Friday, January 31, 2014

Ah Sweet Paranormal Romance: Body in the Trunk

My next novel titled Body in the Trunk comes out in spring time, and it's a paranormal romance. I never even heard of the genre until a few years ago. Turns out it's a popular genre especially among women readers.

Just to whet your appetite and get you ready for my book, here is the story:

Other Worldly Love
Wicked Games
Murder ...

A young crime writer named Tess becomes interested in the mystery behind a body found in the trunk of a Toyota Camry. In pursuing her desire to write her first true crime book, she connects with Detective Phil Harris, whom she develops a crush on, to solve the mystery. As they work together, another love story unfolds and the reader discovers a secret relationship and paranormal affair that results in  unspeakable tragedy. Evan, the philandering conman, meets his match when he can't resist the intense love and connection he feels for his target, Mia, a businesswoman, wife and mother whose unhappy life leaves her vulnerable to his seduction. Their unexpected attraction was so fierce they couldn't resist each other, and their intense love sets up a domino effect that results in an unspeakable tragedy.

Told in a unique style that combines the narrative told through the eyes of the different characters, the story goes backward and forward in time to show the story as it unfolds. Body in the Trunk is mysterious, romantic, sexy and intriguing -- a must-read page-turner readers won't be able to resist.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Power of Trusting the Process

Have you ever thought about trust? Not just trust in another person, but also trust in yourself. Trusting that a situation will work out the way it is supposed to work. Do you realize that is about releasing the concept of "control" and realizing you are powerless over anything or anyone other than yourself. Trust means going with your gut and knowing that your gut (AKA your heart) will serve you. Your heart/gut has the answers and the "knowingness," and you have to let go and know it will be all right.

I am clairvoyant and spiritual. So I have an even larger idea of what my life could look like -- it's one of my gifts. I have a relationship in my life in which I foresaw the future -- and at the time I didn't understand a few things about that vision. I didn't understand how it could be possible. Throughout that journey it continued to seem utterly impossible, too. And then there was an unexpected shift. And the impossible became quite possible, indeed. Throughout that journey my lesson (and it resounds like bells in my ears) is to learn to trust the process. Trust that this trail will unfold at its proper time right in front of me ... effortlessly. Our perception that things have to be difficult is nothing more than a mindset. Realize and trust that your life doesn't have to be difficult. Things don't have to be hard. Open your heart to your inner truths. Trust the process.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Social Media -- The Bad "Stalkers" and the Good "Stalkers"

A friend of mine has been dealing with some social media stalker nonsense, which has provoked some recent thought on the issue. First, for would-be stalkers I want like to share: it's not a good idea to mess with someone's social media page(s). Many people use social media to build their reputations and attract business and network. I certainly use social media in this respect, as a business tool. My friend also uses it for those reasons, too. So when someone starts hacking and messing with what is a business tool, he or she impedes the flow of business. Changing someone's likes to something that would ruin their reputations could also be construed as defamation of character, especially if the nonsense is harmful.

I had a hacker once change my likes to make it appear as though I was a Nazi, Racist, lesbian man-hater. The hacker also "un-friended" clients, which definitely hurts business. The allegation could easily have been leveled that she had defamed my character and materially hurt my business. In my friend's case, his stalker has been messing with his actual page and made it impossible to get back into his own site, which also impedes business flow and marketing capabilities. Once more a breach in business could easily be alleged and a lawsuit brought down not to mention harassment.

Now why does this matter in a positive way. Facebook "Watchers" (I'll call them that instead of "stalkers") who pay attention to what you post lead to business. In the case of my friend, I was especially annoyed because I couldn't send "connections" that would lead to business to his site. The first thing one of my prospective clients did was "Friend" me. All of my clients connect with me through Facebook and social media. Many prospective clients like to observe what I post on my Wall and sometimes interact with me.

The value is in relationship building. Prospective clients spend time getting to know me before they work with me. People work with people they like, and social media gives you the opportunity to let people get to know and understand you. It's really virtual relationship building. When I can't send prospective business over to my friend's page because of unscrupulous stalker behavior, he loses opportunities. So people watch your social media behavior, too. People are watching you for a reason. In other words social media is not a toy (not for business people) nor is a high school yearbook ... just saying! ;)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Unforgettable Tear-Jerker Moments

Storytelling (film, TV and books) always have the ability to pull out emotions. But there are some great moments in stories that make me cry every, single time even when I know it's coming (because I've seen the film so many times). What constitutes a great tear-jerker? I couldn't say what it is specifically. Maybe it's the build up. Maybe it's the words. Maybe it's the acting. Maybe it's all those things combined ... but here are my top tear-jerker moments.

Terms of Endearment--when Aurora goes absolutely nuts and demands the painkillers for her daughter. Her utter desperation and pain is so conveyed. I know this scene is coming and here we go: tears! Gets me every single time without fail.

The Color Purple--when after so much longing, pain and loss, Nettie FINALLY gets her kids back. The moment when they show up off in the hazy, farm field distance ... yep! Here come the tears. Then she stands in the field in the end scene and they play the little girl hand game together. See! Tears! My eyes are watering.

Steel Magnolias--the depiction as portrayed by Sally Fields of a mother's loss and grief. When she finally loses all composure at the funeral and describes the last moments with her daughter, and how only a mother could bring that little life into the world and have enough strength to stand there and watch her child take her last breath. But even better is the funny offering to slap the grumpy woman played by Shirley Maclain (and may I point out Ms. Mcclain was in my other major tear-jerker, Terms of Endearment).

