Central IL, Showcasing other Creatives

Lego Art

There are probably a thousand ways I could take this post:

  • Think like a kid
  • Creativity outside the box – ahem, and inside the block 😉
  • Exposing yourself to new art mediums to jumpstart your own creativity
  • The importance of making art accessible to everyone

…just to name a few. But, some things speak better than my words can. I went to the lego art exhibit by Nathan Sawaya and took in his art and his words. Inspiration for anyone, but especially creatives. Take a look:

Nathan Sawaya often had captions next to each sculpture, about being an artist. Every artist should get a chance to read those, if nothing more to remind ourselves we’re not alone trying outrageous ideas to see what happens. Like this one:

If the exhibit comes to your area, go. If he speaks in your area, probably go, though unfortunately I missed his local presentation due to another obligation.

And if he doesn’t come to you, here’s another option: I was so mesmerized by his art as well as his words, that I immediately picked up his book Art of the Brick (affiliate link). If you want a book that fuels your creativity that’s a bit different from your other books that fuel your creativity, maybe check it out for amazing artwork of course, as well as great stories about his artistic career. Here is one of my favorite endearing snippets that made me laugh:

An inspiration to us all 🙂 Check out Nathan Sawaya in person or in book form if you’re interested. And either way, find some new and different art to fuel your own creations.

Central IL, Faith

Karitos 2019

Yes, I’m telling you about something that happened this summer, but #throwbackthursday mmkay? 🙂

For five years now, I’ve been attending the Karitos Christian creative arts conference in the greater Chicago area. This year it was in Streator IL, closer than ever to my house as it’s usually much further north.

(I’m pictured with author Olivia J. Bennett and flagger/author Kim Kouski. Check out Olivia’s book A Cactus in the Valley and Kim’s fantasy novel Hidden Secrets (those are affiliate links – I may receive a portion of sales).

I’ve written past posts about Karitos and what I’m learning there, but here’s overall what keeps bringing me back:

  • a gathering of creatives
  • creating together in all art forms
  • worshipping God and figuring out how their art fits into that

You can find that first one a number of places. The other 2 are harder to come by. If you can find a place that combines the things you love, go.

Photography by Kim Kouski on our way to the event

You can find a thousand writers conferences, but one that includes dancers and visual artists and actors and filmmakers and musicians and…. All those together feed off of each other into an amazing creative experience.

And, while I don’t write within the Christian genre, it’s beautiful to find a place where my giftings can contribute to my faith community and my worship.

And now, a couple exciting milestones of mine with this year’s event:

A couple amazing things happened for me personally this year.

The past 3 years I’ve been assisting with the Literary Arts department, and as of last year, I’m the department head for Literary Arts. This was my first Karitos that I was responsible for making Literary Arts workshops happen, and it was a delight to see it all turn out. To be able to step into ministry in a way that uses my passion and giftings is such a privilege.

And the other thing: Last year’s Karitos, I took Angel’s selfpublishing workshop. This year, my book was in the Karitos bookstore alongside hers. We got a photo to document our excitement…

Check out Angel’s devotional, Love’s Great Design (affiliate link).

So that was my experience at this year’s Karitos. And we’re already on to planning the next! Maybe Karitos 2020 will have you in it? 😉

Central IL, Showcasing other Creatives

A comfy kind of kooky: King’s Pen writers group

Today is the 8 year anniversary of King’s Pen writers group. To celebrate, we had a collaborative project of writing this piece of creative nonfiction about our experience with King’s Pen over the years. Enjoy.

8 years later, here we are

by Yasmeen Hudson, Kim Kouski, Paul Maitland, Amy L. Sauder, and Jennifer Esther Wieland

Riverside church was asking people to start smallgroups. Kim started King’s Pen because Jesus told her to. She always wanted a group of Christian writers. She wanted it to be a smallgroup, not a writers group. A group to talk about God.

Kim was terrified beyond belief. She didn’t think she could do it. The first meeting was at Berean bookstore on Thursday, March 3, 2011. Kim was glad that her good friend Kim Z. was there, so she mostly talked to her.

Some people helped start it, and others stayed. Some are part of the Facebook community even though they can’t attend in person. Then there were the few who would visit, but would read the writing book the whole time instead. Maybe they thought it would be creative writing class where Kim would teach. Or maybe they didn’t like us because we’re all kooky. So many people have come and gone and been a part of the process, like a quilt, leaving their mark, and that’s what makes the group what it is.

We’re the longest surviving Riverside smallgroup, and we also have the longest meeting times. Hours of hangout.

There’s something dependable about the group. Everyone’s journey mixing together, and a part of that is weaving our lives together, making the bond stronger. We get to watch people open up and bloom as we live our lives in this community. It’s fellowship: attending each other’s launch parties, graduations, anniversary parties, baby showers, and celebrations. Supporting one another in life, cheering each other in writing, and connecting as believers.

There’s freedom here too. Acceptance. We trust each other enough that we don’t have to put up our defenses. We can be ourselves. And in turn, we’re each others’ biggest fans.

We have something routine. It allows us to build writing disciplines, and it brings us back to what’s really important with devotions every week. We have finished books, published blogs, published books, and started seriously writing. We have accountability. We keep writing because we need something to read for group. If we hadn’t been here, who knows if we would have quit.

Kim has been dedicated and consistent. Even during the seasons of just 3 people attending, Kim would faithfully show up and keep it going. That’s also true to writing. You have to stick with it in the dry seasons when we wonder “Am I even making a difference?”

I think we’d be fun watching, like a wildlife show. Paul offers his steady devotions, then we get a laugh at the Kim Kouski translation of the Bible, about sheeps in trees or about snarky Jesus. We have an obsession with geekdom like comic-con and sword seminars and MST3K movie nights and renaissance faires and cosplay. Paul puts up with it all. He doesn’t run away. Kim is our fairy godmother, transforming our wardrobe with her magic spells. Jenn sings Frozen with reckless abandon with 3 year olds. We have group writing days where we don’t write a thing. We have lots of food. We throw birthday parties for everyone, which basically means we celebrate every meeting. We’re a comfy kind of kooky.

And 8 years later, here we are.


If you’re in central IL and interested in attending King’s Pen, get in touch for more info.

If you’d like me to facilitate a workshop for your church, business, smallgroup, conference, town, friend group, or family where you make your own collaborative creative nonfiction piece about your story, get in touch to discuss details and pricing.

Central IL, Showcasing other Creatives

A bookworm’s invite to tea with the Queen

Her Majesty’s English Tearoom in Central IL is an enchanting place to visit, for tea or for books or for browsing. Here is a sneak-peek from local authors of a few of the fun finds along the way (ahem, you just might find a certain Amy L. Sauder in here somewhere)

Her Majesty’s English Tearoom: Come have tea with the Queen!
I Know You Like a Murder at the Tearoom
Make Me Over at the Tearoom
Zombie Turkeys at the Tearoom
Hidden Secrets at the Tearoom

Plus, a couple events in a far far away (or not so far away) kingdom…

Murder Mystery at the Grand Hotel
Books & Breakfast at Little Traveler

Thanks to Kim Kouski for her her videography, Paul Maitland for directing (you’ll be seeing his books on shelves soon, so remember that name!), and Jacqueline Gillam Fairchild for hosting in her lovely tearoom.

P.S. My friends and I had so much fun making these videos. Check out the blooper reel for more writerly mayhem:

Bloopers at Tea

Central IL

Ignite Peoria & 500 wishes

Ignite Peoria is a creative arts event in my city. It’s happened a few years now, but this was my first year attending.

Of course I had to dress creatively for the event, and had to get a picture of my fun outfit:

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It’s not quite like most creative arts fairs where you attend and look at artists booths and buy so many beautiful things. It has that aspect, but it’s more interactive.  There’s speakers and performances. My friend Kim and I enjoyed learning about whips – and of course discussed how to implement that into our stories 🙂

I don’t actually know how many people attended and hung wishes on the tree, but about 1000 were “Interested” in the event on Facebook, and about 500 clicked “Attending” on the Facebook event. So I figure 500 is a good estimate.

