The Forgotten Key to Productivity by Rochelle Melander

November 24, 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

Wisconsin, November 2015

Wisconsin, November 2015

Our lucky stretch of weather ended on Friday night with a small snowstorm. So, no matter how much I’d love to delude myself about the weather in Wisconsin, I can’t. I live in snow country. I’ve dug out my boots and hat, and am trying to make my peace with it. (Read: She’s drinking lots of hot chocolate and reading books.)

Now, I need your help! I’m still collecting information from people who have written books to attract clients or boost business. If that’s you—or if you’d like it to be you—please take time before tonight at midnight to fill out the survey.

And as my thank you to you, everyone who fills out the survey can enter to win:

+A $50 Gift Certificate from Amazon (Yeah, books!)

+A $10 Starbucks Gift Certificate. (Mmmm. Coffee.) (And, I’m giving away 3 of these!)

Today’s tip talks about the one thing missing from most productivity plans. Read on to learn more!

Happy Writing and Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers,

Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach



By mid-afternoon on Monday (yesterday!), I’d been staring at my computer for two hours and still hadn’t finished writing this tip. I’m usually not that behind. But I had an editing project due Monday, so I worked all weekend meet my deadline. Early Monday morning, I dashed off an article for a blog. (Well, dashed might be stretching it. It was more like slowing cobbling together words.) Then I turned my attention to the tip. After writing a few words, I took a look at Facebook, sketched out a few sentences, checked on my two sick children, wondered if eating chocolate might help, and then wrote a bit more. But nothing seemed to gel. My usual productive pace had slowed to a crawl.

At first, I couldn’t figure it out. I used my usual productivity tricks, including exercise, scheduling time to write, and sketching out possible ideas for developing the article. And then it hit me. I was tired. I hadn’t taken a whole day off in more than a week. Because I spent Saturday afternoon visiting the just-renovated Milwaukee Art Museum, I forgot that I’d worked the rest of the weekend.

Writers, don’t forget this key element of productivity: rest.

Runners know that rest is key to peak performance. Stacy Sims, Ph.D., from the Stanford Prevention-Research Center, School of Medicine, has said, “Problem is, if you don’t take time for proper R&R, your body won’t adapt to the stress of your training—you won’t get stronger or faster.”

As writers, we need rest time, too. Sometimes when we think we are experiencing writer’s block, we are really tired. We need time to step back from the relentless pressure of producing finished work.

Time away from constant deadlines prevents us from producing work that is boring and predictable. Rest provides time to explore and nurture new ideas. Rest can also help us to approach our work in progress with new enthusiasm.

Next time you’re feeling blocked—take a look at your schedule. If you haven’t had a day off, then take one. And if you regularly spend your days off taking care of household tasks or volunteering, then plan a rest day. Engage in activities that help you recover from the relentless pressure of daily deadlines. Read, nap, see movies, play with children and pets, or walk outside. Do anything that will help you feel rejuvenated and ready to write again.

IMG_1520And with that…I’m off to … read books, eat chocolate, and bead.




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Advice About Blogging, Building a Platform, and Writing with a Partner: An Interview with authors Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler

November 17, 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

I’m writing an ebook about how books can attract clients—and I need your help. Whether you’ve written a book that has boosted your business or want to, I invite you to take time to fill out a survey. After I take a look at the survey, I will contact some of you for an interview.

And as my thank you to you, everyone who fills out the survey can enter to win:

+A $50 Gift Certificate from Amazon (Yeah, books!)

+A $10 Starbucks Gift Certificate. (Mmmm. Coffee.) (And, I’m giving away 3 of these!)

ScienceParenthood-frontcoverToday’s tip offers an inspiring story with plenty of practical advice. Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler, authors of the new book, Science of Parenthood, are here to talk about their book and how it happened! If you’d like to enter to win a copy of the book, please scroll down to the bottom of the article.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach


An Interview


Today’s tip might just change the way you approach finding ideas, writing books, building your platform, and blogging. I’m serious. I connected with Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler through an online writer’s group—and I’m glad I did. Not only are their blog and book hilarious, their approach to writing will both inspire and inform you. And if you’d like to enter to win a copy of their new book, you can enter at the blog.


Rochelle: Your Science of Parenthood book and blog are hilarious! How did you happen to start the blog—and what has led to its success?  

J&N-0315reducedNorine Dworkin-McDaniel: We love to make people laugh, so thank you. I gotta say, I love telling our How We Started story because it’s so Hey, Kids! Let’s Put On A Show! We dove in without knowing half of what we didn’t even realize we didn’t know. We started after my then-second-grader came home from school talking about Newton’s laws of force and motion. You know … An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by a force. So, as he’s explaining this over dinner, it hits me that Newton’s law is remarkably similar to my kid with his video games. So I posted on Facebook: Newton’s First Law of Parenting: A child at rest will remain at rest … until you want your iPad back. I was coming up with a bunch of these “observations,” like Sleep Geometry Theorem: A child will always sleep perpendicular to any adults sleeping next to them. They were a ton of fun to write. I knew Justin Halpern had tweeted his way to a book deal for Sh*t My Dad Says, and I thought maybe I could do the same with my science-y observations. I thought they’d be great in a gift book. But they really needed visuals. So I called Jessica to ask if she’d like to illustrate a gift book.

Jessica Ziegler: It was New Year’s Eve 2012. I was definitely wary at first. It sounded like a lot of work, on top of working from home and parenting. I spent the first half of the conversation trying to figure out how to gently say, How ‘bout NO. But she sucked (suckered?) me in. I had seen what she had been posting on Facebook and could definitely see how some sort of illustration would make them even better, but it could be even more. It could be a website … and a Facebook page … and Twitter … and ALL THE THINGS. Before we got off the phone, we had secured the domain name, Facebook page and Twitter handle. About three weeks later, we launched the website.

