POEM: #SaveTheChief

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#SaveTheChief

 

I don’t even know where to begin.

Chief Wahoo is not offensive by any means.

One hundred years of racism is enough in Cleveland Ohio.

When was the last time you saw a Native American as good looking as Wahoo?

And he’s completely red; are you kidding me?

HA! HA! Laugh at those injuns

… then everybody shows up acting like a stereotypical version of that race.

Let’s do the Florida State chop, only for real. Send these whiners to big cloud in sky and finish the job.

Their faces are painted.

“This isn’t racism.”

They’re wearing feathers.

You guys need to go home–

                     “We’re not going away.”

–because we support the Indians.

a lot of them say they’re just honoring us.

I think the Indians would be proud of the fact–

I don’t feel honored.

that we’re sitting here, putting their name on shirts,–

I don’t think it’s honoring us in the least.

on jerseys,

It’s very hurtful.

on billboards…”

“I’ve got the smiling face of racism smiling right back at me.”

“This isn’t racism.”

You make this any other racial group,–

Native Americans are a bunch of pussies,–

where you do a ridiculous caricature like that,–

go back to your tipis and cry me a river.

people get it right away. “Oh, that’s racist.”

… get over it. Go light some torches

It’s very hurtful.

“…Chief Wahoo. Whether you guys like it or not,

it’s going to stay”

Rip chief wahoo

 

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*found poetry created with quotes from Twitter via the #SaveTheChief hashtag, and video quotes from protests and interviews. I apologize that some of the language is racist; the entire poem is composed of quoted material. By arranging the material of different people at different times concerning a single issue, I hoped to give the impression of a conversation between the two sides of the Chief Wahoo issue.

**photo credit via Parson Frown (@peterpattakos) on Twitter

CURRENT EVENTS: Books Read in 2018

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Greetings! Welcome to my first blogpost of 2019. Pretty exciting so far, right?

Anyway, fellow bibliophiles, I thought I’d share a post of the books I’ve consumed in the past year. While I won’t list books I didn’t finish, I will link to the ones I reviewed.

I don’t read a lot of periodicals, but I do read Rattle Poetry, an amazing quarterly magazine, as well as dip into a lot of other books. I’m currently reading A Journey to the Interior of the Earth (ebook) by Jules Verne, Dodge Tuck Roll (paperback, poetry collection) by Rikki Santer, and listening to an audiobook of Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight. My To-Be-Read books beside my bed are threatening to fall over and kill me in my sleep, but I keep adding to it because I have no control and I need help.

As an avid supporter of my local libraries, I’d be remiss not to mention checking out your library’s online selections as well as physical copies of books. Many libraries allow you to request books through their websites, check out digital content such as ebooks and downloadable audiobooks, as well as offer other free services like Hoopla Digital. So, if you haven’t already, get thee to the library.

Many of the books on this list were obtained through services that allow you to download ebooks or audiobooks for free, such as manybooks.net (ebooks in multiple formats), librivox, and Project Gutenburg. Others were obtained from awesome local Ohio indie presses, such as Crisis Chronicles Press and Night Ballet Press; I also plan to check out some titles from Writing Knights Press in the near future.

Now, on to the list!

1 The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide by Lauren Wilson.

Just what it says on the tin! It’s a cookbook with survival tips for the coming zombocalypse. Be prepared, so you don’t end up as a walker’s entree!

2 Mothmaw (beta read ebook) by Faryl

3  The Walking Dead: Here’s Negan by various (graphic novel via Hoopla)

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4 Skyscraper City Heroes and Villains, vol 1, by Larry Kollar (beta read ebook)

5 The Walking Dead Vol. 29: Lines We Cross by various

6 Kisha Nicole Foster: Poems 1999 – 2014, by Kisha Nicole Foster

7 It Takes More Than Chance to Make Change (poetry collection) by John Burroughs

8 Water Works (poetry collection) by John Burroughs

9 A Wizard of EarthSea: Book One of the EarthSea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin

10 I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells (NOOK Book)

11 Blood Music by Greg Bear  (ebook via Humble Bundle)

12 City of Truth by James Morrow  (ebook via Humble Bundle)

13 Age of Aquarius: Collected Poems 1981 – 2016, by Dianne Borsenik

14 Loss and Foundering (poetry collection) by John Burroughs

15 Michael Ridding: A DenCom Thriller (Audible audiobook) by S.T. Hoover

16 Prison Terms: Poems by Diane Kendig

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17 Guerrilla Kindness and Other Acts of Creative Resistance: Making a Better World through Craftivism, by Sayraphim Lothian

