Sunday Evening Art Gallery on Friday — Tresor Mukonkole

The goal of Tresor Mukonkole’s artistic vision is to illustrate certain complexities, including his artistic point of view, of the world.Mukonkole comes from the Congo, an unstable country on all fronts,  underground rich in minerals, yet full of numerous conflicts between different political and economic factors.

From the soil of the Congo, his homeland, his work as an artist is about the analysis of the presence of man on earth, and his impact on everything, especially the environment and the future of nature.Mukonkole says he produces a narrative from his paintings with butterflies in order to express himself on the beauty and the fragility embodied by nature and the earth.His artistic work aims to illustrate his perspective as an artist on the threats to our environment by presenting a glimmer of positivity to replace the darkness.Despite the complexities of his world and his artistic calling, his butterfly paintings are bright and full of life and hope.

More of Tresor Mukonkole‘s beautiful work can be found at http://mukonkole.com/lipekapeka/.

 

 

Manipulation

It’s that time of year again. That time of year that brings more emotional conflict than which kind of ice cream I want for dinner.

The time of year that makes me an unwilling curmudgeon in a season of love and peace.

It’s the Christmas Season. The season of love, of giving, of a baby being born in Bethlehem. The season of helping those less fortunate than you, the season of old traditions and new beginnings.

The TV shows. The TV commercials. Online postings. Social media. The hints, the innuendos, the facts. My poor old heart is having a harder and harder time sifting through the sentimental stuff. 

Perhaps it’s just my age showing. But I am inclined to think it is more the advertising industry taking advantage of my sentimental, over-emotional heart. 

And I don’t like it.

I’ve already seen TV commercials about kids making video books for grandpa about his life with their (obviously deceased) grandma. I’ve seen poor, starving dogs united with fosters and adoptees who will give them a better life. I’ve seen lonely people make friends and the solo star of Bethlehem sparkle above a cold Earth, all to the tune of slow, sad music.

I’m sure you know I’m the last person in the world to be anti-Christmas. Last to be anti-emotional. I love my kids and grandkids and my friends and family to the moon and back. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to make their lives better.

But I’m also tired of getting teary-eyed and having my emotions flicked every time I turn around.

In my own defense, I am a sentimental crybaby. I admit that. Always have been. Get all teared up listing to others share their crying jags on this movie or that movie. Crying when the dog dies, the mother dies, when the tree dies.

Advertisers know how to manipulate our emotional strings with visions of old people and young people and just the right music and sentiment, throwing in the product as almost a side-step maneuver.

And I resent being manipulated.

I know there is a percentage of the population that is cold hearted about Christmas and any other thing having to do with humanity. That’s their problem. We don’t need people like that in our lives anyway.

There are far more people who help others EVERY day — not just during jingle bell season. We don’t need to be told to do so at any particular time of year. We help all the time in all sorts of situations. 

A little encouragement to love each other never hurts, of course. But to sentimentalize every thought and passing we have is a little cruel to those of us who tear up at thoughts of our lost family members or days gone by or the days of Christmas past. 

I guess the best solution is to cut out TV and social media for the next 22 days. Which isn’t such a bad idea at all. In fact, I should shun the entertainment world for the next 22 months. I should also skip any puppy/baby/grandparents scenario with a Christmas tree in the background on Facebook.

But awww…. those cute little faces…… sniff……

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Peter Jansen

Peter Jansen (1956) studied Physics and Philosophy at the university.

For a number of years he worked as a guide, accompanying groups on survival and canoe trips, after which he dedicated his live entirely to the arts.

Based on his ideas on transposition and movement the artist uses shapes of the human body to create energetic spaces.

In his earlier works he focused on open spaces, created almost free of matter and weight.

In his recent sculptures he captures sequences of human movements in space and time, in a single frame.

More of Peter Jansen‘s amazing sculptures can be found across the Internet.

 

Give the Gift of Creativity

It’s getting to be that time of year…. wanting to show those you care about how much you are about them. Have no idea of what to give a good friend or favorite sister-in-law for Christmas?

Just in time for the Holiday Season, I’d like to share just a couple of the many unique products I’ve found on some of the blog sites I follow. Please visit these sites. Read about the artists, check out their amazing work, and see if there is a perfect gift waiting for you or those you love.

 

The Alchemist’s Studio – Jay Jasper                         

www.rakupottery.ca

Jay Jasper’s unique studio creates raku pottery vases, home décor, statues, jewelry, and more. I love the colors, shapes, quality, and uniqueness of every piece. His studio offers the book “A Potter’s Dream: Myths & Legends” that pairs his pottery creations with myths and legends from around the world, retold with his own quirky spin. It makes for a great coffee table book, bedtime reading, bathroom book or gift for the art lover.

 

        Brushpark-Watercolors — Carsten Wieland

https://brushparkwatercolors.wordpress.com/

I have featured Carsten both on my Humoring the Goddess blog and my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog.  He has just published a limited edition book “Ireland in Sketches & Watercolors – Limited Edition” based on his first visit to scenic Ireland. Perfect for lovers of the Emerald Isle. A watercolor painter from Essen, Germany, his watercolors are bright and expressive of the world around him.

 

Roth Poetry

https://rothpoetry.wordpress.com/

Dwight Roth taught elementary school in Eastern North Carolina before retiring after 29 years. His poetry reflects the passions of his life. He has self-published several books that just might fit your Christmas list. He has written a book of poems called Ebb and Flow, available in hard copy from his website, and a children’s book on Alzheimer’s called Grandpa Has Holes in His Head. Ebb and Flow is only available in hard copy from the author; the Grandpa book is available on Amazon.

 

Darlene Foster’s Blog

https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

I have followed Darlene Foster for a while now, and her books are a delight, especially for young adults. She has six published books in a series about a spunky young girl, Amanda, who loves to travel. Amanda’s adventures have taken her to Spain, England, Holland, Alberta, the Danube, and New Mexico. Her adventures are perfect for the young adult in your life.

 

Craig L. Haupt

https://craiglhaupt.com/

Craig has been one of my favorite artists for quite some time. I have highlighted his work both on the Goddess and Sunday Evening Art blog. His art is whimsical, bright, and expressive. His book, “The Journey to Ukazo,” contains 37 stories and images, each story having its own unique whimsical flavor set to the image and location visited. It is the perfect gift for the whimsical people in your life.

 

Katzenworld

https://katzenworld.co.uk/

Katzenworld is a group of artists and writers who have gotten together to write about everything cats. Their team is all about sharing the latest cat news which includes visiting popular pet events, cat cafes and more. On top of their fun website and blog, they offer the latest and greatest in cat product accessories, foods and toys. If you’re a cat lover you’ve gotta check their products out.

 

Not Quite Old – Nancy Rowan

https://notquiteold.com/

I have followed Nancy’s blog for almost as long as I’ve been writing my own. Her every day common sense and humor makes her blog come alive. She has written two novels that are perfect for your reading friends, both available on Amazon: Lucinda’s Solution, a love story about the changing role of women post World War I, and Just What I Always Wanted, a story about a middle-aged woman, a failing boutique, a new man, and a tough, defiant, pregnant casualty of the foster care system.

Leaf and Twig — Catherine Arcolio

https://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/

Leaf and Twig is one of my favorite blogs. Her photography is amazing. Matched with her poetry, her blog is one of the most refreshing highlights of my day. Her unique images are for sale at her gallery, https://catherine-arcolio.pixels.com/.  You must stop by her blog and her art gallery and see for yourself if one of her prints would make the perfect Christmas gift.

 

Gwenniesgardenworld — Rita Fae

https://gwenniesgardenworld.wordpress.com/

https://tinyurl.com/vlfn5sr

Rita Fae, aka Gwenniesgardenworld, is my favorite photographer, period. I have been a fan of her and her nature photography from day one, and have featured her work in both my Goddess and Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog. Her individual pictures are available on Shutterstock (https://tinyurl.com/vlfn5sr), and would be the perfect gift to frame and give to your nature-loving family and friends.

 

Give the gift of art this holiday system. Show those around you that you really are a part of the creative world. Check out an art gallery, a craft fair. Make your best friend and favorite sister-in-law smile this year!

Leftover Stuffing and Gravy

Yesterday was a day of thanks.

Hopefully all of us were thankful for whatever we have, wherever we were, whatever we were doing. Lots of Happy Thanksgiving turkeys on my FB feed.

Many of us are off work the following day too. The madness of Black Friday, the sleepiness of day-after turkey and fixings, the peace and quiet after spending two days with  three wild and adorable grand kids.

So now what?

Do you feel any more thankful today than yesterday?

Find any more blessings under your pillow or at your doorway?

Hopefully the thank yous never stop.  For Thanksgiving is just another day in the cosmic wheel spinaroonie of life.

I am all for holidays. It’s the time of year to take a break from the every day grind and wasted hours and unfulfilled promises we all go through. Advertising assures us that we all have something to be thankful for, including three football games in one day and leftover turkey for the next week.

But I also believe that every morning you open your eyes, every morning you can snuggle in your covers for an extra five minutes is cause for thanksgiving. 

There always has been, always will be, someone who has it worse, and someone who has it better than you. It’s just how life is. The key to happiness is to not judge yourself by everyone else’s standards.

Of course, everyone has been saying that since Og found out his neighbor’s cave was bigger than his and included a hot spring in the back.

It’s easy to  say thank you when someone gives you a big gift for Christmas or takes you out to dinner at a really nice restaurant. But it’s just as easy to say thank you when a friend throws in a frozen pizza for dinner or offers to give you a ride to work because your car is in the shop.  

Giving thanks is not just a one-day affair. Giving thanks is a year-long project. 

Give thanks for the sun in the morning and moon at night. Give thanks you have the ability to read, draw, to form your hands around a potter’s wheel. That every day you get another chance to encourage someone else’s dream while you work on your own.

You can do it. Day after day. For in helping someone else, you help yourself.

And, if you are lucky, you can help yourself to yesterday’s stuffing and gravy as well!

Research is what I’m doing …

… when I don’t know what I’m doing.          ~Wernher von Braun

My blog series, Let’s Write That Book, is finished. Hope you enjoyed the basics — hope you learned a little something, too.

Do you ever find that when you anticipate doing something, it turns into a runaway train? 

Runaway train is sometimes my maiden name.

I have had this idea for a new novel for a few months now. It’s going to take a lot of research; more than I’ve done in the past. Every time I look at the plot it seems doable, yet there is a lot of research to do to make it flow the way it’s supposed to.

Is this what they mean by biting off more than you can chew?

Is this what they mean by putting the cart before the horse?

Is this what they mean by you don’t know your idioms?

Seriously. I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of the hill looking up. Like once upon a time I had a great idea and now that I’ve got to get organized and do the work the idea doesn’t seem so great.

Is it the upcoming holidays that’s putting a damper on my enthusiasm?

Is it the fact that I’m suddenly retired and forgot how to concentrate?

Or is it the fact that my original blow out blast off idea is a bomb?

No matter how great your writing ideas are, there will always be some impediment to moving forward. I don’t have enough time. I didn’t take enough notes. I took too many notes and now I’m confused.

Preparation can be enjoyable — until it’s not. But you have to do it.

Preparation for any event is stressful. But if you want to do it — want to do it right — you have to do your research.

I suppose writing is no different than other creative endeavors. You want to do it right, you have to find the right materials, the right atmosphere. You can’t settle for second best — you want what you want, you know what you need to take your project to the next level. And you know in your heart if you settle for less you will never be happy.

I want to write about visiting Paris, yet I have never been to Paris. I want to write about famous figures from Paris but I don’t know a whole lot about these people. I want to write about doing something I’ve never done knowing I’ll never do it.

All of these challenges can really make that hill you are looking up look more like a mountain.

The best way to tackle this rocky road is to take one step at a time. To have a good time with every step you take, even if it takes you longer than you anticipated. The painting, the writing, the collage will start when it’s time. You cannot rush destiny.

I know that sounds like Zen 101, but doing it quickly is a lot different from doing it right. Shortcuts are okay when driving or using your keyboard, but not when it comes to flushing out a character or describing where someone lives. 

The proof will be in the pudding.

The end is in the means.

And I stuck when it comes to writing idioms.