American Beauty--Lester Burnham's death and I'm going to let his words show you why I cry: I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me. But it's hard o stay mad when there is so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I am seeing it all at once, and it is too much. My heart fills up like a ballon that is about to burst. And then I remember to relax. And stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain. And I can feel anything but gratitude for every moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I'm talking about do you? But don't worry you will someday.

A River Runs Through It--the final words of the film get me every time: “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”

Shawshank Redemption--one sentence: get busy living or get busy dying. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Be the Goddess

I don't mind sharing personal experience as long as I think it will help someone else. Gratuitous sharing though isn't on my agenda. If you're going to get personal, a point to it makes it valuable. I have recently realized that I don't have very good self-esteem. I don't hold up very high standards of how I expect to be treated. Time and time again I have found myself in situations where I'm either being taken advantage of because of my generous, good nature or just completely overlooked. We teach other people how to treat us. I never learned to set limits (and I won't get into the reasons why). I have reflected on a few key things in my life, and I'm here to share that anyone (including an accomplished person who has much to feel proud about) can fall into the pit of feeling unworthy. When you fall into that trap you begin to accept the unacceptable. You begin to think, this is all "I" get and all I deserve.

Well, I have been slowly making some changes. I realized it's time to be the Goddess that I am. I need to hold space of pride, worth, value and expectations. Yes, expectations! I used to erroneously believe this negative thought, "Expect nothing and be happy with what you get when you get it." Time to turn that one around. Now my new thought is, "I expect to be treated like the Goddess I am, and in turn, I will treat others with the same respect." My bold message not just to you my readers, but to the world at large: I am a worthy, beautiful, smart and amazing woman. Not ifs, ands or I'm not worth it! And P.S., you're worth it, too.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Marketing and Persistence -- The Key to Success

I think most things in life require persistence. When it comes to marketing (and whatever your marketing choice) for your book or business, you have to do one key and important thing: be persistent. We're going to call this the "persistence factor" or PF. The PF influences your success quotient. PF is directly related to the degree of success. There! Your math quotient for marketing. For those of you who hate math, let's just speak in plain English.

You cannot do these things and succeed with your marketing programs:

Irregular newsletter: if you're going to write a newsletter, be prepared to WRITE it. I like to do mine weekly. I encourage others to do it weekly not bi-weekly not monthly. Keep your brand in front of your target audience -- that's the point. But if you commit, commit! Don't do it one week and drop it the next week. Persistence builds an expectation -- that newsletter will be in in-boxes regardless. People come to expect your newsletter, so you better meet that expectation. (Hint: business doesn't happen overnight, which also requires the PF in your efforts.)

Blog, blog, blog: if you're going to do a blog, BLOG! I do it daily (unless I'm traveling). The idea is to keep a constant "pressure" point on your audience. Keep the content rolling. Keep your brand in front of the audience. Give them a reason to come back to find new content.

The point is, keep it moving. The true bottom line: if you're going to market and market right, do it! Keep doing it for the long-term success. BUT if you're not going to do it right, don't do it all. Why? Because lack of persistence has the opposite effect: people will think you've closed shop. So once you start doing marketing on a consistent basis, stick with it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Think BIG and Grow Your Business BIG!

I preach to clients about building their marketing platforms. I say this all the time, "I walk my own talk." Nothing annoys anyone more than "do as I say not as I do." How am I supposed to convince a client (especially as a business owner) to market and promote their companies or books by building a strong marketing platform when I didn't bother to do it myself. It's like trying to sell food that tastes bad. You don't eat it so why should your prospective clients?

An investment in your marketing platform (and my platform consists of this blog, First Word newsletter, First Word radio, social media and website) costs a lot of money to get it done right. So my no. #1 advice: build it and build it right ... just like I did. Nothing yanks my proverbial chain more than professionals who don't do it professionally. If you're going to build your platform, rule #1: create a brand identity (use a professional marketing service) and then apply the brand. Applying the brand doesn't mean taking your homemade (or maybe even professionally made) logo and slapping it all over the place, including in your social media profile picture box. Nothing drives me more insane than talking to a logo in lieu of an image of an actual person.

Once you've created your brand look and feel, hire aforementioned marketing agency to design and create your platform, including your blog. Your marketing look and feel should always be consistent. But here is what I hear and see (typically small businesspeople) do: buy a $5.95 cookie cutter website template (you know the one that everyone else can buy) and push a bunch of homemade graphics around. Rule #2: if you don't do it by trade don't do it. Graphic art is a profession that requires education and training. It's like that cliché: don't try this at home. No. #2 advice: Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Same goes for content creation. Yes, most of us can to some degree write and write pretty good. Yet there are different types of writing: creative, business AND marketing content writing. Knowing what kind of content to create and how to create it falls under tip #2 which is the same as advice no. #2: Just because you can write doesn't mean you should write your own content.

Now a few of my readers might be saying, "Hey, she sells marketing services to clients. She has something to gain by telling me this information." Yes, my reading friends, I do gain clients because of one simple fact: they can't do it themselves and they want to look professional. The key message: look professional. Your image in this virtual world can suggest one of two concepts: I look small in a world where it is easy to look BIG ... or ... I look BIG in a world where it is easy to look big, but I'm really a super smart small business owner.

Do you want to look BIG in the BIG World? or Do you want to look small in a BIG world? We can help you look BIG! Think BIG and grow BIG! For more information, go to www.3LPublishing.com and look under our menu on Marketing and PR services, send an email to info@3LPublishing, or call 916-300-8012.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Body in the Trunk: Sample Chapter 1

Here is an excerpt from my forthcoming book due out in Spring titled Body in the Trunk. This paranormal romance is about a true crime writer and gifted psychic who teams up with a police detective to unravel the mystery surrounding the discovering of a body in the trunk of a Camry. 


