Are You Tracking?

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One of the first mistakes I made when I started this blog and my author website is not monitoring the traffic coming into these sites. Even with all the advice from top bloggers on how much work went into blogging, I still thought blogging was just about posting and publishing. That is until it occurred to me that monitoring (and recognizing) growth is just as critical as growth itself.

Yes, we know, we don’t do this for the numbers but we cannot neglect the fact that keeping an eye on the numbers is essential to any thriving business. Even if you don’t see your blog as a business per se we can all agree that numbers don’t lie and can play a bigger role in getting the blog to where we want it to be. I mean, we’ve already established that the blog follower number is not very reliable in terms of how the blog is really doing (it’s probably better to look at your blog views).

Traffic to your website is a major component to growing your audience online. Whether you’re trying to grow your blog, website, or email list, the best thing to start with is leveraging your traffic to grow these platforms.

Now, judge me not for being late to the party but I just started using Google Analytics this year. So, for those of you who are late like me, Google Analytics is the easiest way to track your site (aside from plugins). Google Analytics is a free web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic.

What you want to do is go to https://www.google.com/analytics/ and create an account if you don’t already have one. If you do have one, go ahead and sign in. (You will need a Gmail account). It should look like this:

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If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to add the sites you would like to track.

Go to Admin > Account > Create New Account

Fill in all the details for creating an account and adding a site. You will also see a page where you need to check off boxes. I check them all just in case. The box looks like this:

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Once you’ve set up your account you can do one or two things. You can let it do it’s thing and return to check the stats (for those who cannot add plugins to the blog at this time) or you can add a plugin directly to your blog. Right now I am not using the plugin (not until after I upgrade next year) but it’s important to note that you don’t have to add the plugin to track your site.

To add the plugin, find your tracking code.

  • Select the Admin tab.
  • Select an account from the dropdown in the ACCOUNT column.
  • Select a property from the dropdown in the PROPERTY column.
  • Under PROPERTY, click Tracking Info > Tracking Code.

It looks like this:

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Then, install a plugin named – Google Analytics for WordPress.

Once you’ve installed and activated it, go to:

– Settings > Google Analytics > enter Tracking ID.

I want to stress again that you do not have to add the Tracking ID to your blog for this to work. You should if you can (I plan to real soon) but if you can’t you can still track. Just log into your Google Analytic site and monitor it because guess what? It’s already tracking. It started the moment you entered your site.

You’re In

Once you’re set up you should be able to see your stats for the sites you’re tracking already pulled up whenever you log in. You can track several things:

  • Number of visits per hour/day/month
  • Demographics
  • Countries
  • Referrals, resources

What you’re looking at below is a snippet of my stats for The PBS Blog from Nov. 12 – Dec. 12th. Once you’re logged in it should look something like this depending on what site you are looking at (you can add multiple websites).

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At the bottom of this graph are more stats. I want to give you an example how this can help you with your blog. Take a look at the returning and new visitor graph on the bottom right there.

According to Google Analytics for The PBS Blog, 97% of traffic coming from this blog is of returning visitors. This tells me two things:

  1. I am keeping my current followers engaged
  2. I have to work harder at acquiring new visitors

This means that for the coming year, I can set blog goals that will help me to improve in the area of acquiring new visitors.

Let’s look at something else (quickly):

If you look at the graph above, see the number under bounce rate? The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to the blog who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. According to my stats, my bounce rate is 7.25%. This is a huge help to me to make sure I am in fact keeping the subscribers I do have, engaged. Since my visitors are returning, it makes sense that my bounce rate is low, so everything matches sorta speak (if my visitors are returning I should not have a high bounce rate).

If possible, you want to keep this bounce rate as low as possible. A rising bounce rate is a sign that the blog is not attractive to visitors or something about it has made people leave after just viewing a page (or after just a couple pages). Maybe the site is too cluttered, the color is distracting or whatever.

