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Freaky Friday - Twilight, Kardashians, and Other News from the Land of Odd

It's Friday, and you know what that means!

You don't?

Oh, right ... because I haven't told you my Brilliant Blogging plan. See, when I decided to blog regularly, I realized something startling: I'm boring. My life is dull. Snooze-worthy. I'm putting myself to sleep writing this, in fact.

So I did what I always do when I have a problem. I made a list! Wheeee! (Told you I was boring.)

Spontaneity is overrated (and really hard to spell). If you know about my issues with prime numbers then you'll know how much I enjoy orderliness. And how badly I need therapy.

Anyhoo ... I thought I'd try to structure my blog using the following topics:

  • Movie-star Mondays - Actors we love and the shows in which we adore them.
  • I'm-a-Tool Tuesdays - The craft of writing/the business of publishing.
  • Wild and Woolly Web Wednesdays - Featuring wonderful web sites.
  • Thumpin' Thursdays - All things music. But I'll try not to get too street, yo.
  • Freaky Fridays - Anything weird, funny, or funky.

I don't know about you, but I'm totally jazzed about this. I think it's the alliteration. Does it to me every time. That said ...

It's Friday, and you know what that means! Time to get our freak on! Allow me to tickle your funny bone and then possibly make you vomit.

Today's snort-fest was brought to my attention by the lovely Rebecca, whom I adore (and not just because she pimped my Facebook "Author" page and brought me lots of new Likes). But also because she knows quality writing when see reads it. Obviously.

Here is an Honest Movie Trailer for the wonderfully mockable Twilight:

"The romance of a lifetime ... expressed entirely in stares." These people are brilliant. I snorted my tea at the ketchup comment. And the cast of characters.

Speaking of things that become enormously popular despite a suspicious absence of talent ...

The Jenner sisters (from 'Kardashians' fame) are writing a novel. Yay! Because it's totally easy to write a book and like, every 14-year old should totally do it. The good news? They haven't even finished, and it already has a publisher. That's right, an imprint of Simon & Schuster will publish the as-yet-untitled book next summer. The better news? According to E!, it "could be the first in a possible series."

In other news ... a piece of my writer's soul just died.

Hope y'all have a fabulous Friday and a wicked-cool weekend.







Self-Promotion: The Good, The Bad, and the Fugly

I had a lovely time at the Writer’s League of TX 2012 Agents Conference in Austin this past weekend. I made new friends, met some of New York's best literary agents, and learned a ton about the wacky world of publishing.

Two topics came up time and time (and time and time) again.

Self-Promotion is a Requirement

Whether published by the Big Six or Kindle Direct, an author handles the bulk of their own promotion. I expected this for indie houses, and it goes without saying for self-publishing. But it was surprising to learn that even successful, multi-book-deal authors, published by Hachette or Simon & Schuster, for example, must spend a good chunk of time building and maintaining their “platform.”

In one respect, I think this is good. Nobody’s more excited about my amazing plot and fabulous characters than me. Who better to sell it? From an integrity standpoint, self-promotion is great.

Time-wise, however … not so much. I’m not a marketing professional; I don’t know the first thing about branding. And yet I am the brand, so it behooves me to figure it out. Establishing an online presence takes time, and keeping it going takes longer. As if it weren’t hard enough to grab a few hours of writing-time to begin with, all this time spent promoting means even less time writing. Not good.

Love it or hate it, resistance is futile. This is the new reality of publishing, a point so universally accepted it’s written into contracts. At the conference, I met a best-selling author who’d published over 20 books with HarperCollins, and she spent just as much time on self-promotion as self-published authors.

If you think being traditionally published means less work on the business side of things, you’re fooling yourself. You need a strong presence, and you need to start building it yesterday. The good news is …

Social Media is Your Friend

Like all your other friends, it loves when you take advantage of it. Okay, maybe not, which is why you must cultivate the hell out of this relationship. This is a friend you want to keep around for a long time, after all. Those kind of friendships don’t just happen overnight. Don’t expect to join Twitter and have a Neil Gaiman-like following in a week. Especially if all your tweets go something like, “My book is on sale,” “Look at my amazing book,” or “OMG PLZ BUY MY BOOK YOU WON’T BE SORRY!!!!”

