Take a Break

By: Kylie Widseth

Sometimes there really just isn’t enough time in a single day, and we really have to come to terms with the idea that we actually need 25 hours in a day and not just 24. But 24 hours is what we have, so it’s what we have to work with. I’m guilty of overworking myself too; my agenda literally says, “I am very busy.”

Here are just a few tips to help you cope with the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day.

shutterstock_526236691Tip #1: Take breaks

I know, I know. This seems quite obvious, but we often forget to take time for ourselves. All of a sudden it’s 4 o’clock, and you realize that you haven’t eaten lunch yet. It happens, we’ve all been there and done that. Take some time to read a book or eat a snack, it can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as an hour. I understand the hesitancy to take a break, but I promise that if you don’t your work will suffer because you’re so burned out.

shutterstock_178115057Tip #2: Learn to say no

You don’t have to be involved in a million clubs and activities, but being involved is still good. It’s all about finding a balance. If you start finding yourself overwhelmed with the amount you see on your calendar, then you already know that it’s time to start saying “no” to things. You don’t want to become the person that everyone asks to do things because you don’t know how to say “no.”

shutterstock_528805507Tip #3: Meditate

Meditating can be an amazing form of stress relief if you can really sit down and focus on it. Although I’ve only meditated a handful of times, it really, really helped me calm down and focus on what was really important. In today’s world, it’s really hard to just have a few moments of quiet without any distraction, but if you fit this into your schedule, it really works wonders. If you’re interested in learning more about meditation, check out our book, The Young Adult’s Guide to Meditation!

shutterstock_554478352Tip #4: Set boundaries

This ties back into learning how to say no, but set boundaries for yourself. You also have to learn how to say no to yourself. Set a bedtime for yourself; it sounds really childish, but stick with it. Tell yourself that no matter what is happening you will go to bed at that time. Sleep is incredibly important especially as a teenager. It’s the time in your life when you should be getting the most amount of sleep, but we all know we really get the least amount of sleep because there is always so much to do in any one given day.

shutterstock_284570321Tip #5: Talk it out

Sometimes it’s nice to talk to someone, to either just vent to them or to have them give you some advice after you’ve vented. An outside perspective might give you some guidance on activities in your life that you probably don’t need to devote as much time to. They can help you understand what activities are benefitting you and what activities are just taking up time in your life that could be used for other things.

We all strive to be the best that we can be in our everyday lives, but that doesn’t mean that you have to work until you drop. It’s better to learn how to balance your schedule earlier rather than later before it’s too late and you don’t even know where to begin.

Best Reading Spots

By: Kristen Joseph

Have you ever been anywhere and you just suddenly have the urge to curl up and read? That’s me, at least 80 percent of every day. I’ve read while standing at bus stops, during family lunches (I promise, I wasn’t ignoring them, I was just reading because no one was speaking to me at the moment), and while sitting under the dryer when I’m at the hairdresser. But sometimes when that feeling strikes, the atmosphere is just off, and not very conducive to reading. Most of the time, I feel comfortable reading wherever I’m at. As soon as I open up my book, the world is immediately tuned out, and I’m completely absorbed in the story. But, like any reader, I do have favorite reading spots. Hopefully you do too, but if you don’t, here are a couple suggestions to make that special time with your book even more enjoyable:

Public Transit – I cannot even imagine taking public transit without a good book in hand. As long as you don’t suffer frospots4m motion sickness, a bus, train, (or a car, or a plane) is a fantastic place to get some reading done. You could also indulge in an audio book while taking public transportation. You still get to enjoy the feeling of reading, without the added weight of a book in your bag. Bonus: listening to an audio book won’t give you motion sickness!

Window Seat/Comfy Chair – These structures were specifically built for reading. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

The Great Outdoors – A nice park bench. Soft grass. A hammock. A rocking chair on a porch. A++ places to zip through a few chapters (or twenty). Just listing those off felt relaxing; imagine how tranquil you’ll feel while reading there.

spots1At “social gatherings – Now, I’m not saying that you should go out with your friends, fully intending to ignore them in favor of the new novel in your bag. But if you happen to be out with friends or family, you’re not talking to anyone, and you’re starting to get bored, it’s perfectly okay to pull out your book and start reading. It’s a better option than sitting around staring at a wall until your friends or family are ready to leave.

