So You Wanna Be A Blogger?

Blogging is a great way to connect with a target audience on a somewhat personal level on one condition… you actually BLOG. It sounds great in theory – start a blog, write about a cool topic, get a bunch of readers to follow you, and BOOM! All of a sudden you’ve graduated to Perez Hilton status, with 14,500,000 estimated monthly users. Who wouldn’t want THAT????

But you need compelling content that people crave. It doesn’t happen overnight and it definitely won’t happen unless you do a few key things right up front.

Your first step is to figure out your topic and blog name. It can be your name or something that is related to the type of content you want to write about. When I created my blog, I knew I wanted to write about innovation, entrepreneurship and startups. So I agonized for DAYS and finally came up with The Idea Mama. It’s catchy, right??? =)

Once you have a name, you’re ready to roll! So here it is… my top 10 list for starting a new blog! These steps come way before your fingers hover over the keyboard, itching to type that first entry. There’s a lot of prep that goes into the setup. Don’t rush the process. Take your time, think long and hard about your goals with the blog. These tips will help you get started.

Group of BLOG related 3D words. Part of a series.

  1. Buy the domain. You can’t have a website without a domain name. It’s your home address… on the web. Go to http://www.godaddy.com and find out if it’s available. If it is, GRAB IT! If you want to test the waters, buy it for one year instead of three.
  2. Select a blogging platform. I use WordPress and I like it. I’m not wild about TypePad. I’ve used that in the past and found it to be extremely frustrating. One of my other sites, Author Navigation, was built with Weebly. They have a free trial available. Weekly is very intuitive. You can drag and drop components onto your page according to the theme you select. Easy to use and very reasonably priced.
  3. Get a logo for your website. Fiverr is THE place to go for a cost-effective graphic. It’s one of my favorite places on the web. It’s a community of freelancers who offer gigs for graphic design, online marketing, advertising, music and audio, writing and translation – all starting at $5. You can always beef up your gig for an additional amount but let me tell you, I’ve gotten kick ass results with only $5. Go. NOW! If you need a recommendation, I’ve got a guy… =)
  4. Create a Twitter handle…I have a couple… @kristen_luciani, @theideamama. Use your new blog name and if it isn’t available, come up with some variation. Then, HAPPY TWEETING! You’ll share your own content, as well as content you come across on the web and with your fellow tweeps. We’ll get to that in the next tip…
  5. Create a CrowdFire account. This will help you find the right target audience to follow on Twitter. It helps to grow your following, which you NEED to grow. You’ll also be able to find INFLUENCERS using this tool. Influencers are people who are subject matter experts in your topic and have a large following, which represents a large opportunity for consumption of quality content. Establish relationships with a few key influencers. Retweet and comment on their content and hopefully, they will eventually return the favor.
  6. Create a Facebook page for your blog and start to get likes. Make sure you post to it several times daily. You can post images, links to articles or anything else that is relevant to your blog. The purpose is to engage with your fan base and sharing compelling content is the best way to engage. Videos are cool too. People really appreciate the personal interaction, so get out of your comfort zone.
  7. Set up an Instagram account. You can post images or 15 second-long videos. AND you can link your Instagram account to Facebook and Twitter, so any of your images will post to all three locations.
  8. Establish a Hootsuite account. This is a tool that allows you to consolidate all your social networks and post to all at once. TIME SAVER!!!!!!
  9. Register an account on Quora. This is a great way to get exposure to a new audience. Establish yourself as a subject mater expert on your topic by answering questions in that category. It really helps get your voice heard and people will start to become familiar with the value you bring to the table. AND, you can always use those questions/responses as blog posts!
  10. Subscribe to a photo site. I belong to Dollar Photo Club. It has great images and is extremely cost-effective. $99 per year entitled you to 99 images. Each additional one will cost only $1. There are plenty of other sites, but this is my preference. You can’t post random Google images on your blog, even if you credit the website. If you get caught, you’ll get a nasty letter warning  you to take the image down or else legal action will be taken and you’ll most likely be threatened with a fine.

There are also a ton of informative books on blogging. Here are a few of my faves:

Feel free to browse other titles…just be careful that the book wasn’t published too long ago otherwise the industry will have changed too much for the information to be really relevant. Sometimes, though, you can find diamonds in the rough.

Okay, I’ve gotten you started. Next steps?

WRITE, then SHARE!!!!

