"Jewelry Design for Bead Artists" on Craftsy.com

“Jewelry Design for Bead Artists” on Craftsy.com

Monday, May 18th! Stay tuned, jewelry designers! You’ll be able to learn how to create more unity in your designs, how to design for customers you know, and those you’ve never met, how to design for specific body types, and so much more!

I’ll also be giving away a free class!

I’m writing to you about fiction again, not design, color, or jewelry. I’ll get back to those passions next week, because I will have exciting news to tell you (especially those of you who have been wanting to take classes from me, but can’t because I’m here and you’re there and I never get there). More on that next week.

Today I’d like to share another excerpt from one of the flash fiction stories I contributed to the fiction and poetry compilation, Mosaic. One of the things I find most beautiful in life is hope: hope that in the dark becomes a beacon of light; hope that people who have suffered great loss hold, even as their backs are bent in grief. This story is one of hope. Its title is “Connecting Flight.”

Mosaic on Amazon“I’m at the gate waiting to board Zone 3. Three years ago I would’ve been thrilled to be going home. Three years ago Sarah would’ve been there waiting for me. I instinctively rub my left thumb against the ring I cannot – will not – take off. That was a long three years ago.

Out of the corner of my eye I see jerky movements. I turn and pretend to look through the window at the plane we’re about to board, but I’m really trying to see what’s going on. She’s very old. In a wheelchair. Bright pink shirt. Her claw-like hands rhythmically clutch and release a purse. Her head trembles. God, I hope I’m not sitting next to her. I hate myself a little for thinking that, but why should I? I just want a quiet flight. Old women always want to talk.

Once I’m in my seat, who do you think the flight attendant helps into the aisle seat next to me? Of course.”

To read more download Mosaic for free.

Please leave a review for us. Two of you, dear readers, left a review (or wrote to me of your intention to). Writing a review can be intimidating, and it takes time and energy. I deeply appreciate your generosity.

I wanted to remind you that Mosaic is still available on Amazon for free, if you enjoy fiction and poetry.

As I mentioned last week, a group of writer’s who met virtually in an online writing class created this eBook together. I’ve contributed two flash fiction stories to Mosaic.

Here’s an excerpt from my story, “Leonardo”:

“It had been over five centuries since Luigi, Leonardo’s guardian angel, had ushered the great artist into Paradise. And in those five centuries Leonardo had done nothing but sit in the garden gazing at hummingbirds. “The zenith of all flying machines!” Leo frequently exclaimed, startling Luigi out of a long stretch of silence.

Luigi was distraught, for it was his job to ensure that Leonardo progressed to higher planes. As all angels know, in order for humans to progress, they must first recognize their earthly failures and accomplishments. But Luigi couldn’t get Leo to pay attention to anything but the birds. In five centuries Leo had not left the garden once.”

Creating Mosaic has been challenging, inspiring, fun, and I’m so proud to be sharing it with you.

We’re offering it for free at several online resellers. For now, here’s the link to Mosaic on Amazon.
I’d love for you to download it and give us a review.

One of my co-authors, Brian Rella, explains why reviews are important. “Customer Reviews help readers make informed decisions before spending hard earned cash on a book and help independent authors get noticed.”

Good customer reviews are gold to Indie Writers.

Having said that, please understand I’m asking for an honest review. I’m not asking you to leave a 5 star review if you didn’t like it.

Thank you for your time. I hope you enjoy Mosaic.

Here’s something fun. It has nothing to do with visual arts or jewelry or beads.

It has everything to do with imagination, creativity, and the discipline to follow-through with productivity.

A group of writer’s and I have created an eBook compilation of short stories and poems called Mosaic. We met virtually in an online writing class by Joe Bunting called “The Story Cartel Course” this summer and have been working together since. I’ve contributed two flash fiction stories to Mosaic.

Creating Mosaic has been challenging, inspiring, fun, and I’m so proud to be sharing it with you.

We’re offering it for free at several online resellers. For now, here’s the link to Mosaic on Amazon.
I’d love for you to download it and give us a review.

One of my co-authors, Brian Rella, explains why reviews are important. “Customer Reviews help readers make informed decisions before spending hard earned cash on a book and help independent authors get noticed.”

Good customer reviews are gold to Indie Writers.

Having said that, please understand I’m asking for an honest review. I’m not asking you to leave a 5 star review if you didn’t like it.

Like Brian says: “leaving a customer review will motivate someone else to take a chance and download the book. And wouldn’t spreading some joy be awesome with all the crap going on in the world?…What if you thought the book was just ok?…If you leave a 3 star, honest, and constructive review, telling us what you did and didn’t like, it will help us grow as writers, and that’s just as helpful. We want to get better. Constructive criticism will help us get better.”

