Monday, July 30, 2012

Marriott #Mancandy Pics from #RWA12

RWA Conference. My very first. Much like other virgin experiences, fun, exciting, and often overwhelming.

Something that helped me keep my mental balance among the 2,000+ women writers and industry professionals, was the tasty serving of mancandy everywhere I went.

Got baggage?

Guys like these stood by in the lobby, ready to assist a bewildered traveler.
Bellhops, check-in peeps, concierges - everybody (male and female alike) was so helpful, and very attractive, but mostly moving so fast it was hard to capture 'em.

Got thirst?

Then there were the men there to get us drunk help us to relax and learn about the romance of the cocktail.  From Van Gogh Vodka's Setting the Scene with Cocktails:
Fine spirits and wines can add sophistication, passion, humor and richness to a novel. Female characters often bond during a ladies' night out, and a romantic evening on the town wouldn't be complete without the cocktails.

Teaching us was The Cocktail Guru, Jonathan Pogash.

Jonathan Pogash, The Cocktail Guru, served us up custom drinks:
Honey Pom Pom, Dutch Chocolate Desire, and Van Gogh Vodka's
tasty and smooth new Cool Peach Vodka over ice.
We were all much impressed by Jonathan's smooth, mellifluous voice
and his whole-body vodka shaking technique.

Vodka not your thing? I sampled several interesting drinks I'd never even heard of before. On my first night, I ordered something called 68 Degrees (which seemed to be the warmest temperature in all the conference rooms, my only complaint). This drink was a pale purple and included elderberry liqueur, with a mystery dark fruit on the skewer that I found out later was a dried black cherry, rehydrated in maraschino liqueur.

Mmmmm, sweet and chewy.

Marriott bar manager Joshua Miller (or Leo di Caprio, as his bartender teased him).
He created the "Nightingale" just for RWA using Creme de Violet.
In keeping with the Hollywood theme, I thought bartender Mike Russell, Jr.,
totally looked like a young Joseph Fiennes (if not from this angle).

Got badge?

Then there were the men in uniform from Breakwater Security, fueling my fantasies keeping us safe.

Flavio Fernandez, I'm sorry. You did have your (very fine) eyes closed. I should've taken another shot.
(With the camera, not with the Van Gogh Vodka, which immediately preceded my effort here.)
Mike Rojas, you've got a sexy look going with or without the glasses.

Got kink?

I did not see a single woman get up from the discreetly draped massage tables or chairs of De'Leon's Heavenly Hands without a smile on her face.  In fact, just walking past the set-up in the hallway outside the ballrooms put a smile on my face.

Mr Heavenly Hands, De'Leon himself.

Masseur Luke Strode

Got kilt?

There were any number of handsome husbands and SigMaleOthers present throughout the event, some looking elegant and classic in suits and tuxes, and several in formal kilts down to their socks and shoes. I did not check under any kilts to see if they were wearing traditional Scottish undergarments (that is, commando-style), but I couldn't help wondering about it...

Our very own LARA member and romance writer Rick Ochocki rockin' a kilt at the Awards Ceremony.
I will be posting later about many of the other interesting and inspirational events from conference, especially the incredible generosity and kindness of so many other writers.  About the dumb things I did or forgot, like packing my glasses (which led directly to The Unfortunate Incident of the Toilet Seat in the Night-Time).

I am still somewhat disorganized in my thoughts, plucking random ones out of the air. Like noticing that the hotel room had electrical outlets everywhere, even on the base of the bedside lamp, which would be especially convenient for plugging in a vibrator a charger for your smartphone.

I did remember to pack that, at least. (My phone charger, what were you thinking?!)

*No males were harmed in the writing and photography of this post.

Did you notice the tasty mancandy all around us?
Or did you bring your own hero to the party?
Your preliminary RWA conference thoughts?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Holding On To My Dreams

I have totally been on a Triumph kick lately. 

Sexy guys, lyrically uplifting music.

"Hold on, hold on to your dreams....
Listen to your heart, and hold on to your dreams."

from Follow Your Heart:

"Don't wait any longer...
Follow your heart...

...Luck will finally arrive
Keep on runnin', your time is comin'
Keep your dreams alive."

Best of all, I can just hit Play on my electronic devices to be reinspired, in air-conditioned comfort. As opposed to the first time Triumph inspired me, in the dust and heat and crowds of Glen Helen Regional Park.

What's inspiring you today? 
What dreams are you holding onto?
How are you following your heart?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Popping My Cherry at ToastWriters

Cherry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm shy, therefore, I write. Yet I know I need to learn how to pitch my work. In Person. (Especially with RWA Conference coming up!)

And my work, erotic fiction, can be kind of hard to talk about (pun intended).

So yesterday I made my virgin (aka Ice Breaker) speech at the Toastmasters group I joined a few months back.

Among the other things, the Ice Breaker speech is supposed to last 5-7 minutes, include an opening, body, and conclusion, and a few personal anecdotes.

Well, I did it - and lived to tell about it.

Here now my speech (as prepared):

Greetings. fellow ToastWriters and honored guests. My topic today is Learning the Ropes: Erotica and Erotic Romance. Why does reading this kind of material make the world a better and happier place? What is erotic romance, anyway?

My childhood included parents who were very open about sexuality. My dad subscribed to Playboy, and as a very little girl I was allowed to look at the covers to try to find the bunny that was hidden on each one. Sometimes it was the way the model spread her legs... Where’s Waldo before we had Waldo.

I found out later that not all children enjoyed this freedom, after my embarrassed mother told me it was not okay to share this game with the neighborhood.

If you didn’t grow up with that kind of openness, how do you learn? Reading erotic material offers a safe way to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. I’m not suggesting that people need to have anything more than what they call “vanilla sex.” Personally, I love vanilla.  I’m not even suggesting people have any sex at all. I’m a firm believer in people choosing to be celibate for however long suits them, for whatever reason.

Reality is, most people will have at least one romantic relationship at some point in their lives which includes physical touch. It’s scientifically proven that when there’s an exchange of bodily fluids, whether that’s sweat, saliva, or... other fluids, there’s an actual chemical bonding that takes place. The other person literally gets under your skin. This is yet another reason you should choose your partners with care, and why it’s so hard to break up with someone, even when you know you should.

Porn is mostly about the sexual acts, themselves; Insert Part A into Slot B. Erotica and erotic romance explores the emotional change, growth and feelings that come about before, during, and after sexual activity. In romance, you must have love, and characters who come together at the end in a Happily Ever After, or at least a Happily For Now. 50 Shades of Grey features romantic interactions between the two main characters for most of the book, but in the end of the first book, the girl is alone, crying into her pillow. (Sorry if I spoiled that for you.) Because we don’t have a Happy Ending, that makes 50 Shades erotica, rather than erotic romance.

Most people simply get slammed up across these feelings in real life. Often people become sexual partners with someone without fully understanding their own feelings, boundaries, and desires, or those of their partner, until they are approached to do something... unusual.

Let me give you an example. A friend once described to me her boyfriend’s kink. He frequently liked her to be on all fours.

Wearing an actual dog collar.


Isn’t that the kind of thing you’d like to find out before you married or moved in with this person?  So you could say, okay, I can work with that, or, that sounds like fun, or, not in this lifetime!

I recently read an erotic romance called Crash Into You. One reviewer loved the bondage, the spanking, the Dom/submissive vibe, but when she read up to the ménage scene, aka a threesome, she totally freaked out, hated it.

For me, that was the best part. It reminded me of my first kiss.

I was five or six years old, and I was playing with Billy and Tommy Schmidt, my age, in my backyard. We were playing “wedding,” and they took turns playing the groom and the minister.  Of course, the only part we remembered was, “You may now kiss the bride.”  One of them would kiss me, then switch places.

It wasn’t too long before we got bored and went to go ride bikes.

So for me, ménage isn’t scary. Kind of a warm, fuzzy memory. Being beaten with a cane, or that whole dog collar, barking thing...

There’s not a bone in the world that could tempt me into playing Lassie.

