Friday, April 30, 2010

April's Book Reports.....

Taking a page from my daughter-in-law's inspiration, at the beginning of the year I started a journal (Book It) to record the books I read each month. I read mysteries - funny mysteries, detective mysteries, who done it mysteries, series mysteries, all mysteries except scary (cause they scare me) & sicko (I don't like nightmares, Mr. Patterson) or true life crime mysteries (no profits for crimes please). If it's a series, I ALWAYS start with book one and move on from there. So, here's my book report(s) for April...........

The Final Detail by Harlan Coben
I discovered Harlan's books last month and been zipping through the Myron Bolitar series. Great dialogue - banter throughout that will have you rolling on the floor with laughter - Myron's got a mouth on him and is not afraid to use it. This book is the 6th in the series when Myron meets Teresa. Myron is an injured basketball player turned sports agent in New York City that needs to investigate the death of "his" Yankee pitcher and get his business associate out of hot water. Good Read!
Darkest Fear by Harlan Coben
Myron's college girlfriend has to find a missing bone marrow donor for her son and comes to Myron for help. You can just guess what surprises await Myron and you in this good book.
Promise Me by Harlan Coben
Myron's neighbor's daughter goes missing and Myron was the last person to see her -- he plays superhero once more and on the case along with his best friend Win and the MB Sports Agency crew.
Long Lost by Harlan Coben
Eight years have passed since we've seen Myron in action and for eight years he's kept his nose clean having given up detecting. But after disappearing eight years ago, Teresa calls out of the blue and needs Myron's help. Myron jumps on a plane to Paris and comes to the rescue. A very good story! If I had not been reading this series all in a row - I would have been screaming for my Myron fix seven years ago.
Don't Tell A Soul by David Rosenfelt
This was David's first stand alone novel (away from the Andy Carpenter series). I love the Carpenter series and when I finished those I had to grab whatever David wrote next. Big disappoint in this book. I could only get through 55 pages and sent it back to the library. The humor in the Carpenter books was missing completely. Maybe his next stand alone novel will be better -- one can only hope.
The Last Refuge by Chris Knopf
A first novel and it shows throughout. It's an Okay story, great landscape descriptions but the character studies are long - to the extreme. The author makes a statement early in the book that our hero can't put a book down until it's completed - no matter how bad it may be. With that challenge in place, I had to finish this story. It wasn't bad just not great. I'll read more of his stories and hope they improve with age.
The Merry Wives of Maggody by Joan Hess
Joan Hess has always been a favorite of mine - her stories are just ridiculously funny. But, with a three year gap since the last Maggody book, this one was hard to read. To many characters to sort out -- way too many. And to light weight to keep me interested. If Joan had used the underlining story line as the main interest this would have been marked as a favorite read -- but with only 3 pages out of 339 dedicated to the real story in the book, it got lost in translation.
The Pallbearers by Stephen Cannell
Great Story -- Great Book! We've got Scully back and he is back in fine form. One of Cannell's bests. I loved the all the background references to the layers that make Scully a great lead. 9th book in the Shane Scully, a police sergeant in LA series who always goes off the beaten path.

And that folks, is what I read for April --- I've already started on my May list --- stay tuned!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Target .. Set .. Go

And looping back to Marketing 101: Marketing Review Tips
Keep your message simple
You have only a few seconds to get your prospects' attention -- do it with a simple, powerful message that clearly tells what you're selling and the benefits. Avoid too many details.
Test with small mailings
Many variable can affect the response to a mailing -- the list, the offer, the price and so forth. Try mailing only a hundred pieces or so, to refine these variables before rolling out the big mailing. This will help you prevent costly mistakes.
Mail (and email) more than once
Too many times, businesses "test" email and direct mail as a knee-jerk reaction to sales being slow. If they don't see a great response right away, they'll quit. Unfortunately, this doesn't give you a true picture of the mail's potential. Like other kinds of advertising, repetition is the key to success.
Analyze the response you get
Make sure you can track leads and purchases, so you can do the math and determine your true return-on-investment. Follow-up calls to recipients can often double response rates.
Offer multiple ways to reach you
Different recipients often prefer different methods of contact. Allow your customers to reach you in a way they are comfortable with - by email, telephone, response form, website, text, tweet
Include a clear call to action
Many times prospects don't know exactly what they need to do, why or how they need to respond. Don't make it hard to do business with you. Lay out exactly what you want the recipients to do -- do you want them to call you, visit your website, send you an email? Design the message to make that action clear and easy to follow.
Have a strong subject line
Working in tandem with the from line, the content of a subject line will drive prospects to either open an email, delete it, ignore it, file it, report it, or filter it as spam. Also, a poorly written subject line may not even reach your prospect's inbox in the first place.
Motivate with a clear and compelling offer
Offers come in all shapes and sizes - a discount, a free trial, free items with a purchase. Whatever you offer, make sure it's compelling, enticing and time sensitive.
Provide a way to unsubscribe
People must have a quick way to remove themselves from your email list. Provide your unsubscribe link where it's easily found. And don't forget to exclude from your list those recipients who opted-out.
Vary your size and envelopes
Studies have shown that the look and feel of your envelopes make a difference in their likelihood of being opened. Test different size envelope sizes, different teaser copy and different weights and textures to see what works best for your business. They will usually always open a "lumpy" envelope - include something small. Be sure to watch the size and weight of those envelopes to pass post office standards and not just rack up your costs.
Do it again and again and again
You want to be there when they need you.
And when that need arises, you want them to think of you, contact you and buy from you.
(taken from "finding new customers" from Infogroupusa and Sam's Home Marketing)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

