3 S.R. Johannes: October 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

What Do Writers Do Besides Write?

I have not been blogging much lately. I don't seem to have much to say, nor the focus to find anything to talk about.

First, I am so wrapped up in the elections going on right now too. It is hard for me to write. I find myself between absolute horror and hope. I am completely disturbed by the extremism going on in this country. The hatred and the racism - I am just baffled by the whole process.

Secondly, if I was honest, I am really in state of limbo. A few weeks ago, I finished my YA Thriller and am sending my baby out into "the world of agents". Very nerve-wracking. I have already selected a couple agenst who I have researched to death and would be awesome for my book. (dont we all say that?) I started iwth my top tier! JUst decided to go for it!

Waiting is not something I do well. I am an achiever by nature. I like to push forward and make things happen. This publishing process is a challenge for me to learn patience. So I need to channel that energy into something else.

Another book, perhaps?

Leads me to my third point - I can't focus. Don't get me wrong - I have a Grace 2 planned for my series and I have done the research. I know kinda what it is about. But I do not have it ironed out yet in my head. I don't know where to start.I feel like a balloon whose string has been cut and I am just floating above, watching life go on below me. I have been working on the Grace 1 for so long - almost 2 years to be exact and had a baby in that time - I think my energy was just so focused on creating something. But now - for some reason -I feel a bit lost after sending out my book. Its like I have empty-nest syndrome, I don't know what to do with my time. I did promise my critique group and summary of the book and first chapter by next Friday! Just don't know if I'll get there.

Most of all, I have a small sense of loss and realize that I miss the process of being so enthralled in writing a book that the words and scenes just pour out of you when you write - almost as if you are channeling something out of this world. Now I just feel stiff and slow and everything I write sounds dumb.

Lastly,my house seems to be falling apart right now. Furnace is broken. gas stove is broken. car needs servicing and has a "malfunction". toilet is broken. What is going on? Computer is acting up. And mercury is NOT EVEN in RETROGRADE. I am in trouble. I am a true believer that your house represents your life. To a degree.

So what is going on with me?

I realize that writing seems to mirror my life.

1) I am kinda wanting another baby(#3) but can't imagine being prego again.
2) I want to start hot yoga again, but can't imagine going back and to the beginning since I have not done it in so long.
3) I wish I could go back to eating no carbs/sweets (something I started doing again when I got prego 4.5 years ago) but I can't be bothered with the cravings and the strength it takes to sum up will power.
4) I want to write Grace 2 but cant find the focus to pin down the story.

I know a break is good but I love writing so much that I WANT to get back into it. I NEED to start something new. It's a therapeutic release for me. I feel jammed, bottled up, stuck. And I hate that feeling.

I know I can't force it though.

So my question of the day?

What in the world does a writer do besides write?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Marketing Mondays - Connect to Wisdom

I have had a really busy week and weekend - I found myself feeling wanting a day off - yeah that's right I said it - a day off. No writing, nor PR, no marketing.

Then I remembered Marketing Mondays - ok I'll bend the rules - because I made a commitment and today is Monday

So how could I keep a commitment and still be lazy! I know I'll find a few great posts on Marketing and post great links to those great posts! Brilliant!

Again, I admit it is lazy but if you read them you will learn alot :) I am fine with being lazy every once in a blue moon.

So here goes - my fav marketing posts of the week:

Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown Literary Agency.
Last week, Nathan did a blog interview with Michele Moran - expert blogger and bestselling author about "How to promote your blog"

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3: Michelle answers questions on book marketing

Enjoy! Thanks Nathan!!

Shrinking Violets Promotion - Marketing For Introverts
This is funny :) Love this blog

Writers Digest - Living with the M-Word
Scott Francis is doing a series of blogs with Christina Katz - author of Get Known before the book deal.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What a Week it Was...

Whew! I am coming up for air. That's why I haven't posted all week.

I have had the busiest week!

