3 S.R. Johannes: November 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hail to the Heros

Marketing Tip of the Day: Book Reviews (Free except for buying the book)
Review a book on your blog (focus in the same genre if you want). Send the author a note with a link to the review. I know authors that only do reviews for books they like. This review gives the author a boost and creates a connection not only to your blog, but maybe a contact for you when your book comes out.

Hail to the Heros
I watched CNNs Heros show last night and wept the whole time. These people have given their time and hearts to others freely expecting nothing in return. They make us realize that when you give in small ways it makes a huge impact. They all started by helping one person at a time. It reinforces the idea that it's better to give a little than to not give at all. Made me think about the main reason I want to be published. To give back. I feel like writing books is somehow connected to my purpose - I don't know why or how.

During this Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to send a special shout-out to these 10 incredible people:

1) Liz McCartney - helping Katrina victims by rebuilding homes for more than 120 families.
2) Tad Agoglia - started a response team for disaster victims and have aided 15 sites for free
3) Maria Da Silva - LA nanny who funds a school in Malawi where kids are victims of Aids.
4) Yohannes Gebregeorgis - Ethiopia Reads that provides free libraries and books to children
5) Carolyn Lecroy - Message Project that connects incarcerated parents with their children through video messages
6) Anne Mahlum - Back on my feet program that supplies running groups, shoes and running gear to homeless people
7) Phymean Noun - offers children who work in Phen's trash dumbs free schooling and job training
8) David Puckett - brings prosthetic care to those in Mexico without limbs
9) Marie Ruiz - Takes food, clothing, and toys to impoverished children/families in Mexico
10)Viola Vaughn -10,000 Girls Program helps girls in Senegal succeed in school and business

A personal shout-out to Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd crew (Whale Wars) who all work for free and put their lives at danger every day to stop illegal whale killing from happening. Trueless selfless.

We all can make a difference.

Today, do one small thing for someone!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Shel's POV

Point of View by Shel Silverstein
Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless
Christmas dinner's dark and blue
when you stop and try to see it
from the turkey's point of view.
Sunday dinner isn't sunny
Easter feasts are just bad luck
when you see it from the viewpoint
of a chicken or a duck.
oh how i once loved tuna salad
pork, lobsters, and lamb chops too.
til I stopped and looked at dinner
from the dinner's point of view

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Day of 29 Thanks!

(Don't ask me why it's 29! )

Marketing Tip for the Day: Affiliate Marketing
I thought Affiliate Marketing was a great technique to talk about this holiday. Affiliate marketing—using one website to drive traffic to another—is a form of online mrkt. Amazon has a great affiliate program - if people buy books through your link, you can get discounts or earn 15%.

You can do this as a published or unpublished author!

Here are 29 things I am thankful for:

  1. my family - for undying, yet dysfunctional support

  2. my friends - b/c they tell me the real truth

  3. my hubby - for loving me no matter what - (no really he does!)- and for giving me time to write)

  4. my kids - for making me laugh and taking life less seriously

  5. my critique group (Sheri, Kelly, Betsy and Jessica) - for supporting me with constructive criticism and honesty)

  6. my WFFs (Katie, Sarah, Irene, Lindsey) - for relating to the highs and lows of the writing world

  7. my new BBLs - for coming back to hear my rants and raves

  8. my pointer fingers - for doing all the typing - I mean pecking

  9. my body - for letting me live an active healthy life - keep up the good work:)

  10. my feet - for only growing 1/2 of a size through 2 pregnancies

  11. SCBWI - for teaching me how to be a writer

  12. my computer - for not crashing yet (I better back up today!)

  13. James Patterson, Sue Grafton, Barry Eisner, and other thriller writers- for the great stories and teaching me how to write a page-turner

  14. my imagination - for not being afraid to travel deeper into the unknown

  15. my nerves - for staying somewhat stable during this crazy process called publishing

  16. my agent-to-be - for believing in me, my character, my story and for giving me a chance. I won't let you down.

  17. my yoga teacher - for keeping me centered

  18. flavored creamer - for making my coffee extra sweet

  19. libraries, bookstores, and publishers - for making and supplying great books

  20. Dirty vodka martinis - for a nice night out

  21. La Paz cheese dip - for always making me happy and full

  22. Wipeout - for all the laughs you've given me

  23. MMs with peanuts - for staying up with me at night when I write

  24. my dog, Bud - for always listening and keeping me company late at night

  25. itunes- for great music I can write to

  26. all agents - for reading through 1000s of queries and still finding time to respond

  27. America - for putting Obama in office

  28. Obama - for giving me hope

  29. the universe - for all the signs telling me I am on the right track

Have a happy holiday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nuggets of Knowledge (Part 2)

From now on - since this is supposed to be more of a marketing blog (sprinkled with a few rants and raves), I will always include a marketing tip for published and pre-published authors no matter the topic of the post. I will also rank the cost: Free, Low, Medium, High.

Today's tip: Fancy up your cards
Always use both sides of our business cards and always do them in some kind of color. (Low-medium cost depending on design)
  • Published - Use both sides of your business card - use the front for your information, and use the back to list your book title(s), blurbs, how to buy book, etc
  • Pre-published - You can do the same. Use the front for your information and the back for the book you are trying to sell along with your 2-3 sentence elevator speech. It may catch an editor or agents eye.
Now for Self-Editing for Fiction Writers continued:

7) See How it Sounds -
  • Dialogue must be compressed and more focused than real dialogue.
  • use more contractions.
  • two sentences can be strung together with a comma instead of period. Most real people do not pause between sentences. (do not overuse).
  • dialogue is excellent to get facts across.
  • weed out fancy words - instead of "have you considered the consequences?", how about "have you thought about what might happen?"
  • have characters answer unspoken questions, talk at cross purposes, have them hedge or disagree.
  • good dialogue must mimic real speech so it sounds real.
  • read your dialogue out loud with someone - be alert for anything you naturally change or say that is not written. Even non verbals.
  • Don't not use trick spellings or lexical gimmicks. Occasional different spelling is OK but don't use it too often.
  • best way to show dialect or speech is through word choice, cadence and grammar.

