D. I could talk all day about your teaching and how wonderful you are at motivating and supporting those around you. That is my experience with you, …Sunday Spotlight – Artist and Teacher Audrey Markowitz
Category Archives: Artist
Sunday Spotlight with Sci Fi Romance Writer Sevannah Storm!
This is so awesome; to finally have a chat with you, Sevannah, after meeting up on NaNoWriMo in 2021. I want to first say how much I appreciated your encouragement during my first ever November novel writing challenges. And I was so impressed with your speedy progress. Since then, I’ve seen how you can churn out the novels. Let’s go in reverse and start with where you are today. Tell us about your body of work available on Amazon and how it feels to have so many exciting stories published.
Can you share your process and yearly writing goals?
I’m a spreadsheet gal. Everything’s captured, from future books, current release schedules, to who does/doesn’t get an ARC. As to speed at which I write? I like to type as fast as I think. Writing in notebooks just made me a typist and doubled the work. So straight into the right document template it goes and I work on no other WIP. I even create a preliminary cover.
My goal is to get all of my written work out there. For 2023, I have two novels for The Gifting Series (scifi romance) on the cusp of release. I have three standalones (2 x scifi, 1 x fantasy romance) I will be releasing this year. AND! I need to write two more novellas for my Plump Playwright series.
Now that we know how you get things done, let’s chat about what interested you in becoming a writer and how you got started.
The usual. I had a dream. It wouldn’t leave me alone and added scenes/chapters every night. This was Dec 2017. I feared a month of no sleep. So I wrote the dream to rid my mind of it. And Soul Forged was born. It was a piece of shite, but awesome hubs read it and suggested I pursue writing. I wrote another four books within 5 months after that.
D. I love it. And here you are six years later with so many fabulous listings on Amazon. You can also keep posted on Sevannah’s projects on her website and newsletter.
The best part of planning our chat in February is being able to indulge in romance! You write in what I have to admit is one of my favorite genres. Hot romance! And I love the choices you give us between going alien, or taking a journey with your average plus-sized erotica fiction writer. I’m currently enjoying the first in your Plump Playwright series, Plump Jane. Ah. Max… I need to share an excerpt here if I may:
First Chapter, Plump Jane
"Are you all right?" Max leaned over her, his face above hers, and for a moment, as the sun haloed his golden locks, she thought Gabriel himself had come down from heaven. "Bad news?" *** His touch burned where he gripped her waist, and before she could warn him that chiropractic appointments were expensive, he hoisted her off the ground. *** "I'm a recluse. This is it for me." She gestured to the park. "Here, and home." "Well, if we work toward the function, maybe you'll feel more prepared." He wrapped his fingers around her upper arm, as if to steady her. "Nine at the Rose Mall, Jane." He tapped her nose with his fingertip. "Don't keep me waiting." She watched him jog off, his long strides covering the distance to the parking lot. Fudgeknuckles, what the hell had just happened? It sounded like a date, but she knew better. He hoped to inspire in her the love of exercise when chocolates, writing, and her male characters owned all the acreage of her heart. Not even for the Adonis that he was would she grant exercise a square foot of prime real estate.
D. I already know I will be bingeing the series! You can find Plump Jane on Amazon here.
Tell us how you decided on your genre.
I have been reading romance since I was twelve, stealing my gran’s Mills & Boons from her bookshelf. I branched out to historical, I even wrote a novel in my teens. But once I discovered scifi romance, that was it for me. I also write fantasy, paranormal, contemporary, whatever inspires the muse.
D. In the mood for sassy female leads and hot aliens? Click here.
Who and/or what were your biggest influences?
Johanna Lindsey (introduced me to scifi romance), Laurann Dohner, Christine Feehan (The Dark Series (vampires), Anna Carven (scifi romance) then the usual, music, games, and movies.
Any works/series in progress? Where can we find you and stay posted on the latest?
The Shikari will become a series (scifi fantasy romance meets the Firefly.) I do have something planned for December, a new paranormal-Christmas series. It’s hush-hush until I’ve written the first book. Because it’s not my primary genre, I’ll only be releasing a book every December for the next ten years. I’m Sevannah Storm across all social media platforms, but my newsletter (bi-monthly) has the juicy news, ARCS, freebies, cover reveals, and sales.
D. Ooh. Thanks for giving us a heads up here! It’s exciting!
What is the writing community like in South Africa? Are there ways you are able to share your work locally? How about online communities? I know you do well with Facebook. Any advice about where to focus attention to find support?
Writing communities in South Africa aren’t helpful with regards to guidance or marketing. I opted for international because South Africa is a small market, and with eleven official languages, quite hard to break into. I don’t speak/write Afrikaans well enough.
