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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: Tosca Reno

I often like to dedicate Fridays to talking about the writer as a person—time management, character, attitude, health, and all the more “human” components that affect how well we perform in our craft. Top athletes do mental exercises, watch nutrition, make certain to get enough rest to ensure they are running at peak performance. Why shouldn’t we?

I am not going to claim to be an expert at writer wellness, but today I am going to give you my two cents about a simple change that can help you operate at a higher level of efficiency and make you feel like a race car on rocket fuel. Just so you know, my advice and $2.75 can get you a grande coffee at Starbucks, so take it for what it is…my opinion. I will tell you that Who Dares Wins Publishing, the vanguard of excellence in the new publishing paradigm, has just launched Writer Wellness by Joy Held, and she is a real expert. So I highly, highly recommend that you get a copy of her book and check out her web site the first chance you get.

Back to my opinion :D…

Our work is a product of us, and if we are chaotic, unhealthy and strung out, it is going to negatively affect our writing. Too many of you are not sleeping well. You’re tired and wonder what happened to all of your energy. It might be hard to focus and you just don’t feel good in your skin. You want to be best-selling authors, but might wonder how on earth you will ever have the energy to do all that needs to be done. Today I would like to share some of my story in hopes that it might benefit many of you reading.

I have a tremendous amount of natural energy and I rarely drink more than one cup of coffee a day. I sleep eight hours with no trouble and am rarely ever sick. This wasn’t always the case. I still remember the day I had gained so much weight that I was officially in the plus sizes, a land of zebra stripes and rayon where polyester stretch pants go to die. I huddled in a corner and cried. What moron did they put in charge of designing plus sizes? Oh, yeah, a line of cheetahs across my a$$ really made it look smaller.

No matter what I did, my weight kept climbing. I was exhausted all the time, had terrible stomach problems, and I was always sick with something. I actually did exercise. All the time. But, no matter how much I worked out, my weight just kept climbing. My thyroid was fine and most of the doctors just rolled their eyes when I told them that I was eating healthy and working out.

Long story short, after some horrific health problems, I finally found the real culprit behind my weight gain and health problems. I had a massive wheat and dairy intolerance. See, I was eating “healthy.” I did the Special K challenge and added more whole wheat and skim milk…and just got sicker and heavier. Plain fact was that my body didn’t know what the heck to do with the wheat and dairy, so it just stored it as fat. Also, because I was eating so much stuff I was allergic to, my immune system was in a constant state of agitation causing all kinds of problems—eczema, allergies, stomach upset, joint pain, mood swings, etc. We can also assume that I was suffering chronic malnutrition because my body couldn’t use what I was giving it.

Gluten intolerances are often hard to spot because a gluten reaction is not a histamine response like when someone eats shellfish or strawberries. It is an autoimmune response. The body senses the gluten as an invader, and the immune system starts attacking everything in its line of sight. The symptoms can vary from person to person. My mother gets asthma attacks. I get a severely stomach upset, joint pain, and my heart rate (and weight) shoots up. It also makes me exhausted. I’d eat pasta and the only thing I wanted was sleep.

I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but all the sudden gluten-free is popping up everywhere. See, in my layman’s opinion, the food industry has created a massive health problem. Gluten enhances flavor. It stimulates the same dopamine response centers as cigarettes, sex, drugs and alcohol. It’s called “comfort food” for a reason. The gluten protein is very difficult for humans to digest, but it does make food extra yummy and even addictive. Think of gluten as the nicotine of the food industry.

Gluten stimulates appetite. Food manufacturers started adding it to everything—salad dressing, soy sauce, hot dogs, lunch meat, chips, etc. Eat a regular corn chip. Then try and eat one Dorito. It’s tough. We have a hard time staying out of the bag. The reason? Gluten is an appetite stimulant that makes us eat more food so we buy more. Problem is, the food industry added a substance that had a potential to be an allergen to everything! Think if they suddenly started adding peanut oil to everything. How would the peanut allergy rates rise due to overexposure? That is what they did with wheat.

Back before the 50s, the only time you ate wheat was if you ate bread, pastry, cake, or something fried. It was easy to tell when you were having wheat. You could see it. Now? The food manufacturers have subtly slipped this ingredient into virtually everything. So, as a society, we have been overexposed and, as a result, many people are walking around with an intolerance that is wrecking their lives and their waistlines as it once did mine.  

