Thursday, February 17, 2011

Off to swim in inspiration . . .

. . . . or drown in the weather.

The Hubby and I are heading up to wine country this weekend. It had been planned for a while,as we soaked up the unusually warm winter weather, envisioning hiking in the sunshine and green hills and tasting wine out on the patios and verandas of our favorite wineries. Hello Ledson.

Fat chance of that.

It's dark, gloomy, and cold. All around perfect winter weather. At least the people heading to Tahoe mountains this weekend will be having a jolly good time on the fresh snow.

Did I mention it was freezing here in the Bay Area??We actually had snow. In Los Gatos. And not in the mountain part of the town. Yeesh.

Hopefully, luck and sun will shine upon us and give us a reprieve day so we can enjoy the sites.

I'm taking my camera with me and you can bet your behind that I'll be taking loads of pictures. An inquiry about a possible commission for landscape art has peaked my interest, and what better place to get some inspiration that the beauty that is wine country?

Perhaps potential buyers would like the gloom and drab of rain over a vineyard.


I'll be taking two books to read. One to finish and one I have been meaning to start since last April. Hahaha. I will also take my novel to write on if I find myself in my hotel room with nothing to do. . . 

At least a glass of wine will help. Or two. :)

Stay warm and dry out there folks. And be careful on the roads.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Writing Salon Recap

 So Friday was the Writing Salon. Q & A Roundtable: The In’s and Out’s of Publishing Commercial Fiction  with Nick Mamatas.

It was a fun learning experience with great lessons and insight on the publishing world.

Let me rewind with a detail about the afternoon. Coming from the South Bay, it's supposed to be a 45 -60 minute drive to Berkeley.

Well, with Friday night traffic it took me about 1.5 hours to get there.

If you look closely you can see all the cars backed up on the freeway.

At least I had a beautiful evening to take me up there.

The view of San Francisco from across the Bay.

Finally, I made it Berkeley and the site of the Writing Salon. 

Yes, I giggled like a middle school boy from the 80s when I saw the street name.

There's a code to get in through that door. I didn't test it out yet. I was just glad I found the place.

 I still had an hour and half to kill and I was hungry so I got lost and found my way to Pyramid Brew. After a quick dinner, sans a beer, I headed back to the site and opened the door to see this:

A dark, creepy, wooden stairwell that led to Goddess knows where.

I walked up those stairs and turned around on the landing to get the last glimmers of the sunset. If you look closely you can see dying embers of orange in between the buildings.

I then followed the wooden landing that had doors branching off them and found my room, which was the only open and inviting door.

So here I am.

 I was early, the first one there and met with Nick, preparing the cheese for the evening. I told him I was a fan of cheese. While we waited for the others to show up, I began to feel a little jittery. I was getting nervous. I had no questions in mind, I had no idea what to expect and so far I had been the only one there.

Thankfully, the others came in soon after.

The session ended up only having three participants and Nick as our speaker. The two other students spoke about the work they were writing, which was crime and murder mystery. I felt a little ostracized by one when I said I was writing a science fiction fantasy. Luckily, Nick is a sci fi horror writer so it was equally spaced out on genres.

The session was open discussion where we talked about our interests, what we were writing and what were were looking for in this one night class.  Nick opened it up to our questions and I immediately asked about the query letter.

The session reminded me of the one our workshops that I participated in at the Willamette Valley Writer's Convention, but this was far more one on one. We rehashed the importance of the query letter, the importance of an agent and looking into the small independent publishers, some of which he listed were local.

There was a large discussion on certain writer's and how they got published, or why they were even published, and how not to sound "insane" when writing and sending our letters to the agents. We also spoke about authors going under a different name, going into different genres, etc. when branching out into the industry.

I learned that I should go over my work to make sure it isn't written in cinematic style and to make sure my tenses are correct. I also found out that I shouldn't be too in love with my first work since that inevitably gets rejected and that even the titles that we envision with our book, well, we shouldn't get too attached.

Nick had us write the first paragraph of our query letter for practice and I found to have a difficult time trying to write it out in just a few short sentences.  After pretty much vomiting the words onto my notebook, we took turns reading our "letters" and he helped us see what worked and what didn't. I still have a lot to work on to polish my letter but at least I know now what is more expected within the letter.

  I took a lot of notes, about 4 pages worth, ate quite a bit of cheese and crackers and had some wine and tea.  Overall, it was a much needed shot in the arm in terms of getting into the writing industry. I know I have quite a ways to go now, but I shouldn't fear it as much as I had been.

If there are any Bay Area readers out there interested in getting their creative juice flowing or just need the support of other writers, I do suggest the Salon. BUT I also suggest looking into writing groups that are close to you are that are free or less expensive as some of the salon class series.

Nick was very informative, answering our questions with great insight and humor. I'm not sure if it was his good nature or the wine that helped calm my nerves but I truly did enjoy the evening.  For the one night 3 hour class priced at $45 dollars, I say it was worth the drive and the expense and if there were more classes like this I would definitely be interested.

For now, I'm going to take Nick's advice and look into writing groups more centrally located to where I live. Like my art studio where we feed off each others creativity and get inspired by one another, a writing group will be able to help me when I get stumped.

