I am honored to share with you a fantastic guest blog post from author and poet Elizabeth Hazen, as part of the wonderful blog tour for “Girls Like Us”.
For Christmas, which seems like three lifetimes ago, my parents gave my husband a book of interesting words from around the world*. An engineer who has a soft spot for spoonerisms, puns, and wordplay in every form, he found instant delight in this book. Did you know that Germans have a word for the weight we gain from stress-eating? Kummerspeck. Or that the Scots have a word for that awkward pause when you’ve forgotten the name of the person you’re introducing? Tartle. Among my favorites are the whimsical Swedish smultronställe, a place of wild strawberries; the romantic Italian dormiveglia, the space between sleeping and waking; and the essential Japanese tsundoku, that pile of unread books on my bedside table that grows with each passing month.
Needless to say, I took that book of words from my husband, adding one more to my stack.
Getting through my tsundoku – or at least managing it – is one of my goals for this summer. I am a teacher, and the summer brings with it the beautiful freedom of longer days and fewer responsibilities, but the lack of structure –ironically, frustratingly, and inevitably – invites bad habits and a gradual decline into despair over the time I fear I am wasting. As a result, I know I need to impose some kind of schedule – a routine that will keep me on track. Part of that routine, I have decided, will include reading more poetry.
One of the lessons I most love to teach to my seventh-grade students involves defining poetry. We examine a range of definitions – the top of our heads being blown off, the best words in the best order, language at its most distilled and most powerful. We can debate the specifics, note our preferences, but that words are the poet’s medium is indisputable. Imperfect, delicious, malleable, living, breathing words. It is my love of words that I always return to during the darkest moments, and boy are these days dark.
In a review of my recent collection, Girls Like Us, Nandini Bhattacharya defines the poem as “ineffable interrogator, ethicist and chronicler of human history.” Indeed, I certainly have found more accuracy and truth in poems than in the newspaper, more solace in poems than in meditation or exercise, more freedom in poems than in the endless walks I take to escape the confines of quarantine. As when I was in the thick of adolescent depression, poems come to rescue me, to remind me that the legacy of human sadness and loss and pain is infinite, but so is our legacy of resilience and power and change.
Perhaps poems allow us to do what the Dutch call uitwaaien: “to take a break and walk away from the demands of life to clear one’s head.” Or maybe life demands poems, and it is precisely in these moments of trauma and fear and violence that we must dive in head-first. Whatever they do, I am grateful for them. Here are several recent collections by women that I highly recommend. Each, in its own way, has given me what the Icelandic call radljóst: enough light to find my way.
Difficult Fruit by Lauren K. Alleyne, Peepal Tree, 2014
Thrust by Heather Derr-Smith, Persea Books, 2017
American Samizdat by Jehanne Dubrow, Diode Editions, 2019
The Miracles by Amy Lemmon, C&R Press, 2018
Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis, Knopf, 2016
Code by Charlotte Pence, Black Lawrence Press, 2020
How to Exterminate the Black Woman by Monica Prince, [Pank Books], 2019
American Lyric Trilogy by Claudia Rankine, Graywolf, 2004, 2014, 2020
The State She’s In by Lesley Wheeler, Tinderbox Editions, 2020
*The book of words I refer to is Other Wordly: Words Both Strange and Lovely from Around the World by Yee-Lum Yak with illustrations by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Elizabeth Hazen is a poet, essayist, and teacher. A Maryland native, she came of age in a suburb of Washington, D.C. in the pre-internet, grunge-tinted 1990s, when women were riding the third wave of feminism and fighting the accompanying backlash. She began writing poems when she was in middle school, after a kind-hearted librarian handed her Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind. She has been reading and writing poems ever since.
Hazen’s work explores issues of addiction, mental health, and sexual trauma, as well as the restorative power of love and forgiveness. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, American Literary Review, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, The Normal School, and other journals. Alan Squire Publishing released her first book, Chaos Theories, in 2016. Girls Like Us is her second collection. She lives in Baltimore with her family.
Most of us have heard that walking is good for our bodies: walking can reduce our risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, dementia, diabetes, several types of cancer, and more. Some of us have heard that walking is good for our brains: walking can help improve our decision-making, boost our executive function, and fuel our creativity. And many of us have heard that walking is good for our emotional well-being: walking can boost our mood and can be a valuable tool in the battle against depression.
But what about loneliness? Can walking help there too?
We believe so. A study my company undertook last year revealed that women who regularly walk with their friends are 2.5 times less likely to feel lonely often.
Why is it that walking together is so powerful?
First, we are social beings and we are wired to crave — and enjoy — shared experiences. Researchers believe this comes directly from our biological need to belong: our ancestors were a whole lot safer walking in the woods with their tribe than they were walking the woods by themselves.
Second, our hormones help. Walking increases levels of oxytocin — a hormone that heightens our connections with others. So when you walk with a friend, your biology helps foster a deeper, more meaningful connection. And yes, oxytocin is the same hormone that is released during childbirth and nursing, which makes sense because it encourages us to bond with our babies.
Third, extensive research shows that our brains process differently when we are walking. Because only part of our brain is occupied with putting one foot in front of the other, the rest of our brain is free to roam, to think more deeply. More importantly, when we are walking together, we can comfortably take the moments of quiet to process and give ourselves the chance to think, and connect, more deeply.
Finally, because conversations tend to flow more easily and because walking together provides an activity — and one that takes place away from home — it is far more comfortable to invite a new friend for a walk than to invite them to your home. Indeed, many mom friendships have been formed from the question “Do you want to take a walk after school drop off?”
