The Summer of Stories

I didn’t manage to post anything on this blog all summer long, but I did manage to write this summer. The credit goes to my ten-year-old daughter. Story Club was her idea.

Story Club met on Friday afternoons this summer, usually in our backyard. It was just the two of us with our notebooks sitting in the sunshine. My daughter decided how it would go: guided meditation to relax, poem collaboration to get started, a reading of writing advice or a particularly good bit from a book, then ten minutes of free writing.

It was simple. The whole thing usually only took about an hour, though sometimes we got really into the poem and went long. But it was the best thing about my summer. Easily so.

I won’t lie. When my daughter put forth the idea of Story Club, I went along with it for her. It’ll be good for her, I thought. She loves to write, and I don’t want her to lose track of that while school is out.

It probably was good for her, but it was even better for me. I used to love to write. I wrote almost constantly. I was always scribbling in my journal or clicking the keys on my computer. Somewhere along the way I lost track of that. I still kept a journal, but the little books took longer to fill. I still collected story ideas, but the ideas never went anywhere. Those Friday afternoons in our backyard changed that for me. Story Club reminded me of something that I truly loved. And it gave me a chance to share it with my daughter.

Perhaps I still don’t write as much as I used to, but the creative energy I found at Story Club this summer led me to tabling at the Twin Cities Zine Fest this year, which I hadn’t done in a few years. Plus my daughter joined me at my Zine Fest table with her own zine this year. We spent the day surrounded by writers, artists, and zinesters, and we left buzzing with ideas and excitement for what we might do next. So many people who came by our table encouraged my ten-year-old to keep writing, keep making zines. They would tell me to support her in whatever she did, and I would think, Is it strange that she is helping me stay creative as much I am helping her? I don’t know the answer, but I’m glad we have each other.

Stolen Sharpies, Sneaky Copies, and Zine Culture

ssrSomeone was always handing out zines at rock shows back in the ’90s.  I always took whatever people were handing out because I was too shy to do otherwise back then.  I amassed a small collection of zines this way.  Some were among the most wonderful things I’d ever read; some weren’t to my taste.  It didn’t matter.  I was in love with zines regardless.

In a world before blogs and social media, zines were my introduction to the idea that we can all be writers, artists, and publishers.  We all have stories or ideas to share–and the power to share them.  Perhaps that’s old news to young people now.  They are growing up with all sorts of tools for sharing from the usual social networks to video and more.  But, for me, a world opened up with zines as a way to read and share ideas that didn’t have a place in traditional media and that didn’t have to be perfect to be out there.

So when an opportunity to review the latest edition of Stolen Sharpie Revolution by Alex Wrekk came up, I jumped at it.  This DIY book, in its 5th edition now, has been around for over ten years as a guide to all things zine related from basic how-to to the next level stuff like setting up zine events.  It is a starting place for those new to zines, an idea generator for those looking to try something new, and a general ode to the creative exchange in whatever form it takes.  I, of course, loved it.

It’s a small book with a lot of information–and a lot more information online–from the practical (fair use and copyright) to the fascinating (make your own paper) with an emphasis on the DIY spirit.  It’s not perfect, but no zine ever is.  A few typos only add to the general “work in progress” feel to it.  Do you need a how-to about zines before you make one?  No, not at all.  But if you are curious about what zinesters like Alex Wrekk and her contributors think you might want to know as you are getting into zines, Stolen Sharpie Revolution is a must read.

I hope it inspires you to share your ideas, art, or story.  I know it has reinvigorated my desire to be a part of zine culture.


And there’s a giveaway!  Alex is giving away 5 print copies of Stolen Sharpie Revolution + a Custom Stolen Sharpie with each one. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here.

Thoughts on Love

What does love feel like to you?

sonoffortuneI found this description in Son of Fortune by Victoria McKernan:

“Aiden had almost starved to death once.  Love felt exactly the same, only the complete opposite.  Starvation had scraped out the center of his bones, numbed his hands and feet and shimmered his vision.  It conjured weird, distant music in the back of his brain, and made everything he touched feel oddly unreal.  The same symptoms seized him now, only the ache in his gut was a lump of silver.  The strings that fastened his heart in his chest had come undone, so the muscle skidded around with every beat.  His lungs could never get enough air, for the air contained the breaths she had exhaled.”

I have collected more thoughts and ideas about love from books and poems in a zine that is on sale for $0.99 for Valentine’s Day week.  Love… contains quotations from Kate DiCamillo, Rainer Maria Rilke, and everyone in between.  It may make a unique gift for someone special or a little treat for yourself.  Either way, I hope you enjoy it.


P.S. Son of Fortune is the sequel to The Devil’s Paintbox.  Both are excellent historical novels for teens.  Recommended for readers who like adventure with just a touch of romance.

Zinefest 2013 Recap

Yesterday was a long day.  I was up early for last minute stapling, and then I was off to spend my day asking where people were from.  Last year I asked people at the Zinefest to share a book they had read recently.  This year I tied my question in to my new zine, Whereverland, which explores my here-and-there roots, with a new question: Where are you from?


For many, it was a straightforward question.  They wrote their answers with confidence.  Others shared several answers.  “I’m not from only one place,” a woman said almost apologetically as she wrote the names of three different cities.  By the end of the day, I had collected many, many places.  Some came with tidbits of trivia: Did you know that Waseca, WI is the home of Cool Whip?  I did not.  Some were from far away (three from China, two from Germany, one from Australia), but most were from Minneapolis or very close.  I loved the neighborhood pride that popped up occasionally.  Powderhorn, Northeast, Bryn Mawr, and Uptown are all represented at least once.


As for me, I like to say that I’m from Minnesota, but you can read more about that in Whereverland. :)

Fall is for dreaming

Fall is for dreaming.  The leaves haven’t even started to turn yet, but it seems that we have our eyes fixed on what lies ahead.


My daughter’s school sent home a blank cloud for us to share our hopes for the new school year.   The new minister at the Unitarian Universalist church I’ve been attending asked the audience at last Sunday’s service to scribble aspirations for the upcoming season of assemblies on scraps of paper, which he collected and read aloud.   My partner is already figuring out ways to make his fall as fulfilling as his summer was with music and travel at the forefront.  It’s catching, I think.  The more everyone talks about their dreams, writes about them, the more I start to imagine my own cloud filled with writing and ideas and opportunities.  Thanks for the push, everyone.

Fall is in the air, and it is beautiful.

This week and next are all about zines. The Twin Cities Zine Fest is September 21st at Powderhorn Park.  I’ll have new stuff available, and I hope to see you there.


Free Art Fridays

A zine hiding at the Minneapolis Central Library last week.
A zine hiding at the Minneapolis Central Library last week.

Art is everywhere.  I say that all the time, but on Fridays, that’s actually a little more true because there are people in the Twin Cities hiding art in unexpected places for you to find.  I’ve done it the last couple of Fridays with my zine about becoming a mother, Will There Be Smoking?.  You can join too as a hider or a seeker.  Read more about it in this article from the Pioneer Press:

Here’s how it works: Artists are invited to create a small piece of work, hide it somewhere in the Twin Cities, then on Friday, post photo clues on Facebook and/or Twitter. The finder is asked to post or tweet a photo to let the group know the art has found a good home.

Of course, not all of the art is found by group members. A random passer-by could just as easily snag a piece, adding to the mystery.

“There’s some joy thinking about who discovers it and thinking about where to hide it,” Wang said.

There’s a Facebook group and a hashtag to use.  Keep your eyes open.  The whole city is a potential hiding place for some little treasure.  If that isn’t a happy thought for today, I don’t know what is.  :)

A New Zine for Women’s History Month

For Women’s History Month, I dug into my own history.   Several years ago, I started a zine about the books that shaped my ideas of feminism and femininity, but I set it aside.  I revisited the idea back in 2011 when Bitch Magazine published their list of books for the young adult feminist reader, and the resulting controversy over the titles left me too intimidated to share my own such list.  It took a while, but I got over my intimidation.

Here is the final version of Being a Girl: A Recommended Reading List:


If you peek inside, you can see it is a mix of the old (typed) and the new (handwritten).  My original book picks and comments are unedited, but I couldn’t resist adding my current thoughts.


You can order it online here.  

Also, if you are interested in books and feminism, you might check out a new series from First the Egg in which feminist readers share childhood favorites and current children’s book picks.  Watch for my contribution, and share your thoughts in the comments! :)

Zinefest 2012

I spent this past Saturday immersed in the best of local DIY publishing at the Twin Cities Zinefest.  It was a lot of fun, but I must say that I was so completely exhausted by the end of the day.  The highlight for me was The Penny Project.  You might recall from last year that the table next to me was offering pennies for your thoughts with the promise to collect the thoughts into a zine for the following year.  They made good on their promise, though I am sad to say that not only did I not leave a thought this year, but I actually forgot to buy the Penny Project zine.  I am so disappointed!  Here’s hoping it finds its way into Infinite Monster’s Etsy shop.

I was inspired by the Penny Project last year to try my own interactive element to my Zinefest table this year.  I’m always curious about what people have read, and I figured that zinesters would have excellent taste in books.  I was right, of course.  :)

I loved talking books with people, and I’ll be blogging more about all the responses I got later this week.  So stay tuned!

I sold out of Adrift and Fake Arm 101 (which is the updated version of this zine from last year), and I met so many interesting people.  All in all, I would count the 2012 Zinefest a success!  Thank you to everyone who made it possible. :)

My zines are available for purchase online in my zine shop.

In anticipation of Mother’s Day

A couple of Mother’s Days ago, I wrote my story as part of a writing class for moms.

We were supposed to explore what motherhood has meant to us and how we have changed since becoming mothers.  What started in that class eventually became a zine, Will There Be Smoking? (and other questions), that covered the usual mom stuff along with what was personal to me–the creative block that plagued early motherhood for me and my step away from the religion of my youth.

This Mother’s Day, I am particularly grateful.  The past four years have meant many changes for my family, and we are happier for them.

Do you know a mom interested in exploring doubt?  Why not buy my zine?  It makes a great gift. :)

For more about secular family life, see my Secular Thursday page.

Art & Artpolice in an afternoon

Sometimes I actually manage to get out on the town without a four-year-old in tow.  This usually happens with weeks of planning and with a definite Plan for the Evening, but a couple of weekends ago, we were spontaneously without child for an afternoon and evening.  I knew just what I wanted to do: the latest exhibit at the Walker Art Center.

I’m not sure I really qualify as an “art person” since I really know very little about it, but I am pretty much exactly what you would call a “zine person.”  And it isn’t every museum exhibit that puts zines on display.  Frank Gaard: Poison & Candy is a retrospective exhibit that features the work of Twin Cities art legend, Frank Gaard.  In addition to Gaard’s provocative paintings featuring religious and sexual imagery, the exhibit also includes illustrations from the Artpolice zine that he edited for decades which satirized the art world with wit and humor.  Mpls.St.Paul Magazine described it this way: “Artpolice was free speech in all its messy glory, a place where stupidity and brilliance co-existed on the same page, creating a hilariously subversive form of cognitive dissonance.”

I was, of course, intrigued by the description.  If you are similarly intrigued, I recommend the exhibit.  Leave the kiddos at home.

You can learn more about Frank Gaard and see photos of his home and work in this piece from MPR or hear him talk about his work in a gallery talk on February 9th.


Disclosure: I am not affiliated with the Walker Art Center. My family received a gift membership to the Walker from my parents. Thanks, Mom and Dad! :)