Wednesday, December 31, 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I love the new year it's good for goal-setting and creating visions. No one has mentioned a vision board in a long time, but I like vision boards and I like to look ahead. Here is what I like the most: I enjoy fresh starts. It's the time of year when if you've had hard times you think, "It will get better." If you've had good times, "It's will be spectacular" ... or maybe some of both!

I have some major announcements and changes and goals set coming in 2015. I will be releasing some exciting new titles, revealing new alignments and partnerships, and doing focusing more on book-related events and activities.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What does it take to be an entrepreneur?

I get frequently asked that question. Entrepreneurs are risk-takers. They don't live by another person's rules or timelines. They are visionary. They know how to "seize the day". They take action. They do. They are creative and can think outside of the proverbial box. They don't need a secure paycheck (although secure income is good). They don't need validation. They don't ask permission. They are aggressive and goal-oriented. They aren't afraid of success, but also they know failure is a chance to learn and improve.

The most successful entrepreneurs I've met possess all of those traits and characteristics. I will tell you something about those authors who have invested in their books -- they are true entrepreneurs. The reason why 3L Publishing has such talent in its wings is because risk-takers and people who believe in their work know they have to "invest" in themselves. They also know that for their work to shine as bright as possible, they must be open enough to accept expert advice and guidance. To achieve the very best means going for it. Believing in yourself. Believing in your product. And knowing when to hold 'em and then mold 'em ... new phrase. And finally, the best artist in the world knows what she knows and knows what she doesn't know and respects the difference.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Movie Review: Wild

*****Five Stars

Walking and/or running to journey not out but within -- a theme of the year, especially with the 3L Publishing award-winner In the Footsteps of Greatness by Josh Mathe doing so well.

Wild is more inward journey than outward exploration, but it is through the challenge of the physical world that Cheryl Strayed heals her inner wounds. After her mother dies and her marriage falls apart because of her infidelity and drug abuse, Strayed finds herself in need of change. After an unexpected pregnancy she cries out and asks herself, "How did I become this shitty person?" At that point she finds a book on the Pacific Crest Trail (1,000 miles from Mexico to Canada) and with no training or experience determines to walk to a new future. As her outward hike unfolds, the viewer watches her inward story and how she got to where she is on this trail. Her relationship with her mother who passed away is very inspiring. Her mother taught her important lessons at that the time she overlooked but now during crisis comes to appreciate and value.

So many reviewers always give Hollywood actresses props for their "bravery" in showing us their real looks without makeup. I'm not going to say that about Witherspoon, because I find it ridiculous. You don't have to wear makeup to be beautiful. Reese, though, does bare it all in a raw performance where she wears the character's pain all over her face. Tears welled up so many times during this movie I couldn't even count. It hit a nerve with me, and I felt inspired by Cheryl Strayed's humanity and self-awareness that she had to get off the path of self-destruction -- a path that was taking her nowhere but into more misery. So she changed directions -- literally.

This movie isn't all sugar-coated sweetness. It's a movie about getting your life back on track literally and figuratively. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Anything is Possible

The New Year is upon us so I thought I would give my pep talk. I always like the phrase "the world is my oyster" -- and it is! Anything can happen ... if you let it. I don't know what is true, but I do know that it's possible to do whatever you set your mind to do. It might not like look like how you expected, but with persistence, determination and a lot of go-to spirit, you can achieve your dreams.

The story of how 3L Publishing came to be is the best example of dreams coming true -- not just how I expected. After years of doing everything in the professional writing industry (magazine features, screenplays, custom publications ... you name it), I finally decided to write a book. The product of that decision was Second Bloom published in 2009. The self-help book about reinvention went on to win several awards. Authors suddenly took notice. I was asked to publish their books. Becoming a publisher was the easy part (actually), but the rest was a lot of hard work and dedication to my company and marketing. I've tripped along the way. I've struggled at various times to keep this company moving forward and not close my doors; but overall I've realized a dream. I love books. Now I publish books, and many of those books are award-winners, too.

Do you have a dream? It's almost 2015. When is a better time to go for it?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Emo Pop and Passion

So I learned a new genre of music they call "Emo Pop," and I thought that makes sense for the new music I like to hear such as Imagine Dragons and Little Talks. Well, first I adore music of all kinds. I listen to music all day. I thought the term "Emo Pop" made sense for this genre because it has an interesting almost syntho sound from the '80's, but it also has some strong passion behind the words. I really like Imagine Dragons' Demons:

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

I couldn't find the introduction line for the lyrics of this song. But what I've said I enjoy about this type of music is the emotion behind it, which now I understand why it's called "Emo Pop". In the early part of that song, he inhales the chemical waste. Don't ask me why I love the meaning behind it.  I also like those lyrics because we all have our little demons, don't we? I know I do. They sometimes hide and other times they jump out very unexpectedly. I've always liked songs where they layer the sounds and build up to the beat (or passion behind it) so it matches the words. A classic I've always liked is Cold Play's Rush of Blood to the Head -- for the exact reasons I just described.

Well, it's Christmas time. Did I give you any ideas for gifts for music lovers. And let me comment on musical lyrics: they are the last vestiges of popular poetry. It seems poetry itself has taken an overall downturn in popularity in the 21st century, but you can still hear modern poets express their hearts in music. I love poetry, and I have a poet in me, too. My latest book Body in the Trunk has a poem built into the story. You can always sneak one in!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Writing: It's Not Math ... Well, Maybe a Little

Some people love that with math the answer is always the same: 1 + 1 = 2. In English and grammar the rules are similar. You always use commas. You always use periods. Spelling though has its nuances. Did you know in American usage toward is always toward and in British UK usage its towards. One of the things that makes learning English so difficult is it's sometimes like a mechanical process of memorization. You have to admire those who can truly win a spelling bee. These people would have to know minor pieces of information like the difference between when you hyphen in-between (what does it mean in context defines the use of the hyphen) or in between. Tricky usage can make an editor crazy who doesn't have a photographic memory to even remember there is a hyphen in some cases. Two words that are really one word and so on. When people say they don't need an editor or their documents are completely perfect without mistakes, I nod with a glazed looked over my red, tired eyes. Those emphatic writers have not done it professionally if they've made that proclamation. I've never in my long career span as a professional editor and writer seen one "perfect" document. I don't care if the librarian or your finest English teacher edited it. Not one time, and once these committed writers who are certain they are right and I am wrong see what happens when the book goes through the professional process, the surprise is always followed by a sheepish, "Oh!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Writer's Block: How to Inspire the Uninspired

I used to not really believe in writer's block. I thought that was for wimpy writers who cried like pansies over doing what could hardly be called "work" (by my standards anyway). Oh, I was sanctimonious about it. Who could be blocked? Come on! It's writing. It's my favorite thing in the world. Then ... oh, then it happened! I got a bad case of it.

I've now come to redefine what "I" think writer's block really is ... a bad case of something we'll aptly describe as a combination of "I don't feel like it" and "I don't feel it."

The first descriptor is really better defined as apathy. Back in the day, I could barely muster a sentence let alone a whole novel. The second descriptor is related to inspiration and creativity -- and when both don't exist in the same brain, it's blocked. Inspiration turns into creativity when confronting the writer's process. But if you're not feeling inspired you're back to ... apathy. And apathy is "no bueno" when it comes down to actually writing. The phrase "I don't feel like it" inevitably turns into 10,000 reasons not to do it. "Not" doing something doesn't enhance inspiration or creativity -- and now we're swimming in circles.

