Tag Archives: Chick Stories

Kimberley – Northern California

18 May

 Our latest Chick Story comes from Kimberley Johnson, an author, editor and former daytime drama actress, now collaborating with her mother in publishing anthologies.  Here, Kimberley shares a bit about her journey and some insight into the self-publishing path.  Their first book, The Virgin Diaries, may be found on Amazon both in Kindle format for only $2.99 and in print.  They will soon publish a second book.

The year 2010 marked the start of my own business.  Actually, I partnered up with my mother, Ann Werner, to create Ark Stories.  Our goal and mission is to produce anthologies exploring the human experience.  Later this year we will be adding Ark Fiction and making Ann’s fiction books available.

Our first book, The Virgin Diaries, debuted last April.  We interviewed seventy-two anonymous men and women about what it feels like to have first time sex.  The stories are split equally among gender and includes six gay stories, also equally split.  No commentary is provided, allowing readers to form their own conclusions.  The result is a completely unique book which allows the reader to be a fly on the wall, so to speak, and bear witness to one of life’s most pivotal experiences.  

Prior to my life as an author, I was an actress for a decade, appearing on the daytime drama Days Of Our Lives as a police officer for more than seven years.  On a more pedestrian level, I also worked as a sales rep for various industries including fine bone china, industrial chemicals and energy.

My decision to start in a new direction was facilitated by the crash of the economy.  I had been collecting stories on and off for six years.  My mother joined me in collecting and editing the stories and together we decided to self publish.  As luck would have it in the fall of 2009, I reconnected with Ralph Faust, a gentleman I knew from high school and he did the formatting and provided art work.

Marketing and promoting self published books has been an interesting journey.  My experience in sales and as an actress was definitely to my benefit.  It enabled me to utilize my “hunter” mentality to seek out various avenues of possibilities.  Facebook has given me the opportunity to meet and network with other artists and authors.  We exchange information and help each other.  Twitter is also an amazing way to meet and reach out to others in a very targeted way.

It is important as an author, whether you are self published or not, to utilize all the social media that is available to you.  I have used Help A Reporter Out and Reporter Connection to find people in the media looking for stories that relate to my book.  We have done numerous radio interviews and been reviewed in several publications as well as online book clubs.  It is important for authors to seek out publicity on their own because no one cares for your project more than you.

Our second book debuting May 2011 is titled Ain’t No Sunshine – Men Reveal The Pain Of Heartbreak.  Thirty-eight anonymous men were generous enough to really expose their deepest feelings about lost love and what we found is, these stories also provide insight into how they view love in general.  The stories have opened our eyes about how men process love and rather than it being a sad book, it has turned out to be most insightful.  We anticipate a lot of conversation about the content.  One thing we will do differently is stay out of bookstores.  With our first book, we were in many local independent stores.  We did realize some success with sales but not enough to justify doing it again and have found more success in online promotion.

Because the Internet allows you to reach a global audience, we approach bloggers who review our specific genre as well as reaching out to book clubs across the country.  It is a fantastic way to get our books in to the hands of our exact target audience.  So far the experience has proved successful.

Even though our books are non-fiction, I believe it is important to blog.  Blogging provides another way to allow people to get a sense of who you are and what you’re doing.  It is important to sell your product but also to sell yourself.  As a sales person, I learned that lesson.  When people like you, and what you stand for they are more likely to check out your work.

The self publishing wave is at the very beginning.  It is an exciting time and all of the authors involved are the ones setting the standards and paving the way.

My career as an author has been thrilling. I have had the opportunity to meet interesting people and, with the use of social media, I have been able to reach more than I ever could have  just a few years ago.

If you would like more information on our books, please visit our website arkstories.com.

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Hellena – Los Angeles, CA

3 May

This week’s Chick Story comes from a very good friend of Eva’s (hostingthemuse).  She is a life coach and a very talented jewelry maker.   Read her story about going through life challenges and still being able to conquer your dreams.

The Leap…

I had hit rock bottom. I doubted my abilities. I had the feeling that people were looking at me behind my back and shaking their heads with pity.  I was not satisfied with my life and my work standards suffered for it.  That’s when “she” came to me. She had been patiently waiting, giving me subtle hints that she was on her way and now “she” saw that I was ready for a change.

