A New Resolution: Don’t Worry About What Doesn’t Get Done!

A New Resolution: Don’t Worry About What Doesn’t Get Done!

by Patricia Grady Cox

I suppose it’s obligatory to write something inspirational for the New Year. After all, it is January. We want to set our goals, put our noses to the grindstone, buckle down, achieve our goals, never give up! We make our resolutions, and then we watch them fade away. It’s just too much pressure.aspirational goals

Suppose you say you are going to clean out the garage, landscape the yard, send out resumes for a new job, read 52 books this year. By making a resolution, you have set a goal. Anything less than that is total failure. Or is it?

My new Life Motto is: Better Than Nothing.

Here is how it works:

Suppose you say you must write 500 words a day in order to reach your “write a book in a year” goal. But you only write 300. Or 250. Or 200. Isn’t that Better Than Nothing? Of course it is! You accomplished something, which is so much better than accomplishing nothing! You moved forward. What usually happens, though? You missed your goal for the day. You failed, you’re done for, you’ll never get that book done, and the next day you don’t want to write even one sentence! All these negative emotions!

If only you could realize that whatever you accomplished—400 words, 300 words, 200 how goals sometimes turn outwords, one sentence—you did something. Your 200 words are Better Than Nothing. And then you can go into the next day with a good outlook. Sure, you should aim for your 500 words. But if you don’t make it, whatever you did is Better Than Nothing. I apply this to everything. I did say it’s my new Life Motto!

If I only walk the dog for 15 minutes instead of a half hour…

If I only clean two rooms instead of the whole house, it’s…

If I only go through one file folder instead of the whole cabinet, it’s better…

If I only send out 5 queries instead of 25, it’s better than…

IT’S BETTER THAN NOTHING!

And all the little pieces that you’ve managed to accomplish each day will add up, but without stress and anxiety and frustration! It will just add up peacefully and happily as you float through each day knowing you accomplished something! Just anything! It will be (trumpets, please): BETTER THAN NOTHING!

I hope you have a happy New Year of peace and enjoyment and plenty of time for fun. Or maybe just a little bit of peace, a few moments of enjoyment, and some fun!

I don’t have to say it again, do I?

typing in a pool

______________________
Patricia Grady Cox
is a member of Western Writers of America and Women Writing Trish Coxthe West. Her nonfiction work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and ghost-written memoirs. Patricia has volunteered at the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum where she experienced, first-hand, the realities of life in the 1800s. Her love of the Southwest – the landscape, the history, the culture – infuses her work with authenticity. Originally from Rhode Island, she moved to Arizona 24 years ago and currently lives in Phoenix. Her novel, Chasm Creek, is available on Amazon or through her website. Patricia blogs weekly at Patricia Grady Cox, WriterHer second novel, HELLGATE, is now on sale.

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The Effective Author: Best Mindset for the New Year

The Effective Author: Best Mindset for the New Year

by Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM ©2019 World Rights Reserved

2019 Mindset 800x800

Right now, a shiny New Year stretches before us. Like a blanket of white snow covering the landscape, undefined time scrolls across our mindscapes. We may be wondering what the New Year will bring. The answer largely depends on us. We can control and design our mindscapes, with our mindsets.

As authors, certain event markers play across our 2019 Mindscapes. Some of these are: Tucson Festival of Books, March 2-3; LA Festival of Books, April 21-22; and BookExpo America, May 29-31. New books need to be in print by fall to make the Christmas sales season. Quarterly blog challenges (e.g., The Ultimate Blog Challenge) await our clever articles to drive traffic to websites. Like fences peeking upward out of the snowscape – or mindscape – they delineate timespace and beckon us to structure our desires for the New Year. We get to decide which events we want to participate in. In fact, we must decide. How much time, energy, and funding will we need for each event, and the follow-up after? Our determination to commit to each, and how much to commit to each, is our mindset.

For years, productivity coaches urged us to choose BHAGs: Big Hairy Audacious Goals. But goals too audacious fall flat and discourage us. If huge goals excite you, perhaps you would enjoy sketching out some huge reaches that might be good for you this year. Then sleep on them, and determine what would be necessary to bring them to fruition. Then choose. For many authors, strong but reasonable goals (e.g., one superb new book in the series, printed by September 1) are a better fit both for personality and lifestyle. Remember, it isn’t just the book/s to prepare. It’s the social media, the news releases, updating your website to take the orders, requesting reviews, writing promotional articles, and scheduling readings and classes.

