Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Control is an Illusion

I am going through so many different changes in my life -- and if there is one thing I am learning: control is an illusion. I have so many different balls in the air with 3L Publishing. I have the process under way for the California Girl Chronicles script. And my personal relationships are evolving all over the place. I kept trying to box everything into a square. Put this here; put that over there; put this in here. You know what life is not like that. You cannot control everything. You can take action. You can make changes. You can do what you need to do. BUT ultimately you put on a positive attitude and then just "let it ride." It's like get in the car, start it, and then put in cruise control, and let her go. And here I am ... happily letting it ride!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Self Publishing, Vanity Press or Do-It-Yourself-ers

Chapter 4
Self Publishing, Vanity Press or Do-It-Yourself-ers
Vanity is my favorite sin.” ~ Al Pacino

Self publishing, publish on demand, traditional, and now the New Publishing. Publishers everywhere and so many choices what’s a writer to do? Before you get all quivering and quaking with fear and a need to pop a Xanax to calm your nerves, keep reading. We want to help alleviate a quick trip to the pharmacy to consume anti-depressants to manage your publishing anxiety. First, like the warning label on any good prescription bottle or Diet Coke can, we want to not just warn you, but beg you to educate yourself before you sign on the line on any contracts you may have placed in front of you. And this may be hard to control yourself too. Any time a so-called publisher or someone with the title of publisher calls and says they want to publish your manuscript refrain from the happy dance just yet.
Our sad cautionary tale comes from a 95-year-old World War II veteran we’ll call Stew. Poor Stew searched for the perfect publisher of his war stories and found one. So grateful and pleased to have his legacy in print, he signed – and he signed away all of his rights to future work to that same publisher. The unscrupulous publisher didn’t deliver on a single promise – yet they still have “first right of refusal” on any piece of literature the poor old guy produces. He sadly shows up at 3L and wants us to publish his new book, which was very good. Unfortunately, when he reported his contractual obligation with the first publisher we were forced to turn him away. This sad story is common – and please don’t let it be you who comes begging for assistance after being swindled out of your literary “rights.”
Now that said, you may be tempted more than ever to toss in the towel and just self publish. Well, we have some information to share about self publishing. Before we launch into it, we’re going to stray to a Smart Girl’s technique, which is to give you The Good, The Bad and The Brutally Ugly, because self publishing deserves its own special treatment in this respect.
The Good
Smart Girls
I flunked English, but that doesn’t mean anything, does it?
The self publisher knows without question that she is a writer not an editor or graphic designer. She writes her book and then hires an editor to clean it up and eliminate typos, style and grammar errors, and anything questionable content-wise. She then researches and finds a talented graphic artist and does not sit down and attempt to draw stick figures. The Good relies on her graphic artist to do her job and follow a bona fide template for the book’s interior design. The Good doesn’t try and purchase a copy of InDesign and attempt the impossible – learn a program that takes years of skill to use. The Good does take her professionally edited and designed manuscript to a reputable printer and has a perfect-bound book created. The Good doesn’t attempt to do her own PR and does hire a proper publicist who will do everything possible to avoid letting anyone know the books was self published. The Good has a professionally designed website created for her and leverages her writing talent to blog and support her book. She also has the PR expert write the media kit and fully understands it’s not a good idea to attempt to do this without help. The Good also understands that because she self published her chances of getting national distribution are next to nil – but that’s OK. She is really only using her book to get speaking gigs and help grow her primary business, which involves seminars and workshops – all based, of course, on her self-published book that now people “oooh” and “aaahhh” over, because she did such a good job.
The Bad
The bad don’t believe they need an editor – heck I’ll just do it myself. The Bad don’t have any training in editing, and don’t know anything about style … “Style? What style?” They just figure they can save money, because, “Hell, I know how to use a period.” The Bad also go out and purchase a copy of InDesign and start trying to use it. After much cursing and frustration, they toss it out and figure, “Well, then what’s a word processor for anyway? I’ll just make me a Microsoft template.” The Bad then shrink the margins in an attempt to create the correct format. The Bad then simply put words in place of a cover, call around to find a few printers, find one, and soon realize they don’t get it when the printer asks, “What size template do you want?” They don’t know how to resize it anyway and take it down to the printer to have the printer’s $10 an hour designer slap it into a pre-made template for printing. The Bad then get their book off press – no design, spelling and grammar errors and all. They look around, call Grandma and cry, “Hey there Granny, $12 bucks get you my book.” Granny buys it, forces her friends to buy it, and coerces the rest of the family to buy lest she cut them out of her will. The writer makes $50 for sales to reluctant family members and ends up with 2,000 copies all sitting, gathering dust in the shed.
The Brutally Ugly
The Brutally Ugly didn’t pass high school English. In fact, the Brutally Ugly really don’t like to write – but want to be famous for something … anything. The Brutally Ugly write their memoir about their first trip to the North Carolina pig farm – and how they fell in love with a pink sow named Wanda, but Wanda got slaughtered. They cried for weeks and then decided to write a book on cruelty to animals and “screw bacon” pass me the ham. They attempt to illustrate their book with hand-drawn pictures of Wanda and use red crayon to illustrate the slaughter. They take the drawings and the printout to Kinko’s and make an original copy that they then have Joe Bob behind the counter create 100 copies of their masterpiece, “Don’t Kill Wanda!” for $30 each copy. They get “Don’t Kill Wanda,” and think, “What a beautiful book. Now I’m famous.” They try to sell copies to PETA, but PETA turns them down and muses over the hand-drawn pictures, laughing the whole time. They try to sell it to their family members and eventually their mother purchases a copy just so she can tell everyone her daughter is a published author … “See! I’m so proud.” And even though they should throw away this piece of junk, they drag it out every Christmas just to show their grand children that, “Look your Aunt wrote a book.” The smaller children cry when they see the slaughter drawings and the older children think their aunt is really weird.  
You’re so Vain You Probably Think this Book is about You
So the reality of self publishing can get really ugly, which is why we started saying, “Lift a rock find a writer.” We joke about that all the time. Some may find it offensive; but you will not find it offensive when you find yourself putting $29.99 on the counter to purchase what turns into an agonizing reading adventure into a book filled with typos, grammar errors, and little to no coherent intellectual reasoning or sound story structure. “How can this be?” you wonder as you flip to the last page to read the bio. You soon realize the book was published by a little-known press called Bear Skin Leather Co. Where are they located? In a little town called Patterson, Calif. You grow suspicious. I didn’t know there was a publisher in Patterson? You scratch your head and then do a Google search. Nope, no website either. Here is the real deal: You just got cheated out of $29.99 by Bob who printed the book under a self-made publishing house that is no more than his basement. Welcome to vanity press. Where all humans on the planet with no training can write their life stories even if they were raised on a potato farm in Idaho and have absolutely nothing meaningful to say except: “Well them there potatoes … they taste good.”