So, go ahead and start 2017 off right. Set up your Google Analytics and track those websites. Don’t think “Well, why do I need to track? I don’t have a lot of followers.” Me either but that’s precisely the point. Tracking will show you the numbers you need to strategically apply changes and improvements and use organic traffic to grow your blog or email list for free.

Organic traffic is when someone stumbles upon your blog, likes what they see and subscribes without the aid of payment or coercing. It is traffic you get just from people searching the web, certain keywords, phrases,  or whatever they’re searching for and stumble upon your website (You can Google Organic Traffic for a more in depth definition). You didn’t go out and beg them and you didn’t pay for them. You earned them just by first providing valuable content and taking a few seconds to track.


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is a Blogger, Poet, and the YA, Historical Fiction author of eight books, most notably, The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release spring, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

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Talk Yourself into Achieving Your Goals

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Like many of you, I experience doubt, fear, and all the other emotions that can bring about stress and negativity. I am no different than you in these feelings. I am human and like you, I have emotions. Sometimes I am broken, undetermined, and lack confidence. However, I soon remember that this is not how I want to live my life. It is not that I am “happy go lucky” all the time, fake, or that I do not have feelings of despair, but that I have made the conscious decision not to give my energy over to such feelings. Of course, there are days when I am not consciously strong enough to make that kind of a decision, and that’s when prayer comes in.

So often I hear writers, bloggers, and friends complain about not being good enough without realizing how they’re speaking this into existence. If you truly don’t believe you have worth or value, then that is how it’s going to be. It’s not about being flawless (for we have all fallen short in some way or another) but what it is about is talking ourselves into achieving our goals instead of talking ourselves out of them.

Like learning, self-examination is not a one-time thing, but it is forever constant in our lives. One of the reasons self-reflection is so important is because we often deceive ourselves. Self-Deception means that you are not consciously aware of your true self. The person in the mirror is not reflective of what really exists. There are often two kinds of ways in which we deceive ourselves:

a. The part of self-deception that makes us look at ourselves and downplay everything about us because we know that we are flawed.

b. The part of self-deception where we know everything.

Both of these views are wrong.

Self-examination is not comparing ourselves to others or being mean to ourselves. It does not make it so dark that nothing new can grow. In this instance of Self-Deception we’re just too busy counting our mistakes and being “down and out” to make any real changes. It’s almost as if we want to be in that low place. Walking around carrying the burden of this dark cloud over our shoulders like its a responsibility, and brushing off any inkling of light that wishes to squeeze itself through.

The other one simply leaves no room for improvement. Self-examination is not self-exaltation.

It is possible that the way we perceive ourselves is flawed. If we think we know everything it is possible, then, that we are self-deceived. Likewise, if we believe that we know nothing, then it is possible that we are self-deceived, for everyone has a little bit of something in them. We all know in part and working together we become whole as we all bring something different to the table. No one knows everything, but everyone knows something.

When we have these low moments, we must talk ourselves into those changes we want to happen in our lives and implement a plan that will help us to reach these goals in a practical way. Again, it’s not about having it “all together”, it’s about changing your perspective on life itself and going from concept to execution. Words have power and they do not come back void. Instead of speaking negativity over your life and having a “woe is me” attitude, try being inspired. Try optimism. Try faith. Try something different, for insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. You already stressed yourself out about that today. Try something else.

So, your blog isn’t growing the way you want it to, what are you doing to change that? What practical steps are you taking to change what you don’t like? Or are you just complaining about it? So, you’re not where you want to be with your writing, or business, change it. Sit down and outline a plan. So, you don’t like the way your stomach looks right now, change it. Maybe you can’t run a mile starting out. You don’t have to. Run a block. Walk a block.