Not only with work - doing PR and Marketing all week. But furnace went out. Stove went out. Toilet is not working right. And both kids were sick all week. My poor hubby was sick too (and he never gets sick) and he had to take care of the kids all week while I was working. Even though I wasn't necessary home to handle everything, making calls and such while working is exhausting.

And I know how hard that it when you feel like muck. I had a small cold, but managed to OD on airborne just in the nick of time.

Today, hubby (who is still still sick :( ) and I took both kids to a pumpkin patch - it was fun! It was beautiful outside, a gorgeous day. They had hayrides and baby cows (which I was excited about) and even a Turkey ( I gave him his last . My little one was more enthralled with the tractors, than the animals or pumpkins. It was a good family day - we don't get much of those with my schedule of working.

Came home to find agent requests for my finished book!! Yippee!! What a nice surprise! What's even more exciting is I got a request for full (and other lead) within one day of my query! What?? And they requested it over email, which I never even knew agents did. I am reveling in the fact that I got such nice and speedy responses.

So something for me to celebrate after a long week.

I feel good about it all.

I feel like if you have a good book. Then, when things are supposed to happen, they'll happen. I can't control it any more. I'm just trying to enjoy the whole process and I am!!!

I think it's kinda like sending your kid off to college. You don't want to worry for the 18 years they are will you. What a waste. You want to enjoy them, do your best, and prepare them for the day they go off and do their own things. You just have to hope by the time they leave, you helped them be the best they can be. (And I know this how? I don't . My kids are all under 4 :) Just channeling wisdom! :)

So, Grace has left the building. For now.

But don't worry, she'll be back.

I've already written the first chapter of my second book, A Blazing Grace. Finish one, start another. That's my motto. Writers just can't seem to stop writing. Even if we can, we don't. I love it too much. Love writing and am loving the process around it.

So now, my little baby, Grace is out flying around the big, mad world of publishing. Ironically, I just found/bought a new shirt that I thought would be perfect tie-in someday (my marketing mind is already at work) . My book is YA thriller, my characters name is Grace, and the t-shirt says Grace Kicks Ass. Oops sorry, the bleeper is off tonight. He'll be back tomnorrow>

Although, I think it'd be cuter and more appropriate for teens if it said: Grace kicks butt! (and she does!!) I have already had tons of compliments on the shirt, along with a few snickers and jeers as well.

Oh well, you can't please everyone!

I'll be back for Marketing Monday tomorrow!

Right now, I'm going to celebrate my little milestone with a beer.

Beer of preference? Sam Adams Winter Lager. :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Marketing Monday - eMarketing for Authors

I had a great question today on The SCBWI listserve so I thought I would include it in Marketing Monday!

Question: How effective is Internet marketing for selling your book or just getting the title in front of people?

Answer: Internet marketing or "emarketing" is fast, cheap and can quickly reach a global audience. The trick is to have targeted messages to targeted audiences. It must be done right.

Here are some great emarketing techniques...

1) Web Promotion Plan - get an Author website up and running. A good quality web site not a cheesy one. There are many low-cost providers that have easy tools you can use - godaddy is one of them. It should not be too verbose and should be concise.

2) Search Engine Optimization - get your web site ranked high. This can be done through keywords. http://www.seoconsultants.com/seo/tips/

3) Email Marketing - Set up email marketing to subscribers or contact emails you collect as you begin networking for your book. This keeps audience informed of your upcoming events and news. I use constantcontact.com for my business but godaddy.com has a package that includes email marketing - again with templates that are easy to use. It must be an opt in - have people add their emails at signings/ presentations/school visits etc.

4) Vlog/Blog/Blog tours/Interviews - Blogging can help create a network and a buzz about you as an author. If you can find a niche to blog about. The Kitlitosphere is a great community of bloggers and you can post your blog on amazon for those who buy your book. Commenting on blogs is a great way to make connections online as well. Vlogging is video blogging where you tape your journal entry. Its a way for readers to connect with author.

5) Online Articles - submit articles to online ezines. There are hundreds of them. Find the best one in your target audience. It gets your name out and you usually get a tag where you can promote your book. Don't do articles on your book - do them on a topic.

