Writer’s Block and Homeschool

008I don’t post enough on my blogs. Its not intentional; its all those distractions Life keeps throwing at me.

For the past month, I blame homeschool. We recently switched to an ‘umbrella’ school, since we grew to hate the Board of Education reviews. Where teaching and learning was once joyous and fun, the reviews forced me to stick with paperwork and textbooks. BORING!

I grew to hate teaching, and my son loathed having to start homeschool. The idea of his going to school bothered me greatly, since it was just more of the boring reading, note taking, and reciting stuff.

Learning should be filled with wonder, even a hunger to know more. People naturally learn all the time, from things that interest them, to the relationships they have, to even the entertainment they consume. But the way we were expected to conduct homeschool, too much like public school, and I was so bored. My son was bored.

In his younger years, teaching was a blast, and my son enjoyed the lessons. We explored all sorts of neat things, gobbling up the material in the form of documentaries, games, field trips, even music, stories, etc.  As he grew older, and the reviewer began to demand more text work (you know, but text books), it just sucked out all the fun and creativity for us.

What I found is that it also sucked out my own creativity. My mind and heart had to focus on my son’s education. I began to second guess everything I did, and writing creativity turned into sitting at a blank screen, unable to type anything but Hemmingway-like sentences, written by a third grader.

Where the heck did the creative muse go? Did she forsake me? Did the orthodoxy of school throttle into submission?

Since we passed our review (and my son is now entering high school grades in homeschool), the umbrella school reviewer is by far more open about creative learning. Imagine hearing angels sing as the clouds part, and this epic soundtrack start- yeah, it felt like that- I can be creative again. I was given the freedom to express myself through teaching but also through crafts and my writing.

Maybe I can’t compartmentalize like a true author should be able to, but I don’t care- I can be free of the shackles now, explore words and sentences, and let go of that self-questioning doubt.

And I should remember that this blog is about The Writer’s Journey, the process to share my words, and ups and down that goes with that.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. I also helped a fellow writer publish his memoir booklet, Walking With Faith. His story tells of his childhood loss of his mother at a young age, his growing up helping community, but later he tells about his battle with cancer, how it helped lead him to helping others with his non-profit, Openheartsopenpalms.org.

He’s a very sweet guy, full of enthusiasm and genuine concern for his fellow man (and woman). He’s working towards building community gardens to feed soup kitchens, and a van to help veterans get to their doctor appointments- just to name a few.

I designed the cover, par his instructions, and published to the Amazon Kindle Singles.

Now I’m on vacation….relaxing, thinking of my own stories to share.

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Booklet necklace

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Since making little booklets (without discernable covers) the other day, I decided to try to make a little necklace of a published book by a friend of mine.

Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames by Peni Jo Renner is a good read. She’s currently working on an audio version of the book, and offers both printed and eBook versions.

These little necklaces could make for a giveaway or prize, or just a not-so-subtle reminder that she did it; she published her book.

I already found the book cover on her Amazon page, then I had her scan the back of the book as well so the booklet necklace reflects her paper back book.

I’m considering making more, if authors are interested. Let me know.

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How I made my blog header

I created my own design for my blog, but I use a template. So I felt it might help my readers if they should want to personalize their own sites.

Your first step is to understand graphic sizes. With some web sites, you have ‘headers’, or banner graphics. There are two ways you can size up theses graphics

1. Right click the mouse over the graphic to get a pop up menu and select ‘save image as…’ . Sometimes, however, this downloads the entire HTML file which is the web page and all the graphics.

2. Go to Google search (or the search of your choice) and type in the blog or web site host. In my case, it was Weebly (for web site) and WordPress (for blogs). Then add ‘header graphic size dimensions’.

For example.

“Weebly header graphic size dimensions”

This searches the web for specifics to the dimension sizes. You often find results will include support or help pages from the host site.

Banner graphics tend to be about 720 px wide. Height varies, and you may find you will need to use the trail-and-error method to finding the correct size.

Once you understand graphic sizes, now you need to design your graphic.

I have Photoshop CS2, but you can also use Sumopaint, Gimp, or Canva will let you design your own graphics.

frootbat31AMake graphics- Consider the elements of branding your site such as texture, color, and of course the graphics you’ll use. If you take note, my banner uses snap shots of actual pages of writing I’ve done. The pencil and computer are separate graphics layered onto a single graphic. I then added the ‘post it’ note.

Where to find graphics? There are plenty of stock graphics, but you often pay money to use, due to copyright. You should look for original graphics by you or someone you know, with permission.

istockphoto.com

Shutterstock.com

IMG_3542Take photos of your writing space, computer, keyboard, pens, pencils, etc. But if you note the photo here, its messy and chaotic. Not a good photo. I’d clean it up first, then add that, or take something more artistic to add.

Alternatively, you can also consider a stream-lined, text based graphic instead.

Once made, upload to your site, but also consider the following;

Matching a graphic for online profiles. On profiles, you can add graphics that use the same color, text/font, graphics as your site, which will further brand your site.

Add the same style to business cards. Again, sparking a ‘brand recognition’ for people.

Do you have tips or suggestions- post in comments. I’d love to hear from you. If you need help, you can also contact me. I can create graphics for a small fee.

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Link share: Book promotion checklist

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Once publishing your work, you’ll need to know how to market. I’m finding that somewhat of a handful, but this web site’s page, Book Promotion Checklist, definitely helps.

Don’t forget to bookmark for later.

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Creative hobbies

Although sometimes, my hobbies distracts me from my writing, I find writing requires the same type of creativity that wells from the same place. So I felt I’d share a few things I’ve made;

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Here I made a tiny book necklace, with working pages. I want to expand to add actual printed pages, and more elaborate book covers. I considered even making my own book cover necklace, from what I’ve published. It offers a way people can ask me about it. Winking smile

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I can make my own die cut files  with the Silhouette Portrait , so I made this Skyrim dragon logo, to let the other drivers know that I know Dragon shouts, and I’m not afraid to use them!

I’m considering making something writing related, like text to say “I’m an author- back off!” or something overly dramatic like that.

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I make handmade cards. This was for my niece’s graduation, with an envelope I also made. When you make handmade cards, you often have to make envelopes to match because size varies. The photo is a bit dark, but it’s a grad hat, with tassel- also made from embroidery thread.

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More fun with die cuts, this time for my laptop. I also made some things for the tablet, including the text ‘learnthepc.net’ which is the name of my business.

 

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And I also do photography as a hobby. Generally, I use my iPhone 4S camera, but I also have a Canon PowerShot SX120IS digital camera.

My son also likes photography, so we’ll go on hikes and take photos together. I catch him taking pictures of me when I don’t know it, which I suppose he has to because I tend to look like a derp if I know a camera is on me.

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This is a hike we did on C&O Canal close to home. Its walking distance, and my dog Pepper loves to explore near the canal, looking for frogs and muskrats. I thought my son, who is 14 years old, did pretty well for a start photographer

What are your hobbies? Do they tie into your writing? Post in comments.

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Mental Floss: Hank green talks ‘charming facts about children’s author’

 Hank Green, bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars, also hosts Mental Floss on Youtube. Here, he discusses some very cool facts about children authors.

 

Your welcome;

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Find Similar or Opposite words at WordHippo

 

One of the biggest problems I’ve been having lately with writing is being unable to stay ‘in the groove’, where the lack of that ‘right word’ eludes me. Then, I found this site. I’m hoping it will help in those moments. Sometimes, I use Dictionary or Thesaurus.com, but with luck, this site might offer some better suggestions for that right word.

Find Similar or Opposite words at WordHippo.

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