How I Chose My Author Brand

Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

When a writer starts attending conferences because, dear Lord you think you want to be published she hears “you need a brand.” What the heck does that mean? I couldn’t figure it out for years. How could I sell myself as something, especially if I wasn’t published yet.

The experts say, what makes you unique? I’m not an expert in anything. I don’t have a fancy degree in rocket science. In fact, I hated science in school and in college took classes like Writing A Review (we went to the movies!) and Film Form and Analysis, Theater Appreciation, Public Speaking (easy A for me) and stuff like that. I don’t have a strange hobby that I partake in like sword fighting or shark diving. Being the rocket scientist shark diver author was out of the question. Now what?

The first books I published were geared for the middle grade crowd about magical places with talking animals, and three teens running for their lives. Okay, my log line became “Where Fantasy and Adventure Collide.” Until a guy at a bar in New York City pointed out that line sounded like porn. Thanks, dude.

Let me back up a little. When I decided to take my writing seriously for the first time in my life, the book I wrote was a women’s fiction novel about a woman with a secret. I couldn’t get any traction with that one so I wrote another women’s fiction about a family whose child has a serious heart condition. (I think I had read one too many Jodi Picoult books at that point.) After that I wrote a romantic suspense with dead bodies, and ghosts. My heart was in the adult market.

Instead, I published those middle grade books for reasons we’ll discuss another time. I didn’t know what my brand was. Then I wrote A Second Chance House. And my brand hit me between the eyes. (Pardon the cliche. My writer’s slip is showing.)

me and angel
At a school visit in 2015. Mrs. R is one awesome teacher. That’s book one in the middle grade series. The cover came out cool. 

The thing all my characters have in common across every one of those books is a dysfunctional family.  In the middle grade books, Gabriel our hero, has two very messed up parents. In A Second Chance House, Grace has a father she never knew. They both are searching for a family to belong to because we can’t pick our parents. As I wrote the second book in the women’s fiction series (the Heritage River series), A Bridge Home, my heroine Harley, was dumped on the doorstep of her aunt and uncle because her mother didn’t want her.

I knew what my brand was without doubt. Family. Home. Second Chances. My log line changed to Family are the people who love you when you need them. You don’t have to be born to that family. Sometimes we pick them up along the way. (Please tell me that doesn’t sound like porn!)

I’m an expert in weird families. I’d rather be a concert pianist playing at Lincoln Center, and maybe some day I will be, but for now, it’s weird families. Lucky me.

I’m still not completely comfortable branding myself. (Makes me think of cattle and a hot branding iron.) Publishers used to need to know what shelf to stick a book on, so it made sense to know where you fit in, but now the shelves are disappearing, and with the aid of technology I can add keywords to my books that are specific to that book. This way, when someone searches, women’s fiction, home, family, second chances, sexy washed up rock star drummer, my books will come up. Do I really need to tattoo myself with a hot branding iron that will leave a scar? That sounds painful, no?

How would you describe yourself if you needed a brand? Maybe you have a brand already. Tell us how you decided to label yourself?

A Second Chance House is available for pre-order in digital format. The print version will become available March 7th from all major online retailers, and here on the website.

I’m hosting a Facebook party on March 7th from 7 – 9 pm in honor of the release. There will be games and prizes.

And since music is so important to me and my hero, Blaise Savage, I’m having a book launch concert at Patrick’s Pub, Neptune, NJ, March 28th 7 pm. I’ll be signing books and doing a reading. And right along side me will be fantastic bands playing awesome music. (I won’t be singing. Don’t worry.)





Sometimes We Find Family Along The Way

DPhiE Reunion Large group
Delta Phi Epsilon sorority Delta Omega chapter at Monmouth University. The entire group in attendance at the recent reunion.

Family are the people who love you when you need them whether you’re born to them or pick them up along the way. That is the heart of all my books whether it’s my middle-grade series or my women’s fiction series.

Last week I spent some time with my sorority sisters. My sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, celebrated its 100th year anniversary and my college’s chapter, Delta Omega at Monmouth University, held an event for all sisters current and alumni. Because when you become a D Phi E sister, it’s for life.

I was a commuter student when I went to Monmouth. There are some great things about being a commuter, but it’s hard to make friends if you don’t get involved with something. As a Freshman, I kept to myself mostly. I’m an outgoing introvert (a personality trait that quarrels with itself often) so I needed some friends and fast. I’d already known a couple of the girls in the sorority and a friend at the time encouraged me to pledge. I’m so glad I did.

D Phi E reunion Just Us
These are some of the special ladies I went to school with. I love them all. 

I met the Coffee King because of that sorority. And I made some fantastic friends. Here’s what’s so great about the girls I went to school with, years can go by and we won’t see each other or talk outside of Facebook, but all it takes is to be in the same room with them and it’s like no time has gone by at all. I walked into that event and saw women I haven’t seen in 25 years. The hugs were fierce and the tears were real. That’s friendship. That’s sisterhood.

