J. F. Penn is one of indie publishing’s mega-stars.
By: Kathleen Pickering http://www.kathleenpickering.com
Author Plug: Want to put your finger on the pulse of the writing world? Attend writing conferences. The latest? Graphic Novels.
While at the Romantic Times Convention in Chicago last month, I attended a workshop on Graphic Novels with notable panelists such as Gregg Hurwitz, Heather Graham, F. Paul Wilson and Jade Lee. Romance author and graphic novelist, Anne Elizabeth, moderated the panel. Quite a line-up of professionals to talk about something as juvenile as comic books, wouldn’t you say?
Let me tell you, the Crash! Boom! Blam! about graphic novels and the impact they are having on the industry opened my eyes faster than a speeding bullet.
Snooping around the Internet, I discovered that as far back as 2005, librarians have espoused the benefits of graphic novels as educational tools in schools and libraries.
In an article written by Leslie Bussert, an ethics/humanities librarian at the University of Washington, Bussert stated, “Comic books and graphic novels are becoming two of the most pervasive and influential media forms of popular culture. Placed within the context of changing society, comic books and graphic novels entertain and educate, but they have also been instrumental in documenting and interpreting social, historical, and current events.”
Comics and graphic novels are proving to be great tools for students to analyze character development, dialogue and language structures. Combine these with visual elements and readers are presented with a multi-variable art form that stimulates the imagination more than just the written word.
Granted, some graphic novels may be too graphic for some folks to digest. Lots of concerned parents feel this way. The issue against graphic novels has been so strong that the American Library Association distributed materials to librarians on how to defend graphic novels in public libraries. Just like going to the movies, parents must take an active role in their children’s entertainment consumption. Concern like this shows how powerful comics and graphic novels are in reaching their readers.
From an author standpoint, writing graphic novels is like screenwriting on steroids. Where a screenwriter must distill the salient points of his story to about 95 pages, a graphic novelist must reduce his story to snippets and still keep the plot powerful with artwork that will say more than words, all within perhaps 30 pages, or less.
The panelists at the RT workshop provided wonderful insights to this genre. Two points that I found fascinating were that, one, they found working with graphic artists in creating their stories an incredible inspiration during the creation process. And, two, they insisted that not only was creating graphic novels a whole lot of fun, the genre is becoming an excellent and profitable spin-off for novel writing.
Our culture is devouring graphic media, as evident not only in comics and graphic novels, but on the silver screen. The Batman, Spiderman, Superman series have been crowding movie theaters for years. Now, with the Avengers series focusing on all the Super heroes, comics-gone-movies are block busters.
I heard that in comparing first sales, The Avengers outsold Harry Potter in the opening weekend. That says much about the allure of comics and graphic novels.
The TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer has gone graphic novel. Classical greats, such as Shakespeare and Jane Austen’s, Sense and Sensibility, can now be found as graphic novels.
Are graphic novels another venue for the writer to consider? Absolutely. I can see turning my Mythological Sam series into graphic media down the road. Actually, since attending this workshop, graphic media has become another benchmark for my publishing plan. I wouldn’t have thought of it had I not attended this workshop.
How about you? Do you like graphic media? Do you see graphic novels as a part of your writing future?
By Kathleen Pickering http://www.kathleenpickering.com
Saw The Hunger Games this weekend.
Wished I had not.
You know when Joe Hartlaub last blogged about addiction, it set my mind going on how addicted we are as a culture. (For example, I’ll bet you know EXACTLY where your cell phone is.)
I’m thinking folks don’t quite realize how over-stimulated we are. And, how for the love of another dopamine rush, we may be sacrificing human dignity for entertainment.
Movies and videos with their cinematography are so amazing these days that graphic portrayals can be so very vivid and real.
They overload the retinas with sparkly, colorful, gorgeous or gruesome, oversized images. These images excite our receptors causing a chemical reaction in the brain of either excitement, pleasure or fear.
