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DATELINE MONTREAL —  Whether happily anticipating, secretly dreading, generally indifferent or completely opposed to Valentine’s Day, its annual celebration inevitably prompts personal reflections of love and happiness. That is why author Cat Larose suggests Valentine’s Day may be the perfect time to give yourself a little love.

In her memoir Any Color but Beige: Living Life in Color, Cat dives into the international dating pool searching for the new love of her life. But she quickly learns loving herself first is the key to developing meaningful romantic relationships. For Cat, being happy started when she committed to infusing her life with bold and beautiful colors – a loving gift she suggests all women give themselves this Valentine’s Day.

“Year after year, women approach Valentine’s Day with so many hopes and expectations from others. Instead, start the day with a deliberate show of self-affection. Give yourself a colorful gift to renew your confidence and confirm your values,” suggests Cat. “After all, you cannot truly love anyone else until you love yourself.”

Cat offers a few simple suggestions, “Send yourself a dozen red roses, indulge in a blushing bottle of pink champagne, find inspiration in a romance or love story like Any Color but Beige or perform a random act of love purely to see someone smile–it’s the colorful thing to do. Appreciate yourself first and you will find you can appreciate love more.”

It may seem simple, but Cat’s philosophy – living life in color – has guided her international search for Mr. Right. Living life in color has anchored her ability to love herself and be truly happy – whether she is in a relationship or not.

Catherine “Cat” Larose is an international color-marketing expert who travels the world selling color. She is the author of Any Color but Beige: Living Life in Color, voice behind the successful Café Girl Chronicles blog is and currently writing her second book.

Any Color but Beige: Living Life in Color is a bright, funny, genuine account of one woman’s search for love and happiness in the deep end of the dating pool.

Synopsis:  A successful career took Cat to some of the world’s most beautiful cities. But she still felt something was missing – ironically, it was color. While in Paris watching a sunset, Cat – in a moment of clarity – caught a glimpse of her sepia-toned future. She realized given the current circumstances, she could not make her marriage successful or her life happy. Undeterred by the daunting prospect of starting over in her mid-40s, Cat began transforming her life one color at a time. After years of living a beige existence, Cat embarked on an adventure to add little color to her own life.

Any Color but Beige is available in paperback (ISBN 978-1-77067-489-9), hardcover (ISBN 978-1-77067-488-2) and e-book (ISBN 978-1-77067-490-5) through Amazon and other  online bookstores as well as your local bookstore. Readers who purchase the book can order a free set of color palettes via Cat’s blog – The Café Girl Chronicles.  For a story preview, view the book trailer.

photo: © istockphoto.com/PeskeyMonkey

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This Valentine’s Day Fall in Love with Yourself

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I launched my book, Any Color but Beige, with a solid public relations program last September. The combination of my modest budget and previous professional experience enabled me leverage this into some good coverage that included two TV interviews, print and digital coverage in several newspapers, blogs and e-zines, and a couple of speaking engagements. I also learned that, although several of the media were interested in the book, they felt no sense of urgency to write about it. The reason: memoir is a genre they call “evergreen.”

Evergreen is both a good and a bad label. It’s good because the media can make use of (promote) your book at any time. It’s bad because they could put your book on a pile underneath copies of more current evergreen books. So when it comes to generating lots of coverage for your book, your story has to be two things: topical and urgent.

With that in mind, I have decided to make a second attempt at a PR program – this time promoting the book as a life story, love story and an international dating story – just in time for Valentine’s Day. Of course, this time I will put a slightly different spin on it.

This year, author Cat Larose suggests sending yourself a dozen red roses or a bottle of pink champagne on Valentine’s Day. It’s the colorful thing to do, says Larose. After all, you cannot truly love anyone else until you love yourself.

I’m hoping that relationship and lifestyle editors and program directors in search of a fresh angle for Valentine’s Day will seize upon the story and feature it on or around the big day. In conjunction with that, I have secured a “Meet the Author Sell and Sign at Chapters on St. Catherine Street in Montreal on Saturday, February 11th at 2:00.

It will be interesting to see if this new spin generates some additional media coverage and results in sales.

Timing, as they say, is everything. Let’s see if that’s true.

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As part of my 2011 book promotion / marketing efforts, I participated in WOW!’s Blog Tour. For those of you who are new to The Chronicles, WOW! stands for Women on Writing and it offers genre-specific blog tours to authors via its extensive blogger network.

The tour took place in November / December 2011 and included guest posts on participating blogs, interviews, one podcast and a book giveaway contest. It offered one free copy of Any Color but Beige to individual readers and an opportunity for one lucky book club to win ten copies of the book. All international winners received an eBook or Kindle format of the book. To be eligible, the blogs required readers to tweet about the book and that increased my exposure in cyberspace.

Here’s what I liked about the tour:

It was well organized. Participating blogs posted topics well enough in advance of the tour, so I could prepare just the right posts to help promote the book.

It gave me a list of topics to write about. Sometimes writing about a particular subject is a lot easier than coming up with a topic on your own.

Once the guest posts were published, I could use them on my own blog. This bought me some much needed time off in the month of December.

Some blogs reviewed the books. It was good to get different viewpoints from people who knew nothing about me, my blog or my story. Objective reviews help a writer see things in a different light. Or consider things they wouldn’t have previously thought of.

The tour was international and that was perfect because it’s in keeping with who I am and what I do. I was a guest on blogs in Estonia and Finland. And some of the contest winners were as far away as Australia and Malaysia. The winning book club was from Madrid, Spain. I will be participating in the Madrid book club discussion via Skype in the spring.

