Turning Pro

I first heard of the book “How to Turn Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work,” by Steven Pressfield while listening to Joanna Penn on “The Creative Penn” podcast.  She seemed to mention the book every few months. Curiosity had the best of me. I located it up on Amazon.com. One-click later I had a charge for its purchase on my credit card and the e-book downloaded to my Kindle.
Steven Pressfield’s name registered with me as the author of the novel “The Legend of Bagger Vance” and the non-fiction book “The War of Art.”  Maybe it was the book’s subtitle “Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work” that caught my attention. A quick read of several Amazon reviews showed a common theme. Most agreed the book helps you navigate the passage from the amateur life to a professional practice. I agree.

How To Be a Professional Artist

In “Turning Pro” Steven Pressfield teaches you how to be a professional artist. The book’s lesson is the reason so many of the writers, producers, bloggers, painters, and designers have a copy of his book in their studio or office. The principles shared in the book worked for them. They will work for you as well. When they have self-doubt, they reread the book and regain their focus.

Pressfield Teaches The Artist How To:

•    Fight resistance,
•    Believe in themselves,
•    Find their muse, and
•    Commit themselves to their craft.He sells the dream of turning pro, of being able to quit your day job. It’s the dream most writer’s I know what to see fulfilled in his or her life. I include myself in the aspiring group.

“Turning Pro” tells us we all have a job to do. It is not the same job for everyone. For some, the job is art. For others, the job they have to do is working in the business world. Creative endeavors like acting or writing await others.  Instead of embracing and doing the job, we spend our energies running from it. We do anything but what we were born to do.

Why do we run? Pressfield argues this is because we are not professionals. We have not learned how to turn pro.

Turning pro cannot be reduced to a formula or streamlined process. The trip is too convoluted, too intimate to allow that. It is a journey. The passage has many steps.  We’ll see those in a minute.

The book is divided into three parts.

Book One is The Amateur Life. 

Pressfield believes that the real problem is that we remain amateurs and never become professionals.

Becoming a pro is about growing up. He says it’s about becoming a man or woman in a world filled with adult children. One of the most important quotes from the book is this: “The difference between an amateur and a professional is their habits.” 

Most people haven’t appreciated the power of habits as much as they should have. We need to realize how much of our lives are shaped by our habits.

To be an amateur is to walk or run away from your true calling. Avoidance is the life of the addict or amateur: a life being distracted from your true calling. We need to not be distracted from what’s important.

Here is a second powerful quote from the book is: “The amateur is an egotist. He takes the material of his personal pain and uses it to draw attention to himself. He creates a ‘life,’ a ‘character,’ a ‘personality.’ The professional has turned a corner in his or her mind. They have succeeded in stepping back from themselves.” 

Why do we choose distraction and addiction? It’s because we look short-term instead of long-term. Addicts and amateurs know that they’re called to something great, but then they back away from the hard work and pain necessary to fulfill their calling. Addictions are the shadow form of our true calling and a metaphor for our best selves.

Steven Pressfield catalogs our addictions. He discusses addictions to failure, sex, distraction, money, and trouble. He philosophizes more on the meaning of addiction, saying “The addict seeks to escape the pain of being human in one of the two ways–by transcending it or by anesthetizing it.”

Book Two is Self-Inflicted Wounds. 

In Book Two, Steven Pressfield states “Fear is the primary color of the amateur’s interior world. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of looking foolish, fear of under-achieving and fear of over-achieving.” The professional is also fearful, but the difference between the two is how they handle this fear, something the book deals with in Book Three.

Reading “Turning Pro” can change your life. How? You face your fears, your activities, and your habits. You structure your days to achieve an aim. And it changes how you spend our time and with whom you spend it.

