The Art of Writing: Four Principles for Great Writing That Everyone Needs to Know by Peter Yang, a Review

For the writer, there is no better way to spend a couple of hours than to read about how to write better, right? How about picking up The Art of Writing: Four Principles for Great Writing That Everyone Needs to Know by Peter Yang?

A short, quick read summarizing the basic elements of good writing, Yang’s book is a plethora of information for any aspiring or experienced writer. Peter Yang talks about four basic principles: economy, transparency, variety, and harmony. He breaks down each of these precepts in detail to explain what he deems an artistic writer. Peter concludes The Art of Writing with a section on practical advice: the importance of reading to write better, planning your writing sessions, writing every day, taking breaks, and more.

Peter Yang believes writers who express their ideas from their point of view, write clearly, and do not compromise their authentic voice and truth is what makes the difference between average writers and best-selling authors. Furthermore, artistic writers are meticulous, know and write for their audience, are sincere and do not lie to their readers, are not obsessed with perfection, and know when to break some of the rules. Artistic writers are humble and always learning. This kind of writing draws in the reader and stimulates him to contemplate what he reads.  

I was grateful to stumble upon this book. Although I have a writing degree and have written for years, I welcome a refresher on how to write concisely, coherently, cohesively, and artistically. Peter’s book is now on my bookshelf as a powerful guide on writing.  

I recommend The Art of Writing: Four Principles for Great Writing That Everyone Needs to Know to writers seeking to improve their craft, those aspiring to write their first book, or those looking for inspiration on the writing process. For students in college, this is a great book to carry in your backpack as a reference. You won’t be disappointed!

A bit about the author, Peter Yang:

Peter Yang is an international bestselling author of several books in the writing field, an award-winning Canadian writer, a public speaker, and an eternal student. Peter’s journalistic efforts have also appeared in many different papers and other news outlets across Ontario and beyond.

In addition to his literary career, Yang is an experienced entrepreneur with a track record of helping early-stage companies. He is the founder and CEO of Reviewerly, a tech startup focused on gathering customer reviews for online brands.

To purchase a copy of The Art of Writing: Four Principles for Great Writing That Everyone Needs to Know, or to learn more about Peter Yang, visit peteryangauthor.com.

Looking to publish your book? Visit TCKpublishing.com.

Kindness Online, Where Have You Gone?

Ever wonder what has happened to kindness on the internet? It sure seems like it has gone by the wayside, especially this year.

Lately – especially now with Covid-19, massive unemployment, and craziness all around this planet – there seems to be so many people becoming unhinged. So many angry posts and responses, everywhere.

I am not exempt. I have failed, too. I’ve posted things I had to remove because I realized I was contributing to the madness.

I keep asking myself if this is the type of world I want to live in, and the answer is, of course, an unequivocal, “NO!” But, I have to be honest: I have not always been kind online either. I have fallen into the trap of responding angrily. Not cool. I apologize for my behavior.

I’ve seen all kinds of ugly on social media lately, especially on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve been called some popular explicatives (I am sure you can imagine what that might entail), have been told I was stupid or can’t think, called all kinds of names, etc., simply for expressing an opinion (I usually don’t just spew off my opinion unless I can back it up with facts, by the way). I have been unfriended and blocked because I stood up for black people, women’s rights, human rights, and animal rights. I have done my fair share of deleting people as well.  

I have a love/hate relationship with social media.

Facebook is where I met my husband; it is where I found so many like-minded people who I consider good friends (even though we have not met in person); it is where I reunited with so many childhood pals, former coworkers, and others. I would be lost without it at this point. It is part of my life, and it’s been good to me. But, what has happened to kindness on the internet?

What have we become as a society? And, how can we fix this, and for goodness sake, be kinder?

I am not bashing or judging anyone here. I am simply asking for all of us to consider and practice more kindness. I am guilty of not being nice as well, so no judgement from me.

It is blatantly obvious on social media channels that people’s viewpoints and beliefs are on opposite ends of a wide spectrum these days: Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, Antifa, White Privilege, Fascism, LGBTQIA (most people don’t even know what that is), racism, women’s rights, Covid-19 (a hoax?), Cancel Culture, Trump this, Trump that, Biden this, Biden that, the Russians did it, and now we have Kanye West running for president (and, fill in the blank where I missed something please). The list goes on and on. So much negativity. It never stops.

Despite the media doing a superb job of constantly propagandizing and baiting us with the latest “breaking news,” I’d like to look at the big picture because I believe everything that is happening these days is a good thing.

