Weathering the Storm

blessings_sm“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” Willa Cather

An indie writer colleague recently shared that her family was struggling with severe chronic health issues on several fronts just as her writing career was starting to come together.  I don’t know why when life hands you lemons it also kicks you in the shins too.  I do know that for whatever reasons some of my best writing opportunities have come along at the worst possible times in my personal life.

I remember thinking that I’d like to enjoy the project without having to face the crisis. Then I realized if I didn’t have my writing, I’d only have the crisis. At least whatever project I was working on gave me a brief reprieve from the storm.

Following the creative path is challenging even if your biggest worries are the routine chores of daily life.  While you might have to scale back on a project due to a major front looming in your personal life, never completely abandon your creative pursuits. Your soul needs them and the world longs for more pictures, songs and stories.


Art Open House

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso

What do Froggie Beads, Meridian Press prints and Wine-ing Cats have in common? Besides being featured on Create on the Side, they’re also part of the creations available from the talented artists featured at Reno Open Studios.

Wine-Ing Cats Reno

Wine-ing Cats by Michele DiFonzo

This year 31 visual artists, coppersmiths to photographers, open their studios to the public.

Best of all, Reno Open Studios is arranged in a true open house format.  Since the studios are located throughout Reno and Sparks, you can easily manage to visit a couple of studios between your usual weekend errands.  Or better yet, grab a friend and make a day of it.

Reno Open Studios-Dates and Hours

October 6th, 7th and 8th, 2017-Note some studios are not open on Friday. Check the website for details.

Hours 10:00am to 5:00pm each day.

Artist Interview-Rachel Micander

REMI was fortunate to meet Rachel in person at the Wild Nevada exhibit during Reno’s Artown.

My biggest breakthrough came when… It was very recently. I think it came when I realized that my artwork was unique. I thought for so long that the paintings I created were generic and in an artistic style that was no longer in vogue. I recently went to a local salon to show my work in consideration for an upcoming show. I was very nervous about showing my work since I never see anything like my paintings in local coffee shops or salons. My paintings were received quite well and I will (hopefully) be having a show at the end of 2017. The gal that organizes the shows told me that she had never seen anything like my paintings before and loved how different they were. Since then, I have begun to embrace my style of painting and work to share the landscapes and birds of the Great Basin and eastern Sierra that I love so much.


Cedar Waxwing-R. Micander

Who are your heroes in real life? I have always had a hard time defining heroes in my day to day life, but I would have to say that my parents are two people who have always taught me to do good and whom I look up to. My mother shared her artistic talent and love of nature with me and my father shared his love of sports cars, his calm demeanor, and rationality, making me the person that I am today. Also, my husband, Gary, who always supports and encourages me in anything I try to tackle and is a constant rock in my life. I have a great appreciation and respect for John Muir – he fought for what he believed in and I am so thankful I am able to enjoy the wilderness, mountains, and the beautiful western landscapes because of what he worked so hard to protect. After all, “none of nature’s landscapes are ugly so long as they are wild” – John Muir.

How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your creative pursuits? Recently, I have found that after a long, sometimes monotonous, and stressful day at work, the best thing for me is to decompress at home with painting. I find that if I have a project going at home, it helps me through my day, and I have something completely different to tackle when I am home from a 10-hour day at work. It’s not always easy, but I find that if I leave my unfinished work on the kitchen table I am drawn to return to it at some point.

What are your other passions? I love topographic maps, compasses, and old-style navigation. I am also a geologist by training and love the Great Basin in all its beauty and


Conway Summit-R.Micander

geological interest. I have a love of European sports cars and motorsports (thanks dad). Last year I competed in the inaugural Rebelle Rally, the first all-women’s off-road rally in the United States. My best friend and I competed in this seven day, off-road excursion with no GPS or cell phones through the Great Basin and Mojave Desert. She was my driver and I was her navigator. I have always wanted to compete in motorsports (again, thanks dad), and this rally made my dream a reality.

