mavisspeaks

It’s Independence Day…You’re Free to Follow Your Dreams

Flag and Ice_editedHere is is the eve of 4th of July and I’ve already been hearing fireworks go off for two nights. Sometimes you have to just grab the moment and start celebrating…forget the calendar. It’s Independence Day! There are many things that come to mind around the 4th of July, but the one that seems to resonate with me most is the freedom we have to go after any dreams we have.

Sure, ‘the American Dream’ is changing with the economy and there are a lot of things happening (or not happening) that can frustrate a person. But, here in America we can still dream, live in the moment and take action to make those dreams come true.

I love this flag photo for a couple of reasons. One: it was taken by a dear friend of mine and Two: the friend took this photo in the active pursuit of a dream. A personal trainer for more than a decade, one day he picked up a camera and started snapping pictures. He took action…and took so many photos that he created a website and started taking pictures professionally. This friend also taught himself to play guitar and write music…then started an open mic night for everyone in the neighborhood. Do you see the theme? He went after dreams immediately. He didn’t sit around and wait for perfect timing. He just took action and learned as he moved forward.

I’m inspired by people that live their lives this way. Always learning about what interests them, always taking the initiative to make changes in their lives. I think those lives are richer for that. So, this 4th of July…I’m going to claim my independence and go after my dreams NOW!

Happy 4th of July! Light a sparkler and brighten the world around you!

Writing a Book – The Time is Now!

It’s been a tough few weeks on the personal side of life. A friend passed away due to complications from cancer treatment, another dear friend has just started the fight, and I’ve recently learned of an aging friend just being moved to a nursing home. Tomorrow, I head south to visit my uncle, who is now is assisted living. He’s doing okay, but his life is no long what he envisioned his late years would be.

Okay, before you think this post is all sad news, let me explain. With all these recent events I am reminded once again that life is a precious gift. Not just my life or your life, but the lives of our friends and family. I want to spend more time with the people I care about…and I want to make that time to see them that I never seem to have. I want to be fully present…be in the moment…every moment. And, I’ve remember the importance of going after dreams.

Stack of booksI’m sure I’m not the only one who spends too much time on Someday Isle. You know the place, right? “Someday I’ll travel to Europe.” “Someday I’ll learn to paint.” “Someday I’ll write a book.” Well, guess what? THE TIME IS NOW! What are we waiting for anyway? If you want something to happen, you have to take action. It’s been said that 80% of reaching a goal is just showing up! Okay, I made up that statistic, but 75% of all stats are fabricated anyway. Creative math aside, that does not lessen the importance of showing up…of going after dreams and being in the moment.

So, if one of your dreams has always been to write a book…start today. Whether you spend two hours or 10 minutes…get started. Where to start? Pick your topic. What is ONE thing you want to share? Who do you want to share it with? If you need some help, consider hiring an authors coach or a ghostwriter, depending on whether you need more help with the process or the writing.

A view from my Summer 2011 writers vacation. I think I need to do it again!

I’m inspired by my friend who has always wanted to live on a farm. What did she do? Moved into the country, bought some land and an aging farmhouse. She’s now working on fixing up the old farmhouse and putting in a garden, horse barn and chicken coop. She just took one step and then another. It may take her longer than she hoped. It may (okay will) cost more than she budgeted…but she’s going after her dream. Oh, and she’s a writer too…so follow her blog about the Literal Road Farm makeover!

Now, back to you. Have you jotted down a few ideas yet? What can I do to help you get starting on writing your book?

Me? I’m sailing away from Someday Isle and along with being a ghostwriter for some awesome folks, I am getting started on my next project…finishing my musical. So stay tuned for updates.

Writing a Book…it’s about what you already know!

When it comes to writing a book, choosing a topic is simple…write what you know! I’m not saying you won’t have to do any research at all, but start with what you do, what you know, what you like and what you’re passionate about. One of the benefits of being an author is YOU get to pick what you’re writing about…so make it something you CARE about, right? Oh, and it doesn’t hurt if you’re good at said topic!

Chris' BookMy friend, Chris Bloczynski, is amazing when it comes to online business and marketing. He started with web hosting and expanded into mobile apps for websites (so your site looks good when someone visits on their smart phone), mobile coupons (Brilliant – I love these!) and videos for websites…all the things a business needs to market online. So, when he decided he wanted to share his insights and experience in a book, guess what he wrote about? Online marketing. In fact, that’s what he called his book:  The Online Marketing Strategy For Your Offline Business

Let me digress for a moment and say, you should get this book if you’re doing ANY marketing online for your ‘offline’ business…or even if you are mostly online. One of the great things included are several QR codes that lead you to additional information and resources. For $10 it’s one of the best resources out there to help you sort through what online marketing options are best for you and your business.

Okay, back to writing a book. What’s keeping you from going after your dreams? Most people who want to write a book feel like they don’t have anything to say…but you do! If you are good at something, passionate about something…you need to tell your story. Because if you’re good at something, there’s someone out there who wants to be good at that too…they might be waiting for your book! Just get started! It’s not rocket science! But, I do have a friend who is really good a rocket science. Maybe he should write a book? Yes! Rocket Science for Dummies!!!

Happy Writing!

Should You Write A Book? Five Questions To Find Out Now!

Male writerHow do you know if you have a book inside you waiting to get out? Certainly, there are those who dream of writing the next ‘great American novel’ whether they have talent or not. Sadly, there is only a small space on the shelves for best-selling fiction. However, there is a lot of room for non-fiction books…from business to travel to DIY (Do-It-Yourself) to cooking. And, there are many experts out there who have great stories and information to share. But, they often believe they’re not ‘writers’. So they never put pen to paper (or hands to keyboard). The great thing about non-fiction books is that with a ghostwriter, you don’t have to be the most talented writer…you just need to have the idea, passion and perspective. So, what about you? Ready to find out if you should add ‘author’ to your bio? Here are a FIVE questions to determine if writing a non-fiction book is in your future…or if you’re need to start interviewing ghostwriters.

  1. Are you passionate about what you do? Being excited about your work life is darn close to required if you’re going to write about it. If you’d rather be doing something else…go do it…follow your dream. And, write about that. That means, don’t write a book just to write a book…write a book if you care about something, are excited about it and want to share your knowledge and experience.
  2. Is there something unique about how you do what you do? Sometimes it’s now what you do but how you do it. Have you figured out a faster, smarter, less expensive or more effective way of doing something? Others who do what you do will want to know your secret. If you want to share it…start writing. If it seems unlikely, then why do all those ‘let me tell you my secret to: making it in real estate or buying stocks’ type infomercials and seminars do so well? Because we ALL want to know the secret to doing something better.
  3. Do you have a process or program that gets great results? A little different from the above point, maybe you’ve developed a new process or program for dog training or exercise or eating gourmet on a budget. Sometimes, the old ways don’t work for everyone and you’ve figured out a different approach. If your process or program gets results…there’s a future in telling folks about it in a book. Every new weight loss system has a slightly different approach. Why? Because everyone isn’t the same and therefore the same program won’t work for everyone. It may be time for you to share your system.
  4. Female writerDo you have a hook or gimmick that looks at something in a new way? Remember Chicken Soup for the Soul? That entire cottage industry started out as a hook…a fun perspective to inspiration. Now there is not only a plethora of Chicken Soup books, but there are a number of other books inspired by that very concept. People love a new way to look at things. It’s okay if there’s a similar book out there…that just proves people want to read about your topic. You’ll bring YOUR unique, witty, silly, savvy, city, country, ‘punny’ or serious view to your book. So, take your hook, bait it and catch some readers!
  5. Do you enjoy making lists and asking questions? People love to read lists! Everyone wants to know the top 10 reasons to do this or that and the three most important questions to ask before you buy this or that. Whatever topic you’re passionate about, if you can come up with a list of statements or questions about it….you can write a book. Maybe it’s a collection of lists…but I bet I can give you 5 reasons it will work. Think about it…you likely read this blog to know what the five questions about becoming a writer were…even if you’re NOT thinking about writing a book

If you answered YES to even one of these questions, it’s time to start thinking about writing. Later you can determine if you want to use them as marketing tools, sell them online, use them as a way to start a speaking career…whatever. The first step is to write the book. If you’re still worried about not being a natural writer…then consider a ghostwriter.  For more information on that, check out my post on Hiring a Ghostwriter.

Happy Writing future authors!

Write like no one is reading!

Anyone who knows me has heard me talk about writing not for yourself but for those who will be reading your work…especially in blogs. I stress how keywords are a vital part of writing for online content, and that’s still true. But right now I’d like to talk about the actual process of writing. writers blockOne of the biggest challenges to writing is getting over the fear that someone might read it. I don’t mean read it in that ‘selling millions of books’ kind of way. I mean read in that ‘what makes you think you can write’ kind of way. Being judged or criticized (even the thought of it) can be paralyzing.

