Summer Sizzle & A Gift Card Giveaway!

This summer has been super busy, and we’re only halfway through JULY!!! Yikes! So much to do, and never enough time to get it all done.

I’m really excited about my upcoming releases, Fatal Lies and Hard Time. Fatal Lies comes out in a few short weeks, and it’s my very first romantic suspense story. You can check out the first chapter on Wattpad by clicking here.

And Hard Time is the full saga of Ariana and Jeff, who made their sexy debut appearance in the Drunk In Love anthology to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. I use the word saga because, at almost 70K words, it’s the longest book I’ve ever written. LOL!

So, to make sure you don’t miss a single update on theses releases, I’m hosting a GIVEAWAY!!!! Click here to enter! Multiple chances to win! The contest closes on July 20, and the winner will be notified by email.

 

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Never put all of your eggs into one basket.

We’ve all heard this at least a million times, right? Diversify your interests. Always give yourself options. Variety is the spice of life.

My issue? Too many freaking baskets.

I always bite off more than I can chew – figuratively and literally, like the shrimp taco I had to stuff into my mouth last night before the fillings busted out and ruined my new shirt. I never want to miss an opportunity, so I sacrifice time spent on other endeavors. For example, I’d probably be able to finish a book much faster if I wasn’t writing three others at the same time.

In a nutshell? I lack focus, which in turn, gives me stress. And there is no shortage of stress in my life, so I decided it was time for me to calm the hell down. Easier said than done.

I tried meditation. I’d just heard on the radio how Hugh Jackman and his wife attributed their successful marriage to meditation, so I figured it was worth a try. Except I got too stressed out trying to block out all of my thoughts. I didn’t want to focus on my breathing. I had a book to finish, and a cover to design, and a website to design, and a blog post to write, and…well, you get the idea. No bueno.

Even my daily workouts were stressing me out. I don’t leave the house, everything gets done right here at home. But sometimes, it’s hard for me to close my laptop and start lifting, especially if I’m in the middle of a scene or designing a user interface for a new app. And that happens quite often. So much for the elusive endorphins.

Until a week ago, I thought I was doomed. But then I made a choice that has finally given me some peace. Kickboxing. I know, I know. How can beating the ever-living crap out of a heavy bag bring you peace? Simply because you are so spent at the end of an hour-long class, you can’t possibly have the energy to be stressed. You unleash everything on the bag – stress, angst, anger, frustration – you use it all against your inanimate opponent and once you are finished. you walk out of the building lighter, happier, looser and – wait for it – FOCUSED.

Healthy body, healthy and CLEAR mind.

Novel FINISHED. =)

Create A Natural & Gorgeous Face In Less Than 10 Minutes!

I love the natural look, especially when I’m already late for whatever appointment I’m running to (which happens ALL THE TIME) and don’t have time to apply a full face of makeup. Quick and flawless are my primary makeup goals during the week. So, I decided to do a video to show you exactly how to achieve that in less than ten minutes!

I did cheat a bit, so I could show you the finished product on half my face. =)

This is perfect for the summer, too, since nobody likes the feel of heavy make up clogging your pores in the hot and steamy weather.

Get this look and GET GORGEOUS!!!

it Cosmetics CC Cream in Medium

Smashbox Contour Palette

MAC Powder Blush in Mocha Matte

Tarte Lightning Palette in Skin Twinkle

Rimmel Lipliner in Cappuccino

MAC Lipstick in Angel

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eyecolor in Rosegold

Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes Mat Black 0L

 

Still Grumbling About The Season Finale of Billions

I suspected the season finale of Billions was going to piss me off, and in large part, it delivered. I hate seeing Axe beaten down, and he was, until the very end when he was staring at his house before walking inside to face his family. I hated that he lied to Lara about coming home before the Feds picked him up, I hated when she realized he’d lied…again, I hated that he didn’t say “I love you” to his kids, and I really hated that it was Wendy who got Lara’s goodbye hug.

