SPECIAL GUEST: AUTHOR CAT LAROSE

December 15, 2011 at 4:10 am | Posted in Special Guests | 13 Comments
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I’d like to welcome author Catherine Larose to Annette’s Paper Trail for a quick stop on her blog tour for her recently launched memoir Any Color But Beige: Living Life in Color.

“After years of living a beige existence, Cat Larose, international color marketing expert, finally added a little color to her own life. All it took was a Paris sunset and a little red suitcase.”

She had me at “beige existence.” Before I even cracked open her book, um…I mean downloaded it to my Kindle app, I knew Cat’s story would resonate with me. I was always the girl who lived out loud in technicolor, but as I’ve gotten older, time has sandblasted me to a mute sepia.

Cat’s well-developed themes of dissatisfaction and desire for change are a universal wake-up call for women who need to bring new color into their lives, or get back the shades of a vibrant life they’ve somehow lost along the way.

Any Color But Beige takes you on Cat’s personal journey from her decision to leave a beige marriage through her evolution of finding the pulse of color in her life. The backdrop for her soul-searching and dating adventures spans the globe as Cat’s stories of love and loss vividly transport you into scenes that bring the places and cultures (and men) of South Africa, France, and Northern Italy to life. Any Color But Beige reads like a sophisticated chick-lit novel, light in tone yet intellectually satisfying. With every turn of the page, you live vicariously through Cat’s travels and travails as she searches for love and finds herself. Her engaging memoir is a great inspiration to live your life in color.

As an author, I’m not sure there is anything that compares to the feeling you have when you launch your first book. Cat had a fabulous book launch party in Montreal, and in the video, she takes you on a quick trip through that gorgeous cosmopolitan city to attend her special night. Take a peek; it will inspire you to live in color and pursue your writing dreams.

I decided to ask Cat a few questions about her thoughts on memoir writing and color, so grab a cup of tea and join us. And don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Any Color But Beige: Living Life in Color.

Personally, I love memoirs—real people making real decisions in real life situations. I think it’s so much more personal for the author and relatable for the reader. Many writers consider memoir, but are hesitant to put their personal stories “out there.” What made you do it?

I think it depends on the story you have to tell. Some memoirs can be quite dark and heavy and that brings with it a whole host of complications involving not only the writer but also other people. My story centered on my journey, and I think there’s certain lightness to it. Everyone in the memoir advanced my self-knowledge even if their behaviors weren’t always exemplary. Even then, I took precautions by changing details to avoid any unnecessary complications or hard feelings.

What words of wisdom or suggestions do you have for the would-be memoir writers who are teetering on the memoir/fiction fence and afraid to take the leap?

If you’re going to worry about writing a memoir, if it’s going to keep you awake at night, then write fiction. It’s not worth losing sleep over. A good story is still a good story. And it’s still your story.

My thoughts exactly! A memoir is the author’s journey and it’s her personal story to tell, but I always wonder how the other “characters” feel about their starring roles. In your memoir, there are a variety of relationships (marriage, transition guy, no strings attached, et al.) that you explore in your evolution of personal color. Do any of the guys know they’re in the book? If so, how have they reacted?

Two of the men know I’ve written the book. One doesn’t know he’s in it. He hasn’t read it (he’s not a reader) but he says he’s very proud of me. As for the other man, he’s about to get his first copy. He’s the reason I wrote the book, so stay tuned…

I’m taking a little detour here, but I have to mention that I find color theory fascinating. What insights can you share about how/what color influences creativity?

There have been many books written about color psychology and the effect of colors on all aspects of our life. I think you have to consider your own personal preferences and creative tasks at hand. Vibrant colors stimulate the brain and pastels have a calming effect. So, in my sewing room I have pastel colors on the wall while the fabrics I work with are bright and colorful. In my office, I hang purple-colored glass crystals in my window to stimulate the creative process. Purple has been associated with mystery and magic and is perfect for the creative process, which remains a mystery to everyone.

So, what’s next for Cat Larose? Another book? More globe-trotting adventures?

I am working on a turning the book into a screenplay — just for fun. And a second book as well. My next adventure…I’d really like to hop a freighter and visit some exotic ports of call. I think that would give me lots to write about!

***

Readers: Be sure to head over to Cat’s blog and take her quiz Are You Living a Colorful Life? Then come back here and let us know your score! (I’m Flying Down the Highway with 64 color points. Based on some of the questions, I can see there are a few things I can do to add more color in my life.)

