Friday, November 28, 2008


Thank you to Sue Thurman of Emerald City Imagineers for inviting me to join LinkedIn. It is a step I've put off for quite some time because I'm having far too much fun getting to know the women artists around...but my focus in business is to get as many of these women artists known by the rest of the world. Therefore, joining LinkedIn is a wise move.

Are you LinkedIn? If so, please visit my page and Link to Votre Vray!
(I'm not thrilled with the categories of business let you select from...being a narrative story facilitator isn't anything like most of the businesses listed. If you think of a category I'm better suited for, let me know...and be nice, please.)

Until next time,
keep creating.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hamiltonian Visual Artist Fellowships

Who should apply

Hamiltonian Artists encourages all interested artists who have not been represented by a gallery to apply for this competitive, two-year fellowship program. Learn more about the So Hamiltonian Fellowship Program.

How to apply

We will be opening up our application process for the 2009-2010 season soon. Please check back on this website for more information after December 15, 2008.

Selection process

Applications will be reviewed by an Advisory Panel composed of gallery owners, art educators, art collectors, curators, and professional artists. The selection process will be based on the applicant's artistic vision, the quality of his/her art work, his/her potential to excel, and his/her desire to contribute to the community of artists at Hamiltonian Artists. Selection of the So Hamiltonian Fellows will be made on or around March 2009.

For more information, please email:

Votre Vray now on Facebook!

Votre Vray
Happy Thanksgiving! As a special thank you to all friends of Votre Vray, you now can join the Votre Vray Group on Facebook and post anything you'd like to promote about your art/craft/performances/creative work! This is free advertisement and networking and can be only as strong as the members who join.
Please come, post photos or links to your work, tell about special deals you've got going on for the holidays and make some new friends!
Have a safe, fun, and loving holiday!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Slam Poet Gayle Danley

The Poetry of Pain: Slam Poet Gayle Danley Teaches Children How Words can Soothe their Wounds
By Christina Ianzito
Sunday, November 23, 2008; Page W16
(an excerpt from Washington Post)

She starts off with a poem titled "Round Like Bubbles": "Round like a big fat green birthday balloon kissing the sky," Gayle Danley begins, then turns her backside to the audience of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at Deerfield Run Elementary School in Laurel and adds, "Why can't I have a round one like J. Lo?"

The 275 students giggle nervously, immediately certain that this rather loud 43-year-old woman, a nationally renowned slam poet in jeans and a green maternity blouse, isn't going to be teaching them any kind of poetry they've ever heard before. This stuff doesn't rhyme. And, what? Did she just mention Jennifer Lopez in a poem?

"How come I don't look like J. Lo?" the poet nearly shouts, plaintively stressing the word "I," with a Southern accent, as the children titter. "You ever look in the mirror and go, 'How come I don't have hair that sings down my spine? How come?' " A few lines later, she switches gears: "I don't need to be Halle Berry, I don't need to be Alicia Keys, I don't need to be bald-headed Britney" -- they really crack up at that one -- "I have it going on, because I have you."

(Article truncated. Rest of article can be found here)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

MOCA Financial Crisis and You

"Los Angeles' prestigious but chronically under-funded Museum of Contemporary Art has fallen into crisis and is seeking large cash infusions from donors, the Los Angeles Times reports. Museum director Jeremy Strick also said he is not ruling out the possibility of merging with another institution or sharing MOCA's collection of almost six thousand works."

Boehm, Mike. "MOCA Faces Serious Financial Problems." Los Angeles Times 11/19/08.

What could this possibly mean to you, as a creative person, or as an artist?
What I see as the relationship is that to have the artistic and creative essentials in our lives sometimes, when life throws a curve ball, people regroup, reassess and make choices to help perpetuate what they feel is most significant during a crisis.

