Please Brand Me Now!!!!

Branding.

Argh.  Sooo challenging…and so permanent.  It needs to be just right.

Identifying your “brand” is kind of like going to college, where the goal is trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life.  But at eighteen, who really knows THAT?

You have to pick a major but what are the odds that in a few years you’ll even be interested in pursuing a career in the field?  Your scope of interests expands, you identify and refine your skill sets, you grow as a person. So at the end of the four years, are you where you thought you’d eventually end up?

Haha, not me!

I started out pre-law then decided to become a biology major with grandiose plans of becoming a patent lawyer.  That didn’t work too well, so I tried psychology next, then political science.  Finally, I landed on accounting.  Never used my degree, and the extent of my accounting knowledge is limited to distinguishing a debit from a credit.

The point is, we aren’t the same people at 18 as we are at 25 and then at 40.  We develop and expand our horizons.  So while it’s important to figure out how you’re going to differentiate yourself from the competition, you don’t always know out of the gate who and what you will ultimately become.  The reality may be vastly different than what you imagined.  And that impacts your branding.

I can tell you from personal experience I’ve branded and rebranded myself many times over the years, trying to figure out how I want the world to know me.  This became even more challenging for me as an author because at the end of the day, I write romance novels.  But I am much more multi-faceted – how can I reflect that in my platform?  I finally figured it out, but it was a journey.

I first did an exercise where I created a word cloud.  I wrote down every single interest and skill I have.  It became a little unwieldy, so I narrowed it down.  Way too much for a tagline and nothing of real value popped out.

More introspection followed.

Courtesy of melodyhossaini.com

Courtesy of melodyhossaini.com

I’ve blogged for years, primarily about the trials and tribulations of being a working mother with three kids.  Maybe that would be a good platform.  But what’s the hook?  How does that differentiate me from other romance authors?  I’m not the only one with kids and a lot of angst.

It may make me relatable but…it doesn’t set me apart.

I consulted with the experts, read books and articles, searching for inspiration.  I created a bunch of different taglines using the thesaurus app on my phone.  I blogged some more.  I made notes about themes from my books.  Nothing, nothing, NOTHING.

Fast forward a few months.

As I prepared for my upcoming book launch, I realized I needed business cards….and a tagline.  Darn it!  Back to the drawing board.  There was no way I was ordering business cards without a logo from Fiverr.  That site rocks!  And I couldn’t get a logo unless I established a BRAND!

So how can I tie my interests to my books?  I write romance…set in Silicon Valley.  Think venture capitalists, startup CEOs and IPOs…

And now I blog about innovation and entrepreneurship and…IDEAS!  My own personal business experiences combined with interesting startup concepts.

The rest, as they say, is history.  I finally figured myself out.  I am “The Idea Mama, Vogue Entrepreneur and Author.”

It was a good day…and my business cards look fabulous!

Yet Another Teaser & Giveaway…YAY!!!!!

Hubby was just on Facebook and pointed to a picture of a girl named Gina who just had a Scrabble piece of the letter “G” tattooed to her ankle.  He said, “Would you ever do that?”  And I shook my head vehemently.  “No, absolutely not.  My name doesn’t begin with a ‘G’.”

LOL.  But seriously….

I’m so excited to plan for the launch of “Unlikely Venture!”  It’s been a long time preparing for this and I can’t believe the launch is almost here!

So I had to release yet another fabulous teaser…accompanied by a giveaway!

Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card but clicking here:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f30243524/

All you need to do is: sign up for my mailing list, like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter or friend me on Booktropolous Social.  You can enter once or up to four times!  It’s super easy!!

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How Can I Find Key Influencers In My Niche?

Start-ups are typically cash-poor, at least in their very early days. So how the heck are CEOs supposed to get the word out about their fabulous offerings? Marketing firms, publicists, advertisers…everything costs MONEY! CEOs need boku bucks in order to develop their ideas into something saleable but then they need even MORE money to reach customers.

But not if they can appeal to key influencers in their market segments.

Influencers are people who have a respected voice in a specific niche area. They have an avid group of followers that holds their opinions in high regard. They are a trusted source of information and opinions about a given area.