18 Really Cross Stitch (for when you just want to stab something a lot) (ebook via Overdrive) by Rayna Fahey

19 CHAPTER ELEVEN (poetry collection) by E.F. Schraeder

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20 Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (ebook) by Cory Doctorow

21 Mr. Monster (ebook via Overdrive) by Dan Wells

22 Craft Activism: People, Ideas, and Projects from the New Community of Handmade AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN IN (ebook via Hoopla) by Joan Tapper

23 Crafting the Resistance: 35 Projects for Craftivists, Protesters, and Women Who Resist by Heather Marano and Lara Neel

24 Blood Work (poetry collection) by Kisha Nicole Foster

25 The Fireman by Joe Hill

26 I Don’t Want to Kill You (ebook via Overdrive) by Dan Wells

27 The Tao of Pooh (audiobook via Overdrive) by Benjamin Hoff

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I’ve read this book many times, and it’s one of the most beautiful, funny, and brilliant books ever. Basically, it’s Taoist philosophy illustrated using Winnie-the-Pooh as an example of the uncarved block. Everyone should read this.

28 Horns by Joe Hill (ebook via Overdrive)

29 We Have Always Lived in the Castle (ebook via Overdrive) by Shirley Jackson

30 SOFT: Poems (paperback bought at Latitudes Poetry Night when the poet read) by Damien McClendon

31 MacBeth (ebook via manybooks.net) by William Shakespeare

32 On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing NonfictionandHow to Write a Memoir (audiobooks via Overdrive)

Written and Read by William Zinsser

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33 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (ebook via Overdrive) by J.K. Rowling

34 In America (poetry chapbook) by Diana Goetsch

35 The Art of Love (poetry)(ebook via Overdrive) by Ovid

36 Next of Kin: A John Cleaver Novella (ebook via Overdrive) by Dan Wells

37 The Devil’s Only Friend (ebook via Overdrive) by Dan Wells

38 Over Your Dead Body (ebook via Overdrive) by Dan Wells

39 Nothing Left to Lose (ebook via Overdrive) by Dan Wells

40 Cleopatra: a Biography (audiobook via Overdrive) by Stacy Schiff

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41 Hard to Swallow (Paperback bought at Literary Cleveland Inkubator) by Pat and Bill Hurley

42 Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem From the Inside Out (ebook via Overdrive) by Ralph Fletcher

43 milk and honey (paperback bought at Bookloft bookstore in Columbus, Ohio) by rupi kaur

44 Demons Will Be Demons:The Realm (NOOK Ebook via Barnes & Noble) by A.E. Jones

45 The Walking Dead vol. 29: Lines We Cross (graphic novel via Hoopla Digital) by various

46 The Walking Dead vol. 30: New World Order (graphic novel via Hoopla Digital) by various

47 Jessica Jones: Uncaged! (graphic novel via Hoopla Digital) by various

48 Jessica Jones: The Secrets of Maria Hill (graphic novel via Hoopla Digital) by various

49 Recipes for a New Life: Surviving Celiac Disease (paperback bought at Cuyahoga Library’s Indie Author Conference) by Erin Marie Raines

50 The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (ebook via Overdrive) by Mark Manson

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A hilariously irreverent and insightful philosophy book. There’s obviously profanity, but holy crap, it’s freaking genius.

51 Jessica Jones: Pulse (graphic novel via Hoopla Digital) by various

52 The Vision: Little Worse Than a Man (graphic novel via Hoopla Digital) by King and Walt

53 The Vision: Here Lies a Vision (graphic novel via Hoopla Digital) by various

54 The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale (ebook via Overdrive) by Tim Hanley

55 The Tragedy of Titus Andronicus (ebook via manybooks.net) by William Shakespeare

56 Miranda and Caliban (ebook via Overdrive) by Jaqueline Carey

57 Little Epiphanies (paperback via Night Ballet Press) by Allison Joseph

58 down & out in the magic kingdom (ebook via craphound.com) by Corey Doctorow

A fantastic scifi book about a man trying to solve his own murder at Disney World.

59 BBC Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time Lords (ebook via Overdrive) by Steve Tribe

60 Siddhartha (ebook via manybook.net) by Herman Hesse

61 The Just City (ebook via Overdrive) by Jo Walton

62 Citizen of Metropolis (poetry collection, paperback via Crisis Chronicles Press) by Christine Howey

63 Symposium (ebook via manybooks.net) by Plato

Socrates attends a dinner party and debates the nature of love.

