Double Your Salary …Without losing your soul!

Picture of Hardback book: double your salary and ebook

I’m excited to share that the hardback of my next book: Double Your Salary …Without losing your soul! will be released for sale on 1st August 2019.

I believe that doubling your salary is possible when you understand who you are and what you are capable of. Sharing my story of how I doubled my salary three times, Double Your Salary also gives advice drawing on my experience, beliefs, theories and knowledge to enable you to do the same.

Book Description:
Doubling your salary is possible when you understand who you are and what you are capable of.

Like many people, Mark felt trapped in low paying jobs, struggling to get interviews. When he did, he was unable to prove he was the right person for the job.

Sharing the three goals that changed his life, Mark gives an honest and frank account of a journey to find purpose and meaning, revealing doubts and fears while giving advice and encouragement.

He shares his experience, his beliefs, his theories and knowledge, examining what he did, and why, to enable him to find his ideal career and ultimately double his salary three times. Each section is followed by prompts and suggestions to help you examine your life and plan for the future, in the hope this will help you on your journey and enable you to avoid the dangers that pursuing wealth can bring.

Double Your Salary seeks to motivate and encourage you to believe: You are capable of transforming your life!

The hardback edition will retail at £14.99 and can be ordered from all bookstores.

If you would like more information on the book or would like to interview the author, please use this contact form.

40K

Lightbox with #done

It might be that weekly posts are all I can manage until the first draft of Fallen Warriors Season Two is complete. I met my target of 10,000 words today and did manage to hit 2,000 words each day this week.

That feels good. An accomplishment.

I haven’t managed much else, publishing wise.

I kept a record of time spent writing and word count achieved. It’s interesting looking at the numbers:

Screenshot of wordcount achieved over past week

Three out of five days I took over four hours, the longest time being four hours, twenty five minutes. Then two days, today and yesterday almost half an hour faster on average.

My words per minute has really jumped around, with really slow points and then one half hour when I blitzed almost 500 words at a pace of 16 words each minute.

I’m only averaging around 8 words per minute though. That seems really slooow to me. It makes me more inclined to look at dictation.

Admittedly, the fact is I spend a lot of time just staring into space, thinking. So if you actually measured my typing speed when I was typing, it would likely be much faster. So dictation isn’t going to stop me needing to think and work through plot and character development.

But how much faster could it be?

Next week and the week after I’m not going to be able to write as much. I’m helping my parents move house and that needs to be my main priority. My word target for next week is just 7,000 words.

But I’m going to give Dragon dictation a go. Nuance offer a free one week trial of Dragon Anywhere and I’ve signed up this afternoon! This is an app you can install on Android or Apple phones and as long as you’ve an internet connection you can transcribe what you say.

Last week I bought The Writer’s Guide to Training Your Dragon: Using Speech Recognition Software to Dictate Your Book and Supercharge Your Writing Workflow by Scott Baker. I’m going to work through this while I get used to dictating and will let you know how I get on.

It might be too much to hope that I’ll exceed 7,000 words next week by starting to use dictation, but I’m hopeful. Even if I could reduce the time it takes to write the same amount of words, that would be a huge help and allow me to focus on other tasks I have waiting.

What helps you to write faster?

Progress

The poem Progress by Mark Anderson Smith with a greyscale background of a wooden grid

I wrote last week that I was setting a new target to write 5,000 words a day.

Why do I do this to myself?

The results are in. I think I managed a thousand words one day that first half week, then I’ve managed 4,790 this week.

That’s not even a fifth of what I’d imagined might be possible.

I think it’s okay though. I’ve written several new scenes and expanded on both the character and plot for a main character in this new season. I’ve also broken out my initial synopsis and plan, using Scrivener, so that every key scene I’ve planned is in order, so that it will be easier to focus on a specific character’s story while writing.

If you are interested, after splitting out the synopsis and looking at what I feel I can actually use from my initial writing, and including the scenes written this week, I now have 30,292 words. My goal for Season Two is 120,000 words which would give 6 20K episodes. A bit shorter than Fallen Warriors, but with my publishers hat on, cheaper to print!

Since I started using Scrivener, I’ve found it really helpful for dealing with the complexity of the stories I want to tell. I can group scenes by chapters and by episodes, keeping the TV theme I’m using for the Fallen Warriors series. I can search for a character name and filter so that only scenes where they appear are shown. This allows me to read through their story and check I’ve covered everything I need to happen. Also so I can check their story is consistent all the way through.

I can add notes to each scene so i can remember why I wrote something, or add hyperlinks to research I’ve done. I can backup each scene individually as many times as I want. And I’m probably not even scratching the surface of what the application is capable of.

