Deprecated: Function create_function() is deprecated in /home/customer/www/ on line 10
Uncategorized – Page 2 – Darby Rae

Real Beauty…Wednesday October 26th…1:00-7:00

What do you think of when you hear of an event called Gorgeous Gals!  I’ll tell you what I thought when my publicist said she signed me up to participate in it.  I thought it sounded self-centered.  I wondered why anyone would want to come to an event where the vendors thought of themselves as “gorgeous gals?”  How tacky.  Well, it wasn’t at all what I thought.  Take a look:

Gorgeous Gals! is a Celebration of Indiana Women coming together to support the courageous Gorgeous Gals who are fighting cancer.  The proceeds of this event go to Hello Gorgeous, a nonprofit organization that provides complimentary make-overs for women battling cancer.  What will this celebration include?

  • Shopping of course! Over 65 unique vendors selling everything a woman could want.
  • A Strolling Fashion Show where cancer survivors feature fashion from area Boutiques & Designers.
  • Happy Hour Celebration from 4:30-6:30 with a cash bar.
  • Door prizes.
  • A Hello Gorgeous surprise makeover & reveal for a Nominated Cancer Survivor.
  • A Wall of Honor for all cancer survivors and fighters.
  • A Wall of Remembrance for those who lost their courageous battle.
  • All Cancer Survivor Attendees will be honored.


Gorgeous Gals! A Celebration of Indiana Women!

Cost:  $5.00

When: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Where: Forum Conference Center 11313 USA Parkway  Fishers, IN 46038

Why:  Because Hoosier women are Gorgeous–from the inside out!  Join our celebration.


Sponsored by Affiliated Women International

Benefiting Hello Gorgeous of Indiana “Gifting a Life Lift to Women Surviving Cancer”


In the 68 fiction novels I’ve read this year, most of them contained a thread of romance.  Some of the romantic scenes were funny, some wildly passionate, some horribly awkward or just plain bad and unnecessary to the story. So what makes a good love scene? And why do some enhance a story while others leave you wondering,  what was the point of that?

, Romantic Suspense novelist of Killing Bliss, Over Her Dead Body (both I have read) and many others (I look forward to reading) give sound advice for writing romantic scenes. Here’s what she says…

“The steamy sex scene isn’t the exclusive territory of the romance novelist. Writers from many genres think about including sex scenes in their stories, either because they want to write one or because they feel somewhat compelled to. Sex sells, the writer hears, and we do want to sell our stories.  What writers don’t want is to win the Bad Sex of the Year trophy. So here’s some helpful thoughts, writer warriors. (Oh, hell, let’s call them rules. That way we can have fun breaking them.)

  1. You never, ever have to write a sex scene. It’s a choice. Like climbing Mt. Everest.
  2. If you do write a sex scene, never, ever write one that takes you beyond your personal comfort level. You’ll know when you’re doing it, your story will show it, and your reader will know it.
  3. (My personal favorite!) It is a far, far better thing you do—not to write a love scene at all than to write an egregiously bad one.

“We all know a reader is lulled by tone—it’s like music playing in the background. Tone is a form of continuity and it sets up expectations. So if you jump from light and frothy to down and dirty, your sex scene will jar the reader. The reverse is also true. Stay true to your music.”

Read the full blog


Behave Famously


In September I attended a meeting with business owners to share best practices.  The session that I loved began with the speaker announcing, “I want to be famous, so I behave famously.”  Then he began to ask us questions like, “Do famous people do interviews while they are becoming famous—or only after they are famous?  Do famous people do speaking engagements while they are becoming famous—or only after they become famous?  Do famous people write articles, do videos, appear on television while they are becoming famous—or only after they are famous?”

This was an ah-ha moment for most of us in the room.  One of those times when you hear something so basic, it’s brilliant!  Famous people have certain activities or behaviors they do that help make them famous.  They don’t become famous and all of a sudden begin doing them, duh.

Here are some ideas for behaving famously:

