A Rose By Any Other Name Is Still A Flower

There's a part of me that hate going to writer's conferences and groups. There's a lot of advice and egos that I don't like surrounding myself with, having to deal with a lot of that at work and the corporate structure already takes bland to the next level.

Do I look smaht?

Do I look smaht?

In saying that, I do go every once in a while to see if the are good publishing ideas I can leech. There was this self published writer who puts out books several times a year and from what he says, which I took with many pinches of salt, then drank a cup of seawater from the Pacific, is doing alright. A woman had asked a question and that guy jumped on her, stating that you shouldn't call your book your baby: it's a product. You're writing a product, marketing a product, and ultimately selling a product.

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Don't touch me there

Don't touch me there

I watched the movie PRECIOUS, a movie based on the book PUSH. Afterward, what I love to do is watch the special features on the DVD. The author of the book, Ramona Loftin, Sapphire, was hesitant on letting her book go, her baby as she affectionately called it, to be made into a movie. If this guy jumped on her for calling her book her baby, I think she would have tore him a new hole to go along with the one that expelled all that hot air.

I know several very successful self-help authors who call every book their baby. They would be a little bit more enlightened when it comes to this, but it doesn't take away from the fact that some writers, not this guy whose ego jumped in his way, just care about their projects. And why wouldn't they? Many of us put our hearts and souls into our work because its a work of art. And if we are to believe the famed photographer, Rodney Lough, art is the language of the soul.

Praise da lawd for Da Vinci didn't write da bible

Praise da lawd for Da Vinci didn't write da bible

Chancing on another writer's group with the subject on self publishing, I heard an architect turned writer state that the DA VINCI CODE was a horrible book. Then the leader of the group said the publishing world publishes things like HARRY POTTER like it was a bad thing.

Oh mah lawd.

So there are two things going on here. On the one hand, the guy with a lot of hot air has a point, artists who want to make it big in the big world of big business has to think like a business person. No doubt. And artists who want to make it big have to create works that are commercial, meaning that the babies we're creating can be sold as a product.

Wow...there's a lot of Asians in this movie. Odd for Hollywood

Wow...there's a lot of Asians in this movie. Odd for Hollywood

I remember watching a documentary about how Asians are portrayed in Hollywood. And Justin Lin who directed the new up coming FAST AND FURIOUS movie was one of the featured subjects, given that he's Asian and works in Hollywood and took a huge chance by making the amazing BETTER LUCK TOMORROW, an Asian-cast movie. Yah. When he was in film school, he saw both sides of the fence: film makers who were pure artists, stating they would never sell out, and those who were willing to sell out. Lin said something that I'd never forget, the only thing I thought worth remembering from that documentary: it's hard to sell out.

So as writers, we have to determine what we want out of our projects, which can vary. Do we want to do it for the fun of it, do we want some mid level success, or do we want the whole freakin' world to read it? Since we cannot control what happens, we see evidence of this in the industry since no one really knows what makes a best seller, I suggest do it because you find it fun, do it because you have something to say, do it for whatever reason that gets you to write, but do it if you want and let the world decide if they want to read it.

Are You Honest?

A couple of weeks ago I'd met up with a friend I hadn't talked to for over a decade. He used to be an instructor at the martial arts school I'd taught at. Read about my opinions about that in my bio. bruce_lee_head

We're both writers and we'd talked about writing the story that calls to us. With all the vampiric stories that are being churned both in the publishing and film industry, I don't blame people for jumping on the band wagon.  But the point of being an artist is to express your soul.  And if your soul says write a vampire story, then write a vampire story.

When it comes to finding out what you want to do with your life, what story should be written, what path you should take, you need to be honest with yourself.  How do you be honest with yourself?

First of all, are you honest with other people? I'm not talking about being a saint, never telling lies, never doing anything wrong. Were human. But do you care about what other people say about you? Do care about what other people think about you? Do you put all your stock in your status in life?

Why is this important?

Because any of this, namely your ego, can block your true self.  You become motivated by the things that seem important--the size of your house, the German car in your massive garage, the name brand clothes you wear, the title of your job, bottled water.  Do these things matter?  That's for you to decide.  Do they matter when it comes toexpressing yourself honestly? No.

When I went to the San Francisco Writers Conference, Richard Paul Evans, one of the keynote speakers said something that really hit home. Especially since he's a New York Times bestselling author.  He said write your truth.  Don't hop on the bandwagon. Don't be a follower.  Lead by leading.

Bruce Lee said the same thing. Honestly express yourself.

Look at the things that you're drawn to.  Do you love music?  Any particular kind?  Try that out.  Do you love software programming?  Try that out.  Do you love selling?  If you have an affinity for houses, maybe you should be a real estate agent.  Or if you love helping people get healthier, maybe you should try physical therapy, personal training, nursing.

Is there a common theme that runs throughout your life?

