Category Archives: Guest Writers & Bloggers

Amazing feather art with Chris Maynard


When I first saw Chris Maynard’s feather art, I was dumbfounded. I scrolled through his galleries…amazing!

I contacted Chris and asked for an interview and he agreed. So here we go…


How long have you been creating your art with feathers?

Since I was 12. It’s evolved of course. Ten years ago I picked up the pace and began photographing them and creating photo-composites with an eye toward the biology of the birds. I still do that, but I also like to incorporate the feathers themselves.

Impeyan Monal Pheasant

Impeyan Monal Pheasant

Do you pick a feather and see the image, or do you design the image and then pick a feather?

Good question. A lot of both. Feathers are limited in size, shape, and color, so not many feathers lend themselves to a design I am developing. Usually, the larger feathers work best, and I like it best when the feather is from the same bird I am portraying. That doesn’t work too well for small birds, like hummingbirds or songbirds. There is also the concern of legality, so I have to rule out using many feathers from particular birds.


Evening Rush Hour

Without giving away any secrets, how do you create your art and shadow boxes?

It starts with a feeling for either a particular bird or the meaning we or I give to feathers – like exuberant flight. I make lots of sketches and if one looks promising, refine the sketch. Often I have a particular feather in mind, but if not, I go on a search, looking for size, structure, pattern, color. This can take quite a while to obtain the right feather, but I also have a good stock of certain kinds, like Argus pheasant wing feathers. I then prepare the feathers using a process I have developed and refined over the years.

I use a small surgical knife to cut the feathers which can take quite a while and be detailed enough to require magnifying glasses or even sometimes, a stereo microscope. Then I prepare the background which is usually just pure white to enhance the shadow effect and not take away from the feathers themselves. The spacing of the feathers is as important as in any design exercise in order to create a feeling of movement, unity, and hopefully, intrigue and surprise. I use different kinds of glues to attach the feathers to the background, always leaving a little space between the feather and the background to create shadows and keep the feather’s 3-D form.


Eat Robin

I first saw your art with bird images. Then I visited your website and found dragons. Are you working on other animals or subjects for your feather art?

Mostly birds because this is all about honoring them and respecting them through feathers. So I had to tie the thought of feathers to dragons which I did in a poem – it was actually elicited by a woman who was promoting my work through two children’s books – she asked me to do it. I like tying the symbolism and imagery of dragons to that of feathers. They work well together.


Crow Caw

I was reading through your blogs and realized you write about different bird feathers and how you collect them. How do you find all these feathers?

Zoos and private aviaries. Many of the birds whose feathers I use are still alive. I ask my contacts to pick up feathers and sometimes they do but everyone is so busy that it is very rare that they have time to pick up the smaller ones. So if a pet bird or aviary bird dies, sometimes they save the feathers for me. I have my own pair of Impeyan pheasants, the national bird of Nepal. They are molting now, and I pick up every one of their feathers. I went hiking outside Mt. Rainier NP yesterday and found where something had killed a grouse. I gathered the tail feathers and stuck one in my hat. People sometimes write to me and ask if I would like or could use feathers they have for my art.

Baby Grouse

Baby Grouse

Would you like to include few tidbits about the protected peacock, the color from the Turaco, other interesting observations?

I like the idea of a national bird being something other than an eagle because it expands my thoughts to different possibilities of how a country could respond and act in global politics. If politicians and negotiators could expand their thinking using different imagery, they would have a larger repertoire of responses to different situations – an eagle being more appropriate in one, a peacock in another.

(See Chris’s post about the peacock and did you know you could get color from the Turaco feather?)

You have a photo portfolio for sale in prints and cards. Tell us about those.

I sell open editions through my website. They are inexpensive, more affordable if the originals are too dear.


Grey Peacock Pheasant Feather Hand

You have a book, Feathers, Form and Function, coming out soon. Tell us about that.

The proof is on its way from China. The printing should be finished mid-November. The book is a quality art book – hardcover, thick paper so you see only the picture on the page you are looking at; lots of images of my art, like you see on the web, with descriptions informing what the image is about or information about the art process or the bird that grew the feather; lots of information about feathers – what they are made of, how they grow, how they are shed, what is legal to have, how they help birds stay warm, camouflage, fly, stay dry, and stay protected. And a chapter about what feathers represent to us in myth and meaning.


Eat Deckle

What is Artists for Conservation?

AFC supports animal conservation causes around the world through donating a percentage of art sales to specific conservation groups that the artist specifies. I mostly gift to Audubon. Artists from all over the world are accepted into this group. We have a yearly show scheduled in Vancouver, BC, later this month. I am a new member and will be giving a talk on feathers on the September 28th.

