Building My Brand . . . Or Being Me?

One of the difficult things about being a writer is putting yourself “out there.” Shortly after I started going to writing conferences, I realized that I was hearing one word over and over. Branding. Agents. Editors. Publicists. Everyone talked about the importance of building your brand. I’ve struggled with that. I mean, what is my brand? What is it about my writing that appeals to people?

Then it occurred to me – I am my brand. My brand is me. If you’re struggling with capturing your brand, take a minute and write down who you are, what interests you, what you do. Here’s a partial list for me to get you started:

  • Animal lover (especially dogs, cats, horses, turtles . . . )
  • Drive a Jeep (lifted, big tires)
  • Paralegal
  • Empty nester
  • Crocheter
  • Papercrafter
  • Scrapbooker
  • Shoot guns (I prefer my Browning semi-automatic pistol)
  • Love watching old TV (especially Star Trek, Wonder Woman, Batman, and recently discovered Dean Martin movies)

The idea behind this is to recognize that you have lots of interests, and a lot of things in common with your readers. Chances are, your interests will come through in your writing. For example, I’ve always loved horses . . . and my first book, Denim & Diamonds, is set on a horse ranch. Your readers won’t connect with a single book you write – they will connect with you.

Share with us in the comments below – what are 5 words/phrases that describe you?

Putting On a Happy Face

Recently, I posted something slightly negative on my Facebook page.

Feeling really grouchy & irritable today. You know, more so than usual. Thinkin’ it’s a good day to keep my head down and buried in work.

A friend responded.

Oh, dear – and you seemed so happy yesterday! Hoping it’s a temporary grouchiness and you’re already feeling better. <hugs>

Seeing that post really did help. Those virtual hugs aren’t just data. They’re emotion.

And that emotion that transmits via social media is why I’m generally careful about what I post. There’s research that indicates mood spreads via Facebook (check it out here), and I have no desire to add to the negativity in the world so I put on a happy face. I do the same thing at work, most of the time. I smile. Pretend I’m not hurting. Pretend everything is OK. And I bet others do the same thing. Does that give others a skewed view of our true selves? Probably. Does it serve a purpose to share those darker feelings? Maybe. Probably depends on why you share your darker feelings.

The reality is, my 18 year old daughter ripped my heart out about a year ago, days after she graduated from high school. Recently, I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of prom and posts about senior events and graduation. Those memories will forever be tainted for me, because they feel like a lie (yeah, yeah. I know they weren’t truly a lie. But they FEEL that way). On top of that, we had to have our 13 year old yellow lab put down last month. And now it looks like we’re going to have to have our 14 year old miniature schnauzer put down, likely on Saturday. If, that is, I can bring myself to make the phone call.

So, no, I’ve not been happy. I’m hurting and angry and disappointed and frustrated. But that’s OK. Those feelings are natural, legitimate feelings. We should not be afraid to share them with others, but neither should we let those feelings wrap their tendrils around every aspect of our lives. Do your 500 friends on F/B need to know that you’re feeling a little down today? No. But a quick post to let people know how you’re feeling is OK. Maybe you’ll even get a virtual hug that makes you feel better.

But remember that there is life outside of Facebook.

Acknowledge the feelings.

And then practice a little self-compassion.

 

 

5 Things I Learned on Our First Camping Trip

The Hubs in Our New Camper

The Hubs in Our New Camper

  • Make a List. No matter how much stuff you take with you, you’re going to need more stuff. The hubs and I have camped before. We felt pretty confident in what we would need. We just bought this new-to-us camper and have been gradually filling it. Put the stuff from our old pop up camper in the new camper. Bought new sheets and made the bed. Got plates. Got cups. Got towels. But we got there and realized we didn’t have a thing to drink. So, we ran to a convenience store and grabbed some sodas. Crisis averted.
  • Space Is Underrated. Don’t know if you caught it or not, but we used to camp in a pop-up camper. That’s little. Really little. Like, on top of each other little. And not in a good way. Our wish list for a new camper included floor space. This camper’s got it in spades and it made our little weekend excursion so much more enjoyable. I love my hubs dearly, but I gotta have my space.
  • Coffee. We stopped on the way to the campground to buy a coffee maker and coffee. We’re trying to save money. I told the hubs I could do without coffee. He disagreed.
  • Electricity is a Plus. We hooked up to shore power (yeah, I’m learning the lingo. At least I sound like I know what I’m doing, right?). Thought all was good. Until the hubs started the water pump to flush the toilet and the lights went dim. We had to run to Wal-Mart at 10:30 to buy a new battery. We gotta get that situation figured out before we go again.
  • Pets Matter. Seriously, our dogs are the reason I wanted a camper. I love to travel. It’s a basic need for me. Life is all about experiences. But when I go someplace and have to leave my puppies at home, it is not enjoyable. I miss my dogs. Sasha is 14 and Gracie is 9. I want to cherish every minute with them. Besides, I like them better than most people.