Shared Experiences

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Today, I’d like to put a call out to anyone who has independently published – whether it’s a book,  film or music. Here’s the question:

If you could share one piece of advice with those who are in the process of writing and publishing independently what would it be? Post your helpful tip on this website.

 

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The mission of this site has been to share all kinds of fulfilling things about independent publishing and this thing called “life.” Looking for more information? Use the search bar or category archives on the right-hand side of this page.

And for those who share their wisdom through a comment:

never surpress a generous thought.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, award winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

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Tracing a Story

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Genealogy, n. An account of one’s descent from a man who did not particularly care to trace his own.~ Ambrose Bierce

Isn’t it interesting how others can motivate us? In yesterday’s blog I mentioned being inspired by members of our local genealogy group to begin tracing a story in my family history.

When I see the work of others, I get all fired up even when it comes to putting my energy into something I didn’t think I had much interest in. But I am beginning to get stoked up.

magnifying-glass-over-business-text-10920164One woman in our group has traced family members who came twenty-seven generations before her. She has located information about her Scottish ancestors born in the 800’s, mapping out her family tree with names, birth dates, places of death and towns of residence. A phenomenal amount of research!

Another member has compiled so much material it’s contained in a tome-sized binder. Very well organized! Now she is considering what to do with all the data, images and pedigree charts.

Others have traveled to their ancestors hometowns all over the world and taken gravestone rubbings, spoken with historians, museums and community town fathers who have helped them reveal some important facts and figures to complete their stories.

It’s sad to think how many important stories in history get lost because of people’s disinterest in keeping them alive through writing. No doubt it is easier just to live in the present.

If you have even the slightest interest in your family history, check out this website. You may come across something that could become your own version of a Gift of Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

Exploring Space Romance

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This isn’t happily ever after. It’s so much more than that.” 
― Kiera CassThe One

I’d like to say “Good on Ya,” to Aussie Author, D.A. Hill for writing another book that despite being outside of my normal realm of reading genres, I read his publication Cerelia’s Choice engrossed from beginning to end. And I really enjoyed it too, I might add! The turns in the plot came often enough to keep me moving forward wondering what was going to happen next.

So as not to be the spoiler, I’ll refrain from giving you too much information about Hill’s first foray into an interesting genre of writing – space romance. But, I will say, “Oh, how I rooted that the chosen next ruler of the Imperial Throne could defend against the forces in the Galactic Empire so the princess could live happily ever after.”

Cerelias ChoiceYou’d almost have to expect a story about a space pirate from a person who works in the I.T. field. But what remained consistant from his previous publications, is the author’s ability to express very realistic human emotion and dialogue through the character of the lovely Crown Princess and others. Earthly sentiments expressed in an “other world environment” resulted in a fulfilling read.

Check out all of  independent publisher D.A. Hill’s novels including Newton’s Ark and Fuller’s Mine which “explore the impact of technology on human society.”

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling!

The Afterglow of Success

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Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -Francis of Assisi

The last of a three part blog about author/playright Jorge Avila will be featured on All Things Fulfilling today. Before Christmas I interviewed Avila about his newfound sucess as a playright. To read the beginning of the interview, please go to from Local Author to Playright and Advancing the Story.

Sue: So what does it feel like now that you have stepped away from all the excitement of seeing your musical played out on stage?

Jorge: There is a little bit of sadness and a let down because it is easy to get carried  away with all that goes with on in the world of L.A.  But we aren’t done yet. My vision for this musical is even more than that.  I have been offered a huge opportunity at the end of September and the first two weeks in October. The production will return to California as part of at the Hispanic Heritage Festival. For four weeks, in four different districts, I am told that 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 people will attend the festival annually. Do you believe that?

Sue: And I understand you received special recognition during the three day run of the musical. What night was that?

Jorge: On the  middle night of the performance, I and the director and musical composer, Caleb Encampos, were each given certificates of award from the City of Los Angeles for work in advancing the arts. It was very exciting.

Avilas certificate from City of LA

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Sue: What can you attribute to the success that you have had with Maricopa Men in Pink?

Jorge: It was a long five years but I never stopped believing that I had a quality product and it was a matter of getting it into the right venue or environment.

Sue: What’s on the docket for the future? 

Jorge: I have two more musicals I am working on and a book but, I would like to do something more with the local high school here in Steamboat. They did a Powerpoint presentation about my book’s storyline with the English as a Second Language (ESL) students. I’d like to put together some sort of workshop. We will see, I’ll have to put more thought into that. And I’d like to take the musical to Chicago. That’s where I’d  really like to see it.

Sue: You have been in a whirlwind for six months or more. Perhaps with a little time off, your visions will become more clear. Now that you have stepped away into a quieter environment, here in Steamboat, you can ponder it.

Before Jorge and I said our goodbyes  I told him how he is a shining example for other independent publishers to press on and not to give up. Although he mentioned feeling a little let down now that things were over, I saw a huge afterglow of success on his face and in his exuberant voice.

Do return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow when we begin the countdown till the New Year! We will be fulfilling 2016 with new possibilities and opportunity!