 

Let’s Write That Book! — Epilogue

Your novel is finished. You have cleaned it up, corrected your mistakes, and made sure it flows from beginning to end. You love this book. You love this story. It’s the best thing you’ve ever written.

What are you going to do with it?

Decide what you want to do with what you’ve written. Do you want to share it with the world? Keep it just for yourself? Share it with friends and family? Enter it in a contest?

If publication is your ultimate goal, have someone else read your story first for consistency and grammar. It can be anyone, but try and share with someone with grammatical knowledge or who has done a fair amount of reading. An outside reader will be a good gauge if others will read it. Listen to their feedback and adjust accordingly. Don’t let a bruised ego get in the way of putting out the best book possible.

I can’t really guide you on finding a publisher, but there are plenty of articles, books, and websites that will help you find one who will fit you perfectly.  Do the research yourself. Don’t pay exorbitant fees for someone to represent you. Decent publishers and agents don’t make money off of you. They make it off your sales.

You can also use an online service like Amazon to put together an e-book. E-books are one of the fastest growing reading markets today. You can’t charge as much as you would a hard cover book, but you can get your book out there to the mass reading market quickly and easily.

Maybe you’ve already tried a bit of the publisher route, yet still have it sitting in your computer. Don’t let your baby lie alone and forgotten. Print it out and give it to your family and friends. Show them what you’ve been working on. What consumes you. What motivates you. Others show you the fish they’ve caught or the quilt they’ve made or the sweater they’ve knitted. Your book is just as important as their accomplishments.

Talk about your book. You will be surprised how many of your co-workers, exercise buddies, and football fantasy team members write. Share your frustrations, ask them questions. What worked, what doesn’t work. If you get stuck, ask someone for help. You’re not an expert on everything. Acknowledge that fact and ask someone who does know.

Reflect on your writing journey. Did you enjoy it? Was the editing a pain in the whatever? Did you learn something? Are you ready for more?

Keep a notebook, journal, or pad of paper by your side at all times. You never know when you will get an idea for a story. Ideas for twists and turns can hit you at any time. I wanted one of my characters to spend time with someone famous for just a couple of hours. But it couldn’t just be anybody. But I kept coming up blank. Until one evening the name came to me. While I was driving. I wound up pulling over to the side of the road and sending myself an email with the name so I wouldn’t forget.

Inspiration is fun. It’s wild, adventurous, and unpredictable. You can write anything about anybody  (no real names and tweak your character; liability issues, you know), any place, any time period.

Remember why you write. Don’t give up just because your first book didn’t get picked up by a publisher or your first article didn’t get published in a magazine. As the song says, “We’ve only just begun.”

Writing is a job just like sales or marketing or accounting. You have to put time into it, and have to be willing to change and improve with every story. Make it a part of your everyday life. Join a writer’s group. Go to writing conferences. Read. Research. Keep honing those writing skills. They are so much a part of who you are.

Writing is a wonderful combination of everything you have always been and everything you are yet to be. Enjoy the addiction. Enjoy the ride.

Or should I say Enjoy the Write ….

 

 

 

Let’s Write That Book! — ReEdit and Feedback

You thought you could get away with one blog on editing. That once you heard my speech you could move on. But here we are.

Never send your piece off to a publication after your first edit. Nothing is ever perfect, even if it seems to be. Let it rest. Come back later. Hours, days. Even a week or two if that’s what your schedule dictates. Make sure what you write is reflecting your best effort.

Maybe you did a second edit. Changed a paragraph or two. For some of you, there won’t be a need past the third one. But for others, it’s not until your third or fifth read that you finally notice awkward dialogue, actions that are not in line with your character, turns in the story that you really didn’t mean to take but you took anyway.

This is where the real editing starts.

Now, we are talking about full length stories. Novels. Not a short story, although you can take missteps with those as well. It’s much easier to miss something that has 200+ single-spaced pages than a 1,500 word contest entry.   

What do you check for this time around?

More grammatical errors. That’s a given. There’s usually one too many semi-colons somewhere.

Tense. Did I move from first person to second person? Did I say, “She couldn’t stand the suspense anymore!” then “Your friend showed up at three.”

Is the story moving forward? You may have thought it was moving forward when you first started, but sometimes you wind up talking about your character’s friendships from childhood and the time he went to the store and stole a candy bar and today there was a candy bar on his co-worker’s desk that looked just like the one he stole. Great prose, great insight, but it has nothing to do with his daughter bringing her fiancé to dinner.

Did you explain motivations, reasonings clear enough? Not everything has to be explained. Sometimes it’s better if the reader is left wondering. But eventually give the reader a hint, a nudge, or a full-blown explanation so they can decide for themselves the reason your story goes the way it does.

Does the dialogue flow between speakers? Are your characters reacting to the other’s conversation? Do they always have to respond in words? Can a gesture, a thought, a groan, be enough of a response? Mix it up. Are your characters listening to each other? Nothing is worse than two people talking about two totally different things.

Make sure every sentence moves the story along. You can linger with a sentence or two when your characters are musing this or that, wondering, looking back, planning for the future. You can even spend a whole chapter looking back or wondering. But don’t let your character babble endlessly about … nothing.

Am I consistent with information? I have written September in Chapter 2 and October in Chapter 11. I have changed the name of my character’s best friend. I have silver riding saucers in one part and made them blue later on. See what I mean? It’s so easy to make a little slip here and there. You think no one will notice. But they will.

Flash back only if it will mean something in the future. Fantasize about the future only if it affects the character. I’m not telling you to skip the backgrounds and side movements – we all love to see how the characters develop through the years. But we don’t want to read about side trips that, in the end, have nothing to do with the main story.

Is the storyline believable? This still holds true in your final readthrough. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about blue trees or Victorian morals that are out of place in today’s society or today’s high school student. It doesn’t matter what you write, except you have to make it believable. If someone levitates let them levitate. If you are confident of the storyline, the levitation will seem a real possibility. Don’t go faster than the speed of light during the Renaissance; keep it in the future where all things are possible. Ride horses to and from town; don’t let a car pass you unless it’s 1916 or later. It makes no difference if your book is historical, science fiction, romance, or mystery. People want to read stories that are consistent with the times.

People’s names. Last check. Making up names is just fine; try to make sure they are easy to read and/or pronounce. Especially for your first book. Having your main character named Denaytrison is impossible to both read and pronounce, which will definitely mess with the flow. When talking to each other, it’s alright to say the other’s name in conversation. But once maybe. Not every other sentence. Write as you speak.

Do I need all these chapters? When you first start writing you add everything you can think of. Your first edit you drop paragraphs and chapters that really don’t move the story forward. Make a final check to see if all your chapters are needed. It will be important towards your final word count.

Maybe you won’t make as many slips as I have. But no matter if you are new to the game or a seasoned pro, you need clean copy.

Let’s Write That Book! — Editing

Every book, every story, every poem, needs to be edited. Edited, proofread, reread, and edited again. There’s no way around it. When you are writing from the heart, the story pumping through your veins comes out faster than you can type, and you’re bound to make mistakes. You should make mistakes. Everything can be corrected at a later date. Getting the story out is the most important part.

Editing is the most tedious part. The most stressful part.

And every book needs a hard edit.

Spelling. Did you spell everything right? Spellcheck does a great job of finding “theer” instead of “their.” But it could care less if you used “their,” “there,” or “they’re.” Pay attention to your sentences.  Double check people’s names, cities, restaurants. It’s so easy to type a street name in Chapter 2 and be typing so fast that you spell it differently in Chapter 8.

Sentence Structure. Are they full sentences? Some writers try to do the fragment treatment to their sentences. I tried that style in some of my writings. But you have to be sure of what you’re doing. If in doubt, always write in full sentences. Every sentence.

Punctuation. You’ve read my blog rants. Too many semi-colons, hyphens, and ellipses. Too many commas in one sentence.  I make myself crazy. Use the “find” button on your computer and type in  ;  or “as if” or a name and see how many times you’ve actually used the same word/symbol. You’ll be amazed.

Writing/speaking habits. Remember that words in books are different than words in conversation. In writing we tend to slip and start (or end) a paragraph with the same phrases. As if, if only, and then, she said, it seemed, it seemed as if. There are undoubtedly more. Those were my mistakes.  Pay attention to how you start and end your sentences.

Run on sentences. If your sentence has a half dozen commas and lots of ands and ifs, it’s too long. Readers need to read as they speak. They need to take a breath. So do you.

Paragraphs. This can be a tricky one. I just finished reading Lost Horizons by James Hilton. Most of his paragraphs are very long. They are usually descriptions of the same thought or location. Nothing wrong with that. But readers these days get mentally tired if they don’t hit a break in reading sooner than later. You can describe a place in three paragraphs as just as well as keeping everything in one.

Same is true for dialogue. Unless someone is giving a speech, break up their oration with paragraphs. Try and make your breaks every time you change thoughts or make a new point. You do know how to make new paragraphs in dialogue, don’t you? (no quote marks at end of paragraph; quotes at the beginning of the next.)

To Chapter or Not to Chapter.  I find this more of a personal preference based on how you write. Many people read in spurts; at lunch time, before bed, or on the subway to work. Readers enjoy chapters that can be finished in three to thirteen minutes. Some books  have dozens of short chapters, some have a few huge chapters (usually referred to as sections), and some have no chapters at all.

No-chapter books usually just flow from beginning to end. There are ups and downs, highs and lows, but the scenes blend into each other. Chapters are usually written as different segments of the same story; one “relates” to the next, but they are single stories unto themselves. One chapter is boy meets girl. Next chapter is girl at home thinking about boy. Next chapter is boy getting in trouble with parents. Next chapter are memories of a bad relationship cropping up. Next chapter is the boy and girl meeting and having coffee. You know what I mean. The most important thing is that the reader crave reading the next chapter, and if they don’t/can’t, they can pick up the story later.

Non-fiction needs chapters. Each point you want to make, each stage of instruction, needs its own chapter. Even biographies need a break between “happenings” so that the reader can see the progression.

Spelling. I know I sound like a broken record. But how many times are you reading an article or book or newspaper clipping and right there in the middle of everything is a SPELLING ERROR? It makes you shiver. So make sure your streets and towns and people and exotic foods are spelled correctly. It sounds so mundane, but finding a spelling error in the middle of the book sounds more like a scream than a whisper. Trust me.

Once you do your first edit, let your book sit.

I know that’s hard. Very hard. You want to reread Chapter 5 and Chapter 23, tweak and delete and add and ebb and flow. But you will be surprised what you will find if you let it sit a day or two. Week or two. I know I was.

Grammar and punctuation can make or break a great story. Make sure you have caught your faux pas. You also will be able to catch sections that don’t quite fit, find characters that didn’t quite act the way you wanted them to, even be able to drop in an additional chapter to connect A to B better.

Remember. You want this presentation to be the best of you. Editors, publishers, proofreaders don’t want to read a piece that really needs work. You know it, they know it, and they won’t give you the time of day if you don’t polish your story with as much enthusiasm as you put into writing it.

 

 

Let’s Write That Book! — Writing

Finally the time has come! Hallelujah and do the Snoopy Dance! You’ve done your research, got your computer or notebook ready, put some writing music on in the background, and you are ready to go for it!

Here is my list of to-do’s and an explanation of each.

Where do you start?  Okay, for most writers, you start at the beginning. Set the stage. Set the mood. Share where your character is, what they are doing. Start walking down that path that leads to that big turning point in Chapter 14.

But sometimes a writer’s ideas come in a different order. I once wrote a book where I wrote the last chapter first. I knew exactly how I wanted the story to end; I knew the ending before I even knew how they would get there. So I wrote the final chapter first. Another time an idea struck me about a particular love scene I hadn’t gotten to yet. I had a moment’s inspiration, so I wrote that part before my character even gotten into that situation.

It’s okay to write out of order. But for most of us, we start at the beginning. Introduce the cast of characters. You don’t have to introduce the main character(s) in the first chapter. Just make the people you DO introduce are interesting in one way or another.

Prologue? Epilogue?  There are a lot of “how-to” books that tell you not to have a prologue or epilogue. That they distract from the main story. My how-to says that, if you feel a prologue sets a general feel or a premonition to the story, as long as it’s not too confusing or too exact, go for it. An epilogue sometimes works if you want to show how things turned out after the end of the main story. I have a prologue and an epilogue only in my first book; I have a prologue in the third book, which is nothing more than a paragraph from the second book.

