Saturday, August 23, 2014

Should My Work Be Branded?

Hi. folks, this week is a response blog to Janet Lee Carey's post "I am not a brand."  For more on this topic, check out a manifesto statement from Maureen Johnson. 

This is another meandering post.  I felt fire and pain while writing this one. I will wander here some. I hope that something strikes a chord.

Branding is a human activity. We are inherently drawn to symbols. We slap them on everything from our faith to our hamburgers. A good brand offers a clear message. It also offers assurance you will receive a similar experience with branded products. A good brand will also stir up a targeted audience emotionally, will motivate a customer to place money on the counter, and will bring back customers again and again.

Here's a question I circle around. Should my work be branded?

On the surface, it seems to make sense. A book is a commodity. It's sold at the store with a publishing brand stamped on the book's spine. Beyond this, authors who offer readers similar fare time and time again usually find the most success. If the author writes one thriller, then writes ten more, that usually attracts a greater readership. The writer will have to tend that stream of content for a lifetime. Hey, this is a business, folks.

Branding helps writers stand out in the marketplace. So, authors, get in line. Learn the formulas. Refine your message and sell it! Be all bossy and pushy about that message. Hog every stage. What you have to say is the most important thing. To Market!

Sigh. Do you ever think you were born into the wrong world? The problem with "comodifiying" the story journey and branding imagination is this for me: We are all quicksilver. You can't really pin us down.  We shift and change on you. We are fickle. We are not who we were yesterday. We will not be the same tomorrow. If I go all branding on myself, instead of being who I am, I ditch who I am. Not okay.

For me storytelling is an ancient human art. This art circles around two questions: Who are we? What do we want?  These are the two things you own in this life. No degradation can put out the spark of you. Your hunger for what you want will cause you to risk everything. You may have to join a team who dared to have a dream and ended up martyred. But take to heart, they shaped the future.

Storytelling is too precious to mankind to force it into the branding mold. I'm with a little band of others that hop and holler, "Your heart, that's the holy ground! It sure is! Here is a lodestone for you." That said, we have no intention of sparing your feelings. We understand suffering has a purpose.We are immersed in the life-saving art of creating lodestones for the human heart, story maps that will help readers navigate through the rough seas of their lives.

A great book sets you on a journey toward your true north. It will turn you away from stupidity. It will rattle your cage. It will break your bonds. It will help you understand your days. It will help you find your best possible self. No question!

I hope you create something priceless. If you get some money for that, well, people need to eat. If you don't get money for it, well, people don't live on bread alone.

Peace.

Here is a doodle for you.

and a quote for your pocket from the great poet Bob Dylan:

Come writers and critics who prophesy with your pen
And keep your eyes wide the chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who that it's namin'
For the loser now will be later to win.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Vulnerability

Howdy, folks: Plumb Crazy is coming out in paperback. I'm celebrating with the Book and Boots giveaway. Enter to win a signed Plumb Crazy and $100 Gift Card to Cavender's Authentic Western Wear. Follow this link of details. http://tinyurl.com/mv2ku8y.  I so greatly appreciate the support that has come my way for Plumb Crazy, and thank you  all for every tweet, mention and, of course, every ebook you have purchased.

This week, I'm going to offer a rambling chat about vulnerability. I came by the knowledge of vulnerability through a difficult journey that involved a lot of shame and fear. I'm going to sort of wander here. Perhaps one of my twists or turns will be what you need. 

My vulnerability story goes like this. Once upon a time, I used to dream, hope, and pine that I would write stories that would capture the entire world. I also desired this feeling that I was connecting work with others and being true to my art. But I was a coin with two sides. I also wanted to be wildly successful, to make enough money to help my kids go to college, to see my books on the shelves of stores across the world, to see my name on the lists of favorite books, and to see shiny stickers on my books. 

