Thursday, October 31, 2013

Flying Lessons: How I Learned to Soar in Life, Love and Business

As a writer you often have several ideas for books floating around in your imagination. I started writing my new novel Body in the Trunk, which I intend to release next spring at the RT Book Lovers Convention in New Orleans. I've had another book idea floating around, too, and it's officially titled Flying Lessons: How I Learned to Soar in Life, Love and Business. It's a compiled inspirational/self-help book that is designed to teach people through personal stories how to succeed. Now I'm not talking about monetary success. I've had plenty of monetary success, but certainly not at the millionaire level. It's more about what kind of mindset and outlook on life removes barriers and negative thinking that traps people into mediocrity and accepting far less than they deserve. I placed this quote on Facebook yesterday, and I think it states the theme of the book very well:


Never, ever, ever aspire to a life of mediocrity! You are better than average. Always aspire for the stars and then soar!

I know some pretty brilliant and incredible people who under certain circumstances settle for mediocrity -- whether it's in life, love or business. Maybe they've tried to succeed in these areas many times and nothing panned out. Tired, broke or frustrated, they throw in the aspirations and settle for "OK" or what I call in the book "vanilla pudding". I personally feel that settling for vanilla pudding or milk toast isn't very inspiring. The best part of Flying Lessons is that I'm writing it from the point-of-view that we can all soar, but the climb doesn't have to involve material riches. You don't have to become the next Oprah Winfrey to aspire to greatness in whatever you're doing. Not settling for mediocrity in my mind means going for the Gold Standard in whatever you're doing. If you're a great sales person, for example, aspiring for greatness in sales. If you're looking to get married not just marrying the next guy you meet that meets none of your personal needs, but he is willing to marry you. If you open a business it means not being happy that you only paid your bills or that your product works. 

If you're one of my Facebook followers and you've enjoyed some of my inspirational quotes, I think Flying Lessons is going to appeal to you. I will be taking poetic license and sharing personal stories. Each chapter offers a lesson followed by a personal story that reflects how I learned that lesson. The book will be ready for the 2014 book season, and I may release it as only an eBook and do some limited print copies for speaking and back-of-the-room sales. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Your Facebook and What Privacy Settings Should You Use

Over the years, I've had this discussion with business owners. What privacy settings should you use when you have a Facebook page? The other question centers on who you should allow as a "friend" and should it only be people you really know? I'm going to provide my opinion to each question:

Privacy Settings--people who are in business for themselves and promote any material with their actual names on it should never set privacy settings to the strictest levels, which is only friends can see your page. If you use your name on your marketing materials (and this applies to authors in particular) then your "fans" are going to search by your name. The whole point of social media (more important than using it to socializing if you're a business person) is to network and connect with others. Locking down your page and preventing others from reading your Wall puts a barrier between you and your audience. Potential connections who are trying to size up your business and understand if they should reach out to you won't be able to see anything posted. Now one might argue, but I have a fan page and I want to restrict my personal page. Well, my response to that argument if you have a "name" is that people are still going to search for your name to friend you. If you desire to keep personal information personal and private -- and you have a well-known name -- my suggestion is to tweak your name just enough and switch over to a strictly personal page and keep your professional page out in the public eye. The bottom line: you do not want any barriers with your prospective clients, customers or fans.

The real meaning of "friends" -- my joke is 3500 of my nearest and dearest. I accept everyone who reaches out to me. I started with 200 connections and the other 3300 reached out to me not the other way around. In fact, I don't friend anyone these days. In the early days the argument was, "I only friend those people I know." But in the networking world that argument fails. You don't know why someone has friended you in the first place. Are they an author looking for a home? Are they a potential marketing and PR client? If I reject their "friendship" that answer will never be given. Some prospective clients will check out my posts for a year or more before they bring me their business. If I closed off my page to true friends I would lose potential business. The bottom line again is I am a business person, and I am using social media to do business. Yes, it's fun at times, but I'm not on it to socialize. If I want to socialize I will create a secondary personal page under a tweaked name and keep my personal friends ... my real friends in that ecosystem. However, I don't think it matters. I just keep my content relatively impersonal to protect my privacy and keep a fan page for 3L Publishing.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Excerpt from "Body in the Trunk"


As a writer, there are always those characters you like to write. In my new novel, Body in the Trunk my two favorite detectives Phil and Leron provide the best moments. To put this conversation in context, Leron continually brags to his partner he has sex with his girlfriend Evonne every single night, which evokes the question of whether or not it's true. Here is a scene that comes after Phil "could" have seduced one of the female protagonists, which he did not, and Leron is disappointed in his lack of performance. 

“Yo man, you played checkers with her?” groaned Leron when he heard his partner’s story from the evening before.
They were standing in the line to board the plane, a three-way stop to New York. The woman Gladys at the precinct who booked travel always chose the cheapest flights to, of course, save money. Phil thought how ridiculous since the time lost cost more money, but you can’t argue with a five-foot tall Asian grandma who ruled the travel budget with an iron gavel. And the verdict was always: three-stops, period because Delta was cheapest and that airline stopped in many hubs. Phil and Leron were each holding black nylon gym bags and inching forward with the procession of passengers.
“Not checkers!” Phil groaned and added, “Chess.”
“Dude, you’re like some retard who plays chess with a hot chick! What the fuck is wrong with you, man? You’re supposed to bang her with that foot-long of yours,” he said and shook his. “Fuck!”
“We’re working together moron,” replied Phil who did consider how lame he sounded to a guy who got laid every night of the week.
“Tell that shit to your mama,” he replied. “Me, I’d be shoving my massive dick inside her hot pussy,” he said and gyrated his hips a bit. “She’d be begging for more. You, though, what a puss-ass!”
An older Hispanic gal in front of them turned and glared at Leron. Phil shoved him on the shoulder and in a whisper said, “Shut the fuck up! Grandma can hear you, man.”
Leron waved it off and then leaned forward, “Lo siento, abuela,” he nicely apologized in Spanish.
The older Hispanic woman smiled and stepped away.
“Look, see, you just apologize and shit. It’s all good,” he said and looked at his watch. “Dude, what time you say we arrive tonight?”
“Midnight,” replied Phil.
“Mother suck! It’s gonna be a long one,” complained Leron.

