Thursday, September 29, 2011

Creativity can save your sanity...

This past week has been somewhat of a nightmare, for many reasons. Not only for personal reasons, but technological too. We had a modem problem that made accessing the Internet difficult. Since our Internet and main phone line were bundled, we lost main phone service too (thank goodness for working cell phones!). Now that the technological problems are straightened out, I've had to play catch up on a lot of things.

On the good side, I used the time to work on creative projects. I finished my second short story/poetry collection in time for Halloween, and started to put together a collection of my art. Spent more time with the kids and generally tried not to go insane. I finally got rid of a lot of clutter around the house...Goodwill and the used bookstore received plenty of donations.

When times are tough and people question your relative sanity (literally, figurative or otherwise), writing and art are good outlets for sadness and frustration. Put those words on the page, draw those images, mix those colors and throw them on the canvas. A slow boil can make a tasty spaghetti sauce or a great cup of tea. A quick flash can spark more ideas down the road. Get those emotions out there before it has a chance to fester into a gaping emotional wound.

This past week has been a lesson in patience and self-preservation. I can say this, though: creative work has been (and continue to be) a way for me to cope when my world's turned upside down. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Admin Post: New e-book now available from

My second e-book of short stories and poetry, "From the Dark Side of Shadow" is now available from! 

Here's the link:

The heart is capable of great kindness, but also of great cruelty. How far are you willing to go to get what you want? This collection of short stories and poetry explores the darker side of human nature. "The Final Cut" focuses on a hair stylist who has greater ambitions than her current employment. A girl enters a mathematical world in "Math Spells". Is "The Toy Room" really haunted?

Check out this collection of dark tales on Scribd. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day...


Pirate Lady Annie of the ship Rum and Caffeine

Beware her sword, unbreakable coffee mug and pointed brush! Her palette doubles as a shield!

Friday, September 16, 2011

"No Drizzle" Mini Collage

 "No Drizzle"

mixed media, collage

© 2011 by A. Dameron


Here is one of the first mini-collages I did in my new art journal. The label was part of a box of chocolate eclairs (gotten on sale). I thought it looked like a person with her arms holding something, and added the eyes, with a shiny cream wrapper background. :-D

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mini-Collage Art Journal

Here is my newest art journal. It's a hardback medium-sized Piccadilly journal with with plain pages. I got this at the Borders closing sale for 50% off. The strip above says 'Celebrate Creativity' and the 'distressed' sticker at the bottom says 'Recenly Discovered'.

I haven't done any mini-collages in quite some time now. I usually went through the Sunday paper and cut/tore out any pictures that appealed to me, even on a subconscious level. Later, I'd arrange and glue them down in arrangements and added sparkly glue, stickers, etc. When I was short on time (with 3 kids, that was normal), it was a quick and easy way to make art.

I want to get back into the 'habit', so this will be my mini-collage journal. I'll post some of these mini creations as I do them. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Blast of the Past for my 100th (Posterous) Post: Olympia Carina 1 Typewriter

Yes, I still have this, and not in storage. It's in my bedroom next to my old writing desk. This is Olympic Carina 1 manual typewriter. Nope, not even electric. No plugs or screen attached.

Yup, that's a manual carriage handle at the upper left.

I wanted a typewriter when I was nine years old. We were overseas (Naples, Italy) and this was way before you could order something via the Internet. My mom's friends were bringing their son to an Air Force base in Germany for a medical operation, and Mom secretly asked them to get this at the Heidelberg Air Force base's PX. I was so excited to get this and began typing away.

And this is what it looks like with the cover taken off. It still has the (long faded) dual ribbon attached to the rollers. That's metal type, too. When you typed, the ribbon went from left to right and when it reached the end, you had to rewind the ribbon or flip a little switch so the ribbon went from right to left. The keys occasionally got stuck and you had to pry them down. I remember long hours with a toothbrush, scrubbing away dried ink from the type. After a short while, the letters 'o' and 'p' and 'q' had ink built up within the circles.

