If I had a Billion Dollars!

Lately the Powerball lottery has been on everyone’s mind.  Gosh, who wouldn’t want a billion dollars? I know the answer to that one also. Anyone who believes that gambling is a sin, will not participate in such activities. I imagine if you are already a billionaire like Zuckerboy then you don’t buy a lottery ticket either. The odds are so unbelievable, but yet, years go by and eventually there is a winner, or winners.

 

It’s a pipe dream fantasy. Rescued from your financial responsibilities and live the life of a king or queen. I don’t think gambling is a sin, so I bought ONE ticket. Unlike the millions of gamblers, I am one of the few that would actually tithe my part back to my spiritual source. If I was placed in the same situation 2 years ago, that would not have been my answer or immediate response. Money makes you only “more of” what you were before. Many say that they would give to charity and then I ask what charities they give to now … many don’t give, but think IF they won money they would give. Maybe they would, but most wouldn’t.

 

A long time ago in life I discovered a little secret about life. You don’t have to win the Powerball to get what you want in life. Let me say that again. You don’t have to win the lottery to get what you want in life. Believe it or not, but those are some powerful words my friend. When I was younger, I wanted a Bowflex. At that point in my life, I did not have the disposable income to purchase a Bowflex so I kept wishing. I later realized the power of credit, and voila! No Powerball needed to get what I wanted. I also wanted a big screen tv. Now keep in mind, this was in the 90’s when people still watched 27″ tube glass tv’s. The one at Best Buy was $2k, which was a lot of money for me at the time. Again, wished for the Powerball with no results. Instead I got a part-time job at Best Buy and I used all my earnings to pay for the big 60″ rear projector tv. My boss got really nervous when I purchased the tv with my earnings, as he was afraid I was going to terminate my employment since I had achieved my goal.

 

I have also discovered that each of us needs to have some sort of purpose to feel happy. If you had all the free time you could possibly imagine, after awhile you would get bored and need some sort of stimulation. But those things only last for a little while and your active inner child lusts for more. You think that you would read those books on your list, travel the world, and shop like a Kadashian. But all of those things also just occupy your time. Material objects only satisfy your needs temporarily.

 

Time is a luxury that is afforded to everyone exactly the same every day. How you choose to spend it is up to you, … most of the time. While you still have the financial commitment, you may hang onto that job.
So to answer the question of my article today, what would I do with a billion dollars? I would start by using the free publicity to promote my book of course. “International #3 Best-Selling Author of Angel Academy wins Powerball.” With that kind of budget I could paper every magazine with a full page ad of the book. God’s message would be read/heard by everyone. I like that idea. Of course 10% to God. 39% to Federal, and also to the State.  Another percentage to the accountant, financial planner, and the lawyer. Sounds a lot like the publishing industry as the author usually gets the last cut.
One of the things that I would like to do if I had investment money is build 2 Runza restaurants in Denver. Actually, one would be next to Cabela’s in Thornton, and the other would be at Denver International Airport in the main concourse. Part of it would be purely selfish as I love Runza’s and so do millions of other Nebraska visitors/alum.  It would be a genius cash cow investment.

 

Colorado is such a magnificent place to live. It is rather unfortunate our housing costs continue to rise, pushing many people out and preventing others from entering. I’d like to invest in a tiny apartment community targeting millennials and anyone who wanted to live a tiny lifestyle. I’m thinking 1,000 apartments at $500 a month all inclusive. Running on solar and other techy cool advances would make it super desirable. My imagination and design skills would make it spectacular. If it did well, build more. With all the new light-rail stations built between downtown and the airport I’m sure it would be successful.
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Confused with hastags? #hashtags

Welcome to the 21st century

 

Where the little tic tac toe, from your old dial tone phone is now called something else. It’s called a hash tag.

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I know, it sounds like the stupidest thing to rename something that we all call a pound symbol. Either way it doesn’t really matter what you call it, it matters what you do with it, what you label, and how you retrieve it. It is also very important when it comes to gaining new readers.

