How to Plan Low Carb Meals

Eating a low carb mealLow carb meals can be some of the tastiest and satisfying meals you can make, when you know how to plan them. Following a low carbohydrate food plan doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor or walking around feeling hungry all day. There are several different types of diet, so they can be tailored to fit your tastes, making it way easier to stick with the plan.

When starting out, you’ll need to figure out exactly what low-carb means, so you’ll know what you can and can’t eat. Then you can choose the diet that’s right for you, with the added benefit that you know you will enjoy what you eat. Eating low carb means restricting your daily carbohydrate intake. So you will eliminate the foods that are highest in starch and sugar. These foods include bread, pasta, rice, sugar, potatoes and even some fruits such as bananas which are high on the glycemic index (having more natural sugars in them than others).

That may seem like a large group of foods that you can’t eat. However there is still plenty you can eat that will help you feel full and will taste real good. Examples of foods you can eat include eggs, avocado, poultry, meats, fish, olive oil, cheese, and most vegetables. Seasoning vegetables like garlic and onions are usually fine, and spices are allowed in unlimited amounts so you can pack every bite with flavor.

So how do low carb meals help you lose weight? Well, these specific foods let your body use fat for fuel, instead of storing excess calories as fat. That’s what happens when you eat sugary, floury foods. So eating this way can leave you slimmer, with better muscle tone and more energy. These are the benefits that most people shoot for when reducing their food intake.

Now is the time to choose your plan. You can pick either a high fat low carb diet or a low fat low carb diet. Whichever one you choose you will still have a large range of choices. However, with the low fat, low carb plan you will have to stick with lean meats without skin, cook everything in less oil, and use low fat dairy foods. This is likely to leave you feeling hungrier through the day, which makes it harder to stick with the plan.

So for most people, unless you can keep up a high level of motivation, it’s better to eat more fat. This doesn’t mean you have to slather everything in butter. But you eat the delicious crisp skin of roast chicken, the rind on the bacon, and have full fat cheese.

After you choose a plan you can start finding recipes for some tasty low carb meals. Breakfast is easy because you can have eggs, bacon, sausage or whatever you like. (Check that there is no flour or other added high carbohydrate ingredients in your sausage.) Lunch could be a salad with some delicious dressing, chicken and avocado. For dinner, pick something that tastes really good and will fill you up. Otherwise you may get hungry in the night and wander out to the kitchen to snack, which can really sabotage your diet – although even this is okay if you are sure to snack on low carb foods.

Another good choice for lunch, or for an appetizer at dinner time, is a simple soup. Packaged soups contain lots of carbs and tons of sodium, so you’ll need to avoid those. But you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make a home made soup that reduces the carbs without losing any flavor.

Start by making a chicken stock: boil water and left over chicken bones in a pot, then reduce and cover, letting it simmer for 30 minutes. Once it’s done, drain it to remove the bones, then add your choice some low carb vegetables, like peppers or mushrooms, and cook again until they are done. You can either blend it all together in a food processor, or leave the vegetables chunky. To make it into a full lunch meal, add some cooked chicken in the last few minutes.

cauliflower cheese photoAnd how about the main course? That can be very simple too. First pick out the meat or fish that you will have as the center of the dish, then add vegetables from your low carb meal plan. You can cook them any way you like. Add spices for a Tex-Mex dish or a curry. Thicken sauces with ground flaxseed or another choice from your plan.

If you can’t face giving up mac’n’cheese, try it with cauliflower or broccoli instead of the macaroni. You’ll need less milk for the sauce because you won’t add flour, but it can be delicious with lots of cheese grated over the top. And have you ever thought of adding tuna?

There are tons of possibilities when it comes to low carb meals. They can be both fun and satisfying, and you can enjoy delicious flavor while seeing the results you want on the scale. What’s to lose? – only that belly fat!

Benefits of Kindle Publishing

Kindle and book
Following on from our last article, which asked the question why self publish or at least consider self publishing, today we’ll look at the advantages of publishing on the Amazon Kindle platform specifically. So what are the benefits of Kindle publishing?

Kindle Publishing Is Easy

It may look complex if you’re unfamiliar with the terms and formats they use, but Kindle publishing is actually very easy. All it requires is a computer, internet connection and a properly formatted ebook, with a cover. By signing up to the Amazon Kindle publishing platform and submitting your ebook, you can have your book available and selling in less than 48 hours.

With Kindle publishing, you never have to worry about shipping, book storage or printing costs. If you want, later, you can offer a printed copy too, but print on demand services (such as Amazon’s own CreateSpace) mean you never have to have a big, expensive print run.

