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Imagine that you own a cheesecake baking company.  You throw yourself into this small business, and yet no one comes into the store.  Well you certainly can't sell your cheesecake  if no one knows you have this bakery.  Someone suggests that you hire a company that will get you a number of people that will try your cheesecake and right a review.  This review company has a list of food bloggers who will write a review on top review hotspots, you need only send them a cheesecake.  Your job is to put together a description of your cheesecake.  You do this, you send it to the Review Company, and they send it out to the bloggers and professional food reviewers, many like your description, so you decide who to send it to.  You send out 50 cheesecakes, this is expensive and you are nervous and go without the little things because you know, if you can just get the word out you can make it.  You brace yourself because you know you will get good, bad, and iffy cake reviews.  You wait, and in the end only 3 people actually get around to trying your cheesecake, they love it, write an honest review, you are somewhat happy, I mean no bad reviews, but only 3? 
      Flash forward 3 years.  You receive an email from one of these reviewers who tells you: Hi, just wanted to let you know that I got your cheesecake a while back, I licked it but just didn't like it, so I won't be writing a review or even eating a full piece of it.
     Would you be upset? 
     You paid the reviewing company hundreds of dollars.  It cost you 8.00 for a cake, and another 3.50 to ship it. 
     Now lets talk about it from a different point of view.  I am an independent author.  I have a couple books published traditionally and a couple I personally published.   You may ask why, and I will get into that a bit later.  Now I used the cheesecake as an example because for some reason, when it comes to art, people suddenly forget that work and money are involved. 
     So let us talk about hired reviewers.  One can pay a company that has taken the time to find blogs, commenters, and professional reviewers.  These reviewers get free copies of whatever they are going to review, why?  They get a free product, plus make money off their blogs by writing about these products, all in all it is a win-win for all those involved.  The reviewing company gets paid.  The blogger gets free stuff plus makes money off blog posts, and the author, if the review is good, will get noticed.  (some bloggers, or reviewers actually take it even further and have the author pay between $25.00 to a few hundred dollars for a review)
     Why was I upset?  This lady didn't write a bad review, she simply said to me: I started reading it, got a few pages in, I couldn't get into it, so I won't be writing a review.  I was upset because one: she was given a free product, for better or worse, she was in a sense promising to deliver a product, a review...because unfortunately no reviews is sometimes seen as worse than a bad review (And waiting 3-years was simply wrong).  Two, she didn't even bother to read it and surprise, I write because I want someone to read what I write, I am just like most human beings and would like someone to understand what is beneath the facade .  And three, after I went to her blog I wondered why she would accept the book in the first place when it is clear that she writes about romance novels, self-help, and mommy books.  In a sense, it was like sending a cheesecake to someone who only likes chocolate cake.  If you know you don't like cheesecake, why take a free one?
     Honestly Castigate My Sins is a very dark book, not everyone can get into it.  It has murder, death, limbo, child abuse, child prostitution, drugs, and a sense of a world gone mad.  It questions the Devil's motives.  I fully expected some bad reviews, but no reviews that is almost worse, because it is like I am nothing, not even worth an hour or two or reading time.  Ugh, that hurt the most.
     Now this Review Company didn't deliver the product.  They promised that their reviewers delivered.  I already severed ties with them.  I actually am to a place where I question: Is it wise to pay for a review?  Doesn't it somehow taint the artistic processes? Possibly.  We are now in a time where companies are teaching authors how to trick people into buying a piece of crap book.   And I don't want that.  I want people to keep their hard earned money and to only buy my book if they think they will enjoy it.  This puts me in a strange place because we know, money makes the world go round.  (I live under the hope that one day people will understand that it is love and friendship that makes the world go round.)
     So what can I do?  I obviously need reviews, and comments, and people talking about my books.  There must be an honest way to do it.  And I believe, word of mouth is probably the most honest way, but like all things, it does take a bit more time. 
     All right.  Thank you for visiting and thank you for listening to me complain about being invisible.  As always have a beautiful day!!!  Oh, and if you have a moment, please take a look at my books: HERE ;-)

 
 
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I hear the cheer: “be aggressive, be… be...  Aggressive!”  Alas, too often people think that being assertive is likened to being an aggressive mean person (to put it politely).

