Overcoming Loneliness

A child watches as a mother cuddles her daughter in their play together. A teenage girl walks alone past a group of peers as they laugh and talk together. A young man lays aside his values to become part of a crowd. A single mom flips the pages of a magazine as she watches couples strolling through the park. An elderly man picks a daisy and ponders the hole left in his heart by the loss of his dear wife. Loneliness is a world-wide epidemic.There is loneliness and then there is pathological loneliness. We all experience loneliness at times throughout our lives when there is a loss of a loved one, loss of a relationship, or your child moves away to start his own life. But pathological loneliness is like a bottomless pit. Once the emptiness takes hold it seems almost impossible to fill up with love. Like a leaky cup losing water; the hole in the sufferer’s heart never seems to heal. No matter how many people reach out to help, love-hunger continues to gnaw away at the person whenever he or she is alone. This kind of emptiness is most often caused from deep emotional wounds which have been inflicted in childhood.


When children do not receive sufficient affection and affirmation they find themselves lacking in self-esteem, confidence, and purpose as they grow. They often flounder in their social skills, education, and mental stability. They have difficulty receiving God’s love and question His care for them. All of which leaves them wanting and lonely.Although for these individuals, a deep intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe seems impossible, the best means of healing a lonely heart is developing a close relationship with your Heavenly Father. He knows how to fill all the cracks and crevices where loneliness lurks. He promises He will never leave you or abandon you. Christian counseling may also be a necessity to get to the root causes and bring about mental and emotional healing.There is much you can do to help yourself move out of your isolation and build new friendships that can be both stimulating and fulfilling.Here are some ways to overcome loneliness:• Recognize what it is that causes your lonely feelings.• Identify the effects that loneliness has on your life, both physically and mentally.• Make a list of potential adjustments that can be brought about in yourself and your activities to allow more social interaction.• Seek out individuals who share similar attitudes, interests, and values with you.


• Develop new friendships by joining small groups such as a Bible Study, book club or walking group.• Volunteer to sit on a committee or look for options to serve in your community. These opportunities are both rewarding and beneficial to your emotional health as you meet people and cultivate new friendships and social interactions.• Learn to see yourself as God sees you. You were created with unique gifts, talents and personality traits which will be a blessing others.Loneliness can be overcome; however you will need to make a conscious effort on your part to make a change in your daily routines. Making the effort to alter the way you see social activities, friendships and yourself can eventually make you happier and healthier. You will surprise yourself in how you positively impact others around you.

E-Books: Value and Price

For the last several years, the debate has raged over e-book pricing. What is the best price? What is the customer willing to pay? What should the government and courts do to monitor the situation? It can all be confusing and put authors into a tailspin.

While the courts, online retailers, and large publishing companies continue to argue and battle it out, what is the independent author supposed to do? No one has all the answers, but some common sense, a little experimenting with prices, and some knowledge of the industry can help you determine an appropriate price for your e-book. Remember, there is no perfect price for every book; what is a good price for one book may not be the right price for another.

Here are some questions to consider when determining the price for your e-book:

What is the value of your book?

You need to determine your book’s value before you set the price. Did you write a short erotic novel to compete with the other one million out there that you spent maybe a month or less writing? Then its value is probably fairly low because it may not be in great demand. Are you writing a specialized thesis on a topic that has never had a book published on it before-then the value may be very high, although your reading audience may be small. Did you spend ten years writing and researching your book, or did you write it in a week? Can your readers easily get the information in your book elsewhere?

I once told an author her one hundred page history book was overpriced. She replied, “What do you think my book is worth when I spent five years writing and working on it?” Obviously, she perceived her book’s value as high, but her readers, seeing a slim volume that won’t take long to read, may not see it as so valuable. Consider also the value of your reader’s time. Will your reader think it worthwhile to pay $9.99 for something that takes an hour to read? Perhaps time is more valuable than money to your reader so he won’t want to pay $9.99 for what he may perceive as ten hours of work reading your book but he would pay $2.99.

If you insist your book’s value warrants a higher price, you could be right, but you will need to convince your reader of that value through your marketing efforts.

What is the most and least you can charge for your e-book?

Never should you price your e-book over $9.99. While a few major publishers can get away with higher prices for best-selling authors, $9.99 is the limit for most of us because Amazon decided that $9.99 was the cut off for paying out higher royalties. Books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 will receive 70 percent royalties from Amazon, while those over will receive a lower royalty of 35 percent, meaning your $15.00 book will earn you only about $5.00 as opposed to $7.00 for your $9.99 priced book. I won’t speak to every e-book retailer’s pricing model here; you’ll want to look at them individually, but $9.99 is definitely the highest you should go.

