Don’t Diet, Just Focus on Nutrition

Focus on NutritionThis is month two of my 12 month new year health challenge. Last month was all about improving my sleep as the foundation of health and wellness. This month is all about diet and nutrition. I have already made many great strides in this area because improved nutrition also helps with sleep but I can focus even more on good nutrition now that the habits for good sleep have been established.

As I mentioned in my initial challenge post I put my health on the back burner when I experienced several personal upheavals and challenges. My diet and fitness suffered and I gained a large amount of weight that I hope to lose. I am not going on a diet though and starting to hit the gym every day.  I won’t be counting calories, instead I will focus on eating the most nutritious foods and superfoods I possibly can and getting lots of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. In short I will not worry at all about how much I am eating but what I am eating. When you load up on nutrient dense foods and healthy fats your body has all it needs and cravings and overeating don’t happen.

So what changes are on the menu? Lots! Lots of healthy fats, high qaulity protein, fewer carbs – That in a nutshell is my plan.

Mushroom coffee – My old coffee made an exit last month when I started looking for something with less caffeine. I started drinking Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Coffee with Cordyceps & Chaga. I love it and it is super good for you. It is full of powerful antioxidants! Cordyceps helps with immune function, it improves stamina, detoxes your liver, and has anti-aging effects. Chaga contains structural polysaccharides which provide energy, improved cardiovascular health, and healthy blood sugar levels.

Collagen Peptides – My mushroom coffee and also my afternoon tea gets a boost with the addition of collagen. It helps with a healthy metabolism, strong joints, building muscle, and also better looking skin, hair, and nails.

MCT Oil – This is another add on for bulletproof tea/coffee and a great source of healthy fats. The medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are burned by the body for energy, or ‘fuel’, instead of being stored as fat. It can help you lose weight and important to me is the fact that it is great for people who have a hard time digesting fats.

Dandy – I recently bought some of this herbal beverage with dandelion to try with my coffee and tea. It is highly recommended and I love dandelion tea already. Made from a blend of roasted barley, rye, chicory root and dandelion root.

Laird Superfood Creamer – Made with coconut milk, coconut oil, and mineral rich marine algae. I love it!

No Fast Food! – This is hard limit for me. My only two faster food options will be Chipotle (and only the salad bowl) and Bibibop.

Hydration- Between meals I will drink spring water and lots of it. Also bone broth will make a regular appearance. I will have bulletproof coffee in the morning and bulletproof tea in the afternoon. A few times a week I will also have coconut water or Kombucha. I am cutting out all alcohol except for special occasions, like date night.

Nuts – I have added a handful of nuts (almonds, pecans, and pepitas) to my morning and afternoon meals. They fill me up and they are loaded with healthy fats.

Reduced sugar at all times but especially in the morning – I will not be starting my day with sugars, even natural sugars such as fruit. This seems to help me get my metabolism started in the most efficient way.

Supplements – Our food is not nearly as nutritious as it once was because our soil has been depleted so greatly. To make up for missing or inadequate nutrients, vitamins, and minerals I will be taking the following supplements. A whole foods source is always preferred!

Nature’s Plus Source of Life Gold Liquid

MegaFoods Turmeric Strength, Balanced B Complex, and Blood Builder

NingXia Red

Liquid Ionic Magnesium

Master Formula

I have been gradually implementing these dietary changes over the past four weeks and not only do I feel incredible, I had to retire my two pairs of jeans I usually wear because they got too big! I am also seeing tremendous results in my skin and hair. I swear I look ten years younger and my hair is growing really fast. I am very confident that this will be a fantastic years for my health goals.

New coffee addition…MCT oil. #coconutoil #healthyfats #coffee @sweetsweat #SRfam

A photo posted by Tiffany Washko (@tiffanywashko) on Jan 23, 2017 at 4:50am PST

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7 Essentials for Your Book Launch

7 essentials for your book launch PinterestCongratulations, it’s a book! You accomplished something rare and impressive just by completing your masterpiece, not to mention surviving blood-boiling revisions and the agony of the publishing process. Now, the book launch date has been set and-surprise!-you have more work to do!

