Showcasing other Creatives

GUEST POST: Five minutes in the mind of a writer by Megan Fatheree

Sometimes you wake up with your mind completely blank. Other times, you wake up with a serial killer in your head.

Sometimes the love story turns out perfectly. Other times, some minor character suddenly thinks he’s the star and should get the girl.

Sometimes you cry with your characters and sometimes you smile as you wreak havoc in their lives.

Welcome to five minutes in the mind of a writer.

There is a story behind each and every one of these dilemmas. Some are ongoing. Some haven’t started yet. (If you’re wondering, it’s the serial killer that has yet to start. I’m trying to ignore him.) They all live in my head all together at any given time.

Sometimes even the writer can’t control what happens in her story. People think I’m crazy when I talk about my characters like they’re real people, but they are. To me. I watch their lives and write down what happens. It’s just as simple and as difficult as that.

I say all this to make the point that writing is hard work and far more detailed than most people think. It’s a job that requires passion for the art. It’s hard work that may or may not pan out in the end. It’s putting a piece of your most vulnerable self on paper and praying that people don’t rip that part of you apart bit by bit. It’s unpredictable.

Just like life.

I’m a writer partly because I want to help people escape reality into an epic adventure. However, we all have to deal with life and what it throws at us. Even I have to deal with life.

Let me make a confession: Hello. My name is Megan Fatheree, and I hate the unpredictable.

Long story short, I’ve had too many unpredictable things happen in my life, and change and I don’t often get along. I’m an introvert and – even though I’m better now – grew up painfully shy and bashful. Change forces me out of my comfort zone. I don’t like that. Do I have a choice?

No. Sadly.

I hate to be the one to break the bad news, but you don’t have a choice either. You do have a different choice though! You can be the person that sees “two steps forward, one step back” and thinks it’s a delay. Or you can be the person that sees it and thinks, “It’s like a cha-cha!”

It’s the unpredictable that makes living interesting, but it also makes life cruel. I deal with that all the time. Life throws the most odd curveballs at every one of us. No one is exempt. Not even writers. Not even characters.

I’m going to admit that in my latest book, A Time to Live (affiliate link), I had so many of these unpredictable moments I began to question my own sanity. As the third book in the trilogy, everything started coming together and crashing into a climax. Not, however, before everything went wrong and I had to reevaluate both my plot-line ideas and my existence on this planet.

However, even for these characters, I had to try to look on the positive side. I know it’s hard, y’all! Our little human selves want to complain about everything and see all the negative and eat a gallon of ice cream in one sitting. All of these are bad ideas! How are we ever going to learn to deal with the unpredictable if we aren’t a little bit positive about what’s coming down the road?

So… Is life unpredictable? Yes. Will this writer continue to shut out the serial killer character until he finally wins over due to persistence and sociopathy? Probably. Will you join me in embracing life’s unpredictable moments?

That’s up to you.


Hey all, Amy here! Here to tell you all about the wonder of Megan and her stories. Megan Fatheree is the co-founder of #writersslumberit, where we spent many a night discussing psychopathic villains. If you enjoy Christian romantic thrillers, Megan is your gal. I was proud to copyedit Dust to Dust (affiliate link), the first of the trilogy. A Time to Live, the final book in the series, launches today!

Check out the book:
Amazon (affiliate link)
Apple Books
Barnes and Noble Nook
Kobo

Check out the author:
Website
Instagram


Disclaimer: All of the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. I may receive a portion of sales. More importantly, you will gain a new favorite author with piles of romantic thrillers for you to binge-read.

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, 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

for the Bookworms, Showcasing other Creatives

Book Review: 49th Mystic & Rise of the Mystics

(Sidenote thought that has no bearing on the review whatsoever: I have so many questions about how the whole “49th” mystic number works. So many questions. And while we’re at it, I have absolutely no idea why the second book was called “Rise of the Mystics”, besides the fact that it’s a fantabulous intriguing title.)

But onto the reviews. I am thrilled to be part of the Rise of the Mystics launch team, but had to jump back and read/review the first book of the series too.

The 49th Mystic

(The above is an affiliate link.
I may receive money for purchases made through that link.)

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The 49th Mystic invites us into the world of the Circle once again. The nostalgia is strong with this one. But it’s not just for Circle fans. It’s a new story, a new character to love, beckoning a new generation of Dekkies I suppose. The story feels familiar and new, all at once. A blind girl who falls asleep and dreams of another world. And the fate of both worlds rests in her hands. See? Familiar, and new. Dekker pulls off a satisfying ending with resolution while also including a cliffhanger that leads into the sequel. Go figure. The good news is, you don’t have to wait. The sequel, Rise of the Mystics, is at your fingertips so you can scoop them both up at the same time.

