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Nonfiction Book Coach Life Lessons: Awareness-The First Step to Change

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As a nonfiction book coach, I often find myself reflecting about the legacy I’ll leave behind. I’m blessed and beyond grateful to have experienced love, success, and the joy of having children and grandchildren in my life. But my journey hasn’t always been filled with sunshine. Like you, I’ve had trials, tribulations, and problems to endure. It was in some of my darkest moments that I learned many lessons about life for which I’m grateful because those lessons brought about the biggest changes in myself. Those events, while painful, forced me into an awareness of self that I couldn’t have learned any other way. Awareness truly is the first step to change.

Once You’re Aware, Share Your Change With the World

You might be thinking, what does awareness and change have to do with writing a book? Everything. When I meet aspiring authors, I’m often given a surface idea for their book. It isn’t until they hire me as their nonfiction book coach and we start working on their book that they realize their book is actually working on them. Often, in the middle of writing their book—especially if it forces them to remember and write about a painful event—they become more self-aware and start to explore new areas of their life.

The beauty of this awareness, especially if it occurs during the writing process, is that the reader reaps the benefit of the transformation the author shares in their story. That is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to offer hope and help to someone. People need solutions, but they also need to read about people that have gone through something similar and are still standing on the other side, changed for the better.

What about you? What event in your life has forced you to undergo a period of self-awareness? How did you change? I promise, you’re not the only one out there that has gone through what you’ve been through, even though it might feel like it. Someone needs to hear what you have to say. If you or someone you know is ready to share their story, please contact us today and we can help you take the next step. It would be an honor to be your nonfiction book coach!

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How To Write a Nonfiction Book: Don’t Be Afraid To Tell Your Story

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“I really want to learn how to write a nonfiction book,” he told me over the phone, “but I think I have to write it as fiction because people will know who I’m talking about.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “What’s the secret?”

Family secrets. Truths not told. Sensitive feelings. Things swept under the rug. These can be big barriers when deciding how to write a nonfiction book.  Big risks.

Some of us have stories that we’ve had to bury out of respect—or fear—of others. All our lives, we’ve pretended that things are okay, and we’ve hidden truths that have hurt us in order to protect someone else. We’ve lived under the shadow of other people’s choices, and we want to finally be set free. Except we’re afraid. Really afraid.

Perhaps you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse, or you grew up in a violent family, or you suffered under the lash of a parent’s alcoholism or other addiction. Maybe your husband is a closet homosexual or your child is struggling desperately with his or her gender identity. You know your story can literally save or change someone else’s life, but you’re afraid to tell the truth because it could hurt other people. Some of our stories are built from shame. I understand. But you can overcome this fear-keep reading to learn how.

Keep the End in Mind

It might be best to stop obsessing over the people you might hurt and instead to focus on the people you can help. The problem with dirty little secrets is that they get stashed away, and when you find yourself in the middle of one of them, you’re convinced that you’re completely alone because people don’t talk about this stuff.

This doesn’t happen to people like us. Nice people don’t have problems like this.

Don’t talk, don’t see, just pretend.

When you were smack in the middle of your pain, chances are you felt totally alone. There was no one to talk to and no one who understood. This type of isolation is deadly. You have to bury the pain, and you eventually have to split off from yourself to survive. You maintain a public façade that you protect with all your energy, and in doing so, you lose touch with yourself because you’re living a lie.

What if you’d had a book to be your friend? What if you’d connected with a fellow sufferer, the book’s author, and felt the compassion of someone who’d been through the same thing but was now on the other side of it? Would you want to know how things got better for that individual—to see a path out of darkness for yourself?

What if you could be that author?

Human beings are resilient, but there are two things we can’t live without: hope and help. When you tell your story—what you’ve been through, what you’ve endured, and what you’ve overcome—you can be the lifeline for someone who is sinking. You can be that voice of hope and help.