I remember sending of script drafts to clients and as soon as I hit the send button, panic set in on me. “What if they don’t like it?” “What if they tell me it’s no good?” “Why in the world am I trying to make my living as a writer?” Then I would wait for the phone call or email and the longer it took, the worse I felt. So, you would think I would be relieved for the voicemail message from the client, right? Finally they’re getting back to me. Nope! Then I’d start to worry about all the feedback they might have. The silly thing is that 9 times out of 10, they loved the script and changes were minor. It took me a while to get over that…confidence in your own talent can take time to truly own.

But there was another phenomenon that I experienced as a writer. This happened when I sat down to write my first draft of almost anything. I couldn’t get started. I would try to edit as I went; hoping to anticipate client feedback and make changes to what I had yet to write. I finally figured out a way around this problem. I no longer started with Draft One…instead I would create a file name and list it as Draft Zero. That meant no one was going to read this. This was not the version I planned to submit, this was just me getting words on paper. That simple step saved me hours of writer’s block and because I was writing more, made me a better writer. I would just start typing. Now was not the time to think about grammar, nor did I pull out my thesaurus for a fresh word. If I wasn’t sure of what I was writing, I’d keep going and insert things in parenthesis like:

  • (Change this word)
  • (This feels awkward)
  • (Check for real stats)
  • (Make a better quote)
  • (This ending is bad)

You get the idea, right? With my Draft Zero complete, I would take a break feeling a sense of accomplishment. Later, I would go back to edit what I’d done. Sometimes I surprised myself and disregard those little notes. “Hey, that isn’t so bad after all; I think I’ll keep that sentence just as it is!”

The point is that allowing myself a draft or version that no one would read freed me to actually get the writing done.No one was looking over my shoulder and criticizing. And, knowing an edit was in the wings before I submitted, I could write anything that popped into my head.  I was no longer writing for future edits, I was in the moment and just writing. I wrote more, wrote better and made deadlines without breaking into a cold sweat. Okay, sometimes that still happens, but it’s better these days.

So, if you’re thinking about starting a bog or writing a book, now is the time. Go after your dreams! Express yourself! Get those Draft Zeros written today! You can edit for keywords, grammar and finesse tomorrow.

Happy writing!

Location, location, location…benefits of being a writer

My view in Ocean Park

My view in Ocean Park


I got to have a week at the beach this summer, and that’s a rare treat I haven’t enjoyed for years. It reminded me of living in North Carolina…as a kid we got a week at the beach every summer. This year, I treated myself and did it again. It was a different beach, a different state, and even a different ocean, but it was wonderful. I loved having family there for a couple of days, but after those first two days, I was completely on my own.

What in the world is a gal (who burns very easily) going to do by herself for a week on the beach?

I wrote!  I had all the glorious uninterrupted time in which to write…and I was at the beach…and it was sunny and warm! Sometimes location really IS everything. Being able to do your job anywhere has got to be one of the major benefits of being an author and writer. Okay, I admit it…the first day on my own I did nothing. But, by the next day I was ready to go! I caught up on two books I’m ghostwriting and some marketing copy for another client. I dreamed up some new ideas for my own stories. I slept in, stayed up late, took breaks to walk along the beach and ate wonderful food!

I was able to just be in the moment and get things done. Oh, did I mention I had limited email access and no cell phone coverage? That was a perk I didn’t plan on, but what a great break!

Why am I sharing all of this? Because I realized something I want others to know…well two things.

First, sometimes to be in the moment – you have to be somewhere else. When we’re surrounded by our daily lives, daily to-do lists and daily clutter, it’s difficult to stop thinking of everything we want to get done. Being somewhere else, without all those reminders and visuals…we can more easily just be in the moment. And, it doesn’t have to be miles away – a walk in the woods, a break at the nearby park…any place that takes you away from your normal routine will do the trick!

The second thing is that giving yourself a taste of what you think you want your dream life to be is a great way to be sure you’re going after the right dreams. That week at the beach where I only wrote…and skipped all the other things that usually make up my work day…offered me a glimpse of what it would be like to do that full-time. If you have the chance to try out that dream job, experience that ideal career…grab it. Even if it’s only for a short time, you’ll be able to be in that moment and experience that life. Is it really what you want? For me, it’s a yes!

So, let’s go after our dreams together! Look for my next posts to tap into some of the professions that will benefit from being an author and when to know it’s time to hire a ghost writer.

How to Hire a Ghost Writer

Have you figured out the benefits of being an author? It can be an important part of your career plan…having that book. But, what if you don’t have the time to do it? Or what if you’re afraid you’re not good enough? They say the smartest people are the ones who figure out when they need help. That’s true with ghost writing.

