Category Archives: Blogging 201

#ALCGC2017 October Check-In

#ALCGC2017 October Check-In

It’s undeniably autumn! The year will be over soon. How are you doing on your creative goals?

I’ve made a few drawings this month, although I didn’t do one every other day as planned. I used photos as references for these (click on the smaller images to enlarge):

And I reinterpreted some of my favorite illustrators’ pictures:

And I entered a few  Zentangle challenges, posted herehere, and here.

I wrote four poems this month, and posted three of them, here, here, and here. (Yes, I know. I’m using the term poetry lightly. A couple of them are kind of prose poems.)

In October, I’m looking forward to participating in Inktober and OctPoWriMo. I know my limitations; I know I won’t make a drawing and write a poem every day. I’ll be happy if I do one or the other.

The last weekend of September I went on a writers’ retreat. (I’m coming home today!) I expect to start (in Scrivener) a project I journaled about twelve years ago.

I’m behind where I want to be on my blog. I have holes starting October 10 (though I have 90 posts scheduled between now and April 2). I keep telling myself the world won’t end just because I miss a day on ARHtistic License. I just like being dependable. I’ve posted daily for about two years.

I’m sending out queries to agents for my picture books. So far no nibbles. Sigh.


I’ve signed up to be a contributor for A Writer’s PathSo far I’ve submitted one post. If you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, I’ll let you know when it goes live.

On recorder, I’m continuing to practice the last 13 pages of the Sweet Pipes Recorder Book. I’m chicken to go on to book 2, because it looks really hard. I have another book that I used with my sixth graders when I was teaching that involved improvisation, but I can’t find the CD that goes with it. And so I’m procrastinating on moving forward.

On guitar, I’m up to page 59 in Essential Elements for Guitar. 


Now it’s your turn. How are you doing with your goals? Don’t be shy! If you’re keeping accountable on your blog, paste a link into the comments below. Or if you don’t have a blog, just tell us your successes and your challenges this past month. And remember to check in on November 1, 2017, to share your progress during October. I created the hashtag #ALCGC2017 for ARHtistic License Creative Goals Challenge for 2017. Feel free to use it to tweet about your goals and your progress.





How to Hold a Writers’ Retreat

How to Hold a Writers’ Retreat

Have you ever found yourself stranded in Creative Badlands? You know, that parched place where you are just so dry that nothing trickles from your pen? Or what you write is so uninspired that it puts you to sleep?

Sometimes it helps to get away. A writers’ retreat could be just the boost you needed to refresh your writing.

Why have a writers’ retreat?

A retreat is a block of time you set aside for a specific purpose—without the distractions and routines of everyday life. It’s a time to get away from your usual surroundings, a time of refreshment, a time to refine your focus.

At a writers’ retreat you might work on your work-in-progress, brainstorm ideas, learn a new technology, or just share information. The retreat could be strictly centered on the process of writing, or it may also involve care of body and soul as well (or maybe even some tourism).

Linda, hard at work.

Linda, hard at work.

How is a retreat structured?

The retreat should be structured to serve the attendees. You can have a writers’ retreat all by yourself, or you can go to a group retreat. Some retreats are led by organizations, with speakers and a pre-planned agenda, almost like a mini-conference or workshop; some are just a cluster of writing friends who decide to go away together for mutual support.

How should a retreat be planned?

If you are responsible for planning a retreat, consider these questions:

  • Where and when will you hold the retreat?
  • What are the participants hoping to accomplish through the retreat? Writing many pages, free from distractions and interruptions? Learning a new skill? Expanding presence on social media? Resting and relaxing? Enjoying the scenery? Connecting with other writers? Exploring a new location? Eating gourmet food?
  • What are the financial parameters?
  • What will attendees be expected to contribute toward the retreat?
  • How will you schedule activities so that goals are met, while allowing for downtime?
  • Who will lead presentations?

