Archives: #writing

Publicity & Art Car Fun!

contest-wonDid I mention that my book cover WON a Facebook contest in October?  A site called Promoting Picture Books ran a fun contest, and my cover of Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car won! Thanks goes to my amazing illustrator, Bill Megenhardt, who designed the vibrant image on the front of the book and throughout all the inside pages!

My new picture book also was featured at the Wilchester Elementary Arts Market, where I had a booth and sold books. Bill was on hand to draw some adorable on-the-spot artwork for the kids! An art teacher at Wilchester, Stephanie Walton, made it all possible! She will also present my book at a workshop this week at the Texas Art Education Association (TAEA) Art Teacher’s Conference, held in Galveston. She helps other teachers learn how to incorporate art cars into their classroom lesson plans. She rocks! Thanks for handing out my bookmarks and flyers at the conference, Stephanie!

JMH_2026St. Mark’s Episcopal School welcomed me on Nov. 10 for an Author’s Visit. I had a great time talking to the kids in multiple grades about “Amazing Book Ideas: Where do they come from?” They were a fantastic bunch, were super attentive, and asked great questions. Thank you, St. Mark’s, for making me feel comfortable the first time I presented at a school. (Two of my nieces attend this precious school, which made the day even more special for me).

You’ll never believe what this Saturday Nov. 14 is … that’s right, it’s WORLD ARTCAR DAY 2015 Houston! Who knew there was a whole day set aside to celebrate these rolling works of art? The Houston Art Car Museum will have a mini-art car making workshop from 12:00 noon until 3:00 pm. Each child will get a toy car and all the paint, glue and accessories they need to create their very own miniature art car. On hand will be local art cars of the Houston Art Car Klub. Check it out here!

If I think of anything else going on, I’ll update the post. For now, I think this is plenty. It’s been a busy launch week, but lots of fun!

It’s been an AMAZING week!

Plenty of AMAZING news this week … My book is live on Amazon!

http://amzn.to/1S0kce7

And since I’m the distributor, it’s also aArthurZarr_BookCovervailable for purchase directly from me through my website. Go to www.catheynickell.com and you should see the PayPal “Buy Now” button under my BOOKS tab.

It doesn’t matter to me which way you purchase … Amazon or PayPal.  Either way is AMAZING!

I’ve showcased my book at a recent “Art of Conversation” luncheon hosted by City ArkWorks. It will also be showcased this week at the 34th Annual Gala for the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. Lots of cool stuff going on.

My illustrator, Bill Megenhardt, will join me this coming Saturday to autograph and sell books. We’ll be at the Wilchester Elementary “Holiday in the Park” Arts Market, from 10: a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Nov. 7, 2015, at 13618 St. Mary’s Lane, Houston, Texas, 77043. It’s an awesome event, which benefits her art class as well as a school Art Show in February. Stephanie Walton is an art teacher I met on Facebook, and she’s the person who developed this fun sales marketplace. Stephanie is an inventive educator who uses art cars to teach creativity to her students. What a concept!

https://www.facebook.com/MrsWaltonsArtCar

If you know what an art car is, I’m confident that you’ll enjoy Arthur Zarr’s story. And if you’ve never heard of art cars, you might like learning about this artistic expression. If you do purchase my picture book, please post a review on Amazon. Thank you!

While you’re at it, how about “liking” my Arthur Zarr on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ArthurZarrsAmazingArtCar

Tip of the day: Be like Arthur Zarr & Be Amazing!

Arthur Zarr is Born!

My first children’s book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car, has arrived!

IMG_4950A few silly bumper stickers triggered the concept for my new picture book. Nothing big. Just a twinkling of an idea that started small but took flight. And for my book’s main character, Arthur Zarr, it all began with an acorn that fell from a tree.

The costs that my book project incurred started off small, too. However, the expenses quickly grew, and while I don’t want to discourage anyone from self-publishing, I’ll be frank. It’s expensive to develop a hardcover book with dust jacket, complete with hand-drawn illustrations and Smythe-sewn binding! But my goal was to create a professional-looking book—one that could hold its own next to those developed by big publishing houses. So, I had to be willing to make a financial investment. I’m glad I did. (Note: e-books and print-on-demand books are considerably less expensive, but I had other plans in mind).

After a long ride from Canada, the books arrived this week. Like any proud mother, I can only see perfection when I look at my new baby. It will soon launch on Amazon (today, I mailed cases of books to three different Amazon Fulfillment Centers!), as well as Barnes and Noble, independent bookstores, gift shops, schools, libraries, my website, etc. Give me a few days, and it will be available for purchase by next week(Update 2018: My book is selling well and still available on AMAZON!).

