More Similar to or Different from You – How Do You Like Your Protagonists?

More Similar to or Different from You – How Do You Like Your Protagonists?

I remember reading a blog post a year or so ago about the trend toward awful/bitchy/ugly/unpleasant – fill in your own blank – heroines. People are bored with nice girls finishing first, or so the assertion was made. I gotta tell you, I resisted that one. A lot. Still do. While I might want a badass heroine like Gal Godot in Wonder Woman, I also want a heroine I can root for. A fully drawn, complex character, but one who underneath it all is a pretty decent human being. (That would probably be the one flaw in Wonder Woman – she wasn’t all that fully drawn because the focus was the action.) The above-mentioned story seemed to be mocking decent female characters, implying they were weak, uninteresting, and not worth caring about.

wonder woman

So I ask – as a reader, are you drawn to characters who are more like you, or more different from you? Same question for the writers in the room: are you more likely to create a character who is exactly like you or starkly dissimilar? Add your comments below!

In Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, the protagonist is a timid, privileged white guy of 30. He’s afraid of everything – including most people, so he holds them in disdain. Can’t be bothered to strike up a conversation with anyone he doesn’t already know – which makes it pretty hard to meet new people. He goes out of his way to avoid social situations. He’s good at math, prefers order to chaos, plans everything welllll in advance. In other words, the complete opposite of me.

The second main character, Paula – she’d probably be nominated as Supporting Actress if we were talking about an Oscar role – is a lot more similar to me.

So why’d I do arrange the characters that way? Well, for one, it wouldn’t be a very interesting story for an outgoing guy who loves people to go around the world. He might have a great time, but he probably wouldn’t learn or grow very much. But why isn’t the main character a woman? There’s the small matter that this story was developed out of a real conversation I had with a male friend, the person on whom Stan was initially patterned.

So how did I write the character? When I started, I just thought, “What would Tom do?” Eventually, though, Stan became Stan and wasn’t so similar to Tom anymore – and I was able to ask myself, “What would Stan do?”

It also helps to have a pretty good sense of people. I’m still looking for 30-year-old male beta readers to test-drive the book, because I want to be sure the dialogue is realistic. Other men have told me it is, but not guys as similar to Stan as I’d like to hear from. If that’s you – give me a holler and I’ll get you an ARC (advance reader copy). So I know people. I like people. I pay attention to people. I like character-driven books, movies, and TV shows. And I’ve also studied a variety of personality profiles. You may be familiar with Myers-Briggs, DISC, and the Enneagram. Just in case you’re wondering, Stan’s profiles for each of those are below.

personality profiles

Time will tell whether I’ve written Stan’s character as realistically as I think I have – or whether that even matters. My second novel is about a man, too. It also came out of a real event. But the details about that are for another day. In the meantime, I’m finishing this draft so I can start the rewrites.


Laura’s first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World is forthcoming in early 2018. Watch here for updates – and prepurchase your signed copy here.

Baseball Beards – More than Superstition

Baseball Beards – More than Superstition

As a baseball fan, Stan would be all over the post-season. Twelve-year-old Stan is a huge New York Yankees fan – what 12-year-old who lives East of Kansas isn’t? He and his buddy are thrilled to meet two members of the Yankees’ Double A team, the Albany-Colonie Yankees: Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada. He still roots for the Yankees as an adult, but he’s not an uberfan. For instance, he’s not irritated by Mets fans and merely raises an eyebrow when the Yankees miss the playoffs in 2008.

Stan played baseball in prep school, and at one point thought about pursing a professional career in the game. On his way home from his round-the-word trek, he stops in Houston and tours Minute Maid Park. It’s during that stop that we learn why he gave up on baseball, and instead fell into a Wall Street job he never much liked.

baseball beards

As I write this post, I’m watching my home team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, trying to even the NLDS (National League Division Series) with the Dodgers, who lead the series 1-0. The Washington Nationals just finished up a come-from-behind win over the Cubs. As much as I’ve always loved baseball, I haven’t been following it much these last five or six years. No particular reason – just other things taking priority. So as I’m watching these games, I’m particularly struck by the number of players with everything from a mild hipster beard to the full-blown hippie thing going on.

