Monday, April 30, 2012

Personal vs. Professional

Once established as a writing (or insert any other type of profession) personality, that personality must be treated as a product, a separate entity, or as its own company.  A clear line must be established between the personal and the professional to ensure success.

Why?  Since I’m currently a writer, I will use this profession as the example to express this point.  However, I will draw on my years of experience as an entrepreneur and business profession to help illustrate the topic.  Perhaps it is from having this experience that has helped me better understand the importance of the matter.

When you become a writing personality, either through writing books, blogs, reviews, etc.; your name (or pen name) become a product - one with an audience, a customer or a follower.  For authors, this audience is readers and fans of their novels.  For bloggers, it is their followers.  For a feature writer of a magazine or newspaper, it is the customer, the subscriber and the general community.  These become the audience.  The writer’s words become the product, not the writer themselves, even if what they write are personal opinions or stem from their personal education, understanding or skill.  Just as in a corporate world, the employees’ personal knowledge, skill, understanding, integrity and educational degree play an important role in the decision-making process while on the job, and the company they work for hired them because of those traits.  However, the employee is still an employee, and the employee represents and works for the company – regardless of their personal thoughts, beliefs and ideals. 

I’ve watched many writers alienate a portion, if not a majority, of their audience because they do not separate their personal identity from their professional one.   The same thing goes for anyone in the entertainment and artistic community.   Ever quit watching a certain television show because one of the actors on that show were being overly political, religious or outspoken on a topic or issue that you perhaps disagreed?  I have, like many, many others.  I’ve seen careers destroyed because of personal opinions.  I’m not saying you can’t have a personal opinion.  On the contrary – I ‘personally’ encourage everyone to have and form their own opinions about everything.  However, there is a time, place and platform in which to express those opinions, especially those that deal with touchy subjects like religion and politics. 

In a perfect world, EVERYONE would be fair-minded, weigh and give considerable thought to every ideal, and would withhold judgment and prejudice until all the facts have been clearly and fairly examined. We DO NOT live in a perfect world.  So, we must use discretion, wisdom and patience in deciding when to speak or when to remain silent.  If you are a public personality, such as a writer, then it is advisable that if you feel strongly in areas of politics and/or religion, use a pseudonym for your work, and keep it separate from your personal life.  It would be a shame if your hard work and talent becomes hindered because your personal opinion alienates, separates and offends a portion of your target audience.  As a reader, I don’t care what your politics are when I’m reading your book, your article, your review or your feature.  I’m interested in your work.  However, if your personal opinions and political diatribes overwhelm and consume your personal presence, I won’t be able to ignore those ideologies as I try to read your work.  I’m human.  I’m subject to prejudice and judgment.  I simply will stop reading your work.  There are too many other writers out there where I won’t have to fight through such issues.   If you want to be overly political or religious, then write for that particular audience.  That way, those who WANT to hear your opinions, will, and you won’t lose huge portions of your audience. 

I have, at times, let my personal opinion escape at the wrong time, in the wrong place and on the wrong platform.  I’m learning.  That’s the whole point of this blog – to share those idioms of wisdom.  I have opinions, strong ones, in fact.  But those opinions are for me, my family, my friends and my personal life.  I don’t want to alienate my readers by overly expressing them in the wrong format (such as my website, Facebook (under my pseudonym), blog or at public appearances).  Again, don’t misunderstand me.  I am who I am, and I don’t change who I am no matter where I am, or what platform I stand.  Who I am today, at this moment writing this blog post, is genuine to who I am should we be standing face to face.  I have no problem sharing my thoughts and opinions (I’m a writer – duh), I’m just learning when it’s appropriate. 

If you’re overly opinionated, and don’t care about the consequences of expressing those opinions regardless of the audience, then by all means - proceed.  However, don’t be surprised when you face difficulty gaining or maintaining a general audience.  You’ve shot yourself in the foot.  You may have an audience, but it’s a specific and targeted audience, often filled with the same ideals and thoughts.  Ever heard of preaching to the choir?

