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Be unexpected

When you tell people you're a romance author, what's their reaction? Do they giggle and blush? Do they ask why you'd want to write that? Do they laugh you off? Or do they look you up and down asking where your feather boa is?
 We romance authors have a very interesting stigma attached to our occupation. People have expectations that don't involve business suits, let alone business minds. Which is really ironic when you think about how romance authors have led the self publishing revolution and really found a new way to get our books into the hands of our readers...but I'm getting side tracked.

People expect us to look a certain way. A certain, sexy, way. Because, after all, we write about sex. We talk about it. We drag all those fantasies front and center and tell people that they're okay.  So, we must know what we're talking about, right? We must look like this:
Us and the phone sex operators.  We all shop at the same stores, right?

Here's a dirty little secret: we are a sexy bunch of people. Not because we've got cleavage hanging out of our suit jackets, but because of our minds. We dare to imagine. We dare to believe. And since we do, we sparkle in a way that doesn't have anything to do with our tiaras or vampires. (Notice that I didn't say we don't own tiaras, but that the sparkle in our eye isn't only because of them)

We are beautiful. We are smart and we are strong. And we deserve much more respect than our reputation brings us.
But it's okay. We're not going to make a big deal about it. We'll just sit here in our bunny slippers, quill in our hand, and pen our next novel. It might never win national awards, it may not inspire world peace or change the political climate, but we're happy. And because we're happy, our readers are happy.

And our bunny slippers are damn sexy.  Unexpected? Yes. That's what makes us so much fun.

Look for the helpers

Unless you've been living under a rock, in a complete black out the past couple of days, you know that the Boston Marathon was the target of a sick person (or people) who decided to target the crowd. In the moments after the attack my twitter and facebook feeds blew up. I sat in horror and tried to process what had happened, mind running through the names of the people I know who run marathons and mentally taking a roll call of where each of my friends were in the world.

Moments later the words of one of my childhood "friends" started echoing across the internet. That friend was Mr. Fred Rogers. And he was reminding us to look for the helpers.
Now, two days later, the horror of what's happened hasn't lessened. I've answered my children's questions as honestly as I know how, simply saying I don't know when my nine year old asked my how a person could do that to all those innocent people. I reminded my five year old to look for the helpers, not only now, but whenever he feels scared. And, as only a child can do, he brought it all down to his little world, asking me if the books I write have helpers.
I can only hope that my fictional heroes will bring justice to the men and women who go out every day and run towards the danger, rather than running away. Those who will place themselves, literally, between an innocent and a threat. Those people, some of whom wear a uniform, some who dress like you and me, deserve so much more recognition than I can ever give them, either in this blog post or future books.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you helpers out there.

Branding Buzz

According to the online dictionary, the definition of brand is as follows:

a : a charred piece of wood
b : firebrand 1
c : something (as lightning) that resembles a firebrand
: sword
(1) : a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership (2) : a printed mark made for similar purposes : trademark
(1) : a mark put on criminals with a hot iron (2) : a mark of disgrace : stigma <the brand of poverty>
a : a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer : make
b : a characteristic or distinctive kind <a lively brand of theater>
c : brand name 2
: a tool used to produce a brand

I don't know about a charred piece of wood or a sword, but I admit that I'm still a Montana girl at heart and I always think of a cattle brand first when I hear the word brand. 

But, it's one of those buzz words that we all hear all the time. Developing our brand, creating a brand-and I'm pretty sure they aren't talking about the steel branding iron above (at least I hope not). 
So, the question is, what makes a brand memorable?
Finding something that will catch the attention of editors and agents while we're pitching. Something that our readers will be able to identify immediately as us. Something that everyone else isn't doing.

I'm working on designing an image for my Skyhawk Security books. It's so much more difficult than I ever imagined. My artistic ability doesn't expend as much towards the art art stuff...this is a painful lesson I'm learning. LOL Hopefully I'll come up with something by the time the books are available for public consumption.

Tell me about some of your favorite brand images.


One is the loneliest number...

I hear a lot about how writing is an introverted activity, how writers feel solitary and how a lot of that is by choice.

This has always made me feel like something of an outcast. See, I've met some AMAZING people through my writing. I've been mentored, encouraged and engaged.  I can't talk about other people's endeavors but for me, writing opened up a whole new world of friendships and peers.

I'll start by talking about Sabrina York...mostly because she will get upset if I don't.  Sabrina has been here before, talking about one of her books. I can't remember if she said it or not, but she's been published for a year. Fifteen titles in the past YEAR. Can you believe it?  Today is the anniversary of her first release, so as a thank you to all her fans...and those who want to be fans but haven't discovered her yet, she's offering her first self published title, Rebound, for free on Amazon.
Get it here.
I met Sabrina through our local RWA chapter and by volunteering for the Emerald City Writers' Conference, which she was chairing at the time. We've dragged our husbands to dinner, where they sit and listen to us chatter about everything...
This is a friendship I treasure...even if she doesn't give me any bling in her give aways. (There will be more giveaways today to celebrate too.) Go to her website or track her down on Facebook...tell her I sent you.

Another wonderful friendship developed in the same way is the amazing Anna Alexander.  Anna released her first book the same day Sabrina did. Talk about thick as thieves   Anna writes about erotic super heroes.  Freakin' YUMMY!  And, she's the only person I know who has been told that something she wrote was TOO HOT for Ellora's Cave.  I can't make this up!
Anna took me on as her assistant, introduced me to everyone and showed me how a smile can win over the worst critic.

I owe these women so much. For their smiles, laughter and friendship I thank them more than I can express. And I never would have met them had I not stepped out of my writing cave.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to introduce you to a few other friends who have held my hand at times and always been encouraging.

More soon,