So, anyone know any writing groups in the South Bay? :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Writer's Salon

I'm excited folks.

Very excited.

I haven't mentioned it before but I am going to a workshop tomorrow night. And not just any workshop but a writer's workshop.

Happy dance!

Furthermore, it's just not any old 3 hour workshop, but one about publishing your book! Actually, it's more of a Q & A Roundtable where we ask this guy the secret handshake to get published but I'll take what I can freaking get! 

According to the website, the Writing Salon : "Bring plenty of questions about agents, editors, submissions (or self-publishing), and commercial-versus-literary fiction to this free-form, wine & cheese get-together — and get answers from a working pro."


Okay Sonia, calm down, it's just a Q&A. A round table that could very much give me some fantastic insight on getting my book out there. I also don't want to get overly excited because I also don't want to be disappointed.

Granted this is different than going to Willamette's Writer's Convention in Oregon, meeting with several agents, getting only one rejection letter and nothing else from any of the others.

Stake through heart.

I need to go into this being prepared.

What kind of questions should I ask? Should I bring a sample of my work with me? Obviously, I need to bring a notebook (I am not on the iPAD, laptop bandwagon yet, though I truly do lust after one) but I need to be prepared as to what I need to know.

I could wait to see what others ask and a question of my own my arise from there's but I don't want to be lazy about this. Perhaps I should retrace my steps with the literary agents from WWC and see where I went wrong but other than that, I don't know what to ask.

Any suggestions? If there is any one out there, I would truly love to here from you now.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Back in the studio

The past two weeks have been very busy for me at work. As explained in the previous post, work had me cleaning little parts from 8-4. It hurt. If it wasn't my bloodshot strained eyes that wrecked me (I really did look like Judge Doom), it was my sore wrists.

Holding a tiny pin .0070 wide, in one hand and holding a small part in the other really ached my wrists. Did the same Monday, ALL DAY, and they ended up hurting so bad I could barely hold a pencil let alone a paintbrush. Needless to say I did not make it to studio Monday night.

Generally, Mondays and Wednesdays are my studio days with a floating day somewhere within the week, though I am rethinking this I am training for a 10K and keeping up with my regular workout routine.

 I was looking forward to working on this baby:

She's far from done and looking at her through the lens I did notice areas that I need to fix with her but that will be worked on on the next studio day. Tonight!

No way am I going to miss it due to any body pain. Shin splints? Bah! No stairs are going to keep me out of the studio. I have to stick to my goals if I want to ever see them completed, but I won't be too annoyed if I don't finish her anytime soon.

She's actually my work in progress in between projects at the studio. I have another one at my apartment when I work there i.e. if it's too cold in the studio.  Which reminds me, I really got to get started on my set projects.

There are two in the Works. Well one, literally. I will let you know once I get more information about a possible show. .  . that I have to write my theme for very soon. Eeep.

I'll take pictures of my studio tonight and post them soon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's a basset's world.

Sooooo . . . no post on Friday eh? My bad. Work and then mad dash south for a birthday surprise for my dear mother in law.

Would a picture of a basset hound in a party hat make up for it?

 Do you recognize her? She's a frequent model in my work. . .

Part of the surprise :) Addie is my MIL's hound. Hubby, his brother, Addie and I surprised his mom at work with flowers, a balloon and all of us in hats including the shortround above. She managed to wear that hat for a good 15 minutes before she managed to snap it off with her back paw.

Here's another round of basset pictures. The painting below was done back in August. I wasn't too happy showing it at the Sand City street fair but I needed something to show my animal portrait work

 In December, I wanted to fix it up before having it possibly show at the Axis Gallery.  Here is the new and FINISHED version below.

It wasn't picked to be in the show, but I was overall thrilled with the outcome of the painting. Looks so much better to me and more in the direction I want to go with my animal portraits I think. Far more detail, texture and depth. Not as flat.

Her eyes pop a little more in the first version than in the second, but there seems to be more life to her in the second.


What do you think of the changes? 

Hubby's mom now has this hanging in her house among her other basset artwork collection. She has four dog drawings from me on her wall, three of which are of Addie.

I really got to start on some more animal portraits to build up my collection to show perspective clients. Can't just all be basset hounds.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

fail but redemption!

So I kind of fell of the goal wagon when it came to posting twice a week last week.

I apologize.

Work was very very busy which involved a lot of deliveries, running around, office work and cleaning of parts with holes small than the size of a pin head. I literally had my eyes focused so much on these damn tiny things that they got sore, red, and I looked cracked out of my mind.

Judge Doom Who Framed Roger Rabbit

It hurt.

And I am still pretty busy here at work but I did manage to start working on my fitness, food, culture blog. I am going to design a new header for it this weekend and get my lists going so I can write upcoming posts for both that one and this one.

I just wanted to let you know that I am working on my goals. I'm writing when I can i.e before yoga, at stop lights, in bed etc.,  started outlining the second novel after the current one I am working on, and even made it to the studio twice the past two weeks. I worked on one of my "in between" paintings, a piece of work that I do between projects, and it started to form a lot better last night, though the chill of the studio made me leave around 8.

I've got more lists going and I promise to you there will be more posts from me.  Look for a longer post on Friday. :)

Thanks for hanging in there with me.