But remember — sometimes people don’t necessarily want to know what happens once the “story” is finished. The story you told is finished. Leave their future to the fates. Or another book.

Do not filter your thoughts. I can’t emphasize this enough. If you feel you need to explain settings, surroundings, set up, go ahead and write. You will find yourself cutting sentences and paragraphs and even chapters later. When the magic hits, go for it. Whether it’s the romantic part, the murder part, or the flashback part, just get into what you’re writing. Don’t worry what comes out. You’ll fix it later.

Set a writing schedule for yourself. I know sometimes that’s easier said than done, but if you bring your determination to write into this dimension you will find time. Stephen King locked himself up in a room for eight hours a day. Other writers wrote when they got home from work or when their babies took a nap. It doesn’t matter when you write, only THAT you write.

Often setting a routine is a good way to get into writing on a daily basis. Set up your writing area with things that bring you inspiration. Coffee, glass of wine, notebooks, other books, reference books, music, snacks – it doesn’t matter what you bring to the table. You’ll forget half of the stuff around you once you get going anyway.

Tell others that’s what you’re doing, and do it. Don’t let others’ opinions sway you one way or the other.

Try not to edit as you go. We all do it, but it slows you down mid-thought. If you must reread your work for coherency, write a few chapters at a time. Know that you will reread, edit, and reread your story a thousand times after you finish writing it. Trust yourself and go with the flow.

Don’t use words that are too big for your character. Ever come across a big word in something you’re reading and find you really have no idea what it means? We often write more spectacularly than we speak, but make sure your characters are speaking within their upbringing and influences. If you want your characters to have an accent, if they come from a different time period, read books from that area, catch movies, and research their forms of speech. Don’t use words that are too big for your audience. The reader will eventually get tired of trying to figure them out. Don’t fake your knowledge. Oh – and a P.S. on this point – make sure you know what the word means.

Dialogue. This is one of the hardest parts of any novel to write. Do your characters speak like normal people? Do they think more than speak? Keep their tone the same speaking and thinking. If one character jabbers, make sure they always jabber. If speaking in half sentences is their style, make sure all their sentences sound the same. Think of how you speak with your family and friends. Your boss. The man from the IRS. You have a different tone with different people. Keep that thought in mind as your characters interact.

Also remember your time period. They spoke differently in Colonial times or Roman times than they do in the 2000’s. Don’t use today’s slang to express yesterday’s emotions. There is nothing worse than reading about days gone by and suddenly a character shouts “groovy!”

Make sure your ending makes sense. Have it conclude the journey your characters have been on. It doesn’t need to be a happy ending, but it should be a satisfactory ending. Tie up all loose ends (that is why you write an outline so you don’t have someone dangling out and left to dry). No open endings unless you are positive you are writing a second book. And even then have some sort of conclusion to the adventure they were just on. Let your reader catch their breath. Put yourself in the reader’s seat — no one wants to be left hanging.

Have every book you write be able to stand on its own.

 

NEXT: Editing

Let’s Write That Book! — PreWriting Considerations Part II

More basics. Come on – you can do it!

Synopsis

Many people feel a synopsis is a waste of time. They just want to be let loose to write. I understand that. I really do. But there’s really so much you need to do first if you want a well-written, coherent book.

One thing I believe in is writing a synopsis. You need to keep your story on track. As I mentioned before, it’s one thing for you to be writing and for your thoughts to take you in a different direction later on. But you have to have your direction set out before you start writing. Nothing is worse than forgetting by Chapter 17 what happened in Chapter 6.

And, believe me, you will forget.

You will forget names, dates, even days of the week. You will get so wrapped up in writing the story that you will forget that she met her friend by the apple tree, not on a busy corner in town.

Character Background

Start with your main character(s). Male? Female? Is it one person’s story or a two-sided relationship? Write a short bio on your main characters. From fighting on the playground to taking drugs or moving to California. These main points in their life will most likely never see the light of day in your story, but they will give you an idea of why your characters are who they are. This is especially important if it is one character’s story.

A good plot always has an antagonist. Usually it’s a person with their own evil agenda. It also could be a corporation, association or a group of people. If it is a group of some sort, give them their own personality. Somebody has to pay for the bad deeds. Make it them.

Supporting characters. It’s good to have some, not to fill your story with them. Give them a purpose to be there. There’s no problem peppering your story with people who come and go to move the story forward. You don’t necessarily have to have backgrounds on all these people, but have a general idea if they’re married, widowed, rich, poor, or mentally unstable, for their presence can enrich a story. Have each additional person add to the story in some way – a servant who is afraid, a cousin who knows it all, a taxi driver that gives advice.

As you write your story, your character’s direction might change. This is what many writers refer to as the character taking the story in their own direction. If this happens, go with it. Stay as true to your storyline as you can, but if an idea hits you from left field, listen to it. See if it fits into your story. If it moves your story forward, great. If it takes the story into a completely different direction, make sure that direction makes sense. No one turns left without a reason. Especially if their destination is straight ahead.

Research

Your story can take place at any time, in any place. Don’t let convention keep you tied to modern times.

For my first book that took place in 1880, I had a folder on my computer with different topics: fashion, food, Victorian homes, Victorian life, 1800 inventions, backroad directions, jobs, vernacular. It was important when I was writing what the house looked like or what jobs the neighbors had.

The book I’m writing now is going to take a lot of research, for I am unfamiliar with the geography. I also want to add some info on famous people, so I need to research them as well. I need to check out local food, customs, and climate. So I have quite a lot to do before I start writing.

It’s important to set the stage for your play. How people looked, how they were brought up, the morals of the day, the jobs they held and what they did for entertainment. Make your references as accurate as possible. That way the reader will really get lost in the story’s atmosphere. It’s going to take some time, but it is so worth it for the voice of the story.

The same is true for non-fiction. Get as much of your information collected before you start writing. Year-to-year information. Give your subject an atmosphere every chapter. Collect it all. Write it all down. You may not need all of it, but it will help you get a feel for the bigger picture.

If you are writing is a self-help book, write down all the steps before you start embellishing them in creative copy. Think of this type of book as a tarot card spread — past, present, future. What the market/the person was, where they are today, and how they can get where they want to go in the future.

One other piece of advice before you start writing.

Don’t be afraid of your characters.

You are always your character, yet you are not. Your characters can be a murderer, a whore, an abused victim, be mentally deranged, or a super hero. They can be aliens, starship captains, or Egyptian slaves. Don’t think that just because your main character stabbed an innocent person that you will go out and stab some innocent person. Don’t be afraid to take liberties with these make-believe people. For they are only make believe. 

The challenge for a writer is to make the character’s personality believable.

 

Next:  Writing

 

Let’s Write That Book! — PreWriting Considerations Part I

Alrightie, writers. Let’s take a look at some outside basics.

Length of your book.

Now, I’m not an editor. Publisher. E-Book guru. But this is Basic Writing 101. Things you should know up front. This information is important as you get lost in the world of writing.

According to a combination of several websites, here are some average book lengths:

  • Children’s picture book: 5 – 1,000 words.
  • Children’s chapter book: 4,000 –10,000 words.
  • Middle grade: 30,000 – 50,000 words.
  • Young Adult (YA): 40,000 – 70,000 words.
  • Flash fiction: 500 words or less. Depending on contest/publication, can be as few as 100 words or as many as 1,000 words.
  • Micro-Fiction: 100 words or less.
  • Short Story: 1,000 – 10,000 words.
  • Novella: 10,000 – 40,000 words.
  • Novel: 50,000 -110,000 words.
  • Epics and Sequels: 110,000 words or more.
  • Adult literary and commercial fiction: 80,000 – 100,000 words.
  • Memoirs, Biography, and Autobiography: 80,000 words.

Then there are average genre lengths:

  • Sci-fi/Fantasy: 90,000 – 120,000 words. Anything over 150,000 words might be testing for your readers.
  • Historical: 90,000 – 120,000 words.
  • Romance: 50,000 – 100,000 words. The wide range for this genre is because of the number of sub-genres available: supernatural, erotica, historical, ‘chick-lit’, etc.
  • Crime/Mystery/Thriller/Horror: 70,000 – 90,000 words.

These “averages” are based on a page with 1-inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font, and minimal spacing elements. A good rule of thumb is 500 words for a single spaced page and 250 words for a double spaced page.

The “cosmic” way of thinking is that your book will be as long as it needs to be. Period. While that is true, it’s always smart to keep some general guidelines in the back of your mind.

Now, the guidelines about are just that. Guidelines. Estimates. These are usually based on how long a reader is willing to spend on reading. On their attention span. A children’s book that goes on close to 10,000 words would put most children to sleep. A murder mystery will make a reader shake their head if it comes in under 40,000 words. Stephen King’s Carrie is about 42,385 words. His book It comes in at about 444,414 words. Length can make or break a book. It’s hard to keep a reader’s interesting with anything past 100,000 words (unless you ARE King).

Then there is the book’s time frame.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf take place in one day. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines takes place over 110 years. Both books are more or less 200 pages long.

Just remember the original purpose of your story. Tell what you want to tell, no more, no less. Don’t worry about what happens before the first chapter, nor after “the end.”

Decide your point of view.

There are four primary POV types in fiction:

First person point of view. First person is when “I” am telling the story. The character is in the story, relating his or her experiences directly.

Second person point of view. The story is told to “you.” It includes pronouns you, your, and yours to address readers or listeners directly. This POV is not common in fiction, but it’s still good to know (it is more common in nonfiction).

Third person point of view. The story is about “he” or “she.” This is the most common point of view in commercial fiction. The narrator is outside of the story and relating the experiences of a specific character.

*One note on third person point of view: If you are writing from one person’s point of view, your character cannot know what the other characters are actually thinking. There are ways to bring other character’s motivations and thoughts into the main character’s story. Your character can guess, surmise, suppose, infer, but can never say “she thought” or “he thought.” You can indicate other’s intentions by gestures or direct quotation, but you cannot write what you do not know directly.

Third person point of view, omniscient. The story is still about “he” or “she,” but the narrator has full access to the thoughts and experiences of all characters in the story.

*Note on third person omniscient: Be sure if you go down this path that you show the thoughts and conversations of all your characters, not just the main one. This version gives you the freedom to say, “She thought he was a cad. He thought she was domineering.” But be sure to continue their thought threads through the whole book so we follow their reasonings from beginning to end.

For non-fiction, The Pen and the Pad says: A non-fiction story can also be told from the points of view present in literary fiction. A memoir or autobiography, for example, is a first-person account of personal events, while a standard biography is written by a third-person narrator who has investigated or interviewed subjects before writing from a more distanced perspective. Non-fiction may be written in second-person, using “you” as the subject, especially if it is in the form of a how-to guide or instructional manual.

There are other points of view floating around, but a beginner writer usually u is concerned only with the first or third person.  

The point is: Pick a point of view and stick with it. One of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is saying “he went/she went” then five chapters later saying, “I went.”

Basic Premise

If you are writing a fiction piece, you need a beginning, a middle, and an end. An introduction, turning point, and conclusion. Your character(s) needs to change the world – or at least themselves. The main character(s) needs to learn something so that the reader learns something.

We laugh when we hear about “the moral of the story,” yet that’s what readers want. They want gold at the end of the rainbow. Payback for evil deeds. A hard heart that has softened. A soft heart that has learned to toughen up. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy ending, but it should be a satisfying one. One that makes sense.

Non-fiction books such as biographies, family histories, self-help, and therapy books should stay in chronological order. The story should ebb and flow with beginnings and endings as the character(s) life evolves. You should put heart into those stories, too. Make us feel what the person was feeling. Avoid flashbacks, at least with your first book. Writing it step-by-step is hard enough.

This is where a handy dandy notebook comes it. I have one for every book I’ve written. Be sure to write down the order of events. The ups, the downs, the turning points in their lives. It’s so easy to forget this point or that point. And nothing is more distracting that crisscross information.

 

Next: Pre-Writing Considerations Part II

Let’s Write That Book! — Prologue

If you are lucky enough to say to yourself, “I’ve always wanted to write a book,” then this is the blog series for you.