Vanity press became a more popular publishing method after the computer and digital printing brought the costs down to a level that the average person could afford. The advent of new publishing technology brought on a tidal wave of some good, but mostly bad books to flood the market. Many want-to-be authors got it into their minds that they could surly become millionaires by publishing on their own – no experience but a lot of moxie and enthusiasm. Many of these authors also approached overseas publishers that will produce even cheaper books – all for a price. Yes, they produce books all right – did we mention that “piece-of-crap” problem? Yes, I think we did. So yes in today’s world anyone can publish a book – but not necessarily a good book.

Looks Like a Pig, Quacks Like a Duck
Smart Girls
Avoid the stigma of self publishing. We want your money not your book.
Now we’re giving vanity press a bad rap. Reality is that vanity press – while it opens the market to everyone who has a book idea – can work for some (depends on what you’re going to do with the book) and not for others. You can purchase editorial and graphic services and create your own custom publication – and that is how it will be viewed by the media. It is very difficult to overcome set ideas about vanity press with the media too.

Why do you suppose that is when not all self published books are bad? Well, who works predominantly for the print media in particular? Writers … ding, ding, ding. You got it. And most writers often can spot your weak writing from a mere glance. The other thing you should know. Writers can be contentious and jealous types. If they can’t overcome the hurdles presented by a traditional publisher your attempt at writing what in their minds looks like amateur hour ultimately pushes buttons. All one has to do is hang out in a few writer’s groups and watch the jealousy and tantrums start. The book reviewers will see a homemade tome – and without flipping open a page throw it in their “special” file.

Why do so many folks have set ideas about vanity press? Back to the real professionals who know their stuff. Let’s say you’ve sent your custom publication to an editor. One thing you need to know. Editors read piles and piles of submissions and press releases. They can spot the good from the bad. They live with deadlines. If you have not gone that extra mile to attempt to put your perhaps well-written book into a traditional, perfect-bound format it most likely will come in a spiral binding … or worse stapled together. What message does that send? Oh, I know. Cheap, amateur and lame … seriously I know you may not want to hear this information; but it is the editor’s super secret thoughts. How do we know? Michelle (2L) was a professional editor for 10 years. She read and saw it all. And as much as it frustrates all you vanity press fans to hear this information: We all naturally make assumptions – especially when pressed for time. The natural assumption when one sees a spiral-bound book is it’s not good. So strike one.

Smart Girls
The Dude: These are, uh...
Brandt: Oh, those are Mr Lebowski's children, so to speak.
The Dude: Different mothers, huh?
Brandt: No.
The Dude: Racially he's pretty cool?
Brandt: [laughs] They're not literally his children. They're the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers - inner city children of promise but without the necessary means for a - necessary means for a higher education. So Mr Lebowski is committed to sending all of them to college. ~ The Big Lebowski
The Big Book of Lebowski
Now to be fair, vanity press can work quite well if you intend to use your book as a product to do back-of-the-room sales. Back-of-the-room sales may also help alleviate the spiral-binding problem. Now you can actually use the spiral-binding “perception” to leverage and increase sales. How’s that you wonder? Buyers now know this book is a custom job. What do all custom jobs cost? More money than mass-produced books, and oh so that $39.99 price tag on this custom job written by hopefully the girl who just gave an amazing talk on her subject of expertise costs more. OK, as a consumer I can accept the extra price. Now you have an actual reason to do a limited print run and charge more on a custom project. Just realize that wasting money and sending it to the local book reviewer will not fool them.

Smart Self Publishers Win
The real lesson is to be strategic in why you intend to self publish. You can make the self-publishing model work in your favor if you have a strategy behind it. If you’re going to use a self-published book as a giveaway at seminars and workshops or as a handout, that is good. People will perceive the value of this kind of publication and appreciate the spirit in which it is given and used. A typo in a self-published book used in this nature gets forgiven. The grammar police put away their rifles and guns. And you can sell it for top dollar – as we said people know it cost more to produce and respect the extra cost.

On the flipside self publishing a book and trying to make it masquerade as a book published by a traditional publishing house – and it is chockfull of errors and generally looks cheap and tacky – continues to create a fog of doubt. Yes, self-published books exist that are well-done, but these books are largely in the minority. We can stand 10 feet back from a self-published book and know it came off a self-publisher’s press, which isn’t necessarily a bad press; but an air of “something’s not right” looms over these self-published books and gives it away. To the less-seasoned eye it might seem to blend right in with the others; but the ones in the know like the media and book reviewers – well, they always know. And the self-published book, which may we add probably cost a lot if you had it perfect bound, loses credibility and will not be given proper respect, reviews or accolades – all needed to help it reach a mass audience.

The real question becomes, why are you self publishing in the first place? Are you fed up with traditional publishing and want your book faster than 18 months (see chapter on traditional publishing). Are you afraid your writing will be deemed unfit to publish so you are trying alternatives? Or are you using your book to support your business and have no expectation that it will be a best-seller? No matter the reason you’ve chosen to self publish, the rule for success requires you not eschew important professional help like an editor or graphic designer. Maybe your self-published book is a prize winner in the making. Good for you. Maybe you have friends at a major distributor who will help get it distributed as an independent book and you want to keep 100 percent of your royalties. OK, sounds reasonable to us; but chances are you have none of the advantages. Statistics show that most self-published books sell no more than 50-100 copies – hardly enough to make it a best seller and generate any significant profits. So before you spend upward of $5,000 to $10,000 to wind up with 2,000 copies of a book that may never see the light of a Borders book shelf, consider your options carefully and keep reading.

