Monday, January 23, 2017

Just a Little Peek...

While I wait for Evolution Revolution: Simple Plans to debut, I'm going to tease you a bit. Here's one of the inside pics, created by my fabulous illustrator, Cathy Thole-Daniels:

The main character, Jack the gray squirrel, is learning quite a bit from his human friend Collin. (I'm not going to tell you what, but it's pretty amazing. Sorry, you'll have to buy the book or ask your library to get a copy.) If you've wandered around Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, you've seen stories about animals doing some amazing 'human' things: unlocking doors, dancing to music, skateboarding. This makes me smile because maybe this book will move from fiction to non-fiction. 

Strange things are happening...

Don't miss Jack's continuing story.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

You Know More Than You Think, But It's Not Enough

I prefer to spend my time writing or revising, but as every published author knows, you have to do public relations. If you're self published, you do it all, but even traditionally published authors get stuck doing quite a bit, especially nowadays with publishers pumping out more books than ever on shrinking marketing budgets, and, I'm going to say it, celeb or high profile authors (who don't need that much promo) sucking up unfair percentages. So keep that in mind as you seek an agent or editor-you know you have to start thinking about promotions (You've been told a million times: get a website, engage on social media, build a following, get involved in the writing community, etc.)

There are plenty of books and videos to give you the basics. You may surprise yourself by how much you already know and may be doing. Lately I've read Your First 100 Copies: The Step-By-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book by Tim Grahl, and I've been listening to video seminars by Steve Harrison. Neither, along with several other books I've read, was the complete  Holy Grail of public relations. Tim's book was for people with absolutely nothing done (not even a completed manuscript). As I have four traditionally published books, I'm not new to this game so I picked up very little from the book. (Hint: get marketing books from the library because buying them can add up.) As for the video seminars, I find them too basic (it's why I don't attend many writing workshops, they are geared for beginners), long winded (it could have been done in less than an hour), and a lot of these seminars are better suited for non-fiction and those who want to get into public speaking, presentations, and making money off what they know. The presence of a well-known person (who isn't a writer, but an editor/publisher) didn't help and rather hindered the presentation as it was a walk down memory lane for too long a time for me; I don't have hours to sit and listen to things I already know or don't need to know.

For beginning writers, it would be inspirational and especially helpful if you need tips on how to keep writing, perfecting your work, starting your social presence. For additional $$$$$, you can hire these people or buy a series of videos taking you step by step through promoting your book. I'm neither recommending nor not recommending; you need to decide how to spend your money based on your needs.

At least I've learned how much I do know. I'm not claiming to know it all, and I'll keep searching for more books, videos, seminars, and classes to help with book marketing, but I'm in a decent place for things I can do on my own. Things I can't do, like hook up with people in higher places who can push my book further is why I hired a part time publicist like Rebecca Grose of So Cal Public Relations.

If I discover any groundbreaking information, I'll share, but I'm finding everything you need to start is mostly available in books and videos you can get on your own.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Discovering Her Creative Zen

This is one of my absolutely favorite pieces of art:

I love Asian inspired pieces, and this hangs in my downstairs library. Besides being painted, the geisha's dress and sash are applied silk fabric. I love the way the artist incorporated both visual and textural elements. You can't touch the silk because of the glass, but you can see it. (I wouldn't want anyone putting their greasy fingers on the silk anyway. This isn't a 'touch me' museum.)

The artist started painting, drawing, sculpting, and creating in other mediums later in life- in her 50s or 60s. Some of her pieces I don't care for, but just like with my books, there are people who don't like them all, and that shouldn't take away from enjoying the work that they do, or stop them from checking out newer ones.

What impressed me most about the artist is that she never thought she had creative talent. Artistic ability always belonged to someone else. I don't know what spurred her to say, 'Screw it, I want to paint.' But she did, and I'm glad. Maybe New York art galleries would laugh at her work if she tried to get a showing, but hey, I've seen some 'art' that leaves me cold (religious depictions in feces??), and I'm very choosy about modern art (I don't do 'Campbell's soup labels' kind of thing). Art is in the eye of the beholder even if beholders are few and far between. Art should be for one's self, itis personal expression and doesn't need to fit anyone's expectations. If others like or appreciate it, bonus. No one should be afraid to try, to experiment, to throw reservations to the wind.

So don't worry that your creative work isn't 'good enough.' If you don't like it, you can rework it. Artists are never happy with their creations, always wanting to tweak it just a bit more, but don't let it discourage you. I've perused my previous books and without fail, can find sentences that I'd like to rework, but it's done and I have to move on. I have to take the plunge on the next project.

Get working, express yourself, please yourself. And if you become afraid of what others will think, just remember my mom and her painting in my library.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Leaving It All Behind...

No, I'm not running away to a cult or hiding in a cave. I'm just leaving all those things and people behind that need to remain in 2016.

I like to start the New Year fresh and new, no recycling here! Here's a partial list:

Manuscripts that don't work. Much as I love the story, some just won't work because of timing, plot flaws, or other reasons. They'll go in a drawer (like a few others) and will collect the dust of time until maybe one day they are resurrected. Sleep well, my children.

Negative Nancys. There are a few people I need to dig a moat against. There is enough sorrow, heartbreak, pain and suffering. Some people seem to thrive on negativity and maybe I'm too sensitive, but I can't deal with the constancy. I wish them luck and happiness.

Stupid tasks. What is the point of pulling out the refrigerator every year? No one sees under there, except a stray ant. When the refrigerator is pulled out for repairs or replacement, then I'll vacuum and wash the floor. Who'll know the difference, and I won't waste time doing it. Shhh, don't tell anyone. I'm sure there are many, many more time-wasting activities that I can cut.

Unnecessary stuff. I'm donating clothes that don't fit or I don't wear, cleaning out books, housewares, vases, furniture, etc. I don't use anymore. I'm beginning to understand the value- the serenity and peace- of empty space.

Stress. With my digestive issues now under control, I need to address how I handle stress. Nasty comment on social media? I can scroll on, hide or unfriend, no reply is necessary. Difficult person? Walk away. Bad situation? Spend time with people and activities that make me happy and give me time to work through the problems. I have to take better control of how everything affects me, even if it only works for my benefit and to someone else's detriment. 

Don't deny myself experiences (rather than things) that make life sweet. We have limited time on this orb so not taking advantage of all the wonders available to us is foolish. Life shouldn't be about acquiring things, but memories.

If it's broken, or doesn't work anymore, throw it out. That's mechanical things, relationships, or arrangements. Like some old time traditions, New Year's means sweeping out the dust and detritus. 

Wishing you all simple, priceless treasures of love, happiness, and contentment in 2017.