A Cool Productivity Tool

I’m always on the lookout for productivity tools to help in my work as a writer. So I was delighted to discover a cool productivity tool called, Evernote.

Evernote is a software that allows you to store text, images, videos, audio and even whole web pages as you do your work. You store them in what they call, “notes,” and you can divide them into “notebooks.” For example, I do a lot of research as a writer. So I read a lot of articles from blogs and web pages. I then write down the points in the articles I like, along with URLs and other related sites and blogs. With all that I try to store, I forget where I place what and the connections with one another. It can be daunting.

With Evernote I can easily organize my web browsing and research. I can also write text directly into Evernote instead of using a separate text editor. Whatever I place in Evernote, it gets saved automatically. But the one thing I like about Evernote is its powerful tag and search functions.

In case you have stored hundreds of notes, Evernote narrows down your search to a tee, so you’re able to retrieve what you’re looking for without frustration. And as I mentioned earlier, Evernote allows you to divide your notes into what they call, “Notebooks.” This allows you to organize your work better.

Evernote even has this function called a web clipper. It’s a small button that you can add on to your browser. When you want to save a blog or web site, you can click on the web clipper and you can save the URL or entire web page into your Evernote notebook. I don’t have to bookmark the site and then forget about it later on or spend time trying to find out what I bookmarked and where I bookmarked it.

Evernote has much more functions than what I’ve described above. I’m just scratching the surface. To experience Evernote for your needs, you’ll have to download the software. Don’t worry it’s free and there are versions for all operating systems.

But the coolest thing about Evernote is that it’s a cloud software. This means you can also install Evernote in your desktop, laptop and mobile phone, and access your notes anywhere you go.

Go ahead and try out this cool productivity tool.

Read to Write

The best advice a writer can receive is read and read. The second best advice is to write and write. But lets take the first advice first.

Read as much as you can. There are many reasons why.

1. To increase your vocabulary. You can’t be using the same words over and over again. What I do when I come across a word for the first time is write it in a notebook and then look up its definition. I then write the definition beside the word and try to write a sentence with the word.

2. To study writing styles and forms. How does the author weave a story? How does the author relay his information? How does he describe his characters? There is so much to learn about how the author writes to help you develop your own style and form.

3. To study the moods of the book. What bored you? What excited you? How did the characters speak? Will you be able to convincingly convey moods, emotions, thoughts in your writing?

4. To be informed. Many books, whether they be fiction or non-fiction, give out facts and figures. If they don’t, you can still apply nos. 1-3 above.

5. To enjoy. Reading should be a pleasure and not a burden. But make a habit of reading.

I suggest that you join a book community such as Goodreads and Wattpad, which are free to join. You can see what other people are reading and get ideas for your own book. I have accounts there so let’s hook up.

Reading helps you become a better writer.

Why I Call Myself a Christian Author

I embraced the Christian faith because I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of my life. But this is only one reason why I call myself a Christian author. I even believe that I need not write Christian books to call myself one.

In fact, one of my Kindle books is entitled, “How to Raise Funds for Your Ministry.” It is not Christian, per se. While it addresses Christian pastors and ministers, it can be for anyone who wishes to raise funds for whatever purpose.

I call myself a Christian author because I believe my God is a God of excellence personified in Jesus Christ.

Christ was no mediocre man when he walked this earth. He was radical, yes, but he made a positive difference in those who followed him. The religious leaders in his time went against him not only because they deemed him blasphemous, but because they knew they could not be the person he was. And, yet, they could be.

We could be!

Jesus’ call to one such leader named, Nicodemus, was to be “born again.” This was a call for transformation, not only in the spirit, but in the total person. It was not enough for Nicodemus to change his religious beliefs. He had also to change his beliefs about himself.

To be excellent in all we do, we have first to believe we can be excellent within. “Be” should first come before the “do.” Edmund Hillary, the first person who reached the peak of Mt. Everest, said, “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

There are many things I personally conquered within me. I know there will be many more. The path to excellence is never smooth. But I chose to traverse it because I desire to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. I can preach about Christ better this way.

I am, after all, a Christian author.

Develop Yourself to Develop Your Writing

I have always believed that writing is not only an activity of the mind, but more so an activity of the heart. While you are revealing your thoughts, you are also revealing your passion; and it’s passion that many readers are attracted to.

You are not only selling your books, but you are selling yourself. Through your books, you are indirectly telling your readers that you are an author who can be relied on to get a good story from (if you’re writing fiction) or who can provide trustworthy information (if you write non-fiction).

In other words, your written works are excellent, because you are excellent. Excellence is not what you do. Excellence is first who you are. This means that you have formed within you the character to achieve excellence in all endeavors, which of course includes writing.

Excellence is about developing your mind so your thoughts have clarity. It’s about developing your vocabulary so your words have depth. It’s about developing good work habits so you produce quality work. It’s about developing your spirit so you’re able to reach out with godliness.

Excellence has many aspects. Choose what you need to develop in yourself so you become a total person who makes a difference in other people’s lives, whether they encounter you personally or through your books.

Their, They’re, There and Everywhere

One of the common mistakes in writing is the misuse of the words, their, they’re and there. They sound the same so the misuse is understandable. Here’s a brief description and differentiation of each word.

Their is a possessive pronoun meaning, “belongs to them.” Examples: Their school is in the middle of the city. They took their jackets off because of the heat.

They’re is a conjunction of 2 words, “they” and “are,” a pronoun and a verb. The long usage would be, They are eating in the cafeteria. The conjunction would be, They’re eating in the cafeteria. A dialogue: Who are they? They’re the San Antonio Spurs.

There is an adverb that depicts a place. A dialogue: Where is she? She is there at the church. Or She is over there.

If the proper grammar is not used, your thoughts will be everywhere but the right place.

How to Lead Like Thomas Jefferson

Reprinted from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Like many historic leaders, Thomas Jefferson was a man who didn’t fit into a specific mold, sometimes favoring ideas that were unpopular at the time. Jefferson was considered to be a visionary, often going against the grain in order to achieve the greater good for the country. Jefferson also was a man who forged ahead, despite personal tragedy and despair. Although many lessons can be learned from Jefferson, understanding how his leadership skills influenced the way he is remembered today can be applied to your own modern business, academic and even social situations. Here are some suggestions on how you can lead like Thomas Jefferson.

Steps

  1. Broaden your knowledge. A polymath by nature and experience, Jefferson spoke five languages, and was passionately interested in philosophy, science, religion, architecture and invention. He was well read and always had a thirst for knowledge. Devote at least one part of your week to reading books, articles, journals, newspapers and other reputable sources of information in order to keep up with developments in your own field and beyond.
    • Never assume that you are "above" digesting popular information sources as well. A leader should know the pulse of what the majority of the public is thinking and following by way of trends, fads and curiosities. Knowing what matters to the people you lead (whether it's a team or a company) will always help you to tailor your ideas and visions to make them resonate with those you're guiding. Be curious and genuine in your desire to understand what moves people.
    • Claiming "I cannot live without books", Jefferson accumulated thousands of books for his library at Monticello. You may not have the space for thousands of books in your actual home but do make use of eReaders, iPads, laptops, etc. that allow you to download eBooks. You can access the majority of the classics for free in this form, and many other great books can be purchased and stored with ease this way. Just be sure to back it all up so that you don't lose your amazing collection.
  2. Speak your mind, even if your opinion isn’t popular. Looking beyond the status quo for a better way of doing things and for ways to improve society as a whole may not be popular initially––resistance to change, however beneficial, is a human certainty. During Jefferson’s times, free America was not fully realized and many Americans did not fully grasp the concept of a completely free society. However, Jefferson turned his frustration into determined persistence and talked to anyone who would listen about his vision of a free U.S. He pushed and persuaded until his dream came to fruition.
    • Stick to your principles. Don’t allow others to influence or sway you from your original intent. For example, Jefferson believed that people should be able to practice any religion they wanted and that the press should be afforded certain freedoms. Today Americans are free from persecution to practice any religion they choose. Moreover, freedom of the press has continued to keep those in public office accountable to the people.
  3. Focus on your strengths. There is much said and written about overcoming your weaknesses. While there is always room for tightening up aspects of yourself that aren't working the way you want them to, it is a fool's life to pursue anything that relies principally on your weaknesses. Realize that focusing all the time on weaknesses leaves less time to focus on strengths and in many cases, can cause you to feel "less than" rather than to celebrate what you're brilliant at. If you believe you're in a position that isn’t a good fit or you aren’t qualified enough, don’t bluff or “wing it.” Jefferson was made Secretary of State by George Washington and felt at odds with the job and others in the government. He decided to walk away from working in the government, reversing this decision later when he felt ready.
  4. Draw on inner strength and faith during times of personal tragedy. Personal tragedy can derail even the most steadfast of leaders. Jefferson was no stranger to devastation and misfortune, losing his wife of eleven years, Martha, and seeing only two of his six children with her reach adulthood. However, he refused to allow the tragedy in his life to unhinge his focus and determination. While he grieved strongly after the death of his wife, he realized that he needed to forge on rather than give in to despair. When challenges face you, allow yourself the time to recover but do not wallow in sadness or disappointment for long; as a leader, you have gifts to share with other people who see you as a role model, guide and mentor.
    • Hold tightly to your goals by being a man or woman of purpose. In 1786, Jefferson wrote about his enthusiasm and passion for life, despite tragedies and disappointments: “Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures... Ever in our power, always leading us to something new, never cloying, we ride, serene and sublime, above the concerns of this mortal world, contemplating truth and nature, matter and motion, the laws which bind up their existence, and the Eternal being who made and bound them up by these laws. Let this be our employ.
    • Turn to your personal and religious beliefs to bring you strength during trying times. When Jefferson’s wife and children died, Jefferson clung to his religious beliefs during these terrible times of instability and tragedy. His relationship with God helped to guide him during his darkest hours, allowing him to continue to lead and remain focused. Whether you have faith-based beliefs or you draw on other sources of moral courage, rely on these resources to help you pull through and rebuild your strength.
  5. Acknowledge your imperfections without fostering them. Even the greatest leader understands that he or she is not perfect. Although Jefferson is considered to be one of the country’s greatest leaders, his character is riddled with imperfection and inconsistency. For example, Jefferson is known to have had an affair with his slave Sally Hemings and fathered at least six of her children, an indiscretion he never denied. Moreover, many scholars find Jefferson to have been a dishonest man because he never owned certain high impact decisions he made in his life and although he proclaimed to believe in equality for all, his continued ownership of slaves was an inconsistent approach to what he preached. While Jefferson's attitude has an historical context, his documented attitude is something you can learn from so that you heed your own inconsistencies.
    • All human beings are inconsistent to a point, and yet we each need to acknowledge this rather than pretend it's not an issue. Moreover, much of what is inconsistent in us is a result of how we see ourselves at different points in time––and naturally, we change as we mature and age, usually for the better. A good leader will continue to learn and grow, will seek to be less defensive of his or her own ideas and be more open to the perspectives of others. Avoid getting stuck in time or stifling your growth as this is the surest way to stay inconsistent with both yourself and with changes around you; always be prepared to stay open-minded, especially when confronted by complex issues that require considerable thought.
    • Use your mistakes as a learning experience. If you don’t learn from your mistakes you cannot build and further your leadership. By acknowledging your errors and studying them, you can fortify your ability and credibility as a leader and avoid the same pitfalls and shortcomings in the future. Although it is widely know that Jefferson made many mistakes, future presidents turned to him for advice and lessons, well beyond his actual life.
  6. Learn from others, even if it means you must follow for a while. Great leaders learn skills by not just forging ahead without knowledge but by identifying mentors or guides, studying their strategies and molding their techniques to their advantage.
    • Stay aware throughout your life that you don’t always know everything, not even in your own field of expertise. Even seasoned leaders understand that always improving your knowledge is the real source of power––and that it is impossible to know everything. For example, during the creation of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a junior member of the committee. He was charged with writing a draft, but knew that senior member John Adams had more knowledge and insight to write the draft (although Jefferson ultimately authored the document). He sought knowledge from Adams, even asking him to write it instead.
    • Gain motivation and insight from your mentors. Although Jefferson asked Adams to create the draft, it was Adams who provided Jefferson with the necessary motivation and encouragement, which led him to pen his draft. Adams pointed out Jefferson’s strengths, one being that he was a better writer. Sometimes it takes other people's observations of you to point out your strengths.

Tips

  • Embrace the written word. Jefferson was a man who had a distinct passion for books and reading. The more you read, the more knowledge you will glean.
  • Surround yourself with trusted advisors. During his presidency, Jefferson appointed loyal colleagues such as James Madison to help him with decision making.
  • Be firm with your intentions. When you intend to do something or want others to know that you authentically believe something, don't hedge or prevaricate. State what you intend to do, then do it. One of the best known phrases in the English language ("We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.") was a result of Jefferson getting straight to the point, and meaning it.

Warnings

  • Be cognizant of any endeavor that would be considered to be scandalous. Even in Jefferson's times when television and the Internet were non existent, news that he fathered a child with a slave was a common whisper and tarnished his reputation as a leader.

Things You'll Need

  • Books about Jefferson – historical accounts should be read first hand by you

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Lead Like Thomas Jefferson. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Right Use of Lose and Loose

One of the more common grammar mistakes is the wrong use of lose and loose. I even see this mistake on sales pages written by supposedly 6-figure copywriters. These glaring mistakes on Web pages can be quickly and easily dismissed with a click of the mouse. But when these mistakes appear on your book, your credibility and readership are at stake. One basic rule in writing a book is making sure you use correct grammar.

Lose and loose are two words that sound the same, but are worlds apart. For starters, lose is a verb, while loose is an adjective.

Lose means:
1. to come to be without (something in one’s possession or care), through accident, theft, etc., so that there is little or no prospect of recovery.
2. to fail inadvertently to retain (something) in such a way that it cannot be immediately recovered: I just lost a dime under this sofa.
3. to suffer the deprivation of: to lose one’s job; to lose one’s life.
4. to be bereaved of by death: to lose a sister.
5. to fail to keep, preserve, or maintain: to lose one’s balance; to lose one’s figure.

Examples: The weaker team will certainly lose the game. Hold your keys tightly or you might lose them.

On the other hand, loose means:
1. free or released from fastening or attachment: a loose end.
2. free from anything that binds or restrains; unfettered: loose cats prowling around in alleyways at night.
3. uncombined, as a chemical element.
4. not bound together: to wear one’s hair loose.
5. not put up in a package or other container: loose mushrooms.

Examples: My dog escaped because his leash was loose. The dress was loose because it was too large.

The adjective for lose is lost. He found his lost dog. The verb for loose is loosen. Relax and loosen your necktie.

Now is the Time

Now, more than ever, is an excellent time to write a book and self publish it, more so if you are a Christian author. There are several reasons why:

1. The world has to know about Jesus Christ and what Christianity is all about. There are too many half truths and lies about Christ, his teachings and his followers.

2. There are many ways to author a Christian book. It doesn’t always have to be expositions of the Bible. It can be a life story or a testimony or even several testimonies. It can be fiction; yes, there is nothing wrong with writing fiction based on Christian thought. It can be a compilation of interviews of Christian leaders, for example, giving their views on certain topics.

3. It’s easy to self publish, which is what my site is all about.

The first things you need to consider before you write a book and self publish are:

1. Your subject matter and who you are reaching out to, i. e. youth, young professionals, singles, etc.

2. Finding a good editor. While you can probably edit your own manuscript, it helps a lot getting third-party eyes to not only edit but critique your work. Correct grammar and spelling go a long way to building up readership.

There are Christian readers out there that are waiting to learn about what you have to say. Go and reach out to them. Start writing!

The time is now.