  1. Schedule book signings.  If you are only contacting local bookstores to hold your book signing, think again.  Is there a local coffee shop, non-profit event, fashion show or book fair you can attend?  I’ve done several events this year, even one at my chiropractor’s customer appreciation event.  I sold a bunch of books, received exposure to his clientele, and had an adjustment done on my aching body.
  2. Offer to speak at a function for free if you can sell your books before and after the event.  Eighty percent of the population want to write a book.  If you’ve published one, you likely have wisdom to share…even if it’s a list of “Don’ts.”
  3. Give stuff away.  Anytime I’m contacted to donate a copy of my book to use in a fundraiser, I say yes and always will.  (Note: I wouldn’t support ‘Cash for Satan’s Children’ or a ‘Do Drugs—They’re Fun!’ Event, but so far nobody like that has asked.)  Look for opportunities to give back.
  4. Get on television!  It certainly takes more than a phone call to David Letterman to get on his show, but there is plenty of local air time available.  If you are intimidated by feeling not good enough for even local programming, watch some.  I promise you will feel better.  For some inspiration, tune into WISH-TV on Sunday morning, October 16th at 7AM to catch me speaking about the Gorgeous Gals event happening on October 26th.  Besides, if David does call, wouldn’t it be nice to have some experience appearing on television before you’re a guest of his?
  5. Tape a dozen short videos and post them on YouTube.  Then put them on your Facebook page, tweet about them, and put them on your website with links to them in your blog.  Think that’s a dumb idea?  Google James Patterson and see how many videos he has.  I stopped scrolling forward at page 55.  He earned $70 million this year.

To date I don’t have any video, but I am working on it.  I tried to record a 20 second video with my 12 year old as the camera man.  After more than two dozen takes, I had to start bribing him for each subsequent take.  It shouldn’t be that hard, but he kept cracking me up by directing through pantomime and exaggerated arm movements.  I’ll give it another shot soon.  If you have a video, feel free to post it in the comments section.  I’d love to see what others are doing to behave famously!

Business Owner Challenges

Being an author, means being a business owner. Lynn Zettler of LifeAction Coaching, Inc. shares business owner challenges:

“My biggest challenge came very quickly in learning what activities were worthwhile and which activities were not. When you are first starting out you feel like you need to do everything or you will miss an opportunity. However, very quickly you see that you could fill your whole day with networking meetings and not have any time left to actually do any paid work! One way to do that is to get very clear about defining your perfect client and mission critical activities. You have to make some choices and you need to learn to say no to a lot of things. It’s a real learning process.”

As a coach, any advice for someone wanting to start their own business?  “First, get very clear on your customers and mission critical activities. If you are a new business owner who is still wearing all of the hats, don’t be afraid to get creative with your delegation or outsourcing. Would it really cost you that much to have a virtual assistant, bookkeeper or publicist who will free up time for you to focus more on sales? Many times we focus more on the cost than on the benefit, and in reality, the benefit brings exponentially more value.”

 Link to read the rest

Beyond Balancing your Check Book

All businesses have three major functioning areas: Operations/Production, Marketing/Sales, and Finance/Legal. The industry and specialization will dictate how large each department is and how it is structured. Even if an area is outsourced, it still exists. Traditional publishing carries the weight of several areas, but as self-published authors, we have to do it all or spend money to have it done.

As with many creative artists, writers typically don’t have a business background and therefore ignore some of the most basic financial business practices. Making money is only half the battle. Keeping it is the other half.

  1. Set an annual budget. The budget should include costs for research, editing, cover art, production, distribution, finance, legal, marketing, and sales.
  2. Spreadsheet the cost of goods sold, meaning, how much does it cost to produce and ship/deliver each book (title) and type of book. (Hardcover, paperback, e-book)
  3. Know your break-even point. This can be a bit of a moving target depending on your marketing costs, but not knowing puts you on a treadmill of spending.
  4. Create a profit and loss statement (P & L) at the end of each month. If you have someone prepare this for you, review it in a timely manner so you can make adjustments and business decisions from the data.
  5. Understand most businesses lose money their first year, many their first several years, but the old adage you have to spend money to make money is unfortunately true with self-publishing.
  6. Track revenue against costs of special promotions. If you attended a show that costs $500 for travel, registration, promotional material, etc…did you lose money? Did you break even? Did you make money? Did you give attendees a promotional code (usually with a discount) to order so future orders could also be tracked?

This may sound time consuming and complex, but you don’t have to do it all at once. (This is a great task to do when you are avoiding editing if you have already cleaned your entire house! It may also motivate you to finish the next book sooner.) You can hire help to set it all up, so you merely need to input the numbers, but I would suggest learning a little first so you have confidence it is being done correctly.

“Millions of business owners struggle every day in their business because they don’t realize how the financial side of their business impacts growth, borrowing ability, cash flow, ability to raise money and business value (your personal net worth).” Those are the words of Dan Lacy, Founder at Dynasty Business Building. “The root cause of most financial problems in business is due to the lack of financial knowledge.”

If you are in this group (and I was), may I recommend you read Dan’s book, Cracking the Financial Code.  In 2010 I attended a 10 week financial seminar series created and trained by Dan Lacy. This book was part of the material and it is absolutly worth reading. It is easy to read, simple to follow and will give you a foundation to understand the financial side of you business.

