Thursday, May 30, 2013


It's really cool to have children read my books and really exciting when they tell me that they like them! Children are very honest and very critical of the things they need read ... so getting a thumbs up from a child is always flattering. But ... when a bunch of fourth graders do a takeoff of one of your books it  is MOST FLATTERING. That is exactly what children in Mrs. Whitstone's 4th grade class did at the Manara Academy. I was in their class one day back near the beginning of school. At morning meeting time I told them a little about myself and revealed that I was an author .... I showed them my books and it just so happened that they were learning about Author's Purpose in English/Writing so I talked to them about my purpose in writing my books. I asked them if they would like me to read one, they said YES and they then chose Went Out To Get a Donut - Came Home With a Muffin. I did "warn" them that this book was written for a younger crowd--but they wanted to hear it! At the time, they really seemed to enjoy it and did agree that littler kids would enjoy it -- but they said it was fun to just sit and hear a SILLY story! Later that week they were reading ... actually most were SINGING the book to their Kinder book buddies and I would often hear them singing the tune in the hallways! Mrs. Whitstone wanted the children to write and publish a book during the year and MANY of them took my book idea and put a twist on it! I got to talk to a few of the children about their books and the publishing process for their books .... here's what they had to say!

Malak wrote -- More Than One (which is a takeoff of Went Out To Get a Donut)
                He said that after hearing me read the book I wrote, he was inspired to write a story. He never thought he could write a book -- but he wanted to give it a try.

Makador wrote -- Gael's Adventure (takeoff of Went Out To Get a Donut)
                Makador used his reading Buddy Gael as the main character and like the Muffin book, he asked Gael what his favorite foods were and places he'd like to visit. So Gael went on an adventure where he ended up at the Statue of Liberty! Makador loved using the computer to create his story.

Denneel wrote -- Yummy Cookies (takeoff of Went Out To Get a Donut)
                Deneel also made his main character his reading Budding--Mikaeel (but he used his nickname-Mickey). Denneel also said that hearing me read my book was very inspirational--he loved the use of repetition so that Kindergarten students could pick up on the words and it would make them successful readers.
 Another popular takeoff book was Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr / Eric Carle
Saabiriin wrote -- Amina, Amina What Do You See?
                Saabiriin stated that this one was fun and easy to write. Her original reading Buddy left the school so she used many things her original reading Buddy liked and then added Amina (her new reading Buddy) into the story. She said it was fun to write and Amina likes the original story so she hopes she likes the one she wrote for her.

Ayah wrote--Pizza, Pizza-What Do You See?
She chose the Brown Bear book as a takeoff, because it was one of her favorites in Kindergarten. She said it was fun to use different foods through the book and at the end added in her reading Buddy, the teachers and the class!
Dorian wrote -- My Ten Little Princesses
                A Brown Bear takeoff, Dorian chose this one because the repetition for Kindergarten makes it easy for them to read. She used a princess theme because her reading Buddy, Sarah totally loves princesses!!!  So she knows Sarah will enjoy reading this book!

Raima wrote -- Fruit Friends
                Raima is a spectacular illustrator and wrote an original piece for her reading Buddy. She chose fruit for her story because her reading Buddy, Lyba loves eating fruit! She was inspired to write her own story-she said it was fun to do that.


Denneel talked to me about the whole process of publishing a book in 4th grade.

                He could not believe how much work it was! He didn't realize that a children's book was hard work. Sometimes they would struggle to come up with words or to make rhymes and the editing process took FOREVER! They had many drafts and re-writes which were first done by hand. Once they felt really confident they had a good copy, they typed their work onto the computer. They then printed out the words. Worked on their Title Page and Dedication. Another tough thing to do was folding the paper correctly. They cut the printed words up and placed them on the pages to match their illustrations, which were drawn in pencil. The whole book was then photocopied and they then colored over the photocopied pictures ... this gave the book a really cool affect. They used crayons and colored pencils. Finally they laminated their book covers (they used file folders for the book covers) and stapled them all together. He said the process was rewarding and they are all excited to present the books to their reading Buddies before the end of school -- Mrs. Whitstone made a photocopy of their books for them to keep!   
                 I'm very proud of all these budding AUTHORS and wish them much luck with their writing and illustrating careers ... and hope their reading Buddies enjoyed the books as much as I did!

