Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Excerpt from The Abused - Coming Dec. 2017

So when the day arrived that Kevin pulled up in an Uber car to be dropped off for treatment, no one realized that her ex-husband had become a new patient. Merry stood at the window on the top floor
and pulled back the Venetian blinds to watch Kevin exit the cab to Ms. Fisher’s care. Looking down on her pitiful ex-husband made her feel almost smug. She felt a surge of electrical energy pulse through her body. She couldn’t help but chuckle a little as she watched him trudge in. She wondered if Judge Wilson, who had sentenced Kevin after he got busted in a drug raid with Jude, realized where he had sent Kevin.

“Probably not,” she whispered and laughed aloud.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Abused - Releases December 1, 2017

Three months later Frank had become a complete drug addict. OxyoNtin was but one of his drugs du jour. After enjoying the incredible numbing effect of OxyoNtin, Frank easily moved to heroine after they busted a runner coming up Highway 5 to make a delivery. Frank initially swiped just a little and found he loved the instant high and the sensation of caring about nothing. At first, he thought he could handle it. He would only inject the junk at night or on weekends, but a casual dalliance soon got out of control.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Children of the Guardians: Coming Soon

An epic struggle erupts! The time for revenge draws near. Who will survive as the very fate of humanity is at stake?

Children of the Guardians is an incredible, intergalactic tale about the classic struggle of good vs. evil. Nearly 150 years have passed since Arturo mysteriously murdered two Guardians and stole their Crystal Skulls. The year is now 2027, and the G`Alad has strategically positioned themselves politically and physically to take control of the Earth, but they must first find and destroy the last Pyraportal that protects the peaceful Balsarius.

Meanwhile, Guardian Ana must prepare to fight back against her estranged grandson, Arturo. Ana has fled to keep her new charges from falling to the temptations of the evil-tainted weapons that now control the G`Alad and Arturo. Will Ana have enough time to train this new generation of Guardians, or will Ares and Arturo destroy them before they begin? Can Ana and her charges fight this alone – or will she need help from the great beyond? Will the goodly Balsarius defeat the evil G`Alad? The ancient Holy Warrior, Shihan Marcus Kahn returns from 300 years of stasis to face his past, and once again wage war against Admiral Ares and his massive fleet.

Children of the Guardians is the epic sequel to Guardians of the Crystal Skulls. Continue on this suspenseful adventure to save not only the Universe but the very souls of humanity.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Habits and Attitudes Goes to Cabo

What would you have if you took some of the country’s greatest minds, infused some of the most amazing speakers and placed it in the backdrop of paradise? Habits and Attitudes in Cabo! This five-day four-night trip takes place at one of Cabo’s newest and hottest Resorts, BREATHLESS. Watch the video (click here).

Thursday, August 10, 2017

What Reviewers are Saying About Grains of Truth

Overall, I really liked this book. I am really glad I got the chance to read it. Not many books unnerve me with their words, but this one did. I look forward to reading more of Ferry-Perata’s books in the future. ~ Jessyca Garcia, Reader's Choice

It will tug at your heart strings, and keep pulling you back in. A great read. Wonderfully, beautifully written story. ~ Amy's Bookshelf

This is a beautifully written book about the bounds of friendship ... Great story, great characters and an unbelievable twist at the end. Read this book! ~ Imaskeptic 

Available on Amazon (click here).

Grains of Truth takes readers into the lives of two best friends, Sarah and Zoe. Each woman has experienced heartbreak and betrayal in their quests for love. Their lives center on the happenings at the local feed store where each woman works. The store is managed by the affable and caring, Tom who is the only male heir to the chain owned by patriarch Otis. Otis, a larger-than-life personality, has decided his son’s future – meanwhile, Tom has fallen for the “feed store” girl Sarah, and this creates a huge family scandal.

As the scandal erupts into tragedy, Sarah relies on her best friend Zoe for support and comfort. The women lean on each other, as each face many challenges. Zoe’s own romantic history is checkered by bad relationships and a failed marriage that resulted in her son Derek. She too has fallen for the local town doctor and struggles with the idea of a serious relationship after so much personal heartbreak.

Grains of Truth examines deeper realities about love, friendship and loss. Buried within the subtext are questions about how to get through difficult situations and overcome tragedy. It begs questions about how to manage grief and accept life as it comes. It’s also about receiving and trusting love and also learning to let go.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Power Chord to My Heart

I haven't been blogging much on the personal side of my life. Maybe as I transformed my life for just this once I decided it didn't need to be on public display.

Now that I'm on the other side of the transformation and floating nicely in the current of my life, I'm going to open up. When I share my personal life, it's an endeavor to help enlighten others. If I can give back to the world through the lessons of life experience hopefully you'll either avoid the same pitfalls or nod and laugh, thinking, "Yes!"

