How James Chartrand Helped Me Publish 6 Kindle Books in 5 Months


Damn Fine Words contest

Damn Fine Words – the best writing course for business owners

“The problem is not the problem.

The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean




(Official entry: Damn Fine Words Contest)

My life changed on April 4, 2014.

Correction: it didn’t change—it was transformed by two events.

The first event was the epiphany I gained by reading the following post by James Chartrand:

Why some people make money writing and others never will

In this must-read post, James says that writing practice is essential but not enough to be a successful professional writer.

She goes on to define the Four Secret Keys of a Successful Writing Habit:

Key #1: Specific, writing-centric goals:

According to James, “If you want to make money with words, you need to constantly set, work towards and achieve specific writing goals.”

Repeatedly; day after day, week after week.

Key #2: Community

Spending time with other writers, exchanging notes and critiques and gaining mutual support is crucial for success as a writer. Most writers try to go it alone and wonder why it’s such an uphill struggle.

James echoes the words of the Buddha who taught that noble companionship is indispensable for spiritual progress.

Key #3: Accountability

All successful writers know that writing is hard work. To succeed as a writer, you need to be disciplined, diligent, patient and persistent.

However, you can’t do it alone. You need an accountability buddy.

But your accountability buddy should be someone who sets high standards for your success and makes sure you stick to them. Otherwise, it just won’t work.

If you want a top-notch professional accountability coach, check out this free video course – Commit Action.

(You have to opt in but it’s totally worth it.)

Key #4: a Mentor

Most writers (and that included me before I read this article) don’t realize that success is impossible without a mentor. You have to select your mentor with care. So how do you choose your mentor?

James says that a few minutes of conversation with your mentor should create more direction, clarity and progress for you than weeks of even the best comradeship with a mediocre teacher. (More on this, later.)

James stresses that all these four keys—specific goals, community, accountability and mentorship—are essential if you want to progress from a wannabe amateur to a successful professional writer. Miss one and you will probably find yourself forever in permanent aspiring writer hell.

The second life-transforming event:

This was great but the real game-changer happened because of an online conversation with James in  the comments section of the above post.

It demonstrates the essence of effective mentorship.

Read it – her advice can be applied by any and all writers – it’s super-distilled wisdom. (I read it regularly.)

Free mentorship session with James:

In response to my initial comment about how I planned to implement the four success keys, James asked:

If you could pick three long-term goals (6 months tops) right now, what three would they be?

And if you could break those long-term goals down into bite-sized, 15-minute actionable tasks… what would you choose to work on right now, today?

I listed my three long-term goals for the next six months:

1. Publish six e-books on Kindle, Smashwords, etc. – one every month

2. Send 60 queries to blogs / publications – 10 every month

3. Develop my blog and email list – try to reach the magic figure of 1000 subscribers in six months.

(4. Join DFW.)

James replied:

“Looking at that list of goals and thinking about a six-month period to accomplish all that within… well, if someone handed me that list and said, “Go, James!” I’d either cry or have to clear the decks of everything in my life to work 80-hour weeks. (And then I’d cry.)

I’m VERY big on SMART goals: specific, manageable, action-oriented, realistic and time-based – and I think the realistic one is falling a bit short.

But I know that if you were to break these tasks down into 15-minute action steps, you’d quickly see that for yourself – the list of ALL that you have to do to achieve this would show you right away that it’s not very feasible.

So were this ME, I’d try for this:

1) 1 ebook – drafted and edited, ready to publish by the six-month mark
2) Send 1 query a week for 6 months
3) Strategize a plan to add new subscribers to the blog

But that’s just me.”

Her reply made me realize that my goals were too ambitious.

So I decided to focus on publishing six Kindle books on Amazon.

Five months later, here they are:

  1. How Merry Jones Married Princess Mercy
  2. Prince Merrifix and the Two Wizards
  3. The Secret of the Black Knight
  4. Kosey and the Four Tigers
  5. The Secret of the King’s New Clothes
  6. How Lucky Max Defeated Two Giants and a Dragon

To understand the significance of this achievement, you have to know how much I have struggled to write and publish anything over the past few years.

One of my earlier posts written in 2012 describes how I almost gave up writing:

A Giant Step in the Right Direction

(It was also my first entry for the Damn Fine Words contest.) (:-)

To conclude, if a couple of short messages from James can make such a huge difference, you can imagine what I can achieve if I joined the Damn Fine Words course.

It is a 10-week online copywriting course with 6 modules and 20 lessons where I’ll learn specific writing techniques in a logical, progressive order—with a group of other highly  motivated writers.

Most importantly, it includes mentorship from James, the founder, creator and course instructor of Damn Fine Words.

Once I complete the Damn Fine Words course, I plan to do the Damn Fine Ebooks course – James’s E-book Writing Course.

And life is going to be exceedingly sweet.

Thanks for reading, James. :-)

Over to you:

Who is your mentor and what is the best advice you have ever received from her / him?

Let us know in the comments below.

Damn Fine Words Enter Here


The Best Thing You Can Do With Your Lips

smile more

“A smile is such a little thing,
it does not cost a lot;
It’s free to beggars and to kings;
so why not smile a lot?”
Source Unknown

 Pause for a moment and think back to the last time you smiled.
When was it? Today? Yesterday? Can’t remember?
Do you need a reason to smile? Do you ever smile for no reason at all?

 You should smile as often as you can because when you smile, you automatically relax, and:

  • Your mood perks up
  • Your ability to deal with stress improves
  • Your immunity to illness increases
  • Your heart rate and blood pressure decreases
  • Your breathing slows down and expands
  • Your body releases “feel good” hormones such as serotonin and endorphins
  • Your facial muscles get a good workout, and as a result, you look younger

If you smile more, you’ll probably live longer and you’ll definitely be happier.

No doubt, these are important benefits.

However, the impact of your smile on others is equally important.

What if you smile more at your co-workers in your office?
What if everyone else smiled more at you?
Wouldn’t the office instantly become a better work-place?

What if you greeted the waiter at your favorite restaurant with a smile and a pleasant greeting?
Isn’t it likely to improve his mood instantly and encourage him to smile right back at you?
What if you smiled at everyone all day?

Most importantly, would you consider smiling more at home – at your grandparents, your parents, your children, your spouse?
Would that improve the quality of your communication and connection with them?
You bet it would.

So why don’t we smile more often?
Why has smiling become a rarity, like clarity and charity?
Whatever the reason, we need to get back on the “Smile all you can” wagon.

The most effective way to do this, according to meditation teacher, Ajahn Brahm, is to smile at yourself first thing in the morning.
He advises his students to stand in front of the mirror and smile at themselves as soon as they awake.

At first, he says, this may not be so easy and you may have to stretch the corners of your mouth into a smile with your fingers!
However, if you persist, it will become easier.
If you can bear to smile at yourself first thing in the morning, you will soon find it easier to smile at everyone else.

The more you smile, the more natural it will become, until it become your nature to smile all the time.
And everywhere you go, everyone you meet will reflect your smile right back at you.

JRD Tata remarked in an interview that wherever he went around the world, whenever he smiled at anyone, they smiled right back at him. Always. No exceptions.
A smile is one investment that gave him instant returns.

Finally, a smile is the best way to make peace after an argument with anyone.
In the words of Mother Teresa, “Peace begins with a smile—smile five times a day at someone you don’t really want to smile at at all—do it for peace.”

 Ten quotations about smiling:

“A smile is the best way to increase your face value.” Source Unknown

“A smile is a curve that sets everything right.” Phyllis Diller

“A smile is a frown turned upside down.” David Smart

“A laugh is a smile that bursts.” Mary H. Waldrip

“Joy is the feeling of grinning on the inside.” Melba Colgrove

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss

“The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.” William Shakespeare

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” Mark Twain

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Mother Teresa

“Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” Thich Naht Hanh
What happened the last time you smiled at someone?
Leave a comment and let us know.



Simple Blueprint for Quick and Easy Publication of Your First Ebook

roadmap to publishing

After two years of procrastination, I finally published my first Kindle e-book on Amazon KDP as my entry for Nick Daw’s KindleFever contest.

 The main reason for my success is a tool that every writer must use:
a simple checklist.

 Here’s the checklist that I created:

  1. Topic: I decided to create a book containing a list of quotations – a foolproof way to ensure I completed and published an e-book on Amazon KDP within the one-month deadline. I already had a huge collection of quotations so this was a no-brainer. (time taken: 10 minutes)
  2. Sub-topic: I decided to compile humorous quotations for my book because I felt that would be more appealing. Also, my brother Devdas who died a few months earlier loved to share jokes and funny one-liners. I decided to dedicate this e-book to him. That gave me additional motivation to publish my book. (time taken: 20 minutes)
  3. Research: I did two kinds of research:
    a. Comparative research: I searched for other Kindle e-books on the Amazon website and read the book descriptions. I also downloaded some of the free e-books and studied their formats and content.
    b. Content research: In addition to the humorous quotations in my own collection, I collected and compiled funny quotations from different websites. I also tried to find and confirm the sources of different quotations. (time taken: 20 hours, maybe more. This took much longer than I had planned. Often, I got carried away. On the brighter side, I now have enough quotations for a few more e-books!)
  4. Title: I decided to keep it simple – the original title was “101 Humorous Quotations.” Since I had collected so many quotations, I decided to double the number of quotations. However, I did add more quotations and the book actually contains 245 quotations. (time taken: 15 minutes)
  5. Publication page: I based the publication page in my book on other Kindle e-books. Fairly simple to do.  (time taken: 30 minutes)
  6. Main content: The main content of the book is the collection of quotations arranged in categories. This took more time than I expected. Also, I added more quotations in the categories having only one or two quotations.  (time taken: 6 hours, perhaps more)
  7. Introduction: I kept the introduction extremely short – less than 150 words. I knew I would never publish my e-book if I let my inner critic have his way. So I kept it short and sweet, like the rest of the book. (time taken: two hours, including multiple revisions)
  8.  Conclusion: By this time, my minimalist mindset was set in stone. So I did away with the conclusion. Instead, I ended with this quotation by Stevie Smith, “I was drowning, not waving.”  (time taken: 10 minutes)
  9. Format: I chose Garamond font for the main text. Thankfully, publication on KDP doesn’t require any fancy formatting. However, I reviewed all the text repeatedly and tried to make it consistent and zero-error. (time taken: five hours)
  10. Table of Contents: I converted each category into a separate chapter and then used the feature in Windows Word to create a hyperlinked table of contents.  (time taken: 60 minutes)
  11. Back cover: I decided a back cover was unnecessary, though I may create it later.
  12. “About the author” page: Again, I kept it short and sweet and added my blog and social media links.  (time taken: 60 minutes)
  13. Publication on the Amazon KDP site: The entire process of uploading my e-book on the Amazon website took less than 40 minutes, including creation of the book cover. Super easy.
  14. Cover: I used the Amazon KDP Cover Creator to create the cover of my book. Again, I didn’t agonize over it too much. Here it is.

