22 Aug

Don’t Be Afraid of the Magic Within

This is my way of saying – recognize, honor, and access the power you have within to create the world and life you want. Whether you are a writer or a visual artists; an actor or spoken word artist. Singer, athlete? What is it that you need to uncover to achieve that performance level that you know is possible for you?

There is no right answer and you can only do what is right for you. What I offer here at Star Steps Life Coaching is different than the traditional life coach. You are in charge of your life and what you need to make it better is already there, it just needs uncovering, maybe a little washing off and polishing, but it’s there.

That’s your magic and don’t fear it. Don’t fear creating what others don’t understand. Don’t fear being greater than you are today. Don’t fear standing apart from the crowd because you’ve tapped into that inner well and taken the drink that is life itself.

Sounds a little crazy? Great. Because how has sane been working for you?

09 Aug

Give Up Figuring Out How to Be the Artist You Want to Be

feel the truth smaller

Give Up Figuring Out How to Be the Artist You Want to Be

You want to express more of yourself as a creative artist, but how? Not knowing the answer may actually be the best thing for you. It invites the question, the exploration, the wonder. If you are a creative artist perhaps you’ve been trying to figure this out for yourself and find that you wind up back where you are. Give it up!

The problem isn’t that you haven’t come up with an answer. The problem is that you actually think that YOU have to be the one to come up with the answer.

Asking for What You Want

question mark

Let’s try this instead. Ask this question and don’t try to figure out the answer.

How can I express more of myself through my art?

Now don’t go trying to think hard about exactly what you will do. Rather, open yourself to the possibilities of this vast universe without trying to define what those possibilities are. Trust me, your ideas will pale in comparison to the infinite ideas of the entire universe. So just ask the question and whenever you find yourself trying to answer it and figure it out for yourself – STOP; and then ask the question again.

I know it sounds crazy. I get that. Maybe a little crazy is just what you need. When you stop trying to control what you are creating, how inspiration comes, how you express it in this world, you begin to build a personal box where you put you and all that you have to share inside.

Feeling Versus Figuring

feel the truth smaller

Instead of trying to get an answer with your head, find it with how you feel about various activities and opportunities. Does the thought of a particular audition make you feel good? If so, it may be right for you at this time. If it doesn’t ask yourself, “What about this audition is making me uncomfortable?” Be aware of anything that comes up for you. It might be a song on the radio, something on television, a book, billboard, or maybe a social media post that resonates with something that gives you more insight into why it makes you uncomfortable. You can ask another question (and another and another) when these things start to show up.

Here are a couple handy ones:

  • How is this related to my discomfort? Or What about my discomfort is related to what has been showing up?
  • How does this relate to my desire to express more of myself through my art?

Now, don’t do anything to get the answers. That’s right –no trying to figure it out. I will even suggest that you don’t visualize what it looks like. Keep doing what you do, without forcing. See what comes up for you. The answers will reveal themselves in ways you might not even expect. In their time. If you are tempted to work the answer out for yourself, go back to the question with an open mind and heart.

The right answer for you may not be the right answer for anyone else. And this is fine. You are a unique individual with unique dreams, talents, and purpose. Why would the right path or solution for you be what is right for everyone else? (Yes, that was an intentionally completely close-ended rhetorical question.)

Within the next twenty-four hours I invite you to choose to stop figuring it out and start asking questions. Take this post to get you started and ask big open-ended questions with an open heart and open mind. Then, be open to what shows up, even when it doesn’t look like you might have imagined it.

26 May

Creating and the Sacral Chakra

swadhistana

Creating and the Sacral Chakra

(from manuscript I am currently working on)

As you might imagine, there is the potential for many seeds to be planted in this area and this area is fertile ground for manifesting our creativity and inspiration. It is a place where our ideas and beliefs can take hold and grow. This is true whether those ideas, beliefs, and inspirations are helpful or not. Nothing can grow unless a seed is first placed in the soil and it begins to take root.

Your seeds take root when they are given energy and nourishment. We naturally have a desire to create and see our ideas become reality. What grows must first be planted, and what might be fertile ground for one thing may not be fertile ground for something else.

Think about the ideas you may hold about yourself, your potential, your ability to have what you want. The soil for nurturing positive ideas is going to be different than those that feed the negative ideas.

Our body has seven main chakras. While many discuss twelve important chakras and even more minor chakras, I want to talk about the one that is relevant to our wombs and conception. Our sacral chakra.

swadhistana

Where is it? The sacral chakra is your second chakra and is located in your lower abdomen in the area of the womb or navel. It is accessible from the front or back of the body as it is energetic and passes through.

What it controls and helps with: The sacral chakra is you’re the center for creativity and inspiration. If you want to create life, real or metaphorically, this chakra needs to be balanced and clear. The associated color for this chakra is orange.

Getting Your Creative Center – That Sacral Chakra Going

How can you get this chakra spinning for creativity? Try these simple ideas, but remember the most important thing is holding intention.

Using Prayer or Mediation

Prayer or meditation are great methods because you don’t need any tools.

Golden Ray Visualization for Sacral Chakra

Sit or kneel or stand (it really doesn’t matter) and imagine a beautiful golden ray of light coming into the top of your head (crown chakra) and flowing down your body to near your naval where your sacral chakra. Let it fill up that area with that golden light. Imagine that golden color deepens to like the sunset to an orange as it moves through your sacral chakra, energizing it. See your creative center expanding.

Prayer/Meditation for Sacral Chakra

Know and speak or think these things for yourself

  1. I am a creative person by nature
  2. I create easily and effortlessly because it is my nature
  3. I am grateful for the flow of creativity in my life and through my artistic craft

Thank you (always say thank you, it’s polite.)

Using Crystals

crystals for sacral chakra

For this method, you’ll need at least one crystal to help hold the intention.

I suggest either a nice clear quartz crystal (universal crystal) or a natural orange crystal of your choice. Don’t choose a crystal that has been colored or dyed.

Sit or lay or stand, but be relaxed and comfortable. Place the crystal against your sacral chakra and hold it there while you continue. Imagine the energy of the crystal flowing into your body as you follow the golden ray visualization above.

Feel the connection of the energy from the crystal in front of you and the golden ray entering you from above. While feeling this energy flow imagine that chakra opening up like a beautiful flower with countless petals, in hues of orange and deep yellows. Allow this to continue until you are ready to end. You may also continue with the prayer/meditation above.

I always like to end any energy work with gratitude. A simple thank you for the highest good and best outcome can suffice.

Are you a creative artist? How do you get your juices flowing? Read my post – Three Tips for Getting the Heart Flow Going – For Creative Artists

26 May

Three Tips for Getting the Heart Flow Going – For Creative Artists

1980s music icons

Staring at a blank screen or canvas or even a mirror that reflects you standing there is common to all of us creative artists.

The key to overcoming the ‘blanks’ (just made that up) is not to think it through but feel and do. Here are five easy things you can do right now to get that flow from your heart going.

Tip One – Get Moving

get-moving-to-get-creative-juice-flowing

When I’m in a creative slump it helps to get my body physically moving. I will exercise either by hitting the gym or if it’s nice outside, taking a walk along the nature trail. I take my phone along because quite often when I’m at the gym or on the trail, inspiration strikes and I need to be able to capture it!

I might also get completely free by dancing. Put on some music you love and that puts you in the energy vibe you want or need for what you are creating. Now dance. Move. Let the energy flow through your body and come out as something creatively you.

Tip Two – Get Inspired

people-watch-for-inspiration

Whatever your artistic outlet is, we can all be inspired by the world around us. Go out and be around people, nature, the elements of your environment.and observe, take it in. What about the experience and sights mean something to you or make you feel something. Do they speak to a part of you that perhaps was dormant and is slowly waking up? Are you seeing something in the human or natural experience that you connect with at the heart level? What is it? That is your inspiration. Whether you are a writer, visual artist, dancer or something else work from that feeling it gave you and use your creativity to express it for the next person or yourself.

