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Kay Bolden

The Artist’s Way

“Art isn’t just a way for me to express my creativity,” says Antonia “Toni” Ruppert. “It’s a way to connect and engage with the community.” Toni fulfilled a lifelong dream this summer, when she was selected to complete a summer art residency in Italy. The JSS International School in Civita Castellana, Italy offered her an intense, serious environment to study, learn and paint among masters in the field. “I did nothing but paint for two weeks!” Toni said. “Two weeks of real growth as an artist.” In addition to living in the artists’ colony and immersing herself in Italian culture, she also visited Rome to soak in the country’s rich art history. She studied the work of Caravaggio, a master of the 17th century Baroque period, and an artist for whom she developed an affinity. Her father was also a major influence on her artistic perspective. “My…

Foolproof Cure for a (Writing) Hangover

You’ve been binge writing again, haven’t you? No point in denying it — it’s as clear as the nose on your pasty, unwashed face. You’ve been gushing hundreds, maybe thousands, of words at a time. You’re way over your limit, your tolerance isn’t what it used to be, and — is that what I think it is? Have you been mixing paranormal romantic fiction and urban fantasy again? Don’t start with the excuses. I’ve heard them all before. You got caught up in the madness of the creative moment. You were curious to see if it lived up to the hype — how it feels to write yourself into a cloudy haze. All the other writers were doing it! Now look at yourself. Nauseous, light-headed, wobbly. Unable to speak in complete sentences. Fuzzy gaps in your short-term memory. And … you’re embarrassingly proud…

The Writer’s Retreat

This 2014 illustration from artist and cartoonist Grant Snider, sums it up perfectly. Check out my new stories on ThriveGlobal: Magic Beans – Planting the Seeds of Change On Medium: A Chunk of Time (Write a Novel in 15 minute Bites) Reclaiming My Writer’s Voice (It Wasn’t Writer’s Block. Just Laryngitis.) And Coming Soon … The Vacation Times   &nbsp…

30 Days of Crazy, Coming Right Up!

It’s almost November, and that means it’s time for all the aspiring writers, authors and bloggers you know to go a little bit crazy. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), when writers around the world pledge to finish a complete novel—50,000 words—in just 30 days. Sound impossible? Last year, 384,126 writers in over 30 counties participated in the challenge, and over 34,000 actually completed a novel. Of those completed, thousands go on to publish their books—some even hitting the best-seller list. Author Marissa Meyer, for example, known for her successful Young Adult series of futuristic retellings of classic fairytales, started three of her best-sellers in the Nano challenge: Cinder, Scarlet and Cress. Started in 1999 with just 21 writers in San Francisco, the Nanowrimo has grown into an international event, with hubs springing up in cities all over the…

In Fantasy Football, the Future is Female

I never watched football growing up. A brute’s game, my dad would say. Baseball — that’s a thinking man’s game. I spent half my childhood watching classic baseball with him at Comiskey Park. (Don’t mention the words designated hitter to him. Just don’t.) So, five years ago, when my friends were short a man for their all-male fantasy football league and asked me to play, I laughed. Football? Please. It’s coarse and dirty and oh-so-beneath me. But they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse — unlimited Jack Daniel’s during football season — and I joined up. They hugged me and winked and punched each other’s biceps. They named the league the Men of the Night’s Watch, like the Game of Thrones geeks they are, and I got ready for the season. Since I didn’t know a quarterback from…

This Undeserved Life

Sage Brenner is 21 months old. His brother, Ira, is 16 months old. With only five months between them, they can’t possibly be twins. And since Sage is black and Ira is white, they can’t possibly have the same parents, right? “Yes, they can,” says Natalie Brenner with a big smile. Natalie—a new mom, author and adoption advocate—is quick to set the record straight. “They are brothers in every sense of the word. They are my sons. They are my blessings.” Natalie and her husband Loren always wanted to adopt. “We talked about it and prayed about it even before we got married,” Natalie recalls. “There are so many children in the world who need a loving home. We felt that adopting would be a natural path for us, a natural expression of our faith in God, and our belief in family.” As it turned out…

Risky Business: What High-Risk Kids Can Teach Us About Connecting

On my first day of work at the community center, I wasn’t nervous. After all, I’d supervised youth “delinquents” in corrections programs; I’d worked juvenile probation. I knew this gang-run neighborhood was teeming with kids who had few choices, and even fewer resources. I knew exactly what they needed: structure, guidance, mentoring. To say no to drugs and yes to education. I expected to put in 2–3 years and move up and out. I was not expecting Marco. Marco was not impressed with me or my college education. He was living a life I could barely comprehend: he’d been stabbed, beaten, set on fire and burned (on purpose) with an iron. In the first year I worked there, he was shot at, hit by a car and “violated” by his gang — meaning they’d taken turns beating him with their fists over some rule…

Hiking Argentina? Don’t Forget the Wine

About 650 miles from the pulsing city of Buenos Aires lies Mendoza, where urban rhythm gives way to natural opulence, and where wine is more than a business, it’s a spiritual pilgrimage. Mendoza hugs the Chilean border, giving easy access to the mighty Andes mountains and the South Pacific Ocean. After a week in BA with traffic and crowds (and some awesome meals), I was more than ready for some quiet time in the snowy peaks. It was late June — winter in South America — and I’d left the U.S. without giving the weather much thought. Hiking Argentina, however, is not for the unprepared. My pack always has my hiking boots and sleeping bag either packed or strapped outside, but I still had to buy a warm hat and a thick alpaca jacket. Then I dashed off to meet my Chilean guide, whose English…

The Power of Failure

If you want to empower girls, you have to let them fail. After a week of cool but unusually sunny weather in southern Scotland, I arrived in Fort William, ready to hike Ben Nevis. I needed to get my first lungful of Highland air, and stock supplies for the next 7 days on the Great Glen Way. The rain hit first thing in the morning. A sprinkle at first, then sheets of icy drizzle, then a downpour. This did not surprise me. It is Scotland, after all. I had rain gear and waterproof hiking boots and a good supply of single-malt.   What did surprise me was the number of young parents with little kids out on what was now a treacherously slick path, especially headed uphill. One family, obviously on holiday, was picking its way up the rocky slope. Mom and dad, boy and girl and baby. Right…

3 Things I Learned at a Writing Retreat

“Rustic cabins with all the conveniences of home,” the email gushed. “Miles of pristine forest trails to explore, and spectacular sunsets over the lake.” There were photos of blissed-out writers doing tai chi in the grass, getting massages, or writing intently on sunlit porches. “You take care of everyone else,” the email nodded sagely. “Isn’t it time to do something for YOU?” I handed over my credit card number in five minutes flat. A few days later I was out the door, bound for Lake Something-or-Other for a weekend of writing, communing with nature, and supporting other women writers. Here’s what I learned: Number One: I can live without wifi, but I really need a heads up if there’s not going to be electricity. And when you say “all the conveniences of home” I assume that includes flushing toilets. And a roof. Not to…