Category Archives: Guest Writers & Bloggers

Guest Poet, Sue Lobo

11136680_749463021821443_2489833491478305154_nSue Lobo is the author of five books of her poetry & one of her childhood in the African bush, called “Lollipops of Dust,” her autobiography of a child´s view of living in colonial Africa, in the Kalahari desert, with all the magic of what the old Africa had to offer. She has also participated in ten poetry anthologies with other very talented poets & has won poetry competitions in Gibraltar & Spain. She is married to a Spaniard, with two grown sons & presently lives in Spain. Her book of poetry about death & dying called “The Last Dance” has been used to comfort the bereaved in hospices & also used at funerals. Her book of animal poetry called “Wild Whisperings” was written to generate funds for the International Save The Rhino Fund. Her latest work called “I Am Woman” is all about women & their struggles & plight in many countries of the world, but also reflecting on their joy & beauty in every age of womanhood.

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LEST WE FORGET:

In the sadness of war, of only man´s sick making,

Leaving death, destruction & our sad earth quaking,

We now sadly remember, all those whom have died,

Every man from every nation, no matter what side.

 

But let´s not forget, the feathers, fins, hooves & the paws,

Innocent friends with no choices, we sent into our wars,

The silent creatures who fought for whatever the cause,

Not understanding man´s reasoning for fighting sad wars.

 

Dolphins, pigeons, brave equines & not forgetting the dogs,

Taken to far oceans, air, hot deserts & to muddy cold bogs,

These poor creatures who died, without knowing the game,

Let us pay homage to them & say “I´m so sorry,” in shame.

POETRY BY – SUE LOBO ©:   /|\   (PHOTOGRAPHY WITH PERMISSION GRANTED, BY THE VERY TALENTED – Lili SaatchiCemetery of staglieno and more)

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SLOW DANCE ME:

My life on earth is near on done, so please,
Slow dance me through the corridors of time,
Through mists where the satin moths waltz,
Tiptoe me through forests where Druids gather,
Where I can hear the silent melody of the moon,
The echo of wistful whisperings of woeful witches,
Take my very old hand of life´s learnt wisdom, and
Lead me through silken webs of spiders long gone,
To the waterfalls where the coloured birds sing,
To where the eagle soars & the lion roars,
Slow dance me high to clouds above, where
Pegasus flies, & dragons wink their red hot love,
Sing me songs of days gone by & tell me pretty tales,
Let me smell those intoxicating perfumes, of
Jasmine & rose, & of scents I yet don’t know,
Slow dance me to the end of a life well lived, and
Let me hear the voice of god as I take my final bow,
Slow dance me please, for my time is done.
POETRY BY – SUE LOBO ©:   /|\   (PHOTOGRAPHY WITH PERMISSION GRANTED, BY THE VERY TALENTED – Lili SaatchiCemetery of staglieno and more)

 

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MATRIARCHS:

Why did I not listen to them, so wise,
those matriarchs of my folk, my clan, my tribe?
When they foresaw & warned, I just laughed & scorned
at their words, & waltzed out the door, whilst,
they told of the reasons, the wherefores & the whys.

I hear their voices in the wind & the rain,
I see their faces in sun, stars & moon,
I now live their words of warning & scorn,
It´s too late now, but it´s a lesson well learned,
If only we could all start over again.

Their foreboding came true, every wise word,
they´ve long gone away, to other realms far afield,
Their words tormenting my every wrong deed,
too late now, & so sorry am I, that
I walked out the door leaving words unheard.