Chapter 1

I placed her body in the trunk of a silver Toyota Camry.
I gazed down at her with my hand still holding the trunk lid. Her dark eyes were glassy now and stared up at me, lifeless, dead and somehow accusing. I took in the measure of her and observed her tan leather, trim-cut jacket; white knit shirt and faded jeans. Her form was bent out of shape and her thick, dark hair mussed with just a hint of dark smeared blood from a single wound that had oozed and created a tangled mess in her long hair.
“Dead,” I thought numbly as I closed the trunk.

***
One year earlier …

It was a sunny fall afternoon. The sun shone in through the sliding glass door and woke me up. My blue eyes fluttered opened, and I looked out the slider toward the pool area where our white standard poodle Maisy slept curled up in her fleece bed. Brown, crisp fall leaves had blown up on the porch and piled around her dog bed. I was alone as my husband Paul had taken the kids to school already. We switched mornings, and this morning I got to sleep in, which I enjoyed. He was always a prick about it, though. Said it wasn’t his job and had once told me he was just going to stop doing it. I was perplexed and wondered, “How do you just decide to stop taking your kids to school?” Well, that was Paul anyway – total jerk. 
As was typical, I got up and started to make the bed. The cream comforter had beautiful brown and blue leaves swirling over it. I took pride in my bed. I loved to create a gorgeous bed space, with matching everything and pillows galore. Pillows that Paul also pitched a bitch about and asked in his irritated voice, “Why so many pillows? We don’t sleep on them. Get rid of them.” 
Well eventually it didn’t matter because Paul’s sciatica and horrendous snoring made him sleep alone in the spare bedroom next to our second daughter Lulu’s room.
Lulu naturally complained, “Daddy snores really loud,” and then she would giggle.
Lulu was a brilliant, happy six-year-old with curly blond hair and bright blue eyes. As I thought of Lulu’s sweet giggles, I sneered at the thought of the snoring. We had been married 15 years. I swept my hand across the comforter and stopped for a moment. Our anniversary had just passed. We had taken a trip to South Lake Tahoe so Paul could gamble and play poker. I didn’t like card games, and I hated the smoky smell of the casinos. I had suggested we take our anniversary trip to Greece.
“Greece?” he asked. “Mia, we don’t have that kind of money.”
Money or lack thereof was his go-to answer for everything. First, we were wealthy – in fact, most people would say rich. We lived in a modest two-story adobe-style home but on the nice side of town on a two-acre lot. I owned a multimedia and marketing company, and Paul owned a successful software consulting group. Not to mention, I had five Fortune 500 clients in which I was the brain behind their branding campaigns. Rumors were even flying that one of my clients might go public, and I owned a chunk of stock that would make me wealthy to the tune of millions – that is, if they did went public and hit it big, which was a question at this point. They had paid the stocks to me when their cash flow was low, and they wanted to give me an incentive. I remember the marketing director comment how they were lazy with their stock-option programs and often used them from new subsidiaries that they didn’t have much confidence in. It was a risky way to get paid, but I went for it anyway. It was like playing professional Lotto.
We did pretty much what we liked to do, and this included traveling whenever I wanted to go somewhere, but I went alone if it was a place I really wanted to visit and Paul scoffed about. Paul’s complaints were usually what I felt was prejudice. “I don’t like French people,” he said when I wanted to go to France. Now the subject of Greece was at hand.
“We could work it out,” I replied as I stood at the kitchen sink rinsing dishes and not looking at him.
I didn’t like to look at him anymore. He looked angry, and age was not kind to him. He was two years older than me, but he looked 50 instead of 42. He had gained weight, and the years spent water skiing without sunscreen made his tan face look leathery. He loved to tan when so many experts suggested lack of sunscreen was unwise. He ignored them in favor of sunbathing on his friend’s motorboat in Folsom Lake.
“Ah come on honey,” he said as he stood in the doorway, arms folded. “You know work has been slow.”
No, I didn’t know if work had been slow. He never specifically told me about the books or the income for that matter. He was the owner of a software consulting company. In the early days, he developed websites and software systems, and he was smart enough during the IT bubble in 2000 to get out before it burst with a tidy sum of cash squirreled away. He had a tall, black safe in the garage loaded with cash hidden from the IRS and gold and silver coins along with stocks and bonds. We never talked about money much. He had separate bank accounts. I also kept separate accounts, too.
“Well, what then?” I tersely asked and felt agitated.
“Let’s go to south shore, gamble, drink, have some fun?” he suggested.
“I don’t gamble or drink, you know that,” I replied and stopped what I was doing to look at him.
“Oh come on! It will be fun,” he urged and came a little closer.
I stared at him. I knew better than to argue. He would force the idea no matter what I said. I slowly nodded.
His face brightened, and he unfolded his arms.
“Great! Make reservations.”
“Hmm okay … but where?” I asked.
He walked over to the edge of the brown granite counter and grabbed a red apple from a round crystal bowl.
He crunched and talked with his mouthful, “Figure it out.”