The website Worldometers says there are 2,336,295 books published so far this year worldwide (as of November 16), and their meter is ticking upwards as we speak/read. And the site Bowker stated  that more than one million books were self-published in 2017.

That’s a lot of books.

Don’t let the numbers discourage you, though. There is plenty of room out in the universe for your book. Trust me.

Not everyone writes books to get published and make money, although that’s the most popular scenario. Some people write to preserve the past, to tell a story, to make a point, or to share advice. Some want to put their series of short stories into an anthology, and others want to write a how-to book to help others.

No matter what your reason is, there should be only one reason to write your book. You write a book because you enjoy writing.

I love writing. I love bringing ideas to life. That is why I blog. I truly believe that we all have stories to tell. Lessons to learn. Adventures to share. And if we feel the urge to write, that we should do so.

I am a writer, proofreader, and occasionally an editor, but like many writers, I have been writing for years. Diaries. Journals. Contest entries. Blogs. There is not a day or month or year that goes by that I don’t think about some part of writing.

This series of blogs referred to as Let’s Write That Book! are reflections of what I’ve learned through years of writing. Things I look for as a proofreader or an editor. What I tell people when they ask me how to start writing. What I’ve read and heard from other writers and things that just make sense.

These blogs will be running longer than my regular blogs. There’s a lot of information out there, and I’ll try to jam it all in under 1,000 words every day. But you know me – I’m quite windy at times. But this is the place for all that wind.

Your first decision is to come up with a story line.

I’ve been asked where I get my ideas. My friends, ideas are everywhere.

One story line of mine came from my role playing days years ago. One idea came from going to writer conferences. One story was a thinly disguised revenge homage to a sales manager who drove me crazy. One story was based on wondering how a modern-day woman would survive in a parallel alien world.

That’s just me.

Most likely you already have an idea. Let’s develop it. Work on it. You can make up worlds, streets, and encounters, or it can be based on real people, real events, and real history.

Whatever you have decided to write, you will need to make it sound real. Have it make sense from the beginning to the end. Sounds simple. But you’d be surprised how hard that can be.

Preplanning is the easy part. Working through the mechanics is the tough part. But it is so worth it.

So before we start, I’d like to make something clear.

I am just one of many who has ideas and suggestions on how to get started. There are hundreds of books and websites and blogs out there that will give you pointers on how to start writing your book. All have good information; all are full of practical ideas and ways to open the mind and get something done. Some people charge you for the info, others give it to you for free. It’s all part of the big circle of writing.

I suggest you start the simple way. The Free Way. It doesn’t matter if your final goal is to get published or to Xerox copies and hand them out to friends and family. The basics should be free and available to everyone.

And that’s what I hope to share with you. My ideas and suggestions are nothing you haven’t heard before. No magic pill, no secret instructions. Just have a good story line, good grammar, and a good time writing it.

Writing is good for the soul. So let’s get going.

 

 

Next:  Pre-Writing Considerations Part One.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery (on Saturday) — Carol Milne

Carol Milne is known worldwide for her unique knitted glass work, for which she won the Silver Award at the 2010 International Exhibition of Glass in Kanazawa, Japan.

Milne received a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph, Canada in 1985, but realized in her senior year that she was more interested in sculpture than landscape.  She has been working as a sculptor ever since.  Carol is the lone pioneer in the field of knitted glass.  Determined to combine her passion for knitting with her love for cast glass sculpture, she developed a variation of the lost wax casting process to cast knitted work in glass.“I see my knitted work as metaphor for social structure.  Individual strands are weak and brittle on their own, but deceptively strong when bound together.”“You can crack or break single threads without the whole structure falling apart.  And even when the structure is broken, pieces remain bound together.  The connections are what bring strength and integrity to the whole and what keep it intact.”Her glasswork is wonderfully unique and creative, reflecting a mind and ability that pushes the limits of the material through persistent and relentless experimentation.

More of Carol Milne‘s unique glasswork can be found at https://www.carolmilne.com.

Random Thoughts and Flat Apple Pie

~ The ‘Let’s Write That Book!’ blog series is starting Sunday, November 17th — not 16th — as this editor realized. And I’m the one heading the series …. sheeh….

 

~ Second wonderful day of retirement and I’m feeling sick and worn out. I wonder if that’s a psychological letdown or a medical paradox? I still feel like I’m on vacation and have to report to duty next Monday. That always made me feel sick…

 

~ Don’t teach your dog to bark at squirrels in the bird feeder if you don’t let them bark 24-7. My husband taught (as a joke) and we’ve been joking at 6 a.m. for the past few months. Now that I can sleep in it’s not so funny.

 

~ We dropped our Dish TV subscription and have been living through Amazon Prime and a pretty decent TV antenna. I have to watch my favorite TV shows through my computer hooked up to the TV now, which I don’t mind, but I’m finding I am caring less and less about all those TV shows that I had  to keep up with when I had DISH. I’d rather listen to music or watch Chinese TV series with English subtitles now. Strange turn.

 

~ The further I get from actually going to Paris, the further I am getting from writing book about going. I am hoping this is a temporary pause due to real life circumstances, but all the research and daydreams and twists in the story just make me tired.

 

~ Writing is making me tired.

 

~ I have to learn to cook all over again. With hubby on night shift and me coming home before he leaves, either he’s cooked and left it for me or I was on my own for dinner. Cans of ravioli aside, I haven’t tried to be Julia Child in quite a while.

 

~ Do you go through ebbs and flows like this too? Does time bring you back where you want to be? 

 

~ Think I’ll go make a Flat Apple Pie. Dessert is good for the soul.

 

Movin’ On

Life is always turning, turning, turning.

Yesterday at 7 a.m. I was struggling to get my act together to get to work on time. Snow and cold had put their marks on the Midwest, always making the trip to work a slow go.

Yesterday at 2:30 p.m. I was carrying out one lone box of ‘stuff’ to show for 18 years of employment.

Due to company restructuring, they had decided to let a number of us go. 

I understand the decision; I just never thought I’d be on the receiving end of the down side of it. 

Don’t feel bad for me — I was planning on retiring December 20th anyway. I am near the end of getting my ducks in a row and planning for the busy second part of my life. I feel bad for those who are 15, 20 years younger than me. They most likely are still looking for their ducks.

The world sends conflicting messages all the time. Plan for the future. Live in the now. Worry about retirement at age 30. Don’t retire until you’re 70. The economy is booming. Unemployment rates are low. Yet companies are downsizing. Profits are quirky.

Where does one fit in all this confusion? After all, there are conflicting messages there, too.

Everything passes. Life goes on in waves. Ride the high ones, hold on in the low ones. Don’t take anything for granted. Find a reason to be happy outside your job. Be your job.

I know how lucky I am to be on the up side of the down side of restructuring. It is nothing more than timing. This could have happened ten years ago, too. It just so happened it didn’t.

I wanted to be a writer for my company, and I did a fairly good job of it.

Now it’s time to pursue that career in the next half of my life. But on more of my schedule than the man’s. 

So do I have a solution for yet another chapter of grief and redemption in this world?

No — except to pay attention to where you are, look around you now and then for future endeavors, and still live each day like it was your last. Live in the moment, realizing each moment is merely a drop in the big pool of the future, which quickly turns into the past.

And you can’t change the past.

 

 

My Muse Says I Should Be a Grand Poobah

I was going to write a blog today about getting organized. But I found this from a few years ago and it’s still funny. And kinda related. Happy Monday!

 

Keep A Calendar — Or A Muse

I am feeling a bit under the weather this eve. I went through my back stories looking for something else (always the case) and found this fun blog from a few years ago. Seems like it’s perfect for my feelin’ down time…

Calendar Girls

My Irish Wench Muse came to visit me last night. She was all full of her usual Irish self. I wasn’t writing or researching or hanging with my family, so I knew something was up.

“Read yer blog the other day,” she said, smiling, wiping the kitchen table off.

“Oh? Great! Which one?”

“The whinneh one.”

I should have been upset, but how can you be upset at your truthful conscience?

“Whiny? Why was it whiny?”

“A lotta ‘I wants’ and ‘I canna haves’. And no solution. What kenna blog is that?”

I sat straighter in my chair, watching her bend over a drop of gravy and start to scrape it. “Hey! All bloggers get down now and then. It’s part of the creative process!”

“Aye, and a lotta bees sting people when they’re nah looking, too. And there still is honey.”

I had to see where this was going and fast.

“Well, I didn’t see it as whining. I saw it as voicing the universal truth of too much to do and not enough time to do it all.”

“Nay — the ‘Universal Truth’ is more like ‘Leave your dog inside too long and he’s bound ta poop somewhere.’ That’s why you need a calendar, lass.”

“I already have a calendar at work. And it’s packed full.”

“Do you get everything done on the calendar?”

“Well, duh. It’s work.”

“Then, my darlin’ writer, you need a calendar at home, too. A Grand Poobah Calendar.”

 What is that?”

My muse finished scraping the drip and headed towards the crack between the leafs. A dangerous area. “The term is from one of those operas. The Poobah has all the titles and ‘na much else.”

I didn’t get what that had to do with me and my whining…er…woes.

“If  ya canna make time in your head, write it down. Make the time on the calendar,” she explained, pulling out a butter knife to scrape the caverns between leaves. “Makes ya look important.”

“But that means I’d have to be — organized! How can a pretzel be organized?”

She shook her head between grunts. Must have been extra crumbs down the crack.

“How does the Gran’ Poobah get things done? Too many titles, too little authority. At least if he writes the bloomin’ things down he can see what he wants to do first. And he can pretend to do everything, even if he gets only a few things done.”

Well, that made sense. I helped her scrape the bread crumbs out of the crack and she smiled her little Irish smile.

“You’ve just got to know how to do a calendar, luv. Jam it with all sorts of rot.  Then when you start the day, start crossin’ off. Lines through rot are good for the soul! Makes you pick and choose your rot!” She spit on a slide of old milk. “You know, I may be a muse but I’ve got other ‘tings I have to do too. I canna babysit you all the time. “

I nodded sheepishly.

“I’m yer creative Muse, ya know. A lot of work goes into finding projects for you and fillin’ your head with ideas and suggestions. Makes my beer turn green half the time!”

“Well,” I said, “you know I love your company. And your ideas. I wish I would have listened to you 20 years ago, before I had grandkids.”

She threw out a hearty laugh. “Darlin’ 20 years ago you had your own kids, and were just as busy! and 20 years before that! ‘Ya dinna have time back then either. But you kept the calendar. In yer head.”

“I get it. I get it. Make a calendar. Put it all down. Bring your plans out of the 4th dimension in to this 3rd dimension so I can get a handle on it and do a little bit of everything instead of none of a lot. I get it.”

She nodded and stood. She was beautiful — green eyes, full figure, Irish brogue and all. “Aye. And donna forget — I’m riding up to the cabin with you this weekend. I’ve got a great idea for a poem! Oh, and my sister from Italy is comin’ too! She’s got this wild idea about manicotti and pirates and diamonds and …”

Uh oh…

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Colin Fraser

Colin Fraser is a contemporary Scottish painter known for his detailed still life, landscapes, and interiors.

Fraser has long been established as one of the world’s leading egg tempera painters.

Born in 1957 in Glasgow, United Kingdom, he studied art at Brighton Polytechnic before moving to Sweden in 1981.Fraser’s use of egg-tempera gives his work a light-filled, translucent quality unequaled in other mediums.It is notoriously hard to control and seldom used by contemporary artists.“It’s a medium fraught with technical difficulties, but therein lies its charm. Brushstrokes dry instantly and are never really fully opaque, so just about every mark the painter makes shows,” Fraser has explained.“You can’t force your will on it, it forces you to accept the marks you make and live in the ‘moment’, with each brushstroke that is applied to the panel.”

More of Colin Fraser‘s work can be found at galleries around the Internet.

‘Let’s Write That Book’ is Coming!

Mark Your Calendar!

Grab a pen and take notes!

Don’t take notes……

but come on over to my Humoring the Goddess  blog on Sunday, November 17, 2019 for a seven-part series on how to write your first book.

Let’s Write That Book is a series on what it takes to write a good book. Simple ideas, simple suggestions that will make whatever you write cleaner, tighter, and more appealing to your reading audience. 

Come have some fun and start fulfilling your destiny Sunday, November 16th..