I’m still aiming to work up to 5,000 words a day, but am conscious that might not be possible unless I try something radical like switching to dictation. I’ve been looking into Dragon speech to text software, but at £350 for the professional edition which allows you to record and transcribe later, I’m hesitant to shell out that cash.

I think 2,000 words a day might be a more realistic daily target for the next month as another issue I’m facing is that I need to spend time setting up marketing and promotion of my next book: Double Your Salary. There is no point in publishing a book if I don’t make an effort to promote it, and it makes a lot of sense to start that promotion now.

I’ve been able to look at what writing 2,000 words a day might mean. I could finish the first draft of Fallen Warriors Season Two by mid August. That might then allow me to edit and ready for publication by Christmas, or if not, the three year anniversary of Season One’s publication date.

I would be happy with that.

I thank God for the progress I’ve been able to make. I’m conscious I’m still not really well. Finished the course of antibiotics, but am still coughing and my sinuses are full. If I could complete 10,000 words over next week, I would be delighted with that, especially if at the same time, I’m able to make progress towards promoting Double Your Salary.

I would appreciate your prayers.

Progress

I tell myself
my novel is a book
made up of words.
The first word
followed by another,
each word building
on the words before,
creating something of beauty,
of purpose,
of insight.
The novel does not yet exist.
But it will,
if I keep writing,
one word at a time,
until it is finished.

Copyright 2019 Mark Anderson Smith

Fostering a growth mindset

Photobox with words: Growth Mindset

I joined The Alliance of Independent Authors last month. I’ve been considering doing so for a while and finally took the plunge once I felt I was almost ready to print my next book.

Alli has been a fantastic resource for me already with plenty of useful and helpful articles freely available on their selfpublishingadvice.org website.

This article popped up on my Facebook feed today: The Psychology of Success For Authors: Do You Secretly Think Self-Publishing is Second Best? by Orna Ross.

While touching on the question of whether traditional publishing or self-publishing is the best route for authors, the article highlights the importance of having a growth mindset and willingness to learn which I feel are essential in any career.

“A growth mindset is the belief that with sincere creative intention, and enough creative attention, we can develop the abilities, skills, and resources we need to attain our goals.”

All of us are capable of developing a growth mindset. Even if we already have one, we can still learn more, still expand our skills. This is part of the reason I’m publishing my next book: Double Your Salary, to motivate you to believe you can achieve more.

What do you think of Orna’s article?

Jamaica? No, she would have done it anyway…

photo of feet wrapped with chains

One of my many favourite things about writing is getting lost in research. Tracking down a fact, or answer to a question that might be useful or essential in taking the story forward.

I rarely share any of this because I’m terrified of giving the plot away. But is that just a wasted opportunity?

Would you be interested in joining me on some of these trips down a rabbit hole?

I wonder if it’s possible to share at least some of what I’ve found out on my research trips without giving too much of the game away.

Today’s (or yesterday when this is published!) fascinating expedition was to the Caribbean island of Jamaica. I just wish it had not only been virtual!

I found this article by Professor Geoff Palmer: Slavery, the Scottish Caribbean connection, which has given me an insight into one of my characters in the sequel to Fallen Warriors. It’s a fascinating read in any case, diving into Scotland’s connections with the slave trade, our hypocrisy in ignoring how many in Scotland benefited from slavery and tried to prevent abolition, and also revealing that in spite of a dreadful past, and maybe even because of it, there are thriving communities and people that have much to contribute.

It’s a complex and messy world out there. Have you ever been to Jamaica? What do you think of Professor Palmer’s article?

Always read the label…

Photo of a packet of Sudafed pills

I’ve been laid low with a cold for most of the last six weeks, ever since my last contract ended. Possibly just extremely run down after an intense project, but haven’t been able to shift a head cold which ended up migrating to my chest and sitting there.

I finally went to the doctor last week who prescribed antibiotics, but even five days in, yesterday I still felt like my head was full of cold, so my wife suggested trying Sudafed.

“Unblocks your sinuses” it claims on the packet. Great, I thought and popped a pill.

The packet only had five tablets left so I thought I’d stock up on a trip to Tesco last night, only to find that while they had Sudafed, none of the different Sudafed options had the same ingredients.

The packet in our house had Ibuprofen and Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride. Every version of Sudafed in the supermarket had paracetamol rather than Ibuprofen…

I’ve also been downing sachets of cold and flu relief (Asda branded, though I’m not fussy) and am aware of the risks of consuming more paracetamol than recommended.