In short, walking together can be an incredibly powerful antidote to loneliness. It provides the perfect environment for conversation and connection. It offers time and space, free of distractions. It gives us the increased pleasure that comes from sharing an experience. It delivers a blast of oxytocin that encourages us to connect with one another. And it provides an easy way to begin to connect with a new friend.
About the Author
Joyce Shulman, founder and CEO of 99 Walks and Macaroni Kid reaches millions of moms each month with hyper-local and national e-newsletters and websites, social media content, video and her Weekly Walk podcast. Having created a one-of-a-kind digital platform, she connects families to the wonders of their own communities and inspires women to chase their dreams and crush their goals.
Her most recent endeavor, 99 Walks, is on a mission to combat loneliness and improve fitness through the simple act of encouraging moms to walk together. Her mission? Nothing short of getting a million women walking.
Throughout her two decades as an entrepreneur, Joyce has guided SAHMs, teachers and even MBAs to success. Joyce shares how moms need to “take care of mama bear” and avoid the “martyr mom syndrome.” Her experience in business and leading mompreneurs makes her a coveted speaker where she shares tactics for beating burnout, fueling creativity, goal crushing, how walking can fuel productivity and performance, and more.
Joyce received her Bachelor’s in Business Management from the University of Maryland and her Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, from St. John’s University School of Law. After law school, she spent more than a dozen years as a New York City lawyer where her practice focused on complex commercial litigation.
A self-confessed idea junkie, in 1998, Joyce abandoned law firm life to liberate her entrepreneurial spirit and focus on the things that are most important to her: family, community and empowering women to chase their dreams.
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.
As we tread through the New Year, we find some, if not all, of our resolutions falling by the wayside. However, one doesn’t have to wait till December 31st and the rush of holiday feels and stress to decide to make changes. Any day is a good day to take care of yourself, and one of the best things you can do is introduce some self-care into your life.
With self-care becoming a growing topic I want to be clear about what it’s not. It isn’t a license to make unhealthy choices or shirk responsibility. It’s not about spending sprees or throwing around money you don’t have. In a world full of consequences, the last thing it should encourage is a bucket full of regrets when you must face the music from your choices.
Our world is ever -spinning and growing, and ever rushing us from one moment to the next. Self-care is about the pause where you allow yourself to smell the roses, as it were. Where the must crucial aspect is an honest internal dialogue. Taking a few moments to quietly address and asses your needs whether they are emotional, physical or mental. Once you figure out what you are in need of to achieve balance you then select an activity to improve that.
So here are some simple things you can do every day to both provide yourself with care as well as opening up dialogue within yourself, so it becomes second nature.
GET MORE SLEEP. Countless studies show that the majority of us are not getting enough sleep. We probably all know better sleep equals better mood, but did you know it also helps prevent weight gain, improves memory, hand eye coordination as well as strengthen your heart? It truly is one of the best things you can give yourself and will help you in making the most of your day. It will make the good days sweeter and provide the strength to get through the bad ones. Yes, despite what many other articles will tell you bad days are sure to be par for the course. There’s no amount of self-help, positive perspective or vitamins that can guarantee a great day every day.
LEAVE YOUR PHONE OFF FOR 1 HOUR. You may wonder how this even applies to self-care. Well, it does, on two levels. Studies show us time and time again that all this technology, social media, and unbound access to more information than any human could every use has a definite downside. It impacts our self-esteem, self-worth, stress levels, concentration, as well as wear down our ability to read most nonverbal cues. Another benefit is this routine time disconnected allows you to reconnect to yourself. You will hear and grow that inner voice that is telling you what it needs. You can spend an hour when you wake up without your phone, or at least an hour before bed. Use this time to read, journal, or even day dream.
TAKE 10-15 MINUTES OUTSIDE. Remember when you were younger and your best days were spent outside, with friends having adventures? Maybe you were on your bikes till the sun went down, or ended the day sitting on a porch with a cold drink or frozen treat. Whatever the case may be, and probably without you realizing it, your mind and body reaped the rewards of the fresh air and the sun shinning on your face. However, the world of adulting leaves us very little time to kick off our shoes and walk through the grass. Endless errands, appointments and responsibilities keep us in our cars, offices, or other building. before we get up to do it all again tomorrow. So, carve out just 10 minutes each day to find your way outside. To feel the sun on your face, the breeze on your skin and the smells that surround you as you take a deep breath.
SAY NO. I can’t say this enough, we spread ourselves too thin. We may have the best of intentions, but we do. Women more so then men feel the inner conflict of guilt that leads them to agree to things they don’t have the time, funds, or plain interest in doing. We mostly do this to prevent hurt feelings or guilt. There’s only one way I can say this, and that’s bluntly. No matter who they are, no matter what you may have to offer…. they can make it without you. Your involvement alone is not enough to make or break any person’s event or favor. They will get by without you, you need you for every moment of your life. Say yes when you can, or when you want to, but say no when you can’t. Every single time, no matter the reason.