Love The Arts!

Artist Trading Cards for International Artists Day

Today I went wandering around the Internet looking for images for an upcoming Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog about Reflections.  During this search I came across so many amazing images.

Amazing isn’t even touching upon the truth.

If I once thought there was competition to get my writing out into the universe, it is mirrored tenfold in the number of creative images artists, photographers, graphic artists, and other creative muses out there.

The world is an amazing place. Artists abound in so many ways, with so many ideas. I am blown away.

Google a phrase, an idea, then go to images or to the websites that pop up. Read the articles. Look at their pictures. Their backgrounds are as diverse as grains of sand. But each of their creations are unique. There are hundreds of versions of an image such as trees or ice or dreams. The visions are endless.

http://www.vetrovero.com/store/c39/Jewel_Bottles.html

Just like the Sunday Evening Art Gallery gallery I just posted yesterday. You have nightmarish paintings by Zdzisław Beksinski sitting next to paintings of lovely Indian women by Raja Ravi Varma, which are down the hall from unusual Chairs, which is some ways from Rita Faes who takes remarkable photos of flowers, who is way down from Pumpkin Carving King Ray Villafane, who is quite a bit away from the famous, beautiful Fabergé Eggs.

See what I mean? Such varied talent, such amazing work. Everywhere.

 

Daniel Rozin

Whether you paint leaves or embroider geometric designs or make stained glass, your work adds nothing but glitter to the Earth’s aura. Every time you write a poem, every time you carve a pumpkin or paint a watercolor landscape you add to the positive vibes of the world.

Just like these artists I came across online who did miracles with bottles or mirrors or paint drops, all you need is a dream and some imagination and the urge to do something fun.

I love The Arts. Don’t you?

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Santiago Rusiñol

Santiago Rusiñol i Prats (25 February 1861 – 13 June 1931) was a Spanish painter, poet and playwright. He was one of the leaders of the Catalan Modernism movement.His training as painter started at Centro de Acuarelistas de Barcelona under the direction of Tomás Moragas. Like so many artists of the day, he travelled to Paris in 1889, living in Montmartre with Ramon Casas and Ignacio Zuloaga.It is said that much of his work in Paris belonged to the Symbolism painting style, although most of his work reflected the Art Noveau style of swirling lines and often ethereal nature.Rusiñol is best known as a painter of Spanish gardens.His paintings have a surrealistic tinge to them, making you want to step right through them and see the landscape for yourself.The ancestral home  in Sitges Santiago Rusiñol inherited was converted by the painter into a Museum. He showcased the fruit of his work as collector throughout his life, which included irons and Catalan glasses and antique ebusitas Cau Ferrat alongside his own paintings.When a Madrid-born journalist interviewed Rusiñol at the end of his life, he asked: “Why have you painted gardens preferably?” The artist replied: “Because with the gardens I had my first success in Paris, and then, for having felt this modality (sensation) more than the others.”

More of Santiago Rusiñol‘s beautiful paintings can be found http://www.santiagorusinol.com/ along with other sites across the Internet.

Retirement Whether You Want It Or Not

Within a couple of months I will officially be retired.

No more worrying about driving to work in snow and slop. No more worrying about punching in late because I cant get my tired butt moving fast enough in the morning. No more scraping off my windows or driving to and from work in the dark. No more getting up at 6 a.m. and force-feeding a shower whether I need it or not.

I should be ecstatic. But somehow, I’m not 100% with that yet.

For there will also be no more beautiful sunrises to see on my way to work. I don’t usually come to my work town, so no more slow rides through the beautiful countryside that inspired two novels and a short story. No more pot lucks and sharing moaning groaning work stories with co-workers. No more chances to actually turn my job into something I love.

Of course, this transition comes to us all. I have worked 50 years to get to this point in my life. It should be — and will be — another turning point. A chance to do the things I really have wanted to do but have never had time to do.

Time to start making Angel Tears™ for art fairs. (more about that another day). More time to write. More time to see my grandkids. More time to actually organize my home. I want to start taking free classes at the University in my hometown. I also want to start freelancing proofreading and editing on the side.  I want to sleep in, stay up until 2 am, and not fear turning off the alarm and falling back asleep.

Yet I can’t help look back at all the years I’ve spent working for someone else. Except for a 7 year stint as a B&B owner, I’ve owed my soul — and paycheck — to the “man.” I try not to look back too much, for it’s easy to see the trials and fails I’ve had. The steps backwards I took to get where I am today.

It’s easy to see the dreams I once had of having a successful career. The steps I took and the steps I should have taken.

But there is no going back. No chance to change decisions, directions, or choices. That’s the payment for a life well lived.

The good thing is that I really believe I have another 20-30-40 years to make a difference. That’s a lot of time. I can encourage my grandkids to be proud of who they are and the contributions they will make to making the world a better place. I can make sparkly things that make people smile when they look out the window. I can contribute to the world in a different way than filing and updating computer records and making beds for visitors.

I can finally find out who I am.

There will be an adjustment period, no doubt. But that is something worth wading through — something worth dancing through.

For there is always a party on the other side.

 

My Creative Muse Is At It Again

nikitaliskov

Happy Monday creative muses!

Last week I told you that, for various reasons, I will not be going to Paris next fall to write. Which is just fine.

Just as I accepted that fact,  my creative muse swooped in and brought me an idea a new book (which I’ve  told you about). Her chatter, at first, is confusing and mind blowing. So much information, so many ideas, and with her Irish brogue it’s sometimes hard to understand everything.

But she also brought a new awareness to my aura’s circle. I believe that, of all of things I’ve written, this upcoming book will be the one that really works.

Do you ever feel that way with your latest creation? That of all of the things you have worked on, all the things you’ve made, that this is the one that is going to take you to that next level?

Do you listen to yourself when you hear that?

Now, “the next level” can be different things to different people. It could be the start of a whole new art collection. A whole new style or technique or genre.  It is usually something you’ve been working towards for some time. A contest entry, an art competition, being published. The next level is something every artist strives for.

I finished my blogs about How To Write Your First/Second/Third Book which I will be posting soon. And I am happy to say I am following my own advice.

I have a story line kinda worked out. When I solidify it I will write my synopsis. I think I’ve decided which point of view I’m writing as. And I have a lot of research to do on characters and settings, for that’s the kind of book I now want to write. I am missing one character I know I need but have drawn a blank on who it is. This is common, too. You don’t always have to have all the details, all the Ps and Qs before you start. Your creative muse will sooner or later bring you the piece you need to finish your puzzle.

When you get your idea and really begin to work on it, you can’t help but get excited about it. Excited about the research, excited about its development, excited about how you will start it and how you will finish it. All mediums are the same when it comes to that tingling feeling that “this is IT.” 

So what are you working on/researching this marvelous Monday?

And I’m talking to you silent readers in the background who are  starting something and finally are ready to talk about it….

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Sharon Weiser

Sharon Weiser, who grew up in Wisconsin, began painting as a child and went on to receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts and K-12 teaching certificate from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire.

After living for twenty years in Phoenix, Arizona, Weiser returned to the Midwest where she currently teaches painting and drawing at her studio.Clearly, the time Weiser spent in Arizona left its mark artistically as she continues to create her joyfully close-up cactus compositions.Painting in either oils or acrylics, Weiser works primarily from her own photos – cropping, replacing, re-positioning or enlarging forms to expertly compose her dynamic light-filled canvases.It is bold colors, a remarkable attention to detail and a singular sense of design that makes her paintings stand apart.Her artwork also continues to evolve as her curiosity compels her to keep experimenting with different color palettes, subjects and ideas.Her choice of southern colors reflects the beauty of her surroundings, adding depth and almost a fluorescence to desert life.More of Sharon Weiser‘s beautiful paintings can be found at http://www.sharonweiser.com/.

We All See Something Different

What do you see when you look at this picture?Or this one?

How about this one?

The world is not always what we think at first glance.

We trust our senses to get us through life. One wrong move and we will be trying out wings on the other side. Our common sense usually is our guide through the world.

But common sense goes deeper than just what we can see and smell. What about our inner sense? The one that wants to make nonsense out of common sense?

We want to take a chance now and then, but years of upbringing advise against change. We are warned to keep both feet in this world. Heaven forbid we go somewhere by ourselves and get lost. Or create a masterpiece and have too much of one color. Or go to school and flunk the class. Everyone will laugh at you and you’ll be a loser forever.

As you get older you find out that that’s really all bull#*$t.

Life isn’t really like that. That rarely do people laugh at you, and if they do, it’s because you’ve touched a nerve in their own insecurities. That you have missed opportunities to be your own person just because your chatty mind told you something off the top of your head and never really took time to check it out.

And one day you turn around and see all the floors you could have stepped on but didn’t because you never took the time to check out if they were legit or not.  Floors that just might have been real, but after checking them out decided not to try them out.

Let your common sense connect with your inner sense. You want to dress differently? Go buy a wrap and go for it. Want to create an art or scrap booking group? Start getting people together today. Want to paint a wall black? (Do you really want to do that??) If it’s part of a color scheme, a bigger picture, makes you happy, then try it.

Don’t let your five senses rule everything. Learn the truth then take a chance. And don’t look back.

Think of the adventures you will miss!

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I AM My Character … and That’s Okay

I had an epiphany earlier this evening. 

I find that if  I let my mind spew then wander, I answer my own questions, find my own direction again. 

The other day I was sooo concerned about writing stories that sounded like me but weren’t me but were me but not really. At first thought, that bothered me. I didn’t want every character to be me. That’s a legitimate concern of most writers.

But, in my case, I see now I wanted these stories to BE me. 

I wanted to be the one who traveled back in time, the one who was taken to another planet to take the place of a dead queen. This common-sense-that-I-don’t-always-have made me realize that, in this case, I might be making a mountain out of the proverbial mole hill. 

The reason for this epiphany was that on my drive home today I started thinking about going to Paris for a week next year, and how I doubt that I will go. There are a number of reasons for this pre-decision, and nothing is set in stone yet, but you kinda know if you’ve got a chance or not.

I was going to write of my adventures, my visits to cafes and libraries and shops and bridges. What a wonderful journal it was going to be.

So does that mean that if I can’t go I can’t go?

Does that mean that just because I can’t walk the streets myself and eat the croissants and touch the gargoyles I can’t walk the streets and eat the croissants and touch the gargoyles anyway?

Since it seems I’ve already traveled through time and space, why can’t I take this trip, too? Maybe cut my hair, make myself a little thinner, but be the same person exploring new worlds?

Maybe when I sit and look at the glass pyramid at the Louvre I can sit and talk with a young funny Parisian, or fall in love for a couple of evenings with a roguish French man or watch Hemingway drink at a back table at Café du Dôme. I can slip a Hermes scarf into my purse and not get caught, or have dinner at Seb’on without having to pay.

Who will know that lead character is me besides you and me and my friends and family?

You see — I can do all that. Without guilt, without explanation. I can be me and not be me. I can research and look at pictures and watch old movies and visit Paris on my own terms. I can get lost without getting lost. Talk to strangers without talking to strangers.

Being myself in my story is actually a win/win situation.

I am starting to think about starting a new book. A book with a little adventure, a little flirting, and a little café au lait.

Don’t let your inability to go somewhere, to attend something, stop you from doing research and doing it through your art. Through your painting, your writing, your sketching. Whatever world you create for yourself. There is always a way through the clouds.

Artists always find a way.

 

Sonnet: Powerful Spirits Speak (Reprise)

A poem for my poet friends this fine Monday morning….is this you?