This article is highly influenced off Michael Powell’s: How to be Assertive. J  Thank you Mr. Powell.

Let’s talk first about the difference between being assertive and being aggressive.  Aggression or aggressive behavior is when one expresses their wants in a way much like a sucker punch.  “Oh yeah, well take that!” They tend to push their views and communicate with threats or put-downs. “You are either with us or against us!”  While an assertive person will express their needs in a direct way, yet maintain respect for the other person’s views and needs.

Note: Some people avoid being assertive because they don’t want to be unpopular, and have the mentality of: “Go along to get along.”  Yet, in the end, if you honestly express yourself with empathy, you will see that you will be more likeable and worthy of respect.

Let’s get down to it.  How to be Assertive with these helpful hints. 

  • Keep Calm! Anger is a sign of weakness not strength.  Assertive people control their emotions.  Now this is a hard one for some, namely me.  A helpful tip: practice.  My husband and I enjoy healthy debates on philosophical topics.  You would be surprised how much practicing helps.  If all else fails, and the person you are speaking with is out of control, sometimes listening, without speaking, can help, if that fails, don’t be afraid to walk away and talk to them later. 
  • Your words need to match your actions. Speak clearly, keep eye contact, and try to keep an open posture.  I often like to have my hands palm up and open when I am in a negative situation. And keep in mind that honesty is the best, a simple: “I won’t, I’ve decided not to,” emphasizes that you have made up your mind.  Try to avoid, “I can’t” because this implies that you have no power.
  • Don’t apologize for your decision.  Now this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apologize in life when you have done something wrong, making a decision is not wrong.  Now before you think this means you are being mean…let’s take it with a context.  From Mr. Powell: “If you receive a sales call from a company asking if they can spare a moment of your time, saying: “No, but thank you for calling. Goodbye.” Is a polite and assertive way of ending further communication, whereas saying: “No, sorry, I’m very busy at the moment…” gives the caller the option of asking “May I call you later?” which will probably result in another excuse from you: “No, sorry.” You end the conversation feeling guilty, exploited, and irritated.”  A side note on this: I have family members in the call business, and I assure you, they would rather have an honest no, than someone who is lying to be “polite.” It wastes both of your time. 
  • Very important: You must acknowledge, inside of yourself, that you have every right to change your mind! Period.  If your relationship has grown toxic, you are miserable, you have a right to walk away.  Remember this is your life.
  • You must understand what it is that you need in order to convey that in a conversation or situation.  If you don’t know what you want, how can you express it?
  • My favorite, something I do rather well with: Don’t be afraid to be different.  Don’t be afraid to stand out in a crowd.  Embrace your own identity.  If you don’t drink, don’t be pressured into it.  This is one that many have a hard time with, they feel this undeniable urge to conform, but this will and does prevent them from expressing their own needs.  We see this a lot on Social Media.  Think how wonderful the online world would be, if we could all grow up, be assertive…without being aggressive.
  • This takes us right into the absolute must: You MUST understand that everyone, EVERYONE has a different opinion (this is the spice of life). If you understand this, you will understand that conflicts are inevitable, but with acceptances and assertive action, without being a dick, can help with navigating this sea of life.   Example: I home school, but I still understand the importance and need for public schooling. 
  • Compromise.  Ah, you thought being assertive meant you always get what you want.  This one isn’t the easiest to sum up, so might I suggest reading books on negotiation.
  • If you don’t have enough information take the time to ask questions and clarify your position as well as the other persons. Take your time, and never be bullied into making quick uninformed decisions.
  • Lastly; remember that assertive behavior is a means to restore power balance into a relationship.  It does not seek to: Win at all costs. 


