Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lizzie Olsen and the Rumor Mill and California Girl Chronicles

Here is more grist for the rumor mill to grind out unfounded speculation and fun ... the kudos of the day go to Lizzie Olsen and her wonderful response to the speculation that, um, a conversation with a single man equals a relationship. Good for you Ms. Olsen for responding with a perfectly "smarty" answer to a stupid question. Whether or not she is or is not newly dating the incomparable Alexander Skarsgard is completely none of anyone's business anyway. Besides, her response was right on the money. Truthfully, even if they've shared a date or two that hardly comprises a "relationship." A date, a flirtation, an interest ... yes. A relationship not so much. Good God this is the same press that criticizes celebrities like Kim Kardashian for getting married and divorced faster than I got up this morning and yet is ready to put two people in a conversation off to the chapel. So, why do I care? Well, the unwanted attention and her recent appearance at the awards shows put Lizzie on my map. We've been considering for quite sometime who should play Brea in the California Girl Chronicles TV series that we're developing, and I'm just saying ... blond, beautiful, smart ... hmm ... might have found our Brea. Out of the gossip mill rises a potential actress for Brea. And ironically, my production partner Sonja sent me a note the exact same day suggesting the exact same thought! Ah, the Universe at work!

The Cure for the Business Blues

Fresh off a wonderful lunch with a colleague, I decided to come back to the office and blog about the importance and value of networking in business. My colleague has run into some serious barriers in her business. She's either been confronted with people who essentially want to pay her $20 to write an entire magazine article or $10 for a newsletter or get no business at all. First, readers and business people, do you have any idea how insulting it is to pay a highly educated, skilled professional $20 for an 800-word article? While some folks don't value writers and think we do this out of sheer passion and love for the craft, the truth is we have to eat. People pay their babysitters more than $20. So faced with either being devalued or not finding work, she was considering a move back to corporate. I decided to give her the "chin-up-young-grasshopper" talk and discuss what she could be doing to avoid the collision course with the worst-case scenario. Those of you business people out there who are struggling with lack of work, these tips apply.

Relation Building Once Solely Known as Networking. You have to get out of your comfort zone, get out there and network. People do business with people they know and like.  If someone has a dollar to spend who do you think they want to spend it with? The unknown business owner they have never met and don't care about or the friendly face they see at least once a month at their networking event? You have to get out there, shake hands, and make friends. It sounds like what they tell you in college, doesn't it? People hire people the know and like.

Show up. It's not enough to go to one event and disappear. You have to consistently show up. Show your face. Give people a chance to get to know you. Maybe they don't have business for you yet, but perhaps they might know someone who needs your services. Again, who are they going to recommend? The woman they've never met and saw in an advertisement or the good friend they've come to know and care about from their networking group?

Follow up. It's not enough to show up. Make sure you have a follow-up mechanism. I use my weekly newsletter to stay in touch with people. Most readers just enjoy reading it and following me. But here is the essential truth: maybe this reader doesn't have a project right now, but maybe a year from now, they do. Who are they going to turn to? The publisher and PR specialist they've never met or the woman who consistently entertains and informs them each week with valuable information?

Consistency. Finally, whatever you do, be consistent and persist. Keep showing up and following up every week or month. You don't have to overtly sell. You can just be the familiar, friendly face or the woman everyone turns around and smiles and says, "Michelle! Good to see you!"

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's Official: Alan Ball Steps Down From True Blood After Season 5

I can hear some fans cry out in sorrow while I can hear the fans who hate the pairing of Sookie and Bill sigh a great relief under the belief that Alan Ball's influence over that couple will end. I frankly adore anything Alan Ball touches. I admired, loved and esteemed Six Feet Under as a seamless work of TV art, and I believe True Blood wouldn't have half its multiple and colorful layers if it weren't for Ball's savant storytelling genius. So with the announcement of his exit from the show, I hope he leaves behind a legacy of gifted storytellers who learned from the Yoda himself. I might not always like the direction of the show, especially in the last portion of Season 4, but I believe it was and will remain a high-quality show. I don't think the writers will want to try and put their own stamp on a tried-and-true show that is the second highest rated show in HBO history following only after the incomparable Sopranos.

I am such a fan of Ball's impeccable work that I own all the box sets of Six Feet Under and True Blood; I also own an old copy of American Beauty. In my opinion, Alan Ball cannot go wrong. He knows how to tell not just a great story, but a compelling, memorable and colorful story that resonates emotionally and touches something deep down inside of all of us. His work in so many ways is poetry albeit in True Blood's case often campy poetry. Even in the case of telling Marnie's story, it's secretly a story about bullying on the playground. What happens to the misfit or girl who is abused, can't fit in, and becomes embittered? That is really the "wicked witch's" story as seen through the lens of True Blood and Ball's endless and relentless imagination. So, he's tired and stepping down. You know what Mr. Ball, I get it! I'm a writer, too. I've got multiple projects boiling all at once. Some days you're pursuing all of your goals and enjoying the ride. Other days, you're just a little burned out. I only wish that as he considers other HBO projects, he would ask to see the California Girl Chronicles TV series Bible. You see my dream! With Ball in charge of my project, it would be as complex as it rightly should be! So be tired genius storyteller, but don't retire ... not just yet. The world awaits your next hugely fabulous project!!

What to Expect from Your Publicist

I often joke that public relations is much too much like Tinker Bell's fairy dust. You sprinkle on the dust and hope for the magic to happen. When promoting a book, you actually have to rely more on basic analytics and measurable results to understand how and where to promote the book. I've discovered over the past several years that you have to determine which promotional channel (online, print or broadcast) will produce real sales. Here is what I've found overall about each of the channels.

Radio -- lots of radio guest appearances are good for cementing the brand name. Radio appearances don't typically trigger sales. They spread the word about the book and cement brand recognition. Books that go into the bookstores will profit from this name and brand recognition. The casual Amazon browser might buy a "familiar" sounding title. Don't expect your book sales to rise right after a radio show appearance.

Blogs and Online Magazines and Newspapers -- bloggers can have a very heavy influence on book sales, especially Amazon sales. I've seen books in our catalog like A Feast at the Beach greatly benefit from blog reviews. In fact, larger blog reviews can trigger tremendous sales with the results being a book that can go all the way to no. #1 on Amazon in its categories. The key is to find the right niche blogs targeted toward the reader audience of interest.

TV -- now I've been told big TV appearances can trigger sales, but I have frankly never seen a TV appearance even on a national news show dent sales. We do all know, though, that one appearance on Oprah could turn a book into a bestseller. The only time I saw a TV show trigger sales was when an author got a syndicated spot that aired in all of the major markets. So, like the blogs, you want to reach as many viewers in the MAJOR markets to make a difference.

Now add the dust -- here is the reality: you really don't know what is going to make a great PR campaign. You have to leave it up to the great experimentation of trying everything and seeing what really works. You have to identify the effective promotional media and not continue down a track that while it gets attention and placements doesn't produce real results in terms of sales. You do want brand exposure, though, so you will want to mix it up in favor of what produces sales.