POETRY BY – SUE LOBO ©:   /|\   (PHOTOGRAPHY WITH PERMISSION GRANTED, BY THE VERY TALENTED – Lili SaatchiCemetery of staglieno and more)

 

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SUMMER CHILD:

Latticed shadows echo upon sun dappled cheek,

Tiny black minnows nibble toes down by the creek,

Wending fluffed clouds are angels merely disguised,

Hankied white gulls pinned upon lapels of blue skies,

Rosy peached lips dripping juicy with childhood smiles,

Nut-skinned brown knees clambering over mossy stiles,

Laughter gaily heard through cool green forest glades,

As you go tripping through lilacs my pretty little maid,

Gritty little bare feet, dirty-earthy & so muddily free,

The wild beasts your friends & your mentors the trees,

Your tight little fists clutching joy & fields full of flowers,

Paddling in splashing brooks for many summer hours,

Breeze brushed hair as tussled as the errant soft fern,

And peeping through the brambles, Puck, Pan & Herne,

Ladybirds, dragonflies, butterflies & soft velveteen bees,

Join in your games of tickle, chase & the laughing tease,

Lemon scented lollipop melting on small eager tongue,

Herb perfumed fingers spin stones where bees once sung,

Skipping through red berry juice & plunging into streams,

Your joyful childish laughter echoes in summer day screams.

POETRY BY – SUE LOBO © /|\
Photo for the poem “Summer Child” (Photography shared from Xavier Lobo © – my son)

 

BOOKS:

Africa My Africa – poetry – (Now out of print)

Wild Whisperings – poetry – CTU Publishing Group & Amazon

The Last Dance – poetry – CTU Publishing Group & Amazon

I Am Woman – poetry – CTU Publishing Group & Amazon

Lollipops Of Dust – Autobiography – (Available from Woodfieldpublishing.co.uk & Amazon)

ANTHOLOGIES:

Available from CTU Publishing Group & Amazon

Love, A Four Letter Word, Divided Lines, Poetic Melodies, and Women of the World

Poets With Voices Strong – Autumn Poetry – published by Brian Wrixton & available from Blurb):

Awaken To A Dream –The International Library Of Poetry (out of print)

The Golden Seed – Slippery Jack Press, UK

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Emmett Russell, Furniture Maker and Metal Sculpturist

IMG_3095I found Emmett Russell on a Facebook site for metal art (the same place I found recently featured blog guest Tim Shoemaker, the dragon sculpture guy).

Emmett is so much more than metal art. His website says “custom products,” and he creates custom furniture, sculpture, clocks, and other home furnishings and fixtures.

From his website: Tell me what you want, and I will build it.

I love Emmett’s work, and I asked him to appear here on the blog.

A little background

What a playhouse!

What a playhouse!

Emmett Russell has worked in manufacturing since he was 19. He grew up surrounded by a brother and friends who were building cars and motorcycles. He bought his first motorcycle at 20.

While working and welding, fabricating, and in assembly, he was breaking down the motorcycle and rebuilding it, making modifications to its styling.

IMG_2166This is where it all started.

Emmett has built custom parts. He’s built cabinets for motorhomes. He’s been a team captain in building entire motorhomes. He calls himself a modern day artist/fabricator.

Emmett’s business-owning mom was a big influence for him – she’d buy run-down homes and would re-build and clean them up and sell them. He remodeled his own home (admitting he made a lot of mistakes).IMG_2731

Emmett is married to Nancy, they have three kids, and currently live in Columbia, MO. Back in 2002, his wife contracted a rare eye disease, all while remodeling their own home, running a day care, and having to travel eight hours twice a week for cornea transplants and subsequent, painful follow-up care.

IMG_3004The Russell family has experienced many challenges. Son Ethan had kidney failure and had to have a transplant (received from his mom). He also has autism. Daughter Emma was later diagnosed with the same kidney disease as Ethan, has had kidney failure, and is waiting for a transplant. The family had to move several times to be near the medical care they needed.

Through all the moves, wife Nancy was taking online classes and Emmett started a home improvement business with just a welder and some basic tools.

Emmett says, “I had always dreamed of working out of my garage and making cool things but didn’t know if I could ever do it. I have been busy since the third day we moved here and haven’t stopped. Home improvement has paid the bills and helped me improve my tooling for my custom fabrication I am so driven to do. Our goal is for me to have a shop at home so Nancy can have a career and I can take care of Ethan while she is at work.”IMG_2967

What influences does Emmett have?

“My older brother Tony has been the biggest influence on me. I have always wanted to be talented like him. He kept me near when he was doing projects and always answered questions.

My wife Nancy has always been behind me in my art and my dream. She handles the kids and the house when she is home so I can work in the garage.

My mother has been a huge support and influence. Mom thought me to never give up! She taught me my work ethic and how to talk to people as a professional. Mom has always had her own business, and in the last few years she has funded a lot of my projects. She said she wanted the playhouse caboose (pictured). After it was done I felt like I could build anything I wanted. It looked just like I envisioned it. That gave me confidence. Since then she has funded a few others and it has helped me grow tremendously.”

Want to see more?

Visit Emmett on his website at www.russellbilt.com. Email at russellbilt@yahoo.com.

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21 Steps to Twitter Love, by J. J. Brown

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Elizabeth and JJ at Word Sharks Conference

From Karen…

Back in June, I met with long-time online friends in Newark, DE, for the first-ever Word Sharks Conference. In attendance – J.J. Brown, Elizabeth Cottrell, Pamela Wight, Jessica Pettengill Messinger, and Barbara Forte Abate.

Since then, we have stayed in touch sharing blogs we like, having book discussions, and sharing other resources and insights.

Out of one of those conversations came some fantastic insight into Twitter by J.J. Brown. She shared her philosophy and advice on how she uses Twitter. I thought it was so good, I called “dibs” on sharing it in a blog.

Welcome, J.J.!

* * *

Article by J. J. Brown

I love twitter because it is a free and open conversation that’s so fast-moving. Twitter is quite famous for NOT being a place to sell books or much of anything else. So, I don’t have advice about how to use twitter to sell books.

Being active on twitter is a wonderful way to meet writers and readers, and exchange thoughts on the writing process and story ideas, as well as inspiration. And once in a while I get a tweet asking to review a book of mine, or to be interviewed on a blog, or submit a post for a website, or a story to an anthology, which is fun.

I can’t count the many interesting people I’ve met and shared views with on twitter, and sometimes later in-person as friends (none of whom were creepy).

21 rules I apply loosely, depending on how much time I have are:

How to tweet:

  • Be interesting and super brief; don’t repeat identical tweets.
  • Talk about yourself and the books you’ve written, but not ALL of the time, just sometimes.
  • Post provocative things about writing, about your books, and the news – things people react to.
  • Share other writers, artists, and thinkers works, at a good ratio. Tweeting 5 of others’ things then 1 of yours works well.
  • Use a photo in your original tweet so more people will see it. This magnifies your reach because more people look at pictures than words, even on twitter.
  • Tweet quotes from famous authors or artists who inspire you, just to share the joy.
  • After you tweet something original or important, stay on a few minutes to respond to any replies.
  • Retweet things others post that you think need a broader audience because they’re great, funny, or important.
  • Say something insightful about any link you share on twitter, don’t just hit the Tweet button though it’s tempting.

How to interact:

  • When someone tweets your work or retweets you, thank them via direct message (which is private) or tweet (which is public).
  • When people react to you, tweet back like a conversation. It hurts to be ignored there like in any conversation.
  • Never argue on twitter. Yes, sometimes a person will be mean to you. Ignore them. Praise, or add a new thought, or brood away silently.
  • Use #amwriting (for insights, personal progress) #amreading (for reviews) and other hashtags to enter writer’s conversations, then respond when people join your thought stream.
  • Follow people who follow, retweet, or comment to you, IF you’re interested in their twitter feed.
  • Don’t follow people who offer to buy twitter followers or increase your reach. That is kind of spammy messy stuff I don’t get into at all.
  • Seduce people you’re most interested in on twitter, tastefully, by retweeting and commenting on their tweets.
  • Think of the new contacts as friends and connections, not followers or fans.

