Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Proud Souls"--July 11th, 2007

Every Book Deserves A Cover (Artist)


In the early part of 2007 I was very fortunate to have found the cover art and artist for this project, "Proud Souls." I knew what I wanted for a cover concept but finding the right image and then yet still, finding something unique was proving early to be a daunting task. I envisioned an image of a tree, but not just any tree on the front cover. I chose a tree for various reasons, the first being the more obvious to those with a keen eye for what my English teacher, Mr. Kenneth Polito of North Side High would say, symbolism. Trees have always played a seemingly important role within the mythological history of a vast majority of the world's cultures. They most commonly signify life and death, which is a major theme within "Proud Souls." Christians know the story of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life; the ancient epic story of Gilgamesh tells the tale of his search for the symbolic tree of life. In Norse mythology, the sacred tree Yggdrasil was said to run from the north pole of the earth to the south, whereby each end of the tree (ends) represented either Life or Death. And with such symnbolism I wanted not only a tree which juxtaposed my antogonist--Justin Olerude Bower--but the look and feel which paralleled the essence of his character throughout the opening to the journey within "Proud Souls."



Enter my new friend, Maria Sanchez of SandiaFria.com:


During my search and with the help of my very close and personal friend, Jeff Sneed, we spanned the Internet for hours, working to find the right image, not just one that represented the vision I had within my mind, but one that was unique and would truly represent "Proud Souls" in the fashion I felt the story deserved. Jeff being a digital guru, even went as far as to create a digital image based on my vision for the cover. But in the end I ran across a tree painted by an artist based out of California--Maria Sanchez. I wrote her a brief yet descriptive letter, telling her about my project and my vision and she cordially obliged my request, authorizing me the right to use one of her arbol series paintings as the possible cover to PS. But like any good computer geek--Jeff and I--went to work and essentially, for lack of a better term, destroyed her art and tried to make it our own. We altered the colors the imagery, etc. and in the end, I could sense in Maria displeasure.




I thought about that moment for a while and I tried to put myself in Maria's shoes--the artists' shoes--and although I am not a painter, I am an artist nonetheless. I knew how I might feel if someone asked for permission to use my work, perhaps an excerpt of my novel and then alter it to fit their needs. I did apologize to Maria and I called her and explained the vision for the cover. I sent her a complimentary copy of the first 3 chapters to "Proud Souls" and as if it were yesterday, I remember Maria's response.




She told me she was in love with my writing and had a vision herself for the cover. On a Wednesday night she emailed me and told me she was working on a new painting, just for the book and a couple of days later it was done. The "Proud Souls Tree" is what she called it....and it was perfect.




~Bobby Ozuna
"Drawing Stories...With Words"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"Proud Souls"--July 10th, 2007

Never Judge A Book...

The most interesting aspect of being a self-published writer comes with dealing with all the headaches of the business aspect of writing. See, being a writer is hard enough. First you have this great and wonderful idea for a story and naturally being optimistic and creative you are almost certain EVERYONE will love the story. You begin writing the draft, and for me this means writing roughly 90% of the story on paper. As I have mentioned before, I write on paper to allow the free-form creativity to flow without hinderance of spell or grammar check within a word processing application. Once this initial draft is completed I begin the painstaking process of transferring the story to typed text. From there comes the meticulous order of correcting punctuation, grammar, sentence flow, etc. Next comes the re-reads and then the re-reads and if you weren't sure when the re-read process begins, this is it! Naturally, anyone can write a story, as we all have the means to share or create a tale that will easily be identified with most people. But the trick to creative and drafting a well written story isn't always knowing when to use a comma and/or semicolon. There is a fundamental process of storyflow that can only be learned in time, by reading other "quality" stories and studying the art of crafting a well-rounded story. Now please, don't get me wrong. I would NEVER say there is a set rule for creating a story because to take that approach would kill the ideal that writing is indeed an artform. But I will say, ask any painter and they might agree with the following statement. Anyone can put paint on a canvas but not anyone can paint a picture. There are minute details critical to the artistic process, such as shadow, perspective and texture. These techniques can only be learned in time with hours of stressful and yet satisfying practice. The same applies true to writing.

Now, where was I going with this? Oh yes, I remember, the never judge a book concept. Now with all this said, I can say I have worked as hard I could, with the tools and abilities I had at my expense to create the best FIRST novel I could produce, not only for myself--because an artist and professional owes it to themselves to be as true and honest and as capable as possible--but for those who would ever invest time or money with my story, "Proud Souls." And this is my official Bobby Ozuna stance on the content within "Proud Souls."
I DO NOT WRITE SMUT. I write literature.

Okay Bobby, are you saying, a novelist who writes erotica is not producing literature? No way, I would never say that. There is a difference between raw, pornographic (storytelling) and erotic literature. Remember at the very basis of writing all novelist are still nothing more than story-tellers. We are entertainers of the written page who try (as hard as we can) to allow our reading audience to partake on a written journey somewhere other than their common, everyday world. And as novelist we are responsible to produce the best possible story we can. An author who writes erotica works no less hard at producing realistic characters and realistic emotion as would someone who writes within my classification--literary fiction (no genre). And with this said, you have to understand that each writer is responsible for locating and targeting their market readers, agents, publishing houses, etc. Now for me, as an independent publisher, this means locating the right partners to work as distribution means and the right printing partners to produce the best (possible) book for our reading audience. I thought I found that....but recently that has changed....