If you would like to hire 3L Publishing to provide your book publicity services, send an email to

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fame Means Never Picking, Poking or Touching in Public

I am having fun looking at all of the pretty people photographed at the Oscar parties, and I notice a photo of a rather famous guy "tugging his boys" and getting caught on film, of course. Here is the deal: fame means you better not touch, poke or touch any private parts in public ever again, because you have a sure bet someone will catch the embarrassing touch in a never-ending image. In fact, if the "paps" follow you all over town, their cameras will document your requisite trips to the coffee shop, grocery store, gym or wherever you go. And here's the one sure thing: you are bound to get "caught" touching somewhere you ought not to touch in public. Then you have the rabid fans who will courteously and to your utter shame and horror, compile a Tumblr montage of every embarrassing touch, poke or prod you ever made in public. Now I see these pictures and I think, "Good lord there 'it' is for all the world to see for all eternity." Because whether your famous self likes it or not, the Internet will not only capture, but also preserve all those embarrassing moments to be passed around to all the other eager and voyeuristic fans for the next 100 years. And now you know why I tell my dear friend Sonja Fisher, who is striving for fame as an actress, why I will have to quit hanging out with her once she gets that famous. I don't want to be the woman in the caption that says: Sonja Fisher and her author friend who apparently needed to pick her nose. Yeah, that's it: I don't want to be the famous nose-picker even if all I did was itch it!!

The Oscars: Is this just me ...

Last night, I didn't cuddle up to watch the Oscars. I flipped the channels until I found an older movie, Sea Biscuit, that I had never seen before. I had my chips and salsa and crunched, crunched, crunched away the night. Not so many years ago, I used to look forward to Oscar night. I enjoyed seeing clips from the movies I would soon go see and supporting movies that I had seen already and loved. The last several years (and maybe it's just me), it seems like the quality and depth of the really great movies has waned. The market gets flooded with commercial vehicles and the truly fantastic films get harder and harder to find. Among the array of movies nominated last night only a small handful looked remotely appealing. I saw the movies that I had any interest in. The winner for best picture, The Artist doesn't appeal to me at all. I would have much rather seen something like Moneyball or The Descendants win. As the big commercial films dominate the cinema, especially this summer, the really great dramas are few and far between. This year's roster of selections reflected how few really great adult films we have to chose from. I remember I used to look forward to the weekend when I would rush off to see the newest movie, and I was hard pressed to select what I wanted to see out of a variety of fabulous options. Even when I was a teenager, I wasn't interested in the big popcorn flicks. I always wanted to be riveted to my seat to watch a truly great, well-told story. Speaking of the story, I have to admit. I do still sit back and secretly think to myself when the best originals screenplay gets announced, "Someday that will be me!"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Independent Spirit Awards ... Could Use Some "Spirit"

Here is a riddle for you: What looks uncomfortable, acts stilted, and isn't funny? If your answer was last night's Independent Spirit Awards you would be correct. I adore independent film, and many of those last night's films were on my list of favorites this year. So I decided to wile away a Saturday night plopped in front of the TV. Seth Rogen came on as host, and between the uncomfortable laughs and weak jokes, he looked miserable. Now follow this nervous assault with an array of equally uncomfortable-looking actors and actresses, and you have a terrible awards show. It was so unorganized and messy that some award recipients disappeared during it. The award announcers looked as if they were mostly in the dental chair getting their teeth cleaned, and the level of enthusiasm sparked only mere smiles on the winner's faces. Then for some reason, Michael Shannon was seated so that about every 10 minutes he got a close-up. Add to this, the so-called gift from Nokia that was announced to attendees that they could have a free phone ticket in their bags. Really Nokia? A free smart phone is all you could muster up? Rogen got it right when he suggested the phone be given to an assistant. Tell you what! Come to my house and I'll give you a bagful of old phones to recycle, how's that for a stunning offer?

Alexander Skarsgard at IFC Spirit Awards
I also got a chuckle out of a picture of my favorite actor Alexander Skarsgard before the show. The caption read he arrived looking "darling" and then the next personal pronoun was a "she". For the record, unless Alexander got a sex change, he's still a he! I also noticed the first photo looked very nice, but his lips looked a nice shade of lavender lipstick. I frowned? "Did he wear lipstick?" I wondered ... and then looked at the other pictures where the lip shade looked perfectly normal. Note to re-touchers: don't make a man's mouth a nice shade of lavender! Just suggesting ... And maybe the personal-pronoun error arose after the writer mistook his beautiful lavender lips for a girl's pair LOL. Now I'm being ornery.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Three Telltale Signs Your Book is Self-Published

I can tell a self-published book from 10 feet away. The only people who don't seem to know that self-published books standout from a crowd are self-published authors. First, if you decide to self-publish, please know there isn't anything wrong with it. These days many big name authors publish their own books. It takes out the middleman and keeps the book's profits squarely in your pocket. The book becomes a bestseller and you're rich. The best way to ensure your book does not become a bestseller is to lose credibility by making it obviously unprofessional and self-published. How can you avoid the pitfalls of the self-published look and feel? Here are some tips.

1. The cover and guts should be professionally designed by a professional graphic artist. Some writers falsely believe that either a template or some design they pull out of their bag of clipart tricks will suffice. If you're going to self-publish, please hire a professional to design not only the cover but the guts. Graphic artists know how to handle print design. They know how people read and what they cannot read when the fonts don't work. They don't make rookie mistakes of using font colors (dark on dark or light on light) that no one can read. They don't use fancy, illegible scripts in place of crisp, clean fonts. They don't believe that fancy looks better when simple is best. They know the rules to break the rules the right way. A poorly designed cover screams amateur.

2. Back cover copy and title that work. Why is it that poorly written back-cover copy seems to be the hallmark of self-published books? I think most writers just don't know how to write copy that has a marketing flair. Your back-cover copy is meant to market your book. It's meant to sell your book to the reading audience. It should have positive testimonials and provocative headlines that call to the audience to read the guts. And please, I beg of you, do not have mistakes in your copy on the back cover of all places. It doesn't bode well for the interior of the book.

3. Professional editor AND proofreader should be hired. An editor is not the same as a proofreader. Editing is the high level look at the story, structure and flow. Proofing is the minutia -- the grammar, spelling, syntax and style.  Proofing, in my opinion, is one of the most challenging roles on a book. We've stumbled and worked hard to find a great proofer. Don't take proofing for granted. Hire the very best proofreader.

If you would like to hire out any of these individual services, 3L Publishing offers solutions. Please send an email to or log onto the website at

Friday, February 24, 2012

Antiheroes: Characters We Love to Hate

Time to give you my take on the evil-doers. The purely evil, sociopathic villain can border on a cartoon character. You do not want to paint a black character with no heart or soul or motivation for his or her evil nature. A great villain is the one that is fully fleshed out, relatable and understandable. A one-dimensional villain is actually quite boring. What you really want is to write a great antihero. In fiction the antihero is generally considered to be a protagonist whose character, in some regards, is conspicuously contradictory to the archetypal hero. In some cases, the antihero is the antithesis to the hero. Some people believe the antihero could be classified as the antagonist or villain. An antihero, however, is not a strict villain and typically elicits sympathy or admiration. The antihero is sometimes the character you love to hate and love at the same time. So here are my favorite antiheroes:

Rev. Steve Newlin, True Blood -- I'm not sure we can find many redeeming qualities in Steve Newlin other than he's really a riot to watch. His energy is a little crazy and often unhinged. His passionate hatred for vampires, which stems from the murder of his family, motivates his rabid hatred for the immortals. Now, though, it's about to get really interesting. Steve showed up at Jason's doorstep at the end of Season 4 as a vampire. He has quite a malicious spirit so one can only imagine what kind of trouble the former reverent will stir up. Should be a scenery-chewing riot. I can't wait. 