 

Rise of the Mystics

(The above is an affiliate link.
I may receive money for purchases made through that link.)

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Rise of the Mystics starts more or less where we left The 49th Mystic. Oh, except the story is turned on its head. I won’t spoil it, but it starts in a fresh way, not just same old same old. The pace of this book moves a little slower than the first, but it’s still a satisfying read. More than that, Dekker is one of the few (only?) writers who can weave a sermon into story without being preachy. A parable. A riveting story that makes you think, question your beliefs. And Rise of the Mystics builds to a great ending, a wonderful conclusion to the Circle world (although it’s not the end of Circle stories) that every Circle reader needs in their life. Snag this book for that alone, to end the journey with the promise fulfilled!

 

And a caveat to the whole Circle series I don’t know how to introduce…

One caveat I’ll give, something that disturbed me this time around about the Circle world that I wish I’d noticed years before: The representation of the horde and the albino seems racially insensitive, with traditionally black descriptors (for example, dreadlocks) assigned to the stinky diseased horde and typically white descriptors (like the name “albinos”) for those who have been cleansed. The story includes a brief phrase that clarifies the albinos are called that for the smoothness of their skin, not the color, but that felt a little forced when albino has always been about color not smoothness. I wrestled with this a long time, because I like to give honest positive reviews and I appreciate Dekker’s work. I’m mentioning it because it seems insensitive to me, and I’m surprised that no one else has raised this concern (although TV tropes lists the series under “Fantastic Racism”).

 

Showcasing other Creatives

Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher

I had the privilege of being part of Hannah Brencher’s book launch for Come Matter Here.

It’s for those in a season of transition and those in a season of waiting. It’s for questioning. It speaks on community and mental health and faith and being present. It’s an anchor and it’s wings. It’s beautiful.

And maybe it’s for you.

I’ve followed Hannah’s blog and social media for awhile, and she does not take lightly the responsibility of the platform she’s been given. She’s a consistent reminder to show up for people. To use our lives and our careers and our passion to value people rather than treat them as a commodity. She’s a dreamer and a hustler, but she manages to values people through that work.

If you’ve read Hannah’s blog or Monday morning emails or social media, Come Matter Here is just an overflow of that same heart.

I wanted to share one of my favorite passages of hope in the journey:

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If this book speaks to you, order it. If nothing else, follow Hannah’s blog and sign up for her Monday morning emails to give your Monday a little pep. You won’t regret getting to know this rockstar of a human being.

for the Writers, Showcasing other Creatives, Stories

Stories on why we create

Creativity isn’t finite. The more you give, the more you have. That’s a philosophy I want to live by, and Ksenia does too.

Ksenia Anske sends cards with personalized stories to her readers. So when she sent one for my writers’ group, I volunteered to facilitate our writers prompt and had everyone write her a story back.

Ksenia

Because stories are meant to be shared, and a writer can only hide their stories for so long before some need to spill out, even if it’s in short form 🙂

And now we’re going to share those stories with you, stories to encourage you to create.

Jenn

“With this final bit of paper and fragment of graphite I beg of you to continue on what I can do no longer. I brought their gruesome reign into the world and now with these last meager strokes I must pass the mantle onto another. They came from my mind you see, in murderous retribution. The misshapen wolf-child led the way howling in agony that I had abandoned him. My mind had pulled the sparks of his essence together but I had trapped him there. But he escaped, and he brought the millions of forgotten characters with him. The creatures control my mind, and have managed to get a link to every human brain. If I stop writing (I haven’t much longer now) without another to take my place the world ends. Pick up your pen. Go.” – by Jenn Wieland

Kim

“There once was a woman who decided to try writing. At first she was thrilled and excited, but then she met the rejection monster who gnawed at her amazing manuscript.

The brave writer stabbed the dreaded monster with her mighty pen. The monster shrieked and died at her feet. The amazing writer skinned the beast and made a cloak that she wore in the frigid winter.

The amazing writer walked proudly down the published road with her rejection coat wrapped around her shoulders.” – by Kim Kouski

Andy

“Once upon a time a young girl named Ksenia yearned to be an author, a writer. Over the years she succeeded but oh, she grew so weary and discouraged. Then one night she had a dream. She seemed transported into fairyland, with castles and dragons, knights – and a blight – a blasted desert where nothing lived. She asked a handsome knight, ‘Why? Why is fairyland blighted?’ He said sadly, ‘Those are the regions of fairyland where our goddess Ksenia has never written about.’ The end.” – by Andy Zach

Yasmeen

“Once upon a time, there lived a sixteen-year-old girl who found a book buried beneath a pile of ruins… The girl had never seen a real book before, let alone written words and paper. This book had a red toy train on the cover.