I have a friend, a life and career coach, who’s going to write a book to go along with her video and online curriculum. She’s a smart lady because she’s figured out she needs that additional piece to round out her coaching tools. She’s also smart enough to know that she’s a little too busy to get it done. So, she’s hiring a ghost writer. In fact, she’s already been working with one on some articles and social media work. Problem is, she’s not sure she’s got the RIGHT writer. Some of the articles go in a different direction than she would have gone on her own. Some of it doesn’t sound like her. So, how do you know if you have the right ghost writer?

Here are 5 tips to hiring the RIGHT ghost writer:

1. Meet the candidates. Ideally, a face to face meeting is the way to go, but at a minimum you want a good phone conversation with any writer you’re considering. You need to determine if your personalities mesh. Is he buttoned up and get down to business? Is she more relaxed and casual? What works for you? Do you enjoy talking with him or her? And, bottom line, is she listening? If all a writer does is talk about themselves, how in the world are they ever going to hear you?

2. Ask how they work. How they get stuff done can determine the end product. Do they want you to provide notes and materials they’ll review? Do they want to interview you and use that as the foundation of the book? Typically, not always, a ghost writer who interviews you – and records those interviews – will do a better job of writing in your voice. That’s because they’ll have your voice, your words and your phrasing to work from. That means the end product will sound just like you wrote it yourself.

3. Have the money talk. Get an idea of what you’re walking into here. Do they work on an hourly rate, flat rate or a fee plus a percentage of profits? They’ll need to get some information from you regarding the scope of the project, but then any good writer will give you a bid or estimate. Sure things change, but chances are you’ll feel better with a total estimate or flat rate instead of a writer who wants to charge you hourly. And, let me say right here, don’t expect this to be cheap. A professional writer is going to listen to you for hours, talk about you, write about you and in the end, provide you with a book you get to put your name to. You need to expect to pay anywhere from $2000-$10,000. The range is big because a lot depends on how long the book is, how much time it will take and how much work it will take to get there. Some projects can be done in 2 months, some will take 6 or more.

4. Expect a timeline. When you talk to them about ‘how they work’ find out if they’re willing to give you a timeline (schedule). Sure, life happens and things can get delayed (on their end or yours), but you need a ballpark idea of how long of a project you’re starting. And, a good timeline should include how much time you have to give them feedback on each submission. That helps keep everyone on track.

5. Read some samples. You might have thought this should come first, but with ghost writing that’s not always possible. Sure, you can read samples of their work, but they may not be able to provide work by previous clients if there are confidentiality agreements in place. If you’re focusing on non-fiction business and how-to books, most writers can give you something. However, few folks who’ve published their memoirs what people to know someone else actually wrote it. So, ask for what you can review and do that.

6. Bonus Tip – Go with your gut. If you go through all the steps above and it’s down to two ghost writers, check in with your instincts. Who do you think is going to be the easiest or most fun to work with? Because, regardless of how long it takes and how much it costs, you should enjoy the process!

Now, go find your ghostwriter and get to writing! If you find you’d like more information on the process of working with a ghost writer, shoot me an email at mavis@mamboproductions.com. I’d love to help you tell your story!

Can going after dreams override the importance of showing up?

Well, going after your dreams can certainly get in the way of showing up. But is that a bad thing? I just got back from an amazing BNI conference in Rhode Island. And even though I didn’t have time for tourist activities – I was able to go after some of my dreams. However, because the schedule of this conference is jam-packed..I fell off the blogging track. I – silly me – was sure I’d have time to write a post before I left town. Then I was still confident I’d find a moment or two get a post up during the 4 days of conference. Well, that didn’t happen!

Speaking about sponsors at BNI Nat'l Conference - Rhode Island, May 2011

Speaking about sponsors at BNI Nat’l Conference – Rhode Island, May 2011

Writing blog posts is a lot like working out…when you have a regular routine you can keep on track. However, once you  miss one workout, it’s easier to miss the next one, and then the next one. However, there are times – even when you have a regular schedule for something, like blogging or working out – you will have to set it aside to go after a dream. So, instead of showing up at the scheduled thing, you show up where you are meant to be. Don’t berate yourself. Here’s the reality – as long as you are moving forward and being in the moment, chances are you’re still on track and doing just fine. Now, if every schedule and appointment you make gets changed because ‘something else came up’ then you may have a problem. But as far as the occasional missed workout, writing session or coffee date…don’t sweat it. Just communicate with anyone involved and go after your dreams.

