Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Grains of Truth Takes Readers into Love and Friendship

 The Lies We Tell Ourselves to Stay Sane

In the world of a Texas feed store, the line between reality and truth blurs when love and friendship are at stake.

Meet Sarah and Zoe, two best friends who work in a family-owned feed store. Their lives begin to unravel when love sparks between Sarah and the feed store owner’s only heir, Tom. Patriarch Otis quickly makes it known that his only son’s future won’t include the feed store “girl”. The clash over Tom’s love life erupts in a family feud where business is expected to trump love. In the meantime, a romance also ignites between Zoe and the local town physician whom she nicknames “Dr. Sex on Two Legs”. The women are quickly caught up in a family feud that leads to unexpected consequences, loss and tragedy.

Grains of Truth is an intense, emotional and passion-filled story about two best friends looking for that one thing everyone wants — love. It’s a story about friendship and accepting what you can’t change. Grains of Truth will move you to tears and leave you astonished. It’s a must-read story with an unexpected twist.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Little Big Lies Finale Delivers Great Story

The final episode of my favorite show this season, Little Big Lies delivered a great ending. (Spoiler alert: don't read if you want the big surprise ending). 

I hadn't quite figured out why the five women involved in the end were so closely tied in story line except that they were feuding. How the show actually connects the dots at the end was absolutely perfect. Now it makes sense why the police interviews focused on all five.

The stories leading up to the murder left open many possibilities. What I hadn't considered was that Perry could be Jane's assailant. As Perry's abuse toward Celeste escalated, it became obvious that he was probably the one to get the proverbial ax. Other reviewers presented numerous scenarios, but I kept thinking it was going to involve Perry. Additionally, the abuse of Ambella started to point toward the twins whom Celeste was convinced had not been witness to their father's abuse. As I connected the themes behind the stories, it became evident that Perry's role model as an abusive husband might have unduly influenced his innocent boys. 

As a storyteller and novelist, I'm always in search of the great twist. While the ending wasn't shocking that Perry fell to his death, I loved how David E. Kelley put the twist in who actually pushed him. It was not as we say "the usual suspects". Bonnie doing the deed was the shocker. Her curiosity and concern piqued, she follows the women and witnesses the final beating of Celeste. Watching Perry's final violence was heartbreaking. As a woman I could barely stand watching him knock her around. The out-and-out violence was frightening (and apparently Nicole Kidman was bruised herself during those scenes) and realistic. It wasn't shocking that Bonnie was provoked into action. I could almost hear an imperceptible applause. I feel confident no one felt particularly sorry for Perry, but mostly sad for his boys. 

Big Little Lies ended just the way I like my endings -- full of great twists and turns. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Personal Brand

Taking the lead of one of my authors Elizabeth Ferry-Perata who I encouraged to take a social media course designed specifically for authors, I thought I would start to drill down and define my own brand a little better. 

If you've been reading my blogs and newsletter you have a pretty good idea about me. I like what Liz said in her blog, "I am who I am." (See her blog at: http://elizabethperataauthorblog.blogspot.com/).  I have to say that after 51 years roaming this planet and going through numerous amazing and sometimes painful life experiences, "I am who I am." 

Who is that person? I am a good woman. I always strive to do the right thing. I'm nice to everyone, but if someone tries to "bite" me, it's not a question that I will bite back. I know you can't please all of the people all of the time, and inevitably someone just won't like me for no reason at all. Well, I'm not here to win a popularity contest. My goal in life is peace of mind. 

I'm also funny. If you know me at all then you know I'm witty. If you've read my novels in the California Girl Chronicles series then you know I'm the mind behind the "Love My Coconut" T-shirts. I'm also down-to-earth and a little "freaky" as my fiance likes to call me. We joke all the time. He'll say, "You FREAK!" LOL and I don't argue. Far be it from me to argue the truth. 

I like good food, but it's not beneath me to demand once in a while we get a chili dog and French fries. I love to watch the Food Channel and Carnival Eats. One time many years ago, my ex-husband and I took a trip and stopped at many Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives restaurants. YUM!

 I'm first and foremost a writer and novelist. I've defined myself this way since age 10. In fact, I get annoyed with people, who only trifle with writing, who then position themselves as experts. How am I different? I am absolutely, positively in love with writing and books. I don't use writing as a means to add to my platform. I write because I have to write. It's like my arm. Without it I would be crippled. 

I became a publisher because I love books. I also love working with other authors and teaching them our craft. I've bonded with many clients who have become dear friends over the years. You really can't work on something as personal as a book and not become close with clients. 

And I'm a painter. I only recently took up the paintbrush again. The reason I paint in watercolors is perhaps silly: I don't like the smell of oils and watercolors are washable. After ruining a bunch of clothes with oil paints, I figured I would use watercolors. It turned out I like them better. I like the vibrancy and translucent effects you can create. 

In the personal department, I am a mom to two fabulous children, Cole and Cambria. Cole is now 19 and it's a wonder to see my young adult son as he grows and changes. My daughter is an incredible teenager now at age 13. Every person who meets my kids says how amazing they are. They are both incredible human beings. I get asked about those difficult teen years and whatnot. I also say that my kids are just great the way they are. 

I'm single but recently engaged to Christopher Carter. He's brought so much to my life. We've been together a year now and intend to get married perhaps this summer. Chris though is so funny and sweet. He complements my outrageous sense of humor. We often spend evenings just "talking shit" as he puts it. He is my best friend. I'm fortunate and blessed to have met such an incredible man at my mature stage in life. 

My next novel is in the queue and after some issues get resolved I intend to get out there and promote it. I can't release it for a while. 

So... that is who I am. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Big Little Lies makes for "Whopper" Storytelling


Big Little Lies
Rating: *****

Big Little Lies starring heavyweight actresses Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley is yet another great limited series from HBO. As always I look at TV shows and movies from the viewpoint of storytelling. What impresses me about this show is how each woman’s story is woven together and somehow linked in the murder that we have yet to discover who is the victim. As you watch the show unfold you’re aware that their stories are tied to the murder, but the tension and mystery lies in the question: which woman did it and to whom was it done?

I will find out the coming weeks, as many audience members will as well. I love two things about this story: the way it’s constructed around the mysterious murder and the individual women’s stories. The first layer is the murder and we see the rest of the story in flashbacks. A police interview of outsiders looking in on the women’s stories is used almost like a narrative to retell what happened previously that led up to the murder.  I always like unique narrative and different, clever ways of telling story, and this method works well to give the town gossip and speculation about our three heroines.

First, we have Withspoon’s Madeleine who is a helicopter mom with an edge of bitchiness, jealous bravado, but also deep insecurity. Her former husband’s marriage to a much-younger woman named Bonnie (played by Zooey Kravitz) grinds at her and causes a rivalry over motherhood. Madeleine is married to Ed who is also edgy and interesting. He seems to be like a slow-boiling pot about to simmer over. He is keenly aware that is wife is unhappy and still deeply angry with her ex-husband for abandoning her and their daughter Abigail. As the series unfolds we discover that our prim and only somewhat-proper Madeleine had an affair with the theater director. How this will fold into the entire story line should be pretty interesting. You have a feeling (as is the case with all three women) that each family is on the verge of a complete meltdown.

Then we have the beautiful Nicole Kidman who plays Celeste the gorgeous wife of Perry (Alexander Skarsgard who is playing a “human” version of his alter ego vampire Eric from True Blood). Celeste and Perry outwardly appear to be this gorgeous, loving couple with two cute twin boys. Yet like the others, their union is very flawed. Perry is beating Celeste and then having primal sex with her afterward and yet another form of release. They’re expressing their relationship through violence and sexual aggression, and neither seems happy about it. We soon find them on the therapist’s sofa and eventually Celeste goes solo where the therapist finds out the truth. You can see the dark entanglement of these lovers emotional relationship that is destroying them both. A little note: I always find it interesting how Skarsgard can switch between sweet and nice to ugly and dark. You can see why she loves him despite his violence toward her.

Finally, we have Shailene's young mother who has a son that is a product of rape. Her story is as dark and mixed up as the other characters. Her son Ziggy is being accused of bullying a little girl, Emabella, daughter of the third couple in our mix. Emabella’s mother is a working mother and already insecure about her status. She aggressively tries to get young Ziggy suspended from school even though no evidence has been produced that it’s him. In the meantime his mother Jane’s rape and rapist haunts her to the point that she is considering revenge.

I love this show. It messes with your head. You’re not quite sure who to like and root for. And that makes sense since we don’t quite know who are the real villains. The cheating, violence and anger is mixing and slowingly building to a boil that is sure to blow the lid off. Big Little Lies is the perfect study in how to write extremely flawed characters, and that’s why you’re not quite sure whom in this drama/murder mystery to root for. It creates an interesting series where you’re anxious to see what comes next.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Creating "Demand" to Sell Books


Many authors mistakenly believe that it’s enough to just have their books on Amazon. What they don’t understand is that unless they purchase advertising through Amazon, free promotion through the company is virtually nonexistent. Best sellers enjoy some promotion by being named “best in new fiction”, but that kind of helpful promotion means the book is already selling. New books and low sales don’t get anything for free.

I recently had an author contact me with a really great question: how do you get your book to be more easily searchable. Again, books that are ranked lower in sales won’t be at the top of a nonspecific keyword search. For example, to find this author’s book requires the full title be input into Amazon. Its keywords aren’t enough to make it move to the top of the search because it’s not being routinely searched and clicked on. Other books with similar keywords and higher sales will come up first in a search. It’s similar to Google. What people click on the most often is what ranks at the top of the search.

I try to educate authors to help them understand that simply publishing a book and putting it out there won’t give them sales. Some authors think it should be enough. It’s just not going to work. Much like any product people have to know it exists to buy it. They won’t look for your book if they’ve never heard about it. Amazon’s system reacts to this demand and supply model. Most of the book industry works on demand and supply.

Thus, it’s up to the author and his/her publicist to create that demand. Your publicist promotes your book typically using a combination of traditional media relations combined with trending social media tactics. You really can’t have on method without the other. Although a social media focus can work if the author has targeted the right prospects. So whether or not you have hired a publicist to do this high level thinking for you or you’re doing it yourself, your first exercise should be to identify your primary, secondary and tertiary audiences.

Once you’ve identified your respective audiences, it’s time to promote to those audiences by identifying where the read and get their information. Then you must promote to those media outlets or through those social media services. If you’re promoting to traditional and online news sources, you’ll need a media kit and/or press release. You will also want to do customize pitches. You can create 4-5 different standard pitches, but you should personalize each one you pitch to its target editor/writer/journalist.

Do not throw pitches out there like tossing mud on the wall to see what will stick. Editors and writers know when the publicist hasn’t done his/her homework. They can spot generic pitches. They may think you don’t care enough to even look at their media or what they like to publish and read. Each pitch you should spend time trying to figure out the proper angle to take with that particular media source. It’s time well spent. One placement in what we in the business call a Tier 1 media source can quite literally create a best seller. So, it behooves you to do your homework. Once pitched and turned down, it’s unlikely another pitch will turn it around.

Now go sell, sell, sell! Till next week Friend-Os.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Do we all have a book in us?

How many of you have heard the phrase "everybody has a book in them"? What does this really mean? We're all writers? No, it means we all have a story to tell. Living on this planet and making our lives happen creates our biographies or stories. The current trend in business is the memoir/business story. Many leaders have turned to telling others about their journeys to share life's lessons and experiences. When I read about another person's story and I see commonalities between their experiences and mine then I know I'm not alone. People like to learn and be entertained at the same time. Storytelling is a way to share that common ground with others.
 
One problem though ... maybe you're not a writer. Maybe you have a very compelling story to share, but writing wasn't your strongest skill. Maybe you are a fairly good writer, but you've never written more than an essay or business letter. You don't have the slightest idea where to begin your book writing process. That is where working with me pays off. You don't have to be a writer to tell your story. You can hire me as a ghostwriter.
 
What does that process entail and is it difficult? I work with each person around his/her needs. Ghostwriting can be done one of several ways:
 
Step 1: Develop the table of contents, which is really your book's map. It's good to put together the table of contents first. It organizes the book's content and gives you a firm place to begin.
 
Step 2a: Clients can start by simply writing out a version of what they think the first chapter should contain. I will go in and revise it and add content by doing additional research if necessary. Each chapter swaps back and forth between myself and the client. For example, while I'm working on chapter 1 the client can be working on chapter 2.
 
Step 2b: The other option is for me to develop sub-heads and questions under each sub-head. I will then have the client answer those questions. Once the questions are answered I write a narrative around the answers to make the entire chapter flow and make sense.
 
Step 2c: Clients can also record in their own voice their stories. I then transcribe those stories and write it so it makes sense.
 
So that is the ghostwriting process with the 3 optional approaches. Does that spark any ideas in you? If you want to open new doors to opportunities, I guarantee a book will do it for you. You'll have a chance to get media coverage, book reviews, book sales, and even be asked to be a speaker.
 
If you're ready to take that next step and tell you story, give me a call at 916-300-8012 or send an email to info@3LPublishing.com.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is Traditional PR Dead?

Is traditional public and media relations dead?

The analysts are asking this question because of the rapid rise of social media as the main technique to start buzz and sell products. My answer is no, it's alive and well. Today, you've got more avenues than ever before to promote your books, products or services. The real answer is you've got to cross traditional public relations with trending social media techniques, but one without the other isn't the working formula.

 
Here is how it should go:
 
Step 1: Create a traditional media campaign and promote to the online, print and broadcast media.
Step 2: Set up interviews and promote book reviews.
Step 3: Take the results in the form of links and use social media to blast the results to your respective social media audiences.
Step 4: Use social media to promote to your respective audiences your own book promotions and excerpts.
Step 5: Engage your social media audience.
 
Traditional media campaign come together with social media campaigns to make both effectively work. Today the reality is you can't have one without the other - and that's the answer to the question.
 
Now go take on the day!