Monday, November 27, 2017

The Dance

I'm getting ready for my Ceramic Artist presentation this week in class.  My ceramic assignments are all done.  I'm just waiting for the last two to come out of the kiln.  So this presentation will be my final grade.  And yes, we've discussed that I'm hoping to get an A (I tried not to care too much about grades, but it turns out I do! LOL), but there is something I hope I leave the kids with this presentation.  This is the quote that made me decide that Rob Barnard would be "my" artist...
“In an effort to explain to me what separated pedantic and indifferent ceramic art from the kind of ceramic art that makes us reflect on the very nature of our existence, Yagi held up his index finger and pointed it straight up. This represented, he said, the predictably beautiful; then he turned his finger 90°, parallel to the floor, saying that this position represented what we all commonly think of as ugly. The two positions have a tendency to be fixed in culture, but—and he moved his finger to a position 45° between those two points—it is here, he said, where real Art takes place, vibrating between the beautiful and the ugly.”  (Between Points in Clay, by Rob Barnard, Ceramic Monthly June 1995)    
I loved that description of art.  But there's more.  When I write a book, or an artist creates their art, it belongs to us.  We bring our intent and vision to the book/piece.  And then we're done.  At that point we turn it over to our readers/observers.  They own it at that point.  They bring their own vision to it.  They like it, they don't.  They hate it, they love it.  They see something totally different in it than the writer/artist intended.

Even if the readers/viewer feel they're completely alone in experiencing the book/art, they're not.  The person who created it is a part of their experience.  Even if what they are taking from it is totally different than intended.

That interaction between the creator and the observer is a dance and it takes place somewhere between Yagi's beauty and ugliness in art.

That's what I'm hoping to leave the kids with at the end of my talk.

Literature and art are important.  They have a function.  They make us all look for ourselves in someone else's vision.  And when we find that piece of ourselves in someone else's work, maybe we realize that we are not alone.  That we're all connected.  We are all part of that dance.

Thanks to all my new followers here at Hollyworld, and as always a special thanks to all of you who've supported me and hung out with me all these years!

Happy Holidays!


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Pushing my Limits...My Novel Freshman Experience, Part 20

   Wow, twenty posts on going back to school.  I'll do one more wrap up blog on it this term.  (I'm taking Ceramics 2 next term, so there will be more!  The Hobbit Hole is still in the kiln so I'll showcase that one on the last post.)             

We're glazing now.  And my pieces are coming out of the kiln. 

I'll confess, it's like Christmas.  I know how I wanted them to look, but I've never done it before so it's a surprise!  The uncertainty of glazing is pushing my comfort zone.  You see, I like to know what's coming up.  I like having a plan.  I can plan all I want with glazing, but it's still a crap shoot.  I can look at chips of how a glaze reacts to our clay body, but there are variables and even experienced potters can be surprised by a glazing result.   

I'm doing my report on Rob Barnard, I've talked about him before.  (You can read the post here.)  His career is built around controlled chaos.  He can plan and bring to a project his years of experience, but things still just happen.   “A key dimension of Barnard's aesthetic has been a tolerance for the slight irregularities and imperfections engendered by the wood-firing, and this new work goes a step further. The shows inclusion of a number of cracked and dented works indicates a Zen-like acceptance of all of nature's workings, not merely those that suit the preset needs of man. The results are highly poetic." (Rob Barnard by Alice Thorson, City Paper, Washington, April 26, 1991)   

So, I glazed my cups trying to be free and not worry.  I experimented.  And even though my Kiln Goddess's arms fell off, I'm confident I can glue them back in place.  And maybe I love her just a little more because she's damaged.   

        I tried for a bit more control with my teapot and Hobbit Hole, realizing that glazing effects can surprise even the most experienced potter, like Barnard and Professor H.  I'm hoping for the best. The  professor was very patient answering my repeated questions.    

And my teapot (the quote on the back is from Carry Her Heart...the heroine's garden was the inspiration) I really wanted the matte, rough tree look for the body, but the glossy, color for the flowers, butterfly and leaf on the lid.  I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  

So here's what I'm walking out of class with...a renewed effort to push my own limitations; to push my personal status quo; to experiment.  To find glee in even my failures.  So this class not only gave me an entry into earth art, but it also pushed me to try to relax my expectations.  I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! And thanks for being so sweet and following me on this new journey! I'm already so excited about next term!  


