So you want to write an ebook

so you want to write an ebook

If you’re a writer, you’ve likely at least daydreamed about writing a book.

If you’re a blogger, maybe you’ve thought about writing an ebook. Ebooks have gone from being labeled a “cop-out” to the traditional publishing model to a respectable and incredibly popular form of publishing in the span a few years. And for any writer who has useful knowledge, a story to share and—most importantly—a unique perspective on something, it’s a great way to promote your work.

Today, I’m psyched to share the unique perspective of Jen Glantz, the author of the ebook All My Friends Are Engaged. (You can read a sample chapter here.)

All My Friends Are Engaged

Jen’s here to talk about the thought process that goes into deciding to write a book—and then actually writing the thing. Jen was also kind enough to answer a few of my questions, which you’ll find below. Enjoy!

 

Writing a book, kind of like going on a first date, sounds like such a brilliantly exciting idea. And it is, until moments before it happens.

Moments before you have to start and are sitting there overwhelmed with anxiety, nerves, and not a single idea of how to begin.

Before your pencil hits the paper, or to be more with the times, before you start chomping down on your keyboard to make paragraphs flow into beautifully synced stories, you need to flesh out your idea. It’s best to start with an outline that includes what each chapter will be about and how long you anticipate each chapter to go on for. That way, when you begin writing you won’t be surprised or lost when it comes to how to keep the chapter flowing and when it’s best to end it.

The next step I’d recommend is to challenge your book idea. Take each chapter and ask as many questions as you can about it.

Does it make sense? Does it add to the overall plot of the book? How can I make it stronger?

When publishing an ebook, you have the opportunity to tap into many different modes of social media for marketing and have the potential for many more readers to check you out. That’s why it’s important to make sure the content you’re writing is crisp, unique as it is thoughtful, and worthy of a one-click download.

Write your heart out. But only after you’ve thought it out.

Jen Glantz

CASSIE: Congrats on publishing your ebook! I LOVE the concept and think a lot of twenty- and thirty-somethings can relate to the subject matter. Can you tell me a bit about why you decided to write it?

JEN: Thank you so much, Cassie! I was sick of looking at my Facebook newsfeed and seeing that all my friends were engaged and asking myself why not me? What’s wrong with me? So I figured I’d write a book about some of the more memorable dates I’ve been on. It turns out, what kept this book flowing with such passion was the hope that people who read it would understand that while yes, dating can be awkward, it can also be a whole lot of other things.

What was the most difficult part about creating this ebook? How did you work through it?

It’s a bit intimating pressing the send button after the book is written. Just knowing that (hopefully) a lot of strangers are going to be reading the intimate details of your dating life is a bit overwhelming to digest. In the end, I was proud of what I wrote and wrote it with the intention to relate to others and make them feel okay about their potentially awkward dating life. I pressed the send button and ate a giant cup of ice cream. I felt really good!

I know a lot of bloggers (myself included) aspire to write and publish their own ebooks but struggle knowing where to start. What advice would you give them?

Start now—even if you don’t have a publisher or know how or where you are going to sell it, just start writing. Writing down thousands of words and carefully connecting hundreds of sentences together takes a lot of time, persistence, and motivation. But it’s also really exciting. Even if you have “bad” writing days or you feel stuck in an idea, just don’t give up. Close your computer for an hour, play some good music and dance around or go for a long walk. The ideas will start latching on to you like lint if you just stick with it and keep working very hard.

What has been the best part about becoming a self-published author?

I think to be a successful writer in this day and age you need to be more than just a writer. You need to have a keen sense of social media and the chops to be a PR maven. There are so many different websites and outlets for people to read content on and it’s important that what you write, who you are, and how you market yourself makes you stand out. It’s a humongous accomplishment for me to have this book in the hands of strangers and every time someone reaches out to tell me they’ve read it, I’m just overcome with happiness.

Any other ebooks or projects on the horizon?

I plan on writing many, many more books. My blog is my platform to try out new ideas and new stories for potential books. As a writer you face a lot of rejection and a lot of people telling you no. My future holds a lot of that but it’s okay because I plan to never give up and be so persistent that one day a wonderful publisher will call me up and say, “You know what, Jen Glantz, we will give you that book deal you desperately deserve.”

 

Jen GlantzJen Glantz is the author of All My Friends Are Engaged, a book of dating disaster stories. She’s the heart behind the website The Things I Learned From and the biggest supporter of the NYC pizza industry. She’d love for you to say hello: @tthingsilearned or thethingsilearned@gmail.com.

 
 
 
 
 

I know there are a lot of you out there who have written your own ebooks.

What was your experience like? I’d love to hear about it. Share your story in the comments. (And leave a link to your ebook, of course!) If you’re like me and haven’t written one (but want to), what would you write about?

