Today I have a graphic from Rosland Capital, a company with gold IRAs and other ways of helping entrepreneurs plan for their retirement years. Paying yourself first is crucial, regardless of the way you do it, and you’ll notice the graphic has some general information on different ways to go about your future, from self-directed IRAs to more traditional retirement accounts.
The idea of JEWELINX came to Annie as she struggled each morning to multi-task between taking care of her family and getting ready for work… often forgetting to complete her outfit with her favorite jewelry.
"I really wanted something that would help me organize my jewelry and accessories. Ideally, I wanted to see it displayed on a hanger with the outfit without having to try everything on. There was nothing on the market that fulfilled this need," states Annie.
"For some women, accessorizing can be a time-consuming challenge. During my morning rush, I found myself constantly forgetting my necklace, ring or a bracelet, which was quite annoying."
The result was the creation of JEWELINX, the first product from her newly formed company, A Fabulous Idea, LLC.
Jewelinx is a 4.5-inch-long by 3-inch-wide flat jewelry holder that hooks directly onto a hanger to display and hold jewelry. It has protruding prongs on the front for attaching necklaces and below two hooks, which can hold rings, watches, fitbits and bracelets. Several holes allow you to display earrings.
Clearly, Annie's product solved a common problem. Orders came pouring in. In just over eight months, more than 40,000 Jewelinx have been sold nationwide.
Demands came from everywhere, from bridal parties, to the fashion industry, stylists in TV & film, to name a few. Soon enough, JEWELINX was featured on NBC's Today Show, HSN, CBS, American Dreams, Huffington Post, LA Times, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Enquirer, and Denver Post.
JEWELINX is available in white, black and pink. You can purchase directly through the company's website, unique boutiques and soon-to-be found at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
To learn more visit: http://HangerJewelinx.com
Topic: The "Don't Limit Me" Movement
Tasha M. Scott is a speaker, certified Life and Business Coach for women in business, workshop leader, entrepreneur and author. She is a wife and mom and the founder of the "Don't Limit Me" and WomenCONNECT(tm) movements.
She owns two thriving businesses, Scott Realtime reporting LLC and Tasha M. Scott.com where she motivates and encourages women in professional, leadership and entrepreneurial roles.
Through her coaching programs, live workshops, small groups, and WomenCONNECT(tm) movement, she regularly delivers life-changing messages, empowering others to live out their dreams and fulfill their purpose.
Tasha draws audiences in with her powerful, transparent stories that are honest to the core. With humility and conviction she shares lessons she’s learned in business and life.
Tasha exhorts others to fully realize every ounce of potential within them and live a "no holds barred" life of purpose and significance. Her popular video blog contains useful instruction, guidance, and support for living the Unlimited Life. All her endeavors facilitate others in pursuing their own personal journey toward Maximizing their Existence!
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So what’s preventing your money from sticking? Well, deep down you still have a block to creating the ultimate success level you desire for yourself. You don’t believe you are worthy enough at a deep core level. Want to know a little secret?
Most people don’t feel good enough. It’s the ego. That part of our mind telling us we’re not good enough, smart enough, successful enough, etc. That when we hit X level we’ll finally have made it and can feel good enough, only to find out we still don’t feel good enough when we hit that amount.
If we’re in that place of never enough, we will never BE enough, thus never creating enough. Many people create “just enough” regardless of the level they reach. We need to become aware of that thinking at the core and start shifting it to a new and empowered thought system.
What’s in your bank account directly reflects how you feel about yourself. Now, the amount you decide on is subjective. You get to decide what you want. Please don’t pay any attention to people in this industry saying you have to be at X amount to be successful, or have X amount in the bank. It’s up to you how much money you would like to earn and have in your bank account. It all comes down to what feels good and exciting for you. Be mindful of comparisons to others. This is about YOUR best life and no one else’s. If you aren’t where you want to BE though, there is something else going on at a core level.