Another dimension to consider, as you gaze across your Author Mindscape 2019, is your passion. Is there some direction calling you? Is there a series-shaped hole in your creative heart yearning to be filled? Do you get excited when you think of certain projects? I have a friend who has been very successful with a hard-hitting detective series. After a dozen books, she was fatigued of the regional context and serious nature of the books. Now she has a second detective series with strong romantic and whimsical elements. And she hints yet another is series coming.

You are not locked in any single law of the Universe, to one genre, one set of characters, or one format. Perhaps you want to try novellas or short stories or children’s books, using the same values and themes as your full-size/adult books. Or you can write under a different name and go a different direction. You can also play around with some format or idea or genre, not necessarily planning to publish it, but simply seeing where that side path leads, while you continue along your usual primary path.

Looking out across the fresh, smooth expanse of the New Year, your options are clearly endless. The Effective Authorsm will mark that expanse with event dates, make project commitments, and allow the necessary time and resources to those commitments. The Effective Authorsm will choose and maintain that mindset to create the most success during the year. I wish you a very Happy New Year and Happy New Success!

____________________________
Kebba Buckley Button
is a stress management expert with a natural healing practice. SheKebba books 2017 also is an ordained minister whose passion is helping people find their Peace Within. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You, available on Amazon, plus Inspirations for Peace Within: Quotes and Images to Uplift and InspireIPW is available on Amazon in full-color glossy format. Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, also on Amazon in full-color. For full-color PDF versions, contact her office. For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: calendar@kebba.com.

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Ants

Ants

by Rita Goldner

Many of my author colleagues have eschewed New Year’s Resolutions, which are often Ant reading.jpgworded negatively. “I’ll give up bad eating habits,” “I’ll quit procrastinating,” “I won’t complain so much,” “I’ll organize my messy office,” and so on. They feel (and I agree) that the ritual January 1 self-bashing leads nowhere. So since I have the New Year’s Day blog assignment, I’ll try a different approach this year. I offer a rallying cry, a model to follow, an interesting animal (my bailiwick) to inspire us. Look no further for your spirit animal than the lowly ant.

I should use the plural ants, because as individuals, they can’t accomplish much, but in a colony, they are a superorganism, a powerful force to be reckoned with. There are more than 12,000 different species of ants, and all of them form colonies. Ants have no ears. Some have no eyes, and the ones that do have eyes have poor eyesight. They don’t need these senses because they have such a developed sense of smell. They communicate by pheromones, secreted as they walk. Each ant follows the scent of the one in front of her. You’ve likely seen this in a long Congo line across the sidewalk, following the melted Popsicle some kid dropped.

Ant colonies really have perfected the concept of the hive mind. As a group, they can hunt and kill insects much larger than themselves, and even sometimes small birds, mammals, or reptiles. The group can handle decisions that one individual couldn’t, like where to relocate if the nest is ruined. This sophisticated communication mode, through pheromones, is not just for finding food, but for recognizing nest mates and identifying enemies, forming an army when attacked, and dividing up the jobs to keep the hive thriving. They can even switch jobs when needed. When pheromones tell them not enough food-gatherers are returning to the mound, (someone might have stepped on them), the soldiers guarding the entrance become food-gatherers.

Speaking of jobs, there are three kinds of adult ants in the hive. The queen, who does all the reproducing, the few males, called drones, whose only job is to mate with the queen and then die, and the female workers, who do everything else. Any ant you see outside the anthill is probably a female. When a hive becomes very big and successful, the queen hatches a few winged baby queens who take off, with some drones, to start new colonies.

Hopefully, if you’re gaining any inspiration or strategy from all this, it’s because you identify with the worker. The queen and the drones are basically one-trick ponies, and pretty boring. The workers, as a group, make all the decisions. The queen, in spite of her lofty title, does not boss them around. She’s imprisoned in the bowels of the mound, spewing out thousands of eggs. The industrious and tireless workers are the real champions, taking care of everyone else, and ensuring the future and success of the community. March on!

Your comments are welcome.

Rita

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Rita Goldner
is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book, Orangutan: A Rita Goldner2Day in the Rainforest Canopy. Rita has also written and illustrated two eBooks, Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, in the Jackson’s Adventure series.For orangutan facts and images and to purchase the book (also available as an ebook), visit OrangutanDay.com. Or by the Kindle version here. Rita’s newest book, Making Marks on the World: A Storybook for Left- and Right-Handed Coloring, is available for purchase here. Works in progress: H2O Rides the Water CycleThe Flying Artist, and Rose ColoredTo view additional illustrations and Rita’s books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook. Subscribe to Rita’s newsletter, Orangutans and More! and receive a free coloring page of today’s illustration.

