NaNoWriMo 2012 – a kick in the butt for writers!

Nanoo Nanoo WriMo!

November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and it’s almost here! This is my first year participating in Nano, and I’m happy to be sharing the experience with my daughter, Rose (Rose is in the Nano Young Writers Program)!

Why am I writing about and promoting Nano so much on my Create-A-Way blog?

Because I feel it’s the perfect motivational tool you can use to finally get moving on that writing project you’ve been thinking about for so long. I think writing is the easiest thing to put off. We give all the excuses in the world NOT to write: a lack of time, energy, ideas, blah, blah…

NaNoWriMo is basically a kick in the butt for writers.

And it’s FREE (as all kicks in the butt should be).

So check out NaNoWrMo and join in on the fun!

Who cares if you don’t get to the 50,000 word goal? How much are you writing NOW? If the answer is ZERO, what do you have to lose? Even if all you write is 5,000 words, that’s 5,000 words that would have never existed if you hadn’t at least tried!

Go for it!


Supporting an Aspiring Young Author, Rose!

I am getting a little carried away, perhaps, but I don’t care. When your kids show interest in something you have an equal passion for, you just have no choice but to get excited!

My daughter, Rose, has shown a high interest in writing and illustrating her own books, and she’s only seven years old.

I remember I was just like her when I was little. As soon as I learned to write, and read my first story in front of my class, I was HOOKED. I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a writer and illustrate my own books. So what happened? I was gung ho all through childhood, and my writing was highly encouraged by my teachers and my peers (in Canada). However, when I moved to the States, nobody knew me. Nobody knew that I’d been writing ever since the first grade. But when I started drawing in art class, it was extremely obvious to people that I had a talent in art, and that became what people focused on in my new life in the States. It wasn’t until I bought a blank book from the bookstore and started writing my autobiography during recess time that people started to notice my writing passion in the 8th Grade. But still, writing isn’t as cool as being good at art, so my passion for writing remained something mostly I knew about, along with a select few of my friends. Hence my decision to pursue art as my career choice rather than writing. I decided to sneak into the back door of the professional writing world by entering through it with my art (creating illustrated children’s books first, perhaps). In a way, that is what seems to be happening, but not exactly the way I planned.

So on to my daughter! I feel like I want to take what I learned from my own life and pass that knowledge on to her. I learned that sharing my work to others was what excited me. It isn’t enough to simply write the words. A writer isn’t much without readers, just as an actor or musician isn’t much without an audience. So I joyfully created a blog for Rose on which she can see her work up in front of the world for everyone to see and read. Getting comments on her blog is so exciting to share with her. She’s learning so much so early. I certainly didn’t have the internet to use as a resource when I was little. I’m happy to introduce it to her in a supportive way, so she can see how the internet can be used as a support tool.

I’ve created a few different pages for her. The latest is this one, created for her and her friend Jamie:

Rose also created her own little writing desk area in her room. SO cute!

I am thrilled to see that her teacher at Sunview Elementary School is extremely encouraging, just as I remember my own elementary school teachers when I was little. This just delights me! BIG thanks to her teacher, Mrs.Johnson!

I’m looking forward to teaching her to feel empowered and not rely solely on traditional publishing as the ultimate way to go. I guess I focus so much on that because I think that’s what killed my own confidence about getting published as a young person. I knew I wasn’t the best author – I was just a kid – but there was no other way I knew to get my work out there.

Independent publishing can be just as lucrative, and in some cases, more lucrative! Besides, we writers don’t write for the money. We write because we love to write. Just the way any creative person does what they do – Artists love to express themselves creatively. Actors love the thrill of performing in front of an audience. Musicians have passion for the audio art they create. We are all artists and we do what we do because WE LOVE TO DO IT.

Edvard Munch said, “Art is your heart’s blood.”

SO true. Creative expression is something we just have to do.

And I am so happy to be sharing all this with my daughter. I’m looking forward to journeying with her through this artistic path, and even  learning a few new things myself as I watch what happens with her own new journey.

AIMM Giveaway Drawing: And The Winners Are…

I decided to include in the drawing the people who also shared my Blog post on Facebook, because I didn’t know if I was being clear that I wanted people to also post a comment on my blog to officially enter the contest.
I decided to have my kitty pick the winner, as I did last time I had a drawing, crumpling the names into little paper balls and throwing them on the floor, to see which paper ball she plays with first.
However, kitty was not in a playful mood, so she just sniffed the two paper balls closest to her and that was it. So, we have TWO winners, the two people whose names smelled the sweetest to kitty, I guess!
And lo and behold, the two she sniffed just happened to be the two people who made the effort to comment on my blog (I appreciate you both so much): Lisa Lynn and Kat McNally!
Lisa and Kat will both be receiving a FREE INTENSIVE MONTH of Art in My Mailbox! Whee!
Thanks to those who shared and spread the word about this program.
I’ll continue to promote this program – it’s such an affordable gift to give to a friend (only $10 for a month of AIMM), so please help spread the word and treat yourself if you like to a month or more of AIMM to support young artists!

Lazar – A Different Interpretation of “Danse Macabre” by Saint Saens

In Newmarket, Ontario, I was introduced in grade school to the piece, Danse Macabre, by Saint Saens. They would darken the classroom as we watched this slideshow of watercolor paintings by Harold Dexter Hoopes. It is a piece of music that I have never forgotten. In fact, I bought a tape of the music and crank it up full blast in my car sometimes.

I love music that tells a story, especially songs that build into a climax the way a good story does. Perhaps that’s why I love listening to orchestrated soundtrack music so much. One of my favorite musical score composers is Thomas Newman. My favorites of his are: Shawshank Redemption and How to Make an American Quilt. I also love Randy Newman’s score for The Natural. Also John Barry (Somewhere in Time, Out of Africa, Dances with Wolves). I love music that makes me FEEL something.

Danse Macabre, when pumped up full volume, makes me POUND the air with my fist at it’s climactic moment when the big loud drums go BOOM! within the tornadic intensity of the violins. At it’s peak I imagine a whirlwind of spirits!

What a delight it was to find a kindred spirit in Gavrilo Gnatovich, animator and owner of Horrendous Fiasco Cartoons (my husband’s boss in the late 1990’s at Knock Knock Cartoons). Danse Macabre was a major musical focus for his short film, Lazar. I highly encourage you to watch it and enjoy this new visual interpretation of the classic music, Danse Macabre. Very different from the ghouls in the original imagery shown to me when I was little, but a good example to show that music can be interpreted in so many ways.

This music tells a story. What story speaks the most to you? Or do you have your own to share?

Click HERE or on image to go to Gav’s website – and click on the “Lazar” image on the page link to view the movie.

Lazar – by Gavrilo Gnatovich

My Toastmasters Testimony – Moving From “I CAN’T” to “I CAN!”

Trophy my husband MADE for me – out of paper.

I wrote this as a submission for a book of collective stories about Toastmasters. Hoping it gets in, but wanted to share it here. I’m a strong supporter of Toastmasters. Here’s why:

“I have to quit Toastmasters,” I told my boss at our one-on-one meeting.


“Every Wednesday morning before the meetings, I spend most of my time dry heaving in the bathroom.”

My boss explained that part of my job involved communication skills, and eventually presentation skills as well. She said I needed to stay in Toastmasters.

I had Social Anxiety Disorder. I didn’t know the name for it at that point, but that’s exactly what it was. It’s a fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticized by others. I experienced it during meetings, and way back to when I had my first oral book report in grade school. Even talking on the phone was uncomfortable.

“I CAN’T do this!” I sobbed to myself that night. “Some people can do public speaking and some people can’t. I can’t. I am NOT one of those people who can do this!”

I seriously considered quitting my job – the first good job I ever had with a decent salary and benefits. I was single, trying to live the independent life on my own, hundreds of miles away from my family.

I toughed it out for a couple more years, then went back to my boss to tell her Toastmasters still wasn’t working for me.

She asked if I had given it my best.


Truthfully, I had done the bare minimum. I came to meetings every so often, whenever I had a club role to fill. I never served as a club officer, and only delivered four speeches out of the ten needed for my Certified Toastmaster (CTM) award.

I told my boss I’d give it one more shot – my best shot. But this time I was doing it for myself. Was it possible to get my CTM? I fantasized about giving that tenth speech. I wanted to believe I COULD DO IT.

I volunteered as a club officer, Sergeant-at-Arms, for selfish reasons. It was a way to force myself to come to every meeting, because the Sergeant-at-Arms’s main responsibility was to set up the meeting room every week.

     As an officer, I was introduced to what leadership truly is. I realized how much I loved my Toastmasters Club, and wanted it to thrive. So I volunteered to finish my CTM that year.

Heads turned in the officer group. “How many speeches do you have left?” An officer asked me.

I admitted, “Six.” There were 8 months left to complete this goal. My average up to this point was one speech every six months. I knew the other officers silently doubted I could do it, and it only fueled my passion to prove everyone, including my inner critics, wrong.

Three months passed with only one speech accomplished.

Crunch time. I now had four months to plan and present five speeches. No more procrastinating, I told myself. Are you serious about this, or what?

Yes, I answered. I am going to do this.

And I did.

In that four-month span, I grew more than ever. I realized I was brave, I learned that speaking with sincerity was a valuable gift of mine, and most surprisingly I was able to see myself as a leader.

After receiving my CTM award, I went on to earn “Toastmaster of the Year” from my club. The same thing happened the following year when I jumped in the officer ranks enthusiastically to VP of Education.

Over the next few years I continued to earn the Competent Leader Award three times, and my Advanced Communicator Bronze. And finally I found the confidence to run and serve as President of my club.

Wow. I went from a phobic Social Anxiety case to President of my Toastmasters Club within a span of four years.

It hasn’t stopped there.

I now facilitate Creative Women’s Retreats, teach creative workshops and tele-classes live, recorded audios and videotaped myself for my business purposes, and I recently launched an online radio show. The business I run is almost entirely focused on my interaction with people – something I used to avoid like the plague. Toastmasters literally changed my life!

So, wow!

I DID it!

And if there’s one thing I know, it is this… If I can do it, anyone can.

That means you, too, dear reader.


Artist at Work

At left you’ll see a photo of my daughter, Rose, watching her dad (David) do his art work on the computer.

So many times Rose will ask me after dinner, “Can I watch Daddy at the computer?”

One of Rose’s favorite things to do is watch her Daddy doing his art work on the computer. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing. It could be creating a new font, a logo, or a full illustration. Rose seems entranced by watching him do any kind of art work on the computer. She’ll grab her teddy bear, and he’ll take his headphones off and crank up the music for her.

I think that’s how Rose was introduced to the music of Ane Brun.

It’s really very sweet.

You can check out some examples of “Daddy’s work” on his art blog HERE. I guarantee Rose has watched him make half of the art you see there.

Zentangles by Polly DeHAYS

Zentangles by Polly DeHAYS

I was totally WOWED by these Zentangles my friend Polly DeHAYS created and I just had to share them with you! This is actually her FIRST try at them, showcasing her artistic talent! These inspire me so much, I had to try making some of my own (not nearly as detailed as hers).

We had a Zentagle workshop at my retreat this year, led by Carol Bailey-Floyd, and that’s what introduced Polly to this technique.

I just had to show off her work, here. It really inspires me.

Polly says this about her Zentangles:

“I love that they are quick & easy – for anyone! There are no mistakes. And there is no such thing as perfection with Zentangle. It’s refreshing that I can just let my curiosity run the show & doodle-away and indulge in the excitement as I watch how my creation develops while my imagination & creativity run wild!

The end result is always a gorgeous, elaborate, design that you can be proud of and show off to friends and family!”

Blogtoberfest Giveaway Drawing – Art in Your Mailbox – Support Young Artists!

I created a way last night to make myself get caught up with my AIMM (Art in My Mailbox) postcards. I was so excited to get them in the mail today. Four postcards, going their separate ways to Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Australia! Woo hoo!!

Now that my freebie period is over with, I thought I’d do a special GIVEAWAY.

WHAT YOU GET: One free month of the AIMM INTENSIVE (one piece of art in your mailbox EVERY week for four weeks)!!

If you win, I’ll be contacting you to ask what kind of AIMM you’d prefer, and a small questionnaire so I can best send you imagery you will relate to (this gives a taste of what AIMM is all about). Then you will start getting your free AIMM card every week for four weeks! How fun is that?!

Normally this AIMM INTENSIVE would cost $10, and 100% of this money goes directly into the CAW Young Artist Scholarship fund! It is my goal by May, 2013, to award a modest scholarship to two students – one from Piedmont High School (Monroe, NC) and one from Brush High School (Lyndhurst, OH). Please visit the scholarship fund page to learn more or to donate!

So by entering this giveaway you are supporting my cause to raise funds to gift two students with scholarships this year! THANK YOU!


1. SHARE a link to this post on Facebook or Twitter or your Blog!

2. Comment below with a link to your post!


1. SHARE this link on Facebook or Twitter or your Blog:

2. Comment below with a link to your post!

The drawing will take place on Monday, Oct.22. Winner will be contacted via email!

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Never, Never, Never, Never Give Up!

An unfortunate situation at home created a POSITIVE opportunity for me this morning. I got to drive my daughter, Rose, to daycare this morning (normally Daddy’s job), and we had the most uplifting conversation in the car on our way.

She started asking me about astronauts, asking if girls can be astronauts. “Absolutely,” I said.

“Are there any girl astronauts?” She asked me.

I knew for sure there were, but the only one I could off-hand remember was the teacher who was killed in the Challenger explosion when I was a kid. I decided not to mention that detail to her, telling her I knew of a female astronaut who was ALSO a teacher (another thing Rose dreams about being when she gets older). Rose was very interested.

After some discussion, Rose said, “I think I just want to be a book writer!”

“Me too!” I said to her, and explained to her that I had that same dream when I was little, but gave up on it after a while. Now I’m picking that dream back up again. “But,” I said, “if I hadn’t given up back when I was a kid, I’d probably be making a good living from my books now! So it’s really important not to give up if you really want to do something.”

I decided to think more positively, and said, “But I didn’t give up on my dream of being a professional artist – and now that’s exactly what I do for a living! I’m pretty happy about that!”

“So I’m never going to give up on my book writing, then!” Rose decided.

I cheered her on. “Yes,” I said. “Because giving up is really the only definite way to fail. If you never give up, eventually you can make that dream or that goal happen!”

What a great conversation to start my day today.

Thank you, Rose!

I Was Born This Way!

“I’m beautiful in my way

‘Cause God makes no mistakes

I’m on the right track, baby

I was born this way
Don’t hide yourself in regret

Just love yourself and you’re set

I’m on the right track, baby

I was born this way”

YEAH, baby! I love it!!!

I’m not a big Lady Gaga fan, but I heard this song on the radio this morning and loved it. If I’d heard it as a teenager, it would have been my theme song. When you’re a teenager, that’s when you realize the most that you are not like anybody else, because that’s a time when everyone else is trying so hard to “fit in” and find their “crowd.

But hey – the more different you are. the harder it is to fit in or even find “your crowd.”

As a teen, my crowd was basically other teens who couldn’t find their crowd either. Those were the people I connected to the most – people who realized it was pointless to fit in, but didn’t go out of their way to be different either. You don’t have to “go goth” or whatever to prove you’re different. That’s what a lot of teens don’t seem to get. All you have to do to embrace your uniqueness is to be YOU. Wear the clothes you feel comfortable in, show off your glasses, wear that purple lipstick and glitzy earrings if you like such things.

One thing I am very happy about is my family taught me to embrace my uniqueness at a young age. I knew very well that I was different, even though I looked normal. I wasn’t interested in pop culture, I loved to read, I didn’t swear, I enjoyed school, I valued my relationship with God and my virginity, I related more to my teachers than to my fellow classmates, and I thought boys were a waste of time (and they really WERE in middle-to-high school, I now realize).

I have my own time-travel website as a write a book series about this time of my life:

This seems an appropriate post during Bully Prevention Awareness Month. Stopping kids from teasing each other is nearly impossible, really. What we really need to do is STRENGTHEN our own self esteem and self-image so bullies HAVE NO POWER against us. This song does just that, I believe.

Please share some of your own marvelous eccentricities below if you like!

EMBRACE who you are, baby!

‘Cause you were BORN this way!