books · career · writing

Writers Wednesdays – August Writing Accomplishments

Happy Writers Wednesday! I’m happy that I’m finally entering the period of my Four Months, Four Goals challenge (if you didn’t read that post, it’s linked here). To briefly recap, I’ll be spending the next four months hitting a single major writing goal for each month, then coming back to share my accomplishments as they are achieved. My focus is publishing the book that I’ve been working on for the past couple of years (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) But, in order to make that happen, I had to get clear on what my next steps are, so I can move definitively in the direction of my goals.

That being said, my August writing accomplishments were great, and I’m pleased with what I got done during the month. I found some information I needed to redo two portions of my book: I had written two examples to illustrate points that I made, but I wanted better suited examples. I easily found better examples to use, and these incorporated seamlessly into the outline. I’ve also been editing other portions of the book: rereading various sections and ironing out the kinks in the verbiage and clarifying anything that didn’t flow well.I love the progress I’m making, and I’m excited to see how much more progress I’ll make in September!

That’s it for today. I’ll talk to you all soon: take care!

books · finance · reading list

Writers Wednesday – What I’m Reading

Happy Writers Wednesday! Today, I’m sharing the book that I’m reading for the next couple of weeks, and I’m already looking forward to giving you my review in the near future.

The book I’m currently reading is Start Late, Finish Rich by David Bach. I’ve already praised David Bach on this blog (Smart Women Finish Rich was a gamechanger!) And it’s been a while since I did a deep-dive into Bach’s material, so it overdue for a read (and some rereads).

I’m looking forward to gleaning some tips that I can share over here, and finding ideas that I can incorporate into my own plan for financial freedom. While I’ve made some great choices over the past few years, I’m always refining and adjusting my plan to better suit my current and future circumstances.

In my opinion, your plans for financial freedom should be a living document (for lack of better verbiage). These should evolve, grow and adjust as you mature and discover things about yourself. So, learning what a later-executed plan looks like is a great idea, as even those that prepared well for older age may find that they need to pivot and make drastic changes at any point.

That’s it for today’s post. If you’re familiar with David Bach’s work, I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Other than that, I look forward to chatting with you all tomorrow. Take care!

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*This post contains affiliate links*

books · business · writing

Writers Wednesdays – Why It Takes Me Forever To Publish A Book

Happy Writers Wednesday! Today’s topic is was a question that I posed to myself recently, after feeling frustrated about the timelines for my works in progress (you can see my writing goals from now to December in this post). I find myself with a great idea, which I develop – sometimes to the point of completion – then there is this extraordinary “dead period” that happens once the work is done.

I had to ask myself, “Why does it take me forever to publish a book?” This isn’t referring to my children’s books, which are fairly simple and can be completed once I have enough photos that aren’t protected by copyrights. This is talking about my original works, which I’ve already finished writing and that seem to take FOREVER to get to the point of publishing. These should be ready to publish quickly, but they always appear to be stuck in the queue for longer than I think they should be.

As I asked myself about why it takes so long, it hit me: I’m stuck in analysis paralysis when it comes to publishing. I am constantly running various scenarios in my mind, and, as a result, very little tangible progress is made. I often find it much easier to blog, since these are short little glimpses into my daily life and passing thoughts. But book writing and publishing? I overanalyze to the point of ineffectiveness.

I would normally put forth a challenge to myself at this point, but, realistically, I’ll likely feel paralyzed every time I publish, regardless of how illogical it is to feel that. All I will vow to do is to try and remember to come back to this post the next time the analysis paralysis hits me. Maybe if I remember this post, I’ll be able to summon enough courage and reasonableness to move past my overthinking and to just leap into publishing. Only time will tell if I take my own advice, right?

books · business · writing

Writers Wednesday – Four Months, Four Goals

Happy Wednesday! As the month of August is already past the halfway mark (really, where does the time go?), I figured now would be a good time to look forward to the last four months of the year, and consider what I want to accomplish related to my writing.