Books were only something people have heard about – a distant memory for few. And here it is… the last book in existence wedged between her fingers. ‘Our race can be saved!’ the girl thought. ‘Finally our world will not be mute and the curse will be broken.'” – by Yasmeen

Amy

“As the dancer danced, flowers popped up around her toes and danced with her. They danced the words – the flowers and her – until a flower castle appeared. The dancer danced the word “wing”, and up sprouted the wings and lifted the word dancer to the tippy top. ‘I will make my home here,’ she danced.” – by Amy L Sauder – uhh, me 🙂

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So that’s the stories. Now go out and make your own creations! And then share it with the world, give it away in some form somewhere 🙂 Pass on Ksenia’s enchantment <3

(Psst! If you want to know more about Ksenia who started this story card thing for me, you can see her website, social media, and read about all the ways I want to be like her when I writerly grow up.) 

 

Fashion, Showcasing other Creatives

Masquerade, hide your face so the world will never find you

*Name that tune*

Hehe, but you guys, I’m living the dream. I was invited to the ball! not just any ball – the masquerade ball. See for yourselves <3

 

CIB Photo Booth RnJ by Frugoli-2096CIB Photo Booth RnJ by Frugoli-2098CIB Photo Booth RnJ by Frugoli-2102CIB Photo Booth RnJ by Frugoli-2104CIB Photo Booth RnJ by Frugoli-2105CIB Photo Booth RnJ by Frugoli-2107

 

Now that you’re completely floored by those breathtaking photos:

Mad photo cred to Frugoli photography.
Check out her site.
If you’re in the Peoria area, hire her!

All the masquerade photos were jaw-dropping masterpieces.

No matter who or where you are:

Check out her archetypal women series….Stunning!

Also, gotta shout out to my fun-loving cosplay-geekery-friend Kim Kouski for attending the ball with me and rocking those photos 🙂

Okay, enough of the plugs. Go find a mask, wear it, and live the dream life for a moment 🙂

for the Bookworms, for the Creatives, for the Writers, Showcasing other Creatives

Why I wanna be like Ksenia Anske when I writerly grow up

Although, let’s be real: Ksenia and I don’t plan on actually growing up in our writerly lives. It’s more like staying daydreaming children forever, but then pretending to be grown-up long enough to do the business stuff.

I don’t remember how I discovered Ksenia. But I do remember what stuck in my mind about her:

  • She said, “Reader, you are my publisher. Share my books.”
  • She gave away her books for free, as in all of her older drafts of her story were publicly available to read (maybe still are) and you can even still download her stories for free.

Why did that grab my attention? She saw the value of her readers. That readers are what make or break a story. That’s what I want my philosophy to stay forever.

And she has a mindset of abundance, not scarcity. Those are artistic buzzwords right now, but they ring true. Artists can tend to want to hoard their ideas, their best work for themselves, as if there’s a finite capacity. But we need a mindset of abundance, that we can throw it all out there and celebrate others successes too, because creativity is infinite.

Why else do I want to be like Ksenia Anske “when I grow up”?

  • Curly haired people goals!
  • Quirky personality
  • You are getting to know the person through every online engagement.
  • She is authentic – what she’s learning, what she’s done wrong, it’s all out there. You’re following the journey, the person, not just book sales promos.
  • She’s always learning and sharing what she learns. I’m sure paying attention.
  • She’s not afraid to work out of the box, experiment.
  • It all comes back to her READERS! They support her because she supports them. She listens to their feedback and engages with them.
  • Need proof? Anyone who read her last email newsletter, she requested their address and she sent them a card with a personalized short story.

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the story Ksenia sent me

  • Note the above bullet point also goes back to the concept of abundance rather than scarcity. She didn’t freak that she wouldn’t have enough stories in her for each person or that she wouldn’t be able to send cards to her readers because of the expense. She just said she’d do it, then she did it.
  • okay, I’m losing track of what these bullet points are for and when to use bullet points and when to not….
  • Switch gears!

I’ve read two books of hers:

  1. Rosehead. Magical realism at its finest. If you want a quirky read about a girl and her talking dog and a carnivorous garden, this is it! Everyone’s been looking for a book about a carnivorous garden, right? 🙂

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  2. Blue Sparrow. A collection of tweets on writing, reading, and the creative life. Motivational, inspirational, even instructional (mostly “KEEP WRITING!”). My favorite detail would be that it’s 140 pages long, with 140 tweets. Like an inside joke for us Twitter users 🙂 And to whet your appetite, check out a couple of the tweets:

 

So now you know what I’m working towards. Quirky writing. Lovable hair. Personable interaction. Perspective of abundance. And reader centered. Check out Ksenia’s work for yourself….you won’t regret it!

for the Creatives, for the Writers, Showcasing other Creatives

Guest Post: How Ghostwriting is Hurting the Book World

Olivia J has agreed to share her concerns about ghostwriting here, and you can check out my defense of ghostwriting on her site. What a fun collaboration <3 Read the posts, then join the convo 🙂

“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say,” -Anais Nin
 
The picture that started it all:
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This launched me and Amy L Sauder into a debate on ghostwriters, so here we are. 