A close friend of mine has been struggling with getting a project done. It's hard to be a persuasive and diligent publisher when you're also a writer (that's really my identity), and you've suffered the same problem. How to inspire the uninspired? You let me know when you figure that one out. In the meantime, I've turned into the worst publisher in history, coddling and sympathizing with my writer friend. "It's okay my writer friend. Turn that manuscript in when you feel like it or you don't feel it." See worst publisher ... EVER!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Exclamation Point -- Why it's Overused ... !!

The poor exclamation point is always so wrongly accused of overuse. The exclamation point is often double or triple used (as if the first time it's applied isn't enough). Ever notice how people sometimes think that !! makes their point seem even more important or LOUD (we'll dissect the overuse of all caps some other day). I have important information to share for professional writers (or those who aspire to such status). Have you ever read a novel where someone used the exclamation point twice or triple? Okay, I will clarify my point. Ever seen a novel where it was acceptable to use use the period twice? .. you know just to say PERIOD -- PERIOD! Oh, sorry ... PERIOD!! Are you starting to feel enlightened now about overuse about the exclamation point? I have another one for you. You do realize that an exclamation point is not friendly with a question mark?! I see that one used all of the time as if it's correct, too. I'm sorry if you're feeling terribly sad about your last letter to your boss where you erroneously thought you were being impressive with your question (?) exclamation (!) combo.

Just remember in professional writing (or any kind of writing if you really want to know), don't use an exclamation point more than once. Don't combine it with a question mark. One more tidbit: use your exclamation points judiciously if you truly want to punctuate an important thought. Ever notice that too many sentences with that ole ! after each suddenly and with reason detracts and reduces emphasis?

But there are some important moments when lack of an exclamation point can end your relationship as it does in the classic Seinfeld episode. Elaine shrieks all too well, "You don't think that a person having a baby deserves an exclamation point?" So yes, use the "had-a-baby" concept when applying emphasis to sentences that deserve your point be made!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Publisher's Gratuitous Self-Promotion :)

It's Christmas time, and you may know I'm picking what I think are the best gifts for the season out of 3L Publishing's catalog. As most of my associates know I published California Girl Chronicles in 2011. I have not mentioned that the second book got released right in the middle of what we'll a "sh**" storm called my divorce. While I promoted the first book with passion the second book has languished on the shelf with lack of TLC.

Here is the deal. I personally think the second book is better than the first one. So, if you liked the first one, you'll definitely like this one. It has more character development, and it has a little more depth. When I say "depth" I am really saying it's like a Muskateers candy bar compared to a Mars bar (we have nuts, caramel and nugget vs. just nugget). And when I compare it to a candy bar ... it's just book candy. No, I don't take myself or this series seriously. Let's face it. A book written about a screenwriter being distracted by hot men -- not Pulitzer material. I didn't intend it to be. Now if you're looking for pure mental distraction and some laughs, great choice. Brea (pronounced Bree") is a fun character to visit. She's flawed but human, and you have to like a girl that will go skydiving. It's available on Kindle, Nook and iBook for $2.99. Why not? To buy it on Kindle click here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Not Just a Spell-Checker

I don't know why 2014 was the year that authors kept showing up and wanting the "Dollar" Store special. In growing business and facing obstacles, I had more problems with authors who wanted the "fast-food combo deal," super-size it, and throw in a discount, too. The pervasive attitude is shocking. I've had more than one conversation with authors who just didn't understand the value and benefits of working with a professional publisher. The misconception that we're nothing more than a glorified spell-check application has been a challenge to overcome. I've obviously got to do a better job of defining what we do so people understand the benefits and see the value.

Just to make you laugh, even a spell-check program required someone somewhere who probably had knowledge, education and expertise to invent it. And just for the record -- even the best spell-checker cannot find the real misspellings or errors. Same applies to grammar programmers. I could spell check a manuscript 10 times and not find spelling mistakes based in usage like every day vs. everyday or in between vs. in-between. It won't find missing words. It won't identify when a word is used in the wrong context. It will only sometimes suggest a comma should be in a certain place, and maybe if you're lucky you find out that comma should be a semicolon. Grammar programs won't find missing words. And grammar programs won't tell you when that sentence is just unintelligible.

We do a three-draft editing process. The editor-in-chief (me) looks at the broad scope of the writing and story. I make comments and provide thoughtful guidance to improve the overall book. Our copy editor takes the next round, and then the author has his/her chance to find mistakes before it goes to press. Our graphics are custom designed to suit the book. The interior look and feel is a custom design. We don't do cookie-cutter books that use preset templates that every other author can choose to use. A 3L Publishing book looks unique. An author can be assured he or she won't be browsing Amazon and see a book that looks so similar to their own it's disconcerting.

Because of ALL these efforts, our books win awards. Just look at Josh Mathe's book In the Footsteps of Greatness that just yesterday he got named by the Author Show as "One of the 50 Great Writers You Should be Reading" and two weeks ago his book took the winner circle in the Royal Dragon Awards. These acknowledgments and awards don't just happen. Knowledge, expertise, talent, education and a pinch of passion go into all of our products.

Do you want to create an award-winning and beautiful book? Call us today at 916-300-8012 or send an email to info@3LPublishing.com.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Publisher's Pick: Fiction, Vengeance is Now

Before I get into this book as a great Christmas gift, I'm going to give full disclosure. First, 3L Publishing acquired Vengeance is Now in 2013, and it's a part of the Tate Holloway series, which the company also owns. Second, the author is a close friend. Now that said, it doesn't diminish why this is my all-time favorite fiction book in our catalog or why I can't wait for his second book, Hidden Agenda to finish up.

My first question is always, "Do you like thrillers?" James Patterson -- that type of book. If your answer is yes, read on and shop away. Now I am not a thriller reader per se. But quintessential Stephen King, including classics like The Shining, Christine, Cujo and The Stand were always winners.  Roberts (who I will call Scott because that is weird to me when he's a friend) knows how to amp up the mystery and fear to the scariest, nail-biting, suspenseful place. Yes, it's sexy, too, and the infamous chapter 8 has become an endearing joke in private; but overall it's a thrill-ride worth taking.

The story is simple (and an easy pitch line for Scott who is also a screenwriter): a disgraced former homicide detective goes from being the hunter to the hunted when the infamous serial killer called "The Eye" turns the tables. Buy it off the 3L Publishing's website (click here) and I'll bet I can get him to sign it for you. It's also available as eBook in Kindle, Nook and iBook. Scott also received numerous critical praises from national reviewers and was a Finalist in the Indie Excellence Awards.

