This is my office. The clean side.
Thank you to my friend Karen McFarland for tagging me in her post about Inspiring Spaces!
So, I write in my office. My office has books, pictures, quotes, and so many writing utensils you might believe I’m preparing for some kind of apocalypse. Well, the kind of apocalypse where one is not SO preoccupied with survival that they may like to sit and write, or doodle, for a bit. (Perhaps, a creative apocalypse?)
Oh and there’s some ladybug stuff in my office. Because ladybugs inspire me too.
But then there’s the creative inspiration outside of the office.
The stuff that makes me curious.
A tree grows in Vermont.
And maybe plants a creative seed.
Centuries old Tulip Poplar log on Saunders-Monticello Trail in Charlottesville, VA
I love the kind of curiosity that leads to the funny
That’s dear hub checking out the poop on the Sawmill Run portion of the Appalachian Trail
I told him it was poop (aka wild animal scat) but he didn’t believe me.
But I understand wanting to take a closer look at nature.
An Appalachian Trail bee
A praying mantis on my porch
Oh and I got a curious kick out of the kids at the park who were fascinated by my hub The Fisherman
They had A LOT of questions about fishing.
Oh and there was some brain sprouting at my son’s school.
It was Family Weekend and I attended a geology class and while I’m sure that the subject is fascinating I couldn’t get over how note taking has changed in twenty years.
Family. I find a lot of inspiration with my family.
And sometimes in a little Fro Yo. Why not?
What’s inspiring your work this week?
Happy Monday!Read More
If you’re reading this, then the Spambot war I’ve been engaged in is over.
My site was down most of last week. It popped back up for a few minutes here and there only to be swallowed again by these guys
Note: This is not an actual spambot for they don’t show there faces. They like to lurk behind Burberry ads and gibberish disguised as flattery.
They were ruthless. They got thru Askimet and dumped so many comments HostGator had to shut me down. Finally, thanks to my tech guy (aka my hub), I got my site back.
His other super power: Fish Whisperer
Yay! Because I’ve got stuff to tell you all.
I finished my big Photoshop project–the one that required me to take classes–and pull my hair out.
Here’s what I’ve been up to–the cover of my new book:
A visitor from Zac’s past shows up, sending Grace and Zac’s spring break—and their relationship—into uncharted territory.
The ebook is available now. You can check out all the details here.
The paperback is almost ready to go live. I got a bit sidetracked with choosing between matte or glossy–and again there was more learning to be done with the fancy Photoshop.
But I did it. It wasn’t easy and I still have lots to learn, but I’m pretty happy with how far I got. And that I tried. There was lots of mistakes and trying again–which fits nicely with one of the themes in this new book. So there’s that too.
Plus, the companion book, The Art of Chasing Normal, is a Kindle Unlimited book!
So what have you been up to? I’d love to hear! But first…
a teensy, tiny bit of bad news. Unfortunately commenting here now requires a little math. Sorry, I know this is a lot to ask, especially on a Monday. Hopefully I will find a better Captcha setup (I’m open to suggestions).
So because I miss your comments and hope you will tell me what’s been going on with you, I offer you some very pretty cake.
Gives new meaning to fruit cake.
Or maybe you’d like a little zen.
Me too. My new favorite thing is this class
Yoga at the botanical garden.
What’s happening in your world? I’d love to know!
HAPPY MONDAY!Read More
Last weekend was historic.
We celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary (w/ silly selfies, because that’s how we roll)…
on the very same day that we took our youngest child to college.
But seriously, we couldn’t be more proud.
He’s studying at Thomas Jefferson’s alma mater.
(Although, apparently, it’s cooler to mention alumnus, Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show)
This part wasn’t easy though.
We knew it wouldn’t be, having done the goodbye thing with our daughter only 364 days before.
This pic sums up the strange mix of emptiness and freedom
I think we all felt (not that anyone is a horse in this scenario).