As you entered the event, there was a breathtaking display with a Wishing Tree and tables and tables of trinkets to create a visual representation of your hopes and dreams:

 

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Kim and I created our trinkets and hung them, but the end result of so many Peoria wishes was stunning:

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All in all, we had a blast and can’t wait til next year. We met some great people and had a great time exploring so many of the art forms:

 

Oh, and of course there was this gorgeous floral backdrop, and Kim insisted “We have to get a picture of the back of your head there!” She knows my brand, and let that be a branding lesson for you all 😉 haha

 

Central IL, for the Writers

Central Illinois Creative Writing Lessons

I have BIG news! BIG!!!!

If the following applies to you (or someone you know), pay attention!

  • High Schooler
  • Located in Central IL area
  • Interested in creative writing
    • (experience optional)

I have news for these people! This fall I am beginning creative writing lessons.

How does this work?

Whether you’re interested in poetry, novels, short stories, or creative nonfiction, these lessons are for you. You’ll be grouped with people of a similar skill level. No experience is required. Whether you are just now interested in writing, or whether you have novels finished and want to know about the publishing options, your lessons will be catered to the group’s needs. Lessons are one hour a week and cost $10. There will also be online components with access to resources and peer feedback.

You can learn about:

  • Fighting Lies: Inadequacy, Narcissism, Writers Block, and Quick Turnaround (haha! Riiiight)
  • Finding an Agent
  • Writing a Logline, Query, or Book Proposal
  • SelfPublishing Versus Traditional Publishing
  • Creating Your Brand
  • Marketing
  • Editing
  • Story Structure
  • Beta Readers & Critiques
  • Balancing Your Creative Life and Other Obligations

 

If you’re interested, check out my pages on Creative Writing Lesson details, Frequently-Asked-Questions, or go ahead and sign up.

Not in the Central IL area and bummed you can’t join in? Keep checking back, I’m mulling over ways to offer options to you too! You can like my Facebook or follow my Twitter to keep updated.

 
 
 
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Central IL

3 Reasons You Should Still Consider Eureka College

Things are heating up in the world of Eurekans, but as of right now mostly only students, staff, and alum are aware of any of it. Eureka College is a small private college with its largest boast probably being the great faculty-student ratio that provides a more personal environment with many leadership opportunities.

There are currently 11 empty faculty positions, 8 of which from this school year and 3 from the year before not being filled. Remember this is a small school, so that’s actually about 25% of faculty. The student paper recently released an article that expressed student’s concerns – with administrative decisions, with the upcoming accreditation review, and with their hopes of graduating without transferring or taking an additional semester due to the potential of certain courses not being offered next fall. This relatively small matter for the college only escalated when a faculty member – acting alone and not from the school’s request – removed any remaining papers from the stand so that the article would not be read. Suddenly social media was abuzz with the debacle – it wasn’t Facebook Trending, but it was My Newsfeed Trending. This wasn’t just an issue of taking the right classes or graduating on time or having an accredited degree; it was an issue of censorship and freedom of the press, and the students made that very clear.

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The newspaper article was posted by someone who had grabbed a copy before they were removed, for the dual purpose of letting students read the article, as well as to inform alumni as to the situation. (I for one am very grateful, since I didn’t realize so many faculty were leaving or that there was any concern.) It was then clarified that a faculty member acted alone to remove the paper from circulation and that efforts were now being made to redistribute the newspaper the following week. What could have blown over escalated yet again when a board member posted unprofessional comments I am certain the college could not have approved. This wasn’t just an issue of censorship now; it was an issue of professionalism, basic social media etiquette, and attacking students/faculty. What a PR fiasco.

Sure, there are obvious concerns, for me as an alum, as well as for current and prospective students. Concerns that I believe will be addressed, if for no other reason than because of this situation escalating to such proportions. I want to bring to light the side of this that will probably not be recognized – that this event is the exact reason to consider going to Eureka College.

