Saturday, December 29, 2012

Working for a living: Women in the Arts, V

   What is the name of your business and what do you tell other people you do?
  My name is Linda Mercury, and I am a writer. 

   When did you know it was time to stop treating your art as a hobby and start it as a career?
On September 11, 2011, I went to work in the Children's section of the Hillsboro Public Library. My fellow librarians and I were talking about the attacks when I said something intelligent (hey, it happens now and again) about Islam. When she asked how I knew that, I replied that my first Master's degree was in Middle Eastern History. In the year following, I contributed to a book she was editing. During this process, I realized that my childhood dream of writing was not silly, was possible, and that I had things to contribute to making the world a better place.
It felt like coming home.


   What are some of the aspects of your job that people don’t see? For example, most people don’t understand how much marketing is done by the authors themselves instead of a publisher, and most audience members don’t see how costumes and props are designed/chosen.
I enjoy having a flexible schedule. Sometimes, people will see that I'm going to a museum or taking a nap and think that writing is easy. It's not. I'm constantly at work, no matter what I'm doing.
 
   Who inspired/inspires you on those inevitable rough days?'
My Beloved, the Charming Man. The women I've interviewed for this series. Michael Baxter, the brilliant photographer. All the writers out there getting their words down. And, of course, Cherry Adair, who tells you to Finish the Damn Book!
   Name a few of your current projects. For example, conferences, publicity, design process, what you have for sale. This question is a chance to meander or talk in greater depth if you’d like. Here you can talk about what hobbies you pursue, how you refresh your well of ideas, what you would recommend to other women interested in a career in the arts.

Dracula Unleashed, the third book in my Blood Wings series, comes out on March  21, 2013. 

I'm currently writing a synopsis for a fourth book in the series I'm going to submit to my editor at Kensington. Also, I'm participating in the nine-part New Year Resolutions blog tour that starts on the 1st.

As for advice? If you want to write a book, do it! Don't worry about making it Perfect or The Kind of Book People Will Study in School. Just get the damn thing out of your head and on paper. Let it suck!

Then, you get in there and edit, edit, edit.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Working for a Living: Women in the Arts IV



Ladies and gentlemen, meet the multi-talented Jessa Slade, author of the Marked Souls series.

1.      What is the name of your business and what do you tell other people you do? (such as author, teacher, designer)

Hello, I’m Jessa Slade, and I’m an author. (This sounds like a 12-step program intro, except I use my last name because I’m dying for people to know how word-addicted I am.) When people ask what I do, I say I am a writer. I say writer instead of author because I like to emphasize the verb part. I’m a writer when I write. That’s the part I control. Technically, I suppose you could say I control the author part too, now that I am self published, but personally, I consider the author part of myself subject to the whims of being read. And that part I can’t control. Sadly!

2.      When did you know it was time to stop treating your art as a hobby and start it as a career?

When I got paid! That sounds a little mercenary, doesn’t it? I guess I’m going by the IRS’s definition :) I’ve always written with the intent of being read, and until that happened, I wasn’t ready to call myself an author, which is the career part. But to be honest, I didn’t make that many changes moving from writer to author. The deadlines are more deadly :) but the work is pretty much the same: words on the page, one after the other.

3.      What are some of the aspects of your job that people don’t see? For example, most people don’t understand how much marketing is done by the authors themselves instead of a publisher, and most audience members don’t see how costumes and props are designed/chosen.

I did a booksigning at the Powell’s Books at the Portland International Airport with a couple other authors, and I was surprised how many people were surprised we were authors! I mean, we were sitting at tables surrounded by our books next to a sign that said Meet The Authors, and yet when we said we were the authors, people invariably said, “You’re the authors?” in simultaneous tones of surprise, pleasure and suspicion. Apparently we did not look like authors! I wonder what would have convinced people.

Most people don’t see the hours that go into writing a book. Nathaniel Hawthorne said “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” I suspect most people think writing is easy because all of us learn our alphabet from our very earliest years, so how hard could it be, stringing those same 26 letters together over a blank page? (Insert maniacal laughter here.)

4.      Who inspired/inspires you on those inevitable rough days?

I belong to a great romance writers’ organization, Romance Writers of America. The women and men in my local chapter are a fabulous source of inspiration and energy. There is always someone querying or getting published, just starting or just finishing a book, touring blogs or going off-line to concentrate. Seeing that constantly ebb and flow of mindful effort, excitement, determination, and passion helps keep me going when the works aren’t going.

5.      Name a few of your current projects. For example, conferences, publicity, design process, what you have for sale.
 

For the holiday season, I published a Christmas novella in my Marked Souls demonic possession series. (What? Christmas and demons go together like children and lots of sugar.) THE DARKEST NIGHT is about two lost souls finding each other at the darkest time of the year. Also, the second book in my Steel Born dark fairy series, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSE, is out in January. I’m currently working on the second book in my science fiction romance anthology series and the third book of the Steel Born. I gotta write faster!