Tip Three – Revisit the Past

1980s music icons

There is nothing completely new under this Sun. We may update, revision, restructure, and newly express but the ideas and concepts and problems being solved are as old as our collective human experience, if not older. So pull from that experience and see how you can take it further. Read a classic book or poetry, go to a museum and look at the art that graces the walls, watch dance videos from the 1980s and 1990s. Ha! If nothing else, it’ll make you smile and that alone is good for creating.

In all seriousness, we do not create in a vacuum, void of the acknowledgement that much has come before us. We are continuing the expression of life with our contributions so look to the past and you might get a spark, an idea, that gives you a fresh look at an old idea. Figure out how you can put your heart stamp on it and make it unique to you and relevant for our time.

You want to take a more metaphysical approach? Check out this post on Creating and the Sacral Chakra.

 

17 Apr

Self-Publishing versus Traditional Publishing – Part Three

Read part 2

In part two I talked about time being a factor in my considering going the traditional publishing route. The other consideration is promotion. I have to say that I’ve heard and read that traditional publishers aren’t promoting like they used to. They expect you, the author, the new OMG I just wrote a book and I never thought I would, but I’m so excited so I’ll tell my family and friends, author. Family and friends are good but here’s a little secret, unless you physically put that book in front of them, send them direct links to purchase, ask them personally for a review, they will probably just say “Congratulations! It looks great,” and keep on moving. You’ll know from the flat line of your KDP Report in Amazon. It looks and feels like death.

When I decided to write seriously I used the domain names I owned for myself (yes, go buy your name right now) and got a Twitter account and Facebook page. I invited people I know to like my Facebook page and have been trying to get a following on Twitter. Some days I feel like throwing in the towel on social media. But I can’t. The days are over when a publishing house spends thousands of dollars promoting a new author. These platforms are essential for me to be found because if no one finds me, no one finds my books. If no one finds my books, no one buys and reads my books. That means all the time and energy of bringing life to that story that once existed in fragmented pieces in my mind, is akin to putting pretty wrapping on it, hiding it in the closet, and forgetting about it.

Promoting your book is a constant effort. It takes time away from writing, and writing is a constant effort – that and the writing process. I don’t hold a college degree in writing or literature, though I helped my ex-husband earn his, and have always been a writer. I got As in English and Lit, took AP English in high school and had my poetry featured in a college poetry magazine my freshman year. I won Miss Black Georgia Metroplex 1996-1997 with an original poem as my talent, and have notebooks of poetry, song lyrics, essays, and random thoughts that I swear I will go through one day. The stack is only a foot tall. But none of that matters if no one knows you fricking exist.

That’s where a traditional publisher might provide some benefits. They do expect you to already have an author platform so if you haven’t started, go sign up for Twitter, get on FB, and get your website. Right now. If they do love your book, you can say ‘so and so’ picked up my book and gave me a deal, giving instant credibility to your talents as a writer. You appear on their author list, your books are on their SEO optimized websites that garner higher ranking and have massive mailing lists. They send your book in to those expensive review places and because of their distribution network, you actually have a shot at landing on a best-sellers list other than Amazon. I’ll be honest, it’s a longshot but it’s still a shot.

For those reasons, I am considering submitting my stand-alone novel to a traditional publisher but perhaps not as an agented submission. I just don’t do traditional anything very well. There are publishers who accept unagented submissions all the time or during certain open windows. I figure I can prepare my work to the best that I’m able and give it a try. With this book, publishing it before 2017 is out isn’t a big deal. I have book 2 of the Chosen Series that is begging me for attention (and books 3 and 4). As of this writing, I’m okay with letting that simmer through the dog days of summer for a release probably around September. What I realize, is that I can wait the weeks or months for a response if it means someone will help me get that book ready for the world. And if they do, that one book will help my other self-published books sell better. A win-win.

There are a few publishers stepping up their end of the bargain by offering more attractive 50/50 splits which are attractive if you know the amount of work and time and money it takes to do this right. If you are willing and able to pay for the services of editing (the full suite), promotion, book cover design, book layout and formatting, and have an author platform you may find it is a better financial decision to self-publish and take home 70% of an ebook price on Amazon (when you price it between $2.99 and $9.99).