Yeah, I already am. Or not, because I clicked “unfollow” ten tweets ago.

At the conference, this aspect of social media was likened to newspapers (but without the dying-medium aspect). Papers tell us what’s happening in the world, right? We learn something new, we’re touched by poignant human-interest pieces, and we laugh at Dilbert. Bottom line is we-the-reader get something from the experience. Sure, there are ads. It’s a business, after all.

But imagine if EVERY SINGLE PAGE offered nothing but ads. We’d stop reading pretty fast. Likewise, readers will stop following your Twitter feed if you do nothing but slap them in the face with your book. Put some time and effort into it. Don’t be afraid to tweet about something off-topic. Chances are if it interests you, it will also interest your followers. Better yet, make your tweets relevant to your book. If you wrote a thriller about a cutting-edge prototype, go forth and tweet about the latest tech advancements. It’s a great way to reach potential readers in your target audience. But use book tie-ins sparingly. The goal is to inform and enrich—not alienate.

Not a fan of Twitter? Not a problem. There are plenty of other outlets for authors to connect with readers. Experiment with Facebook, start a blog, decorate a board for your book on Pinterest, connect with professionals on LinkedIn. And don’t worry. You don’t have to do them ALL. Take a test ride and choose whichever you like best.

Keep your audience in mind when deciding, though. Someone writing YA will probably reach more readers on Twitter than, say, LinkedIn. But the author of a non-fiction book on management trends may find the opposite.

One last tip: set a goal and stick with it. Whether you decide to blog monthly, post to Facebook weekly, or tweet daily, your readers will appreciate consistency. Just as no one wants a newspaper full of ads, they’ll be equally frustrated by something that arrives on a whenever-the-hell-I-feel-like-it schedule.

So do some research, take the time to tailor your social media interactions, and be consistent. Your readers will thank you for it.




The Story of Dani (aka: Stay in School, Kids)

When I was 18, I left college and moved into a crappy little apartment with my boyfriend. Times were tough. Living paycheck to paycheck would have been a luxury. The credit cards were maxed out, the rent was always late, and the debt kept snowballing. We blinked, and our world was an eviction notice away from ending.

And so I did something horrible. I traded my soul for a career. I killed the woman I was, the one who dreamed of changing the world with the beautiful things she created. Nearly two decades later, I can't say I'm sorry. That bitch needed to die.

Even so, I'd committed murder. And when one does the crime, one must also do the time.

I began serving a life sentence in the penal colony known as corporate America. Books offered a rare chance to escape from vicious wardens, cruel guards, and an army of shiv-wielding, back-stabbing inmates. Words were my lifeline—they bandaged my wounds, lit the darkness of solitary confinement, and kept the fragile elastic of my sanity from stretching too far. It's no surprise, then, that I turned to them in 2005, when my sentence was commuted. The moment I was granted parole, I went straight to the bookstore. I found new authors, visited old favorites, and spent time in nearly every genre. That's when I realized something was missing. I could never quite find The Perfect Book.

I love mysteries, with their twisting plots and clever characters. Yet no matter how satisfying it was to know the who in whodunit, I still wanted more. A touch of romance, perhaps.

I tried romantic suspense and found all the lovely UST (unresolved/unfulfilled sexual tension) I'd been missing. And more. Too much more, in fact. After the first hook-up, I was done. I wanted to dive back into the action, not wade through several more sex scenes.

Thrillers gave me an exciting, fast-paced storyline but held the same drawback as mystery. I yearned for emotional depth and an element of romance.

After much fruitless searching, I decided to write the books I wanted to read. I'd written novels before, although they shall forever remain in a dark and scary sector of my hard-drive (you're welcome). It is my hope that I am not the only one who looks for a story with a thrilling plot, a dash of mystery, and non-explicit romance. And if I am? Meh. At least I've entertained the hell out of myself!

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