6. (OPTIONAL)   This question is a chance to meander or talk in greater depth if you’d like. Here you can talk about what hobbies you pursue, how you refresh your well of ideas, what you would recommend to other women interested in a career in the arts, or just anything you'd like other people to know.

I truly believe in the power of a creative outlet to change for the better the way we live, think and love. I don’t doubt that entropy is out to get us, and our only way to battle the inevitable chaos is to create. Whether that’s writing, music, painting, sewing, cooking, gardening, or compiling supercuts of cute baby animal videos, find the thing you love and share it with the universe. The universe is waiting for your art!

You can find me online at:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2013 New Year's Resolutions!

Starting January 1st, eight other romance bloggers will be posting a nine part, cross blog series of articles on various resolutions for the new year.



Here is our schedule!

THE RESOLUTION TOUR - January 1 - 9, 2013

Maggie Jaimeson - Take a Vacation
Jessa Slade - Get Organized
Paty Jager - Volunteerism
Linda Mercury - Creating a Literary (or Creative) Life
Jenna Bayley-Burke - Eat Healthier
Cassiel Knight - No More Procrastination
Cathryn Cade - Take Time for those OTHER Creative Passions
Su Lute - Reduce Stress: Find and Follow Your Bliss
Jamie Brazil - Shrink My Closet

Each of us will be hosting essays written by the others on each theme. So head's up, everyone. The New Year is coming in with a bang.





Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Holiday Post

I always wanted to write a profound and meaningful holiday essay, something full of warm wisdom, insight, and cheery wit.

There is only one thing that truly says everything that is wonderful.


"Be excellent to each other."


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Working for a Living: Women in the Arts III

Today's Woman in the Arts is Master Dancer, Saqra of Kent, Washington.


Voted "Best Kept Secret of 2005" and "Instructor of the Year 2008" by Zaghareet Magazine, Saqra has over thirty years of experience as a teacher, choreographer, and festival producer. The depth and breadth of her knowledge on Middle Easter dance history and folklore is unmatched.

1.    What is the name of your business and what do you tell other people you do? (such as author, teacher, designer)

Saqra -- Bellydance Performer & Instructor
2.    When did you know it was time to stop treating your art as a hobby and start it as a career?
I treated it like a career from the beginning, but I found it necessary to run two full-time businesses at the same time to be able to afford to do it.
3. What are some of the aspects of your job that people don’t see? For example, most people don’t understand how much marketing is done by the authors themselves instead of a publisher, and most audience members don’t see how costumes and props are designed/chosen.
The constant networking, glad handing, playing nice, and doing your best to be friendly to absolutely everyone no matter your mood or beliefs ... people definitely don't see that. They can guess at the practice... creating performances from costuming to execution... junk like accounting, but they never realize how important it is to network.

A decent dancer with a great network will stomp the heck out of a magnificent dancer without one, career-wise.

4. Who inspired/inspires you on those inevitable rough days?
Jim Beam. Totally KIDDING!

I really just dig deep.... I know I made this bed so I better get my butt out of it and do something. I CHOSE this. But my family was in business and I've been around small businesses all my life. You can waste a little bit of time whining, but then you have to go do something about what you are complaining about.

It would be nice to have someone to look up to and be inspired, but most of the people I know have eventually given up. My stubbornness makes me get up and look at what other are doing and try and out-think them.
  This question is a chance to meander or talk in greater depth if you’d like. Here you can talk about what hobbies you pursue, how you refresh your well of ideas, what you would recommend to other women interested in a career in the arts, or just anything you'd like other people to know.
If you want a career in the arts you better be ready to not be constantly praised, appreciated, considered the best, or wealthy. You better be ready to be criticized because the value of the arts are subjective. And around the corner is someone with a chip on their shoulder and the belief that only their way is the right one.

A career in the arts is not a place for sissies... or for people who are just feeling compelled to express themselves. A career is a BUSINESS.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Working for a living: Women in the Arts, II

Today's guest is Grace Constantine, dancer, author, landscape architect, and all around amazing person. Please welcome Grace!

1.What is the name of your business and what do you tell other people you do? 
(such as author, teacher, designer)

I'm Grace Constantine, belly dance performer and teacher, and director of 
theatrical fusion troupe Deviant Dance Company.

2.When did you know it was time to stop treating your art as a hobby and start 
it as a career?

I have no idea, I just woke up one day and I was a belly dancer! For me there 
has not been much of a difference between hobby and career. Dance has always 
been more than a hobby to me, it has been a deeply important part of my spirit 
since I was a child, and even as a hobbyist I approached my projects with a 
professional level of care. Early on, I made the conscious decision not to 
pursue a living with this artform. I did not want my creative process to be 
affected by the need to support myself on a daily basis--essentially, I wanted 
my life in dance to be pure joy, to remain unsullied by monetary concern. 
However, my interest and passion has only grown as years have gone by; 
eventually I spent so much time and energy that I suppose a career became 
inevitable, and so here I am.

