Writer’s Life: Doing Research in the 21st Century

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Gratitude: The ten best Books, TED-talks and Apps

I am doing research at the moment for my new book Thriving On Change with Gratitude and Generosity (new working title.) Research is a tedious process, but it has to be done, Writer's Lifeeven if only to avoid saying the same thing in the same way for the 30th time. I watch a lot of TED-talks and I am very grateful to my friend Tia for introducing me to these talks. I have subscribed to the Ted.com website and now they send me regular e-mails with recommendations. Whenever I do research for a book, this is where I start.

I share the writing of this book in more detail on my Patreon Page, where I include details of the marketing plan that I put into practice before I typed the first letter of this book. Any aspiring Indie Authors and Authorpreneurs, hop over to Margaretha Montagu is creating horse-inspired life-enriching Books and join the Club!

The 10 Best Gratitude Ted-talks

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
Oprah Winfrey

Below you will find the 10 Ted-talks I found most informative while writing the Gratitude Journal chapter of my new book.

Hailey Bartholomew: 365 Grateful Project

Mike Robbins: The power of appreciation

Jane Ransom: Discover the Three Keys of Gratitude to Unlock Your Happiest Life

David Steindl-Rast: Want to be happy? Be grateful

Shawn Achor: The secret of being happier at work

Dr. Kerry Howells: How thanking awakens our thinking

Robert Biswas-Diener: Your Happiest days are behind you

Louie Schwartzberg: Nature – Beauty – Gratitude

Katia Sol: The transformative power of gratitude

Brian Doyle: 365 Days of Thank You


The 10 Best Gratitude YouTube Videos

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
Charles Dickens

I also look at YouTube video’s in general, and I have found the 10 below the most inspiring and illuminating.

Get Grateful

Janice Kaplan: The Gratitude Diaries

How and Why to Start a Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Is Good For You

The Four A’s for Expressing Gratitude

Gratitude Works!: The Science and Practice of Saying Thanks by Robert Emmons

The Gratitude Experiment

The Science of Gratitude

An Experiment in Gratitude: The Science of Happiness

Oprah’s Gratitude Journal

The 10 Best Gratitude Books

“Happiness, the sheer joy of being alive, is within our reach. All we need is an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude creates happiness because it makes us feel full, complete; gratitude is the realization that we have everything we need, at least in this moment.”
MJ Ryan

I read loads of articles, mostly online, and I add them to the Bibliography Section of each book I write. I also read books and I have found the 10 below very useful.

  1. MJ Ryan and Daphne Rose Kingma’s Attitudes of Gratitude in Love: Creating More Joy in Your Relationship
  2. Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons’ Living Life as a Thank You
  3. Br. David Steindl-Rast’s May Cause Happiness: A Gratitude Journal
  4. Gary Fiedel and Karie Jacobson’s Stop-Look-Go: A Grateful Practice Workbook and Gratitude Journal
  5. Julie Saffrin’s BlessBack: Thank Those Who Shaped Your Life
  6. Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts
  7. Robert A. Emmons’ The Little Book of Gratitude: Create a Life of Happiness and Wellbeing by Giving Thanks
  8. John Kralik’s 365 Thank You Notes
  9. MJ Ryan’s Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life
  10. Charles M. Shelton’s The Gratitude Factor: Enhancing Your Life through Grateful Living

The 10 Best Gratitude Apps

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Melody Beattie

I do not have many apps on my phone and I certainly have not tried all the apps below, but I chose the ones with the best reviews. The ones I have tried did not disappoint.

  1. The Gratitude Journal
  2. Thankful for
  3. Live Happy
  4. Grateful
  5. 365 Gratitude
  6. Zest
  7. GratitudeStream
  8. Thankful for
  9. DailyGift
  10. Attitudes of Gratitude

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Book Give-away

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A couple of years ago, I did a very successful Book Giveaway of my book, You ARE Good Enough – a 10-Step Strategy to Stop Sabotaging Yourself, on InstaFreebie.

