Tag Archives: G. Jillian Stone

A Tale of Two Book Offers.


OKAY! After a few weeks spent with my feet off the ground, I am now officially back to work and ready to blog. Gosh, where do I begin? In the space of little more than a month I have gone from 2010 GH finalist to Golden Heart winner for THE YARD MAN. And as the Aussie guy who sells the onion chopper on TV says––but wait there’s more!

On July 27, I was in the Dallas airport waiting for my connecting flight, checking my phone for messages. I was expecting to meet a GH finalist sister there, who was on the same flight to Orlando. There was a message, from a 212 area code. NYC. My heart rate accelerated slightly. Turns out it was Audrey LaFehr, Kensington, with a book offer for recently completed manuscript THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK.

Great! Awesome! (Insert numerous crazy-mixed feelings here.) I had an offer and no agent.

During the conference, my crit partner and I e-mailed every agent I had queried over the last four months and you would not believe the response. And I’m talking big agents. HUGE. It was both exciting and overwhelming. One afternoon, Richard Curtis sat down beside me at the Dolphin fountain and we struck up a conversation. (Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you––if you are in the Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida.) That evening THE YARD MAN won the Romantic Suspense category and Richard took my crit partner and I out for a glass of champagne. Three days later, after reading both my manuscripts, he offered representation. I could not be more thrilled. He is the perfect agent for me. We are muy simpatico.

On my trip home from Orlando, sitting in the airport, my cell phone rang. Damn! If it wasn’t another editor with an offer for THE YARD MAN.

From now on, when anyone asks me how to snag an agent or publisher, the simple answer has got to be: Always check your messages in airports. And spend plenty of time skulking around the hotel lobby at writer’s conferences!

On August 19, 2010, Richard called to confirm electronic hand shakes on two book deals. The offer we accepted for THE YARD MAN came from Danielle Poiesz, Pocket Books and we have also accepted Audery LaFer’s offer for THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK. Both offers are three book deals.

After a carefree happy dance around my desk, I sobered up fast when Richard called back and went over a tentative release schedule and my delivery dates for books two and three––of two contracts. I did a bit of quick figuring and calculated I have four books to deliver in just a little under 24 months.  Yikes!

As I prepare to hit the ground running, I appeal to blog readers and writers everywhere for HELP! If you have any practical tips, time saving ideas, or schedule-juggling-pointers, please drop a line in comments. This has been an awesome summer I will never forget, and now if you will excuse me, I have books to write!

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a 2010 Golden Heart winner for THE YARD MAN, which has sold to Pocket Books, release date spring 2012. Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. Her recent novel, the story of a devilish occult detective who falls for a sultry Cajun beauty titled, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK has also sold to Kensington, for release in fall 2012. For blurbs on both books please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com

Catching up


I know I’ve been away much too long. I won’t be out of the loop from now on, but as they say, ‘life happens.’ I’ll do my best to give you a brief snapshot of where I’ve been during my time away from the blog. I’m only really starting to recover from all the excitement. Great thing is, there’s much more ahead.
Last month passed in a blurr. I was getting ready for my first-ever RWA National conference, (which was absolutely amazing). I caught up with members from The Greater Detroit chapter – my local chapter. I met some wonderful people, my fellow GIAMers, some fellow conference newbees, and Harlequin Romance Senior Editor, Kimberly Young in my hotel elevator. Ms. Young wasn’t wearing her nametag, but I recognized her voice from the podcasts on the Eharlequin website. By the way, those podcasts are chalked full of great stuff! If you’re a writer, and targeting Harlequin, definitely check them out.
While at conference, I spent time with chaptermate Renee Alexis and my roommate and pal, Jodi Redford I wish I had photos of the three of us at Animal Kingdom. If you haven’t yet been to Disney, IMO, you need to experience its allure and fantasy-like ambience firsthand. It really is a magical place. You don’t have to be a kid to have a good time. I’m sorry though, that I wasn’t able to check out the Magical Kingdom and meet some of Disney’s finest.
As for the conference,
RWA did a fabulous job coordinating all the workshops. The presenters of the many workshops I attended during the course of the conference provided me with a plethora of new material to add to my creative and business arsenals. I’ll mention two here, because it’s over two weeks later, and I still remember them. *g* Margie Lawson and the Carina Press spotlight with Angela James who did an excellent job giving the audience a clear picture of Carina and its mission. As a side note: I’ve just finished up Angela’s editing course with Savvy Authors If you haven’t yet taken it, you need to hurry up and get your spot for her next available class! She presents her lessons with no fuss, no frills added but with plenty examples to get her point across. And I loved that! Go ahead. I’ll wait. *g* Back to conference recap.
The Wednesday night literacy book signing, alone, was very interesting. I sat with Jodi Redford who was signing. To our left was Deanna Raybourn who is so down-to-earth and so nice to chat with. I had fun making small talk with her when she wasn’t busy with her readers.
Keynote speaker, Nora Roberts and Awards Lunch-in speaker, Jayne Ann Krentz are wonderful presenters who impressed me with their incredible amount of knowledge and sound advice, while making me laugh along the way.
The Golden Heart and Rita ceremony left me on the edge of my seat. I can’t imagine how anxious the nominees must’ve been. It was an emotional evening at times for me. I found myself tearing up when one of the winners, (any winner) would become emotional. I especially loved when Julia Quinn was inducted to the Romance Writers of America’s Hall of Fame after winning her third Rita in the category of best Regency Historical Romance with What Happens In London. And my fellow blogger, G. Jillian Stone not only won a Golden Heart, she also snagged an agent. 🙂 Go Jillian!
Since I’ joined RWA in 2006, I learned quickly that the Rita and GH ceremony along with the literacy book signing are infamous with members. Each year, up until now, I’d read others accounts of the conference and events there, and I’d wonder what it would be like to attend and experience them for myself. They were both pretty awesome! After attending this conference, I’ve gained an even greater appreciation for the romance genre, and writing in general. I’ve sharpened my own focus, expanding my dreams while narrowing my goals to the more practical few that I can control.
After returning home from Orlando, , I dove right into my family reunion, the MacInnis family reunion. My relatives from all over Canada flew in for the four-day event. I met second and third cousins, and wives/husbands/children of those cousins it made my head spin. But I had a lot of fun doing it. I heard the Harlequin party was a blast, but trust me, no one can party like my family. *g*
Next up for me, in September, is the year-long mentorship class with Lori Wilde I’m extatic for this course to start. This course looks like it’ll be a blast.
Well, there’s my not-to-concise recap. I hope those of you who attended conference had a fun time just as I did.