In the end, it’s up to you and you have to make the choice based on how well you think you can get through the process to create a quality book that can compete in the big leagues. No book is perfect, even the big publishers have spelling and typographical errors, but don’t be that guy or girl who indie publishes a book riddled with distractions and inconsistencies because you failed to invest as much as you could into editing. And saying you had nothing to invest, means you may want to look at priorities in other areas before putting showing your baby to the world with a diaper that may be soiled and ready to soak through.

Before you decide how to publish, you actually need a book worth publishing. I’m assuming you’ve gotten that far, but have someone read it who will be honest with you before you go any further. Once you past that test here are a few questions to ask yourself before you decide how you want to publish:

  • Do you have the patience to wait for the traditional publishing process?
  • Do you mind losing some of the creative control or having your message edited?
  • Do you like having to do all the self-promoting yourself?
  • Do you have an author platform?
  • Do you enjoy the editing and full writing process?  Do you have time for it?
  • Do you already have a good team consisting of an editor and a couple beta-readers?
  • Do you mind learning how to format your ebook and/or paperback? If not, are you willing to pay someone to do this?

Are you already published? Which route did you take and what’s your experience been?


Need help getting through that first draft? Try this.FOCUS 4 Week Draft Cover KindleFOCUS: How to Write a Four Week First Draft

20 Mar

A Poetic Summary of Chosen

About Chosen: A Poetic Summary

For millenia the Descendants have ruled
Their power goes the world through
Removing those that would resist
Accepting casualties of the innocent
Their greed and what they’ve will to do
Without bounds they write the truth
Maintain control while the planet breaks
Point no fingers, take no blame

The seven chosen before birth
Face secret dangers of the Earth
The World Consensus and UniCorps
Knowing what will come, press forth
Silence all who’d warn the masses
They give the Chosen cause for action
With Keepers and mentors at their sides
They learn why they came into this life

Genetically changed for strength and endurance
To enhance natural gifts and performance
To overcome the evil plaguing the planet
To defeat the giants and restore balance
In the end, to save the world
Born three boys and four girls
Each of them special and unique
A different continent and quality

Now they know who and why they are
They’ve gotten a glimpse of a world torn apart
it’s time to decide to speak out or hide
To be part of the answer or let millions die
To awaken to their lives as the Chosen
And walk through that one way gate
Quelled curiosity and the answers they seek
Are all bound together – just turn the page

-Bernette

Book 1 available for 99cents. If ypu don’t like it, it’s free.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H7TAQXW

See details at www.Bernette.net

17 Mar

Self-Publishing versus Traditional Publishing – Part Two

time is money

Read part 1

Scroll to bottom for video of part 1

As I mentioned in part one, time and promotion are reasons I’m considering pursuing a traditional publisher. I’ll start with time. There are many writers who work full-time and then write in what little spare time remains. I count myself lucky that I consider being a writer, speaker, and coach my full-time work. Even with that, the time to write is impeded on because of all those things mentioned above – remember the re-writing, editing, re-editing, beta-reading, etcetera.

self-editing1

This is where I think a traditional publisher has the edge. That mess takes time. A heck of a lot of time. Time I could use writing another book or first re-write of maybe the other 3 books that are written in my Chosen series. Yeah. The whole dang series is written but at the pace I can read, re-write, edit, and do it again, it may be a couple of years to get it done. Daunting! Oh, but you say, you can just pay for someone to do this. Yeah, you can…try…and I have…

It’s quite possible I’m not going about it the right way, but finding a good editor has been a challenge. Especially one that the ROI is going to be worth it. I hate to say it, but a lot of them aren’t that great. I look at the reviews of their books on Amazon and see comments that indicate poor editing (like literally there will be reviews that say ‘poorly edited’). So, I’m like WTH? But editing is crucial because the lack of good editing will get you rocked in reviews.