Book Three is The Professional Mindset

In Book Three, Steven Pressfield gets to the payoff: how to Turn Pro. He lists twenty characteristics of a pro:

1.      The professional shows up every day
2.      The professional stays on the job all day
3.      The professional is committed over the long haul
4.      For the professional, the stakes are high and real
5.      The professional is patient
6.      The professional seeks order
7.      The professional demystifies
8.      The professional acts in the face of fear
9.      The professional accepts no excuses
10.    The professional plays it as it lays
11.    The professional is prepared
12.    The professional does not show off
13.    The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique
14.    The professional does not hesitate to ask for help
15.    The professional does not take failure or success personally
16.    The professional does not identify with his or her instrument
17.    The professional endures adversity
18.    The professional self-validates
19.    The professional reinvents herself
20.    The professional is recognized by other professionals

I recommend “Turning Pro.” It will make you think. Many of his applications and stories use his journey to becoming a writer as the illustrations to lead us to how to apply it to our life.

Joanna Penn still mentions “How to Turn Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work,” by Steven Pressfield every few months on “The Creative Penn” podcast.  I now understand why she gushes over his work. It’s a wake-up call on how to cross the threshold from being an amateur to becoming a professional.

Coffee

Coffee

By Jimmie Aaron Kepler

The timer starts the morning pot
brewing where it greets me
at the same time my alarm rings.

The first cup hides my morning breath
as it energizes the blood flowing through my veins
enabling me to stumble to my car
and drive to Starbucks for more.

A sunrise latte gives me the pick-me-up required
to face the tollway and morning rush hour.

A generic cup of Joe at work
gives me something to hold on to
as I begin the first
in a string of meetings.

A mid-morning cup of coffee
provides the jolt to make it to noon
where a fresh cup at my favorite café awaits.

Then a mid-afternoon cup
helps me survive the challenges
before the clock announces it is 5:00
and I can leave.

A drive-by Starbucks
provides the lift
before I sit in traffic
during evening drive time.

A fresh pot greets me
along with my
after-dinner pie and ice cream.

I fill the pot with water,
add fresh grounds
and set the controls before retiring for the evening.

And the timer starts the morning pot
brewing where it greets me
at the same time, my alarm wakes me.

“Coffee” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler originally appeared in the September 23, 2013, issue of vox poetica Magazine

Photo Source: Pixaby

Comments about Coffee and Jimmie’s poetry:

  • Jean – “Jimmie! Beautifully written and all too true. I like the way you ended as you began. Thank you so much for this engaging poem.”
  • Annmarie – “Jimmie Kepler writes a love poem to a rock star.”
  • Brittany- “I love his story poems. He writes wonderful narrative poetry. They frequently remind me of the lyrics of a folk song.”
  • Marissa – “I heard Jimmie do a reading of ‘Forever Still’ in Plano, Texas a few years ago. His poetry has the passion of the Beat Poets, the tenderness of the hippie poets, and the intellect of the renaissance man. His southern gentleman manners and charm as well as his soft, soothing, Bill Clinton like voice and pacing makes a woman dream he’s reading his magical words to just her.”

Thanks

Part of learning to deal with a chronic illness is learning to give thanks.

Today’s Bible Verse:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV), “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

What the Verse Means:

The verse reminds us that Christians should not only pray to God but also give thanks to Him. We should thank him for everything, in every circumstance, in joy as well as in sorrow.

Praying Using the Verse:

  1. Heavenly Father, help us always show gratitude to family and friends who help and support us as we battle our chronic illness.
  2. Lord Jesus, help us to praise God daily for who He is and for His love and care for our loved one (or yourself) confronting the chronic illness.
  3. God Almighty, we thank you for a loving church and Bible fellowship class and our brothers and sisters-in-Christ who help and support us.
  4. We give thanks for the good medical care and counsel.

Photo Source: Pixaby

Five Approaches to Publishing a Book

Five Ways to Publish a Book

Today there are five ways to publish a book:

  • Way #1 -Traditional Publishing (The Big 5 Trade Publishers)

Trade Publisher #1. Hachette Book Group

Hachette Book Group (HBG) is a division of the second-largest trade and educational book publisher in the world, Hachette Livre. Hachette Livre is based in France and is a subsidiary of the French media company, Lagardère.

Trade Publisher #2. HarperCollins

HarperCollins Publishers is a subsidiary of News Corp, the global media company led by Rupert Murdoch.