a day in my life.....Saturday

and so ends this week in my life pages. not an exciting week, but that is what this project was all about -- -just a week of my life, photographed, journaled and now ready to go into the album. this was a fun project -- and i'll do another one in the future. try it - you'll have fun.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

a day in my life.....Thursday

another day another page......

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

a day in my life.....Monday

Day 2 of the continuing a day in my life series - I decided to keep the layout design similar throughout the week's worth of pages that will be stuck in my All About Me album. (sidebar: I'm loving my new camera and learning how to use it. This project has it working overtime.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

a day in my life.....

Ali Edwards (scrapbooker extraordinaire) has posted a challenge to scrapbook a week in your life. Doing a page a day with photos and journaling to capture what you do for a week. I love challenges and joined the challenged.

Now, I've gotta tell ya --- when you become labeled an empty nester, retired woman without any obligations, life can look a bit dull. You've traded in the chauffeur hat for going where and when you want to. You've expanded your meal planning to what you like - not just the picky eaters in the household. The alarm clock gets dusty. The remote is all yours - all yours! Laundry can be done on one day (heck, one hour) - not three or four. The calendar looks a bit empty, but so does the house. And it gets quiet - real quiet. Yup, that's me and I'm going to document what I've done for one week ...... here goes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Journaling: Technique #9

Technique #9: Stream of Consciousness
A great intuitive journal technique is using the Stream of Consciousness to fill a page. You begin by just beginning. Start with a word, a thought or phrase and start writing wherever it leads you. Continue writing until you run out of paper or words. This is another don't think - just keep writing. Your thoughts will start to jump. Need a start? Randomly open the dictionary and point to a word and use it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Journaling: Technique #8

Technique #8: Time Capsule
This technique is autobiographic. It's a good way to sum up what's happened, significant events, moods, people, places and things, achievements, projects or simply journal about the previous week or month. You can start by writing a word or phrase that best describes the topic.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tip Toeing Through The Tulips

Took a day to go tip toeing through the tulip field - I say field, because we were about a week late and most of the fields had already been cut. We did find some spectacular reds and I practiced my new skills using the Big Girl camera. It was nice being outside, in a field of color with no one around but us late bloomers. After a breakfast at a fabulous cafe in LaConnor we headed home via Chuckanut drive --- that in itself was worth the trip south.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Journaling: Technique #7

Technique #7: Dialogue
This is a journal technique that is a written conversation --- where you write both parts. It may feel like you're making it up (and well, you are!) but if you'll let yourself be a little bit uncomfortable, you might surprise yourself with how much useful information you'll give yourself.

You can write a journal dialogue with anyone or anything. Give your partner a name and refer to it in the dialogue. Something like this:
ME: Dialogue Partner, will you talk with me?
DP: Sure, Just ask me any question or make a statement, and I'll respond.
ME: Feels a little silly.
DP: You'll get the hang of it, just start writing

You can dialogue about a conflict with a person and start to see their perspective or write what is on your mind and write their response. You can dialogue with a part of your body to further understand what's going on (that ache in your side). You can dialogue with a feeling about an issue, circumstance or memory (was that really such a bad birthday?). You can dialogue with object (just what is that dining room table thinking). You can dialogue with something that keeps bugging you (the "honey do" list is still not done). etc. etc. etc.

