Thursday, August 29, 2013

An Interview With the Artist

Today, I present to you an interview with the amazing Jill Hejl, the illustrator of my book Haiku Horror Stories.

CB:  Thank you for letting me interview you! You know I've been following your progress in your 365
challenge. How do you keep yourself on-task to art each day?

JH:  Well, it's hard! It's a commitment that I made to myself that I wanted to honor, but probably announcing it publicly made the possibility of letting a day slide by impossible! ha! I think to myself, you HAVE to get it done! The weekends aren't as bad, but during the week when I work full-time, and don't get a chance
to start until 8 p.m. or later, it is sheer force of will that says, I've GOT to go paint or draw a picture.

CB:  Do you remember the first piece of art you sold? What feelings and thoughts were going on inside
your head and heart?

JH:  I think the first large sale I had was a huge, oversized planter and it's accompanying dish that I painted and sold at a local gift shop, Sasso's, in the late 90's. I remember feeling giddy and excited doing it, because I secretly only wanted to be an artist, and here I was actually doing just that--making something up in my head and getting paid for its creation. It's really something having a dream start to break out of its bud and come true. You don't quite believe it at first.

CB:  What is your biggest fear you have about your art?

JH:  Hmm. Biggest fear...I suppose you worry that you will run out of ideas. I sometimes feel that way when I'm not feeling well. I'll say to my husband, that's it, there's nothing left. He reassures me it's because I'm sick and the ideas will return. Thankfully they always have. It's strange as well, because I will have that feeling even when I have notebooks and piles of post-it notes lying around with all sorts of ideas on them, but they don't "strike me" at the time--I can't bring them to fruition if I don't feel them. It's kind of like having a
closet full of clothes, but feeling like you have nothing to wear.

CB:  You talk about food on your blog quite often. What is your dream meal including one appetizer, one
entree, and one dessert?

JH:  Oh, that's tough, because I am a big foodie. Appetizer--I'm a big ceviche fan, so either that or a delicious seafood bouillabaisse EntrĂ©e--I had some of the most phenomenal pork belly tacos not long ago--I feel like I could have eaten a zillion of those--with cilantro, thinly sliced red onion, avocado chunks, and lime juice--dripping in deliciousness. For dessert even though gluten bothers me, I'd go with some French pastry--flaky layers filled with hazelnut cream or frangipane (almond paste). Yum. There's a dessert at the famous Angelina's in Paris called a Mont Blanc. It's filled with chestnut cream. Now THAT would be a high contender, I'm sure.

CB:  Where would you be enjoying this meal and with what three people?

JH:  Well, preferably Paris or sitting on some ocean beach. You never said if the people currently had to be alive, so I'll go with my 3 idols, Julia Child, Benjamin Franklin, and Al Pacino. After all, part of what makes a meal delicious is the company and conversation. (-;

CB:  Where can people buy or commission your work?

JH:  People can contact me via Facebook, through my blog,, or through email at

CB:  What is your favorite “oddball” moment from the shows you've done?

JH:  I'd have to say it was last year when somehow my tent was positioned on a nest of cicada killers! I was fighting those huge babies off all day! Wait, I think I was going to do a painting of that. Thanks for helping me remember that crazy experience! ha!

CB:  If you could give a newbie artist one piece of advice, what would it be?

JH:  Believe it yourself. I mean REALLY believe in yourself and listen to your own voice. Sometimes you'll sit there and watch others sell tons of stuff or get tons of compliments or Facebook "likes" while you get a fraction of that. It can hurt, but you have to keep remembering that it doesn't matter. In other words, don't worry about being popular. If you're a true artist, it's far more important to honor the nature of your own talent.

CB:  What’s the greatest compliment anyone has given you about your artwork?

JH:  That it's unique and that it makes them think and/or makes them happy. That's a great trifecta! (-:

Jill has also participated in many of the projects from the Brooklyn Art Library.  You can look through some of her digitized work here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Time Slips Away Like a...Something or Other

Oh August, you went by so quickly.  My day job sapped quite a bit of my time, energy, and enthusiasm but I'm back now and have my feet planted on the floor and my head is in writer mode. Except for when I have to be in crafter mode.  Or teacher mode. 

Let's see what's new, I've signed up for a festival and will be selling my jewelry along with some neato aluminum or copper wall art.  I'm even venturing into the realm of hair accessories, so that should be interesting.  This is one of the pendants I'll be selling.  (if I can bear to part with it)

I was a very good girl and turned my contract and class handouts in incredibly early and I even have been putting together the kits for the steampunk-inspired necklace class I'm teaching in November.  Yes.  November.  Can I NaNoWriMo and teach a class in November?  I hope so.  Every year, I declare that I will win and this year is no exception.  I want to say "I finished!"

The collection of horror stories I'm self-pubbing is coming along nicely and I'm thinking it should be available just in time for Halloween.  (because I don't have enough to do) 

I should be posting an interview here soon and, as promised, a free story.  Speaking of stories, I had a request for a rewrite of a flash piece but unfortunately, it got rejected.  My skin is getting thicker (ewww!) because it didn't hurt my feelings too much and I got so much good advice and ideas out of the critiques.  I'll let the story mellow while I digest all of the readers' comments and make it into a longer piece.  Making lemonade out of life's lemons.  That's what we've gotta do as writers.  (just don't squirt yourself in the eye!)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hey blog, I'm back!

Well, last we spoke, I was taking all of July off to get stuff done and I'm pretty proud of how well I did.  Yes, Facebook lured me back as did Twitter, but I wasn't spending every waking moment posting or scrolling, so hey, that's progress.  Several of my "must-do" items did get completed and I've begun one that's been lingering for years on a shelf...the dreaded pile of story ideas scrawled on a napkin, the first page of a genius story that has been abandoned to time and forgetfulness, handwritten stories complete but in need of a red pen.  Who knew I had so much backlog?  (and that so much of that backlog was utter crap?)

July was a sad, strange, entertaining month.  I lost a couple family members, discovered strange health issues, and I ended the month going full Indiana Jones into the dense woods and not finding a lost military fort, but a mess of poison ivy.  *cue the violins*  And now in August, I sit with steroid-induced "moon face," restless brain, and an insatiable appetite.  Next time I decide to relive dreams of discovery, I'll wear a hazmat suit and spray the entire area with weed killer beforehand.  

The hubby and I took a weekend trip to Michigan to enjoy the beach and blueberries.  In addition to the sunburn my poison ivy got, I was nearly taken out by a 9 foot wave.  I'm not a strong swimmer, nay, barely a swimmer at all, so to experience any type of wave in open water was horrific.  I survived, gasped and sputtered on lake water, but it was fun and a bit exhilarating.  So yay, I was brave and I can't wait to do it again.  Maybe next year I'll try boogie boarding. 

Right now I'm trying to slow my brain down enough to hammer out a rewrite to a short I subbed.  Kind reader comments have got me feeling great, but terrified that I might screw the entire thing up.  But, I'm brave, so I will shamble on. 

So that's what's been going on while I've been silent.  What's in store for the rest of August?  An interview, a free story for you, a lot of writing, and some silliness.  It is good to be home!