Writers: In These Covid Times, Are You Prepared For The Unthinkable?

Source: estateplanninglegalcenter.com

Thinking of the Unthinkable

It’s a topic I’ve covered on two other occasions (first post; second post); now we’re in a pandemic and I’m once again compelled to share important information for all the writers out there. We’re living in unpredictable times and no one can afford to be arrogant or in denial about the unthinkable: not surviving a Covid infection. I won’t bore or scare you with statistics, or with probabilities; Covid is a real infection, a real threat. Writers, you must get your Digital Assets/DA (aka intellectual property/IP) in order, just in case. 

So I ask you:

If it comes down to it, what will your writer legacy be?

Is this a conversation you’ve even had with loved ones or yourself? Procrastination will only draw out what could become a painful situation for your family. It’s vital you prepare for what may come. Just in case.

I wrote this in the second post on DA: “In this new digital world, our lives are complicated by our dependence on many devices, each with its own password and accessible only by you.” Your first step is to take inventory of all your intellectual property, both completed and unfinished works. Are your files backed up and easy for others to locate in online folders or another organized system? Now is a good time to get it all organized.

Your Legacy to-do list

The following is a reiteration of a list (that is by no means finite) from a previous post; while it may be time-consuming at first, you’ll probably be glad to do it because it’s also an opportunity to clean out any works you know you won’t finish.

  1. Do you have a Paypal, Google Pay, or any account, in addition to personal banking, with monetary value? Who will have access if you die? What happens to the money? Whom will you designate as your beneficiary? Who will you appoint as your Literary Executor?
  2. What about personal and business email accounts, blogs, and podcasts? Personal and business websites? Do you want them up and running for people to read your when-you-were-a-breathing-starving-artist work?
  3. Do you keep a list of logins and passwords to all of your online accounts? Make sure your designated Estate attorney has the most recent copy on file or at least your computer password so s/he can access the document.
  4. What electronic devices do you own that need a password for access? Do you have a laptop, smartphone, tablet, DVR/Tivo, Ring, or a home burglary system? How many apps do you access from your phone? Does anyone else have the access code for your phone so they can access the apps?
  5. Do you bank online? What about mortgage payments, investment banking, utilities, airline, or other memberships? Which memberships automatically renew online? You’ll need to spell out which to cancel and which to keep active for your heirs/estate.
  6. Do you have any Social Media accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube? Any accounts with e-commerce sites like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Ebay, etc.? Check the policies of these companies regarding access by another person. You’ll need to legally designate someone if you want that person to clean up your online life.
  7. How much of your work is unfinished? Do you want someone else to finish it? Or would you prefer your Executor/Executrix just heave every incomplete project, every potential novel/poetry book/best-selling short story into a shredder? What will you do with the work you have completed? Who gets the royalties? Who will do the marketing to keep the sales going?
  8. Do you have translations of your book? Movie deals? Audio books? Who will oversee these if they become options after your death? Who will make the decisions about maintaining and growing your work after you’re gone?
  9. Will you leave the option to own, sell, or operate your business and control your intellectual property up to your heirs? Or will you decide so your heirs don’t have to? One option is to designate a micro-publisher to oversee your work so that royalties will be properly paid to your heirs.
  10. What about cleaning up your personal information collected by those data-mining companies? If you think it won’t matter once you’re gone, you’re wrong. Someone could use your identity and gain access to your intellectual property and online life, and then your hard-earned money. This can affect any heirs you designate and their ability to oversee your IP or pay any monies owed. Many sites mine all sorts of personal information; you will likely need to join now to have access to your personal information and request they delete it. 
  11. You need to be concerned with writer scams popping up all over the web offering unauthorized copies of authors’ books or scamming writers out of money. Writer Beware is one of many sites that track predatory sites and unscrupulous people trying to steal our IP. Make sure all is good before passing it on to the heirs.

It’s a sobering experience to think of your life in these terms, but in the long run you’re doing your family or loved ones a favor by setting it down on paper. A Writer’s Legacy, Part 2, January 15, 2019

#covid19 #coronavirus #intellectual property #digitalassets #bookAholic #storytellers

Lessons From Creating An Online Class

Udemy Course

Udemy Course

I can’t believe I finally figured it all out…

Learning the Basics of Chinese Dietary Therapy is now LIVE on Udemy (you can check out a few sections for FREE). It only took three to four months but I persevered and now, hopefully, I will reap the rewards of my hard work. Putting this class together was much harder than anticipated. Maybe it’s partly due to the fact that I’m feeling farther and farther behind on technology; it takes me so much longer to figure out stuff.