Orlando Update: What if there really is a Magic Kingdom?


First, some of you may or may not know that THE YARD MAN won the Golden Heart RS category––but what you don’t know is the whirlwind of other things that happened last week, before and after the awards banquet.

All I can say is, when it happens, it happens fast and I don’t care how long you have waited, YOU ARE NOT PREPARED.

A little over ten days ago, I was sitting in the Dallas airport waiting for my connecting flight to Orlando. I was hoping to meet another GH finalist there, as we both were both on the same flight, so I checked my cell phone. There was a message with a 212 area code. NYC. My heart raced a little. I returned the call and to make a long story short, when I got off the phone I had an offer on my newest manuscript, a historical paranormal, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK. (Based on a contest final, for those of you who enter RWA chapter contests.)

Great. I had an offer and no agent.

When I arrived at the hotel my crit partner, a.c. Mason, was already in the room. I sat her down and told her what had happened. After the screaming died down, she and I set about e-mailing messages to every reputable agent we could think of (I had all their addresses stored in my iPhone as I had been querying for months) I sent a very brief message stating that I had received a three book offer and would they be interested in representing me? Well, you may or may not believe the response, but I was overwhelmed by sudden interest, and from HUGE agents.

Needless to say, the next events might read like a fairy story, but, let’s face it, we write them, why can’t they come true? While stalking Steven Axelrod around the Dolphin fountain in the lobby, I managed to run into another agent, Richard Curtis.

That afternoon Mr. Curtis bought me a diet coke and we talked. In the hotel bar, après the Golden Heart Rita Awards, Richard, my crit partner and I celebrated with a glass of champagne. Several days later, after reading both manuscripts, he proposed representation and I am thrilled to announce that I have signed with Richard Curtis Associates. Since the GH win, several publishers have also expressed interest in the THE YARD MAN. Last week, Richard and I worked on series proposals for both books and I hope to be able to report more good news in the weeks to come.

Here are my best insights for those of us who write and are as yet, unpublished (which still includes me). Never give up. Take BOLD RISKS with your writing and SHOOT HIGH, especially when it comes to agents and publishers.

So, what do you think? Was it the Tinkerbell pixie dust that did it?

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a 2010 Golden Heart winner for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: gjillianstone.com

I’VE GOT MAIL. FROM COUSIN DICK.


Every morning, still in pajamas, with coffee mug in hand, I wake up my computer to check e-mail. This is always a thrill, as New York is three hours ahead, and I have query letters out. I ready my index finger above the delete key, punch through a number of advertisements––and yes, I admit, I often trash my own cousin Dick’s daily e-greetings, without opening them.

Dickey likes to send/forward chain e-mail greetings to everyone in his universe of cyber friends. I’m sure you have received one of these. They often have cartoon drawings in them or funny jokes. Dick makes sure I know they are funny because he tells me so at the start of every e-mail by using a little animated emoticon. Sometimes these chain letters are made up of fantasy billboards or bumper stickers, which often involve Viagra jokes and loads of cornball sexual innuendo, or they can be political and offensive in nature––you know the ones. Anyway, these e-greetings circulate all over the internet. I hesitate to use the word viral, because I refuse to forward any of them……..except…….for this one e-greeting I happened to open and read the other day.

