Guest Post: Six science-backed reasons why you should be reading books

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Reading – such a simple pleasure…

In a busy society where screens are omnipresent and smartphones are a must-have, it’s easy to understand why people don’t read as many books anymore. A recent US study that involved 1,000 adults, found that 28% of those interviewed didn’t read a single book last year. Reading books is not just engaging, motivating and entertaining, but also healthy. It helps the brain process data faster, it feeds the intellect with useful, practical information and in some ways it makes us happier. Here are 6 science-based reasons to read books.

  1. Reading calms people’s nerves

If you’re stressed out, reading a book can prove to be an extremely helpful medicine. A 2009 study performed in Sussex, at Mindlab University, showed that book reading overcomes stress, thus beating other favorites relievers like drinking tea, walking or listening to music. The participants grabbed a book and started reading; it took them 6 minutes to relax and unwind. Scientists emphasized that reading relaxes the brain. It fosters imagination and thus persuades the reader to evade into a world free of stress and tension.

  1. Reading sharpens the brains

Reading books keeps your brain in good shape. According to a new study published in a Neurology journal, book reading is a mentally stimulating activity. In older people, it keeps their minds sharp and lowers the rate of mental decline. The study in questioning focused on 294 participants and the results showed that when people participate in activities that are mentally stimulating (like reading), they experience slower memory refuse. Adults who exercise their memory later in life have a 32% lower chance of developing mental decline.

  1. Reading might ward off Alzheimer’s

Older people who stimulate their brains with inspiring activities such as solving puzzles and reading are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. This is merely a claim, an association made by specialists who want to emphasize that reading books is an excellent stimulant for the brain. Researchers didn’t find a cause & effect relation between Alzheimer’s and reading books; but they do emphasize that the brain is an organ that ages fast if it is not used. Just like exercise strengthens the body, reading strengthens the brain, keeps it focused and engaged.

  1. Reading books wards off insomnia

Reading books calms the mind and helps the body recover from a stressful day. Many people can’t sleep properly, even if they’re dead tired. In some cases, it is because they can’t stop thinking about their problems. Experts recommended reading books before bedtime to de-stress the body. Make sure the lights in the room are dim to help you relax, and select books that are inspiring, motivational, and easy to read.

  1. Reading books makes people more compassionate

A recent study highlights that reading fiction books increases empathy. Several European researchers mentioned that people who are emotionally involved in reading such books may experience boosts in empathy. The study showcased that reading makes people become better human beings; now of course, it’s important for the book to be stirring. Generally speaking, adventure novels and everything in the fictional domain have the power of fostering our imagination. Readers relate to the characters; they began understanding their needs and worries, so it’s natural for them to develop feelings of sympathy and compassion.

  1. Reading self-help books diminishes depression

Also known as “bibliotherapy”, self-help books can persuade people to improve the quality of their lives. A recent research that analyzed people’s perceptions towards reading motivational books was connected to decreased levels of depression. One of the experts that took part in the study, said that self-help books have an important clinical impact, and that the results of the research are incredibly encouraging. Depression destroys people lives; it makes them believe that the problems that they have now are the worst. The good news is, by reading self-help books, readers will finally understand there’s solution to everything problem and that willpower is everything they need to thrive and overcome their fears.

Reading books has a great effect on our brains and souls. Certain genres stimulate our perceptions and make us want to succeed in life and in our careers; other genres like fiction, allow us to evade for a few hours, elope in a fictional world with nothing but our own rules and regulations.

Author Bio: Edward Francis is a tech writer basically and he loves reading books. His favorite hobby is to read eBooks and he prefers http://www.lovereading.co.uk/ to get a variety of books at the same place.

Opportunity – Contribute your crazy parenting experiences to my next book

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I am currently working on a new book set to be published sometime in the next year. I’m working on it right now, as come May time – I’m gonna be a wee bit busy with baby 4!

The book is about parenthood and it is a witty (I hope!) book about the gloriously insane reality of being a parent.

If you have any stories you would like to share with me, please do. I can keep any stories you share anonymous.

My first book did pretty well, it was a best-seller on Amazon Kindle in 2013 and received media coverage in Australia, so this is a fun opportunity to get your voice out there. You could share your birth story, daily life with a small person, what life is really like raising kids etc. It will need to be light and reasonably funny.

If you can help contribute that would be AMAZING. If you want your name up in lights (well, you never know!) and want acknowledged in the book you’d have to be happy to use your real name, otherwise I totally understand if you’d rather remain anonymous.

Anyway, I truly hope you have at least one funny story to share that can help other parents along in their parenting journey.

It’s best to email me your stories to alanamunroauthor@gmail.com and I can let you know if your story or stories are going to be added to the book.

If you doubt your writing ability just give me as much info as possible and I can pull it all together for you.

Hope you can help…Alana x 

Guest Post: A Beginners Guide to Astrology

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Don’t mess with a bull! Image: Horoscopes.com

 

A bit of fun this week…what’s your Sun Sign and are you anything like predicted? I’m a Taurus. I’m pretty much as they say! Although I do embrace change (actively seeking changes) and get rather bored if my feet aren’t exploring new places. I don’t bother to read my star signs in the newspapers, but I do find it fascinating how some people are very Leo – two of my kids who are born for the stage, or very Taurus – one of my kids is a gentle, slow moving soul, or very Libra – my husband who weighs up just about everything!  

 

A Beginners Guide to Astrology

Astrology is the art of studying the position and movement of the planetary bodies in the sky in order to determine a connection between these planet’s movements and events in our lives on earth. The planets are continuously moving which is why every day can predict something different. As with all predictions though, we all have free will to change our paths whenever we want but it is a good guide into understanding yourself and other.

Most people’s experience of Astrology is reading their star signs in the Newspaper.

