Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Three Tips to Help Your Writing

When I work with writers I am reminded of things I've learned over the years that help improve my work. We had our monthly Writers Who Mean Business meeting last night, and I thought some great "reminders" came out of it to spark this blog.

The Book's Opening Line: did you know some places hold contests asking for the best opening line of a book? In the 3L Publishing catalog Scott D. Roberts' book Vengeance is Now has the best opening line of the catalog: You've never really lived until you seen the life leave another human being.Your opening line should be that alluring, unique, fascinating and intriguing. The idea is that it be provocative enough to get the reader engaged and wanting to find out more.

Paring down your writing: too many writers fall in love with their own words. The love affair often results in wordiness and too much exposition. A great exercise is to write 1,000 words and then cut 100 words and then 200 words. See how much easier your work becomes to read.

Run-on sentences: the best way to look for descriptions and sentences that are one beat too many is to look for conjunctions. Also read your sentence aloud. Did you have to take a breath or two? Run-on sentences make people have to rethink what you just said vs. seamlessly read your work. If you want to create a great pace, the use of run-on sentences will have the opposite effect and bog down your prose.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Why eBooks are Good for Business

Unless you're a publisher you might give the eBook revolution no more consideration than you do the iTunes revolution. It's happening, and you love your eBook reader -- it's compact, carries thousands of books in your purse or briefcase, and it's really fun to play with.

As a publisher, our focus is to shift and change with the business model. While "old-schoolers" continue to embrace their paper tomes, eBook readers are buying the electronic versions in droves. In the last six months, our company 3L Publishing has seen the most dramatic shift in interest when it comes to eBook sales vs. print. This change was long ago predicted to escalate by 2015, and so goes the trend. Our last top-selling book sold one print to nine eBooks. Whereas just last summer our top-selling book sold more like every 4 out of 5 eBooks.

The eBook revolution isn't going to slow. Diminishing floor space in Barnes and Noble, increasing restrictions in national distribution systems that hinder print sales for independent publishers, and a decrease in interest in reading print spells out one thing, publishers better keep up. Now don't forget the increasing costs in postage and shipping that often makes it ridiculous to send something at $5.50 standard mail that only nets $6.73 on Amazon. You can surmise economies of scale make a difference in quantities of books offsetting cost per book. But when your cost per book is $3.50 and your postage is $5.50, well it's called unworkable math.

What it boils down to is eBooks are challenging the physical costs of manufacturing books. Publishers have to consider these factors. Now add the ongoing costs of storage. And the shrinking margins nearly force publishers to move almost exclusivity toward eBook publishing. In fact, here at 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com) we don't advise authors to make large investments in print runs. We tell them to do slow, incremental print runs and see how sales shake out. Why make an upfront investment in a dying media?

So what's a publisher going to do? It would be like making rotary phones when everyone owns a Smart Phone. You either change with it and go out of business with it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

70 Percent of the Top Sellers Come from Medium- to Small-Sized Publishers

This figure impresses me. The first time I saw it on an Amazon report I was really astonished. We had just had two Amazon top sellers (in the book's respective categories) in 2014. It seems the small publishers have inched out the larger groups like Random House where their statistical "winnings" were at 16 percent, according to that same Amazon report.

In terms of market position and perception by the average author, the big publishers still retain their allure. My belief though is that new authors stand a much better chance at success by working with independent presses than the big houses. The barriers to the big publishers are numerous:
  • You have to have an agent
  • It takes time to get an agent
  • You have to write a book proposal and prove your platform
  • You have to have a platform
  • You have to have a platform to prove you have a following (audience)
  • Your agent has to build this case with a prospective publisher
  • A prospective publisher has to build its case to accept your manuscript
  • And if you've gotten this far maybe you'll be published
  • And then if you've gotten this far maybe you'll be published 18-24 months from that point
It's rare that traditional publishers accept new talent or authors. Unless you're some kind of "name" your statistical likelihood decreases. Now I'm not saying it's impossible. Anything is possible with the power of passion, persistence and a huge dash of belief. But the most common fallacy goes like this:

"I'm going to get an advance and write."

