I am finally back from my long trip, trying to find my way back into everyday life like a turtle returning to the sea.  Or maybe like a small child dipping her toes into the cold water, not really sure she wants to jump in.  But unlike the child, or even the turtle, there’s not much choice when the ocean you are dipping into is life itself.  Picking up and carrying on is the only way to go.

When I left on August 17, I mentioned here that I was called away on a family emergency.  My mother, who has had cancer for the past three-and-a-half years, was in critical condition.  I flew home and spent the next 11 days with her at the hospital.  On August 28 she went on to whatever comes next for us all.  Then came a whirlwind of funeral plans and the funeral itself, packing her belongings and emptying her apartment (my poor family–aunt and uncle and cousins–got stuck with so much of it as I had to return home too soon!), and then a cross-country drive in her car.

Now I’m home, and trying to get an idea of what life is now.  I don’t have any creative plans or goals or challenges to share about right now.  I have only been back for a few days after three weeks and a major life change away, so I am still getting my bearings.  But blogging is a thing I do, and I want to get back to the things I do, to a life not centered around crisis and sorrow.

For now I’m going to continue reading a lot.  I’m going to snuggle my kitties at home and the dogs here at work.  I’m starting a new knitting project, a knit-along that started September 1 (SweaterBabe’s Mystery Scarf Knit-Along).  Knitting is calm and soothing, and also perfect as we move into the cooler Autumn weather.

I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be getting back to anything like normal.  Maybe never–maybe I will find myself making lots of changes and stirring things up now.  Life will definitely be very different.  I used to talk to my mother at least twice a day and often more, small and frequently silly conversations sometimes only two or three minutes long.  Now I will be looking at what will fill those spaces.  For now I’m just being, but I did want to let everyone know what’s going on with me.

Enjoy the slow ride into Autumn!  Take care of yourselves!  And thanks for your patience as I slowly get back to the world.



I’m going to be away for a while–I have to travel for a family emergency. I’ll be dropping my August challenges, although I might pick the Life in Black and White challenge up again for the last few days if I get back home in time.  In any case, I’ll be back with things on my table and projects moving along as soon as I can.  Until then, keep exploring and finding what’s just around that bend.

North Head Lighthouse Path

On My Table–Challenge Progress

On My Table–Challenge Progress

I’ve been keeping up with my August challenges but not doing a whole lot else.  Lots of stuff going on, keeping me a little bit overly busy.  But here are a few recent shots from the Life in Black and White challenge just so you know I haven’t been hiding out in the closet.  Two of the pics are even of the beginnings of a new art journal spread, so I’m moving right along.  I’ll get back to  that taking pics and writing about it thing again very soon!

Life in BW Collage 1

The Eve of August

The Eve of August

August Challenges

I love August!  I have loved August since the first year I went to school (in the Chicago suburbs where I grew up, school starts in August rather than September).  There’s always been so much promise in the start of a new year for me, kind of like in January, but for me I feel that new year vibe even stronger in the Fall.  I love new classes and subjects and schedules, all bursting with good new things to learn and try and practice.

I think my love of that back-to-school wave must have been seeping in even though I didn’t realize it, because this week I signed up for three creative challenges for August–one for writing, one for journaling, one for photography.  I should find plenty of new things to try with these!

Writing: I’m signed up for DIY MFA’s Conquer the Craft challenge, which is actually a 29-day challenge.  I’m going to use it in conjunction with a group I signed up for called My 500 Words that focuses on–I bet you know this one–writing 500 words a day.  After August I plan to do it only one weekdays/work days, but for August I’ll use if for the 29 days of Conquer the Craft.  This might even fit in with my #Just10Minutes practice, at least on some days.  If I’m on a roll, I can write 500 words in 10 minutes, so I might try to push for it a few times just as an extra challenge.

Journaling: I’m also jumping back in on Lisa Sonora Beam’s ROOT 30 Day Journal Project.  I sort of participated in January, but I was still heavily in a Lull phase and didn’t get all the way through.

Photography: And finally I’m doing the Life in Black and White challenge. Thirty-one days of black-and-white photography.  Since getting a digital camera, and then an iPod Touch, I never shoot b & w anymore, and I used to love doing that with a film camera.  I’m looking forward to focusing on some photography plus getting back to black-and-white.  I even got two new apps for my Pod (Noir Pro and Hueless) to try out for the challenge.

So what about you?   Do you get the same kind of vibe I do when it’s back-to-school time?  Any plans to start something new this August? Tell me all about your plans–I’d love to hear them!

