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Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

Make Your Own Luck

Have you ever noticed how some people just seem lucky? No matter where they go or what they do, opportunity seems to favor them and they’re always getting ahead. They get the guy (or gal). They get the job. They get the client. They get the promotion. They get the raise. They win the door prize. They get the freaking parking spot!

Would it surprise you to know that these “lucky” folks probably take a lot of steps that “unlucky” people don’t take? Chances are good that every day, they’re doing something to improve their “luck” – meaning it may just look like luck to those looking in from the outside, rather than what it really is: a particular way of living their lives.

If you’d like to start bringing some more luck your way, here are some things you can do to improve your odds:

  1. Expand your horizons. Be willing to socialize, meet new people, embrace networking instead of dreading it. Remember to also keep in touch with your old friends, colleagues, vendors, and clients. Check in with them once in a while to find out what they’ve been up to lately.
  2. Know what your goal is and see yourself accomplishing it – literally, in your mind, playing out like a movie. Better still if you’re acting it out instead of watching. Give thanks for achieving that goal as if it’s already happened.
  3. Give without expectation – let it be OK if people don’t send thank you notes. Lend a hand where you can. Be a mentor. Sponsor a Little League team. Giving feels great and the rewards come back to us in amazing and often unexpected ways.
  4. Learn to be spontaneous once in a while. If you’re the type who’s got every minute planned, there’s little room in your life for luck to show up. Be open to new things and interested in the world beyond your immediate surroundings. Go out of your way to meet a stranger today!
  5. Look for opportunities. Sometimes good fortune seems to fall into your lap – but just as often, opportunity knocks because you were paying attention. You followed through on that zany idea, made that call, or asked for what you wanted.
  6. Leave your comfort zone once in a while. Luck’s probably not going to fall on you while you’re staying safely hidden away from the world. Read blogs on topics you’d never considered before. Listen to a podcast about a place you’ve never been. Join Toastmasters. Take a Zumba class. See an art film or a documentary.
  7. Work hard. Really – it’s the rare lucky person who hasn’t worked hard to get where they are. The universe will see your efforts and reward you with that “lucky break.”
  8. Don’t underrate optimism. Most lucky people have a wonderfully positive outlook on life. More importantly, they expect good things to happen to them.
  9. Take setbacks in stride. No matter how much effort you put into “being lucky,” life is life and you will invariably experience the occasional obstacle. Are you going to waste time asking, “Why me?” or get right back up, shake it off, and know that tomorrow’s a new day?
  10. Focus on the present moment. This is not to say you shouldn’t make plans, but live in the now. Relish THIS moment and leave worries about the past and concerns about tomorrow for someone other unlucky schmuck.

How lucky do you want to be? You probably have a lot more control over it than you realize.

Oh, and Happy St. Pat’s!

An abbreviated version of this story originally ran in the March issue of my newsletter, The Creative Quill. If you’d like a complimentary one-year subscription, please email SubscribeQuill@writemarketdesign.com with your snail mail address.

Laura

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Recap and marketing lessons from TFOB 2017

Although you’d be hard-pressed to prove it just yet, I am striving to post much more regularly this year. Yep – get ready for … well, if not an onslaught, at least a lot more posts than you’ve been seeing over the past 18 months. It’s time – and I’m ready. I’m learning lots every day, and want to share what I’m learning so you can be a be smarter author/marketer.

Toward the learning, I’ve spent the last three weekends in education mode – the first at the Arizona Authors’ Association “Crafting the Written Word” Conference. The following weekend found me in Tucson at the inaugural Tucson Self-Publishing Expo. And this past weekend, I made another jaunt down to Wildcat territory for the Tucson Festival of Books.

I’m starting chronologically backwards in my sharing because I promised some people I’d email them when I got this post up, so I want to get to that first.