Building Sexual Tension in Writing: Part I

If you're going to write in the romance genre, you will need to learn to build sexual tension to keep readers hooked. For the record, this scene is from my forthcoming novel Body in the Trunk due out in Spring 2014. This kiss you're about to read is nothing more than a forbidden kiss between two would-be lovers. You don't have to get graphic to make a scene very hot and steamy. Notice it builds in literal beats. This scene doesn't take place until nearly page 80 of the book, so the reader till now has been watching the romantic leads tease each other. If the book were all-out erotica, you would have much more graphic scenes, which there is going to be a passionate payoff for sure. But not so early in the storytelling process: 

An invisible soul gave me permission. I kept my eyes on his. And ever so slowly centimeter-by-centimeter I let my lips move toward his. He didn’t stir. He was quiet and waiting. My lips slowly enfolded his supple lips, and the embers began to smolder, heat up, ignite and burn. I sucked in air, and then I sighed and freed myself. I gave in. I abandoned everything that cried to stop, and allowed the wanton craving for his sex to come over me in building waves. The kiss turned from a soft peck and to an all-out passionate French kiss with two tongues gently licking and touching – and wanting. I lifted my hands and touched each of his cheeks, and the swell of lust overcame and overwhelmed me. The yearning to straddle him and wrap my long legs around his chair and grind my hips into him was so strong that I ached for him. And then just as swiftly I pulled back, out of breath, and startled by my own act. I looked down and touched my lips that still felt as if his were on mine.

Movie Review: Bad Grandpa

Rating: **1/2

Bad Grandpa is one of those juvenile delinquent comedies you can't help but laugh, but mostly about the expressions and reactions of those around the offending characters. Please note, I am no Polyana and I knew going into the theater exactly what the movie would most likely involve -- a lot of base potty humor. I was naturally right, but my teenage son wanted to see it, so I obliged.

Do you know the type of movies where you laugh, and in the back of your mind you're thinking, "I shouldn't be laughing." Yes, Bad Grandpa qualified for this category of movie. I have to admit, though, I like a belly-ache laugh every now and again, and whether my higher sensibility was chastising me or not, I still laughed. For the record, though, I never enjoy watching children turned into little foul-mouthed versions of adults, and Billy, the little boy, became the subject of some jokes I didn't enjoy. The big one was the beer-drinking scene where he chokes and vomits. The funnier scenes involved what else? Potty humor. But the movie makers (I won't call these guys filmmakers) hid cameras and then the bad behavior ensued. The looks on the average people's faces made the whole movie. Of course, inappropriate behavior generally evokes reactions from the well-mannered society, and yes, these jokes played out well on the bystander's faces where expression ranged from shock to awe, to WTH?

Here is the deal, if you want to laugh and feel guilty that you did, go see Bad Grandpa. It's a guilty pleasure minus the pleasure.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Movie Review: The Counselor

Rating: **

I am a Ridley Scott fan. One of my all-time favorite movies Gladiator is a Ridley Scott film; so I went to see The Counselor with hopes of a movie that would be worthy of a five-star rating. I was disappointed. This movie was less action than cerebral exploration of life, greed, love and grief. I have to get my superficial comments out of the way. First, the costumes and slick fashionista approach to the story distracted from the realism. From the sunglasses to the hokey hairdos, it was much too much. Yes, we got the impression of the world of the rich and well-to-do, but at the same time, I found myself staring at the colorful wardrobe and ridiculous hairdos than paying attention to the story itself.

The actual story revolves around an attorney's fall from grace as he lets his pursuit of money get him involved in a drug cartel scheme to move drugs across the Mexican border to Chicago. This movie is a who-is-screwing-who mind-bender, except about halfway through Cameron Diaz's character becomes the obvious foe to watch, which actually detracts from the who's-behind-the-scheme question and ruins the suspense.

The whole movie becomes depressing with no one to root for. The greedy Counselor spends more time being lectured than pursued. And why he jumps from place to place is unclear. Who the real enemy in the film is also unclear and the Drug Cartel becomes a faceless nemesis. It's too bad because the movie had potential. But in the end all we learn is that evil wins, period.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Morning Musings: The Funniest Things

It's Friday, and I always try to find something part information part entertainment to lighten up the mood. Today I have a super funny submission story. When authors submit manuscripts they do so as Word or PDF attachments along with a summary of the book. We don't have super lofty requirements. Today's humor involves an author submission done in a very unconventional way -- he took a photo of it. Mind you not a straight-on shot. The page was angled and in shadows. A straight-on shot I might have been able to actually read; but a shot where the page was going off the "photo" (so to speak) and in shadows ... hmmm. Not to mention in my decrepit old age, I need reading glasses and couldn't read it anyway. I honestly started laughing. I think there must have been some worry about stealing the idea. Well, don't fret there fella. I couldn't read it to steal it ... or accept the submission LOL. And that is your amusing tale for a Friday morning.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Things We Can't Live Without

Do you realize that teenagers today don't even know what is a rotary phone? How about a manual camera? A life without text, voice mail or email or Skype ... what's that? My son wouldn't know what is an measurement of focus on a camera let alone know how to set it to take a picture. Film, what? You mean you don't have to simply download your pictures? What about a record? A vinyl record or a record player or even a tape deck? The technological leap that enables all the wonderful digital pleasures we enjoy today have also created an even greater instant gratification mentality. Who wants to wait to see a photo developed anyway?