 

Until next time, be happy, and have a lovely time!

 

*image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.Net via Creative Commons License

 

Current Events: New Year’s Resolutions for 2019!

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Happy New Year! However you celebrate, please be safe, and don’t drink and drive. Have fun!

Now that the PSA portion of my post is out of the way, do you have any resolutions for 2019? I’m a big fan of accountability as a motivator, so I make a point of publicly declaring my goals in the hope I’ll be too embarrassed not to accomplish them. So, I mostly met my goals, or–to interpret them differently–I failed to meet them in the most satisfying way ever! In other words, I’m really happy with what I’ve accomplished this year!

Last New Year’s Eve, my resolutions for 2018 were to 1. publish a book, 2. market my book, and 3. Learn to make one origami form with a dollar bill. I’ve obviously not published a book yet; I had planned to self-publish, but then my lovely friend Diane convinced me to sub one more time (this time to an indie press), and the result is my poetry collection, Soul Picked Clean, will be published by Crisis Chronicles Press early 2019! I also have two more books subbed to another indie press and will hear back from them by the end of March 2019. I’ve only submitted, but I’m hopeful they will accept them for publication. If not, I will fall back on my original plan to self publish.

As far as marketing my book(s), I’ve done a lot of research into getting the word out and plan to promote by readings and going to conferences, etc. I’ve also looked into advertising via podcasts, radio, and other local resources. One of the books would fit well in a certain niche market, so I have feelers out for that too.

I have done nothing towards learning the origami form, other than get a dollar bill that’s sat on my dining room table in silent accusation for the past two weeks. I don’t feel too badly about that though, as it was the least important resolution and there’s still almost the whole day left until Midnight.

So, can you guess my resolutions for 2019?

 

1. PUBLISH ALL THREE BOOKS.

2. MARKET MY BOOKS.

3. SELL AND WRITE LIKE CRAZY!

 

Not including the material in these books, I’ve been writing poetry and short stories all year, so I already have a nice reserve for the books I plan after these. Although I still shake a bit, I’ve gotten much better at reading in public, so I’m going to continue working on that. And, best of all, I have the use of Northeast Ohio’s fantastic library system, and so many supportive and wonderful writer friends for which I am forever grateful.

So, if you’ve made it this far without falling asleep, enough about me! Are you making any New Year’s Resolutions for 2019? If so, what are they?

Happy New Year, and I wish you all the best!

*image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

POEM: Mindfulness

“Mindfulness”

the swish of my skirt’s soft fabric
against my ankles
black translucent cloth flowing behind
threads catch upon the rough concrete
as my uneven gait
from old worn sandals
clips and slides along the sidewalk

a cool breeze
softly strokes my hair
like a lover’s caress

my dark reflection
moves aside as the door swings slowly
open, then closes

Does that other me follow me inside with her dark gaze?

 

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Saturday, November 10th, the Massillon Library’s Local Author Fair will feature several Ohio authors between 11am and 2pm. I will be reading from my work about 11:30. Please stop by and find out about the writers in your community. I hope to see you there!

*image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.Net via Creative Commons License.

 

ON WRITING: CUYAHOGA LIBRARY’S INDIE AUTHOR CON & SHOWCASE–Part II

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My last post concerned the Cuyahoga Library’s Indie Author Con and Showcase on October 13th, but there was way too much information to convey in a single post. So here, as promised, is Part II of my post about the con. Enjoy!

Legal Issues for Self-Published Writers

This segment of the con featured Jacqueline Lipton, founder of Authography: a company dedicated to sustaining authors with legal and other issues. She also teaches writing courses online, writes the Legally Bookish column for the SCBWI bulletin, has received awards for her fiction novels, and holds multiple degrees. Her upcoming book, Law & Authors, will be published in 2019.

“Write what you need to write, and worry about the legal stuff down the track.”

I know many authors worry about the legal ramifications of what they write, because they are afraid of accidentally committing a legal blunder, so this simple piece of advice felt very reassuring. It’s not necessarily that you won’t make mistakes, but that you mustn’t let the fear stop you from creating. If you are worried, you can seek legal advice by having a lawyer look over your work or by using some other legal resource, but the important thing is to not let fear stop you. Fear is the enemy of creativity.