I now eat clean, and what a difference. I have plenty of energy and am blessed with excellent health. Yes, it requires extra effort, but it is worth it for the way I feel. If some of you out there are struggling with weight, body pain, constant fatigue, try pulling gluten out of your diet (Casein—dairy—is similar to gluten so that might have to go, too). It takes three days to get the offender out of your system, and it will be very easy to tell if you cannot tolerate it. You will feel as if you’ve been hit by a wrecking ball the next time you eat it. People think I have this amazing self-discipline, but I really don’t. I just know how horrible I feel eating that stuff, and I prefer feeling great.

I say it’s like putting molasses in the gas tank of a Ferrari vs. putting in high-octane fuel. What a difference in performance!

As writers, we are often multi-tasking. We regularly work a regular day job on top of our writing. Two jobs! Spouses, kids, pets and dust bunnies don’t disappear all because we want to be a novelist. We need all the energy and focus we can get. If you’re in a slump, try taking out the gluten. Even if you aren’t allergic or intolerant it will make you eat healthier and the weight will fall off. Gluten is tough to digest, so it can make even people who aren’t intolerant feel sluggish. There are other grains that are less taking on the system. The first four months I cut out wheat I dropped 30 pounds (much of the weight was edema caused by the allergy).

I now have energy like I did when I was a kid, and that makes a huge difference when it comes to my profession. Thanks for indulging my segue, and I hope it blesses you with good health. Make sure to pick up a copy of Joy’s book. She is the expert, and she has many tips, tools and tactics to help you guys be productive, healthy and more creative.

What are some tips you guys would like to add? How to you stay fit and healthy? What are your challenges?

Happy writing!

Until next time…..

Give yourself the gift of success so you can ROCK 2011. My best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.

Also, I highly recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. Learn all about plotting, how to write great characters, and even how to self-publish successfully…all from the best in the industry. I will be teaching on social media and building a brand in March. For $20 a workshop, you can change your destiny….all from the comfort of home.

Today I decided to do things a little differently. Yes, Mondays are still dedicated to learning about the craft of writing, but it recently struck me that I had exclusively focused on novels. The lion’s share of beginning writers definitely lean to wanting to write novels, but there are other kinds of writers out there, and they need some attention too.

Today we are going to talk a bit about the realm of non-fiction. What are the advantages of writing non-fiction? How do you become an expert?

If you want to have a career as a writer and make money writing, I gotta say that non-fiction is an easier path. Note I wrote “easier” not “easy.” Nothing about being a writer is easy, which is why you will never make it if you don’t LOVE writing with every fiber of your being.

After almost ten years in this business, I believe I have earned enough experience points to say that writing non-fiction has a number of advantages. For those of you who follow this blog regularly, but happen to be born-fiction people, read on. Non-fiction holds some advantages for all writers.

1. It’s easier to get an agent/published in non-fiction.

I can hear the groans and boos, but it is true. Non-fiction isn’t subjective like fiction is. It is easier to fill tangible needs, target an audience, gain a following and build a platform. Face it. If you have a blog about how eating nothing but Spam and mangos helped you lose 50 pounds in three months–the Spamango Diet–and you can add a list of testimonials and show how ten thousand people a week click on your Spamango Blog…it’s going to be a pretty easy sell (and generate contraversy to boot, :D).

Tosca Reno (pictured above) was a 200 pound, depressed, unhealthy housewife who became a competitive fitness athlete after the age of 40. Tosca busted all the misconceptions of women and age. She took her experience and wrote a weekly column In Oxygen Magazine and then later wrote a book. Her Eat Clean Diet is a popular phenomenon.

Your Inner NF Author

Are you a whiz at balancing your checkbook and saving every penny? Possess superior organizational skills? Are you a Toddler Whisperer who can calm even the most hot-tempered three-year-old? Then you may have the makings of a non-fiction platform.

2. NF does well being self-published.

Say you have a knack for matchmaking. You are the go-to gal for those who want to be set up on a great date. All your single friends rely on you for the best love advice. In fact, a number of the friends you’ve set up on dates have even gotten married, all because of you.

You have a popular blog and do regular community TV interviews, radio interviews and talks at local Rotary clubs teaching others your unique insight into romance. You decide to write a book with all the best tools and tactics for successful dating. Do you have to land an agent or get a publishing deal? In my opinion, no. Not right away.