Give yourself plenty of time. Have fun and expect the unexpected. If you hit silence - just wait, close your eyes and breathe - relax. Thank your dialogue partner and ask if you may speak again. Trust the process - trust yourself - trust your journal. (summarized from Kathleen Adams' Journal to the Self workbook)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Practice Practice Practice

Recently, I started a photography class at Jessica with Candice Stringham called Oh! Shoot. When I gave myself a new digital camera with all the bells and whistles, I was totally overwhelmed, confused and it sat in the box for a couple of months. Not so anymore!

I've got that puppy out and playing with all its features and I'm actually learning what they are, where they are, and how they work. I'm in week 3 of the class and the above photo is from this week's assignment --- manual mode and metering. The Big M's! Yikes ---- it took a while, but the information and instruction finally sunk in and I had fun with it.

With our couple of weeks of overcast, cloudy, rainy days, it was great getting outside, yesterday, in the sunshine and shooting. We have the perfect weather to be out and about -- chilly, sunny and amazing clouds floating above. Now, to get myself down to the tulip fields and take this new camera & knowledge with me to capture some color and maybe spot an eagle or two. (plus remembering all the fun we had last year tip toeing through the tulips.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Journaling: Technique #6 - again

Here's a list of lists to consider when using the List of 100 from yesterday's technique topic.
1. 100 things I'm grateful for
2. 100 things I'm good at
3. 100 things I like about myself
4. 100 things I love
5. 100 things I hate
6. 100 things it's time to let go of
7. 100 things I miss
8. 100 excuses I make for myself
9. 100 movies I love
10. 100 mistakes I've made
11. 100 adjectives describing myself
12. 100 ways I hide out
13. 100 things it's time to face
14. 100 things I could write about
15. 100 talents I have
16. 100 fears I have right now
17. 100 things I'll never do again
18. 100 things that make me laugh/cry
19. 100 things I want for my birthday
20. 100 marketing ideas for my business
21. 100 skills I have
22. 100 childhood memories
23. 100 ways I waste my time
24. 100 things that turn me on
25. 100 things to write a list of 100 about
and so on and so on and so on...........

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Journaling: Technique #6

Technique #6: Lists of 100
Lists are great for itemizing, clarifying, noticing and gathering. They are useful in journaling when you want to find out what's going on beneath the surface of an issue. It's hard to think of 100 things, so repeats are acceptable, just write the next thing in your mind.

You start with a statement, e.g. Things I like to hear.......
then just start writing them down, e.g.
1. Yo Yo Ma
2. A child's laugh
3. I love you
4. The springs bird songs
5. A live performance of the Bee Gees
6. A babbling brook
7. laughter
8. sighs of release
9. the ring of the door bell
10. the ocean
11. the ocean on a northwest beach
12. playing "my" music loudly in the car
13. bamboo wind chimes
14. a distant train whistle
15. thank you
16. tires rolling on gravel
17. a cello
18. a crackling fire
19. the quiet of the morning
20. a waterfall
21. a pine cone dropping in the wee hours at a campsite
and so on and so on and so on........

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Journaling: Technique #5

Technique #5: Captured Moments
We've all had the camera ready to capture those special moments in our lives. We document our histories, we mark the occasion, we enjoy reliving those moments and some of us go as far as to scrapbook those photos for prosperity.

You can also do this with the written word. Captured Moments are written photographs, focusing on a feeling we remember, the scene, the memory. These are often short vignettes, only a paragraph or two, describing your captured moment. An emotional experience or a meaningful memory, something you felt during that moment in time captured and recorded with the written word. These are a lot of fun to write. They bring those fond memories flooding back and enjoyed a second time around.
(taken from Kathleen Adams' Journal to the Self workbook)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Journaling: Technique #4

Technique #5: Clustering
This simple technique is fun, focused and may quickly rope those thoughts into a clear picture. Take a piece of paper and in the center write one word. Look at the feelings or thoughts that one word conjures up. Go one direction and branch off that word or thought. Go another direction and see where that leads. Using colored markers, pens, pencils or crayons circle the words that seem to fit together. Now, step back and look at your creation - do you see a theme? Maybe a solution? Are things looking clearer to you, now? To journal the outcome of your cluster may bring you to a clearer understanding or at least a direction you may not have thought of to take.
(again, taken from Kathleen Adams' workbook, Journal to the Self)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Journaling: Technique #3

Technique #3: Springboards
This is a simple statement or question that will help you focus and clarify your writing. It's a jumping-off point to help you combat those "what shall I write about?" blues. Here are a few suggestions to get you started, then make a list for yourself to keep handy when the blues hit and you've no where to go (or so you think). Have fun!

• What makes me laugh?
• a song lyric -- especially the ones that are stuck in your head
• a card saying
• a quote
• I never realized......
• Where em I going......
• If I knew I was OK.....
• I'm getting closer to knowing.....
• Next year at this time.....
• I remember.....
• What other time in my life have I felt this way?
• It's time to let go of....
• It's time to make space for....
• These are the things I love.....
• I regret that I.....
• What is my heart's desire?
• What chapter of my life is beginning or ending?
• The next step is....
• If money were no object, I would.....
• What feels easy and effortless?
• The turning point of (a resolved issue) was when....
• I want to overcome.....

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Journaling: Technique #2

Technique #2: Character Sketch
This is a form of descriptive writing. It is a written portrait of another person, or of some aspect of yourself. It's handy to use when you're having a conflict with someone, when you want to see how you might come across to someone else, or when you want to get to know the different parts of yourself in a more direct and intimate way.

• Imagine you're writing a novel and describe the character/person in detail. What they look like, how they think, their quirks, their humor, their personality.
• Imagine that you are a detective and write a character sketch of a person you know
• Write a character sketch of your best friend or someone you admire
• Write a character sketch of yourself, from the perspective of someone who knows you
• Write a character sketch of some aspect of yourself -- your youth, your future self, what you would/will look like in 5 years (your successes, your accomplishments, where are you? etc.)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why Keep A Journal?

(this site did some wacky things to the post -- if you're reading really small and then really big - sorry!)
Recently, I took a class on Journaling. Why not - I make journals, I might as well find out how to fill them. And fill them I did. The class was based on Kathleen Adams' workshop called Journal to the Self. We six woman gathered together to learn techniques, ideas, share stories, and write. We were lead by a certified instructor, in a safe environment, once a week and came away with new friendships, new insights and pages filled with words. The words are written just for me, no one else need see (or by invitation only) and not a diary per se, but a journey into discovering, through the written word, more about me. A new tool in resolving conflict, sorting feelings, having fun and letting the pen take me to places I hardly ever brought to light. You too, can become a writer of your words or at least learn some new techniques to add to your repertoire of writing the written word just for YOU.
(and here's the disclaimer: I'm not a certified instructor, just someone who likes to share. So, take the following few days of ideas and techniques with a grain of salt. Use them or ignore them --it's up to you.)
Why keep a journal?
Discover the writer within you
Keep a record for the future of how your life unfolds
Get to know the different parts of yourself
A journal is a friend in need
Heal your relationships
Access information stored in your subconscious and unconscious minds
Explore your dreams
Develop your intuition
Explore your creativity
Track the cycles, patterns and trends of your life
Get in touch with feelings, develop spontaneity, master self-discipline,
try on new behaviors, imagine your own possibilities
Or other reasons that appeal to you ... now!

The equipment and notes on journal writing
You'll need a journal or notebook (always one available at sam'studio.etsy) and
a writing utensil
Date every entry - allowing you to observe cycles, patterns and trends.
Keep what you write - it might have little relevance, now,
but may make more sense when you read it a few days from now.
Write quickly -- it will provide much more ready access to subconscious information and less liable to let you start thinking about what you're writing. Don't worry about spelling or grammar. Just write.
Start writing and keep writing - Just begin
Tell yourself the truth - Give yourself permission to write your own truth
Protect your privacy - Your journal is only for you. It is your true friend.
Write naturally - There are no rules! Write when you want to or when the mood strikes. You're the only one person who can write the story of your life , let yourself be you.

Technique #1
The five-minute Sprint
Pick a subject (any subject) Set the timer or check the clock and blast away. Stop writing when the time is up. Don't lift your pen off the page, just write - if you block, just write the subject word over and over. The time will go fast and you'll be surprised at the end what you've written and the direction you've taken.
Can't think of a subject? Use the first word that pops into your head. Or open a book and point to a word without looking and then write it. At a later date, we'll create a list to use, if you like lists. The five minute sprint is fun, easy and a rewarding start or finish to your day.
And most importantly -- Have Fun!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

No Foolin'

Still doing the scrapbook world's Project 12 and this is what I came up with for my March layout and how I spent my March, 2010, no kidding. The last time I actually did a scrapbook page was for the February layout --- I need to stay home more and get back to scrapbooking (or at least put the journal making aside for a little bit --- well, more pictures would help, too).
(the digi credits will be given upon request)

((click on the picture for an up close and personal look))