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Saturday, March 31, 2012

JIM HENSON’S THE STORYTELLER

In 1988, The StoryTeller, created and produced by Jim Henson, first aired. It is a series that retold European folk tales, using live action and a dog puppet. An old storyteller (John Hurt) sits by the fire and recounts these tales to both the viewer and to his talking dog. I watched these wonderful stories back then, with my children, and I watch them still on Netflix. I never tire of them.

As a storyteller, I am intrigued by the tales of old and read them often. I search for clues that answer the questions: What is it that makes a good story a great story? Why do some stories last for generations, while others die after only a short time, never to be heard again?

Now, there is a comic book anthology, released by Archaia Entertainment that mirrors the TV show, using luxuriant illustrations and an Old-World atmosphere to tell the tales. Between the pages of this book are reprised stories that are sure to tickle the fancy of the most demanding story listener. They are also a welcomed relief to a parent, looking to add traditional culture to their children’s daily diet of high-tech. Inside this comic are mythologically rich and opulent stories, beautifully illustrated, that are sure to please both young and old.

Read the intelligently descriptive review of this book by Maura McHugh on COMICBUZZ http://comicbuzz.com/the-storyteller-1-review

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

MY GREATEST TEACHER


 My new website, writerenroute.com, is now up and running. I’ve worked hard on designing the site and I’m very happy with the results, especially the home page. The cover image is a triptych, composed of an reproduction of my novel, The Deal Master, as well as an image of my latest book, Discipline: A Play. Both images flank a center section that contains a quote equally important for writers and non writers, alike.

      “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” __Anton Chekhov

      The importance of this quote is obvious to writers . Every writer learns early in his/her education that “showing, not telling” is an invaluable writing technique. But in what way is this quote important to non writers?

      My dad was my greatest teacher in life. Rarely did he “tell” me what I needed to say or do. He showed me by example. In almost any situation, I’d take clues from my dad on how to act and react. He walked his talk and lived without pretension. He spoke simply, was always true to his word and his actions demonstrated that he was a man of great love and respect for people from all walks of like. In return, he was truly loved and respected by many. Thanks, Dad.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

IT’S NOT ONLY ABOUT WRITING; THERE IS MARKETING, TOO

My latest book, Discipline: A Play, has just been published (January, 2012.) As you might imagine, it is very exciting to see the fruition of your thoughts and words in the form of a book that people can read and comment upon. From beginning to end, the process of writing a book and seeing it published is indeed thrilling. But before you quit your day job to focus on your writing, beware: the euphoria of seeing your work in print does not last long. It is usurped by the countless hours of marketing needed to sell your book in today’s volatile market place.
Discipline is my second book, and as I begin its promotion, I find that I am spending a lot more time marketing than I did with my first book, The Deal Master, published in 2006.
Times have changed. Social media is now at the forefront of book marketing and an author must develop an aggressive marketing campaign utilizing the major social media sites. Anyone over the age of 30 is required to painstakingly learn what the young kids know inside and out about Twitter, Google +, Facebook and Linkedin to gain a foothold on these viable marketplaces. Trust me—this is not easy. It’s like learning a new language. Social media education takes a lot of time, money and discipline (the other discipline, not my book Discipline.) Don’t be conned into believing the ads you’ll find on many sites, promising great numbers of followers simply by laying out a few dollars. In order for marketing to work on these sites you must put your time in, learning the ins and outs to obtain the maximum exposure.
There are other reasons why marketing is more time consuming than ever before. Greater competition is one of these reasons. Larger numbers of books are being published every year with fewer and fewer markets where they can be sold. Small independent bookstores are folding, one after the other. Even large book chains are finding it difficult to survive in today’s market place, Borders Books being the most obvious example. Did you know that in 2010 there were over 3 million books published? In 2005 there were fewer than 300,000. Hence, if you choose to neglect creating an aggressive marketing campaign, you will certainly get lost in the crowd. It is simple mathematics; the abundance of books being published today will force your book to the bottom of the heap unless you put together a definitive marketing strategy.
The art of writing is inseparably linked with the marketing of your writing. One of the problems I find, however, is that marketing takes a lot of time away from what we writers enjoy most—writing. All the experts tell you that before your book is published, you will need to put together a marketing strategy. Then, once your book is published, you will need to take action, conducting interviews, making arrangements for readings, giving readings and signings, updating your website (or creating one if you do not already have one,) sending out press releases, learning how to tweet, creating a fan page on Facebook, and getting linked-in. And that is only the beginning. Additionally, you must produce business cards, post cards and flyers, promoting your book locally, statewide and then nationally. In other words, you will be spending a lot of time doing a hundred and one things to spread the word about your new book, hoping that enough people will buy it so that you can make a sufficient amount of money to survive while you write your next great novel.
Did I also mention that, as the author, you will need to speak intelligently about your work? That’s right. You will be required to reflect on what it is you want your readers to take away from your writing. You’ll need to practice a 60 second elevator speech as well as give an in-depth insight as to the meaning behind what you wrote.
This week, Discipline: A Play is featured on Reader Views website http://www.readerviews.com/. Along with this feature is an audio interview between Irene Watson and I in which we discussed topics such as social norms, persona, the role of women in society and sexual overindulgence—all topics that relate to my book. The interview never once delved into the writing process. Topics that were prevalent in interviews of the past no longer interest a newer, more highly educated audience. People no longer want to know how long it took to write your book, or why you chose the names of your characters. Today, people want to understand the impetus behind your writing. They want to lift the hood and get a look at the engine, grasping the book’s meaning and unmasking the real reason why you wrote the thing. Take a little time and listen to my interview http://insidescooplive.com/author-pages/Bianco-Gerard-Discipline.html. I’m certain you’ll find that there are topics that we discussed that will surprise you—topics that, as an author, you will need to think about before your book is published.