You Don’t Need Permission

If you’ve ever been in a codependent relationship, it’s likely that you don’t want to step on any toes and that you’re overly concerned about others. Guess what? You can forget about other people right now and do what you know is right.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to learn how to write a nonfiction book.  You don’t need to worry about pleasing or displeasing anyone because your focus will be on your audience and offering them hope and help. You’ll be radar-locked on helping those who need you, and everyone else can fall by the wayside. What they think about what you’re doing isn’t your concern. What you know as truth is what matters.

The truth is, there’s a lot of pain in life for most of us, and it usually involves other people. You can be both courageous and discreet when you write your book. Sometimes all you need is the courage and a helping hand to take the first step and I’d be honored to help.

If you or someone you know is ready to learn how to write a nonfiction book and share your story,  please contact us today and we can help you take the next step!

 


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How To Write A Book Step By Step-Make the Time

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How many times a day do you say, “I don’t have time for that?” Maybe it seems impossible to make time to write or to even make time for anything outside of your normal schedule. The people I meet want to learn how to write a book step by step, but their lives are filled with so much: things they want to do, things they need to do. And a lot of things they don’t really want to do, but must. There’s always that race against the clock, which leaves them feeling scattered and torn, like a scarecrow with his stuffing pulled out. At the end of the day, there isn’t much left.

If that’s you, I understand.  But, I’m a firm believer that if something’s important to you, no matter how busy you are, you’ll make time to do it.

Learn How to Write A Book Step By Step

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate to waste time, and the biggest time waster for me is when I have to do something over. I hate doing things twice.

I like to follow a time-tested, straight path that gets me from where I am now to where I want to be while expending the least amount of energy possible to produce an excellent result.

The good news is that there’s a step-by-step process you can follow to become an author. You don’t have time for do-overs. And you certainly don’t have time for an inefficient methodology.

If the shortest path from one point to another is a straight line, you’d better be sure you know that the path you are on will take you where you want to go! The only thing you need to get started is an idea. That’s it. Just an idea. Then, week by week, step by step, you plan the contents of your book and adding to the writing until you have a rough draft, then a finished manuscript. Yes, it takes time, but it doesn’t take forever.

But you don’t want a manuscript, do you? Of course not. You want a book. You need to go beyond the writing and have a clear path to packaging, publishing, and promoting your book. Be sure that’s the path you’re on, a path that takes you all the way from your initial idea to the finished product.

When you write a book, you establish yourself as an expert in your field, increase your credibility, and can attract a followingwith one caveat. It better be a good book. Rushing through it can be catastrophic.

 


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Book Coach Tip: Decide To Write

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Some people are lifelong learners and love the process of going from not knowing anything in a subject area to becoming proficient. That makes sense to me as a book coach. We all want to be the best we can be at what we do. But along the way, we have to learn a lot of little things that can either make us the best at what we do or, if we choose not to learn them, will keep us in the pack of average Joes.

But here’s the deal with me: I only want to know as much as I need to know to use a tool for my intended purpose. I don’t want to learn every single one of its features and functions or try to discover how to use the tool in new ways that I hadn’t considered. You know why? It’s because I’m not a natural lifelong learner. I don’t like details; as a book coach, I love ideas.  I don’t want to learn how to use something; I just want to use it.

In fact, I detest the learning curve. I generally try to find every possible way around it, so I can get on to the using stage. Learning frustrates me; knowing satisfies me. But that’s, unfortunately, not the way the world works. So to know something, I must go through the pain of learning. And I have to follow a process, but I can’t even do that if I haven’t made the decision to do something new and follow through.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
—Lao-tzu

Make a Decision

You know what the hardest part about writing a book is? It’s making the decision to do it. You’ve probably had the idea for your book for a long time. I bet it’s been percolating in your head, banging against the doors to come out. At times it probably drives you crazy, but books don’t write themselves, and the only way yours is going to get written is if you make the decision to do it. You have to decide to write your book then figure out how to start writing it by getting a book coach. It’s your story. Only you can write it.

