Saturday, August 31, 2013

A is for Architecture

Thanks for all the comments on "Animals" as inspiration for writing and crafts. My favorite story is from a lady who was walking through the narrow city streets of Iran when a camel pulled off her head scarf and mouthed her blond hair. Did it think her hair was hay? Camel slobber. Yuck!

Everyone has a shelter to call home, whether an apartment, mobile home, bungalow or mansion. Spooky old houses, tumbled down barns, and ancient construction attract us.  Let's look at a few distinctive homes. How would you like to live here?
Sod roofed cabins are updated homes based on the "soddies", underground cave-like dwellings used by pioneers on the prairies. This cabin sports a sod roof that provides insulation in the Alaskan climate. Upscale pent houses often have roof gardens, and "Green" architects are designing environmentally friendly homes with plantable roofs. How would you like to pick the veggies for dinner from your roof?
I like to explore older neighborhoods in small towns. Well-kept historical homes with guided tours fascinate me, but I prefer my imagination. How many generations have lived here? Is it still occupied? What secretes could the walls tell? Are there reports of ghosts? Do you wonder how people in other countries developed the style of their homes?

This is one of my favorite buildings. The Gothic castle was built as First Baptist Church of Beaumont, Texas, in 1903.When the church relocated in 1923, Captain Tyrrell bought the building and donated it to the city to be used as a library. As a teen, I rode the city bus to spend hours in the stacks in the rainbow-colored light filtered through the enormous stained glass windows. In 1974 the building was converted to the Tyrrell Historical Library. Renovations and restoration have preserved fond memories of hiding in the dark corners of the children's section and sneaking up the stairs into the bell tower. Yes, there are ghost stories. I'm using the library as a secondary setting a new novel.
Challenge: Writers, photograph a house that fascinates you. Create characters to occupy the home, letting the mood and ambiance of the building impact your character(s) in the plot. All story characters have to live somewhere, have a place to work and favorite restaurants. It's up to you to make those places real for your reader.
Challenge: Crafters, design a bird house, playhouse, or outdoor playground around an architectural theme.
Next time we will explore the vast field of Fine Art.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dabbling from A to Z

Email response to "Right-brained Dabbler" has confirmed that there are a lot of us who want to know something about everything. Writers commented that they were surprised at how many interests they had beside writing. Craftsmen noted that they could now see ways to combine interests into a new creation.

Using my list of interests we're going to explore Dabble topics beginning with A for Animals.

Your interest may be in domestic pets or in wild animals. Or both. Animals are excellent topics for stand-alone stories (especially for children), or as inclusions in fiction. I photographed this moose, "praying for spring", through a window. Female moose protecting a calf or two are one of the most dangerous animals in the wild. The ungainly, roman-nosed ugly moose is a favorite for craftsmen to characterize.

Another wild animal that is best studied from a distance, the black bear, has influenced writers to create Yogi the Bear, Smokie the Bear and that cute mama and baby bear for Charmin tissue.
We are all familiar with the Teddy Bear and all of his adorable offspring.

I suggested that you list what you did NOT like. Snakes top my do not like list. I forced myself to touch this one and was surprised that its scales are dry and slick. I have to admit that the pattern and colors are lovely. If I were to write about a snake in a story, it would be from the view point of dislike.
Challenge: Tiny Prince George has a nursery with an African wild animal theme. Do you think the theme will become a trend(long term) or a fad (quickly fading)? 

Craftsmen: Design a toy or clothing with an African animal theme.
Writers: Write a children's story that you might submit to Kate and William as a gift for George.
Next time we will discuss architecture.
To order Dare to Dabble email grandmas_onthego

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Right-brained Dabbler

I was probably ADHD before that diagnosis became popular. I drove my parents and teachers nuts as I flitted from one interest, idea and project to another. Right-brained people enjoy challenges, are creative and are constantly wanting to try something different.

Writers, you've heard the adage "write what you know". How do you know what you know? Neither you nor I can afford a team of researchers so by identifying your interests, talents and abilities you will be able to write with authority.

Crafters, you will learn a lot about yourself and how you can put your creativity to work for you.

I'm going to share activities to get you started. You may use electronic gadgets, smart phone, digital camera, electronic notepad, etc. but since writers/craftsmen are visual learners transfer electronic notes to paper.

Using a roll of calculator tape begin to list everything that interests you, every activity you've been engaged in or would like to explore. This may get unexpectedly long....... Hang it up proudly.

Don't have calculator tape? On a sheet of lined paper, draw a vertical line down the center to create two columns. At the top of the first column write "Interests". At the top of the second column write "Talent/Ability" (something you could teach). List, list, list. Don't try to analyze your topics, just write. Later use colored markers or pencils to color code related topics. These are your specialties.

Sticky Notes are a valuable tool for jogging your experiences from memory. Carry a notepad and pen as you do chores, at your job, in the car. Jot dot down your interests with a star to indicate a special ability. Use a spiral notebook to organize your notes into topics that express you.
These activities will empower you. You are creative. You have an active brain. What if you don't finish what you start?  But you have finished when you've gotten what you wanted out of the activity; there doesn't have to be an end product. Give yourself permission to put a project aside and try something else. 
 As a writer, don't guess. Write what you know. I recently read a well know author who talked about a male cat that was white with brown and gray spots. WRONG. Three colored cats are calicos and are 99.9% female.
Craftsmen do you now see how you could combine two or more of your interests into something unique? Think of combining patchwork quilting with beadwork and three dimensional flowers.
Challenge: Make a list of what you don't like, what you wouldn't like to try and why.
                  Make a bucket list of things you'd like to do before you die, and research the reality of actually doing at least one of these.
Next time we will begin exploring my interests from A to Z.
Dare to Dabble is available at

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dare to Dabble. Are you a Dabbler?

          I'm not just a writer, I'm a Jill of all trades and master of few. I'm a Dabbler and proud of it. God gave me a gift of creativity; I like to plan and create, but when I see the end I'm through, finished, the challenge is gone. Then I'm ready to do something else. Slap my hands? I don't think so. I was 60+ before I realized that Dabbling is okay for me and you.

Do you have a story to tell and don't know where to start?
Do you approach creative writing or crafts projects with enthusiasm and then lose interest?
Are you curious about everything and wonder how to fit it all in?
Do you wonder how to keep your passion for writing/creating burning?
Do you need methods to unblock writer's Block?

If your answer is yes to any of the above, you are a Dabbler!!   I'm presenting free information for you from my new book.



Webster states that to "dabble" means to play, especially with the hands, to work at anything in a superficial manner. It also means to experiment, or tryout. I try my hand at a number of crafts projects as well as writing. I don't waste too much time or dawdle. I'm constantly learning. What I learn enhances my writing and is a lot of fun.
Without getting technical, here is the plan for future blogs on Dabbling.
1. I will present a Dabbling theme, like quilting or basket making, or writing memoirs and give a brief personal story.
2. Websites for the Dabble theme will be listed for additional information.
2.I'll present a challenge to try this craft (or idea) and prompts to include it in your writing.
3. Finally, I'm asking for a short comment (100 words or less) on your experience with this topic (tips, innovative twist or techniques) One or more of these will be posted on the next blog.
Join the fun next time as we explore brain activities to assess what you know and have a passion for.  
For a copy of "Dare to Dabble" email be at ($10 US)