For the sake of ethical business, I won't drop names, but I will say this. Recently, my printer (partner) has bailed on me and more so, on "Proud Souls." We had a verbal agreement to do business together. We, Ozuna Publications created the novel and the cover content and they were hired to produce the actual completed product. Well, for reasons beyond my understanding they have decided to "wash their hands of Proud Souls and its author" to quote them. Apparently their business owner (says he) read "Proud Souls" and after doing so, decided to drop me and my book. Now I appreciate their honesty and their right to defend their own business and ethical beliefs, as they were a "christian company", but they are also a business with NO disclaimer or customer/partner survey or documentation to say they will bind/print books ONLY if they are written to edify or glorify the kingdom of heaven. This wasn't clarified up front and because of that, I found myself in a position of having to look elsewhere and hurriedly find another business partner. Now, as a publisher, I know I shouldn't necessarily offer this information because as a good friend of mine once said, what happens between vendors is NOT the customers problem. But as a writer I felt obliged to share this burden because my goal within my blogs were to offer advice, helpful tidbits of information, etc, to you the audience.

Do not fret however, "Proud Souls" is available for purchase because we did get our first run completed. I can't say how it will affect you as the reader, whether it will upset you because of your own pre-determined expectations or shock you because it has a bad word here and there. What I can say is this, it has stirred its own controversy without my help. It has made people cry, laugh, even aroused a reader or two. So, before you are quick to say I wont read it, remember the old saying, "never judge a book by its cover." Or for that matter, don't judge the author by the content... remember we are merely story-tellers and nothing more.

Sincerely,

Bobby Ozuna
"Drawing Stories...With Words"
www.BobbyOzunaOnline.com

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

"So Much To Say"

“So much to say”

It has been a while since I have posted a blog and I have already fallen short with one of my personal goals for this year—to post a blog at least once a week. So, for those of you who have been avid readers of my weekly gibberish, I do apologize.

So, now where do I begin? So much has transpired since I wrote last and I have so much to say, I honestly, don’t know where to begin. Hmmm. Okay, I got it! How about I start out going backwards since the better news is the more recent?

Well, for starters I landed my first contract with a “brick & mortar” bookstore, as they say in the literary world. I met with Peggy Turner of “Connections Bookstore” in Ft. Worth and after a 30~45 minute meeting we agreed to “do business” together. Peggy has agreed to stock and order a small (baby-steps small) quantity of “Proud Souls” under the stipulation that should we sell them, we can order/distribute more. It was an amazing feeling to shake hands, sit down in a comfortable relaxed environment (I mean, come on now…we were in a bookstore) to discuss the business aspect of publishing that up until now I had only read about. I consider myself very fortunate and very lucky to have met Peggy. I allowed her to take control of the meeting and let her dictate the questions—and she had many of them—questions about my publishing company, my legitimacy, the distribution means and some questions about the book and more questions about me.

Now, I noticed in Peggy something I have begun to see in my readers (even those who are yet to actually read “Proud Souls”). She wanted to hear enough about the story, to feel as though it deserved to be read, but cared to know more about the man behind the story—me! Her final words to me before that meeting concluded were this. “I like you…I’ll buy from you.”

The best way I could possibly describe this emotion—amazing! Purely amazing! This entire process has been both overwhelming and rewarding. I have gone from secrecy (with regards to my passion for writing) to full exposure. I have taken the concept of a story, a daydream and a thought, and in (almost) exactly two-years later I have produced—what I consider to be—a pretty darn good story. I am honored that “Proud Souls” has earned the respect it has thus far from those few people who have read it. It seems with every reader of this story, is a fire within them to share the story with someone else. I have been held at such high regard—not personally, but professionally—because of this story. People EXPECT the story to do well. They expect me to try harder than they might push themselves, not for my glory and honor, but for Justin and Tessa…for Ralph Winslow Parison and Reverend Hillard Ray Polk. After all, as much as this novel was my story, my baby and a part of my own soul, it has taken on a life of its own and become their story—all of them—each of the characters produced within the imagination of my mind.

You will find that “Proud Souls” can touch almost anyone, as this story touches on the senses that are common to us all. There is bitterness in my hero, Justin Olerude Bower, borne from the loss of his wife and son. There is arousal, spewing from Tessa Jameson, as she touches and caresses and watches her own self within the soft lit lighting of her restroom mirrors. There is regret in Ralph Winslow Parison and it is hardened with each sip of his whiskey and shooed away with the church house pamphlets from Sunday morning worship services. And there is reason within Reverend Hilliard Ray Polk. Remember, its just a story, one that I created between various moments within my life. I am honored to see it on a bookstore shelf and thankful to those who have purchased and will, not so much out of the kindness of their heart, but in their faith in me.
Sincerely,

~Bobby Ozuna
“Drawing Stories…With Words”

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