It was August 2006 and after just two months of marriage to my husband Peter, I was in the hospital having a hysterectomy. Needless to say I was devastated – but not lost.  “She” guided me to a therapist who helped me tremendously and “she” also placed a book in my path – Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins.  Although this book was directed toward companies, it had a profound effect on me.   When the author instructed companies to find 3 things that they are really good at and focus only on them, I did that for myself.  My 3 greatest assets: my ease with public speaking, the ability to connect with people and my gift for helping people solve their problems were the things I decided to focus on and improve. These 3 things helped me to take my leap – and become one with her.

Values

I realized that by focusing on my 3 greatest assets, they would connect me with my deepest values: trust, integrity, creativity, to be of service and to honor my self-worth.    I had finally turned on the lights in my life and saw for the first time all my gifts waiting to be tapped.  Being conscious of those values made it easier for me to see when I was not honoring them.  I got mad at myself when I hadn’t done something I knew was best for me or when someone else said or did something negative to me.  Think about your values and how they connect with the work you do. If your work is engaging, challenges your intellect, is exciting and you look forward to it every day, it doesn’t seem like work.  But when your work is uninspiring and creates dissonance, you’ll find yourself dreading each task.  “She” knew my values and that as soon as I connected with them my journey would begin.

My Future Self

You see “she” is me – Hellena, my future-self.  That part of me that didn’t see me as less than but more than I could ever imagine.  It wasn’t that Hellena was boastful, it was that she knew that in every situation, good, bad or indifferent, there was something I could learn as I moved forward in my life. The key phrase being “moving forward”.

We all have a future-self – we just need to tap into it and have that discussion.  It is that part of us that does not live life by lack or limitation but by abundance and endless resources.  It does not see obstacles but rather opportunities for growth and learning.  It remembers how to dream and does it on a daily basis. It keeps life exciting.  It creates scenarios with the connector word “and” not “or”, “either” or “but”. As in “I can be successful and have a great relationship” versus “I can either have a thriving career or a great marriage”.

Yes…you can have both and much more. The key to this success are your values.  It’s also knowing your boundaries and when it’s OK to say no to take care of yourself instead of saying yes to please someone else.

Making the leap

In January 2007 instead of making a resolution, I made a declaration. From now on I would be open to whatever the universe brought my way. I also made a conscious decision to honor my 3 assets.  First, I joined Toastmasters.  Not only did I become a better speaker, but when I joined the board and served my club, I also became a better leader. Secondly, after a short track with psychology, I decided to become a Life Coach.  I wanted to work with people and help move them forward in their lives. This career path addressed assets 2 and 3 simultaneously. But as with Toastmasters, I got so much more.  I found Hellena again and she introduced me to my creative side – designing jewelry.  Creations by Hellena was born from the freedom I gave myself to believe I had a creative outlet.  And it was further enriched by knowing that creating is not about perfection – it’s about allowing something to be.

These two career choices were a major shift for me because up until then I had only seen myself as nobody special.   How could I have the audacity to think someone would trust me with their most intimate fears and dreams?  That someone, other than my family and friends, would not only love my jewelry but pay me for it?  That wasn’t my future-self making those comments.  Alas, my saboteur aptly named Mr. Fear Procrastinator started whispering nuggets of self-doubt and worry in my ear.  I admit, for a while it kept me stagnated but because I was now connected to my values, Hellena had ammunition with which to battle those fears.  She said “Send out an email blast to family, friends and colleagues and tell them about your new coaching profession. What’s the worst that could happen?”   “Email pictures of your jewelry to that boutique.  It’s only an email, what harm can come from it?” Hellena took away the doubt and allowed my talents and gifts to speak for themselves.  In both instances, I was greeted with the word YES!  And what happens when you hear that word?  You want to hear it again!  Now that my fear had gone, I could approach perfect strangers and talk to them about what I did without fear of rejection because my PASSION was leading the discussion.

And now…

My coaching practice, Core Illuminations www.coreilluminations.com has made the leap to workshops and group coaching. Creations by Hellena can be purchased in two boutiques: Twig & Willow, Long Beach, CA and Mindfulnest, Santa Monica, CA (more stores to follow). You can also find my jewelry online through my Etsy.com shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/creationsbyhellena.  As I continue to dream, my dreams continue to grow.

