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 ...