Jazz Moon- Joe Okonkwo’s Latest Book Captures the Essence of The Harlem Renaissance.

Those of you familiar with Harlem in New York have probably seen it’s transformation over recent years. Walking around the area, you can see a difference from how it was over a decade ago. The area is yet another example of the gentrification of urban environments with increased rents, an array of expensive condos and luxury apartments purchased by upwardly mobile city workers. Of course,  no area of the city should be exempt from developments or regeneration projects if they further the goal of more sustainable communities, benefiting society’s most disadvantaged. However, there is a legitimate concern for generations of local families being forced out of an area full of history, artistic expression and a sense of place. I’m very interested in the many views held by stakeholders and continue to observe how Harlem, as an historically and artistically rich area, benefits from change. This brings my focus to how Harlem is celebrated as an arts and cultural hub by contemporary writers.

Jazz Moon
Jazz Moon

There are numerous resources capturing the essence of the Harlem’s Renaissance, the cultural, social, and artistic explosion that took place  in the 1920s and 30s. The latest  is Joe Okonkwo’s novel Jazz Moon, set against the backdrop of the renaissance and glittering Jazz Age Paris. The novel will be published by Kensington Books this May.

David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife has called Jazz Moon “A passionate, alive, and original novel about love, race, and jazz in 1920s Harlem and Paris — a moving story of traveling far to find oneself.”

Jazz Moon’s  author Joe Okonkwo is a graduate of the University of Houston with a B.A. in theatre and an MFA in Creative Writing from City College of New York. Joe made his living in theatre for a number of years as an actor, stage manager, director, playwright, and youth theatre instructor.

His short stories have appeared in a variety of print and online venues including Promethean, Penumbra Literary Magazine, Cooper Street, Storychord, LGBTsr.org, Chelsea Station, Shotgun Honey, Best Gay Stories 2015, Rind Literary Magazine, Em Dash Literary Magazine, Best Gay Love Stories 2009, and Keep This Bag Away From Children. His short story “Cleo” has been nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize.

Continually fascinated by Harlem’s rich history, I was intrigued to quiz Joe on his perspective and his ability to capture the essence of this notable period of African American history in the book.

Q.What books have most influenced your life?

James Baldwin’s Another Country was a big influence. I read it in high school, but not as part of any curriculum. It was the first gay book I ever read. When I finished it, I was depressed because I had really entered into the world of that book and found other people like me and I didn’t want to leave.

Toni Morrison’s books have been a big part of my life, especially Beloved. Historians and sociologists talk about how black Americans continue to be scarred by the experience of slavery. That was certainly something I believed, but more in a theoretical sense. Then I read Beloved and I saw that it’s not just a theory. Morrison captures the personal side of slavery and how it destructive it was—not just on a grand scale, but on a very personal level. Slavery destroyed individuals. It was a destruction that doesn’t heal easily or quickly. It’s a destruction that filters down the generations. I think Beloved is the most powerful book I’ve ever read because it takes the theoretical and puts human faces on it.

Q .What was the hardest part of writing this book?

JO- Jazz Moon is a historical novel, so making sure I had my facts correct was probably the biggest challenge. Making sure the characters’ language and slang was in keeping with the times. I reference a lot of real songs in the book, so I had to make sure that they had actually been composed by the time Jazz Moon begins (1925). Making sure descriptions are historically accurate.

I think the major challenge for any writer of historical fiction is sure to blending the historical research in to the story in a seamless and creative way. You don’t want the novel to feel like a history book. It’s historical, but still needs to read like fiction. I get extraordinarily irritated when I read historical fiction that feels like I’m reading a chapter from a history book. I do want to be instructed, but I don’t want to feel like I’m being instructed.

Joe Okonkwo Photo by Theik Smith
Joe Okonkwo Photo by Theik Smith

Q. Tell us briefly about your forthcoming book Jazz Moon.

JO- It started as a short story in 2004. It’s set against the backdrop of the Harlem Renaissance and Jazz Age Paris. It’s part coming-out story, part love story, part personal and creative odyssey.

