3 S.R. Johannes: March 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Marvelous Marketer: Alice Pope (Author, Children's Writers & Illustrator's Market)

Hi Alice, Thank you for joining us today.
Before I ask you to talk about your
marketing strategies, tell me a little about yourself.

I’m managing editor of Writer’s Digest (WD) Market Books and have been with Writer’s Digest Books for 17 years. I am also the long-time editor of the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market (CWIM).

Do you/your agency/your house have a website/blog?
When did you start it and who manages it?

There are a number of blogs run by individual editors here at WD. My blog focuses on children’s publishing topics. I’ve been blogging since August of 2006. I kicked it off by reporting on the 2006 LA SCBWI conference. In fact, this summer, I am excited to be heading up a team of bloggers who will be blogging about the event.

In your opinion, how important is social networking such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.

I think it’s extremely important for authors to use these networking tools. If they add in a blog and a website, even better. These social networking platforms don’t cost anything but time and they give authors more ways to connect with their audience and potential readers.

With the publishing climate today and the bad economy, publishers can only do a bare minimum in most cases when it comes to marketing and promotion. Authors would be foolish to not create Facebook page at the very least and be proactive with it (send friends requests, update status, comment on other people’s pages, send notices and event invitations, etc.)

Do you feel it is beneficial for authors to team up and promote books as a group? And if so, why?

I am all for strength-in-numbers marketing. The “Class of” collective marketing groups are a great examples (ie: the Class of 2k9) of how to pool resources and talents for a common goal—to promote their group of upcoming titles to booksellers, librarians and teachers.

ReaderGirlz is another great example but with a different approach. They are not a collective marketing group per se--they promote the work of many authors and promote reading. But at the same time they’re raising their own profiles and have a built-in platform for their own titles when appropriate.

It’s a win-win.

Do you have a formal marketing plan or is your marketing more random? What creative things have you done to promote your book?

In terms of CWIM and our nine other market books, they’ve been around for many years and do well year after year so our sales team can usually get them on display in the big chains. As a whole my company is now moving to more of an ecommerce focus--we do more email and online advertising these days than, say, sending out review copies.

Over the years I’ve taken a grass-roots approach. I send free books to many regional SCBWI conferences each year to be given away as door prizes. I think this is a great way to get the book in front of its audience and do something nice for these regions at the same time. I also send a free copy of CWIM to all the SCBWI Regional Advisors around the world each year after the book is published. I feel like it’s a nice perk for the RAs who are hard-working volunteers and in turn I hope they let their local members know that a new edition is available.

And I suppose my blog, my Facebook page, and my Twitter are part of this picture as well. CWIM comes out once a year (in August), but readers can check in with me anytime through these outlets where I can give them news, report from conferences, and get personal with them.

Hopefully they’ll like me and like my book!

Thank you for joining us today, Alice.

Thanks, Shelli!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunny Sunday - A dash of hope

Another kickoff into Monday's Perk Project! (check out Suzanne Young's blog and Robin Mellom's blog for more perky posts tomorrow!)

Today my thoughts are on healing, hope and thanks.

Even now, at 5:00 am, I am thinking of healing.

As most of you know, I have had vertigo for the last several months. Though I am getting better, I am still not me. But feeling my body heal from whatever caused it is such a relief.

I never thought about my body until these last few months. Except for the time I was Prego. Oh yeah - and then of course - as I have symptoms of the Post-Prego body blues. But I never thought about everything my body did and how much I took it for granted.

We can't trade in our bodies like an old pair of jeans, or a leased car, or a new computer. For us, there is no replacement. We also don't realize that doctors cannot fix everything. They do their best to treat symptoms, but sometimes they never really get to the problem. They can only do so much. I never knew that.

What's worse - is that sometimes they don't have the solution. Or don't know the right one for you.

Sometimes we have to find it ourselves from the inside out. We have to pray. We have to hope for something more. Hope for healing.

Now this post is not even really about me - though I can relate with the feelings of hope and healing.

This post is for my hubby.

20 years old, my husband had a back injury in a rugby game that never really healed. When I first met him 9 years ago, he had back problems but was still able to climb, swim, and fly-fish. He was also in little amounts of pain at times. Chronic pain. Pain that never fully went away.

During the time my daughter was a baby, my hubby's back worsened. I don't know if it was age or if picking up my daughter aggravated the injury. Or if his back just gave up.

Whatever it was , he was hurting. So of course, we all were hurting for him.

About 2 years ago, his back got so bad, he could not feel his left leg anymore. He gave up climbing, he gave up flyfishing. He could not even play with our daughter. The minute he got home, he laid down. At 36, he was unable to do anything he loved. His back "went out" several times, leaving us sad, frustrated and scared. He was in and out of Emory's Spinal Clinic and after many consultations and MRIs, he was told his only option was a spinal fusion which is only about 60-70% effective. Yes, it shocked me too. Some people actually go through the surgery and still are not better. Still are not healed.

My hubby didn't think the spinal fusion was the right answer for him. Even though it MIGHT work, he wanted something more and he deserved it. So he made a choice to continue suffering. For another 6 months he suffered. He tried not to complain, but I could see it in his face at times. he tried to help around the house, but it was hard for him. he tried to participate in activities, but it always hurt. He became a master at living with pain. He started researching online and applied to FDA studies but with no assurance of lessened pain. Then, one day, he found a surgery in Germany with a 95% effective rate. He sent his films over and he was approved as a "double-disk replacement" candidate. (Yes he speaks German :)

Great right?

Wrong. The surgery cost $50,000 and of course, our insurance would not cover it. Even though it was cheaper than a spinal fusion. ( my issues with the monetary goals of our health care system are a whole other blog)

Well obviously, we didn't have that spare change lying around so he opted to wait, hoping the FDA would approve something more, something better. So he waited some more.

And of course, his pain got even worse.

Until one day, I walked in and found him broken down, crying. Something I'd never seen before, He was in so much pain and at the end of his rope.

It broke my heart.

To make a long story short, we cashed in our investments and booked him into the program immediately. It was scheduled within just a few weeks. Our thought?What good is money down the road if you are incapacitated? All you need is love and health. Unfortunately at the time, my son was barely 6 months old and was also having a hard health time in addition to some childcare logistical issues.

Because the process was 6 weeks.

So at the last minute, we made a decision for me to stay here with the kids and have his mother fly from Wales to b with him.

For 6 long weeks.

And we all suffered.

I had to be here alone, taking care of 2 kids, one who was very sick. Most importantly, I could not be with and support my hubby during his scary, yet exciting/hopeful time.

My daughter had to be without her daddy.

But of course, my hubby had it worse. He had to go through this life-changing event without me, without his family by his side. He had to endure major back surgery where they went in through his abdomen, sever muscles, stretch his spine, remove two disks, and insert prosthetic ones. (he came about 2 inches taller!)

The process and the recovery has been a long one.

But today, it all paid off.

Because my hubby got up at 5am to run in his first marathon. 15 miles. Painfree.

So today I am so thankful.

Thankful we had the financial means - though we are still recovering today - to give my hubby his life back, to give our kids their dad, and to give him his passions back. Thankful to all the doctors who took care of him and gave him hope. Thankful to our friends & families in supporting us during the difficult time. Thankful to our kids for being patient and without their dad for that long. Thankful to his work for giving him the leave time and reassurance his job would be here when he got back. Thankful to all medical miracles that went in to creating this option for him to be whole again.

Most importantly, I am thankful that my hubby fought to get his life back. The life he deserves. The life he dreamed of. Thankful he pushed through the impossibly times and stayed hopeful.

He never gave up. But more importantly, he never gave in.

