2015 Out & Equal Workplace Summit…

From Out & Equal Website

How would it feel to bring only part of yourself to work every day?

How would it feel to leave your personal life at the door when you walk into your office?

Or maybe you could just try not discussing the gay part of you?  But how would you maneuver the explosive minefield of possibly mentioning your same-sex partner or spouse? You decide its much safer and easier to just stay silent about your personal life altogether.

How horrible to leave the best part of yourself at home!

Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are, who they really are. Everyone deserves to feel secure enough to bring their entire selves to work every day.   Corporate policy is one thing, but attitudes are quite another.  Eliminating “closeted-employment” is what the Out & Equal Workplace Summit is all about.

I’m fortunate to be able to participate in the 2015 Out & Equal Workplace Summit this week.  EY is a major sponsor, so I will also be co-presenting a workshop discussing Allies & Friends.  The Summit will take place at the Anatole Hotel in Dallas, and promises some very interesting workshops and panels. Many focus on not only LGBT employee equality and initiatives, but strengthening active allies & friends of the LGBT equality movement.  Respecting and empowering every individual, gay or straight. Bringing a better understanding of our differences by understanding our similarities.  Teaching us how to actually walk the talk.

Exciting and interesting?  More to follow.

To keep up with the O&E Summit on social media, please see:

@outandequal, #oesummit, #eyunity

Writers: You Are Not Alone…

If you’re a writer,  you’re probably quite familiar with the struggles of not only finishing your manuscript, making a gazillion revisions, getting feedback from beta readers, and then making more revisions.  But getting your baby published is another arduous journey all its own. Sometimes in the long process, you feel as if you’re invisible – not getting negative comments, or bad reviews, but no comments or reviews at all.  Your work is just not noticed. Period. That’s why the following post by a fellow writer, Annalisa Conti, resonated with me, and will hopefully connect with other authors out there who feel they’re drifting by themselves in a vacuum of nothingness. There’s still hope.


… and then when you think you’re there, you’re not.


You’re sitting in front of your computer, your hands rest on the keyboard, you’re thinking. Why do you do this? Why do you write? Because it makes you feel like you have a voice, like you’re part of the world, and the world can somehow listen to you.

You just wish the world could at least hear you, with all those voices screaming to get its attention, all those other writers who have so many things to say: they sing so loud that you don’t have a chance. It’s like in the musical Les Miserables, when the ensemble sings “Do you hear the people sing / singing a song of angry men”: it’s so loud and strong that you can comfortably sing along, because nobody can hear you, not even your husband sitting next to you. It’s the same feeling: something is happening down there, on the stage, but you’re up here, in the upper mezzanine where seats are cheaper. The voices are so powerful, even up here, so uplifting; all you dream of is running down there on the stage, spread your arms and go “Will you join in our crusade? / Who will be strong and stand with me?”.

Writing your first novel was an incredible experience: excitement, fear, euphoria, desperation, the whole spectrum of human emotions lived in your breaths for a while. Then it was done, and you called it All the people.

You started to talk about it like a hobby, but your friends wanted to read it, so you indie published it on Amazon. You did it because it was easy, and because you thought it was a good story. Some of your friends got quite excited about it, some didn’t care. Nobody else knew about it, because you just put it on Amazon; nobody else read it, but it was fine.

It was fine until you realized that you enjoyed writing like no other job you had ever had, and now you wanted to do that for a living. So you started to read everything about book marketing, while writing your second novel. You did read books, blogs, articles, and you kept learning. At some point you thought you had a plan, so you started to act upon it. You thought you had stood up from your upper mezzanine seat and you were starting to climb down the stairs, getting closer to the stage with your French revolution flag blowing in the wind.

You worked a lot. When you were finally ready to publish your second novel, you were excited and had very high expectations. The day was finally here: your second novel, Africa, was available on Amazon.

More than two months have gone by, and you have sold about 100 copies of Africa. You feel like somebody kicked you in the face two steps down from your row K seat, stole the French revolution flag from your hand and burned it. You can hear the whole Imperial Theater on Broadway laughing at you and you just want to disappear from Earth; the only thing that prevents you from falling on your knees and crying is your husband’s hand firmly holding yours: he’s the only one who still believes in you.

What did go wrong?