Trade Publisher #3. Macmillan Publishers

Macmillan is a global trade publishing company, which is owned by the German Company Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, with imprints in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, and around the world.

Trade Publisher #4. Penguin Random House

Originally international publishing giants in their own rights, on July 1, 2013, Penguin, a Pearson company and Random House, owned by the German company Bertelsmann, combined their adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction print and digital trade book publishing divisions.

Trade Publisher #5. Simon and Schuster

Simon & Schuster was founded in 1924 by Richard L. (Dick) Simon and M. Lincoln (Max) Schuster with a bestselling crossword puzzle book. At various times in its history, it has been owned by Marshall Field, Gulf + Western, and Viacom. Simon and Schuster is currently the publishing arm of the media company CBS Corporation, where its diverse offerings include books in the adult publishing, children’s publishing, audiobooks and digital book arenas.
  • Way #2 – Independent Publishing

Using Wikipedia as a guide: “The terms “small press”, “indie publisher”, and “independent press” are often used interchangeably, with “independent press” defined as publishers that are not part of large conglomerates or multinational corporations.

Defined this way, these presses make up approximately half of the market share of the book publishing industry.

Many small presses rely on specialization in genre fiction, poetry, or limited-edition books or magazines, but there are also thousands that focus on niche non-fiction markets.”

  • Way #3 – Custom Publishing

Custom publishing has been the traditional US-based term for what is now known as content marketing.

The definition, as stated by the Custom Content Council (the US Association for custom publishers), custom publishing: “… marries the marketing ambitions of a company with the information needs of its target audience.

  • Way #4 – Vanity Publishing

Again, using Wikipedia as a guide: A vanity press, vanity publisher, or subsidy publisher is a term describing a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published.

Additionally, vanity publishers have no selection criteria as opposed to other “hybrid” publishing models.

  • Way #5 – Self-publishing

The focus of this article.

DIY

Self-publishing is DIY, that is, do-it-yourself publishing.

Losing Stigma

Once upon a time self-publishing was viewed with stigma. If you told someone you were self-published their eyes would roll and they would move away from you at a party. It is not held in as much reproach as it once was.

Part of the reason for the lessened contempt is more self-published authors are paying the price and doing a good job. This includes writing a good story. Having the book professionally edited is another element more are including. Cover design once completed poorly in Microsoft Paint is being handled professionally. They realize they have to learn to build an email list and market the book. And on and on I could go.

I will be writing a few articles on Wednesday’s from the lessons I have learned and am still learning on my own journey as a self-published author. Self-publishing isn’t for most people. Few authors that I know are willing to do both the writing and all the technical stuff related to formatting, cover design, book layout, marketing campaigns, etc. For those that want to learn more about the process, I’ll be posting regularly.

The photos are of the covers of two of my eight books. Rebuilder is religious science fiction. Thy Will be Done: 60 Prayer for the Chronically Ill is religious nonfiction. They are available in print and ebook from Amazon, and in ebook from iBooks, Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, and all major retailers worldwide. My books are also available in ebook format through most libraries in North America, Canada, and Europe.

A Nightmare’s Prayer

A Memoir

I highly recommend “A Nightmare’s Prayer” by Mike Franzak. It is a wonderful memoir of the early days of the Afghanistan campaign. You get the feeling you are with him as you go through the deployment from Yuma, AZ to Bagram.

I was shocked to learn that the Harrier aircraft cannot take off vertically about 5,000 feet elevation. His description of the scary take off from Cherry Point, North Carolina had the hair standing up on the back of my neck.

Blues Brothers Call Signs

I loved the Blues Brothers call signs of Jake, Elwood, Blues, and Joliet.

Harrier Aircraft’s Achilles Heal

The information that the Harrier Aircraft struggled to stay above 400 Kilometers Per Hour (KPH) with a load and at altitude had me questioning the wisdom of using the aircraft in this theater and wondering why it had ever been added to the arsenal. The book provides a profound reminder of how lethal mines are … and how they don’t know who they are killing.

