Courage Garden

IMG_0037In this time of reflection, when you are often on your own, a little courage can go a long way. In the spirit of optimism, I have posted a poem I wrote three years ago. At that time, I was enduring a loss of vision, in more ways than one. Since then, I have regained both my eyesight and my wheels, but I am once again stuck in place because of the pandemic. You may be stuck, too, and worried. Faith will see you through. I hope my poem will help you travel to a lovelier place in higher consciousness. You may find your creativity there, too.

Courage Garden

I pray a courage garden

Tending makes it grow

i water and weed daily

Daily I must sow

When time comes to harvest

I gather in my crop

Thankful that I tilled and toiled

In prayer and did not stop

”Courage Garden” by Tina Murray, © Tina Murray, Ph. D., 2017

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Designer Masks: Adversity inspires creativity

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To mask or not to mask? That, to paraphrase Shakespeare, is the Covid-19 question. Some people want to wear masks. Some do not. Of those who do wear masks, many opt for a simple face covering. However, some people are rising to the occasion by creating unique and artistic face masks, which also aspire to a protective function. These creatives are allowing adversity to inspire their efforts. One such artist comes to mind because she made a mask for me.

When the Covid-19 pandemic first occurred, I had never worn a face mask in public. I did not even know where to purchase a mask. When I told a friend of mine, Elva Bertram, that I did not have a mask, she graciously offered to have one made and shipped to me.

At Elva’s request, her friend, KATE BECK, a talented textile artist and fashion designer from New Orleans (https://www.katebeckneworleans.com; https://www.alquimiestudio.com), made me a lovely cloth mask. (My favorite color is blue.) Kate sent it to me, and I was delighted to receive it. I am grateful to both Elva and Kate for their thoughtfulness. I have posted a photo of my own Kate Beck mask. You can find her work on Facebook, also, at Kate Beck New Orleans.

I am not surprised that the call for masks worldwide has inspired the artistic imagination. As a former art educator, I know mask-making is an activity that students enjoy in the classroom. It helps them to express themselves in unique ways. It helps them learn art history, too.

Different cultures, down through time, have used masks for religious, ceremonial, and healing purposes. Today our use of masks to ward off illness might easily conjure beliefs shared by shamans of old. Although our modern masks are mainly inspired fashion and lifestyle statements, their spiritual connections run deep.

Inspiration comes when it comes and how it comes. Its origins are mysterious, but it can be triggered. In his REPUBLIC, Plato suggested the idea that necessity is “…the mother of invention.” To my mind, “invention” is just another word for “creativity.”

During the first few months or 2020, masks have become a part of daily life in America, if only temporarily. Approve of them or not, they can be fun and profitable for artists to imagine and create. When worn, they become forms of self-expression.

My thanks to Kate and Elva—

Tina Murray, Ph. D.
Editor and writer

Jaden Terrell: The Spirit of Ink

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Still in lockdown? Need to exercise your creative muscles?  If you are going batty from inactivity or feel as if you are suffering from artistic atrophy, I would like to offer a suggestion. You should join author Jaden Terrell’s Facebook group for writers, “The Spirt of Ink.” (https://www.facebook.com/spiritofink)

“The Spirit of Ink” is a public group. Any member of Facebook is welcome to join. By participating in the individual and group activities online, you will give your Inner Writer a good workout.

For example, you may respond to writing prompts. You may try your hand at writing stories and poems. You may listen to online talks and interactive teaching sessions, along with other members. What’s more, you may pick up helpful hints about the writing biz. Even if you have never written a word in your life—but have wanted to—you can experiment with writing and learn from a master.

Jaden Terrell (https://www.jadenterrell.com) is the pen name of my dynamic friend, Beth Terrell. Beth is a highly accomplished, award-winning author, editor, and educator. In other words, she knows her way around, when it comes to crafting fun and interesting activities for bored or blocked writers.

You will find her impressive biography on her web site (see above). Her bio is posted, also, on the Sisters-in-Crime Nashville site. (https://www.sistersincrimemiddletennessee.org).

She has worked with other significant groups, as well, including The Mystery Writers of America and Killer Nashville. (https//killernashville.org).

Even if you decide you don’t want to be a writer, be sure to check out her books on her website. You will find some exciting mysteries there. Remember, reading is just the other side of writing. Reading a good mystery story can keep you as occupied as writing one! Either way, you will be exercising your imagination while staying safely at home.

Tina Murray, Ph. D.

