What Makes You Happy?

What Makes You Happy?

What makes you happy? Is it something simple like when someone else makes dinner? Is it a reciprocated act when you share a laugh with a friend? Or, is happiness out of your grasp?

While working with writers over the years, I’ve learned that they often start sentences, “I’ll be happy when…” The end of those sentences is enough to make even the most positive person cringe. “When I reach best-seller status.” Or even, “When I sell a million copies.”

These are lofty goals and my guess is that while they may make some people happy, these aren’t necessary achievements in order to find happiness. Sometimes, we just need to adjust our perspective and give ourselves the pat on the back that helps us persevere and then we find it easier to obtain those goals.

I recently found this anonymous quote and it suits this subject perfectly.

Tranquility is beyond form, it cannot be grasped and held. It is beyond sound but perhaps within sound, yet it cannot be heard. It cannot be seen yet it lies in everything we see.

Evatopia’s motto is “Find Your Happy.” And if you don’t know the way to happiness, I’ve got a road map and I’m here to show you. Our Los Angeles creativity workshops are getting underway. Stay tuned for more details.

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Big Brother of Ebooks?

For this edition of #MondayBlogs, I’m linking to a Huffington Post article that brings up the question of who is monitoring your ebook reads. Imagine a Big Brother of ebooks. The article paints a picture of corporate espionage, but it’s not yet confirmed. So what do you think?

Here’s the link to the article, “Is Adobe’s eBook Reader Spying on What You Read?”:

Read Here

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#WordlessWednesday

#WordlessWednesday

 

I love this picture of an old Underwood typewriter. It’s the perfect #WordlessWednesday post because it says so much all by itself. What’s one image that describes you as a writer?

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Is Nice the Ultimate Four Letter Word?

Is Nice the Ultimate Four Letter Word?

“You pick your friends, not your family.” That phrase is usually spoken after one of our siblings does something like wear your favorite shirt and then spill red wine on it. It’s meant to say, “Hey, that’s your sister…so go on and make nice.” But when authors pursue “niceness” the result may sometimes be…dare I say it…boring. Is nice the ultimate four letter word?

I’ll go out on a limb and declare that characters who are always nice should be avoided, just like four letter words in every day speech. Author Drew Chial makes an excellent argument for why your characters don’t have to be likable:

“Your character doesn’t need to be someone the audience wants to have a beer with. They’re not running for president. You don’t need to file down their jagged edges. Well developed characters are just as likable as characters that are just like us. It’s more important for your hero to feel like a human being than a delegate for all of humanity.”

In other words, we all have moments when something really grinds our gears. As adults, we’re taught not to over-react. Even Kindergarteners are told to play nicely. But this is the beauty of being an author. Your character can go bat-shit crazy and that would make fantastic reading. However, there are rules.

Your character’s actions and reactions should be in keeping with the plot. There should be character development along the way. Their actions should speak to their moral compass. And lastly, they should show change from how they started. This can be in the form of them becoming nice or conversely, developing a bit more of a backbone.

The movie “The Truman Show” illustrated an idyllic town where everyone was nice and helpful toward their neighbors. But it wasn’t real. The same would be true if every one of your characters was squeaky clean nice. You may wish to have that person as your best friend, but if they really were your best friend, chances are that once in awhile you’d see another side to them.

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The Hollywood Trifecta

The Hollywood Trifecta

When a writer wants to land an agent or that coveted development deal, they typically start out in their quest by writing a screenplay. That’s not a bad idea, but there are thousands of scripts knocking around Hollywood. To stand out, you really need to embark on what I call the Hollywood Trifecta.

Naturally, every suggestion I’m about to provide surmises that you have done your homework by taking the time to imagine an original concept that is well-conceived. Now let’s start…just what is the Hollywood Trifecta?

Your job isn’t finished when you write “the end” on the last page of your novel or script. In fact, it’s only starting. You have to create a body of work surrounding your idea so that when you get that all important meeting you can provide a book, a script, maybe even a television pilot. Basically, you don’t give them a reason to say no. You present a feature script, but they think the idea is better suited to a pilot. Well guess what? You’ve got that in your back pocket too.

But this takes so much time, you lament. Yes…yes it does, but it’s time well spent. Your writing will only improve. You’ll become more marketable. And, if you’re clever you can translate your different writing samples into calling cards.

When my client, Sammi Robin, developed her first feature script, she also wrote it as an ebook, “So Many Frogs, Not Enough Prozac,” which Evatopia published. One chapter of this ebook was then adapted into a wildly popular blog post called “The No Contact Rule,” which Sammi wrote for theblowoff.com thus increasing her notoriety, elevating her book sales, and yes, giving Hollywood more reason to take notice.

