10 book art prints to inspire you to read more

Jarrett and I watched The Little Prince last week, and I am smitten. Why had no one told me how cute this movie was when it first came out?!

I loved every bit of it: the gorgeous paper cut-out animation, the thoughtfully done adaptation and expansion of the storyline, the themes of finding adventure and wonder in books. The movie did a great job of keeping the ethereal and delicate tone of the book yet overlaying the struggles of modern life: how the cult of productivity and busyness has made for less spontaneous and unscheduled childhoods (and adulthoods!).

It made me feel like a little kid again–it’s that same happy, giddy feeling you get when you read a great book. So, in honor of The Little Prince, the start of spring, and the very cutest Google doodle (did you catch it on Monday?), I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite reading illustrations and art prints.

Reading and book art prints

I have a whole board of reading and book art prints on Pinterest, and sometimes I just open them up to smile and remember what it is that I love so much in books. (Follow me there, if you want more!)

10 Reading Art Prints to Remind You to Believe in Books

Reading and book art prints

(Source: Simini Blocker)

Reading and book art prints 7

(Source: Doodlemum)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: unknown)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: unknown)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: part of a WPA series)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: Monica Castanys)

   Reading and book art prints 5

(Source: Book/Shop)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: Book Geek Confessions)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: Sarah Wilkins)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: unknown)


What I’m Reading This Week

Stop Focusing on Follower Count: 5 Better Approaches for Improving Social Media Use (Andrea Dunlop on JaneFriedman.com): This is such great advice–I see follower count trip up so many authors, yet it just isn’t an accurate predictor of the success of your book. Instead, focus on these 5 goals to stay motivated as you grow your author platform.

Writing the review in advance (Seth Godin): “The last click someone clicks before they buy something isn’t the moment they made up their mind. … We lay clues. That’s what it takes to change the culture and to cause action. The thing we make matters (a lot). But the breadcrumbs leading up to that thing, the conversations we hear, the experiences that are shared, the shadow we cast–we start doing that days, months and years before.”

The business of posting recipes online (Dreena Burton of Plant-Powered Kitchen): There isn’t a blogger out there who hasn’t had to work through this same emotional mire of seeing their work copied without credit, so it’s great to see a blogger discuss this so openly and yet so positively.

5 Scientifically Verified Reasons You’ll Hate Yourself if You Stop Writing (Chad Allen): “So much of winning at the writing game can be summarized succinctly in the immemorial words of Dory in Finding Nemo: Just keep swimming.”

How I Won 12 Book Awards for My Memoir (Judith Newton on Dianne Jacob’s blog):  Memoir can be a tough category to break-out in, so start here if you’re looking for ways to build buzz for your work!

10 Empowering Writer’s Retreats for Women (Ellen Turner on The Write Life): Feeling a little blah or overwhelmed in your writing life? Sounds like you need a retreat!


What We’re Eating This Week

What’s for dinner? Why, I thought you’d never ask!

Monday: Grilled shrimp greek salads, because Monday.

Tuesday: Chicken fajitas, made with a recipe by my author Robyn of Add a Pinch (Have you preordered her gorgeous book yet? It’s a weeknight lifesaver!)

Wednesday: Spaghetti with salumi and endives, adapted from Back Pocket Pasta by Colu Henry. Lordy, I love that book.

Thursday: The notes in my phone say: “Asian slow-cooked beef and mushrooms with rice and broccoli and snow peas.” AKA throw everything in the fridge in a pot, cover in sauce, cook, and serve over rice. #fancy

Friday: Last weekend Jarrett and I went to this fabulous event at the Museum of American History about the women behind America’s first cookbooks, and they demoed chicken croquettes and tomato butter sauce from The Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph. All I had to hear was “add a stick of butter to the tomato sauce” and, boom, it was added to the meal plan. I’m powerful like that. (But actually, please say a little prayer for me in executing these–I’m cooking them as a birthday dinner for my mother-in-law and want them not to be, as Mary Randolph would put it, intolerable.)

Cheers!

 

6 mindfulness practices to relax into your work

It’s 77 degrees in Alexandria today. (What?!)

Spring is popping up in every corner, and Pepper has had more long walks this past week than she knows what to do with. She loves to chase squirrel trails (which I’m convinced she’s just pretending to pick up on so that she can go berserk), and she runs so fast that she practically drags my lazy butt down the running path.

mindfulness practices for writers

But it feels so good to finally be entering into spring—I love that feeling of both new energy and slow growth. It’s equal parts raring-to-go and stop-and-sniff-the-flowers (or be dragged away from the flowers by your embarrassingly athletic dog).

Isn’t that the same balance we strive to keep in our work? Excited and energetic, yet still calm, composed, and present. Which isn’t easy for writers—I think nearly every writer or blogger would own up to being neurotic or perfectionistic or overachievers or wound a little too tight in one way or another. (I think their agent might be guilty of this, too. Ahem.)

So today I’m sharing 6 mindfulness practices that can help bring a little more zen into your day-to-day work. I think we’re all guilty sometimes of being so results-oriented and efficiency-driven that we completely forget that we actually like doing this work that’s in front of us.

I know that happens to me all the time! Half the time that I’m editing proposals or answering emails my shoulders are so tense and my jaw so clenched that it feels like I’m shouldering through some sort of terrible trial. But in reality, I love editing proposals, and I love chatting on email with my authors. With just a few calming breaths and some of these mindfulness practices, I’m reminded that I love this work I do and that it’s okay to relax and enjoy it.

Maybe the same thing happens to you?

You sit down to write and find yourself so pressured by the ticking clock or the word count or your own expectations that your whole body tenses up?

Or maybe you find yourself knotted into a ball of stress as you’re drafting query letters, or writing social media posts, or responding to email?

If so, head on over and read this article on The Kitchn!

It’s framed around work in the kitchen, but these practices can just as easily be applied to showing up at your computer to write or facing a stack of pages to edit.

I hope it’s a little reminder in the middle of your week that, once we learn to relax into our tasks, anything can become the soothing and meaningful experience we search for in meditation and yoga. So for those of you who show up to a manuscript or a computer or a kitchen every day, remember to breathe, feeling deep gratitude for this moment, right here, right now, with this work.

Mindfulness Practices for writers


What I’m Reading This Week

Ready to Learn How to Write With Purpose? (Kristen Kieffer of Well-Storied): Since we’re chatting about being purposeful today, it was perfect timing that Kristen released this free 46-page workbook! Aren’t we all trying to bridge the gap between what our ideal workday looks like and our actual habits? If you’re nodding “yes” along with me, then this is a great resource to help you take a few more steps toward getting it right.

The Why of Urgent Vs. Important (Seth Godin): “The reason we go for urgent is that it makes us feel competent. We’re good at it. We didn’t used to be, but we are now. Important, on the other hand, is fraught with fear, with uncertainty and with the risk of failure. Now that you know why, you can dance with it.”

Remember Chutes and Ladders? Book Publishing is Just Like the Game (Emily Wenstrom on The Write Life): This is a great inside look at how to speed up (or slow down) your journey toward reaching your publishing goals. And yes! Be bold and chase down any leads, always staying professional along the way.

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds (Elizabeth Kolbert for The New Yorker): “People believe that they know way more than they actually do. What allows us to persist in this belief is other people. In the case of my toilet, someone else designed it so that I can operate it easily. This is something humans are very good at. We’ve been relying on one another’s expertise ever since we figured out how to hunt together, which was probably a key development in our evolutionary history. So well do we collaborate, Sloman and Fernbach argue, that we can hardly tell where our own understanding ends and others’ begins.”

12 Tips for Pitching Articles to Publications and Websites (Dianne Jacob): Essential tips for pitching to both online and print outlets! Make sure you scan through these before starting in on pitching a piece.


What We’re Eating This Week

Another week without traveling for work means lots of fun things to cook! And would you believe this: we ended up with the pickiest eater of a dog. I’m now the world’s most accomplished chopper-upper of hot dogs. There has to be a culinary award in this.

Monday: Ah, Monday. I always feel better about you if I have a salad on deck for dinner. Otto-inspired Italian chopped salad it is (with extra salami, of course).

Tuesday: Soboro beef with rice and broccoli, using this Bon Appétit recipe. Easy, yummy, and not a hot dog. Checks all the boxes!

Wednesday: Thai chicken and rice noodle soup, from my author Jenn of Once Upon a Chef. Because springtime means soup…? I don’t know, I just wanted soup. Welp.

Thursday: Arroz cubano, just like my Yaya makes! Start by packing some white rice into a cup, turn it over, and shake it out to form a little mountain. Then top with whatever kind of tomato sauce you like and a crispy-edged, olive-oil-fried egg. Kids love it; adults love it; dogs better not decide they love it.

Friday: ??? I have no idea. Can we have gin and tonics for dinner?

Cheers!

6 bookish instagram accounts to inspire you

Best book Instagram for writers

Now that we’re back from our epic Appalachian road trip, I am kicking myself that I didn’t take more pictures! I’ve always been one of those stay-in-the-moment rather than capture-the-moment types, which is all well and good until you’re home from a fantastic trip and don’t have a single thing to look back on.

Luckily, Jarrett is great at taking pictures along the way–he captured the gorgeous mountain views, the fog rolling through the hills, the happy reunion we had with our grandpuppies, and even the working moments. We also had so many uncaptured, incredibly fun moments of eating, drinking, and meeting with local chefs and producers across western Virginia, eastern Tennessee, and western North Carolina.

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IMG_1759 IMG_1760

So, in the hopes that you all learn from my mistakes and take photos of favorite moments, I thought I’d share the photographers who most inspire me on Instagram.

I know many writers initially think Instagram isn’t for them–they chalk it off as frivolous or just another distraction. But Instagram can be a key pillar of your author platform if you learn how to make it fun. It’ll give you right back as much as you put into it–if you following aspiring authors, book bloggers, publishing folks, or other influencers in your area, your feed will be full of all the things you find interesting. If you don’t follow too many people, or you don’t share photos and use hashtags strategically, you’ll find Instagram to be a boring, closed-universe space.

There are only two things you need to do to both enjoy Instagram and use it to effectively grow your audience:

  1. Research and follow the people and businesses you find fascinating.

  2. Share your own life, and use the right hashtags so others can find you.

Here’s a head-start on both of those items–these are the feeds I’m going heart-eyes for these days, plus the best hashtags for jumping into the bookish conversation on Instagram:

Obvious State

Best book instagram
This is one of the most gorgeous feeds, full of elegant images and inspiring quotes from classic books. You can also bring the book beauty home with the company’s art prints, tote bags, and other merchandise, which are designed by Nichole and Evan Robertson.

Book Baristas

best instagram for books

Natasha from Book Baristas works at Penguin Books by day but also runs this fantastic account full of hot drinks and hotter reads.

Girls at Library

best instagram for books

I love the interviews and different perspectives on how books + storytelling has shaped the lives of other women (with lots of beautiful still-life shots of women reading!).

Write Now Podcast

best instagram for books

The Write Now Instagram feed is my favorite for inspiring quotes, beautiful images, and motivation for the writing life. It’ll keep you clued in on what’s happening on the Write Now Podcast, too.

Book of the Month Club

best instagram for books

Even if you don’t get their book-in-a-box subscription service, the Book of the Month Instagram feed still has plenty to fill up your day with reading inspiration.

Books and Beans

best instagram for books

Books. Coffee. Sometimes even donuts. What more could you want?

The Hashtags You Should Know

To get the most enjoyment and conversation out of Instagram, make sure you’re also including relevant hashtags with your posts. This is how new people can find you, and it’s a great way to make Insta-friends with people who love the same things you do.

Here are some of the most popular book hashtags:

#bibliophile #booklover #bookphotography #bookworm #booknerd #reading #readwithus #bookblog #bookblogger #bookish #bookaddict #igreads #bookstagram #vscobook #bookporn #instagood #booknerdigans #instareads #📖 #📚 #writing #books #vscobooks #bookgram #booklover #publishing #wip #amwriting #pubtip #authors #writers #bookpublishing #instagood

And here are a few daily hashtags to play with:

#MondayMotivation
#WriterWednesday
#ThrowbackThursday
#FridayReads

And because you know you’ll also be tempted to post photos of your food, here are some of the top food and recipe hashtags:

#buzzfeast #eeeeeats #f52grams #foodgasm #instagood #feedfeed #foodandwine #huffposttaste #buzzfeedfood #yahoofood #instafood #fwx #thekitchn #thatsdarling #foodblogeats #foodblogfeed #foodandwine #beautifulcuisines #favecraves #theeverygirl #marthafood #RSlove

Are there any other Instagrammers I should be following? Or any great hashtags I’m missing out on?


