Friday, November 30, 2012

Where have I been?

Hi--I've been posting more often at, please check out my posts there. Thanks. I will put some of these on that site and will occasionaly post here with those and other ideas. Thank you if you have checked this site. I'm trying to post information that will be useful to folks Monday: Children and parenting Wednesday: food Friday: writing and performing The occasional Tuesday or Thursday for reviews. Guest bloggers in the arts often take up space on Fridays.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dads When my Dad passed away in February 1987 I felt really lost. I had a wonderful husband, who like my Dad, loved all of us, was a good husband and father to our children, a man of integrity. But still, I missed my Daddy. At his funeral, I discovered that others would miss my Daddy too--many friends and relatives told me that my Dad was the Father they wished they had and implied that they wanted to be the kind of father they knew he was. Humbling. God had given me a wonderful Dad. I knew he was wonderful and I loved him tremendously. My last words to him, on a phone call, were "I love you Daddy." While that was a comfort, learning his meaning for others, I knew I had to share him with others. So, just a few months after his death, I wrote this poem. If you had a wonderful Dad, enjoy this as a tribute to your Dad too. If your Dad was not what you wanted, know that God provides an extra umbrella of his love to make up for the failings of human fathers who do not act as He would want (see Psalm 68:4-5)--and, know that I am happy to share my loving , dear, Dad with you. Shells of the Summer of ‘62 The soft ripple of low tide rolled in to chill our toes. Dad said the damp sand was good for walking. He pulled up the collar of my jacket. Wind was pushing dark clouds our way. There’d be no afternoon of sun and sandcastles. We hopped over lines of soft white foam zigzagging across the strip of brown sand between our place and the ocean. Gulls screeched, “Go back!” I never looked up. My eyes were set to hunt treasures in dawn’s tide. At last I spotted something! An orange fan! A perfect scallop shell! Surf crashed with sudden interest in my search. Foam fingers fastened on my prize, pulling it back out into the ocean. “Dad!” Without even rolling up his pants, He chased the wave back out toward the rocks. He bent over and put down his hand. Another wave swelled up. “Dad, look out!” In another second he was completely soaked. But he had my shell. I have it still.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

creative jump start

Creative Jump Start Notes from Babs Ludwig demo at Sunset River Marketplace When I am stymied on a writing project, I go and do something else--chores (ugh!) and I try to do something else creative. Photos. Cooking. Drawing (not so much since I am not too good). Preparing a performance piece. Making puppets for a performance. Taking a walk. Working on a different project, even if it is also writing. Reading a book for a while. All of these things jump start the mind. Today I got to visit with a local artist who is specializing in collage at this moment in her varied career. Babs Ludwig. She is a wonderful person as well as an incredibly talented artist so it was really a privilege to learn from her. Can you believe I did not have my notebook with me??? I didn’t, so I took notes on the backs of two business cards and a prayer note from the Church's Wednesday prayer group. In no particular order, here is some of what she said that I tried to record: I told her that to me, collage was like jazz on paper--she liked that because her husband, Flash, is a musician! Michael's, she said had the best cards to use to make cards--brand begins with an R I think or was it millennium?--fifty cards and envelopes for ten(less on sale) AC Moore brand, good cards but lousy envelopes. She said that AC Moore has the best cards to use with photos--both types are acid free paper. They are really expensive, but again, if you get them on sale….. Babs on technique--"When using colored paper for collage, make your own. Put medium on paper, color, and then cover with medium again. Using coffee filters, apply the dyes and then spray with medium or brush with medium." (she said art stores know what "medium" is.) She applied the Elmer's to bits of paper with a brush when she affixed them.. Spray with acrylic to cover at the end.Use a special spray for photos if you use photos in your collage. Creative notes Sumi-e book that she read talked about letting the energy flow into you before you begin a project Shakra colors are interesting her now--deep colors that come from within. She is interested in the third eye. Be like a five year old when you go about your art--full of confidence and not worrying what others think. Bits of straw and natural leaves (dried) and flowers are great in collage too--straw looks like birch trees. Sign your art prominently--make it a part of the picture. She told the story of her granddaughter who when they were putting a cat on the back of a quilt and wanted something more to add, decided on butterflies. She took to looking for a book on butterflies to study them and the granddaughter simply started cutting bits of material to make the 17 butterflies. "Never let the world guide your art--only your own creative energy." Babs "Naming your piece of art is very important".--Babs I was also taken by the still lifes she created with shapes of bottles and lines. She starts cutting with maybe an idea of the colors she likes, --others draw first and then do collage on it. Sometimes she does go back and find her old paintings and make them into collage. She does not use found objects in the collage--too much like craft, less like art "Art connects your spirit to everything going on in the universe"(Babs) After the seminar, I saw another wonderful person who creates both full size paintings in acrylic and wonderful miniatures on shells--Sue Coley. I wanted to purchase one of the shells but she had affixed it to a piece of driftwood that I absolutely did not care for, so I had to pass it up-- One of the artists they all knew (Waterway Art Group members who were there) developed macular degeneration and could not draw any more--so she switched to abstract art , reasoning that God gave her the degeneration and knew what He was doing so she switched to abstracts to continue to glorify God with her art." Many artists frame their work and this seems to be what is advised, but often I do not like the frame and that prevents me from purchasing the art--as in the case of the driftwood which "framed" this art on sand dollar--some of the best miniature paining I have ever seen---Sue has a real gift for recreating sea scenes and using perspective in miniatures to create stunning scenes. Creative idea I got from the demo: Good project--send things to a small group of other artists and have them create a collage with it. (She did this with fifteen people, so she had fifteen objects to include in the collage) I may do this in a seminar next time I give one. (BTW I also liked the idea a seminar person gave me two weeks ago of doing Nursery Rhyme haiku)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Business or Family