By creatively marketing her script and then, her book, she created a mini publicity empire. At the time of this writing, her blog post has received over 149,000 views. In short, she took the time and created her own Hollywood Trifecta.

You can’t escape that old adage, “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” It applies to most things in life and writing is certainly one of them.

Below, you can read Sammi Robin’s well-received blog post and find her book.

No Contact Rule

So Many Frogs Not Enough Prozac

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How to Create a Balanced Life

I find that most of the writers I work with have lives similar to my own. We’re all extremely busy. Maybe it’s because writers have active imaginations and as a result, we thrive on being busy. But in the midst of wearing so many hats, let’s discuss how to create a balanced life.

Try this exercise…plot out where you spend your time. This can include home responsibilities such as taking kids to and from school and sports, work responsibilities such as writing/editing or social media, time with your spouse, chores around the house, and maybe there’s even some “me” time in the mix.

If we were to label our responsibilities and place them into categories, we might label some as “rewarding,” others as “fun,” and perhaps some as “drudgery” (for me, folding laundry fits into this category).

The rewarding and fun activities serve to energize us whereas those activities that we label drudgery sap our energy, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we can turn our back on our responsibilities. But we can work smarter.

My dislike of folding laundry becomes more bearable if done while watching a TV movie. Sometimes, the family turns it into a game. Whoever folds their clothes first, gets to pick the movie.

Helping writers falls into my “rewarding” and “fun” categories. I’m lucky in the respect that I love what I do for a living. But, I love it so much that sometimes I find myself at odds to give my family the time they deserve. This is another reason why I believe strongly in establishing specific times for work, family, chores, exercise, the list goes on.

We’re all busy, but if we approach our tasks systematically, we can lead a more rewarding life. Once you plot out your daily and weekly tasks, assigning each one a value and place in your life, you can fit more into a busy day. And, you’ll find that it is possible to create that balance we all desire.

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Perfecting the Art of the Interview

Last week I touched on five points that authors should consider when providing an interview. Perfecting the art of the interview and public speaking is a never ending process. You can always improve and with that in mind, here are five more tips.

1. Don’t ramble.

Authors are naturally story-tellers, but don’t get so caught up in talking that you start to ramble rather than answer your interviewer’s question. A good interview is equal parts host and guest. Remember, it’s a conversation, not a monologue and certainly not a lecture. Provide brief soundbites that the host can expand on. It’s a way for your interviewer to engage with you and it helps your audience to follow along.

2. Show enthusiasm.

You might be nervous about doing an author interview, but try to remember that your host has a tough job too. There’s nothing more frightening than interviewing someone who gives one word answers or sounds as if they are bored. If you can’t get excited about talking about your book, why should your audience go out and purchase it? Your enthusiasm will carry in your voice and make your audience fall in love with you.

3. Don’t be defensive.

There is a distinct possibility that your host will throw a curve ball. As they say, if you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen. The same applies to media interviews. It’s their job to keep things interesting and what better way than to ask some hard hitting questions? Do not become defensive. It will backfire on you. Instead, acknowledge your host’s opinions, but then politely offer your own.

4. It’s about your book.

Although it’s great for audiences to connect with an author by learning more about them, let’s not forget that you probably agreed to this interview so that you would sell more books. Think of ways to subtly mention your book title without sounding as if you’re shouting, “Buy my book!” For instance, if asked about your writing process, you might say something like, “When I wrote my first book, (insert your amazing title here), I would wake up at the crack of dawn and…” You’re answering the question without sounding like your hitting up the audience with a hard sell.

As an author, your first job is to write a great book. Once that is done, you focus on marketing. And, to be successful at marketing, you have to think about how to conduct yourself if you are so successful that you land that coveted author interview.

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How to Prepare for an Author Interview (part 1)

How to Prepare for an Author Interview (part 1)

So you’ve got a request for an author interview and you’re over the moon. Do you wing it? Do you just talk about whatever pops into your head? While it’s great to sound natural and spontaneous, in order to make the most of your time in the sun, it’s best to prepare for an author interview. Here are five suggestions for improving your interview skills.

1. Be prepared to succinctly describe your book’s plot and characters.

This may sound ridiculously simple, but if you had to describe your book in a sentence, could you? If you had to explain the dynamics between two characters, could you do describe the nuances with clarity in a cohesive manner? When marketing “Zoey Rogue” by Lizzy Ford, we used the quick tagline, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets 50 Shades of Gray.” It got our point across and inspired readers to dig further. Your interview host may not have had the chance to fully read your book so you can’t rely on their giving a description. You may only have a few moments to do the deed, so do it well.

2. Create talking points about your book.

If your book was required reading in an English class, what are some questions that might be asked? Consider the transformation of your main character. How does your language enhance your character profiles? Develop at least two or three talking points, in other words, questions or topics that stimulate further conversation about your book.

3. Keep the audience engaged.

Easier said than done, but the surefire way to make someone feel engaged is to ask them questions. Wait a minute…you’re thinking that the interview is about you, so why would you want to ask questions? Remember that your interview host plays a huge role in the success of your interview as does the audience. You want to be sure that you speak to them and give the host a chance to lead the show and the audience a chance to ask questions. Remember that a good interview sounds more like a conversation, not a monologue or a speech.

4. Know your audience.

Speaking of audience, make sure you know who will be listening to you. Before you provide an interview, find out the demographics of the show. If you’re a romance author speaking to an audience of men, you may want to focus more on the craft of writing. If your audience is primarily women, then you can discuss the nuances of your romantic story. Make sure you gear your conversation into topics that are sure to connect with your listeners.

Listen carefully.

When it comes to providing an interview, you must also be an active listener. You’re likely to be excited, perhaps even nervous. To give a successful interview, you have to think on your feet and this takes effort. Take the time to listen carefully to each question and just as you did in school, ensure that you use part of the question in your answer. Make sure the host has completed his/her thoughts before you jump in to ensure that you are giving an answer that addresses their question completely.

Next week I’ll provide more interview tips that Evatopia employs when advising our speaker training and author clients.

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Zoey Avenger Coming Soon!

Zoey Avenger Coming Soon!

Have you heard the news? “Zoey Avenger” is coming soon! That’s right, Lizzy Ford’s follow-up to “Zoey Rogue” will be available for download on October 12th.

For those who haven’t delved into the Incubatti Series, here’s a quick cheat sheet for you. Zoey isn’t your every day college girl. Imagine Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a pension for passion.

“Zoey Rogue” and its follow-up, “Zoey Avenger,” is centered around the efforts of five lethally beautiful half-succubus (Halflings) on Team Rogue and their Incubus soul-mates, known as the Enforcers. The two societies work interdependently to protect humans from the growing threat of Cambions, the supernatural creatures that have been bred and trained to kill humans.

However, the politics of these two secretive societies grows more complex with the creation of Zoey’s own Team Rogue, an entity that challenges the foundations of the Sucubatti and Incubatti societies. Outright war will cost both societies their safe, quiet existence among humans, but it will become increasingly impossible to contain the growing tensions.

Zoey and her soul-mate, Declan, are the steamiest couple ever. They are both dependent on each other and sometimes opposing one another. They will be forced to juggle their sacrifices, choices, and heartbreak with their desire to create a balance among their societies. Don’t miss this hot, new adult novel.

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Distribution Beyond Your Dog

Whether you’ve written a book or a screenplay, both novelists and screenwriters face a common dilemma once their project is complete. How do you get your work of art into the hands of other people? Having people in your inner circle tell you it’s great is one thing, but wide spread distribution beyond your dog is truly the key to getting your project seen and money in your pocket.

Too often, writers hope that their story will magically find its audience as if our world is as mythical as the one they’ve created. Without a marketing strategy in place, your project won’t be seen. Allow me to shine a light on two of the most common myths and truths of sharing your project with the world.

Myth: I’m a “creative.” I don’t have to worry about the business stuff; someone else will do that.

Reality: Today, even the most successful writer who has money to spend on publicists, needs to market. If you’re in the early stages of your career — or if your career hasn’t sprouted wings yet, this is even more so the case. Your publicist might get the word out about your book or movie, but audiences still want to connect with you as a person. Let’s face it, you can’t turn out a new book or film every month for years to come, but there has to be a reason for your audience to stay interested in what you’re doing. Like it or not, your “creative” business is still just that…a business.

Myth: My work has won awards and accolades…I’ve made it.

Reality: Even if your movie is slated to be screened at Sundance or your novel appears on a Goodreads’ reader poll for best first novel, imagine all the people who weren’t at that screening or missed that one special list? As time goes on, your moment in the sun shines a little less brightly. There were other films at Sundance and perhaps those filmmakers hired publicists to ensure that the right film distributors attended the screenings. As for the Goodreads’ list, other novelists climbed to the top. Unless you continue to publicize your book, it will slowly slide from the top spot. The unfortunate truth is that the best work doesn’t always stay on top.

Often times, the most publicized work is the one that garners the attention. I don’t like this any more than you do, but if you are aware of this fact, you can do the three things that assure your success: 1. write the best screenplay or novel the world has ever seen; 2. assemble a team of people who will market that project; and 3., which is key…you must lead your team to ensure that your work and you as an artist become better known, which is ultimately what will lead to your success.

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