New Art Trading Card Paintings

This first new gouache painting I think looks kind of like souls trying to escape or something:

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This next painting was inspired by the “pizza painting” technique from the book “Drawing Calm” by Susan Evenson:

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Another painting inspired by “Drawing Calm”, an abstract version of their “Little Houses” prompt:

Art by Maranda Russell

And lastly, this painting was inspired by the sea and a collage I saw of paper strips representing the ocean:

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All of these mini paintings are currently up for auction at my Ebay store!

 

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Could Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Be Caused by Toxic Mold?

Hello everyone! So today I’m sharing a book review vlog video I made yesterday. For anyone who has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, or similar chronic illness, or who has a special interest in those subjects, this book might be something you would want to check out! If you have already read the book, let me know your thoughts!

Why “Mockingjay” (the last book of the Hunger Games trilogy) depressed me

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After seeing the Mockingjay Part 1 movie in theatres, I finally decided to read the entire Hunger Games trilogy. I had read bits of it in the past, enough to know the main plot of each book, but I had never really sat down and read them all cover to cover. Last night I finished the last book in the series. And I must admit that after I turned the final page, I found myself deeply depressed. To me, the last book was very much a downer, even more so than the previous two books.

So, I sat in our library looking at our darkened Christmas tree and wondering why I felt so morose. I finally decided there were several reasons I found the conclusion of the series so disturbing. First, it felt like the last book was filled with the agony of multitudes dying, often for no good reason (as is the reality in war). In the first two books, most of the deaths were related to the tributes participating in the Hunger Games or were the slow, gradual kind of deaths caused by the perils of poverty. In Mockingjay, the deaths seemed constant throughout, not just a few people here and a few there. Understandably, the thought of mass death and the destruction of the world all around us causes immense despair, even if only on a subconscious level.

Another issue was the very real idea that no matter how many immoral and violent governments, presidents, dictators and groups we remove from power or destroy, there are always just as many waiting in the wings to dole out their own brand of pain and injustice. Even at the end of the book when things seem a bit more hopeful, we know that the world is not safe and secure. The world is never actually safe and secure, no matter how much we may choose to live in denial. Even among those brave enough to rebel against injustice and evil, you will find cruelty, deception and betrayal. Many of those people don’t even realize that they are no better than the enemy they seek to destroy. Vengeance and victory may give us a brief respite, but eventually the same old problems seem to find their way back.

Lastly, it is incredibly depressing how war leaves those who survive broken. Maybe not always physically (although there is plenty of that), but deep down on the inside, the trauma of warfare leaves many human beings irrevocably damaged. Survivors are left with wounds that cannot help but affect the next generation, sometimes starting unending cycles of mental illness and abuse. Often hatred and bias is passed down much the same way, even if it is done so with millions of seemingly insignificant words and attitudes. If we could truly see the damage done by war throughout all space and time, we would probably be shocked by how far the effects trickle down.

After thinking about all that, I guess it is no wonder I found myself discouraged. Perhaps the worst part of all though is that when it comes to fighting for freedom and justice, we are often damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

New book release – “Searching for the Truth: Poems & Prose Inspired by Our Inner Worlds”

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I am happy to announce that my new book, “Searching for the Truth: Poems & Prose Inspired by Our Inner Worlds” is finally available! This is a book that I have been planning and working on for the last few years. I have always been interested in subjects such as spirituality, philosophy and psychology, so I feel a strong desire to share my thoughts and feelings about those matters. Most importantly though, I wanted to show that the real magic is in being allowed to contemplate these deeper subjects and be open to possibilities instead of focusing only on one aspect. This is not a “religious” book because it doesn’t adhere to any specific theology, but it is spiritual in nature.

“Searching for the Truth” embraces simplicity and honesty in an almost zen-like fashion. It is easy to understand, but often filled with layers of meaning for those who like to dig deeper.

If you would like to purchase a copy of this new book, it is available on Amazon ($6.99 for paperback and $2.99 for the Kindle version) and Barnes & Noble. I love to know what my readers think of my books, so if you read this collection, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Goodreads.

Calling all young artists!

One of my own recent works of art. Can't wait to see what your kids come up with!

One of my own recent works of art. Can’t wait to see what your kids come up with!

