Sunday, November 29, 2015

Falling Into Place

This fall was busy with football and photo shoots. Both my Little and Big Tigers went 6-0 for the season then won their Super Bowl games. It was amazing! I took lots of pictures and video with my new camera. While all this was going on somehow balanced work and photo shoots. I had six in October. The weather was warm and the colors were spectacular. I got to take engagement, family, party, and senior pics. They turned out beautifully!

I won ribbons at the Lake County Fair again this year but the big surprise was being awarded a Sweepstakes and Best of Show ribbon for a black and white portrait I took. I have been taking Nevaeh’s pictures for the last few years and I entered one of my favorites from last fall. I’m so happy it did so well. I never got either one of those awards before so to get both at once was quite an achievement.

I have been selling a few photo note cards and small prints recently as well. I will be taking some to the Write-On Hoosiers banquet later this week. I haven’t had any time to attend their meetings this year but hope to after the first of the year.

A few good things happened in regards to my writing. I got an honorable mention in the Indiana State Federation Poetry Club for my September at the Dunes poem. In addition, three of my fellow Magic Hour Writers read and presented mini workshops at Paul Henry’s Art Gallery with me. Purdue Calumet gave us a small stipend so that was a neat and rewarding experience. MHW also published a Christmas book with help from Flying Turtle Publishing. I contributed a poem, short story, pictures, and a recipe. This is the first time I had a children’s story illustrated by a professional. I was thrilled with how it turned out. I can’t describe how I felt when I saw my characters come to life. I hope to work with Courtney again. The books are available through FTP and Amazon in hardcover, softcover, and e-book format.

Finally, we got a puppy in July. Stella is very energetic and loving. So now we have 2 dogs, 2 cockatoos, a bearded dragon, leopard gecko, and a tarantula. Lots of photo ops for sure; hopefully a pic will place in one of the Chicago area club competitions this winter.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


I wanted to add a post some time ago but things were kind of disappointing for a while. No committee selected my photos for their note cards, I didn’t make it into the Earth Day Book, I didn’t place in some contests, I didn’t get a grant, and I didn't get a library job I had applied for.

I kept a positive attitude though, kept at it, and focused on the positives.

The good...

1:  I enjoyed being in the Chesterton Photo exhibit and got to spend more time with my sister because of it.
2:  I wrote up the Tom Spencer interview for the POPP poetry book and even got quoted in the newspaper in the article about him. The assembly was successful as was the poetry reading at the library a few days later. I took pics and they came out pretty well.
3:  Our writers group gained new members and enjoyed productive meetings.
4:  An unexpected check came in the mail for some "volunteer" work I had done months earlier.
5:  Several people contacted me about taking pictures - for prom, senior photos, pregnancy pics, newborn baby, etc.

Better than good…

6:  Some advice and information I shared helped a young girl place first in the Indiana State Federation of Poetry Clubs Manningham Junior Division Poetry Contest. Earlier this week I officially met Emily, her mother, and brother and had lunch with them. They were very appreciative but I explained a few things. I belong to several writing groups and a photography club. Everyone I have encountered has been helpful and inspiring so I feel obligated to pass on what I learn and also be encouraging. But it’s not just obligation that motivates me – I honestly want others to succeed and be happy. I was thrilled that I made a difference in a young writer’s life and that I can continue to help her reach her goals. I know this is only the beginning for her and I’m excited to see what lies ahead.

Then something even more incredible happened!

7:  Highlights for Children bought one of my poems. I have been submitting to them for over 5 years. In fact, 3 poems were rejected along with the one they finally accepted for publication. A contract followed and then a check. This was on my bucket list so I am definitely celebrating and bragging!

More news today…

8.  On June 6th four Charter Members for the Ladies Auxiliary VFW Post 717 were honored at a luncheon for their 61 years of service. The article I wrote and pictures I took were published in the local paper. I also sent the information to the Ladies Auxiliary VFW Magazine. It would be nice if I can share their story across the country.

Summer is in full swing and I am swamped, figuratively and literally. I couldn’t be busier and ten days of heavy rains has also been challenging. I'm a happy camper though.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Best Shot

I've probably said it 1,000 times but that is my favorite quote. These last two months have been crazy. 2015 has been full of opportunities and I'm trying my best to do it all, squeeze everything in.

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards asked me and other Magic Hour Writers Members to be a writing judge. I was very honored to judge poems written by children in middle school at a national level; what an opportunity! The judging took place in January and was conducted online. They receive thousands of entries every year and the Northeast Indiana Northwest Ohio region had one of the most national award winners in the country last year. How wonderful to read the work of these talented young writers and be a part of it all.

I also helped judge the entries for this year's POPP (Power of Poetry Project) contest for local 4th and 5th graders. Katherine recently notified the winners and Judy is working on the publication. The awards celebration is scheduled for April 9th. Just today I interviewed my friend about his passion for poetry and thoughts about being the inspiration for the Tom Spencer Award. Tom has been writing poems for over 50 years and has been an important figure in the state and national poetry societies as well as regionally. He challenges and inspires his colleagues at every gathering.

Last week I received yet another rejection letter. I suppose I was disappointed that they didn't like my adorable poem (about a destructive little puppy) but not too discouraged. I keep submitting, keep putting myself out there and opening myself up to criticism or denial. We all have to remember art is subjective, we all have our own opinions about what is good or noteworthy, what is outstanding and unforgettable and unfortunately, what is just plain bad.

Recently I sent in digital photos to two charities for greeting card contests and sent in several more for my camera club contests. I didn't receive great scores in the latest competitions but I guess it just makes me want to get better. I'm still waiting on news about the cards (and on the Indiana poem for the bicentennial). On a happy note, I did get accepted into another photo exhibit. The opening reception is this upcoming Sunday. Two of my nature prints will be on exhibit though the end of March at the Chesterton Art Center. It would be nice to be able to sell one or both.

Right now I'm editing a poem for the Earth Day Poetry Contest entitled "Enough Already" which is about how we have exploited our planet. I have until the end of the month. And I just finished a huge project in which I had to really take a look at the things I have accomplished and determine what my future plans and goals are. I suppose I had to sell myself; convince others that I'm serious and determined to succeed in whatever it is I'm trying to do. I'm not sure if I'll qualify for any award but if you look at everything as a learning experience you never really loose.

Speaking of learning, there is just so much I still need to figure out. I just attended another one day photo clinic and have a weekend writer's conference down state in a few weeks. I need to get a portfolio together (print a few photos, paint some more pictures) and also finish edits on a recent photo shoot. I need to learn more about e-books and self-publishing.

Often I think I'm doing too much and I try to put limits on the things I commit too but I can't stop thinking of stories or poems and I can't put down the camera. Nothing worthwhile is easy but it would be nice to be able to take it easy once in a while. That being said, I need to pick and choose carefully so that I can give everything I commit to my best. It's great to keep taking chances and trying different things but it doesn't make sense to overwhelm yourself or take on too much.