Something important happened in the last year. Something quite literally "mind altering". After falling into the depth of depression and suffering some major life changes and losses, I woke up. I looked at my life and I wondered, "How did I get here?" I was broke, heart broken, and depressed.

I had allowed negativity to take over my positive outlook. I had allowed the negative to cloud the positive. I was living in perpetual fear and anger. I had lashed out at the world. The key though: I had lashed out at me. While I blamed others, I put the most blame and anger aimed at my own heart and soul. It was my fault other people had lied to me. It was my fault, period. Why give so much blame away when I could keep it and marinate it?

A few things happened. I hit rock bottom ... or at least hit the furthest part of my bottom I allowed myself to go. I was doing anything and everything to survive. I wasn't trusting others and I most certainly didn't trust myself. After all, I was the culprit in my own pain and self-blame. Why not heap more inward recrimination, right? Wrong!

About that time, it hit me. I had always lived my life following my passion and purpose, which is to be a storyteller and publisher. Now in my despair and desperation, I had lost my way. I knew what was my purpose and passion, but I was floundering in the desperation and fear vs. confidence and fearlessness.

This is when my daughter's middle name "Faith" kept coming up. Where was my faith? Where was my confidence? How was I going to get back on track. FAITH followed by focus on purpose and action to make it happen.

First, I did the scariest thing ever -- I embraced my fearlessness. Yes, it's an oxymoron when you think about it. I had to have the courage and the faith to be brave. I had to KNOW my purpose and follow it regardless of money or unpaid bills. I had to quit looking back and look forward. Then I took ACTION. I put all of my energy toward rebuilding my business and putting myself BACK on the right path. I had to quit jobs that did nothing more than pay a bill and fully believe that following my purpose would indeed MORE than pay bills but reward my life.

Then I had to address the negative self-blame and lack of self-love. I had to quit looking in the mirror and picking on myself. My joke goes like this: An Olympic athlete doesn't look in the mirror and say, "I'm going to lose today."

Instead, I decided to spend my last 15 minutes before I got out of bed meditating and creating my vision for my ideal life. I started using life-affirming mantras all aimed at positive "I am" statements. Then when I faced that mirror in the bathroom, I quit finding negative thoughts about my body or looks. I used positive statements once more using the "I am" in front of it.

Guess what as energy goes and creates, the negative lifted to be replaced with the positive. What seemed difficult just six months earlier now effortlessly happened. A weight lifted. A lightness of being overcame my heart.

And then I made the final step: forgiveness! I had to forgive those who had trespassed against me. Some of my friends and family fought me on that one. I shouldn't forgive anything. But forgiveness isn't for THEM! It's for ME.

And that weight lifted just a little more ... till it became more like a feather. My mind cleared. My energy lightened. My life transformed!

Where are you at in your journey? If it's become dark, just start with the basics. First, find your purpose. It's a good place to start on your road to recovery!

If you want a more specific assist with your journey, here is a link to my book Second Bloom: 10 Steps to Rejuvenate and Realize a New Life. (Buy Here)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Anatomy of Great Back Cover Copy

Sex, Drugs, Murder!
"As Pete walked into the door's shadows, he paused. He thought he was either walking through the doors of hell or entering the next phase of his life."
Welcome to rehab, a place where addicts come to get clean and sober, or in this case ... die!
The Abused is a psychological thriller about nine addicts whose poisonous drug use has destroyed lives, including their own. One after another, each addict arrives to face their demons. One after another, each addict is getting killed.
The Abused invites readers into the world of rehab where everyone, including the therapists, have issues. What happens when someone's "issues" become murderous? 
Nine go in ... who comes out?
Let's do the anatomy of what I did to create this effective back-cover copy.
Tip 1 - It's a marketing piece not a part of the book and not necessarily a summary. Your no. #1 goal without question is to sell books. The back-cover copy is the SECOND sales tool in your arsenal. Which is the first? The cover, of course.
Tip 2 - Create a PITHY headline! Short, snappy and mind-blowing is a winner. The headline needs to distill in 3-4 words the gist of your book. It shouldn't be a sentence. It shouldn't be longer than 4 words. It should be provocative - something to make people stop and wonder. It can be a fun play on words (mine is). It can be something just mind-blowing and interesting. Whatever it does it should capture the reader's attention. My headline plays off Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll... which in any case many addicts come from that mindset, too.
Tip 3 (optional) - Use a sentence or a brief excerpt from the actual book. I don't always take this approach, but when you find a sentence that conveys the essence of the book and is throught-provoking, then use that trick.
Tip 4: The first paragraph should be a brief 100-150 words summation of the book's story line. It's really hard to distill an entire book down, but you can do it. Remember you only have about 300 words in total for your back cover, so try and keep it short. This paragraph gives you some specifics about the story.
Tip 5: The second paragraph is the "sizzle" description. It should be sexy and tell the reader essentially why the book is the one to buy! Is the book scary, a page-turner, sexy, funny, action-packed, romantic? Then tell your readers those things about it. Don't be afraid you're tooting your own horn. Nobody will read it that way. Again, your only goal is to sell books! So SELL them.
Tip 6: Brief endorsements can go here, too. Make sure they're only a sentence though - you don't have enough room. Even two-word endorsements by a big name will do just fine.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Abused: 9 Addicts Go To Rehab... Nine don't come out

Sex, Drugs, Murder!

