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Showing posts from 2013

Advent - Love

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I'll be taking a holiday after today's post until the New Year. This is the last week of Advent, and today I'll focus on love, typically associated with the fifth candle or Christ's candle.


Language is a funny thing. One of the beauties of the English language is its ability to accumulate other languages. I never learned why, or if other languages do the same thing as well, but the English language accepts nearly every possible language into its vernacular to the point that native speakers don't realize where the words originate. Words like algebra and algorithm both come from Arabic; mutton and crèche come from French; calico hails from India (a corruption of Calcutta supposedly), and still more.

For all our accumulation, one word still remains sadly under-developed, and that is the word love. Now, we have a variety of words to describe our level of love beginning with like and culminating with adore, but to describe the types of love, that is harder to do. The …

Just a little while longer

It's almost time to announce the release of Azure Lights. Yesterday, I had a sneak peek of the cover for the book! Once I have the photo, I'll post it both here and on my Facebook page (here) so check them out. And don't forget, you can like Bridgette ni Brian on Facebook for more updates.

Advent - Joy

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It's the third Sunday of Advent, and for many this can be a hard Sunday to celebrate because of loss or disappointment. How can we be joyful when there is so much hurt?


When I was little, I thought joy and happiness were the same thing. As I grew into my teen years, members of my church would decry that no, joy and happiness were not the same, but different: joy was constant; happiness came and went. We may not be happy about something, but we should always have joy.

Yeah. Right.

They are correct ... to a point: happiness is often dependent upon circumstances. Happiness is the state of feeling happy, and happy according to Merriam-Webster means "feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.; showing or causing feelings of pleasure and enjoyment; pleased or glad about a particular situation, event, etc."

Joy, on the other hand, is "a feeling of great happiness; a source or cause of great happiness; something or someone that gives joy to someone;…

Advent - Peace

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Peace. What a wonderful, powerful, and elusive word. Many of you, if you have read this blog for a little while, will realize I come from a conservative Christian background. This advent season is a first for me since I recently switched churches ... denominations, actually. I grew up Baptist, and have recently started attending a Free Methodist church in the local community, so this Advent season follows a different set of liturgical history.

Some of the reasons I switched churches had to do with this very issue of peace. Webster's Dictionary defines peace along three primary levels: no war (within a civil context), harmony within personal relationships, and freedom from oppressive thoughts.

Further definition of the word continues with tranquility or quiet. In this context, the word calm is used as a synonym such as the calm before the storm, or the sense of peace after a storm. For many of us, peace is elusive in the greater context of world events. Many call for peace, but …

Facing Fears

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I'm not exactly certain if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but I finally warped my loom. Back in August, I talked about facing fears (here). Take a chance to read the previous post which explains Helen and Elizabeth, my two floor looms.

On December 3, I started writing the third book in the Azure Maris series: Azure Depths. This book already has a tag line: The deeper you dive, the darker it grows. It is something I experience in my own life - the more by faith I try to walk, the darker my life becomes. Sometimes, it is dark enough that I truly wonder what I'm supposed to do.

Azure's world grows darker, oddly as her path becomes clearer. Writing the book has been something I've put off for a few months. Quite honestly, I did not ... and do not want to walk with path with Azure; I know what she faces, and I don't know if I want to face it yet.

I'm scared.

Writing is an art. As such, it brings in a great deal of personal emotion and experiences. Obviously n…

Advent - Hope

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Christmas is a time of mixed emotions for many individuals. Some of us are the crazy Christmas people who started decorating in July ... some of us lean to Scrooge who throughout most of the Christmas Carol, refuses to celebrate or even allow anyone else to celebrate. Most people fall somewhere between the two; I lean more to Scrooge because I prefer Christmas to be limited to the month of December (personally, that's stretching it a bit much, for me though).

One of the traditions that I do enjoy is Advent - those weeks before Christmas arrives. This week is the first week of Advent, and it celebrates Hope - something we all need.