It struck me as weird that a brand like Sudafed would have a completely different ingredient as a main component. Why would they do this? Isn’t it risky that someone might inadvertently take Sudafed along with another paracetamol product, not realising both contain paracetamol and so overdose?

I’m just glad I took the time to read the label on the back and check.

Are there other drugs out there that have similar swaps in ingredients we should watch out for? Do let us know…

P.S. Just as an aside, the Asda sachets also contain phenylephrine hydrochloride… I’m slightly scared to check what the difference is between that and Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride…

Acts of Random Kindness

Evan Almighty is now available on Netflix! (In the UK at least)

Can I admit this is one of my favourite family movies?

We watched it again, for the fourth or fifth time, last week. It has classic slapstick comedy, Steve Carell at his best as the neat-freak who is forced to walk, talk and even eat with the animals: Giraffes, Alpacas, and of course… Sheeeeep!

But what gets me every time is the Acts of Random Kindness message layered into the movie.

I don’t think God does random, but then I don’t believe that God forces us either. From our perspective life can seem random at times. Events happening outwith our control, accidents or situations arising that we’d rather have avoided.

I choose to believe that God does have a plan, that our father in heaven cares deeply about our lives. If we listen to God, then we’ll find he directs us. It might be subtle, may at times be overt. I don’t believe God directs us like puppets, or causes war or suffering. No, we’re arrogant and greedy and selfish enough to do all that ourselves.

Somehow though, God knows what we’re going to do, before we do it. Whether he is just outside time and so sees the whole picture, or something equally difficult for me to understand, I guess doesn’t really matter. I get a sense sometimes, that if I were to act, that would be appropriate. If I do, usually, I’m glad I did. If I don’t, often I have a feeling of regret that I’ve missed out on an opportunity.

And perhaps we could expand on the A.R.K. acronym to include a few more acts that we could randomly do:

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control…

Or maybe not so randomly?

Paul wrote to the Galatians that these things were the fruit of the Spirit.

I link this back to Jesus teaching on the vine and the branches. If we remain in Jesus and he remains in us, we will bear much fruit.

It is quite a challenge. But also a promise. And of course an opportunity…

What do you think of Evan Almighty?

Are you on the highway to hell?

photo of the stage before Bill Bailey's Larks in Transit tour

Would you feel comfortable singing: “We’re on the highway to hell!”

Back in the 1980s, a lot of my classmates probably did. I was never into AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden or any of the popular heavy metal bands. I didn’t like the demonic imagery or lyrics and still don’t.

I get that not all of heavy metal music is focused on demons or hell, but that is the perception I had as a teenager and when last night, some 2,000 people around me burst out singing: “We’re on the highway to hell!” it really shocked me.

Maybe I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I wasn’t supposed to be though. It was supposed to be a fun evening, and mostly it was. Bill Bailey live at The Caird Hall in Dundee for his Larks in Transit tour.

I’d been a bit apprehensive, after all Bill Bailey enjoys taking a pot shot a Christians and sure enough, there were a few shots fired. But okay, I knew that was a risk going in.

He’d got us to sing a couple of songs already, I won’t spoil that part of his act, but then, right at the end, he starts playing the guitar riff for AC/DC’s Highway to Hell.

I didn’t even know what the riff was from. I didn’t listen to the music as a child and still don’t, but I’ve heard the words being sung often enough.

The highway to hell…

Do you know what that means?

The broad way, the fast way to destruction. Jesus spoke about it, recorded by Matthew: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

I believe Hell is real. I know some Christians have doubts about whether God would condemn people to an eternity of suffering, but I’m not claiming that’s what Hell is.

Destruction could mean literal destruction. The reward for a lifetime of rejecting God might mean that God will ultimately reject you. That interpretation fits in with other parables Jesus told which described Hell as a rubbish dump. A place to throw out the garbage.

I find that interpretation problematic though. It means that you can be as cruel as you want. You can hurt as many people as you want. You can steal and kill and destroy and at the end of the day, there are no real consequences. Your life is snuffed out and that’s it. Where’s the justice in that?

I believe our creator is a just God. It doesn’t seem likely that we just get off the hook.

Unless…

I also believe in Heaven. I don’t subscribe to the wings and clouds fantasy. Instead I believe the prophecy in Revelation that talks about heaven coming down to earth, the earth being healed and renewed. A new heaven and a new earth. That sounds amazing. Awesome! I want to be a part of that.

Jesus spoke several times about eternal life. Life after death, abundant life, abundant eternal life. I want to have that.

Can you imagine being raised from death to face judgement and finding out how wonderful life after death is going to be, that it will be far better than our lives now can ever have been, then only to find that because you chose the highway to hell, you don’t get eternal life…

How awful would that be?

