Tag Archives: guest blog

How to Increase Productivity

This guest blog is written by Mat Veni. Mat Veni is a life hacker, not a hero. His do-it-yourself toolkit to stop procrastination can be found at You Tube.

I’m not in the right mood right now. I don’t feel well. I’m tired working all day. It would be easier to do it on the weekend. . .next month. And next month leads to the month called never-month.

Procrastination isn’t just a distraction or a kind of laziness. It’s often the choice that I’ll do it better if I do it later. Or I’ll do it later because it’s too important to do it poorly.

I have tens of arguments on why I won’t do it now. And they are all excellent. Truly are. Oh, come on, they are excuses because I don’t have a will to work on big tasks, or something that requires me to dig deeply.

I can easily say I need to check my emails, see what’s happening on social media sites, keep current on breaking news or the check out what’s new in sports. I also need to know what the weather is going to be and, of course, I need to take a break and get something to eat. And when I’m done with that, something new will have broken in the news. And here we go again. What are some of your favorite excuses?

So procrastination is about the ‘not right moment.’ But in short, the ‘right’ moment doesn’t exist.

There are plenty of ways to avoid distractions. I can switch off the TV, disconnect the Internet, and turn off my phone, but I can still find a way to switch to the ‘do it later’ tool. So I need something to remind me what is best for me, what I truly want. I don’t want to be a 100% totally unproductive guy.

Yes, I understand my brain needs boredom. It needs to relax and make decisions later. I’m ok with that. I’m also fine with some distractions that might help me increase my knowledge and react differently and maybe become even more productive tomorrow.

But it’s not all right with me if the procrastination lasts forever. I can be patient, but I want things to be done.

How to limit procrastination:

1. You must know what you want and when you want it.

Even if I don’t like to set goals, I need to define what it is I want and the timeframe in which I want it. Without a clear destination and deadline, I will never take the minor steps toward accomplishment.

2. Know what motivates you.

I need something that internally drives me. Otherwise, I soon realize I will get nowhere.
I use simple reminders of my motivation:
– Colored stickers. Red is passion. Blue is calm. Green is productivity. Yellow is happiness.
– Quotes. They are simple and quick to read and powerful enough to remind me of where I want to go.
– Accountability partner. It’s a great method to share your problems with someone else who shares a similar goal. You can remind each other of your motivation and encourage each other to continue on the journey even when you want to procrastinate.

3. You need to be organized and record your journey.

I prefer to keep an old fashioned notebook with me to list each step I’ve taken towards achieving my goals. There are also tons of free apps you can download onto your smart phone to help track your journey. I’ve used both, but I prefer the physicality of holding a book in my hands.

How do you ‘fight’ against the never ending battle with procrastination?

Finding Your Place in Work and Life

This week author and philosopher Mary Clark writes about her journey to find her niche in writing and life:

Mary Clark

In the 20th Century, we had two very influential women philosophers, and controversial as well: Hannah Arendt and Ayn Rand. Then there were the feminist writers and social scientists: Joan Tronto, Margaret Urban Walker, but the friendship I had with an elderly Bohemian male, PJ, played a pivotal role in my life and my profession. Tally: An Intuitive Life is the story of that friendship and shared occupation.

In my late 20s, after graduating with a degree in psychology and then publishing a community-arts newsletter, I started work at a poetry program in New York City. These occupational adventures were connected, intuitively, although I was not aware of it then. I was interested in human behavior: why did people do what they did? In my writing, I peeled away conscious and unconscious layers and contemplated the nuances of my motivations, thinking, and emotions. Studying psychology, the patterns became more comprehensible, along with being exposed to the labels and varied interpretations. It all came to a dead end for me. Academic education failed to address the fundamental issues of life. What I didn’t know was that I was interested not in human behavior, but in human nature and all the great philosophical questions.

Yes, I read Nietzsche and Kierkegaard while still in college. I studied Hegel, Kant, Goethe, and others. After college, intuitively, I began to read on my own: novels by Balzac, Colette, Gide, Camus, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Gorky, Lermontov, the diaries of Anais Nin, the Village Voice, Susan Sontag, and Gore Vidal. The Existentialists held my attention for some time. Then there was art: Bunuel’s films, Bejart’s dance group, and Judy Chicago’s paintings. There were rock groups that dared to explore the borders as well. Here I found the beating hearts of real people, in real situations, facing the terror and joy, boredom and excitement, of living.

I was on a quest for wisdom about the levels of life: physical, mental, social, and spiritual. Still following an intuitive directive, I read (re-read) the Bible, the Koran, the Bhavagadvita, and Idries Shah’s The Way of the Sufi, among other religious and spiritual books. Who didn’t read Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet? Very little spoke to me. Some are great cultural tales; others are ethical guides, or both. Some of the poetry, though, fastened to me neurologically. In fact, all the great poems I’ve read have done this, although I can’t quote them. No, it’s more a matter of influencing my intuition.

It was difficult for me, as a woman and outside academia, to find intellectual companions. I was searching for a way to reach out to people who were also interested in philosophy, psychology, nature including human nature, and literature. So I began an alternative community publication featuring articles, cartoons, poems, and short stories on books, music, film, dance, and environmental issues. There was another side: the paper covered local issues as well, usually the positive, such as a new affordable senior residence. That community-mindedness was a natural part of my interest in the world and the ways human beings treat one another. Unfortunately, it was not a money-maker!

I moved to New York’s West Side and eventually came to the poetry program at St. Clement’s Church. Through its director, I met PJ. Everything I had done was connected by an intuitive thread. I moved from friendship with PJ, to care giving, and back to friendship, and then to more. In my blog post, Occupational Integrity: a Life Profile, I show how PJ traced the intuitive thread in his own life.

