Aug 102016
 

About a week and a half ago, I was in NYC with my family and we stopped at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a day of fun. While there, we saw the exhibit, “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” It is about the place where old-school fashion techniques meet technology. It is also about how one technique isn’t better than the other, rather, how both traditional fashion techniques and new techniques in fashion using technology can complement each other. What I found most fascinating about the exhibit was watching the production of the pieces, the hand-beading and stitching, and the intention behind each piece. Great stuff!

Here are some of the most striking pieces I saw:


20160728_114523

20160728_114624

20160728_114730

20160728_114941
20160728_115337
20160728_115400

20160728_115416
20160728_115558
20160728_115619

20160728_115647
20160728_115826

20160728_115919 20160728_115923

20160728_120009

20160728_120012

20160728_120059

20160728_120105

20160728_120139

20160728_120148

20160728_11551520160728_115317

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20160728_11534220160728_114341

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If in NYC, I urge you to check this exhibit out. It is quite beautiful.

I find that viewing beautiful things inspires me to not only find the beauty in life, but also to bring this beauty into my writing and other creative projects.

Happy creating!

Share
Jul 162013
 

30. Moisturize. Enough said.

29. Recognize your part in everything and take responsibility for your action and inaction.

28. Exercise is a necessity. If you work your body, you will work your mind.

27. Fun is essential.

26. There are a lot of bullies in adulthood. Don’t let people treat and talk to you any old way and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Remember, if you don’t, who will?

25. Fresh foods are the key to healthy living.

Fruit Bowl

24. Go to the doctor and the dentist regularly.

stethoscope

23. Don’t say you’re sorry unless you mean it. It comes off as disingenuous and everybody knows that a phony apology is worse than no apology at all.

22. Having good friends is important.

21. ABL. Always be laughing.

20. Don’t talk to people any old way. They’ll always remember the way you made them feel – disrespected and insignificant.

19. Sometimes it’s better said with a look. Remember the folks from The Office?

18. Take a moment for yourself during the day and go to bed on time to ensure that you’ll always be and feel your best.

17. Travel and make photo books.

16. Some people will disagree with the decisions you’ve made and are making in your life. This is okay.

15. Love yourself.

14. Sometimes you’ll go through a rough patch. Just remember – it’s temporary.

13. Splurge on good coffee. Trust me, you will not regret it.

coffee

12. Believe in yourself. Now take a chance.

11. It is okay to indulge sometimes.

10. Listen to what people are saying and not what you think they are saying.

9. Your spouse/partner/significant other is one of the only people you’ve chosen to have in your life. Remember that and treat them as such.

8. Your body tells you everything. Pay attention to it when it’s shouting at you.

7. There are many young, brilliant minds. Respect the youth.

6. If somebody hurts your feelings, be confident and tell them straight away. Under no circumstances should you let those feelings fester.

5. Your tongue can be just as cutting as a knife. Choose your words wisely.

4. Always be in control of your emotions.

3. Life plans are amazing.

2. Have a running list of nouns that make you happy and refer to it often.

1. When you love the people in your life, love them hard because they won’t be around forever and chances are you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Hearts

That’s what I’ve learned in the past five years. What about you? What did you learn in your 30’s or are learning?

 

*Note: all images were created by me – Janina R. Williams. Please contact me for permission before using.

Share
May 122013
 
I sketched these two fellas using Paper by FiftyThree

I sketched these two fellas using Paper by FiftyThree

When I found out Roger Ebert passed away, I felt hollow and sad. Much like the way I felt when I found out that Ray Bradbury had died. He was my favorite short story writer. Most of that sadness has passed and I now feel inspired by the work they’ve both left behind.

Ray Bradbury was a brilliant writer. Most people would probably know him by his novel Fahrenheit 451, but I know him by his short story, “All Summer in a Day.” It’s the story of a girl named Margot who lives on Venus where it always rains and where the sun only comes out once every seven years. It is a wonderful short story I recommend checking out if you haven’t already read it. I read it for the first time when I was eight. It was one of the stories in the Great Books series given to me by my teacher. I read it over the summer and fell in love. I was most drawn to the human aspects and emotions of the story. “All Summer in a Day” changed the way I viewed story telling and writing by opening my mind to the possibility of constructing unhappy endings.

In the same respect, I found Roger Ebert to be a ridiculously talented writer and reviewer. I looked up to him in more ways than one. He went to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, was in an interracial marriage, and loved the city of Chicago. I can relate to all of these things. I went to U of I, am in an interracial marriage, and love the city of Chicago.

Ebert wrote a great piece about his love for his wife. Check it out here: Roger Loves Chaz. It’s a good read. I have yet to write such a beautiful piece about my husband, but that’s another post for another day.

I attended the Overlooked Film Festival in Champaign, Illinois with my husband one year. Roger Ebert showcased a brilliant documentary about amateur boxers. Afterwards there was a Q & A session with the director, which I found fascinating. My husband and I were talking about the movie while exiting the theater when I looked over and saw him walking with two gentlemen. To be honest, it caught me off guard. He was so close. I’d seen him on television so many times, so to see him in person was surreal. I wanted to talk to him, but I didn’t know what to say and by the time I did, he was gone.

My husband and I finally made our way outside and started to walk towards our car when I looked back and saw Ebert. He turned his head and looked directly at me like I was the only person on the street. I said to him, “That was awesome!” His reply? “It was, wasn’t it?” And I shook my head yes. He could’ve very well left me hanging and not answered at all, but he didn’t. It was like he actually cared. I will forever cherish that memory.

I actually thought I’d have the opportunity to discuss his take on writing one day (it’s good to hope), but nope. Now, his books will have to do.

What an amazing legacy Ray Bradbury and Roger Ebert left behind.

I wonder if anybody else will ever come close to their genius.

Share
May 172012
 

Whoa, it’s been a while folks. Sorry, I’ve been you know, living life. But I’m back on the regular.

Recently, one of my friends came by my house and showed me his current picture book project, which is almost complete. It was rather impressive. He’s been working on this project for a while now, so it’s great to see him progressing. Whenever a friend of mine is doing what they love, it’s easy for me to be happy for them especially when they’ve been supportive of my goals. But this visit did something else to me too. It made me want to finish all of my works in progress. It made me want to take inventory of my life.

When was the last time you took inventory of where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and where you see yourself going? You’ve never done that? Well, maybe you ought to try it. It’s a great focusing tool. I try to take inventory of my life about once a year around my birthday. This is always a good time to start anew, don’t you think?

So how do you do it? Here are some questions taken from the My Simpler Life blog to help you get started:

1. Where do I see myself in the next year?
2. What am I passionate about in my life right now?
3. Am I living by my values? Is there any place I am not in integrity?
4. Are my needs being met? Am I meeting the needs of those close to me?
5. What are my strengths? Am I using them?
6. Am I doing things to the best of my ability or is there a place I need to raise my standards?
7. How are my boundaries with others? Do I often feel taken advantage of?
8. Is my daily routine helping me or boring me? Is there anything I want to add or take away from my routine?
9. What is standing in my way of doing my dream? What can I do about it?
10. What am I tolerating in my life that is draining my energy?

Good luck with your life evaluations folks!

Share
Nov 172011
 

I’m attracted to books that help people explore who they are. I’m also attracted to books that help people figure out what they want to do in life. Why? Well, because for years I struggled with what I wanted to do in life. How do you compete with the big dogs when you don’t even know which industry you belong in? Therein lies the conundrum.

When I applied to the University of Illinois, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then I was accepted. I went in general, major undeclared because I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what I was really good at. And there’s a huge difference between being good at something and then being really good.

The truth is I was afraid of choosing a career. I thought careers were forever and that once you chose one that was it – you had to follow through. There was no turning back. What if I failed? What if hated what I chose? I didn’t want to be one of those people stuck in a career they hated. I didn’t want to be one of those people waking up every day going to a job they despised. I was afraid of disappointing my parents, and worst of all, myself. I didn’t want to ruin my life. It was all rather terrifying.

One day, I realized that nobody could help me choose what I wanted to do in life. No counselor, teacher, parent, or friend. I had to make my own decisions. I had to make some choices. Trying not to make the wrong choice was like treading lightly on a ground filled with land minds; agonizing and stressful.

I chose to major in English/rhetoric with a minor in communications. I didn’t realize until my junior year that I wanted to be a creative writer as well as a journalist, but it was too late. I wasted too much time taking a bunch of classes I didn’t need.

If I knew then, what I know now…

I love English and rhetoric, but there will always be a special place in my heart for journalism, media and communications. I love reporting. I love seeking out the truth. Now that I’m older, I can honestly say that not immediately declaring a major was a mistake. I should’ve double majored in Journalism and English right from the start.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been evaluating my life and reading career-centric books. I believe they are extremely useful for a number of reasons. One, they force you to answer questions you have been avoiding. Two, they make you feel like it’s okay to say how you feel. Three, they encourage you to take risks. Four, they inspire you to take action and everybody knows if you want something in life, you’ve got to take action.