But the whole leaving my youngest at college didn’t really hit me until the middle of the weekend,
at 3am to be exact,
I sat up in bed, in the middle of a the dark hotel room
startled from a dream where I was in a room with doors
running around trying to lock them.
(Before you think my dreams are visionary, let me add that there was also a gecko in an envelope in there somewhere.)
The next day, after one more round of parent orientation, we stopped at a park
and rented a jon boat.
We drifted for a couple of hours.
Wrapped up in beginnings and endings
we let our emotions untangle a bit.
And then we headed home. Just the two of us.
But home comforted
and reminded us there’s so much more ahead
(and that the bananas on the kitchen counter were going to keep on ripening no matter what)
Which was perfect for baking some banana bread for care packages.
What’s your favorite thing to put in a care package (or to receive)? Anything historic happening in your neck of the woods?
Please welcome Jennifer Jensen to the blog. Jennifer is the author of Through the Shimmer of Time, a brand new book for middle grade readers–ages 9-12 (or for anyone who loves a good time travel story!!)
Take it away, Jennifer!
First, a humongous thank you to Coleen for hosting me on my blog tour! And second, I recently discovered just how awesome she is in the creativity department—not only her books, but her doodles! Seriously, scroll back through her posts and play “Where’s Waldo?” with her Starbucks cups.
Now, a confession: I’ve had a good number of short stories published, written several novel manuscripts that will never see the light of day (rightly so), and just released my first middle grade novel, Through the Shimmer of Time. And yet I’ve never considered myself creative.
I enjoy crafts, but can’t come up with the ideas myself.
Quilled flowers: photo by Inna Dorman, via Wikimedia Commons
I like to sew, but I’m lost without the instructions (unlike my daughter, who ought to be on Project Runway).
Fashion Sketch: by Damien Chandra via Flickr (creative commons license)
I have an idea of what looks good, and that’s slowly showing up in my house and my garden, but I can’t look at colors and make definite decisions on what will work, even white paint! Help!
Porch flowers: by Jennifer Jensen
Sometimes I wish my creativity was with artsy stuff. I could decorate my home, wow my friends, and spend all my money at hobby stores. Instead, I deal with words in my mind – fun, dangerous or lonely, depending on the day.
Most of the hours spent at my computer are spent on the craft of writing, as you’d expect. But I’ll tell you a secret about the imaginative side of my writing: much of it takes place in the shower! (Longer and longer showers, in fact.) Plot lines. Scene snippets. Conversations between characters. Not to mention envisioning book signings and best seller lists! See, I am creative!
Unfortunately, this writer’s creativity has a few drawbacks:
• It’s a solitary activity, not something you can do with friends or family, having fun while making something beautiful.
• You don’t really have anything to share until you’re done, which can be months or years.
• When you live in your story, you’re not particularly living in the moment with your family. Spouses and children are known to give you odd looks when you say, “I don’t hold with no snake-oil medicines.”
• There’s no hot water left for anyone else.
Someday I might be able to doodle on coffee cups like Coleen. Until then, I’ll have to stick with words and a few time travel adventures.
What’s your favorite way to be creative?
Jennifer Jensen is an award-winning writer who wouldn’t be without her computer or smart phone, but still dreams of living in the olden days.
Until someone invents a working time machine, she lives in Indiana and makes do with plenty of imagination, loads of books and as much Dr. Who as the BBC will produce.
She’s a longtime member of SCBWI and has received two Indiana Arts Commission grants for her fiction. Through the Shimmer of Time is her first novel. Connect with her at her blog, Surrounded by Story, through Facebook or on Twitter @jenjensen2.
THROUGH THE SHIMMER OF TIME
By Jennifer Jensen
A mysterious pottery shard . . .
A haunted cabin . . .
A shadowy stranger . . .
And no way home
Present Day: Jim has a talent for getting into trouble. Grounded from his model rockets, he goes exploring where he shouldn’t and gets zapped back in time. Can he find the way back home or is he marooned in the past?