"As Pete walked into the door’s shadows, he paused. He thought he was either walking through the
doors of hell or entering the next phase of his life."
Welcome to rehab, a place where addicts come to get clean and sober, or in this case ... die!
The Abused is a psychological thriller about nine addicts whose poisonous drug use has destroyed lives, including their own. One after another, each addict arrives to face their demons. One after another, each addict is getting killed.

The Abused invites readers into the world of rehab where everyone, including the therapists, have issues. What happens when someone's "issues" become murderous? 
Nine go in ... Nine don't come out!  

The Abused -- Coming Soon!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Q&A with Author Liz Perata, Grains of Truth

Q: What is Grains of Truth about?
A: The lives, friendship and lovers of two best friends, Sarah and Zoe. The women work for a local feed store owned by a blustering Texan named Otis. When the “feed-store girl” Sarah falls for Otis’ only male heir, scandal and heartbreak erupt.

Q: What makes this contemporary romance unique from others in the genre?
A: The story of love and friendship is timeless. While it might on the surface seem simple: girl meets boy; family doesn’t approve of the lovers; and girl loses boy – it’s the subtext that offers the fresh ideas. Much more is going on in this story than what appears to be obvious. The book calls for readers to really pay attention and dig a little deeper as the story unfolds.

Q: What is the sub-plot in the story?
A: While we have the romance between Tom and Sarah, the secondary story is about her best friend Zoe and her struggles. She’s a single mom whose ex-husband has betrayed and left her to raise their son alone. It’s nothing new and many women will relate to Zoe. She is like everyone else. She wants true love, and she thinks she’s found it when she meets the town doctor, whom she fondly nicknames “Dr. Sex on Two Legs”. Their love story is less fraught with obstacles – or so it seems. Some barriers in love have nothing to do with the obvious.

Q: What do you think draws readers in the most?
A: The story isn’t a fantasy or particularly unique. It deals with everyday people and their personal challenges and desires. Sarah and Zoe could be the women we all know who live in our neighborhoods. The book’s characters are highly relatable and flawed just like everyone. How the story unfolds and what happens and particularly the subtext are unique and thought provoking. When the reader finishes the book, he or she will be surprised and perhaps enlightened.

Q: What inspired you to write the book?
A: I always had one eye on my children and one eye on my career. I worked a typical Monday through Friday 45+ hours a week job. I was well respected in my field and still am. But, funding got cut one year and I was one of the unfortunate people to get laid off. It was devastating because I thought, what I am going to do? However, I had this opportunity to do something that has always been on my “bucket list”. I had the opportunity to write. As I began to spend time with my children, this idea formed into my head, so I began to write it down. Then I began to write every day. At first, I thought the story was going to be a basic story about boy and girl who meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after. However, as I got into the story, I realized that I wanted to write something that will intrigue readers and get them to think about how would they deal with certain situations if they were faced with them. When I made the characters, I derived them from real-world people and situations. Thus, Grains of Truths happened.

Q: Who is your favorite character and why?
A: To me every character is my favorite because this is my baby – my first book, and a labor of love. But, if I think more deeply, Sarah and Zoe are my two favorite characters. I see parts of Zoe in me. She loves her family, and is driven and very focused. For Sarah, it is how she looks at things and tells you how it is.

Q: What are you goals as an author?
A: To create stories where people escape from the hustle and bustle of life and fall in love with characters and places. I want the readers to feel alive emotionally and tell others about their experience after experiencing my stories. I enjoy telling my stories, and I get to spend time with my “families”. I feel like I have the best of both worlds.

Q: What can we expect from you in the future?
A: I am currently writing my second book Public Truths. It’s a complex romance about a Hollywood publicist who falls for her bad boy client, a major star with a reckless past. Like Grains of Truth, this story has a lot of layers and subtext. I am just now writing it and excited to see how it finishes.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