And you may want to get it before Hidden Agenda releases in the spring of 2015.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Publisher's Pick for 2014: Nonfiction: In the Footsteps of Greatness

Royal Dragon Fly Awards: Winner
USA Best Book Awards: Finalist

Now I enjoy every single book in the 3L Publishing catalog. But this year I've decided to call-out those books that somehow touched my life in 2014. Josh Mathe's In the Footsteps of Greatness, now a twice-award winner (and expect those awards to pile up) stands out for literally inspiring me to trek over to REI to look at backpacking supplies. Am I an endurance sports athlete? No. Am I even much of a backpacker? No. BUT that is not why I was inspired by Josh's eloquence. I love the back-country, yes. But it was Josh's tenacity, spirit and commitment to hike the 212-mile John Muir Trail in one week that just moved me -- period. His reflection and ability to honestly describe his challenges (personal) made the book a must-read. Anyone who has always wanted to do something and felt daunted should read this motivational and inspiring book. Support the author and buy it off the 3L website (click here). Amazon doesn't need more business!! But Josh's literary aspirations can always use support by his audience. And if you want to get that special someone a great book, this one will work.

And I want to say something about Josh Mathe -- he is genuinely an impressive nice person. Every interaction I have ever had with him was positive and rewarding. He has this lovely energy and positive vibe about him. You know some people you meet and you just can't help but like them? That is Josh Mathe.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Movie Review: Nightcrawler

Rating: ***

I like to focus my movie reviews on those films that something stood out in terms of storytelling. Nightcrawler starring Jake Gyllenhaal was a stand-out movie for its quirky characters and unorthodox story about a freelance video producer whose methods to capture the story are .... well -- questionable. The snappy, smart and very manipulative dialog just stole the film. Jake's young, driven and slightly autistic character is a sight to watch. Listening to him alone is a cross between every cliché self-help book and general business strategy plastered all over the Internet. If you've read these books or been inspired by them, Jake's character takes it to an interesting extreme.

The movie was unique and different. Taking human actions to the ends of bad behavior, Jake's character is such a sociopath it's shocking. He descends into his power grab on the streets of LA and starts off innocent enough, but soon falls down into passionate greed to move to the top of the business -- and by any means necessary. Forget ethics and right and wrong. He just "wants what he wants" -- and that comes across with snappy, dead-on dialog that resonates in logic. I hate to give away spoilers, but the death scene at the end was so twisted it ended up being funny. You know the type of uncomfortable laughter because technically it's not funny. If you wanted an unexpected and really good movie, go see Nightcrawler.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's Your Book -- Stick with It

The most successful authors who consistently sell books are the most persistent and tenacious -- and they understand it's a business. The book business is a challenge. You have a lot of competition out there. The self-publishing and eBook business have invited the average person to publish a book. The biggest mistake I see any author make let alone a self-published author is to release it on Amazon and wait ... and wait ... and that's usually about the time the author shows up on my doorstep and says, "I've sold a few books. Why aren't they selling?"

I tell authors the flat reality of publishing: it's 50 percent writing and 50 percent business.

As writers we sometimes get so into the process of writing and love doing it, we falsely believe our books will just sell. Voile! Books don't magically sell on their own. Behind every top seller is a marketing and public relations campaign. That some books are received better by the buying public is the major difference.  Books with no promotion or marketing just don't get seen. Yes, you can put it on Amazon but who is going to look for something he or she doesn't know exists? Maybe someone will stumble on your book, but that's like playing book Lotto and hoping your number comes up.

Authors need to understand before they attempt to publish either traditionally or self-publish that half the battle is the business. To publish a book and hope it sells is wishful thinking. In an already-competitive market it's extreme wishful thinking. The only way to make your book stand out from the crowd is to promote and market it. Exposure! Exposure through the media, exposure through social media, exposure through book signings and festival. Sending and passing out promotional materials like bookmarks and flyers. Building a mailing list of interested readers gathered from events, book festivals, and meetings or speaking engagements.

Before you publish a single page, know above and beyond that marketing is equally important as publishing. And be prepared to dive all in and support your book.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Writing My First Mystery-Thriller: Body in the Trunk

I get asked all of the time about my process of writing. All writers have their own processes. My process is unlike another author's process. My close friend Scott D. Roberts, author of Vengeance is Now, describes his process like that of a police detective with index cards and notes plastered on his office wall like a shrine. My process is much more up in my head. Sometimes I write little notes here and there to ensure I don't forget. But overall my process is meditative. If I'm stuck on plot line I will lay down, close my eyes, and visualize.

In my new book Body in the Trunk I had to first get a road map in my head as to where I wanted the story to go, but I also let the story tell itself. I always start with a vague sense of the overall plot line, but I have to let the story unfold. Characters define themselves in my head. Personalities come to life organically to the story-telling process.

Creating the tension, intrigue and mystery is about building-blocks. You start with small hints and clues. You don't directly spell anything out. You hint and you hint early on. The who-done-it and why (for me) came out of the storytelling process. I developed several scenarios in my head. Then I had to focus on the mechanics. How were all of the pieces going to come together and make sense? I played out each scenario in my mind. But here is the tip: I used an objective book coach to point out the holes and weaknesses. True mystery and intrigue got built in the rewrites. Revising and rewriting addresses all of the weaknesses and holes and fills them in.

Body in the Trunk is in test market and releases in winter 2015. For more information, visit my company's website at www.3LPublishing.com.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dear Apple Computer ... Why?

Today is royalty payment day. As I'm collecting information from the sales channels and most specifically Apple iTunes Connect I want to write Apple this letter:

Dear iTunes Connect,

Why?

Sincerely,
Michelle

Why? is a very simple and direct question to ask about their stupid sales and tracking system. Unlike Nook or Kindle, the geniuses over at Apple seem to think they're more clever than the rest of us. They created a sales reporting system that doesn't show what was sold and when! It's strictly a total. Nothing tracks back to the actual product sold and when. The number of products (iBooks) sold is completely disconnected and you can't tell if payment has been remitted either. If I want to know the payment remittance I have to check my business account. I'm hoping my complaints somehow receive the light of day and either A. someone changes the system or B. I'm the one who just doesn't know where the "easy" reporting system is located in the program. BUT if B is correct ... well, it shouldn't be hidden in the first place. Just saying ...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Why Test Marketing is Important

At the International Miami Book Fair I began phase II of the test marketing for my new book Body in the Trunk. With thousands of prospective buyers in which to gauge reactions, I watched body language, listened to comments, and took in overall response. My goal was to refine the book until it's ideal to begin the official release.

I discovered a few important things:
  • The cover works: it pops and attracts attention
  • The back cover copy first paragraph needs to be rewritten. It wrongly positions the book as a romance novel when it is not. I need to emphasize the mystery elements.
Those two pieces of information can make all of the difference when selling the book. People look first at the cover and then glance at the back cover. An ineffective piece of copy that positions the book incorrectly can kill sales. Romance readers are very specific, and I don't want to position the book as a romance novel in a largely mystery-oriented crowd. Now the book has romantic elements, but it's not strictly romance. The story revolves around the mystery of the body in the trunk ... hence the title. If nothing else, I learned what I needed to learn about the book for the best possible official release this spring.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Good Problems to Have with a Hot-Seller Book

The fantastic problem in the book world: running out of copies of your book. Dropped-Off Dog (A Mostly-True "Tail") by Catherine Lagorio is the best example of a hot seller and keeping up with demand. In publishing you try to stay ahead of print runs to ensure you maintain stock. In this book's case, it has been off press about two months and selling hotter than hot cakes. As we've juggled and shuffled books back and forth to meet demand, she hit her "out of inventory" moment this morning. So congrats! The good news we pre-ordered more copies. The trepidation -- timing the new order to the demand. Ah, the life of a hot-selling author! You do have to smile though. Give us a few days and then pick up your own copy of this sweet and endearing book about pet homelessness. Find out why she ran out of her first print run so quickly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

First Place Winner, Best Inspirational Book -- In the Footsteps of Greatness


 Freshman author Josh Mathe adds another award to his growing list of acknowledgements. His book In the Footsteps of Greatness took First Place, Best New Author, Best Inspirational book in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards.