I love the Harlem Renaissance. If I had a time machine and could go back to any era, it would be the Harlem Renaissance. The 1920s were a very difficult time to be black in the United States, but it was a very culturally and politically fruitful time nonetheless. Literature. Art. Broadway. Jazz, of course. And it was during this period that the foundations of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s was laid. It was during the Harlem Renaissance that people—both white and black—realized that black was beautiful and, in terms of Broadway and the recording industry, marketable.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Harlem during that period (and something I focus on extensively in Jazz Moon) was gay life. It was mostly underground, but not completely. There were gay bars and an annual drag ball that was one of the social events of the year. There were places called “buffet flats,” which were the 1920s equivalent of sex clubs. You’d go to a house or an apartment and in each room were “performers” engaged in a different sexual activity. Could be hetero or homo. As an audience member, you selected the rooms and activities that piqued your interest the most, hence the “buffet.”

People were not pro-gay in the way we think of pro-gay in 2016, but they were certainly aware of the gays and mostly took the attitude of live and let live—as long as gays weren’t too open.

Q.Tell us about the book’s protagonists? Was there a real-life inspiration behind Ben Charles and his devoted wife Angeline?

JO- There was not a real-life inspiration behind Ben and Angeline. Jazz Moon is not based on real people. That said, there is absolutely a lot of me in many of the characters, especially Ben. I didn’t realize just how much of me was in these people until I was near the end of the process. Some of the characters are who I am. And some of the characters are who I want to be.

Q. What other real-life inspirations did you draw upon if any?

JO- Jazz Moon is, in part, a coming out story, and Ben suffers greatly during this process. I did draw on my own coming-out experience. I realized I was gay when I was thirteen, denied it like crazy till I was seventeen when I came out to myself, then “formally” came out at age twenty-one. While working on the novel, whenever I hit an emotional roadblock about Ben’s coming-out, I’d delve into my own experience, which was, at times, painful, lonely, and confusing.

Q. Much is being made of the gentrification of Harlem. Since 2000 particularly, the number of historically black, blue collar residents has fallen notably, especially in central Harlem. Whilst capturing the spirit of the renaissance, do you feel Jazz Moon contributes to forwarding the discussion of heritage, sustainable communities or a resistance to change?

JO- I don’t know about sustainable communities and resistance to change. But I would certainly like to think that Jazz Moon can start people thinking about heritage. As I’ve already mentioned, the Harlem Renaissance was a culturally and politically rich period. It’s a period that deserves study and recognition. We’re starting to see some recognition, I’m happy to say. Queen Latifah starred in a biopic about the great blues singer Bessie Smith last year. Audra McDonald is getting ready to open on Broadway in a version of Shuffle Along, which was produced in 1921 and was enormously important in the development of the black Broadway musical. I would be honored if Jazz Moon’s legacy is that it contributes to the continued rediscovery of the Harlem Renaissance.

Q. What are your future projects?

JO- I just finished a short story called “Picnic Street.” The first draft was based very closely on a childhood incident, but in subsequent drafts, the story veered pretty far from that incident. The story just started to write itself, which is exactly what you want: to give in to the story.

I have another short story that’s writing itself in my head right now. It may end up being a novella. I’m not sure yet. It involves politics and love and how (or if) people of differing ideologies can also have a successful relationship.

My next novel will again be set in the Harlem Renaissance, but this time it’s about a real person from the era: Gladys Bentley. She was a pianist and a blues singer and a drag king. She was known for wearing a white tux and white top hat and performing at a gay Harlem club called The Clam House. She would dirty up the lyrics of popular songs and flirt with women in the audience. She claimed to have married a white woman in an Atlantic City ceremony, but no one knows the identity of this woman. In the 1950s, Bentley gave an interview to Ebony magazine, renouncing her lesbianism and claiming that taking female hormones had “cured” her. She had an amazing, entrancing voice. She makes a cameo appearance in Jazz Moon and my protagonist is hypnotized by that voice.

There’s still so much to know and learn about the Harlem Renaissance. I’m not done with it yet.