3 Tips to Effectively Pitch Your Book

So you're pitching your book or you've hired someone (hopefully me) to do it. I recently had a client say, he tried many times to get into Experience Life magazine (for his first book). I said, "Did you follow up after you pitched it?" He said, "No." I replied, "Fortune is in the Follow-Up," which is a great older book by Heidi Sloss we published several years ago. Follow-up is critical. Do you give up after one try? Don't give up if you want success and here's why...
How many times have you had an in-box full of email? Do you answer all of them right on the spot? Well, I do but I am the exception to the rule. I follow a strict customer service policy of being available and responsive. The only time I'm not responsive is after hours. Now, I have exceptions depending on the client. I have many casual and friendly relationships with clients where I respond regardless. We have that kind of rapport. Clients that I don't have that rapport, I won't respond to on my personal time.
Most people don't have that kind of policy nor do they even realize its value - or they are just overwhelmed and not as organized. Whatever the case non-responsiveness is more the norm than the exception. So, keeping in mind that "Fortune is in the Follow-Up" if you want results, you have to follow up with people. So, you contact them the first time, and then you make it a priority to follow up with them at least a second or even a third time.
When I followed up with Experience Life magazine, I got results. The editor acknowledged she had been busy, but yes, she would love to receive a review copy. Had I failed to follow up, I would have gotten the same results as my client - nothing. This approach is particularly important when you know your book/product is an ideal fit for the targeted media and yet they didn't get back to you. Niche pitching is really some of the easiest. You know you're going after a media outlet that publishes material related to your book/product. If you're not getting a response from a targeted pitch then following up becomes mission critical to success.
Here are some invaluable tips:
Tip 1 - Make sure your pitch is working. If your target media isn't responding but you know your book is something they cover then examine how you're pitching. What is your message? What are they looking for in terms of content? Analyze it. Break it up into some specific keywords that they use to describe what they are communicating to their audience. Then use those keywords in your pitch.
Tip 2 - Have you identified the editor who is the RIGHT contact? Most publications have a masthead of editors who cover certain "beats". Did you pitch your book on say orthodontics to the guy who only covers dental implants? What is the likelihood he is going to want to see your book? And you can't rely on his kindness to forward your pitch to the right editor. He might or he might not. It's your job to identify who either assigns articles to the writer who covers your topic or the editor.
Tip 3 - Always start with a phone call and a follow-up email pitch. Not all editors want to answer voice pitches and won't accept them. Those editors who still answer the phone are more likely to request your book if you actually make human contact with them. They're going to remember a conversation much easier than an email. So, don't be afraid to make a phone call.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Insider's Guide for the Invisilign Patient

Let's get right to the announcements section. Going on press is the second book in the "Insider's Guide" series titled The Insider's Guide for the Invisilign Patient by Dr. Barry Glaser. Meanwhile his first book The Insider's Guide to Invisilign Treatment continues to steadily sell. He's almost out of all of the print copies from the first print run right as the book is about to go from pre-sale to sale. His success is a fabulous case study in social media marketing tactics. Dr. Glaser has come up with his own methods of attracting interest in his book. I wanted to share some of them so you're inspired to try them out.
Social Media professional groups - Dr. Glaser is a member of several orthodontist-related social media professional groups where he regularly participants. Key point: participation.
Don't join groups, stay dormant, and then do what I call "hit-and-run" advertising. Social media failure point no. 1: using your social media as a simple means to an end. I actually hate it when people use my Facebook page to advertise their products or services. So, don't use a professional group to simply advertise and walk away. Become an active member. Contribute to discussions. Build real relationships with other members. Then when the time is right, mention your book. Do not gratuitously use the group to promote yourself.
Join discussion groups - many online discussion groups exist regarding particular subjects. Join some discussion groups related to your book's theme. Again, the key is to become an active member. You must never think of social marketing endeavors as a straight-up method to advertise. All "social" media should involve "socializing" - that is the exact point of social media itself.
Linked-In has many discussion groups related to all kinds of subject matter. Do a search and see what's available. I am a member of several writers' groups and public relations groups. I have to admit I'm not always active. It depends upon time management. Like all social media, don't get too sucked into it. You can also waste a lot of time with very little return on investment.
Be brilliant in your techniques - huge compliment to Dr. Glaser who has been clever in what he's doing to generate sales. He came up with a contest that if other members of his group posted reviews of the first book, they would be eligible to win FREE copies of the patient-related version. This tactic immediately generated not only reviews, but also more sales.
Use key relationships to spread the words through discussion groups - again Dr. Glaser cleverly identified a colleague whose review would spur sales. This method solved a problem too. He didn't want to aggressively promote his book to this group. By enlisting the help of his colleague, he relied on another person to promote it, which gave it more credibility. This method once more generated sales.
It's been fun to watch how this book is selling. Hundreds of pre-sales were made for a book sight-unseen, which was remarkable in and of itself. Then the book orders began being filled, and the receipt of the actual book continued to generate buzz. It's a marketer's dream. Word of mouth buzz generating sales! We call this in marketing the "snowball effect" - and it's the goal of all marketing and public relations. You want your formal promotional efforts and traditional media campaign to roll up into a huge ball of success that keeps building.
Books that are a flash in the pan don't last. These kinds of books get one key book review or media placement, but the product isn't good enough to sustain the momentum. Luke warm reviews and general disinterest mean sales wane. But when your book is needed and wanted and well done, the sweet spot of "buzz" and "he/she told two friends," etc. is a marketer's dream come true.
Dr. Glaser has nearly sold out his first print run on just the first wave of social media. He's been active, smart and aggressive in his activities. It's paid off. He's an ideal case study of what TO do!
Now go market your little hearts out ... OR hire me to help you!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Grains of Truth Takes Readers into Love and Friendship

 The Lies We Tell Ourselves to Stay Sane

In the world of a Texas feed store, the line between reality and truth blurs when love and friendship are at stake.