At the right side of the typewriter is a little switch with a black arrow at the bottom and a red arrow at the top. That changes the ink color. The ribbon had a black stripe at the bottom and a red at the top, and this flips it from one color to the other. (No #FF000000)

At the left hand side of the carriage is the switch that controlled spacing. There's an 'R' at the top for 'release' so you can pull the sheet of paper out without turning the knob. There's a '1' for single spacing, another line in between for 1 1/2 and '2' for double spacing. Tabs were set by those white plastic thingies at the top. And there's the silver manual return still pushed the carriage from left to right to advance.

Out of curiosity, I looked up 'Olympia Carina 1 Manual Typewriter' on the internet. Of course, now it's considered an antique. Someone had sold theirs on E-bay for 39,99 pounds.

I'm sure that kids who grew up in the Internet Age would be boggled by something like this. Yes, typing required work and a steady hand (and even then, sometimes it turned out crooked on the paper). But here's a photo that made me glad that I've kept my manual around for this long:

Two year old Sarah curious about the manual typewriter. Now she uses it to identify her letters.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Painting in Progress: "At the Lake"


"At the Lake"


© 2011 by A. Dameron


This is an unfinished painting. I've blocked out the major locations of the mountains, water and the lake shore. The next step for me is to build on those general masses and apply shading, highlights and details.

Painting in Progress

Friday, September 9, 2011

Portal to the Sea


Portal to the Sea


©2011 by A. Dameron


This is part of my new series of Oriental-themed paintings and drawings. The general design of the door is called a 'Moon Portal'. It's a circular door that leads to serene surroundings, like a garden or a pool.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Short story: The Fortuneteller

The tent was different from all the others. Instead of sturdy canvas, it shimmered and flowed like bouquets of silk. Shades of violet and green were trimmed with gold. There were no signs to tell customers what kind of wares it sold. A soft breeze fluttered the ribbons at the entranceway.

I drew back the flap and stepped inside. A scent of fresh-cut roses wafted past my nose. As my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I looked around me. A thick mossy carpet cushioned my feet. Flames flickered in shiny glass globes. Pillows of every size and shape lay on the floor and around low tables. Paintings hung on the silk walls. I gazed at them, one by one, and my surprise grew.

The Happy Buddha. Kwan Yin. Ameratsu. Jesus Christ. Mohammed. The walls were a shrine to every religion and belief system; there were several I didn’t recognize. A shimmering painting of the phases of the moon sat directly behind a wooden stool.

It was if I had stepped into a mystical universe. I shivered, although it was warm inside the tent.

Hello, dear. May I help you?”

I turned around. A tall, dark-haired lady glided to my side. She wore a white blouse and a purple skirt that touched the floor. The gold bangle around her arm clinked softly as she put her hand on my shoulder.

Um–I guess so. I hope I’m not intruding–“

She smiled. “Of course not. You are a welcome guest. May I offer you a drink?”

Yes, thank you.”

Before I knew it, I was seated at one of those low tables, sipping from a delicate porcelain cup. I recognized the taste: jasmine tea. The woman poured herself a cup out of her jade-green pot. I observed her from lowered lids. She had a dark beauty, an exotic flair that spoke of desert nomad princesses. Her almond-shaped eyes hinted at some Asian heritage. A smile appeared on her full-cherry red lips. She knew I was watching her.

Thank you for the tea,” I said. “Jasmine’s my favorite.”

That smile grew wider. “Yes, I know.”

You do?”

I do.” She extended a hand. “My name is Shona.”

Mine is–“


I raised my eyebrows. “How did you know that?”

I know a lot of things,” she said. It was not a boast, just a statement of simple fact. “A lot, but not all. Only the Gods know all.” She pointed to the various paintings with her chin.

I grunted and finished my tea. I did not consider myself religious by any means. Years of Catholic school hardly endeared me to a stern, omnipotent God. I vowed never to put my own children through the same ordeal.

Shona put down her cup with a click. “You’re a skeptic at heart, Rachel. You question everything. Curiosity is important to you. Discovery. Novelty. Freedom.”

She picked up a green sphere from its perch on the table. “What is this?” she asked.

A green ball,” I replied.

She handed it to me. “What does it look like to you?”

I turned it in my hands. Its smooth surface reflected the candlelight. Bands of light green alternated with dark emerald. It reminded me of a strange, alien planet with thin clouds. I said as much to Shona.