3.What are some of the aspects of your job that people don’t see? For example, 
most people don’t understand how much marketing is done by the authors 
themselves instead of a publisher, and most audience members don’t see how 
costumes and props are designed/chosen.

Probably most folks have no understanding of how much time in the weeks or 
months before an event goes into working out logistics with event promoters, 
venues, musicians, lighting, staging, etc. to make sure that everything comes 
together for the audience. I spend a good deal of time every day communicating 
about these things. Every event is unique, and many have very different needs. I 
often work with live musicians, and this adds another needed element of 
communication. Many events have a theme, or a specific audience that requires a 
certain type of performance. Behind-the-scenes concerns also include marketing, 
rehearsal scheduling and arrangements, travel plans for out-of-town events, and 
negotiating contracts. This is all before I get to create lesson plans and 
workshop content; train in the studio; teach classes; and finally design 
performances. Phew!

4.Who inspired/inspires you on those inevitable rough days?

My brilliant students: every time they encounter something new and pick it up as 
if they've always known it, it inspires and re-ignites me! My endlessly talented 
troupemates: they always say 'yes' to my crazy schemes, and then build on them! 
My darling husband: he is always ready with a hug, and makes sure that I eat 
good food, even when I am obsessed with a project!

5.Name a few of your current projects. For example, conferences, publicity, 
design process, what you have for sale.

This month I taught and performed at Columbia University's Middle Eastern Dance Conference--talk about inspiring! My troupe Deviant Dance Company recently added a new member, and we are creating a new piece called 'Song of the Tentacle' to be released in February. Also in February I will be sharing the stage with the Bellydance Superstars when they come to Seattle. I am writing a regular column on the creative process for the new belly dance magazine 'From the Hip', and I am enjoying writing very much. As always, I am teaching a full complement of one-on-one lessons, and planning workshops for the new year.

6. (OPTIONAL)This question is a chance to meander or talk in greater depth if 
you’d like. Here you can talk about what hobbies you pursue, how you refresh 
your well of ideas, what you would recommend to other women interested in a 
career in the arts, or just anything you'd like other people to know.

Advice to women interested in a career in the arts: don't do what everybody else 
is doing. Play! Experiment to find out what you are good at and what you enjoy, 
and explore those things deeply. This is how you will find your strength.

Grace Constantine
www.graceconstantine.com 
www.facebook.com/constantine.grace 

NEWS:
--Latest performance video--Grace at Salon L'Orient 2012:
http://youtu.be/uORzw7QUi58 


--Grace is a staff writer for the brand new 'From the Hip' Magazine!
www.newsfromthehip.com 


Monday, December 17, 2012

Working for a living: Women in the Arts.

Last month, several of my Muses and inspirations kindly agreed to be interviewed. These women have made names for themselves in their chosen field, as well as actually making a career out of their creations.

Please welcome my first interviewee, Kim Sakkara!




1.       What is the name of your business and what do you tell other people you do? (such as author, teacher, designer)

My name is Kim Sakkara and I am an apparel designer. I’m the owner of Sakkara Clothing & Costume, LLC.

 

2.       When did you know it was time to stop treating your art as a hobby and start it as a career?

I’d always considered the idea but wasn’t quite ready to make that leap. I was still in my 20’s and so my main concern was being free to go wherever my creativity took me. I was doing a lot of custom sewing and alterations back then, which I enjoyed. When the economy took that nosedive in 2008, I took a big break and went back to school. Many months later, I woke up one day and really, really missed having that creative outlet. I realized that it was the strongest source of my passion and that I would feel unfilled working for another company.


3.       What are some of the aspects of your job that people don’t see? For example, most people don’t understand how much marketing is done by the authors themselves instead of a publisher, and most audience members don’t see how costumes and props are designed/chosen.

We are part of a very rich and plentiful society that has become accustomed to paying dirt cheap prices for mass produced goods. A lot of people are unaware of the incredible amount of time and labor that goes into creating a single garment for the marketplace, or why Made in the USA goods are more expensive than goods from overseas. They question why that higher cost is on the price tag.

Then there’s the amount of time one spends feeding the social media outlets. But I suppose that is true for all artists and businesses. :)


4.       Who inspired/inspires you on those inevitable rough days?

Sometimes a good album goes a long way. I’ve got my iPod filled with artists like Goldfrapp, Front 242, Massive Attack, Metric, Hossam Ramzy and Natacha Atlas. You know, so I can pretend I live and create in a sexy, futuristic Goth-y belly dance club. :D

5.       Name a few of your current projects. For example, conferences, publicity, design process, what you have for sale.

I’m excited to be working on the next collection, some of which will be available for Spring/Summer 2013, and some of which will be geared for Fall 2013. I’m also looking forward to festival season starting. The Reigning Down on Oregon event in February is the first for 2013. It’s going to be a ton of fun.

Your author proudly wearing her Kim Sakkara custom skirt and gauntlets!2006 Copyright/velvet skirt & gauntlets: Kim Sakkara.  Photo: Lenny Gotter. Model: Linda

 
Kim Sakkara can be found on Twitter as well as her blog and shop.