Infusions of Healing–A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies by Joie Davidow.

While the Botany & Wildcrafting Course from Herbal Academy Courses that I recently completed was spectacular and I have more confidence in using my plant identification skills, I still run into the problem of not being able to transfer the identification from Mexican Spanish to English. This has been frustrating to me since my little Aztec Remedy books say use such and such a plant, but I have no idea what the botanical name is.

My previous Mexican plant authorities!

One of my friends recommended Infusions of Healing–A Treasury of Mexican-American Herbal Remedies by Joie Davidow. I ordered it from Amazon and finished it in a week. In it, hundreds of herbal remedies are included as well as a chart that gives the English name, Spanish name, Botanical name and other names it might be called. Fabulous!

Recipes were included that used plants that I can identify in La Yacata, like mesquite, sábila, and huizache and I can’t wait to investigate more about their medicinal properties.

Furthermore, more 1/3 of the book talked about indigenous healing traditions. Thousands of years of medicinal tradition were lost when the Catholic church ordered the codices to be burnt, only a handful of others were preserved.  Spanish priests and naturalists compiled various tomes about the conquered peoples that were sent to Europe and lost for hundreds of years, only having been recently rediscovered.

These rediscovered accounts helped me to put the curandero tradition still alive and flourishing into perspective. Not only were curanderos skilled with herbs but they were also doctors of the soul. Some of those long-ago spiritual beliefs about health still exist in Mexico today.

Let me give you an example. It was an extremely hot month, hotter than I can remember since moving to Mexico. So now that we have electricity, albeit limited, we bought a fan. I had my husband install it so that we would get a nice breeze while we slept. My sister-in-law, who has also been suffering from the heat, asked to see our fan since it doesn’t use too much power. She thought it was good but said she’d never have the fan blowing on her in the night because she’d wake up “chueca” (wry-necked).

So what does this have to do with ancient Aztec beliefs? Well, the Aztecs believed that body ailments were either “hot” or “cold”, “wet” or “dry”. Therefore, a cramp would be an ailment caused by a “cold” source, the fan which cooled the tonalli (energy center also connected to the heat of the sun) of a person that is centered in the head.

Other things suddenly became clear as well. The sacred novena (9-day prayer session for the deceased) is 9 days because there are 9 levels to Mictlan, the underworld and 9 levels in the celestial kingdom above. Bilis, an illness caused by excessive coraje (rage) occurs when there is something wrong in the ihiyotl, another energy center located in the liver. The belief that not only must the physical body be treated, but the God who sent the infirmity must also be appeased continues with pilgrimages, prayer, candles, and offering found throughout Mexico.

While the book didn’t specifically mention going barefoot in the house as a potential cause of sickness, I bet the reason is mentioned in one of those lost books that I’d love to get my hands on.

So if you are at all interested in herbal uses of plants found in Mexico, this is the book I would recommend to you to start with. Having read it through once, I feel that I have finally entered the pre-school level in my local plant study.

5 star

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A Selfish Plan to Change the World by Justin Dillon

selfish

Changing the world is not as altruistic you might think.  Most movers and shakers have multiple motives for what they do.  Author Justin Dillon takes us through his personal journey from musician to founder and CEO of the Made in a Free World organization which focuses on disrupting human trafficking trade worldwide.  Citing example after example, he explores the reasons why each one of us should make an effort to change the world, what keeps the world from changing and how we can actually change the world.

The key point for me was what the author called “finding your riot.”  Although that seems a bit aggressive, what he refers to is finding what you are passionate about and using that for social change. Combine that riot with the desire to “contribute to a larger narrative” and your unique abilities, and you have the recipe for world-changing work.

Much like the author, who began with his belief that changing the world was only attempted by selfless and sacrificial people, I often feel that perhaps changing the world was beyond my abilities even though I’ve made some effort at do-gooding over the years. I can’t say that I’ve been successful in changing the world even one iota despite my efforts, but I know people who are, and I haven’t given up yet.

A Selfish Plan to Change the World provided some food for thought and is well worth your time.  Read more about this book here. Get your copy here.

four star

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Surviving Voluntary Exile: How to overcome common obstacles to making a successful life transition

Surviving Voluntary Exile: How to overcome common obstacles to making a successful life transition is now available in ebook and print format. The ebook has all the basic information and links to the optional readings, while the print book has journal pages for you to complete the activities that will help you create your best life in your adopted country.

The ebook version is available for FREE for the next few days. Get your copy here!

The original course is still available and is a great option for those who want the interaction of a supportive community as they work through the lessons. In celebration of the release of the book format, the course is also on sale today.  

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!

Blog to Book Project — You author page

Since you have a blog, you may already have a good start on the About the Author page, provided you have an About page on your blog. You do, don’t you? The About the Author page is generally at the end of a book, as one of the back matter sections.

Your About the Author page is about you but not exactly a biography. It’s more about making a connection with the reader. Once you’ve established a relationship with a reader, he or she is more apt to become a loyal follower.

To make that connection, you want to tailor your story to fit your book. You already know that the reader is interested in the topic your book covers, so try to make YOU as interesting and relevant as that topic.

For example, if you write about living in the rolling hills of Ireland, talk about how you came to be there. Maybe you had an Irish grandmother or you visited once and fell in love with a leprechuan. If your blog to book project is about investing in bitcoins, include your credentials and experience. If you wrote about how yoga transformed your quality of life in your book, talk about your personal philosophy.

As you write your Author Bio, think about who you had in mind when writing the information in the book, who do you want to buy and read the book, and what sort of credibility would that ideal reader look for in an author.

Other things you should include: your professional background, education, current business, achievements, awards, general personal details about your family, pets, residence, interests but only as they relate to the topic of the book.

If you are writing about how you traveled the globe you might include information on how you developed wanderlust rather than the 6 soul-sucking years you spent in a cubicle after earning your MBA. Then again, maybe that’s all part of the story that led up to the book.

Tone is yet another important consideration. If your blog to book project chronicles your spiritual awakening, maybe you won’t want to be smarmy or sarcastic in your bio. Just saying.

Do include contact information with a link back to your website and maybe some links to your social media networks as well. Don’t overdo it though, no more than 3.

You should also have an author photo. It can be casual or formal, however best you’d like to be remembered. If you are like me, adding a photo might make you just a tiny bit uncomfortable. Go ahead and do it anyway.

Another section you might wish to include is a call to action. This is something you should already be doing at the end of your blog posts. You are, aren’t you?

A call to action is something you want the reader to do. You could request that the reader leave a review at Amazon or Goodreads. You could mention you have an ecourse available on the topic your book addresses. You could talk about your personal coaching program.  You could highlight a book you’ve written that relates to the topic of the current one and prompt the reader to go and check it out.

Just pick one though. You don’t want to overwhelm anyone. The odds of a completed action are greater when there is only one thing as well. Instead of highlighting every single book you’ve written, why not suggest the reader go to a particular page and browse through your other books.  Doing so means you don’t have to update this page when you publish something new, just the page on your blog.

About the Author should be written in the third person. Yes, I know, corny. But that’s what readers expect, so that’s what you’ll give them.

Keep it short and sweet. Think of this as sort of a letter of introduction to your readers. You don’t have to list your whole life story here, just the most relevant parts. Aim for about 200-250 words.

Your Author Bio is not a static document, but an ever-changing one. When you have new experiences, obtain new credentials, maybe even change location, you will need to update your About the Author section accordingly.

Assignment: Write your About the Author page. Include a picture.

Blog to Book Project — X-ray

Kindle ebooks have this neat little feature called X-ray. When you press and hold a highlighted word or phrase, the x-ray will pop up with more information about characters, topics, events or places.

Amazon has already taken the liberty of making the connection between certain phrases, events and names and Wikipedia.  All you have to do is approved the ones you want or replace the ones you don’t with your own juicy morsels.

In order to enable X-ray, you need to choose it from the options hidden in the ellipses on your bookshelf.

Then you’ll get a message asking if you want to enable x-ray for that particular book.

When the Wikipedia links are ready for review, you’ll receive an email.

Now the ellipses will list Launch x-ray as an option.

From there, you’ll be sent to the online reviewer. There’s even a tutorial to help you out.

When I added it to A to Z Reasons Why La Yacata is the Place to Be in Any Disaster: A Prepper’s Guide to Mexico, the terms apocalypse, Prepper, and zombie were chosen along with a slew of place names and historical personages as well as any references to ancient indigenous gods.

For the most part, I linked up to the appropriate entry at Wikipedia. However, for places like La Yacata that have no wiki page, I added my own definition.