You Do Matter. You Are Important. You Can Help Other People

You may feel that you don’t have anything to offer that’s worthy of writing a book, but I disagree. Take a look at your life, what you’ve learned, what you’ve been through, what you’ve developed, what you’ve gleaned, what you’ve endured. Take a moment to consider your story of personal growth and all you have done to get to where you are now. You may not know everything else in life, but you do know your own life. You know your own patch of ground, and you know it well. What do you know and what have you learned that can change lives, save lives, or transform society?

If you don’t know how to write a book, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. After making a decision—a commitment to share your story—you just need a plan, a process and the help of a book coach.


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The Power of Writing a Nonfiction Book

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A few years after I began helping people to start writing a nonfiction book, I completely stopped watching the news on television. When I watched the news, it was always negative—filled with terrorist acts, racial violence, bullying politicians, natural disasters, global warming, AIDS, Ebola, Zika virus, mass shootings, heroin overdoses, abused animals, and mistreated children, elders, and women. I had to stop taking it in.

But my aversion to television news doesn’t mean I’m uninformed. I catch the news on the radio or find it online, where it doesn’t affect me as deeply as when I viewed it. Yet I often feel completely overwhelmed by the complex problems in our world. We have so many problems that we don’t even know how to name them anymore. But we do know what doesn’t work. Top-down solutions don’t work. Government can’t fix anything; organized religion hasn’t solved our problems; and heaven knows, we’ve tried to medicate our problems away. In many cases, these attempts have not only complicated the original problem but have spawned entirely new problems.

But there is a solution. I believe that our problems—all of them—can be solved and that the answers are trapped inside people like you. When you share what you know and what you’ve learned—when you start writing a nonfiction book—you become the solution. Someone needs to hear your message.

Woman staring into field

Hope and Help

There are two things I believe people can’t live without—apart from food, water, and air. Those two things are hope and help.

People need hope that things can and will get better; and they need help to get from where they are to where they want to be.

Nancy Erickson

When you start writing a nonfiction book, when you share what you’ve been through, what you’ve learned, what you’ve overcome, what you’ve developed, or the path you took, you become the voice of hope and help.

You see, there are people like you who have the answers, who have certain solutions. And then there are other people who, in some cases, are literally dying as they wait for those answers. You have the answers they need, and you can offer the hope and help they crave simply by telling your story. You are the solution.

Think about what you’ve learned and how you can be a force that changes lives, saves lives, or transforms society. Don’t waste your pain and struggles. Share them with the world, put them to work, and let the mess become the messengerthe messenger of hope and help because someone needs to hear it.

Need help writing a nonfiction book?


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Use Your Pain: Writing to Heal

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Life is hard. It’s also good, but it is hard at times. I know that you don’t leave this earth without some scars, but you can use writing to heal. While I’m blessed and thankful to be alive, my life hasn’t always been easy. As a nonfiction book coach, I’ve learned how to write an inspirational nonfiction book when it hurts. And I’ve worked with clients who have overcome unspeakable hardships and have chosen to write through their pain to heal themselves.

Writing to heal has a way of freeing the emotional knots of trauma and releasing pitted anxiety. Before I became a professional book coach and writer, I was an avid journaler and still am today. Learning to write through my own personal pain has freed my soul.

Writing Heals Wounds

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. I don’t mean that I’ve always been a professional writer, but I’ve always loved to write. In fact, I’m not sure if I would’ve survived my childhood without my journal. The minute I started writing to heal, I felt immediate release from anxiety and depression, which began to leave my body soon as my pen hit the paper. Years later, I discovered that there truly are some physical and emotional benefits of writing.