8) Interior Monologue -

  • don't use too much - it can interrupt the scene. Focus on beats.
  • be sure you do not reiterate what is already in scene.
  • make sure it is not explaining dialogue.
  • show what you can't show in dialogue.
  • ask yourself - how important are these feelings to the story?
  • never use quotes and you don't need italics.
  • rarely a good idea to mumble or speak under breath unless it is specific to your character.
  • if monologue is long, set off in a separate paragraph.

9) Easy beats

  • internal monologue is considered a beat.
  • physical actions can be beats.
  • allows you to vary pace of dialogue
  • don't describe actions in too much detail unless it is critical to story. Assume your readers can fill in the steps you skip.
  • # of beats depends on rhythm of dialogue.
  • only describe things that really matter.
  • higher tension - fewer beats; lower tension/breaks - more beats.
  • beats show change in emotion - when character has a change of feeling or realization
  • read aloud for natural flow. Listen for the natural pauses - that is where you can add a beat.
  • write fresh beats to cliches. Change up cliches.
  • Watch your friends as they are talking for non verbals

10) Breaking it up

  • watch lengths of paragraphs. never longer than 1/2 of a page.
  • You want some white space
  • longer paragraphs - create a slower pace; shorter paragraphs create more tension.
  • All chapters do not have to be the same length.
  • brief scenes or chapters create tension.
  • IN real life - few of us get a string of sentences off without any interruption. Look for long paragraphs of dialogue and break it up.

11) Once is enough!

  • be sure you are not repealing feelings or actions too often.
  • watch for echos - words repeated in a paragraph should be altered for variety. repeated phrases in a chapter should be altered.
  • don't use brand names often - mention once and then use generic.
  • be on lookout for repetition on a larger scale as well. -
  • Writing 2 or more chapters that offer the same thing - consider combining them or distinguishing them.
  • When you have characters that accomplish the same thing - consider combining them or distinguishing them.
  • Watch repetitive effects (throwing up, rolling eyes etc)
  • Do not crate stereotypical characters- find a way to change them.
  • watch repetition from book to book. Be sure the plot shifts and different characters are not really just the same one repeated with a different name.

12) Sophistication

  • Watch "stylistic constructions" beginning with as or ing word. Pulling off her gloves, she turned to face him. OR As she pulled off her gloves, she turned to face him.
  • Only use these if you need the actions to happen at the same time and if they physically happen at the same time.
  • Look for cliches - life in the fast lane - change them up or replace them with something different.
  • Watch for characterization cliches - nerd with pocket pen etc
  • Look for ly adverbs.
  • You can depart from conventional comma usage in dialogue. It may convey how the speech really sounds.
  • do not need emphasis quotes
  • use exclamation points when someone is yelling.
  • Do not use italics for emphasis - show emphasis in dialogue and rhythm.
  • Watch out for flowery or poetic speech unless it is part of your character trait.Be sure character speaks as they really would.
  • Subtle approaches invokes reader imagination. Leave some physical details to the reader.

13) Voice

  • Literary style is different from voice - they are not interchangeable. You can have one and not the other.
  • Watch out for too many sentences in a row with same structure. Diminishes voice - no one talks that way.
  • If you capture a state of mind poetically - be sure it captures a turning point or key state of mind in character development
  • Most characters do not have a "descriptive" speech naturally
  • Watch for vagueness (generic) descriptions - man ordered drink vs dwarf ordered a vodka
  • If a passage seems obvious - check for explanation (narration or dialogue) or rewrite
  • If passage seems strained - read it aloud for any minor changes you can make.

That's it - I learned a ton. You may find some things are not as problematic to you as others.

Go through your book and highlight each one in a different color. Sweep through for each problem to see if it needs to be addressed.

Happy writing!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Marketing Monday - Guerilla Marketing

Happy Marketing Monday!

I highly recommend Guerilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad-Levinson

The book covers 100 weapons for selling your work range from creating media kits and promotional calendars to appearing at book-group discussions and fundraisers. Each "weapon" is rated by its monetary cost to the author, and well over half are free. This mostly pertains to nonfiction but I think anyone can utilize these strategies.

In addition, Guerilla Marketing covers 15 marketing secrets that you must think through to have a successful marketing plan:

  1. Content - first you need to write a great book before you can market it.

  2. Commitment - you must commit to creating a marketing plan and then do 5 things for your marketing every day.

  3. Investment - think of money you put into marketing as a long-term investment.

  4. Consistent - be consistent on the frequency and quality of your marketing messages.

  5. Confident - consistency creates familiarity and familiarity creates confidence. Confidence is more important than price or other packaging factors.

  6. Patient - Know it will take time to build and execute an effective plan. Follow up to ensure results.

  7. Assortment - use many different marketing tools to reach different people. Don't only use only 1 or 2 ways. It will only get you so far.

  8. Subsequent - focus on creating readers for life more than you focus on sales.

  9. Convenient - make it easy for people to reach you and have access to your books.

  10. Amazement - excite your readers. technology has a high "Wow" factor in marketing these days (vlogs, twitter, trailers etc).

  11. Measurement - track the effectiveness of your "marketing weapons". Eliminate what fails, continue what works.

  12. Involvement - Did you know that it costs 6x more to get new readers than to keep old readers? Stay involved with your readers frequently - web sites, forums, emails, newsletters etc.

  13. Dependent - create "win-win" dependencies that enable everyone to achieve goals

  14. Armament. - use up-to-date technology to promote your work. Don't get outdated.

  15. Consent - by being a source of information, you are silently gaining consent to market to your readers.

Let me know if you have any questions on these secrets to marketing success.