In September, I intend to finish my edits for the book that I’m publishing in November. I want to complete the edits no later than September 15, so I can give the book some “space” before publishing. I always enjoy coming back to a book and refining it more before I release it to the world. In order to give it space, I have to finish the book several weeks before I do the last publishing steps. I’ll also share the book with my beta readers and hope for some fantastic feedback to incorporate when I do my final refinement of the book.

For October, I will continue September’s work: somewhere in the middle of the month, I’ll be doing the final review of my book and put the finishing touches on it. But, before I get to the middle of October, I’ll work on the cover, and begin doing a big marketing/social media push for the book. I’m focused on bringing eyes to my book and connecting with my ideal readers.

Usually, November is my time to participate in NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure if I will participate this year, but *if* I do, it’ll be a secondary (or maybe even tertiary) goal. My primary goal is working on book sales. This also works along with getting testimonials and growing my network, as these are crucial to sustaining the success of my book launch and sales.

Finally, December is all about closing out open projects and clearing my slate for the upcoming year. I am trying to sync up my activity with the seasons, and heading into the winter is the perfect time to wind down and prepare for the incubation that comes with the winter months. I’m looking forward to resting, enjoying a few months of decreased activity, and savoring the fruits of my labor from the previous months.

Those are my four goals for the next four months. What goals do you all have?

books · life curation · reading list

Writing Wednesday – Five Books That Changed My Life

Several weeks ago, I shared a video on my YouTube channel, highlight five books that changed my life.

I realize that was a very bold claim, and it could be interpreted as the most important books I’ve read in my life. However, that interpretation would be incorrect. Books that change my life =/= favorite or most important books. Some of the books that rank as most important to me are books that haven’t actually “changed” me, but have entertained me thoroughly, or reminded me of something rare or precious, or that are just stellar examples of writing mastery. So, books like And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith haven’t necessarily changed my life, but they rank among some of the most important books I’ve read.

That being said, we’re talking about life changing books that I think could be useful to some of you. These books helped me with money, love, conscious creation, friendship and more, Without further ado, here are the five books that changed my life:

  • Ginie Sayles, HOW TO MEET THE RICH for Business, Friendship, or Romance – A couple of years ago, one of my favorite role models, Ginie Sayles, gave me an endorsement on her author’s page, after I shared that her book, Writer’s Block is a Crock, helped me write and publish my first book. I was so excited that I made a post about her generosity and support. Well, as much as I love “Writer’s Block is a Crock”, there’s a book by Ginie that I love even more . . . and that’s “How to Meet the Rich”. Having your own vast resources is a wonderful thing, but your ability to do good and really change the world is enhanced when you have a network with high net worth! I love how she not only shows ways to meet the rich, but also all of the ways to nurture reciprocal relationships with these individuals. This is a great book for networking with various goals in mind (either business, friendship/social, or romantic ends).
  • David Bach, Start Late, Finish Rich – Similar to Ginie, David Bach has been discussed over here previously. I sing David’s praises because his work was fundamental in providing me with an excellent foundational education in personal finance. No matter what your age is, Start Late Finish Rich is a great book to introduce yourself to his strategies for creating financial freedom. I highly recommend any of David’s books, but this is a great one for starting on the path to wealth.
  • Helen Gurley Brown, Sex and the Single Girl – This book was fundamental in understanding the joy and pleasure of being a single woman. I learned so much from Helen regarding all of the perks that you can enjoy before saying “I do”. I got to reconnect with some of those delights when I divorced! Despite this book being published 60(!) years ago, so many of the tips are still relevant today. It’s still a fun read!
  • Shelley Branch and Sue Calloway, What Would Jackie Do? – I love all things Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and this book was a fabulous addition to my Jackie book collection. What Would Jackie Do is a combination of self help, biography, and etiquette lessons all in one. I often refer to this book when I need to recall how to make the perfect alfredo sauce from scratch, or how to approach my interior decorating budget, and even what I should do to enhance my career. Yes, it covers all of these topics and more. Fabulous read – highly recommended (naturally)!
  • Dr Henriette Anne Klauser, Write It Down Make It Happen – I won’t rewrite my review of this book, because I’ve already talked about it here, here, and here. I come back to this book again and again because every time I read it and try some of the writing exercises mentioned, my life shifts in significant ways.