 
 
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I arrived in Tucson Arizona on Saturday March 14th around 7 p.m. after a 10-hour drive, 1- hour trapped in traffic (video of drive below).  I order room service and decided I needed to get some sleep as I knew the 15th would be busy.  Wake: Festival, then another drive for 6.5 hours.
     I had fallen asleep but was woken, at 3 a.m., by a loud thump.  Honestly it sounded like someone had picked up another human being and thrown them against the wall.  Shouting was heard, followed by screaming, right above me. (I always stay on the ground level of hotels).  Three people were fighting.  Two men and a woman.  The violence reached a fever pitch, and just as I am thinking: Oh, I should probably call the police, the woman managed to reach the door and runaway (that is how loud they were, I could hear everything they were doing).  One of the the men shouted after her saying something like, "F- you Jenny!  Don't come back!  We are over!"  And so I think: Oh good, the girl is gone.  Needless to say I took awhile to fall back asleep, but around 5 a.m. the hotel was surrounded by ten cop cars, and soon enough the area was taped off.
     At this point I get out of bed, get dressed, and head toward the lobby, where everyone is a buzz.  I ask the front desk clerk what happened and all he said, over and over again was:  Everything is fine, everything is fine.  Well that was of no help.  I grab some coffee and walk around, trying to assess what happened, that is when a couple walked by and whispered that a girl was murdered.  My heart sank.  I promptly went back to my room, and sat down.  -- Why did she come back?  She had gone away!  - - Now try as I might, I can't find any information on the internet I will continue to look to confirm, nevertheless, something very bad happened right above me...leaving me feeling like...I need to get out of this hotel.... And the question of: Why?  Why are people so violent toward each other. 
     Lucky me I was scheduled for 10:15, so I packed up and left for the Festival of Books. 
     Bully:  Now I understand that sometimes it is hard to be nice and polite while you are sitting under the blazing sun for 2-hours.  I understand that this particular Author had some expectations that were not met....but....I call it like I see it: Bully you were!  There we are 10-Authors: 10 different genres: I was booked under Thrillers: Psychological.  The first hour: only a hand-full of people walked by.  The sun seemed relentless, and 4 of the authors (all newbies, as in: this was their first published novel) were getting restless and probably nervous.  I was lucky, I was sitting next to a well established author and we chatted back and forth about the possible murder at the hotel and wondered: Why did the girl come back? 
     Another fifteen minutes went by and I thought: I will have to draw the few people in.  So I stood up and started engaging people.  I brought them over, gave them a pen and candy and talked about my book.  I was a regular car salesman. (At least this is what my bully author started calling me behind my back...quiet enough to act like she was just talking to her fellow panel of authors--but loud enough for me to hear)
     I sold a few books, and then a military gentleman walked over and I talked and laughed with him for about 10-minutes...This is when she really got mad at me.  And when he walked off with the promise to share my book with his fellow army mates....She said really loud:  "Oh, I'm sorry.  I am an author, not a salesman.  I didn't write my book just to become a sleazy salesman." 
     I turned around and just looked at her.  I get it.  I hate the tutorials that help authors "trick" people into buying their piece of crap book, from using the right color scheme, to advertising, to down right trickery.  But let's face it...Being at a book festival and just sitting on a panel of "authors" staring into space, not engaging anyone...well...It is kind of creepy.  The Author next to me said not to worry about it and I let it slid off my back, no worries...
     The big question, as our time closed, was: Where was everyone?  I talked to about 40 people.  My fellow veteran novelists all agreed:  We should have easily talked to 200.  Well I packed up, paid my sales tax and sought out the answer.
     What was the answer?  Where was everyone?  I'll give you a name:
          Noam Chomsky.
     If you don't recognize the name, click on the above link, I am sure you will recognize his face.  He is a Master of the Written Word.  Over 90 books and more. 
An activist, philosopher, a man of knowledge and of great insight. His line was so long it wrapped around an entire building and I would dare say nearly a thousand people were in the line.  As much as I like to toot my own horn, I am not in the league of Mr, Chomsky.  Basically it is like an actor in a local theater play competing with Brad Pitt.
     BUT....
      The big BUT...  I am fine with that.  Mr. Chomsky deserved the turn out he has worked over forty years building.  And honestly, if I had the time, I would have loved to have met the guy, but alas I had a seven hour drive ahead of me, which I am sure his line was going to take about that long to get through.  Advice; Know who is signing a book at your allotted time slot.
    