PJ

If you enjoyed this guest blog post from Mary Clark, please pick up Tally: An Intuitive Life published by All Things That Matter Press.


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Steps to Self-Publishing

Although I have previously written about the myths of self-publishing and have chosen to be published traditionally after two self-published novels, sometimes an author feels self-publishing is the right venue to meet their book’s needs.

Nikolas Baron from Grammarly wrote a guest blog about the steps to self-publishing.

Here’s what Nikolas has to say:

Last year, the number of “indie” books — books published by independent authors rather than by major publishing houses — rose by 43%, a slowdown from the previous several years of triple-digit increases. While print sales remain steady, more and more writers and readers are turning to e-books as a preferred format. E-books retain a poor reputation with some for their perceived shortcomings in quality and editing, but a professionally-edited e-book has a good chance of reaching higher sales goals and reaching more readers than the same book produced traditionally. With more and more readers turning to e-readers and e-books for convenience and lower prices, the market is wide open to the new author seeking to gain a foothold in the publishing world. Self-publishing can be a viable option for the author who is willing to work hard at the formatting, production, and marketing stages, as well as the writing.

The first step in self-publishing is, of course, to write the book, but having accomplished the writing of the book, the writer should take care not to overlook the important tasks of editing and proofreading. The first draft of a book is nearly never publishable. Using an online spelling and grammar check is the last step before presenting the draft to an editor. Anyone can self-publish, but success depends on how professionally the process is handled. No book publisher would accept a manuscript from an author, no matter how seasoned, and immediately publish it, without input from a professional editor. Editing is a necessary part of the process, as is hiring a professional graphic designer to create a cover design which will not only capture the potential reader’s attention but will also translate well into thumbnails and various screen sizes.

Before the actual publishing process can begin, it is necessary to make some decisions. Will the book be published strictly as an e-book, or will Print-on-Demand (POD) be made available? If an e-book format is chosen, which platform will be used to distribute the book? Amazon’s Kindle? Another e-book format like Smashwords? Each has their unique pros and cons, and the writer must consider their personal publishing goals and weigh the available options.

Next, it’s necessary to gather the cover information. This includes the back cover blurb – a summary of the book designed to “hook” the reader into buying, and any endorsements the author can gather. Endorsements need to be glowing reviews from established authors or others in the field. It will be necessary to ask for pre-screenings of the book in order to gather quotable reviews to include in the cover material. The text will need to be included in the overall cover and first pages design and formatting, so it’s important to get these reviews and material gathered early in the process.

Before the publication process can begin, it is necessary to acquire an ISBN number. The ISBN can be purchased singly, but experienced indie authors recommend buying a “set” of ISBN numbers. The price per number is far more attractive, and the extra numbers can be used later, assigned to future books, or used to identify the various formats of the current book. One ISBN, for example, can be used for the e-book version, while another can be assigned to the print book. Separate ISBNs are necessary for hardcover and paperback versions as well.

Once a cover image has been designed, the book thoroughly edited, cover text and blurbs created, endorsements sought and received, and an ISBN acquired, it’s time to format the book for publication. The format of the book depends on whether it will be produced as an e-book or print, and formatting rules shift slightly from company to company. It’s important to study carefully the guidelines of the book production company chosen. For example, Amazon’s Kindle publishing software allows the writer to upload the book in a Word or PDF format and retains the formatting. Other platforms may have different formatting requirements. E-publishing is a time-intensive process, but the final product is the author’s alone.


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Guest Blog from Author Maria Savva

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This week I’ve invited Maria Savva to discuss her latest book, Delusion and Dreams, and what she is working on next.

Maria

Maria Savva lives and works in London. She studied Law at Middlesex University and The College of Law. She is a lawyer, although not currently practising law. She writes novels and short stories in different genres, including drama, psychological thriller, and family saga. Many of her books and stories are inspired by her years working as a lawyer, although she has not written a courtroom drama to date. Her most recent novel is Haunted, a crime fiction/psychological thriller.

Delusion and Dreams are twelve stories of betrayal, greed, revenge, deception, dreams, and courage about struggling to find our way and discovering what we see is not necessarily all there is. This short story collection takes you into the grey area, because the world is never just black and white. One person’s delusion is another person’s dream.

Angela: Thank you for stopping by on your blog tour. You are an accomplished author of novels and short stories. Delusion and Dreams is a short story collection. What are you working on next?

Maria: At the moment, I am editing another collection of short stories. I wrote the short stories after finishing work on Delusion and Dreams.

The new collection will be called, ‘3’, and I’m planning to release it as soon as I finish editing. Editing can take a while. When I started editing Delusion and Dreams, I had thought it wouldn’t take long but it ended up taking about 2 months! Of course, I do have to fit my writing around a full time job, so that’s why it always takes a bit longer than planned.

The stories in ‘3’ are called, ‘What The Girl Heard’, ‘Never To Be Told’, and ‘The Bride’. They are all a bit otherworldly, so they tie in together in that sense. But really I didn’t set out with any theme in mind for the stories. I’m very pleased with the stories and they embrace the darker side of my writing which seems to be very prominent at the moment.

Angela: Congratulations and good luck with both Delusion and Dreams and your upcoming collection 3.

If you would like a chance to win a FREE signed paperback or e-book copy of Delusion and Dreams or e-books from other favorite authors Darcia Helle, Michael Radcliffe, Wendy Laharnar, and Helle Gade, you can enter the raffle here: a Rafflecopter giveaway.

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Can’t wait to see if you win? Purchase a copy now: Amazon.com or Amazon.com UK.

Connect with Maria on her website or Twitter or Facebook or visit her Blog.