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Friday, March 30, 2012

Recognition


Recognition: This word means many things. Act of recognizing, appreciation, acknowledgment, permission to speak, and so on. As an author I seek this often. But, as an author, it is one of the most elusive things in my life. Those in any entertainment industry, and yes writing a novel is part of that, fight for recognition. Often we seek it from the top; from companies that will make you rich, from media that will make you known, from others in your field who can help you feel accepted. But, I believe that the most important recognition we can receive is from you, the audience. As an actor, it is those sitting in the seats of the theater. As a singer, it is those who listen and even wish to repeat your work. As an author, it is the reader.

Okay, now the problem begins when the entertainer becomes an attention hog. They don’t care what low they sink to, so long as someone is giving them attention. That is not a place you want to be. And, unfortunately, the world often looks at everyone in the entertainment industry the same, they see one Lady Gaga, and then every pop singer is the same.

I am an attention hound, not quite a hog yet and I pray that I never stoop to that level. I am a ham, I love to be on stage, I love to entertain. I love to know that what I created is making someone happy. This is where I see the difference between those that will do anything for recognition, and those who love to entertain. I don’t write for money, or to raise eyebrows, or to turn heads. I write because I want to make someone smile, cry, feel warm, feel hungry. I want to evoke the imagination and take a reader to a place they never believed possible. I want to know that they rooted for the hero, cursed the villain, smelled the food, felt the cool breezes. Whatever brightens your day, I hope to help you get in the pages.

Of course I want money; I will not deny that I need that stuff to survive. To say that I am not in it for the money would be partly untrue. I would write even if I knew that not another penny would be made. But, making a few doesn’t hurt.

Garnering recognition is hard. When there are thousands of people out there that want this, but few that give it, it is an uphill battle. The media loves a controversial or inspirational history to the author, so that he/she is more of the news story than the book they wrote. So, unless you have one of those two, you are already stepping a place back in the line of recognition. Next, the world wants a lot of the same. There are publishing houses that will give you the story with blanks for the names of people/places/things that you fill in. In half an hour you can get a novel out and it will sell. If you want to write from your imagination, take another few steps back in that line. Then comes the paradox, big time publishers only want to read your manuscript so long as you have already been published by a notable publisher. Okay, that makes about as much sense as telling a doctor to give you medicine for something you have already been cured of. But, it has been and always will be that way, if you are not published, take another giant step back in that line. At this point, your hope is fading, your money is draining, and your expectations are limited. All you have left is that drive, and sometimes that is not enough.

How can you, the reader, help? Comment. If you like a book, go to the websites where it is sold and write an honest comment about it so that other readers considering buying it might actually give your opinion some thought. Hit that ‘like’ button on the page for it. Send an encouraging letter to the author. Some people believe that the only reviews that are published are critical and must contain at least two negative points. But, that isn’t true. When you finish a good dinner, you don’t sit back and think only about that one overly salty bite. Let others know that it is a decent book. If you have a friend/relative that is an author, read his/her stuff and give him the helping hand of a comment. You don’t have to be Mark Twain to write it either, just write from the heart and let the world decide.

In the end, the readers approval is more valuable and encouraging than all of the media reviews combined. I don’t write to get my book mentioned on Jeopardy, CNN, Fox, TMZ, or even the local news. I write to give you, the reader, something to sink you teeth into and, hopefully, enjoy for a little while.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Gone but never forgotten


         Eleven years ago, this month, I did something that will forever change my life.



Okay, let me start with some preliminary info. I grew up in a town that has a sister city in Japan. As such, I grew up with a lot of Japanese influence in my life. I have mentioned his before, if you have been paying attention. I also grew up dancing. I started tap and jazz when I was in fourth grade. It was a fun and exciting experience that I wanted to take with me my entire life.



Fast forward to 2000. My father changed jobs and moved us to a town in East Tennessee. I found a place that did not have any dance studios for people over the age of 12. My stage time seemed to be coming to an end. In 2001, my mother and I decided to go and see if we could help with the international festival being put together by the community center. At that meeting I met Nanae Ramey. She was there to help and see that her Okinawan dance school participated. I didn’t find anything in the festival I could help with, but I wanted to know more about this dance school. I asked her and she gave me her number. I went to her home and found that she had a small studio built to the back of the house and that was where she taught school. I joined that day and started a new dance career, Okinawan traditional and modern dance.