Chances are you might know what these little doo hickeys are, but if you don’t then you are in good hands. No one actually taught me about them but I figured them out and have been making them work for me quite well for some time.

Basically because Twitter only gives you 140 characters, you had to somehow “code” your tweets so you could find them again, and other people could find them. It is a code that starts with a # and is followed by a word. They need to be connected #twitter, and they are not case-sensitive. You can use capitals but it won’t matter.

 

Twitter started the hashtags, but its popularity quickly jumped to other mainstream social media, including Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and many more. Many companies and products have created their own hashtags to brand themselves.

I have used my own #QuotesByAaronMstephens when I write something and think I may want to read it again. It also is helpful for people to find your updates. So if people know this is MY hashtag, then they can easily pull it up without having to go through so many thousands of tweets or posts.

Once I started using hashtags that were more common for people to think of, I started gaining more followers. Now I use them for SEO and search engine relevance. When you are in WordPress composing a new post, there are tags you can use which are in your article/blog.

These are actually just like hashtags, but for search engines. If you are just randomly throwing in illogical words, it is going to have a negative effect on your rankings.  I would say that only 10% of bloggers who understand SEO actually use these hashtags, tags and categories correctly.

 

I have experimented using different hashtags, using ones that are trending, and also posting things without hashtags. It is safe to say that you should ALWAYS use at least one hashtag. I am a writer, so I use a lot of writing reference hashtags.

I have a lot of readers who are authors, aspiring and published, and they look to me for education. “If it is working for Aaron, then it can work for me.”  Some easy to remember hashtags can be #blog #write #writer #author #indie . There are millions of people who love to read blogs. You might be one of them. Make things easy for your reader. If they know they can find you or your blog by a clever or common hashtag, you will gain more followers/readers.

Be a messenger and share your new found knowledge with a friend.

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Tiny House Movement

Did you know that there are thousands if not millions of homeowners who are sizing down? Big houses are out and smaller more efficient houses are in now. Believe it or not, I know a ton of stuff about economics. It actually was my passion when I first started my undergraduate degree. I did a lot of research on the demographics of generations. For instance, my grandma was called the “Bob Hope” generation. Most of you don’t even know who that is. That’s okay. Everyone has heard of the Baby Boomers. I guess they didn’t have good birth control back then.

After them came the Generation X’ers or as I like to call them, the Nintendo Generation. That is what I am, part of the X group. There was another group that was called Generation Y, but I think after realizing how different this group is, you couldn’t just lump them in as the next letter. I know, lame right? So they sort of named themselves the Millennials.  So you take the Boomers who now are about 75 million and the Millennials which are 82 million, and you have the largest buying group in history ever. What happens when both of those generations want smaller houses? Tiny houses? You have a movement.

The best way to discover the Tiny House movement is to just start looking. Go Google it, look on Pinterest, and go watch Tiny Nation on the DIY channel. Go like some pages on Facebook and you will quickly find all kinds of articles, pictures and websites dedicated to Tiny Houses.  Tiny living is something that some parts of the world already know and are near and dear to their heart. NYC, Paris, Sweden, Hong Kong are just a few place that have learned to adjust due to a lack of space. San Francisco is another place with really high-priced housing for little amounts of space. Portland actually has its own community of tiny homes.

A tiny home can be as small as 115 square feet and up to 500 square feet. Many tiny homes are actually built on a flatbed trailer and can be pulled by a truck. Most cities have ordinances in place that prohibit small houses/dwellings. A flatbed tow gets around this. Lots of people actually park their tiny house in their friend’s backyard.

I found out this weekend at the Denver Home Show I found out that there is a new Tiny Home hotel that is being constructed in Lyons Colorado. Lyons is just outside of Estes Park, and would be about an hour or so to get there. I think it would be cool to go stay in a tiny house for a little while before actually investing and building one.