Hope this helps...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nuggets of Knowledge (Part 1)

A while back, my friend, Lindsey Leavitt (Princess for Hire 2010) recommended a great book to me: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.

I finished reading it and found it very helpful, not just for editing, but for writing in general.

Thought I would share my notes and a few "nuggets" I took away from this book (though you should still buy it!)

1) Show vs Tell
  • in long strings of dialogue - intersperse "beats" - little pieces of action.
  • don't tell feelings - she felt depressed, she was anxious. Rewrite in action.
  • use narrative scene strategically - when you purposely want to give the reader a break or when it pushes the story forward.

2) Characterization

  • Definition: process of giving character information through words, actions, and thoughts.
  • show personality traits through action (if your character is shy, show it in the action. don't say - she is shy).
  • do not summarize character up front - work it into the scene.
  • be sure you give enough description throughout to help reader picture physical traits.

3) Exposition

  • definition -inform, explain or describe plots elements in description, flashback, or narrative.
  • give only enough background as needed to the story (not entire background).
  • bring these pieces out naturally.
  • convert long narratives that describe a process into an action scene.
  • look for places where dialogue is really exposition in disguise

4) Point of View

  • First person - most intimate POV; cannot write about anything your character cant know.
  • Omniscience - when you gain perspective but you lose intimacy.
  • 3rd - a continuum in between the first 2 POVs.
  • 1st person lets you write with narrative intimacy that sometimes you can convey emotions that even the character is not quite aware of.
  • Sometimes it is more effective to stick with one POV and show other characters emotions through dialogue and actions again describing only what main POV could know.
  • establish POV in very beginning/first scene if possible.

5) Proportion

  • misjudgement - writer undermines readers with blow-by-blow. focus on major points of scene. don't need to fill in every detail, leave some to the reader.
  • too much detail - if you are writing about a hobby or interest of your character - be sure you balance what readers want to know with what you want to share.
  • cutting - don't cut too much. difference between those that harmonize with story and those that drag down story.
  • focus on what is important to story.
  • read the first 50 pages - what do you spend most of your time on?
  • if you have plot element that is supposed to be a surprise - don't focus on it.
  • makes sure most of your materials advances character or plot.

6) Dialogue

  • do not explain dialogue - "what are you talking about?" she said in astonishment. put astonishment in the action or inflection or wording.
  • look for adverbs - slowly, softly.
  • when clarifying speaker attributions, stick to said (not offered, inquired, asked). others interrupt dialogue.
  • don't need adverbs with said.
  • don't open paragraph with He said. put said at first natural break in sentence.
  • put name in front of said. David said. NOT said David.
  • decide how you are going to call character and stick with same thing for the entire scene. Hughie for scene. Next scene can be Hugh. Don't mix them up it is distracting to reader.
  • replace a said with "beats" - pieces of action, especially if more than 2 people are in the scene. (use discreetly).
  • uses dashes - (interruption) and ellipses ... (trailing off).
  • New paragraph for each new speaker.

I''ll do the rest tomorrow.

Happy writing!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Five! Marketing Pet Peeves

My Top 5 Book Marketing Pet Peeves

1) Web site pages as long as Santa's naughty list - Don't make us page down through pages of your bio. The standard web rule is the user should not have to page down more than 2 times. I personally prefer 1. Your web site is an executive summary. You only need something short and sweet. Web sites reflect your writing. If you drone on for pages - I might not want to read your book. If you have the attitude - "Ill just get my web site up and work on it later", its the wrong one. The minute you launch it - people can see it. Keep it simple, professional, and short. Again, you can get help on Godaddy, they even have templates from which you can choose.

2) Business cards, bookmarks, and brochures from The Land of Cheapo. Come on! Nowadays you can get inexpensive, solid quality stuff from various web sites. You really don't want a white business card with your face on it. You really don't need a bookmark that is so flimsy it can be used as origami. Do yourself and your image a favor, invest in high quality pieces or don't do them at all.

3) My only target audience is children between ages of 0-18. Everyone has more than one target audience. Age is not the only way to segment your audience. There are others such as by topic, by regional as well as looking at the type of media, type of reader (library, bookstore, book club etc). Take some time to think through all of your target audiences and all the ways you can possibly reach them - you should be able to come up with at least 3 audiences and 3 mediums for each.

4) Just gonna wing it. Everyone needs a plan. Just like you need a plot for your book before you write, you need a marketing plan before you can market. Some people think that winging marketing is effective. Nope! I'm not talking about creating a 100 page word document. I am talking about a process where you - as the writer - identify your target audiences, key mediums, key timelines, key events - and set up key contacts in advance. Your materials, plans, and contacts should be in place 6 months before your book comes out. Don't wait until your book is out before you think about it.

5) I don't know computers so I cant do marketing. What? If you are selling books to kids, you need to learn computers. Nowadays at least 50% of marketing (and I am being generous, I think its more like 60-70%) is online. You need to know how to blog, how to do a basic web site, how to start a myspace or facebook page, and how to text/twitter. You also need to keep up with the youth trends (Ypulse is good for that) If you don't know how to use all these, they all are set up pretty easily to figure out. Some even have tutorials. This cannot be an excuse anymore - unless you don't want to sell anything.

Marketing and Pr are critical to your overall brand. It is better to invest in a few key pieces than to do a bunch of bad pieces. Take pride in your materials as you would take pride in your book. It is a reflection of you.

In addition to the bigger things, if you are going to deal in marketing and PR yourself, it's still important to dwell in minutiae. so be mindful of all the little things. Like copy, grammar and punctuation. These all make a different on web sites, blogs, and other marketing materials.

So get out there and market or you could always use me :)

If you have any questions, post them in a comment and I will be happy to answer. :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

WTPDF Writer seeking NFSW Agent

I am a Witty, talented, passionate, dedicated female writer seeking a nice, funny, smart, well-connected literary agent.