I recently participated in a retreat with some of the ladies of Tuesday’s Children, my critique group. One of our members hosted us in her home in the forested mountains of central Arizona, a couple hours northeast of Phoenix.

Judy's house.

Judy’s house.

What we did on our retreat

In the weeks leading up to our retreat, we determined what we wanted to accomplish: strengthening and expanding our platforms. Each of us considered what we could share with the group. One week in advance, we decided what groceries each of us would bring, so that there would be plenty of healthy food and snacks. I also picked some CDs from my collection for background music.

Judy's street.

Judy’s street.

We arrived at Judy’s house around 4:00 on Sunday. As we unloaded our suitcases and groceries, the keys to our only car somehow got locked inside. (Note: be mentally prepared for unexpected mishaps. Flexibility and a sense of humor go a long way to diffusing minor setbacks.) We called AAA; an hour later, the keys were liberated, and we went to a local restaurant for dinner, separate checks. Afterward, we enjoyed each other’s company by socializing in our pajamas, sort of a grown-up slumber party.

The next morning (Monday), we took a two-mile walk around the neighborhood, which involved scaling hills and enjoying the gorgeous wooded surroundings. Then back to the house for breakfast and devotions. Because all of us are Christians, we each spent some time reading Scripture, then shared what touched us in our reading, and prayed together.

Then we set to work. The four women who went on our retreat have totally different professional backgrounds and publication histories. Three have published books, all have published articles, three write fiction, all also write nonfiction. We all contribute to a group blog, and some of us have personal blogs as well.

Hard at work.

Updating author pages.

Our platform-building sessions concentrated on internet opportunities, such as spiffing up personal websites and blogs, Facebook pages, and author pages on Amazon. I shared some of what I’ve learned from WordPress Blogging U’s Blogging 101 and 201.

We broke for lunch and dinner, made from what Judy had on hand and the food we’d each contributed. At some point, we went for another walk, off the beaten path and into the woods. After dinner, we drove to a neighborhood where apple trees grow and saw elk. (Who knew elk eat apples straight from the tree?) We spent the evening talking and checking email and social media on our laptops while listening to music. (Note: to see captions for any of the remaining pictures on this post, place your cursor on the image.)

Tuesday morning we repeated the pattern—walk (saw more elk!), breakfast, and devotions–and continued our platform building. Then we did a quick clean-up and loaded all our stuff, including the remaining food, into the car, and drove to the Mogollon Rim, a high ridge overlooking a wooded canyon. Judy showed us a spot that holds special meaning for her and her late husband; and then we drove to a picnic area to eat our lunch before returning to the metro Phoenix area.

This was actually Tuesday’s Children’s third retreat. We’ve figured out a process that works for us. We’ve been friends for decades, and relate well to each other. We recognize our individual strengths and deficiencies, and we can help each other navigate new territory. Other than a restaurant dinner the first night, whatever groceries we brought along, and a few bucks to our driver (Peggy) toward gas, we didn’t spend any money. We each pitched in our labor doing whatever had to be done. We are blessed that Judy opened her beautiful house to us.

We all learned something that we didn’t know before, and all of us went away with a new idea for an article, post, or book. I’d say our retreat was a success!

Have you had a great experience at a writers’ retreat? What made it especially worthwhile for you? Please share in the comments below.

Casting Call for a Blogging Partner

Casting Call for a Blogging Partner

In July, I took Blogging 201 through the WordPress Blogging U. I am still working on the Day 9 assignment (excerpts copied from The Commons):

Today’s assignment: find a blogging buddy. If appropriate, plan to publish guest posts on one another’s blogs.

(If you don’t see guest posters as an option for your blog, that’s totally fine. You can find a buddy to lean on for feedback and support, minus the guest posting.)

Why do this?

  • student-849825_1280 from pixabayBecause your blogging buddy is sure to tell their friends and followers about their guest post on your site, bringing you some potential new followers and maybe even a traffic bump.
  • Because collaborating spawns post ideas you can both use to fill out your editorial calendars.
  • Because it’s always more fun to do something with a friend — especially a naturally community-oriented activity like blogging. You can laugh, make mistakes, teach one another, learn, and have fun supporting each other along the way.