No, advances are rare and uncommon. The economy, the competitive nature of publishing, and a diluted marketplace full of many different avenues to publish make those benefits less available.  What most authors don't realize is that even if they get an advance, it's an advance against sales. So, no sales mean a check is being written in reverse -- no fun. Now please realize your royalty on average is between 8 to 12 percent. Doing the math on the average cost per book and that's not a lot of money for a whole lot of work.

And now you can see why many new authors turn to smaller presses to get their start. The eBook revolution has completely up-ended publishing and broadened it. It puts more control back in the author's hands. But fundamentally a book still needs to be well written, professionally edited, and professionally produced. The idea that "anyone" can write is only partially accurate. Yes, anyone can write who knows how to write. Does that make it good or even great? Does that make it something someone wants to buy and read?

Our company 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com) is designed to help new and emerging authors as well as business leaders and owners produce top-shelf books. When you've got the kinds of barriers we've just described, you need a publisher with an established reputation, foundation to provide success, and ability to do it right.

For more information, log onto our website at www.3LPublishing.com or send an email to info@3LPublishing.com.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Body in the Trunk: Chapter 11



Chapter 11

“Yo man, you played checkers with her?” groaned Leron when he heard his partner’s story from the evening before.
They were standing in the line to board the plane, a three-way stop to New York. The woman Gladys at the precinct who booked travel always chose the cheapest flights to save money. Phil thought how ridiculous since the time lost cost more money, but you couldn’t argue with a five-foot tall Asian grandma who ruled the travel budget with an iron gavel. And the verdict was always: three-stops, period. Delta was cheapest, and that carrier stopped in many hubs. Phil and Leron each held two black nylon gym bags and inched forward with the procession of passengers.
“Not checkers!” Phil groaned and added, “Chess.”
“Dude, you’re like some retard who plays chess with a hot chick! What the fuck is wrong with you, man? You’re supposed to bang her with that foot-long of yours,” he said and shook his. “Fuck!”
“We’re working together moron,” replied Phil who did consider how lame he sounded to a guy who got laid every night of the week.
“Tell that shit to your mama,” he replied. “Me, I’d be shoving my massive dick inside her hot pussy,” he said and gyrated his hips a bit. “She’d be begging for more. You, though, what a puss-ass!”
An older Hispanic gal in front of them turned and glared at Leron.
Phil shoved him on the shoulder and whispered, “Shut the fuck up! Grandma can hear you, man.”
Leron waved it off and then leaned forward, “Lo siento, abuela,” he nicely apologized in Spanish.
The older Hispanic woman smiled and stepped away.
“Look, see, you just apologize and shit. It’s all good,” he said and looked at his watch. “Dude, what time you say we arrive tonight?”
“Midnight,” replied Phil.
“Mother suck! It’s gonna be a long one,” complained Leron.
Phil stared at him and thought it would indeed be a long day and evening while Leron babbled about meaningless stuff all during the flight. Phil figured at least half the flight was sure to be about the latest position Evonne was trying for a prolonged orgasm. Phil did find some of the useless sex talk a little insightful. Perhaps he would try some of it out on Tess; she seemed like an adventurous type, but then again not until the end of the case and the book. He briefly rethought it and toyed with the idea of a tryst despite his better judgment.
Once they got on the plane and situated, Phil pulled out the case file. They were stuffed as usual in the very back of the plane in the last row, so no one behind them could see what he was looking at: the picture of the twisted-up body in the trunk. He reread the eyewitness reports and studied all the angles of the photo. Then he pulled the photo of Mia – really good-looking blonde woman who many men would describe as pretty, beautiful or even gorgeous. From all family accounts, though, the husband Paul was a real prick. Mia’s mother said he could be really thoughtful with children and family, but treated Mia like the family dog. He ordered her around, and even would grab her by the shoulders and place her in the kitchen where he wanted her to stand.
 No physical abuse was noted, but the emotional abuse sounded pretty crippling. The mother said he called her lazy, slob and made fun of her clothes. What was ironic was that from what he could see, Mia could hardly be described as those two things. One inspection of her tidy, well-organized closet had revealed a woman who wore couture and designer, high-class apparel, fine jewelry, and an amazing array of expensive high-heeled shoes, boots and loafers. Paul’s closet had suggested an uptight guy who had worn nothing but white polo shirts with his company software logo emblazoned on the chest and black pants. No casual clothes were for him just staid, boring uniforms. His clothes and shoes had been piled high in the closet, which had showed a lack of organization, and one might even suggest he was the slob not her. The truth had been that during all of Phil’s interviews with friends and family the universal consensus had asked why she was with him; she could have done much better.
As far as Evan went – no one in the family had known or had heard about him. While they had speculated about an affair, no one could confirm or deny it. It had turned out Mia had been secretive.  She told no one how she had felt about Paul or the abuse nor had she mentioned she had been in love with another man. In fact, everyone had said she had put a positive spin on everything. The only way anyone had known there was trouble was the amount of stress he had caused her when he had called and demanded she come home or do something for him. She had actually panicked and had taken care of it like some invisible force had pushed her to move fast.
So when she had asked for the divorce from the husband Paul, it had come as a shock to everyone but most importantly it had come as a surprise to Paul. He had immediately outmaneuvered her and had hid wealth and assets. At the time of her disappearance, he had pretty much left her near penniless and had been suing for full custody of their two girls, who now lived with her parents.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Body in the Trunk: Chapter 10



Chapter 10

            Phil let Tess in the front door of his small 1940’s sandbox-type house. It was a square with the front room, a kitchen behind it, a bathroom in the middle, and two side-by-side bedrooms in the back. He lived there with his Labrador he named Vanilla Ice that was now 12-years-old and slept in a dog bed shoved by the backdoor. The front room had a white-mantled fireplace that he used all winter long, with wood chips and splintered debris on a brown indoor-outdoor carpet that also had wood stacked on top of it. A well-worn brown leather loveseat sat across from a full-sized sofa pushed under the window. The place had a well-lived-in appearance, and magazines Outdoor, Travel and Leisure and Sports Illustrated sat on the coffee table.
            “You want a glass of wine?” he asked Tess who he observed was wearing a more low-key outfit – classic Levy blue jeans and a brighter lavender stretch T-shirt that clung to her (in Phil’s estimation) perfect breasts.
            “Kenwood Chardonnay?”
            Phil chuckled, “Like I have a wine list.”
            “Oh, um, do you have it, chardonnay?” Tess stumbled with her words and felt presumptuous.
            Phil nodded and headed through the doorway to the kitchen where Tess observed him open a cupboard, take out two large wine glasses, and go to the fridge. She glanced at the coffee table and magazines and rolled her eyes at the Sports Illustrated that was the classic swimsuit issue. She thought, “Typical,” but kept her thoughts to herself. Phil arrived back and handed her the glass of wine, which she briefly stuck her nose in to smell and then took a sip. She noted the fruity but also spicy scent. Then Phil went to the fireplace and got on one knee to light it.
            Tess grinned at him, took another sip of wine, and spoke, “You trying to seduce me?”
            This question elicited a hearty laugh, “If I was trying to do that, believe me, you would know.” He glanced at the embarrassed look on her face and continued, “No, I like a good fire, and my heater is one of those ancient floor furnaces. This place doesn’t heat up much.”
            Tess glanced out the window at the fog setting in. Fog always made her cold to the bone, and she hated it. She felt depressed with each gloomy day. They called that “Seasonal Affect Disorder,” which she thought was a politically correct way of saying, “I’m depressed in winter, especially on foggy days.”
She sat down on the loveseat and waited for Phil, who now had the fire roaring with a bright orange glow. He stoked the wood for a second and pushed the newspaper tighter under the logs. His attention then shifted toward her. He thought she looked rosy-cheeked and fresh with her strawberry blonde curls hanging loosely around her fair-skinned face. She was appealing, and he felt a twinge of lust, which had hit him often with her. He wasn’t quite prepared to seduce her, as she suggested, but the mere fact she mentioned it indicated it was on her mind, too.
            “I have a story,” he said to her and sat down on the black-speckled ratty carpet in front of the fire. He held his knee upright and his other leg bent for comfort. “You want to hear it?”
            Tess slid forward, “Yes.”
            “It’s about a successful CEO of a marketing company who somehow falls for this guy named Evan Garner, tries to divorce her husband, and ends up disappearing. You want to hear what I know?”
            “Evan was the love of her life.”
            Phil perked up and stared at her. “Your psychic guides tell you that?”
            “Oh yes, they told me that Tess didn’t kill that woman, and Evan was the love of her life. She would do anything for him.”