I worked hard and made no sales. I was so far from the coin; there are no words for the shame and fear I felt and that I caused others around me to suffer. It was stupid and awful. One day I realized I could basically write anything and shoved my art to the back of my desk and wielded my craft. The purpose was to make some money. I mean every $30 is a pair of blue jeans, a meal out for my family, or a chance day at the beach. I went about writing books like a business and that did lead to publication, but also to a  terrible discomfort and uneasiness that I was somehow missing the boat of myself. I went on like this for a decade, but then began to back away from the blue jean work.  

I don't know what to say except that losing my art was like losing myself. Art has to be like the morning bird song for me. It must be the vastness of the universe. It must  be the twinkle in a eye. For me, art can't be about making money. This makes me want to curse a little.  Money allows for vacations, extras, and freedom. I also  live in a society that the measuring stick of success is fame and fortune. Yet, art infuses me with worthiness. Losing the extras has been hard, gaining an internal sense of worth has been priceless.  

I turned 50 this week and here is a true confession. I've felt like a failure for much of my adult life because I've focused on the negative about myself. I've felt deep shame because I suck at so many things that many find success at. I suck greatly at making money, like I was born into a world that put its foot on my neck and laughed at me because I didn't have a chance in hell. My shame has gone deep. I also suck at academia. I've been so ashamed of this. Many of my friends are so freaking bright and pick up degrees like those things grow on the side of the road. I have always struggled in school. I was lucky to get a B.A. I was the bottom of my class. I do learn, but not the "right way." I think the education world is a lot like the business world, not my forte. 

Also with 50, I've embraced the good about me. I'm a good helper, and I dwell in a place where I create for the joy of creating and nothing more.  A few writers are privileged in this life with the opportunity to make connection and money. I used to be green with envy about that fact. That has faded away. I am happy for all the art that binds us together.  The binding is a group effort. My stitches count. I am as sure of this as gravity. Here is the way I see it. Time to strip naked and stand on the edge of the road. My form may not capture the interest of many.  Many, many people might pass me by. I'm holding my head high. Every little thing shines. It does. 

So in my vulnerability, I hope you read Plumb Crazy because it is part of me, the depths of me on a page, and that on those pages that you might find part of yourself. I have found myself on the pages of books many times. I hope that you laugh when you read my pages because every giggle, chuckle, and smile is part of why I am here. I didn't follow the rules when I wrote Plumb Crazy. I followed my heart. Writing for me is a joy. There is something so uplifting about finding the voice of a story and then spinning out a tale that it brings tears and laughter and a feeling of spread wings and flying. Seek it. 

I'm working harder to follow my heart now than ever before. I am trying to add to the ancient paths of story, and I hope that my efforts inspire you. I hope that you join me in prayer and thoughts that I will find good places to share my gifts. Be vulnerable. 

I will be back next week with more thoughts. 

Here is a great TED talk from Brene Brown about vulnerability.   This is really about the journey of your life.  

Here is a doodle for your enjoyment.

Here is a quote for your pocket. I hope you write the greatest poem. 

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.  Walt Whitman

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Handwriting and the Creative Process and Book Tour Recap

Hi folks, it is getting crazy hot here. Over a 100. Whew!  Welcome to my little corner of the interwebs.

Did you know that PLUMB CRAZY is coming out in paperback?  I'm celebrating! Enter to win the Plumb Crazy Book and Boots Giveaway. Book and $100 Gift Card to Cavenders:.tinyurl.com/mv2ku8y.

This week I offer a gem to help you with the creative process. I can't do all my work on the computer, Handwriting plays an important part in my creative process. I have to write the things by hand and don't expect something linear and neat. Expect bubbles with ideas, doodles of flowers and geometric shapes, half finished lists, freewrites, graphs, charts, me grousing about how hard it is to write books, pages of lame ideas, and lists of marketing ideas too.

I can't think any of this stuff on the computer, but I can think it on paper. I believe all this stuff happens in handwriting because I am bringing my style and individuality to the shape of the words. This added dimension opens wellsprings within. If you are struggling with moving forward with a creative project, grab a sheet of paper and a pen you really like and pour out your thoughts! You might be surprised.