Researcher, author, and scientist Dr. James Pennebaker of the University of Texas, explains in his book, Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions, that excessive holding back of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can place people at risk for both major and minor diseases. More than simply a catharsis or venting, translating events into language can affect brain and immune functions. The subjects he tested had an increase in germ-fighting lymphocytes in their blood and lower stress levels. Writing was found to reduce anxiety and depression, improve grades in college, and aid people in finding jobs. He also reported that months after people had written about traumas over 70% reported that writing helped them to understand both the event and themselves better. (Source)

I don’t know about you, but I’m always fascinated when science backs something I’ve always believed. That sort of validation helps to reaffirm my God-given calling of helping others tell their stories.

What about you? Nobody really knows what you’ve been through.  But they see how strong you are, what you’ve endured, and what you’ve lost. You’re a survivor, an overcomer—not by choice but by necessity. You know what it feels like to be thrust into a situation you neither asked for nor anticipated. Like a snap, everything changed, and you had to learn how to live life on a new plane. The worst part was that there didn’t seem to be any real help, no guide to get you through, and you felt all alone.

Through writing, you can overcome and heal. Who else can you help today? If you or someone you know wants to learn to how to write a nonfiction book, please contact us today!


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Writing Tip: Be Authentic in Your Nonfiction Writing

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Nonfiction writing requires that we be authentic. Webster’s dictionary defines authentic as “not false or imitation” and “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” Webster makes it sound so simple. But if you’re like me, it took a long time to become the person I was created to be, to truly embrace my authentic self.

As a child, did you feel pressure to become the person an authority figure thought you should be? Did you feel accepted when you behaved and acted in ways that they approved? As an adult, did you realize that the person you present to the world wasn’t really you at all, but because of an underlying need to be accepted by others, you kept up the facade anyway? For a long time, that’s what I did. Living an authentic life was something I had to learn.

Your Audience Deserves the Real You

As a nonfiction book coach, I have the opportunity to work with people from all over the world. Whether their nonfiction writing is about a new method of cooking or how they overcame a painful childhood trauma, I always tell them the same thing: your audience deserves to know the real you.

Your personal story is one of the most important parts of your book. Some writers, particularly if they’re writing a business book, want to leave out this part and simply share their knowledge or instruct the audience. That would be a mistake.

Before you can tell your readers anything, you must earn the right to be heard. Nobody likes to be told what to do, especially if they don’t know anything about you. What makes you an authority on this subject? Why should they listen to you? Those are the questions you answer when you share your own story.

And your readers don’t want the whitewashed version of you. Share your high points and the deep canyons, the wins and the demoralizing losses, the beautiful and the ugly. You must be real and transparent. When you’re open and honest, you give the reader permission to be open and honest, too.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It takes a lot of courage to be this vulnerable. We all want to put our best foot forward to make a good impression. We like to hide the messes we’ve made, but sometimes the mess has become your message.

That’s what’s so effective about my Executive Group Coaching classes. You get to share your failures and foibles in a safe place, test out your message with others in the class, and gain strength from doing so—before you bare your skin to the world.

What about you? Are you ready to show people who you really are?  If you or someone you know wants to learn to how to write a nonfiction book, please contact us today!

 


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NEW Book Marketing Services from The Book Professor!

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You got your story out of your head and onto paper. Your book is finally finished. But how will people know that your book is available? How will they find YOUR book amongst the masses? Writing your book is the first hurdle; getting others to notice it is the next!

Well, look no further. We are excited to announce our NEW partnership with the prestigious Smith Publicity to offer Book Marketing Services for all of our clients!

Get Attention for Your Book and Impact Sales

Learn one-on-one from book industry experts—on your schedule, and tailored to your genre and level of expertise—specific and actionable techniques to drive awareness to your book and author platform. Marketing your book can be overwhelming. These services are designed to take away the fear and put in the fun.

