Inspiration: Living a Creative Life…

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Who hasn’t been scared to write, paint or create for fear of failing and messing up? Who hasn’t stopped before we have even begun? It’s take enormous courage to create – whether it is a cup cake, a new pair of curtains for our home or a book. We’re exposing a part of who we are by what we choose to create. So, what would you love to create and why aren’t you creating it right now?

5 Common Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Writing is easy. All you have to do is to cross out the wrong words. – Mark Twain

No matter whether you are writing a novel, or you are a blogger or a freelance content writer, writing mistakes seem to sneak up on you and appear unexpectedly, ruining your sentences and the meaning of your text. Even the best of the best are struggling to find their voice, while faced with using too many words (even though the topic is quite simple), trying to overcome a writer’s block or to write in the late night hours, tired and unfocused.

So, what are the most common mistakes bloggers trip onto and how to avoid them?

Confusing Similar Words

There are some rather similar words in English language that, when written in hurry, can be confused with each other. Some of the most common grammar mistakes writers make, in this regard, are confusing ‘it’s’ and ‘its’, ‘there’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’ and ‘your’ and ‘you’re’.

The best way to avoid such mistakes, is of course by mastering English grammar, perfectly. In real life, though, the solution is to think carefully, read the sentences several times before publishing and have a clear distinction between these words in your head. All you need to know that the words finishing with …‘re (are) …‘s (is) and …‘m (am) are actually nouns combined with verbs.

Making Incomplete Sentences

Too long sentences are bad news, at least that what it says in many of the ‘blogging manuals’. Many bloggers try to avoid that by unnaturally dividing their sentences in a way that leaves out a subject or a verb (e.g. I want to buy new shoes. Because the one I have are ugly.). So, instead of creating two weird sentences join them together (I want to buy new shoes, because the ones I have are ugly) or even delete some words (I want to buy new shoes. The ones I have are ugly.).

Run-on Sentences

Run-ons are among the most common grammar mistakes made by writers around the globe. It is a mistake quite the opposite of the previous one, because it unnaturally connects more independent sentences into one (e.g. I love vacations with my friends and this year we will go to Paris together, and I cannot wait for the adventure to start.). Correct this error by dividing the sentence into clauses with a comma and conjunction or with punctuation (I love vacations with my friends. This year we will go to Paris together. I cannot wait for the adventure to start.).

Difference between Speech and Writing

Sometimes, in order to appeal to audience and connect to readers, bloggers tend to use similar language they use when talking with their friends in a casual way. Though, this might be a win for some blogs, most of them seek credibility and trust from their readers, so there is a need for a bit more formal approach. That means that a sentence such as “You gotta stay ‘till you get the job done” will have to be replaced “You have to stay until you get the job done”.

Neglecting the Visual Elements

Sure, the text is the most important thing on your blog, but if you do not follow up with an appropriate image, it will push away the readers to some more interesting post. Visual elements in a blog post are crucial regardless of the niche of the blog. Some might consider them just a distraction for fashion and entertainment blogs, but they are also essential for financial themes.

Nothing describes a business topic as well as money pictures, as they are hitting the very essence of the text. Images serve not only to catch attention, but also to maintain it and divide a post into more coherent and simple paragraphs, to make it easier to read. Avoid this mistake by buying pictures, downloading free stock images or even shooting your own photographs to get more credibility.

As you see, Mark Twain was right – writing is easy, but only if you work hard. Once you manage some basics, improve your grammar, and create a habit of writing well, everything will be much easier.

Author BIO:

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Sophia Smith is a freelance writer and graphic designer from Brisbane, Australia with huge interest in photography and social media. She writes mostly in beauty and lifestyle related topics, mainly through blogs and articles. Sophia is regular contributor at High Style Life.

Find her on: Twitter Google +

Read a book! Replenish your soul for a little while

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Keep on reading…

Image: http://kaizokuusagi.deviantart.com/art/Relaxing-with-a-book-357130441

Do you remember the last book you’ve read? Did it have an impact on you or not? Reading gives the brain a whole different type of workout. It stimulates your intellect and keeps it active and engaged. Unlike watching TV, reading a book appeals to your imagination, vision, perception, and language. It relaxes the mind and transports it into a whole different world; a world of bliss where you decide how things look like. Replenish your soul and choose a genre that you truly like. It will bring you back to life, and it will make you see things a lot clearer.