I look back and thank my future-self for her patience and steadfastness. I look back and thank the Universe for allowing me to fall – so that I could learn something new. I look back on those 5 years and see the many leaps I’ve taken and the growth, adventures and rewards I’ve received.  Now, Hellena and I make those leaps together…

I leave you with this: Discover and Nurture your 3 greatest assets.  They hold the keys to your sanity, health and happiness.  It is here that your future-self is waiting to take the next leap with you.  Don’t keep him/her waiting!

Hellena Jones Elbling, CPCC
Core Discover Life Coach
Core Illuminations
www.coreilluminations.com
Hellena@coreilluminations.com
Discover your True Passions and
Use them to Illuminate your World!

Hellena Jones Elbling
Jewelry Designer
Creations by Hellena
https://www.etsy.com/shop/creationsbyhellena
creationsbyhellena@gmail.com
Find Your Spirit in my Creations

Our First Chuck: Jason – Orlando, Florida

28 Apr

This week’s Chick Story comes from our very first “Chuck”, the multi-talented Graphic Designer who created our wonderful logo.  Like all those Chicks out there, we welcome all those Chucks, too–fellow aspiring artists of every stage and path who are actively seeking greater creative fulfillment.

Where to Start? – An Artist’s Struggle

A blank page. A dry canvas. Fingers lying gently on piano keys, unsure of which one to press first. An empty screen with nothing more than a cursor, mocking you with each blink; it waits impatiently for text to appear. Standing on an open stage yearning to perform; yet your body remains frozen as your mind draws a blank. Even the most creative minds come across moments like these. Is it due to a lack of imagination? Or is it perhaps a lack of motivation to propel you forward? For me, it is the exact opposite.

As most of us do, every morning I go through my usual routine:  wake up, get ready for work, grab something to eat (if there’s still time—never happens), jump in my car and go. On my journey, I come across things that inspire me, things that fill my head with so many ideas and possibilities. It could be the color gradations of the rising sun tempting me to do a painting. A radio ad or song may come on which makes me think of a song to write or gets me in the mood to create a voiceover reel. Whatever the case may be, I find myself constantly being tugged in multiple directions, not knowing where to begin. I like to think of it as “Creative Overload.”

Now I know this happens to everyone for the most part, and it doesn’t always come attached with creativity. We all have so many tasks and responsibilities that we find ourselves stressing over what to do next,  so then we try to think calmly and remember that old Russian proverb that goes, “If you chase two rabbitsyou will not catch either one.” So you think, okay, one thing at a time. Got it. Well, the only problem is when you add creativity into the equation it no longer becomes a “chore” or an “obligation.” Creative ideas become plans in your head that are backed with passion and conviction; some ideas are difficult to prioritize as they all seem so vivid and wonderful.

So which dream do you fulfill first? Which idea do you make a reality? With each new one, another emerges that seems even better than the former. Like an untamed tree the branches of possibilities become too many too quickly. I tell myself there’s so many that I just can’t choose one and the end result is: I have nothing. Sometimes in order to have something we need to accept the fact that we won’t be able to do it all, but if we choose just one idea and shut out every other idea for that moment, we’ll end up with something finished. It’s truly amazing how it’s simpler to focus on a single project and get it done, than it is to keep coming up with excuses why you have nothing to show the world. It all starts with that single idea and that blank page—that dry canvas—that empty screen.

Charly – Whistler, Canada

21 Mar

The 4 Chicks are pleased to present this Chick Story shared by an author mentioned in one of our very first posts – An Author, A Writer, What Am I? Charly has written powerfully and personally about her creative journey on her blog, www.theelementarycircle.wordpress.com, and there she also reveals excerpts of her upcoming fiction.

When I was nineteen, I lost both my parents to cancer in the same year.  I literally started my year with two ‘healthy’ parents, and ended it with neither of them.

As the eldest child, everything fell on my shoulders – selling the house, organising Mum’s funeral, arranging probate, and making sure my fifteen year-old sister was brought up in a manner my parents would have seen fit.

