Tag Archives: brand

Trust Your Story

Tuesday’s Scribe, PJ Sharon here. Have you ever been writing along, minding your plot and meeting your daily word count, only to have your character take you “off track”? Do you catch yourself swearing at your characters and asking them, “Where the *&%*@# are you taking me?” Well, let me tell you…I’ve learned to let them have their way—at least on the first draft. Let me explain why.

After several manuscripts and three or four published novels, I’m finally beginning to trust my internal process. It seems that my unconscious mind knows a lot more about my characters than my conscious mind does and if I let the story evolve organically—rather than trying to control every word that lands on the page—some miraculous things happen. Characters take me to the most interesting places, and if I go along for the ride, there is usually some grand reason they needed to go there. A piece of the puzzle is found, a character flaw is brought to light, or an opportunity for character growth presents itself.

When I wrote ON THIN ICE a few years ago, Penny’s story unfolded and jumped onto the page with such abandon, it seemed as if it was writing itself. I hadn’t planned on all the twists and turns that her story would take, but as it developed and each thread wove itself into her character arc, I had no choice but to follow and see how everything came together in the end. Amazingly, her journey turned out to be profoundly complex and beautiful. Of course, my problem was then trying to sell a story that had multiple subplots and more drama than a season of Dallas.

I had several published authors, a few agents, and even a couple of editors tell me the same thing…get rid of at least two—preferably three—of the subplots. I was told “One teenager could not possibly deal with all of these issues and one or two is enough for any one book if you want to explore them in depth.” So I tried to unravel my plot to remove some of the “unnecessary” subplots. The problem was that I couldn’t. I struggled for several months trying to make the story “marketable” by choosing one story line and then bleeding all over the page for 250 pages. I couldn’t make it work. Deconstructing the story seemed like an impossible task without it losing that special something that made it unique and authentic. Worse, was that it felt like I wasn’t being true to my character. Penny needed to go through all the trials and tribulations she endured in order to become the person she was at the end of the story. It was her journey—not mine—and I didn’t feel right about robbing her of any of the experiences that made her who she was.

Ultimately, I shelved the story and began writing Heaven Is For Heroes, which turned out to be a much more “marketable” story, but by that time, I had decided that the kind of stories I wanted to write were likely not going to fit into a specific mold and that I wasn’t willing to have a traditional publisher “brand” me (ouch!) and put me in a “box” (NO…Not the box!). Enter—Indie publishing.

One of the many things that drew me to Indie pubbing was the freedom to be true to the creative process and write what is in my heart. I’m convinced that there are readers for every well-written book—even if/especially if—it fits outside the box. Why should readers be fed only stories that publishers have deemed saleable? As it turns out, many Indie authors are finding great success because they are taking risks and writing something different. The upsurge in the “New Adult” market proves that readers of all ages want something new–stories that bridge the gap between YA and adult romance–stories about what happens when young adults are faced with real life issues that push them into adulthood.

Although I’ve learned to rein in my characters a bit before they take me too far off course or lead me into some corner I can’t get out of, I’ve also learned to trust my story to take me where my characters need to go to become who they are meant to be—even if it takes me places I never dreamt I’d go. I’ve gotten better at plotting and planning rather than flying by the seat of my pants, but the real joy in writing for me is when my characters take over and lead me on an adventure greater than my mind could have imagined.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart if you’ve already read the book. I greatly appreciate all honest reviews. If you haven’t yet left a review and would like to do so, you can click on the Amazon link below and write a brief line or two about what you liked/or didn’t like about the book. This helps other readers find books that might appeal to them and helps us authors reach new readers. 

So what did you think? Was it too much drama for one book, or did it somehow all work together to make a worthwhile and unique story?on thin ice front cover jpg

If you haven’t read ON THIN ICE, you have one final opportunity to download it for FREE from Amazon this weekend. I won’t be renewing my KDP Select contract, so this is the last time it will be offered as a FREE download for the foreseeable future. It will be available Saturday through Monday, January 26-28th in honor of National Skating month and the US Figure Skating Championships taking place this week.

Bookmark this page and stop back this weekend to download your FREE Kindle copy from Amazon

Although Penny’s dream of Olympic Gold is derailed by life’s cruel twists of fate, she learns what all fierce competitors learn…follow your heart, and never give up.


Being a Social Magnet

Thanks so much Scribes for having me guest blog today.  It’s so much fun to get a chance to speak to your audience and talk about the newest in my Market or Die series, “How to use the Power of your Brand.”

However, there’s one thing I DIDN’T write about in my book because I saved this little nugget just for the Scribes and their fans.  What is it?  Social Magnetism.

There’s a lot of talk in the marketing world about brands who are dubbed, “social magnets.” What this means, by definition, is that followers or readers gravitate to your brand, the way metal is attracted to a magnet.

You’re smart. You know what I’m talking about; the way people will go out of their way to be associated with your brand.  So, how do you know if you’re a social magnet?  Let’s see if you answer “yes” to any of these questions:

1.)    Does the general public wear your brand’s logo on their clothing?

2.)    Does the general public put a bumper sticker on their car with your brand on it?

3.)    Does the general public wear hats or carry bags with your brand name on it?

No?  Well, welcome to the club.  Becoming a social magnet in the mind of the general public usually costs millions of advertising dollars, think Nike, Coca-Cola or GE.  However, there’s ways, as authors, you and I can become social magnets in our own little place in writing world and it’s actually easier than you think.

Acquire new readers – work vigilantly and band together with other writers to increases awareness about your brand and your work.  Sometimes having others promote you is more credible that you promoting yourself, and a ton easier, too.

Make existing readers aware that it’s time to buy again – I’m not talking about a Facebook posting that says, “buy my book.” I’m talking about treating your readers like they’re part of your inner circle and letting them know about a new release ahead of time.  Anyone who reads the MOD blog at www.marketordie.net is treated like they’re part of an inside club, whom I’ve dubbed the MOD trubies, and because they visit my blog on a regular basis they receive information from me first.

Be kind. Pay it forward and spread the wealth.  People are attracted to those who help them and they will help you in return!

Jennifer Fusco is the Creative and Brand Manager for the General Electric Company, North America and the author of the Amazon.com bestselling series, MARKET OR DIE, marketing books for writers.