Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Self-Publishing Vs. Hybrid Models and Traditional Publishing


By Michelle Gamble-Risley, CEO, 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com)

I get frequently asked if my company 3L Publishing is a self-publisher (we are a hybrid publisher), and what is the difference between 3L’s services and self-publishing and traditional publishing? The answer isn’t simple. I am going to give you a check sheet that shows what 3L Publishing provides as a hybrid publisher vs. the other models.

Caveat: Every publishing house is different. Other publishers may provide some of the services I’m not checking off. Please don’t take any missing checkmarks as misleading information. The information is general and not specific to any one publisher. I’ve been criticized in the past for not providing a complete picture. If I’ve missed anything, please feel free to share. My intention is only to help clarify the marketplace and answer questions not mislead or misdirect.

Also, you may read this and feel it’s slanted in favor of my company. Be advised: for new and emerging authors the hybrid model is the easiest way to publish your book with fewer headaches. Getting bookstore distribution for individual authors is nearly impossible unless your book has a consistent, long-term sales track record. When you chose a hybrid publisher you will automatically get distribution as part of your contract. Additionally, it’s a lot of work to publish a book and requires multiple skill sets that writers often do not possess. And I’m only the messenger. You are free to take this sheet and use it for comparative shopping.

Self-Publishing
Anyone can hire an editor or graphic artist and find a printer. All writers can self-publish if they wish to undertake such an endeavor with little or no experience. True self-publishing involves the writer acting as the “project manager” and hiring the required services. Note to would-be publishers/writers: you cannot skimp on hiring assistance from editors or artists. Even if you’re a professional editor by trade it will hurt you. Why? Because even the editor needs an editor; and no one wants to be embarrassed by errors.

This checklist precludes the writer who decides to truly do it on his or her own. Some self-publishing services do provide resources for writers.
ü  Editorial Services
ü  Graphic Art
ü  Potential Cover Art Templates
ü  Print-on-Demand (POD) Services (sometimes)*
ü  Pay for Service
ü  100% Royalties (you sell and fill orders yourself)

*Print-on-demand services such as Lulu or Lightspeed sometimes offer editorial and graphic services as part of different publishing programs you can purchase.

Hybrid Publishing
My company 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com) falls into this category. A hybrid publisher crosses self-publishing and traditional publishing services to offer a robust alternative to other models.
ü  Full-Service Editorial (from ghost writing to proofreading)
ü  Full-Service Graphic Art
ü  Pre-Press Production
ü  Printer Options (large print quantities to POD)
ü  E-book Conversion Services
ü  Amazon Distribution and Order Fulfillment
ü  Bookstore Distribution and Order Fulfillment (via Baker and Taylor)
ü  E-Book Distribution to Kindle, Nook and iBook (Apple)
ü  Pay for Service
ü  Royalty Payment (35% to 100%)

Traditional publishing, which some consider the best route if you’ve got an established following and a demonstrable built-in market. New authors frequently hit barriers to this big industry due to lack of proven marketability and name recognition. Don’t be fooled though by people who suggest that services like 3L Publishing are not real publishers. Look at the way iTunes changed the record industry. Which would you rather have royalty-wise? Eight to 12 percent of 1,000 copies sold or 35 to 100 percent of 1,000 copies sold. When it takes considerable effort to sell 1,000 copies wouldn’t you prefer the profit stays with you and not a big corporation? Many big name authors now publish under their own labels just for this reason.

Here is what traditional publishing provides:

ü  Full-Service Editorial (from ghost writing to proofreading)
ü  Full-Service Graphic Art
ü  Pre-Press Production
ü  Print Books
ü  E-book Conversion Services
ü  Amazon Distribution and Order Fulfillment
ü  Bookstore Distribution and Order Fulfillment
ü  E-Book Distribution
ü  Pay for Service
ü  Royalty Payment (8% to 12%)*

*May vary slightly.

Book advances are almost unheard of these days unless you’re already a big name so don’t count on an advance.

For more information on 3L Publishing, please call 916-300-8012 or send an email to info@3LPublishing.com. You can log onto the website at www.3LPublishing.com.