Libraries or Bookstores – That one’s a given. If you’re surrounded by books, of course you’ll have an incredible urge to read. Luckily, most libraries and bookstores have chairs so you can do just that!

During “Designated Waiting Periods” – Reading is the perfect solution to boredom when you’re in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or waiting for class to start. You know you’ll probably be waiting anyway, so you might as well enjoy a novel adventure during that time.


Bed – The best place to read, in my opinion. My fondest reading memories always include lying in bed, lamp on, under a blanket, and leaning on pillows (if I have a bowl of leftover Chinese food too, it’s definitely one of my best nights ever).

Of course, there are many more places that you can turn into your own personal book nook. Go exploring and find a few more to add to this list!

My Favorite Quotes

By: Kristen Joseph

One of my favorite things about being a reader is finding quotes throughout the text. Not just something memorable that a character says, or the mantra for a revolution, but a string of words that seem as if they are speaking directly to you, burrowing themselves so deeply into your heart and mind that you could never possibly forget them. Those are my favorite types of quotes.

Whenever I find one that speaks to me like that — whether it’s in a book, text post, or just something that I randomly happen upon — I write it down in a journal specifically designated for quotes. Today, I’ve decided to share five of my favorites with you:


  1. I am built to weather the storm, to come out on the other side and survive, more confident and equipped than I ever would have thought possible. – Kristen Joseph

This was the last line of my college application essay. I know it’s a tad ridiculous to quote myself, but I just have so much love for this sentence. I wrote the essay about a difficult time in my life that I overcame, and the quote is a nice little reminder that I’ve lived through hard times before, and I can do it again.

  1. Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. – Langston Hughes

A lovely inspirational quote that I found in a fortune cookie, from the Langston Hughes poem Dreams. It’s a great reminder that having dreams, and goals that you’re working towards, is never a bad thing.

  1. q2A word is the only thing in the world made more powerful by absence than existence.The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

The existence of a word is concrete; a definition is given for a situation when the word is present. But if a word is missing, the situation is undefined and uncertain. It’s like when you’re in that gray area of a relationship between just “going out” and being someone’s boyfriend/girlfriend. You need clarity about whether you’re in a serious relationship or just seriously friendzoned before you start planning for your future with the other person. 

  1. When reading, we don’t fall in love with the characters’ appearance. We fall in love with their words, their thoughts, and their hearts. We fall in love with their souls. Anonymous ( amongstwoodedpaths post)

            My reaction to this text post: “YES! Someone finally put it into words!”

  1. That’s why literature is so fascinating. It’s always up for interpretation, and could be a hundred different things to a hundred different people. It’s never the same thing twice.Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Reaction: “Finally. Someone who shares my exact opinion on literature.” This is why I love to reread books — the experience is so different every time, no matter how many times I’ve read the same words.


Relaxing Reads: Recommendations for Spring Break

By Kylie Widseth

As you might have guessed, when I’m not editing books my favorite pastime is reading. My favorite genre by far is contemporary, so spring break is one of the best times of the year reading in bed.jpgfor me: I get to read my favorite genre for a whole week straight!

I compiled a few of my favorite contemporary books, ones that I think would be perfect to read on spring break, wherever that may take you. Whether spending break at the beach or in your bed at home, these reads will be sure to delight and entertain.