Timeless Classics

*****

A poet is the strangest sort of soul
You in this life may e’er expect to meet
More broken, even while more truly whole,
Innocently intending well, more sweet

Than any but a five year old should be
Unfit to meet a callused world’s demand
Or to behave aught expediently
All grace in flight; an albatross on land

But don’t the all too common error make
Do not fall into the too easy trap
Avoid the fatal egoic mistake
Imagining that poet as a sap

Powerful spirits, classic and antique
Give voice when poets ope their lips to speak

*****

The poet/editor of this website is physically disabled, and lives at a fraction of her nation’s poverty level. Contributions may be made at:

https://www.gofundme.com/are-you-a-patron-of-the-arts

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Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Ronnie Hughes

Ronnie Hughes was born in 1954 and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

He learned glassblowing with the help of a friend after graduating from Wake Forest University in 1976..In 1980, after hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Hughes came upon a field of hundreds of breathtaking Pink Lady Slipper orchids, which inspired him to change his subject matter completely.Using both clear and colored glasses, Hughes create his wildflowers and then integrates them with his free-formed, solid glass bases. His sculptures stand entirely on their own in continuous glass, a more challenging and time-consuming process.Hughes believe that the purity of clear glass lends a mystical feel to the flowers, emphasizing the delicacy and fragility of our natural world.The colored blossoms provide a vibrant focal point while the clear glass challenges the observer to look more closely and to use their imagination to complete his vision.More of Ronnie Hughes‘ delicate, beautiful work can be found at https://hughesglass.net/

Are You Your Character?

An interesting turn of thoughts this evening. Maybe upon sharing and reflection you can give me your thoughts.

As I have blah blah-ed many times, I have written several novels. One set of three, and another set of two. I have finally polished the first one enough to say it is done. Now I am giving it to my family and friends to read.

They are what I call female fantasy fiction books. They all have something to do with a middle-aged woman finding her way through a totally “alien” surrounding.

Is this character me? 

I believe we put a little of ourselves in everything we write. Either we are that main character or the exact opposite of that character. Or a combination of that character and someone else. Or that character is a combination of people we know. No character is 100% made up.

My husband is not taken by my stories and novels, mostly because every chapter he reads he says, “that’s so you!” He likes the writing and the places and the ideas, but he sees me on every page. A friend of mine who is reading it also teases of an early chapter relationship reflecting his own family. They see “me” and “us” instead of “just some couple.”

Do you think these reactions are because these people are too close to me to be unbiased readers? Do you think the things you write can be taken at plain face value rather than linked in one form or another to the author?

When I read poetry from those blogs I follow, although I don’t know the author personally, I can tell when they are writing about themselves. I believe that is on purpose.(Ivor? Walt? Dwight?) Their writing is an extension of who they are, what they are feeling. And I love that.

On the other hand, I want my stories to be about “some” middle-aged woman. A woman who makes decisions I wouldn’t make, does things I wouldn’t do. ~I~ know this character is, in some ways, a form of me, but I don’t want my reader to see me when reading.

Writing is a different art from painting or sculpture. In many other forms of art your goal is to express yourself. To give your version of a thought, an idea. Your interpretation. Your story. In writing, it may be your idea, but it’s really supposed to be someone else’s story. Not yours.

Maybe I should try writing a story with a main character that’s a man. Or a child. Or a foreigner. Or a dog. Using their difference to become a different person. Maybe that’s what’s needed to really be a good writer. To totally abandon who you are and become someone else.

Any thoughts on my direction?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expanding Your Horizons

The last few evenings I have been working on my New Year’s blogs about how to write your first (or third) book. I find I am overwhelmed with the amount of information I think is important — things I have heard, things I have learned.

I suppose this is like writing a book.

Who is your audience? How much do they know? How much do they want to know?

Not everyone is going to need or heed your advice. Some are way past you on the writing highway. Others are going to do things their way, no matter what you suggest. Some will read your book/blog like an astrology forecast; they will skim through, take what they believe is meant for them and skip the rest. Others will read what you write with a depth and desire matched only by connoisseurs of fine chocolates.

I suppose all artists experience this range of wondering. Will the viewer like this new shade of blue/green? Do they prefer landscapes to abstract designs? Are potential fans encouraged or discouraged by alien worlds? Would they rather read about their own neighborhood?

Fortunately the world is as diverse as the universe. Some will take heed on what you say; some will reject every point you make. Some people know it all; some know nothing.

You just have to find a comfortable point and go with it.

Now, of course,  artists have to please themselves first. What good is a “calling” when you’re doing everything but what your soul wants you to do?

But in order to be appreciated, to be understood, in order to share your vision, you have to kind of cater to the masses too. An all-black painting with a white dot might not stir much reaction; an all-black painting with blue and green stipples might stir a darker soul.

Of course, I only have a writing frame of reference to work from. Many of you have been lost in your art for a long time. So who should know more about what works in the world in your field than you?

Should you want to sell your wares or get a major reaction down the line, you need to focus in on those who appreciate your particular style.

Who would that be?

Research is next to godliness (and cleanliness). There will always be a hundred other people who make pottery like you or needlepoint like you, but there is only one you. You  have to research people and websites and craft groups and writers groups and art fairs and work with them to spread the word.

Your website, your business card, your postings, all have to be different from everyone else’s. You have to appeal to the masses while keeping that smaller niche all to yourself.

Don’t downplay yourself, don’t undersell yourself. Don’t be who you are not. There is a market for everyone. Even if that market is your friends and kids. That’s not a bad market, either.

You will find that if you reach out and make others feel good about their art, that’s just a bonus for moving forward.

Tomorrow…(or more likely over the weekend)… some bloggers and their artwork and their wares.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Juan Gris

José Victoriano (Carmelo Carlos) González-Pérez, better known as Juan Gris (1887-1927) built upon the foundations of early Cubism and steered the movement in new directions.

Gris was a Spanish painter and sculptor born in Madrid who lived and worked in France most of his life.

Cubism is an early 20th-century style and movement in art, especially painting, in which perspective with a single viewpoint was abandoned and use was made of simple geometric shapes, interlocking planes, and, later, collage.

Unlike Picasso and Braque, whose Cubist works were monochromatic, Gris’s chief aim was to please the eye through color.

Often he incorporated newsprint and advertisements into his work, leaving more of the original pieces of ads and newsprint intact, as if to preserve the integrity of the originals. 

Gris’s later works exhibited a greater simplification of geometric structure, a blurring of the distinction between objects and setting, between subject matter and background. 

The clear-cut underlying geometric framework of his work  controls the finer elements of his paintings and their composition, including the small planes of the faces, become part of the unified whole. 

More of Juan Gris‘s wonderful cubism art can be found at http://www.juangris.org/.

 

 

Borrowing From Famous Artists

Where do you get your inspiration from? Not just for your stories, but for your paintings, sketches, for your photography?

I love it that inspiration can hit from any direction at any time.

The other night I watched the excellent 2000 movie Shadow of a Vampire with John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe, about the making of Nosferatu in 1922 (with a twist). At the beginning of the movie there was a collage of drawings, haunting in nature, perhaps from Nosferatu’s castle or medieval tapestries or whatever.

But these images are wonderfully unique. They would make great stories, great watercolors, great backgrounds for other worlds, other ideas. I see some unique inspiration coming from these. Just because they showed up in a horror movie doesn’t mean they have to stay there. I see abstract sketches coming from these; I see a story about an alien or elf magically appearing right in his horse’s path; I see a cross stitch in muted colors and poem about finding the light.

It’s easy to get inspired by walking through the woods, or watching a sunset. But what about an old movie script? Can you paint a picture based on someone else’s idea? Write a story based on someone else’s story line?

I say — why not?

Start with a Monet and end up with a modern lithograph. Start with an old Twilight Zone episode and ended up with a short story. Make a quilt based on  designs from Picasso or Juan Gris. Make a needlepoint based off a Medieval tapestry. Design an outfit that reflects the architecture of the Eiffel Tower. Use a photograph of a city skyline to make a paper cutting.

We are not stealing someone else’s ideas — we are taking their idea, a creation, and putting our own mark on it. Our own version of it. A pen and ink drawing can come from a passage in your favorite book; a sculpture can be inspired by a child’s painting on a school wall.

One of the creative paths I want to re-explore once I retire is painting. I enjoyed it so much so long ago…who knows what ideas will come to mind once I put brush to canvas? I can see me trying out these designs I saw on a vampire movie one night. I can try colorful drips and drops and splatters like the ones I watched Ed Harris, aka Jackson Pollock, made in the movie of the painter’s name.

I have so many things I want to try it makes my head spin.

That’s what I want you to feel. Take a design, a photo, a paragraph from a book and turn it into something of your own. It doesn’t matter if it turns out like you thought — that’s why we experiment. To see what spin we can put on someone else’s reality.

Have you taken other artist’s creations and turned them into  your own? Have you ever watched a movie or a TV show and thought “that’s really unique — I can do something with that….”? Share with us. Give us ideas!

And anyway — it’s not really “borrowing.” You don’t need to give it back.

Maybe I should have said — TRANSFORMING.

Isn’t that much more fun?

Sunday Evening Art Gallery on Wednesday — Teri Greeves

Teri Greeves was born and raised on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming among the Shoshone and Northern Arapaho .

Teri’s mother, Jeri Ah-be-hill, owned a trading post on the reservation while Greeves was growing up. “By repeating to customers what I heard her saying when she was selling to and educating the public,” Teri says, “I unknowingly gained a broad knowledge of different beadwork from tribes around the US.”

Blending the abstract, geometric tradition of Kiowa beadwork with the more pictorial style of the Shoshone, Greeves has developed her own visual language.

Greeves has become an award-winning beadwork artist, mostly known for her fully-beaded tennis shoes, which feature Indian pictorial elements.“I must express myself and my experience as a 21st century Kiowa and I do it, like all those unknown artists before me, through beadwork,” Greeves says.

“And though my medium may be considered ‘craft’ or ‘traditional’, my stories are from the same source as the voice running through that first Kiowa beadworker’s needles. It is the voice of my grandmothers.”

Her work is fun and amazing, pulling on the tradition of her ancestors to keep her flowing through modern times.

More of Teri Greeves‘ unique beadwork can be found at https://www.terigreevesbeadwork.com.

It’s a Little Shadowy Out There

Have you noticed?

There’s been an odd, fairly strange vibration swirling around these past couple of days.

For myself, I’ve started my retirement plans, and none too soon. The company is changing, the people, the direction. It’s what every company does. Out with the old, in with the new. The old may have experience but the young have the moxy. I am the old.

And that’s okay. Us ‘tiques have other dreams to pursue, other places to visit, other friends to make.

But it’s been strange vibrations all around me, too.

Some of the blogs I’ve been reading lately have been tinged with melancholy, with sadness, with memories and lost loves and buckets of missed memories.

The news has been depressing and frustrating, even with the occasional stories on Facebook of people and the dogs they rescued and cats finding their forever homes.

I don’t know if it’s pre-Mercury retrograde or the discovery of 20 new moons around Saturn, but the universe is undulating in unsettling ways. I find I cannot listen to the news much anymore, or sad stories about animals and kids. I want to help heal the world, but I can’t.

Lots of violent, sadistic movies and TV shows out there lately, too. Lots of deaths mixed in with good looking heroes. Went to the movies the other nite; the Joker was packed, yet there were only six of us watching Downton Abbey.

How boring I must be.

People are posting and reposting stories about missing long-gone pets, family members, and lifestyles. A lot of sentimental sweet things, too, stories that pull your heart strings as you watch a moment in time disappear, reminding you how short life really is.

It’s probably my hormones again; my body and mind adjusting to getting older. But if you notice the world around you is unsettling as the days go by, perhaps its time to take a break from all of it.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Devote your time to people, places, and things that reinforce your faith in humanity.

For me that’s family and friends. My love of art. It’s writing and having coffee with friends and cleaning out my old clothes that don’t fit right anymore. Its eating my favorite foods and going for a walk and finding a good book to read.

I’m sure you can find a dozen things, too, that take your mind off the melancholy.

We must learn to leave the chaos behind now and then. The things we can do nothing about. Otherwise we will swirl down the hole of no return, alone and wandering.

Stay away from the swirling universe for a while.  It will still be swirling when you get back. Don’t let your sad or wonderful memories be all you see, all you are. Feel the melancholy, the dreams of the past, the vibrations of worlds gone by. But don’t let it own you.

Bake some cookies. Explore the worlds of artists you enjoy. Play Barbies or trucks with little kids or wear something you always wanted to but never did. Try a new hobby, a new restaurant, a new direction.

Don’t let the world take over. You’ve still got so much more to do and be.

And that is a happy thing!

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Cindy Kang

Born and raised in Seoul, along with a couple of other stints living in New Zealand, Australia and the US growing up, Cindy Kang eventually moved to the big apple with hopes and dreams of becoming an illustrator.

