“Breaking In” – Slow Starter

Not easy breaking into the publishing world. Lots of advice out there. One piece of advice I hear and read over and over again is to BLOG – to refine your skills and build your platform. I get it. I do. But for this “Breaking In” series of posts, pretend I’m TALKING to you and not trying to practice my writing skills – K?

So, I attended the SCBWI national conference in L.A last year. I loved it! I came away inspired-motivated- excited…AND… discouraged – confused – hopeless. Now, how is that possible? Bipolar disorder? Perhaps.

I’ve never heard so much conflicting guidance before in my life! Not intentional I am sure, but contradictions all the same. For example…the trend in writing or illustrating is “x, y, z”… Pay attention to the trends. Heck, there was an entire session devoted to trends. BUT THEN in virtually the same breath we were told to “be yourself”, “share your unique voice and point of view.” OKAAY….I am trying that and its not working.

Another example for you- “just keep working at your craft, you WILL ‘make it’”- which meant, I guess, get picked up by an agent, publisher or get lots of contracts. While other newbies submit one manuscript or illustration, and BOOM, they “made it” …. WHAT??!! What was the magic formula? I want some of that!

Just kidding, I hope you know that (maybe) ;-)

As a single mom of three young children, working a full-time job that recently requires OT, keeping the house clean, doing laundry, chores, shopping and shuttling kids to activities and doctor appointments, I’m thinking it’s safe to say that I will be one of those slow-starters. No magic-potion-big-boom- POOF! SUPERSTAR! Just set the crock pot to low….that will have to be me for now.

So…reading, writing, illustrating and platform building when I can spare a few minutes, when I can’t sleep or when I’m waiting at the doctors office will be my story. Maybe by the time my crock pot is done cooking, the trends will have swung my way! The industry isn’t going anywhere…and neither am I.

Posted in Writing and Publishing | 2 Comments

Building A House of “Card”ations

cardsEver feel like your life is like a house of  “card”ations?  What’s a cardation?  A cardation is what I call an area of your life that you struggle to build and maintain, often with the illusion of indestruction and triumph – liken to the construction of a house of cards. 

A good way to think of a cardation is to use the metaphor of your own home. Similar to your own home that has various rooms (some more important, more enjoyed or more frequented than others), perhaps with interconnected levels, a foundation and a roof – a cardation can be thought of as any one of these components.  Put together, they form your home.  In the case of cardations, when put together, comprise your entire life.  Understood?

You may have many cardations in your life – be it your career, your marriage, your children, your ideals, your hopes and dreams, your lifestyle, your spirituality, your friendships, the list goes on.

While consructing your house of cards – or cardations - you strategize and devise tactics to “ensure” the stability of your house while painstakingly placing each card with the utmost care and consideration. Holding your breath, you slip the card into its designated cardation location, ever cognizant that the other cards in its vicinity will either allow the new entity without event, by embracing the presence and support the new entity brings or, worst of all, the new entity is rejected and the house you’ve worked so diligently to build and maintain is toppled to the ground.  As you place each card, you exhale a sigh of relief – and glee.  Your house is not only still standing, it has grown!  What you’ve forgotten, however, is that outside forces beyond your control are seemingly waiting in the wings, without your knowledge, and threaten to obliterate your house of cardations.

What are these forces?  Where do they come from?  Who sent them? Why?  Virtually anything goes – a co-worker (male or female), drugs or alcohol, a plummet in the stock market, unexpected life events such as a birth, death, divorce, or a competitor.  At times, it feels like these forces are “organic”.  They’re alive.  They have a brain and a nervous system.  They morph and change.  They run, skip and hide.  They breathe and eat.  Oh yes, they eat!  What do they eat?  They eat your cardations, that’s what.