I also don’t think most people are wired to ask for more then they need. There is some type of guilt going on deep down. Like they will be a bad person if they ask for more. So they are in a perpetual slump of always having “just enough”. Just enough to cover their current expenses and nothing more for things like travelling, saving and reaching their BIG lifestyle dreams. Oddly, as their business grows, so do their expenses, and even though they have more money, they still stay in “just enough” mode.
Here are some things to consider in order to break this pattern.
Know your numbers! You can’t get to where you want to go, if you don’t take a good look at where you are. Most business owners shy away from this and it’s a huge detriment to their growth. What you track grows (because it’s in the forefront of your awareness and focus). If you can look at it without judgment, you can use it just as a gauge as to how things are going. If you take it personally, which most people do meaning it triggers poor feelings about themselves, then you definitely won’t want to look at it. Because it doesn’t feel good. How can you become empowered with where you are? In Rhonda Byrne’s book the Power, she talks about having gratitude for paying your bills and what they have enabled you to do. Saying thank-you to your utility bills and even credit cards! What have opportunities have they allowed you?
Know you aren’t a bad person. Maybe you’ve made some poor choices, but look instead at what you have learned and how you can do things differently moving forward. You are in control. This becomes empowering.
Pay yourself first! So many people don’t do this! They make sure everything and everyone else is covered first! This relates directly back to self-worth. Respect yourself enough to pay yourself first. If you don’t take of you, who will? I recommend starting off with 10% of every dollar coming in off the top (gross).
Put this money aside in some type of savings that actually earns you money on your investment, and only touch it for appreciating assets. In other words, don’t spend it on depreciating assets like things like cars and household emergencies. Another savings account can be set up for those types of expenses if you like. A client of mine calls this type of savings her Freedom Fund, and I just love that! It is helping her create freedom and has made saving a very empowered process as a result. I learned recently about a great investment platform, and I am going to introduce it very soon via webinar training so that you too can see if this is the right strategy for you. Stay tuned!
Have fun and watch it grow!
Written by Success Speaker & Coach Chris Atley, CEO of Chris Atley LLC ~ Decisions by Design. For complimentary success tips for business and life, please visit www.chrisatley.com.
Topic: 3 Powerful Strategies for Business Owners to Gain Time, Freedom and Double Their Bottom Line In 90 Days.
Octavia Conner is the founder and CEO of Say YES to PROFITS, LLC. Also known as the Profit Maximizer™ she is recognized as a leader in the business financial industry.
Author of the bestselling book, Say YES To PROFITS: 3 Methods For Building The Profitable Business Of Your Dreams, Octavia is equipped with over 14 years of accounting and business development experience.
Her proven profit maximizing strategies have enable entrepreneurs to gain financial peace of mind in knowing they are maintaining a positive cash flow and healthy profits at all times.
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If there's one thing that new entrepreneurs struggle with, it's the art of setting the correct price for their product or service.
And for us women, we can sometimes question ourselves and struggle with our personal value proposition in a way that men simply don't.
To perfect your 'correct' price, you need to blend gut instinct and awareness with a little science and art thrown in. These tips will help you to get the delicate pricing balance right in your business and set you up for success.
Why you need to get pricing right.
Why is it so important to get pricing right? Quite simply, the right pricing structure will see you achieve the profit margins you dream of, and help you to build a thriving business. Set prices too high however, and you fail to win business. Set prices too low and customers may question the quality - or simply leave you with no margin.
It is vital that you do not cheapen or devalue your quality service or product - even when your palms are sweating and you are feeling the pressure of closing a sale!
And girls, don't even be tempted by a price drop. Good planning will help to avoid this situation long before you're engaging with your client.
You need to know two things.
Firstly, the psychology behind your situation. Understand your customer, and yourself. Whilst authenticity and individuality will help you to stand out in business, this is one occasion where it makes sense to know what others are doing successfully, and to emulate it.