She studied illustration at New York’s School of Visual Arts, pursuing an interest in storytelling through heartwarming atmospheric drawings.With a number of commissions under her belt, Cindy’s American dream is gradually being realized; one painterly illustration at a time.“I was always interested in storytelling,” explains Cindy, “whether it’s in the form of written language or visual language.”

“However, being from the other side of the world and living as a ‘foreigner’ for more than half of my life meant that it was inevitable for me to face some language and cultural barriers.”

Taking up drawing as a way to loosen anxiety during those “new girl experiences”, illustration became a release for Cindy, as well as a way to let go from the pressures of communicating perfectly in English.

Her art seems to be a more personal reflection of inner female thoughts and dreams of the feminine world. 

By paying close attention to the emotion of her illustrated figures, Cindy continues to depict a breathing space for her drawn characters while revealing her wild imagination at the same time.

More of Cindy Kang‘s work can be found at http://www.cindysykang.com

 

 

Write Em Cowboy

I am starting to work in earnest on my upcoming blog series “So You Want To Write A Book.”  (or some other wonderfully colorful fictitious title).  I think it will be informative and helpful to readers at every stage of their writing.

It will be free, a part of my blog. I may put together a package of worksheets and references and samples and offer that for purchase. Still working on that.

As I put together this series I also did the final read through of my first book. I said final — I HAVE to say final — or I will be nip and tucking this thing for the next 10 years.

This last nip and tuck a few days ago yielded a cut of 243 words. And those were just the same words I used too many times.

You see? We all have positive and negative writing habits that we cannot see. We read and reread and proofread and still miss the bigger picture; a smooth reading ride on the Writing Railroad.

The advice I will share is good for all lengths of writing: novels, novellas, short stories, magazine articles. Memoirs and science fiction. Romance and mystery. It doesn’t matter what you write — you have to proof it with a fine tooth comb.

My comb is always full of hair. Pity.

But that’s what makes the final work worthy. Worthy of publication, of entering into contests, into being a story in a magazine or a column in a newspaper. Clean, entertaining writing.

I am living proof you have to put in the work.

Some may toss off stories like trick-or-treat candy. Maybe they’re that good. If you are that good, I envy you. For it’s not easy to get exactly what you want to say out and down on paper the first time around. The first ten times around.

Practice, practice, practice. Edit and change and stand back and do it again. That’s one of the tips I’m going to share in my blog come Christmas time.

One of my favorite movies is Tombstone. I love Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp. And he has the best line about cleaning up your writing.

“The Cowboys are finished, you understand me?! I see a red sash, I kill the man wearin’ it! So run, you cur… RUN! Tell all the other curs the LAW’S coming! You tell ’em I’M coming… and Hell’s coming with me, you hear?! Hell’s coming with me!

Hehe….bring the brimstone down on your writing. You won’t be sorry.

Just don’t set your computer on fire…..

Mirrored Reality

Life is kinda funny.

Of course, you already know that. Where else could you start traveling north and eventually wind up in the south?

Your mind loves playing tricks on you. Now, most of us don’t mind being fooled now and then, especially if the outcome is not dramatic or traumatic.  I think it worsens as you get older, too.

Be that as it may….

When you are one way, you wonder what it would be like to be another way. Your mind gets used to what ‘is’, yet hopes to get you pumped about what ‘could be’. Most times that’s okay. It encourages us to look for new jobs, new places to walk, new books to read and such.

Sometimes change is important. Getting out of an abusive relationship, a dead end job, or a poisonous atmosphere are changes definitely worth making. The future has to be better than where you are.

But the mind loves messing around with you. Teases you that maybe what you initially thought as rough really isn’t that rough.

The thought of retirement is like that.

You’ve worked all your life. Answered to countless bosses, co-workers, and job descriptions. You spend a few extra days at home and think “this is the life. I could do this forever.”

And, indeed, cleaning house or changing kitty litter or grocery shopping are even trade offs for sleeping in an hour later or eating breakfast at 1 p.m. After all, you have to do those jobs anyway. But you don’t have to sell things or stand in an assembly line or input data or punch a time clock.

Then your mind starts to trick you. Oh, maybe work isn’t really that bad. After all, I still get to be with my kids in the evening, go to soccer and basketball games, go out to dinner on weekends. I can take vacation when I want and still get paid for it; I can hang with my work friends and maybe even work my way up the corporate ladder.

So you put off thoughts of leaving.

Then you get back to work Monday morning and it’s still the frustrating mess you left behind last week. There are no new jobs to apply for; your co-workers and you still complain and get up too early and are never understood. You once again realize that retirement looks like the way out.

Why does our mind only care about where we are at the time?

You can think through anything and come out with the opinion you were looking for. Logic kinda sidesteps and all these reasons to come or go pop up. Reasons you weren’t looking for in the first place. Reasons to stay. Reasons to go.

Retirement is my mental bag at the moment; yours may be a dream vacation, taking a class, or having dinner with your family. The point is — don’t be afraid of change.

Beware of the alternative universe. Don’t talk yourself out of doing what you really want to do. The opportunity may come again, but it will be different. YOU will be different. But your alternate reality won’t be.

And your mind will have fooled you again.

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Zdzislaw Beksinski

Zdzislaw Beksinski (1929-2005) was a was a renowned Polish painter, photographer, and fantasy artist.

His work reflected his preference for the obscure.His paintings concocted up odd images in the mind, and were a true step into absurdity in the field of dystopian surrealism.Beksinski was a very innovative artist, especially for one working in a Communist country. In the 1970s he entered what he himself called his “fantastic period”, which lasted up to the late 1980s. This is his best known period, during which he created very disturbing images, showing a surrealistic, post-apocalyptic environment with very detailed scenes of death, decay, landscapes filled with skeletons, deformed figures, deserts, all very detailed, painted with his trademark precision, particularly when it came to rough, bumpy surfaces.  Beksinski’s later years were ones filled with tragedy.  His wife, Zofia, died in 1998, and a year later, on Christmas Eve 1999, his son Tomasz (a popular radio presenter, music journalist and movie translator) committed suicide. Beksiński’s life reached a most brutal and melancholy end in 2005, when he was stabbed to death at his Warsaw apartment by a 19-year-old acquaintance from Wołomin, reportedly because he refused to lend the teenager money.Perhaps his art had always reflected the darkness that one day would reflect the end of his life.More of Zdzislaw Beksinski‘s haunting work can be found at https://www.shopbeksinski.com/

Henry the Search Cat — Katzenworld

Did you know? Me neither! Fun on a Thursday!

The post Henry the Search Cat appeared first on Katzenworld – Welcome to the world of cats!. The cat who finds lost cats Hello, humans. My name is Henry. I’m a Search & Rescue cat. Well, actually I’m in charge of the Search part. The Rescue bit is up to my partner, the Lost Cat…

via Henry the Search Cat — Katzenworld

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Raja Ravi Varma

Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) was an Indian painter and artist, considered as one of the greatest painters in the history of Indian art.

Ravi Varma is one of the few painters who managed to accomplish a beautiful union of Indian tradition with the techniques of European academic art.

His paintings can be classified into three categories – portraits, portrait-based compositions and theatrical compositions based on myths and legends. It is the third category of paintings for which Raja Ravi Varma is most renowned.

Raja Ravi Varma is known for his amazing paintings, which revolve mainly around the Puranas (ancient mythological stories) and the great Indian epics – Mahabharata and Ramayana.

 He is sometimes regarded as the first modern Indian artist due to his ability to reconcile Western aesthetics with Indian iconography.

This is one of the reasons why he is considered as one of the most, if not the most prominent Indian painters.

His paintings are full of color and life, sprung from a world most of us are not familiar with.

Hopefully sharing this beautiful art will change all of that.

More of Raja Ravi Varma‘s marvelous paintings can be found at  https://ravivarma.org/  or https://tinyurl.com/y4s79c54. 

Show Me Those Aliens!


Well, the Day of Invasion of Area 51 is finally over.

Out of the one (or two, depending on which news report you read) million people who threatened to show up and storm our not-so-secret military base in Groom Lake, Nevada, only a mere 100 (or couple dozen or handful, depending on which news report you read) showed up. 

There was reportedly one die hard explorer who ran behind a reporter in the “Naruto run”, a weird run inspired by Naruto Uzumaki, a Japanese manga character who runs with his head down and arms stretched behind him.

There was AlienStock in downtown Las Vegas and, at this posting, an alternative — the original — Alienstock in Rachel, NV. There was no invasion of Area 51, a couple of arrests, and relieved maintenance workers, secretaries, and Air Force generals standing guard inside the compound itself.

All the hoopla because of the search for alien life.

I cannot help but be amused at the explosion of interest about just what’s being hidden at a secured site way out in the desert. It sounded like a blast — people dressed up as aliens, tin foil hats, signs and spaceships and, I’m sure, plenty of alcohol and other “enhancements.”

I can just imagine what would have happened if the visitors DID find a few aliens buried behind the barbed wire.

Personally, I don’t think human beings can comprehend what an alien would really look like. Be like.

Some one — some thing — travels millions of miles just to check us out — what for? Any life that has developed outside our solar system would be based on a totally different cosmic scale. 

We can only imagine alien life based on our own interpretation of life. Our own carbon-based DNA. Their makeup, their world, their philosophies would be so different to us as to not be understood.

Maybe that’s why some think there are beings being hidden in the depths and darkness of Area 51. 

We are all fascinated by things we don’t understand. Face it. Don’t you love wondering how magicians do what they do? How lightning happens? How every snowflake can be different? How the human body really works?

We all know there are real physical explanations for most everything. That everything magical has its mundane side. We are fascinated by things we can’t see, things we will never see. Ghosts, galaxies, the inside of an atom. It’s just not possible. Not in this lifetime.

But we can dream. We can imagine. We can pretend. And we can believe.

We can wear tin foil hats and demand the government tell us all its secrets. We can dream of aliens visiting us or dinosaurs roaming through our backyards. 

That’s what’s beautiful about being human. That’s the blessing, the gift, of our humanness. To imagine there will always be more to learn. To see. To experience.

And how lucky we are to have a video of dozens of people practicing the Naruto Run just in case they decide to break down the fence at Area 51 and dodge the bullets and machine gun fire and bust down doors and run down ten flights of stairs just to see those aliens.

 

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery on Friday — Valerio D’Ospina

 

There is something surrealistic about Valerio D’Ospina’s dramatic artwork.

Looking at the city scapes, one feels as if they are moving forward in time, glimpsing life as it blurs past the window.

D’Ospina was born in Italy, but now lives and works in Pennsylvania.

The artist paints gritty scenes from industry including ship yards, trains, and urbanscapes.

D’Ospina also finds beauty in industrial transportation, specifically oil tankers and old locomotives that lumber into rail yards or sit docked in harbors with a captivating sense of dignity.

His perspective has an edge of starkness to them, as his brush strokes streak across the canvas.

It is a sharp, beautiful, unique way to view the world.

More of Valerio D’Ospina‘s work can be found at https://www.valeriodospina.com/.

 

 

I Forgot — Again

After work this evening I went shopping at Walmart and wound up locking my keys in the car. I had to call my hubby from work 30 miles away and have him come unlock the car.

That in itself doesn’t sound so bad. Everyone forgets something. Locks themselves out of something.

Not me.

To me this is the first sign of dementia. Or Alzheimer’s. Or something just as tragic.

I just know it.

I’m not making fun of those who have it. I have always had this feeling that this will be my path somewhere down the line. No one in my family has it, but my mom passed away at 54 so who knows what her fate would have been.

Locking myself out of my car does not bode well for my wanting to go to Paris for a week by myself, either.

I’m already nervous about the thought of taking a trip like this by myself. I am at the fantasy stage, the imagine-it-all stage. The pre-research stage. My family doesn’t know my desire — even my husband is pre-iffy. So convincing everyone that I can handle life alone in the city of Love for a week by myself is going to be a real hurdle.

I already am a fraidy cat when it comes to strangers and finding my way around new places. The thought of boarding a plane and going to a country where I don’t speak the language nor know the landscape is not just a case of turning left instead of right.

But I’m still up for it. My writing is still up for it.

I’m getting afraid my memory is following way far behind.

What if I lose my hotel key? What if I take the wrong bus and get dumped in a small French village where no one speaks English and I become the town buffoon?