  1. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon — I want to start out with the book that I most recently finished. I thought that this book wouldn’t be as good as everyone said because I had seen so much hype for this book, but oh my goodness, was I wrong! This book follows a Jamaican girl named Natasha and a Korean boy named Daniel. The two end up meeting up on a street in New York City on the day that Natasha is supposed to be deported. This book takes place over the course of a single day, and that idea alone still blows my mind. Please do yourself a favor and read this.
  1. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – Now I know Colleen Hoover can be quite a controversial author, but I really like her. If you like a good romance , she could be the author for you. Now I really can’t say a whole lot about this book because one of the big things that makes this book successful is just going in blind to the book. Don’t look up reviews or anything because even being spoiled a little can really ruin the beauty of what this book is. I’ve heard people say that her books keep getting better and better, and I definitely agree.. This book was the first one I read by her, and I almost regret it because none of her past books can match this one.
  1. The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke – Sometimes I really believe that I’m a middle-aged women trapped in a young adult body. Either that or I am really starting to “grow out” of young adult books because I find myself reaching for adult books more and more. I think this book is a good in between because it has a really unique plot line that can appeal to younger and older audiences. It’s about a 35-year-old woman named Kate. Her fiancé, Max, decides to call off the wedding while they are at their rehearsal. As expected, Kate is heartbroken and confused. She struggles to really understand what went wrong when she discovers that her Facebook statuses are changing the outcome of her life, whatever she writes in her Facebook status comes true. Now just take a second to really imagine what they would be like! This could be a really great and exciting thing, but it also could create some issues. This book revolves around Kate really trying to understand why Max left her.
  1. Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult – Sometimes spring break can be the perfect time to tackle longer novels, or at least that’s what I like to do. This list wouldn’t be complete without a novel from my absolute favorite author, Jodi Picoult. I’m sure you know of some of her more popular books, but this is one of her most underrated books and my personal favorite. This book follows a wife and mother named June. Years ago, one of June’s daughter and her husband were murdered and a man named Shay is on death row for their murders. In present day, June’s daughter, Claire, has been diagnosed with a terminal heart condition and needs to have a heart transplant to survive. Since Shay is already on death row, he wants to donate his heart to Claire as a way to redeem himself. This book follows the trials and tribulations of whether Shay can actually donate his heart and whether June will let the man who killed part of her family donate his heart to her child.
  1. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera – This book is by another one of my favorite authors. This book can be a little bit of an emotional one, but that only adds to its beauty. As with It Ends With Us, I’m only going to give a little bit of the book away. The main character, Aaron, is battling a decision about a Leteo procedure. This procedure would allow him to completely alter any memory in his life, and throughout the book he contemplates whether this is a good idea and what particular memory in his past he should change. I know that was an incredibly vague description, but once you really get into the book, it will all make sense. This book was incredibly beautiful and one of my favorite books of all time.

beach chair reading.jpgI hope at least a few of this books sounded interesting to you, and if you decide to pick up any of these books let me know what you think of them! Whether you decide to read this books or not, I hope you find just the perfect book to curl up with over your spring break! I know I’m particularly excited to read any and every spare moment I have.

Happy reading!

Giveaway: Blind Date with a Book

With an idea shamelessly inspired by our intern Kylie’s efforts at the University of Florida library (read about it here), we’ve decided that our Valentine’s Day giveaway will be our own “Blind Date with a Book.”

If you’d like the opportunity to be a part of your very own “Blind Date,” please read the rules below:

Any one of the following count as a 1 entry:

Contestants are able to enter up to 6 times with no more than 2 entries on the same social media platform. For example, you could share on Facebook 2 times, retweet 2 times, and comment 2 separate times tagging a total of 4 friends on Instagram for a total of 6 entries.

The giveaway will last a week from today, closing at 11:59 pm on February 21.

Once selected with a random generator, the winner will have the opportunity to pick from 3 wrapped books.

*Giveaway open to U.S residents only*

Don’t miss out on this easy and fun opportunity!

Keeping up With Reading When Life Gets in the Way

By Danielle Lieneman

It can be difficult to find the time to keep up with your daunting pile of books waiting to be read once life gets in the way. As much as reading is an enjoyable and relaxing part of my book stack w: mug.jpgday, all too frequently I realize that it’s been three weeks since I’ve touched a book that wasn’t for work or school. Here to help combat life (and that Netflix addiction), I hope that your love of reading is fulfilled.

Create a set amount of time that you want to read every day.