If you're not able to sell enough of your original works, what are you doing to sell lower-price point, mass marketable items with your art connected to it? Who have you partnered with to achieve mutual goals, cut costs and create long-term bonds that may benefit the both of you well beyond the lean times?
  • You can live your dreams --- but sometimes hard work is required to make it happen.
  • You can make a living as a creative person if you're willing to be creative about the business aspect as well.
  • You can find ways to partner with others to keep your dream alive. (In fact, I'd consider that to be essential because community is what creates a demand and buzz around any creative venture.)
Until next time,
keep creating.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Plan for Success

"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities.
Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." - Gloria Steinem

Today, I was delighted to receive a message from a woman I met at the yW's Empowerment event last Tuesday. She is planning on walking away from a business not because of a slow economy but because she is ready to live her dream. We'll be meeting for coffee on Friday so she can bounce some ideas off me and ask me about my storytelling background, because it is related to her new vision of her future.

This may not seem like a significant event, but your mind can only create what it envisions and plans for. She is already successful on one level because she can see where she wants to go and is asking others for input that may be beneficial for her future business. Even if the information I give her cannot help at this time, she's gained an ally who wants to see her succeed, and having a team you can share your dream with is another essential step to a long-term vision that will allow you to live your truth.

  • Who is in your inner circle of allies?
  • How often do you get to share your ideas with them?
  • Which experts have you taken out to lunch?
  • Do you have experts who are not creative chime in (as a board of directors of sorts)?

As a creative person, it may be easy to hole yourself up in your work area and not come out until you've seen a project through, but know to see the success you desire, you need to take your dream out, show it the sunshine and parade it around a while. You just may be amazed what energy you get in return for sharing your vision and dream.

Until next time,
keep creating.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Temperament Guide to Truth

Do you know your learning style? Your temperament? If you've never taken the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, you can do so here.

I've taken it several times in my life and get a sliding view of answers. When I first was in college (back in the late 80s) I tested as an "artisan." By the time I earned my BA degree in 1991, I was a "rational." Did I change or did my overview of the world change?

Here's a bit about the Rational Temperament that I feel Resonates with Me:
  • In working with problems, Rationals try to find solutions that have application in the real world, but they are even more interested in the abstract concepts involved, the fundamental principles or natural laws that underlie the particular case.
  • Rationals have an insatiable hunger to accomplish their goals and will work tirelessly on any project they have set their mind to.
  • Seek to acquire and apply expertise.
  • In your ideal job, you independently analyze systems and make recommendations about how objectives will best be reached; someone else does the work of delegating work, motivating people, or enforcing work duties.
If you've been following my blog, I'm sure you can see how the Votre Vray project relates to who I am in my thought processes.
  • I want to help people find solutions so they can live their truth, not just dream about it.
  • I am constantly trying to open my mind to new solutions and never stop thinking about how I can help others find their truth.
  • I do not pretend to be an expert, but seek out others who have expertise and get permission to use their ideas in sharing with others.
  • I coach others in finding their truth, but ultimately it is up to them.
So what happened to the artisan within?
Did she die off? I think not. Instead, my artistic views are one system I use to relate to the world and connect with others.

Until next time, keep creating.

p.s. The image above is my first official self-portrait created in kindergarten.

Good Artist Have Great Perception

Through the Votre Vray Creative Women interview process I had the opportunity to ask women how they felt when someone called them an artist and most women didn't pick up the title and claim it. In fact, that the time I wasn't willing to claim it. Why?

I believe this stems from our perception of what makes a creation art. Is it connecting with the zeitgeist of our times? Is it beauty? Is it truth? Does it require a degree? If so, what about folk artists? Are only "fine" arts legit? Shouldn't performance and literary artists be given the same props for years of training, practice and production? 

Who are you excluding from your definition of art? How does this exclusion limit your vision and create blind spots that may be also curbing your ability to work?

These are all questions people have debated endlessly, much like the old comfortable arguments between political factions, religious groups and so on. Stop fighting. Start looking and question YOUR perception. Attitude and openness can alter your entire experience on this earth. It does not diminish you to give credit to others where it is due. Be a better artist by opening your horizons, stealing energy (but not work) from each other, and question your artistic authority over the efforts of others. Elitism is more than unbecoming.

Until next time,
keep creating.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Most Popular Artist Searches

Van Gogh Vincent - Starry Night
If you've never been to Artcyclopedia, you might be interested to know that they regularly compile a list of most popular searches for artisits.

Take a minute and guess...who is number one?
(No, the picture I've posted isn't by number one, but he's close.)
Who would you expect to be in the top ten?
Then check your answers.

Are you surprised?
Unfortunately, I was not the least bit shocked but instead, deeply saddened to see that only ONE woman made it in their list of the top 30 searches in August 2008.
What does that say for women? Does it mean you cannot be famous no matter what you do?
Or does it free you from expectations? If I were a male artists, would I want the other top 29 shadows over all that I do and attempt? I think not.

What you can do...
Perhaps there is nothing you can do while you're alive but amass a mighty heap of work, show it to anyone who will look and listen, and then, never look back. It is very likely your work will earn far more for those who gain the rights to it when you're gone than in the years you created it unless you embrace modern marketing techniques that will make you a household name...someday, if not this month, year or decade.

What should you do?
Create. Don't worry about being famous. If that really matters, hire a PR firm and /or publicist. Blog your heart out. In the end, though, what will matter is that you created a body of work and shared it continually. Don't expect to be a shooting star in the starry night. Expect to work until you cannot work anymore. That is the life of a creative. You'll be compelled to create and when you're restricted you'll become unable to manage well in your own skin. Your art is your mental processing until and your communication with the world. Don't second-guess your purpose in each stroke, step, bauble, or piece of ephemera. Keep moving and know, creating will offer you more avenues to live a healthy, sane, well-adjusted life than giving it up and forcing yourself to be whatever society claims you should.

Until next time,
keep creating.

Even Librarians Do Performance Art!

AP Story from Wisconsin

Librarians shook out their buns and dusted off their dancing shoes to compete in the Wisconsin Book Cart Drill Team competition.

The Baraboo Bookers took first prize Friday at the Wisconsin Library Association's annual conference. Teams of librarians created short choreographed dances and rocked out with their book carts.

The Baraboo Public Library team danced to the rock 'n' roll classic "Born to be Wild" with four carts and a dolly.

They competed against the Mad City truckers, graduate students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison who used an Indiana Jones-themed routine.

The Baraboo team advances to the national competition in Chicago next summer and also gets a $250 gift certificate.

Running an Art Business and Bartering for Services

Many artists I know are always fearful where their next paycheck will come from and want to barter for services because arts is their most valuable commodity and readily available for trade.
On their behalf, I did some online research and came across some very interesting information from Alan Bamberger.

Bartering: Know the tax laws
Did you know there are TWO types of bartering?
  • One is called retail exchange.
  • The other is corporate barter.
Visit this article for a detailed explanation.

Sell Your Art Like a Gallery Would*
  • Have regular hours for buyers or set appointments
  • Accept credit card payments
    (Did you know you can accept credit cards via PayPal for on-site transactions instead of going through a bank?)
*See more details on this subject.

Alan Bamberger is a consultant for artist with very low fees. If you've used his services and are satisfied, please chime in here on the comments section. Otherwise, visit his site for his plethora of free articles on the business end of being an artist.

As always, please do you own due diligence when taking anyone's word, including mine. If it is financial advice you need, confirm your findings with an expert. If it is a referral you need, as the service provider for referrals that you can follow up on.

Until next time,
keep creating!

P.S. All rights to Alan Bamberger's work and services belong solely to him and not to Votre Vray. Listing his links and information about his is solely based upon my research and hopefully will connect artists to resources they need and I'm not fully qualified to offer based upon my experiences as a literary and performance artist who networks with artists of all media and modes. Mel Edwards or Votre Vray is not affiliated with Alan Bamberger or in any way.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Feeling Odd and Different? Maybe You're a Flamingo, too!

Remember your favorite treasured story from childhood? Maybe We Are Flamingos, by Arizona author “Safari” Sue Thurman, has those magical elements, wrapped in humor, love, and beautiful illustrations, by Kevin Collier. For a sneak preview, watch the book trailer.

This story is a great way to add some Pink to your holidays and makes the perfect gift for every child on your list at only $10.95. It is gaining popularity at zoo gift shops across the country.

Flora and Fernando Flamingo hatch into a family of very tall, very pink birds. Soon the siblings worry about their white color . . . until the day they each discover a dark gray feather.