Advancing the Story

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We need to look hard at the stories we create, and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them, and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that they give us their wisdom.Marni Gillard

Avila and wife MaribelLast week I sat down with author and playright Jorge Avila, a member of We Write Steamboat, to discuss the gigantic leap of success that he has just experienced. To read a short summary of his musical, please go to the blog from last Thursday.

(Photo left: Jorge Avila and his wife Maribel)

Jorge had just returned a week previously to his hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado from a very busy six months in California. His live theatre musical, adapted from his book Maricopa Men in Pink had a three day run at the Plaza de la Raza, Cultural Center for the Arts & Education on Mission Road in Los Angeles. Avila was ebullient as he answered the questions I had for him to learn more about his experience. Here is part of our discussion about going from local author to playright in a very short few years:

Sue: Jorge, when was Maricopa Men in Pink published? 

Jorge: In 2010 it was published. A short time afterward I sent it off to a friend who is a stage designer in L.A. to get his opinion. He reviewed it and gave me some feedback about adapting it for a play. I decided that my vision for the work was a live theatre musical production. So I rewrote it exactly 2 years, nine months ago in script format along with song lyrics. Caleb Encompos, a resident who helps with the music program at the Christian Center here in Steamboat, composed the music to accompany the lyrics. I approached the Chief Theatre here in town, but it didn’t seem to be the right venue. So,then we sent it off to three production companies in California. 

Sue:  So, what was the response? 

Jorge: I’d like to say that there have been few  Latino or controversial political musicals that I am aware of other than In the Heights and Hamilton and the Book of Mormon. So I was happy to even get a response and it was positive response from two of them. I chose one of the production companies that I felt best understood my vision. I was offered a small sum of money from the production company, but I took half of that because I wanted to be directly involved in the entire process, so that the final product would be what I envisioned.

So, I began over the next six months going to L.A. one week out of every month. For the next six months, Caleb Encompos and I chose vocalists and actors for the live musical production. Once we heard my lyrics put to music and saw it performed by the actors we had chosen, there were some tweeks that were made before the opening.

Sue: So, tell me about the three night run.

Jorge: The turnout was outstanding compared to what I had anticipated. I was told for an unknown author/playright, typical sales would be 60% of the seats. The first and third nights we had 95% of all tickets sold, and the middle evening 75%. Surprising, considering I read in a New York Times article that out of 318 million Americans, 58 million agreed with Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s handling of inmates in Tent City Jail in Arizona. Seventy eight million disagreed, and the whole rest of the population knew nothing about the news story.

Sue: How did that feel? To see your musical come before live audience like that?

Jorge: Surreal! I feel flattered and proud but it was very stressful. I even started up a bad habit – smoking. I hadn’t smoked in six years and I ate too much and gained a little weight.

The musical was even mentioned on National TV on Spanish stations. While we were waiting for the production to begin on opening night, I stepped outside and there were 120 people in line to get a ticket – to my show! I couldn’t believe it and I counted every one of them!

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The rest of this interview on All Things Fulfilling will be posted the week after Christmas. Do return because we will be talking about Avila’s rewards in terms of personal fulfillment which were a result of his determination, persistance and his belief that what he had was fitting for a quality live musical production that still has great potential for future audiences. We will be sharing more about his special award from the City of Los Angeles also!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

 

Local Writer to Playright

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A culture is made –or destroyed –by it’s articulate voices. ~ Ayn Rand

Jorge Avila, a Mexican by birth, moved to the United States in 1995. Since then he has become an author of two books Suriana and the Sulphur Cave and Maricopa Men in Pink. The later is a controversial story about prisoners in Arizona and “Sheriff Joe” known in the media as “the toughest sheriff” around. He sentenced two thousand convicts to serve their sentences in pink underwear and handcuffs for better accountability. The macho men probably could not have been more insulted!

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Christmas came early to Avila, a member of We Write Steamboat our independent publishing network group, when his first publication Maricopa Men in Pink was  adapted as a musical and came to live theatre in Los Angeles. It had an extremely successful run with nearly booked houses each evening.

Stay tuned to All Things Fulfilling on Monday because we will be featuring an interview with him about what it has been like to go from local writer to a playwright within a very short few years. Avila was recently recognized as a person who has helped advance the arts in the LA area.

This blog is brought to you by author Sue Batton Leonard.

The Season of Anticipation

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As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is. ~Eric Sevareid

Did you open the first few doors on your Advent Calendar yet? We are three days into the countdown of when Christians worldwide will celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.

I am very excited because this year my husband and I will be joining our son to experience a different kind of  Christmas – unlike any we have celebrated before. Here is a little of what I am anticipating.

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As you prepare for the holidays, take time out to experience the magic of the season. It’s hard to do that when we are rushing from one activity to another. Have a fulfilling Christmas by spending less. Here is an excellent article if you are looking for a richer holiday season.

Sometime during the next few weeks before I take off to my Christmas destination, I have planned an evening of peace and calm.  I will be bundling up and strolling through our snowy town one evening when all the stores have shut down. I want to take in the window dressing in the darkness of the evening. Perhaps I’ll stop in someplace for a hot toddy.

What do you plan to do this season that is a little different than what you’ve experienced previously?

For me, it’s  going to be a long Advent season, waiting and anticipating a reunion with our son whom I have not seen in ten months. We will be sharing this season of joy with others whom I have yet to meet before!

This blog is brought to you by the author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.