Finding one’s champions is across platforms. It’s like real life, who you click with naturally. I try to pay it forward and meet so many amazing authors that way. Try critiquing/beta reading for writers. Make friends that way. Not only are you helping, but you’re learning to be a better beta reader/critiquer and this in turn will improve your writing craft.
D. Thank you for sharing that. Good advice.
How did you find your support services, editors, beta readers, arc readers, cover artists, etc.? Can you share some highlights or tips you’ve collected on this process and how to find satisfactory collaborations?
I googled my first editor. Kathy Bosman was a patient and incredible editor who worked on Soul Forged (75 pages at the time.) She taught me so much.
Beta/ARC readers are through my newsletter sign-up forms.
Savvyauthor’s critique match-up helps with critique partners.
I also have close author friends who help me out in times of great self-doubt.
Cover artists? Nope. I do all my covers. I studied art for seven years, web design, photoshopping, so it made sense to do them myself and save a ton of money. The covers I have done so far are on my website.
D. Fantastic! Thank you. Check out Sevannah’s website for her cover designs.
How do you balance all your pursuits with life and work? I would love to know your secret to writing so profusely. Any other secrets you can impart on time management?
When my day-job ends, my author-job starts. I have two full-grown kids (21/18), so my evenings are mine. Hubs is so supportive. Before signing up on social media, I wrote hours a night. Now, I’m trying to juggle everything, as well as learn how to create promotional videos. As to writer’s block, sprints work. They help me to push through. Words written is better than a blank page. When I do get to write, I aim for 2500 words at a time.
D. I love hearing how writers set up their schedules. It does seem to really work having a set time for writing, so other things aren’t neglected. I’m still working on that. But I do get lots of time for writing thanks to my hubby, too. They are the best!
What are your future plans?
I just climbed on the TikTok wagon and am learning how best to market my books. Ideally, I’d like to quit my day job. As to this year, Camp Nano is coming in April and July. Not sure if I’m participating. And depending on how far I am on 2023’s goals, I might be doing NaNoWriMo. I thoroughly enjoyed Nano 2022. I spent 2022 editing so getting to write was amazing.
I hope this February brings you much success in sharing your dreamy, steamy stories, and the best all year. Thanks so much for stopping by. Do you have any parting advice for our readers who want to pursue their creative passions?
Don’t quit. Expect to fail. It’s in failing that you grow. Remember, 10000 hours are needed to master anything.
When Sevannah and I chatted about her art background, she was kind enough to share some of her sketches. As my readers know, I love to mix art with writing. It’s so fun to find like-minded writers. Yes, that is Sevannah’s zebra in my promo piece at the top.
My Creator Spotlight – Inspiration for Me, and for You!
You can’t help but be motivated after meeting creators like you and learning what motivated them through the ups and the downs of their journeys.
The year is flying! I can’t believe I’ve already had two amazing guests drop by. If you haven’t met Madeline or Isa yet, visit their posts for inspiration and two super enjoyable conversations.
I thought I would blog a bit about my Spotlight feature. The joy and inspiration I get from engaging in this process has turned out to be the biggest surprise in my writing journey.
I have had the privilege of interviewing members of the writing community and other creators I meet along the way, mostly fantasy and sci fi writers like me who are new at it and working hard to get their stories out in the world. I also interview editors, book reviewers, artists, and photographers. Even an old high school friend is dropping by in March who is an award winning filmmaker.
My guests are from around the globe, including Australia, Canada, the U.K., Nigeria, Portugal, Texas, Seattle, Hollywood and my own town, Carson City. I’ve got more lined up from South Africa, New Zealand, Scotland, the U.K., Montreal, Vancouver, and Seattle. This is inspiring in an of itself.
Every one of my guests has been a delight and so generous with their time. And this is an opportunity to thank them all for participating. Drop by my gallery where all conversations are housed for continued inspiration.
This month, my two guests proved again how supportive the writing community is. Madeline and Isa spent a lot of time and effort on a robust Q&A. These two are phenomenal at supporting and inspiring others, and it really comes through.
My interviews center around a creator’s life; what inspires it, the highlights and lessons of the journey, and how to balance all the things, and every one of my guests has something different to offer, yet every bit has been relatable and translates to all of us who are endeavoring to grow and succeed through creative expression.
If you missed my December Guest and need a little art in you life… I’m reposting…Sunday Spotlight – Artist and Teacher Audrey Markowitz
D. I could talk all day about your teaching and how wonderful you are at motivating and supporting those around you. That is my experience with you, …Sunday Spotlight – Artist and Teacher Audrey Markowitz
Sunday Spotlight – Artist and Teacher Audrey Markowitz
D. I could talk all day about your teaching and how wonderful you are at motivating and supporting those around you. That is my experience with you, Audrey. But this is my opportunity to dig into what motivates you. What gets your creative juices flowing?