That ever-reliable resource Wikipedia tells us, “A playoff beard is the superstitious practice of male athletes not shaving their beards during the playoffs. Playoff beards were introduced by ice hockey players participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and are now a tradition in many sports leagues.” But it seems, these days, there’s more at work regarding beards in baseball than superstition. At the start of Spring Training last year, Sports Illustrated did a story titled “The 2016 guide to baseball’s finest facial hair.” And not everybody thinks favorably of these furry faces. Back in March 2015, USA Today did a piece titled, “The face of baseball is entirely obscured by its beard.”

The Ryman - Sept 2017

Hubby and I in Nashville, Sept 2017

Personally, I think they look pretty scruffy. My husband has a well manicured beard that his grandmother hated. She was of the era when the only way to look presentable was to be clean-shaven. Whenever she would nag him about his beard, I would defend him, telling her, I think he looks quite handsome.”Clean shaven vs Bearded

So Stan starts off as one of Grandma’s clean-shaven gentlemen. However, as he travels the world, he looks to lighten his load and make things easier, so he grows his hair long and has a beard he tends every now and then by the time he makes it home. But he has a reason. Other than macho posturing, I’m not really sure what these ballplayers are thinking.

What are your thoughts on beards? Yea or nay? Does it matter if they’re busy or well trimmed? Give us your thoughts in the comments section.


Laura’s first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World is forthcoming in early 2018. Watch here for updates – and prepurchase your signed copy here.

What’s on Your Travel Bucket List?

What’s on Your Travel Bucket List?

travel bucket list.jpg

While the character of Stan is loosely based on a friend of mine, he is fictional. There may be a man (or men) out there in the world who are similar to him, in terms of age, interests, and world views – but I don’t know them and did not pattern this book after them. Likewise, the character of Paula is based loosely on aspects from my past. However, she’s a fully drawn character, a fictional person. There may be a woman (or women) like her out there – but I don’t know them and am not writing about them.

The point is that I made it up – this story about a guy who travels around the world. Yes, there are actual historical references, real people are mentioned, and as much as possible, I’ve fact-checked the details. But the travel plan, how Stan gets from place to place, sneaking his dog into places he couldn’t possibly sneak a dog into, and all the characters he meets on his journey are straight out of my own imagination. So it makes sense – to me – that Stan visits a couple of places I’ve visited or that are on my travel bucket list, chief among them Greece and Australia.

But there are more places than those on my bucket list. For one thing, I’d love to do a tour of Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales. I’ve never been on a cruise, so one of my travel bucket list items is an Alaskan cruise. I’d like to get that one crossed off by May 2019.

When I was in third grade (a loooong time ago), my family did a brief tour of Western Canada that included Alberta and British Columbia. Then we visited Toronto when I was about 12. (My dad was Canadian.) However, I’d love to do a tour of the whole country. My husband and I are thinking about buying an RV trailer – so that would definitely be the way to see our Neighbor to the North!

I’d love to travel to the interior of Mexico, as well as the beaches, and see South America. Gotta dust off my Rosetta Stone before we do that, as my rudimentary Spanish probably will not suffice for a trip of that magnitude – but if immersion works, I’ll be better at the language by the time I get home.

Most people list travel as the thing they’d do if time and money were no barrier, and yet surprisingly few ever do. Estimates put the number of Americans who travel abroad at about 10 percent annually – and the majority of those never stray further than Canada or Mexico. My friend Janet has been all over the world. A number of years ago, she went to Peru – has pictures with the llamas at Machu Picchu. A couple years back, she did a river tour of Viet Nam. Most recently, she took a trip to Bali this summer. She says her kids know she’s not leaving them an inheritance because she’s traveling every chance she gets.

So where will your dream trip take you? How’s the planning coming? Is it a dream that will become a reality, or is your travel likely to remain virtual? Visit Twitter to give your answer on my Travel Bucket List poll.

Laura’s first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World is forthcoming in early 2018. Watch here for updates – and prepurchase your signed copy here.

Talking Out Loud to Myself in My Head

Talking Out Loud to Myself in My Head

A couple weeks ago, I had this idea for a new novel. The entire story is told via the running dialogue in the main character’s head. For one thing, it would definitely prevent “head hopping” – the (controversial) “practice of switching point-of-view characters within a single scene.”* Of course the character would interact with other people, which would occur as it does in virtually every other novel, with dialogue indicated by quotation marks. But what she was doing would be constantly narrated. Maybe it’s been done before, but I’ve never read that book.

