On this day in 1945 the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
A copy of The New York Times published May 8, 1945, bearing Kennedy’s scoop (AP/Rick Bowmer)
A side note about the day:
The news came to the U.S. via Edward Kennedy— not the late Democratic senator from Massachusetts but a man by the same name who was the chief correspondent in Europe for the AP in 1945 and had watched the signing in person.
Unfortunately, Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had imposed a news blackout on the surrender, under orders from President Truman. Kennedy defied the order and sent the news out anyway.
His defiance backfired instead of the greatest scoop of his career, it was the scoop from. Allied headquarters stripped away his press credentials, denounced him personally for breaking the rules, and expelled him from liberated France to New York, where the AP promptly fired him. In 2012, he finally won a posthumous apology.
Newsbreak or unethical double cross? That is the question even among news reporters today. In our day of Twitter and Instagram, it’s hard to believe Kennedy was the only reporter in 1945 willing to break the news blackout.
The day set aside to show appreciation to all active duty service members. Not to be confused with Veterans Day (November 11) or Memorial Day (May 27 this year). Both of those days commemorate the men and women who died while in the military service.
Originally called Decoration Day, many wear red poppies on Memorial Day which symbolize the red poppies that grew on a battlefield in Belgium during World War I and immortalized by Canadian Lt. Colonel John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields.
Moina Michaels, an American professor, wrote her own poem in 1918.She was also the first to wear a poppy, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money benefiting servicemen in need. Four years later, the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to sell poppies nationally.
A little side note about this day:
A Memorial Day picnic and poppies play a prominent role in the love story of Green Beret Alex Cabot and Department of Army Civilian Lily Reed, The Pendant’s Promise.
Then there are high school graduations, college graduations, birthday parties, and Mothers’ Day.
Last important day in May, though not nationally celebrated or recognized, is our wedding anniversary on May 30. Fifty-six years and counting—a rarity these days.
Book titles and covers are important because the old adage — Readers do judge a book by its cover — is true. So, how can an author know beforehand what’s going to resonate?
Wiser people than me have come up with three criteria.
A great title needs to create an image that synthesizes the story and suggest the story’s meaning or theme.
The cover must also grab the attention of a casual book searcher.
A title must describe the contents while being so piercing and articulate that readers will take notice.
Recently, I rebranded three previously published individual titles into a series. I considered coming up with new titles for each book, but each book already had an ISBN and the content was not changing. It wasn’t necessary.
Instead, I used a branding tagline or blurb (below) and a graphic — the ribbon — to link the books.
PROMISES seriesTwo men and one woman met at Eighth Army Headquarters, South Korea in the turbulent Vietnam War years and found their lives linked together forever. The PROMISES series tells their stories through the decades that follow.
In making my decision, I examined my titles based on the expert’s criteria.
Book 1 is Love in the Morning Calm, Prequel to the Pendant’s Promise.
With love in the title, a reader gets the story will be a love story. The picture of Headquarters, Eighth Army identifies the setting as a military. A knowledgeable reader may also recognize that another name for South Korea is Land of the Morning Calm.
Conclusion: I may have I tried too hard.
Book 2 The Pendant’s Promise
The cover design with the Pendant, the Vietnam Wall, and the word promise signal another love story. I love this cover because my very talented daughter designed it. With the rebranding, my current graphic designer, Jim Peto at Petoweb.com, enhanced the graphics.
Conclusion: The title and the cover artwork make a reader notice.
Book 3 Until He Returns
The old Army green color clues a reader of the setting and time frame. The title suggests whoever needs to return is in the military. (Those who have read the first two books will know the character has been MIA since book 1.) Close examination reveals the character’s name on the dog tags.
Conclusion: Unsure whether this title hits the mark the mark or not. While the dog tags are clearly visible on the paperback cover, the tags are not readable on the eBook thumbprint.
Book 4 Promises to Keep
This is the final book of the series, which will be out next month. The title ties back to the second book’s title and the series title. The couple clues the reader it’s another love story. The sunset background suggests the end of the day and the last of series.
Conclusion: It synthesizes the story and suggests the story’s theme.