Anything you don’t like in your life can be changed but first you must change your perspective. In addition, there must be a willingness to be uncomfortable. Only when we are in that place can we really grow. For as the saying goes, “Comfort zones are beautiful places, but nothing ever grows there.” Yes, it’s going to be hard. Yes, it’s going to take persistence, and yes it’s going to take dedication but it begins first with the self-confirmation that yes, IT IS possible. We have to start using words like, “I can”, “I will” and “I will learn” instead of “I can’t”, and “I will never”. Don’t talk yourself out of achieving your goals. Talk yourself into them.

7 Ways to Create a Book Business Plan for Each Book

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While I’ll be writing, I’m not participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWrMo) but I bet you are!

Congrats. If you are, perhaps this post is of double interest.

This summer, I wrote a blog post on:

8 Simple Ways to Go from Author to Authorpreneur

In it, I gave a few basic bullet points on how to transform your writing into more of a business model. Since many of you enjoyed it, today, I’d like to follow up with preparing to publish the actual book.

In my first post, I defined an Authorprenuer as:

“A play on Entrepreneur, an Authorprenur is an author who has turned their work as a writer into a full-blown business.”

While every writer should adopt some elements of business (since writing is a business after all), Authorprenuership is distinct in that as an author you are interested in more than writing and publishing books alone, but that you’d like to incorporate other business models as well, either based on your book or that utilize other skills that you have. It means that you are interested in merging elements of writing with entrepreneurship, which is another definition of Authorprenuer.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan, in brief, is a written document on the plans, goal, and overall creative vision of the business. It is what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. It includes an Executive Summary, Market Strategy, Company Description and so on.

Of course, you don’t need all of this for your book. What I’d like to share is not for you to create an entire complicated business plan, but for you to take elements of the business plan and apply it to the pre-launch strategy of each book that you write.

Disclaimer. The Book Business Plan has nothing to do with whether you’re a bestseller and nothing to do with how many reviews or books you have. Any writer, even the writer who has not yet published, can create a Book Business Plan. It’s just another way to help to keep you organized.

  1. Name Your Book

Obviously, the first thing you want to do is come up with a name for your book. If it helps, you can skip this part and come back to it later. The Book Business Plan isn’t intended to go by any order in particular, just to help in the process.

Naming your book is very important as industry experts cite the books title as the second most effective way to hook a potential reader (Book Cover Art is the first). It may help to move onto the next point first to help you to come up with the title. Just be sure to come back to this step and to take it seriously. Give it some serious thought.

  1. Write a Log-Line for Your Book

I love log-lines and they are usually my first step to writing a book. Log-Lines help me to get an understanding of what the book is about before I start to write and it is almost always just the push I need to get words on the page. I got into writing them when I was studying how to write a screenplay. Log-Lines also help authors to learn how to pitch. (I like to time myself! Can I describe my book in under 60 secs?)

According to Wikipedia:

“A log line or logline is a brief (usually one-sentence) summary of a television program, film, or book that states the central conflict of the story, often providing both a synopsis of the story’s plot, and an emotional “hook” to stimulate interest. A one-sentence program summary in TV Guide is a log line.”

A log-line refrains from using character names (not all, but most) and giving away spoilers. Below are some examples of log-lines from movies:

Logline #1 – The extraordinary story of a thoroughbred racehorse – from his humble beginnings as an under-fed workhorse to his unlikely rise and triumphant victory over the Triple Crown winner, War Admiral. – Seabiscuit

Logline #2 – A 17th Century tale of adventure on the Caribbean Sea where the roguish yet charming Captain Jack Sparrow joins forces with a young blacksmith in a gallant attempt to rescue the Governor of England’s daughter and reclaim his ship. – Pirates of the Caribbean

Logline #3 – After segueing from a life of espionage to raising a family, Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez are called back into action. But when they are kidnapped by their evil nemesis, there are only two people in the world who can rescue them… their kids! – Spy Kids

Logline #4 – Toula’s family has exactly three traditional values – “Marry a Greek boy, have Greek babies, and feed everyone.” When she falls in love with a sweet, but WASPy guy, Toula struggles to get her family to accept her fiancée, while she comes to terms with her own heritage. – My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding

Logline #5 – A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea. – Titanic

  1. Write Your Book Summary

 “A book summary is a brief written piece describing the main points of a book. For non-fiction works, the summary usually briefly describes each main point covered in the book and the author’s conclusions. For fiction works, the summary describes the plot, main characters and theme.”