Mia got off the elevator and walked toward a slick glass-to-ceiling wall with two double-doors in the middle. She walked through the double-doors and noticed a sweet-looking brunette with no bangs and a long bob. Her hair was silky black and shiny in the track lights. Between two red-glossed lips, she smiled to expose pristine white teeth. She looked Puerto Rican or possibly Mexican, but Mia wasn’t sure.
“Are you Mia?” asked the attractive receptionist who looked close to 40.
“Yes,” Mia said quietly and looked around.
She held up one finger and with the other hand she hit a button and said, “Yes, she’s here,” she paused. “All right,” she said in a soft, almost sexy voice. “Evan will be right out. Please have a seat.”
The reception area had two box-shaped, cream-colored sofas with black frames, which Mia took a seat in the one closest to her. A rectangular-shaped coffee table sat in front of the sofas loaded with so many different kinds of magazines, from People to Architectural Digest, to the National Enquirer and In-style. The walls were also full of different kinds of artwork and illustrations presumably from some of the marketing campaigns done by Evan’s company.
Mia heard the familiar whisper again, “Evan,” it said. She looked around and calmed down – she had almost become accustomed to the haunting voices she kept hearing. Evan walked out at about the same time with his hand extended toward Mia. She got up to greet him when once more he grabbed her hand and flipped it over. The familiar pulse of energy flowed between them. “You’re truly beautiful,” a voice whispered almost imperceptibly in her mind. She blinked at him. He kissed the interior palm again. Mia squirmed, and glanced at the receptionist, who stared at the gesture with her mouth parted, but quickly looked down when she saw Mia notice.
Mia felt miserable about her building desire. On that same hand she could feel her wedding ring slide inward, which she adjusted with her fingers. As Evan led the way toward a big conference room, Mia began to sweat in discomfort. Her desire and embarrassment over the need for this man was getting to her. They walked into the conference room, and three other partners all of them blonde clones of each other stood up. They were triplets. Mia marveled at the three gorgeous men wearing the same-colored navy blue suits with a red, yellow and blue tie respectively around each neck. Mia couldn’t help but gawk, but the men were used to it.
“Mia, these are my older brothers, Tim, Ted and Tom … in that order,” he laughed.
They looked similar to Evan with the same blonde locks and blue-green eyes, and had Evan not been slightly taller, she might have thought him the fourth member of this tribe. She shook each man’s hand and then took a seat where a bottle of water had been politely left for her. She unscrewed the lid and poured the water in the round, short glass. After some minor small talk had been dispensed, Evan presented her with a thick contract.
“The bottom line, we want to be in ‘bed’ with you, so to speak,” Evan said with a slight grin on his face.
“I’ll have to have my attorney review it,” she said.
“Of course,” said Evan with a suave smile.
Mia’s eyes locked with his – and just then the receptionist walked in and looked at the two of them.
She smiled, “Mr. Dickson is on line one.”
“Thank you, Fern,” Evan responded and got up. He kept his eyes locked on Mia and said; “Don’t go anywhere I intend to take you to dinner to celebrate.”
“There’s nothing to celebrate yet,” retorted Mia.
Evan grinned, “There will be.”
            Mia sat back in her chair amazed at his confidence. The trio of brothers just stared at her. She wasn’t sure what to make of them.