What I did first was upgrade to MS Office 2019 after facing several frustrating issues with my old limited-ability software. It was a good decision that followed getting Windows 10 uploaded to my older laptop (which I bought refurbished over six years ago – wahoo Toshiba!). Now it runs like it’s almost new and I can’t believe how much faster it is, nevermind enjoying the perks of the new software. 

The Devil’s in the Details

I gained a new appreciation for the detailed work involved in creating each slide in PowerPoint (13 sections with 6-15 slides per section); that alone took around two months. Thankfully I had already done several live seminars and had my book in a PowerPoint presentation. Breaking it down into doable sections (per Udemy’s instructions as to font size, etc.) took a greater attention to detail and I became frustrated more than once through the process. Once the slides and sections were completed I had to go back and narrate/voice-over each slide as well as create an intro page for every course section (see above).

Sounds easy, right?

Except….

Lesson After Lesson

I learned a valuable lesson during the narration process. I learned that my voice changed with my mood so I had to re-record some of the slides because I didn’t like what I heard (it was easy to tell when I was in a bad mood or a good mood). Some had to be re-recorded because I spoke incoherently (it didn’t seem so when I was recording).

We all think we sound normal, articulate and intelligent but hearing oneself in a recording, over and over again, gave me insight to how much I had to focus on these aspects: speech pattern, enunciation, timing (moving from one sentence or paragraph to the next), word usage (avoiding big or difficult words), context, word emphasis, etc. There is definitely a rhythm to narrating that must be learned over time, with experience (which I need more of).

Once the narrations were completed, I had to save each section and every slide as video/mp4; this took several hours over a course of several days. It was the main reason for my technical upgrades, because my old software couldn’t save the .ppt as video and the old Windows system took too darn long.

Once that was done, I had to go into my Udemy Instructor Dashboard and download each section, one by one and complete their checklist of requirements. In addition, I had to download any section-related documents in .pdf – this was the easiest part since I already had what I needed from the seminars. From there, I submitted the class for review and awaited approval. In less than a week, the class was approved and went live online.

Whew

All I can say is, at this point, I’m glad it’s done. The only extras I’ll need to add in for an upgraded version are in .pdf and won’t be difficult to do. The hardest part is behind me but I’m glad I did it. A challenge accepted and completed. One more adversity ticked off the list.

Lessons learned and shared so someone else can have an easier time with it.

#chinesedietarytherapy #chinesemedicine #onlineclasses #udemy #nutritiontherapy #teachonline #fiveelements #healthyeating #wholefoods

Coming Full Circle

Home1

Source: Pixabay

In a scene from the movie Forrest Gump, there’s a famous line Forrest says after he stops running:

Finally, Some Good News for CA Freelancers!

Thumbs Up California!

On September 4th, Governor Gavin Newsom of California signed a bill modifying the new independent contractor law that went into effect last year. This is HUGE. The new Independent Contractor law meant freelance writers here in California could no longer earn a living beyond our state border. In two previous posts, I outlined the new law, its definition and how it might affect writers. The new, modified law, which is effective immediately, includes “freelance writers, musicians, film support crews and visual artists, who now can continue working as independent contractors.1

Blog post #1: New CA Labor Law

Blog post #2: Writers Losing Contracts

Restrictions Gone

Gov Newsom also removed the restriction of accepting no more than thirty-five (35) freelance assignments from one outlet. As of Monday night, freelance writers and other content creators are EXEMPT! The bill, previously introduced as AB5, is now AB2257 and has these features:

  1. It eliminates the cap of 35 submissions for freelance writers. Yippee!
  2. Included in this new exemption of “professional services” are translators, appraisers, and (this is a unique one) registered foresters.
  3. Industry workers, including recording artists, songwriters, producers and promoters are also now exempt.

This update of a law that clearly affected writers’ ability to earn a living, especially during COVID, is a ray of light bursting through dark days. Will other states with similar laws follow suit?

1.Source: https://deadline.com/2020/09/governor-gavin-newsom-signs-ab-2557-helping-independent-contractors-1234571287/

It’s Happening Elsewhere, Too

So do other states use what is called the ABC test? This from an article on Forbes.com: “Massachusetts and New Jersey already use the ABC Test to restrict the number of workers classified as independent contractors. Other states use the ABC Test for specific situations, such as determining unemployment compensation.”

From a legal website: “Some of the states where their legislatures have adopted the ABC test include California (recent change), Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.”

Whether this change to the new law is a good thing (and I believe it is), there are still plenty of kinks to be worked out. In the meantime, writers, keep on writing. Let’s be a force for change that benefits all. Gig economies are here to stay (thanks, millenials).