What’s next for you? I hope to continue painting the beautiful landscapes of the Great Basin and eastern Sierra. I would like to learn how to make prints of my art so I can keep some of my favorite originals. There are quite a few paintings I sold early on that I wish I still had. I also hope to begin creating stationary, and maybe one day, design wedding invitations.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? I believe that anyone can be an artist. If you want to create something, don’t let self-doubt hold you back. This is something that I have struggled with for a long time. If you love painting then you should paint.

To learn more about Rachel and her art -check out the following link:

Having Fun at the Haunted Diner

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Did you know the five top candy selling days are in October? No wonder Halloween season is one of my favorites!

Another cool thing about October is all the amazing Halloween-themed events hosted by different authors.  It’s like trick or treating without standing out in the rain (or snow if you’re in Reno).  Kate Hill is hosting a Haunted Diner featuring an impressive line-up of writers (including yours truly!)

Wishing you a spooktacular season!

My Writing Process

Pad of Paper & PenThanks to Vicky Loebel for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour. If you have a penchant for the Roaring Twenties and the paranormal, stop by on June 28th when Vicky chats about her historical urban fantasy, Speak Easy Dead.

This post is part of the “My Writing Process” blog tour.

What are you working on?

I also write romance as Mariposa Cruz. She writes the spicy, scary stuff. My current WIP is a contemporary romance set in Reno’s salsa scene. Salsa dancing is another one of my passions and I’m having a blast writing about it. I hope to finish Package Deal soon and publish it later this year.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I’d like to think my women’s fiction has realism mixed with enough humor to resonate with readers without requiring therapy at the end. What happens when your Prince Charming turns out to be a toad?—is the premise of Ever After.

Why do you write what you do?

I write character-driven stories because those are the stories I’m drawn to as a reader.

 How does your writing process work?

You’d think as paralegal, my writing process would be well-established and strictly followed. Skipping steps in the legal world (especially handling contracts) will make you a cautionary tale. As a writer, my process tends toward focused randomness. I generally have the end in sight when I start the opening chapter (just haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to get there). If I have a clear picture of a later scene or the ending, I write it and space it further down on the page—sort of like highlighting my final destination on a map.

I tend to work on one major fiction piece at a time, but I allow myself to work on smaller projects when opportunities come available.   While conventional wisdom is to stay focused and finish one project at a time, I’ve found that wandering can generate its own momentum.

For another wonderful perspective on writing process, check out Regina Duke’s blog.

Create a Life Worth Living

For most professions/trades the career path while not necessarily easy it is at least straightforward: Get the education/training >Pass the test/apprenticeship>Look for a job.  Also, most day job career paths rarely offer alternate routes.  In most jurisdictions, if you want to be an attorney, you have to pass the bar exam.

The creative career path appears straightforward:  Produce the work>Find an audience>Get $.

The wonderful and frustrating thing about the creative path is that the route to success varies from person to person.  In fact there are so many variations on that path; people often have trouble making the first step.  There is a multitude of avenues to become a published writer, contests, local newspapers, indie magazines, blogs, self-publishing—all valid opportunities, but not for all writers.

For anyone looking to chart a course in a creative career, I strongly recommend Carol Lloyd’s Creating a Life Worth Living. She puts a different twist on the remark “Don’t quit your day job”. It was my good fortune to have opportunity to hear Lloyd speak early in my writing career. She encourages artists to find meaningful work to complement their creative pursuits instead of having to choose between art and financial security. Her book contains exercises to help creative folks develop tangible steps toward their goals.

What tools have you found useful in charting your path?

Hello world!

One of my favorite interview questions is how do you balance your creative pursuits with your day-to-day responsibilities?  As a fulltime paralegal, freelance writer and mother of two, I’m still trying to figure it out.  Create On the Side, is all about balancing creative endeavors with a fulltime life.