I think she might be a nurse who develops a drug problem – of course, Edie Falco already nailed that character, so maybe just a school teacher. Oh, wait. Walter White. Well, I’ll figure out some profession that hasn’t yet been depicted with an addiction issue.

So I told my husband my idea, and then I put it on the back burner, or so I thought.

woman driving.jpg

Been working really hard to get Stan done – and I was having trouble with two episodes I want to depict in this final chapter I’m writing, about his experience in Brazil. So while driving the other morning, I decided to turn off the radio to see if I could work out the details in my head. Suddenly, the strangest thing happened. I noticed myself narrating my thoughts. Instead of just noticing that white truck over there with a dented tailgate, I thought in my head, “Look – that white truck over there has a dented tailgate.” Likewise with the school bus with its tail light out. And the motorcyclist without the helmet. Instead of just noticing and grasping the information, I was silently narrating it all to myself.


Do I do that all the time? I’d never noticed it before. Is that because I can’t hear the narration with the radio, or when I’m actually having a conversation with another person? Is this a habit, a temporary phenomenon, or something that comes and goes? I still haven’t quite puzzled out the answer.

But it’s interesting to think about, both as it relates to this new novel I’m contemplating, and as it relates to Stan. Stan’s the main character, to be sure. There are secondary characters, namely his friend, Paula, and his dog, Isis. And plenty of tertiary characters. But the story is about one guy traveling around the world. So he’s by himself, a lot. And he thinks things to himself, a lot. I tried not to overdo that aspect, and indicate his unspoken thoughts with italics. That works pretty well, except in the places where there are a lot of foreign words, as those also warrant italics.

I don’t know about you, but my husband and I have three dogs and a cat – all of whom I talk to with some regularity. They don’t have to be there, though, for me to talk out loud. I’ve been known to talk to the vegetables as I’m chopping them, the plants as I’m watering them, and the clothes in my closet as I’m trying to decide which ones will get to venture out in public on a given day. I’m guessing that not everybody does this. But I suppose it does make sense that the character I am creating talks to himself and his dog. Partly because it’s a behavior with which I am personally very familiar. But also as a device to let the reader know what’s going on in Stan’s head. I hate the omniscient narrator – so I want the reader to have a reason to know what Stan’s thinking. I can get away with those italic quasi-thought bubbles once in a while. But when no one’s there and you still need to know what’s in his head, one of most practical ways to do that is to have him talk out loud. Like this:

Typically a day trip for Guadalajara tourists, Tequila is just shy of 40 miles from the second largest metro area in Mexico. When Stan books his “Tequila Tour,” he’s shocked to find it’s just 14 American dollars. “The whole trip, things I’ve expected to be expensive have been cheap, and things I would think would be affordable have been expensive,” he mutters to Isis, who licks his ankle in agreement.


To the group’s pleasure, the tour concludes with the opportunity to drink just about as much tequila as they can consume. Recalling his Chicago experience, Stan limits his intake on the tour to a cursory tasting. That’s what the name says – TASTING, he thinks, looking around at the rest of his tour-mates who obviously perceive the concept of “tasting” differently.

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer first-person or third-person storytelling? Are you OK with an omniscient narrator, or would you prefer to see the story through the eyes of one character – or one character at a time? Post your thoughts in the comments section!

*As defined by Randy Ingermanson on


Laura’s first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World is forthcoming in early 2018. Watch here for updates – and prepurchase your signed copy here.

Pooping to Communicate

Pooping to Communicate

Traveling with your pet, no doubt, has its challenges and rewards – Stan does it, takes his Jack Russell terrier, Isis, around the world with him. But I have three dogs Baileyand a cat. So most of the time, when we travel, my husband and I need to hire someone to come hang out with them while we’re gone. We’ve been blessed to have a good friend nearby who loves dogs and is happy to be here when we’re away. She has her own dog, Bailey, who she brings with her when she stays with our dogs.

We just got back from a 5-day trip to Franklin, Tennessee, for the Tribe Conference. Things went a little more smoothly this time for Donna than they did when we went to Pacific Grove, California, in August. On day 3 of a 6-day trip, I received a phone call at 6:45 a.m. A neighbor back in Phoenix was calling because she had my dog, Sugar – meaning Sugar had escaped without Donna knowing about it! We’ve lived in our house for 2+ years at this point, and as far as we know, the fence around the backyard has been well dog-proofed. No incidents of escaping, to date. So maybe Sugar got out of the house when Donna left, and Donna didn’t notice? Possible, but unlikely. She’s similar in size and breed to Bailey (pictured).

