My Blog Confession

I have a confession to make.

I've been cheating on this blog page by writing blogs for Blue Dragon Publishing. Ignorantly, I didn't even bother cutting and pasting them into this blog. Please forgive me. I'll try to do better. In the meantime, if you want to catch up, you can read what I've written at http://blue-dragon-publishing.com/blog/.

I've been reading a lot about time management, and I found a book I really like by Kevin Kruse, 15 Secrets of Successful People Know about Time Management. That's what I have been blogging about lately. I highly recommend you take your time and work on implementing the recommendations he has made as you go along. Try reading only one chapter a week.

I'm going to highlight my favorites here. To read my comments on all 15, please check out the blog on the Blue Dragon site.

Determine what the most important thing is that you need to get accomplished for the day. Some people have called this technique “eat the frog first.” If, first thing in the morning, you knocked out the thing you have been putting off, your day will feel successful and everything else will be easy by comparison. Sounds logical, right? But harder to implement than you think.

You put things off for a reason. Perhaps it’s something you don’t like to do. Or you know it’s going to take a lot of time. But the longer you put it off, the more it grows in your mind and looms over you like a dark cloud. That sense of dread can follow you and weigh you down, even if you don’t realize it. Wouldn’t it be nice to get rid of that negative feeling? The only way to do that is to get it over with.

It might not even be a negative thing, but a hot deadline that you need to devote time to. Don’t open your email, don’t check your phone. Start your day, when you are freshest, with the item you have determined is the most important thing to accomplish.

Before I leave the office for the day, the last thing I do is check my schedule for the next day. I give special consideration to what I put on my schedule for first thing in the morning as the most important thing, and I let my brain churn on it. The next morning, I go through my routine as usual, but when it’s time to work, I start with the first thing on my calendar. I don’t even open my email.

Email is a necessary evil, and it does make life much easier in many ways. It can also be a terrible distraction. Author Kevin Kruse has a whole other chapter on email. For now, suffice it to say, once you open your email, new things will pop up and distract you. Your email waited all night; it can wait a little longer.

Sometimes the project is a big one that will take several days. I just split it up into several blocks of time, but I still put it first every day until it’s complete. Once that task is complete, I allow myself to open my email and knock out the other tasks on the list. But I always have a feeling of satisfaction, having completed something important to me and my business.

So let me know what you think!

Making Book Signings More Comfortable

Do Book Signings make you uncomfortable?

It is sabook signings, talk, author, write, marketingid that many writers are introverts. (I’m an exception to that rule.) That makes it hard for them to do direct marketing. They tend to rely on the safety of hiding behind the electrons on the internet, or better yet, behind a person that will DO the marketing for them with electrons–a double layer of protection.

It is inevitable as a writer that you will have to do some public appearances. So start where you are comfortable. I love softball. You may have noticed from the 4 books I’ve written so far on the subject. I’m comfortable on and around a softball field. A natural place for me to set up book signings is at the ball park. I have a canopy, table, and sign. I’m ready! After getting permission from the park, of course, I set up shop where I can watch the games in between talking to readers. It makes me feel less vulnerable. I can talk to the folks that approach my tent, not just about my books, but about the ball games. It gives them a chance to talk about what they’re interested in, rather than just listening to a sales pitch.

When I do book signings at a store, I prefer to have another author with me. It’s more encouraging and you have someone to cover your table when you need a break. Some stores don’t like this, but with a little work, you can probably convince them. If someone approaches your table, looks, but doesn’t purchase, give them an easy escape. Don’t make them feel bad. I start by asking what they like to read. If they say history books, I say I don’t have any but have you tried such-and-such author? Even better if your table partner has a different genre than you do. You can cover more ground. I’m surprised how many people purchase my books as a gift, even after they tell me they aren’t interested in mysteries (or softball, etc). If you skip the hard sell, folks feel more comfortable talking with you. If they like you, they may buy simply for that reason.

Nothing seems to draw people to a table more than a giveaway. Create a basket filled with goodies that compliment your book. Romance? Try candles, a music CD, and lotion. You don’t necessarily want to put a copy of your book in the basket though. You want folks to BUY your book, not wait and see if they win it. Make it free to enter, but perhaps they get an EXTRA chance to win with a purchase. You can use the emails you collect for your own advertising, but I would HIGHLY discourage selling your lists. It’s poor form. Make sure to put it on the sign up form that you won’t share their information–then DON’T!

