An Invitation to be Amazing

Legal-ish Disclaimer Type of Thingy: I do not own the rights to the words in this photograph, but I created the fan art presented in this photograph. However, I am using them for personal use and not for profit. The poem is originally written by Shel Silverstein and can be found all over the interwebs.

Supplies…

  • 16 x 20 stretched canvas
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paints (professional or crafters quality… whichever floats your boat)
  • Sparkly paint (clear base)
  • Sharpies (whatever colors you want – no one is picky around here)
  • Brilliant words, quotation, poem, song lyrics

Classroom project #2 for summer of 2014 was a fast one!

Using my pencil, I drew wavy lines across the canvas from left to right. These would be my guiding lines for writing the words from the poem. If I am not in the mood to use my writing script, I like to go into Word and find a font I feel comfortable replicating. I type in the text I am using, print it off, and use it as a guide when I’m penciling on the canvas.

Okay. So, assuming you know what you’re doing for the font, write the words onto the canvas. If I noticed things were not working out with fitting the words where I wanted them, I simply adjusted my guiding lines as I worked.

If I were to do this project again, I would paint a light shade of green where the white is on my picture.

Next, I traced my letters with Sharpie. Use your imagination here. If there are words that stand out to you, then use a bold color to make it pop. Or you can be boring and use black for all of them.

If you are horrible at figuring out which words to highlight/bold, look at your nouns, adjectives, and verbs.

Now to paint around the quotation. Note to the Wise: Don’t paint over your lettering with the acrylics! See that part where it says “Invitation” in my picture? Yep. Screwed that up. Remember when I messed up with the newspaper on the previous project?  Yeah. Trust me.

Remember that my classroom is mostly blues and greens, so I went with swirling a variety of blues and greens all over that canvas. I worked in the same direction as the waves of letters.

Let the whole thing dry.

Go back and paint over any ugly areas. If you don’t have any ugly areas, then you’re a better person than me and you can move on to painting the edges of the canvas. I simply dipped my brush in different blues and greens and made random stripes around the edge (you can’t see this in the picture, silly).

Let it dry.

Take your nifty glitter paint and paint over the whole canvas. It may look white at first, but as long as you found one that is a clear base, you’ll be fine.

Let it dry.

Spray it or paint it with some type of acrylic protectant (no, spell-checker, I don’t mean Protestant).

Let it dry.

All done!

Hang that puppy up and enjoy it.

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Read Write Rawesome Signs

My classroom is in need of some serious TLC. I mean, it has plenty of nerd paraphernalia littering every available shelf, bulletin board, boring cinder block, and musty corner, but most of the decor is store-bought and not very unique. The transformation toward one-of-a-kind decorations began with a Han Solo art piece created by one of my students. . . and the rest is history.

So, here is one of my latest creations – READ and WRITE signs using two different techniques from the same fabric.

I started by buying a few “fat quarters” of my favorite Star Wars and Star Trek fabric from Craft Warehouse – this is easier than buying 1/4 yards of each design. Trust me. I coordinated around the blue tones since my classroom is mostly blues and greens.

Next, I bought 8 x 10 stretched canvas for the WRITE sign and MDF letters for the READ sign. I already had a big ol’ tub of Mod Podge hiding in my closet, so I was good to go!

Almost.

My real list of needed supplies for the WRITE sign…

  • 5 “fat quarters” of fabric cut down to approximately 10 x 14 (to wrap 8 x 10 canvas edges and staple to the back)
  • 1 staple gun
  • computer paper (you will print from a Word document)
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • paint (I used yellow I had on-hand)

I like to use the least-directional fabric I can because then there is less need for centering the fabric. Turn your cut fabric with the wrong side up. Place your canvas on this with the face down. Wrap the edges like a present, stapling to the back of the canvas frame.

Voila! Step one done.