Treat this time like an appointment and put away all distractions (Twitter can find out what your reading AFTER you’re done!). This time can be entirely dependent on your schedule, as long as you make it a part of it, and can be as long or short as you want. You’ll be surprised how quickly 15, 20, and 30-minute increments can add up.  Last semester, I started setting my alarm 40 minutes earlier than I needed to actually wake up to give myself some time to read while enjoying my morning coffee, and I managed to get through five books!

Carry a book with you everywhere you go.

While the daily commute on the bus or subway can seem like a waste of time, if you’ve got a book in your hands what better way to pass the time! If the doctor’s office is behind (as always seems to be the case), or your ride is running late, you won’t be bored if given the opportunity to read a few pages. This doesn’t need to be a physical, hardcopy of a book because those can get cumbersome while on the go, but downloading the Kindle app on your phone is a great way to always have access to thousands of books.

Listen to audiobooks.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of audiobooks for the longest time, but now I can’t get enough of them. They’re the perfect companion when driving to work or school or walking around campus. Although as a disclaimer, I must say be careful when choosing your book choices for that car ride. I just finished Lauren Graham’s Talking As Fast as I Can and between laughing and crying at the Gilmore Girls reminiscing I swear I was about to crash my car!

Make a book club with your friends.

I know that book clubs are something only middle-aged women do, but I’m here to tell you
that simply isn’t the case! What better way to motivate yourself to make time for reading than the promise of discussing it with your best friends over brunch. No one wants to be book club .jpgthe only one who didn’t finish and who doesn’t love a good reason to eat a Belgian waffle from your favorite brunch locale? Book clubs are also a great way to find new books that wouldn’t typically be up your alley. There’s even some celebrities who have a running book club list (Emma Watson, Oprah), so there’s not even the excuse of being unable to pick a book!photo-jan-15-3-14-59-pm

I know it’s easier said than done, but once a routine has been established, it becomes much easier for reading to become a part of your regular daily habits.

Time Traveling with Atlantic Teen: Remembering Pearl Harbor

By Danielle Lieneman

December 7, 1942 was a historic day in United States history. This fateful day was the final catalyst that led to the United States unequivocally deciding to enter World War II and forever changed the course of history. When sitting in your history class worrying about what information is pertinent for the next test, sometimes it’s easy to forget that all of these events were a reality for millions of people. At Atlantic Teen it’s our hope that we can take the impersonal out of history, and inspire you all with the very real, human part of our history.

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-7-49-27-pmIn honor of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we would like to introduce our readers to Lieutenant Jim Downing, the 103-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor and tell you a bit of his story. This poignant retelling is an excerpt from our new book, Events That Changed the Course of History: The Story of the Attack on Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later

Regarding that dreadfully historic day of December 7, 1941, Downing believes the experience provided him and future generations with important obligations. “Well that’s just a part of my life,” he says. “I enjoyed yesterday, I’m gonna enjoy today,I’m gonna enjoy tomorrow.”

On the West Virginia, Downing and the rest of his shipmates were pummeled by nine Japanese torpedoes. Downing was also shot at with machine guns from a plane that flew over.

“One hundred and five men were killed in the attack on my ship,” Downing says. “The main damage was done in the first 11 minutes.”

After a reprieve in the aerial assault, Downing went into rescue mode. “I got aboard the ship after, and all that was left to do was to take care of the wounded and to try to fight the fire.”

The West Virginia was stationed next to the USS Tennessee which was undamaged. Downing, wanting to avoid another explosion if his ship’s ammunition caught on fire, grabbed one of the Tennessee’s fire hoses.

“As I had the fire hose in one hand, I saw bodies lying around, and one was a friend of mine lying on his back,” Downing remembers. “So I tried to turn him over, and then I discovered that the back of his head was blown off.”

That painful image didn’t steal Downing’s eyes for long. He noticed his friend’s identification tag and remembered that all of the fallen could be identified this way. Downing was the postmaster on the West Virginia and had access to all of the crew’s addresses. “Their parents would never know what had happened to them, so I resolved to write letters.”

