Self-Publishing Journey: The Importance of Staying Organized

Self-publishing my first book was one of the hardest things I have ever done. There were so many skills that I had to learn that my head would actually ache at the end of the day. The worst part, however, was that I never felt like I was on top of things. No matter how many hours I worked, I felt like I wasn’t getting enough done. My desk always looked like a tornado swept through my office. Finding a particular sheet of paper would provoke an anxiety attack.   When I was in high school and college, I thought that I was fairly organized, but when I started this journey of publishing Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I found myself constantly feeling overwhelmed, disorganized, and anxious. There were post-its everywhere with half-written notes. Because there were so many moving parts in the self-publishing process, it was easy for me to lose track. Fortunately, I didn’t miss any important deadlines, but I realized that I suffered more than I needed to because I wasn’t organized enough. I needed to create a system that would work for me.   It’s really important to have a method for staying organized. Each […]

My Relationship With Fiction

Before I became a photographer, I studied creative writing. During my time as a graduate student at California College of the Arts, I finished my first (and very rough) draft of my novel in addition to a handful of short stories. When I started my novel, I didn’t even know it was going to be a novel. At the time, I was working with a mentor who wanted me to practice writing emotions associated with the description of a room. A single writing exercise turned in to the first two chapters of my story. Since then I have learned more about fiction through the process of writing my first novel.   It’s not easy for me to articulate my relationship with fiction because it has evolved over time. I used to believe that there was a sharp divide between myself and the material I created. The reason I chose fiction was that I wanted to explore personalities and subject matters that I thought I would never experience in my own life. It has always been too difficult for me to write about anything that too closely resembles my life. I can’t be entirely authentic because I get anxious. Part of […]

The Second Book: Lessons Gained and Lessons Learned

When I was in graduate school, a mentor told me that each book was like starting over. Each project has its own differences and challenges. I didn’t completely understand this until I started working on my second book, which explores the history of mannequins. Of course there were certain things that were easier about making this book because I had learned those lessons while working on Tattle Tales. However, when it came time to publish the second book, I realized that I had to do things differently. This meant another learning curve and a bit of frustration.   Being a writer, and especially a self-published author, means that you’re constantly learning. Besides developing your skills as a writer, you have to stay on top of all the new ways of marketing, publishing, and distributing. In the age of technology, the rules are always evolving and changing. Additionally, what works for one book may not work for the other book. I’ve listed some of the lessons I have learned from my second book.   The message of this post is to urge self-published authors to be flexible and open minded. I had a much different idea of my path when I […]

Working with Mannequins

      When I was working on Mannequins: Stories of the First Supermodel, I purchased these two busts for an idea I had for an artistic photoshoot. I have not yet finished this project, but I have worked frequently with these two beauties.   As someone who likes to try new ideas with lighting, I like the idea of being able to practice before experimenting at a photoshoot. When I’m working with a model, I like to be fully prepared. It doesn’t mean that I’m not making adjustments during the photoshoot, but I don’t want to waste precious time. If I do want to try out an idea, I’ll wait until the end of the shoot.   Mannequins are great because you can practice your photography whenever the mood strikes you. They can’t talk back or complain that you’re taking too long. They are very patient and forgiving models. 😉 The names of these two mannequins are Melina and Monique.

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 […]

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 […]