How not to drown in the twitter stream:

  • Don’t look at your live stream, it’s a jungle in a thunderstorm.
  • Make lists of groups like writers, editors, publishers, artists to organize your new friends.
  • Do look at your lists’ tweets, your favorite people’s tweets, and any hashtags trending on that day that stimulate you.
  • Keep an eye on the clock. I limit my twitter socializing to about 30 minutes on a free day, 10 minutes on a busy one.

I hope this is helpful. I started on twitter about three years ago, when I started publishing books. At first, I was baffled. Now I love it. But I keep it to short doses. And only log on when I’m in a pretty good mood.

***

JJ BROWNJennifer J. Brown, PhD, is an editor at EverydayHealth.com by day, and writer of books and short stories by night. She completed a PhD in genetics and worked as a research scientist for 20 years before turning to writing. In her fiction writing, she is obsessed with exploring death and the meaning of dreams. Published author of seven books as J.J. Brown, she was born in the Catskill Mountains of New York and lives in New York City.

Find out more about J.J. Brown’s book news at her author website.

Death and the Dream. Short storiesDeathandDreamCover

Vector A Modern Love Story. Novel9780983821137

The Doctor’s Dreams. Novella

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J.J.’s Facebook author page

Twitter 

 

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5 Myths about Writing for Children, with author Chris Eboch

Write for Children 6.69x9.61 CoverArticle by Chris Eboch. 

Remember the magic of bedtime stories? When you write for children, you have the most appreciative audience in the world. My new book You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers will take a beginner through the process – or help a more experienced writer fine-tune their work. But a lot of myths get shared or assumed when it comes to writing for children. Here are some of them, with adapted excerpts from the book to tell the truth.

Myth 1: Writing for children means writing picture books or teen novels.

Most Kid Lit authors start out wanting to write either picture books or novels, but the market doesn’t end there. Schools and libraries need nonfiction books for all ages. Easy Reader books are designed to help kids learn to read. They use simple vocabularies and short sentences, appropriate to a particular reading level.

Magazines publish articles, short stories, poems, crafts, and activities. You may find it easier to break in with a magazine piece than with a book manuscript, and some authors find regular work in magazines. If you are fairly new to modern children’s lit, study magazines for a good overview. The Cricket Magazine Group is a great place to start. They publish 14 magazines. Some are fiction and some are nonfiction, and they cover age ranges from birth to teen. You can read an online sample of each magazine on their website.

The truth is, writing for children covers a broad range of styles, topics, lengths, and age ranges.

Myth 2: Children’s books should be cute, sweet, and gentle.

Cute and sweet have their place, but not if it’s sappy or talking down to kids. And serious topics have their place as well.

Serious topics can be addressed in different ways, depending on the audience age. For example, the picture book Oskar and Klaus: The Search for Bigfoot was inspired by two real-life cats, one blind, the other a scarred former stray. Blind Klaus uses his other senses to find the way on their adventure. Laurie Thompson is the author of Emmanuel’s Dream, illustrated by Sean Qualls, an inspirational picture book biography. It tells the true story of a young man with only one leg who bicycled across Ghana. Books like these inspire young children as they see characters overcoming adversity to have adventures.

Books for older readers can tackle more challenging subjects. Silent to the Bone, by E. L. Konigsburg, is a mystery where the main character tries to find out the truth about his best friend, who is accused of abusing his baby sister and sent to a Juvenile Behavioral Center, where he can’t or won’t speak. Although the book deals with difficult issues, it’s shown through the best friend’s view as he investigates the story. This slight distance from the trauma, and the exciting mystery plot, make the novel accessible to the average middle grade reader (aged 9-12).