Gregory House, House -- House isn't exactly your perfect hero. He absolutely qualifies for the category of antihero. He says and does things most of us would never do or say ... not out loud anyway. He breaks and hates rules, and the topper came in last year's episode when driven completely to despair and heartache, he drives his car through Cuddy's living room. You absolutely never know what the heck House is going to pull next. What you do know is that it will always be something self-destructive. Since this is the last season, I am very curious how they will leave our resident antihero. House defies what you would expect viewers to embrace, and the only reason he's so popular is that Hugh Laurie imbues him with a true sense of pain and humanity. Peel back the onion and we find a troubled, deep and vulnerable soul simply afraid of human connection and personal pain. We love House, because we know that underneath it all, he's okay.

Ari Gold, Entourage -- Ari is another fabulous antihero with a heart. He loves his family and his wife, and his love for his wife and children shows the audience he has heart. His ruthless treatment of others is an entirely different story. Ari has no sensitivity chip. He does and says whatever he thinks and it comes right out of his mouth. If Ari thinks you're a moron or idiot, you can count on him saying it. Anyone with any sensitivity whatsoever had better not go near Ari. But what we adore about him is love, loyalty and passion, and he always does the right thing even if it takes a few episodes. We're going to miss Ari now that Entourage is over. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

California Girl Chronicles: Brea's Big Break

Following is the Prologue to the second book in the California Girl Chronicles series. If you would like a copy of the first book California Girl Chronicles: Brea and the City of Plastic, it's 30 percent off on the 3L Publishing website at 
My name is Brea Harper, and I am the quintessential California girl. I am blond, fabulously tall, pretty and smart. I’m a screenwriter, but often get mistaken for an actress since I live in Los Angeles among the other pretty people. My desire to write screenplays has nothing to do with fame or glamour. I love to write. Period. It’s how I express my creativity and fulfill my artistic impulses. I live in a small apartment near Hollywood with my best friend Denise, who as you might know already, is quite a live wire and loads of fun. Last I told you, she was having an affair with her boss at the software company where she works. They’re still screwing all over the building, but they see other people. Another dear and new friend is Maya, my feisty and fierce Latina friend, who works for my former lover Kale.
Ah, Kale – now you are probably wondering what happened after I betrayed my blond Adonis producer-boyfriend Kale with that loser Drew. Well, the night in question went like this. I never showed up. “What?” you cry in objection. Yes, I know you’re all so disappointed in me and wonder how I could have left it all messed up like that. I guess the truth is I didn’t want to face the consequences. I had absolutely nothing I could have said in my own defense. Justifying betrayal is just as sick as the act of committing betrayal. I had fallen for Kale, down to my DNA and did not want to justify bad behavior or attempt to blame anyone but myself; therefore, no explanation existed to invalidate Kale’s feelings.
Instead, I wrote him a simple letter of apology, stating that my karma was badly damaged, and I hoped he would forgive me. He didn’t respond to my heartfelt letter. Instead, I received a phone call asking me to come to a meeting to discuss revisions on my script California Girl Chronicles, which Kale’s production company had recently purchased.
This meeting is where our story begins. 

Characters and Character Development in Fiction

I’m going to take a full section for your character development. A key to a character-driven (not a plot-driven) book are the characters. First, I want to say something important. Even a great plot-driven book has well-developed characters. Plot-driven books that fail to develop characters and go on the simple merit of the action will fail to become classics.

Let’s look to film to show the difference. Why does a mega blockbuster film like Avatar earn critical praise while a popcorn film like Transformers does not? It’s all about a well-developed story that contains characters we love to love. Avatar has a real story with well-developed characters so much so I remember the star character’s name, Jake Sully. Transformers has some gorgeous stars for sure, how many of you remember the hero’s name? I don’t remember a single character’s name. Think of classic literature and the characters you probably know their names. You may not even remember the name of the book, but you remember the character’s names. Who can’t forget classic and unforgettable literary legends like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice or Jo in Little Women?

Let’s look at the elements of developing characters and different roles in the story:

Hero or heroine – All books have heroes or heroines aka the character we root for and like and invest in. The hero is typically the “cowboy in the white hat” or good guy or is the person the story is about. The plot should center on the hero or heroine.

Antihero – In fiction the antihero is generally considered to be a protagonist whose character, in some regards, is conspicuously contradictory to the archetypal hero. In some cases, the antihero is the antithesis to the hero. Some people believe the antihero could be classified as the antagonist or villain. An antihero, however, is not a strict villain and typically elicits sympathy or admiration. The antihero is sometimes the character you love to hate and love at the same time.

Protagonist – The leading character. The leading character doesn’t have to be purely heroic. In fact, flawed characters are far more interesting than a character who is simply good or bad. Flawed characters are intriguing and layered in a multiplicity of motivations, both good and bad. The truth is: no one is purely good or bad. Most truly interesting characters are often flawed.

Villain – The purely evil, sociopathic villain can border on a cartoon character. You do not want to paint a black character with no heart or soul or motivation for his or her evil nature. A great villain is the one that is fully fleshed out, relatable and understandable. A one-dimensional villain is actually quite boring. 

Flawed Characters – This kind of character merits exploration. A great villain that leans more toward the antihero, if well written, will be layered in complexity and flaws. If you create relatable character flaws, you will draw in the audience and gain empathy. A great, flawed person who does bad things elicits sympathy. Drawing a villain with shades of good makes it hard for the audience to want him or her to get his or her comeuppance. In fact, the audience will secretly want the flawed, empathic villain to prevail. In my book, California Girl Chronicles, Brea Harper is essentially a good character with flaws. She’s relatable in her self-awareness of her flaws. She admits she knows she’s done the wrong thing. In her admittance of what is essentially her common humanity where we are not perfect, she becomes relatable. Astute reviewers and readers caught onto the book not as a work of contemporary romance but as a great character study, which is the true heart of the story. If all you see is a person who is having multiple relationships, you’ve missed the point.

Character Foils – In your supporting cast, you should build character foils. A character foil is another character who serves as a contrast to another perhaps more primary character, so as to point out specific traits of the primary character. You can do all sorts of interesting things with character foils. I’ll give you another example from California Girl Chronicles. In book two, we have two male characters, Kale and Ryan, and both are from Hollywood money. Kale uses the money to build his production money. Ryan becomes a playboy ner’er-do-well. Ryan is Kale’s foil. He contrasts Kale’s character. Kale is conservative and loving and stable. Ryan is flighty, fun-loving and unstable. A third and more fun foil, both are the heroine’s foils. In her attraction to each character, each one reflects something about her. She has a stable side and loving side and she has a fun-loving, flighty nature too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

True Blood is a "True" Work of Literary Art

If you are a fan of the HBO series True Blood (Season 5 is slated to begin June 24) then you should check out this site titled Love True Blood. From what I've been told by the site leaders and from what I've read, it's absolutely the best fan site written by fantastic writers who display their literary backgrounds with great ease and reveal all sorts of layers to this show one would never imagine. You think True Blood is all about "vampire porn" (as one friend called) then you are not really watching it from a storytelling point of view with all its metaphors, foreshadowing and juxtapositions. Read this fan site and you will have all the confidence that Alan Ball is NOT going to put Sookie and Bill back together. Not if you peel back the layers of the onion the way these literate fans have done. I've emphatically said that Eric and Sookie are soul lovers, and if you read this site and all the great information under the season redux you will notice how they are currently reflecting back on the show through the lens of Season 4. I really loved the recent reference back to Sookie's house where the writer mentions that Eric lovingly restores Sookie's house back to its original condition, adds a modern amenity or two, and builds a cubby in her basement. The Jungian reference that the basement is her subconscious and a metaphor for where her feelings for him reside. As a writer when I look at the layers of the show as exposed by all the literary analysis, it's almost intimidating. You come to understand just how excellent this show is and why it's excellent. It takes you so far beyond the campy lines and the fun to dig deeper into what I'll just plainly call the heart of the show. I should only strive to write such an amazing piece of work this well-thought-out and executed. And while many people may not like the writing (sometimes I don't like some of it) when you view the show through this well-constructed lens of information, you can't help but admire Alan Ball and his team of storytellers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tips to Hire a Publicist or Marketing Person in Publishing?