The one drawback to the tour was that the tour could not provide any real quantitative data analysis. However, my own analytical conclusion is that my fourth quarter 2011 blog views were up a whopping 60%. How much of that is attributable to the blog tour I can’t say for sure. I can say that, post for post, the only thing I have done differently between 2010 and 2011 is take part in the tour.

The bigger question is did it lead to an increase in book sales? And here I would have to say I don’t know. I have no basis of comparison because sales are similar across the three months since the book’s release in September.

Were the dollars I spent worth it? I would say yes they were. I consider the dollars spent an investment in the Café Girl brand and my ongoing stories.

photo: © istockphoto.com/scanrail

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The secret is out. Now that my life is officially an open book, the world (I have friends on six continents) knows that I am not Wonder Woman. It is an image I struggled for a long time to preserve, but with the publication of Any Color but Beige: Living Life in Color I have given up that struggle. And I feel the lighter for it.

I didn’t intend to write a memoir and I certainly didn’t mean to bare my soul to strangers. Because up until recently, I have often said that I would rather chew broken glass than admit to any vulnerability. Ah, vanity!

On the surface I was calm, cool and confident as I shrugged off life’s slings and arrows, like some superhero in a movie. I’ve traveled the world for my job, lived abroad in some very nice cities and had a romantic life that was ripped from the pages of a Harlequin romance novel. It made for some sparkling conversation over cocktails with the girls for whom I put on my game face and pretended that my life was perfect.

But it wasn’t. The truth was I was in a blue funk nursing a broken heart and I didn’t know what to do about it. So I started to write. I poured my heart onto the page because I wouldn’t allow myself to cry. All of the emotion I felt went into my writing, and slowly I began to get my bearings.

Before I knew it, I had 200 pages of perspective. Having gone that far, I sent it off to a freelance editor for an evaluation. The minute I pushed “Send,” I felt a rush of embarrassment. What did I just do? I asked. I’ve sent 200 pages of total nonsense to a complete stranger. I was mortified. It took a month before I heard back from her and each time I thought about it, I’d squirm a little bit in my skin.

Much to my surprise, the evaluation came back positive and with it a long list of recommendations, one of which was to create a blog based on my experiences. The blog helped me build an audience for my book and hone my voice. It also helped me to get over some of the awkwardness I felt when writing about my experiences. I soon learned that what I had to say resonated with readers.

The blog was good practice for writing the final version of the book. Through it, I got used to gradually exposing me and my life. Because the blog preceded the publication of my memoir, and chronicled my life, it felt a lot like the gradual opening of rose – one petal at a time. At its core lay the sweet essence of my book.

Now when I think about the book, I think about the authenticity of its story. Now, rather than feel embarrassed, I feel relieved at having shared it. I used to think I was alone in my experiences. So many people have told me that they have found themselves on its pages that I realize the feelings of love and loss, happiness and disappointment and, most importantly, optimism are universal. And feelings are always better when they’re shared.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/olandesina

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I subscribe to a fantastic site called WOW! – Women on Writing. According to its site, WOW!’s mission is “to support women’s creativity, energy, blood, sweat and tears, throughout all stages of the writing process.”

It’s a great resource for writers and authors covering everything from writing techniques and self-publishing tips to networking with an online community of other writers. Their vision is to create “a favorite watering hole for professionals, the up-and-coming, and the recipients of our labors–the avid readers.”

WOW! Also offers a blog tour to authors as a means of promoting your book to its extensive blogger network. The blog tour includes:

  • 12 – 15 stops on highly trafficked blogs customized to your book
  • An interview on WOW!’s own blog “The Muffin.”
  • An email announcement in WOW!’s Events Newsletters (21,000 subscribers)
  • Excellent Customer Service. My experience this far with Jodi Webb has been amazing.

What follows is a partial schedule for my own blog tour kicking off with my WOW! Interview on “The Muffin”* on November 14.   Stop by today and visit.*  Several of the blogs are running contests you can win a free copy of Any Color but Beige.

*I’m posting this from Munich, somewhat in advance of the post due to time zones,  so it may take a couple of hours for the Post to appear on today’s Muffin.  Overseas reader please check back later today to see it.

Photo: © iStockphoto.com/NRedmond

Date Title Blog
11/15/11 Recreating Yourself http://emptynest1.blogspot.com
11/16/11 Tips for Being a Great Speaker or “Dear God, Please don’t let me sound stupid.” http://blog.juliealindsey.com/
11/17/11 Book Review – nothing required www.misadventureswithandi.com
11/18/11 5 Things You Should Always Have in Your Suitcase www.misadventureswithandi.com
11/23/11 Five Things to See or Do In a New Place http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com
11/29/11 Pod Cast http://www.momecentric.com
12/2/11 Interview http://jodiwebb.com/
12/6/11 Color Quiz http://cmashlovestoread.blogspot.com
12/7/11 Why We Write http://www.ingasilbergbooks.com
12/8/11 What Color Should Your Writing Room Be http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/
12/9/11 What Color Says About You http://www.krittersramblings.com
12/12/11 Baring Your Soul For a Memoir http://www.fromthetbrpile.blogspot.com
12/14/11 Interview – Laurie To Send Questions http://lauriehere.blogspot.com/
12/16/11 How Travel Can Improve Your Writing http://niinas-reading-and-reviewing.blogspot.com/
TBA Interview http://SellingBooks.com/

Mmmm muffins

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