11 February 2010

"Discovering the Author Brand"

If you are a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America), check out the February 2010 RWR edition–really informative articles. This month I’m especially interested in the article “The Basics of Author Branding” by Theresa Meyers, publicist and now romance author.

She gives three phases of author branding.

Creating Emotional Velcro, The Perception of Higher Quality, and That Something Special.

What I’m looking into is phase one…which is finding the emotional themes of my books. I’ve written three books and numerous short stories. I’m supposed to look for the repetitive themes or what is familiar in order to discover my author brand.

Somehow this isn’t the easiest for me. I tend to see myself and my writing differently than how others view me and my stories.

When I’ve read reviews something that keeps popping up is that I tend to write real-life issues. And I definitely love writing suspense in my stories. I think I need help finding my repetitive themes.

I asked my critique partner Tina things she’s repeatedly seen in my voice or stories—since she’s read all my works. Together this is what we’ve come up with:

– multicultural heroines
– urban settings
– strong females
– surviving and thriving around edges of danger
– dealing with real-life issues

I think I’m forming a clearer picture here. If only I could come up with a good tagline too!


8 June 2009

"Five For Five"

NYT Bestselling author Dianna Love and author Mary Buckham are the plot doctors behind Break Into Fiction: 11 Steps to Building a Story that Sells available June 18th, and now available for pre-order.

And this week, they are introducing FIVE for FIVE Writer’s Extravaganza! All week June 8-12, 2009, all genre writers and for only 5 days. Multi-genre top authors share tips on writing June 8-12, 2009 on the website www.Breakintofiction.com!

Today kicks off Suzanne Brockman, Catherine Mann, Niki Burnham, Joanna Campbell Slan, and Tina Ferraro. So definitely check back each day for some interesting and helpful tips from 25 authors this week!


21 August 2008

"Advice"

I’m going to point you to Joe Konrath’s latest blog entry, “Brain-Check”. His post couldn’t have hit more home with me as of late. There really is no sure formula for writing success. This is my second year as a published author and I’ve been faced with some unavoidable realities along the way. Some I was prepared for, so I never thought possible. haha.

I think it’s safe to say, to expect the unexpected in this business whether you’re struggling for publication–and, I mean struggling, this career is not easy–or if you are a published author.

Here is Joe’s round up of latest writer advice, along with my personal opinions:

1. Study the situation. That means learning everything you can about writing and publishing. Read about it, talk to people in the industry, and seek answers.

Research has always been imperative, from when I chose to become a writer and then reached publication, and with every new step I take. You can’t get far without knowledge. I only attended a few classes in junior college. I was never patience enough to work for a degree. Always wanting that “hands-on” experience. So when I decided to become a writer I went straight to on-line resources and books. It’s cliched but true–Knowledge is Power.

2. Set attainable goals. Once you have a rudimentary understanding of how publishing works, you can figure out how to leverage your standing within it. Keep goals to things within your control.

Whenever I have set a goal, it’s always been the next step in my career. In a business course I took while studying graphic design, they tried to get me to write a 5 year plan. 5 years?? I couldn’t see next month! haha. This plan could surely work for big planners, but I’ve never been one of them. It’s always take one step, work toward the next for me. For eample:

– Learn to write a book. – Write the book. – Revise the book. – While revising, research how to write a query. – Write query, research agents. – Book is ready. – Start querying. And so forth…

3. Learn from both failure and success. Try things for yourself, try them again, and revise and evolve.While you can’t control the experiment, you can test and hone tactics.

I’ve never known what is going to work for me, mainly through promotion. Publishers can’t always take the chance to throw money in promotion for every writer they have, even though that would be nice. 😉 So I do what I can and I try my best. Then if things didn’t work out, I knew not to go that route again.

4. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. No good can ever come of this. Ever. Writers aren’t in competition with each other for contracts or fans, and one person’s success doesn’t hinge on another failing. Envy is poison.

Oh gees, do I know every situation is different. Every contract, every offer, and circumstance. Don’t expect what someone else is getting. Everyone is at a different level. It’s in your hands to work hard to try and get to another level, but its not guaranteed. I know, hard stuff to read.

5. Value yourself. If you don’t have enough confidence to believe you’re worth more, no one is going to give you more.

Been there. The mind is crazy. Your mentality can set you back or push you to do things. But one thing is for sure you have to believe in yourself, because even though you have supporters around you, its you who has to write the book.

6. Bust your ass. If you aren’t driven to succeed, you probably won’t. How bad do you want this? If the answer is: really bad, then you have to prioritize accordingly.

That’s what I’m talking about: DRIVE. The book won’t get written unless you really want it. The next book won’t get written unless you really want it. I tell my peeps all the time, you have to want it to make it happen. Because there are going to bumps in the road–expect it–and you’re going have to get be like Rocky, and get back up even after you’ve been knocked down.