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Can a 600+ Unit Bookstore Chain Evolve and Prosper in Today’s Market?

Can a 600+ Unit Bookstore Chain Evolve and Prosper in Today’s Market?

by Marcus A. Nannini

B&N new concept stores

Barnes & Noble recently announced it is opening a “new concept” bookstore in the form of a 21,000 sq. ft. space in the Twin Cities. The national chain recently opened a slightly smaller “new concept” store in Vernon Hills, Ill. Currently, some of their existing stores reach up to 60,000 square feet, so anything in the range of 20,000 square feet would appear to be a reasonably manageable size.

I haven’t been to one of the “new concept” stores, but I do hope they work. In many ways, the revised concept strikes me as more of a fine tuning of the chain’s existing stores, as each store will feature a Starbucks, extended dining tables, cubbies for holing up with a book and a cup of coffee; something called a “360 book theatre” where the customer can explore books in a 360 degree theatre setting. I’m not sure what the “360” book theatre concept is about, but it sounds interesting – so long as it isn’t hokey. Other changes are also in the works.

Apparently someone at B&N has been studying what makes the best independent bookstores into “winners.” They also appear to be focusing on the social experience of visiting a bookstore. That seems a reasonable approach, because spending time in a bookstore is different than going grocery shopping or looking for a specific pair of shoes. I believe the bookstore experience is more about exploring the possibilities in a non-frenzied setting.

My favorite bookstore was the Borders in Kona, Hawaii. It featured an outdoor seating area overlooking the Pacific Ocean, had a friendly café, and offered hard-to-find, internationally flavored music CDs for sale, along with a good assortment of books and numerous discount tables. There were nooks and crannies for small study groups, tables, comfy chairs, and non-rap music softly playing in the background. The only problem was the parking. Unfortunately, Borders took on too much debt and died. The loss, for me, was painful. I have no desire to watch another bookstore chain go down the tubes. Losing Kona was bad, and losing the great B&N at the Kierland Commons shopping center in north Phoenix was tragic. It was replaced by a high-end furniture store!

So what is a huge chain of bookstores to do? Perhaps they should take a look at the UK based chain, Waterstones, with nearly 300 shops across the UK and the EU. What makes them a winner?

waterstones

Personally, I would say the key to Waterstones’ success is their corporate objective to fashion each branch into a truly local store. Store managers are empowered with a great deal of autonomy and they strive to hire book lovers. They apparently are aware their customers enjoy encountering salespeople who know at least as much about the store’s products, if not more, than they do; much like car shopping, but with less money at stake on a per-sale basis. Each manager is also tasked with bringing a local flavor to each branch, and from what I can see, it works.

The Waterstones stores seek to involve the community and do more than host book signings: they host events which are designed not simply as traffic generators, but are intended to create a “buzz” people will remember. Their events may not always generate bumps in sales, but they always generate repeat customers, even if the return visitors patronize only the café. Stopping in the café and purchasing a coffee, food, or accessories while absorbing the bookstore atmosphere should create good, habit-forming tendencies. It almost always boils down to generating foot traffic, and Waterstones appears to be succeeding in doing so.

Small groups of bookstores scattered across our country have managed to grow from a single location to several, generally within a reasonable drive of each other. I don’t know how many are as large as 20,000 square feet, however. From my impressions, the usual size limit for an independent bookstore is about 7,500 square feet.

book lovers - white bkg

Does too much floor space translate into a losing proposition? Just how many new books can a store handle and still maintain a reasonable turnover per item? A book must be able to justify its shelf space, and that is accomplished only through sales per square foot. Perhaps B&N should look at a limited program of offering used books as a way to fill a small quantity of excess space.

I would suspect a modest offering of used bestsellers might work. B&N could make available on its website a list of specific titles/authors they would accept in a modest trade. Keeping acquisition cost low and turnover high would be the goal. If B&N offered a small compensation against (any) purchases, in exchange for a used book appearing on the aforementioned list, it might well make a small used book department worthwhile. Of course, the used books would need to be in excellent condition, and individual stores might not always be able to accept trades, in the event their used book section was full. Individual store managers could be given the discretion to accept a book for trade not on the corporate list. Rules are made for exceptions. I am mindful that used car sales carry a much higher profit margin than do sales of new cars. The same should prove true with used books.