It doesn’t have to be that way for you. The highway to hell has an off ramp. You can leave it right now and exit to the narrow way, following Jesus, seeking God.

Of course, maybe destruction does mean a lake of fire. Maybe all the Stalins and Hitlers and others that we can all agree would deserve punishment will be punished. Justice. Except, who decides what justice is? You? Me? God?

It will be God.

And broad is the way that leads to destruction. And no matter what Angus or Malcolm Young or Ronald Scott wrote about your friends being there too, Hell isn’t the promised land you want to end up in.

So maybe finding out what God thinks about justice is a good idea. And what God thinks about life and death and what our purpose in life is.

If Bill Bailey is to be believed, there is no Hell so why should we worry. But what does Bill Bailey know? I like him, mostly, as a comedian. I do not put my trust in him. Instead I choose to put my trust in Jesus Christ, a name Bill Bailey mentioned at least once during his two hour act.

Jesus died and rose from death to life to prove that we will have eternal life. I put my trust in Jesus.

I encourage you to do the same, or at the very least, to look into the claims of Jesus and test them. Otherwise you might join Bill Bailey on an easy road that takes you where you didn’t really want to go.

A new target

Photo of street map of York

I’ve taken a couple of months away from contracting to work on the sequel to Fallen Warriors and ready another book for publication. I ended up needing almost all of the first month to ready that book and was finally able to send it to the printers at the weekend and am now focusing back on Fallen Warriors.

I like big targets for my writing. Huge, seemingly impossible goals that are quite at odds with how I tackle other projects. I had in mind that I would write 5,000 words a day and produce a 100,000 word draft by the end of May, then perhaps even go on to write the first draft of the final book of the trilogy in June.

I started actually writing today and managed 1,000 words.

Considering that I’m trying to switch my gears from editing mode to creative mode, that might not be too bad. In the last month of “editing” Fallen Warriors, I actually first draft wrote most of the final chapters. They were then edited, they were proof read, but the story just flowed out as ten years of subconscious thought made itself known. That was while I was working full time.

Over four weeks I virtually wrote 2,000 words a day in three hours or less. It should be possible to write 5,000 words a day when I’m working full time at it.

In theory.

5,000 words a day seems like a goal worth pursuing. The first draft of any book doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to get the story out and since with each of my books there has been a process of rewriting and editing, I know I can and will improve on the first draft. Also, I have always needed to delete scenes and chapters. So why waste time carefully writing scenes that may eventually have to be cut?

I already know I’m not going to have all of June available, other commitments have taken priority. It might take me a week or two to get up to speed, but that’s okay. My main goal is to tell a gripping and enjoyable story. If I can do that faster, fantastic.

If it takes a bit longer, that’s also okay. I’ll be posting daily updates from Thursday onwards. Tomorrow is a different kind of day, but more about that later…

Instagram

View from Cliffords Tower in York looking towards the Minster

I signed up to Instagram months ago on the recommendation of fellow writers. Followed a few people, but just didn’t get it. I’ve struggled to know how to use Facebook and Twitter, and Instagram seemed like just another social media platform that I didn’t have time to use. Until a couple of weeks ago…

Turns out I quite enjoy using Instagram and maybe I do “get it”. At least, I get how I can use it.

I drove down to York (taking our electric car which may inspire another post shortly) for the weekend to do some research for the sequel to Fallen Warriors. I wanted to walk through the city, remind myself of how it feels to be there, and scout out locations to use in the next book.

As you’d expect I took a bunch of photos, and thought I might share some of them on Instagram as the weekend progressed. I added some short descriptions, not really understanding the potential the descriptions gave, until I posted this one of Monk Bar: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxkwnuUBiF_/

I hashtagged it #FallenWarriors, wondering if hashtags work the same way as on Twitter. Turns out they do! And of course, descriptions are searchable…

I’ve tried posting photos on Twitter and on Facebook, but neither platform really seems to fit for what I’m trying to convey. Instagram does. I want to be able to post a photo that intrigues me, a scene that has captured my attention, and share a short sentence about that photo. I also want to drop clues about my books, things that only readers will understand. Add cryptic notes as hints towards what I’m planning to write. Maybe even lead people up a blind alley, after all, it’s all about the journey, right?

And there is no pressure. I can post one photo a day, or not, and regardless, everything I’ve posted will be there for people to stumble across. Unlike Twitter which feels every time I use it like I’m trying to drink from a fire hose!

So, if you’d like to see what I’m up to on Instagram, you can find me here: http://www.instagram.com/my100goals/

I intend to post at least one photo each weekday for the next month and then review. Look forward to connecting with you on Instagram!