Celebrating Creative People

Over the years, I’ve been blogging about people who I have found fascinating with their creativity, and I would like to highlight some of those posts here, to inspire you to continue to work on your creative projects.

For years, I thought that I needed permission or approval to do something creative. Not sure why. I would jot down ideas, keep a million plots for books twisted in my brain, have a shelf of half-completed projects in my house, but I didn’t finish them, and I certainly didn’t show any one anything. Then, two amazing people inspired me. My sister, who started a writing group and kept saying, “what are you working on?” I was in awe at her ability to just work. She said to me, “Ryss, if you need permission, then I give you permission to do projects.” I LOVE her for that. The second was a talk by [then] President Dieter F. Uchtdorf who wrote a talk called “Happiness, Your Heritage” in October 2008. It inspired me at a time when I needed a creative outlet more than anything else in this world.

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Happiness, Your Heritage,” October 2008.

Check out these great reads and I hope that you begin to create today!

And a final word on creation and this post, is our new tagline (that my middle daughter thought of for this site) –

What will you create today?

Creating with my daughters has been enjoyable, but now that they are older – WOW! This is getting good. Stay tuned!


Work according to Robert Frost


My object in living is to unite

My avocation and my vocation

As my two eyes make one in sight.

Robert Frost

Creativity, Writing

Tackling Creativity

I’ve been overwhelmed, as usual.  Productive, yes, but not always doing what I wanted to be doing.  Hiding, at times, from creating when I have the precious spare moment, choosing instead to waste it on … whatever.

Then, tonight, as I was searching for a recipe to make chocolate cake without eggs,  (because I had no eggs and because I wanted to feed my face, instead of using the hour when my babes are resting to create) I came across some Mormon Messages.  It reminded me of why I write.  Why I am using my spare time to do what I am doing.


I loved three things that Cassandra said:

  1. She painted about being in the moment, appreciating the now.
  2. She brought her girls into her art studio and encouraged their creativity.
  3. She realized that she had made up an ideal that she thought she had to be – but all she needed to do was be the woman that God made her to be.
Makes me want to “tackle creativity” once again, and the desire for chocolate cake  (with or without eggs) has finally left.
Art, Creativity, Waldron Publishing, Writing

Summer Blues? Hearing “I’m bored” a little too much?

Pirate Image copyright Jana Friel 2011

Encourage the kids in your life to CREATE!

Have them enter the Waldron Publishing Summer Stories Contest –

WHO: All children and youth ages 5-18 are encouraged to enter.

WHAT: Original stories or artwork based on a pirate theme.

WHEN: June 25-August 20th, 2011

WHERE: Find out more at

WHY: Plenty of great reasons:

  • To stop the summer boredom blues.
  • To get kids reading and writing.
  • To develop talents and skills.
  • To build resumes.
  • To give them a chance to learn about the publishing process.
  • To have a chance to win fabulous prizes.
  • To contribute to a children’s charity.
Get writing and drawing today!!!

Homemade Books

A fun homemade gift that I’ve done for a lot of my nieces and nephews has been to create a little book for them.  It takes a little time and creativity, but it’s really fun and the kids love it when the book is all about them.

Here are some examples –

For my daughter (when she was really little), I did a book about the family, so that we could practice names.

For my nephew Simon (who LOVES Star Wars)  I created a little story –

Simon’s Light Saber

A Star Wars Adventure – in a Galaxy quite close

By Aunt Ryss

Once upon a time, in a far away galaxy, Master Yoda, the great Jedi Master felt a disturbance in the force coming from a quiet planet named Earth.

Qui-Gon Jinn was sent to find and train the young boy who was to be Earth’s only hope –

Young Simon “Padawan,”  in whom the force was very strong.

You get the gist.  I filled it full of pictures of Simon rescuing his siblings and pictures from Disneyland’s Star Wars adventure.

Kids at the Disneyland Jedi Training Camp

He loved it and read it so often that it broke apart.

For other nieces and nephews, I’ve cut up pictures from magazines and made little books.   For example, I wrote out Sammy’s name (a letter on each page) and made an acrostic, (S is for smile) and decorated the pages.

For Jack, I made his book about his name and filled it full of poems featuring his name –

Jack be nimble,

Jack be quick,

Jack jump over

the candlestick.

I take each book and laminate it – a hot or cold laminator, or in a pinch, clear packing tape works well.  (These are typically not big books, 4″ x 4″ squares of paper, etc.)

Then I punch a hole in the top corner of each page and I use a loose leaf book ring (you can get a package of 10 or so at an office supply store for under $5) to fasten it together.

Loose-Leaf Book Rings

It’s very easy for little hands to flip.   I also imagine that this would be a great and fairly easy project for kids to work on.

Any ideas on subjects for a book?

  • favorite family songs
  • childhood poems
  • favorite things
  • family stories, traditions, or family lore

Maybe a set of easy readers to teach basic reading words?

  • My cat is big, my dog is red, etc.

Other book making strategies?


Plot – get your characters into trouble.

A friend of mine just asked me to write about writing.  She’s been working on an idea for a while and asked me what to do to help it turn into a story.