Unless your product and service are unique, you are working in a shared competitive space. So, find out what others are charging in your market and then review your own offer.
Use your self-awareness and gut instinct to price accordingly. Don't be the cheapest. Look for what differentiates your offer, and what add values to it. Remember, if you go in at the bottom price, you have nowhere to go.
Secondly, you need to look at your clients and understand their needs, and define them as tightly as possible to understand what drives them. For example, time starved, working parents are likely to spend money to benefit from convenience.
A more diverse customer market will require a pricing range and a little more creativity to meet different needs.
As you use this information, through reflection and analysis you will be able to pull together a solid pricing structure that makes sense for your business. Remember, you can experiment and test your assumptions - nothing is set in stone.
Nadia Finer is a business coach for solo entrepreneurs who want to GO BIG IN BUSINESS, even if they feel little. Join the FREE Pump up your profit challenge and discover the simple sales and pricing strategies Nadia uses to help clients go from pennies to $5k months.
When we can truly step out of worrying (lack, fear-based thinking), and into our natural state of loving and giving, everything in our lives will change.
I’ve said multiple times before that “giving to get” is not the right way to go about giving. If you are doing it to better yourself in some way, you are not doing it for the right reasons.
The other thing to realize is that you can tell when someone is doing this. They may be saying all of the right things, but you can feel their energy isn’t genuine. Something feels off. It’s because they are trying to get. We’re probably all guilty of this; so don’t worry if this is sounding like you. You can shift it anytime, and start operating from a genuine “how can I best help” mentality. In business this is essential when speaking to a prospect. When you are legitimately trying to help them this will come through. You may refer them to a great book, another person or to your product or service. The intention is that it is whatever will best help them move forward.
This doesn’t just apply to business though, and this is the missing link. God doesn’t care where you give. He/She just feels that you are in alignment with your truth and more will be given to you in return. Creating is your natural state and it’s why it’s important to follow your heart’s desires. When you’re in this state it doesn’t matter whether you are giving in your business or personal life. The point is that you are giving. You are trying to better someone else’s life. It might be volunteering for your kid’s baseball team, taking the time to call a relative to say hello or just spending time with a loved one. It might be just a smile or saying thank-you and showing gratitude. It’s all about helping and serving.
In the book, “Working with the Law”, by Raymond Holliwell, he states that what you give is proportionate to what you will receive. It makes total sense. If you are coming from a loving place with others, you will stay in a loving place with receiving from others too. It’s a natural state of giving and receiving. On the flip side, if you give only some of the time that means you are not in alignment with your natural source and in your ego for the rest. This therefore produces mixed results of love (abundance) and ego driven (lack) creations. This shows-up as getting some results but not consistently.
The great thing about this is when you truly give from this place (love, connection); you honestly do not care about getting. It just feels so good to give that you are focused on that alone. The receiving is just a nice bonus later. It really does come in spades too – it’s pretty unbelievable actually. This goes back to being legitimate in your giving. Only give to people, causes, etc. that you feel drawn and connected to.
Something else Holliwell states in his book, is that you should only give to people in a way that will better their lives. For example, funding an alcoholic’s bad habits is enabling not giving, and is not in their best interests. That’s an extreme example, and you can probably see how it sometimes doesn’t feel good to give to someone who is coming from a needy or dysfunctional place. It will feel off for you too.
Think about how you can start giving today. What can you do to make a difference in the lives of the people in your life? When you’re not worrying about how you are going to “get,” you can relax, trust you’re taken care of and focus on serving others.
Written by Success Speaker & Coach Chris Atley, CEO of Chris Atley LLC ~ Decisions by Design. For complimentary success tips for business and life, please visit www.chrisatley.com .
People always complain about not having enough time. That's not entirely true. People do have time. It's just that they don't have enough time and energy for the things that matter-family, relationships, hobbies, interests, self-discovery, travel, etc.