They trick is to figure out WHO the influencers are in your niche.  There are tools you can use to find them.  I’ve used Klout and Kred but i found another one I like better called Followerwonk. You look up keywords and search results are presented with a ranking.  Pick out 10-20 influencers and then the fun really begins because you’ll need to incent them to endorse your product or service. They may accept payment, although this is not as effective as getting editorial review for your company. Positive affirmation from an unpaid source is always preferable, just not always possible.

instyle

Sometimes incentives come in the form of some type of gift, like product, tickets to an exclusive company-hosted event, or swag of some sort.  But what happens if what you have to offer isn’t really enticing enough?  This is the issue for most of us, if you were wondering.  =)

That’s when you have to get creative.  And believe me, it isn’t easy.  I’ve tried a few different things as an indie author to raise interest in my books.  Most times, it doesn’t work.  On rare occasions, my efforts pay off.  It’s those few and far between wins that I choose to focus on, because maybe it’ll be one of those influencers that will ultimately help me spread the word.  Too bad I don’t have any more Krina handbags to send out.  What romance aficionado wouldn’t love to tote around a luxurious leather handbag for an e-reader and some assorted favorite novels?  And maybe a bag of Starburst jelly beans.

Wouldn’t It Be Awesome If I Was A Developer Who Could Program My Own Freaking Ideas??

I’ve been extremely occupied with edits for my second novel, “Nothing Ventured,” this week.  And I thought there was no creativity left in my overworked brain to pour into the old entrepreneurial arsenal.  Thoughts of Mia and Chris incessantly swarm my mind and my sole focus is to finesse their love story to the satisfaction of my editor.  In fact, I think I’ve dreamed in italicized subtitles for the past few nights.

I didn’t think I had anything left.

But then I came up with..ta-da!!!!  An idea.

In my past life, like a waaaaay long time ago, I was responsible for putting together business requirements for system development projects.  Of course there were endless Microsoft Word doc templates available for this exercise, with tables of contents so long they’d rival the length of the actual document.

I’m exaggerating. Kind of.  =)

But then software packages were developed to simplify the process and analysts could input their requirements into a program and answer a whole slew of questions that would translate into a section of the overall deliverable.  The software package would tie all the components together and take the work out of building the narrative.  Analysts input the pertinent information, the software does the rest.

Not that I’m suggesting authors write books with this type of software but think about applying this concept to the editing process.  Developmental edits are a huge pain.  If an author needs to move chunks of a manuscript around, it becomes very tedious to track all the downstream changes.  Plus, sometimes an author may want to “test” a scene out in a different location but wants to see how it might impact the overall story WITHOUT messing everything up.

A software package that could help with this process would be super useful.  Instead, authors (read: ME) end up saving multiple versions of the manuscript, trying to test out various scenarios and often forgetting which one is the gold copy.  To mitigate the risk of THAT, my titles are normally something like this…

NothingVentured v1.12.3.4 ChrisGetsDrunkMiaGoesOverboard.docx

Not confusing at all, right?

 

“Unlikely Venture” Giveaway! Enter To Win A $25 Amazon Gift Card!

I feel like I’ve promoted the launch of “Unlikely Venture” for a while and even though November is still a few months away, there’s sooooo much to do!  Luckily, I’m working with a fabulous team of talented people who’ve been guiding me through the process and I’m so thankful for all their advice and guidance!

This is a super-exciting time and I’m enjoying every minute!

So let’s celebrate with a Rafflecopter giveaway!

A couple of clicks and you can win a $25 Amazon gift card!  It’s so simple to enter!  Follow me on Twitter, like me on Facebook, sign up for my mailing list, friend me on Booktropolous Social…lots of ways to win!

And how could I forget the synopsis…

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Unlikely Venture

Here’s the thing about keeping secrets…they can only protect you for so long before threatening to destroy everything you hold dear.

Meet Jessica Latham:  a bright, sassy, workaholic with a penchant for plunging necklines and Christian Louboutin stilettos.  She has her dream job at the top management consulting firm in Manhattan, but it is coupled with the daily nightmare of an overbearing and demeaning boss who consistently undermines her abilities and challenges her at every turn.

And that’s the least of her problems.

Devastating news threatens her livelihood and sends her fiancé running for the hills without so much as a backward glance.  Newly single and fearful about her future, she focuses on work to escape the looming uncertainty…until a moment of weakness changes everything.  During a night tinged with one too many glasses of chardonnay, she meets Paul Emerson, a mysterious stranger who becomes an eager and willing participant in Jessica’s efforts to finally regain some control of her life.

It was supposed to be an isolated incident, something she subconsciously needed to restore her confidence and clear her head.  But what Jessica soon realizes is that taking control doesn’t always mean she is actually the one in control and things don’t always turn out as planned.

