Giving Writing Pep Talks to Kids ~ At Sunview Elementary School and BEYOND!

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Photo taken during my Writing Pep Talk at Sunview!

On Thursday, Feb.6, I gave what I call a “Writing Pep Talk” to the kids of Sunview Elementary School in Lyndhurst, Ohio. Both of my kids attend Sunview. I also have been leading a mini group of kids in my daughter’s class which I call the “Sunview Star Writers Group.” When the school teachers caught wind that I released my first book series, I was contacted to speak with their Third Graders who have been going through a Treasures Reading Program. I was ecstatic!

Inspiring and encouraging kids to be creatively expressive is my personal JOY, and I was SO thankful for the opportunity. Besides, this is something I’ve been wanting to get started anyway… visit local schools here in Cleveland and around my hometown in Monroe, NC, to not only promote my books, but to tell my personal writing & publishing story to the kids, encouraging them not to give up on their own dreams.

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Thank You notes from the Sunview 3rd Graders!

Giving this talk to the kids was a great experience – and the Q&A was very soul searching for me. I was proud of myself for being so “on,” I was able to answer most questions quickly to get as many in as possible. I spoke to four third grade classes, gathered into two groups. I also created artsy bookmarks as giveaways to the kids, and learned how to quickly create 100 of these little gifties! It was wonderful when I also announced to the kids that I was donating a copy of each of my books to the school library, too. My heart swelled from their enthusiastic response!! About a week later, on Valentine’s Day, I received the most wonderful gift from my daughter’s teacher… a packet stuffed with beautiful handwritten Thank You notes from all the third graders, thanking me for my visit, for donating the books, and for the artsy bookmarks. They also wrote to me about their favorite parts of the talk, which was pretty cool to read about, and through reading their responses, I made an adjustment to the book I’m currently writing (3rd  in the series), to include a story I told to the classes, realizing it’s a very important story I need to tell in the final book of the series.

Now I’m planning a trip during my kids’ Spring Break to visit my old school in North Carolina, Piedmont Middle School, and give the same talk to some students there. I am so excited to do this. And ultimately I’m hoping to take a trip to my Elementary School in Canada, Meadowbrook Public School, to do the same thing, bringing my book journey full circle!

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The Last Canadian ~ My Father’s Dream Remembered

513wYOkKMjL._SL500_AA300_This piece of music was co-written and produced by my dad, Robert Carrick from Toronto, Ontario (in the very early 1980’s). My dad and his friend, Paul Conlin, were on a mission to produce a film about the book, The Last Canadian, by William C. Heine. They ended up coming short of their financial goal to gain rights to produce the film and the project was instead granted to another company, Americanized completely, and re-named “The Patriot,” starring Steven Seagal – his first “direct-to-video” film. (Wow – yeah, THAT was worth crushing a man’s dreams for, eh?)

Honoring my dad by posting this piece of music for the world to enjoy! A haunting piece of music, intended as soundtrack proposal to the original “Last Canadian” story.

The story of my dad’s lost dream is not an uncommon one, but as dreamers we often feel very ALONE (as on the book cover pictured). This music comes into my mind when I feel sad and lonely or when I feel downtrodden – like the world of REALITY is trying to stamp out my dreams.

As I listen to this music and write this, I see many dreamers like my dad (and me) out there who often feel the sting of reality bite away at their dreams. Each of us stand in this empty, vast sea of despair at times. Cold. Frozen. Does it make any difference to move forward? – We ask ourselves – Why should I even BOTHER? Nobody cares about this dream other than me anyway. In the end, what will all this pain cost me? I should just bury myself in the snow and die here. What’s the freakin’ point?

And then a voice beckons us forward.

It urges us to move on through the frozen wasteland of doubt and fear.

Because if we stop moving, we will freeze here and die… like all the others… the millions of others who have succumbed to the plague.

So I dedicate this music I’ve shared here to all the dreamers out there like my dad, and like me… who get discouraged, fearful, and angry.

It’s okay. Feel the pain. It’s all real. But don’t stop moving, because it is in moving forward through the snow that warms us… and brings us closer to hope.

My Art Licensed on Rubbermoon Art Stamps!

IMG_2660For the first time I’ve learned what it feels like to license your artwork on product. I’ve designed products for other companies, but this is the first time I get to see something produced using a piece of my ART on it. Not just an illustration, but something that came out of my heart and soul.

These little gems express how I feel about sending my art and books out into the world. By sending out my heart’s expressions through art and writing, I am sharing my humanity with the world. This includes  sharing my imperfections, making me vulnerable.

What’s cool about having your art on rubber stamps is that it teaches you not to be too much of a perfectionist. Each time you use a rubber stamp, it will look slightly different each time. You might think the whole purpose of a rubber stamp is to create something exact every time you use it – as if it’s your own personal printing plate. Not the case. I you WERE using a printing press, maybe that would be the case, but you are using your own human hand to apply the stamp to paper – and that allows for human error (pressing just a little harder sometimes, or not enough at other times).

Therefore, it’s important to use rubber stamps as a way to challenge your creativity. How creative can you be with the stamps? How many uses can you find for a single rubber stamp? And how can you mix and match different stamp design sets? I’ve been thinking about this as I play with all my Rubbermoon Art Stamps.

I’ve only begun to play with my own set, and I have to admit I haven’t been too creative yet because I’m so close to the designs – I see them as little art pieces themselves, so I want to highlight them to make my own notecards and use to decorate parcels I send out.

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Here’s a little tutorial on how to customize notecards at home:

MATERIALS: Paper of your choice, patterned or solid-colored notecard from your stash at home, Scotch double-stick tape, oil-based paint marker or gel pen, and of course a Rubbermoon stamp of your choice (I chose my new creation, the “tree hugger”, which you can find in my Etsy shop).

1. Stamp on paper of your choosing (I just found some loose notecard material I found at home). I really love my “tree hugger” stamp and wanted to highlight it as art on a notecard.

2. Grab a patterned or solid-colored notecard at home (I have plenty that I feel I can recycle because I simply don’t use them enough).

NOTE: I happened to feel like using these notecards with a golden sheen to them – so I decided to use an oil-based paint marker to create shiny gold accents/embellishments to the stamp art. This was fun to play with. I suggest doing this BEFORE attaching your image to the card, in case you don’t like how it looks, to allow yourself some time to experiment.

3. Attach the stamp art paper onto your notecard. I like to use double-stick tape (I know – not too artsy, but it works). I trust Scotch double-stick tape. It just works well. No buckling or peeling to worry about. Simple. If you’re more picky about using an archival quality tape, feel free to use the kind found in scrapbooking aisles in the craft store.

And VOILA! You’ve transformed some store-bought notecards into your own personalized pieces of art to send through the mail with love! This particular set of stamps I designed would work out well to use as valentines (rubber stamping works very well to use for your kids’ valentines to had out at school… that will be my next project!  🙂