The name of the new little tiny hotel is called “Wee Casa”. A queen bed is $179 USD a night and $199 for 2 queen beds. One of the tiny houses I saw had a Murphy bed, just one bed, and was a little more spacious. Obviously the more people you have in a small space the smaller it is going to feel. Kids, pets and luggage and you don’t have a lot of room. Just keep that in mind. Ideally I think a tiny house is perfect for two people or one person and a pet.

Keep in mind that many hotel rooms are larger in size than a tiny house. This type of living, amazingly is appealing to a lot of people. It was the busiest part of the home show. Millennials are not so much into hoarding possessions.  Boomers are scaling down and living simpler. Keep in mind that a lot of people can’t afford a house. There is only a limited amount of affordable housing anywhere. It is difficult for people to save up 10 or 20% for a down-payment. A tiny house is around 50k built for you. I happen to know you can get it done a lot cheaper than that.

Personally I love living outdoors. When you have a tiny home you extend your living space outside. I do that already. I have my hammock and desk outside. Plenty of sitting places. I like to work outside. I can see myself building a really nice tiny house and then parking it somewhere in the mountains, or at my family’s property in Pensacola Florida.

 

So if you have ever wondered about a tiny house and wanted to see one up close and personal, the Denver Home Show is still going on today at the National Western Complex. It is a fun afternoon of seeing all kinds of cool stuff for your home, indoor or out. Tuff Shed is smart. They are converting and decorating small sheds into things like a Man Cave or a yoga studio and even one as an office.  If you don’t plan on moving it around, then getting a Tuff Shed is a lot smarter option. You can still put a sofa bed in one of those, a desk, small fridge, burner. There just is no water or sewage. You can get a Tuff Shed for a few thousand, versus 50 – 60 thousand.

 Tiny homes are the next big thing.

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Stealth Infomercial Books

How often have you gone to a website, or a blog because you were promised something for free? Such as a free book, a free article, a top ten listing, free training course materials, videos, mediations, … the list goes on. I don’t do that. I have never asked for an email address. I do give you the reader the option to stay updated.

When you give someone your email address you are giving them permission into your life anytime they feel like it. Your email probably goes to your smartphone, and you are attached to the internet and your computer or tablet almost non-stop. Chances are that person that asked for your email in return for something free secretly wants you to pay them even more money. Usually it is something like “Go to my weekend seminar” or “subscribe to my class”.  Ultimately it is usually that they want to make money off of you. Now this is not always the case. However if you do your own research you will find the “experts” telling you to build an email list and that is the way to do it.

So onto the topic of today’s article. Infomercials. You either love them or you hate them. I sort of like watching the Shark vacuum on television. I don’t like reading an entire book to find out I wasted my time and money to learn I have to go buy the seminar. I won’t name any names, but I think we all know someone who has used this tactic before. It seems to work for them. Maybe some people are just so awesome and their fans love them so much, they would LOVE to be in that person’s energy/workshop.

Keep in mind that this usually only happens in the non-fiction market and typically in the self-help arena. Let me also say that many people use this book arena in lieu of a formal education. That is fine when the author is credible. Did you know that the majority of self-help authors use their own personal experience for their book, neglecting many other sources. Most colleges require a master’s degree in that subject field with thousands documented work experience hours to teach a student. There are no requirements to sit at a computer and start typing.

I earned my master’s degree in business administration in human resources. It took me several years to complete and gave me a very good foundation for business. I chose human resources as my emphasis as I already had experience in that arena. I also taught at Westwood College for 9 years. I left teaching formal education and focused working with CEO’s and small business owners.

Thousands of my followers/fans are former students who have reconnected with me. Although many don’t know me, many feel like they know me because they have spent hundreds of hours reading my blogs. It’s true. Many have spent time in my classroom, and all of them have had to interview with me before graduation. People tell me all the time how much they enjoy reading my writing. My personal blog, which you can access on the menu, is another fun reading afternoon adventure. It is much more of a motivational website. I like that one because it is easy on the eyes visually with all the graphics.