For teen readers, anything goes. Ellen Hopkins is well-known for her edgy, young adult novels, which tackle tough subjects such as drug addiction (Crank) and teen prostitution (Tricks), using a series of poems. While many adults are shocked at how dark some teen books are, Hopkins’s books are bestsellers. More importantly, she gets incredible fan mail from teens thanking her for helping them deal with issues in their own lives, or the lives of friends and relatives.

Myth 3: That cute thing my child or grandchild did would make a good story.

Ideas are everywhere, including in our own lives. However, even the most exciting events may lack important story qualities such as character growth and strong plots. (These topics are covered in You Can Write for Children.)

Still, personal and family experiences can provide the raw material to be molded into publishable stories and articles. Even if a specific episode doesn’t make for a good story, the emotions you experience can give power to fiction. Highlights for Children Senior Editor Joëlle Dujardin says, “Past events that stick with you are probably memorable in large part due to your emotional response to them. Try to capture some of this feeling in your story without tying yourself to the events as they actually happened.”

You can “borrow” stories from history and the news as well. I found an interesting tidbit in a history of Washington State. A teenage boy had met bank robbers in the woods, and for some reason he told nobody about them. Why? This question, and my imagined answers to it, became my YA survival suspense Bandits Peak.bandits_peak_500x800

Myth 4: Children’s stories are a chance to teach moral lessons.

Children read for fun, not a lecture, so you shouldn’t end your stories with obvious morals. The message should come out through the story itself, from the thoughts and actions of the main character, and what she learned from the experience. Instead, many beginning writers make their theme too obvious. Perhaps an adult character scolds the child, telling him how he should have behaved. Or the writer flatly states the moral at the end, like an Aesop’s fable. Don’t do that. Keep the message subtle.

All stories have themes, but when someone asks you about a mystery you read, you’re probably not going to say, “It was a story about how crime doesn’t pay.” Rather, you’ll talk about the exciting plot, the fascinating characters, perhaps even the unusual setting. A story’s message should be subtle, no matter the audience age.

Myth 5: You won’t make any money off of writing for children, or it’s a quick and easy way to make money.

This is a funny myth, because it swings in both directions. Neither is true. It is possible to make money writing for children. Some people even make a modest living from writing. However, if you want to get rich quick, then writing – especially writing for children – is not the way to do it. You might as well play the lottery or try to get on one of those talent TV shows.

But there are other reasons to write. Perhaps you want to record family stories or write down some of the bedtime stories you told your children or grandchildren. Maybe you enjoy the creative expression of developing stories. Maybe you have ideas, thoughts, messages, or entire worlds to share.

You get to choose your goals when it comes to writing. But if you want to reach young people, you need to write fresh, dynamic stories, whether you’re writing rhymed picture books, middle grade mysteries, edgy teen novels, nonfiction, or something else.

 

Learn all about writing for young people in You Can Write for Children: A Guide to Writing Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers.

  • How to explore the wide variety of age ranges, genres, and styles in writing stories, articles and books for young people.
  • How to find ideas.
  • How to develop an idea into a story, article, or book.
  • The basics of character development, plot, setting, and theme – and some advanced elements.
  • How to use point of view, dialogue, and thoughts.
  • How to edit your work and get critiques.
  • Where to learn more on various subjects.

Order for Kindle, in paperback, or in Large Print paperback.

Photo by Sonya Sones

Photo by Sonya Sones

Chris Eboch writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages, with over 30 books for children. HerEyesOfPharaoh 280 x 448 novels for ages nine and up include The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; Bandits Peak, a survival story, and the Haunted series, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children and Advanced Plotting. Learn more at www.chriseboch.com or her Amazon page, or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog. Sign up for her workshop newsletter for classes and critique offers.

 

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Tim Shoemaker, Metal Sculpturist

IMG_0005I found Tim Shoemaker through a mutual friend – she knew I liked dragons and she shared a picture of Tim’s dragon sculptures with me. I am now the proud owner of two metal dragon sculptures.

