Books to Motivate You in the New Year

We all strive to be the best versions of ourselves. We want to find success in whatever we do. The question is… how?

This is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about lately. Not only do I want to take my author career to the next level…

I want to take my life to the next level.

In recent months, I’ve spent countless hours listening to podcasts and reading up on self-improvement, particularly as it relates to business. And I found the following three books especially inspiring.

I want to share them with you today because I truly believe you will get a lot out of them.

I believe I first heard about High Performance Habits on one of Rachel Hollis’ podcasts. I’m so glad I checked it out.

It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a to-do list of exactly what habits you need to implement in order to become successful ( like wake up at 5:00 a.m., meditate for 10 minutes a day, etc.).

Instead, it was more of a guide to help you discern your priorities and build your own habits around them.

My favorite part about the book was where Burchard explained the importance of weekly chek-ins. As he put it, “If you aren’t consistently measuring the major areas of your life, then you couldn’t possibly know what the balance you seek is or not.”

His technique is something I have begun implementing, and it definitely is making me more aware of how much attention I’m actually putting toward the things that matter most in life.

Funny enough, I actually worked in real estate for a bit. And Keller Williams was my brokerage. As in Gary Keller – the author of The One Thing. I remember everyone talking about how great this book was, but for whatever reason, I never actually read it.

I’m kicking myself now.

This book is powerful.  Yes, you can probably imagine the gist of it by the title. But believe me when I say that the examples and explanations Gary Keller provides are eye-opening and worth reading for yourself.

It will help you in all areas of your life, not just business.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success.

I have so much respect for this man. He is one of the hardest working people ever. Steve Harvey does a daytime TV show, Family Feud, his radio show, books, etc. If I remember correctly, I believe in the book he said he starts his day at 3:15 a.m.! I still don’t fully understand how he does it. It’s all I can do to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to write.

Through sharing stories from his own life, Steve Harvey will fill you with motivation to go after your dreams with all your heart. And I especially loved the end of this book where he discussed the importance of using your success to help elevate others.

I hope you’ve found this list helpful. I personally found these books to be incredibly inspiring, and I have no doubt that you will get a lot out of them, too.

Q&A with Author Sheena Cundy

We’ve been in the same author circle for a couple of years now, so I’m really excited to feature you! From past conversations, I know we share similar philosophies when it comes to pursuing our artistic passions. What would you say is the driving force behind why you write?

To share and entertain with words and music is an urge which compels me to keep creating in whatever format I can. Whether it’s the page or the stage, performing your own art is the ultimate buzz…and I feel privileged to be able to do both.

What drives me most now is the need to create a living from my writing after years of doing it for love, and (at last) I’m ready to make room for it to happen.

My lovely husband is close to retiring, has looked after me for the last twenty years and needs a rich woman in his life who can work until she dies.

I’ve signed up for the job.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small amount of money if you click through and make a purchase (at no extra cost to you).

You recently published a short story, Warrior Queen. What was the inspiration behind that book? And is it a lead-in into an upcoming novel?

Warrior Queen is a song from (our band) Morrigans Path’s, latest album, Beyond the Veil. I had an idea to write a short story for each track…and this is the first published piece.

The song was inspired by Boudicca of the Iceni tribe who fought bravely against the Romans not so far from here in Colchester, Essex. She was said to have worshipped the British goddess Andraste, who is an aspect of the Celtic goddess, the Morrigan. So eventually, the historical and the mythical connection weaved their way into quite a dark tale, which I loved writing.

A number of people who’ve read it have said they could see it being a novel so I’m open to that. The idea of playing around with the mind of a sex-crazed, blood hungry shield-maiden is tantalising… and killing all those bastard warriors in the process seems to me like a good use of all those hours spent in solitary confinement.

You also run a blog where you interview indie authors. What’s one of the best nuggets of wisdom you’ve picked up from one of them?

All the authors have given some great tips. But what sticks in my mind is Australian author, Andrew Einspruch’s advice: Maths is your friend!

I despised maths with a passion at school and have since convinced myself that I’m allergic to figures. But I quite like tracking my word counts, and am beginning to understand how focusing and recording those brings results… and with Andrew’s words in my head I am hopeful I can transfer that across to sales figures and learn to love numbers.

I want to sell lots of books!

Do you prefer outlining or are you a “pantser” as we like to call it in the industry?

I’ve pantsed my way along so far – and though I recognise the need for a rough outline beforehand – I can see and understand it better after I’ve written the story. I like to know what direction I’m heading in but would bore myself stupid if I planned every step. Where’s the excitement in that?

