Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Musings: How else do we create

Welcome to your Sunday Musings

Wow, we've come to the last Sunday of November entering into the last month of 2016. Always seems a quick year at this point, so much done and still feeling like so much to do.

We talked about what writing keeps us from doing, but that doesn't mean we don't do other creative activities. Here's to the other ways we're creative:

I have been a photographer for approximately 20-25 years now. I have studied, and will continue to study painting, especially egg tempera painting, as used by Medieval/Renaissance artists, on real parchment. I would also like to someday learn sculpting. And what will I do with all of this? Maybe nothing. Maybe something. But in the meantime I enjoy the creative process. In this case (I am about to butcher a well known saying) the adventure is truly in the journey rather than the destination. The destination, however, can provide great satisfaction regardless of what happens at the destination (painting sold, photograph sold, sculpture sold, etc.). Oh yes, and of course, my primary creativity is that of being a writer.

I love drawing and painting but it's some time since I picked up a paint brush or a pencil. In the past, I have painted scenery for productions in the school where I worked, such as a Victorian workhouse for Oliver Twist, as well as an Egyptian mural in my bedroom. Nowadays, I enjoy photography and don't often leave home without my camera, so I suppose you could say I like to create pictures, either in words, or painted,drawn or photographed. 

When I need a creative break from writing, I’ll color. There’s something both freeing and controlled with coloring for me. No one’s running around judging my artwork, but there’s still a level of self imposed control through staying within the lines and taking my time. And, honestly, for someone like me, who’s going full speed ahead most of the time, it’s a forced time-out, adult style.

I write at work (they know), so I don't do much of it at home. Instead, tinker with new versions of the rules for pen and paper role-playing games, or draw floor plans for my settings in a home remodeling program, or The Sims. We also go out to one of those paint classes from time to time. These are open classes for people to follow step by step to create a small painting. I've done six now, and there are three I'm not completely ashamed to show.

Currently, writing is it in terms of formal creativity.  Many years ago, I used to do a great deal of needlework and crocheting, but when I moved from my parents' home to my own condo, I had household chores as well as an increasingly more responsible job and ever-present book demands to fill my time.  Having an active, playful young cat who thought of balls of yarn as gifts to him from Bastet herself put the final end to that.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday Musings: Does writing allow us to do anything else?

Welcome to your Sunday Musings

Ever wonder if all this writing we do ever stops us from doing anything else?

We wonder, too:

MJ LABEFF, New Mainstream author

The commitment it takes to write a full length novel often leaves me little time for family and friends much less anything else. My hubby will tell you my head’s always in my computer. It’s a balancing act. I’m stuck in the three Ws- work, workout, write. The math is pretty easy. Eight hours at work, two hours at the gym, one to two hours writing and then add on another hour or two on social media. If I had more time here are things I’d like to learn to do: cook, play piano and paint in either water colors or oils.

Okay, who am I kidding? I hate to cook. My ultimate goal is to spend more time with my hubby preferably at the beach in San Diego.

I would rather write than do anything else but if I could find more time, I would like to spend some of it drawing. I have done several portraits of people such as Marilyn Monroe, Sean Connery, Paul Newman, Elvis and Tom Cruise but they take me so long to complete, I am reluctant to spend much time on anything other than my writing! I love drawing anyone with an interesting face and I now have a hankering to draw the actor Aidan Turner, who is currently playing Captain Ross Poldark in the BBC production of Poldark, and try to capture his smouldering eyes. But I haven't made a start yet as I'm in the middle of the sequel to 'Daffodil and the Thin Place'!

Reading more books? Actually I find when I’m writing, I have to cut back on my recreational reading and binge watching TV (which is currently Supernatural, Sherlock, and The Librarians). Because I have a day job, and writing is my second job, I have to make sure I keep a balance with my family. If I wasn’t a writer, chances are good I’d either be involved with community theater or I’d still be playing either the piano or violin. For now, I’ll just keep my iTunes lists for my background music when I’m writing.