An agent who is seeking a YA suspense or a Tween paranormal. One has a witty, self-sufficient, smart, sarcastic, outdoorsy, electronic-savvy protagonist named Grace. The other, a deadly girl named Gabby.

I would like an agent who can happily commit to a long-term relationship.

One who:

  • loves to carry my manuscripts in his/her briefcase
  • refuses a kindle until my books are on it
  • love my characters, loves my humor, and absolutely adores me
  • believes with all their heart that my book will do great things
  • laughs in the face of economic times, knowing my book will prevail all recessions
  • calls me every day and showers me with compliments and multiple offers
  • has no edits for any of my subs knowing they are from pure perfection

My perfect agent is:

  • a relative or close friend of Oprah's
  • well-connected
  • funny
  • patient
  • nice
  • works 24/7
  • someone who loves my voice
  • prophetic
  • free or freeish
  • doesn't mind 15 emails from me a day
  • responds to every email with care and love
  • wants me as his/her only client so thy can focus 150% of their time on my book
  • laughs at my jokes
  • refers to me as "my #1 writer"
In return, I promise to:

  • write good...I mean well.
  • revise with a smile
  • offer 20% instead of standard 15% commission
  • only email once a day and turn off the "return receipt"
  • never prank call editors using your name
  • never use a dangling modifier, or a comma, splice
  • stay true to my character' arcs
  • mention you in my book acknowledgements...at least twice
  • give you a shout-out when I am on on Oprah
  • not complain too much about my book cover
  • not send you holiday cards with glitter
  • never use any cliche - to safe the life of me
  • to always show and not tell
Contact me in any way you wish if interested - twitter, myspace, facebook, email, phone, address, telepathy, bike messenger, telegram, in my dreams, when hell freezes over, sky-writing, cookie message, letter, television plea,

Shouldn't be too hard to find, right?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ode to Writers Everywhere

Janet Reid at Fine Literary had a great link to a Rachel Gardner's post yesterday which is just what I needed. No matter what your personal views are, or what you believe it - the premise of this post is so true.

Also Pub Rants post on hope for the debut author. Good news for us newbies. Keep to your calling and know there will always be markets for good writers/stories.

All good points.

Right now, I realize the journey of me being a published writer is not about the end result (yes it is! yes it is! says the crummy little book devil sitting on my shoulder!)

But I know deep down, it's really not. Writing is about the journey (blah blah blah :) I have to have faith that I believe in myself and my writing with my whole heart and soul.

This is my calling.

I gave up so much to be a writer - an executive job, great pay, my ego - all to walk along the ledge on the mountain of publishing.

If I can't write, I am not living. My soul does not sing and my spirit just wants to sleep.

I am focusing on how far I've come. It is about the journey. It is about faith. It is about hope. It is about the process. It is about the feeling we get when we write. I know I will make it. I will be passionate. I will make revisions with a smile on my face. I will work so hard! When (not if) I am given the chance.

I'd like to take a moment and celebrate how far we've come.

So to all my fellow writers - no matter what stage you are in - writing your first book, published, unpublished, pre-published - this song's for you:

Somewhere over the rainbow
Blue birds fly
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Dreams really do come true ooh ooooh

Somewhere over the rainbow
Blue birds fly
And the dream that you dare to
why, oh why can't I?

Hang in there and follow your dreams. If writing was not your calling - you wouldn't be reading this right now :)

Good luck

Monday, November 17, 2008

Marketing Monday - The Importance of Peeps

As I got to thinking about my marketing post, I admit I was a bit stumped today on what I could post about.

As you all know Marketing and PR is based on Networking. Yes you can have ads, yes you can have websites, and yes you can only do so many book tours or school visits.

I tell all my clients - it is about creating a buzz and name/brand recognition (whether it be your author brand or your book brand). In my humble opinion (after an MBA in Marketing from Auburn and over 15 years of experience doing marketing, pr, and communication for companies and non-profits of all sizes), the best way to do this is by networking. BY getting out there and meeting people whether it be on blogs, vlogs, podcasts, radio interviews, conferences, and yes book signings.

I've said 653 times (at least) if you are only doing school visits and/or bookstore signings, you are missing out. Maybe it does it for a few huge authors and maybe some get lucky. But it is not the way to go these days. You have to branch out and expand your reach.

Therefore, PR is the way to go. Marketing is paid for, choreographed, and organized. PR is word of mouth. Networking is good old fashion PR. And I'm sorry to say (b/c I risk writing myself out of a paycheck) PR is ALWAYS best coming from you - not your agent, not your editor and not a PR person (my hubby is kicking me right now!! Sorry honey!) Those people can help you brainstorm and come up with plans. Can even implement some for you (I redeemed myself honey! :) but they (we) only do so much. People like me are better for pr planning and marketing purposes to get your plans started, materials in order, help create a brand. Yes you need biz cards, yes you need a website, yes you need book signings. That's where I can help.

But most importantly, you need to get out there yourself and network. Create a buzz.

When people buy a brand, don't think for a minute, they are not also buying you. Think about it - if you love a book and hate the author. maybe you met her and she was rude. Would you buy her book again? This happened to me and I didn't - no matter how good the books are - they were ruined for me.

PR is making connections and utilizing your peeps!

1) Start out with your current peeps
Once writers get published, they CANNOT forget where they came from. I am not talking about friends and family either. I am talking critique groups, conference participants and organizers, and blogger buddies, neighborhood organizations, PTAs, charities, Playdates, Alumni etc. Sounds dumb but you already have some easy quick hits in utilizing your current connections. I see so many writers who get published that either don't think of their current connections as a market or audience OR worse, they walk away from them.