Work eats up a lot of our time. Work hours are longer and schedules are more erratic. Getting to work and going home from work have never been this stressful because of long drives and commutes. In the office, there are rude bosses and sluggish co-workers. As soon as you're about to sleep, work email alerts you. It's a routine that just won't go away.
This is the reason why the science behind work-life balance has gotten mainstream. How exactly do you manage work and enjoy life anyway? It is a struggle, according to one out of three American workers surveyed by Ernst & Young. The global marketplace operates 24/7 and in the age of smartphones and video conferences, it is increasingly becoming more difficult to leave work in the office. The workday is vast, and start and end times are blurred, making it more difficult to achieve work-life balance.
You ask: why do people want it so bad? The benefits of work-life balance are countless. It is an arrangement where everybody wins. Not just the employees but also employers and big companies. It goes beyond the number of hours spent doing a variety of things or effective time management. It's about living a life that is healthy, focused, fulfilled, and happy.
Let's take a closer look at the importance of work-life balance-what it actually does and means.
Stress is reduced, performance is improved
Almost all employees these days complain about stress in the workplace. A Global Benefits Attitudes survey found that if employees are stressed and burned out, they become less productive and exhibit lower engagement. Absenteeism is also high. Lack of work-life balance is seen as one of the major causes. Employees feel that they are overworked, clocking in longer hours and doing more work than they're supposed to.
Initiatives to strike a balance between life and work can reduce stress levels and in the process make employees more productive and perform better. This can be done by giving employees more flexibility, improving working conditions, and constantly motivating them.
Relationships are strengthened and reinforced
A good work-life balance is important because it strengthens personal relationships. When all you do is work overtime, you risk not being part of your children's growing-up years, and you miss dinner dates with your partner, family reunions or your baby sister's birthday party. These are the things that really matter. But once your work and personal life are well-balanced and integrated, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds. Start with reducing your commute hours by living near your workplace. This is one of the benefits of condo living that has become a solid selling proposition. Also, try to unplug once you're home and have dinner with the family. There's always another workday for all work-related emails and assignments.
Boost in creativity and inspiration
If employees are chained to the desk all day long, they will have nothing new to offer. The importance of work life-balance should be something employers have to take seriously if they want their employees to be more creative and stay motivated. Encouraging workers to explore, read, engage in non-work activities, and have conversations with different people will result in fresh insights and ideas. Without bright minds with fresh perspectives, businesses will never grow and improve.
More attention to health
If employees work extra long hours, they become stressed and lose sleep. They probably even skip meals. This makes them physically and mentally unhealthy. And when they are unhealthy, they contribute nothing to a business' goals and objectives. They also put themselves at risk of certain illnesses and disorders such as heart diseases, diabetes, obesity and depression. Keeping work and life more balanced will make it easier for workers to prioritize being fit and healthy. They must be encouraged to eat on time, get enough sleep, and make time for physical activities.
Giving time for hobbies and interests
When was the last time you did something for yourself? When was the last time you did something that made you feel alive? Having a healthy work-life balance allows you to do the things that matter to you-playing the guitar, baking, painting, diving, photography or just about anything that makes you feel good about yourself. When workers have other creative outlets, they learn how to relax their minds and focus on the task at hand.
Keeps morale and enthusiasm up
Work-life balance helps keep morale and enthusiasm up. Since overall well-being is maintained, workers can still feel excited about their careers. Their jobs do not feel like an obstruction to what makes them happy because it complements everything they do. Their jobs are also a source of happiness, and this keeps them enthusiastic, motivated, and passionate.
Space for self-discovery
We all need to be left alone sometimes-alone with our thoughts, alone with ourselves. If workers are always in a hurry, as if they are always in a race, they lose sight of who they are. Work becomes them. And if they fail, they feel like everything about them failed. The importance of work-life balance is that you get to slow down and discover your own potential. If you know yourself well enough, you always know where to draw strength, inspiration, and encouragement.
