Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to Create Memorable Characters

Think about it. What glues and holds you to a novel? Yes, a great story is important, but isn't it really great characters that make it memorable? My book California Girl Chronicles has a very basic story: young screenwriter goes to Hollywood to make it only to be distracted by hot men. It's not a terribly complex story by any means. It's definitely frothy, good fun, but what do people talk about the most in all of the reviews -- my flawed, beautiful character, Brea. You can have a "thin" story, but if the characters are really interesting, great and fun to follow, it won't matter. People will be hooked to the character's adventures or in Brea's case, her misadventures, which makes it critical that writers understand that their characters must be fully developed, interesting, compelling and made to do provocative things that hold the reader's interest. So how do you create a memorable character?

Distinct Voice -- make sure you start with the very basic voice of the character. Make sure it's not vanilla. Your character's voice should be distinct and easily identifiable from the other characters. Sit down and create a background and history for your character. This background should include dialect, socio economic influences, family influences, and demographic information such as education or lack thereof. If you know this about your character you can identify how he or she should behave and talk based on these things.

Behavior -- give your character a moral code. What are his/her religious beliefs or lack thereof. What is his/her belief system that impacts their standards and behavior. Are they conservative, liberal, non-political or just indifferent. Are they just one big contradiction (which is always interesting). Use these basic beliefs and behavior to imbue your character with the right behavior.

Overall Character Development -- don't gloss over your character. Spend time to slowly develop an interesting character by developing the character within the story. Make sure you show your character doing things not saying it. Wrap the character around the story. And let me repeat, "show" don't tell. If you spend time showing the character's behavior, you will be able to fully develop this person on the page.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Coaching Services

If you're an aspiring novelist or you have a book you've written yet you can't seem to get a "yes" when it comes to getting an agent or publisher, maybe it's time for an objective third party to take a look at it. A qualified professional like one of our top-notch editors at 3L Publishing who can provide insight and guidance not only on the content of the book, but also on the marketplace.

A qualified book coach can provide the following:

Objective story or content analysis -- whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, a coach can review the contents. If the book is non-fiction, the coach can look at the overall structure to ensure it's organized in a readable, easy-to-understand way. If it's fiction, the coach will look at the overall story arc and structure, character development, and dialog.

Provide recommendations and comments for change -- your book coach will go into the heart of the book and provide specific recommendations on what to change to improve the story and how to execute the change. We like to provide specific comments, suggestions and examples right in the manuscripts. We will even rewrite sections to illustrate the point, and writers can elect to lift and use those suggestions.

Dialog -- weak dialog can completely ruin a perfectly good book. Writers often can write a great story and then fail to write authentic dialog and provide unique voices for each character. A coach can provide objective ideas about how to improve the dialog.

Marketability -- the coach can also give the author ideas on how to make their books more marketable and valuable to the audience. Suggestions in terms of overall story and maybe changing the focus or tweaking ideas to gain more market share. For example, with so much buzz over 50 Shades of Grey, the erotic book market is ablaze with want-to-be competitors.

If you would like us to coach your book, please send an email to or call 916-300-8012. We will gladly discuss your publishing needs. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Turning Points and Transitions

I think I can write the book on turning points and transitions LOL. This year's theme is all about turning points that catalyze transitions. I am fearless (most of the time). I am also one of these people who will go so far and then break. I also simmer, which isn't good. Sometimes all that simmering boils over, and hence, the turning point. Some people never get past the turning point to really make the transition forward. If you can keep moving forward in a positive direction your results and your life are sure to prosper. Of course, karma is big, too. Always try to do all of this with integrity and honesty. Yeah, you'll stumble and fall and yeah you'll make mistakes, but if in your heart you try do everything with the intention to get positive results, you'll be OK. I have cuts and scrapes all over my knees from metaphorically falling, but don't worry, it always heals over. If it leaves a scar rather than feel blemished marvel over it. It's now a part of you and a good reminder to learn whatever lesson you were supposed to learn. So, I hit a major turning point, and then I instigated the transition -- and all of this will give me positive results, because these choices were made in my own best interest. Don't be afraid to confront your life. Don't be afraid to make positive choices in your own best interest. Don't be afraid, period. And you will get the results you want.