One of our Budding Authors also had great news while I was visiting their class on Wednesday getting information and pictures for this post -- she found out she won FIRST PLACE in 4th grade for her Science Fair Project! Congrats Dorian!!!  I'm very proud of you!!!!!!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Morning Tradition

While Ashley was growing up we made sure we ate dinner as a family as much as possible ... even while her ballet schedule was crazy and while I was taking college night classes. We felt that a family dinner was important. Time to catch up, make sure things are going smoothly, share silly stories and just have some normalcy in sometimes a crazy world! Once we knew Ashley was going away to college we realized family dinners would be no more ... but, we got lucky and Ashley decided to keep her weekend job and come home each Sunday so ... The Sunday Morning Breakfast was re-born -- we had done Sunday breakfast a long time ago when we lived in Georgia ... but for some reason that tradition went away when we moved to Massachusetts. But, it was a great way for all of us to re-connect each week and recount what happened during the week or what was going to happen during the following week. Well ... what would be a FAMILY breakfast without including Muffin!

Muffin knows it's Sunday because Steven and I sleep a little later, Ashley is home (like she is now for summer) or has just gotten home, and for some reason, there must be some VIBE in the air! As soon as Steven leaves, she waits patiently by the front window with her chin sitting on the window pane.

Muffin waiting for breakfast
As you can see the skin infection did do a number on her fur.
The vets believe it will start growing back in the next couple of months!
Living with Ashley, Muffin has learned a skill some dogs may never know -- eating off of a fork! Here is a glimpse into the life of Muffin ... SUNDAY BREAKFAST! Have fun watching the video ...
    here is the link:           Muffin Eating Breakfast

While it may not be the MOST exciting video of all time ... it is a FAMILY tradition and simply special! Also, you can see that Muffin is healing and that is a VERY good thing!

Friday, May 24, 2013

"Handle With Care" - An Interview with Charla Marion Pavlik

My daughter, Ashley, met Quentin soon after we moved to Fort Worth, TX. They became good friends and I was glad she had met a nice kid to hang out with before starting at her new high school. So, what does Quentin have to do with this story ... well, he is Charla's son. I met her through Ashley and Quentin's friendship. Charla is a wonderful person and an exquisite artist. I am so lucky to have been able to purchase one of her works. It is absolutely beautiful and hangs in my living room so I can look at it ALL the time; it is entitled "Handle With Care". I hope, one day, to be able to own another Pavlik and would love someday if Charla and I could collaborate on a children's book .... Here is Charla's story ....
Handle With Care
Charla - Please tell us a little about yourself:

 Charla Marion Pavlik
I was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas....I am married to Wayne and we have 2 boys; Quentin (19) and Chandler (16) along with 3 dogs; Angel, Pixie and Hershey. I went to Texas Tech and studied fashion and graphic design. I transferred to Texas Christian University (TCU) and graduated with a BFA in Communication Graphics. I still live in Fort Worth.  I have done a wide range of creative arts which include; dollhouses, murals, posters, brochures, illustrations, decorative/faux finishes, logo design, paintings, mixed media, photography, artist retreats and workshops.

Charla in her "studio"!
 Who is your favorite painter / artist? many....I have many favorites, but maybe I should start from the beginning, when I was born...just kidding...but I have had so many favorites...I could start with my earliest influences....Walt Disney....My friend and I would trace Disney characters over and over again, I want to say we were 6 years old, then I started drawing on my own. I would draw all the time. I was so extremely shy, that I would write notes and draw pictures and give them to friends instead of talking to them. 

During my college years, I learned about all the art periods, from Renaissance to Modern art. I loved the poster art from Toulouse-Lautrec and Alphonse Mucha, I loved Gustav Klimt's golden phase and Picasso's blue phase. I loved Art Nouveau. I  liked Matisse, Manet, Monet, Van Gogh and Gaugin, especially the letters from Van Gogh to his brother Theo. I think reading the letters made the art of Van Gogh that much more interesting to me. (LETTERS) I learned about graphic designers, I loved Paul Rand. I took photography and LOVED Ansel Adams. My teachers were artists and they were a great influence to me. Luther Smith taught photography and Don Punchatz was an amazing illustrator, big influences. My Uncle Henry Rayburn is the one that introduced me to collages. He was a huge inspiration and mentor. Presently, there are just too many artists to name that influence me, or I would say are my favorite. I am going to say, after looking back over this, that my top 3 favorites would be, Henry Rayburn, Alphonse Mucha, and Van Gogh. I guess I forgot to mention my Mom is an artist too, Claudine Marion. She is also the Minister of Hospitality at Broadway Baptist Church. I love her title. Minister of Hospitality. She has done this for many years and her office is filled with treasures I continually find that I will use in my collages, or inspire an idea...which leads me to your next question.
This was taken in 2008 with my Uncle Henry Rayburn
he passed away in 2009
You can learn more about him here:

He still has art at the Koelsch Gallery and The San Antonio Museum of Art has one of his pieces.