Next, write a summary of your book. This is your “Business Description” part. Personally, I do this after I’ve written some of the book and have an idea of how the story is coming together, but that’s not usually recommended. The best thing to do according to most people is to write your summary before you write the book, it just doesn’t work that way for me. I’m not going to tell you to do what most people do. I’ll just say to do what works best for you. Writing usually starts pretty much after the log-line for me.

Either way, a summary of your book is a great addition to your books business plan and can help you to start the book if you have not already. This gives you a chance to expand on the log-line and it also helps to get a greater understanding of the story.

  1. Book Marketing Budget

One of the most important things for me to write down and to seriously organize is my Book Marketing Budget because when push comes to shove, how much money it will take me to make this book available is going to be a major determining factor. Why? Because I’m broke. (Why else?) No matter how little it will take to publish your book, it’s going to cost something in the end (even if it’s just the cost of your print books). So, the next part of your book business plan is the marketing budget.

It will help determine your options for publishing and marketing this book.

Open a Word Document or Excel Spreadsheet and document the cost of everything you need to produce this book and I mean everything. How much will the book cover cost, cost of print books, bookmarks, business cards, that PO Box you talked about getting, and funds that will go toward promotional products and whatever marketing you will do.

Total cost of Publishing This Book $_______________

  1. Book Marketing Strategy

Of course, if you have a Book Budget then you need a marketing strategy.

The purpose of your marketing strategy should be to identify and then communicate the benefits of your book to your readers. Your purpose here is to deliver value and to create long-term relationships.

I don’t like to get too technical, confuses me. So, to make this simple (as you want your plan to be as easy to read and understand as possible. Remember, this is for your eyes only after all), begin your marketing strategy by looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This will make your previous plans make more sense.

For instance, if your goal is 50 reviews on launch day but you have not established an author platform yet or you’re already a few weeks from launch (which will make it impossible for people to finish the book in time, let alone review it), then this is a weakness toward you being able to realistically achieve this goal. You can therefore go back and tweak your goal. Maybe you’ll strive for eight reviews or ten.

  • My Strengths
  • My Weaknesses
  • My Opportunities
  • My Threats
  1. Publishing Timeline

My favorite and most exciting one is Publishing a Timeline for my book (because it means publication is near!) Not publish as in post it to your blog or anything, but just something you write down and keep to yourself. In this timeline, you are listing the goal for this book on a month by month or week by week timeline. We’ve all heard that long-term goals are a series of short term goals. Do not try and move the whole mountain, but carry it away one pebble at a time.

Your mini goals can be a lot of things: a title by a certain date, book cover art completion, a certain number of advanced reads, editorial completion. You choose.

When making these decisions, be sure to use S.M.A.R.T. goals here — they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive.

Publishing Timeline

______________

Goal: Write your goal for this book here. Be as specific as possible.

Production Starts By         Review Copies Sent        Book Released By

  1. Executive Summary

In a business plan, the executive summary is first but it helps to write it last. Write down your plans for this book. This is for your eyes only so make it simple. Some questions to consider: Which platform will you use to publish? Will you publish this book in eBook and paperback or one or the other? Will you purchase your own ISBN Number or use Createspace freebies? How much is book cover design for this book?  How will you go about garnering reviews before, during, and after the book releases? What marketing strategies will you do to get the book noticed? When will, this book be released? Will you host a party? Book signing?

When you are finished writing the executive summary, copy all of this in a Word Document and put the Executive Summary at the top of the page, followed by the other bullet points.

