I understand that you have a busy life. Perhaps you have kids, perhaps you have a demanding job that barely allows you to make ends meet. I get that, believe me I do. So when I ask for you to participate with me in the creative, I understand how you might be skeptical. Bear with me.

You see, I never really understood what participating meant until I decided to become a full-time writer. It means so much more than just encouraging that ‘weird artist friend’ who writes, or paints, makes music or acts, to continue doing what they do. That is encouraging them. That is very important understand, but it is not participating with them in the creative.

It is true that artists, no matter their medium, do what they do because they have a passion for creating. However, part of that creative process involves those who experience the creation, the audience, you.
To be a part of the creative process is easy. Read a book. Listen to music. Go to an art show and look at the works. And then tell the creator what you thought of it. I can’t empathize this enough. It is by feedback that artists work and live. If you love what we are doing tell us so, if you hate it, tell us that too so we can do it better. Think you can write, sing, or paint, ‘if only you had the time’? Than do that! You might be surprised at what you can do, and a more welcoming group than the society of creators I venture to say you won’t find.

Tell your friends about what you read or what you are listening to. In this networking age, it’s very easy to do, and is way more important than you might believe. Remember, we work and live by what feedback we get, and the more participation the better. And oh yes, buy what we create. Not only is that the best feedback ever, but it is by that single act alone that we are able to create more.

So when you want five minutes to yourself and pick up that new romance writer, or reach the end of a long day and want to zoo out with that new music you just bought, smile, because you helped create that. A culture only gets the Art it participates in.

The Unsung joys of being a writer part 2

ARCGreetings Gentle Readers,

If you remember, when last we left , I was slogging through the proofs of my soon-to-be-printed novel Wind Dancer, while also dealing with an unpleasant case of this weird bug that is going around the Puget Sound. Tonight, there comes a knock at the door and a shining, bouncing, baby Advance Reading Copy is left on my doorstep. It looks beautiful.  I am sure that to other authors this is old hat, I confess that even though I have two other novels published, I am old-fashioned enough that  holding my first print-copy  book is,  well, let’s just say  I am over the moon! Suddenly, it all seems very real. You will be able to buy a print copy on Amazon within the next couple of weeks, so they tell me. You can get a digital copy from Amazon now.

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the unsung joys of being a writer

Wind Dancer proofsSee these? Those pages are called  galley proofs, or uncorrected proofs in this digital age, and are one of the final stages before your work is printed. After spending many hours going over these pages for any errors in spelling and grammar, as well as errors in print style and composition, these pages are then submitted electronically to be bound with a cover into the penultimate version called an advance reading copy, which must then be approved by both the author and the publisher before being printed for distribution.

This is also the very last point at which you, as the author,  get to correct any mistakes you find in the manuscript. Even if you have done all this before for a digital version, you must do it again,  because mistakes cost money and time in printing, and make everyone very unhappy. So no pressure on this.  They also marks an important milestone for any author, as it means that your work is going to be turned into that ancient holiest-of-holies, a printed book. So, I am very excited for Wind Dancer all over again!

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Research and writing

Research for writing is my idea of fun. You get to spend hours exploring different places and times. For example in the Owen Strong series, doing research lead me to understand that the higher up you travel from the sea-level harbor in Hong Kong, the cooler the climate, leading to the wealthy and the ruling classes making their homes on what became know as Government Hill. Placing the Dragon’s cave on top of Government Hill then became interesting.

In the same way, when I needed a real place to have the dragon hold clandestine meetings away from the top of the Hill, I learned about Hong Kong Park, and had him be responsible for it’s creation, showing to the reader the depth of the dragons political power, as well as his own vanity, that he would have this enormous park created solely for his pleasure.

We’re lucky now in that the internet is our friend, giving every writer the resources of a well stocked University library. Grounding the work in research makes the storytelling much more enjoyable for the writer, and I hope it makes the world more interesting for the reader as well.