In actual fact what you are reading is your Sun sign. Your Sun sign is calculated by the month and date you were born in. Most of us have this precise information.

For example

Dec 21st – 21st Jan – Capricorn – Earth sign

Jan 21st – Feb 21st – Aquarius – Air Sign

Feb 21st – March 23rd – Pisces – Water Sign

March 23rd – April 21th – Aries – Fire Sign

April 21st =May 21st – Taurus – Earth Sign

May 21st – June 21st – Gemini – Air Sign

June 21st – July 21st – Cancer – Water Sign

July 21st – August 23rd – Leo – Fire Sign

August 23rd – September 22nd – Virgo – Earth Sign

September 22nd – October 21st – Libra – Air Sign

October 21st – November 22nd – Scorpio

November 22nd – December 21st – Sagittarius – Fire Sign

As you can see there are four elements that each Sign is related to. Earth, Air, Water and Fire. The elements run in sequence.

Each element gives a general description of the type of person you are.

Earth Signs are generally slower in energy, but see projects through to the end. They are practical, nurturing, careful and give their advice freely. This makes them good business advisers, teachers, bankers and leaders. Sometimes a little withdrawn and contemplative and sometimes the opposite. They may take a long time to trust people fully but will be loyal to the last when they do.

Air Signs have a faster pace of life. They are generally great communicators, story tellers and activists. They have a massive humanitarian streak which seeks out the truth and will forge ahead to make changes. They tend to forgive everybody for any wrong doing in attempt to keep everything running smoothly. They just want you to like them. The problem sometimes with Air Signs is that they change their minds often, so one day they could be fighting madly for one cause, then their energy is then ploughed into another equally more worthy cause a few months later. They will always make you laugh along the way though.

Water Signs are the deeper signs of the zodiac. You will not always know what they are thinking and feel no need to know what you are also thinking. For this reason they may seem a bit aloof and detached. They look for deeper meaning in life and when they love, they love entirely. However if you break their trust you will find it very hard to get back in their favour, because they will hurt like no other. The water signs tend to be strongly psychic and can read people and see things that other signs of the zodiac seem to miss. They tend to have a very creative flare and can often turn their hand to producing unusual pieces of art and writing which comes from their free imagination. Again very strong loyal, nurturing and protective signs who will want to help the venerable whenever they can.

Fire Signs are the leaders in the Zodiac. They tend have dynamic personalities which get everyone else up and moving. These very charismatic high energy people are also very warm but don’t suffer fools gladly. They speak honestly and hotly sometimes offending others in their path to the top. They are not deliberately hurtful, they just don’t have time in their busy schedules for any wishy washy day dreamers. People tend to see them like Marmite, you either love their bold, passionate love of life or you hate their bossy, over bearing points of view. Generally they will be the life and soul at a party, competing only with the Air signs for attention.

These are the Sun sign characteristics and only give a very general view. However we are all individuals and precisely what time/ date and year you were born is a major factor in determining your Moon sign, which identifies how you are emotionally. For example if your Sun sign was in Taurus and your Moon sign was in Scorpio, how you react to a business transaction and an emotional relationship would be completely different. There are other planets that effect who we are and how we deal with life and general but only a very experienced Astrologer could give you an accurate personalised reading and predict what is ahead of you.

If you wish such a reading please visit Derek Acorahs Psychic Ether and look for Psychics who have those precise skills. So whether you want to know if your partner is a good love match or if your business is going to do well – we can help support you with some of the answers. This piece was researched and written by Karen Sealey from Psychic Ether

Why I’d say yes, yes, yes to the Bad Sex award

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Oh, go on then…give me a good snog!

 

Sexual intercourse is getting on a bit. Not only has it been boosting the human population since we emerged from the primordial swamp, it’s more than half a century since Philip Larkin noted its arrival on the cultural scene in his poem Annus Mirabilis. Until then it was, Larkin writes:

A shame that started at sixteen
And spread to everything.

For thousands of years, sex had lurked behind curtains and in the sub-text of innuendos. Suddenly, it was a matter for discussion, celebration and artistic exploration. This was good news for sex, perhaps, but not for writers, as Ben Okri has just found out after winning the Literary Review’s 2014 Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

I speak from experience, having essayed a few torrid moments in my last novel Dark Aemilia. Given that my protagonist had inspired the later, bleaker Shakespeare sonnets, which give a compelling insight into the pain of unrequited or rejected love, it seemed appropriate that she and the infatuated Mr WS should engage in an obsessive sexual romance. So the script demanded that they take their clothes off, and, having taken them off, that they engage in the sort of sex that was likely to obsess them.

In our lust-soaked culture I felt there was no way the reader would accept a chastely sanitised Lurve without some robust consummation. But I worried that the spirit of bad writing might be chasing me down the Jacobean corridors, so I kept it brief. The fairly elliptical bouts of shagging which enliven my narrative will not give EL James pause for thought – there is no throbbing, few body part references and not a silken cord in sight.

But perhaps omission, metaphor and suggestion are sexier than, well, sex. It is difficult to write about the act of love without resorting to knicker-dampening cliché, or the most appalling schmaltz. New words should be made available if we want to carry on depicting “scenes of a sexual nature” – and the fact that the language of raw physicality is limited is demonstrated by the rarity of raw physical writing.

Most novelists don’t explore the animalistic elements of our being in much depth. When we write about eating and drinking, we focus on the food and the wine, not the act of chewing and swallowing. The delineation of everyday living doesn’t usually include trips to the loo – though in my first novel I did have an explicit weeing sequence, written from the point of a man. And vomiting is relatively underexplored. Orgasm has had far more literary attention than the ungovernable heave.