After being awarded a coveted opportunity at work, Jessica thought she was headed for a much-deserved promotion and some degree of stability.  But she didn’t anticipate meeting James Callahan, MIT-graduate-turned-start-up-CEO and she certainly didn’t expect for Paul to walk back into her life.  The internal struggle intensifies when threats to her future resurface.  Her worlds collide when everything Jessica thought was important is pitted against everything she wants for the future and she needs to quickly get her head and her heart in sync before somebody gets hurt.

Help Me Celebrate The Upcoming Launch Of Unlikely Venture!

Yay!  I’m officially kicking off launch preparations for Unlikely Venture this Fall!

Help me celebrate by entering the celebratory giveaway!  For a Facebook like, A Twitter follow or a Booktropolous Social friend request, you get a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

Click Here For A Chance To Win A $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Unlikely Venture, Fall 2014

Unlikely Venture, Fall 2014

Unlikely Venture Synopsis

Here’s the thing about keeping secrets…they can only protect you for so long before threatening to destroy everything you hold dear.

Meet Jessica Latham:  a bright, sassy, workaholic with a penchant for plunging necklines and Christian Louboutin stilettos.  She has her dream job at the top management consulting firm in Manhattan, but it is coupled with the daily nightmare of an overbearing and demeaning boss who consistently undermines her abilities and challenges her at every turn.

And that’s the least of her problems.

Devastating news threatens her livelihood and sends her fiancé running for the hills without so much as a backward glance.  Newly single and fearful about her future, she focuses on work to escape the looming uncertainty…until a moment of weakness changes everything.  During a night tinged with one too many glasses of chardonnay, she meets Paul Emerson, a mysterious stranger who becomes an eager and willing participant in Jessica’s efforts to finally regain some control of her life.

It was supposed to be an isolated incident, something she subconsciously needed to restore her confidence and clear her head.  But what Jessica soon realizes is that taking control doesn’t always mean she is actually the one in control and things don’t always turn out as planned.

After being awarded a coveted opportunity at work, Jessica thought she was headed for a much-deserved promotion and some degree of stability.  But she didn’t anticipate meeting James Callahan, MIT-graduate-turned-start-up-CEO and she certainly didn’t expect for Paul to walk back into her life.  The internal struggle intensifies when threats to her future resurface.  Her worlds collide when everything Jessica thought was important is pitted against everything she wants for the future and she needs to quickly get her head and her heart in sync before somebody gets hurt.

Oh To Be Young And In Love….But When Is It Ever That Simple?

I love stumbling upon a great book, one that draws me in immediately, one that I cannot put down, one that elicits both tears and laughter.  As authors, we strive to bring this experience to readers.  Ryan Ringbloom seems to have it down to a science.

I read Panic on the heels of Flaw, my very first encounter with New Adult author, Ryan Ringbloom. And while I loved everything about Flaw, Panic is on an entirely different plane. I haven’t been held captive to a book like this in a very long time. I laughed, I cried, I empathized, I cried some more – I was completely engrossed in the characters, their experiences and interactions. They were so real, relatable and endearing. My heart broke for them in times of despair and I felt uplifted by their happiness and excitement.

Courtesy of Amazon.com

Courtesy of Amazon.com

The book is broken into two parts and is told from the points of views of four characters whose lives intertwine in quite an unexpected way.  At least, it was unexpected for me.  When I finally realized the final direction, I was on line at GameStop.  My audible gasp resulted in more than a few curious stares from the geeky gamer crew (I say this with affection since I write about the geeky gamer crew).  I had to fight back tears while the incredibly concerned cashier tried to comfort me.

I really enjoyed the way this story unfolds, how the relationships develop between these couples. Ryan has a real talent for delivering a riveting tale through the eyes of multiple storytellers. She gives us as readers eyes into the souls of the fictional characters that she’s worked so carefully to craft.

No words I can write will do this book justice. Panic is an excellent read, one that I’m so grateful to have found. Ryan, you really have a wonderful gift. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

Why Write Romance? Is It An Escape Or A Revival?

Relationships are hard.  That’s a shocking revelation, right?  They take work and dedication and tremendous amounts of patience, every day.  There’s never a break.  Most times, I’m happy to say things with Hubby click.  But on occasion, the edges fray a little and bickering ensues.  Chalk that one up to two stubborn Type As, lack of sleep and a gaggle of loud and whiny kids incessantly haunting us to play Super Mario 3-D World.  ARGH!!!!

Suffice to say, we’ve moved well-beyond the honeymoon.

Makes me think of a scene from Just Married.  Ashton Kutcher’s character Tom and his newlywed wife are on the brink of divorce after a horrific honeymoon in Europe.  He’s thumbing through a photo album with his dad, noting how happy his parents were in the pictures.  His dad reminds him that nobody photographs the difficult days and challenges. You can’t see the issues or aggravation that bridge you from one happy moment to the next.  But they’re always lurking in the background.  Some days are easy and calm and on other days it takes a heck of a lot more to get through, and you do it with a forced smile and clenched fists.  You put the effort in to catapult you to the next happy moment because it’s SO WORTH IT.

photo

That’s one of the reasons why I love to write romance.  Although the relationships are greatly abbreviated in a book, there are still ups and downs (normally much more dramatic than real life since I have to appeal to a reader audience and who the hell really wants to read about my day to day?).  But THE most fun part is always crafting the realization of why a couple chooses to be together, highlighting the forces that drive them to one another no matter what the obstacles, and the reasons why they are absolutely perfect as a unit.

I’ve been happily married for almost 14 years and I love that our story is already written, edited and published.  It provides me with all the inspiration I need to breathe life into my fictional world.

 

 

Desperately Seeking Smokin’ Hot SEXpert For The Bargain Price Of $250K

It is very rare that I pick up a book (or rather, my Kindle) and lap up the words on the page (or screen) like a parched dog at a water bowl in hundred-degree weather.  VERY rare.

But last night, I sprinted through Taint by SL Jennings like a woman possessed…or more appropriately, obsessed.

Courtesy of Amazon.com

Courtesy of Amazon.com

had to finish it.  Raw is the first word that comes to mind when I’m describing it.  It’s told from the point of view of the hero and the author’s ability to spin the story through the eyes of an emotionally tortured 29-year old guy whose life pretty much revolves around sex followed by self-imposed solitude is impressive, to say the least.  While I can’t say for certain that she hit the nail on the head with the way a guy would think, speak and react to precarious situations, in my humble opinion she did a pretty damn good job.

As an aside, guy-speak is always the thing I struggle with the most when writing.  I run a lot of stuff past Hubby for validation.  He likes to remind me that guys have their own dialect and that they aren’t extensions of my female characters.  LOL.

Taint is not a typical contemporary romance.  It had edge and depth and intense passion, much more so than most.  Surprisingly, I liked the heroine, also not typical (at least for me).  So often the heroines fall short; they’re weak and pathetic or just single-dimensional and boring.  But not Ally.  I felt her emotional struggles and while she was constructed to be completely opposite the typical object of desire for the hero, that made it all the more understandable why he’d fall for her and vice versa.

I don’t typically review books here but I just had to share.  Also the cover art…YUM.  It’s what initially sold me.  Check it out at Amazon.

Maybe one day when my books are published (hopefully in the not so distant future) SL Jennings might return the favor.  =)

If You Want Perfection…Well, Good Luck With That!

Do you have any idea what happens when you change the ending of a novel?

You end up looking like THAT.

Figuring out the alternate ending was STRESSFUL!!!  But at least it got glowing reviews from my beta readers.

So I plopped it over the original ending.  But I wasn’t even CLOSE to done.  I had to open up the rest of the manuscript (previously perfected and edited, by the way to the tune of $850) and retool, revise and restructure.  I liken the process to a doctor sewing up a patient after a successful surgery, then realizing a scalpel was left behind.  Mother eff.  You have to get it out before it does any long-term damage.  And hopefully you can stitch up the patient even better than before.

The good news?  Well I don’t have any to share quite yet.  It’s heading back out to beta.  Hopefully, the changes were for the better.  I know it’s cliché but you only have one chance to make a first impression.  If your first book is a snoozefest, readers won’t give you another shot, no matter how awesome book 2 is.  So here’s to making every word count.

I thought Unlikely Venture was perfect.  Until I finished Nothing Ventured.  Then I understood what I missed the first time around.

I am on a quest to perfect these novels. But as anxious as I am to get them out there, I refuse to rush the process.  As a voracious reader, I know what it takes to capture an audience and I will continue to work tirelessly to meet that goal.  And with any luck, a September release is still in sight.

Vic-tor-ee!!!

So now I look like THIS!

southernwritersmagazine.blogspot.com

southernwritersmagazine.blogspot.com

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