Posts tagged: ellen reid

London Houses, Country Estates, Royalty, Etiquette, Polo, and Golf – Will the Leroy Watches Jr. We Love Survive?

Leroy Watches Jr. & the Badass Bull - An Award-winning Contemporary Western

Leroy Watches, Jr., the hero of Leroy Watches Jr. & the Badass Bull, is getting to be known and loved.  He’s receiving fan mail. People mention him in emails. “He’s my favorite of all your characters,” someone said. “I’m in love with him,” someone else said. “What’s it like to be surrounded by gorgeous men?” [That referring to Wesley of Mogollon  and Leroy.]

Why shouldn’t they say stuff like that? I’m in love with Leroy, too. What’s not to love? Leroy Watches Jr., you got to know him as the polite, incredibly tall (6′ 8 1/2″) hunk with supernatural powers and great rodeo skills. He’s Grandfather’s (the shaman of Mogollon and Numenon) only blood relation. He is an enrolled member of Grandfather’s Nation, thus Native, African and European American all at once.

In Leroy Watches Jr. & the Badass Bull, Leroy emerges from a warm, loving, and full life that stunted him in many ways. He was raised on his Nation’s reservation in New Mexico, the site of the giant spiritual retreat/riot in Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mayhem. More recently, he lived on his father’s cattle ranch near Yosemite, CA. Not much call for sophistication in either place. Or formal table manners, knowledge of etiquette, or anything but shamanic practices and herding cows.

In my upcoming Christmas book, In Love by Christmas, the unfortunate man finds himself dropped into high society, not just high–royal–society, in the UK and other (undisclosed) places. Poor thing. That’s what happens when you’re a figment of my imagination.

I have been researching things like correct deportment [behavior], use of silverware, and how to address nobility and royalty. Along with foxhunting rules and how to play polo. It’s been a hoot.

I have a secret: I once knew all that stuff, and not so I could write a character in a book. I was once a princess, as I spell out in my new, truthful bio on my Amazon page. Yep. I was raised in one of the hallowed neighborhoods of the San Francisco Peninsula. As a matter of fact, it was right here. (Or formerly right there. New owners tore the 1950s structure down.) My parents had been very poor during the Great Depression. They made up for it by being very successful. When I write about  Will Duane, the richest man in the world in my Bloodsong Series, his cronies, buddies, and neighbors, I know what I’m talking about.

My dad could have been the prototype corporate founder/CEO/captain of industry. I spent the best hours of my childhood/teen years riding my horse in Woodside, where the CEOs of almost every Silicon Valley corporation now live. I lived in Woodside for fourteen years, and in Atherton for more than that. I also hung out in Palo Alto. That’s where Steve Jobs lived, the garage where Hewlett and Packard “founded Silicon Valley” is, the fictitious Numenon International Headquarters is sited, and my husband and I resided for seven years.

LINDENWOOD-GATES

These are the gates to the estate on which my family lived. We didn't own the whole thing, it had been subdivided years before. We had an acre of paradise. Lindenwood was formerly the Flood estate, the Floods being leaders from the robber baron era of Atherton.

Living in such neighborhoods is not all formal teas and basking by the pool. No. Rules exist. If you don’t know them, they will. The people you’re trying to get to accept you know the rules. So do their servants, their dogs, and most of the large shrubs in their gardens. Everyone indigenous to the area will know the difference between a pickle fork and a butter knife. Everyone will know that a man must wear a cummerbund with his tuxedo, that a woman who shows her bare legs under a skirt has no taste. Even worse, a woman who wears a tank top with her bra straps showing is worse than than a trollop. She’s nothing. outside the pale of civilization.

Hundreds of such rules exist, and if you came up in Atherton when I did, you had to know them if you were going to be taken seriously. Everyone I knew had had years and years of dancing lessons, cotillions, blah-dy-blahs, to prepare us to be debutantes or their escorts. Making one’s debut in society was cracked up as the highlight of a girl’s existence. Coming out in San Francisco was much more elevated than being a Peninsula deb, but, hey, who can be choosy?