6) Online press releases - http://www.prnewsonline.com/ Some groups already have

7) Run online contests - give away a book. maybe ask for an article or illustration of the week or month. This keeps people coming back.

8) Social networking sites - Get a facebook or myspace or twitter page or goodreads. Find out where your target audience goes and create a page. Link to your blog and other pages on your web sites. Link in friends - this also helps create a buzz

9) Podcasts - Post radio style interviews.

10) Online Video/ Book trailers- This is the newest trend. It's helpful for

Using the internet is easy and fun and essential to reaching audiences. Don't leave it out of your plan.

Hope this helps!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Notes of A Dark Angel

I've never considered myself an angel. However this weekend I was asked to be angelic to an editor at a my SCBWI conference.

Being an angel - although probably more of a Dark Fallen Angel in my Angelees eyes - was a fantastic experience. My Angelee was Martha Mihalick (Associate Editor Greenwillow Books) and was extremely gracious and fun - so fun that in another place and time - she probably could be my friend. Now whether she thinks so or not - is another story.

I admit as I was walking her around - I kinda had flashbacks of my horrid UGA sorority week when I had to show "pledges" around the house, be on my best behavior, be sure my "wicked" humor did not offend too many people. I pray I said all the right things. The only difference with Martha was I did not break out into a song or routine. Which actually may have been much more exciting for her :)

In being an Angel- I learned a few key things about myself. Some of which I knew, some of which I usually try to hide, and some of which reminded me how awkward I was in high school when I spent hours wishing I could be the naturally cool kid that everyone wanted to hang out with.

Top things I learned
1) I am not cool - no matter how hard I try.
2) I can be pretty organized until someone is counting on me. Then I fall apart.
3) Drama always finds me no matter where I hide
3) When in an awkward situation - i resort to dumb jokes to fill awkward silence.
4) I hate small talk and actually suck at it
5) Editors are people too
6) I am an introvert at heart
7) I am not cool
8) A good martini always breaks the ice
9) I will hike 7 flights of stairs against my better judgment
10) I love my critique group
11) My computer is my security blanket
12) I am getting old - most of the agents/editors were much younger than me :(
13) I wish I took a different path earlier in life - that I would have chosen publishing/editing children's books instead of marketing communications. (oh well - Water under the bridge)
14) Oh yeah - did I mention - I am not cool?

We all here horrific stories of editors and agents - the Simon Cowell's of the publishing. However, Martha was the "Paula Abdul" with a dash of wit and a pinch of cute. It was fun to learn about the people behind the curtain - The Oz's of Writing. And boy do they know their stuff. There is a reason why these people do what they do.

The conference - once again - was great. I love talking about writing and these are the rare times you can talk about writing for 24/7 and people don't think you are crazy or weird. So once again, I am back, energized and ready to send out my manuscript.

Key notes/points from Conference:

Paul Fleishman -
"creating art is solving a problem"
"serendipity is 1 of 4 food groups for writers."

Building a Story
1) Collecting - gather anything you may need for the future (articles, clippings, vacation stuff)
2) Personalizing - Add a bit of you - traits, obsessions, beliefs, your personal stamp
3) Forming- shape the idea for your book, create space
an intellectual is a person that can sit happily by themselves without reading a book"
4) Connecting - most important word is at the end of a sentence, the most important sentence is at the end of the paragraph, the most important paragraph is at the end of a chapter. Write a book where a person can't skip any pieces - make every word count.
5) Altering - what can be changed to make it better. Don't be afraid to cut. Pull out the leftovers
6) Judging always criticise what you wrote, is it doing what you want it to? don't be seduced by your book to the point of delusion

Lindsay Davis- Writers House

  • be sure the voice of the book is represented in your letter.
  • take comments or edits and make them your own
  • always address to specific person
  • its ok to have some humor in your letter
  • keep it short
  • For characters - do a character web - know all the back story and characters ins and outs.

Molli Nickell - Successful Queries

query workbook online and free at http://www.getpublishednow.biz/

Query letter do and don'ts

  • put most important stuff in the first paragraph - whatever you want them to read in 20 seconds
  • most will not scroll in an email query
  • sell not tell
  • be sure your voice comes through
  • be sure to focus on the benefits to the other person - avoid I, me, myself - focus on "you".
  • 1st paragraph - plot hook - 3 sentences
  • 2nd paragraph - 1st one expanded - lot summary - more about story. can be a little longer - 4-6 sentences
  • 3rd paragraph - your experience/mention SCBWI
  • never put web site on the letter - save for the 2nd one
  • always use Times New Roman 13 pt with 16pt spacing (exactly)
  • synopsis is expanded version of 2nd paragraph in query letter, the story about the protagonist
Andrea Welch - Beach Lane Books
if you follow up after submission - use a postcard - do not call or email.

  • always check web sites for changes in the house submissions
  • beach lane is a closed house
  • the shorter the query letter, the better. If it is too long - I will feel like I have to put "time" aside for it instead of just reading it right there.
  • spell name and company correctly
  • do not harass
  • never be mean to an editorial asst or secretary - they have the power, will one day be an editor, they will remember your name, are starting to build their own list
  • submit 1 story at a time
  • SASE with enough postage
  • Include a Postcard to confirm receipt - we will mail back so you know we got it.
  • looking for classic picture books - have 5 in 2009. will do about 12-15 books - mostly PBs but maybe 5 MG/YA

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Baby Girl

Beware this is a mom post

Yesterday, my daughter was invited to a birthday party. A camping party at night where they cook marshmellows and play games.

Yesterday on a park playdate, I see the mom (we will call her X) of the bday girl so I decide to RSVP. I am the slacker mom who always forgets to properly RSVP until a day or 2 before :( It's bad I know. I just forget, really!

In that conversation - I was faced with yet another situation that left me wondering: "when do you begin letting your child do things without you by their side?"

Here is a replay of that conversation:

Me - "I got the invitation and wanted to give you a verbal RSVP - my daughter and I will be there."

Cricket cricket . A group of moms stopped talking and stared at me.

X - "You're coming ?"

Uncomfortable silence.

Me - "Yes, is that ok? Was i not supposed to?"

X - "I just wanted to get a number of people for food ."

Me - "Oh, well I won't be eating so don't feel like you need to get more than you planned."

X - "I thought you would just drop her off."

Cricket cricket .

I fumbled and totally lied (I am not proud of it!) "uh, well my hubby wants to come since it is a night camping thing. He thought he could hang out with your hubby and help. You know roasting marshmellows and all - he thought it would be fun." (my poor hubby gets blamed for a lot of situations I need excuses for - It's wrong I know. It's either that or be in an awkward situation or hurt someone feelings. Sorry honey!!!! :( )

X - "Oh ok. (Turns to group) - is anyone dropping their kid off?"

All the moms sing out in unison: "We are."

X - "You are more than welcome to drop off. We dropped our daughter off when she was just 3. Isn't Maddy almost 5?"

ME - GULP. "Uh Yeah thanks. Listen, I need to be honest with you and let my hubby off the hook. He doesn't care about coming as much. It's me - I'm not just ready for that yet. I think she's still too young."

There I said it! I took responsibility for being the neurotic, over-protective mom. The crazy mom in the group. The mom who volunteers first for every field trip, the mom who signs up to be "room parent", the mom who comes to every party, and the mom who loves to be the reader on mystery reader day.
I guess some may see me as the "over-involved" mom.

I came home last night, feeling awful. It bothered me all night. I obsessed over 1,000 questions that pummelled through my exhausted and over-worked brain.

Was I crowding my 4 year old? Was I being controlling? Was I going to raise a weird kid? Was I going to raise a rebellious kid? Was she old enough? Was it safe?

When my hubby got home - I told him about it. He - the laid-back one - said "I think you did the right thing. I agree, she is too young especially for a night bday. She's only 4."

I felt a bit better but it nagged me all morning.

He's right, my daughter is only 4! Why should I let her go to a night bday party and roast marshmellows over an open fire by herself when there are only 2 parents and 12 kids? It is not like she is 13 - she is 4....ok 4 1/2 but who is counting.

Why do we want our kids to grow up so fast? Why do we have to? Why do we yearn to find places to "drop them off."? Why is it wrong to experience as much as we can with her? Wont there be plenty of time to let go?" Why can't we keep them close to us as long as we can?"

I realize there is coming a time to let go of my baby girl a little each day. There will be a time when I will not be going to parties. I will not know what she does during the day in class. She won't want to have play dates at our house. And I will not be as cool to her as I am now. :( I ended up crying this morning at this realization that my baby girl is growing up and some day I will no longer know her every move or every thought the way I have for the past 4 1/2 years. I will not see the jokes she laughs at or be there when a kid is mean. At some point, when she skins her knee, someone else may put that bandage on and make it better.

All day, I felt heavy at this realization. Something I am sure every mom goes through. Good lord, what will it be like when she drives, or goes off to college? I can't imagine.

When I picked my little girl up at school - I suddenly noticed how much older she looked. She had on cool clothes that she picked out HERSELF. She had pulled out her cute pigtails. And, she was whispering something to a friend that I woudl never know. She hopped in the car and asked to ride in the booster seat - all the way in the back of the car - 2 rows back. She even buckled herself in on her own. She then proceeded to explain to me why she did not eat her veggies at school.
"I do not want to eat if I am already full. It's not good for me."

My little baby girl was growing up.
As I drove home, I squeezed back tears as my 4 3/4 daughter went on and on about the events of her day. I listened, still wondering if I made the right decision on the bday party. Then as if reading my mind, she says:



"Hannah said she was having a camping party."

"I know. I told them you were coming."

"Are you coming too?"

GULP "Yes."

"Good cuz I don't want to go by myself."

"Really? why?"

"Cuz you're my best friend."
I smiled my biggest goofiest grin! I was so happy in that moment. I know I need to get ready to let go a bit of my little baby girl and I can't imagine how I will prepare my heart for that day.

But you know what?

That day is not today.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Here come the Halloween Crazies!

I am starting to wonder - where is the line between sane and crazy?

Everyday I come across behavior that seems slightly off.

Whether it be a racial slur, a speeding car through a crosswalk, a man talking to an invisible dog on a leash, or parents letting their kids be out of control.

These are minor oddities, but today I am reminded that things can get weirder when you least expect them.

A man down the street from us loves holidays. He decorates his house for every major holiday. In addition, the man stands outside his house on every holiday - and I mean every major - and dresses up as something. It has become a icon house that everyone drives by. Parents wondering "what will he be today?" while the kids squeal in delight. Whether it be a groundhog, turkey, snowman, or pumpkin - the guy gets decked out and entertains many.

  • Last Thanksgiving - he dressed as a turkey and actually sat on a huge nest - a 6x6 nest made of real sticks/logs.
  • Last Christmas - he dressed as Santa and sat in a rocking chair playing Christmas music.
  • Easter - he donned a large bunny costume and hopped across the yard - back and forth

I have always thought it was cute that someone was so enthusiastic. But every year, when Halloween rolls around - things get crazy at the old man's house.

But now....it's Halloween and all the crazies start coming out.

I drove by today with my kids and this year he is a bigfoot/gorilla hybrid. But not a fun happy gorilla - but a gorilla that chases your car.

Ok - so I am kinda scared!

I've noticed a pattern with this dude at Halloween.Last year, he was a really scary witch that stood on his porch turning on and off a flashlight. The year before that, he was the grim reaper chasing people down the street. Is he crazy or is it just the full moon? It seems pretty harmless the other months of the year but October gets sketchy.

I obviously cannot go down the street for fear of being attacked by an overenthusiastic middle-aged bigfoot/gorilla hybrid. Not to mention - the permanent scars of crazed gorillas on my children's psyche.

