Emotions are the wind in the sails for any prose or poetry. It's the one element that you can't be without or your writing becomes as flat as gingerale left uncapped. Through prose, poetry, fictgion or memoir, you will learn to get your emotions on the page. Here is a course description:

Course Description:
Emotions Into Art (online) How do writers make you laugh and cry? Designed for beginners and for those who would like to spike up their writing and gain mastery, this course begins by exploring emotion-packed fiction, short prose, and poems, to discover tips, tricks, and strategies for making the reader ache, cheer characters on, reach for the Kleenex, or hold their sides with laughter. You’ll learn about tone, hyperbole, understatement, pacing, implication, and more. Through stimulating writing exercises and short reading assignments, you are encouraged to find your own voice to create short writing (prose or poems) about yourself /and or fictional characters that grab the attention of both readers and editors.


Interview with Rachel Dewoskin by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

Rachel Dewoskin’s brilliant novel about Judy Lohden, a sixteen-year-old with a huge singing voice at a high school for performing arts who just happens to be three foot tall, sets us into the darkly comic, but risky world of adolescence where something horrific happens.

From the gut-prose you can tell Rachel is comfortablein the world of teens. This comes from having been around teens long before she was one herself. Her mother is a high school English teacher who filled the house with her students. Now Rachel teaches at the University of Chicago and although most of her students are no longer teenagers, they have that same kind of eagerness to “connect-the-dots” intellectually that makes them a pleasure for her to teach. She spends a lot of time reading their work and is intrigued by the way they express themselves.

Through her mother-in-law, a children’s rights law professor who also has a clinic to defend children, Rachel has become fascinated with how America responds to kids, what it means to be a zero tolerance society. “Kids should be forgiven,” Rachel says, “even when they make mistakes.” Her novel asks the serious question of whether or not children should be defined by their worst moments and if so, for how long?

Rachel says that the goal for a novelist is empathy, which helps you get into characters minds. “Hopefully,” she says, “some of the empathy you use in your fiction can bleed over into your life.”



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First of all a warm welcome to any new readers who are reading this after finding out about it at the Easter exhibition, and thank you for going along.
Putting up - Donna's partner, John, lends a hand
“How did you get on in your exhibition this year?” asked a family member at the annual Easter egg hunt at my parents’ in law. “I sold …. But my reply was drowned out by the collective racket from our four children. 

Karen and Margaret get their displays ready
On paper, Saturday looked like a promising day. The sun shone and, usually, sunshine seems to get people out (one year when Easter fell early, and it snowed, people stayed away until the snow stopped). As I took my place on the sales desk that morning, I reflected on how we’d had more publicity for our event than ever before, and that these two days were for me the culmination of all the weeks of preparation for me and the other members. The carefully completed artworks hung from the screens, which in itself, transformed the look of the cricket pavilion. I’d created a display to show how I designed my Middle Eastern Dance Blog (link below right). The exhibition leaflet, painstakingly re-designed (by me), now included copies of all our artwork and screenshots of any websites, together with details of any member awards and exhibitions, and a room plan on the back page. There were ample copies for all visitors.

I’d made a colourful “newbies info” display plus leaflets to encourage people to join, and although not in the position shown on the room plan, it looked good over the other side of the room. We couldn’t afford the £50 to hire the cricket club’s large TV screen at the far end of the room, but my laptop and 12” screen had a continuous slide show of members’ work for people to look at while they had their cup of tea, coffee or (new this year) hot chocolate, and enjoyed a choice of cakes including (from me) low fat muffins decorated with a swirl of low fat icing, and finished with a small sugar orange segment. Yes, there was even a new tablecloth for the tombola items. We looked set to do well this year.
Some of Margaret's swans and other artwork
Reaching the end of my hour, I did a quick count up of the tombola takings, and was a bit concerned to notice that we were well down on this time last year. I went off to vote for my “best in show” and then spent the rest of the day in the kitchen (I’d wanted to talk to people who were viewing my artwork, but as the number of visitors dwindled to practically nothing, there didn’t seem to be much point). The mini heat wave had encouraged people to do outdoor activities or head for the coast, and who can blame them? Takings for the kitchen were also meagre, despite a cricket match taking place outside, and none of my friends or family came this time.

I wasn’t there on the Sunday, but returned at the end to help with clearing up, and Gill told me that the second day had been better attended, thank goodness. I collected a couple of “squid” from sales of my greetings cards (no paintings sold this year, I'm afraid - thank goodness I took some cards, so I didn't go away completely empty handed), and it was all hands on deck with cleaning and tidying up before we locked up and left for the day.