I shook my head at the policymakers since the 400 KPH speed is the maneuver speed needed to avoid the Surface to Air Missiles (SAM). When reading the book I jotted down a couple of things that caught my attention. First was “The generals and policymakers had grown so risk-averse, they tied the hands of those charged with enforcing the policies.” The second was when he was landing at night and wrote, “I saw the base, but not the runway…” That was pretty profound. The tiny IR lights had been obscured by the generator-powered lights of Bagram Air Base. So much for night light security.

Prayers and Promises

The chapter Prayers and Promises is riveting, heart-pounding and action-packed. And you too will see after reading that chapter that “This time God had answered a Nightmare’s Prayer.”

The book is wonderful. It makes a lasting contribution to the literature and history of the Afghanistan War. You get Mike Franzak’s story. And the story is gripping. It will have you cheering the Nightmare’s actions and shaking your head at the big picture decision makers. Mike Franzak’s memoir will grip you and hold your interest. It will have you turning page after page. You get a nice picture of the soldier on the ground form the pilots point of view. Bravo Lt.Col (Ret) Mike Franzak for a telling your story.

Recommended for all military history buffs and aviation buffs.  Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.

By the Big Creek

By the Big Creek

I was hiking
By the big creek
On a summer day
In the bright sun
It was so hot
And I was all alone

Lost in my thoughts
My foot struck the pathway
To the cadence
Of the music
I was listening to
On my iPod

By the big creek
There were people
Reading signs saying keep right
And a concrete path
With city dwellers walking
To and fro

Lovers hand in hand
And it all made sense
Except for the litter
On the big creek’s banks
While across the way
Was a broken down barbed-wired fence

In the bright sun
Not a cloud in the sky
There was sweat on my brow
Running down my temples
As an old lady walked by
And she smiled at me showing her dimples

It was so hot
I drank some water
Lots of cool water
And the temperature
Was 110 degrees
And that was in the shade

Lost in my thoughts
My foot struck the pathway
To the cadence
Of the music
I was listening to
On my iPod

While I was hiking
By the big creek
On a summer day
In the bright sun
It was so hot
And I was all alone

© 2011
Jimmie Aaron Kepler


Photo Source: Pixaby

Focus on God

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Dealing with a chronic illness can often lead to depression. Don’t focus on your circumstances. Instead, focus on God.

Today’s Bible Verse

Psalm 42:1-5 (KJV), “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”

What the Verse Means

The first five verses of Psalm 42 are the cry of a man far removed from the ordinances and worship of God. It shares the voice of a spiritual believer, possibly under depressions, longing for the spiritual renewal of God’s divine presence. We see him facing doubts and fears as well as clinging to his faith in the living God.

Praying using the verses

  1. Heavenly Father, help our soul to pant or long for you.
  2. Lord Jesus, our soul thirsts for the living God. We ask, when shall we come and appear before the living God?
  3. Lord, we long for you. Our tears have been our food night and day. 
  4. God, our hope is in you for we shall praise you!

Photo Source: Pixaby

Keep My Words

Text: Proverbs 7: 1-3

My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 7: 1-3 Crossway Bibles (2011-02-09). The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (p. 531). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Christian Writer’s Must Honor Christ

As Christian writers, our witness must honor Christ. The world will not read or listen to hypocrisy. Proverbs 7: 1 (ESV) says, “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live…”

If a person follows the Lord, he/she must purposely embrace godly wisdom.

Only the Bible has this wisdom.

The Bible is God’s divinely inspired Word.

It is the final authority in all matters. This includes human thought, speech, and conduct.

Keep My commandments

It is hypocritical for a person to say that they are a Christian, a Believer in Jesus Christ, if they deliberately, consistently violate His commandments.

Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

Proverbs 7:3b teaches one way to keep God’s teachings. It says, “… write them on the tablet of your heart.”

When we internalize Scripture through memorization of the Word of God, His Word is in our heart to guide us. God’s desire isn’t to keep us from having fun, but rather to protect.

As Christian writers, we need to know and follow God’s Word. How we live is just as important as what we write.