Norine: It was crazy fast! As for the blog’s success, well … you have to start with good content. The parenting niche is very crowded, so you need something to make you stand out from the many other bloggers writing about the adorable/frustrating things their kids are doing. Our parenting spin is unique—no one filters the parenting experience through a snarky math and science lens like we do.

The other thing that’s key for success is a network. Over the three years we’ve been blogging as Science of Parenthood, we’ve built a solid network of parenting bloggers who very generously share our content with their readers. I was a freelance writer for 15 years, and coming out of magazines where the communication was always writer to reader, it took me a while to understand that blogging is a communal media. Unless you’re blogging for a big media company, you need other bloggers to help push your content out into the world. And to help you out when you get completely flummoxed. We’re in several Facebook groups with other bloggers who share tips and strategies and best practices, so we’re not perpetually reinventing the wheel. I will never forget when I was struggling to make a simple meme in PicMonkey (I am NOT the graphics genius in this partnership). The program kept asking me to upload an image, but all I wanted was words on a plain background, and I could not figure it out. I must have posted about my frustration in one of the Facebook groups, because (and I will be forever grateful for this), Ellen Williams of Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms uploaded a plain white square of the correct dimensions that I could use as a template. It was a simple thing, but it speaks volumes about how ready and willing people are to help. I’ve heard Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy and Jen Mann of People I Want To Punch In The Throat say, “When the water rises, all boats rise.” We don’t succeed at the expense of other blogs and bloggers. There’s room for all of us.


Rochelle: What was it like to take your blog and grow it into a book? What are some of the steps you had to take? (And, what would you advise other writers to think about before beginning this process?)

Jessica: Begin building your platform from day one, without question. Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr can be a great testing ground for new ideas. You need to build and learn about your audience. For example, our audience loves memes and graphics (which really shouldn’t have been that surprising to me, and yet…) They don’t care that much about long-form writing, so we don’t spend a lot of time on blog posts these days. The thing that I’ve seen work best in terms of building a huge following is when a writer or cartoonist shares about themselves, what is REAL in their world. Think: Jenny Lawson, Jen Mann, The Oatmeal, Books of Adam.

Norine: What Jessica said, absolutely. We also used the blog to build our network and establish our street cred. I started my writing career as a newspaper entertainment writer so I know how to craft a good interview. Many of the bloggers we looked up to, like Honest Toddler, Nicole Knepper, Jen Mann, Jill Smokler, Jason Good, had hilarious parenting books coming out, so we used author Q&As on our blog as a way to introduce ourselves to people with larger audiences. They got good publicity for their books and we could demonstrate that we were good content creators too. People are more approachable than you might imagine. No one ever turned us down when we asked for an interview. And our author interviews are among the most popular posts on our blog.

The other thing I’d add about growing a book from your blog is that the book really needs to stand on its own as new content. It can’t simply be your favorite blog posts bound as a book. Why would readers buy what they can read for free on your blog? According to our publisher, the rule of thumb is that a book should be about 80 percent new material. Our book, Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations, covers many of the same themes that you’ll find on our blog—sleepless nights, picky eating, tantrums, sickness, diaper blowouts, family vacations, homework, toy clutter, anxiety that you’re doing everything wrong. Essentially the nuts and bolts of any parenting blog. Then we took those ideas and drilled deeper and ran farther with them. We have flow charts and bar graphs and Venn diagrams, which we’d never done on the blog before. We have satire and science experiments, algebraic equations and quizzes. And, of course, our signature cartoons. The book will feel familiar to those who already know us, but not repetitive. Only a handful of our very favorite cartoons from the blog made it into the book. So there’s a lot to entice new readers who’ve never heard of us as well as fans who’ve followed us from the first cartoon. There’s plenty in the book that’s brand spanking new.


Rochelle: Your book had me laughing out loud. What was working together on this project like? And what helped you work well together?

Jessica: It was a lot of fun! It was hard at points, just trying to get SO MUCH DONE on a deadline, while continuing to work and have a life. But that’s what great about working on a humor project, it keeps you laughing! We work well together because we can divide and conquer, that works for the blog as well as the book. Two people working on different parts can get a LOT done.

Norine: Our skill sets dovetail so nicely, we’re never duplicating efforts. Because I live in Orlando and Jessica lives in Denver, we text and phone and Skype a lot. We put files in Google Docs so we’re always sure we’re working on the latest version of something, and sometimes we write together in Google Docs. Our work just seems to divide along our individual strengths. Jessica does all of the visuals while I do more of the writing—although one of Jessica’s hilarious essays for In The Powder Room won a Voice of the Year award this year from BlogHer/SheKnows Media, which is a really big deal. Plus, we’ve been friends for more than 10 years. We know what’s going to make the other one laugh. And, really important—we check our egos at the door and focus on what serves the blog and book. We both get that not every idea is golden and we’re both comfortable saying, “Yeah … No.” In three years, we haven’t had a significant disagreement (*knocks wood, spits, tosses salt over shoulder*).


Rochelle: I published my first book AFTER I had my first baby. But, writing and parenting don’t always go together. (Yes, our son puked on the night of our first book signing AND we had to scramble when the babysitter refused to come over and sit for a puker.) How do you juggle parenting and writing?

Jessica: Have older kids, and only one of them? Seriously, it gets so much easier once they are in school all day. Getting up earlier than they do helps, too. I’m not productive at night, I’m at my best first thing in the morning. Of course if the kids catch on that you are up at the crack of dawn, they will likely join you, and then you’re screwed.

Norine: All I’ll say is I’m extremely grateful for Minecraft and the Disney Channel.


Rochelle: Any other advice you’d give to writers who parent or parents who want to write?

Jessica: Just do it. I mean if you really want to, then do it. Don’t let some sort of idea of what that should look like stand in your way.