DO YOU. This is the part that’s different for everyone, but every single day you need to do one thing solely for your own personal joy. It doesn’t matter how many people depend on you, whether it’s at work or home. From children to coworkers there will always be someone you have to make time for. If you are willing to give it to them then there’s no reason to keep it from yourself. It may be getting yourself your favorite treat on your way to work, taking control of the playlist for your commute and singing out loud, or giving yourself a small upgrade when you’re at the store. It can also be the big things once in a while. Like making up a bucket list, spending a day off going on an adventure, buying that outfit you’ve been eyeing, or having a date night once a week at a new restaurant
I like to tell people that the end of my 30’s marked major changes for me. I became a mother young, and wife even younger. I lived my life for everyone else. My children, husband, parents, friends and any person in between. Then I got in over my head with a person who meant the world to me. Unfortunately, they also suffered from addiction and I found myself being called upon for favor after. The experience of those years led to two major moments. The moment I changed my perspective about almost everything in my life, and the moment I decided to share my story. I learned how to listen to myself. To figure out who I am, what I want and what I need. I also learned how to take all that love, focus, and support I gave to almost everyone and to finally start giving it to myself as well. When I decided to share my story, I spent almost two years writing my novel. Silver Spoons: One’s Journey through Addiction. Despite how many or few copies I may sell I’ve already reaped the benefits of writing it. I saw a dream come to life in finishing a novel, pride at accomplishing something not everyone can do, and peace. I found peace with hearing people tell me their stories. We sadly live in a world where everyone knows an addict or someone who loves an addict.
With all of these experiences and while I have your attention. I would love nothing more than everyone reading this to take care of themselves. Love yourself, nurture yourself, and craft your own stories. I promise you, you’ll never regret that choice
Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction takes an intimate and raw look at the current face of addiction and recovery. Talking about the current opioid epidemic, we follow a young couple while one of them goes through the recovery process. Told through letters, we get an understanding of their relationship as it struggles through his addiction and resulting recovery. From detox, rehab, sober living and the 12 steps of A.A, you get a raw and honest look at the effects of addiction and how they affect relationships.
AUTHOR NOTE: There is explicit and graphic content.
Print Length: 380 Pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Independently Published
Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction is now available to purchase at Amazon.com.
About the Author, Sarah Dickinson
Sarah Dickinson is a lifelong resident in beautiful upstate New York. Mother of two amazing daughters and three equally awesome rescue dogs, she is the author of Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction. She currently attends college and is in the midst of switching careers. When she isn’t doing it all, she reads comic books, blogs, and takes weekend getaways.
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Visit our blog today and you can read an interview with the author of Silver Spoons: One’s Journey Through Addiction and also enter to win a copy of the book!
Hello everyone. Today I am happy to share with you this special spotlight on the novel Georgia Stories on My Mind by author Jackie Rod. First, here is a little bit about the book itself.
Come visit Georgia within these pages as you read heartwarming stories shaped by local traditions and legends. The characters live life to the fullest through joys and hardships. Inhale the essence of Georgia’s revitalized small town squares while eating hand- scooped ice cream on a park bench. Each town has its own magic. Sometimes the most real things in life are things we cannot see but those that deeply touch us, as the folks in these tales learn. Share smiles and shed tears as you travel the curving road of life with these Georgia characters. Are you ready for an unforgettable experience of hope, faith, trust, reconciliation, and love?
Print Length: 259 Pages
Genre: Short Story Anthologies
Publisher: Touch Not the Cat Books
Georgia Stories on My Mind is available to purchase on Amazon.com.
About the Author, Jackie Rod
“A good book transports me to another time and place. It lets me feel the sensation of heroes and heroines— dark loneliness, deep passion, a father’s pride and a mother’s grief.” Jackie Rod is a fiction writer, loving wife of a legal beagle, and mother of three children who has blessed her with seven fantastic grandchildren. After Jackie retired from teaching, her love of words and stories led her to begin writing fiction. Reading and traveling enrich her life and she jumps at the opportunity to teach a workshop or attend a writing conference. She belongs to five writing chapters/groups. Jackie’s work can be found in twelve published books on Amazon, in several Metro Atlanta libraries, and independent bookstores.
And now, I am happy to share with you all a wonderful guest post from the author herself, Jackie Rod.
Family and Friends
Faith, family, friends and purposeful work are the blessings of life. Today we will focus on family and friends, major components of our lives. They can bring us our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows. Usually it falls somewhere in between. We tend to apply our values and viewpoints to our family and friends, even if their perspectives may not be in line with ours.
Most of the time we identify with friends who hold similar values. In times of trouble we can turn to them for solace and comfort. In times of triumph we celebrate together.
Family members, on the other hand, may have viewpoints diametrically opposed to ours. Often arguments can last for years and affect participation at holiday gatherings and other family events. Some people had rather miss an event than have to deal with their anger and feelings of hostility toward others.
Over the years the actual differences of opinion may be forgotten, but the hard feelings remain and are never addressed. Folks can be stubborn. Of course, these same things might hold true for friends and neighbors with whom you disagree. We could write them off and discontinue any relationship rather than address the issue and try to work it out.
Some people are toxic and need to be eliminated from our circles so that our zin is not out of balance. Perhaps a good therapist would offer techniques and strategies for us to get over our hurt feelings and anxiety.
In the end, we all get on with our lives and make allowances for those we love and overlook the failings of best friends, at least the ones we continue to talk to.
Addressing the misunderstandings can begin a process of healing. Put away the pettiness. Forgiveness is a powerful force.
Remember the joy you receive each day from a wonderful family and friends. Notice the light in their eyes when you flash your beautiful smile. Stay bonded, stay thankful, and stay blessed.
— Blog Tour Dates
Today @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us as we celebrate the launch of Jackie Rod’s blog tour of her book Georgia Stories on My Mind. You can read an interview with the author and win a copy of the book.