Let me explain.

Due to the ongoing events of this unprecedented year 2020, people are unexpectedly being forced to review their beliefs and values. This is a positive thing. Nothing will change for the better if people are not willing to first examine their unconscious beliefs. Of course, there are those who will never do this and remain in their own self-imposed ignorance, but I am seeing many people rise to the occasion of inner reflection. This is a win for positive evolution.

Social change is messy. It takes time. It will show up like a monster on steroids. It is ugly. We are seeing the beginning of a new era of societal uprising. I believe we are in the mud right now. Those who value egalitarianism and human rights of all sorts are stepping out, marching, making headlines. We are witnessing the beginnings of good things to come.  

So, back to my original question: what happened to kindness on the internet? Better yet, what can we do to be kinder during this unparalleled time in history?

two female hands locking pinky fingers and wearing bead bracelets with a green tree background

I am committing myself to behaving better on the internet, especially on social media platforms (in addition to being part of the positive societal change). I am committing because I truly believe the world needs more kindness and more compassion (and it’s the right thing to do).  

By no means is this an exhaustive list, but this is what comes to mind:

I will ask myself what I want to accomplish before posting anything online.

What is the point of my post? Am I posting for a laugh, to educate, to convince, or to just share my day? If I am posting something negative or insulting, why am I doing this and what am I trying to accomplish? Very scary questions to ask, aren’t they?

I have posted some insensitive things in the past. I luckily have friends who care enough about me to call me out on it by not embarrassing me in public but by emailing me about it.  I appreciate that immensely, because although I am passionate about human and animal rights, and I am not a fan of the current president, I want to express that passion without being insulting to others.

You can, too.

I will ask questions before I assume something about a comment online.  

This one hit me hard recently.

I responded to someone on a Facebook post in a certain way because I assumed he meant something, when in fact, he meant something else. I should have clarified what he meant before responding. It was rude of me to just assume and put him in my “self-created mental box” and reply to him from that box.

Words are misconstrued relentlessly on social media, and since communication is mostly non-verbal, how are we to thoroughly understand what someone means on a Facebook or Twitter comment when it is not absolutely crystal clear? Yes, the writer has a responsibility to write clearly, but we know this is not always done. I firmly believe that a lot of miscommunication like this occurs on social media platforms and contributes to the unkindness on the internet.

It is my responsibility to clarify before I assume. As a matter of fact, this is something I should do in real life, all the time.

I will ask questions from now on if something is ambiguous.

You can, too.

I will respond, not react.  

There are so many horrible comments on social media sites. Most comments that I read are reactive, not responsive. They are ego-driven. I have contributed to this also at times, and I am ashamed to admit it. I have not taken the time to think before I responded, and instead, let my emotions cloud my decency and wrote something I regretted.

What I should have done is take a deep breath, put myself in the other person’s shoes as best as I can, think about what I wanted to express and why I wanted to express it, and then responded firmly but kindly.

Sometimes we are communicating with someone who is not at the same intellectual level or is not knowledgeable about a certain topic, and it is easy to insult them. This never works to change their minds, though. It only makes us jerks. I have found that when I take the time to respond by educating, the other person usually responds with kindness, even if we disagree. Once I have said my peace, I move on and do not engage further.

I will choose to respond after thinking about what I want to say. I will not react.  

You can, too.

I will delete and /or block people and move on, if necessary.

Deleting and blocking happens a lot on Facebook, especially, and I am not a novice to this. I will block or delete people who are rude to me or to my friends. I do not delete or block if we disagree. If someone cannot have an argument without insulting others, then I will remove them. I do not tolerate racism or extreme political or religious zealots.  

Sometimes, it is best not to engage with people who are diametrically opposed to my beliefs or values. Deleting or blocking is better than engaging in an argument with a potential stranger and being tempted to be unkind.

I will delete and block and not participate in unkind dialog.

You can, too.

If all of the above fails, I will close my browser and step away.

There is not much to say about this last point. If I am not in a place where I can be kind (for whatever momentary reason), I will step away and not post, not reply, not comment, or not engage in social media. This is my responsibility in being kind to others.

I will not engage in social media if I am feeling “off.”

You can, too

One last thing…

In the midst of a pandemic, unrivaled unemployment, fear, anxiety, food lines, a crazy election year (in the U.S), and a lot of uncertainty, it is human for all of us to lash out, even at someone who has nothing to do with us. However, we must rise above this. We must be kind to ourselves first by acknowledging our feelings, and then asking ourselves whether it is the right time to engage with others on any social media site. We must become better people and choose kindness. We must for the betterment of this world.  