Q. What advice would you give to young enthusiastic writers?

JO- READ. Read everything. Literary fiction. Genre fiction. Thrillers. Biographies. History. Read the news. Read politics. I’m a political junkie. I read up on political affairs every day and I’ve found that reading politics makes my fiction writing stronger. Political writers have to get to the point, get the facts across, and accomplish that in a way that’s engaging and keeps the reader reading. That’s valuable for a fiction writer. But to the main question: just read. Stephen King says that if you don’t have the time to read, then you don’t have the time or the tools to write.

I thank Joe for his interview and wish him well with his book. For further info please visit http://www.joeokonkwo.com

In Conversation With Kerys Nathan, Author of Phenomenal Woman

Phenomenal Woman
Phenomenal Woman

It’s always great to see people moving forward personally and professionally. One person I’ve come to admire and respect is Kerys Nathan. I’ve blogged about her before as an entertainment industry director, choreographer, vocal coach, performance coach and photographer. Kerys now launches her second motivational book entitled ‘Phenomenal Woman.’ The book is for every woman on a mission to achieve her dreams, working from the inside out and executing, as the title suggests, a ‘phenomenal’ journey of personal growth in all areas of life. Launching the book this month and preparing for several sold out workshops, I caught up with this particular phenomenal woman to ask her a few questions about the book and moving forward.

So what is a phenomenal woman?

A phenomenal woman to my mind is a woman who is in touch with her inner self and what she needs out of life. She is comfortable with herself and takes action towards achieving all that she desires. She does it in a classy, intelligent, memorable way. She is a positive human being, who not only looks after her own needs but sets out to help others. A phenomenal woman is therefore greatly beneficial to her family, community and the world around her.

This type of woman has a mindset that allows her to navigate the world with compassion, strength and an unbending willingness to try! She is someone who leads well by example and therefore inspires and motivates those that she comes into contact with – she is in harmony with herself and others. A phenomenal woman makes the best of herself inside and out because she truly values the unique person that she is and knows that her physical and emotional presence makes an impact; one that she will be remembered for. She therefore aims to make a good impression. A phenomenal woman also continuously works to improve in all areas of her life because she knows wholeheartedly that she is worth the commitment. She is someone who makes the best of her life no matter what the circumstances. The beautiful thing about that is we therefore all have the ability to be phenomenal.

Is this publication for a particular demographic background?

The book was primarily written with women in mind and is certainly aimed at that demographic, but many of the personal growth concepts and missions I put forward in the book are applicable to everyone. However, I have found that many men are also very interested in the female specific concepts I talk about in the book. J When I invited comment from the guys to put into the book, I was happy with the great response I received.

What motivated you to write this book?

I guess I am always motivated to write this type of book, because I love affirmations and personal growth concepts. I like to create meaning from circumstance and ‘paint it with words’ if you like. As I do with my poetry, the book is designed to move you to a deeper and therefore greater level of thinking. If you want to live a phenomenal life, it all starts with the mind and the vision you create for yourself so I look into what I call ‘vision control,’ mastering the mind and the concept of ‘knowledge is power,’ as my books starting point to achieving a better life. I also of course wanted to celebrate womanhood because I think we are fabulous after all. We are all phenomenal but sometimes we get lost in other things and forget that along the way.

As a woman of a certain age myself and, after a few seriously bad episodes in my own life, I got to thinking what would happen if I put myself first for a minute, celebrated my uniqueness and focused on how to be the best version of myself regardless of what was going on around me? As a motivational coach for the last 14 years, It seemed like a great idea and made sense to me so I took my own journey and discovered it was so much fun that I had to write a book about it. I enjoyed all my missions and still have a lovely long list of things I’d like to achieve next. Now, I can share my coaching ideas and stories with everyone because of the book. That is phenomenal and a great blessing.

Has your experience in the arts and entertainment industries made it easier to write this book?

Not particularly, I have always written. I feel therefore I write. I guess my being a performance coach to many artists and students over the years helped some but I only became a coach in the entertainment industry because I felt a deep need to help people become the absolute best versions of themselves. I love to motivate and guide people to reach every dream and goal. I continue to do this on a weekly basis with my students – it is something I am totally passionate about.

You pay reference to being fashionable, charming and creative. How important do you feel these qualities are to evolve as a person?