After a while, the baseline for tolerance rises and we need more stimulus just to maintain the status quo. What can we create to bring the next thrill level in our entertainment? We chatter about books, movies, video games and crave more, and more and more.
The subjects we choose for audio/visual absorption directly relate to the heightened physiological surges we experience.
Man, oh, man, while viewing The Hunger Games I realized I’d reached my limit. I just couldn’t stomach watching beautiful young men and women accepting the order to kill each other for entertainment’s sake.
I had a really hard time with the premise of kids forced to kill or be killed. Harry Potter is fantasy. Twilight is fantasy. Walking Dead is fantasy. Avatar is fantasy—with a message against war/greed/bigotry through animation. (I LOVE James Cameron’s work.)
Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games is a parody of humanity gone animal. Fully Ego driven. Get them before they get you. Control the masses by entertaining them with the deaths of others while viewers thank their lucky stars it wasn’t them—this year.
Sorry. My visual absorption hit overload.
I’m not into censoring or anything. But, as writers, screenwriters, etc., I think we have an obligation regarding the topics we choose to call entertainment. I just wish we would stop cannibalizing humanity for entertainment’s sake.
Folks say The Hunger Games is a lesson in ensuring we never allow too much government. I say, bull****. Kids aren’t seeing a political message as much as they are wondering if their world–now and in the future–is really safe.
Will The Hunger Games motivate them to be better human beings, or ignite their craving for more ‘shock’ stimulation, whether they know it or not? (Anybody remember Lord of the Flies? Didn’t see any huge social shift from that one, either.)
Suzanne Collins’s suggestion of our culture accepting sanctioned murder as ‘reality’ entertainment loosely disguised as political control triggered a profound sense of shame for me. I can not believe that after these thousands of years we still haven’t left the coliseum. All to stimulate our addiction. Our sense of thrill. The adrenaline or dopamine rush to escape . . . what?
I’ll be the first to say I’m a movie addict. I love the stimulation. I love the art and craft of creating words into visuals. I crave the opportunity to lose myself in make-believe worlds. But, after watching The Hunger Games—despite the fact that the acting was excellent, I think I need Stimulus-Anonymous. I’ve hit rock bottom with this one. My psyche and my soul can’t take anymore.
I’m going out to sit in the sun for awhile . . . soak in the fresh, tropical air. Meditate.
Because I know it’s only a matter of time before I get over the shock from The Hunger Games. The TV will announce the release of another heart-stopping movie. I will resist at first, but not much. I will put on my jeans and perfume, take my glasses and get to the movies early enough to catch all the upcoming trailers before my next thrill hits the silver screen. And, sadly enough, I won’t even need popcorn.
How about you?
It’s Winter break here at the Kill Zone. During our 2-week hiatus, we’ll be spending time with our families and friends, and celebrating all the traditions that make this time of year so wonderful. We sincerely thank you for visiting our blog and commenting on our rants and raves. We wish you a truly blessed Holiday Season and a prosperous 2012. From Clare, Kathryn, Kathleen, Joe M., Nancy, Michelle, Jordan, John G., Joe H., John M., and James to all our friends and visitors, Seasons Greeting from the Kill Zone.
See you back here on Monday, January 2.
By Kathleen Pickering http://www.kathleenpickering.com/
Jack Canfield spoke on one of Steve Harrison’s marketing webinars on “How to get from where you are to where you want to be.” Listening and taking notes, I couldn’t help but nod like one of those spring-neck dolls in the back window of a California low-rider and think, “This plan can work!”
Most everyone has heard that Canfield’s first Chicken Soup book was rejected 144 times. He also didn’t mind sharing that he’d maxed out his credit cards up to an impressive $400,000 to get his business off the ground. Now, I don’t feel so badly about my marketing debt!
Jack said his success turned around when he applied a marketing mindset to his book sales. By thinking like a marketer, Jack Canfield achieved resounding success. He has sold millions of copies of his books, and enjoys huge notoriety as an author and motivational speaker.
