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Let the holidays begin…

I hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, food, and eventually a nap.  I certainly had a wonderful day. I filled mine with all of the above, plenty of puppy kisses, and snuggles. Add in a lot of words and we have a good picture of my day. We’re still eating leftovers though and enjoying them. And I’m sure that they will last through the weekend. I am delighted by that to be perfectly honest.

With Thanksgiving over, there are a number of things on my mind. We have five days left of NanoWrimo and I’m still playing catch up. I’m not sure if I will be able to complete the challenge or not this year. Regardless, readers of my fiction will be happy to know that there is much progress on the sequel to The Secret of the Storm which is still available over on Amazon. I’m pretty stoked about what is going on in the new book as well. So, I’m very excited to complete the project so that I can let you all in on the secrets that are unfolding in that little seaside town.

It is time to get in a more festive mood as well. Christmas is right around the corner. I am already starting the gifting list for family and friends. And I’ve chosen my Christmas Cards so those need to be put together and out into the post. There is always a lot of hustle and bustle to the month of December for nearly everyone I know. Lots of shopping, parties, family expectations, and even surprises for some.

In the middle of all the merry making, I would also remind you to think about yourself a bit in a time when we think of everyone else. Answer the question of what you want for the holidays. This is a great time to tell friends and family about a new interest. If you have been inspired to try something new and creative that seemed too expensive, use this season as an opportunity to get supplies you need.

Think about it. Let’s say you want to learn how to paint. So, you get with friends and family. You talk about it. Let them see your enthusiasm for it. One friend gets you a brush set. Another an inexpensive easel. Maybe someone picks up a starter set of paints for you or some canvas panels. The next thing you know, it is 2018 and you’re standing or sitting in front of your own art set up ready to create your first masterpiece.

Creative living also means that we use our creativity in times when we need to. Not everyone has a big budget for holiday gifting. So, can you make some of your gifts this year? If you’re planning on that what are you planning to make? I have a few that I’ll be making.

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And Then Life Happens…

What’s the John Lennon Quote?

Yep, that would be the one.

Living creatively is as much about stopping and experiencing life as it is about creating things that will enhance it for yourself and possibly others. It is impossible to create constantly. If we do we deplete the well of experience and inspiration that we draw from. Once in a while, it is necessary to stop and smell the roses. Whether that is literal or proverbial is entirely dependent on the artist.

NanoWrimo is a huge undertaking even for published authors. 50,000 words in a 30 day span is a huge commitement. It takes planning and foresight. Not to mention everyone in your life being on the same page as you and willing to pick up the slack if you are working full time. Planning is a must if you expect your story to have any sort of flow or cohesion at the end of November. And sometimes, life happens and you know you aren’t going to make that goal.

For me, when it happens, as in previous years, I don’t just stop. Whether I finish a self-imposed ludicrous deadline, or not, isn’t the end of the world. We can’t plan for all the interruptions that can happen in a month.

For example: You get sick. Your attention is pulled away on a project at the office, requiring you to work late most nights. A dog that is persistent in his need for extra snuggles or play time. (Don’t laugh. Have you ever tried to write something with a chiweenie yapping at you from the end of the bed? Impossible! I really need some noise cancelling headphones.) Kids needing attention or homework help. Not to mention extra acitivities with them being off from school or prepping for plays etc. Spouses that want attention or need something from you when you’re in the middle of a huge plot twist. (Suddenly I’m very thankful for my single status.) Toss in a major family holiday to the mix.

The point is. Life happens. No matter how much you plan your schedule or think you have all the distractions in check, life will eventually find a way to pull you away from the projects in your head. And that’s okay.

When you find yourself completely flustered with all these things; sometimes all you can do is embrace them. Enjoy the moment. Be present with the people you care about and who care about you. Whether they be big, small, or furry. They won’t be there forever. They will eventually leave you to your thoughts and projects. And you may find something in those moments that adds just what you needed to your projects.

For me, it is all about embracing this journey we call Life.

Too Many Irons

Part of starting this blog was to give you a window into my creative world. And let me tell you something. Lately, that world has been a bit chaotic. The chaos is my own making though and I wouldn’t change it. In fact, there is also a lot of excitement in the middle of it all.

A few years ago I took it upon myself to learn how to decorate cakes. I’m not sure why, except to say that I like pretty things and cake of course. Bottom line is that it started with me learning to make gumpaste roses and it has sort of developed from there. In fact, it all started with this cake for our Thanksgiving celebration. Then we branched out with some for friends including this Octonauts cake. 

Well, in the last year or so my mother and I have been creating some really tasty and cool things. We gave ourselves a name and  started giving out samples we made. We’ve donated cupcakes, cookies, and even a massive gingerbread house to various things locally. Mainly because we were having fun but we didn’t need to eat all that cake. People really liked our twist on vintage recipes.

