Embrace the edit…

I went to the Say the Word poetry slam last night and heard some wonderful work. Some things really spoke to me and I left there with my head lost in thought… so lost I walked out without paying for two drinks. Fortunately, I was rescued (Thanks Sarah!) and now I owe reparation drinks from now until eternity…

I hadn’t been to poetry slam in awhile. I could feel the creativity washing over me, sinking into my pores and I feel like I’ve been kickstarted. I’m not a poet, but I enjoy participating and it benefits my writing. I urge serious writers to go to things like this, if you have the opportunity, and watch your work get even better. If you don’t have the opportunity, create it.

I shared a few things last night, one of which was this haiku…

Haiku 7

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Presentation sells books

framed_bookI once bought a signed print for $400. I could have bought a poster of the same print for $35, so what was it about owning the print that hooked me? I bought the presentation.

The print hung in a nice gallery and was professionally framed with a suede matte. The artist had a large variety of his work on display. He was on hand in person and introduced himself to me as I looked at his work, telling the story behind the image. His personality was warm and articulate. I eagerly bought his work.

Art isn’t limited to work that hangs on a wall, and as authors we have a responsibility to our success to present our work and ourselves in style. I have gone to many book signings to find the author distant and self-important. At other signings I’ve found tables littered with gimmicks and an author that seems willing to almost pay readers for their presence. Both are extreme examples.

Two kinds of people come to book signings. Those that already know you and are coming as fans, and those that are looking for an author encounter. The second set, those looking for an encounter, are who can become your fans. Both sets should be treated like royalty, because for an author, they are.

When we present ourselves publicly, we should strive for presentation worth purchasing. Have an uncluttered table that shows your book(s) off to their advantage. Use real bookends that go with your theme, a nice cloth and avoid handwritten signs on cardboard unless it somehow compliments your work. Let your personal taste and style show through, but tastefully and professional.

You should present yourself in the same manner – professional, friendly and engaging. As a former punk of the 80s, I’ll be the last one to talk down self expression. For creatives, however, there is an important choice to be made. Do we want our art to be brilliant, or ourselves? A flamboyant look can discourage potential readers from approaching.

There’s also the matter of creative energy. It’s a renewable resource, but not bottomless. Spending hours scheming up a new, magnificent look is hours spent away from creating writing. It seems I see two kinds of creative producers – those that produce lasting work and those that produce their own image. Flaubert has one of my favorite quotes on the subject; “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

An author is an author 24/7. At any given moment we may be meeting a potential fan or the friend of a potential fan. We don’t write books to be rich and famous – there are too many easier ways besides scribbling. We write books because we desire to be read. Make sure your presentation adds value to your work rather than detract from it, and become the cover your book is positively judged by.

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Why Do I #*^&%$@* Blog?!?

Art-egeddon“Why Do I #*^&%$@* blog?!?” 

I came home tonight after a long and insane day at the paper. This last week at work I’ve done the graphics and layout for a 32 page publication along with the usual two newspapers.

I laid out my section (layout, Photoshopping, writing cutlines), wrote two stories, went to three extra activities on my own time to get photos, organized two calendars, answered countless emails… that was 40+ hours of the week.

Then I came home to make dinner, walk a dog, try to exercise, wash laundry, clean everything I just cleaned yesterday, pay bills, balance accounts, work on my own writing project, answer countless emails… and that’s another 30+ hours a week. That’s not even counting the weekend scramble. Usually, I love it. Then something happens, like tonight, and I find myself asking, “Why Do I #*^&%$@* blog?!?”

I came home an hour late tonight, did an errand on the way, walked the dog, finished a writing project for someone and I thought I’d squeeze in tomorrow’s blog post before making dinner. I’d thought about it on the walk with the dog and I was excited to write about perceived value and selling books.

I sat at the Mac and started tapping away. All was going well and I was nearing the end, all points wrapped up neatly with a bow and ready to be delivered… when a message pops up telling me I’ve been logged out. Of course I hadn’t saved a draft. Bottom line, all the work I really didn’t have time to lose was lost. That’s when I wonder if this is worth it.

Why blog? Google that query and thousands of answers pop up, all praising the art of the blog. I started this blog because I was leaving the country and I wanted to have one place I could always share what was going on with anyone who cared. A year later, when I published my first book, it became my author platform.

