Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Progress is one step at a time

I used to teach creative writing as a middle school elective. Not only that, but I also helped develop a three-year cyclical curriculum that would keep students engaged if they took the elective every year during middle school. I loved creating the lessons and content for my students, and naturally, I had accumulated quite a lot of materials. 

When I left my teaching position in Texas, I "shared" all the files from my school Google account to my personal Google account. Unfortunately, I believe that those materials were lost when my school account was deactivated. I'm pretty upset, but I can't stay in that place for long. 

So, I'm determined to create bigger and better, or at least to start on that creation. Right now, I have an outline of the major units I taught. 

In the meantime, I have also reached out to the English department chair where I want to teach a continuing education course in creative writing. This will give me the teaching and guidance outlet I love without the necessity of grading!!! And I hope to reach a larger audience this way.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Moving "write" along

 I'm so excited to say that since my last blog post, I've accomplished quite a lot in the writing (and business) areas. 

I filed my LLC for my coaching business in Colorado, so I will be adding writing under the total umbrella for Success with Tess, LLC.  Not only will Success with Tess, LLC handle coaching, but there will be a forthcoming journal for self-care. When I lived in Texas, I only had a DBA, so this is stepping forward in business for me. 

I purchased a block of ISBNs for my children's books, which will be republished this year if I keep to my schedule. I have a wonderful artist friend who will help me rework the illustrations for the 2 existing Baxter books and get the third completed and published.  We will also be putting out coloring books on my Etsy site.... that's a thing, too. 

I've been working on my short articles for The Belly Dance Chronicles. This beautiful magazine is currently on hold while they are looking for a publishing platform that suits their needs. I'm working on a number of articles so we can all hit the ground running as soon as they are ready.

Finally..... maybe... I am creating an outline for a creative writing course to teach in the continuing education department at AIMS Community College here in northern Colorado.  There are three campuses very close to me, so I'm betting I can get at least one campus to support this course. I am also considering applying for an English adjunct position.

For you, my readers, I want you to put faith in any writing endeavor that you do. If you are journaling, writing poems, or attempting something larger, DO IT. 

I think my entire family started writing more after I got serious and was published. I'm sure they figured if I could do it, they certainly could.  My dad, mom, and brother have started writing funny and poignant family stories. I could not be happier about this. I'm so thrilled they are all finding their individual voices.  It's a crazy joy for me to see other people write, feel good about their writing, and find their voice. I don't care what they write or if they share it with me, which they normally do. I just want them to have joy in writing. It's an art, a creative process, and an important part of human civilization to write our stories - fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose.  It doesn't matter. It's a uniquely defining factor of our species on this planet. Blows your mind, doesn't it?  

Join me in finding your voice and finding joy. If you want information about writing or any of my specialties, hit me up at Leave a comment and let me know what you are writing or what you plan to write!!!  Put in links to your blogs or other writing so we can enjoy!

Sunday, February 19, 2023

I can do that...

I’m not sure when I first started using the phrase, “I can do that.” It’s apparently so much a part of me that my entire family says it in jest whenever I get a certain look in my eyes. When I saw belly dancers dancing on stage at Scarborough Faire in Waxahachie, Texas, I said, “I can do that.” (Note: my mother had taught belly dance lessons at a local junior college when I was very, very little, so this was NOT my first exposure to this awesome dance form.) I immediately signed up for lessons with Isis at her studio in Bedford, Texas. 

I've done the same with writing books, participating in adventure race sprints, and learning new instruments. I didn’t say, “I’ll try,” “I’ll see” or “I want to do that.” I affirmed that I already had the ability to DO it. If you read motivational and self-help books, they give the same advice. Speak as if you've already become or done that thing. 

Start telling yourself, “I can do that.” Go out there and DO IT!

Leave me a comment on a time you did the same. I'd love to hear from you, and you might inspire someone else to live their dream.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Updates to the page - and a new offering!

 Hello all  - 2023 is already a flurry of activity around here. I've created affiliate links for any/all books on this site. That includes my books and books I love and/or recommend. In addition, I now offer coaching and editing services. I've been an editor for a long time, but I just didn't advertise. I'll only take jobs on a case-by-case review, and I'll have a few different tiers to offer. Look for more details coming soon. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Getting back on track

 So, I have two children's books published. I'm very grateful and love that I had that opportunity, but all was not quite rainbows and roses. I had two talented illustrators who brought Baxter and his stories to life, and I have great reviews for which I am humbled. But illustrator #1 wasn't paid (or paid so little as to seriously infuriate a very good artist) by the publisher, and I'm not sure if illustrator #2 was either. Neither came back. Then came a string of several illustrators who were wildly wrong for the project. Heck, I even bought a very low-end digital art pad and took an illustration course. Sadly, though I can draw a bit and certainly copy things, I couldn't get the hang of this.  Maybe I can keep trying since I have an iPad and pencil now. 

Then, my publisher didn't get book 3 published and eventually shut up the house. Amazon only offers my first book, Merry Christmouse, digitally, so people can't get a hard copy.  (Publisher should be working on that now.) Also, somehow my book was sold or handed off to other printers, and now they are getting printed elsewhere - I don't get paid for those. 😡

Book 3 was written, edited, and ready for the next step. I actually don't know if that will happen.  Writing books ain't for the faint of heart, y'all.

