Goodness grace-ness me – handling it with aplomb

Grace. The word or name conjures up wonderful feelings of spirituality, humility and beauty.

It also reminds me of the importance of having grace under pressure.

In my professional and personal life I have endured many high stress situations and events.

Working in crisis communication for example meant always expecting the unexpected, and sometimes horrible things happened and you had to be one to keep your cool and put appropriate words to it.

I’ve always been great at handling the BIG STUFF pressure and handling it with aplomb.

However it’s everyday pressure I’m not great with.

When small things happen that trigger my dominant personality traits, my instant reaction is to…react.

I don’t like the feeling that I may miss a deadline, or won’t deliver on something I promised or to the standard I wished, despite the fact I never miss a due date and my work is always high quality.

This perceived fear is my danger zone.

So when I’m up against delivery I tend to get more extroverted (I have to let everyone know I’m up against it), and that is not when I adopt extreme laser focus beyond all reason and become totally intolerant of interruptions.

Not pleasant I know.

Coping mechanisms perhaps. Learnt behaviours maybe. The good news is that I am a lot more aware of my reactions and can temper them more quickly or avoid them all together at times.

My ultimate goal though is to always act with grace under all types pressure. To be elegant and show great restraint under even the most trying circumstances.

I’m going to be that duck on the pond—above the water it all looks to be gliding smoothly, although underwater those legs are going a million miles an hour. Better yet…I’ll be a swan.

‘Grace’ is today’s word out of the jar. Read more about my . 

Being Vulnerable Can Be Your Biggest Strength

Someone told me once, ‘you don’t wear your heart on your sleeve, you wear it all over you’.

I wasn’t sure if it was a compliment.

I asked myself, should I be less passionate? Would I better off having a poker face?

The answer is yes sometimes I would, because it would make me less vulnerable or less polarising in some situations. It would enable me to navigate workplace politics better.

So it would be easier in some ways, but it wouldn’t be authentic…it wouldn’t be me.

I’m okay with everyone not liking me…well most some of the time.

I’m not really interested in workplace politics.

And I’m okay with being vulnerable.

The below quote says it perfectly for me.

“Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. The new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e. open.”
― ,

Be vulnerable.

Share your story and self with others.

Take risks to go after what you want most.

Put yourself out there.

Show emotion and sadness when you need to.

Trust others.

Opening your heart to possible hurt and rejection also opens it to opportunities.

‘Vulnerable’ is today’s word out of the jar. Read more about my .  

Are You the Person Holding Yourself Back? It’s Time to Hold Yourself to Account

I like to think I hold myself to account. That I’m a responsible person. That I do what I say I’m going to do.

And when it comes to my clients, delivering on promises to friends and family, I’m pretty damn reliable.

When it comes to my own desires, goals and ambitions, I’m terrible at being accountable to myself.

I am going to finish that book, this year….next year….no the year after.

I’m going to eat healthier.

I’m going to look after myself.

I have great intentions and well laid out plans with big actions broken down into smaller ‘achievable’ tasks, but when it comes to the crunch I’m full of excuses for why I didn’t deliver on them.

I was busy with work, my family, I don’t have enough time or money, what if I fail…I should be doing [insert any task that’s for someone other than me] instead.

It’s time to hold myself to account.

The Cambridge Dictionary says someone who is accountable is for what they do and must be to give a for it.

So I’m failing on two fronts.

I’m not taking responsibility for myself, I’d prefer to shift the blame to everything and everyone else, and I don’t have a satisfactory reason for not delivering.

What exactly is stopping me from doing my personal tasks and sticking to them?

How can I make them an unbreakable and positive habit? I think the answer lies in deliberate practice.

I believe positive habits can only be formed if there is some form of positive reward and result. Positive results come from improved performance. And improved performance only comes from practice.

But not just any practice — .

I’m a complete novice when it comes the principle of deliberate practice, but I do know that it shouldn’t be confused with traditional practising methods.

I really like this article by James Clear:  that outlines the difference between practising with purpose and consciousness, compared to mindless repetition.

He explains that deliberate practice is purposeful and systematic, and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.