Overall, I give myself a generally good grade for my titles. What say you?
Should you want to read any of the books, simply click on the buy links on the sidebar. The buy link for book 4 will be added next month.
This Wednesday we honor all veterans. I come from a family of veterans which means I have a deep-rooted interest in the day.
My husband is a retired Army officer. My father served in the Army Air Corps as a bombardier. My uncle was a Marine on Imo Jima. My son-in-law served in the Coast Guard. For one tour, I was a Department of Army Civilian at Eighth Army Headquarters, Yongsan, South Korea.
This year I’m celebrating with a sale on my two military romances: Read here to learn the story behind the story and how personal experiences play into the fictional romance of Lily and Alex.
And, click on one of the following links to purchase the books and read the whole story.
Research and details in a book can make a major difference in a reader’s pleasure.
That’s why in Love in the Morning Calm and The Pendant’s Promise I include details selected from my time in South Korea.
Lily’s apartment is where we lived in U.N. Village.
I walked the same roads that she walked to catch the bus to Eighth Army Headquarters.
We got so used to the train whistle we didn’t even hear it.
These pictures stir memories for me and I hope give you a good idea of where Lily lived. If you’ve read Love in the Morning Calm, is it like your mental picture?
A gold dress also plays an important role in both books. I got the idea for those scenes from my own experience having a gold dress made to wear to the reception President Park Chung Hee and his wife gave for President and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson. Here’s what my dress looked like. Is it what you pictured Lily wearing?
There’s a carved Papasan in both stories. I brought back several carvings from South Korea to remind us of our time in Han Nam Dong.That’s the Papasan third from the left. When we lived in Seoul, Papasan meant a title used to address elderly men. The term has come to be used for pimps or a person who manages a bar or a brothel or a similar establishment. The kindly men in the white suits we met didn’t do any of that!
You’ll find I used others places we went during our time in South Korea and developed scenes around them. Places like Chungpyung Reservoir. I can still remember our picnic on the hood of the motor pool jeep with the sound of the roaring dam behind us. Ace and Lily picnicked there too.
I hope these glimpses of South Korea when I was there enhance your reading of Lily and Ace’s love story. Or make you want to read.
It should also demonstrate how writers use their personal experiences in creating their fictional stories.
In 1966, while on temporary assignment to South Korea, Green Beret Major Ace Cabot meets Lily Reed, a Department of Army civilian at Eighth Army Headquarters. Ace is a high-potential career officer, who should resist the temptation of any woman, but he can’t ignore his interest in her.
Lily is a firm supporter of the budding women’s lib movement. She enjoys her freedom and new life away from her stifling hometown. Her plans leave no room for any man. No matter how captivating his smile.
In an uncertain time, in a temporary safe zone, yielding to temptation changes both their lives forever.
For twenty years, Lily Johnson’s life, albeit a life of lies, has been good. Then her daughter falls in love and trouble abounds.
The young man her daughter plans to marry is the godson of her daughter’s biological father. A Green Beret Lily thought died in Vietnam.
When they meet him face-to-face, the years melt away and old passion returns, but Lily’s convinced revealing the truth could mean losing her daughter and the only man she’s ever loved. He believes Lily betrayed her promise to wait.
Is the flame of love strong enough to be re-ignited, or, is it too late?
Nothing is more exciting than seeing your name on the cover of a book you’ve written. You’ve devoted hours and hours to the creation of your “baby.” Holding that book in your hand or seeing the listing on an ebook seller site validates your hard work.
I still get excited when I hold my debut novel in my hand.
But what can a reader expect to find inside when they see your name on the book cover?
Authors aren’t products like Pepsi or Coke, but readers do develop expectations about the content of novels based on author brand. For example, what do you expect from books by Mark Twain, or Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling?
Me, I expect a southern tale from Mark Twain, a horror tale from Stephen King, fantasy and magic from a J.K. Rowling book and find exactly that.
My TBR (to be read) pile is filled with all genres. On close examination, the highest stack is romance/women’s fiction books by authors like Debbie Macomber, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or JoAnn Ross. These authors’ names on a cover promises a certain type of story and they deliver.
