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Habits-The Good, The Bad, and The Stackable…

March 20, 2019- Ahhh, habits! When we think of the word habits it’s often with a negative connotation. Bad habits include not exercising, exercising too much, smoking, too much alcohol, not enough sleep, shopping, spending, and whatever you think bad habits should be defined as. We all have habits and most of the time we run on autopilot because of the habits that we’ve created. For example, when you walk into Starbucks, what do you order? Why? Because it’s a habit and it’s automatic.

However, habits are useful when we use them properly; new habits can be built into our daily routine or stacked on top of the habits that we already have (habit stacking)! Habit stacking should not be confused with multi-tasking which is completely inefficient. The new habit should include a time of five minutes or less to complete, should be simple, should improve your life, and should fit nicely into your daily routine. Let’s look at a couple of examples of how you can incorporate this simple method into your daily life (I’ll use some of the things that I do as an illustration):

  1. Upon waking, I brush my teeth with my opposite hand (creates new neuropathways and increases creativity) and silently repeat five positive affirmations until I’m done brushing.
  2. Every time I exercise, I listen to an audiobook. I’m working out for an hour, but I also am “reading” an hour in my field.
  3. Any time I’m driving somewhere, I listen to a Ted Talk. They’re short and packed full of information that is useful.
  4. Every time I sit down to write, I turn off my phone. This minimizes distraction and is a simple thing that is automatic.
  5. Any time I have to wait somewhere like my doctor’s office or if I arrive at an appointment early, I always bring along a notebook with paper and write down as many new ideas for books as I can before I get called in.
  6. After dinner, I always put on the kettle and while I wait for the water to boil I plan my tasks for the next day from the most important to the least.

All of these actions are non-invasive, they don’t take up any additional time, and you don’t have to overhaul your life to fit them in. So, make a list of the simple, good habits, that you want to create for yourself and see where you can stack them! I’d love to hear if this worked for you; send me an email at pandapublishing8@gmail.com and me about your experience. X LLB

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The Willpower Instinct…

March 13, 2019– If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may have seen me post about a book I was reading last week; The Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal, is an excellent read for anyone who wants to know how self-control works and how our brains process things. There are three key sentences that really stuck out and I’ve since employed them for the business/writing tasks that I don’t love to do.

  1. I will.
  2. I won’t. 
  3. I want. 

That’s it, pretty simple, right? Now, let’s combine them to make a powerful statement. If you’re struggling with doing mundane tasks consider the examples below. The more specific you are, the better this works!

  1. I will write 500 words in an hour and I won’t get distracted by social media during that time because I want to reach my goal and finish my book.
  2. I will wake up early to finish my blog post and I won’t answer return emails until this afternoon because I want to go for a walk with my spouse after breakfast.
  3. I will finish my fabulous presentation on grammar by Tuesday and I won’t turn on my phone until it’s completed because I want to show my boss that I deserve a raise.

You guys get the point! This will work in many areas of your life such as organization, education, writing, reading, leisure activities, relationships, and more. It works because I will, I won’t, and I want, allow us to be clear on what our priorities are and they draw a firm line in the sand showing us what we are willing and not willing to do and what the pay off is. This technique works really well and I hope that you’ll try it yourself! Let me know if you do and if it worked for you by sending me an email at pandapublishing8@gmail.com.

 

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How to Write a Book Review

February 18, 2019– Today we’re talking about book reviews; wait a second, there is a format for writing a book review? Let’s get real, there are formats for every piece of writing that you could ever think of!

Book reviews offer you a chance to share your perception of a book’s good and bad parts and to share info with other readers that they may find useful. Of course, book reviews also allow others to decide whether they should read the book themselves.

Here are the do’s and don’ts of writing a book review:

  1. Do provide a general overview of the book. Include the author, title, publication info such as the publisher and year of publication, and genre. In a few sentences us a taste of the book and your overall opinion of it.
  2. Do say WHY you liked or disliked the book. Be specific! What did you love about it? What did you hate about it? What could have made it better?
  3. Do take a stand. The whole point of a book review is to make a recommendation to your reader. Remember that it is possible to like and dislike parts of the same book! Don’t be afraid to share your opinion!
  4. Don’t give too much away. If you’re reviewing fiction don’t give away key points of plot or the ending or twists that could ruin it for other readers.
  5. Don’t make your review too long. A paragraph or two will do. Pick the thing that interests you most and the thing that you think will most interest your readers.
  6. Don’t be a jerk. If you didn’t enjoy the book, that’s fine, but don’t be insulting. Let your reader know why you were disappointed in the book while still being calm and unemotional.