Tim Shoemaker grew up in Sterling Heights, Michigan, the fourth of five boys. He is now married with two grown children, a married daughter who lives nearby and a boy who works and goes to college.

Welding is his business, and Tim’s foray into creating metal sculptures “seemed to make sense.” Tim is especially proud of his Bald Eagle, Rooster, Lionfish, and the Horse.10525703_10203653081441550_5008572376896355533_n-2

Originally working out of a rented commercial space, Tim now has a shop at his home. He hand forms, cuts, shapes, grinds, and MIG welds his pieces. He is inspired by nature.

(MIG welding is a process in which an electric arc forms between a consumable wire electrode and the metal work piece that heats the pieces causing them to melt and adhere.)

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11165127_1021136917920101_6816914233529938790_oTim Shoemaker was born in Detroit. He began drawing at an early age –   always “doodling” – and dreamed of one day becoming an artist. Throughout his childhood, art class was his favorite subject in school. As he got into his teenage years, his interest turned in the direction of shopwork, metal, and welding. After high school, Tim served a three-year term in the U. S. Army. Since then he has worked in many areas of construction and maintenance. In 1999, he decided to go into business on his own, and started running a portable welding service. Now Tim has a shop where he combines his natural artistic talent with his welding and metalsmithing skills. He creates unique pieces of ornamental ironwork and welded metal sculptures.

Find more of Tim’s fabulous metal sculptures on his Facebook page.

You can contact Tim at tim@eclipseweld.com.

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An interview with Rick Heit, epic photographer

Karen Sanderson and Elliotts (10)When my original family photographer cancelled on me at the last minute (after having the appointment on the books for months!), I was scrambling for a replacement photographer. One of the gals in my MSU coffee break crew suggested Rick Heit. I checked him out online, contacted him, and made the appointment.

How happy I am now that the original photographer cancelled on me!

Welcome, Rick Heit!

A little background from Rick…

I grew up in Minot as the second oldest of six children. My father was an accomplished artist who drew many realistic pictures that I enjoyed looking at and studying. My mother loved crocheting. Their creativity rubbed off on all of their children. We all loved creating things and showing them off to the family. While we all tried to one up each other, we were very supportive and excited by what the others were making. It was the perfect setting to grow and imagine.

Work history…

My first job out of college was at the Social Security Administration. I enjoyed helping people, but I longed to do more than the often repetitive tasks the job entailed. I got a second degree in PR/Advertising/Broadcasting and went to work at an advertising agency as a graphic designer. I transitioned from that job to Minot State University where I work in the marketing office doing photography, videography, web content and social media. I’m working in my sixth year.

Wedding Night Kiss copyAbout family…

This August, my wife Erin and I will celebrate our tenth anniversary. We have three precocious and highly imaginative daughters ranging in age from 3 to 7.

Do you remember any of your early photos, perhaps one that spoke to you?

I remember my first camera. I found a camera that I could afford as a seven or eight year old on my allowance of $3 every two weeks. I was beyond excited. My parents took me to the zoo so I could try out this glorious new toy. We developed the film and the majority of them were blurry or poorly framed and I thought, I’m really no good at this. But I’ve always been an optimist so I thought, “I bet I just need more practice.” I wanted to take pictures of the family, but my mother informed me that it would be impossible. I thought she was just being difficult or too busy to pose. She informed me that I’d never be able to take pictures with that camera again because it was a disposable camera. After finding out how much a “reusable” camera was, I lost interest in photography.

Are you self taught or have you taken a bunch of photography classes?Karen Sanderson and Elliotts (12)

I’m completely self taught in photography and mostly self taught at Photoshop. I had one computer graphics class at Minot State University.

What prompted you to start your own business?

I’ve always thought it would be fun to be an entrepreneur. My lemonade stand and spring blossoms from trees stands were colossal failures, but that didn’t diminish my desire. I’ve never wanted to own a business full time though as it carries too many risks and stresses. I had been making fun family pictures of my family for a few years in my spare time. My photography business started once I realized that I could make money on my hobby. It’s actually my third job as I also get paid to exercise by delivering a paper route every morning.