Friends are not book reviewers. You had read somewhere that you need reviews on Amazon for their algorithms to nicely rank you, so you offered Africa to your good friends, the ones who had loved All the people, and begged them for a review. One month later, you got one review. Two months later, and with more begging, you got three more. You don’t like begging, but it’s not your friends’ fault: it’s really hard for you to understand why all this matters, don’t be surprised if they don’t get it and don’t think it’s time sensitive. Some of your good friends haven’t read any of your novels, so be thankful for those who did.
Lesson learned: send your next novel to your friends a few months prior to launch, not on launch day; contact bloggers, as well, people who do actually read and review books.

Friends are not social media gurus. You had also read somewhere that your personal network is the first step of the ladder, the first lever you need to play with to get more social network visibility, up to global fame and success. Truth is, a couple of your friends mentioned your books on Facebook, a couple more retweeted some of your tweets; not all of them liked your Facebook author page. Not saying they don’t care, but everybody is busy with their lives.
Lesson learned: just take what you get, and be Zen. Keep investing on social networking, because you can’t avoid it.

Friends are not (all) fans. Everyone says the key tool for book marketing is your subscribers’ list: people who want to receive your newsletter, and spontaneously give you their email address. These people are your core fans. So you talked about your website, www.annalisaconti.com, and your newsletter everywhere you could: as a result, your list now counts an amazing 3 subscribers.
Towards the end of Les Miserables, only one barricade still stands in Paris, and that’s how you feel: “The blood of the martyrs will water the meadows of France”.
Lesson learned: keep working on it, these things take a very long time – that’s what nobody really tells you. Keep writing good novels, you’ll make it. Sit back down on your seat, keep repeating the lyrics in your head: you’ll make it to the stage, eventually.

Time matters. You should have seen this coming, but you really wanted to launch Africa on July 1st for summer vacation season, and you thought you could do everything at the same time. But you can’t: a book launch takes several months. You ran many campaigns and initiatives in these two months, and got no benefit because you didn’t plan for them, you didn’t start building your brand first: Amazon ad, Google ad, Goodreads ad, Goodreads’ giveaway, Facebook page promotion, Facebook post promotion. You put Africa for free on Amazon for one day: 45 people got it – but hey, it’s free, who wouldn’t want a free book?
Lesson learned: You need a plan, and you need to follow it. Everything needs to make sense, to be done at the right time.

Nothing is easy. A good friend gave you an idea for your next project: creating a Kickstarter to launch it, to get more people to know you.
2 days left to the Kickstarter, you have: 13 backers (your husband, your parents, his family, a few good friends), less than 10% of the money you were asking for, zero new fans, zero new backers. You spent some decent money to advertise your Kickstarter on several platforms and got zero additional backers, you spent some decent time creating content and updates for the Kickstarter and got zero additional backers.
Lesson learned: nobody cares if you don’t make them care. Also, everything needs to be part of the plan: the Kickstarter was a great idea, but you just went for it head first, without pre-marketing. It failed.

In the end this is why you do it: because there’s still hope.

You attend a writers’ conference and learn new mind-blowing things on book marketing: now you can create your marketing plan. You can plan for the next two years, the books you’ll write and the precise timeline for all the activities you’ll have to conduct, from contacting bloggers to putting your book on smashwords. There’s still hope.

Will your next novel be a blockbuster? Doubt it. Will it sell more than 100 copies? Hope so. Will Africa and maybe All the people sell some more copies? Definitely hope so. And you’ll keep talking about your whole body of work, yourself as a writer, hoping for more decent outcomes.
Always keep your voice all warmed up to sing on the stage: “The time is now, the place is here!”


Originally posted on Scribe:


By Taylor Stevens

Published in 2015 by Crown.

download (2)

Reviewed by K.L. Romo.

Taylor Stevens does it again with the fifth book in her Vanessa Michael Munroe series – The Mask. At the end of her last assignment, Munroe is weary of the fight, and longs to spend time with the love of her life, Miles Bradford. She agrees to meet him in Japan, where he’s currently on assignment to try to live a more “normal” life. Although she tries to embrace a life of domesticity, Munroe finds herself fidgety and accompanies Bradford to work—an investigation being conducted at a cutting-edge biotechnology company. When the investigation unravels, Munroe is forced to take the lead in sorting out the many layers of the puzzle that left one woman dead, and multiple threats of retribution aimed at Bradford and Munroe.