Norine: Exactly. Give yourself permission to make the time and do it. Ask your husband or partner to keep the kids alive so you can have a few hours peace. Or, if you have the resources, hire a babysitter a few hours a week. I’ve talked to so many women in the blogging community who feel like they’re not entitled to make their writing a priority or who feel guilty for taking time for themselves to write uninterrupted or to take a writing class or go to a conference to network or pick up new skills. Writing is my job and when I freelanced regularly, it represented half of our household income, so not writing was never really an option for me. But I certainly get that it can be challenging with a little one around. Some days, just holding a sentence in your head is a major win. But even though I’m not yet generating the income I did as a full-time magazine writer, my writing is still a top priority. And I’m quite fierce about protecting that time. My son is 9 now, and he knows that when I’m working and I hold up my Just-One-Minute Finger, unless there’s blood, fire or he’s lost an appendage, whatever he needs me for is just going to have to wait a few minutes until I’ve finished whatever I’m writing. And I’m okay with that.


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ScienceParenthood-frontcoverAbout the authors: Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler are co-authors of the new book, Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations, published this month by She Writes Press. Find it wherever books are sold. You can follow Norine and Jessica on their blog Science of Parenthood and on Facebook and Twitter.



Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at



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From #NaNoWriMo Project to Published Novel by Writer’s Relief

November 10, 2015


Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

When I work on my NaNoWriMo project, the gremlins assault me with messages like:

+“Are you sure this is worth your time?”

+”What if it’s not good enough?”

+ “You can’t compete with big name authors.”

Sharon Nagel and Jocelyn Koehler

Sharon Nagel and Jocelyn Koehler

It takes a big dose of chutzpah with a bit of discipline thrown in to keep my butt in the chair. Of course, it helps to have friends and colleagues who have revised and published their NaNoWriMo Novels—like Sharon Nagel and Jocelyn Koehler, who you met in last week’s blog post. Today’s blog post from Writer’s Relief shares a few more NaNoWriMo success stories and then talks about how they can help you submit your novel.

Speaking of writing help, I’m moving my Write-A-Thon class to the New Year. Watch this space for details on dates!

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach


From #NaNoWriMo

Thanks to Rochelle Melander, aka The Write Now! Coach, for hosting us today!

You might think that frenzied NaNoWriMo typing amounts to a big writing exercise in futility. NaNoWriMo books never get published, right? Wrong! In fact, a total of 250 NaNoWriMo writers have been published traditionally. Here are three of the best:


The Night Circus
 by Erin Morgenstern

Christened “playful and dramatic realism” by the Washington Post, Morgenstern’s The Night Circus was a product of the 2003 NaNoWriMo. When literary agents rejected her work, she whittled away at it and developed a tighter plot. Several NaNoWriMos later, the book was print-perfect: It snapped up a six-figure deal with Knopf Doubleday Publishers in 2011. Persistence pays off!

The Night Circus spins a classic love story of two star-crossed lovers manipulated by their dueling guardians. Marc and Celia are uniquely talented magicians employed by a mysterious night circus, compelled to participate in a deadly confrontation that only one is expected to survive.


16068905-2Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Rowell credits NaNoWriMo with pushing her to put Fangirl on paper and leading her to some of her “bravest writing.” The book was a New York Times 2013 Notable Children’s Book.

Fangirl traces the social misadventures of Cath, a freshman in college, forced to make new friends when her sister decides to room with someone else. Complicating matters is the return of her long-absent mother, a flirtatious classmate, and her worrisome father. Cath’s only escape is funneling her experiences through writing fan fiction.


12287209Wool by Hugh Howey

When Hugh Howey published his e-book Wool, a thousand copies sold in a month. NaNoWriMo encouraged him to really lay out the next four installments of the story. The complete novel topped both Amazon’s and the New York Times E-Book Best Seller lists. Howey became the first self-published author to receive a six-figured print deal AND keep digital rights to the book.

In this post-apocalyptic thriller, a society preserves itself from the toxic atmosphere on earth by existing in a silo 144 feet underground. When Sheriff Holston breaks taboo and asks to go outside, he is replaced by Juliette, a skilled mechanic. As the new sheriff, Juliette discovers information suggesting that everyone in the silo has been lied to.


WRlogo_NEW400Ready to Submit that #NaNo Project? How Writer’s Relief Can Help

In our twenty-plus years of service to writers, we at Writer’s Relief have found that most of them would rather do just about anything besides making submissions. Often, creative writers are overwhelmed by the work required to send submissions—navigating the complex publishing industry, reviewing piles of research, proofreading and formatting, and then actually submitting (with adherence to countless sets of guidelines). And what happens after those submissions are in the world? Meticulously tracking every submission, waiting for what feels like forever, and cookie-cutter rejection letters. When you can barely make time to write, it’s no wonder the business and busywork of submissions seem daunting at best.

Luckily, Writer’s Relief is here to provide just that: Relief!

For example, imagine an eager book author attempting to make submissions of his or her novel, hoping for a literary agent’s representation. The process quickly becomes much more complicated than many writers realize. First, the hopeful author needs to research agents through market books or online resources, trying to figure out which of countless agents would best fit their novel. Once the author found a list of prospective agents who look promising, he or she must write a query letter that perfectly captures the manuscript and holds those agents’ attention—and then make sure that every submission follows specific agents’ guidelines to the last detail. Later, when it comes to submitting other work—or trying a new batch of agents if the first didn’t work out—the author has to start back at square one. Though perseverance is often the key to getting a literary agent, the process can be exhausting to many writers. That’s where we come in.

What Writer’s Relief Does

Established in 1994, Writer’s Relief is an author’s submission service with the knowledge that each author requires a tailored approach. We help writers make submissions to literary journals (for short prose or poetry) or literary agents (for book manuscripts). We can professionally write an author’s cover or query letter. We can format and proofread a writer’s work so that it meets industry standards. And to ensure we’re sending an author’s writing to the markets most likely to be interested, we carefully consider style, word count, and the work’s topics and themes. Then we analyze literary markets to get an idea of what they typically accept. We have thousands of journals and agents in our database, waiting for writers to submit!