As part of the amazing new Women on Writing Blog Tour for author Barbara Barth’s novel “The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later”, I am honored to shared this guest blog post from the author today on writing anthologies. I hope you all will enjoy this as much as I did.
I wish I planned better. I’ve always jumped right in doing something without much thought to it. The idea I can do this always crosses my mind first and then I ask myself, what was I thinking? Publishing anthologies (now I have done two with a third on its way early 2020) has been a learning process for me. I’m delighted to say you can teach an old dog new tricks and I’ve made progress in the planning department.
The first two anthologies A Cup of Christmas (2014) and A Cup of Love (Valentine’s 2018) were beasts to conquer in a short timeframe. I contacted writers I knew, sent guidelines for stories and formatting. I didn’t want to hinder anyone’s style, so I was open to memoir, fiction, recipes, and poetry. Some great things came in, some not so great. Some of the best writers sent in first drafts, not finished projects. I’m not an editor for punctuation, I’m more about continuity. The good news, many flushed out their stories, and for those that didn’t, well I did my own haphazard editing. The anthologies were to benefit a charity, First Book that does wonderful things for children in need with reading and learning materials. The writers pulled together and both anthologies, last-minute ideas, were completed in six weeks each. An awesome task but we got it done. I also have a wonderful book designer, my sister, who knows how to knock it out of the park with a fabulous looking product. Those two anthologies were eBooks only.
I joked, if I ever do this again, I’d call it A Cup of Cyanide. I was over all the work I’d brought on myself with the others, and you get my drift with the cyanide! Never crack a joke like that with a group of writers. They loved the title, and so a third anthology is in the works. A bit of murder and mayhem. This time it’s being done differently. It’s our Walton Writers project. We’re taking our time. The group members will design the cover and interior, edit the stories, and learn the book formatting process. It’s the focus of our monthly meetings. This anthology is a grand way for everyone to be involved, make the decisions, and ultimately have a book (both paper and eBook) that is their product. Our non-profit this time is The Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts, where we meet each month. We plan to have a big launch party at the Art Center when we finish.
The bottom line, it’s all been great. The writers (from never published to award-winning) gave freely and quickly to the first two anthologies. Writers giving back. I love that. And the excitement of our writing group for the new anthology is infectious. I learn something new myself at every meeting, because it’s all a learning process, to be better writers.
So, if you think you want to publish an anthology and don’t know how, I didn’t either. Don’t let that stop you.
The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later
Tour Begins November 11th
Picking up where The Unfaithful Widow ended, Ten Years Later continues the author’s journey from widow to a slightly askew woman. A memoir written with warmth and candor on being single again, aging, and finding a creative path surrounded by dogs, friends, laughter, and a bit of craziness. Barbara Barth shares stories on the adventures that followed her first year alone as she moved headfirst into a new life, listening to her heart, sometimes not so wisely, but always full speed ahead. Join her on the ride of her life, from owning an antique shop to moving to a Victorian cottage outside of Atlanta, and all the follies in between. Going into the next decade with six dogs by her side, the author proves you are only as old as you feel, and happiness begins with a grateful heart. A funny and engaging memoir for anyone who wants to be their own superhero facing life’s good and bad moments.
Print Length: 374 pages
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, LLC
The Unfaithful widow Ten Years Later is available in print and as an ebook at Amazon.com
About the Author, Barbara Barth
Author, blogger, sometimes antique dealer, dog hoarder, bedazzled by life. Widowed ten years ago, Barth writes about finding a creative path back to happiness. Her recent move to a 1906 historic cottage brought many surprises, including discovering the Monroe–Walton Center for the Arts where she started the monthly Walton Writers group and is on the MWCA Board as Literary Arts Chair. Barth is a contributor to Walton Living Magazine and a former blogger for The Balancing Act, Lifetime Television’s morning show for women. Currently she lives with six dogs, rescue dogs that rescued her.
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Barbara Barth’s new book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.
I am honored to be able to share this next guest blog post with you all. Writer Greg Josselyn from Reedsy has reached out with a brand new post on the Blurb Factor to share with aspiring authors and writers out there. Enjoy and be sure to follow Greg’s work on Reedsy.
From botched to bestselling
When romance writer Alessandra Torre uploaded her first book on Amazon eight years ago, she only sold three on the first day. And for the next few months, she averaged a still-disappointing 15 – until one night, she looked at her book description and said: “I’m going to re-write this.”
That re-write sparked a renaissance. First, it was 100 books sold in one day. Then 300. Then 2,000. That’s when she started ranking as a top seller in the Romance category, and offers from agents and publishers came flooding in. Now, Torre is an Amazon International bestselling novelist, with over a dozen books to her name.
We can’t pin Torre’s success entirely on a book blurb – she is a good writer, after all! But we would be remiss not to poke around the subject, especially since this is a great Amazon self-publishing success story. The fact is, without the social credit and marketing budget of a big publishing house, the seemingly small things we usually save for last – like book descriptions – will make or break you.
If you’re a writer who’s planning to self-publish, this post will help improve your book description (or back cover text) and grow your profitability on Amazon. But even if you aren’t quite at that stage yet, you can apply these techniques to query letters and pitches for your book. After all, it’s never too early to start selling people on your ideas.
Step 1: Get a hook and bait
Hook, hook, hook. That seems to be all writers and editors ever talk about, and yet, most of us still wonder what it really means. When we say “hook”, we mean like a fish hook, with – you you guessed it – bait. This is particularly important in the sea of distractions that is Amazon.com. But what are the raw materials that will make up your hook and bait? You’ll require:
A brief – we cannot stress this enough – summary of the story (no spoilers, please!)
A question that the story poses (which, of course, makes the reader want to find the answer so much that they’re willing to pay $9.99 for it). What’s going to compel Suzie So-And-So to forgo her mocha lattes this week for your book?
A little typography dress-up. You don’t have to go to coding boot camp to try on bolds, italics, and colors when setting up your product page. For example, on Amazon, you can:
Make things bold: <b>Be Bold My Friend, Be Bold</b>
Italicize Things <i>don’t go overboard though here because sometimes readers breeze over italics </i>
Headline: <h1>This is a classier way to do all caps</h1>
Amazon Colors: <h2>Jeff Bezos will approve.</h2>
Indent: <blockquote>for anyone who likes a good old indent, you’re welcome. </blockquote>
Step 2: Blurb it out
Try to think of your book description in the most succinct terms possible. This isn’t a school book report; it’s like more like an elevator pitch. In other words, don’t blurt it out – blurb it out!
And when it comes to blurbs, our friend Torre is the master. If she didn’t revise the blurb for her first book, she may have switched careers instead of rising to the New York Times best seller list, which is why we always refer aspiring writers to her video tips on the subject. But in brief, she stresses these two essential facts:
The first three sentences of the blurb matter most. It’s like a teaser trailer – after those three sentences, users are going to have to click “Read More” to well, read more. To keep them scrolling, or get them to move onto the “full trailer,” as it were, those three sentences should stand out by utilizing the problem/question structure mentioned above.
One strong way to do that is to employ the classic proposition “but.” For example: “Will Byers lived a normal life in a boring suburban town. But when a mysterious alien creature shows up, his life turns upside down. Will it ever turn right side up again?” (Read More…)
Leave out unnecessary details. All too often, authors use their blurbs to share irrelevant details like character surnames, where they live, their professions, or other excess exposition to no end. Cut all of that out – just set up the problem and the stakes of the story. You can always go full-on Charles Dickens in the actual book. But don’t make your blurb into Bleak House, or you’ll send readers running for the hills.
Step 3: Demonstrate (and prove!) a social benefit
You’ve done it all so far: The blurb is short enough for a social media share. Your first three sentences set up a key question and further dilemma. You’ve omitted unnecessary details, like your character’s middle name or their township’s population.
And yet, potential readers are still scrolling to click on other book titles in your category. Yes, it could be other factors like book cover design and reviews, but still – there’s one last ingredient needed to seal the deal on your blurb. This is, of course, why the book matters to the potential buyer. What does your book provide for them? How will it make an impact on their life? Advertisements do it all the time, so why not utilize this technique to sell your book?
For example, if your book is self-help, be sure to mention that they’ll never think the same way about X problem ever again. Or if it’s fiction, show how your main character is relatable to readers, and how they overcome problems that many of us experience in our own lives.
If you have reviews or testimonials to prove this, even better: up the social proof to the max. And if you’re new to self-publishing, drawing comparisons to pre-existing works is one great way to do it (e.g. “This Gender Bending Historial Fantasy is Games of Thrones meets Queer Eye), or just stress how it’ll change the reader’s way of looking at the world (“fantasy fans and fashionistas will never be the same again…”).
In order to make a successful book blurb, be sure to include:
An enticing lead to grab readers
A question that a reader can only answer by actually reading your book
Proof that the story will benefit the reader’s life – this might be pure entertainment, or genuine self-improvement
There are endless ways to play around with these elements. Try out different options – at least three – and test them with friends and family, as well as pro beta readers. Ask: which description pulls you in? Which one doesn’t do it for you? And why? Or, do an A/B test in Amazon: swap out the different descriptions and see which one performs the best.
Still no sales? Keep re-writing and testing until you do, like Alessandra Torre. Otherwise, accept that the marketplace just may not be ready for this particular book, and start re-examining your content from the ground up.
Greg Josselyn is a writer for Reedsy, a curated marketplace dedicated to empowering authors. When he’s not covering KDP Select, he writes short fiction and makes podcasts.
What kind of procrastinator are you? Do you intentionally wait till the last minute, claiming you work best under pressure? Do you intend to start early, but you keep thinking of other incredibly important things you need to do first? Do you avoid thinking about unpleasant or difficult tasks until you absolutely can’t escape them anymore?
There are many different flavors of procrastination, and if you’re like many writers, you’ve tried all of them over the years. But instead of beating yourself up over your bad habits and lack of willpower, look for ways to use procrastination to your advantage. Here are a few strategies to try.
Recognize what your go-to procrastination activities are. Do you scroll through your social media feeds or play games on your phone or text your best friend? Give yourself permission to procrastinate for a set period of time – say, 10 minutes – but replace your default habit with something that’s good for your physical or mental health. Go for a walk around the block, drink a glass of water, do yoga poses at your desk. Then go back to work once your time is up.
Take this idea even further by embracing “structured procrastination.” Make a list of things you need or want to do anyway and could provide a break for you when you want to escape another project. For example:
Tidying up your desk
Emailing your parents
Reading a book
Meal-prepping for the week
When you feel the desire to procrastinate, look at your list instead of reflexively opening Facebook or playing a video game. Do one of the items on your list and feel good about yourself for doing something productive.
Let Your Mind Wander
Adam Grant, host of the podcast Work Life and author of many books on work and psychology, says, “When you procrastinate, you’re more likely to let your mind wander. That gives you a better chance of stumbling onto the unusual and spotting unexpected patterns.”