The truth is, this is a hit and miss game when it comes to finding freelancers who edit, beta-read, do covers and the other things helpful in getting your book ready for the market. I learned this the hard way with book one. It was a gut punch and after having to pull it back TWICE from Amazon to make corrections based on solid feedback, not only is the book stronger, but so is my writing. A publishing house probably would’ve caught the things everyone else missed the first go round. They would’ve saved me from the egg on my face, the agony of going through 100,000 words to bring it to a tighter book of just under 90,000 words.

time is moneyThat time is money and that energy is my creative process. It goes both ways. You have a book that is an amazing story for right now. You have a book that you want to see out in the next six months not next two years. They can save you from personally agonizing over fine-combing a lengthy manuscript. The energy they save you can be used in the creative process not the editing process. These savings of your personal labor for this part of the process, still carries a cost. The question you need to ask yourself is whether it is worth that cost.

Do you have a budget to personally pay for the services or the personal skills needed to bring your book to life by way of editing, book cover design, formatting? What’s your experience been in doing this yourself or having others do it for you?

To be continued with part three on March 24th.

 FOCUS 4 Week Draft Cover KindleFOCUS: How to Write a Four Week First Draft

09 Mar

Self-Publishing versus Traditional Publishing – Part One

Being a self-published author isn’t all rainbows, bubbles, and blue skies. As I delve into taking my music from my computer to something more public, I’m learning that being an indie artist of any kind isn’t.  (Don’t hold your breath just yet). In fact, being a published indie author is often hard, long, thankless work to create something that it is quite possible no one else will read. The countless hours add up as you write, re-write, find an editor (or three or four), edit, edit again, find beta-readers, incorporate feedback, revise again.

You get the point, and I haven’t even gotten to covers and promoting your work. It’s no picnic on the serene edge of a beautiful lake with luscious greenery as a backdrop while you sip on cool raspberry lemonade.

BUT – yes, thankfully, there is a but…

When you birth that book and you hold that baby (whether on a tablet or in paperback) you will cherish it because by the end you will have cried, laughed, celebrated, holed up in a room to get a way, and gone through a myriad of emotions that are only appreciated when it is you that is 100% invested in your book baby.

I started this journey as a serious writer and author at the end of December 2015 and since then I have published one full length novel, two novellas, a short story, and a few non-fiction works. I have come to appreciate the arduous labor of love and commitment it takes for anyone to make a book come to life and I hold a truckload of respect for self-published authors and indie artists in general.

Before you crap on an indie author who has labored to bring a story to life, take a moment and consider there is no full-scale team of paid employees to catch your every mistake, hold your hand as you go, do some of this time-intensive work for you so that you shine brighter, and then give you a platform and the clout to promote your books. See, traditional publishers make the magic happen for those authors – to a point.

I say to a point, because even the traditional publishing route has changed. I’m sure if you are reading this, you already know or at least suspect that. When self-publishing was taking off in 2011 and 2012 I was busy preparing to give birth to my second child and then raising him and my daughter. I missed the golden age.

However, in that time, regular publishers were going through a huge change too, floundering in this new ocean crowded by people who didn’t seem to need them but were filling the market space with books competing with theirs. GASP! SHOCK! HORROR!

When I was writing my first manuscript for book one of the Chosen Series I investigated whether it was worth publishing with a regular publisher. I looked at the math and the time-frames and the restrictive nature in which you could submit to legitimate publishers. I read success stories of Amazon authors but they’d found their way into the limelight when ebooks were still a new phenomenon. Now that field is so crowded new authors are struggling to find a voice. Where’s Waldo? Who the heck knows? Is he even in the crowd? Probably, seems everyone else is!

After a year, I am again considering whether to pursue the traditional route for my stand alone sci-fi novel that I’m editing now. Why? Time and promotion. Those two things are a linchpin to having a book that 1. gets published and 2. sells. Can I say, duh! about what that means in terms of value as a writer?

Are you an indie author? How much time do you spend on the publishing process and promotion? I’d love to hear your thoughts so drop your comments or personal experiences in the comments.

Check back in a week for the next part of this self-publishing versus traditional publishing series.

In the meantime, you may want to check out some of my books and help an indie author out.

FOCUS: How to Write a Four Week First Draft

FOCUS 4 Week Draft Cover Kindle

Want to listen to me read the blog post instead? Here it is on YouTube.