Monday, August 27, 2012

True Blood, Season 5, Finale

Wow! Last night's True Blood Season Finale just kicked bad-ass. My two favorite enders: Andy Bellfleur become a new father four times over and Bill's final transformation into evil-doer for Season 6. It was absolutely intense to watch Bill's slow descent into villain, and the show delivered when he drank Lilith's blood, turned into a puddle of blood, and rose from the blood into the next evil-doer on the level of Russell Edgington, who by the way received his just ending. Yes, Russell just got a major ray zap of Faery power volts and that ended him nicely. Well done Alan Ball and crew -- you really did a masterful job to wrap up the season with a little pop, sludge and cry! Then we had poor Luna who had skin-walked her way right in front of the TV cameras only to face the mic, throw up blood, and keel over in what appears to be her untimely demise. And of course, Sam who flew into the mouth of the vile female chancellor only to take over her body and explode out -- yeah baby! I'm telling you, great, great end to what I would say was truly only an OK season. If you haven't seen it yet, don't miss out.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Your Book: The First "Line" of Success

3L Publishing has a new book in development titled Vengeance is Now. It's in development so I can't disclose the details of the book, but the author ran the opening chapter by me. When we're closer to publishing it, I will share the very first line of the book, but what I want to say is the author clearly understands how to capture the reader's attention right there smack on page one. New and emerging authors often fail to understand the critical point that you lose your reader (and your chance with a publisher) almost literally on page one. When we evaluate potential manuscripts to publish, the first thing we do is look at chapter one. If you can nail it in the first line of the book -- you are truly gifted. I can't wait to disclose his first line, because it would make it easier for you to understand why I'm so impressed. What always shocks me are authors who submitted their sample chapters with the caveat: the first chapter is the weakest. What?! Your first chapter is the grabber. The first chapter is the beginning of the slow build and pull into the story. Why would you make it your weakest? Your chances of finding a publisher are greatly diminished. I know in all fairness I should give a book more than a page, but truthfully if an author hasn't nailed it right in that opening then it's not likely to get much better, and my time is precious. So, do two things to help the success of your book: Make sure the opening is amazing and make sure the first chapter is an incredibly well-written chapter that sucks the reader right in. If your first chapter is the "weakest link," so to speak, please stop and put forth your best effort. Do not submit it to a publisher in that condition. You have one chance to make a great first impression, do it right.

If you have a fiction or non-fiction book you would like to submit, please send a sample chapter and summary to Before you submit, I encourage you to look at my website at

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why Blogging Boosts Business

In the soon-to-be-released 3L Publishing book 10 Powerful Women 10 Strategic Insights into Successful Business, blogging is discussed as a powerful social marketing tool. A few key points important about blogging and its value for marketing your business. According to the 10 Powerful Women, companies that blog have 55 percent more website visitors and overall 88 percent more leads (in consumer market) and 67 percent more leads in (business sector). The main reason I persuade our marketing clients (yes, 3L Publishing does have exclusively marketing and public relations clients, too) to blog is the ability to drive more traffic to their websites. The search engine optimization (SEO) that arises from keyword labels pushes out to the Internet and pulls in visitors who do Google or Yahoo searches to find your blog articles. You need to ensure you make it easy to drive that traffic to your website by having that information readily available through information about your blog and links back to your website. Blogging also enables you to provide education- or information-based marketing information -- and that means exactly like it sounds. It's not about providing just links to information or a line of information here and there. You want to provide your prospects with fundamental and valuable information related to what your company provides in products or services. What I do with my blog is wrap entertaining information around things like story telling, inspirational ideas, and sometimes articles just for fun (you need to know and understand the "culture" or personality of my company) with hardcore business savvy about marketing, public relations, publishing, general business and more.

Many clients will look at the idea of a blog and conceptually think it's a great idea, but also realize the work involved might be too overwhelming. They also think they won't have enough to write about. I'll tell you when it comes from an information-based campaign, you will always have enough to write about. If you're not a writer, hire a blogger. 3L Publishing writers can be hired to blog for you. In fact, I blog for World Less Traveled several times a week.

If you would like more information on our blog services, please send an email to or call 916-300-8012.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Key Ways to Promote Your Book

Authors often get so caught up in the process of writing and publishing their books that they often forget that the book is only 50 percent of the game. In fact, of equal weight and importance is the marketing and promotion. Truth in storytelling: you can publish a well-written, award-worthy book but if no one knows it exists than what's the point? It will gather dust on the bookshelf. So, here are three mission-critical tips to promote your book:

Virtual Blog Tours -- the blogging world has grown exponentially. The book review bloggers are an underground wealth of sales. Diehard reviewers from small one-person blogs to larger blogs such as Fresh Fiction can build a ground swell of interest in your book. I like to call this grassroots attention. You start with the smaller bloggers who like and recommend your book and then you get the attention of the larger blogs. It's like she told two friends and so on and so forth. A virtual blog tour also means you don't leave your desk. You literally do interviews and participate in the tour without having to travel, which is nice.