Reframe your procrastination as “idea generation time” or “creative brainstorming sessions.” Keep a journal or notebook on your desk. When you’re having trouble focusing on the task at hand, open your journal and let your mind wander. Write down any thoughts that come to you, and give yourself space to process questions, problems and ideas that arise.
Mari McCarthy’s latest, Heal Your Self with Journaling Power, represents the voice of a warm friend who not only talks the talk but also has lived first-hand the transforming power of writing. Packed with focused, fun prompts to jump-start the journaling process, this book is a motivation and an uplift! I especially enjoy the stress-bucket exercise. Not to be missed.”
–Melanie Faith, educator and author of In a Flash and Poetry Power,
In a world of ever-present scary news, stress, and technology that distracts us from genuine human encounters, Mari McCarthy invites us to do something both simple and radical: pause daily to encounter our own souls. And she not only tells us to just do it, she shows us how with her own life story, the stories of others, and her many ideas about how to maximize the transformative power of journaling time.
— Kevin Anderson, Ph.D., Author of Now is Where God Lives: A Year of Nested Meditations to Delight the Mind and Awaken the Soul and The Inconceivable Surprise of Living: Sustaining Wisdom for Spiritual Beings Trying to Be Human.
The most important lesson illustrated in Heal Your Self with Journaling Power is that anyone can enhance their health and wellbeing through the therapeutic power of expressive writing. This is the definitive book that shows you how. So just grab a pen and a pad of paper and do it!
Mari L. McCarthy is the Self-Transformation Guide and Founder/Chief Inspiration Officer of CreateWriteNow.com. She is also author of the international-bestselling, award-winning book Journaling Power: How to Create the Happy, Healthy Life You Want to Live.
Mari began journaling to relieve the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) over 20 years ago. Through journaling, Mari was able to ditch her prescription drugs and mitigate most of her MS symptoms. Now she teaches people throughout the world how to heal, grow, and transform their lives through the holistic power of therapeutic journaling.
She lives in a gorgeous beachfront home in Boston, where she has the freedom, flexibility, and physical ability to indulge in all her passions, which include singing and recording her own albums.
— Blog Tour Dates
June 17th @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Stop by Women on Writing’s blog The Muffin and read an interview with author Mari McCarthy and win a copy of her book Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.
Do you love the energy in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? Well, if you do, you will not want to miss today’s post at the blog Thoughts in Progress where Mari McCarthy shares her tips on how to recreate the magic of NaNoWriMo in any month.
Hey everyone, Author Anthony Avina here. I’m honored today to be sharing with you this guest blog post from author Madeline Sharples, author of the recently reviewed book, Papa’s Shoes, in association with Women on Writing Tours. I hope you all will enjoy it and please make sure to comment on this post and share it as well. Enjoy everyone.
I didn’t think I had another book in me after I finished my novel, Papa’s Shoes. Writing that took a long time even though I didn’t work on it straight through all those nine years. But when I had finished the tenth revision, I felt my book writing days were over.
However, I started to get itchy to write something else when I started querying publishers – exactly what I did in 2010. I started my novel while I was querying publishers for my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.
I took one look in the mirror and realized from my aging face that I’m at that stage in my life when I have almost all of it to look back on. I just turned seventy-nine, and my mirror told me I looked it.
So I thought I could write a memoir from an old wise woman’s approach to turning eighty. I could write about the secrets of staying married to the same man for forty-nine years and living in the same house for forty years. Really where have all those years gone? And really that brings up another big question – how much time do my husband and I have left anyway, and what are we doing to prepare for our last years? Or better yet, how we’re handling our lives right now as we age – each at a different paces. Yes, I decided another memoir or even two are a real possibility. The options are endless: how we’re still working at surviving the loss of our son in 1999, what we eat, how we sleep, my health and exercise program, about our travels, and what do we do all day at our age.
Another thing that triggered my decision to write this new memoir is the many people my age who are sick or have died. Just yesterday I heard about the death of a wonderful work colleague and friend much younger than me who died of a massive heart attack. With those facts in mind I decided to bring aging healthy into the book. I am very fit for my age. I workout every day and eat healthy. Why couldn’t I write a memoir about aging healthy?
I hope readers will take a good look at themselves and what they are doing to live the rest of their lives successfully. I hope they will take my examples about what to do and what not to do as I age seriously. For example, I recently spent a few days with my cousin who is four years younger than I. She is out of shape and doesn’t eat very healthy. But while I was with her we took long, fast walks every day, and she’s still taking them even though I’m not with her. She says I was an inspiration to her. I hope to be an inspiration to all my readers.
I also have to contend with the hardest parts to write: 1) the lasting effects of our older son’s suicide death in 1999, 2) my married son and daughter-in-law’s decision to live a married life without children, and 3) some regrets about decisions I’ve made over the years. I know all of us have life experiences that are hard to write and talk about. We also have regrets. Hopefully my writing about these things will engage my readers in thinking how they’ve lived their own lives and what they can improve on for their futures.