Over the years we performed all over the south and east. We went to California to celebrate the Masters 50th anniversary for being part of the school. (An impressive accomplishment.) I joined up with the Okinawan Kenjin Kai of Atlanta and met a lot of very wonderful people. We traveled a lot each year, heading to Atlanta to teach others this dance, and heading all over the place to perform. I started learning the Taiko, a modern drumming style in Okinawa that uses rock music and karate. Recently I also dabbled in learning the Shami-sen, a Japanese instrument that is similar to the banjo in shape and size. I got to really know my sensei after spending hours with her in a car talking and traveling. She taught me much more than dance. She taught me about life.

2008: A large spot was discovered on her lung and she went in for tests. It was soon discovered that she had a large cancer tumor and would have to undergo treatments. The doctors gave her less than 2 years to live. She beat that and in 2 years she was still teaching and even performing. Her health was not quite the same, but she persisted and proved the medical community wrong, for a while. In a heartbreaking piece of news, she found out that the cancer had spread. It moved to her brain and her bones. She struggled against that for a time, fighting with hope, prayer, and faith. I am very happy to know that in this time she became a Christian and accepted Jesus Christ as her savior. Unfortunately for us, her time had come and the Lord called her home. She passed away March 20, 2012.

I wish I could tell her how much she meant to me. I looked up to her. She did not get angry fast, she always displayed an element of wisdom that I strive to emulate. Most importantly she cared for everyone she knew. I will miss her every day, and I will think often of the many, many good times we had together. She taught me about life and I will honor her memory by trying to put those lessons to good use.

Rest in the peace of our Lord.


Note: I must say this. She never smoked, yet lung cancer took her life. Keep that in mind when you want to light up near others, with a child in your car, or a kind person in your life.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

L5R: Tsuruko's Journal

The second part of the Senseis and Students story has been posted. This is a journal written from the prospective of Daidoji Tsuruko, a young samurai woman who has vowed to protect Ashinaga. She is also chronicling his life and even drawing his picture. If you have noticed the lion-man pictures I draw, they are based on this story. I spent more time writing this journal than just about any other story I have written. I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.alderac.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=142&t=96881





Monday, March 12, 2012

New story

Hello all. I have decided to post a story on the fan-fiction forum of the Alderac Entertainment Groups website. This story was written a few years back with the idea of trying to get my foot in the door of their fiction department. I guess they had no interest. I want people to enjoy it as that is why I write, so here it is...

http://www.alderac.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=142&t=96807

This is only the first part of many to come. If you are into Legend of the Five Rings, you will understand the story better. This story happens to be where the lion-man I draw so often comes from. The first few parts are leading up to his introduction, but for the most of the whole series he is the central character, along with Daidoji Tsuruko.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Please, do not forget:

Friday: March 11, 2011: A massive 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck near Tohoku, Japan. 15,850 deaths, 6,011 injured, 3,287 people missing. With 1,235 aftershocks.
                 
I have a special place in my heart for Japan. I grew up in a town in the Midwest, home of Oklahoma State University. The town had a sister city, Kamioka, Japan. From the time I started school until the day I left Oklahoma, this connection flavored my life. I learned a lot about their culture and history through festivals, events in school, and the exchange students. When I moved to East Tennessee, I met up with a very nice Okinawan sensei who has taught me the dance, music, and culture of the little islands of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

                With that said, you can imagine how heartbroken I was to see the destruction and aftermath of the disastrous earthquake and tsunami last year. The scenes of the people and places destroyed by natures wrath was unlike anything most people have witnessed in our lifetimes.

                In the year since, Japan has done a lot to pick up from the disaster, but there is so much to do. My Okinawan school and cultural club out of Atlanta, the Okinawa Kenjin Kai, have raised money and awareness. But, I am afraid that with celebrity, political, and disasters nearer home filling the news we have slowly let their desperate pleas weaken over here.

                I, in no way, advocate that we ignore our own who have suffered the recent natural disasters in favor of Japan. What I advocate is that we continue to remember their strife and to pray hard for them. When the opportunity arises that you can do something to help them, do not let it go. When you have a heart for giving and helping, God will provide you the strength and wherewithal to help.

Japan is still bleeding, I pray for quick mending and a better future.

How you can help:
http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/03/11/five-ways-you-can-help-earthquake-and-tsunami-victims-in-japan/

Wikipedia info on event:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sendai_earthquake

Friday, March 2, 2012

Art and Pintrest


For this week, I want to show off some more of my art. This is a special piece because it was colored in by a new friend I met in the game that this character was designed for. If you have read some of my other posts you know that this is Bark, a superhero for the Facebook game Clash: Rise of Heroes. If you didn’t know that, go back a few posts and read more about him.

On another note: For anyone out there that is involved with Pintrest, I have an account now. Check out my pins and follow/like/re-pin. As always, you can help out my continuing efforts to advertise my new book by repining the links and images to your boards. http://pinterest.com/senseidoji/
Hope everyone has a nice first week of March.