Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

Creative Interview

July 24, 2019

Today I’m not posting about my own books or commenting on the ins-and-outs of indie publishing. Instead, I’m interviewing a fascinating creative talent and former Michigan resident, Dale Johnson.

Welcome to “Painting With Light,” Dale.
Thank you. Glad to be here.

You have a fascinating creative background. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I grew up in the Detroit area. Blue collar. High IQ. Strong work ethic. A contrarian that follows the scientific method to solve life’s issues. An accomplished college and semipro pitcher. Clutch hitter because of my ability to tune out everything and focus on one thing.

I married young and moved to NYC, lived there 40 dream years and reached the top of my field at one of the leading ad agencies in the world as an EVP Exec Creative Director. Now run my own agency.

My wife (and best friend) died suddenly three years ago, so I moved to SF to live near my daughter. I am considered kind and respectful, but can have my angry moments.

Understandable. Where did you go to college?
Wayne State University in downtown Detroit.

What was your major?
Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. I also got a Marketing degree from the school of Business, and spent two further years at night school for a minor in journalism.

What were you like at school?
In high school I acted out, was a class clown. Independent, a kind of troublemaker with quips, followed a different drummer. I thought people who joined groups were giving up their individuality. I rejected school/society rules when they didn’t fit my scientific analysis.

Got kicked out of Physics class my senior year because I didn’t feel the teacher was teaching how to understand it, only wanted us to memorize it.

Were you good at English?
I was different. My teachers didn’t understand me. Extremely avant garde and offbeat but lacked grammar and structure training, so I rambled a lot…I wish I could say like Ken Kesey (the author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”). They didn’t know what to think of me.

Where do your ideas come from?
Countless ideas pop into my head just when I sit and think. They are random and it took decades to learn how to merge them into a concept and focus them correctly.

My years in management at the top ad agencies in the world taught me conceptual and strategic discipline, and how to not only understand an idea but be able to explain it to others. Generally, my ideas start by asking the question “Why?”

You were into marketing big-time. What led you into plays and then film?
I’m still in marketing, but am now also a filmmaker. I love advertising and mass behavior change and totally understand how politicians win. In my thirties I was restricted creatively to maximize mainstream commercial success in advertising, so I looked around for another outlet on the side. Writing novels didn’t work for me.

I discovered theater and fell in love. When I started to write plays, I wondered if I had anything important to say and if anyone would care. I apparently did, and created a cult following that liked my uncensored honesty and willingness to pursue controversial topics.

My play on date rape in 2004 went to the Philly Fringe, and my play on racism was optioned by the Theater League’s Broadway Producer of the Year. When I left my last job and started my agency, I switched to filmmaking in hopes of making some money, which plays never do.

Were there writers or filmmakers who inspired you?
When I discovered playwrighting I had been deeply immersed in off-off-broadway and performance theater. I particularly loved Karen Finley. At the Strand I discovered a book called In Your Face, about a theater movement in the 1950’s in England.

This was a time when a homosexual act would put people in jail. They believed that theater should tell the truth, that anything you didn’t do onstage you were denying its existence. It resonated with me and is my credo. People who censor you have an agenda, they don’t want a different opinion to be expressed. It’s natural of course.

People who question threaten the status quo. I followed that belief and was very provocative, but meaningful, and I had a cult following of mature, independent thinkers. One of my plays ran six months. I study art movements as well as artists and love every true artist. I’ve become very visual.

Do you have an “elevator speech” for your work?
I guess you could say it’s “the off off broadway of film” – but major distributors want Broadway.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
At first, I was chaotically creative. Journalism classes gave me some structure. Then I wrote in the ad business and became extremely disciplined. Too disciplined. I felt unable to create naturally, so took a sabbatical for a year and lived in Greece and France.

I wrote five hours a day, every day, and learned how to channel my subconscious directly onto the page without filtering it through my conscious. It was like dreaming for five hours, then waking up wondering what happened.

But I was still able to consciously “aim” the writing, just like I learned to “aim” my fastball as a pitcher. If you completely let go you won’t get it over the plate, if you control your body too much it won’t be relaxed enough to throw fast. It’s called a “controlled explosion”, that’s how I write.

What is the hardest thing about what you do?
The hardest thing is convincing people my work has mainstream appeal. They generally rely on stars in front of and behind the camera in order to finance a movie, so I have to hire stars and be one.

