Thursday, March 29, 2012

New York, Continued

So it's been several days since the Dreamspinner Press Author Workshop ended, but only today do I feel like my head is on straight again.  I spent an extra day in New York to visit family, and as soon as I flew back home, I had to work on some rush freelance work.  Even though I still have some work to finish, at least today I feel like I can work at a regular human pace, rather than a human-on-amphetamines pace.

Some of the highlights from my weekend (and I apologize in advance if I leave out anyone I met, because seriously, EVERYONE was amazing):

-The opening reception
This was the first moment when I got to try putting names to faces.  Of course, the first thing that happened when I walked through the door was Elizabeth introduced herself as "Elizabeth," and I asked "Which Elizabeth?"  Needless to say, I felt like a genius after that.  But she and Ariel immediately made me feel welcome, and Elizabeth passed on some wonderful words from Mara, the art director.

I spent the majority of the first evening talking to Connie Bailey (awesomeness embodied), B.G. Thomas (such a sweetheart!), and Elizabeth's truly amazing oldest son who is wise beyond his years but also incredibly fun.  There was an open bar with wine and beer, but Connie was awesome enough to provide vodka cranberries for those of us who like the foofy mixed drinks.  I learned that she was also an artist, which I should have guessed because we seemed to share a wavelength.  I was also very excited to talk to Eden Winters and P.D. Singer, two more amazing and gracious people.

I was already in trouble at this point, running on three hours of sleep and loading up on the booze.  I learned that if a fancy waiter man holds out a tray of hors d'oeuvres and you only take a plastic sword-shaped toothpick while refusing the food, you will get a dirty look.

-Friday/Workshop Day
So much helpful information was shared!  Elizabeth knows her stats backwards and forward, and it was great to be able to hear about Dreamspinner's successful history.  Hearing her speak about past, present, and future business decisions gives me faith that this company really has its act together.  It's also a company that cares about its people, which is refreshing.

Ariel Tachna gave a great overview of translations and promotion.  Lynn West, Anne Regan, and Julianne Bentley shared helpful information on editing.  Damon Suede's and Ariel's presentation on branding definitely gave me some food for thought, and I've realized that one of the key aspects of my brand is that my stories are heavily plot-driven.  People who don't typically read romance can still read and enjoy what I write.

I got to talk with Tessa C├írdenas for just a short amount of time, but I hope to run into her at more events in the future because she seems incredibly sweet.  The same goes for Jaime Samms.  I was at the table next to her but got a little tongue-tied because, wow, it's Jaime Samms!

Friday evening was crazy!  I went out with Paul Richmond, B.G. Thomas, Catt Ford, Jamie Fessenden, and Jonathan Treadway to a fascinating restaurant named Lips, where I confirmed what I'd always suspected: drag queens are prettier, funnier, and better dancers than me.  I remember this evening as lots of laughter, lots of memorable moments, and a very elegant limo ride back to the hotel while we engaged in less than elegant conversation.  (At one point, the limo driver slammed her little window shut!)  This evening was probably the defining moment of the weekend for me, and what a great group to spend it with!

Saturday/Rainbow Book Fair Day
I was looking forward to doing the morning yoga that was listed on our agenda, but that kind of fell by the wayside as I seemed to be the only one raring to go.  But I have no complaints; instead I had many great conversations with other writers including Ariel, Mary Calmes, Amy Lane, J.P. Barnaby, and Rowan Speedwell.  I only got to talk to Andrew Gray for a moment, but he's another whom I hope I'll run into again in the future.  Yeah, he's out of my league and all that, but in the end, they kind of all are.

I want to read the books of as many people I've met as possible, and I was happy to get recommendations on where to start with each of them.  (I've decided my overall starting point is The Inventor's Companion, by Ariel Tachna.)  I was also very lucky to get to talk with Anne Cain and even pick her brain a bit.  For all her out-of-this-world talent, she's still so down to earth.

I rode down to the Rainbow Book Fair at around 2:30 with the last shuttle.  I couldn't handle too much time in there because of the crowd, but it was great to see what it looked like.  Dreamspinner's setup was amazing, and also the most crowded part of the room.  I steered clear of our section to make sure I didn't block off any potential customers, and I was able to stop by some of the other tables and make some contacts.

That evening, I went two-step and line dancing at the Big Apple Ranch, with Paul Richmond, S.A. Garcia, Jonathan Treadway, Kate McMurray, Zahra Owens and her partner, and Damon Suede (who's a pretty kickass dancer).  I call dibs on Paul any time we go dancing again!  I got to lead, which was awesome, even though it's a little hard to twirl a guy when you're 4'10" and he's 6'1".  It was also quite fun watching S.A. and Jon dancing, and later watching Jon dance with the pretty dude we were all not-so-subtly ogling throughout the night.

Sunday/Farewell Breakfast
We were all kind of exhausted by this point, but it was still great to be able to gather around the breakfast tables and chat one last time.  I learned that Shae Connor (who is awesomely fun and energetic!) and I share a mutual friend by way of my old job.  Small world!  H.B. Pattskyn, also at my table, has a really great energy to her - sweet, witty, welcoming.  It was sad having to say goodbye to everyone, but I'm hoping someday we might all run into each other again.

So that's my story in a nutshell!  Coming out of it, I have some new goals and have rearranged a few of my writing projects, and I'm really hoping to get more cover work as well.  Thank you, Dreamspinner Press, for giving us all a fantastic weekend!

Friday, March 23, 2012

New York!

Yesterday morning, I flew out from Illinois to New York for an author workshop with Dreamspinner Press.  I'm having an awesome time!  Maybe too awesome, as I'm preparing to head out to a restaurant called Lips to see some drag queens with some fellow authors and cover artists.

Elizabeth shared all sorts of data and stats about the company, which I loved because numbers make me excited.  (Have I mentioned I went to math camp when I was in fifth grade?  Yes, I was one of those.)  I'm the type of writer who works when the inspiration strikes and focuses on other projects when inspiration is low.  Right now?  Inspired as hell.

Having not been around the m/m romance scene for too long, I haven't had a chance to read too many authors.  Instead of getting to know their work and then meeting them in person, I'm going the other way around.  That's fine with me, because I'm much more likely to take a risk on a new author if I know from experience that they're a lovely person.

On the other hand, I'm very well versed in cover art.  Getting to meet the other "hands" behind the book covers was great, and we got a chance to talk shop (and Photoshop) together.  It was also really nice of Elizabeth to include me in the discussion on cover art even though I'm new and have only done a handful of covers, in contrast to the three other majorly experienced cover artists at the event.  I also really enjoy hearing how the other artists work.

Now there are so many people I'm going to have to track down on the interwebs and stalk.  In about an hour, I'm heading out to a drag show for the first time with a bunch of other authors/artists.  Woohoo!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Interviewed at Nomad Chronicle!

Author Interview: Ana Bosch Tames The Fire Within And Paints Swaths Of Death

Check it out!  Lex passes me off as more awesome than I actually am in the intro, but I can live with that. :)  Interview includes a peek into my upcoming novel, a brand new character sketch, and (gasp!) a picture of me!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Characters In My Mind's Eye

I often wonder how other writers picture their characters in their heads as they write.  Having worked on cover art for a couple publishers and seen spec sheets written by various writers, I can only assume different writers "see" their characters with different levels of detail.  I know some writers who have muses like actors or musicians.  I also know some who really don't care about their characters' physical appearances and prefer to focus on who they are and how they act.

I tend to picture my characters in very high detail, at least in part because I'm an artist by profession.  While I haven't drawn Riley from Art of Death yet, I can see him in my mind like an photo in a yearbook.  I can see down to the shape of his chin, the amount of wave in his hair, the length of his sideburns, the way the shadows fall below his cheekbones.  I know his build and what he would wear.  I don't necessarily describe my characters in this much detail while writing, but it's always there in the back of my mind.

The more I write a character, the clearer the image in my head becomes.  I don't see supporting characters quite as clearly as the leads, and even the leads are unclear until I have a chance to get to know them.

Again because I'm an artist, I often sketch my characters just for the fun of it.  But ironically, the way I sketch them is almost never the way I picture them in my head.  When I work on a graphic novel, the characters have a distinct look, and it's my job to stay as consistent as possible.  But when I draw characters from my prose novels, they're likely to look different every time I draw them, depending on my mood at the time.

A good example of this is the cover for The Dragon Tamer.  The way I drew Aedan on the cover is not quite the way I picture him in my head.  This was deliberate; I wanted a powerful image for the cover with as much universal appeal as possible, so I adjusted his features accordingly.  I've drawn Aedan three times, and each of those times, he could have been an entirely different character.

I'd be curious to know how readers picture Drake from the Dragon Tamer.  His appearance is never described in the story.  It's inspiring to know, based on feedback so far, that readers didn't necessarily need a physical description in order to like him.

I may post drawings of my characters from time to time, but I don't consider my own drawings to carry any more truth or authenticity than fan art.  If I share my drawings, it's just for fun, not to inform anyone of how my characters "really" look.  The beauty of fiction is everyone can picture a character differently, and they can even change their minds from morning to evening.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

No More Audiobooks For Me :(

Today is a sad day.  I had to cancel my Audible account.

I originally signed up when I worked a day job with a long commute, and the audiobooks were great during my car ride.  I also thought (erroneously) that I'd be able to listen to audiobooks while doing my freelance projects, but I tend to focus so much on the art that I end up missing huge portions of the narration.

I had twelve unused credits.  I really should have bought something, but I was having too much trouble making the decision, so I just said "screw it" and threw them all away.  I have a backlog of downloaded books I have yet to listen to anyway, and not enough disk space to keep downloading more.

I do enjoy reading the old fashioned way more than listening.  It's faster, and you're guaranteed not to get a bad narrator.  But in the end, it all came down to money.  While I make a comfortable living, the incoming stream of money isn't as steady and reliable as when I had a day job.  Hence I have to be more frugal, and ebooks generally cost less than audiobooks.

It's too bad.  With my work schedule, it's getting harder and harder to fit in reading time, and audiobooks are one of the things that give you the option of multitasking.  Too bad, indeed.

Okay, gonna stop whining now!  Maybe someday I'll sign up again...  Someday when I'm rich.