Our new VP of Marketing, Victoria Andrew is our rock star and goddess of publicity for 3L Publishing's authors. She joined our team this winter, and I hired her because I have never seen a publicist kick major behind the way this woman does. Not only does she bring an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm to my team, but also she is incredibly passionate about literature and publishing. When you can find someone who is just as passionate as you are about your company then you've found the ideal person. So, here is why she makes other publicists' skills dull in comparison to hers (and if you're an author what to look for in an ideal publicist):

15 Years in Publishing -- Victoria knows more about the publishing and book business than even I do. When we first started talking, she brought up refreshing ideas about how to approach the publicity side of the business from an entirely new vantage point. While I've spent the majority of my career working on magazines and custom publications, she's spent the majority of her career focused exclusively on books. If you're looking to hire a publicist to support your book, look for someone who really knows this industry. Ask them their specific credentials when it comes to book promotion. How many years experience do they have in this industry? What is their education? Simple experience in, say, marketing or public relations won't cut it. Your publicist needs to fully understand the ins and outs of book publishing.

True Knowledge of Book Promotion -- most PR people will tell you the standard promotion tactics. These include developing a media kit and press release and pitching to the regional and national media. He or she might suggest you do a wire drop and show great enthusiasm over a good pick up on a wire drop. Let me tell you something: in all of my experience with wire drops, they only provide exposure. I've never seen a wire drop trigger real sales. Regional and national media pitching is standard to all publicity campaigns. What you want to hear from your book publicist are ideas that you've never heard before. I'm not going to give out our trade secrets here on the blog, but Victoria is going to tell our clients WAY more than regional and national pitching and wire drops. A publicist who truly knows book publicity and understands this industry is going to share a whole lot more than ideas about pitches to broadcast, print and radio. And if that is all you're hearing out of your prospective publicist's bag of tricks then you're not going to get what you need.

True Results -- Victoria gets results not once a week or every other day. Victoria gets results every day! Yes, you read that correctly. She is so good at what she does, she gets results every single day. Just over a weekend (a weekend), she set up three new radio interviews just for me and California Girl Chronicles. She has focused strategies and goes through her bag of tricks in an incremental, strategic way. While the kinds of results vary, she still gets them. She doesn't give our clients a bunch of excuses as to why she can't get them a book review or an interview. She doesn't have to make excuses. So much of what she does is driven by ardent, passionate enthusiasm and commitment. She doesn't go through the motions, because she's getting paid. She communicates with our clients on a consistent basis. She answers questions. She picks up her phone. She doesn't shrug her shoulders when she hasn't gotten good pick-up and blame the author or blame the subject matter. She figures out how to succeed and get those results. In a business that can seem like all air and feathers, Victoria makes it more like concrete and sales.

If you would like more information about our PR services, send an email to If you would like more information on 3L Publishing, visit our website at

Monday, February 20, 2012

No Man to the "Bromance" Between Eric Northman and Bill Compton

If page views and reading interest are votes then it's safe to say that my First Word readers do not liking this whole "bromance" notion on the forthcoming Season 5 of True Blood. While Eric Northman's portrayer Alexander Skarsgard has been promoting his new movie Battleship, he's been perpetuating the "bromance" notion. I think he's probably messing with us a little and the storyline will likely center around the two southern vampires on the run from the Authority and forced to endure each other's company. I will say that if Alan Ball and company are paying any attention to the fans then they can't be completely oblivious to the fact that nobody wants to see an entire season without Eric and Sookie interaction. I also know the enthusiasm sorely lacks over the idea of putting Sookie together with Alcide, who some of the "bookies" think will blend the Quinn/Alcide characters.

Now here is my spin as your writer in residence. Most writers have their own favorites and their projects reflect that favoritism. I don't think Alan Ball and his crew of writers completely ignore what fans want to see. You don't have a top-rated show you earnestly torpedo just to torment fans into giving up and quitting the show. They are trying to create drama, tension and excitement to keep viewers hooked on their version of "show-crack". Fans that don't get some sort of "fix" give up and tune out. Ball is a smart guy. He's not going to seek audience "tune-out" just to tickle his own fancies. I've read so many fan sites where viewers are agonizing over potentially horrible future story lines. While I can't say the writing will always be at the level of my own preference, I can suggest with all intelligence, we're all going to get our payoff at some point. How exactly the payoff will come is what is in question. I haven't a doubt in the world that Eric Northman and Sookie Stackhouse will eventually find their way back to each other. Just like I have an overall map in my mind of my own book series (and soon-to-become TV series) California Girl Chronicles, I have no doubt that our savant storyteller has a similar idea in his own mind. So hang tight fans, you might get slightly annoyed along the way, it's going to be a good one.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Moneyball is a Fantastic Movie Full of Inspiration

I has been a very long time since I've watched a seamless, perfect movie, but last night I watched Moneyball on Blu-Ray and all I have to say is bravo! What a fine film. Starring Brad Pitt, whose acting chops have never impressed me in the past, Moneyball is centrally about a man, a vision and a desire to make it come true. Pitt's Billy Bean is a haunted man with a vision to change the business of baseball, and he sets off undaunted to meet the challenge. The story is absolutely about the journey, but isn't it always truly about the journey? This movie mirrors so much of what I'm working toward right now in my own life and reminded me to stay the course just the same way Billy stays the course even when it becomes plainly obvious the plan isn't working. When he asks his assistant general manager played by Jonah Hill in a quiet, resolute performance if he believes it will work, Hill's character quietly says yes. Right there! Right there is the message: BELIEVE! Billy believes, stays the course, overcomes the obstacles by taking action, and sticks with it until the payoff. This movie is one big metaphor about the power of passion and purpose to stick to your dream no matter what happens. It finely illustrates right when you "think" you should quit is NOT the time to quit. Keep going! Believe in your vision. Make it happen and it will happen. In the end, Billy's vision wasn't absolutely perfect -- they didn't win the World Series -- but they did break the record and win 20 consecutive games in a row. And just to perfect the story, we are reminded to not forget to enjoy the journey, too. Wow! This movie is powerful! I hope it wins at the Oscars, and I hope when you watch you understand the deeper message.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

You Sunk My Battleship!