I will plug a couple key ones that should never be forgotten. The first sin of an author.
  • SCBWI -www.scbwi.org. For those of you who do not know about it - is an organization that helps authors writer for the children's market. I feel like alot of published writers that have always attended these conferences and utilized the knowledge and resources that comes from it, forget how much the group helped them by offering access to industry professionals, critiques, and the insight scoop on the publishing world. So if you are published and a member, stay active. Give back to those that helped you get a chance in this industry. Attend conferences, share your story, be a speaker, meet with unpublished authors. This is still marketing and pr. This is your network. This builds your word of mouth. I know authors get busy, but these conferences in your region are only twice a year. Give back as you have been given too.

  • Critique Groups - These are the people who helped you get to where you are - if you have a good one. If you get published, help them get published. Don't leave the group b/c you don't have time. This is still apart of your marketing, your networking.

2) Reconnecting with old peeps - Look to the past. Old friends, high school class, college classmates, sorority pledge class, old job mates. Go to Reunion.com or classmates.com. Your past connections (as long as you were nice to them - i do not recommend contacting those you snubbed, broke up with, or backstabbed :) love hearing stories of success. There are alumni newsletters, school reunions, and company events. So look back and recreate your close connections. (in fact, do that now, before you get published! You'll be one step ahead.

3) Make some new peeps. Here are a few great networking groups for Children's Book Writers when they become published (again, you can start these now! In my opinion, give now - receive later.)

  • MySpace.com
  • Facebook.com
  • Twitter.com
  • JacketFlap.com
  • Goodreads.com
  • Blog groups/Kitlitosphere
  • American Library Assoc/Yalsa - ala.org/yalsa
  • Booksense.com

4) Give back - If you get published, give back. Immediately, help another person in any way you can. It really bothers me when I run into published authors who hound me for marketing advice. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE LOVE LOVE helping other people sell their books. I do so please keep approaching me anytime. (Well not anytime but you know what i mean). It just irks me when authors run around asking "How can I sell....?" "How can I get..." "How can I..." How about giving. If everything you do is about you. I do not believe you will get far. Think about creating a 2-way street.

  • Give back to other struggling writers - not necessarily your agent or editors number, just give advice/hope/insight.
  • Give back to other published authors. Help them sell a book. Help them connect. Find ways to give.
  • Try partnering with a charity event or school to help them Do a signing, giving 10% of profits. You get a signing, they get money, you get exposure.

That's my advice for today.

Market my words!

So, today's challenge - reconnect with an old peep, contact a current peep, and make a new peep. Tell me your story!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Finding Grace

When I first started writing my book - almost 2 years ago - I needed a name for my character who was tough yet soft. To me, everything is in a name. Names give you feelings about a person before you even know them. It's funny how names fit people, isn't it.

I immediately thought of the name Grace but Grace was one of the names we had on our list for kids. We almost called my daughter Grace but she ended up a Madelyn (Maddy) - which suits her perfectly. I always loved the name Grace and what it stood for. But decided to save it for my next baby, b/c I was prego at the time. That was, until I found out my baby was a boy, who we named Gray (close to Grace :)

That left Grace fair game.

A few months after I started getting to know Grace and her story, I came across this beautiful U2 song that totally inspired my book and its core message of love and overcoming evil. Then, I watched this video - and it touched me deply. (FYI - the first girl crying with mascara running feels like Grace to me! It is so wierd! Wish I knew her name.)

I use this song when am beefing up details around Grace's character. She is a tough cookie and this song helps me keep an underlying femininity to her that she has yet to explore.

Some lyrics:
It's a name for a girl
It's also a thought that changed the world.
And when she walks on the street.
You can hear the strings,
Grace finds goodness in everything

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
Grace makes beauty out of ugly things


How did you come up with names for your characters?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My method of writing to music

Those who know me know that I write to music. (this along with lots of gum and MMs and coffee and coke zero. ugh!)

I know it seems crazy but it's true! Maybe it is my ADHD. But I write better with noise.

So - that's how Grace Under Fire came to be. Thanks to a list of great songs. I have completed that book and already working on book 2: A Blazing Grace.

I have a playlist for each book I am working on. And a song that represents the essence of each chapter - that gives me a vibe of what the chapter is about. So if I am writing on that chapter - I listen to that song. Now, I only use this when I just want to get a chapter down on paper and I don't want to think about editing or cliches. Once I am working a chapter to death, in detail. I usually listen to some form of instrumental music with no words.

I thought I could start sharing my playlist songs with you.

Here's is the one I writing to today - "Let me go" by Cake.

be prepared to bounce. Though the song is not truly happy, the beat it.


PS I am so proud I figured out how to do this. Man I am computer savvy. :)

This one is not on my playlist but it was too cute to pass up. :) This country gonna have a Par-ty!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Five!

1) From the Horse's mouth. I read a few post this week that gave direct feedback from kids to adults writers about what they like and don't like about books. In Publisher's Weekly , a 13 year old boy tells what boys like and don't like about today's books for boys. At the Crow's Nest, Nina summarizes what teens like and don't like about the books they read. She is a high school teach and grabbed some great insight. (how much do we owe you Nina!) I found it very insightful and it make me wonder: Why don't we Children writers find more time to talk with kids. We seem to spend alot of time reading about how to write, how to publish a book, how to get an agent, and how to do school visits. Great idea for next conference, get a panel of teens!

2) Commenting Challenge. I have way surpassed my quota of 5 comments a day. Bad news - more people have proof of how goofy I am. Good news - I made a few Bloggie friends this week. Special shout out to Literary Rambles (CaseyMcCormick). When the challenge is over, my goal is to continue visiting new blogs and meeting new efriends. After all, an introvert can never have too many cyber-friends.

3) Eight is Enough. Now I usually do not blog about politics. But I watched a video on Grow Wings - Laini Taylor's blog - that I found insightful. I am not here to give a "Prop 8: to be or not to be" speech. But here is a link to Keith Olberman's commentary on Prop 8. Whether you agree or not, he has some funny lines and good points. Plus I love his passion. (Thanks for the heart check Laini!)

4) My WFFs (Writer Friends Forever). It is so rare to find people that you connect to that love your writing and want you to succeed just as much as they want to succeed. Another special shout out to a few people who have been supporting me non-stop as I finished my book and a request for fulls from a couple agents I researched and hand-picked for my representation. Katie Anderson for offering to read my entire YA novel in a week. She has provided amazing insight and I wholeheartedly appreciate it. Check out her blog - Plot This (along with writer friend Sarah Francis who is also reading my book for me). Jessica Dehart, a fellow writer and friend who started this journey with me. She recently gave up an afternoon to sit down and simply brainstorm a few plotting issues. She also has an amazing foundation that teaches kids to lead brilliant lives. To the rest of my critique group - The Calliope Circle - Thanks for all your patience and words of encouragement. Too bad you all aren't agents. I'd be rich! :) Lindsey Leavitt, who has an amazing blog and is one of my new WFFs (writer friends forever). Thank you for taking me under your wing - even if you did not mean to or did not know you were- and guiding me through this crazy process with advice and cheering. My HHF (Hot Hubby Forever) - for everything you do and everything you are to me.

5) Sunny Days. Since I have a 4.83333 year old (I am not ready to say 5 year old yet :( and an 18 month old. Sesame Street is always on at our house (of course within the 2 hr TV limit recommended by the APA ;) This is their 39th season. I am (cough cough) so I grew up with them. They always make the show fresh and hip. Cool singers, new stars and new characters. I am personally in love with Abby Cadabby - the little fairy. For a public run show and station, they rock. Thanks for the sunny days.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What do Balls, Porcupines, Shiners, Santa, Spot the dog, A Sponge, and Aminals all have in common?

My daughter!

I don't write in journals anymore. Used to all the time. Now it is either play with kids, love on hubby, write my book, or blog. I don't even watch T/V. anymore (What?! My friends are having a heart-attack right now.)

A few things have happened to my daughter over the last few weeks that I want too record.

So I figured, why not share them with you all?

Of course they are mommy praises. Today is about my littlish girl who is getting biggish as we speak.

Her night-time fairy (attribute to new YA book "How to ditch your fairy) must be the "growing fairy" because I swear, each morning she wakes up smarter, taller, and funnier. What in the world happens during the night? Maybe that's why I seem to look older each morning. (Note to self: Ditch own growing fairy for new younger one)

1) What a ball-
My daughter just finished her soccer season. Total goals: 11, total fits: 1, total face plants: 3.
Last week, she had her awards ceremony. I cannot imagine how Michael Phelps mother felt when he won 8 gold metals. Because the minute they called her name at the award ceremony, I burst into tears. Got the whole thing on tape. You would have thought it was the Olympics. Of course, every kid gets a medal which I personally love. When the coach hung the sparkly medal around her neck, he actually said, "Now, here's one with natural talent." I was so proud I wanted to cheer but felt the need to be the star's humble mother. Then as she walked towards me she held up the metal just like Michael Phelps, beamed a huge sparkly smile, and actually said, 'Mommy, now I'm like Michael Phelps.

2) No Porcupines here
Last week, my daughter came home from school. "Mommy, Hannah told a Porcupine today" (my British hubby calls lies...porcupies). "She told me that her mommy has eyes in the back of her head. That's not true, wite mommy?" Now part of me wanted to say, "you're right sweetie. humans only have 2 eyes." But in that moment. I said. "I don't know, I think alot of moms have eyes in the back of their heads. They see everything." She just gave me her bulgy eyed stare and said, "That's amazing." I giggled as I left the room. It's funny how kids take everything so literal. At this age, they will believe anything. Which is why I tell her everyday I am "super mommy." It'll only be so long until she sees the real truth. I'm just a regular ole mom in a crappy disguise.

3) A Shiner of a day
My daughter came home with her first shiner. :( I gasped when she walked in the house. Her eye bruised and puffy. I ran to her side. "What happened!?" She was so calm, "I bonked my eye on the monkey bars when I was doing a trick." I realized in that moment, that you cannot protect your kid forever. It's scary to me that someday they are on their own with no one to stop a fall, protect their feelings, or tell them what to say. As I fussed over her eye and inspected it throughly for scarring, vision impairment, and permanet eye damage. Do you know what she said: "It's OK mommy. It's just a part of life." ugh :0O

4)Santa's got a big problem
Santa better get a move on this year because I am in trouble! A new bar has been set. Are you all ready for my daughter's humble list? A treehouse like Bindi the jungle girl (Steve Irwin's daughter), a trombone and drums, a real car, and a cupcake maker. What a list? Last year it was a trampoline. Try putting that thing together at midnight with a flashlight (thanks to hubby! who sucked it up after spinal surgery. What a man.) This is the first year,I realize that she can't be persuaded (manipulated or bribed) to pick out something convenient that I want to give her. Oi! Santa (hubby) better get busy on the treehouse. Lord knows what will happen with the trombone, a car is out of the question (even at 16) so I guess I'll just get the cupcake maker. Though I am not sure why we just cant use the oven.

5) Spot is in the house
My daughter is starting to rea! Granted she looks at the pictures and partially guesses the words. But hey, you gotta start somewhere. She is sounding out letters and forming words. She is trailing her finger along the page like the little red bouncy ball on Sesame Street pointing out every word. Her teacher told me she is actually reading See Spot Run. I am amazed at how fast she grows up. In addition, she knows all her months, days of the week, sings this little light of mine with motions, and can say "consequence"

6 My little sponge
My daughter picks up the darnest things. My babysitter comes over the other day. My daughter asks "who did you vote for?" babysitter laughs and says "I don't know if I should say". My daughter says: "Oh, then you must have voted for McCain." Where does she get this stuff? Oh yeah, from me! I love seeing myself thru her eyes. And I might add, I can be quiet funny and smart, accroding to her copycat phrasing. Anything I say, even if it is once, my daughter soaks it up and uses it within a few days, and uses it properly. One day, she passed a big dog and said "that dog is as big as a horse." My babysitter said, "Gee, that' s pretty big." My daughter says: "You know its' just an expression of speak." Hilarious. I wish I could carry (and have everyone else who comes in contact with her) a tape recorder. These things are classic.