Self-publishing via Amazon pretty much takes care of every tiny detail for you. Kindle self publishing is not only simple but also requires no traditional publishing company. If you want, you can do the whole thing yourself, right down to designing your cover. Here’s a video showing how to design a cover in Microsoft Word:

No traditional publishing companies or agents required

Why self publish? Well, these days, there’s no need to hire an agent or be taken on by a conventional publishing firm unless you want to. You’re your own boss, so you have the liberty of picking out your favorite genre and using your preferred writing style to write anything you want. You can write a novel on any topic or style, without the fear of an editor looming, saying they want a happy ending or marking your book with mandatory edits and revisions.

Or you can write a non-fiction ebook about your favorite hobby, even if a traditional publisher has told you there’s no market for it. The global reach of ebooks means it’s easier and easier for ebooks on small niche topics to find buyers.

This is a source of inspiration to countless talented writers out there who find sticking to the conventions of regular publishing genres to be a huge limitation. Kindle publishing has turned out to be highly beneficial for authors as it wipes out all of that “red tape” associated with traditional publishing. At the same time, platforms like Amazon Kindle have worldwide reach, giving your ebook the right exposure.

Immediate Exposure

In roughly 48 hours it is possible to have a great number of visitors finding your book online. With self-publishing on the Kindle, each ebook is assigned its own page on the Amazon website, together with product options including reviews and ratings. If you can get some great reviews, that can be a huge boost to your sales. And don’t forget people don’t need a computer to access the site. Mobile gadgets across the world can have unlimited access to your published content. This translates to instant exposure with little or no cost at all.

Bigger Royalties

With standard publishing, an author is lucky to get 5-10% of the sale price of the book. Self publishing through Kindle, at the time of writing, gives authors 70% for all eBooks retailing between $2.99 and $9.99, and 35% on books retailing at lower prices. For some authors who write and sell a lot of books, this can add up fast.

Many people are making fortunes by merely selling ebooks online and increasing the growing trend of Kindle publishing. Therefore, if you have a passion for writing, grab this opportunity and you, too, might make millions through writing. Hint: romance is where the money’s at, especially if you can write series!

Publishing Costs Are Virtually Zero

Of course, there were always ways to self-publish. You could take your book to a printer. But then how would you distribute it? That was always the hitch that made most self-published printed books die – usually with only a few sales to friends and family members.

The costs of conventional self-publishing methods could run into hundreds, maybe even a thousand dollars or more, and you might never sell a single book. With Kindle self-publishing, there are hardly any costs. You might want to hire a professional cover designer, because a lot of people really do judge a book by the cover. Then there are the royalties remitted to Amazon – but those are only taken when a book sells. So, your overall expenses are little to none. Of course, this means you get to keep more cash and enjoy much more income from a successful book.

You can also upload a new edition any time you want. This is big bonus over the old days, when if you spotted a typo on page 10 after the book was printed, you were stuck with it for the whole of the print run. Now you can simply revise your book, upload it and everybody buying from that moment forward will get the corrected version.

Reading this article, you might think that Amazon was the only ebook publishing possibility, and that certainly is not true. Barnes & Noble is another great place to put your book. Smashwords is worth considering too – but neither of these has the global reach or customer base of Amazon, and that’s why we’ve focused mainly on the benefits of Kindle publishing in this article.

Categorized as Publishing

Why Self Publish?

Woman thinking of moneyWhy would you want to self publish, and spend your time on tasks that a publisher would have done for you in the past? It’s a valid question.

Gone are the days of authors hiding themselves away in a garret and emerging in shabby shoes only for the occasional boozy lunch with their publisher’s editor … the days when it took a year or more from the date a book was accepted for publication, to the actual publication day … the days when authors spent weeks and months painfully making edits required by a publisher as a condition of publication.

Now, in the 21st century, we can self publish without the costs and limits of traditional “vanity publishing”. Ebooks have revolutionized the self publishing market – and for some authors, this means they are making millions of dollars selling hundreds of thousands of books without getting a single rejection letter, because they are simply doing it themselves.

If you enjoy writing, if you can string a grammatical sentence together and keep a reader entertained, you could be the next. Whether you write non-fiction or fiction, self publishing is simple, almost effortless these days, and you don’t have any pesky editor to please. This means your books can be out there faster, more cheaply and making much more money for you.

Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

It’s true that there are advantages to having a traditional publisher, if you can get one. You won’t see ebooks in the window of your local bookstore, for example. But if your ebook is successful, a traditional publishing contract could follow – and with a proven successful book on your hands, you are in a position to negotiate  a much better deal.

typewriter-redTraditional publishing can be a long and frustrating process. After writing and revising your manuscript, you had to send it to agents, hoping somebody would take you on as a client. You might wait weeks for each reply. Likely the first few replies would be refusals, so even for a book that was eventually accepted, 6 months might pass before you found the right agent. Then you might wait another year while the agent submitted it to all of the possible publishers, one by one.

Finally you might be offered a contract. After that was negotiated and signed, the editing process would begin. Keep in mind you might already have made changes suggested by your agent – and now you have to make a lot more. Then the publisher (not you) commissions and chooses the cover design. Depending on your contract, you might be able to say no if you hate it, or you might not. Finally, publication date comes around. By that time, it’s been so long that you’re probably thoroughly sick of the book and find it hard to act excited when the publishers roll out publicity interviews for you.

Self Publishing Is Fast

By contrast, with self publishing you can launch your finished book onto the greedy reading public as soon as you want. It’s best to have some input from readers, but you can find beta readers on a book-related website like Goodreads who will happily give you feedback for free, just for the pleasure of reading your book. They will tell you (often painfully frankly) if your book is well plotted or if it’s full of holes, whether they fell in love with the leading man, et cetera.

If your grammar is shaky and you always came last in your middle school spelling bee, you might want to hire a proofreader to check that aspect – because if there’s one thing readers hate about self published books it’s the errors, and you don’t want a simple technical issue like that dragging down the points on your reviews.

So it’s not quite a case of writing “The End” and hitting “Publish”, but it’s not far from it!

Higher Royalties

Royalties are the payment that the author gets from the publication of a book or other artistic work (e.g. music). Traditional publishers pay only around 5% royalties to a new author, and you may lose 10% of that to your agent before you even see it. With self publishing, the sky is the limit.

Depending on the platform you choose to self publish on, you can earn anything from 40% to 100% of the sale price of your books. Obviously, if you want 100% of the profits, you will have to do all of the work yourself, and sell from your own website – which does have some costs. Your reach will be higher, and your cut proportionately smaller, if you use one of the big self-publishing platforms like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords.

Want to know more? Stay tuned. In our next post we’ll look at publishing on Amazon Kindle.

Categorized as Publishing

How To Plot a Novel Using Storyboard

Pines in winter
Now plotting a novel can sometimes feel like it is the most difficult part of the whole writing process. Yet it does not have to be.  Before the internet, authors had to plan their book, or novel with pen and paper, or sometimes using a typewriter, and eventually upgrading to a computer.

Now some people have to carefully plan everything that they do, to them writing a novel is no different to doing anything else. Besides in many ways plotting your novel using a storyboard or anything else makes a lot of sense.

Storyboards can be either online, stored on your own computer, or for the more traditionalist amongst us printed out on separate pieces of paper.  If you are not too computer literate, or you could not be bothered to set up your own storyboards, they are readily available to download usually free of charge from the internet.

People that are more confident with handling their computers, or that have more time, or inclination can create their own storyboards using standard packages such as Word, and Powerpoint. Word is more practical, yet Powerpoint is better at showcasing things and grabbing your attention. So a storyboard on Powerpoint could be used to gain interest from publishers about publishing your book.

You could make your own board and physically stick things to it on pieces of card roughly postcard sized, and then place additional ideas, or alterations on sticky notes.

Now storyboards are just as useful for fiction and non-fiction writers alike. That is because they give a structure to your book, a solid framework to put your story into place. All books need some kind of structure, in order for the plot of a fiction story to make sense, or for events in non-fiction works to be told logically.

Storyboards allow you to breakdown roughly where in the book you are going to inform your readers of what and how much they need to know to make sense of the story so far. Sometimes you want the audience to know exactly what is going on, whilst at other times you only keep them partially informed so that they have to work out what is happening.

The most practical way of using a storyboard is to split each board into related chapters, and then further divide into sub-chapters, sub-headings, or scenes.  Doing this means that the book should be paced better. You are keeping the readers’ attention without telling them too much, or too little. Yet it means that chapters are kept to the right length, and that they do not go off on a tangent from the rest of the book.

Most authors have found that splitting a storyboard into three different but closely connected sections helps them to write a good, possibly even great book. If you like storyboards make sure that you as an author do not lose focus on what you are attempting to write about.

The first part is the introduction. In fiction these are the highly important opening chapters where you need to immediately grab your reader’s attention. In a non-fiction work it is the place to introduce the subject whilst convincing the reader that you know what you have written about.

Then there is the main body of your book. In fiction that is the part that the main events are described, and also is the bit where you have to convince the reader to carry on reading until the end. In non-fiction it is the section where the bulk of the information is given to your reader.

The third and final part is the finale. This is when you disclose who the killer was, who the spy was, or if the main characters rode off in the sunset together and lived happily after. In non-fiction it is where the reasons and the consequences of events are explained to your audience.

Categorized as Writing