27 September 2011

Festival Fun

Original Festival poster created by Lorin Morgan-Richards
The 2011 West Coast Eisteddfod - Festival of Welsh Arts is over. It was three days of concerts, competition, booth manning, and hobnobbing with fellow Cymru-philes.

The best thing about festivals is the relaxed atmosphere. Everyone is there to have fun, look at everything, and eat. Delicious Welsh food abounded, from Welshcakes (little pancake-like sweets) to fish & chips to lamb cawl (stew) and curry. Generally, folks go walk around first, see what is for sale, what might be for free, and what they can afford. Welsh corgis paraded through the grounds, gorgeous little dwarf dogs (that's what "cor gi" means in Welsh) full of confidence five times their size. A giant Ddraig Goch strolled through now and then, his handler warning festival goers to mind their sheep and children, though I only saw him bite a couple of heads (including mine). A Pirate Bar sold mead, ale, and wine. Sir Nathan's Red Dragon Lemonade Stand provided the delicious beverage and shaved ices. Nathan is one incredible young man, and I am honored to have met him. His stand raises money for children like himself diagnosed with cancer: http://www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/73333.
Wishing you all good things, Nathan!

Tile and promo materials for "Cactus Cymry"
I saw some gorgeous artwork and shirts by Jan Delyth, Celtic knotwork at a number of booths, and beautiful ceramic tiles by Illite-ful Images. Check out the incredible Celtic knot designs and other works of beauty on their site. They created a customized tile for my nonfiction book due to be released this fall by Anaphora Literary Press. --->

But the best thing about festivals such as this one is the interaction with talented and creative people. I met a wonderful storyteller named Peter Freeman, the aforementioned Jan Delyth, and "The Voice of Welsh Rugby" Paul Child. Finally coming face to face with people you've only chatted with online or emailed is a delicious experience: you already know each other so it's like a homecoming. BBC producer and author Jon Gower and I have emailed one another for seven-plus years and finally met during Saturday's lectures. Americymru folks Ceri Shaw and Gaabriel Becket, Lorin Morgan-Richards, Swansea Jack, Tarw Lloyd, Margo Lloyd Beckham (married to David, but no not that one lol), and the effervescent Mona Everett made those  "okay I'm here now what" awkward moments evaporate with smiles of recognition.

Rae, Jude & Lety and a poster for "That silly Dolphin movie."
Even better is attending a festival with dear friends who are game for standing in line for hours to watch Craig Ferguson's show taping [where Morgan Freeman made fun of his "Dolphin Tale" movie and we got to see Gerard Butler in real life], throw impromptu poolside wine parties, find cheap Hollywood home tours, and share The Best Cosmic Gnocchi Ever. My "minions"-- Rae and Lety--hauled books, set up, packed, tolerated plane delays, and shared laughs all weekend long.  And now that I have blackmail material...ahem. You guys are the best. Seriously.

These are the times that nourish an author's soul. Thanks, everyone.

P.S. If you'd like to see an album of photos, here you go: Jude's 2011 West Coast Eisteddfod Album.

18 September 2011

Finding Encouragement

"Do you ever feel already buried deep? Six feet under, screams, but no one seems to hear a thing?"
 ~ Katy Perry, Firework

Some days I swear I'm Clara Peller in that old "Where's the Beef?" commercial: "I don't think there's anybody back there." Announcements, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, trailers, tweets---sometimes you honestly have to wonder if it's worth all the time invested when you don't get feedback.

"Where's the Beef? I don't think there's anybody back there..."
That's when a live event can really boost your spirits. Interacting the Old Fashioned Way: face to face. Sales can be good, great, or flat, but chatting with folks can bring all sorts of inspiration. Especially the folks who march to their own different music. I'm amazed at the variety abounding in the human race.

Example: Yesterday I participated in the TAWN Fall Fest with two other Gecko Gals Ink authors. I took it as a good sign when I sold a set of my three novels while I was still setting up. There were young, old, singles, couples, and families. Some had incredibly detailed tattoo work, some had piercings all over. There were old, young, and middles. One amazingly intelligent man stopped by to chat. At first look, most would have pegged him as a rough and worn biker dude maybe battling drug addiction. But no, he's a professor of ancient history and world religions who has lived in Southeast Asia for a few decades helping Habitat for Humanity. An extremely articulate man, I would like to sit in on a few of his lectures, listen to what he's seen and observed of different cultures. He enthused about how the common themes in world religions could be traced to the ancient Persians, and it started me thinking about what a great character he would make in a story.