This one actually had some relevance to my daily writerly workload. When the e-mail came, I had received two requests for a new manuscript, one from a contest judge and one from a QL, which caused a week of furious edits/rewrites. Arrrgggh!!! Generally, one of the last things I do, is take a look at how I have used the senses––sound, sight, smell, taste, touch. Which brings me back around to the humorous (?) e-mail of the day. In a way, this odd little piece of prose reinforced the importance of using all the senses. Here is the unedited, (dreadful amount of tell) unexpurgated version, compliments of my cousin Dick:

A new Supermarket opened in Elk Grove, California. It has an automatic water mister to keep the produce fresh. Just before it goes on, you hear the distant sound of thunder and the smell of fresh rain.

When you pass the milk cases, you hear cows mooing and you experience the scent of fresh cut hay.

In the meat department there is the aroma of charcoal grilled steaks and brauts.

In the liquor department, the fresh, clean, crisp smell of tapped Miller Lite.

When you approach the egg case, you hear hens cluck and cackle and the air is filled with the pleasing aroma of bacon and eggs frying.

The bakery department features the tantalizing smell of fresh baked bread & cookies.

I don’t buy toilet paper there anymore.

You’ve got a brand profile and tagline. Now what?


One of the fastest and least expensive ways to launch your brand is through social networking. And what might be the best way to do that? Website? Blog? Facebook? Twitter? Can a writer do all that promotion and still have time to write? Time management is a huge concern and rightly so. Every writer has mixed feelings about how much time marketing and promotion takes away from their writing.

Might I suggest you start with baby steps? And only commit to what you can reasonably manage and feel comfortable doing.

Twitter is like a teeny-tiny blog. You get 140 characters (not words) to message your Twitter followers. Great way to announce news and drive traffic to a guest blog or website contest. I was recently told about a writer who only Twitters. That’s it. She finds it easy to bang out a few brief messages every day and stay on schedule. She is contracted to write three books by year’s end. Who wouldn’t choose Twitter?

Published or unpublished, you must consider your website launch a priority. An author website communicates to everyone in the publishing world that you are serious about the business of author/book promotion. If this is your first website, and you are not confident about creating one on your own, there are web development firms that specialize in web design and implementation for small businesses. Many of these companies have hundreds of attractive templates to choose/customize from. And do call in all your favors! Like, do not be afraid to ask for help from a tech-savvy friend or graphic designer relative.

Once your author website is up and running smoothly, you can add a blog. A weekly blog is less of a commitment, but a daily journal/blog is brief and can also be stress free. And if you find you have nothing to blog about, you can always plug in a vacation picture, video of your cat, or a new recipe! Don’t want to blog alone? A blog site concept created with a crit partner or critique group might be exactly right for you. Plus, whatever you blog can be linked to your website.

If the idea of a website or blog commitment is just too daunting, why not ease into your author brand promotion with a Facebook page? It’s a terrific way to network with other writers and romance readers. You can add fan pages and blog links later on. You can also use the tabs in Facebook to post reviews, add book cover art or trailers, and make announcements about signings and workshops.

Website? Blog? Facebook? Twitter? I would pick one or two and then add more, only if you feel like you can handle more. COMING NEXT WEEK: Advanced work in advertising promotion and the importance of testing.

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a 2010 Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com jillstone@mac.com

Author Taglines. Yes? No?


You’ve selected the key words culled your brand profile and created an author brand tagline. Yes? No? Well if you haven’t yet or you’re stuck, read on. Help and inspiration is on the way.

An author tag line is almost always a recommended part of branding. It is your brand positioning taken to a high concept, creative level. You want the line to be memorable, yet flexible enough to allow you to grow as a writer––but not so all encompassing that the line ends up trying to say too much. I see examples of author taglines that are working too hard all over cyberspace.

How can you tell if your tagline is trying too hard? Count the commas. Too many commas in a tagline usually means: 1. Author can’t self edit. 2. Writes in several subgenres. 3. Describes the tone and style of the writer, usually without much tone or style.

A quick piece of advice. Avoid puns. Always. Unless a pun is really, really great, please try to resist. I know this is tough for you clever ones, but you must trust me on this.

How about a few examples of taglines?

A little bit of laughter, a pinch of spice, and a sprinkling of magic dust.

Critique: Generally, this does not sound adult. The tone is younger than YA. Disney-ish. Avoid being too cute, or too friendly or folksy, unless, of course, that is what you write.

How about this tag?  Edgy, elegant, erotic romance.

Critique: The alliteration takes this no more than a half-step away from what I call a blueprint tagline. The author has basically taken words and phrases from her brand profile and strung them together. Note the commas.

“Science Fiction, secret agents, and bad boys gone good.”

Don’t use quote marks. It’s cheesy. And those commas are back again. Does this author write cross-genre or does she write in three different genres? Bad boys gone good, begins to get me interested. A playful line, but it needs something more. An erotic author who writes troubled, darker heroes might edge that up a notch. Now, bad boys gone good, becomes:

Bad boys can be very, very good. In bed. Why not bring the author’s voice into the line? Let me show how very good bad boys can be. Keep playing with ideas and tossing around lines.  See how outrageous you can be––take it way out there and then pull back.