So far, I’ve written the first draft to this brief outline:
What stage of life I am in right now
A little looking back – maybe incorporate my reunion experiences of seeing old classmates and being in the neighborhoods where I grew up
What I see when I look in the mirror
My daily routine
What I do to take care of myself
How much I like my privacy and alone time
My physical maladies
My emotional life
My depression and suicidal thoughts
I say I’m a writer, but what do I really write
My writing routine
My volunteer life: South Bay Cares and WriteGirl
My married life
How my son’s death affects my life now
What about no grandchildren – how has that affected my relationship with my son and daughter-in-law
How I spend my time
Friends and relatives – how much I back away
What I see for the future
What’s next on my bucket list
End of life directives
My beliefs or lack thereof of an afterlife, and my lack of a spiritual life
What advice I give to those heading my way
How I feel about turning eighty and repairing for my imminent
About the Book:
Papa’s Shoes, a work of fiction about immigration with a feminist and historical bent. At 99,968 words, Papa’s Shoesis a stand-alone novel with series potential.
Ira Schuman is determined to move his family out of their Polish shtetl to the hope and opportunities he’s heard about in America. But along the way he faces the death of three of his four sons, a wife who does not have the same aspirations as his, and the birth of a daughter, Ava, conceived to make up for the loss of his boys. Ava grows up to be smart, beautiful, and very independent.
Besides having a feisty relationship with her overly-protective mother, Ava falls for the college man who directs her high school senior class play. With the news that she wants to marry a non-Jewish man, Ira realizes that his plan to assimilate in the new world has backfired. Should the young couple marry, he must decide whether to banish his daughter from his family or welcome them with open arms. Even though he won’t attend their wedding, he makes her a pair a wedding shoes. In his mind, theshoes are simply a gift, not a peace offering.
· Print Length: 286 pages
· Publisher: Aberdeen Bay (April 27, 2019)
· Publication Date: April 27, 2019
· ASIN: B07R7MQ6CM
“From an insightful storyteller, Papa’s Shoes, is a heartwarming story of courage and love. Author Madeline Sharples has created an epic journey with intriguing twists and surprises along the way. From days of old in Poland to cultural and economic realities in America, this is an awe-inspiring novel about families, generational history, and the incredible power of change. You truly won’t want to put it down!”
—D.A. Hickman, author of Ancients of the Earth: Poems of Time
“Author Madeline Sharples tells the intimate story of an American family, of immigration, tragedy, renewal, and love with grace and the delicate touch of a poet. There’s a raw kind of sweetness in this rich and epic saga.”
—David W. Berner, author of The Consequence of Stars and A Well-Respected Man
“An immigrant family’s braided history – its conflicts, losses, and secrets – come to life in Papa’s Shoes. With loving attention to detail, Madeline Sharples transports readers from a Polish shtetl to the Illinois town where Ira and Ruth settle, and shows us the intimate workings of their
marriage. This family’s triumphant journey to the American Midwest will inspire you long after
you’ve closed these pages.”
—Eleanor Vincent, author of Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story
A longer synopsis
On a cold and pouring night in Sokolow Poland, Ira Schuman carefully steps over the red mud puddles on the streets, sad, weary, and soaked. He dreads what he’ll find when he arrives at his two-room house in the Jewish section of the stetl. He envisions his mourning wife, Ruth, angry he wasn’t home when three of their four boys died during a flu epidemic.
As he enters the silence in what was once a home full of the loud voices and cries of little boys is deafening. However, he can’t wait to embrace Ruth, comfort her despite his own grief, and tell his surviving son about his love for America.
Ira’s goal is to become Americanized and bring what’s left of his family to a small town in Illinois, when he has enough money and an established business. Ruth doesn’t want to leave Poland and the graves of their three dead sons.
After their initial cold and difficult reunion, Ira keeps his promise to impregnate Ruth before he goes back to Illinois. Three years later he sends her the money to follow him to Illinois with their son age 10 and little girl, Ava, age three. Ruth agrees to leave Poland because of fears that the Russian army will recruit her son.
After a short stay in Chicago, the family moves to Danville IL, where Ira joins his brother in their shoe-making business. Though free of his long hair, beard and forelocks, and wearing modern clothes without the four-cornered yarmulke he threw into the Atlantic Ocean, Ira wants to bring a semblance of Orthodox Jewish life to his family and his new town. He creates a synagogue, hires a rabbi, and arranges the delivery of kosher meats. He also begins an affair with a chubby but curvy redheaded widow. Ruth, who smothers Ava and tries to keep her a little girl, has grown fatter and more unkempt, always wearing the same tight-fitting black dress she wore in Sokolow. She wants no part of Ira’s synagogue work.
Ruth keeps her hold on Ava, antagonizing her daughter. They argue continuously throughout Ava’s school years. Ava gets the lead in her senior high school play, and she and the director, a student at the local college, strike up a relationship – she tells her parents they are just friends when he picks her up to take her to school events.
Her brother, in law school in Chicago at nights and working in the textile business during the day, comes home and warns his parents that if they don’t move her away from this gentile, he will take her to Chicago himself. Ira agrees to let Ava go; Ruth does not. In the end her brother’s argument wins. Ava, ever respectful of her parents and out of her love for her brother, tells her director friend that she must leave. They are devastated but stay away from each other until the day before her departure.
In Chicago, Ava’s brother introduces her to a suitable man. He’s a bit of a milk toast, messy, and not very motivated in school or business, but he’s nice and attentive so she goes out with him for quite some time. Her rationale is that dating him will protect her from meeting someone she could actually fall for. She also experiences the modern ways of young women in the 1920s. She goes to dance halls and speakeasies, speaks flap talk, works as a seamstress, designs her own short and swingy dresses, and lives freely away from her mother. Her suitor proposes, but Ava says, “What a pretty little ring,” instead of yes.