Here is my video reviewing the books mentioned above:

What books have changed your life? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

books · business · writing

Writers Wednesdays – July Writing Accomplishments

As i reflect back on the month of July, I feel so much pride. I made PROGRESS with my writing, and my books are inching closer to completion. I love it!

I did some more editing to my main work-in-progress (WIP), and set a launch date of November 1st. I’m really excited, since that book has been my passion project – the one I’ve been most protective of – for months now. As the release date draws closer, I will share more details and, of course, there will be some sort of giveaway to celebrate the launch!

Now, I’ve promised, multiple times, not to start any new works. I was determined to focus on completing projects before starting new ones. I’m so proud that I kept my word to myself: I didn’t start any new works. However, I did, on a whim, compile several WIPs that were loosely related as far as subject matter goes. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had enough material and structure to create the book I’d always envisioned that I would write! Now I’m fleshing out my ideas and doing some additional research on a few things. This is so exciting, and it’s using so much content that I’ve already written!

Those are my writing updates for July. If you’re a fellow writer, what are you working on in August? I’d love to hear about it!

books · writing

Writers Wednesdays – The Books I Planned To Read On Vacation (& What I *Actually* Read)

Initially, I planned to take a couple of hardcover and paperback books with me on vacation. However, my space was at a premium, and I wasn’t able to take any physical books with me. Fortunately, I have the Kindle app on my phone, so I had a way to access a library (my digital library, that is).

Now, I did a whole YouTube video with my hardcover and paperback books that were *supposed* to go on vacay with me. Here’s that video:

The books I discussed in the video were The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, Caring Economics edited by Tania Singer and Matthieu Ricard, and By The Pricking Of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie.

In actuality, the books I read while I was gone were Longevity by Maria L. Ellis, MBA and Take Back Your Life by Tami Stackelhouse. These were both digital books (ebooks) downloaded into my Kindle app before I left home, that I read while I lounged poolside in Spain (bliss!).

I’m glad that I chose to read some of my ebooks while I was away, since I tend to prefer paperback and hardcover while I’m at home. Being able to read anywhere I have my phone or laptop was a blessing, and these two books were instrumental in me defining several things I could do right now to uplevel my health (which is why I’ll be reviewing both of them in the weeks to come).

That’s all for my travel reading list! What do you all like to read while traveling or even during your staycations? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

*This post contains affiliate links.

business · writing

Writers Wednesdays – March Writing Accomplishments

It’s time for another writing accomplishment update! I have some good news and some not so good news (nothing life-changing or devastating, just a little disappointing) about my writing practice. Let’s dive in!

Photo by OVAN on Pexels.com

The good news is, I worked on my book in the month of March, and, as of the time of this post, I’ve edited more than 70% of it! If I’m diligent, I can be done with this first round of edits by mid-May. Then I can put the book down fora bit, then come back to it for Round 2 of my edits. I am so happy to see some progress on this work!

The not so good news comes down to two things: firstly, the amount of time I spent editing in March, and secondly, the gaps that need to be addressed in the story. I did my last edit on March 14, because my life suddenly got much busier (if you saw my Monday post, you’ll hear part of what was happening in my world). So, while I understand why I spent less time editing, I was still a little disappointed that I lost some of that precious editing time. The disappointment has passed (thankfully) but I learned a valuable lesson: even a few minutes of work on my book every day will feel better than thinking I’ve lost a block of time.

The second point refers to something that isn’t great for my editing timeline but a fantastic “find” when it comes to the story. I uncovered multiple “gaps” in the story that need to be addressed either directly or indirectly. I’m thankful for the editing process, which helps me to see where my story can be improved, but I know that this adds quite a bit of time to my timeline (hence the mid-May completed editing goal). I’m okay with that, since the discovery of these gaps will help make my story much smoother and cohesive.