Editor

Writing the Covid-19 Lockdown

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The Covid-19 quarantine is upon us. Here in the USA, the lockdown is in its fifth month. Many people–not sick but forced to stay home–are looking for new ways to explore and express their creativity. Some just need a way to release their feelings. Writers, particularly, have enough free time to write, some for the first time in their lives. While I have great sympathy for people affected by the illness, I have been able to use the down time creatively.

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Music City Romance Writers: Ami McConnell, Guest Speaker

 

 

 

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I am pleased that I, at last, was able to attend a monthly meeting of the Music City Romance Writers. MCRW is a local chapter of the Romance Writers of America, the national organization to which I belong. Everyone was so welcoming!

I picked the perfect day to attend. The guest speaker was publishing pro Ami McConnell (www.amimcconnell.com). She knows everything about editing and publishing. I learned a lot. 🙂

Ami’s current project is a writers’ conference, Writer Fest Nashville (writerfestnashville.com). The conference includes track for authors, songwriters, and screenwriters. If you are a writer, whether aspiring or published, you owe it to yourself to check out this exciting, new conference.

I am a writer. I write novels. My name is Tina Murray.

Www.Tinamurrayauthor.com

Www.amazon.com/author/tinamurray

 

 

CD-Launch Party: Perfectly You

 

Recently, I had the great pleasure of attending Laurie O’Shea’s launch party for her new music CD, Perfectly You.  Laurie is an accomplished singer-songwriter and musician. I thoroughly enjoyed her inspiring concert, which featured cuts from her new album. She is, indeed, a budding celebrity.

The event itself was well-attended, a testament to Laurie’s popularity. The venue for the launch was Unity of Music City in Nashville, TN.  Prior to the show, guests devoured yummy treats, while chatting and networking with one another.  After the concert—and a standing ovation—fans lined up to buy signed copies of Perfectly You. If you would like to preview and purchase a copy, please visit amazon.com or cdbaby.com.  I highly recommend it.

 

Back on the Road in 2019

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The Factory, Franklin, TN

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Now that I have regained my eyesight and obtained a new driver license, I can drive again! This is very exciting for me. At last, I am able to post here on my blog, Celebrity Road Trips.

This weekend, I attended the Tennessee Antiquarian Book Fair at The Factory, a popular venue in Franklin, Tennessee., where I happily wandered amongst the booksellers’ stalls.

I am fascinated by old books. Like works of art, they are artifacts from other times, long lost. A significant book can take on a mythical status, especially signed first editions.

Years ago, when I was an aspiring author, I attended writers’ conferences and book signings often. That is when I began to collect signed books.

For example, I now own books signed by Al Franken, Sue Grafton, and Norman Mailer, among other celebrity authors. Who knows? Perhaps, someday, these books may become the valued treasures of other bibliophiles. Do you like old books, too?

i saw some wonderful things on display. Here I have posted photos of books I admired, but did purchase, at the rare-books-show.

My latest novel: A BIG FAN OF YOURS

I am pleased to announce the release of my latest novel, A BIG FAN OF YOURS, by ArcheBooks Publishing (www.archebooks.com). A BIG FAN OF YOURS is my third novel. It is Volume 3  of my Starlight on the Gulf Series. Volume 1, A CHANCE TO SAY YES, and Volume 2,  A WILD DREAM OF LOVE, are available, as well. All three novels may be found at http://www.amazon.com/author/tinamurray or may be purchased from any other favorite bookseller. Please visit my website at http://www.tinamurrayauthor.com.  Facebook.com/tmurrayuthor; Twitter.com/tmurraythor. Reviews welcome.ABFOY-Cover

Hurricane Irma: Florida writers write out the storm

161by Tina Murray

Sept. 12, 2017

Creative expression cannot be squelched, even by a Category 4 hurricane. If anything, it was intensified this week, as 130 mph winds, blasted the Florida Keys and devastated the Sunshine State’s southwestern coast. All the while, the metaphorical keys of electronic devices clicked in wild abandon

A few weeks earlier, I had been reading the cheery posts of authors such as Beth Ciotta, author of “The Weekend Wife,” presented by James Patterson. Then, Loretta Wheeler, author of “The Verandah,” and other Texas-based authors began posting their harrowing experiences while riding out humongous Hurricane Harvey. Stunning in its ferocity, Harvey overwhelmed the city of Houston.

Only days later, I found myself inundated by posts about a huge new storm, Hurricane Irma, as it tracked its way towards the Florida peninsula, eventually unleashing its torrential wrath on a new set of authors, my Florida writer-friends on Facebook.