I immediately called Donna, and she didn’t answer the phone. I sent a text message: no response. So I started to worry. The person who found Sugar was very nice. She had gone by our house and said everything appeared to be locked up – meaning Donna wasn’t there at the time. We went to breakfast, texted Donna again, and tried not to fret. About an hour later, Donna called us. She had been in a meeting and was rushing over to pick up Sugar and take her back to our house. She got there, looked around the yard, and didn’t see an obvious places for an escape, so how the dog got out remained a mystery.

Until the next morning, when Donna called me at 7:15. Sugar was missing, again. “I was just feeding the three dogs, and then I turned around and Sugar was gone!” She felt so bad about it, too – like somehow it was her fault. This time, however, Sugar came home on her own – within 20 minutes, Donna heard her scratching at the front door. Donna again headed out to the backyard and saw a spot she thought must be the place where Sugar was getting out. She shored it up with some trellis and brick, and we’ve had no further incidents. But what a scare – for both Donna and us!

No such episodes occurred during this most recent trip. Until last night. We’ve been home since Monday night (see my last post about that), and at about 10 p.m. on Wednesday night, I found a pile of poop in the hallway. Deliberate poop – not “almost made it to the dog door but missed” poop. These dogs are well trained. They have a dog door, which they use every day. There was no reason or excuse for poop in the hallway, except to tell us that someone was upset about all our recent galavanting.

When I asked, “Who did this?” I could tell immediately it was Molly because she ran into the bedroom and cowered in a corner. She’d never done this before, either. I felt bad – not at all angry with her – because I’m pretty sure I understand why she did what she did. Dogs don’t have human words – so they tell us how they feel with the tools at their disposal. And because they don’t have words, we can’t use them explain why we’re going to be away, that we’ll be back soon, that we’re leaving them in good hands, and that our travel doesn’t mean we don’t love them.

The third dog, Lucy, is very vocal when we come home – almost like words, but not quite. And then the cat … well, she’s a cat. She comes around when she feels like it, eats, and leaves again. Although she did sleep on top of me last night.

If I had just one small dog, like Isis, I think I’d be quite inclined to take her everywhere with me, too. Given that our pet family is quite a bit larger, we’ll make do, for now, with a pet sitter and trying to keep our trips further than 3 weeks apart.


Laura’s first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World is forthcoming in early 2018. Watch here for updates – and prepurchase your signed copy here.

Momentum, I’ve got your number!

Momentum, I’ve got your number!


Wow – with this post, I’ve made it through the NO EXCUSES 3-Week Author Blog Challenge. Sounded easy, but if you’ve been reading along, you know that some of these prompts were challenging. Here they are, in order, in case you want to see them all in one place:

DAY 1 – October 28

Having a hook is one of the keys to successfully marketing your book. What is your 30-second elevator pitch? And whom would you most like to give it to?

DAY 2 – October 29

Another key to book marketing success is knowing everything about your ideal reader’s demographics (e.g. age, gender, education level, income level, religious preference, parenting status, marital status) as well as their psychographics, which covers everything from the kind of car they drive to their favorite social media sites to what they do on Saturday mornings. Extrapolate to the parents if you’re a children’s author. Tell us about your ideal reader.

DAY 3 – October 30

On the day before All Hallow’s Eve, let’s examine the obvious and think Halloween today. If you were to put together a “costume” to promote your book, wear at your book signings/events, and otherwise attract attention – and, more importantly, questions – about your book, what would it look like? Are you brave enough to actually wear it? BONUS: Tell us about the results if you’ve actually already created and worn said costume.

DAY 4 – October 31

A book cover is a very important marketing tool – probably the first one an author will create. You’ll use it even before your book is done to help build interest. Describe your process for choosing and designing your book cover. Who created your cover? How did you find him/her? What do you love about your cover? What might you do differently next time?

DAY 5 – November 1

Every author wants their book to be different – to stand out in the crowd. But when it comes to selling your book, it’s also important to know what it’s similar to so that you can give people comparisons they can easily understand. For instance, who hasn’t heard Star Wars described as a Western set in space? What kinds of comparisons could you make in describing your book so that people know instantly what it – or isn’t – similar to?