Meet Sarah and Zoe, two best friends who work in a family-owned feed store. Their lives begin to unravel when love sparks between Sarah and the feed store owner’s only heir, Tom. Patriarch Otis quickly makes it known that his only son’s future won’t include the feed store “girl”. The clash over Tom’s love life erupts in a family feud where business is expected to trump love. In the meantime, a romance also ignites between Zoe and the local town physician whom she nicknames “Dr. Sex on Two Legs”. The women are quickly caught up in a family feud that leads to unexpected consequences, loss and tragedy.

Grains of Truth is an intense, emotional and passion-filled story about two best friends looking for that one thing everyone wants — love. It’s a story about friendship and accepting what you can’t change. Grains of Truth will move you to tears and leave you astonished. It’s a must-read story with an unexpected twist.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Little Big Lies Finale Delivers Great Story

The final episode of my favorite show this season, Little Big Lies delivered a great ending. (Spoiler alert: don't read if you want the big surprise ending). 

I hadn't quite figured out why the five women involved in the end were so closely tied in story line except that they were feuding. How the show actually connects the dots at the end was absolutely perfect. Now it makes sense why the police interviews focused on all five.

The stories leading up to the murder left open many possibilities. What I hadn't considered was that Perry could be Jane's assailant. As Perry's abuse toward Celeste escalated, it became obvious that he was probably the one to get the proverbial ax. Other reviewers presented numerous scenarios, but I kept thinking it was going to involve Perry. Additionally, the abuse of Ambella started to point toward the twins whom Celeste was convinced had not been witness to their father's abuse. As I connected the themes behind the stories, it became evident that Perry's role model as an abusive husband might have unduly influenced his innocent boys. 

As a storyteller and novelist, I'm always in search of the great twist. While the ending wasn't shocking that Perry fell to his death, I loved how David E. Kelley put the twist in who actually pushed him. It was not as we say "the usual suspects". Bonnie doing the deed was the shocker. Her curiosity and concern piqued, she follows the women and witnesses the final beating of Celeste. Watching Perry's final violence was heartbreaking. As a woman I could barely stand watching him knock her around. The out-and-out violence was frightening (and apparently Nicole Kidman was bruised herself during those scenes) and realistic. It wasn't shocking that Bonnie was provoked into action. I could almost hear an imperceptible applause. I feel confident no one felt particularly sorry for Perry, but mostly sad for his boys. 

Big Little Lies ended just the way I like my endings -- full of great twists and turns. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Personal Brand

Taking the lead of one of my authors Elizabeth Ferry-Perata who I encouraged to take a social media course designed specifically for authors, I thought I would start to drill down and define my own brand a little better. 

If you've been reading my blogs and newsletter you have a pretty good idea about me. I like what Liz said in her blog, "I am who I am." (See her blog at:  I have to say that after 51 years roaming this planet and going through numerous amazing and sometimes painful life experiences, "I am who I am." 

Who is that person? I am a good woman. I always strive to do the right thing. I'm nice to everyone, but if someone tries to "bite" me, it's not a question that I will bite back. I know you can't please all of the people all of the time, and inevitably someone just won't like me for no reason at all. Well, I'm not here to win a popularity contest. My goal in life is peace of mind. 

I'm also funny. If you know me at all then you know I'm witty. If you've read my novels in the California Girl Chronicles series then you know I'm the mind behind the "Love My Coconut" T-shirts. I'm also down-to-earth and a little "freaky" as my fiance likes to call me. We joke all the time. He'll say, "You FREAK!" LOL and I don't argue. Far be it from me to argue the truth. 

I like good food, but it's not beneath me to demand once in a while we get a chili dog and French fries. I love to watch the Food Channel and Carnival Eats. One time many years ago, my ex-husband and I took a trip and stopped at many Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives restaurants. YUM!

 I'm first and foremost a writer and novelist. I've defined myself this way since age 10. In fact, I get annoyed with people, who only trifle with writing, who then position themselves as experts. How am I different? I am absolutely, positively in love with writing and books. I don't use writing as a means to add to my platform. I write because I have to write. It's like my arm. Without it I would be crippled. 