Social Media Ideas Designer Desk Architectural Tools Office Concept

Social Media Ideas Designer Desk Architectural Tools Office Concept

Happy Release Day! Palm South University, Episode 1 by Kandi Steiner

Title: Palm South University: Episode One
Author: Kandi Steiner
Release Date: Aug 25, 2015
Find on Goodreads

Drama. Lies. Sex. 

Welcome to Palm South University.

The weather isn’t the only thing heating up in South Florida. At a school where fraternities and sororities don’t exactly play by the rules, relationships are bound to be tested. Parties and sex are definitely key ingredients in the Palm South recipe, but what happens when family issues, secret lives, and unrequited love get tossed in the mix?

Follow Cassie, Bear, Jess, Skyler, Erin, Ashlei, and Adam as they tackle college at a small, private beach town university. Written in television drama form, each episode of this serial will pull you deeper and deeper into the world of PSU.

Where the sun is hot and the clothes are scarce, anything can happen.

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After I finish my first drink and order another, I wander up to the group of guys at the pool table. We play for a little over an hour, drawing an even larger crowd because – clearly – we’re the most fun this joint has seen in a while. I’m cozied up and working on one of the hottest guys in the group when he informs me he has a fiancé.
Wow.
Buzz Killington, ladies and gentlemen.
I hang out with the group a little longer, hoping to move on to a new prospect, but they all head out before I have a chance to seal the deal with any of Mr. I’m-Engaged-But-You-Don’t-Need-To-Know-That-Until-It’s-Clear-You-Expect-To-Sleep-With-Me’s friends. Sighing, I take my place in the same barstool as before and Jarrett slides a fifth drink my way.
I hold up my hands. “I should probably say no this time. It’s almost closing time and I need to drive.”
“Not necessarily,” he offers. I eye him curiously and the corner of his mouth pulls up mischievously. He finishes wiping down a glass and hangs it above his head before leaning across the bar, his minty breath tickling my drunken senses. “You’ve been trying all night to get with that douchebag when I could have told you from the beginning that he wasn’t available. And now, you’re left with an ache between your legs that you don’t want to take care of on your own. So yes, you could drive home, get up and go to work tomorrow and just try again another night. Or,” he pauses, licking his bottom lip and dragging his teeth across the top as his eyes fall to my mouth. “You could give me your keys, jump in my truck, and let me take you back to my place so I can cure you of your current situation.”
Oh hell to the fucking yes.

Kandi Steiner is a Creative Writing and Advertising/Public Relations graduate from the University of Central Florida living in Tampa with her husband. Kandi works full time as a social media specialist, but also works part time as a Zumba fitness instructor and blackjack dealer. 

Kandi started writing back in the 4th grade after reading the first Harry Potter installment. In 6th grade, she wrote and edited her own newspaper and distributed to her classmates. Eventually, the principal caught on and the newspaper was quickly halted, though Kandi tried fighting for her “freedom of press.” She took particular interest in writing romance after college, as she has always been a die hard hopeless romantic (like most girls brought up on Disney movies).

When Kandi isn’t working or writing, you can find her reading books of all kinds, talking with her extremely vocal cat, and spending time with her friends and family. She enjoys beach days, movie marathons, live music, craft beer and sweet wine – not necessarily in that order.

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Happy Release Day! “Life Rewritten” By Andrea Johnston

Title: Life Rewritten
Author: Andrea Johnston
Release Date: Aug 20, 2015
Find on Goodreads

I never thought that, at 40, this would be my life. Mourning the loss of the man I vowed to love for life was hard enough. Online dating, starting a business, and falling in love was never the plan.
Victoria Bennett has been blessed with a loving husband, a wonderful son and amazing friends. Always the organized planner, Victoria was thrown life’s curve ball when she found herself a widow and single mom before 40. After mourning the loss of her husband and rejoining her friends and family in her once simple life, Victoria finds herself venturing into the world of online dating with little success.
After hanging up her keyboard and focusing on new experiences and hobbies, Victoria is as surprised as everyone else when her favorite pastime leads to a new career and passion for life. When a friendship turns to romance, her life is once again thrown for a loop. Like everything new in her life she takes on the relationship with gusto, and a series of mishaps. 
Victoria soon learns that sometimes the life you’ve planned isn’t the life you lead. It is still your life, just your life rewritten.