With time, we find that we have people coming back to us to make birthday cakes, cookies, and other goodies. Now, it is really starting to take off since we have a customer who is involved in a major organization that does celebrations regularly. This is a first and we’re still feeling things out as a business opportunity but, I’m pretty excited about it.

We have orders on the books at this point. They take time to process and crate these lovely confections. Yet it is so rewarding to see a finished project and the looks on people’s faces when they get something for a special day that is just as unique as they are.

Believe me when I say I feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I’ll be happy to see this turn into a venture with some financial gain to it though. Maybe I’ll be able to shift from working at a day job for someone else to working for myself in the not so distant future. That will also mean more time for writing as well. A life of creativity. Who could ask for more?

This could be the start of living the dream. As slow as it may seem, it is a start.

What’s on my nightstand?

There seems to always be an interest in what authors are reading. Make no mistake, most of us are always reading something. Some of our favorite places are bookstores after all. So, I’m going to do a recurring posting series talking about books I’m reading and what I think of them. Hopefully I’ll be able to promote some of my fellow independent authors in doing this too.

phone-1052023_960_720I admit that I’m a slow reader. Between a day job that consumes many of my waking hours and trying to write my own fiction, this blog, and market the whole, I don’t get a lot of time to read for pleasure. But there is always something on my Goodreads shelf, Kindle Fire, and bedside table.  In fact, I’m one of those people who start a lot of books and take forever to finish them. If you want to follow me or connect over on Goodreads, I welcome you to check out the profile by clicking here.

So, what am I reading?

Big Magic

BigMagicPB

Big Magic cover courtesy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s website. https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/

 Creative Living Beyond Fear – by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book is a great read for anyone who is ready to make the leap into a more creative lifestyle. I found it to be both inspiring and practical really. Gilbert doesn’t mince words when it comes to the valid fears that come up when you consider embracing your creativity.

She talks about various concepts that depict creativity as a series of experiences that are almost spiritual in nature. It is not a new concept. In fact, I find that the more creative people I talk to, the more I find most of us hold that belief about our own unique experiences in living this creative life. And there is something almost transcendental about bringing something to life on the page, easel, or whatever other media you choose to work in. What it definitely takes to do that is courage.

Big Magic is a huge pep talk for creatives. Wonderfully modern and frank in tone, Elizabeth Gilbert essentially tells creators to push aside the fear more often than they give into it. Reminders that while ideas are always out there, they may not all work out or be great ideas for a particular artist. The key is to step out and make the art instead of wishing we were or pining away for a life we aren’t willing to allow ourselves to lead.

I am definitely taking a page from her book of wisdom.  Realizing that life is about discovering what we are capable of.  I’m taking steps to write more and put myself out there more. Which is why you see me more often here and hopefully on the Amazon virtual book shelves in coming months.

What is your favorite book on creativity? I can always use more on my shelves.

Stop over and check out my Amazon Author Page for my latest work in print. All available in both Print and Kindle format. And don’t forget to subscribe so you can get the latest posts from yours truly.

My Top Tool For Creativity

When you get to know me, you’ll quickly realize that I am all over the place creatively. Yes, my primary focus is writing fiction. There are tons of other creative interests in my bag of tricks though.

For example: Did you know that I sing? Yep, I even recorded an album with a band. I also performed in musicals back in the day. I also decorate cakes and cookies with my mom. (Psst… If you’re in East Texas. We have a facebook page and take orders. So check us out here.) I am learning to draw and even paint using acrylics. I do embroidery or other sewing, usually by hand, when I watch television. And I’m slowly learning to play the violin. I could list a bunch of other things. My point, however, is that I try new things and do my best not to limit my options.

But what helps me do that? Is there some common thread in all of these things that I do?

The answer is that there is something I do on a daily basis that helps me keep it all together. I journal. I don’t mean sit down an type on the computer either. I use an actual book and I don’t limit it to words. Granted, my journals usually consist of a ton of words but, I also doodle and sometimes design pages so that they are a bit more visual. The point of it all is to put my thoughts down however they manifest.

Why?

Well, how many times have you thought of a great idea for something to do and you get sidetracked by some chore or errand? You do the required whatever it is. Then, you come back to your creative space to manifest your idea only to have forgotten what it was.

It happens to us all. Don’t worry. I can’t tell you how many great book ideas are lost to the ether because I failed to write them down early on. Carrying a notebook everywhere is second nature to me now.  You’ll rarely ever find me without a way to write something down when it pops in my mind.

Now, there are plenty of journaling resources out there. I won’t get into all of that. Some will tell you that you should only use a leather bound, lined, 80gsm paper, with an expensive fountain pen. And you should format the pages a certain way and all sorts of other nonsense. If those things suit you, go for it. But for someone who wants to keep things simple let me give you the basic break down of what you need.