Do you have a favorite author? Playwright?
Several: Steinbeck, Robert A. Heinlein, Lincoln Steffens, Ernie Pyle, Gene Roddenberry, William Goldman, Billy Wilder, David Lean, Alberto Innaurato, Anthony Burgess, Gilbert Gotfried, Lerner and Lowe, Salinger, Mark Twain, Ken Kesey, Bob Dylan, Ferlinghetti, Rod Serling, Vonneghut, Camut, Dr. Suess, Ken Burns, Woody Allen, Kurasawa, etc. – and all playwrights.

What is your favorite book? Movie? Play?
There are lots of them: East of Eden; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Catcher in the Rye; The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens, Volume 1; Contagion Theory; Casablanca; Clockwork Orange; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; The Wild Bunch; Cinema Paradisio; Princess Bride; Don’t Look Now; Lawrence of Arabia; Sand Pebbles; The Battle of Algiers; A Thousand Clowns; Bridge Over the River Kwai; A Man for All Seasons; The Seven Samurai; Ordinary People; Lilies of the Field; and a host of others.

What is your favorite quote?
One of my own quotes: “Art is my religion. Truth is my God.” Or TheaterWeek’s quote about me: “When you watch a Dale Johnson play, be prepared to lose your virginity again.” Also from Shakespeare (Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2): “First…let’s kill all the lawyers.”

Where can we find out more about your work?

What social network sources do you use?
None. As a creator of entertainment, I need to be paid tons of money to entertain people on the internet and I already have two careers.

I don’t have tons of money, so I’m eternally grateful you decided to do this interview. Good luck, Dale…and thanks.
Thanks for having me, Ron.


I will be joining other authors signing books at SterlingFest in Sterling Heights, Michigan this Saturday, July 27, 2019.


Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;


You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or see my three local television interviews. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Things an Indie Author Should Share

February 12, 2018

Last weekend, my wife and I were wandering around our local Costco. We had a list for that shopping trip, but we got sidetracked by one of the giveaway stations offering free pastry samples.

We went past, tried one, and were very pleased with the tasty little chunks of poppy seed roll. We found an excuse to wander past again, and help ourselves to another sample (at least, I did).

“Didn’t your grandmother make these?” I asked. My wife nodded, and took the second sample away from me.

“Yes, and these are almost as good,” she said, smiling as she ate it herself. Too embarrassed to go back a third time for a freebie, I caved-in and bought a whole roll.

Be Personal
Believe it or not, a good use of social media for the indie-author works in a similar way. The writer gives a small, free sample of their life or, as with this blog, shares some of the things they’ve discovered about the world of independent publishing.

Writing about your discoveries, as well as your likes and dislikes, gives readers an opportunity to meet you, to know a bit of what’s going on in your life, and connect in a friendly way.

Think of your social media posts like the little free chunks of pastry at the Costco giveaway station. The samples you give away help readers become invested in your whole story.

You want them to feel like they know you, after all … and the reason should be obvious. The hope of every indie-author in doing this is always the same … to entice followers into buying a book.

I confess … I’m guilty.

Ratings & Reviews
However, sometimes authors struggle to find the right voice with their social media. If you choose to write a blog, starting one is easy. But please realize I’m not talking about giving away personal secrets, or anything else you feel uncomfortable sharing.

It’s up to you to draw the line at what you feel is appropriate, but your social media will always benefit greatly from posts that talk about your writing process, books that truly inspire you, how you go about crafting your stories, or what you do when you get stuck.

I’ve done that often, and find fellow storytellers relish the chance to read personal thoughts on the creative process.

Since your main goal is to get more readers interested in following you as a person it’s okay to show off a bit. Opening up about your experiences is a great way to help to grow your readership.

Don’t forget to also offer readers a chance to comment on what you say … and be sure to respond to those comments. What readers say is important, because ratings, reviews and comments are things people will look at before deciding to buy.

Don’t Forget the Links
If you’re an indie-author, I’m sure you already know there’s no room full of marketers helping you figure out how to sell what you write. For a newbie, that fact alone can be discouraging.

Once you start on this road, you will soon discover that it’s a whole lot of work trying to promote yourself … far more work than you might have imagined.

But I guarantee it’s worth it.

At the end of the day, staying trustworthy to your customer base is simply about being honest, consistent and, most of all, sharing the love of what you do.

As a final point, be certain to remember the real purpose of an indie-author blog, as I said earlier, is to convince people to buy your books, so make sure readers know where to go if they want one.

Don’t overdo it, of course, but be sure to mention your books, and make sure it’s easy for readers to find where to buy them.

Write regularly, without spamming people, and you’ll also discover folks interested in what you say are coming back often to visit their new-found friend … and the more times they visit, the more likely they are to cave in and buy that whole poppy seed roll.