Was I a debutante? No. My father was a liberal Democrat. No way he’d let me participate in expensive, upper-class puberty rites. Besides, the only “coming out” ball that really mattered in the United States was in New York. What my friends were so excited about was the the minor leagues.

Several friends were debutantes; I was invited to partake of the introductory festivities, formal teas, and such, that their parents sprang for in preparation of the Big Whammy Ball. Ask me about the time I was at a deb party on a yacht at the San Francisco yacht club and got locked into the ladies room. [Known as the "head" in some circles.] It was a potentially socially ruinous experience where the warped wood of the door stuck in the jam. I could not get it open. The only way I could escape was to raise my voice. [Known as "yelling" in some circles.] That would have been worse than spending the rest of my life locked in the head. That prospect gave me super powers and I yanked that door open like one of the X-men, escaping into the festivities beyond. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were also involved with this, as party guests.

With the influx of tech money, almost all standards of decency have disappeared. Everywhere. I cringe every time I see a woman with a spaghetti-strapped top with her bra straps blatantly showing. This is wrong.

LEROY WATCHES JR.

Leroy Watches Jr., a man any of us could love, and would, if he was real.

I may sling the jive here, but if I walked into a mansion occupied by truly upper class people anywhere on the planet, I would toss off my carefully affected casual demeanor, tuck in my bra straps, and behave like Leroy is going to have to. Or will he? And why?

Will we lose our primitive, incredibly attractive Leroy, the one all of us wish our daughters would marry? Or that we’d like to marry ourselves? Will he change when exposed to an unrelenting barrage of proper English and cummerbunds?

 * * *

That’s why I’m researching polo and foxhunting. Some authors torture their characters with chains and hot tongs. I prefer formal teas and golf.

Searching on-line, I’ve found a series of true gems my search for deportment and proper dress.  Wonderful sources of information for the upwardly mobile, or for all those Silicon Valley geeks who are rolling in money but not culture. Or, for those who worry about suddenly finding themselves in Downton Abbey, knowing that they couldn’t qualify for the lowest housemaid position.

Here is a series of articles which will solve your problems, especially if the issues above concern you:

William Hanson, etiquette consultant, broadcaster, and social commentator, has written about the etiquette faux pas in the various episodes of Downton Abbey. I know you don’t think any exist, but they do. Mr. Hanson, I am not poking fun at your work. Readers, you may think this is unnecessary. But what if that bit of software you’re working on hits it big and you get to move to the neighborhood of your dreams?  What then? There still are people who know about white and black tie and why cummerbunds matter. They know all about what Mr. Hanson discusses and they live in the neighborhoods you aspire to invade. It’s true. So suck in those bra straps and listen up:

Leroy Watches Jr. & the Badass Bull was a finalist in the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards

While you're learning about etiquette though Downton Abbey, I'll add a bit in the sidebar. Leroy Watches Jr. & the Badass Bull was a finalist in the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards in the Western Category. I'd call it a contemporary visionary western, replete with rodeo and shamans.

 

 

Dounton Etiquette Explained – Series 3 Episode 1

Downton Etiquette Explained – Series 3 Episode 2

Downton Etiquette Explained – Series 3 Episode 3

Downton Etiquette Explained – Series 3 Episode 4

Downton Etiquette Explained – Series 3 Episode 5

Downton Etiquette Explained – Series 3 Episode 6  Tons of great info throughout, but Hanson’s commentary here is stellar, as he explains proper white tie dress. I must raise a nit. In the Chicago Manual of Style, the novelist’s bible, the very few words are upper-cased. I would rather see white tie than White Tie. But my editor may say something else.

Downton Etiquette Explained – Series 3 Episode 7

Downton Etiquette Explained – Series 3 Episode 8

 

You can find the most wonderful things by Googling. A while ago, I found Rick Mora, Native American actor, model, and activist by Googling “beautiful Native American man.” Half the image results that came up were of Rick. I shot off the famous email that started everything, and now, he’s not only on the cover of my new book, Mogollon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mayhem, I think we’re Facebook Friends. Are we Rick?