7) Aminals on the loose
I love it when my daughter says words slightly incorrectly and I hate it when adults try and correct her. I used to do this to my best friend's little girl (who I now apologize to profusely) before I had kids. My daughter's classic words that I will forever cherish (just to name a few): aminal (Animal), hurted, wite (right?), posed so (suppose so), sketti (spaghetti). Her 1/2 English accent makes it all so much cuter.

That's it for now. Back to work. Busy week...

Would love to hear some of your stories? What words did your kids say when they were little?


Thursday, November 06, 2008

How to Plug Your Book

Plug Your Book - Online Book Marketing for Authors by Steve Weber

I just finished reading this book. It had great tips on how to market your book online!

A few tips I took:
  • Amazon has programs to help authors market their books - Connect (blogs to Amazon customers), adding Amazon friends to reach Top Reviewers, BXGY program - pairs your book with like books for a fee), Better together (free pairings based on sales)
  • Google Alerts - helps you find top keywords you specificy and alerts you of when somethign containing your key words appears in peridoicals. Also can tell you when someone mentions your blog.
  • Blogging - Create an angle/niche to blog about. Create a community. YOU can also do blog tours/interviews with other bloggers to promote your book
  • Book Trailers - vitlit.com, creates trailers, interviews. Or you can do it yourself and upload to Youtube.com
  • Titlez.com - you can see how your book sales compare to others
  • GoogleAdsense - best known web ad market
  • Public discussion groups - you can post information about our book in target markets/audiences
  • create great web sites - track your stats (statcounter or google analytics), Search engine optimization, keyword density
  • Press Releases - post on prweb.com or prnewswire.com
Here are a few posts about marketing and even querying I saw today:

http://pubrants.blogspot.com/ Nelson Agency intern gives some insight into business

http://acrowesnest.blogspot.com/ making media your BFF. Getting reviews

http://acrowesnest.blogspot.com/ the query wars

http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/ advice from Bookends authors on marketing

Tell me - what other suggestions do you have for marketing? Let me know and I will combine all the posts.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Happy Guy Fawks Day - November 5th

No bonfire party this year b/c hubby is in Finland. sniff sniff

So here is my online tribute!

Remember remember
the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

If you are curious, I won't bore you here....go here

Once again, it's great to be an American!!!

Holy Crapola - I am so proud of my country! It's so great to be an American. I must admit I too have disheartened and ashamed of alot that has gone on in the past few years. Not that I don't love my country - because I do.

But I have been extremely down on the direction we were headed.

I often found myself kinda jealous at my hubby's ability to proclaim himself from 3 possible countries: Scottish (b/c of his mom), English (because of his dad) and Welsch (for his birthplace).

I am a true American!

Yet, having a international influence and voice in my house, I understand the struggles our reputation has faced in the last few years. Finally, I feel like we are back on track.

I can be openly proud again - as I always was before this war started and we seemed ot get off track.

As Americans, as people, and as neighbors to the world, we have a voice and we have spoken, yelled really, so loud that all have to hear us.

We have come a long way as a country.

No longer will we tolerate war. No longer will we tolerate corruption.

No longer will we sit back and accept a country that does NOT stand for change and opportunity.

The outdated ideals of the past are over. The prejudice and oppression of our people is coming to an end.

And, the hope of a new future is finally here.

As Aaron Neville says to eloquently:

It's been along time comin' but I know that change gonna come - Oh yes it will!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAIBg80R-MY

It is a new day in America and a new day in the World.

This morning as I skimmed through the International News sites, one global source summed it up for me:

"They did it! They really did it! So often crudely caricatured by others, the American people yesterday stood in they eye of history and made an emphatic choice for change for themselves and the world."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Oh My Giddy Aunt!

(Beware: This post will only make sense to a few special people. :)

This election has me on the edge of my seat and has my daughter yelling English phrases that crack me up. The fact that I am blogging 2ce in one day shows that I am in desperate need of an outlet of nervous energy. I guess as a writer, I have to write!

Reenactment with 4.5 year old girl - When I came home from voting today

Her - "Mommy, did you vote?

Me - "Yup. Look I even got you a sticker."

Her - Cool. Did XXXXX win?"

Me - "No honey, we won't know until tonight."

Her (yelling very loud with a frown on her face) - "Oh my giddy aunt! What's taking so long?"

Now first, let me say that this exclamation made me miss my hubby. I am just not the same when he is not here. My balance is off. My heart is a little emptier and my family is not the same when he is gone. We just have a certain hum to life when he is around. sniff sniff

Secondly, how cute is it that my daughter has picked up his English phrases. She - at times - almost sounds more British than my hubby does (sorry honey :)

Thirdly, Cor Blimey! Could she have said it any better?

This election has been going on for what seems like a lifetime. I have never been involved in an election like this one. I have always voted. Though, I have not always been happy with my vote and pretty confident that my inlaws have been mortified as well.

(BTW just to get in a tidbit about marketing, we marketing people call regret - Cognitive Dissonance. Others call it buyers remorse. Personaly, I prefer the official phrase - it sounds better and I sound smarter. What's bad is that I love to slip it in a conversation whenever I can - which makes me - yup you guessed it - uncool as usual).

I certainly have NEVER followed elections in detail like this and I have NEVER followed since the primaries started. This time, I was there every step of the way.

And tonight, I realize: Gordon Bennett, I am exhausted! I can't imagine how the candidates feel. This has been a long 2 years. I could have given birth to 2 kids (technically) by now.