“Deliberate practice always follows the same pattern: break the overall process down into parts, identify your weaknesses, test new strategies for each section, and then integrate your learning into the overall process.”

He says the greatest challenge is to maintain focus, because we can easily fall back into mindless repetition of tasks, and overlook small errors and daily opportunities for improvement.

Clear goes on to explain that one of the biggest differences between deliberate practice and simple repetition is feedback gained through measurement and coaching.

“The things we measure are the things we improve. This holds true for the number of pages we read, the number of pushups we do, the number of sales calls we make, and any other task that is important to us. It is only through measurement that we have any proof of whether we are getting better or worse.”

I want to improve. I want to be accountable to myself. Perhaps deliberate practice is the key.

‘Accountable’ is today’s word out of the jar. Read more about my .  

Stuck in a Rut or a Funk? It’s Time to Reboot

We all have those days, weeks or years even.

You’re stuck in a rut, or a funk that you just can’t escape from.

Maybe you feel like you have no energy, or so overwhelmed by the tasks ahead that you do nothing instead.

Or maybe you feel like you have lost your mojo.

I for one, have just come off an incredibly busy few months of refining my and , where I set myself some very ambitious targets.

The great news is that I completed all the tasks I needed to do, but now I have fallen flat.

I know there is a bunch of things I should be doing now, but I feel a little deflated and the fuel tank is empty.

It’s time to reboot.

Like when your computer is running a little slowly or not performing as it should, there are times we need to reboot.

Unfortunately it’s not as easy as pressing an on-off button, or clicking ‘refresh’.

I’m not an expert in this rebooting stuff but here’s a few things I’m going to do this week.

  • Get some rest
  • Take it easy on myself – what really needs to be done, and what can wait?
  • Get some exercise and make some diet changes
  • Revisit my goals and work plan
  • Take some time out and enjoy myself
  • Reconnect with family and friends
  • Congratulate myself and celebrate what I have achieved so far
  • Remind myself that I am on the right track and will start moving again after a short rest stop
  • Put a deadline to the rest stop.

So Ciao for now…I’m going offline to reboot.

‘Reboot’ is today’s word out of the jar. Read more about my .  


3 Things Infinity War Can Teach Us About Belonging

Belonging is a key theme in my fiction writing. To stay in the know about my writing projects and to receive regular writing tips and articles like this, .

How to Stay Motivated When Writing a Novel

Tips for Staying Motivated

Want to Make Money as an Author? Start Thinking Like a Brand

If you think that creating a beautifully written book is enough to guarantee a best-seller, I have bad news for you.

A well-written book is a great start, and if you’ve got one ready to go, I congratulate you on the herculean effort I know that went into it.

Unfortunately though, if you want to make money out of book sales, you need to wrap your head around something that may seem like the complete antithesis of creative writing.

You need to start thinking of yourself as a brand.

If you write strictly for a hobby, that is, you don’t want, or need, to make money from selling your books, at ease. You can go back to trawling through social media/watching reality TV/reading a book, doing whatever you were doing before.

The rest of you though, don’t go anywhere. Trust me, I’ll know if you stop reading now. : )

Run It Like a Business

A very wise publishing friend of mine recently told me that the most difficult part of working with his clients is convincing them why they should act like they are running a business.

The leap from writing books to running a business, isn’t as big as you may think.

Businesses sell products – you (I assume) want to sell books (products).

Running a business requires financial and time management – so does writing. Whether you’re squeezing it in between your day job or family commitments, you will need to juggle your time and resources to pursue a career as an author.

Importantly, successful businesses need to invest time and effort into marketing.

For authors, aspiring or otherwise, your marketing (or lack of it) has the potential to make or break your writing career.

This is why, you hear so much about why you should build your author brand or platform.

Start Thinking Like a Brand

Authors are brands, whether they like to think of themselves that way or not.

***Brand is the only thing that matters when the market is saturated***

Okay, brand may not be the only thing, but I don’t need to tell you that the book marketplace is super competitive, and brand is often the difference between an author gaining cut through or not.

While it pains me to say this, many brilliantly written books may never make it to a book store, or generate the sales they deserve, without brand recognition.

When Should I Start Developing My Brand?

