Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Month: September 2013

Book Review: Suzie Ivy’s “Bad Luck” makes good reading!

Book Reviewed:
Bad Luck Cadet & Bad Luck Officer omnibus (2012)
Author: Suzie Ivy
Published by: Bad Luck Publishing

I read a goodly portion of Bad Luck Cadet & Bad Luck Officer: A True-Life Adventure by Suzie Ivy (2012) while waiting for and riding airplanes.  Originally written as posts for her blog, they are nicely divided into readable chunks.  Thus, they turned out to be perfect for a day punctuated by multiple interruptions.
But I am here to testify that they also can be as addictive as popcorn if you have a longer stretch of time.
Suzie Ivy is a natural writer with a great sense of humor and terrific stories to tell.  Although she desperately needs a proofreader, I found her true-life adventures both fascinating and highly readable.
Her saga begins at the age of 44, when a riding accident lands her in bed with a broken hip.  In pain and facing a midlife crisis, she spotted an ad on a drugstore bulletin board.  Her hometown, which she refers to as Small Town, Arizona, was seeking police academy candidates for a class to begin six months later. 
Author Suzie Ivy has a natural writing gift.
Not everyone—okay, almost no one—would have seen this as an opportunity for a  44-year-old woman who was 40 pounds overweight and had a broken hip, but it rapidly becomes clear that Suzie is not “everyone.”  
Through her blog posts, she takes her readers along with her to the Police Academy, and when she miraculously (her word) survives to graduate, we then get to ride along for the start of her career as a “midlife police officer” in Small Town.  And what a ride it is.
I ran across her “Bad Luck Detective” blog when researching police-related blogs for my novel.  I ordered the book to gain some badly-needed insights.  Started reading for research, and by page two I was hooked as a reader, too.
If you are interested in reading about police work—or, quite frankly, if you are interested in a great story about the triumph of the human spirit—buy and read this woman’s books.  The link I’ve attached is to her Amazon page, where both print and Kindle versions are available.

This is the first of several “Bad Luck” books she apparently means to write and publish through her Bad Luck Publishing company. I’m looking forward to reading them, just as soon as they are available.

Image Credits: Many thanks to the Criminal Justice School Info website’s “Interview with Detective Suzie Ivy” article, for the book cover image! (The interview is worth reading, too).  Thanks also are due to the Independent Author Network for the photo of Suzie.

Look Closely

I’ve always been fascinated with the very small, in nature. 

A somewhat bigger grid than mine was!

When I was in seventh grade, I created a miniature “dig” on one square foot of my back yard, using sewing pins and thread to create a one-inch grid, as I’d seen archaeologists and paleontologists do in books. 

As I recall, my excavation yielded some empty snail shells, rocks, broken toy bits, and that’s about it–but it was a fun project for a summer afternoon (so sue me–I’m a nerd). 

Macro Moss: Photo by “Celine

In high school I did a Science Fair project on moss, rocks, and wood as seen through a magnifying glass.  It didn’t win any prizes, but it was visually interesting, and for me visually interesting is always a high value.

Anyone who’s looked at my artwork probably is sitting there saying, “well, duh, Jan!”

My point in this post is that from time to time I plan to share images in this space that focus on the very small, and the beauty that can be found in looking closely at something. In that vein, I’ll leave you with a photo of the starfish species Patiria pectinifera,by Alexander Semenov.

Alexander Semenov’s cool starfish closeup . . . one of them, anyway.

Semenov’s work was featured last February in a Smithsonian article.  If you like this, you may enjoy Semenov’s website, too.

Photo Credits: Many thanks to Native American Net Roots for the image of the grid on the archaeological site, and for the moss image by “Celine” on the Stayton Daily Photo site. The Alexander Semenov photo of the starfish is from Smithsonian.


Nine-Part Herbal Fantasy has been accepted into the “State of the Arts” exhibition!

Nine-Part Herbal Fantasy will be in the 2013 “State of the Arts” show.

If you’ll be in the Kansas City area during October, please come to the Prairie Village Municipal Center, Prairie Village, KS, to see the “State of the Arts” show, sponsored by the Prairie Village Arts Council.

The reception is set for October 11 at the Prairie Village Municipal Offices (7700 Mission Rd., Prairie Village, KS), and the show runs October 1-31.  The mid-October date means I’ll be in town to attend the reception!  If this year is anything like past years, it should be a good one.  The City of Prairie Village usually puts on a good reception!

Image credits: The photo of my Nine-Part Herbal Fantasy is by me.  I found the “State of the Arts” logo on the Olathe Visual Artists website.

Turn of the Semester, Turn of the Page

Windblown (2010) is one of my first “autumn”
paper sculptures.

Fall semester has begun.  Start of the school year, start of a new cycle: since I was a tiny child, the start of another school year has functionally been my “new year.”

But it’s been several years since I last began a new fall semester as a classroom practitioner.  I will always be a teacher in my heart, but the life of working in the classroom is no longer my life. 
Today I’m most invested in the other major aspects of my life: professionally, as an artist and a writer; personally, as part of a vibrant, multigenerational (and multi-species) family.
Purple Clematis is one of the paper
sculptures I finished in 2013.

So, while my “intuitive cycle” is (probably forever) tuned to the end of summer as the time of “new beginnings,” this particular year’s new beginning marks a change of direction for this blog.

For the past few years I’ve been scattering my attention between two personal blogs—this one, as “Artdog Educator,” and another one that’s been devoted strictly to my visual artwork, titled “Artdog Observations.”  As anyone knows, who’s been following either one, I’ve been posting less and less frequently to both. 

That’s because I have a massive new project in my life, a science fiction/mystery novel with the working title of Dogged Pursuit.  It’s been consuming much of my attention since spring.

At the same time, I have been trying to keep up working on my artwork.  I make fine-art paper sculpture, aimed at juried shows and in hope of gallery representation. 

Nine-Part Herbal Fantasy is my most recent finished
paper sculpture. It was recently accepted into a show!

With so many creative projects now moving forward, however, I need to re-balance the load.  This season of new beginnings seems a good time to combine both of my former blogs under one title, “Jan S. Gephardt’s Artdog Adventures.”   

As all creative people know, it’s hard to compartmentalize—worse, it’s often counter-productive to try.  Things one learns in one sphere inexplicably turn out to relate to others.  My own creative life is like a Venn diagram with about a thousand circles—and they all converge in my art and writing. 
I sometimes foster dogs for
Great Plains SPCA.

“Artdog Adventures” will explore all of it—the artwork, the writing, the background material, the interesting stuff that I discover, books I read, current events, and also my ongoing thoughts about social issues and education reform when it seems appropriate.  

Because they inform my creative work, I also will undoubtedly include thoughts on the environment, animal welfare, and most especially dogs.  Because I am involved in science fiction fandom, you’ll probably also get comments on that sphere, from time to time.

I hope you’ll be interested to join me on my creative journey, and share the “Artdog’s” adventures.

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