Everyone manages to keep me distracted and on task for a solid thirty minutes. With how I’ve been feeling, that is quite the success for them. When the doorbell rings I’m a little taken aback. It is far too early for the guests and if they are already arriving, what am I going to feed them? Lunch at 10:30 in the morning? I guess, but I could go for those baked goods and Sara isn’t here and … just answer the door. Relax. I head to the door feeling as nervous as I did the day I took my driver’s license test. It’s like a swarm of butterflies has taken up residence in my stomach while a dragon flaps its wings next to them. Basically, I want to throw up.
What lies before me is a shock. All six-foot something of him, swirly blue eyes, and dressed like a gift from the hunk heavens … Dillon.
“Mornin’,” he says with that toothpaste-commercial smile. Oh boy.
“Hi. Uh, what are you doing here? What’s all that?” I say, pointing at the bags of what appear to be groceries he is holding. Groceries? Has word gotten back to him that I am not exactly Rachael Ray in the kitchen? We’ve been spending afternoons together working on my plan and I suppose becoming friends, yet none of this has come up. We don’t really get too personal, just talking about movies, my love of books, baking, and our town.
“Goodies for your guests. Well, not quite, but the ingredients to create them,” he replies with a simple shrug and a move into the house.
I step aside and hear Justin chuckle and whisper, “Close your mouth, Mom, it’s just groceries.” Justin gives Dillon the “what’s up” nod as he’s heading to the kitchen.
“Ello, ladies. Beautiful mornin’, isn’t it?” Dillon says as he starts emptying his bags. He wasn’t kidding, he even brought his own measuring cups. Just because I choose to eat culinary treats created by others doesn’t mean I don’t have the means to create my own. I have measuring cups, for goodness sake. Of course mine are from Target and hot pink, but that is neither here nor there.
Anna kicks my shin while I hear Charlotte giggle. Apparently I’m still standing there with my mouth open. Classy. “Hello, Dillon, it is a lovely morning. Isn’t it, Victoria?” Anna asks as I give her the evil eye and pull up a chair. Not one to be deterred by my so-called evil eye, Anna continues, “So, Dillon, what brings you by?”
“Well, I knew Sara was supposed to bring the treats for today and to be honest I couldn’t see her here. She has referred to reading as ‘so, like weird and scary.’ Plus, I feel compelled to see this first day through. Plus, I wanted to be here to help Victoria with Pages and Quiet if she needed it.”
He says all of this without a single misstep as he moves with ease about my kitchen. I’m sure my kitchen appreciates his presence. Dillon begins pouring ingredients into a bowl, never once pausing to squat down and check his measurements. Show off.
“What better way to get people to relax than the smell of freshly baked muffins? Don’t you agree, ladies?”
Oh sweet baby jeebus. He’s going to bake. In my kitchen. He could only be sexier if he mopped the floors after. Get it together, girl, he’s just a guy. Barely a friend and definitely not interested in a forty-year-old single mom with a fondness for spending her nights with a pint of ice cream and book.
“Well, don’t let us stop you. We’ll just be right over here watching the show,” Anna coyly replies.
A show is putting it mildly. The three of us sit there like we are watching the creation of a new civilization. He’s a master with a whisk. How is he not getting stuff all over him? I have to shower, spray down the kitchen, and still don’t get everything clean after I make some break ‘n bake cookies. And is it normal to find forearms sexy? There’s a hint of a tattoo above his shirt sleeve. And Charlotte has already whispered how he must obviously work out to have that chest. I’m ignoring her assessment. I couldn’t care less if he’s just blessed, I could watch this show all day.
“Victoria?” I hear my name but I’m so focused on those arms it takes yet another kick to the shin before I look up, thoroughly embarrassed when I realize Dillon has been talking to me.
“Sorry. I just spaced out for a sec. What was that?” Please don’t ask me anything that requires me to leave the room. I don’t want to miss any of this.
“I was asking if you wanted to come over here and help me. That way you’ll be honest with your guests when you say you made muffins.” Swoon. I’m swooning. And apparently, so is Charlotte because she lets out the sigh I am holding in. Suddenly I hear hysterical laughter coming from the doorway. Justin. He’s lucky I love him.
“Justin, really? Is it really that funny?” I ask as I stand and face him with the best Mom face I can manage.
“Mom, it really is. I don’t think Dillon has any idea what he’s asking and I think I’ll go outside and play with Tilly just to keep her safe,” he says as he grabs an apple and heads out the back door.
“Don’t mind him, come over here and help me. Nothing will feel sweeter than proving him wrong,” Dillon says with a big grin.
I want nothing more for Dillon to be right. I grab my apron off the hook and tie it as I make my way to his side. He looks at my apron and lets out a chuckle as he shakes his head. I look down and can instantly feel the blush creep up my neck to my cheeks. “Wine Not” is displayed directly across my chest. I love this apron and really, “wine not”.
Over the next thirty minutes Dillon patiently tries to help me melt chocolate. I don’t care what anyone says, anyone can catch a pot of chocolate on fire. Dillon ushers us out of the kitchen so he can finish just as the first guests arrive.

Andrea Johnston spent her childhood with her nose in a book and a pen to paper. An avid people watcher, her mind is full of stories that yearn to be told.  A fan of angsty romance with a happy ending, super sexy erotica and a good mystery, Andrea can always be found with her Kindle nearby fully charged.
Andrea lives in Idaho with her family and two dogs.  When she isn’t spending time with her partner in crime aka her husband, she can be found binge watching all things Bravo and enjoying a cocktail. Nothing makes her happier than the laughter of her children, a good book, her feet in the water, and cocktail in hand all at the same time.

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Startup Spotlight: Let’s Go Du+ch!

Sharing experiences, creating memories, engaging with like-minded people, enjoying a richer life… this is the concept behind going “du+ch.” The company was born of longtime friends Vincent Paradiso and Debora McCleary, who partnered to create a social network for travel and entertainment. Both entrepreneurs in their previous lives, Vincent and Debora created a unique way for people to connect with others who would share the cost of excursions they may not otherwise have been able to experience due to excessive costs. Their efforts established a marketplace for sharing life’s adventures, big or small and I had the pleasure of catching up with Vincent to chat about some of his hopes, challenges, and goals for the future. I was also excited to gather a few sound bytes from Deb, who founded the premier New York beauty directory, The Debb Report. And you all know I’m a sucker for all things beauty and fashion… =)

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Vincent, prior to co-founding du+ch, you had a very successful professional career in ballet. What made you decide to delve into the world of entrepreneurship? 

I’ve always been bit of an entrepreneur. I love ballet, but I always knew I would do more. I’d always had an interest in real estate so I formed Paradiso Properties. My goal was to have multiple investment homes that I rent and manage, along with a real estate license to sell homes. But I quickly grew bored with my new career choice. I made money, but it wasn’t my passion. I started contemplating new ideas. I thought of all the amazing things I did with colleagues while on tour with NYCB, and how we would split the bill. We wouldn’t have been able to enjoy as much had we not shared the cost. I knew I had something but wasn’t ready to dive in. One night out with my girlfriend, I wanted to book bottle service at a club but didn’t want to pay $1,500. Our friends couldn’t join, so we skipped out and the idea for du+ch was born.

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Deb, what differences have you experienced between building du+ch and building the Debb Report? What unique challenges have you faced with each endeavor and how have you addressed them?

The first challenge with the Debb Report was having my partner drop out. I ended up funding the entire site on my own, and found a few friends to help me write all the salon bios that are (almost all) now in place. Updating my site is still a challenge, because aside from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram updates, I have to be on top of so much information. I realized that I couldn’t do it all on my own, especially with the time du+ch now needs. I recently hired a wonderful beauty/fashion blogger to help create original content to help grow my site and SEO. Having a partner who is fully engaged and committed is a necessity. Vincent and I definitely have a give and take when it comes to growing du+ch. We complement one another very well and have complete trust in each other, which is invaluable.  Because du+ch is an e-commerce site, it is a much more involved endeavor than my directory so Vincent and I are having to learn as we go. We constantly seek expertise from those who have done this before and people have been very generous with their time and knowledge.

Choosing the right partner is so important when founding a brand-new venture. How do you work through differences in opinion and what qualities do you each bring to the table?

(Vincent) Deb is a long time friend. We have great chemistry. When I approached her with du+ch, she was immediately ready to jump onboard. The key for us is making sure we always keep open lines of communication. She helps ground me and work through new ideas. As I’d mentioned earlier, the ideas don’t stop. You can’t attack all of them at once, you have to stay focused. du+ch would be nothing if I’d built it, then decided to go out and work on another idea. Being able to keep everything organized helps a lot. We have yet to have any major disagreements, but I believe we both are the types of people who will listen. We will acknowledge each others’ points, let them sink in, and compromise on a solution.

(Deb) Vincent and I agree on most things day-to-day, but when we disagree, we have a real ability to listen to one another and come to a joint agreement fairly easily.  Luckily we are both sane, thoughtful and committed to making du+ch a success, no matter how long it takes us.

What is the best part about running your own business?  

Exactly that, it’s mine. I’m directly responsible for its success and/or failure. I take great pride in bringing an idea to life. It’s challenging work, but when you know your hands are involved in every working aspect, it is so rewarding. I look forward to each and every day. I am constantly learning about every aspect of my business.

Du+ch is such a unique concept. Do you have plans to expand beyond more elite and trendy events? Do you see a market for couples, families, businesses?

Absolutely! We’re now in all of those markets. The beauty of du+ch is that everything on the site is user-generated. The same way you can sell anything on eBay, you can share anything on du+ch. It is a marketplace that puts the power of the sharing economy in the hands of the masses. You no longer have to build an app to enter this space, you can use our platform to share anything you want. Every user, individual or corporate, can host and search for anything they want to share. The look of our brand is luxurious, but users can share free events, basic group packages, or even ultra luxe experiences. We take the social element of Facebook events, the payment features of Eventbrite, and combine them into one site. The greatest thing is you can reach more than just your current circle. The point is, friends cannot always join in the fun. With du+ch, you can find those who can, get to know one another, and pool your funds to make anything within reach. The great thing about du*ch, and what separates us from a Groupon/Eventbrite, is our social transparency. Every user has a profile with reviews and verifications, so you can meet new people and feel comfortable sharing with them.

If you knew then what you know now, how might you have advised yourselves before launching du+ch? Any big aha! moments?

I would have been a lot more specific in the design and build of the website. I had it in my head, but translating it to developers was difficult. They needed every single specification and I didn’t anticipate providing them that level of detail. I would have also done more research on payment processors. When we create the app, I am going to document every last detailed requirement for the developers. I won’t leave any stone unturned.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? 

Discipline, focus and creativity. It is so important to stay disciplined. There are too many distractions surrounding us everyday – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. You have to resist the temptation and prioritize. You also have to focus on your goals, plan your short- and long-term strategies and then execute your plans to achieve them. That said, you have to remain creative, think out of the box and fill a perceived need. Always strive to disrupt the status quo.

What have been some of your failures since launching du+ch, and what have you learned from them?

I assumed once the site was built, the audience would come. I thought people would just find it, sign up and leverage the network, which wasn’t the case. I also focused too much energy on creating the perfect user experience. Marc Cuban once said, “Perfection is the enemy of profitability, you can try to make everything perfect, but you’re losing opportunity somewhere else.” What may seem perfect and simple to one may not be the same for others. I also mistakenly assumed that upon launch, I would play a support role. I didn’t realize I was going to have get out there and sell. That is the biggest challenge. Once you fill the need, you need to let the world know you’ve filled it. You have to make your own opportunities.

To what do you most attribute your success? What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?

Taking the lessons I’ve learned from the ballet and applying them to the business world. For both, you need to exhibit the discipline, focus, and creativity mentioned earlier, but you also have to be willing to fail, deal with rejection, perform, and not let anyone define you. We failed all the time while dancing. If a step wasn’t executed as expected, you didn’t give up. Instead, you figured out what went wrong, fixed it, repeated it, and tried to perfect it.  We dealt with rejection on a regular basis. In business, you have to do the same. Not everyone will love you or embrace your vision and that’s okay. So many of my most rewarding experiences came from taking a leap. Never be afraid of failure.

How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

Getting the word out is our biggest challenge, especially on a shoestring budget. I have seen a big jump in traffic when I advertise and share available listings on Facebook, but it hasn’t converted much yet. One experience that did convert was dinner with a private chef. The price was extremely reasonable and users wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. We are working on lining up fun yet cost-effective experiences. Giving corporate partners a chance to list group deals as they would with Groupon, but without the heavy fees, will help line up some great offerings. I also notice that when I do interviews like this, we get a major boost. I think it helps so much to get the word out. This interview engages a new audience and helps us connect with them. Some readers may skim our story, some may read the whole thing, some will love it, some will hate it, but either way I just grabbed the attention of a potential user and was able to get my entire message across. It is the best way to acquire new users and highlight interest in our brand.

Follow du+ch: Website  Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube Instagram

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What Would You Do To Win A $50 Amazon Gift Card???

Maybe you’d sign up for my super-awesome exclusive reader list???

If you’re reading this and have already signed up, FANTASTIC! Thank you!!! But for all of you who are still not convinced, give me a chance to make you a fan!!! I think I’m a lot of fun! And you may find we have a lot in common!!

You’d get a monthly email with great giveaways, the inside scoop on book updates, new releases, my favorite beauty and fashion finds, contests, and cool posts from my entrepreneur blog, The Idea Mama.

So, for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card, all you need to do is sign up by clicking this link!

The giveaway will be open until August 5 at midnight EST. Don’t miss out!

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Take Control Of Your Future And Reap The Rewards

Self-published authors have a pretty steep learning curve if they want to joint the ranks of the bestsellers. And I’m not talking about the Amazon bestsellers, I’m talking about the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. Not an easy feat. It also doesn’t happen for everyone. Authors can bust their tails for years and years, writing book after book and never make it.

So is it possible to make their dreams become a reality?

Absolutely – through education and execution.

I watched a video tonight, hosted by Nick Stephenson, bestselling fiction author and entrepreneur. His book, Supercharge Your Kindle Sales, is flipping fantastic!! He provides invaluable insight about self-publishing and how to launch a successful author career on his website, Your First 10K Readers. But what I want to point out to you here is a really great point made in the video… one that’s not only applicable to self-pubbed authors but also to aspiring entrepreneurs.

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Here’s the gist. Authors have a choice. They can endlessly spin their wheels, trying to figure out how the publishing industry works while using trial and error to test new ways of gaining traction and visibility for their work.

OR…

They can make an investment in their careers and pay for that knowledge. Learning from someone else’s missteps can save a tremendous amount of time and money. It can also preserve their sanity. =)

Then, they can apply their newfound knowledge and execute their success strategy.

Business training group organization concept. Team of students learning from mentor sharing common vision for education success as gears and cogs shaped as human head on gray background.

Business training group organization concept. Team of students learning from mentor sharing common vision for education success as gears and cogs shaped as human head on gray background.

This advice definitely hits home for me as an author as well as an entrepreneur. What Nick is saying makes so much sense. If you’re looking to build a business – whether it be in publishing or another industry – spend time up front to figure out how to avoid common pitfalls. The intelligence you can gather is worth the investment and it will help guide your decision-making processes. Save the time for doing what you love and apply the tried-and-true methods of building your success. Leverage lessons learned and reap the rewards earlier.

Why put off until tomorrow what you could definitely achieve TODAY?

Cover Reveal & Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!!!

Okay… I’ve been waiting for this for soooooo long and I just had to do a giveaway to celebrate the great news!!!

Click Here To Enter The Rafflecopter Giveaway!!!

Drum roll, please…

I give you… the cover for “Nothing Ventured!” Book Two of The Venture Series will be available in early Fall! For more news and fun giveaways leading up to the launch, join my Facebook fan club, The Stiletto Click, and LIKE my Facebook page!!!

Check out the synopsis below… =)

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Synopsis

Mia Bradshaw realized long ago that falling in love is a harbinger of pain. As a single mom working for one of the most prestigious venture capital firms in the country, she doesn’t have time for serious emotional entanglements. Her sort-of–friend boy is dependable, respectful and…okay, fine, maybe a little lukewarm but whatever! Who ever said there was anything wrong with being…vanilla? It’s safe, low-risk and not fraught with conflict and heart wrenching disappointment.

Chris Camden is one of the most eligible bachelors in northern California. A successful entrepreneur with a hot car and a panty-dropping grin doesn’t need to do much to keep his bed warm at night. His smoldering hazel-eyed gaze makes women melt at his feet. No strings, no conditions, no questions – just the way he likes it. Why should he settle for just one when there are so many sizzling alternatives begging for a spin?

A coveted opportunity to partner with Chris’s company stirs up emotions that threaten everything Mia’s been so careful to protect and control. The guy with more lines than a crowded supermarket before a snowstorm can singe her insides with the slightest accidental touch, proof that she needs to steer clear.

But reality hurls a very unexpected curve ball that can change Mia’s life in a heartbeat. And sometimes…the perception of safety is relative.

Buy “UNLIKELY VENTURE” – Book One of The Venture Series:

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I Need Some Advice…And A Line Of Credit

Let’s face it. New business owners have a heck of a lot to learn when they’re first starting out and they often learn very costly lessons. Wouldn’t it be great to have a trusted funding resource with expertise in your industry, which could guide decision-making with sound advice and help you better manage your financial resources?