Which brings me back to the Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Given that both Booker prize winner Richard Flanagan and Haruki Murakami are on the shortlist, it’s clear that being a great writer is no protection against poor sex prose. (Other former nominees include Jonathan Franzen, Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe.) So who is writing about sex well? Where is the excellent literary shagging to be had? Is the library scene in Atonement a best-practice example? Are there brilliant sex scenes that have slipped my mind?

As in fashion, pop music and all forms of culinary art since Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal, it has all been done before. It’s hard to “make it new” as Ezra Pound exhorted writers to do. Readers have already been shocked by the inchoate loin-count in Lady Chatterley’s Lover; the joys of compulsive teen masturbation in Portnoy’s Complaint; the fetishisation of the “c” word in Tropic of Cancer and by Fear of Flying with its “zipless fuck”. It says something about the current state of sex writing that the most exciting innovation of the last five years has been the mainstreaming of “mummy porn” in Fifty Shades of Grey.

Perhaps the way lies ahead not in explicit writing but in experimental fiction. DH Lawrence wrote about sex very badly indeed – ludicrously, insanely, improbably. In an attempt to be honest, direct and – yes – animalistic, he boldly overwrote where no man had overwritten before. Conversely, he also wrote about sex with courage and originality, using impressionistic sensory description to convey the sexual sensibility of women in a way that few male novelists have attempted since. And he should also get some points for his willingness to write about bad sex. Paradoxically, the sex in contemporary bad sex writing usually attempts to depict very good sex indeed. It’s as if the couplings described must emulate how we imagine the pretty writhings of Hollywood’s finest.

So where does this leave my future relationship with the sexual paragraph? Will my characters get down and dirty again? I’m not sure. If I can find a way to write about the “inchoate” without sounding like a breathless purveyor of lady porn, I may give it a try. I’m certainly not put off by the idea of winning a Bad Sex award. With so much dire sex to contend with, it would be an accolade of sorts.

*Article from The Conversation.

Happy New Year – Choose Gratitude…

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This coming year, I am opting for seeking out the good in every single day. Even the grey, rainy days. More gratitude – it’s the best attitude!

Oh, I know some days it won’t be easy. We all get floored, some days and weeks and months are just miserable and bleak. But we must, we must somehow find our inner positivist. It exists in all of us. We all fought long and hard to be born into this world. Now we are here and we exist. Right now, right here we are alive. That’s something to be thankful for. We have a chance, an opportunity that many others don’t ever get.

So, raise your glass to another year full of hope, opportunity, new friendships, new creative projects, new romance, new dreams. It’s your world, your life – enjoy your amazing chance in this game of life.

What is your New Years resolution? What do you hope to achieve? What would make 2015 special to you?

 

My Christmas Wish

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Love this tree – fabulous creativity!

Dear Santa,

For Christmas what I’d love more than perfume or books or bubble bath is for people in this shared world to spread their love, instead of their prejudices and hate.

Compassion instead of animosity.

Peace instead of war.

Warmth instead of cold.

Tenderness instead of hardness.

Solidarity instead of division.

Construction instead of destruction.

Light over darkness.

Hope over fear.

We are all vulnerable and we have our worries. The world needs more people who nurture and care.

I know this is a lot to ask for but I just wanted to put it out there into the world. Maybe you could make my wish come true.

If you can’t, well that’s OK. You’re a busy guy. I promise to do my little bit in 2015. I’ll do my best to spread hope and optimism. My impact on this great big world may not be much, but it is something. I have to try.

I’d just like to say a Merry Christmas and a blessed, safe new year to each and every person.

Love Alana x x x

p.s Thanks everyone, I truly appreciate that you take the time to drop by and read my blog. Peace and love to you all.

Finding the Motivation to Change Your Entire Life

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What do you really want to do? You have to make it happen…

 

Extract from Zen Habits:

Almost exactly 8 years ago today, I ran my first marathon and soon after I started Zen Habits. I’d changed a dozen or so habits, lost weight, was getting out of debt, quit smoking.

And almost 7 years ago, I quit my job.

That was a period of intense and profoundly scary life changes for me, but they were all of my choosing. I decided to make them happen, and I pushed until they did.

Today I’d like to share a few things that worked for me, in case you’re considering changing your life. Maybe you want to quit your job and start a business, or start an organization that will change the world in some way. Maybe you want to change your eating and fitness habits and become healthy. Maybe you want to finally start creating that art, that book, that blog that you’ve been meaning to start someday.

Someday is today.

Let’s look at how you find that motivation to finally start changing — and then to keep going when the changes inevitably get tough.

What Gets in the Way

None of these are insurmountable, but they can often cause us to put off major changes. So be aware of them:

  • Fear of change
  • Not wanting to be uncomfortable
  • Fear of uncertainty
  • Being tired
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of not being good enough
  • Not having time
  • Being busy with all kinds of things
  • Waiting for something to happen
  • Perfectionism
  • Being overwhelmed with all that you have to do
  • Not knowing how

We all have these fears and reasons for not taking action.

They’re all bullshit.

Yes, the fear of failure and change and discomfort and uncertainty are real … but they’re not good enough reasons for inaction. They can all be overcome. I’ve dealt with them, and so have thousands, millions of others. You’re no worse than me or anyone else — you can face these fears.

Yes, you’re busy, tired, overwhelmed, lacking time … we all are. I would get up at 5 a.m. to go for my runs or write my blog, because I knew I’d be busy later in the day. I didn’t have more time or energy — I was motivated, and I prioritized. You can make that happen too.

So let’s look at how to overcome these fears, find motivation, and prioritize. All with one small set of actions.

