A Preference for Excellence

A “COMMA CAUSIE” (my newest made-up word) is an example of
when an ill-placed comma, or simply a missing comma,
causes the meaning of your statement to change.
We see these COMMA CAUSIES© all the time. Our clients either have way too many commas, or not enough. They look for areas where they can reduce their budget, and decide they don’t need an editor. Sometimes they elect to use their neighbor’s middle son who is a college journalism student, or their daughter’s 5th grade English teacher . . . all of which may very well be good choices, but perhaps not necessarily qualified to edit their book — making it make it more marketable and easier to read.

It boils down to a Preference for Excellence.

Kind of like deciding to make your wedding cake from a box mix vs. hiring a professional cake maker to create a masterpiece for your daughter’s wedding.
Trust me . . . I love cake, and am certainly the “cake mix” type of chef. Which is probably why Jack now does all the cooking (and baking) . . . you should ask him about his Red Wine Chocolate Bundt Cake or the Lemon Drizzle version (with at least 100 lemons). They are both excellent. I’m drooling.

It’s ALL about Excellence.

Whether we’re talking about writing or design, it’s all about EXCELLENCE. 
Years ago, I came across a copy of a speech given by Milton Glaser, to the graduating class of a prestigious graphic design college. Glaser is considered by many to be an iconic pillar in the world of graphic design. If you have not heard of him, I’m sure you have seen his highly-recognized icon for the city of New York.
I loved the speech enough to have it printed on greeting cards . . . and a very-much-shortened postcard version . . . both of which I often use when sending notes to clients.

Ready for Excellence?
Give me a call. We Brand, we Design, we Publish.

Do What You Must. Trust Your Instinct.

In the world of self-publishing, I’m always watching for stories I can share to help emphasize not only how much $$ we SAVE our clients . . . but also how much $$ we can help them MAKE.

You just never know when the Universe is listening and decides to provide you the answer (or, in this case, the story) you’ve been waiting for.

It all started last Friday when I took a leap of faith and found myself on an airplane to Atlanta for the Spirit of Women Conference. My mentor, Monica Shah, was speaking and several of her “mentees”, showed up, shared rooms and offered support by just being there. I was prepared to strengthen bonds, meet new people, attract new clients . . . and expand my sphere of influence.

Able to use my plethora of Southwest Airline “points”, I boarded the flight early and headed for the first available window seat I see. I’m joined by a woman, in my age range, who sits in the aisle seat, and we joked about the “luck” of the person who gets to sit between two “women of a certain age”. Shortly thereafter, we are joined by another woman (same age group) and our row is complete.

I’m not one of those airline “talkers”, and typically prefer to watch the clouds, and occasionally pull out my i-Phone and select an e-book to read. I offer an initial smile, say “hi”, and get back to my reading.

As the pilot announces we are preparing to land, I ask the woman next to me if she is from STL, and where she is headed. We talked about what she did for a living, and she, in turn, begins to ask me the same questions. LO AND BEHOLD. She and I had a phone conversation about 18 months ago regarding publishing her book, and she chose to go with an independent “textbook” publisher out of England. She proceeded to tell me what she has earned (or NOT earned) in royalties from the sale of over 1,000 books.

So, I get to my hotel, looked up her publisher online, and I did the math.

And I had one of my associates check MY math (she’s a CPA) . . .

FOR THE EXACT SAME BOOK, I’ve outlined two very different profit structures, below . . . The one on the left is the Independent Publisher she chose. The bullets on the right show her profit margin if she had let us mentor her through the self-publishing process. (ALSO, please note, I would never have advised her to price a 166-page black-and-white paperback book at $34.95 retail.)

In researching the textbook publisher, I did not have the details of her contract, so I used the publisher’s minimum fee for the example above. Not only did this author possibly PAY more-than-twice upfront than if she had let us help her, but she PROFITS less $$ with each sale of her books (ultimately taking her longer to recoup her investment).

MY LESSON LEARNED? I trusted my instinct, took a leap of faith, and got on that plane not knowing WHY I needed to go to Atlanta. In the three days since i’ve been back home, I’ve already had two sales conversations with people I met in Atlanta.

AND I heard a fantastic “buyer beware” story I can share with authors who may be considering working with an independent publisher, advising them to:

  • Check references.
  • Don’t sign a contract until you talk with a professional publishing consultant (like me – I’ve read many publishing contracts and can point out questions you need to be asking). I’m happy to read your contract and offer an opinion.
  • Trust your instinct and follow your gut. If it sounds confusing, it probably is worth walking away.

Do what you must, but always feel free to give me a call to talk through your options. I’m happy to help you make an educated decision, even if you end up working with someone else (although I’d rather you work with us!).


Let It Be: Teddy Bears & Tyrants

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a whole lot of negative-energy “stuff” swirling around the planet lately. From hurricanes and earthquakes to political tyrants, tirades and Twitter feeds.

I can easily name a few people who need an official “time out” in a rocking chair with their teddy bear (and I’m not referring to my two darling grandchildren who happen to be outshining ALL the negativity in this world).

I try to avoid the news so I don’t get caught up in all the negative “stuff,” but then I feel guilty not knowing what the heck is going on . . . that I “should” be knowledgeable and have an opinion.

So I peek at the news. DANG.

Yes, I have an opinion . . . and HERE IT IS:



LET IT BE allows me to LET GO of that which I cannot control and focus on solutions. When I focus on the solutions, more solutions appear.

LET IT BE creates a sturdy, positive foundation at home, in my neighborhood, in my community . . . country . . . globe.

LET IT BE does not mean I don’t care . . . quite the contrary.  What we exhibit on the micro level affects the macro level. So I start at home.

LET IT BE empowers me to make positive choices at the micro level to create positive ripples with everyone I meet.

LET IT BEgin with me.

Done preachin’.

Go ahead . . . call me Pollyanna. I know you want to.

And if you’d like to hear my opinion on how to BRAND, DESIGN AND PUBLISH your way into a high-energy, absolutely-positively magnetic brand, give me a call.

I’ve got some pretty good opinions on that topic as well.

Now . . . to go find my teddy bear.

My Favorite Items on the Menu: Know, Like, Trust

Our favorite family-owned Mexican restaurant is right around the corner, about a mile away. We were there for their opening, and 10+ years later, we keep going back.

We like to “shop local” and when I find a favorite menu item at a local restaurant, I’m known to order the same thing each time I visit. Occasionally, I’ll stretch my comfort zone and try something new . . . which may get added to my “favorites” list, OR, I’ll try to remember not to order THAT again.

I’m much more apt to try something new at restaurant I frequent, vs. trying a new restaurant. I probably have 3-4 favorite menu items, which I rotate through depending upon my hunger scale. They remember we prefer a booth, and if our favorite booth is open, they take us right to it. We KNOW the owners by name and a few of the wait staff even have our drink and appetizer order memorized. We LIKE checking in with the staff we’ve known for years, and hearing about their kids, classes at the local colleges, and vacations. They have earned our TRUST and they treat us like family (they get concerned if we haven’t shown up in a while), AND we don’t have to cook or do the dishes!

I see the same thing in our business, although our “neighborhood” is now global, many of our clients have been with us for a very long time. They may have first started with a logo and business card, and years later, turn to us for help with updated or additional marketing collateral, and/or with their website, and/or their first (or second) books.

After almost 15 years in business, we’ve gotten to KNOW many of them like family. We keep up with stories about kids, grandkids, and dogs (and cats, and birds) . . . and talk about transitioning parents to nursing homes . . . LIFE in general. It’s “family.” If we don’t hear from them in a while, I reach out and check in. We genuinely LIKE our clients. Over the years, they have learned to TRUST us to take care of their branding and publishing needs, as we continue to help them grow their business.

So, the next time you’re in our neighborhood (earth), check out our menu of services. I KNOW you’re going to see something you LIKE, and you can TRUST us to treat you like family (or better!).

What’s in YOUR Dream Box?

I spent some time with my two grandsons this past weekend (ages 5.5 and 3). They love electronics . . . our iPad and iPhones have the requisite toddler apps for EDU-tainment.

Their latest attraction, which captures BOTH of their attention simultaneously is called, “Creative Galaxy” which we access through Amazon Prime (the 3-year-old showed me how to find it on the iPad).

Although I didn’t quite follow the storyline, as I “tuned in” late, I DID catch the part about having a “Dream Box”. The animation then cuts away to actual, real-live children who are in a craft-room setting, showing you how to make your very own Dream Box out of a Puffs box or milk carton, or such.

It’s probably no surprise to anyone who knows us (or our daughter), the boys have grown up in a world of art, and a “craft project” is definitely something their mother has made sure was on their list of to-do’s. In fact, they each already have a “Treasure Box” where they store their special finds . . . rocks, marbles, loose change, feathers, lost keys, broken pieces of toys . . . you know . . . TREASURES found along the path of Life.

So, when the oldest asked me, “What’s a Dream Box?”, I jumped at the chance to talk about hopes, dreams and aspirations . . . the invisible stuff you hope (learn?) to manifest. OK, so maybe the word “manifest” is a bit much here for the audience, but when the 3-year-old tells me, “I want a Manta Vest” . . . I’ll work on finding one.

So, we talked about the invisible stuff . . . how fun it would be to grow up and be a robot . . . and work on a construction site driving a “mixer” (but it has to be air-conditioned) . . . and eat chocolate cake every day . . . with pears. We talked about drawing pictures of things we want to do and adding them to our Dream Box . . . kind of like a 3-D Vision Board. Pretty Cool, huh?!