How It Works

Social Media Consultation Service Offerings-$325 each

Our packages are completely customized to your skill level and needs. For example, if you’re a social media beginner, one of our experts will work with you to create your platform from scratch and teach you the basic rules of engagement. If you are already well-versed on a social media platform, but would like to execute better, our advanced experts will custom-craft a plan to work with you to optimize your existing site, incorporate your book into your postings (without offending followers), decipher analytics, and/or understand potential advertising options.

Before your call, you complete an author questionnaire that gives your consultant time to research and tailor ideas specific to your book, genre, and goals. You will also receive educational handouts or “homework” before the call(s) to help ensure your session(s) are as jam-packed as possible. At the end of the service, you receive handouts to help you continue developing ideas and techniques.

If you or someone you know is interested in marketing their book, reach out to us and we will help make it happen!

 

 

 

 


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writing tips

Nonfiction Writer Tool: Setting

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The time and place of the action in a literary work is called the SETTING.

In literature, the setting consists of where the story takes place, as well as the time period. It is  critical to establish a setting in your story and its scenes, so that the reader can visualize it. Remember when we talked about grounding your reader and answering the journalistic questions who, what, when, where, why, and how? The when and the where are questions of time and place – and they comprise the setting. If your readers don’t know when or where the story or scene is happening, they will be lost.

Setting is, essentially, the context in which a story occurs. You know how a picture has a foreground and a background? So does a story. The main characters and their actions form the foreground. The time and place of the events and the social environment that surround these events form the background, or the setting. People exist in a particular time and place. Where we live may contribute not only to our personality, but also to our values, attitudes, and even our problems. In short, the setting can have great impact on the people in your story and what they do. 

Setting is often a critical element in a story. Can you imagine The Grapes of Wrath set anywhere but in the Dust Bowl era of California? The Scarlet Letter set anywhere but Puritan New England? The Help set anywhere but the south in the 1960s? The Hunger Games set anywhere but a dystopian future? 

Setting: Developing Time and Place

Time and place = where it happened and when. These two elements are the bedrock of your story and must be developed in order to establish and maintain credibility. It wouldn’t make any sense to write about current-day cosmetic procedures in the 1800’s or sending urgent messages by telegram in the 21st century. 

Eudora Welty once said, “Every story would be another story, and unrecognizable, if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else.”

Four Types of Time

There are actually four kinds of time, and each one has a distinct role. They are clock time, calendar time, seasonal time and historical time. 

Clock time can be used to provide suspense or create certain moods or feelings. Think of the pressure of a looming deadline or the girl who sits by the phone, waiting for him to call.  

Calendar time grounds us in the day, month, year, and even a particular day of the week or time of the month. Calendar time can provide an understanding of what takes place in your writing. For example, if you’re in accounting and mention April 15th , Americans will know understand the pressures of tax time.  Others associate meaning with Friday the 13th, or July 4. In the UK Boxing Day is significant and in France, Bastille Day. 

Seasonal time, of course, refers to the four seasons, but winter in Minneapolis is a different setting from winter in Key West, Florida. And since they’re in a different hemisphere, January in Sydney, Australia is nothing like January in New York. Most of us have different lifestyles in different seasons, and even if you life in a moderate climate, it is still dark by 6:00 in December and light until after 9:00 in June.  You don’t snow ski in Vail in July, nor do you water ski in January in Missouri.

Historical time probably has the most impact on setting and can establish a psychological or sociological understanding of behaviors and attitudes. “Time” in this sense refers to specific moments in history. People communicate differently depending on the time in which they live. Americans in the 1950s, overall, communicate differently than Americans in the 2000s. Not that they necessarily speak a different language, but these two groups of people have different assumptions about the world and how to communicate based on the era in which they live. Think of the politically correct language that has replaced the pre-civil rights language from years past, and you get the point. Historical time affects the religious, mental, moral, social, and emotional climate of the setting.

Place 

Now about place. Place can include the geographical location, which can range from an entire country to a single room. I used to love to introduce my university students to the classic fiction story “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, which pretty much takes place in one bedroom, where Gregor, the main character literally turns into a bug. It’s one of the most riveting pieces of literature I’ve ever read, and most of it’s contained within those four walls. 

