Em’s Extras: Self Publishing Series Part II

The first step in the self-publishing journey is, of course, finishing your book! 

For that to happen, you don’t necessarily need to quit your job-like I did-but you definitely need time. In my perspective, one of the first questions that you need to answer is, “how can I create time to write?” 

Creating time requires effort-yes-but one to two hours a week to start is more than enough to get you going. 

Practical Suggestions to start your writing:

  1. Relentlessly reserve at least 1-2 hours weekly to start: starting is difficult, but like any habit, once you start and put your mind and heart in it, things start moving. And sometimes faster than you expected.
  2. Pick your creative incubator: also known as “writing spot.” Make it your own. Make it inspirational; make it private if you can. 
  3. Pick your genre: knowing what sort of book (novel, memoir, inspirational, self-help, short stories) you want to write, gives you a more robust base and a guiding star. 
  4. Just write: it sounds too simplistic because somedays it is. Other days it is hard, and it requires extra discipline. But the key is to just do it. 
  5. Tell self-doubt to go away: don’t judge your writing. Don’t think about the next steps. Don’t label your writing right, lousy good or genius. 

Key Learnings from my Writing Journey:

  1. Reading is the fuel of my writing: to me, reading is a critical part of writing. 
  2. Hard work always pays off: the hard days where you write out of discipline and will and not inspiration, those are the ones that teach you to appreciate the days where the words flow. Don’t underestimate the writing that comes from pure relentless hard-work.  
  3. When inspiration kicks-in, hold on to it for dear life: even if it means canceling a social event or rescheduling something or asking your partner for help with some of your house tasks.
  4. Make a list of topics or chapter titles: this helped me a lot; it gave a guiding star. The topics or chapters maybe will change or evolve along the way, but it gives you a reference point. 
  5. Identify your writing moods: call me crazy, but some days paper and pen worked better for me. Other days I would be glued to my laptop for hours.
  6. Sharing your journey makes a difference: even if it is just with your mom, your partner, your best friend. Share your dream, share your plan, sharing about a good writing day or not-so-great-one in a blog, or with a loved one makes it real and holds you accountable to keep trying. 
This page has been my faithful companion since August last year. It is the first Chapter List I created.Making a list of topics or chapter list is KEY in my opinion. It has so many scribbles that is hard to read, but, this simple piece of paper was my compass.

If this is something you want to pursue, I really hope you find this useful, and you start creating the time!

Thank you for reading me,

M.

Excerpt from Fearless

Fearless is a compilation of inspirational and personal answers to the question: “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?” The answers are written in the form of essays. I thought today was a good day to share with you a reading snack. Below is an excerpt from the fourth essay of the book.


Chapter 4: I Would take Charge of my Life

“When I took the decision to leave my job and take a year to focus on finishing this book, I felt in control of my life. To me, feeling in control and taking charge differ in meaning. I have always seen control as more linked to making a specific decision, with taking charge being more related to the actual commitment of executing the decision.

I believe an example might clarify this self-defined concept better. When I decided to run a marathon, I felt in control. I was controlling my running journey. I remember saying out loud to myself, family, and friends, “I will do a marathon as my next running goal.” Taking the decision was scary, saying it out loud even more. However, making the decision was just the first and most natural step. The commitment to training, to run five to six times a week for 16 weeks, waking up earlier, changing or canceling plans to accommodate the weekend long runs, feeling exhausted—those were the hardest parts.

Taking charge of my life, to me, means not just having control by choosing a specific decision but the real commitment to the process that will make a choice a reality. And not just a simple reality—the best possible reality within the framework of that decision. In other words, not just doing it for the sake of doing it or, worse, doing it half-assed. On the contrary, it means committing to the process with the strongest intent, profound will, focus, and yes, excellency. (…)”


I was having a tough day, letting overthinking and anxiety get the best of me. I needed something to zap me out of it, and writing and sharing always help me. Let me know what you think.

Health and positive vibes always,

M.

Em’s Extras: Self Publishing Series Part I

I started flirting with the idea of self-publishing late last year. It was around the time when I started thinking about my 2020 goals. I am a dreamer, so of course, I dreamt for a long time about sending my finished manuscript to a publishing house. Having it picked, and experiencing all the different creative processes with the support of experts. I daydreamed intensely about seeing my book sitting on bookstore shelves. I found myself romanticizing the idea so much that I began to think more about the publishing process than in the actual book way before I had even finished it.

I knew that writing the book required discipline and hard work. And that the publishing process needed a different kind of discipline, one that comes from being relentless and self-motivated. And that I needed to accept the fact that if it did happen (if I was part of that tiny statistic of “aspiring author being picked by publisher”), it could take a LONG time. And I mean, a long long time.

I am a dreamer, but I am also a doer, so the doer in me started talking loudly. And I started listening.

If you are interested in the self-publishing process, every Friday, I’ll be sharing all of my learnings from the past 4 months as well as tips and other helpful information. Keep an eye for the Self-Publishing Series!