Reading books reduces stress levels

We all have different reasons that cause us stress, whether we’re talking about work, relationships or any other daily endeavors. Losing yourself into a lovely story will transport you into a different world, thus making you forget all problems. Book reading allows us to create an ideal world; free of any type of personal stress and filled with positive emotions and happiness.

Books are the perfect exercise for your brain

Just like the body, the brain also needs exercises and stimulation to stay healthy and nourished. Reading has an excellent effect on the brain, demanding undivided attention and rationality. According to some studies, mental stimulation may decrease Alzheimer and Dementia risk. Experts claim that it’s vital to keep the brain active as we age. Apparently, reading books can help the brain preserve its sanity; it stirs our imagination, thus constantly putting our cells to work.

Vocabulary increase

Reading is fundamental in both our personal and professional life. It makes us smarter, wiser and more knowledgeable. In expends our cultural horizons, opening doors to imaginary worlds we never thought existed. If you want to learn a new language, the easiest way to do it is to start reading foreign books. Even though it may be difficult at first, soon enough you’ll learn words and phrases you never knew before.

Improved knowledge

All you read increases your cultural background and diversifies your vocabulary, making you more responsive and receptive to new ideas and different perspectives. You never know when what you read can be useful or helpful in your daily life. The more information you gather, the better prepared you become to face any discussion challenge.

Concentration

We live in a world where we’re compelled to pay attention to all sorts of things at the same time. Most people are used to joggling between work and their personal endeavors. But very few are successful without going crazy. All these multi-tasks decreases productivity and cause us stress. To loosen up, grab a book and immerse into a different world for just a few minutes. Soak it in, and let the peace, serenity and sheer tranquility of a plot swipe you off your feet.

Writing skills

One’s writing skills are often correlated with their vocabulary expansion. It’s not enough to express your ideas verbally as sometimes it is necessary to write them down as well. An author’s writing style can be the perfect inspiration when you have something to put on paper. Reading books gives you a personal perspective, and it encourages you to grab a pen and craft your own ideas.

Tranquility

If you haven’t read a book in a while, now it would be a great idea to start again. However, you might want to put aside your iPad or e-reader. Go back to the basics, and opt for a paper book. Nothing can be compared to that relaxing feeling of reading a paper book; the simple habit of turning the pages is soothing. It makes you curious to know more, and at the same time is it instills a deep feeling of tranquility and serenity.

Analytical thinking skills

Did it ever happen to you to read the most thrilling mystery novel, and find the solution before the end of the book? If so, it means that you paid enough attention and that you put your analytical skills to the test to solve the mystery. A bookworm knows the difference between well written and a poorly written book. Which type are you?

There’s genre for everyone. Choose the one that mostly appeals to you and your imagination. The world is filled with great books and fascinating writers; from classical literature, fashion magazines, poetry and romance novels to self-help guides and biographies, there has to be something to make you curious and persuade you to keep reading and turning the pages until the end.

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

Guest Post: 9 Tips for Building a Strong Author Platform

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Whether you are publishing a book through traditional means or by self-publishing, the main driving factor towards the success of your book will be your existing author platform. An author platform is a representation to the public of whom you are and why they should care. This representation consists of your reputation in all forms of media and a local physical presence. Some authors, such as actors, have existing platforms which makes their author platforms strong almost overnight. It can take years for the rest of us to build an author platform. There are some tips to boost the validity and reduce the construction time for your platform.

1. Write a good book. No amount of self-promotion or elbow rubbing will cover up bad writing. You must be honest with yourself in regard to the quality of your writing. Keep tweaking and editing your book until it has received praise from multiple objective sources.

2. Learn from other authors. Do a web search for the top selling authors in your genre and see what elements of their author platforms you might be able to incorporate into yours. This could include web design, social media tactics, groups they belong to, and subjects on which they have lectured. Don’t steal; just emulate.

3. Build a website. Go ahead and get this step out of the way early. Your website is the basis for which all your online communication will be organized. Creating a website is easy with modern tools and can be accomplished in a day or two. The site does not need to be fancy but it does need to conform to web usability best practices so do some research in that area. Your site visitors don’t care that you love cows and won’t appreciate being distracted by your cow pattern background.