The advantage to pricing high is more money per book, but it also means you will likely sell less books. That said, lower priced books might be seen as of less value-being from unknown authors, poorly written, or simply short. To me, anything priced under $2.99 I automatically think must be of lesser quality and that even the author doesn’t perceive its value as high.

If you’re an established author, a middle price of $3.00-$6.99 is reasonable for an e-book and probably will not dissuade most readers from buying your book. Only if you have a book the reader will perceive as having high value should you price it in the $7.00-$9.99 range. A book in that price range should have the value of information worth buying, or you should be a well-established author with a large following-meaning thousands of readers.

How many books do you want to sell?

If you price your book at $0.99, you’ll need to sell ten e-books to equal if you had priced it at $9.99. Possibly, the lower price will make your book attractive enough that you can sell ten times as many books, as if you had left the price at $9.99. If you can sell ten books at $0.99, wouldn’t you be better off because now you have ten readers more likely to read your future books so you can price those higher?

What does the competition charge?

Look up other books in your genre. If you’re a new romance author, what are other new romance authors charging? If you’re writing your third business book and your first one became recognized in the industry, you can probably afford to price your business e-book higher. Price at or slightly lower than the competition for books in the same genre or similar to yours. If a reader sees two books about Lady Jane Grey, and yours is a dollar lower, unless the other book appears to have more information, yours is the one likely to be bought.

Where are your readers buying their books?

While I doubt many of the e-book sellers out there are spending time comparing what you’re selling your e-book for at various online stores, you probably want to be fair in charging the same price across the board. That said, just because your book is at Amazon doesn’t mean that’s where your readers are going to buy it, so make sure you sell it at many sites-Barnes & Noble, Kobo (the Canadian e-book seller), and Google Play (where people with Android phones and tablets are buying). Are you selling to the twenty-year old who is likely to buy at Google Play or are you selling to senior citizens who might prefer to buy at Amazon, which is more familiar to them? Make sure your book is at all places and then price accordingly. Your twenty-year old is a college student with little money so $0.99 is a better price for him, but then most e-book sellers will want you to sell for the same price at all their stores.

Do you have more than one book, especially a series?

If you have more than one book, consider pricing one lower. If you’ve written a series, you might want to give away or price low the first book in the series to sell it. Then if you hook readers with it, they will want to read the rest of the series. If you’ve written multiple books but not a series, I recommend pricing the book you and other readers consider your very best book as the lowest because after all, you want your very best to be what people first experience so you give the best impression and win them over as future readers.

Could you serialize your book, or sell it in individual chapters?

Serialized books-especially novels-have been around for centuries, and recently, more and more authors have started to sell their books as chapters or short installments. If you’ve written a short book-up to fifty pages or so-and it works as a stand-alone piece, price it low, such as at $1.99, and then continue the series at the same price or slightly higher. The reader will be more likely to buy four books at that lower price, if he likes the first one, than buy one book for $7.96 when he isn’t sure he’ll like it, and you’ll still make $7.96 if he ends up buying all four.

How good are you at marketing your book?

Marketing is the bottom line. Whether you price high or low, just because you’ve written a book and made it an e-book doesn’t mean anyone is going to read it. Yes, someone might stumble upon it at an online bookstore and buy it, but if you make a true effort to market it, you’re going to sell more books. If you are good at marketing, you will be able to promote your book as having value and being entertaining, and then perhaps you can price it higher because of that perceived value and higher interest. If you’re not going to spend much time marketing, then price low so the lower prices can help to compensate for your lack of marketing efforts.

Don’t Be Left Behind

No hard rules exist for e-book pricing. Every author needs to determine what works best for his or her individual situation. Try pricing high, and if your books don’t sell, try pricing lower. Be aware of trends or reasons why your e-book might be more popular one month than another-if you’re writing about the American Revolution, you might sell more e-books in June and July around Independence Day than you will in February-so maybe you lower or raise the price accordingly at such times. Develop a strategy, stick with it for a few months, then reassess and readjust your prices accordingly. Whatever you do, remember that e-book sales are now starting to outpace printed book sales, so don’t be left behind by ignoring the e-book pricing question.

Some of the Best Cooking Books That Need to Be in Your Kitchen

Having just graduated from university, cooking books have a firm place on my kitchen shelf. From disastrous attempts at making barely edible dishes, my time as a student has exposed me to many cooking books. Here are the top ten of the best cooking books that are invaluable to any wannabe Masterchefs out there.

Ready… Steady… Cook!

10. Delia’s Complete Cookery Course by Delia Smith

This mammoth cookery book whips in at number 10. Delia Smith is very much the David Beckham of the cooking world – an institution. Her Complete Cookery Course does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides wannabe chefs with a full, comprehensive guide to creating the best dishes. With fundamental must know recipes like apple pie and yorkshire puddings, Delia shows she is one of the masters. With mouth-watering pictures acting as a rough guide this book is a god send for beginner chefs. No doubt a staple on your mother’s shelf, this book is perfect as a starting point in the basics of pastry making, cake baking and roast making. A genuine triumph in the cookery book world.

9. The New Curry Bible by Pat Chapman

Chapman’s bible does not follow the conventional rules of cookery books, but is a diamond in the rough for curry fanatics out there and the reason it has made this best cooking books list. The New Curry Bible does not simply show you the recipes but teaches you the history of curry making. It is not a book to be bought for people who want a quick fix curry. If you are one of those people I suggest you save yourself time and money and just buy a ready meal. However, if you are interested in the exquisite nature of curries, then this book teaches you all you need to know. Like any specialist cook book, it is a little disheartening at first to encounter all of the strange herbs and spices that you know you don’t own, but the rewards from having knowledge of these is irreplaceable. Although it may take you a while to get to grips with the fine art of balancing the spices, you will most certainly become famous amongst friends and family for the talent you will take from this beautiful book.

8. Rick Stein’s Taste of the Sea: 150 Fabulous Recipes for Every Occasion

As a massive lover of seafood, this book has literally been my magna carta. Rick Stein takes you on a journey around the coast and teaches you to really appreciate fish in all its scaly glory. From skinning methods to filleting, this book teaches you how to prepare and cook fish to perfection. Stein writes in a clear and simple fashion and it is impossible to resist his infectious passion. With a variety of dishes that cater for absolutely every occasion, this book is a must have for beginners and experienced fish mongers alike. The instructions are not condescending or set in stone, and leave freedom for experimentation. A truly great book by a truly great chef and teacher.

7. Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong

Following the theme of specialist cooking books, Simple Chinese Cooking is an absolute must have for anyone wanting to start a love affair with chinese cooking. Filled with beautiful photography, this book coaches you through each dish with clear and crisp step-by-step instructions. Usually when faced with a specific cook book, there seems a never-ending list of ingredients that appear to exist in outer space, but this book has essentials that can be bought and found easily in local grocery stores. Not only is this book a great guide, but it is also incredibly exciting as each week you can watch yourself develop and gain confidence with once seemingly difficult dishes. From steamed cod to sweet and sour pork, Kwong’s recipes will have you burning all your chinese takeaway menus from the get go.

6. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver

There can be no such thing as a best cooking books list without Mr Oliver, of course. One of the things I love most about almost all of Jamie Oliver’s cook books are their beautiful and impeccable presentation. They are not endless pages of lines and lines of writing but are instead filled with bright, colourful and delectable pictures, as well as no- nonsense recipes. In his 30 Minute Meals Jaime shows you that once and for all cooking does not have to be a stressful and laborious affair. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals is amazing for working people for whom time is money, and of course students who wish to spend minimum amount of time cooking and maximum amount of time… studying. Not only is it wonderfully organised with a designated section for starters, mains and desserts, but there are numerous vegetarian recipes scattered inside, making this book literally for every type of chef.

5. The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman

After his debut cook book How to Cook Everything became an international sensation, Bittman is back to teach you it is easier than you thought to cook recipes from all around the world. With no unnecessary embellishments Bittman gently leads you on a culinary round the world trip that will leave your taste buds in a state of euphoria. The best aspect of Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes In The World whilst you may never get round to cooking everything inside, the dishes you do make will leave you feeling inspired to take dishes you already cook and turn them on their head. Although it can be overwhelming to face so many recipes in one book, I urge you to add this to your collection. It is timeless and will only help to increase your knowledge of food.

4. Gordon Ramsay’s Secrets by Gordon Ramsay

In this incredible and not too badly priced book, Gordon Ramsay lets you in on a few secrets that have made him the world-renowned chef that we have all come to love. With a huge collection of recipes from poultry to fish and desserts to soups, this cookbook lets you in on inside info that will have friends and family thinking you are a bona-fide kitchen guru. The recipes are simple and effective and Ramsay has even added flourishes of his own, such as useful tips on presenting dishes. If you really have a passion for cooking or would love to learn more, this is the book that teaches you not just to cook but how to become a chef. These tips help to make cooking a truly enjoyable experience and will boost your confidence to be adventurous not only in cooking but also in eating as well.

3. The Complete Book of Sushi by Hideo Dekura

As a self-confessed sushi addict this book is incredible – the pages are almost edible. It combines the modern with the traditional and allows you to get to grips with this difficult Japanese style of cooking. Although not to everyone’s taste, this book teaches you the secrets behind making that difficult sticky rice and how to present your sushi in wonderful ways. The most interesting thing about Dekura’s book is they way it advances from simple to expert. This allows you to move gradually at your own pace and also sets little targets within the book. Whilst there are other books on the market such as Yo Sushi’s, it is Dekura’s book that really stands out of the crowd. With gorgeous photography it inspires with a mere flick of the page, and unlike its contemporaries has clear and simple instructions. A must have for any sushi fan and it also makes a great present.

2. Wahaca – Mexican Food At Home by Thomasina Miers

This book comes in at number two of this best cooking books top ten and is a must have for any frequent Wahaca customer. It was only recently published and plunges you straight into the vibrant and tasty world of Mexican street food. One thing that did surprise me was the breakfast section, and I have to admit I have been thoroughly converted to a mexican way of eating in the morning. Full of beautiful pictures and written in an accessible and friendly way, this book does exactly what the title states and brings Mexican food straight into your kitchen. Miers has clearly done the research required for such an exquisite book, and the information about mexican chillies is invaluable. An excellent book for cooking meals for friends and a great equivalent to BBQ parties.

1.Jaime does… by Jaime Oliver

In at number one is Jaime does. In this book Jaime travels through foodie hotspots such as Spain, France and Morocco in order to find innovative recipes. The book is beautifully presented (like all of Jaime’s books) and has wonderful pictures of his travels alongside the amazing pictures of his food. Each country has an introductory paragraph that explains the culture and food he came into contact with, and then in very simple language and an ever friendly tone, Jaime guides you through a range of dishes. From light bites such as patatas bravas to the more complex dishes like the steak tartare, Jaime’s tone never condescends you as the amateur chef. This book not only provides great enjoyment as a teaching tool but is also nice to flip through every now and again to behold the location shots of his food journey. Overall a very deserving winner of this Best Cooking Books list. Absolutely delicious!

This is by no means the only ten cook books I think you should own. There are many other brilliant cookbooks out there for beginners such as The Student Cookbook by Sophie Grigson. This is superb for amateur chefs who simply do not have the time to cook elaborate meals every day and are after recipes for both real cooking and convenience cooking. Then for more adventurous chefs who are willing to getinventive and scientific in the kitchen, there is Heston Bluementhal’s brilliant book The Fat Duck Cookbook, which combines vivid illustrations and wacky recipes for a truly great cooking experience. Overall, the ten books that compose this best cooking books list all offer friendly, easy to follow guidance which enables you to not only enjoy them as books, but also enjoy them as learning tools that will one day make you the king of the kitchen.

Bon appetit ladies and gents.

Book Marketing Techniques: Those That Backfire

Authors need to promote their books, but there’s a right and a wrong way to market, and wanting to sell a book is no excuse for not retaining your manners. No one likes a pushy salesman. Here are some examples of ways I’ve seen authors try to sell their books that have been a total turn-off for me. Authors, make sure you aren’t using these techniques. I’ve listed them in order from what are, in my opinion, least to most annoying.

Lying about Your Book’s Greatness

I’ve seen authors lie about how wonderful their books are in several ways.

  1. Having non-credible book endorsements, both on their websites and books’ back covers. By non-credible, I mean having an endorsement signed by “A.K. in Hawaii” or “A Teacher in San Diego.” If these people don’t want to give their names, they probably don’t support your book enough to want to stand by their comments, and they aren’t going to convince me that your book is worth reading. At the very least, you want full names, and a blurb from Tom Smith isn’t going to mean much to me anyway, unless you’ve written a book about healthcare and he’s Dr. Tom Smith from the Cancer Treatment Center of Miami, or something along those lines. If you can’t get experts on your book’s topic or celebrities or other authors to endorse your book, you’re better off just not including any testimonials so it doesn’t look like false promotion.
  2. False testimonials. Yes, I’ve seen false testimonials and heard authors tell me about them. “A.K. in Hawaii” might be the author’s next door neighbor, a real person who really read the book, but he might just as well be someone the author made up. I know of one author who had a comment page on his website, and about once a week, he would post a comment under a false name raving about his book to try to convince his website visitors how popular and wonderful his book was. The sad thing is that this author’s book truly was terrible, full of grammar mistakes and typos and badly printed, so anyone who read the book knew those comments had to be lies or written by completely crazy people.

Showing Off Your Big Ego

Too many authors try to promote themselves in ridiculous ways by writing on their websites how their book is a “must read” and contains the answer to all the reader’s problems. If you have to tell readers that, they aren’t going to believe you. Go find some legitimate testimonials from reliable people who will say those things about your book. You are not qualified to judge your own book because you have a vested interest in it.

The worst example of authors showing their egos that I’ve seen is when they post book reviews for themselves on Amazon and other online bookstores, and of course, they give their books five stars and brag about how great their books are. When I see an author give himself a five-star review, I realize the author is clueless about what is legitimate as a review; he hasn’t done his homework about the publishing industry, and he is trying to use trickery to sell his book. Not only will I not buy the book, but if there’s an option to vote on the review, I will always vote that it was not helpful.

Being In Your Face and Violating Personal Space

No one likes to have his or her personal space violated. However, not everyone has yet learned that the Internet also contains personal space for people. It’s one thing to have your book for sale on your website, at online bookstores, to promote it at websites for book promotion, or to buy Internet ads. It’s another thing to invade other online users’ personal space.

Here are some book marketing efforts I’ve experienced online that have been a total turn-off for me.

  1. Repetitive and Unwanted Emails. I’ve had this happen more times than I can count. Somehow an author finds my email address and adds it to his email list and I start hearing from him every couple of days about all his book events and why I should buy his book. Even if I want to be on the person’s email list, sending me an email every couple of days is irritating. An email once a month or even once a week isn’t that bad, but I have other things to do than read about your book events on the East Coast when I live in Texas, and I am not going to hop on a plane to attend your book signing, especially if I’ve already read your book and had it signed. And if you’ve added me to your email list without my permission, well, technically, that’s illegal.
  2. Sending Friend Requests at Social Media Sites Solely to Promote Your Book. If people are interested in your book, they will request to be your friend at a social media site. Instead of spam friend requests, take out a Facebook ad that will be targeted toward the people most likely to read your book. It might cost you a little more money, but it will save you time online and provide you with far better results.
  3. Posting Book Covers on Other People’s Walls. My “Wall” is not the place to promote your book. My friends are not posting on my Wall so they can find out about your book. Get off my Wall!
  4. Messaging. No one likes junk mail, so don’t send me a message about how great your book is and how I can buy it. I only want messages from my real friends.
  5. Chatting. This one I especially find irritating. One day I was on Facebook, and an author, whom I didn’t know and who had already sent me three messages trying to tell me how great his book was and to let me know I could get it on Kindle for just $2.99, sent me a chat message about his book. If I don’t reply to your message, I sure don’t want to chat with you. I politely ignored him and logged off Facebook rather than tell him to quit harassing me. I wasn’t going to engage in an argument with him. But let’s be clear-I’m on Facebook to chat with my real friends. Not to read your book.

Sadly, space violations don’t only happen online. I was once at a book festival where an author made a point of going up to people walking by her booth with a set of headphones and quickly placing them over her victims’ ears before they could object so they could listen to her audio book. When I saw what was going on, I quickly turned down the nearest aisle and avoided that side of the room for the rest of the time I was there. I’ve also stopped to look at books at festivals where authors have said things such as “Why don’t you buy this book?” and “What can I do to get you to buy my book?” You can let me be is what you can do. Tell me about the book if you like, give me a chance to read the back cover, and then I’ll buy or move on. I don’t need a pushy sales pitch.

Have you ever met an author who behaves in these ways? I sure have-too many times. Perhaps you are even one of those authors. Hopefully, now you know better. Let’s face it-guerrilla book promotion doesn’t work when you act like you have a gorilla’s manners. Connect with your readers, but do it on their terms, without being pushy or rude. Be friendly, be straightforward, but also be willing to take “No” for an answer. When you are polite, you always make a better impression on your potential readers.