Sunday, November 7, 2010

We Have Moved to

Sooner or later, it had to happen. The charms of a new place become irresistible, and you move on.
And so, we did.

And you can find our FREE eBook there, too.

Just sign up for our newsletter, and our eBook is yours.

Here's the title:

I Need to Be a Bestselling Author -- Is That True?:
The Five-Destination Roadmap to Authorship

Click on the link above, and you'll see our free eBook and newsletter offer in the upper righthand corner of our homepage (right after our splash page).

Is that a bribe? Well, yes, but it's a nice bribe.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Optimizing Your Writing:::Feng Shui & Your Desk

Tisha Morris, our guest blogger, is the author of 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home, available on, or directly from her site, Mind Body Om. This is the final stop on her spring blog tour to promote her new book.
An attorney turned Feng Shui expert and healer, she has much to share about creating an empowering living environment. And for you, our readers, she offers tips on using Feng Shui in your writer's work space, for optimal writing results.

Your Own Space

One of the best things about being a writer is that there is virtually no overhead. All you need is a computer and a bit of discipline. But creating a designated office space is often overlooked by writers -- not to mention creating a feng shui-ed office space.

Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, blogs or books, a writer spends her day pouring parts of herself onto the page, and from there, into the world. Emotionally and intellectually, it can be a very vulnerable place. This is one reason why having an office space is so important -- a space that is yours and yours alone, with no distractions.

The Right Location

Writers usually work at home, but finding adequate office space can be challenging.
If square footage is an issue, then home offices typically find themselves sharing space with guests (the guest room); daily meals (the kitchen table); or living room activities (a desk in the corner). So it takes some creative planning to make a home office work for a writer.

The first step is to select one location for your workspace. Ideally, this is a designated home office. But it could be a comfortable chair, your bed, or the ever-popular kitchen table. Whatever the space, it is important that you make it your space. In other words, this is the place you go to write. As with meditation, when you use the same space each time, it helps you drop into the flow more easily. It also signals that you're making writing an important priority.

Here's an aside about working in coffee shops: Some people need the stimulation of other people in their vicinity to get motivated to write. For others, people in their environment is -- at worst, irritating; and at best, distracting. Experiment to discover what works for you.

The Right Place for Your Desk

There are a few things to keep in mind when setting up a workspace. The most important consideration for any office is its desk placement. When sitting at your desk, you should be in the "Command Position." Simply put, this is the position that puts you "in command," able to survey everything in your surroundings. This position comes from our instinctive need to have visible control of our environment.

The ideal Command Position would be with a view of the door from your chair, a view looking out a window, and a solid wall behind you. This may mean moving your desk into the room and away from the wall. If this is absolutely not possible, then put up a mirror that allows you to see the door in its reflection. If you do not use a desk, but instead use a countertop, or even your lap, it is still important to face the door entering the room. You want to feel confident as you sit in your space -- whether you are home alone, or surrounded by a hundred colleagues in a business office.

As an example, let's say a writer's office is doubling as a guest room. In this case, the desk should face the door, but shouldn't be directly in line with it (that would result in too much chi energy flowing into the room, disturbing the writer). It's best if a window is not behind the desk. Why? A wall backing you up offers support, and for writers in an isolated profession, feeling supported is crucial. The writer in this case could simply keep the blind closed, so the feeling of being exposed is minimized.

Clear All Clutter

It is very important to have an uncluttered space when writing. Your mind is directly affected by your environment. So once you designate your workspace, be sure to clear it of all clutter.

What Size Should Your Desk Be?

The size of your desk is a personal choice, and depends upon what you prefer. Everyone likes or requires a different amount of work surface area. For some, an executive-size desk makes them feel more powerful. For others, it's just more space to keep clean. I personally prefer a small desk that will accommodate my laptop, cup of tea, and cell phone.
But I work virtually paperfree, and prefer to keep everything either on my phone or in my computer. So, in my office, my desk isn't large, but it does take center stage. It faces the door without being in direct line with it, and it isn't in front of a window. When you're ready to pick out your desk, find one that fits your work style and is comfortable for you. If you are physically cramped, your creativity can't flow freely.