Number One

A notebook. Any notebook will do. Pick one up at Walmart or Target. Back to school shopping is upon us so they are cheap to find. If you’re inspired by something fancy then, go for it and splurge. I do, however, suggest something you can carry with you. That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Walmart usually carries a half size notebook that easily fits in my purse or messenger bag. When on a budget, that’s a go to item on my list.

Number Two

A decent pen. Whether you prefer a felt tip like Papermate’s Flair Pens, Pilot V5s or G2, or Bic Crystal Sticks you can spend as little or as much as you like. I have all of the above along with a box of others. In fact, some of the best writing ball point pens were freebies from the bank.  But, I also have a fountain pen that I favor. It really just depends on my mood.

As for formatting? Throw all of those suggestions out the window at first. Just be creative with it. Do what you do. I generally freewrite for a while in my journal before I get started on any projects. It clears my head of the clutter and allows me to process things easier. So, start there and focus on getting the ideas out of your head and onto the pages. Think of it as a reference for later. If you feel like drawing or painting, go for it. If not, that’s okay too.

Some days may be nothing but complaining about life and the circumstances you find yourself in. That’s okay.

Some days you may find that you have a brilliant epiphany about what you want to do next in life, in a relationship, in your career, or in art. That’s okay too. In fact, those days are just amazing.

And sometimes, it will just be a mess. It will seem incoherent and disjointed. And that’s okay too.

Remember, no one reads this but you. Unless, of course, you allow them to. Then I would hope that it is someone you trust.

For any artist the journal is an essential. It is the catch all for ideas, fears, and even for celebrations. It is a sacred space with it’s own special sort of magic. The more you use it, the more of yourself you uncover. That includes hidden talents and desires for your life. I encourage everyone to try it.

In fact, give it a go and tell me about your experience with it in the comments.

Don’t forget that The Secret of the Storm is available over on Amazon. Click Here  It makes for an awesome summer break read and is available in ebook and print format.

Also, if you haven’t already, subscribe up at the top so you don’t miss a post.

If you want to know more about my journaling experience, feel free to leave questions or suggestions in the comments. Maybe a journal walk through could be a good starting video for a Youtube channel. What say you?

On The Horizon

I’ve been absent much more than I wanted to. We’re still researching internet providers for the new apartment right now. Though we’re planning on having everything set up at the first of the month, we’re on a budget and looking for the best deal we can find. So, access to my blog, email, and other online things is very limited at the moment.

In fact, I know I was spoiled now. I got very accustomed to having high speed internet. My ex insisted on keeping it when we were living together because of his “hobbies”. Of course I took advantage of the connection. Since he was never without it, I’ve pretty much had continual access to high speed for about six and a half years. That is, until now. Now, I’m literally using a sort of dial up to post things and check my email. Sometimes I think it would be faster to do this by snail mail.

Regardless of whether the net access is up and running by the first of the month, there are still big things on the horizon. One in particular, I want to give you some details on.

Yes, I am planning to do a sequel to my debut novel, The Secret of the Storm. The readers are speaking loud and clear on this particular issue. And I have been putting pen to page to jot down ideas for the plot and a couple of new characters to add to the mix. I won’t give details away yet except to say that there are even more family secrets for Elora Castain to uncover in the next book. There is a certain small issue from the end of the first book to resolve as well.

As much as I am planning to do this, I have to admit that I’m concerned about the time that this “side project” will take away from the coming series Armageddon Rising. It will definitely make a lot more work for me in the coming months if I am going to meet a deadline as I have in mind. So, in a way, I’m going to leave it to the readers to decide if there will be another.

On August 1st, 2013 I will be launching an Indiegogo campaign to fund the sequel. There will be incentives for those who donate or pre-order the book. I hope to raise enough to pay off a couple of bills, market the books more, and allow me to get out there to meet the readers in a more one on one way, and give us a bit of breathing room here at home so that we can continue to move toward our goals for our family.

Yes, it will be up to the readers to help get this one done. I’m going to need funds to pay editors, artists, etc for things to make this happen quickly. If those funds aren’t raised to a certain level, I don’t think that I can sink as much time into it to get it done on a tight schedule as planned. Other works will take a front seat to this one unless I can reach at least half of my goal on this crowdfunding. I’m aiming for $3,000.00. If it funds completely or goes over the sequel will take a center stage for me for the next few months (aside from homeschooling the munchkin, of course) and will come out sometime in the spring. If I only get half of the amount it won’t happen until summer or later because I’ll have to put other projects into that mix and hopefully release two back to back. We’ll just see what you all say.

It may be the case that you’re all just being nice to the newbie on the market and saying you want a sequel too. In that case, I won’t bother with it. I’ll just move on to the new series all together.

In any event, there are a lot of things happening for me. I’ll be posting more about everything soon. I’m planning on starting my regular posts back up next week. So that gives me through Monday to get my thoughts sorted and things planned out. So, I’ll see you all on the other side of the weekend. Have a fabulous one!