March was… It’s hard to describe. Crazy busy, super annoying. Big happy wins and crotchety pain-in-ass (literally) setbacks.
On the health front… I started the month still recovering from a busted tailbone, but by the third week, I sat comfortably (with a donut, still). My hand (last September’s fall) is still wonky and I met with the ortho guy who said the continued tightness and swelling are all normal, and if I keep doing my hand exercises, I should, someday, be able to curl my fist again and open a damn jar. Good news on the medical front? I had my second COVID shot and my dd had her first! Now, we have the 16 and 17-year-olds scheduled, too. We’re slowly getting there, but still masking and distancing, and will continue to do so until they have vaccines for the little ones.
On the work front… I finished writing Hardmanand published it! Woot! Thanks to everyone who read it and left a review. Reviews are so appreciated! I also completed 5 editing projects, two of which were loooonnng. They kicked my ass, but they are out the door! I got the rights back to some old books I published through some traditional houses a while ago, so I added them to my work schedule because they need a refurb, and one set of stories needs a readthrough because I want to write more in the series. To say the least, I’m super stoked.
On the art front… I am still slogging through the #100daychallenge, although I’m about ten days behind. Here are some of my favorites so far…
I completed my April calendar yesterday, and it already needs some fixes. I think April is going to be that kind of month—one where I have to be fluid and roll to evade the bombs and sinkholes. The big thing in April is that I have to write a book and publish it. Yeah, I haven’t written page one, but I generally do best when I’m running on adrenaline, and a hard deadline gooses me into creativity.
That book is Hot SEAL, In His Memory, and it’s going to be a hard one for me to write because it deals with the loss of a friend and a husband. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy…
As for editing gigs, I presently have two scheduled, but I had that many scheduled for March as well, and look what happened! So, I’m hoping I’ll have the first couple of weeks pretty free to dive into my new story.
On the homefront, I’ve begun work to get the green scum out of the pool. That’s always a weeks-long thing. I can’t wait to swim!!!!! And my dd is putting in a garden. We’re hoping it does well and that we have a summer full of lettuce, cucumbers, strawberries, blueberries, peppers, and more! I love admiring the “fruits” of her labor, but diggin’ in dirt is not my thing. I’ll maintain the pool, thank you very much.
And I plan to catch up on the art challenge, too. I’m getting better at it, I think. But the purpose is to connect with my creative center. Writing has become a job in my mind. I need to find that spark again.
So, I’d love to hear whether you had big wins in March and plans for April! Chime in for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
It’s Saturday, and I have some ground to cover this weekend to catch up on my schedule! Why did I fall behind? It’s kind of a mash of post-COVID-shot-malaise (there was a bit of fatigue associated with the shot, nothing big), plus the post-book-release-exhale (which is a real thing for me, folks!), but it’s time to step it up because I have a new book to whiz through this month, plus several editing projects. It never ends, and weekends aren’t weekends when you’re self-employed!
So, today, I will be editing and starting the new story. As well, I’m behind on the #100daychallenge, which is an art challenge I take on every year to get my creative juices going. I’ve been posting my paintings online, which is nerve-wracking because some of them look rushed and slapped together, but some of them…? I really like this one. I think it will earn a frame. 🙂
And I still have to promo Hardman, which is my latest release if you didn’t already know. It’s a fun, action-packed story with two very deserving-of-each-other characters. The story was a joy to write because my heroine is a “prickly pear” of a woman. Only Hardman can see her soft inner self, which is as it should be when he’s her perfect match…
Is your weekend book boyfriend Pierce Hardman?
Remember, the book is out there now!
Click on cover to get your copy now!
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me what your weekend looks like!
I probably don’t have to tell you that there’s a pandemic going on, particularly if you live here in the States. Our response has been lackluster and has caused trauma for countless thousands of people here – families directly affected, communities shuttered, jobs lost, and a constant barrage of bad news. It makes it hard to write. Sometimes, it makes it hard to do anything creative.
I don’t have any big solutions. I’m not sure there ARE any right this second. What I can say, is that, sometimes, when we can’t solve something, we have to think outside the box about how to sit with the discomfort and dark emotions we’re feeling. Avoiding them isn’t helpful. There’s a saying in trauma recovery: there are two traumas – the initial event, and what we do with it. And that latter point can make all the difference.