I wish somebody would’ve given me a book like this when I was a teenager. I think it would’ve really made me think about who I was and where I wanted to be.

The books below are excellent in helping people to discover who they are:

The All About Me books are amazing. They are interactive, so you just fill in the blanks. There are questions asking about who you are, what you think and what you would do in certain situations. If you want to learn more about yourself, fill out this book and pick it up again in five years. Your answers will blow your mind. No joke! For an extra challenge, fill out the All About Us book with your significant other.

344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment is a book I picked up a few weeks ago. I randomly stumbled across it and decided to order it and I’m glad I did. This is a book of questions geared towards designers, but applicable to anybody. There are questions in this book I’ve never asked myself and there are others I can’t seem to stop thinking about. This book is written in interactive flowcharts, so you write your answers directly in the book. It took me about three days to fill it out and during that time, I found myself being rather introspective. It’s extremely helpful if you’re interested in doing a life evaluation or are at a crossroads and are unsure about what to do next.

What I’m trying to say is, figure out who you are, what you want and then trust yourself enough to go for it. If you let your fear get the best of you, you’ll never know who you are or what you’re made of. Take a risk. Take a chance. Believe in yourself!

On that note, I’m off to work on my novel. Thanks for reading! Good luck on your life journey.

Share
Oct 112011
 

We’re having unseasonably warm weather in Chicago right now, which makes me think of this past summer and my time in Boston.

While in Boston my family and I took a day trip to Salem. Why Salem? Well, because of Nathaniel Hawthorne of course. It’s where The House of the Seven Gables is located and I just had to go. Turns out, it was pretty amazing!

Here’s what I remember from the tour:

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s father died when he was just five years old. After his death, Hawthorne’s mother struggled to make ends meet and turned to her family for help.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a shy child often keeping to himself, and as he grew, so did his desire for writing. He always had a writer’s spirit.

He stayed holed-up in his room in this house and wrote. His mother and two sisters kept his writing secret as they knew how important it was to him. His mother believed in him so much that she would bring dinner up to his room so that he could continue to write without interruption. Even though he had some support around him, he never thought any of the work he produced was any good. Sound familiar?

Hawthorne’s uncle pressured him to go to college and he did go, but he hid his desire to be a writer. Choosing to be a writer wasn’t necessarily received with open arms back then either.

But he continued on and wrote two very famous books in classic American literature – The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables among other things.

And that’s what I think it means to have a writer’s spirit. He always had the desire to write despite the odds against him. He could’ve quit at any time. Many people probably would’ve, but for whatever reason, he didn’t and I think that’s kind of remarkable. To me, he is a true writer’s writer.

If you’re ever in Salem and you’re interested in Hawthorne, I say visit The House of the Seven Gables and Hawthorne’s childhood home. You will not be disappointed.

Share
Sep 292011
 

Good supporters will lift you up; have your back, stand up for you, and root for you to succeed. They will be on the sidelines pushing you to race faster and harder until you win. They’ll encourage you to dig deeper and do better. They will be upset and disappointed if you fail. They’ll encourage you to dust yourself off, pick yourself, and fight until you reach the finish line. They’ll remind you of where you came from and who you are. They believe in you that much. Now that’s good support.

It’s wonderful to have supporters. It makes you feel alive and relevant, important even. Sometimes these supporters will be family members, friends, or strangers. Whoever they are in your life, don’t ever let them go. They will be with you for the long haul.

Do you have this kind of support? If not, ask yourself, do you give this kind of support to others? Now ask yourself how you do that.

Do you ask your supporters how they’re doing and are genuinely interested in the answer? Do you follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, and whatever the hottest social networking site is at the moment? Do you ask them how their WIP is going? Do you read and comment on their blogs? Do you buy your supporters books, artwork, literary journals, and magazines? Do you believe they do good work? Do you spread the word about them on your blog? If you do, bravo! You are a great supporter. If not, well, you may have some work to do. I know I do.

In the meantime, be supportive to others, build them up, and teach them what you know because the truth is you get what you give. Things in life tend to have a boomerang effect.

Doesn’t matter who you are, everybody needs and wants support. There is room for everybody to be successful.

I owe my supporters a huge thank you, so THANK YOU! You know who you are and you are all golden.

My new motto is to be as supportive as I can to others.

When was the last time you thanked somebody for their support?

I want to give  special thanks to Tegan Pratt for supplying these awesome images for my blog. As always, these images do not belong to me, so please do not use them without her permission. To view more of her work, please visit: http://trpratt.com.