7. Forgive. You’ll make mistakes. People will screw you. Circumstances may conspire to keep you down. Regret, guilt, worry, and self-pity are all just as poisonous as envy. Let the past stay in the past and move on. You’re better than that.

I wish everyone you encountered in the writing world would be super friendly, but its not the case. There are going to be people who only care about themselves or what you can do for them. And then there are those super nice people too, who will welcome you with open arms. There are going to be people that make a mistake, but anger won’t get you far. You have to be able to move on or past. No one is asking you to forget, sometimes that is impossible. 😉 But leave the past in the past. I know, sometimes easier said then done.

8. Dream. That’s why you became a writer in the first place. It’s the one thing you have complete control over, and the one thing that will keep you going when everything else is going to hell. The day you stop dreaming is the day you stop trying.

This is my favorite. This is something you cannot lose.

Thanks, Joe, for the solid advice!


28 May 2008

"Front Sales"

Yesterday, I got an email from my editor for INVISIBLE TOUCH. We are at the mark where things are starting to speed up, such as packaging and marketing. She sent me the “Front Sales” pages.

Huh. What’s Front Sales?

I opened the doc. and discovered it’s all the buzz I may have received for GRAFFITI GIRL, and the quotes for TOUCH. Some of it will go into the first pages of TOUCH.

And as I read, I noticed there were reviews and blurbs I hadn’t discussed with my editor. You know where she got them? From “Raves and Reviews” from my website. I did my best to collect on-line reviews and whenever an author emailed me and let me know how they liked GG. I’d thank them, and ask if it was okay to post on my site. This was pretty much to interest potential readers.

And now some of those blurbs and reviews will be previewed in my second release.

A lesson learned…keep all your raves and definitely post them on site. 🙂


18 March 2008

"Backstory Gives your Story Meat"

I’ve been writing like a mad woman for the past two weeks. While finishing up INVISIBLE TOUCH, I wrote a proposal that wasn’t quite ready to go out. I also had another idea, so I wrote up a new proposal. *whew* It’s been tough switching projects like that but sometimes it happens that way. So I’m sending the proposal to my agent this week and hopefully things go smoothly to submit to my editor. 🙂

As I was writing and reading this weekend, I had a writer thought.

“Everybody has a backstory.”

Everyone. Your main character has a backstory. The secondary character has a backstory even the nosey neighbor or aunt or uncle or cousin has a backstory.

Why am I bringing this up? Because backstory gives your story meat, in other words strength. The backstory should also have meaning to the character’s current situation. Otherwise it’s just leftovers.

In Graffiti Girl

I gave my main character Angel backstory to a current dilemma she is going through. Angel’s mother dates guys (the wrong ones) one after the other. When one relationship doesn’t work out, she’s up for the next.

Angel has problems with this. First off, she usually makes friends with guys rather than attracts them. She’s not girly, she’s more of a tough girl. We don’t really know why, and Angel’s not up front about it either.

[Page 5] “Maybe it was the kick-back, frayed jeans I usually sported, or the tees with cartoon chatacters. Whatever reason, I somehow managed to attract guy ‘pals’ like magnets.”

Then we learn a big clue in backstory. Also, it’s always a good thing to try and filter in hints and clues through the story instead of info dumping it all in the beginning.

The first hint we see of Angel having an issue with the opposite sex was when a boy forcefully kissed her at a young age.

[page 36] “I didn’t always follow the rules, but there were things in life you couldn’t always trust. Something I first learned in second grade at Tanya Martinez’s house. Her older brother, Antonio, was a sixth grader at the time, had pulled me into his room, held tightly onto my head, and pushed his mouth against mine.”

From there we have the second hint with current situation: She has an aggressive run in with her mother’s ex-boyfriend. Angel’s scared here when a ex-boyfriend goes a little too far to get his point across.

[page 43] “He took a step closer and latched onto my arm.

My heatbeat flickered hard in my chest. A funny prickling started on the back of my head. I automatically tugged against his grip, but he held tight.”

Then later she totally outs her personal dilemma with the opposite sex, and it makes sense because of the previous situations she’s gone through.

[page 170] “Right then, I wanted to turn and walk away. I didn’t trust men. Growing up with my mom’s endless line of boyfriends, I’d met and seen all kind. Some not so friendly, some way too friendly. Men were not to be trusted.

It takes time to understand how to filter in backstory, and sometimes backstory forms automatically and comes together in the end as the story closes without even planning it. Hey, it has happened like that to me!

So again, backstory gives your story meat. Now go grill up your book with some meaty backstory. 😉