If you create a designated workspace that feels good to you, you will be more likely to get to work on your writing, to enjoy your writing time, and to be successful with whatever you write.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Best-Selling Author . . . Wannabe? : : : : : : : : : : Lynn Serafinn Can Show You How

She calls herself a Personal Transformation Coach. But Lynn Serafinn can help you do more than transform personally, life-changing as that may be.

She can help you transform professionally -- by showing you how she became a well-promoted, best-selling author. Here’s the big-picture overview:

Stage One: Pre-Launch

Using largely online tools, Serafinn wisely constructed a far-reaching and supportive author platform -- well before her book launched in April of this year.

(Your “author platform” is your existing audience: the number of people who already know you and want to buy your book. Media contacts who know and will feature you are an integral part of your platform, as well.)

Stage Two: Launch

Serafinn used social media to find twenty-two joint venture partners, with whom she created an Amazon bestseller campaign on the day her self-published book launched -- both in England, where she lives, and in the United States, where she was born.

Stage Three: Post-Launch

She implemented creative ongoing strategies for promoting her book and her business.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Now that you know the overall strategy Serafinn used -- a near-perfect model of savvy book promotion -- here are the specifics for all three stages:

When she began writing her book in the spring of 2007, Serafinn soon made it a point to educate herself about self-publishing and book promotion -- by taking every seminar she could fit into her schedule.

The upshot? She realized that a well-orchestrated campaign was essential, if her book was to attract the attention of vast numbers of readers who didn’t yet know she existed.

::: Stage One // Pre-Launch:

Building a Pre-Publication Platform

A year before her book -- The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self -- appeared, Serafinn chronicled her book-writing progress in the online newsletter for her coaching business. Readers responded so enthusiastically to her book diary that it built “buzz,” word-of-mouth excitement about her upcoming release.

Eight months prior to publication, Serafinn created a free article series which attracted hundreds of new people to her mailing list. Once signed up, they also got her newsletter -- with its book updates in each issue. Many of these new subscribers bought the book when it came out, because they’d become fans through her free offerings. (Meanwhile, the article series became the basis for Serafinn’s second book, coming out later this year.)

Next, she created multiple venues for a growing audience of potential readers to interact with her -- for the most part, on line -- because she knew that relationship-building was key:

· Becoming active in groups and forums that targeted her mind-body-spirit + coaching market on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Ning, she also joined Twitter, following and being followed by people in the same niche.

· Ramping up her social media activity even further, she started her own groups on Facebook and Ning, wisely christening both with the title of her book, “Garden of the Soul”:

· Months before launch, she created a blogsite for her book:

· Around the same time, she created her own Internet radio show -- “Lynn Serafinn’s Garden of the Soul” -- built around her book’s content: She invited many of the mind-body-spirit professionals she’d met on social media sites to be guests on her show.

· Leaving no online media “unturned,” Serafinn next created sensuous promotional book videos -- book trailers -- in which she used her own well-trained voice to read selections from her book (a professional musician earlier in her career, she presented her work with consummate skill and a charming English accent):

· She hired a publicist to help coordinate a virtual blog tour with fifteen blog stops, as well as pre-launch interviews on six Internet radio shows.

· Finally, she created a simple but buzz-building Twitter contest, offering a free book to the lucky person who sent the winning tweet.

::: Stage Two // Launch:

Amazon Bestseller Campaign

Three months before her book’s launch date, Serafinn found twenty-two joint venture partners -- all business owners in the mind-body-spirit world -- through her social media sites.