If you’re feeling that you or someone you care about has had a negative outcome from trauma, whether from coronavirus or some other cause, there is help. Seek out a licensed mental health counselor and get treatment. Psychology Today has a great therapist finder, here.
One solution that is highly effective for people experiencing Post Traumatic Stress is mindfulness. It seems like it’s everywhere now – meditation courses, articles, advertisements for apps. But mindfulness is more than just sitting still and counting your breaths (though that is immensely helpful all by itself). It’s about being totally engaged in the present moment, focused on whatever’s immediately at hand. And weavers have known this for centuries.
Getting into weaving isn’t difficult and doesn’t need to be expensive. Yes, purchasing yourself a countermarch loom will set you back multiple thousands of dollars. But that’s not a beginner’s loom, not by a long shot. There are very affordable rigid heddle looms available and a growing body of books and online courses regarding how to make some really cool stuff with them.
But my favorite for when I’m too stressed to even count, let alone work on a larger loom, is the pin loom.
Popular in the 1920s clear up to the 1940s, pin looms are generally small. This one is a modern version called a Zoom Loom, made by Schacht Spindle Company. They create a fully finished piece of fabric, in this case four inches by four inches. These squares can be pieced together in countless ways – like quilting, for example, or to make clothing such as shawls, jackets, and sweaters; purses; and even little plush toys.
I inherited two pin looms from my mother when she died. I don’t recall ever seeing her use them, but I went through a very intense period after a cross-country move and started to play with them. I found a group online that focused solely on pin loom weaving (which is different than potholder looms, those plastic toys we played with as children and that have had a resurgence probably for similar reasons as the Zoom Loom).
I find it calming because to weave a basic square requires no counting or extra concentration. If you want to make textured patterns it’s absolutely possible, but that does require extra focus. And sometimes, I just can’t bring myself to focus that hard. It’s like my brain is overwhelmed from other outside events, and it’s enough to just wind the yarn onto the loom and to weave a little square.
And sometimes, it’s by weaving ourselves back together using simple tools like this that we begin our own process of healing. Trauma is intense. Healing is possible.
I am making the Fox Purse from a book called Zoo Crew, by Deborah Bagley. Check it out, there are some seriously cute projects in there.
About the Author
A. Catherine Noon is a bestselling author, writing instructor, and creative entrepreneur based in Bellevue, WA, in the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not writing, she’s weaving; and when she’s not weaving, she’s knitting. And when none of that happens, she likes to blog. Join her all month for “Self-Care September” – a blog series dedicated to using creative tools to solve the quarantine blues.
Well, Hurricane Laura hooked to the east once it entered Arkansas, so my little town was spared the tornadoes, the 90-mile-an-hour gusts, and the heaviest rain. Whew! We do have a huge yard/pasture cleanup adventure ahead of us because of all the fallen branches, but no huge limbs landed on the house so we’re breathing a sigh of relief. We were even spared power outages. The town next to us had hours of outage, but not us!
While we waited, I kept my computer powered down and unplugged because I didn’t want to risk any damage, so that left me with art projects to keep my time filled with something kind of mindless.
The night before, my sister, Elle James, visited. We caught up on family gossip and she delivered bags of clothes she was shedding from her closet to my girls. There’s nothing quite like her hand-me-downs—some of which look as though they were never worn. It’s always like Christmas. She had a small jewelry bag amid her bounty. I grabbed it up because I liked the pattern and thought it might inspire an art project—and it did.
This was one of the pieces I worked on while the storm raged outside…
So, now that everything’s kind of back to normal, I’ll reset my brain to think about “words” instead of “pictures”. It’s actually rather hard for me to bounce back and forth because painting is such a happy place for me to be these days.
As for anyone who’s made it this far into this post ( 🙂 ), here’s a list of open contests. Be sure to enter today! Some are going away… Tomorrow, I’ll be back with something fresh and fun! ~DD
Let me tell you what I’d rather do than write. I’d much rather go junk shopping. See the “treasure” above that I found at a flea market? It has a heavy glass/crystal base with a lovely tarnished metal adornment depicting cherubs affixed to the top. Yup, a paperweight. I paid a buck for it, and I love it. I’d much rather comb through stalls for little treasures than sit my butt in a chair to write.