Basically, we promise that if an author takes care of the writing—we can take care of everything else.

What makes Writer’s Relief special is our clients’ ability to contact staff members with questions or concerns. Our strategists will walk a writer through the submission process and even act as cheerleaders for writers dragging their feet through complications and rejections. You’ll find an eclectic mix of proofreaders, writers, motivators, and organizers here at Writer’s Relief, with experience in everything from publishing to social media to customer service. These talents meld to fit the needs of each individual client. Founder and President Ronnie L. Smith insists, “A good submission service does not offer a one-size-fits-all approach.”

A La Carte services are available for writers who want to take advantage of Writer’s Relief’s help only on a temporary basis. We also offer a more inclusive and intensive Full Service program. This option is available by invitation only, through submission to the Writer’s Relief Review Board. Consideration by the Review Board is always free of cost and obligation. After a submission is received, it is read by multiple staff members to discern the skill of the writer and the marketability of the work. If the Review Board’s decision is positive, the writer will receive an invitation to our Full Service program, with no requirement to join.

Of course, we cannot guarantee publication—but we can guarantee that we’ll make the process of submitting your writing easier and less stressful!

We also offer free resources—such as our informative blog articles and our online publishing tool kit chock-full of information and tips—to writers who can’t afford our services or prefer to undertake the submission process on their own. And everyone is invited to sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter, Submit Write Now!

It’s true that most of what Writer’s Relief does is work any writer could do on his or her own with unlimited time and resources. However, the dedication, enthusiasm, thoroughness, and focus we offer our clients are unparalleled. We not only help an author make submissions, we help them keep faith and stay motivated throughout the process. We’re incredibly proud and humbled to have built a community of successful writers—and we believe that’s priceless!

Writer’s Relief is a highly recommended author’s submission service. They assist writers with preparing their submissions and researching the best markets. They have a service for every budget, as well as a free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit their site today to learn more.

Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at




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Yes, Virginia, you CAN publish your novel (but it will take more than a month) by Juneau Black

3 November 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

Are you in? NaNoWriMo started yesterday, and I’ve been shuffling my schedule to make extra time to write each day. I’m not writing a novel this year. Instead, I’m finally writing a nonfiction book I’ve been thinking about (and jotting down notes for) for years.


How about you? If you’re even thinking about using NaNoWriMo to work on a nonfiction book project, consider joining my Write-A-Thon class. I’ve designed the class to help you overcome the biggest writing obstacles: choosing an idea, finding time, organizing all that information, and more. If that’s you, you can sign up at my website. But act fast—registration closes tonight at midnight!

Today’s tip tells a NaNoWriMo success story—and it’s a good one. Enjoy!

Happy Writing!

Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

Yes, Virginia-3



Juneau Black is a name full of mystery, isn’t it? Who is Juneau Black? Well, Juneau Black is an author. Sort of. Juneau Black is the pen name of two writers, Sharon Nagel and Jocelyn Koehler. We wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo. Now it’s a book you can hold in your hands.

Want to do that yourself? You can! Here’s what we learned:

Have an idea: Sounds basic, and it is. Have your idea before you start writing. We came up with characters and concepts first (using cute animal finger puppets — yes, really!), and then built up the larger story around those. We weren’t 100% sure who the murderer would be (pro tip: that’s an important part of a murder mystery.). But that didn’t stop us. We kept writing. Don’t feel you have to know everything. Just know something. Get those notes on file somewhere.

Shady-Hollow-Web-MediumHave a plan: When we first decided to write Shady Hollow, we knew it would help to have an external deadline. So we chose to write it during NaNoWriMo. Go here to get started with NaNo: There are lots of tools and tips for writers, and a supportive community as well! We also chose to tag team the writing: Sharon one day, Jocelyn the next. We’d email the file back and forth after adding our daily word count. If you’re working alone, you just have to make sure you’re accountable to you. Alternatively, ask a pal to check your progress.

Have a goal: With NaNoWriMo, the goal is already defined: 50,000 words in 30 days, or 1667 words per day. That’s just enough to net you a short novel. Maybe you can’t squeeze that much into your month, but you can still define your own goal (two months? six months?). Then stick to it. Break down your daily word count so it’s not overwhelming. Can’t write every day? How about one morning or evening a week? Do whatever works for your life.

Have a timeline: We achieved a complete draft after NaNo, but that was only the first part. We had a bad first draft. Much editing was needed. It was only when we decided that the publication date would be November 2015, for real, that we got moving and made the book happen. Don’t settle for “some day”. Choose a real day. Then work towards it.

Have flexibility: We had some setbacks with Shady Hollow. The project limped along for a while. There were cross country moves, career changes, and marriages. We chose to indie publish it, which meant that we were responsible for a huge part of the work. We accepted that life happens, and didn’t give up. When your plan gets derailed, or you miss a deadline, don’t punish yourself. Identify what went wrong, fix it, and get back on track.

Have a party: When you finish your novel, celebrate. Maybe you don’t need to publish it. Maybe it’s enough for you that you wrote it. However you define success, when you reach the end line, have a party. We are! On November 4 at 7 pm at Boswell Book Company, we will read from the book and answer questions and giggle a lot. Because we wrote a novel. And that’s amazing. Come on over if you can (details here). We’d love to meet you!

Shady Hollow is now available in paperback and ebook. Order it from a spectacular bookstore like Boswell Books, or your favorite online bookstore. Learn more about Juneau Black and future books here:


Jocelyn Koehler

Jocelyn Koehler

Sharon Nagel

Sharon Nagel










Juneau Black is the pen name of authors Jocelyn Koehler and Sharon Nagel. They share a love of excellent bookshops, fine cheeses, and a good murder (in fictional form only). Though they are two separate people, if you ask either of them a question about their childhood, you are likely to get the same answer. This is a little unnerving for any number of reasons.












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Join my Fall Write-A-Thon Class!