Oh – those dreams I pursued at conference? Talking with some amazing people about their dreams and how I can help and making connections for some future speaking opportunities.

What are some of the goals you’re pursuing over the summer? I’d love to hear from you as my next few posts will talk about getting out of your own way and avoiding excuses. Summer can be a time of great excuses to put things on hold. Let’s make this summer the summer of successes!

Showing up also means Following Up!

follow up_writingDo you know the biggest downfall of most networkers? And by the way, networkers include anyone who speaks to other people about who they are, what they do, who they do it for and what makes them unique…in the hopes of building their business or promoting their cause! Yes, this does cover a lot of people!

Okay, now that I’ve got the definition out of the way, let’s get back to my question. The biggest downfall is the lack of follow-up. Let me say ‘first rattle out of the box’ that no one (I hope) drops the follow-up ball on purpose. The thing is we’re busy. And, too often we fool ourselves into thinking the importance of showing up means just while we’re at the chamber event, service organization breakfast or weekly networking meeting. Sure, you have to be 100% present during the gathering, but don’t check out mentally once you get in your car to drive to the next thing…whether that’s to an important meeting, back to the office or home. Without timely follow-up, those new contacts you met will forget about you. They’ll move on to the next person who offers your same product or service, or the next good cause that comes their way. Those potential clients, customers and connections will respond to the folks who followed up…even if they’re not as good as you at what you do!

What happens most of the time is we have great intentions that get ambushed by life. We return to the office or home or wherever and there are fires to put out…calls to return, emails to reply to, deadlines to meet. So, we set aside those cards and notes from our networking event, promising to follow-up with folks ‘the next day’. The problem is ‘the next day’ never comes. Because every day is a fire drill and every day has meetings and phone calls and emails and deadlines. Every day we have to be in the moment of that day. How then are you supposed to do that all important follow-up? Here are a few tips:

Tip One – Schedule the follow-up. Figure out the best time for you to do your follow-up. Is it first thing in the morning? Maybe the last thing at the end of the day? Maybe right when you get back from lunch? If you know WHEN you’re to do your follow, up the chances increase that you’ll actually do it. And, you can actually put it into your calendar.

Tip Two – Know your type of follow-up. It’s been said that a hand-written note is the best form of follow-up. And, it’s true that hand-written notes have a huge and positive impact on your contacts. However, if you’re not good at writing cards, don’t let that stop you from following up. The truth is that the best form of follow-up is the one you’ll actually do!! Maybe it’s notes, but it could just as easily be an email, a phone call, a post on someone’s social media page or,  believe it or not, a text message (especially with the younger business folks).

Tip Three – Make it personal. It feels canned to just say ‘it was great to meet you at the ‘fill-in-the-blank’ event.’ Recall something you talked about with your new contact – work or personal – and mention that. Instead try, “I really enjoyed hearing about your upcoming sailing vacation.” It can still be a short note, but showing them you actually remember them will make all the difference in the world.

So, remember to be in the moment at your next networking event and stay in the moment until you get the follow-up done. Why waste your time meeting people if you’re not going to create a relationship with them?

Women and e-readers…there’s money in e-books!

ereaderA fellow writer, Sharon Long shared a great blog post that was music to my ears as a ghost writer and marketer.  According to Jamie Dunham, blogger and brand strategist behind The Lipstick Economy, that the way we read is changing.  After reading her recent post, it’s clear to me that e-books and e-readers (pick your fave, I’m not taking sides) are two more benefits to being an author. Gone are the days you had to have printed books that you hoped would sell in a book store…now 21% of readers download e-books!

I still love to have a stack of books by my bed…and I always will. However, for all those would-be authors out there – you’re that much closer to your dream! First, (and I’ll write more about this in a future post), self-publishing for non-fiction books is no longer a bad thing! Second, more people are reading (and lots more women) now that they can do it digitally.

We’re busier than ever, but we’re also spending more time in airports, in line and on buses, planes and trains. As we ‘hurry up and wait’  it seems folks are turning to reading to pass the time. And, if women are your target market then it’s time to get that book done now!! Seems 64% of book sales are by women…and, women own 51% of all e-readers.  There’s more great info in Jamie’s post “10 things you need to know about e-books”,  including how e-books are changing classrooms and libraries. And, that if prices fall enough, Amazon may eventually offer them free to loyal customers.

So, would-be authors and writers…get to writing! And, if you’re worried you can’t get it done on your own, hire a ghost writer…because your readers are waiting!