What I’m Reading This Week:

How I Wrote a Book (Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind): Here are 15 tidbits that answer how Erin Loechner wrote her just-released book, Chasing Slow. I adore this cover, and this concept, and though I’m new to Erin’s work, I love every bit of her aesthetic.

Publishing a Cookbook: Food Photography, Part Two (Rachel and Polly of Thriving Home): My authors, Rachel and Polly, have been doing a fantastic behind-the-scenes series on the making of their cookbook, and this post will give you a great look into how publisher-run recipe shoots work. (Yes, they actually cook every dish! And eat it all, too.)

3 Strategies to Guarantee Your Writing Will Attract an Audience (Chad Allen on Medium): “Here’s a question worth asking: If you knew for sure the next piece you published would attract readers, would you still feel aimless? Would you write with more energy and excitement? Would you be less likely to procrastinate?”

Adult Nonfiction Stayed Hot in 2016 (Jim Milliot for Publisher’s Weekly): Understanding the macro of the book market is just as important as understanding the trends and changes in your specific category. If nothing else, it’ll give you clear insight into which categories editors and agents will be expanding their lists into and which categories they’ll be slowing down on.


What We’re Eating This Week

Monday: We were in Asheville on Monday, and we had dinner at The Admiral, which completely lived up to its rep. Get the pimento mac & cheese.

Tuesday: We were spent from touring The Biltmore House, lunching at King Daddy’s Chicken and Waffles, and beer-ing at Wicked Weed, so we had a quiet and simple meal in the Library Lounge at the Biltmore Inn.

Wednesday: Dinner at The Shack in Staunton, Virginia! The best meal of our trip. I am hugely happy to see restaurants of this caliber expanding into the wide world that exists outside of the major cities.

Thursday: Back at home. Penitence salad for dinner.

Friday: Penitence soup.

Saturday: Back to the revelry–we’re having a crew of friends over for an Appalachian themed potluck. I’ll leave you with this image of what we’re serving them:

IMG_1762

Cheers!

4 Emotional Obstacles That Trip Writers Up

4 Fears Writers Face Literary Agent (short)

Well, happy summer and happy Friday to you all! Today I’m over on Chad Allen’s blog, where he graciously hosted me for a guest post about the fears I most often have to talk my authors through. If you missed Chad’s wonderful guest post about how editors review and acquire proposals, then hop back there for some great insight.

And if you want to start this gorgeous weekend off feeling a little more ready to conquer the obstacles that lie ahead, here’s a great start:

4 Emotional Obstacles That Trip Writers Up, Plus How to Work Through Them

I often laughingly say that the job of a literary agent is to be a therapist and coach as much as a negotiator and advocate. It’s funny, but it’s true. On an average day we’re just as likely to be talking an author off the ledge as negotiating a contract.

Through this I’ve found one thing to be unfailingly true: the creative process can drive you batty.

I see how authors pour their entire hearts and souls into their books, sometimes sharing the deepest parts of themselves with the world. And I’ve seen how this often leaves them vulnerable to all kinds of fear and doubt. But I’m a firm believer that 80 percent of the creative battle is won in the mind. That’s why authors often need the perspective and encouragement of a friend and agent to talk them through the particularly tough parts.

After walking dozens of authors through the publishing process, I’ve come across many of the same emotional sand traps, just waiting to swallow up an unsuspecting writer. So today let’s pretend we’re sitting across from each other, sipping lattes and catching up, and let’s talk through some of the emotional obstacles that may come up on your path as a writer…

Click here to keep reading this post on Chad’s blog!

 

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4 Fears Writers Face Literary Agent (long)