Finding faith in chaos

As I prepare to turn in final projects for my first semester of grad school, I’m happily giving up control over WTH for the day and handing it over to a lovely lady, Emelda, from Live in Color. I found Emelda’s story to be fascinating and her writing style exquisite—I know you will, too.

witty title here guest post

“Let go of your old narratives when they no longer serve you. Life changes constantly, and your story will, too.” 

– Tammy Strobel (Author/Blogger/Photographer)

Over a year ago, within two months, both of our cars were totaled.


Before my husband and I could sigh, we learned about our baby.
My emotions vacillated from surprise and joy to the kind of wrenching terror novel responsibility bears. How would I bring forth a life as I still searched for myself?

Months passed; halfway through the pregnancy, one of our doctors solemnly cautioned something may be wrong with our daughter’s heart. Racing anxiety quickly yielded to determination and prayer. We stood in the hospital parking lot on a tepid spring day, my husband, mother and I, heads bowed. We remained calm. A few days later the test results were negative.

After a nearly three-day delivery in August, Naima entered the world at 11:11 a.m., healthy and whole. Only seconds earlier, she maneuvered to break free of the umbilical cord which locked itself around her neck twice; the first cries were an audible reminder that life, in all of its complexities, is a continuous marvel.

live in color blog

Photo by Emelda De Coteau

As I look into those eyes, pressing against the softness of her skin, my heart is imbued with unending joy. She is here, because we refused to give up on her, on the power of faith. For me faith is not the absence of doubt—it’s having the courage to wrestle with it, facing our vulnerabilities, one day, one moment at a time. As Iyanla Vanzant, teacher and author often remarks, “we must do our work.”

This inner work is constant and consistent. I believe God pushes us with each new challenge to trust more fully. Certainly, there are days when it all feels impractical to me, as if I am swimming against a current.

This autumn, while leaves fell, so did my tears as I came to grips with a stark realization—a close family member now deals with a lifelong illness. There would be no retreat, only our resolve to cope.

It is during quiet times of reflection, as the bustle of life subsides momentarily, that I am reminded faith, ironically, is perhaps with us most strongly in chaos, when it’s easier to lose ourselves in despair and panic. We only have to remain willing to see promise and possibilities, not obstacles.

 

Emelda De Coteau

Photo by Keston De Coteau

Emelda De Coteau works for an arts non-profit in Baltimore. She juggles blogging and graduate studies at Notre Dame of Maryland University with blissful family life. She loves cuddle time with her hubby Keston, daughter Naima and their beagle, Ms. Foxy. She is the founder of Live In Color blog, which features posts on inspiration, style and culture, and chats with inspirational people in a variety of fields such as independent GRAMMY-nominated artist Carolyn Malachi and Baltimore-based filmmaker Bashi Rose. Her writing has also appeared in The Baltimore Times, Beautifully Said magazine, and Bmorenews.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

What it means to be brave

I’m really excited to revive my guest post series today, because a) I somehow always get fabulous submissions like today’s and b) I’m crazed as hell and happy to occasionally let others do the content creation for me. Today, I share with you the lovely Ashley Wilhite of Your Super Awesome Life. She’s an ambitious entrepreneur, a talented writer, an insightful life coach, and a dedicated runner. (She just ran her first marathon last week!) And her post couldn’t be more fitting for what this space has been about lately, so I’m going to let her do the talking about being brave.
witty title here guest post

Have you noticed when people say “You’re so brave,” what they don’t seem to notice is that you’re trembling inside?

They see you embarking on a solo vacation, sharing your story with others, asking for a raise, or doing some other monumental thing that they perceive as outside of their comfort zone.

But they can’t feel how your stomach is full of butterflies and your toes are tingling with fear. They can’t see that your palms are sweaty or that your mind is racing with anxious thoughts, questioning whether this a huge mistake.

That’s the thing about bravery, though. It feels like fear, but it looks like courage.

One of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, says, “You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability,” and that encapsulates it perfectly.

To everyone else, you appear confident, fearless, and heroic. But on the inside you feel nauseous, shaky, and hesitant. You feel vulnerable.

via Flickr user paix_et_amour

When I think about what it means to be brave, I think about being afraid, but doing it anyway. I think of the times I wanted to quit because I was scared. I think of the moments when I didn’t know how it would end, but I kept going anyway.

I think of the months when I was floundering, trying to start my business. With a heart full of passion, ambition, and determination, I threw myself into this new adventure. I started before I felt ready. I jumped in before I knew how the chips would fall, before I had all the answers, and I figured it out along the way.

I think of the moment when I launched my newest program, Cake for Breakfast. I believed in the power of what I had created, but I was still scared to share it. It’s a vulnerable thing to put yourself and your work out there for other people to judge. Looking back, it was one of my bravest moments, but at the time I felt exposed and insecure.