Tess was riveted by the story and said, “They were triplets?”
            Phil took a swig of wine from his glass and replied, “Yes, they were partners in the company their father, a Scandinavian furniture designer started back in the 1980’s when the boys were 10 and 12 respectively.”
            “How did you find out about them?”
            “Erica, Mia’s best friend told me about Evan, and I made some calls. Want to know what else I found out?”
            “Evan and his brother Tim are both missing. My partner and I are going to fly out to talk to the two remaining brothers tomorrow.”
            “Can I come?” Tess asked.
            Phil frowned and shook his head, “No, it’s official police business.”
            “Unofficially then? Besides the brothers sound hot. I need to get laid,” she groaned and laughed.
            Phil eyed her for a moment, “When was the last time?” he boldly asked.
            “Too long,” she replied.
            Tess looked at Phil curiously, put the wine glass to her mouth, licked the fruity-almost-bitter taste from the rim, and grinned, “How long for you?”
            “Since my ex ripped my heart out.”
            “Ah, poor baby,” she playfully winked at him.
            She sized him up and wondered if he might move on her. Phil was in a stalemate and unflinchingly held the upper ground with no hint of desire toward her. He had a controlled nature and held his emotions in-check. She contemplated a seduction, but last time she did that move the guy had screwed her, got up, and left afterward.
            Breaking the uncomfortable silence, Phil said, “You play chess?”
            “Checkers,” she said.
            “Checkers? That’s for wimps!”
            He got up, grabbed the chessboard from the fireplace mantle that held it, and placed it on the coffee table in a bare place.
“Do I need to teach you?” he asked.
            “How about Skip-Bo?”
            “Skip … what? Come on I’ll teach you.”
            “But you’ll win,” she protested.
            “Do you need to win?”
            “Always,” she winked and decided to go along with the game.
            Phil set up the board. When he was done, he smiled at her and began to explain the “rules of engagement” as he called it. On the other hand, Tess found her eyes roaming to what appeared to be a sizable package he had hidden in his jeans. His slight bulge indicated he was somewhat aroused, which made her think maybe he would someday make a move on her, but apparently not tonight … not yet.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lighthouse

I am femme fatale
Goddess of the Light
Flame of night
When no one is looking
I sit on the rocks
Calling to my soul
Asking for the revelations
Praying for the regard
Waiting for the ship
Smiling ...

~ Michelle Gamble

Friday, April 10, 2015

Writing Sexy but Tasteful Fiction

One of my number one posts on this blog has to do with writing sexual tension. Sex sells, and let's just be honest. It has been cited that about 75 percent of Internet traffic is for sex-related websites. Now I don't believe in selling my soul to include erotic elements in books or 3L Publishing's books. But I will say I am not a prude either. I frankly don't have a problem with sexy fiction as long as it's not just for prurient, salacious or gratuitous purposes. My books California Girl Chronicles and now Body in the Trunk are very sexy.

What are my tips for writing sexy fiction that meets the above criteria?

Tip 1 -- Build sexual tension slowly

Your reader wants the same excitement as the characters: the thrill of the chase. Don't have your characters give it up too soon unless it's designed to make a plot point of some kind. The best sex scenes are built up and tension and anticipation established. Perhaps you also want to create a flaw in the character too that maybe he or she is promiscuous, but to make that point you don't need to describe every sex partner. You can simply make the point without the actual encounters, and that is what I mean about it build it up.

Tip 2 -- Tasteful descriptions are just as hot

You don't have to be so specific and tasteless so that no one except a Hustler reader would like it. Now I have had interesting comments before like if you're going to call a spade a spade, just go for it and don't be cute or coy with your writing. It's a matter of perspective. There are some words you just can't use or it goes too far. I'm not going to cite the words, but readers can also be offended. Pedestrian or street language though belongs in the dialogue -- and that is another topic.

Tip 3 -- Sex turns some readers off and some on

You can't win or lose on this one. If you're going to include sex of any kind someone is going to get turned off. I know a woman who says, "I don't like sex scenes." And the next thing I know she's staring at one or reading one ... glued to it. Other people are just downright "cool with it" and others specifically read particular books just for the sex. When I was a girl I remember the book Wifey and how we were all so eager to find out what it had in it. What was the great mystery about it? Years later I look at that book and laugh. Really? So sex scenes are actually relative to perspective.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book Publishing Services and Costs

What is a hybrid publisher? Our company 3L Publishing (www.3LPublishing.com) is a hybrid publisher. Hybrid (means combines both) publishing takes traditional publishing and crosses it with self-publishing.

What does this mean? You get everything a traditional publisher provides (editorial, graphics, and book distribution, which many of those services are not available to individuals ... for example, our printer who provides competitive pricing does not work with individuals) at higher royalties. Royalties range from 35 percent to 100 percent (you sell it yourself). Now compare that to a traditional publisher that provides 8 to 10 percent.

Why are the royalties higher? Because the author (much like a self-publisher) pays to have the book created. The payment is a one-time fee. Higher royalties enable the author to enjoy return on investment at a faster rate and become profitable AND be the one who enjoys the profit if the book becomes a best-seller.