Share
Mar 102011
 

A month is all it took to get 103 followers. That’s it – one month. I now know the secret to getting blog readers. All it takes is, wait for it, wait for it, PARTICIPATION. I believe that joining online events, commenting on other people’s blogs and re-posting your blog links on Twitter and Facebook increases your readership. And as much as I like to pretend that I don’t care who is reading, the truth is that I do. I want readers and I want people to comment.  So, I want thank all of my followers to date. Thank you, thank you!

This week I’ve been thinking about self-belief and how so many people are scared to take the next step. Well, I say don’t let fear halt your life.

I have fallen victim to the fear monster as recently as last year when I started doubting myself and my writing. I was in a funk and I needed to get out of it quick if I was ever going to create again. And then one day I had an epiphany. I know who I am and I know what I need to do. Two weeks before the New Year, I took action and made a list. Here’s what was on it:

Join writing societies or associations
Meet more writers
Attend writing conferences
Find a mentor
Get my short stories published
Go to more Chicago literary events
Publish my collaborative children’s book
Finish my middle grade novel

I’m happy to say that I’ve already completed some of these goals including joining the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Through the SCBWI Illinois Chapter, I was able to attend a writing conference/workshop in mid January. It was all about creating your own marketing plan. There was a lot of pertinent information, but one of the most important things I learned was how to generate potential sales for your children’s book. I wanted to share some of these with you. Please note that I have not tried these, but I believe they are useful for any writer.

Here are some ways to generate sales for your book:

  • Network at events, through writing groups and conferences and through social networking sites like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Create relationships/connections through your personal website or blog and get blurbs written about your book.
  • Ask blog owners and other authors if they are interested in interviewing you about your book and offer to do the same for them.
  • Call bookstores and schedule readings and book signings.
  • Be there for the book sellers as much as possible.
  • Join professional or trade associations.
  • Go to American Library Association (ALA) Conferences.
  • Guerilla market through t-shirts, postcards, bookmarks, etc.
  • Use word of mouth to promote your book.
  • Talk about your book to librarians and teachers and see if they’d be open to you scheduling a reading.
  • Schedule 30-40 school visits per year.
  • Create a swag bag for school librarians and teachers. Include a copy of your signed book and postcards of your fellow author friends that are also doing the library/school visit rounds. Think about karma and the idea of what comes around, goes around.
  • Find connections. Can you co-market your book with another product?
  • Try to get your book on Tag.
  • Put your book on amazon and have it formatted for the Nook and Kindle. Your publisher may already do this.
  • Use keywords on your web site and blog to help promote your work.
  • Send info to local chapters (Mondo Times).
  • Follow up with people constantly.
  • Write a press release about your book and submit it.
  • Contact children’s indoor playrooms and schedule a book reading/signing.
  • Think about promoting through: http://www.authorbuzz.com/kids/
  • Promote your book on home schooling and mommy web sites by purchasing ad space.

What are some other ways you can think of to generate sales for your books?

I’m also attending another conference/workshop this month and I can’t wait.

As far finding a mentor goes, earlier this year, I contacted an old professor of mine, Mark Costello. He is somebody I respect and one of the best teachers at the University of Illinois. He is a great writer and gives excellent writing advice. Most importantly, he believes in the craft.

Through our letter writing exchange, (who does that anymore?!) he reminded me that you can’t let anybody dampen your writing spirit, you need to self-teach and you need to go forward. It reignited the fire in me and for that I will forever be grateful.

I realized that although it would be nice to have a mentor, I can be my own and so can you. You just need to believe in yourself and your work. You need to keep reading, writing and submitting and you can’t stop. If you get the opportunity to mentor another writer and you have the time, I say do it. It’s always good to pay it forward.

You can check out Mark Costello’s work here:

The Murphy Stories

Middle Murphy

In other news, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, writing and submitting. I have a series of short stories that I am editing and two are out and about looking for homes. I have also found a trustworthy and incredible editor for my work, which will help me to complete the rest of my short stories in a timely manner.

Here’s what I’ve accomplished so far:

Join writing societies or associations
Meet more writers
Attend writing conferences
Find a mentor
Get my short stories published
Go to more Chicago literary events
Finish and submit my collaborative children’s book
Finish my middle grade novel

That leaves me with half of the things to complete by the end of this year. Will I do it? I can’t say, but I’ll try.

I wanted to leave all of my readers with a few words – make a plan, take action and keep on truckin’ no matter what. Like Mae West said, “you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

Share