And our communication has so greatly changed. Who would have imagined lovers could fight in text? A typing war of words and feelings. Text arguments are kind of strange, too, because it's a cold media. The good, you can organize your thoughts. The bad, no verbal cues or voice inflection. Actually, since I have partaken in text feuds a few times I've come to realize it's a control thing, too. You can think about and at least control your end of the argument. But I ask you who would have imagined just 16 years ago, text would become a romantic tool to not only court but also argue.

What's my point? I have none! LOL ... I just thought about this and remembered I needed to blog; but alas there is a meaning to the message ... somewhere ;).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Three Profile Pictures I Don't Want to See if I am Considering Working with You!


Now with social media taking over the networking landscape, here are three things NOT to do on social media:

Logos as your face on a professional page and not a fan page – never place a logo in place of a face. People don’t interact with brand names and swirly letters. They like to know they are talking to (e-gads) an actual warm-blooded human being. Fan pages are different. Liking a logo works in this case. I can think of a handful of “logos” I interact with and wonder, “Is this a guy or girl?”

Mug shots are scary – don’t use your iPhone to snap what appears to be nothing more than another Lindsay Lohan mug shot. If you’re genuinely using your social media to market and network, try a nice and professional head shot that is appealing. I’m not saying you need to look like a super model or GQ guy just keep it nice and “in focus.”

What ya got in your hands there Fred? What are you doing in your profile picture or background shot? Drinking? Table dancing? Wearing a bikini? Showing off your tramp stamp? You do realize prospective clients, and customers and employers do research to check out people on social media. If you’ve got photos of these questionable activities, please re-think it. 

P.S., all you social drinkers out there ... I've said this a bizzillion times so here I go again because I continually see the mistake. If all you ever do is drink at mixers and every single social shot you take you're holding a wine glass, please rethink it. One photo, no problem, two photos, all right, three photos, what you thinking? Four photos, uh-oh, does she have a problem with booze? Five photos, holy cow she's drinking ... again! Six photos, crap she's drunk ... again? Seven, does she know she needs help? Eight, maybe someone ought to say something to her family? Nine, I hope she's not drinking and driving! Ten, it's time for rehab! See my point? And BTW, the message is actually subtle and gets noted in the subconscious. Just a little notation for people who think it's harmless to post those photos. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Publishers: The Promise You Don't Want to Hear

"I guarantee an Amazon best-seller," is the promise that should a publisher make run for the hills. In a recent meeting with a prospective author, he asked me what I thought about that promise. Could I do the same? I stared at him and thought about what I wanted to say, but the look on my face must have given away the sarcasm waiting patiently on my tongue to escape. I finally relented and said, "I too can make that promise. I'll have my staff buy up 10 copies of your book in one afternoon. Boom! How's that -- you're an Amazon best-seller. Does that work for you?"

Any publisher that suggests their group can make your book and Amazon best-seller, or more like "promises" they can do so can only deliver with a guarantee what I just suggested. The value of the contract this author was looking at was $10,000 and a promise. I smiled and told him, it would cost probably $150 for that publisher to deliver his/her guarantee. He nodded and agreed he thought the promised best-seller routine was a scam, too.

My words of wisdom out there for authors: no publisher can promise an authentic Amazon best-seller. It's not possible to make such a promise. Why? Because it won't really be an Amazon best-seller. Yes, you might be able to now use the so-called cache, "My book is an Amazon best-seller," but the point of the best-seller status is for those people to have actually bought the book, enjoyed it, and spread the word. Word of mouth equals more sales equals more time spent in the top 100 on Amazon.

A best-selling book happens organically through marketing and promotion. Sometimes even the most well-written books don't achieve best-seller status. It's about interests and timing and sometimes even a cover change to entice more readers -- and that has nothing to do with content as frustrating as that reality might seem. I've had books in our catalog receive 20 reviews to no sales. I've had books receive one specific review in one key media and it launched the much-sought-after snowball effect and resulted in a best-seller. The bottom line: there is no magic bullet for whether or not a book becomes a best-seller. As I always joke, "We live in a society where the pet rock made someone a fortune. If I could predict which book would skyrocket to genuine best-seller status I would be rich."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Don't Try this at Home ... Self-Editing

I run into writers who are also professional editors. I'm sure they're all very good at their jobs. These same writers often get it into their heads that they don't need an editor -- they're editors. Most of the time I can talk them out of the "I-know-how" tree and back down to the ground and their best interests. These writers are often skeptical of my intentions since they falsely believe, "Well, she's just trying to make money." I am naturally in business to make money; but I'm not telling people they need an editor because I'm trying to make money. I'm telling them what I'll just call a "flat fact," which goes like this: even the editor needs an editor.