He went to kiss me with his juicy mouth, and I turned my lips away so he caught my cheek. As soon as he left out the backdoor, I wiped the juice off my cheek with my long sleeve on my burgundy t-shirt. I looked down at the reflection of my face in the dishwater. I hated the thin line that had formed between my light eyebrows. What was the face? A look of what? Numb disappointment – that is what I felt. Did I look angry? Sad? I hated that line.
I momentarily thought about Botox. My best girlfriend Erica would be miffed if I told her I wanted to Botox my brow and erase ugly fine lines. She was an organic enthusiasts who only bought those pricey organic produce items and bathed in cruelty-free shampoo, and she wore woolens and empire-waist dresses with Birkenstocks. Her face, though still beautiful, had blond hair on her upper lip and chin – and she refused to wax or laser it off. I couldn’t imagine she would be supportive of Botox. I shrugged the thought away and figured we didn’t apparently have money to squander on cosmetic enhancements – at least according to Paul we didn’t, and I thought this for about a week until …
Paul came home early one afternoon. He was just so excited and flushed when he rushed into my office. I was annoyed when he came and bothered me while I worked. He completely disregarded that my business was just as real as his own. I didn’t interrupt his workdays. Besides if I dared, he would yell at me about respect and business.
I was on the phone with a client.
“Honey!” he shouted as he burst into my office. “Come …”
I put my hand over the phone and said, “I’m on the phone.”
“Hang up!” he demanded.
I rolled my eyes in frustration and said into the phone, “Grace, can I call you right back?” I hung up and looked up at him, “What?”
He grabbed my arm and pulled me up and out of my black leather office chair. He dragged me down the hallway, out the front door, and right to the expansive driveway where before me I saw it – a brand new, royal blue and white motorboat.
“It’s mine!” he gleefully shouted as he pulled his lumbering body up into it. “Isn’t it sexy. We can ski all summer.”
I was shocked and said, “I thought we had no money.”
He brushed the thought away with his hand, “We’re fine! We’ll take it on our anniversary trip to Tahoe. Gamble and ski – it will be really great.”
As he said this, he ran his hand lovingly across the surface of the side like he was petting Maisie, our dog. He hardly noticed when I turned and headed inside to call Grace back. He was now enraptured with the cream-colored leather seats.
As I fluffed the pillows on the bed and placed the last dusty-blue one in the center, I stood back.
“Perfect,” I said aloud and smiled.
I thought some more about Paul. What did I feel toward him? Blank, nothingness is what I felt. Was this mature, 15-year love? Why didn’t I feel anything about him? Shouldn’t I love him with all my heart? Why didn’t I feel that flicker of passion or even gentle mature love? Was this what love became after a 17-year relationship?
We had dated for two years while I finished my degree before we got married. He courted me sweetly and brought me red roses, wild flowers, and little gifts like a thin silver bracelet with a heart on it. One time, he brought me his aunt’s chicken casserole after I had completed semester finals. He was worried I was stressed from studying. He wanted me to eat – I was too thin and tired-looking for a 21-year old.
As he walked into my one-bedroom apartment, he set a glass tray down on the end of the kitchen counter. I looked from him – all rugged, dark-brown hair, bright light-blue eyes, and a stocky but muscular frame – to the casserole.
“What’s this?” I asked and grinned at him.
“Dinner,” he replied. “My Aunt Susie made me bring the leftovers. I told her you were stressed about finals and had lost weight.”
He went to the cabinet to get plates. I watched and lifted the see-through plastic wrap to smell the rosemary wafting off the chicken. It smelled amazing. I then watched Paul happily take a spatula, cut out a square, lift it onto the plate, and hand it to me. He then grabbed and stuck a fork into the top. He looked infinitely pleased with himself. I just smiled, looked at him, and set the plate down. As I leveled my eyes at him, I looked up and moved to my tiptoes since he was six-feet tall and I was 5’ 8” and started to slowly kiss him. First a lick on his lips to gently pry them open, and then a full on kiss. He wrapped his arms completely around my small waist, and he pulled me toward the bedroom.
As I came out of my memory, I stared at the bed – the bed that we hadn’t made love in over a year because of Paul’s sciatic and snoring problems. He used to push to have sex all the time, but on our honeymoon it uncomfortably shifted. He was always assertive sexually with me, and he would pursue making love. From the honeymoon on, it changed. He quit being the aggressor, and our wedding night he was too tired and refused to properly consummate the marriage. 
“Honey, honey, get off me,” he said as I had just crawled on top of him in my beautiful, sheer-white nightgown Erica had given me for our wedding night. It had organdy and lace on the bodice and a sheer, see-through robe that fit over the top. “I’m too full of rubber chicken and cake,” he groaned. “You know I don’t like to fuck on a full stomach.”
“Fuck?” I thought to myself. Were we “fucking” on our wedding night or making love? I thought that making love should apply to your new wife. I rolled to the side and onto my back so I faced the ceiling.
“So, we’re not going to make love on our wedding night?” I asked incredulously.
“Go to sleep,” he said as he began to snore – he always snored as fast as he closed his eyes.
I stared at the ceiling.
“Shit!” I thought. “What the hell did I just do?”