After continued pleas from her director friend and her still undying love for him, Ava returns to Danville as a mature and determined young woman. She withstands a blow-up with her parents when she tells them she wants to marry her gentile friend. Ira throws her out. That night he goes to the synagogue to say the mourner’s kadish for his daughter but decides to break up with the red-headed widow and mourn his relationship with her instead. To assuage his guilt, he makes her a pair of shoes that she wears at her wedding.
While Ava is sad not to have her family with her at her wedding, she is hopeful that her mother and father will come around. Her biggest fear is that she will never see her brother again, the man she loved and looked up to all her growing up years. However, she is happy with her decision to marry her love no matter how they feel.
About the Author
Madeline also co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994), co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, and wrote the poems for two photography books, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy (Paul Blieden, photographer). Her poems have also appeared online and in print magazines, e.g., in the 2016 Porter Gulch Review, Yellow Chair’s In the Words of Womyn 2016 anthology, Story Circle Network’s journals and anthologies, the Best of Poetry Salon 2013-2018, and the Vine Leaves Literary Journal: a Collection of Vignettes from Across the Globe, 2017. And her articles have appeared in the Huffington Post, Naturally Savvy, Aging Bodies, PsychAlive, Story Circle Network’s HerStories and One Woman’s Day blogs, and the Memoir Network blog. One of Madeline’s essays has also appeared in the My Gutsy Story Anthology by Sonia Marsh.
Madeline also co-edited Volumes 1 and 2 of The Great American Poetry Show, a poetry anthology, and wrote the poems for two books of photography, The Emerging Goddess and. Besides having many poems published in print and online magazines, writes regularly for Naturally Savvy, and occasionally for PsychAlive, Open to Hope,and Journeys Through Grief and The Huffington Post.
Lisa Haselton interviews well known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples about her latest novel “Papa’s Shoes” – the story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America. This insightful interview is one you won’t want to miss!
Beverley A. Baird shares her thoughts after reading the touching story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America – “Papa’sShoes” by Madeline Sharples is a book that is sure to please readers!
Today’s guest author at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas is none other than well-known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples. Today, her guest post is titled “How I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a creative writer – and at my
age.” Heart from Madeline and learn more about her latest novel “Papa’s Shoes”!
Last week, readers at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas read a guest post penned by Author Madeline Sharples and today, Linda will share her review of Madeline’s latest novel “Papa’s Shoes”. This is a blog stop you won’t want to bypass!
Fellow author and memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her review of “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples. Don’t miss Linda’s insight into this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they move to America!
Nicole Pyles reviews the latest best selling novel “Papa’s Shoes” by Madeline Sharples – readers will delight to hear what Nicole thinks of this crowd pleasing story of one Polish shoemaker and his family!
This is Anthony Avina here. I’m happy to share with you guys this amazing guest post from the amazing people at BetterHelp and Regain about the mental health struggles of writers. I hope you guys will enjoy this post and gain some helpful insights into the life and mental health struggles writers go through.
Writing is a rich, rewarding profession; at least if you’re successful with it. However, even the most successful writers face mental health struggles. In this post, we will explain a few struggles a writer of any level may face.
Help for Your Struggles
Being a writer is hard, and sometimes you need to work on your own mental health to be a better writer. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, hopelessness, or need advice you should seek out the help you need. With so many writers busy at home, online therapy is becoming the new method of getting help. For more information, click this link: https://www.regain.us/advice/
The Fear of Rejection
Rejection is difficult for anyone to take, no matter your resistance to it. Rejection can come in many forms. If you’re a fiction author trying to publish the next great novel, getting dozens of rejection letters is a challenge. You just want to give up and keep your writing to yourself, or self-publish. Sure, you can hear inspiring stories about how the biggest authors got rejected hundreds of times, but it’s hard to stay motivated even then.
For a freelance writer, a potential client rejecting you and hiring someone else can be hurtful as well. You may wonder what you did wrong, and wonder if your work is any good at all. This especially applies if you don’t know why the rejection happened.
Getting past rejection is a challenge. While many say it gets better with time, others still struggle with it.
The Fear of Criticism
This is similar to the rejection fear. Your work gets out, and you want to hear what others are saying. Even if the reception is mostly positive, people tend to focus on the vocal minority of negative reviewers, and they may be upset or defensive over their work.
Even if you write the next great American novel, there is always going to be dissent. Handling criticism can be done in many ways. Some just ignore their critics, while others listen to the critics who have interesting points and see if they can make changes. With that said, don’t change your work just because you read a bad review.
For some writers, creativity is always around the corner. For others, creativity comes in droplets. Writer’s block can affect a writer, and everyone fears it, especially if your income is dependent on your creativity.
Exercising creativity is a good way to get the juices flowing. Not overthinking your creativity is a good move too. Many people get their best ideas when they aren’t thinking too hard. However, this does not apply to everyone.
Many people dream of being writers because they like the idea of working from home, with no one watching you. However, many writers feel lonely or cooped up in their home, especially if they are single. However, even writers who have families may struggle with loneliness. If you have kids, teaching them the value of writing is a good way to get rid of that loneliness. For more information, click here or look here.
That’s why some writers may go to coffee shops or other social gatherings. Alternatively, you can write in nature if you have a laptop and Internet access if your work requires that.
It’s a Rewarding, Yet Tough Career
If you can get past the mental health struggles of writing, it can be a rewarding career. When you have all the bumps bypassed, writing is great for the mind and can lead you down a path of creativity. Speak to other writers, or a therapist, if you’re having any struggles or doubts. People can help you, and you can succeed with your work.