That’s my writing updates for the month, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this all comes together in the next few weeks (mid-May will be here before you know it!) Take care friends, and I’ll talk to you all soon!

life curation

The Art and Science of Being Focused and Flexible

Once upon a time, I had another blog that I wrote on frequently. Now, I’m looking over those essays and cringing (nothing humbles you like looking over your old writing!) But, I think it’s worthwhile to rewrite those posts, because the points – while not fabulously expressed in the original posts – are still salient. Here’s a HEAVILY edited essay that I wrote nearly 12 (!) years ago. Enjoy!

This particular post will speak directly to two personality characteristics that are crucial to finding your own version of success: flexibility and focus. I decided to group these two together since they are a good example of polarity and interdependence: these are relative opposites but you can’t talk about one without at least touching upon the other. Flexibility implies a willingness to look at all of the options available, while focus generally refers to devoting one’s attention to a singular goal. It seems like the two cannot peacefully co-exist, but they CAN-and they SHOULD! In fact, one without the other can very well leave you unfulfilled and always falling short of your goals.

Why do some of us need to improve in the areas of flexibility and focus? Well, when it comes to flexibility, some of us have been given an overly simplified life formula-behave yourself, go to college, get a degree, get a career, get married to a man, buy a house, make a few kids, give freely to the church/mosque/synagogue/temple, and live happily ever after. The problems with the formula are its rigidity, and the lack of emphasis on QUALITY experiences and EMPOWERED choices. It also doesn’t allow for circumstances beyond a woman’s control or her personal choice. Not everyone is interested in attending college or working in a traditional career. Some women have zero interest in getting married at all, and those that desire marriage aren’t encouraged to accurately gauge the quality of their partners. Not all of us are interested in white picket fences and having babies, and, believe it or not, religion =/= spirituality, and some women have no interested in being part of a religious organization in order to connect to the Divine. Those that ascribe to the life formula commonly taught to women are often hyper-focused on accomplishing each thing on the “to do” list, to the detriment of a life that allows for magic and joy to unfold unexpectedly and organically.

In opposition to being hyper-focused, many women who reject the prescribed life formula mentioned above end up living life as a tangent of randomness, going here and there without a goal in mind and getting a whole lot of nothing accomplished in the meantime. This is often the case because life on the “fringes” is discouraged by society, meaning that those who reject any part of the aforementioned formula don’t get support for creating meaningful lives outside of the template they’ve been given. There are many women who are living purely in flexibility and not putting an adequate amount of time and energy into focusing their energy into a handful of things that will give them lasting satisfaction. Many will pour their energy directly into career or material possessions (nothing inherently wrong with this), without any forethought regarding what meaningful things they should be cultivating simultaneously.

It can seem like living in either extreme is the only option, but being focused and flexible at the same time should be a goal for all of us. Focus gives us direction and stability, while flexibility gives us depth, color and moments of ease in our journeys.

Here’s the best way to merge the concepts of flexibility and focus: find out what you want for yourself (get your focus together) then think of the many ways you can get there (exercise flexibility.) I’ll present an exercise that may be of use (I’ve done this for myself more times than I can count, and it’s not from a singular book I’ve read but, rather, a hodgepodge of ideas that I’ve picked up here and there.) First, name the things that you want for yourself. For this example, I’m going to use some really common desires: getting a degree, getting into your dream career, traveling, and getting married. Name whatever it is you want, no matter how crazy it sounds. It’s good to be very specific when naming what you want: getting a degree from Harvard, becoming a world renowned artist, traveling to Thailand, etc.,. This list can be as long or short as you like, but it helps to keep it brief (less than 5 things) – it helps you have more time to dedicate on the things that matter most.