Karen Sanderson and Elliotts (14)Who or what is your favorite subject?

I’m drawn to pretty much anything that captures my imagination and gets me really thinking about how to do something eye popping. Sometimes that comes in the form of putting people into a futuristic setting, a spy/adventurer theme, I’ve done Minecraft, Legend of Zelda. There are just so many fun worlds to explore and put myself or others into.

My favorite subject is my kids who have been in Tron, The Last Airbender, and my favorite, Tinkerbell and her fairy friends.

Do you inspire your subjects or do your subjects inspire you?

Most of the time I have a crazy idea in my head and I’ll ask my subject if it’s something they’d like to do. So far I haven’t been turned down for any of my pitches. I do enjoy when clients suggest something as well. I’m not afraid to try pretty much anything.

Other than people, what subjects inspire you? Nature, scenery, wildlife?

I’d really like to do more nature and scenery photos, but Epic Photography takes up a lot of time.

What motivated you to start the background Photoshop stuff for your epic photos?My Transformer

When I had my senior pictures taken I thought it was really cool that the photographer took the pictures out of his own house and got paid pretty decent money. I saw how much fun he was having and I thought, “This is something I could get into.” When I found out how saturated the photography market was I gave up on that idea. I didn’t want to compete with a bunch of other people that were all really good and all doing basically the same thing.

That started to change ten years ago when I was walking through Barnes and Noble and saw a book that taught how to do Photoshop tricks like making a person look like a living tree, set a saxophone on fire, etc. That book looked awesome and I bought it immediately. The first three pictures I Photoshopped were adding a rainbow to one of my wedding photos, turning a day shot into a night shot, and adding snow to a photo of the Bahamas from our honeymoon. They’re all awful. But at the time I was amazed by Photoshop’s power and I was hooked. I practiced for a few more years. When I turned my car into a transformer and my wife and I into Borg from Star Trek, I started to feel like I was getting really good at this. Looking back now they were kind of laughable as well.

Family Borg Photo 2It wasn’t for a few more years before I felt like I was good enough that people might actually pay me to do this. At that point I knew I had my nitch to break into the highly competitive photography field and do something that no one else in Minot was offering. So I decided to open a composite photography business.

Rick and Erin, paying it forward with Sharing Smiles Sharing Smiles

There are more ways to light up someone’s face than just making them look even more amazing in a sweet photo. Frankly, as fun as that is, there are more important, and just as fun ways, to perk up the corners of someone’s mouth. Every month Rick Heit Photography does what we call Sharing Smiles. We try to brighten someone’s day through volunteering, service, or some kind of give away. So far we’ve done a cash scavenger hunt, and for Christmas, we asked for nominations and gave away $100 to someone that’s having a rough time and who goes out of their way to help others.

Up next – I want to do some panhandling and donate whatever I receive to the homeless (I have to see if I might get arrested for panhandling before I do that), and I want to go to a fast food drive-thru and pay for the next-in-line person’s dinner. Then I want to keep cycling through the drive-thru for 30 minutes to an hour doing it over and over again to see how many people we can get to pay it forward.

Rick[1]How prospective clients can contact you

As creative as my pictures are, the name of my business is extremely boring. I can be reached at rickheitphotography@gmail.com or 1-701-822-3232.

See Rick at his website – Rick Heit Photography – or on Facebook.

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A little push for “Painted From Memories”

Barbara Forte Abate PFMY’all know I worked with Barbara Forte Abate on her “Painted From Memories.” I feel so strongly about this novel, I have been assisting with the promotion of it.

Reviews

A great way to get the word out about your novel is to give the book away to a handful of people who will write a review (hopefully a good one!). Elizabeth H. Cottrell of Heartspoken.com writes wonderful, in-depth reviews about the books she reads.