Write-A-Thon Class

Fasten your seatbelts and get ready to write! What would it be like to emerge from the year –with a finished book? Even better, what about creating a book that shares your message with the world? You can! Sound impossible? Not at all!

This year, I’m offering a special Write-A-Thon class for people who want to write a short nonfiction book or an ebook. This class is specifically designed for nonfiction writers who want to use a book to boost their business.

With weekly classes designed to teach you how to create your book, overcome challenges, and stay on track, you’re bound to finish a product you’ll love sharing with your clients and friends. What do you have to lose? Join us!

Class Schedule

Each class will contain an interactive presentation and group coaching. You will have reading to do before and after each class, from my book Write-A-Thon and online sources. And, you will have homework (which you must do if you want to finish your book!)

Class One: Choosing a Book Topic for Your Market  (November 16, 2015 5:00-6:30 PM) Are you flooded with ideas, not sure which one will attract clients and benefit your market? I will lead you through several exercises that will help you examine your life experience and work for ideas. Then, I will teach you how to test market your ideas. Your homework will include creating a log line for your book. You will use the log line to guide your writing and market  your book.

Class Two: Creating a Book and Chapter Structure that Works (November 23, 2015 5:00-6:30 PM) Do you worry how you’re going to organize all that information? Does outlining cause panic attacks? Fear not! I will teach you multiple types of book structures that are easy to read and write fast.  I will give you current book examples for each structure so you can review them and make an informed decision. In addition, we’ll review chapter features that add value and make your book better. For example, many readers love having a chapter end with action steps. It gives them a concrete way to put your advice into action.

Class Three: Making Time to Write (November 30, 2015 5:00-6:30 PM) Do you struggle to find time to write? Or, is managing your energy more of a problem? Before the class even begins, you’ll set aside time to do your homework and write. By this class, you’ll have an idea what’s working and what isn’t. We’ll talk about how to find your most productive writing times, how to schedule writing so that you’re guaranteed to do it, and how to divide up your writing tasks so that it’s easy to write each day.

Class Four: Overcoming Obstacles (December 7th, 2015 5:00-6:30 PM) What happens when you get stuck? If you experience writer’s block every day, does that mean you can’t write? Most of the people I talk to encounter an obstacle and assume the worst: they have no talent, the project does not work, or their life doesn’t provide time to write. And they give up. In this class, we’ll talk about what went well and what didn’t go well. We’ll treat those experiences as information. Then we’ll analyze them and strategize how you can write forward. I’ll give you concrete tips for building on your strengths and overcoming obstacles.

Class Five: Revising Your Book (December 14, 2015 5:00-6:30 PM) Do you wonder if your book is good enough to attract clients? No matter what the first draft looks like, we can make it work. I’ll provide you with the steps you need to take to make your book readable, including using beta readers, hiring an editor for content review, revising the book, hiring editors for copyediting and proofreading, and how to figure out when you’ve finished the book. We’ll also have additional time for troubleshooting any of the problems you’re having with the writing process.

Class Six: Publishing and Promoting Your Work (December 21, 2015, 5:00-6:30 PM) Do you get confused about all the publishing options? Does social media feel like on big chore—with no direct results? We’ll consider the various options for self-publishing our ebooks and examine the steps we need to take (editing, cover design, page design, printing, etc.) We’ll also talk about how we can use our book to promote our services and how we can promote our book through social media.


Sign up soon! 

Registration is open now through Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at midnight. Because of the interactive nature of the class, I’m only taking 10 students. You can register for the level that works best for you at the Write-A-Thon Class Page.


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An Interview with Award-Winning Mystery Author Hank Phillippi Ryan by Rochelle Melander

October 27, 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

This coming Wednesday, October 28 at 12:00 PM CT, I’ll be teaching a special Write Now! Mastermind Class on the various ways you can use a book to attract clients. If you’re not yet a member you can sign up here. Of you are a member, watch your email for information on how to attend the call.

This year, I’m offering a Write-A-Thon class for people who want support writing a short nonfiction book. If that’s you, you can learn more at my website.

For today’s tip, I have an inspiring interview with the award-winning and bestselling author Hank Phillipi Ryan. And if you’re interested in winning a copy of her book, The Other Woman, you can enter at the end of the interview below.

Happy Writing!

Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach


An Interview with-2

I met Hank Phillippi Ryan last September at Mystery Writer’s of America University (MWA-U)  in Chicago. She gave an inspiring talk about persistence. In my notes on her talk, I jotted down this reminder: “There is no there to get to—only the journey. Be happy sooner.” Her moving words—along with the helpful tips of the other teachers—have helped me put my butt in the chair and write a novel in the past year. Since the event, I’ve been reading her fantastic books and following her on Facebook—and enjoying both! I’m delighted to welcome Hank to the Write Now! Coach blog!

RochelleYou’re the on air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate. What prompted you to write your first mystery novel?  

HANK: What prompted me? Like the beginning of every other wonderful project, I had a good idea. I was at my desk at Channel 7 and got a strange spam email, which I opened by mistake. The subject line said “a new refinancing deal for you.” But inside were lines from what looked like a play by Shakespeare.

I thought–that’s weird. Why would someone do that? And then my brain said: what if it’s a secret message?

I got chills, I remember it completely. And I went home and said to my husband, “I have the idea for my book!” And finally enough, I have been wanting to write a mystery ever since I was a little girl… So it only took me 55 years to come up with one!

13538878-2The first Jane Ryland book, THE OTHER WOMAN, came from an article in an old People magazine! That I read at the dentist office. It was the story of Mark Sanford, and his Appalachian Trail fabrication. And it his wife who was quoted as saying, “You can choose your sin but you cannot choose your consequences.” Again, I got chills. And I remember thinking my book my book my book! And that became THE OTHER WOMAN.

My newest book—WHAT YOU SEE—is just out! And it also came from one moment in my reporter life. It’s in the very first chapter of the book—email me when you discover it!


