Life Update: MRSA, Cleveland Vacation, Freelance Writing, and Book Awards!

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Me at the USS Cod Museum in Cleveland, Ohio

As June 2016 draws to a close, I thought I would do a quick life update. Things have been kind of crazy lately between health problems, summer vacations, book releases, editing and freelance writing, vlogging, etc. So here are a few highlights (or low points) of my recent days:

*We went on an actual vacation for the first time in a few years! We went up to Cleveland, Ohio and went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the USS Cod Submarine Museum, the Cleveland Zoo, Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and Lake Erie. I found some awesome driftwood while walking along the beach, drooled over the Michael Jackson and Nirvana memorabilia at the Hall of Fame, rode a camel, and ate way too much junk food!

*My hubby is fighting off another MRSA infection, which makes me afraid we are both going to be passing it back and forth again. Even with all the bleaching and cleaning we do, that stuff is hard to keep from spreading!

*I am proud of the fact that my career in freelance writing and editing continues to expand, with many repeat customers and brand new clients! My favorite projects are those that align well with my natural interests (specifically children’s writing and poetry), but even some of the more technical jobs have been more fun than I expected! These jobs allow me to continue to do what I love to do and work at home!

*My YouTube vlog, Maranda’s Toys & Books, continues to grow! I have been pleasantly surprised to find out I’m not the only nerdy adult who still loves collecting dolls, ponies, action figures, and other things from her childhood! I am even getting some free toys and books to review on my channel which is pretty darn awesome!

*My new middle grade children’s book, “Creepy, Funny & Just Plain Weird: Stories and poems for kids“, has already been nominated for a children’s book award! Fingers crossed that I win! If you haven’t read it yet, please give it a try!

*I recently started up a Patreon account to support my vlogging in particular, but also to support my art and writing since that is tied to my vlog. Make sure you check it out! You can sign up to support my creative efforts for as little as $1 a month!

New Video about My New Children’s Book Release!

Hi everyone! I am excited to share my newest children’s middle grade book release with you all! I have been working on this book for a while now and am definitely proud of the results! “Creepy, Funny & Just Plain Weird: Stories and poems for kids” is goofy, funny and a little bit gross and creepy at times too! It is sure to appeal to kids, even reluctant readers! Make sure you check out my short vlog video about the new book:

If you would like to get a copy of this book for yourself or your kids, you can find the paperback version for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $6.99. There is also a Kindle ebook version available for $2.99! If you do read it or get it for your kids, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Goodreads or even just reaching out to tell me personally what you thought of it!

Check Out My New Patreon Page!

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This post is just a short note to let all my readers know that I recently decided to start up a Patreon page for my YouTube vlog, Maranda’s Toys & Books. I mainly started the Patreon account to help pay for costs related to my vlog, especially since I would like to do more fun activities like giveaways and charity related events. If I were to get enough support, I might use some of it to help promote and advertise my channel or purchase better video equipment as well. If I get a few patrons, I might even do special events just for them, such as special toy/book giveaways. If any of this interests you, make sure to check it out!

How Patreon works: Patreon is a fundraising program where people can support artists and content creators of all kinds. Since I set up a monthly account, patrons can sign up to donate a specific amount each month (even as little as $1 per month). If you do choose to support me, you can cancel at any time, so don’t feel like you would have to donate if circumstances change.

Simplify! Do the Minimalism Challenge with Me in May!

Hello everyone! I decided for the month of May to do the Minimalism Challenge! This is a 30 day challenge in which you give away a number of items each day (1 item on day 1, 2 items on day 2 and so on). I will be donating my items to charity. By the end of the month, you will have given away hundreds of things, simplified your life and helped out others who may need the things you weren’t using. For more information, check out the video I made about the challenge:

Life Update: Jobs, Kids, Writing & Bernie Sanders!

 

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“YOLO” collage on paper by Maranda Russell

Hello everyone! I’m sorry that I’ve been neglecting my blog lately. I hope to start remedying that now. Here is a short list of some of the things that have been going on in my life recently, as well as some of the projects I am looking forward to beginning:

  • For the last 8 months I have been working part-time in an emergency room. During that time I have met some fascinating people, but I have also been witness to a great deal of human suffering. I have always been a sensitive, rather empathic person who feels things deeply and in that way, I feel that this job has affected me greatly. I will be leaving the position soon to pursue other opportunities, but I am grateful for the experience.
  • Recently I have begun to take on more freelance writing gigs, particularly in the field of children’s writing. I have found that one of my true passions is taking the visions of other authors and helping them create great stories for kids. I especially enjoy editing picture books or other types of literature for young readers. Mostly I have been getting clients through online sites, but I am open to offers from other clients, so if you have a children’s book that you would like help editing, feel free to contact me!
  • My husband and I are hoping to start doing respite for kids and young adults with disabilities soon. Ever since we stopped fostering kids, I have missed having children around to play with and care for. I can’t wait to get a chance to have a full house again, even if it is just for short periods of time.
  • My YouTube vlog, Maranda’s Toys & Books, has been growing quickly! Ever since I decided to focus the channel mostly on my nerdy love of toys, books and collectibles, it seems to have found its niche and an audience that is a lot of fun to interact with! For that reason, I will probably be sharing my more serious or personal posts here on my blog from now on.
  • Lastly, this is kind of random…but I’m really rooting for Bernie Sanders! Feel the Bern! Even if he doesn’t end up winning the presidential nomination, I am thankful to see so many younger people step up and show they care deeply about the fate of our country. I think what I love most about Bernie is that he is such a humble, down-to-earth politician. It is truly refreshing to see.

Do the 2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge with Me!

I decided to do the 2016 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge this year! I have already started and plan to make YouTube videos each month to update which categories I have completed in the challenge. If you would like to do the challenge with me, please visit the official POPSUGAR page where you can print off a copy of the checklist. Don’t worry about whether you will be able to complete every category or not. This is simply for fun and to get all of us to read books we otherwise might not. You could even do it as a family if you wish!

Check out my first YouTube video for the challenge below!

Trying out new artistic styles – mixed media collage featuring naive, folk and pop art inspirations

So lately my artistic style has kind of taken some interesting turns. I tend to bore with styles quickly so I try out lots of new stuff, some that works, some that frankly doesn’t. Lately I’ve been playing around with mixed media collage techniques, using my love of cartoons, favorite characters and naive child-like art to create unique and sometimes amusing or slightly satirical works of art. Obviously this style is not for everyone, but I’ve had fun with it. I guess some other people like it too since I have sold quite a few of these little pieces. The materials I’ve used have varied greatly, including pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, marker, paper cut-outs, random stickers and decals, glitter, foam pieces and other odds and ends.  Here are a few examples that I’ve created recently (many have Halloween themes because it was that time of year!):

“Evil Sweetie” My Little Pony fan art collage on paper, 9″ x 12″

“Wake Up!” mixed media collage on paper, 9″ x 12″

“Two Black Bats” mixed media on paper, ACEO size (2.5″ x 3.5″)

“Werewolf Night” mixed media collage on paper, ACEO size (2.5″ x 3.5″)

“Ghost Minion” collage on paper, ACEO size (2.5″ x 3.5″)