If you would like to work with 3L Publishing, which is a hybrid publisher not a vanity press, please call us at 916-300-8012 or send an email to info@3LPublishing.com

Sunday, July 29, 2012

OMG! I Actually Missed True Blood

It's the shocker of the decade ... I actually missed last Sunday's episode of True Blood and didn't see it until last night. A day before the next episode. I was traveling without access to HBO! Oh man! Total withdrawal ;). All right so let's get down to business here. What did I think of episode 7? Well, I am loving the vampire storyline for sure. The "V" trip on Lilith's blood was excellent. The vampire feeding frenzy in the New Orleans club where the betrothed sang "You Light Up My Life" absolutely priceless. Just hearing that awful song -- perfect -- and then Russell Edgington jumping on stage just rocked it. The rest of the episode I have to sadly say whatever. Sookie realizing she can deplete her magic to be human ... whatever. Sam chasing criminals ... whatever. Werewolf wars ... whatever. I did like Tara's humanity showing with her relationship with her mother, and Pam's coaxing that in 100 years she wouldn't even remember this ... "trust me." Now Pam watching over her progeny and not being able to totally hug her -- awesome! The look of shock and a little melt on that iceberg worked well for the two characters. So, it's Sunday come round again, so let's see where the twists and turns go next...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Coffee-Infusion and Ready to Publish

I drink one cup of coffee a day, period and that's it. My Italian author and friend Michael Perrotta, who just released Under the Sycamores (fantastic book and highly recommended) encourages me not to drink coffee at all. He says and I quote, "It's bad for you," in this thick and wonderful Italian accent. Yes, Michael it probably is ... but if I only have one vice and that's coffee then oh well. I am up in Northern California combining play time with work and networking. I decided to return to where 3L Publishing has the strongest base to focus on business development. You know I personally moved about six months ago, but 3L is headquartered here in Sacramento. Our storage facilities are here, and my wizard of an operations manager runs everything from here. I really don't see myself in the long term in LA (too many people), but I am not sure when I'll return up here on a permanent basis. I am going to be flying back and forth more often in the coming months. I'm going to talk to the producer on California Girl Chronicles about realistic timelines on the development of the script, etc. The longer I am down south, though, the more I develop a social life, it will make it trickier to move again. And whatever I do, the next move is the last one. The ideal scene is to have two residences -- one in So Cal and one up north. Sounds like I've got A LOT of business development to focus on. And with that business development the focal point goes on networking and relationship building. I will be doing that tomorrow when I return as the host our local Writers Who Mean Business group. I will be assuming the reins of the group July 26 at 7:00 pm. If you're a regional writer, please join us. Details are available by going to Meetup.com and searching for Writers Who Mean Business. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why Join a Writer's Group

For the most part, writing is not a group activity. Most writers write alone and sometimes even in their basements (not me, though). When you write your best friend is often your computer or laptop. I have two best friends -- a desktop and laptop. Human beings are social creatures. We need interaction with more than our daily digital date with our computers. We need to get out and meet people. Writing also is supposed to be done for other people to read (even though some writers hide their work), so even if all you're doing is showing a few friends, it's still an audience. By joining a writer's group you are getting out and showing other people your work. You are able to talk about the experience. You can share that experience and get feedback. You can get fresh perspectives and ideas. You can commiserate on the experience and the like-minded journey. As artists, we have a collective unconscious about the experience and why we do what we do. I personally enjoy discussing and talking shop about the thing I love the most -- writing.

If you're in the greater Sacramento area and would like to join a fantastic group, check out Writers Who Mean Business. Visit www.Meetup.com and search for Writers Who Mean Business. We meet on the last Thursday of the month.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Blogging is a Valuable Marketing Tool

Do you know what is information-based marketing? It is pretty much what it sounds like. The power of providing loads of great information to market and promote your business. I get asked all of the time, "Why are you willing to share so much of your expertise for free?" Because most business people and authors cannot do what I do. Giving and sharing information doesn't take away from my business, it gives me business. Once prospective clients understand the value of the information I am giving away, they typically are sold on my knowledge and expertise. Once sold on what I know, they are more open to hire my company to work with them. Blogging is a tool to provide information on a daily basis (yes, except Sunday) and build a following. Followers may not directly do business with your company, but if they're impressed enough with you they will refer you to friends. Prospective clients also research those they work with, and your blog becomes part of what they research about your work. I also blog for my clients, too. An effective blog informs, mixes in the interesting and entertaining, and promotes your business or book. If you would like to hire 3L Publishing to blog for you, please send an email to info@3LPublishing.com or visit the website at www.3LPublishing.com.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Relationship Building to Succeed

I am back in Northern California this week to focus on my core business base and rebuild. I am focused on relationship building and business development. Relationship building is critical and core to business success in today's environment. In LA I am one of thousands. Here in Northern California, I have a strong base of associates and people who know me. It is a great base to work on and rebuild toward further success. I have not been able to effectively network for sometime. I will be focused on networking, meeting new clients, and focus on getting to know them to find out how I can help. If you would like to work with me, please send me an email to Michelle@3LPublishing.com.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Need to Publish Your Book ... Now is the Time!

I don't feel like blogging today. Yep, not in the mood. I'm trying to be in the mood ... can't you tell. Here I am in my office chair. I'm typing away to see what spills out of my brain. Well, let's see ... I have to admit something ... I'm depressed LOL ... yep depressed and I am forcing myself to write and do what I do best. I keep looking at the second book of the California Girl Chronicles: Brea's Big Break, and it goes unreleased. I've been in perpetual limbo with this project. The following for book one is still in build mode, and my resources are in limbo too, so book two goes unreleased ... and there you go. It's better than book one (so I've been told). Sometimes I look at the books and feel utter detachment. Did I write those? Yes, I wrote them in a different space. I've not been in a creative space, so I've focused on other people's books, which is good. We have several new books in the pipeline that I'm editing away at in small chunks as they come in the door. We definitely need new business. I will tell you, it's a great time to work with 3L Publishing. Summer is the slow season. July is especially slow since everyone vacations. You can ignore my sadness, too; I'm not sad when I'm talking about my passion.

