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My Next Big Thing

December 17, 2012
Minnesota Nice by Jennifer Brown, Minnesota Nice independent best selling book by Jennifer Brown, best sellers by bloggers, bloggers with best sellers

I’m happy to be participating in a blog hop called, “My Next Big Thing.” I was tagged by fellow blogger and writer, June O’Hara of the Nuerosis Files, and asked to answer ten questions about my most recent writing project. Here are my responses:     

Where did the idea for your book or project come from?

From my family. My book is a humorous and heartbreaking memoir about growing up with a closeted gay dad, a physically and mentally handicapped mom and a Republican brother.

What is the working title of your book?

Minnesota Nice

What genre does it fall under?

It’s a memoir.

If applicable, who would you choose to play the characters in a movie?

Emma Stone would be my choice for the older years. The story takes place between the ages of 9 – 22. As for the younger years I have no idea. If you have any ideas please let me know.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your manuscript or project?

MINNESOTA NICE is a humorous and heartbreaking memoir set in the 1970s and 80s about Jennifer Brown’s struggle to grow up in Crocus Hill while trying to fit in. While caring for her disabled mom she learns her dad is gay. Enter the 800-pound gorilla, stage left. (Wearing a pair of jeans from the Husky section at Sears, no less.)

Sorry, that was three sentences.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m leaning toward self publishing but am also in talks with a couple of agents and publishers. I want to retain control and self publishing seems like the best way to do that. I could write a whole post on this subject, lots to think about.

How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

5 years.

What other book would you compare this story to within the genre?

Running with Scissors by Augustan Burroughs.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Laura Ingalls Wilder. Since I read her book in third grade I have been writing my book in my head. I didn’t have a story back then but given a little time and a lot of crazy the story wrote itself. Everyone I have ever met has suggested I tell my story.

What else about the book or story might pique the reader’s interest?

Everyone has a story and a lot of people have a crazy story. This is one of those unbelievable stories that just had to be written. Just when you think the characters have seen it all something else happens to up the ante of bizarre and unbelievable. So far most people who have read it can’t understand how I am still mostly sane.

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Writing

Creating a Bestseller

October 22, 2012

I’m glad I didn’t see this infographic on successful books before I started writing. It’s nice to see the stats of what sells when it comes to books but I don’t think a book should be written because it will sell. A book should be written because it needs to be written. The story needs to be told. If it’s a good story the audience will find it even if they didn’t know they wanted to read about it.

I used to own a bookstore during the rise of the big box bookstores. Ironically the same big box stores that are struggling to stay relevant in the age of Kindle, iPad and Nook. Back then, when the big box stores were putting shops like me out of business they ruled the shelves. As a small store owner I couldn’t take a chance on an independent or new author. I had to stock Grisham and Patterson and all the guys who had no trouble selling a book. With digital publishing widely available and easy to use more and more indie authors have a chance to be read.

The DNA of a Successful Book

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Dancing Skeletons Writing

Minnesota Nice

October 19, 2012
Minnesota Nice by Jennifer Brown, Minnesota Nice independent best selling book by Jennifer Brown, best sellers by bloggers, bloggers with best sellers

After at least 15 bazillion titles I have finally settled on Minnesota Nice as the title of my memoir. According to Wikipedia Minnesota Nice is:

the stereotypical behavior of people born and raised in Minnesota, to be courteous, reserved, and mild-mannered. The cultural characteristics of Minnesota nice include a polite friendliness, an aversion to confrontation, a tendency toward understatement, a disinclination to make a fuss or stand out, emotional restraint, and self-deprecation. It can also refer to traffic behavior, such as slowing down to allow another driver to enter a lane in front of the other person. Critics have pointed out negative qualities, such as passive aggressiveness and resistance to change.

Although the term is generally considered to be Americentric in nature, some traits typical of this stereotype are also generally applied to neighboring Canadians.

I’ve been told they are going to change the title. They being the publishers that will eventually publish my book.

Originally I was going to self publish, and I’m still leaning that way. I like having the control over the title, cover, and most importantly the money. On the other hand having my book published traditionally puts it in front of people it might never have been. I have a large reach. I’ve been blogging forever in internet years and know how to get the word out. But, I know that a traditional publisher, and their marketing department, can do so much more than I could on my own.

Still, I like having the control.

So here’s where things stand. The manuscript is currently in the hands of one publisher and five agents.

Which means I wait.

In the mean time I’ve set up a Facebook page for the book and would love it if you could like it. I will be posting the publishing experience over there as well as adding resources for other people who are writing their book.

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Writing WTF?

What Makes a Bestseller?

September 25, 2012

As some of you know I’ve been working on a book for the past forever. I’m nearly finished. I know, I keep saying that but that’s only because my editor keeps telling me that. In reality she is in the pool teaching me how to swim and she is standing their with her arms outstretched saying “just a little bit more, just a little bit more” all the while backing up so that even though I have gone a little bit more she is still just as far away as when I started. Thanks, Kelly.

I’ve got a list of tasks, from said editor, the length of my arm that I need to tackle but I got to thinking, after a discussion about Moby Dick and what a long boring book that was, what makes a best seller?

