Monday Motivation: MLK Jr. Special

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

If MLK, Jr. were still alive today, I believe he’d still be holding large-scale rallies to promote acceptance of others; only, people would be tweeting about them and creating Facebook events. But what does acceptance and MLK, Jr. have to do with business? More than you might think, actually.

Acceptance plays a key role in developing a business or organization. It helps leaders to be better listeners as they keep an open mind to new ideas. It helps our jobs become a place where diversity–in all aspects–is celebrated. NOT tolerated, but celebrated. It helps to break down culture and communication barriers as peers learn how to work in harmony with one another, creating a healthy workplace. And most importantly, it encourages everyone to think outside the proverbial box in order to generate better solutions to pressing issues.

That being said, here are two great articles to read, aligned with the theme of MLK, Jr., acceptance, and business lessons we can learn from the man who coined, “I have a dream…”

1. Martin Luther King by Jack E. White of TIME Magazine

Summary: This is a great article from the 90’s (vintage!) about Dr. King. It touches on a brief history of the the Civil Rights Movement, and MLK, Jr.’s cause. White reminds us of the ever-growing need for equality in the present, stating that King was demanding justice–not citing some “…Hallmark card-style version of Brotherhood.”

2. 5 Entrepreneurship Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Joseph Steinberg of Forbes

Summary: This article is especially encouraging for entrepreneurs and dreamers alike. He analyzes some aspects of King’s life and cause, and gives us 5 important lessons as a takeaway. Though this article focuses more on the business side of things, Steinberg does mention the issues of racism and prejudice.

Today, I personally am taking some time to reflect on the things that Martin Luther King, Jr. did for humanity. I’m also taking the time to reflect on what that means for me as a business owner and human citizen. It makes me angry and appalled to think about the problem of racism, lack of acceptance, and prejudice that still exists all around us. And it’s not just in the U.S.; it’s everywhere.

I think that being a leader–whether in business or otherwise–demands something greater to surface from me than just seeing “results” or “success.” I think it has more to do with responsibility to my fellow man more than I realize. I believe that caring for one another and striving to make the world a better place through our passions and talents are at the heart of good business practices. And that’s something I can learn from the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

My mantra/coin phrase as a fiction author is: “Always dream big.” That’s what Dr. King told us to do. To dream big about the future while we discover how to change the world and its bad practices.

So, whether you’re a business owner, manager, employee, stay-at-home-mom/dad, student…whatever you do as a vocation…I’d like to encourage you to dream big and take some time today to reflect on lessons you can learn from Martin Luther King, Jr. and how you can implement them into your every day life. Enjoy the day and create some amazing opportunities for yourself and your fellow man.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons.

Should You Listen to Naysayers?

Part of being an entrepreneur involves receiving negative or discouraging comments from others. When I decided to freelance and quit my job, giving up a steady paycheck, I heard things like, “Is there any money in copywriting or editing?” and “But how are you going to pay your bills?” and “Wow…that’s a tough industry. Good luck.”

7K0A0071

Rather than tell them off, I held my tongue, smiled, and said, “It’s actually a great industry and there’s lots to keep me busy.” Then I went my merry way and launched my business. I’ve never been a follower, anyway, and I was so ready to do my own thing. But sometimes, I think it’s important to listen to the so-called naysayers.

The only problem is: When should you listen to them and when should you ignore them?

Let’s break it up and analyze:

When you should NOT listen

  • If your endeavor involves risk, but there’s lots of opportunity for you
  • If it’s something you’ve been dreaming about and know how to make happen
  • If you are ready to put in the hard work, have the resources you need, and are willing to make sacrifices (especially financially)
  • If you just feel ready for the change and have been making steps to reach your goal
  • If that person’s “caution” or “words of wisdom” to you are just their own fears and doubts

Don’t let your fears–or the fears of someone else, for that matter–hold you back from going after your passions. When you do what you love, and you can figure out how to make it work for you, then go after it without looking back.