I personally enjoyed this book, and I've lauded it many times over. If you want a feel-good Christmas present for friends and family this book will do it. I do want to clarify that this book is way more than a hiking book or a how-to backpack. It won the inspirational acknowledgment because it definitely inspires. It chronicles how Josh overcame his personal demons to do something he tried and failed to do a couple of times -- hike the 212-mile John Muir Trail in a week. He doesn't so much battle the elements as he conquers his own issues and mental outlook. How many of us can relate to how we hold ourselves back in life? I know I could easily understand the issues.

I personally can't wait until Josh's sophomore effort starts. This project was my "feel-good" effort for 2014. Buy your eBook or print edition on Amazon today or visit the 3L Publishing website (www.3LPublishing.com) under Books.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Painting and Miami Book Fair

So my building is being painted. I woke up to a conversation that sounded like it was right outside of my window. I thought, "It sounds like the painters are in my house ..." I got up to get coffee, and you know what? They were right on my balcony, and I have to be honest it was disconcerting. They were jabbering away right on my premises and I was sleeping in the other room. Hmmm...

Onto other topics du jour: this week is Miami time. We're off to the International Miami Book Fair (where else) in Miami, Florida. The logistical requirements to ship 400 3L Publishing books across the United State was something. I also had to think through every element of my marketing materials and how make it lightweight and fit in a suitcase.

For authors or those who sell products, here are my tips:
  • Suitcase-sized signage -- this will rest protected between my clothes
  • Folding book holders -- these fold up into a slim fit to reduce bulk
  • Cloth banner and drop cloth -- folded and neatly put in the suitcase
  • Slim-sized plastic container -- this holds and protects 300 flyers, bookmarks, business cards, and misc. items, and it fits right into a larger suitcase
Paring down a display to simple signage and supplies is best when transporting across country. You want to be assured it all arrives in the right place. You don't want to pay expensive shipping fees, especially when you're merchandise are on average $15 each and the sale of the items can be no more than a certain number. The idea is to make money not lose money. Expensive shipping costs can eat right into your profit margins.

Now let's hope tomorrow morning I don't wake up the painter drinking coffee in my living room. Miami here we come! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Morning Musings: Funny One-Liners in Publishing

As a traveling publisher, I meet all kinds of readers and people in general. So for your entertainment, we're going to use our Friday Morning Musing to quote the funniest things or comments I hear from readers.

"I don't like books." -- book festival patron(s)
"Do you read a lot?" -- someone wondering about my love of reading (I'm a publisher and editor)
"Is this a real publishing company?" -- I am inevitably asked this in my booth space with about 50 books in my display.

Now here are the funniest things authors say. I want to give you a preemptive strike. If you get the actual publisher on the phone, don't say any of these things. It will be a huge strike against you, and a publisher's time is precious. It's a deadline-driven business.

"My first chapter sucks."
"I don't know what my book is about."
"I don't think it will sell."
"It's not very good."

I realize you probably thinking I'm kidding... I'm not. Authors have said those words to me -- and on more than one occasion. Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

USA Best Book Awards: In the Footsteps of Greatness is a Finalist

One of my personal favorites in the 3L Publishing catalog is In the Footsteps of Greatness, and it just placed as a Finalist in the USA Best Book Awards under narrative nonfiction (for more information, click here). Author Josh Mathe's first effort is this articulate, thoughtful and dynamic book about his experience not hiking the John Muir Trail, but running the 212-mile trail in one week. What I really enjoyed about Josh's book is the spirit to persevere and accomplish his goal. Endurance athletes will appreciate his insight into "fast-packing" and general readers will enjoy how Josh willing and honestly talks about the experience, life and all the challenges that he takes on with enthusiasm.

I highly recommend this book as a Christmas present, and you won't have to stay up all night on black "whatever" to get a copy. Buy it on Amazon in print or eBook (click here).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sales Tip: Find the Hook and Close

I'm going to focus on consumer book sales as my example for the day. Here is the tip for authors who sell books or products directly to consumers at events (book festivals in my case): find the tagline. It's the one way to make the reader (consumer) stop in his or her tracks. My approach goes like this:

Michelle: Do you read thrillers?
Reader: No (keeps walking)
Reader: Yes (stops)

Now have a marketing promo piece or giveaway (your way of thanking them for their time to stop and talk to you).

Find the pitch (tagline):

Michelle: You'll never guess the killer (for the 3L Publishing book Vengeance is Now)
Reader: I'm pretty good. I might.
Michelle: I edited the book, and I swear I didn't guess. The author is right over there and he will sign your book.

Send them off to the author to sign the book. You have to find the "hook" or the temptation. Challenging readers who pride themselves in being able to identify the killer gets them every time. If you have to sell, find hook no. #1 (identify your prospect) and hook #2 (grab their attention) and then close them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Creativity

You can't teach creativity. You can stimulate creativity, but you can't teach it. You can inspire it. Some people are either super creative and some people are super scientific or math oriented. Did you realize though both disciplines can be creative. Thinking out of the box is creative. It's also inspired. What inspires an artist or scientist though is not definable.

How do you inspire? I think inspiration or motivation can come from example. You can be inspired by someone else who leads the way. I find inspiration in other artists' and authors' works. I am fortunate to read other authors' works all day long. But a really great story -- whether a story, movie or narrative -- can be inspirational. Anything that makes you think or question life in general can motivate you to be creative and put the ideas through your own lens.

I always say surround yourself with the very best people. People around you can inspire you on a daily basis. They can influence you. It's why it's so important to surround yourself with like-minded people. What goes up goes down. And the "gravitational" pull of those who go down more than up can also suck you in. So go with the up and not the down. Surround yourself with those who inspire your creativity and greatness. Leave the others to their own downs.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Movie Review: Interstellar

Rating: *****

Best movie of the year and best movie I have seen in years. The incomparable writer, producer, director Christopher Nolan delivers (again) in this mind-bending and exceedingly intelligent film (not movie ... movies are popcorn flicks and this is plain and simply film).

The premise is complex while at the same time simple: a plague is turning crops to dust and the atmosphere is declining with eminent extinction of the human race at stake. Now comes the complex: pilot Copper, who has two adoring children, is "called" to navigate a space ship through a worm hole to investigate several viable planets to relocate the human race and/or colonize the surface (Plan A and Plan B). Leaving his beloved daughter Murphy (named after Murphy's Law) and his son, Cooper faces the epic challenge of getting through the worm hole to the other side and battling time shifts (Einstein's Theory of Relativity) and other very real situations on foreign planets.

What I LOVE about this film is its sheer wisdom and intelligence. Nolan never tries to pander to us. He uses his characters to explain math and science in an understandable way. He keeps the story and the visuals extremely realistic and interesting, and the concepts and stories are reality-based. But it's his thoughtful spiritual ideas about love and interconnection and intuition involved in loving someone so strongly that you just know things that science cannot explain. The power of love becomes the underlining basis in this film, and I was so moved by the strength of the message, it brought tears to my eyes. Not all things we know are explainable. My new book Body in the Trunk touches on the deep spiritual connection and power of love. So I was happy to see other artists exploring those thoughts, too. GO SEE THIS FILM! It's a must. I haven't been so enthusiastic about a film in years. I loved it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Morning Musings: Ode to Cole

My son Cole has become a First Word fan. He reads my blog during his "boring" classes. He loves my "musings" so I thought today would be "Ode to Cole". First, you have to appreciate that Cole, 16, is about 6'5". What you have to know about tall people is that TALL doesn't spring over night through some adolescent growth spurt. It is obvious someone is going to be super tall early on. Cole when he was age 2 looked age 5, which was difficult for a nonverbal two-year-old who got judged by Kindergarten standards. "What? Is he 'special'?" "Um no! He's two!" I am not nearly as tall as my son, but I was always the tallest in the class or at various times, close to the tallest.

I'm 5'9" but I'm a girl so that's pretty tall for a woman. The only downside is I was often taller than some of the guys, too. Being tall has its perks. You can see (generally) over people's heads. They almost always put you in the back of the photo or they make you sit down (sitting rocks when it takes a long time). If I put on high heels, it's way more fun. I can totally survey the room.

But back to the guy thing. Nothing is less fun than towering over your man. Yes, ladies no one wants that "Amazon" feeling when with the opposite sex. Once though I had on high-heeled boots and I met a friend of mine who is 6'1" and dang if I didn't get the wrong impression that he is short. He's not (obviously) short. Once he had come in a room ahead of me. The host said, "Oh, yes that tall fellow who went upstairs." I had a chuckle. I always wore heels around him, and I had to finally acknowledge, "Oh yeah that 'TALL' fellow."

Back to my son, who if I put the right headline on this blog will be sucked into the "tall" discussion. His height has become so notable that it's the first thing everyone sees. Not only is he tall, but he's just BIG. Place his hand against mine, and the word "small" finally applies. I have very long and slender everything (legs, arms, feet, hands). Compared to Cole I am downright petite. If you ever happen to see pictures of the two of us you will mistakenly get the impression, I am his short mother. Well, sitting or standing by my "sweetheart of a giant's size" I do indeed look small. And that my friends is my "Ode to Cole".

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ghost Writing Vs. Editing Vs. Proofing

Not all editing is alike. Not all writing is alike either. I get calls all of the time for different kinds of writing skills. Clients often don't understand the difference between ghostwriting, editing and proofing.

Ghostwriting is writing for someone else on their behalf and then making it look like they wrote it. Many people have a story to tell, but they aren't professional writers. They are either looking to professionally publish their stories or they just want something for friends and family. A ghostwriter though does most if not all of the writing.

Editing is more global. The editor is looking at the overall content and the grammar and punctuation. A great editor will also do what we call book coaching. In looking at the entire story, the editor provides feedback and guidance to improve either a nonfiction or fiction book or just content for websites and marketing materials.

Proofing is drill-down and specific. The proofreader AKA copy editor is looking at every detail to ensure grammar, syntax, punctuation and style are correct. A great editor isn't always a fantastic proofreader and an excellent proofreader is not always a good editor.

In the editing and writing departments it's rare to have one person with all skill sets. It may not make sense but I've worked with great editors who are okay writers, and I've worked with good writers who are not good editors. You can't necessarily lump it together. We use at least two editors on manuscripts. I'm what you would call the editor-in-chief and editor (book coach) and then I worked with another editor who is more of a proofreader. You always want more than one set of eyes on your work. One person just can't do it all. Even if that person is really good at who he or she does, it's very hard to be a jack-of-all-editors. Getting a book nearly perfect is a real feat when you're working with some 50,000 words. So value the editorial profession. It's takes more skill than you learned in high school English.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Random Thoughts about the Post Office

Since I temporarily took over operations and fulfillment I have visited the Post Office more time than I can count. The workers know me. Here are some little-known facts about the Post Office.

Did you know they won't give you tape? Well, they won't give you anything at all. Tape costs $3.50 per roll. Even if you need a piece "yaye" big ... nope! Sorry. As a result, I have "tape sympathy". I can't tell you how many times a poor, frustrated citizen has been about to mope off when I've turned around and offered him/her tape. I feel sorry for the "tape-less" who now have to either spend $3.50 for an inch of tape or go across the road to Wal-Mart -- and god forbid anyone have to visit the aisles of Wal-Mart, so I offer it up like a loaf of bread to a starving person.

Media mail better not have any advertisements in it ... cause you know "it's subject to inspection". I had this immediate image of the Postal Police rushing in the door. "Stop! Open that package! A-ha! A business card! Send it back!"

"Anything liquid, perishable or lithium batteries." I have heard that phrase so many times I've memorized it. No, no and no. I have wondered aloud if the workers get sick of saying it. The lady laughed and said she's just used to it and doesn't even think about it. I had another image of the Disney voice saying, "Keep head, arms and legs" in the boat" (Small World). I need to say that in Spanish, too.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Me and the Queen of Hearts

You have to humor me today. I am prone to depression (I will admit it because it takes it out of secrecy and makes it mainstream). When I'm depressed I sleep a lot ... A LOT. I don't want to take drugs for it. The last time I did it scrambled my brain like eggs. I need my brains. So, I do natural things, and I try to recognize what's going on and stop myself from falling into the "rabbit hole". I equate the rabbit hole as a very unfriendly place and really hard to crawl back out.

Sometimes though I let myself fully celebrate the rabbit hole with the Queen of Hearts. We often talk about how fun it would be to take some people's heads off and maybe spare the others. It's all talk really. You know over a deck of cards. When I let myself celebrate my dark humor I just give myself a day or so. This self-inflicted pity-party involves howling at the moon, too. It feels great. Try a little howling -- best home remedy around.

The depression tends to be triggered by PMS (the all-time favorite culprit of imbalanced hormones and age) and overall unresolved feelings. Depression is anger turned inward. Sometimes I wonder if I just let the anger rage outward instead of inward I would at least release it. Instead I press a smile on my face when I shouldn't smile at all. I place boundaries and then watch others disrespect those boundaries and then it creates a vicious circle. I feel bad about myself for allowing disrespect. Then I remember, maybe I didn't respect myself. You would be surprised though once those boundaries REALLY go down and you hold and hold and hold how all of a sudden a new-found respect arises from those who think those boundaries were drawn in erasable ink.

One time my husband said, "I don't get it. You place boundaries with me. Why do you let other people walk right over them but not me?" I pondered the question. And then I realized why I could do it with him. Because I knew in my "queen of hearts" that he loves me unconditionally, and it's all right to say what I need and want. If someone loves you they don't want to disrespect your boundaries.

So, in my dark humor day I hope there is a nugget of golden information for you to take home. I don't know if I'll ever totally overcome depression. That I am still walking, talking and authentically smiling says a lot about my place on this journey. That I found a husband who loves me unconditionally says even more. And that I am able to hold the line shines bright on the promise of hope for happiness.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You Can't Break the Rules if You Don't Know the Rules

I don't like to color inside of the lines. When it comes to writing stories I don't insist authors color in the lines either. I was asked a question about whether or not a story technique HAD to apply. Truth is outside of grammar and punctuation I don't think anything HAS to be done. BUT I do want authors to know what they're doing vs. just doing what they think is the correct method of storytelling. It's the difference between being intentional and being unaware. Not to suggest that lack of awareness will never work (anything is possible), but unintentionally breaking rules you don't know exist is like rolling the dice and hoping it hits snake eyes.

When I write, I write with intention to do what I am doing. If it's breaking rules of storytelling or character development or plotting, I know it does. Why I am doing is what matters vs. just deciding to do it. What is my point? For example, in my forthcoming book Body in the Trunk I quite intentionally messed with the story structure. What I did with my technique was to "intentionally" layer the storytelling. Each chapter while a mini-story in and of itself was told from different viewpoints. That technique accomplished two "intentional goals": one, to give the reader insight into each of these characters and provide their back stories, and two, develop their voices and points-of-view. It also created a depth and developed the story from these different viewpoints.

Now the haphazard approach would be to just do what you want with no intention or purpose. You know ... throw mud at the wall and see what sticks. Here is the insight: I knew the rules of storytelling. Since I know the rules I was able to "twist" and play with them to get my gross results: a fully flushed out story. If I didn't know exactly what I was doing in bending structure to my goals, the results could have been messy storytelling that loses the reader's interest. Additionally, critics (and they still could) might lambaste my work and not see that it was all intentional. My hope is they see it's creative and interesting not disorganized and confusing. Without knowledge of the rules to break the latter is more likely. So know your rules. Then bend them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Body in the Trunk: Chapter 3 Excerpt


Chapter 3

I attended an annual multimedia trade show in New York City at the Convention Center every year. My company M Marketing and Graphics bought a 10 x 10 booth, and we always seemed to sit across from this Japanese electronics company where the diminutive Asian sales girls wore five-inch heels presumably to make up for their lack of height. I marveled at any woman, short or not, who would dare to wear platform shoes for more than an hour much less 10 hours on a cement trade-show floor. I, on the other hand, wore my comfortable, flat Mary Janes to match my slim black skirt and lavender silk blouse with silver buttons on the two breast pockets that gave it sparkle. I tucked it in with a wide belt with silver infinity clasps in the center to give it a modern, chic flair.
I loved trade shows – the energy and meeting potential clients face-to-face. Most of my life was spent in my home office at my computer working on graphics and illustrations for marketing campaigns. So when I came out of my “cave,” it felt wonderful to talk and interact with interested clients. I also appreciated the time away from my parental duties and the ever-increasing bland and numb feelings toward Paul. He never made these trips easy. He complained he would have to take care of the girls, and I better not stay too long. Although I was expected to earn full-time pay to contribute to my 50-plus percent of our bills, it never seemed to bother him to demand I take all the kid duties.
 Of course, the now-dual interruptions to pick up the girls meant that I still needed to work later to make up the difference; however, Paul also required I end my workday on time to spend time with the family. He complained nonstop if I worked late. Then I would intentionally go out to eat dinner with everyone only to find Paul comfortably sitting in front of our 56-inch flat-screen TV with our kids, watching Power Puff Girls or Sponge Bob Square Pants. He allowed everyone to eat in front of the TV even though when I was a child we sat down for dinner and talked. No talking took place during our dinner routine; but I better damned well be there to eat with them lest Paul come back and yell at me until I acquiesced just to get him to stop.
The craziness of those conversations frustrated me, too.

“You need to eat dinner with us,” he scolded as he crashed into my office.
“I’ve got a deadline.”
“All you do is whine and nag, you know that?”
“What?”
“Nag, nag, nag, nag.”
“What?”
“Get out there and eat dinner with us.”
“I’m not …”
“Nag, nag, nag, nag!”
“I don’t …”
“Nag, nag, nag.”
I would just get up and try not to look at him for fear of the last, “Nag!”

My other least-favorite thing about our life involved perpetual yelling. I knew Paul was home every night when I heard the front door open followed by a deep baritone voice and ritualistic crying. I would look up from the computer and sigh. Yes, Paul was home right on time and on cue with the negativity and raised voice at our girls. The theme typically revolved around homework. Giselle, my older one who was in the sixth grade, was a sensitive and sweet girl. Daddy’s screams inevitably led to cries and then another door slam to her room where she disappeared and buried herself in her computer games.
Travel to these trade shows also represented escape from those daily rituals I had come to despise. More importantly it got me away from Paul and the yelling and comments that came when I appeared in the room. The remarks ranged from disparaging observations about my blonde hair (he wanted me to dye it brown) to remarks about my slim figure that he didn’t appreciate. He commonly told people I was anorexic, which I was not anorexic, but I had an extraordinary metabolism. I’m not sure if by telling people this he was justifying his own growing girth, which he added to by heaping so much food on his plate it overflowed the sides. I tried not to pay attention to either the weight gain or food consumption. I said little about anything these days. Between the bland, numb feeling and constant work demand to make more money to pay what now amounted to more than my 50 percent of the bills and more like 70 percent of the bills, I was too tired to care.
Just then a blonde, tall man with bluish-green eyes who wore a perfectly tailored navy-blue jacket, brilliant purple tie that was a complementary color to the jacket, and jeans with a leather belt with an “E” for a buckle walked up. He stopped to look at the graphic designs on display on the royal-blue Velcro walls of my booth. He was specifically gazing at the logos I had created over the years for various companies. He had a blonde goo-tee that he ran his fingertips through as he studied the work. It was one of those goo-tees where he carefully sculpted it and shaved his cheeks fresh and clean. His skin color was light but rosy and healthy-looking. I wasn’t really attracted to blondes, and I wasn’t exactly attracted to him at all until his eyes shifted from the art to me. He gave me this quiet, contemplative look, which I didn’t take for anything more than a stare except his eyes sparkled at me. I noticed the glisten in them like high-quality diamonds. Although even with that thought, I quickly dismissed it.
And then I felt this odd sensation, and I flashed on this vision: I was a bride standing on a beach about to approach my groom. White flowers were woven in my hair and I held a single white lily as a bouquet with a white ribbon tied on its stem. I tried to make out the groom’s face, but he was too far away. And then I felt a tug and returned to the present.
“You do branding?”
“Huh?” I replied and shook off the sensation. “Yes. We’ve done many Fortune 100 companies,” I said as I pointed to a big-name corporation. “My name is Mia.”
“Hello Mia,” he smiled at me again with that same gaze of interest. “Name’s Evan. I’m looking for a partner in my design studio. I need someone who can handle the corporate branding campaigns.”
“Hmm,” I said. “I’ve had partnerships before. They didn’t go well.”
At that comment, Evan turned to face me. He seemed to size me up and nodded as he thought about what I said.
“Maybe you didn’t find the right partner … Mia,” and with my name stated again he put his hand in his pocket and smoothly flipped out a business card.
“Drinks?”
I took the glossy card and with slick, black Garamond font letters: Evan Garner, Vice President, Garner Media.
I looked back up at him, “Drinks?”
“Yes, tonight back at my place at the Hotel Gansevort along Hudson River Park. Meet me in the bar. We’ll talk shop.”
“How funny,” I said.
“What?”
“I’m staying there, too.”
“Yes.”
“Yes?” I frowned at him.
Evan smiled, “Nine work?”
“Um, all right, okay,” I replied and felt puzzled as I looked at the card again.
 When I looked back up I saw his back as he walked smoothly away toward the front entrance. His gait and air suggested quiet confidence and certainty, but also casualness with his hands stuffed in his pants pockets. He almost looked like someone who had too much cavalier bravado – maybe something else, too. I couldn’t put my finger on it. My cell phone rang in my purse under the sales counter and called my attention away: it was Paul. I looked at the name flash on the phone and groaned. I didn’t want to pick up so I hit ignore and looked back up to find Evan completely gone.


Monday, October 27, 2014

I don't read books ...

The funniest line of the California Capital Book Festival came from patrons who said, "I don't read books." The mystery and humor is they said it at a "book" festival. I think that's akin to going to the dog shelter and saying, "I don't like dogs." I'm not entirely sure why anyone who doesn't read books would wander around a book festival.

In more interesting news, we sold a lot of copies of Vengeance is Now. Authors wondering how we managed to probably have one of the top-selling titles of the festival, I'll lend you some advice. Don't be afraid to sell. Get your flyers and your one-liners ready. Don't be afraid, period. Put your best smile on your face. Be charming and nice. Walk up to people. Ask them if they like the genre you're selling and ... sell! I will give serious props to the author Scott D. Roberts. His talent is the close. I pushed the prospects, and he sold the prospects.

Give of yourself to others is my other advice. Be generous of spirit. Help other writers. When young writers approached our booth, we provided mentoring and information. Before you receive, be sure to give.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Scott D. Roberts Speaks on Mystery-Thriller Writing

Getting ready for the California Capital Book Festival between Bookfest last week in Manteca has made business as usual more like business at light speed. My company 3L Publishing and several authors including Scott D. Roberts and Cathy Lagorio have booths. I am speaking on Book Marketing and Scott is speaking on Mystery/Thriller writing. Come see Roberts speak:

Panel: Mystery/Thriller Writing
Panel: Scott D. Roberts, Vengeance is Now; Robin Burcell, The Kill Order; and William Wood, Sudden Impact
Date: October 26, 2014
Place: Sacramento Convention Center
Event: California Capital Book Festival
Address: 1400 J Street, Sacramento, CA
Room 312
Time: 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Admission: FREE

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Body in the Trunk

Murder! Lust! Power! Revenge!

Wilting away in a stale, abusive marriage, Mia meets Evan, a handsome, sexy stranger. They share an immediate, undeniable and otherworldly connection. A passionate affair begins ...

A body is mysteriously found in the trunk of a Toyota Camry. True crime writer Tess has a psychic vision and tracks down Detective Phil Harris to help solve the case.

Body in the Trunk is an intriguing, mysterious story about wicked games, love-gone-wrong, family loyalty, and ultimately betrayal that leads to murderous rage.

Body in the Trunk will be available in limited release on the 3L Publishing website (www.3LPublishing.com), and released nationally in spring 2015.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Body in the Trunk - Excerpt, Chapter 6


Chapter 6
            It had been many weeks since Tess and Phil began their rituals of lunch and cocktail meetings. Tess had remembered their first cocktail meeting. They had scheduled it right after they met at Starbuck’s.
At first, they had a tempestuous nature to their relationship upon her revelation that it had been more than just a TV appearance that had sucked her into the case not just her desire to write true crime. What Tess had rarely shared with anyone were her psychic gifts.  It hadn’t been just the body in the trunk or the handsome detective who had ignited a passionate desire to know what had happened and share it. 
After she had seen the show, she had gone to bed that night and had a dream. She had seen a woman’s hand on the trunk of the Camry, but it hadn’t just been the hand it had been the feelings – like emotions plugged into and replacing her own. It had been the yearning she felt that pulled her heart. The woman’s distress along with her intense craving had drawn in Tess. She had felt a sorrow and a need for love. This pain had been like a residual trace feelings left behind in Tess’ mind like an aching numbness and a depth of unrealized desire. This strange connection had clung to Tess’ being like an ardent lover bound to his desire to make love to his beloved. It also had made Tess want to hug someone she had never met and reassure her life would get better.
            She had sensed from the first meeting that Phil wouldn’t be easily convinced that she could use her psychic gifts to help the case. She had felt he was a skeptic; but she had known she would have to tell him regardless, so she had decided to reveal it during their first cocktail meeting.

