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Awards, Booksignings, and Libraries

Sorry I haven’t blogged in awhile, but my life has been all about taking care of Miss Adeline and her kitten babies. And I promise to post pics real soon, as three have already been adopted out to wonderful families. Here’s a pic of all six with momma.

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But for now, I’d like to give you updates on my writing.

IMG_1578 Folly Beach Dances at Schlafy

Hubby attended a lovely author event and booksigning at the Schlafy Branch of the St. Louis Public Library while I was away at the Missouri Writer’s Conference Guild on April 30, in Kansas City. I received two writing awards that weekend — Third Place for Best Magazine Article published in AAA Southern Traveler, “How Sweet It Is”, and Second Place for Best Poem published in Well Versed Literary Works 2015 for my poem, “Steadfast”, about my mom.

When I returned home from the conference, I was pleased to find that Kenneth Hardcastle emailed a pic of FOLLY BEACH DANCES being integrated into the library.

This past Sunday, I attended the Well Versed Literary Works 2016 booksigning event in Columbia, Missouri, and received Second Place for Nonfiction for my essay titled “The Stranger” about an incident where a stranger lurked in my parent’s basement when I was a young child. It came with a cash award, which made me smile.

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Finally, we’re doing a FOLLY BEACH DANCES booksigning event at the Roasted Bean, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday June 18, at 441 Main Street, Troy, Missouri. Roasted Bean only serves Blue Print roasters coffee (from U City loop) — the best espresso around. So stop by, learn about our sea-inspired coffee table book of photography and poetry, and sip a great cup of java!

If you can’t make it to the signing you can order books on Amazon, or purchase in South Carolina or Missouri. Just check the book’s website for availability.

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Music, Poetry and True Glory

20150605_192734powell orchestra pitLast Friday evening, I attended a concert at Powell Symphony Hall with my friend Nancy. Like a child opening a gift, we were ecstatic to see Chris Botti and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra perform together. If you’ve never heard of Chris Botti, he’s only the best jazz trumpeter to walk the face of the earth. I’ve not missed a concert of his since he opened for the silken songbird, Diana Krall over 12 years ago at the Fox Theatre.

With no musicality in my family, I love to listen to music of all genres – jazz, classical, Christian and rock.

Entering the venue, seeing everyone dressed in their best, eyeing the winding staircases and the magnificent chandeliers, made me smile.

20150605_191709 powell chandelier 1As we settled in our seats and the lights dimmed, the audience became silent. I closed my eyes for a moment and listened to the sweet melodies permeating from the orchestra, the smooth sounds of Chris’ trumpet, and the weeping strings of the guest violinist. It was nothing less than magical.

Over the course of the evening, Chris brought out guest singers, highlighted his band, and introduced new up-and-comers. As the concert drew to a close, the lights dimmed deeper, and the spotlight was on Chris and his pianist. The room’s ambiance felt like an intimate jazz club.

On Sunday, I headed to another cultural event at the Unity Center in Columbia, Missouri, Friends Abby and Marcia accompanied me to the book launch of Well-Versed 2015. Marcia and I were receiving awards for our works from the Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writer’s Guild. Our poems and prose were accepted for inclusion into the anthology.DSC_0145DSC_0135

Winners and contributors read aloud poems and stories about Moms, mystery, nature, pets, and even family conflicts. I listened intently.

DSC_0136Some stories had me rolling with laughter, others made me think; still others stirred up such raw emotion I found myself sobbing.

Each event had one thing in common. The performers – whether musicians or writers – glorified God.

When a human being is doing what he or she was created to do, then God is honored and glorified.

When God is honored, “Other people take notice. The world wakes up a little bit, sees things in a clearer/holier light, and seeks the source of that light,” says Coffee with God author, Sarah Arthur.

Performers glorify God by “using their talents to their utmost,” Arthur says.

Sometimes I don’t feel fully alive. I’m either wandering aimlessly throughout the day, depressed or unmotivated. (Like yesterday)

When I take the time to glorify God (right now with my writing), that’s when I feel alive.

And that when I think He is happiest.

Peace, love, and all that Jazz,

Sheree

Proud to Be in Proud to Be: Volume 3

Last week I received my contributor’s copy of PROUD TO BE: Writing by American Warriors, Volume 3. 20141202_110742 cover volume 3

I am so proud to be included in this volume, edited by Susan Swartwout of Southeast Missouri State University Press in collaboration with the Missouri Humanities Council and Warrior Arts Alliance.

Proud to Be is a way for veterans, and families of veterans to share their personal experiences through essays, warrior interviews, fiction, and even photographs.

Apparently, this year there were a record number of submissions for the Warrior Arts Anthology.

The anthology is dedicated to the writing veterans, military-service personnel and family members.

My First Place win for Photography graces pages 66 and is titled “jimmie (pier). My photo was judged by Bradley Phillips, professor of photography, Southeast Missouri State University. A second photo and an interview with Jimmie was accepted for inclusion into the anthology, as well. I was extremely blessed to win this award, for the second year in a row.

jimmie (pier)

jimmie (pier)

But more than that, all the contributions in this book touch on raw accounts of life, war, warriors, emotions, and more. And deserve to be read, and noticed.

So if you get the chance, pick up a copy of Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, volume 3 for a veteran, a family member, or a friend for Christmas. It’s a great gift.

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A Photography Award, a Warrior Veteran, and Proud to Be

Last week I spent traveling through Arkansas for an upcoming story for AAA Southern Traveler and AAA Midwest Traveler. Along the way, I tasted food of all kinds – BBQ, pancakes, the most tender porkchops I’d ever eaten, and some good old-fashioned German chocolate pie with pecans (pronounced pe-cons not pee-cans according to Arkansonians) (did I say that right?).