I am an Axe supporter. Always have been. I tell my husband that Axe could pretty much slit someone’s throat on screen, and I’d still take his side because knowing Axe, there would be a legitimate reason for the slashing.

Sick? Maybe. But not as sick as the fact that Rhoades Sr. finally redeemed himself to me after showing Chuck the pictures of Wendy and that dude the morning after. Yeah, that part of the finale actually made me smile.

Now, if you know me, everything you’re read to this point makes sense because I am pretty much driven by emotion, not logic. And nothing I say above is any bit logical. Notice that I’m blatantly ignoring the fact that Axe committed a crime and that’s why he was arrested. LOL.

This episode had a lot of feels in my opinion, which is why I still feel gutted days later. Axe is a criminal. He knows it, everyone around him knows it. He doesn’t try to hide it, he just comes up with some damned creative ways to gloss over it. And most of the time, he succeeds. He marches to the beat of his own drummer, and it’s burned him a few times this season, especially with his wife. But he’s still human under the all the ego. Not perfect, but certainly not the villain.

But Chuck…there is nothing remotely redeemable about him, the US Attorney, driven by some pretty deep-rooted vengeance thinly masked by justice. What about Axe has Chuck’s tighty whiteys in such a bunch after all these years? Is it that he always gets what he wants, no matter what the cost? Is it that he has a blatant disrespect for the law? Or…is it as simple as Axe has risen to the top on his own merit and answers to no one because he has nothing to lose? Chuck always has to answer to someone, he always has Big Brother, or rather, Big Daddy, watching over his shoulder. He can’t ever act without consequence. Axe does because he can. His success is his own. He started with nothing and built an empire, whereas Chuck is always choking on the huge silver spoon shoved down his throat. He’s never had to create a life for himself – it was always ready and waiting.

Chuck wants to be Axe. Not in the literal sense, but in the sense that he wants to be able to spread his wings and leave his own legacy without being overshadowed by privilege. But when your life is not your own, it’s hard to escape the nest. Axe will always rise because it’s the only thing he knows how to do. Chuck will always be at risk to take a nosedive into the ground because he has to operate within the walls of structure. Axe’s fortress has no walls. It knows no bounds. It’s organized chaos.

Okay, I feel a little bit better now. Wow, this writing thing sure is therapeutic. =)

 

Why Authors Should Adopt The Mindset of An Entrepreneur

I’d recently guest posted on The Authorteers and wanted to share with you all here as well. =)

I don’t accept criticism well. Oh sure, I say I can handle less-than-stellar feedback. But then when it comes, I sit with my eyes open wide, nodding my head as the critiques pelt me like icy cold drops during a monsoon-like rainstorm, a tight smile stretching my lips so they won’t quiver… yep, I crumble like a house of sand. Worst poker player ever. You always know what I’m thinking… always.

I think this is attributable to a few different factors. First and foremost, I’m an approval seeker. I crave accolades, and positive reinforcement totally charges me. Second, I have an insane amount of passion for my endeavors, whether it be handbag design, writing, blogging, or my career in general. I work hard and when I really believe wholeheartedly in the quality of my efforts, I want them to be recognized. It’s not enough for me to be satisfied with the end result. And when people I care about are less than starry-eyed over something I’ve done, well, it’s a tough pill for me to swallow.

Such was the case this weekend. My husband and greatest supporter, read a book I’d recently finished. He is not a romance reader, but he loved my other books to the extent he could, as someone who much prefers reading Michael Creighton. I felt certain he’d love this one too and truth be told, I was excited for him to read it because I think it’s my best one yet.

But there were no kudos for this story. Instead, I got a boatload of Post-Its and an overall assessment of “it’s… okay.”

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Heartbreaking is the only word I can use.

So by now you’re probably wondering – why is she telling me all this?

Trust me, there is a point.

I took a chance with my manuscript. Publishing a story with a predictable plot isn’t going to send people flying to Amazon and elicit gasps as the scenes unfold on their e-readers. I chose to push the envelope and navigate outside the norm. Maybe it will be to my detriment but I wanted to give my readers something a little different. I took a risk that may turn people off or make them die-hard fans because I believe in myself and my work.