IMG_3310

When you should listen

  • If what you’re about to do is incredibly dangerous and you could lose your life (even then, I know some daredevils will go for it)
  • If what you’re planning to do is incredibly stupid (like buying a magical bean that will grown a giant beanstalk)
  • If you haven’t taken the time to plan things out (preparation is the key to success)
  • If you have some life issues (emotional or physical disabilities) that cause an incredible hindrance to your daily well-being
  • If you know you’re not ready, but you’re letting pride cloud your sound judgement

7K0A0079

Just because someone advises you to reconsider choices you are about to make doesn’t mean that you have to completely forget the idea. Rather, it means that you should at least think about their “advice” and ask yourself if there is any credibility to what they’ve told you. Sometimes, it’s hard to remove our ego and we develop this personal vendetta to prove everyone wrong at any cost. Don’t do something just to show others you’re right.

Take every piece of advice with a grain of salt. The best thing to do? Find people who are passionate, like you, and are successful entrepreneurs/business leaders/etc. and ask them if you can buy them some coffee in exchange for an hour of their time. Pick their brains, ask them questions, find out how they became successful. Surrounding yourself with people who are like-minded can help you as you make business and life decisions.

So, heed the naysayers, but weigh your choices with sound judgement and advice from those whom you admire and trust. Don’t let the Negative Nellies get you down; create the life of your dreams by taking some risk. It just may be the best thing you’ve ever done.

7K0A0800

Monday Motivation: Read This Cool Stuff II

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

It’s Monday! I have 3 great articles to share with you all. They’re all from HubSpot today and focus on marketing, blogging, and LinkedIn groups–all great stuff.

So grab a coffee, sit back, and take some time to read these articles and become motivated for another work week.

IMG_4084 - Version 2

Yummy coffee to start the day off right.

1. 10 Phenomenal Blogs in Totally Boring Industries by Ginny Soskey at HubSpot

Summary: The title pretty much says it all. 10 awesome blogs that are doing something right, despite their businesses’ reputation for being “boring.” A great read.

2. A Practical Guide to Planning a Successful Inbound Marketing Campaign by Meghan Keaney Anderson at HubSpot

Summary: Again, the title tells what this post is about. I’ve been using the term “Inbound Marketing” lately, so if you still don’t know what that means, then definitely take a look at this post. It lays everything out in simple terms.

3. 20 LinkedIn Groups Every Marketer Should Join by Brittany Leaning at HubSpot

Summary: Obviously, this post shows you great groups to join on LinkedIn. But don’t let the “Marketer” part deter you from reading this article. EVERY business owner and entrepreneur is a marketer in her or his own right. Marketing is for everyone, and it doesn’t hurt to join a group of experts who can share nuggets of wisdom with you–for free. I get more out of groups like these than any marketing class I ever took in college.

I hope you enjoy these articles and feel motivated to tackle some business this week. Here’s a great quote to leave you with some inspiration:

“Whatever the mind of man [and woman] can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” –Napoleon Hill

Monday Motivation: Read This Cool Stuff I

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

It’s Monday, which means it’s the start of a new work week. For many, Mondays are probably the most blasé day of the week. Here are three posts to start your week off right and get you motivated for things you have to tackle.

I know...Mondays are hard. Cry Baby by Jan Tik via Flikr Creative Commons

I know…Mondays are hard.
Cry Baby by Jan Tik via Flikr Creative Commons

Punch those Monday Blues in the stomach and read this cool stuff:

1. 5 Tips for Content Marketing Success by Jeff Bullas

Synopsis: 5 Tips (obviously) that break down what it takes to create meaningful content and marketing that will transcend all the boring junk, and please current clients while attracting new ones.

2. The Top 75 Must-Read Online Marketing Blogs by Kristi Hines from Unbounce

Synopsis: More than a plethora of awesome blogs that will give your marketing resource (digital) library quite a boost.

3. 24 Invaluable Skills To Learn For Free Online This Year by Summer Anne Burton of Buzzfeed

Synopsis: Still trying to figure out your goals for the year? Check out this awesome list and get motivated!

Wishing you all a lovely week. Now, get out there and kick Monday’s ass!

It Takes a Village to Raise a Book

(NOTE: Revised on 7/22/14. I forgot to add the part about connecting with my designer!)

I’ve been writing consistently for over five years now. I am just about to release my second book and am currently writing two more books, hoping to release them this year or early next year. And now, with my writing/editing/publishing business, I’ve been publishing clients for almost a year now—which, by publishing, I mean that I provide self-editing services similar to how my own books are published. It’s a lot of work, and it takes a team of people, but it’s fun and I’m passionate about what I do for a living.