On My Table–A Glimpse

On My Table–A Glimpse

I didn’t have anything to take a picture of last week–lots of writing and class planning going on.  This week, though, I do have a little glimpse to share from my upcoming, self-paced Flash Journaling class:

Ready Cropped

It’s cropped and arted up with special effects, but this is a little glimpse of the kinds of things we’ll work on in Flash Journaling (coming out in September)

Right now I’m wrapping up the July newsletter (sign up over there to the right in the sidebar if you haven’t already) and working on a few more things, so I’m a little short on words.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say later in the week.   Meanwhile, join me on Twitter and Facebook and practice doing things in #Just10Minutes with me.  Let’s see what we can do!

Just 10 Minutes

Just 10 Minutes

Just 10 Minutes

What can you do in just ten minutes? What if I told you that you could write a book, paint a painting, clean your house, get in shape?  It’s true.  Ten minutes at a time, repeated over and over again, can get just about anything done.  And doing things in tiny increments takes off the pressure–it becomes stress free and even fun to see what you can do in ten minutes at a time.

I first started using a timer and ten minutes when I read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.  She recommends doing timed writings and trying out different time increments to see what works best for you.  (I found 10 – 20 minutes to be my zone.)  Then I started participating in NaNoWriMo where, to my delight, I found word sprints to join in on.  My favorites, the ones that got me to 50,000 words in 30 days six times, were the 10 and 15 minute sprints.

And then I found Kaizen-Muse™ and discovered that you can use these little pieces of time to do all sorts of things! During my trainings, Small Steps became my favorite Kaizen-Muse™ tool, and it’s still my favorite.  I am consistently amazed at how much can be accomplished in tiny chunks of time.  Give me a timer and turn me loose, and I feel like I can do anything!   I really do love my timer and my Small Steps!

And that’s what brought about this post and this new idea.  What if we all take those big, important, maybe feels too heavy tasks and ideas and break them down into ten minute chunks? What if we encourage each other to try doing just ten minutes of something we’ve been wanting to do?

Let’s take this to Twitter and Facebook.  Use the hashtag #Just10Minutes.  State your goal.  Share what you’ve done.  Get a boost.  Give someone else a boost.  Let’s take those dreams and get them started, together, in Just 10 Minutes.

On My Table–Plans

On My Table–Plans

I didn’t get to an On My Table post last week because the July 4 weekend was so full of fun GEAR Con hijinks I didn’t squeeze in any time for painting or arting at all.  To be honest, I didn’t do much of anything over the last week either because soaring temps left me flopped in front of the fan.

I did run across a need for a long range planner, and I couldn’t find anything to fit the bill, so I made this:

Planner 1

I really wanted a place to show the next several months at one time so I can see what I have planned (I have a few cool, self-paced classes planned and other fun stuff, too).  I want to be able to keep track of what kind of schedule I need to have going on, and I need to know further out than a month at a time.  Apparently I’m the only one who needs this?  Or I’m looking for the wrong thing, because I couldn’t find anything to download or buy a paper copy of.  So I grabbed some scrapbook paper and markers and made a thing!

The paper is pretty pink-flowered glittery stuff (the little ATCs are made from the leftovers after I trimmed the paper to size).  I used my favorite PITT pens and made some rectangles, and now it’s ready for me to start filling in the blanks and getting things ready to plan and schedule so I can send all sorts of fabulous stuff out into the world!  Stay tuned…this planner is the start of something wonderful!

Be A Copycat

Be A Copycat
Crazy Face Jack

An original worth copying

We all get stuck sometimes.  That painting won’t come together, the next part of that story won’t flow.  We can’t get anything new started.  What should we do?!


No, really.  Copy something you like.  Draw the Mona Lisa in crayon, rewrite “The Raven” using other words.  Copy, but add a twist.

Why? Because it gets you moving, it stirs up your creativity.  You connect with something creative that you like and you engage with it, and this helps your own creativity get up and moving.  And it often happens that once you get the brush/ pen/guitar pick/camera moving, your own thoughts and ideas start coming through loud and clear again.

How do you do this so you don’t end up just copying and never getting to your own work?  First, I don’t think that will happen.  We’re creatives, so eventually our own voices are going to make themselves heard.  But to help avoid delaying the message, try this:

  • Use elements of the original in something brand new of your own (like a fan fiction story, for example).
  • Examine the original for things it would be easy to change–colors, genders, number of people in a story or objects in a painting, time period, location, etc.
  • Pick one thing from your list and start making that change.  If you started your copy before thinking about changes, just start adding the changes from where you are.  No need to start over.
  • Pick another thing from the list and start making that change.
  • Think about other works you like and see if you can incorporate elements of one or more of those into your copycat work.  It doesn’t have to be something in the same genre or even the same medium.  A sketch of a favorite book character in the background of your Mona Lisa?  Of course!  “The Raven” flying off to a music store and playing a violin?  Why not?  Mix and match–it’s a fun game and very freeing.  Be as silly as you can!
  • Take your favorite elements from your play time and try them out in whatever you were feeling stuck on.  (It’s okay if you can’t find anything that will work–just take a look to see if there’s something there.)