Do you have any ideas for book signings or marketing that you would like to share? Please do!! As authors or consumers, your input could really help a struggling introvert.

 

 

Attitude is Everything…in Many Cases

attitude, softball, Brotherton, teamwork, Atiitude is everything, play, coach, teach, learnAttitude is everything. At least I think so. My husband and I are helping coach a softball team. We are a small school so we don’t have a large pool to pick from, hence we have a lot of first time players. I don’t mind that. Really! What I struggle with is when the girls aren’t interested in learning or getting better. I will work all day to help someone improve. Coaching someone that doesn’t care to get better is like talking to a wall.

My husband laughs at me because I get all worked up about it. I can’t understand NOT trying. It is beyond my comprehension. What will these girls be like in the workforce? I would never consider hiring them. Yes, I realize they are still young. These are their formative years. I would like to be part of FORMING them–teaching them that having the right attitude and trying is essential in this life. If you commit to something, you need to give it your all. Other people count on you! Some would say that’s the military in me talking. I would respond, it’s how my parents raised me. I’ve always been like this, as far back as I can remember.

It’s not competitiveness I’m talking about. It’s attitude. The positive attitude of wanting to improve, learn a new skill, and be part of something bigger. Supporting your teammates when they’re down with encouraging comments. Just the basics, like learning the rules of the game and following the coach’s direction. Run when you’re told to run. Stop when you’re told to stop. Basics.

These are the things I would love to explain to the girls on the team, but many of them don’t get it. They look at you as if they’re listening, but then they go about doing whatever they want to do. They don’t have the right attitude.

Thankfully, we raised our daughters so that not trying is also beyond their comprehension. But they have some frustrating days ahead in the “real” world.

Creativity Comes in Many Shapes and Works

quilt, contest, creative, pink, artQuilts on Display at MidAtlantic Quilt Festival

MidAtlantic Quilt Festival was this weekend in Hampton, VA. I was overwhelmed with the creativity and talent of the many quilts on display. I’m so motivated to try new patterns and color combinations. I could easily spend the rest of the year holed up in my sewing room. Of course, my husband complains that we don’t need more quilts. But that isn’t the point!

As I cut the fabric and start to piece it back together, I can’t fathom how it will ever turn out the way it’s supposed to. Watching the patterns emerge is exciting. When I can finally see it, I’m driven to finish it. It’s like an addiction. I can easily stay awake all night…just one more piece.

I bought the pattern for this quilt, but I’m holding off starting it. It’s going to be my treat to myself after I finish “Nicole’s New Friend,” the third book in the Lady Tigers’ Series. Incentives work for my kids. Now I’m using the same logic on myself.

I also checked out the different long-arm machines. The computerized versions take the guess work out of quilting top to bottom and give you a beautiful finished product. My husband cringed when I mentioned it to him. Spending money on something like a long-arm would mean a new business investment. They can cost more than a mid-sized car. Not to mention, that “car” would take up a 12-foot span of a room in your house. I promised him that this decision was years away; I’m only now starting my research. Maybe he can distract me with more travel!

If you have some great quilt patterns to share, feel free to post them. I’d love to see. They are truly a work of art!

Lady Tigers Come to Life

Lady Tigers, logo, softball, fastpitch, sports, team, girls

Go Lady Tigers!

Over the past week, I have seen the characters from my Lady Tigers’ Series come to life. My 14-year old daughter is writing from each of the characters’ view point as they introduce themselves to my web-audience. She has six done so far. I am always amazed at how talented she is. Her writing is fun and full of life, and she has a great imagination. I would like to say she inherited it all from me, but I think she’s even better!

I have a great intern that is building softball cards (not baseball cards!) for the girls and built them each a page on my website. I’m a little behind on the illustrations, but that’s because my illustrator Vineet is working on the pictures for my next book, Nicole’s New Friend.

It is wonderful having a group of supporters to help bring the Lady Tigers to life. Now it doesn’t feel like just my project. They have a team working for their team!

I would love to hear what readers think good topics for 11-13 years would be. I have a few story lines in the hopper, but am always interested in picking up more. I’m working with the Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast now, and hope to get some good ideas from that group. I’m excited about sharing the Lady Tigers with them and getting feedback. Adding more people to the team that make these girls come to life!!