     Final Thoughts: While I get that being a writer changes some people, it hasn't changed me.  I like talking to people, listening to their stories and talking to them about mine.  I talked to 40 people, found out the best places to stay, how to save up for a vacation to Venice Italy, school life, friends, talked to a morose girl about her college life, and what others like to read....While my bully friend only talked to her fellow authors and said maybe a handful of words to people who asked about her work.  Needless to say the poor girl sold zero books :(    ...    In the end, we should not let "society" or "stereotypes" about a job define who we are.  To be honest a lot of people use to think authors were reclusive people who drank too much and were antisocial.  But does this describe ALL authors?  Can't we be a little of both antisocial and very social when need be?  And really, does getting your book published somehow make you a better person?  How rude of her to say that salesmen are sleazy....While certainly some are...not all fit into this category.  And really, she was implying that a salesman was worth less than an author...hmm.... what a rude thing to say. 
     While it is really easy to define a person by their job or lot in life, I choose to talk to everyone, listen to their stories, and I think life should be full of diversity and beauty and not based on rigid stereotypes. 
     All in all I had a lovely trip and did some deep thinking and will share some more thoughts later.  As always have a beautiful day!!!!!  And thanks to all those who took the time to talk to me!!!  XOXO

 
 
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70-hours, 26-hour drive, 3-hours to: Be Me the Author.
    Yeah.  I am excited for the Tucson Book Festival and wanted to remind everyone I was heading out in a few days.  Please stop by and see me On Sunday March 15th, from 10:15- 12:30, at the WEST Author Pavilion.
     I am hoping to snap some fun pictures and have a little adventure that I will be able to share with you once I get back home.  As always.  Have a GREAT DAY!!! 

 
 
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I was born the "Day of Uncompromising Vision."  This is a good thing when you consider art, not so good when you consider life.  Why these two pictures? Because they are two artists I admire, who like me, were born on the day which allows us to see the world through unyielding, undeniable, and sometimes unbearably sorrowful eyes.   Vincent van Gogh, artist, missionary, madman who shot himself in a cornfield.  And Anna Sewell, author, injured as a child and confined to her house as an invalid, wrote Black Beauty, only to die 5 months later from Hepatitis.   Both saw the world and both interpreted it very differently....as we all do, yet many, too many, think that their interpretation is the only correct one.
     Why do I write?  Why do you write?  Why do you open your mouth and breathe out ideas? Because you want to be heard.  Because you want someone, anyone, to see inside ...  to know that you exist ...  to know that you bleed.
     What is this all about?  This thing we call life?  Were we created to simply control?  Some think yes.  Some think: He who dies with the most toys wins .... Which sadly, toys, to them, includes people.  I for one am not someone that can be collected and controlled, and if you have read Black Beauty, or looked at the pictures Vincent van Gogh painted ...  you might agree, that they, like me, or even you...would say:  I am a human being, I am not a toy to be collected and controlled.  I feel, I speak, I breathe, and I want to live!
     I write to share my view of the world, my vision, and my soul.  I write because I understand that it is only through understanding others that we can truly unite this world and free all of her people so that they may no longer live in fear, in isolation, in utter trepidation that someone will come and take them away the moment they open their mouths and say: NO! So today, I invite you into my world and I thank you for joining me, and listening to what it is I have to say.
      I am in the process of writing five novella's, each one with a hidden idea, a hidden truth.  The first:The Fool of Death, is a wake up call, a cry, a shout, a terrifying scream I hear from the youth of this nation.   Do you hear it?  Do you see their pain, their fears?  Each Novella will be unique, stand-alone's if you will, and as I write, and hopefully as you read, we can make this journey together, and maybe, just maybe, someone out there, alone, trapped inside a dying light, will be able to claw themselves out of the darkness and understand we are not alone, we are human, and we all deserve a chance to live and dream.
        Thanks for joining me.  XO  Elicia Clegg.