It is high time that I do another book giveaway, this time of my book Self-Confidence made Simple – 16 French Womens’ Self-esteem Secrets and what better occasion to do so than for Valentine’s day?

Three lucky participants in this book giveaway will be able to download an e-book copy of their own, on Monday morning the 18th of February, after the book giveaway closes at midnight on Sunday the 17th.

If you would like to participate, please fill in the form at the bottom of this page and answer the question “Name one or more French Women that you admire…” It can be any French women that you either know or have heard about – an actress like Catherine Deneuve, an author like Simone de Beauvoir, a scientist like Marie Curie…the choice is yours. The 3 successful participants will be selected at random.

Giveaway Rules

  • You can only participate by filling in the form at the bottom of this page.
  • This book giveaway is open to subscribers to my mailing list only. If you are not a subscriber yet, your e-mail address will be added to my mailing list, so that I can let you know about new blog posts, new book releases and further giveaways. You can unsubscribe at any time.
  • This giveaway ends at 11:59pm GMT on February the 17th.
  • Participants must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway participants agree not to attempt to cheat the system – any suspicion of fraud will be decided on by this blog’s owner and participants may be disqualified at my discretion.
  • Successful participants will be personally informed by e-mail and their names will be announced in the comments below this post, on Twitter, on Instagram and on my Facebook Page.
  • Successful participants have 48 hours to claim their book from Bookfunnel.

Can’t wait? Grab your copy of Self-Confidence made Simple today by clicking here!

About the book
French women are famous for their effortless elegance, their enchanting independence, their irresistible charm and their unshakable self-confidence. Would you like to discover the secrets of these consistently confident women?

In Self-Confidence mad Simple, twelve of Dr Margaretha Montagu closest French friends share their confidence secrets with you. Margaretha has lived in France for part of her childhood and for most of her adult life. She has spent nearly twenty-five years, first as a medical doctor and more recently as a workshop leader, empowering women to live long, happy, healthy and fulfilling lives, full of purpose and meaning.

Discover the secrets of 12 supremely self-confident women.

In this book, you will meet twelve French women, Anaïs, Inès, Lisa, Marie-Therèse, Claire, Régine, Amèlie, Corrine, Béatrice, Annie, Monique and Eloïse who will share their stories with you. As you share these women’s joys and sorrows, you will discover how they remain unconditionally self-confident, serenely sophisticated and perfectly poised no matter how challenging the situations are that they find themselves in.

To each story and to every secret, Dr Montagu brings her extensive knowledge and experience, with practical suggestions to help you incorporate each of these potentially life-changing strategies into your own life.

Self-Confidence made Simple is a guide to becoming a woman who knows exactly who she is, who takes excellent care of herself, who leads a balanced, purposeful and fulfilling life, who has a solid support network, who can laugh at herself, who knows she has a lot to be grateful for, who knows how to forgive, who competently handles stress, who knows how to say NO without apologising and who knows that being ageless is all about attitude.

If you too want to master the skills you need to develop rock-solid self-confidence, this book is for you.

About the Author
Reading is one of my all-time favourite things. I mostly read historical mysteries – don’t you just love that feeling of so completely losing yourself in a book that when you stop reading you feel bereft? I also read non-fiction, mostly self-help books. I am always looking for new strategies that I can use to help the participants of my equine-facilitated personal empowerment workshops here in the south of France. Of course, being convinced that equine-assisted experiential learning is the next best thing to sliced bread, I also read a lot about that.

A few years ago, the writing bug got me. I loved writing right from writing the very first (very badly written) blog post. Eventually, I thought that it may well be an idea to write a book or two based on the knowledge and experience I had acquired by presenting my workshops and reading all those self-improvement books. Obviously, I didn’t just want to repeat what had already been written much more eloquently than I could ever manage. So I started writing from my own experience of living in France, owning and caring for horses, fighting the ever-present threat of losing my sight and presenting my workshops.

I am an experienced medical doctor, a certified NLP practitioner, a medical hypnotherapist and an equine-assisted psychotherapist (EAGALA level II). Articles about my work have been published in Horse and Rider, in Chronicles of the Horse and in the Guardian newspaper (UK).