Amazon!If you know what an art car is, I’m confident that you’ll enjoy Arthur Zarr’s story. And if you’ve never heard of art cars, you might like learning about this artistic expression. If you check out my picture book, I’d be so honored if you’d please post a review on Amazon. While you’re at it, how about “liking” my Arthur Zarr on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ArthurZarrsAmazingArtCar

 

 

Five Ways To Impress My Dog

I’m the seeing-eye person for my little blind dog. I tap my foot to indicate the spot where I’ve dropped Cricket’s treat. I gently tug her head up by the leash so she doesn’t bump her nose on the curb. I squeak her toy before the toss so she knows how to track it. I never rearrange our furniture.

Cricket wasn’t born blind, but juvenile cataracts took her eyesight at the young age of two. She’s eleven years old now, and, like most pet owners, we adore our fur-baby. As such, my husband and I spared no expense. Cataract surgery on both eyes; laser surgery to save one detaching retina; pricey drops to keep glaucoma under control. Cricket is high maintenance!

IMG_4632Perhaps you’ve heard the funny saying, “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” I have a ceramic dish that displays the quote, and it got me thinking. What kind of person does Cricket believe I am?

#1 – My dog thinks I’m a caretaker.  I provide for all of Cricket’s needs. I feed her, pet her, bathe her, walk her, and administer her medications. I make sure she doesn’t bump into things. I keep her safe. So, according to my ceramic dish, I need to BE this person, right? That means I should take care of myself. My husband, colleagues, friends and family will treat me the way I treat myself. I recently heard Elizabeth Gilbert, best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love, explain her thoughts on this topic. She says that after years of self-work, she finally blossomed into a person who could attract positive results. She learned how to treat herself so well that she finally recognized what it felt like to be treated well by others. I need to take care of myself as well as I take care of sweet Cricket.

#2 – My dog thinks I’m the alpha.  Cricket knows I’m the boss. She can’t help it. It’s instinctive. She hangs her head if she thinks I’m upset with her. She rolls onto her back to get my attention. She stays in place when I tell her not to move. If I’m going to BE this person, I need to be the alpha of my own life. If I don’t take charge, someone else will. As William Ernest Henley wrote in his poem, Invictus, “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” Every day is a new opportunity to focus on my goals. I have to be my own alpha.

#3 – My dog thinks I’m active.  Twice a day, I lead Cricket on her walks. I toss toys to her. I brush her fur. I help her chase a soccer ball around the yard. To BE the person Cricket thinks I am, I need to stay active. I lost a smart, vibrant, beautiful college friend this year to cancer. I think if she were alive, she’d say, “Lethargy has no place in your life, Cathey. Go live!” I need to actively live until the day I die. Cricket cannot see the toys I toss, but she enjoys fetching them as if it were the most exciting event she has ever encountered. Just as Cricket adapted to her blindness with her frisky personality still intact, I, too, want to face each day’s challenges with active enthusiasm and energy.

#4 – My dog thinks I’m cuddly.  Cricket sleeps in the bed with my husband, Kevin, and me. She cuddles with us, especially during thunderstorms. I translate this to mean that I should be soft (cuddly!), not harsh. Karma means that there’s a law of attraction at play in my life. I want to be supportive and encouraging of the successes of my friends. I want to think positive thoughts; listen to my intuition; visualize how I want my life to be. That prickly old feeling of disappointment is the opposite of cuddly, so I strive to not wallow in discontent.

 #5 – My dog thinks I’m part of the pack.  Cricket does a pretty typical dog thing, or maybe it stems from her breed (Havanese!). No matter who walks in our door, she barks—even if she knows the person quite well. When our son, Will, comes home from school, Cricket barks. When Kevin gets home from work, she barks. When our older college kids visit, she barks. I guess she’s warning me that our other pack members have arrived. But, interestingly, whenever I enter the house, she doesn’t bark. I love that she’s silent upon my arrival, because it makes me feel that I belong here. I like being an integral part of the pack. I think in other areas of my life, I need to be a bigger slice of the pack. A member of the author pack. A member of the publishing pack. A member of my pack of awesome girlfriends. It’s a creative world, and I want to be part of it.

Please forgive the awkward photo of Cricket. Because she can’t see, she was confused about what I was doing with the dish!

How I Wrote a Thesis and a Book… At the Same Time!

Completing my thesis—and thus wrapping up my graduate degree—was one of those items I was determined to check off my buthesisblogcket list. But I had gotten remarried, and my new husband and I were trying to blend our family of three children. Then, I had another baby. Life’s circumstances pushed my thesis goal to the back burner. Sixteen years later, I was still writing at the top of my bucket list: “Finish Master of Liberal Arts degree.”

In the mid-90s, I enjoyed a dream job as the public information officer for a university in Louisiana. Prior to that, I had done public relations work in the healthcare industry. So, working with professors in an academic environment was a new adventure. The politics and flavor of campus life fascinated me, and I wanted to soak in all my new workplace had to offer. When I discovered that full-time employees were allowed to take classes at no expense, I was first in line to register. I was a single, working-mother in my late 20s, so the words “free tuition” sounded like winning the lottery.