But nothing surprised me as much as the letter that I received from the Missouri Humanities Council when I arrived home after a week of being on the road.

As I opened the envelope, I thought that it might be the contract for my November 8 workshop with veterans titled “Using Photographs to Tell a Story” at the Central Library in downtown St. Louis. I was mistaken.

Unfolding the letter, a rush of adrenalin overcome me. I let out a shrill scream. I think I scared my husband!

I was awarded First Place from the Missouri Humanities Council for my winning photograph of Jimmie, a Vietnam Vet, fishing on the pier at Sunset Beach, North Carolina. The photograph will be featured in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors; Volume 3. The judge was Bradley Phillips, professor of photography at Southeast Missouri State University.

This is the second time I’ve won First Place in this category from the Council. Last year I received the award for my inspirational photograph of Russell, my husband, penning his thoughts in a journal located at the Kindred Spirit Bench in North Carolina. The judge last year was Destinee Oitzinger, Art Director of the National Veterans Art Museum.

I am honored and thankful for this wonderful opportunity. I’ve also discovered that Sunset Beach is soon becoming MY Kindred Spirit….a peaceful respite….a quiet oasis….my love affair and good luck charm….

Below are the two award-winning photographs….

James “Jimmie” McInnis is a three-time Vietnam Vet, and recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart who I met at the Sunset Beach pier in North Carolina. As a hero in action, he unthinkingly pulled four men from an ammo dump that was blown up by a v-device in Vung Tau. Jimmie is a testament to all people everywhere that love this country.

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Some kind words from two state representatives….

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Ever have one of those days when everything goes just right?  Kind of weird, isn’t it?  I had one of those days January 17, 2014.

After completing a restaurant review and photo shoot for Missouri Life magazine, I stopped by St. Peters Cultural Arts Center to locate my award-winning photo “Dear Kindred Spirit” hanging in an exhibition on the gallery walls.

While there, I stopped by Cindy Dubois’ office, Art Leader for the Center, to inquire about renting a room for a book signing.  Folly Beach Dances, my healing photography and poetry book is due out the end of February.

While speaking with Cindy, she interrupted our conversation and blurted out, “I just remembered something I was supposed to tell you something! Yesterday I received a called about you from State Representative Brian Spencer.”

“Really?”

Cindy riffled threw her notes, found his phone number, and suggested I give him a call.

On my way out, I stopped by the Warrior Wall to take a picture of my photo, and then headed to the parking lot.

Once inside my car, I dialed the number with anticipation. Representative Spencer answered on the first ring.

“Hi, Mr. Spencer, it’s Sheree Nielsen. You wanted to talk to me?”

“Sheree, I saw your story in Community News about the photography award you received.  I feel it’s really important to connect to people in my district, so I’d like to stop by in the next couple weeks and give you a certificate of recognition.”

“Thank you, that would be great,” I answered with surprise.

On the ride home, I thought about my conversation with Mr. Spencer.  I smiled a little.  Then I smiled alot.

As I steered my Equinox down our subdivision’s gravel road, I paused at the bottom of the driveway to retrieve the mail.

Once inside the house, I sorted the mail.  I noticed a small cream-colored envelope.  I flipped the envelope over, and the return address read “Chuck Gatschenberger, State Representative, District 13.”

I carefully opened the textured envelope, and read the hand-written note.

 “Sheree,

 A belated congratulations on winning 1st place for photography from the Humanities Council.  It’s truly a remarkable piece. 

Best wishes for continued success.”

Chuck

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Another surprise.  Pretty cool!

This past Saturday, Representative Spencer stopped by the house to deliver the Certificate of Recognition to me.  I graciously accepted.

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Hubby, Mr. Spencer, and I talked for awhile about a number of topics. As the conversation came to a close, Mr. Spencer handed us two business cards, and said to contact him anytime we have concerns or ideas about Wentzville.  (He mentioned that Representative Gatschenberger was a pretty nice guy, too.)

The personal correspondence from two different state representatives made me change the way I viewed politicians.  They’re not all bad.  In fact, they’re pretty nice, compassionate guys.

Yesterday, it was no coincidence that our youth minister, Brandon’s sermon encouraged ”take the time to impact people’s lives… talk to people you don’t know. “

Which is exactly what Brian and Chuck did. They reached out, and it made a difference….

Book Giveaway Today – Whispering Angels Nurturing Paws

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My three-legged baby vocalizing (Copyright Ocean Spirit Photography)

Today, I’m giving away a copy of Whispering Angels Books Nurturing Paws, which was recommended by the US Review of Books.  My essay “Purrs, Paws and Cat Scratch Kisses” about my three-legged cat feline companion, was published in the anthology July 2011. Local contributing authors Linda O’Connell and Faye Adams are also in the book.

Nurturing Paws_front coverThe book’s essays tell the stories of courage and love, and how animals help us heal, make us laugh, and are steadfast companions.

How do your animals heal, make you laugh, and love you unconditionally?

All those leaving a comment will be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of Whispering Angels Nurturing Paws.  And if you chose to follow the blog, and leave a comment, you’ll double your chances of winning the book.

Check back soon — winners to be announced late Monday afternoon, December 23, 2013.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Newstime Story: Photography Award – Sheree K. Nielsen

It seems when Jan Morrill, author extraordinaire, was working on the website for our book Folly Beach Dances, she found an online newspaper link on me.  Newstime picked up my story about the photography award I received from the Missouri Humanities Council and Warrior Arts Allliance. Russell, my model for the day, is in the paper.

Click HERE to read the story.

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