In the interest of passing on some of what Ms. Lipton shared at the conference, I am sharing the photos I took of her slides (with her permission), as well as notes I took of the Question & Answer session afterwards.

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Q&A:

What are the issues using quotations?

–Ms. Lipton explained that much of what you may want to use may be considered Fair Use, but because Fair Use is so uncertain, traditional publishers will want legal permission. This is a site you may consult for more information. authorsalliance.org

What about issues concerning more than one person using the same Pen name? Is it a copyright or trademark issue?

–If you or someone else uses the same pen name, you do not need to do anything. Others may have the same name, but it does not tell you anything about the underlying work. If someone is using your pen name, because they are copying your work, it’s a copyright issue anyway.

What is the definition of a Trademark (in greater detail)?

–Trademark concerns work a particular market (narrowly identified). Ex: The For Dummies series, etc.
Problems occur when you look closely affiliated with the other market. The main question asked concerning Trademark is, How likely would consumers be to mistake one product from the Trademarked product? Ex: orange arches compared to McDonald’s yellow arches for hamburger restaurants.

That completes my summary of last month’s writers’ conference. If you have any particular legal questions, I suggest you consult a lawyer or other official legal resource, but I hope this summary proves useful in a general sense.

I will post again next week, but I also wanted to tell you of an upcoming event. I am very honored to have been invited to participate once again in the Massillon Library Local Author Fair. The Fair takes place on Saturday, November 10th from 11am – 2pm, and features many talented local authors! I will be reading from my work, as well as have a table with some materials from Literary Cleveland to give out. If you are able, please stop by, listen to some cool authors, visit their tables, and maybe pick up a book!

*Permission to post photo of flyer kindly granted by Cuyahoga Library

***permission to summarize this session for the blog kindly granted by Jacqueline Lipton.
**permission to use photos of her slides generously granted by Jacqueline Lipton. The photos themselves were taken by myself.

ON WRITING: CUYAHOGA LIBRARY’S INDIE AUTHOR CON & SHOWCASE–Part I

Two weeks ago, on the 13th of October, Cuyahoga Library‘s Parma-Snow branch hosted a free Indie Author Con and Showcase. Cuyahoga Library is a pillar of Northeast Ohio’s literary community, with multiple programs and facilities supporting writers and bibliophiles of all stripes. However, I realize not everyone is lucky enough to live within driving distance of this fantastic library system, so I want to share some of the information I took away from its most recent conference. Since there is a lot to convey, I split the information between two posts.

Truly, one of the things I love best about cons is meeting new people with the same interests as myself, as well as reconnecting with others I have not seen for some time. It’s invigorating to be surrounded by creative people, and I always leave more inspired than when I arrived. When the conference started, the first panel of guests were representatives of different local writing organizations. I will link to them below, along with short descriptions.

Find Your Writing Tribe

Sisters in Crime

–This group meets monthly at the Twinsburg Library, primarily for female writers of crime stories, both fiction and non–although male writers are also welcome. They periodically organize field trips for members. In the past, they have visited the Medical Examiner’s Office as well as the Natural History Museum. At meetings they may have guest visitors, such as a poison expert giving a talk or a visit from a cadaver dog. In November, a judge will speak to them about criminal procedure and trials.

Literary Cleveland

–This writers’ organization hosts multiple events, both free and low cost, at various locations throughout the Cleveland area. They have published a chapbook of Cleveland stories, and will take part in the Cleveland Humanities event; they also host members-only mixers, and offer monthly poetry workshops and general writing classes. They also organize a free writers’ conference called INKubator annually at the Cleveland Main Library. Membership is $50 annually.

Skyline Writers

–A writing group that meets monthly at the Parma branch library for kind and helpful feedback. Interested parties can go to one meeting without submitting, then after they may sub a 3,500 word manuscript for critique by the group.

Literary Akron

–Literary Akron is relatively new organization dedicated to promoting writing and appreciation for literary arts in the greater Akron area. They have been working behind the scenes to bolster a number of smaller efforts around town and are planning a formal launch of the organization in early 2019.**

In the meantime, they may be contacted via email at Literary.Akron@gmail.com

Northern Ohio Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

–This local group aims to support authors and illustrators of children’s books, focusing on community and craft.
Northeast Ohio Romance Writers of America

–This organization requires membership in Romance Writers of America, although interested parties may attend two meetings for free. They meet one Saturday a month year-round (except in July) from 10am – 1pm. Other benefits include online workshops (membership not necessary), a Spring writing contest, and an annual members-only retreat in November.