What inspires you?
My Mom's office is filled with great inspirational materials. The letters, the magazines, the old bibles (especially the ones that have been written in and underlined), old hymnals, sheets and papers of notes from learning about art in religion, art at the museum, personal notes on sermons or lectures, all inspire me. The older the better, that means it has a story behind it. I can hold a bible from 1908 and imagine where it had all been, how it was used, and who owned. it, same with an old letter. (LETTERS again.) Letters are a mystery, it is just a part of a story that you don't have all the pieces to, and yet you have just enough to imagine the rest of the story in you mind. I am inspired by a moment that touches me, or creates a surprise reaction I wasn't expecting from myself, or something that makes me smile or makes me happy. Sometimes an image inspires me. Beauty inspires me. Nostalgia inspires me. Questions inspire me. (This interview inspired me by causing me to retrace my early influences and reconnect with those feelings.) Relationships, people reacting or interacting without some sort of agenda or thinking that someone is watching...genuine moments inspire me.  I do have vivid dreams and sometimes an idea comes while dreaming or in that in between state. Sometimes while walking or jogging, once my head is clear, it leaves room for fresh ideas to come in. Anything that creates a happy positive feeling... then I want to try and express it through art in a way that someone else can get those happy positive feelings. 

Is it difficult to sell certain paintings?
I love color, and a lot of my mixed media paintings have lots of color. Most people want more subtle colors to match their couch, or go with the neutral colors in their home, but the art I create has to be inspired and may not always match a couch. If I am doing a commissioned piece, of course I will use colors that the client wants.  I had a large pink painting titled Delilah. One person said, " If it just wasn't so pink, I would buy it." Not many people can put a pink painting in their home. I did finally sell it though, to the person that said, "If it just wasn't so pink...." 

Do you have any works that you just could NEVER sell?
My first collage, I had all these drawings, paintings, sketches, printed pieces from different events, jobs, etc. that I had accumulated, just stored away. After seeing some of my Uncle Henry's collages, I decided to make one huge collage. I then painted my baby photo over it and titled it, Self Portrait. After that first collage, I couldn't stop, seemed like all I have done lately is collage/mixed media. 

Have there ever been paintings you've started and then just given up on? 
ALL THE TIME....I get an idea, start plastering the canvas with sheet music, life magazine pages, hymns, letters, text, stamps, etc. I usually will only tear out pages or use images that have to do with the theme of the idea. Then I will drip and splatter paint, sometimes too much gets covered up and I wipe off paint. I love building up texture and layers and later sanding it down to see what emerges. Kind of a fun game to me. Right now I have a piece that is stuck in that place and has sat in my studio for a year now. There have been times I just painted completely over something. There are even a few pieces that are on my website right now that I ended up going over a little, changing something up here or there, then I get carried away and then it's like, "Oops...guess I will start over."

How does it make you feel when someone purchases one of your works?
VERY HAPPY. I feel a connection with that person, because I think, "they get me", I am deeply touched, excited, and like a puppy, I just want to follow them  home and live with them...then I feel kind of sad, like saying bye to a friend who I have spent so much time with. Each piece has a special meaning to me. My art where I go to when I am sad, or when I am in a good mood and want to have fun, or when I want to experiment....and every time I leave my studio (ok, living room) I feel better, I am happier, I am more connected all together.  Most of the time it really does feel like a spiritual experience. I do get attached to each piece, so letting go can be difficult, but it is a huge compliment. 

Commissioned pieces are a bit different, they can be more difficult. You have to pay attention to them because you usually have a deadline.....but they push you to be better, to be disciplined, to possibly learn something about yourself that you wouldn't have learned if  you were just painting what you want, when you want. 