One way where you can get a little creative is in relation to your genre. If you are a sci-fi writer then going with a more modern feel and incorporating some standard sci-fi design elements into your logo might be a good idea but keep it simple. Don’t tile flying saucers all over the background or use an unusual font just because it has a science fiction look.

Definitely make sure to have a landing page on your site where visitors can purchase your book. You can either sell through your own ecommerce setup, which is not as difficult as you might think, or just include a link to Amazon. Just be sure that this page is focused solely on the sale of your book. Do some research on what constitutes an effective sales page and go with what works. This page is where you will direct most of your paid advertising efforts.

4. Get busy on social media. If you are intelligent and productive enough to be a writer then you are probably above being sucked in to the endless drivel on social media. With the exception of meaningful communication with close friends and family, social media has the potential to become a major time waster. Unfortunately, you will either have to make time yourself or hire a personal assistant to be consistently active on social platforms. Social media is an effective and low cost way to reach a lot of potential fans.

Interact with users as yourself and not just as your author persona. Show some highlights from your personal life such as pictures from family get-togethers or parties. Post some pictures of your pet or the last vacation you took. People love this stuff. Aspiring writers will enjoy seeing a visual depiction of your writing process and daily routine.

Half of the posts on your website and on social media should be from the perspective of a fan. This, of course, will be a great way for other fans of the genre to relate. Again returning to sci-fi as the example, post some of your favorite books or some photos of a sci-fi convention you recently attended. Get into conversations with fans about why you think a well-known sci-fi writer is one of the best. Most people will never write a book and will not be able to fully relate to you as an author so give them the chance to relate to you as a fellow fan.

Remember the five tenants of social media. They are to inform, educate, inspire, entertain and promote. Inform by posting a notice that there will be a showing of Star Wars at the retro movie theatre this weekend. Educate by posting writing tips for science fiction writers. Inspire by posting a story of perseverance and triumph pertaining to you or an author you know. Entertain by posting that video of cats dressed up as Star Wars characters. These four content types should comprise 80 percent of your posts. The remaining 20 percent should be various forms of self-promotion. Let fans know that your book is now available for a reduced price or that you will be at a local bookstore for signings.

5. Build an email list. Put an offer page on your social media accounts and your website. Offer people a free gift in exchange for an email. This could be an eBook that relates to your book or genre, a discount, or a free PDF of your first book that nobody bought. Then at least once a month send a mix of useful and promotional material to these email addresses. This email list will be beneficial when you write your next book.

6. Always be closing the deal. Regularly present to fans snippets from your book, interviews you have done, coupons, engaging contests or any type of content that will build hype and hopefully result in more sales. Run ads that go to your website sales page, Amazon sales page or to an email sign-up form. True for any form of publishing but especially so with self-publishing, you will have to learn how to be somewhat of a P.T. Barnum type or, and I hate to say it, a car salesman. Find the online equivalents of those people that stand on the street and spin signs.

7. Become an influencer in your genre. This is especially true if you are a non-fiction writer. If you are a writer of fiction then the likely best course for achieving influencer status would be helping other writers in your genre to become better writers. Think of yourself as a mentor. There were probably times when you were writing your book that you wished someone would reach out a helping hand. Remember that feeling and offer to genuinely help other aspiring authors.

Some offline actions you can take to increase your standing as an influencer would be lectures, teaching a course, volunteering and giving interviews. Some online tactics might be writing for other sites in your genre, posting insightful comments on the blogs of other popular authors, and being helpful in communities like forums and Q&A sites.

8. Be a friend to authors. It is important to not only establish your platform with readers but also with fellow writers. Just as with every other industry, authors benefit immensely from a vast network of connections in the business. You never know where a short chat at a party or convention might lead. If you help spread the word about the work of others they should return the favor. Link to other authors’ sites and social profiles and most of the time you won’t even have to ask for a reciprocal link. Don’t think of it as competition. Books are cheap and readers love to read. There is plenty of room on fans’ bookshelves for everybody’s book.