***Book Give-Away*** If you would like to be entered into a drawing for a (digital or print) copy of Any Color But BeigeLeave a comment and answer Cat’s question: 

If your life was a color — what color would it be? And why?

***

Catherine “Cat” Larose is an international color-marketing expert who travels the world selling color. A graduate of Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism, Larose previously worked in advertising, public relations and journalism. She is the voice behind the successful Café Girl Chronicles blog (http://cafegirlchronicles.wordpress.com/) and currently writing her second book.

SPECIAL GUEST: AUTHOR ELIZABETH FOURNIER

May 21, 2009 at 7:39 am | Posted in Special Guests | 11 Comments
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ALL MEN ARE CREMATED EQUAL

I’d like to welcome author Elizabeth Fournier to Annette’s Paper Trail. Elizabeth is on a virtual book tour for her recently launched memoir
All Men are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates.

In her book, Elizabeth chronicles her true life dating spree as a marriage-minded mortician in her mid-30′s. Set off by her broken engagement, she enlists everyone in sight to set her up on blind dates in a passionate quest to meet just one really great guy. Armed with a 10-point list of dating criteria, skintight jeans, and flash cards on Nascar, football, and micro-breweries, she spends one full year doing the blind meet and greet. Names are changed to protect the rejected as she humorously dishes dot-com hotties, compulsive bloggers, and tattooed graduates of the Gene Simmons School of Dating. Bridget Jones would be proud of her American cousin.

“This book is fantastic! It was so breezy and fun, and will be an excellent beach read.” – Shelley Kurtz, KVAL-CBS, Eugene, OR Morning Anchor and long-time Pacific Northest Newscaster.

When I was approached by the WOW! Women On Writing blog tour coordinator about hosting a stop on Elizabeth’s tour, I was excited to have the opportunity to pick her brain. As a memoirist, I’m always curious to hear how other writers have approached putting their personal stories onto the page to be released into the world for all to read. So, I asked Elizabeth how difficult it was for her to relive embarrassing or uncomfortable experiences in her writing.

Elizabeth said: “Writing my memoir was not exactly pleasurable. I had to relive 77 dates. Um, that would be 77 blind dates that never parlayed into a second date. But I was on a mission. I had a plan and put it on the fast-track which ultimately netted a wedding ring and a published book, yet getting to that point was a bit emotionally grueling. I suffered through it in order to give women some inspiration, hope, and to provide you all with a fun story (at my expense)!

I kept in perspective that I was the protagonist in my own memoir, the tour guide. It was I who was driving the train out of dysfunction junction. This provided a lot of clarity for me which in turn motivated my internal drive to write the book. The funk turned into spunk. I worked through the prickly task of writing about one disappointing night after the next.

I did the classic show up and throw up. I sat at the computer with a Super Big Gulp perched next to me and out it all came. I just typed and typed. The finger strokes on the keyboard became rhythmic. Words appeared on the monitor and I was truly amazed at how fast the page filled.

Next, I corrected spelling. I used the Spell Checker function and cleaned it all up. Of course, this meant words spelled incorrectly might now be an entirely different word, but that occasionally gave me a fresh perspective and new direction. A word randomly would appear that triggered a new thought or two. I added and subtracted sentences to make it sparkle.

Finally, I read it all aloud, laughed at my wackiness, and changed sentences to make me laugh even louder. I kept on keepin’ on.

So what advice can I give a budding memoirist?

Write the narrative you feel passionate to write, and keep it private until you are finished. Don’t tell anyone you are writing a memoir. Protect your creativity.

Organize your writing into small chunks. Undertake your life one manageable portion at a time. Allow yourself to jot notes and craft bits that aren’t necessarily in chronological sequence. Don’t worry; the finished result will rock if you stay true to yourself.

Dig deep. Tell a story. Explain the details. Give the audience a picture. Yeah, it was Monday and you were heading to work. Were you in the car, bus, or on foot? What did you smell, see, or hear? Were you eating, drinking, or reading anything? Talk to us. Share your life. You, my friend, are interesting.”

Have you ever thought about writing a memoir? If so, what personal story would you share? Or what would keep you from writing it?

~~~

ElizabethFornierAfter Elizabeth got over her dream of being a Solid Gold Dancer, she promptly headed into the local funeral home and asked for a job, any job. She became the live-in night keeper which meant she resided in a trailer in the far reaches of a large, hilly cemetery and slept with a shotgun near her bed. It was the scariest summer of her life.

She is currently the voice of the autopsy exhibit in the forensic wing at the United States National Museum of Medicine and a full-time mortician. She is also a ballroom dance instructor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. But she couldn’t resist writing the story of her unusual method of dating that led her to the love of her life.

To learn more, visit Elizabeth’s website and stop by her blog.

Blog Tours: Take Your Book on The Cyber Road

March 26, 2009 at 9:16 am | Posted in Blogging, Promotion | 3 Comments
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blogtour In-person book tours are a great opportunity to meet readers, but even multi-store/multi-state tours have a limited reach. A blog tour has the potential to introduce your book to readers across the globe.

What is a blog tour?

A blog tour is a series of guest “appearances” on blogs that relate to your book’s topic and/or have an audience of readers who would be interested in your book. Bloggers agree to host a virtual event to promote your book, and it provides new and interesting content for their readers. It’s a win/win partnership.

Your guest appearance can include an original article or commentary you provide, an interview conducted by your hostess, a book review, or any other promotion agreed upon by you and the blogger.

Benefits of going on a book blog tour:

  • increased visibility for your book
  • connect with readers
  • develop your online presence
  • drive traffic to your blog and/or website
  • possibility for book sales

That’s 5 great reasons why you should get started now!

How do I plan my road trip?

Locate blogs that focus on the topic of your nonfiction book, or the theme and scope of your fiction book, as well as, blogs whose readers are your target audience. Begin by searching any of the hundreds of blog directories like TechnoratiBlog Catalog, and Blogher. Take note of high-traffic blogs and blogs with high reader interaction (a lot of comments).

If you haven’t already done so, download the Alexa Toolbar for your Firefox browser. It’s a useful tool to evaluate the traffic of the blogs and websites you visit. Check the ranking of the blogs on which you would like to appear; if their ranking is in the 20 millions (or listed as “no rank”), making that tour stop might not be the best use of your marketing time. [*Note: The lower the number, the more traffic the site receives. For example, The New York Times website is #99 in the world.] But, do keep in mind that any blog where your article, interview, or review appears will be archived indefinitely and available to anyone who searches the internet for your name or book title. It means more hits show up on Google and other search engines. That’s how you develop your internet presence.

Is there anything I need to pack?

Yes! The two most important things you need to have before embarking on a blog tour is 1) A book. 2) A blog or website. That may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many writers take off on the trip before their bags are in the car. Don’t begin your blog tour until your book is available for purchase in stores and/or online. If readers become excited about your book, they want a way to buy it immediately. If it’s not available, you risk the chance of them forgetting about it—and that means you lose the opportunity for book sales.

Don’t begin your blog tour until you have a blog or website set up. If readers are interested in you and/or your book, they want a way to find out more. Without the ability to click through to a blog or website, you lose the opportunity to develop your following. Personally, I recommend a blog over a static website—it raises your visibility with the search engines, and it allows your new-found followers to interact with you. Don’t start your tour and miss out on selling books and developing your audience by forgetting the necessities—your book and your blog.

How do I prepare for each blog stop?

Ask the blogger what topic she would like you to write about or whether she would like to ask you some interview questions. Ask for the word-count range she prefers. Read her previous posts and familiarize yourself with the type of content she provides—whether it’s informative or entertaining. Read comments from her readers to get a feel for her audience.

What do I include in my guest post luggage?

Craft your guest post or interview to highlight your topic knowledge, your personality, and promote your book.

Provide the blog hostess with

  • a brief bio
  • your book cover and headshot images (low-res/web-optimized jpg files)
  • the links to your blog and/or website, and to your book’s listing on Amazon
  • a well-written post or thoughtful answers to her interview questions
  • a signed/personalized copy of your book for the blog hostess (optional, but recommended)
  • an offer to provide a signed copy for a free drawing for her readers (optional)

Should I check in with the visitor’s bureau?

On the day your guest post goes live, leave a comment inviting the blog visitors to ask questions and comment on your post, and tell them you’ll monitor the blog and respond. Be sure to checkmark the box to be notified when new comments are posted. It will help you keep track of the blog visitors who want to connect with you. Think of your blog tour like a neighborhood party. Readers will be stopping by for conversation. Fostering the back-and-forth exchange will help you develop your following by allowing readers to get to know you.

What should be on my tour itinerary?

Online Magazines

If you can get a high-profile online magazine to do an interview with you, you have the opportunity to reach more readers than you would with an individual blog. But, like with the personal blogs, you need to provide some value/interest for the magazine’s readers.

Interview on Betty Confidential
Women’s general interest ezine

http://www.bettyconfidential.com/ar/ld/a/Enter_to_Win_a_Copy_of_The_Break_Up_Diet.html

Interview on WOW! Women on Writing
Writing-related ezine
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/18-FE3-AnnetteFix.html

Writing Blogs

Writing blogs are a perfect choice for your blog tour, especially if your book is a how-to aimed at writers, or if you provide services for writers such as editing, ghostwriting, workshops, etc. Writer bloggers enjoy having informative guest posts about the craft, and interviewing other authors about their writing process.

Article: Who Really Cares About Your Story, Anyway? How to Write a Memoir with Universal Appeal
http://hellorhighwaterwriter.blogspot.com/2009/02/specia-guest-post-with-annette-fix.html

Article: Discover the History Within Your Memoir
http://www.urbanmusewriter.com/2009/02/guest-post-discover-history-within-your.html

Article: D.I.Y. Publishing—Is It an Option for You?
http://virtualwordsmith.blogspot.com/2009/02/guest-post-annette-fix-author-of-break.html

Article: The Author Promotion Circus is in Town—Start Juggling Now!
http://reading-writing.blogspot.com/2009/02/welcome-guest-blogger-annette-fix.html

Interview: Capturing Your Voice and Emotion in Memoir
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/2009/02/annette-fix-author-of-break-up-diet.html

Interview: About Memoir Writing
http://alltheblogsapage.blogspot.com/2009/01/memoir-writing-annette-fix-author-of.html

Interview: Step-by-Step Through the Writing Process
http://sybilbaker.blogspot.com/2009/02/blog-tour-annette-fix-on-writing.html

Interview: What it Takes to Keep Writing Despite Your Busy Life
http://daybydaywriter.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/author-interview-annette-fix/

Reader and Topic Interest Blogs

Reader blogs are the best place to connect to your target audience. Readers love hosting authors, helping promote their books, asking questions about the writing process, and having authors write about themes or topics in their books. Choose blogs that have readers who fit your demographic, would resonate with your story, and be most likely to purchase your book.

Commentary: Homeschool Mom Steps Outsitde the Box and Dances on Top
http://ablondeandherblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/homeschool-mom-steps-outside-boxand.html

Commentary: February 14th – St. Romantic Expectations Day

http://thedailyblonde.com/2009/02/welcome-guest-blogger-annette-fix-author-of-the-break-up-diet-a-memoir/

Commentary: Seeking Prince Charming, White Horse, and Sunset
http://www.momecentric.com/2009/02/24/seeking-charming-prince-white-horse-and-sunset/#comment-6049

Interview: Putting Your Life onto the Page
http://www.clevergirlgoesblog.com/2009/02/break-up-diet.html

Interview: Opening Up in Print
http://stephaniesbooks.blogspot.com/2009/02/interview-with-annette-fix-author-of.html

Review Blogs

Review blogs are a great way to have coverage of your book done by readers who have a web presence. It gives your search results some variety when reviews come up alongside your articles and interviews.

Review by Reading Writing & Stuff that Makes Me Crazy
http://reading-writing.blogspot.com/2009/02/review-break-up-diet.html

Review by Confessions of a Book-a-holic
http://stephaniesbooks.blogspot.com/2009/02/not-so-ideal-way-to-lose-weight.html

Don’t forget your map!

Taking your book on a blog tour is one of the most cost-effective and time-saving marketing techniques you can use to promote your book, develop your online presence, and connect with readers all at once!

For a wonderful step-by-step resource to help you plan your blog tour, check out: http://quickest.blogbooktourguide.ever.com and you can join the Yahoo listserv bookblogtours for more help getting started.

Enjoy the journey!

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SPECIAL GUEST: AUTHOR GEORGE SINGLETON

March 8, 2009 at 11:46 pm | Posted in Special Guests | 23 Comments
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I’d like to welcome Writer’s Digest Book’s author George Singleton to Annette’s Paper Trail. George is new to the blogosphere, but brave enough to jump in with both feet! He is just gaining momentum on the blog tour for his latest book. Today, George offers his sage advice about staying current with literary trends.

peptalksIn Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds: Indispensable Wisdom and Cautionary Advice for Writers, acclaimed Southern story writer and novelist George Singleton serves up everything you ever need to know to become a real writer (meaning one who actually writes), in bite-sized aphorisms. It’s Nietzsche’s Beyond Good & Evil meets Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. It’s cough syrup that tastes like chocolate cake. In other words, don’t expect to get better unless you get a good dose of it, maybe two.

Accompanied by more than fifty original full-color illustrations by novelist Daniel Wallace, these laugh-out-loud funny, candid, and surprisingly useful lessons will help you find your own writerly balance so you can continue to move forward.

Read Contemporary, Literary Work If You Plan to Publish Contemporary, Literary Work

By George Singleton

I teach at a school wherein prospective students must send in a portfolio of ten or so pages of their own work, either poetry or fiction. They write an essay, also. Their high school counselors send in transcripts and letters of recommendation. Then, the students show up in February or March for an interview, plus a workshop where they’re given prompts, just to make sure that, indeed, they didn’t pay off someone to write a portfolio, et cetera.

In the interview, my chairperson Scott Gould and I always start with the same question: “Tell us what you’ve been reading.”

There are three camps, at least. There are the students who say, “I love that woman who wrote the Twilight series, and I love Stephen King, and I love Anne Rice.”

“Do you read any contemporary poetry?” we’ll ask. I don’t know why.

“Edgar Allen Poe!” will be the answer.

It’s not like we weren’t warned earlier, what with the vampires, zombies, cutters, slashers, unpronounceable character names, lack of rising action, ghosts, et cetera.

The members of the second group say things like, “I love Shakespeare. I love everything there is by Shakespeare. Shakespeare, Cotton Mather, Hawthorne, the Brontës,” and so on. They’ll name off every writer they’ve had to read in a regular high school English class.

“What about poets?”

What else: “Emily Dickinson!”

And then there are the students—who normally have high grade point averages—who say, “Raymond Carver, Alice Munro, Tobias Wolff, Jill McCorkle, William Gay, Tom Franklin, Dale Ray Phillips, Wendy Brenner, Best American Shorts Stories, New Stories from the South, Flannery O’Connor, John Cheever, Thomas Pynchon, Madison Smartt Bell, Michael Parker, Jennifer Egan, Barry Hannah, Clyde Edgerton, David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Stevie Almond, Cary Holladay, Moira Crone…”

We’ve not gone wrong with these students yet. Now, it’s important to know the writers of the canon—especially if you plan on being a contestant on Jeopardy!—but if one wishes to be published at the beginning of the twenty-first century, it might be helpful to know what kind of writing is being published in magazines, journals, and by the publishing houses.

Scott likes to say, “If you go get knee surgery, do you want a doctor who pores over medical journals from a hundred years ago, or one who keeps up with the latest medical technology and procedures?” There’s no better way to say it. If you wish to be published these days, shouldn’t you know trends, countertrends, audience needs, and the like? The only way I know how to fully get a grip on these things is to subscribe to a literary magazine or ten, plus the slicks, plus keep up with something like the New York Times Book Review.

Now, I understand that people are going to say to me, “Hey, that Twilight woman and Anne Rice and Nicholas Sparks make a whole lot more money than literary writers.”

My answer to that is always, “In America, we buy and consume a lot more bologna than we do filet mignon, but that doesn’t mean it’s better for us.”

***

Readers: Where do you weigh in? Mainstream or literary fiction? Would you rather leave your signature in tomes of timeless literature? Or have a million dollars worth of bologna in the bank?

***

george-singleton-lgGeorge Singleton is the author of four collections of shorts stories and two novels: These People Are Us (2001), The Half-Mammals of Dixie (2002), Why Dogs Chase Cars (2004), Novel (2005), Drowning in Gruel (2006), and Work Shirts for Madmen (2007). He has published one book of advice: Pep Talks, Warnings, and Screeds (2008). His stories have appeared in magazines such at The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Playboy, Book, Zoetrope, Glimmer Train, Georgia Review, Shenandoah, Southern Review, Ninth Letter, and North American Review, among others. He’s had work anthologized in nine editions of New Stories from the South, plus Writers Harvest 2, A Dixie Christmas, They Write Among Us, 20 Over 40, Must Be This Tall to Ride, Love Is a Four-Letter Word, and Behind the Short Story: from First to Final Draft. His nonfiction has appeared in the Oxford American, Best Food Writing 2005, Dog Is My Co-Pilot, and Paste.

George lives in Dacusville, South Carolina with his clay-artist wife Glenda, 11 dogs, and a cat.

Visit his website at www.georgesingleton.com. And pick up a copy of Pep Talks, Warnings & Screeds today!

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