Back in my handbag design days, I spent a lot of time and money trying to boil the ocean. That’s a big-time business cliché, I know, but it really was applicable. I didn’t know what handbag styles would be a hit so I created a lot of different prototypes just in case, in an attempt to please as many potential customers as possible. Damn, that was a pricey error in judgement. I cast too wide a net and didn’t narrow in on my target demographic. Then, I spent an insane amount of money on PR to reach all those potential customers. Another waste. Bad mistakes turned into colossally huge ones because I became desperate….to make money, to get press, to find customers.

Presenting a new idea - crowdfunding or community funding concept

Presenting a new idea – crowdfunding or community funding concept

It would have been great NOT to max out a bunch of credit cards and work with a funding source that could have provided advice along with a line of credit. I could have owed much less and worked with financial experts in the fashion industry who could have provided valuable insight around the right areas of focus for my fledgling business.

A roadmap for expansion is critical but it’s hard to know, early on, what components should be included. Once you decide your focus, it’s much easier to correctly allocate funds. I think starting out, small business owners need that guidance from people who’ve made mistakes in expanding their own businesses or have seen mistakes others have made and can provide valuable insight about common pitfalls to avoid.

Figure out your target audience, determine where they “play”, then figure out how to reach them where they are most affected by your message. Learn from people who’ve been successful in the past and take advantage of their failures. There are always pearls of wisdom to be gained. Establish relationships and nurture them, as they are absolutely critical in growing a business. Determine the “what” and “why”, then ask questions and do research to establish the “how.”

Once your roadmap is set, find a lending partner who you can vet your plans with and who can guide your financial decisions. Leverage every source of knowledge available to you and choose the trusted lender that can provide advisement in addition to cash.

FOCUS!!!! And Then Drink To Your Success

I came across a quote from Lori Greiner the other day and it is flipping brilliant. For those of you who don’t know who she is, if you’re an entrepreneur, Google her. Like, right NOW. She’s the reigning “Queen of QVC” and one of the stars of NBC’s “Shark Tank” – the one they refer to as “the shark with the heart.” LOL. But it’s true. She’s smart, insightful and knows a good deal when she sees it but she always exercises sensitivity to the plight of the aspiring entrepreneurs that parade their wares around the tank. Okay, so clearly I have a girl-crush…

“Dear optimist, pessimist, and realist–while you guys were busy arguing about the glass of wine, I drank it! Sincerely, the opportunist!”

See? She loves wine, too. How can I not be smitten?? =)

But this quote holds true for me in so many respects (other than the booze…LOL!). More often than not, I have at least fifty things going on at once. The past month has been particularly busy – between building up Author Navigation, blogging, editing two of my books and writing a brand-new one, my creative juices were leaking all over the place. My focus was…hell, there WAS no focus, just endless lists of to do’s and never getting dones.

Do you know what that means?

Potentially missed opportunities. I would have been snoozing on that glass of wine because my mind was full of scattered thoughts with no definitive paths to meet any discernible goal. A jumble of ideas is absolutely useless if you can’t flesh them out and apply the ideal amount of focus. Multi-tasking is all well and good but we’re best when we keep our eye on the prize. Remember that. =)

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Indie Author Swag Extravaganza Giveaway!!!

Author Navigation is sponsoring an indie author swag extravaganza this week! In honor of the July 4th holiday and the launch of new entrepreneurial ventures (I ALWAYS CELEBRATE THIS!), Ryan Ringbloom and I have collected a fabulous assortment of swag, autographs and signed BOOKS from our fellow indie authors and we’re hosting a giveaway to find one lucky winner for this awesome prize pack!!!

Click here to enter the Indie Author Extravaganza Giveaway!

giveaway

Tons of autographed beach reads await!!! We also have an assortment of lip glosses, magnets, keychains, bracelets, bookmarks and pens AND a shot glass. =)

“Books, Blogs & Reality” by Ryan Ringbloom

“Unlikely Venture” by Kristen Luciani

“Beneath The Layers” by Mia Rivers

“Whole Life Makeover” by Shealy James

“Affliction” by Kelly Mooney

“The Hidden Witch by Eri Nelson

“By My Side” by Theresa Troutman

“Hit or Mistletoe” by HJ Harley

Winners will be announced on July 8. Don’t miss your chance. =)

 

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