I saw a colleague I hadn't seen in probably twenty years and we chatted amiably, catching up. Then I went to check out one of the other vendors, a wonderful local custom tile designer who had many Celtic symbols and sayings on colorful tiles of all shapes and sizes. I had purchased a few of her tiles before to donate to raffles for the Welsh League and for gifts. Don't we get to chatting and she mentions she will also be at the 2011 West Coast Eisteddfod in Los Angeles this coming weekend? We were both quite excited and have decided to collaborate on some custom designs that she will bring to LA. I'll add some to goodie bags for folks who purchase my series set. Win-win!

I came away feeling energized and reaffirmed. Yes I sold a few books, which was great, but the recharging effect also came from interaction with other human beings.

Sure I'll continue my involvement with social media. You have to these days. But real interaction sure beats Tweets.

10 September 2011

Saturation month

I didn't plan this well. I didn't plan it at all.  But September is one packed month!

Starting tomorrow it's my giveaway week on The Writers Vineyard, and here's what you can win:

1). Be the first person to answer the trivia question correctly and win a print copy of Dragon & Hawk.

2)  Be the second person to answer the trivia question correctly and you'll win a little goodie bag of surprises.

* [Unfortunately, these first two prizes are limited to the US & Canada due to postage rates, sorry.]

3). Click to "Follow" The Writers Vineyard blog and you'll be entered for a drawing to receive a free PDF of my short historical fantasy, Within The Mists.

Also starting Monday, September 12th I will have seven consecutive days of interviews on Novelspot's Behind the Scenes blog about my experiences becoming a writer--the ups, downs, twists, and serendipity that have brought me to this point. It hasn't been an easy ride.

There are a number of Champagne Authors interviewed so far on Behind The Scenes --such as Carol Costa, Ashley Barnard, Linda LaRoque and many wonderful others-- so please check out their journeys as well. And feel free to email me with feedback. My email's in the upper right corner. Or send me a Tweet or a Facebook comment.

And then there are the events: Saturday September 17th I'll be with Carol Costa at TAWN Fall Fest at the UU Church of Tucson, 4831 East 22nd Street (just east of Swan), from 9AM until 7PM.

Friday, September 23 through Sunday September 25 I'll be in Los Angeles at the 2011 West Coast Eisteddfod, a Festival of all things Welsh at the Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. This promises to be an incredible event, with concerts Friday night involving Paul Child (The Voice of Welsh Rugby) and the Tom Jones tribute band, Sexbomb. All outdoor events on Saturday and Sunday are free, and I'll be speaking /reading on Sunday at 2PM so if you're in LA come on down!

04 September 2011

Contest at The Writers Vineyard

Starting Monday, September 5, the Champagne Authors of The Writers Vineyard will celebrate the blog's Fourth Anniversary with a huge Giveaway Contest! This is your chance to check out some of the coolest books available, from sci-fi and fantasy to action and intrigue to historical romance:

Contest! To celebrate our fourth year, the authors at The Writers' Vineyard are holding a Mega contest to give away over twenty of their top rated novels. From Sept 5 through Nov 28, we will be holding a drawing once a week. The Monday post at TheWritersVineyard.com will announce which book is being given for that week, the rules, and who won from the previous week. Come join us. Lots of ways to win, and while you're there, scan through our posts. We discuss the good, bad, and ugly of writing and the publishing experience.

All you have to do is check out the blog. Some of the giveaways will involve answering a trivia question from an author's website, some will only entail clicking on the "Follow" button, but each week will be a different challenge with a different prize from each author.  Print copies as well as ebooks will be awarded so check it out starting Monday.

My week starts September 12th when visitors to the blog can win either a print copy of my historical Welsh Western ("Welsh-tern"?) Dragon & Hawk,  an ebook of my short historical fantasy, Within The Mists, or even a wee grab bag o' goodies.