Moby Dick is certainly a best seller and some people might even think it’s great but I bet if it was published today it wouldn’t make a dent on the best seller list.

Why is that?

I was browsing for books the other day and stumbled across Shades of Gray. I can’t bring myself to buy it because I have no desire to read it. It’s fan fiction about the characters from Twilight, another book I couldn’t bring myself to read. Both of these series of books are best sellers. Huge best sellers. And yet no one is calling them classics like Moby Dick.

At least I don’t think they are.

Remember Flowers in the Attic? Remember when everyone was reading it and you couldn’t wait to get your hands on it? The story was silly and ghastly and so wrong. The writing was ok, I think, but it was word of mouth about the story that sold the book. It helped that if your parents knew what it was about they would have taken it away. Remember when you found out that the later books in the series weren’t actually written by Ms. Andrews? For me it was no different than learning that Carolyn Keene was really just a bunch of people, possibly those famous monkeys at typewriters, banging out mystery after mystery.

I loved the books but once I knew the secret I couldn’t read them again. They hired a ghostwriter because the books were such a success and they didn’t want that money train to end.

My daughter is reading To Kill A Mockingbird right now. She is probably too young for it but she picked it out of the book case when she needed something to read and got hooked. That, to me, is a best seller and a classic.

It’s better than Captain Underpants, another best seller.

So, what do you  think makes a best seller? Is it readability, flat out numbers of copies sold or it’s effect on society? What best sellers do you recommend and which ones do you refuse purchase?

 

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People Pets Writing

Writing is Hard

July 30, 2012
Ruby the puppy, black lab puppy, black lab boxer mix puppy, rescue puppy

So how has your summer been going?

I haven’t been around much these past few months. Some of you may know I am writing a book, a memoir, about growing up in a pretty strange environment. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, a long while since it seems I never update anymore and therefore you wouldn’t have a clue what I am talking about if you just stumbled here and never checked out my archives and why would you because you don’t know what this blog is about because it’s more like a ghost town than an active blog.

I need to catch my breath.

Anyway, for those of you who don’t know, I am writing a memoir about growing up with a gay, closeted dad, a mentally and physically handicapped mom and a Republican brother. Talk about shit that will mess you up!

Did I mention it was a humorous memoir? I do a lot of name dropping because I know people. Garrison Keillor is in my book as is Nick Swardson. Just think, you don’t even need Kevin Bacon to tie those two together if you know me.

Other than that it’s been a typical summer. Kids are driving me C.R.A.Z.Y!!!

Oh, and we got a puppy.

Because, you know, it’s not chaotic enough around here.

 

 

Send Jen on a Vacation Writing

Biting The Hand That Feeds Me

June 6, 2012

I’ve been blogging for almost five years. When I first started blogging I spent all day reading other blogs, clicking on little yellow boxes and even writing a post here and there. I met a great group of people and really enjoyed reading what they had to say. Commenting was the best part of blogging in the early days because it was a way to connect with people. The comments were often the best part of the blog posts.

For the last year or so I haven’t blogged (personally) with the same gusto I did in those first couple of years. I suppose like anything the novelty wears off and what was once fun, bordering on obsessive turns into a bit of a chore.

Life takes over.

Part of my problem is that writing is what I do to pay the bills. It’s my 9-5 job and while I do love it and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, I don’t want to do it on my off time. Besides, there are other things to do besides write. I have to go out into the real world and buy groceries, pick up kids from school and even see a movie sometimes.

While I write fun stuff on this blog in my other writing I write stuff that isn’t so much fun. Finding a way to work the word reputation into a blog post isn’t the hardest work but it isn’t always the easiest thing to do either. Sometimes I do it better than others. This isn’t one of them.

Facebook ruined blogging for me. Maybe not entirely but I have to admit I would like to unplug for a couple of weeks but fear I can’t. The world we live in moves at the speed of the internet and what has take five years to build could be gone in those two weeks. Adding Facebook to the mix knocked me over the edge. I love reading blogs and connecting with people I will never meet in real life but I don’t care what they ate for lunch. Don’t even get me started on Twitter.

So how do you feel about blogging after all these years? Do you love Facebook and other social networks or would you prefer to going back to talking to your neighbor over the fence?

 

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Dumb Shit I Do Writing

Just Phoning it in

April 24, 2012
phones

phones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does it seem as if I have been just phoning it in lately? It does to me. If I haven’t had a guest post or a sponsored post I don’t think I would have time to write at all.

I haven’t lost my writing mojo, I’ve just been using it elsewhere so by the time it comes around to this old blog I don’t have much left to give. Reminds me of some bad relationships.

I’m not going away but I am finishing a project that will keep me from writing here for just a bit longer. I hope you can bear with me or hang in there with me for a while longer.

I do have things I want to write about:

  • That chick from Shake It Up who really needs to eat
  • Walmart and Mexico
  • The 2012 Campaign (I have so much to say about that)
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits (it sucked but my daughter loved it)

and all kinds of other important topics that I just don’t have the time to delve into right now.

But I will, soon, I promise.

