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. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Changes - as the wind blows...

The winds of change often blow you away (see what I did there), creating high strung emotions until you sort out the details.  As it happens, my second illustrator quit just weeks before the production date for publication... sounds oh so familiar.  But this time, I'm so ok with the situation.

I was concerned when the illustrator sent me the first drafts of what he thought Baxter should look like.  I said so many times that Baxter needs to look just like Baxter from the first book. He sent me a second version - closer, still no cigar.

The date for publication came closer and closer, and I hadn't seen all of the illustrations. When he sent them to me, I was disappointed. When I looked closer at each illustration along side the text it was supposed to illustrate, I was dumbfounded at how off the pictures were from the text.  In case I was falling into snotty author mode (I second guess myself all the time), I showed the pictures to my writing group and to my writing students. I also showed it to the language arts administrator in my school district, who has a very young child and is an expert in child literacy.  Consistently, the verdict was that these pictures were not consistent with the branding already created in book 1 or up to professional publication standards.

So next step - I WILL ILLUSTRATE the next two books! I'm very excited about it because I can do the work I need to do since we have an existing set of characters and a set artistic style.  In my past, I've done graphic manipulation work and taught Adobe software products. So now, I'm delighted that I will be able to create amazing books that are just what I want them to be.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

On scripts and children's books...

I've discovered a critical disconnect that has caused resistance on my part. I can't seem to get myself back into my original full-length script.  The reason is that my  original concept, poem, and the MFA course requirements for movie trailers and posters do not match with the current version of the script. The original ideas were more sci-fi, but the reality is all action/spies/intrigue. The technology ideas I started with only become the catalyst for my conflict, but not the driving theme.  A-ha!

Back to the drawing board - and that's a good thing.

The short I wrote with Brandon is now headed for contests. The funding isn't available to get it produced with the director we talked with. That's ok becuase we both like the original script in original form rather than the cut version the director wanted.  It's all good--either way is good. I like that we continue to move forward with it rather than let it sit and get stale.

My illustrator is reworking his illustrations to really fine-tune the tone from the first book, so we are moving forward there as well.

One of the challenges writers face is the speed bump or the stop sign in a project's life. We have to be flexible and adjust - a lot. The challenges each of these writing projects have brought me have been good for me.  At least I can say that I've met them each with an open mind and willingness to do what it takes to get them to production.