1838: Hannah’s life in her frontier village is filled with a little play and a lot of hard work. A seemingly harmless trick lures a strange, dazed boy from the old haunted cabin. Now Hannah must make a choice – and face the dangers.
Together, Jim and Hannah struggle to unmask a thief and solve a murder while they search for the key to unlock time. It will take all their courage and wits, plus the rocket motors in Jim’s pocket, just to stay alive.
You can find Through the Shimmer of Time here: Amazon
Cousins playing bouncy house basketball
By the way, my hub’s t-shirt says, I know the muffin man. You know, the one who lives on Drury Lane?
Farmer’s Market tomatoes (for after donut cleansing)
Actually, I don’t know what kind of caterpillar this is, so I probably wouldn’t suggest getting too close.
Blue heron waiting patiently for dinner at the James River.
I was surprised at how close she (he?) let me get.
Guess I’ve got street cred now.
Duck snack rush at Byrd Park.
Getting eats in the animal world sure doesn’t look as easy as walking up to the donut truck.
I’d totally get excited over a colored pencil/Sharpie truck!
Sending love and hugs.
What makes you smile? And is it something that can be sold in a truck?
Wishing you a peaceful weekend.
At some point during the car trips of my childhood, my sister (the one who’s closest to me in age), would invariably stop to point out the creepiest, oldest, abandoned house on the side of the road and say,
There’s your dream house.
Look! It’s your future home.
It was a funny dig. A kinda two steps forward, two steps back exchange. The sisterly cha cha that we danced many times over the years we lived together.
Today, I still look for those houses. Still smile.
Sometimes I think it’s strange to smile at something so dilapidated.
This week, after hearing how Robin Williams died, I found myself flipping through old journals, looking for the poem I wrote when I was 18. The one where I tried to understand why my sister had attempted suicide (the first time).
It’s an angry poem.
Why did you try to steal the time when we were little?
Now I’m almost embarrassed at my anger. Did I have any compassion? I hug you anyway.
I’m nervous talking/blogging about this subject. I feel it’s not my story to tell. My sister and I haven’t talked about this. Not now, not ever, that I remember. We (as a family) just didn’t. Even though all of us struggled with our own darkness.
On the other hand, I’ve made it a point to talk about depression and suicide with my children. I’ve even probably gone a bit overboard at times, carting my thirteen year old daughter off to a therapist when she dramatically screamed, I hate you, I want to die.
Hey she was my first teenager…and I didn’t want to take any chances.
Depression can be dangerous. It’s dark, often hidden. Oh and how it thrives in those secluded corners.
Depression I understand. That’s part of my story too. But it’s hard to talk about.
It’s a disease. There shouldn’t be shame attached to something that happens with our brain chemistry. Hey, did anyone shun me when I blew up the sulfur in chem lab my junior year? No, it was a mistake. Even the intimidating Sister Dolores didn’t yell at me.
It sucks to feel your lightness abandoning you. And it feels even worse when you think that because it’s in your thoughts, you ought to be responsible for pushing that darkness out.
Ask for help.
My sister and I may have joked about those dilapidated, abandoned houses. But maybe now I smile because I see them as hope. There’s a strength that lies beneath.
And they’re still standing.
Three years ago today I crossed the bridge from blog reader to blogger.
Cornish-Windsor covered bridge, Vermont (and New Hampshire)
I was scared, but I had a plan when I published my first post, There’s No Place Like the Prairie.
I wanted to create my author-ly space here on the internet (aka author platform),
A place to hang my quirky creative brand hat
not that I could define it at the time
Mini me wearing one of my first quirky hats
Oh and I didn’t have expectations
or, if I did, I didn’t know what publishing my thoughts, my books, my photos (hey an audience that doesn’t require a family room and a slide projector!) would actually feel like.
Some of my 1,095 Hey I’m a writer! days were pretty awesome
Flower garden at Trapp Family Lodge (the family that inspired The Sound of Music!!)
Others, kinda droopy. Seriously.
I like how Kate over at 4amwriter summed up the droop-tastic feeling:
Enter courage (well, after some tears, some dessert, and a perusal of the classifieds).
The Trapp Family lodge in Stowe, Vermont makes an impressive first impression.
Okay, so courage doesn’t always make a dramatic entrance. Some days courage is one word, one tiny doodle, one smile.
And some days it’s just not quitting.
The creative life needs courage.
Our heads are not just in the clouds, we’re weaving fluffy, silver lined couture garments.
Yeah. Vulnerability is NOT EASY.
In fact, the image from my blog that has been pinned the most is this one:
Oh and my mom’s cream cheese cookie recipe is not trailing far behind.
Some of you may have guessed barns.
Barn nestled on mountain overlooking the village of Stowe.
By the way, thanks to Clay Watkins for tweeting me about his own barn finds!
But I’ll take courage and cookies (and supportive friends like YOU).
They’re great companions for climbing mountains.
Even if you can’t quite make out the mountain. Yet.
Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.
~Rodgers & Hammerstein, The Sound of Music
How are you mustering courage, or climbing mountains? Or just tell me your thoughts on cookies. I’d love to know.
Ariella (a six year old Brown Swiss cow at Shelburne Farms in Vermont) does…
…about eight gallons a day.
This is a sheep, but she was a total ham. #smile
Oh that moment, right before you leap.
At Shelburne Farms they let you lead the chickens back to the coop.
I could use some corralling when it comes to hanging out on the Internet.
Someone takes their job seriously. This chicken probably never procrastinates.
Back stage after the show.
On the road again. So many barns…
But this was something new!
According to a friend on Instagram, this is a lamplighter bicycle.
How do you stop without falling??
Burlington, VT also has the world’s tallest filing cabinet.
Takes organization to new heights.
Tall rocks make up Burlington’s Earth Clock
We saw beautiful views of Lake Champlain (and the Adirondack mountains in the distance).
We did not see Champ, the lake’s resident monster.
Oh well, maybe next time.
Have you seen (or been on) a lamplighter bicycle? What interesting roadside attractions have you found?
Next time: The hills are alive in Stowe, Vermont!
My road trip smile.
First stop: Staten Island, NY to visit dear daughter. This is the view of the Statue of Liberty from the ferry.
Frugal road trippers take note: the Staten Island ferry is FREE!
dodged lots of tourists and bicycles walked the Brooklyn Bridge with our daughter.
After a night as guests in our child’s teeny tiny but oh so cute studio apartment, my hub and I headed north.
If my phone’s camera could roll its eyes (lens?) it would’ve after the many shots I took of barns and silos.
Copake Falls, New York.
This is where the northernmost section of Taconic State Park is located.
You have to walk to Massachusetts to get to Bash Bish Falls.
Note to frugal walkers: this is 3/4 mile from the New York (Taconic state park) lot.
Lots of dragonflies at the falls. Always nice to make new friends.
There’s also lots of stairs.
Bash Bish Falls–the highest single-drop waterfall in Massachusetts.
Bash Bish–try to say that three times fast.
Another new hiking pal.
Stayed tuned: Next up,
more barns Vermont!!
Meet my new guru!
We met last weekend at Crabtree Falls in George Washington National Forest.
Just in time, because tomorrow marks the summer solstice here in the Northern hemisphere.
For me, June has always meant it’s time to slow down a bit. Maybe because the majority of my years have been defined by school and summer break. I realized today, that there’s only been a handful of summers that were not sandwiched between school years (either for me or my kids).
Anyway, it’s summer, and I’m back in snail mode.
Snail mode is not really a physical pace (although it can be). Here it’s more of a mind-set.
I’m going to be less concerned with the overwhelming, the never-ending measuring stick, and more in tune with
The Art of Chasing Normal and dozens of great reads are only .99 this weekend! Just click on the image to get to the Summer Book Crush site.
Oh and forget perfectionism. I’ve got more important passengers.
And I’m taking a deep breath of gratitude for where I am right now.
What does summer (or the change of seasons) mean to you?