Not really. I mean, writing DOES take up a monumental amount of time. The only thing I've noticed is that I don't draw as much while writing. I express myself through image or word, rarely both. Drawing takes time usually, though not as much as writing. I hardly ever spend four plus hours on a drawing! If I'm drawing and writing at the same time, then life is in the ultimate balance. That doesn't happen that often. For example, I'm not writing anything new right now: I'm editing and prepping a couple different novels for publishing. I draw almost every day in order to relax. I AM writing scholastically. This past weekend, I wrote three different papers. Drawing is so different than writing, in a way. On my Instagram, @rekosinski, I post all my artwork for fun. It uses a different part of your brain than writing does, so it keeps me centered.

I have one of those jobs most writers would kill to have. I'm alone for over 7 hours, and left alone for most of that one. If the phone rings, I have to answer it and handle emergency calls in a specific and accurate manner. Most nights the phone doesn't ring. A really busy night will see me on the phone for a couple of hours out of the eight I'm here. The rest of the time, I'm free to do anything that doesn't interfere with taking a phone call. Writing is acceptable, so that's what I do.

The closest writing comes to really interfering with "real life" is the occasional debate between writing that night, and binge-watching something on Netflix.

Well, I do remember to breathe...

Writing is a vocation, a calling for me.  All is as normal while I am thinking through ideas, which is frequently the case, and when I'm doing research, but once I am really going strong on a book or in the midst of an edit, everything but everything apart from caring for the cats and fish tends to be parked on an increasingly mountainous to-do pile, literally forgotten or, at best, ignored.  I just about manage to pay bills and take care of first-class mail.  I am speaking about my own immediate personal affairs, of course.  I do not neglect family and friends, and before my retirement, I never neglected my work duties.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday Musings: Remembering

Welcome to your Sunday Musings

This is posting the Sunday following Remembrance Day/Veterans Day.

Today we remember:

My dad and maternal grandfather. James Frederick Steeves and William Edward Goodall.  Love and miss them.

MJ LABEFF, New Mainstream author

To all of the men and women who have served and are serving and to their families and friends- I thank you and honor you for your commitment, sacrifice, and courage. Many years ago a friend shared this poem titled, “A Wish for You”. The author is unknown. It is my wish for you. “May God grant you always, A sunbeam to warm you, A moonbeam to charm you, A sheltering angel so nothing can harm you, Laughter to cheer you, Faithful friends near you, And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.” Wishing you much love and happiness always today and every day.

In 2014 I was asked to write a script for a play about three World War One soldiers - one from my home town, one from our twin town in France and one from our twin town in Germany. It was fascinating to learn the history of the men - George Burnett, Louis Vallin and Albert Kiekert. The play was performed in my town in 2014 to commemorate the beginning of the First World War and then in Germany, in 2015. It was performed on 05 November 2016, in France and for the first time, we have found ancestors of each of the men who attended the performance. Both my grandfathers fought in the First World War so I will remember them this Remembrance Day - thankfully, they survived. Of the three men in my play 'The Sons of Three Countries Remembered', only Louis Vallin, the Frenchman survived the war. British soldier, George Burnett, died in October 1914, just a few months after the war began and German, Albert Kiekert died in 1918, a few months before the war ended. I will remember those men as well.

My father, Timothy Griffin, served in France during World War II.  He landed the day following D-Day, which he witnessed from shipboard, and fought through the hedgerows for nine days until his capture.  He spent the remainder of the War in a POW camp in Bavaria.

I also want to acknowledge his two first cousins, Teddy and Morris Counihan, twin brothers who were killed within weeks of one another, one in Africa and one in Italy.

My father, uncle and grandfather served in either Vietnam or World War Two. Another uncle served in peacetime in the early 70's. I went in the in late 80's but not for long and met some great people (and some not so great). Many of my high school classmates served as well.

So, a general raising of the glass to all those who served for whatever reason, in whatever capacity.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at