Processed with VSCO with e2 preset

My Quarantine Gift

In one of my previous blog posts (Reset), I shared that one of my coping mechanisms for the quarantine has been learning. The course “The Science of Well Being” has been one of my most reliable quarantine alleys. The course discusses all the misconceptions we have about what truly makes us happy. But most importantly provides concrete actions and habits one can take to feel better and happier.

One of the habits mentioned by the course is Meditation. I have always been curious and drawn to Meditation. I have been trying to practice it for almost 3 years now in connection with my yoga practice, but have never really committed to it. I have always felt like I was not doing it right, and just leave it, and then it try again and so on.

To complete the course, the professor invites the learners to commit for 4 weeks to one of the habits discussed (gratitude, Meditation, sleep, exercise, savoring, amongst others). And I chose that as a gift from me to me, I would commit to meditating for 10-15 minutes daily without judgment-without entertaining right or wrong thoughts.

Today was my 10th day meditating, and it really does feel like a gift. And in celebration, I wrote what Meditation has been for me in the last days.

Meditation is:

A kaleidoscope of breaths.
A nap with my inner eyes open.
Ocean waves singing me a love song.
My grandma and my sister closer to me.
A prayer.
A warm woolen danish-pink quilt caressing my folded legs.
A commitment to myself.
A gift to myself.

I wanted to share with all of you this idea of gifting yourself something during this time. The gift could be an online course or a book you have always wanted to read, decorating a corner for your “me time”, buying a gift card to use later, or opening that bottle of wine you have been saving for a special occasion or even a new habit!

Kindness and gratitude matter-and that includes being kind and grateful to yourself.

Happy Easter Week to everyone that celebrates,
M.


PS: If you are interested in meditation specifically, Headspace has inspiring articles about its benefits and how to begin.

https://www.headspace.com/meditation/how-to-meditate

PSS: Click the text “The Science of Well Being” at the beginning of this post, and it will take you directly to Coursera. Remember this courses are free!

Book Title Reveal !

Why Fearless?

I am extremely passionate about the self-empowerment-especially for women-that comes with overcoming fears. I really-really- wanted to write about this!

For the past five years, the question-“what would I do if I weren’t afraid?” has been one of my guiding lights. And I wanted to share my ideas and perspectives about the immeasurable power of that question.

But most importantly, because to me, a FEARLESS person is not someone that has zero fears. On the contrary, it is someone that acknowledges their fears and is relentless in seeking ways and actions to overcome them.

I really hope that we can be FEARLESS together!

Thank you for reading me,

M.

This beautiful design is not the cover of the book, but it has some elements of the final cover.
Design done by: Anna Z. @inkspiration.hn

I will be sharing more details about the cover and chapter reveals very soon! Click on below image, to go to emandtheshelf’s Instagram and see all of today’s fun videos in stories- I speak a little about my journey and some of my plans with FEARLESS.

What would I do if I weren’t afraid?

I would stop overthinking.

I would be present and take it one breath at the time.

I would follow my book plan.

I would try my very best to inspire you.

I would read, write, and exist happily in my home.

I would be grateful with every cell in my body.

I WOULD SHARE MY BOOK’S NAME WITH THE WORLD.

What would I do if I weren’t afraid?-This question has been my guiding star. This one question has paved my path, and I am honoring it this week by sharing with all of you my book’s name. So, SAVE THE DATE!!

Click the picture below to go to Em and the Shelf’s instagram account to join the countdown!

Let’s be fearless together-M.

Em’s Extras: Extra-Gratitude Edition

I always, always read a book’s Acknowledgments. I don’t remember exactly when I started to pay attention to them, but it has been a long time. I really enjoy reading the kind and marvelous phrases an author uses to thank or praise their support system, their loved ones, their life cheerleaders.

Acknowledgments fascinate me. They are a testimony that-the best-things in life are never an individual endeavor. Even a task usually associated with solitude and isolation-such as writing a book.

I have shared my book’s dedication already in a previous post and today in the spirit of gratitude-most needed during this times-I am sharing my book’s Acknowledgments. These people deserve so much more than the few words next to their names. They read, edit, inspire, motivate, cheer, reassure, critique, and praise (me and) my book with love always.

These are the printed acknowledgements, just as they will appear in the published book.

I am fortunate to have the support of many other amazing people. I wish I could include everyone, but I wanted to honor these extra-special book cheerleaders.

Even though I love book Acknowledgements, real-life ones are better. Acknowledging is gratitude, and we need it now more than ever.

Today is a perfect time to acknowledge your support system, your team, your loved ones, and your life cheerleaders.

I hope this inspires you to go and say, “Thank you”!

Thank you for reading me,
M.

Reset

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”

(From Harry Potter by J.K Rowling)

Above is one of my favorite quotes of all time. I genuinely believe in the power of words, so I hope my words bring you a little bit of inspiration.