When mum explains flamingos are white, gray, then pink, the little flamingos dance on their tiptoes with happiness. Adult flamingos stay pink because of the foods they eat. Amid giggles the birds wonder what the flock would look like if they ate a diet of only broccoli or tacos? Using their vivid imaginations, the young flamingos draw funny pictures. That night their mum explains, “The color of your feathers is not important, but what is in your heart.”

Inspired by producing programs for millions of children and their families, Thurman is now focused on producing and directing a television pilot based on igniting children’s creative thinking with the best key to unlock the imagination . . . books.

Maybe We Are Flamingos is available now online at: Guardian Angel Publishing, Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and other locations worldwide.

You can visit Safari Sue here. Tell her Mel Edwards' Votre Vray sent you!
(Sue is one of the original 75 women who interviewed for the Votre Vray Creative Women project.)

Trash as Art!

The other day I was informed about the work of Adrian Kondratowicz and his TRASH: anycoloryoulike NYCitywide project from 2008 (that is extending into 2009). I immediately jumped up and yelled, YES! This is fantastic! I knew that his work made a statement, got people's attention, was accessible for many, and met the beauty standard that so many art fans and artists require to consider something to be artistic. I immediately contacted him if it was okay to copy some of his images for Votre Vray exposure and he gave overwhelmingly positive approval.

If you don't know how to market your art, take come cues from this project!

What is the Mission of the Project?
  • Art accessibility
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Color Therapy in Public Places
  • Exercises in Perception
How Can You Participate?
Buy bags like the one featured at the top of this post. Visit AK's site for pricing and details.

Commission Your Own Project!
If you have a custom TRASH installation, you can order bags with tags that detail your mission/focus. Bags are 100% biodegradable!

Far Rockaway

October 4th, 2008

Far Rockaway, originally uploaded by TRASH : cameraphone.

Gratitude, Joy and Success

As a former student of the Pacific Institute and of Lou Tice's work, I'm often reminded of our blind spots or things we do not see that are perfectly perceptible if we know how to open your eyes to them. One way to open your eyes is to take time to look and listen. Then, be thankful for what you see and hear. In other words, learn the skill of gratitude.

Today, I was introduced by storyteller Connie Regan-Blake to the work of Damaris Pierce of Asheville, NC, by way of Connie forwarding  my newsletter to Damaris. Damaris sent me a message to tell me a bit about her work. Check it out and note that one of Damaris' websites is all about gratitude and offers gratitude postcards you can send for this purpose. This networking of e-mails is one simple example of marketing. Connie and I are not close friends, but we're both tellers and know some of the same people and travel in the same circles. She thought my work might speak to Damaris, who immediately reached out to me and introduced herself. Now you, friends of Votre Vray, have a chance to meet Damaris and send her work to each other. A simple set of events that any artist or creative person can do to reach out to others.

So, in your day, spread some joy by reaching out to new people, thank them for what they do that speaks to you and your truth, and be thankful for what you have, see and hear. Each time you make this choice, the windows of opportunity can only open further, making success a future certainty.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fortune's Smile

John Dryden, poet, literary critic and playwright said,
"Fortune befriends the bold."

I say, "Those who show up, and keep showing up, get the gig." It is almost a certainty that you will not be star material when you begin your journey of following your truth, but if you do the work, and keep at it, regardless of critics, one day, you'll get the gig of your dreams. The odds are in your favor. Those who do not have the conviction of their dreams give up and people who are in a position to select you and your work will do so if they continually hear of your efforts. One way to hear of your efforts is by telling them. Sounds simple but most creative folks seems shy about sharing their successes.

The other day I sent out the monthly Votre Vray newsletter and the key question I asked was what issues keep the recipients up at night. The number one response was marketing and an interesting note upon that is many artists stated they felt they didn't have a budget to do it at all and wanted to barter with marketing professionals to receive help with promotion of their work.

What should marketing cost?
That depends upon how much you value the service. One of the coaches I interviewed charges $5000 for 90 days of one-on-one assistance to bring an artist into global notice. If you told a CEO of a business company that was your fee they'd laugh because it is too low for what their market realizes is an essential step. However, when artists hear the figure they hang their heads, say, "I cannot afford that," and give up. Why? Because they don't value the service and haven't learned to look at the possible ROI (Return on Investment) for the money.