Orchestrating a book launch sounds daunting, but people need your book. Take a long slow breath and relax into the creative process of promoting your release. While there is no one-size-fits-all promotion plan, there are certain essential tasks that both traditionally published authors and independent authors should do to ensure a fulfilling book launch.

How to Prepare for Your Book Launch in 7 Steps

Following, are a few basics to get you started.

Book Launch Step #1: Ready Your Website

Your author website is the online version of your professional office or storefront. It could also be your catalog, your bulletin board, or your yearbook. It should not be a cobweb-covered single page you set up years ago and haven’t touched since.

Unless you’re an avid blogger, the author website won’t be how readers discover you. Instead, it’s where they will come to learn more about you. Your web address should be the simplest form of your author name as possible and should be the link you share more than any other.

Before you create (or update) your author website, look at the websites of a few of the top authors in your genre. Decide what you like about them. Notice some of the elements the websites have in common. Choose a theme (the layout and look of a website) that reflects your brand.

Book Launch Step #2: Ready Your Social Media

While the social media landscape changes as quickly as highly-caffeinated developers can write code, the purpose and best practices of an author using social media for book promotion remain the same.

It might take setting up an account on each major social media site and experimenting to find out what works best for you and where your readers will connect with you. The important thing is that you maintain a consistent, professional presence and, of course, that you choose a platform you enjoy.

Book Launch Step #3: Build Your Media Connections

Many radio and television programs feature authors, as do newspapers and magazines. Often local media outlets are more accessible to new authors.

Build your dream team by creating a signup form and promoting it online. The promise of an early review copy of your book might be all it takes to get book lovers and bloggers to join your team.

If you like the sound of your own voice, consider starting a podcast and interviewing others in the field related to your book.

Book Launch Step #4: Perfect Your Product’s Appearance

If you’re traditionally published, your publisher should ensure your book has been professionally edited and formatted and has an eye-catching, genre-appropriate cover. If you’re independent, it’s up to you.

If you’re signed to a traditional publisher, they might write compelling copy for your book. They might not. If you are an indie author, you will have to write it yourself. Either way, take the time to perfect your book description.

Also, consider writing a reader’s guide or book club questions to include in the back of your book.

Book Launch Step #5: Create Your Media Kit

A media kit (also called a press kit) can be as simple as a document file containing your author bio, professional photo, book release information, book cover image, book description, sample Q&A, book excerpt, and endorsements.

You might not have all of the information available yet, but go ahead and start the document so you can add to it as you go.

Book Launch Step #6: Find Potential Reviewers

Book reviewers can be found in groups on social media, on Amazon by looking at the reviews of comparable titles, and on book sites such as Goodreads. You can search online for book bloggers in your genre who accept review submissions. Create a signup form for new reviewers. Promote it on your social media and send it to your email list.

Book Launch Step #7: Find Potential Endorsers

Books endorsed by popular authors in the same genre or influencers in a related field tend to sell better than those without endorsements. Who might you ask for an endorsement? If you don’t know the potential endorsers personally, email them individually.

Need More Help With Your Book Launch?

Writers Book Launch JournalResources such as The Writer’s Book Launch Journal can guide you through the marketing and promotional tasks every author should do to ensure a successful book launch.

Filled with checklists of essential tasks, an abundance of publicity suggestions, and questions to personalize your promotions, The Writer’s Book Launch Journal will lead you on the journey to a fun and fulfilling book launch.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What is the greatest challenge you see yourself facing with your next book launch? Tell me in the comments!

The post 7 Essentials for Your Book Launch appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.

Top 10 Writing Posts of 2016

Top 10 Writing Posts of 2016Did we really just wave goodbye to 2016 and enter that nebulous hinterland in which we frequently embarrass ourselves by putting the wrong year on our checks? Yep, looks like.

2016 was something of a landmark year for me. On a personal level, my life has changed in many ways I wasn’t expecting, and I feel I leave it much richer for the lessons it’s taught me.

Some of my more specific highlights included:

And on a purely personal level, I enjoyed visiting Alaska on a cruise of the Inside Passage this August:

KM Weiland in Seattle

Leaving port from Seattle (see the Space Needle?).