If you have a professional or personal book project you would like to talk to me about, please call 916-300-8012 or send an email to michelle@3LPublishing.com.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Book as Platform -- A Winning Outlook on Publishing

Chapter 3
The Book as Platform – A Winning Outlook on Publishing
By Michelle Gamble-Risley, CEO, 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com)
“The free-lance writer is the person who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.”
~ Robert Benchley
There is one thing we consistently see across the board. We constantly educate our authors on how their book is not a singular passive revenue stream; but we inform them how their book can become a business with multiple revenue streams. When our clients come to us with such tunnel vision we educate about the “business-in-a-box” business model and slowly light up the tunnel until, “ta-da,” the realization of a business opportunity hits them smack on the side of the head. They finally understand the concept and then they run with it. When you write a book, it is a platform and opportunity to do many other things such as speaking engagements, workshops, and increase your current business activities.
Smart Girls
“The answer is out there, Neo, and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.” ~ Trinity, The Matrix
Did someone just give me a mic?
When SMASH: a Smart Girls Guide to Marketing and Public Relations first came out last year, we were immediately flooded with speaking opportunities. The part that was surprising was that the people who were asking us to speak did not even read the book yet. When you publish a book, you are automatically viewed as an expert. Now, between the two of us we do have the marketing and publishing experience to warrant the “expert” status; but to get opportunities without even trying was pretty amazing.
There are several ways to leverage this aspect of the “business-in-the-box” model. You can do what we did and take your stand-up comedy routine on the road. First, you will be asked to start with non-paid speaking engagements that you will need to start building your speaking resume anyway. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why would I want to do something for free?” Well, for one thing you may not be paid but you will be able to sell your book at the back of the room. We have personally watched some of our authors speak and sell not one, but two or even four books to each person in the room. Second, by speaking in general you will be promoting your core business. If you do not sell a book to everyone in the room you are still a 30- to 60-minute business promo to every single person in that room. The exposure is priceless – and they might turn into several new contracts for your core business.
Once you have built up a resume with the small guys, it is time to start leveraging this experience with the major conferences that are relative to your transcript. One very important question to ask your publicist is to find out if they will create pitch letters for you, and if they can submit them as well. When you are on a major conference circuit you are looking at 5K or 10K or even 50K for any speaking opportunity where you keynote. This is not bad income for the time spent – and most major conferences will cover travel as well. Oh, and P.S. you can write off your trip too. Last, when you speak to a group this large you know your Amazon sales are going to blow up to say the least. And, you will be famous.
Now, I think we need to get real for a minute because some people suck the big one when it comes to public speaking. We have seen some pretty bad speakers and two in particular ended up in our screenplay C-ASS. Terrible speakers usually exhibit one of the following qualities: crappy content/lack of audience entertainment/interest/involvement/nervousness.
Smart Girls
“According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” ~Jerry Seinfeld
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being nervous when it comes to public speaking. Now, if you have a deathly fear of it you might not want to pursue this aspect of your “business-in-a-box” model. However, if your fear is minor and you can correct it with a class (or even a nice glass of Merlot) or start attending a group like Toastmasters … go for it.
Most people, unless they are a born entertainer feel nervous when they start a presentation until they get to know their audience. Once they are in for a couple minutes the nerves subside and they actually enjoy the experience. Most people enjoy themselves because they are talking about a topic they feel passionate about; therefore, the speaking engagement becomes fun. Isn’t that a novel concept? On the flipside there is nothing wrong with not wanting to speak if you truly feel uncomfortable. If you are forced to do something you do not want to do your nerves will cause you to do silly things like blurt out things you do not mean; ask for everyone’s opinion in the room for buy in; and overall make your entire audience uncomfortable while they have one single thought going through their heads, “Please God, make it stop.”
Smart Girls
Before you decide to get in front of the microphone you should carefully contemplate content, your audience and the interest factor. Over the last year, we have seen more horrific speakers at various networking events we attend. Most of the time, they are walking, talking infomercials and occasionally we leave wondering what the f*** was that about? When we are really scratching our heads that hard about something despite the horrible content the entertainment factor was usually there for sure. First, make sure you are passionate about your content and look at what takeaways your audience should get out of your performance. I know, I know, you are thinking but what’s in it for me? I just want to talk about my upcoming seminar. See, now you are an infomercial. It is best to stick to helpful, relative or inspirational information where you have your audience engaged. The engaged part is key, because once you have them hooked you will have followers (and possibly stalkers) for life. Last, please do your audience a favor and be interesting. If you are boring everyone in the room – and you see them leaving your snooze-fest – chances are public speaking may not be for you.
Workshops and Seminars … Oh, Boy!
Smart Girls
Once you are published, your book will be a great platform to launch workshops and seminars. Workshops and seminars can be done both online as well as in person and not only will you generate book sales you will be charging for workshop/seminar attendance as well. What a novel idea!
In an ideal world, you should start working on content for these while your book is at the printer. The content for the book will obviously be done, but you need to figure out how you can turn your book into a workshop and what physical takeaway or written plan your attendees will receive. When you have ironed out these little details you also need to figure out how to market your events. I have to share with you that if you do not market your events, no one is going to show up. It also does not feel good to have no one show up at your book-launch party either. Isn’t that your worst nightmare kind of like one of those dreams where you find yourself in the middle of a crowd with just your underwear … doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy does it?
There are some great marketing tools online and your publicist should be aware … if not fire the person. One of our favorite ways to promote our events is through MeetUp. MeetUp is a great, inexpensive online group service you can sign up for to create your meeting group and market your events. The best part of MeetUp is that once your page is up, MeetUp will invite everyone in their system who is interested in your particular topic. MeetUp also accepts payments, pretty cool right?
Another great way to promote your events is through LinkedIn. We have to warn you about LinkedIn though. In the interest groups we belong to, there seems to be a lot of cranky people with free time on their hands that are ready to mud-sling at any time. Our recommendation is to test the water, find an interest group that is a good fit, participate first and then promote.
Last, we started out this chapter talking about how your book is going to be a platform for your business itself. I can guarantee you that if you own an auto body shop and you write a book on a Smart Girls Guide to fixing your car … you are going to get business from local women simply because you have a book out. If you are reading this, and are wondering if this is you, yes … I am talking about you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Got a Book You Wanted Edited? Need a Book Coach?

Every time you shift and change your life, you create what I call the new normal. I feel really fantastic today. I am in the middle of my new normal. I'm adjusting to my life as a single parent. My kids are here. My eldest climbed in my spare walk-in closet and organized all of the boxes. We have a new bed being delivered today for him to sleep on, which completes the office/spare bedroom. Why does this matter? It's really about finally settling in and accepting and adjusting to my life as it is.