DAY 6 – November 2

An author’s platform is their building block to an audience. It’s where you’re showing up on a regular basis, whom you’re influencing, who knows you, who’s following you, who’s talking about you, who’s waiting for that (next) book to come out. What are the three most important things you are presently doing to grow your platform? What are three new steps you will undertake in the first quarter of 2017 to shake things up a bit?

DAY 7 – November 3

If you could ask anyone in the world to write a blurb for your book, who would it be? Why that person/people? How did/will you go about reaching them? Yes – really!

DAY 8 – November 4

Today in America, it’s National Sandwich Day. Step back for a minute and think of your book marketing campaign as a sandwich. What are the ingredients? What make up the guts of your campaign? What comprises the bread/wrap/lettuce leaf that holds it together? And what are the condiments – the extras that add spice and really make it delicious? BONUS: Which sandwich does your book most resemble?

DAY 9 – November 5

What would be the ideal NON-bookstore venue for selling your book? Why? What is your plan to reach out to such a venue to ask about having them carry your book?

DAY 10 – November 6

What ancillary product could you develop or create to sell along with your book? What steps would you take to design it? Who would you have to ask for help? How could you package it with your book to generate repeat sales, endorsements, referrals, or other promotions?

DAY 11– November 7

When is the last time you did a survey of other books similar to yours on the market? How are they selling? What do their authors’ websites look like? What are their authors doing to market? What ideas could you borrow to generate your own new marketing concepts or campaigns?

DAY 12 – November 8

Describe your first book signing – real or imagined.

DAY 13 – November 9

Contests are a great way to inspire interest in you as an author – and in your book(s). Social media is one way to host a contest – but the options are virtually limitless. What kinds of contests could you hold to generate participation, buzz, and involvement of potential readers?

DAY 14 – November 10

One great way to market your book(s) is by teaching a class or a seminar. The topics may be more obvious for a nonfiction author, but a fiction author can teach, too! Character development, planning a writing schedule, world building, to name just a few. What class or seminar could you develop in order to share your expertise and expand your platform?

DAY 15 – November 11

Most adult books – graphic novels notwithstanding – rely on words to convey their plots and content. But when it comes to marketing – getting people to remember you – it’s super important to include images to anchor your marketing messages. What kinds of creative graphics (e.g., infographics, comic strips, stick figures, etc.) can (or do) you use to spice up your marketing and get people to take an interest in your book(s)?

DAY 16 – November 12

The first word in social media is SOCIAL. How are you using social media to promote your book, without coming across too salesy/pushy? What aspect of social media would you like to learn more about? What are your next steps?

DAY 17 – November 13

The holidays will be upon us soon. Ever notice all the holiday commercials that use jingles in their ads? A jingle is designed to be catchy and entertaining. If you were to write a jingle for your book, what lyrics might it contain? What music might you mimic/use? Now that you’ve thought about it, how likely are you to actually go out and create a jingle for your book?

DAY 18 – November 14

Who would be the perfect person/company/organization to partner with to sell your book? It might be another author, a performer, a shop owner, a seminar facilitator, a teacher, etc. Pretty much, the answer to this question is limited only by your imagination. How will you reach out to that person/company/organization? What’s the hook for your pitch?

DAY 19 – November 15

Mischief marketing is any form of nontraditional – and often outlandish – marketing. Leaving your bookmark in similar books in a bookstore. Writing your title in chalk on a sidewalk that gets lots of foot traffic. Attending a ballgame dressed up as a character in your book. What kind of mischief marketing could you get up to in an effort to promote your book? The bolder the better. What would it take for you to work up the nerve to implement such a campaign?

DAY 20 – November 16

With holiday shopping in full swing, ’tis most definitely craft fair season. Authors sometimes do well at craft events by virtue of being the only bookseller at an event. Not every live event is for every author – but they can be a great way to show off your book to the public and meet new potential readers. Have you done any live events? If so, how did it go? What’s your best tip for other authors to be successful? If you haven’t done them yet, what’s holding you up? What technique/display/idea have you seen a vendor use that might work for you or other authors?

DAY 21 – November 17

What are you going to do to keep the blogging momentum going? What plans do you have to continue your connection with other Author Blog Challenge participants and the new readers you’ve generated for your blog?

Momentum I have created. And a renewed interest in getting my book, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, out into the hands of actual readers. My husband is finally reading the book, and he gives it a thumbs-up. I don’t say that to brag, but because he’d definitely let me know if it was lacking. The way he said, “Hey, the book is really good,” let me know he had his doubts before he picked it up (and might have something to do with why it’s taken him so long to actually get around to reading it).