9. Generate word of mouth buzz. In the past I was of the opinion that free giveaways should be limited. Now I’m not so sure. There are many varying opinions in this area. I do know that for an unknown self-published author, achieving some traction can be difficult in such a crowded market. Maybe your first book should be free on a semi-permanent basis. Give it away like candy. If the book is good and you are diligent about requesting reviews in exchange for a free copy, it will hopefully only be a matter of time before the best form of advertising, otherwise known as word of mouth, has your book towards the top of the Kindle bestseller list. At this point you may be able to start charging 99 cents to cover your production cost but I would not be concerned with profit from your first book. Of course, Amazon has limits on the duration of free promotional periods but offer the book for free wherever and whenever you can. Only concern yourself with the construction of a solid author platform. Then your second and third books can start making you some real money.

You also may want to consider selling some branded products. These could be t-shirts, coffee mugs, bookmarks, pens or anything cheap that people might carry around where others will see. Set-up a simple ecommerce store on your site and connect the store to your social media profiles. You probably won’t sell much at first but the process is not difficult so it can’t hurt.

As with a skyscraper, invest early in a strong platform and your writing career will stand the test of time.

James A. Rose is a writer for InstantPublisher.com, a self-publishing company that has been helping authors bring their visions to life for the past 15 years. James has worked in the publishing industry since 2010 and during that time he has seen pretty much every problem that authors encounter during the self-publishing process. It is James’ goal to utilize his experience at Instant Publisher to help budding authors avoid common mistakes and self-publish the best book possible.

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Thanks for your practical and fantastic advice James. Please drop by again with more advice when you can. Thank you.

Facebook.com/InstantPublisher

Twitter.com/instntpublisher

Alana says – If you are someone with sound advice and writing experience consider writing an article for this blog. Simply forward me an email today (alanamunroauthor@gmail.com) with your creative ideas and get your supportive words out there! For your kind effort, I’m happy to share your blog and/or your social media links with my followers as I know how vital exposure is. I only ask that you share your unique article from my blog on your own social media too – double whammy exposure.🙂

Free Book: You Don’t Scare Me, I Have Kids!

Hi folks, today I am delighted to share with you my brand new book cover. I do hope you enjoy this sneaky peak of my up-coming book release.

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Free Book Alert!

Would you like to review this awesome new book on Amazon in exchange for receiving a free copy?

All you have to do to receive your free e-book (you will get the book in advance to it being officially released) is send me a quick email requesting to review my new book. I’ll ‘gift’ a book to you to keep as soon as it is ready. Thanks for your support! Please send an email to alanamunroauthor@gmail.com and I’ll add you to my list.

Book Blurb:

Parenting – it’s hard work. The most challenging job you’ll ever do.

In this candid, often comical book, Alana Munro steers us along the precarious path of parenting. From the whimsical, life-altering decision to reproduce a small human-being to the awkwardness of pregnancy. From the indignity of child-birth to the every-day reality of coping with a part indignant, part lovable rug rat – she openly reveals what it’s really like to parent in the modern world.

Munro has four kids (yes, you read that correctly) and is experienced (or is that delirious?) with a plethora of personal history. If you’re looking for comradeship among the chaos of raising small people, this book is laden with hilarious real life stories of life with a young children and straight-talking, down to earth insights to pull you through the what-the-hell-was-I-thinking-days. Munro doesn’t hold back at her frustrations when dealing with other adults since having children and highlights an astonishing universe where other parents, non-parents and ‘perfect’ parents say ridiculous things, often leaving us wearier and more stressed out than our sassy toddler.

Munro’s painfully honest account of parenthood could spell the end of vague baby manuals preaching to us how manageable child-rearing can be. This book goes beyond the stuffy mechanics and sober, detached advice, and instead digs deeper into the messy, woozy, exhausting and often side-splitting daily realities. Munro shares intimately the truth once and for all, urging solidarity between parents and encouraging us to take it easy and laugh more. After-all, if we can’t have a giggle about the mayhem of parenting, we’d cry and drink our body weight in wine most days.

If you’ve not had kids yet, you probably won’t want to believe this delightfully honest book. If you are mental like me and you have a few kids already this book will be a liberating, comforting read. It brought me a huge amount of relief, even more relief than my usual glass of wine come the kids bed-time. I pick up this book and I know – I am not alone!’

Emma, Mum to three young kids.

Review this book for free – quickly send me an email today. Thank you!

alanamunroauthor@gmail.com

We Must Follow Our Dreams

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Are you someone who follows their dreams or are you feeling a bit stuck (we all have days, weeks and years like that) and unable to move forward?

