What kind of reader are you? (survey!)

I have something a little fun and different for us today!

Every night after we’ve cooked and cleaned up dinner, Jarrett and I turn to each other and say “Sooo…should we read tonight? Or watch TV?”

That’s how exciting we are.

But really: those are about the only two leisure activities we like after a long day of work, and each one has about a 50/50 shot of winning out, based on how brain-tired we feel from the workday. But it got me to thinking: people fit reading into their days in such different ways!

I know a lot of people who read for a few minutes on their morning commutes, or can only squeeze in 30 minutes during a lunch break, or who rely on audiobooks to keep them up with their to-be-read lists. But everyone I know wishes they could read more.

So I thought it would be fun to do a little survey called “What kind of reader are you?”

what kind of reader are you

Click here to take the survey!

You can tell me all about what books you’re reading, what challenges you’re facing in your reading life, what genres or categories you most love to read, and more! I’d love to hear all about you. The survey is 7 very brief, mostly multiple-choice questions, so it shouldn’t take longer than 3 minutes to complete.

At the end of the survey, you’ll also find a box for telling me anything else you’d like me to know about you–anything from what you’re working on, what your writing struggles are, or what you’d like me to write about next. I take personal requests very seriously, so if there’s something you want me to talk about specifically on the blog, now’s your chance to get all those questions answered!

And since there’s nothing more fun than talking about books, I’ll share the results next week, so you can see how you stack up against the other readers in our little community!

The survey will be open until this Monday, July 24th at 5 EST and will close after that.

I can’t wait to hear from you and share the insights with you all next week!

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What I’m Reading This Week:

Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead (James Clear): I recently discovered James Clear’s site and have been really enjoying his writing on habits and learning systems. James wrote the equivalent of two books in one year (!!), and he did it by setting up systems, inspired by this Wall Street Journal article he read by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. Success comes down to committing to the process, and if you need a little reminder of that, here’s a free printable art print I created to remind you that you can’t rush something you want to last forever.

you can't rush something you want to last forever quote printable

Best Books of 2017 (So Far) (Book Riot): Maybe you need something new to read right now? Here are the best books from the first half of this year–browse away!

Rebecca Solnit on a Childhood of Reading and Wandering (Literary Hub) “There are ecological reasons to question how books are made out of trees but metaphysical reasons to rejoice in the linkage between forests and libraries, here in this public library, in the town I grew up in, with the fiber from tens of thousands of trees rolled out into paper, printed and then bound into books, stacked up in rows on the shelves that fill this place and make narrow corridors for readers to travel through, a labyrinth of words that is also an invitation to wander inside the texts.”

3 Ways to an Acquisition Editor’s Heart (Chad R. Allen): These 3 things are also what I look for in potential authors. This is a great piece for any writer climbing up the mountain toward publication.

A Taste for Books (Monte Burke in Garden & Gun): Rick Ellis has a stunning collection of vintage cookbooks socked away in his gorgeous New York City loft, and this piece takes you through the highlights of his Southern cookbooks. I get a little giddy reading articles like these (cookbooks! everywhere!) and especially loved the shoutout to my old favorite, The Virginia Housewife.


What We’re Eating This Week:

It’s hot out; we’ve been gone every weekend (camping, beach, etc.); and the fanciness factor in our kitchen is at an all-time low. And yet, I just can’t stop scratching that itch to meal plan and cook something that sounds like something (i.e., not hot dogs) every night. What is wrong with me? Next week, I swear to eat hot dogs for dinner one night, and not even with any fancy toppings, either. It is the summer after all, and I need a break.

Monday: Jarrett picked the One-Pot Shells with Broccoli recipe from SkinnyTaste: Fast and Slow, and I added sautéed chicken to it because I like complicating things. (It was good!)

Tuesday: We could have chosen one vegetable curry recipe to make, but after a long day of stretching your brain and making decisions, isn’t it so much more fun to compile multiple recipes and ideas and substitutions until you have one FrankenCurry and no thoughts at all left in your brain? Tuesday, you won.

Wednesday: Out! Beautiful, beautiful restaurant food.

Thursday: Okay, so there’s this fast casual chain in the DC area called CAVA, and they serve breakfast at only one of their spots nationwide: the Reagan Airport location. I had the egg and lentil bowl there last summer on my way to LA for BlogHer, and inexplicably, I was attacked this week by the most horrendous craving for THAT EXACT BREAKFAST. All I can think about is soft scrambled eggs and black lentils. Which means I shall spend tonight maniacally trying to recreate all 87 of CAVA’s bowl components, using this recipe as a guideline. I either have too much time on my hands or a complete lack of good judgment. Maybe both! Woo.

Friday: Chicken Fil-A on our way to the beach. My good judgment is redeemed.

Cheers!

 

The only program I’ll recommend for writers + bloggers

It’s Friday, and it’s summer, and probably the last thing on your mind is next week’s to-dos. Pepper is definitely checked out already:

literary agent book blog

(Job update: our local post office is hiring, and we’re helping Pepper work on her resume and cover letter so she can apply. Progress is slow. Hope is dwindling.)

Anyway, if you give me your ear for just 2 minutes on this pretty summer Friday, I want to tell you about one of my favorite things ever: Food Blogger Pro, which is closing for enrollment this coming Tuesday, the 27th.

If you don’t know Lindsay and Bjork of Pinch of Yum, they’re behind FBP, and they run one of the best blogs out there. Let’s pause on that thought: they run one of the best blogs out there. Not best food blogs, but best blogs, period. (And yes, FBP is great for all kinds of bloggers!)