New Release: Fates' Thread: A Memory of Jesus


Jesus of Nazareth lived as both the Son of God and as a mortal. As God’s servant he was charged to spread a new gospel within Judea. As a mortal, he had willingly subdued his feelings and desires until by accident he met an exceptionally kind and beautiful woman.

Julia, the lovely, cultured and married daughter of a Roman Centurion, ignited a special love in Jesus from the first time they met. Through a web of fateful encounters, Jesus came to know the amazing Roman woman he would grow to cherish and to love unconditionally.

Fates’ Thread is an epic story of the powerful love between Jesus, called the Son of God, and his soul mate Julia, the woman to whom he gave his heart. In this beautiful and poetic story, we see two people tempted by passion and their struggle to resist temptation, and we learn how their lives were changed forever by their love.

Fates Thread: A Memory of Jesus will be formally released just in time for Easter in April 2014. It retails for $14.95 and will be on sale on Amazon, 3L Publishing’s website at www.3LPublishing.com, and in select retail stores. It will also be available for as an eBook for Kindle, iBook and Nook.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Movie Review: The Other Woman

Rating: ***1/2

The Other Woman was a cute comedy with heart. The set up goes like this: Carmen Diaz's character unwittingly falls in love with a married man and one night decides to surprise him at his home in Connecticut. To her shock and embarrassment her man doesn't open the front door, but (a-hem) his wife greets her. Realizing her boyfriend is married, Diaz's character leaves, but his wife Kate (played by Leslie Mann) is suspicious. She looks on her husband's phone bill and is able to track down Diaz's character, a high-powered lawyer, at work. After realizing it's true that her husband is having an extramarital affair, Kate hyperventilates and causes such a scene that Diaz's character attempts to rescue her. From there, the real mayhem gets under way as the newly bonded women discover more than one mistress.

As a divorced woman who also had a relationship with a man who cheated, I felt Mann's pain. They did not gloss it over and make it cute or funny. As Kate goes through the cycle of grief and realization that her life is over, the story explored her feelings, and I felt that was important because infidelity and divorce are no laughing matters. The end is hilarious, and I don't want to spoil it. I recommend The Other Woman as a good frothy comedy with a lot of heart and kindness to the women who are hurt by the philanderer's cheating ways.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Online Dating Tips

Many of my single friends have shared some horror stories about online dating and using services like Match.com. Some of my favorite stories:
  • The woman who used online dating to get a free dinner every night of the week.
  • The woman who asked the guy to stop and get a drink before they even got to dinner.
  • The woman who brought her full-grown daughter to the dinner date and forced the guy to buy them both dinner.
  • The guy who sent his penis picture before asking the girl out just to "prove" he had the goods. 
Those stories are the minor ones that stand out and make me laugh or just shock me. I always wonder, who does this stuff? Apparently quite a few people. So I don't have any online dating horror stories to share, which isn't to suggest that I didn't use the online dating services; but I may not have used them as vigorously as some people.

So how did I avoid the pitfalls? My advice is going to be simple and may not apply to everyone. First, I always posted high-value photos, which cast a wider net and allowed me to be pickier and more discerning than most. On the first day I posted my profile I received 300 emails from men who wanted to meet me. In attracting so many candidates I could be much more discerning and take my time. I have to be honest nine out of 10 emails got largely ignored (probably more than that). If someone did manage to get past my discerning eye, I would evaluate the person based on the email sent. Men, I am giving you very important advice on email letters:
  • Don't be ridiculous or schmaltzy. Don't say the generic, I want to walk with you on a beach ... seriously the more cliche and ridiculous a letter, the less likely you'll get through the "barricade". 
  • Do be authentic and true. Be direct and honest about yourself and DO bother to read the girl's profile. Answer her profile to show you cared enough to read it.
  • Don't be superficial or shallow. I don't care if you think I'm beautiful ... that's nice, but frankly outer beauty doesn't reflect anything about inner beauty. If my looks got you to read my profile that is great, but that's about the only value in it. So telling me I'm beautiful to start a conversation will never work. And here is the thing, if the woman is truly beautiful it's very likely 100 guys opened their email with ... you're gorgeous ... you're pretty ... you're beautiful -- and so what? How am I supposed to respond to a single line: you're so beautiful? 
Girlfriends here is my advice for you to avoid the liars and weirdos:
  • You have a gut instinct use it. Online dating is your time to use your instincts. If something feels wrong with a guy chances are something is wrong.
  • If a guy doesn't post his profile picture, nix that one. He is probably married and doesn't want his wife to catch him so he only privately sends photos.
  • Look for honesty and direct sweetness and integrity. Believe me when I say, people reveal who they are. Do enough texting and emailing to evaluate whether this is a good guy but ... this is big! Don't put off meeting him too long. The elusive thing called chemistry can only be revealed on a date. You don't want to spend weeks in the email phase only to find out you share zero chemistry.
Does any of this help? I have more advice, but these are my best tips. As for me, I've met my prince so I'm done with the whole dating scene. It was fun to a certain extent, and if you want to just date to have fun then make it fun. Go do things and think of it as a way to meet new people. Dating doesn't have to be super serious if you don't want it to be. Go out and see what's out there. If you relax and don't put a serious stake in it you are more likely to meet your dream mate. My fiance Kirk dated a year and half and was ready to give up when he met me. He decided before our first date he wasn't going to care anymore, and look what happened? Life presented his dream girl. And sometimes that is how it goes.