Read Elizabeth’s “Painted From Memories” review.

Interviews

Another good way to get your novel into the hands of others is to participate in author interviews.

Shells Walter posted a great interview with Barbara Forte Abate on her Shells Interviews blog.

With Shells’ permission, I am sharing that interview below.

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Could you please briefly tell the readers what “Painted from Memories” is about?

Catherine is the emotionally fractured casualty of a hideous childhood tragedy, and yet she’s found happy-ever-after in the person of Grayson Barnett. With the promise of a freshly polished future in her grasp, she feels compelled to bury the poisonous trail of her past beneath the purposeful lies and omissions she offers her new husband.

Now, with the inherent shame of her traumatic history secreted away and losing hold, Cat finds herself increasingly troubled as Gray falls into an erratic pattern of late night wanderings through the house, painting the bare walls with extravagant murals. And only when the unthinkable happens—a devastating blow which leaves her broken and spiraling, and an unexpected arrival on her doorstep, bearing a cache of impossible revelations—is Cat forced to question whether the man she so desperately loves is in truth a stranger, and their beautiful life a gross falsehood constructed upon a foundation of lies.

Catherine seems like a very layered character. Where did the idea of her character come about?

Cat is a composite of several people who have passed through my life and left a mark. While I purposely steer away from writing anything autobiographic, it would be a big fat festering lie to say Cat exists only in fiction. She is determined and strong, yet vulnerable and weak. She is as deeply conflicted even as she is resolute. A survivor without her consent. The more she evolved over the progression of the book, the more I felt I knew her. I absolutely loved writing her and was fully absorbed in worrying how things would turn out for her!

What did you find the most difficult when writing “Painted from Memories?”

Getting the words right! How to write a story with characters who love one another madly, yet without truly knowing each other? Who are equally strong and, purposeful, yet deeply vulnerable. As passionately as Cat cherishes her future with Gray, there is the inescapable awareness that she has, and continues to be, dishonest and deceptive. And so was the quandary of how to convey all of this while keeping these characters sympathetic and inherently likeable.

There seems to be a lesson in this story. How do you feel this would help women who may be in this same situation?

Can anyone hope to build their own “happy ever after” on a foundation of carefully placed falsehoods? Cat created what she believed to be a perfect life with Gray by purposely omitting all those things she believed too hideous to reveal. It’s pretty much saying that as much as she cherished his love for her, she didn’t trust it as being true or durable. Real love is honest love. Many, if not all of us, carry around a quietly concealed box of secrets, but it’s the big things we keep hidden under the stairs that can emotionally cripple. Cat holds to the erroneous conviction that certain stains on her history have left her hideously flawed—a lie that is altogether counterfeit to the promise and purpose of real love.

If you had one thing you wanted readers to get after reading “Painted from Memories,” what would it be?

That we’re never as alone as we sometimes believe we are. There are experiences in life that can leave us feeling very isolated, hideously damaged, or eternally soiled. But life’s unfortunate events do not necessarily define us. Truth, honestly, love, trust … these are the things we can claim and in turn offer. Unconditional love—what an awesome gift to give another person.

Where can readers buy “Painted from Memories?”

Barbara Forte Abate

Barbara Forte Abate

“Painted from Memories” is available in print from your favorite online retailers, or can be ordered through brick and mortar booksellers. The eBook is exclusive to Amazon—but only for a short while—after which you’ll find it hanging out in all the other places where books are sold.

Are there any future works you would like to share with the readers?

I am currently weeding through notebooks scribbled to bursting with a tangle of ideas—so I’m still percolating the next book. I do wish I was a faster writer, but I’m more the tortoise than the hare.

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Shells Walter reviews

Shells Walter, author of horror and bizarro, does writer interviews at her blog, Shells Interviews. To contact Shells about interviews, click here. Her interest in learning more about Jack the Ripper has found her in many a site and involved in many adventures.

 

 

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