Here are the reasons why even if you're the queen or king of editing, you, too, need an editor:


  • Snow blind AKA computer screen blindness -- I think of it as snow blindness since the screen background is white. Time and time again our minds insert words where none exist. It's a weird mind trick that the reader has no control over. Snow blindness increases in direct proportion to how many times you've read the same page or sentence. 
  • You don't even know it's wrong in the first place so how are you going to correct it? Even the best editor often doesn't know a certain grammar rule or usage is wrong. How are you supposed to correct something you never even knew was wrong? And my favorite saying, "If it's wrong yesterday it's still wrong today." This saying applies to print books. eBook offer more flexibility to make changes after they're released; but print stays with you like a chocolate stain on white pants.
  • Consistency -- perhaps one of the best memory teasers is consistency in usage. The term isn't wrong, but maybe the author has adopted a certain style in the manuscript. He or she may inconsistently apply the style, but because it's a unique style, a seasoned editor will catch it. The main objective here is if it's done a certain way once it should always be applied, and an outside set of eyes is more likely to catch it.
  • Fresh as a daisy AKA a fresh set of eyes -- you just can't get around someone who has never read the book being able to see things in a whole new light. Editor or writer doesn't matter; you've written and read your own work so many times you lose perspective. Someone who comes at your manuscript fresh will see things you simply don't see anymore. Also, much like snow blindness, your mind has probably inserted certain things into the story or writing that just isn't there on the page. A fresh set of eyes is going to see the whole picture and spot anything missing. 
If you need an editor (which I am going to say again: we all need an editor), please contact us at 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com). We provide all levels of editorial services. Please contact us at info@3LPublishing.com or send an email to info@3LPublishing.com. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Random Tips for Your Personal Brand and Image and Whatever

In my random thought process, I wanted to share some of the things in personal branding that I find sometimes entertaining. So, here for fun on a Friday:

Business Portraits--ever notice the Bonnie Plumbing picture of the husband and wife team? Ever notice that picture has been the same for the last, what? Twenty years? Did you see their recent commercials where the wife is pretending to be the same age with the same dated hairdo? Kind'a scary and weird if you ask me. Do you think that helps their brand or makes her look ridiculous? I vote for the latter. Ever hire their services? Um nope!

Business Portraits, Take II--ever seen a real estate agent's business card with his/her picture? Ever meet said agent to notice they don't quite look the same anymore? He/she is using a picture taken 10 or 15 years ago. Does he/she look ridiculous? Yes. Advice from the peanut gallery: keep your business portraits current to avoid the silly reality you're not 30-years-old anymore -- and that's OK.

Sexed-Up Social Media Portraits for Business--ever seen a bikini shot of a company CEO? How about a bare-chested shot of the company president? Does it frighten you? It should. If a company CEO is wearing a bikini for a non-swimsuit company, it's just wrong with a capital W. Even personal pages might question the bikini-bod shot. Fun and flirty doesn't bother me if that's your persona, which I take on myself, but I have a specific reason. I am not a corporate suit. Don't expect to ever meet me in a suit either ... not going to happen. BUT don't worry, I won't be pulling out my string bikini anytime soon. Besides, you know at age 47 there are some things I can keep under wraps and private ;).


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Body in the Trunk - Chapter 4



 The first time Phil or D. Phil, as they called him at the station, sat and really sized up Tess was at the Starbuck’s across the street from the station house. He found her cute, energetic and maybe a little ditzy; he wasn’t sure yet. Her strawberry blonde hair and bright green eyes sucked him right in. Some guys loved women’s eyes, and Phil was no exception. You had ass men, tit men and eyes guys – he loved eyes. His ex-girlfriend Diane had the most beautiful hazel eyes imaginable with curled, thick eyelashes. It also didn’t hurt that she had one of those amazing, hot bodies with big tits and a perfect ass, but undoubtedly her eyes won. She could seduce him with one look.
“Those were the days,” he chuckled to himself as he sat and waited for Tess to bring the tea and coffee to the table.
Tess ambled over gingerly holding each cup in each hand. She carefully placed Phil’s Tall tea in front of him, pulled out a chair, and sat swiftly down. She took a tense sip from her Mocha Grande and began to explain what she wanted to Phil. He sat across and listened to Tess nervously talk. She kept twisting the end of her long hair and fidgeting with pink sugar packets.
“I saw you on that cable thingy show, you know what is it … Freedom-something-or-another?”
“Free Access.”
“Yeah, that one. Okay, so you know you were talking about a body you found in some trunk. What? A Camry, right? Conservative car.”
Phil smiled at her, reached across the table, and placed his calm hand over the top of hers. She stopped moving the sugar packet and looked up at him. Their eyes met. He removed his hand.
“Yes, what about it, what’s your name again?”
“Tess.”
“Tess, what do you want to know? I probably can’t tell you much because it’s still under investigation.”
“I want to … um,” she pulled her hair behind her left ear and looked down. “I want to write about it. You know, true crime.”
Phil sat back, grabbed his white cup filled with hot water with a teabag string hanging off the side. “I see, you a writer?”
“Well, all right so I’m not published yet, but this will be my big break!”
“You’re not a writer then?”
“No, um, yes, yes, I’m a writer,” she suddenly asserted as she found her confidence to just to say yes. She giggled and continued, “I was an engineer first, though.”
Phil nodded and kept quietly observing her. “How does one go from being an engineer to a writer?”
Tess waved her hand down her body as if she was showing off a showcase on the Price Is Right. “Do I look like an engineer?”
At that Phil allowed a slight grin to form on his lips. “No, Tess you do not look like an engineer.”
“Thank you!” she smiled. “I have a brilliant math mind, though. Well, whatever, look I just want to know if you’ll let me shadow you. Learn about the investigation.”
“I’ll check in with department protocol on the media, let you know,” he replied.
“Really?” she said in the sweetest, most delighted voice.
Phil found her endearing. She looked to be in her early 30’s but she had this childish wonderful quality about her. He liked it. So many women jaded by bad relationships, life’s hardships, horrible treatment, but here was this impish, cute and sweet woman that he almost wanted to call a girl, but she clearly wasn’t a girl. She kept talking with a restless, uneasiness about her. He wasn’t sure why she was so nervous, and she just went right back to playing with her hair.
She explained how she wanted to travel and see the “real” world. Phil kept thinking how the real world wasn’t so pretty. He thought about last week where he walked into a low-rent apartment in South Sacramento, and there was so much garbage on the floor, he had to kick it away just to get in the door.  And the rancid smell of decay and rot filled his nostrils till he grimaced. A toothless woman with acne scars and sunken eyes was arrested for turning her kitchen into a crank station. He came to find out she was all of 25 and looked closer to 50. Drugs did that to people – and that was the “real” world.
“Not very glamorous,” he thought, but here was this na├»ve woman ready to take it on with rose-colored lenses and dreamy fantasies.
“I don’t know if you’ll find what you’re looking for,” he said.
“We don’t know what I’m looking for,” she astutely replied with a grin.
He chuckled, “Guess not.”
She tilted her head to the side, “You married?”
He raised his empty ring finger, “Do I look married?”
She glanced at the ring-less finger and smiled, “No, but some men don’t wear their rings, do they?”
“See a tan line?”
“No,” she replied.
“Not a very good detective, are you?”
She laughed and shook her head.
He continued, “Not married, don’t have a girlfriend. She met some nerdy Russian with a big dick and left me.”
“Does that mean you have a little dick?” smirked Tess.
“Ah, I guess I should amend my sob story, shouldn’t I?”
Tess got up on cue, extended her hand to which he shook it, and said, “Yes, you should.” She glanced at his package.
He was impressed with her balls and laughed, “Yes, I will!”
He winked at her.
“Have a great day detective,” she sauntered off with a big grin on her face.
He watched her leave. She had a great ass for sure. Then he took one last gulp of his tea and thought, “I’m going to enjoy her.”
Later on, he did go back to the community relations department to ask protocol. He got approval with restrictions, of course, but she would be allowed to do research and write her book. He had called her back a day later, and his affirmation of participation was met with a wonderful squeal of delight. He held the phone away from his ear as she just started rattling off questions.
“No, no slow down,” he said. “Let’s meet again tomorrow evening at The Mix downtown, all right? You can ask me all you want.”
“Oh, yeah sure,” she said and took a deep breath. “Do you mind if I record it?”
“Not at all,” he said. “See you at seven?”
“Uh-huh.”