After you review and submit the terms, you’ll get an email letting you know that the feature was enabled for that book. It’sthat easy and it adds value to the reader’s experience.

Assignment: X-ray your book!

Blog to Book Project — When you know better, do better

Today we are going to take a break from the technical stuff and talk about motivation. Believe me, we all need a bit of a boost in that department every so often.

Take that time when KDP rejected my upload for image formatting issues for the 5th time. Or when my first Amazon review of my latest book was only 2 stars. Man, that was a sad moment.

There’s definitely a learning curve to turning your blog into a book. You will make mistakes. A lot of mistakes. And then you’ll figure out how to do it right and make fewer mistakes. Let’s look at my two examples above and see what I learned.

I like to include images in my books. I think it adds to the content. I didn’t know, but I do now, that it works best when I insert the picture I want to use into a template Canva has available, then upload that image to the book. It gives me a standard size image that is consistent throughout my book and guess what? No more formatting errors! In fact, my latest book was image formatting error-free the very first upload.

Now let’s look at the 2-star review. The reviewer mentioned 3 points, that my ebook had links that made reading difficult, that it did not have an index and that there were many typos. Two of those three points were completely valid. I had rushed publishing so that it would be ready for the new year and well, didn’t think some things through.

Currently, I am in the process of hyperlinking the text rather than including the full link in the ebook. Then I am also adding an index. I honestly hadn’t thought to include one, but I think it will be valuable for this particular book. Thirdly, no there were no typos. See, the reviewer was from the UK and as I write in American English, well, yes there are some differences in spelling, but they weren’t typos.

Once my hyperlinking and indexing are done, I’ll be able to upload a new manuscript to Amazon and everyone who has purchased it already will get the new version. So now that I know better, I’ll do better. And so will you.

Blog to Book Project — Video Books

Obviously, your print book isn’t the right format for sharing video clips. The best you can do is list the link to that super awesome video about the llama eating the boy’s head in the Appendix and hope that the reader is motivated enough to look it up later.

There are some options for including videos in the ebook world however. The simplest is to include a link to the video hyperlinked in the text. When the reader clicks on the link, he or she will be taken to where the video is hosted. After watching, she or he can click back to the book and continue reading.

A second option is to embed your video into the ebook. When the video is embedded, it will seem to the readers that they are watching them in your book, but in reality they are watching them on the page you are linking to, like YouTube or your website.

You should check copyright restrictions for videos that you wish to include that are not your own and include appropriate credits. Embedding videos also adds to the file size of your ebook. Amazon charges delivery fees on some international marketplaces based on the file size of your ebook. If you optimize your videos, the file size will be smaller.

Some ereaders don’t have the capability to view videos, like the Kindle Paperwhite. On the other hand, Kindle Fire and iPads are fully able to incorporate video and audio as part of an ebook reading experience. These new and improved books are often called enhanced ebooks. If the ebook has things the reader can do, such as complete quizzes, or make the bunny jump out of the hat with the touch of a button, the text has graduated to the realm of interactive ebooks. Many children’s books have been designed to be interactive.

In order to create an enhanced or interactive ebook, you’ll need some special software. Some programs allow you to import your book file into the new software and add the interactivity. Other programs require you to write directly in the software program for it to work. Amazon also has an enhanced ebook software program embedded in the Kindle Create system. Amazon calls them Print Replica eBooks.

I have yet to create an enhanced or interactive ebook, so the how-to is a bit beyond me at the moment. If you’d like a good overview of the dos and don’ts check out the article: How to create an interactive enhanced ebook: a step-by-step guide.

Blog to Book Project — Uploading your Paperback Manuscript to KDP

We’ve already talked about Kindle Direct Publishing and ebooks. Today we are going to look at creating a paperback print book with KDP.  This time, after you log in to KDP, choose + Paperback under Create a New Title. 

Paperback Book Details

The first section is identitical to how to set up your ebook.

Language

Choose the language your book is written in.

Book Title

Type in the book title and subtitle if you have one.

Series

If your book is part of a series, you’ll enter that information in this section

Edition Number

If you are creating a new edition of a book, you would include that information next.

Author

Add your name as the Author as you wish it to appear.

Contributors

Then list any contributors you would like to appear in your title and on the cover. This is a little different than your contributors’ page in the book itself.