Ghostwriting, or, more generally, ghosting, is not a new concept in the art world. Even Mozart himself was paid to ghostwrite music for wealthier, more famous men of his time. This process involves Person A creating a work, or even doing a varying amount of collaborating on a work with Person B, but then Person B getting credit. Sometimes this includes Person A’s name in smaller print on the front of the book, or not being included at all. Regardless, ghostwriters are paid for their work.

However, I have some criticisms, as per usual.

(For clarity, I’m going to be talking about ghostwriting concerning books.)

1. Exploitation of the Ghostwriter

Sure, ghostwriters consent to what they are doing. However, it still takes an amount of . . . castration to get very little or no credit on something you worked on. It strips away the integrity of the author. By no means am I talking about truly collaborative works, where two authors write a book together because that’s an entirely different process than ghostwriting. 

How ghostwriting exploits the author is that it takes away the beautiful creative control of the author: it strips the author of what they do best. By having a shadow, by having someone to always answer to, this confines the author. It confines the author even further because these authors sign contracts to write so many books for someone, or to have certain requirements when they write. There’s nothing more hellish that I can think of than putting a cap on the creativity of writing, by controlling and stifling an author. 

Don’t get me wrong, ghostwriting can be a way to launch the author into the publishing sphere, but rarely do I believe that that’s all an author should aspire to be. 

2. All About The Money

The problem is that by slapping a popular name on the cover, it appeals to the pervasive consumerism and fame obsession in this society. By having ghostwriters, it allows famous people to sell books, regardless of whether they are telling good stories. It only adds to the tasteless, bland array of fiction. James Patterson has so many books out because people pick the book up with his name on it and expect the same thing. Name recognition or fame should not sell books, even though publishing has become a toxic industry. 

FullSizeRender (10)The reason that authors like Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, etc. use ghostwriters is because of the high demand for their books. Or, rather, the types of stories they tell. This only indicates that these books sell because they have their names on them, not because of the title, cover art, or actual content inside, which is absolutely despicable. The promotion of ghostwriters only promotes writing as a business, not an art form. There should be a happy medium between the business of bookselling and writing as an art, but ghostwriters are not the way to achieve that goal. In fact, ghostwriters only push the flow further into the toxic business sphere. 

3. Cheapening of the Craft

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Sure, everyone can write a book, but maybe not well. This is not to discourage anyone from writing a book if they so please. But what ghostwriting does is that it cuts out a significant chunk of the struggle, the art of writing. 

People like Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Zoe Sugg, and other celebrities don’t write a significant chunk of their books; however, they can still claim to be an author of a book. It takes all of the blood, sweat, and tears out of writing. Every ounce of pain, of late nights you’ve spent writing, every blank page, every scrapped draft all becomes for naught because someone who only pitched some ideas for a book is now credited as an author. 

Another problem is that celebrity (fiction) books combine two types of people: writers and non-writers, and this can create disastrous results. Sometimes, what the celebrity/non-writer wants to create or wants to happen isn’t exactly good concerning the objective parts of fiction. This leads to books on the shelves that aren’t the best they can be. Art should always be about making the best the individual can get, always improving. But by allowing half-assed work on the shelves just for money only cheapens writing itself. 

By allowing ghostwriting to populate the scene, it almost degrades the hard work and art that others create, just because someone had enough money.

~

Granted, there are exceptions. Autobiographies are one, because biographies are more of a historical account than a creative work. Biographies, and other nonfiction, don’t conform to the same genre conventions that art or novels do, which is where the problems arise with ghostwriters and books. 

Maybe I would consider ghostwriting, just for the money. But never, under any circumstances, would I make that my career or the only creative work I was writing.

Tread lightly, fellow authors,

~The WordShaker


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Olivia J, The WordShaker is just that: a word shaker. She is a writer, artist, creative extraordinaire, and skilled in the ways of procrastination and being too blunt. She’s going to be a loving wife, mother, published author, speaker, and professional adventurer someday – and whatever else God has in store for her. Olivia has had three short stories published in her high school’s writing journal, and received merit awards for her art in numerous art shows, started and fosters her own creative writing club at her high school, and plans to go to the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Social Media Links:

Instagram: @olivia.j.the.wordshaker

How awesome is this Wordshaker!? 🙂 What do you think about ghostwriting? Does it add or detract to the literary world? Check out my Defense of Ghostwriting on her site (don’t forget to follow her while you’re at it!), then join the convo in the comments below.