Just be sure to give them value for their time.


My books have all garnered some terrific reviews, and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;


You’re invited to visit my website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show, or like my Book of Face page.

You can also find me on Goodreads, or follow some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

Your Platform Provides Vital Support

May 4, 2017

Indie fiction authors sometimes say this platform-building stuff doesn’t work. But the truth is, after your network of family and friends has been tapped out, if you aren’t continuously putting your book in front of new readers, nobody is going to see it.

A writer’s life isn’t a cakewalk at the best of times. But no platform-building means no significant web presence, no engaged audience of fans (or at least no direct access to them) and wasted opportunities for book marketing, promotion and visibility.

Okay, you say you’ve tinkered with a blog, only to have it succumb to a quiet, anonymous death. You’ve dipped your toe into the social media whirlpool and found yourself repeatedly dragged under.

Branding, guest posting, speaking engagements, blogging, media kits, email marketing, blog tours, networking, interviews, conferences, webinars … you’ve tried everything.

Or maybe you haven’t tried at all.

The web is full of stories of the fruitless efforts of writer wannabes who’ve already attempted the “platform thing” … and failed miserably.

If so many others have tried and failed, the concept clearly doesn’t hold water, right?

Why bother?

Still, if you decide building your writer platform is a colossal waste of time, what’s your Plan B? How will you connect with your target readers, promote your work and build your influence as an author?

Inaction Leads Nowhere
Avoidance may be a good strategy for some threats, but not this one.
The opportunity for interconnectivity that social media provides will only increase over time.

Don’t fear innovation and change, embrace it.

Choose growth and strive for continual learning and self-improvement. Be a problem-solver. Stop avoiding challenges and, instead, accept risk as part of the game.

Remember your skills and abilities aren’t fixed. They can be honed and improved. Being a writer doesn’t preclude you from being a savvy business owner, or a clever marketing strategist.

Successful writers are constantly seeking, asking questions, and applying what they’ve learned.

So, beat inertia by taking the first step.

Mindset Changes Everything
As writers, I think we can be especially creative with the mental barriers and invisible scripts we allow to run on a loop in our brains.

But in order to move forward, it’s vital you throw out any negativity. If you want people to recognize the quality of your work, your talent and your voice, take responsibility for your own actions. If something doesn’t work out the way you hoped or anticipated, learn from the situation and move on.

Prioritize What’s Important
Use your time wisely. Focus on tasks that can really move your career forward and be prepared to make some sacrifices to attain your goals. If you find yourself unfocused or procrastinating without taking the next step, stop. Most of the time, “busy” doesn’t equal productive.

Write down your goals and develop a simple strategy to get from one point to another. Recognize mistakes so you don’t repeat them, and look for what you can improve.

Building a writer platform takes time and hard work, so don’t expect instant gratification. Learn to control your time, rather than allowing others to control it for you.

Knowing the ‘Why’ and ‘Who’ Makes it Easier
What’s your purpose? What excites you? What exactly is it that you’re striving for and why have you chosen this particular path?

Knowing your “why” and being able to communicate it effectively to the “right” people (i.e., your ideal readers) makes marketing your work infinitely easier.

How do you find this elusive group of people?

You look for them.


Don’t expect them to find you. Follow the breadcrumbs they leave as they seek to satisfy their interests. They’ll leave clues in the form of comments on blogs within your genre or niche. They’ll pose questions and state opinions on forums and Facebook groups. They’ll follow similar people on Twitter, and likely be influenced by the same sources and speakers.

Find the intersection between their interests and your purpose.

It’s all right to start small. The size of your readership won’t matter nearly as much as the quality of your connection to them, so take great care to form this relationship early. Don’t just “collect” readers or followers. Invite them to join your community, believe in your message and take part in your journey.

It’s this small … but loyal … group that will help you build a writing career that matters.

Oh, and don’t forget that you also have to write a book worth reading. Even the sturdiest of platforms won’t support a book that’s garbage.

So, what’s stopping you?


My books have all garnered some terrific reviews and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. Look for them. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


Visit my web site to hear the remarkable interview about my novel “Blood Lake” by The Authors Show. By the way, “Blood Lake” was recently selected as a 2016 Forward INDIES Book of the Year Finalist!


I plan to attend the next Freelance Marketplace Writers’ Group Meeting at Barnes & Noble on May 16, 2017. I also plan to attend the 10th Rochester Writers’ Fall Conference at Oakland University on Saturday, October 21, 2017.


Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

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