  1. Students That Care – Maybe it’s the whole Liberal Arts Education thing that makes us outspoken. We don’t stand by and let stuff happen to us, we want to be involved, have an opinion and make it heard. We might be drama queens about it, but in the end I bet you won’t find as many (percentage-wise) students or alum making such a racket over faculty leaving or school politics/administration in general. We want to make a difference, so we won’t be shut up easily.
  2. Great Faculty – If Eureka College had subpar faculty moving on to their next 9-to-5, do you think any students would be in an uproar over a board member calling them troublemakers and liars? I don’t think so. We care, but we care about stuff that matters. And you can bet with this upheaval, that great faculty will be exactly what Eureka College is looking for. Is there a chance you’ll have crap teachers? Of course, there always is, but know at Eureka College, I think the odds are in your favor.
  3. Real-World Experience – I said it before, that Eureka is big on leadership opportunities. That comes with mistakes and successes, with the world being your stage. Here’s a lesson – power of the press. Even more-so now than before, with the digital footprint you leave. You can pull newspapers off a rack, but you can’t delete photos and screenshot comments (what many students did with the board member’s unprofessional comments in case he chose to delete them later.) It’s there for all to see…..forever. We hear it all the time, but now we know it from one crazy personal experience. I bet some people on *both* sides of the issue posted something they will at some point regret….I hope I’m not that person. But it’s a learning experience, to address the big issues and take a stand without regretting words later. Obviously Eureka College did not intend for the lesson to be learned in such a way, but the small-school atmosphere magnifies situations like this. And it’s an excellent learning experience better than any facebook photo of a teacher holding a sign saying “My students don’t believe this will travel very far….share to prove them wrong.”

Calling this a revolution may be a tad exaggerated, but it’s evident that students are rallying for change and information and a voice in their education. I can’t wait to hear from administration on this and have more of a full picture of the situation and what concerns are actually present and what’s hearsay. This appears to have at least the potential for serious repercussions and I hope Eureka College the best, because I really think it is the best school in so many ways. In all the mud-slinging and worry and fear, let’s remember there’s some real positive aspects to what has been dubbed the Eureka Riot of 2015 (remember, we’re a lil dramatic about this stuff.)

Central IL, Fashion, Musings

Olde English Faire 2014

Here come the freaks!

I don’t write fan fiction. I don’t do role-playing games. I don’t enjoy gaming or anime or cosplay. I’m not a Trekkie or a Belieber or a Whovian, and I try not to come across as a Gleek. In fact, I try to avoid coming across as a fangirl of any sort. Why? Good question. 

For one thing, I don’t enjoy those things (except Glee. That I can’t help. And for the record, I’d be a fan of Dr. Who if I watched it, I just haven’t gotten around to it.) For another thing, I’m not generally that obsessive over those things. (What I am obsessive over can be saved for another blogpost.) But also because there’s a stereotype there – a stereotype of weirdos who jump off the deep end with everything – unreasonably obsessive, unable to hold a conversation outside of their niche, and prone to bouts of squealing. That stereotype. You can see why I want to avoid it.

And yet, there is one location these obsessive types gather that I can’t help but join. The Olde English Faire.

 

Me (on the left) and a couple of my writer's group friends at last year's Olde English Faire.
Me (on the left) and a couple of my writer’s group friends at last year’s Olde English Faire.

Olde English Faire is Coming to Town

Jousts, dancing, archery, knights, maidens, pirates, and people/creatures from all time periods, all worlds, all stories gathered in one place. It’s like a more manageable-sized ComiCon. Kinda. I may have exaggerated that a bit. But the ability to encounter characters and create characters and become characters – it’s a writer’s/reader’s dream come true.

For the record, I hear Bristol is huge and makes Peoria’s seem boring. Until I have the exciting opportunity to experience that though, this is a nice alternative. Don’t bash our humble villager celebrations.

What girl turns down a chance to dress up? – whether in a little black dress for a special night out, a bridesmaid dress, or a fancy gown from another era. For me, it may not be entirely accurate midieval-wear. And I’m fine with that. I like to dress up as characters I make up, from worlds that may be entirely different or fairly similar to our own.

 

Are You Going?

It’s this weekend. If you’re in the area, don’t miss it! Note that tickets are cheaper for those in costume 😉 If you’re not in the area, it may be time for a roadtrip (okay, not really – save your money and roadtrip to Bristol later.)  

Will give an update here later on the event.

 

What About You?

Do you attend an Olde English Faire anywhere? Do you dress up?