Once you have a buddy, start familiarizing yourself with your buddy’s blog — read their last few posts and their about page. Poke around any other links. Next, get things going by just seeking and giving feedback. Is there a question you asked on The Commons that didn’t get much response? Is there something you’re still not sure about? Your buddy is the perfect person to ask.

Now, explore whether guest posting will work for the two of you. You’re familiar with one another’s blogs — what can you each add? Is there a perspective you’d love a guest to explore? You’ll also want to work out some boundaries; even if the guest blogger is a close friend, it’s useful to establish things like length, style issues (no foul language, no real names, photo citations, etc.), who will respond to comments, and how much say you’ll have over each other’s posts. (The Daily Post’s rule of thumb is to edit guest submissions as little as possible.)

If you’re not going to guest post, you can still be helpful buddies. Promote each other’s posts on your social networks — we know you’re looking for more content to share. Link to them in posts, or from your sidebar. And of course, keep using one another for candid feedback and moral support.

Spread the word of your partnership: use their Twitter handle when you promote a post, or tag them in a Facebook update. Twice the social networking means twice the love.

browsing-15824_1280 from pixabay

I do have friends whose blogs I support and with whom I regularly dialog about blogging, on an informal basis. Their focuses are different than mine, though. I am still looking for someone who writes about the arts and artists and artistic processes and inspiration who would be interested in partnering with me. For me, guest blogging (in the form of reblogging) would be a definite plus.

If you are reading ARHtistic License because you are a blogger with a similar focus to mine, and you think we may be compatible, and you want to audition to be my blogging partner, please reply in the comments below, with a link to your blog. (Or if you would rather do so privately, please take The ARHtistic License survey—click the red button—and submit your comment on question 15.)

Take the ARHtistic License Survey!

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary!

Do you remember when you were young and in love (maybe you still are!), and you celebrated the first week anniversary of when you met, and the first month anniversary, and so on and so forth?

ARHtistic License is celebrating its three month anniversary! In honor of this milestone in our relationship, I invite you to tell me how you really feel—through the ARHtistic License Three Month Anniversary Survey!balloons

The survey asks just 11 questions. It only takes about three minutes to complete (or longer if you really love me). Most of the questions are multiple choice (everybody’s favorite kind!).

The reason I am asking you to do this is I want to see if I am on track to meet my goals as stated on the About ARHtistic License page:

The goal of ARHtistic License is to encourage and inspire people to create.

ARHtistic License gives you permission to experiment with your art.

ARHtistic License is a source of practical advice for creative people.

ARHtistic License is a place where artists in all genres can connect.



I am particularly concerned about the last part of that goal—I want to connect with a wide variety of artists. I will use your responses to the survey to improve ARHtistic License and to widen my outreach.

Want to participate? Click the button to begin: Take the ARHtistic License Survey!

Liszt is dead, long live the piano recital…by Mary O’Connor

Liszt is dead, long live the piano recital…by Mary O’Connor

By Guest Blogger, Mary O’Connor

Franz Liszt was a rock star before there were rock stars.


On Monday, Google’s homepage ran a picture to celebrate the 360th birthday of Bartolomeo Cristofori, inventor of the piano and keeper of instruments for the Medicis in Florence. The instrument Cristofori invented was originally called a “harpsichord with soft and loud” even though the distinction between the two is large (the harpsichord produces sound by plucking strings, the piano by striking them with a hammer). Only three of the newfangled instruments he made – all of them dating from the 1720s – survive.

liszt-recitalMore than a century later the piano recital was devised. It was Liszt who first decided to have the whole stage to himself, and set the fashion for dispensing with the mixture of celebrities and supporting acts that had prevailed up to that time. As he wrote about his audacity to a friend: “Le concert, c’est moi!” And he called his appearance at the Hanover Square…

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