Blue Footed Booby

Blue Footed Booby

by Rita Goldner

The delightful subject of this month’s blog is fun and whimsical, and may even appearblue footed booby goofy-looking at times. Of course these attributes launch the blue footed booby to the top of my favorite birds list. About 50 percent of the population lives in the Galapagos Islands; the rest are scattered along the western coast of North/South America. Their name comes from the Spanish word bobo, which means foolish or stupid. It has nothing to do with mammalian anatomy. They earned this name because they have a comically awkward waddle on land.

The boobies’ gait belies their real prowess: flying, swimming, and diving. They soar high over the ocean, searching for the shimmer of a fish, then plummet down from as far as 80 feet in the air. Like a missile, they hit the water at 60 miles per hour, and continue the dive deep down to get the prey. They’ve adapted to this amazing ability by developing special air sacs in their skulls to protect their brains from the immense and sudden change in pressure.

Another skill blue footed boobies have mastered is collaborative parenting. Some mating pairs change partners every season, but the majority stay together over the long haul, and scientists have determined that these established couples have far greater success in raising fledglings. They also share the brooding and feeding chores 50-50. This trait helps the survival of the smaller chicks, since there’s a lot of bullying and sibling rivalry, usually about food availability. Having both parents hunt reduces the likelihood of the bigger chicks ejecting the little ones.

Research teams have studied blue footed booby behavior for decades because they are easy to observe, letting people walk close among them without flying away. Another interesting mating fact scientists discovered is that pairs comprising one older and one younger bird (regardless of which sex is older) are more successful in parenting than same-aged twosomes.

Speaking of mating, that’s the reason for their most famous feature, the fancy footwear. The blue feet are enhanced by diet, the well-nourished individuals having the brightest feet. In most bird species, the male has the best colors – but blue footed booby males and females both sport beautiful feet, ranging from blue to turquoise. Both sexes are quite picky about choosing a mate, and having dull feet is a deal-breaker. Selecting healthy mates ensures the survival of the species. Scientists experimented with painting some single females’ feet dull brown, and they couldn’t get mates. The research also included dull painting on the feet of some males who were already mated and had offspring. When their wives noticed, the next egg was noticeably smaller. Sounds like a mean experiment, in my opinion.

The courtship dance on both sides involves a dramatic lifting of feet, showing them to the prospective mate. You can see it here:

My blog fans have come to expect me to extrapolate some words of wisdom from my featured animal; a little “bon mot” life lesson to help you put your best foot forward.  Today I’m inspired to say “When ya got it, flaunt it!”

Thanks –


Comments welcome.

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 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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Writing the Book Is the Easy Part

Writing the Book Is the Easy Part

by Marcus A. Nannini

The topic for the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup of January 19, 2019, was “Your Book as a Business.” I am picking up on that theme with today’s blog.


Tremendous emphasis is placed on the process of writing a book. Persons and websites dedicated to the topic are scattered across the globe. Specialized groups and paid services exist to assist with any portion of writing a book, from getting the first line written to editing and proofing the final manuscript. All serve a purpose, but in my opinion, before writing word one, the author had better have a Game Plan. I am referring to a long-term Game Plan for success, not simply a Game Plan for getting the book written.

Merriam-Webster defines game plan: (n) a strategy for achieving an objective.

The word “objective” is the key, and what follows is how I formulate my objective as a dollar amount.

Writing a book requires the expenditure of a great deal of time. For example, I have invested no fewer than 2,000 hours of my time in bringing my most recent book from initial interview to Publisher’s Final Proof. Soon I will have put another 2,000 hours into PR for the book. Yes, I have five people at the publisher dedicated to promoting my book worldwide, but it is my book and my time investment, so I will go to no end in my quest to leave no marketing opportunity overlooked. My efforts can only help sales.

Why would anyone spend so much time marketing, even with the support of a large publisher? It is part of my Game Plan, which is founded upon the money I deem my time to be worth on an hourly basis. At the start of the project, which was actually to write a magazine article, I had no idea how much time the project would consume, but I did have a monetary number I set as an hourly goal.

A professional needs to place a value on their time. Time cannot be replaced, so if I am going to expend my time in the production of a book, I’d better have a good idea of how I value the time I diverted toward the project (and away from other things) and convert it into a monetary reward.

Determine the dollar amount you believe your personal time is worth. Before doing so, bear in mind that this time you will invest has nothing to do with your job, present or past, and everything to do with the use of an irreplaceable commodity you will expend, to the exclusion of spending that time with the people important to you. With that in mind, keep the dollar amount reasonable. I value my time at $250 an hour.