Christmas, according to some, is a Christian over-taking of a pagan holiday. There seems to be some agreement that is the case, but most of our facts are lost to the early reaches of time. Suffice it to say Christmas falls around mid-winter when it is darkest outside, and when families gather together. Liturgically, it is the beginning of the Church'…

Book Signing Next Week

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If any of you are in the Medina NY area next week, come by and visit me. The book signing is a part of Medina's Christmas season celebration. I also have a fair on December 6, which I will post on Monday, once I learn the times.

Happy Holidays

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah! I hope everyone has a wonderful day celebrating with their families or friends. This is the first Thanksgiving with my sister home from Afghanistan, so I know there are many out there who have loved ones estranged, far away, gone, or otherwise unable to be home for Thanksgiving or Hanukkah. I offer a prayer for those who have loved ones away: while this time may be a time of sorrow, I ask the Lord of Lights that He provide you with peace in the dark times; joy in the sorrow; and hope for the season.

I hope that each of you take the time to reflect on the reasons for the season: the thankfulness of Thanksgiving; the re-dedication and hope of Hanukkah; and the hope that we always find in the darkness if we look.

Quotes

Over the summer I began a Christianity and the Arts Series. This post continues along in the same vein.

Why do we love quotes? What is it about what other people have said that connects with us; that says what we wish we could say? We purchase cards for each other because they say what we wish we could say.

There are quotes that we use to motivate ourselves:
"All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable; those that are movable, and those that move." Arabic proverb
There are quotes that inspire us:
"Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become." C.S. Lewis
Quotes challenge us:
"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." Albert Einstein
We keep quotes handy in journals, on the computer, on soci…

Sympathy Pains

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Most every woman who has ever been pregnant understands the concept of sympathy pains whether from a husband or sometimes a family member. My mom jokes that her nephew (my second eldest cousin) experienced sympathy pains for Mom while she was pregnant with me. Sometimes if we or a loved one is in pain, all we want to do is have the pain taken away, but it isn't always the case. Often, we simply require a warm cup of tea to settle ourselves, and proceed.


It's interesting to me, how much the arts depend upon sympathy pains - those times that bring artists together to support one another. The New Testament calls it bearing one another's burdens, and some churches do this well; some not so well when considering artists among them.

Within the arts community, being a solitary artist is impossible so far as how long it can be sustained. By limiting our interactions from people and places, we limit impute into our creativity as well as the sharpening from others.

In college, one…

Notepad Covers

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I mentioned on Facebook last week that I was working on a new project. For lack of a better title, I call them Notepad Covers.

The initial idea came from a bookstore owner in Albion NY. Carolyn, the owner of Bindings Bookstore had one that she used and wanted some more like it. I took some notes, and created my own version of it.


These covers come with a pen and a small notepad (5" x 7") inside. So far, I have only used fabric for the covers, but since I have a collection of handwoven material, I can utilize those fabrics as well.


To create the covers, the front of the cover is a hodge-podge of a fabrics that I have. Some covers are more eclectic while some are more mundane. The interior is created using only one piece of fabric. Sandwich between the two layers is cotton batting to provide a little weight to the object. Each one of the covers comes with a button and a loop of fabric to close it. As I progress with the styles, I will probably change the closure style, but f…

From Lancaster to Niagara

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I don't know about any of you, but I enjoy traveling - absolutely love seeing new places, meeting people, and generally just enjoying myself. Usually, I plan all the places I want to visit before I arrive at a location, but always I find something new.


Earlier this week, I started a new blog called From Lancaster to Niagara (see here) to record the journeys I have learning about my two hometowns. All right, I admit, I am from neither location specifically, but I am from both regions: the Greater Niagara Region which includes my home county of Genesee, and the greater Pennsylvania Dutch Country that includes my portion of Chester County, PA.

The blog will give you a local's perspective on the two regions, and will most decidedly take you out of the normal locations. After all, there's more to Niagara than the Falls, and more to Lancaster than bonnets and buggies. Both locations are full of history from Early American (Lancaster was the capital of the United States) to …

Sometimes, you just find a song

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People ask where the ideas for Azure Maris and others come from when I tell them I'm a writer. Sometimes, I find or hear a story and it intrigues me; sometimes, I attend church, and the idea comes.

At church, we've been singing the following song: Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United. I have a video of the song below, but take a moment to listen to it. I've thought many times how much the lyrics remind me both of Azure Maris, and my own walk of faith right now.