Their name is their brand.
Debbie Macomber will offer a story of relationships and enduring friendships. The reader will finish with a sense of love and hope.
Books by Susan Elizabeth Phillips are sure to be a romantic comedy adventure. I’ll grin and often laugh aloud as I follow SEP’s unique heroines to their HEA (happily ever after).
JoAnn Ross’ stories offer strong, yet flawed women who overcome adversity, to-die for men-either emotionally wounded alpha shell guys or bad boys, and occasionally both, a very strong sense of setting, and a satisfying ending.
Your name on your cover should signal YOUR author brand. Does it?
If you don’t have any ideas how to do that, let me offer some suggestions on ways to cultivate an author brand using Primal Branding.
Author Patrick Hanlon, a marketing guru who’s worked on famous brands like IBM, LEGO, and Disney, equates product branding with a belief system. He says a strong brand contains seven primal codes: story, creed, icons, language, rituals, non-believers, and leader.
In this blog series on author branding, I’m going to discuss Harlan’s codes and how those codes relate to building an author brand.
According to Hanlon, “Your brand needs to have a story or a background. It tells where your brand originated from and gives viewers or consumers something to connect with and something they can believe and trust in themselves.”
Readers especially love to know why and how an author got started writing.
That background story sets the whole idea of author brand in motion and is the chief reason all author websites and/or blogs should/must have about me pages.
The authors in my TBR pile all have their “story” somewhere on their blogs. Don’t believe me, click on the links and you’ll see.
Step ONE to develop your author brand. Share the story about how you started writing.
According to Hanlon, “This tells what you believe in and how you might be different or similar to other belief systems out there.”
Story is not the same for all of us, neither is our creed.
Creed is what makes us, as a writers, willing to struggle to nurse our stories into existence, to persevere against headwinds that conspire against us?
Creed goes deeper than “origin” story, into the inner drive that led us to pursue a writing career. It’s what drives us to write.
Creed might be belief in the power of love. The frailty of the human condition. Comedy. The beauty of fine literature. Your fictional story will reveal what you believe most strongly.
Writers don’t necessarily state a creed, but a reader will pick up on our core beliefs through our story’s theme and premise.
Step TWO in establishing your author brand: Understand your core beliefs and develop your stories using those as your framework.
According to Hanlon,, “These are quick associations or flashes of meaning that are associated with your brand. They can be visual, a particular smell, sound – things like the taste of McDonald’s French fries, the sight of a Coca-Cola label or Mickey Mouse ears.”
Nora Roberts, bestselling author of more than 209 romance novels, brands her new release books with NR in a circle to clue readers the contains new content and is not a reissue. There may be other author icons, but Nora’s is the only author icon I know.
For most writers, author photos and consistent book cover design become logos.
These images stand for you and your work. It pays to have both your photo and your book cover done by professionals.
Step THREE for author branding: Use a professional photo for you book covers and on your website.
According to Hanlon, “All belief systems or brands have their own set of language and words with a special meaning for those who buy into the belief system. If someone wants to be “part of the group,” they need to learn the associated words.”
Hanlon is talking about specialized words that denote special meaning for a particular brand group. Think soccer fans, computer geeks, doctors, truck drivers, etc. If you want to be part of any of those groups, you have to know the language.
I believe readers already know some language of authors. Not the craft details like POV, scene and sequence, story structure, etc., but a general knowledge of fiction genres and have personal preferences.
That’s why language is an important component of an author’s brand and why I believe a writer’s language must remain true to genre. Doesn’t matter what genre you choose to write, but you’ll not add readers if your language is not true to the genre you chose.
Martin believes language equals “key phrases that inspire you or the mantras that you chant or the slogans that you pin next to your computer” and directs you to Maya Angelou’s website.
He points out that Angelou uses iconic images of herself and the cover of her well-known book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in addition to a line from that book: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” on the website for branding.
Angelou use the language code of primal branding. So should you.
Step FOUR to develop your author brand: Consider the language of the genre in which you write and use related words for your website/blog and promotions, then model Maya Angelou’s website with iconic images and slogans.