Friday, April 25, 2014

What Works Best to Market Your Book?

What is the best way to market your book? A very good question that doesn't have a one-note answer. Like many products on the market, the best way to market something often depends on:

1. The buying mood of the public.
2. The way to reach the right audience.
3. Experimentation
4. Timing
5. Know when to hold or fold

How do you determine the answers to those five things? The no. #3 ... experimentation. With each book (or product for that matter) you have to try different avenues to see what sparks sales. For some books TV appearances generate sales and for others nothing. Book reviews generate sales -- sometimes. Feature stories create interest -- sometimes. To create what we call in marketing "the snowball effect" you have try different things. And sometimes it's not just one thing (a book review and a TV appearance) it's several things combined to create that perfect storm to spark interest. Then there is the last problem of no. #4 -- timing. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you do or how you do it, the time is not right and the public is not interested. In the case of timing, it might mean revisiting the project later on. This idea applies when a book is clearly a winner (it wins awards and accolades), but the sales have no followed. Finally no. #5 you have to recognize when you should hold and keep trying or pack it in and move to the next project. The decision to move on can be a disappointment; but at the end of the day you can chose to hold and try again, too. One of our books in the 3L catalog is about to sell its TV and film rights. Had that author folded too soon this fateful and profitable opportunity might not have come round.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Legal Ease

I have recently encountered some legal discussions, and I realized some people may not understand some realities of today's digital world. For unaware businesspeople who may not know I thought I would share the following information.

Texts--did you know that if a legal dispute comes up your text conversation can be used in court? Yes, the cell phone companies keep records and entire transcripts of text conversation can be pulled up and used in court. Agreements made in text are like a digital handshake and can be used to bolster your case.

Email--emails are the equivalent of that same digital handshake. An email can be used to show an agreement was made. Also, employees should be aware that email sent from their employer's machinery is subject to be monitored. Yes, employers can read their employees' emails. It's company property, and employees who use for personal reason should be aware of the legalities.

The best case is to always get a signed contract, but the text and email agreements will stand up in court, too. 


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cheap Tricks in Business

Over the years I've figured out some unusual ways to do business on the cheap. Who doesn't want to save a buck, right? So, here are some cheap tricks to do business with less expense...

Gmail is a great backup device. What I do is pay the annual $30 fee to buy extra storage space each year. I then have an automatic backup system for every document I send to my team, which equates to all of the documents. I don't have to buy extra storage devices. If I need to save something and back it up I send it to myself.

Blogger is free. If you're not looking for links to other blog sites and just need a straight-up blog tool then Blogger works great. My only expense is the graphic design required to keep my brand consistent. This expense is recurring about once every couple of years just to update the look. You can't beat free.

Pandora is mostly free. I listen to music all day long. I pay the extra $30 annual fee for Pandora for unlimited listening. I like Pandora because you can change channels and mix up music to adjust to your personal taste and preferences.

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is free. If you regularly pitch media to promote your business, use HARO. The reporters post what they're looking for in a story, and you can respond. It's a nice tool that gets delivered right to your in-box twice a day.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Movie Review: Transcendence

Rating: ***1/2

Transcendence was the type of thought-provoking script I would have written when I was still screenwriting (which I will return to doing in the future). The story revolves around the concept of uploading human consciousness into a mega data network that enables the invention and creation of nano technology to regenerate life. I studied nano technology back in the day, and the concept is indeed fascinating.