I know that walking by faith is never easy, and often, the deeper I dive into faith, the darker my walk becomes. In the darkest spots, I must remind myself that I trust God, no matter what happens. It isn't easy, but it's always worth it.

I hope you enjoy the song.

Fiction Friday Sale - Azure Maris

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Hey, just thought I'd let everyone know that the e-book of Azure Maris is on sale for $2.99 as part of Ambassador-International's Fiction Friday Sale.

The sale price is good through the weekend as well, but on Monday, the price goes back up to normal.

If you're looking for something to read on the plane, train or however you might be traveling for the holidays, purchase the e-book.

On a side-note, I'm working on some new items for the holiday season gift-giving. I'll have some up on my Etsy store on Monday.

Remember that all the items on the Etsy site are ready to ship for your holiday gifts. I can ship them directly to the recipient or to you.


Home Again

As I said in the last post, I took a trip, and now I am home again. It was a good trip that provided great ideas for writing and my arts, although it was primarily geared towards social entrepreneurship. Thankfully, the trip was uneventful until Mom and I reached Ashtabula OH where we found rain ... and snow.

Thankfully, it took until early November before I experienced my first snowfall of the season, but it's now here ... fun.

Anyway, it's good to be home and safe.

Road Trip!

Mom and I are traveling out to Texas this week for a meeting. This post will probably be the only post this week, although, I will continue to update my Facebook page. Like me on Facebook (Bridgette ní Brian), and you'll be able to stay-up-to-date with the latest news on Azure Lights and Shamrocks of Stone.

The latest updates so far: We have finished editing, and are starting towards the cover designs.



Oh the Weather Outside Is ...

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The Genesee-Orleans Regional Art Council in Batavia NY is having an art show entitled, "Oh the Weather Outside Is ...", and I submitted two wall-hangings into the show.

The first, Madras Christmas uses cotton for the warp in a ripsmatta pattern. The weft includes the cotton thread used for the lime green selvedge yarn and a sea-blue sari ribbon. The hanging measures 10.5" by 20"
The second hanging entitled, Winter Mist is woven from chenille and accented with beads. It measures 15" by 19.5", but feels heavier due to the beads on the fringe at the bottom. For this hanging, I painted the hanging rod silver and added a chain to support the hanging.



All in all, I think both hangings look well.


Writer's Toolbox - Opened and Closed

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How many? That question is one that writer's face often: How many words? How many characters? How many view points? How many clues? How many books?



When I first started writing back in the mid-nineties, I wrote books as the idea struck. Most of the time, I had one book, and that was all. The older I became, the more I realized that my favorite books were part of a series, and I decided to write a series.

Yeah - that went over easy.

Writing a series, no matter how much one loves the characters is not an easy task to accomplish. One of the hardest aspects about writing a series is keeping the characters interesting and engaging, especially what I would term open series. Open series are those with no logical ending. These are the series that have no particular dictates placed upon them, and usually involve mystery series.

A closed series, on the other hand, are series with a defined ending. The ending might be defined through a common writing practice such as the fantasy or romantic…

Number Games

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I admit that I am a science fan; in fact, had it not been for my love of writing, I probably would have gone into science as a degree ... that, and my tenth grade Biology teacher completely freaked me out when she dissected dead animals with her bare hands. I'm also slightly germ phobic.

In college, I learned one valuable lesson: art has science, and science has art. This is part of the reason that one of a university's colleges is the College of Arts and Sciences. Creating pottery glazes requires knowledge of chemical reactions; weaving has a mathematical grid underlying its structure and beauty. Part of what makes overshot patterns so amazing is the illusion of circles on a square plane. Then there are fractals which are just plain cool. Don't tell me that there isn't art in science.

For weaving, numbers and design always work together to create something beautiful. For example: Fibonacci numbers: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 etc. is seen in the image below:

The sequence is b…

Making the Most

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It's late October, and the holiday season is just around the corner. Here in Western New York, the weather forecast predicts snow possible and below average temperatures definite. The leaves remain on the trees, but many are falling away. It's windy, cold, and the scent of moisture fills the air.

It's autumn.