Description

Your book description should be a short blurb intended to get people interested in your book. When this is displayed on the book page on Amazon, only the first few lines will be visible without having to click on Read more, so you’ll want to concentrate on making the introduction reader worthy.

Publishing Rights

The next category is Publishing Rights. As this is a Blog to Book Project, you will choose “ I own the copyright and I hold the necessary publishing rights.” Unless you take your blog posts down before uploading your manuscript, you may get a notification from Amazon saying that the content of your book is already freely available on the web. That’s perfectly fine. You just have to resubmit the manuscript verifying that you are the author of those freely available posts.

Keywords

You should spend some time listing the most relevant keywords next. Amazon gives some great tips for choosing the best keywords here. In general, you want to pick keywords that a reader might use to find your book’s topic. So if you write about zebras bred in captivity you might include zebra, zebras in zoos, zebra babies, animals bred in captivity, zoo babies and so on. Doing searches on Amazon for books similar to your own will also help you decide which keywords will get you the most readers.

Categories

You can choose two categories to help classify your book. Spend some time looking through the lists. Do another search and see what categories those books that are like yours are using. Try to be as specific as possible. Nonfiction > Self-Help > Death, Grief, Bereavement is more specific than just Nonfiction and a better category for your book about how you coped with the loss of your beloved pet.

Age and Grade Range

If you like, you can choose an age or grade range. Doing so is completely optional, but if you think it would help readers find your book, certainly do so. If you aren’t sure about the grade range, remember Hemminway will give you an approximate level for free.

Pre-Order

The last section on this page is to choose whether your book is ready for publishing or if you would like to generate some pre-order publicity hype first. It’s entirely up to you. Then choose Save and Continue to move along to the next step.

Once the new page opens up, you’ll see a check mark next to the work Complete if you have correctly added all the required fields.

Paperback Book Content

Print ISBN

You can get a free ISBN from Kindle or if you have one already, you can enter the information here. All print books must have an ISBN.

Publication Date

If this is the first time you are publishing your book, don’t enter any dates here. KDP will use the date that your book is for sale on Amazon. If you are printing a second or third edition of a book, then you would enter the first edition publication date.

Print Options

Interior & paper type

You can choose black and white interior with cream or white paper or color interior with white paper. Bear in mind that color will substantially increase the cost of your book.

Trim Size

The most common trim size is 6 x 9 inches. There may be reasons why you choose another size though. For instance, my One Year Blogging Planner has large spaces to write information and monthly calendars, so I choose the 8×11 inch size. Choosing a different size may restrict where your book can be sold. With the 8 x 11 inch size I can not sell my planner in countries outside of the U.S.  

Bleed Settings

Books with bleed have images that extend to the edge of the page past the margins. If you really must have images like that requires some more advanced formatting efforts. KDP provides a free book dimension calculator to help you.

Paperback cover finish

You can choose either a matte or glossy finish for your book cover.

Manuscript

If you are sure you’ve done all the formatting correctly and have your book saved in one of these formats (.doc, .docx, HTML, RTF, and PDF) you can upload it now. You can also use a KDP template.

Book Cover

You can make your own book cover, use a KDP template or use Cover Creator.  Make sure to include all the essential book cover components we’ve talked about. Your book will be printed in full-color unless you choose to use a black and white design.   

Book Preview

Check through your book using the book previewer. If you would rather not use the online version, you can download a PDF version.

Save and Continue.

Paperback Book Rights & Pricing

This section is considerably smaller than the ebook Rights and Pricing section.

Territories

Again, since this a compilation of your blog posts and you hold copyrights, you can choose All territories (worldwide rights).

Pricing & Royalty

KDP offers a choice of 60% or 40% royalty percentage for print books and gives you a minimum – maximum price range. You can see how much KDP charges for printing your book. Books printed in color are more expensive to print than black and white books. You can read about paperback royalty and KDP here. If you would like to change the prices of any individual marketplaces, you can do so at this point.

Terms & Conditions

If everything looks good after reading the terms and conditions, you can go ahead and click Publish Your Paperback book.

Proof Copies

You can request proof copies of a paperback book. These will have a gray bar across the cover indicating it is a proof copy, not for resale, and not have an ISBN code on the back. Other than that, the book will be exactly what your printed book will look like.

You’ll receive a notification that your book is undergoing review and another email if there is something that needs to be fixed or that the book is available for purchase. You did it!

Assignment:

Upload your manuscript to KDP and publish your paperback book.