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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.

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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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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.

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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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On baby blankets and book marketing plans

When you publish your book, you welcome it like the treasure it is. You cradle the new baby, maybe send out announcements about its arrival. You may plan a party to officially launch your marketing campaign.

But what comes next? Do you know? Do you have a plan?

Starting a marketing campaign without a plan is like trying to monogram a baby blanket before you know the child’s baby blanketname. It doesn’t make sense because it defies logical order.

Never fear if you don’t yet have a plan – many new authors find themselves in this position. But, if you intend to sell books to anyone besides your mom and your best friend, you’re going to need to make a plan – PRONTO!

The challenge is that there’s no one-size-fits-all book marketing plan – and anyone who tells you there is, is more than likely trying to con you … into buying their program, hiring them to help you out, listing with their service, etc. The reason is that pretty much every book is different – so in order to sell yours, you need to know who your readers are and how to get in touch with them.

BUT … there’s one other thing you need to know: YOUR END GOAL. What do you want to achieve with your book? The answer to this question will determine where you start and how you pursue those readers, now that you know who they are. You really can’t develop a book marketing plan until you know why you’re marketing your book.

QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ANSWER

  • What’s your genre – beyond just fiction/nonfiction?
  • Who is your primary audience? Be as specific as you can.
  • What do you want your book to do for your readers? Entertain them, inform them, challenge them?
  • What do you want your readers to do after they’ve finished reading your book? The answer to this could run the gamut…
    • Write you a review on Goodreads.
    • Visit your website to sign up for your coaching program.
    • Buy your next book.
    • Book you to speak at their company’s annual meeting.
    • Recommend your book to their Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
    • Call you to schedule a personal consultation.
    • Choose your book for their book club and invite you to attend via Skype.
  • Where/how will you connect with your audience?

book marketing plan

Once you know what you want your book to do for you – as much as you know what you want it to do for your readers – you can begin crafting your marketing plan. But not a second before that. Why? Well, if your ultimate goal is to create a membership site that brings your readers together in a supportive community, it probably isn’t in your best interest to spend a whole lot of time, energy, and money booking in-person signings. But wait – couldn’t live events help me meet that goal? Sure – but on a much smaller scale than focusing on an effective website that converts visitors into subscribers.

What do you want your book to do for your readers – and what action do you want your readers to take once they are finished reading it?

The answers to these questions will lead you to the natural next step in building your book marketing plan.

Here’s to the research that will lead you to the perfect plan!

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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Planning a short-term launch or a long-term book marketing campaign?

There’s definitely something to be said for celebrating the publication of your book – especially your FIRST book – with a big gala launch party to-do celebration. If … you have the time, budget, energy, skills, and/or team to put it together. And celebrate you should! A book is still a big deal. You took the time to write it, design it, create an attractive cover. You paid to have it edited, typeset, proofread, and perhaps printed. You want to share your success with your friends, family, clients, neighbors – pretty much everyone you know.

To do a launch up right takes an investment of time and, depending on your goals, probably some money. The amount can be large or small, depending on whether you charter a yacht, as one of my prospective clients was thinking about doing, or hold it at a local coffeehouse where the shop owner agrees to give everyone who buys a book a free cuppa joe, as another pair of clients did.

evergreen sapling and tree

The thing about putting an enormous amount of effort into planning a launch is that it’s usually short-term thinking. For a book with an evergreen subject matter or theme, a single launch event should be the first item on the list of a long-term marketing campaign. To be clear, your brand new book about the latest wedding fashion trends is not timeless – so this idea may not apply. A job search book you wrote 10 years ago needs updating to include LinkedIn and online apps to become relevant – and it likely will need updating again in the next couple years, so it’s not evergreen, either. A YA coming-of-age novel? More timeless, unless it’s weighted down by too many references to modern details like Snapchat and Dylan O’Brien.

The point is, if your book will remain relevant past its first six months in print (or you can routinely update it to keep it relevant), you want to plan a long-term marketing campaign that includes building a decent social media following; securing reviews; participating in local, regional, and national book events; blogging; writing news releases; and keeping in regular touch with your most loyal readers.