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Create a Page-Turner: Get Away from Cliches

I see authors fall into this problem: writing not just cliche characters but cliche scenes. Let me give you an example: a scene in a police department. Every single element is exactly what you would expect. The hot-head police captain, the lesbian police officer, the heated argument over the case. These kinds of staid and expected scenes lower the quality and originality of the storytelling. They accomplish critical negatives: the reader is non-plussed with the lack of imagination and knows exactly what to expect with the outcome, because it all so "been there done that".

In fresh and original writing, the scene becomes less obvious and unexpected. In building originality, the writer decorates the canvas with new and colorful interactions. For example, instead of the hot-head police captain we have the soft-spoken maybe even effeminate leader who gets his way with a softer, kinder and more important unexpected approach. The female officer is a bohemian goddess who wears inappropriate feather earrings and espouses the virtues of "some" illegal substances to the annoyed officers who remind her they can't promote drug use. You can only imagine the scenes created with these two characters alone -- more original and unexpected material.

The only caveat: you do have to ensure that however you write the colorful characters you make sure they are there for a point to drive the story forward and not bog it down in useless minutia. This point also emphasizes the need to make sure all plot points push the story forward. Fast-paced storytelling that makes sense sucks in the reader and creates a true page-turner.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Restaurants to Love: Selland's Market

Yours truly enjoys the delicious French
Toast Casserole
with other breakfast goodies.
Selland's Market
Rating: *****

Selland's Market, my favorite location in El Dorado Hills, hits the sweet spot of good, clean food at an economical price. As a business woman I'm going to tell you what this establishment does right from a marketing perspective since this isn't a restaurant review site. What they've done is create a chic family atmosphere with organic and upscale products that fit perfectly in the demographic. At the same time, they offer value with their prices (they have a great $25 dinner special that comes with a bottle of wine). The location itself sits right in front of the manmade pond below, and in the summer and warmer months, you can sit on the patio. They keep costs low by offering counter service and bringing your meal right to your table. Forks and utensils sit on each table, and outside it's a help-yourself table near the entrance. The small, cost-cutting techniques do not take away from the chic offerings, because they are done in a classy way that doesn't make you feel like you're at a fast-food joint.

The food is very clean and organic fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, entrees, and pizza. I have two favorite treats I enjoy from their dessert bar, which features an array of cookies, fun cupcakes, cakes and pies. My favorites are the carmel-salted brownie and now pumpkin pie. I absolutely love their Sunday brunch, and you can customize a la carte items so I like to mix their biscuits and gravy with their delicious and original French toast casserole. My other lunch time favorite is their salad sampler plate in which I enjoy their potato salad (the only potato salad that tastes like my mother's salad), quinoa (pronounced in French), and their summer berry salad (a nice almost dessert-like punch to the lunch). I am almost loathe to promote the kitchen for fear the lines will grow longer.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Movie Review: Captain Phillips

Rating: *****

Just to show the movie studios a little something important -- grown-up movies done right still rule the box office. Two very grown-up films Captain Phillips and Gravity dominated the box office ticket sales in a refreshing change since a summer onslaught of terrible movies. After seeing Captain Phillips, I actually noted how refreshing it was that we weren't be subjected to films targeted toward 12-year-old boys and pre-teens.