Downing explains that the standard military letters of death notification didn’t go into much detail as to how servicemen died, no matter how heroic. He spent the rest of the morning fighting flames and memorizing the names of the fallen.

The nearby USS Arizona and the rest of the battleships carried about a million gallons of crude oil that had spilled into the harbor. Downing said the blaze spread to about 200 feet. Even the ocean was on fire.

“I saw sailors who had been blown off their ships submerge and then surface with a film of oil on their bodies. They became human torches and could do nothing about it,” he says, admitting this was the saddest sight of that fateful day. “You’d think once they got off the ship in the water they were safe, but if they landed where the oil was on fire, they burned to death.”

Some of them were rescued, but many were in areas of such intense heat that rescue boats couldn’t get close enough. That afternoon, Downing visited friends and fellow sailors in the hospital, with the intent of writing more letters. Downing spent roughly two hours going down the line, writing down what they said and later transcribing his notes on his manual typewriter.

“They probably couldn’t have read my handwriting,” Downing laughs.

The content of the letters to families was dictated from the wounded sailors themselves, and most of it came as a bit of a shock to Downing.

“I was kinda surprised at the messages that they sent their parents,” Downing says. “Most of them said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m fine, I’ll get well, I’ll see ya again.’ They never made a complaint, but most of them died that night.”

His position as postmaster not only made him popular on payday, it also made him a lifeline of communication in an age when even telephone calls were a luxury.

Jim Downing .JPGWe hope that Downing’s emotional and moving story has created a newfound appreciation for the facts and dates we memorize in school and allowed you to have a human connection with our history. If you want to read the rest of Downing’s story or learn more about Pearl Harbor in general, be sure to check out our book on Amazon.

5 Tips to Combat Procrastination

By: Yvonne Bertovich

I’ve been there, you’ve been there, we’ve all been there. The clock ticking, your palms sweaty, knees weak, heart palpitations ensuing after too much caffeine (see, I’m no Eminem) — all the while a looming deadline hanging over you like a Floridian storm cluster.

Procrastination might as well be the most common affliction, causing us to put off essays, projects, studying for tests, or trips to the DMV (it’ll only get worse as you get older, kids).

There’s something about the thrill of a deadline, or maybe it’s our own egos that often put us in situations of extreme time crunches.

If you’re one of the lucky ones on a traditional summer break without online classes or responsibilities, consider this your wake-up call: you have less than a month left.

If you’re also one of the lucky ones that has a summer book project or reading assignment due when school starts again, you may be thinking you have all the time in the world — so you might as well watch the thirty-ninth episode of Netflix or stare at the ceiling, ’cause gosh darn it, you can.

However, whatever your situation, I’m here to tell you that productivity isn’t a scary thing. It can be done, and your grades (and blood pressure) will thank you for it. Here are five tips to combat procrastination.

1. Break yourself off a piece of that…

No, I’m sorry, I wasn’t going to say Kit Kat bar. Maybe later (see tip #5). Breaking up large tasks into smaller sections is a great way to get things done without feeling overwhelmed.

Let’s say you have a 10-page research paper due on the history of the fork.

First of all, my condolenc862_4047396es.

If you attack the paper one page at a time, it will seem much more manageable. One page a day is much more friendly than 10 pages at 2 a.m. before the deadline. If you’ve gotten yourself into more of a time constraint, try to do two pages a day or even a page an hour with breaks in between (see tip #2).

If you have a project with multiple parts or tasks, break them up into mini projects for yourself and check them off as you go. Just take it one thing at a time.

2. Take a mental “staycation”

What on earth do I mean by this? Well, one of the best methods of planning for myself is mental planning, especially if I’ve reached a stopping point in a project and don’t know where to go next.

Going for a long walk outs767_4827930ide (yes, Vitamin D is important) or doing a few sets at the gym while sorting through ideas or main points in your head is a lot less stressful than sitting there staring blankly at the computer screen.

Even going for a drive can help fuel some inspiration that sitting in your room may be stifling.