If you fail to plan, then plan to fail. Harsh words, but often true. While self-publishing has opened the doors to many more authors, if this is your career, congratulations, you are a business owner.

Redemption…Literary, That is.

When Janet Evanovich named her Stephanie Plum novels Smokin’ Seventeen, To the Nines, or Four to Score, did she reflect…my last title used alliteration, this time I’m using assonance? Did Nora Roberts think, “I need a good hyperbole,” when she wrote, “Panic struck, a knife in the belly,” in The Search?  Or did Harlan Coben ponder ‘simile or metaphor’ when he wrote, “He raises the shovel up and strikes the ground. The blade rips into the earth like it’s wet flesh,” in The Woods?  I think not. Just as Nicholas Sparks did not consider logos, ethos or pathos, before naming his novel The Last Song.

As an author, the tools of my trade are words. Tools I felt fairly skilled in using until it was recently brought to my attention (by a teenage girl who resembles me) that my knowledge of literary terms needs great improvement.

Once my kids entered high school, ‘helping them with homework’ meant bumbling through their text books to re-learn/review formulas, history, definitions, and examples of something I allegedly already learned and should still know. Sometimes I have helped, other times I gave the blank stare of an Alzheimer’s patient. But I’ve justified my faded knowledge saying, “It’s been decades since I used that information.” This typically works…or makes me feel better. Until last week.

My daughter was at home working on Language Arts and called me for some help. (I was driving—no access to The conversation went something like this:

“I need an example of assonance, Mom”

“Can you define assonance? I don’t remember that term.”

“I need one for aphorism too.”

“I don’t remember that term either.”

“What about allusion or anecdote? (Insert condescending tone) Can you give me an example of those?” (Silence) “Mom, you’re an author! You should know these terms.”

“I’m having difficulty hearing you honey…must be a bad…(click).” I knew she was wise to my bad cell reception disengagement tactic, but I had to give my defense some thought.

Have I ever thought, “What this title really needs is an onomatopoeia?” No, I have not. The desired effect is conscious; choice of literary terms is unconscious. (Persuasive opening statement…so I thought on.) Did Mike Wells consciously create tone, theme and assonance in his (highly acclaimed) YA Novel, Wild Child? Probably not, just as E.C. Sheedy likely did not choose personification and foreshadowing before she named her (complex and unpredictable) romantic suspense novel Killing Bliss. Although maybe when George Pappas named his (jaw-dropping) erotica novel Monogamy Sucks, he wanted to create controversy knowing one man’s parody is another man’s hyperbole…or reality. (Terminology is in the eye of the beholder.)

When I arrived home she was working on Algebra, so I lost the opportunity to present my defense.  I did, however, make a copy of her literary terms so I can prepare for my literary redemption.


Never Forget

I’ll never forget September 11th and the months that followed.

I’ll never forget watching in horror as the second plane hit, as people jumped to their death and others ran for their lives.

I’ll never forget the countless heroes that sacrificed their lives to save the wounded and tirelessly fought to find survivors.

I’ll never forget the unity of our nation, the strength of our leaders, and the retaliation toward terrorism.

Tears were shed publicly. Hope was clung to with unyielding fervor. Heartbreak was shown nationally.

I’ll never forget my cousin (not a NY firefighter) went to ground zero to be with my cousin who was a NY firefighter…because that’s what brothers do, he told my uncle.

I’ll never forget the call from my father sharing all our NY family was safe, accounted for and devastated.

I’ll never forget the relief and the guilt that I was not mourning the loss of a loved one when so many had lost…so many.

Family bonds were stronger.  Tolerance was higher.  Life was more precious.

I’ll never forget the grief and horror that came from the tragedy of 9/11. And I’ll never forget all the good that came from that tragedy.

I’ll never forget that my church saw parishioners who had been away for years.  And I’ll never forget we embraced them…and now miss them.

Hugs lasted longer.  Forgiveness was given freer.  Prayers were said more frequently. Love was shown more openly.

While there are countless videos, songs and poems that remind us of the incredible loss we suffered as a nation so we never forget; let us also remember that in the wake of this national catastrophe, our hearts were opened as we mourned for the loss of strangers and prayed for the safety of everyday heroes.

Second Story Syndrome

Choose the best answer from the list below.  Second Story Syndrome is:

  1. Paranoia or psychosis associated with fear of the ‘second story’ of a building.
  2. An irregular story where the ‘secondary’ plot is overdeveloped and overwhelms the primary plot.
  3. Hesitation by a reader to read the ‘second (or any other) story’ written by an author when they dearly loved the first work…for fear it won’t be as good.
  4. A burglar who is obsessed with entering houses by an upstairs window.
  5. The struggle an author endures after his/her first book is successfully launched and he/she struggles to write the ‘second story.’