She nodded. “You see all sorts of possibilities, Rachel. Sometimes there is more underneath the literal surface.”

Shona asked me other questions about my outlook on life, my travel and my interests. She never tried to pry; if I wanted to decline any answer, she did not insist. The more we talked, the more comfortable we became. It was as if she was a sister, a confidante. A part of my mind said, She isn’t your typical fortuneteller. Shona did not use tarot cards or crystal balls or ouija boards. Instead, she dug beneath the surface. She used her intuition and her powers of observation. As she analyzed me, I analyzed her. She struck me as some kind of shaman or medicine woman. Mysterious but clear. Inscrutable but expressive. It was a maddening combination.

A mass of contradictions,” she said. “Rachel, you are a mass of contradictions. Social but alone. Skeptic, yet willing to accept on faity. Restless, yet staying where you are.” Shona inclined her head. “You will find what you are looking for, and soon. You will no longer be alone.”

I chuckled. “Let me guess. I’ll have a husband, two kids, a house, a car and a dog.”

She laughed. “If that’s what you want. You will also be successful in your craft.”

I’ll win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.”

My cynicism did not faze her. “And you will find the courage to seek out all kinds of possibilities, even the ones that seem impractical or foolish.” Shona held my gaze. “Do not lose that talent, Rachel. Ever.”

I sighed. “I’ll try.”

She reached over and placed her hands on the green sphere in my hands. Then she murmured something that sounded like a blessing. “You can keep this, Rachel, as a remembrance,” she said.


Thank you, Shona,” I said. We both stood up at the same time. “I enjoyed your company.”

And I, yours. Take care of yourself, Rachel.”

I smiled and left her tent. The cold night air chased the scent of the incense from my head. I felt as though I had been there for hours, but my watch told me only fifteen minutes had elapsed.

Strange, I thought. I headed for the carnival exit, cradling the ball in my hands.


There is more to the story. I never saw Shona again. The next day, I went back to the carnival, but her tent had disappeared. The other vendors told me that she never stayed in the same place. Shona was always moving, like me.

Two months after this, my life changed. I found a nice little cottage by the seaside. I wrote my stories and painted my pictures. For the first time, I felt a sense of peace. I chased down and captured my whimsical ideas, no matter how impractical and foolish. By year’s end, I found myself fulfilling Shona’s predictions.

Right now, I have a husband, a car, a house and a dog.

I haven’t won the Pulitzer Prize yet.

Maybe someday, I will.  


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Snippet: The Haunted Kitchen

It only took her a few seconds to realize she wasn't alone. She glanced around the kitchen. The pantry was still empty, the fridge still leaking water, the oven still crusted with spaghetti sauce and grease. The floor still squeaked as she made a slow circuit around the kitchen island.

Goosebumps raised on her flesh. A sense of of hominess, the faint odor of burnt candy and sugar cookies. The lights brightened, although there was no electricity. Then she was elsewhere... 

An older woman bustled about in a gingham apron, dancing between stove and island. She checked the candy thermometer stuck in a ghostly pan, checked the torn recipe book. She brushed by the living as if she didnb't exist. Dumbfounded, she watched a dead woman running her long-dead kitchen.



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Under the Sakura Tree" now available on Scribd. com

My collection of Japanese poetry (waka) titled, "Under the Sakura Tree" is now available on Scribd. com.

Here is the link:

This collection includes haiku (5-7-5 syllables), choka (a long poem with stanzas of alternative 5-7 syllables each, and the last stanza ends in 5-7-7) and tanka (5-7-5-7-7). Subjects range from nature to tea and chocolate, from the thoughts of cats and musings on the night. Many of the poems are accompanied by original artwork.

Stop and by and take a look! Thanks!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Snippet: The Strange Girl in the Woods

I froze at the sound. Someone’s crying, I thought. There, up ahead in that copse of trees. I crept up the path. The wind stirred uneasily as I drew closer.

Hallo!” I called. “Brauchst du Hilfe?” Do you need help?

There was a pause, then a small voice replied, “Nein.”

Wo bist du?” Where are you?

Bitte, lass mich in Ruhe.” Please, leave me alone.

I turned the corner and peered behind the stand of bushes. There, shivering under a pine tree, was a little girl, about seven or eight years old. Her wide eyes looked on me like a lamb about to be slaughtered. Her thin fingers clutched the threadbare shawl about her shoulders. She wore no shoes, only stockings.

Poor girl,” I said, still speaking in German. “What’s happened to you?”

Don’t come near me,” she pleaded. “Don’t.”

I won’t hurt you. Let me help.” I took a few cautious steps in her direction. She cringed away from me. “You’re cold, you need help. I’m a doctor.”

She raised her chin. Anger warred with the sheer terror in her eyes. “Are you one of Them?” I heard the capital “T” in the word.

Who are ‘Them’?” I asked, genuinely puzzled.

Them. The ones who took my family away.” Her brief burst of bravado fled as soon as it came. Her face crumpled and she began to sob. I knelt by her side. My instincts automatically catalogued her ailments: hypothermia, dehydration, lack of food. She was still strong, despite her hardships. This was no ordinary little girl.

Let me take you back to my cabin,” I said, in a tone that allowed no opposition. “You can tell me your story after some food, a bath and warm clothes.”

Aber, Frau Doktor...”

No buts.” I helped her to stagger back to her feet. “What is your name?”

Katya.” Suddenly, she seemed shy. “And what is yours?”

Andrea Weisgard.” At the sound of my name, she tried to pull away from me. “I’m American, but my great-grandparents were German.”

Katya shook her head. “I will only bring you trouble, Frau Doktor Weisgard.”

Let me be the judge of that. Come on. Lean on me if you have to.” We started back down the path towards my cabin. The words to the Hippocratic Oath floated through my mind. “First do no harm...” I would help this poor girl, as best as I could.

But what was I going to do afterwards?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Tao of Book Layouts...

I'm currently in the process of putting together my e-book of Japanese poetry, "Under the Sakura Tree". It includes several forms of waka, or Japanese verse. The most familiar is the haiku, with on of 5-7-5. On literally means 'sound parts', which in English is translated to 'syllables'. Other forms include:

choka ("long poems"), which consists of stanzas of lines of alternating 5-7 syllables. The three lines of the very last stanza are 5-7-7.

Tanka ("short poems") have the pattern 5-7-5-7-7.

Finally, sedoka ("memorized poems") are 5-7-7-5-7-7. 

Last week, I went through my paintings, sketches and drawings to find artwork that matched some of the poetry. The challenge was to find a way to balance the text with the illustrations. I could have easily stuck the pictures randomly, but that would have ruined the flow of the book. The Japanese (and other East Asian cultures) put high value on harmony, whether it be relations between people or a nature painting.

Years ago, I spent long hours drawing layouts on graph paper, as the staff of my high school yearbook raced to meet publishing deadlines. I remember counting tiny squares, drawing straight lines with rulers, and labeling the locations of text and pictures. Everything had to be precise; if we were off by just one square in any direction, it meant starting over with a new layout. Obviously this was before desktop publishing and pre-Internet. Yes, it was time-consuming and tedious as anything. I learned hard lessons during those long had to be exact in your measurements to place items just right. 

Technology makes that a thing of the past. An author can use templates to make an e-book, newsletter, or website in moments. Gone are the rulers, the graph paper, and the frustration. Yet convenience doesn't excuse a jumbled mess: if a book isn't formatted correctly and appears to be slapped together at the last minute, I'm not inclined to go past the first paragraph. Form follows function, and vice versa. Balance between text and illustration, or text and white space help the reader along the page. He or she can easily follow your plot (or logical progression of information) without getting lost and frustrated. It makes it more likely the reader will read to the last word.

So I'll look at the pieces of my puzzle and put them together:


I gaze over there

of a soul's worth of poems:

Now to weave them whole.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"A Patchwork of Life" Short Story collection now available from!

My first collection of short stories, "A Patchwork of Life" is finally available on 

The link is here:

It's free to sign up on and you can read the first of the stories, "The Journey" on site. If you'd like to download the entire PDF, it's only $2.00 to do so.

Stop on by and leave a comment to say hello!