As an author of Florida fiction myself (amazon.com/author/tinamurray), I had a poodle in this fight. My novels, “A Chance to Say Yes” and “A Wild Dream of Love” and the yet unreleased “A Big Fan of Yours,” are set in Naples and the Caribbean isles. However, I was not in Florida at the time Irma struck. I had to rely on the observations of others.

If you want vivid, first-hand accounts of natural phenomena, who better than bestselling authors to deliver the literary goods–with photos!

Some of the writers, such thriller-author Susan C. Klaus, sheltered in place as the storm advanced. So did mystery writers Jean Harrington, author of “Murder on Pea Pike” and Nancy J. Cohen, whose latest  bad-hair-day tome is “Hair Brained.”  Nancy shared advice about weathering hurricanes and posted a photo of herself, cute and comfy, inside her safety closet.

Other writers, such as sci-fi author Linnea Sinclair, headed out of harm’s way. Bestselling women’s fiction author Heather Burch, whose new release is “Something Like Family,” chose to seek higher ground. While there, Heather updated readers on the status of her sons, who evacuated safely. Fantasy authors Sandy Lender, “Choices Meant for Gods,” and M. B. Weston, who penned the Elysian Chronicles, evacuated, also. When Sandy flew the coop, she took all her pets birds with her!

Numerous other local authors, including Lynnette Austin and J. W. Thompson, posted their experiences. Each author made a unique contribution to what became the gripping, ongoing saga of a state under siege.

On the east coast, writer Dave Barry turned anxiety into laughter in his humorous piece on Hurricane Irma preparations, which appeared in the Miami Herald. Technically speaking, Dave and I are not Facebook friends. I have never even met him. However, he is a Florida writer, and his humor did help break the online tension. Other writer-related reports brightened my outlook, as well.

In battered Key West, Hemingway’s cats were pronounced safe. No doubt Mr. H. would have documented the whole event on social media had it existed in his day. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What would Ernest Hemingway have posted on Facebook? Who knows? He might have created a page devoted to cats.

Speaking of Hemingway, you might want to check out the latest book by may Hawaiian writer-friend, James Charles, “My War with Hemingway.” I hope to blog more about it in the future, but not now. This post is about Irma!

Regardless, I am grateful that Hurricane Irma petered out as it moved north, sparing my friends, family and the mausoleum building housing the grave of my parents. As millions of people return home, survey the damage, mourn the lost, and await the coming of gasoline supplies and electrical power, they can be proud of their state’s organized response to impending catastrophe.

Life in Florida, as you see, can bring more than lazy daze on a sunny beach. It can bring intense drama and tragedy, with a smattering of comic relief.

What better place for writers?

Seriously, my heart goes out to all those affected by Hurricane Irma. I wish you blessings and a speedy recovery. Thanks to all the emergency responders who sacrificed to help the victims of the storm. Thanks to the writers who shared their stories. Thanks to my non-writer friends, such as Krista Denizeri and Sonja Miller, who also kept me informed. Thanks to everyone whose posts I shared on my Facebook page (Facebook.com/tmurrayauthor).

Speaking of writers, I am sending a good word here to bestselling author Dakota Cassidy, a social-media friend of mine who is recovering from heart surgery. My prayers for you, Dakota. I look forward to receiving your charming posts once again, and a return to cheerier times.

Stay safe, Florida.

Women in Film: Writer-Director Claudia Murray prepares to premiere “Gringa”

_MG_8227by Tina Murray

September 2, 2017

Although beautiful enough to have become a movie actor, Claudia Murray was intelligent enough to become a screenwriter, director, and producer instead, when she first arrived in The City of Angels, not long ago.

Now directing her debut film, a theatrical short, “Gringa,” Murray could not be sitting prettier. Drawing upon her own heritage–she’s Cuban-American on her mom’s side and Southern American on her dad’s–her first film reflects the resultant emotional and intellectual duality she has experienced since her childhood in Florida, as well as her empathy with the plight of the Cuban people.

Co-written with colleague Lana Link, “Gringa” features established actors Lidia Porto, Ruben Rabasa, Jorge Emanual Berrios, and Mario Barra, with Ana Cecilia in the title role. It has been produced by The Moving Picture Institute (thempi.org), a non-profit film company which specializes in making movies about freedom.

No stranger to success, Murray is also a member of the team who won a Webby in 2017 for a political-humor site:  WetheInternet.tv (Facebook.com/wethinternettv).

For more information and updates on the production and release of “Gringa,” please visit, like, follow and share:

Facebook.com/GringaFilm

#GringaFilm