In each new book, not only are we entertained by Munroe’s skill…

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Turning Creativity Into Success

UnderwoodKeyboardI read an article entitled THE UNFAIR TRUTH ABOUT HOW CREATIVE PEOPLE REALLY SUCCEED by author Jeff Goins. It’s a great piece about what a writer needs to succeed with a writing career. Not only does a writer need talent and craft, he also needs a network.  Especially in today’s digital age, when there are more writers and published books/works than ever, a writer needs a network to improve craft and hone skill, to get their work “out there” and create a buzz, and to be involved in helping someone else. People in the village help each other, and take care of their own.  Where is your village?


Originally posted on Scribe:


by Jo Ivester

Published in 2015 by She Writes Press.

outskirts of hope

Reviewed by Christine Baleshta.

“If not us, who? If not now, when?” This quote by Robert Kennedy could well be the mantra of Jo Ivestor’s idealistic father as he enlists in President Johnson’s war on poverty and moves his family from Massachusetts to open a clinic in the poorest place in the nation. Leon Kruger announces one afternoon that the family is moving to Mound Bayou, Mississippi, leaving Jo’s mother, Aura, in shock. The last thing she wants is to be torn from family and friends, but soon finds herself driving through miles of cotton fields to an all black town settled by ex-slaves.

Leon immediately immerses himself in his responsibilities at the clinic as Jo and her brothers begin school, but Aura feels without purpose. Urged by her husband and recruited by the school’s superintendent…

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Advertising: Amazon vs. Goodreads

K. L. Romo:

Great info re: Advertising Self-Pub Books

Originally posted on chrismcmullen:

Image from ShutterStock. Image from ShutterStock.


Since KDP introduced Advertising Marketing Services (AMS) for KDP Select books earlier this year, I’ve placed 50 ads on a variety of nonfiction Kindle e-books.

I’ve also placed over a dozen ads with Goodreads. It’s interesting to compare the two options for advertising e-books.


There are two great things about advertising right on Amazon’s website or on a Kindle device (both are possible with AMS via KDP):

  • Many of the customers who see your ad are already shopping for other books, i.e. they are looking for books to read, they have their wallets out, and they are ready to spend money.
  • Since they are already on Amazon, your ad isn’t interrupting some other activity and trying to persuade customers to leave one site to visit another.

If you advertise at Goodreads with a link to your Amazon product page, you’re asking readers who were…

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Review of THE FIRE SERMON by Francesca Haig

Europe in the post-apocalyptic world.  The Earth has finally absorbed the fall-out 18109771from its nuclear destruction. Evolution has once again made way for the human race to continue.

But now each baby is born with a twin.  One male, one female. One perfectly healthy, one damaged.  An Alpha, and an Omega.

Society has been trained to separate the two – the Omegas bear the contamination of the blast that devastated the world centuries ago. The Alphas can’t risk being tainted by them, so as soon as possible after birth, the damaged are sent to Omega camps to live among other mutated twins.  As the years pass, the Alphas take more and more control of human civilization – giving Omegas poor-producing land with little in the way of comfort. Omegas scrape by but are starving; kept alive but at a minimum. Some even disappear.

But some Omegas are hard to recognize, having no physical mutations. Those like Cass are Seers – they have psychic abilities.  Some can see the future, some can see the past.  But all are powerful – both feared and sought out by all factions. Cass was with her twin Zach for thirteen years before she was taken away. But by that time, Zach’s life had already been tainted with bitterness – shunned by the Alpha children, he wants nothing more than to fit in. Cass just wants the separations to end, with families staying together – both the perfect and the imperfect.

But there is one connection each set of twins is forced to respect – when one twin dies, so does the other.

The Alphas have a plan to deal with this vexation, and it’s up to Cass, and her fellow Omega Kip, to lead the rebellion against the Alpha aggressors.  How far will they go to stop them? And how can Cass bring compassion for one’s twin back to the world?

Francesca Haig has done a wonderful job with both plot and characterization, and her writing style is very fluid, and lyrical at times. One of my favorite quotes describes battle:

“…This isn’t some bard’s tale…When bards sang of battles, they made it sound like a kind of dance. As if there would be a beauty to the combat, a musical clashing of swords while soldiers parried to and fro, and individual fighters distinguished themselves with feats of skill and daring.  But what I saw allowed no room for such things.”

I think Haig’s premise is very ingenious, and the plot is energized with the push and pull between those who have and those who don’t, with the twist of Ying and Yang, one always affecting the other – The Alpha and The Omega. What a great read, with the promise of two more to come.