Archives

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.

DSC_1264 Elvis and Patric side cpyr

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Flyer for Photo Exhibit and Booksigning - FBD roasted bean final 2

Troy Buchanan Writer’s Week – 7 days of inspiration

On March 16, hubby and I had the great pleasure of presenting two talks to students at Troy Buchanan High School Writer’s Week.

Writer’s Week is an annual event where authors come from all around to talk about their books, their journey, and the craft of writing – a full week of back-to-back sessions for the students.

As my husband, Russell and I stepped into the library, we noticed a photo of our book propped on an easel. Upon closer inspection, it was actually a ceiling tile painting, and realistic depiction of our book cover, Folly Beach Dances. So excited, I asked April Elliott, the Art teacher who painted the tile, to pose for a photo next to her creative masterpiece.

DSC_0875 April Elliott copyr

Book covers from visiting authors hung as ceiling tiles in the space overhead, such as The Hate List by bestselling author Jennifer Brown.

DSC_0878 Ceiling tiles crop copry

The session commenced as a few students read their works to fellow students before our presentation. One young writer from our church, Tyler Tippett, shared a poignant and touching essay about a family member.

DSC_0868 Tyler Tippett crop copyr

 

 

DSC_0874 Russell copyrAfterwards, Russell and I proceeded to tell the story of Folly Beach Dances in words and pictures. We hoped the students took away with them the purpose and mission of our ‘healing’ coffee table book.

DSC_0884 Me and Georganna crop copry

Georganna Krumlinde, Library Media Specialist, (yellow t-shirt) graciously provided us with lunch and a surprise basket of gifts from the school once our session ended.

In the process, I discovered Annie England Noblin, NYT bestselling author of Sit! Stay! Speak! was a presenter at Troy Buchanan. Later in the week, writer friend Pat Wahler and I, attended her session. During Annie’s break, we chatted about writing, our fur babies, and life in Missouri.

 

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

Booksignings, Southern Authors, Beaches, and New Friends

The first week in March, hubby and I set out on a two-city booksigning event for FOLLY BEACH DANCES.

First stop was the Tides Folly Beach Hotel. I’d stayed there last September when my long time friend and author, Tina Solomon, visited Folly Beach to market our ‘healing’ coffee table book FOLLY BEACH DANCES. Recognizing familiar hotel faces, I was happy to be back.

The view from our hotel balcony was the ocean. (Sigh)

In our spare time, Russell and I made it a point to enjoy leisurely strolls on the beach. The first morning, we met a twenty-something Lizzie on the pier. As the three of us walked, we conversed. She spoke fondly of her boyfriend in the military. Browsing through the pier’s gift shop, we noticed FOLLY BEACH DANCES on display. Picking up a copy, Lizzie flipped through the pages of the book, and ended up buying a copy.

Lizzie and me, at FB pier

Lizzie and me, at FB pier

That afternoon we headed to The Preservation Society of Charleston for a booksigning. At first, sales were slow, but by late afternoon we’d hit our stride. What the customers didn’t buy, Evan, the event coordinator, ended up purchasing for the store. A successful event!

The next day, we drove to the end of the island to visit the Folly Beach County Park. As I stepped foot on the sand, I felt transported to a Caribbean oasis. The white sand and muted landscape hues, drew me closer to the water’s edge. And the crisp air beckoned windsurfers to ride the ocean’s waves.

Walking the shoreline, I followed the island’s natural curves. With unbridled anticipation, I was anxious to uncover visual treasures with my camera’s lens. A weathered tree with branches that mimicked windblown hair, awaited me around the next bend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe bid our goodbye to Folly Beach the next morning, but not before stopping at Bert’s Market – an eclectic hipster produce store. Speaking with Julia, the store’s owner, I was happy when she said she’d carry FOLLY BEACH DANCES!

Next stop – Columbia, South Carolina. After checking into Homewood Suites, we met fellow writer C. Hope Clark and husband, Gary, for dinner at Mr. Friendly’s. The time passed quickly as we spoke of writing, publishing, conferences, the beach, and the lake. I thought the waiter was going to kill us for lingering at her table for more than 2 ½ hours!

