Wake Up Your Creativity with Art Before Breakfast.

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Do you wish you could carve out a little creativity in your day, but are convinced there are not enough hours in the day?

We know the feeling.

But despair no longer! Artist Danny Gregory, creativity guru to thousands across the globe, is here to help with this unique guide. Serving up a hearty helping of inspiration, Gregory offers 5 to 10 minute exercises for every skill level that fit into any schedule – whether on a plane, in a meeting, or at the breakfast table – along with practical instruction on techniques and materials, plus strategies for making work that’s exciting, unintimidating and fulfilling.

So why should you make art part of your everyday? We will let Danny take the lead here…

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But not only that, art can fulfill so much more…

BE-HERE-NOW Art stops time. When you draw or paint what’s around you, you see it for what it is. Instead of living in a virtual world, as we do most of the time these days, you will be present in the real one. Instead of focusing on all the things whirring in your head, you will be able to stop, clear your mind, take a deep breath, and just be. You don’t need a mantra or a guru. Or an app. Just a pen.

TELL-YOUR-STORYLife is just a long succession of small epiphanies. You need to stop and seize them. By making art, you will be recording what you are living through and what you are learning about it. A drawing and a sentence or two in a sketchbook turns those everyday moments into something significant. Your art will set a frame around it and give you perspective on what really matters. Over time you will build up a book of memories—a true record of what’s important in your life.

WELCOME-TO-THE-WORLD It’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful. And the most beautiful things have character and walnutsexperience built into them. There’s a lot to learn and appreciate in a chipped mug, a half-eaten apple, the tiny lines in the leather of your dashboard. Making art will show you how much you already have. Your real treasures. A brand-new Maserati is a lot less beautiful to draw than a rusty old pickup.

SUDOKU You will never be bored or waste time again. Every day is full of those moments between activities. Waiting in the doctor’s office, watching mindless TV. Instead of reading tweets on your phone, you’ll make a piece of art. Every minute of your day counts. Make it worthwhile.

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We all live in chaos. It’s the natural state of things. Physicists call it entropy—everything is always changing and unraveling and ultimately turning into cosmic mush. That’s why your desk gets cluttered and your calendar gets filled. It’s physics.

Creativity is the act of shaping the mush of the world around us into something—of creating your own order. I’m not talking about going crazy and compulsive with a label maker and color-coded files. I’m talking about having a vision of what you want things to be like and moving toward it.

I assume that, deep down, you want to have more creativity in your life—that’s why you have this book in your hands. But you just don’t know how to fit it into the chaos of your day. There are always too many things to do, too many obligations and chores that take precedence over you. Maybe you think to yourself, “Sure, I’d love to make art, but I don’t have the time to indulge myself right now. Maybe on the weekend, on vacation, when I retire, etc.”

But creativity isn’t a luxury. It’s the essence of life. It’s what distinguishes us from the mush. And it’s why our ancestors survived while other less adaptive critters perished. They responded to change by being creative in some way, by inventing a new answer to the chaos.

And that’s what you need to do to make the most of your life, every day of it. To be inventive, open, flexible, in touch. To have perspective on what matters to you. To deal with change without being overwhelmed. And that’s what creativity offers you.

Creativity can become a habit that fits into your life, like Pilates or flossing, only a lot more fulfilling. You just need to shift your perspective on what it is to be creative. It doesn’t mean you have to be a full-time artist. It doesn’t mean you need lots of training or supplies. Or time. It doesn’t mean you need to be a so-called expert.

You just have to be you—and express what that means.

ART-BEFORE

Art Before Breakfast is out now,find out more about here.

Want to find out more about Danny Gregory? You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and on his Blog

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Recipe for the Weekend – Adventure Bread from Josey Baker Bread

Time to put your bread baking skills to the test with this delicious gluten-free Adventure Loaf from Josey Baker Bread!