Distribute Advance Review Copies (ARCs) -- the problem I face with authors is impatience when it comes to the distribution of ARCs. Many authors won't give us a chance to do the ARC promotion -- they are eager to get the book on Amazon and earn those quick early sales. Words of wisdom, though, the ARCs are critical for the larger book reviewers who consider a book old once it's released on Amazon. They only want to see pre-releases, and your book will get overlooked since in their eyes it's suddenly old once it's on Amazon. ARCs typically go to larger tier 1 media that includes the likes of the New York Times, Redbook, More Magazine and other broadcast media such as the Today Show or Good Morning America. As a smaller author, these media outlets are difficult to get attention, but should you get their attention your book's sales could skyrocket so it's worth a try to get them an ARC.

Social Media -- Facebook and Twitter are two key social media sites worth building for an author's audience. Authors can use social media to promote and make announcements about media appearances, book reviews, and articles about their books. It can take a great deal of effort to build up social media connections, so it's best to start with a fan page on Facebook. You can also do event pages to promote book signings and launches. Be prepared to spend a great deal of effort to leverage social media, as it takes time to build and maintain, but it can definitely create viral interest in your book.

Monday, August 20, 2012

True Blood, Season 5, Episode 11

This week's episode finds the citizens of Bontemps all merging together in their story lines toward the Vampire Authority and the imminent Lilith Apocalypse. We have Sam and Luna as two white mice scurrying around the Authority to find Emma. We have Jessica being hauled off to turn Jason (as there is an edict to make as many vampires as possible). We Sookie's realization she's "betrothed" to some vampire spirit. Then we have Russell and Steve Newlin wreaking havoc all over the place and on a mission to find a faery. The convergence of the story lines was rather unexpected but a nice twist on the season that in some ways appeared to have each story locked in bubbles. The entire Authority story seemed to me to drag on much too long, with my favorite vamps all stuck in this government-like, sacred complex. Sticking Eric Northman in one place for too many episodes seemed much too boring to me. I wanted to see him do more this season. He is now finally on the loose with his sister Nora by his side, but I saw in the preview, he's going to be flung back into the Authority (again). Kind'a sick of the Authority set I must say. I think overall it's interesting with the major confrontations ahead, but I have mixed feelings about this season. I felt like Sookie really became more of a side-dish (could be because Anna Paquin is pregnant in real life), and the other stories were just okay. I thought for a season that got off to a strong start, it would be fuller and richer. Well, next week is the finale, so we'll see how it all wraps up.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thoughtful Relationship Building

Up early and ready to what on a Sunday? Work! Yep, I got behind when I went back up to Northern California to do some networking. So now I have to get a few projects back on track. I've also found myself easily distracted ... oh, look it's Facebook ... oh look my favorite person texted me ... oh I have to email that one! The distractions abound just sitting at my desk. I used to be better at managing the distractions, but lately not so much. Now let's not get too distracted writing this, too. Now surely I must have something more meaningful to say to help improve your business, right? OK, fine I will try and get serious ... sort of ... or not. No, no, no! I'm going to get serious (five seconds worth). Here are three mission-critical things you should be doing if you're in business:

Thoughtful Relationship Building. When I say thoughtful, I mean not going out and networking with the sole purpose of just meeting someone and setting up a business coffee-break moment. I mean truly meeting them and doing so only with the intention of helping them - and if something else comes of it great ... if not, you've made yourself memorable. Who doesn't feel warm and fuzzy about someone who reached out and generously helped them?

Generosity of Spirit. I said this the other day to a close friend of mine whom I respect. When he gives talks or speeches, I've noticed he doesn't hold back. He is open and willing to help anyone who will ask. He doesn't feel competitive - and this is the key. He really and selflessly wants to help. And if you're generous with your knowledge, expertise and insight, people will warm to you. And whom do people work with? People they like.

Watch Your Reputation, too. These strategic business-building behaviors will make your business a success. Acting like a baboon will do the opposite. Being loud mouthed, insensitive or blithely unaware of your actions leaves a bad impression. Intrusively and selfishly throwing business cards, talking non-stop about your own business, and forgetting to listen to others will get you unceremoniously regaled in the Bad Business Hall of Fame. And believe me when I say, your loutish behavior will follow you around the business world much like a terrible skunk smell years after it has rotted. I can tell you unequivocally who I know out in the business world who smells rather "skunkish," and who I will never promote or do business with. So your reputation once destroyed is really hard to rebuild.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Book Launch Party for Under the Sycamores

Michael Perrotta, author of Under the Sycamores,
Michelle Gamble-Risley, and
Jeff Cohen
Nothing generates initial sales for a new book like Under the Sycamores (available on the 3L website at and Amazon) like a fabulous book launch party. Friends, family and supporters will come out and make that initial investment in the book, and the author enjoys the sales. And what the heck? It's a party ... you can't lose there.

