Friday, December 27, 2013

Faceless No More--Creating a Book Community in the Electronic Publishing Age

One of the great joys of being a writer today is the sense of community that has begun to develop around the entire "industry."  Thanks to electronic publishing and audio-production sites like, people who might have slogged it out for years in the faceless world of traditional book publishing without success are now able to take matters into their own hands and reach out to other local (and sometimes not so local) folks to help make their words heard.

For instance, the beautiful graphic above was designed by Kathy Haug, who lives in Indianola, a small town just north of Bainbridge Island.  I met Kathy at church where she plays the piano and is heavily involved in worship and church "publication" issues. Once upon a time she studied grizzly bears and now she is a webpage creator and graphic designer--I LOVE that! She and I sat down with my first book and she designed a wonderful cover for me.  I had a lot of control in the process, she got to learn to do a few new tricks on her trusty computer and we laughed a great deal through-out.

I also meet with other science fiction writers on the island, a group that has been together for nearly 15 years and is finding that their work is easier to get "out there" now, thanks to the changes of electronic publishing and the reach of the internet. We are learning the new languages of social media together, even as we keep pushing the bubble of what is technologically possible for our species, and peeking into the closet where monsters are still real and breathing. Believe me.  We can show you. Just read some of our stories! The main thing is, we know we aren't working alone.  Our words will be heard, in the intimate corner of the Eagle Harbor Bookstore at the very least.  And yes, there is much laughter there as well!

At the same time, the narrators for my Children of the Great Reckoning Series, The Dreamcatcher Fallacy and Folds of the Script, and my non-fiction work Easing into the Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, live on the East Coast, Texas and Hawaii.  I've never met them personally, but through their websites and emails, I am getting to know them bit by bit. One is an acting school graduate and has competed in Shakespeare competitions.  Another is studying to become a professional narrator (what a cool job). The other is a chef, shaman and near as I can tell, a perpetually grinning gentleman delighted with the gift of simply being alive.  It all comes through his voice, too, by the way.  They are three wonderful contacts in this publishing village.

My newest book, Folds of the Script, further expanded the boundaries of my world when I met Cliona Dolan who was visiting from Ireland.  I told her I wanted a good Irish name for the main character in Folds and she immediately brightened up and said, "how about Ciaran Dolan?"

I loved it!

I went on to learn that Ciaran was her brother, a man who had died too young and who loved to write fantasy and science fiction. Our birthdays are only days apart. So the main character in my book really is tied to Irish roots, to a family there, and to the energy of the creative writing life.

And of course, when the finished product is ready to test its fledgling wings, it's generally local friends and family who buy those first copies, write those first precious reviews, give the big hugs, or at the very least, ask for electronic signatures on Facebook (yes, you know exactly who you are, my Portland-but-from-Alpena friend.)  But with each world-level contact, I am once again ushered back into the larger human family, from Ireland to Hawaii.

And selfish as it may sound, that might be the biggest "life long" contract and payoff of all.


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