Hope and Matt

Hope and Matt

The following day we headed to Irmo Branch Library for a 15-author event. Matt Matthews, author of Mercy Creek, and the First Carolina Novel Prize sat to our right. Hope sat to our left. With her Low Country mysteries, there was a constant stream of visitors to her table. I felt comfortable wedged between these wonderful writers. At the end of the event, I took inventory of our book sales, and realized we did okay.

I told hubby, I’d be back, and took some time to find Southern writer, Tom Poland’s table. Co-author of Reflections of South Carolina. I’d seen his book everywhere – even in Missouri. Along with Robert Clarke, Tom created a wonderful journey of photography and essays, weaving personality and character into the book’s colorful pages.DSC_1220 Tom Poland crop copyr

Tom and I chatted for awhile, and I learned of his humble beginnings in writing. Back in the 70’s, he had a wild idea to take to the road with Robert. With no plan in mind, they’d write and photograph whatever they found interesting. And they never looked back. We shook hands, exchanged business cards, and agreed to meet again whenever in the South.

The car loaded with suitcases, we set course for our next destination – Sunset Beach, North Carolina. Three hours later, we pulled into the parking space of our beach rental, the Graham Sporting Goods house.

Friend and fellow author, Jacqueline DeGroot, stopped by for a visit the following night to talk, watch the sun set below the horizon, and drop off her recent book releases – The Cemetery Kids series. I snapped a photograph of Jack for an upcoming story.

The next three days were bliss. Lazy days spent walking the beach – in the morning, the afternoon, and at sunset. Oh, the sunsets. The sunsets were divine.DSC_1452 birds under pier sunset copyrWhen not on the beach, we’d hop in the car and putter along Shoreline Drive, gazing at the gorgeous homes, with the intercoastal waterway in the distance. We’d stop at our favorite coffee shop, or just shoot photos of flowers, birds, or landscapes.

Oh how I love Sunset Beach.

We made some new furry friends along the way. Sassy and Libby, whose owners live in Little River, came down for a beach visit. We met Emmy, a sweet golden, who lives a short five minute walk from the beach.

Emmy

Emmy

Libby

Libby

Needless to say, we’ll be back in Sunset in May with our fur babies. They’ll get to meet Sassy and Libby, and maybe even Emmy. I know they’ll see their friend Mosa, a boxer, who vacations the same week every year.

Oh yeah, the first day of our trip, FOLLY BEACH DANCES was nominated for the Eric Hoffer Award, including a finalist for the da Vinci Eye Award, for excellence in book cover design.

So, all in all, I’d have to say, we had a great trip.

DSC_1211 Sheree Irmo crop copyr

Triply Blessed – 3 New Publications – Thoughts on Family, Cats & Frank Lloyd Wright

I want to thank my lucky stars and God, of course, for a wonderful month of acceptance into two anthologies and one magazine of my literary and photography work.

In early June, Well Versed Literary Works 2014, held their book launch in Columbia, Missouri. While I was unable to attend the celebration, I am happy to say they selected four of my works (and loves) for inclusion into their exquisite literary anthology.

“Show Me the Chocolate” spoke of my unconditional love for the savory sustenance.DSC_1377

“My Morning Delight” was a sweet tribute to my cat Scooby, who entered this world with a roar, and left with a whisper.

“Modern Resonance” a funky poem, spoke of my love for jazz.

“Ode to Sunset Beach” told of my undying passion for all things ocean, sJuly 15 book signing NYMBky, sea, and nature.

On June 18, I was notified by Dahlynn McKowen of Publishing Syndicate that my essay, “Mom’s Best Advice” was accepted for inclusion in NYMB on Family, which was released on June 24. Anyway, there’s a really cool event on July 15 at St. Louis Books in Kirkwood, Missouri.  Alot of the local contributing authors will be there signing books. Hope you can make it.

In mid May, I was asked by the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park to submit four personal photographs to MODERN Magazine, a boutique architecture mag in New York, not available on newsstands. One interior and three exterior views were accepted for the Summer 2014 issue and grace the pages of 80-82 along with a lovely feature article title “Open House” by Joanne Kohn and Laura Meyer.  Click on the link  MODERN_FLW – Summer 2014 – Nielsen to view.

