Sunday, June 30, 2013

10 Steps to Indexing Your Book

Many books require an index. If a book is non-fiction; it should have an index. You never know when someone will need to find something in your book. Help make that easier.

Nancy E. Randolph’s low-tech index creation:
1. Start with your final page layouts. What does that mean? You must have finished all editing and have all you pages with text, pictures, illustrations and captions set into pages as they will appear in the book when it is printed.
2. Go through the pages and highlight each word, name or phrase that you want to be listed in the index
3. Open up your word-processing program. Name the file “index to my book.” Type each word, name or phrase with a tab afterwards and the page number where it is located. (People’s names will have to be entered in the form of Randolph, Nancy E.) Each entry will be on its own line.
4. Have someone other than yourself check this typed list against the page layouts.
5. Correct the list.
6. Sort the file alphabetically.
7. Review the list for misspellings, consistency of terms, etc. During this process you find that you have Senator Smith, Mr. Smith and John Smith and John E. Smith and they are the same person. Decide how you want to index Smith and change all the entries to your choice. (Sort again.)
8. When you find words misspelled; go back to your actual set pages and check and see if it was a typo in the page or in the typed index entry.
9. Create the entries by collecting the page numbers after the first appearing entry or the same phrase, name or word. Finish the entire list.
Tilton, Abram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27
tower of toilets . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53-54
Town’s End . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26
Twambly, Fred . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60
Twombly, Andrea . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70
Twombly, Charles “Jack” . . . . . . . 60,
61, 66-71, 73
Twombly, Helen Belle Gooch . . . . 51,
53, 60, 61, 65-67
Twombly, Henry B. . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
10. Now you have a great index. (Proofread it one more time.) Flow it into your desktop publishing program or send it to your publisher. I like to set the index into two columns.

I’ve been lucky enough to have reviewers notice the index in several of my books with praise.  Your book can have that going for it also, with this tedious but simple process.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

10 Steps to Better Productivity

Do you struggle day-to-day with focusing on important tasks? Have a long to do list that never seems to get done? If this sounds like you, read on for some ideas for help getting things done and getting rid of extraneous things.
1. Start your day the right way.
Get up, do your morning routine. I like to exercise before breakfast. Come back to breakfast, shower and meditate. Then I clear the decks by preparing my home space for public viewing. Spray cleaning the kitchen counters. Put everything in its place. Scan through every room and tidy all spaces.
2. Purchase the right tools and furniture.
If you’re comfortable in your space, you’ll spend less time fidgeting and adjusting things and more time accomplishing your tasks. Consider your chair and desk arrangements for ergonomics and ease of reaching important items.
3. Say no to the wrong projects.
It’s important to know when to to say “no.” It may be tempting to take on every job or project you’re offered. However, consider whether or not the job truly matches your goals and focus. Also, if you take on too many projects at once, you run the risk of not completing everything or even completing everything, but not up to your standards. Fewer, better projects will lead to more, better-paying projects. Editors and employers will note quality more than quantity.
4. Learn when a project is complete.
It’s impossible to make a project complete. Continually editing or second-guessing your decisions can lead to more mistakes or changes that are unnecessary. This can waste precious time and slow down your work over all. Finish a project to the point where most errors are picked up and stop micro-analyzing.
5. Limit social networking time with a timer.
Put a kitchen timer (with a loud ringer on your desk) just for these sorts of limitations.  (Not my words) A blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, or other social site is essential to keep in touch with your readers and promote your work, but promotion can quickly use up hours of writing time without earning a penny. To take advantage of these tools without excess, use a timer to ensure you're not socializing too long, or opt to work on only one or two of the tools, rotating so each gets attention every few days.
6. Check your spam filter.
Most email services have a spam filter. It helps eliminate unnecessary “noise” in the electronic world. However, legitimate email can sometimes get caught and lost. Make sure to check this occasionally so important information or opportunities don’t get missed.
7. Take breaks and walk around.
Don’t get zoned out on the screen. Get up and give your eyes a break. Every 15 minutes walk around. Get tea. Stretch if you can. Break that connection and give your brain a rest.
8. Take vacations and mini-vacations.
The more you work, the more you earn—but work too much and your earnings will go down. Exhaustion, poor health, and stress will take their toll on your creative juices and sap your productivity. Plan a full day each week to take completely off—no research, no editing, no perusing new markets. Instead, try something new or enjoy a hobby and you'll not only come back to your office refreshed, but with new inspiration for even more writing. Every freelance writer makes mistakes, but if you can avoid these errors even while you do everything else right, you'll soon see your writing problems fall and your profits rise.
9. Turn off technology when you need to do so.
The cell phone can be left in the car or notifications turned off. At home start turning off notifications when you are asleep or when you are visiting with friends. These disconnected moments allow you to focus on good sleep and good personal relationships.
10. Try
I love it. It is according to my eldest daughter a to-do list on steroids. Not only does it help you stay on track, but it helps you identify those key goals that you want to strive for in your life. That way each day you’re working towards your big picture goals.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Islands of Time: Book Club Discussion Questions

