Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!! 

This word cloud  is a sampler platter of what
 I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving.

What are you grateful for this year?

Artwork by moi with a handy new tool I discovered called Wordle
I am grateful for the geniuses there!

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Monday Morning Aha

This is what happens when you go for it. There are periods of intense work. When you feel like you are accomplishing so much, there is just not enough time in the day to get it all done.

Then you stop to stand still because of course you must take a break. Everyone needs a break. I advocate taking a break. But when you try to get going again, it seems you have forgotten where exactly that  gas pedal is. You look at your to-do list for the week and it looks remarkably similar to your to-do list for the week before and the one before that.  Nothing is getting crossed off.  And suddenly you forget all the progress you have made and think that maybe you have accomplished nothing. And you start to sweat. Because of course it is almost December. This year is almost over.

That is where I was this morning. With two feet stuck in wet cement, worrying that if I didn't pull myself out quickly I would be forever stuck in hardened concrete.

So I  forced myself to get to it. I sat at my desk staring at my big shiny iMac, unable to type a word because I had decided I had nothing left to say.  I checked Facebook.  I rearranged the papers and the folders. I checked Facebook again. I wiped away the dust and discovered my egg timer. That magical little inexpensive time management tool I boast about using. And there it was. My Monday morning aha moment.

I hadn't been using that timer.

It was that simple to get unstuck. Make my list. And time each item. Even if I didn't get to cross it off the list, I could check off my progress. The feeling of accomplishment allows for that sense of progress made and for me breeds more accomplishment. All for the price of an egg-timer.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My First Birthday Published

It was around the time this picture was taken I wrote my first story. It was published in the school paper, The Castlewood Times. It wasn’t very long, a few sentences strung together but I was quite proud of my accomplishment.

The little girl in that picture looked at the world with fresh eyes, wanting to know everything about everything, anxious to discover and bursting at the seams with anticipation. She believed there would come a day when she would know everything there was to know. There would be nothing left to learn. She would be that wise. No one told her that wasn’t going to happen. And even if they had, she wouldn’t have believed them.  

There are times in our lives when we stagnate, as though we have reached the pinnacle my little girl self thought she would attain. Then we try something new, stretch out of our comfort zone and we are in awe of how young and alive we feel again. And though we may look in the mirror and not see our younger self, that aura surrounds our being.

That about sums up how I feel on my first birthday as a published author.

My learning curve has been steeper than steep these last months as I dove head first into the world of self-publishing. Every day has served up something new.

So far I have learned:

  • A review or personal note from someone who liked your story, loved your characters and thinks you are a talented writer can set one floating on air for the rest of the day. 
  • Readers discover aspects of your storytelling that will surprise you.
  • People find it very inspiring when you actually do what you have said you were going to do.
  • Some people want you to fail and will continue to point out all the ways success, as an independent author is more difficult than if you were published by a legacy house.
  • More people want you to succeed.
  • Walking the walk of creating change instead of just talking about it makes me a better coach for my clients.
  • I really like being interviewed on the radio!
  • Traditional publishing is trying desperately to hold on to its “elitist” attitude. It trickles down to unexpected places like non-corporate blogs that won’t review your book because it is “too hard to vet self-published books.”
  • Everyone is quick to point out all the not great indie stuff being put out into the world, but not so quick to point out all the not great traditional stuff sitting next to it.
  • People on the “inside” of the traditional world know very little about what is happening in the world of self-publishing. I attended one event where a panelist from inside this bubble announced with 100% certainty that if you published on Kindle you gave them your rights and couldn’t publish anywhere else. (Note: This is SO NOT true.)
  • People adore their Kindles but they are still buying print copies too.
  • Having a sales and marketing background makes this much easier to navigate.
  • Staring at my revenue data trying to wish a higher number reminds me of my ad sales day. (Note: this practice does not sell more books)
  • Amazon and Barnes and Noble reviews, Tweets, Facebook recommendations, PR pitches, and connections do.
  • That just about everyone says they always wanted to write a book and want to know how I did it. (Hint: First thing is you have to write, every day.)
  • That help and support comes from unexpected places.

Do I feel differently, on this, my first birthday officially published?

Yes. Remarkably younger, yet as accomplished as I did that day The Castlewood Times published my story. Maybe even a tad more.

And please, no gifts...okay if you must, then buy a book, or two or three. They make great holiday gifts for your friends and co-workers. Reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble are good too, as are Facebook posts and Tweets to your tribe! 

The Secrets They Kept is now available for sale on AmazonBarnes and Noble, iTunes and other on-line booksellers.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Things Happen With Purpose

"Failure is not the opposite of success,
 it's a stepping stone to success."
-Arianna Huffington

I believe things happen with purpose. Even the ugly, awful things. In fact, sometimes it is in those moments of despair and hurt and perceived failure that we are propelled forward to something far better and greater than that for which we are mourning our loss.

Not everyone agrees with me. And I understand why. It's easier not to believe that. It's less painful to take our punches and lay there nursing our wounds, struggling to get past them while we are waiting for the next shoe to drop than to mourn fully and step forward with trust in a power greater than ourselves, that something good, something far better than what we ever could have imagined is just around the corner.

It's a bit of a mind game we have to play with ourselves. Turning around the bad to find the good.  But over time when you can look with 20/20 hindsight you can find your proof, if not in your own life, then in the life of someone else.

