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.

DSC_1606 Jimmie (pier) black and white - by Sheree K. Nielsen copyr

DSCN0300 Russell, flag, Kindred Spirit blkwht copyr

A Radish Lady, Coffee, and “A God Thing”

DSC_1721 cappucino art design 1 crop copry

This past October I taught a workshop titled “Every Picture Tells a Story” at the Jefferson Barracks Veterans Administration Hospital in St. Louis.  During the two classes, I met amazing veterans – one I will call Sally.

Fast forward to this week. The last few days brought me medical testing – CT scans, ultrasounds, and biopsies.  By Friday afternoon I was spent.

Although Sally’s week was just as stressful as mine, she sent an email saying, “I’m going to say a special prayer for you, and will continue throughout the day.”  That brought a smile to my face.

A friend of Sally’s gifted her a book,“Coffee with God”.  She mentioned that I should pretend the book was called “Cappuccino with God” (because cappuccinos are my favorite coffee drink.)

The author, Sarah Arthur, reflects with God, prays and explores ways God transforms us through our regular routines in a 365-day devotional.

Sally mentioned the book was instrumental with her New Year’s resolutions – she quit smoking.

The devotional for January 10 was titled “PESSIMISM AND WOBBLE”

I won’t go into detail, but the bible verse that Sally cut and pasted in the email references Philippians 4:6 – “Don’t worry about anything, pray about everything.”

That sentence hit me like a ton of bricks. Not because I was unfamiliar with this bible verse, but because it was my daily creed.  Whenever a friend is having trouble, I share this verse, recognizing it helps me through my trials.

I decided to go to Sarah Arthur’s website and read more about the book. I hopped onto her blog and noticed a comment she left on a particular day. That day just happened to be my birthday. Feeling like this was not a coincidence, but a ‘God thing’, I searched Amazon.com and ordered the book immediately.

The series of events from the minute I met Sally, all led up to yesterday afternoon.  God’s plan was in motion long before I met her.

Here’s the string of events:

At the Missouri Writer’s Guild Conference three years ago, I met Deb Marshall from the Warrior Arts Alliance. Deb recommended I teach the “Every Picture Tells a Story” workshop at the VA Hospital. At the workshop I met Sally. The students asked hubby and I to return and teacher another class. Sally, hubby and I conversed after the workshop outside and joked about the parking situation. I gave her my business card. She emailed me. I emailed her. We kept a string of emails going.

Yesterday, her kind words and thoughtfulness lead to God’s plan. He reassures I’m in HIS care and grace.

My angel-messenger from above, Sally, despite her hectic life, took time to be caring, thoughtful, and positive. And isn’t that what we all should strive to do? EVERY DAY!

Thank you Sally for being there when I needed someone. I’ll try and heed the words from Philippians 4:6.

And by the way ‘Radish Lady’, you’re a fabulous writer!

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.

DSCN0300 Russell, flag, Kindred Spirit blkwht copyr

Community News, an award, and a pinch of inspiration

I’ll make this one short and sweet.

In November, I won an award from the Missouri Humanities Council and the Warrior Arts Alliance for a photo taken of my husband on Bird Island, North Carolina titled “Dear Kindred Spirit”.

The Kindred Spirit Bench is becoming my safe place, my inspiration, the ying to my yang….you know what I mean.

Here’s the story behind the photo and the award.  Hope you enjoy.  The photo is on display at the St. Peters Cultural Art Center, St. Peters, Missouri.

Comm News 12-4-13 Sheree copy

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

Publications in two anthologies dear to my heart

Just wanted to take a moment to tell you of two new anthologies I’ve been published in.

The Animal Anthologies Project has published my essay entitled “Purrs, Paws, and Cat Scratch Kisses” formerly in Whispering Angel Books Nurturing Paws Anthology.  The fourth essay in the book, it’s about overcoming handicaps and the positive energy my three-legged cat Tripoli supplies me with daily.  You can read more about The Animal Anthologies Project by clicking here on the Psychology Today link.

The other publication is Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors published by the Missouri Humanites Council and Southeast Missouri Press.  The stories and photos are from veterans or families of veterans.  My photograph “Army Mom” can be found in the book.   Click on Warrior Arts Allliance website for more information on how to purchase the book.