Jotting down key points in a note app on your phone while you’re away from your desk (because let’s be real, it’s definitely in your hand or chilling in your pocket like a kangaroo offspring) can help you stay organized when you return.

3. Use the Rocky method

He may not have been a champion in the classroom or at stand-up comedy, but he got the job done. Please don’t eat any raw eggs, though.


Making sure you’re completely prepared before you buckle down to work on an assignment can greatly benefit you in the long run.

Eat balanced meals to stay sharp throughout the day, and take a snack break or two. The more wholesome the foods you’re eating are, the better you’ll feel and the better you’ll be able to work. Groundbreaking, I know. Try to mix in a sensible combo of protein, fruit and veggies, healthy fats, and whole grains whenever possible.

Practice breathing. Keep a cup of your favorite beverage by your side, and please (not to go all Mom on you), drink some water, too. Your brain will thank you.

Rocky is also known for his great soundtrack. Creating a playlist of motivating songs such as some hardcore rap, classical, country, EDM or whatever YOU like and having it play in the background can help keep your momentum going. Chair dancing is all the rage, too.

4. Think about the bigger picture

Usually, the hardest part of any project or assignment is simply starting it. Whenever you find yourself thinking “I’m soo bored,” maybe open up that rubric or that novel and knock out some work.

403_2918083.JPGWorking on a project for 20 minutes a day may not seem like a lot, but in the long run, it’ll quickly build up. Especially if you start, like, right now.

The sooner you start that project or assignment looming over your head, the more peace of mind you can have later. Plus, the quality will undoubtedly be better, because you’ll leave more time to review your work and avoid sloppy mistakes.

You’re right, it may be one dumb project. You may never need the information you’re mindlessly regurgitating ever again. It may temporarily occupy brain space and energy you’d rather be devoting to catching Kardashians or keeping up with the Pokemon — or something like that.

But the sooner you commit yourself to exerting effort and focusing on quality, the breezier the rest of your school years will be; trust me.

5. “Treat Yo Self”

I’m all about the reward system, because it works. It worked training my puppy 10 years ago (where does the time go?) and it works for training myself, too.

Rewarding yourself with breaks as you progress on your project keeps you from getting burnt out, and it helps with maintaining energy levels. Let your brain relax with one episode on Netflix (emphasis on one) every few hours, grab a smoothie, or whatever you choose.

You can also make a promise to yourself to cash in on something once your project or assignment is complete. There’s honestly no better feeling — to me at least — than hitting that submit button or sending in an assignment. Maybe your reward is something as small as your favorite meal out, or, if it’s a bigger project, a weekend away at the beach with your friends to unwind. Or, even better, go for that Kit Kat bar. You’ve earned it.


Writing Help + Life Tips: How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

By: Lauren Capps

As writers, we all have struggles to overcome when we start out and are knee-deep in an 80,000-word book. The constant questions and doubts running through your mind can start to overwhelm you, and if it does, maybe you think it just isn’t worth it to keep going. Or that you need to delete the whole project and forget about it.

Well, I am here to tell you, do not do anything of that sort. You are a writer. You live, sleep, and dream about characters, plots, and even movie adaptations that you hope will become a reality someday. Don’t give that up just because it’s hard or you don’t think you are good enough.

Some of the main struggles that I and other writers have gone through or even worried about are:

“Am I a good writer?”

“Does this sound right?”

“Good Lord, this is awful. I’m deleting that and starting over.”

“What is my writing voice?”

“How would this compare to (insert author here)?”


And many more.  But the main topic of this post is to help you stop comparing yourself to other writers. If you clear that doubt from your judgment, you will be one step closer to success. Here are some ways to show how comparing impacts your life, and some tips to help you overcome it.

“Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self.” -Iyanla Vanzant

1. Comparing Stops the Learning Process

By focusing on others’ work and always envying what they do, it can stop the process of learning how that person is successful or how they write so well. If you focus on finding their secrets to success, then you will be able to apply it to your own work.