I have so much to look forward to at this point, too. California Girl Chronicles script polish wrapped up yesterday (pretty much), and this process coming to an end with an important step forward. The script is why I'm here. I am moving it forward with my producer to pitch to TV executives. The experience of working with someone of his experience and caliber has been rewarding. He's teaching me a lot even if he doesn't know it yet. I've been watching with a keen eye on what is unfolding in front of me. I don't know that I want to directly produce -- I definitely want to write (of that I am certain). As a publisher, author and writing coach, I have never wavered in my passion. I've crumbled a little bit and felt a lack of energy to write in recent months, but I'll get back to it soon. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the editing process on 3L Publishing's authors' projects. We're about to wrap up the 10 Powerful Women 10 Strategic Insights into Business.

You know friends, I am an excellent editor, ghost writer and book coach! I know modest, too. I've been doing it for 20 years, and I know grammar, style and punctuation. I memorized the AP Stylebook. I used to work on magazines and periodicals. Ask me a rule! I dare you LOL. My best friend when I'm editing is Grammar Girl. If you're ready to publish a book, call me at 916-300-8012 or send an email to michelle.risley@gmail.com or info@3LPublishing.com.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

True Blood, Season 5, Episode 5

How is it I missed the chance to comment on my favorite show's last episode? First, I have a lot on my mind. Second, I just forgot LOL. OK, back to Bon Tempe and the myriad story lines going forward in a season that got off to a fantastic start and veered a little and then for some reason kind of started losing me a bit. Now as a publisher and writer, I try to review the show from the writing and storytelling angles. I have enjoyed the Bill and Eric storyline and the romp with the Authority. I especially appreciated that finally they showed Eric still wants Sookie when he glamoured our resident werewolf Alcide into not having romantic feelings for her. Go Eric! And I must say, the "heat" between Sookie and Alcide ... not there! Sorry! The other favorite storyline is Tara's rising into her vampiric skin. She's going to come round just you wait and see. We've had hints of her settling in, so to speak. Then we have poor Hoyt's personal self-desctruction. What rejected lover can't relate to the desire to just end it all then face a life without the person they adore? Well, you know you go on and get on -- and I would suggest Hoyt get on with it. It will be super interesting to see if he ends up a vampire terrorist next. The other story lines ... Fairy Land and the "sups" assassinations ... we'll see. Till next week and another show, ya-all have a great day!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Ensemble Cast

When writing novels, I get asked about how many characters should populate your story? I don't have a huge cast of characters in California Girl Chronicles. I didn't create a huge cast of characters of purpose. The best way to explain why it's important to limit what I call the characters on the canvas is from the reader's point-of-view. Have you ever read a book where you have to continually flip back and forth to remember a character's name and his or her role in the story? Doesn't that just frustrate you? It also makes it difficult to track what is going on when you confuse your characters and sub-plots, because if you have confused the characters you probably aren't tracking the sub-plots either. I had a recent conversation with an author where we explored the problems associated with a plethora of different people populating his pages. He had reasons to justify all of his "peeps" but I pointed out that once you lose the reader what really happens is the experience becomes less pleasurable, and people lose patience. Once a reader loses patience, the author has failed at his or her job, because most readers then put the book down. Book set down equals an unfinished book -- and that is a disappointment for everyone.

Do you want your book coached? We would be more than happy to coach your book and help shape it into something publishable. For more information, go to 3L Publishing's website at www.3LPublishing.com or send us an email at info@3LPublishing.com.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Books -- Show Me the Money

Many authors come to 3L Publishing with their great dreams to write a NY Times best seller. The truth about publishing is that you're selling books with a small profit margin. So you have to sell a lot of books to make a huge profit. I try to encourage authors to keep their budgets conservative. The chances of writing and selling a NY Times best seller are minimal and could be compared to winning Lotto. When you compare the thousands of newly released titles to the number that actually make the list, well, you can imagine why I came up with the comparison to winning Lotto. With the odds not on the side of being the next Harry Potter, I try to get authors to look at their motives for publishing their books. The best motive is either to get your work out there and read or to use your book for business promotion and development. Authors who got into the book business with an understanding that anything outside of getting their books published or the personal satisfaction or the opportunities to grow business will feel far more satisfied with their results. If you are interested in publishing with 3L, please send an email to info@3LPublishing.com.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rain Drop Therapy ... and Pizza

My blog has in a sense become a bit of a "vague" journal ... LOL :). Yesterday something monumental came to an end. I also went to Tre Bella Spa in Auburn and had a Rain-Drop Treatment (essential oils) with Cheryl Mullick. She was so concerned about my thin frame, she practically dumped whole bottles of oils LOL. And a very funny story: the oils are a combination that includes oregano. A very cute waiter at Elephant Bar looks at me and says, "It smells like pizza. I'm hungry." I started laughing and said, "It's me." Yes, I always smell like pizza afterward. My daughter calls me "pizza mommy." Did you know that men when asked what "turned them on" smell-wise, they liked the pizza smell. Go figure ... apparently the way to a man's heart is definitely through this his stomach. Here is what you absolutely must know about essential oils. They put my RA in remission. They boost the immune systems ... I have not had a cold or flu in two years! I used to get 5-6 colds per season my entire life, and I have asthma so I would cough up a lung (not really kidding). The productivity lost here was huge. The coughs often hung on for 2-4 weeks, and I would struggle to talk to clients without hacking. I highly recommend Rain-Drop Therapy as a true miracle for good health.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Feeling Pensive ...

I know, I know, I vow to blog every day ... some days the distractions are just too great! I am not feeling clever or funny ... how can that be? Okay, that made me crack a smile. I have to make myself laugh. If you can't laugh, you got nothing! I woke up today and focused on my projects that look great. We did a mock movie poster for the promotion of California Girl Chronicles. We also did sales projection spreadsheet. I see incremental, slow progress. It's quite thrilling. See ... focus somewhere else. Go take a cruise to nowhere. Drink frothy, fun drinks for an entire week. Eat pizza! Once when I was in Hawaii, I drank like a fish and ate pizza for a week -- came home 10 pounds heavier. I need to gain 10 pounds or better. I think since the financial outlook isn't look quite as (let's find a positive word) "up" as today, I am going to fly up and back up north, sign some legal documents, and come home. And then I am going to be happy ... with myself! Major, major goal: be happy with yourself. I dreamt last night that I found a satchel of money. I managed to allude the person who was a criminal trying to steal it from me. I was pulling myself by vines, literally hand over hand, up a rolling hillside and I saw a praying mantis (spelling) ... I slept deeply last night, too, which was really nice. I'm going to look up the symbol on the bug LOL.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Morning Spirituality

Do you all know what is energy work? Now for spiritual purists who don't believe in that sort of thing ... well, move on LOL. We're going to discuss energy work on a Sunday morning. I went to bed early last night and now I'm up early getting caught up before I go out this afternoon. Yes, I actually do get out and have a life. I'm going to meet a friend, sit out overlooking the ocean, and talk about absolutely nothing important other than, "Look the sunset looks marvelous!" or "Cheers! Here's to a great day!" The only goal is to laugh. You should make life's goal about laughing. Laugh at the world; laugh at each other; and don't forget to laugh at yourself ... humanity is funny after all. We're all so wonderfully flawed in our individual richness.

So energy work. I have a lot of energy work I'm doing. Something snapped in me yesterday big time. I immediately set to work on the energy work to make some energetic shifts. I began to do physical acts that would cut those energies. The physical acts of cutting or adding energies rewires our brains (for one) to think differently. You can do rituals, too. I prefer to do the physical work. Let me share some samples. If you're going to cut an energy with someone who doesn't serve you, imagine unplugging. Or take an actual plug and cut it. You can do the opposite when you want to plug-in into someone, too. It works both ways. You can send healing energies to people. The energy work I did was what I call cut the ties.  If you have electronic communication, you can add but also subtract. Begin the deletion process for those people who you either want in or out. You can do it on all levels of communication. Ever heard the phrase, "I've deleted you out of my Palm Pilot..." I'm not saying any energy work will give you instant gratification, but it will shift slowly in the direction you seek. And then once you've done it ... move on! I am moving on and onward!! And how is your Sunday morning?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Why We Rejected “Shattered Lives” Part 10 … Or Rejection Hurts Both of Us

The Guru has shattered the shackles on my feet, and has set me free.” ~ Sir Guru Ganth Sahib

You’re amped up and finished with what you genuinely believe is going to be a best-selling masterpiece sure to receive rave reviews in the New York Times. The only hesitation is you’re a little uncertain about chapter one, “Hey it’s not my best chapter in the book,” you will eventually say to your prospective publisher should you be blessed enough to get him or her on the phone. Want to know what the acquisition manager or reader thinks but probably won’t say either on the phone or in writing, “What! Are you crazy?”

Smart Girls
Carrie: What? Now? What about last night, all those concerns?

Big: Fuck it. You'll need material for the sequel. ~ Sex and the City
Rule number one when submitting a manuscript always make chapter one the very best chapter in the book not the weakest. Why? Because the reader won’t get past page one or even the end of the first chapter if it’s poorly written, weak, boring or uninteresting. All authors absolutely must understand that publishers receive literally hundreds of thousands of manuscripts a year. You do not want your first impression to be your weakest work. It may even sound preposterous to many writers that anyone would dare to make such a ridiculous mistake; but you would be absolutely stunned how many authors “confess” that they feel chapter one is not their strongest chapter. 

So the real deal (because we’re always honest) you must remember when you pursue either traditional publishing or the New Publishing model, you cannot submit weak work. Publishers receive so many manuscripts and have so little time your manuscript won’t make it past page one much less the last page of the chapter if the reader immediately senses yet another literary mess or “snooze-fest” coming their way. Readers may only spend a fraction of each day actually reading submissions. These days, readers are pulled in so many different directions and play so many roles in the company that an exercise in what turns into a painful experience of reading yet another horrible manuscript becomes torturous. When the reader even glances at the first paragraph and senses a dud their mind tunes out … have to pick up the groceries, don’t forget to do the laundry … anything to distract them from yet another horrible book. You have to almost feel sorry for the reader responsible for sifting through a pile of junk as a part of their jobs – but then the really fantastic part comes when they finally stumble on that one really amazing fiction or non-fiction book. The one that they think: “Wow! I actually get paid to read this stuff.”

We Do Judge a Book by Its Title
So what can you do as an author to prevent the reader from heavily sighing at the first sight, say, of your title? Number one, your title must rock, be original, catch their attention (in a good way); and convey a message of hope, intrigue, happiness or mystery. Your title should not embarrass the book buyer (e.g., 10 Ways to Commit Incest); deter the book buyer by not making them want to identify with the title that it is something they’re interested in (e.g., I am Old and Ugly! How About You?); or come across as melodramatic drivel (e.g., Daisy’s Dying Wish to Fall In Love with Prince Charming and Have Twins).

In 2009, 3L Publishing received a half-dozen manuscripts with the melodramatic title “Shattered Lives.” First, had we not received so many “Shattered Lives,” we might have shrugged off the title as perhaps just negative and melodramatic. Yet by the fourth book with that awful title we began to not only turn it into a literary inside joke, but then wondered why? Why does anyone think that is a provocative and interesting title? It didn’t make us feel hopeful, intrigued, happy or curious. It did make the writing immediately suspect as poorly written, because this now very unoriginal title graced the cover of six seemingly bad manuscripts that we had no interest in reading.

So your title creates the all-important first impression of your book. The importance of a catchy and interesting title plays just as important role in the impression left by the first chapter. A hokey or just silly title can repel the reader and actually discourage them from cracking open page one. Please realize a significant difference exists between clever and creative titles and inane and stupid titles that make the reader groan. A clever title will provoke the reader to wonder: “Hmm … what could this be trying to say or suggest?” Even with this book, Vanity Circus is a clever metaphor for the chaos and craziness of the publishing and writing worlds. The reader is at once intrigued by its uniqueness and puzzled by its meaning yet between the two reactions it promises to lure the reader into at least reading the back cover copy versus quickly hitting the delete button or tossing the book back on the shelf.