  1. Islands of Time is a story of the sweet and not so sweet moments of first love between two people from different backgrounds.  How did a first love affect you?
  2. Islands of Time is also about summer people and year-round people in Downeast Maine.  Have you ever felt a similar sense of separation between them and us?
  3. How do Becky and Ben change from when they meet the first time and then again later in their lives? Did you fall in love with Ben too?  What attracted you to him?  Did you like the way he treated Becky, and conversely, the way she treated him?  What aspects of their love do you think are timeless and epitomize what we look for in a romance?
  4. How did you feel when you read the passages about Becky’s first sexual experience?  Did the intimacy of the description embarrass you; were you surprised by what happened?
  5. What does the title of the book mean?
  6. Did the water and boat scenes evoke a summer memory of being on vacation, perhaps at a house on a lake or the ocean when you were young?
  7. How are Abby and Monica important to the story?  Do you identify with any of the characters in Islands of Time? 
  8. How does Becky fight against the culture of her time?  Why is she so vulnerable?  How does she come to terms with the death of her father and how does her relationship with her mother change?  How was your relationship to your parents similar or different?
  9. Maine was at one time self-sufficient and exported goods around the world.  Now  the state motto is “Vacationland.”  In what ways may this shift affect Maine people? Have you ever worked in a service-based job?  If so, what did you like or not like about the work?
  10. Did you expect the ending, or did it surprise you?  How do you feel about it?

Buy the book

About the Author
In 1948, Barbara Kent Lawrence fell in love with Mount Desert Island as a summer kid, and in 1979 she became a “year-round summer person,” a status more compelling and complex than she could then have imagined. In 1998 she wrote her dissertation: Working Memory: The Influence of Culture on Aspirations about the gap between the high rate of achievement Maine’s fourth grade students evidenced on national tests, and the low rate at which they went on to college. Lawrence has since written books about education and eating disorders in men and she’s working on a manuscript about her British family during World War II. She draws on her love of Maine and her experience as a researcher and writer for her first novel Islands of Time. Though Lawrence no longer lives in Maine year-round, she spends as much time as possible on Mount Desert Island.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Food Fix: Ancient Nourishment for Modern Hungers Study/Book Group Questions

1. One of this book's main themes is that there are many forms of hunger, and that we need various forms of "nourishment" for those hungers. When we are hungry for mental stimulation, maybe we need a good book rather than a candy bar. When we are hungry for companionship, perhaps we can call a friend instead of reaching for our friends, Ben and Jerry. When we hunger for physical movement, maybe we could take a walk instead of chewing the contents of the entire bag of popcorn. When we confuse physical hunger with non-physical hungers, we can miss true nourishment. What are your hungers? Talk about what you hunger for. What do you care about? What do you really want? How do you meet (or not meet) those hungers? 

2. Another theme of the book is "getting real." What does that mean to you? I start the introduction with a quote from The Velveteen Rabbit. The wise old Skin Horse tells the rabbit that "real isn't how you are made. It's a thing that happens to you," and that sometimes it hurts and that it doesn't happen all at once. "You become," he says. What is REAL to you? In food? In life? In the way you talk and share your truths? In what you bring into the world? Are you in alignment with what is real for you? If not, how would you get real?

3. How do you know what is enough in your life? Enough rest? Enough activity? Enough food? Enough TV? Enough purchasing? When we investigate our relationship to "enough," we can see how our enoughness or perceived lack of enoughness in any moment affects our food choices. What is enough for you? How can you tell?

4. The book makes the assumption that we have all had moments of knowing our own brilliance, of feeling our own inner spark, of seeing our own wholeness. As human beings, we tend to forget our innate goodness. Talk about times when you knew you were "full." Childbirth? Riding a bike for the first time? Graduation day? Walking in nature last week? Then talk about how you find your way back to that knowing of your ok-ness, your enoughness, after moments of forgetting.

5. What is your relationship to food? Do you love it? Hate it? Are you a gourmand? A gourmet? Do you "use" food to manage moods? Do you stress eat? Or stress not-eat? Do you love the taste of food or only eat because it's fuel? Do you have food fears or aversions? It's good to check in with yourself every now and then as you read along in the book to see if how you feel changes, releases or gets more entrenched. Stay in tune with how your relationship to food evolves, if it does.

