I‘ll be traveling today back to California from St. Petersburg, Florida, where I attended the NINC conference. One of the topics that snagged my interest was the future of interactive media and the role of audio books, but not the audio books we know of today. We're talking audio books with multimedia platforms. Imagine yourself being able to “read” a story, and then with the press of a button, being able to get background information about the world you were reading or listening to, or the characters, past plots or characters or worlds. Much like an “online magazine” this could be done as a subscription service. Suppose you were able to learn about love, romance, learn about writing romance, or the love story behind the love story in film, song and the written word.
What we have to look forward to is innovation. The changes that occurred in the music business are now happening in the digital print business, where thousands of new Indie books are made available every day. Authors are re-releasing and freshening up old works that sat on a shelf somewhere. Books that were once thought of as not commercially viable by “gatekeepers” are now allowed to find their own audience. In this new age and time, being the biggest isn't necessarily the best. Being traditional doesn't have the security blanket it once had. Making a good living is just as important a goal as being the next best E.L. James or Stephanie Meyer. In this interesting time, creativity and innovation are more important than size. That's what the Indie revolution has been all about.
I have begun a quest for innovation and am looking to get involved in this new multimedia platform. There are innovators out there right now who are going to bring you new things you haven't even imagined yet. An author may not just be a person sitting in their writing cave putting words on the page, but also someone who collaborates with actors, storytellers in voice and film, people who can enhance the story experience. Reading will be combined with listening and research. Think of what we do today with our favorite online magazines. We see audio clips, pictures, hear narrations and can search archives of past related topics, some of them preselected based on our interests.
Nothing will replace a good, physical book. Just like there isn't anything that could completely duplicate the sheer joy I had in listening to my little record player as a child. My friend, J.D. Hart, sent me an antique machine that could very well have been the one I used to listen to. It reminds me that joy is derived through many mediums. The goal of the artist is to connect the “consumer” with the vision in the artist's head.
And who will be these innovators? As was said in the conference, it won't be from the people up on stage or teaching a class or on a panel discussion. It will be from the imagination of people in the audience who will watch and listen, and come up with something new and exciting. Who will say to themselves and their collaborators, “Why Not?”
There is no formula for success. But one thing I do know for certain is that we don't chase it.
WE INVENT IT
NYT and USA/Today and Amazon Top 100 Bestselling Author Sharon Hamilton’s SEAL Brotherhood series have earned her Amazon author rankings of #1 in Romantic Suspense, Military Romance and Contemporary Romance. Her characters follow a sometimes rocky road to redemption through passion and true love. Her Golden Vampires of Tuscany earned her a #1 Amazon author ranking in Gothic Romance.
A lifelong organic vegetable and flower gardener, Sharon and her husband live in the Wine Country of Northern California, where most of her stories take place.
I've walked past this little store for what I thought was a year. Turns out it's been open for three. Who would have thought this little hat store would thrive in the heart of Wine Country where we have foodies and wine enthusiasts from all over the world descend. But apparently it does. What makes it special is that they custom make their hats. Except or the special ones for the Kentucky Derby, they specialize in making men's hats. I didn't even know there was an industry for this, but I'm not a guy.
Every Easter, my mother would wear the widest brimmed hat she could find. She'd wear it straight on her face, bisecting her large square forehead and covering up her widow's peak someone from one of her father's churches said was the sign of the devil. I always thought she looked like Saturn with its rings. I wasn't into hats or gloves, another thing we wore on Easter and when we went to New York City, where every other person would yell “tourist” as we walked down the street. Made absolutely no difference to my mother, no matter how mortified my little brother and I were. It was a Miss Jean Brody kind of moment, “Come along,” and of course we would. I mean, how would we get back to California?
Later I would love the big floppy hats wit huge flowers all over it in my hippie youth, wearing them with granny dresses, platform shoes with real hardwood heels that really hurt when you turned your ankle, peace symbols and the biggest hoop earrings we could manage that wouldn't drag on our shoulders. Wearing a hat was a statement, just like the statement my mother made in church. With that straight brim and her strong brown eyes that could see right through a person, she might as well have worn a holster and a Colt .45. She was aiming for souls. I was so glad to be invisible and only in grammar school, where acting up was still a little on the cute side. I didn't have the taste for conquest. That wouldn't happen until later and then, well, that's another story.
This hat store was enchanting. Hats are very personal things. I became a different character with each little hit I tried on. A small green pointy hat screamed for a clown face and big red nose. The black clutch hats with a veil made me feel like the merry black widow plotting murder and mayhem. And then I came upon the mushroom hats.
Made in the mountains of Transylvania! How perfect for a pre-Halloween post. These hats are actually made from a special mushroom only grown there, and being harvested right now. I'm not sure if this was the birth of the phrase, “I'll eat my hat,” but in California you never eat mushrooms without a spirit guide, not to mention an Emergency Room close at hand. They are odd little buttons, but very velvety and look more like imitation mushroom instead of the real thing. But they are the real thing. They even smell like real mushrooms.