Creative Commons License
Devotionals for Writers: Keep My Words by Jimmie A. Kepler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Into the Viper’s Nest: The First Pivotal Battle of the Afghan War

“Into the Viper’s Nest: The First Pivotal Battle of the Afghan War” by Stephen Grey is the story of American and Afghan forces cooperation in dealing with the Taliban stronghold on southern Afghanistan.

Three-day Battle for Musa Qala

It details the vivid three-day battle for the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala. The battle started on 7 December 2007 This is an excellent, well-written book.  Grey skillfully tells the story of how American, British, and Afghan forces took the fight to the Taliban in 2007.

Taliban Stronghold

The town of Musa Qala was a notorious Taliban stronghold. This was the location chosen for everything to change. A local leader decided he was going to leave the Taliban. He was joining the Hamid Karzai’s government. This defection needed coalition protection.

Excellent Writer

Stephen Grey is an excellent writer. He captures all phases of this story. He covers the discussions between President Karzai and coalition leaders. He covers the particulars of the deadly combat to wrestle control of Musa Qala from the hands of the Taliban.

International Cooperation

He paints a picture of International cooperation as he tells the story through the words of the British, Afghani, and American men who were there. The publisher did an excellent job with eight pages of graphics and charts to showing systematically how the battle took place.

I highly recommend this book for any reader looking for a tactical-level viewpoint on the Afghan War. Anyone interested in Afghanistan and the war against the Taliban will benefit from reading the book. I recommend for community and university libraries as well as the personal libraries of all military historians. This is the best I have read on United States involvement in Afghanistan.

How to Import a Microsoft Word Document Into Scrivener

My Experience

Maybe your writing experience shadows mine. You’ll recognize my story. I’d been writing for several years using Microsoft Word. Through trial and error, I finally had an average mastery of Bill Gates word processing program.

One weekend I attend a writer’s workshop. It seemed like every speaker and attendee were gushing over some software named Scrivener. Scrivener was like the handsome new boy who had transferred to your high school.

All the guys you knew for years no longer were as attractive. All your girlfriends were gushing over this Johnny-come-lately boy. One glance and you saw why they were going crazy. You also thought he’s out of my league.

Maybe like looking at the new boy you saw how attractive Scrivener looked. You also thought Scrivener was probably out of your league. It looked too hard. The learning curve looked too steep. You realized you already had your files in MS Word. You did not want to retype the manuscript.

Good News

You are smart. You are smarter than Scrivener. You do not have to retype a manuscript to get it into Scrivener. It is actually fairly straightforward to import an existing file from Word into Scrivener.

Importing is one of the first functions a new Scrivener should master. Here is how to do it.

Importing a Word Document

To import a Word document go to:

File=>Import=>Files.

A new window will open.

Select the file you want to import into Scrivener.

Select open.

A window will pop open alerting you that your document will be converted to RTF as well as what the Draft folder supports.

This should be a problem as your draft will normally only be text without images.

Typical Scenario

You are writing or have written a novel in Word. You have all the chapters in one large file. You may or may not have your scenes separated by “breaks.”

What you want is to have all the scenes in the Word file broken down into several separate text files, a file for each scene. Instead of importing the entire document as one large file what you can do is use Scrivener’s Import and Split function.

How to Use Scrivener’s Import and Split Function

Go to the Word document.

For every scene/chapter break, you need to type in a separator symbol such as a hash mark (#) in the document.

Once you’re finished adding your separator symbol, save it, go to Scrivener and go to File=>Import=>Import and Split.

A window will open,

select your Word document

Make sure the separator is in the box, in this example a #.

If you separated each scene with three hash marks, the box needs to have three hash marks (###). If you used three * then you need three * in the box (***).

Hit okay

Like magic, your large Microsoft Word document now appears as several text files in the binder.

You then can move scenes and chapter around easily.

Remember, you can learn to import your existing Microsoft Word files into Scrivener. You are smart. You are smarter than Scrivener. There is no need to retype a manuscript to get it into Scrivener. Following the above checklist makes it straightforward to import an existing file from Word into Scrivener.

You are now ready to import and master one of the basic first functions a new Scrivener should learn.