He persevered.

And I love him even more for it.

So here's to healing yourself, staying hopeful, and giving thanks for what you have.

Because it is all so precious and fragile.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday's Marketing Round up

Comment Your Butt off update

As of this morning - just since March 1st!

  • 2,748Unique visitors
  • 81 people!

Only 5 days left! Don't forget to email me your extra credit by Tuesday night (listed on the left side).

Also - thanks so much to those of you who have downloaded/commented on Amazon Idol. Even if you download, it helps my ranking.

As of this morning, I was ranked #63 out of 500 in the Quarter Finals. You can go and read the first 3 chapters of my YA Suspense, Grace Under Fire here.

Don't forget, Alice Pope (Editor and Author of Children's Writers & Illustrators Market) will be our gurst interviewee on Monday!

Friday's Marketing Round up

Starting a Blog in a meaningful way - Here are the most common goals associated with blogs started by writers seeking publication.

10 Ways to promote your book - There are a number of things that the author can do that will really help so make the move from writing to marketing and take these actions

Top 5 reasons to have a web site - Now, consumers are going online at a much higher percentage. YOu may need to revisit your online strategy.

Blog, tweet update, *sigh* - There's a lot of chatter these days about the sales potential of the internet's social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In or Ning.

Video with Ron Hogan from galley Cat discussing web publicity & online marketing.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"What the Tarnations?" Thursday

Cool & Crazy Marketing
People do some really creative things to market their books. Check out what this author did to turn some heads while he was on a book tour. Hopefully it sold some books.

"What the Tarnations is goin' on?" Thursday

These are so crazy - the title will say it all. have fun!

Fish eats phone and it still works (this is just disgusting. I mean ATT gives phones away for free now. Do we need to use this one? Sounds fishy to me :)

Thief targets valuable roof materials via Google Earth (really? would I not hear them clomping on my roof ripping off shingles? Makes me so mad, it sends me through the roof.)

Toilet heated to stop buttock freezing (is this an issue? Is there a market for this? Port-o-potties could use them.)

Sarcasm diagnoses dementia (Oh let me put that on my list of docs to see. A sarcasmologist? Guilty as charged.)

Dog Poo DNA test - (really? we don't have anything better to worry about. This stinks.)

Chimp writes memoir Oh great! I'll just go jump off a bridge now (a low one b/c im scared of heights.) Do I have to be a monkey's uncle to get a book published? I'm gonna end on this note. I need to stop monkeying around and get back to my book.

Tommorrow: Round up and Contest update!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 5 - Tips for Book Tours

30 Days to Marketing

    OK so a month ago - I said I was going to do 30 days to marketing - covering different topics. I got side-tracked with the Comment Contest and some health hurdles.So I am back with Day 5!Here are the first 4 days if you want to review them.

    • Day 1: Build Your Author Brand/Platform
    • Day 2: Analyze Your Audience
    • Day 3: Think about Your Online Presence
    • Day 4: EZ Web Sites

    Day 5: Tips for Book Tours

    1. Put your money where your book is? - how much is your publisher going to spend (if anything) and what can you spend. This should all be part of your marketing strategy.

    2. Where are you going to go? Is this a regional tour or national. If regional, plan out your trip - is a car cheaper vs a plane. If it is national - stick to larger cities - NY, LA, Chicago, San, Fran etc

    3. Who are you going to visit? Make a list of venues. You don't have to just focus on bookstores. You may want to focus on Libraries, Schools, Indies, Large stores, or maybe even art galleries.It all depends on your book. Pick the right market.

    4. Find the right partners. Look for events or authors or other artists to pair up with. This can increase the traffic/attendance and help you sell more books.

    5. Get the word out. Never leave advertising to the venue. Find out what they will do and do more yourself. Call the local paper to see if you can get a story or contact the local radio station for an interview.

    6. Don't forget to use your network. Make sure your friends in other cities know about your book. See if they have any local contacts at schools, bookstores, etc

    7. Seek out organizations. What about calling your college alumni contact or your sorority/fraternity? What about other organizations are you apart of?

    8. Prepare something. At any signing, you should try and find a way to connect to your audience. Read an excerpt and take questions. Talk about the craft of writing or tell your story. People are more apt to buy your book if they connect to you.
    9. Be polite. Always follow up with venue organizer to thank them for assisting you. Give them a small token so they remember you. A table topper for their counter with your book on it. Pens. book bag etc.

    Coming up in the series: Blog Tours and Virtual Tours

    Feel free to email me with marketing topics you are interested in hearing about.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    AAAAH - It's Baaaaaaaaccckkkk!

    Marketing Muse

    Authors can now create a video representation of their book, to show their market exactly what they are buying, before they buy. Book trailers are still few and far between, but their popularity is growing. In short order, everyone who writes a book will be creating a book trailer. Here are a couple of introductory articles: how to make your own Book trailer and the elements of a successful Book trailers

    AAAAH - It's Baaaaaaaaccckkkk!

    For those of you who do not know, basically my computer died last month taking all my files and emails with it. "Lucifer" was laid to rest in cyber hell.

    If you are dying to know what happened, read my past posts:



    Well, now Lucifer is back!

    Yes, you got it. My computer will not die. It has been revived.

    Just to taunt me. Just to rub it in my face.

    Don't ask me how.

    Evidently, I bought the extended warranty when I got Lucifer (like I knew he would be a pain in my hard drive. So Best Buys had to either fix it or replace it.

    I was thinking "Surely they will replace it. I mean the thing was smoking and making cranking noises!"

    But no!

    They replaced the motherboard and harddrive and returned it to me. Lapskin and all.

    "Great!" you say?

    No, because I still lost everything! Nothing was recovered.

    Now Lucifer is back to haunt me and Munster (my 10 year old computer) is tired people and I refuse to buy another computer until I get an agent or book deal!

    I hate that I need Lucifer. I hate that I can't let a bad thing go. he isn't good for me - I know - but he's all I have.

    For now, it's time to suck it up. To kiss Lucifer's hard drive until I don't need him any longer.

    Someday, I will get a new computer and spend more quality time (not quantity time) with it so we can be happy together making books.

    Someday, I will do the Happy Computer Dance.

    Monday, March 23, 2009

    Marvelous Marketer: Harold Underdown (Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books)

    Note: Alice Pope has been rescheduled for
    next Monday! Be sure to come back and join us.

    Today we have Harold Underdown, Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books

    Hi Harold, before we pick your brain for your marketing wisdom, tell me a little about yourself.

    I'm a children's book editor. At present, I work freelance and in educational publishing. I've worked as an in-house publisher for such publishers as Orchard and Charlesbridge, and hope to again, perhaps when the economy improves!

    I am also the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books.

    From a teaching side, I'm about to start teaching the third session of a children's book revision class with Eileen Robinson--information at http://www.kidsbookrevisions.com

    Do you/your agency/your house have a website/blog ? When did you start it and who manages it ?

    I started a web site, The Purple Crayon, in1996 and still manage it myself. I provide a variety of information on children's publishing, and speak and give workshops at conferences.

    In your opinion , what are the top 3 things every author should and must do to promote their book ? (web sites, blogs, tours etc)

    I don't think there are just three things that every author should and must do to promote their book, because different books need to be promoted in different ways!

    My book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, has a niche audience, for example. What I've done to promote it is not what I would have done if I had written a picture book, and what I would have done for a PB is different from what I would have done if I had written a young adult novel.

    But for all types of books, I do believe that there a few fundamental principles that should be kept in mind. You need to know your audience (or at least have a guess as to who your audience is), and then you need to figure out how you can most efficiently reach them. This is complicated for authors of children's books, since many aren't purchased by children, and since their audience is national but limited.

