Friday, January 06, 2017

Fabulous Five: Blackout Poems

Just a little blackout poetry, spinning time into gold. Yes, my resolution was to write 1000 words per day so I can finish book #3 this year. But in the front of my mind, I'm blacking out words, and in the back of my mind, I'm wondering if I should skip my current project and go for the idea of book#4. Am I a quitter? Or is it the smart thing to do...write what I want, when I want?'s what the kids and I have been up to: upcycling Dealing with Blue proof pages into blackout poems.

by Stacia Leigh

I want more time for you and me.
I...can't do this anymore. The End.
The sacrifices were nothing.

by Ooba

Up to Badger Court.
The badger's TV choices were "Put My Foot Down."

by Stacia Leigh

The Boss blew in his face.
"I need a home," he said,
 showing his neighbor the open door.
"And you live here."

by Stacia Leigh

Stella faked her pain
though it was his teeth in the sink
with her spoon.
He missed the round veins.

by Beezer

I need mac and cheese and nothing else
I thought it was on sale
so I cleared the shelves
It'll get eaten eventually
For now, mac and cheese.

Just mac and cheese if you need it.
Off the top. Cobbled together a meal of boxed pasta,
mayonnaise, and powdered milk
Laugh and declare, "Amazing."

"People are prettiest when they talk about something they really love
with passion in their eyes." ~ K.V.H.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

From the Art Docent: Focal Point

Third Grade Art Wall

Straight off of holiday break and into art mode. Today I taught the kids about focal point while exploring oil pastels (and some soft) as a medium. I referred to two resources for this assignment:
Five Ways to Create a Focal Point in Artwork by The Virtual Instructor
 smART Class: Drawing Steps for One Point Perspective

 The Virtual Instructor says, "Focal points refer to the areas of the artwork that demand the viewer's attention." How is this done? Here are four ways:
1.) Contrast with color, shape, form, texture, matter how, just make it different.
2.) Separate the object from the group...set it apart.
3.) Strategic placement is important. In the middle? Or will it get more attention off to the side?
4.) Point to it by using implied lines or with visible ones.

We studied one image called "Wheat Field with Crows" by the master, Vincent Van Gogh. I also showed pictures from Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" and asked the kids to share with the class what they thought the focal point was and why. Fun discussion!

Then we were off and running.
1.) Draw a border about 1" inside the paper, to frame the beautiful artwork and to ultimately keep the artists from coloring off the page onto the table. Then, super important: name on paper.
2.) Draw an 'x' from corner to corner with a pencil. No rulers, no erasing...we're going organic with this one.
3.) In one side triangle, fill with a row of trees, still using pencil. Big in the front, getting smaller to the point in the middle to show distance.
4.) On the opposite side, draw lines from top to bottom within the triangle space and add windows, doors, bricks to make it look like buildings...once again big toward the edge of the paper and getting smaller toward the middle.
5.) Front and center triangle is the road. Add a sidewalk and dotted line down the middle.
6.) Top triangle is the it dark? Need a moon with stars? Is it daytime with a sun?
7.) ...And BOOM! Stop talking and start coloring.

Focal Point Assignment
Oil Pastels

Some questions and comments the kids had:
Q.) Do I have to do it that way?
A.) No. I've told you the lesson and how you choose to interpret the assignment is up to you. Try a waterway with fish. Think of different it winter in your world? Summer? Day, night? What details do you want to add?

Q.) He's not doing it right. He's coloring his trees red.
A.) He's the master of his own artwork. If the master says the trees are red, so be it.

Q.) Do you get paid to do this, or are you a volunteer?
A.) I volunteer my time, so we can have fun exploring art together.
Whispers to his neighbor: This isn't her REAL job.

Lol, I'm making fun. The kids are great and we have a blast during the one-hour class. It goes by fast, and I love seeing what they come up with. I'm already looking forward to the next one.

"Gondola on the Venetian Lagoon"

"Sunset Highway"

"If we don't have a sense of humor, we lack a sense of perspective." ~ Wayne Thiebaud

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Favorite Reads in 2016

In 2013, I challenged myself on Goodreads to read 75 books for the year and read 176%. Fist bump. Yes! 

In 2014 I challenged myself to read 100 books and succeeded. Too easy.

In 2015 I...uh. I failed. I don't even know how badly because even Goodreads is embarrassed to show the badge. *lower lip quivers*

In 2016 I vowed this would never happen to me again! My challenge was to read 100 books and if that meant reading skinny books, picture books, comics, whatever, then that's what I would do. On December 30th, I went to Barnes & Noble to make an exchange for my kids and spent some time reading picture books to catch up.

I don't feel bad about my reading choices; I love kids books and all those beautiful illustrations. In fact, I bought one at Klindt's Bookstore in The Dalles, Oregon over Christmas break (Number 1 on my list). I walked in, read it, bought it, took it home, and immediately read it two more times. The illustrations are fabulous! Lovesies!

1.) Favorite "Surprise" Picture Book

Ha ha! I did it!

Okay, enough blabbing. I perused my reads for 2016 and decided to list my favorites. It's all over the map. Here goes:

2.) Favorite "Laugh Out Loud" Graphic Novel

3.) Favorite Childrens Early Read

4.) Favorite Young Adult

5.) Favorite "Freaky" Middle Grade

6.) Favorite "Didn't Want It to End" Middle Grade

7.) Favorite "Where Is This Going?" Middle Grade

8.) Favorite Romance

9.) Favorite "Get 'Er Done" Self Help

10.) Favorite "Chalk Full of Good Stuff" How-To Book

"Children should learn that reading is pleasure,
not just something that teachers make you do in school." ~ Beverly Cleary

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Day #5: Fabulous Five Lego-isms

Two things are fabulous about today. The first one is...

Last Chance to Win Some!'s the last day to win your FREE ebook copy of Riding with the Hides of Hellon Amazon. All you have to do is "click it" to "stick it" on your Kindle. Or you can cough up the big bucks for a paperback. Totally up to you. 

If you don't like stories about strong heroines who kick butt, take names while doing it, AND get the guy...THEN DON'T READ Riding with the Hides of Hell*. It's all those things...and more :) It's a love, adventure story for young adults and for adults who feel young.

Kindle Price = $0.00
Today only! January 3rd

The second fabulous thing about today is this: I've combined three of my favorite things in one place: photography, Lego Mini-figs, and quotes. Just for fun. Not trying to win a prize or anything.

Computer Time

Making Sausage

Do the Thing

You got this.

* Riding with the Hides of Hell has a new title: Burnout!

Monday, January 02, 2017

Day #4: Be Good To Yourself

With the start of January come resolutions, like loosing weight, exercising, rejuvenating the creative spirit, doing more of something, or maybe doing less. Mine will be to get on a better writing schedule. Write every day, rain or shine, a couple hours, just do it. I've got four ideas, and I want to work on them all, but then I find myself stuck in marketing hell...

Oh yeah.


Riding with the Hides of Hell* is STILL FREE on Amazon, from now until tomorrow, January 3rd. It's about a kick-@ss heroine named Miki Holtz, who fights for what she wants, survives the bad bikers, and saves the boy. It's a hellish road trip of tough luck and tough love. Get your clicking finger ready and give RHOH a go.

Kindle Price $0.00
Today - January 3rd

Boom! Done. Back to resolutions. What I was trying to say, is to make 2017 a year of being good to the turtle below.

Be Good To Yourself

This image has come a long way, baby. I first created it for the 2010 Ripple Project and called it "Clean Up at the Gulf." Then I worked Mr. Crab and the black oil out of it to make postcards as take-aways at the 2012 SCBWI conference where I was showing my art portfolio. I had 500 cards printed, the conference would only allow me to leave a pile of 200 there, so I had turtle postcards coming out of my ears.

Then the November 2016 Western Washington Scrapbook Retreat happened. I signed up for the card swap and wondered how to put a dent in my stash of postcards. What does one do with a turtle taking a bubble bath?

I cut, glued, and tied ribbon onto a card with the words, "Be good to yourself" and made thirty birthday cards.

It was a small dent.

So...yeah. Resolutions. Be good to yourself out there!


Now, go get your copy of Riding with the Hides of Hell* for free, draw your own bubble bath, sing Happy Birthday if you want, then settle in for a relaxing soak and a good read. Let the adventure begin :) Oh, it's an ebook, so there's that...

* Riding with the Hides of Hell has a new title: Burnout!

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Day #3: Starting the New Year with Blackout Poetry

FIRST: Happy New Year! HONK. Tweet. It's 2017!

SECOND: Start your year with a biker themed adventure story where Will and Miki find themselves on a hellish road trip of tough luck and tough love. Burnout is free on Amazon. 

Kindle Price $0.00
Today - January 3rd

THIRD: I just found a new hobby, and I need one like I need another hole in my head, as my mom would say. I stumbled across blackout poetry on Pinterest one day and thought, "How clever."

I have to confess that I found this poetry process addicting. To get started, I selected a random page from an old proof copy of Dealing with Blue (pack rat) and followed Austin Kleon's youtube video on How to Make a Newspaper Blackout Poem. He seems to know his way around the topic, so I followed along diligently.
1.) Find your page and tap your inspiration.
2.) Select the words you like. I used a pencil and erased a lot :)
3.) Then, blackout what you don't need, high light what you do.

Ta da! I LOVED finding words, maybe even a hidden meaning especially within my own story.

My Blackout Poem


Let's just say,
I saw a hornet behind her ear.
She turned, and
the lunch crowd stared
interested in
the magic between them.