A. Whether I’m putting a new class together as an art teacher, or working on an art piece for myself, I’m motivated by different things. As a teacher, it’s the desire to get my students excited about a new project, a new technique, a new medium, new tools, etc. that motivates me. Knowing that people are growing as artists and becoming more confident in their ability is what drives me to create classes.
I start with a project that interests me and one in which I feel there will be lots of learning opportunities. I create the piece of art that I will teach probably 6 or 7 or more times in different ways in order to find the one I think will be a real “WOW” for the students as well as which one will present the best learning opportunities. I also want to pinpoint specific areas that will perhaps be more difficult to learn so that I can begin to think about how I will teach them. This entire process so far is what gets my juices flowing and excites me. Now I have to create the class and the detailed and structured lesson plan my students deserve!
When creating art for myself there are a number of different things that get my creative juices flowing. The main thing that keeps me motivated is that I LOVE what I do and that’s probably the most important thing of all. Other things that excite me are ideas from my journal that I want to try out. Keeping a journal of things I see, hear, learn, and want to pursue is an invaluable tool. Learning and trying new things is also a huge motivator for me. So, I take lots of classes. And no matter the topic of the class, I find it usually helps me refine a skill, take a new approach, reinvent a technique, and just fall in love all over again with what I do.
I have a very close friend who is an accomplished silk painter and when we’re together we bounce new ideas off each other and support each other. If I’m stuck or she’s stuck, we try to ‘unstick” each other. We definitely find ways to get each other’s juices flowing! It usually involves a LOT of laughter. Laughter is a HUGE part of my life. And so is music. I find it both inspirational and motivating. So, you can rest assured there’s music on when I’m working in my studio.
Taking a long walk is also a huge help if my creative juices need some stirring up. I’ve learned that sometimes I just need to get out of my chair and do something different that I enjoy. And I’m always amazed at how many “Eureka!” moments happen during some sort of relaxation activity that gives me pleasure.
D. Zentangle inspired art is what I’m most familiar with in your body of work. And we will talk more about that style in a bit. But you incorporate so much more into your pieces. Have you always pursued art? Did you start out on another career path? If so, what made you change? How were you able to focus your life on art and what types of events crafted your unique style?
A. I have been creating “stuff” and making “messes” since I was five years old, using whatever materials I could find! I do the same thing today, but now it’s called Mixed Media Art. LOL! I am inspired by playing with color and layering and fascinated by texture. I always have been! However, none of my formal education focused on the visual arts. I have a BA degree in Communication Arts and Science and an MA in Human Resources Management and Development.
I needed to earn a living and support myself and felt that creating art wouldn’t allow me to do that, so I focused on a career in Human Resources. And what a wonderful and exciting career I had. I zeroed in on the training and development aspect of human resources and did a lot of motivational speaking, as well. Eventually I started my own training and development business. I did a lot of team building for organizations, management development, and taught teachers how to teach. Throughout my professional career, I used my spare time to create art (collages, jewelry, greeting cards, etc.); after all, this was my passion. And I sold my art at juried craft shows. I also took lots of art classes. I promised myself that when I retired, I would transition into a full-time artist
D. Who and/or what were your biggest influences?
A. A wonderful and talented artist in New York, who I took classes from on a regular basis, was a huge influence on me. She encouraged my mixed media work and I learned so much from her. In fact, she was the one who encouraged me to become a Certified Zentangle Teacher. She felt that as an artist, I would love to incorporate Zentangle into my work. And she knew how much I loved teaching.
D. What made you decide to bring the joy of art to others?
A. As a breast cancer patient, the positive effects that Zentangle had for me as I experienced the anxiety, tough decision making, sleeplessness, etc. associated with this disease, was a strong force in my wanting to share it with others. I learned firsthand what a meditative and calming process Zentangle could be. I found it particularly helpful when I went for my radiation treatments. I would sit in the waiting room and “tangle” like crazy in my journal so by the time they called me in for my “dose” I was truly relaxed. I remember years later I had a student in one of my Zentangle classes who had been in that waiting room with me (her husband was receiving radiation) and at the time she wondered what the heck that red headed woman was so enthusiastically doing in her notebook! She learned that it was me tangling. At any rate I, both the artist and cancer patient, wanted to bring this magical and beautiful art form to others. Whether my students chose to use it as a meditative tool too or simply to create art and find joy would be up to them. But as a cancer survivor I truly felt compelled to share it with everyone who was interested. I am a big believer in “paying it forward.” So, as an artist I have used teaching art as a way of giving back the joy, the serenity, the magic, and the creative inspiration that art continues to give me!
Enjoy this TEDx demonstration of the power of Audrey’s motivational speaking.
D. Now let’s peace out and get a little more Zen.
There are so many benefits to learning and engaging in the art of Zentangle. And I for one really appreciate that you were there to pass them on to me. The meditative aspect, portability, minimal supplies needed, and ability for anyone to produce a piece of art after one lesson are just a few. What are the most important aspects of Zentangle for you from the perspectives of a practitioner and a teacher?
A. As a practitioner, I love that Zentangle can be incorporated into practically any other art form!! Whether it’s pottery, quilting, painting with any medium, jewelry, etc. As an artist, I find this very exciting; being able to have this tool in your kit no matter what your discipline. As a teacher, I love that Zentangle allows everyone to be successful and tap into their creativity. Additionally, it’s an art form where folks are encouraged not to be self-critical or judgmental, but rather to enjoy the process.
D. I remember my first class so well. Zentangle 101. We were in the fabulous old Brewery Art Center’s ballroom. The class was full, and you had a margarita bar set up. I was hooked before we even got started. But when the night was over, and I had several tiny pieces of art I could call my own that I could hardly fathom were created by my own hand, I was a believer in the method.
Zentangle 101, September 2015
More classes at the BAC
You have been teaching folks like me for a long time, adapting to Zoom like a pro during the Pandemic, and constantly producing exciting projects for your students. I will miss those sessions now that you’re moving on to your next artistic stage, but so grateful for the wealth of memories and skills you instilled in me, and I’m thrilled you can spend your hard-earned time pursuing your passion.
Tell us what’s next for you. What projects do you have in the works, or are you just going to let the creativity flow?
A. I am returning to the mixed media aspect of my art. I miss that. And I am looking forward to letting the “creativity flow” without the schedule and discipline associated with teaching. Here’s a photo of a mixed media piece I’m working on now. It’s a combination of collage and acrylic paints).
D. Thanks so much for that glimpse into your studio and a sunny piece of beautiful art! Let me take the opportunity to share more art you have generously provided for our chat.
D. On this note, one of the things I love to discover about creators is what kind of space they utilize for inspiration. Are there any secrets you would like to pass on about creating the perfect studio, environment, or mood? Do you have a special time of day or a process in addition to a place that helps you be your most creative?
A. Okay, not really a secret :-), but for me two important things one should make sure they have is good lighting and storage space. Even if your funds are limited… Just google “creating storage space in my art studio” and you’ll find tons of very creative, inexpensive, and wonderful ideas for storing your supplies. You want to be able to find things when you need them and have a workspace that you can clear up when starting a new project. Insofar as lighting is concerned, watch for sales at the craft stores (on-line too) for Ott Lites. An Ott Lite provides a precise balance of contrast and brightness that allows you to see details clearly and colors accurately. Other light sources can create harsh glares, distortions, and eye fatigue. An Ott Lite is like having natural daylight indoors!
Most importantly, make your studio space your own! I like to be surrounded by things that are important to me, which is why I have a cozy spot on the floor for Sophie, my fur baby!! Also visible in my studio are mementos, photos, artwork, quotations, etc. that inspire me or hold a special meaning. In terms of time of day, process, place when I am most creative, I don’t have specific ones. If I have a deadline for something, well, that obviously helps! :-).My MO is to go into my studio every day to do something… and if the creative juices just aren’t flowing I go and do something completely different. I’ve learned not to angst over it. Rather, I will make the most of whatever else I decide to do… whether it’s: take a walk, physical activity, read a book, cook, whatever. And I will enjoy what I’ve chosen to do!
I’ve discovered that making sure you put joy into your life is important to me as an artist.
D. Where can our readers follow your progress? Any upcoming art shows or plans to that effect?
A. I’m just getting started and have plans to turn my current Zentangle blog into one that will showcase my art as well as any shows, etc. I plan to exhibit a couple of my pieces at the next judged show being held on January 1 at the Nevada Artists Association in Carson City.
D. Thank you so much for visiting with me, Audrey! Do you have any parting advice for our readers who want to pursue their creative passions, art, or Zentangle?
A. Just do it! Jump in! It’s easy to find distractions and reasons not to pursue your passions. Taking action will help you get started. Making that first brushstroke will help you begin to paint away and remove those blocks that are getting in the way.
The most important thing: LOVE what you do! And remember what Rumi said,
“Inside you is an artist you don’t know about.”So, go discover her or him!
All artwork by Audrey Markowitz. If you share, please give credit to the artist.
Below are examples of Audrey’s traditional Zentangle tiles, using the Zentangle method of creating corner dots on a square tile and connecting them into a frame or border divided by “strings” that you can fill in with repeated tangles (doodles).
The Zentangle® method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at: www.zentangle.com