Which leads me to the two sentence tagline. A descriptive sentence, then a second shorter sentence to punctuate the tone or concept of the first line.

And now for an excellent example.

Erotic Romance writer Delilah Devlin’s tagline seems to be the one used and quoted extensively in blog’s all over the internet. Here it is.

Get in bed with Delilah. Everyone else has.

Critique: Note the use of two sentences. One to set up a provocative premise. The second to drive home a clever bit of humor. Implied in the second line is the idea that many readers have read and enjoyed her novels. And no commas!

Now get back to work and create the next great tagline. No pressure! And please remember that you are allowed to refine your tagline as your writing matures or changes. It’s not the end of the world to freshen up or evolve a brand tagline.

COMING NEXT WEEK: You’ve got your brand strategy and your tagline. Now what do you do with them? Website and social networking are the foundation of your brand. A quick pass through those in the weeks ahead and then we’re on to advanced work in advertising and promotion for pubbed and unpubbed authors.

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com jillstone@mac.com

Breakthrough Branding for Romance Authors. Part Deux. The Brand Signature.


This week, I will be posting examples of the kinds of brand signatures you should be able to formulate by completing the brand profile. So, if you are stumped or have run into a block, this should help. I am going to spend a lot of time with this profile before we move on to other areas of branding and promotion, because the framework is the foundation for everything that comes after–like developing a creative strategy. Strategy is the next phase of your brand work, as well as planning promotion and advertising; what kinds of media to use, print/cyber, whether to twitter or not, holding contests/giveaways, etc.

Branding is emotional, just like romance novels. A reader’s decision to purchase a new release from a branded author is not based on a value proposition or couponing. Whether a reader purchases a favorite author for $6.99 through Amazon or pays $7.99 at Barnes & Noble is irrelevant. Once your brand is established, readers will purchase again because they enjoyed your other novels and you deliver a great read. How did Donald Maass put it, again? “Delight your readers with your own brand of story, then continue to delight them in a similar way (only better) on a regular basis.”

EXAMPLES OF BRAND PROFILE DIRECTIONS: Pull out four or five key words or phrases from your profile, then, create a run-on sentence––string them all together. I have put together some examples below.

Chick Lit Profile: These female survival guides promise laughter, steamy love scenes, sexy infuriating men and sassy smart heroines.

Take away: WOW! This author makes me laugh. She is fresh and vibrant. I love her sexy, infuriating men! I want to look her up on Amazon and purchase.

Erotic Romance Profile: Buttoned-up business women loose their passions with powerful, difficult alpha males and reveal darker, hidden agendas.

Take away: M-mm. Sounds like she sets up interesting tensions. Power chicks, dark sexy heroes and kink. I’m intrigued.

So, what is your brand signature? Dark and erotic? Fresh and funny? Let’s do one more:

Paranormal: Magically-powered heroines pair with ultra sexy/macho mortal heroes for hot sex/adventure.

Take away: I’d love to know how the mortal men keep up, or keep it up? Haha! The brand sentence above seems like it is limited to a series. In that respect, if I was the author, I might want to broaden the signature. Also what is the tone? Is this light paranormal or dark? Could be either.

The place to crystallize your brand is in the signature or tag line. I’ll use myself as an example. I write historical romantic suspense, as well as historical paranormal, on the hot end of the love scene spectrum. My brand signature is:

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

What does this say to you? Well, I am trying for several things. Fields in time says historical, but also hints at paranormal. What about hot or erotic content? Burn with desire. I’d say so! Meet me there. Invites the reader into my world of fiction.

Most everyone I know writes in more than one subgenre, so dig deep and look for the defining characteristics of your work, beyond category.

Go back through your profile and consider your brand signature. If you would like feed back please e-mail me direct or leave a comment on this blog. My website and email address are listed below. Above all, don’t get discouraged. Even if you set the profile aside for a while, keep working on your brand. Eventually, you will hit upon an idea and things will click into place.

Graphics (visuals) as well as copy play a huge role in branding, here is your HOMEWORK FOR NEXT WEEK:

Sometimes concrete examples help with the finer points of branding, so I have created what I hope is a fun exercise. I want you to visit several author websites. They must be sites you have never visited before. And they must be authors who do not have established brands. Click on a few tabs, and gather impressions. TRY NOT TO READ ANYTHING. Now, quickly close up the window.

Write down your impressions of each author. What is the brand personality of the website? Based on your glance at the graphics, what subgenre do they write? Are you intrigued? Now go back to the sites for a second visit, read a few pages. How well did the writers/authors do? Does their site reflect a strong brand identity? Did you guess their subgenre correctly?

I have included a few websites at random. Some are unpublished authors, others are pubbed. They are all in the process of building their brand. How well do we think they are doing? Next week: How to Create a Brand Strategy.

http://arcummings.web.com

http://aprildawnbooks.com

http://kayceekacer.com

http://www.acmason.com

http://www.sandrasookoo.com

http://ajwilsononline.com

http://www.jamiewesley.com

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com jillstone@mac.com

Breakthrough Branding for Romance Authors. Part One


“Ninety-nine percent of a story’s success,” Donald Maass says, “is in the manuscript. Everything else flows from that.” He also says the best publicity is between the pages of your book.

I hope so. Because the myriad tasks facing newly published authors deciding even simple things like: “How much of my book advance should I spend on advertising?” can easily become an overwhelm.

And how, exactly, does one go about learning the do’s and don’ts of romance novel marketing? Well, you might take some marketing workshops and learn from both the mistakes and the successes of authors who have gone before you. An excellent start.

This marketing business is, after all a daunting task. Branding, networking, blogging, guest blogging, endless twittering, author websites, contests, giveaways, et cetera, et etera, et cetera, ad infinitum. Aaaaggggghhhhhhhhhhhh!

All this conductivity and no writer productivity is what I worry about. I am not published yet, but I will be one of these days. (The prevailing wisdom does insist that if I persevere long enough, eventually, an agent or editor will recognize my brilliance.) Even though the dark task of author marketing is still ahead of me, the worry lurks in the corner of my brain, nagging at my peace of mind.

No doubt, some of you look forward to spending all your free hours on author branding/marketing/networking. Full of energy and good-nature, you call it a new challenge. Perhaps, it even looks fun. Wish I could get to that place with you.

You see, I come from advertising. I started out as a creative in small to medium-ish ad agencies, then, due to the quality of my portfolio, worked my way into some of the largest agencies in the country. Or as they say in the ad biz––worldwide.

I know exactly how difficult is to build a brand and create ads that produce results. Brand launches? Check. New product introductions? Been there, done that­­––a hundred times over.

Branding and product launches, by the way, are two of the toughest things to do well. Yes, anyone can brand themselves, or learn to do it. But to execute a brand launch well? I like the writing analogy here. Most everyone can write, but write brilliantly? See what I mean?

And oh by the way, don’t forget to jump into the social networking scene. Ha. Haha. Ha! Honestly? I’m not laughing at you. Or me. I’m just giddy with trepidation.

Focus, everyone.

To do first rate branding and book promotion requires strategy, a marketing plan, creative talent, budget and luck. In exactly that order. (By the way, branding and name recognition are not necessarily synonymous.)

So, here is what we are going to do. From now, until I leave for the RWA Nationals in late July, I will be conducting an online mini-workshop every Monday on this site.

FREE OF CHARGE! I will also be available on Monday mornings for a live blog chat if you have questions about any of the workshop assignments.

To wrap up, let me leave you with the your first insider advertising insight. Contrary to public opinion, no amount of advertising can sell a bad or disappointing product. Oh yes, you might get what we call “trial” from the consumer, with help from coupons, to buy the product once. But if that product doesn’t live up to expectations? You are worse off than back to square one because now you have negative word of mouth circulating.

Which brings us full circle. I began with a quote from Donald Maass, and might as well bookend with him: “Delight your readers with your own brand of story, then continue to delight them in a similar way (only better) on a regular basis.”

COMING SOON: Disruptive Strategies for an oversaturated, wickedly competitive marketplace.

NEXT WEEK’S ASSIGNMENT:

So you’ve written the “breakout story/novel.” You just received a publishing contract or, perhaps you are not published yet, but would like to develop a marketing plan for your current manuscript. Let me assist you in formulating a “breakthrough branding/advertising strategy. Drop in every Monday to join in the discussion.

Your first assignment is to highlight and copy the brand framework below. You have until next week, June 21 to fill out the profile. Now put your ad man/lady hat on and get to work!

BREAKTHROUGH BRAND PROFILE

1. Brand Character:

The vision/values of your unique author identity. Include original insights about yourself and the nature of your characters and stories. Editors sometimes ask for your career arc. If you eventually want to move into say, Mainstream with romantic elements, you might also enter that in the long range plans for your brand.

2. Reason to Believe:

Why might the reader believe in you? More specifically, why will the reader buy your novel? What kind of brand excitement or promise can you deliver on?

3. Brand Essence  (This has two separate sections.)

Novel features: Distinctive characteristics that the reader/consumer perceives (or will perceive) that distinguishes your story brand.

Novel Benefits: The functional and emotional consequences of reading your unique brand of novel. (Think Lisa Kleypas, J.R. Ward, Linda Howard, Nora Roberts, here.)

4. Brand Relationship

The deeper, more emotional motivation for reading your story brand/novel.  Think about why you read one author over another. What is is about your brand that the consumer/reader will keep coming back for?

5. Brand Personality

The tone, style, image of the brand. I want two lists here. One is a list of tone/style elements like: Passionate, steamy, adventurous, suspenseful, thrilling escape, etc. The other is a list of image/character attributes: Heroic heroes and heroines, hardships and conflicts that have inspirational resolutions. Try to list at least ten of each.

Distinctive cues/symbols:  Do you have a series name? Any logos or graphic identifiers? (Think Christine Feehan’s Ghostwalker series.)