Monday, January 20, 2014

Facebook Privacy Settings

Many Facebook users just go online and set up their personal pages. Most of the time, the average user doesn't give much thought to privacy in general. I thought I would educate social media users about a few privacy issues and some cautionary thoughts.

Vital Statistics--yes, Facebook asks for your birthday with the intent to share that information and let people know when to regale you with happy-birthday wishes. Here is the rub -- identity theft. Thieves can slowly gather enough of your vital information to pull together enough data to steal your identity. What you can do is alter your birthday enough so that they can't get a hold of it or don't provide the data at all. The sniff, sniff downside is no birthday wishes on your special event. You might put the actual date wrong and get Happy Un-Birthday wishes if you need to feed your need for acknowledgement.

Privacy Settings--you can lock down certain pieces of information two ways. When you set the About information, use the pull-down menu to "lock" or make "public" information about, for example, your relationship status. You can also go to the right-hand corner and pull down the general Privacy settings. Some little known information: you can make your Wall viewable only to the "public" or "friends" or just yourself. What most people don't know is that if you make your wall viewable only to friends, your actual connections can see all of your pictures and the public can only see up the date you made it exclusive to friends. Current posts and pictures are no longer viewable to the public. The public will only see your updated banner picture and profile pictures. If you make your wall "public" then everyone can see all current pictures and posts, but they cannot like or comment on anything.

The difference between "un-friending" and "blocking"--if you decide someone is getting on your nerves or doing something you don't like, you can un-friend or block. What is the difference? If you un-friend they can still see your Wall, and it depends on your privacy settings what they will be able to see on your wall. Remember, public allows everyone to see everything and not comment; friends only allows people to see everything up the point that you changed your settings. Blocking though is the ultimate you-can't-see-or-find-me. When you block someone even if that person tries to search for your page they will not be able to find you or the page. It will be as if you are not on Facebook at all. I consider blocking the ultimate "slap-down" for someone who is somehow bothering you. I personally think that "un-friending" is enough. They can't comment or see any new photos. Blocking (to me) is an extreme action to erase that person from your purview.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Are You Going to Ride with Your Hands in the Air or Screaming?

Recent life chats with friends have brought up the roller coaster theme. One of my friends asked me, "Are you ever going to get off the ride, because at some point you might want to do that." Another friend who is less skeptical of roller coaster rides talked about it differently. I liked her reflections on life's roller coaster ride.

She said, "Would you rather take the ride with your hands in the air and a smile on your face? Or would you rather scream all the way through it?"

Love that question. I told her once about roller coasters, "I used to be afraid of them. And then one day I thought, "Well, hell nobody really ever dies on the ride so go with it."

Life is full of ups and downs as I'm sure you've now picked up on the metaphor. I'm exploring my feelings about a long-time relationship I've had where there have been many extraordinary highs and some definite lows. I'll be honest, I've spent most of the ride screaming ;). But what my friend offered about it is true. I can experience it screaming and living in fear or I can embrace it and put my hands in the air. Well, since screaming is causing a whole lot of heartburn and angst, I think it's time to put my hands in the air and just go with it.

If you know the goal. If you know where you're trying to go then it's time to just put up your hands. The real poetry is in going with it. See where the ride takes you. But like my other friend said, it's actually not about trying to get off the ride as quickly as possible. The truth is that most things in life go up and then they go down. But at the core you have to know what it is that you want. If you know what you want then take the ride and let it continue. Truth is, most things in life go up and then they go down -- and the beauty of it, you can't know the highs from the lows unless you've experienced both.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Three Ways Authors Can Market their Own Books

You can do some marketing and promotion for your book without spending a fortune. Here are three tips for promoting your book and building your marketing platform.

Tip #1 Get the Maximum Mileage out of FREE Social Media
I know time is money, right? Are you using social media to the fullest? If you're not on social media, you should get it moving. Social media doesn't cost money just time and effort. Have fun with it. Create a fan or personal page. Go on once in the morning and post and once in the evening and post. Make sure you're consistent and do it. Post links related to your book (e.g., book reviews and interviews) and keep building your community. The more exposure your book gets the more people will "follow" or connect with you, and the more people connect with you the more exposure for your promotional efforts. But with the price tag of free is simply the best and most economical way to promote your book.

Tip #2 Start blogging and tie it to social media
Use another FREE service like this one (Blogger). Have a graphic designer produce a banner or heading for it, and then use it to create your look and feel. Graphic design fees and your time is all this costs. Your time will be spent blogging daily. Yes, daily! Blogs that are not regularly updated look abandoned. Make sure you blog at least once a day and create a theme to your blog. Mine is business, marketing, publishing, storytelling, and inspirational ideas for better living. You will find that if you develop themes, ideas will come to you. For books, your themes should be based on the ideas or concepts from the books. If your book is a romance, for example, create a blog that deals in issues of personal relationships. Make sure your blog posts to social media to get maximum exposure and pull in an audience.

Tip #3 Start a newsletter and use a service like Constant Contact for distribution
A newsletter over time when consistently arriving in people's in-boxes will produce results. Whether it's more book sales or overall interest in your career and what you're doing, it always works. Write a weekly newsletter and like your blog, be consistent. Don't start, stop, start ... you can't build readership that way. Do it every week.

Tip #4 Networking
Tip #4 answers tip #3's inherent question: how do I build a mailing list for my newsletter. Go out and network and build a mailing list using people's cards. Always ask permission of your subscribers or you'll get Spam Alerts. Be respectful, ask and most people will say yes or simply say, "Can I add you to my newsletter." And make sure you use an easy "unsubscribe" button.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sometimes You Just got to Take the Risk!

When I was younger I wanted security and family. I wanted a good, steady career path. I wanted to find a slow, gradual ascent toward my dreams. Then I hit pesky mid-life. I achieved many, many goals. Yet I found I had many more things to accomplish. In my professional life, I realized I wasn't enjoying the career I wanted. In my personal life, my relationship was lopsided and unsatisfying. Mid-life became not a crisis but a time to make some scary, but important decisions. Was I going to look back at my life with regret? Who wants to regret anything? And why not live the fullest possible life?

I never considered myself a risk-taker, but in reflecting on the last several years I realized I am definitely a risk-taker. I started my own company on a shoestring budget, and I have succeeded and stayed in business even during this protracted Great Recession. I also met the man of my dreams. Instead of staying in the status quo and accepting my lopsided and unsatisfying marriage, I decided that I wanted the big one -- true love. The road toward true love was paved with major obstacles and barriers. As I moved past these barriers, it soon began to clear a path. That journey is still unfolding; but each day passes and brings me closer to the realization of being with my heart's desire.