Guess which one I’m wrestling with?

Seven Deadly Sins of Self-published Authors

The list below contains common editing and marketing mistakes made by self-published authors.  It could also be called “The Biggest Mistakes I Made or Almost Made.”  Self-published authors have the onerous task of writing, editing and marketing their books.  From a business perspective, we are the Production/Operations department, the Sales/Marketing Department and of course the Finance Department.  Few entrepreneurs can bring all that to the table, and as a self-published author, you are most definitely an entrepreneur.

SIN ONE:  Unrealistic expectations of revenue and expenses.

-The cliché it takes money to make money remains true with self-publishing.  The list of expenses you receive from self-publishing companies is a good start.  However, even if it includes some promotional items such as business cards and mailers, there is so much more to promoting your book.  Take a look at my May and August calendar.  Every event costs money, in one way or another…tent, tablecloth, give-aways, marketing to promote the event, new outfit… it all adds up.

SIN TWO:  Editing your own manuscript or having a “friend” do it for you.

-Punctuation issues, grammar errors, tense jumps and POV shifts are distracting to a reader.  You and your mom may think your novel is ready for print, but if you haven’t had it professionally edited, you’re wrong.  I thank my publicist for not letting me make this mistake!

SIN THREE:  Having a lousy website or no website at all.

-For self-published authors, your website is likely the stop your potential readers make before buying your book.  A lousy website is as bad or worse than no website at all.  It is a reflection of you as an artist.  Would you take a fitness class from an out of shape aerobics instructor?  Connect the dots.  If the image on your website isn’t one of a professional writer, get back to the drawing board.  Or better yet, hire a professional.  I’m an author, not a web designer or a marketing guru.  So I hired an expert in Marketing, Collective Alternative, and had them develop a site that would reflect my image and promote my book…and future books.  Visit my website and see how they did.

SIN FOUR:  Winging your book’s marketing and promotion.

-For many authors, marketing is the big black hole because we don’t know what we don’t know.  Should you promote your book using traditional marketing or social media?  What are some easy or inexpensive ways to start?  Consult a writer’s guide, like this one.  Even traditionally published authors are doing a lot of marketing these days.

SIN FIVE:  Spinning your wheels in the Social Media circuit.

-I was the over-achiever in this particular sin until I saw a post that summed up what I was doing wrong, Twelve Twitter Mistakes You Should Avoid.  If you are going to use social media, there is a myriad of information on how to do it right—and how to do it wrong.  Invest a few dollars in doing it right.  I bought Twitter Dummy from the website above and went from 22 followers to almost 200 in less than two weeks.

SIN SIX:  Information overload.

-When you are asked about your book, do you oblige by giving the never-ending answer leaving your listener with bleeding ears and no desire to ask a follow-up question?  Consider consulting The “Secret” Formula for Creating a Short Synopsis for Your Book by Mike Wells.

SIN SEVEN:  Not enough time or energy left to promote your book once it is completed.

-Have a plan.  Gain some knowledge.  Be prepared to invest time, energy and finances in the success of your book.  If you are waiting around to be discovered, it will be a long wait.

Twitter is for Twerps

I’m not interested in up to date Tweets regarding where people are eating lunch or who was mad at their friend…and why…nor do I believe anyone would want to know the same about me.  But my agent insisted I be a part of Twitter.  (She reminds me occasionally, I’ve hired her to tell me what to do).  So she set up my account and said, “Tweet.”

Well, perhaps she gave more helpful instructions—and perhaps I wasn’t wearing my listening ears.  So after a couple months of scattered unproductive tweeting—mostly posting links to my blogs and upcoming appearances—I was ready for a change.  As luck would have it, the perfect Tweet appeared!  (One thing I did right was follow some great people.)  Admittedly, I was guilty of a half of these mistakes, but my number one issue: lack of clarity.

John states in his intro, “…That’s why you need to have your end goal in mind…(to) stay focused and on point and not get sucked into wasting unproductive hours on Twitter.”  His words were spot on.  Twitter is about relationships: give-and-take.  You have to decide (1) What you want to know (2) Who you want to know it from (3) What you want to share (4) and Who you wish to share it with.

Once I clarified my goals, it was time to learn the ‘how.’  Unwilling to waste time (again) figuring it out, I sought more expert advice from John Aguiar (  His guide teaches everything from setting up your Twitter account, to finding followers, to making money with Twitter.  I’m 1/3 through it, and it’s awesome!

Twitter is for Twerps.  That’s what I used to think before I had direct access to industry gurus…and before people I never knew began to follow me.