I’ve felt a bit unsure, anxious and stuck for some time, frozen in time, but in recent months things are become clearer. The emotional fog appears to be lifting and at last I can see the options open to me, the opportunities I should jump on. I can see what’s actually important to me, what and whom makes me tick and what actually makes me feel content. All pretty important stuff to finally see clearly.

It’s too easy to stay busy, pretending what we are doing is making us happy. It’s too easy to waste our precious years hanging around people who make us feel unhappy and drained. It’s too easy to just stay put and not make changes. It’s absolutely terrifying to make changes and follow our dreams, our ambitions, our desires. But, we must. Many people will tell us we can’t, but we can. Of course we can and we must.

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A Quick and Easy Guide to Publishing your Indie Book

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It’s stressful trying to publish your book but it can be done! Image: Telegraph

Hi everyone, I’ve been a bit lost and busy lately what with a new baby (my fourth!) and trying, and trying being the best word, to publish my second book.

I published my first non-fiction book, Women Behaving Badly in 2013 and despite my ignorance and newness to the indie publishing world, I was able to get it to number #1 in a couple of Amazon categories and achieve media coverage.

And here I am again in 2016, working towards publishing my second book which will be titled, You Don’t Scare Me I Have Kids!

I thought I’d share with you my own personal pattern I seem to be working to. Why? That’s what us authors do – we help each other. If my methods work for me, they may work for you. It’s important to say, that with my first book I was all over the place and made lots of daft mistakes. I didn’t know what it meant to ‘format’ an eBook and I didn’t really understand the importance of book reviews. So learn from my silly wee mistakes and do feel free to add your top tips for getting your indie book out there. I’m sure my readers would be keen to read your methods and must-go to websites for creating your books. Here goes…

  • Write your book. This is probably the easiest part.
  • Hire a professional to proofread and edit your work. Go to sites like Freelancer or Fiverr to find people who are willing to read over you book and highlight any issues. Ideally ask them  to ensure the tense is consistent, your vocabulary is varied and clear, your grammar is perfect. Ask them to be super-picky. You don’t need a friend telling you your book is perfect. You need a person willing to be critical.
  • Format file once you are 100% happy you have a final copy that is finished. A formatter will not make corrections to your work. They will format your word file and can convert it into a mobi file (Amazon), Epub (most other online retailers), and PDF if required. A quick trick is to get a formatter to get your word file ready to submit to smashwords, once you upload to smashwords (if the word file or epub is professionally formatted) they distribute your book to a huge majority of the major retailers, saving you the headache of having to upload to them all. Be sure your formatter offers you –  a table of contents, active weblinks and a source file just in-case you need to make changes to your book at a later date.
  • Design Book Cover. Unless you are a graphic designer do not attempt a book cover. Seriously, some of the umm..home made book covers are awful and most people won’t even consider downloading a book with a terrible cover. Like it or not, customers will judge your book by the cover. It doesn’t have to cost a small fortune either. Go online and look at fiverr or other freelancing sites or ask around author forums to find new talent. Ask for a 2D Jpeg or PNG cover for Amazon and other online retailers. If you plan to get your book in paper format you’ll need to hire someone to design the front, spine and back. Ensure the file is print-ready and ask for a source file, in-case changes need to be made. Once you have your standard 2D front cover you have your first professional marketing tool.
  • Market like your life depends on it. Before you send you perfectly edited and formatted book to online stores you must take a breather. Are you really ready for this? Most authors (even authors who have healthy commercial contracts with big-name publishers) need to market their own work. So, before you hit ‘Publish’ make sure your social media platforms are all up to date and hyperlinked to your book. Ensure your Amazon and smashwords and any other author profile you have online is up to date. Allow your potential readers to ‘pre-order’ your book and during those weeks your book can be pre-ordered spend hours crafting your social networks online. Ideally, you want to start building your platform as soon as you come up with your book idea, but in reality most people don’t manage that. So, it’s vital to take the time to open up your Twitter account again, kick-start your author page on facebook and update your Linkedin profile. Another essential job during this ‘wait’ period should be ensuring you have some quality book reviews. Give out free copies of your book with the understanding that the reader will leave a fair but honest review for you.

Good luck! Please share your own journey and how you manage to get your book published.