I’d like to thank the editors for publishing my literary and photographic works. I truly appreciate the opportunities.

Our book, Folly Beach Dances, is doing quite well. For a small publisher we’ve sold more book by word of mouth in five weeks – we’re into triple digits.

There are three local booksigning events coming up in the St. Charles County area, and a schedule is being set for the Charleston, South Carolina area. Two bookstores, Indigo Books in St. John’s Island, and Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, will be carrying Folly Beach Dances, just as soon as they receive their shipments.

Well, now that I’ve run on for so long, everyone go and have a positive day.

Remember to dance!

Sheree

Thank you Missouri Humanities Council and Warrior Arts Alliance!

Thank you Missouri Humanities Council and Warrior Arts Alliance for telling the story of my photo “Dear Kindred Spirit” on your website.  And thank you for the First Place Award in Photography – I can’t wait to meet all the veterans and families at the book launch on November 15 for “Proud to Be: Writings by American Warriors Volume II” at the University of Missouri St. Louis.

Hope you like the story behind the photo.  Click on the link below and scroll down to the 7th page.

P2B_Cover

MO Humanities Council Proud to Be Vol 2 backstory

Every Picture Tells a Story

Students have given photography permisson

Students have given photography permission

Last August, Deborah Marshall, of Warrior Arts Alliance and Missouri Humanities Council, asked me to lead a workshop for veterans with PTSD at the Jefferson Barracks VA Hospital, in St. Louis.  I have to admit, I had a wonderful time teaching the importance of the photography role in writing, to the veterans.

This October, I was fortunate to lead two more workshops, titled “Every Picture Tells a Story” at the same location.

In the first class, I talked about capturing images on film as a child.  I built a pinhole camera way back then, and I’ve been taking pictures ever since. When I first picked up the pen, I found that photography helped me recreate the feeling of being ‘in the moment’, sort of like I traveled back in time.

Though freelance contracts, I’d find myself photographing a particular location or event – people, beaches, meadows, and even food.  This aided in story development.  The pictures helped me fill in the blanks and recap memories.

I shared a slideshow of photos from my travel assignments from AAA Travel and Missouri Life with the students, and expressed what each photo meant to me.

I stressed the importance of ‘show, don’t tell’, and how we need to tap all of our senses, thoughts and feelings when telling a story.  I urged the students to snap photos of anything – people’s actions, the sunlight on a rose, the soulfulness in a dog’s eyes. They could always go back and write about the images later.

I read from Anne Lamott’s bird by bird, the Polaroids chapter, and relayed the relevance of  ‘the big picture.’  During their first writing assignment in class, my hubby projected a photo on the computer monitor.  With written instructions, I asked the students to convey in writing what they were feeling and doing, the time of day, the season – all the little details pertinent to showing, not telling.

When the exercise was over, the students offered to share stories aloud.  I was amazed by the many interpretations just one photo could convey.  And I was proud.

We discussed the rules of writing, and writing tips.  Then I distributed another exercise, on overuse of words.  We applied this to a second writing exercise.

Once again, I was overjoyed by their answers and creativity.  They got it.  They truly got it.

I distributed a homework exercise in the form of an essay I’d written, accompanied by hubby’s photo of a ten-foot Caribbean reef shark, and asked them to highlight colorful descriptions throughout the essay that created visual images in their mind.  We’d discuss next week.

I looked at the clock, and realized two hours had flown by.  As I packed up my papers, computer, and class aids, the veterans shuffled past hubby and me on their way out the door.  They said they planned on coming back to class next week, eager to learn something new.

On the way to the car, one of the woman approached me and said, “You’re a great facilitator; can’t wait to see you again.  You made class fun.”

Funny thing.  I’d never thought about myself in that way.

So when Rita from the VA left me a voice mail stating most of the students were returning for the second class, I decided to create a new syllabus for “Every Picture Tells a Story – Part Two.”

Stay tuned for next week’s blog post and what we talked about…