So there you have it! I look forward to reading your reviews online for some books I’m thinking of reading!

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The Difference between Success and Failure for the Authorpreneur

February 15, 2019– I do a lot of talks and host a lot of classes on writing and publishing, and at least once per class this question comes up: What does it take to become a successful author/entrepreneur? Is there a secret formula? Is there a quick fix, magic wand or potion that can help? If you read my blog or have met me in person, you’ll know exactly what I think of that. The short answer is NO to all of the above. What I can tell you is that there are strategies and actions that will lead you to success and that they’re way better than any magic wand.

  1. Believe that you can do it. I know, I know, I’m usually a hard ass that says stop wishing and start working, but I want to remind you that if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. See? There’s the cynic you’ve all come to know and love. You’ve got to have the mental posture for success. Believing in yourself requires daily dedication, encouragement from within and positive self-talk. What’s that famous saying? Whether you think you can or think you cannot, you’re right!
  2. Have the right people around. I’m talking about everyone from the people you employ to the people you hang around with on a frequent basis; if they’re not forcing you to up your game and become a better author and entrepreneur, then you’ve got the wrong group. If you want to be successful, you have to hang around successful people. Have a mentor, have the right heroes, and have people that you look up to.
  3. Expose yourself to what is new. Did you learn anything today? Your competition did. You must stay on the cusp of what is happening in your industry to stay informed and relevant. The more you learn, the more you earn. Are you reading publications that will make you a better writer? Do you subscribe to content that will make you see things from an entrepreneur’s perspective? Are you learning the business and are you striving to be better than you were yesterday? Can you name the current trends in your industry? If you said no to any of the above questions, you’ve got a lot of work to do.
  4. Take responsibility. Can you guess who is directly, unequivocally, 100% responsible for your success? That’s right, YOU — no one else. When the bus goes sideways, and you’re the driver, you have no one else to blame. Blaming others for your actions, decisions, and ramifications of those decisions is a gigantic waste of your time. And let me tell you something else, if you blame others, you won’t be in business very long. Successful people take responsibility for every choice they make and for everything that happens to them whether good or bad. Your name is on the door so act like it.
  5. Take action. Come on; you had to have known that this was coming if you’re a regular reader of this blog. Action is the only way to get what you want. You can dream about things until you finally wake up and see the world for what it is; the only people who reap rewards are the people who are willing to work for them. Nothing happens until you do something. Don’t be all talk and no action. I can’t stand people like that. You are what you DO, NOT what you say you’ll do.

Here’s to your success! May you get what you deserve. X LLB

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The Power of Thinking Negatively…

February 6, 2019– I’m sure that most of us have heard about the power of positive thinking and how optimism can add years to our lives. I do not disagree with all of that good stuff, but I am saying that there are both sides to a coin; sometimes thinking about what could be wrong, is the right thing to do. Let’s back up for a second.

The Power of Positive Thinking was written by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and is an international best selling book with over five million copies in print; pretty impressive! Here’s what an excerpt online says about the book: The Power Of Positive Thinking will show you that the roots of success lie in the mind and teach you how to believe in yourself, break the habit of worrying, and take control of your life by taking control of your thoughts and changing your attitude. Great! Is that all I have to do is change my thoughts? Not so fast. Here’s where the skeptic in me shines through.

It’s one thing to think good thoughts, but it’s quite another to take action toward your goals. You can sit on your sofa all day and think about collecting cheques in the mail, but if you don’t get off your butt and earn some money, you’ll lose your house eventually. It’s not to say that I’m a pessimist, I’m really not. I believe that all things start in the mind and that if you control your thoughts and your attitude, and put forth consistent action toward your goals, that you can achieve anything. But, it’s the combination of these things that is the ticket. You can have a terrible attitude and take tons of action toward your goal, and I’d be willing to bet that you won’t achieve it. Sometimes it’s a good thing to think negatively…let me explain.