The Make It Happen Actions

These are the set of actions that I’ve found to help overcome fears, find motivation, and prioritize:

  1. Find a purpose. You might already know what your purpose is, but it’s good to review it and keep it at the forefront of your thoughts. If you don’t have a purpose, start here: what will you want to look back on at the end of your life? What will make your life feel significant? What will give your life some meaning? If you don’t have an answer to these questions, it’s worth spending a little time here. Go for a walk and think about it.
  2. Embrace your desire. You’re reading this article because you have a desire to do something positive in your life. Embrace that. Isn’t it wonderful that you have this desire? See this as the first positive step, one you’ve already taken. Now use it and take action.
  3. Create the space. You won’t make any changes if you don’t create a small space for the change. When will you start making the change? In the morning, in the evening, during your lunch break? Don’t wait for the change to happen — make it happen. Block off some time on your calendar each day, even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes. If you don’t have the time, think about how long you spend each day on Facebook, TV, games, or doing smaller tasks that aren’t as important. Push those back for just a bit, and do what’s most important to you first.
  4. Surround yourself. The best way to make change happen is to surround yourself with others making a similar change themselves, others who will support your change. Find a few people online or off, and create a support team that will check in with each other regularly. Yes, this might take some work. Yes, you can do it.
  5. Make the accountability. Find at least one person who will hold you accountable for making this change. It might be the support team mentioned above, or a coach, or an accountability partner. Tell them not to let you off the hook.
  6. Take a small action. If you’re overwhelmed by a large change, or a bunch of large change, just focus on one small step. What small action can you take today that will move you forward? It might be something as simple as “do an Internet search about selling my quilts online”, or “call Freddie to ask him to hold me accountable”. Take a small step, and get moving. Movement begets movement. Now take another small step. This is how change is created.

Poverty in the UK

No one should go hungry, let alone in the sixth richest country in the world. Yet in Britain one in five people live below the poverty line and life expectancy in some areas is lower than some developing countries.

Please take the time to watch these video’s about poverty in the UK today. You can also check out Oxfam to find out more.

The Curse of the Expat – Trying to Establish Roots…

I have a confession to make. I’m missing Australia. Like, a lot.

We moved back to Scotland in April 2014, and it has been great, really great.

Apart from, this most days….it does rain a lot in Scotland. Ah, no wonder it is so green and lush!

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Yup, that’s rain alright! The view from my living-room.

 

The curse of the expat is this – once you start moving, it is kind of difficult to stay in one place forever and ever. Expats are like (friendly) sharks, we have to keep moving forward. We like to explore every corner of the ocean.

Have you ever moved to another country, moved back home and then actually felt ‘homesick’ for the country you left behind? No doubt the ‘honeymoon’ period is well and truly over and the reality of dark, rainy nights is biting.

We have children, and we feel we must establish roots now. It’s hard though when you’re not too sure where those roots should be. I have some doubts that the UK is the best place for us in the long-term. Were we too hasty to leave Australia? I guess time will tell.

Hmmmm….it is tough. We adore our Scottish family, but we do certainly miss the daily life of living down under. We are so lucky to have such a dilemma.

Calling inner voice, can you hear me inner voice? Do you read me? Hello? Gonna give us a wee clue!

Anyone moved around a bit and had similar feelings? I guess it is harder to settle once you start moving? What tough questions did you ask yourself to make your life changing decision? Did you just dig your heels in and make it work, or did you long for your other life?

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That’s me in the white and sun hat, with my son. Woah, seems a world away now! Magical experience…

 

Guest Post: Looking into the Very Heart and Soul of Creativity

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The universe consists of Yin and Yang – two polar opposites that complement,

nurture and balance each other out with their respective strengths and

weaknesses. There are men and women, night and day, ebb and flow. And in

creative writing, we can find these two polar opposites as well.

Here is what might be, in my opinion, the biggest secret to creative output: In

order to bring out your best writing, you have to carefully balance creativity

(which represents chaos) and rationality (which represents order)! Lack in one

of these two, and you will have a very hard time bringing out an inspiring and

well-rounded story.

 

The Creative Side

On one hand, you have creativity. Creativity is giving birth to something new,

it’s risk as in non-calculation, it’s the odd straw. A truly creative mindset is a

relaxed and very, very playful one: Ideally, you are sitting down to write like a

little kid toying around with his toy blocks, self-absorbed, fascinated, totally

amused by what you are doing, forgetting about the outer world.

Now this is the important part: In creative mode, you can do whatever you

want and your mind is not constricted by any rules whatsoever! You could

write about a bloody murder, which is something that would repel you in real

life; you could write about flying pigs; you could even deconstruct words and

sentences and assemble an abstract poem – or an abstract novel (see how I

constricted myself here for a moment by assuming that if it was abstract, it had

to be a poem?). You can do anything. You are the big kid!

Creative mode is a state of extreme freedom that most people don’t get to

experience very often in their lives – which might be the reason why we like

writing in the first place. It’s a free-floating, curious, roaming state of mind, and

that freedom occasionally brings out great creative results. Curiosity,

experimenting and crossing limits lead to innovation. No maps, no boundaries.

No rights or wrongs. This is creativity.

We are not questioning ourselves in any way in that state, we just follow our

gut feelings. No inquiries accepted – in fact, questions seem outright

distasteful!

By the way, that’s also the reason why during brainstorming sessions nobody is

allowed to make derogatory comments: The mood has to be kept non-

judgmental to not asphyxiate creative thinking.

 

The Rational Side

Then, on the other end of the seesaw, we have the rational mind. That’s the

thinking most people use overwhelmingly each and every day of their lives,

above all in their jobs. The creative state might be mercifully allowed to come

out a bit after finishing time to have a beer with, but mostly we are too

occupied with checking phone calls off our lists, organizing transportation for

our kids and filing tax returns to give it the time of day.