Daily blogging takes up a lot of time and effort. I have seven posts to consider each week. Seven ways to be engaging and bring value to the internet… it takes time away from other things I want to write, like books. If I’m not thinking about a blog post, I’m probably working on one. I squeeze in time wherever I can to work. Then I watch one evaporate into cyberspace without even a wink. I’m not angry often, but that’s when loudly and emphatically I ask, “Why Do I #*^&%$@* blog?!?”

I ask the question, but I know the answer. I #*^&%$@* blog because I enjoy it. A blog is a writer’s playground where I get to be boss. I can experiment here and get feedback. Because of overwhelmingly positive response to The Woman Walked stories I’m now doing a collection like that. It started as midnight play and became a new book. That’s why I blog.

As Dandilyon Fluff and I move closer to our five year anniversary together, I realize we are becoming comfortable. The blog knows that when it utterly annoys me, like tonight, I will remain faithful. And for the most part, it does its best not to annoy me.

I do find comfort in faith. The days when I ask myself “Why Do I #*^&%$@* blog?!?” are the days that I have to believe that somewhere, between the sunrise and rainbow’s end, there is a special place for lost blog posts, and they are waiting for me in blog purgatory for me to finally post them.

And that, is why I continue to #*^&%$@* blog.

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Learning Chinese?

Celebrating Chinese New Year at Niceville High School

Celebrating Chinese New Year at Niceville High School

Last week I was invited to celebrate Chinese New Year. Other then working for a Chinese woman years ago and having a Chinese neighbor, I know little about the culture.

A successful businessman spoke a few words before the celebration started. To sum it up, he pointed out that China is the second most important trading partner with the U.S., and that the Chinese population is growing far faster than any other right now.

The entire presentation, put together by Niceville High School’s Chinese program, was well done and I was impressed not only by their second language competency but how original and interesting the show was. When I watched a bunch of second grade ‘special guests’ perform a Chinese song I decided it may be time to learn to speak Chinese myself, especially since I can finally talk to my neighbor then.

Mr. Smith and I have decided to learn together, and we will probably go with the Rosetta Stone program. Anyone have any experience with this? Advice and suggestions welcome…

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Bearing fruit…

Haiku 6

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When faced with empty pages…

Haiku 5

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Celebrate: Haiku

This week I’m celebrating:

1. Haiku! I’m having so much fun with these little, literary nuggets :)

2. First archery tourney of the year is tomorrow – excited to see how much worse I’ve gotten over the winter.

3. Got invited to a Chinese New Year celebration yesterday. I had so much fun, learned some interesting new things and got great photos. I think I may try to learn Chinese as a second language.

4. Artful Things in Niceville is now carrying paperback copies of The Christmas Spiders!

What are you celebrating?

Here is todays Writer Haiku…

Haiku 4

Celebrate blog hopToday’s post is part of the Celebrate the Small Things Blog Hop hosted by Lexa Cain, L.G. Keltner at Writing Off The Edge and Katie at TheCyborgMom.

Celebrate the Small Things: To be part of this blog hop, all you have to do is put your name on the linky list and then post every Friday about something you’re grateful  for that week.  It can be about writing or family or school or general life.  (Originated by VikLit)

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Writer haiku

Haiku 3

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A haiku hiatus

Haiku 2Daily blogging isn’t easy – especially when I have books to finish, boys, work, working out… yesterday when my long, and detailed post vanished it was a blessing in disguise. I still had to muster something, so I tried a haiku, and liked it.

I love haiku because it forces an economy of words. Typically haiku has a natural theme and follows a pattern of three lines, the first with five syllables, the second with seven and the third is back to five. It’s not immensely popular as a literary form, but there is something meditative about it that I appreciate.

Yesterday’s haiku gave me an idea. I could do a series of haiku based on writer wisdom and, with the extra time, actually get some of my writing done. I’m pairing the haiku with photos I’ve taken so it’s a fun visual project as well.

So please excuse my haiku hiatus, and enjoy the zen :)

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A Hero Haiku

I had a long and wonderful post tonight, but apparently it wasn’t meant to be and vanished into cyberspace. Too tired to rewrite it, I give you a haiku instead.Hero Haiku

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