Thank you for your time. I hope you enjoy Mosaic.

JM_logo_2014Jewelry Maven is a mobile app for jewelry wearers and designers. It displays visual combinations of jewelry styles overlaid upon specific fashions styles and rates them which ones work and which don’t.

Why Firefox?

Most people in the US don’t own a Firefox phone. One reason is that we want to smooth out the bugs and get user feedback in smaller markets first. Also, Firefox is an open source, web-based platform dedicated to building affordable phones for emerging markets (currently Columbia, Germany, Greece, Spain). We want to be part of that.

If you’re on a Firefox phone and living in Columbia, Germany, Greece, Spain, please check out Jewelry Maven in the app store.

If not, don’t worry, you’ll be able to enjoy Jewelry Maven soon on your Android and iPhone…if all goes as intended, by the end of 2014.

For now I want to share the good news. Darren (my husband) and I have been working on this for over a year and a half. And we are proud parents!

Thank you for reading!


A review on Amazon for my book, The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design, touches me deeply. Alicia wrote:
“What I didn’t expect was the paragraph at the end where the author emphasized that as beaders we’re allowed to think that what we create is important. 

…we’re allowed to be passionate about our own creativity. It gave me chills. It brought tears to my eyes. It was an enormous relief, because for years I’ve been unknowingly downplaying my own love of beads and beadwork. I’ve been playing it off as a mere hobby, keeping quiet about it, pretending it’s a shameful secret that nobody really needs to know about, instead of a vital part of my creative life and an increasingly important part of who I am.

I think I needed to hear that even more than I needed help with color values, to be honest.”

I wrote last week’s blog post/newsletter, An Act of Love with Alicia’s words in mind.

caldroun_creativityDecades ago a collection of my beaded jewelry was featured in a gallery opening. I didn’t tell anyone about it because I thought it wasn’t important. It’s just jewelry, made out of glass beads, and after all, I made it, so how important could it be? If I’d been showing paintings, now that would have been important.

I was raised amid the mind set of artistic chauvinism, believing that creating in one medium was superior to another. It’s a common snobbery that was even more prevalent pre-internet. It did damage. Someone else – someone unnamed, ambiguous, and anonymous – had the power to determine if what I created measured up, not me. And I came to believe that what I created would never measure up, no matter the medium. What a price to pay! It’s taken years of conscious effort, contemplation, and healing to unlearn that garbage and learn to value and honor creativity more than the medium, more than the creation itself.

What is important is that we create.

Whether we use glass beads, paint, words, sound, fabric, or macaroni elbows is of little importance.

What is important for me is that when I’m creating I am connecting with my Soul. I’m giving to myself and to others. I’m inspiring others to create and seek and connect.

I’m honored by Alicia’s words. She inspires me and reminds me how much creativity, my creativity, matters.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. Why is creativity important to you?

Thank you,

Want to see knock-your-socks-off extraordinary creativity in every medium imaginable? Check out one of my favorite Pinterest boards, Soaring Creativity

DylanA friend of mine texted me the other day. Her 6-year-old son had asked if he could look at The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design in the car as they ran errands. He poured over it intently, studying page after page. At one stop (looks like a QuikTrip gas station to me) he said, “Mommy, this book is beautiful! Can I keep it forever?”

She told me he carried it with him all day.

I was astounded that a 6-year-old recognized beauty in that form.

It made my day.

Holding_the_HopeMaybe like me, you grew up among the notion that jewelry is, at best, gewgaw for the shallow minded. Or, at worst, a prop for the vain. That jewelry is no more than playing dress up; meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Decades ago I worried that I was devoting a large part of my life to a frivolous pursuit that, in the end, would prove it misspent or squandered. But now, after having explored every aspect of jewelry from the ornamental, to the academic, to the aesthetic, and to the most fascinating for me, the psychological and emotional, I’ve come to a secure peace in knowing this: I have devoted much of my passion to precisely the right thing for me and my growth.

An excerpt from The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design speaks to what I’ve discovered.

“We diminish the significance of jewelry – and its creation – when we consider it simply ornamentation. The very heart of jewelry is the expression of being. Each time we make and adorn ourselves with jewelry we give ourselves over to an ancient ritual, a ceremony where the alchemy of our creativity combines with the passion of our self-expression.

The result? Magic.”

An alchemical magic happens when we commit a deliberate act of love and beauty.

Before I design jewelry for a friend I spend considerate time imagining. My mind sweeps through years of scenes. I see her laughing, talking, turning her head. I mentally sort through what I know she finds beautiful in books, movies, relationships, nature, art. I sense who she is beyond words. Like sculpting clay, I form these sensations into an object of beauty. She will drape this beauty on her Self, and it will temporarily become part of who she is.

