Author Archives: Jamie Brazil

Emojis, the Soul and Genetic Memory

Emojis are like the soul – our essence without context reduced to pure impression.

Wahula Gonzo

I think we each have a soul. When we die, our brain, our memory, all that is gone. What’s left is an energy that has been influenced by our living experiences, but doesn’t remember any of it. The soul is like a compendium of emojis evoking emotions that are now lost, yet there is a retained glow, an echo, an effect of their existence.

Pretty heavy.

Emojis are also fun. My tween nieces just got their own cell phone to share. I’m their favorite text-buddy.

Which brings us to emojis. The older niece is very literal and loves to write exactly what she wants to communicate, though she will sign off with a few special emojis. The younger is a free spirit still running on magic fairy dust and would prefer to communicate with the world exclusively through emojis. Which made me ask, “What is an emoji?” Not just a smiley face. Deeper. Way deep. Like, are emojis in our genetic memory deep?

If man has been around for centuries, what about emojis?

I know there was one back in 1969.

Rolling Stone Tongue

If you don’t know this from the Rolling Stones, designed by John Pasche, we’ll have to go back further. How about the Mayans? This is Ajaw, maybe a sun god from thousands of years ago. I think the sun god is a happy guy. I’d sign off a text with him.

ajaw (2).jpg

And what about the Egyptians? Hieroglyphics are like writing with all emojis.

hieroglyphic

And let’s not forget Asia.

yin

Yin and yang. The balance of the universe. If you tip it on its side it’s almost a smiley face.

yin2

So what does this all mean? I don’t have a clue. I can only guess that when we all join that universal flow of energy in the afterlife, maybe our genetic emoji memory will kick in. Hopefully, we’ll all be as comfortable communicating with them as my nieces.

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Compassion is a Bitch

0fd5dd1e246d6c7e6cca2ce7b2859c72-wildlife-paintings-bird-paintingsBlack Bear came to a meeting late and said, “I’m feeling frazzled after dealing with my cubs. What if I don’t feel compassionate?”

Raven said, “Fake it.”

That doesn’t seem honest,” said Black Bear.

It doesn’t begin with honesty,” said Raven.

~Zen Master Raven Stories by Robert Aitken Roshi

Here we are, a new year, yet again. Most of us are in familiar resolution territory: fitness, nutrition, save money, and write that book. I’ve given a lot of thought to Raven’s advice above. Fake it. For much of the past year I’ve struggled with compassion — especially relating to one person in my life.

In pursuit of compassion I’ve seen a counselor, an acupuncturist, and a yogi on a regular basis. They all help, to some extent — the balance of yoga building physical and spiritual muscles. Yet it wasn’t until October 2nd in Ann Arbor, Michigan when a stop for gas turned into one of those before and after moments. A man committed suicide, jumping off a roof of a parking garage. His lifeless body less than 100 feet from the gas pump.

I realized then my compassion was still present. Just buried under many many… MANY… layers of anger.

So here I am on the cusp of a new year. Much of the same old same old. I resolve to be healthy, slim, solvent and prolific. Less angry. More compassionate, too. Eventually. For me, compassion is still a bitch, contended with on a daily basis. My greatest challenge.

In the meantime, maybe we can all benefit from Raven’s advice and fake what we really really want until it becomes our truth.

Finding My Funny Bone

flamingophotoYesterday I threw out my January 2017 poster board of goals. In a quest to Marie-Kondo-ize that closet you see there behind me — the closet that up until yesterday held a mash up of both literary and garage sale sins — I figured out that I lost my sense of humor.

Yeah, it’s been a tough go of things this year.

My sense of humor was NOT in the closet. It is somewhere, but it was not in the closet.

In the meantime, I heaped piles in the middle of my office floor and edited. Brutally.  Boxed papers for shredding. Stacked a four-foot-high tower of stuff near the front door to be re-homed. There are wicker baskets (why do I own a large collections of wicker baskets?) , hangers, clothes that don’t fit me, things I’ll never get around to selling, books (lots of books) and the ramblings of half-finished projects. Oh, and at the aforementioned garage sales, I’ve found REALLY USEFUL things like light-up animatronic flamingos.