In the movie, our professor Dr. Will Caster and his wife Evelynn are partners in life and work. After a terrorist organization shoots Will with a radiation-loaded bullet, he dies a slow terrible death. During his death "march" Evelynn figures out how to upload his consciousness into the network. The movie then turns into the government trying to stop what many believe is a bad thing that could destroy the world.

I liked the movie. I thought it begged some interesting questions about technology and the human spirit. It was the type of movie in which you leave and think about the concepts and philosophy behind the story. I gave it 3.5 stars because I was a little reverent about it and not sure if I fully bought the ideas or not. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Comma Wars

Does anyone really agree on the use of the comma? Today on HARO (Help a Reporter Out) there was a link about comma usage. Just the other day my editorial intern discussed the Oxford comma usage. Do you have any idea how many different style guides exist? Just to name a few: Strunk and White, AP Style, Chicago Style, Masters of Language Arts ... and probably others. And yes, there is the Oxford too. I always chuckle when the infamous Grammar Police go nuts about certain complaints that are style-related. It is the comma though that has the most "proper" usage rules (and naturally the rules conflict).

If you're running a publication, the rule is simple: be consistent. Some publications have their own style guides. You can make up certain rules that are your editorial guidelines and the preferred style. The key is to apply the rule the SAME way every time. In that case you can easily point to your own style rules if someone says something. Believe me, the Grammar Police lurk. I once had someone edit my column and send it to me. It was clear this person took great pleasure in correcting my column. P.S., no one finds it cute or endearing to have someone correct their work (uninvited) like their 6th-grade English teacher. If it makes you feel literate and superior, my real question is why?

I do have a thought about being a great editor. The person who thinks he or she knows it all is not the great editor. You have to recognize and know when you don't know. The trick works like this: know what you know and know what you don't know. When you recognize your lack of knowledge you will be prompted to look it up vs. leave it as-is (and it turns out wrong). Because in print if it was wrong yesterday guess what? It's still wrong today. In the case a humble recognition of your strengths and weaknesses pays off. For example, I am rarely confidence with my use of effects vs. affects or lay vs. lie vs. laid, etc. But hey! I know I am not clear so I always look it up.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Business Enlightenment 101

I mentioned this on Facebook. I start each day in meditation. I recite mantras. Two days in a row I was meditating and fell back to sleep. All this means to me is that I am successfully clearing my mind. I've recently been in a bit of a down cycle. You know when things start to just not excite you anymore? My personal relationships have shifted. People have come and gone. I've lost two very close people to me (for different reasons) who had to transition their lives elsewhere. One of the people I pushed the shift out of personal necessity to move on. I thought at the time I would just deal with the losses in one full swoop. Both individuals were very close to me so you can imagine the gaping holes I am feeling.

Anyway here I am facing loss and business things started going haywire. Banking problems, client payment problems ... and I started thinking, "Is this outer chaos a reflection of the inner chaos I am feeling?" I had been meditating anyway so I ratcheted up my meditations. I also shifted my mindset to positivity. I woke up today and thought today is going to be a great day. I also had two prospective projects come up that I bid on. And I found out one of the checks I need came in the door.

Shifting your mindset can literally turn the whole thing around. The key is to believe it is so and it will be so. I thought today everything would resolve, and it's all resolving. It can be difficult to keep it positive when things go awry. But if there is one thing I've embraced: I can only control what I can control. It's hard to let the rest be, but I am the gatekeeper only on my own outlook and how I react or don't react. I am the manager of my choices. I believe in personal responsibility. It's hard to keep it bright and sunny when things are mired down in what seems dark and difficult. But each day gives us opportunities to do it differently. So today I have another chance to do it differently -- and so do you!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Notes from the Executive Suite...

These days the idea of achieving the corporate dream of getting the corner office with the view has been replaced with contentment in my home office working in my blue robe vs. blue suit. A recent bicker with an associate of mine made me think about this ... the idea of how we work these days. A suggestion of "professionalism" came up, and my so-called home office.