PS If you missed any of my Novel Freshman Experience posts, here are links:
PSS If you missed any of my Novel Freshman Experience posts, here are links:
Part 19Part 18, 
 Part 17, Part 16,  Part 15, Part 14, Part 13, Part 12, Part 11, Part 10, Part 9Part 8Part 7 Part SixPart 5Part 4Part 3Part 2Part 1

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Reinvent Yourself...My Novel Freshman Experience, Part 19

I did my last speech of the year yesterday...Finding Your Sequel.  It was a talk about finding what comes next in your life.  It seemed apropos since Once Upon a Christmas was released's the sequel of Once Upon a Thanksgiving (the third book Once Upon a Valentine's is out in January!).

More than just Once Upon a Christmas, the entire PTA Mom trilogy is about sequels...about three single mothers finding out what comes next in their lives.

So that ideas of sequels has been on my mind. I realize that my life has been a series of sequels...I think everyone's is really.
I was a daughter and sister, then wife and mother, then a writer...those are the biggest things, but more than that, I've been a reader, a cook, a cleaner, a waitress, a lactation consultant, a basket weaver...  So many more.  This year, I've added student back to my list.  

Some of you have been following My Novel Freshman Experience (and thank you for that!) as I talk about going back to school and my glee with my ceramics class.  And even there, I'm focusing on sequels.  Our last project was a narrative piece or teapot.  I chose to use my book, Carry Her Heart as my inspiration.  The quote is all about reinventing yourself.  And I made both a narrative piece AND a teapot.  

LOL I'm an overachiever.  

I love the quote I used.  I think we all reinvent ourselves over and over. And again, that really fits into my recent talks/thoughts on sequels.


PS So many of my books, over time, turned into series because I keep thinking about characters and want to know what came next. (There will be a 5th Maid in LA book next year!).  People keep asking about the order of my books...I've put a list of series in order for all of you.

PSS If you missed any of my Novel Freshman Experience posts, here are links:
Part 18, 
 Part 17, Part 16,  Part 15, Part 14, Part 13, Part 12, Part 11, Part 10, Part 9Part 8Part 7 Part SixPart 5Part 4Part 3Part 2Part 1

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

You Might be a PTA Mom....

In celebration of my new PTA Mom trilogy, let's play a Jeff Foxworthy-esque game:
You Might Be A PTA Mom if...

Here are a few to get you started.  Add your own as a reply and I'll add them to the list.  And to make things more interesting, I'm drawing names from the participants for  some lovely Weary Creek Gift Boxes!

10. ...when you appear in the teacher's workroom all the teachers rush over to see what you brought them to eat. ~Ellen Too

9. know the location of every public washroom in town—field trips help that along. ~Kaelee

8.'ve dressed up in a grass skirt, aloha shirt, and carried around a pink, plastic, blowup dolphin as volunteer reader for the annual Scholastic book fair . . . in a snowstorm. ~Shelley

7. ... your kids' friends call you "Mom." ~Patti

6. You might be a PTA mom if you can sing "Found a Peanut" in your sleep. ~Jody

5. take every school fundraiser to work and then end up having to carry in 100 tubs of frozen cookie dough ~Tammy

4.'ve popped so much popcorn to sell on Fridays that when you go to the grocery store later that day, you notice people around you sniffing the air and saying, "Do you smell popcorn?" ~JV

3. ...the students wave in the hall and say, "HI Laminating Lady!" rather than "Mrs. ____" ~Donna

2.'re so busy with PTA stuff that your husband has to dress out of the dryer in the mornings. ~JV

1. ... if you've ever forged another mom's name on a volunteer sheet. ~Ellen 

So add your own You Might Be a PTA Mom if, or share a story about your time as a PTA Mom!  I'll draw names from the entries in December for the awesome Weary Creek Gifts!

And Check Out the PTA Mom Trilogy...they're available for Kindle and as a paperback!


Thursday, October 26, 2017

New Perspective...A Novel Freshman Experience, Part 18

I will confess, I love that I love that my ceramics class is making me look at the world with new eyes.  I've been looking at regular objects and noticing distinct shapes and textures.  I wonder if I could duplicate them.