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Events Things I Really Like Writing

Free Kindle Book by Minnesota Mystery Writer Mike Faricy: Chow for Now

February 17, 2012

Chow for Now by Mike Faricy, newest mystery by Mike Faricy, Minnesota Mystery writerWant to discover a great new mystery writer from MN? Then be sure to download Chow For Now Free Kindle Book: Chow for Now by Mike Faricy by Mike Faricy. Not only is the book an incredibly fun read but it’s free this weekend only.

Mike is a local Minnesota author. Minnesota is home to many varied writers, some of the more notable writers from Minnesota who have had success are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Garrison Keillor and John Sandford (John Camp). While I have met all of these writers, except for F. Scott (though I have met his dead wife Zelda who haunted the house across from mine…go ahead and ask me about that), I actually know Mike and we are planning coffee when he returns from Ireland. TMI? Probably. Mike writes these quirky mysteries set in the neighborhood I grew up in, not unlike John Sandford Free Kindle Book: Chow for Now by Mike Faricy. Mike’s books are more fun to read because he captures the absurd aspect of Minnesota characters and he doesn’t dress as well as Mr. Sandford’s characters. Mike has probably been served lutefisk at a family gathering, though I doubt he would have actually eaten it. Eww.

Mike is only offering his latest book (and he has many) for free this weekend so be sure to visit Amazon to get your copy. You can also purchase it from the app. If you don’t have a Kindle you can still read the book on your computer or on your mobile device, all you need to do is download the Kindle app.

 

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Blogging Things I Really Like Writing

I Almost Slept With Anthony Weiner While Reading Sticky Readers

June 17, 2011

I almost slept with Anthony Weiner while I was listening to Casey Anthony confess that she killed Caylee.

See what I did there? I hooked you in. Now you want to know all the details of how I almost slept with Anthony Weiner and you are just dying to know how I got the scoop on Casey Anthony’s confession that she murdered her daughter.

I learned how to do that by reading Margeret Andrews new book Sticky Readers: How to Attract a Loyal Blog Audience by Writing More Better.

Of course I didn’t actually almost sleep with Anthony Weiner, he’s a Liberal and I am not,  and we all know Casey Anthony didn’t kill Caylee.

Margaret says you have to grab your readers with a hook (chapter 1). She says you don’t want to bore your readers with posts about going to the grocery store or cleaning the toilets, which sadly is half my blog posts.

In addition to utilizing the tips in chapter 1 I also learned from Chapter 3: Get Personal; Chapter 5: Include a Universal Topic or Theme; and Chapter 6: Choose a Debatable or Controversial Topic. I did all those things in my first sentence because I read Margaret’s book.

Sure I skipped over Chapter 2 Details, Details, Details (Be Specific), but you don’t really want anymore details about Anthony Weiner’s weiner, so you’re welcome.

Already I’m writing more better.

Seriously, Margaret’s new book Sticky Readers: How to Attract a Loyal Blog Audience by Writing More Better, is a must read for bloggers and writers everywhere. Even if you are already a Pulitzer prize winner you need Margaret’s book. In fact if you are a Pulitzer Prize winner you probably need it more than anyone because Margaret has included a chapter about writing funny and we all know anyone who writes a Pulitzer Prize winning book is not funny.

This isn’t one of those books that tells you how to become the next internet guru, Margaret doesn’t tell you how you can make gobs of cash with Google Adwords, she doesn’t make promises she can’t keep. She does tell you what is wrong with your blog and how you can fix it. And she does it all while entertaining the reader. I get a lot of books to review (I paid for this book myself so this is not a paid review) and most of the time they are boring. So boring I can’t get through them. Not Sticky Readers: How to Attract a Loyal Blog Audience by Writing More Better, I couldn’t put my iPad down last night. It is that good.

If you want to write more better get Margaret’s book, right now, and read it. You can get it at Amazon and download it to any device using Kindle.

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Blogging Things that piss me off Writing

Unpaid Writers Suing The Huffington Post

April 12, 2011

Huffington Post Sued by Bloggers, Ariana Huffington, AOL, writers file suit against AOL and The Huffington PostI was all set to talk about silly songs that are stuck in my head lately but then this story jumped out at me.

Apparently a blogger and a union activist are suing AOL and The Huffington Post for $100 million because they didn’t pay their freelance writers.

I’ve talked about this on several occasions and firmly believe that these writers who give away their talent, time and skill have hurt all of us who write for a living, however the Huffington Post never held a gun to these freelance writers heads. They, the Huffington Post, allowed these dumbass writers a platform that would get all kinds of exposure on the internet which would surely follow the writer back to their blogs thus increasing their traffic.

“Our bloggers utilize our platform to connect and ensure that their ideas and views are seen by as many people as possible,” spokesman Mario Ruiz said. “It’s the same reason hundreds of people go on TV shows to broadcast their views to as wide an audience as possible.”

It never works out that way. The traffic never follows them back.

I’m sure this will be dismissed, as it should be. I’m no fan of The Huffington Post but they didn’t do anything wrong. If a writer chooses to give away their talent then so be it, there is no law against it. The Huffington Post didn’t steal the content, it was written for them freely. I do think it is a little ironic that a very left leaning internet website would act in such a capitalistic manner.

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