I started thinking about how once not that long ago I had the executive suite and the HUGE office with the conference room table in the middle of it. All the employees on that floor reported to me. I had definitely achieved the executive dream. In the middle of my "deluded" concept of success, I worked long hours and came home late. I didn't get to spend enough time with my kids. I was exhausted. I always loved working from home, too, in my downsized and comfy office that was really an atrium-turned office with glass windows on all sides and a gorgeous view of our backyard. Well, in 2006 I took the idea of the "executive" dream and dumped it out that corner window.

These days many executives I know have made their office sometimes their sofa. My dear friend Sonja Fisher who is famous for turning her entire sofa into a comfy space from which to work doesn't "do" the commute thing either. She is a well-paid corporate minion who enjoys the luxury of working from home from her own version of the executive suite. Now my "upgraded" lifestyle these days involves being the owner of the company (www.3LPublishing.com) and working quite nicely from my version of the executive suite that yes includes a comfy bed for when I want to lay down and maybe even get some contemplative time AKA a nap.

So here is my official response to any criticism of my "corporate digs" ... take that other lifestyle and dump it out YOUR corner office! :) And while you're stuck in traffic polluting the air I will be quietly making dinner and enjoying my life. Oh, and my greatly reduced overhead.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Sale: Buy California Girl Chronicles, Book 2 and Get Vengeance is Now FREE

Want to two great books for the price of one? Buy California Girl Chronicles: Brea's Big Break on the 3L Publishing website at click here and get Vengeance is Now by Scott D. Roberts FREE. Buy now while supplies last.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Banking Institutions S-U-C-K!!!

Today or more like this morning I want to scream. Last week I was on my own without my trusted operations manager, who has left the company. The entire week was consumed by operations versus editorial and publishing matters, which is really my job as CEO and editor-in-chief.

Now some banking issues are dogging my ability to get my own money. In a whopper-size "why-is-it-this-way" banking BS moment, I used our merchant services for one of our accounts only to discover that they were holding a large sum of money (PS, this is Phone Swipe). WTF (and yes, that deserves the "F" bomb) I called them to find out that they were holding large sums of my (MY being the operative word) money because they wanted to verify my credit because (get this) the transaction might be refunded. How? In total confusion and wonder over the concept that they can hold MY money and not pay until verifying my credit (what?) I realized I would either A. have to supply three months worth of banking statements and why they couldn't check my credit rating I don't know or B. not receive MY money!

Infuriated over this institution's ability to keep my money (and I'm sure accrue interest on it), I decided to refund the money back to my client's accounts and use my other service through Intuit. Now in a delayed holding pattern while money returns, I want to SCREAM at these institutions. It's not the first time I have been absolutely flummoxed over a bank's ability to F with MY money and cleanly get away with it. We had a check scan incorrectly a few weeks back and it literally took three weeks to clear up their screwed-up scan. Even though the banker could clearly see the correct amount written on the scanned check, he couldn't do a thing about it to correct the money. It was so ridiculous. In banking it seems that the human touch is irrelevant -- the computer has the last say (and this institution was Wells Fargo).

Here is what drives me up a wall and back. These big banks don't care if I can't pay my bills while they dork with MY money. They don't care if it affects my ability to survive. Can't pay your bills because we screwed up? So sorry so sad and too bad for you. OH! But if I were to make a late payment to THEIR credit card, no problem ... ka-ching! Let me charge you a whopping late fee AND charge interest. How's that?! And do mind me while I mess up your credit rating, too. This system is so lopsided in favor of these big corporations ability to screw over small businesses and individuals it's insane and just wrong.

And THAT is my rant for the day!

Monday, April 14, 2014

How You Can Learn about Business from the new HBO Silicon Valley

I started watching the new HBO series Silicon Valley, and I was surprised about the great information about creating a start-up company. Young entrepreneurs will learn a lot from this show. My favorite scene was when the lead character takes his $200,000 check made out to Pied Piper (his product's name) to discover he cannot deposit it because he hasn't established the name yet. My first thought was LLC or S Corp. (not that it was mentioned in those terms). Our clueless hero is dumbstruck and doesn't know what the bank clerk is talking about. Seasoned business people were nodding.