Jack’s webinar was loaded with advice from which I’ve culled ten tips for success by thinking like a marketer. While much of this advice works especially well for non-fiction or how-to books, Canfield’s advice can be tailored for fiction, as well. Here goes:
1. People remember stories. Telling stories is emotional Velcro to the mind. When promoting your book, introduce it with a background story, i.e., the inspiration behind the work, obstacles to publications, happy endings. A story gives your listeners insight to you, your process and gives them the opportunity to become proactive in your success by buying your book.
2. Have a mission behind your work, i.e., why you’ve written your book. Canfield’s Chicken Soup series were written to inspire and empower people to live their highest vision to achieve their personal goals through body and soul. Why do you write your books?
3. Decide to deserve to succeed and EXPECT success, including personal satisfaction as well as monetary growth.
4. DREAM HUGE! For whatever we dream, our subconscious will begin to seek solutions. Can you imagine? What a simple, yet great tool for achieving success.
5. Visualize your goal. Make print-outs of your dream and paste them all over the place! Visualize book stores with only YOUR book plastered in the windows. Jack’s efforts ended up with Chicken Soup for the Soul books having their own section in book stores! Here are more tools for visualization:
– Use vision boards — put them on your screen saver. (Here’s a link to creating vision boards on my website: Kathleen’s Vision Boards)
– Next, use affirmations. Speak out loud positive statements such as, “I am so joyful and happy that I am making millions of dollars a day using my God-given talent to make the world more aware of their relationship as ONE with each other and our Creator.” (This is Jack’s affirmation. What would yours be?)
6. Take ACTION on your IDEAS. Others may have the same thoughts but only a few will act. ACTION brings success.
7. Live your gratitude for your success:
– You can be a go-getter or a go-giver! Be a go-giver! Use the motivation of wanting to give the best for your reader. (Back to the idea of writing a GREAT book. You can’t market junk!)
– Identify a charity to receive a portion of proceeds for all books written. Put that charity in the back of the book. When you give these organizations recognize you and help you market your product.
– Give away chapters from your book.
– Give away articles about/from your book.
– Give FREE talks. Speak to different churches, chambers of commerce, libraries, schools.
8. Become a Joiner. Join associations and pay dues. Your exposure is well worth the expense to be around other professionals in your field where you can network. You never know who you will meet who has a solution to one of your goals. (This just happened for me at the NINC conference in Tampa. While chatting with a man about social media marketing, he gave me a resource for selling a game idea I have. That precious nugget wouldn’t have been delivered if I hadn’t been “out there” to receive it!)
9. Target radio and TV interviews. I can see myself sitting across from Oprah or David Letterman, one day—despite the fact that they both look like they’re laughing at the idea in the photo. But, seriously, can you see yourself in one of those seats?
As we all know, a book is like an iceberg: 10% is writing; 90% is marketing. You have to be out there among people! Books travel word of mouth. But, they can’t travel if no one is talking about them. Take whatever interviews you can get. The more interviews keeps your product before viewers and guarantees sales. How to get exposure:
– Get a directory of direct-marketing companies and call and pitch your book to see if they will sell your book for you.
– Get a directory of radio shows to see who will let you speak about your work. The successful, spiritual motivational speaker, Scott Peck, said he started with three radio interviews/week for a year. Best are to get a one hour interview so listeners can really get to know you.
– Internet radio shows are excellent, too, because that is niche marketing.
10. Never underestimate the useful tool called Bypass Marketing. One out of 7 people go out to buy books. That means 6 folks do not go out to buy. Bypass Marketing is taking the book to where you don’t think people will go to buy a book, i.e., gas stations, bakeries, pet stores, salons, spas, doctor’s offices. Anywhere someone has to wait is the place to leave your book.
Canfield says, when you start thinking differently, visualize and act like a marketer, you attract the audience your require. New thinking brings the audience to you . . . automagically.
Yes, you too can create your own words when you’ve sold over 80 million copies of your books. How big are your dreams? Which of these tips appeals most to you?