There is also a good amount of social pressure on us to keep our creative side

well locked up in its ungrateful basement: Getting naked in the middle of the

street for a round of expressive dance is generally not appreciated within our

society. If it was, society would come apart at the seams, so there must be an

evolutionary reason why we don’t let that kind of behavior slide.

Rational thinking is very logical and streamlined. Everything has its place and

rights and wrongs are clearly defined. If something isn’t right, by default it must

be wrong. There is no room for ouside-the-box; in fact, the box is all that

counts. Rational mode is about executing things the right and logical way and in

the right and logical order. It’s a problem-solving mindset. As we have many

problems (or at least we think we do), we have to employ it very often.

This kind of thinking leads to measurable results. We would be lost without it

–it lets us steer towards clearly defined goals and manage our daily duties. It

separates the successful from the failed and it lets us question and therefore

improve things. It’s judgmental. And in this life, more often than not, we need

to judge in order to be able to take well-informed decisions.

 

The Balance

Now where does all of this come together for our, the writers’, purposes?

Here is the trick: To bring out your best writing, you have to establish a healthy

balance between your creative and your rational side!

You depend on your creative side to make your stories fruitful, imaginative,

mesmerizing. Without creativity, your story might read “technically” correct,

but totally bloodless and dull. You might avoid using quotative verbs with

adverbs during dialogue exchanges, the rhythm structure of your language

might be well calculated, your characters’ psychology might be structured

logically, so congratulations – but your writing will still put even the most avid

reader to sleep! What are you even writing this for?

Somebody with the mindset of an accountant might have that problem,

especially if he has been working as an accountant for three decades and has

thus trained his mind to rational thinking.

Then again, look at the other extreme: Without rationality, your writing will be

frayed at the edges, shapeless, not compact. It’s like it’s too much, not cut at

the borders where needed, and the selective and user-friendly element is

missing. And what happens if you don’t select, if you don’t judge and separate

the successful from the failed? It all ends up out of shape and overshooting the

mark – in other words, a big mess.

Selectivity gives you a chance to check if the story is following rules that have

proven effective. That means cutting a scene if it’s overwhelmingly long and

running out of juice, crossing out a metaphor if it has missed the mark,

trimming back a character trait if it doesn’t fit with the rest of the character. It’s

trimming everything back to levels that make sense, just like you would cut a

bonsai into a rectangular shape to fit it into a box, which is to say, between the

covers of a book…

This “trimming” part can be difficult to do, especially for inexperienced writers.

They often love to put their stories to paper, their creativity is overflowing, but

they haven’t developed a sense for the “complete shape,” for the rules of the

trade yet. It will come with practice. It will come if during editing they will

question their writing and think about story elements and whether each one is

in the right place or not.

Don’t question yourself during the original writing process though; while

writing the first draft, give yourself permission to do anything – just like that

little kid gives himself permission to do anything! During revision, be more

present with your logical mind and challenge yourself.  And this is exactly what

Hemingway would have meant, had he indeed said: Write drunk, edit sober.

Creativity is chaos. Rationality is order. If you find the right balance between

the two of them, people will not only be fascinated by your stories, but will also

want to read through your entire tale. And Yin and Yang, which are essentially

just two slightly distorted happy smiley-faces at peace in themselves, will shine

down on you knowingly.

***

Alexander Limberg is based in Austria and runs a blog about creative writing at

www.ridethepen.com. Ride the Pen performs the trick of taking apart the texts

of famous authors to take a close look; in the end, you will always find a writing

prompt. Alex likes polar bears and rainbows.

Alexander Limberg, Photo 1*Thanks Alex for your piece. Be sure to check out his inspiring website.

10 Query Tips from a Literary Assistant

Alana Munro - The Author Who Supports:

Happy Friday everybody.
Is it raining where you are? I don’t think it ever stops raining in Scotland!
Oh well, on days like this, it pays to be constructive with my time, I thought I’d share this useful blog post. If you have any more tips you’d personally add – please do leave a comment. Thank you.

Originally posted on Lane Heymont:

I’m a literary assistant at The Seymour Agency. Our agents, Mary Sue Seymour and Nicole Resciniti represent a range of genre: Christian/Inspirational, Fantasy/Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Women’s Lit, Romance.

As usual, this week’s tips come from my Twitter feed (@LaneHeymont). Enjoy!

1) Voice, voice, voice! As a writer you need to develop your own distinct voice. It separates you from authors also writing in your genre. Or any author. On top of that, your protagonist needs their own distinct voice. We should be able to tell who is speaking by the mannerisms in the character’s voice. Use catchphrases. People often say certain phrases like a mantra. I say “seriously” a lot. And “all right, all right, all right”.

2) A great voice can turn the mundane into awesomeness. ‘Nuff said.

3) Please include your name and email in your actual query. Agents are cool and all, but we can’t read minds.

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Featured Book – Words We Carry by D.G Kaye

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Blurb for Words We Carry

I have been a great critic of myself for most of my life, and I was darned good at it, deflating my own ego without the help of anyone else.”

What do our shopping habits, high-heeled shoes, and big hair have to do with how we perceive ourselves? Do the slights we endured when we were young affect how we choose our relationships now?

D.G. takes us on a journey, unlocking the hurts of the past by identifying situations that hindered her own self-esteem. Her anecdotes and confessions demonstrate how the hurtful events in our lives linger and set the tone for how we value our own self-worth.

Words We Carry is a raw, personal accounting of how the author overcame the demons of low self-esteem with the determination to learn to love herself.