I also came up with more ideas than I presently have time to act on. What I will do next is (a) finish writing the freaking book!; (b) sit down with these posts and develop a marketing plan – with a realistic timeline; and (c) calendar these tasks so I actually start taking action on them.


As an aside, I listened to a webinar this evening about getting your book into libraries. Did you know that people who visit libraries typically also buy a lot of books? Studies have shown (I don’t have the sources, but they’re out there) that authors who have their books in libraries see an average 28 percent increase in their Amazon sales. Yep – that means having to sell on Amazon, and I’m still waffling on that one. But who can argue with those stats? And the gal giving the presentation promises this is all possible with a time commitment of only 20 minutes a day, five days a week. So that’s also going into my marketing plan.

If you’ve read this series, I sure hope I’ve convinced you that my book is worth a look. Please download the FIRST 5 Chapters and mark your calendar for the official release in Spring 2017.

One way or another, we will meet again!


LAURA ORSINI is an author and self-publishing consultant who works with other authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.

Travel expos and events are the place for Stan

Travel expos and events are the place for Stan

Live events are a lot of fun – but they’re also a LOT of work. Depending on who you are, and how willing you are to engage with the audience, though, they can be highly profitable. One great benefit is that the prospective readers get to meet and interact with the authors up close and in person. And authors who embrace selling are unafraid to ask these folks to buy their books. The good ones sell books. The ones who prefer to sit behind their tables with their heads in their phones may as well not even make the effort to be there.

Over the past year or so, I saw two authors do a bang-up job of making the most of their festival appearances. The first, about whom I posted the following on the NO EXCUSES 3-Week Author Blog Challenge, is Dustin Hall:

I met a man at the 2015 Coolidge Days event, in Coolidge, Arizona, a tiny town about 60 miles southeast of Phoenix. He was an author with 1 book to sell. The booth cost less than $50 for the 3-day event, and by the time I met him midway through the third day, he’d already sold more than 50 books at $15 each. Hotel, food, gas expenses well covered, that’s an incredible return on his investment. To his credit, he was more than willing to talk to every person who walked past his booth – an essential key to his success.


The other was a gal named R.K., whom I met at the Los Angeles Book Festival this past April. The topic of her book is much closer to mine: Travels with a Road Dog: Hitchhiking Along the Roads of the Americas. Now I say R.K. did a bang-up job because I personally witnessed her sell about a dozen books in the 20 minutes or so that I visited her booth – but I have no proof whatsoever that she actually came out ahead, monetarily, because a booth at the LA Book Festival is expensive, coming in at $1050 for the 2016 event. But that’s a LOT of sales in a very short time – so if she was that successful over the rest of the weekend – pouring rain notwithstanding – she might have made most or all of her money back. And she definitely gained some important visibility. Not to mention that I bought her book. I also loved one aspect of her décor – the use of a plastic shower curtain featuring a large map of the United States as a drape for her booth.


As the coordinator of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, I’ve done my share of events. Some have been blessedly beneficial (most prominently, the 2015 Phoenix Festival of the Arts). Others were so much work, requiring travel and an overnight stay, yet yielded literally nothing – except for me buying more books. The Kingman KABAM was one such event; I’d never do that one again.

I think the key is choosing the right events. One key might be following Dustin’s lead – and ours at the Phoenix Festival – by being the only booksellers at a given event. With little to no competition, if the books are properly targeted to the audience, authors can do very well.

With that in mind, guess what’s going on my 2017 calendar right now?


It also looks like AAA has all kinds of travel events and expos. I’ll have to pace myself and choose wisely, but this could definitely be a good direction to go. Stay tuned, because we’ll certainly let you know as we book these events, starting in Summer 2017!


Read the FIRST 5 Chapters of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.


LAURA ORSINI is an author and self-publishing consultant who works with other authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.

Turning on the mischief marketing faucet

Turning on the mischief marketing faucet

Because Isis plays such an important role in Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, I feel like she should play a key role in the marketing. Subtle and understated, but hugely important. In considering the kinds of mischief marketing I’d like to get up to, though, I’m not quite sure how employ this loveable little Jack Russell terrier.