I don’t know what kind of relationship you have with your phone, but mine is something of a casual friendship. I don’t have it on me 24/7 like a lot of people. I often have the ringer volume low or off. I’m just not as attached to Neari (you know, kind of like Siri) as some people are to their smartphones. Which is, no doubt, how I could get to the rest stop just outside Casa Grande, Ariz. before realizing I had left my phone at home in Phoenix. Ah, it took me back to the good old days when I prayed I would get there without any trouble and that my husband would see my phone on my dresser and not worry when I didn’t call or answer his texts throughout the day. (He didn’t.)

The worst part about not having my phone with me was not knowing the time – so I stopped at a truck stop and bought a very cute watch that I’ll probably never wear again. The second worst thing was being without my camera. Especially at an event like the TFOB, where there were plenty of things I wanted to remember with pictures. Thanks to the kindness of my friend Rita Goldner, award-winning author of ORANGUTAN: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy, who lent me her Canon Power Shot camera (remember the days when phones and cameras were two different devices?), I was able to capture images of the many booths and authors featured below.

Although they didn’t have a booth to themselves, Amylynn Bright and her sister Ava Bright (together, The Quill Sisters) had a gorgeous table in the Romance tent.


In the same tent, Anne Marie Becker also had a beautiful table. Someone taught those romance authors a thing about display design!


Best-selling author Cathy McDavid had a creative marketing idea – a blind date with a book. Anyone who bought one of her many cowboy romances would win a secret book – wrapped in plain tissue paper. Cathy says she can’t take credit for the idea – she borrowed it from someone else. It’s clever nonetheless.


Dr. Deborah Westbury had one of the  most beautiful booth displays I saw at the entire event. She credited her friend (the blonde gal whose left arm is visible in the bottom left quadrant of the picture, behind the woman with her hand on the poster) with the design.


The first thing you saw upon approaching Elaine A. Powers’ booth were the lizard feet.

Known as the “lizard lady,” Powers writes children’s books about lizards and reptiles. Her display was eye-catching, though she did have the benefit of lots of open space next to her.


College pals (Go, Wildcats!) and authors Jay J. Falconer and M.L. Banner caught my attention with their cleverly worded banner title: AUTHORS OF DOOM, GLOOM AND BOOM! They had an excellent display, using the booth well to accommodate both authors’ books.

They also employed an interesting marketing idea, Lexy the sleuthy-looking mannequin, to entice buyers into a free book giveaway.

Lastly, M.L. Banner knows how to work a website. Whether or not you want to download his free books, visit his site to take a look at an excellent free membership enticement every author could learn from.


Fantasy author Jessica C. Feinberg knows her audience: dragon lovers. She designed her booth to capture their attention and imagination with cleverly worded signs and dragons in every corner. Even the dad accompanying these boys was entranced.


Jody Mackey also knows whose attention she’s looking to catch with her pink tulle, flowers, and all things little girls. Her Sally Loves… books are gorgeously designed – as is her fantastic website. I think that must have been the father of a daughter, don’t you?


Another stunning booth was Natalie Wright’s – complete with aliens and celestial-themed decos. She covered every corner of her booth – even making great use of the ceiling space!


Some booths used their exterior and interior wall space creatively to attract attention. The UA College of Behavioral Sciences put up a chalkboard (remember those?) that asked the question, “What would you title your story?” Bet they had a field day with those answers!

The Literacy Connects organization took advantage of the festival’s proximity to March Madness to create their own bracket, this one for iconic authors. Players chose their favorites, who were moved along through the brackets as the Festival continued.

And the Tucson Chapter of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation put a clever twist on things by posting the signatures of famous authors on the exterior wall of their booth. Again, it helps to have an open exterior wall or extra booth space. Those authors/groups with smaller spaces had to become even more imaginative.


A big hit at last year’s LA Times Festival of Books was a “wheel of fortune” giveaway at one of the booths. And I mean BIG hit – every time I walked past that booth, people were waiting 20 deep to spin the wheel and win something – anything, it seemed. Well, the good news is that Tucson Electric Power copied the idea to great success this year at the TFOB. The bad news is that they weren’t the only one employing it, by far. I lost count after seeing a half-dozen different booths offering their own smaller, lesser versions of the WOF. Hint for next year: get a new idea.