I know that days have been hard and filled with so many emotions. I think it is essential to acknowledge all of the feelings, but equally important is to have a reset mechanism to go back to a state of mental peace. My go-to resets are reading, writing, or running, but my mind has been fighting back.
While doing these three things, my mind takes me very quickly to thoughts about the news. I haven’t stopped doing these activities, but I felt I needed to find one that drives me faster and closer-at least momentarily-towards a state of peace.

My reset for the past week has been learning. I know that my working-from-home situation is different and that I may have more time and flexibility. Or that it may sound a little (or a lot) nerdy. But if you have extra time or are looking to add or replace activities in your schedule, maybe you should give online courses a try. And Coursera is a great place to start!

I have been taking a Yale free course called The Science of Well Being, and I love it. This class became the most popular class in Yale’s history back in 2018. It teaches how to become happier with concrete, fun, and practical examples. It touches upon several topics, including misconceptions about happiness, how to overcome them as well as actions and activities to boost it.

https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being

My favorite things about the class are the simple and clear structure, the fact that it is taught entirely by videos and the Professor. Hearing her speak feels like a breath of fresh air while on my desk or couch.

I encourage you to take this course, we all need more happiness these days. But mostly, I encourage you to experiment with your schedule (as much as it allows for it) to find that reset that gives you peace.

Let’s try to replace fear and anxiety with ______________! ( The blank is yours to fill) Let’s reset!

Sending love and health vibes your way,
M.

Big (and happy) News!

I was afraid of sounding selfish, not empathetic, because of the news I wanted to share with all of you. I was fearful of having the worst timing ever in the midst of what we are living as a human community.

Yesterday during the peak of my overthinking, I saw a message popped up on my Instagram. It was from a college friend, one that I have not seen in almost 10 years. She sent me a picture of a quote and the message: “This made me think of you.”

My friend Danna, sent me this quote.

I have written before that sometimes, “realizations can be explosions.” Her gesture-more so than the quote- caused a boom. It made me think that sharing a dream that has come true could never be selfish. It made me realize that sharing and hearing good and happy news helps. These thoughts brought me a much-needed sense of peace, one that comes from an ever bigger realization. We are at our best when we are rooting for each other. And the coronavirus is proving just that, we, humans, are at our best when we root for each other.

So, here are my big news: My book is officially in production! After a few rounds of editing and the initial design cycle, it is on the works! I found a great self-publishing platform called Bookbaby. If all goes well, it will be available on Amazon International, Barnes and Nobles’ website, and other channels during the summer!

During the next few weeks, I am planning to do the title reveal and share more about the editing, design, and other relevant steps!

Let’s allow gratitude to guide our days, during these difficult times and then beyond.

This picture was taken the day I printed my finish manuscript for the first time.

Thank you for reading me, M.

Em’s Extras: Coronavirus Edition

Thoughts from an Eternal (and very anxious) Optimist.

Yesterday I did one of my infamous self-interventions (many of my friends know about this and find it funny, but I promise you they are real). Basically, a self-intervention is when I called myself to a meeting to have a talk out loud. These meetings usually take place in the shower or while having a cup of coffee.

Around 2:00 p.m., after going twice to the supermarket, cleaning our entire apartment, and going into several online rabbit holes about coronavirus, I told myself to stop, to breathe, and to regroup.  

I am an optimist by heart, but when my anxiety kicks in, it creates a fog that distracts me from the positive. On the other hand, I have come to realize that (at least for me), positivity IS one of my greatest tools to keep my anxiety in control. Yesterday I struggled, it was hard to find the positive in this situation. Mainly because I caught myself reading and dissecting every article about the virus from every possible source. So, yesterday, during my self-intervention, this is what I told myself:

  1. This is a not-so-kind-reminder of what immeasurable wealth is all about (our own and our loved one’s health). Yes-it is a shitty reminder-but it is a reminder.
  2. There is a fine line between taking precautions, getting provisions responsibly, and panicking. 
  3. You need to be a responsible adult and be informed, but that does not mean you need to check the news every hour. (And PLEASE stop with the crappy sources!)
  4. If you want to know specific details about what is happening in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and the US because of your loved ones, stop obsessing, trying to read everything. Instead, call and text them more often (be there for them!). They will tell you anything worth knowing. 
  5. You work from home every day so it shouldn’t be as big of a change. Focus on what you can still do. 
  6. You will actually have more time with your loved ones. 
  7. K I N D N E S S (always) M A T T E R. Everyone has specific worries, fears, and situations. Be kind to yourself and be kind and empathetic towards your loved ones and people in general. 
  8. Remember, this, too, shall pass. 

In the spirit of focusing on things we can still do, have compiled below a list for your inspiration. 

Love, M. 


For your inspiration. Will try to keep adding to the list. : )

Extended breakfasts, coffee breaks, or epic Facetime catch-up calls with your loved one(s).


Free Online Courses: Coursera offers a great variety of free courses. To the right some of my favorites so far.


Extra-Interesting Podcasts: such as Super Soul Conversations.


Learn or Practice a Language: Duolingo. I have been learning Portuguese since the beginning of the year, and I am starting to feel more confident in speaking. Plus, it is entertaining!