Here’s how the power of thinking negatively can actually help us in the long run:

  1. It causes us to THINK before we act. Thinking of the worst case scenario allows us to stop and think before we make rash decisions. It allows us to think CLEARLY not QUICKLY. Thinking negatively can help us consider if the next move we make will create an unexpected chain reaction in the future. Quitting your full-time job to start a writing career is a big risk. We should think of this situation from a slightly negative point of view in order to have the best possible plan going forward. Perhaps once we see our budget and expenses are in order, we could take the leap, for example.
  2. We won’t take success for granted. To say, “Don’t worry! Everything will be okay!” to someone who is unable to pay the bills is like poking holes in a sinking ship. If you practice this type of thinking while ignoring reality, you are being reckless and dangerous. We need to eliminate false illusions that create or compound our problems instead of pretending they don’t exist. One of my biggest fears? Being a one hit wonder. Nothing scares me more than being a has-been. That’s why when I look at things, I look at them from a slightly skewed, negative perspective that reminds me to work harder even on the days when I don’t feel like it.
  3. It let’s us know where we are vulnerable and how to fix those vulnerabilities. Thinking negatively can let us examine where our weaknesses lie. Let’s say that you’re going to pitch your book to some agents for the first time ever, what could your vulnerabilities be? This goes for anything with your writing whether it’s submitting a query, doing a public speaking engagement, or signing a book deal; if we don’t know what our weaknesses are, how can we possibly fix them?

Yes, think positively and have a good attitude! But every now and then, examine the situation from the other side of the dock. Happy Writing! X LLB

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Who Shouldn’t Be an Author? Here’s Who…

January 21, 2019– Being an author is fun! Book signings and launch parties, and seeing your book on the shelf in the bookstore are definite perks of the job, but there’s a certain type of person who shouldn’t be an author. I’m not saying there are people who can’t be authors, I’m saying that there are people who shouldn’t be authors. Ready to find out who those people are? Here we go! You shouldn’t be an author if:

  1. You aren’t willing to physically work hard. Know what’s funny? That most people think that being an author is easy and that the hardest part is writing the book. Well, I’m here to smash that misconception into a million shiny pieces and tell you the truth. The truth is, being an author is hard. It’s physically and mentally demanding and if you don’t believe me, follow me around during the day of a book signing or launch. Who sets up the table? Who plans the display? Who brings the books? Who gets the dates and locations sorted? Who orders the inventory? Who makes sure that the signage and marketing are on point and convey a purposeful message? Who advertises the event? Who invites everyone they know? Who does the social media promotion? Who stands there for hours in the middle of a store promoting their book while the general public ignores them or pretends not to see them? Who takes a gamble on events and drags everything they own to said event just in the hopes that they’ll sell their books? WE DO. AUTHORS DO. No one does it for us, and we are directly responsible for our success. Oh, and if you’re thinking, yeah, but if you’re traditionally published your publisher does all of this for you. WRONG. The tides are turning and now, more than ever, authors are responsible for most of this stuff, if not all.
  2. You hate and/or are scared of rejection. I’ve personally been rejected enough times that the rejection letters could easily wallpaper the side of my house. But did I give up? No. If you hate rejection, give up easily, are easily discouraged and allow people’s opinions to dictate your success or allow those opinions to force you to give up on yourself and your dreams, being an author isn’t for you. To be in this game, you have to welcome and get used to rejection, because every no, leads to a yes eventually.
  3. You have a thin skin. You will be ridiculed, have people pick apart your work, have people tell you that they hated your book and that you’re a no talent hack, you’ll have people (my extended family) unfollow you on social media because they say you post too much, you’ll get hate mail, you’ll have people say that you should move on to something different, you’ll be reviewed online with less than stellar reviews, you’ll take complaints, and you’ll be absolutely hung by your ankles by people who attended your speaking engagement and said the best part about your speech was your shoes. Yes. This is just a piece of what I’ve experienced as an author. And this isn’t even the worst part. As an author in the public eye, you’re subjecting yourself to all of this and more. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But, you have a choice to either take what these people say, believe it and get out of the game forever, or you can keep going, keep improving, and keep living life on your terms. Let’s face it, the only people who are going to discourage you from living your dream, are the people who gave up on theirs.
  4. You lack discipline. You’re late, or you miss deadlines, or you aren’t writing every single day of your life, or aren’t willing to do late nights and early mornings, being an author is something you should seriously reconsider. Authors, I would like to think, are some of the most disciplined people on the planet. We do the things we have to do before doing the things that we want to do. Would I rather be outside or poolside, or on vacation, or reading a book instead of writing one? Sure, but there are things that need to be done before any of the other things can take place. A quote that I have hanging on the wall above my desk reads, “You will not always be motivated, so you must learn to be disciplined.” This keeps me in check and reminds me that even though I don’t feel like writing, editing, working, running my business today, or whatever it may be, that I’m going to anyway no matter how I feel.
  5. You are horribly shy and/or unwilling to interact with the public. People don’t buy your book, they buy you. Your success is hugely influenced by the way that you interact with the public. If you’re at a book signing and you think that you’re going to sit in the chair behind the table with a stack of books, with hands folded in front of you, waiting patiently for people to line up to see you, you’ve got another thing coming. YOU ARE NOT STEPHEN KING AND NO ONE IS HERE TO SEE YOU. Read that again and if you’re offended by that, send me some hate mail, or re-read number 3 on this list and get over yourself. You have to hustle, you have to interact, and you genuinely have to be interested in your readers. You have to get out there, approach them, and tell them about yourself and your work. If you’re not willing to do this, find another career because you’ll never cut it.

