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Yearly Business Review: 3 Books & a Magazine

3 Books & 1 Magazine - Year End Review 2017As I work on my year-end review, I’m taking a moment today to reflect on my recent publishing projects. Unbelievably, I’ve released 3 books and a magazine in the last 14 months! The small changes I made to my schedule early in the year translated into increased productivity.  When paired my strong team of collaborators, 2017 was my most prolific year of publishing.

Read about my 3 Productivity Tweaks


I’m so grateful for the wonderful team of writers, photographers, and artists I’ve worked with during 2017.  Without this talented group of collaborators, I could not have produced such a large and diverse collection of publishing projects.

Thank You for Being on My Team

I have to start the shout-outs with photographer Alisha Westerfeld, with whom I’ve literally traveled the world.  She and I have produced dozens of belly dance shows and events in the past. She’s got a great eye, and I was so happy when she joined my publication team. So far, we’ve worked on five publications and have two more in the pipeline. 

I was thrilled to connect with my co-authors Sara Shrapnell and Poppy Maya, who invited Alisha and me to join the team for the seminal book, Becoming a Belly Dancer. This group also forms the core of the production team for our new project, Amabella Magazine. I also want to blast out a huge thank you to all of the ladies who joined us as models for the books and magazines that I’ve released and that are still in the pipeline.  Thank you all for bringing your beauty, style, and grace to all of our photoshoots!

In late 2016, teamed up with the talented illustrator George Goncalves and we collaborated on several images in Zills and we worked together on all the designs in our latest book, Color Theory with Pencils & Mandalas. I’ve also been fortunate to collaborate with celebrity belly dance photographer Michael Baxter and am looking forward to our next photo shoot.

I’m also grateful for the team members who work with me on more back-end projects. I have a posse of editors including Michael Hyde, Joe Engledow, Chris Schoedel, Nancy Hernandez, and of course, my mom! Without the help of these editors, I would sound like an utter and complete dork.  On the tech support front, I’m deeply indebted to Barry Brown and Jerry Case who keep this blog rolling and who rescue me out when I’m having technical difficulties.

Becoming a Belly Dancer:
From Student to Stage

As we celebrated New Years 2017, I was still tidying up the loose ends of my 2016 main project. I worked with a fabulous team including our lead author Sara Shrapnell, photographer Alisha Westerfeld, and super-glamorous international dance star and our cover girl, Poppy Maya. We were still making final tweaks early this year fixing typos and layout issues and making it as practically perfect as possible!

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that our team worked for more than a year taking photos, writing, and editing this book. This was the biggest book I’ve ever laid out. At about 400 pages, this is a complete and comprehensive reference for belly dancers at all levels of their dance journey. It really has become a seminal book on the topic of belly dance. I am so flipping proud of this book!

Find out more about this book here

Zills: Music on Your Fingertips

Although we went a bit over our self-imposed deadline for Becoming a Belly Dancer, I still managed to squeeze out some time working on my own publication, Zills: Music on Your Fingertips.  Although I was hoping to have it completely finished by the end of 2016, we were still working on the edits at the start of the year.  Along with lots of info about the history, use, selection, and care of finger cymbals, there are great photos by Alisha Westerfeld and beautiful illustrations by George Goncalves.

This book was so much fun for me to write because I love the history, metallurgy, and construction of finger cymbals. This book gave me the opportunity to share information about the ancient origins of our favorite instruments. This is super-nerdy stuff, but I was pleased to have the opportunity to bring this arcane knowledge to the world. One of the highlights of the year was being interviewed on the Belly Geek podcast to talk about Zills.

Listen to the Belly Geek Podcast #48 about Zills here.
Find out more about this book here.

Amabella Magazine

I love belly dance magazines!  However, the entire landscape of the magazine industry has changed in the past few years. There are simply fewer publications due to the increased expenses of printing and shipping. Many of my favorite magazines have ended due to lower subscription rates and loss of advertiser revenue.

But new technology has created opportunities to produce projects digitally.  Many years ago, I made a one-off Costumer’s Notes magazine. This was a fun “behind the scenes” about the making of the book, The Cloth of Egypt: All About Assiut. So I knew I could create a magazine if I had a team to help put it together.

I wanted to create a woman’s publication style magazine with a general belly dance theme. Amabella means “Beautiful Woman” in Latin, and I choose the name to reflect the main mission of this publication to be entertaining, inspiring, and informative. This first slender issue, V0 was designed as a proof of concept publication to see if the community was interested in a new magazine. The results were astonishing!  We’re in the middle of setting up a comprehensive website, putting together our advertising specifications and editorial guidelines, and will be launching our first full-sized Volume 1 in late spring.  It’s so gratifying when dreams come true!

Read Amabella Magazine on the Issuu website here.
Read Costumers Notes Magazine on the Issuu website here.

Color Theory with Pencils & Mandalas

In preparation for releasing a new digital costume design course in 2018, I decided to turn my rather substantial handout on color harmony into a full-sized printed publication. Color Theory with Pencils & Mandalas is one part workbook and two parts coloring book.

For many years I’ve been teaching a course entitled “Think Like a Designer.”  This class began life years ago when I was teaching at the junior college level. This dully named,  “Introduction to Fashion Design,”  evolved into a series of workshops that focus specifically on belly dance costuming.

Because I had so much fun working with illustrator George Goncalves on the Zills book that I invited him to join me on this project. Over the summer, we worked together to create a collection of mandalas, hamsas, and circular design motifs from around the globe. Our mission was to present the reader with the basic info about color theory and then offer them opportunities to experiment color on paper. I’m currently working on some demo videos for my YouTube channel, so stay tuned for more info!

Find out more about Color Theory with Pencils & Mandalas here.

Wow!  What a hugely productive publishing year I’ve had!  This process of end of year review is such a help in evaluating what worked and what didn’t so I can effectively plan for next year.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another post! 
Until then, have dance well, be well, live well,
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
Dec. 18, 2017

2017 Year End Review:
Read #1 – Productivity Strategies: What Worked in 2017
Read #2 – Publications: 3 Books and 1 Magazine

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