You might be sitting there thinking you want to stop at Petco on the way home from this meeting. I’m not judging. More power to you!
English: Petco store, Lewiston, Maine.
English: Petco store, Lewiston, Maine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obviously, not everything you read about is even possible. I’m not expecting to commit a murder, visit outer space, or engage in hot lesbian vampire sex. But if you’re accustomed to exploring your feelings through reading or writing, you’ll be better able to talk about them. I believe if more people could clearly express their feelings, it would lead to fewer unpleasant surprises, less cheating and fewer divorces.

Let me repeat, I think celibacy can be a great choice. But if you belong to the vast majority of people who are sexually active, it’s a very good idea to understand what makes you tingle, and what makes you want to toss your cookies.

So, I read and write erotic romance because I see it as doing my part to make the world a better and happier place.

Did I deliver it exactly as prepared? No. I had planned - and hoped - to deliver it without notes.  I did tell, rather than read it, which is what you're supposed to to, but in the days leading up to the meeting, I kept reading it out loud, timing it, trimming and rearranging parts.  I started out okay, but experienced brain freeze, and could not deliver it without looking at my notes from time to time. (Guess I should have started on my new Gingko Biloba regimen sooner than the day before my speech.)

It is allowed, though, to use notes when delivering a speech. Therefore, I did not have to cry and run out of the room in shame.

I ran slightly longer than expected (7:23). I had been timing it at 6:30, but though I wrote bits that I thought (hoped) would have the audience laughing and/or commenting, and built in some "beats" for that (and they did laugh, mostly where I expected), I didn't build in quite enough time.

There was a big Toastmasters event the day before, so attendance was light (something I had cravenly counted on when signing up, heh heh heh) - only about 17 other people were present (which feels like a LOT when you are giving your first speech).  I did remember to prepare an introductory bio to be read when I was introduced (and now I have it done, only needing tweaking, for future speeches).

I had not expected but I was unsurprised to experience a major face breakout beginning on the Wednesday before my Sunday speech. Nothing like stress zits to add that extra note of confidence!

Directly before the meeting, I attended my LARA meeting, where the awesome Dee J. Adams gave an incredible presentation on pitching. Many things she said stuck with me (plus I am gleefully delighted to have a fabulous handout that I'll be using all week), but one tip that really helped, was not to mistake nerves for fear. I realized, as I was sitting in my chair at ToastWriters, heart racing, that I was experiencing nerves, not fear. I knew I could do this, and that every person on that room wanted me to succeed.

Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Toastmasters is a very successful and supportive organization. Lots of clapping, all the time (no matter how lame something you say might be). This particular chapter, ToastWriters, is organized specifically to help authors pitch their work, and in every meeting there's occasion to stand up, give a brief bio and do your elevator pitch.  (And what author can't use that practice?) After my speech, people gave me many encouraging notes, plus I received a formal evaluation from one of the members.

The evaluations are pretty much a praise sandwich - they look to tell you many things they liked about your speech, so that you'll want to give one again, slipping in perhaps a few pointers for areas that could be improved. Brent Ramirez (thank you, Brent!) evaluated me and (as is appropriate when dealing with a nervous virgin) he was quite gentle with me. He liked that my speech had a moral, so to speak, that while my subject matter had the potential for being quite embarrassing even to listen to, I skirted the edge of being provocative without quite crossing the line.  I did need to make better eye contact with the audience, spend less time with my hands knotted in front of me (when I was not glancing at the table behind me for my notes).  Generally there is a podium; there wasn't this past time. People said they liked the humor and the childhood anecdotes.

So now I am buzzing with happy "It's Over and It Wasn't A Total FusterCluck" vibes. I don't know that I will ever love giving a speech. I'm still a writer, and it's much easier for me to hide behind a keyboard until my words are polished and shiny. But now I know I can do it, and live to tell the tale, and (joy of joys!) I will never, ever have to give a VIRGIN speech again.

Have you ever given a speech?
What was your first speech like?
If you haven't, does my account make you even a little less terrified at the thought?
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Got Getty? Artful Installations, Plus
Esoteric in Escondido

Got Getty?

One of my favorite places to bring SoCal visitors is to the Getty Center. Both the Getty Villa in Malibu and the Getty Center near the 405 & 10 freeways boast gorgeous works of Art, but only the Center offers magnificent views over such a large part of the LA basin.

Admission is FREE - but parking is $15.00 per vehicle. (Carpool, anyone?) For the Villa in Malibu, a timed-entry ticket is required.

You can walk (steep but good exercise) or take the tram up the hill.

Sculptures, waterfalls, fountains, and garden elements are everywhere.
Inside the Museum Entrance Hall. The architecture is breathtaking - and they offer free docent-led tours
that point out things you might have missed.

Got kids?

The Getty is very family-friendly.  You can bring your own picnic lunch, or get kid favorites like pizza, hot dogs, peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches at the cafe. (There are some restrictions on bringing kid-carrying backpacks and food into the galleries where the priceless art lives. Strollers & wheelchairs available at two locations.)  The South Pavilion restroom offers a private nursing area. Most materials are available in English and Spanish. There are free outdoor kid concerts, and much more.

Check out the little girl walking along the wide, inviting path around the fountain
(with mom holding her hand).

Galleries. Priceless Paintings. If you want to go nose to nose with a Monet or a Van Gogh, you can do so here.
Well, they WILL make you back off a few inches. And flash photography is not permitted.

The Cactus Garden, and a glimpse of the West Side of LA and the 405 freeway.

To the northeast, the San Gabriel mountains. (Yes, that is snow.)
From another viewpoint on the same balcony, you can see the ocean (weather permitting).
The wide, green lawns are perfect for picnics - or rolling down the hill.
An intimate zigzag path that traverses this stream, leads from the top of the hill -
and big rocks, to tiny ones at the bottom, and a waterfall.
Listen to the water - it is actually tuned to give different sounds.
Waterfall into the azalea maze garden.

The gardens are spectacular, and always changing.

Chairs and benches are set under the bougainvillea bowers.

You can see the waterfall emptying into the circle maze feature to the right.
There are no bad views from the Getty.

Sun, sky, stone. The place just inspires you to get artsy, with camera or sketchpad.
No matter how often I go to the Getty, I always find something amazing that takes my breath away. The exhibitions are always changing, and the weather becomes my guide - on sunny days, I explore the gardens and the outside. On cool, foggy days, I spend my time mostly inside the galleries.

Do you know where the name California came from?

Explore and learn from this gem, tucked away inside Kit Carson Park in Escondido (Northern San Diego County). Queen Califia's Magical Circle, an art installation by artist Niki de Saint Phalle.
The garden, like the state itself, takes its name from the legendary black Amazon queen, Califia, who was believed to rule a terrestrial island paradise of gold and riches. The legend was first popularized in the early 16th century romance novel, Las Sergas de Esplandian (The Exploits of Explandian) that received wide circulation in Spain.

Cost - FREE 

Pass through the circular snake wall and the maze entryway...

Queen Califia, an archetype of feminine power and strength, astride her eagle throne.

A golden "egg" is hidden under the body of the eagle, and the inside is a gorgeous, shimmery blue.
From the inside, the mirror section of the maze reflect the multicolored sculptures.

from the outside, looking past the snake wall at one of the totems.

Children seem to love exploring the place - the mazes, the totems, the walls.
It's not only beautiful to look at, but tempts almost all the senses: feeling the textures of the mosaics,
from mirror-shiny to rough or rounded. Smelling the native plants.
Testing the sounds made from inside the snake wall or the maze.
Inside the Queen/Eagle, a section of the inner dome.

The eight totem figures offer all kind of posing inspiration. That's my son, showing his.
On the left, you can see the golden egg under the eagle.
Over the right maze wall, some of the snakes that form the snake wall.

de Saint Phalle personally selected dozens of varieties of glass of different shapes, color,
hue, translucency, and degrees of reflection.