This is my favorite season; October is my favorite month. Helps that my birthday is at the beginning of the month, but I love the colors of fall and the changing weather. One thing that autumn reminds me to do is make the most of what I have. In ages past, humanity understood the need to preserve and make do with little. Now in our world where we Northerners can purchase oranges in December, we have lost that knowledge.

Many articles currently focus on parents with children because children remind us that we can do with little. Children are not the only ways to remember how to make do with little. Artisans understand this necessity since we are forced to live with l…

In This Life, You Will Have Trials

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The Christian walk is not normally an easy path to take. It was never meant to be, but there are days in which it is harder than it should be. Interestingly, it always seems to follow around conversation with friends and family or messages at church.

Case in point: Sunday, the church I began attending (I'm in the process of switching churches) talked about trials in life, and how we should respond. Trials, those pesky, unexpected events that threaten to upset our faith, exist in the world.

Sometimes, they come to test our commitment.

The photo above was taken earlier this year at a friend's house. She lives near a small creek, but if it rains hard enough, and long enough, that creek is one of the first to flood. Events come into our lives where we need to choose to allow them to frustrate us or allow them to inspire us.

This morning, I planned to take two copies of Azure Maris to bookstores for up-coming book signings (already have two lined up for December and March, by the…

Pursuing God's Dream

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I grew up in a fairly conservative Protestant world where we went to church twice on Sundays, once on Wednesday and whenever the church doors were open. My dad lead the high school youth group; my mom led the lower elementary youth group (called King's Kids). For those who know of AWANAS, Patch the Pirate Club or some other entity, I never heard of them until I turned 12 when I moved from Pennsylvania to New York.

Throughout my childhood, I was told that 'God has a plan for your life. Find it, and pursue it'. I realized that it wasn't necessarily a magic wand or some great elusive quest to find the plan, but something that I was to pursue, follow, evaluate and execute. I knew my strengths and my likes, so I pursued those paths. After all - who wants to work at a job they don't like and are unqualified for if she can do something that she loves and is gifted to do?

 My personal belief is that God gives each of His followers a dream, but He doesn't leave the fol…

Book Review

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So, it's Tuesday, and I'm finally posting the first of the month review! This month's book, Islamic Art in Context by Robert Irwin, covers the variety of topics involved in a cultural art overview.

The book begins with a general background of Islam (for those who do not know the history or culture connected to the religion). From there, the author proceeds into general topics: architecture, how artists were viewed, literary topics and guilds.

What I have found interesting so far, is the response to the thought that Muslims are forbidden to create human images in their artwork. This belief has been passed around for some time, no doubt reinforced with the Taliban's destruction of the Buddha statues in 2001.



The photograph above is from the copy of the book that I borrowed from my library. It provides a better image of the cover.  In this image, there are clearly human figures represented. The back attributes the lower image as the "parade of the Ottoman guild of…

End of a Crazy Week

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I will sleep well tonight ... when I finally make it to bed. Between my time at the Artisans of North Street Shop in Batavia NY and working on the edits for Shamrocks of Stone, it's been a fairly busy week. Add into that helping Mom paint her rental property, developing concepts for the winter season, watching my cousin's children, and a marketing meeting for the Artisans, it's been a slightly crazy week.



One of the hardest elements for me to develop are items that sell at the local fairs. While I enjoy weaving and bookbinding, creating items that people will purchase proves to be difficult. Many people who travel past my tables or booth comment about how much they like the items or how well I create the items, but spend their money elsewhere.

I have yet to decide if it is my items do not interest the local audience, or if I need to change the items I create. Not many journal anymore, which is a sad commentary. Personally, journals are a way that we can slow down and disc…

Book Updates

Just a quick update about Azure Lights and Shamrocks of Stone. The good news: Azure Lights' second edit has been sent back to the publisher, so that major portion is done. Yeah!

Shamrocks of Stone, the first book of my second series, is currently in the first edit stage. I have the written edits done, and I am adding the changes to the computer. Earlier this week, I had troubles with the computer, but it seems to be working now.

Why doesn't it always seem that when I need to finish a book, the computer has troubles?