The show also covered the need for a business plan as our hapless hero is asked by the incredulous billionaire Burke, "Where's your business plan?" You then see one of the other more business-like nerds helping our guy write one and explore the facets of it. But I loved it when Burke sneers, "What's your go-to-market strategy?" Of course, I know what "go-to-market" means, but our hero I'm sure was completely befuddled.

The show is literally walking viewers through the "drama" of starting one's own business. It's an entertaining way to show other young entrepreneurs what is required to launch a business. I highly recommend watching the show if you want to learn something. Now you'll have to research the terms to understand some of it, but it's a good place to even learn how or what it takes. Some of the one-liners were pretty funny, and I laughed. I give the new show a thumbs-up, and I expect to continue watching throughout the season.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Why Employee Turn-Over is B-A-D for Business

Employee turnover is said to cost a business $100,000 in loss from the transition, which is one of the reasons I've always gone out of my way to treat my team with respect and loyalty. When you find an excellent team member you do not want to lose that person. Always be respectful and lead with loyalty and kindness and understanding so your team will WANT to work for you. As noted, loss on average per employee is $100,000, which for a small business is costly.

Let me give you an excellent example: when I worked in corporate I worked very loyally for my employer for 14 years. Pay raises though were always a bone of contention. Existing inequities between the executives in the company for reasons I won't share existed. As a loyal and hard worker, every time it came time for a raise it was a hard-fought battle with lots of justifications to go round. At the end of the day, I often went 2-3 years without even a cost of living adjustment. Finally in the last year I asked for a very small raise which amounted to nothing more than $150 a month. It had been the usual two-year deficit, and once more I was told no. Well, I had a feeling this might happen. I was tired and had given my lifeblood to the company. As they said no I said good-bye.

This is called short-sighted management. After I left reality-check 101 set in, and they soon realized the workload I had carried when they had to replace me with three bodies. How much do you think it cost them not only in my turnover but in paying three people instead of one? Do you think it was worth saying no over $150 a month?

That personal case study is a reflection of a corporate mentality that doesn't think about negative results only short-term gains. Sometimes you have to think big picture and be careful. Short-term gains can turn into long-term losses. So when you have a great employee who willingly gives his or her lifeblood to your success, don't be petty. Always take care of your people. You don't they won't take care of you.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Let go of the things you can't control," says my lover and guru!

Yesterday was a WHOPPER! My valuable operations manager changed jobs. My new operations manager really hasn't assumed her post yet. The last two weeks I've been juggling essentially two jobs. Yesterday I had to print up the Amazon orders and what happens? The printer breaks! Ugh! So now I have to go pick up books and stop at Kinko's to print up orders. I get to Kinko's and pull up the orders (this after picking up books) and darn it! They added a NEW order just that day. And I can't find the first order in the system. Now I don't have the right books to fill orders. Ugh! Thoroughly frazzled I do what I can and fill the second order since I can't find the first order.

Oh, and my 2013 taxes have not come back in and no word from the accountant. To owe or not to owe is the question.

I meet with my life coach who says I seem very "fragile" and I only laugh. Fragile because of so many personal and professional changes (some good some not so much). I feel like a tornado called "cha-cha-changes" whirled through my life.

So, this morning my beloved fiancé goes to leave for work, and he whispers in my ear, "Let go of the things you can't control." And he kisses me on the cheek and leaves me with, "I love you."

So my friends, I think we should all follow my sweetheart's advice! :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Life as a Giant Coffee Stain

Sometimes no matter what you do barriers just stand in the way of productivity. I started my day off with 30 minutes of meditation (I try to meditate daily). I get up. I had nonstop barriers yesterday too. Our new operations manager is gone, and I realized our Amazon orders weren't being addressed. So I have to go out to our storage unit to get books, but then realized I don't have the key. Our inventory is at my operations manager's house so I contact her and now I have to go retrieve books. Then I try to print up the invoice sheets and the printer fails. Now I'm frustrated naturally and the cat won't stay off my desk. I throw him out and go to retrieve something and come back, and he's gotten back and spilled Diet Coke on my desk and narrowly misses my new keyboard that I bought last week because he spilled water on the previous one. I throw him out again (after a few choice words). Later I go to retrieve something else and make the mistake of not closing the door. I come back, and now the cat has spilled coffee across my calendar (narrowly missing precious keyboard again) but ruining my favorite calendar. I still can't get the printer to work despite my fiancé's loving attempt to help me solve the problem over the phone. Then I realize I will probably need to go to Kinko's to print up the necessary items to which I'm displeased but got to do what you can to do. So hello all! How's your morning going? LMAO ;) ... and that's all you can do sometimes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Rate: ****1/2

