Sunday, August 30, 2009

Want Marketing Tips and Advice?

If you're one of those people who loves to write but HATES to market yourself, you might want to check in on my Self-Marketing column on the Billings Examiner.

I write regular articles about self-marketing and promotion that will include the following angles:
  • interviews with professionals willing to share terrific ideas that worked
  • interviews with professionals willing to share lousy ideas that didn't work
  • tips and advice from my personal experience of over 30 years in sales and marketing
  • hints about where to do business locally and on the Internet
  • how-tos
If you have information you'd like to share, or if you're willing to spotlight yourself and/or your business, shoot me at e-mail at:

Click the logo to be connected to my site on

You might also want to check out some of the other terrific articles on the Billings Examiner!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Secret Life of...Postcards

Bet you didn't know that Postcards are the chameleon of the stationery world.

Yep, they masquerade as all sorts of wonderful and beneficial marketing tools for us writers. Cheap little buggers too.

Here's the scoop: One of my online writing pals, Elizabeth Spann Craig, has a 6-year old marketing genius in her household and she claims that the genetic make-up skipped a generation--namely, hers. Well, although I don't necessarily agree 100% with that assessment, I shared with her some of the ways postcards get away with living their secret life.

Since Elizabeth now believes I'm a marketing genius (please don't disabuse her of this notion), I thought I'd share this genius with all my fans.
  1. Design your own postcard and pay a printer a bucketload of $$, order them online (fairly inexpensive and good quality) from any one of a variety of firms (i.e., or pay a graphic designer a bucketload of $$ to design AND print them. Purpose: put your book cover on one side and your website and details of where/how to buy it on the back - leaving enough space to hand write either an address for mailing OR a personal note if distributing by hand.
  2. Bribe friends, family, and co-workers to pass out/mail your marketing postcards: i.e. in exchange for a free copy of your book, they must pass out X # of postcards
  3. Display your postcards, with handwritten notes on the back side, in the office at your "day" job
  4. Pass out signed postcards to your bank tellers, grocery store cashiers, hairdressers, manicurists, etc. - and all their co-workers
  5. Pass out signed postcards at PTA meetings, Little League games, soccer matches, the local library, church, etc. You'd be surprised at how many people/places would love to take a couple of postcards - especially if the picture/book cover is terrific.
  6. Allow your children/grandchildren to bring a copy of your book to school for Show and Tell - along with a bunch of signed postcards (this, actually, was my daughter's genius - she sent my 10 YO granddaughter Bridget to school w/book and PCs - way to go, Beth!)
  7. Scan your PC into your computer, both sides, and e-mail to everyone you know (this is my other daughter's genius - yay, Laurie!)
  8. Produce a son who, when he grows up, is part-owner of a lawn care business who is thrilled to pass out his mother's marketing PCs to all his clients (Michael, genius #3)
  9. Imitate the marketing genius of my 79 YO father (who was an insurance salesman before he retired) and pass the damn PCs out at the casino - but only to strangers who qualify after you ask them specific prospecting questions, like: Do you like to read? Do you like to read mysteries? Would you be interested in reading my famous daughter's mystery? When and ONLY when you get yes answers to all 3 questions, THEN you pass out the PC. This is a true story - my Dad DID this: he didn't want to "waste" the good money I spent on the postcards by giving them to unqualified prospects. The funniest part of the whole scenario is that one total stranger tapped him on the shoulder about 4 weeks after he gave him a PC and told him he bought and loved the book!)
I could have given you 10, 12, or 15 tips, but I like the number 9 better.
Now that you're applauding my genius, all I ask in return is that you: a) add your genius to the blog in the form of comments with other ways to creatively distribute postcards, b) link to this post in your own blog so we can all exponentially expand our marketing horizons.
P.S. Just landed an online gig to write self-marketing articles. Once things are finalized, I'll post an announcement here.
P.P.S. Elizabeth, please share your daughter's genius. She's an ace - can't wait to see what she decides to do when she grows up!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why did my Author Exchange Blog Win a Kreative Blogger Award?