Monday, August 13, 2012

True Blood, Season 5, Episode 9 -- The Most Beautiful Scene

Last night I watched True Blood, and I normally review it the next day. Well, I am going to review it, but I want to focus on the Jessica/Hoyt/Jason scene. I was never more moved by the show than when I watched that scene. This season has brought a lot of heart to the show. Between Pam and Tara bonding and this scene about letting go, I was just caught up. But let's skip right to the Jessica/Hoyt/Jason scene. Poor Hoyt had just lost everything -- his first love and best friend along with a list of miseries in his descent into despair. When he asks Jessica to glamour away his hurt, I completely understood the desire. Wouldn't a lot of us beg to have the pain erased from our memories if we could? It's an understandable request, but on the flip side, isn't it our pain and hurt that makes us who we are? It rounds us out. It deepens us. We are supposed to learn lessons from every painful moment in our lives as well as the happy ones. I always like to say, how can you know the thrill of the roller coaster that is life if you don't know the difference between the rise, level off, and fall. You can't know pure happiness if you don't know sadness and everything else in between. Life would be flat. So, Hoyt's desire to have his hurt glamoured away is like that forbidden wish from the Genie.

The tenderness and heart of this scene is what got my tears flowing. Jessica's objection to her first love not remembering her; her generosity in realizing that he needed it to move on; Jason's plea for Hoyt to stay; and the reconciliation and realization of both offending parties that this was their consequence. The tears were so heartfelt. Jason's tears got me. And when he has his final moment with "Bubba" and dissolves into Sookie's arms, I cried, too. He lost his best friend in every way, shape and form. And whoever wrote this episode, kudos to how it was done ... that is fantastic storytelling at its best. I only hope to write scenes like that some day.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Art of Delegation

I am working on editing the book The Fortune is in the Follow-Up by the illustrious and enduring Heidi BK Sloss. In her book, she brings up a discussion on delegation. She also mentions something about mourning the loss of a task you enjoyed doing but because of time constraints had to delegate. I had some thoughts about this comment. Here is what I found. I love doing a lot of things, but when something I love doing is keeping me from making money, I always try to give it up. While I might miss doing it, I am often quite relieved it's no longer on my plate. Or if I share the responsibility of doing something with a back-up person, I feel less pressure, too. For example, when I try to edit AND proof read a book, it's always a mistake. A second pair of eyes on a book I've stared at for often months can be comforting. Yes, it costs me money, but at least I know the material I grew "blind" to is going to jump out at a less-stressed and fresh pair of eyes. I found it expensive to delegate it, but in the end, much less stressful. How much is money worth to my stress? Not to mention the confidence I gain in knowing the book will be as close to perfect as possible. I do enjoy proofing. Was it hard to delegate? Yes. Was it the right choice for both my business and the client's best interests ... yes.

3L Publishing offers marketing and public relations copy writing and collateral development, editorial and writing services, and graphics and Web development. For more information, please send an email to

Friday, August 10, 2012


Study the base
look into the light
see the formation
just prepare for flight

Hire the foreman
give him the sight
trust your instincts
and follow the right

Pour the foundation
see it all wet
know you patience
don't get in the fret

Watch it gel
see it all dry
don't get in a hurry
just be shy

Now is the sunrise
the time and place
prepare for the walk
and get in the pace

Now is the time
Now is the space
begin the journey
but don't make it a race

Enjoy each moment
revel in the emotion
move through and forward
and dive into the deep, blue ocean

~ Michelle Gamble-Risley

Thursday, August 9, 2012


The temperance of waiting
The desire of light
The road keeps on stretching
The longing inside keeps on

Every spirit of loving
holds my hand and sings in my ear
and I keep on listening
but I still want you near

I keep asking where is the devotion?
Why not?
And then the whispering angels say it again
There is no not

Time is an illusion
in process and ethereal peace
and there is no end
even as we speak

I feel peaceful abandon
And then I feel it no more
I feel loving connection
And then I feel your fear

And then the cloud drifts above me
Fluffy and light in the shape of a heart
I close my eyes
I smile

I know temperance is waiting
and wanting some more
yet you are not here
and the angels sing quietly

"Faith is believing something good will happen..."

~ Michelle Gamble-Risley

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Always Eat Ice Cream!