Connect with Margaretha
FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and The Mpowering Women Community PinterestInstagramYoutubeGoodReadsPatreon

 

Writer-Introvert Insecurity

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It is estimated that the owners of the blog Wait but Why earn up to $30 000 per month on Patreon. This, I think, answers the question in my blog post Attending the Birth of a Book from last week, Can one make money from blogging? My next question is, How do the owners of Wait but Why do that?

The answer is very simple: the writer of the blog put in the hours needed to create unique, high quality and well-researched blog posts, kept at it diligently, build up his following exponentially (186k followers on Twitter and 16k subscribers on YouTube) and monetised the blog cautiously. Wait by Why was founded by Tim Urban and Andrew Finn and has 371 000 subscribers. There is a very good article on Shopify that explains how the blog was monetised called “The Right Way to Monetise a Blog (With Lessons From Wait But Why.)”

In the not-so-good old days (for artists, in any case) if you wanted to make a living from your art, you needed a patron. Several famous artists, like Mozart, Beethoven, Michelangelo and William Shakespeare, had one or more devoted patrons who supported them financially and thus enabled them to create their masterpieces. Today, artists are still supported by patrons, but instead of one or two very wealthy patrons, artists can now have thousands of patrons who each donate a small amount per month. Wait but Why has more than 3600 patrons, some donating as little as $1 a month, others much more.

The platform that has made the support of singers, songwriters, screenwriters, filmmakers, writers, bloggers and painters possible, by anyone with an interest in their work, is called Patreon. At Patreon, artists share their work with their patrons, on a monthly basis and get paid, on a monthly basis. Patreon has over 1 Million patrons and 50,000 creators on its platform. It is estimated that Patreon paid their creators $150 Million In 2017. The 35 top creators on Patreon earned over $150,000 In 2016.

Does everyone on Patreon earn lots of money? Certainly not. Less than 2% of creators on Patreon earn the monthly (American) minimum wage. The creators who earn the most, are those who are willing to invest the time and energy needed to attract and keep patrons. So very few creators make a living on Patreon, but a huge number make a tidy sum that helps them make ends meet at the end of the month.

This is what I set out to do when I created The Friesian Fillies Fan Club on Patreon. I want to earn enough to provide for my horses – my horses supply the inspiration for my books and I cannot do my day job, host my Connect with Horses personal empowerment workshops, without them. A substantial number of writers, and a small number of bloggers, already earn a decent amount on Patreon every month, so I decided to give it a go as well. For me, it is another way of earning income from the books I write – in addition to the money I make by selling my books, Patreon enables me to make money by writing my books.

I do have a bit of a problem, though. One of my favourite authors, Brené Brown said, “The easiest way to think about vulnerability is the willingness to show up and be seen when you can’t control the outcome.” I spent nearly every waking hour (and some half-asleep) of the last week creating my page on Patreon and now that it is ready to launch, my “Margaretha Montagu is creating equine-inspired life-enriching Books“-page is making me feel vulnerable. Because it does mean putting myself and my work out there on a substantial scale, doesn’t it? My half-finished, yet-unpolished work (in as far as I ever manage to get it properly polished.) This is about more than my usual writer-introvert insecurity.

I think I have created a very good page, but when I look at some of the other writers’ and bloggers’ pages, I think, ‘This is so exceptionally good. The writing sparkles, the ideas are beyond innovative, the books already published of such incredible quality…Why am I even bothering to put a page up? Why would anyone want to support me when they can support these amazing writers?”

Is there any truth in what Neil Gaiman said? That “the one thing that you have that nobody else has, is you. Your voice, your story, your vision. So write…as only you can.” That I can do, but will anyone be interested enough in finding out how I write books to become my patron? Time will tell.

Next week, I will blog about the process of creating a page on Patreon (subscribe to my mailing list so that you will be notified of new blog posts and book giveaways.) In the meantime, you can have a look at the Friesian Fillies Fan Club on Patreon here: Margaretha Montagu is creating equine-inspired life-enriching Books.