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I'm Published ...Now What?

For years, many writers go through the process of writing, editing, sending out query letters, getting an agent, and then finally signing a contract with a publisher.  There’s nothing like the feeling of wrapping your fingers around the first physical copy of your published book, seeing your name (or pen name) inked across the cover, or seeing the typeset font or illustrations of your imagination spread on every page. 

There are a few lucky ones out there where this process may have been quick, but only a rare few.  Most writers have dedicated a large portion of their life in the pursuit of publication, with MANY never achieving that goal.  But, publication isn’t the end of the race, it’s only the beginning.  It’s the loud boom of the starting pistol.  Published writers have donned the uniforms, made the team, and stepped into the role of “author”.  NOW is the time to run!

Running a race is hard.  It requires endurance, strength, stamina, persistence, determination and all the synonyms that relate to these attributes.  It’s not a lazy person’s sport as some seem to think and many, many others have discovered is not true. It takes training, practice, and dedication in the same manner as an athlete preparing to compete, but in the ‘literary’ sense.   

For writers considering publication, here’s something to consider.  Don’t set yourself up for a shock or a major disappointment by thinking that getting published is the pinnacle, the top, “the” goal to achieve.  It is “a” goal, but only one of many.  Set your sights on being a successful author, a productive writer and a master marketer.  Those are the skills that will get you to the finish line.  Those are identifiers, characteristics and the making of the truly successful. 

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Story that Defies Classification


Reviews Of Books Recently Written By Southside Authors
Compiled by:  Forrest W. Schultz   770-583-3258
April 24, 2012

A Ghost Story That Defies Classification

 A review of

T. L. Gray Milledgeville Misfit (Vabella Publishing, 2012)
                  178 pp   $13.95   ISBN-10: 0983433275   ISBN-13: 978-0983433279

Review Attempted By:  Forrest Schultz

     Carroll County author T. L. Gary has written one of the most interesting and mysterious ghost stories I have ever read, and one that I find impossible to categorize.  At its surprising ending the reader learns that the newly orphaned Juniper "June Bug" Somerville has helped six ghost orphans from the twentieth century and that they have helped her. (I cannot tell you the nature of the help they received without giving away the story, which is well told, although it is a bit slow at the beginning.) We are not told how this could have happened without violating the laws of physics.  The rear jacket lets the reader decide, which is a clever ploy! 

     I recently told someone that the only adjective adequate to describe the stories of H. P. Lovecraft is that they are "Lovecraftian".  Likewise, I here proclaim that the only adjective adequate to describe this story by T. L. Gray is to say that it is "T. L. Grayish"!! 

     Well, I guess this is to be expected of an author who has written a story where Cain is still alive and well and causing mischief.  This story, Cain, is about to come out in a second edition, which I also intend to read
and review.  

     Information on T. L Gray is available at and 

Booked Up!: T.L. Gray Interview + Giveaway!

Here's a chance to win an autographed copy of Milledgeville Misfit.  Contest soon ends, so hurry up and enter!
Spread the word!!!!

Booked Up!: T.L. Gray Interview + Giveaway!: T.L. Gray is a wonderful author. So when I got offered to review a copy of her novel, Milledgeville Misfit, (my review for it here )...

The Continuing Quest

No one likes to receive dismal news, especially right in the middle of a hard campaign that is often fought alone. Accolades, elation, celebration and jubilation are desired special effects to build resolve. Yet, living every day in the middle of chaos, pushing the mind, energy and focus to the extreme limit, all with a hope for a promise of a nice rainbow and pot of gold at the end of the process, seems a bit deflated when there’s not even a hint of a pot and the skies remain gray and overcast.  It is known that the rainbow doesn’t appear until after the storm. Yet, one foot must still be placed in front of the other right in the middle of the downpour, amid the search for the rainbow's end. 

