Brand Required

Monday, January 25, 2010

I've never been a cow seared by a branding iron, but I have lived through a branding project at my company, and it's painful.

When I left the business world for full-time writing, I thought my branding days were over. I was twice wrong. First, writing is also a business, so I haven't left that world. Second, even writers need brands.

This second truth hit home when I started developing brochures to advertise speaking services to complement my writing. How could I make an impression that would convince people who hire speakers to choose me over someone else?

My problem is simple: I have multiple personalities, and trying to find one tag line to cover them all seems impossible. I got around it (sort of) for the brochures because I made separate ones for each audience. For Christian women's groups, I came up with "Caffeine for the Soul: women's group talks that wake up and energize your walk with God." For writers' groups, it became "Caffeine for the Writer's Soul: workshops and classes to energize the writing life." But for school groups and civic and legal groups, I'm stuck with the boring and undistinguishing "author and speaker."

Now I'm beginning the process of updating my web site, and I need a brand to draw people in. (No, I'm not giving you the address yet. If I was happy with the current version, why would I hire a professional web designer?) Since the new and improved site will cover all of my writing and speaking activities, I need a universal slogan.

When I started this blog, I did try to come up with an all-inclusive tag line that would distinguish me from the crowd. But as you can see from the header, I gave up.

As I said, the problem arises from my multiple personalities. The lawyer in me writes and speaks about the First Amendment religion clauses and about legal issues of special interest to writers. The Christian wife and mother is more interested in encouraging other Christian women. The heart (yes, I do have one) wants her writing to demonstrate Christian love for sinners, while the head wants to make it clear that moral standards do not change with the times. The creative soul wants to craft a story you can't put down. And the driven writer wants to do it all.

At this point, my tag line is "help!" Any better ideas?

The Country Celebrates My Birthday

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

People who have never heard of me consider my birthday a holiday.

Or a memorial.

That's because I was born on January 15, twenty-two years after Martin Luther King, Jr. (He would have been 81 this past Friday.)

Growing up in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I didn't pay much attention to the Civil Rights Movement. Then, between my sophmore and junior years of high school, we moved to the Lower Peninsula. I still lived in a small town, and we were 200 miles from Detroit. But my growing interest in what was going on in the world and the fact that I was now closer to towns with black population centers brought the issues into focus. Dr. King's non-violence stance and stirring speeches inspired me as much as the 1967 Detroit riots frightened me.

Then came April 4, 1968. I don't remember where I was, as I do for President Kennedy's assassination, but I do know that a voice of reason died that day. No, that isn't true. The man behind the voice died, but the voice itself lives on, and so does Dr. King's legacy.

I searched the Internet for quotes and found a number of great ones, from the profound to the humorous. My favorite is the one that begins this post, but here are some others for you to mull over this week.

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

"The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict."

"The church must be reminded that is is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority."

"The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' . . . The good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'"

"It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important."

May Dr. King's legacy live on.

Still on the Straight and Narrow

Monday, January 11, 2010

No, that isn’t me behind those bars.

For those of you who read my first post, I haven’t started a Ponzi scheme yet. And I pray I will never have the urge to do so.

That’s because I’m a Christian, and I take my faith seriously.

Some of you may wonder, “if her faith is important to her, why didn’t she mention it in her first post?”

I left it out intentionally.

My faith comes first, even before my family. (Although if God asked me to give them up for Him, I’m sure I’d argue with Him at first or delude myself that it wasn’t His voice I was hearing. But let’s hope it never comes to that.) However, I don’t want non-Christians to come to my blog and decide they don’t belong here. Making my Christianity too up-front could discourage readers who are not committed Christians (or, or as some of you may describe us, Christians who should be committed). I’m not writing this blog for Christians. I am writing it for you, Christian or not.

If I have an impact on your life, I want it to be because you see Christ in me, not because I’m cramming my beliefs down your throat.

That is also my writing philosophy. I write from a Christian viewpoint but with a heart for all readers. My first (and so far only) published book is In God We Trust: How the Supreme Court’s First Amendment Decisions Affect Organized Religion (FaithWalk Publishing, 2006). As the title suggests, it looks at an issue of special interest to Christians, but it is of equal interest to practicing Jews, Muslims, and even acknowledged atheists. And the position the book takes is not uniquely Christian—in fact, it tries to just give you the facts and not take a position at all.

The novels I am currently working on follow a similar approach. While they are written for a primarily Christian audience and do employ a Christian worldview, my goal is to tell a story you can’t put down.

So Christian or not, I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

No Looking Back

Friday, January 1, 2010

December 31st was my graduation day.

You’re staring at the screen and wondering what high school or college has graduation on New Year’s Eve.

None that I know of. So what am I talking about?

After over 30 years as a licensed attorney, I finally “retired.” And when talking about my retirement, I sometimes start saying “graduation” before catching myself.

Maybe that’s because my “retirement” is a graduation of sorts. Graduation from one phase of my life to another: from making my living as a lawyer to being a full-time writer.

By now, you may be saying, “this is one of those mind-numbing legal blogs, so I guess I’ll stop reading.” Please don’t, because that isn’t the focus at all. Nor is this a personal journal where you will discover what I had for breakfast or read about my daily activities.

I intend to write about the insight I get from something that happened to me during the previous week. Something big or small. Unusual or ordinary. Funny or just plain embarrassing. But hopefully each incident will be something you can identify with.

Since this is my first blog post, let me introduce myself. My name is Kathryn Page Camp, and I am a wife, mother, writer, and speaker. And I worked in the legal department at National Futures Association for the past 23 years.

Some of you may have heard of Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme, which defrauded millions of investors. Although NFA did not regulate Madoff’s securities fund, we have shut down other Ponzi schemes. So here is how I described my graduation in the company-wide e-mail I sent just before turning off the light in my office for the last time:

The steady job and salary
Make NFA the place to be.
But now it’s time to say goodbye
And write and write until I die.
If the money doesn’t match the dream,
I can always start a Ponzi scheme.

But will I? More about that next week . . . .