Monday, October 17, 2005


I bet Stephen King didn't know he wrote a family/romantic comedy! Brilliant. It goes to show how the media can manipulate something to make us believe in something else. What different music or editng could do! I've seen this happening to real movies -- the advertisers specifically market a film as something it's not.

Here's the new Shining trailer.

(further down the page you'll see links to the other entries, including one eerie West Side Story! And a very funny recut of The Parent Trap now entitled Ordinary Girls...)

Oh, oh, and Psycho is simply delicious.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

For I have sinned...

Wow. All I can say is I am in love with this woman's mind: WriteLikeITalk.

Crazy Bum Stories

Got any? Post your comments...

Here's mine:

Geneva, 1899.

Now fast forward 100 years. A gray, snowy day and I was walking along the main shopping street, checking things out. I'd just come out from the theater watching a French-dubbed Runaway Bride without English subtitle, dazed and confused. In front of me staggered a white-haired man, short and lean, in a dirty white suit. The man looked pale, except for his flushed face, so I gathered he must have had a swig or two, probably whiskey, perhaps gin.

As I approached the man, he suddenly straightened and extended his arms sideways, forming a cross with his taut body. And he started to march like a Nazi soldier, and uttered -- no, yelled -- in German. "Snickettyspitzoid nutcracker!" "Gruffmeister Ackbad Guggenheim!" I continued my stroll at a safe distance behind him, studying, observing, having crazy thoughts of my own about this creature.

Then a woman and her young son walked by. The man stared at the boy for a second, then twisted his outstretched arms toward the boy and went, "Grrrr, Grrr, Grrrr." The woman promptly yanked the boy close to her and quickened her pace. Should've seen the boy's face. The popped-out eyes, the ice-sheet face, the upside-down frown that dropped to his chest.


I started laughing. The man never looked at me. I didn't even think he knew I existed. But it was one of the best things that happened to me in Geneva. That and the half-boiled duck.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pre-Release Marketing

OK, it's still a good three or four months before the book release. What to do, what to do?

Actually, there's plenty to do. Right now, it's the period to build the buzz, get the word out, introduce myself and my work to the world. Marketing starts before the book hits the stores.

So what have I been doing? First, I have printed up a good number of bookmarks and postcards, and have been handing them out or leaving them at places such as coffee shops or libraries. Eventually, I'm going to leave them at the book stores as well. I've also been handing them out like business cards -- but bookmarks and postcards are better than business cards. Why? Because they are bigger (but still easy to carry) and harder to lose. Also, I can do so much more in the design and include a whole range of information on them including the ISBN, ordering information, website, "blurb," etc. I can get them printed for a relatively cheap price online, about $120 for 5000 bookmarks, or $150 for 2500 postcards. Good deal.

Obviously, I also have a website: It's been up for a few months now and I'm constantly updating it. The issue is how to get people to come to the site and how to keep them coming back. The answer is content. On my site I've included information about the books, and also some interesting links to other people blogs and also some writing samples as well as photos. I am thinking of adding a new section talking about the craft and art of writing, as well as periodic giveaways. My site and blogs are also listed on some people's sites.

Building the buzz. I belong to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler and have made a lot of friends over the last 18 months. While pushing my book is not my main purpose for hanging out on AbsoluteWrite, the bulletin board is useful in building the buzz. I haven't officially announce my book yet, but I have talked about it, and also include information in my signature. I have to take care to build the buzz slowly and steadily, through familiarity and word-of-mouth.

Press kit. We have an official press release that is being sent to media and reviewers. However, I am also in the process of assembling a press kit that includes an author biography, an author picture, Q&A, a CD, and any reviews I have. Right now, it's still early and I don't have any reviews yet, but I expect to have some soon.

I have also begun to network with other people, including writers and media types. And I'm getting better and better at talking about my book, as time goes by. It takes a lot of practice, a thick skin, and a passion for my work to pull it off. I am making myself available to many social events as well as fundraisers. At a recent fundraising activity, for example, I met some really interesting people and talked about my book. It was a rather interesting experience.

One line blurb. That's that brief "elevator" speech I need to deliver when someone asks me, "What is your book about?" Fortunately, I've worked on the synopsis and jacket blurb for so long that I have it all memorized. It goes something like this:

"It's not a love story, but a story about love, death and betrayal, about an American who embarks on a transpacific journey to find the truth about the relationship between his ex-lover and late father."

Yeah, it's a little long, but at least I can say it in one breath!

All these activities also keep me from going insane while waiting for the book to come out. Yes, I am working on my next novel, but there are times when the creative juices are not flowing, and I've got to do something. So these pre-release marketing activities keep me out of troubles.

They work, usually.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Pacing... First 50 pages

What do agents look for when they ask for the "first 50 pages"?

First of all, usually the partial would include a brief synopsis. That way, the agent already knows how your story begins, unfolds and ends by only spending five minutes reading your synopsis. Some might even have read the customary 3 sample chapters, so they'd already be familiar with your style, interested enough to ask for the 50 pages.

So what's the purpose of the first 50 pages?


I'd say the most important thing an agent look for is how well you pace your story. Granted, some stories start slower than others (thrillers, for example, usually starts and continues with a break-neck pace). 50 manuscript pages is about one-tenth of a full manuscript. So what an agent or editor is looking for is pacing.

A lot of times pacing and "interesting" go hand-in-hand though. A "slow" story means nothing really interesting "happens" for a long while. A bunch of characters sitting around talking about life... etc. It could still be interesting in terms of prose quality or character development... but characters are mostly interesting when they're DOING something, not when they're sitting around contemplating the remains of the day.

I'd say, no matter the genre, within the first 50 pages the following should happen:

- the major characters should be introduced (there are times when a major character appear later in the book -- that's okay)
- the main conflict should be presented
- one or two major revelations should be presented
- at least one major plot turn, especially near the end of the 50 pages to keep you wanting to read the next 50...
- the writing style should be consistent