About createontheside

I'm a paralegal and a freelance writer. In my writing journey I've interviewed a variety of talented folks from entrepreneurs and rockers and I'm always fascinated by the creative process.

Package Deal-Now Available in Paperback

“The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.” James Brown

“Well-written and very plot heavy this is a lovely romance with plenty of oomph…”     Long and Short Reviews.

I’m excited to announce that Package Deal is now available as a paperback. Since each of the Rhythm & Romance titles are fairly short, I deliberated for a long time whether release them as stand-alone paperbacks, bundle them into pairs, wrap the whole series into one book or leave them as strictly e-books.  A couple of factors nudged me toward the individual paperbacks route.

  • Many conversations with devout readers who declared “I just love to have a book in my hands!”
  • In listening to Joanna Penn’s podcast, The Creative Penn, she mentions having her work in multiple formats, audio, e-book, paperback, hardback and large print.
  • When I gave a copy of Mixed Blessings to a friend of mine, she exclaimed, “It’s purse-sized, I love it!” While I like a weighty novel as much as the next person, for on the road reads I prefer something small that I can slip into my purse or briefcase.

Once I finally made up my mind, the rest came together fairly quickly. Many thanks to Harris Channing for once again doing an amazing job on the cover! An author herself, Harris designed all the covers for the Rhythm & Romance series as well as for Ever After.

Package Deal

Widowed attorney, Liz Grant, buries her grief in paperwork.  On whim she takes a dance lesson at the club Eclipse and falls for Salsa’s spicy rhythms and Patrick Cavanaugh’s sexy grin.  Can Liz handle the change of tempo in her well-ordered life?

Patrick has the right moves, but struggles to keep his balance when his adult daughter falls apart.  Will their love survive off the dance floor?



Mom & the Bard

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”  Shakespeare

I fell in love with Shakespeare in Junior High despite the fact my English teacher forced us to read Romeo & Juliet aloud in front of the class. You might even say it was love at first cite. I loved Shakespeare’s word play even if sometimes I didn’t always understand all of it. When Juliet’s nurse slyly quipped that her charge fell forward as a child, but would fall backward as a woman, I thought she meant Juliet was clumsy.

Though a lifelong voracious reader, my mom was hesitant when I asked her to go with me to see Comedy of Errors at a local winery. Coming from a small country high school in Indiana (her graduating class was nine), my mom hadn’t studied Shakespeare in high school or college. No doubt she feared being set adrift in a sea of archaic language.

Maybe it was because it was my birthday or because the play was performed at a winery Mom agreed to go with me. I admit I too was a little apprehensive.  For me, Shakespeare shone more brightly on the page than being mumbled by slouching 9th graders.

For this particular production, the director used an Old West theme opening with a brawl in the first scene. As the director would later explain to the audience, “It’s not a Western without a bar fight.” Wearing cowboy hats and overalls, the actors spoke the Bard’s words while their gestures and body language told the rest of the story. And it all worked.

You don’t need to be an Elizabethan scholar or even an English major to enjoy Shakespeare, just an observer of human nature.  Mom even accompanied me to another outdoor production the following summer. This time it was Merry Wives of Windsor, set in Marin County, California in the sixties.  I don’t know if Shakespeare would have used Beatles music between scenes, but I bet he would have liked the scene with the hot tub.

Artist Interview-Donna Jeanne Koepp

My biggest breakthrough came when… Pursuing art all my life, I never have trouble jumping in to anything that interests me. From Macrame in the ‘70s, Stained Glass in the 80’s, Sculpted Dolls in the ‘90s, Needle Felting currently and always painting and drawing have kept my right brain active. My day job for 30 years as a Project Estimator for a large local general contractor certainly weighed on my left brain pretty heavy. About 20 years ago, I thought if I could just carve out an hour a day for art, I would be happy. After reading The Artist’s Way, I started getting up at 4am to do Daily Pages which is a stream of consciousness way of journaling and starting your day. After awhile I found myself just complaining on those pages. So I started journaling by painting and collaging. The journaling finally fell away, but the 4am ritual stayed. It’s amazing how much you can get done in a short amount of dedicated time. I’ve since retired from my day job and I sleep in until 5am, but I still start my day in my studio I fondly refer to as White Wolf Studio.

Another breakthrough for me was being invited to show my work a few years ago with Wedge Outside the Box and Wild Women Artists as I feel someone is watching and acknowledging.

Who are your heroes in real life?  A real life hero to me is Lorie Line, acclaimed international pianist born and raised locally. I worked with Lorie for a short while as she pursued her music degree at UNR. She left our firm and moved on to Minneapolis with her husband. She carved out a niche with her music and I believe she is one of the world’s largest independent music labels. She is proof that pursuing passions works. Put her name into Pandora for a flavor of her amazing music.


My other local real life hero is Carol Pallesen, calligrapher. I’ve taken many calligraphy classes with Carol, and her dedication to teaching beautiful writing and historical context is amazing. Her studio Silent Hand Scriptorium has sustained itself over the years because of Carol’s dedication. I’ve traveled with Carol to conferences and classes. And I’m so lucky to have her as a local resource.

One other hero is Marti Bein, artist. She is an old high school buddy who also forged a career in art and curates many shows around the region. Oh and Mary Lee Fulkerson, who said to me, “What if?” If I ask myself that consistently, I will never run out of ideas. I guess I have many real life heroes.

How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your creative pursuits

I carve out time in the morning, as I mentioned, when the house is quiet and my inner critic is not awake. I also make creativity a priority. Learning to live in an artistic way is helpful too. Many people don’t like to call themselves artists, but everyone is. From what we decide to wear everyday, to what we decide to make with our hands, all are creative pursuits.

What are your other passions?  Since retiring I searched for a volunteer activity. I learned about Knitted Knockers from a colleague and I’ve been knitting these amazing breast prosthetics ever since. It’s a great way to knit and help women at the same time. Our group has grown to about 10 knitters, crocheters and craftswomen. We’ve also added Teddy Bears, blankets and other items for charity. Fiber art is a passion and I’ve taught myself many from hand sewing, knitting to tatting.

I love to go on drawing/painting outings. Urban sketching in downtown or nature painting is all fun and keeps me in practice. Latimer Art Club holds Paint Outs every month.

I paint pet portraits in watercolor. I love animals and they always find their way into my sight and artwork.

Teaching is also something I really enjoy doing. I taught stained glass way back when, construction estimating at UNR and currently I’m teaching Needle Felting and Watercolor Journaling at Copper Cat Studio.

My husband and I RV several times a year. We golf, he fishes and I spend a great amount of time with my Scottish Terrier, JoJo.

I do have two part time positions with the American Institute of Architects Northern Nevada and a local architectural firm. Both jobs are so fun and keeps me connected.

What’s next for you?  Hard to say what’s next as I suffer from Multiple Muse Disorder, which many creative people do. I love to learn and as hard as I try to refrain from new pursuits, I’ve learned to roll with it. But showing my work, teaching and practicing my art is my focus.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

I’m pleased to be showing with Wild Women Artists and our next show is just coming up.

July 19th Reception 4-8 and July 20th Show with Demonstrations 10-4 at TMCC Red Mountain Building in the Student Gallery on the ground floor

I’m also teaching my next Introduction to Needle Felting at Copper Cat Studio July 24th 11-2

Thank you so much for your interest. I really appreciate sharing my artistic journey with you.







Be Connected-Making Writers Conferences Work for You

“But when people say, Did you always want to be a writer? I have to say no! I’ve always been a writer.” Ursula Le Guin

I was fortunate to meet author and artisan jeweler, Wendy Van Camp at the 20 Books to 50K conference in Vegas last year. Headed off to a conference this year?  Check out some of my writing conference tips on her blog, No Wasted Ink.

An Ocean Among the Trees

“You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.” Mitch Albom

A couple of weeks ago as we were headed home from a company picnic at Idlewild Park, I noticed a group of ladies wielding ladders and large bags of yarn headed toward Lundsford Park. As a knitter myself, any amount of yarn will draw my attention. Naturally, we had to check it out.

It goes to prove that if you have the inclination to check something out, the discovery is always worth the extra few minutes out of your day.

As I’ve said before Artown never fails to surprise.



