Tag Archives: literature

What Are the Arts? A Hollywood Standard

After spending more than my self-allotted time on Facebook today, the running theme was the Meryl Streep speech. This blog is not a political debate and I will not go into politics. However, I will discuss “arts.” Ms. Streep made a rather bold comment that has sent MMA fighters globally into an uproar, whether her intention or not.

Per Ms. Streep, “So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

The question now begging to be answered is: What are the arts? Are the arts only limited to those on stage or in productions? Have we lost sight of what the arts are? Have the arts  evolved or devolved?

According to Oxford, art can be defined as 1) the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. 2) (the arts) the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance. 3) a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice.

I would consider definition #2 to include artists, writers, poets, sculptors, singers/song writers, and dancers. In there I would add acting as well, as this is a dominant basis to portray stories through creative activity. That would be my opinion. Using the given Oxford definition then, Mixed Martial Arts, football, even culinary chefs would fall into definition #3, as they have honed into a special skill acquired through practice. This can also absorb definition #2, as a writer works at his skill acquired through practice: the art of writing. Similarly,  the art of song writing, the art of basket weaving, the art of sculpting, the art of dance, the art of fighting, heck even the art of war.

So here is my kick: as definition #2 (the arts) can easily dip into definition #3 (acquired skill), can acquired skill also be considered the arts? The definitions are so broad. Have you ever watched Tai Chi? The slow and fluid motions are almost poetic in nature and mesmerizing to watch. Would Tai Chi not be a creative activity defined as the arts? Again, the definition is quite broad and could not encompass every example of the arts, but instead gave the more prominent ones.

Glass blowing: the arts or an acquired skill; the art of glass blowing? Tai Chi versus MMA; is there a difference?

Definitions give to evolution in an ever changing world, but are the definitions variant through the eyes of the beholder?  A husband and wife go to an art museum. The wife is in awe of the sculptures and paintings, to her that is art. They walk into the next museum, an air and space museum, and the husband sees the curves, the mass, the depth of an old WWII fighter plane and says that is true art. Which one is wrong? Are they both correct? Couldn’t building a plane be considered a creative art? I’m sure the Wright Brothers would love to hear that argument.

My blog today was not to bash or trash, and definitely not to make a political statement, but rather to entice people to open their minds as to what is art and what are the arts. Are only the beautiful aspects to be considered art such as Tai Chi versus MMA? Are some form of the arts higher up on the evolutionary art ladder than others: slam poetry versus Hollywood movies? Is it art to portray a fighter in a movie but not to be a fighter? Is it art to portray a fighter pilot in war but not to be a fighter pilot in war?

Have we evolved or devolved our definition of the arts over time? And if all of Hollywood disappeared today, would the arts disappear with it?

I would love to hear your “non-political” input on what you consider to be the arts, or on Ms. Streep’s thoughts that without Hollywood there would be nothing left but football and MMA. Maybe the world could read the book instead of watching the film adaptation, but I’m a writer; I can dream.

Tania L Ramos, RN BSN & Author of the arts

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Book Fair Season is Back: Do You Need a Rep?

Aloooooooha! As the skies clear up, I am reminded that all the fun and exciting book fairs are starting up again.  This year, I vow to attend at least three in state and one out-of-state, and at least one conference or seminar.  This isn’t to say I won’t attend more, but alas, I am still part of the employed by day, write by night lifestyle.

latimesfobSo with so many wonderful fairs coming up, will you be going? First on the list for sunny Southern California, where I hale from, is the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.  I am looking forward to being a participant in this event this year and not just a bystander.  Though, it was pretty amazing to be a bystander last year.  All those books (insert drool).

I met so many great new authors, received so much valuable information, and walked away with too many books.  Is there such a thing as too many books? There were well over 500 booths spread across the beautiful USC campus.  There were speakers, live entertainment, and specialty sections for comics, poetry, children’s books, and more.  It went on for as far as the eye could see.

This year I am teaming up with my publicist at Blackbird LSD to share a tent on April 20-21st, 2013 at the USC campus.  He will be representing several authors who are unable to attend the event themselves for various reasons: work and distance seem to be the biggest factors.  There are several companies out there offering to do this anywhere from $1500 to $3,500, from what I have seen so far, and many only place a copy of the book on the shelf.  And only a handful of books are cover out, while hundred of them are spine out.

I almost paid for this service last year through a major publicity house at $1850 to feature my book or $2500 if I wanted to set up a one hour book signing time. I’m so glad I didn’t do it.  I passed their tent and it was set up like a book store with several swivel book shelves in the middle and a bunch of shelves against the perimeter.  It truly resembled a bookstore and when I inquired about some books, the woman there simply read the back of the book.  It was so cold, and there weren’t very many people in that tent.  My guess is, people were intimidated by the countless books and didn’t know where to begin.  On the other hand, the tents with fewer books had droves of people walking through, and those tents with people knowledgeable about the books definitely had a small gathering at all times.

So what my friends (and book lovers) at Blackbird LSD are doing this year, is purchasing a large tent and featuring books for authors who can not be there.  How is this different from the big companies with racks and shelves of books? Simple: quantity and quality.