Criticism is tough to swallow but it’s not always a bad thing if it drives you harder and helps you perfect your end product. Don’t give in to self-doubt. Stay true to yourself. Embrace any feedback that will help you achieve your goals.

My advice? Think like an entrepreneur! Establishing an author platform is similar to launching a new business, so why not adopt the mentality that will help you sharpen your focus and build your brand?

Start Up Business Launch Success Office Desk Concept

Passion Is A MUST! – Trying to gain traction with any new endeavor can be extremely disheartening at times so the more you believe in your offering and your ability to sell it to the masses, the more effective your end product (and outlook) will become.

Listen To The Naysayers! – Don’t delude yourself into thinking your offering is the end-all, be-all.  You need a thick skin if you’re going to succeed as an entrepreneur. People will slam your ideas. Get used to it. Graciously accept criticism and feedback then figure out how to respond to objections. Figure out what your key differentiating points are and highlight those to everyone and anyone.

Never Be Complacent! – You’ll have to work harder than you’ve ever worked before to create momentum and then work even harder to KEEP it. I heard a really cool quote this weekend that totally applies. I was at a writing conference and a number of bestselling authors were presenting on sales strategies. They all said market yourself like you’re nobody EVEN IF you’re somebody. This applies to ALL business endeavors.

Be Restless! – Let your creativity flow! Don’t be complacent and accept the status-quo. Dig deep and figure out to disrupt. Take risks! It’s okay to incorporate new ideas into your offering. Make it as compelling as possible and if at first you don’t succeed…. well, you know the rest.

A Musical.ly Featuring Peanut Butter & Jelly???

My lovely daughter Lulu has been hounding me DAILY to record a musical.ly and today, I caved. Only problem is, I haven’t worked out yet and I now have a full face of makeup. #problems

“But Mom, you hate working out anyway.”

Sigh. This is true.

Check out this musical.ly made by @ kristen_luciani with musical.ly app: https://www.musical.ly/v/MzA3NDExMzA0NzYxMTI0MjEyNzc2OTY.html. Get the app and follow me: http://musical.ly/download

Here’s what I used to create this delicious look:

Lipstick – MAC Cremesheen Lipstick – Creme Cup

Lipliner – Jordana Cosmetics Easyliner for Eyes 15 Eggplant (The one I used is Palladio, but it is no longer available for sale. The Jordana liner is a great substitute!

Blush – MAC Blush Powder – Mocha

Mascara – L’Oreal Paris Telescopic Mascara, Carbon Black

Eyeliner – Christian Dior Diorshow Art Pen Eyeliner for Women, No. 095 Noir Podium

Eye Shadow – Too Faced Peanut Butter and Jelly Eye Shadow Collection Palette

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I Want To Smell Like Happy Hour…In A Yummy Way…

I love scented body cream, but of the brands I’ve tried, I haven’t found one that moisturizes as well as it smells. Until now…

Soap & Glory makes a body buttercream that is thick, goes on smooth, nourishes my skin and makes me smell like a lemon drop martini!!!! Helps get me through the week. =)

It’s actually lime-scented, but that’s what my mind conjures up when I’m slathering myself with it. By the way, never fully towel off before you apply the body butter…your skin will suck it in better if it’s wet.

Soap And Glory Sugar Crush Moisture Extreme Body Buttercream

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And if you can’t get enough of this delicious tangy scent, take it in the shower with you, lather up and scrub, scrub, scrub! Mmm… so delish. And it makes your skin feel soft, fresh, and polished. OMG, this whole product line makes me pine for Friday at 5:00!

Soap And Glory Sugar Crush Body Scrub With Smashed Brown Sugar & Lime

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Soap And Glory Sugar Crush Fresh And Foamy Body Wash Sweet Lime Fragrance

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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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Drawing Inspiration From The Silver Screen?