So are freelancers.

#freelancers #freelancewriters #writersofcalifornia #independentcontractor #gigeconomy #Uber #Lyft #fictionwriters #nonfictionwriters #investigativejournalism

Shoes and Socks Not Required: Sell Your Books (from home) To Unique Locations


I apologize; I’ve been away (okay, hiding from my writing responsibilities). I’ve been hot, sweaty, and working my butt off but not writing. We’re in a heat wave here and my brain has shut down from all the humidity and triple digit temps. And I’m trying (and trying and trying) to get my nutrition book up on Udemy as an online class but not-so-tech-savvy me is having a hard time figuring it all out. Turns out I need video equipment for a mandatory thirty minutes of video (who wants to see me yakking on and on, I don’t know) to go with the class. Ugh.

There Is An Upside To This

The upswing to this coronavirus is everyone’s home and online – either you’re offering something (like a class) or you’re buying something (like that writing class you’d been meaning to take but were too busy livin’ large). Did you know you can get your book into numerous venues while still wearing your jammies?

An interesting post came to my attention a short time ago and I want to share the gist of its information with you. Since bookstores and many physical retail outlets are temporarily closed, what’s a writer to do? We have to keep selling our books, don’t we? In a previous blog, I wrote that we have to continue marketing regardless of this pandemic and to not feel guilty. So here are a few interesting options that maybe you haven’t thought of as a place to sell your books (and not feel guilty), courtesy of Brian Jud, author of the post, and Stephanie Chandler, of the Nonfiction Authors Association (dot.com).

Unique Venues Abound If You’re Looking

Of all the places that sell books (most of which are closed temporarily), the two best places to have your books for sale at are… wait for it… SUPERMARKETS and PHARMACIES! Yep, they’re open to the public and they always have a book selection. Obviously, certain types of books sell better here, like cheesy romance novels. If your book is more family-oriented, this might be a place for you to consider. Also, according to the article, fiction outsells nonfiction here (think cheesy romance novels). But books like mine, a nutrition book, might go over well with people trying to make better food choices in the grocery store.

Think about how to price your book for one of these venues. Supermarkets tend to discount their books (up to 25%) and book prices in pharmacies are usually under twenty dollars. Are you willing to go a bit lower in retail price to gain exposure?

That said, how will you get your book distributed to these markets? Does your current distribution partner provide access to supermarkets and drugstores? The following is a short list provided by Brain Jud and contains useful information on getting your books into these stores:

Symak Sales Co Inc.“is a leading importer and distributor of general merchandise throughout North America. Symak products can be found in a wide range of retailers and wholesalers, including discount stores, variety stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, distributors, department stores, and dollar stores.”

Readerlink Distribution Services, LLC “is the largest full-service distributor of hardcover, trade and paperback books to non-trade channel booksellers in North America, including the biggest names in retail across multiple retail channels.”

Choice Books distributes books through more than 11,500 displays in various retail locations (i.e. supermarkets, mass merchandisers, airports, pharmacies, travel centers, gift shops, etc.) across the continental United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. At regular intervals, Choice Books sales representatives visit each retail location, replenishing best-selling books and replacing damaged/slow-moving books with new books. Major book categories include family living, self-help, devotional, entertainment, gift, cookbooks, adult/juvenile fiction and bibles.

There are other unique opportunities as well: hospitals, liquor stores, and pet stores, to name a few. If you put your thinking cap on, I’m sure you can come up with additional options. Sans shoes and socks.

Words Have Power So Be Careful How You Use Them

maelstrom_picasso~25532698267856375019..jpg
Maelstrom, 2019 © DThunderhawk (acrylic)

The Power of Our Words

Writers have long known that words have power. Socrates, Shakespeare, Lao Tzu, Jesus, and many others (including Hitler) across the span of humanity have changed lives and moved civilizations to follow a particular premise. We find ourselves, once again, in dynamic and chaotic times. The ebb and flow of human existence has always been based on the power of words.
Words, whether written or oral, have the power to change, heal, hurt, destroy and/or create. As writers in this changing global landscape, we must be more vigilant in choosing our words. What and whom are we trying to effect? Writers and orators can be leaders of change for better or worse, it’s our choice.

Phrases like Black Lives Matter and Civil Rights Movement and words like racism and colonialism, these are powerful words that awaken us, call us out to be better, or remind us that we still have a ways to go.