New Journals for Sale

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Just thought I'd show you the two journals for sale at my Etsy shop, Bridgette ní Brian. First is the Lime Medallion Journal:


This journal is priced at $12. It is 5.5 inches wide and 7.25 inches tall.
Second, is the Orange Paisley Journal which is the same price and size as the Lime Medallion Journal.

If you're looking for something smaller, tomorrow I will have a smaller version of the Orange Paisley Journal for sale as well.

Saturday Events

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Hope any of you in the Batavia NY area will stop by and visit. Batavia is half-way between Rochester and the Buffalo/Niagara Falls area. Take the Thruway to the Batavia exit, turn left to go into Batavia. At the second traffic light turn left to head towards downtown Batavia. Follow Route 5 (Main Street). At the fifth traffic light (Harvester Ave) turn right. You should see signs for the Artisan Market. You'll see a sign for Batavia's Original Pizza place, turn there.

If you're coming from Route 63, there will be signs out for the market on 63 as well.

Hope to see you there.

Disappointments

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Over the weekend, I was at a little fair called Appleumpkin in a smaller town called Wyoming NY. The previous two weeks I talked about changing culture both a general overview since it is not only the artists who change culture, and also how we change culture from within. One of the side affects of changing culture, or at least attempting to change culture, is disappointment.



Throwing yourself out into the public realm is setting out a welcome mat for friends, or a bulls-eye for enemies. Not all disappointments come from what people say or don't say; sometimes, and I would argue most often, comes from the breaking of expectations. At the end of the day, you feel like your dreams, expectations and hopes are nothing more than rubble like the photograph above. Tears from sorrow and from anger are shed, but the important thing is to take another step, whatever that step might be.

Currently, I'm in that spot: tears are shed, and I seek the next step to take. Is it to entirely thr…

Changing a Culture Within

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How do you influence the culture around you? I admit, I have purchased items, watched movies and listened to music simply because it is Christian. Why? Because I thought that supporting fellow Christians was the best thing to do, or because I knew that Christian fill-in-the-blank would be morally uplifting, or because I thought I could help change culture. Sometimes, I didn't want to think about what I read, heard, watched or purchased.


Culture reflects the values that people hold dear; art both reflects and develops those values. Consider the impact that Uncle Tom's Cabin had on the American population before the American Civil War. The book both reflected the Abolitionist movement's program as well as inspired others to do more. Charles Dickens and William Hogarth also influenced their culture through novels and paintings.

Within the conservative Christian culture I grew up around, there are two battles taking place: first, the desire to see the culture changed; second,…

Random Updates

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This post is just going to be a simple update since I've had several things happen this week. Nothing major - no life-altering events, just random ones.

I finished my first all wool warp. Random, yes, but it was something that I have wanted to weave for awhile. The two photos below show the pattern and a close-up of the first sample. Eventually, I continued the pattern throughout the warp, but I made two more samples before that. The first sample followed the pattern with a slight change in threading. Originally, I had a log cabin weave in one portion with 1 purple 1 white. I changed it to 1 white 1 purple thereby creating an interesting secondary pattern at the corners surrounding the central purple block.



Yesterday, I received the edited version of Shamrocks of Stone my first adult historical mystery. It's due out in March. The main character, Orfhlait  ní Sorcer (pronounced OR la nee SOR ca) is a fifteenth century Irish woman forced into the convent against her will. Like …

Little Bits of Fabric

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What to do when the fabric doesn't work? Or worse, you can't part with it?! I have an art fair coming up the last weekend of September, so yesterday I worked on organizing items for the fair to see what I needed and/or could take. I had a lone piece of fabric left over from my sari ribbon experiment, but didn't know what to do with it.

Besides, it was just too pretty to give away.


I did the only logical thing and made it into a wall-hanging to enjoy whenever I looked at it. Granted, I have the same material in a purse, but that isn't an everyday enjoyment. Currently, I use another purse. Wall-hangings, however, can be put on a wall and enjoyed day-in and day-out. I showed the hanging to my mom yesterday, but she remained unimpressed. Mom isn't much for the geometric designs like I am. The following photographs are closer shots of each portion of the hanging beginning with the top:
I used a 1/2 inch dowel for support the hanging. It's a portion of the same woo…