Had we sped by we would have missed a series of oceanscapes in the park created by the Anonymous Crafters for Artown 2019. One of the artists explained this project was a year in the making with each piece taking several months. This series of yarn art, themed “Under the Sea” is their fourth production for Artown.

Where else would you see a mermaid among the trees?

Artist Interview-Janis Bryn McCubbins

A garden stake & sound advice from Janis Bryn McCubbins

My biggest breakthrough came whenMy biggest breakthrough came when I had been working as a production manager/bookkeeper for a graphic designer in town and he was no longer able to keep me on salary. I had just taken a class in glass fusing and really enjoyed it. So much so that my husband has recently turned a concrete pad in our backyard into a small art studio for myself and our two children. I had purchased a small kiln and was making glass as a hobby. Not but a couple of weeks after being let go, I was asked if I wanted to participate in a local art show. I still to this day have no idea who or what perpetrated that invite. I was not even thinking of selling my work at that time, but I assumed it must be the direction I needed to turn so I  gave it a whirl. It turns out that I had a very successful first event, so I decided to dive in and begin putting an effort into selling my work professionally.

Who are your heroes? My real-life heroes would be the unsung men and women getting up each day to take on tasks that no one gives any thought to. Raising children with developmental, social/emotional, or health issues. The teachers, caregivers, community service and non-profit workers that do thankless tasks. Those simply trying to make this world and the future better despite little to no funding nor recognition. We have so much that needs attention and it’s not being taken seriously. It’s those doing the day-to-day tending that I honor.

How do you balance day-to-day responsibilities with your creative pursuits?  I am beyond fortunate when it comes to being able to balance my life. My husband and I have made choices to allow for that, but I have managed to create opportunities for myself so that I have been able to work from home for the past 20+years. It’s enabled me to volunteer and be there for my kids as they grew and now I am able to turn that attention to other volunteer endeavors. I generally work in my studio in the mornings or on my online presence for my artwork and then spend the afternoon doing either my bookkeeping or transcription and audio captioning work. Having the bookkeeping/transcription work also fills my time when the art side is slow and being a freelancer in the bookkeeping and transcription allows me the opportunity to schedule art shows, custom/commission work and gallery/shop visits whenever warranted.

I love embroidery, so I have been integrating that into my glass work as I am able. I recently learned how to create pine needle baskets and love that it embodies the stitching. I’ve been beading glass cabochons or pendants that I fire and then weaving miniature baskets around them. That’s been very rewarding and checks off all of the things I enjoy creatively. I also love to knit and was fortunate to find a group of likeminded artisans who meet monthly and we knit breast prosthetics for women who have had mastectomies. My mom is a breast cancer survivor and it’s rewarding to be able to do something I enjoy and help others at the same time. I’ve made a lot of really good friends through this group and we now support other causes in addition to the Knitted Knockers Organization. I also meditate and enjoy reading, walking/hiking and spending time with my family.

Anything else you’d like to add? I am hoping to continue developing as an embroidery artist. I love designing the hats and totes and other items. I feel as though I have more control over the medium. It’s been a real joy and connects me somehow to my childhood. I’ll be featuring a mix of my glass and embroidery, along with the pine baskets at Artown’s Art in the Garden, held on Saturday, July 13th, from 9am – 4pm at 1280 Monroe Street in Reno. We have a variety of artisans who each donate 20% of their sales proceeds to The Friends of Washoe County Library. Last year we raised over $5,400.00.

I love giving back. I think it’s important to find something that fills you within to the extent that you are a better version of yourself and are then able to show-up for others.

Janis Bryn McCubbins

Summer Artistic Adventures-Artown 2019

I happen to share my birth month with one of my favorite authors, but that’s not the only reason I love July. During the 7th month the Biggest Little City becomes the biggest, little art gallery and performance hall aka Artown.  Every day in July there are a variety of art and music events going on throughout Reno, some are ticketed events, many are free.

Even when I carefully plan my July calendar, something unexpected always happens like discovering a concert at a bookstore, an impromptu Tango in a church or cats sipping wine beneath the Reno arch. While I’m not one to predict the future, I can tell you that this year art will bloom in a local park and judges will read children’s stories. Check out the Artown website and chart your own summer adventure.

Wine-ing Cats by Michele DiFonzo