Creativity is the centre of my world and the place where everything I ever do evolves from. I write about imagination in the book and how when we go back to that place of creative thinking, that childlike imagination, we find that everything is possible. Creative thinking leads us to strategies that can improve our lives dramatically. Art truly is life, in any form, it allows us to breathe, feel, experience, express and therefore grow again and again. This is our personal evolution.

With regards to charm, I am a woman who believes that a little bit of old-fashioned charm is the key to accessing the things we want. It also attracts the right kind of people to us. I mean nobody wants to deal with or attract rude or un-charming people do they? Manners and respect are everything in my book and yes they certainly do get you places as I talk about in chapter 12. True ladies and gentleman have manners, and I think it’s time we went back to that place of old-fashioned values sometimes.

The idea of fashion in the book is a play on words i.e. ‘fashion yourself a life’ – meaning create the kind of life you want for you. My analogy is this: create your pattern, cut it out and then wear your creation with pride – create yourself a beautiful life! It is also a physical reference to a so many women having a passion for clothes and shoes. I love dressing well or creatively and am launching a fashion label next year, so I bring in the notion of dressing to give the right impression, as we all know people are often judged by what they choose to wear. So as I ask in the book, ‘what kind of woman are you and what kind of impression do you want to make? You will be remembered for it. First impressions often stick.

What is the House of Divinity?

The House of Divinity is the spiritual home; the place a person lives when they are at one with themselves. A divine space that centres who you are. I believe women are divine spiritually and physically and through continued personal growth and meditation, they will remain in the ‘House of divinity.’ Again, it is a play on words and a nod to all the divine fashion houses, i.e. ‘The House of Chanel/Dior.’ In this book, I am inviting all the ladies into ‘The House of Divinity’ – The home of the fabulously phenomenal woman.

Book titles connote many things to different people so what has been the reaction so far, particularly from feminists and men?

The reaction so far has been quite wonderful. Ladies have embraced the concept of the title and are ready to ‘phenomenalize’ along with me. The book includes everyone from the old-fashioned femme fatale to the modern day feminist (I sit in both of those camps) so I haven’t had any negative reactions from women at all. As for the men, well they are just either excited to see these phenomenal women or are already embracing them. Fabulous!

You’re set to write a follow up publication entitled ‘Phenomenal Man.’ Some men may question your motives and authority to write such a book. Can you explain your reasons for doing so?

I certainly do not believe that being a woman gives me less authority to write about men. I have dated, learned from and experienced men and feel that is authority enough to deliver the words of wisdom that can and will benefit their lives. I believe that if you feel and experience, you therefore have the right to express that in whatever artistic way you choose. I can also tell them what women ‘really’ want! J

My motive here with this second book, is purely to deliver the same service to men as I have for women. We as women look for phenomenal men in our lives and I am lucky enough to have been brought up by one. It is by my fathers’ and brothers’ behavior that I am able to judge the standard of behavior I wish to connect in a husband. I totally believe in the old-fashioned gentleman and still believe he exists, contrary to many women’s belief sadly.

Phenomenal Man will be written with two concepts in mind – firstly as a personal growth and motivational tool for men who want to improve and become the best versions of themselves and secondly, to deliver the kind of information guys want from a female perspective. I currently read a blog for women that is written by a man and I love it! I actually find it extremely useful, as it not only gives me motivation, but also clear guidance on how many guys actually think. To a woman this is invaluable. I hope to do the same for the guys in my book. And of course, like the first book, I am celebrating the phenomenal man – the gentleman. He too is worthy and that should be recognized.

Kerys Nathan
Kerys Nathan

What else should we expect from the pen of Kerys Nathan?

I am currently finishing one of my long overdue novels, titled ‘Raising Expectation,’ about motherhood, adoption and race. I will then be completing ‘Phenomenal Man.’ I am very excited about this book and am enjoying talking to so many phenomenal guys who have wonderful things to say. We can all learn from this. I will also be embarking on a photographic mission to create a visual book that celebrates phenomenal men and women from all walks of life. It’s a very exciting time.