Remember, dear author, that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing a book. It’s up to you to know who your reader is, where he/she spends time on and offline, and how you can begin to interact with him/her. Word of mouth is important, so who are the most influential of your ideal readers? Focus on them, engage them, and tempt them to get the buzz rolling. This is a delicate balance that first recognizes the social aspect of engagement; secondly acknowledges that this person is likely busy; and thirdly offers something of value (e.g., copies of your book, access to your mailing list, the possibility of partnership) in exchange for their assistance, as opposed to coming at them with your hand out.

Other ideas include creating an inner circle for superfans and building a membership site that offers more tools, grander insights, or deeper access to you and your creative well.

The most important aspect of a long-term campaign is the plan.

  • What are the tasks?
  • Who will perform them?
  • When will they perform them?
  • Who will manage quality control to be sure all the tasks are completed on time?
  • What is your plan for amending the plan when it’s not working for any reason?
  • Who will hold you accountable if you fall into analysis paralysis or procrastination?

GS - pencil ruler book

Clever launches occasionally catapult authors to bigger successes. More often, they’re just short-lived photo ops. Long-term plans with consistent application is where the true success thrives. Hold the launch. Celebrate your book’s first bloom. Then, nurture it and cultivate it so it can keep on growing and thriving.

Here’s to planning for the short AND long term!

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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Lessons every author can take from Prince’s accomplishments

Damn, does it seem like Planet Earth is losing a lot of vastly talented artists lately! The most recent, of  princecourse, came with the shocking news that music legend Prince died today at his home in Minneapolis. One of the best comments I heard in the immediate aftermath of the announcement came from CNN’s Don Lemon, who said – and I’m paraphrasing here, “As sad as his loss is for everyone, I want to take this time to celebrate his immense accomplishments and all he gave to the world through his art.”

To that end, I’d like to celebrate Prince by reminding us all of the lessons we, as authors, can take from his accomplishments.

1. Prince was a champion of indie, through and through. “He was also fiercely protective of his independence, battling his record company over control of his material and even his name. Prince once wrote ‘slave’ on his face in protest of not owning his work and famously battled and then departed his label, Warner Bros., before returning a few years ago.”(1) I learned today that Prince accomplished what few musical artists do by finally taking ownership of his entire music catalogue.

2. He did it himself. “Prince recorded the great majority of his music entirely on his own, playing every instrument and singing every vocal line.”(2) This only works, of course, if you have the skills to do it all yourself. If you need help, definitely hire the right people!

3. Prince was “a wildly prolific songwriter”(2) – releasing four albums just in the last 18 months, alone.Prince symbol

4. He branded himself well. He often incorporated the color purple; for a while changed his name to a symbol; and used the letter U in place of “you” and an eye icon in place of “I” long before texting came into vogue.(2)

5. Prince was deliberately controversial. “He embraced controversy, presenting himself as an androgynous sex fiend in his album art and lyrics, and challenged conservative music ideals in his first decade on albums like 1999, Purple Rain and Sign O’ the Times.”(3)

6. He gave people value for their money. “He distributed albums to concertgoers along with their tickets when that was a novel concept, and he planned other tours at the spur of the moment, dubbing them ‘hit and run’ shows.”(3)

7. He supported other artists. “During the particularly productive time surrounding 1999, Prince also began writing and producing songs under the pseudonym Jamie Starr for two other groups, the local group the Time and a trio of women he assembled, Vanity 6.”(3)

8. He knew how important it was to be himself. “‘The most important thing is to be true to yourself, but I also like danger,’ Prince told [Los Angeles Times critic, Robert] Hilburn… . ‘That’s what is missing from pop music today. There’s no excitement and mystery – people sneaking out and going to these forbidden concerts by Elvis Presley or Jimi Hendrix.’”(4)

9. He used his own life as source material for his music and acting. “Prince’s music was steeped in the contradictions of his background – a black artist who toyed with his racial background in the casting of Purple Rain, sexually flamboyant and gender playful, with a Midwestern self-reliance that created space for his idiosyncrasies.”(4)

Life can be short. Don’t miss the opportunity to write your books, connect with your readers, support other authors, and share your personal story or message with the world!

Here’s to you, Prince Rogers Nelson!

Laura

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SOURCES:
  1. http://abc13.com/news/publicist-pop-superstar-prince-dies-at-his-minnesota-home/1302598/
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/22/arts/music/prince-dead.html?_r=0
  3. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/prince-dead-at-57-20160421#ixzz46VJhB7Sn
  4. http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-prince-20160421-story.html

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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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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