Transforming Power of Art

I hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of good people and good eats! I cooked two turkeys, made two different cranberry sauce and got to visit with family (42 in total...a few of them couldn't make it). And I'm spending the weekend at the Old Chicken Farm Art Center's annual Thanksgiving Open House.

When most people hear "Chicken Farm," they imagine a stinky, messy place...but fortunately Artist Roger Allen saw a whole lot more when he came across the old chicken farm. Established in 1971, the art center is a mecca of creativity. The three-acre compound is a place for artists to come together, live and work, share and play.

This weekend I'm hobnobbing with woodworkers, painters, sculptors, potters, weavers, soap makers and more. The Open House is three days worth of fun: great food cooked in an outdoor brick oven, musicians performing folk and popular tunes, kids activities, tarot card reading, arts and crafts booths and more.

People have traveled in from all over -- Oklahoma, Hong Kong, Dallas and other parts of Texas, England and more. So much fun!

I'm thankful for artists and their imagination. I'm thankful for the transforming power of creativity. And I'm thankful to be part of such a vibrant community. :)

Here's a Trip Advisor Review of the Chicken Farm.

Do You Haiku?

I had lunch with a friend who writes beautiful poetry, especially haiku. Her three lines are profound and powerful and I love them. Now I'm a word person who is terrified of numbers and so had never even considered  trying to write a haiku.

What is haiku?

Haiku is a short form of Japanese poetry. When written in English, it's characterized by three lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables for a total of 17 syllables.

Creative Writing Now has a more complete answer.

Me counting syllables? Um, no thanks.

But I love reading her poetry and she has led me to look up other Haiku artists. I love how haiku can encompass power and simplicity all at once. I love how a poet can highlight an essential detail and say something about the world. I love the focus on nature and life.

Here's a poem by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694):

Fallen sick on a journey
In dreams I run wildly
Over a withered moor

So during lunch we discussed how each of us came to be writing what we write. Well, for the most part it seems writing found us, seduced us and led us to pursue it in turn. Her first haiku was almost by accident...journal notes that sounded almost like poetry. She played around with the words until a polished version happened. That was the beginning and now her thoughts almost instinctively fall into lines of poetry.

She reminded me of an essential truth: writing should be playful, fun and exploratory. So I decided to try my hand at haiku. Here's my first attempt:

Grey skies of winter
like silk curtains, showcasing
leaves turning golden.

While haiku is simple, this is very simplistic. It catches a moment in time, but there are no surprises. Also, while haiku traditionally is about the world rather than the's important to me to make my writing personal. So here's my next:

The empty page waits
How to change thoughts into words?
An alchemist quest.

Counting and the required brevity makes me more aware of word choice and also word arrangement. So while my haiku isn't amazingly profound, I'm having fun. And that's what matters when it comes to writing.

So do you haiku? Or read it? Share your thoughts. It's always nice to have a conversation.

Surprise in the Mail

Check out this lovely surprise that arrived in the mail....

Isn't it beautiful? Seeing the cover and title of A Tale of Two Djinns on the RomCon Readers' Crown award, the fact that a panel of readers read the book and scored it high enough to earn "best paranormal romance," equals to lots of warm feel-good fuzzies. It's at the moment proudly displayed on my dining table where I can see it every day...maybe when 2014 hits, I'll move it up to my office and onto one of my book shelves. :)

Smiling in W. TX!


Pictures From the Southern Magic Luncheon

Even though I'm in Texas and the Southern Magic RWA chapter is in Alabama, I love being a member (because some of my most favorite writing/reading peep are in it) and I love attending their annual Romance Readers' Luncheon. They have some awesome keynotes...last year it was Sherrilyn Kenyon, this year it was Jeanine Frost...(keep reading to find out about 2014!)

(Posing with Jeanine Frost, one of my favorite authors)

"Romance celebrates emotional & relationship empowerment" ~ J. Frost
Of course, my fun always starts when my awesome friend Carla Swafford picks me up from the airport. Last year, thanks to getting a bit lost, she gave me the most wonderful tour of Birmingham. This year she kept repeating the mantra "No side trips!" and got me to the hotel in time for the Friday reception. We had plenty of laugh on both trips...and that is always a good start to the weekend.

(Carla with my signing dragon and my book at the luncheon)

Here are pictures of some of my favorite peep I love seeing every year:

(Here's M.V. Freeman, the president of SM who seemed to be in 5 different places at one time! I got to sit at her table and received a very nice bottle of Grey Goose vodka...representing her very sexy Russian hero)

Author Naima Simone, who always brightens up any room with her giggles...she, Carla and Heather put together an awesome video which was super cool and super funny. I hope they share it online because you don't want to miss it. Hee, hee...they share it. So enjoy:

 And Heather, one of my favorite readers/librarians ever! But I also made new author Debbie Herbert who had her book come out just the day before...
(Don't you love her cover?)

Of course, Southern hospitality was front and center. Besides welcome bags for every attendee, there were supercalifragilistic baskets given out as door prizes and then others that were raffled cool! Check out the awesome basket I won:

Eeep!!! In other words, Dragon and I enjoyed our visits loads and can't wait to be back in sweet Alabama for the 2014 Southern Magic Luncheon when the keynote will be...SYLVIA DAY!!! Eeep!!!