It is easy to look at work-life balance as just another management tool to retain employees and reduce turnovers. But its benefits are far beyond that. Employees get to enjoy what they do and be good at what they do. Hardworking employees get to enjoy having a life outside work. And as businesses make their biggest investment yet in their people, they are also rewarded with jobs well done.
About the author: Philip Masterson is a Market Specialist and Freelance Writer. He has written a range of topics including technology, work, lifestyle, world market and world businesses.
Topic: What it means to be a female entrepreneur in a male dominated entertainment business
Rock musicals are DOMINATING Broadway. Where rock musicals were once written by Musical Theatre composers such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Schwartz, Jason Robert Brown and Jonathan Larsen, they are now being written by AUTHENTIC pop recording artists.
Cyndi Lauper wrote Kinky Boots. Sheryl Crow wrote Diner. Regina Spektor wrote Beauty, Tori Amos' The Light Princess is up and running in London, Sting wrote The Last Ship. The musicals Motown and Beautiful are following in the footsteps of jukebox musicals such as Priscilla, Rock of Ages, and Jersey Boys, using authentic Motown and 70s folk/rock music.
Actress, teacher, and author Sheri Sanders has toured worldwide to teach teachers, students, and aspiring actors how to choose, cut, arrange, research, vocally style, and popular music to successfully audition for rock musicals.
Sanders' performance techniques have brought her students not only to the Broadway stage, touring companies, and regional productions of Deaf Wests' Spring Awakening, Motown, Waitress, Diner, Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Kinky Boots, The Last Ship, Here Lies Love at the Public, Bring It On, Jersey Boys, Spiderman, Memphis, Rock of Ages, Sister Act, Mamma Mia, American Idiot, Wicked, Rent, Hairspray, Legally Blonde and Beauty (to name a few), but also to television shows: The Voice, X Factor, American Idol, and The Glee Project.
As the only coach to bridge the gap between popular music and theatre, Sanders' book, Rock the Audition: How to Prepare For and Get Cast in Rock Musicals (Hal Leonard Books), and her workshops are changing the face of auditioning for musical theatre on the stage and screen.
Sheri teaches and has taught her masterclass at Pace University, Penn State, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, Millikin University, Rider College, ART, OKCU, OU, Wagner College, Circle In The Square, The Conservatory at Papermill Playhouse, Belmont U, Danish Academy of Musical Theatre, San Diego State University, University of Alabama, Jersey City University, Boston Conservatory, Emerson, Berkley School Of Music, Boston University, Boston College, Walnut Hill, Columbia College, North Central College, Roosevelt, Porchlight Theatre Company, Texas Christian University, New York Film Academy, with Actors Connection, Capes Coaching, University of Kentucky, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Steinhardt, Elmhurst, Texas State, Camp Broadway, The Broadway Workshop, Showchoir Camps of America, MTEA, NYSTA, SATC's, and NATS Boston, Chicago, and PA!
Sheri frequents LA, and Chicago and Boston to serve their Musical Theatre communities, holds a 4-week Rock The Audition Master Class here in NYC, and is the worlds ONLY Rock Music Repertoire Coach.
Sheri has officially been invested in by Broadway Producers Hunter Arnold and Artech LLC, taking her entire training on-line with an 8-week live rock class, cut and arranged sheet music, and instructional videos. Visit Rock The Performance.
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For many of us, starting and running a business isn’t something that comes naturally. In school we’re instructed in how to choose careers, not start businesses.
If this is new to you, you will not learn how to do it after just one class in marketing, sales or writing a business plan. You will have to adjust your entire way of thinking.
Here are some mistakes that new business owners should watch out for (some of them will be familiar to you even if you’ve been in business for a while).