-End-

I wish Kerys the very best with her new book and hope it enriches the lives of others who subscribe to its principles. For further information about Kerys or to purchase a copy of Phenomenal Woman please visit the following link.

 http://www.kerysnathan.co.uk/#/phenomenal-woman/4584888884

Artist Roopa Dudley Provides Strategic Guidance For Painters

Artist Roopa Dudley
Roopa Dudley

If you’re an artist, fresh out of college and starting your career, what is your strategy for success? It can be argued that the world is a smaller place due to the advances in technology. Now we are able to market ourselves online through websites, various social media platforms, join art collectives, not to mention seek formal representation by galleries showcasing the work of both talented graduates and seasoned practitioners.

I’ve had a number of conversations with creative professionals, from architects to fashion designers, on the subject of how important it is to be business minded as well as creative. I’ve participated in a number of discussions regarding how important goal setting, marketing and strategic planning is. I’ve also witnessed contrasting views regarding how best to use the aforementioned platforms of communication. Maryland based artist Roopa Dudley is one person who has made it her personal goal to provide guidance for painters looking to establish long and fruitful careers. She kindly shared some of her thoughts with me:

Can you tell me more about how you became an artist?

I always wanted to be a wizard – so I became a painter. It started out at a very early age. I made my first watercolour painting of “Lady” as in “Lady and the Tramp” when I was only 3 and a half years old while the rest of my family was glued to the television watching the popular show at the time “The Six Million Dollar Man”.  Once I discovered the joy of painting, I never stopped thereafter.

It of course helped that I had the genetic makeup for it; my father was an artist and my mother is quite artistic too. What pushed me to make it into a full time career was getting laid off from my regular 9 to 5 day job in early 2012. In order to deal with my anxiety attacks of being unemployed, I started painting much more frequently. The writing was on the wall for me when people started buying my paintings.

Painting of Frida Kahlo & Roopa
Painting of Frida Kahlo & Roopa

Is there particular artist that inspires you?

Oh, I have a whole list. Leonardo Da Vinci for his versatility, Rene Magritte for his thought provoking ideas and humor, Paul Gauguin for his intense colors and compositions. Tamara De Lempicka for her contemporary style and personality,Frida Kahlo for her courage and allegories. Salvador Dali for his technique and craftsmanship. M.C Escher for his draftsmanship and illusions.

I also interview many living artists for my Art Blog from all over the world whose work I find remarkable. Their personalities and contribution to society fills me up with all sorts of inspiration. So I do everything I can to support them and promote them and their work. As a matter of fact about six of them will be the superstars of my upcoming book, the next in the “Painter” series of three.

What’s your favourite medium and why?

Acrylics on canvas board. I like how the colours are so brilliant. Acrylics are easy to layer, environmentally friendly, don’t stink up my studio and are fast drying. Furthermore, they are versatile and permanent…unlike any other medium.  As a matter of fact, I will be one of the six featured artists in the upcoming ‘Eco-Friendly Artists’ issue in the Professional Artist Magazine because of my conscious choice of using environmentally friendly products.

You recently wrote the book ‘ A Strategic Painter: Mastermind Your Craft. ’ The title seems self-explanatory but can you explain what motivated you to write it?

I wrote the book “A Strategic Painter ” as a manual for painters. Years ago, when starting my career as an artist/painter, I was looking for a similar book but could not find one. For the past fifteen years I went though a journey, learnt the “tricks of the trade” through trial and error, with research and analysis.

I read a lot of books that danced around the subject of art but were mainly catered towards the business aspect of being an artist. It was mind-baffling experience like I was missing an important piece of the puzzle. One day, on my quest to find this artist manual, I came across a book “HOW TO SURVIVE & PROSPER AS AN ARTIST” by Caroll Michels which gave me the answer to the “why” factor as to “why there are not too many books written to guide painters?”  Here is what she wrote, “Some academics who discourage career advice at the college level believe that students should be sheltered from real-life survival issues while in school. But many fine-arts faculty members are opposed to career development courses for selfish and self-serving reasons: they are aware that today’s student artists will become tomorrow’s practicing artists, and eventually artists with whom they will compete for gallery, museum, and press attention, so there is much resistance to imparting any sort of information that could possibly give these future peers a career edge or jeopardize their own pecking order in the art world.” I figured that perhaps there are more people like me out there and if I can help them out and save them a few years, then that is a good thing. I am tired of hearing the phrase the “starving artist” and I sincerely believe on the contrary that painters have a lot to offer to the “starving world” that is devoid of fresh ideas and innovative concepts. In this digital age, the sky is the limit for any painter who wants to succeed.