    For my book, I had a clear niche market to reach, and it was one I knew pretty well already, since when I was signed up to do the first edition of my book I already had been working as an editor for several years, had my web site, and had years of conference speaking under my belt. (I had a "platform," in the current language, which I suspect was one reason the publisher approached me to do the book in the first place).

    I have had limited time to promote my book and so I have made sure I focused on the best ways to reach my audience of aspiring writers and illustrators (and many published authors and illustrators too, but of course that's a smaller group).

    For my book, my top 3 were:

    • To get reviews in writer's magazines and web sites. My publisher sent out some review copies and I've done some work on my own, down to making sure that there were reviews on Amazon.
    • To speak at conferences, mostly organized by SCBWI. From early 2008 to the end of 2009, I will have been to 8 weekend conferences and 2 retreats, not only to promote the book, but I made sure that I did at all of them.
    • And to utilize the web by having sample materials and blurbs on my web site as well as taking part in online discussion groups.
    In your opinion, how important is social networking ? Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, GoodReads etc.

    This really depends on the book. For some books it can make a huge difference. For most books, it doesn't.

    However, if your audience uses social networking heavily, this is an area to look at, but carefully--authors should keep in mind the principle of efficiency. It's possible to put a lot of time into social networking and have little in the way of results to show for it.

    As an Editor, when you were evaluating whether to take on an author or book, did you ever Google them to see if they already had a web presence or platform ?

    I didn't do this when I was at Charlesbridge, my most recent in-house job. I might do this today, though it would depend on the type of book. I doubt that I would for picture books or most kinds of fiction, for example. I might for YA or nonfiction for bookstores.

    Having a platform is still a relatively new concept in children's books. Being able to support one's backlist through school visits and other ways of connecting with one's audience (such as a web site) are more common.

    In your experience as as Editor, what things do Publishers offer in contracts in terms of Marketing ? What does the average author receive or is it different, depending on the book ?

    Publishers put as little as possible into the contract about marketing. There are certainly things that one can expect--being in the catalog, review copies being sent out, etc.--but unless one has considerable pull they won't be in the contract.

    Did you think about marketing before your book was published ? Did you start prior to getting an agent or selling your book ? If so, when and what did you do ?

    I thought about marketing before my book was published, but not before it was signed up, simply because I was solicited to write it, as I mentioned above. But I did have ideas in mind from the time I started writing--thought I don't think that his is necessary for all writers. Some books can be effectively and efficiently promoted by their authors, while others can't. Some authors aren't good promoters. There are times when writing is a better use of your time, and writers shouldn't feel guilty about that.

    Now, if you could put on your author hat. For your book, do you have a formal marketing plan or is your marketing more random ? If not, why ? Would you like to ?

    My plan wasn't written down, but I did have a pretty good idea of it all along. If I had had more time, I might have written up a plan, but I don't feel that the lack of a written plan has been a problem.

    And lastly, what creative things have you done to promote a book?

    I haven't been creative! I've done the obvious things and I've tried to do them well.

    Thank you Harold for your time and knowledge!

    Thanks Shelli!

    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    Sunny Sunday - Planting Seeds for Spring.

    Comment Your Butt Off Contest Update

    Oops I forgot to do this Friday. :)

    As of today - days into the contest, you guys are doing fabulous! Just from March 1 - March 22:
    • 2,334 Unique visitors
    • 76 people!
    Only 9 days left!
    Thanks so much to those of you who have commented on Amazon Idol and sent me offline emails. I really appreciate the support! Publisher's Weekly will read each of the 500 Quarterfinalists and write a review (this scares me) by April 15th. Then Penguin chooses 100 people chosen for Semi-finals.
    If you would like to read my first 17 pages, click the Amazon link in upper right hand corner. You will need an Amazon account to download the chapters and comment. (of course!)

    A Perk Project: Planting Seeds for Spring.
    My contribution to Monday's Perk Project! (check out Suzanne Young's blog and Robin Mellom's blog for more perky posts tomorrow!)

    Everyday we plant seeds in our garden of life.

    Planting seeds is a verb, it is an action that requires proactivity, but it is also an easy way to expend a small effort in the hopes of a huge impact.

    We plant seeds every day - what we do, people we meet, decisions we make - and often don't realize that's what we're doing.

    Life is a lot like a great garden. If you don't plant seeds you are not going to get anything but dirt.And if you stop planting seeds, eventually your seasonal flowers will die and be replaced by nothingness.

    Planting seeds can be as simple as choosing to do things different, or as complex as going out and meeting people, starting a company, or networking a group of people. You can plant good seeds and bad seeds. If you're rude to someone, you plant a bad seed that may later sprout something negative. If you plant a good seed, you can make a positive impact that may in return rain positivity on you.

    Then, there are seeds that just blow your way and landing your garden. maybe brought by a bee or a butterfly. Then one day, something blooms and you are surprised at what you get. You don't know quiet how it got there but you don't care. It's with you and it came to you by some force of nature.

    That's my nudge to you.

    As I make Agent's 001 revisions on my book, I realize I planted seeds years ago that are just starting to bloom. I also realize I plant seeds everyday with the hopes that they grow. But I also try to send out some seeds to all of you with the hopes they grow for you in a special way.

    That is why I started this blog and contest - to plant a positive seed that would impact people in a positive way.

    So today, plant a seed in your life. Carry those seed sin your pocket and randomly drop them for you never know how they will grow or where. For some grow in the strangest of places, where you least expect.

    Drop a seed in your writing.

    Drop a seed in your story.

    Throw a seed into the wind and wonder where it lands.

    Someday it will grow, someday it will bloom, and someday it will become something.

    For you or someone else.

    Visit tomorrow - our Marvelous Marketers is Alice Pope, author of Children's Writer's & Illustrators Market!

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    Friday's Marketing Round up!

    Here it is the weekly round up of my top posts on PR or marketing.

    Also feel free to read through some of my past posts by clicking on the tag "marketing" or "interviews" to learn more about marketing your books or yourself.

    Have a great weekend.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    My Lucky Unlucky Charms!

    Marketing Muse
    The other day, Sarah Davies from Greenhouse mentioned it was critical for every author to be sure they learn to speak well. The way you speak and present yourself in public is part of your brand. Are you funny? Engaging? How do you look? It is all a part of the brand image you are building.

    For example: for me when I speak, I try to be organized in though but flexible, informative but engaging, funny, yet relaxed. I usually wear jeans when I speak - not trashy ones but I don't wear a suit or business attire. I want to be approachable. That is all a part of my brand.

    Here are a few resources to begin learning speaking skills. Everyone can get a head start.
    • Toastmasters- International organization to help people overcome public speaking fears and speak more effectively.
    • SpeechSkills - help you achieve the impact you want to have on your audience.
    • SpeechMastery
    Tips to to speaking well:
    • Be passionate.
    • Be enthusiastic.
    • Be natural.
    • Let your body language and/or voice reflect your personality.
    • Be there to genuinely teach the audience something
    • Dress well

    My Unlucky Charms

    Yesterday, I definitely had a lucky day.

    After getting a lucky email on being a Quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel award (which BTW I am so glad it is not called the "This is a good read" award. Sounds much more dramatic with Breakthrough Novel! :)

    All day, I celebrated how lucky I was to have my life, my family, and my friends.

    Then, being the pessimist and sarcastic gal that I am, I started thinking of all the unlucky things that have happened to me that turned out to be lucky.

    Here are just a few:

    Should your proportions be small?
    • Unlucky - When I was 3 - 12, I was a competing gymnast which made my shoulders develop to be quiet broad.
    • Lucky - But now, no matter how big my mid-section gets, my waist always looks thin b/c my shoulders are so broad!

    Out on the Streets

    • Unlucky - When I was about 10ish. I got dragged by a dog when I started my own dog-walking gig for the ONE dog that lived on our street. It was a huge sheepdog and I got dragged down the street on my face. A scab on my lip made me look like Hitler - at least that is what the kids said in my class.
    • Lucky - Now I know not to wrap my hand up in a leash and not to buy a sheep dog. Also I vowed to never be a dog walker.

    Moons should probably stay in the sky

    • Unlucky - When I was about 11 and went to horse camp, I mooned a car. It so happened to be the camp director.
    • Lucky - I learned how to deep clean a horse stall and did not become a stripper due to the total humiliation.

    Clean-up on aisle 9

    • Unlucky - When I was 15 my dad made me work at the local Kroger to make my own money. Kids laughed at me as I bagged groceries for their moms.
    • Lucky - Today, I am very aware of the changes in grocery prices. And I always let the person at the end bag my groceries so they feel included and useful.

    Vans are all that!

    • Unlucky - my dad made me drive his huge Chevrolet Van as my first car. It was blue and white and had an airbrushed sign from Panama City, FL that said, USS Johannes.
    • Lucky - Lots of lessons here. 1) all the cheerleaders could fit in my car. 2) When I hit a mailbox, there were no dents (at least not in my car. Mailbox? Not so lucky.), and 3) I am a dang good parallel parker today because of it. Oh yeah - and I learned that being cool - is all in the attitude.

    Don't drink and cheer.

    • Unlucky - When I was a senior in high school, I along with a few other cheerleaders each drank one beer before a game and....of course...got caught. How were we caught you ask? To make a long story short - I was the only one who told the truth in the Principal's office. We were suspended for 3 days and kicked off the squad right before Homecoming. Total despair at the time.
    • Lucky - Now I realize, honesty is not always the best policy but all you have in life is your intergrity:) Ok so that was a canned answer. I realized that one beer was not worth it - I should have gone for 6. Oh yeah, I also learned not to drink and cheer.

    A broken heart

    • Unlucky - after 10 years and living with my colleg sweetheart who also happend to be my crush in 6th grade - the guy (who we can call - "Mr Jerky Pants" for fun) - called off the wedding 2 weeks before the date (and yes that was after after all the bridal showers had happened, all my money was put down, and the gifts received/open and some even used....by him! Can I get a collective groan from the peanut gallery?)
    • Lucky - I met my husband 9 months later and am the luckiest wifey in the world (trust me he has it made too ;)

    A job is not everything

    • Unlucky - When I worked as a VP at a bank, I lost my job due to a weasel attack during a political windstorm.
    • Lucky - I decided I wanted to be a writer and started my own marketing biz. More importantly, I now do what I love....write and write and write.

    See how that all works out?

    So celebrate your unluckiness - if you study it hard enough - you may just find your great luck!

    Thanks for all your congrads on my day yesterday!

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Quarterfinalist in Amazon Breakthrough Novel!

    When you get on Amazon - you've made it to the big time - RIGHT???

    Holy crap guys!

    I made it to the Quarterfinals at the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award!!!

    You can go here and read my first chapter. They posted it (copyright me of course). It is so weird to see it online.

    Please comment! I'll give you 10 extra points if you read it and comment on it!! Id love your feedback.

    Publisher's Weekly is the next round.

    The first round was decided by Sue Grafton (OMG I love here!) and Sue Monk Kidd.

    They chose the top 500 out of 10,000 entries!!

    I am 1 out of 78 in the Thriller/Suspense Category.

    You'd think I'd won the lottery. Or got an agent. Or a 4 book deal! ;)

    Right now, I get to use the little symbol and add it to a resume. But hey, I'll take it. It is one more confirmation for me that I am on the right track.

    Only 499 to go! :)

    My hands are shaking.

    Be a Comment Chameleon!

    Marketing Muse: Book Trailers
    Here is a great interview with Sheila Clover English of COS Productions giving you some information on how Book Trailers Offer Excellent Branding Opportunity. Thanks to a blogger for suggesting this as a hot topic. More to come on this topic this week.

    Be a Comment Chameleon!
    We are 1/2 way into the contest! But it is not too late for you to enter. I've added an extra prize!
    • Unique Visitors since the blog started in Nov 2008 - over 7,000!
    • Unique Visitors (from March 1-March31) - 1,726 (547 returning ones)
    • # of Comments since March 1st - 814!
    Rule clarification:

    • Starting today, you will only get a point if there is at least 1 comment between your multiple comments. You may no longer comment several times in a row on the same post just seconds/minutes apart. This also gives you the chance to comment on other people's comments which is always helpful.

    • Again, YES you CAN comment on past posts.

    • Don't forget the Bonus Points but remember you HAVE to email me on the bonus points. I cant keep searching to see who has done what. You need to let me know.

    • The comments must be related to the post. hey cannot be random. If you have a comment on a past post - you need to put it on that post.

    New news!

    I am adding a prize.

    I want to make this contest fun and worthwhile to everyone, including the people just finding out about us. The new people who are just joining us are pretty much out of the race unless something changes, which I did not consider in the beginning. The purpose of having this contest was to meet others and get some great dialogue going and to reward people for coming and participating.

    So the prizes:

    1) The person with most comments will still get the free web site! I already promised that. Right now, a few are neck in neck so keep it up. Remember - you need to have time and comments from others in between your comments. If i do this contest again, this process will change but for this contest, I have to stick to the original promise. If the winner already has a web site, they can opt for a different prize and give the web site to the drawing. I would recommend this if you really don't need it.

    2) I am adding a prize for others. To everyone else who posted comments during the Month of March gets to put their name in a hat, you will get a shot at a random drawing for another marketing prize. I don't know what it will be yet. I have not figured it out yet but trust me - you will like it!!!! It will either be a business card design, a blog design, or some marketing consulting.

    • The winner is excluded in this drawing!
    • You get one point for every comment as well as your points for the bonus pieces.
    • I will add up your score and put your name in the hat that many times. So if you have 100 points, you get your name in the hat 100 times. If you have 5 points, you get your name in the hat 5 times.
    • My hubby will draw out a name and that person wins the Sur-Prize! (trust me he is as honest as they come :) (psst he also speaks with an English accent that makes him sound polite and intelligent too so I just want to hear him say who won out loud :)

    This way some people who are just joining us will still have a shot if they comment. But the ones who are already working hard will have a much higher chance.

    Have Fun and remember to Comment responsibly :)

    Oh yeah and please - Don't comment and drive!!!

    Oh yeah - one more thing - Don't you think Boy George's song could be my contest theme song?

    Comment Chameleon.

    What?! It's Karma Chameleon? You mean I've been singing the wrong words this whole time! Fudge!

    "Comment Comment Comment Comment Comment, Chameleon!!!!!

    You comment, go! You comment, Go!

    Lovin' you would be easy if you comment and light my dreams.

    Those golden dreams. A blogger's dreams."

    *cricket cricket* Hello - is this thing on??!

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Marvelous Marketer - Sarah Davies (Greenhouse Literary)

    Hi Sarah. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today!

    Before you share your brilliant marketing tips with us, can you tell us a little about yourself and your agency?

    Greenhouse Literary officially launched on January 24, 2008 – simultaneously in the USA and UK. I came to the States from London in October 2007, both to start the business and to get married. The commercial side and the romantic side were highly interwoven for me!

    As far as my background, I worked as a publisher from the moment I left college at 22 until the day I walked out of Macmillan in July 2007, leaving me with a career that spanned over 25+ years, primarily in Children’s Books. I started out working for Collins (before it became Harper) and moved onto Transworld (Random House).

    Then, I spent 13 years at Macmillan Children’s Books where I worked my way up from Fiction Editor to Publishing Director over the entire children’s list. That list comprised of 200 titles per year, ranging from preschool novelty books up to sophisticated teenage fiction under the Picador imprint.

    Greenhouse Literary is very international. Our authors are a mix of Americans and Brits. We are particularly strong in foreign rights, thanks to our sister company, Rights People. I have just appointed a new agent in London, Julia Churchill, who will further build our list of British authors. This will allow me to focus on the USA, which is great, as the American side of Greenhouse gets more busy and more demanding.

    We have many books coming out in the USA starting this year:

    • THE DEVIL’S KISS by Sarwat Chadda (Hyperion, Fall 2009);
    • THE OTHER SIDE OF BLUE by Valerie Patterson (Clarion, Fall 2009);
    • PRINCESS FOR HIRE by Lindsey Leavitt (Hyperion, Spring 2010);
    • TREASURE IN THE PAST TENSE by Teresa Harris (Clarion, Spring 2010);
    • OF ALL THE STUPID THINGS by Alexandra Diaz (Egmont USA, Spring 2010),
    • ONE SHINY SILVER KEY by Tami Lewis Brown (Fall, 2010).
    Do you/your agency have a website/blog? When did you start it and who manages it?

    I believe our web site, http://www.greenhouseliterary.com/ has played a crucial part in the first-year of Greenhouse's success. I always felt that would be the case, which is why we took so much care in designing it. Our website was developed by a company in London called Clicked. I manage all the content, in conjunction with my wonderful designer/rescuer, Rowan. Basically, this means I call him and moan, ‘Heeeeelp!’

    Even more crucial than the web site was choosing the agency name, Greenhouse Literary. I had been brainstorming and scribbling down words for some time, trying to find the perfect name for the concept I had so clearly in mind. I wanted to create an agency that would nurture writers, work with them editorially, and ground them so they could grow. A place where writers could walk in and thrive. So when the name "Greenhouse" popped into my head, I knew - in that blinding, light-bulb moment - I had finally found the identity and brand of the business.

    Once we had the "Greenhouse" name, everything else just fell into place – our logo (the leaf), our tagline (where writers grow), and our core belief. The whole concept perfectly expressed everything I wanted to say – before I ever opened my mouth.

    Now, that’s a great platform!

    The site launched at about the same time as the agency and immediately started getting page hits. I also started my blog on the site to give readers a way into the site and the agency, which gave the agency a human face. I wanted people to feel like they knew me and could follow me on my exciting journey to create the agency from scratch.

    I do blog about the industry, but I also write creatively at times – about my feelings and my experiences. Apart from the fact that I love to write, I also want people to know that I’m not just an observer of the craft. As all writers, I know what it means to chip and chisel away at words, struggling to get each one perfect.

    When I was a publisher, we constantly talked about ‘branding’. Every survey ever taken has shown that readers have virtually no loyalty to a publisher's brand (eg, Penguin, HarperCollins etc) or any imprint.

    Their loyalties are solely to an author.

    Therefore, every author is their own brand. Just as every agent/agency is a brand too.

    We all have to think how we put that brand across to those who are potentially interested in us.

    In your opinion , what do you feel are the top 3 things every author should do to promote their book?

    Hmm, tricky – because every book is different and there are so many variables. For example: how does it fit into the market? what age group is it for? what format? where has the publisher positioned it on their list Is it Mega-lead title? Lesser lead title? Or a Take-a-risk-and-see-what-happens?

    It is a fact that publishers make 90% of their revenues off of 10% of their titles (yes, I know, that’s a shock!). So, is your book one of the 10% or one of the 90%? That answer is not always clear from the outset, but there will be a set of forecast figures in the sales budget and those will determine the sum your publisher will have allocated to marketing/publicity.

    A book will usually be either marketing/publicity-driven or review-driven. In other words, a highly commercial tween series will (and should be) treated completely different vs. a high-end literary novel where the most effective promoter may be a slew of starred reviews rather than grabby online promotion or kid-friendly giveaways.

    So first before you start marketing, I’d always suggest having a thoughtful conversation with your agent/editor/publicity manager so all the cards can be laid out on the table. This is where expectations and realities should be aired and discussed and ironed out.

    I think an agent is very important in this conversation. On one hand, it is an agent’s job to fight for their author. Yet, on the other hand, I think there are times when an agent has to manage their author's expectations. There will never be limitless funds available to promote every book in the way every author hopes (there is probably a finite overall budget for the whole list and whole year, laid down in advance, to be sliced up by the marketing director). Tough choices have to be made, and that can be painful for authors who have worked so hard to get published and then discover the promotional support is short of what they hoped and anticipated.

    So, discuss what your publisher can and can’t do for you. And then perhaps move on to what YOU can do to help your own book. And in this area, your publisher is best placed to advise you.

    As far as a few things an author can do:

    1) I personally think a website is great if, and only if, it is a real advertisement for you and your work – ie, contemporary, enticing, and highly relevant for your target market. A scrappy, tired, and dated-looking site isn’t going to be a great promotional tool, so take care when you build one. It’s worth looking the sites of other authors you admire and figure out why you like them, before you embark on building your own.

    2) Blogs are a dime a dozen these days, but worth considering if you are writing for highly literate teens who may be interested in your thoughts about life, the world, and your books. If you are writing wacky books about underpants for 8-year-old boys, then blogging probably isn’t going to help you a lot (unless your blog is aimed at parents, which is actually a valid angle to consider). You have to think carefully about your readers and what they want from you.

    3) One thing everyone can probably do is get to know their local booksellers (in a courteous way without harassing them!) and try to forge contacts. My authors are always popping up and telling me they’ve had a great chat with so-and-so in some branch of a major retailer who is going to do such-and-such with their book nearer to publication date.

    4) See if you can get a signing, or a slot to speak at the local book group, or a piece in the local paper/local radio. You may well find that one thing leads to another and before you know it, you have a few events on the horizon. The same goes for schools. Who do you know? Can you wiggle your way into a local school system and get some class-room gigs? You might want to put together a workshop on creative writing or team up with another author. One school might recommend you to another and then you can get some nice ‘credentials’ as a speaker.

    Once you’re up and running, it’s very possible to get some regular speaking spots. I would recommend taking some kind of public-speaking course if you’re not experienced in that area. Getting up in front of crowds (and especially a bunch of children) can be scary, and it’s always good to have some training and practice behind you so do a really great job.

    Like writing, public speaking is a skill that takes time and thought to develop.

    How important is social networking in today's environment? For example: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, GoodReads.

    Again, it comes down to the kind of book you’ve written. Tweens and teens are hanging around on some these sites and looking for authors they love; in that case, providing something they can join and belong to is a great idea.

    Anything that fosters a community gathered around you, the author, has to be worthwhile. So long as you can use the medium cleverly to disseminate information that is useful and interesting. Sites, web pages, chat rooms, and blogs that are out of date and not maintained are probably more of a negative than a positive, so it’s worth sitting down and thinking hard before you embark on new social networking.

    How many online things will you realistically be able to update and nurture regularly without assistance? If you are writing and up against deadlines (plus maybe a full-time job/family/children) you may find it all quite onerous. Which eggs will you put in your basket? It may be better to be selective and manage a few things really well, than do too much. You can always grow your online presence as you grow into being a published author.

    What other advice do you have for authors/writers regarding marketing?

    These days, many of the more glamorous marketing/publicity ideas that we have all associated with publishing over the years, don’t really give enough bang-for-their-buck. For example, launch parties, dinners, or even author tours may not work (unless you are guaranteed sizeable audiences, either because you are a big-selling author with an existing and growing fanbase, or because you have a staunch marketeer preparing the ground for you).

    I think offering small events to a tightly chosen group of key retail buyers or media people can be much more useful. Then the attendees can get a real sense of you - the author - as well as the book. These events really have to be hosted by your publishing house. If they do plan this for you or host you at BEA, then you need to take that very seriously. Ask the house to brief you carefully on exactly what they want from you, then be sure to plan and practice until you are very confident in what you have to say. You don’t get very many of these opportunities to present yourself and your work, so be as professional as possible.

    I make a lot of speeches and I always take great care in my preparation by honing and honing every sentence until I am saying exactly what I intend to say. Then, I practice the speech before an invisible audience in an empty room! Always practice your speech out loud - every pitfall and wobble comes to light, meaning you have time to put them right before you go live!

    We’ve already talked about websites and blogs. But there is one thing I’d like to point out: you have a very different market BEFORE publication than AFTER publication.

    Before publication, your audience may be other aspiring writers – or even agents/editors. Once again, you need to think about how your online presence needs to change once you know where, how, and when you are going to be published. If you’ve been blogging about the traumas of submissions, revising, or rejections, you need to bear in mind that your post-publication audience may be quite different.

    After publication, booksellers, parents, or children will find you online, so which section of the populace are you going to target? Once you get published, you will have to think about your public face, which may mean you have to guard your privacy a little more.

    Oh, one thing I haven’t mentioned – if you’re writing a fairly serious, thoughtful novel for middle grade or teens - is that you could consider putting together a readers’ guide. These can be used to promote useful discussion in a class or book group. As a publisher, I used to help in writing these. Coming up with those discussion starters reminded me a lot of my English-degree essay topics! It’s always good to be able to offer helpful materials, and here is something teachers can really use.

    When evaluating whether to take on an author or book, do you ever Google them to see if they already have a web presence or platform?

    No, I am much more interested in how an individual writes. Everything else follows that. However, I do always click on the blog and website links that appear in their submissions.

    Those links can reveal some very, very interesting things! A little tip would be not to give yourself away, heart and soul, in your blog. I always look carefully at submissions and whatever I see in the author’s blog. It does make me smile sometimes when that writer merrily discloses that they’ve already been rejected by 75 agents before me.

    There are some things you don’t necessarily want to shout from the rooftops if you are out on submission.

    What things do Publishers offer in contracts in terms of Marketing? What does the average author receive or is it different, depending on the book?

    Contracts can differ wildly, depending on the nature of the deal and the author. As a publisher, I once negotiated a contract with a media lawyer for work by a major celebrity. We argued over every single line – the costs of stylists, the size of toilets (yes, I am serious!), who would pay for the nanny, and in what class accommodation the nanny would travel.

    However, that is far from the reality of most authors. Basic contracts cover the commitment of the publisher to publish to high standards, and make it very clear the typography, design, jacket, promotion, advertising, and price are to be determined solely by the publisher.

    I always try to add some level of consultation with the author and that ‘their views will be taken into consideration’ – but you can rarely get around the publisher having the final decision on all those things. Contracts also state that the publisher will be entitled to use ‘reasonable extracts’ for publicity and marketing purposes, and that the author will do their reasonable best to be available for promotion around the time of publication.

    If a book goes to auction, I always request a marketing plan alongside any final offers. These are important in making decisions if the advances offered are very close to each other. It is always impressive to see a carefully laid out plan of what the publisher intends to do. You can learn a lot from that. For example, how conversant a house is with online possibilities, how ambitiously they see the book, and do they have the means to recoup a very sizeable advance?

    However, the actual content of the plan is unlikely to make it into the contract. Publishers don’t like committing irrevocably to detail so far in advance, when all manner of things can change, depending on market conditions and what new possibilities come out of the woodwork at the time.

    What things do you expect an author to do on their own?

    I expect them to go into the enterprise with a whole-hearted commitment and practical desire to succeed. To be open to opportunities and be prepared to work hard to create some of those opportunities for themselves.

    Most authors get really excited once they see publicity on the horizon. They’ve worked so long and so hard, and finally they’re looking at getting out there and actually promoting their work. The sight of the final jacket is an amazing shot in the arm for authors – suddenly it’s all wonderfully real! Now it’s time to turn from being the solitary - head down, creating at the computer – into a self-promoter, a personal sales-machine.

    Not an easy juxtaposition for some, but it’s all part of life for today’s writer.

    Thank you Sarah! This was very enlightening and I am sure everyone appreciates all the detail you provided.

    Thank you, Shelli, for having me.

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    Milk baths? Not so great if you are a doll.

    BEWARE: this is a mommy post.

    So we had a huge DRAMA this weekend and are just recovering today.

    The abuse of my daughter's American Girl (AG).

    The one she fondly named Sarah Kate Magnificent Clara (SKMC for short - sounds like a rapper huh?) after weeks of tossing out several names.

    The one that is over 100$.

    The one she washed with milk.

    yes, you heard me right, milk. And 2% makes no difference trust me.

    Now a couple of weeks ago, I walked into the room to find my daughter drenching her AG with water. Innocent mistake right? We had not covered the AG rules thorough enough. I calmly explained to her that she could do anything she wanted to to that doll EXCEPT get her wet. That if she wanted to wash her hair - she needed to call me (the hair dresser) and take her to the salon (bathroom) under my supervision so i could show her how to do it properly.

    The high maintenance AG doll
    For those of you who have not been brainwashed enough to get sucked into the AG's retail trap, the dolls cost over 100$ and are made so that you have to spend money even after you buy one. They have their own clothes and own rules of ownership. They are very sensitive.
    • You cant get their body wet
    • You have to use a special brush
    • You have to take them to the AG salon if you need a hairstyle change.
    • You can only dampen their hair
    • And you can only wash it with Johnson's baby shampoo. (AG must obviously have some kind of contract with Johnson, right?)
    • If something happens, the dolls have to go to the AG Hospital (where admission is at least 40$),
    Saturday Drama
    Yesterday, at quiet time, it was quiet.

    First clue: I should have known something was up b/c my daughter usually comes out at least 5 times during the "quiet" time asking how long is "quiet" time.

    So finally, I go in and anticipate some damage.

    What kind of damage can a 5 year old do - you ask?

    You'd be surprised at how much they can do and how fast. Its actually amazing what 5 year olds can do in such a short period of time of 30 minutes.

    We have had our mishaps.

    My daughter has rubbed glitter glue all over her wall. She has stuck about 1,011 stickers on her walls, bed, and her furniture. She has sprinkled/scattered jars of glitter all over her room and rug. She has colored the walls with glitter Tinkerbell crayons. She has taken ever hair clip and clipped the organza draps. And, she has tied her princess toole that hangs from her ceiling to her bed in triple knots.

    All this in the name of fanciness! (Remind me to kill Fancy Nancy!)

    I digress.

    So, I walk into the room and look around. Doesn't seem so bad. Until I start picking stuff up. Everything seems kind of.......I don't know.....wetish (is that a word?) (Looking back now, i would say milky but hind sight is 20/20, isn't it).

    Dramatic reenactment:

    I pick up a dripping doll and whine. "Honey, I thought I asked you not to put water around your American Girl?"

    With big innocent eyes and a large smile, my daughter says, "I know Mommy. I didn't use water."

    I hold up the dripping doll and ask, "Then why is she wet?"

    Keep in mind, my daughter has no idea she is about to incriminate herself so instead of saying "I plea the 5th." She happily and proudly says, "It's milk. I gave her a milk bath."

    Now I knew the recognized the smell. Warm milk. She looked so innocent in front of me and so proud. How do you handle that? Her intentions were good but her actions were careless and she went ahead and did something after I'd already told her not to get her doll wet.

    "Why did you do that? Didn't I asked you not to get your doll wet last week?"

    Again, innocent eyes blink back at me, still unaware of the impending wrath of Mommy. "But mommy you said I could not use WATER on her hair. I didn't use water. I used milk for her milk bath."

    She had a point.

    And, I did not yell. But I did make her sit in timeout while I chatted with the American Girl hotline for about 15 minutes. A time-out house record.

    Pathetic Reenactment

    AG: His this is AG, can you tell me your doll's name?

    Me: Ugh, Sara Kate Magnificent Clara.

    AG: *pause* OK. What can I do for Sara Kate? What was the rest?"

    Me: "Magnificent Clara."

    AG: "Sara Kate Marvelous Claire?"(why cant my daughter just choose Suzie like the other kids?)

    Me: "That's fine. My daughter put milk on her doll and i need to find out if i can clean it."

    AG: "So your daughter wet Sara Kate's hair?"

    Me: "And body."

    AG: "Right. Well water isn't too bad for the hair, but the body could rust."

    Me: "Uh yeah, except it was milk."

    AG: *gasp* "Did you say milk?"

    Me: "Yes, milk. My daughter gave her a milk bath."


    Me: "So can I clean it or does it have to go to the hospital?"

    AG: "Well, I have heard of kids throwing up on their dolls. But I must say this is the first I have ever heard of a girl using milk. Hold on and let me ask my supervisor."

    I must admit, part of me was almost proud. My daughter was the FIRST girl to think of giving her doll a milk bath? She is so smart. Cool right? So cool, we had to be escalated to the Milk supervisor. Whoa!


    Meanwhile, my daughter is wailing from her Timeout spot. "Please don't let them kill her, Mommy."

    AG: "I'm back. We will probably have to replace the entire doll. Milk can stink."

    Now I could have told you that. Can I be a supervisor? How much do they make?

    Me: "Ok, I'll send it in. can it be fixed?"

    AG: "You might as well buy a new doll."

    Me: "But my daughter loves the one she has."

    AG: "Ok Send it in. If we can't fix it (code word for get out your wallet) - you can purchase a new one as well as the hospital gown set. Then, when we send it back, she'll think it is the same one." Great now, $150. Ag lady gives me a list of "prepping and packing instructions" and I get off the phone.

    Perturbed I just spent another 150$

    I go to my daughter and tell her. "I just got off the phone with the Dr. Sara Kate has to go to the hospital and have an operation."

    Daughter: "Sara Kate Magnificent Clara."

    Me: "Today, its just Sara."

    Daughter: "But will she die?"

    The mean mad me says: "She might! And, if she does. I am not buying you a new one. That will be the consequence. We will just have to see what happens."

    *tears follow* (from both of us. If anyone cried around me, I cry too. Not helpful I know but true.)

    So what was my daughter's punishment?

    I think she had had enough. She cried for about 30 minutes about her doll and is devastated that she has to give up Sara Kate Magnificent Clara for major surgery . Originally, we took away a show just to impress nanny 911 but after the the flood of tears, I buckled and ended up giving it back when my hubby left for the afternoon.

    What can I say except - I am a sucker.

    Not only am i paying for a new doll but now I have to pay for the stupid hospital gown too.

    American girl - 100$

    American girl replacement $150

    Daughter's happiness - priceless. Though she is probably scarred for life.

    All at my expense.

    Me - I was upset that I upset her all afternoon. I wanted ot take a bath after she went to bed. But somehow a milk bath didn't sound so good anymore.

    Just out of respect for the dead.

    Saturday, March 14, 2009

    6 Things on a Saturday

    1. Whooooo knows about Owl Medicine?
    I woke up - once again - to an owl hooting. Of course my hubby did not hear it. But as soon as I looked out the window, the owl stopped. WTF is up with owls!!! Are they trying to tell me something? Read this if you want to know more about what Native Americans thought. (With this health stuff going on, I have to admit I'm freaked out a bit by them)

    Owls come in all sizes, from a tiny miniature that actually lives inside the cactus in the desert, to the great horned owl, which is the only bird that can out fly the golden eagle. A fully grown great horned is an awe inspiring creature. Its talons are furry, and closely resemble the paws of a baby mountain lion with claws extended. It is a meat eater, which means it can be a fierce warrior if challenged, or if something dear to it is threatened. It is often referred to as Night Eagle. Owl is at home in the night. It has great awareness of all that is around it at all times. It has predator vision, which means it sees clearly what it looks at. It has great intuition: it is the totem of psychics and clairvoyants. It has the courage to follow its instincts. Owl's medicine includes seeing behind masks, silent and swift movement, keen sight, messenger of secrets and omens, shape-shifting, link between the dark, unseen world and the world of light, comfort with shadow self, moon power, freedom.

    2. The Sleep Gods have Answered.
    My hubby let me sleep until 10:30. AH! I have not done this in years. he even took the kids out of the house so it was quiet. Wasn't that nice. Of course after the owl incident, I had nightmares but at least I am a bit refreshed. Isn't he GREAT! Thx honey

    3. Time for a trip to the Salon.
    Going to get my hair done today. haven't had it done in a while. I was kind of thinking of going red. Don' t know why? I think its because I watched America' top Model this week. One of the girls (the plus size model and I use plus size term lightly because she is what a size 6??) had brown hair and blueish green eyes like me changed to red hair in her makeover. I thought she looked good. But is red really me? maybe we should ask the owls?

    4. A 5 year old's Brilliance
    • Mommy - How to policeman stop you when you are speeding? I bet they just shoot you.
    • Mommy - Ms. Cheryl told me unicorns were not real. I told her that I can believe what I want to. She just can't see them like I can.
    • Don't worry Mommy, you have to keep trying. I know you can get published just don't be a giver upper!
    • What does instinct mean? that something stinks??
    5. A man of few words (from a 20-month old)
    Me: Did you poo poo?
    Him: No! (he did!)
    Me: Do you want to take a nap?
    Him: No!
    Me: Do you want to play trains?
    Him: No!
    Me: Give me a kiss.
    Him: No!

    6. Boy I could use me some of this!
    NPR had an article today listed: Can fearful memories be erased? What I found funny is that one way was drugs! No S$%# Sherlock. Drugs can erase anything (not that I would know) Check out the article, it is interesting.)

    Have a nice saturday!

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Friday Fabs- Marketing Round Up

    Comment your Butt Off Contest update:
    Only 18 days Left for a free web site!

    As of this morning - 13 days into the contest, you guys are doing fabulous! Just from March 1 - March 13 (ooh goodie Friday the 13th) we have had:
    • 1,407 Unique visitors (in 13 days!)
    • 704 Comments (now I know how agents feel about queries - I have to log and approve each one! )
    • 61 people (thanks for taking your time to comment!)

    I have met some great people and found some more fab blogs! Thanks for all the off-comment messages. :) Remember - it is not over until the fab lady writes - that's me :). So don't give up!

    Persistence is key in this biz - right? :)

    Practice makes perfect!

    Friday Fabs: Marketing Round Up!

    I am going to start doing a round up of marketing posts on Friday. Here are some fabulous posts out there on promotion and marketing I saw this week. These include ideas bloggers have done to get more blog traffic, authors unique projects that spreads the word about their book/cause, and editors/agents advice.

    Remember - we have Sarah Davis from Greenhouse Literary talking about her marketing on Monday. And it is fabulous. Very thorough and insightful!

    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Now I'm a heart beat away from crazy!

    Quick Update: (bear with me this week - I'm not really in the mood to blog about marketing.)

    Went in for my MRI this morning. The thing worked! Thank goodness. And only 45 min - I thought it would be longer. I did replot my book (for revisions) all in my head so at least I got somethig done. Right?

    Good news: MRi was normal. Brain and ears are normal. Except maybe I am a bit crazy. who knows.

    Weird news: They found out I am having hypo-tension. When I stand up, my blood pressure is dropping. I am at 120/70 until I stand up - then I am about 100/50.

    Why my Dr or ENT ever thought to take my blood pressure when I was sitting vs when I was standing is beyond me. Especially seeing as I told them i get dizzy more when I am standing vs sitting.

    Diagnosis? They do not think it is my ear and probably ever was my ear? Who knows if it was or not. All I know is I am frustrated with the medical systems and doctors I have been seeing.

    Now? I have I have been recommended to see a cardiologist. So here is my journey:

    General practitioner
    Ear Therapist
    Now - on to the Cardiologist

    My goal? To see every "ologist" there is and maybe even write a book about them?

    What do you think? I'm thinking big seller?

    This is all very frustrating.

    Tomorrow I will give the stats on the contest and throw in some marketing tips. We'll be back to your regularly scheduled blogs starting Monday :)

    Thanks for reading my digressions.

    Fun things to do with MRI scans of your brain:

    • search through them with a 5 year old, looking for funny faces
    • compare them to science pictures and guess the different parts of your head
    • laugh at your bulging eyeballs
    • cut them up and tape them onto sticks for a Play about Brains
    • trace them on paper and color them

    Fun Fun!

    Just think what we can do with the heart scans!

    If you think of any others, let me know.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    MY GA is smokin' somethin'!

    Hey everyone

    Just wanted you to know that my MRI was rescheduled for tomorrow. UGH!

    I got all the way out there this morning and even climbed into the stupid thing.

    Believe it or not - the dang thing broke 5 minutes later!

    Evidently it happens ONCE A YEAR? Is someone playing a joke on me?

    I really think my GA (Guardian Angel) is smokin' something. Maybe it is the almighty Gabrielle (then I could call him my GAG - that would be fitting huh?)

    My hubby groaned when I told him. Because as some of you know, I have some weird ongoing battle with anything electronic - especially right now? And guess what? I think Mercury is in retrograde or is it Venus- AHHHH!

    Anyway - even though it stinks I have to go back again and wait another day, I actually laughed. It is just like my GAG to pull something like this. He thinks he is soooooooo funny.

    All I can say is: hardy har har to you!

    I am definitely bummed b/c I want this thing to be over and done with - but what are you gonna do. It wasn't the poor technician's fault. He said to me - "Keep in mind it is man-made."

    Well - isn't that just always the problem? Men? Ha! Maybe if woman made things we would be better off? (Just kidding guys!)

    Anyway, I don't have time to do a real post today b/c I gotta get my kids, but Ill post tomorrow afternoon.

    Thanks for all the well wishes! You guys are awesome!

    Oh - and GA? Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

    Just remember, payback is a B#$%2! ;)

    PS Doesn't everyone's GA loo like this? Too bad for you :)

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Am I a Head Case?

    Marketing Muse
    Don't get stressed out about marketing. It's not worth it. It should just be something fun you do to get ready for the day that your book is picked up and put on the shelf. Have fun with it!

    I am a Head Case!

    I've thought long and hard, wondering if I should post this post. It seems a bit depressing for my taste, but I think I need to post it for me.

    As some of you know, I have been having chronic vertigo for the last several months (4 to be exact). I had a slight inner ear infection last Oct/Nov. After that, my head hasn't quite been the same. To sum it up - I feel like I'm trying to walk on a rocking boat. And I feel that way often.

    How does it feel? Go spin in a circle 5 times fast and try to walk. That's me. I have had weeks where I felt great and then all of a sudden a wave will hit me and I'll be down for the count for a couple days.

    To be honest, as positive as I have tried to be, it's been a very scary and frustrating time. The fear comes in more around my kids than anything. For those who have kids, you will totally get this. I get panicky at the thought of not being here for them. Not that I am going anywhere, but this illness has brought up a "possibility" that I'd never really thought about before. And if I think about it too long - which i try not to do - I realize if anything were to happen to me - my kids - at their ages (5 and 20 months) - would not remember me. :(

    Now I don't want you to worry because in Jan, I was officially diagnosed with a vestibular disorder and started therapy. Did you know that vertigo is the 2nd most common complaint to back pain? I blogged about it here (off my rocker post). Since the therapy, I've had longer periods of time where I feel better. I would say, I at about 80-20. Whereas before I was 20/80. So the improvement is a positive sign. I just am not totally "me" yet. especially with my kids, my patience is thin and Im not as fun.

    But last week, I finally succumbed to the idea of having the MRI and it is scheduled for tomorrow. Just to double check my ears and head, to be sure everything is ok and all is where it is supposed to be. I wonder if you really can "lose your mind".

    Now I know the chance of me having brain cancer or some kind of brain tumor is very slim (like under 5% at my age - don't think I did not look! twice!).

    But I am still very scared about tomorrow.

    • What will they find?
    • What is an MRI like?
    • What if something is really wrong with me?
    • What if nothing is wrong with me? Then, where do I go from here?
    • Will I always feel this way ?
    • Will I ever remember what it is like to feel normal again?
    My hubby said I was up all night, yelling in my sleep. I remember having bad dream, dreams of being chased. But this was also after I found out a blogger buddy of mine had been diagnosed with cancer so I think it was all mixed inside. The fear is real.

    I am trying so hard to be positive and just focus on being healthy and being positive. I am excited to finally be reassured that NOTHING is seriously wrong with me. And come up with a therapy plan to continue until this annoying vertigo thing is gone. And I know my life could be worse and that I am so lucky in everything I have.

    Blah Blah Blah .....

    But when I hear of other cancer stories of young ladies in their 30s, I have admit, the thought bursts into my mind.

    And do you know what I realize immediately?

    What is really important.

    My kids. My family. My friends. My health.

    All of this publishing stuff and writing stuff and marketing stuff and bailout stuff is NOT important. It is not worth stressing over. Because as long as I have my health and am with my family who is also safe and healthy, I am exactly where I want to be.

    All this other stuff is extra. Like whipped cream on your ice cream. Not essential but adds a little somethin' somethin! But it is not critical to my happiness.

    It is the time I am here with my kids and my hubby and my family and my friends that is most important. And it is what I do FOR OTHERS - what I give back - with the time I have here on this earth that truley defines me.

    I know that I am probably fine. That I am being neurotic and probably subconsciously figuring out how to use these emotions in a story of mine.

    But after the last 4 months, after feeling so bad so often....the emotionaly side kicks in.

    I am scared.

    So, I could use some extra good thoughts tonight. Positive Ones.

    And you? Go hug your kids, significant others, family, and friends.

    Go outside and take a deep breath.

    And, love/take care of that body of yours because it is the only one you have. We take our bodies for granted.

    Our life is precious.

    Oh yeah, don't forget to hug yourself.

    You deserve it.

    (PS Send an extra thought to blogger buddy Bridget Zinn.)

    (PSS Right when Ifinished this, an advertising email popped up in my box that said, "Imagine your fear away." Crazy right?
    So that is what I am off to do. Thanks for the sounding board! ;)