So today, my daughter summed it up perfectly - as usual. "Oh my giddy aunt! What's taking so long?"

So can we just get on with it already! Its like a great movie that would never end.

I have run the gamut on my finger nails. Chewed every piece of gum in the house. Now, I am on to a cool Sam Adams Winter lager.

I am on the edge of my seat - watching politics - and I am left with just feeling old. I remember my parents watching and discussing politics - zzzzzzzz Boring!

And here - the election is my thriller of the day! Crumbs!

Tootle pip!

Random Thoughts on My Secret Ballot

I found voting this morning fascinating and learned a few things during my voting process:

1) Why is voting so secretive? I found it quite funny in line that most people did not want to share who they voted for. Are we that divided and that judgemental? Are people afraid to admit who they voted for?

2) Why are people complaining about lines? I just told myself it is going to take 6 hrs and set up my schedule accordingly. People were coming up and asking how long the lines were...when they found out 1 hour. They left not wanting to wait! What? Did you really think you were going to vote in a historical election and not spend an hour? Is this process so unimportant that you could not put aside 1 hour in 4 years? We wait longer at Christmas for iphones and touch me Elmo than 1 hour. I found it interesting that people just take the process for granted.

3) Why is it that a moped is not sexy on a man? OK this is off the subject but when I was waiting to vote, a cute guy drove up on a white moped. Now, I am neither for nor against mopeds. To each his own, though it is definitely good for the environment. However, the moped just does not do the guy justice. I say get a motorcycle. His little helmet and his sparkly white though just didn't do him justice. I don't care how souped up he had (and he tried).

4) How I made history?- The great thing about this election is that no matter who you vote for - we're are making history today. That is very exciting. I feel good about the country moving in that direction that black men and women can be allowed to change the world.

5) How will I cope? I must say this is the first election where I feel so strongly about a candidate that I will be truly crushed if he does not win. I truly feel this is our shot to rebuild our name in the global community. Being married to a brit - I know how bad our reputation is in the world. This is our shot to change it. It is our time for change and to send a message to the world that we do not support where our government has taken us.

So stop reading my blog and GO VOTE!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Marketing Mondays - Market Like Self-Publisher

As everyone knows, self publishing has become a huge business.

I am not here to talk about self-publishing. But if you look at some successful self publishers, they sure do know how to market their books. They have to - no one does anything for them!

Did you know these authors were self published?
  • A Time to Kill by John Grisham when no one wanted to take a chance on a legal mystery. He sold his first work out of the trunk of his car.
  • Eragon by Christopher Paolini. He spent a year touring the country visiting libraries, bookstores and schools visits dressed in a medieval costume. http://www.alagaesia.com/index.php
  • The Questory of Root Karbunkulus by Kamilla Reid. She created a live action trailer on her web site and launched an interactive book tour including props, costumes, video, and power point. All on her own. http://www.rootkarbunkulus.com/
They didn't get lucky, they marketed very well. They did it through persistence, creativity, and the Internet

I think one of the biggest mistake authors make when attempting to market their books is being unprepared to create the buzz. I have found that many authors do not even have a Web site or blog . This blog goes over great techniques for online marketing http://onlinepromotionmadeeasy.blogspot.com/

A few tips on marketing (as if you were a self publisher):
  • Get reviews - besides the main stream periodicals like PW, Kirkus and Booklist, Try book Sense.
  • Create different campaigns to target different audiences - target ezines, web sites and key influencers in each.
  • Read the complete guide to internet publicity (www.patronsaintpr.com).
  • Join LMP - they have a complete list of book clubs and contact people.
  • Hook up with charities.
  • Set up school bookings - try schoolbookings.com or authorandexperts.com
  • Conferences/speaking engagements - what can you book teach/offer people
These are just a few ideas. For more read The Well Fed Self Publisher by Peter Bowerman. http://www.wellfedsp.com/

Would love to hear of other creative ideas!

Also - I saw an interview on The SWIVET today talking about social networking and self promotion. http://theswivet.blogspot.com/

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Have Some Marketing Sense

It just hit me this week that most authors either DON't, WON'T OR CAN'T market their books.

After going to so many book signings, so many conferences, and so many author events/signings.

Most authors do not know how to market their stuff! And they wonder - why they aren't selling any.

If I see one more rectangular bookmarker or one more boring white business card with a name in black writing - times new roman font - I think I am going to scream.

Let's be creative! After all, you are creative so use it.

Therefore, I've decided to drevamp my blog a bit and center more entries on Marketing. I mean after all - no one really wants to hear about my kids or daily issues - though I am sure they'll still pop up.

How does anyone expect to sell a book just through handing out bookmarkers at school visits.

People - there is so much more to marketing than that! There is more than Borders signings, more than school speeches and more than a web site.

I get the same questions everywhere - "do you need to do marketing on the internet?"

I've said it once and I'll certainly repeat it about 100 more times. YES, YES, YES!!!

YOU MUST GET AN ONLINE PRESENCE - how you do that is up to you and what you feel comfortable with.

Yes, that means a web site
Yes, that means a blog and joining a community of bloggers
Yes, that means social networking: facebook, jacketflap, twitter, myspace, blog tours.

In this day and age - you will not skim the surface of marketing if you do not include emarketing/online marketing/internet marketing. Whatever you want to call it. Get online.

Here is my advice
If you don't know how, learn it
If you have something crappy, please make it better
If you hate doing marketing, who cares or don't do it if you don't care about selling books
If you think your publisher will do it for you, you're wrong and in la la land
If you think you don't need marketing b/c your book is great all on its own, wake up
If you don't have time, turn off the tv and make some
If you have a question, ask me.

The last thing I have to say is please please if and when you do marketing. Make a few pieces great. Stop with the chincy stuff. Your marketing represents you. Do you want to look like a second rate author that does not have enough pride in their work to invest in quality items?

You can do great things with very little.

So for goodness sakes, go market yourself!