Here’s another couple of clues about what I’d rather be doing…
Those are both items I recently completed. I’d much rather make some more just like them. In fact, I’ve been on a whirling dervish reorganizing my very crowded, hoardery art room so I can make room to lay out a dozen projects I’m itching to begin—some painted, some beaded—all not the most important thing I should be doing, but so much more attractive to me at the moment.
I have been editing. And yes, MJ, I’m nearing the end of your story. I’m also working through edits of the stories that will appear in Stranded, which releases at the end of this month. It’s not crunch time yet, but I do need to light a fire under my ass, because I have to write a story for it, too!
And yes, I know I have a gazillion reasons, good ones, why I’m unable to commit to filling a page with new words. Grief, emotional exhaustion—all those things weigh a soul down. But it is true that for months and months I neglected my environment while I whipped through work and family obligations. I do need to restore order for my own peace of mind. (See? I’m making excuses for not writing!)
In the meantime, I’m setting little goals. Edit one short story. Edit 20 pages of MJ’s lovely novel. Then return to the art room to sort through the chaos.
So, here’s a question for you…
Is there anything you’re dragging your feet getting done? Answer for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
That phrase, “filling the well”, sounds almost erotic, doesn’t it? Given when I write, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that my mind goes right there. But to a writer, it means refilling your creative well, that part of you that has to live in la-la-land and needs to daydream.
I’ve been writing since January 2000. Not as long as some, but the longest commitment I’ve ever made to a single job. And I do it because I truly love to write—and it’s a natural fit because I’ve been a dreamer all my life.
I finished another story for Samhain on Sunday, the next in the Firehouse 69 series, entitled, Rapid Entry. (Yeah, I had to go there, again.) But the title’s not the point. My carefully detailed work plan called for me to sit down yesterday and whip out a quick short story, but I couldn’t make myself do it. So instead, I wandered into my very messy art room and made this for my daughter.
I’ve discovered in recent years, that not all my talents are confined to words. And when I’m struggling with a story, I need to refresh my well. Since I don’t want to dread the creative process I go through to dream up my stories, I take mini-breaks to stop and make a necklace or paint something like this…
It’s not perfect, but it explodes with color and took concentration to create, which allowed me to drift—something I have to do replenish my imagination. And sometimes, I make things that are whimsical and just make me smile, like my domino pendants.
Luckily, I can indulge that whimsy because I sell enough of them to keep purchasing paints and brushes and all the crazy art things that are currently littering my workroom. (Does anyone really need a Vintaj metal embosser, or a pasta maker and toaster oven for their polymer clay?)
So, that’s what I do when I need to escape from my computer. What is your escape?
I never considered myself artistic. I can’t draw convincing stick figures. I can’t arrange pinecones to look like anything other than grubby pinecones stuck in a bowl. When I discovered I could write, I figured that was all the artsy goodness I had inside me. My mother is the artist of the family. She paints in water color and oil. Lovely things. And she belongs to an art guild. Well, I joined because she can’t drive at night and thought, well since I’m going to be there…
I’m not even sure how it started, but watching other folks who claimed they weren’t artistic, but were willing to experiment to find something visually creative they could do, inspired me to try as well. I’m a jewelry hound. So naturally, when I discovered Etsy, I combed the sight and found some things I wanted to try. I began with domino and scrabble tile altered art pendants. With paper, rubber stamps, alcohol ink blotches, glue, glitter, jewels, and tons of patience, I’ve made pendants I actually love wearing. And I’ve sold them to other people!! Talk about encouragement—someone else likes what I do! Then I branched into metal stamping and glass fusion. Nothing that requires that I draw a straight line, but I have discovered I’m terrific with color and layering things together. Now, I’m looking at crocheted and beaded bracelets.
I finished this domino pendant yesterday. This one’s very simple. Just paper and glitter.
If you’re on facebook, you’ve likely seen other pendants and decoupage projects I’ve worked on. My daughter’s been there every step of the way, and shared the journey. We’ve found something we love doing together, and we’re constantly conspiring to create new things.
Finding balance between the writing and jewelry-making is becoming a new challenge. For the longest, writing was all I thought I wanted to do. Who knew?
So what about you? Do you enjoy arts and crafts? Don’t tell me you don’t have
that gene. Is there something you’ve thought about trying?
Oh! And this is something simple too. A way I am able to blend my writing and crafty worlds together. I’ll be giving these away when the book releases end of January: