A Surprising Gift for Christmas

Christmas…

Excited children, twinkling lights, the smell of fresh baking…

Sweat pooling under the armpits as you  trudge on the treadmill…

RECORD SCRATCH

Okay, maybe that’s not what comes to mind for most people when they think about Christmas. But this year, it’s been part of my ‘MO’ for quite awhile now.

I’ve been faithfully attending cardiac rehabilitation for almost ten weeks now. My last session is on December 22 – just in time for Christmas. I started going back at the end of August but had some ‘setbacks’ (namely two trips to the emergency ward and more time in hospital) so ‘restarted’ in October. Since the program is not available in my community, I have been driving almost two hours one way to attend in Fort St John. Fortunately, I have three children who live there, so I’ve invited myself to stay over most weeks, and have been spending a lot of time with the grandkids. I sometimes feel as if I should just move permanently!

Kidding, of course. I am amazed at how much stronger I feel. What a gift! I jokingly say I haven’t felt this physically fit for years.

Most of all, I am grateful for the gift of life. Near death experiences will do that to you. For those that don’t know, I had a heart attack in May of this year and then had to have triple bypass surgery. Many people shrug when they hear those words – bypass surgery. It is a common procedure these days and most people know someone who has gone through it. No biggy, right?

For those of us who have experienced it, let me just say, I hope to never have to go through that again. Having your chest cut wide open and having your heart stopped so that it can be operated on, is a bit disconcerting, to say the least, no matter how ‘common’ it might be! The months of painful recovery are no picnic either. It’s why I am so amazed by the fact that I can sustain a ninety minute work-out that actually makes me sweat.

Reasonably good health is a gift not to be taken for granted. It’s the one I’m most grateful for this Christmas.

My Two Favourite Online Courses For Authors

I love learning. I’ve read tons of books on writing craft and marketing books, as well as taken several online courses. There are many good options out there, but to save on space (lest I overwhelm with too many good options) I’ve narrowed it down to my two absolute favourites.

  1. Learn Scrivener Fast by Joseph Michael

I’d been using Scrivener for about five years, give or take a few months. I loved it from the moment I started just for the way it organized my writing, but I never used it much beyond a word processing tool. Last summer I watched a free online video by Scrivener coach Joseph Michael. I realized there were so many more things Scrivener could do – including formatting everything from epubs to mobi files to paperbacks to plays and more!

But, as a long time Scrivener user, I thought I should be able to figure things out for myself. The software comes with tutorials and there are tons of videos online, so I took those free tidbits from Joseph Michael and continued on my merry Scrivener way.

Things changed drastically when I tried to format a book. About forty hours later, bleary eyed from watching confusing youtube tutorials and upmteen ‘trial and error’ compilations, I gave up. Compiling my files for publication just wasn’t as intuitive as I had thought. In desperation, I signed up for Joseph Michael’s course.

AND IT HAS BEEN THE BEST INVESTMENT I HAVE EVER MADE FOR MY WRITING CAREER!

I’ve managed to format and publish multiple ebooks, paperbacks, and pdfs. I organize my blog posts using Scrivener, and I even do a lot of my outlining using the corkboard function. I can’t imagine writing without it and whenever I run into a snag, all I need to do is go to Joseph Michael’s easy to follow videos and – voila! Problem solved!

If you’re planning to delve into indie publishing, this is the course for you. It is worth every penny hundreds of times over!

  1. Your First 10k Readers by Nick Stephenson

I’m sad to list this course second, because it has also been such a good investment for me. Nick Stephenson has appeared on multiple podcasts with the likes of Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Joel Freidlander and others. He talks about ‘lead magnets’, permafree books, automations etc. all with step-by-step videos and very useful cheat sheets and other helpful resources. You can find many similar courses out there on creating ‘systems’ for writing and marketing, (like Shelley Hitz’s ‘Author Audience Academy”) but I happened to come across Nick’s back in the summer of 2015. I took the risk and signed up – my first time actually spending hard earned cash on an online course.