Another thing I am annoyed with by some websites is the constant overkill on advertising. Don’t you like how my website doesn’t do that? I actually have been contacted by advertisers who would LOVE to be using my blank, white space on the sides of my blogs. As you can see, I have declined to annoy my readers. Seriously, it’s annoying. How often do you REALLY click on the thing that is blinking or flashing at you on the side of the site? Like almost never. Trust me. I have designed hundreds of sites and banner/side advertising only is brand awareness. Your click-through rate is almost non-existent. Don’t do it on your website.

So if you don’t advertise, trick people for email addresses, or use pop up windows, how do you get people to buy your product? There are several ways. One, let them get to know you. Use your writing in your consistent writing schedule to share with your readers. Two, be likeable. Three, be trustworthy. While those things may sound simple, they are not simple. If if was so simple then everyone would do it.

Trust, for me, is something that is earned. It is a privilege, not a right. Your readers will learn to trust you when you give them reasons. If you are a fiction writer, did your book have a happy ending? Was it so satisfying someone would be willing to recommend it? If you are a non-fiction writer, did you teach someone something that would be of benefit or value? Was it something that they would not have learned searching the internet on their own? Do you bring something to the table that no one else has? Your personality, or unique perspective might be something you bring to the table. A well-known television personality is Ellen Degeneres. Sure she can act, but it is her dynamic fun personality that she is known for by most people.

Many times you can definitely get a “feel” for the author’s writing style. There are a lot of my fans who read my writing and tell me that it “sounds” like a friend that they know. Nope, the work is always original, it’s always mine. Sure the angels interject their two cents. Pennies from heaven? Did you know that angels usually are always working in pairs? If your writing style is conversational and your personality deems it, you can also throw in some humor into your writing style. This can sometimes be challenging if your personality is not well-known. Wanda Sykes making a statement may have a different meaning or tone coming from you. You may think you are being funny, but you may indirectly offend someone.

Writers rule the world. Every movie was once a book. Our laws were written by writers. Our favorite children’s story was written by one person, and read by millions. Writers. Give thanks if you are one of them.

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GoodReads 101

If you haven’t taken advantage of Goodreads let me tell you a little more about it and why you as a reader or you as an author would want to use this in your arsenal of tools.  I have had a lot of requests for me to write an article on Goodreads. Wish granted.

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Let me start by saying that almost everyone reads books. Sure they read their eBooks, but you go over to your friends house and you are likely to see a bookcase with books on shelves. If you are anything like me, you are slightly curious as to what information is filling your friend’s mind and whom is writing what. You can learn a lot about what people read, or … what they don’t read. You might find some books that you really like, and all of the sudden have a totally new conversation that was unplanned that can take you off into a magical adventure.

 

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So fortunately for the rest of the world, the founder of Goodreads had a great idea. He thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to somehow see all your friend’s libraries? Like online? And wouldn’t it be even cooler if you could quickly see what your friend thought of that book?” Of course it would, and Goodreads.com was born. They take it a step further and easier by allowing readers to scan the barcode of their books with their smartphone or tablet camera, and it uploads it to their library. As readers progress through the book they update it on their app. When they are done, they give it 1 to 5 stars and a quick short note.

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There is this little marketing thingy called “word of mouth” referral. Believe it or not, it is the primary and basic “viral” technique. It works for celebrities, authors, movies, restaurants, websites, products, services, and the list goes on. One thing that I learned a long time ago is a basic principle of “K.L.T.” which I call, KNOW, LIKE & TRUST. If someone falls into that category you are very likely to spend your hard earned money to purchase that product or service. If someone tells you “Go watch this movie, eat at this restaurant, read this book” you are more likely to do it. I could write an entire book just on this concept and how it helps your business.