I’ve worked with hundreds of bloggers, all who were already at the peak of their games, since by the time they get to me, we’re talking about publishing a book. I’ve read and scouted and sorted through thousands of blogs over the years, and there are only (and forgive me for saying it, but literally) 5 blogs I follow regularly, religiously, excitedly. Pinch of Yum is one of them.

And you know why? It’s not about the food. (But you should definitely eat this, because WEEKEND.

It’s because Lindsay and Bjork have what every blogger and writer wants:

an authentic voice + a big-time platform + integrity.

Lindsay and Bjork can teach you how to grow a blog and make a fantastic income from your writing, without having to be one of those shout-y, pushy marketing types who make the internet just plain annoying.

As you all know, I almost never recommend courses in this space. (Because the truth is: most “experts” out there aren’t experts. They’re just trying to brand themselves as experts. And part of my job is weeding out the true experts from the hyped-up, big-talkers.)

But I have the utmost respect for Food Blogger Pro because I’ve seen it produce dozens of top-tier bloggers who went on to get big book deals. Everybody who comes out of FBP, whether they’re a food blogger or blog about anything else under the sun, has that special mix of voice + platform + integrity. And I won’t name names, but probably some of your favorite authors have gone through FBP in the many years it’s been running.

And because I could shout about FBP from the rooftops all day, but I promised I’d only take up a few minutes of your precious Friday, here are just 2 more things I especially love about it:

  • Learn From The Best: Every writer and blogger I know dreams of making a full-time income from their words, but they don’t know how to get traffic or monetize their creative work. Every month, Pinch of Yum makes between $40,000 to $60,000 in income and receives over 4,000,000 page views. Why learn from someone else when you can learn from the best?
  • It’s a Surprisingly Great Deal: You get 300+ videos, access to a forum where you can ask more experienced bloggers anything (!), and discounts to tools you really need, like ConvertKit, Tailwind, SwankyPrints, and others. Also, because they’re overachievers, this year Lindsay and Bjork are also including their Edit Academy course (which teaches you how to make food videos and usually sells for $129) and Nutrifox (which is their nutrition labeling tool and costs $89/year) in FBP membership. Which by the way, costs only $29 per month. Which by the way, is less than I spend on treats for Pepper each month. Which by the way, results in no return whatsoever in my investment.

But enough from me–if you’re interested in learning more, you can read all about Food Blogger Pro here. If you decide it’s for you, you can use my link to get 10% off membership. I get a tiny percentage if you use my link; you get a great discount off the retail price; Pepper gets an allowance to buy treats. That’s a win-win-woof. (I couldn’t stop myself! Please forgive me.)

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The 5 best books for writers

Jarrett came home from work the other day waving a new book, which one of the editors at his office said was essential reading for writers. Excuse me, I said, but we have that book already, and I could have told you all about it if I had known you wanted more reading assignments.

(I’m always telling Jarrett, “You really should read this book—you’d like it!” when I finish a book. I think his backlog of books I really, really think he should read is really, really long and really, really ignored.)

I was in such a huff that someone had beat me to recommending On Writing Well that I pulled out my yellowing copy from the shelf and forced on him a dramatic reading of my favorite quotes as we ate dinner. (I’ve learned that the best place to trap someone is at the dinner table, and I think this is a free and fair trade for all the cooking I do.)

Anyway, as Jarrett sat rapt, or maybe bored, I told him all about how, at my first job as an editorial assistant at a NYC publisher, one of the executive editors had called me into her corner office, handed me a stack of 10 books about writing, and told me to start there, but that I could come back for more soon.

I had been working as a paralegal at a law firm beforehand, so I thought it was the coolest thing ever that I got to read books about writing instead of police reports. But 10 books is no small stack, and I didn’t know where to start.

best books for writers

So consider this my starter stack for you—these are the 5 books I’d most recommend to any writer, whether an aspiring writer, an established writer, or anyone who has to write or blog for a living. These are the best books for writers; the best books to teach you how to get published; the best books to make you feel less alone and hair-pull-y all the time.

Maybe others have beat me to recommending some of these books on writing to you, but I promise not to get huffy about it, and I hope you’ll still find one or two new gems here:

 

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How a book taught me how to travel better

We’re baaack! After two whole weeks in Greece–completely disconnected, fully honeymooning, and gloriously eating–we’re back to our daily routines and our screens. It’s a little weird to go from full days of being out in “the real world” (aka, not online) to spending 8+ hours a day staring at these little boxes we call computers, but it has also felt so, so good to be productive and have a sense of purpose again. Turns out, I’m one of those travelers that needs some useful work to do in between the gyro-inhaling and beach-sprawling.

I don’t know how I got so lucky, but it turned out that my author Jaime Kurtz’s book, The Happy Traveler: Unpacking the Secrets of Better Vacations, published just in time for this big, glorious, and very long vacation we had planned for ourselves. So even though I was thousands of miles away, I got to spend long hours on the beach listening to her wise voice tell me exactly how I could squeeze every last drop of goodness out of our honeymoon.

secrets to better travel

As I wrote about here, Jaime pitched me her book idea at the Writer’s Digest Conference, and I immediately said, “I NEED that book!” That’s the same reaction I got from every editor I later pitched the idea to, and the same reaction I get from nearly every person I tell about it. I honestly don’t know how I spent my whole life traveling without this book!

To give you a sense of how the pitching process works, here’s an excerpt from the pitch letter I sent, along with the proposal, to editors:

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