Many people, who are interested in the process of bringing a book to life (and to the shelves), have asked me about the process of “raising a book.” To me, my books are like my children, and as the saying goes: “It takes a village.”

Because I get asked about the process so often, I thought it’d be prudent to write a post about it. This doesn’t mean that this is the end all or the “right” way to get a book out there, but it’s what works for me—and for some of my other writer friends. So, if you want to know how it works, pay close attention and take notes if you must. :)

 ***

Step 1: Write the story.

This is the “duh” part. Obviously, you need to write a story first to make anything happen. However, the “how” part in this step is different for everyone.

I outline every book I write, but I don’t stick to it religiously. Sometimes, I’m very organic about the flow of my story, and sometimes I need to free write in my journal to help shape the next parts of the story. I’ve read about other writers who LOVE their outline, and about others who are more free-spirited with their writing—like me.

My first book, second edition.

My first book, second edition.

Step 2: Blog some teasers.

The more you grow your readership, the more important it is to keep up with fans and share some previews/snippets of your work. I admit that I’m not always the best at this, especially because I run a business AND have to figure out how to squeeze in my stuff every day. But, I have been sharing more teasers for my soon-to-be-released book, compared to my first book.

Posting teasers, etc., starts building up the hype for your book and (hopefully) gets people excited about the new “baby” you are creating.

Step 3: Design a great cover.

Let’s be real: visuals are everything, especially nowadays. Luckily, I have a great group of designers who help me with my projects–personal and business. For my second book’s cover, I hired an amazing designer, Andrew Beach, who made my ideas come to life. Though I’m an artist and can draw, I could not tell you the first thing about digital graphic design. So, even while the story is still developing, I have my designer begin to build the cover. You can see book two’s cover at the end of this post.

Step 4: Self-edit, revise, rewrite.

When I wrote my first book, it took me longer to write than my second. This is often true of most writers, but for various reasons. Part of what kept adding to my delay was self-editing ALL the time.

After five years, I’ve learned to stop being so meticulous as I’m writing the book, and to save self-editing for AFTER the book is finished. But, again, I want to reiterate that this might not work for everyone. It works for me, and if you’re still figuring out the best methods for yourself, try the editing and rewriting after the fact.

Step 5: Send to MY editor upon completion.

Yes, I’m an editor, and YES—I most definitely need an editor for my books. An editor who is NOT moi. Why? Because we are all biased when it comes to our babies. It is imperative to have another pair of eyes and an objective opinion for your stuff.

Fortunately, I have an incredible editor who does an amazing job with my books. I send her either a full print out of my book OR a Word file (I write everything in Word) so she can make edits.

Notes from my editor for my first book.

Notes from my editor for my first book.

Step 6: Print a “preview” proof.

I use CreateSpace as my printer/distributer. Yes, my books are published through a small publishing firm, but we all function as indie authors, and are hands on in the entire process. It’s a lot of work, but I’ve learned so much and am happy with the arrangement between my publisher and I.

For my new book, my publisher suggested I print a preview proof copy—which means that I printed a paperback version of my book while it was being edited by my editor. I was able to make even more notes/edits and catch things that were hard to see in the Word document. Then, when I finished going through the entire book, I added my changes and revisions while waiting to receive the Word document back from my editor.

MY edits in my book proof.

MY edits in my book proof.

Step 7: Go through editor’s edits.

This is another “duh” step, but it’s the next step in the process. Personally, I have found that a stellar editor will not only catch grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors, but will also help you develop the store (as needed) and show you where plot holes or big questions exist. My editor does all of the above AND she leaves me encouraging/funny notes as well. It makes the editing process less painful. J

Step 8: Send edited book to publisher.

My publisher also goes through my book—several times, actually. Again, having another set of eyes on my book is crucial. It’s also crucial to have a highly polished manuscript since I represent the publishing firm with my work. I go through my publisher’s notes before printing a second proof.

Step 9: Print second proof.

This is an important step. Even if you think you have caught every mistake in the manuscript, it’s vital to go through another physical proof. Why? Because we’re all human, and we all make mistakes—especially when we think things are perfect.

My book proof (book 2).

My book proof (book 2).