By the Monday, Kevin e-mailed us all with the results of “best in show” – I had the dubious distinction of having polled 6 votes for two of my artworks, as good as John (one of the other non (paintings)-sellers and better than Elizabeth (another non-seller). I must be doing something right after all … Karen had won best painting and best artist in show with “Who Me?”, a portrait of an ape, so congratulations to her.  I'll include a picture of this next week, as long she agrees with me to showing it on my blog.
One of Maggie's decoupage cards - notice the hexagonal shaped cutouts
Three things struck me about this year’s exhibition. Firstly, that it was like revising for an exam, trying to cover as much ground as possible, as you never knew which parts of it you were going to be tested on. For me, it turned out to be the hour or so spent printing out cards that paid off, rather than the many hours spent doing other preparation, and also (from the group’s point of view) baking the cakes, which proved very popular.  I seemed to be complimented more on my cakes than my artwork.
A selection of members' greetings cards
Secondly, some people were charging more for greetings cards this year, particularly Maggie whose decoupage cards had taken many hours to produce. In fact, some of the “bargain box” paintings were the same price. Perhaps I could start increasing the price of my cards and reducing the paintings that haven’t sold until they meet in the middle …..

Of course the most important thing learnt this year was that the weather has to be right. No amount of publicity is going to help if it is too hot or cold outside. Rain can also put people off, but mostly if it’s an outdoor event (last year’s Patchings springs to mind).
Taking down - Gill gets to work
For next week, I’ll be continuing to complete some of my oil paintings. I might keep on getting the Clowne Montage one out for exhibition every year, adding more to it each time.  Another likely subject may be our forthcoming tabby kitten, which I'm hoping we'll be bringing home next week.

For those of you who couldn’t get to the exhibition, I managed to organise a short film of it, which I will be putting onto my “Artists of Derbyshire” Face Book page and my own profile next week, once I’ve edited it.  I'm not sure if I am allowed to put videos on my blog as it is published on Kindle, but I'll check the Kindle rules when I publish my other one on there in the next week or so. 

Onwards and upwards, then.

Happy Passover and Easter

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I'm in the white shirt, my husband next to me. The wonderment of holidays is that you make time to be together. Enjoy yourselves!



As ready as I'll ever be ...

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I think I’m about as ready as I’ll ever be for Friday. I had a go at completing my rabbit on my snow bunnies picture, but am not quite satisfied with it. The bunnies look a bit too different to each other, and I wanted them to look more similar. I might not put this picture in this year’s exhibition, and will probably keep working on it afterwards instead. I’ve printed off a few greetings cards of my work, and am waiting for some cellophane bags to arrive to put them into – they’re in the post. My new design for the leaflet went down well with the art group. I have put addresses for all our websites into it, plus screenshots of the front pages of them all, and I’ve added details of Kevin and John’s forthcoming exhibition and display respectively. We have plenty of copies of the leaflets for this year, and I am wondering if I’ll get more traffic to my website and blogs this way – hope so!

My son may be in this week’s Derbyshire Times with his paper mache ladybird, as apparently some of the winners from his school have been photographed.
Meanwhile, the event seems to be turning into a food exhibition as much as an art one. I’ve made one batch of blueberry muffins, and both they, and the healthy eating carrot and orange muffins I mentioned last time, turned out to be very freezable, so that’s exactly what I’ve done. Here’s a link to the recipe.  They came out like muffins not scones, as the first comments suggests, and I’ve tried and enjoyed the icing suggested in one of the comments and so will be using it myself. http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5225/orange-and-carrot-muffins

Angela Davis-Gardner went to see Puccini's Madame Butterfly with a friend. After Madame's Butterfly's suicide because Pinkerton, the American officer she'd been in love with and had a child by, returned to Japan with his American wife, Angela's friend said, "I wonder what happened to Buttefly's child?" After a couple of years of research, Angela ended up with this socko novel.

Lesson: Always listen to other people's questions and your own for inspiration.


The "Marmalade Sandwich"

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At school, I remember one of the other girls had a bag with a cute and cuddly Paddington Bear on it and a caption underneath that said something on the lines of “Life is like a marmalade sandwich. You only get out of it what you put into it”. As with life, so with art exhibitions, and I seem to have done little else but prepare for ours for about the past month. As my son will be off school next week, I’m having to complete all my paintings by Saturday, to give the oils time to dry. The triptych is almost complete now, and I’ve used a magnifier to try and get all the tight angles looking as good as possible. The devil’s in the detail.

At our last meeting, Karen had the idea of a “new members display” with information about the club, to encourage people to join. I therefore threw something together on Sunday evening while the little one was in the bath (which resulted in rather a long bath!) but what I hope is an effective display that does what says on the tin.

I’ve let several newspapers know about the event, and (feeling a bit like a Jehovas witness), distributed some flyers amongst friends and family (“you can use it as a shopping list if you don’t want it”), and put others up in libraries and other public places.
Exhibition leaflet - the boxes around the text won't show
Finally, I’ve re-designed the leaflet. The previous one hasn’t had any space for members to show samples of their work or list their websites, awards or exhibitions, so I’ve added these in, and also a floor plan – although the cricket pavilion isn’t a big area, we’ll be putting a lot into it. A bit like a marmalade sandwich, really.

I’ve also test baked a batch of healthy options blueberry muffins (see last week’s post), to be sold in aid of funds. Elizabeth (another art group member) was my poison tester and gave them her seal of approval. I have also test-frozen one of them to see if they freeze well. I haven’t test defrosted or test eaten it yet. And I spent yesterday morning helping Elizabeth get her paintings ready for the show. As she has arthritis, it is difficult for her to frame her paintings, so I helped by cutting the edges off to neaten them and wrapping then in cellophane to keep them clean and make them look presentable.

As with marmalade sandwiches, so with art shows. But will I get anything out of it? Watch this space.

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What in the world was Paul Giammatti doing with such a gorgeous woman in Barney's Version? Really, there is something terribly wrong with this equation. Just once I'd like to see some homely woman snare a hunk. Anyone know a movie where this has happened? I'm all ears.


Guilty or Gilty?

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It's coming along ...
I’m continuing to add figures and new bits to my Clowne montage. These two medieval ones represent the trading cross’s past. I have been considering how I’ve positioned the man, he looks like he ought to be pulling something, perhaps leading a horse along, so watch this space.

Our leaflet folds into three, and has another side with more info and members
I have been editing the Art group’s leaflet for this year’s exhibition, and will print off more than last time, as they seem to go very quickly. I think it would be good for visitors to have the organiser’s contact details in case they want to join – we could perhaps do with one or two new members. The group didn’t want to have a stand at the Clowne Gala, as they didn’t think it would help to find new members. Other local interest groups use it like that (or to raise funds), but perhaps we are too specialised. Anyhow, we do welcome beginners, as well as more experienced people, and if anyone is interested, the first session is free.

We all have to bring a cake or two to sell to help cover the cost of hiring the room. I have been trying to find healthy options recipes (I’ve noticed how people like to enjoy themselves without feeling guilty), and have found some reduced calorie muffins on the BBC website, these sounded easy to make, though, and I can put some Easter decorations on them to make them prettier. Here’s a link to the recipe: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5225/orange-and-carrot-muffins. Usually we have beans on toast for lunch but this time, John is producing something particularly yummy for us all – he likes to take an English recipe and give it a Caribbean twist. I’ll report on it after the event.

Finally, I am going to produce some greetings cards from my artwork. If buying a painting is too extravagant for many people, they might go for a card instead – and perhaps frame it. A guilt free option – unless it’s a gilt frame, in which case they might feel “gilty” instead. Enough of my ramblings – more progress next week.

This is by Tenesse Williams. Notice how you don't have to be explicit. YOu don't have to name the tragedy. This could be in light of any tragedy. But if you get at the underlying feelings, your writing becomes universal, applicable to every person, every situation. This poem was written by Tenesse Williams in the 20's. Think about it in light of the tsunami. Love, Roey TENNESEE WILLIAMS POEM YOUR BLINDED HAND Suppose that everything that greens and grows should blacken in one moment, flower and branch. I think I could find your blinded hand. Suppose that your cry and mine were lost among numberless cries in a city of fire when the earth is afire, I must still believe that somehow I would find your blinded hand. Through flames everywhere consuming earth and air I must believe that somehow, if only one moment were offered, I would find your hand. I know, as of course you know, the immeasurable wilderness that would exist in the moment of fire. But I would hear your cry and you’d hear mine and each of us would find the other’s hand. We know that it might not be so. I’d hear your cry, you mine— And each of us would find a blinded hand.

Think of a sixteen year old boy who loves his horse so much that when it's sold to the military at the outbreak of WWI, he lies his age, joins up, and sets out to find him. Of course there's more to it than that, but any story about a boy and his horse (or a girl and her horse such as National Velvet) is a winning combo. Steven Spielberg has already bought the film rights to it.

Do you want to share your craft and work one-to-one with an aspiring teen writer?Apply to be a Volunteer Writing Mentor today!Girls Write Now is a community of professional women writers—educators, editors, poets, novelists, playwrights, journalists, literary agents, publishers, and more—on a mission. Since 1998 we've provided guidance, support, and opportunities for New York City's underserved or at-risk high school girls, enabling them to develop their creative, independent voices, explore careers in professional writing, and learn how to make healthy school, career, and life choices.Now entering our fourteenth season of programming, Girls Write Now is seeking passionate writers, teachers, and leaders.The mentor application for the 2011-2012 program year is now available!DEADLINE - June 15, 2011. Early applications are strongly encouraged.Please find the application on our website: www.girlswritenow.org/gwn/join/mentorsQuestions? Contact Heather Smith, Enrollment Chair, at enrollment@girlswritenow.org.

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