It has been worth the cost ten times over. It’s not that I’m now rolling in cash. Nick cautions students right up front that his system takes work. It is not a get rich quick scheme or a fly-by-the-seat-of your-pants way to fool people into buying your books. What it is, is a really smart and well laid out system for growing your audience while offering value to your readers – all in a step-by-step format that keeps that ‘overwhelmed’ feeling from taking over.

I voraciously listened to the entire course in the first week or two upon receiving it, but there is so much content and so much detail that there is no way I could implement everything at once. Heck, I’m still taking baby steps two years later, but I’ve managed to make some significant inroads. Another wonderful thing about Nick’s course is that he continues to add new content and update old information without adding to the cost. Plus, he’s a very funny guy, so it’s quite entertaining to listen to him teach. You’ll see what I mean if you watch his free training videos. (Excellent, but the entire course is so much more in depth.)

Of course, there are many more valuable resources out there but these are my two all time favourites.

Football, Flurries, and Fifty-Thousand Words

Wow. November is drawing to a close and with it three milestones starting with the letter ‘F’:

  1. FOOTBALL! The CFL’s Grey Cup was played on Sunday, and although my team didn’t make it to the big game, I thoroughly enjoyed what will probably go down in history as one of the craziest upsets ever. The Toronto Argonauts came back in the final minutes to beat the highly favoured Calgary Stampeders in a wintery snow bowl. I felt bad for the Stamps, since the game was freakishly reminiscent of their loss last year, but on the other hand, kudos to Ricky Ray for becoming the first starting quarterback in CFL history to win four Grey Cups.

2. Fifty Thousand: Yes, I love football, but I also love writing and this year I finished ‘Nanowrimo’ for the seventh time. I clocked in my 50,000 words earlier today on a project I have loosely named ”Teaching Memoirs’ since it includes a large segment on my time teaching Drama as well as quite a bit on my time homeschooling. I’m not sure exactly where it will go from here, but I’m looking forward to editing it and seeing what happens. (Nanowrimo stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month – where people from around the world sign up to write 50,000 words in the month of November.)

3. The final ‘F’ for this post – Flurries – lots of them! We have been locked into a snowy world for about three weeks now, and as you can see from the pictures of the Grey Cup game on Sunday, it looks like we’re not the only part of the country to be experiencing these above average snowfalls so early in the season. My husband has shovelled our driveway at least ten times (not exaggerating) and it isn’t letting up. A ‘White Christmas’ is a no-brainer around these parts!

Just In time For Christmas!

Christmas: Stories and More! A new anthology published by InScribe Press, is ‘hot off the press’ and ready for your reading pleasure!

“Experience the joys and heartaches of the Christmas season shared by forty talented authors from across Canada. Enjoy Christmas stories, poems, dramas, reflections, recipes, and images with themes like hope for a wayward child, a prodigal son’s return, cherished childhood memories, redemption in 1930’s Ukraine, a revelation in Asia, the nostalgia of heritage recipes, and answered prayer. We invite you to sit and savor these imagined and real-life treasures. Our hope is that this book encourages you to reflect on the beauty of this holy season of love, peace, light, and promise. May you be as blessed reading it as we have been creating it.”

Kindle

Paperback

 

Guest on A Thyme For Writers

You may enjoy this guest post I wrote for Karen Van Den Heuvel’s blog, A Thyme For Writers. The post is entitled ‘A Writer’s Journey with Tracy Krauss‘ and it contains some never before snippets.

When I first started writing over thirty years ago, I was just happy to clack away at my typewriter (yes – typewriter), dreaming of the day I’d see one of my books on a library shelf somewhere. I was in no hurry. Good thing, since it took me sixteen years to finish my first novel and another seven to finally find a publisher! Those were the days of researching at the library with a pen and paper, and filling actual (as opposed to virtual) wastebaskets with crumpled paper…

For the rest, please visit A Thyme For Writers. 

 

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