Will this exercise always directly help your current work?  No, not directly.   It will always help shake things up, change things around, get things moving.  Sometimes you’ll find something that helps move your current piece along.  Sometimes you’ll find that you just had a good time, and that’s worth plenty all on its own.

Cover Reveal–Soul Prompts!

Cover Reveal–Soul Prompts!

I am really excited to share this with you. I love writing prompts. I also love work that takes me deeper into myself and helps me listen to my own inner wisdom. I think Soul Prompts by my friend and fellow writer Morgan Dragonwillow is going to combine those two things beautifully, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
And now, I turn this over to Morgan to introduce her latest treasure to you!

I am pleased to reveal the cover for Soul Prompts: Finding and Hearing Your Inner Voice.

Soul Prompts Book Cover2d

Soul Prompts is a spiritual writing experience that gives you a direct line to the source of inspiration.

If you could communicate with your soul would you?

If you could hear what your soul’s plan is for this life, would you want to hear it?
What if learning to communicate with your soul could help you get your words on the page?
Soul Prompts will help you connect to that voice within whether you want to have a deeper spiritual life, a better understanding of your purpose, discover which path to take next or to help you get your stories written.
Are you open to the possibilities?
It’s time to have a conversation with your soul.
This book is for you if you want to:

  1. Take your writing to a deeper level.
  2. Explore your connection to your soul.
  3. Live a more spiritual life.
  4. Have a better understanding of your writing journey.
  5. Figure out your next step.
  6. Discover where your words come from.
  7. Learn why your soul chose this life.

And so much more.
Soul Prompts: Finding and Hearing Your Inner Voice – Paperback and ebook – coming out this October!

This beautiful cover was created by the artistic and wonderful Andrea Moore! Working with her was a pleasure and she was very patient with my questions and suggestions until we were both happy with the results! If you are working on a book and don’t have a cover yet, I highly recommend you have a chat with her!

Andrea Moore a

Cover Artist

Andrea Moore grew up in a town so small, on top of a marsh, that the mosquito was considered the city bird. She uses her degree in computer graphics and her artistic abilities to sprinkle joy throughout local consignment shops and Etsy. Andrea is now breaking out of the box further as she explores the adventures of book cover creating.

Fun Trivia Game
What’s a party without a game? In this game you will hop from one blog to the next, finding the clues and when you think you have the answer, go back to Morgan Dragonwillow’s post, Soul Prompts Book Cover Reveal Party, and put the answer in the comments. The first person with the correct answer will win a signed copy of Soul Prompts and a $10 Amazon gift card. Have fun!


Where in the world is one of my favorite places to sit or walk and connect with the source of creation and to remember we are all one?
CLUE: There are a lot of trees. Next stop L.S. Engler’s Writing Blog
Good luck but most of all have a great time!


Me aAuthor

Morgan Dragonwillow is a poet, survivor, lover of all things magical, dancing with words, recovering perfectionist, and indie author that (mostly) doesn’t let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. She is team leader at @StoryDam and creatrix of #OctPoWriMo. She lives in Marietta, Ga. with her loving and patient partner, their dog that thinks she’s a princess, and the cat that reminds her that she isn’t.


On My Table–Pocket-sized Pleasures

On My Table–Pocket-sized Pleasures

Early last week and the week before I was so busy I didn’t even get to do an On My Table post.  I didn’t have a chance to actually make anything, either.  It was kind of sad.  So over the weekend I made up for it in spades!

The finished Symbols ATCs--10 tiny paintings for my 100 Paintings Project

The finished Symbols ATCs–10 tiny paintings for my 100 Paintings Project

As you can see, I finished up my ATC paintings.  Ten tiny (2.5″ x 3.5″) painted symbols for my 100 Paintings Project (and a swap I was in).  I’m really happy with them and will probably do more of these, maybe another set of symbols or maybe a set of something else.

Toward the end of the week, my new Gelli Arts plate– 3″ x 5″ and perfect for the little projects I love!–arrived in the mail.  So over the weekend I spent some quality time with the new toy, too.

My new Gelli Arts plate and some prints on tracing paper for future 100 Paintings Project fun.

My new Gelli Arts plate and some prints on tracing paper for future 100 Paintings Project fun.

The rest of this week has a lot of writing work to do and then a Steampunk convention over the weekend, but I’m hoping I’ll get in more play time so I can share what I made with you next week.

What are your plans for this week?  What are you making?  Leave a comment and let me know, and if you have photos please share a link.  I’d love a look!