Today I am excited to turn the blog over to Joely Sue Burkhart!
I’m a very visual writer. I like to fully cast my books with real life actors before I start (in a perfect world, I’d have the Rock and Clive Owen starring in just about every single book…) or at least find stock photos that are close. It’s not that it helps the character become more real in my mind — they usually show up pretty well fleshed out with their own sometimes annoying personalities — but it makes art sheets, covers, and other promo materials like trading cards easier.
When I cross into the SFF/paranormal realm, it’s hard to find the right image for my hero. He’s usually otherworldly in some way. Larger than life. Sometimes he has supernatural powers. How do you capture that in a stock image? It’s pretty hard.
I’d already written The Bloodgate Warrior and had some interesting images of Tecun lined up. There’s a statue of him that I often looked at. But it was hard to get something I could really put my hands on. He was a legend, yes, but I was making him a god, too. How do you capture that in a simple image?
Out of the blue, I got an incredible package from a blogger and reviewer at The Itzel Library in Mexico. She’d contacted me at least a year before about some of my free reads she’d enjoyed, and I gladly sent her Conn and Victor. To thank me, she sent some lovely handmade items from the Chiapas region of Mexico, very close to where the Bloodgate books have been set (mostly Guatemala, but I’m dying to make my way to Palenque).
The gift came at a crucial time. I was neck-deep in extensive developmental edits on The Bloodgate Warrior and kind of at the end of my rope. Adding to a finished work is hard. It’s that whole “butterfly effect”: a butterfly flaps its wings in chapter one and the entire book changes. My editor, Alissa, asked me to add more journal entries and to beef up some other items, and I was trying to juggle five hundred balls and pull them through in a logical way that didn’t wreck the book entirely.
Then I got this statue from Yel. And I knew.
It was Tecun. He’d come to help me.
He sits on my desk now, his wise, proud face telling me to keep pushing. Dig deeper. The magic I need is there.
Thank you, Yel, for sending Tecun to my rescue!
The moral of the story is twofold:
Readers, don’t be afraid to reach out to authors when you’ve enjoyed their books. We love to hear from you and will often happily send presents!
Authors, don’t limit your audience to only the United States. In a digital world, the only boundaries are the ones we ourselves enforce. (Can I add here that I hate geo restrictions?!?!) I’ve sent packages to Mexico, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Canada, and Australia. Yes, it does get expensive at times. But how can you put a price on making such unique and wonderful connections all across the globe?
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