Beyond that - i am left with the question. Why does Halloween bring out the crazies? Are they always that way but when they gets masks on - they think they can just let loose? Are they really crazy, going crazy, or just acting crazy?

Either way - I am not a huge fan of Halloween. I think the crazies use it as an excuse to be real without being known.

Oct 21 - update

the gorilla/bigfoot hybrid now sits on a chair as if being electrocuted! Stay tuned!

Friday, October 10, 2008

More than One Platypus = Platypi

Two posts in one day? My hubby has the kids today so i guess blogging is what I consider a break - keeps me writing and gives me a "time-out" all at once.

I don't know why but I have been obsessing about the platypus lately. My daughter was watching Bindi - The Jungle Girl and Bindi was talking about the platypus.

I realized I have not thought about the platypus in years - I am talking at least 20 years.

When was the last time you thought about the platypus?

So I did some research and realize I am in love with these little creatures. (which maybe short-lived since last year it was Seahorses :)

Did you know that a platypus is a "semi-aquatic, venomous, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed, the only egg-laying , electroreception (whatever that means) mammal, that also has milk ducts to feed their young!!??

say what?!!!

ok - what was the universe smokin' that day?

And venomous - seriously? Evidently "the male Platypus has a spur on the hind foot that delivers a venom capable of causing severe pain to humans."

They are also only found in Australia - crikey!

So these little creatures - with an obvious identity crisis brewing just under the surface - can actually hurt you.
What does this have to do with writing? Absolutely nothing.!

Just that the world is a crazy and beautiful place.

Note: the picture file is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License (cc-by-sa-2.0).

Kidlitosphere Poetry Friday - My Road Less Traveled

I am trying something new!


I just joined the "Kidlitosphere" world where I am hoping to make some new blogging friends and begin building a followship for my blogs and join a community of fellow blogging children's writers.

Can't hurt right? It's like going to school and wanting to make friends. I don't know any published writers and I don't really have any writer friends (except my great critique group) and I love to talk about writing. I have found that now I am blogging, - I want people to visit me. I want them to read my thoughts and love to read theirs.

Anyway, Kidlitosphere has a theme every so often and members blog about it.

At first I thought - Poetry - maybe this one is not for me.

But then I remembered, I started writing poetry when I was about 8. I filled a whole book with my poems and my favorites.

My Favorite Poem

I always loved Robert's Frost's The Road Less Traveled otherwise known as The Road Not Taken http://www.bartleby.com/119/1.html. Somehow it has ended up being a theme of my life. "I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference."

I started out on the "The Road Always Taken" and it was a corporate one. I climbed up the ladders of Accenture and became a VP at Bank of America. I always knew I was not truly happy but I made alot of money so I felt I had nothing to complain about.

Several years ago, I found myself pulled into a political windstorm that eventually led to the death of my corporate career. At first, I was devastated but I soon remembered praying for a way out, a new life, a clean slate. I found myself at a crossroad.

Did I take the one with "grassy and wanted wear" and revive my corporate career of mileage points and buzz words in Ann Taylor suits and great shoes?


Did I investigate the "one bent in the undergrowth" by creating stories and using my imagination all while sitting comfortably in cargo pants and Payless flip-flops?

I chose the "Road Less Traveled".

My Published Poem

And Ironically, the first published piece I have is that one of my poems was chosen by Editor Andrew Karre at Llewellyn for the Deluxe Edition of Laurie Faria Stolartz's Blue is for Nightmares. http://lstolarz.livejournal.com/ (whose boosk are a great read). I thought I would include - my first published work :)

a student in life, a witch at heart, a legacy in magic, spells ala carte.

nightmares so real I can feel a breath, whispering warnings of imminent death.

white lilies line a jagged path, showing the way to evil’s wrath.

cards reveal the ace of spades, dooming a friend to live her last days.

words on notes strewn in red, ghosts from the past fill my head.

following intuition deep in my heart, flames of betrayal flickering in the dark.

finally escaping the pain of one less friend, yet knowing the nightmare may never end.