Therefore, the 2,000 hours I invested, compensated at a rate of $250 an hour, will yield a result of $500,000.

$500,000 is the basic goal around which I built my Game Plan.

A goal without a Game Plan is nothing more than a meaningless number. One of the reasons I joined Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion in the first instance was to get some help devising my Game Plan. What I learned along the way took me from self-publishing, to an indie publisher, to a large publishing house – in less than two years.

I developed a Game Plan based on the combination of help from Laura Orsini, who facilitates Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion, and individual research. I am a researcher by trade so that part came more easily.

My Game Plan changed from what I needed to do to achieve publication in a magazine (achieved) to what I needed to do to produce a successful book (also achieved). The Game Plan evolved over time, but the financial goal remained unchanged.

As I wrote my newest book, my Game Plan was telling me:

  • “I need a good title.”
  • “I need a presentation to draw in a book buyer.”
  • “I need to keep the reader turning the pages.”
  • “I need a package a publisher will desire.”
  • “I need a final product reviewers will love and bookstores will purchase.”

I went back-and-forth with the title, though the subtitle never changed and made it all the way to the published book. I was excited with both primary titles, and those titles served as marketing guides for me. The title is part of the Game Plan for converting a book into money.

As I wrote the book I envisioned the publishing houses which might be most interested in it. I researched all of them and narrowed my book pitch to the three best publishers. I do not use a literary agent so I could not directly solicit the Big Five publishers. But I did the next best thing, focusing on my top three choices, and began to draft sample synopses as I went along. By drafting the synopses in that manner I was fine-tuning my book pitch. I created a backup list of approximately 15 other publishers, but I focused on publishers that were large enough to pay an advance and which had both strong staffing and a significant market presence. Eventually all three requested the manuscript.

To write the book without an eye toward the endgame is to waste time.

I also spent time researching contacts at genre magazines, as my Game Plan included seeking out reviews from the magazine media. By the time my first draft was concluded, I had accumulated contact information for about seven genre magazines, five of which eventually asked for review copies.

My idea of a Game Plan means I hit the ground running the day my final draft was completed and ready for presentation.

As I wrote each synopsis, relevant phrases would pop up for me to use in my efforts to “hook” the attention of an Acquisitions Editor in my book pitch. From day one, I knew I would need to make my book stand out if it was going to draw attention from a publisher. That is only one reason the title is important.

My Game Plan was multifaceted and addressed just about every aspect involved in creating a commercially successful book. I even modified Chapter Titles to address the broad range of potential buyers. Again, no stone unturned. I never lost sight of the fact that the book would need to be marketed and continuously worked on my book pitches. Some nights, I would wake up and run to the laptop so I could write a potential “hook.”

I am now a few weeks away from the North American release date and a couple months away from my newest book’s release in the UK, EU, Australia, and New Zealand. As the release approaches, I have accumulated more than 15 requests for advance reviewer copies (ARCs) and spread the word to bookstores in every country that the book will be made readily available. As for my personal marketing campaign, the details are too much for a blog, but I will say I use my marketing time with the intent of it returning $250 an hour, minimum.

My Game Plan has phases, and now that I am approaching the release dates, the plan moves into the post-publication phase. I believe an author can never sit back and wait. Nor do I believe in counting on the efforts of others, even when their income (book sales) depends upon the book’s success. Nobody has more invested in a book than the author. An author should never stop pushing.

My latest book is Left for Dead at Nijmegen, the True Story of an American Paratrooper in World War II. I had an initial webpage posted long before I completed the book and leftfordeadbelieve it is a good idea for anyone writing a book to do the same. There are also Google page ranking considerations in early website publishing, so long as you update the contents frequently.

You may wonder What the heck is “Nijmegen?” My other working title was Dinner with Himmler. The problem with the Himmler title was my inability to find another eyewitness to attest to Himmler’s presence at the time and place he appears in the book. I have plenty of supporting evidence, but no third-party eyewitness. See:

I ran the Nijmegen title past several groups of people, and the Left for Dead… won. The publisher liked it, so it became the title I am running with. I can also say that every bookstore in the Netherlands is aware of and likely to carry the book. The city of Nijmegen celebration committee is planning on bringing the book’s hero and his wife to Nijmegen this fall.

As an aside, the sale of publishing rights in Holland, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia were always a part of the Game Plan. I also never lost sight of the movie possibilities. See:

In summary, a Game Plan must be devised before an author writes the first word. The plan will evolve, of course, but it must remain top of mind at all times to achieve maximum results. Never set your sites low. On the other hand, don’t set totally unrealistic goals. Always, always keep your goals at the forefront of your efforts.


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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On the Way to the Nail Salon

On the Way to the Nail Salon

by Laura Orsini

I’ve never been much of a New Year’s Resolutioner. My preference is to select a word for the year – my 2019 word is completion – and focus on doing, being, living that word. However, after watching my husband excel last year on the fitness front (he ran/walked 850 miles in 2018), I decided to up my own fitness game and set a goal to walk an average of 2 miles a day this year. I’m already a bit behind, but I still have 342 days to make up my deficiency.

nail salon

With my goal in mind, I decided to walk to the nail salon the first week of the year. In my head, I calculated it to be maybe 2.5 miles from my house. In actuality, according to my pedometer app, it was closer to 3.5 miles. That’s easy enough to do when you’re strolling; it becomes more challenging when you’re trying to make a 1:15 p.m. appointment while carrying a bag with flip-flops and three bottles of your own non-formaldehyde nail polish. Marketing Awareness #1: Sometimes the destination is quite a bit farther than you realize when you set out.

Although I was listening to the ’80s Alternative channel on Pandora as I walked, I was still trying to keep my mind occupied, so I started paying closer attention to my sidewalk-ridingsurroundings. One of the first things I could not help but notice was the two bicyclists coming toward me on the sidewalk – leaving a perfectly good bike lane three feet to my left unused. Yep, it can be harrowing to ride a bicycle on the same street with cars, but drivers will never get acclimated to seeing cyclists there and driving next to them if cyclists always opt for the sidewalk. Marketing Awareness #2: Sometimes people are going the wrong way in your lane. Get out of the their way and let them go.

Over the last few months, I’ve been having some sporadic back pain. A long walk is a great way to trigger those lower back issues, even if you stretch beforehand, so I occasionally stopped along the way, set my bag down, and did a few more stretches, some of them probably quite strange to observe. I couldn’t care what I looked like – I just had to take care of my body so it would get me to my destination. Marketing Awareness #3: Don’t worry about what others think of your methods, as long as they work for you.

I was a little over a mile from my destination when I looked at the clock on my phone and realized that, even with my increased pace, I wasn’t going to make my appointment on time. So I called the nail salon and asked if they could still fit me in if I arrived 15 minutes late. They said sure, and I breathed a little easier. Marketing Awareness #4: Sometimes you need to reassess and, if necessary, reset your goals.

I was a little less than mile from the salon and I could finally see the light at the intersection where I was headed in the very far distance. I knew it was less than a mile, yet it still seemed so far away. I kept my eye on that light. Suddenly, another bicyclist came up on my left and buzzed past me, talking really loudly on his phone as he went. He startled me, and I nearly lost my footing. I was more than a little annoyed – but I regained my balance and kept going, my eye still on that distant traffic light. Marketing Awareness #5: You will face obstacles, challenges, and people who pass you on your way to your goal. Keep going.

I walked 20 more steps, 60 more steps, but the light still didn’t look any closer. There was no turning back, though, so I kept walking. I looked up again, and it still seemed farther away than it should. Then, quite suddenly, the light was just right there – within throwing distance. I could see the nail salon with my own eyes! Marketing Awareness #6: Keep your eye on your goal, knowing you’re on the right path, and that the goal is getting closer, even if it might not feel like it.

I celebrated my walk with a deluxe mani-pedi, and had my husband come pick me up so I didn’t have to walk home. Marketing Awareness #7: Celebrate your success.

When I got home, I marked 3.45 miles on the 2019 wall calendar I’m using to track my miles walked. Marketing Awareness #8: What gets measured gets done.


Did you set a New Year’s resolution? Choose a word for the year? How can everyday episodes help you become a better author and book marketer? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

recently founded Panoply Publishing, a boutique indie press. She is also a self-publishing consultant who works with authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Laura is the organizer of the popular and successful Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, creator of the Holiday Author Event, and conjuror of many other author opportunities. She will explore the power of the group in her posts for this group blog. In the meantime, read her regular posts at Marcie Brock – Book Marketing Maven. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.

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Do You Need to Detox Your Circle?

Do You Need to Detox Your Circle?

by Ernest Sears, Jr.

happiness with yourself.jpg

Perhaps you are in transition. You may have completed an online class, taken several college courses toward a degree, finished college, begun work on a master’s degree, worked in a job or a career for a number years, recently made the decision to leave your current workplace, or even decided you might get back into the fray. Nevertheless, you are experiencing a deep dissatisfaction with your life so far. You are searching deep within for meaning and purpose. You ask yourself, Why am I spending my precious years engaged in this job, career, company, relationship?