Attending the Birth of a Book

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I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.
Neil Gaiman, author of Stardust, Coraline, and The Sandman

This year, I have decided to practice what I preach and make a few changes. The last two years I have been immobilised by the frequent need for eye surgery. This year, even though there is more surgery in the pipeline, I intend to challenge myself to change myself and change my world. Starting with my writing. This year I want to write regularly again, both blog posts and books. I want to market my writing properly and earn some money from it. I am sure I will make several mistakes along the way (I am very good at that!) but I will no doubt learn a lot too that I can share here and in future books.

I have already learned quite a lot in January. One night, while I was fluttering from blog post to blog post online, as you do at three o’clock in the morning, I came across a website where enterprising bloggers publish blog posts, once or more a month, and get paid a monthly fee by people who want to read their posts.

My brain imploded. There are people out there who are willing to PAY to read blog posts – the very same blog posts hundreds of bloggers are turning out in their thousands every year, entirely free of change? What a discomfiting surprise! Especially at three o’clock in the morning, when you are awake because you are fretting about not earning enough to feed your hungry herd…

I know that several of the readers of my blog are bloggers too and that many of the 12 000 people who follow me on Twitter are writers – many just as keen to increase their income as I am, so I am going to share with you what I have discovered during the first month of the year. My first challenge of 2019.

About these blog posts. I wondered if the blog posts that people are willing to pay for are exactly the same as those that people like me publish four or more times per month, without ever charging a single penny per post? I shouldn’t think so. Reading a bit deeper, I discover that I am right, in part. You can make money sharing your blog posts on this website, but you have to produce high-quality, in-depth, well-researched blog posts, regularly. I also discover that not a lot of bloggers use this website yet, but a lot of writers do and at least 200 writers on this site earn more than $1000 per month at this website. Fancy that.

I am hooked, on the spot. I spend the next two hours discovering how writers earn money by sharing their work. It turns out that there are people who are actually interested in attending the birth of a book. They find the whole process fascinating. Really? I mean, REALLY? Writing a book is such a messy, tiresome and rambling business – in any case, it is when I write a book – I can just not imagine why anyone would want to be part of this process. Apparently, there are people out there who enjoy watching a book take shape and even assisting in its creation, offering advice in comments and making their opinions known in polls.

Well, I never.

Not quite sure how I feel about this. Do I really want to expose my worst writing weaknesses, my frequent indecision, my unquenchable self-doubt, my ever-worsening self-criticism and my numbing-but-luckily-intermittent writer’s block to the public at large? My reading public? Of course, I am interested in my readers’ opinions. I am after all writing for one reason and one reason only, to make a difference in as many peoples’ lives as possible…for the better. If they could tell me which of my strategies work for them and which of my strategies are entirely useless, as I am writing… that could indeed be incredibly useful.

The idea starts to grow on and in me.

I have 5 horses to feed, water and generally keep in the manner they consider appropriate to their exceptional talent, beauty and intelligence. $1000 per month will come in very handy. I have to admit that many of the strategies that go into my books, I developed from what I learned while facilitating equine-assisted experiential learning sessions during our Connect with Horses personal empowerment workshops. Without the horses, there would have been no books anyway. So I guess it is fitting that they get the lion’s share of whatever I earn by sharing what they taught me.

Should I give it a go? What do you think? I will be a fair amount of work, firstly to set it up and then to keep it going and there will be the ever-present fear of failure to contend with. I write every day in any case, though, because I am quite thoroughly convinced that I want to try and help people become more confident, communicate better, manage their emotions and handle stress better – and even though I feel somewhat intimidated to share my convoluted and confused writing process, if I don’t try, I’ll never know if I can actually make it work.

It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another.
But above all, try something.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, author of Looking Forward

Right, I’ll take this advice, so here goes. I am going to investigate this website and read up around it and then I will share with you what I found out. If it works for me, if I manage to increase my earnings using this website, I will let you know, fellow-writers and bloggers, so that you can use it too.