In the same vein, this fall, I will be partnering with the World Parrot Trust to auction two pieces to benefit Blue Fronted Macaw reintroduction to Bolivia.



What’s your background?

My mother was a professional artist – which is a lot of why and how I kept my original childhood creativity – that was encouraged as a child. Plus I got to know the art world of her time by tagging along to museums and her shows. I have always loved the exuberance of life and became a biologist and worked in that field for many years – and through schooling (bugs) and work (birds and fish) was never satisfied solely using the scientific method. I have always pursued creativity and art.




Dragon Feathers

Some dinosaurs had small plumes

to keep them warm, we assume

If dinosaurs had a few,

why then couldn’t dragons too?

But dragon fire would burn them off

unless the quills were really tough

Scales is what a dragon’s got

Cause with plumes they’d be too hot.

~ Poem by Chris Maynard


Chris MaynardSee Chris’s blog Featherfolio blog about his inspiration, collaborations with other artists, and interesting tidbits about protected birds.

Connect with Chris on his website, Facebook at Featherfolio , Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

You can pre-order Chris’s book, Feathers, Form & Function, here.

Purchase cards and prints here.

See Chris’s incredible photo gallery.




Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers

Writing about writing blog tour

shark2 - CopyAs part of the Writing About Writing blog tour, I’d like to introduce Esther Miller and Deb Hockenberry.


Esther Miller blogs about her travels around the country and about moments that have changed her life in some way. See her blog On The Road Again.

Esther has worked professionally in special education and mental health and has had a variety of volunteer jobs. Gardening, cooking, and ham radio are among her many interests. She married and raised her family in California, then lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for nearly 14 years. She recently returned to California to be near family.


Deb Hockenberry blogs about anything “kid.” Her blogs include personal experiences as a child wanting to write, book reviews of children’s books, and author interviews. See her website Kidztales here.

Deb has always wanted to write for children since she was a child herself. She loved making up and telling stories to her siblings and the neighborhood kids. She belongs to The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Deb has also taken two courses from The Institute of Children’s Literature and is taking an ongoing course in writing for children from The CBI Clubhouse. Each year, she looks forward to attending The Muse Online Writer’s Conference, or as she calls it, MuseCon.

Deb currently resides in the beautiful mountains of Central Pennsylvania. At any time of the year, these mountains are a sight to behold. In the autumn, the hillsides are dotted with red, gold, yellow, and orange. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, crocheting, music, movies, and gardening.


Filed under Blogging, Guest Writers & Bloggers

How to play well (and blog well) with others

DSC01656I’ve recently had a few lame come-ons in my email – “I’d love to provide content for your wonderful blog. I love your blog. Would you like to have interesting content for your blog?”

Read on and you will see why I am not impressed by this generic query.

I’ve also received a few emails from other writers, editors, and proofreaders – “How do I query another blogger to be a guest?” “How do I find guests for my blog?”

Previously, I posted these blogs as a series – My guest blog guidelines, Hosting a guest blogger, How to query another blogger, and Being a guest on another blog. Today, I’m posting them all together.

My guidelines

If you are interested in creating your own blog guidelines, click here to see my guidelines.

Hosting a guestKenton and boys

Hosting a guest blogger can be a rewarding experience. I learn, I find new friends, and I expand my reader base and exposure. Variety is the blogger’s spice of life. And it’s fun!

Guidelines – I explain these are not hard-n-fast rules, simply guidelines. I like to enable my guests to use their imagination, their own voice, and their sense of humor.

Reach out – I don’t wait around for people to invite themselves to guest blog. I go after people I find interesting. Reach out. Expand your horizons!

Background check – Before I invite someone to be a guest, I check out their blog, website, Twitter, Facebook… Do the same background check if a blogger approaches you. Is this someone you want on your blog?

Posting date clarity – In correspondence with a prospective blog guest, my deadline was vague. The guest blogger thought I wanted her article in February (because earlier I mentioned Valentine’s Day), and I was talking about November!

DSC01197Deadline – Give the guest a specific deadline. S.P.E.L.L. it out clearly. “I need your submission in my inbox on or before January 22.”

Wiggle room – I normally set deadlines at least a week before the scheduled day. Don’t rely on last minute submissions. What if you plan on posting a blog on Tuesday afternoon and you still don’t have it Tuesday morning?

Back-up plan – What if your guest doesn’t follow through? Have a couple of your own draft blog articles simmering on the back burner for these emergencies.

Guest bio – I like to provide a bio and links for my guest’s online pages. So, in addition to the article, I ask for a 1) bio 2) profile picture 3) URLs for their social networking.