Also, please don’t fall prey to the idea that “sex sells,” therefore I will make my title sexy or dirty or pornographic. Reader demographics show that woman purchase the majority of books. You know that most women do not openly go out and purchase a copy of Playgirl. In fact, you also know that Playgirl magazine sales do not rival Playboy magazine sales. What does this tell you? It tells you that the majority of your reading audience (women) – the segment likely to make your book a best seller – will have little or no interest in purchasing a book titled, “Eat me! Ten Ways to Give and Receive Oral Pleasure.”

Excuse Me! So Sorry, but Chapter One Sucks!
Now that we’ve given you the down low on the title, let’s move back to a discussion about chapter one. Some people find it difficult to write a strong chapter one while other writers find it challenging to write a strong ending. If you find chapter one your nemesis then it should move you to pay extra special attention to chapter one. Why? Because most likely your book will not be rejected based on a weak ending, but it will most certainly find its way to the “no” pile based on a weak opening.

Smart Girls
“For those doubters, do this simple routine: take 10 pennies – count  'em one at a time. You'll note that you don't start with zero when counting that first penny. When you get to 10, you're ready for 10 more.
This year of 2010, is our No. 10 penny, or, the "last year" of the first decade.” ~ Morrow: Now Let’s Get Some Pennies Out and Count to 10
Evaluations of chapter one fall under what we call “the rule of 10.” No, it’s not some scientific rule discovered by Einstein or apparently the rule to determine the beginning or the end of the decade. The rule of 10 suggests that most readers don’t read past page 10 to decide whether or not your manuscript will pass go to the next level of evaluation. In a traditional publishing house this usually involves the reader giving your sample chapter a positive evaluation and pushing it up the line to the next level of approval, which is usually an acquisitions manager followed by a recommendation up to the editor in chief who has the almighty power to green light the project and offer you a contract. Remember, (and we’ll get to this later) new and mid-level authors don’t receive advances anymore. The New Publishing model vets the manuscript in much the same way, so if you were hoping the new model might be your salvation, umm, no.

So the rule of 10 requires that your writing, concept, story or premise be so strong, so interesting that you move through the chain of command and toward a “yes.” Truth in sales time here: Most readers really apply the rule of one. Any major blunders or obvious faux pas exposed on page one will send your manuscript packing and back through the Ether with a big, fat no way. I know you want to think the best of the reader. “Oh, come on they have to go past page one, right?” Nope! Readers are busy, busy folks and can smell a stinky manuscript often by the first sentence. And we know this may sound unimaginable, but some writers actually pull the biggest blunder possible. They tell the whole story in the first line. No kidding true story. We had a beginning author submit a manuscript that said in the very first sentence: I die at the end. Not good all my writer friends. Not good. No intrigue here. I know that quickly that my hero kicks off by the end. What fun is that?

Chapter one from beginning to end shows the reader some critical information about your writing and story-telling abilities. That aforementioned first sentence should not reveal your story’s end. In fact, it should have very little to do with how it ends. If the book you’re submitting is a work of non-fiction then the first chapter should set up the sequential run of the book in an almost documentary style. What does that mean? Your non-fiction table of contents should be set up in a kind of building-blocks style. Each chapter builds and lends to the other. It makes sense. A non-fiction book usually sets up its thesis or premise and then the supporting chapters provide the development and explanation of the thesis or premise – and guide the reader through something to essentially persuade or sway them to understanding, agreeing or acknowledging what you wrote makes sense.

On the other hand, chapter one in a piece of fiction establishes the essential framework for the story. It introduces the hero or protagonist. It provides the essence of the story; establishes the setting; and plants the seed of the plot. It may or may not introduce all of the players in the story; but at the very least it provides the launch pad for the story. It doesn’t move so rapidly into the story as to not develop these essentials described above. It begins a slow build of all elements; fully explains motivation and character; and with supreme giftedness starts to gently pull the reader through the story.

A huge, huge mistake will often take root in chapter one. We call this the “impatient writer syndrome.” The impatient writer so eager to tell his or her story will hurl the characters into place. Take no time to build and develop them. And within pages the impatient writer expects the reader to fully understand each and every character. This problem then gets exacerbated by dialog plagued by a two-pronged dilemma: dialog for each character sounds identical and the dialog is bad.

Smart Girls
“Now Daisy Duke why ain’t you’s sitting the way you’s should?”
Sir Drakeley’s butler enters the ornate room and stops.
“Sir, can I get you another bottle of vodka?”
“No, Daisy Duke ain’t sittin’ like she should.”
“Yes, sir I see.”
“Now you’s make her sit now, would ya.”
“Yes, sir you’re the master of the house.”
The butler sets down the tray and tries to force the Great Dane to sit. The dog stands firm.
The dialog itself can be very revealing of a poorly written manuscript. Dialog plays an artful part in great literature. It needs to sound natural and most importantly appropriate to the demographic of the character and time period. As mentioned earlier, bad dialog can be compared to really bad food – it tastes and smells bad; therefore, I won’t eat it. Bad dialog that sounds hokey, contrived or cliché grates on the reader’s inner ear. It destroys suspension of disbelief. And just makes a potentially great story one that the reader easily passes on.

Bad dialog can be bad for many reasons, but the key reason may not stand out to the writer. The most obvious is stilted dialog inappropriate to the age group or time period of the characters. In other words a 30-year-old woman in 1880 does not talk the same way as 12-year-old boys in 1970. Each character will have expressions and idioms unique to the cadence and inflection of their voices (as written). It’s very difficult to illustrate really bad dialog; yet bad dialog can be the first in a series of disastrous red flags that kill your chance of being published. Before you even consider chapter one as finished, read your dialog aloud with some friends. We like to call the hokey dialog the part where you “grimace” because you just heard how awful what you wrote sounds.

Examples of dialog:

Bad: Joe, a 60-year-old grandfather, says, “Dude! Let’s catch a ride in my fucking truck. Cool dude.”
Good: Joe, a 60-year-old grandfather, says, “Hey! I’ve got errands. Hop in my truck. Let’s go.”

You see while the writing itself isn’t bad, the age-appropriate response of a 60-year-old saying an expression commonly used by 20-year-old men sounds odd and inappropriate. You have Grandpa sounding like a surfer dude who wants to drive his “fucking truck.” How many surfer grandfathers do you know? We’ll bet on the side of not many. How does the reader react? “This writer doesn’t know what she is doing.” And if that idiotic dialog happens to be say on page one? Uh-oh! Here goes the “no” pile.