To purchase head to Amazon todaywww.smarturl.it/bookwordswecarry

The Shame of Scotland – Friday the 19th

Alana Munro - The Author Who Supports:

I grew up in a small ex-mining town, not far from Glasgow. Often when I was a little girl, I was asked by other little kids ‘are you protestant or catholic?’ I never knew what to say. My family wasn’t religious and it wasn’t talked about. I sensed my answer was critical.
However, all around me other kids urgently asked each other which side they were on. At 6, I wasn’t too sure how deeply ingrained and damaging this daily interrogation was and how it would play a significant part in shaping the 2014 Referendum result.
This is Scotland’s dirty secret – below is a fascinating, disturbing and accurate account of life. A hidden world full of hate that can’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored if you live here.

Originally posted on MESSY REALITY:

The day after the Scottish independence referendum was a wild one in Glasgow. I happened by accident to witness some of the extraordinary scenes, and it’s taken me a while to write them down and share them. But I think Friday 19th September 2014 is still a day with relevant things we need to think about seven weeks later.

I’ll state up front what I believe I saw: an organised riot, an assault that desired to punish a city that voted Yes. It’s up to you whether you believe my version of events or not, I can only tell you what I and those I was with saw.

Two immediate prompts moved me to write this. One was when friends visited me here in the Netherlands from Scotland, and had no idea what had happened in the streets of our largest city that night, because it had gone unreported or…

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By Alana Munro - The Author Who Supports Posted in Uncategorized

Top Tips to Market your Ebook Online – Making the Most of your Amazon Free Days

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Keep going…keep pushing yourself

Your book may be published but there is much (ridiculously much more) work to be done! Books don’t sell themselves, it’s becoming more common (and essential?) for the author to market their work. Here’s the rubbish reality, if people don’t know your book exists, you’ll be lucky to sell 20 books. Yeah, even if your book is pretty darn brilliant!

Below is a list of sites that specialize in sponsoring your book, usually for a small fee. Why bother? Trust me, this is a clever way to market your work to people who are already ‘looking’ for interesting new books to download. Consider it target marketing – you’re targeting your readers thanks to these websites book loving subscribers. Give it a try. I’d suggest focusing on 2 or 3 at a time to gain the most impact on your book sales. You may be pleasantly surprised.

I jumped from relative obscurity to (paid) number #1 for my specific book category in 2013 thanks by and large to my sponsors telling their devoted book loving subscribers about my book. Not bad.

*Please note this list is of particular use for getting the most out of your ‘Free’ Amazon days. When you publish an Ebook on Amazon they allow the author a few ‘Free’ days to help the author gain much needed exposure. The ‘Free’ days are useful and if used wisely can help the author charge up the Kindle charts. Once your ‘Free’ days are over and you are back to charging a fee for your work, hopefully you’ll find more people are interested in your book after the ‘Free’ down-loaders leave their reviews. Reviews really are vital!

This was how it worked out for me. More and more people left reviews thanks to receiving their complementary copy and hey presto book lovers became more willing to pay. It’s not easy when you start out as an author, it truly is a challenge. But ultimately, ‘giving your book away for free’ for a few days may be the kick start needed until you gain traction and can charge for your hard work. We must somehow intrigue potential readers to give our book a go. A good review certainly helps. If authors can use their ‘Free’ days wisely and also be willing to seek out ‘sponsors’ who are happy to share your work – it just might take off. Good luck! 

 

Pixel of Ink

Pixel of Ink features daily publishing of Free Kindle Books and Hot Deals. On any given day, there are thousands of Free Kindle Books available. Each day there are hundreds of newly free Kindle Books that they sort through to bring you what you want – the best of the bunch! In addition to Free Books, they also share some really Hot Deals on other Kindle Ebooks.

Get started with Pixel of Ink here.

Ereader News Today

This platform features a book a day, at least. They feature Kindle accessories and great deals on Kindle books. The most important feature here, for you, is that they feature free books on their sites, sometimes daily, sometimes more than once. You can submit your free kindle ebooks to them to be featured and even advertise on it.

Get in touch with ENT here.

Freebooks.com

They claim to be committed to helping users find the best free ebooks available online and point readers in the right direction. Here you find downloadable e-books and textbooks in popular genres and topics such as christian books, audio books, horror, romance and many more.

Bargain Ebook Hunter

They claim to track the best ebook bargains, dedicated to hunting through the digital publishing world looking for eBooks at great deals (from FREE to $5.00) and putting them on their site to provide readers with a one-stop shopping experience.  They offer titles that comprise the full gamut of styles from short stories to novels and from all genres.

Visit Bargain Ebook Hunter here.

 

That Book Place.

Thatbookplace.com aims to be a new home to an exciting world of books for the internet. They wish to make it a place where authors can come and meet their fans. Where readers can come and learn of new books. They first started as a small store in 2006 and for their fifth year anniversary they decided to add an authors fair to their outdoor tent sale. They branched out into small press and Hydra Press came into being.  They showcase free Kindle books, have a membership and have a ‘ free promo submissions’  tab in the menu up top.

Visit That Book Place Here.

 

Free Kindle Fiction.

They say to bring your dragons, aliens, vampires – even sparkly ones. They claim to love dystopian, steampunk, other planets, romances, who-dun-its and other things that your imagination can form! All the books featured on their site are free at the time of posting. They share stories about free books and even have gift cards available.

Visit Free Kindle Fiction here.

 

Indie Book of the Day.

Indie Book of the Day (IBD) is a user powered platform that recognizes the best among Indie Authors by honoring one awesome book everyday, with the indie book of the day award. They have a menu tab for free kindle books on both Amazon’s UK and US divisions.

Get in touch with Indie Book of the Day here.

 

Free Book Dude

For the lack of an about page, Free Book Dude seems to be a site dedicated to book reviews. He also has a special section for free ebooks and even promotes it on a list he has. There’s a page with a special form to list your ebook on.

Find Free Ebook Dude here.

 

Digital Book Today.

Digital Book Today tries to inform readers of limited time offers while weeding out the ‘we are selling something’ ebooks which seems to increase in numbers every day. Our hope is to recommend titles that are ‘good reads’. They also have a special section dedicated to free ebooks.

Visit Digital Book Today.

 

Author Marketing Club

When you become an AMC member you will have access to the a review request system where you can put your book in front of readers who want to read and review your book, a thriving community of authors willing to share their marketing tactics and lessons, and failures, helpful advice and resources for new and experienced authors alike, specials and offers for discounted services to help you publish your book.

Visits Author Marketing Club today

 

Addicted to Ebooks

A2B is a membership site where authors can submit their books for exposure, features books by genre, price and content as well as promoting free ebooks. The site also features ebooks they may think is good.

Visit Addicted to Ebook here.

 

Flurries of Words.

Flow is a blog hosted on the Blogger platform and do book reviews, flash fiction, interviews, bargain books and others.  Most importantly, they list free Amazon ebooks.

Visit Flurry of Words here.

 

Free Kindle Books n Tips.

Free Kindle Books and Tips claims to have a simple purpose; to provide a quick summary of the daily free book offerings from Amazon as well as the thousands of books, short stories, and more available for you to read on your Kindle for no charge from numerous sites in addition to the Amazon Kindle Store. This blog also provides insider tips, tricks, and information you need to impress your Kindle friends with your new-found tips, and save a little of your valuable time!

Visit Free Kindle Books n Tips.

 

Ebooks habit

They are a site dedicated to helping ereader readers find free ebooks. With thousands of books being free each day on Amazon, they work hard to curate a list of some of the best free ebooks, so their visitors don’t have to hunt them down themselves. Each day they produce 3-4 lists of great ebooks that are free at the time of posting, as well as some bargain books that day and other great sale prices and deals in the world of ebooks and ereaders.

Visit EbooksHabit here.

 

Anymore cool sites to add to this list? If you know of any other useful sites please do comment. Have you tried any of the above websites? Thanks!

My Book is now available in paperback…

I finally got round to it folks…

I got myself super organised and now my debut book is available as a traditional paperback via Amazon. High five!

I have a copy sitting in my house right now and every day I glance up at it and smile.

It’s a surreal feeling holding my own book in my hands, touching the pages and reading my own words. At the risk of sounding like a Disney movie, you’ve just got to believe in yourself and follow your dreams. If I can do it, with three kids, you can do it.

WomenBehavingBadly-Front*Available on Amazon.com and all other Amazon stores worldwide.

How did you get your creativity flowing again?

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I’m feeling a little ‘meh’ right now. My creativity seems to have dried up. My motivation slammed the door in my face, after rolling her eyes at me.

It’s just all part and parcel of being a writer, a blogger, a designer, or anything remotely creative…we can’t be expected to produce original ideas constantly week in, week out. Sometimes, it all goes a bit well…barren.

Don’t worry, don’t fight it they say. Just go with the flow, go for a walk, take a break…it will come back. Hopefully.

I love when I’m bursting with creativity. There’s a real buzz to daily life and I feel alive. I can’t get the words down quick enough.

But right now, my mind is blank. I’m staring into an endless, empty space. Honestly, It’s quite terrifying.

I’m sure you must know the feeling right? Oh please tell me I’m not alone.  How did you get your creative mojo back? Do share your own experiences and how you managed to ignite your inner flame. I’m sure your words will soothe many weary souls out there. Thanks guys.

Guest Post: Inside the Mind of an Addict – Negative Thoughts Addicts Must Overcome

Inside the Mind of an Addict: Negative Thoughts Addicts Must Overcome

Addiction to drugs and alcohol are unfortunately common, and many individuals from young teens to the elderly suffer from addiction to one or more substances. These are substances that can affect body chemistry, and there may be a real, physical craving by the body for the individual to use these substances. More than that, the individual may experience some sort of pleasure, relief or other positive feeling when using, and this can make an addiction even more difficult to overcome. In addition, an addiction can affect the mental state of an individual, and this may be one of the most challenging aspects associated with overcoming an addiction. By entering the mind of an addict and learning more about the common, negative thoughts many addicts have, you may be able to learn how to overcome these thoughts as a first step toward recovery.

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I’m Going to Die An Addict.
There is often a sense of hopelessness felt by an addict. The addict may feel as though a life free of the drugs or alcohol is simply not possible. However, the addict may also be aware that the behavior is detrimental to his or her life or safety, and because of this, there may be a real fear that the addiction will result in his or her death. This thought may be combined with other negative thoughts to create a general feeling that the situation is hopeless and that recovery is not possible.

I Don’t Want to Live Anymore.
Many addicts understand that their addiction is having a negative impact on their lives. They may realize that the addiction has led to problems with personal relationships, their job opportunities and more. The goals and dreams that the individual once had may no longer seem attainable, and the general zest for life may be gone. Giving an individual hope that there is a better future in store after recovery is a necessary step.

I Don’t Like Myself.
This is a thought that may have two sides to it. For some individuals, they do not like themselves unless they are using. They have be filled with self-hate, and they may only find the release from this feeling by using. Others may not like themselves when they are using, but they may feel compelled because of a physical addiction to continue to use drugs or alcohol. Learning more about what specifically the individual does not like about himself or herself is vital to the recovery process. This is because improving self-image is a goal of recovery and rehabilitation.

I Don’t Know How to Stop.
Many addicts understand that they have a problem, but they simply are caught up in a cycle that they do not know how to break. Drug and alcohol addiction can be challenging because it affects many facets of a person’s life, and rehabilitation often may take weeks or months to complete. When an individual wants to stop but does not know how, these is a sign that additional support from family, friends and a rehab center are needed.