I can just see this feeble old lady wandering around aimlessly saying “Parles-tu Anglais?

I know this is overreaction at the highest level.

But when you’ve been forgetting things lately like locking the bottom lock on the door or locking your keys in the car or wondering where the scratches on your shoulder came from (the cat, probably), traveling by yourself becomes secondary.

The Paris trip thing is the least of my worries. I forget this thing or that thing now, and before I know it I’ll be forgetting to put on underwear. You know what I mean.

Fear is like a multiplication table. At the beginning, the numbers are small. Easy to remember. But as you age, the multiplication table gets bigger and bigger. You try and keep up — you study, you make notes, you talk outloud to yourself. 

Yet you forget one thing and it’s back to the beginning of the multiplication table, with a few more people watching you perform. 

I know I have a long way to go before the mind disappears into that sweet fog of NaNaLand. But every time I slip, every time I mess up, it makes me — and others — take notice.

I’d rather take notice of cafes in Paris that serve a mean Coq au Vin….

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Matt Molloy

Living on the shore of Lake Ontario, just east of Toronto, 29-year-old photographer Matt Molloy has daily encounters with brilliant sunsets and cloudscapes that he’s been photographing for over three years.

One day he began experimenting with time-lapse sequences by taking hundreds of images as the sun set and the clouds moved through the sky.

Molloy had always loved  “star trail” photos. They’re most commonly made from multiple photos of stars shot from a fixed position and later merged into one image. 

Applying this technique to his own photography, Molloy then digitally took and and stacked numerous photos to reveal shifts in color and shape reminiscent of painterly brush strokes that smeared the sky.

There is something about Molloy’s timelapse photography that makes you feel as if you were watching time spread and stop at the same time.

It’s a point of view that is as colorful and transient as life itself.

More of Matt Molloy‘s amazing photography can be found at https://matt-molloy.pixels.com/ and https://www.dpmag.com/how-to/shooting/the-art-of-time-lapse-photography/.

 

 

Painting Is Easy…Not

I was reading posts I follow, and came across  Carsten Wieland’s watercolor paintings. I have highlighted his work here on Humoring the Goddess and on my Sunday Evening Art Gallery blog before, so you are kind of familiar with his work.

But I have to repost this here this afternoon. If you have three minutes, watch the video of him painting the ship. He makes the creative process look so easy, so simple.

That is what real artists do.

I am speechless. For I know that’s not true.

 

WATERCOLOR ON INGRES PAPER 2

https://brushparkwatercolors.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/watercolor-on-ingres-paper-2/

 

The Masters of Art Never Go Far

Every day is a new chance to start over. To clean the slate. To move towards what we really want out of life.

But sometimes we don’t want to change. Maybe we like where we are. What we’ve discovered. Maybe we’ve found what we want to be.

That’s good too. As long as you’re somehow, someway, still growing.

I found myself going through some older art galleries, and am amazed at the creativity I’ve found. I love these images, I love the intricacies of their art. So I thought I’d bring a couple to tonight’s gathering to remind you to look through my galleries, or other galleries, and allow yourself to be amazed.

Google “Paris Art Galleries” or “San Francisco Art Galleries”  or “Modern Art Galleries” and just take a look at what’s around you. Take a few minutes and wander through one person’s art. One person’s mind and soul.

Let me know what you find. Let me know how it feels.

 

 

Jose Vergara

 

 

Luke Jerram

 

Bisa Butler

 

 

Elizabeth Berrien

 

Mosaic Art Buildings

 

 

Eric Standley

 

 

Fabergé

 

 

Michael Parkes

 

 

Pysanky Ukrainian Easter Eggs

 

 

Louise Bourgeois

 

 

Minerals

 

 

H.R. Giger

 

 

Liu Bolon

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Anthony Grootelaar

One of the things about Anthony Grootelaar‘s artwork that I immediately was drawn to was his attention to texture.

Texture can come in many forms, including depth, repetitiveness, and colors.

That is why every picture is so very different. So hard to choose which ones to showcase.

Grootelaar is a self-taught artist, well into the generative- and integrity-based decades of his life.

He strives to make art that is both “interesting” and “practical”, interesting as in arresting, and practical in that it can hung on any wall without any other intent than  to be a dynamic and positive element.

His work can be any mix of pen, paper, paint and brush, high definition photography, digital processing,  and ink jet printing,

Grootelaar says, “Art, as I see it, always starts out as a problem I try to move in a aesthetic  direction. Future directions will include large scale works to maximize the impact of color and composition.”Even if the design or color is not to your palate, the combinations shine together, bringing texture and aesthetics for the forefront.

More of Anthony Grootelaar‘s imaginative work on his website, My Monkey Mind. Be sure to look him up and follow his amazing art journey.

You Texted What?!?

Well, now that I’m far enough away from white wind turbines not to be haunted by them, I have been hit by the writing bug again.

Creative artists are a curious bunch. You say you’re not, but of course you are.

Anyway…

I already have too much on my plate, and not a big enough plate to hold it all.

Last week when I was camping with my family I couldn’t sleep. I’m in a tent with my hubby. The wind is howling and so is his snores. Mine will accompany his if I ever get to sleep. So wandering as my mind often does, I get this idea for a story.

I’ve been wanting to write something about my dreams and connecting them to real life for some time now, but never could get a feasible idea going.

Until 1 a.m. in the tent.

No paper, no pencil, no computer to record my thoughts. Great. You know me — I’m afraid I’ll forget tomorrow’s grocery list if I don’t write it down.

So I get this great idea.

Type my idea into a draft into my email from my phone. Sounds simple, right?

Nothing is ever simple for me.

So here I am, under the covers in my dark tent, trying not to wake up hubby who is delightfully snoring away, trying to write down my idea with my two thumbs.

Here are part of my notes. No lie.

She is terrifird. Hm. Dreans start to get weied. Still knonve but dreans like dinner in lasr samari or talk through glllass wall. They funalky meet. In dream workd reality of work does  nt exist. Reakirmty knows intensiry of dream wirld but not vuce versan what to do.

Uh huh. I understand that.

Good thing I’m not in a typing bee, though.

The point is that you can get inspired any time, any where. On walks. At work. In a sleeping bag. Walking to the bus. You can see a color for a design that is so cool in nature you want to reproduce it. You hear a chit of conversation and think it would make a great screenplay. You see a sunset and wonder if you could needlepoint it.

But you have no way of recording these outstanding, blast open ideas.

Or do you?

Do what you have to. Write on toilet paper, take a leaf with you. Write code words in ketchup. Take a picture. Write on your arm with an ink pen. Draft an email.

Just get your thoughts DOWN.

Inspiration will come and go, but you will never have that exact idea or moment again. And who knows — that could be THE ONE.

Hexxv goes on teip, dreans geeet better.

Good thing I speak thumb text…..

 

Freaking Out

Are there things in the world that kinda freak you out? Make you uncomfortable?

I don’t mean things that make you go running in the opposite direction like spiders or the crud that accumulates behind your refrigerator.

I mean things that kinda give you the heebee jeebees and you’re not sure why. Eerie, strange, everyday things that just kinda make you think twice about them.

I feel that way about the new wind turbines.

For those of you unfamiliar with them, they are usually these thin, tall, white windmills standing in the middle of fields for miles with their three blades slowly turning in the breeze. Majestic things, really, that help make energy, usually for the electric company. They are usually white and have three arms, or blades.

There are a couple of fields on my way home from my yearly camping trip that are filled with these slow turning beauties. I’ve been told you either love them or hate them: love them for their architecture and purpose, hate them because they are a sore spot in your back yard.

Well, I don’t know what it is, but seeing them in the close distance kinda freaks me out.You have to see them in person to properly feel the freak. There’s something about their 3D-ish nature that can make you uncomfortable.

Here are these thin white towers that tower over you (pun pun), their giant arms spread wide out on either side like arms, looming over the houses and trees, all three dimensional and moving and all.

Yesterday one was not moving with the wind and its arms were wide open like a monster coming to get you. The tall blade on top had some dirt/debris on it and from a ways away it looked like a face. It stood behind a small white house, looming, leering, really showing the contrast in size with its surroundings.

Now, I’ve played “What If” before. I wrote a blog calledLet “What If” Guide Your Storywhere you ask yourself (or others) things like…What if you were driving home from work one afternoon and in the distance, over the tops of the trees, you see a giant ant ripping off tops of houses? Or … What if you were relaxing one night, watching TV, and you say something to your dog, and he answers you in English?

These were meant to be taken seriously, as answering these questions helps you be creative in your writing.

Well, I was hit with that “What If” scenario yesterday, and it kinda freaked me out. These tall thin turbines looked like alien sentinels waiting for night to move forward and chop us all to pieces with their white blades. Some arms were moving veerrrryyyy slowly around in a circle, like they were building up energy to pull feet from inside the ground and walk around.

Now, there is nothing wrong with windmills. Or wind turbines. They are just machines like bulldozers.

But sometimes when you least expect it they take a life of their own. You see something out of the corner of your eye and are not sure of what you saw, and the emotion that is leftover is creepy. It doesn’t make sense, nor is it supposed to.

Makes for a good short story thought, don’t you think?

Are there things in the world that kinda freak you out?

 

If You Can Do It I Can Do It

Been away for a weekend, loving every minute of it, now needing a vacation from my vacation.

But once reality sets in, when the kids go back to school and the weather starts to change, I start to think about my own dreams and desires and how time flies before you get a start on any of them.

Do you have dreams and desires and goals you have set for yourself that you haven’t quite reached yet? Are you doing anything about them? Are you saying “Mmmyeh…what comes comes…” and half way giving up since you believe they weren’t meant to come true anyway?

Or are you working on those dreams, manifesting your inside outside and really going for the gusto?

A friend of mine in here is a wonderful abstract artist, Anthony Grootelaar (MyMonkey Mind). I’m going to feature him in the Gallery soon. He has so much art created I’m sure he could wallpaper a mansion. I love his colors and his approach and his experiments and his plans. Here I am, telling him he should have art shows and go to art fairs with his wares and all these other extra-curricular things that he probably already has done.

I get pumped up when I see other’s successes.

I know a few other poets through this blog that are marvelous writers. I’m always telling them to publish a book of poetry or offer it on their blog or at book fairs. I’m all for the excitement and sharing of their talent with others.

I know painters, furniture makers, writers. They all are extremely creative and moving forward with their Art.

Yet where am I on my own cosmic sharing scale?

I would like to think that I, too, have a special talent that’s worth sharing beyond my personal computer or now and then on my blog. Yet I cringe when I think about sharing my talent.

For what if it’s not talent?

Why is it so much easier to be enthusiastic about someone else’s work?

There is so much beauty out there — so much creativity. So many new ideas. Forms of expression. Shining stars. I am all for others sharing their souls with the the world. After all, ~I~ am in love with their work — why wouldn’t others be?

But when it comes to our own work, we are our own worse critics.
I’ve been both ways. I’ve thought something was fantastic and it was terrible; I’ve thought something not that great and it was well received.

We will never know the extent of our greatness until we put it out there. And keep it out there.

We have to develop a thicker skin, that’s for sure. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and all. But more than that, we have to be willing to learn. from our creativity. To correct, to erase, admit we made a wrong choice, and start again differently. Better. Smoother.

I have so many plans for my future creative self. Things I want to write, art I want to make. And I want to share it with others. Maybe even sell some of it.

I know I can do it. I just don’t know if I have the patience to see it through.

But you all have taught me something. If you  can do it — I can do it. If you are thinking about it and working on it, I can be thinking and working on it too.

Let’s say together it in Morgan Freeman’s voice!

I think you can do anything you want!

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Pegi Smith


Pegi Smith paints in acrylics on canvas from her home studio in the mountains near Ashland, Oregon.

Smith’s art immerses the viewer into her very compelling dream world.

From these dreams, Smith paints abstracts using rich colors to evoke and uplift the viewer.

Smith is a self-taught artist, therefore she uses her paints in an innovative manner exclusive to herself.

Her use of color, which changes with each collection, makes her work perfect for nearly any interior decor scheme.

She aims to summarize her own life perspectives in her paintings and hopes that her work will cause the viewer to immerse and then emerge with the intent of the design.

More of Pegi Smith’s innovative artwork can be found at http://www.pegsmith.com