How has it been received?

A Strategic Painter
A Strategic Painter

It is a slim book. With 30 images, it is less than 100 pages. It is meant for visual readers with possible ADD and a limited attention span so the chapters are short and to the point and keeps things interesting with all sorts of carefully selected chapter related visuals. No fluff at all. At some point I may include a couple more chapters, but for now I am quite satisfied with it.

A couple people who have read it (it just came out in the end of January 2014 so nobody has posted any reviews just yet – sigh). They have told me that it will be a great text book for college students who are taking painting classes as it gives them a clear picture as to how they can help themselves become a serious painter, how they can use and exploit the media to market and promote themselves. Also, for those who like myself, who were basically recreational artists and decided that they should take their passion to the next level.

However, on the flip side, I just got a review yesterday from someone who is a professional artist (I am connected to her through linkedin). Over all she liked the book however, she had a very specific problem with a chapter in the book dealing with art galleries vs. art studios (sales). I do understand where she is coming from. What she did not take into an account is that when one is starting out, it is one of the hardest things for an emerging artist to get a gallery representation. My point was to encourage artists just starting out that there is much more to being a professional than having a gallery representation and there is a way around it. So there you have it. You have both sides of the coin about my book.

This book is definitely not for everyone especially mid career artists who already have a gallery representation or the artists who are seeking major gallery representations or the artists who have a fragile mind. This is a total out of the box DIY approach fit only for those outliers who like to take charge of their own destiny.

With massive growth in social media and online marketing platforms how important is gallery representation for an artist?

Galleries will soon be becoming extinct and that is a fact. Unless they transform themselves into something other than what they are right now, digital revolution is going to annihilate them. Painters are becoming quite empowered with all kinds of knowledge available to them on the internet. Collectors are becoming educated when it comes to where to put their hard earned money towards and actually find it quite entertaining to visit artists in their studios and get to know them. Work of art is becoming more important than ever as collectors want originality and at an affordable price. A few well-reputed galleries would still survive despite the revolution I am sure, but gallery representation for an artist is now a thing of the past.

So what’s next in your career?

I usually have an annual Open Studio Exhibit around 4th of July weekend. I have been doing that religiously for the past three years. Majority of my art is sold during that exhibit. So I am preparing for that “Hot & Steamy” Open Studio Exhibit. Shoot me an email if you are in Maryland and would like to come. RoopaDudley@gmail.com

I have three more books to write. My second book, I plan on getting published next year. Writing a book is an exhausting experience (quite similar to pregnancy) but once all is done, and the product is out — voila!

The next three books are more art history as well as business related than my first one, which is in the “Art – Study & Teaching” genre.  They will be catered towards mid career painters and art enthusiasts. As you can see, if I live long enough, I have already planned out my whole career – after all I am ‘a strategic painter. I practice what I preach.

I wish Roopa continued success with her career. For further information or to contact Roopa please visit http://artiststories.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/roopa-dudley-strategic-painter-artist-stories-entry/

Artist Soyoung- Merging Literature with Art!

Artist Soyoung
Artist Soyoung

I’d like to introduce you to artist Soyoung. Soyoung was introduced to me by a mutual friend and I’ve been following her career ever since. Born in Seoul, she spent most of my childhood in Nairobi. She received a MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently lives in Madison, WI.  Soyoung briefly explains her latest project at Madison Central Public Library where she has literally merged her literature with art!

‘ When I was six years old, my family moved from Seoul, S. Korea, to Nairobi, Kenya.  It was then that I first learned the value of creating images and connecting with people through art.  When one loses the ability to communicate with words, images become so much more important/valuable.  And while that time in my life where verbal communication was almost nonexistent was short, it left an impression on me.  As with most artists, I have been drawing and painting and making things my whole life.  My goal always is to tell stories, whether it be through writing or art.