I found William Hanson by Googling some etiquette-related topic.  And I found the marvelous Black Tie Guide | A Gentleman’s Guide to Formal Wear, where you can get straightened out on the difference between proper black tie and white tie apparel. Alas, the author was critical of President Obama’s formal dress. I make it a point not to criticize heads of state, especially those who control drones.

Leroy Watches Jr. Will he turn into this?

Leroy Watches Jr. Will we lose our Leroy? Will he turn into this?

Which brings us to the point of all this: you can rise as high as you can, be as smart as you want, and be the first of your race of sex to achieve the ultimate, but if you don’t get your cummerbund right, someone will take pot shots at you.

I point this out time and again in my writing, and I do it in large print in In Love by Christmas. Will Leroy change from the informal, manly guy we know to something like the fellow to the left?

Suave, sophisticated, properly dressed?

Lord, help us.

My, I’ve gone on. I should sell this post as a Kindle short!

Sandy Nathan
Sandy’s Website
Sandy’s Interactive Website
Sandy’s Facebook Page

The Most Important Writing in Your Book by Laren Bright

LAREN BRIGHT

LAREN BRIGHT

Laren Bright of Laren Bright Words is our guest blogger. Laren is an outstanding, amazing writer of book copy and other advertising text. What is book copy? The words that sell your book, otherwise known as the title, sub title, back cover text, and so on. Laren explains in greater detail below. Laren wrote the copy on my books Numenon and Stepping Off the Edge. I’m delighted with what he did. Laren has the ability to create magic from ordinary words.

Please join me in welcoming Laren Bright.

Sandy Nathan, Your Shelf Life

The Most Important Writing in Your Book

So, you’ve written a book. Or you’re writing a book. Or you’re thinking of writing a book. If you plan to sell your book, there is something you need to know: The best message in the world won’t sell unless it’s presented so people want to buy it.

Here’s a short outline on what you need to know about writing promo text, which includes title, sub title, back cover, flap text (or equivalent), and your short author’s bio. At the end I’m going to tell you why you shouldn’t write your own promo text.

Title. A good title, generally, relates to the content of the book, is interesting, and, if applicable, offers or implies a benefit. (This does not necessarily apply to fiction books, but it may.) Of my own work, my favorite title is Soldiers, Scoundrels, Poets & Priests.

Sub title. Where the title stimulates interest, the sub title is a statement of what’s in the book. In the above example, the sub title is: Stories of the Men and Women behind the Missions of California. Between the title that piques interest and the sub title that explains more, browsers pretty much know if the book is something they’re interested in. If they’re not sold yet, they will turn to the back cover.

Back Cover. The back cover is the first place where you have a shot at really selling your book. If you’ve got a nibble with the front cover, then you can start to set the hook with the back cover. The back cover is the place to describe the benefits; what the reader is going to get out of the book. The back cover presents the promise.

Flap Text. The flap or about the book text takes the promise you stated on the back cover and tells how you’re going to deliver it. You want to give solid information that give substance to your claims. But what about trade paperbacks that don’t have flaps? I frequently work with a fabulous book producer/book shepherd named Ellen Reid. Ellen recognized that the flaps were key selling real estate that was lost in a trade paperback. So she created the About the Book page, which contains the text you’d normally put on the flap. This page appears in one of the first inside pages of the book so that browsers see it almost immediately upon opening the book. Ellen singlehandedly restored the benefit of flaps to books without flaps.

Author’s Short Bio. Start with this awareness: No one cares about you. (Okay, your mom probably thinks you’re swell.) Until they get the benefit from your book, things like where you went to school, what your hobbies are, that you’re a member of the Lion’s Club mean little to the browser. So the whole point of the Short Bio is to establish you as someone who knows enough about your subject that the browser wants to know what you know. Keep your piece short and focus only on what supports you as an expert in your field. Having said that, I generally like to throw in a line to humanize the author. For example, for Sandy Nathan I wrote: She is a writer, a rider, a wife and a mother of three grown children.

Okay, so those are the secrets of book promo writing I’ve gleaned over the course of more than 10 years writing for authors and 40 years writing advertising copy. Now here are 4 reasons why I think it doesn’t serve you to try and write your own promo text – unless you are a professional in sales and promotion.

• Not all the above keys apply all the time. It takes experience to know when they do and when they don’t.

• Authors tend to forget what the browser doesn’t already know. So what is a clever or clear title to the author may be totally meaningless to the browser.

• You are almost certainly too close to your subject to be able to communicate the benefits in a nutshell. Virtually every attempt I’ve seen at back cover/flap text by an author tries to give away the whole book instead of tempt and titillate.

• Most people have a really tough time realizing how much they really know that others don’t know. So most authors’ attempts at writing their author’s bio is less effective than it could be, which can make the difference between a sale or a pass.

• Writing a book requires exercising a very different muscle than writing promo text. A professional copywriter spends a great deal of time thinking in terms of benefits vs. features. You need to know which is which and where to apply one or the other.

Getting a book written & into print is one thing. Getting it done so that it’s salable is something else. If you have confidence in your book and think you can sell it and make money with it, then it’s worth investing money to give it the best shot at selling successfully.

LAREN BRIGHT

LAREN BRIGHT

Laren Bright is an Emmy nominated, award-winning writer who has been assisting people (and companies) with promo text that sells for more years than he cares to think about.

LAREN BRIGHT

LAREN BRIGHT

www.larenbright.com

The illustrations on this blog post were made by Laren’s colleagues when he worked in animation.

Negotiation Skills and Working with Professionals – Add a little Sugar!

I'd work for these cookies––French macaroons.

Cookies make a difference. These are French macaroons, or Luxembourgers, made by Burdick Chocolates of Northhampton, MA. Photo courtesy of Burdick Chocolates.

I recently posted an article by super publicist Susan Schwartzman about working with a publicist and the importance of sending cookies once in a while.

This seems like a small thing––maybe even a bribe––but it’s not. What Ms. Schwartzman introduces is the very large topic of use of influence. Use of influence means what authors can do to maximize their impact in an intensely competitive world. Ms. Schwartzman‘s message applies not only to publicists, but to everyone the author touches in a publishing endeavor.

The author’s problem is BEING NOTICED. Whether self published or published by the majors, an author needs to get the attention of  his or her literary agent, book shepherd, cover and interior designers, publisher, publicist, editor, and especially intended readers.

Can you do it? Don’t think the quality of your book alone will catapult you to the front lines––you need negotiation skills here. You need communication skills and more.

Do you know how to listen to another person and deeply understand that person’s point of view? Can you send messages about your wants and needs that don’t feel like threats? Can you formulate a solution to the problem that benefits all participants?

If you can’t do these things, take a communication skills course. Add a negotiation skills course on top of that. You don’t have to spend a fortune doing it––most community rec departments offer them. Local junior colleges and high school adult ed departments give such courses. Learn personal skills, in addition to “How to write a perfect query letter.”

I once led a T-group at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. A T-group is like a therapy group, except it focuses on personal skills as they impact business situations. Studies have shown that students who do well in T-groups at the major business schools excel in their professional and personal lives. These are the movers and shakers: They make the most money and win life’s prizes.

The professor in charge made a devastating comment: “If you can’t motivate this group, how do you expect to attain your life goals?”

If you can’t move those closest to you, how to you expect to end up the CEO of a major corporation? Or save lives in Africa? Or get anyone to read your book, much less buy it?”

How can you motivate others? With cookies.

Of course, your publicist will work hard for you without them, but how do you make sure your job is the one that gets done at the end of the day?

Good manners is part of it. Assertive good manners. [Take an assertiveness training, too.] I’ll go over assertive techniques in later posts. Be kind and understand the point of view of the person you’re dealing with. That’s why I liked Susan Schwartzman’s article so much: Though she’s a top publicist, she reveals herself as a person in her blog post.

[Nathan Bransford is a blog writer who gives his audience a clear view of what a literary agent's life is like. This is very useful information for one attempting to be represented by an agent. Mr. Bransford talks about the joys of coming to work on Monday and finding 400 queries in his in-box. How do you approach someone in this situation? This is an opportunity to practice communication and negotiation skills.]