2. Don’t Compare Yourself to the Likes of, Say, Stephen King

If you are comparing your unpublished, never-before-seen-by-the-public work to the likes of the best books by the best authors, you are only putting yourself down, and it will negatively impact your work. As a first time author or a newly published one trying to get your work noticed, you can’t expect to be as good as them. I know it’s hard to hear, and sometimes the truth hurts. Focus on yourself only. Think of ways you can be successful in your own right. Sit down and write the best way you know you can, so you don’t even need to think about those high-end authors.

3. Comparing Takes Away Control

By constantly comparing yourself to others, you are letting it not only impede your judgment but also take control of your life. It will negatively impact your emotions and values. It’s a destructive habit that only you can get out of. By taking back the control over your life, you can choose to be positive and focus on what really matters — your own work.

“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.” -Shannon L. Alder

4. If You Need to Compare, Compare Yourself


Sometimes comparing and competing can be beneficial instead of negatively impacting. Don’t compare yourself to James Patterson; instead, compare yourself to yourself. Think about what you have achieved in life and see how successful you have become already.

Look at the progress you have made in your book — have you written 50,000 words? That’s awesome! Use this shift of thought to help you overcome negative habits, and it will only show in your work to come.

5.  Break the Habit

If none of those tips helped you, and you are still having a hard time with comparing yourself to others, try to break the habit. The first step is to be aware of when you are judging yourself or your work to others. When you do, stop yourself and think: “I am better than this. I am a good person and a good writer.” Think about positive things like how you won that writing contest, or any positive aspect of your life. Don’t focus on your weaknesses but rely on your strengths to help you overcome negative thoughts. And finally, be yourself.


If you are OK with who you are and how you do you, you won’t need to compare yourself to others. Stay focused, stay positive, and kick that nasty habit to the curb. By doing this one simple thing, the only direction your life is going is up!

“Whatever your passion is, keep doing it. Don’t waste time chasing after success or comparing yourself to others. Every flower blooms at a different pace. Excel at doing what your passion is and only focus on perfecting it. Eventually, people will see what you are great at doing, and if you are truly great, success will come chasing after you.”-Suzy Kassem




Writing Hacks: 5 Tips to Help You Start Your First Nonfiction Book

By: Rebekah Sack, Editor

Starting a book can be a pretty daunting task — especially if your goal is to write a fiction book that carefully reflects the life you’ve lived in some profound, poetic, literary way. However, if you really need to get your name in print, starting with a nonfiction book can be the perfect way to jumpstart your career.

Nonfiction is much easier to write and edit than fiction. There is less “creative justice” that must be served — though being creative certainly shouldn’t be dismissed — but that means that the editor won’t get caught up in ambiguous territory. Most nonfiction prose is pretty straightforward: that sentence isn’t parallel? Fix it. This chapter seems out of order? Move it around. This date is wrong? Change it.

The writing process also closely imitates that of a research paper. You do the research on the topic at hand, take close notes while doing so, and then you begin.

But, for many people, that’s where the “ummm, what?” faces start to form. How exactly do you begin? Here are 5 easy tips to get your first nonfiction book in print.

1. Figure out who you’re writing for

So, you want to write a book. You’re a natural-born writer, but the writing world seems like a catch-22, right? If you don’t have something published with your name on it, the big publishers won’t take you seriously.

That’s where considering a work-for-hire job can be useful. These kinds of jobs mean that you take the topic that the publisher assigns you, and you churn out the book for a set amount of pay. You don’t earn royalties on the book, but you do earn the invaluable experience of working for a professional publisher as well as an editor. Many fiction writers spend years working on their drafts, and they never see their work come to fruition (meaning they never earn a dime).

To find work-for-hire writing jobs or freelance writing gigs in general, check out Upwork and LinkedIn. I get messages on LinkedIn often about freelance opportunities, and you’d be surprised how successful this kind of networking can be. There are others, but as an editor for a publishing company that frequently hires work-for-hire freelancers, these are the ones I would recommend.