I think of the day I ran my first marathon. I woke up knowing I would run 6.2 miles further than I had ever run before, but I didn’t know how I would make it through. I felt nervous, but I started on the course with the other runners, put one foot in front of the other, and kept going until I crossed the finish line.

Bravery isn’t a magic spell you cast upon yourself. It isn’t a matter of ignoring your feelings or never being afraid. It’s about trusting yourself, locking in on your faith in your ability to follow through. It means pushing through your fear and choosing to hold on to courage instead.

 

Your Super Awesome LifeAshley Wilhite is the founder of Your Super Awesome Life, where she coaches 20-something women and helps them figure out what the heck they want to do with their lives + find the confidence and courage to actually go through with it. She is a huge fan of hot pink nail polish, sparkly cupcakes, and only doing what feels good. You can find Ashley and get your free copy of her e-book “The 5 Things That Hold You Back From Living A Life You Love” here.

 

 

 

 

 

Want to write a guest post for Witty Title Here? Be sure to check out previous guest bloggers’ posts first, then shoot me an email at wittycassiehere (at) gmail (dot) com. Wow me with your (thoughtful and grammatically correct) pitch!

Depression in relationships

Last week was lighter than usual on the blogging front. You know how when life gets to be overwhelming, and then you distract yourself with blogs and social media, and realize those things are (shockingly) hurting rather than helping you deal with it? That was me. So I distanced myself a bit from all that and enjoyed a weekend of hanging with the puppies, visiting D.C., and soaking up the gorgeous weather that has (hopefully?) come to stay.

Moving on, today’s guest blogger is a former “Lucky” Ones interviewee, Sarah Greesonbach, who just launched an ebook on switching careers. It’s geared toward teachers who are second-guessing their path, but it’s packed with advice that I think could be helpful for anyone feeling stuck. Her post today touches on some of the overwhelming effects of a dark period in her own life, and how that affected her relationship with her husband.

witty title here guest post

couple shadow

Have you ever felt sorry for people who are in relationships with depressed people?

I have. Especially because often that depressed person was me.

Josh and I have been married since November 2012, so I thought it was about time to interview him about what I consider the darkest period of my life: a time when I felt trapped in my career as a teacher, stressed by our long-distance relationship, and overwhelmed by health concerns. Here’s Josh’s take on being in a relationship with me during that time.

Hi Josh, I guess it goes without saying that it’s kind of awesome we can talk about this stuff. But some guys seem put off by talking about depression. Why do you think you’re okay with it?

I’ve always considered myself more in touch with my feelings than other guys. It is very helpful when it comes to writing music and being a teacher, but most guys aren’t up for it. I like to think I’m above stereotypes. How humans act and feel has always been more interesting to me than the traditional dude stuff like sports and grilling.

That’s probably why I married you. Now, about that time a few years ago when everything seemed to suck to me. Did you know that I was depressed?

Yes. You would cry a lot and you didn’t want to do things. Things being anything that wasn’t being in bed and crying. I think I thought that us doing distance was very difficult so I didn’t know what to do about it. I thought that was more to blame than the teaching, so I looked for ways that we could be together more.

What made you feel better and what made you feel hopeless about the situation?

I would say being with you was nice, knowing that eventually we would live nearer each other and not do [the] distance anymore. Nothing really made me feel hopeless. I found ways to cope myself, by playing a lot of video games and developing a schedule like going to the movies, getting wings, that sort of thing.

What did you do to try to cheer me up that worked and didn’t work?

I left cute notes and things around the house. I also tried to text and call as often as I could… even though sometimes you would refuse to talk on the phone. We should have talked about that more openly, I think, too, to save some hurt feelings on both sides. It didn’t seem to work when I tried to talk to you about feeling better or to try to make fun, distracting plans. I like to have something to look forward to, but you didn’t want to feel obligated to go out and do stuff in case you were feeling low.

How did you feel when I told you I was considering going on anti-depressants?

I was worried it would change who you were. I grew up thinking that medicine like that makes people act differently and out-of-character. Now I think I understand that it allows people to be more themselves during a rough patch (or long term).

Were you ever depressed during this time?

Yeah, definitely. I was teaching at that time too, and I resented having to show up early and try to be of service to students who were often unappreciative when I wanted to be spending time with you. I would find myself staying up really late to be intentionally out of it for the school day. That way I wouldn’t really be conscious of the day and be in a dream state ’til I got home. I really lived for the weekends.

What advice do you have for dudes (or just people) in relationships with someone who is experiencing depression?

I would say to call them a lot. Even if you don’t feel like talking, making yourself stay in touch with friends and family is really important. You and I would have Skype dates when you didn’t feel like talking, and we would spend a lot of time just being together instead of filling our weekends with things to do. Focus on the fact that the distance won’t last forever, and if it will, consider fixing that. You should also consider seeing a counselor—the person who is depressed and the person in the relationship with them can both use some perspective, tips, and just someone to talk to to make sense of it all. I think it would have helped me a lot to go to church more regularly during that time, too.

 

I’m so grateful that Josh and I were able to get to the place that we could speak candidly about this time in our lives. It certainly wasn’t so easy at first—there were miscommunications, misunderstandings, and just plain arguments all through it! But open dialogue and focusing on our priorities allowed us to grow and blossom together. Especially in the case of long-distance relationships, this kind of rough beginning can make the first year of marriage (and hopefully the rest) seem like a piece of cake!

Have you ever dated someone who was depressed or been the depressed one? What would you ask your spouse or partner?

sarah greesonbach

 

Sarah Greesonbach writes and curates the lifestyle and personal finance blog Life [Comma] Etc. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter for commentary and hot links, as well as pictures of her husband and cat (both are super-cute). She releases her first eBook this month, Life After Teaching: The Hands-On Guide for Transitioning Out of Teaching and Into a New Career.

 

 

 

 

Want to be a guest blogger for Witty Title Here? Send your pitches to me at wittycassiehere [at] gmail [dot] com.

Embracing cultural identity

Guest writer Manda (who is currently in Taiwan for a month!) of Break the Sky shares a post today that I find fascinating—especially because I don’t strongly identify with any one heritage. (I am very much a European mutt.) Read Manda’s story and feel free to share your cultural background and how you identify with it in the comments.

guest post series

cultural identity

The “race” question in the demographics section of any questionnaire always leaves me stumped.

The other questions are straightforward enough. How old are you? What is your marital status? Highest level of completed education? But when I get to the section that asks What is your race/ethnicity?, I usually am faced with the following options:

  • Asian/Pacific Islander
  • Black/African American
  • Caucasian/White
  • Hispanic
  • Indigenous/aboriginal
  • Latino
  • Other

Only occasionally do I have the option of “two or more races,” and even more occasionally do I get to check off more than one box to indicate just what races I claim in my title of “two or more races.” Usually I just end up checking off “other.”

I fall in the category of bi-racial, technically, being half-Chinese and half-American. Sometimes I debate over just checking off “Caucasian/White” or “Asian/Pacific Islander” and leaving it at that. But then that raises the question of consistency on the off-chance someone were ever to audit all the surveys I’ve answered in my life that asked me the race question (“Why were you Caucasian one day and Asian the next?”). When I took the PSATs years ago, I asked my proctor if I could check off more than one box. He said no, I had to pick just one. “What, you mean pick whether or not I relate more to my mother’s side or my father’s side? Like, pit one parent against the other?”

He raised his eyebrows at me and rolled his eyes. I ended up checking off “other.”

It’s not just in menial survey questions that I struggle with how to relate to both sides of my heritage. To my American friends I’m Chinese—to my Chinese friends I’m American. I’m the one my American friends will go to for questions about Chinese food or chopsticks, but my Chinese friends would laugh at the thought of me being an expert on those topics. (For the record, I am the first to admit that I don’t hold chopsticks correctly. You’re not supposed to cross the chopsticks at all, and I sometimes do. Oops.) I’m the one my Chinese friends will ask about American pop culture, but amongst my American friends we joke about how I’m a “pop culture void” because I have zero knowledge about the majority of pop culture references that most Americans grew up with.

I grew up and studied in both the U.S. and China/Hong Kong. I have family in both places. I speak both languages. I try to celebrate the culture of both sides of my heritage: Christmas is as important to me as Chinese New Year, Thanksgiving as Mid-Autumn Festival. I’ll wear my favorite ancient Chinese coin necklace to match my Pandora charm bracelet. My closet has both a qipao and a little black dress. I’m as happy eating a bowl of steaming wonton noodles in soup as I am macaroni and cheese. I love that I have two heritages, two cultures to learn from. I wouldn’t change it for the world, and I’m fortunate that even as a child I never felt insecure about identifying as being Chinese in my American schools, or American in my Chinese school.

Would my life be easier if I decided to pass myself off as either white or Chinese, foregoing one culture for the other? Perhaps. The question of my cultural identity would almost certainly be. But that would be a ridiculous thing to do and honestly, who cares? If people have an issue with me being the product of two cultures and identifying as a part of both, that’s their problem and not mine. I’m going to enjoy being as in touch with my heritage— both sides—as I possibly can. Maybe one day the small things, like survey checkboxes, will catch up to me.

Amanda OsborneManda is a recent college graduate beginning her career in public relations. A world traveler, she’s always dreaming about her next travel destination, although her home city of Hong Kong will always hold a special place in her heart. Other things she’s passionate about include books, cupcakes, makeup and tea. She has a tendency to listen to her favorite songs on repeat and has been known to crave noodles at 2 a.m.

photo credit: Kevin Krejci via photopin cc