I read an interesting article in Forbes today titled Four Movies Every Entrepreneur Needs To Watch.

Cool picks, couple of my faves made the cut. Definitely check them out. Chris Myers has some interesting perspectives to share and I have a few of my own selections to add to the list.

The Pursuit Of Happyness

Chris Gardner. If his story doesn’t make you want to grab life by the horns and charge, I don’t know what will. The guy had no resources, a young son whose livelihood depended on his success but man, did he have the will to win. Entrepreneurs often face seemingly insurmountable obstacles and the successful ones never let themselves get burdened with a defeatist mentality. Frustration may reign temporarily but at the end of the day, they’ll do what they need to grow and prosper.

Take away? Never let a lack of resources hold you back from accomplishing your goals. Stay true to your dreams and push forward until you reach them.

Moneyball

I bet Hubby will like this one. =)

An interesting pick from me but in this case, it totally fits the list. Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland A’s, figured out there were certain stats that were better indicators of offensive success and it turned out those stats were cheaper to buy on the open market than more commonly tracked stats, like speed. By re-evaluating the way the industry identified and paid for talent and fundamentally changing their win strategy, the Oakland A’s made it to the playoffs in 2002 and 2003 with a fraction of their competitors’ payrolls.

The end result? Management transformed their way of thinking and strategizing, yielding huge returns for the team for years to come.

Iron Man

Okay, this one is a no-brainer and not just because I have a tiny celebrity crush on RDJ. Genius billionaire playboy philanthropist…hello!!! He’d been kidnapped and forced to make a weapon of mass destruction. Instead, using a box of scraps and his engineering brilliance, he created a powered suit of armor used to escape his captors. Yup, Tony Stark, probably the sexiest entrepreneur to strut the Earth, transformed himself into a superhero whose cutting-edge technology ultimately saved the world.

Message? A new take on an existing product can make a business explode with possibilities (no pun intended).

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Compete At Your Peril?

I just started reading “Zero To One” by Silicon Valley innovator, entrepreneur and prominent venture capitalist, Peter Thiel. He presents a unique way of thinking as a key ingredient for startup success. Startups have to generate new ideas and act on them rapidly to grow and expand their operations. That’s really the only way they can survive. They have to think out of the box and react quickly to take advantage of perceived market trends. Because of their small size, they can be nimble and test/document/respond to their ideas and deliver them in market with tight turnaround timeframes.

Courtesy of www.forbes.com

Courtesy of www.forbes.com

But that’s not an easy feat when you have to deal with that pesky little problem called competition. Yes, it fuels the creative flame but sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up in the rat race. As a small business owner, you need to make sure your brand stands out from the rest in a positive way otherwise you’ll never get the recognition you need to prosper.

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Competition is healthy to a point. It drives us to excel but it can divert our attention from developing new ways of becoming even better. Think of it this way. You make giglets and compete with three other giglet manufacturers. It’s all-out war between your companies because you are all struggling to be the number one giglet manufacturer in the world, all focused on being more attractive to prospective buyers, using new colors, shapes and sizes to differentiate your offerings from those of your foes, tearing down the competition at every turn, thinking, hoping and praying these methods will advance your sales goals.

But you’re all missing the critical element of innovation. Changing small facets of your product to make it look a little nicer isn’t transformational. It’s imitative and largely ineffective in the grand scheme of things. Focusing all your efforts on competing with others in your space is a waste of time, effort and resources and will only get you marginal results until another giglet manufacturer comes along and figures out how to take the show to the next level. Then POOF! Your giglets are history.

Instead, figure out what your brand brings to the table, what your value proposition is and how you can make your offering more relevant to the lives of your targeted customers. Do something BRAND NEW and go from ZERO to ONE. That type of thinking and execution results in positive impacts to your bottom line. Get out of the way of your competition. Let them spend their precious time battling for that top spot. You focus energy, time and effort on what makes your offering inherently great or how you can GET TO GREAT.

Your path to the top will then be within reach.

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