I will continue this month with gems of creative wisdom.  My doodle and quote are at the end. First a recap of the book tour!



Plumb Crazy Book Tour Recap!

Fun stuff

The PLUMB CRAZY playlist - Victoria Simcox's Blog - http://ow.ly/zSdHS
You can listen to it on Youtube - http://ow.ly/zSdHS!

The Plumb Crazy Dream Cast! -The Avid Reader - http://ow.ly/zSgpj

Mitch's Profile! -- Book Club Sisters - http://ow.ly/zSf99
Mitch wins Book Boyfriend of the Week! - Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://ow.ly/zShqN
Wherein I Interview my character Mitch! - The Written Adventure - http://ow.ly/zSfS2

Author Interview! -- Kelly P's Blog - http://ow.ly/zSeo9
Wherein I share a true writer's journey - Writers' Connection - http://ow.ly/zSg7q
My Five Favorite Movies - My Love for Reading Keeps Growing - http://ow.ly/A8VxH

Tour Reviews

***** Review - Books Are Love -- http://ow.ly/A8YCc  and  http://ow.ly/A8Z0B
**** Review- kimberlyfaye reads - http://ow.ly/A8VXV
**** Review - Book Boyfriend - http://ow.ly/A8VSh
***½ Review - My Devotional Thoughts - http://ow.ly/A8WlS
*** Review  - Books, books, and more books - http://ow.ly/zSfEZ

Here is a doodle for you to enjoy! "Lone Tree"


A quote for your pocket:

Life is short. Art long. Opportunity is fleeting. Experience treacherous. Judgement difficult. Geoffrey Chaucer  (The Assembly of Fowles, line 1)

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Professional Writer Checklist and The Plumb Crazy Book Tour

Howdy, folks! Summertime, and I'm off to watch the Houston Astros take down the Toronto Blue Jays. This is one of those high stakes, nation vs. nation games.

I'm still  celebrating the book tour. I'm running a giveaway with my book tour, and I hope that you will consider entering. It's in the sidebar. Win a signed copy of the book and $100 gift certificate to Cavender's.

I offer the professional writer checklist.  Lots of people want to be professional writers. I'm going to hand out the game plan. Here are ten steps to professional writer .

1. Write every day.  Yes, professional writers must write. (I usually write 2- 4 hours a day, five days a week.)
2. Create an office.  Professionals have offices
3. Take all paying gigs. This one comes with a commandment. Thou shalt not sneer at any paying gig  like menus, tweets, content farms, technical manuals, wfh, basal readers, etc.." Anyone who looks down on this stuff is not a professional, he or she is a hobbyist.
4. Make specific, achievable long term and short term goals.
5. Network with your peers regularly. (Critique groups, conferences, professional organizations, etc.)
6. Join the social media circus. (website, Facebook, Twitter, bloggers, tumblr, etc...)
7. Keep accurate financial records.
8. Buy some business cards.
9. Invest in a printer that can spit mega pages in a short period of time. (Weird, but needed.)
10. Profess you are a professional writer to anyone who asks. (Never belittle yourself, not in self talk, not to others.)

Ta-da, you are a professional writer.  The doodle and quote are at the end.


Here is the tour schedule!
July 28
Elva'a Profile! -- Shooting Stars Reviews - http://ow.ly/zSd3d 

July 29:
The PLUMB CRAZY playlist -- Victoria Simcox's Blog  - http://ow.ly/zSdHS  
You can listen to it on Youtube-- http://ow.ly/zSdHS!
Author Interview! -- Kelly P's Blog -  http://ow.ly/zSeo9 -

July 30:
Mitch's Profile! -- Book Club Sisters - http://ow.ly/zSf99
Review! Books, books, and more books - http://ow.ly/zSfEZ  

July 31:
Author Interviews Mitch! - The Written Adventure - http://ow.ly/zSfS2 

August 1:
Author's Writing Journey! - My Writers' Connection - http://ow.ly/zSg7q  
The Plumb Crazy Dream Cast! -The Avid Reader - http://ow.ly/zSgpj
Mitch wins Book Boyfriend of the Week! -  Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://ow.ly/zShqN  

August 4:
Review- kimberlyfaye reads - http://kimberlyfayereads.com 

August 5:
Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://www.bookboyfriendreview.blogspot.com – Review
My Love for Reading Keeps Growing - http://readingisoneofmypassions.blogspot.com/ 

August 6:
My Devotional Thoughts - http://mydevotionalthoughts.net – Review
books are love – www.hello-booklover.tumblr.com - Review

August 7:
Flirting With Fiction - www.flirtyfiction.net - Review
Plain Talk Book Marketing - http://www.plaintalkbm.com

August 8:
Little Whimsy Books - http://littlewhimsybooks.tk - Review

Here is a doodle!  "Roses"


And a quote for your pocket:
A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn't feel like it. Alistair Cooke

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Gem of Wisdom and Plumb Crazy Book Tour

Summer is upon us. We are in the high 90s here!  I have been, oh, so busy getting ready for the book tour. Info is below but I want to give you some gem of wisdom to help you on your creative journey. 

Here is something I believe. You must try. Do you remember the story of The Little Engine that Could. I find that story to be a bit of baloney. If you are on the right track, giving it your all, yes, you might succeed. But there is no way to tell if your on the right track, or if the track has been knocked out ahead, or if you basically aren't a train. That said, you must try anyway.  

An absolute truth: you will never be disappointed in yourself if you give it your all and come in last or don't even complete the task. In fact you will get up, dust yourself off and try something else. Your failure will teach you things you will need for when you are on the right track. You will never regret try with your whole heart.  

Please also check out this post. The hardest thing I've ever written. Please check out my Dear Teen Me blog.   I write a letter to younger self. After you read the blog please consider donating to the Alzheimer's Association. 

PLUMB CRAZY will be out as paperback soon. I ask you to support my work -- buy a copy, share the news, request the book at your library, ask me to blog for you. Thank you.

Watch here! I will have a giveaway beginning on July 28th. The entry period will be until August 28th.  Fun times ahead. Considering entering my PLUMB CRAZY Book and Boots Giveaway! Win a signed copy of PLUMB CRAZY and a $100 Cavender's Gift Certificate (toward boots) -- US ONLY.


Here is the Plumb Crazy Book Tour Schedule:  I interview my characters, share the Plumb Crazy playlist and much more. Follow the tour on Twitter at @MollyBlaisdell! Or on my Facebook page.

Shooting Stars Reviews - http://shootingstarsreviews.blogspot.com
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! - http://3partnersinshopping.blogspot.com 

July 29:
Victoria Simcox's Blog  - http://victoriasimcox.blogspot.com/ 
Seeing Night Reviews - http://seeingnight.blogspot.ca/ - Review
Kelly P's Blog - http://kellyatx.blogspot.com/ 

July 30:
Books, books, and more books - http://deerereadergirl.wordpress.com - Review

July 31:

August 1:
My Writers' Connection - http://MyWritersConnection.com 
The Avid Reader - http://the-avidreader.blogspot.com – Dream Cast

August 4:
kimberlyfaye reads - http://kimberlyfayereads.com - Review

August 5:
Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://www.bookboyfriendreview.blogspot.com – Review
My Love for Reading Keeps Growing - http://readingisoneofmypassions.blogspot.com/ 

August 6:
My Devotional Thoughts - http://mydevotionalthoughts.net – Review
books are love – www.hello-booklover.tumblr.com - Review

August 7:
Flirting With Fiction - www.flirtyfiction.net - Review
Plain Talk Book Marketing - http://www.plaintalkbm.com

August 8:
Little Whimsy Books - http://littlewhimsybooks.tk - Review


I will end with my Star Wars doodle:



And the quote that goes with it. 



Yoda was wrong. Try there is. Molly Blaisdell