The Grammar Police
Now follow this horrible dialog up with the next faux pas: poor writing and weak grammar and you’ve got a real winner, winner chicken dinner! The weak writing part is almost like throwing chum to a swarm of hungry sharks. Our joke in the office is we call some readers “grammar police.” The grammar police, readers with degrees in English, love proper grammar – and they just adore telling you when you goof up your grammar, syntax or style. Oh, the grammar police are the snarkiest people. We personally try to avoid putting on our badge and just don’t pass weak writers through the process without encouraging them to purchase editing services. None the less, traditional publishers don’t offer editorial services so all those readers with an English degree and eager to use it, will be turned off by your grammatical mistakes. In fact, if grammar isn’t your forte, we strongly encourage you to hire a professional editor before you send your manuscript off for inspection. The grammar police won’t act sympathetic to your misspelled words when you do have spell- and grammar checks on your word processor. The grammar police will actually see it as a sign of disrespect. So, we recommend you clean up your work before you submit it anywhere.

This chapter was taken from the 3L Publishing book titled Vanity Circus, which is available on Amazon or the the website at www.3LPublishing.com. For information on our publishing services, please send an email to info@3LPublishing.com or call 916-300-8012 or 916-502-1661.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Swimming Against the Current ... Just Go with It

Santa Monica, California
Yesterday, our nation's national holiday, and I was intent on spending the day solo ... me, my computer, and my work. I have several books moving forward through 3L Publishing, so the idea of a clearly focused day sounded quite fine. It drifts on ... I'm getting depressed instead. I'm missing my daughter big time (she left for the next couple of weeks). My old screenwriting partner posts about the Patanque games out in Santa Monica. Now I have to be frank. I didn't want to go anywhere. I tend to be reclusive when I'm down ... you know just nurse your wounds in private. I also know that when I do go out and laugh with friends I feel better. OK then ... get out the door ... scoot, scoot! I even made an effort with my appearance and dressed nice enough. Scoot I went -- and you know what I realized? It is sometimes good to go with the current. Fly by the seat of your pants a little and have fun. I had an amazing afternoon. I sat in the sun and watched the game and shockingly didn't get sunburned. The weather was as perfect as it could ever be (see picture).

Later I moved swiftly through the crowds and every time I turned around what did I see ... lovers! Ah man! What did that do? Make me heck of lonely ... that is what that did! So, I post on Facebook a mere mention ... and so sweet ... guys to my rescue LOL ... guys, it's OK to be lonely in the face of healing. Thank you to those who called me beautiful ... a girl needs a boost every now and again. I definitely needed the nice thoughts and compliments for sure. I learned two things (and I always share what I learn): sometimes just go with the flow (the current) and just open yourself up. I can't do anything about "is-ness" right now. I keep waiting for some sign that it's all going to be okay. I keep waiting for reassurance that all my dreams are going to come true. I want my TV series script California Girl Chronicles to be picked up -- that would put me into orbit. I need a boost Universe. I need to know that it's all going to be okay! I fight anxiety and try to release and let it go. I need some really great news! I need my lover to come back to me ... I miss him, too. I need to know it's all going to be okay! That all of this work ... all of this separation from my kids and my lover is truly for the good. And I can't ask anymore ... I have to patiently watch, wait and see! Go with the current ... but know those are my prayers!

So I vow to get out, make friends, have a life, and laugh. Oh, and make 3L and California Girl Chronicles both huge successes!!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Today is the First Day of the Rest of My Life

I don't know maybe it's continuous sleep for over a week now. Maybe it's energies colliding. Maybe it's the shifts in my life. Maybe it's my love who set me free to finish an ugly process. Maybe it's all of these things colliding, mixing and becoming my reinvented, refreshed and renewed self. I am feeling ready to conquer the world! I feel alive again. It started last March and while there were some great "gifts" that came through, the difficulties dog piled on me with non-stop and painful drops of rain. This revelry is reflection and return and poetry ... ode to the conscious part of self. I've always guarded my private world pretty well, but in the last few moments, readers have become aware of my life more and more. The specifics still heavily vaulted. The darkness rises. The light comes in as barely cracks through the shudders -- and then the window opens in half and onto completeness. I'm at half with forward motion toward full. I did some monumental things this morning to let the light in more. I am now even more self-aware of what I did to keep the blinds closed on someone I hold dear. And you all now know, it's not easy to make changes. It's not easy to make huge leaps. It's not easy to reinvent and to become ... and as my love knows ... to finally "be" ... not be in love or in lust ... to be present! To be in my own skin and to "be" happy with myself! It is as the movie title suggested only in the best sense: The "Bearable" Lightness of Being!

I want to publicly acknowledge my love who actually truly allowed me (not us) to be! My gratitude and love for him is bottomless and overflowing with appreciation. So few real "men" or even human beings would have granted something so needed, so selfless and so necessary. Cheers! And know, there is a second level of "to be" coming ...

Monday, July 2, 2012

True Blood, Season 5, Episode 4 - Review

Ah, it's Monday which means Sunday night has come and gone with a healthy dose of True Blood. I usually watch the episode twice in one night to get a really good recap for you. Last night, I was tired and only watched one. So, this might not be as "enthusiastic" as it could be if I paid closer attention. OK, I thought that at least Sookie got some better time, but the whole drunken make-out session with Alcide with her two great loves Bill and Eric watching, and their decided lack of interest in it ... not ringing true. It was less than a week ago in show time that Sookie and Eric declared their undying love. What happened here? Both have forgotten their strong feelings? This whole season love story wise with Sookie and Eric is a total numb void of non-reactions and non-reflection. I can tell you from experience (especially since I have my own love life in action and this is a not-so-subtle message to my guy), love doesn't die like that ... not real, true, connected, amazing love. After Sookie and Eric declared their "love" to have them completely disconnect and just go numb to each other doesn't ring to an ounce of truth. We didn't even see a little flinch on Eric's face! A week ago fans, a week ago ... not possible! Then we have the whole fairy land weirdness ... no comment. The chancellor's scene and the revealing of the traitor was intense and interesting, that part got much better marks. Jessica glamouring Andy, yaye, fantastic and a nice beat for her character. Tara's attempt suicide, and Pam finally taking charge of her progeny -- fantastic! Thank you! All right, so there you eager fans. My weekly recap.