If you have built a platform, then you can likely move a decent amount of copies on your own. Sell your own books for six months or a year and then add it to your agent pitch. Now you are able to show that your self-published NF has a market.

Nontraditional publishing works really well for areas that are a tad gray. For instance, back in the day when I was pitching agents about a social media book, I consistently got the same answer. “Kristen, this is the book everyone wants and needs, but no one wants to be first.” Every agent knew that a social media book was needed, but none of them could wrap their minds around how to write one that would have any kind of longevity. Social media simply changed too quickly and traditional publishing is…slooooow.

They recommended that I self-publish the book first. I didn’t self-publish. I happened to go with a new non-traditional publisher Who Dares Wins Publishing, and that has been an excellent decision. My book has been tremendously successful and has a growing worldwide fan base.

What advantages did I gain?

Now it is far easier for me to show a larger publisher that I am worth their time and money for future books. Also, because I had already finished a book, it was very easy to get an agent. I had a product and a platform. Gina knew I had the stick-to-it to finish, and not only finish, but have an excellent product. Also, the first book has given me scores of testimonials from people who applied my methods. That gives statistical proof that my methods do work. I am no longer a theoretical success, I am a proven commodity.

3. NF naturally lends itself to other endeavors that generate income.

Being a NF author can open doors of additional revenue aside from the book. Can fiction authors do this? Sure, but NF lends itself better to paid workshops, speaking engagements, television, conferences, etc. NF authors are much more likely to be interviewed on big shows like Ellen, The View, or The O’Reilly Factor. These appearances sell a lot of books. Yes, sometimes fiction authors will make appearances, but they are small in proportion to the NF experts.

Fiction can eventually pay money, but think of that as your long-term investment. It takes years to write the book, get the agent, get the book on the shelves, and then almost an additional year to receive a check. It’s gonna be a loooong time before you get paid.

What do you do in the meantime? How can you be viewed as a legitimate writer? Heck, how can you pay some bills? Non-fiction is a great option. Whether you are writing articles, paid blogs, reviews or even web content, that practical side of your brain can help you make ends meet.

Great, Kristen. But who would listen to me?

As you can see, there are a number of advantages to writing non-fiction. The pickle with non-fiction, however, is getting people to care about what we have to say. Hey, everyone has an opinion. Why should we pay attention to yours?

How do we become an expert?

Get a Piece of Paper

This is probably a “no duh,” but those individuals who grace the halls of academia long enough to get extra letters added to their names already have an advantage. If a pediatric neurologist decides to write a book about autism, it is likely readers will trust what she has to say.

Do we have to have to have an advanced degree for people to take us seriously? No.

Experience

Do you have something in your background that makes you uniquely qualified to talk on a certain subject? Above we talked about the neurologist who writes about autism, but what about the mother of an autistic child? Isn’t she also an expert? Yes! She is just an expert of a different sort.

This is mainly how I became a social media expert. First, it was because I spent far too much time on social media :D. I also happened to be one of the early people who saw what social media could do for authors. I find it funny that four years ago I was asking agents what they thought of social media for writers, and they looked at me like I had sprouted another head. Now many of these agents won’t take on a new author unless she can demonstrate a viable social media platform.

So how did I become an expert? I tried and tested every method the other “experts” of the time happened to be touting. What worked? What went BOOM!? I am infinitely grateful for the DFW Writers Conference and Bob Mayer for being my early guinea pigs. I didn’t get paid, but they gave me free reign to try different stuff, and that freedom was invaluable.

Actual Photo of Social Media Expert Kristen Lamb–The Early Years

We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media was birthed out of those years of trying different things, failing, then trying again. I always joke that the title of the book should have been I Made All the Dumb Mistakes So You Don’t Have To. In short? I became an expert based on my experience.

What if you want to write a NF book, but you don’t have a specialized degree/certification and you have no real experience? How do we start from ground zero, nada, nothing? Good questions, and we will answer them next week ;).

In the meantime, how do you guys feel about NF? What do you think someone has to do for you to consider them an expert? Suggestions? Advice?

Happy writing!

Until next time…..

Give yourself the gift of success so you can ROCK 2011. My best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.

Also, I highly recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. Learn all about plotting, how to write great characters, and even how to self-publish successfully…all from the best in the industry. I will be teaching on social media and building a brand in March. For $20 a workshop, you can change your destiny….all from the comfort of home.