I love Eric and Sookie Lovers website (big shout out to Erika, the site administrator). A new article reposted on the site basically suggests that the forthcoming Battleship is an "art house" piece (see article). I hate to say this, but the trailers of the movie don't resemble something "arty" for sure. In fact, every time I've seen the trailers it looks more like Transformers Lost at Sea. I used to play Battleship with my brother when I was kid. So, I guess the preview didn't exactly fit what I expected to see. Maybe a more traditional war movie perhaps between, say, battleships? Not marines vs. aliens, which is a quirky switch up from last summer's Cowboys and Aliens, which I got dragged into seeing and wasn't particularly impressed. A bunch of old cowboys fussing over the aliens and a pretty girl. Here is what I secretly hope: that Alexander Skarsgard's quote that it's an art house movie means it harkens more toward the amazing, richly told Avatar. Now that would be quite something. I loved Avatar, which contained real relationships, real story telling, and plenty of action and adventure to keep you riveted well over the two hours. Unfortunately, if the trailer says anything, I'm questioning that fact. Of course, I realize the trailer is the "sizzle" to the steak or sometimes just the sizzle to the chicken ... day-old chicken. But like the rest of America, I won't find out until May while Europe gets to see it in April. Well, the good news is I'm sure the critics will weigh in on the film's true appeal. Rest assured, I will go out and support my favorite actor no matter what ... or maybe I'll watch it on DVD you know if it's not so good.

Villains and Characters We Just Don't Like

Some characters we love. We even love to hate certain villains. Some characters are murky, and we don't know if we're supposed to love them, hate them, or feel ambiguous toward them. I believe when you create emotionally ambiguous characters that the audience is left to ponder their feelings about him or her, you have actually created a masterpiece. Most people are not black and white -- they're not all good or bad but shades of gray. As a writer when you've created a character that has so many shades and depth, it's not surprising if his or relationship to the audience becomes unclear. Do realize, though, if you create a completely unlikeable character who is supposed to be the protagonist in your story, you run the risk of losing your audience's rooting value altogether. As a writer you walk a fine line here. So, I'm going to go over the characters I've either loved, hated or just didn't know how to feel about.

Bill Compton in True Blood -- complete Bill fans will disagree with me and cry foul here. I don't like Bill. He doesn't possess traits I am the least bit attracted to as a fan. He is manipulative, controlling, conniving and dishonest. The final push for me came when he nearly kills our beloved heroine Sookie in the back of the truck in Season 3. While Bill rapes Sookie in the books, he fang rapes her in the series and she comes close to death. His relationship with Sookie has so much to do with her fairy blood, and Alan Ball never pulls away from the fact that their sexual relationship involves lots of blood letting. The fang rape scene didn't become an actual rape on the show, because in the commentary the writers felt they would not be able to pull him back from that act. I feel the opposite. When you very nearly kill your "lover," I'm not at all your fan anymore. Bill is also a consummate liar and even when confronted with the truth at the end of Season 3, he finally relents and confesses; but did he really confess all? We don't know for certain. Remember, he's a liar, and a good one. For all the accusations about Eric Northman being dishonest, Eric is actually far more honest than Bill ever is. The only time I felt a little bad for Bill is in Season 4's episode "I Wish I Were the Moon" when he sets Eric free to be with Sookie and realizes he's lost her forever. The reflective and sad moment on the patio of his home garnered some sympathy. Bill has lots of shades, but mostly dark shades, and for that reason, I don't like his character.

Justine in Melancholia -- this year Justine stood out for me. Maybe because I don't see that many new releases anymore. Melancholia is still getting quite a bit of coverage so it's still making some headlines. I liked Justine less and less as the film wore on. She starts off appearing normal on her wedding day, but as the day moves on she sinks into a depression and just can't seem to muster up any joy or happiness. When she urinates on the golf course that was just gross in my opinion. She rejects her sweet, kind husband Michael in favor of an unemotional, disconnected tryst with an underling. She mopes in the bathtub during her reception. She wanders out of the reception over and over again. She tells off her asshole of a boss, who does rightly deserve it. She foretells doom and gloom. She doesn't do anything to stop Michael's departure when he makes one last attempt to push her by leaving her at the mansion. Talk about the saddest wedding day ever. Yet my turning point of no return with her comes with that tryst on the golf course. It doesn't look sexy, interesting, romantic, enticing or any of the above. And even though she's obviously got a problem, that one act sends it over the top. The simple truth is you find it hard to connect and understand her. Depression is one thing. Disgusting behavior overall is quite another.

Lenore on Hung -- Oh, Lenore you skank! She's slightly crazy, driven and ruthless. You have to love Lenore. I can't even say I love to hate Lenore. She's too crazy and funny. Every season of Hung, Lenore delivers the great lines and taunts poor Tanya over and over again. She manages to best Tanya and then Tanya gets her back. My favorite taunt, "T-brain." She's deliciously sexy and gorgeous and such a fabulous foil to Tanya, who is unorganized and on the fringe of anxiety attacks nearly all of the time. Sometimes she's so pretty with those big eyes you get distracted from what she's doing. Lenore is a lot of fun and it's too bad that Hung got canceled.

Drew in California Girl Chronicles -- Oh, Drew you naughty, confused boy. My readers have said they don't completely dislike Drew. Reviewers have reflected the same thoughts. Drew is a messed up kind of guy that the girls fall for and regret it later. He cannot emotionally commit, and he shares such tremendous chemistry with our beloved Brea, who just can't manage to stay away from him even when she knows better. He's misleading, misguided in his own right, and hard to understand. He is fabulous contrast to the decent and loving Kale, and his relationship or lack thereof with Brea is another great contrast. In book two, I introduce yet another foil for Brea and Kale's relationship, and he is completely the opposite of Drew. His name is Ryan. While Drew's darker shades are hard to spot, watch out for Ryan. His darker shades hide in the shadows, and readers won't find out my true intention for him until book three. Sorry! Just know, Ryan is going to play a good game of manipulation.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Calling Dr. Dialogue: How to Write Snappy Dialogue

Some writers are great at descriptions. Some writers are great at character development. Some writers are great at dialogue. In screenwriting in particular it's all about the dialogue (yes, action counts, too); but did you know that some screenwriters' concepts and story are so good, the producers will buy it and then hire a dialogue doctor to fix the dialogue? Yes, there is a whole profession devoted to the art of "conversation". When I read novels, the number one mistake I see or weakness is lack of differentiation with the dialogue and the voice. All the characters talk the same. They say the same things in the same way. Worse yet, they say things that no one would say aloud. Here are some great tips on writing fabulous dialogue that resonates as authentic and believable with the reader.

Demographics -- yes, background and demographics counts here. Where is your character(s) from? Do they have a dialect or accent? Always "infer" the accent. Do not misspell words to convey the accent phonetically. Write it how it sounds not how it's misspelled. Research dialects, too. Canadian have a distinct accent just as much as Texans and so forth.

Monotony -- all of your characters' voices sound like the same person. You do not know who is speaking, because they all sound like the same person. Simple and easy techniques will help you to differentiate how characters talk and who would say what. For example, a good girl who is self-conscious about what she says would not cuss and use profanity. Or maybe she would but only under extreme duress. I love it how in True Blood, Sookie will try and avoid profanity and even in one episodes says, "fudge". It's been forever since I heard the use of the word fudge. I think my grandmother used to say that one. What does that say about Sookie's avoidance of using the F word or even the old-fashioned use of the word fudge at all. No other character on True Blood would use that word. What about an educated and intelligent character, how would he or she talk? An educated character might have a big vocabulary and use it. You can dumb down characters by having them say absurd or stupid things. In my script Beauty School not only does Bo say stupid things, he does dumb things, too. We don't have to say directly to the audience he is low IQ, because he says and acts less intelligent than the rest.