If I’ve learned just one important lesson this year it’s that I need to slow down and smell the roses (or, you know, the book pages-whatever floats your boat), to rediscover life at a slightly slower pace. My goals for this year are more modest than usual: finish Dreambreaker‘s outline, start (and maybe finish) the first draft, release the Outlining Your Novel Workbook computer application(!), release the audio book version of Creating Character Arcs, and publish the Creating Character Arcs Workbook you all have been asking me for. And I’d also like to see if I can make camping in Wyoming and remodeling my basement happen. Fingers crossed.

My Top Writing Posts of 2016

But first, let’s take one last look back at the closing year with this list of my top writing posts of 2016-just in case you missed them the first time around!

1. How to Write the Perfect Plot (in 2 Easy Steps)

2. 8 Necessary Tips for How to Write Child Characters

3. How to Plot a Book: Start With the Antagonist

4. 5 Important Ways Storytelling Is Different in Books vs. Movies

5. The 4 Tweaks to Writing Truly Original Stories and Characters

6. A Surefire Way to Raise the Stakes in Your Story

7. Start Your Outline With These 4 Questions

8. One Major Pitfall of Writing Strong Characters

9. 5 Secrets of Complex Supporting Characters

10. Everything You Need to Know About Writing a 3rd-Person POV

My personal favorite post this year: 5 Reasons Writing Is Important to the World

My top new series this year:

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What was your biggest writing breakthrough in 2016? Tell me in the comments!

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Asking for Referrals for Fraidy-Cat Freelance Writers

Scared to ask for referrals? One Writer's Essential Tips. Makealivingwriting.comFor some freelance writers, it seems like asking for referrals and selling comes easy. They have a huge network of people they’ve cultivated relationships with. Their network hooks them up with new clients. And it’s easy for the same freelance writers to talk about their business in any situation, and get referrals.

That’s what successful freelance writers do. And I wasn’t sure I was cut out to be one of them if asking for referrals was part of the gig.

If you’re afraid to ask for referrals, you’ve probably heard that fraidy-cat freelance writer voice inside your head. You know, the one trying to convince you that:

  • People will think you’re desperate
  • You’re running some kind of scam
  • You can’t possibly provide a service valuable enough to help in any meaningful way

That cat needs to go. It took me a long time to figure this out. But when I finally did, I got a response in 10 minutes, a potential project, and scored another referral for more work. Here’s how I did it:

Is fear of asking for referrals holding you back?

The roots of my aversion to sales and asking for referrals go back to a time when I was old enough to love camping, but not old enough to work or drive. To support my camping habit, I had to walk from house to house with a tattered cookie-order sheet, knocking on door after door. The goal: get people to sign up for boxes of Girl Scout cookies. I hated every minute of it. But for our group to go on two camping trips a year, we each had to make our cookie quota, so I did it.

Marching orders from the Den Mother

Decades later, I joined Den 2x. I wanted to make more money from freelancing to support my modern-version of camping: international travel. My new Den Mother Carol Tice challenged me to map out a plan to grow my freelance business, and I did almost everything she told me to. Like put together my website, update my LinkedIn profile, set up Twitter, and create a marketing plan. I even suggested projects to current clients and asked for testimonials.

I was on board with everything, except one thing…asking for referrals. I was afraid. I didn’t think it would work. I wasn’t sure what to say. In my head, asking referrals felt too much like begging for crumbs and cookie orders.

When a client purrs, ask for a referral

After months of freaking out about asking for referrals and avoiding it, something happened. Two people at the same company sent me emails with positive feedback about a piece I wrote. A loud voice inside my head said, “You really should ask for a referral.”

So I did what any fraidy-cat-freelance writer would do about asking for referrals. I agonized over a big, long, rambling, ridiculous request, feeling like a little kid in a green uniform going door to door.

Essentials of asking for referrals

Luckily my inner editor took over. And I cut the message down to the essentials like this:

Ways to reach out

Start your email with a brief message about why you’re reaching out. It doesn’t have to be long. Here are some ways to get that ask-for-a-referral email started:

  • Say thanks. In this case, I was responding to a prospect who emailed to compliment me on a piece I wrote. So it was easy to respond, and say “thanks.”

    Example: Hi John, Thanks for the email about my recent blog post. It was an interesting one to research and write for my manufacturing client.

  • Catch up. You can also ask for referrals by reaching out to people in your network. For example, congratulate an editor for making a move to a new publication. Check in with a former co-worker climbing the corporate ladder. Or email a former colleague to catch up.

    Example: Hi Brenda, How’s it going? I noticed you just made the move to senior editor at the magazine. Congrats.

  • Share information. Come across an article, report, or news story that might be helpful to someone in your network? Share it. Send an email and tell your contact you thought they might find the information helpful.

    Example: Hi Lisa, How are you? I just came across this article on new strategies in content marketing. Thought you might find this helpful to get some ideas for your next campaign.

Ask a question

Think about what it’s like when you haven’t seen an old friend for a long time. You have a million questions, right? How are the kids? How’s work? What about that trip you took to Israel? Asking a question is a great way to reconnect with your contacts and let them know you’re thinking of them.

The more specific, the better.  People are genuinely blown away when you remember little details about their life/career. It’s why some sales people practically keep a little black book on everybody they’ve ever met.

  • Example:How’s it going since you made the move from newspapers to PR in Chicago?
  • Example: I’d love to know the back story to the Super Bowl commercial you helped produce. Can we catch up?

Provide a brief update on your freelance writing business

If you’re reaching out to a relatively new contact, give them a brief reminder about how you met. For other people in your network, you might just give them a brief update about your business, or the elevator-speech version of what you do as a freelance writer.

  • Example:I just landed a new blogging client writing about manufacturing and technology.
  • Example: I’ve been writing about grant funding for non-profits for about a year.

Ask for a referral

This is where a lot of writers start acting like they’re high on catnip. You don’t need to ask your contact, “Do you have any work?” It just comes across as looking a little desperate, even if you’re not. So you can go ahead and shut down those looping thoughts about your career imploding by asking for a referral. Just ask your contact a simple question:

Do you know anyone who needs a freelance writer?”

Ask if they have any colleagues who could use a healthcare writer, B2B marketing writer, or whatever kind of writer you are. It’s really that simple. 

Does asking for referrals really work?

I reached the tipping point where I had to find out. I finished the email to my contact and clicked send. Instantly, I felt a twist in my gut, and even vented to my Den 2x mastermind group about how much I hated asking for referrals. asking for referrals

While I was freaking out about finally asking for a referral, I went to make myself a cup of stress-buster tea. And before I even got back to my computer, I had a reply in my inbox. The marketing director had someone she wanted to refer me to, and she had a bigger project coming up she thought I’d be great for. Translation: asking for referrals works.

Strategies to improve results when you ask for referrals

I’d built asking for referrals into a big, huge deal, all for nothing. Was it really so hard? No. I sheepishly confessed to the Den 2x mastermind group that my referral request went better than expected. It’s really not a big deal to ask for referrals, if you understand the essentials and follow a few basic rules like:

  • Take advantage of good timing. Having several people praising me meant I was top of mind, making a positive result more likely.
  • Include a short list of other services. Doing this effectively helped me upsell my current client. Here’s what I wrote: Besides blogging, I also write case studies, newsletter articles, white papers, brochure copy, website pages, and press releases.
  • Keep the message short and the tone confident. I’m sure they had no idea I was nervous.

Ask for referrals to get more clients

Asking for referrals is now easy for me. I understand that it’s a win-win for everyone. I get more work from new clients that are similar to a client that’s already a good fit for me. And my client gets to be the hero who refers an excellent writer to a colleague. Along with traditional marketing efforts to find more clients, I regularly look for opportunities to ask for referrals, because I know it works. As a bonus, I can even buy Girl Scout cookies (Thin Mint are my favorite) from the kids who go door to door while I plan my next trip, paid for by my newest clients.

Karen Smock is a freelance B2B marketing writer for manufacturing and technology clients. She also likes Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies, world travel, and spending time with her family.

Has asking for referrals worked for you? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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