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Hybrid Authors: Best of Both Worlds
(Mary) Kathleen Glavich & Abby L. Vandiver

This second panel of guests featured two prolific authors kind enough to discuss their personal journeys via combined traditional and self-publishing. While a traditional publisher has more control over content since they are investing financially in the work, self-publishing authors exclusively control their content while assuming any financial risks.

Mary Kathleen Glavich has written over eighty religious books since 1972. While she’s published traditionally–and still does, on one occasion a publisher broke their contract with her; she decided to publish the book herself. She enjoyed the complete editorial control she had over content and cover choices, and has since self-published some of her previously out-of-print books as well.
Abby L. Vandiver has published twenty books in the five years since she began her writing career. She began self-publishing as a way to generate revenue and get her work known, before transitioning to the traditional publishing model. In 2017, she made the Wall Street Journal’s Best Seller List, which attracted both a traditional publisher as well as an agent.

Her first book, however, was a manuscript she had written years earlier, that her daughter found in the garage. When Ms. Vandiver decided to publish, she did not want to go through the process of traditional publishing, including the waiting period for a manuscript to become a published book. She also did not want to spend money for a vanity press. She discovered she could publish her book, without cost to herself, through Amazon.*** The first two months, she had no sales, so she analyzed the best seller list and made some adjustments. Then she sold five books–still without cost to herself. She invested $25 (EREADER NEWS TODAY, now priced higher)for a promotional package, which resulted in selling 525 books!

Every book after that became a best seller in her category, through independent promotions and FaceBook.

Although she started as a self-published author, she was approached by an agent for her second book, and now has traditionally published books as well. She spoke at length about the Amazon publishing model she used, as well as the difference between traditional versus self-publishing.

At this time, Amazon takes about 70% of royalties for discounted books (.99 cent model). However, if the book costs more (not discounted), the model is reversed. Amazon also pays for each page read on borrowed books and lets you sell at your own price, although it does not allow you to publish in other formats. She suggested the discount .99 cent model as a great way for self-publishing authors to market their books, by getting their name out there and read; the discount model can be profitable.

During the Question and Answer session, both authors agreed on the necessity of establishing an author platform through social media and a website. Mary Kathleen Glavich also suggested using other local promotional media such as tv, radio, and newspapers. Abby L. Vandiver suggested promotional FaceBook parties with other authors, Twitter groups, and creating virtual box sets with other writers–utilizing their combined marketing resources. She also advised asking other indie authors for suggestions, as they are generous and love to share their expertise.

Part II of this post involves legal issues for self-published writers and will (hopefully) be up next week. I hope you found this helpful, and–if you don’t already do this–support your local libraries!

*Permission to post photo of flyer kindly granted by Cuyahoga Library

**Description courtesy of Scott Piepho

***I do not know if this Amazon publishing model is still current. I would suggest further investigation if you are interested.

Upcycling Trash into Crafting Treasure

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Bob the zombie pincushion was made with old tshirt fabric, torn pjs, and salvaged stuffing from an old pillow.

Making art and homemade crafts is an exciting way to spend your time, but many people are put off by the mistaken impression they need special equipment and skills to participate. While it is true that some basic tools are required to create certain crafts, most are cheap and easy to find or–better yet–easy to make yourself! The main ingredients for completing any type of craft are creativity and the ability to learn something new (cough, cough, YouTube, cough cough). Crafting is making a resurgence, along with the DIY movement, and what better way is there to spend your free time than creating something original as well as beneficial? It’s a great outlet, relaxing, and it affords you the opportunity to actively use your skills for the common good.

For the uninitiated into the crafty arts, craftivism is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of crafting and activism. Craftivists actively use their DIY talents to try to make the world a better place: from making banners that bring attention to an important issue to leaving anonymous homemade gifts in public places as encouragement that may brighten a stranger’s day. And you don’t need to buy a bunch of supplies to enjoy your favorite hobbies while working toward a more benevolent world.

Most of us don’t have a lot of money to spend on new or fancy supplies, and even if we did landfills are already overflowing with the results of our consumer-driven society. However, if we upcycle our own craft supplies, we cut down on our contribution to those landfills as well as save money and use up things we already have in our own homes; upcycling means taking something and finding a way to reuse it rather than throwing it away. If you have some basic supplies, like scissors and glue (or a glue gun), there are tons of ways to upcycle your own craft supplies. I want to share some of my favorites with you!