This gritty, realistic and action-packed movie is filmed in that handheld camera style that has become popular that gives it a sense of frenetic realism. Now I am not a fan of this style and find it hard to follow and a little annoying, but I soon got over it. The film has a documentary-style to it and creates such a normal everyday feel about it. Any stars in the film are hidden behind their average, everyday appearances. Hanks' Capt. Phillips comes across as a normal family man who runs his ship with a stern, polite manner. Then the movie flashes to the shores of Ethiopia where the pirate crew is being assembled to attack the freighter. What I found especially refreshing was the use of Ethiopian actors whose looks had less to do with winning the roles than their authenticity. No glamorous actors were selected for the roles of the pirates, which gave the film even more realism. In other words don't expect to see some famous African-American actors in the roles.

The movie moves quickly and swiftly to the hijack situation. Again, each move of the ship and each order given by Phillips comes across as real and absorbs the viewer right into the life-or-death tale. Between the tension built between Phillips and the pirates and the crews move to survive and not be captured, the film never misses a beat. As a screenwriter and novelist, I paid close attention to the writing that wasn't at all glamourous, but again done with what I would assume was well-researched information. I don't like to give away spoilers so that is all I will say. As far as performances, here is my prediction: Hanks will be nominated come award season, especially for his portrayal of the shell-shocked captain. Tears came to my eyes as the poor man faces the horror of what just happened to him. You never once didn't believe that didn't just happen to Hanks, and when an actor so inhabits a characters' skin then that is the performance to remember.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Social Media and Image and Personal Brand Management

I have over the years ranted about people who don't understand that they can't just post anything in the world on social media even if it's a personal page. I recently got a glimpse of an associate's picture in which it was like his 10th picture with a glass of wine in his hand. Now one glass of wine, no problem. Maybe you're at a party, and it's a toast. Second picture, well, okay I'll give it a pass. Maybe you're just at a lot of social functions and you have a glass to relax. Third picture ... now I'm starting to look sideways ... here are some important points about why it's important to mind what you're photographed doing -- especially if it's imbibing too much.

Employers and Prospective Clients Now Look on Social Media -- yes, perhaps you've been interviewing for a new job. Did you know that many employers now use social media to check you out? Young people should be especially conscious of this fact. So, party picture where you went overboard and look like the dog brought you in from a soaking in liquor -- not good. Too many pictures of you and your friends and/or boyfriend in celebration -- not good. Ten pictures of you and your significant other in the hot tub with the beer, cocktail or wine -- not good. Too many "what stays in Vegas" but is permanent in digital photography -- not good.

Why does it matter? Did you know many clients and organizations are sometimes religious or even Mormon (Mormons don't drink and frown on it). Why would you want to be eliminated as a job candidate or even a company they hire, because your company CEO is shot drinking too much? Another problem you might not consider: some businesses or prospective business don't want that kind of liability. Are you really an alcoholic? They don't know the answer, but 10 pictures with you drinking wine, martinis, margaritas or beer and the question is planted. They don't want a person who drinks too much to come to work hung-over or even have too many alcohol-related absences.

Here is something you may never ever have considered ... what if someone is considering partnering with you in business and they're checking you out. Do you think that they will want the liability of an alcoholic as a business partner? Having once had the misfortune of realizing a business partner had an alcohol problem, I can tell you if I search for a partner and I see my prospect with too many drinking pictures my alarm bells are going off.

Thinking nothing of it can be a huge mistake even in terms of your personal image and things you project. Again, social drinking isn't a big deal. Alcohol is a legal drug and people drink socially. But because alcohol is socially acceptable sometimes people on social media don't realize what they're projecting -- and while social media is a personal venue it's also a professional marketing tool. Either way, though, if you don't have an actual drinking problem, don't project that you do. People will make personal observations about you that are perhaps not flattering. Business people concerned with your reliability will not want to work with Bob who was photographed at 10 functions -- each time with a cocktail in one hand and a cigarette in the other. It's just not flattering is it? And it's a simple fix. Don't make alcohol or anything else unseemly a reason you're not getting the business. Mind your image as keenly and as astutely as you should be minding your brand.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How Do You Overcome Writer's Block?

I am sitting here staring at my desk. What do I write? Is anyone going to care what I write? Do I care what I write? The exercise is really this: sit down and write, which is how your overcome writer's block. It's a simple exercise indeed. I get asked all of the time, "How do you overcome writer's block?" My manufactured answer is always the same, "Sit down and write." You would be surprised what flows out of you. I can promise, though, that staring at a blank field will get you nowhere. Digging for ideas in your "blocked" brain ... nowhere. I wasn't sure what I was going to say when I started this blog. I just sat down and wrote something. Now I have a blog on writer's block. See how that works. Just let random ideas flow out of your brain. Some idea will hit you. Go with it and let the journey guide your work. See where it takes you and what you end writing down, and then rewrite and revise and reorganize if it's a bit random. Pretty soon you will have a focused piece with a theme. I swear it's this easy. Just try it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Boardwalk Empire Season 3: The Body Count

I was walking with my boyfriend Kirk to dinner the other day and said, "Oh, Boardwalk Empire is on tonight?"

Kirk replied, "Do you think anyone will die in tonight's episode?"

"Oh yeah, we can consistently count on a body count -- it's Boardwalk Empire!"