I’ve been asked often how could I have joined a sorority. (I don’t adhere to conformity well) but my sorority wasn’t like that. Our motto translated is “To be rather than to seem to be.” We believed in everyone being an individual. There was plenty of room for all personality types. Those girls accepted me for who I was and still am. They let me be me and I let them be them.

Those girls were strangers to me all those years ago. It was scary at that first pledge class meeting with nine other girls I didn’t know, but was about to be thrown together with twenty-four hours a day for six weeks. We had to learn to get along, learn to work together, learn to respect each other and we did it. That doesn’t mean we didn’t fight, because you always fight with family. We had a lot of fun together too. Mostly, it was fun. (I’d tell you some stories, but then you’d need to go into the Witness Protection Program.)

My sisters are there for me whenever I need them. I don’t even have to ask. They only have to hear that one of us is in trouble, sick, or celebrating and they are right there beside you holding your hand or cheering you on too. (Who else would help you bury the bodies??) When my first book came out my sisters applauded the loudest. I am eternally grateful for that. (Ladies, I’ll need you again soon. Stay tuned. wink wink)


D Phi E reunion My Family
My family tree. My Grand-Big Sister, Big Sister, and Little Sister. 

These amazing women are my family. The family I picked up along the way. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


We did it! We solved the cover image issue and now for your reading pleasure, book two in the Gabriel Hunter series, drum roll please….

Welcome To Bibliotheca is available in print as well as for your Kindle. Thank you for your continued support. Enjoy the adventure!

Book Two in the Gabriel Hunter Series
Book Two in the Gabriel Hunter Series

What’s In a Name? / Another Good Reads Giveaway

This past weekend we were at my mother’s to celebrate my niece’s birthday. It was an Italian event in full force complete with my mother’s scrapbook. She’s been keeping a photo diary of our ancestors right through the birth of her grandchildren. It will be a nice keepsake some day. As long as you can get past the names.

As we were pointing out our ancestors and explaining family history to the younger generation something occurred to me. What the heck were my relatives thinking when they named their children? My great-grandfather’s brother was Sebastian. Okay, you may be saying, what’s wrong with that? Nothing. But it’s what they called him. His family couldn’t leave things well enough alone. They scarred this poor guy forever. Because he’s always been referred to as Uncle Saduti (I’m not even sure I spelled that right!) His name would be pronounced as  Sa Do Tee with the accent on the second syllable. This guy died before I was born and he’s going down in history as Sa Do Tee. Really?

This is Uncle Saduti and those sexy legs belong to Aunt Treesa.
This is Uncle Saduti and those sexy legs belong to Aunt Treesa.

Then there’s cousin To-To. Pronounced Doe Doe. No, he’s not a female deer. We have an Itulo. Pronounced Eee too Low.  Maybe he was short? Can’t forget Cheech. Thankfully, there’s no Chong. I have a cousin Cino Seeno. His real name is Vincenzo. I would’ve voted to be called that instead. I spent my whole life wondering why my Aunt Treesa wasn’t Theresa. But she was!! We just called her Treesa instead. My family obviously has issues making their blended sounds. And here’s a real kicker. Aunt Treesa had a first husband, like 60 years ago, and everyone left living can’t remember his name. The poor guy died in a mental hospital probably because no one knew who he was or where to find him.

Don’t be like my family. Choose wisely when picking a name or a nickname for your children. It will last for generations and end up in a scrapbook. You know, now that I’m thinking about it, these crazy names would make great names for some of the magical characters in my books because no real person is called Saduti.


On a different note: I’m holding another Good Reads Giveaway for Welcome to Kata-Tartaroo. You have until February 20, 2014 to enter. 5 signed copies will be given away to the lucky winners. Good luck and happy reading!

For Sale: 3 Kids, A bunch of Animals and a Few Odds and Ends

I have wanted to be a writer since I was 7. I wrote my first novel when I was 12.  I got sidetracked from this goal after high shcool, but nine years ago I decided to get serious. I learned my craft, joined writer’s groups, wrote three other novels before Welcome To Kata-Tartaroo. I cried a river of tears and laughed a million miles with some of the most amazing people I’ve been blessed to have support me and my dreams.  I thank you all!

And now if you will allow me a moment of self-indulgence, drum roll please,  my first middle grade fantasy adventure novel is now for sale!

Welcome To Kata-Tartaroo, a book about a 13 year-old Lesser boy who lands in the scariest place imaginable has 24 hours to collect 3 mystical objects or he and his Moor friends will be lost forever, can be downloaded for Nook and Kindle.  It can also be purchased in print at Amazon and under the book tab of this website at the CreateSpace eStore.

It’s a dream come true. So, thank you for letting me share my news with you. And if you’re looking to buy three kids…