Guerrilla Marketing (or What can you do with little to no budget?)
  • Get magnetic signs for your vehicle that promote your art
  • Hang a banner that promotes your show or event.
  • Give away T-shirts or gift bags that promote your work.
  • Align yourself with someone more high-profile who will talk about you and your work.
  • Join a networking organization.
  • Print post cards of your work -- much like a business card -- and send them to people you wish were buying from you as an introduction.
  • Do what Ariel Gore, author of Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead, did when she found out an out-of-town event had not promoted her appearance: stand on a street corner in a gorilla mask with a sign waving at people the day of your show!
  • Show up at open mics, mixers and other social events and meet the person in charge. Tell them who you are, what you do and ASK, "What can I do to help promote your work?" If people know you're willing to be a team player, you may wind up with a new promoter via good karma.
These are just the beginnings. The possibilities are endless. If you haven't read Gore's book (listed above), do so. Also read, Self-Promotion for the Creative Person by Lee Silber (who incidentally has a fantastic website that you can't afford NOT to browse and learn from). Then there are PR heroes who can help, like Peter Shankman, author of Can We Do That? and founder of Help a Reporter Out. (If you don't know HARO, the world doesn't know you -- and you probably weren't interviewed for Votre Vray Creative Women either. Seriously, Peter rocks!)

What does Mel do?
Well, more marketing, PR and networking that I do creating, until I have all my ducks in a row. Here are my top ten items that I do on a regular (daily or weekly) basis:
  1. My primary business focus is helping others follow their dreams (because in doing so, I get to follow mine and make good karma).
  2. I have several websites and this blog that are updated regularly because each update is one more thing someone who Googles my name will find out about my work and the work of those I aim to help.
  3. I am a member of several social media groups including Help a Reporter Out and I answer my own e-mail daily.
  4. I have a e-newsletter that goes out to friends of Votre Vray each month and always ask those I meet if I can add them to my newsletter list.
  5. I am a member of a local networking group and am always learning what they do to promote themselves, then coming home and implementing what I can from what they taught me.
  6. I am associated with other local high profile organizations including the Metropolitan Arts Council and the yW Empowerment Center, both who are supporting Shout: Kiss My Art! and are willing to e-mail, write and promote our co-ventures for free.
  7. I ask everyone I speak with, "Who do you know who can benefit from what I do because I really want to help promote living the creative life?"
  8. I give away T-shirts and gift bags in conjunction with other creative people who are marketing their services.
  9. I ask questions like, "May I promote your work for free on my blog?" and then do it.
  10. I am planning at least six to eight months in advance what my project deadlines are and share these with those who can most benefit from those details.
In other words, I don't create my art 40 hours a week and spend one marketing. One artist told me it should be at least a 60/40 split, with the higher concentration on marketing until you're reached your goals.

I will continue writing about marketing in future weeks, but until then, I've got some networking to do of my own.

Until then, keep creating!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mel Edwards Featured on KSVY Sonoma 91.3 FM (Again!)

Date: Sunday, November 23, 2008
Time: 5-6 p.m. Pacific time
: KSVY Sonoma 91.3 FM

Theme: Worlds of Imagination
Each teller creates a magic space where the stories take place, a world of imagination where anything can happen!

Featured Artists:

Jill Laméde (U.K.) - The Blue Feather
Jamie Crawford (U.K.) - Dauntless Little Joan
Mel Edwards (South Carolina) - The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage
Olive Hackett-Shaughnessy (California) - The Queen Bee
Dr. Mike Lockett (Illinois) - The Leprechaun's Gold

Here's how you do it (for now)
Go to
Click on
High or Low speed in the upper right-hand corner

You should be switched immediately into the program in progress.

Have a good listen!
Jackie B.
Story Lovers World (Program Host and Selector of Content)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One Step with Your Dream, Leaps for Your Future

Synergy seems to be the key to a creative life. If you follow your creative dreams you'll be continually handed opportunities to share that dream with others. Because I elected to attend a business lecture, I met several more women who I can share the Votre Vray mission with. Today's Women's Empowerment (at the yW) lunchtime lecture/workshop given Mike Cannon of PWC Group in Greenville, SC. The best part for me was that Mike gave all attendees a copy of his co-authored book The Selling Machine so the information he taught us can be referred to after we get home and new questions begin to arise. As an creative woman and entrepreneur, I found the information he provided to be exactly what I need to be able to take the next serious steps in bringing the work of Votre Vray and Shout: Kiss My Art to a larger audience. (That means more people will know the creative women I've had the pleasure of meeting this year, and hopefully, that name recognition will result in more business for everyone.)

