Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Q&A with Author Liz Perata, Grains of Truth


Q: What is Grains of Truth about?
A: The lives, friendship and lovers of two best friends, Sarah and Zoe. The women work for a local feed store owned by a blustering Texan named Otis. When the “feed-store girl” Sarah falls for Otis’ only male heir, scandal and heartbreak erupt.

Q: What makes this contemporary romance unique from others in the genre?
A: The story of love and friendship is timeless. While it might on the surface seem simple: girl meets boy; family doesn’t approve of the lovers; and girl loses boy – it’s the subtext that offers the fresh ideas. Much more is going on in this story than what appears to be obvious. The book calls for readers to really pay attention and dig a little deeper as the story unfolds.

Q: What is the sub-plot in the story?
A: While we have the romance between Tom and Sarah, the secondary story is about her best friend Zoe and her struggles. She’s a single mom whose ex-husband has betrayed and left her to raise their son alone. It’s nothing new and many women will relate to Zoe. She is like everyone else. She wants true love, and she thinks she’s found it when she meets the town doctor, whom she fondly nicknames “Dr. Sex on Two Legs”. Their love story is less fraught with obstacles – or so it seems. Some barriers in love have nothing to do with the obvious.

Q: What do you think draws readers in the most?
A: The story isn’t a fantasy or particularly unique. It deals with everyday people and their personal challenges and desires. Sarah and Zoe could be the women we all know who live in our neighborhoods. The book’s characters are highly relatable and flawed just like everyone. How the story unfolds and what happens and particularly the subtext are unique and thought provoking. When the reader finishes the book, he or she will be surprised and perhaps enlightened.

Q: What inspired you to write the book?
A: I always had one eye on my children and one eye on my career. I worked a typical Monday through Friday 45+ hours a week job. I was well respected in my field and still am. But, funding got cut one year and I was one of the unfortunate people to get laid off. It was devastating because I thought, what I am going to do? However, I had this opportunity to do something that has always been on my “bucket list”. I had the opportunity to write. As I began to spend time with my children, this idea formed into my head, so I began to write it down. Then I began to write every day. At first, I thought the story was going to be a basic story about boy and girl who meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after. However, as I got into the story, I realized that I wanted to write something that will intrigue readers and get them to think about how would they deal with certain situations if they were faced with them. When I made the characters, I derived them from real-world people and situations. Thus, Grains of Truths happened.

Q: Who is your favorite character and why?
A: To me every character is my favorite because this is my baby – my first book, and a labor of love. But, if I think more deeply, Sarah and Zoe are my two favorite characters. I see parts of Zoe in me. She loves her family, and is driven and very focused. For Sarah, it is how she looks at things and tells you how it is.

Q: What are you goals as an author?
A: To create stories where people escape from the hustle and bustle of life and fall in love with characters and places. I want the readers to feel alive emotionally and tell others about their experience after experiencing my stories. I enjoy telling my stories, and I get to spend time with my “families”. I feel like I have the best of both worlds.

Q: What can we expect from you in the future?
A: I am currently writing my second book Public Truths. It’s a complex romance about a Hollywood publicist who falls for her bad boy client, a major star with a reckless past. Like Grains of Truth, this story has a lot of layers and subtext. I am just now writing it and excited to see how it finishes.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

3 Tips to Effectively Pitch Your Book

So you're pitching your book or you've hired someone (hopefully me) to do it. I recently had a client say, he tried many times to get into Experience Life magazine (for his first book). I said, "Did you follow up after you pitched it?" He said, "No." I replied, "Fortune is in the Follow-Up," which is a great older book by Heidi Sloss we published several years ago. Follow-up is critical. Do you give up after one try? Don't give up if you want success and here's why...
 
How many times have you had an in-box full of email? Do you answer all of them right on the spot? Well, I do but I am the exception to the rule. I follow a strict customer service policy of being available and responsive. The only time I'm not responsive is after hours. Now, I have exceptions depending on the client. I have many casual and friendly relationships with clients where I respond regardless. We have that kind of rapport. Clients that I don't have that rapport, I won't respond to on my personal time.
 
Most people don't have that kind of policy nor do they even realize its value - or they are just overwhelmed and not as organized. Whatever the case non-responsiveness is more the norm than the exception. So, keeping in mind that "Fortune is in the Follow-Up" if you want results, you have to follow up with people. So, you contact them the first time, and then you make it a priority to follow up with them at least a second or even a third time.
 
When I followed up with Experience Life magazine, I got results. The editor acknowledged she had been busy, but yes, she would love to receive a review copy. Had I failed to follow up, I would have gotten the same results as my client - nothing. This approach is particularly important when you know your book/product is an ideal fit for the targeted media and yet they didn't get back to you. Niche pitching is really some of the easiest. You know you're going after a media outlet that publishes material related to your book/product. If you're not getting a response from a targeted pitch then following up becomes mission critical to success.
 
Here are some invaluable tips:
 
Tip 1 - Make sure your pitch is working. If your target media isn't responding but you know your book is something they cover then examine how you're pitching. What is your message? What are they looking for in terms of content? Analyze it. Break it up into some specific keywords that they use to describe what they are communicating to their audience. Then use those keywords in your pitch.
 
Tip 2 - Have you identified the editor who is the RIGHT contact? Most publications have a masthead of editors who cover certain "beats". Did you pitch your book on say orthodontics to the guy who only covers dental implants? What is the likelihood he is going to want to see your book? And you can't rely on his kindness to forward your pitch to the right editor. He might or he might not. It's your job to identify who either assigns articles to the writer who covers your topic or the editor.
 
Tip 3 - Always start with a phone call and a follow-up email pitch. Not all editors want to answer voice pitches and won't accept them. Those editors who still answer the phone are more likely to request your book if you actually make human contact with them. They're going to remember a conversation much easier than an email. So, don't be afraid to make a phone call.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Insider's Guide for the Invisilign Patient

Let's get right to the announcements section. Going on press is the second book in the "Insider's Guide" series titled The Insider's Guide for the Invisilign Patient by Dr. Barry Glaser. Meanwhile his first book The Insider's Guide to Invisilign Treatment continues to steadily sell. He's almost out of all of the print copies from the first print run right as the book is about to go from pre-sale to sale. His success is a fabulous case study in social media marketing tactics. Dr. Glaser has come up with his own methods of attracting interest in his book. I wanted to share some of them so you're inspired to try them out.
 
Social Media professional groups - Dr. Glaser is a member of several orthodontist-related social media professional groups where he regularly participants. Key point: participation.
 
Don't join groups, stay dormant, and then do what I call "hit-and-run" advertising. Social media failure point no. 1: using your social media as a simple means to an end. I actually hate it when people use my Facebook page to advertise their products or services. So, don't use a professional group to simply advertise and walk away. Become an active member. Contribute to discussions. Build real relationships with other members. Then when the time is right, mention your book. Do not gratuitously use the group to promote yourself.
 
Join discussion groups - many online discussion groups exist regarding particular subjects. Join some discussion groups related to your book's theme. Again, the key is to become an active member. You must never think of social marketing endeavors as a straight-up method to advertise. All "social" media should involve "socializing" - that is the exact point of social media itself.
 
Linked-In has many discussion groups related to all kinds of subject matter. Do a search and see what's available. I am a member of several writers' groups and public relations groups. I have to admit I'm not always active. It depends upon time management. Like all social media, don't get too sucked into it. You can also waste a lot of time with very little return on investment.
 
Be brilliant in your techniques - huge compliment to Dr. Glaser who has been clever in what he's doing to generate sales. He came up with a contest that if other members of his group posted reviews of the first book, they would be eligible to win FREE copies of the patient-related version. This tactic immediately generated not only reviews, but also more sales.
 
Use key relationships to spread the words through discussion groups - again Dr. Glaser cleverly identified a colleague whose review would spur sales. This method solved a problem too. He didn't want to aggressively promote his book to this group. By enlisting the help of his colleague, he relied on another person to promote it, which gave it more credibility. This method once more generated sales.
 
It's been fun to watch how this book is selling. Hundreds of pre-sales were made for a book sight-unseen, which was remarkable in and of itself. Then the book orders began being filled, and the receipt of the actual book continued to generate buzz. It's a marketer's dream. Word of mouth buzz generating sales! We call this in marketing the "snowball effect" - and it's the goal of all marketing and public relations. You want your formal promotional efforts and traditional media campaign to roll up into a huge ball of success that keeps building.
 
Books that are a flash in the pan don't last. These kinds of books get one key book review or media placement, but the product isn't good enough to sustain the momentum. Luke warm reviews and general disinterest mean sales wane. But when your book is needed and wanted and well done, the sweet spot of "buzz" and "he/she told two friends," etc. is a marketer's dream come true.
 
Dr. Glaser has nearly sold out his first print run on just the first wave of social media. He's been active, smart and aggressive in his activities. It's paid off. He's an ideal case study of what TO do!
 
Now go market your little hearts out ... OR hire me to help you!

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.