Save this as a PDF document and store it away in your files. Edit it whenever you are working on a new book to reflect that book specifically. You can even title your plans after that book so you don’t mix it up with the others.

Refer to your plan anytime you need a reminder or a little push in getting your book published.

UPDATE: This post has been updated. Instead of the form (which I’ve deleted due to issues) simply use the contact page and I will send you a FREE sample Business Plan Layout for Your Book!

 

5 Reasons We Doubt (And Why We Shouldn’t)

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  1. Belief – We have no faith. Period. We invest more in our problems than we do in possibilities. We spend more time thinking about the bad stuff before the good stuff which ultimately leads to stress. In addition, our unbelief tends to lead us to wait until we get what we want before having joy. Why do you have to wait until you get the job to appreciate the job? Why wait until you are acknowledged for a skill to nurture or appreciate the skill? We wait when we should rejoice on the way. Rejoice during the journey, not just afterward.
  1. Fear – Fear is the biggest reason for doubting because there is no fear in faith. Our fears vary. Could be the fear of rejection from others or a fear of failure. In any event, it is not something that we so easily notice or that we even care to admit to but it’s there. At the root of not doing our best is the fear of something. I remember when I was a little girl and I got into this fight. I hurt this person so badly that I didn’t want to fight anymore. I literally restrained myself from it. I didn’t take up for myself sometimes. I let people pick on me, and push me around.

My secret wasn’t that I was afraid to fight. My secret was that I was afraid of my own strength. I didn’t want to hurt anyone and I was afraid that I’d do just that. Sometimes our fears are not because we know that we will fail (although that too), but that we will succeed and what that will mean for our future, for with great authority comes greater responsibility. What will it mean for us to be who we were ordained to be? For many of us, the answer’s a frightening one. But look at it this way: You cannot turn a light on and off simultaneously. You have to either have the light turned on or turned off because light and dark cannot coexist. Likewise, fear and faith cannot coexist. You will either be fearless or you’ll always be afraid. Afraid of what others will say. Afraid of what others will think, and afraid of how your light will make others feel. That’s a terrible way to live.

  1. Disagreements – Also known as criticisms, one major cause of doubts comes from disagreements among others. Who remembers the Ach Conformity Experiment? A series of studies performed in the 1950s that demonstrated the power of conformity in groups. These are also known as the “Asch Paradigm”. In one such experiment, there were five men who were to perform a very basic task: Match the line on the left with the line on the right. It was something your three-year-old can do. Four of the men were agents, people in on the program. They matched the line on the left with the incorrect line on the right. The subject knew they were all wrong but because they were the majority he chose the same wrong answer.

Even though he knew everyone’s answer was wrong, because they were all on accord and he wasn’t he doubted himself and chose the wrong answer. Remember, let no one make a prey of you through philosophy and empty deceit. But as it happens, as soon as the majority shake their heads and say to themselves, “How foolish of us”, that’s it. One minute you’re confident and hopeful and as soon as the slightest wind of a disagreement comes along we are done. Boom. Over. Joy depleted. Spirits crushed. Dreams deferred. However, remember this if you remember nothing else: Beware when all men speak well of you. Every great person who has ever stood for something was mocked, laughed at, teased, and assumed to be foolish by his or her contemporaries.

  1. No Support – Usually from feeling isolated, almost just as bad as disagreements among others is no support at all. This can leave a big gaping hole of doubt in our minds. The feeling is so great that it can lead to sadness and depression. This causes a doubt that can be very dangerous as we can miss our purpose putting off what we were built to do because a lack of support gave the perception that it was not for us at all. The truth is that it just wasn’t the right time. Why wasn’t it the right time? Well, that depends but it could be that you were not in a place to do it. Could be that you were not mature enough to carry it through. There is always a reason for why things happen in our lives and if we stop trying to change what we have no control over we won’t be as stressed. As Einstein once said, “I am thankful to all those who said NO. Because of them, I did it myself.”
  1. Mistakes – A big cause of doubt is failing. Mistakes leave huge stains on our spirit and sometimes cause us to give up altogether. It also ceases us from trying again or thinking we had it in the first place. The truth is that sometimes you have to be torn down to be built back up. Remember that it is not being knocked down that makes the difference but staying down. I believe the man who has fallen seven times and stood up eight is a greater man in the end than he who has never fallen.