In Author Branding Part Two, we’ll discuss the final three codes Hanlon describes: rituals, non-believers, and leader.
Until then, YOUR TURN: Have you thought about using Primal Branding to build your author brand?
WordPress.com dates my blog origin from its creation, but I count the first blog I published as the beginning.
That was February 24, 2012, which makes today, February 24 2013, my one year blog anniversary. HAPPY FIRST BLOGGING ANNIVERSARY to me.
It’s been a fun year.
Anniversaries mark accomplishments. Today I’m celebrating 4,200 views, 425 comments, twenty shares, and many blog friends.
My original plan was to blog every day. I managed less than one hundred. You can read that very first blog, here.
No procrastination for me next year, I plan to double the number of posts, which, I hope, will mean more comments and followers.
As a special thank you for sharing in my successes, I’m offering a FREE Kindle or Nook copy of THE PENDANT’S PROMISE to one lucky commenter today.
The book blurb:
For twenty years, Lily Johnson’s life, albeit a life of lies, is good. Then her daughter falls in love and her world is turned upside down.
Her daughter’s fiancé turns out to be the godson of her daughter’s biological father–the Green Beret Lily thought died in Vietnam.
When they meet face-to-face, the years melt away and old passion returns. Only he believes she betrayed her promise to wait for him. And, Lily’s convinced revealing the truth would mean losing her daughter and the only man she’s ever loved.
Can the smoldering flame of love be re-ignited, or have there been too many lies?
The winner will be drawn on Monday, February 25th and notified by email so be sure you include an email contact with your comment.
Thanks for visiting the front porch during the past year. I hope to see you again next year.
I finished Love in the Morning Calm, the prequel to The Pendant’s Promise and turned the manuscript over to the editor.
Now I’m sad.
I know I should be happy. IT’S FINISHED.
There is a sense of relief and exhaustion considering the amount of energy and focus required to “birth” this particular novel. I’ve been working on Lily and Alex’s love story for years.
My very wise book editor suggested I split the original manuscript into two books, which added a year to the writing process, but keeping the tale as one book would have made James A. Michener’s multi-generational works look like short stories.
Really, I am excited that I’m finished.
Except for this lonely feeling that keeps creeping in–sort of like postpartum blues.
I found comfort in knowing I had Lily and Alex’s romance to resume every morning and think about at night.
I already miss the arguments trying to persuade them to follow my outline. Then sometimes settling for something close to what I planned, but perhaps better and more interesting.
Other authors have shared that they experience the same sluggishness, a lack of motivation, and energy when they finish a book. I know my feelings will subside. Lily and Alex have, after all, found their happily ever after.
It’s time to do the next thing — start a new manuscript. I began that process this weekend.
I’m looking at two quotes as the new story’s theme. One fromTruth About Forever a Sarah Dessen novel: “There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.”
The other from Lao Tzu: “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
Once my new friends, Darcy and Andrew, and I have done that dance of the first 50 or 60 pages they’ll begin to talk to me then my real work will begin.
I can truly bid Lily and Ace farewell.
YOUR TURN: Do you get the postpartum blues when you finish a book? What do you do about it when you do?
The last minutes of 2012 are ticking away. I’m eager for the New Year. Are you?
Author Joan Reeves quoted English poet Edith Lovejoy Pierce in a recent blog: “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity, and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
Joan went on to say: If the New Year is an unwritten book and you are the author, then write hard.
Using Pierce’s analogy, New Year’s Eve would represent THE END and tomorrow begins the PROLOGUE or CHAPTER 1.
As we say farewell to the 365 days called 2012 and begin to write our book titled 2013, I plan to focus on
Hope fuels the engine of creativity.
A successful writer must be creative and that’s not possible without hope.
Embracing HOPE, we move closer to fulfilling our dream as I fulfilled my dream of holding my debut novel, The Pendant’s Promise, in my hands last year.
As writers, we can never give up. Why?
Our characters demand it. So do our future readers.
Enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebrations today and make the decision to embrace the New Year 2013 with HOPE.