Rochelle: When I heard you speak, you talked about the challenges of getting that first book published. Can you share a bit of that story with us? 

HANK: Oh, gosh, if I had known how difficult the road to publication would be, I might not have started. So I am delighted at my own naiveté!

A friend of mine has a wonderful analogy: it’s like when you are driving, sometimes you get all the green lights. Why does that happen?

It’s just the same with publishing. First you have to have a good idea, green light. Then you have to write it well, green light. Then an agent has to like it, green light. Then an editor has to buy it, green light. Then the publisher has to present it well, green light. Reviews, bookstores, distribution, readers.

You have to get green lights all the way. And you have to be very lucky, too. So my first novel, PRIME TIME, got about 10 rejections from agents. (Actually, a very wonderful record. But back then, 2005, I was in despair.)

But here’s the green light. One editor who turned us down called us back a couple of days later and said, “I can’t get that story out of my head. Can Hank take her book, (which at that point it was a sort of funny frothy mystery), and make it into a bigger, stronger, more textured novel?”

In other words, write exactly the same story with the different sensibility. I have been a reporter for 40 years, and am constantly rewriting and editing and making things better.

I took it as a wonderful challenge, and rewrote the entire book—keeping exactly the same story, but using a different tone. And that book was PRIME TIME—which won the coveted Agatha Award for best first mystery. BIG green light!

Rochelle: In the Jane Ryland series, you juggle three story lines: Jane Ryland (the journalist), Jake Brogan (the detective), and the story of their relationship. How do you plan before or during the novel writing so that you can keep track of all three story lines and keep them interesting for the reader?

what-you-seeHANK: As soon as I saw the word “plan” in your question, I burst out laughing! It’s not so much as a plan as it is a journey.

I start each book with one cool thing. One gorgeous gem of a unique idea. For instance, in WHAT YOU SEE, I wondered what happened to all that video that’s shot by surveillance cameras.

We know about the pictures of football players in elevators, and actors trashing hotel rooms. But what about the pictures of you and me and everyone else? Those all exist, right? And what might someone do with them?

That’s all I knew about the book. I also wanted to explore Jane’s family life, and wondered how I could do that.

My husband is a criminal defense attorney, and had a case very like the Curley Park stabbing. So I put all those together for WHAT YOU SEE.

But how that would happen—I wasn’t quite sure. I do keep track, but along the way. I have a very low-tech yellow legal pad, on which I keep a scene-by-scene chart of what I have written. So I know who is where and what time it is and what day it is. But this is AFTER I write it. I consult it all the time.

But as a TV reporter, I know it’s all about telling a good story. So that’s at the top of my mind at all times–what is going to keep the reader turning the page?

And since I have no outline, it is always a surprise to me! So when people say: “Wow, the ending of WHAT YOU SEE really surprised me,” I can say: yes it surprised me too! And I love that.

Rochelle: You work as a television journalist, write mystery novels, and speak frequently at conferences and events. How do you juggle it all—and still get books written? What writing habits have helped you write award-winning books so quickly?

hank in newsroom KAra delahuntHANK: How do I juggle it all? I am very, very organized. And I am very much a creature of deadlines. After all, I cannot say to my news director, “Can I be on the news at ten-after-six instead of six? Because I am really not feeling the muse right now…”

Right? So my very strong (some might say crazy-strong) journalism work ethic has translated, thank goodness, to my writing life. When I have an assignment, I do it. My 100 percent best, and on time. It’s work. I adore my work, but it’s work. It’s my job.

And I will confess, I have a words-per-day chart. I know if I write 640 words a day, I can be done with a first draft two months before deadline, which would give me just enough time to revise. That has NEVER happened. But at least I know exactly how far behind I am, so I don’t panic. Too much.

As for “quickly,” it doesn’t feel quickly to me, I must say. But I try to write every day, and “visit my book,” as I say, every night before I go to sleep. I love my stories, and maybe that propels me along.

Rochelle: Many of our readers are aspiring novelists. Do you have any advice for them?

HANK: It is very easy to get discouraged. It just is. I feel discouraged all the time.

Because it is very difficult to write a book. It is incredibly difficult to write a really good book. But people do it, they do, every day. Word by word and page by page. There are days that you will be unhappy, and doubtful, and not trust yourself. Everyone has those days. Everyone. Remember, Harper Lee threw away To Kill a Mockingbird, and Stephen King tossed the manuscript of Carrie in the trash.

So if they can be discouraged, so can we, right? So just keep going, just persevere, just be determined and do not give up.

My husband and I do not celebrate the anniversary of the day we met. We celebrate the anniversary of the day before we met. And we call that You Never Know day. Because you never know what wonderful thing is around the next corner.

So believe that, OK? Something wonderful is about to happen. You just have to be ready when it does.

And email me when it happens, okay? I love to hear these stories!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

hank primary headshotHANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate. She’s won 33 EMMYs, 13 Edward R. Murrow awards and dozens of other honors for her groundbreaking journalism. A bestselling author of eight mystery novels, Ryan has won multiple prestigious awards for her crime fiction: five Agathas, the Anthony, Daphne, Macavity, and for THE OTHER WOMAN, the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.” Her 2013 novel, THE WRONG GIRL, won both the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and the Daphne Award for Mainstream Mystery/Suspense, and is a seven-week Boston Globe bestseller. TRUTH BE TOLD is the Agatha Award winner for Best Contemporary Novel, an Anthony Award nominee and a Library Journal BEST BOOK OF 2014. Ryan also won a second Agatha Award in 2015 for Best Nonfiction, as editor of WRITES OF PASSAGE, an anthology of essays by mystery authors. Ryan’s newest novel, WHAT YOU SEE, is a RT Book Reviews Top Pick and received a starred review from Library Journal, which raves, “Mystery readers get ready: you will find yourself racing to the finish.” She’s a founding teacher at Mystery Writers of America University and 2013 president of national Sisters in Crime. Visit her online at, on Twitter @HankPRyan and Facebook at HankPhillippiRyanAuthorPage.