I guess my new journey along an overgrown path has begun. I know I will find my way and have a great adventure. I know it will an exciting and fullfilling one (I cant even imagine what it will be like when I get published:) ......

And I know it is on "The Road Less Traveled".

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Lucky to be a Writer

I came across this article today about the Oddest Jobs of 2008. And I found it just after talking to friends about how much I love writing but how hard it is.


Looks like my alternatives - at this point - are a Yawn Counter or a Kitty Box Decorator. I'd love to see the job descriptions on this one. And do you get paid by the yawn/by the kitty?

As always, 1,000 questions pop into my mind:

  • How do you even get these jobs?
  • Are they listed on Monster.com?
  • How do you interview for them?
  • What is your career path?
Although after talking to my husband, I realize he has held some crazy jobs in his life. Yes, he is British but I found out he has been a:

  • turkey plucker ( i assume this is not the live ones but I did not ask)
  • newspaper boy (no so bad unless you live in the cold wet lands of Wales?!)
  • marzipan maker (I am more of a chocolate person myself)
  • bathroom cleaner (for an assisted living home! I'll have to remember this one next tim eI have to clean the house. No more bathrooms - Yay!)
  • rock collector (he did get a PHD in Topography - whatever that is :)
What's even crazier is that I find my hubby even cuter for these odd jobs which probably says alot about me - huh?. In addition, I now understand why he is so great with our kids. He obviously can stomach anything. I on the other hand - no so much. I think I have an underdeveloped gag reflex and an overzealous imagination - those 2 DO NOT mix well!

My point? Oh right - my point.

I am more thankful to be a writer. It is a great life. I don't know if I can really call it a "job" yet, but I'm determined to get there.

Maybe now, I'll appreciate the hard times a bit more.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Just me and my dog!

Update on my book ....

I am done recutting and plotting my book.

Now comes the hard part - reading it aloud.

I am fine with reading it aloud - but to whom? (impressive grammar huh?:) So what are my options:

1) Critique Group? - Yes I have a fabulous critique group that has read about 2/3s of my book BEFORE i just replotted and rewrote the entire thing. So I cant really start over - can I? After all - to get through 35 chapters - meeting twice a month - is another 17 months! I don't want to wait that long. Call me impatient but I am ready to birth this baby and introduce it to the world.

2) My poor hubby! He'll probably be the one drafted in the end - and he would not object for fear of sleeping on the couch - but I feel sorry for him. Having almost married a well-known writer myself - I know what it is like to spend your weekend(s) and nights across long hrs drudging through dialogue over and over. My hubby has already listened to many chapters read, redone, replotted, tweaked, and then re-read again. I am pretty sure he is over my book at this point. I don't blame him. He is always supportive and probably would not admit it but I am pretty sure that he is that kid in class that when the teacher asks a question. He waits to see if anyone else will raise their hand first. BTW - everything to him is "great writing sweetie" or "I think it's a bestseller." Call me crazy but I prefer people to RIP it apart!

3) My mom? Thank god for Moms! They will listen to their kids spill on about pretty much anything. I think my mom listened to me spouting on about platypuses (or is it platypi?) for a long period of time (this is a whole other blog topic but I am obsessed with the platypus right now. Fascinating creatures.) My mom is a great reader but I cant read aloud to her - no time nor patience. She does ask alot of questions so it would probably take twice as long as my critique group (sorry mom!)

4) Friends? - none of which really read let alone "children's books". I prefer to use them for to complain about my impossible schedule, to cry on their shoulder, laugh, buy my a cup of coffee when I am broke, or other unplanned favors :)

5) Family - too loaded with personal issues and baggage. And its the holidays - I need to keep things simple.

Where does that leave me - I guess me and my dog, Bud, my really old Jack Russell "Terror" who I just now remembered in COMPLETELY DEAF? In this case, I guess that is lucky for him :)

So I guess I'm back to just....