Heads must remain high amongst the throngs of naysayers, those who shout their insults against the mere belief that the possibility exists.  Don’t blink, even when rain drips from lashes and stings the eyes and blurs the vision.  Keep moving, even when feet are wrinkled and numb within the soggy boots, as they slosh through muddy paths.  A promise doesn’t come by magic – a simple snap of the finger.  It comes by faith – through trial and testing. 

Is there courage enough to stand to continue this quest?  Or will the dream be allowed to wither and die in the face of adversity?

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Should I Pseudonym?

Many writers face this question when they come to the moment of their first publication.  The struggle comes down to how they want to be known and how they want their work to be recognized.  

We work hard to obtain the achievements in our lives, starting in childhood with our first trophy, our first ribbon, our first award.  I remember as a 10-year old winning the Citizenship Award at Elm Grove Elementary, and how much pride I had in that achievement.  What that school, teacher or my fellow students didn’t know was the struggle I faced with self-esteem living in an abusive home.  That simple award helped change my identity - how I saw myself and the hope it gave me to gather the strength to overcome my situation.  The Perfect Attendance or Honor Roll Award didn’t do the same thing for me, because those awards were completely in my control, and ones I received every year.  But, the Citizenship Award was given by a teacher by choice to a student that showed great promise and a good nature.  It was unexpected and that much more appreciated.  I’m proud of that award, as I am with every other award, trophy, degree and ribbon I’ve earned and received since.  So, it’s only natural that I want to carry the same name in which those awards were inscribed.  It’s part of my resume, my identity, my accomplishment.  I want the world to see that it’s the same person who also wrote my manuscript.  But, is that the best choice for my work? 

Another achievement that I’m proud of is my business and marketing experience.   I’ve gained a lot of knowledge in this field and an understanding of how things work, and learned early on the importance of knowing Product vs. Market.  In the publishing universe that would be Authors vs. Readers.  As an author, I MUST understand that when I become published, when my name is plastered across the cover of my manuscript, that name becomes a product.  I must think of it from that point forward as a product, one that must be packaged and marketed to my target audience (consumer).  While I’m a writer; an artist, my books and name are now a product; one that needs an audience; a consumer.   I am now a public figure, a marketable product.  If I want to keep the person separate from the product, then I need to use a pseudonym.  If my personal identity (profession, celebrity status, expertise, etc.) IS my marketing strategy, then I won’t use a pseudonym.  That’s about as simple as I can make it.  

Are YOU a marketable product?  That should be the question one asks when considering using a pseudonym. 

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray (My Pseudonym)

Monday, April 23, 2012


When actively working on chasing dreams, various opportunities will cross the chosen pathway.  Deciding which opportunities to follow and which to pass, can sometimes be confusing.  However, this responsibility to make the decision cannot be neglected.  Just as opportunities can lead to even greater prospects, they can also lead to destruction and disappointment.  More dangerously, they can lead to detours and end up with the chosen path being left altogether.

Over the past few months, I’ve come across some opportunities that, by all outward appearances, seemed prosperous, a blessing and filled with the potential for greater success – yet I hesitated and subsequently chose not to walk down them.  Following those decisions, my mind waged war against my heart, and the sinking feeling of missing my “ship” overwhelmed me at times.  However, now that I’m a few more steps down the path I chose, I sigh with relief that I chose wisely.  At this moment, I may not be exhibiting an abundance of worldly success, but I’m ten steps closer to the dream, and ten steps further than I was several months ago.  I’m still on my chosen path and moving forward.  

There are opportunities I’ve come across over the past few years that are still out there, still open and still available to step through.  Will I eventually step through them?  Perhaps - Perhaps not.  Sometimes a door presents itself, but the timing is not right to walk through it.  When the right time comes, it will either still be there, or there will be another in its place.  What I’m really trying to say this morning is - don’t be too quick to just walk through any door, but also don’t be too hesitant.  Trust your gut and rely on your instincts - not your feelings.  At the end of the day, it’s your face you’ll see in the mirror, and that’s the person who matters most in the end, because they’re the ones who has to live with the decisions you make and the opportunities you pass up or take.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray