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Congratulations to all my colleagues who received nominations and awards from the DWAA in their Annual Writing Competition, and a thank you to the Contest organizers and those who offered to read and judge entries in numerous categories.

This year, under the direction of DWAA President, Jen Reeder, and increased Social Media engagement, the competition attracted a record number of entries – up 24% from last year! We had entries from all over the world including Canada, Germany, Italy, Australia and Wales proving the love of dogs, and the writing of, has no boundaries.

I thank the judges for selecting my entry On the Scent of Life as the winner of the Short Fiction Category. The story was inspired by a chance meeting I’d had with a Cadaver dog handler, and his dog, in Florida several years ago. Something about that brief encounter stuck in my head and I’d always wanted to use it as a prompt for a story about the the dark side of those who do such hard work, and the impact it can have on these heroes. I wanted to share a story that ultimately shows that we can make choices to live in positivity, and in the present, and sometimes a little dog shall lead us, with a big thanks to Aimee Gertsch who also hosted my winning entry last year, Second Chances, with a similar theme. Read it here: http://4theloveofanimals.com/blog/2017/06/15/on-the-scent-of-life/

The Fiction award is special to me because many of the categories of the DWAA Writing Competition are created for works of Non-Fiction with a few designated for photography, graphics, painting, poetry and Short Fiction. I think that strong Fiction, inspired by true events, can create a story that sits long in the memory of a reader. I have no scientific evidence, it’s just something I think about as I write, even if the piece is ultimately a ghost story. 

I’m also thrilled to relay that the Captain William Lewis Judy Award, sponsored by my local American Legion Post, was presented to author and DWAA Vice President, Laura Coffey who’s book My Old Dog, (recently declared a bestseller) took top honors in the Book Category in last year’s event. Laura, a writer/editor for the TODAY Show, wrote a moving piece about the relationship between a Marine named Matt and his retired military dog, Chaney, a story that appears in My Old Dog.

I also thank blogger Kristin Avery for giving my personal account Fostering Ginger a good home on her The Daily Pip site; it was a nominee in a Rescue Writing Category in this year’s competition. I’ve included that link as well. Read it here:  http://www.thedailypip.com/search?q=Lisa+Begin-Kruysman

This year, I’ve also enjoyed being a contributor to Ruff Drafts, the official DWAA Newsletter. My feature, “Observance Breeds Awareness” presents a quarterly review of the days, weeks, and months of the year that have us thinking about all the ways man’s best friend enhances our lives, and inspires writers, bloggers and authors to find new and creative ways to share those stories with the world.

I thank those who stop by to read and those who give me appreciated feedback. May 2018,  the Year of the Dog, be a good one for all!

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Last Wednesday, the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) announced the nominees of their Regular Categories for their Annual Writing Competition. The DWAA, formed in 1935, continues to support and reward writers, bloggers and authors who capture the essence of the human-canine bond on so many levels.

This year, for the first time ever, winners of Regular Categories, and those of the Special Awards category, will be announced before the DWAA Banquet in New York City held this year on the evening of February 10th. So, many of my fellow nominees, and DWAA members, will be excitedly watching on Wednesday, December 13th, at 7:00pm (EST) on the DWAA Facebook and Twitter sites as the results roll in!

Yes, I said fellow-nominees, because for the third year in a row, I was thrilled to discover that my writing had garnered notice. In 2015, my biography of DWAA Co-Founder, Will Judy, was nominated in the Reference Book category and last year I was honored with three nominations, taking home a Maxwell in the Short Fiction category and The North Shore Animal League America Award for my blog post on the topic of Spay and Neuter.

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Teddy models the Maxwell: A very Sirius occasion!

This year, I’ve been nominated in the Short Fiction category for my short story On the Scent of Life about the personal struggle of a Cadaver dog handler, and for a guest blog post titled Fostering Ginger. Special Awards are “super secret” with no nominations, just that “And the winner is” moment! No matter the outcome, I’m honored to be nominated among such talented colleagues and wish all nominees the best.

Also last Wednesday, just after these announcements were made, I tuned into a webinar to reunite with fellow students and instructors from the Middle Grade Mastery course I’d enjoyed this past spring. The MGM course is one of many classes offered by Mira Reisberg of the Children’s Book Academy, and was co-taught by author Hillary Homzie. During the MGM course, I revised a Middle Grade novel with the personal input and one-on-one editorial guidance of Mira and enjoyed critique groups with fellow-writers from around the world, many who have remained in my Writing Universe.

During this hourlong gathering, those in attendance spoke about their journeys in securing agent representation and their submissions and subsequent review by editors. Mira and Hillary offered helpful insight to get us unstuck if we’re in a rut and suggested ways we can improve our chances of making 2018 a success for our projects.

Hillary reminded us to be mindful of our time by restricting time spent watching TV (sorry binge watchers) or on Social Media. She rightfully pointed out that even by writing one or two paragraphs a day, we are heading toward completion be it a Picture Book or a 45,000 word MG Novel. I also liked her reminder that when we’re unsure of where our character and plot are going, to stop and interview our characters to fully flush them out.

Mira encouraged us to mine our imaginations for all the possibilities and outcomes of a plot by asking the simple question, “So, what’s your premise?” It’s a deceivingly simple question, but one should be able to let an audience know the essence and purpose of your book in just a few sentences enticing readers to want to know more.

I’ve met many aspiring writers who feel that they don’t need writing instruction because they think all you need to do is think up a story and sit down at the keyboard. That’s a great start, but there’s so much more to it. Even with a gripping, well-executed manuscript, it isn’t easy to engage overworked literary agents and editors, or small presses and The Big Five publishers.

Part of the appeal of the MGM course, and others offered by the CBA, are that they include the involvement of some well-established agents and editors. Scholarships are also available and some students even receive a Golden Ticket from a participating agent, or editor, with an invaluable invitation to submit a Full Manuscript for serious consideration! The CBA courses use Facebook as their meeting base, so if you do take a course, be advised you’ll need to set up an account to participate.

My MGM project has endured many revisions, title changes and winding paths, but with each turn, it becomes a stronger story and I’m hopeful that it will find the right home in the coming year, embracing the mantra that it will land on “the right desk, at the right time”. While there is no course to find the exact moment of that winning combination, taking writing courses like those offered by CBA just might make that match a reality.

For the entire list of DWAA Writer’s Competition Nominees:

https://dogwriters.org/2017-nominees/

For more information on the Children’s Book Academy visit:

http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/

For a free webinar and Scholarship info: https://wj168-366180.pages.infusionsoft.net/

Work hard and practice Enlightened Persistence. To be continued!

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Presentation to Manasquan River Artists Group (NJ)

Since 1990, I’ve participated in more than 500 art shows, my work has been displayed at numerous venues in the Tri-state area, and I’ve served as a board member and jurist, helping to organize several arts events. I’m grateful for all the judges, curators, colleagues and my clients who helped me to thrive as a productive working artist.

In my High School Art Studio, a perceptive art instructor encouraged me to use acrylics sensing it was a good medium for me (after watching me struggle with pastel and water colors). She also guided me to create my first painting on slate, a very forgiving surface. I’d go on to produce hundreds of these paintings. I still love working with the natural lines and quirks of each “rock” and find the slate surfaces (and now masonite) very receptive to acrylic paint, perfect for layering and changing one’s mind! Acrylic paints are also incredibly adaptable; just add water to thin for a watery effect, use additives to create body, highlight with oil pastels and spray on some gloss finish – magic!

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In 1990, I began working with vintage postcards making them the focal point of my work. Although I haven’t kept track, I’ve created and sold well over 1,000 pieces. My artwork hangs on the walls of offices and homes throughout the world. 

One of my former writing instructors once said to me that she believed writers were born, not made. Many feel that way about artists. Although art has always been a part of my life, I didn’t set out to have a career as a Fine Artist (or an author), but if it is true that we are born, or destined for a vocation, than the Creative World is one where I’ve learned I belong, even with all its inherent set backs.

The Art Show life presents many challenges; rain storms, high winds, blizzards, the ability (or inability) of an event promoter to promote, the health of the current tourism season (in the Northeast, H. Sandy ended many events), a weak economy and competitive venues offered by on-line options.

Then there are the long rides to get to show sites and the physical labor of putting up tents and displays and dealing with “neighbors” who encroach on your designated (and well paid-for) show space, or complain about how terrible an event is (I actually began writing as a way to shut out their negativity).

While I enjoyed my community of fellow-artists and customers, many who became friends, working so many weekends caused me to miss  numerous occasions like weddings and family reunions.

For the past seven years or so, I’ve spent time transitioning to the life of a writer, but lately, missing the painting process, I’ve spent more time on that side of the loft (see previous post). Now, my aim is to create on-line marketing initiatives to help promote my artwork, relying on my Social Media platform, while retaining a handful of in-person events. It’s also rewarding to reconnect with returning customers who are happy to reconnect and add some new pieces to their collections!

As I patiently await some publishing news (something that is ongoing and comes with the territory), I find peace, inspiration and “my rock” in the process of painting where I can just add water and go with the flow or start over when ever I feel the need.

To follow me along the Creative Path,  and of course check out art (and writing). Please LIKE my professional page and visit often as I’ll be posting paintings on a daily basis throughout December (and beyond). https://www.facebook.com/LisaBeginKruysmanAuthorAndArtist/

Thank you.

Hooper

"Is it dog week yet?"

"Is it dog week yet?"

Michelle Mongelli and Wheezey

Pike, at Geiger Key

Hooper in the Keys

Hooper in the Keys

“Two Culprits” by Steven Hall

Logan & Koda

DJ

DJ Goes to Westminster

Zac and Cooper

"Look daddy, I can fly!"

“Hooper” – Best in Snow

Pita in Matt’s Garden

Hooper with cousin Roxy, Summer 2009

Me and my “Hoop”

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