I became a publisher because I love books. I also love working with other authors and teaching them our craft. I've bonded with many clients who have become dear friends over the years. You really can't work on something as personal as a book and not become close with clients. 

And I'm a painter. I only recently took up the paintbrush again. The reason I paint in watercolors is perhaps silly: I don't like the smell of oils and watercolors are washable. After ruining a bunch of clothes with oil paints, I figured I would use watercolors. It turned out I like them better. I like the vibrancy and translucent effects you can create. 

In the personal department, I am a mom to two fabulous children, Cole and Cambria. Cole is now 19 and it's a wonder to see my young adult son as he grows and changes. My daughter is an incredible teenager now at age 13. Every person who meets my kids says how amazing they are. They are both incredible human beings. I get asked about those difficult teen years and whatnot. I also say that my kids are just great the way they are. 

I'm single but recently engaged to Christopher Carter. He's brought so much to my life. We've been together a year now and intend to get married perhaps this summer. Chris though is so funny and sweet. He complements my outrageous sense of humor. We often spend evenings just "talking shit" as he puts it. He is my best friend. I'm fortunate and blessed to have met such an incredible man at my mature stage in life. 

My next novel is in the queue and after some issues get resolved I intend to get out there and promote it. I can't release it for a while. 

So... that is who I am. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Big Little Lies makes for "Whopper" Storytelling

Big Little Lies
Rating: *****

Big Little Lies starring heavyweight actresses Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley is yet another great limited series from HBO. As always I look at TV shows and movies from the viewpoint of storytelling. What impresses me about this show is how each woman’s story is woven together and somehow linked in the murder that we have yet to discover who is the victim. As you watch the show unfold you’re aware that their stories are tied to the murder, but the tension and mystery lies in the question: which woman did it and to whom was it done?

I will find out the coming weeks, as many audience members will as well. I love two things about this story: the way it’s constructed around the mysterious murder and the individual women’s stories. The first layer is the murder and we see the rest of the story in flashbacks. A police interview of outsiders looking in on the women’s stories is used almost like a narrative to retell what happened previously that led up to the murder.  I always like unique narrative and different, clever ways of telling story, and this method works well to give the town gossip and speculation about our three heroines.

First, we have Withspoon’s Madeleine who is a helicopter mom with an edge of bitchiness, jealous bravado, but also deep insecurity. Her former husband’s marriage to a much-younger woman named Bonnie (played by Zooey Kravitz) grinds at her and causes a rivalry over motherhood. Madeleine is married to Ed who is also edgy and interesting. He seems to be like a slow-boiling pot about to simmer over. He is keenly aware that is wife is unhappy and still deeply angry with her ex-husband for abandoning her and their daughter Abigail. As the series unfolds we discover that our prim and only somewhat-proper Madeleine had an affair with the theater director. How this will fold into the entire story line should be pretty interesting. You have a feeling (as is the case with all three women) that each family is on the verge of a complete meltdown.

Then we have the beautiful Nicole Kidman who plays Celeste the gorgeous wife of Perry (Alexander Skarsgard who is playing a “human” version of his alter ego vampire Eric from True Blood). Celeste and Perry outwardly appear to be this gorgeous, loving couple with two cute twin boys. Yet like the others, their union is very flawed. Perry is beating Celeste and then having primal sex with her afterward and yet another form of release. They’re expressing their relationship through violence and sexual aggression, and neither seems happy about it. We soon find them on the therapist’s sofa and eventually Celeste goes solo where the therapist finds out the truth. You can see the dark entanglement of these lovers emotional relationship that is destroying them both. A little note: I always find it interesting how Skarsgard can switch between sweet and nice to ugly and dark. You can see why she loves him despite his violence toward her.

Finally, we have Shailene's young mother who has a son that is a product of rape. Her story is as dark and mixed up as the other characters. Her son Ziggy is being accused of bullying a little girl, Emabella, daughter of the third couple in our mix. Emabella’s mother is a working mother and already insecure about her status. She aggressively tries to get young Ziggy suspended from school even though no evidence has been produced that it’s him. In the meantime his mother Jane’s rape and rapist haunts her to the point that she is considering revenge.

I love this show. It messes with your head. You’re not quite sure who to like and root for. And that makes sense since we don’t quite know who are the real villains. The cheating, violence and anger is mixing and slowingly building to a boil that is sure to blow the lid off. Big Little Lies is the perfect study in how to write extremely flawed characters, and that’s why you’re not quite sure whom in this drama/murder mystery to root for. It creates an interesting series where you’re anxious to see what comes next.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Creating "Demand" to Sell Books

Many authors mistakenly believe that it’s enough to just have their books on Amazon. What they don’t understand is that unless they purchase advertising through Amazon, free promotion through the company is virtually nonexistent. Best sellers enjoy some promotion by being named “best in new fiction”, but that kind of helpful promotion means the book is already selling. New books and low sales don’t get anything for free.