Are you one of the people who shouldn’t be an author? I hope not, but if so, remember that it’s never too late to change. X LLB

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Dealing with Critics…

December 7, 2018- Everyone is a critic. There are times when we all seem to think that we know better and that we know more when it comes to certain things; maybe we’re an expert in our field, or maybe we have many years of experience. The point is that there will always be someone who knows more than you.

Please remember that criticism when properly portrayed and worded can be extremely effective in helping us become better; publishers, like myself, often give constructive criticism to writers because we want them to apply what we’ve said to make them a better writer. It’s never, ever personal and is never meant to offend. I think that it’s a big problem in the world right now that people are unwilling to accept criticism. My only caveat is that the criticism given MUST be constructive, helpful, truthful, and kind. Also, I want to make this crystal clear: NEVER TAKE CRITICISM OR ADVICE FROM SOMEONE WHO IS NOT DOING BETTER THAN YOU. Read that sentence again.

As an author, publisher, and small business owner, you wouldn’t believe the hate mail I get. There’s always someone who is nasty, and mean, and has terrible things to say about what I’m doing or not doing, or what I should be doing, or what I’m offering or writing. I learned a long time ago that there are some people who always seem angry and continuously look for conflict. Walk away; the battle they are fighting isn’t with you, it’s with themselves. It’s important to remember this; you’re never going to be all things to all people, you’re never going to make everyone happy!  I’ve been on both ends of it, the receiving end and the giving end, and I’ve received some very brutal feedback from professionals as well as people who don’t think that I can do anything right. But, to the people who feel the need to criticize my business and the way that I run things, to those who are just downright horrible, don’t worry, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and your opinion is just that, your opinion. Thank goodness that for every person with something mean to say, there are ten others who love us.

Check yourself before you start to criticize someone else. If you’re the one receiving criticism, before you accept it, make sure that it’s truthful, constructive, and kind. If it’s not any of those things, take it with a grain of salt, and move on.

Wishing you every success,
X LLB

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As an Author, Are You Doing This Right?

October 10, 2018– Social media in this day and age is of the utmost importance when you’re self-employed. As authors, this includes us, because if we don’t have a proper, effective platform, how are we going to sell books, connect with readers, and participate in discussions?

Anyone who signs on with my company knows that I expect them to start building their social media platform BEFORE their book launches. This is because I want my authors to have a solid space to promote themselves where they can get readers excited about what’s to come. It’s never too early to start talking about your work and about what you do. Authors often question, ” My book doesn’t come out for another year and a half! Isn’t this too soon to start promoting it?” The answer. No. And here’s why it takes at LEAST EIGHT times of humans being exposed to the same message for them to even take NOTICE! Yep, that’s how much noise is coming at us every day and how much of that noise we filter out. So, it’s NEVER too early to start talking about your book.

But, Lacey! What do I post on social media if I don’t have a product? Easy.

  • Behind the scenes looks at your work
  • How you came up with the idea for your book/ inspiration behind it
  • A typical workday for you when writing
  • Sneak peek of the manuscript title
  • Any art sketches if applicable
  • What your goals are with writing
  • What books you’re currently reading
  • What books your book compares to
  • Why you became an author
  • Why your story matters
  • Contests
  • Giveaways
  • And everything else that relates to your book that you can possibly think of

So, here are some tips on building a solid social media presence.  You need to be on Facebook, preferably with business page, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon author profile, and you better have a blog or a website. Now, I know what you’re thinking, Ummm I don’t want to waste my life and time just posting to social media! Trust me, there are days when I want to detox the whole process of this craziness entirely out of my life, but I know how important it is so I don’t. Don’t worry, I got you, there’s a cool tool that can take away the stress!