I have been where you are.

I know the sinking feeling of not being where my soul, spirit, psyche, or Higher Self desires to be. I have sat in front of a PC as a cubicle dweller, desk jockey, manager, director, and vice president, and in each of these positions I have felt deeply unfulfilled. If this is you, why do you feel like this? I’ll tell you why. It’s because you are living per someone else’s expectations, contributing to someone else’s vision, building someone else’s empire – without any indication that any of these pursuits align with your own destiny and purpose.

This is a painful place to be, when your very essence is languishing like a fish out of water, beached on the shores of someone else’s dream.

The toxins in our life that threaten to cripple us take many forms. The well-meaning friend who asks, “Can you afford the risk?” The relative who laments, “I never had the chance, so why should you?” The overt hater who shouts, “You’re not good enough.” And that nagging voice in your head that combines these, and worse.

Most toxins don’t kill all at once; they work over time to weaken the host. The host grows lethargic, then paralyzed, then finally dies of suffocation.

Isn’t this how toxic people and ideas work in our lives, as well? They wear us down and weaken us until we can no longer move or breathe, no longer have the will to live our best lives, and eventually we give up, suffocated. We all know such toxic people, don’t we? And as much as we may hate to admit it, sometimes we are the toxic ones. If you have a sense that a situation is toxic, take a look around the room. If you can’t identify the source, chances are good it’s you.

Most of these toxic elements contaminate our lives without our conscious awareness. To cleanse them from our lives – to detox – requires a level of vigilance and effort many of us have not yet achieved.

Sometimes the toxic substances are in the baggage we carry with us. As we move toward purpose – our vision of what life should be, our destiny – we are constantly challenged to let go of that baggage, to replace the outdated and outmoded programs running our lives. To move forward, we must lighten our load and make room for expansion toward higher levels of wisdom, deeper insights, and the ability to see the horizon more clearly. Often the most difficult thing to do is to let go of those people and entities who have had an important hand in getting us where we are today: relatives, mentors, bosses, friends, organizations, and companies. They have served genuine and important spiritual, emotional, and material ends in the past, but they no longer serve us. We have moved beyond them.

You may have heard an old maxim by an unknown author: “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.” It is our job to figure this out for each person, team, or organization in our lives. We often get stuck because we can’t let go of what’s holding us back. We make decisions based on the old programs still running in the background. We don’t want to upset our fathers by not following in their footsteps, our mothers by not going to medical school or marrying our high school sweetheart, our old mentors by moving into a different career, or … you fill in the blank.

No matter what decision we make, we are probably going to disappoint someone. So, whether in our business or personal circles, we must detox ourselves of these poisonous impulses because we cannot grow into our authentic selves until we do. This is not to suggest that we should be cruel and “ghost” people who are no longer useful to us – that’s just manipulative and mercenary. I do, however, suggest that we may need to re-frame a relationship in a compassionate way, particularly if that relationship no longer speaks to or supports our authentic selves. With sincere gratitude and thanksgiving, we must assign them the appropriate degree of honor and reverence, and then leave them behind in order to fully experience our next level of growth, wisdom, and expansion.

Toxic elements can also be paradigms, ideas, or principles that no longer serve us. Indeed, these ways of thinking may never have served us, but we absorbed them out of convenience, association, or proximity; they’re what we grew up with. How many of us have heard these admonitions in one form or another since childhood?

Don’t make waves.
Don’t rock the boat.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Don’t get too big for your britches.
That’s above your pay grade.
Don’t you know how to follow the chain of command?
Speak only when you’re spoken to.
Don’t expect much and you won’t be disappointed.
Stick with what you have.
Don’t take risks.
Don’t go out on a limb.

What do all these phrases have in common? They are limiting; they’re all about playing it safe. Sure, there’s a grain of common sense in all of them, and I would never advise to put yourself in true danger, but sometimes to be your authentic self, you must take risks. After all, the journalist Frank Scully coined the phrase with the opposite sentiment: “Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?”

To live as our authentic selves, we must take risks; we must jettison stale ideals, philosophies, concepts, paradigms, principles, and ways of thinking that no longer serve us. New ideas and paradigms are required to move to the new level of insight and wisdom required to be authentic. Adjusting to a new paradigm, though, can be challenging, uncomfortable, and painful, just like a new workout at the gym can leave us a bit sore. Sometimes the most difficult new paradigm to adopt is that we have a right to change the paradigm. That might be the scariest paradigm shift of all. We can’t shift paradigms – or clear space for new growth – unless and until we eliminate the toxic elements from our lives.