I rather liked this one in the end. It wasn't hippie, but had an ancient ancestor there. It was already folded and scrunched, which is more my style than the straight brimmed hat that had to live in a hat box three feet in diameter on a top shelf forever. I can't do the little feather and things the Queen Mum used to wear, but this one seemed to suit me.
So, hat's off to a great little store. As I wear two hats and launch into my 8th SEAL Brotherhood Series book, SEAL's Promise, I'm also promoting my paranormal series The Golden Vampires of Tuscany and The Guardians. Who says you can't wear two hats? I'm rather proud to say I can.
NYT and USA/Today and Amazon Top 100 Best Selling Author Sharon Hamilton’s SEAL Brotherhood series have earned her Amazon author rankings of #1 in Romantic Suspense, Military Romance and Contemporary Romance. Her characters follow a sometimes rocky road to redemption through passion and true love. Her Golden Vampires of Tuscany earned her a #1 Amazon author ranking in Gothic Romance. A lifelong organic vegetable and flower gardener, Sharon and her husband live in the Wine Country of Northern California, where most of her stories take place.
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I've bought several colorful pieces of artwork over the past year that just make me happy looking at them. I bought this piece to celebrate the completion of another book. I knew when I first saw it, I had to have it. We decided to prominently display it in our living room. It was something that characterizes our family, and our family's history. Since the words on the piece might be too small to see, I thought I'd list them in this post.
IN THIS HOME:
1. We do second chances.
2. We do grace.
3. We do real.
4. We do mistakes.
5. We do I'm sorrys.
6. We do loud, really well.
7. We do hugs.
8. We do family.
9. We do love.
Sometimes I think we spend too much time thinking about the things that didn't go right, when all the great lessons in life come from the things that go a little wrong. Sometimes that go a lot wrong. I've been spending a lot of time writing recently about family, or lack of family, and how that impacts a character in my story. My family is very important to me. And just like everyone's it too is flawed. But yes, I believe in second chances, in being loud, in loving more than disapproving, making mistakes and being sorry.
I just thought I'd keep it simple today. Keep it real.
What about you?
I was just awarded a tiara by Sabrina York, one of my fellow writers in the highly (and still) successful anthology of all SEALhunks, Hot Alpha SEALs. It was a thank you because one kind reviewer said the person who brought this group together deserved a crown or tiara. I guess that would be me. Well, it started with me, but then the whole group did so much to make this a smashing success, I hardly feel like I deserve it. But I do consider myself somewhat of a princess from time to time. So like they say, “If the boots (I've been to Nashville) fit, wear them. I rather like the way this tiara sits atop my head so I'm claiming it.
I had many years selling real estate, as most of you know, and so many stories that will someday get into a book, but one of the funniest ones came to mind when I was unwrapping Sabrina's package. One of my dear Realtor friends from the D.C. area had a game she played with her staff. It got her office meetings off to a great start in the mornings. They had a big bin of hats and each person would choose one and wear it to the office meeting. I think the requirement was that you had to pick one that most closely matched your mood. My friend was always being accused of having a Princess complex, and so she chose the tiara. They had their meeting that day. Her staff puts away the hats and Jane went to her office, picked up her listing file and left for her appointment.
I think she was meeting with a new senator that day. She had a great rapport with the couple, all the while noting they were examining how she was dressed, smiling, including her hair. Jane thought to herself that she must be especially good looking that particular day (and she usually was impeccably dressed), especially her hair. Until she got in her car after the appointment, and, looking in the rear view mirror, she noticed she had never taken her tiara off.
I've done things like this before too, like hold the open house in the wrong house (which became the basis for my Chapter 1 in Accidental SEAL, the audio book is on special), and although I didn't meet a hunky naked SEAL on the bed, I have found naked men sleeping when I was showing houses. A writer can take inspiration from anything, so I combined these two events into one. The pantyhose never happened. Well, only in my dreams!
I've listed property being at the wrong address too, so sure I had an appointment there, insisting they'd forgotten the appointment, don't you know. Because I'm a princess. I'm perfect. Only after writing down the notes and double checking the address finding I'd just listed someone's condo who had never made that appointment with me. I know what you're thinking, “Sharon's dangerous.” Well, I was the No. 1 agent for a time north of San Francisco, for the No. 1 company. You don't get there by being squeaky clean.
But when I am confident in myself I can do anything. What about you? Do You have a similar story where you did something you would have never done, had you known you were making a mistake? I was lucky that the couple wanted to move, just like Jane was lucky the senator and his wife had already made up their mind to hire her. Who knows what they thought, but Jane had the confidence to go forward and because of her confidence took their extra scrutiny as a compliment. Had she been fearful an opportunity could be lost. And then there was my friend the Realtor from Utah, a former Miss Utah, USA contestant, who lost her front tooth cap into the client's fountain and had to do the presentation to them practically toothless. Another story for another time.
Having confidence in our writing, our stories, keeps us in good mental health. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. We have highs and lows. We make mistakes, sometimes really big ones. But in the end, we just keep on plugging along, our butt in the chair. I hope I never stop laughing at myself. I'd love to hear your stories too, if you have one, or have one you've heard.