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Long before my fiction book came out I worked on this strategy and for a very long time, gave my readers tons of reading … for free. Daily I showed up on their phones, browsers and tablets,  giving people feel good messages. I confess, it wasn’t my driving passion to do it, but I accepted the role of being a spiritual messenger for angels and God/Allah. Lots of times the messages would go out and I would have no recollection of writing it. I often joke that angels frequently high jack my social media and go to town. It’s cool.
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It was angels that told me to use Goodreads. I started by joining as a member and learning how their system worked. Later I applied to be an author, uploaded my book information and asked a couple of people to add it to their library. Goodreads has been a very good marketing avenue for Angel Academy. I did a few things to get the word out about my book, and that included a couple of free book giveaways. 10 books were given in one giveaway with certain countries, and another that was for the rest of the world. That was advertised on their site, my site and to my fans on my different platforms.
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People on Goodreads give more honest reviews than those on Amazon.com. Why? Well for one, it’s easier. You’ve finished the book, you update it on your phone and there is no incentive to do so, other than to let YOUR friends know what you thought of the book. People on Goodreads are just using that word of mouth marketing that I just told you about. A few of the winners wrote reviews for me, and hundreds of other readers all put the book on their shelf “to read”.
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Almost everyone reads more than one book at a time, or I should say, have multiple books on their list of books to read. Like any author, my book has to get in line with others. Stephen King is still sitting on my Kindle, waiting to be read. It’s just a fact of life, there is only so much time in the day, and Goodreads helps you from making bad decisions on books that were rigged by fake reviews. I also discovered that Goodreads has a plugin that many websites, including my own, post the reviews from Goodreads. There are hundreds of bookstores around the world that all are posting those reviews next to my book on their website. Very cool.
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Goodreads allows you to see what books people want to read, have read, and how many people want to read a specific book. Amazon doesn’t tell you that. For instance, my book on Amazon only has a few reviews; but that doesn’t mean that people haven’t bought it, or have it sitting in the queue of eBooks. Goodreads shows actual people that have said “Hey, I want to read this, or I did read this and here is what I thought.”
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I do think that reviews are important but I also think you can make your own decision if you want to make a purchase. Does the book have a catchy plot theme or if it is non-fiction, is it going to educate you on something you need or want? For myself I provided multiple blogs, websites and platforms for readers to decide if they liked me.  It’s not a big surprise that a lot more people like me and they have never read my children’s book. Many are waiting for the new non-fiction books that I have talked about. Yes, I am still working on those, but they are going a littler slower.
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So if you have not checked out Goodreads.com, spend some time there and check me out while you add your books to your virtual library. Angel Academy really is your next “good” read.

 

 

 

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Author Review of Angel Academy

Author Review of Angel Academy

If you follow my tweets, then you know this morning angels told me to write the worst review for my book and the best review for my book. 
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I wrote the bad one and it is just ugly. Nope, you don’t get to see it. The good review was really, really good. So my friends wanted to see it and I thought my fans might want to see it also. I have to warn you, it’s dripping with accolades. 
spacer“Amazing. Spectacular. The most impressive writing this turn of the century. Everything a reader could want out of a children’s masterpiece Stephens delivers flawlessly.
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Angel Academy provides countless hours of page turning excitement as this debut author delights readers of all ages in a non-denominational story on so many levels. Introducing a large cast of personalities, readers will struggle with choosing just one favorite and will love them all. 
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Children will love this magical imaginary land where you quickly find yourself immersed in beautiful colorful worlds. There is no world that is off limits for angels and readers will quickly want to learn more about these fantastic new worlds.
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When you read it a second or a third time you will find so many hidden treasures. A very easily identifiable theme is “Love”. Stephens’ advanced writing skills and techniques drives readers deeper and deeper with every emotional bonding sub-story. Trust, betrayal, loss, death, remorse, forgiveness, friendship and faith are all cleverly disguised in each chapter.
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Reviewing the table of contents and you can’t help but feel giddy seeing “God’s Office, Happy Birthday Baby Jesus, Dog Heaven and Oh Jesus, Air Force One Is Under Attack”. No doubt this will soon be a children & adult favorite for years to come.” 
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