I recently had an author contact me with a really great question: how do you get your book to be more easily searchable. Again, books that are ranked lower in sales won’t be at the top of a nonspecific keyword search. For example, to find this author’s book requires the full title be input into Amazon. Its keywords aren’t enough to make it move to the top of the search because it’s not being routinely searched and clicked on. Other books with similar keywords and higher sales will come up first in a search. It’s similar to Google. What people click on the most often is what ranks at the top of the search.

I try to educate authors to help them understand that simply publishing a book and putting it out there won’t give them sales. Some authors think it should be enough. It’s just not going to work. Much like any product people have to know it exists to buy it. They won’t look for your book if they’ve never heard about it. Amazon’s system reacts to this demand and supply model. Most of the book industry works on demand and supply.

Thus, it’s up to the author and his/her publicist to create that demand. Your publicist promotes your book typically using a combination of traditional media relations combined with trending social media tactics. You really can’t have on method without the other. Although a social media focus can work if the author has targeted the right prospects. So whether or not you have hired a publicist to do this high level thinking for you or you’re doing it yourself, your first exercise should be to identify your primary, secondary and tertiary audiences.

Once you’ve identified your respective audiences, it’s time to promote to those audiences by identifying where the read and get their information. Then you must promote to those media outlets or through those social media services. If you’re promoting to traditional and online news sources, you’ll need a media kit and/or press release. You will also want to do customize pitches. You can create 4-5 different standard pitches, but you should personalize each one you pitch to its target editor/writer/journalist.

Do not throw pitches out there like tossing mud on the wall to see what will stick. Editors and writers know when the publicist hasn’t done his/her homework. They can spot generic pitches. They may think you don’t care enough to even look at their media or what they like to publish and read. Each pitch you should spend time trying to figure out the proper angle to take with that particular media source. It’s time well spent. One placement in what we in the business call a Tier 1 media source can quite literally create a best seller. So, it behooves you to do your homework. Once pitched and turned down, it’s unlikely another pitch will turn it around.

Now go sell, sell, sell! Till next week Friend-Os.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Do we all have a book in us?

How many of you have heard the phrase "everybody has a book in them"? What does this really mean? We're all writers? No, it means we all have a story to tell. Living on this planet and making our lives happen creates our biographies or stories. The current trend in business is the memoir/business story. Many leaders have turned to telling others about their journeys to share life's lessons and experiences. When I read about another person's story and I see commonalities between their experiences and mine then I know I'm not alone. People like to learn and be entertained at the same time. Storytelling is a way to share that common ground with others.
One problem though ... maybe you're not a writer. Maybe you have a very compelling story to share, but writing wasn't your strongest skill. Maybe you are a fairly good writer, but you've never written more than an essay or business letter. You don't have the slightest idea where to begin your book writing process. That is where working with me pays off. You don't have to be a writer to tell your story. You can hire me as a ghostwriter.
What does that process entail and is it difficult? I work with each person around his/her needs. Ghostwriting can be done one of several ways:
Step 1: Develop the table of contents, which is really your book's map. It's good to put together the table of contents first. It organizes the book's content and gives you a firm place to begin.
Step 2a: Clients can start by simply writing out a version of what they think the first chapter should contain. I will go in and revise it and add content by doing additional research if necessary. Each chapter swaps back and forth between myself and the client. For example, while I'm working on chapter 1 the client can be working on chapter 2.
Step 2b: The other option is for me to develop sub-heads and questions under each sub-head. I will then have the client answer those questions. Once the questions are answered I write a narrative around the answers to make the entire chapter flow and make sense.
Step 2c: Clients can also record in their own voice their stories. I then transcribe those stories and write it so it makes sense.
So that is the ghostwriting process with the 3 optional approaches. Does that spark any ideas in you? If you want to open new doors to opportunities, I guarantee a book will do it for you. You'll have a chance to get media coverage, book reviews, book sales, and even be asked to be a speaker.
If you're ready to take that next step and tell you story, give me a call at 916-300-8012 or send an email to

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Is Traditional PR Dead?

Is traditional public and media relations dead?

The analysts are asking this question because of the rapid rise of social media as the main technique to start buzz and sell products. My answer is no, it's alive and well. Today, you've got more avenues than ever before to promote your books, products or services. The real answer is you've got to cross traditional public relations with trending social media techniques, but one without the other isn't the working formula.

Here is how it should go:
Step 1: Create a traditional media campaign and promote to the online, print and broadcast media.
Step 2: Set up interviews and promote book reviews.
Step 3: Take the results in the form of links and use social media to blast the results to your respective social media audiences.
Step 4: Use social media to promote to your respective audiences your own book promotions and excerpts.
Step 5: Engage your social media audience.
Traditional media campaign come together with social media campaigns to make both effectively work. Today the reality is you can't have one without the other - and that's the answer to the question.
Now go take on the day!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Failure: Falling down in business hurts

I was feeling particularly down the other day. Business hasn’t been going easily or smoothly these last few months. Then I began editing the forthcoming book by Stephen Marinaro with the working title “Brand ‘You’” and felt inspired and validated. Stephen makes some wonderful points about being an entrepreneur and the struggles. It made me realize I am not alone.
     I started to joke that I needed to write the book titled “Failure: what to do when you fall down in business.” The reason I wanted to be so blunt with the title was to help other entrepreneurs facing some of the major business issue I am facing. When I read Stephen’s book and the profiles included in our other book Habits and Attitudes, it made me feel better.
     No one wants to admit they’ve failed somehow or are facing some kind of failure. When it comes to social media we’re all about boasting about our successes. Don’t get me wrong I think a positive outlook is important. In reality, though, life doesn’t work off straight sunshine and shining, happy faces. Life can go wrong. Mistakes get made. It’s how we rise from the challenges that count.
     One thing I’ve realized is that patience plays a critical role in your rise from the ashes. I’ve often felt like these challenges just keep adding and piling on. I feel frustrated when I’m not making the kind of progress I want to make. Yet while you’re going through the lows just know that from the lows come the highs. You cannot reinvent yourself without first facing the process of rebuilding.
     Though for me as a highly educated and overall successful person I found it very difficult emotionally to realize I had some tough things to face and clean up. I wondered how someone like myself could fall on her face so hard. Did that make me less than I thought about myself? And that’s why I feel like a book that addresses what is more common than you realize would help other people.
     Why? Because as I said, no one is out there bragging how they messed up. So, when the chips are down you might feel alone and bad. You might think you’re the only who screwed up. Yet when you realize you are not the only one who faced problems and you’re not quite as misguided as you think then it’s comforting. Knowing some very successful people have pulled it out will help you.
     So, here I am. I am trying to rebuild business after some difficult times. I’ve even taken up driving Uber just to pay basic bills and keep my doors open. And I’m driving Uber with a positive attitude. I’ve met many great people doing it. It won’t be forever but at least whatever income I generate from driving I have the power to control. That is the difficult thing. You can’t always ensure sales will close. As an entrepreneur that can be harrowing when you don’t have dependable income. So driving Uber has taken off some of the stress.
     I hope my sharing on this blog makes someone out there feel a little better just like Stephen’s words in his forthcoming book made me feel better.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tips to Freshen Up Your Writing

Today we’re going to discuss keeping your writing fresh and flowing. I have edit thousands of documents and books over the years. I see common mistakes made by new writers and sometimes even seasoned experts, too. Here are some down-and-dirty tips to improve your writing whether it is for creative or business projects.

Grammar and punctuation varies based on style usage. Did you know several different stylebooks exist? Yes, several choices are available, including AP Style, Chicago Style, Strunk and White, and Masters of English Arts. Here is the rub. Different styles make it seem like some usage is wrong. For example, if you’re an AP Style users then Chicago Style has conflicting rules. Here is a breakdown of how the stylebooks apply:

AP Style – used by the mainstream media and press. AP Style came from the media outlet the Associated Press. You’ll find AP is used for newspaper and magazines articles as the basis of journalistic rules.

Chicago Style – generally used for technical documentation and workbooks. It has uses applied to things like charts, graphs and lists. It also uses commas differently. Some online content providers use it, too.

Strunk and White – taught mostly in higher education English classes as the basis for term papers and essays. Mostly students and academics to keep their work consistent use it.

Masters of Language Arts (MLA) – definitely an academic stylebook used for things like a thesis or books.

The insider tip: whatever stylebook choice you make, apply it consistently. Don’t change your mind halfway through a document and decide to apply a different style. The end result will be the “appearance” of mistakes. Consistency in writing plays an important part in keeping it clean. While someone may not agree with your style choice, if you’ve kept it consistent they cannot say you are wrong. If you choose to create a stylebook for your publication, which many books and magazines do, then keep it consistent. No one can argue with conscious choice to do something a particular way.

Redundancy is a problem for new writers. Redundant word choices and or saying the exact same thing you said two paragraphs earlier or even three sentences before. I am working on a manuscript right now for a new author who has a following established, which is why I accepted the book. The author’s weakness is restating either entire paragraphs or sentences over again. The restatement leads to an unorganized train of thought that doesn’t flow but repeats. Don’t restate more than once. Don’t use the same word over and over again. A Thesaurus should be handy at your desk at all times or use the one in the word processor.

Insider tip: the quickest way to find out how many times you’ve repeated a word? Use your Find tool and look for the word you’ve repeated. Every time it comes up, use the Thesaurus to find a new word choice.