One of the ladies who sat at my table is a woman who sells "uplifting note cards and large prints" of original photography. Her name is Kathryn A. Preston and her business is in Taylors, SC. If you're looking for a unique little way to share your love, admiration or respect, I believe you should be able to find something at RK Originals that meets your needs, and since she's a woman living the creative life, you know her heart is in what she does!

Another attendee invited me to a bi-monthly networking group that allows guests to give a one minute introductory "pitch" about who we are, what we do and what we desire for business opportunites. I'll be attending that luncheon this Friday.

A third woman shared that she is closing her business after 16 years in the industry and 10 years of owning her own company because she is ready for a new, exciting, creative adventure that allows her to follow her dreams. She's excited and surprised by the amount of energy that she has since she's made the choice to close the doors on her company.

Who have you met today because you were following your dream?

Or, if you haven't started your personal journey to living a life of your dreams, what opportunities did you miss out upon today because you haven't made that step?

Until next time,
keep creating!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Vicki Lawrence on Tour!

Did you grow up watching Carol Burnett and Friends?
Then you know and probably love Vicki Lawrence!
Go to her site to check out tour dates and locations.

Motherload Tour Set

Amy Wilson and Julie Kramer have teamed up for the one-woman off-Broadway show Mother Load staring Betsy Stover.

From their website:
"Mother Load
is the hilarious off-Broadway hit that mixes comedy with true confessions from the front lines of motherhood. Based on creator Amy Wilson's own experience as the mother of three children under five, this one-woman show has audiences lining up from coast to coast for a night of laughs about everything from prenatal yoga to preschool applications. From organic baby food to self-important lactation consultants to the perils of “mommy and me” classes, this laugh-out-loud show is an exposé of the fruitless and ever-challenging quest to be the "perfect" mom."

Jan 18 - Feb 2
Scottsdale, AZ: Scottsdale Performing Arts Center

Feb 11 – Feb 16
Richardson, TX: Eisemann Center

Mar 2 – Mar 9
Des Moines, IA: Civic Center

Mar 10 – Mar 15
Minneapolis, MN

Mar 22 – Mar 30
Huntsville, AL: Merrimack Hall

Apr 13 – Apr 15
Pittsfield, MA: The Colonial Theatre

Apr 13 – Apr 20
Springfield, MA: The Symphony Hall

May 4 – May 11
Schenectady, NY

May 11 – May 18
Tampa, FL: Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center

May 19
Melbourne, FL

May 20 – May 21
West Palm, FL: The Kravis Center

May 22 – May 25
Ft. Lauderdale, FL: The Parker Playhouse

Party with Tramp Skirts and The Admirals Club!

The other night my husband dragged me to Spartanburg (SC) to see a female band I never heard of before. They're called the Trampskirts and they just blew me away! The ladies are all business on the stage and just nice women on the floor after their set. Ashley, the lead singer has the whitest, most perfect teeth I've ever seen and can that woman scream! Lauren, guitarist -- far left in the picture -- also sings. I think she sounds like Janis Joplin, but being too young to have ever heard Joplin live, older rockers might have grounds to argue with me. The band is rounded out by Jacki on drums (third in image) and Jade (far right) on lead guitar. Their sweet merch girl even gave me a free bumper sticker.

The other great part of the evening was that I also got hear a set from The Admirals Club, and meet a few of the guys afterward as a bonus. (Hi, Ben! Hi, Marshall!) Both bands are are signed with Supernova and they can really play (not just all showmanship with no substance). If you want to hear some of their work check out their MySpace page. Otherwise, I've posted their tour image above so if they're coming to your area you can see them. If you like loud, hard, intense music, you won't want to miss them!

Losing Sleep Over Art?

Dear Votre Vray Friends,

What art issues keep you up at night?

I want to know.

Are they issues over your own creative process?
Do you think only of the sales of your work?
Is there a global or local issue that needs to come to the fore?

Tell me. I'll research what I can and get the word out. Maybe together we can help you find a way to sleep better at night.


Narrative Magazine Contest

Narrative Magazine's 2008 Fall Fiction Contest

First Prize of $3,000
Second Prize of $1,500, a
Third Prize of $750
...and ten finalists receiving $100 each.

Deadline: November 30th.

Enter Now.

Cheap, Good, Fast: Postcards for Artists

As of late, I've had quite a few people ask me who I use for online printing and I've been at a loss because I don't do the same type of printing that a visual artist might require. On Tuesday night, at Shout: Kiss My Art, a local artist gave me her card. It has four color images on both sides and also functions as her business card. I asked her who she uses and if she's satisfied with her service. She said, "I use They are cheap, good and fairly fast." Of course, do your own research and be an informed buyer, but this is one place you might want to check out if you're in the market for new postcards.

Use another vendor that you absolutely love? Then say so in a reply to this post and help out a fellow artist's search for a new printer!

Until next time,
keep creating!

Poetry and Prose Contests -- Call for Submissions

From time to time, I get updates on contests for literary artists and other folks. From now on, I'll be posting them here when they arrive. If you're running a contest that has been around a while, feel free to add me to your mailing list. Just be sure to put Votre Vray Artist Contest in the subject line to make sure it doesn't end up in my spam folder.
Below is a notification from John, also of
Both The Margaret Reid Poetry Prize and The Tom Howard Short Story, Essay & Prose Contest are now open for entries. For this coming year, the prize pool for each of these contests has been increased to $5,350 (including a First Prize of $2,000), yet entry fees remain pegged at $7 for every 25 lines for the Poetry Contest, and $15 for each short story or essay up to 5,000 words in length.

You'll find full details at respectively and Alternative sites are (for poetry) and

As these contests are sure to attract many hundreds of entries from around the world, I'll make three suggestions to help you enter the Winners' Circle:

1. Submit your entries early. The judges will have more time to really appreciate and evaluate your work.

2. Submit more than one entry. Don't pin all your hopes on just the one. The judges are only human, after all. They may not like the way you've treated your subject matter. In fact, they may not even find your subject appealing at all. For instance, it's no use sending the greatest baseball story ever written to some judge who doesn't know Babe Ruth from King Kong. However, we like baseball stories. Comic and humorous stories and essays too. Mystery, science fiction, romance and other genres are also most welcome! (And the same goes for poems!)

3. Take a look at some of the entries that have won prizes in previous contests. The latest anthology of prize-winning poetry is "Sailing in the Mist of Time". This beautifully printed, large format book actually contains 106 poems, including 50 major award winners, and usually retails for $16.50. Even the publisher is selling copies for this price. Currently, however, it is still "on special" at Amazon for only $9.95. I don't know how long this "special" will continue, but it's probably a good idea to use this link direct to Amazon and buy your copy right now. If you are one of the contributors (you'll find a link to the list of authors at ), here's a book that will make an ideal present for friends and relations.

Only $9.95 at Amazon: SAILING IN THE MIST OF TIME: Fifty Award-Winning Poems

The latest short story anthology is "Watching Time". This also can purchased from Amazon at this link: WATCHING TIME: Anthology of Prizewinning Essays & Short Stories

All my very best to you all!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Alice Walker to President-Elect Barack Obama

A friend, and former professor of mine sent this along to me via e-mail. It is an interesting set of ideas...even if Ms. Walker didn't write it. Hope you enjoy.



Nov. 5, 2008

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States . You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas . Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet . Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Meeting New Artists

How long has it been since you went out and actually met a new artist -- especially one who does work that is absolutely unrelated to what you do? Here in Greenville, SC, we had the auspicious opportunity to meet 106 different artists during Open Studio the first weekend of November this year. Nothing inspires creativity like seeing the work that others are doing. 