I am going to end by referring to what is usually taught to most children worldwide (and I am no exception) – the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated. Honestly, this needs to happen for us to bring in the new normal. It does.

Join me in spreading more kindness on the internet.  

Four Ways to Handle This COVID Thing Without Losing Your Mind

Do you feel like you’ve lost control of your life or wonder why you have a hard time getting out of bed in the mornings, lately? Or, do you feel like you are going to lose your mind during this COVID-19 pandemic?

I sure have! I was not, at all, expecting this worldwide illness, and it caught me completely off guard.

If you have lost your job due to this latest coronavirus and had to stay home with or without anyone else, you must have felt off balance and wondering what the hell is happening or when all of this will end.

You are not alone.

I discovered it is normal to feel discombobulated, angry, sad, or even depressed. What has happened to the world is very traumatic. And trauma requires healing, and healing takes time – sometimes lots of it.

You might be one of the lucky people who did not lose their job and is able to work from home, you might be retired, or a stay-at-home mother who was not affected too much by the pandemic. You might be a person who is a first responder on the front lines (I have the utmost respect for you!). Or, you might be someone, like me, who lost their career and now has to “redo” herself. Wherever you are during this pandemic and whatever you are experiencing, know that it is normal to feel confused, afraid, and bewildered.

I actually had quit my corporate job to become a full time copywriter and content writer ONE WEEK before the virus was designated very contagious. I was planning on taking some time off to recoup from my very stressful former job and then work on building my business. I did not expect a pandemic, the world shutting down, and my partner losing his job. None of that was part of the plan.

But, life happens. Yes, it does.

My plan was to move on from my former job and career quickly (that did not happen – I had to rest and heal and get back on a schedule and lifestyle that supported my wellness physically, mentally, and emotionally, and that took much longer than anticipated). I was going to start my business in March (um, no, didn’t happen either). I was planning on living a great life that suited me until retirement, but then COVID happened.

Ugh. Can you relate to any of this?

Since end of February, I have been ill twice, had to have a root canal, threw out my back, which put me out for three weeks in Apr (the pain was awful), and watched my savings fly out the window month after month (it is still flying high). Life doesn’t always go as planned, does it? Sometimes, no matter what you do or how impeccable you think your plans are, life happens and throws you for a loop. It happens to all of us, sooner or later.

In addition to all of this, I have not been able to write. Until recently, my mind has been in some state of “foggy disillusionment,” for lack of better words. What kind of business was I going to have if I couldn’t write, when writing is THE BUSINESS? Yikes. I was not in a good place.

But, I finally snapped out of my funk.

To be honest, I am not sure exactly how I did it. Nothing big happened. I think I finally realized that the world is experiencing something unprecedented and decided to be kind to myself and lower my expectations. Once I did that, I learned the next four lessons that stopped me from feeling like I was losing my mind:   

  • I acknowledged that it is normal to feel confused and angry. You can too. What is now happening to the world is shocking. It is unexpected, hit us like a brick really, and no one knows when it will all end, or if we are ever going back to “normal.” The ramifications of this on the human psyche is nothing less than traumatic. One of the definitions of the word trauma is “an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.” So, it is normal to feel shocked, fearful, and like you are losing control of your life. It takes time to heal from trauma.

The solution is to be gentle with yourself. Know that you are not alone. Know that so many other people are feeling what you are feeling. Know that this too shall pass, and that life will get back to normal. It is okay to feel your emotions: feel your anger or your sadness, but don’t stay in that space for long. Feel it, talk about it with someone, scream if you have to, and then move on.

  • I established a new routine and stuck with it. You can too. I can’t tell you how much this has helped me! Whatever your routine was prior to the pandemic, most likely it does not exist anymore. The human body and mind works best with a routine for physical, emotional, and mental wellness. A lack of routine is a recipe for disaster.

The solution is to establish a routine during these troubling times: get up at the same time every morning, eat well and exercise, set time aside to do what you do, whether work or something else you love, and go to bed at the same time every night. A routine will help you to cope with the uncertainty in this world right now. This lesson alone helped me tremendously.

  • I decided to do something that I love to do every day. You can too. This may seem obvious, but when human beings are thrown off balance, we don’t always realize that doing what we love will bring about momentum and get us out of our self-imposed funk.  You have been given a throat punch from COVID-19. Punch it back.

The solution is to be good to yourself by doing something creative that you love or learn something new. I have reorganized my craft room, and am now in the process of reorganizing my garage (both were a horrific mess). The reorganization gave my brain a time out from worry, fear, and confusion, and helped get my creative mind working again, so I could write again and plan a new career. Being creative always helps heal your mind from trauma. Punch back COVID-19 by being good to yourself, even if it is only for a half hour per day. Just start and don’t wait until you are motivated. The motivation will appear after you begin.

  • I chose to reach out to other people. You can too. This one is obvious to extroverts, so I am writing to the introverts here. If you are introverted like I am, reaching out to others might be the last thought you have during this worldwide crisis. I empathize. But, even the most introverted person needs human companionship, once in a while.  
  • The solution is to communicate with at least one other person every day. It does not matter what method of communication you use: phone, IM, chat, email, Skype or Zoom, or in person (safely). What matters is reaching out to someone else who is also going through the same feelings, thoughts, worry, stress, or sadness. It will help you handle this unexpected life of isolation better, give you hope, and remind you that you are not alone. If you live alone, especially, it is vital to reach out.

We are all in this together. Despite all the layoffs and furloughs, massive unemployment, fear, sadness, discouragement, uncertainty, and anxiety, you are still able to have some control over your life. You get to choose how you will take care of your mind, body, and emotions through these unpredictable times. You get to choose whether to live in disappointment or to live in acceptance and creativity during COVID-19.

Here’s to taking good care of yourself and to hoping for a better, new normal in the near future.  

The Courage Map: 13 Principles to Living Boldly by Franziska Iseli, a Review

Unique and inspiring, The Courage Map: 13 Principles to Living Boldly by Franziska Iseli demonstrates how to live your best life by stepping out in courage despite the fear you may face.  

Most people stay locked in their fear. How many times have you not pursued your passions because you were afraid? How many times have you told yourself that you “can’t do it,” or how many times have you given up because things got too difficult or because you were afraid?

I sure have!

Franziska, in The Courage Map, gives us a guide on how to change the habit of fear, to live boldly, and do the great things we aspire to do.

The thirteen principles in Iseli’s book are very helpful and will inspire you to live a passionate and fearless life. Each chapter explains how to overcome obstacles that hinder our dreams, our desires, and our goals. An adventurer and world traveler, Iseli beautifully weaves her travel stories from her motorcycle trip on the Silk Highway from Switzerland to Kazakhstan into this book, explaining how she overcame her fears by taking needed courageous steps. She recaps the lessons and beautiful, unforgettable moments that came from those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

This book was a pleasure to read. As a lover of traveling myself, some of her amazing stories brought tears to my eyes, not only because I could imagine myself experiencing what she wrote about (I have always wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle and travel around the country but did not due to … wait for it… lack of courage), but also because I resonated with the interpretation of her travel experiences and how her courage brought about a richer, more fulfilling adventure. Franziska also includes suggested intentions, exercises, and questions at the end of each chapter for further contemplation and self-improvement.

I recommend The Courage Map: 13 Principles to Living Boldly by Franziska Iseli to anyone seeking to learn how to live with courage and live in the present moment, or to those seeking self-improvement, a passionate life, mindful living, or more joy in their lives. This reading would also be exceptional for those interested in psychology and human behavior.

A bit about the author, Franziska Iseli:

Franziska Iseli is a visionary and eternal optimist. No challenge seems to be too big for her, it seems. She is known for her rebellious nature and doing things differently. She has this rare combination of being both creative and strategic, which makes her a powerful leader in the business world as entrepreneur and co-founder of several companies: Basic BananasOceanLoversMoments of Humanity, and The Business Hood.

In addition to The Courage Map: 13 Principles to Living Boldly, Franziska Iseli is the author of Perception: Take charge of how others view your brand, Become Irresistible and Make a Bigger Impact, and Bananas About Marketing: How to Attract a Whole Bunch of Customers. 

In her spare time, Franziska loves going on mad adventures, surfing the ocean’s waves, motorcycling around the world, playing music with her band Salty Lips, learning, writing, meaningful discussions, and spending time with family and friends.

To learn more about Franziska Iseli, visit: FranziskaIseli.com.

To purchase a copy of The Courage Map: 13 Principles to Living Boldly, visit Amazon.

Thinking about publishing your book? Visit TCKpublishing.com.

December Book Review: I am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life by Marissa Peer

A quick, easy but profound read, I am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life by Marissa Peer is a book for those who are willing to heal from their childhood emotional wounds and want a simple, very effective solution with dramatic change. Marissa’s book will help you realize what is holding you back from living the life you truly want and deserve.