In April, she and her partners coordinated three separate email “blasts” to their respective mailing lists, offering free bonuses from each one ( -- with the purchase of Serafinn’s book on

Serafinn’s campaign was wildly successful. Within hours of her book launch on April 7, Garden of the Soul was a bestseller on Amazon’s UK and American sites (number 89 for all books, in every category, in both countries).

::: Stage Three // Post-Launch:

Promoting Her Book to Promote Her Business

Some might be forgiven for assuming that a book’s promotion ends the minute it enters the marketplace -- when, in fact, what went before merely represents the beginning. Why is that?

Promoting an expertise book is itself a vehicle for promoting the service business that gave rise to it. In other words, the book’s value (from a marketing perspective) lies in its unique ability to attract buyers for everything else an author provides: services, workshops, other info-products.

As a result, Serafinn is now managing an ever-growing constellation of promotional strategies and activities, upcoming events, and future plans. Here are her main efforts, post-launch:

· After creating an online media kit for her book’s blogsite, she began using a press release service (offered by her self-publisher) to attract radio interviews, articles in newspapers and magazines, book reviews, and requests by magazines and blogs for her bylined articles.

· At the same time, she began doing a lot of public speaking -- at libraries, mind-body-spirit fairs, and through chapters of her organization for holistic practitioners, the Global Wellness Circle (, as well as for International Women’s Day, and other special interest groups.

· In her future are plans for a week in-residence at the One World Festival in west England, where she’ll present workshops on the principles of her book. She’s also planning one-woman shows that combine performance and coaching.

These public engagements attract people who not only buy her book, they sign up for her coaching services, weekend workshops, and longer retreats, as well.

But there’s one other plan Serafinn is ready to unveil: a retreat, later this year, aimed at helping would-be authors use her book’s teachings to become “the hero of your own life.”

For if it’s true, as the aphorism says, that “You teach what you need to learn,” then Serafinn might agree that it applies to her, too. Because -- and though it’s beyond the scope of this post -- she most assuredly has learned to be the hero of her own life.

To discover why this is so, please read Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self. You can buy a copy, or contact the author about book promotion strategies, at her book's blogsite:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Box Your Can't-Get-Started Blues

The most difficult problem you face in writing your book can be summarized in just two words.

Getting started.

You have a brilliant idea, of course, and an outline or some notes. Maybe even a chapter draft, or two. But now what?

If you are like most will-be authors, you begin casting about for other things that demand your attention -- first.

The birdfeeder needs cleaning. The gardening stuff at the back of the garage needs weeding. Heck, the entire garage needs to be emptied and put back in pristine order. It's good feng shui, you tell yourself.

In other words, after the brilliant idea, the outline, the notes, and the drafts, you've earned the right to your resistance.

Why? Because you don't know -- that is, know specifically -- what to do next with your book. Writing it feels so frustratingly vague, so frighteningly VAST.

So, you tackle the things that you do know how to do: birdfeeder, gardening stuff, garage. And then you feel guilty and pained. Uncomfortable.

But wait. You needn't be stuck in discomfort. There is a solution to resistance. A simple solution. It is a . . . Box.

Yes, a box. Not a literal box, but the imagined form of a box, which you can use as a magical tool to get to work on your book -- without suffering from let's-just-do-other-things-first-itis.

Here is what it takes to create a Box:

::: First, you set a "start" time for your writing period. This is the top of your imagined box. (10:00 AM, say)

::: Second, you set a "stop" time. This is the bottom of your imagined box. (11:00 AM, say)

::: Third, you write a list of small and very specific tasks that you will complete during your allotted sixty minutes of writing time. This is one side of your imagined box. (For example: Write notes for Intro, list contents for Chapter Three, check Amazon for books about _____)

::: Fourth, you check off each task as you complete it (surprisingly reinforcing), during your pre-set writing time. This is the other side of your imagined box. (Notes: check; Contents: check; Amazon: check)

Why does this oh-so-simple Box strategy work?

Because, when you know precisely what you need to do, your mind will help you walk down precisely that road . . . writing the notes, listing the contents, doing the research.