Yesterday I received the kind of call that every story performer loves. It was especially sweet for a performer/ writer like myself. I was asked to appear as a teller at a group meeting of writers! But the date was April 20, 2013. Therein lies the problem. The trip required an overnight stay. Not a problem except that April 20 is my husband's birthday. I asked him if he wanted to go--half hearted asking really because he hates to plan that far ahead and does not like to attend story functions. He has gone to a few but...... So after receiving his negative reply, I called the woman back and told her that I could not accept their generous fee, offer of potential prime billing. My husband's birthday comes first, I told her. And indeed it does. Gigs and money come and go. Famiiy if love and life and all things important.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cover Art is In

Just back from giving a seminar on my work with pen and in performance to storytellers in North Carolina--as a sort of examination of what I did and how they can do new things in performance and start to write for publication. Meanwhile, my own cover art is in for Giulia Goes to War--Volume One in Legacy of Honor series--suitable for YA intro to WWII on the homefront. Having trouble posting the photo to this blog, but just ask me for the art and I will email a copy to you!

Cover art is in

My cover art just arrived from Desert Breeze. I'm having trouble uploading the photo but if anyone wants to see it I can email you a copy of the file. The book will be released in July--Giulia Goes to War Giulia leaves her small town in Western PA to work in the shipyards in Wilmington. She finds independence, love, and foils a spy plot!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

CD Review

I hope you enjoy this review of a story performance CD by my friend and teller, Linda Goodman Bobby Pins A CD by Linda Goodman Available at or Review by Joan Leotta This is the chocolate fudge sundae of storytelling CDs, except that it is even better than my favorite forbidden treat. You can listen to it without guilt. No added fat, just food for thought. Linda shares stories from her heart, and her western Virginia mountain roots. Three of these stories were new to me. "Pearl" is adapted from one of the stories in Linda's book, Daughters of the Appalachians. The three personal tales delve deeply into Linda's own childhood. She says they are recalled "through the dim smoky haze of my mind's eye." "Nickels and Dimes" explores the relationship with a younger sister. Mustard Seed shows us the truth of the great powers of faith as Linda lived it in her childhood in the mountains. The last, "Bobby Pins" shows us Linda and her own mother in a relationship and leaves us on the positive thought of the positive effect that the little things we do have on others, especially those we love. Linda’s lilting presentation is flavored expertly with the cadence and laconic rhythms of her mountain origins. She delivers each tale through the ears directly to the listener's soul. Linda is as fine a writer as she is a teller. The arc of each tale flawlessly rolls to a fully satisfying end bolstered by superb choices of word dialect and the use of classic literary devices such as repetition, and parallelism. Listen to it for the pure pleasure of the experience or use it to teach yourself about story, Appalachia, people, families, dialect. This tape is appropriate for all ages and for men as well as women. Use it in schools if you want to tell of life in Appalachia or just explore family relationships. At the finish, I was tempted to shake the CD case to see if more stories would fall out. I suppose I will have to wait for Linda to open more of her heart to us. Joan Leotta is a published author and an accomplished storyteller in her own right. Her new ebook, Guilia Goes to War, will be available in July. Visit her blog at or mail her at