One artist I was unable to meet during Open Studios just happened to be able to attend Shout! Kiss My Art! this past Tuesday. The minute she showed me her business card I said in recognition, "I've seen your work at the MAC!" (MAC is our Metropolitan Arts Council.) She smiled and said, that indeed it was her work I'd seen and she was quite gracious while I excitedly called my husband over to meet her and show him her card. It was a moment of synergy that highlights what the Votre Vray Creative Women project is all about. 
My question to you is, since you've heard about, and maybe even participated in the project, how many other artist have you met? Did you look at each other's work and give compliments or encouragement where it was due? Or did you only look to see where your name came up and ignored everyone else? 
I honestly believe the greatest resource all people have is each other. That is what life is all about. We need mentors, inspiration, kind words and friendship to help us through our life's journey. Are you a helper or do you suck up all the resources without giving back?

Ways you can give to others:
  • Look at each other's work and give compliments.
  • Read about what other artists and creatives are up to and tell anyone you can about what excites you in your field.
  • Go to open studios, performances and sales and introduce yourself. Maybe you'll make a new friend, not just a network connection.
  • Read each others' blogs and websites and tell the creator what inspires you.
  • Buy each others' work.
These are just the beginning, but I want to strongly encourage you to talk to each other. Being creative is a lonely road sometimes. Your head is so full of what you're solving and re-solving that you cannot see all the beauty that surrounds you. The most beautiful resource we have is each other. 

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Thanks to Laura Blume of Skirt!

Here's a special shout out to Laura Blume, Greenville, SC, editor of Skirt ! magazine. Laura generously added Shout: Kiss My Art! to the November 11th calendar and gave Votre Vray a nod. Thank you, Laura!

If you have never read Skirt! Don't despair. There may be an edition in your hometown! Visit Skirt ! and find out today.

Gift Bags Set for Shout: KMA Night!

I'm happier than a kid at Christmas, and for a Jewish woman to say that, is something remarkable indeed. I just finished packing the gift bags for the attendees of Shout: Kiss My Art on November 11th, thanks largely to the generosity of the Votre Vray community and friends of Votre Vray.

The gift bags are all a little different, but the items that everyone gets are:
Three gift certificates (one each) from Creativity and Business Coaches: Sian Lindemann of Sian Design, Wendy Keilin of The Prosperous Artist, and Ariadne Moisiades's Sound Strategies Coaching and Consulting.

Also lucky participants may walk away with one of the limited copies of other books:

I've also tossed in some creative items from fancy fur yarn in wild colors to boxes of crayons, and books from other women I had on hand and thought people would love. 

Also, all attendees will walk away with a Shout: Kiss My Art T-shirt and information from the local yW's Women's Empowerment classes for entrepreneurs. What a night this will be!

In Greenville, SC and not signed up to attend? It is not too late. Just message Mel at MelEdwardsConnect (at) yahoo (dot) com and identify Nov 11th in the subject line. Even though there will only be 30 gift bags, there are some extra goodies on hand and seats for 40 attendees. The show will be at the Hughes Branch of the Greenville County Library (downtown) with free parking. The show is at 7 p.m. Tuesday night and lasts one hour. See you there!

Until then, 
keep creating!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

To Know TED is to love TED

Okay, so the headline may cause you to ask who on earth is TED but I admit, being the bugaboo that I can be, I was trying to mislead you a tad. TED is a what.
If you like online video but are sick of the drivel that you can come across on other sites, TED may be your new favorite video feed. A storytelling friend of mine, Tim Lowry, said, "Anybody who's anybody or ever been anybody worth knowing in their field, is on TED. " Then he warned me, TED is addictive.
I admit, I've watched beat box poets, physical science theorists, Eve Ensler, political leaders, authors and several people I'd never heard of before but now want to learn more about. I believe as an artist I can learn a great deal about the way this diverse group of people express themselves on topics that mean the most to them and their lives.
What I love about the TED conference is that there are no break-out groups. What one person sees at the conference, everyone sees. What a remarkable idea that the collective audience gets to walk away with all the same input but their own take on what was heard and seen!
Anyway, I know I'm being cryptic and not telling you much of anything about what TED is and is not. I'll leave that to those who built their site. Go to TED. It will amaze you...and the best part is, if you sign up as a free member you'll get a message in your inbox each week with at least three segments highlighted for your curiosity and viewing pleasure.
Have fun and know that I LOVE TED!