Beyond artistry, talent, and skill, this is an act of love.

When we make (or choose) jewelry for ourselves, the process is more intuitive and rapid. But it is no less than – nor should it be – an act of love. And when a woman loves herself it has a profound impact on this world. This world where many women are raised to hate their bodies, hate themselves, see themselves as less-than, put their wants, desires, and needs beneath those of others.

Creating, choosing, and wearing jewelry can be an act of love that can have a profound impact on the world. It will start imperceptibly small: You may not be aware of it. But it can touch each person you interact with. And from there, expand infinitely.

Now when I hear the notion that jewelry is a fribble of vanity I smile. We jewelry designers know the truth, even if we’ve not put words to it, even if we’re not fully conscious of it. We know the necklace itself is a symbol, a reflection of the love and beauty that went into creating or choosing it. And we know the life-affirming power we feel when we suffuse our lives and ourselves with love and beauty.

I’d like to ask for your help. Will you write a book review for The Beader’s Guide to Design?

I ask because reviews sell books. Gone are the days when publisher’s marketing departments passionately push one book like mine to bookstores, because, well… gone are bookstores (for the most part)! Potential readers now rely on online reviews to decide if they want to purchase a book.

If you’re not sure how to approach writing a review, keep reading.
Whether you like the book or not isn’t as important as you might think. Book reviews aren’t about opinions. What makes a good review is you expressing what you found valuable.

BGJD_cover_3stack_3inches_highHow To Write a Valuable Review of an Instructional Book

I’m currently taking The Story Cartel Course by writer/teacher Joe Bunting. Joe, who encourages us to both publish reviews each other’s work and to ask for reviews, inspired me to write this post. Some of these guidelines were inspired by him and his work.

Your job as a reviewer is to help readers discover whether they will enjoy the book.

Questions to consider answering:
  • Did the author communicate concepts and instructions clearly?
  • Was the writing style engaging and easy to read?
  • Was enough information presented to challenge you?
  • What information was included in the book and what did you learn (or disagree, or not learn) from it?
  • Were accompanying diagrams, photos, and illustrations appropriate? Did you learn from them?
  • Are you more empowered and knowledgeable as a result of reading the book?
And finally, I agree with Joe’s question “Did this book succeed or not? The question is not “did you like this book?”  Your review is not about you. It’s about the reader.”

You may want to focus on a section or chapter that you learned from (or didn’t learn from for a specific reason) and quote from it.

If You Don’t Like the Book
Joe Bunting says “I always err on the side of leaving positive rather than negative reviews, even if the book doesn’t suit my taste. If you follow these rules, readers will be able to see whether the book is for them or not, regardless of whether you give them a verdict or not. As John Updike said, “Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.”
A good reviewer rises above her own personal preference as a sign of respect to both readers and the author who wrote the book.
And if the book failed, give the author the benefit of the doubt. Updike said, “Try to understand the failure. Are you sure it’s his and not yours?”

However, if you still think the book is bad, remember your first loyalty is to the reader: Leave the bad review!”

Thank you in advance for writing a book review either on Amazon or Barnes & Noble:

Leave a review on Amazon

Leave a review on Barnes & Noble


purple_astonishmentA friend of mine loves the word “astonish.” What a fun word! I love being astonished. And I love astonishing.

Do your creations have the ability to astonish? Of course not every piece of jewelry you make. But have you made a piece where you purposefully set out to make a piece that astonishes?

I’ve seen a trend in the last decade in beaded jewelry. An assumption that the more beads one can load onto backing or string, the better a piece will be.

This “more is better” attitude is everywhere. When we watch the news we see 5 boxes of information being fed to us rather than concentrating on one story.

My husband, a guitar player, has shown me that line of thinking takes the form of how fast a player can play; how may notes the artist can cram into one or two seconds. The more notes, the better the player. Absurd, as it sounds, that’s the thinking.

In reality, “more is better” is a lazy approach. If one doesn’t have the focus, competency, or knowledge to consciously compose something interesting or beautiful, one falls back on simply doing more, more, and more of something, hoping others will be dazzled by sheer volume or amount of energy expended.

How many items one can attach to leather backing is production, not true creativity. It is not astonishing.

I find that in jewelry that astonishes me, every bead is (or looks as if it is) purposefully arranged, with thought to each bead around it, and how it relates to the entirety of the piece.

  • The composition is planned and ordered, even if it appears to be spontaneous and random.
  • Colors harmonize with each other and are balanced throughout the entire piece.
  • It’s well-planned movement guides my eyes and delights my senses: I enjoy following it.
  • It interacts with the body in fluid, seamless motion.
  • The technique intrigues me.
  • An overall harmony exists: of the entire piece as a whole, and each individual piece.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. What astonishes you?

May 2015
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