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED

FOODSTUFF TOOLS
rolled oats measuring cups or scale
sunflower seeds measuring spoons
pumpkin seeds big mixing bowl
almonds oil or nonstick spray
flax seeds loaf pan (about 8 by 4 in/20 by 10 cm)
psyllium seed husk mixing spoons (optional)
chia seeds cooling rack (optional)
sea salt, fine grind
maple syrup
olive oil
water

Sometimes you need a bread that is so dense, so hearty, so jam-packed full of seeds and grains (and devoid of air) that it will sustain you on your mightiest of adventures. That’s what this bread is for. But that’s not all it is for . . . it’s also gluten-free! That will either entice you or turn you off, but either way I really hope that you give it a shot because it is incredible, and it is suuuper healthy. It’s unlike any other bread in this book, in that there isn’t even any flour in it, and it isn’t fermented—it’s basically just a bunch of seeds held together with a little bit of psyllium seed husk and chia seeds. I started making it in the bakery because we kept having folks come in and ask us for gluten-free bread, and I got tired of saying no. Up until we made this bread, I had mostly been turned off by gluten-free breads, because it seemed like they were all just trying to imitate wheat breads, and failing miserably. But this bread stands on its own—it is gluten-free and proud of it. Special thanks goes out to Sarah Britton, blogger at My New Roots; her recipe inspired this bread.

Adventure Bread

Gather your foodstuff and tools.

Toast the seeds. Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C. Spread the sunflower and pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and toast until they start to brown, about 15 minutes, stirring halfway between baking.

Measure ingredients. Dump this stuff into a big bowl.

1 LOAF 2 LOAVES 4 LOAVES
rolled oats 2 ¼ cups/235 g 4 ½ cups/470 g 9 cups/940 g
sunflower seeds 1 cup/160 g 2 cups/320 g 4 cups/640 g
pumpkin seeds ½ cup/65 g 1 cups/130 g 2 cups/260 g
almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped ¾ cup/90 g 1 ½ cups/180 g 3 cups/360 g
flax seeds ¾ cup/120 g 1 ½ cups/240 g 3 cups/480 g
psyllium seed husk 1/3 cup/25 g 2/3 cup/50 g 1 1/3 cups/100 g
chia seeds 3 Tbsp/25 g 6 Tbsp/50 g ¾ cup/100 g
Sea salt, fine grind 2 tsp/12 g 4 tsp/24 g 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp/48 g

Then pour in all the wet stuff:

1 LOAF 2 LOAVES 4 LOAVES
maple syrup 2 Tbsp/40 g ¼ cup/80 g ½ cup/160 g
olive oil ¼ cup/55 g ½ cup/110 g 1 cup/220 g
water 2 ½ cups/600 g 5 cups/1,200 g 10 cups/2,400 g

Mix it all up, scoop into pan. Oil your loaf pan, and then mush up your “dough” real good with your strong hands or a big spoon. Take pride in your mush-job, this is all of the handling you’re going to do with this “dough.” Once it’s mixed real good, scoop it into your oiled pan and smooth out the top so it looks nice. Then stick that guy in the fridge and leave it alone for at least a few hours, up to a whole day.

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Bake it. Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F/200°C. Bake for about an hour or so, then take it out and gently remove the loaf from the pan. Let it cool on a cooling rack for at least 2 hours (YES, two whole hours). Don’t rush it here folks, this bread is D*E*N*S*E, and if you don’t wait for it to cool, it really won’t be as yummy.

Toast and eat. This bread is definitely best sliced nice and thin (around ½ inch/12 mm) and then toasted up and spread with whatever your heart desires. And don’t worry, if you’re adventuring somewhere without toaster access (like a gorgeous river in the middle of nowhere), it will still be scrumptious, I promise.

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Find out more about Josey Baker & his book on our website; Josey Baker Bread and check him out on Twitter.

Text copyright © 2014 by Josey Baker
Photographs copyright © 2014 by Erin Kunkel

Secret Sidekicks – D.James’s Personal Assistant

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The Who, The What, and The When; and illustrated love letter to the people (and pets!) behind some of histories most legendary figures.

Meet, JOYCE MCLENNAN 1943 – D. JAMES’S PERSONAL ASSISTANT

When Joyce McLennan takes a London bus to work, the slender woman with patrician features arrives at the Holland Park home of multi-award-winning English writer P. D. James, the queen of British mystery, creator of detective and poet Adam Dalgliesh. She is also known as Baroness James of Holland Park, OBE, FRSA, FRSL, recipient of seven honorary doctorates and four honorary fellowships, and a life peer in the House of Lords; but, after thirty-seven years of working together, to McLennan the esteemed author is simply “Phyllis.” McLennan was hired after the publication of James’s seventh novel.

McLennan’s intelligence and organisation complement her natural kindness. James notes in her autobiography, Time to Be in Earnest, that McLennan is “unfailingly good-tempered,” a quality James could count on as her popularity rose and, with it, the demands on her time: “She is high among the small group of friends on whom I can rely to keep me sane.” Their process evolved from McLennan’s original job as part-time typist, working from home and raising two young children. Then, James would dictate a tape from her handwritten notes. McLennan or her husband, Mike, who worked for James’s publisher, Faber & Faber, would often pick up the tape, sometimes hidden at James’s side gate in a large china pig. Today, McLennan transcribes into a computer and prints pages for James to edit, leaving the famed mystery author to concentrate on research, plotting, and writing.

The increasing time needed to attend to the business side of being a successful author found James and McLennan tackling the mail together, which soon spread to modern e-mails and includes requests for photos, autographs, signed books for charity auctions, interviews and advice. When James travelled, McLennan would deal with incoming mail and day-to-day matters in her absence, leading James to say: “What would I ever do without her?” In recent years she has taken to accompanying James on longer trips.

Working alongside a popular figure serving on various committees, McLennan’s support sees the baroness through all of these activities, from chairing the Booker Prize panel of judges to a sixteen-year tenancy as president of the Society of Authors. After James’s appointment to the Church of England’s Liturgical Commission, McLennan’s humour showed in her response to its bulging paperwork. She created a file labelled “God.”

McLennan has remained an unobtrusive ally to James, someone UK journalist Kate Kellaway terms “secretary, friend and all-round prop.” James hints at the closeness of their relationship in her Author’s Note from 2001’s Death in Holy Orders: “I am particularly grateful to my secretary, Mrs. Joyce McLennan, whose help with this novel went far beyond her skill with a computer.”

Both genteel women appear most unlikely a duo to be so steeped in murder and betrayal. Yet the work ethic to produce complex mysteries persists, and when James recuperated from cardiac issues in a private Oxford hospital, McLennan travelled from London twice a week to help finish work on the most recent Dalgleish novel, The Private Patient. James is known for her sense of setting and the psychological depths she brings to her mysteries, as well as her strong descriptions, as in this excerpt from that same novel: “There was only the crack of the smashed bottle, like a pistol shot, the stink of whisky, a moment of searing pain which passed almost as soon as she felt it and the warm blood flowing from her check, dripping onto the seat of the chair, her mother’s anguished cry.”

McLennan’s calm, steadfast backing has allowed the author to continue writing into her nineties, yet she is rarely photographed or interviewed. A native of Pinner in the Middlesex area, McLennan is now a widow, and with her boys grown and out on their own, she shares her home in the west London suburb of Ealing with two cats, Tyler and Rafferty.

After decades of Joyce McLennan’s service as James’s trusted aide, it should come as no surprise that when James combined her two lifelong enthusiasms—writing detective fiction and the novels of Jane Austen—to create her sequel to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, she chose this fitting dedication for 2011’s Death Comes to Pemberley:

To Joyce McLennan

Friend and personal assistant who has typed

my novels for thirty-five years

With affection and gratitude

written by MARNI GRAFF

www.auntiemwrites.com

illustrated by JULIA ROTHMAN

www.juliarothman.com

Secret Sidekicks – EDGAR ALLAN POE’S FOSTER FATHER

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Partners and Spouses,

Muses and Lovers,

Relatives and Assistnats,

Neighbours and Friends…

These are the unsung heroes of history.