“OMG! What should I do?  I’ve worked so hard to build my cardations!”  Well, first of all, don’t worry about it.  Don’t obsess.  This is the “stuff” of life.  After all, without your cardations and the forces that jeopardize them, what would life be?  Really. Some people collect, hoard and build their cardations without ceasing – higher and higher, larger and larger.  In their eyes, the more (and bigger) the cardations they can create - the better.  Some folk go through great pains to seek out all the “possible” forces that could threaten their cardation palaces and build “blockade” cardations that, in their minds, will block-out any unforseen force – guaranteeing an impenetrable barrier.  I’m sure some people spring to your mind – especially those in the entertainment and music industry.  They may even be your inspirations from which you form molds for your very own cardations.  Keep in mind, however, with great power comes great responsibility.  The one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.  I’m sure that those who have inspired you will hold this to be true.

Inevitably, one or more of your cardations may suffer damage or demolition throughout your life.  What can be done when this occurs?  Do what you would normally do when you’ve built a house of cards that has toppled.  Take some deep breaths.  Get over it. Start again.

Posted in Keeping Up With Your "Card"ations, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stone River Inspiration

Stone River

Andy Goldsworthy's Stone River

Ever heard of the artist/sculptor, Andy Goldwsorthy?  I hadn’t.  At least not until my ten-year old daughter studied his land art sculpture, “Stone River”, in her Art Talks club at Stafford Elementary School. (Gotta love the arts!)  Andy Goldsworthy, a british sculptor and environmentalist, is well known for developing “land art” typically set in an urban or natural setting.    The “Stone River” is a stacked wall of stones – 4-foot wide at its base rising to a triangular point at its peak - that undulates and flows through the surrounding landscape:  hence the name “Stone River”.  Along with eight professional dry-stone wallers, it took Goldsworthy three and a half weeks – 11 hours a day, six days a week. 

Well, for the Art Talks project, each student sculpted their own stone wall – taking one hour a week for four weeks.  Not bad right!?  Okay. Okay.  My daughter’s sculpted wall, made of clay, is not in an urban or environmental setting.  It’s on an 8″ X 11″ piece of cardboard.  STILL!  Really cool!  Although it doesn’t rise to a peak and perhaps conjures a variety of “less than inspirational” images in one’s mind, I’m still a proud momma!
 
What I thought was even more special is that she was so inspired, she decided to write a poem about her stone river.  Publishable?  Maybe.  It is certainly beyond the scope of most ten-year olds.
Drew's stone river replica

Drew's stone river

 
Stone River Poem
by Drew Lynch
Twisty.
Turning.
Yet so still.
Watch.
Wait.
To study its fluid motion
as if a ballet.
Let it sway its own way today.
It’s by a bay. 
My stone river is all of these things.
Yet still springs about certain things.
Posted in Art and Graphic Design | 1 Comment

“Creatology” Exhibition in Stafford VA – Fine Arts Festival

Creatology - the study of creativity; a discipline approaching the creativity’s processes, techniques and forms.  If scientists ever wanted a micro-environment for studying creativity, they certainly could have started at the Stafford county’s Fine Arts Festival today which featured student and teacher art and performances from over 30 schools and educational programs. I had the unexpected pleasure of attending this phenomenal event and was taken aback (in a good way) by the sheer breadth and depth of creativity borne from Stafford county.  I certainly wasn’t expecting to see more than 20 types of art – glass art, paper mache, sculpture, pen & ink, water-color, acrylic, collage, mixed media, oils, mosaic, weavings, resists, installation art, clay art – from a potpourri of subjects, styles, emphasis and perspectives.

From the moment I walked through the door I realized I was IN creativity when I spied (hard to miss) the large Installation art exhibit setup in front of the entrance – inspired by the works of contemporary artists Judy Pfaff and Katerina Grosse and executed by North Stafford High School art teacher, Nadine Flood, and her students- where attendees entered a large “plastic room” painted with abstract swirls of color and walked a swirling path of sticky note “reflections”.  Almost serene, the feeling I had, as I walked the path, read the reflections and  listened to the musical sounds of Tibetan singing bowls.  What a great idea!