Bo Bradley, operations manager
Bo Bradley, operations manager, 3L Publishing, and I went to Disneyland mid-week to enjoy a respite from the daily grind and to unleash our inner children. A dear friend of mine suggested that if we were truly to unleash the kid beneath, eat ice cream! Of course on a hot summer day, the suggestion sounded perfectly apropos, so eat ice cream we did. And since any true girl would choose chocolate and strawberry, I obliged my spirit of youth and added those flavor to my sundae. What better way to start our Disney sojourn then naturally to eat ice cream and ride the Pirates of the Caribbean. And that my friends is how we work around here. Come eat ice cream with us ... you're always invited. Send us an email at

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Under the Sycamores Launches at Italian Cultural Institute

Michelle Gamble-Risley, CEO
Last night, my operations manager Bo Bradley and I visited the Italian Cultural Institute to help host the book launch for the charming, beautiful and well-written Under the Sycamores. We spent the evening drinking some first-rate wine to the toast of the literary town, Michael Perrotta who basked in the glow of his success. The book itself is a perfect example of the quality of product produced by my company 3L Publishing. If you are an author and you're ready to go forward and publish your book and you want it to read and look absolutely perfect, please send us a sample chapter to

Monday, August 6, 2012

Overcoming Obstacles

This morning, I was confronted with a situation. I had been planning to move forward on several projects with one of my partners. It all out of nowhere got derailed by the unexpected or more like unanticipated. I was discouraged. I have a lot of balls in the air with my partner, and this would knock the plan off track. I thought about it and felt frustrated -- more barriers to forward motion. Well, if there is anything I've learned in life and business, barriers are not meant for you to sit on the rock, open your picnic lunch, and enjoy the view. You study your barrier, size it up, and make a plan to move over, under or around it. The road to success is going to have rocks in the way, potholes to fall in, and distractions like pretty wildlife. It's your focused determination to make your goal no matter what that will achieve your success. So whenever a barrier gets in the way, don't get upset by it. Laugh at it and wave to your foreman to drive over the bulldozer and push it out of the way.

Sunday, August 5, 2012



Strike the match on the mantle
Light it aglow
Illuminate the feelings
And let it flow

Strike the heart on fire
Let it resonate from within
And charge up the emotion
Until it comes outside in

Hit the switch on the wall
And let it light up
And then release the ignition
And switch it corrupt

Let the candle light glow
And light on the walls
Till the shadows do pass
And drift in the show

See my truth now
And see it you shall
My heart is light
And this is quite yours

I am waiting in patience
in the quiet moonlight
and will continue
and will continue
and will continue

Till night ...

~ Michelle Gamble-Risley

Friday, August 3, 2012

Unfolding Light

Unfolding Light

The road ahead 
The mirage at the end
Is that the oasis?
Or is it my wish?

The journey ahead
The beautiful mountain range
Is it in the way?
Or do I have to climb over or around it?

The place in my heart
Is it filled with light and love
Is it just for you?
Or do I have to put it somewhere safe?

The vision of my soul
Is that the truth at the end?
Is it the ultimate beauty?
Or do I have to transform the ideal?

The wish for the dream
Is it the power of the light?
Will it magnify the essence?
Or do I have to bow my head in acceptance?

~ Michelle Gamble-Risley

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Importance of Gratitude

Gratitude is immensely important. The Universe or God (whatever your choice in a higher power) only wants love and abundance for us. So, today I am going to publicly express my gratitude ...

I am grateful for ...

My life in all its transformations
My children that are lights of joy
My friends who love me and I them
My business flourishing and allowing me the freedoms to live my way
My talents and gifts that bring me happiness and fuel my passion
My clients who I enjoy
My spiritual abilities that tell me the truth
Everyone who has loved me on this journey

With light, love and compassion,
Michelle Gamble-Risley, CEO, 3L Publishing (

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Don't Forget to Hug Your Publisher

Ack! I haven't blogged today. Well, I can tell you why ... it's invoice day. I spent my entire morning doing invoicing. Of course, you have to invoice if you're a business owner -- there is no way around that one. I put my odd title "Don't Forget to Hug Your Publisher," because we all need a hug once in a while, huh! As a newly single publisher (and since my kids don't live with me), I miss hugs. Touching is so healing ... and yes, this blog is all over the place LOL. Why? Because I wasn't sure what I was going to say to keep you all entertained. Are you entertained yet ... or do you just want to hug me? I'm very huggable indeed. If you haven't hugged someone today, grab the nearest person and give them a good squeeze! Your immune system will thank me.