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2. Research similar books on Amazon

Whether you land the work-for-hire job or you plan to start your book on your own, it’s important to be clear about what’s already on the market. For example, let’s say you want to write a book for young adults about bullying. The logical first step would be to type “bullying book for teens” or something of that nature into the Amazon search engine and to look closely at the first page of results. Take note of the titles (unless your publisher has already finalized the title in a work-for-hire circumstance) and use the “Look Inside” feature to browse the table of contents. What appeals to you? What kinds of topics are being covered? What appears to be missing? You may find areas that you wouldn’t have thought to include in your book, but your key is finding the missing stuff — what are people in need of that isn’t being given to them?

That’s the sweet spot, and that’s exactly what you need to capitalize on to make a name for yourself in the industry.

It can also be useful to test out questions on social media or to your target audience. You might come up with a list of questions like these:

  1. How prevalent is bullying in your life?
  2. What do you want to know about bullying?
  3. Do you have any personal stories regarding bullying?
  4. What do you think other people should know about bullying?

3. Draft up an outline

Once you’re comfortably familiar with what is already on the market, it’s time to draft up your outline. Again, some publishers might actually already have an outline for you to work from, but many won’t — they’ll expect you to come up with one yourself that the editor will approve.

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I have seen many outline submissions myself, and I have a few do’s and don’ts:


  • Format your document carefully.
  • Include brief statements explaining what your headings mean.
  • Be thorough — a half-page or even a one-page outline is lazy.
  • Try to group things in threes — If Chapter 1 has 2 subheadings, do your best to come up with a third. In general, when things are grouped in threes, it feels more right.
  • Make note of sources you have that might help with a certain section — this will help you in the long run.
  • Do NOT send in an unpolished outline for an editor to review. You will drive me her crazy.


  • Be sloppy.
  • Include too many details — while a 6-page outline with paragraphs under each chapter heading might seem like a good idea, at the end of the day, the editor expects an outline review to take a short amount of time. If she has to sift through a 6-page paper, you’re making her life a bit more difficult than it needs to be. Keep your detailed notes in a separate document and only include short descriptors.
  • Have underwhelming titles. Your goal is to impress and to have an outline that is as close to the finished product as possible. You will have leeway as you write, but do your best to brainstorm the best titles and headings.
  • Leave out key information. This is why researching what is already out there is so important. Take careful notes of what everyone else is doing so that you know you aren’t missing something. If you’re writing a book about managing a restaurant and you forget to mention scheduling issues, you’ve missed the mark.

4. Stick to a schedule

I’ve seen it happen, and it’s not pretty. The deadline is at the end of the month, and you’re only one-third of the way there. While setting a writing schedule can be intimidating, do your best to plan a certain amount of time to work every single day. I would advise against a specific word count (I’m going to write 1,500 words every day), messy deskand I would steer you more towards a time-related goal (I’m going to sit down for 1.5 hours every day). The reason for this is that not all of the work you’re going to be doing is writing.

With nonfiction work, there’s a lot of research and documentation that needs to be done. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself sitting down and spending 30-45 minutes just reading the latest research. That doesn’t directly translate into a word count goal, but it does count toward the progress of your project.

The important thing is that you’re sitting down every day, and you’re progressively working toward the finish line. If you don’t keep up with it, you might find yourself being kicked off of the project, or worse, never finishing the book you set out to complete.

5. When you’re done editing, edit some more

This is particularly important if you’re not doing a work-for-hire job, but no matter how you slice it and dice it, it’s still key to producing quality writing. When you submit a manuscript to anyone, whether it be an agent, a publisher, or your editor, it should be, for all intents and purposes, an edited draft. There should not be any grammar or punctuation mistakes, the sentences should be coherent and well-formed, and there should be little to no thoughtless mistakes, such as the word “or” being “of” on accident.

An editor expects to fix things, but not careless mistakes. She expects to fine-tune — move this sentence here, add a paragraph here, create a hook there — not to be doing spell-check for you on what was supposed to be your final draft. Take pride in your work. Sure, you might be working for a miniscule paycheck, but your reputation is on the line. This is your stepping stone, and you’re making a name for yourself. Only submit work that you’re proud of, and you’re on your way to becoming a successful author.

Happy writing!