Strangely for me, I only bought two books at the TFOB this year.

The first was from author Katherine Rambo, a book titled The World Came to Tucson, about the history of the world-famous Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. I got that for my rock-collecting mother-in-law.

The other book I bought was from author and baseball rock star, Ila Jane Borders. Making My Pitch is her memoir about becoming the first woman to play Major League Baseball, a fact that somehow didn’t make as many waves as it should have. Ila now has a baseball school for girls. I bought that one for my friend, Steve, who is both the most voracious reader and biggest baseball fan I know. But I can’t wait to read it first!


There were some bad booths, too. I took pictures, but I won’t share them here. Shaming people publicly never made anyone friends. It was hot this year in Tucson – and those with booths facing directly into the sun were at an unfair disadvantage. Nevertheless, if you commit to an event like a big book festival, make the most of it. Get a hat. Douse yourself in sun screen. Get a spray bottle and offer to wet down people as they walk past – that’ll get ’em to come on over to your booth. What you don’t do is hover in the shady corner like a vampire trying to avoid sunlight.

Get out from behind your table – or at least stand up and put your damned phone away! I wonder how many potential sales are lost at events because the vendor is sitting down or too busy on their phone to notice their booth visitor. You definitely need to find the happy medium between being overly solicitous and ignoring people – but it’s there.

At any rate, that’s my rundown. I’ll have another report at the end of April from the other side of the fence, as I and nine other authors from Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion attempt to woo book-loving Los Angeleans at the 2017 LA Times Festival of Books. On the off chance you’ll be there, we’re in booth #025 in the Cardinal section. Want to join us – or know an author who wants to? We’ve got space for 2 more authors! Email LABookFestival@WriteMarketDesign.com for details.

In the meantime, keep doing great stuff! And watch for my avalanche, er plethora … OK, maybe increase, yes, an increase in posts in the coming weeks!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

What are 3 biggest new author mistakes?

Learn the steps that will set you apart from 95% of all new authors.

(Hint: It’s NOT too late, even if you’ve already placed your first printing order for books!)

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE REPORT NOW!

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Scott Adams exemplifies WYTAYBA: What You Think About Your Bring About

I once heard a story about Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip. First published in dilbert131989, the comic strip gained a quick following. But Adams wanted more. He wanted to be THE most famous cartoonist in the world. According to the story I heard (mind you, now, I’ve never done the research to back this up), he saw as his nemeses three cartoonists of immense fame and wide regard: Berke Breathed, who drew Bloom County; Gary Larson, of Far Side fame; and Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes. Adams felt that if he was ever going to make it to THE top, each of these three comic-drawing gods was going to have to put the cap on his pen and call it quits.

In the meantime, Adams was leaving nothing to chance. He started writing affirmations and repeating mantras to himself. He cut up strips of paper on which was written “I am the most famous cartoonist in the world,” and pasted them everywhere: bathroom mirror, refrigerator, computer, phone, car sun visor. Anywhere he looked, this affirmation was there to inspire him.

And then, unbelievably, one by one Breathed, Larson, and Watterson decided to end their strips, leaving the road clear for Adams to ascend to greatness.

I’m not sure he was ever the most popular cartoonist in the world – or even in the United States – but no one can argue with his success. The Dilbert comic strip was the progenitor of several movies, an animated TV series, a video game, and hundreds of pieces of merchandise. Adams received the National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award and the Newspaper Comic Strip Award in 1997. And his lovable misfit and entourage appear in 2,000 newspapers around the world across 65 countries, translated into 25 languages.

A post by Brendon Callagher on Complex.com titled “The 25 Best Sunday Comic Strips of All Time” placed Dilbert at #13. And my Google search for “most popular comic strip” shows Adams in the fourth position.

dilbert

What does this all have to do with you and marketing your book? Everything. First of all, have you ever answered the question: What is your #1 goal? Is it:

  • To publish your book?
  • To sell 10,000 copies of your book?
  • To make The New York Times bestseller list?
  • To go on a world tour with your book?
  • To have your book made into a movie?

Before you can achieve it, you have to know WHAT your goal is. And regardless of how distant and unachievable they might seem, none of these is out of the realm of possibility for any author. When it comes to achieving your goal, however, the deeper questions are: How much do you want it? And what are you willing to do to get it?

Adams probably did a lot more than just write, post, and say affirmations all day. But he was certain he had to embrace the success mindset he wanted to achieve. This is an essential part of the Law of Attraction. There’s a made-up word, wytayba, pronounced WHY-TAY-BA, (an acronym,  actually, that stands for “what you think about, you bring about”), that most Law of Attraction practitioners focus on daily. Where are your thoughts? What is your focus? What do you spend the most time concentrating on? If it’s not your number stan-wytabaone goal, you either need to change your goal or learn to refocus your thoughts.

I was recently gifted with an idea from the Arizona Marketing Association – a group of like-minded entrepreneurs and businesspeople who gather monthly to discuss marketing ideas, tips, and tools.

Think about a simple device you probably have in your hands for hours at a time daily – your smart phone. Would you believe that the average person checks their device – that means looks at and/or unlocks their home screen – between 85 and 110 times a day?

What if you were to leverage that seemingly innocuous task to your benefit by having it help you focus on your goal? It’s easy enough to do. Write your goal on a piece of paper – clearly so you can read it. Then take a picture of that goal and make that image the lock screen for your phone. (If you don’t know how to do this, find the closest sixth-grader and ask them.) Going forward, every time you go to unlock your phone, you have an added imprint of your goal – a reminder of what you intend to accomplish next in life. (This image is my new lock screen.)

I’ll tell you, I’m sure a lot more focused on publishing my novel by April 22nd (the day before the L.A. Times Festival of Books begins) than I was before I added this simple, elegant reminder to my phone.

Here’s to accomplishing your goal and living WYTAYBA!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Want to experience the West Coast, sell & sign books, and make some great new friendships? Join us for Great 2017 West Coast Book Tour – July 22-August 12. We’ll visit San Diego, LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Space is limited to 6 authors. Reserve your spot today! Details here.

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Will your Believin’ pay off for you?

What author doesn’t – at some level – dream of fame? I think most of us harbor a secret desire, if not to be a household name, to at least sell enough books to demand some serious shelf space at the bookstores still left in the world. To be booked for signings where people wait on line for tickets. To be given the chance to tell our stories and share our messages with as many readers as possible. The reality is that there aren’t many famous authors, compared to the total number of people who actually publish books. And I’ll bet if you were to ask most of them, they worked hard and toiled into many a night to earn their fame.

Arnel today

Such was the actual case with Arnel Pineda. He worked hard and toiled for years. But he had a magical experience – a fairytale, not-in-most-people’s-lifetimes kind of occurrence – when he was lifted from obscurity and near poverty to become the lead singer of one of the most famous rock bands in the world. His journey is chronicled in the documentary film, Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey (available on Netflix). I had the joy and the privilege to see him perform live at a sold-out show at Ak-Chin Pavilion in Phoenix last weekend.

When Pineda lost his mom as a boy, he and his siblings were forced out onto the streets of Manila to join hordes of other homeless children. He was fortunate he had a skill, and often was seen singing on street corners, literally for his supper. By age 12, he made his way into a band, and began performing and improving his vocal skills. Fast-forward MANY years, after decades of travel and performing throughout Asia, to 2007, where he and his band, The Zoo, were performing in clubs several nights a week at clubs in Manila and Olongapo, Philippines.

Fortunately for Pineda, he had a raving fan in Noel Gomez, who would go to the shows and record Pineda and his band performing. Next, Gomez would head to an Internet café where he would sit for hours, uploading the videos he’d shot to YouTube, all told about 60 of them. “It was slow – sometimes four, six, maybe even eight hours to upload one video,” Gomez says during an interview for the documentary. The thing is, he believed in Pineda for a reason: the guy is really that good.

“He kept believing in me, like a fairytale dream,” Pineda says in an interview for the movie, “that one day I would be famous.” He admits he shrugged it off as a silly pipe dream.

Then, one day, the email arrived that would change Pineda’s life forever. Neal Schon, guitarist and founding member of the band Journey, had come across Gomez’s videos of Pineda’s performances. At a crisis moment after having lost their second lead singer to illness*, the band was scheduled to release a new album and had no one singing lead. After days and weeks of watching demos and reviewing YouTube videos of Journey tribute bands and singers of every stripe, Schon was about ready to give up and cancel the album because the singer they needed just wasn’t showing up. Before shutting down his computer, Schon clicked one last link, and Noel Gomez’s fairytale beliefs paid off. “Oh my God,” Schon said, “this is the guy!”

Schon emailed Gomez for Pineda’s contact info. When he called, Pineda thought it was a joke and all but hung up on him. Schon confirmed with an email to Gomez – and it took some prodding, but Pineda became convinced that Journey was knocking on his door and inviting him to an audition. He got the gig. Pineda debuted as the lead singer of Journey on February 21, 2008, at the Viña del Mar International Song Festival in Viña del Mar, Chile, and has been touring with them ever since.

Arnel & the band

Of this famous image of him with the band, Pineda says during an interview for the documentary, “It looks like someone just Photoshopped me into the picture. I’m very short and so Asian, and now I’m the lead singer of Journey.”

Pineda’s role in the band was not well accepted by all Journey fans – in fact, he received some pretty hateful anti-fan mail, at least in the beginning. But he was so philosophical, even about the racist comments. “Steve Perry was the voice of Journey. I was a huge fan, too. Without him, I could not be here. I know why they worry I could not do this music justice.”

Pineda more than does the music justice.

After Perry sang two Journey songs in a surprise 2014 appearance with a band called The Eels, Pineda was quoted as saying, “[Perry] should come back. His voice is still there. He can take over, too. It’s his righteous place, anyway.” The Filipino singer received a lot of pushback for the comments, with people doubting his desire to continue with the band. According to UltimateClassicRock.com, Pineda later tweeted: “Let me be clear. I took Journey’s leap of faith coz they generously gave it to me. Yet, I’ll never be addicted to fame.”

Arnel then

That was so incredibly apparent in his Phoenix performance. It would be understandable if the rocket ship that catapulted Pineda from obscurity to worldwide fame had gone to his head even a little bit. But it hasn’t. Except for the new tatted up look and shorter hair, the nearly 49-year-old singer still has his feet figuratively planted on the ground. He demonstrated this by laying down on the floor of the stage to reach across the barricade and slap the hands of about a dozen fans in the front row. What lead singer does that?

Pineda has embraced his role as the new frontman for this legendary band, dedicating everything he’s got to the job. The band’s grueling tour schedule, often three shows in four days, as was the case when they visited Phoenix, doesn’t allow much downtime or time for Pineda to rest his enormous voice. Couple that with the thought of how big the burden really is to carry a band like Journey from the brink of collapse back to one sell-out stadium tour after another. It’s not just the band that’s counting on him. Look down the line to the people employed to create and sell Journey merchandise, all the people employed by the band’s road crews, stadium employees from ticketsellers to security. Wow!

Before and during his stint with The Zoo, Pineda wrote some of his own songs, but it’s always been his renditions of other bands’ well-known classics – from Journey to the Police to Heart to Guns ‘N Roses – that have gotten people’s attention. This year, after signing a record deal with Imagen Records, he is finally poised to release his first solo album.

What’s the point of the whole story for you, an author or would-be author who may be reading this post? Am I suggesting that you might one day find your own rocket ship to fame? Eh, that’s pretty unlikely – but hey, I’m pretty sure Arnel Pineda never quite expected it would one day happen to him, so who knows?

There are takeaways, however.

(1) Show up. And do a great job when you show up.