Life as a publishing industry professional is rough. How does one keep going?

He looks cute, doesn't he?

Raj looks cute, doesn't he? Hah! This 30 pound dog flipped an 80 pound Aussie on her back and terrorized a German shepherd.

Cookies really help. Positive reinforcement, behavioral psychologists call it. Here’s a story about positive reinforcement, also known as operant conditioning.

As a lifelong horsewoman, I’ve known about positive reinforcement for a long time. The “horse whisperer” type trainers use it. But when we got a “special needs” Cocker spaniel from the pound, I understood the real power of positive reinforcement. [Click for an article about this problem dog.]

Raj was a frigging nightmare, the attack-Cocker from hell. Within days of our rescuing him, he’d terrorized our much larger dogs and dominated our household. He made me a nervous wreck and caused my husband to rave about sending him back from whence he came. So what if they’d off him? He was killing us.

In desperation, I called my vet, who said, “Call Amanda!” Amanda is a dog trainer who uses only positive techniques. She was so nice that I couldn’t imagine her handing an aggressive dog, much less our stone cold killer.

Raj adored her. By the end of our sessions, she had him eating out of her hand (not eating her hand). He became a positive member of our social unit. Today, the human and canine Nathan pack loves Amanda––and Raj. [I wrote a series of articles about this transformation. Here's a link.]

What was the secret? Amanda rewarded-–in a currency that the Raj appreciated (bits of hot dogs)––everything he did that was desirable and IGNORED the rest. This sounds like it would take forever, but it’s actually very fast.

Find the currency the person you’re relating with wants and give it to them. (Subject to moral and legal constraints, of course.)

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT IS 9 TIMES AS EFFECTIVE AS NEGATIVE. (Maybe even more. I forget the statistics Amanda cited.) Praise, cookies, acknowledgment, kindness––all of these work better than hostility, blame, rank pulling and abuse, physical or verbal abuse.

You can get noticed being a bad guy.

You can get noticed being a bad guy. Poor Sumo was so scared he wouldn't get out of the cart when Raj was around. Is this good? No. Raj is lucky he's alive.

You’re in a negotiation called life. You want your world to notice you. You can get noticed by being the meanest, most foul mouthed, bad-patootie on the block. By getting full-body implants and flaunting them. By setting yourself on fire in public––metaphorically or in reality.

Do these tactics buy you what you want? Why not figure out what those on your team want and give it to them? Why not figure out what the guys on the other team want and see areas of commonality? Why not use all your skills, including those of your heart and soul, to attain your goals?

Cookies are a tie breaker. Give cookies and you’ll get noticed in a positive way. Undoubtedly, the good wishes and intentions behind such gifts are what motivate theor recipient to expend that little extra bit of energy––that puts you in Time Magazine.

One more story on the value of positive reinforcement:

My daughter Zoe went to school in New York.  On one trip home, her plane had some problem and was taken out of service.  Everyone had to be rerouted. It was a mess; inconvenient, irritating.

Zoe stood in line at the airline’s counter and watched her fellow passengers REAM the airline employee who was working hard to put them on different, hopefully functional, planes. They acted as though the employee had personally disabled the first plane.

When she finally reached the desk, Zoe said, “Everyone’s acting like it’s your fault, but I think you’re doing a great job. Thank you!”

The woman gave her first class tickets all the way home.

You think cookies matter?

Award Winning Author of Numenon & Stepping Off the Edge

Award Winning Author of Numenon & Stepping Off the Edge

Sandy Nathan
Award winning author of Numenon and Stepping Off the Edge.
(And negotiation coach, as well as teacher/coach of communications and assertiveness trainings!)

Would you like some of the cookies up top? They’re all the rage in Paris––lines form to purchase “les macarons”––and now Burdicks is shipping them! These hand-piped, tender meringue treats are filled with flavored buttercreams. All natural flavorings of chocolate, coffee, pistachio, raspberry, lavender, almond-citrus and ginger. The assortment of fifteen is presented in a unique polka-dotted box. Click here for a review. Click to go to  LA Burdick Chocolate’s website to order.

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