Go to your computer (unless you have beautiful handwriting and can freehand your lettering… P.S. If this is you, I hate you), and open a Word document. Or use PowerPoint or whatever program you like for manipulating fonts. Type in your letters. Size them to fit the page as best you can. Keep in mind that all of your letters need to be the same height – keep them the same font size. There are a ton of free, downloadable fonts online! I can’t remember the name of the one I used, but it looks fabulous. Print off your letters. There should be one per sheet. Cut them out. This is where you use a lot of patience.

Once the letters are cut out, lay them on your fabric-covered canvas. You may want to use a little scotch tape to secure one edge as you work. Trace each letter with a pencil on its corresponding fabric canvas.

Break out the paint! Paint the outline of your traced letters and paint to fill in.

Let it dry.

Spray with some kind of matte clear acrylic coating spray.

Hang as desired.

Phew. Finally finished explaining that one.

On to the READ sign.

Supplies needed for the READ signage…

  • 4 fat quarters (can use the leftovers from the WRITE sign project) of different fabrics
  • Mod Podge (I use the matte)
  • 1″ paint brush (or whatever size you have that won’t drive you nuts)
  • Cutting mat (the kind quilters/crafters use with a rotary cutter)
  • Exacto knife
  • MDF letters from local craft store (can also use wood ones – as long as they’re flat on the front surface)

Pick out fabric to use for each letter. Duh.

Use a vinyl/plastic tablecloth under your working surface. Trust me! I used newspaper and my Modge Podge soaked through the fabric and started sticking to the newspaper. My project and life were almost ruined that day. So, I am merely speculating that using a vinyl tablecloth would remedy the situation.

Lay fabric with good side down (I think quilters may call this the “right” side).

Paint the “good side” of the LETTER with Mod Podge. Don’t overdo it!

Place the letter down on the fabric. Press on it to get out any wrinkles.

This is important! FLIP OVER THE letter and fabric for drying! Remember the newspaper incident? Yeah.

Allow fabric-covered letters to completely dry – that’s about 20 minutes. Check to make sure that the face of the letter is completely covered with fabric. I noticed on one of mine that I missed a corner when painting with the Mod Podge (I don’t know how that happened either, so don’t ask). If there are any loose edges, fix them now and wait for the dry time!

Is your project sufficiently dried? Good.

Flip the letter onto your cutting mat. You should be looking at the butt end of your project. Pretty, huh?

Use the Exacto knife to cut the fabric along the edges of the letter. Keep in mind that your edges will look a little frayed – they are supposed to be this way, you perfectionist! Cut off any obnoxiously long, stray strands of string.

Boom! You’re done!

You can go ahead and figure out how to hang them on your wall, but you could also modify these bad boys into classy book ends. Or use craft dots (little adhesive dots on paper) to stick them anywhere!

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Want to Get Lucky?

Writer’s Digest is at it again, but this time they’re accepting entries for YA fiction of any genre. So, spiff up those MS, write a logline, and submit your own entry by April 9th. I know I am.

Click below for more details!

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/15th-free-dear-lucky-agent-contest-young-adult-fiction

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By Matteo Paciotti (Flickr: [52 Weeks • 6/52 Sweet.]) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Matteo Paciotti (Flickr: [52 Weeks • 6/52 Sweet.]) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Some people stick their hands down their pants to… well… scratch their butts. To put it nicely.

Be advised that no one wants you to do that when you have poop in your pants.

No one.

And don’t continue to eat a graham cracker with the tainted hand.

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In Defense

The writing world is full of haters.

File:Typewriters.jpg

Author: Mohylek 16:38, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

Before I became serious about turning my writing into publishable works, I was one of many armchair critics. As I sat behind my glowing computer screen, writing reviews on Facebook and Goodreads (that – honestly – no one besides my two best friends would really ever read), I found it easy to dismiss a story as trite, pretentious, boring, vapid, or amateurish. The words would vomit into a hastily written post that would reiterate my own selfish belief that the consumer was the ultimate judge of literature.

And while I still believe that the reader is a key component to the complex relationships between author, agent, editor, publisher, and fan, I believe we all need to take a deep breath, step back, and learn when to shut up. Let’s reevaluate ourselves for a moment.

 1. Have you ever written a novel?

If no, shut up.