At the time I was at university, studying Law at Cambridge University.  I was on the path I had always deigned for myself.  Mum and Dad had never pushed me in a particular direction, simply instructing me that whatever I did in life I ought to be happy.

After four years at Cambridge, I decided a law career wasn’t me.  All those years I’d simply been saying I wanted to become a lawyer because it ‘sounded good’.  As a child I had always dreamed of becoming a writer, but then sensible ‘adult’ness came along and pushed that dream aside.

After Mum and Dad died at really young ages, it made me rethink the way I wanted to live my life.

My parents had met when my Dad was travelling around the world.  He was British, she was Romanian.  And so travelling and languages were quite literally in my blood.

Once I was done with academics, I decided to spend a year travelling around the world.  I planned a route across South and Central America, and spent the best part of eight months on the back of overnight sleepers and chicken buses, tracing my way across a continent in the cheapest possible manner.

It was on the back of these buses that I discovered my passion.

Long journeys soon became boring, and a story idea which had itched in the back of my mind finally began to fall into place.  I set to work committing the story to Word documents, and just four months later my first novel, ‘Flicker’ was born.  From there I found a literary agent, and changed my life plans completely.  I continued to travel, realising it provided me with the perfect head space to write, and took a job in a Canadian ski village as a nanny.

Since then I’ve written two more novels, the second of which is being submitted to publishers this week.

Writing is who I am.  It just took me a little while to realise.  And whilst technically I’m still a nanny, and not a high-flying lawyer, deep down I also know I’m a writer, and that, to me, is more important than monetary success 🙂

It’s the person I know my parents would have wanted me to be.

Marisa – Cooper City, Florida

8 Mar

The 4 Chicks would like to thank Marisa for sharing her moving personal story, the first of hopefully many great Chick Stories from our readers as we walk down the path of artists together.

I grew up in a very artistic family.  My siblings and I were always encouraged to follow our creative paths wherever they may lead.  As a child I would spend hours coloring with crayons sketching pictures of animals and scary monsters and reading Nancy Drew mysteries.  My mom and grandmother taught me how to sew and crochet.  As a teenager, my mind opened up to poetry and I began writing my own poems.  In those moments of creativity all other thinking ceased.  I was just “doing”, not thinking.  I was truly in living in the moment.  I treasured these moments and craved them.

I grew up, bought a house, had kids and worked full time.  Those precious creative moments that I lived for were fleeting; my mind became stale and I was always feeling like I was searching for something more.  I read every spare moment I could.  I took up scrapbooking and created albums of my children’s milestones.  Something was still missing.  I felt like I was walking aimlessly through life.

Five and a half years ago, I decided to battle my addiction to cigarettes.  Someone told me to keep my hands busy and it would be easier.  I impulsively signed up for a knitting class.  I mean what better way to keep your hands busy than holding two sticks and some yarn.  I attended my first class and immediately thought what the heck am I doing here?  Really?  Knitting?  Isn’t that for grandmas?  From my first cast on stitch to finishing my first real project, I felt like that proverbial butterfly emerging from its cocoon.  I felt energized like back when I was a kid being in that “moment”.  I found a knitting group and an amazing bunch of women where we can use this time for creativity and lots of laughs.

I still have the day to day stressors in my life but knitting is my solace, my meditation, the one place where I can be in the present moment.  As a bonus from knitting, I felt my love of poetry coming back and I even wrote a poem.  I am grateful for my addiction, because it led me to my creative bliss.

It is never too early or too late to follow your creative path wherever it may lead you.


Chick Stories: What’s Yours?

6 Mar

What’s your story of creative journeying?   Maybe you’ve been walking down the path of an artist for many years. Or maybe you’ve convinced yourself you’re not a creative person at all.  Wherever you are in your walk to higher creativity, whatever your art may be, 4 Chicks and a Muse want to hear from you.  To share your story, simply email chickstories@gmail.com.  Be sure to include your first name and where you’re from, as well as a picture of you, if desired.

Selected relevant and appropriate stories, ideally of no more than 350 words each, will be posted.  All emails will be treated as having been submitted for publication.  The Chicks reserve full publishing and editing rights.  Sender agrees not to be compensated for their story.  After all, sharing is its own reward.

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