Is it worth the risks? Some days I think, "I'm tired. I want to go back to corporate. I'm scared. I don't want to get my heart potentially broken."Yet other days I wake up and I think, "Wow! I live life my way. I am in love with this extraordinary man who moves me. How lucky am I?"

If I had stayed with the status quo I would get to say, "Wow!" I would continue to have my status quo days. A few good days sprinkled in with a lot of ho-hum, "Is this all there is?" It is a beautiful thing to get to say, "Wow!" Let me say to those of you who stare out windows and look at the leap vs. make the leap, it's not as scary as you think. If you believe in something. If you're passionate about it. If you want it with all your great, big, beautiful being, don't be afraid to take the risk. Risk can give you an amazing billion-dollar payoff. Status quo promise only one thing -- more of the same status quo. If you're satisfied with the status quo, that's okay too. But if you're not -- go for it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Things I find hard not to do

I can't think of anything meaningful to share this morning, so I'll just amuse and entertain you.

Here is a list of things I find hard not to do...

Touch my face: are you smiling. You know they say to avoid spreading germs try not to touch your face. Don't rub your eyes if you're on an airplane (for example) to avoid spreading germs. Of course, the minute I think, "Don't touch it," I just can't seem to stop myself. I feel an itch. Oh, it's my nose. My eye is bothering me ... and on and on it goes.

Avoid being the first to text my man. I said in the last blog not to be the chaser. Sometimes though the urge to hit the text first just can't be quelled. I am pretty good, though. I would say out of seven days, I usually score about five out of seven ... well maybe more like four out of seven ... no, five ... LOL. Depends on the week. Girls keep him on his toes. Make and try not to break the first-text rule. Remember what I said, "Guys like to chase." And it's a simple, but great little rule to follow. Now this doesn't preclude emergencies and necessities so don't be neurotic about it either ... see four (I mean five) out of seven ;).

Touch when I'm told not to touch. I am a super affectionate person. I am a big-time toucher, too. Well, some people don't like PDA. My man doesn't like it. He lets me, but he is uncomfortable with it. So, I really try to keep the touching on the down low. But the minute I'm told not to touch so much, well .... remember the list's name: things I find hard not to do.

Correct other people's grammar. Oh, I'm giving you a pre-emptive strike. I am an editor by trade. I sometimes can't help it. When people misuse the English language ... argh! I do everything humanly possible not to turn into their 8th-grade grammar teacher. My ex-husband was the biggest offender. Sometimes it got to me so much I just couldn't stop myself. My poor ex-boyfriend misused irregardless and your vs. you're like he ate lunch. I do have to say I won that battle when toward the end of our relationship he stopped doing it. We're still friends so I'm sure I can keep him in-check.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Advice from a Single Gal, Part II

Continuing my little advice column (from a woman's perspective after having read about from a man's perspective). I want to continue to provide insight I have learned from reading, experience and "hands-on experience." I have never had trouble getting men to commit to a serious relationship, which has always begged the question of what I do that other women don't do. After reading and trying different approaches I noticed certain results that work and other results that don't work ... so here we go on some new tips (remember: I will be creating a Romance blog in the near future).

The chase is on the wrong foot. I know the "rules" and some women just eschew the rules. These are the same women who don't get their guys. So something is to be said about the rules. So I have a friend whose ex-lover does the pursuit. I wanted to grab this gal and tell her the one thing every girl's mama should tell her: don't chase the guy! If your man has broken up with you realize a commitment to chase him to the Earth's end will do one clear thing: alienate him. From what I know from experience (again experience being the key), the cave man in all men still has not evolved (for the most part) to the point where guys want their women to lob them over the head with the club. Bringing your guy nonstop gifts, baking and cooking for him, dropping in on him, and setting situations up where you can see him -- no, no and double-no. Rules girls, rules! Follow the rules. Whether you have met a new man or your relationship has ended, restrain yourself. Christian Carter (the male perspective relationship expert) constantly reinforces that when a relationship ends, women make these common mistakes -- they desperately try to "win" their guy back. They exhaust themselves in the continuous "giving" to "get" him back. They focus on the problems. They endlessly discuss the relationship. And they chase, chase, chase! They build their case as to why be back. And the desperation becomes a foul stench.

Stop the chase and be the goddess again. The old cliché: if you love something set it free and if it's meant to be it will come back to you almost always applies. If the guy stops texting and calling you, let it be. If he extends the olive branch and reaches out be receptive, but most importantly don't take it as an opportunity to 1. rehash your problems or 2. persuade him to come back. Use the olive branch and the reconnection to become his goddess again and spark the attraction. If he was into you once, he can be into you again. But begging and cajoling won't do anything but reinforce why he left you in the first place. Take the opportunity to remind him what he "liked" about you.

Words of understanding: Ladies I've been there. I know it's hard to sit back and wait. It's hard and it's scary. You think maybe he won't call. Maybe he won't text. Maybe I've lost him forever. And harsh reality is maybe you have lost him. But making the mistakes I just described won't get him back for you. Yes, it's going to be a challenge to be patient; but know one important thing: If the guy really loves you and just needs space and perspective, give it to him. But truth is: if the guy doesn't come back then it's hard and it hurts, but sometimes you just have to accept it with grace. Move on and get on.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Social Media Marketing Tips

I use social media (mostly Facebook) to promote my business (3L Publishing, www.3LPublishing.com) every day. I have been asked about way to promote books (and businesses) using social media. I am honestly good at some of the tips I'm going to give you and some others not so much. The following are my tips to use effectively use social media to market and promote either your book or business (it works the same):

Marketing Tools Connected to Your Social Media: If you have a website, newsletter, blog or Blogtalk Radio show, make sure the social media icons are connected to them. Every e-marketing tool you have should connect to your social media. I call this "interconnected and leveraged" marketing. Each marketing piece ties to social media, and each part drives traffic to the other. Think of it like a circular current or round-about with entrances to invite more traffic. This interconnection of tools invites interest and generates an audience for everything you're doing.