But when you don't know, how is your mind going to help you do that? It isn't possible.

And so, your mind presents you with all sorts of other tasks, tasks it does know how to do -- a brilliant solution for an unsolvable problem!

But the take-away is: it really is up to you to tell your mind what to do. And you can do that best by creating a Box: Start Time, Stop Time, List of Tasks, Checklist (aka: Top, Bottom, One Side, Other Side).

One word of caution: Begin using the Box by assigning yourself a short, thirty-minute work period with a few quickly accomplished tasks. Practice a little, before you Box a full-out session of, say, two hours or more.

While you're planning your starter session, I'll tell you how I happened to invent this resistance-dissolving tool.

Several years ago, after my parents passed away, I was faced with the overwhelming job of organizing and selling the accumulated (and I do mean accumulated) contents of their home. I spent days wandering from room to room and floor to floor, wondering where to begin.

Finally, I started writing down what needed to be done in each room. And what needed to be done overall. And what might come first, second, third, fourth . . . By writing lists, I made sense of the seeming chaos that had no discernible starting point for establishing order.

After that, I made a task list for my first day of real work, drawing courage from the preliminary order that my Big Picture lists had given me.

But in reading my task list, I felt myself slipping into avoidance. Should get light bulbs before stores close. Only seven hours left.

Thirty-five things shouted up at me from my task list on that first day. Important Task! Very Essential Task! Get This Done, or Else!

But, I reasoned, I had all day, so. Why not take a break, for right now? Go buy those light bulbs.

Ironically, a light bulb went off in my mind, just then. The avoidance-busting Box solution had arrived.

I made a new list, one with just three things on it. Then I looked at my watch, gave myself an hour, told myself that if I got all three things done in under sixty minutes, I could have a small reward. Thus primed and motivated, I set to work. And it worked.

After my reward (not buying light bulbs), I Boxed another hour's worth of tasks and churned through my second set.

On good days, I was able to get through seven or eight work periods this way, leaving my parents' house after nine or ten in the evening, driving an hour and a half to get home and feed my cat, before falling into bed, exhausted. In the end, I got it all done by using the Box. There were estate sales, the house sold, and the rest is a strategy that can be used for anything.

But it is especially helpful for authors struggling to leap over their resistance to writing . . .The Book.

So, whenever you feel stuck, just remember this little resistance-dissolving mantra:

Start Time, Stop Time,
Task List, Checklist.

Box Your Book Time,
You . . . Won't . . . Resist, BigTime.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

And the Lesson of the Susan Boyle Story Is . . . ?

Not what you might think.

That is, not what you might think -- if you are an author or will-be author.

You've most likely heard of Susan Boyle, the Scottish singer whose jaw-dropping performance has inspired adoration worldwide.

She appeared on Britain's Got Talent, an English program similar to American Idol, the famous amateur talent venue, on April 11.

Since her televised audition, millions upon millions (120 million, so far) have watched Susan Boyle sing "I Dreamed a Dream" on the video-sharing site, YouTube. And many of those millions have watched her video again and again, and yet again.

. . . Watched the awkward first moments on stage . . . her unlikely physical appearance . . . the smirks and snickers from the audience . . . the smarmy questions from Simon Cowell, well-known as the verbally bruising judge on American Idol.

And then the moment comes when she sings. Her voice is beautiful and strong and hopeful. It is professionally trained and disarmingly real -- sounding a bit like Julie Andrews, or Judy Garland.

In mere seconds, the audience is on its feet, clapping and cheering. Even Cowell's face transforms, and the smile he wears as he gazes up at her, stage microphone in her hand, is sweetly beatific.

This is Susan Boyle's miracle. She inspires "the better angels of our nature" in those first seconds when the contrast -- between our expectations of her and what she actually delivers -- cracks open our hearts like walnuts.