1. Spending lots of money on things you don’t need. If you aren’t selling a lot of products you may not need an elaborate e-commerce set-up. Don’t plan on big product launches or obsess over having thousands of social media followers if you’re just starting out. You’ll be setting yourself up for failure if you try to follow the gurus (who have built their businesses over time) and believe that you can achieve the same success in 5, 8 or 10 easy steps.
2. Not wanting to spend any money on things you do need. There are a lot of free applications and online tools, and that’s great. But at some point you must start to invest in your business either by hiring experts to help you, buying tools, or by investing in training. You may be able to do lot of things on a shoestring, but if you want to grow your business you have to invest in it.
3. Wanting to stay in your comfort zone. If you are doing something you’ve never done (which is something business owners deal with everyday) then you will feel uncomfortable at times. If you let fear stop you from having new experiences, your business will suffer.
4. Letting other people define your success. At one time or another we’ve all been drawn into the group-think about what defines success. Is it making 6 figures? 7 figures? Going on exotic vacations? Having thousands of followers on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook? There as many definitions as there are businesses. You can go broke following someone else’s idea of what success looks like. Yes, you can model successful people, but if you’re trying to recreate their experience it won’t work. Either you’re following your own path or you are not.
5. Not knowing how to sell. The good thing is that you don’t have to act like the stereotypical used car salesman in order to do so. If you believe in what you’re selling and you enjoy sharing it with others, that’s half the battle. However, don’t get caught in the trap of believing you can put your business on auto-pilot and it runs itself. It won’t. Even “passive income” products have to be marketed and sold. You’ll have to get out there and get the job done.
6. Believing that you can achieve huge results with very little effort. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are a lot of claims being made in order to cut through the noise and get our attention. Do yourself a favor and read the fine print. You’ll usually find something that says, “results are not typical.” Often the results that a few people achieve are represented as the average result of using a product or service. Don’t let desperation lead to you to make choices you’ll regret later on.
7. Not being clear on what you really want. What does your ideal business look like? Have you created goals for what you want to achieve? Do you have a vision for your life and your business? If not, it’s time to start creating one. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you get there?
We can all learn from mistakes, so don’t beat yourself up for making them. Building a business is a journey, just be open to learning and growing as you go along.
Copyright © 2010 – 2016 Deborah A. Bailey
Deborah A. Bailey is a writer, coach, blogger and author of several non-fiction books, novels and a short story collection. She's the creator and host of Women Entrepreneurs Radio™ , a weekly internet talk show. For more information about Deborah and her books visit her Soul of an Entrepreneur blog: http://dbaileycoach.com and her site: http://DeborahABailey.com.
Several years ago when I launched my business, I had a newborn and a three year old at home. I was the breadwinner of my family, and I was constantly struggling to keep all the balls in the air that I was juggling.
Today, my kids are quite a bit older, I'm still the breadwinner and I'm still working from home, but my business is thriving to the tune of having now done more than $30 million in sales. Plus, I'm touching people all over the world - all while taking a yummy amount of vacation time.
People ask me all the time, how in the world do I do it all?
The truth is, I do have a secret weapon. I use a very simple tool over and over again: the teleseminar and webinar.
Teleseminars are audio trainings that are given over the telephone that people from all over the world can listen to. I've had people from 134 different countries listening in!
A webinar is similar, but adds a visual element, with your viewers sitting in front of their computers, tablets or smart phones, watching slides or videos that enhance your audio teaching.
Both teleseminars and webinars can be used as promotions, such as with a preview call or a Q & A, to enroll prospective clients into new courses or services. Or they can be used to deliver the actual training or course.
Despite all the changes and advances in technology since I started using teleseminars and webinars, they still get my vote for being the simplest tool that can bring quantum results.
Here are three of the many reasons why:
1. Low overhead. Low risk.
You don't have to make a big investment to get started. You already have the tools that you need: your phone and your computer. You may also want to invest in a high-quality headset, microphone and some training, but then you're good to go. You can do the teleseminar and webinar from home while the kids are at school or from anywhere you have access to a phone and a computer. Let me tell you, no other tool is more flexible for a working parent, a traveler on the go or someone looking to start a new business with their expertise.
2. Helps you organize your knowledge and see your process for getting results.
Your expertise is already in you. By delivering your program using a five-part teleseminar or webinar structure, you get it organized and out so that it can help others. The teleseminar and webinar force you to structure and organize what you know into a system that other people can get results with. As those results start pouring in, and you get clearer about what you're teaching, your confidence rises and you begin to experience super-effective sales conversion and profits.
3. They're easy to automate. Another awesome thing about teleseminars and webinars is that you can pre-record them and schedule them to run later. And those emails that generally go out after a teleseminar or webinar, those can be pre-written and scheduled too.
In fact, my friend and colleague Justin Livingston says that automating your webinars is a great way to create less stress in your business. He recommends getting your webinars automated and covering your expenses first, so that you have choice and room to breathe, before you start doing things like online launches and live events, which most people are trying to survive on, but are more feast or famine.
If you'd like to learn a lot more about webinars and the power, freedom and choice that comes from automating them from Justin grab his new book here.
If you love what you do, but hate the "sales part," sales conversion expert Lisa Sasevich will show you simple, quick and easy ways to boost sales without spending a dime...and without being salesy. Get this FREE Sales Training and Sales Nuggets now at www.FreeSalesTrainingFromLisa.com.
Martha Conway's first novel, 12 BLISS STREET, was nominated for an Edgar Award, and her novel THIEVING FOREST won the North American Book Award for Historical Fiction. Her short fiction has been published in The Iowa Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Massachusetts Review, Folio, and other journals. She is the recipient of a California Arts Council fellowship, and teaches creative writing at Stanford University's Online Writers Studio and UC Berkeley Extension. Her latest novel is SUGARLAND.
IN 1921, TALENTED young jazz pianist Eve Riser witnesses the accidental killing of a bootlegger. To cover up the crime, she agrees to deliver money and a letter to a man named Rudy Hardy in Chicago. But when Eve gets to Chicago she discovers that her stepsister Chickie, a popular nightclub singer, is pregnant by a man she won’t name. That night Rudy Hardy is killed before Eve’s eyes in a brutal drive-by shooting, and Chickie disappears.
Eve needs to find Chickie, but she can’t do it alone. Lena Hardy, Rudy’s sister, wants to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder, but she needs Eve’s connections. Together they navigate the back alleys and speakeasies of 1920s Chicago, encountering petty thugs, charismatic bandleaders, and a mysterious nightclub owner called the Walnut who seems to be the key to it all.
As they fight racial barriers trying to discover the truth, Eve and Lena unravel a twisted tale of secret shipments and gangster rivalry. SUGARLAND mixes the excitement of a new kind of music—jazz—with the darker side of Prohibition in a gripping story with “real suspense for anyone who likes a good mystery.” (Kirkus Reviews). Read more and check out an excerpt here: http://marthaconway.com/sugarland/
I downloaded a review copy of Sugarland from Netgalley (read my review here) and I fell in love with the book. Right after I finished, I bought a copy for my mom, then I connected with Martha and invited her to stop by a Q&A.
Deborah Bailey: Glad to have you here! I have to tell you I was really pleased to find a historical novel about the Jazz Age. What inspired you to write a book set during that time?
Martha Conway: I'm not a musician, but I love to listen to live music. I'm always jealous of the musicians who get to do this for a living, and I'm in awe of their skills. I've always wanted to write about musicians. Early jazz in particular is exciting to me; you can just feel all these musicians playing, experimenting, having fun. It's a new world of music. And it came about when the American society was radically changing, too, from agrarian to industrial, from horses to cars. I was interested in that juxtaposition.
Deborah: Your book captured those changes very well. How would you describe what the story is about?