2. Have you ever edited your finished novel?

If no, shut up.

3. Have you ever rewritten entire sections of your novel?

If no, shut up.

4. Have you ever shared your novel with a group of friends?

If no, shut up.

5. Have you ever written a query letter?

If no, shut up.

6. Have you ever written a synopsis?

If no, shut up.

7. Have you had an agent invite you to be a client?

If no, shut up.

8. Has your agent managed to sign your book to a major publisher?

If no, shut up.

9. Has your novel survived the editing process and made it to the press?

If no, shut up.

10. Have you received an advance for your book series–an advance in the realm of $750,000?

If no, shut up.

11. Has your series appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list for 142 weeks? How about for even one week?

If no, shut up.

12. Have you signed a movie deal for your novels?

If no, shut up.

13. Have those movies based on your books made millions of dollars?

If no, shut up.

14. Is your estimated worth around $125 million?

If no, shut up.

 

Stephenie Meyer is constantly bashed on, ripped apart, and mocked for her success. And I have to admit that I have ridiculed her work from time to time, but I sometimes have to get my own reality check. I can’t answer yes to very many of those questions, but Mrs. Meyer can say yes to every single one.

Stephen King and other professional writers can critique all they wants – how many of the previous questions could those individuals answer with a resounding, “Yes”?

And before anyone jumps on me for making this about money and notoriety, it’s not. That’s not why most writers write. But let’s be honest. All of the money and notoriety helps. And it’s oftentimes how authors are judged.

Do I write despite not being able to answer yes to very many of those questions? Absolutely.

Do I still critique other writers’ works? Yes.

But I take those few seconds to take a breath, think of the person behind the words, and keep my reactions in perspective. There is no use adding more hate to the writing world. It’s a cutthroat enough industry as it is.

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I Don’t Think You Understand the Gravity of this… Kaleidoscope

I didn’t even have to finish the preview for Gravity to think about one of my favorite Ray Bradbury stories, “Kaleidoscope.” Yes, I’m probably not the first one to comment on the similarity of concepts, but let me be the first to say that I prefer Bradbury’s short story over this drawn-out movie.

Sure, there was some good acting from Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, but the themes, to me, were similar to the story – and even the imagery was similar.

Here’s a list of features…

- space accident

- lots of spinning out and away – like the pieces in a KALEIDOSCOPE

- humans communicating via their headsets

- facing inevitable death

- humans expressing the various stages of grieving (Kubler-Ross Theory) – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance

- main character plummeting back to earth

- images of “shooting stars” in the sky (from the earth perspective)

Now here is your assignment. Go read the story.

http://www.scaryforkids.com/kaleidoscope-by-ray-bradbury/

 

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Writing Fairies and Hobgoblins

Sometimes when I go back months later and read my stories I’m surprised by what I find.

At some moments I think,

“Good night. That’s some great material. Did someone break into my house and write a chapter to my novel when I wasn’t looking?”

And yet other times I think,

“Good night. That’s some crappy material. Did someone break into my house and write a chapter to my novel when I wasn’t looking?”

Sometimes the muse is a beautiful, sparkling fairy, and sometimes it’s a hairy, three-toed hobgoblin.

Illustration from book The Goblins’ Christmas by Elizabeth Anderson.

English: Goblin 19th illustration

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Toddler Troubles and Treasures #4: Time for a little fun.

If I were to rip off my shirt,

stick my finger in my bellybutton,

and strut around dancing to my favorite fun. song,

my husband would be the only enthusiastic audience member.

fun.

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Toddler Troubles and Treasures #3: Pooping in My Pantry

No one would find it cute, humorous, or rational if I hid in the pantry, shoving handfuls of Goldfish crackers in my mouth while pooping my pants. They call that being drunk.

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Toddler Troubles and Treasures #2: Butting the Table

Image

Toddler Trouble:

Even if my fat butt could fit, I don’t think I would push myself backwards while sitting in my walker. I would also see the table looming overhead before the stand up, bonk, and cry. But I’m not a fearless toddler. 

C.G. Thomas

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