This Is Personal

Example: A friend is in a challenging situation at the moment. Forced out of her rental (not an eviction but a notice to vacate) during Covid times, she sleeps in her car because there’s a huge housing shortage where she lives. Her hypnotherapist made a comment during a session that has stuck with her and has helped her better deal with the current situation.
He said:

“It’s not WHO you are, it’s your circumstance.”

Bam. Light bulb. 💡
Aha moment, for sure, even for me.

This, Too, Shall Pass

When she heard that, she said it gave her a whole new outlook. She no longer feels it’s her fault, that sometimes bad things happen to good people and that this too, shall pass. Words chosen carefully can help us move beyond even the most difficult of challenges.
This virus is affecting us personally and globally, some more than others. It’s imperative we choose our words more carefully to ensure our survival and recovery. Write from the compassionate heart, support a peaceful co-existence and community goals, stand your ground without being divisive. Make your words work for you, not against you – or others.

Universal Energies At Work

What’s happening now, all the chaos, is Yang (movement, momentum, anger, anguish, change in process) and what will follow, accordingly, is Yin (peace, stillness, changes completed, new way of life). Universal laws are playing out before our eyes. Patience is required to get to the next phase of this seemingly never-ending cycle.
As writers, let’s use our words, our stories, as a beacon during these dark and chaotic days. Let’s create and maintain the POWER OF WORDS.

(COVID) Times, They are A’Changin’… For Writers

Sac free library

Little Free Library, Sacramento, CA

The New Normal

Times are changing, for sure. Life is most certainly different as a result of this pandemic. Same ol, same old isn’t anymore. Everywhere I go, I hear the phrase “this is the new normal.” We all have been changed by this virus, internally and externally, personally and globally. How it affects writers has been nothing short of upheaval, including the sad news of a huge loss to the writing world. Last week we lost Carlos Ruiz Zafón, a prolific writer with an uncommon knack for vivid storytelling. His collection of books, including The Shadow of the Wind, (which I’ve mentioned in a previous blog) excited and intrigued me in a way I’d not experienced since I’d read the Neither Wolf Nor Dog trilogy. I recently re-read that book, devouring every page with gleeful delight; it is now a permanent part of my home collection.

I discovered the slightly ragged copy in a Little Free Library in midtown Sacramento. The box in the pic is where I actually found his book, among many others that have provided me with amazing trips down Imagination Lane. Best idea ever, these Little Free Libraries (littlefreelibrary.org for a location near you). For writers, it’s free advertising!

Welcome to The Digital Life

Where are we headed? Into new territory, for many, but familiar for others. Social distancing has forced writers to find new avenues for marketing their works. Some of the safe-distancing options are digital (eBooks), audio (Audible), podcasting (storytelling and reading to audience), and FB groups (among other popular SM).

For those of us not quite comfortable with the digital life (that would be me), I have to think about how to be creative in this new world. Instead of pushing the book itself, I recently decided to turn it into an online course so I can teach the concepts in the book. What better way to get people excited about their health than to actually have me walk them through the information? Since my book is a non-fiction, it’s a no-brainer. I’m a lively speaker and reader, so I know students will enjoy learning along with me. Better retention and they’ll feel they got their money’s worth; win-win.

Oh, The Choices

Options for fiction works may differ; for example, poets can offer a poetry class. Have you considered whether you could teach someone else how to write something? Do you have a degree in Journalism, English, or Communications? The digital life is now in full swing as millennials and many others take advantage of not only the social distancing aspect but also prices for online classes – they’re greatly reduced and there’s a multitude from which to choose.

Maybe you need to brush up on your MLA style or grammar and syntax in your sentences. Maybe you need help with plots and characters. Or writing a mystery. Or a comedy/farce. Whatever your need as a writer, online classes can surely fill it. Lots of experts out there so find classes taught by people with experience and know-how. Yes, we are smart to learn from our own experiences but it is the wise (wo)man who learns from the experiences of others.

Times are certainly changing; adaptability is key to not getting caught behind. Survival of the fittest, Darwin postulated. Change can be a good thing, if you’re willing to go along for the ride.

Live Small, Live Well

old Italian windows_Milan

After watching a PBS Frontline report on coronavirus in Italy , I had an idea about people living smaller lives, and not just during a pandemic. What if we chose to live this way on a daily basis? Ideas led to writing and writing led me to creating this post – even though it’s not really about writing… but ends up that way, I guess.

In other words, when something moves you, write about it. 

Small and Close Is a Good Thing…Usually

Smaller living spaces bring people closer together. There’s plenty of room for everything you need using smarter design, smarter placements, living with less stuff. Simpler lives are happier lives. People are then able to focus on what really matters: relationships and community – look at Italians, they seem to have perfected it.

Europeans have lived this way for a long time out of necessity because there’s no room for the multitudes of sprawling American McMansions or penthouse-sized apartments in most European cities. Americans seem to think they need more open living space, so they purchase bigger homes and more material items, like furniture and art and expensive kitchen toys. But is it all really necessary in order to feel fulfilled? Or is it a nod to some internal need to “keep up with the Joneses?”

Or perhaps it’s the result of an overblown sense of entitlement; that what we want we deserve simply because we work for it or can afford it. That seems more like an individual-oriented mindset.

What’s Really Important

Watching the video, seeing the small spaces Italian families share, it’s no wonder they’re as close as they are. Normally, that’s a good thing but during a pandemic that kind of intimacy, sadly, has had a deleterious effect on their lives. But I doubt they’ll change their ways because those very connections are the lifeline of Italian life.

Smaller apartment homes force people to share the whole living space, including common and private areas (in Europe, brothers and sisters routinely share bedrooms). This type of living also provides lessons in conflict resolution since we’re not going to get along well all of the time. This is a community-oriented approach.  

Smaller is Better for Everyone

Tiny houses are all the rage here in America but what we need is to reduce overall apartment living space (square footage) to make room for more people in each building. With burgeoning populations across the globe, it makes sense for us to adopt more of a European style of living. We’ve been spoon fed the ideal that the “American Dream” is to own a single family home, which requires more land space and finite natural resources (and equates to a much larger individual environmental footprint). For some reason, in America, living with others in apartment or multi-family (aka tenement) housing is perceived as inferior to owning your own home (which actually owns you for 20-30 years until the deed is in your hands). The benefits of community living can far outweigh life in the suburbs.

European style refrigerators, for example, which are much smaller than their American counterparts, force people to think about what to eat, how much, and how often. Shopping becomes a daily responsibility or at least every 2-3 days, depending on how many one is shopping for and feeding. Smaller fridges force people to choose foods that are most important: what is fresh and made daily, rather than something with a 6-month or more shelf life; that’s hoarding for a future that may or may not come. This pandemic has certainly reminded us of that.

Living smaller means living well today, within our community. Tomorrow will come when it comes.

One Story, Two Story, Three!

writing graphic

As is usual, I’ve spent part of this afternoon trying to figure out the topic for my next blog post. Needing inspiration, I checked my professional email for ideas because I often send myself links to interesting and/or informative articles from Writers Digest and other literary sources.

Bingo.

Halfway down my professional email list is a link to an article on the art of writing spin-offs. It’s an informative article on how to get more than one angle/story from a particular topic. It’s a way to maximize the information you gather on a story and leads you to other avenues, thereby creating multiple stories and more income.

Of course, you submit these spin-offs to different magazines, depending on the angle of the story. Be careful not overlap the information; keep the angles separate and unique. Make sure to pitch to noncompeting publications. 

“Travel writers often write about the same location from different perspectives. Freelancer Valentina Valentini wrote about The Gravediggers Pub in Dublin for BBC Travel. She traced the history of the pub and its owners, steering clear of the ghost stories associated with it. Later, she pitched the haunted history to Atlas Obscura.”

Dinsha Sachan, The Art of Spin-Offs: Freelance Article Ideas at Writers Digest

This reminds me of two of my previous posts: 1) Bad Choices = Good Stories (if you missed it, read here) written back in 2017, and 2) A Writing Life (On the Road) in 2016 (read here). Travel pieces, for example, can offer a multitude of angles because so many historical places are popular with travelers. You can focus on eco-tourism in one article for a travel magazine; historical context in another article for an historical magazine; food and culture in a foodie magazine. With a little imagination, you can create multiple stories from that one topic and increase your freelance income.

“Sometimes a news piece can sow the seeds for a broader trends feature.” Dinsha Sachan

“One story often leads entirely to another; both are different, and yet intricately linked.” Kamala Thiagarajan, an India-based freelance journalist

Researching a topic will often provide ample opportunities to explore different angles. Even if one avenue seems to go nowhere, don’t be afraid to explore it. You never know where it might lead. Perhaps to that writing life on the road, after all.

All That Jitters

Fear Emotion5 clipart MS Office

In this current, and hopefully soon-to-be post-COVID atmosphere, anxiety and fear have ruled many lives around the globe. With good reason. Anxiety and fear about people’s health, futures, finances, etc. are keeping many people up at night and jittery during the day. While anxiety is a normal human emotion, it becomes pathological when it interferes with our daily lives in such a way that is considered beyond the norm. Which begs the question: how does one cope?

