Local Art & Reads for the Road

Osborn Woods Gallery, Nevada City, CA-where I met Erin Adamski-craftswoman & educator

Did you know that in 2018 U.S. workers left 768 million vacation days on the table? Do you find that fact as disturbing as I do? Since January 28th is National Plan Your Vacation Day, maybe you should start planning your next adventure.

Whether you’re planning a cross country trip or a headed out of town for a weekend getaway, I strongly urge you to check out the local art scene while you’re there.

“Local knowledge is always the best knowledge.” Chris Shontz, Venture 4WD

Okay, I can hear the sighs from here.  After handing over your hard-earned money for transportation, food and lodging you might feel like you don’t have much cash left over for art. The good news is that local art is usually affordable. And even if a 12 by 16 painting is still beyond your budget, many savvy artists have their work available in smaller formats as notecards, magnets, coasters even Christmas ornaments.  One enterprising watercolor artist in St. Maarten divided his work into bookmarks. Such smaller works have the benefit of being more portable than that bulky souvenir sweatshirt that will probably fade in the wash.

To really go native, check out the indie news publications like Reno News and Review for the latest local concerts.  Peruse Hometown Reads so you have a local author’s work on your phone to enjoy during those quiet times when you’re not out exploring.  Both Mixed Blessings and Ever After are set in Northern California and all the Rhythm & Romance titles are set in Reno in case you were wondering. There’s nothing like being truly on the scene of a favorite book.

My day job workspace is also a personal gallery featuring various artists from California, Northern Nevada and the Caribbean, comprised of bookmarks, note cards, magnets and a coaster. Whenever I glance up from my computer monitors, I see golden meadows and misty mountains. I even have access to a small stretch of beach in the Caribbean and I don’t have to pay for a beach chair.

Inspiration to Move You Towards 2020

Who knows where your creativity may take you in 2020. Flying Pigs by Donna Jeanne Koepp

Sometimes with so many family dinners, office holiday parties, winter recitals surrounding Christmas, you can’t connect with certain friends to celebrate until after December 25th. I’ve always cherished those post-Christmas get togethers because they make Christmas feel more like a true season than just a single day that ends too soon.  And aren’t unexpected presents even more fun? With that in mind, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite quotes from my 2019 guests.

“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.” Donna Jeanne Koepp, artist and retired project estimator.

“If you’ve been wanting to try something on the side, I encourage you to do so. You’ll be amazed at how many of the skills you already possess are transferable.” Kim Diede, author/financial services

“The act of creating has always been therapeutic to me, and so I dove into my new

Consider what is key to your creative pursuits. necklace by Erin Adamski

ideas furiously as a way to assuage the worry and fear.” Erin Adamski, artist and paraeducator.

“I keep a notebook at my bedside for the times I wake up in the middle of the night and have a brilliant idea.” Rae Rankin, author and analyst.

“I think it’s important to find something that fills you within to the extent that you are a better version of yourself and then are able to show up for others.” Janis Bryn McCubbins, artist, bookkeeper and transcriptionist


Copper Cat Studio

“…whatever nurtures YOUR soul, we have to fill our own vessel before being able to give to others.” Katie Peckham, proprietor, Copper Cat Studio

In compiling this post, I was amazed on how such a diverse group of creatives from different backgrounds and disciplines touched on similar themes. Whatever creative path you are pursuing, I wish you joy and inspiration for 2020!

Sound advice
garden stake by Janis Bryn McCubbins

Small Business Saturday-Thinking Big by Shopping Small

“It’s more effective to do something valuable than to hope a logo or name will say it for you.” Jason Cohen, Founder of Zapatos

As you know, November 30th is Small Business Saturday, local brick and mortar stores’ version of Black Friday. Local businesses throughout the country are banding together to make Small Business Saturday an event for their customers. But did you know the event has been around for nearly a decade? Small Business Saturday was first observed in the United States in 2010.

Did you realize that when you purchase titles from an Indie Author, you are also supporting at least one small business and possibly a village? The indie publishing movement has sparked a diverse variety of independent enterprises ranging from editing to cover design and marketing—many run by writers themselves-all devoted to supporting the indie author. If you’re curious about local writers in your town, check out Hometown Reads. Their site features authors from Austin, Texas to Wichita, Kansas.

While I’m proud to be among the ranks of the indie authors, I’m by no means a lone wolf writer. My own journey in getting my titles from my mind to Amazon’s bookshelves involves a three-woman production team who has been with me since practically the beginning.  Marian Kelly does my editing, Stevie DeInk, handles formatting and Harris Channing designs my covers. Both Marian and Harris are also romance authors.

Many of my Create on the Side guests are established on Amazon or Etsy and I encourage you to read their interviews and check out their websites. You’ll have the benefit of shopping from home and supporting a small business without having to face winter weather or scramble for parking.  And if you happen to purchase one of Kim Diede’s books or a pair of earrings from Erin Adamski, you can print out their interviews and have a wonderful gift for your loved one that comes with a great story.

Getting Lost-Reno Open Studios

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Thomas Merton

Good news for those of you suffering from Artown withdrawal. On September 6th, 7th and 8th artists throughout the Reno Sparks area open their studios to the public (Reno Open Studios). The participating artists work in a variety of mediums including acrylics, ceramics, gourds, glass, photography and watercolors. There’s something special about stepping behind the scenes to watch the magic happen. The artists’ work will be available for purchase at the studios and there’s nothing better than having a piece of art with a great story.

Reno Open Studios is committed to arts education. In the past they’ve awarded scholarships to Coral Academy and Ronald McDonald House Charities. Many of the studios have donated prizes and you can buy raffle tickets for that artist’s prize at their studio. This year proceeds from the raffle will be awarded to a deserving UNR student.

Thanks to an online map and large yellow flags marking the studios’ locations, you can lose yourself to art without actually getting lost. Since the studios are open from 10:00AM to 5:00PM throughout the weekend, you can go at your own pace, allowing plenty of time to stop at Bibo Coffee Company for a quick cup of java or some tasty gelato. Or head over to one of the Squeeze Ins in the area for a hearty breakfast before you set out. Not going to be in Reno that weekend? By following the links you can still check out participating artists Julie Tachihara and Katherine Case.

Reno Open Studios

September 6, 7 & 8

Note-certain of the artists’ studios are not open on Friday, so check the website before you head out.

10:00AM to 5:00PM

Cost: Free-leaving you plenty of extra cash for art and raffle tickets!


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.

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.