Bullhead totem, with snake wall in the background.
 (All photos copyright Beverly Diehl. You may borrow, with attribution & link, please.)

Native trees and plantings are sited along the garden's perimeter and behind each of the three benches in the interior.  The snakes actually have plantings inset along their backs. Queen Califia Fact Sheet.

I loved going to this place. No food or drink is permitted inside, but you could bring s picnic lunch and find a nice place nearby (Kit Carson Park itself is HUGE, over 100 acres, with youth and adult ball fields, soccer fields, playgrounds, ponds, frisbee golf course, skate parks...)

So, next time I'm near Escondido, I'm definitely making time to revisit the Queen. And the Getty, I haunt a couple times of a year (plus I set a scene in my last novel there).

This post is part of a blog hop with SoCal Lady Bloggers, sharing our favorite SoCal spots.

So, have you been to either/both of these places?
Do you have a favorite SoCal spot that not everybody knows about (yet)?

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Dancing into an Interview with Laura Sheehan

Laura Sheehan's debut novel Dancing With Danger was released in May 2012. You can read what I thought about it here.  Here's the quickie synopsis, (because everyone loves a quickie):
Lily Brookstone, the daughter of a workaholic United States Senator, defies her father's wishes by moving to Los Angeles in pursuit of a dancing career. But the tough town hasn't been easy on her, and after two years she finds herself disowned by her father, dropped by her agent, recovering from a dance injury, and working three jobs to make ends meet. Oh, and she's somehow picked up a stalker.  Yeah, Los Angeles has not been kind.

Then she meets Marc, an LAPD officer with an uncanny knack for reading people. Can she overcome her untrusting nature and allow him to protect both her life and her heart? 

1) What most surprised you about the process of becoming published with Red Sage?

Definitely the speed with which it happened. I submitted my query letter and first few pages of the manuscript, and within a few weeks, I received a request for the full.  A few weeks after that, I got the offer, and once I accepted, my release date was set only a little over a month from then.  It was crazy!  It took me about a year and half to write, a year to revise and submit to agents/editors, and then once I got The Call, it all happened so fast!

2) We all put bits of ourselves into our characters - and totally make other stuff up. What part(s) of Lily do people assume are autobiographical that are totally NOT?

Well, I grew up in Las Vegas and have been a professional dancer since I was in my late teens. You put those two phrases together ("Vegas" and "professional dancer") and many people automatically assume: STRIPPER.  Or, at least: TOPLESS SHOWGIRL. But I assure you, I have never done either profession! It's not that I look down on those careers, it's just never something I've been able to participate in (being only 5'3", there's no production on the planet that would hire me as a showgirl! Most are 5'9" or taller, and if you're shorter than 5'7", you'll be cut at the first round of auditions; trust me, I know.)

So, although I have danced in a variety of professional environments, Lily's experience as a topless dancer in DANCING WITH DANGER is not actually based on my real life experience. (I'm sure my dad is breathing a sigh of relief about now).

3) Tell us about the process of researching Lily's stint at Vixens from Dancing With Danger .

In my circle of friends, whenever one of us turned 18, the celebration included going to an all-nude strip club called Li'l Darlin's. Apparently, this is unusual, but at the time, it seemed perfectly normal.  Growing up in Vegas may sound exciting, but because the legal drinking age is 21, the vast majority of "fun" things to do in Vegas were restricted to people over that age.  It was impossible to find a dance club that would allow teenagers in, and you couldn't even go to the shows on the Strip without being accompanied by someone 21 or older (since they served alcohol in the lobby). (In fact, at age 18 I could DANCE in one of those shows, but couldn't go SEE the show without an "adult" accompanying me.)

But back to your question: I visited strip clubs fairly frequently in my late teens, and enjoyed tipping the dancers who were particularly talented. During my college years, a high school buddy visited me in LA and we went to a strip club for old time's sake. I was the only woman in the audience, and the DJ targeted me to join some of the dancers, which I did, and and then was taken backstage. It was silly and fun, and I got a peek at the "back end" of the club, which I have to admit, was pretty unimpressive.  I took tons of mental notes as I explored their dressing room and witnessed the dynamics between the dancers. I'm sure each club is different, but what I witnessed backstage was the inspiration for the backstage scenes in DANCING WITH DANGER.

4) Is there anything Lily does that ticks you off? Was she difficult in any particular way when you were writing her story?

Nothing about her really ticked me off, which might not be a good thing (as author's we're supposed to push the limits, right?). But I did struggle with her fiercely independent nature... I am a big communicator, I love to share my story with others, seek support from friends when needed and offer it back in return when they need it, so it was hard for me to not let Lily do that too easily.

5) You yourself are a dancer and a writer. How do you transition from one role to another? Do you ever "dance out" a story?

The dance sequences in this book were some of my favorite scenes to write!  As a kid who was in and out of the hospital a lot, I'd taught myself to learn choreography by watching it (which helped me keep my dancing chops while bedridden), and to choreograph moves in my head, without having to perform them out.  This was extremely helpful when writing the dance sequences, as I don't have a stripper pole in my living room to choreograph things in actual life!

However, I did employ my husband to help with some of the physically romantic sequences... I wanted to get the love scenes "just right," and the best way to do that is research, right? :-)

6) Have you, or would you want to, work with a crit group? Why or why not?

I am not against it, but I haven't yet found a group that I've clicked with.  My mother is an excellent writing partner, and my husband is great resource when I'm suffering from writer's block, but it would be nice to find a local crit group to work with. I really enjoy helping others with their manuscripts and have recently been volunteering as a judge for RWA chapter contests.  I received some excellent critiques from contests that I submitted to, and they made my manuscript so much stronger. I like the idea of helping others in the same way, and I will definitely take advantage of those critique opportunities again with my next novel (once I finish it!)

7) You entered Dancing With Danger in a number of contests. Was this pre- or post- Red Sage contract? Do you feel it helped secure a publishing contract (if before) or boosted sales (if after)?

I submitted to four contests, plus the Golden Heart, all before receiving the offer from Red Sage. I finalled in three out of the four, and won first place in one. The first (which was the one I did not final in) was a bad match for me. I was so excited to have finished the manuscript, that I submitted it to the next available contest, which didn't have a romantic suspense category... so I'm not surprised I didn't get very far!  The other three contests were great, however.  It was lovely to receive positive feedback. 

The critiques were varied, some I disagreed with, some I grudgingly acknowledged, but one critique in particular was absolutely amazing.  She was one of the harshest judges, but her comments were spot on and her suggestions for improvement made my manuscript so much better.  I received these suggestions just after accepting the Red Sage contract, and implemented the changes after discussing it with my editor (who then proceeded using the revised version).

8) Are you still a contest-entering writer? Why or why not?

Right now I am spending more time judging than writing, but hope to remedy that after this last batch of entries has been completed.  But I absolutely will submit my next WIP to contests when I'm done.  It's a good way to get your manuscript in the best shape possible before trying to sell it. (and who knows: maybe the final judge will be an agent or editor who will fall in love with it!)

9) I read on Veronica Scott's blog you're working on a fantasy romance. Why the jump in genre - and what excites you about the new novel?

Fantasy was my first love, I didn't discover romance novels until I was an adult. I've read that as a new author, I should stick to one genre until I become established, but this fantasy story has been bouncing around my brain for years and is gaining momentum everyday.  I just can't ignore it!  When trying to fall asleep, scenes from this yet-to-be-written novel play out in my mind, when I'm stuck in traffic, my mind wanders to characters that will appear in the book... it's a story that simply won't be ignored, so I've just got to get it out!

Plus, romantic suspense and fantasy romance can be quite similar.  Both can be chock-full of action and adventure, dangerous situations and romantic interludes... the main difference is the setting.  One takes place in our current world, the other in a more fantastical world. To my mind, it's not much of a leap. The possibilities with a fantasy are endless. I'm not constrained by the confines of reality. I can make magic, create cultures, build continents, discover exotic creatures... I am almost overwhelmed by the sheer possibilities!

10) What question have you not yet been asked, that you're dying to answer (and what's the answer?)

Well, first off: this has been such a treat! Your questions were intriguing and so much fun to answer.  Thank you for having me as a guest.  I guess the most frequent comments I've received from readers who know me is: Is Marc based on your husband? And the answer is: yes.  It's no coincidence that me and my heroine share the same first initial, and the same is true for my husband and my hero.  Marc is different in many ways (he has a sharper temper, for example) and there are many aspects of my husband's personality that didn't make it into Marc's character (such as my husband's infinite creativity), but overall, a great deal of Marc's character was inspired from my real-life hero.  In fact, most of Marc's best one-liners are word for word from real life, including the final romantic scene on the dance floor.  I'm one lucky girl!

I also freely stole borrowed Laura's Heat Guide and incorporated it here on my Some Like It Hot page. Laura rates Dancing with Danger as a 4 - Steamy, and I agree.

Image of Laura Sheehan
 Laura Sheehan grew up in Las Vegas but currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, a thoroughly-spoiled cat, and a handful of fish who keep her thoroughly-spoiled cat entertained. When not working at her office day job, she can usually be found in a dance studio, on a softball field, writing at her computer, snuggling with her amazing husband, or eating milk chocolate. Sometimes she can be found doing more than one of these at a time, although when doing so she has to be careful not to get chocolate on the computer keyboard (or on the amazing husband... although now that she thinks about it, that might not be such a bad thing).

Laura writes suspense, paranormal, and fantasy romances. 

DANCING WITH DANGER (Red Sage Publishing) available now on Amazon and B&!

Anything here blow you away?
More questions for Laura?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Be Your Own FaceBook Fangirl - Sharing Awesome Content

An easy way to share content to your FaceBook Fan Page is from your personal News Feed. (This post is a follow-up to one a few days ago on moving around your FaceBook Fan Page.)

1) I see a beautiful photo and post that I would love to Share with my Fan Page.

Click Share.

2) On the popup box, instead of the "On your own Timeline," default, choose the drop down arrow.

3) Choose "On Your Page."

4) If you are an Admin for more than one page, choose WHICH page.  (Be very, very careful choosing which page.) Add a personal comment.

5) It'll appear on your landing page like this, which is also what you see when you go to your page.

6) What does this post look like in your fans' News Feed? Like this.

Will they see it? 

Maybe, maybe not. FaceBook is doing some interesting things re: posting to fans' News Feed for free vs. posting sponsored ads.  And regardless of the system, obviously people won't see anything if they are on vacation or offline. (Disclaimer: as I said in the last FB post, they are making SO many changes so fast that's what's true today may no longer be true an hour from now. I do like the Voice option, and the ability to EDIT my typos.)

But for sure, whether it is streamed to them or not, fans don't see the content you didn't Share or post.  You can get Followers by posting a variety of snarky or beautiful comments, by sharing or uploading beautiful pictures and video, and by commenting on and sharing other people's posts, as well.

Reminder: Make sure you are very, very mindful of your target audience, when sharing from your personal News Feed. You may offend your Chastity McPure, Inspirational Romance fans if you share about the latest discount for floggers, and your Sadistica, Empress of Pain fans may wonder what you're smokin' if you share the latest patterns in calico aprons.

Of course, worst case scenario, there's always the DELETE this post option.

Social Media. Not just about blowing your own horn (because eventually, you will run out of hot air).

Your thoughts, comments, experiences?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Baby Steps, Babycakes, with Your FaceBook Fan Page

What the BLEEP am I supposed to do with a FaceBook Fan Page? 

I hear this from a lot of writers and business people. They've gone ahead, created a FaceBook Fan Page - because other people encouraged 'em to do so, but now what?

If you invest as little as 15-20 minutes every day, you can make your FaceBook Fan Page fun, vibrant, and welcoming.

I'm assuming you already were sold on the reasons why to have a FaceBook Fan Page, how great it is for marketing, blah blah, woof woof. Maybe you got dragged into it kicking and screaming, much like Grandpa who always swore he would never leave a message on some dad-blasted machine, but eventually caved in.