With Chinese medicine.

You Have Options

Acupuncture has repeatedly proven its ability to mitigate and dissipate the emotional and spiritual (seen as inseparable in CM) imbalances brought on by just this type of global disaster. In CM, these imbalances are understood to affect one’s shen, or consciousness/spirit. Emotional imbalances affect organ function as well. Chinese herbs, as posted in a previous blog, are a time-tested option for reducing anxiety and associated symptoms like insomnia, rumination and nervousness, without the side effects that often accompany pharmaceuticals.

In his article Anxiety: The Unsettled Shen, Mark W. Frost, L.Ac., writes:

According to TCM theory, the emotions of fear, pensiveness, grief and anger cause the Qi to sink, stagnate, dissipate, and rise respectively.

The Seven Emotions

In CM, the Seven Emotions are: joy (Heart), anger (Liver), pensiveness/over-thinking (Spleen), grief (Lung), fear/shock (Kidney). The emotions that combine to create anxiety are fear (of the unknown, loss, for one’s security/safety), pensiveness (rumination), grief (sadness, loss), and anger/resentment (loss of control over one’s situation).

Let’s look at these in a bit more detail:

Anger is the emotion controlled by Liver in CM. Liver controls the flow of Qi throughout the body. Anger constricts that movement as does rage, resentment, frustration and bitterness. Chronic constraint (stagnation) of Qi creates Heat internally, which agitates shen/Heart (Liver nourishes Heart in the Five Element system) and fails to anchor shen within the Heart. This can result in disorders of psyche and soma.

The opposite of joy (Heart) is sadness. Sadness, while a normal emotional response to loss can, when extreme or protracted (over longer periods of time), stagnate Heart and Lung Qi, which leads to a Fire deficiency (this can affect overall or various components of bodily functions).

Pensiveness (aka over-thinking/rumination) leads to both stagnation and deficiency, setting up a chronic imbalance in digestive functions (in CM, Spleen controls digestion). This stagnation (excess) and deficiency (reduction in function) bring about the formation of Dampness (wet mucus) and Phlegm (dry mucus), and combine with Heat. Combined with constraint and anxiety, it can manifest as “knots in the stomach” or “butterflies in the stomach.” Depending on the individual, digestion and elimination can be seriously increased (seen with anxiety) or decreased (seen with depression as it causes constraint).

Grief is the emotion associated with Lung in CM. It is similar to sadness in that a prolonged state of grief will cause constraint in the Lung/Heart relationship and likely lead to a deficiency.

Fear is the emotion associated with Kidney in CM. While fear is healthy and keeps us from doing foolish things, it, too, can become protracted as a result of fright/shock (think PTSD and other anxiety disorders). 

When there is an imbalance, fear can foster a general insecurity about life. A deficiency of the Yin aspect of the Water element, the calming, receptive and grounding portion, can manifest as agitation, insecurity, and anxiety (combination of nervousness and fear). (The 5-Element Guide to Healing with Whole Foods, D. Thunderhawk, L.Ac., 2016.)

In Conclusion…

This has been a nerve-wracking experience for many around the globe. Meditation, solitude (easy with the shelter-in-place orders), compassion, in conjunction with holistic healing methods (acupuncture, herbs, Reiki, medical Qi Gong, healing hands, etc.), can ground us and reduce, even heal, our anxiety, our jitters. We must continue to move forward no matter what tomorrow may bring. Remember that adversity makes us stronger.

May you find peace and strength to ease your minds and nourish your spirit. Namaste.

 

 

 

Like, Um, Well, You Know…Seriously, To Be Fair…

crutch words1
Source: Google Images

Grammar Still Rules

Grammar rules still apply to your writing and speaking and always will. Especially if you want to keep readers and listeners engaged.

Today I’m writing about a few of my pet peeves that have become far too prevalent in today’s writing and speaking. I’m talking about crutch words and fillers: like, well, you know, ah, um, uh, etc. 

My biggest issue with these overused words and space fillers is that they make the writer/speaker sound less intelligent, less able to think or speak quickly or clearly. Which equates to poor writing and speaking skills. And poor communication skills take away one’s credibility, which means people won’t read your books or listen to what you say. Is this how you want the world of readers and listeners to perceive you? 

Ditch the Crutches

While some crutch words and fillers are acceptable in written dialogue, they should be left out of interviews and other professional conversations. If you listen to podcasts, you know what I’m talking about; fillers and crutches take up way more space in a conversation. Listen to an interview, maybe even record it to your computer. Then edit out the fillers and crutches and listen to what remains – the actual conversation sounds quite different when it’s cleaned up. It’s more direct and to the point and it’s the same with writing. Remove the fillers and crutches (except when necessary in character dialogue) and you’ll find the reading succinct and clear. And credible.