TIP #1: IT’S NORMAL FOR YOUR ENGINE TO STALL!

By taking night courses after work and some during my lunch hour, I eventually finished the required credits for a Master of Liberal Arts degree. The only thing I lacked to graduate was writing a thesis. That’s where I stalled. I had heard from my professors that the M.L.A. degree at this particular university was considered a “low-completer” program. Meaning, students usually finished the classes but often didn’t graduate due to the daunting thesis requirement.

That will never be me, I thought. I’d be a fool not to finish a graduate program that doesn’t even charge me tuition. I’m a writer. This will be a snap.

But that was me. I was a “low-completer.” I had a million excuses… I moved to another state. I got remarried. I had a baby. I can’t think of a thesis topic. Working long-distance with my professors will be difficult. Too much time has passed (16 years!). The Graduate Council probably won’t readmit me into the program.

Plus, that requirement of a thesis paper being “original research” stumped me even more. I had, of course, written numerous news releases, brochures, newsletters, articles and research papers. The thesis, however, was a whole different beast. All my insecurities about writing crept to the surface.

Tip #2: START SAYING YES!

 One day, I got a bucket-list-changing phone call from my father. He’s the President/CEO of a non-profit organization in Houston, and he wanted me to research and write its rich sixty-year history. The Institute for Spirituality and Health has been around for six decades, but no one had ever compiled their unique story into one cohesive document. He thought of his daughter (me!) and made the call.

I wanted to get back into writing. I wanted something to call my own. Something that didn’t involve kids, carpooling, or running a home. Something creative. I also saw a chance to finish my graduate degree at the same time. I knew that if the university’s Graduate Council would agree, I could kill two birds with one stone. So I immediately answered, “yes.”

Tip #3: DON’T EVER THINK YOU’VE MISSED THE BOAT!

 Even though I hadn’t spoken to her in many years, I got up the nerve to call one of my former graduate school professors. The first surprise was that she remembered me. The second surprise was that she liked my thesis idea. She asked me to petition the Graduate Council in writing. I did, and my research topic was accepted! I was readmitted back into the program, my lengthy time-lapse forgiven. She even agreed to serve as one of my committee readers, along with two others.

I spent many months conducting one-on-one oral history interviews with longtime supporters of the Institute for Spirituality and Health. Some of the interviewees were in their 90s, so my work mattered. I was helping to preserve history by writing down their memories. I dissected my notes to find a perfect quote here and there. I spent tedious hours every day, searching through sixty-year’s worth of board minutes, newsletters, hand-written letters, special event programs, books, and other documents.

The hard work paid off. I compiled the first chronological historical record of the organization’s years from 1955 to 2015. It was original, never-before-written research. The graduate committee approved my thesis document, and my defense was accepted. I earned my master’s degree.

TIP #4: BE A HIGH-COMPLETER!

 The Institute had a modest financial budget for the history book, but it was enough. I hired a graphic designer and chose Lightning Source/Ingram Spark as our printing company. The result: “Uniting Faith, Medicine and Healthcare: A 60-Year History of the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center” was released in May 2015 to coincide with the organization’s sixtieth anniversary.

The 120-page book is available for purchase online through Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble. The softcover (ISBN: 978-0-692-42612-8) is $12.00, and the hardcover version (ISBN: 978-0-692-42613-5) is $18.00. All proceeds benefit the Institute for Spirituality and Health, which depends on contributions from the community to achieve ongoing success.

I don’t profit financially from sales of the Institute’s history book. But I profit in other ways. I feel like a “high-completer” now. My bucket list is a little shorter, too. Working on my thesis and the ensuing book brought me back to life. I haven’t stopped writing since, and I continue to develop other book projects. Next up is my first children’s picture book called, “Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car,” which I hope to launch in November 2015.

What’s on your bucket list?

 

 

Cathey’s First Blog

Hi guys! I’m a big fan of actress Valerie Harper. Like so many teenage girls, I identified with Rhoda Morgenstern on the 1970s Mary Tyler Moore Show. I love something Valerie said once, “Don’t let your fear today rob you of a fun life.” Since Valerie’s been battling cancer for about five years, I figure she’s an expert at making each day count. That’s the kind of person I strive to be.

I write in a bright sunny office at my home here in Texas. My workspace features a large cork board that’s covered with inspirational notes and pictures. Pretty much anything that interests me goes on the board. On one scrap of torn paper, next to Valerie’s quote, I jotted down another phrase I like: “The ability to grow is directly related to the amount of insecurity you are able to take in your life.” I guess that means I need to do things that make me anxious! That’s how I approach my new writing career… It’s a little scary when I think about the possibility of failure, but that’s not going to stop me.

Be tenacious and determined!

Thanks for reading my first post. Hopefully I’ll get better as I go.

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© 2018 Cathey Graham Nickell