The festival featured both visual as well as performance arts.  Performances by local school chorus’, instrumental and percussion ensembles provided attendees with a feeling of excitement and even patriotism.  One school in particular, Stafford Elementary, honored the U.S Armed Forces with a medley of songs from each branch of service such as “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” (Army), “Anchors Aweigh” (Navy), “Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder” (Air Force) and “From the Halls of Montezuma” (Marines).

One of the greatest pieces, I felt, was in a location not visited by many I suspect.  At the end of a long hall , on the wall, a puzzle measuring at least 24-feet long – each small piece created by a Falmouth student – representing the truth that as individuals we may be different but when together, we’re whole.

As my day was coming to an end at the Festival I met a well-known local artisan, Cathy Herndon, who gave me the scoop on the art scene here in the Fredericksburg area.  As I furiously scribbled down all she had to say about the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts (FCCAVA) , “First Fridays”, “The Art First Gallery“, the  “Then and Now” invitational exhibit, and upcoming classes, I inwardly cheered, “YES, finally!”  For I had searched for connections into the local art community but had no real luck up until today.  Cathy’s works are actually on show now at the The Art First Gallery – along with co-artisan Johnny P. Johnson – whose show features a “water” theme.

Posted in Art and Graphic Design | Leave a comment

Museum Visits as of Late – The National Portrait Gallery

I’m not sure how many of you like visiting museums – there are so many types.  I, personally, tend to lean towards the arts.  With three kids, a husband and a full-time job life is hectic.  I’ll bet if you look up “hectic” in the dictionary you’ll see a picture of me holding three kids, sobbing (me – not the kids) and the definition will say “Kim’s life“.  I digress. Anywhooo…

I try to visit museums as much as I can.  Unfortunately, traveling beyond 60 miles to make a visit is out of the question right now.  However, I did have the surprising pleasure  not too long ago to visit the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. with my ten-year old and her classmates.  I have to say, I was extremely impressed.  Initially I thought it was going to be quite boring.  I mean, who wants to walk around looking at a bunch of faces in fancy frames.  I will say, though – sometimes the frames were more impressive than the faces in them.  I’m just sayin’….

I was truly blown away from the moment I saw the first portrait – presidential hopeful, Barack Obama.  You may recall during the campaign seeing an image of Obama in red, white and blue with the words HOPE written below his face.  Words can’t express the “awe” I felt.  Honestly, I wasn’t awe-struck because of WHO I was seeing – it was WHAT I was seeing that filled me.  Unless you’ve seen the original portrait up close, you wouldn’t have ever known that the portrait is really a collage and is nearly eight feet tall (or somewhere around there).  It was on exhibit for a limited time and I feel quite lucky that I had the opportunity to see it up close.

presidential hopeful - Barack Obama

Around every corner – new, profound discoveries.  I’m not exaggerating.  For example, there is a facial cast of Abraham Lincoln early in his presidency beside a second facial cast created right before or after he died (I can’t recall).  The differences are amazing.  You can see how the presidency and the war took its toll - it was exacted upon his face. I stood there studying his face long after the tour moved on.  Remarkable. There are casts of his hands as well.

Casts of Abraham Lincoln

The tour and tour guide were excellent.  You could see and feel the passion and reverence of the tour guide for the museum and its works.  We didn’t just “talk” about what we were seeing.  We analyzed the works – studied the style, the feelings they conveyed, the positioning of the subject - even the choice of color, medium, size, brush stroke.  All  told a story and left you with an understanding of the artist and his or her intent when creating the piece.

I could go on and on, but I won’t.  Check it out for yourself – visit the museum.  Even the interior and exterior architecture are inspiring.  Or, take a look at the simple presentation I created of some snapshots taken during the tour.  Apologies in advance for the poor quality.  I took the images with my Blackberry (shrinking in shame).

National Portrait Gallery Snapshot

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Need a Website for Your Church? Start Here.

Greetings community!  I’ve talked to a number of people, visited many a church website and built several church sites myself.  Some sites are phenomenal (applaud) while others are…well…let’s not go there (They suck!).  For those of you who belong to a church whose site gets a lot of traffic, is well designed, easy to navigate and gets your attention, you are one of the lucky few that obviously has a site that “works” – for you, the community and the church function itself.  As for the rest of you, let’s talk.

Over the next several weeks and months I will be publishing a series of posts on the topic “Building an Effective Church Website“.  To get you salivating, here are some of the areas of discussion:

  • Common themes and features
  • Sure fire ways for your site to fail
  • Pulling together your website committee, team or ministry
  • Planning your site – site requirements and schedule (I’m not talking “design” here)
  • Domain names, URLs and hosting services
  • What’s all this going to cost?
  • Marketing and communications
  • Designing
  • Developing
  • Implementation
  • Maintenance
  • ..and more

I’ll also offer some tools, samples and resources to get you started.  You can expect the first post to appear on the site in about two weeks.  For now, why don’t you subscribe to Nimbooz (and tell others), so that when the series begins you’ll be ready to submit your comments or ask questions.  If you have any questions or comments that you would like addressed ahead of time or incorporated into the series, go ahead and post them now.  I’m sure others will have similar thoughts.  Why not share?

Posted in Creating an Effective Church Website | Leave a comment

Still Alive!

You know…I hate cooking.  No.  Seriously.  I HATE COOKING!  What’s amazing is that my kids are still alive.  Heck, the 15 month old is overweight.  Well, now that I think about it, he doesn’t eat any of my cooking.  He has his bottle of milk, his cereal and his baby food (yes, still on jar food).  This quite possibly would explain why he isn’t malnourished.

What’s strange is that just about everyone in my family – my mom, my aunts, my SISTER, even my husband – can cook pretty well.  What happened to me?  Where did I go wrong? I know.  God shouldn’t have allowed me to have children. (Just kidding)

For someone who doesn’t like to cook, my kids do eat everyday.  I’ll admit.  Occasionally, I’ll get them something from “Ole McDonald”.  That’s what the three-year old calls it. But, for the most part they eat home cooked meals.  MY home cooked meals.  For some reason, they seem to enjoy it – go figure!  How much spaghetti, meatloaf, hamburger helper and grilled chicken can a family eat in one week?  Thankfully, my husband works his kitchen mega-magic so the family gets a break from the norm a few times a week.  My sister comes to visit every so often and whips us up something spectacular – of course.  I would feel really sorry for my kids if I didn’t have my family pitching in.

Well, we’re eating at least three meals a day (not including the snacks – that’s another topic).  We’re healthy.  We may not be eating a bountiful variety of meals and dishes, but we’re doing okay.  We’re still alive!

Posted in I HATE COOKING! | 2 Comments

Hello world! I’m BLOGGING! Maybe now I can get some sleep.

Can you believe it? Me? A “blogger”?!  Who would have thunk it?  Not me. That’s for sure.  I would classify myself as one of the most unsocial people I know.  I don’t call or email friends and family unless they contact me first and leave a message.  In which case, I MAY get back to them within the week – or month.  BAAAD!  I know.  Especially bad in the blogging community, right?

I blame it on my childhood. 

That excuse isn’t going to fly is it?  Oh well, it was worth a try.

“Well all that’s fittin’ to change!”, exclaimed the newly social un-socialite.  I’ve always considered myself a Jack – excuse me – a “Jackie” of all trades, master of none.  I somehow have accumulated a plethora of knowledge, tidbits, questions, answers, anecdotes and experiences on a variety of topics.  “So get ready, ’cause here I come.”  I’m blogging now and I have a lot to say.  Maybe this will be a good thing!  I will hopefully be able to finally get some sleep now that I will be dumping what’s in my brain out on the proverbial virtual table for all to see.  I won’t have to store it anymore.  It will be right here and will carry on in others.  So, I guess I have you – you bloggers – to thank for helping me get some rest.  Ah.  Maybe now I can get some sleep.  See, I’m dozing alr - zzzzzzzz.

Posted in What's Happening Now? | 1 Comment