Trees and leaves have been of particular interest.  My tree stump teapot gave me a chance to play with those textures.

But the big news of the day is...the Hobbit Hole/Hobbit Book came out of its bisque firing.  It all stayed together.  No explosions!!  Phew.

I had a dream two nights ago that I was leaning into a kiln (which in my dream was rather like my washing machine) and pulling out my hobbit hole in pieces.  I was so upset in my dream.  So today when Professor H. handed it to me...  

Well, I try to contain my glee in class and not annoy the kids.  I mean, someone being a Holly-level of glee at 8 am...even I might be annoyed with me!  LOL  But today, I will confess, I spewed glee all over the class.  And no one threw spitballs at me!  

Have I mentioned that the kids I go to class with are very sweet?  They are.

To the extent when I walk into school in the morning, more often than not, someone holds a door for me.  

My teapot lid came out nice, but Professor H. suggested it needed turned the other way so it read more like a handle.  A leaf handle.  So I did a fourth lid.  LOL  I'm pleased with it!  I forgot to take a pic of it, but I'll get one soon.

With that lid being finished, all my clay-work is done.  I'll need to start glazing soon.  Yes, you'll all probably hear a lot about it.  But now that it's all the clay-work is done, I'm thinking of next semester...I'm taking Ceramics II.  I said at the beginning of this blog I've been seeing the world through different eyes...looking at form and texture.  I really want to experiment more with both.  I have an idea for a quilt...a clay quilt.  I experimented today with that block.  Professor H. said they needed to be thicker, but I think I can get them to read as material.    

I have until January to come up with more ideas.  Uh, January seems like a long way off.  I'm going to miss being in the studio in December.

I'm teaching a workshop in November about Finding Your Sequel...trying something new and learning to see the world in a new way.  That's exactly what this class has been.  It's teaching me a new way to see the world, and I think anytime we can learn to look at things from a new perspective, we've grown!


PS Speaking of new perspectives and new beginnings, my second PTA Mom story, Once Upon a Christmas is out November 1st.  I hope you'll pick the series up!

PPS If you missed any My Novel Freshman Experiences, you can find them at: Part Seventeen, Part Sixteen,  Part FifteenPart FourteenPart ThirteenPart TwelvePart ElevenPart TenPart NinePart EightPart Seven, Part SixPart FivePart FourPart ThreePart TwoPart One

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Becoming Something New...My Novel Freshman Experience, Part17

Emerging as something new.

It's something I've touched on in my books and something I've experienced myself.  

We have so many ways to describe many hats we wear.  I've got a long list...daughter, wife, mother, writer, friend, sister, student, lactation consultant, basket weaver, cook, gardener, furniture refinisher...  LOL  It's always growing.

So many of you have been following my back-to-school adventures...I'm having so much fun adding potter to the list!  Thanks for joining me as I play with clay!  We had to do a narrative piece or a teapot for our final assignment.  I did both.  I thought about using a poem from Tolkien, but ended up using a quote from one of my own books.

Pip in Carry Her Heart talked about reinventing ourselves so beautifully, "Maybe we all repeatedly curl up in a chrysalis and emerge as something else."  She also said, "Maybe we live our lives constantly becoming and rebecoming. Maybe we’re always in the process of metamorphosing into something new."

That idea of becoming something new really resonates with me.  I'm in class with a bunch of young people.  I sometimes want to tell them that they're going to have an amazing adventure.  They'll learn so many marvelous things and become something new over and over again!  I don't.  I try to tone down my glee in the class (though when I said that, one of the kids assured me I leak glee and don't hide it well at all! LOL), but I hope they all discover something new about themselves over and over.  I know that I always keep growing.

I hope you all take a moment, curl up in a chrysalis and emerge as something new as well!  Thanks for joining me here in Hollyworld.  And if you haven't read Carry Her Heart and the Words of the Heart series, they're all on sale now!


PS If you missed any My Novel Freshman Experiences, you can find them at: Part Sixteen,  Part FifteenPart FourteenPart ThirteenPart TwelvePart ElevenPart TenPart NinePart EightPart Seven, Part SixPart FivePart FourPart ThreePart TwoPart One