Because Patricia Stoltey at says so, that's why! I received the award for my Author Exchange Blog, where I interview published writers and other professionals in the publishing world. Amazing how helping market other writers generates world-wide friendships!

Thank you, Patricia, for bestowing this award on me.

Following Patricia's lead, I pass on The Rules (there are always rules for qualification to win an award, even if you didn't know you were under consideration!):
  1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
  2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
  3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
  4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting--or that thay don't know...
  5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
  6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
  7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.
Well, I've followed Rules #1-3, so here are my 7 things in compliance with Rule #4:

  1. I love Rottweilers.
  2. I'd like to be a member of the panel of insurance professionals who draft the verbiage for the "stupidity" exclusion in an insurance policy.
  3. I played the violin in 2nd grade, graduating to the guitar and piano--much to my parents' delight. Still have the piano they gave me for my 18th birthday.
  4. Met my first boyfriend at age 5 - at the school bus stop. He lives in Colorado and we still keep in touch.
  5. Met my husband on the school bus in high school. (Yes, he lives here with me in Montana - and we still keep in touch!)
  6. I'm scared to death of heights - and about 47,000 other things.
  7. I believe that true friendship is one of the most valuable commodities in the world.
Now on to Rules #5 and #6 - here are 7 of my most favorite blogs:
  1. Copyblogger
  2. Colleen Collins' Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes
  3. D.P. Lyle, M.D.'s Writer's Forensics Blog
  4. Bill Kirton's Living, Writing, and Other Stuff
  5. Amigo's Pets and Their Authors (he owns author Mayra Calvani)
  6. The gang at Type M for Murder
  7. The gang at Carolina Conspiracy
One thing I've learned about blogging is that it's all about the readers. Hopefully, the blogs I've listed will offer you readers a variety of interesting and humorous new resources.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Who Else Works on Multiple Books at the Same Time?

Have you ever worked on more than one book at a time? I never did until a few months ago, and now I've turned into a monster!

I think it has to do with my "day" job: I write insurance seminars, outlines, and articles - along with career development workshops. In that venue, it has never been uncommon for me to work on multiple projects.

Several months ago, I began researching and putting together a concept for a mystery series. Because I was doing planning, I wasn't getting any personal writing done so I began writing a sequel to Second Time Around. Then, an idea for a mystery I'd been toying with for several years finally came together, and I started writing that. Well, the mystery project took off and I've pretty much left the sequel to STA in its infant stages (and the series concept still isn't gelling).

Here's the monster part: When searching through some files in my laptop I came across a scene I wrote several years ago. It's not related to anything - just something that came to me as a great opening for a book. And I'm hooked.

I'm thinking about playing with it - not outlining or planning or plotting: just having fun. It could be a romance, it could be a mystery - there are enough "seeds" in the 23 pages I've produced to take it in any of several directions.

Your comments and suggestions?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rejection or Revision Request?

One of my dearest friends, who is a writer, sent me an e-mail today, bemoaning yet another rejection. She and I have known each other for about 20 years, served together on the Board for a local chapter of a writer's group for 4 years, and have critiqued and line-edited each other's manuscripts--every last one of them.

Because of this relationship, my friend e-mailed me the text of her "rejection" letter. I'm SO glad she sent it, because--in my opinion--it's NOT a rejection letter. I shot an e-mail right back to my friend, pointing out that:

  • The editor said she's not ready to offer a contract yet
  • The editor pointed out a couple of things she usually does with a "rejection" letter and that she didn't do most of them for my friend because the MS is really good
  • The editor pointed out precisely what she wanted revised and, more importantly, WHY
  • The editor was both complimentary and constructively critical; a tough thing to do
  • The editor ended her letter by stressing that she really hopes my friend tackles the revisions because she really likes the story; she also emphasized that if my friend does resubmit, it should go right back to her

So, is this a rejection or a revision request?

Technically, I suppose, it is a rejection. But the salesperson in me refuses to take a not right now or a not like this, but maybe some other way as a rejection. (The writer in me agrees with the salesperson. So does the optimist in me.)

Here are samples of what I think of as rejections:

  • Months and months of silence, aka You're not even important enough to respond to
  • The form letter rejection, aka Nope, sorry
  • No thank you, your submission doesn't meet our needs at this time
  • Not ever in this lifetime
  • Go away, you suck--don't ever submit to me again

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Article in Austin Examiner: Linda Faulkner - Another Example of Great Women Authors

Sylvia Dickey Smith highlighted me in her article in today's issue of the Austin Examiner. She begins:

Linda Faulkner writes mystery—and how! Her book, Second Time Around, starts off with a dead body in the driveway and grows more mysterious. Plus, her “leading woman” has a mind of her own and accepts herself for who she is—an admirable role model for women readers.

To read the rest of her article, click this link:

Sylvia is the author of the Sidra Smart mystery series and her column in the Austin Examiner focuses on women writers over 50.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Listen to Blog Talk Radio Interview

Click here to listen to this afternoon's radio intervew by Sylvia Dickey Smith:

Thanks, Syl! I had a terrific time and appreciate the exposure.

Listen to my Blog Talk Radio Interview!

I am fortunate enough to be the guest of Sylvia Dickey Smith on her Murder, She Writes Blog Talk Radio Show his afternoon. We'll be talking about writing, in general, and my mystery, Second Time Around, as well.

The interview airs live at 5:00pm CST and can be heard at:

The show will be recorded and available tomorrow for download to your computer or MP3 player. I'll also have a link to it on my website within the next day or two.

To learn more about Sylvia, the author of the Sidra Smart mystery series, visit her website at:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Writing Cures Headaches

No, I'm not crazy. Writing--if you're me, cures headaches.

I began experiencing headaches as a teenager. From my vantage point some four decades later, I can see they were a symptom of stress and worry. Big surprise. In my very late thirties, migraines began plaguing me. Hormones was the diagnosis but, if you ask me, they're blamed for everything once a woman hits 35. Sigh. Back to the headaches. My migraines were called cluster migraines--which are more common among men than women. (Funny how the hormone diagnosis still stuck in view of that!) The really cool thing [NOT!] about cluster migraines is that they're a series of migraines, one right after the other, that can go on for days and include nausea and seeing yellow spots. Fortunately, I was prescribed medication and one dose generally heads one of them off.

Anyway, now that I'm in my fifties, I get fewer headaches and migraines. Until this weekend. You see, my July was something else and I believe my weekend bonanza was the cumulation of an eventful July - I typically get let-down stress headaches, not building-up stress headaches.

So, you ask, what does this plethora of boring headache information have to do with writing?

Well, boys and girls, after taking 3 migraine pills over a period of several hours, followed by a soothing, hot bubble bath, what cured my migraine was sitting down at my laptop and working on my book! How could I have forgotten how relaxing writing is?

Yes, it's hard work. Yes, it can be frustrating. Yes, it takes forever to get a payoff. On the other hand, it's my all-time favorite thing to do. Well, maybe not all the time. On occasion, my husband has been known to distract me for a few hours...

Seriously, when I write, I enter a world with endless possibilities. Sure, bad things happen in my books--I write mysteries, so someone has to die. But I get to control who it is and why. I also get to shut out all the annoying, aggravating things in my life while I'm writing: dishes, dust, laundry, the ringing telephone, etc.

Writing might be hard and sometimes frustrating. But it makes me happy life few things other than the people I love can do.

Next time I feel a headache coming on, I'll be reaching for my laptop instead of the pill bottle...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Plotting - Do You Have Any Suggestions?

By far, my biggest writing challenge is with plotting.

I either come up with a few terrific scenes and then border on the edge of panic when it comes to stringing them together with interesting material OR write by the seat of my pants and allow my characters to plot the rest of the story. I spend a lot of time wishing I had a plotting partner or two - but how can I ask people to give up their valuable time in pursuit of my imaginary friends?

The pantsing method has been working for me lately but, being somewhat anal about organization, I'm concerned that it may not continue working into the future. I think the major reason it's been working is because I'm tossing obstacles into the paths of my characters and it's easier dreaming up ways for them to overcome the obstacles than to plan scene after scene.

After all, isn't that what life's about? We're not privy to the grand scheme (the plot) and tend to flounder along, doing our best, oftentimes being more reactive than proactive.

Do you have any suggestions for jump-starting my plotting meter? I'm appreciate of any suggestions or ideas.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

First Amendment Rights or Being Nasty?

Pardon me as I step up onto my soapbox.

I embrace the First Amendment and our rights to say what we want, write what we want, publish what we want, etc. I do, however, have a problem with those who--in my opinion--step over the line in exercising their rights by stomping all over the rights of other people.

Case in point: an exceedingly nasty comment left by an anonymous individual on another blog that I moderate. Here's the scenario:
  • Blog post about Person A - with links to Person A's website, blog, etc.
  • Comment left by Person B, who did not provide his/her name and specifically requested his/her comment to be posted anonymously. Comment contained NO remarks about the content of the original blog post, but Person B did: (1) call Person A three nasty names, (2) make disparaging remarks about Person A's website, (3) make disparaging remarks about Person A's personal life and relationships, (4) say that he/she would never utilize the services of Person A if he/she were the last person on earth.

Does Person B have a right to say what he/she wants? Absolutely. But I had to ask myself several questions (and then answer them):

  1. Did anyone solicit Person B's opinion? (No)
  2. Was the purpose of the original blog post to discuss a particular topic? (Yes)
  3. Did the comment address the topic discussed in the original blog post? (N0)
  4. Did the comment serve ANY purpose? (Yes: Bashing Person A from a personal perspective so as to negatively affect Person A's business life.)
  5. Was the comment's intent purely objective? (Absolutely not.)
  6. When does a person cross the line between freedom of speech and slander/libel? (Can't tell you, I'm not a lawyer.)
  7. When does a person cross the line between being constructively critical and downright nasty? (When his/her sole purpose is to do injury/harm rather than offer the opportunity for growth, development, and improvement.)

I'm all for exercising our rights. But please, consider the rights of then next person you talk about or write about. S/he has rights too. If you cross the line, you're definitely going to harm yourself right along with your target. In some cases, you'll harm yourself more. Maybe Mr./Ms. Anonymous feels he/she got away with jabbing at Person A. Maybe, in fact, he/she did.

But if you ask me (I know, you didn't--please humor me any way), bashing someone anonymously is a small, sneaky, especially repugnant form of nasty. It's lower than low. And there's only one guy I know who'll be able to exact the appropriate form of punishment. So I'll leave it up to Him and step down from my soapbox.

Thank you for listening.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Characterization and Life's Experiences

As writers, we're constantly using life's experience as fodder for our characters. We also tend to use words for the majority of our communication. Which is ironic in light of the fact that our actual words represent 7% our our total communication output.

No! I'm not pulling your leg! Research indicates the following facts with respect to how we communicate:
  • 7% of our our communication output is represented by the actual words we speak
  • 38% of our communication output is represented by our tone of voice, volume, and rate of speech
  • 55% of our communication output is represented by our body language
Here's the proof: Think back to a time when you asked one of your friends how she was doing. She said, "fine," but you knew she was full of buppies. How? ESP? Mind-reading? I doubt it. How about because her tone of voice was softer than usual? Or because the typical sparkle was missing from her expression? Or because she didn't make eye contact? Or because of all 3?
As many of you know, I spent 10 days in July with my father - who underwent unanticipated triple bypass surgery in Massachusetts, 2,700 miles from my home in Montana. My sister and I stayed at his house with Dad - me 24/7 once he was released from the hospital.
I learned an awful lot about Dad during those days - and even more about our relationship and our family dynamics. Yes, we spoke of things we'd never discussed before. But I learned more from my observations, the things Dad didn't say, and his behavior. Which was excellent, by the way - something I hadn't expected.
Funny how traumas and unexpected events force us look at life, other people, and ourselves from a different perspective.
Keep that in mind when you're creating your characters - and during the process of their growth and development in your books and stories. What might be considered "normal" behavior for a character can undergo a significant alteration in response to stress or an unexpected experience.