200 Humorous Tweetable Quotations

A few hours later, I received this email message from Kindle Direct Publishing: “Congratulations, your book “200 Humorous Tweetable Quotations” is live in the Kindle Store and has been enrolled in KDP Select…”

 That was sweet. Very sweet, indeed.

P.S.  My e-book “200 Humorous Tweetable Quotations “ is available for free download from Amazon KDP on 24th and 25th July here:

Do you have any questions about publishing your first e-book?
Leave them in the comments below.


(Entry in Carol’s First Friday Link Party: <a href=”″><img src=””/></a>)

Let Humor Accompany You Like The Shadow That Never Leaves

Let Humor Accompany You Like The Shadow That Never Leaves


Humor is everywhere.

if you look for it, you will find it everywhere.

It may be lurking among the bloodshed and gore of the daily news of your favorite newspaper; you only have to turn to the cartoon strips buried within deep within its pages.

The cartoon page is the place where perfect comeback lines abound:

There Hobbes the tiger tells Calvin the enfant terrible: “Why waste time learning when ignorance is instantaneous?”

And Calvin responds, “Life is too inconvenient.”

When Snoopy the dog gets a letter from the editor, “Please don’t send us any more stories. Please. Please. Please.” Snoopy says with a leer. “I love to hear them beg.”

And when Margaret, hopeless romantic, declares to Dennis (the Menace) Mitchell, “I’m yours, all yours!” he retorts, “It’s not nice to threaten people.”

Sometimes, humor will leap out from your child’s report card:

“Johny contributes very well to community singing by listening.”

“The dawn of legibility on his handwriting reveals his utter incapacity to spell.”

Often you will find it on the T-shirts of perfect strangers:

“If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.”

“The more vitamin pills you take, the more expensive your urine.”

Another favorite dwelling place for funny one-liners by anonymous masterminds is on car bumpers:

“Blessed are the famished for they are sticking to their diets.”

“An armed society is a polite society.”

“All easy problems have already been solved.”

“Be kind to unkind people – they need it the most.”

“Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.”

“A rolling stone gathers momentum.”

“The speed of time is one second per second.”

Finally, my personal favorites are jokes about meditation:

“Meditation? It’s not what you think.”

“Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.”

“Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else.”

“Ever stop to think and forget to start again?”

What’s the sound a name makes when it’s dropped?

“If ignorance is bliss, why are so many people unhappy?”

“My karma just ran over your dogma.”

Often, the twist is in the tail of the tale.

“They told me I was gullible and I believed them.”

“I started out with nothing and still have most of it left.”

And the absolutely final anticlimax:

“He who laughs last, thinks slowest.”


Which is your favorite one-liner?

Share it in the comments below.

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My Ten Favorite Humorous Quotations

joker June 2013

I’ve been having a great time collecting humorous quotations for my e-book on Kindle – 200 Humorous Tweetable Quotations.

For my first blog post, I decided to list the ten I found the funniest. Some of them will make you laugh out loud, others may make you smile but all of them are sure to make you feel more cheerful.

So here goes – ten random booster doses of hilarity:

1. “You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 today and we don’t know where the hell she is.” Ellen DeGeneres

2. “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” George W. Bush

3. “The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.” Will Rogers

4. “I tried to think but nothing happened!” Curly Howard

5. “You can observe a lot by just watching.” Yogi Berra

6. “I don’t suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.” Source Unknown

7. “I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel that they have not said enough.” Mark Twain

8. “When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.” Will Rogers

9. “A stockbroker urged me to buy a stock that would triple its value every year. I told him, ‘At my age, I don’t even buy green bananas.’” Claude Pepper

10. “I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.” Jackie Mason

And a bonus:

11. “I was drowning, not waving.” Stevie Smith

So which one did you like the best?

And which is your all-time favorite funny quote?

Add them in the comments below.

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