Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Are you a big wheel?

Work-Life Balance Series

Picture an auto tire mounted on a fancy wheel with golden spokes. Notice how the spokes crisscross each other. The spokes are gold, the tire is black. The overall effect is of an upscale wheel fit for a driver who appreciates the finer things. People who drive cars with spoked wheels can afford anything they want.

Look at the spokes carefully. See how they crisscross? On the job, your team crisscrosses like this when they share responsibilities. When your team works in harmony like this, it’s a beautiful sight to behold. When your team fails to act together, the results won’t hold air and your project will go flub... flub... flub down the road until it comes to a halt. The team achieves nothing.

Be careful how your work team crisscrosses its roles. The person who is best at a certain task should be the one who performs that task. It’s okay to crisscross roles on occasion but don’t overdo it. Switch roles to help each other carry their burdens.

Now, a product that looks like a high-priced wheel is fit for the carriage set. Price such a product high because they are willing to pay. You might not sell as many of these products, but your financial return on each one will be great. Which of your products is the high price one with the crisscrossed golden spokes? How much do you want to charge for it? It’s okay to be outrageous with the pricing of one of your products. It will make the others seem a better buy and you will sell more of those.

Do you want to give one product away? Double the price of another to earn back the money you lose through the giveaway. The other products are to be priced progressively in-between.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Where to find story ideas worthy of your writing time

What do you like to write about? As the brand statement in my banner above states, I focus on writing "Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.” I also write nonfiction on assignment from companies and individuals, especially those who want to publish or self-publish their own business books. But fiction is what I love to write because, at heart, I’m a story teller. The “monsters and strangers” bit comes from something that happens almost every time I create a story. A monster shows up or a weird person pops in who definitely fits the definition of “stranger” that your mother warned you to stay away from.

There’s an old song with the line “Love is Strange” recorded by Mickey & Sylvia. The title is especially true when the lovers in a tale include at least one strange person or monster.

I enjoy spinning yarns about lovers in the moonlight, but don’t be surprised if one of my lovers grows a long snout, sharp fangs and lots of hair when the moon is full.

So where do my strange story ideas come from? Sometimes I begin with a single sentence that pops into my mind or when I have a young man in mind who is about to meet the girl. As I wander down the page with the keys clicking like crazy, something happens in chapter 4 or 5 or 6 when a monster or stranger shows up. I dump the first 4 or 5 or 6 chapters and begin with the stranger. Why? Strangers are interesting. Lovers only so-so. I have to admit that as I have grown as an author, I'm less likely to dump an entire chapter. Instead, I  just hang out at my desk until the monster shows up so I can start the story with reader-grabbing moment.

Other times I recall a nightmare and write about it. It could be a regular, ordinary nice dream, but those usually aren’t memorable enough to make it to the keyboard.

Another place story ideas show up is when you play the “what if” game. What if a boy meets a girl at the beach and they fall in love? Nah, it’s been done. How can we make it more interesting? Boy meets girl? Well, duh, that has to happen, but what if it’s not a pleasant first meeting? What if the meeting takes place in a forbidden place?

Here’s an example…
What if a teenage boy wakes up in the middle of the night to discover the girl he has a crush on has pointed a pistol at him. It’s not the way he imagined her in his bedroom at that hour. She proceeds to insult his private parts that, as far as he can recall, she has never seen, but she insults them anyway.

The girl fires her pistol.

Fortunately, the boy’s best friend breaks in with a possible female terrorist. They’re both carrying military-style rifles with bayonets fixed. The teenage girl terrorist takes out pistol girl all the way through the bedroom window. The boy’s best friend announces “This didn’t happen.” He then leaves with the terrorist.

As it turns out, the female terrorist isn’t a fanatic at all. She’s a teenage alien shapeshifter from some planet on the other side of the galaxy who crashed on earth and is now dodging the men in black. The boy could chalk up the whole episode to a nasty dream, except that doesn’t explain the actual bullet hole above his bed, does it? And it doesn’t explain the broken window his teenage crush crashed through with a bayonet sticking out of her chest.

And that’s just for starters.

I find the events described above fascinating, especially when you find out that the young lady who fired the weapon is still alive, was never stabbed, and has no recollection of the event despite the bullet hole’s continued existence above the boy’s bed. How does the boy with the crush know all this? It becomes obvious when the girl climbs back in through the window the next night with romance in mind.

The right story idea leads to interesting events, places and the strangers among us. It’s why I like to write about them in my novels. If you want to read how the story described above turns out, download a copy of my ebook Snpgrdxz and the Time Monsters from Amazon. Also available in paperback.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How to Get Started Writing Your Own Business Book

Business Book Writing Made Easy Series

How would it feel to hand a book with your name as the author to a sales prospect or business associate? Maybe you just want to impress your boss or other higher ups in your company. Or you want to enhance your job hunting prospects. Maybe you can even use a business book to jumpstart your own business.

You know showing up at work with your own self-published business book would send your credibility through the roof, wouldn’t it? A business book is the most powerful marketing tool you can imagine. Among the many uses for a business book, you can:
  1. Engage your customers at the very time they are thinking about your topic.
  2. Position yourself as the expert instead of somebody just trying to sell something.
  3. Teach your customers the way you want them taught
With a business book, your voice dominates the reader’s mind while they consider your topic and related products and services. With a book writing plan you can accomplish the following:
  1. Write and edit your book better and faster so your readers can’t put it down
  2. Build your online readership before you market your book
  3. Add to your credibility as a speaker and subject matter expert (SME)
Take the first step
Writing your first business book is like eating an elephant. It’s overwhelming. Instead of tackling an entire book, just write the outline. That’s the first step in your business book writing plan. There are many more steps along the way that I simply can’t cover in a single blog post. But here’s a bonus step that will help you get started writing from your outline. Take one item from your outline and write about it for use in information outlets like:
  1. Trade Magazine article
  2. Email Newsletter (Yours and other people’s)
  3. Blog post (Yours and other people’s)
  4. You Tube Video
  5. Website content
Later, you can repurpose the content you created around a single idea or bullet point from your book outline back into your book as a chapter or portion of a chapter.

I’ll include more about writing your own business book in future posts, but if you want to jumpstart your business book writing process, email your questions to me. Use BOOK QUESTION in the subject line. If you would like to book (no pun intended) me for a speaking gig on how to write business books, use SPEAKER REQUEST as the subject line. The email address is the proper format for paul at zuklloyd dot com. Or click here.