Stationary, games, music, book accessories, and café items would remain, but a carefully culled used book section could more than pay for itself. And perhaps tables that curve in the shape of a “U” could encourage small gatherings of book discussion groups. The physical plant needs to address what bookstore lovers are looking for. I am confidant Leonard Ruggio, B&N Executive Chairman, has the ability to research this. Again, generating repeat foot traffic is, or should be, the top goal.

As I mentioned, I have not yet been inside one of the newly renovated Barnes & Noble stores. I understand they seek to have a smaller footprint than in the past, but two of the new stores about which I have read exceed 17,000 and 21,000 square feet each. That’s still a significant footprint that must translate into sales-per-square foot. So what to do? Mr. Ruggio, clearly a lover of books and bookstores, is working on it.

I trust he will figure this out, because the loss of B&N would be fairly devastating to the retail book industry and allow Amazon to move dangerously closer to becoming a book-lover’s-choking monopoly. Ugh!

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Marcus Nannini
began his journalistic career when he published his own newspaper in the Marcus Nanninisixth grade, charging 25 cents for the privilege of reading the only printed copy of each edition. During his undergraduate years, Nannini was a paid reporter and worked three semesters as the research assistant for journalism professor and published author Richard Stocks Carlson, Ph.D. Nannini is a life-long history buff with a particular interest in World War II and the Pearl Harbor attack. His continuing curiosity over several Japanese aerial photographs and the turtling of the U.S.S. Oklahoma lead him to write Chameleons, first as a screenplay and now as a full-length novel.

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Year-End Wishes

Year-End Wishes

by Patricia Grady Cox

The end of the year is approaching, and the beginning of the next. I’m not big on resolutions, but last year I did resolve to keep better track of my writing business. And so I created spreadsheets for my expenses and income, as well as notes on the various activities and whether or not they were worth the time/expense. I can use all of this to plan for next year. If you haven’t done that before, I recommend it.

spreadsheet

And that is the end of my blog on marketing / promotion / sales / writing for 2018! At this transitional time of year, I offer instead some thoughts that may help you to persevere with your goals in 2019.

A friend recently said that optimism is renewing a magazine subscription for a year. Those of us over 60 can appreciate that sentiment, but it is a little too pessimistic for me! Instead, I’ll leave you with these words from Ulysses.

Lord Tennyson

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Merry christmas new year gold label pattern deer

Happy Holidays, and I wish you a wonderful New Year.

Never yield!

Some work of noble note may yet be done!

________________________
Patricia Grady Cox
is a member of Western Writers of America and Women Writing Trish Coxthe West. Her nonfiction work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and ghost-written memoirs. Patricia has volunteered at the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum where she experienced, first-hand, the realities of life in the 1800s. Her love of the Southwest – the landscape, the history, the culture – infuses her work with authenticity. Originally from Rhode Island, she moved to Arizona 24 years ago and currently lives in Phoenix. Her novel, Chasm Creek, is available on Amazon or through her website. Patricia blogs weekly at Patricia Grady Cox, WriterHer second novel, HELLGATE, is now on sale.

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On Being a Reluctant YouTuber

On Being a Reluctant YouTuber

by Vaughn Treude

SteampunkDesperado - Reluctant YouTuber

These days it seems like everybody and their little brother wants to become a YouTube personality. Too bad Andy Warhol didn’t live to see his 1968 prophecy come true: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Perhaps it’s no coincidence that 15 minutes is YouTube’s max length for “non-verified” accounts. In any case, I have no doubt Warhol would have had his own channel.

I never cared for the scripted fakery of reality TV, which began as a sneaky way to get around the Hollywood writer’s strike of 2007-08. Nowadays the Internet gives us something much more genuine. I subscribe to dozens of YouTube channels that cover many different topics, from science to politics to entertainment. Some of the content is surprisingly polished and professional looking. That’s a testament to the democratizing power of computers.

In many cases, the channels themselves have become newsworthy. Richard Meyer’s “Diversity & Comics” channel sparked a vociferous reaction from pro artists and writers who weren’t accustomed to seeing their work being ridiculed. It also did something much more important: it gave Meyer the notoriety he needed to crowd-fund his own comic series. If he can leverage his videos to achieve his goals, so can I, though I have no illusions about the path being an easy one.

The ironic thing is that I have no desire for that kind of fame. I’m OK with public speaking, but I’ve never exactly enjoyed it. For me, it’s always been a means to an end, a way to promote my projects. All I really want is to write my novels and make a living doing it. If that means putting myself in the spotlight, it’s worth the discomfort.