6. What is your relationship to the process of eating? Do you eat at the table? Walking around the grocery store? In the car? On the run? Do you "grab a quick bite?" Do you see eating as an unpleasant necessity or a pleasure? Do you stuff your face or feed yourself with care? Do you sneak eat? Never eat with others? Always eat alone or NEVER eat alone? Simply notice. None of this is intended to raise judgments, only awareness. Again, note if any of your patterns change as you work through the book.

7. Let's say you decide to change your patterns with food and eating. What do you see as obstacles in the way of true nourishment? Many seeming blocks are internal: the rebel in us; the two-year-old tantrumer who wants what s/he wants when s/he wants it. Some hurdles are external: partners who don't eat the way we want to; the limits of the cafeteria at work. What would get in the way of your making the changes you want to make? How might you meet those challenges? Let's assume it's all workable. 

8. This book invites us to stay awake to what is happening in the realm of self-nourishment, to watch where we go numb, to be aware of those places we go on automatic pilot, to notice how we abandon ourselves to old habits. It's simple in some ways and definitely not easy. Where do you go numb? When do you want to say "oh, what the heck?" How does "automatic pilot" show up in your life and in your relationship to nourishment? 

9. What happens for you after you "fall off the wagon?" How do you return to treating yourself well? What does your self-talk sound like? How do you greet this new moment? 

10. Where do you go, where can you go, for peace, stillness, quiet? A corner of a closet? A walk in the garden? The beach? The book welcomes us into a daily practice of finding our hearts, because the heart has great wisdom, compassion and can help us heal. For most of us this heartfulness needs to be cultivated (you might have noticed harsh inner voices in some of your answers). How will you start to develop (or expand) your practice of self-nurturing? Of self-nourishment? What are your first steps? Can you start them now?

Author Bio
Susan Lebel Young MSED, MSC, author of Lessons From A Golfer: A Daughter's Story of Opening the Heart, is a perfect guide on your journey toward heartfulness in your food and life. Young is a self-professed junk food junkie who has maintained a fifty pound weight loss and a change of food-frenzy mentality for thirty years using these food fix antidotes. Young, a retired psychotherapist, teaches mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

10 Keys to a Successful Book Club

Book discussion groups add enjoyment to reading.

If you’re an avid reader, there’s a chance you have thought about being a part of a book club or maybe you already have participated. Whether you’re a book club newbie or a seasoned pro, these tips can help you keep your book club alive and thriving.

  1. Pick the Process. Are you simply going to discuss the book or is the meeting going to include food, drink and discussion? This will help inform the location selection and length of meeting. Will you be reading fiction or nonfiction?
  2. Picking the Books. There are many options for selecting the books your club reads. You can pick books of the New York Times bestseller list. Come up with a theme or common thread that lends itself to easy book selection. Refer to Oprah’s Book Club. You could always try a book from a small publisher. Check out Just make sure that the book is one that most or all of your readers are interested in pursuing. Vote, if necessary.
  3. Picking Locations. Some people like to have their book clubs take place in the privacy of a member’s home. In fact, some groups even rotate the location with each new book. Others will pick a public location for their meetings. If in a public location, you need to ensure that distractions are kept to a minimum.
  4. Scheduling. The timing of your club will really depend on the reading rate of the members and the amount of juggling that is necessary to coordinate multiple people’s schedules. In general, monthly meetings are more frequent than weekly.
  5. Pick a Leader. Your book club can have one designated discussion leader or the position can rotation with each meeting or book read. If you rotate, maybe the person in charge has a connection to the book either through their job or a hobby.
  6. Finding Discussion Questions. Some books have discussion questions posted online as go bys for book club discussions. A quick Google search for your book’s title and “discussion questions” or “book club” should lead to several options.
  7. Stay Focused. Since the point of the meeting is to discuss the book, ensure that is the main topic of discussion. Having a discussion leader helps with this. Also, setting aside time at the beginning of the meeting for some socializing can help minimize it throughout the book discussion.
  8. Handling Disagreements. It’s not uncommon for two readers to have different impressions and opinions of the same book. The reader’s life and experiences will influence their reading. The discussion leader’s role is to prevent any disagreement from halting or waylaying the discussion, while allowing for contrary positions to be discussed.
  9. Contact the author. Before the discussion occurs, have someone reach out to the author with questions. If they’re local, maybe they can participate in person or by Skype if they live far away.
  10. Have Fun. This, of course, is truly the most important key, because if it’s not fun, people will stop attending.
What Just Write Book title will you be including in your book club’s “must read” list?