Posted in better life, guest post, self-care, self-care practice, Self-Care Tip, self-improvement

Guest Post: 10 Effective Ways to Reduce Stress in the Modern World

By Elizabeth Shields

Had it up to here?  Got a lot on your plate, or feel at the end of your tether?  However, you choose to dress it up, express it, describe it, stress is a fact of modern life.  Fast-paced, permanently connected, 21st Century living can leave us frazzled and wrought.  The World Health Organization has called stress the “Health Epidemic of the 21st Century”.   Yet, it is not inevitable that we must accept stress as a permanent condition. There’s plenty of simple steps that turn the heat down on stress.  In this blog, we’ll journey through 10 effective ways to reduce and combat stress.  So, sit back, relax and read.

#1 Get Realistic about Resources

Stress is that feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure.  The mental assessment where we know our resources do not match the requirements of the to-do list.  A simple way to redress the lack of balance is to review that list, with our resources in mind.  Any more than 10 items on a to-do list for a given day is likely to feel overwhelming.  Accept the reality that you may need to say no if your resources don’t allow for it.   Practice the word “no”, remembering it is a complete sentence!

#2 Delegate

That to do list?  What can you delegate to help share the load a little?  Whether it’s finding ways to upskill a junior employee by delegating a creative or interesting project, hiring some home at help, or getting the kids involved in household tasks, delegating can be a great stress buster.  Try to avoid the guilt-trip mindset that says you are simply passing your stressful tasks onto someone else.  In the case of children, delegation of some tasks teaches responsibility and models healthy work-life balance for your kids.  Junior employees can learn a great deal and gain experience and hiring in some home help supports the local economy.   

#3 Remember the Rule of “Good Enough”

Some stress is caused by a sense we aren’t measuring up to expectations.  Remember how it felt to have a teacher write on our report we “must try harder”.  Stressful.  Yet, sometimes we place unrealistic expectations upon ourselves, in other words we fall foul to perfectionism.  When it comes to your own expectations, “good enough” is a stress-busting maxim. Aim for a good-enough job most of the time, and you’ll soon feel the weight of stress slipping away.

#4 Whose Judgement Counts?

Connected with the idea of self-expectation is the idea of others’ views on our performance and worth.  You’ll never please everyone in life.  No matter how hard you try, or how successful you are, there’s always a critic on the side-lines offering judgmental comments.  Decide now, once and for all, whose judgment matters to you.  It makes it a lot easier to trust your own decisions, actions and feel content with your choices.

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Posted in entrepreneur, growing business, guest post, small business, writing

Guest Post: No Matter Your Entrepreneurial Needs, This Guide Has You Covered

Photo Credit: Unsplash

By Chelsea Lamb

Starting your own business is a big, bold move! If you’re feeling a little apprehensive about taking such a leap of faith, you should know that there are plenty of resources and guides available online to help you with just about any sort of entrepreneurial task.

For example, if you need help getting your writing business started, you can check out the writer tools and resources available from Cynthia D. Griffin’s website. She even offers writing and editing services! You can also use the following resources to fill other startup needs.

You Need to Write a Business Plan

Every successful business starts out with thoughtful planning. Some entrepreneurs have made it big time without a plan, but you should know that these folks are the exception to the rule. Not only does a business plan serve as your roadmap to success, but having one can also help you out when it comes to securing startup funds for your new business.

To take the guesswork out of writing your plan, look for templates you can fill in with information. There are plenty available online and you can tailor them to your individual business needs.

You Need Help Getting Started

Make no mistake: Your time is precious when you’re an entrepreneur. So, while you can take on every single startup task solo, this may not be the best use of your time and energy. Instead, be like savvy entrepreneurs and consider hiring freelancers, or even permanent staff members.

Want to keep startup costs as low as possible? Using free sites to find qualified freelancers may be your best option. For instance, with one simple search, you can find a pro to help with data analysis services, or you can find writers, website developers, and any other type of freelancer you need. Best of all, you can find an hourly rate that fits your budget.

You could also work with an employment agency to fill your staffing needs. In a nutshell, an employment agency matches businesses and business owners with both permanent and temporary staff. Although most agencies do charge a fee for their services.

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Posted in guest post, learning about writing, tips, writing, writing advice, writing in difficult times, writing tips

Guest Post: 5 Tips to Keep Writing Through Difficult Times

Image from Pixabay

By Rachel Weatherley

“Unbroken happiness is a bore: life should have ups and downs,” notes Richard, one of the protagonists of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun. Paraphrasing Molière here, Richard is a writer working in 1960s Nigeria, frustrated by his inability to finish a manuscript during a time of major social upheaval. Faced with COVID-19 and its accompanying challenges, reading this passage reminded me that we should at least try to maintain some optimism at this time. Difficult times are an enduring feature of life, which we must embrace and adapt to the best we can.

Of course, this is no mean feat. In times of unprecedented personal and collective difficulty, turning away from the world to start writing a book can feel insular and indulgent. Even with the best intentions, adapting to new challenges, and keeping on top of day-to-day life, can distract us from the writing projects we would otherwise love to focus on. 

Preventing that temporary distraction from turning into long-term disillusionment is a task in itself—I hope the following tips can keep you engaged, focused and productive!

1. Reorganise and refresh your work space

As cafes and libraries close their doors, and I find myself staring at the same blank wall every day, Janet Jackson’s lyrics ring ever truer—you really don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. This new monotony hasn’t exactly been conducive to getting words on the page—but it did get me thinking about how I could adapt my environment to make it a more inspiring and energising workspace. 

Perhaps counterintuitively, I need a workplace with distraction. In my university room, I had a busy and colorful wall covered in all sorts of adornments: postcards, letters, photographs and posters—the more eclectic the better. This wall was the next best thing to a change of scenery: it reminded me of happier times, took me to faraway places, and often served as inspiration when I was stuck for ideas.

2. Consider work that will aid your writing 

Every writer worth their salt knows that a significant amount of research and thinking time goes into producing the shiny finished product. So if you’re suffering from a case of writer’s block, you can still make productive use of your time with the following tips:

• Scour blogs like Reddit, home to thousands of illuminating threads where people share anecdotes, experiences, feelings and opinions, ranging from the poignant to the hilarious.

• Call a friend and ask if they have any opinions or feelings about a certain subject. You could even work together and bounce ideas off each other.

• Watch documentaries and video clips that pad out the factual details and context of your work.

This will provide some respite from typing, and maybe even a spark of inspiration for the next stage of your story. Inspiration is found in the most unexpected of places—so get creative with your free time!

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Posted in blog, blog tour, guest post

Guest Post By Anna Mocikat: Are Book Trailers Useful or a Waste of Money?

Trailers have been around forever in the movie and TV industry. The big studios spend a lot of money on their creation, and even indie films have to come with trailers if they want to succeed in their niche markets. Video game studios also put a lot of effort into the production of trailers, which often show scenes exclusively shot for them.

With the rise of YouTube and social media, trailers have become even more important for the entertainment industry than they used to be in earlier decades.

So, why are book trailers still such a rare phenomenon? And why are many of them so poorly made?

Many indie authors consider the (often costly) option of a trailer for a marketing tool as a waste of money––which is understandable. A good custom-made trailer can cost $300-$500, but of course, there’s no limit on how much can be spent on them. Big publishers often hire marketing companies specialized in TV commercials and easily pay between 10k-50k to advertise the latest books of their bestselling authors.

Others argue that a trailer makes no sense for a book, because, after all, you’re supposed to want to read the book, not watch it like a movie.

I have to admit that ten years ago when book trailers were still a new phenomenon, I thought the same and was therefore surprised when my publisher asked me to have a trailer produced for my book.

However, I completely changed my mind on making trailers since then because of the success of mine.

I have come to believe that book trailers are a valid marketing tool for various reasons.

First of all, our daily life has become much more visual-oriented than ever before. More people are watching YouTube videos nowadays than reading books (sadly). To convince such an audience to give a book a chance, it’s a good move to offer them visual impulses they understand. This is only possible with a trailer. Marketing experts know that moving images are way more powerful than single images, which is why we see short clips as ads for all kinds of products in our feeds on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Secondly, if big publishers are willing to spend thousands of dollars on a single trailer for a single book, then it must be worth it. Big publishers never spend money on anything for no reason. They have stone-cold marketing experts who constantly evaluate which strategy is useful and which isn’t. So if it works for the big publishers, then it can also work for Indie and small press authors.

All that being said, I would strongly advise keeping away from making a trailer yourself if your only experience with videography is shooting little videos with your phone and posting them on Facebook.

It’s the same as with book covers. Every book marketing guru will advise you to hire a skilled cover designer instead of trying to photoshop something by yourself. Don’t. Just don’t.

It’s similar with trailers. A bad trailer is counterproductive. It quickly can turn out boring or look amateurish, which will likely scare potential readers off instead of convincing them to buy your book.

The same can be said about so-called “generic” trailers. If you do some research, you will quickly find people willing to make you a trailer for $50-$100. As so often in life, you will experience a simple truth: you get what you pay for. Your trailer will turn out dull, soulless, and/or feature footage and images everyone has seen a hundred times.

If you decide to have a trailer for your book, find someone who will put effort and creativity into it, and who is willing to create something unique for you––as unique as your book, and transporting its essence visually.

There are two kinds of trailers I would recommend:

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Posted in author, blog tour, Book Tour, ebook, empowerment, guest post, novel, self-empowerment, self-publishing, writing

Guest Post By Elfie Riverdell: The Story That Inspired Me To Self-Publish

I find it hard to pinpoint exactly when I realized I wanted to be an author. I remember writing paranormal stories on my old PC when I was at middle school, with (beautiful) covers illustrated on Paint. I wish I still had those stories, as it would be so much fun to go back and revisit old characters. Even still, I’ve always had a very vivid imagination, and I’ve never had any issues with coming up with quirky plots. But The Forest of Fallen Stars was a little different.

When I wrote The Forest Of Fallen Stars, I sort of fell into a writing frenzy. It was summer, and I had a lot of spare time around my work schedule. I would sit in my room for hours and hours, writing and scribbling down ideas. The plot just came to me. I wish there was some way to explain it, because I certainly can’t seem to replicate it! But I think it was the characters that truly made the story come alive for me.

Alura means so much to me, all of the characters do. Alura is shy, and full of self-doubt at the beginning of the book, but we get to see her learn about her gifts, and develop into a strong and confident young woman.

Kara is troubled and angry, but she has a kind heart and is always focused on doing the right thing.

Loria is also quite unsure of herself and the role she plays in her world, but she is strong-willed and determined.

Self-publishing has been a strange and very stressful experience. It’s taken a long time, and a lot of hard work. But I was incredibly lucky to get to work with an amazing friend of mine, Nicoletta, who formatted and designed everything inside my novel. She did an amazing job, and really helped me when I was struggling with the design.

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