Mischief marketing is any form of nontraditional – and often outlandish – marketing. Leaving your bookmark in similar books in a bookstore. Writing your title in chalk on a sidewalk that gets lots of foot traffic. Attending a ballgame dressed up as a character in your book. I suppose I could order a passel of stuffed JRTs and recruit people to hide them in places around the world – making my very own Isis Search Squad. Yeah – maybe not. Could get confusing and political and stuff. Well, maybe go with the treasure hunt but use a different name.


Speaking of which, it came up the first time I did a public reading of Stan that the name Isis is also the name of a worldwide terror organization. One woman said she couldn’t focus on the story because of this. I actually thought – for a few minutes – about renaming Stan’s dog because of this. But I asked the rest of the room, and no one else had experienced such a distraction. Since I began writing this story in 2004, it far pre-dated the usurpation of the name Isis by this terror group, and thus, I decided, I’m keeping it. Reclaiming the name of the Egyptian goddess, even.


Other ways to incorporate Isis into my mischief marketing might include having a custom painting done and using that on stickers I distribute in well-trafficked areas and at well-attended events (like the big Desert Trip concert, which my husband and I had the vast joy and privilege to see live).


Another idea is to have temporary tattoos made – and distribute them in the same manner as the stickers.

I realize the ideas are endless. All I need to do is turn up the faucet from a trickle to a strong flow.


Read the FIRST 5 Chapters of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.


LAURA ORSINI is an author and self-publishing consultant who works with other authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.

Fiction and nonfiction partners

Fiction and nonfiction partners


Sometimes it takes a sledgehammer to get a message across. As long as I’ve been working on my novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, and as many marketing ideas as I’ve come up with, I don’t think I ever really saw the huge potential for this book until I sat down and wrote out these posts in answer to the prompts I created for all of the authors taking part in the 2016 NO EXCUSES 3-Week Author Blog Challenge. It’s one thing to create clever questions, but another entirely to answer them like a working author who is actively engaged in a practical book marketing campaign.

So many ideas have presented themselves over these last couple weeks – like approaching high-end indie pet stores and map stores and travel groups and other outlets for some of the primary components in a story about a man who travels around the world with his dog. One thing I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet is that Stan has a developmentally challenged sister. There’s another group who would have a natural interest in partnering if it meant helping them increase awareness and raise funds.

Most recently, though, I’ve met and begun working with a woman named Bee Walker, who is co-authoring a book with her husband, Jim, a dog trainer. You’ll never guess the very specific topic of their book. Traveling with your dog. Seriously. How perfect a partnership would that be – one novel and one nonfiction book on the same topic?


Of course, I’m a little nervous about having her read my story – because while Isis is generally well-behaved, she has a few episodes that help bring levity and advance the plot of the book. Will Bee tell me that a well-trained dog would never do that? Then again, maybe those places would be great teaching moments for Bee and Jim. So anyway, I haven’t approached Bee about this yet, but I suspect she will be all paws on board!


Read the FIRST 5 Chapters of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.


LAURA ORSINI is an author and self-publishing consultant who works with other authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.

Jingling all the way to the bank

Jingling all the way to the bank

According to that all-reliable, oft-cited reference behemoth, Wikipedia, a jingle is a short song or tune used in advertising and for other commercial uses. The jingle contains one or more hooks and meaning that explicitly promote the product or service being advertised, usually through the use of one or more advertising slogans.”


Most people probably wouldn’t think about creating a jingle to promote their books, but why not?

I have the benefit of being married to a very talented musician who has been dabbling in songwriting in recent days. He’s still reading a draft of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, but has promised to help me fine-tune the lyrics I came up with for my song about the book. It’s too long to be a jingle, but it does rhyme, after a fashion, and with the right music, could become a useful marketing tool.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Hitting the road – just Isis and me
Cute as can be, she’s my JRT
We drive, we fly, we train, we plane
We sneak her onboard – it’s fiction, so we can!

Eighteen months, around the globe we go
Meeting countless cool people
And some you wouldn’t want to know
We make it home safely – both to and fro
But along the way, we thrive and we grow.

Just as a quick disclaimer: I do realize it should be “Isis and I,” but I was lazy with the rhyming and that part may yet get rewritten. For now, though, I’m going to turn off the always-editing side of my brain and go with the wrong pronoun.

Please let me know what you think in the Comments section below – and if you have a suggestion, I’m wide open!

Happy jingling!


Read the FIRST 5 Chapters of Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.


LAURA ORSINI is an author and self-publishing consultant who works with other authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.