We both laughed. Yes, and our beloved Eddie threw himself out a window for betraying Nucky. Then Frank, brother of Al Capone, came to his untimely demise, too. Can't recall if the body count exceeded two ... well, for that episode anyway. Gangster shows seem to rely on violence and death as the main story thrust. Sopranos was also a reliable show to provide plenty of death and mayhem.

Why do we like these shows? Beneath the never-ending action and body count, you also get strong messages about family, loyalty and even love. Boardwalk Empire is reliable, taunt drama that sucks in viewers with its action-packed stories that move and move and kill and kill. Am I a fan of violence? No, but I do like action. And at the very least you can count on nail-biting scenes where you're hoping your favorite bad guy doesn't get put six-feet under.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Love Letters: Devotion


I thought I would start a little more serious a column I'm titling "Love Letters". (You never know what's going to pop up on my blog.)" Today's topic is about devotion.


Inside the heart of every man
There is a lust you understand
And I'm just the same
When all the love has gone away
And passion stares me in the face
Could I walk away
Here's hopin'
You'll help me to be brave
Devotion save me now
I don't wanna stray from the hallow ground
I'll turn temptation down
I'm asking you to take me to safety this time
Forgive my thoughts when I'm asleep
Forgive these words I'm yet to speak
I feel so ashamed
Right now you seem so far away
So much confusion clouds my mind
And I don't know which path to take
Here's hopin'
You'll help me to resist
Devotion save me now
I don't wanna stray from the hallow ground
I'll turn temptation down
I'm asking you to take me to safety this time
Devotion, devotion
I'm a slave onto the mercy of your love
For so long I've been so wrong
I could never live without you
Devotion, devotion
Take me to safety


Read more: Hurts - Devotion Lyrics | MetroLyrics 


Ever heard songs with the word "devotion" in them? He's devoted to his love. I never knew what it was like to have someone devoted to me. Yes, I was married, but that doesn't mean he was devoted to me. Have you ever had someone devoted to you? Until you've had the kind of devotion I've experienced with my boyfriend Kirk, I'm not sure you would know what it's like or what it is. Conceptually I understood the word as defined: love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause. But love and devotion going hand-in-hand is rare beauty. You can love someone, but are you devoted to them? Are you loyal? Are you faithful? Do you accept that person just the way he or she is? Or are you continually trying to "upgrade" them and turn them into something they are not? To love and be devoted to someone requires acceptance or "as-is" love. You love them as-is. 

When you meet someone who loves you and is devoted to you "warts and all" don't give up on them. The peace that has come to my life from being with someone who just accepts the "warts and the all" is amazing. Not once in the year we've been together has he EVER criticized me. Nope! Not once and no exception. I had no idea you could be in a room with someone who didn't have something negative to say about me. "You're too this ... you're too that ..." Not once! 

So, ladies I urge you ... always hold out for devotion! 


UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

My best friend told me a story, and I loved it so much I wanted to put it here for you to enjoy, too. We were talking about love and devotion. She said to love purely is just to love without demand or expectation but to just love that person just the way are and not for what they can give you. When she told me her "love story" it wasn't even romantic. She said the first time she experienced pure unconditional love was for a little boy in one of her classes. He could give her nothing. Yet she realized for the first time in her life what it was like to just "love" this little boy. I remembered the little boy from years past -- and yes, she loved that little boy! He's probably a grown man by now, and I bet he remembers her, too. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Things I Find Ridiculous: It Cosmetic Mascara

Much like Andy Rooney, I decided I'm going to start a column called "Things I find ridiculous," and today's silly item is a product called It Cosmetic, a line I found at Ulta. Please notice the two features I find silly aka ridiculous: the phallic-shaped tip and the rubber "grip" -- all silly "enhancements that are useless. First, since when do we need to "grip" our "slippery" mascara tube? I don't know about you ladies, but I don't find myself "holding desperately onto my mascara tube." "Oh no! Oh no ... noooooooo -- it's slipping! Ah damn! It slipped." Secondly, the phallic-shaped tip. My primary question: and this enhances the application process, how? But alas, it's not done there yet girls. This application tip is rubbery! Yes, it bends. May I point out that pushing our phallic-shaped device back into the hard tube with its rubbery feature doesn't work very well. I ended up with black mascara on my fingers, because hey, it bent out of shaped and didn't go in right. My only question to It Cosmetics: why exactly did you waste money on these features? And that my friends is what I find ridiculous!

Movie Review: Gravity

Gravity
Rating: *****

This film is the best of the season -- and one of the first films I've seen in months that I gave a perfect rating. Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (yes, only two actors), Bullock's Dr. Ryan Stone's character carries most of the film.

On one hand, the film is a typical struggle-to-survive tale, and on the other hand it's a spiritual metaphor about the will to live and take action in your life. The story opens with our astronauts out on a routine space walk and mission. Light banter ensues and a notation that Dr. Stone isn't feeling well up in weightless space. The story quickly moves to a life-or-death challenge as space debris from a destroyed satellite unexpectedly hurls at destructive speeds toward the shuttle and its passengers. The plot point is how are Clooney's character and Dr. Stone going to survive after their ship is destroyed? (And I'll leave it at that as to not spoil the fun.)