Step 10: Team proof.

After I receive the second proof, I hand out copies to my editor, publisher, and other English language savvy peeps. I then share a Google doc between us and we use it to track other errors in the book—including formatting issues. It can be a tedious process, but if you have a wonderful editor like I do, it’s less painful.

During this process, I may also send an electronic ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) to my beta readers and I take their notes/reactions into consideration.

Step 11: Last things before publishing.

If needed, I order another physical proof (you can order up to five proofs at a time through CreateSpace). Otherwise, I review the final electronic proof, provided by CreateSpace. During this time, I add my book and information to Goodreads and other book platforms. I also post about the “coming attraction” on my blog, etc. When everything looks as perfect as can be…

Step 12: Publish!

When you hit the “publish” button, it’s really exciting for a good five minutes, and then you get back to work. The process is never ending when you’re a writer, and that’s the plain truth.

After the paperback is ready, I start on the ebook conversion process. This has taken me a while to learn, and someday, I’ll post THAT process. When the ebook is converted, I check the proof for that as well, and then publish to KDP when it’s ready.

Step 13: Create samples.

When the big things are finished, I then create samples of my work. For example, you can upload a preview of your book to Goodreads and your website, etc. I usually include the first five chapters of my book and convert it to a PDF file. (Click for a sample PDF of Feast Island> Feast Island 2nd Edition SAMPLE) I also make a PDF review copy and put text in the beginning, indicating that it’s a review copy, not to be distributed illegally, etc.

I also make sure I revamp my website a bit at this point, in order to reflect the new release.

Step 14: Copyright.

You can secure a copyright from the United States Copyright Office to protect your work. It’s a fairly “easy” process, and you can probably expect to get your official certificate in 4-6 months.

*** 

That’s as easy as I can break things down. I promise to elaborate more on this process later, with future blog posts. And, like I said: it never ends! You are always working when you’re a creative. Always thinking of something new. But the most important thing is that it truly does take a team to make your book happen. Without my trusted editors, readers, and fans, there’d be nothing.

The best thing you can do after you write a book is to find your trusted team members to make your dreams a reality. Be very picky about whom you choose, and if it doesn’t work out with someone, protect your “baby” by finding someone else who is better suited for you and your vision. Don’t be afraid to speak up if something needs to change, but be open to new ideas. As time goes on, you’ll find what does and doesn’t work for you.

If you haven’t seen the cover of my upcoming release, The Wrong Fairy Tale, here it is in all of it’s glory. I’ll be sure to let you all know when it’s on the market and available for purchase. Almost there!

WFT final cover onlyjpeg

Teaser Tuesday: The Wrong Fairy Tale

Hey, everyone! This week, I am hoping to get through edits of my up-and-coming second book, The Wrong Fairy Tale! Super excited to share it with everyone, and let readers know what has been happening to the characters from my first book, Feast Island.

Since I am nearing completion of TWFT, I wanted to share another teaser with you all. It has a new character, Queen Eliri, in it. Click HERE to view a picture of the Queen (at least, how I picture her) on Pinterest. Hope you enjoy!

The Wrong Fairy Tale Teaser

The golden plate on her wall began to ripple, drawing Queen Eliri out of her thoughts. Diegen was always prompt with their meeting times. It was the only thing she could expect from him.

“Lord Diegen, what a pleasure,” she said, sounding bored.

“Eliri, there is no need to lie; let us do without the formalities. I am very busy, so tell me why you have summoned me.” His eyes were glossy, and it was hard to remember what his face looked like if she were not looking right at it.

The Queen cleared her throat, trying to find the strength to confront him. “It has come to my attention that you have lied to me.”

“Accusations this early in the morning? Please, enlighten me.”

“You promised me power—greater power than what I already had possessed. And yet, my power is waning. We made a deal and you have not upheld it.” Now, she was irate and only felt anger rather than fear, although she was facing a being so powerful, he could kill her from thousands of miles away.

Diegen’s face began to morph into sharper lines and angles; his pupils started to expand, bleeding into his irises and eradicating all the blue color. Had Eliri been able to see his fingers, she would have witnessed their transformation into very long and bony extensions that had just a thin layer of skin left on them.

Suddenly, Eliri found it hard to breathe. Her veins felt constricted, and when she looked at her hands, she saw that her fingertips were swelling and becoming red. Her tongue ballooned, and she couldn’t think clearly. However, she managed to use what power she still did possess and fought back against Diegen’s display of control over her. When she thought she could no longer hold him at bay, he released his hold on her. The Queen coughed and wheezed as she gulped much needed air.

“So you do have power after all. Enough power to resist me.” His eyes became a cool blue once more, and his features relaxed back to their normal state.

“My people are losing their power and you have weakened me,” she rasped, rubbing the front of her neck.

“On the contrary, my Queen, you are responsible for that. I promised you power, and so you shall have it—when our deal is fulfilled, and so long as you behave. You, of all beings on Cantelia, should know that when the balance of any land is disturbed, there are consequences. If you do not have enough resources to restore the balance yourself, then you should have thought about such things before making promises to me. Have I made myself clear?”

“You have made yourself extremely clear,” Eliri spat, mustering all the strength she had in order to stand tall.

Finding the Entreprenurial Spirit in Spain

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

I’ve made some good friends while living abroad this summer. But there’s one in particular who stands out. She happens to be the person I’m renting my room from, though she’s become so much more than just that. She’s a kindred spirit, and understands the trials and triumphs that I face while running my own business. After all, she runs two businesses with her parents, and can relate.

Meet my friend, Agostina de Castillo Berladinelli. To me, she is the quintessential young entrepreneur, embracing her penchant to dabble in a little bit of this, and little bit of that. At 28 years old, Agostina is wise beyond her years, and has 6 years of business owner experience. She is originally from Argentina, but her family settled here in Spain 13 years ago.

IMG_5863

On a busy Thursday afternoon, Agostina and I went for tapas and cañas—typical Spanish food—and sat down for a more organic-type of interview. I was very interested to learn more about her background and her business endeavors. Plus, it was a good opportunity for me to continue to practice my Spanish. But I digress.

The first business in which Agostina is involved is called Puroaroma Ambientadores. Puroaroma is a line of products that, in the words of Agostina, “gives clients the complete experience by making sure their place of business and/or home has the perfect scent.” There are “aparatos de ambientador,” or what I deem them: aroma machines. This is the main product, but there are other products as well—like small squares that give off a generous amount of good-smelling waves of the scent of your choosing. Sounds like a great product, right? Right. However, it can be hard to sell something like this, especially here in Alicante, Spain.

“In Alicante, it can be hard to sell someone on a new idea. People can be close-minded at times,” Agostina explained to me when I asked her about the difficulty of running such a business. And especially since “La Crisis,” people have become more skeptical and cautious—which is how things can be in the US, more so because of the Recession.

So, like any good marketer and business owner, Agostina finds ways to get people to buy in to her product. She told me, “I tell prospective clients: You can try the product for two days. If you like it, let’s talk.” She further went on to say that people in general don’t always appreciate a good product, and you must be confident so that people believe in YOU first, and then they’ll believe in the product.

“If you believe in the product, it basically sells itself. You must present it with confidence.” –Agostina Berladinelli

She’s done a great job of presenting her product with said confidence, but also uses effective marketing techniques like placing ads in elevators, wearing t-shirts that advertise Puroaroma, and making personal visits to stores to build relationships with clientele.

Agostina also runs a business with her mother: Frida & Co. Through Frida & Co., they sell jewelry and accessories. They distribute their products to stores, at house meetings/parties (similar to a Stella & Dot kind of party), and through the Internet. Like myself, Agostina likes to keep her hands in more than one cookie jar, and likes to be innovative and creative.

So, just what does the future hold for this bright and very talented young woman? For starters, she has her mind set on business expansion, especially in regards to Puroaroma. She and her business partners have plans to keep expanding sales to other regions in Spain, and would like to sell all the way up to Valencia—and beyond. Agostina also plans to grow Frida & Co. She is currently working on bettering the websites for both companies, continuing to network, and increase her clientele. And you know something? I think she’ll do just fine.

Agostina and me, getting ready to go to lunch.

Agostina and me, getting ready to go to lunch.

To find Agostina’s companies on social media, check out the links below:

Puroaroma Abientadores

Facebook

Website/Blog

Frida & Co.

Facebook

Website/Blog

Twitter