Sound cheesy? Well, it’s actually not.

Let me tell you I used to be very insecure. I grew up in an emotionally abusive household and was constantly told I was never enough explicitly and implicitly: no matter what I did, it was not good enough or wrong. I was made to feel that my very existence was shameful. A childhood like this is incredibly damaging on so many levels. It takes years, decades, and sometimes a lifetime to change these beliefs and reverse the damage from this type of abuse (and it took me decades to heal). Learning how to accept and love myself, to love others, and to love my life is to thrive, and this is what Marissa’s book taught me. It can do the same for you!

Marissa demonstrates, step by step, how to heal from the emotional damage you might have experienced by changing your thinking to create happiness, better handle anxiety, and feel a million times better. She demonstrates how our thoughts can be destructive habits and to change them is to create a more joyful life, and more. What I love most about this book and Marissa’s approach is that she gets right to the bottom line: you believe you are NOT ENOUGH.

If you are addicted to alcohol or porn, if you have issues with self-image, if you eat for emotional reasons, or end up in harmful relationships, etc., you basically believe there is something wrong with you (consciously or unconsciously), or that you are not enough. Through decades of research and experience, Peer has determined that the common thread to additions or damaging behavior is the belief that we are “not enough.” She offers the solution to misery, and it is easier than you think it is.

I recommend I am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life by Marissa Peer to anyone who has been abused, those who struggle with low self-esteem or self-hate, and those who are ready to become healthy and happy. Honestly, you can read this in one or two hours and do the exercises she recommends, and it will improve your life!

A bit about the author, Marissa Peer:

Marissa Peer is a motivational speaker, psychologist, and hypnotherapist. She started her career as a child psychologist, and after decades of counseling clients realized there was a faster, more efficient way to heal her clients’ emotional wounds, so she developed her own pioneering hypnotic therapy. In addition, Marissa is a national magazine columnist and has appeared on major media outlets and television shows including GMTV, Lorraine Kelly, This Morning, Sky News, ITV News, BBC News, Channel 4 News, BBC Radio, Supersize Versus Superskinny, Celebrity Fit Club, Celebrity Big Brother, and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. She has appeared on countless news channels in America, Scandinavia, Japan, Africa, and throughout Europe.

A best-selling author of five books including I am Enough, Marissa lives in Britain and improves people’s lives worldwide.

To learn more about Marissa Peer or to purchase a copy of I am Enough: Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life, visit: MarissaPeer.com.

November Book Review: Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Truly fascinating and unique, Sapiens: A brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, is a detailed, engaging summary of the history of human beings.

Harari demonstrates how humans are the only species willing and able to believe what only exists in the imagination such as money, human rights, religion, and states. He brilliantly weaves the history of humans as far back as the Stone Age to modern day with the goal of discovering who we are and why we do what we do.

What fascinated me the most about Sapiens was the author’s viewpoint on the processes throughout history that shaped and influenced human thought: the cognitive revolution, the agricultural revolution, the creation of money, philosophical inquiry, the birth of science and the scientific revolution, capitalism and the industrial revolution, the creation of boundaries and states, the information age, genetic engineering, and more recently, artificial intelligence. Yuval also mentions how modern animal agriculture is one of the worst atrocities humans commit. His book bridges the gaps between biology, economics, history, and philosophy. It is a stunning read.

The culmination of Harari’s, Sapiens, is the conclusion regarding the upcoming artificial intelligence age. Harari argues that humans have not evolved and concludes that robots (or AI) will eventually eliminate most jobs, and that the rich will eventually be able to re-engineer bodies and minds. His book shows that humans pride themselves on their high intelligence, however most of us are not happier for it. I hate to state the obvious, but this reading provokes deep thought and emotions, and book clubs should definitely add this book to their reading list. Sapiens was received well by the general public but some scholars have criticized Harari’s assertions and conclusions.

I highly recommend Sapiens: A brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari to those interested in a deeper examination of who we are as human beings. The book covers the relationship we have with science, religion, ecology, money, politics, our happiness, and our future. For students of world history, Sapiens is a must read!

A bit about the author, Yuval Noah Harari:download harariProfessor Yuval Noah Harari is a historian, philosopher, and bestselling author. Born in Haifa, Israel, in 1976, Harari received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 2002 and currently lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Department of History. He has written another book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, after writing Sapiens, and also authored 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. His books have sold millions of copies worldwide.

To learn more about Yuval Harari or to purchase Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, visit ynharari.com.