To detox means to rid our lives of the people, situations, models, and paradigms that weaken us with the slow drip of poison, the addictive old programs and patterns that prevent us from reaching our goals. We all have goals for the lives we want to live, visions for our destiny, but something always seems to get in the way.

How do you know if you need to detox? Well, if you think you might need to detox, you probably do. But I have identified other ways to figure it out. I call them the 13 Toxic Red Flags. If you see any of the following toxic red flags in yourself or your circle, you likely need to detox. These toxic elements can dramatically influence – and ultimately hijack – your mission to live a life of purpose.

The 13 Toxic Red Flags

1.      Apathy

2.      The Blame Game

3.      Envy

4.      Unresolved Baggage

5.      Complacency

6.      False Idols

7.      Time Killers

8.      Doubt

9.      Snap Judgment

10.   Arrogance

11.   Closed-Mindedness

12.   Cruelty

13.   Denial

In my new book, Detox Your Circle, Activate Your Destiny, I provide a brief description of detox your circleeach Toxic Red Flag, along with examples of how to diagnose and address each one. The 13 Red Flags represent the free radicals in your body or personal circle that must be addressed or removed to preserve your health, longevity, and effectiveness. I have personally applied these concepts with business partners, acquaintances, friendships, inner circles, and family members.

After spending 22 years in corporate America, building high-performing teams and mentoring leaders who moved on to bigger and better things, I came to realize that it’s not enough to work on yourself alone. Almost everything in business, as in life, is done as part of a team, or a circle. You can be the most enlightened being on the planet, but if even a single member of your team or circle is toxic – or you are – then the rest of the team is weaker for it. You may have heard that the five people with whom you spend the most time are the ones who shape your life, whether at work or in your personal circle. The concepts I discuss in this book are tools you can use to shape your personal circle in a way that all but guarantees you will reach your most important goals.

I learned most of what I know in the context of corporate work teams, but these concepts and management tools can be leveraged in our personal lives to build and cultivate our inner circles, as well. Doing so allows us to surround ourselves with the influence and inspiration to reach the new heights that enable us to live lives of purpose and activate our destiny.

As you embark on this journey, I offer the following suggestions:

  • Define reasonable boundaries and rules of engagement.
  • Be the team leader of your priorities; that is, don’t let others dictate or control which goals you want to achieve and/or how you go about it.
  • Coach with care and communicate with love. To combine kindness with firmness, smile.

Finally, review each toxic element with two goals in mind. First, find the Red Flags in yourself. This will enable you to make the necessary changes and stop being a toxic element in the lives of others (and in your own life). Second, don’t think of people as toxic – think only of their behaviors as toxic. The truth is that we all have behaviors that need to be addressed and eliminated. Focus on the behavior, not the person. If the person’s behavior doesn’t change, you might have to make the difficult decision to distance yourself or limit time with them. You may not be able to permanently distance yourself from certain people in your life – primarily family, at least if they’re not criminally abusive – but you can certainly limit your exposure.

After a couple of years of applying these techniques to my own circles, including circles of friends and business colleagues, I was excited by how much more effective a leader I became, as well as a change agent in my personal life. My unique insight is how to apply what I’ve learned about team dynamics to self-development. Focusing on the work of your own unfolding is the most bountiful, yet gravest of all responsibilities.

At the onset, I had planned to write this book to show readers how to maintain positive, productive, and life-changing relationships. Detoxing your circle requires constant vigilance. Activating your destiny requires the use of an active approach with your circles of influence and eliminating obstacles that jeopardize your vision. As I finished the book, I realized I was no longer writing about maintaining relationships with others, but about transforming the way we relate to ourselves.

The key to Detox Your Circle is to transcend oneself.

During a management career spanning 22 years,
Ernest Sears, Jr. worked in C-level roles,ernest sears garnering numerous awards for coaching expertise and creating winning culture. With a BA in Linguistics from Yale and an MBA from W.P. Carey School of Business, he focused primarily on building cohesive, self-sufficient, high-performing teams in corporate environments. Reaching his own turning point and crisis of meaning triggered the writing of his first book, DETOX YOUR CIRCLE. Ernest is the father of two adult daughters and for the past 25 years has been the life partner of Kiana Maria Storey-Sears. Learn more:

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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…


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:

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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 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 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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