Your Playing Small Does Not Serve The World

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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frighten us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson

Thought-Provoking Thursday|Manifesting Your Dreams!

A vision board! I love it. What a creative way to manifest your goals. (Yall know I’m always about action). Remember, a dream is a dream. Action makes it a reality. Wake up from your dreams and live your purpose!

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The Richness of a Simple Life

What better way to make your dreams come true than by putting a plan in place to make them a reality?! Everyone has dreams inside whether you write them down, say them aloud, or think them and let them fade away. I’ve often taped pictures of things that I want to the wall with motivational quotes and affirmations scattered to keep me focused. Thanks to next week’s assignment I have to turn for my Life Coaching course, I’m putting together a vision board.

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4 Reasons Why I Won’t Change The Name of My Blog

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Branding logic says that my blog should be called after my name. Had I thought of this before starting this blog, perhaps I would have (maybe) gone with logic. However, because I’m a tad bit crazy, even being aware of this hasn’t moved me to change the name of this blog (even after much suggestion).

#1: Connected To My Name

My blog is already connected to my name. What this mean is that many people are already aware that The PBS Blog is the blog of Yecheilyah Ysrayl. Branding in one sentence, as defined by Kristen Lamb is:

“A brand is when your name alone has the power to drive sales.”

I think this is the most clear and simplest definition of branding. Taking this into consideration, Author Branding is just the same “when an author’s name is strong enough to drive sales”, or in this case, drive views. I believe The PBS Blog is strong enough to hold its own as the blog home of Yecheilyah without me having to make that my blog title.

#2: Introversion

I’m shy! I’m not sure I’m comfortable naming my blog after me! “Welcome to the wonderful world of Author and Blogger Yecheilyah Ysrayl!” Just writing that made my skin crawl. I’ve always hated bringing attention to myself. Remember those days in High School where everyone wanted to show off their name brands but you were too poor to afford the Jordan’s? Good, now go back to that one time in forever you actually got a pair, and that one person who annoys everyone called you out and you knew it was just to mock you? Yea, that. The worst. Anyway, I digress. Long story short, I’m really shy even though I’ve come to notice people don’t believe I’m as shy as I am. I always get the side look when I say I’m an introvert, but it’s true. I am very laid back. I have the potential to sit in a room all day and not say anything and be completely fine with it.

#3: Not Just an Author Blog

I’m passionate about sooo much more than writing! For this reason, this is not just an author blog, even if I do talk about writing 85% of the time. OK 90%, whatever.

#4: Mission, Purpose, Goal

I named my blog Pearls Before Swine with the subtitle Truth is Stranger Than Fiction because it embodies my mission for this blog. That is, I will always prefer the truth (pearls) over the lie (swine) no matter the color, shade, or persona it’s packaged in and I will never force the truth down anyone’s throat. You see the truth is very precious, delicate and fragile like a pair of your mother’s most elegant pearls. She’s not going to give these over to anyone, let alone a pig who will rip them open and tear them apart.  A reference to Matthew Chapter 7, Verse 6 of the bible, Pearls Before Swine keeps me focused, and reminds me that truth is to be given only to those who want it. To those who will take it into their hands and protect it, use it, and wear it like sacred garments. Looking up at my blog name ALWAYS keeps me focused on my primary objective. I am to use my writing and skill set as a way to bring truth in the most creative and effective way possible. I am not to force, debate, or argue the truth because truth speaks for itself, and I am to never compromise my personal integrity because someone says so. Pearls Before Swine, because I’d rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.