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Come to the Write Now! Mastermind Class This Wednesday!

Write a Book, Boost Your Business

Write A Book, Boost Your Business:

Learn How Your Book Can Attract Clients

with Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander

Some people are saying that a book is the new business card, but I think it’s more than that. In this 45-minute class, you’ll learn:

  • What a book can do for you and your business
  • The distinctions between traditional publishing, hybrid publishing, and self publishing
  • Ten ways you can use a book to attract clients
  • The most common obstacles writers face and how my Write-A-Thon class will help you overcome them
  • How to find your most sellable ideas


In addition, you’ll be sent a handout and a link to the recording after the session is over. So if you can’t make it, you can still learn about how your book can boost your business!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

12:00 PM CT (Think Chicago)

The Write Now! Mastermind class is a complimentary class that meets four times a year. If you’re not yet a member of our class, you can sign up at the Write Now! Mastermind page.

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Three Characteristics of Successful Writers by Rochelle Melander

October 20, 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

Are you ready to Write-A-Thon? National Novel Writing Month starts in just 11 days (yikes!). If you need help, my book Write-A-Thon can support you in planning your project, creating a writing habit that works, and keeping your butt in the chair.

This year, I’m planning a special Write-A-Thon class for people who want support writing a short nonfiction book. If that’s you, you can learn more at my website. And if you’re wondering how writing a nonfiction book could bring in more business, then be sure to join us for the Write Now! Mastermind Class: Five Ways a Book Can Attract Clients. Class meets Wednesday, October 28 at 12:00 PM CT.

Today’s tip takes explores three characteristics of successful writers.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach



Three Characteristics of Successful Writers by Rochelle Melander

Two weeks ago, I told you about a writing exercise that could double your success. I asked you to list the characteristics of successful writers. As I wrote, I discovered that some of the things people had teased me about, dissed me for, found annoying about me…well, these were the very traits that made me a successful writer.

Last week, I had a sort of children’s book writing immersion experience. I attended a talk by Brian Selznick on Monday night at Alverno College. I took multiple writing days to work on writing projects. And this past weekend, I participated in Wisconsin’s Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference in Oconomowoc. After all of this, I could provide you with a list of more than a hundred characteristics of successful writers. I’ll settle for three. Here are three traits of successful writers:

1.  Successful writers are fueled by passion.

IMG_2271At an event hosted by Boswell Book Company and Scholastic, Brian Selznick spoke of his love for the movie, A Trip to the Moon by filmmaker Georges Méliès. For over ten years, Selznick nurtured his passion for Méliès’s art with the idea of someday writing about him. He read books, watched movies, and turned over the problem in his mind until he found a story he could tell.

Here’s what Raymond Chandler had to say about passion: Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered pot holder.

Try this: Think about the times in your life when you got really excited about an idea, event, or story. Maybe you got so passionate that someone said, “Calm down.” Or perhaps you apologized for going on and on about a topic. Jot down these ideas and stories and pay attention to the ones that make you feel alive.

2.  Successful writers ask questions.

quotescover-JPG-59magicAt the SCBWI conference, multiple writers reminded us to ask questions. Many writers ask a question once, stick with the first answer that pops into our head, and write. But the best stories come from repeatedly asking “Why?” and “What if?” and “How come?” until we find magic.

William Faulkner said it this way, The most important thing is insight, that is … curiosity to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does.

Try this: Remind yourself of the times that you asked so many questions, your friends or parents told you to stop. Got that feeling? That’s the kind of tenacity I want you to bring to this exercise. (A form of this exercise is found in Write-A-Thon, p. 51.)

Take an idea you’re stuck on or need to explore further and question it. Maybe you’re fascinated by resiliency but you’re not sure about how to explore the topic. Or perhaps you have no idea what the characters in your current story need to do next. Choose a question (Why? What if? How?). Set your timer for 10 minutes and answer the question in as many crazy ways as you can. (Pro Tip: Bruce Coville talked about a similar exercise at the conference—and said that the best answers come at the end of the brainstorming session. So feel free to keep writing after the timer buzzes.)

3.  Successful writers persist.

Stacy Whitman, Brice Coville, Whitney Leader-Picone, Dan Santat, Katherine Harrison

Stacy Whitman, Brice Coville, Whitney Leader-Picone, Dan Santat, Katherine Harrison

Every speaker at the SCBWI conference told us to persist at researching, writing, revising, or submitting. A few weeks ago, I set aside a day to plot the rest of my novel. After hours of making notes, I still had no idea what to do next. I tried again a few days later and came up with the same result: zilch. Between wondering if I had enough talent and worrying that I might have early onset dementia, I decided to try one more time. And guess what? I made progress.

Successful writers write more than they talk or post about writing. Whether it means getting up early, staying up late, or writing in short spurts throughout the day, they do it. When their friends say, “That seems like a stupid idea” or “Why are you still working on that?”—they ignore them and carve out more time to write. When the work is done, they submit. When the story gets rejected, they submit again. When the editor asks for changes, they make them. When no one notices the story, they write another one. And the cycle begins again. Writers persist.

Try this: Consider when you tend to get stuck or give up. Is it during the planning stage, in the middle of the writing, or when it comes to pitching? Once you know when you get stuck, brainstorm a list of possible solutions for moving forward. (Hint: It might help to try the exercise in #2 above to help you blast through the block.)

TWNC_logo_PRINT-1Bonus tip: Successful writers make time to write. I created my Write Now! Coach tagline— Where maybe someday becomes Write Now! —because I meet so many writers who delay their work until they get more education, become more confident, and have more time. Don’t wait, writers. Write. As ― Clarissa Pinkola Estés wrote: The most important thing is to hold on, hold out, for your creative life, for your solitude, for your time to be and do, for your very life.

