Monday, October 31, 2011

Watch Out! Distribution Madness!!!

You know those moments when you completely scratch your head and just don't get it. Life is loaded with absurdities. Rather than get angry (although I still do get irritated at some of it), I thought I would share the most absurd business relationship I ever got into and JUST extricated my company out of it. Our now former distributor Atlas/Bookmasters (thank goodness we're done with them) did all kinds of things that one could call absurd, ridiculous and incompetent. Let me start with the list for your enjoyment.

Perils of Printing -- We initially worked with them on a print job. It went awry immediately. When we tried to remedy all of the mistakes and over-charges and hidden fees, the president (not the staff) told us we were incompetent. First, you never tell a client they are incompetent (horrible customer service) ... oh wait what's my second point again? Oh yeah, you NEVER tell a client they're incompetent. AND they had the nerve to try and win our business on other print jobs!!! Really? You called us incompetent, but hey! You still want our print business. Hmm... I don't think so. We'll stick with our reputable printer -- thank you!

Frightening Accounting -- On the distribution side, each month we were given reports. Each month our intrepid operations manager had to cull through line items to unearth all of the overcharges and inaccurate charges. EVERY month!  If we had blindly just paid our bill, we would have paid hundreds of dollars over and over again for inaccurate charges. Thank goodness my operations manager is COMPETENT!

What happened to making money? The distributor was supposed to sell our products. Do you know we NEVER made a thin dime in almost two years? Did we pay them thousands of dollars? Yes! Is this the most ridiculous upside down relationship you have ever heard of? They had a fee for everything! Touch that darned books and you were charged. It was a racket. You couldn't make money no matter how many books you sold. Oh, and call them for customer service and you were charged for the call!!! Even if it was to clear up all of their mistakes -- ka-ching!

The real cherry on the sundae. Then came the topper! Apparently it's completely acceptable to sell a book to the likes of Barnes and Noble, maybe or maybe not get paid (in the system only), for $10 and then (and you're going to yowl at this), Barnes can return it and charge $16! So let's see ... maybe we'll get paid that $10 per book but Barnes can actually make money by returning it for $16. And no one is in the system to protect us (the publisher). Don't worry though! We got the bill for the extra $6! That we didn't get paid the original $10 for anyway! Now I get it! I'm not only paying to have book distributed, but oh yeah, I'm PAYING extra!!!

If you are considering doing business with this company, I recommend you hesitate and do your homework! 3L Publishing is now with the reputable Bakers and Taylor!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dear Blog ...

You are super time consuming, and I can't think of anything meaningful to say to you on this fine Saturday evening. Oh, blog you are my obsession yet we just can't talk today. I need to keep you loaded with content, but my brain is overloaded. I love you blog, and I want to keep my blog readers coming back for more, but I just am not in love with you. No, dear blog it's not you; it's me. I'm just not ready to be in blog relationship. Of course not blog. We'll still be friends. I promise to come back to you on Monday; but my other blog, Brea's blog, wants me to come over. So, I'm really sorry, blog you will have to sit ... empty, alone, blank, bereft, lonely and wordless.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Google Alerts Every Day and A-List Project Update

Wow! Here is a really cool goal. Get Google Alerts every day on my new book series California Girl Chronicles. Can you imagine the publicity built up when Google Alerts go out every day with your book title or name? You know you've reached a ground swell of interest when you get alerts every day of the week. I like this idea a lot. If you're reading this and don't know what is a Google Alert then please let me share. If you use Google you have alerts. You can set your alerts to a keyword like your name or title, and the little "spiders" on the Web crawl out and gather information associated with your name or title. It's super easy to use and free. As a publicist, I put client's keywords so I can track what is going on with their books and results we're getting. You don't have to be a publicist, though, to do alerts. Famous people and products have a deluge of alerts each day! I will know California Girl is a best-seller when she gets alerts every day -- so let's say my goal is to make that happen by March. Good goal. And we're on our way.

Last night, our producer friend took a copy of the book with the intention that if he liked it, he would give it to his CAA agent. I could get the book picked up without a script in hand. And in other very exciting news, we just got amazing feedback on the script Beauty School and we're on our way toward some kind of deal. The producers it is out to right now are heavy-hitter, A-list decision-makers. I loved with the producer said, he is only recommending it to buy and only to key decision-makers. I won't digress into the significance of that ... today!!

P.S., no more Liar Liar Pants on Fire. This producer is completely legit. I did my homework this time! And for the record, Laws of Attraction folks are in play. When Liar Liar Pants on Fire was "attracted" by someone else who will remain nameless, it was like attracts like if you catch my drift. Today, the only Law being applied is that of like attracts like and no one has the nickname of Liar Liar Pants on Fire!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Your Cake and Eat too ... Oh, and the Muffins Taste Great Too!

Whenever I hear other writers (who still have day jobs) complain they don't have enough time to write their novel or non-fiction book, I will eagerly try to explain how they can get it done. Most of the time, though, if they already have mental barriers to what I'm saying, they don't listen. Instead, they'll give me a worthwhile list of all the reasons why they don't have time. So, I'm going to debunk your excuses here really fast. First, you should never attempt to give me your litany of reasons why you can't get something done -- ever! Why? Wait till you hear what I manage to get done and how. So to make your jaws collectively drop, here is what I'm working on: three books (each are in the writing stage too, which is the one that I'm most actively involved in), one children's book that is almost ready for production, blogs (two for me and one for my client), newsletters (one for me that is weekly and two for clients), another book that is almost ready to go on press, and another book in development. Now if your eyes aren't popping out yet, let me also explain my own book California Girl Chronicles is being actively promoted, and I'm promoting Silent Voices and doing updates to Mr. Date Night. AND I am about two chapters away from the completion of book two in the California Girl Chronicles series. I'm not telling you this to impress you. I'm telling you this to impress upon you that you can do whatever you set your mind to doing! So, if you think sharing with me the dozens of reasons why you cannot finish your novel will get me on board to support you ... um ... nope! Oh, and I forgot to tell you, I manage my family in between. Quit making excuses! Set your mind to it -- and get it done!! If I can do it so can you! And no, I'm not super human; I'm super committed!! Here are three ways to set aside to write your book (yes, even with a day job ... I wrote California Girl after hours).

#1 -- Set aside regular writing time either early in the morning or late in the evening. Commit and stick to it. That is your time!
#2 -- Set a goal to get so many pages written during this writing time and don't stop until you achieve that goal. My goal is typically a chapter. If a chapter runs long, I split it in half and write it over two nights.
#3 -- Join a writers group to hold you accountable to your goal or use social media. Tell everybody your goal and engender their support. You would be surprised how accountability motivates you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Plumbing Party?