By Kathleen Pickering http://www.kathleenpickering.com
My job rocks!
My dear friend, Heather Graham, won this amazing Dream Date with Dolphins from a fund raiser at the Dolphin Research Center in Marathon Florida. Guess who she invited?
Yes, indeed. Yours truly. (This photo is dubbed: The Board Meeting)
Heather and I spent the entire day with trainer, Linda, and DRC director, Mandy, who took us through their daily routine with the the dolphins. OMG! You just know that an amazing experience such as this, as well as watching Heather transform into the proverbial Mermaid while swimming with these charming creatures, could turn into nothing less than on-site research.
You see, Heather has invited me to join her, and authors Beth Ciotta and Deborah LeBlanc to write a Christmas anthology slated for 2013. The characters will be in line with her Keepers series. That said, my search for a “Keeper” character who will transform from animal to human was easily found at the Dolphin Research Center.
But, I’m not telling. Not yet, anyway.
I really don’t have a question to ask you folks today, but would welcome your comments. If you’d like to talk about how lucky I am at my job, well, feel free. I heard Steve Job’s Stanford University speech back when he originally made it in 2009. When I heard him
then, I punched the air saying, “You’re so right, Steve!” Up until around 2005, I had been sidetracked, and letting “stuff” get in the way of my dreams. But no longer. It’s amazing how, when you decide to live true, you world unfolds in ways you’d never expect. Hence, a dream date with a dear friend at the DRC, and what do I get? The character for my next book. Not too shabby, eh?
So, let me leave you with this last link to a day made in heaven. If you have ten minutes, you may enjoy viewing Heather’s and my first ten minutes of our dream date morning at DRC. Click Here:
Yeah, we’re hooked.
Oh, and if you’d like to read an in-depth discussion of our fun day, visit Heather’s blog: http://thelipstickchronicles.typepad.com/the_lipstick_chronicles/2011/10/dream-date.html
Happy writing, one and all!
By: Kathleen Pickering http://www.kathleenpickering.com/
My marketing plan has taken me to interesting places. Conferences. Book signings. Post Offices. Restaurants. Bars. Beaches. Office supply stores. Publishers. Printers. YouTube, Facebook and all paths deep into the Internet.
That last one, friends, is my favorite. And, as of last week, I discovered my most favorite place on the Internet is radio talk shows.
Looking for another outlet for MYTHOLOGICAL SAM-THE CALL, I submitted a request for an interview to SPIRITUALLY RAW, a radio show where no topic on religion or spirituality is taboo. It’s a fascinating site. You have to be pretty open minded. You’d like to know that I found a forensic investigator, and a few mystery writers there. My biggest surprise was to find movie producer, James Cameron (AVATAR) and actor, Timothy Dalton, among the friends list.
Since MythSam contains strong spiritual undertones, my request was accepted, but I had to go through a process. First, I was slotted for a 15 minute interview where I presented myself, Mythological Sam-The Call and my thoughts. That Friday I was invited to return to see if I would be voted back. Once again, I had the chance to chat with the radio hosts on the air.
It was a close call (I’m sure it’s because my story sounds well . . . unbelievable), but to my delight, I was voted back. And, guess what? I can completely confirm that I am a sucker for a microphone! Holy guacamole. I loved being on the airwaves.
I’m convinced it’s because I’m one of eight kids and I never really got the proper attention I needed as a child. Not only that. For someone who has a hankering to know as many people on this planet as she can possibly meet, nothing beats sending your story out into the ether. Who knows who might call me back! (I just hope they speak English or Spanish.)
I’d love to share last Thursday’s interview. Just let me warn you. I don’t come on until 13 minutes into the broadcast.Speaking before me is an interesting woman who wrote a book on orgasms as spiritual experiences. (Really. Makes sense. Don’t you think? I’ll have to buy a copy. My husband will be thrilled.) Unfortunately, that woman was not invited back. You can listen to her as well, or move the line on the radio dashboard into the 13 minute mark. Here’s the link to the first podcast. Be sure to click on the return arrow in the top left to get back to this page when you are finished.