Her sweetness and soaring talent force us to find our own sweetness. We can't help it, really. We go there willingly, overjoyed at her triumph.

All around the world, people have the same response -- only too happy to clap, tear-up, and cheer. National differences dissolve. They mean nothing. For her audience has become humanity.

Of course, the sheer magnitude of our response to Susan Boyle is not because of our unbridled interest in a talent contest video.

It's because Susan Boyle is completely . . . herself. The self who is immensely talented. And the self who contradicts all expectations about appropriate self-presentation for very public consumption.

Beautiful on the inside, she forces us to see our superficial standards as silly and empty. Honest and guileless, she forces us to see their opposites -- qualities our celebrities so often express -- as, again, silly and empty.

Not that we actually think these things.

Watching her performance, we absorb her meaning instantly. Beyond any capacity for thought, there's something about Susan Boyle that we just "get." Even the Simon Cowells among us do.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Now here's the question. What is the lesson of the Susan Boyle story for authors?

There are, actually, many lessons, but they all begin with this. By embodying the dream that authors so often have -- the dream of achieving a breakthrough triumph -- she both raises and answers the question of how such an achievement is possible.

So here is how it's possible. How she did it.

Susan Boyle has been singing since she was twelve years old. Her talent surfaced early, so she performed locally many times. In her thirties, she took weekly voice lessons for several years (acting lessons, as well), and, in between working and caring for her elderly mother, performed whenever she could.

From this part of her story, the lesson for authors might be that the cultivation of even a very obvious talent requires support -- teachers, venues, and the encouraging applause of a community -- in order to grow and develop, over time.

Then, there is the element of timing. Susan Boyle has said that she's ready now, whereas she wasn't before (there was one disastrous audition when she was so nervous she could barely sing). And since her mother passed away two years ago, at ninety-five, she no longer has her former primary-caretaker preoccupation.

For authors, the lesson is not that your life needs to be empty of responsibilities. Rather, that by giving yourself all the time and training you need to strengthen your talent and psyche -- so you can accept public attention without wilting -- you are respecting your own proper timing for the unfolding of your gift.

Still another aspect of Susan Boyle's life was crucial for her success. She was deeply motivated by a desire to make her mother's wish come true. They had watched Britain's Got Talent on television together, and, Susan said, "She thought I'd win, if I entered."

To posthumously please her mother, she did. And whether she wins the final round of BGT or not, she has won millions of fans, worldwide.

For authors, the lesson may be that the single most important reason for cultivating your talent, beyond your joy in expressing it, needs to be something larger than yourself. You need to have some vision for your work, a purpose beyond yourself -- if not someone you love and want to please.

One last aspect of the Susan Boyle story stands out: Her strength of character. Apart from her gracious and forthright answers for reporters, her response to the unimaginable pressure of sudden global fame and adulation has been very instructive. It confirms what we see in her -- that she is genuine, through and through.

Asked whether she'd consider a "makeover," she has repeatedly said no, not right now. And though she has acknowledged that, in her own words, she "looks like a garage," she has also said: "I look like Susan Boyle. What's wrong with that?" Indeed.

For authors, the lesson might be that the positive estimation of the world is nothing -- is, in fact, worse than nothing -- without solid self-worth. Sometimes, authors think success will give them a pumped-up value, at least the outside kind. But it doesn't work that way. The more you value yourself, the more likely it is that the world will, too.

Look at it this way: a person whose self-esteem rested solely upon the opinion of others would never have taken the stage as Susan Boyle.

And so, from this gifted woman's story, we can discern six immediate lessons (though many others exist) that are helpful to authors.

Writing talent may be a gift, but it needs to be cultivated, expressed, and celebrated -- a gift is also a responsibility.

Nurturing your talent through training strengthens and develops it, so it is ready to be shared.

The support of family and community is helpful, and maybe critical, to the unfolding of your talent -- from its modest first emergence to its full flowering, over time.