When writing about a specific location, you might include the physical aspects of the environment. What did it look like, sound like, etc. For example, a subway station has its unique sights and sounds, as does a church. 

But there’s more to it than that. We may find significance in the location where the action occurs, but there are also nonphysical characteristics, as well as physical. And the nonphysical environment can vary from geographic location to geographic location within the same time era. Think of cultural influences such as education, social standing, economic class, and religious beliefs. These certainly vary from location to location. Education is different in Harlem in 2017 than it is in Long Island. It’s different in Catholic schools versus public schools within the same city. There are distinct differences in social standing in India today because of their caste system, in the same year, in the same city. 

Writing tip: Setting

A person’s dialogue, statements, and behavior can reveal their place in society, as well as their geographic location.

 So how do you use time and space to write an effective setting? Quite simply, you use words. Setting is created by language. 

Writing your story involves more than just describing the setting. Using psychological cues from the characters, writers can embed time and place in actions and events, at the same time revealing motivation and goals. The details should be carefully chosen to reflect the character’s inner values, thoughts, and feelings. 

Regarding time:

  • In what period of time does the story or scene take place? 
  • Are there any historical events that affect the characters? 
  • How long does it take for the action to occur? 
  • What clues can you as the author give for the passage of time? 
  • Is the passage of time important to the story? 
  • Does the slow or fast passage of time help to understand the character’s actions and thoughts? 

Regarding place: 

  • Where does the action take place?
  • In what planet, country, locale?
  • What does it look like, sound like, feel like? 
  • Is there a dominant impression of the setting? 
  • Is the geographical location important? 

Setting is, essentially, the context in which a scene or story occurs, and includes the time, the place, and the social environment. It is important to establish a setting in your story, so that the reader can visualize and participate in it.

Just a little more food for thought as you write!


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How to Write a Nonfiction Book When It Hurts

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This year, our focus is to find 117 Solutions to our most difficult problems, an effort we call 117 Solutions in 2017. I’m encouraged by the response we’ve had, but I also feel humbled when I’m asked how to write an inspirational nonfiction book when it hurts. Not all stories are pretty, especially those about child abuse.

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How to write a nonfiction book in small steps

How to Write a Nonfiction Book in Small Steps

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By Nancy Erickson, Book Coach

Have you been thinking about how to write a book, how to get published, or how to write an autobiography? Whether you’re a writer or not, is it your dream to start writing a book and becoming an author? Your dreams on how to write a book, how to make a book, or even how to write an ebook aren’t out of your reach!

When you’re learning how to write a book, you have to understand that it’s a large project, and it’s not something you’re going to accomplish overnight. So what’s the key to large projects? You break them down into tiny little steps. You’ve heard people say how do you eat an elephant. The answer is one bite at a time.

Well it’s true; what you do is you break down the task of how to start writing a book into bite-size chunks. When we do that, we develop a Book Map, which is a visual representation of your entire book. I can contend that if you only have 15 minutes, you can actually develop your strategy on how to write a book in 15 minute increments because it’s broken down in such small pieces that you can take those pieces you can write and assemble them into a comprehensive manuscript.

Your experience is unique. In fact, no one else has your story or lived through what you’ve learned. You are the only one who can do this, but if you’ve never written a book before, you probably don’t know how to get started. And how would you know? If you want to know how to start a book, how to publish a book, or how to write an eBook, The Book Professor is here to help.


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self-help-book-publishing-kimberly-burke

Local St Louis leader publishes self-help book

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self-help-book-publishing-kimberly-burkeKimberly Burke is a woman on a mission. She sets goals and nothing, but nothing, can stop her from achieving them, and she shows other how to do it in her book The Code to Greatness. Kimberly Burke is a growth coach, goal getter, and transformational speaker

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