Packaging, Color Palettes, other graphics. Most of this will be developed by your publisher’s art department. However you will be asked for input and the clearer the  information is they receive, the better job they will do with all the graphic elements associated with your brand.

For future reference, write down some notes on how you visualize your brand:

Brand Slogan:

Write down your author tag line. Does it fit with the brand profile you are in the process of creating? Does it encapsulate your unique brand promise?

Write down your novel’s high concept pitch line. The short elevator blurb you use to describe your latest book. Does it support/enhance your overarching brand promise?

Starting to get the picture?  The way you build a brand is by starting with a solid base or  framework and making sure that all the products (novels) that fall under that umbrella contribute back to and support your brand promise.

Feel free to contact this site/blog and leave comments or questions throughout the week. I will be checking in twice a day to see if anyone is in need of assistance with their brand profile.

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com

The Hero and/or the Heroine’s Journey.


I begin with a short review of the Monomyth courtesy of Wikipedia:

The Hero’s Journey, also referred to as the Monomyth, is an idea formulated by noted mythologist Joseph Campbell. The central concept of the Monomyth is that a pattern can be seen in stories and myths across history. Campbell defined and explained that pattern in his book THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES.

Campbell’s insight was that important myths from around the world which have survived for thousands of years, all share a fundamental structure. This fundamental structure contains a number of stages.

  1. The call to adventure, which the hero has to accept or decline.
  2. Next, there is the road of trials, where the hero succeeds or fails.
  3. Achieving the goal or “boon,” which often results in important self-knowledge.
  4. A return to the ordinary world, which again, the hero can either succeed or fail.
  5. Application of the boon, what the hero has gained can be used to improve the world.

Now it’s up to the individual writer to refine and expanded the hero’s journey. When this methodology is put to use by creative and talented writers, the formula appears work every single time. I have a personal soft spot for the reluctant hero/heroine. The one who either believes he/she is unworthy or that he/she is not strong enough, bright enough or whatever enough to take on such a monumental task/adventure.

Luke Skywalker is the iconic, contemporary reluctant hero. In fact, this entire exercise into the hero’s journey was originally undertaken by George Lucas, who used THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES Monomyth to help him write his screenplay for Star Wars.

Ah, but what about Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit? And Frodo Baggins, who continues the quest in LORD OF THE RINGS. Elliot in E.T. ran the gamut from reluctant young hero to enthusiastic defender of the cutest alien in the entire universe. Even Chief Martin Brody, the ocean-phobic, city cop in JAWS, is a wonderful example of the reluctant hero.

And I couldn’t leave out everyone’s favorite young magician, Harry Potter.

The female brand of heroism can also take on a similar role to her masculine counterpart. Alice, an early Victorian adventuress, fell down a rabbit hole on a curiouser and curiouser journey through Wonderland. Moll Flanders, was a thief, a wife, a mother, a whore and much more. Quite, an adventure, in my book. No, actually, that was Daniel DeFoe’s book.

The iconic modern female adventure/heroine has a tendency to be either a seer or spell-caster with powers, a vampire slayer or a gun-toting-latex-jumpsuit-wearing-karate-chopping-freelance-archeologist. What exactly is Lara Croft, anyway?

So thrill me. Who are some of your favorite heroes and heroines? Please share, I would love to know, really I would.

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a recent RWA Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com

Riding the tiger.


I have now officially crossed over into the twilight zone of my career as a writer. I have been wrangling with agents lately.

Oh yes, I know what you are saying. Gee, not a bad problem to have.

All I have to say is just wait until you get there. It’s like riding a wild tiger. I would just as soon let go and fall off, but the ride is so spectacular, I dig my fingers into the short hairs of the beast and hang on even though my stomach lurches and my heart aches.

Here’s the just of it: A new agent from a well known agency wants to represent THE YARD MAN. She has worked as an editorial consultant for years, but is just getting started as an agent.  She says she will be working closely with the president.  She is not interested in THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK at all. Thinks the sex scenes are coercive. My take is that as a new agent, she does not want to go out with such a controversial ms. Can I blame her? I am grateful, however, that she is willing take on THE YARD MAN, the historical, romantic suspense that just finaled in the Golden Heart.

So, at the advice of my sister GH finalists, I put everyone who has a full manuscript on notice. Several of those agents read the manuscript right away and have already gotten back to me. One of those agents sent me this amazing, complimentary rejection and left the door open. She totally gets THE YARD MAN and THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, but wants changes if she decides to represent the ms. We may get together at the RWA Nationals.

I got the most glowing rejection I have ever received from a third agent who read the full ms. but can’t figure out how to sell cross-genre.

Finally, I have one full manuscript left, floating out in the litterarrius nebula. Wish I could name names, but in the interest of my fits and starts writing career, I had better not.

At the moment, I am exhausted by this game of agents and queries and rejections. I am trying to concentrate on finishing up my current WIP. Writing is the only thing keeping me sane at the moment.

I am sticking to my brand. My voice. I know the direction I want to go with my writing. It may take me longer to get published. Someone out there has to recognize that my work is not entirely like the rest of the romance writers out there, nor are my stories.