Maybe you set it up and now don't even remember how to get to your FaceBook Fan Page. Or maybe you got an email informing you that So-and-So set you up as a Page Administrator and you know how to do that  about as well as you know how to fly. So here's some basics: (Disclaimer - these work as of the date of this post. FaceBook is constantly growing and changing and in fact just added the "Voice" option last week. And I ain't redoing all the graphics I'd already finished for this post!)

If you want to visit as YOU

use the Pages and Apps (along the left hand side), circled in red. This is how you will get to the option to Invite Your Friends to "Like" your page. (Note: don't keep inviting them too often or you will not only not make fans, but you will be losing Friends, on FaceBook and off.)

You can also visit as "you" to thumb up or leave comments on your Page's posts (personally, I think that's a bit cheesy), or to scan the Page for posts to Share back to your own personal Page.  Rather than just nagging your Friends: "Like My Page, Like My Page," sharing a great post or Photo from your Page is a more subtle way to brag on how good your Page is, and to interest people in Liking it because there's always such great content there. (George Takei, anyone?)

If you want to visit wearing your Page Administrator's hat

use the drop down at the top right, then choose WHICH fan page (if you are Administrator for more than one, like me). You may want to go there as Admin to remove spam, update the company information, or do other posting as your Official Self.

Who am I?

Check along the top right for your current identity. Anything you do, will link back to this identity. So if you are Chastity McPure, Inspirational Love Stories on one Fan Page, and Sadistica, Empress of Pain on another, be extra cautious of your current identity when you comment upon, Like, or Share content from around the web or other fan pages. 

When you get to your Fan Page, and scroll down past the cover picture, this is what you'll see (if you have content). 

If the content on your fan page is only about YOU - your business, your books, your blog posts - you are not interacting, you are promoting.

There is nothing wrong with promoting your work, but you are missing the idea of Social Media, which is to connect with and interact with your friends and associates.  I quickly unFan, unFollow somebody who is always and only promoting her own work, and so do many other people. (Which reminds me, I have someone to UnFan...)

Why Share Other People's Content?

It won't hurt, and it will make them more likely to look for something on your page to share with their friends and fans. That's how word of mouth spreads. I see something witty that you have posted, or a cool photo, or an interesting article, and I share it with "my people," and now they see your name, perhaps they go Fan your page or look for books you have written, if not this time, perhaps the next. They like me better, for sharing something they enjoyed, and now they like you, too.

Liking A Fan Page from A Fan Page

When you do this, not only do you get the posts in your News Feed for the Page, but visitors to your Page can see who your Page Likes. It's another way of sharing the love, though again, if you are wearing your Chastity McPure bonnet you probably don't want to show Genital Piercings for Dummies among your Likes.

Often when I visit a new Fan Page, I will cruise their Likes to see if there are other people I want to Like, too.

If you're a local business, think about other local businesses to add: the Chamber of Commerce, the local zoos and museums. If you're a writer, Fan publishers, agents, other writers.
The content all flows to your Page's News Feed. (At least some of it does. Right now there is some issue as to whether FaceBook is pushing ALL the content to ALL the Fans and Friends, but at least for now, a fair amount makes it through.)

The more content you have, the more you have to choose from as to what to share.  So Liking lots of Fan Pages will give you lots of content.

How Do I See What's In My News Feed?

It sounds backwards, but to get to the Admin Page for your Fan Page, you click on your name. If you want to see the News Feed for the Page, you click on the word Home.

Your News Feed should look much like your personal News Feed, something like this:

From this screen, you can Like a Post, add a comment as your Page to a post, picture or video, or Share it to your own Page.  This is what Social Media is about - sharing cool things, encouraging others, giving other people your valuable opinion. It is meant to be a conversation - not a monologue or sales pitch.

I'll be following up with another post on different ways of sharing content to your FaceBook Fan Page.

P.S. Want to go back to "being you"? Use that drop-down button to the right of Home.

Helpful? Questions?
Liked it? Or "Liked" it?
Found the typo in the last illustration?
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