After you name what you want, brainstorm various ways to get what you want. This seems a little daunting, especially if you’ve been taught to see things only in one way. People are always amazed when I tell them how I got into my prior career before I was awarded my college degree and without the advantage of an internship or nepotism. Unfortunately, many of us limit ourselves by having such a narrow view on how to get what we want. That’s the downside of associating regularly with damaged minds, pessimists, and perpetual escapists, who spend too much time keeping up with trivial things and not enough time doing things to increase their personal value and the quality of their lives.

Here are a couple examples of flexible thinking – both of these I personally have used:

  • If getting a degree is your goal, then take advantage of all sorts of learning opportunities. Going to college for 4 years, as soon as you exit high school, is not the formula for everyone. If it suits you, take credit courses here and there, looking into credit-for-experience programs (my book, Degree Hacking, gives you an actionable, inexpensive and easy-to-execute plan to accomplish this). Some schools even offer tests to demonstrate proficiency in certain areas; if you’re a student, you can take those tests at a fraction of the cost of a college course (my book discusses this, too). Also, remember all of the resources you have that can give you an educational edge up: local libraries usually offer free courses in a variety of subject areas; you can take free classes online in any area you can imagine; on the internet, you can preview course syllabi for any class you’re taking, and preread material that will be cover in the course (again, check out my book for more information about this).
  • If you want to travel, the first step is really easy: get a passport! It’s good for 10 years and you don’t have to be outside of the country to use it. Start setting aside a small amount per month to fund your dream trip (even $10 a month will get you there eventually.) This gives your focus (travel) some energetic momentum without having to commit a large amount of money up front. Consider buying a token that symbolizes your travel goals (like a travel journal). Join interest groups that will feed your desire to travel (meetup.com and local colleges can help with this, as well as the myriad Reddit, Facebook and Discord groups out there) or feel free to create a group of your own that indulges your travel desire. Check out travel websites regularly to find deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars – keeping up with the costs can help you to figure out how much you need to save. This research also crystallizes what things you actually want and need for your trip. Also, remember that, depending on how much travel you desire, there are many organizations that will pay for your airfare and lodging in different locales if you are willing to either teach English or help with humanitarian efforts.

Having a particular focus doesn’t mean that you can only achieve your desire in a singular way. I dreamed of attending an Ivy-league university, but I had no interest in pursuing a full degree. I ended up taking a grant funded program in a topic that really benefited me. I could have never anticipated that would be how I’d get my Ivy-league experience, but because I’m flexible, my desire was met with ease. It’s important to remember that it’s not the lack of options that causes problems, it’s when you lose sight of all the ways to get to your goals that discouragement sets in. People get discouraged when they see no way out: if you creative, though, you won’t feel discouraged for long.

I recommend, no matter what you do, that you get in contact with someone that can help you. You won’t always have every resources you need to get what you want. You have to make connections with people who will assist you on your path. You should not automatically feel entitled to their assistance. It is usually easier to ask for assistance from those who required to assist (school counselors or customer service representatives, for example.) However, the most powerful individuals are normally people who don’t owe you anything – convincing them to assist may be more challenging. If you can get one of these heavy hitters on your side, it will make your path infinitely easier. It should go without saying that showing your appreciation to everyone who helps you is a must. Being appreciative will 1) give you great karma and 2) make it easier for someone else who, later on, may ask for assistance from these same individuals. Showing appreciation can be a thank you note or a gift (be careful with gift-giving: you don’t want anything that can be misconstrued as bribery.)

That’s it for today, friends! I hope you’re having a fantastic day. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

*This post contains affiliate links.

books · reading list · writing

Writers Wednesdays – February Writing Accomplishments

Happy Writers Wednesday! This post is the February update (obviously).

I wasn’t able to read all of the books on my reading list because I had some unexpected obligations pop up throughout the month that took up a LOT more time than I anticipated. No worries, though: I’ll be able to read these books in March instead. I will focus on finishing my women author books first (since it’s Women’s History Month).

As far as my writing goes, I made some progress. One of my “finished” works would be far more impactful if I included some peer reviewed research and journal articles, so I started compiling a list of sources to reference.

So, that’s it for the update! I’ll have more details to share next week. I’ll talk to you all soon!