Rise – In Pursuit of Empowerment by Sabine Matharu

Rise – In Pursuit of Empowerment features 25 “sparkling” women entrepreneurs who have overcome adversity and are creating successful lives. The editors of the book choose a star-studded theme as you can see from the cover. Each of the 25 sections included an inspirational quote from the featured lady on a starry themed background, her success story, a professionally done photograph and a short blurb about her business.

I had problems getting into the book initially. It seemed like there was an excess of sections before the main text. There was a dedication page,  foreward, a section of reviews (which I always skip so as not to prejudice myself before reading), preface, a page mentioning where you can go to download bonus material and finally, the table of contents.

Slow start aside, the stories these women shared were incredible. I enjoyed each and every one, whether or not I could relate to her struggles personally. I certainly felt inspired, which I believe was the intent of the book.

Take Naomi for example. After living a cautious life because of a heart condition, she took up mountain climbing in her senior years. As if that weren’t enough, she became involved with the Mending 1000 Hearts charity organization committed to educating the people about operations that could significantly impact the lives of children born with congenital heart conditions.

Then there was Sister Zeph. After dropping out of school following a beating and humiliation by a teacher, she began her own community school in rural Pakistan. She used her own earnings to buy school supplies for girls she taught in her courtyard under the open sky for 14 years. A windfall in the amount of $20,000 allowed her to buy a piece of property to build two rooms and a roof for her school. She now runs 2 schools with 200 registered students and offers training courses for more than 400 women each year.

Many of the women featured became life or health or spiritual coaches as they worked through their struggles. Whether these women overcame health problems, prejudice, abuse, depression, the corporate glass ceiling, or obstacles of their own making, they have all found their calling by providing empowerment to other women. It only proves that “if you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path,” as said by Buddha.

If you are in need of some inspiration to keep you focused on your own empowerment path, you will definitely enjoy Rise – In Pursuit of Empowerment.

You can read my review of this book at Reedsy Discovery here.

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Blog to Book Project–Zero Spelling and Grammar Errors

Just make sure they are in the right order!

I know that we’ve come to the end of the alphabet today. Unfortunately, your blog to book project probably isn’t quite ready. There are a few things we need to discuss.

One topic that must be addressed before you release your book is editing! No matter how many times you read your written work, errors will get overlooked. Some suggest reading your book out loud backward when checking for errors. That might not catch all of those pesky mistakes though. Recently I read a book where the author talked about riding a mope head. If you read mope head out loud, it certainly sounds like the intended vehicle, moped, but it just isn’t.

Grammar and spelling errors diminish your authority on a subject. Therefore, the fewer the better. Zero errors are ideal, but may not be possible taking into variations of English (or whatever language you are writing in). For example, British English and American English have a number of spelling differences.

We’ve already talked about how using the Hemingway App can make your writing more succinct. Today I’d like to talk a little about Grammarly as a potential writing tool to add to your arsenal.

Grammary has both a free and a paid version. For casual writing, the free version is perfectly fine. If you want to up your game in the spelling and structure department, then consider Grammarly Premium.

Grammarly lets you choose whether you would prefer British or American English, which is a nice option. I write in American English, so when I copy and paste my writing into the app, it checks for spelling errors for me.

I used a draft of a blog post as an example here so you can see what sort of errors Grammarly picks up on. Spacing and punctuation errors are easily fixable. I tend to not use the Oxford common when I write, but Grammarly likes to. I also use Mexican Spanish words on occasion. My audience will know what I’m talking about, but Grammarly doesn’t so marks it as an unknown word.

Indicating a word is overused helps me be more specific in my descriptions. Grammarly will give you some alternatives, but I don’t always use those. Grammarly is utterly opposed to the use of passive voice and will highlight each and every use. According to Grammarly, using active voice will make your writing stronger, but I’m not sure I agree 100 percent.

Squinting modifiers are places where you can clarify ideas. Using this, that, these, and those as adjectives is all well and good when you can point to an object, however, your readers might just need some additional information. Sentence fragments are typically in need of some restructuring.

At the very bottom, you can see that Grammarly has graded my post. I didn’t do very well with this draft post, did I? As I change or ignore Grammarly’s suggested edits, my score changes.

There are other editor apps out there that as just as good or better than Grammarly. The Premium version is a tad expensive in my opinion. You could hire an editor as well. In fact, most writing manuals suggest doing so. Another pair of eyes is never remiss in your quest of zero spelling and grammar errors in your blog to book project.

Assignment: Check your spelling and grammar. Then check it again.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I haven’t finished discussing all the relevant points in your blog to book project even though we’ve reached the end of the alphabet. Stay tuned in upcoming weeks for more helpful posts here at Creative Content!

Sor Juana de La Cruz

In honor of Poetry Day, I’d like to share a little information about Mexican poet Sor Juana de la Cruz.

Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez de Santillana was born on November 12, 1648 near Mexico City in San Miguel Nepantla. Her mother,  Isabel Ramírez de Santillana de Cantillana, belonged to the Criolla section of the Mexican population. Her father was a Spanish Captain by the name of Pedro Manuel de Asbaje y Machuca.

She was raised on her grandfather’s hacienda in Amecameca. She was somewhat of a prodigy if the accounts are to be believed. Educating females was strictly forbidden however somehow Juana was able to write in Latin by age three, do account by age five and composed a poem on the Eucharist at age eight.

Her astonishing accomplishments didn’t stop there. As a teenager, she was versed in Greek philosophy, teaching Latin to younger children and fluent enough in Nahuatl, which she learned fom the slaves on the hacienda, to write poems in that language.

In her teens unable to attend the university because of her gender, she became a lady-in-waiting at the viceroy’s court. The Vicereine Leonor Carreto became her patroness. She declined several offers of marriage and instead entered the St. Joseph Monastery in 1667 as a postulant. She took her vows in 1669 at a different monastery, el Convento de San Jerónimo, because she desired “Vivir sola… no tener ocupación alguna obligatoria que embarazase la libertad de mi estudio, ni rumor de comunidad que impidiese el sosegado silencio de mis libros”(to have no fixed occupation which might curtail my freedom to study).

As penance for her traitorous words and actions as a radical feminist who believed in educational opportunities for women, she was forced to do penance which included giving up her books, musical and scientific instruments. Sor Juana contracted the plague during her ministrations to other nuns and died on April 17, 1695.

You have to admit, some of her poems are pretty intense. You can find several translations of Sonnet #145 here. You can also find an English translation of Hombre Necios (Foolish Men) here. I don’t think I’m up to the task myself.