Profile Pictures: I have some very specific ideas about profile pictures vs. wall backgrounds. People like to connect to people ... not places. So I recommend you keep your profile picture a person not a place and your wall background a place or idea or concept. My personal pet peeve is talking to a social media "place" vs. person. I just don't know who I am sharing with. I don't like it. And you're less likely to form those important bonds with "places" and build relationships. Make your wall background the marketing device (use collateral and images for its background if you like).

Community: one word here: participation. Get out on the News Feed and participate and comment. I fall short in this respect. I am sometimes more active than other times. People who are active in their social media communities raise visibility. Raised visibility increases interest and increased interest generate sales (e.g., book sales). I know one author who is aggressive in her community, and she's enjoyed some great opening book sales. You can't focus solely on your wall activities. Get out of your little social media world and join the greater world at large.

Consistency: don't be absent. You have to designate specific time to actively participate in social media. I try and go online twice a day: morning and evening. Warning: don't get sucked into either. Limit your time. Try 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. You don't want to get stuck in what I call the "social media vortex" and never get out. You can waste too much time when you need to work. I get asked all of the time how I do everything. The answer: limits. Limits are like moderation. Everything within limits works.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Marketing Content for Success

I blog almost daily. I don't blog on Sundays (my fingers day of rest). I use Blogger, which has analytics to measure traffic to the site. The "Stats" show which articles are viewed, and the numbers. The average page views per day for this blog are about 50-75. I am always looking for ways to increase readership. Labels or keywords are what pull traffic to the blog. If you blog, pay attention to what "labels" work for your readership to increase.

Let me digress. Does your blog have analytics? If not, you should either attach that feature or find a new blog system that provides it. Blogging without measurement of readership is like riding your bike blind: you don't know where you're going and you can crash and burn. What is the point of just slapping up random content that no one reads? I know some bloggers don't care and slap it there anyway. But if you blog for your business you should care. Education-based marketing, which is what good blogs for business should accomplish, provides expertise, knowledge and insight for readers. Pay attention to what your readers want to read and hone in on that subject matter.

Now I have found two trains of thought:

General interest requires broad interest material: for example I post movie reviews to attract general readership. Within that general readership I hope to attract a segment that might be interested in my services. The overall general readers might also tell others (other writers or business people) about my company. So general interest can work twofold: to attract a specific market segment and increase overall visibility for your company and services, which results in word-of-mouth marketing.

Target or niche marketing: more specific material aimed at my market niche attracts specific readers (readers like authors, writers, editors, business people who need marketing and PR). Education-marketing aimed at my specific target market attracts the exact reader I need to reach to increase visibility for my business 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com). Now one caveat: don't expect work to come directly from your blog. People or readers generally use things like blogs to check out your company. A blog is a part of a "process" of what we'll call vetting the company. While the blog may influence a decision, it typically is not the sole reason why a prospect choses your company.

My company provides blog content for individuals and businesses. If you would like to hire us to provide blog services, send an email to info@3LPublishing.com or call 916-300-8012.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Write from Experience

I remember listening to Alice Walker, author of iconic books such as The Color Purple, speak at UC Davis. I was about 20-years old. She talked about life and experience. One thing she said was that she didn't think writers had anything to really say until their 40's. I was 20 -- and this was discouraging. At the time I remember defiantly thinking I had plenty to say. Well years later, I think I'm inclined to agree. I really didn't have any life experience to draw on. I could imagine the feelings and the experiences all right, but did I understand the "heart" of the experience? No. I had no resources to draw perspective.

Fast forward to my 40's, and I've had plenty to say and much experience to understand. In my new book Body in the Trunk, the story revolves around a paranormal romance and duplicity. Having a much broader experience with different kinds of love helped create the layers of emotion in the story. It enabled me to give the character's reactions authenticity. It didn't matter if I had actual experience with the situations as it mattered that I had a viewpoint to offer. Knowledge of appropriate behavior and probable responses.

I'm not suggesting that young writers can't be exceptionally talented and offer the same kind of knowledge. I certainly had plenty to offer when I was a young writer. What I'm saying is that experience and wisdom help give realism to your stories. A pool of knowledge helps guide the writing. It's also helpful if you've gone through the actual situation to draw from real-life experience. Again, it's about authenticity. Your work is more likely to have an authentic quality when you know exactly what you're talking about.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Advice from a Single Gal

So I've signed up for those relationship advice newsletters. You know the ones -- Christian Carter and the like. He gives advice from the man's perspective for women, which I think is valuable given that a woman giving women advice about how men think probably doesn't work. I'll tell you before I get into my little "advice" (I use that word loosely) column that my only experience is my own. I've read all of the books over the years among them the famous Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus; I've sat in the therapist's chair; I've done all of it. Here is the thing: I don't have trouble getting men to commit to me. I've never really had that problem per se. My problems go more in line with getting them and being happy with them. Getting what I want and need from my man without driving him crazy -- that would be my issue. So, what I'm going to say about "attraction" and commitment is from experience and the ability to attract men (probably too many choices).