There’s Nothing I Can Do to Get Better.
While an addict may realize that the addiction is a detriment to his or her life, it is common for the individual to feel as though rehab and recovery are not feasible. They may feel that their addiction is too strong or that they need the substance in order to function. It is important to point out the negative impact of the addiction on the person’s life. In addition, scheduling an interview or consultation with a rehab center may be beneficial. The fact is that rehab is successful for many individuals, and there is actually hope for a full and lasting recovery.

The thoughts that run through the minds of addicts are among the most difficult negative forces to overcome. By speaking in detail to the addict, you may be able to learn more about his or her goals, fears and desires.

For more support you could contact a professional – http://www.thephoenixrc.com/our-philosophy/

Bio: Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health, fitness, beauty and fashion. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.

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Paisley

Read This Book – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

I’m determined to keep to my promise dear readers. I’m reading books, so many books. I believe any author worth her/his salt must spend as much time reading as they do writing. It’s slowing down my writing, but it is essential study. Lately, I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Wow, just wow. Have you read it? Put it on your book list.

Fault“I wanted to know that he would be okay if I died. I wanted to not be a grenade, to not be a malevolent force in the lives of people I loved.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Blurb: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Cry? Boy you will cry, I sobbed like a baby, clinging onto every word…but you’ll also smile and laugh as this young couple struggle to enjoy life and love despite their health. This isn’t just another modern day romance, this is a book that reminded me that life is precious and unpredictable.

Reviews

“In its every aspect, The Fault in Our Stars is a triumph.” -Booklist, starred review

“Luminous.” -Entertainment Weekly

“A smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance.” -Kirkus, starred review

A blend of melancholy, sweet, philosophical, and funny. Green shows us true love…and it is far more romantic than any sunset on the beach.” -New York Times Book Review

“One doesn’t like to throw around phrases like “instant classic” lightly, but I can see The Fault in Our Stars taking its place alongside Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret in the young-adult canon. Green’s book is also a good example of why so many adult readers are turning to young-adult literature for the pleasures and consolations they used to get from conventional literary fiction.” -Time

“Green writes books for young adults, but his voice is so compulsively readable that it defies categorization. The Fault in Our Stars proves that the hype surrounding Green is not overblown.” -NPR

“A pitch-perfect, elegiac comedy…it will linger long and hard in the minds of teens and former teens.” -USA Today

“An achingly beautiful story.” -SLJ, starred review

“John Green deftly mixes the profound and the quotidian in this tough, touching valentine to the human spirit.” -Washington Post

My Book Cover – The Updated Design

WomenBehavingBadly-FrontAs most authors should really know, a quality book cover is absolutely vital.

Author fact #1 – a rubbish/average/rushed cover will inevitably slow down sales…It’s a tough fact. Readers will judge us on our covers.

I quite liked my original design, but I couldn’t help but mutter to myself, yes it’s OK but….my cover could be better.

Here it is folks! Taa-daa! I think my sales are already improving on Amazon. Woo hoo!

Other big news in my own booky wooky world? This book will also soon be available to purchase on Amazon and other shops as a paperback. I’m working on it. At the moment, it can be purchased as an e-book. Just click on the Amazon links to read the reviews.

Amazon UK

Amazon USA and beyond

Blurb:

Have you ever been hurt by a woman? Are you fed up with the constant bitching, gossiping and manipulation between the females in your life? Do you want happier and healthier relationships with females? Do you wish to weed out the toxic women and seek out only positive women?

If you have ever wondered why some women are complicated creatures this book will offer you straight talking answers. This book will highlight all the strange, controlling and spiteful behaviours that some females specialise in. This book attempts to understand what actually drives women to be cruel or bitchy to each other. It attempts to make sense of the huge expectations women place on each other. How can we avoid toxic women? What bad behaviours should we be looking out for? This book explores every cruel behaviour possible and attempts to understand what is really going on between the females in our life.

More about ‘Women Behaving Badly’,

Alana Munro takes us deep into the unnerving yet compelling reality of being a woman, revealing a world where females don’t nurture other females. Sharing many deeply personal and shocking tales about bullying, bitching, gossiping, power games, jealousy and much more – Alana explains what each hurtful episode taught her about females.

Women Behaving Badly shatters our assumption that all women are loving. It ruptures the delusion of sisterhood. It heightens our awareness of what goes on behind the sweet smiles. It liberates women from the emotional and often difficult prison that is womanhood. It exposes the harsh and fickle reality of friendship between women.

This book offers us nothing but the truth. Alana argues that the bonds between women are most often too fragile. She also argues that the ideology of sisterhood is optimistic but unrealistic. Women are human beings with profound emotional short comings.

Alana also looks at how we can weed out the negative women, pin point suspect behaviours and most importantly how to protect yourself from future hurt.

“The easiest thing to do is for me to feel upset and retreat to my bed, never trying to make another friend. Or I can dust myself off and learn from my stupid mistakes. I can even try to make sense of the ridiculous injustices thrown in my direction. My goal for this book? Simply to allow other women a chance to become more aware of the cruel games played by some females, allow women the opportunity to pin point hurtful (and often invisible) behaviours and find healthy friendships again”. Alana Munro.

Testimonials from happy customers.

“I found myself wanting to print this eBook out and highlight all the solutions that pertain my current relationships with women.”

“I woke up this morning after reading your book and actually felt liberated. I am not alone, I am not the only woman who has had so much crap from women, thank you!”

“I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I could relate to her personal stories about females being so nasty to each other. Really good.”

“This book outlines what to look for in friends. What behaviours to avoid at all costs. It validated a lot of my pain. I think it is a good balanced approach.”

“She’s not attacking women, she’s trying to get to the bones of the bitchy and weird behaviour. Shocking. It is shameful how we can be.”

*Thanks for your support blog readers!