My Return to Writing Fiction

Even though my first book was nonfiction, I actually started out as a novelist. In 2012, I graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts. I was in the process of reworking my first novel when I realized that I needed to step away from the story to clear my head. During what was supposed to be a short break resulted in Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. Now, I’m getting ready to publish my second photography book, which covers the subject of mannequins.   Just as I was getting ready to start my third book, COVID-19 spread throughout the world and halted my progress. I’ll admit that I felt disappointed, but one of the things I have learned as an artist has been adapting to change. The arts is one of the least stable careers for a variety of reasons and therefore the only way to have longevity is to be able to adapt and transform. As a result of the lockdown, I had to choose a different route for my third book. I have decided to return to my roots, which is fiction.   During my two years as graduate […]

You’re Not Alone Even If You Feel You’re Alone

This isn’t going to be my typical blog post. At a time like this, it’s impossible to go about business as usual. All of our lives have been affected by the virus in some way or another. I also know there’s already a lot of information out there about COVID-19, the economy and job loss, and mental issues stemming from prolonged isolation.   So, why am I even bothering writing about a topic that’s been front page news for weeks? I think it’s worth reiterating that the majority of us are suffering from anxiety and depression from the uncertainty that many of us face as a result of COVID-19 and it’s impact on businesses and the economy. While social distancing and self-imposed isolation are critical at this time, we would be remiss to believe that these policies wouldn’t have an effect on our mental state.   Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The mass of men live their lives in quiet desperation.” Sometimes social media convinces us that we are not living our lives right. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen many posts of people chilling in their fashionable loungewear and announcing that they’re doing their “inner work,” meditating, playing board […]

Book Contests: Are they worth it?

When I first started getting into photography, I would submit my work to contests now and again. Most of these contests I found through social media platforms. While many of them had reasonable application fees, they were time consuming and I was competing against thousands of very talented photographers. After a while, I wrote off contests.   Fast forward a couple years. . . I published my debut book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, and now I was trying to gain exposure for my book. As a self-published author, it can be extremely challenging to get your book seen by the right audience. According to Forbes, anywhere between 600,000 to a million titles are published each year. The chances of readers stumbling onto your book on Amazon is pretty small.   In the beginning, I was mostly focused on social media marketing and advertising. By chance, I found out about a contest from the Nonfiction Author’s Association Book Awards program. I entered the contest and received two Gold Awards for Photography and Pop Culture. In addition, to receiving an emblem and title, which I could now use for my marketing materials, I got exposure from their marketing channels from […]

My Self-Publishing Journey: Social Media

I’ll be honest here. If I weren’t an artist, I probably wouldn’t be on social media or my presence would be limited. I’m very shy and introverted, and I’ve seen the ugly side of social media. However, while I might complain about social media, I also understand that it plays an integral part in our lives. This is particularly true for individuals who are marketing themselves. Social media has its place, and it’s here to stay.   I’m not writing this post because I’m an expert on social media. Like most people out there, I have struggled building my social media presence. Over the last couple of years, I have spoken to other artists who have experienced the same challenges as me and hearing their stories has helped me put things into a more healthy perspective. Let’s face it, the self-publishing world is not for the faint of heart and there are many days you might feel like you’re working for nothing. There were many days that I would scroll through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and think, “What am I doing wrong?”   Building a meaningful presence on social media takes time, but don’t discount the small successes along the […]

Annual Local Author Book Sale

On Saturday February 1st, the Scottsdale Civic Center Library hosted the 7th Annual Local Author Book Sale. As an author and photographer, I feel strongly about supporting local authors and artists. This event is great for authors to share their work and expand their readership. It’s also a great opportunity for readers looking for new books. There something for everyone. Categories range from children’s books, novels, memoirs, and other nonfiction categories.   The book sale is free to the public, and it typically runs from 10AM until 2PM. What I really appreciated about this event was that it was a nice size. Sometimes book/art fairs are so massive that I feel lost, but I was able to check out all the authors in a reasonable amount of time. I was especially happy to see some familiar faces. The following writers I have met through the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers. I have learned so much from these talented women, and I highly suggest you take a look at their work.         If you missed this book sale, have no fear. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year to support the growing community of Arizona writers. The […]