On the Nose -- I see on-the-nose dialogue ALL of the time. The writer just hits the audience over the head with what he or she wants to tell the audience. People don't always talk right on the nose or right on topic like a term paper. Some characters have trouble expressing their feelings. Some characters don't know how to express it at all. On-the-nose dialogue is a lazy way to convey a scene. You want to create some question or mystery about what a character is really thinking or feeling. Unless a character is truly direct in everything he or she says and does, avoid on-the-nose writing or dialogue.

Exposition in the Dialogue -- the story is not being told through dialogue unless you're using a narrator. The worst mistake I see new writers make is to put the story exposition in the dialogue. First, it makes the dialogue read like a lecture. Second, it makes the writing and dialogue clunky and awkward. Third, it's just lazy or bad storytelling. Don't put the story in the dialogue.

Colloquial and Use of Idioms -- most of us talk and use slang on a daily basis. When we're having an informal conversation, we talk informally. Unless your character is a professor of English literature, please avoid making him or her sound formal. I am an educated woman but I still use pedestrian language in my conversations. I use slang constantly. Most people do. So keep it real. Make your characters talk in a down-to-earth way unless they are simply not down-to-earth people.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

X-Rated What? Adults Only? Girls Just Want to Have Fun vs. Gone Wild?

Just for the record, this is a rambling blog that probably goes in nowhere circles ...

So, I can't say what this request was in reference to ... but suffice it to say I was "queried" about writing for this X-rate project based on my steamy and sexy writing skills as evidenced in California Girl Chronicles. I'm sort of marveling over this request a bit. I mean, yes, California Girl is sexy. Yes, the sex is steamy. Not quite sure whether it would be defined as X-Rated. I'm also a comedic writer so I guess this is a plus, too, for this project. I never imagined myself writing anything exactly X-rated so how about NC-17 or  a firm, for-real R rating? Or maybe I'm just corrupted and all blah about sex itself and I don't get squeamish about it. But hey! I do have my standards for sure. While my book is sexy it's still tasteful. So, when I think of an X-rated anything, I think the "X factor" is a little like a perfectly good Merlot gone bitter. We have another steamy book in the 3L Publishing catalog, and in my opinion, it's far more "X-rated" then California Girl Chronicles for sure. I joke with my publicist that as long as we don't get into anything that has anything remotely to do with KY or anything that falls into the "juices" family, we're not getting an X rating. I've decided I'll adopt the more European attitude about it and be all blah and cavalier. I love it during an interview with our Swedish rapscallion Alexander Skarsgård when he's asked about a joke about a camera in the "cock sock" and the interviewer can't bring herself to say "cock" and ole Mr. Skarsgård sits there unflinching and unmoved even by her admitted embarrassment. See! Now that's a European attitude! And I guess if I actually possessed said European attitude, I might not care in the least if someone thinks I'm just perfect for an X-rated writing project LOL.

Want to find out just how "X-rated" California Girl Chronicles is? Then purchase a copy on Amazon or for 30% off on 3L's website at At least with the harmless bikini cover no one will know what exactly you're reading. OR better yet, purchase it on eBook in Kindle, Nook or iBook and no one will see what you're reading at all!!!

Spoiler Alert: California Girl Chronicles, Book 2: Introducing Johnny

The following is a short excerpt from the second book in the California Girl Chronicles series, Brea's Big Break. WARNING: This scene uses profane language and is not for young readers. California Girl Chronicles: Brea and the City of Plastic is now available on Amazon in print and Kindle or can be purchased for Nook and iBook. The book releases to the bookstores in March. It is also on sale for 30% off on the 3L Publishing website at 

Just then I heard a rustle and turned my chair back in time to see Monica’s backside hustle out of the room and in her place, I rested my eyes on hot man-candy Johnny. He looked relaxed and had a big, open smile on his face.

“I remember you,” I said brightly. “Heard you got the part of Drew. Good for you!” I chirped, admiring this gorgeous, dark-haired man with perfectly muscular arms.

“Can you grab a bite with me?” he asked. “I want to pick your brain.”

I sat up and looked around my desk. I had nothing pressing, so I stood up and with enthusiasm replied, “Sure! Let’s go.”

Johnny stood in the doorway and waited for me. He allowed me to exit first like a gentleman. We made the requisite small talk as we walked to a Chinese café called Hop Singh up the street from the office. We sat on the back patio to eat noodles and chat. Johnny told me he started acting when he was 22, and he mentioned with a smirk how he got his first manager. The smirk piqued my curiosity.

“What’s that about?” I asked and pointed at his grin.


“That!” I countered and motioned again toward his expression.

He leaned in and started to explain. “Well, she pretty much signed me for sex,” he admitted and chuckled with delight over it.

“What?” I frowned.

“Oh yeah, she was like a cougar, too,” he said, “and she got me some great spots. I just had to fuck her twice a week.”

I was taken aback and pulled away from him. “Really?” I asked with a frown.

He took a chopstick and shoved a noodle in his mouth as he said, “Really! But you know it’s fucking Hollywood man. That shit happens all the time. Swing a dick, and there you go.”

“No, I thought, you know, unions,” I whispered.

Johnny waved off the suggestion. “Fuck that man. Chicks are as bad as guys. Look at me now, though.”

I looked at him all right and frowned. “You don’t feel … dirty?”

Johnny waved off the suggestion, “Hell no! It’s the biz and, fuck yeah, I’ve had fun, too!”

I leaned over and shoved another noodle in my mouth, pondering his amoral take on the whole thing. He didn’t seem the least bit bothered by it. In fact, I got the impression he accepted and liked it.

“And you think you’re going to get somewhere with me like that?” I flatly asked.

Johnny quit eating and looked me right in the eyes. “Fuck no!” he retorted. “You’re hot and nice. I like you. And I like that you have real body parts.” He chuckled as he looked down to take another bite.

I looked down at my body parts and nodded. “Yep! Real! No woman would purposefully make her boobs this small,” I said with a laugh.

As Johnny talked about the business and his encounters on various movie sets, I started to like him. He was candid and enthusiastic about acting and his craft. He mentioned his last girlfriend was a major film star, but he wouldn’t divulge her name. He did say he met her when he played a small role in one of her films. He said she was down-to-earth but had this strange obsession with her hair. She wanted to become famous for her hair like Jennifer Aniston. He thought it was a crazy goal, and he said her hair was okay, but that it wasn’t likely going to create a national sensation.

“Why’d you break up?” I asked.

“I cut her hair off,” he said, totally kidding and laughing with a gregarious outburst. “No, she went to film in Italy and met an Italian Antonio-Banderas-like guy. Dumped my white ass,” he admitted with a smile that seemed out of place given his confession.

“And that makes you smile, why?”

“Come on, if she’s so shallow … fuck that shit! No big deal,” he said as he shoved yet another noodle in his mouth and waved off the comment.

We soon finished lunch, and he walked me back to the office, continuing the upbeat chatter about meaningless parts he had played. He did admit that he thought the part of Drew was cool, but then he frowned at me. “The guy’s a fucker, though.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

True Blood Season 5 "Bromance" Hype or Real?

Now that Alexander Skarsgård is out promoting his forthcoming popcorn flick Battleship, which I will go see to support my favorite actor but only with my teenage son, who loves that sort of thing; he is promoting Season 5 of True Blood. I've decided he's being cheeky about the whole notion of the Eric-Bill "bromance" nonsense. First of all, he's a funny guy anyway and is constantly making jokes. Check out his low-key joke that aliens and vampires would be lovers ... yeah, right, naturally! Second, my guess is that Eric and Bill team up and have time on the run together evading the Authority. Skarsgård's remarks about having a new appreciation for Bill, I'm going to just go on the side that he's being facetious. Maybe they won't be quite as venomously at each other's throats then in the past, but I don't see the Viking sincerely bowing to the Southern schemer anytime soon. Also, I've noticed that in years past that while small spoilers are leaked and dropped, I'm willing to bet Alan Ball has a strict set of criteria about what can and cannot be shared or not. The show tends to keep a tight lid on what they leak to the media, and most of it is often misleading with only a grain of truth. So, I'm pretty willing to put a C note down that my favorite Viking vampire will be in more scenes with Bill than usual, but I seriously doubt it will be all fun and games and campfire songs. It will be more like some bloody good fun than a vampiric rendition of "Kumbaya."

Writing Well-Developed Characters in Fiction

Writing well-developed characters is a true talent. When you write well-developed characters, your canvas of imaginary friends and foes comes to life. People "buy" into the idea of them and emotionally invest in them. They talk about them as if they were a friend or neighbor or associate. The first time someone talked about my heroine Brea Harper in California Girl Chronicles like she was a girlfriend, I was somewhat taken aback, but then I realized this reader had made the necessary emotional investment in this character.

So, how do you create well-rounded, interesting characters that readers will invest in? Here are some tips on how to do develop your characters.

Don't rush anything -- many new writers will not only hurry through their story-telling process, but also try and force their characters to life. What does this mean? They will try and develop the character by telling the reader all about the person in a paragraph through description. When you first introduce a character don't force it. You can briefly describe the person, yes, but don't falsely believe a paragraph or two and you've done the job.

Show it don't say it -- let the characters reveal themselves on the page by showing their behaviors. Put them in their places in the story and then have them behave. Through their behavior you get to know them. For example, in California Girl Chronicles you have the flighty, mercurial Letty from the bikini shop. She is shallow, gum chewing, self-absorbed and colorful. Through her appearance (different colored hair and piercings), we gather she's rebellious and then she acts rebellious and shallow at every turn.

Consistency -- then make sure you keep your characters consistent. If Letty is shallow in one scene, she is not going to miraculously change her behavior to deep and caring in the next scene. Now if you intend to make her somewhat crazy and erratic then use this tool, but keep it in context and allow the characters around her to notice she is nuts. If you've been inconsistent with a character out of mistake or not realizing it then it's an error and not planned.

Dialogue -- what characters say matters as much as what they do. Use the dialogue to develop their attitudes and backgrounds. Remember, most people don't talk in soliloquies and speeches. Use pedestrian language and keep it real. If a character is educated, use dialogue to show they have a vocabulary. If they're urban, use the dialogue to show that background. You can also easily define characters by words they don't use, too. If a character isn't profane then you should avoid profanity being used by that particular character. If they have a dialect or accent, make sure you "imply" it and never misspell words to sound out the accent.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Favorite Lovers on Page and Screen

Today is really a day to celebrate love. So, I thought it would be fun to post my favorite lovers from both page and screen. Here are my favorite lovers and why I love to love them.

Eric Northman and Sookie Stackhouse -- yes, of course they are my favorite. They are the two lovers you long to see together in both the TV series and books. In both the books and series, the minute they lay eyes on each other, the sparks the fly. I think in the TV series they spend more time staring at each other with lust in their eyes (and there is a another phrase for that ... but I'll be polite, it's Valentine's Day). The natural chemistry between Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse) and Alexander Skarsgard (Eric Northman) cannot be tamed. Even when Sookie is supposed to be with Bill Compton, we're still secretly wishing she would get on with Eric Northman already. The very first "real" kiss on the porch is electric in Season 4. When they finally kiss, my heart nearly jumped up into my chest (for real). When they make love for the first time on banks of some kind of meadow, oooh la la is the only appropriate expression for the sexiest scene ever. I couldn't keep my eyes off them. Yes, I replayed it LOL. And maybe replayed it ... again. That's okay girls, we can admit we enjoyed it. While we all wait for Season 5 to begin, most of us are secretly hoping our star-crossed lovers will find their way back to each other. I know this for a fact!

Brea and Kale -- yes, this one is gratuitous no doubt. I can say that while I've worked on numerous fiction projects over the year, the love story and the characters of Brea and Kale in California Girl Chronicles come to life for me, too. Even as the author, I just adore these two characters as do many of the book's fans. Brea on her own is my favorite fictional character, period. I even had her birth chart done by a friend of mine and you would be shocked at its accuracy for an "imaginary" girl. I just like her "vibe" when I write her. She's fun and feisty, and when you put her with Kale, she is fun and funny and sexy, too. Kale is the nice guy producer the girl's swoon over, because he is just decent, kind and nice, and who doesn't like that -- and his love for Brea. While I've thrown a serious wrench in their romance where it goes from here we don't know (I do), but no matter what it will be a wild ride, I promise. And in book two, you get to meet the Energizer Bunny character, Ryan. Ryan has his own story to tell, and it's going to be fun, too. P.S. I'm running a Valentine's special of 30% off the book on my website at

Nucky Thompson and Margaret -- these two are sort of enigmatically screwed up. I still don't have my finger on the pulse of Margaret in Boardwalk Empire. Is she good? Does she really love Nucky? Is she conniving? Then we have Nucky, who does have a heart for Margaret right from the start. He has the same mysterious energy. You don't know for sure what he thinks or feels. The edginess in their relationship is what makes them so intriguing. After Margaret gives away the precious road land at the end of Season 2, we're left wondering: will he kill her? Will he forgive her? What is he going to do to her? I can't imagine it's going to be all hearts and flowers for these two in Season 3.

Ray and Tonya -- I know, they aren't exactly lovers on Hung. They do, however, have this warm, nice and gentle love between them. They are loyal and sympathetic to each other. Even when the chips are down, they always come to each other's aid and ultimately stand by each other's side. They also have a palpable energy between them where you want them to be together. They're not supposed to be the central couple on the show yet I was secretly rooting that they would realize that they had the best relationship on the show. You want Ray and Tonya together, because their chemistry is warm and soothing and that of true friends.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Always Go with Your Gut to Achieve Success!

When I started the process to promote California Girl Chronicles, I was swimming in a new area (for me as an author). It is my first novel. I've written three non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles. I am learning some powerful and amazing lessons I want to share with other authors, writers and readers. When the reviews began posting on Amazon, I had two very malicious reviews post initially about the book not only saying some very nasty things about my talents, but also questioning the authenticity of the other positive reviews as genuine, because the supposition was this book is so bad how could anyone say anything great about it? Well, these hateful individuals didn't even put their names on their spew, which of course, led me to question their motivations. None the less, I took the opportunity to reflect on the book and since I was ready to do another print run, I seized on the idea to strengthen the book not because two haters said I should, but because I believe in striving for the best. The second edition came out just in time for the national promotion to begin. The professional reviewers are showering praise on the book, and I am enjoying the results.

I'm sharing this with you today to remind you to always believe in yourself. I have been working on my visualization, meditations and mantras and focused on making California Girl Chronicles a best seller. It's working marvelously, and the reviews are beginning to pop on a near-daily basis. This many ongoing reviews will create momentum and momentum sets off continual sales. It's never a bad thing to be open to constructive criticism. In fact, I welcome constructive comments, and you can clearly see I embraced such comments. What no one really ever welcomes are mean-spirited comments meant to do nothing more than hurt. So in reading this article today, always believe in your talents. Believe in your vision. And go for it. Do not listen to naysayers or critics, especially given the source of criticism. If someone cannot even put their name behind their words, it's suspect. And if someone can't put a name to their words then who are they? What are their credentials? And who are they for you to empower to kill your dreams? Why would you ever give a nameless stranger that much power? I sure as heck am not and neither should you!

California Girl Chronicles: Sunnier Version of Realistically Flawed Heroine

Another fabulous review of California Girl Chronicles appeared on Cook Travel Write
California Girl Chronicles: Brea and the City of Plastic, written by Michelle Gamble-Risley, is a must-read for those of you who need a fun (and very sexy) escape.  This story draws the reader right in to the indulgent escapades of Brea Harper, a blonde bombshell who embodies the classic idea of the California girl – at least externally.  Brea is certainly no Cher Horowitz from Clueless, who we all remember as the gum-smacking, hair-twirling valley girl that said “like” every other sentence.  Brea is smarter than your average bear, and is determined to show her talent as a screenwriter when she moves to Los Angeles.  This is where the fun really starts.  While Brea may have a one-track mind when it comes to her career, she seems to lack this discipline when it comes to her men, causing her love life to become nothing short of tangled and complicated.  All of the characters are well developed and the dynamics between them are much deeper than initially realized.  There is a rainbow of personalities examined in this book – some that you love, and some that you’re not sure whether to love or hate.  This undoubtedly brings you, as the reader, on a whirlwind ride of emotions.  Some reviews have mentioned that Sex and the City fans will love this book, to which I certainly agree.  I believe that these fans will enjoy Brea and her story even more than their beloved Sex and the City, as the book provides a much sunnier version of a realistically flawed heroin trying to find love and success in one of America’s most populated cities.  This story is filled with sexy, erotic fun, so I do want to make you aware that this is not a book for children or tweens.  I found the witty, adult escapism displayed in California Girl Chronicles to be the perfect stress reliever at the end of a long day.
California Girl Chronicles can be found on (where the book is currently listed at 30% off).  It is also available on Amazon, Kindle, Nook, and ibook. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Character Fashions: From Skarsgard's Turquoise Sweater to Sookie's Sunny Sundress

The incomparable Alexander Skarsgard in the
famous sweater.
See that "turquoise" sweater Eric Northman wears throughout at least three episodes on True Blood? A single reference to that sweater caused a firestorm of hits on this blog. A sweater shot my friends! A reference to the steamy list of butt shots also caused a slight flurry, but it was that sweater that tipped it. I had no idea that Mr. Sweater was so popular. An argument event erupted over whether or not it was blue or turquois. Truth is, on the commentary on Season 3, Alexander called it "blue" and then changes it to "turquoise". I will bow to the idea that the man who actually physically saw and wore it knows what color it really was. By the end of the sweater's guest starring role, it was ruined and covered in fake blood. I'm thinking whoever actually owns the sweater now could sell the thing on eBay or an auction house for a pretty good sum of money. Fans love that sweater, and of course, the man in it.

Sweet Sookie in
the "sunny" and "sexy" dress.
In fact, fan reaction to costumes or anything related to their favorite show can be absolutely insane and zealot-like. To the right we have a picture of the lovely Anna Paquin in the dress famous for its removal from Sookie's body. Just a note here: I like this dress. It's really cute with the ties in the back (I'll get to the outfit I thought should have found its way anywhere else but not on the show). The dress like many of the costumes on the show kind of becomes a character and gives an added touch of sexy in the particular scene I'm about to reference. (P.S. as a writer always be thinking what clothes say about the characters.) When Eric Northman and Sookie Stackhouse finally reveal their feelings for each other, that dress becomes one sexy prop. Its ties in the back give our Viking vampire something to untie -- and when I say untie, I mean magnificently take apart with a seamless, sexy verve. If you don't think that undoing a dress takes on a whole new meaning when there are ties involved then I suggest you just watch Season 4 and the moment the dress finds its way on the floor.

And finally, don't go on Tumblr and say anything remotely critical of the clothes on True Blood. Oh no! The day I misspoke and said I didn't care for Sookie's peter-pan collar coat in Season 4, I set off fireworks of vitriolic reactions one might hear in a political debate not a discussion about a show. Despite the overdramatic uproar, I stand by my thoughts that the khaki green coat with the rounded collar needed to go away. The minute I laid eyes on that green number, I felt the need to turn Sookie over to the Fashion Police. Sookie wears a number of low-key shorts and T-shirts and numerous sweet-and-cute sundresses throughout the show, but the coat thing. Nope! I just thought it seemed strange looking and out of place. And fans, I am sticking to my story ... but only on my nice, safe, quiet blog where I won't have to dodge numerous flames hurled across cyberspace.

Now back to my side comment about characters and clothes. As a writer, I pay attention to what I dress my characters in. What they wear can say quite a lot about them as people and suggest their lifestyle. When we first meet Kale, our 'dreamboat' producer, in California Girl Chronicles he is described as wearing a sexy T-shirt and leather flip-flops. It suggests a laid-back style but class. The flip-flops were leather not some cheap pair someone might buy at the local CVS in the beach aisle. No, his flip-flops probably came from somewhere like Eco. His T-shirt was also a designer shirt. This communicates that while he's dressed casually, he still has money to buy stylish rags. On the other hand, Brea wears chic but affordable threads. She doesn't have much money, but does make a point of saying that clothes matter to her. So what money she does have, she invests in her wardrobe. She is supposed to be chic and tasteful, but also young and stylish so she's dressed appropriately sexy throughout the book. Always be thinking about what your character should be wearing whether you're in a visual or written media. When you put a character in clothes that don't make sense for that character, it can be jarring so you had better have a reason, and it should be a plot device not an unfortunate mistake.

California Girl Chronicles is now on sale on Amazon. It is also currently 30% off on the 3L Publishing website at It's available for the Kindle, Nook and iBook. It will release to bookstores in spring 2012. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Alexander Skarsgård, a Reporter and a Bathroom?

A fun, little article appeared on my Google Alerts straight from The New York Observer about a guest appearance of my favorite actor Alexander Skarsgard at some event during Fashion Week. I'm first going to tell you what I liked about the article and then I'm going to give you the appropriate eye-roll comments. The writer definitely captures Alex's great sense of humor when he asked him how he got there and Alex gave the perfect smart-ass reply by the elevator. I nodded and appreciated his sense of humor in messing with the reporter. He must have been in a good mood. And the recent pictures taken of him lately he has seemed in very good spirits, which is nice to see. Their playful banter continued with more smart-ass replies, but I'll let you read the article for the details. And any true and sarcastic smart-ass is a guy to love, but only if it's harmless and fun. I'm not a fan of mean-spirited smarty remarks. All right so here comes the eye-roll commentary: did the reporter really need to dish on the trip to the urinal? Really? Is nothing left that is sacrosanct anymore? Since when did we need to know they trekked off together to the bathroom? I guess I'm just a good old-fashioned writer who thinks some thing need not be "reported" on, and I'm willing to suggest the reportage of bathroom discussions wasn't really necessary. Well, to end my little commentary here this morning, I will say that as is almost always the case when I read these things, the gracious Mr. Skarsgård gave the reporter an apparent pep talk on how to meet women. The fact that the reporter also called him the "nicest vampire" is just another confirmation of what I've recognized already and a friend I met of his at a recent party also said, "He is very nice!" Love it. Unlike some women, I adore nice, gracious, kind and thoughtful men. You go Alex! All that great karma is going to serve you well, as it is already.