The issue of timing when sharing your gift with the larger world may be individual and tricky, but it can determine the eventual outcome. Have respect for your own proper timing when deciding whether it is time to seek publication.

Your character -- your emotional maturity -- will determine how you handle success, whether badly, or well.

Finally, what you need as a gifted writer is an additional spark, a reason to succeed that is larger than yourself alone.

Susan Boyle's spark seemed to come from her relationship with her mother. The unwavering belief of someone so important, someone she loved, inspired her to audition once more. And her mother was right.

Beliefs, like dreams, come true.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Dog-Paddling Feeling that Fuels Writers

In defining the qualities writers need to succeed, persistence is often cited. Actually, though, it is beside the point.

The ability writers possess to doggedly pursue their writing doesn't come from an abstract quality of character. It comes from love. Writers love the experience writing gives them. And they love their vision of the writing that's mesmerizing their attention right now. But the primacy of love for writers may be easier to see in a story that mirrors it, however indirectly.

An Australian dog made minor news some months ago, after being washed from the deck of a yacht in rough seas. Shark-infested rough seas. His owners risked their own lives searching for him, but after many futile and desperate hours, they sadly returned to shore.

Meanwhile, their much-loved family dog kept dog-paddling, until he reached an island five miles away. There he lived for four months, before being found by the few people who also lived there. In time, they arranged to return him to the mainland. And his astonished family had a tearful, tail-wagging and face-licking reunion.

How did this otherwise ordinary dog manage such a feat of suvival? Was it the instinctual will to live? Was it pure luck? Maybe. What's more likely, though, is this: here was a dog who really wanted to return to his family. They loved him, and he loved them. He had a reason to survive. And it pulled him through the ocean for five miles, and got him through four months of survivalist ingenuity.

Love allows us to do amazing things. It is stronger -- in non-human and human animals, both -- than anything else. By comparison, persistence is no match for, say, shark-infested rough seas.

Love, on the other hand, keeps dog-paddling, driven by the need to return to what it loves best. Whether that's a family of doting humans. Or the all-consuming and enlivening effort of putting words on a page.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Turn Your Writing Bloopers into . . . "Blooperade"

As a writer . . . you probably know
there are creative ways of handling
just about anything. Anything at all.

What you may not know, maybe not yet, is that all those "bloopers" (which arise when you are working on something new, and perhaps never before seen) can be cause for exhilarating inspiration. If not hilarity.

Here's an example from another pursuit entirely. On the wall-mounted television at the gym the other day, a gaggle of Famous Old Golfers (names you'd recognize, even if you know nothing, and don't care to, about golf) were ceremoniously putting, and driving, and walking across an immaculately maintained, bright-green course. They were surrounded by hundreds of onlookers, politely lined up on either side of their grassy line of play.

And then, it happened. Famous Old Golfer squinted off into the distance, sighting the next drive, and loomed briefly over a tiny ball perched on a tinier tee. He swung smoothly and watched confidently as his ball soared upwards into a majestic arc, plummeting perfectly. Into the lake.

No one laughed. No one reacted at all.

Which is too bad. We all have these moments, no matter what kind of work we do. And I, for one, would have liked to see those famous old guys have fun with something that, while embarrassing, was pretty darn funny. Given the ultra-serious circumstances, and all.

Because it's a question of giving in. To the rock-bottom humanity within all our effortful endeavors. Saying Okay to whatever results. And turning our bloopers -- like the proverbial lemons into lemonade -- into, well, "blooperade."

But. How do you make something good out of a wrong turn in your writing?

First, you laugh. Then, you see if there isn't some way to turn the miscast part on its head. Or inside out. Or even just start all over again.

Jump into the lake. Retrieve your ball. And see if writing from a different perspective doesn't salvage the day.

Maybe you'll get a brand new insight -- one you never would have had -- were it not for the miscast section that's staring up at you, right there on page 82.

Blooperade. Don't write anything without it.