 

Confronting Challenges with Resilience

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My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.
Steve Goodier

In the gratitude and generosity journal that I am writing at the moment, Navigating Change with Gratitude and Generosity, I have created a template to make it easier for my readers to incorporate gratitude and generosity into their lives. With “generosity,” I am referring to small acts of kindness rather than to huge donations to charity. Time, acceptance and attention can be as precious a gift as mountains of money.

My template, of course, includes a picture and a short description of the day’s inspiring stallion, gelding mare or foal. One of the prompts concerns the challenge(s) the reader faces that day. It looks like this:

Biggest Challenge Today – Name the biggest challenge that you are dealing with today and note what you are learning from this challenge.

Yesterday, I came across a very good article on the Mindful.org website, about how to cultivate resources for resilience. Resilience seems to be the buzzword of the moment. No one has enough of it, everyone wants to know how to develop more so as to cope more effectively with the challenges that come their way. I tend to agree, the more resources we have, and the better these resources are developed, the more resilient we will be.

Becoming more resilient is not difficult. One way to do so is to use what we have learned from experience to increase or develop our current resources. In his new book, Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakeable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness, Rick Hanson, the writer of the article mentioned above, talks about how to turn passing experiences into lasting inner resources. This makes a lot of sense to me and that is why I have added this “Biggest Challenge Today” prompt to my journal. We all have to face challenges, often daily, but do we actually learn everything there is to learn from each challenge, whether we succeed in dealing with it or not? Especially if we do not manage to handle a crisis well (it happens,) there is potentially a lot to be learned from the experience. Instead of trying to forget our mistakes or failures as soon as we can, we could look at the experience in more detail, to see what resources we can gain or develop further to help us be more resilient when the next challenge comes along.

Confronting our challenges, big or small, can help us identify resources that we can acquire or develop further to make ourselves more resilient.

Take patience, for example. Many of the challenges I have to cope with involve a lot of sitting around and waiting. Or it would have, had I not decided to develop my patience resource further. I can wait, patiently, if I have to. I live with 5 great role models who show up every evening an hour or two before feeding time and then wait around patiently and more or less passively until 6 o’clock for their evening hay to arrive. But I have too much to do, I do not have time to sit around patiently. So, I decided to try to wait actively instead of passively. I can make a gratitude list while I wait for my turn to pay in the supermarket. I can write a blog post in my head while waiting in traffic. I can practice mindfulness while I wait for a friend in a restaurant. I can wait actively and productively. These days, whenever I wait, the temptation to grab my phone for mindless entertainment online is nearly irresistible. I try not to do that anymore. If I do use my phone while I wait, it is to send a message or make a phone call.

The list of resources that we can use to make ourselves more resilient is long: compassion, kindness, patience, perseverance, gratitude, awareness, understanding, insight, generosity, confidence, courage, knowledge, assertiveness, the ability to forgive, to let go of resentment…Looking back at an experience you can ask yourself, “Would it have helped if I had been more patient, more determined, more generous, more confident etc? Or you can look towards a challenge that you have to cope with deciding to be more patient, more determined, more generous, more confident etc.

Self-confidence is a resource that can make you much more resilient. My book Self-Confidence made Simple: 16 French Women’s Confidence Secrets introduces its readers to a variety of confidence-building techniques.

Self-awareness, being mindful of yourself, is just as useful a resource as self-confidence, if not more so. In my book Mindfulness and Meditation Options, you can find out how to become more mindful, with the help of 5 mindfulness masters, my horses.

The most effective way to put mindfulness into practice and significantly increase your self-confidence would be to attend one of my Connect with Horses Personal Empowerment workshops here in the south of France. Consider yourself to have been personally invited.

 

If you read both these books and found inside one or more ways to make your life easier, it would be great. Even greater would be if you enjoyed the stories about my French friends in Self-confidence made Simple and about my horses in Mindfulness and Meditation Options.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my mailing list so that I can let you know when I have written another blog post, have early bird or last minute discounts on my workshops or publish another book – and to get your 10 Steps to Instant Self-Confidence Guide – straight from the horse’s mouth!