  1. Hootsuite is a social media posting tool that allows you to schedule posts to Facebook business pages, Twitter, and Instagram. Get the app, it will change your life, I promise.
  2. Stick to a schedule. Figure out what you’re going to post about and when.
  3. Be consistent in your posts. Yes, I admit that sometimes I fall off the face of the social media world, but in a couple of days, I’m back in the saddle, and I ALWAYS answer questions and comments.
  4.  Hashtags. Know what they are, what they do, and use them effectively, ESPECIALLY on Instagram. Why? Because this helps more people find your posts, let’s them know what you have to say, and it leads to more followers.
  5. SEO. If you don’t know what this stands for, learn it immediately and start implementing it on your blog/website NOW.

At Pandamonium Publishing House, we teach this stuff. Drop me a line if you want in on the next custom course, pandapublishing8@gmail.com.

You can do this. It may seem like an impossible hurdle, especially if you’re not part of the generation that grew up with this stuff. It’s never too late to learn. And the more you learn, the more you earn.

X LLB

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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (And how it helps your writing!)

October 1, 2018– Back when I was an official student of Marketing and Business, (I say official because I still consider myself a student of both, just not in a typical classroom setting) we learned about Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs. It was fascinating and captivating to see what humans need and that we are unable to move from one level to the next if there are any gaps in the previous level. Let me explain; as we look at the chart below, we see that the very basics of human need are food, water, and shelter. If we don’t have these needs met, we can’t move on to social stability, achievement, and experiencing our unique purpose.

I know what you’re thinking…umm… thanks for the lesson but what does this have to do with writing? Well, think about the hierarchy below; how does your character fit into this? Does your character lack love and belonging and to they need to resolve this issue before moving on with their life? Is your character dying to be unique? Maybe your character is questioning their morality?

This chart will also make you credible. We know that human nature is to take care of the basics. If we have no food, our first goal is to find food and feed ourselves. Have you ever been so hungry that you can’t even think straight? I’m sure you have, we all have and for various reasons. How are we supposed to think about self-actualization when our stomach is growling so loudly that we can’t hear ourselves think? You get the picture.  Now, I know that some of you may argue the point that someone like Gandhi was able to reach self-actualization because he deprived himself of food, and yes there is merit to that argument. My point is, that with most people, including your characters, we can’t ignore our basic needs and we’ll do whatever it takes to meet them.

Happy Writing! X LLB

 

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

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As a Self- Pubished Author, Are You a Bad Decision Maker?

August 17, 2018- This is for all of my self-published author friends and colleagues! I want to know, are you a bad decision maker? I know that in the past, I certainly have been. It is imperative to be a good decision maker when self-publishing because so many things require your attention! Here’s what I’ve learned along the way in my own publishing journey:

  1. You base your decisions on ego. If you think that you know it all, you’ve got a problem. Let’s say that your an expert in a specific field like illustration, you may assume that your expertise in that field will translate to every other area in bookmaking such as marketing, advertising, and writing. Well, my dear friend, you would be wrong. Instead, assemble a team of people whose expertise rounds out your own and reap the benefits of multiple perspectives.
  2. You rely on the momentum effect. Yes, I do believe that some past events can predict future events, BUT this is not always written in stone, and there’s a problem with thinking this way! The world is continually changing and evolving. If you’re only relying on your tried-and-true methods and are blind to other options, you’re going to be in trouble. It’s important to learn from the past, but to keep your eyes on the future. Know what’s going on in your industry so that you can continuously pivot and be on top of your game.
  3. You’re Lazy. If you’re a self-published author, then I have news for you, you’re an entrepreneur whether you like it or not. Entrepreneurs have to be curious and hungry and always on the lookout for new opportunities. If you only make decisions based on how comfortable you feel and refuse to try anything new, this industry will chew you up and spit you out.
  4. You’re indecisive. Ugh. Nothing makes me cringe more than people who can’t make a damn decision. Yes, there are some decisions that need to be thought about carefully, but let’s face it, most decisions can be made in a matter of seconds! If you can’t decide where you’re going on your self-publishing journey, then why would it matter when you get there? You can’t hit a target you can’t see. Make a decision and stick with it whether it’s right or wrong. You’ll find out eventually and remember that indecision is a decision!
  5. You see the trees and not the forest. Take a look at the big picture! Good decisions are always made with the big picture in mind, but if you’re always worried and focused on putting out fires and solving minor problems, you’ll never be able to properly plan ahead. Don’t Major in Minor things. You get me? Delegate the smaller decisions to those who are in your corner. You don’t need to worry yourself with minor details that don’t really matter in the long run.

So, the good news is that if you do any of the things above, you can choose to stop doing those things immediately and become a better decision maker! It’s not always easy, but it can be done. Trust me, I’ve done it.

Here’s to your writing success,
X LLB

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