Do you work on a painting all at once or is there a process -- days, weeks, months?
I don't think I have ever worked on just one piece all at once. I usually have 4-5 canvases lined up around the studio. I go from one to the other, sometimes spending more time on the one that I am drawn to at the time. Sometimes a piece will sit in my studio for weeks or months before I am inspired to work on it again. There are many paintings that are layers and layers of ideas and images. I have had my husband and friends say, "Leave it alone, it is perfect." but if it sits in my studio for too long, it may change, because we are always changing and things change. "Layers happen."...

Do you sketch out ideas first?
Not usually, but I have sketched out ideas for murals or illustrations, but for the most part, no. I like to have a general idea and then let it unfold as I go. BUT...for my silhouettes, I will take a photograph of whatever image I want to use, or a client will provide me with a photograph and I will draw it on cardboard, cut it out and create my own stencil. 

Do you also draw?
I DO draw and doodle a lot. I think drawing, like painting, can be therapeutic, relaxing and fun. My Uncle did a drawing while praying for a sick family member and later when that person was well, he gave her the drawing and told her about the courtyard where he sat and prayed for her.  It was a powerful and meaningful piece. I plan on doing some prayer drawings soon...not sure why I thought of that, but YES I do draw. 

The painting of yours that I am proud to own - "Handle With Care" has stamps underneath the paint -- can you explain that process and are all your works created this way?
"Handle with Care" is one of my pieces that is especially dear to me. I used actual stamps from letters that I saved for years. Some were from my Uncle when he was in the Peace Corps in Columbia, and some were from old family letters. My family comes from a long line of letter writers and story tellers. We save stuff..... I used a lot of personal items and after doing so, I thought...this is so precious, then I received something I had ordered from somewhere...can't remember, but it had "Handle with Care" on it. And this happens so much where I am thinking of something and then something shows up that just clicks. Nowadays with emails and facebook, it is rare that you get a hand written letter. But I do remember the days of running to the mailbox to see if I got a letter and who it was from. Just recently, I found another box of letters, these were from my great Uncle who I never met, and these were letters that most of my family didn't know about. They were from the USS Enterprise and some while he was at Pearl Harbor. His letters were always upbeat and happy. Never talking about the war, (well they were censored) but he talked about movies, music and his friends on board. He asked about everyone in the family and was always anxious to get a letter in return, saying, I haven't received a letter from Dave in a while, is he still seeing that girl? or Please tell Luedelle to write. Oh...see I get sidetracked easily. After covering the canvas and getting the package labeled, "Handle with Care" I thought about all the packages and letters that I always anxiously waited for. I thought about all the stories behind each letter or package. I don't much more to say about it, I could go on and on, but I am just so glad that she found a good home.  NOTE - After reading Charla's answer about this painting, it's even more special to me! I absolutely love this piece! THANK YOU CHARLA!

Does your painting style have a name?
Well, my art seems to fall into the category of "Mixed Media" I wish I could find a different name to call it. Abstract? Representational? Impressionistic? Contemporary? I put a little bit of everything in my art, so I guess it is Mixed Media.......

Where can people purchase your works?
I am picky when it comes to getting the image just right for reproduction, therefore, I have put off selling online or making prints because of that. My art has a lot of texture and small details that I am afraid may get lost in the process, but I am trying two different sites to see which one works best. 

Just started these this week.

But for originals or high quality giclee's visit my website to see what is available, or just email me for commission work.


like me on facebook:   Charla Marion Pavlik (Artist)

I usually try to have at least one art show a year if not more. I am working on illustrations for a children's story I wrote years back, but just keep staying too busy to finish it. I am hoping to get better at the computer so I can stay up to date on my website and blog. My goal this year is to finish my children's story illustrations, get published and possibly get a licensing deal. I plan to look at some galleries in the area for possible representation and or sign up with a renowned art agent. My Mom and I want to get a book done about my Uncle Henry to showcase his body of work as an artist and also do a book of family letters. (LETTERS)  I do still have two teenage boys living at home, so they come first, but what I have learned is that instead of beating myself up over not accomplishing everything I want to, to just appreciate the blocks of time I find that I can create and appreciate each moment with the boys...I could go on and on here as well, learning to spend time wisely, be present, be grateful, take time to get quiet time alone, help others, eat healthy, drink lots of water, exercise, etc....