(2) Trust your friends who believe in you. If you have a Noel Gomez in your life, thank them, as soon as you finish reading this!

(3) Believe in yourself, too. Noel Gomez couldn’t have willed this to happen for his friend if Pineda hadn’t had some measure of belief in himself.

(4) Never forget where you came from. The biggest concerts of his life happen when Pineda returns to his hometown of Manila. There, he’s not just a rock star, he’s the local boy made good.

Never stop believin’!

Laura

* Journey’s original frontman, Steve Perry, was forced to leave the band after experiencing a debilitating hip injury. He was replaced in 1998 by Steve Augeri, who was eventually dropped in 2006 because of a vocal chord injury that left him unable to perform.

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SOURCES:

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/arnel-pineda-steve-perry-journey

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/steve-perry-returns-to-stage-performs-journey-songs

http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/journey-singer-arnel-pineda-signs-solo-deal-with-imagen-records

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

What are 3 biggest new author mistakes?

Learn the steps that will set you apart from 95% of all new authors.

(Hint: It’s NOT too late, even if you’ve already placed your first printing order for books!)

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE REPORT NOW!

__________________

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Late, early, or right on time?

Pointing-at-Watch

Pretty much everyone can agree that being on time is a good habit to develop and nurture. One trait you never want to be known for is running chronically late. You know the type – maybe you are the type! Traffic. Kids. Dogs. The phone. There’s always an excuse – some of them sincere, or actually true. But when you’re labeled an HTP (habitually tardy person), it can reflect badly on you, both in your personal and professional lives.

But what about the person who is chronically early? Have you ever heard those people who spout the refrain, “If you’re on time, you’re late”? No, you’re not. If you’re on time, you’re on time. You have a good sense of time. You know it takes less than an hour to get across town, and you budget accordingly. You know you’re low on gas, so you leave a few minutes early and stop at the gas station on your way. You’ve checked your wallet and know you need to hit an ATM before going to your networking luncheon. And still, you get there on time. Not 30 minutes early. Not 15 minutes late. On time.

There was a funny scene in last Sunday’s episode of The Good Wife. Alicia is preparing for her mother-in-law’s wedding party, which is to take place in her apartment. The doorbell rings, and Alicia says to her daughter, “It’s 10 of. They’re not supposed to be here for 10 more minutes.” Trust me, I know the difference 10 minutes can make, but when you’re having people over, you can always expect them to start showing up at least 10 minutes before the event’s posted start time. Sometimes they show up as much as a half-hour early.

I’ve experienced the frustration of arriving at a venue 45 minutes early to set up for my small event, glad I’m not rushed and comfortable that I will have plenty of time to prepare in a relaxed manner – only to find someone already there, waiting. And the nature of that early person seems never to be to wait quietly … or to offer to help. The nature of that early person is to want to engage you in conversation, completely oblivious to the fact that you arrived early because you have things to do.

My point is that arriving extra early is just as rude as arriving late – sometimes more so. When people post an event start time, they choose that time for a reason. They have errands to do and accommodations to make and they are relying on the time prior to the posted start time to get those things done.

I’m no perfectionist when it comes to running on time. Occasionally I’m five minutes late; once in a while, I’m five minutes early. But more often than not, I’m right on time. As a frequent host of author events, I recommend getting there early if you are a vendor or volunteer who can help set up. You can’t skate in 5 minutes before the doors are supposed to open and expect to create an attractive, inviting, professional display. But if you’re an event patron – or a regular meeting attendee – on time is a good goal.

Some organizations build networking time into their meetings. For example, the posted start time for a luncheon is 11:30 a.m., but people are not asked to be seated so the formal program can begin until 11:45. Other groups prefer that you do your networking in the 10 or 15 minutes before the posted start time. Do your research ahead of time and learn the particulars for the group you’ll be visiting so you know what to expect when you get there.