The Grand Budapest Hotel was genuinely quirky, but I would expect nothing less from Wes Anderson, whose other films deliver on his unique film and storytelling style. Told from the viewpoint of the concierge on the eve of World War I, the story unfolds from the viewpoint of the author who is told the story by the hotel's current owner Zero Moustafa who recounts how he came under the tutorship of the concierge, who is played impeccably by Ralph Fiennes. 

It's a complex story and woven together through the narrative provided by Moustafa to the author who is also narrating, too. I know it sounds confusing, but it's not. The basis of the story is how the concierge comes to own the hotel and how through his brotherhood and mentoring with Moustafa he comes to own the hotel. The film highlights a bygone era when the concierge and "service" meant something -- and good manners. Loaded with scandal and intrigue, the film is compelling and utterly strange and quirky. You can't help but get sucked into the ridiculously polite antics of the concierge who is always in good form despite some clear adversity. 

It's not a good film for children who will not be able to keep up anyway, but it's a great grown-up film. Go see it on a date night.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Your Mindset Means Everything to Your Business

I have learned over the years it's mission critical to "mind" your mindset. Every time I allow fear and anxiety to run my business, it shows up and manifests itself in negative results. Whenever I do small things like meditate and "mind" my mindset to positivity and success, positive results happen. Some people are skeptical about this belief system. They falsely believe that mindset doesn't matter. Business will be what business will be dependent upon the marketplace, supply and demand, and competition. I'm here to tell you the biggest factor that determines success isn't about the market at all. It all has to do with YOU as the business owner.

Here's how:

Like attracts like. Who is attracted to work with you is based on the Law of Attraction. Positive people attract positive people. Positive people attract more positive, successful people to your business. Positive people spend money without fear, and the net result; it's easier to work with positive people, too.

Positive beliefs about success attract more success. If you run your business not based on fear or negative beliefs (e.g., fear and worry about money) people will sense your feelings (positive, can-do feelings) and will spend their money with your company. Have you ever heard the expression, "I can smell fear?" Customers can "smell" your fear. So, watch what feelings and beliefs about money and success you project.

Trust the process. It's hard to do this, but trust the process. Trust that the Universe will provide for you. Trust that when the time comes the money will show up. I noticed over time the money always seemed to show up. And then I took it to the next step and quit thinking about it altogether. And once I quit thinking about it and I trusted the money would show up ... voile! The money ALWAYS shows up. So, trust, trust, trust, but more importantly quit worrying or thinking about it. Just keep doing your thing.

Stable, positive decision-making ... recently I made a HUGE choice. I decided to make a lifestyle change based on positive things I wanted in my life: stability, shared goals and values, family and love. I had been leading my personal life anchored to what was really an unrealistic dream. The person I was investing my hopes and dreams in simply didn't have shared values nor do he offer any sense of commitment or stability. Sometimes you have to realize that if you want the positive things to happen in your life you have to shift perspective away and "get real." What was real was a person who did offer those important and positive attributes to my life. I changed my perspective, and miraculously the Universe affirmed that decision in a tidal wave of overall success (AKA affirmation). As I shifted to a positive outlook and felt good again, the money and success just rolled in the door in a way that seemed "miraculous" but really was a result of these mindset changes.

If your life isn't going the way you had hoped and dreamed. If your life isn't working at its highest level, shift your mindset. Remember a positive outlook on life in general produces positive results in all facets of your life.

Friday, April 4, 2014

You Do Deserve It! You Are Worth it!

We have several great self-help books in the 3L Publishing catalog, and I'm always fortunate in that I get to edit them. Right now I am working on a book titled The Power and Light that is You by Linda Lee, which is a wonderful book that is a guide to self-empowerment. I wish I could tell my story openly and without regret, but I really can't do it for privacy reasons. I don't believe in putting self-limiting beliefs on life. The book teaches us not to limit ourselves -- that we are empowered with our mindset to explore all facets of life.