Ajay and April Matta have invited me back to talk more about my strange religious experience and how it relates to the Mythological Sam trilogy. The show will air on August 18th at 10 a.m. Mark you calendars. If you are available, I would love to have you listened in. Here’s the link for the information:
The Spiritually Raw website has a fun chat room while listening and a phone number so you can call in to heckle me. Wouldn’t that be fun?! If you do call, be sure to tell me you’re from The Kill Zone. I want them to know about everyone here, too!
So, I ask you. If someone offered you a microphone as a marketing tool, would you take it? And if you have already, how did it work for you?
By Kathleen Pickering – http://www.kathleenpickering.com/
For this author, conducting on-site research on a work of fiction to hone the story into a living, breathing event is one of the most exciting aspects of writing.
Now, I know this isn’t always possible for a writer, but when it is, oh, I don’t know, can you say, tax write-off? It is a lucky day when one can take a trip for his/her profession and find business is a pleasure.
For example, when I wrote ECHOES OF LOVE, a paranormal romance hopping from Manhattan to London, I just had to fly to England. After all, the last thing I wanted was for a local Brit to let me know my facts were wrong. Major story killer!
I wrote a pick-pocket scene when my character, Melissa, stepped off the curb in Hastings. Now, you or I would have thought stepping from a curb would be a normal, every day event. However, the curbs on the main street in Hastings are a foot high! Melissa would have fallen, not stepped. Had I not been there to discover this little fact, I could have hurt my character and my credibility!
Also, how was I to sneak Melissa past the closed oak doors and rock walls of Battle Abbey to crash a concert in the dead of night, if I had not done so myself? (Oops! Did I say that?)
Truth be told, I did sneak in! I and a cohort (Jane had no idea I was getting her into mischief!) found a path leading through the woods to the high cliff behind the Abbey. This cliff overlooked the valley where the Battle of Hastings was fought. And to my surprise, not only did I discover a real-life gypsy wagon camped in the valley (which I promptly used in the story) but, I found the rear of the Abbey un-walled and easily penetrable. All of this worked beautifully into Melissa’s adventure.
On another occasion, my husband, some friends and I took a trip to the Bahamas which resulted in the contemporary romance I just sold to Harlequin (WHERE IT BEGAN – Jan. 2012). Sailing the waters, snorkeling the reefs and meeting a strange and unsavory local resident helped craft the book. The story ideas just kept coming!
My craving for facts sent me to San Francisco for MYTHOLOGICAL SAM-THE CALL, then brought me to New York City last September and just recently under the guise of attending Thriller Fest—oh, wait, I did attend for a day! Cruising The Big Apple, I found places, artifacts and images such as these to weave into the second book in progress in the Mythological Sam series, THE SHIFT. I’m not even going to tell you (yet) how I’m using these photos!
Ahh. The joy of writing and research all wrapped up in real life. So, tell me. I know you can’t go kill someone, really. (Murderer-celebrities excluded.) What works best for you when researching your novels?
By: Kathleen Pickering
That, of course, got me thinking, well why not? Not writing wouldn’t kill me. I’d feel less pressure to perform, my days would free up and I could enjoy all those characters in my head as imaginary playmates. But, then I realized why I reacted so uncomfortably to Clare’s question. Simply put, we all have basic human needs. For me, writing fulfills all six of the basic human needs Anthony Robbins says every person craves for personal happiness. No wonder we authors are addicted to the craft!
Here are the needs as Tony Robbins lists them. I’ve shown how they fulfill my need to write:
1. Certainty – We all want to feel safe in our world. As a writer, I know the world I create is my own, no one can hurt it, change it, take it. I feel safe in my writing cocoon.
2. Uncertainty – We all crave variety, surprise and spontaneity or we’d get bored. Well, heck, do we or do we not get uncertainty and surprise from our characters? They always take us somewhere we don’t expect. Also, the uncertainty of the publishing industry and reader/editor opinion offers no small adrenaline rush in working towards success.
3. Significance – We all need to feel important in our world and often carry a fear of “not being enough.” Writing offers me a sense of significance, in that I feel unique in my craft and how I tell my stories. Being an author gives me a sense of worth.
4. Growth – If we don’t grow, we die. The richness of every book experience, from creating the work to selling, to networking, to celebrating and sharing, all contribute to my personal growth as an author. I feel an internal shift upwards with every book I write.
5. Connection/Love – We all need to bond and feel grounded with others. We all understand this. A perfect example for me was at this year’s Sleuthfest conference. I asked Dennis Lehane what inspired him to write Shutter Island and how he conducted his research. I was rewarded with a smile, an in-depth and heartfelt explanation that ended with, “this book describes me the best.” We all need connection and welcome the recognition in others.
6. Contribution – We act to make the world a better place. I’m not alone when I say I am an author with more than just a story to tell. (My brand.) Every book I write has a purpose, a theme, and mine is redemption. My world view is that we were born perfect onto a perfect planet, and somewhere along the line we lost that understanding. I write hoping my stories will get folks thinking towards shifting our perceptions back to a place of dancing and joy and connection with ourselves, each other and our precious world. I tell you, writing rocks!
My urban fantasy, Mythological Sam – The Call, embodies all six basic human needs of which Robbins speaks. That’s why I love writing and could never stop. Who else gets the opportunity to get their message across with a hilarious, demon-busting call to adventure while meeting their own human needs?
So, I ask you, as an author and a reader . . . how does writing/reading meet your human needs? And which two are most important?
By: Kathleen Pickering
I can enjoy a good conspiracy theory, just like any other paranoid earth-dweller. Today, however, I discovered that an author’s worst nightmare has come to life: A Robot Writer.
The conspiracy? They say this new cyborg writer, just born in late 2010, was developed to turn statistics and sports writing into entertaining information, but I just know there is a Dr. Frankenstein out there building my double in robot form. I am seriously thinking about taking my writing arm underground before they invade the matrix and find me through my computer!
The company? Narrative Science, out of Chicago. (I hate to say their name out loud for fear they’ll hear me and discover my hide-out! After this point we shall call them, They who shall not be named. Or, for short: TWSNBN)
The reason for my dismay? The damned cyborg is good! It’s writing was put up in a contest against a rookie sports writer and won. Here was the robot’s take on a ball game:
“Tuesday was a great day for W. Roberts, as the junior pitcher threw a perfect game to carry Virginia to a 2-0 victory over George Washington at Davenport Field.
Twenty-seven Colonials came to the plate and the Virginia pitcher vanquished them all, pitching a perfect game. He struck out 10 batters while recording his momentous feat. Roberts got Ryan Thomas to ground out for the final out of the game.
Tom Gately came up short on the rubber for the Colonials, recording a loss. He went three innings, walked two, struck out one, and allowed two runs.
The Cavaliers went up for good in the fourth, scoring two runs on a fielder’s choice and a balk.”
See? I’d have to give ol’ Robo an A+. Not good! I visited TWSNBN’s website. This is what their creator says:
We tell the story behind the data. Our technology identifies trends and angles within large data sources and automatically creates compelling copy. We can build upon stories, providing deeper context around particular subjects over time. Every story is generated entirely from scratch and is always unique.
Sorry. That sounds like fiction writing to me. I just know they’re planning on hunting us authors down, will carve out our brains and make body doubles of all of us.
Beware, my author friends. Articles already written about TWSNBN state that their Cyborg’s talents will make some writing by humans obsolete. I can just hear my editor now: “Um, Kathleen, you know we just love you, um, but, we have to let you go. I’d like you to meet your replacement:
We’re doomed, I tell you! Sigh . . . and to think, I just got started in the writing world. Talk about bad timing!