Heading to a new venue you’ve never been to before? Allow yourself some extra time to find the place without rushing. And in the event that you still find yourself with 20 or 30 extra minutes? Carry a book with you. Listen to an audiobook in your car. Go for a walk (as long as it’s not summertime in Phoenix). Meditate. Write out your goal list. Study the goal list you keep in your car for just such occasions. Use the restroom so you won’t have to interrupt the meeting later to get up. Consider those 20 or 30 minutes a gift.

And if you still have time to spare, check out this great Buzzfeed post, with 22 things people who are chronically early will totally understand.

Then give the host and/or event planner the gift of arriving on time.

Here’s to conquering Chronic Early Arrival Syndrome!

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

What are 3 biggest new author mistakes?

Learn the steps that will set you apart from 95% of all new authors.

(Hint: It’s NOT too late, even if you’ve already placed your first printing order for books!)

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE REPORT NOW!

__________________

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The most important moment in life is NOW!

Over the weekend, my husband and I were in Kingman for the KABAM (Kingman Area Books Are Magic) Festival. That odd experience is for another post. While we were there, though, we took advantage of our proximity to GB

Laughlin and went to see George Benson perform at the Edgewater Hotel and Casino. Whoo-hoo! We were fortunate to score front-row seats that had been released the day of the show!

You hear that George Benson’s playing and you think (OK, I thought…): Yeah, I probably know one or two of his songs. And then he plays his guitar and it’s hit after hit after hit. Songs like “Breezin’,” “Turn Your Love Around,” “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You,” “Give Me the Night,” and “On Broadway.”

So the concert venue is odd. One of those makeshift-looking buildings that’s more tent than permanent structure. And in an effort to cram in as many seats as possible, every folding chair in the place is zip-tied into its row, so there’s no wiggle room. It literally felt like we were sitting on top of the people on either side of us – and vice-versa. That led to conversation because, well, our butts were nudging each other, so how could you not talk to a person?

The little man sitting next to me was Benny (not his real name). He wore a beige golf cap, a yellow polo shirt, and had a well-groomed Van Dyke. He told me, rather proudly it seemed, that he had grown up with George Benson in Pittsburgh. “I’m 73 now. So’s he,” he said, pointing to the empty stage. “I knew him all the way back in third grade.” Benny recalled the times when Benson would go to the corner store and buy a quarter’s worth of penny candy. Then, he’d sit in the back of the classroom, eating one after another. He’d occasionally get caught by the teacher, who would hear the wrappers rattling. I asked Benny if George ever shared his candy. “Never!” came the quick reply. “He’d say, ‘You want candy? Go get your own.’” He seemed lost in thought for a moment.

“We played a little music together,” Benny said nostalgically. “I was on the drums a bit.”

I asked Benny if the men had stayed in touch over the years. They hadn’t – but it wasn’t for Benny’s lack of trying. He’d call up the hotel when he’d learn that Benson was in town. “I haven’t known that guy for a long time,” was the comment he’d hear right before the line went dead.

I asked if Benny still played music. “No. I went into the army. Did 20 years. When I came out, I worked for the post office and then the VA. That’s where I met her,” he said, jabbing his thumb toward a woman I assumed was his wife. “We met at the VA in California. I’m retired now.”

“So what do you do with yourself to keep busy?”

“Nothin’. I just stay home and collect my checks.”

“Certainly you must do something,” I suggested.

“Not really.”

Then the show started, and Benny spent the next 90 minutes trying to get his old friend’s attention. Never once did George Benson acknowledge him – not even when, during the finalé, he invited the audience to come forward and they obliged, turning the area between the first row and the stage into an impromptu dancefloor. My husband went right up to the stage, Benny right behind him. I stayed safely in my (now roomy) seat. George Benson reached out to shake the hands of his fans. He shook my husband’s hand – and everyone else’s in his immediate vicinity – except for poor Benny’s. Snubbed, it seemed. “Maybe he just didn’t recognize him after all those years,” said my husband, ever the optimist and trying to think well of the über-talented performer we had just watched, mesmerized.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I mean, he got everyone else. Maybe it was an oversight, but it looked intentional from where I was sitting.”