As long as I have a character and a situation and give the imagination a free rein the story begins to unfold naturally.

Trusting in the process allows the magic to happen!

What project are you currently working on?

I am halfway through the first draft of the third book in my Witch Lit series – The Madness and the Magic. Last week, I got the rights back to the first book, trad-published three years ago and I’m delighted as this means I have total creative freedom with book one in a series which, for an Indie, is a crucial part of the business model.

The noose is off.

I now have to work out the next step, which is to republish book 1 while editing book 2 and finishing book 3. One thing at a time, the husband tells me, who is steadily counting down the days to his retirement while I’m multi-tasking like a maniac.

They say harmony is the balance of opposites.

You’re also a songwriter and vocalist for your band Morrigans Path. (Clearly, you’re a woman of many talents!) Which do you find to be more of a challenge–writing a song or writing a book?

Without a doubt it’s the book writing. I can write a song in a few hours minimum, a few days max.

A book? It took three years from first draft to publication for my debut novel and eighteen months for a first draft of the sequel! The sheer volume of words for a novel is a mountainous feat to me because I am so busy doing ‘other things’ as well.

Apart from domestic and family commitments which I can’t change, I am trying to prune off as many other distractions as I can to allow me to be a more productive writer -that is the real challenge for me! I’m working on the theory that if I keep telling myself how organised I am, then somehow, it has to happen.

Do you listen to music when you write?

No! I have to hear myself think and music is too invasive…unless it’s a song I’m writing.

What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

I finished The Author’s Guide to Cover Design by Stuart Bache today and yes, I did enjoy it but I’ve read about four non-fiction (for self-publishing) books on the trot now and I need to escape into a story. The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor was the last novel I read a couple of weeks ago and I devoured it in a day. What a great book.

What’s next on your TBR list?

Strangers to Superfans by David Gaughran is sitting on my desk at the moment, but I need some fiction so it’s down to inspecting the leaning tower of not yet reads on the bedside table. Don’t tell the husband, he thinks I’m cured.

Thinking about it, I’ve a feeling it will be Candyfloss Guitar by fellow indie author, Stephen R.Marriott who I’m interviewing in the Treehouse next weekend.

I need to do my homework!

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

That’s quite some time ago now..!

But here goes:

Nurture that book addiction.
Explore, experience and embrace life as fully as you can, diversity will enrich your writing.
Listen and learn from others…everyone is your teacher.
Have the confidence to break away from the herd when you need to..
Know that you can absolutely make a good living doing what you love.
Focus on your goals and plan to achieve them.
Visualize, believe and allow success IN.

To subscribe to Sheena Cundy’s mailing list and get a free book, just CLICK HERE.

And if you’d like to connect with her on social media, you can find her here:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Instagram
Pinterest

And don’t forget to check out her music here.

Enjoy this post? You might also like:
Q&A with Author Brittney Joy
Q&A with Author Caroline Peckham

How to Make Your Pinterest Views Explode

In just one month, my Pinterest views exploded. I went from a measly 1.2k monthly views to 12,000+ monthly views!

Want to know how you can increase your visibility on Pinterest, too?

Perfect! You’ve come to the right place.

 

Like most people, I started out using my Pinterest page just for fun.

 

Even though I technically had a business page, I used it mainly for pinning inspiration for my books.

 

But I’ve realized it can be a valuable tool for growing my blog and my author platform. 

 

After all, it’s free marketing!

 

Yes, it does take time to create content, images, etc. But pointing pins to your blog posts, especially for evergreen content, is a strategy that can be used to grow your platform for years to come.
PINTEREST FOR AUTHORS | HOW TO GROW YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM | PINTEREST FOR WRITERS | PINTEREST FOR BLOGGERS
So, first things first:

 

Most people, including myself, refer to Pinterest as a social media platform.

But really, Pinterest is more like a search engine.

This is why images and copy matter so much.

 

So how does it work?

 

As a user, I search for all kinds of stuff like recipes, Christmas gift ideas, home decor, etc.

 

I might find things to pin either by browsing by typing in a phrase in the search bar or by scrolling through my homepage, which shows both pins from people I’m following and pins that Pinterest thinks I will like based on things I’ve been searching for lately.

 

Because of that, the images you post when uploading (or pinning from an existing webpage) have to be striking enough to pop out at someone who is quickly scrolling through.

 

I think using Canva is a must.

It has some GREAT templates for Pinterest images (which should be verticle rectangles – they take up more of the screen and therefore people are more likely to notice them).

 

I took some time to play around and make designs I’m happy with.

 

Now, whenever I have, say, a new author interview to post, I just pop the new author pic and appropriate author name in there rather than start over from scratch.

You can only upload a pin to your own board – UNLESS you are a collaborator on a group board.

 

With group boards, multiple people can post to the same board. It’s basically a way to make your pins go viral.

 

You can use Pingroupie to easily find group boards on Pinterest.

 

If you haven’t done so already, I recommend setting up a Pinterest business account so that you can see stats.

 

If you set up a business account, you can also get your page verified (note: for me, this was a MAJOR headache – I had to get my husband to do it, and I still have no idea what exactly he did).

Once it’s verified, you can do something called “enabling Rich Pins,” which increases your pins’ visibility on Pinterest.

In the last month, I’ve gone from 1.2K monthly viewers to 12.1K monthly viewers.

 

Pinterest is a major source of my website traffic.

 

PINTEREST FOR AUTHORS | GROWING YOUR PINTEREST PAGE | GROWING YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM | TIPS AND TRICKS

Here are four things I’ve done to grow my Pinterest reach based on all of my research on the topic (keep in mind that I am an author, so my Pinterest page reflects this):

  1. Create at least 20 boards titled with phrases I think people might use as search terms (ex: YA Books, Book Club Party Decor, Bookstagram Inspiration, Bookshelf Decor, etc.).These aren’t all filled with my own content.I repin fun things I find to my boards, hoping someone who happens upon something I’ve pinned clicks through to my Pinterest page and thinks, “Hm. She pins all kinds of stuff that I’m interested in. I should follow her.”
  2. Using Canva, I created images for my boards (pins I uploaded that just link to my website because you have to have a link in there) and then set as my covers for those boards.
  3. For each board, I added a board description filled with what I hope to be relevant keywords.Ideally, this helps whatever algorithm Pinterest uses to show my pins to more people.
  4. When pinning my own content (like from my blog), I try to put relevant keywords in my descriptions, too.


Do you know of any other helpful tips and tricks for leveraging Pinterest to grow your audience?

If so, let me know in the comments below!

 

If you found this post helpful, please consider following me on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram!

And if you are a fan of YA books, then you might enjoy browsing my collection:

Please note that these are affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage if you click through and make a purchase – at no additional cost to you!

Top Facebook Groups for Indie Authors

I’ve mentioned before that the indie author community is a powerful resource. Indies are known for helping lift each other up and sharing what they’ve learned along their journeys so that others can find success, too. Here are a handful of Facebook groups open to indie authors. You’ll find these groups to be welcoming and encouraging – but before you post a question, be sure to search the groups first. Chances are, many people have had the exact same question and it has been answered many times.

Oh – and the number one rule across these groups? No self promo. You’re talking to other authors who all want people to buy their books, too. But finding readers is NOT what these groups are for. They’re for helping each other learn and grow. Trying to sell your book to fellow community members is a quick way to get your post deleted – and yourself removed from the groups.

20BooksTo50K – Run by the powerhouse that is Michael Anderle and his amazing team, being a part is this group is practically a must for any indie author. You will find answers to questions you didn’t even know you had and be able to cheer on others’ successes as they post photos of them typing “the end” on their manuscripts – often photographed alongside a celebratory drink!

SPF Community – Ok, I realize I’m starting to sound like a walking advertisement for Mark Dawson, but there’s a reason you hear him come up so often in the indie community. His SPF Community group is open to indie authors and is a great place to find support, encouragement and answers to your questions. (But again – remember to search the group first to see if your question has already been answered!)

The Blurb Exchange – This is a fairly new group, but I think you will find it to be a valuable resource. If there’s one thing indie authors are known for complaining about, it’s writing blurbs. It’s amazing how we can write 80k+ words in a book, but that little bitty blurb can be complete torture to write. How are you supposed to summarize your masterpiece in a few paragraphs – and make it sound interesting enough that people want to buy it?! In comes The Blurb Exchange. The premise is simple: you help other authors with their blurbs first, and then you post your blurb and get their feedback.

Once you’ve joined these groups, you’ll quickly find that there are all kinds of specialized groups for the particular genre you’re writing in. As a YA sci-fi and fantasy author, I have found AAYAA, SFF Book Bonanza and SF/F Cross Promo Bulletin Board extremely helpful.