They will only take a limited amount of books and try to hit different genres so there aren’t twenty war books competing with each other.  They will also create posters to be placed above each person’s book and each book will be cover out in it’s own section of the tent.  There will also be a flyer circulating with the titles of each book being repped, an author website or fan page listed, and a synopsis of the book next to it.  All books will also be listed with links on the Blackbird LSD website and social media accounts which include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.  They would also ask that each author also link some of the other authors at least once on their social media accounts to cross promote.

Blackbird LSD, we <3 books

Blackbird LSD, we

If you are in the Los Angeles area and would like to show up to do a book signing of your book that is represented, you are more than welcome.  I will share more information as it is given to me.  I know the L.A. Festival of Books is a great event and one not to be missed.  For more information on having your book represented please contact Daniel at editor@blackbirdlsd.  See you there.

Tania L Ramos

For more information on the L.A. Times festival of Books, click here

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Kirkus Review is Absolute Fail

While publishing my book Be Still, I was advised to purchase a trifecta package of reviews which was Kirkus, Blue Ink, and the last one I just don’t recall, but their big players.  Or so I am told. So I paid $1500 for all three reviews, and after six months I finally received my final review, which was from Kirkus, which in my opinion was an absolute fail, but I’ll get back to that.

First, my opinion on these high profile review houses: They aren’t worth the cost. seriously, I received better reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble from readers. Now, I’m not saying because they all left 5 star reviews, because some left less than that. God bless the world that everyone is able to have an opinion, and diverse ones at that.  I’m saying that the reviews left by John Q. Public were far more poignant–whether good or bad–than any three of the review houses I dished out for.

Second, being somewhat wet behind the ear as far as reviews went, i was under the impression that getting a good review from Kirkus, Blue Ink, or the other was going to send my career skyrocketing.  Not so.  In fact, Blue Ink and the other gave me wonderful reviews and I was very happy.  But they really do nothing to boost sales.  What I have discovered is that John Q. Public looks at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.  As do I.

Third, if I am going to dole out a small fortune, the least Kirkus can do is cite the correct book.  Their review states: Tania Ramos (not Tania L Ramos) author of When I Thought I was Tough 2011, writes about…. blah blah blah. And the review unfolds.  My vice: if I am paying you a month of my son’s tuition for school the least you can do is cite the correct book you are reviewing. For example, instead of speaking of When I Thought I Was Tough, 2011 you can cite the book you actually reviewed, Be Still, 2011. Am I wrong?

And my final rant about paid reviews: They spend an entire page giving a synopsis of the book (which is on the back of the book or inside jackets, by the way), and write a one sentenced opinion at the very end.  And sometimes the opinion is that of a fifth grader, “Two thumbs up.” Hmmmm. I paid for two thumbs up? Holy moly, that’s like $350 a word between three review houses.

Okay fellow readers and authors, this is what I ask of you: if you read a book, please leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads or anywhere else.  You all do a much better job at reviews than the paid for reviews. So what did Kirkus say? Well, after citing the incorrect book, they did a synopsis, and closed with “a heartfelt novel weighed down by melodrama.”

kirkus reviewLike I said, I don’t mind the review not being the best, but that was a lot of money for a one sentence bottom-line review.  I will never pay for another big name review again. Opinions on this? Is there really a reason to pay for these big reviews?

Writers Must Find Their Way Out

I was eating a plum yesterday and noticed a small hole on one side.  A worm perhaps.  And it made me think how it pertained to writing or just following that big ol’ dream.  You see, most people think the worm is trying to get into the fruit, but that just isn’t the case.  In fact, a fly laid an egg (larva) on a flower which turned into the fruit–and a quite cozy nesting place for a birthing worm.  So the worm is born confined in the fruit and burrows its way out and there we have a worm hole.

How does it pertain: Simple.  I’ve spent days now, so far as weeks bleeding into months, working on promoting, publicizing, and marketing my book.  Truth be told, and makes me sad, but I’ve spent more time in post production than I have in writing the book.  For me, writing is the easy part.  Give me some free days, a laptop, venti iced green tea with no sweetener from Starbucks, and a good story line in a country song and I will be running out the gate.  For me, as a writer, I feel like a have left my baby on a budding flower waiting for it to be born.  But instead of it growing and flying away and showing itself to the world, it has been engulfed by the fruit.  I wish I could say it was the fruit of my labor but that metaphor doesn’t fit here.

Fruit in this case is the world of self publishing: the press releases, the media kits, the connections, the bottomless pit of money to be dished out, the marketing, promoting, and advertising that all keep my book hidden until I learn to devour the obstacles and push through.  Then, and only then, will my creation be free to show itself to the world.  And maybe some people will look at it and see a disgusting blowfly, but I’m hoping the majority will see a huge, elegant butterfly and stand in amazement while thinking, “This was worth the wait.”

I have met so many wonderful people through my course as a writer and it has only been a year.  I have learned so much.  I can only hope that somewhere, somehow I have been an inspiration to someone struggling to keep moving forward.  I don’t know if I’ll sell one or a million.  I don’t know if Iuniverse is a scam and I’ll never see my royalty checks.  What I do know is that I have loved this journey, every minute of it, and I will continue to write and self publish if that is my only option, because I love writing and I want the world to hear the stories that have been given to me.  I will not waste my gift any longer.  I have kept it cocooned away far too long.  Please, don’t waste your gift or someone else will take it from you.