Martha: A young jazz pianist, Eve Riser, is caught in a drive-by shooting that kills the bootlegger standing next to her. Helped by Lena Hardy, the bootlegger's sister, Eve recovers only to find that her pregnant sister and nightclub singer Chickie is missing. Navigating the back alleys and speakeasies of 1920s Chicago, Eve and Lena must fight racial barriers in order to save Chickie and learn the truth behind the murder.
Deborah: The main characters were really interesting and complex women. How did you come up with them?
Martha: Eve is based largely on the pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams, a tough and warm-hearted and talented woman. She braved the early jazz scene, playing on the circuit and composing her own songs, married several times, moved to France, moved back, and throughout it all she always kept composing and performing no matter what. There's also a little of Earl Hines thrown into Eve's character (especially her background). Lena Hardy, the white nurse who bonds with Eve, took longer for me to create. She is based on all of us who would like to play music but don't. Unlike me, though, Lena has some talent. However, at that time (the 1920s) it was nearly impossible for a white woman to perform professionally.
Deborah: I was pleasantly surprised to find the story being told through Eve's POV. What prompted that choice?
Martha: The first draft was from Lena's point of view, but I always felt Eve was the stronger character, and I also felt closer to her. However, as a white woman, I was hesitant to write from an African American point of view. But I have written from a male point of view, and in many ways that feels harder to me. I didn't want fear to stop me, so I decided to try. In the end, I may have gotten it wrong, but I think it's important as a writer (and a human being) to try to see things from someone else's point of view.
Deborah: What really stood out for me were your vivid descriptions of the music. How did you research the sounds of that period?
Martha: I read a lot of memoirs and interviews. Especially helpful was Whitney Balliet's "56 Portraits in Jazz." I also had a book, "What to Listen for in Jazz," which came with a c.d. That meant I could listen to a piece of music and read what professionals said about what was going on musically, which I could never have done myself. I used that for many of the descriptions in a modified form.
Deborah: The relationship between the lead characters gave a lot of insight into race relations at that time. What research did you do to be able to capture the nuances of those relationships?
Martha: There was a big race riot in Chicago right around that time, and I read a lot about it even though it doesn't take place (or is mentioned) in the course of my story. That gave me some insight. But it was also interesting to read about the small amounts of integration that happened at the stock yards among the employees. Again, I read some oral interviews from people who worked there at that time. Events there made it possible, I thought, for a white woman like Lena's aunt to look beyond race when faced with a decision.
Deborah: Often writers like trying out different genres. Do you write in others as well?
Martha: I mostly write historical fiction now. Sugarland is a mystery, but the historical element is very strong.
Deborah: Of course, as a writer I have to ask this question! What's your writing routine?
Martha: I write every weekday morning for two hours or 750 words. I find if I don't have a word limit, I tend to stop after 300 words, but if I push myself to write more of the scene, I almost always find a clue how to proceed for the next day.
Deborah: That's terrific. While we're on the subject, any tips for aspiring authors?
Martha: Write. Write consistently. Make a writing schedule and keep to it. Even if you can only write a paragraph a day - do that.
Deborah: Great advice! So, are you working on anything new?
Martha: I am finishing up my next novel, entitled THE FLOATING THEATRE, which is coming out in the Fall of 2017. The story takes place in antebellum America, and is about a socially awkward costume designer who gets a job on a riverboat theatre on the Ohio River and gets caught up in the Underground Railroad.
Deborah: I'm looking forward to reading that! Thanks so much, Martha. Please share your website and social media links.
Martha: I enjoyed it! Here they are:
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/marthaconway
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/23092.Martha_Conway
Facebook personal page: https://www.facebook.com/martha.conway.52
Twitter (author): http://twitter.com/marthamconway
LinkedIn Public Profile URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marthaconway
You can find Sugarland on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Sugarland-Jazz-Mystery-Martha-Conway-ebook/dp/B01EXID2FY