I get invited to so many events, I could spend my entire day at one event or the other. Social media floods invitations into my in-box daily. The funniest event I just got invited to was a "Plumber" party. Yes, did you read that right? A plumber is throwing a "plumbing" party. When my plumbing has risen to the status that it now qualifies for a party I just have to scratch my head and ask, "Really?" Why do I need to celebrate my plumbing? I guess I am just not giving enough reverence or revelry apparently to the kitchen or bathroom sink. I know I have to sit on the "throne," but really that's not a party either. What's next, a carpet party? Hey, how about a linoleum party? You know we can all get out on the dance "floor-ing". I mean really people, my plumbing, foundation or roof do not need a party. I'm just saying.

Tweet, Share, Like, Dislike, Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in -- Aaaahhh

Social media is a lot of work. I Tweeted that yesterday, but it is. I finally broke down and began to focus on my much-neglected Twitter account that had like two followers. I gradually over the last few days began to build up followers, and I imagine I will be working on that for the next few weeks. It wouldn't be so time consuming if I weren't also involved keeping my fan page going, sharing on Facebook, and occasionally accepting a new colleague on Linked-In. Lest we also forget that I'm blogging here and now I have Brea's blog going on Tumblr.com. It's madness I tell you. Yes, these accounts are linked (the first thing people say all of the time); but you can't simply link accounts and voile! Your time has been magically saved. Neglecting to follow people on Twitter only resulted in one thing -- no followers for me. Blogging is another task that you can't ignore. Heck! I blog every day and I'm still pining away over my lack of followers here (hint, hint). Finally you ask, "Why are you so committed if it takes so much time?" Because I need to demonstrate as I build the platform for California Girl Chronicles that I have a real following! I am marketing! I am building that valuable platform. And more importantly, I do for real have a following (hint, hint ... again LOL). What's the lesson for you? The same efforts with social media need to go into your book or business. Social media is the new marketing tool. You cannot neglect it. You cannot use it to promote your trip to the bar. You cannot avoid building a real following in favor of keeping only friends associated with it. Not having a social media presence is only comparable to having a business and not having a website. And don't gleefully raise your hand if you don't have one of those either (you don't look good ... I'm just saying).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sexy Vs. Erotica -- What's the Difference?

We interviewed a guy on our First Word radio show yesterday who discussed his various books, one of them was called Monogamy Sucks! which I thought the title was pretty funny. (P.S., that doesn't mean I agree with it I just found it entertaining). Turns out the book is about swinging. He started talking about erotica, and I suddenly realized that maybe California Girl Chronicles isn't quite as (a-hem) as "erotic" as I thought. I think I actually construed sexy with erotica, because the more he talked the more I realized I was completely tame in my book. It wasn't anything he said in particular, it was just the "liberal-glazed" tone of the discussion. In fact, I'm willing to bet my book is luke warm compared to the blazing hotness that his books may or may not be. Now my self-image has gone from, "Oh, look at me all open and sexy," to "Oh, how boring am I?" Actually not true. I was told by one reader, "Brea is better than Viagra," and another reader told me her husband is now reading chapters as a method of seduction. I guess the better comparison might be between soft core vs. hard core. What distinguishes erotica from contemporary romance is the better question? I think California Girl is contemporary romance that sizzles! Look! I made up a new genre. Aren't I endlessly clever?! (I'm so grinning right now.) I am going to make some assumptions here. I suspect pure erotica is hard-core ... kind of like espresso without milk! I think California Girl could be more compared to a sexy HBO show like True Blood where you don't have to use your imagination and it's romantic but doesn't stray into forbidden censored material. I have to say that season 4 of True Blood really had some soft-core moments between Sookie and Eric. For women, though, if you keep it in context of a great romance, we love it. I can't speak for men. Women do like their espresso hot and with some milk to cool it just a bit. You can purchase your own copy of California Girl Chronicles on the 3L website.

Monday, October 24, 2011

You Become What You Think Most About

Have you ever heard that phrase? Over the years, I've seen that phrase used to help people define success. I agree with it. I do think we all become what we spend the most time thinking about. Consider what that means for a second, and I think you will find it to be true. The real question, though, is what do you think most about? Be honest not with me but with yourself. Are you thinking positive, productive thoughts? Or are you deeply insecure, nervous and anxious about what you're doing? I always try to vigilantly watch what I'm dwelling on. I know it affects so much about what I'm working on. Right now in the early infancy of the launch of my book California Girl Chronicles, I am focused on creating the buzz around the book and making it a best seller. It hit me, though, that my private thoughts were more like: If it sells okay, I'll keep doing the series." I had to give myself a wake-up call on my own very low expectations about the book. Talk about not aspiring for the stars! If it sells well I'll keep doing it?! Really? I truly had to stop and adjust my mind. I figured I'm probably putting out that message unconsciously too. How about raising the bar, right? How about: I'm going to make California Girl Chronicles a best seller!! Now that's better. Do you see the importance of changing my thoughts! I need to project my confidence, excitement and commitment to series. A hopeful wish and prayer won't do it. My thoughts and actions need to be congruent. I need to stay focused on the real goal: doing what it takes to make my captivating book California Girl Chronicles a best seller. Help me do it! Purchase your copy on the 3L website today!! Show me I'm right about the power of intention!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Your Private Life Exposed

Hey, for those of you hanging in the spotlight, I have some advice. Maybe you ought not to run around the media revealing every detail of your private life or ... here's one ... your private feelings. When you're promoting a product, book or movie or whatever, you may be asked to reveal your personal feelings on either the subject at hand (or if you're a celebrity just in general). I know I'm the biggest party pooper in the world, but truly just because you think it doesn't mean you need to say it. I am astonished over some famous people who have total loose lips about their personal lives. Why does this matter? For one thing when you talk more about your personal life than what you're supposed to be promoting, the story becomes your personality and life not the product (again book, movie, etc.). The media is more interested in those personal and sometimes scintillating details than they are to help you move the product forward. Now if the book is about your private life then it will, in fact, be effective to promote it that way. But if your book is on auto racing and you're discussing your last girlfriend and your terrible breakup ... um! No! For celebrities who want to avoid the traps of just plain go no-where celebrity, those who avoid steering into their personal lives will, for the most part, keep their lives out of the tabloids. Because here is a vital piece of information. Tabloid stars are not necessarily movie stars ... anymore. Look at tabloid headliners like Lyndsay Lohan, tabloid topic du jour. What was the last movie you saw her star in? But I promise you her personal antics star in the headlines of tabloid trash. Now this isn't always the case, but if you want the focus to stay on the work -- and not have your personality and personal life define the work then keep it private. Why am I bringing this up? Because my new book is just being formally released. California Girl Chronicles is a titillating story of career, temptations and contains lots of sex. I've already had people ask me if Brea is me. For the record, no. And you will not see me revealing anything personal in the future except to comment on the story. I have no plans to blur the lines between real and imagined. I want my readers to stay focused on the book not on my private life. You can currently order a copy on the 3L website. Or check out Brea's Blog on Tumblr.com

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Strangest Contest: The Girl Who Takes the Best Drugs Sleeps with the Guy

“You came in with Drew?” she asked or said, whichever, because it sounded more like a statement to me since it was obvious who I had walked in the door with.
“Um, yes,” I said as I turned toward her.
“Yeah, I screwed him last time his band played on the Strip,” she said matter of fact like she was admitting she had just eaten a Big Mac, which unhinged me a little. “You want some X?” she asked as she extended the baggy with pills out toward me. “It will make your sex with him way better!”
I wanted to be sarcastic, but it wasn’t her fault he was a male ho-bag and she was a drug-using slut — or maybe it was her fault, that is, the drugs and slut part. “No thanks,” I replied.
“OK, but you know Drew likes drugs, right?” she said as if she and Drew were best buddies.
I really didn’t know what to make of this whole scene. Did she really know Drew? Or was this some kind of strange contest where the girl who takes the best drugs sleeps with the guy?

California Girl Chronicles is now on sale for $19.95 for the hard-cover edition while supplies last. You can purchase it on the 3L website until the end of October. It will be available on Amazon in November as an eBook or soft-cover edition. 

If you have read the book, please help us create a buzz around it. Tell your friends about it and tell them where they can get their own copies!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Since We're on the Subject ... Is this Even Possible?

All right so my new book California Girl Chronicles shows the other more feminine side of the sexual antics, I thought I would comment on an article I just read about celebrities and their "bed" count (and in some cases it might almost be as high as the sheet's thread count). One celeb was quoted as having had bedded some 20,000 women in his sexual career. Oh man! And oh my! How does one accomplish such a feat is the question of the day. I would imagine there are only so many days in the year. I'm thinking you're getting laid at least once, twice or thrice daily at least. I have a few important and critical questions about these bragging rights. One, how do you find the time? Two, how do you find all of the bed partners? Three, how do you have the energy? And four, isn't that maybe a little boring after a while? Just asking.

Just Write It Will Be Okay!

So many writers I know are so nervous, timid or fearful about their work. They don't feel the confidence to "just put it out there," as one writer said to me in the email. If you write and keep it private by choice that is fine. But if you write and feel too insecure, worried or nervous to show the world, what's the point? I do want to emphasize, if you write for fun and don't show people it really is fine. It's only when you have a desire to publish -- and you let your own concerns hold you back that it's time to just sit down, decide to write that first book, and get on with it. When you're done, if you truly are worried it's not good enough to "put out there" then have someone like a writing coach look it over and provide feedback. 3L Publishing provides coaching services (FYI) where writers get one-on-one attention, support, accountability and guidance to create their best work. What amazes me is that "talent" sometimes isn't even the defining point between getting published or not. I work with many non-authors who leverage our skills to publish a book, because their objective is to publish a book. These business people aren't taking the endeavor personally -- and that's the key. They see a book as a means to an end -- something to give them more opportunities. Other writers, interestingly enough, who are personally vested in their work are doing exactly what they should not do -- taking it personally. They are not looking at it like a business. They somehow falsely believe that their work will reveal something about a talent they thought they had -- and rejection will somehow suggest their belief about their abilities was false. A rejection would kick them in the face and send them reeling in disappointment. Am I right? You might be nodding right now. So here is my advice: If you want to be a novelist or a non-fiction writer, take your personal feelings out of it. In this case, it is business. Then you treat it like a business and do what it takes to succeed -- and if that includes a coach to help you make it your best professional attempt, then call us at 916-300-8012 or send an email to info@3LPublishing.com.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Making Great First Impressions

Fall comes to the Sierras.
Last night I went to the Reno chapter of eWomen to network and spent some time with some of my favorite gal pals. Kymberlee Symantel, executive director, gave an interesting presentation on first impressions. Did you know we have seven seconds to win people over with our first impression? Yes, seven whole seconds isn't much time. You would be surprised what can turn off people in so little time. Want to know some of the things on the list (and all of them do involve your senses): bad breath (so keep those little mints on hand), your appearance (women shoes ... scuffed shoes are out ... and wardrobe ... so get rid of those balled-up sweaters), overall appearance, too much perfume (strong smells), too loud or soft voices, personal space zone violations, and so much more. After you read that list, you may think it's any wonder we ever connect with anyone. What it really tells you is to go out and network or meet with clients and keep your very best appearance. Throw out clothes that make you uncomfortable or are ratty and abused; toss those old Payless shoes (please), and even watch what your handbag looks like. I know this one gal who brags how much money she makes and totes around this mangled purse. Even if you love that purse, get rid of it. It screams the opposite message than what you want to project.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Image Tips from 3L Publishing

Outfit courtesy of White House Black Market
Here is what I said at the California Girl Chronicles launch party: "You can't write a sexy book and then turn around and show up at your party and look like a frump." No, you can't wear a housecoat sorry friends. No curlers either. Oh, and forget the cigarette hanging out your mouth. Although in this day and age no cigarettes ever ... frump or not. No Wild Turkey in one hand either and a Tequila shot in the other. (Ugh can you imagine drinking those together?) Instead, you keep the image to match the book, and off you go to the likes of White House Black Market in the Roseville Fountains where Lynn Pearce's gang dressed me from head to toe. I wanted to be sexy but not slutty (wrong message too). It has to be believable that as the original "California Girl" from whom all the imagination and story comes from that you can honestly buy the idea that I know what I'm talking about. Your image is a part of the package. What you project matters. And yes, there is a vast difference between being sexy and chic and just tacky and cheap. I didn't write a book on being tacky and cheap, and I suppose I wouldn't have necessarily tried to project that image if I did. The bottom line: your image matters whether you're going in for a job interview or hosting your book launch party. Project the right one.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Paparazzi Parade

I read this comment yesterday that if you're on Twitter, people can follow you -- and when I say follow what I really mean is stalk! This social media expert was discussing how she would know exactly where someone was if he or she just Tweeted every day. I didn't realize you could figure out the person's location just by where they Tweeted. Is this true? And how? It elevates social media to a whole new level of stalker-azzi. I also was reading about paparazzi, and how now A-list stars' everyday activities can be captured nearly live, from getting up to eat breakfast in some random cafe to where they hang out and what they do all day. It didn't exactly make me feel all warm and fuzzy toward the idea of fame in the modern world. How seriously unsettling would it be that you could literally be stalked all day long? Doesn't sound the least bit enticing to me. I don't see this improving anytime soon, and it begs the question of privacy. I suppose you might not want to Tweet or Facebook for that matter if your posts trigger your location day in and day out. As for me, I'm going to stay behind the scenes and work on my books and screenplays and run 3L Publishing. Yeah, it's all fun and games until you're being stalked.