A Year in Review

  At the end of the year, I take some time to review my work and reevaluate my goals. I’m certainly not one of those people who does New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to hold myself accountable and make sure that I’m using my time wisely to accomplish everything I want to do. During my review, I list what I think went well and what I would like to improve in the future. When I was a graduate student, I worked with Susan Griffin, a writing mentor and renowned feminist and author. Every time she looked at my writing, she would first tell me what I did well. She explained that it’s just as important to know what you’re doing right because you want to build on that.   Looking back at the past twelve months these are some of the strengths and weaknesses I found in my own work.   Strengths 1.) An education in self-publishing: I had to wear many hats this year because I had to learn about the process of designing, printing, selling, and marketing my book. I’m by no means an expert, but the education I got this year will be extremely important […]

Liliana

    While working on my book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I met many incredible people. I first met Liliana at a photoshoot. When I saw her amazing ink, I asked if she would be a part of my book. Since then, I have worked with her on other projects.   Last week, I did a photoshoot with Liliana, and she shared her new tattoos with me. Her latest additions were Gypsy tattoos, beautiful women adorned with elements of nature. Until I saw her new ink, I didn’t even know there was “Gypsy” style. It still amazes what artists can do with tattoos. Body art has grown and expanded so much in the last decade that it will be interesting to see how it continues to evolve in the next ten years.

Holiday Gift Ideas

Holiday gift shopping can be challenging, especially if you wait until the last minute. I’ve gotten better at making my purchases earlier in the year, but I still struggle to find unique gift ideas. The hardest are the White Elephant or Secret Santa Gifts. Most often gift cards work really well. Who doesn’t love an Amazon Gift Card, right? However, there is something gratifying when you can find that perfectly gift for someone that will make them laugh or smile. Here, I’ve listed some gift ideas that might elicit a chuckle. Everything I’ve listed below is available for $25 or less.   1.) Wine Tumblers by Tru Blue Steel I know a lot of people who like to enjoy their wine with their significant other or friends. While the Yeti brand can be a bit pricey, there are many other brands that offer the same features for a fraction of the price. These Tru Blue Steel tumblers are BPA free and dishwasher safe. Plus, they run just over $20, so they won’t break the bank.   2.) Lets Get Galactic Art For several months, I’ve been following Holoreader on Instagram. Holoreader is an Instagram account that belongs to Cassie Lola, […]

Zach, US Navy: Tattoo Interview

In the past decade, tattoos haven’t just artistically evolved, but they have become so popular that many industries have changed their policies regarding body art. The military is no exception. In honor of Veteran’s day, I’m posting a portrait from my book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. Zach got his tattoo in honor of his time in the Navy as well as his love for the sea. The tattoo on his chest is the Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon. Zach also enjoys snorkeling and spear fishing.   I’m always grateful to have the opportunity to speak with soldiers and veterans. I know that as a civilian much of what veterans experience is outside of my paradigm. Nevertheless, I think it’s important for me as well as everyone else to be a good listener and honor what they have done for this country. Thank you for your service, veterans!

Gatekeepers Talk About Tattoos

The Gatekeepers is a neutral motorcycle club of professional and retired fire fighters who frequently host fundraising events. Five of their members were kind enough to come down to my studio to talk about their non-profit organization and how tattoos have evolved in the fire department.┬áToday it’s so common to see fire fighters with tattoos, but there was a time when tattoos in the fire department were not as accepted as they are today.   “There was one point in the fire department you couldn’t have any. If they showed, you had to cover them,” says Rob. “Now it’s a matter of what it is. If it’s offensive to anybody, you have to cover it.”   When I interviewed each member, I was amazed at the different styles of tattoos and how varied the stories were. While all of them had a Gatekeeper emblem tattoo, each of them had ink honoring what was important to them. For example, Bill (red shirt) got tattoos celebrating his family’s Scottish heritage. Pappy (far left) explained that the Celtic Crosses on the inside of his forearms were to remind him of his own inner strength when times got tough.   My interview with the […]