In 2012 when I left my marriage I did so with the intention to find true love. If there is one thing I firmly believe now is that at age 25 vs. 48 I had no idea what I really wanted or needed from a relationship. In 2011 I had met a person who would become very important to me. After I left my marriage I decided to chase the proverbial rainbow even though many, many issues (BIG issues) arose during the pursuit of my aforementioned true love. And at the end of the day I looked at my rainbow -- a rainbow that had a pot of pain at the end of it, and I began a reflection process.

In exploring self-empowerment and taking personal responsibility for the outcomes in my life, I began to ask new questions. And it was actually my mother who articulated something important. She said, "Michelle, it depends on your expectations in life." What were my expectations about love and family? In my ideal world my man would love, adore, cherish and take care of me. He would commit to me and only me, and we would grow old together. In my other "broken" dream world, that man offered none of those things and even less. When I finally realized that lowering my expectations to sub-zero (really isn't that sub-zero to get nothing that you want) I re-evaluated my dream, my rainbow. Was the dream the "idea" or the "feeling" about the person. Was I so used to getting nothing that I wanted and expecting nothing really living my life out to the fullest?

Once upon another time, I had already done that -- lowered my expectations to zero. I used to say, "Expect nothing you will never be disappointed." Isn't that sad? Expect nothing... and nothing is what I got in exchange for that belief.

Well fast-forward to the present ... and here I am reunited with my former fiancé who I had broken off with due to some serious problems and my ongoing desire to chase my rainbow. He had offered everything I wanted and more. I started to look at my mindset. It was time to expand those ideas. It was time to have expectations, high expectations. It was time to believe (and this is important and super hard to feel) that I deserved those things in life -- those wonderful good things. My man offers the world to me. He is willing to sacrifice and compromise to make me happy. Here is the real kicker: he really cares about my feelings. He cares if I'm happy or not. And he went on this journey with me, stayed mostly by my side, and pledged not to leave or abandon when the going got tough.

So at the end of the "lessons-learned" section: I don't tell anyone now to lower his or her expectations. I say raise the bar as high as you can imagine and then attract that to yourself. No one deserves to be loved less-than. Nobody deserves to be treat as a low priority to their mate. We all deserve the very best in life. And we can have it. Raise the bar of your light to shine brightly and radiate goodness into the world. Don't say the words "I deserve it" or "I'm worth it" ... feel the words! Know it's true! You do deserve it ... you are worth it.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tip 2: 50 Tips to Market Your Book

Tip 2: Leverage social media to the extreme. 

Social media is free. Any tool you can leverage free-of-charge to market your book should be used. Create on Facebook an author page for your personal outreach to other authors, agents and "fans". Next create a fan page for your individual title. A secret trick: use Rocket Likes to invite hundreds of fans to your page. Make sure you create a Twitter account and a Linked-In profile. Focus your energy on the social media outlet that provides the most opportunities. Post on that outlet at least once or twice a day. Keep it up. The more you post, the more exposure for your book. Just make your posts a part of your daily routine, but do not get sucked into spending too much time on it. Remember, social media is a marketing tool not a toy. If you want to use it for social purposes, create a separate personal page for family and friends.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tips for Editing and Proofing

At my recent writer's group meeting we began tittering about editorial tricks. One of the women sighed that between all of the style books (AP Style, Chicago, Strunk and White) it's hard to get it right or know what is right. I agree. As I imparted some of my tricks, the group got excited. So I thought I would share some of those tricks on the blog.

Define X. Use Google and plug-in "define ___" and the proper usage and spelling comes up. This technique is especially useful for hyphenated words and idioms.

Idioms. Do we all know the proper usage of certain idioms? Expressions like first come, first served is the perfect example. Is it first to come first to serve? No, it's what I wrote, but an idiom wouldn't necessarily be a common word in a dictionary, right? I always use the "define [idiom]" approach and Google. The search provides the proper expression of the idiom and the proper grammar for the idiom, too.

Comma usage. Every style book has a "difference of opinion" on comma use. My edict is to simply pick a style and keep it consistent throughout the book. Wrong isn't wrong if that's a conscious choice to do it that way. No one out there agrees on comma usage, so make an agreement with yourself.