A Interesting Peeve

Another of my pet peeves of late is the incorrect use of ‘a’ and ‘an.’ Far too often, even on the evening national news, I hear professionals using ‘a’ where ‘an’ is required.

Here’s the rule: if the word begins with a vowel or a consonant with a vowel sound like the h in hour or in abbreviations/acronyms such as MBA, use an. If the word begins with a consonant or consonant sound as in book or PTA, use a. I’m annoyed every time I hear phrases like “a airplane” or “a interested party” because the speakers come off as not very bright or particularly attentive to their grammar. Or they have lazy copyeditors!

Modify This

The next peeve on my list (which I swear grows with age) is the overuse and incorrect use of what are called vague modifiers. Vague modifiers are also crutch words and fillers and don’t belong in good writing or clear speeches: A lot, kind of, perhaps, truly, somewhat, quite, seemingly, suddenly, rather, fairly, etc.. There are more, but you get the idea. How often do you use these in your writing/speaking? Are you even conscious of whether you use these or not? Here is a link to a funny article on crutch words that “literally” made me laugh out loud.

I’ll admit I’m guilty of falling prey to the occasional crutch and filler. However, I have become more conscious of my spoken words as a result of doing a podcast last year. That, in turn, has made me more aware of written words and their impact.

Those Catholic grammar school nuns beat good English grammar into me and my classmates – quite literally, actually. To this day, I can’t finish a project and ‘turn it in’ (publish) unless it’s perfect.

Seriously. 😉

#grammarrules #thewritinglife #communicationskills #writeagoodstory #podcasting #Englishgrammar

Finding Peace in Chaos

Yin Yang with Light3 (3)

Universal Law

The Law of Unity of Opposites (theory of Yin and Yang) states that nothing in the Universe is totally Yin or totally Yang. Yin and Yang are in opposition and are interdependent – each is necessary for the other’s existence (The 5-Element Guide to Healing with Whole Foods, 2016). In our current situation, it’s necessary to find the Yin/peace within the Yang/chaos. With external avenues closed to so many (e.g., fitness centers, yoga and tai chi classes, meditations, etc.), going inward is our only salvation if we’re to survive this viral onslaught.

Finding Your Peace

All over Instagram (and other SM sites), people are gathering together in solidarity (and solitude) to find that peace. Meditation and other spiritual services are readily available online to help us maintain equilibrium. Another road inward is writing: expressing those emotions, telling those stories, that must be felt and heard. Out of chaos (erratic) comes peace (consistency), it’s the natural order of things. People all over the world are finding ways to cope and, hopefully, to survive.

The TCM View

Naturally, I can’t help but think how many will be affected so deeply that physical health becomes an issue at some point. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners know that emotional distress can contribute to the development of disease (imbalances). Learning to control emotions is a major step in preventing these imbalances. The Huang Di Nei Jing, also known as The Yellow Emperor’s Classic, the bible of TCM medicine, recognized that emotional and psychological factors are important causes of illness. The Nei Jing indicated that excessive emotions impair the internal organs of the human body: Anger hurts the liver, joy hurts the heart, brooding hurts the spleen, and melancholy hurts the lungsHence, the Nei Jing proposes regulating the emotions by keeping the heart calm and cheerful and the mind free of worries:

“Do not be weighed down by perplexing thoughts; strive to be calm and optimistic; be complacent; keep sound in body and mind.” 

Let It Out

In other words, get writing! Use your writing as a catharsis, if you will, to free yourself of pent up stress and emotions brought on by this viral pandemic.

After my mother died I wrote my first book, a creative nonfiction, in four and a half months. Tears and words poured out of me and by the time I was done writing the book, I was pretty much done grieving her death. Use this downtime wisely; don’t squander the opportunity to find your peace in the chaos, no matter what it is.

#coronavirus #findpeaceinchaos #Chinesemedicine #writing #storyteller #yinyang #meditation #yoga #acupressure #acupuncture #fictionwriters #

Below is a chart you can follow for applying acupressure to various points if you’re feeling stressed/depressed (please share it with as many people as possible):

Acupressure for Depression

Source: Acupuncture Media Works

Stuck At Home? Make Lemonade From Those Lemons!

lemon-3225459_1920

Source: Pixabay

Lots of folks stuck at home right now, including writers. That may be a good thing – for writers, anyway. Sheltering-in-place is providing us all with much needed down time and an opportunity for writers to catch up on writing projects. Some folks might think it rude to market one’s book during such a serious time. I say business is business and this outbreak will eventually subside (hopefully sooner rather than later) but your business won’t. A lapse in marketing now can have negative effects later on. 