Hmmm. The center of the floor was still a mess.

Disheartened by the chaos I bailed and went to a movie (Wonder Woman… brilliant… though the stabs of humor in the script felt forced).

Mentally restored, I returned home and tackled the last of the pile, finishing my task around 9pm. Exhausted, with an aching elbow that I don’t know how I injured, and still humorless.

What I do know is that I need a fresh start. For writing, for excavating even deeper than an office closet, and for laughter that comes from the belly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April Showers…

lily valleyDo April showers bring May flowers? We’ve had enough rain last month, and on a personal note, many tears too. When the Janes gathered last month at the RCRW Spring Fling I had no idea the month would end in such heartbreak: less than a week ago my two-year old Bloodhound passed away  Whether it was an accident or intentional, he was poisoned

Though my “fur-baby” Angus is gone far too soon, I try to remind myself how fortunate I’ve been to have shared my home with not just one but TWO Bloodhounds. Each one magnificent in his and her own way.

So here’s hoping the rain wraps up, the sky clears, and the blossoming flowers in the coming days of May lift everyone’s spirits. IMG_5760

 

 

 

Tips for Amazon Ad Words and Other Marketing Advice

allysonUp until this past weekend I’d never heard of Allyson Longueria, publisher of WMG Publishing, but as it turns out she’s a force to be reckoned with, and she has strong opinions on what authors and should and should not do when it comes to marketing.

At the annual RWA Rose City Romance Writers Spring Fling Allyson presented her BEST tips over three hours. It’s been a couple years since I’ve actively marketed my books, so the refresh was great, but the Amazon Ad words advice caught my interest.

Here are my top takeaways from Allyson’s class:

Series always sell better than stand alones, so think about using multiple starting points within your series. If your series has been around for a while consider marketing “anniversary” editions as on-ramps for new readers.

Amazon Ads: YOUR BOOK COVERS need be as chaste as possible – no skin showing or your book will be bounced! “Active Covers” sink in the algorithms, too – classic embrace, dangling bra strap, etc. MORE on Amazon Ad Words later.

As an extreme example– If this was your book cover, it might never see the light of day over at Amazon.  ArtemisiaGentileschi-Judith-Beheading-Holofernes-I-1612-13

Amazon: Quotes and reviews placed after the blurb, not within the book description. Again, it’s all about the algorithms (until the algorithms change, again).

BundleRabbit is the latest greatest resource for authors who want to curate anthologies and “series starter” bundles with other writers.

Yasiv is another great site you should check out!

Reminder: Your eBooks are a long-tail investment. Don’t spend hundreds on a great cover and skimp on the formatting. The entire package needs to be professional.

Back to Amazon Ads:

We used the Product Display Ad in class.

A daily budget of $10 is standard with click buys between 25-50 cents.

ALWAYS choose manual targeting—auto is too generic.

Add your own key words—things got interesting here! A few dozen keywords? Forget it. To move the needle you need somewhere between 400-600 key words. One attendee said anything less than 700 was useless.

What to add in your 700?

Along with all the usual suspects like “romantic heroes”, “Godesses”, “Witches”, etc. your net should also include:

Authors similar to you, and popular misspellings of their names

Misspellings of your author name

Misspellings of pretty much everything commonly misspelled, as long THE KEY WORD IS RELEVANT TO YOUR BOOK.

Sneaking in non-relevant words is a no-no that will sink your ad in the algorithms.

Finally, real Amazon Ad Word numbers from an editor who does this every day: Allyson shared her data. For around $4.00 she accessed 78,000 views and that equaled 30 clicks.

So far, on all of her campaigns, her authors have earned back the money spent in promotion. When it comes to discoverability, Amazon Ad Words is a new tool that most authors should be considering.

Do you have any additional tips on using Amazon Ad Words? Please share in the comments.

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