What you might find surprising about me especially knowing how shy I can be, is that I was actually on Good Day Dallas and Good Morning Texas when the boys were little....I was so nervous, it was a crazy experience, but a good one. I will have to blog about it. Also, a big surprise to me was last year NYLO hotels in Dallas bought one of my pieces. I have permanent pieces in the Gene Thompson Community Center at Broadway Baptist Church, which is a wonderful service to the community. If you ever need anything, or know someone in need, it is a great resource. 

Thanks CHARLA!  Please visit Charla's website & blog


Monday, May 20, 2013


By now you know that I am just amazed at all things NATURE! I love looking at everything - the sky is normally magnificant and truly unbelievable, but tonight it was really something else ... I looked outside my front window at about 8:30 and much to my amazement found this CREEPY, CRAZY LOOKING SKY! I hope you all enjoy these pictures ... only Mother Nature could give us colors and clouds like this! ENJOY ... and let me know what you think--was I crazy to be out there? Probably ... because there was lightning all around me! But, I could not resist!!

These were taken from 8:30pm until about 8:45pm CST right outside my front door - Fort Worth, TX

Friday, May 17, 2013

Coming Soon ...

Interview with artist Charla Pavlik coming soon ....
Handle With Care by Charla Pavlik

Sunday, May 12, 2013


I can't believe I have a 20 year old ....
HAPPY MOTHER's DAY!  Some of my Author Friends (many are moms) have decided to give away their e-books or paperbacks for Mother's Day -- See Below for Giveaways!

a MOM is a wonderful thing. I have so enjoyed watching Ashley grow into a beautiful, strong, smart young woman. She has finished her first year of college, has a good head on her shoulders and I am starting to see that Independent side of her (that is sooooooo me - it's scary!) I know she will be an AWESOME teacher after she graduates and someday ... she will also make a fantastic MOM! But right now I'm still enjoying watching her grow up, sometimes make mistakes, and cry when we talk about her moving away someday!

Ashley at about 20 months & Ashley at 20 years! 
“Now let’s get on with the giveaway!

A few of my author friends and myself have banned together in a book giveaway-some of us will be giving away eBooks, some of us will be giving away Paperbacks, and some both! I have listed the author’s below, including my own links. Visit both the Amazon page, and author blog. On Amazon you will find the free eBooks available, but on the blogs you will see if they are giving away a paperback (like I am)! I’ve also listed some of my favorite author’s Amazon book pages. Enjoy!
One request from you all…please take a moment and give back to the author by giving the books you get for free a review over at Amazon. Thank you!

For Paperback giveaways -- you need to leave a comment on the blog for the chance to win!

Free eBooks & Paperbacks…
1) Jodi Desautels -
Johnny’s Adventure Makes Learning Fun: (eBook giveaway)
Clarinda Cloud - (eBook giveaway)
2) Dennis Higgins -
Parallel Roads: (eBook Giveaway)
Blog: (Paperback Giveaway) Two Winners Will Be Chosen!

3) Laura Wintczak Eckroat - A Simpler Time (Paperback Giveaway) ... The more comments left, the more books given away!

4) Virginia Wright - (Paperback Giveaway) Two Winners Will Be Chosen.
Buzzzzzzzz: ebook/dp/B004EYUD9G (eBook Giveaway)
Crying Bear: (eBook Giveaway)
The Prince and the Dragon: (eBook Giveaway)
The Princess and the Castle: (eBook Giveaway)
5) Joe McCarthy - (Paperback giveaway) Comment for your chance to win underneath this interview blog post.

6) Sherry Ellis – Free: That Mama is a Grouch and That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN. You can find That Mama is a Grouch at Smashwords (use coupon code GP25M valid until May 13th): (eBook giveaway)

That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN will be available on Amazon Kindle for free on Mother’s Day, May 12th, (1) day only - (eBook giveaway)

7) Launa McNeilly – Lies In a Season of Tribulation (eBook giveaway) available at Smashwords with this code ( XG35B ) Enjoy!!! May 12, 2013 (1) day only!

8) Catherine Wolffe - free sample of Comanche Haven at SmashWords.
Here’s the link:

Alexandra Faer Bryan – Get Green Kittty for free with this coupon Code: HJFHLP334F76 go to the iTunes Store and click the redeem link and enter the code. iTunes store link:

Thanks everyone for stopping by! Please go download the free ebooks on Amazon. Don’t forget to stop by the blogs of each of these authors–some are giving away a paperback book! -VW