Me, myself, and I.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Marketing Monday - Raising Your MQ

I have not blogged since last week and it is already Marketing Monday.

Here are some ideas on how authors can raise their MQ (Marketing IQ) and "Begin Marketing Your Book":

1) Time in = Books Out
If you cannot put 30 minutes in a day on average to promote your book, then you should not expect to sell any. Be sure to document everything you find. Keep a spreadsheet of contacts, places, magazines - any ideas you have to market your book.

2) Web-ify
Always create a web presence. Get a web site up and running. Godaddy offers inexpensive options. You can get a domain, hosting and web site cheaply and get your site up within a couple hrs. Get a web site tonight account which is very user friendly. It walks you through each step on building your own. Start with an AUTHOR web site for you - create a 5-6 page web site - home, books, tour, bio, extra. Be sure you begin thinking about a brand.

3) Smart Brands
Pick a way to brand yourself and create that brand using other materials. Make postcards and biz cards - be sure to think of ways to do them differently, yet professionally. For example: instead of 3 1/2 by 5 postcards, do 6x9. Instead of white biz cards with black type - change it up. Be creative and stick to your brand. Vistaprint.com or iprint.com offers good beginner deals. How can you stand out?

2) Who? Who?
Look for 3-5 different target audiences - different groups that would want your book. Find out how to reach each audience: What magazines do they read? What clubs/groups do they belong to? Conventions? Festivals? Ezines and web sites? School visits and book signings are NOT the only way. They are only one way.

3) Blurb it?
Who are the popular authors in your target audiences. What does their marketing consist of? Can you get a blurb? Look at all sides of your book - non-fiction, fiction etc.

4) Be a Celebrity.
You should know all book store managers - independent especially - before book comes out. Also - what are the local newspapers, magazines, neighborhood newsletters, local events. Talk to local biz owners - tell them you are in the area. People love local celebrities!

5) A Neat little kit
In this you will need a press release - play up some interesting angle, a bio, a professional photo (not the one from your sister's wedding!), and something about your book (postcard, book mark etc), business card.

Follow these and you can create your own Marketing Miracle!

Let me know if you have any questions of topics on marketing or pr that you want me to cover!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Marketing Monday - Tips for Pre-Published Authors

I have been asked a question by my readers:

Why don't you ever blog about marketing?

Good question. I have no good answer. I guess because I speak marketing all day so I dont think about it at night.

As some know - my day job is that I have my own marketing/copywriting business www.bilaninc.com - founded in 2000. I have done marketing from Corporations (Spanx, Goody Hair Products) to Nonprofits to Small Businesses to Authors. I have been doing Marketing since I left Auburn with my MBA in 1995. (you do the math (Boo hoo!)

I've decided to start a weekly blog (Maybe Marketing Mondays!) that will offer marketing tips and help you to "Increase your MQ (Marketing IQ)."

This week's focus - tips for pre-published authors
You will hear me say you do NOT have to be published to start your marketing. Focus on your marketing on the days you want to write but can't. It will help you move through writers block and force you to be thinking baout your book.

1) Find a great hook for your book - this can be used in query letters, submissions, elevators, prayers (Dear god - please help me sell my...)

2) For writer's sake - create a web site! I don't care if you are not published. Get a web presence - get one now!. Create a web site that you can grow. You will not have time once you get published so why not start now.

3) Creating a strategy for your book. Take the book you are trying to sell and create a marketing plan. Think about target audiences, the best way to reach each group, and contact names. Again, you wont have time to do this after you get published.

4) Create a blog. Why not? Again - it forces you to write something when you cant write anything on that huge YA novel. I know of a few authors who got an agent because the agent or editor SAW THEIR BLOG and loved their writing. You just never know.

5) Think about yourself as a brand - who is your market, how do you want to present yourself. How do you sell yourself to an agent, an editor, and so on. Marketing starts even before you go out and try to find an agent.

I came across this quote to sum it all up.

"You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can not get them across, your ideas will not get you anywhere - Lee Iacocca"