She walked up the stairs to The Mix, which was located on the second floor of a downtown mall. She stopped to fluff her strawberry blonde curls in the mirror that lined the stairwell. She smiled with her raspberry-frosted lips. She wore faded designer jeans and a grape-colored T-shirt with a scooped neck that tied at the waist and let the drawstring hang. She also wore matching White House Black Market black strappy sandals that sexed up her look. Her ever-growing crush on Phil had influenced just how hot she had wanted to look for him. He was dryly funny with her, and she saw him look at her in ways that suggested a mutual crash, but still he maintained at a professional distance.
            Once she got to the top of the stairs, she looked around. The space was designed in modern chic with brown leather chairs that were rounded with deep seats that hung close to the floor. Various patent-leather lounges were puzzled together in zigzag shapes, and to the right was a glass wall that quartered off the outdoor patio with similar furnishings and fire pits for guests to eat appetizers, drink frothy cocktails, and sip expensive wines.
She noticed Phil sitting on an uncomfortable barstool pushed up against the slick, black bar. His head was lowered, and this time it was he who played with a matchbook even though in California you could not smoke in bars, and most health-conscious Californians didn’t smoke these days anyway.
            She made her way over toward Phil, and she didn’t notice all the men whose heads turned to watch the pretty woman pass. She wasn’t one to notice men’s heads turn. She was always thinking and focused, and she didn’t pay attention to what was around her, which her Grandma Murphy had warned her about safety. The warning had gone unheeded. Tess really didn’t have the mind to pay attention despite what anybody suggested she do.
Today’s singular focus was on her handsome detective whom she had imagined seducing and kissing when she closed her eyes at night. Her fantasies involved brash moves in which she would crawl up to him while he lay amused against a black headboard; but the idea always got interrupted with lack of knowledge of what his full lips really felt and tasted like.  She came up quietly and touched his muscular bicep to get his attention. His muscles were tight and well-formed, which caused her to have a surge of lust, but she held her desires in-check. She also hated chasing men, and she would not give her smug detective a hint about the carnal knowledge she wished to possess about him.
            “Well, look at you. All normal citizen and all,” she teased as she sat down next to him.
            She saw Phil’s eyes run her up and down, and she felt positive that qualified as an eye-fuck.
            “So, you’re here right on time,” said Phil. “I thought I might have to take these,” he gestured to the matches, “and fire up a stogie outside.”
            Tess grimaced, “You smoke?”
            He held his fingers just an inch apart and shrugged.
            “Oh,” she said with disappointment.
            Phil took this as a cue to wave over the bartender, a young man with a clean-shaven head and a nose ring in his right nostril.
“I’ll have a dirty martini, and my friend here will have …”
            Tess became comfortable and thought for a second, “A chocolate martini.”
            Phil waved that off and rolled his eyes, “That’s dessert,” he groaned.
            “Tastes like it, too,” she replied with a pleased smile.
            “So, Tess what do you want to know?”
            “Well, I thought it was strange you found a body in a Camry, and I had this weird dream the day before. It was like déjà vu. I saw that Camry. Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but I had this feeling about it. And I had these feelings of depression and sadness and … yeah, longing.”
            “Are you psychic or something?” chuckled Phil.
            “Don’t make fun. Nonbelievers have gifts, too, they just don’t know it,” she said just as her “dessert” arrived in a chocolate-coated martini glass. “I have visions. I don’t know when they’ll strike. They just do at odd times. Loading the dishwasher, making the bed, whatever.”
            “And you had a vision of the car? What about the person in the trunk?”
            “Nothing … just the car.”
            Phil’s dirty martini had arrived. He nursed it and plucked the green olive off the toothpick to eat it.
“Well, we have prints of the car’s owner, a one Mia McIntyre, but she disappeared. Her husband is gone, too, but her little girls are with the grandparents who said one day the dad came by and dropped them off to go to the movies and he never returned. The couple was in the middle of a really nasty divorce I was told. We identified the body as one Rachelle Anne Fernando, some gal from the East Coast. Died, blunt trauma to the head. Found some of Rachelle’s blood at Mia’s place, which indicates the kill took place there. No idea about motive. And that Tess is all we got to date.” 
            Tess sipped her sweet drink and pondered that information. She closed her eyes to remember the dream, but all she could see was a feminine hand on the trunk. She opened her eyes. She glanced at Phil who looked skeptical.
            “Really Houdini, you going to pull a rabbit, too?”
            Tess shook her head and said, “It’s the woman, Mia. She dumped the body, but …” she paused, “I’m not sure she killed her.”
            “What? You can’t know that?” Phil shook his head. “In homicide they call that bullshit.”
            “Whatever, Phil,” she sneered at him. “I had the vision; saw your show, and I just have this ability to see things. I’m not embarrassed about it.”
            “You go to Psychic Fairs and let some lady named ‘Crystal’ tell you, ‘You’ll meet a nice boy and get married in the year 2025’. You go for that crap?”
            “You mocking me? Cause if you’re mocking me, I’m going to prove you’re wrong.”
            “We got those government-certified psychics who come into the department all the time, and frankly nine times out of 10, they’re wrong.”
            “About everything?”
            “Well, okay fine so maybe one says, ‘I see … a gold scarf and a pearl necklace,’ but the case doesn’t get solved that way.”
            “But there was a scarf and necklace?”
Phil flipped the matchbook case away toward the bar, turned to her, and put his hand up on the bar, “All right, and your point is …”
“My point is that I have some psychic connection to this case, and I don’t know why or how, but I’m going to write a book about it, and you’re going to help me,” she replied with a raised eyebrow.
Phil glanced at her and rolled his eyes. Tess felt an increasing attraction toward her cynical detective. She noticed his blue eye deepen in contrast to his brown eye. He was annoyed with her, but she didn’t let that cool her desire for him that kept fluttering in her stomach and dampening her black-silk panties. She crossed her legs and tightened her thighs to suppress the desire to reach down and relieve her own passion. She shifted uncomfortably, and the booze heating up her insides didn’t help alleviate her urge to reach across to stroke his package – you know just to find out how big a surprise she might be in for.
As for his displeasure in her story, she knew she would just have to show him. Besides how was she supposed to explain her gifts to some guy who clearly thought that a chakra was an ’80s rock band? Even her own father had wanted to take her to the funny farm when as a small child she had seen what she thought was a hunter wearing a red jacket in the woods. When she had told her father, he had said there was no hunter in the woods. Young Tess had pointed to the man in the distance. She had seen him walking with a rifle in one hand with his head down. Her father told her there was no one there, and that he intended to get her head examined when she got home. This threat scared her along with the vision of the man who was still clearly walking through the woods.
As she grew older, her visions increased between seeing ghosts and predicting the future. To her girlfriend’s chagrin, she could always tell them when prospective boyfriends wouldn’t last or when she would get married. All of it always turned out to be true, so none of Tess’ friends ever questioned her abilities. Now she had her sexy detective annoyed over her revelation of why she took an interest in the case; but it didn’t matter. She was determined to continue.
Phil groaned at her and said, “All right there, Psychic Network, I’ll tell you we don’t think it was the woman who did it anyway. From what we know this Mia gal was a tall, petite thing. Her friends and family said she was a total pacifist and never hit a thing in her life. She didn’t believe in spanking kids either. The kids said they never so much as had a pat on the ass let alone a good old-fashioned swat. Mom was sweet and gentle by all accounts, but they did say the dad was a real piece of work – selfish prick. If anything they would have predicted she shoved his ass in the trunk not some stranger.”
“It wasn’t her.”
“Oh, you got evidence?”
“No, it wasn’t her,” Tess reiterated.
“Well, you’re so certain then who was it? Lead me to the person. Let’s make some arrests.”
“Oh, I’ll help.”
“What? You got a degree in forensic science now, too?”
Tess started laughing and took another sip, “Nope, just got this,” and she tapped the side of her head and winked. “And now you,” she said and fluttered her eyelashes. Tess noted how carefully Phil watched her. She saw a little smile cross his lips, and she wondered about that bit of pleasure on his face. She was definitely attracted to him, and from that night forward she made him the object of her sexual fantasies.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Striving for Excellence

I just got off the phone with a prospect. She saw a presentation I recently gave. She said she was so impressed. She cited one thing I said as important, "3L Publishing's mission is to strive for excellence in everything we do." My desire for excellence is driven by my passion for publishing and books. I know what I like. I know what I as a consumer want to see. What I don't want to see is a low-quality book where no care was given to the quality of the product. I want not only the experience of working with my company to be a great relationship with our authors and clients, but also I want our final products to shine and reflect handsomely on the author and my company. I want every author or client to know that regardless of anything else, their books or marketing materials will be well-done. They will show off their final products with pride. They can feel good about it. When I've achieved those goals I've done what I set out to do -- strive for excellence. Many other "publishing" choices are available. I always say, "We're not the cheapest; we're not the most expensive; but we are the best!" Do you want the very best for your book? Call me today at 916-300-8012 or send an email to info@3LPublishing.com.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Value Your Opportunities

I was asked to teach a writing class via a note sent to me from one of my newsletter readers. After teaching the class and being complimented on my speaking abilities, I was given three leads on three book projects. Now some often suggest that a weekly newsletter unless it produces direct sales has no value. My three prospects later suggest the opposite.

One of my biggest challenges with business owners and authors is getting them to understand it's long-term opportunities you hope to attract from marketing activities. I've done the newsletter for eight years now. I write it weekly. Have I ever had someone say, "Hey! I read your newsletter let's do business." No. It doesn't work like a cash register - ka-ching sales!

Marketing and keeping your brand in front of prospective business is about long-term exposure and visibility. It's about creating brand familiarity and recognition. It's also about building long-term relationships with prospects. My newsletter is designed to do nothing more than keep my brand in front of clients and prospects. When it produces an invitation to teach a class or speak or even questions about business then it has worked. Expectations that my newsletter will generate direct sales is a misdirected idea about it.

Marketing and promotion is about opening doors of opportunities. When business owners quit looking at something with the idea of producing direct sales, they will be infinitely happier with their results. That I was able to have an opportunity to speak and thus attract three prospects is the value. Closing the sales on the prospects is the gravy. But without opportunities there would be no prospects and without prospects that would be no gravy.

But at the end of the business day the final answer about your marketing activities' value is simple: stop doing what you're doing and see what happens!