Oddly enough, I am not afraid.

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is currently finishing the second book in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com

Paranormal gibberish. Please use sparingly.


Louis

Whether you are writing historical, fantasy, science fiction or paranormal, when it comes to world building I much prefer to be drawn into a new or strange domain by being introduced to fascinating characters/creatures or reading evocative, visceral narrative description. I dislike having to puzzle out a lot of made up words and language or worse,  read through awkward exposition or backstory to explain to me what these new words mean.

The very best example of this sort of world building gibberish can be found in the scene in Ghostbusters, when Louis (possessed by Vinz Clortho, Gozer the Gozerain) is brought into Ghostbuster headquarters:

“Louis, who is Gozer?”

“He will come in one of the prechosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldranii, he came as large and moving Torb. Then, during the third reconciliation of the Mekertix supplicant, they chose a new form–that of a giant Slor! Many shubbs and zuuls knew what is was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day I can tell you.”

Okay, that was satire. Hilarious satire. But how often have you read a fellow writer’s manuscript and had one of those eye-roll experiences as you slog through an overdose of this very kind of vernacular?  I’m sorry, I have zero tolerance for gibberish of any sort. Techobabble, sci-fi slang, ghost patter, demonese, angel idioms, Greco-myth-speak.  All of it.  And the historical writers can be just as bad, especially when they get esoteric and show-offy pointless.

On the other hand. If you can do it will style, then you may get away with it. I believe that’s called pulling it off. And, I grant you a certain amount of odd-speak is not only expected, it is probably even necessary, but this made up jargon should be sprinkled about in the story. Sparingly, I think, is the operative word here.

Give me your Gozer in moderation, please.

Honestly, to suck me into an ancient or futuristic world I need layers of information.
The writer must use all the senses, sight, sound, taste, touch, smell. I need facts, the rules of the world. All of these things help to ground me, the reader, in the story. But I have to be……beguiled. Drawn into the mystery of this new world, whether it’s by a creeping fog slowly drifting over a dark lane in late Victorian London or the triple moon sky of an alien planet. These kinds of thrilling sights and eerie descriptions help create an emotional connection. Too much gibberish (especially up front) makes it hard for the reader to immerse themselves in the time-space continuum, so to speak.

No matter how extraordinary your field of dreams is, try to keep it real. No amount of comic book lingo will ever supplant the wonder of creating and experiencing a living breathing world filled with whatever kind of fire-breathing dragons you wish to thrill me with.

G. Jillian Stone
There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: http://www.gjillianstone.com

Oceans of Wonder


The sea, once it castes its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. –Jacques Yves Cousteau

Big fish eat little fish. It is a universal axiom understood by almost everyone without having to experience a documentary film like OCEANS. BUT. If you have a spare  afternoon or evening this week you might go see a real movie. (Wait for the DVD to come out only if you have HD and a home theater.)

It has become a rare experience to see a film that actually evokes a sense of awe or wonder. But this one does it with the aid of some amazing, digital cinematography, brought to you by Disneynature.

Nearly three quarters of the Earth’s surface is covered by water and OCEANS chronicles an assortment of mysteries that lie beneath. Directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud (Frenchmen, of course) explore the harsh reality and rare beauty of the amazing creatures that swim, crawl, waddle and soar through 84 minutes of wonderful storytelling and unforgettable images.

So rarely do films inspire me anymore, that when I experience one that does I actually sit through the credits. The names scrolling by never mean much to me. I think it has more to do with wanting to pay homage to a long list of filmmakers who brought something worth while into the world.

In the same way an excellent book inspires, so does a very good film. I’m not sure exactly what takes place in my imagination but watching a shrimp rip the claws off a crab or seeing a giant white shark swim gently beside a scuba diver sends my thoughts whirling into all kinds of fantastic scenarios. I think  of a particular scene I am writing and realize how flat it is compared to real life survival.  And I don’t mean the reality TV kind of survivor, either.

I always find myself in awe of the innocent nobility of wild life, and that includes all of the odd sea creatures of OCEANS as they struggle to survive and still find time for play. Like, do dolphins leap out of the waves to spin and twirl in the air just for the sheer joy of it? Anthropomorphically speaking, I hope so.

And the concept of writing tension into every scene has suddenly become vividly real for me. I realize these saltwater vignettes are, in essence, reminding me to take a look at my work with a more critical eye. The muse returns to wallop me over the head. I swear I will write with more emotional honesty, push scenes further, fresher, higher, darker. Reach for something more–maybe even a little wonder.

I tried to set up a link but WordPress wasn’t cooperating, so you and Google are on your own. Try: Oceans movie trailer

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com

The Pitch.


The first thing I notice is my heart rate accelerates. My palms sweat and my breathing becomes erratic and shallow. I feel an anxiety attack coming on and I haven’t had one for years. Where’s the paper bag?

What could possibly be causing such a disturbing reaction? Would it be the live pitch? The manuscript presentation I am expected to have ready for workshops or conferences. And this pitch that I so carefully prepare, practice, and perform is the magical ticket to copious manuscript requests from agents and editors, right?