Attraction and Confidence: yes, it's not about just being attractive. Here is what I'm consistently told. The men who adore me love my confidence. Of course self-confidence cannot be taught, and I am by no means perfect here. Oh, I can run a room for sure. When my heart gets put on the line I can wobble. Men love a confident woman. Ask them. Smart, confident, attractive, many of them will admit this is on the top 10 list. Confidence isn't just a projection either. Confidence is an inner feeling that you know who you are and what you bring to the table. Confidence is "knowingness" and when it comes to men it means confidence in them. Confidence that your man will come through and not negative thinking (he won't come through). Confidence in his feelings for you. If he says he loves you, why are you doubting it? If he says it, believe it, trust it, and go with it. And one thing about trusting what he says, why are you doubting it? Adopt the rule that unless he shows you otherwise, trust what he says.

Faith and Happiness: I recently had my man ask for my faith in him -- that made me take pause and think about it. Men need to know their women believe in them. If you're constantly doubting your man the real message is you don't believe in him. The sheer power of belief in your man will uplift and empower him to feel good about himself and YOU. Don't be afraid to be his cheerleader. Men don't want your criticism. They want your belief and faith in them. Give your man the power of your belief, and you'll be impressed with how that ripples throughout your relationship.

What he's not doing vs. what he is doing: Don't spend all of your time fussing over what your man hasn't done for you. Again your drawing a lot of energy toward the negative. In the book The Five Love Languages, the author encourages women to validate what their men are doing for them if they want to get more acts of service (meaning more help in the kitchen). If all you ever do is tell your man a list of what he hasn't done for you all the energy pulls toward the negative and makes him resent you. Praise the good and the great. Keep the focus on the right not the wrong. You will be pleased to see more right starts to appear.

I'm going to stop here. I will periodically post these helpful ideas. I plan to start a Romance Blog to support our line of romance books. Relationship advice will be featured.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Common Mistakes Writers Makes

I edit and read books every day. I know some people are thinking, "You get to read books for a living? Cool! Where do I get that job?" (BTW, if you want that job get a degree in English and find a job as a book editor). I once had a friend of mine say, "I never see you read." Well, friends I read every day all day. So when I'm on vacation don't expect to see my nose in a book. Anyway I digress ... so in reading every day and analyzing writing I see common mistakes. I thought I would share:

Redundancy: how many times in a sentence or paragraph can you use the same word twice? The answer is never. It reads and sounds better if you use the same word once. I always suggest that you pull up the Thesaurus if you're having trouble coming up with new words. My joke, "A Thesaurus is a writers best friend." Once in a while it's understandable when you have to use a certain word more than once, but the general rule is to avoid it.

Its vs. It's: this mistake is subtle. My trick is this: it is (insert that in the questionable sentence and see if it works) = it's. Otherwise it's its ... just use my trick. It's solves the entire its conundrum.

Hyphen hell: well, I have no rule to help. Some words are hyphenated (a lot of idioms) and it's not easy to figure them out. I spend half my day looking up that question. Yesterday I wondered if "in sync" was hyphenated. I had to look it up -- and it was not hyphenated. Then you have other words like nonstop that seem like maybe they should be hyphenated (non-stop) and the answer is no. Adjectives that modify nouns are hyphenated: red-blue door. Modifiers are obvious and generally easy to spot. It's those darned idioms and other expressions like "face-to-face" that get me. The real rule goes like this: when it doubt look it up. The brilliance is knowing when you don't know. Ah, you say! Yes, you do have to have the expertise to know when you don't know or know what you don't know.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

More Comments on Social Media "Social" Scene

I am continually amused and entertained by the social media "social" contingent out there trolling for booty. I am constantly messaged and asked out. But here is what I find the most a. aggravating or b. weird.

Relationship status or invisible relationship status has a lot of meaning. First, relationship status is often hidden for reasons others may not understand (e.g., privacy and identity theft). In my case the fact that relationship status is missing is because (and get this one), I'm involved in a "private" relationship. I don't have it publicly showing for reasons that are private to that relationship. Not everyone wants to broadcast their personal lives. I don't feel it's necessary to post anything about it. Even when I was married I didn't feel the need to post anything about it. I am on social media primarily to market my business. If you're out "looking for Mrs. or Mr. Goodbar" why don't you pay attention to that person's wall posts. He or she will likely reveal a lot. It's quite evident from my Wall that it's mostly business. The main problem is that most social flirts aren't really paying attention. Hey! She's pretty. And I know I've said this hundreds of times: you're so beautiful or pretty are not good conversation starters.

Crickets for a reason. I have men constantly message me to hit on me. They either don't send anything more than the stupendous: you're so pretty, which what do you want me to say? Or they presume I'm okay to start messaging back and forth with strangers. Do you have any idea how many messages I get PER DAY from errant social flirts. I'll be blunt here. I don't have the time or inclination to start small talk with complete strangers. So complaints that all you hear are "crickets" from me, what do you expect? You want to actively participate on my Wall, please go ahead. You want to chat idly via messaging, forget about it. I'm a business woman. I'm working. And speaking of working ... it's 1:30 p.m. on a Wednesday ... what did you think I was doing? Just saying ... got to work.

Online social media etiquette. I really think there should be some social Miss Manners type tutorial for Facebook. Someone needs to espouse the proper social media etiquette. You know someone who attacks me for how I respond to comments on my own wall should really re-think it. I had a guy who complained I didn't hit "like" on comments about my profile picture as if I was somehow unappreciative of the compliments. I just laughed about that one. But the very idea that this guy used my Wall to complain and whine was just ridiculous. I'm telling you, social media etiquette anyone?