Need even more encouragement? Come to my Write Now! Mastermind class to learn how a book can boost your business. Class meets Wednesday, October 28 at 12:00 PM CT. And, consider signing up for my Write-A-Thon class. Nothing gets you writing like investing money in your career.



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Not a Novelist? Make NaNoWriMo Work for You! By Rochelle Melander

October 13, 2015

Note From Rochelle



Dear Writers,

Last week’s newsletter was filled with … broken links! I’m sorry about that! For those of you who’d like to finish a book before the year ends, I’ve created a special Write-A-Thon class. We’ll be focusing on writing short nonfiction books that you can use to boost your business. If you’re interested in attending the class, click here to learn more.

And if you want to learn more about how a book can boost your business, be sure to join us for the Write Now! Mastermind Class: Five Ways a Book Can Attract Clients. Class meets Wednesday, October 28 at 12:00 PM CT.

For those of you who don’t write fiction, today’s tip will help you plan for National Novel Writing Month!

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

Not a

Not a Novelist? Make NaNoWriMo Work for You! By Rochelle Melander

IMG_2250With just two and a half weeks until National Novel Writing Month, I’m in full preparation mode. On Friday, I began planning my project—outlining the small steps I’d need to take this month so I’d be ready to write 1666 words a day in November. On Saturday, I did my pre-NaNo cooking spree so that I wouldn’t have to think about snacks or lunches during the big month. I baked cookies, roasted granola, cooked up a big pot of soup, and made burritos.

For those of you who write fiction, participating in National Novel Writing Month makes sense. Why not join a tribe of people who do exactly what you do? For those of you who prefer writing nonfiction or short pieces, NaNoWriMo probably looks like the LAST thing you’d want to try.

I get it. I was raised to be a rule follower, and the NaNoWriMo rules limit the fun to novelists. But why not break a few rules this year? Here are five ways you can break the rules and still compete in NaNo.

1. Write Nonfiction. I completed my first draft of Write-A-Thon during NaNoWriMo. This year, I’m planning to pen another book on writing during the month. If you’re an expert on violence in American or green businesses, why not take the month to write a book on the topic? Whatever kind of nonfiction you write, this could be your opportunity to capture the NaNoWriMo inspiration and finish that book!

2. Try Poetry. Though National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) does not start until April, I’m all for breaking rules! Why not use November to write a poem a day. One year, a friend of mine wrote a haiku poem a day during November. But don’t be limited by one form of poetry—the goal is to get those ideas on paper, every day, for the entire month.

3. Blog. National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) started in November and now runs all year round. The goal is to post a blog every day for a month. So if you have always wanted to blog, this might be your chance to get into the habit of blogging regularly!

4. Query. If you are a working professional writer, the idea of giving up a whole month to write a book that you may never get paid for sounds ludicrous! So why not use the month to send out queries? What would happen if you wrote a query a day for the entire month? You may just increase your income!

5. Journal. If you are not quite ready to take on a project like writing a book, why not use the month for doing writing practice. Plan to write every single day of the month. If all you get stuck, make a list of:

  • The people, events, and experiences you are grateful for.
  • Your achievements.
  • Your strengths and the stories behind them
  • The best and worst and most embarrassing moments of your life!
  • A list of 50-100 things you want to do before you die.

Now are you ready to NaNoWriMo? You can sign up to participate at the NaNoWriMo site. I’m offering a class geared to helping you plan and write a short business-boosting book. And, of course, there’s always my NaNoWriMo book, Write-A-Thon. Happy NaNoWriMo!






Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at



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Try this Writing Exercise and Become TWICE as Successful by Rochelle Melander

October 6, 2015

Note From Rochelle

Dear Writers,

WriteAThon_stagedAre you planning to Write-A-Thon this year? Yup—it’s that time of year again. National Novel Writing Month starts November 1, and it’s time to plan your project! If you need help, my book Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It)  can support you in planning your project, creating a writing habit that works, and keeping your butt in the chair.

This year, I’m planning a special Write-A-Thon class for people who want to write an ebook. This class is specifically designed for nonfiction writers who want to use an ebook to boost their business. If you’re in that group, click here to learn more.

Today’s tip provides a simple writing exercise that will help you become a more successful writer. Try it and see what happens!

Happy Writing!
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
Try This



IMG_1125Twice a month, I teach writing to children at the public library. Most of the exercises I teach them have a secret motive: to help them become more successful in life. Every summer, I hold a super reader workshop. During the session, I invite students to list the characteristics of super readers. When they’re done, they create small books with titles like: How to Become a Super Reader. Just today, I read that this task is scientifically proven to help them be more successful. WOW! And you can use a similar exercise to increase your success as a writer.


The Exercise: Describe the characteristics of super successful writers. Think of successful writers in general—not one specific writer—and list their behaviors, characteristics, values, lifestyle, and appearance. Take at least two minutes to describe things like: What does their day look like? How do they react in the face of failure? What habits do successful writers have? For the best results, record your answers on paper.

24611964The Science. Jane McGonigal wrote about the study in her book, SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver, and More Resilient. In the original study—conducted at MIT and NYU—researchers invited participants to record the traits of superheroes. Afterwards, they were asked to sign up to tutor youth. When researchers looked at who signed up to volunteer, the participants who thought about superheroes were twice as likely to volunteer as those who didn’t. Three months later when researchers followed up with the study’s participants, they found that these people were “four times as likely to actually show up for a volunteering session.” (Superbetter, p. 101)

Why this works: When we consider the positive traits of a group, we compare ourselves to the group—looking primarily for similarities. Every time we consider the successful behaviors of a group—like professional writers—we become twice as likely to act like they do. (The caveat: This seems to work ONLY when participants thought about an entire group of heroes versus a single one. So, don’t think of a single successful writer, consider a bunch of them!)

Your turn: If you’re game, try this today. Feel free to record your list of traits in the comments below. Watch your behavior over the next week. Stop back next Tuesday and leave a comment about how the exercise impacted your life.


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