However, I started 2023 asking for the rights to my books and the digital files so that I can work on republishing the books. I'm not sure what it will take right now, but they are MY books. I'm going to get them back out, and I'm going to research to make it right. Amazon has a global reach, but I feel sick with my books out there getting sold without respecting me. 

I'm also going to open a digital store for Baxter items, so look for that.  I want Baxter on an ornament or t-shirt or something!  So does my awesome mom. If I can get the hang of drawing digitally, I want to create Baxter coloring books. I had so many big ideas way back when, and it's time to dust off.... uh, the dust.😄  I've contacted BOTH illustrators to get involved AND get some compensation from their work on my behalf.

In other news, I found a file that might contain some of my novel information from long ago, AND I found my old teaching website that contains tons of files and links that I used for to teach middle school Language Arts classes, including my creative writing elective classes. I'm going to see if I can get everything back up and accessible. I'm really excited. It's like a big New Year's present (and if you only knew what a disaster my NYE was, you'd agree that I needed this). 

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Uhm.... that time when you forgot you had a blog.

So, it's been a while since I've posted because life really had twists and turns, and then I completely forgot I had a blog. Whoops!

But, cool things are happening.  I have 2 children's books that I still adore. A third was written and edited, but it never got published. The publisher I was with didn't pay my illustrators and then didn't find a suitable replacement.  Then, she closed up shop. So, who knows what I'll do on that front. EXCEPT, I have resurrected my CafePress shop and am in the process of creating Baxter print/ship-on-demand.  It's so very cool. When I told my mom, she said she needed a Baxter t-shirt.  As soon as I can get the shop set up completely, I'll post links. 

I have done so little creative writing since my master's degree and the children's books. However, there was an idea I was fleshing out during my coursework. I can't find those files, but I decided to piece together what I could and start a novel.  

Oh - and I quit teaching, went back into technical writing, and moved to Colorado. I'm currently sitting in my beautiful home with my dog, 2 cats, and fish while it is  -2 degrees outside with a windchill of -16. It's also snowing and will continue to do so for at least 12 hours. We'll see what we wake up to. 

Back to the novel. I joined a MeetUp group up here in Colorado that's part of the Shut Up and Write organization. We meet online, which is a hold-over from Covid, but it's great because I don't have to drive.  That ends up taking as much time as the writing part. I started the novel, attempted NaNoWriMo, and realized I'd been "pantsing it." I wrote myself into a very blank page, as it were.  I didn't know much about my characters, and I didn't know how I should go about plotting out the story. So, during one of my weekly online sessions, I started going back and doing the things I used to teach my students.  Now, my MeetUp friends want some of my worksheets and notes from the CW class I taught to middle schoolers. I hope I can find those files. 

I thought I saved all the things went I left teaching because I had so much good stuff, and I could/can put that out on Teachers Pay Teachers at some point. I'm still looking. 

I wrote a lot of articles for The Belly Dance Chronicles at one point, but I got out of that habit when life got crazy. There was a lot of crazy in life for a while. But words are my friends, and I'm still writing. 

TTFN as Tigger would say. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tales of illustrators

Now I'm an illustrator without formal art training. However, I've taught Photoshop and Illustrator in my distant past (plus dozens of other software programs across multiple platforms), so I'm ok with jumping into this new role.  I stumbled upon some Youtube videos by Aaron Blaise, a former Disney artist. He worked on Beauty and the Beast and (I think) Aladin. He's got some credibility!

Aaron's website is, and you can subscribe to a host of different art lessons or

 buy his custom Photoshop brushes. He also has a YouTube account, The Art of Aaron Blaise, 
where I found some of his free video posts. They are really terrific, and I've done some binge 

I've also subscribed to Adobe's Creative Cloud suite of products. There is a great price for 

students and teachers. Unfortunately, I've had a real glitch with their payment process, and 
they have been unable to understand and then unable to fix the error thus far. Since there is 
only the option to pay the monthly fees in order to use the product. I'm stuck. It's a very 
frustrating situation.  They've even got multiple subscription payments coming from my Paypal 
and my bank accounts, which I am unhappy about. They say they'll fix that error, but all 
payments ar stuck "in process." 

I'm stuck in process.

I bought a Wacom Intuos drawing pad, and I'm enjoying getting to "know" it better.  It came 
with some simple software, so I can get the feel of drawing on a tablet still while Adobe is 
struggling to provide me with the software. I took Aaron's advice and did a rough, rough sketch 
on paper of the pages for my books so that when I get on my computer, I'll have a plan in place.  
I've already discovered some problems with the initial sketches that need sorting through. It's 
almost like finding plot holes that you have to think through. 

I'm anticipating that once I really get deep in, I'll find my own process and the art will flow 

more naturally.  For now, I'm practicing drawing the characters, since they MUST look the 
same as the first book.  I can say this much - I'm a writer by nature and by heart. I can do the 
illustrations to finish this series, but it's not going to be a career change for me.