I WANT A DREAM BOX! . . . Guess what just got moved to the top of my weekend “do something creative” list!?

SOOOO . . . What would YOU put in YOUR Dream Box ? . . . and how can I help you make it a reality?

Our clients come to us with a vision . . . a dream to attract more clients, help more people . . . and yes, make more money.

Share Your Dream. Share Your Vision. Share Your Wealth.

Give me a call . . . I’d love to hear ALL about what’s in YOUR Dream Box and help you make that happen.

Brands. Books. Dream Boxes.

What size Manta Vest do you wear?

Ready to Roll

Tulsa, Oklahoma was a great place to grow up. We were just far enough south for Spring to come early, which usually ensured a bright, sun-soaked day for my birthday in April.

It was 1962 . . . I found myself at the bottom of a neighborhood hill, laughing and giggling,  as I lay bunched-up against a small row of bushes. I had just turned 6 and received a shiny new pair of sparkly-gold steel roller skates with bright red wheels for my birthday . . . I even had a skate key tied onto a shoe-string to hang around my neck!

You see, moments earlier, I had been on the side walk at the top of that hill, flanked by my brother and sister (10 and 12 years my senior). They had been given the responsibility of teaching me to maneuver on my shiny new skates.

Now, kids today have all the “right equipment” . . . they have helmets, along with knee- and elbow-pads. Back in the 1960’s, we had no such fluff.  So, my sister, the practical one, had “belted” a pillow to my mid-section (for soft back-side landings), and tied rags around my knees and elbows – just in case. I couldn’t move, but I was ready to roll!

Up until this point, my relationship with my brother and sister was pretty much from a distance, as they were so much older than me. I knew my brother as the “teaser and tormentor”, and my sister was the “mini mother”, always looking out for me. With skates on my feet, I remember my brother wanting to just PUSH me down the fairly-steep (to ME, anyway) sidewalk . . . just to see what would happen . . . and my sister holding me back from what she saw as certain death, doom and destruction.

Luckily for me, my sister’s grip and determination were stronger than my brother’s and she began guiding me down the hill as she held my hand . . . eventually trotting along the side of me as we picked up speed. As we neared the bottom of the hill, she let go . . . and I veered left, plowing head-first into the row of bushes. I was having FUN and was ready to go again!

Now, had my brother won the battle-of-the-wits that afternoon, the story may have ended on a much less positive note. But I learned a valuable lesson that day about TRUST – I trusted my sister to guide me and not place me in a harmful situation. I also learned that trying something NEW could be fun!

Publishing is a lot like learning to roller skate. It can be intimidating at first, but when paired with someone you can trust — once you start rolling — you’re bound to see positive results.

You don’t have to navigate the “wild, wild west” of publishing by yourself. We’re here to walk beside you, guide you, and help you avoid a myriad of self-publishing pitfalls.

Contact Cathy for more info . . .

Moon Shadow

“Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a moon shadow, 
moon shadow, moon shadow . . .

Leapin and hoppin’ on a moon shadow, 
moon shadow, moon shadow . . .”

~ Cat Stevens (AKA: Yusef Islam)

Those of you who have followed my weekly writings may recognize this photo from Summer 2016 when I was able to capture a full moon AND lightning with my cell phone camera. I was in heaven, and OH SO EXCITED to capture this shot!
I’ve always been fascinated by the sky . . . especially the night sky . . . since I was a toddler. It probably helped having an uncle who was a rocket scientist for NASA.
I remember sitting outside at my Grandmother’s house (lakeside – no street lights!) with my uncle Joe, listening to him point out the constellations and the phases of the moon in the pitch-black night sky. Somehow the joy and excitement in his voice still rings in my memory, as I continue to find myself looking for the next full moon each month!
He was the first to point out to me the changes of the moon, and I remember running outside at night to check to see how it had changed since the last evening. If the weather was cold, I’d run from window-to-window seeing if I could find the moon.
Fast forward several decades, and I am still fascinated by the moon. Living in an area where we got to experience the TOTAL ECLIPSE of 2017 this past Monday was quite exciting, to say the very least.
I intentionally took time out of my schedule to have lunch with my daughter and 3-year-old grandson to celebrate the eclipse. In spite of the intense heat and humidity (it IS St. Louis, after all), it was definitely an experience of a lifetime. Sharing it with loved ones made it even more special.
Teaching the newest generation in the family to “trace over all the crescent moons with your sidewalk chalk” . . . instilling the same awe and admiration for our planet, our constellations and the amazing, unbelievable once-on-a-lifetime experience of a total eclipse . . . PRICELESS.

Step Up, Step Out, Stand Out


I was NOT happy.

My Mom had just lifted me out of the boat and now my feet were in the muck and mud. I can vividly remember the feeling of this strange, new substance oozing between my toes.

Get me out of here, FAST!

It was the flood of 1960 in northeast Oklahoma. The flood waters had not reached her home, but the only way to/from my grandmother’s house was by boat. I had just turned four and figured out very quickly, I DO NOT LIKE STRANGE substances touching my feet. What the camera does not show is how fast I ran towards the house, screaming.

Fast forward several decades, and I still DO NOT like being stuck in the muck — even metaphorically speaking.

Our business is growing, and although we are on target to double last year’s sales, I can still get caught up in the muck of temporary slow periods or hign-maintenance clients (no, not you).  When I step back into the muck, business slows down, clients tend to pay more slowly, and I have the tendency to isolate (not good) . . . or run towards the house screaming.

So how do I get back into the flow of clarity and Step Up, Step Out and Get Going?

  • I take the small, 1″ Post-its and start posting “gratitudes” all around the house
  • I catch up on returning phone calls and get current with emails
  • I pay a bill . . . even a small one . . . to let the Universe know I’m interested in the flow of money
  • I move to “receiving mode” . . . if I get a gift or an invitation, I accept it and say, “Thank You!”
  • I add “Sir” or “Ma’am” after every “Thank You!”
  • I ask for help with something I’ve been avoiding
  • I stop trying to “hold it together” . . . I let go of the “hold” . . . I surrender
  • I smile at strangers and open doors for everyone
  • I give away a perfect parking spot to a total stranger
  • I pay for the person behind me in the drive-through lane
  • I rest. I breathe.

And sometimes, I DO NO THING. I value my silence and my “alone time”. I sit (or lay) in silence with my eyes closed. Some call it meditation . . . I call it “plugging in”. It restores my energy, which allows me to better serve our clients.

I’m ALSO learning that when you run a business, the “muck” will always be there. How I choose to react to it is determined by me. If I don’t like to be in the muck, I’m learning to step out of it.

So, the next time you find yourself stuck in the “whatever” with your business, give me a call.

If you’re ready to STEP UP and STEP OUT of the muck, I can help you look good, STAND OUT and attract more clients.

In the FLOW of Circulation and Celebration!

It’s a beautiful new day in St. Louis this morning!

August in STL is known to be fairly brutal. We typically see high humidity with temps in the 100’s. But, not this year. The (hopefully) “last blast” of Summer heat came in late July. We woke up this morning to low 60-degree temps, clear skies, a gently flowing Mississippi, and an awesome sunrise (photo courtesy of KSDK “live video” near Chain of Rocks bridge, north of STL).

We’ve had several days, this early August, where we were able to open the windows to let the cool, Autumn-like breezes flow throughout the house.

There is something about being able to “open up” and let the built-up stagnant energy flow OUT, giving room for more positive energy to take it’s place — literally and figuratively. Kind of like hitting the “REFRESH” button on the keyboard of life, to bring about a NEW FLOW of energy.

As the energy flow CIRCULATES more, I’ve started noticing a ripple effect . . .

  • I “hear” more . . . the breeze rustling through the trees, and the birds seem to be singing louder and more vigorously
  • I “see” more . . . a second hummingbird has shown up at our feeder — watching the dance of bird #1 (who is highly protective of his hanging buffet) as he/she dive-bombs the new visitor can be amusing, yet dangerous if you walk out the front door at the wrong time
  • I “interact” more . . .
    • neighbors are out walking/bicycling/catching up with other neighbors
    • neighbors knock on our door for a weekend “chat”
    • strangers giving me parking spaces and empty grocery carts
    • customer service reps freely suggesting solutions I had not even considered
    • stangers strike up conversations with me (yes, even MORE than usual)
  • I “release” more . . .
    • unwanted clutter: clearing out the basement of unwanted items we’ve not used (let alone seen) in years
    • unnecessary stress:  remembering to BREATHE and relax my jaw/neck/back/etc. when I recognize I’m “clinching again”
    • excess noise: silence and quite are ever-more important at the end of my day — allowing me to “re-center” myself

As I’ve opened up the windows to re-energize and refresh the air, and “open up” the spaces in our home and office, it has  simultaneously “opened up” an increased circulation in our business — and there is much to be thankful for these days . . .

  • Clients who had been “sitting” on projects have re-awakened and are moving forward toward completion (YAY!)
  • Exciting new business opportunities have been magically appearing (YAY!)
  • My days are longer, but go by even more quickly, as I eagerly respond to an increase in requests for proposals (YAY!)
  • Sharing our abundance of work with trusted “supporters”, training them for new responsibilities

If you’d like to have a conversation about increasing the circulation in YOUR business (and life in general), reach out to me here. I’d love to have you come join us in the FLOW!