What is the average cost to publish a book? Contrary to some belief that 3L Publishing might cost "big bucks," we are not expensive comparatively speaking. Depending on the size of the book and the writing needs, we are extremely economical without positioning ourselves as the least expensive.

Comparatively speaking, our average cost of an entire book with editorial, graphics, production and distribution ranges from $4,000 to $5,000 (and some projects are as low as $2,000). Ghost writing can increase because you're hiring someone to write your book for you, and that takes a lot of time. These are also professional services. It would be akin to hiring a marketing or PR agency, which those hourly rates cost upward of $125 to $200 AN HOUR. Public relations agencies charge a baseline or what is called a retainer. Many of the regional ones won't even look at a client without a $2,000 a month retainer.

What do you get for that money (because that sounds like a lot)? The only way to give clients perspective on why 3L Publishing is such a great value is to break it down.

How much would it cost to hire a professional editor? Average cost of editorial services per a competitive price comparison: $75 to $100 an hour. Most books require about 20 to 40 hours to fully edit and clean up. A 150-page book to edit and clean up ... at least 30 hours. So let's do the math (at the minimum):

30 x $75 = $2250

How much would it require to hire a professional graphic artist? Most artists charge about $75 an hour (for the good ones). The average design and layout time for the average book is 25 hours (includes copy corrections):

25 x $75 = $1875

Now add upload to the printer, e-book conversion costs ($300 to $500), and you're now looking at $4000 to $5000.

What don't you have in this mix, that 3L has built and provided?
  • Amazon account management
  • Bookstore distribution
  • eBook accounts to sell (Nook, Kindle, Apple)
  • Book fulfillment services
  • Printer relationships
  • Credibility with the media under the 3L brand name
  • Reputation
  • Distribution potential into foreign markets
 This is the low side of a price quote if you tried to do it yourself. When I put these kind of numbers on self-publishing and all of the work involved, many writers decide they do not want to do it on their own. They don't want to fill orders. And reality is they CANNOT get individual author accounts set up with places like Apple or involved with our printer (that serves major publishers like Random House). Bookstore distribution becomes nearly impossible. They do not have a Foreign Rights agents, which we do.

It's a big bite to chew. But 3L Publishing has invested 6 years in building that foundation. What are the bonuses of working with 3L Publishing:
  • We produce award-winners (Second Bloom, Vengeance is Now, In the Footsteps of Greatness)
  • We decide who we publish and do not publish just ANYTHING. We screen every single manuscript
  • We create excellence in every product regardless
  • We're an international company
  • Potential to become an Amazon top seller and go to no. #1 on Kindle and print
Now to distill myths:
  • We don't cost "bucks" comparatively speaking. Many other hybrid cost at least $10,000. Please shop to compare.
  • We don't publish EVERYONE
We are more than happy to discuss all of these aspects with anyone interested in writing and marketing (general marketing for companies is also provided by 3L). For more information, call 916-300-8012 or send an email to info@3LPublishing.com. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Body in the Trunk: Chapter 9



Chapter 9

            I got home from New York and my two girls Lulu and Giselle were in the family room. Lulu had her tall dollhouse out. She was on her knees involved in some conversation with her dinosaurs and her female doll, which I presumed was her doppelganger in doll world. Giselle sat in the breakfast-nook table. She worked on her Mac laptop. She had her headphones on and was doing something that looked like it wasn’t homework but some online game. When I walked in the kitchen, they both looked up and came running. When I hugged Giselle, the oldest who was almost 13, I noticed she was almost as tall as me. I smiled and kissed her cheek and then Lulu’s.
            “You got something for us, Mama?” asked Lulu with her bright enthusiasm that was always so contagious.
            “Yeah,” echoed Giselle.
            I smiled and reached into my bag and pulled out two crowns with sparkling pink jewels and bright fuchsia feathers.
            Lulu grabbed the crown and crowed, “Cool!”
She placed it squarely on her light-colored ash-blonde hair and raced back to her dollhouse.
            Giselle was nonplussed and rolled her eyes. “Aren’t I a little old?”
            I cupped her by her cheeks and pushed them together so her lips puckered, and I kissed them. Then I grinned and said, “You’re never too old to be a princess.”
            Giselle rolled her eyes again and shuffled back to the computer with the crown at her side and not on her head. I stood in the kitchen and thought about what I would make for dinner. I started thinking about the last time Paul said anything nice about my cooking. He didn’t like what I cooked. One time I made a lovely dinner of lemon chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli, and he sneered at the plate, went straight to the kitchen, and started cutting up vegetables for stir-fry. So much for pride in what I cooked or enjoyment for that matter.
Abuse, criticism and put-downs defined my life. My parents were very critical to the point of mean-spiritedness, and my father was cold and unemotional. He protected dogs and puppies more than he cared about me. I had grown up only to marry and repeat the pattern with my husband who was cold, insensitive, critical, self-absorbed and inattentive to my needs. We did what he wanted to do, and if he didn’t want to do it and I still wanted to do it, I did it alone. Many vacations were taken solo or with my kids and girlfriends. Now when he put me down I had grown numb and indifferent to it. My solo vacations became escapes from the mind-numbing relationship. A part of me would drift away and turn off when the litany of criticism infused our conversations. I didn’t initially realize that my escapes to weekend trips to the beach or Tahoe were really about true “escapes,” but recently something had woken up in me. Something that felt withered, dead and dried up now seemed to turn green, watered and stand tall. I had lost touch with my sexuality and need to even be kissed and held with tenderness. I had forgotten that I had any value or self-worth. I seemed so worthless to my family and husband – just something to evaluate and find the negative marks in the box that stood in front of the phrase “not good enough”.
Just as the answer to the why I felt different came to my head, I heard it in the word “Evan” as the song of it whispered through the air. I looked around, and down toward my purse where the mobile rang. I pulled the iPhone from my purse and it read “Evan Garner” on the screen. My heart jumped, and I found my hand shaking. I walked off toward the den that was off to the side of the family room to speak to him in private.
            “Hi,” I said quietly.
            “Well hello there,” he said cheerfully. “How are you?”
            “I just heard your name …”
            “What?”
            “Never mind,” I said and felt stupid for admitting such a thing.
            “I can’t stop thinking about you.”
            I was taken aback and replied, “What do you mean?”
            “When are you coming to New York? My partners want to meet you?”
            “I just got home.”
            “Well you text me a good time. They have put together a sweet deal. Plus, I want to see you again.”
            “You what?”
            “You’re confusing, really, you heard me. I want to see you … beautiful.”
            “I’m married,” I blurted.
            “Yes, you are.”
            “I’ve never cheated with anyone in my life.”
            “Yes, so you text me some dates. But don’t keep me waiting.”
            “Bye,” I said and felt a weight of guilt come over me.
            I walked out toward the patio, opened the slider, and sat down on the chaise lounge. The chilly wind blew cool air and kicked up the fall leaves into a swirl. I couldn’t stop thinking about Evan. My mind was consumed with thoughts of what it would be like to kiss his full lips, to feel his tongue softly lick my own; to reach out and caress his freshly shaven cheeks. These thoughts overtook my reason, and I was caught in a fantasy of lust and desire just to kiss him. A passion that had gone into a coma had awakened inside of me with a full rush of heat. Just as I closed my eyes to think about his face, I heard the slider open and close. I turned to look – it was Paul.
He stared at me quizzically. “I was thinking maybe we can go to dinner on Friday,” he said quietly. “Anywhere you want to go.”
            I turned and looked at him, “Anywhere?”
            “Yes, honey anywhere.”
            I nodded in surprise, and he reached to touch my shoulder but I recoiled, which was an unfamiliar reaction.
Paul frowned and asked, “You okay?”
            “I’m fine,” I replied, but his touch made me shudder.
I no longer wanted him. I couldn’t even see myself kissing him anymore. What was wrong with me? He was my husband, and I couldn’t stop thinking about another man. Evan had resuscitated something dead and buried. It was so much deeper than attraction. I had been attracted to different men over the years. Evan touched something primal inside of me – a pure rush of lust and forbidden desire.
What was wrong with me? What kind of wife … no, what kind of person cheats on her spouse? Was I really this flawed? Had all the deprivation made me lose my values and sense of right and wrong? My longing was so deep and so uncontrollable, I felt total frustration. It created this inner battle: good vs. evil and wrong vs. right. Yet at the same time, something broke open wide in me. It was like thunder struck a granite rock, cracked it down the middle, and split it into two pieces. Singed earth was left between. My identity now fractured with dark, smoking ash. My sense of direction suddenly lost. My moral compass twirling like the Earth’s magnetism gone out of control. I was a puppy chasing an unattainable tail. I had this urge to just dump my entire life and run. Forget I had responsibilities. I wanted for once … just once to have something all my own. Feel real love just for me. To let the man who called me beautiful savor me like an exquisite meal; to lick my frosting completely off my cake and taste all of the richness of the real me.
And that’s when I let it go. I kept revisiting a fantasy of kissing those supple lips. I didn’t even know what his lips felt like. Then I heard that voice again. It whispered, “It’s going to be good.” I looked around, thinking Paul had said it, but he was already gone. I hadn’t even heard him leave me there.
            “It’s going to be good,” the same familiar voice reiterated in a whisper that seemed to blow away like wind.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

3 Tips to Think About Before You Publish a Book

Tip #1: Why are you wanting to publish? An important question that will determine which direction to go in terms of selection of a publishing process (self-publishing, custom publishing, hybrid publishing, or traditional). Is it to simply finish a book you want completed? Is it to establish your legacy with friends and family? Is it to just get your story out of your head? Is it to reach a wide audience? Is it to become a best-seller? Is it to establish a new career as a writer?

Tip #2: Are you ready to get out there and sell? Nothing sells a book better than an author. Reality though is your efforts to reach a wide audience (if that is your goal) require you to get out and sign books and meet people. Does this deter you? Also, realize book signings are glamorous on the surface but work at the heart. It requires work, time and commitment to sign books and sell. Glamor wears off about your 5th signing or second kid's soccer game missed.

Tip #3: Are you prepared to invest. Whether you self-publish or use a hybrid model, be prepared to invest like you would any business. Even if you traditionally publish you will still be expected to pay for a publicist. Publishers do not provide free marketing and PR services. Authors must promote their own books, and it costs money. You know the old adage "it costs money to make money". Book publishing is a business endeavor. You will have to treat it that way to succeed.

For more information, visit the 3L Publishing website at www.3LPublishing.com, call 916-300-8012, or send an email to info@3LPublishing.com.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Twitter Revolution

Many of my readers know that I have been a loyal user of Facebook. I do believe we attract certain energies, and my Facebook account has unceremoniously become a magnet for inappropriate posts and distracting and uninvited "come-ons". Now my relationship status did change, and that brought about a deluge of unwelcome attention. I also encountered some "haters," which is common (so don't take it personally). You should never take anything personally, and especially from someone you don't even know. Unhappy people equal unhappy and negative lives.

I mutinied to Twitter. Why? Well outside of the Facebook behavior that became (how shall we say) unruly, I noticed my "reach" diminishing. Facebook restricting numbers and requiring paid "boosts". Also, I noticed the hip and in-the-know users had migrated to Twitter. My favorite TV shows (John Oliver on HBO among them) began using hash tags strategically to promote their efforts. My business partner Scott D. Roberts had also used hash tags to promote his book Vengeance is Now. Roberts also encouraged me to change to Twitter.

With the obvious reasons piling up, I began the migration. In a two-day period I increased my Twitter followers by 300 and proudly watch my in-box load up with new followers. I also started watching the way to effectively communicate on Twitter without saying, "Hey, I drank coffee today." I analyzed how to promote my new book Body in the Trunk, and how to keep clips very short, concise and on-point.

Even though social media is FREE it's not free. Time is money. It has been said that a CEO or business owner should spend at least 75% of his/her time marketing. I don't think that is realistic, but I do agree that a large sum of your day should be spent marketing and doing sales.

The lynchpin point: if your current marketing and sales techniques have floundered or aren't delivering, time to switch it up. Facebook delivered but the sales were not serious closes. Being proactive, I immediately realized that Facebook had become oriented in a direction that doesn't completely work. When something shifts in your business, don't keep doing the same things. As is true when people say "the definition of crazy is to keep doing the same things and expect the same results," you have to try new things. It's like making your picky eat try a new food a week until she likes one.

So I am trying Twitter! You can follow me @Michelle3L ... see you there! Tweet! Tweet!