Great ideas are FANTASTIC!!!   Often we will have a character, a hero or villain that we are fascinated with.  Maybe we’ve thought of a setting, or a really cool item that the character gets hold of.

But in order for it to go anywhere, you need to ask yourself, what’s next?

Conflict, crisis, and resolution are the three things that make up story – “because in literature, only trouble is interesting” (Burroway, p.31).

I found a really wonderful love story in a book on writing –  (Writing Fiction,  Janet Burroway, 1996, HarperCollins, p.31).

“Jan and Jon meet in college.  Both are beautiful, intelligent, talented, popular, and well adjusted. [They are completely compatible on all levels].  Their parents become fast friends.  They marry on graduating…get rewarding work…have three children, all of whom are healthy, happy, beautiful, intelligent, and popular; the children love and respect their parents…the children succeed in work and marriage.  Jan and Jon die peacefully, of natural causes, at the same moment, at the age of eighty-two and are buried in the same grave.”

I’m sure this story is wonderful for the couple, but really, who would buy it?

It’s hard to do sometimes, but you’ve got to get your characters in trouble.  Add character flaws, an evil foe, a sad twist of events, a huge disappointment.



  • What do people need to know?  Why?
  • How do we introduce our characters?  Are we going to write to describe or show a picture?


  • What happens?
  • Why is this a problem?
  • What power struggles are involved?


  • What brings it all together?
  • How or why will your character face the major problem(s)?


  • How will we solve the problem?
  • What happens to the people when the problem is solved?

This is something that kids love.  I just asked my five year old to help me write a story.

I asked her if we were to write a story about a girl who had to face a monster, what kind of monster would it be?

A vampire

What would the monster do to the girl?

Try to suck her blood out.

What would we do to stop it?

The girl would poke out her eyes.

A little gross, I grant you. But the point is that with a little direction, kids, who are naturally creative, can start making up fun stories from an early age.

More to come on writing with kids soon!


Question about the avatars.

Do you like the little avatars that are posted on the comments?  I set it up (a wordpress extra)  to put the little monsters on, and I noticed that the same avatar is on each person that comments.

I think they’re really cute, and I think it would be fun to have a group of children make a set of monsters as a creative art idea.

Any ideas on what to do with the monsters?  I mean I know that it would be a great way to get them to practice drawing and creating, but what could you do with a set of monsters?

  • a card game
  • stationary
  • illustrate a story about the monsters

What else you got?


Creative Teaching

nature spring 2009 078

I’m a teacher both by Profession and by heart.  Despite the wicked pay, I can’t get over the thrill of being with a class.  Perhaps it’s the power trip of having control over a body of individuals [insert maniacal evil overlord laugh here] but maybe, it’s the creativity that the classroom allows and the intrinsic value  that comes from helping others.

Whatever the reason, I found a very intriguing article about teaching that I want to share, it’s called –  Stupid Learning.  The author John Brown teaches a writer’s workshop at conventions and conferences and has some GREAT information on writing on his website.

It’s a humorous piece with some very important points about the power of natural motivation in learning.  I will freely admit that I didn’t truly begin to value personal education until I became an adult woman working on a graduate degree.  Since then, I have tried to learn a multitude of things  – from religion, to string theory physics, to economics, to the history of Argentina.

The main point of this post, is to give you a creative prompt about your own learning.  What subjects interest you, or your children the most?  Who are the experts in that field of study?  What projects can you work on (by yourself, or as a family) that would help you better understand the theories behind that course of study?

Then because of the current economy – How can you begin to “dabble” in that field without spending a fortune? (The library comes to mind from this question, or the community classes bulletins, and of course the wonderful worldwide web).



We have multi-family Sunday dinners at my house bi-weekly.  With 11 grandchildren, things get crazy quickly.  So, I decided that to keep the little munchkins happy (and quiet) that some sort of  craft might help.  I had paper in abundance (pictures from magazines, paper, scissors, crayons, glue, etc.) and thought that some sort of paper activity would be good.  So, I got a small spiral-bound,  lined notebook and put their names on each one.

The notebooks - creativity at its best!
The notebooks - creativity at its best!


I began by trying to give them things to do, papers to fill out.

The first page of the notebook - an "about me" page.
The first page of the notebook - an "about me" page.

Then I tried to do things, like have them decorate a tree at Christmas time.

The Christmas tree page
The Christmas tree page

I began to notice that while they humored me and did the pages the way that I directed, they enjoyed themselves much more when I just let them take over themselves.  All I do now is provide supplies (including magazine cut-outs) and they go crazy, in a wonderfully quiet way!

Look at the lovely artwork...
Look at the lovely artwork...

The younger kids practice cutting, gluing, and scribbling and the older kids can do artwork that is more on their level. 

The makings of a preschooler's collage
The makings of a preschooler's collage

The oldest (ten at the time) even began writing her own story to go along with her artwork.

The budding young novelist's work.
The budding young novelist's work.

It’s been an amazing way to not only calm the drama, but allow for the girls of all ages and abilities to work together.  Best of all, it has given them a place to go to foster their creative genius! Most Sundays they come running up to me and say “Hey Aunt Ryss, are we going to do notebooks today?”  I usually say, “Absolutely!  Just help me clear the table.”  It makes everyone happy.