Do you know an aspiring artist between the ages of 7 and 14 years old who would love to have their artwork featured in a published ebook? If so, this message is for you! I am putting together an upcoming ebook containing artistic advice, inspiration and creative tips for kids and I want YOUR young artist to be involved! All you have to do is submit a picture of your little artist’s favorite masterpiece, along with a quote from your child about art. The quote from your child can say anything as long as it is related to art or creativity. Here are a few suggestions for things your child might include in their quote:

  • Advice for other young artists
  • A personal story about art and how it has affected your life
  • Information about your favorite art/artists
  • Why you love art
  • How you come up with creative ideas

Once you have your child’s artwork and quote, email them to me at Shojobeatgirl@live.com with “Kid Art Entry” in the subject line . Please include your child’s name as you want it to appear in the ebook and your child’s age. I hope to use all of the artwork I receive, but if I receive an enormous amount of entries I may have to choose to feature only some of the young artists in the ebook. I will email back all of the young artists who are selected to be included in the book to let them know. I will also email all of the featured artists when the ebook is published so they can check it out and share it with their family and friends! Please submit all entries on or before June 20, 2013. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!

Ebook Release, “From Both Sides, A Look into the World of Foster Care from Those Who Know It Best”

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I am very proud to announce the release of a book that has been in the works for quite awhile now. This project wasn’t just another story I wanted to share, this was a very personal, intense book for me to write in many ways. As a foster parent who has undergone much heartache and frustration navigating the foster care system, I wanted to share a bit of that experience with others. However, I also wanted to give a voice to all the many kids who seem to fly under the radar and get “lost in the system”.

To achieve both ends, I divided the book into two sections. The first half of the book is written from the point of view of kids in the system. I did use a few of my own experiences with my own foster kids in this section, but also interviewed many current and former foster youth which really helped to open my eyes to the way foster kids really feel. Of course, since some of the questions I asked were rather deep, I interviewed kids that were at least nine years old, which I’m sure influenced some of the content. My husband and I have always fostered preteens or teens as well, so you may want to keep that in mind when reading this book. My heart really does ache for the older kids in the system because they are the ones that usually fall through the cracks and sit in the system for years or until adulthood. Even if they do get put up for adoption, it can be very hard to find adoptive families for older kids.

The second section of the book is told from the point of view of foster parents. In this section I did use more of my own experiences, but also included stories and feelings from other foster parents I talked to. I openly tackled subjects such as mental diagnoses, attachment problems, prejudice, abusive foster parents, loss and the reason behind why I personally chose to be a foster parent. In many ways I laid my own soul bare for this project, but I felt that the subject matter deserved no less. The book itself is written in an autobiographical prose/free verse poetry form that is very easy to read and understand, but gets quickly to the heart of the matter and the deep emotions that the foster care system often evokes.

My hope for this book is that it will inspire, encourage and comfort foster kids and foster parents in some way. I hope that they will read this book and feel like saying “Yes! Someone finally gets it!”. I also hope that those not directly involved in the foster care system will read the book so that their eyes can be opened to the real challenges and injustices present. Only by bringing attention to the problems of the foster care system can we hope to make some positive changes. As I said in the dedication of the book, “Here’s to hoping that someday EVERY foster child can find a happy ending, no matter their age or circumstances.”

To read this ebook for yourself or find out more about it, please visit the book’s Amazon page. Right now “From Both Sides” can be purchased for the Kindle for only $2.99.

Release of new children’s short story, “Vinny & Violet, The Unwanted Kittens”

Vinny & Violet coverThis is just a quick post to let all my readers and fans know that I just published another short story ebook! This ebook, titled “Vinny & Violet, The Unwanted Kittens”, is a heartwarming tale about two abandoned kittens and the little girl who rescues them. The story quickly takes a serious turn when one of the kittens becomes extremely ill and has to fight for her life.

This ebook is best suited for independent readers age 7-11, but can also be enjoyed as a read aloud story. Not only is the book uplifting and inspiring, but it also teaches an important lesson about empathy and proper animal care. Animal lovers will definitely like this one! To purchase this ebook for only 99 cents, please visit the book’s Amazon page. If you and your child enjoy the story, please consider leaving a review on Amazon as well!