I am always trying to figure out different ways to merge the two forms, writing and making art.  I have found that the two often inspire each other.  I have often painted something with a particular character from a story in mind.  And that usually inspires new writing.  I also incorporate writing into my work.

But my latest project involved the two forms in a slightly different way.  One day, I was thinking about recycling my stacks of manuscripts that I’d accumulated over the years.  I had just written a short piece about a memory from growing up in Kenya that involved the ritual of afternoon tea (you can find the piece on my blog: https://madebyslk.squarespace.com/blog/2013/3/2/100-cups-of-tea), and that inspired me to make one hundred papier-mache teacups using the pages of my manuscripts.

100 Cups of tea exhibit
100 Cups of tea exhibit

It was gratifying to be able to use the actual paper to make something new that was also inspired by my writing.  I also made a conscious effort to install the teacups in public spaces where people do not normally expect to see art.  My first installation of the teacups was in the storefront of a chocolate shop, Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier.  From there, the teacups moved to a local mystery bookstore, Mystery To Me.  They are now hanging on the wall at the Madison Central Public Library. I’m not sure how the merging of writing and art will continue to evolve, but it is definitely something I love to do. ‘

Soyoung- Oct 2013

I wish her continued success with her work. For further information on Soyoung please visit her website  http://madebyslk.squarespace.com/

Featured Artist- Kerys Nathan

Design Balance
Design Balance

I often take comfort and motivation from creative professionals I know. Few are more creative or professional as Kerys Nathan who has featured in previous blog entries.

Kerys  is a writer, director, photographer, performance coach & motivational speaker.  She is a constantly evolving artist, morphing through different artistic disciplines.  Her photographic and design work is very arresting, articulating expression and capturing art in a bright, colourful and refreshing way. Her resume includes music video, logo design, album design as well as visual layouts, brochure and poster design.

The desire to visually stimulate, inspire and challenge is at the centre of all her photographic and design work. Passionate about imagery and the response it can provoke, she approaches every project with a focus that allows this to happen for both her and her clients. Whilst creating and designing projects for her own business she is establishing a client list that includes recording artists, performers, fashion labels, schools and corporate clients.

Kerys Nathan Photography
Kerys Nathan Photography

There are many  from corporate companies to freelance artists who could benefit from her services. For  further information on her photography and design services please visit

www.kerysnathan.co.uk/photography-design

www.kerysnathan.portfoliobox.net

‘Kanika’s Burdens’ by Jackie Joice

Kanika’s Burdens

A dear friend of mine has published her first book entitled ‘Kanika’s Burdens’  This is a supernatural thriller that centres on a young African American woman named Kanika Witherspoon. Kanika is a successful, college-educated woman with her own home. She’s devoted to watching over her grandmother, and she is looking for love. She also bears the emotional burden of a troubled family, but she has good friends to support her.

As Kanika struggles to reconcile her own religious beliefs with those of her grandmother, she is faced with supernatural phenomena that threaten to destroy her. Is the power of suggestion over the subconscious mind influential enough to manipulate how one sees and experiences their world?  Do fear, depression, and illness create a breeding ground for demonic possession? Are evil and the devil just myths used to rationalize the sinister actions of mankind? What happens when our greatest fears are internalized?

Kanika Witherspoon is an average young, black woman living in the city of Los Angeles, who finds herself forced to answer these unusual questions.

The book is available to purchase from Amazon

Conscious Living – By Kerys Nathan

It is always uplifting to see a creative mind at work. Moreover it’s inspirational to see the gift of talent, skill and selfless thought executed to help others. A very gifted friend, Kerys Nathan has just launched her book ‘Conscious Living’ aimed at helping everyone reach their full potential. Your support in buying the book will benefit many youngsters as 20% of proceeds are being donated to charities via  ‘The Legend Lives on foundation’  giving children the chance to become all that they can without the threat of restriction or abuse! The rest will be put towards the provision of a creative and personal development course for Kids in Care.

‘In order to create true genius, you have to live by the rhythm of your heart and not by the expectations of others!”…
………..Kerys Nathan

Conscious Living! is available to order from
www.kerysnathan.co.uk

Conscious Living