If you’re an aspiring author, you may believe you don’t have to worry about this ‘marketing stuff’ yet.

Sorry to rain on your parade.

The best time to start marketing yourself as an author is ASAP!

The more time you have to build your platform and generate interest, as well as followers, the easier it will be when you do publish your book. This applies whether you self-publish or have a traditional publisher.

First-up, you want to create a brand that agents, publishers, influencers and other book industry types want to support and invest in.

Start creating a brand now that your target audience, and readers, can really connect to, so when you do launch your book, you have a ready-made fan club buying it, and telling all of their friends to buy it too.

So What Do I Do?

Fortunately, I’m not just hear to dump bad news on you.

I want to help.

In the spirit of sharing the love I created a FREE mini e-course on how to .

The course is based on my successful HOW TO Marketing program I use with business owners, and informed by 21+ years of my professional writing experience, and what I know as a Certified Practising Marketer.

How Does It Work?

Once you sign up for FREE, you will receive one email-lesson a week with simple tips on how to build your author brand. It is completely up to you how and when you complete the suggested activities.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for the  and you can get started immediately.

KonMari, the Cabinet and the Cliché – Flash Fiction

Another freakin’ candle. How many was that now? I’d lost count after the eleventh one. I read the embossed label. Leather and cedar infusion – what the…?  

“Okay, candle. Thank you for…I don’t know what, and goodbye.” I chuck the candle into the donation box.     

I was nearly finished with the fourth KonMari category, komono, or miscellaneous items.  

Now you won’t find any Instagram posts of my perfect rows of underwear and fitting sheets standing to attention in their origami-like forms, because that’s not why I’m doing this.  

The ‘clean-out’ had been a long time coming – my therapist will attest to that. Marie Kondo with her ‘Does it spark joy?’ test was just the final kick in the butt I needed. It gave me permission to move on and dispose of things that no longer served me.  

When I started with clothing, I shed rivers of tears farewelling the maternity clothes, a collection of the barely and never worn. Then there were the piles of T-shirts and shorts he hadn’t bothered to take with him. Next, were our shared mountains of books, paper, and endless komono. 

Then I got angry. Angry that I was left to clean out his…‘our’ crap, and that he’d been able to tap out when it had got too hard. He’d left his…‘our’ life behind. He’d got his clean slate with Lisa, sweet and uncomplicated Lisa, super-fertile Lisa. How many kids did they have now? That was another thing I’d lost count of.  

The anger had sustained me over the weeks. It had enabled me to deal with even the most sentimental items. Sorry, Marie, I jumped a step, but damn it felt good when I burnt that box filled with love letters he’d written me, the movie stubs from our first date and the wedding garter he’d insisted I wear.  

Now all that was left was the hall cabinet. I’d nearly forgotten about it. I walked past it dozens of times every day, but its shelves and drawers were nothing more than a catch-all for all forms of junk. It was where useless and half-broken items went to die – a shrine to things that had outlived their purpose. 

The ‘goodbyes’ came thick and fast as I tossed everything from loose screws and dried out tubes of super glue. In no time the cabinet was empty. It was completely bare and waiting to be refilled with new junk – junk from my new life. All of a sudden, I felt scared, terrified of the ‘what ifs’ that lay ahead. Would the new junk be any better than the old junk? Then it hit me.  

For the first time in my adult life, it would be ‘my’ junk and the ‘what ifs’ would all be of my own doing. I had chosen to live with the possibilities of ‘what if’ instead of surrounding myself with daily reminders of ‘if only’. I smiled stupidly to myself because as clichéd as it sounded, I had chosen joy.   

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Famous Authors Who Nail Their Marketing & What You Can Learn From Them

The idea of marketing yourself as an author can be understandably overwhelming, especially if you are in the early stages of your writing journey.

Aspiring authors may wonder what they can do to enhance their chances of making money from their future books. Recently published authors may question what they can do to increase their profile and book sales.

The answer to both of these conundrums is to look to authors who have made it big and see what we can learn from their approach to marketing.

Before we go any further, let me pre-empt and clear up one of the most common misconceptions about this topic. That is, the belief that “marketing is easy for authors who are already famous. They have an audience to market to”.