Since my Steampunk Desperado blog centers around book reviews, I began by scouting out a few of the many book-related channels on YouTube. This informal collective calls itself “BookTube” and is dominated by young women. Most of the books they’re reviewing are recent releases in the young adult, romance, and urban fantasy genres. Men also do reviews, mostly focusing on movies, video games, and comics. Therefore, I reasoned that my Steampunk Desperado channel would occupy a unique niche.

Judging by the number of channels out there, you might be tempted to think breaking into the video game is easy. It’s not – at least not if you want to do a good job. Anyone who’s ever spoken to an audience knows it can be challenging to keep your focus and speak extemporaneously. Why not just read from a script? Because unless you’re a great actor, doing so makes for a lifeless delivery. I always thought I was good at public speaking, but in reviewing my early recordings, I realized I said “um” about 500 times over the course of 15 minutes. After several more takes, I got my “um” count to less than 10 in a 10-minute segment. Even so, I rambled at times, which is where video editing comes in handy. It’s a cheap trick, but I’ve found that inserting relevant still images is a good way to mask the places where I’ve made cuts.

Though I’ve never thought of myself as charismatic, I try hard to be animated and maintain a high level of enthusiasm for my video talks. The fact that I love the subject matter makes it a bit easier. However, I also realized that I needed to have guests so that the audience wouldn’t get bored with me. My wife Arlys, a fellow steampunk enthusiast, was an obvious choice. We did the second video as a team effort and for a change, I enjoyed doing it. Arlys has a unique outlook and a quirky sense of humor that makes for a great interplay between the two of us. Though it’s more convenient to do solo videos, I think they’re much better when she’s involved, and we plan to do many more in this fashion.

As frustrating as it was at times, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to produce and edit these video. So far we’ve published two and created three more, so expect to see new content soon. You can watch out my introductory video, “What is Steampunk?” Check it out, and please like and subscribe!

_________________
vaughntreude

Vaughn Treude grew up on a farm in North Dakota. The remoteness of his home, with few children nearby, made science fiction a welcome escape. After many years in software, he realized that the discipline of engineering could be applied to writing fiction. Check out his works at VaughnTreude.com and visit his exciting new website, SteampunkDesperado.com.

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The Effective Author: Got Goals?

The Effective Author: Got Goals?

© 2018 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.

dreams with deadlines

This time of year, there’s a lot of conversation about goals, what one’s goals should be, and whether we have set them for the next year. Many people set goals and call them “New Year’s Resolutions.” Have you ever noticed that most of these resolutions are forgotten within weeks, or even days, of New Year’s Day?

Studies say the goals that last have 3 components: they are believable, written, and backed up by specific planned action. Since most people make resolutions to lose weight, let’s look at the believability of that. If you want to lose 40 pounds ASAP, don’t make a resolution to lose 40 pounds within a week. Your backbrain cannot believe it! And you will certainly never get there. However, if you set the goal of losing, say, 5 pound within two weeks, your backbrain could probably believe that. And once you lose 5 pounds, you can always set a goal to lose another 5 pounds within 2 or 3 weeks. Once you do that, your backbrain will believe you could really lose 10 pounds, so you can keep going in increments. So in steps, you’ll lose the 40 pounds. Yay!

So what is the point of writing out your goals? When you write down your goal, together with your reason for achieving that goal (aka your Why), you are telling the Universe this is your intention. What you write down goes directly into your brain and is kept forefront more easily than intentions you only sort-of discuss with yourself. If you journal out what you want to achieve, why, how important it is, and what the positive effects will be, the Universe will line up with you and propel you to achieve that goal.

For increased success, as you journal out what you want to achieve, list the ways you will support yourself to reach your goal. What steps will you take? On what believable schedule will you take these steps? By when will you reach your goal? It has been said, “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” Will you journal out your dreams as goals and steps? Perhaps mark the steps on your master calendar? Now you are bringing your goals/resolutions/dreams to life. And you’re an even more Effective Authorsm!

_____________________________
Kebba Buckley Button
is a stress management expert with a natural healing practice. She Kebba books 2017also is an ordained minister whose passion is helping people find their Peace Within. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You, and also Inspirations for Peace Within: Quotes and Images to Uplift and InspireIPW is available on Amazon in full-color glossy format. Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, also in full-color. For full-color PDF versions, contact her office. For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: calendar@kebba.com.

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