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.

Cleaning Out The Clutter – 7 Steps To Sell Or Donate Used Books

It’s a good feeling to get your house cleaned up and the clutter removed, disposing of things you don’t need or don’t use any longer. And books — those dusty relics taking up space on your bookshelves or squirreled away in boxes in the attic — often become the target of most house de-cluttering campaigns. How long has it been that you’ve read that book? Do you really need it any longer? Why not get rid of it?

But, before you haul those used books off to the dump, take a little time learning about how to sell or donate used books to help local charities raise money, to recycle resources, and even earn some extra cash for your family.

Used books are hot sellers online. Websites like Amazon.com, eBay.com and CraigsList.org are filled with listings of used books. Some popular titles are no longer in print, so their value keeps skyrocketing. Some niche titles are collectible or hard-to-find. Some titles contain in-depth ‘how-to’ information people are searching for online. And, some titles simply help people save money by buying used over pricier new books.

In any case, take the time to follow these 7 steps to check typical pricing of used books before you dispose of them.

Step 1 – Gather your books you want to get rid of in one space, preferably one that has a large table for your to work. Your dining room table will do just fine.

Step 2 – Separate out fiction from non-fiction. The best titles to sell online are non-fiction, ‘how-to’ titles.

Step 3 – Sort the fiction titles into two boxes: Keep and Yard Sale. In the “Keep” box, I would put early or first editions of famous writers like Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Rudyard Kipling. In the “Yard Sale” box, I would put popular fiction by authors like Dan Brown, Nora Roberts, Stephen King or Sandra Brown, plus anything from book clubs, slightly damaged books, recipe and cooking books, weight loss books and the stacks of magazines you want to get rid of fast.

Step 4 – Sort the non-fiction into two boxes: Keep and Yard Sale. In the “Keep” box, I would put biographies, history, how-to, pet, religious, UFO alien and crop circle books (big sellers!), relationship books, travel books, homeschooling topics, and any other books which look to be of a limited press run or contain unique content. Sometimes even small booklets on health topics sell very well online. In the “Yard Sale” box, put in Time-Life, Rodale Press, or Reader’s Digest books (these seldom sell online for enough to cover your shipping costs), books that are heavily marked up with writing or highlighting, outdated college textbooks, and heavily used children’s books, dictionaries, or self-help reference books.

Any damaged books, moldy books, or those titles that have torn, crinkled covers or are missing pages, throw them away now.

Step 5 – Sit down in front of your computer. Log onto Amazon.com with your “Keep” box on one side of you, and your “Yard Sale” box on the other side of your chair. Take the first book from the “Keep” box and set it next to your computer keyboard, face down. Somewhere on the back cover you should see an ISBN (“ISBN” stands for “International Standard Book Number,” which since the mid-1960s has helped the publishing industry keep track of millions of books).

Type that book’s unique 10-digit (sometimes a 13-digit) ISBN into the search bar at the top of the Amazon.com webpage. If you cannot locate the ISBN on the back cover or on the book publisher info page, then simply type in the title of the book, as you might very well find it that way too. Scan through the results until you find the book that matches the front cover of your book.

Now, click on the image or the book title, find the correct format (hardcover or paperback) and then select “Used” pricing. Your used book results page should deliver several pages of book listings for sale right now.

Don’t be surprised if the first few books are priced a $.01. Scroll down the page. If by the 5th or 6th listing you start to see pricing rise up to $6, $7, $10 dollars, keep it and list it for sale later. You’ll earn anywhere from $3 to $7 each when these sell. If you see the first two pages containing nothing but $.01 books, then place your book in the “Yard Sale” box to the side of your chair. Click back to the Amazon homepage. Pick up the next book. Repeat until you’re finished.

Step 6 – When you’re done, your “Keep” box stack will be quite small compared with your “Yard Sale” boxes (yes, you will have more than one by now!). Pack those boxes tightly, tape them up well with packing tape, and store them in a closet or corner of a room in your home that is dry, out of the sun, and has low humidity. When springtime comes and you hold a big yard sale to dispose of unwanted items, unpack all your “Yard Sale” fiction and non-fiction book boxes, set them out on a long table, spine facing up, and sell them for 25 cents to $1 each. On the final day of your sale, offer up a “bag sale” — that is, let people stuff a shopping bag full of books into a bag for $2. You’ll be amazed how many books will fly off that table!

Step 7 – When the yard sale is done, take the remaining fiction and non-fiction books to your favorite local non-profit thrift store or church charity shop to donate them. These old books often have a long lifespan, kept alive by browsers who frequent these stores looking for bargains and wanting to help support the non-profit. Ask the store manager if you can get a donation tax receipt before the books get unloaded. I have done this in the past, and I’ve gotten a generous tax deduction on books I would otherwise have had to haul off to the recycling center. Remember first to dispose of any soiled, moldy books, otherwise you’ll be burdening the charity shop instead of helping them.

Now, somewhere in the steps between when you checked the online price for your used books and you haul the unwanted old books off the charity shop, you’ll want to keep busy in your spare time by listing the books left over in your “Keep” boxes at online websites to raise extra cash.

I recommend listing on the Amazon Marketplace, then expand to other websites if you need to. Start slow, learning how the system works, and price your books competitively to move them quickly.

By considering the sales rank of your book, you’ll have a fairly decent idea of how quickly it will sell. If it is in the top 100,000 of Amazon sales, it should sell within 1-3 months. If a title is selling used for $7.50, price yours at $6.99. If a title is selling used at $20 or more, drop yours to $12-$15 for a quick sale.

My advice is that you not list your “Keep” books at less than $5.99, as you won’t earn much more than $2 each, and you’ll be running yourself ragged running back and forth to the Post Office. Likewise, I would not bother posting a book that has a sales rank above 5 million, as this book likely will add to your clutter forever, instead of leaving your home more open and less crowded — your ultimate goal in your home improvement housecleaning exercise in the first place.

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.