Marketing Your Book During a Crisis

Sure, some people are home because they’re sick, but many are home as a preventive. And with the Internet, we can maintain connections with loved ones as well as fans/readers. It’s a great time to reach out to others, whether for a well-check or for marketing your book/s. Use this down time as an opportunity to reach out to people but haven’t had the time. Cuz now you do.

Acknowledge But Don’t Apologize

Don’t apologize for continuing to put your book out there in front of potential readers. Sure, you can acknowledge the current atmosphere. Maybe your book is relevant to this viral outbreak: science/clinical; nutrition; ways to stay safe in a crisis (i.e., how to put together Go Bag), etc. Here are a few suggestions from an article at booklaunch.com on how to tie your book/marketing into what’s going on:

  1. Start a social distancing book club with people (that includes your book). You can have daily/weekly meetings on Zoom or Skype to discuss. This will give isolated people a way to connect.
  2. Run a “boredom promotion” where people can get your books at a discount.
  3. Partner with other authors to promote a box set of all of your books.

I’m running a ‘stuck at home’ deep discount for readers who want to shop smarter in the grocery aisles. Personally, I like the idea of a ‘boredom promotion’; takes their focus off the negative and puts it on something positive. You’re helping people through your book.

Something New

This is also a great time to start a new marketing angle like podcasting. You can host your own show or be a guest on another podcast. Check out radioguestlist.com if you need guests to interview or wish to be interviewed. Great way to get the word out on you and your book and it won’t cost you a dime.

Yeah, we’re all cooped up in our homes but there are ways to invite the world in so it doesn’t feel so lonely. Remember the old saying: “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” 

Shelter-in-Place Discount

MB nutrition book-card

 

Please share this with friends, family, and others who may benefit from nourishment…

Because so many of you are sheltering in place, here’s a way to help you get & stay healthy through these troubled times. For a short time (at least until end of March, perhaps to mid-April), I’m offering my nutrition book at a DEEP DISCOUNT (40% OFF!).

Because my book is printed with Lulu Press, there should be little to no delays in the shipping process (unless otherwise noted by Lulu Press). Please, let me know otherwise.

Staying in gives us more time to read, learn how to cook, write more articles, etc. Use this down time as an opportunity to strengthen your and your family’s immune system/s. Eat more fresh food (if you can find it; our grocery stores are doing a fab job in keeping produce stocked), and less boxed food. Use more spices/herbs to help flavor packaged foods. If you can, cook outside on the grill and get some fresh air.

Understandably, in a situation like this, we MUST do with what we have. So be flexible. Be willing to learn how to do something differently. Understand your options and do what you must without inconveniencing others.

Remember, we’re all in this together.

Are All Your Eggs in One (Amazon) Basket?

eggs in basket2

Source: Google Images

New Priorities

In case you don’t already know, Publishers Weekly sent an email titled “Amazon Deprioritizes Book Sales Amid Coronavirus Crisis.” Amazon is working diligently to prioritize “the surge in demand for household staples, medical supplies, and other high demand products.” Publishers (self and otherwise) are one of the suppliers whose goods (meaning books) will receive a low priority in shipping until at least April 5th. This makes sense; a good decision on their part, I believe.

So if you have your books self-published only through Amazon, this will pose a problem of lost or delayed sales. Hopefully you have listed your books (eBooks and hard copies) with other publishing sites like Lulu, Smashwords, Ingram, and the like. Because my book is published via Lulu Press and distributed to Amazon (and other retail sites), readers can still access my book here. Not a good idea to have your works all at one location, not at anytime but certainly not in this current climate.

Amazon is aware of the negative trickle-down effect of this decision and is working diligently to add 100K new positions in fulfillment centers across the U.S. The good news is that many of those folks out of work (restaurant servers, retail jobs, etc.) will have an opportunity to earn instead of falling into financial ruin or bankruptcy while waiting for businesses to reopen.

Plenty of Options

Which is why I’m glad I’m with Lulu Press. So far, I don’t see any announcements on their site re shipment issues. Not yet, anyway. But I’ll keep watching. 

In times such as this, it’s best not to put all your eggs in one publishing basket. While sales may droop overall, it’s not the end of the world (despite what some preppers may believe). There are plenty of self-publishing sites to list your work on; make a list of which ones would best benefit your genre/s. Widen your net, keep your options open. Put a few eggs in many different baskets.