blend things, to fuse them into a single entity.  It’s a helpful nonfiction technique where you merge several events or conversations or relationships and present it as one single event or conversation or relationship. It allows you efficiently to cover a span of time without boring your reader to death with the blow-by-blow details when all they really need are the pertinent points.

Spare Your Readers the Unnecessary Details

Let’s say, for example, that you had umpteen conversations with your spouse about adopting a child over the course of two years. In the first conversation, you might have talked about the possibility of adoption. And you talked about that for a number of months. Then you moved on and had numerous discussions about foreign vs. domestic adoption, older child vs. infant adoption, same race vs. other race adoption. These conversations took another several months. Finally, after two years, you made the decision to pursue a foreign adoption of an older child.

Do you need to drag your readers through all those conversations and decision points?  Maybe and maybe not. It depends upon the purpose of your book. Let’s conflate writing tipssay your book is about helping a foreign-born child assimilate into a family and culture that doesn’t look anything like them, and how to be your child’s advocate to overcome the unique obstacles they will face.

Does the reader really care about the two years you spent discussing adoption, or do they want to get to the purpose? My guess is they want the meat of your message, not your method of arrival.

So how do you handle those two years of discussion? Conflate it! Use dialog to convey all the pertinent information, and boil it down to a couple of conversations. Here’s how you might approach it:

“I think it’s time we face the truth. We probably aren’t going to give birth our own child, but maybe we’re not supposed to,” he said.

“It’s hard to give that up,” she said.

“I know, honey,” he said, “but we’re not getting any younger. What if we changed course while we still can? We’re not too old to adopt. I know the process takes time, who knows how long? If we want to have a child, I think we ought to consider this. To move in a new direction.”

“I don’t know. Maybe you’re right. It’s practically impossible to find a baby here, so I don’t know if that would be any better,” she said.

“What if we don’t look for a baby?” he said. “There are lots of children who need a loving home. Maybe we should think about rescuing a child, instead of searching for an infant.”

“One of the women in my support group showed me a picture of the orphans in Haiti,” she said. “They gathered them together after those earthquakes, but there aren’t enough adults to take care of them. One little girl – she looked about seven years old – had the brightest eyes, but her smile, it wasn’t right. Like she knew she had to smile for the picture, but only her mouth moved. She looked really, really sad.”

You can CONFLATE two years of the backstory of how this couple decided on a foreign adoption into a single conversation, and move the action forward.

Tell Your Story Like One of the Great Storytellers

Here’s another example of conflating. Let’s say you are a teacher, and you have had numerous students with a mild form of autism. Your book is about the socialization of the classroom, and over time, you’ve learned how to help these special needs students open up and relate to their classmates. Why not illustrate that through the eyes of ONE child, not four dozen children? Why not show the experience through a single set of eyes, give that child a representative name, and use a single character to demonstrate your teaching methods?

Does this seem dishonest to you? Insincere maybe? Well, if it does, then consider this. All the great teachers were story-tellers. Jesus, Aesop, Buddha, Indian Tribal Chiefs. They taught their people valuable lessons by telling stories. Were the characters in the stories real or did they conflate a number of people or people types into one representative character?

You tell me. Who was the Good Samaritan? Who was the Prodigal Son? Does it matter? Did you learn anything about human nature through Aesop’s fables, even though the characters were animals? Are the lessons any less valuable because you can’t attach them to a specific person?

When you conflate, you tighten your writing and move your story forward. It takes practice, but your story is worth it!

Ready to put this technique into your book? Contact us today and we can help you take the next step!


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Teachers Are Out of This World-Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week May 6th-10th

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This year we’ve talked a lot about writing, publishing, and promoting your book because that’s what I love to do both personally and professionally.  But I want to take a moment this week to pay tribute to teachers across the country.

Teacher Appreciation week is very important to me. As a professional book coach, writer, and former collegiate professor, I will forever be grateful to the teachers who ignited my love for all things “books.” I’ve always had an interest in reading and excelled in writing as a youngster, but it was my teachers who kept me motivated to pursue my dreams. They were always there to offer a kind word of encouragement when I felt discouraged. I believe there isn’t enough appreciation in our world for teachers. You usually only hear about the bad ones when there are millions of terrific teachers who do what they do, simply because they care. Teachers are often underpaid, criticized, and unappreciated for the job they do: to help shape and guide today’s youth. That, in my opinion, deserves more than a simple “thanks.”

teacher appreciation

I believe that our problems—all of them—can be solved, and that the answers are trapped inside of everyday people like you. If we didn’t have teachers to educate, inspire, lead, and cultivate the natural gifts that each person has, think about all the problems that would’ve gone unsolved.

Take a look at what some of these leaders have to say about their former teachers:

“My high school band director, Virgil Spurlin, had a huge impact on my life. Not because he was a particularly great band director. He was quite good, but he was a world-class human being. He took a personal interest in kids, and seemed to instinctively know when they were having trouble at home or having trouble in school, and always to know what to say to them and more importantly maybe what questions to ask to find out what was really going on in their lives. He also was always looking for things that young people could do besides play music. We put on the state band festival every year, for example, and he let lots of us help. And he taught us basic organizational skills and how to allocate resources and move things around. But always he was trying to find things that people were good at. He thought that everybody was good at something and if he just looked hard enough he could find it, he could convince them of it, and he could raise their aspirations and their hopes. He was unbelievable. All my life I thought of him. I stayed in touch with him on and off until he passed away. I really felt that my early years with him convinced me that I could organize and run things. That I could do whatever I wanted to do and that I could actually marshal other people in a common effort, and of course if you’re in politics that’s very important.”                  

-Bill Clinton

“There’s no way there would have been a Microsoft without what they did.”

-Bill Gates

“I credit my education to Ms. Mabel Hefty just as much as I would any institution of higher learning. She taught me that I had something to say — not in spite of my differences, but because of them. She made every single student in that class feel special.”

-Barack Obama

“I doubt I will ever meet another person who had the impact on my life that my English teacher at Episcopal High School did. All children should have a teacher like I had, who they remember when they have children and grandchildren as one of the most fortunate relationships in their lives.”

-Senator John McCain

Ways to Get Involved for Teacher Appreciation Week

The theme for this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week is “Teachers Deliver.” There are countless ways you can get involved this week and show your support for the teachers who have impacted your life. You don’t have to do anything fancy. A simple letter, email, or phone call to the teacher(s) that helped shape the person you are today would be great. Social media is also a great way to get involved. Check out this Promotional Event Toolkit from the National PTA for other ways to celebrate the teachers in your life.

What about you? Do you have a story to tell that can save lives, change lives, or transform society? When you share what you know and what you’ve learned, you become the solution. The answers are inside of you.

If you or someone you know has always wanted to write a book, reach out to us, and we can help make it happen!

 


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