Here’s the thing. As I watched George Benson finish his energetic performance of “On Broadway,” backed by a truly gifted band, something occurred to me: It didn’t matter that Benny had known George Benson all those years ago. And it didn’t matter that George Benson had snubbed him – if that is, in fact, what had happened. All that mattered was that moment, when Benson was living his passion, up on that stage, using his considerable talents to entertain his equally exuberant audience. He was doing it – right now. Same as he had been for many, many years. Benny, as nice a guy as he might be, had spent those same years attempting to get his validation through someone else’s fame, instead of going out and creating something special of his own.

I posted this image on my Facebook page the morning of the concert:

Those who died this morning

Then I posted this one yesterday.

space between

A friend of mine once expressed the wish that he had studied architecture instead of economics in college. “Go back,” I told him. “Study it now.”

“It’s too late,” he moaned. “Architecture is a 6-year degree. What if I try it and I find out I hate it?” He was probably 33 or 34 at the time.

“You might hate it – but you might try it and find out you love it. And those six years are going to pass, whether you take that risk or stay stuck in the job you hate.” My friend was like Benny. It’s now 10 years since that conversation, and he never went back to school.

Rather than sitting around and stewing about the unfairness of life, envying those who’ve written their books, or criticizing from the safety of the sidelines, take THIS moment to jump into life with both feet. Make an outline. Use your phone to record your stories while you’re driving or folding laundry. Ask your neighbor’s kid to help you build a website. Just do it. Stop making excuses about why everyone else – especially that guy or girl you knew when – is succeeding and you’re just watching life pass you by.

Do it now.

Seagull walking on the beach on a sunny day

Laura

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One week down, 51 to go

2016 goals

We’re one week into the New Year. How much progress have you made on your book?

“What? It’s only a week. Why are you expecting me to be making progress already?”

Well – think about it. If we break our year down into 52-week units, we’ve already blown through the first one. So, yeah. You’ve got 51 more in which to achieve those goals … but if you haven’t started yet, when are you going to? In just seven more days, you’ll be two weeks into the New Year, meaning you’ll be at 2/52 … or 1/26.

“Oh my god – now she’s doing MATH!”

Yes – but the math’s not the point. The point is that all those hours we think we have at our disposal vanish one day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time, until we look up and it’s the Fourth of July and we’re wondering what the hell we did with the first half of the year. Or we look up and it’s 2016 and we wonder why we still haven’t finished that novel we started writing in 2004.

The best way I know to create momentum and keep it going is a little process called goal-setting. I’ve written on it before, so I’m not going to hammer it too hard again here. But if you really want to write, publish, launch, or sell books, you HAVE to:

  • Know your BIG goal.
  • Attach a deadline to it.
  • Break the big goal into sub-goals, with deadlines of their own.
  • Write them down!
  • Have a plan to achieve the sub-goals.
  • Take action daily to achieve your goals.
  • Get an accountability partner to help you stay the course.
  • Check in with him/her regularly – and be honest about your progress.
  • Have a plan for correction if you find you’re not achieving your sub-goals.
  • Celebrate your milestones.
  • When things go sideways – as they are once in a while wont to do – get up, shake yourself off, and get back on track.

You can make excuses if you want to – sometimes they make us feel much better about why we’re not getting things done. Not enough time, not enough money, not sure what the next step is, family/work obligations, unreliable help – I’ve heard them and used them all. But excuses don’t help us move forward. In fact, they do the exact opposite: they keep us safe and comfortable and stuck right where we are.

If you really want to move forward, work when you don’t feel like it. Write when it’s inconvenient. Answer the email you’d typically put off until tomorrow. Make that phone call you’ve been resisting. Brew coffee at home for a month so you can take the class or hire the expert you need to take you to the next step.

We’re one week into 2016. What are you going to do to make this your best book year yet?

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

What are 3 biggest new author mistakes?

Learn the steps that will set you apart from 95% of all new authors.

(Hint: It’s NOT too late, even if you’ve already placed your first printing order for books!)

CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR FREE REPORT NOW!

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