Pinning Your Character Down

Part of creating a new character is getting a clear image of him or her and the world they will inhabit. This is the first time I’ve used Pintrest for this task and I have to say I am really happy with the results. 

A few months ago, when the new series I’m writing was just a spark of an idea I found an article about creating secret boards on Pintrest and using them to park images and quotes that relate to a project, then reveal the board after you’ve had a chance to build it up. (If you don’t know about secret boards its cause they’re a secret. No, just kidding, here is a link.)

Since Pintrest has almost become my new Google, I started by searching for specific images, pinned those, then followed the links to similar boards and pins to find more inspiration. The result is a tab that I can keep open and review while I’m writing to keep me from getting off track and remind me of the essence of my character. 

The other bonus to pinning characters and novels is being able to un-secret the board and share your vision with potential readers. Which brings us to today, my big reveal… Vivienne. OK, that didn’t seem like much of a reveal, let me try that again. 

Today I present the star of my eight-book series coming in late 2015:

Click  HERE  to meet Vivienne.

Binge Packaging

I’ve lost all patience. I’m like a six-year-old waiting in line at Disney World. I want what I want and I want it now. The good thing is, I’m not alone. In fact I’m part of a new social trend called binging or as the television industry likes to call it marathoning (because that sounds so much healthier). No matter what you call it, it’s becoming the norm in television viewing and starting to spread into other forms of entertainment as well. 

If you are part of the 61% of Netflix viewers who have watched multiple episodes of a series back to back, then you are already part of this trend. Whether it’s streamed entertainment from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or any other source, viewers are loving the idea of not waiting a week to find out what happens next. I admit, I love it too. I’ll get a recommendation from a friend for an older series and be able to watch two or three episodes at at time back to back when it’s convenient for me.

Netflix has been watching us watching them and they’ve figured out what we want. “Our viewing data shows that the majority of streamers would actually prefer to have a whole season of a show available to watch at their own pace,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer of Netflix.  “Netflix has pioneered audience choice in programming and has helped free consumers from the limitations of linear television. Our own original series are created for multi-episodic viewing, lining up the content with new norms of viewer control for the first time.” (Source)  Netflix is one of the first, but surely not the last in the entertainment industry to jump on this new trend and cater to the consumer’s desires.

As an author, a provider of entertainment, I am ready to jump on this trend myself. I’m in the final planning stages of a new series that will consist of eight novella-length books. I spent a few frustrating hours this past week planning out my writing, editing and marketing schedule for each book. Once I release the first one, I want to keep them coming to keep my audience hooked on the story and the characters. My master plan of releasing one every other month quickly fell apart when I laid that plan over my family and paid-work calendars. But frustration is the mother of invention (or something like that). I remembered the popularity of binge consumption and revised my plans. 

Now I will be writing all eight novellas and releasing them simultaneously. It will take me the better part of 2015 to do the writing, but it will save time in the end. By concentrating solely on writing I will be able to focus my energy and not scatter myself multitasking; marketing one book while editing another and marketing a third. This format works for me. And the end product will hopefully be even more appealing to readers. They will have the option to purchase the books individually or all of them at once for a discounted price. I’ll call it the binge packing promotion. Additionally, I will be able to order all of my covers at once and editing, possibly garnering a discount for myself and I can use my marketing budget (both monetary and energy) for one huge campaign as opposed to eight smaller ones.

So writer and readers, I’d love your take on this new trend. Does binge packaging appeal to you as a reader? Do you like the idea of not having to wait for the next book in a series or do you like the anticipation? Writers, is the long break it would take to create a binge packaged series too long between books? Do you worry about being out of sight and out of mind with your readers for too long? Comment below and let’s talk binging.

My Muse At Work

I’m more of a scientific than a spiritual person, but there is no denying when my muse is at work. I recently finished a fantastic book on writing, Wired for Story, and I am almost ready to begin writing on my next story (or stories, in this case). In a coincidence that can only be attributed to my muse, I was offered a last-minute chance to spend a few days in Savannah, Georgia, the setting of my next story.

I chose the city after I fell in love with it last summer. The vibe here fits my heroine to a tee. On the surface Savannah is all proper Southern genteel charm, but that’s the side she wants you to see. If you stay a while and get to know her you will see the crazy and the inappropriate side and the passionate side that inspired works like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. 

My blog will be short today because I only have so much time to dig deeper and find all the juicy details that will make Vivienne’s story so much more enticing. I’ll leave you with a few pictures to whet your appetite.

Beautiful garden squares are perfect for people watching.

Nearby Tybee Island where I ate my weight in seafood.

Biker Bar (one of many great Irish Pubs)

A Woman’s Worth

In the movie The Devil Wears Prada the  main character, Andy rolls her eyes and dismisses the importance of one of her tasks because she considers fashion beneath her. She’s a writer and in her mind she is slumming in her job at a top fashion magazine because, well, it’s fashion. She sees it as all trivial female drivel until her boss puts her in her place. Andy gets a lesson in the fashion business, the magnitude of the finances involved, the millions of jobs it creates worldwide and its place as a creative outlet in society.

That scene stayed with me because it illustrated the way that business sectors that are mainly for and about women are often seen as trivial or less important to the economy than more male-dominated businesses. Even more frustrating was the fact that Andy had bought into this misogynistic, and often wrong, idea.

You might have missed this story in the Daily Mail. It’s one I’m sure the NFL wasn’t dying to share on their social media. How New York Fashion Week generated more money for the city than last year’s Super Bowl.  Surprised? I admit I was. Despite the fact that it’s fashion week and the Super Bowl is only one day. I, like Andy, completely underestimated the impact of the event because it is mainly a women’s event and thus not front page news. It was a lesson that reminded me that I am as susceptible as any to believing that media focus equals importance or worth. 

Speaking of female focused businesses, let me introduce you to this young entrepreneur. Her name is Michelle Phan and although you may not have heard of her until now, you will soon see her name more and more. Glamor magazine called her the next Oprah. She is only 27 years old and has already built a business worth over 3 million dollars. How did she do it? She posted make up demos on YouTube. Then she released her own make up line, and a book, and a make up delivery service. Her next move is a network she is creating to host beauty, fashion and other lifestyle programming. She is sweet and charming and all about helping other women build their companies and brands. She is the future–smart women who understand the financial and networking power of other women. These are visionaries who see the limitless potential of the internet to go around the gatekeepers of the past. They don’t need anyone’s permission to build an empire beyond the narrow vision someone might have had for a cute girl and her make up. 

Michelle and women like her embody the characteristics I am using for the main character of my next series. My working title is Fearless Flying with the series titled The Vivienne Series. I want to capture her moxy, her boundless enthusiasm and her confidence in herself as a woman. Vivienne will use the exact traits that are usually seen as a detriment in the boardroom: kindness, caring and creativity to build her own empire. And like Michelle those in charge won’t know what hit them until she has flown past them and they are left dazed in her wake. 

So who are your entrepreneur heroines? Were you inspired when Martha Steward baked and hemmed her way to the top? Or Oprah made billions by selling understanding and joy? In the writing world Colleen Hoover is flying to the top on a combination of great stories and genuine kindness. Share stories like those in the comments and help me inspire other women who are just starting out, writing their first novel or selling their crafts and rewriting the business plan for success.