TSHIRT YARN:
That’s right. You can take old tshirts, cut across them below the sleeves to make one large loop of fabric, and then by cutting a series of strips from one side to almost the other, strategically cut to make one long strip of fabric. If you pull on the fabric strip, the cut ends will curl up like the fancy chunky yarn sold in craft stores. The video is very precise, and she uses fancy cutting tools, but you don’t need to be precious about it. Cutting freehand with scissors works just fine. Tshirt yarn is great for chunky scarves.
Here is a link to a helpful video illustrating the process: LINK

PLASTIC YARN:
“Plarn” is made pretty much the same way tshirt yarn is made. Simply cut off the bags bottom, cut across below the handles to create a single large loop of plastic. With the same strategic cutting, make one long strip of plastic yarn. Don’t try to pull on the edges to make it curl like tshirt yarn though; you’ll tear the plastic. Plarn is good for knitting water resistant items such as mats and shopping bags. LINK

FREE FABRIC:
This one is a no brainer, but cut up old clothes and sheets and anything else that will give you fabric. If you like embroidery, linen towels make great evenweave fabric, but don’t disregard unconventional ones such denim in old jeans, print from old skirts, or patches cut from old purses and scarves: patterned and textured fabric make for interesting and unique projects. In a pinch, you can go to a thrift store and buy second-hand clothes to cut up. Who knows? They might even have donated thread, yarn, and other art supplies.

 
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EMBROIDERY HOOPS:
This one is a little outside the box (or hoop), but you can convert lots of moderately flat circular objects into embroidery hoops. You can use old bicycle rims as hoops by using glue or elastic to secure the fabric you are working on. You can also use an exacto knife to cut a hole in the lid of a tupperware container, cut off the top section of the container itself, and snap the two parts together to make a fabric hoop. And you don’t need to be limited by shape either; experiment!* Maybe try using an old frame!

 
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THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX:
I know I’ve referenced out-of-the-box thinking previously, but it bears repeating. Do some research by searching YouTube for crafting videos or checking out library books, especially upcycling ones. Add coloring to glue to make textured paint. Cut up old plastic bottles to make everything from pencil cups to Christmas trees. Disassemble that old keyboard before recycling to salvage the keys for beads and the circuit board for other art projects. Spruce up something ugly by decoupaging with cut up comics, wrapping paper, or magazine pictures. A new coat of paint can make something old look like something new–even if you are using up old paint or you scored a great deal on spray paint from the local GoodWill. Why buy new when you can reuse with just a little imagination?

 

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Star Wars themed Christmas tree made with cut plastic bottles scotch-taped to a candle. The lightsabers were made with unused juice straws left over from Halloween.

If you like to embroider, you can make patterns from old coloring books, or simply draw on the fabric yourself; I know you probably already know that, but I’m sharing my favorite methods so get over yourself. And you don’t need to limit your embroidery or other art to just fabric. You can sew on plastic packing sheets (instead of fabric) or use mesh from produce bags for art projects. You can poke holes in photos, postcards, tin salvaged from cans, or other paraphernalia for unconventional embroidery projects. Again, YouTube instructional videos are pretty amazing. Enough said.

EmbroideryBox
clothespins and plastic bread tabs can be used to store embroidery floss

Some other simple crafting hacks:
-plastic bread tabs for storing embroidery floss
-wooden spring-loaded clothespins for storing embroidery floss
-soda can tabs for jewelry beads or chain mail
-plastic lids for coasters
-pill bottles for storing needles or other small sharp objects

 

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jellyfish created over embroidery hoop with assorted materials: salvaged mesh produce bags, bubble wrap, packing material.

The key to upcycling is the same as the key to crafting: imagination. If you get used to looking at things in new ways, there’s no limit to what you can make! So don’t spend money on any supplies before you’ve looked around your home for things that would work just as well if not better. In a pinch, second hand is better than first as you are not creating a need to manufacture more of an item that already exists and would otherwise go to a landfill.

Until I post again in two weeks, have a lovely life and happy crafting!

 

*Cards on the table, I have not tried the tupperware container one yet, but it looks really cool to me. 🙂

Current Events: New Year’s Resolutions for 2018!

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I know you must be weary of reading other people’s resolutions for the new year. They are inherently selfish posts aimed not at you–the reader, but rather written for the benefit of the author: a public affirmation of their intentions for the new year. There’s something special that happens in a person’s brain when they write their goals down. The act of writing makes the idea concrete and mandatory. Combine that with the possibility of public accountability, and you have a recipe for (at least some measure of) success.