I just want to be a writer, but now I am also required to be a pitch artist. And I must prepare to pitch my manuscript at the RWA conference, where I will admit, I should be able to interest at least a few agents or editors being that I am a Golden Heart finalist, right? At least, that is what I keep telling myself.

My poor crit partner had to talk me down off the ledge I got so worked up over this pitching business. Even her “Suck it up, buttercup” attitude fails to rattle me out of this strange pitch anxiety that periodically overwhelms me. Or is it shyness? It feels like it needs Xanex. Am I shy? I guess I’m on the reclusive side, I’m a writer, not an actor.

Then, one of my sister GH Finalists recommends a book. SELLING YOUR STORY IN 60 SECONDS. Whew! You mean it could be over in a minute? I could be in and out of my pitch in sixty measly seconds. I have to admit, I saw a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

All this angst started when I heard what the pitch sessions are like at the RWA Nationals. Writers are collected outside the door to the pitch room and marched in single file. Then you find the agent or editor you signed up with (hope they have name cards). I suppose you introduce yourself first and chat a bit. That could take up another twenty or thirty seconds. Then you pitch. Now there are three and a half minutes left (remember, my pitch is sixty seconds). I would hope the agent or editor might ask a few questions to indicate their interest. Then again, they might just be being polite. Or killing time until the next pitch arrives.

Nice, huh?

Be prepared, in the upcoming weeks, I am planning to practice my pitch (in writing) here on the blog. I am going to ask for advice and feedback. I am going to traffic everyone I know to this site for a critique. This is the way I deal with anxiety. I just wear it down. If  I work on the script enough and practice enough, I will wring every last anxiety ridden moment out of the pitch.

Do you have pitch anxiety?  If so, please share your angst and your tips, please!

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com

Query and wait. Query and wait.


I decided that I would continue to write as long as I lived, even if I never sold one thing, because that was what I wanted out of my life.

—George Bernau

What I love about the George Bernau quote above is how much is resonates with me.  Every time I experience those humble, wonderful words I just feel at peace with the world. Like, I have found my life as a writer, and I will continue to write even if I never sign with a literary agent, or get offered a publishing contract or be excited about a release date or schedule a book signing.

That sentiment is lovely and all, but I also want people to read and enjoy my stories, right? So, I continue to pursue the marketing of my work with as much energy and enthusiasm that I put into writing a new chapter. Well, almost.

At the end of a writing session I can nearly always see the progress I’ve made. Not so easy on the marketing end of this business. Query and wait. Query and wait. Agents and publishers live in their own world, with mysterious timetables. I have decided that a decelerator clock hangs directly above the circumlocution slush pile on the desks of agents and editors. Lately, I have experienced a recurring nightmare triggered by a number of harrowing stories vented by other writers regarding the length of time it takes to get a decision on a manuscript.

Did someone say as long as a year?

Fine. In the meantime I will write a few novels while I wait. From everything I’m told the fiction market environment is tough right now. Tougher than what? A petrified rhino hide? What about all the sales in erotica? And YA? Jeez, how bad could it be? Then again, maybe I don’t want to know.

I began this blog with an inspirational quote and will leave you with a bit of pragmatic wisdom from my crit partner:

Suck it up, buttercup.

–a.c.Mason

I lifted the Bernau quote out of the Art of War for Writers, a writer’s workbook that I somehow managed to get downloaded for free awhile back from James Scott Bell’s website. I’m pretty sure it was a limited time offer, but nevertheless here is a link to his writer’s page: http://web.mac.com/jamesscottbell/Site/Writers_Page.html

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com

Writing in SLOMO.


This happens to me every time I get close to finishing a book. The earth begins to slow on its axis. Cars on the road and people walking along the sidewalk seem sluggish. Even my dog takes more naps.

I realize full well what is happening. I am nearing the end of my WIP. I will soon have a completed manuscript. But what should have taken days to complete has turned into weeks, and still those last few chapters remain unwritten. I have only pages to go. I continue to rework a number of scenes, adding narrative in, editing it back and then adding more in again. All of this putzing rather than push ahead to the finish line.

What is wrong with me? I like my ending. I don’t have writer’s block. And I am looking forward to completing the novel. I just––dawdle. I think this reluctance, on my part, to finish the manuscript has something to do with the end of the journey. Some sort of twisted form of writer’s separation anxiety.

I know very well, that no mater how slow I write, the plot will eventually resolve and my characters will live HEA. Or in the case of my latest novel, they sail off into the sunset, literally. And I can always revisit them in rewrite and revisions, right? Actually, this little end-of-the-novel drama makes me smile. I’m glad I care about my characters. And, as odd as this sounds, I will miss interacting with them every day.

I’m not really worrried about getting to that last page. I know that eventually, over the next days or weeks the voice in my head is going to get louder and louder. JUST FINISH THE DAMN BOOK!

And I will. Slowly.

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is currently finishing the second book in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com