What is captivating is how the story is told from the character's points-of-view. At certain times, you are visually seeing the situation through their eyes, which intensifies a sense of desperation and helps raise the stakes so the audience can truly understand the challenge. The realism is what provides an impressive immersive experience (the film is 3D) for the audience. As each challenge becomes harder and harder, the sub-plot and metaphor comes to life. We begin to understand this isn't just about basic survival, but the desire to live or simply stated: put your feet back on the ground and get on with life. It reminded me somewhat of the spiritualism in the magnificent movie Life of Pi, which I should have reviewed, too. Having personally experienced some recent setbacks in my personal life, I felt inspired by the story. It's the perfect throw-back to the classic film Shawshank Redemption: "Get busy living or get busy dying."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Time for a Rant and a Rave -- Society and Gender Roles

I recently found myself in a situation where an individual went off on me about her "perceived" role of what I should or should not be doing at an event. It was very interesting. First, I am the CEO of 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com), and this was a professional event. What this person got her knickers twisted over was interesting and inappropriate, but none the less she went off anyway. One of her major complaints involved why I was not processing payments and lifting books in boxes. I got to thinking about this complaint and realized there was a greater misunderstand and even a cultural issue about expectations about women.

I will start with this basic question to address the complaint: Have you ever seen a CEO at an event lifting boxes and processing orders? The CEO is the company figure head. I was there to meet and greet and represent the product. I hire people to lift boxes (because frankly I have a disability and cannot do it anyway), but the expectation that the company figure head should be on the floor doing the detailed work, which even in the office I don't do (I have an operations manager and she's awesome). Then it hit me! She saw this as women's work. Had I been a man, I seriously doubt she would have complained at all nor would she have expected I do the labor. I'm absolutely certain of this assertion. It was because I was a woman. A male CEO would have automatically carried greater respect (you can disagree but it's still a man's world).

Part of the problem is we still don't have a lot of female CEOs and business owners. The numbers have grown, but still we're behind, especially CEOs of major Fortune 100 companies. No CEO standing at a party in a business suit would have heard the complaint I heard. I have never been one to dwell on my gender as a hindrance, and I won't even today. Hard work and mental outlook and attitude always prevail over petty prejudice. But in evaluating that situation and wondering why someone would have made up such an unreasonable expectation of the company CEO, it realized why (well, at least partially why ... some people can have the perfect experience and still rain on the parade).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Couple Great Tips for Public Relations

I am working on a few media campaigns, and I thought I would share a few tips for either those who want to try and do some promotion for their product or service or for those who hire a PR rep and want to know what to look for in terms of expertise.

The cliche low-hanging fruit tip #1. I always laughed in corporate when fellow executives would refer to the ever-popular sales term "low-hanging fruit." A few of them thought that knowledge of that phrase made them kind'a special ;). All right I won't digress and rant about the useless. When launching a product, or in our case a book, you have what I would rather call the no-brainer opportunities. No-brainers revolve around regional media that is easier to court. But here is the tip, how do you take advantage of ALL regional opportunities? Always look for the regional hook. In launching the latest book 30 Magical and Memorable Family Vacations, we went after Auburn media, which is where the author lives, and Folsom media, which is where I as the co-author live. We were able to get attention from both the Auburn Journal and Folsom Telegraph.

Insider tip: always make sure your media contact is current. Even if you have a fairly recent media list, go to the online site and check out the latest feature editor. In journalism many smaller papers have a high turnover rate. Find the editor who would be the appropriate contact for your subject or category, and then his/her contact information.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Giving it Your 110 Percent and Stress Relief

About the 10th time the cat's paw reached up and grabbed my hand on the mouse, I thought, "I'm going to come unglued." Then the paw reached up and scratched me, "That's it! I AM coming unglued." Ever feel that about work and life? Americans are a bunch of unglued workaholics ... well, not all but many. My friend the other day said to me, "You're CEO. You don't get to give your 100 percent; you always have to give your 110 percent every single day." He's right. I know all you CEOs and entrepreneurs out there are nodding. It's not enough to give only a 100 percent and call it a day. The demands of the business, including the ongoing financial demands to keep the framework and walls all in place take a lot of effort. As owner of the company I am responsible for it all. I have to keep the "glue" going. But some days I just feel unglued, especially when the obnoxious cat won't stop clawing my busy typing fingers.

BUT there is always help. Here are five ways to balance out your life and make the glue stick and prevent burnout, too:

1. Meditate and ground every day (my friend Bo Bradley even literally hugs trees).
2. Take at least once or twice a week to really go home lunch with a colleague or friend and try not to talk strictly business.
3. Make sure you have boundaries and strict start and end times, especially if you work from a home office. The boundaries can blur with home offices.
4. Do take weekends off. It's again very easy to lose a Saturday to a last-minute fire. And if you do lose a Saturday, make sure you take the following Monday off.
5. Phone a friend. With text and email, we often stop picking up the phone, but a quick phone call even if it's just to "vent" helps level off emotions.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Publisher's Pick: Death Grip

Death Grip
Marissa Hartman
Rating: ****

I like to feature books on the blog from my company 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com). All of the books are outstanding, but every so often one comes off press that I think is fun and will do well in the marketplace. Paranormal romance is a popular genre right now among romance readers, and Marissa Hartman has tossed her talents in the ring to join the ranks of terrific paranormal romance writers. Her debut title is Death Grip.

I personally coached Marissa along with the assistance of novelist and screenwriter Scott D. Roberts to help her shape this book into a first-rate romance that will lure readers into the intrigue. Our heroine Lucy becomes embroiled in a complicated love triangle where she must decide several key personal issues and resolve one important relationship to move on. In its other worldly nature, the book explores interpersonal relationships and begs questions about metaphysical experiences and love that transcends this planet. It explores astral travel and out-of-body experience, and disbelievers may question this experience, but personally I have had my own astral travels so I buy the premise just fine.

It is on sale for $14.95 on the 3L Publishing website, which the author makes higher royalties and we encourage those purchases. It is also available on Amazon, click here.