Monday, October 17, 2011

California Girl Party Recap

I'm definitely going to post the party pictures when they come in from the photographer who snapped away all night. The California Girl Chronicles book launch was a success. I thought for the sake of giving out tips, I'll share with you how I drew a crowd so if you have any kind of product or book launch, you can get the room buzzing.

1. Leverage social media -- I built an Event page and then took the time to invite my 1600 "friends" to the party. You should open your social media page to the public if you intend to build a real following. I don't use social media for my personal posts. I use it strictly to network. Because I use it for business, most people on there are networking with me.

2. Meetup.com -- I run a writer's group titled Writers Who Mean Business. I have about 340 members of the group. I made sure I posted the notice on the group page as well.

3. eVite -- My personal friends were invited using eVite. Notice I am not using any paper in this process. It's all electronic and works fantastic. Use eVite particularly when you want to discern who you invite and keep your party private.

4. Newsletter and Blog -- I posted the announcement and information in both my newsletter and blog. I also made sure I kept everyone updated on progress.

5. Timing -- I also made sure I posted my event announcement early but not too early to compete with other numerous events going on around town. I made sure I followed up the week of the event too.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gripe of the Week: Misquote from my Favorite Actor Alexander Skarsgård

   Okay folks, here is the original quote from Out magazine's October issue which interviews my favorite actor Alexander Skarsgård

   Skarsgård: When you're bored, just have sex.

  And here is how that got interpreted in other media outlets specifically the headline for The Superficial.com: When I'm bored I have sex. 

   First, if you read the whole article, it's obvious the comment is made in jest. Second, it takes on a whole new meaning when you say it the way the other media said it. Let me just opine that unfortunately, the misquoted version sounds more salacious, which is why they're saying it that way -- and now he will never live that one down. The point isn't so much about the sexy comment, the point is the responsibility of the media to at least get it right and in context. Maybe he does or doesn't have sex when he's bored, and so what anyway? Sounds like a great way to pass the time to me. It's just the yellow journalism that annoys me as a professional writer. I think if you're going to write anything and use a quote from another source, please at least take the time to get it right. I only noticed this because I did read the article and when I saw the other headlines, I kept thinking, "That's NOT what he said." 

   And believe me when I suggest I do know what I'm talking about. I worked on a magazine for 10 years and did a lot of freelance work. I went out of my way to ensure I recorded my interviews and quoted people correctly. Because over the years, I too have been interviewed in dozens of print and broadcast media, and only a handful of times have they misquoted me, but when they did, it really bugged me. I think as writers and journalists, it's our jobs to get it right. And it's our jobs not take a single quote and twist it just slightly to get mileage out of it for whatever salacious purpose. This little misinterpretation of a throw-away comment is not big deal in the scheme of things, but it is a big deal when it's a serious news story. 

   And there my Friend-Os is my soapbox gripe for the evening.

Writer's Tip: Devilish Details

I am coaching a book right now. The author showed great promise in her manuscript, but she was making two critical mistakes:

1. Rushing the story
2. Missing the specific details

I'm going to save story development for another blog. I want to talk about details versus minutia. New writers tend to write in general descriptions or they get too bogged down in minutia. Rich details are the difference between saying your character put on a green sweater vs. a green INC. cable-knit cardigan with the sweet yarn button on the front. The difference between tennis shoes and white Keds or maybe white-and-black nylon Nikes. Who would wear a pair of Keds? The type of shoe chosen says something about the character. She is preppy. Maybe she even wears cute, cuffed white socks with her Keds. What does that suggest: preppy and proper. What I commonly see are writers who simply say tennis shoes.

If the description gives the reader valuable information about the character or story, do it. If the description does not but gives the writer pleasure in writing it, throw it out. If describing that lemon meringue pie behind the counter does nothing more than establish that the character likes pie and is eating at a pie shop, keep it. Do not go on and on about the pie, the plates, the silverware and the cute bus boy who has nothing to do with anyone in the story. These pleasurable diversions only serve the purpose of entertaining the author, but do not propel the story or develop the characters. The reading experience becomes meandering and distracting. Your reader will probably give up before you've even taken them through chapter two.

When you read my new novel California Girl Chronicles, notice it's a clean read. It's told in the first person, and you'll notice few distractions in the storytelling. You'll taken on a literary tour through her world and experiences. The descriptions are there only to set place and give you an idea about what Brea likes or dislikes. You meet her friends and associates and you get to know them through her eyes only. Brea only knows what she's told. Early comments have been that readers like the simplicity of the story and that they couldn't put the book down. Why is that? Because readers are not being distracted by too many details and unnecessary minutia. Those two mistakes alone bog down the story and should be avoided if you want to keep the experience captivating. Of course, captivating your audience is a whole other discussion too. Till next time ...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Unlikeable Hero or Heroine

As a writer, I always watch movies from that perspective. I watched the new movie Melancholia last night, which is the newly released film by Lars von Trier, the outspoken writer and director. The beginning of the film was a beautiful surreal exploration of the character and situation in images. Strangely enough it reminded me of the beginning of A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick what with the music and processional of images. I felt like I had walked into a surrealist museum. I haven't thought of surrealism in years, but I used to have a Salvadore Dali poster hanging in my cubbie when I worked in corporate. It was my small rebellious artistic statement about how much I hated being in "drone" world, which thankfully I am no longer. The movie is an usual story about the end of the world told in parts. Part I: Justine is about her descent into depression on her wedding day. I was intrigued. The darker she got, the more unlikeable she became as a heroine in the story, which begs the question of this blog. You walk a very fine line when you make your protagonist unlikeable. The moment she crossed the line over to ditching her sweet and caring brand new husband Michael to go have sex with some earnest young man she just met, she definitely became not so much an enigma but just downright unappealing. Trying to understand her motives for despicable behavior was difficult because you didn't really have her back story. Hints were dropped here and there, but without those missing pieces you could hardly feel sorry for her. The only person I felt sorry for was Michael, who you catch a glimpse of looking at her walk back up to the house after her emotionless tryst on the front lawn. You wonder if he saw what she did too, because a little later he comes down with a bag and leaves. You're left wondering why in the heck she married him to dump him less than hours into the reception. Then the movie moves into the second half and the end of the world.

Well, I didn't intend to do a movie review as much as a contemplation on making unlikeable characters. You have to walk a fine line when you're writing a character who is the protagonist and main subject of the story. If part of the story requires the character to do and say things that don't reflect on him or her in a flattering light then you risk alienating your readers and audience. In my opinion, if you're writing something where you're not planning to redeem him or her in the story, you might make that person a supporting player in the storytelling. Rooting value rarely lies in the character people don't like. It's one thing to love to hate a character or hate to love a character, but if you just don't outright like them, it's hard to hold the audience. I've grappled with this question in California Girl Chronicles. As I've explored the character of Brea (now in book two), I have carefully constructed her actions to never go over a certain line. As you read her, you know she has foibles but it's important to keep her motivations in the right place. While she's rather hapless, she is really deep down seeking the common desire we all share -- love. She's anchored as a person because she's not maliciously making mistakes -- she's just misguided. I definitely hit points in writing her, though, where as I developed the character arc I had to ask critical questions about when it had gone too far and she might become unlikeable. If the answer was vague then I went on the side of conservative so that I would not completely erode her inner goodness. Brea always has heart ... you'll see.

On a final note, Alexander Skarsgård played Michael. He is my favorite contemporary actor, and I am looking forward to seeing more of him in the future. He has one of the most expressive faces and eyes I've seen in a long time. The part of the rejected husband Michael gave him one of the first roles where I've seen him vulnerable and real. You can hardly play "real" when you're a vampire on True Blood. When Justine spurs Michael it was just sad. At one point Michael gives Justine a picture I presume of an apple orchard on some property they just bought. They seemingly connect and bond, and Justine professes she'll keep the picture with her always and proceeds to leave the picture laying on the sofa. The look on Michael's face was one of being caught off guard and then a profound realization of what that meant. It was so sad! Kudos out to the incomparable Skarsgård who I suspect is going to end up with one of those gold statues sooner or later. Because the worst scene comes when during their wedding night when an attempted seduction goes awry and poor Michael is left dejected and alone on their bed. The funny little detail that I caught was when he pulls up his black sock. It was a rich, little detail that said something awkward about the character. Fantastic!!! Like I tell writers all of the time -- details people. Specific details!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Like Sex and Candy

So, now that I've written this erotic romance, California Girl Chronicles, and it's slowly weaving out to its audience, I've become reflective about it ... after the fact. Hmm ... maybe I should have been more pensive about before the fact. I am actually a little nervous about the critics. I've been very careful to position the book in the press as pure "candy". Why am I nervous? Well, if you review this book from a serious literary perspective I'm afraid you're in for a big letdown. If you read the book from an expectation that you'll have a good time then it's all A-okay. I wrote California Girl Chronicles as pure escapist fun. I also decided to be erotic with the sex without going into porno. The decision was a business choice. We are a funny culture. We're still repressed about sexuality in many ways, but at the same time, we just love our "sex and candy"; we just don't like to admit it. I've decided that like using Botox, I'm just going to confess it -- and there she's goes. The public confession comes your way via my book. I've started joking around (although I'm not really joking) that I don't like to use my imagination. And I bet while many of you wouldn't be so open about it, you don't like to either. I say let's see the romance and the sex -- that's okay with me. I don't want anything hardcore (now that's the plain truth) but I do like to see my favorite romantic characters get entangled. It's fantasy and fun. In the course of writing my book, I found that it was (and is since I'm writing book two) a blast to write. What do they say, no tears in the writer no tears in the reader? Well, if the writer isn't having fun how can she expect the reader to enjoy the ride?

And then at the end of the day, the decision to write the book was, in fact, a business decision. Did you know that 56% of all eBooks sold are in the romance genre? The eBook market is growing at a rapid clip. Right now, it's at about $18 million expected to rise to $40+ billion (yes, that with a B) in 2015. While erotic romance isn't considered mainstream fiction, a large part of that market will want to NOT use their imaginations (just like me) -- and hence, I anticipate some fantastic sales on California Girl. So, here is the deal: If you want to just have fun, read something frothy, and not use your imagination, order your advanced copy of California Girl on the 3L Publishing website.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Who Needs an Editor? You do! I do! We all Need an Editor

Most authors are surprised to find out the hardest part of the publishing process is not writing the book. Want to know the hardest part? It's the final proofing. Getting a book completely cleaned up and error-free is no small job. In my opinion, it is absolutely the hardest part of the job. What people generally don't understand is that there are several editorial roles on most publications. Authors generally have no idea the differences in those roles -- and the proofer has the hardest job of all. To help you understand the editing process, here are the roles you commonly see (and if you look on magazine mastheads you'll see these roles broken down):

Editor in Chief -- this person decides the broad content and takes a more global role on the publication. He or she manages the scope and reach of the publication. When you see the specific stories in the publication, the editor in chief probably didn't decide on the specific stories as much as he/she approved and watched over management of the issue. In the book world, the editor in chief would approve the book being accepted at all and ensure the overall quality is acceptable. The editor in chief stays out of the weeds.

Managing Editor -- this role holds the business process. The managing editor typically assigns and maintains the relationship with the staff. You will not see a managing editor do much hands-on editing. He/she will manage schedules, production deadlines and people. The back-end business processes typically are the responsibility of the managing editor.

Editor -- the average editor gets into the weeds of the stories. He/she will be actively involved in making sure stories or books are well-written, organized and make sense. The editor will get in and revise content and clean up weaknesses.

Copy Editor aka proof reader -- this is the one with that hard job. Final grammar and spelling checks go through this person. The copy editor is often a fact checker too.

Those critical readers aka the grammar police (my name for those picky individuals that for one reason or another decide to make it their jobs to police our books) will be hard on authors when they find mistakes. I always become very annoyed with the grammar police and would challenge the "officers" to show a little more understanding when we're dealing with (on average) 50,000 individual words in a single document. Imagine the challenge of getting 50,000 words absolutely right each and every time. Until you've had that responsibility, I would caution you to throw "stones". We certainly do our utter best to ensure our manuscripts are as clean as possible, but every now and again, we show our "humanity" and miss one in 49,999 words. If you feel morally superior because you happen to find one of those mistakes then let me see you do proof a 50,000 word book! Perfectly!!! And for the record, I see mistakes in books published by the big corporate machines all of the time.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tips to Achieve Your Goals

Everything always works out in both life and business. You have to learn to just go with it and know that if you're meant to be doing something (you're following your passion), you will continue to prosper. I am supposed to be on this path, I know this without a doubt. How? From the very first day I decided corporate wasn't for me, I have easily attracted business. It has never been all that difficult. I'm not saying I haven't had my ups and downs, but nothing has ever challenged me to where I couldn't resolve it and put it away. Every time, I start to get nervous these days, I put away the feelings and keep moving forward. I think that is the trick: don't dwell and keep moving and forging ahead. I was out in 3L's storage area, which resembles a warehouse in Barnes and Noble, and my friend said, "How could you ever feel like you're not success? Look around! In many ways, you have done more than most people you know." I looked at my warehouse full of books and nodded. That's not it, though. I am continuing to challenge myself. I have some big goals for the year. Am I going to worry about it? No! Am I going to push those goals forward? Every single day!

Goal #1: Make California Girl Chronicles the next best-seller in contemporary romance. You all can help me with that by buying your own copy!
Goal #2: Get the script Beauty School sold and produced into a comedy by attracting the right people to the project.
Goal #3: Get California Girl Chronicles written into a pilot to be pitched to Showtime or HBO (prefer HBO).

What are your goals? Do you know them like I do? If you don't, you should. And remember, if you're following your passion and actively going for it, you can't lose. P.S., I am a huge networker. If you know someone who can help me push my goals forward, email me at michelle@3LPublishing.com.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Never Ask Permission and a Star Will be Born

Maybe it's the way I think, but I don't ask permission if I want to do something. I don't run around and ask people what they think of what I'm going to do. I don't ask anyone anything, I just do it. Every book I've written, I didn't ask anyone what they thought about whether or not I should do it. I didn't survey. I didn't query. I just wrote. In all fairness, I do review the market and study what's selling. I do this on my own. When I decided to write California Girl Chronicles, it was a market-driven decision that kind of went backwards, which is unusual for me. We were watching a show on CNN and a ticker said the eBook market was rapidly growing -- and of that rapidly growing market opportunity, 56 percent of those sales were going to the romance market. And thus, a California Girl was born. I had tinkered with thoughts of doing a novel, but I didn't specifically know where I was going to take it. And the wonderful title of the series, like so many other titles, just popped into my mind. For the record, I am a true California girl myself born and raised in the Golden State. I am also a screenwriter. And again for the record, that is all my heroine and I have in common. The rest is pure fiction. Brea is so hopelessly misguided. She is the dark side of judgment. Her conflicts and failing come from a lack of self-control. She's missing brakes, but what I love about the character is that she's a hopeless romantic that while she can't seem to find the emergency brakes, she does stupid things out of seeking love. Books are just now starting to weave into circulation, but the true release date for the eBooks is November and print will release in January. For those of you who hit the cliffhanger, no worries. Brea's Big Break, book two, releases next spring. I will give you a few spoilers. The second book delves into the politics of Hollywood, and you get to spend time on the set with Brea. She also takes some wild adventures with her new boy toys. If you would like a copy of the current book, it's available on 3L's website while supplies last. Otherwise, you'll have to wait until January for the print version.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Amen!

"There is no reason not to follow your heart. Stay hungry. Stay foolish." ~ Steve Jobs

I love that quote, and it mirrors a conversation we had on First Word Radio yesterday about doing what you want to do with your life. I don't believe in asking permission. If I want to do something, I figure out how to do it. I've spent a lifetime actively pursuing my passions. 3L Publishing exists because I didn't want to turn my first book over to a publisher that I didn't feel could do a better job than I could. After that book Second Bloom came out and won awards including an honorable mention from Writer's Digest, other authors started asking me to publish their books. The question wasn't "no," it was: Why not? Almost overnight I had achieved a dream without even making it a goal in the first place. I was simply following my passion. When you follow your passion the rest will follow. Now I've gone after another goal: to write a novel and here sits California Girl Chronicles. As the publisher of the company, I am sitting in the cat-bird seat. Yes, I had to invest my own resources in my book, but I get 100 percent of the royalties. I considered taking her to a traditional publisher, but that seemed ridiculous. At this point, a traditional publisher cannot do more for my book then I can with my team and resources. 3L Publishing is now in a relationship with world-famous Bakers and Taylor -- the distributor to major bookstores across the U.S. who supplies to Barnes and Noble. While a bigger publisher might have more muscle to move the books, I would still have to hire a publicist. Well, one of my team members is my publicist, and she's doing a spectacular job. She just got Allure magazine to request the book, and I already had a dozen other reviewers lined up as well. What's my point? I do what I want. I chase my dreams. I don't let anything get in my way. Next up: our contact is going to hand California Girl over to his contacts at HBO and Showtime. And Beauty School, our latest script, is under consideration with two key producers who have already said they liked it. We're on our way. It's all about taking the adventure. Are you ready for a great adventure?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Commentary on Social Media

I've decided my new job is be the commentator on this whole social media revolution and how it has changed our culture. We'll start with the most entertaining influences:

Vernacular -- have you notice that we have a whole new set of expressions? We are no longer just friends with people. No, now the noun is a verb. We "friend" people. Back in high school English had I turned in a paper about friendship where I "friended" everyone in the story, I would have it turned back to me with a lot of red marker on it. Don't forget that you can also "de-friend" or "un-friend". We don't befriend anyone these days. Maybe we could use that one? I need to you to "be-friend" me ... hmm ... still a verb, huh. Then we have Twitter where we have turned into a flock of "Tweeters". I thought Tweety was a yellow bird that Sylvester chased for dinner. I really didn't know humans could Tweet. I thought we talked. Wow! I guess I don't know anything, do I?

Head Shot -- just 10 years ago, the only time you needed a head shot was for the corporate annual report. No one cared much about their head shots. I can promise you this: The CEO in that annual report did not ever post a picture of his bare chest with a wink. Now both men and women seem to think nothing of using everything from weird, little cartoons to bras to post in place of a standard head shot. Like everyone else, I like creativity and I wouldn't want to see a bunch of conservative head shots. (And I know I've said this a hundred times already.) But how is it that we've gone from creative and interesting  profile pictures to just seedy and why did you use that shot? I've never seen so many people falsely believe that a hairy chest or a bikini make a great profile picture -- and this is for their businesses! And even if it were just personal, we seem to have a generation just eager to show the world their bikini bods.

Social Media for Children -- this might create a debate, which is healthy, but my teenage son does not get a Facebook or Myspace of any other place page until he's an adult. I can't describe how many different reasons why he is not going to build his own page. For the sake of argument, though, let me list just a handful: predators, bullies, weirdo adults who pose as bullies, bad judgment, harassment, predators (oh, yeah I said that one), bad judgment (yes, said that one too ... but remember teenagers are both hormonal monsters and their undeveloped frontal lobes just beg for stupidity). While you might argue that he needs to learn these tech skills, let me argue back. He has tech skills. He is the one who fixes my computer when it's going mad. Heck, the boy fixes the school's computers too. He knows what social media is -- and he doesn't need to get involved in it. No, it won't screw him up for life. Will it keep him out of all of the potential messes that it can cause young people, well let me repeat, bad judgment. Yes!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An Expectation of Privacy for the Most Vulnerable

I am writing this in reaction to a fellow writer who changed her kid's names for her public writing. I want to praise her! I thought I was the only one who protected her children from the glare of the spotlight. It is a rule in my house that I do not discuss my family or children in public. While I do drop a few cute tidbits here and there, I firmly believe that the littlest members of my household have a right to privacy. First, we all know there are predators out there. My daughter, in particular, is very, very charismatic and beautiful. I don't want her photographed and out on display for unscrupulous people to see. Second, my children did not actively ask me to talk about them in public. It's one thing if I used social media for private use, but I use it professionally, which means I have connections to over 1,600 people most of whom I don't know. I also treat my children much the same in my newsletters and blog. I have no desire to exploit them or say something that while I might find harmless as an adult, they might not later on or it might somehow embarrass them (and God only knows what a kid can get embarrassed about). Remember, the Internet is like nuclear waste: it never goes away. While some of you might think I'm uptight, I don't care. The protection of the most vulnerable people in my life matters more. I have chosen a public life -- they have not. And until they do you won't be reading about them anytime soon.

Ode to Steve Jobs

I remember this perfectly. I was 21 years old at San Jose State University, and I was taking a public relations class as part of my degree program. In the class, which I don't remember the name of it, we had to create our own brochures. The instructor told us we had to design the brochures on boards, which seems insane to me today. He demonstrated how we could create headlines on this new beige box called the Mac. Of course, I had seen computers, but the Mac was new and looked different. It was this small box with a tiny screen. You could use a piece of software called PageMaker to create limited graphics using fonts. I was impressed and intimidated all at once. About three years later, I worked for a publishing company and what did I have sitting on my new desk? A little Mac SE. For the next four years, I abused my Mac SE writing hundreds of articles for the now defunct California Computer News. The Mac SE, unfortunately got replaced with a PC (groan), and I had been marched to the infamous "Dark Side" as all techies liked to call Microsoft Windows. Years went by. I missed my Mac. After I started 3L Publishing and four broken PCs later, I decided to treat myself to the "Cadillac" of computing and buy a brand-new Mac to "decorate" my desk, because let's face it. The Mac is pretty. I completely rebelled at that point, and now my technology is completely Apple-driven. I have an iPhone, Macbook Air, an old Mac laptop for my kids, and an iPad. The technology, as all Apple products tend to be, is elegant. Photos artfully float and slide into place in your email. It all just seems to "glide" about the screen. Now that the great visionary Steve Jobs has passed, I wonder what will become of my elegant company. Yes, he and Steve Wozniak invented the first Apple Computer, but it was Jobs, who long after "Woz" left the company, continued to bring his far-reaching vision to this graceful, beautiful technology. Of course, I never met this amazing man, and last year when I spotted photos of how rail thin he looked, I sensed his days were number. Now I imagine the great Steve Jobs in heaven -- the eternal innovator. If we're going to have heros and people to admire in this culture, Jobs is one of them. He deserves our hero worship! Ah, Mr. Jobs you will be missed!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Internet – Five Reasons I Can’t Live Without Thee

#1 Pandora – All music is piped in through Pandora. I work listening to music in the background all day. I have my favorite channels. My New Age channel is all instrumental music for when I’m writing (words colliding with words doesn’t work for my word-addled brain). No Internet means I must resort to (egads) CDs or my iPod. (Notice my priorities here <grin>.

#2 Email – I monitor email in the background behind my working screen. It’s how I stay proactive and responsive. My responsiveness has helped make 3L Publishing’s reputation. Now I have to use my iPhone, but I completely hate typing long missives on that tiny pad.

#3 Web – How do I do all my research for all of the books? On the Web, of course, who goes to libraries anymore? Who has time? I can sit right at my desk and do all the research I want.

#4 Social Media – I try to post to the social media at least once and sometimes twice a day. No Internet and I go back to that tiny iPhone type pad again. Didn’t I just complain about that?

#5 Marketing Tools – From my account on Constant Contact to my blog, I need the Internet access operational to use my templates. And most importantly I can’t get into my Vocus account where our media lists are contained – this is a big minus point.

Bonus Point: How can I watch my favorite You Tube Channel MyFutureLover without the Internet? I can’t “Ship Eric and Sookie! Speaking of that, anyone know what the heck “Ship” means? The moderator of this channel completely cracks me up with her “interruptions” and “commentaries”. If I had a few more hours to spare, I might create my own “Ship Brea and Kale” channel for California Girl Chronicles, but I still wouldn’t know what the whole “ship” thing means.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Is this All Women Care About?

Today's curiosity: Why do almost 90 percent of all women's magazine feature nothing but beauty products?  Is that all women care about? According to publisher's row in NYC, it sure looks that way. Here is what I've learned as I've gamely pitched PR campaigns to women's interests magazines. Did you know that beauty products are wearable? Yes, there is a category called "Wearable Beauty Products." I see that "specialty" listed under the responsibilities of many women's book editors. I am assuming when we say wearable, we're talking about jewelry? But how is jewelry a beauty product? It looks good on? For some reason when I visualize wearable beauty products, I flash to a backpack loaded with cosmetics. Oh speaking of cosmetics, that my girlfriends is yet another popular category. We women seem to have a popular interest in cosmetics, as many editors write about nothing but make-up. It did flash through my mind today also that you just don't see any male journalists who write about black eyeliner. Other assortment of interests apparently captivating to women are celebrities and what they wear. Dozens of editors cover that topic too.

Do you know how hard it is to pitch a serious women's book? When we apparently live in a culture where women only care about skin care and mascara, not many magazines cater to more literate and business-like subject matter. As I was culling through the women's media, I realized I really ought to get cracking on my next beauty book -- because it seems that's all that women care about. Is that really true? I suppose by sheer number of publication dedicated to these subjects, it sure must be. What does that say about us?

Kitty Klingon

A good friend of mine suggested a fantastic way to take out my frustrations with certain people. She said I should just make them characters in my books. This suggestion made me laugh. I have this one fly that I can't seem to shoo away that has been using references to 3L as keywords. I noticed because I monitor Google pretty carefully to manage our image. Well, the pest has decided it's perfectly OK to stay "hitched to my wagon" by using our name in keywords for some online material. Those of you who know me, know exactly who I am talking about. We'll call this one Kitty Klingon. Here is a message to Kitty: focus on your own company. There how easy was that. No need to use 3L in reference to anything. The last thing I saw was some online business card in which Kitty used 3L as a keyword for searching. Here is another message Kitty: notice how 3L has zero affiliation with you. Hmm ... we could do the same thing and throw that keyword in yet (big shock), we're not interested in being affiliated with Kitty!! Kitty really doesn't know how to properly use our sandbox and did nothing but kick crap out of it. Kitty got sent to the pound a long, long time ago. So, Kitty insists on being a Klingon, we don't get it. Go away! Don't use my company for keywords. Pretend we don't exist. And we promise: we'll pretend you don't either.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Haters, Part II

My post about the hateful behavior that comes out when people feel the "power" of being anonymous online sparked a response from several readers. Many of my readers applauded my post questioning the belligerent, nasty and hateful comment threads I commonly read online. I got asked if I get haters bothering 3L Publishing. The answer to that question is that I do receive the rare, unsolicited comments. I don't take any of it personally, though. People who dare to write spite and hate are not typically my friends or allies (obviously). Most of my true associates in my network wouldn't dare to say some of the nasty things I've read spewed out there. We did have this so-called "watchdog" group go at 3L pretty aggressively. I am sharing this because frankly I found it sort of funny. To be clear, the woman who runs the group has never worked with us. She never spoke to us. And she doesn't know a single client. She spoke out of turn and incited a flame war on her board and then acted innocent about it. Now it's not funny but if you have a sense of humor, you just have to laugh. Some of these flamers (again, who I have never met or spoken to) called 3L a litany of "L" words that were mean-spirited. I never thought that having an "L" in the company name could be so inspiring to the imaginations of some bitter minds. I suddenly floated back to the first-grade playground. Really? And if you're a moderator who attracts readers who would flame at that level, you ought to wonder about what you're doing. You've attracted a legion of haters! What do they say, "Birds of a feather ..." If I was at all concerned about my image, I might question why I attract such hate. This woman was so caught up in defending her right to spread misinformation, she disconnected from the fact that she had corrupted her own board with just nasty comments from her readers. It never occurred to her she was responsible for what people were saying and speaking out of turn. Yet she started the thread, maintained the discussion, and was apparently not at all bothered that she was creating a forum for people to spread misinformation and just nasty comments. I frankly would never allow that on this blog. I would delete comments that were unproductive and inaccurate -- but I suspect flamers and people like this woman don't care. We need to start caring. We need to get back to basics here. What you learned in kindergarten ... remember? My daughter comes home all of the time and shares how she is learning about respect, courtesy and friendship. It's very cute. In her second-grade class when friends have a disagreement they can discuss it and apologize by using the "Friendship Rose" as an offering to say "friends again." Maybe we all need a "Friendship Rose" in cyberspace.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What is it about haters?

What is it about digital communication that just brings out the worst in people? I promise you back in the old days when people wrote letters to each other, they did not go out of their way to write a spiteful, nasty missive about what a "bitch" someone is or is not or how "lame" or "stupid" and any other negative, nasty pejorative they can come up with. This popped into my mind, because I was reading some chat areas and noticed an abundance of hateful messages. What is about the computer and Internet that just puts a whole new spin on the word "spew"? The freedom to show your hatefulness just because you've never met the other person is so stunning to me. We use the computer to communicate and lose our good manners. Some of the nasty comments aren't even necessary or relevant. It's like somebody taking out their every negative thought and vomiting it at the invisible audience on the other side. I just don't get it. I also recently read an online reporter, who for no apparent or good reason, completely called a very popular and well-respected actor a lot of names and referred to this person as "Euro-trash." The reporter, who didn't even know said actor, received numerous responses to his needless attack. All the reporter did was alienate his readers -- and for no good reason. Like I said, we have lost our manners when it comes to electronic communication. We feel free to be as nasty and vitriolic as possible. And it's sad and shameful. Maybe we should rethink our need to behave like this just because we're hidden behind the glow of our computer screens.

Three Biggest Marketing and PR Blunders

Here are some the most common mistakes I see companies makes when marketing or promoting their businesses. In fact, some of these mistakes are so common it's completely shocking that these companies continue to repeat the same blunders. Or maybe the companies that do make these mistakes come and go -- and someone else picks up the baton to continue to the next marker. So, without further adieu, here are some of those blunders that hopefully your company will not perpetuate.

Non-targetted, non-specific event invitations to everything from the steak cook-off to the community weight-loss event. I am invited to hundreds (no exaggeration) of events per day, especially on Facebook. What I've noticed is a complete lack of consideration or discretion as to who these groups invite. Business people literally blast invitations to community weight-loss events to someone like me who is not in the least in need of such an event. They invite vegetarians to BBQs. No research or thought goes into these invitations. It's like throw something out and hopefully something will bite. And maybe someone might bite, but more times than less, I noticed these event organizers don't have much success. Be specific, target your mailing lists, and your results will be that much greater.

Porn star pictures in place of attractive head shots. This ridiculous rise of the sexy, weird or bizarre head shots in place of a standard business portrait or even logo on social media has arisen primarily on social media. Unless it's a personal page, your Vaseline-hazed porn shot has no place on your business or social-media page. A glamour shot in place of a nice head shot ... no place either. Your bare chest or just your little cartoon icon that borders on strange and creepy should be reserved only for comic book sellers and not your website, brochure or social media page. If you've put a hazy glamour shot on your page, ask yourself what really is your objective? To get sexually harassed? Because the underlining message with those kinds of head shots is not what a business woman or man should be putting out to other serious-minded business people. It sends the absolute wrong message -- you are not a serious business person but you are seriously trying to meet the opposite sex ... in the workplace! I can hear human resources groaning as I write this.

Big hat no cattle. This mistake involves a lot of grand intentions and a lack of follow through. I see companies or individuals all revved up. They're going to blog. They're going to produce a newsletter. They're going to do three PR campaigns a year. They're going to post on social media on a regular basis. Then they spend possibly thousands of dollars to develop the collateral and templates. And like any excited toddler, they play with their new toys for all of a month or two, and boredom soon sets in. Pretty soon, the blog has a six-month old date stamp from the last post; the newsletter actually got written twice; and the social media turns into a non-stop distraction in Farmville. If you're going to commit to really doing marketing, do not leave your "cattle" unattended. What will happen is your best intentions and lack of follow through will make it look like you've gone out of business, and it will have the opposite effect from what you intended.