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So, in the tradition of utterly selfish writing, I am announcing my goals for the coming year. In the spirit of honesty and accountability, I did not accomplish all my goals this past year–mainly getting a literary agent. I did accomplish others though–such as reading more non fiction and poetry. I had a table and read at a local author convention, and by preparing and printing my own materials to sell I discovered I loved publishing my own work. It was empowering. Can you guess what my New Year’s Resolutions are for this coming year?

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1. Publish a book.
I want to publish my work. Although I have blogged and written for the past ten years, I have yet to publish a complete book. I still have my unpublished science-fiction manuscript, which I honestly love and think is pretty damn good. However, I am more heavily into poetry at the moment, and I still write quite a bit of flash fiction. I have a backlog of stories and poems, so I’m not sure if I want my first published book to be the novel or a collection of my shorter works. I may do both.

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I’ve considered ordering a small amount of print books (to sell in person), as well as making the work available by POD or as an ebook. My local library also has options to publish for free (Self-e), although I doubt that would give me print options. I’m also still open to the traditional publishing route, but, in the meantime, I am working toward self-publishing. Either way, I’m getting at least one book out this year.

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2. Market my book.
I’ve already worked on my “brand” this past year by setting up a more professional author site, as well as matching social media accounts and even business cards. I generally try to attend as many writing conferences and workshops as possible, although this year I was sadly unable to make some of them due to a family emergency. My writing blog is informal, but my author site functions as a resume with sample writing for prospective publishers.

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So when I say “Market my work” I’m talking about marketing the book I plan to publish this year–which will involve public appearances. I’m extremely nervous when speaking in public, so this is something I’ve been working to overcome for awhile. Hopefully, I will improve with practice.

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3. Learn to make one origami form with a dollar bill.
I know this one has nothing to do with writing, but I’m terrible at origami. It’s something I’ve wanted to learn for awhile. I don’t need to learn a bunch of complicated forms, just a simple one that I can do well. I want to do it with dollar bills because I can use it for a craftivism project involving play money. Also, if I leave a tip with paper money, it might be cute.

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I’d love to hear what your resolutions are, if any, for the year 2018! If you’d like to share, please let me know in the comments below. And Happy New Year!
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**due to the holidays, my posts will be scheduled slightly off from the normal two weeks. My apologies. Happy holidays!

 

On Writing: Habitica–Gamify your Life!

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Who knew that creating a productivity tool that is essentially a video game would be so effective? Habitica (formerly HabitRPG) helps you establish good habits and eradicate bad ones by giving you in-game rewards for completing real life tasks.

My first experience with a game-based productivity tool was Life RPG, suggested by my teenage son since he’s really into video games. I tried it, and initially found it somewhat helpful–although I was frustrated by the lack of customer support. When I had issues, I tried contacting the developers through the app store and twitter to no avail. Their twitter account hasn’t been updated since 2014, and while their reviews in the Android app store were overwhelmingly favorable, I could never get them to respond when I had a question.  Customer service and response times are important to me, since I am not tech savvy.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have only used Habitica during the current week. However, in that time I’ve already had more positive feedback and interaction through the site than I ever did using Life RPG. I think part of the reason is Habitica’s strong open-source community. There is a Tavern that can be visited via the app or site, where Habiticians can hang out casually or ask general questions. People who use Habitica are encouraged to be helpful to others, positivity is promoted, and everyone (as far as I have seen) is incredibly polite and considerate.

Habitica has a webpage online that you can log into each day to check off or add tasks, as well as an app for your cell phone or tablet device. I mainly use the app, but I try to check into the website at least once a day since I find typing on the laptop easier.

The first thing you do as a new user is create an avatar, with certain free options such as hair color or body type. As you complete your tasks, you gain health, experience, gold, and other rewards that let you buy things for your avatar. As you progress in the game, you gain levels and start to acquire pets that may become mounts in the proper circumstances, as well as other things–such as food for your stable animals, potions to regain health, armor, etc. There are also Guilds and Challenges for social opportunities as well as chances to gain extra rewards such as gems.