I caught up with a friend I knew from my early days in the business last week. She's had a streak of not so great things happen that she was trying to make sense of. Of course I could not help myself but to offer that there was a reason for it all, that at the moment did not particularly look clear. She wasn't so sure.

I invited her to watch this clip of Arianna Huffington's acceptance speech at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards last week, her views on failure and a look at what happened when a man wouldn't marry her.

Do you believe things happen for a reason?
What examples can you cite in your life?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Or Laugh At It?

If you thought this was going to be a blog on my opinion on Occupy Wall Street, flip the page. It's about a book that was sent to me in the hopes of a review with the rather catchy and well-timed title,  Laughing at Wall Street, a treatise on how to get your fair share of the wealth generated by following a few simple steps.

I admit to having a cynical eye toward any of the sundry books out there that profess to have all the secrets as to how you can create a fortune, find true love, write a book, blah, blah, blah. But a glance at the first few pages and Chris Camillo's writing was easy and engaging so I decided to dive in.  Plus having written a book myself, I understand the importance of reviews, good, bad or indifferent.

If having control over your financial future is of interest to you and you have thought about dabbling in DIY trading, I recommend you get yourself a copy. There is no doubt this is an informative book with easy instructions on the basics and lots of resources. There are no guarantees of what wealth you can create but Chris does have an interesting perspective on how to create an OPM (other people's money) fund with which to start. Like stopping the Starbucks for as long as it takes to accumulate a few hundred in spare cash. If the fancy drinks are your downfall, that won't take too long.

What struck me the most in this book was the larger picture of what Chris addresses. He repeatedly points out that all the high priced analysis that envelopes Wall Street on a daily basis, the charts, the trends, and the projections, can still overlook what is really going on in the world and in the case of the market, where the next big hot stock is going to be and where you can reap the benefits.

24/7 Cable News and Internet blogs have us inundated with "experts" telling us what happened, what is happening and what will happen. If we are not careful that leaves us little room to draw our own conclusions, about stocks or anything else of consequence. And if we listen too long, we might even think we have no control over our own destiny.

Chris is an inspiring writer. Whether it is how to increase our net worth or follow our passion in life, the book for me was a reminder that we have the power to take control and make something happen. We live in a time where vast resources and information are at our fingertips and where we can  engage with others on-line and off-line. We must remember to pay attention to what is going on around us, to not rely on stats and analysis alone, to not believe an "expert" just because they say they are, and to the box and out of the box. We might make mistakes and lose a few, but as long as we learn from that we are on our way to creating what we want. And if you follow Chris's instructions, that might be increased wealth.

I don't know Chris's opinion on the Occupy Wall Street movement. I am not sure I know my own. But I do know that when given a choice, I opt for laughter!

 Are you a DIY investor?
Do you rely soley on experts or do you draw your own conclusions?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Surprised? Not Me!

It's been quite a week in the headlines. One hardly knows where to start. The Greek Government is about to collapse. The markets reaction is down then up then down and up again. One can hardly keep track. Justin Bieber might be a father. Kim Kardashian breaks a new world record for most lavish wedding and quickest divorce. My new iPhone's battery has a below par battery life. And then there is my personal favorite, Herman Cain's supposed issues with sexual harassment in the 90's. It's times like this that I am so glad I don't work for a news channel anymore and have to live with the fact I made money off this stuff.

Now I don't often smear (ooh! did I use the word smear?) this blog with discussions about our political leaders or would be leaders but sometimes I just can't help myself. And this is one of those times.

You know what I'm getting to. Herman Cain and the alleged sexual harassment claims.

What surprises me most about this whole thing is that anyone is surprised. This story line is worn.  Politicians of all party persuasion, propping themselves up on camera as holier than thou, church going, family men, claiming to be better than us, when in truth they are as flawed as everyone else. Correction. More flawed. You have to be to live in the delusion that your past is not going to meet your present. Haven't they heard about the Internet and 24/7 cable news?

Now, these are still "allegations." But if I were a betting woman I would say there was truth behind it.

Reason #1.  Any woman who has had an extended stay in the corporate world will tell you that sexual harassment and discrimination still existed in the 90's as much as it did in the "Mad Men" era. The truth is     as much as we don't want to believe it and as  many will try to convince you otherwise, it still does. The biggest difference from what went on years ago and today is that then it was overt and today it is covert.

Reason #2.  Take a look at what Herman Cain stands for. If it's anything, this is not a man who respects women's rights. He doesn't believe in affirmative action, insisting we are beyond that. He doesn't think a woman has a right to make decisions involving her body, even if it was life or death. Unless of course, it is his daughter or granddaughter. In that case they can break the new laws he wants to invoke. But only if they have the money to fund it. And if they don't it's no one's fault but their own.

Reason #3. No story happens out of nowhere. We still don't know all the details, but even if it is only a shred, there is some truth to this.

Reason #4. I'm a big believer it is not always the action itself that is damning, it is how you react. And Herman Cain is reacting as if he has something to hide. His recollection changes from sound bite to sound bite as he points fingers one minute at the "liberal mainstream media", the next at his buddy, Rick Perry.

The big question is not who leaked the story, it's what is the story?  And like my novel, the mystery is why is everyone so reluctant to tell it? 

Hint: We are only reluctant when we don't want the real truth known.

Have you gotten your copy of The Secrets They Kept yet?
Now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBook!