Monday, July 18, 2016

San Fernando Valley June LitMingle - Marketing 101 with Cindy Marcus

It's finally summer! Besides driving my kids all over southern California, with two side trips to Turlock and Reno Nevada, here's a highlight of my job as SCBWI LitMingle Coordinator...

Agents and bookstores, and promotion, oh my! Marketing our work just feels overwhelming, and kind of scary. After all, we are writers, not promoters. But in today's market, we need to know how to sell, even if we haven't finished that manuscript. 

At the June San Fernando Valley LitMingle, Santa Clarita Valley LitMingler, Cindy Marcus, author of three nonfiction books and dozens of published plays and musicals, shared her doable approach to marketing in her insightful presentation, Marketing 101, or as she refers to it, Marketing .5. Cindy's technique can be summed up in one three-letter word— FUN! Of course,FUN is to be expected from someone with her theatrical background. 

Cindy believes that if you build your marketing platform, they will come. Even if you're pre-published, Cindy believes marketing yourself, your hobbies, your interests, etc., can develop a place holder for your success.  

How do you do that? Well, I can't possibly do Cindy's presentation justice in this blog post, but I will share a few highlights:
  • Find a platform that's FUN to you, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., and spend ten minutes a day having FUN.
  • Use the 70-20-10 rule when posting:
    • 70% content your market cares about.
    • 20% about you and/or other personal things
    • 10% about what you're selling. 
  • Find your online audience, i.e. Augmented Reality, Graffiti Art, Origami,  etc., and market yourself to it. (This is especially beneficial if your book just happens to be about this very topic.) Find where they meet and join in the conversation. 
  • Ask yourself the following: 
    • What does my market want to know about this topic?
    • What could I share something that would make their life better?
    • How can I share it in a way that would be fun? Recipes? Tips?  
  • Approach your audience like you would research for a book character. 
    • Who are they? What do they need? Want? What matters to them? When you find the answers, share them with your online audience. 
  • Build a community within your community. 
    • Cindy recommends starting with six people who support each other by retweeting, regramming, and sharing online information. 
Cindy acknowledged the apprehension most writers feel about marketing, but to quote author Joanne Kraft, Not all marketing people are writers, but all writers must learn to be marketers. 

Thank you, Cindy, for sharing your marketing insight and helping the San Fernando Valley LitMinglers learn how to have FUNwhile marketing their craft.

Note: The San Fernando Valley LitMingle will be on summer break in July and August. San Fernando Valley Monthly LitMingles will resume Monday, September 26. For more details about this, and other SCBWI LitMingles, check out the SCBWI LitMingle Calendar.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Have you ever wanted to take a peek inside award winning author, Neil Gaiman's library? I have, too. Here a are a couple of pictures, but for more, check out this link. To actually see the books in his library, take a look at the over 600 shelves on Neil Gaiman's Shelfari's virtual bookshelf.

Shelfari_Gaiman_Bookshelves_Downstairs_DSC_2506
Now THIS is my idea of a home library!
Take a Peek Inside Neil Gaiman's Library
Even with all this, he still has books stacked on top of each other. 

Take a Peek Inside Neil Gaiman's Library
Love the library cat!
I wonder if he has a librarian on staff to manage his library. 
Have you ever seen a home library like this one? Would you want to own one?


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

M.I.A.


You may have noticed that I've been M.I.A. the past two weeks. Fortunately, I'm okay, but my blogging schedule isn't. I've been so busy reading, revising, coordinating a Mingle, and managing the tyranny of the urgency of life, I haven't had (or made) the time to shoot out a blog post or two. Not that it's not always in the back of  my mind, it is. I just can't seem to make/find the time to commit to it as I have in the past. I think it might have to do with having two non-driving, but heavily committed to extracurricular activities teens in the house. With that said, I've come to a conclusion... I can't be here every week. 

Unlike so many who have gone before me, I am not giving up blogging completely, but I won't be here weekly as I have in the past. I will be here as often as I can and especially when I see something that strikes my fancy as a must share, but other than that, I'll just have to see you around the blogosphere. I hope you understand and continue to stop by when I'm here, but if you don't or can't, Thank You for sticking with me all this time. I look forward to keeping in touch and hope we can still be friends since...


Until next time because...


Are you still blogging with the same speed, passion, and ferocity as you always have? What's your secret?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


It's the first Wednesday of the month time for another IWSG post where we writers help each other deal with our insecurities. A warm thank you to Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his team of Ninjas for January for providing writer's a safe and supportive format to speak openly, and without fear, about the insecurities that come with the craft of writing. Be sure to check out the  IWSG Facebook page where writers can garner support more than once a month. You can learn more about IWSG, or join in the IWSG fun, here.

Mark Twain is credited with saying, “We write frankly and fearlessly but then we "modify" before we print.” I don't have a problem with the writing frankly and fearlessly part, it's the modifying that's seems to be holding me back. 

I'm pretty sure I've asked this question before, as it's always on my mind, but how do you know when your story is really done? I mean reeaaally know. When is it the final, final draft? I keep writing that final draft, only to have to revise, which then makes it another first draft, right? So does one ever get a final draft that's not a first draft because it's been revised from it's original final draft?

Take me for example, (since I am the one writing this post) I've finished my WIP several times. Yet each time I pass it on to a Beta reader, I get it back with notes, suggestions, and things that need to be fixed. So, I work on those things and repeat the process. Only to have the same thing happen. It's like I'm stuck in some sort of temporal loop where the modifying never ends. I've heard the "You just know," speech many times, but truth be told... I don't know. I think I do, but based on the feedback I get, I don't. I've also heard the, "You just need to put it out there," speech, too. Isn't that what giving it to the Beta readers is? It's like I don't have a story, I have a boomerang! 

Okay, that's my honest writing insecurity for the first month of 2016-- that I will always be modifying. I am hopeful that is not the case, but I'm fearful that it may be. Either way, as my WIP is out with a few Beta readers right now, I'm pretty sure the next few months will be spent modifying. 


What are your writing insecurities? Are you revising your WIP? Is it a boomerang, too?


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Booking My New Year's Resolutions



Each year I read a lot of books that touch my life. This year I've decided to allow some of those books help me make my resolutions for 2016.
  1. Start a small garden - My mom gave me some seeds so I think I'll toss them in the ground and see if I can have the same success as Jack and the Beanstalk.
  2. Continue The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - My progress has been slow due to a summer filled with home improvement projects, but I'm in love with the few areas I have managed to tidy up.
  3. Plan more outings for my kids with their nana - Even though she doesn't live in the city, like the nana in Nana in the City, she was very successful in teaching her four kids how to be brave and I want my kids to have share in more of her Nana magic this year
  4. Make more time for my friends - Although as far as I know none of my friends are having the life force sucked out of them by an Evil Librarian, I want to make more time for them just in case. 
  5. Give myself permission to quit - Sometimes there are days when I'm overwhelmed and can't take it anymore. This year I won't keep pushing myself to frustration, I'll just leave a note, like the crayons in The Day the Crayons Quit, and take the day off. 
  6. Focus on my strengths - Like Rose in Rain Reign, I want to discover my hidden strengths and let them move me forward throughout 2016.
Have you thought about your resolutions for 2016? Do any of them have to do with the books you've read? Are there any books you would like to add to this list? 


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Recently I saw an image on Facebook that made me laugh out loud. I know, I know...



I should be writing not on Facebook but we all know what happens if you don't make time to play...


Since it was a writing meme it made me laugh even harder which reminded me of this quote...

So, here's the Shel Silverstein meme that brought laughter to my day. Along with a few more that will hopefully bring laughter to yours.



When you discover that first draft isn't as brilliant as you thought...


Some days are fun, but others....


In honor of the Awakening Force...


Because I love coffee and I would really LOVE to have a housekeeper.


And finally, because this explains it all...


How do you manage to find laughter in your days?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


It's the first Wednesday of the month time for another IWSG post where we writers help each other deal with our insecurities. A warm thank you to Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his team of Ninjas for November, Sandra Hoover, Mark Koopmans, Doreen McGettigan, Megan Morgan, and Melodie Campbell, for providing writer's a safe and supportive format to speak openly, and without fear, about the insecurities that come with the craft of writing. Be sure to check out the IWSG Facebook page where writers can garner support more than once a month. You can learn more about IWSG, or join in the IWSG fun, here.

After having a month off my biggest insecurity is wondering if I'll be able to jump back in the blogging saddle again. I'm already off to a slow start posting my IWSG blog post this late. However, late is better than never, and since I'm here, I might as well jump. I have a lot of catching up to do, so I better get started. See you around the blogosphere!

What are your insecurities this month? Are you having trouble staying in your blogging saddle? 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Gone Revising



I've been trying to avoid this post for the last few weeks, but alas, the time has come to take a sabbatical so I can focus on finishing this revision. It's not that I don't love all of you, I do, it's just that John Burroughs is right...


I have a deadline that I will meet, so I look forward to catching up with all of you for the December ISWG. Until then I'll just...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015



The technique of making things worse for your character is a running theme in the writing process. It is what we need to make the reader worry and care about the character, but when we love our characters, hurting them is hard to do. Yet, when we read a true story of struggle and victory it inspires us.

As you look for more meaningful ways to Throw rocks at your character, I thought you might find inspiration in the story of Michaela DePrince, Orphan Number 27. Her saga reminds us that even in real life when rocks are thrown, victory can come and make way for one to be Mighty.





Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG


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It's the first Wednesday of the month time for another IWSG post where we writers help each other deal with our insecurities. A warm thank you to Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his team of Ninjas for October... 


...for providing writer's a safe and supportive format to speak openly, and without fear, about the insecurities that come with the craft of writing. Be sure to check out the IWSG Facebook page where writers can garner support more than once a month. You can learn more about IWSG, or join in the IWSG fun, here.

In months like these, when Murphy's Law seems to be in FULL effect,mI like to post quotes that inspire me to go on despite all the voices that tell me not too. If you're having a Murphy Month, too, read on to refill your motivation motor. 












I'm sure it will all blow over in a day, week, month or so, but until then, I'll have to remind to do this...



How are you doing this month? Are you wrestling with the effects of Murphy's law? What quote, person, experience, keeps you putting one foot in front of the other?



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

As a writer, I am a firm believer that books have the power to change lives. Right now I'm reading one that I hope will do just that for me. It's a book I stumbled upon in the cruise ship library. After reading a few chapters I became intrigued by the idea of tidying up for once and for all. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo has a unique approach on how we view our possessions. She believes that the reason we are in a constant state of tidying and re-tidying is because we never really learned the true magic of tidying up. Check out a few of her thoughts on the process:
  • When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too.
  • Most people associate the word “rebound” with dieting, but when they hear it used in the context of tidying, it still makes sense.
  • The ultimate secret of success is this: If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set.
  • When people revert to clutter no matter how much they tidy, it is not their room or their belongings but their way of thinking that is at fault.
  • If you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time, you’ll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space in order ever after.