After you create your avatar you set up your real world tasks: Habits, Dailies, and To-Dos.  Habits should be things you would like to do every day (or every week, month, etc). Dailies are things that you should do every day (month, etc), and To-Dos are things that may (or may not) have a set-time limit. You gain rewards for everything you accomplish, but you lose points only if you miss your Dailies. In addition to the virtual game rewards offered, you may also assign yourself real life rewards, such as “Watching a movie” or “Eating a cookie” that may cost x-amount of gold. There are also other features that allow you to join parties and partner with other people, but you share the rewards or punishments when you do so.

An example of a Habit would be Stretching. I don’t remember to do my stretches every day, so this gives me extra points when I remember. A Daily would be Eat Lunch, since I often forget to eat, even after preparing lunch for my son. A To-Do would be Fix the Banister; I used the option to set a due time (end of this month) since I’ve put off this simple chore for several months. I have also set myself additional real life rewards, such as watching a movie for 25 gold coins.

The Guilds offer users a way to interact with other Habiticians that share similar interests. Guilds often offer Challenges to members, which promote Guild interests. For example, there are multiple writing Guilds that offer Challenges with set editing and publishing goals.

While it may not seem to tie-in to writing as a craft, using a productivity tool like Habitica can obviously help you establish a writing routine that increases your output. My life has become progressively more hectic over the past several weeks, but in the past week I’ve accomplished more of my writing goals than I have all month. I’ve reestablished a more productive daily routine, and I actually look forward to greater rewards for tasks I would otherwise put off.

If you tend to procrastinate or get overwhelmed with daily tasks, try Habitica. Signing up costs nothing but a little of your time, and the investment more than pays for itself.

Current Events: April and May 2017

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First of all, thank you for visiting! Normally, I post either poetry or short fiction, but every so often I like to share events going on in my area of Ohio. I try to update this blog once every two weeks.

I’m not sure how you made your way here, but I’ve recently attempted to consolidate my brand by updating my blog addresses and emails. This blog can be found via both https://catrussellwriter.wordpress.com/ and http://ganymeder.com/ . My other blog, which is more formal and serves as a resume, can be found at https://authorcatrussell.wordpress.com/ . My updated email, should you wish to contact me about my writing, is authorcatrussell@outlook.com .

Second, on to the fun stuff! There are several literary and creative holidays coming up, both internationally and locally, that I would love to share with you. Behold!

Saturday, April 29th

TABLETOP DAY: A wonderful geeky holiday for those who love tabletop gaming–from Dungeons & Dragons to card games like FLUXX! This may not seem very literary at first, but just think of all the storytelling and creativity involved in role-playing games. Plus, it’s just FUN. If you like, you can watch some TableTop via YouTube to help get into the mood; think Celebrity Poker meets Nerds.

Sunday, April 30th

CUYAHOGA LIBRARY POETRY OPEN MIC: The South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch of the Cuyahoga Library is finishing off National Poetry Month by providing a platform for anyone who writes poetry to share with an audience.

Come between 1:30 and 3:30, especially if you have written to one of the prompts they’ve provided during the month of April!

Thursday, May 4th

STAR WARS DAY: Watch out for deals and events at your local bookstores and comic book shops, because *ahem*

May the Fourth be with you…Always.

Saturday, May 6th

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: This day is exactly what the name implies; it’s a day when comic book shops give away specially-printed FCBD editions of comics for free. You can visit the FCBD site to see what comics will become available, though each comic shop (that chooses to participate) decides which comics they will be giving away. Participating shops may also have special events such as cosplay costume contests, comic artist signings, and other giveaways. To find out which stores are participating in your area, simply visit the site and do a location search.

Wednesday, May 10th

HOOKS AND BOOKS: The Barberton Library hosts its monthly meetup up for crafters and bibliophiles at the local Kave Coffee Bar (584 W. Tuscarawas Ave.). Knitters, crocheters, and other needlepoint crafters are welcome to bring their latest project to work on and share whatever book they are reading. They also have a Pinterest group to share projects and book recommendations!

Thursday, May 25th

TOWEL DAY: This fan-created holiday honors and promotes the work of the late great Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, the Dirk Gently books, and Last Chance to See. There are tons of events around the globe, but the main way to bring attention to this holiday is by conspicuously wearing or carrying a towel with you wherever you go. For as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy points out:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.

And, of course, if you haven’t already read his books, the best way to honor an author is to read his work. If you can not afford to buy a book, simply visit your friendly neighborhood library either in person or via its online digital library. Trust me. His books are amazing.

I hope you are able to participate in at least some of these activities, and I wish you all the best! Have a lovely week!