Let’s lay that one to rest straight away. I would go as far as saying that without exception the most successful authors put the time and effort into their marketing well before they were well-known.

Even if you are starting with an audience of one, it’s better than not starting at all. The sooner you can get a headstart on your marketing the better.

Across the board, successful authors took steps to connect with and give to their audience or ‘community’ early on.

Here are some other key marketing lessons we can learn from famous authors.

J.K. Rowling – Leverage Your World-Building

Let’s be honest, I could spend all day unpacking the genius that is J.K. Rowling but in this post, I’m going to focus on just one element of her marketing strategy.

The Harry Potter series came with in-built marketing opportunities, thanks to Rowling’s detailed world-building and fully fleshed-out characters.

Rowling continues to share character insights and tidbits about the series today through the site. Fans can join the Pottermore community for free and complete quizzes that will uncover your wizarding identity, Hogwarts House, Patronus and more.

Content from this site is also shared across social media platforms to continue to feed fans and enthusiasm for the Potter brand.

If you have gone to the trouble of creating rich characters and places, you should look for ways to leverage this knowledge.

This is particularly the case for fantasy writers who often go to extreme lengths for world-building, in terms of language, locations, magic and more.

Look for ways to share little snippets from your books and world on social media and your website that may not even appear in your written work. The more you share, the more real your world becomes and the more likely fans are to engage in it and invest in your work.

Know and Appreciate Your Fan-base

E.L. James – Fan Fiction

Fifty Shades of Grey is one of those books that when mentioned at a writer event is likely to spark a fierce debate about its artistic merit. I tried to read it and 80 pages in decided it wasn’t for me. However, no one can deny that there is obviously a market for this kind of fiction and I’m of the belief that those who don’t like it don’t need to stick their nose up at it.

I for one celebrate the fact that E.L. James wrote a book series that was highly successful (at one point it was said to be selling paperback copies faster than the Harry Potter series) and her fans LOVE it.

This brings me to the marketing lesson of knowing and appreciating your fan base, and E.L. James absolutely nailed that.

James promoted Fifty Shades of Grey in several ways before it went from relative self-published obscurity to a worldwide phenomenon.

It was originally fan fiction for the Twilight series where her episodic pieces soon gained a fan-base.

She nurtured and continually fed this community with regular content she knew her fans would love, until changing the names of the characters, and putting the book on her website.

James also gained grass-roots support by reaching out to relevant book bloggers.

A major part of her success was making her content accessible (and initially free via fan fiction) and nurturing her following.

Elizabeth Gilbert – Facebook Community

If you’re looking for an example of an author who understands her fanbase and how to create a Facebook community, go no further than Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic.  

Of all of her communication and social platforms, Gilbert appears to engage most on her . She tends to use Facebook as a mini-blogging platform with lengthy posts addressed to her community. Many of the posts start with the phrase, ‘Dear Ones’, where she speaks directly to each member of her community with honest,
insightful and heartfelt posts that are a signature of her brand.

The lesson here is, it doesn’t matter how or where you choose to develop your community, as long as you do make the effort to do so.

Understand your fans and speak directly to them, giving them the content they want.

Joanna Penn – The Self-publishing and Author Marketing Guru

In the self-publishing world, provides an authoritative and highly engaging voice for authors wanting to market themselves.

Author of Successful Self-Publishing: How to self-publish and market your book, Penn has the highly successful Creative Penn podcast and at , provides extensive resources and tips on how to market yourself.

Penn is an award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, so knows her stuff and is generous with her knowledge.

There is not enough room here to cover all of her marketing lessons but two quotes from Successful Self-Publishing encapsulates the core of her philosophy and what we all can learn from.

“Writing is about you. Publishing is about the book. Marketing is about the reader.”

“Branding is your promise to the reader. It’s the words, images, and emotions that surround your work and the way readers think of you.”

Scott Pape ‘The Barefoot Investor’ – Give Freely

When it comes to non-fiction in Australia, no one has reached the same heights of success in recent times as Scott Pape with The Barefoot Investor.

Pape’s book sold 250,000 copies in the first six months of its release and has topped Australia’s best-selling book lists month-on-end, ahead of non-fiction and fiction titles.

A lot of Pape’s success comes down to his branding nous and giving freely to the audience.

At his , you can access loads of free resources and content. Visitors to his site then have the option of purchasing his book or joining his membership program.

The idea of giving free stuff to visitors to your site (or via other channels) is that you are giving them a taster and reward for connecting with you. It provides a gateway and conversation starter to encourage them to buy your book, product or services.

The lesson here is to offer something for free such as blog articles or downloadable resources.

You should also include a call to action to sign-up for regular content such as a newsletter where you can promote your paid assets, and potentially convert prospects to sales.

You may also like to have a higher value item such as the first few pages of your book, a short story, or exclusive resources, on your site that can only be accessed by providing an email first.

Finally, make your paid products for sale and very visible on your site, preferably only one click away from your free content.

These are just a few lessons from famous authors and tips to get started with your marketing. What are you waiting for? Get started today!

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Can’t Find Time for Writing? Then You’re Not Busy Enough

You have probably heard the saying that if you want something done, you should ask someone who’s busy, and I have found this to be true when it comes to my creative writing.

The last couple of months have been some of the busiest of my life. I got two new clients for my business, which both involve steep learning curves and a lot more work. Plus I was offered two amazing speaking opportunities that involved a lot of workshop development and prep work.

At the same time, an idea for a new book started pestering me. This idea was very loud and persistent, demanding it be written. The problem was that I had three unrelated manuscripts in varying stages of completion – polishing, editing and revising.

There were no specific deadlines for these manuscripts so I was just chipping away at them when I ‘could’, while simultaneously lamenting that the process was taking forever.

Goals, Targets, and Deadlines

I wasn’t prepared to put the other manuscripts on hold, so instead I set myself some ambitious goals, which were realsitic if I buckled down.

I set myself word count targets and a deadline for completing the various stages of each work-in-progress book.

For my new ‘idea’ I set myself a goal of entering the completed manuscript in a specific competition in 12 months time. Working backward I laid out a plan and a timeline that started with research while I finished off the other books.

There was the tiny issue that I was incredibly busy with my business, as well as many other parts of everyday life which include being a mum to an 8-year-old boy.

The Difference Between Being Busy & Out of Control

It didn’t take long before I was feeling overwhelmed. I’m a trained journalist and the idea of missing deadlines (even if they are self-imposed), doesn’t sit well with me.

I’m also someone who likes to feel in control of most aspects of my life.

While I know I am way more productive when I’m busy, I don’t like being the kind of busy where you feel like you are spinning multiple plates and if just one of them falls, everything will come tumbling down.

I needed to put order into my life.

Order and Routine

Deciding to ‘Marie Kondo’ my whole house at the same time may seem counterintuitive to the idea of finding time to write. But doing a massive tidy up, starting with my desk, removed not just physical clutter but mental clutter from my life.

I created a space that I love turning up to every day and it has made a world of difference to my sense of calm and productivity.

I also put in place a routine to write every day (Monday to Friday). I know this isn’t practical for everyone but what I found was that my target word count became easier to achieve each day as I had momentum from the previous day.

In the past, I had only made time a couple of times or maybe even one day a week to write, and I found I wasted time having to catch up with where I had left off.

Why Busy Is Better

There have been periods when I wasn’t as busy with my client work and I could have spent more time on my writing but for some reason, I wasn’t motivated to get on with it.

At times I dreaded it because I had left it too long between drinks and not regularly immersing myself in my fictional world had dulled my enthusiasm.

The lack of a goal with a specific timeframe also affected my motivation.

Now with so much on my plate, I feel like I am kicking goals in several areas of my life. Having small wins in other activities, gives me the lift I need to write.

And even when something isn’t going right with my creative writing, I gain strength from other parts of my life – like , don’t put too much pressure on your writing by making it the only thing to focus on.

I counter my really busy periods by not working weekends and rarely working at night. This ensures I have time for family, friends and me.

So yes I am crazy busy during the limited hours I do work, but it seems to be working.

I have learnt how to be incredibly efficient with the time I have and am more productive than ever.

Don’t take my word for it though, the science agrees. can increase motivation and reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a task.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get busy.

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