For me, I've always loved stories.  And I always loved fantasizing, putting myself in action movie roles, imagining what it would be like to be betrayed by a close friend, finding myself in a fantasy land where I'm a warlord.  Since my sophomore year, I've tried to write novels.  But when it came to deciding a major in college, I never thought of majoring in English or creative writing.  Why?  I'm not sure.  Maybe the things I had to go through as a person lent itself to writing the series of novels that I'm writing now.

I'm not angry about it.  Nor do I judge it.  I realize that I have stories to be told, and I'm telling them.

Literary Agents Are People, Too

Today, I’ve uploaded my second favorite lecture from the San Francisco Writer’s Conference.  It’s not a lecture but a panel of literary agents from fiction to non-fiction, from Christian literature to inspirational.

We were allowed to ask questions on what they wanted to see in books, how to submit queries, synopsis, and they talked about platforms and self-publishing.  All of it will give you a glimpse into what they’re looking for.

I do want to warn you that a hyena sat next to me who didn’t have the most pleasant of breath.  Imagine me sitting, and every time you hear him laugh, his fiery breath singed the left side of my face.  However, it didn’t take away from what I learned.

The surprising thing about the whole experience is that the answers to some of these questions varied widely.  Amazingly, agents are just like people.  So finding the right agent is just a matter of sifting through all the wrong ones.  For most successful authors, they tend to stick with their agents for a long time.  Again it’s just a testament that perseverance is vital in the achievement of our dreams.

And the other thing that I learned from the whole conference is how much of an author’s success rests in the author’s hand.  One person went as far to state that 90% of our success sits with us.  If you're curious to how, go to my posts on Brenda Novak and Branding.

agent-panel-part-1

agent-panel-part-2

agent-panel-part-3

Branding...The Stuff that Makes Cows Go Moo

Can you imagine taking a red hot metal 7 and sticking it on your supple skin for a few seconds, so that  can be displayed till the day you die?  Much like tattoos. I love tattoos and have a couple.  Anyone have them?  It took me five years to decide on my first one.  My friend and I stayed up all night designing it on the computer.  The next day we were going to go to a car show.  But before we'd arrived, I went to a tattoo shop, slapped the print out down, pointed to my arm, and said, "I want this here."

The tattoo artist looked at the picture we spent hours on and simply said, "That's not going to work."

Man!

My hopes for a tattoo flushed down the toilet.  He asked me what I wanted.

"Just an armband, but I want it to frame two Chinese characters for Inner Strength." It's part of the tattoo culture in my book, where family emblems are framed by the arm band. The idea was spawned by Superman.

"Hmmm."  The guy straightened his glasses, tightened his headband, took a pen and quickly sketched on the back of my print out.  It took him like ten seconds.  "I think this is what you're looking for."

"Yeah!"  And damn.  That was quick.  That was about ten years ago.  And I still love it.  Inner strength. Not surprisingly, it's a theme that the 7th Province explores.

Below, you'll see an an audio to a woman who did a lecture on branding.  Talk about inner strength.  This woman exuded serious determination, passion and confidence.  Her name is Philippa Burgess.  Check her out at www.creativecvg.com.

I've broken up the 42 minute audio into three parts. Feel free to download them. She was part of the San Francisco Writer's Conference.

branding-part-1

branding-part-2

branding-part-3

Richard Paul Evans Key Note

Richard Paul Evans is a New York Times Bestselling author.  His first book is called The Christmas Box. His subsequent books - Grace:  A Novel, The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me About Life and Wealth, The Last Promise - just to name a few, have also gone on the best seller list.  His keynote speech at the San Francisco Writer's Conference was awesome. He discusses what he did to get his book out to the world.  Richard was cool enough to tell a few other stories.  Some were touching and others funny.  He also  gave some inspiring advice to us authors.  I highly recommend listening him.

richard-paul-evans

Tell me what you think.  Please forgive the poor recording.  All three hundred of us were having lunch.

Tomorrow, I'll upload a lecture about branding.

San Francisco Writer's Conference

The San Francisco Writer's Conference was my first writer's conference. I didn't know how things worked, but the conference was held over three days full of lectures. The crappy thing about it was several lectures were going on within each hour session. So I had to make a decision on which lecture to attend. Because this was my first conference, I really wanted to focus on the business aspect of publishing. Over the next week or so, I'm going to post a lecture for you to listen everyday. So come back and check on what I've uploaded. Each one is about 45 minutes long, giving the attendees enough time to go to the next lecture.

The first one I'm going to upload is a lecture by best selling suspense romance novelist Brenda Novak. Her trilogy, The Last Stand: Trust Me, Stop Me, Watch Me, has become New York Time Bestsellers. She talks about strategies she's used to make her more visible and credible before her first book was published.

Please feel free to download these. I apologize for the quality of the audio, but there was a lot of ambient noise. The format of the file is .caf, but you should be able to play them using Windows Media Player or Quicktime. Tell me what you think, and come back as I will upload others.

brenda_novak-1

brenda_novak-2

What you can expect in future audio uploads from the conference:

Key Note speeches from best selling authors

Body Language

How to write plot summaries

Self-publishing

Branding tactics

Q&A with Agent panels for both fiction and non-fiction

Lecture from a top agent, Donal Maass