Maintain control – Indicate (in your guidelines and in conversations) that if you feel their article is not appropriate for your blog you won’t publish it or you might require edits.

Read the submission – Be sure to read the submission as soon as you get it; don’t wait until posting day. Is it well written and free of typos? Do the links work? If you feel it needs to be edited, send it back to the writer or advise her that you will edit. Be clear about what you feel needs to be edited.

Just say no – I hate to do this, but I’ve had to say, “No, thank you.” If the guest has broken one of your critical guidelines, ask the guest to edit or tell them you feel it’s not appropriate for your blog.

Learn to say yes! – I have broken out of my blogging box on numerous occasions. A few times, I have read a submission and think, “Eh, not really my cup o tea.” But I sit on it, give it a half day or so, read it again, and consider it on its merits.

Blogging love – If I have a guest, I ask that they share the link on their blog and/or their Facebook, Twitter, Fan Page.

Think big picture – Nearly every time I’ve had a guest blogger, I see an increase in my comments, and I occasionally get a couple new subscribers.

DSC01384The query

Before the query – Say for instance you find a way-cool blog. You like a post or two and think, “I’d love to be a guest on this blog!” Before you query…

Guidelines? – If the blogger has guidelines, read them. Follow them.

Research – Read a bunch of the blogger’s posts, including posts made by guest bloggers. I suggest at least a dozen. What is that blogger’s focus? How are the posts presented? How are guests presented?

Where to send query – If the blogger wants you to send queries via an online contact form, use it. If the blogger wants you to send it to his email, use the email.

Form letters – Ick. Don’t do it. Most experienced bloggers can spot a form letter query from a mile away.

A blah query – “I’m a blogger, and I want to guest blog for you! I love your blog.” Blah and blech. Be sincere, not spammy.

A brilliant query – 1) Mentions a couple of the blogger’s posts and why you liked them. 2) Mentions one or two of the blogs in her blog roll. 3) Mentions the blogger’s book (if applicable). 4) Mentions what you’d like to blog about 5) Provides a brief preview.image (13)

Pace yourself – Don’t send out 50 queries on the same day – you might just get 50 “Yes, I’d like to have you on my blog” and then you’re scrambling to write 50 blogs at quantum-leap speed.

No, thank you – You send your query. You think it’s stellar! The blogger turns you down. It’s his blog, his decision. Remember, it might be timing. Make a note to query this blogger at a later date.

Temper, temper – If the blogger turns you down, don’t blast him on FB or Twitter. Send a basic thank you and let it go.

Resubmit – Try again in a few months. Consider subscribing to the target blog and leaving a comment on occasion.

Your guest post Kenton washing car

Your blog host accepts your blog idea and gives you a deadline. You are scheduled to be a guest on another blog. Fabulous! Don’t simply drive in, drop the article, and drive away.

Now the work begins. Make it shine!

Deadline – Your host tells you, “Please have your submission to me by January 15.” Make sure it’s in her inbox by that date. Better if you have it to her before the deadline.

Dress up – Don’t send a slopped-together article. Clean it from top to bottom. Wipe the glass. Scrub the tires.

Check the mirror – Proofread, edit for clarity, adhere to word count, include all the information your host asked for. In addition to the article, your host asks for your bio, a profile picture, and your URLs. Don’t make her come back and beg you for them. Submit these as attachments to the submission email.

The extras

BIO – Your host asks for a 50-word bio. Don’t send a two-page resume and expect her to edit.

PIC – A profile picture – Have one. Have a recognizable profile photo, not you amongst 37 cousins at your last family reunion.

URLs – I keep all my URLs in a list, so I don’t have to retype them every time.

Kenton and ShawnPost Day

Share and promote – Make a post on your own blog that directs subscribers to your host’s blog. Go to the host’s blog page and click all the buttons to share it, tweet it, Facebook it, etc.

Socialize – Visit the host’s blog over the next few days and look for comments. Respond to comments. Be nice. Don’t embarrass your host.

A dud – It your guest post is successful, great! If not, don’t go off pouting or FBing “Why isn’t anyone commenting on my guest post?!” You posted it to your blog, FB, Twitter, and so on. Let it sit for a day. Then consider posting it to your Facebook again.

Send a thank you – Even when I thought Laura’s 10th birthday party was a dud, my mom made me send a thank you note. It’s the right thing to do. Send a thank you to your host.


Filed under Blogging, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Social Networking

Editor Spotlight with Sarah (Lingley) Williams

editor spotlight alvimannThe Art and Craft of Editing: Preparation, Selection, Satisfaction

Article by Sarah (Lingley) Williams, of Lingley editing services, LLC

I am ecstatic for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you about what I call “The Art and Craft of Editing.” I have been freelance editing for several years now; when people ask what I do for a living, I usually get one of two responses. “Oh, that’s awesome!” or “You do what?”

Often, those who respond with “You do what?” know what editing is, but have never viewed it as fundamental to life as it is. Editing combines the craft of understanding the rules of language, punctuation and grammar with the art of knowing how and when to apply or manipulate these rules for the overall benefit of the document.

I refer to editing as an art and craft because, unlike some things that are perceived as a science, it is based on rules and standards that can be learned and practiced by most everyone. To some, fluency with language and words comes more naturally than it does to others, but the guidelines are there for all to utilize and master.

As a published author, I know the feelings that accompany writing a document and wanting perfection. Our work is our heart and soul; we worry over whether or not every sentence is excellent, whether or not we missed a comma, and whether or not the content flows for the reader with the same fervency it flows for us. Our fear that we overlooked an error is real and tangible. I understand the value of someone else reviewing my work, but am afraid to let this part of me out of my grip.

Maybe you are living this daily struggle as you complete your document, or perhaps you have experienced these feelings in the past. For those of you just starting out, this scenario may be unfamiliar. Wherever each of you are, my hope is that this article calms your fears and gives you the necessary confidence to prepare, select and receive a satisfactorily edited document.


Your work is complete. Perhaps you have a three-page article, a fifty-page thesis, or a 60,000 word manuscript. You’ve read it over and reworked it. But preparing for an editor requires a few more steps:

1)      Let someone else read it; a friend, a colleague, a fellow writer

2)      Reread your work with a fresh perspective; step away for a day, a week

3)      Run a spell check and grammar check; double check formatting

These steps may seem mundane, but they are invaluable. It is embarrassing to receive your edited document and find that you missed simple things; it is time consuming for an editor to correct multiple findings of “adn,” “teh,” and double indents. Remember, time equals money and no one has limitless amounts of either.

Preparing your work for an editor is a crucial step, and one that should never be overlooked. While an editor exists to polish and hone, never should you deliver a sloppy document. As a writer, you should value the plethora of words at your disposal; there is no need to overuse uncreative tag lines like “said” and “thought,” or such lifeless dialogs as:

“Hi,” said Jane.

“Hello,” said John.

“How are you?” said Jane.

“I’m doing well,” said John.

As a writer, your work thrives on imagination, and the life of your work comes from your ability to create engaging worlds in which your readers can get lost. A piece of well written work captures the reader and leaves him or her hungry for more. What better way to hold your readers’ interests than delving into your soul and pulling out a spell-binding collection of words?


Everything is as perfect as you can get it. You ask around for a reputable editor, or maybe even run a google search. Of course, you seek services that are timely, cost-effective and thorough, but knowing what you need will help you find what you want. It is important to understand what types of editors exist:

—Developmental Editors assist writers from conception to completion; he or she is there every step of the way, guiding you through the entire process

—Substantive Editors contribute to the whole picture, aiding with the structure and development of the document as a whole

—Copy Editors focus on the finishing touches; he or she finds grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, with attention to the overall flow and development as the author requests

After selecting the type of editor that best suits your needs, there are a few additional things to keep in mind:

1)      Is he or she willing to show you samples of his or her work? Are positive references available to you?

2)      Does he or she allow his or her own voice to over-ride the voice of the author?

3)      Does he or she have credibility? What is his or her education and professional background?

4)      Is his or her blog, website or professional profile typo-free?

Finding an editor is easy. Finding one that meets your needs, however, and delivers a service that reaches above and beyond, will be well worth your research.


As a published author, I can relate to every step of the journey you are on, including the satisfaction that comes from receiving your perfectly edited document. As an editor, I cannot express the elation that comes from offering constructive feedback so that your document is a winning piece of literature. I take great pride in supplying writers of all skill levels with the guidance needed to reach his or her goals.

You hold a unique position as a writer; my hope for you is that as you pursue the journey of opening new worlds to your readers, you can shine, fly and reach the highest levels of achievement.


Sarah LingleySarah Williams is the owner and editor in chief of Lingley Editing Services, LLC. She holds a BA in Communication from Salem College, in Winston-Salem, NC. During college, Sarah volunteered as a tutor at the Student Writing Center, and interned as Assistant Marketing Director and Editor at Press 53. Sarah has been writing and getting published since high school, and has been a freelance editor since 2006. She currently lives with her husband in Arizona, where her home-based business allows her the freedom to enjoy the blue skies and warm sunshine.

Connect with Sarah on her website, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.


Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Editor Spotlight, Guest Writers & Bloggers