In the Chute

tatergateToday is the day. I’m going to work on building my brand.

My dad raised cattle. Branding holds quite a few memories for me. I remember sitting on the top of a fence with a cattle prod. If the cattle wouldn’t go into the chute, I would zap them on the butt. Seems like I had gate duty sometimes, too. Some kind of lever I would pull to shut the cow into the chute. It held their head in an opening. Then someone would brand them or tag them or vaccinate them… whatever it was we were doing to the poor things. The purpose of the chute was to hold them still so they couldn’t hurt themselves. I was a kid. I did what my dad told me to do. Plus, I liked being around the men. They swore and spit and laughed a lot. I could get dirty and climb around and there was an electricity to it all… well, no pun intended regarding that cattle prod, but seriously, it was yelling and banging and mooing and commotion. It was one of those many times on the farm requiring a group of people to complete a task. I liked being a part of the group and right in the middle of the action.

But of course, branding has a new meaning now. You know branding even if you don’t think you do. It’s the thing we see that immediately tells us what the product is. Think Coke’s lettering style. Pepsi’s blue can. Those big McDonald’s arches.

I think Janet Evonovich may have one of the more stand-out author branding techniques with her covers. Solid bold colors, big splashy lettering, numbers. You know her books when you see them.

cow-brandI’ve read an author’s brand is their promise to readers. It tells the reader what to expect from us. Who we are. I guess it has the exact same purpose and meaning as it did with cows. Who is this cow? Who does this cow belong to? And all with no hot iron or burning fur! Ouch. Glad about that.

Yet, I keep putting it off as though I’m afraid of getting in that chute! Maybe what’s stopping me are those memories of cattle.

Regardless, the one thing I am consistently told by other other writers is that I have a very specific writing voice. My work can be recognized by my style and voice. This reminds me of the first time I remember someone telling me I was pretty. I remember looking in the mirror to check… I couldn’t see it and didn’t know why. I also remember thinking they were just saying it to be nice. It was probably an aunt or my mom. They have to tell us we’re pretty, don’t they?

So, to create this brand, I have to identify exactly who I am. What do I want to say? What are the things I can promise about me and my writing. That’s harder to figure out than one would think! I keep looking in the mirror and I just can’t see it.

But, it’s my goal for today. Figuring out what my brand should be. How should my books look? If I had a logo, what would it be? What and how would I describe what you can expect from my books? Wish me luck!

Sarcastic Rant

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Here are my sarcastic questions for the day:

Why are the children in Walmart crying? Seriously. Every time I see babies crying… and there seem to be a higher percentage of them doing so in Walmart than any other place in the universe I’ve visited… I want to go up and talk to the baby. I want to say, “Baby? Why are you crying?” I watch the wailing child. Normally, they are being denied more time in the play area. They are being made to put a coat on. They are not being given the big box of Fruit Loops. And sometimes they seem to just be straggling along behind their parents and squalling. I want to go up to every one of these children and say, “Babies! Stop crying! This is the easiest time you will ever experience in your life! You are fed, clothed, tucked into bed at night, given toys, and played with. No one expects anything of you. You have no schedule to keep. No work to do. You don’t even have to make it to the bathroom on time. Just crap in your pants and someone will remove it and replace the diaper with a fresh one and lotion and powder. Yes. An adult will make sure your tushy is soft and smells lovely! Just lay there. Seriously. WHY ARE YOU CRYING!!!??? You don’t even have to pay for the mess you made in aisle three. (Disclaimer… of course, some babies have a good reason. I’m talking about the average child who cries just like all of us did when we were little and had no idea how good we had it!)

kitty in the box_2Next question: Why do we have to tell people not to mail live animals? I mailed a package recently and went to the US Postal service website to create a mailing label. Somewhere on the page, it had a caution: Please do not mail live animals. I don’t like living in a world where we have to tell people this. I don’t want to have this thought of a baby kitten in a box being shipped across the country. I don’t want to think about the idiot who is stupid enough to do that, either. I think the moron who puts a kitten in a box to ship across the country should get in a bathtub and blow dry their hair. I’m not even worried they might read the tag on the blow dryer, cautioning them not to do so. I highly doubt they can read or care about such rules because I would assume they’re running around sticking forks in toasters.

Last question. What are the ingredients in shampoo, anyway? I stand in the shampoo aisle and try to figure outshampoo-carcinogen-537x363 which kind to purchase. Quite the task. How in the world do we make these decisions? Luckily we have advertising assisting us in our confusion. It’s Herbal. It contains Jojoba! Biotin, Vitamin B7, Tea Tree Oil, it’s Organic, has Collagen and Weightless hydration coconut water!!! Moroccan Argan Creme!!  Honestly. I did not know I needed these things. I also don’t know what they are!! When I read these ads, it seems to me they are telling me I am supposed to know what these things are. Oh, yes… of course… Argan Creme. I know what that is! What, you think I’m ignorant?! I’m a woman who shampoos her hair. Of course I know what Argan Creme is. Jojoba? Sure! Biotin? Of course! I wouldn’t dream of using a shampoo without Weightless hydration coconut water. What—you take me for some kind of fool?

There. I feel a little better. Thank you for enduring my rant. Now I’m going to go somewhere and grumble about mosquitoes and flies.

It’s a NEW BOOK!

My friend and talented author C. Hope Clark was kind enough to give me an editorial review for the back cover of my new book, Moments of Clarity.

“Gina’s homespun words of life lessons and nostalgia fill me with a cookies-and-milk warmth and make me crave smothering hugs. “Filling the Void” in particular made me wish that memory was my own. This author can make you so happy to be breathing and smiling. She’s found her niche.”

Hope Clark, award-winning author of The Caroline Slade Mysteries and The Edisto Island Mysteries. www.chopeclark.com

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Here’s the Proof. The book, Moments of Clarity is born and is now available as a print or digital copy from Amazon. Soon, the eBook will also be available on iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

For the last couple of years, I’ve worked on selecting the right stories from this blog to put together as an anthology. I’m thrilled with how it looks and reads, and I think you’ll like it, too.

These stories are close to my heart—about my family and my childhood. I think this book is uplifting and humorous.  I believe you’ll see some of your own life in these essays, and reading this book will bring a smile to your face.

I hope those of you who visit my blog will share this news with other readers. I’d also like to give away some free digital copies to the first several people who put their email along with a comment in the comment section of this post.

The way I will give away a digital copy is to give a coupon for the book to Smashwords. There, you will buy the book and download it in whatever format works for you, Nook, Kindle, PDF, etc. I will send the coupon code to your email address.

When my print order comes in I will give away a few print copies, as well.

Happy reading, and thank you for following Moments of Clarity!