Discover another literary #SecretSidekicks from The Who, The What, and the When:

JOHN ALLAN 1779 – 1834EDGAR ALLAN POE’S FOSTER FATHER

John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia, brought Edgar Poe to live with them in 1811, when he was two years old. Edgar was an orphan. His father, David Poe, had died sometime during the preceding year, his mother, Eliza, early that December. At first, the informal adoption by an affluent businessman without children of his own seemed like a happy one: Frances

Allan and her maiden sister, who resided with the Allan’s, doted on the boy. Household accounts show that Edgar was well provided with books and toys, and in his correspondence John mentions Edgar often and with pride. In surviving early letters, Edgar addresses Allan as “My dear Pa.”

But by the time that Edgar Allan Poe was a student at the new University of Virginia in 1826, something in this relationship had gone wrong. The evidence is incomplete and conflicting, so it is hard to tell exactly what transpired. Poe claimed that Allan, having agreed to support him in his studies, left him without sufficient funds to pay his tuition, room and board. He was forced to turn to gambling, he said, as a last resort to pay his bills, and he ended up in debt. For his part, Allan seems to have formed a bad opinion of Poe’s character during the boy’s adolescence, calling him miserable, sulky, ill-tempered and without gratitude. He claimed that he had come to Charlottesville to pay all of Poe’s debts, apart from those incurred through gambling. It’s not clear whether he indeed did this, or whether he did or did not help Poe find employment later on that year.

What caused the rift? There is no satisfying answer to this question, though Allan’s own biography offers some clues. During Poe’s childhood, Allan suffered financial losses when his attempt to establish his trading business, Ellis & Allan, in London failed. Could this have made him feel less generous, or act less patiently toward his foster son? After the Allan family returned to Richmond, Allan was unfaithful to his wife. Poe, who was devoted to Frances, may have known about this, disapproved, and treated Allan coldly. Whatever the reasons, the fact remains that what started as a warm, supportive relationship devolved into fractiousness and mutual dislike, such that Allan in his “recommendation” for Poe to West Point wrote: “Frankly, sir, do I declare he is no relation to me whatever.” When Poe’s foster father was dying, he went to visit him. (John Allan was remarried by then and had a legitimate heir). Edgar had to physically push aside John’s second wife to get to him. As he approached, Allan raised his cane to strike Poe if he came closer and ordered him out of the room. This was the last time that they met.

Allan’s influence on Poe, then, is complicated, to say the least. He was the reason that Poe gained an education. He took Poe abroad, his first and only journey outside the United States. This encounter with the Old World, with the long settled, storied landscapes of England and Scotland, fed the settings of Poe’s fiction. But what about Allan’s rejection of Poe, whether justifiable or not? Allan was one of a list of parental figures to abandon Poe during his young life. So many of Poe’s stories center on houses and families that have turned from noble and grand to unfamiliar, decadent and broken, and on people who at first appear to be one thing but are actually something else entirely. The uncanny, the unheimlich, is most fundamentally a feeling that the skin may slip off the world at any moment, that what is familiar, homey, and welcoming may turn strange and hostile without warning. Clearly, Poe’s early experiences could have engendered such a sense of things. This cannot be attributed entirely to John Allan. But Allan’s apparent inconsistency, his inexplicably altered affections for his foster son, can’t have done anything to dispel this frightening outlook that so permeates Poe’s fiction.

written by EMILY MITCHELL

sites.google.com/site/lastsummeroftheworldbook

illustrated by BYRON EGGENSCHWILER

www.byronegg.com

Top Five Tips for surviving National Novel Writing Month

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National Novel Writing Month was born on the 1st July 1999 when Chris Baty and 21 friends each set out to write a novel, in ONE month. It sounds daft and frankly terrifying! But bear with me, it’s been going since we partied like it was 1999, in 1999, so there has to be something to it.

The first month is laid out in the introduction of Chris’s guide to participating in National Novel Writing Month; No Plot? No Problem! so I wont divulge to much here, but in Chris’s own words…

“The short version is that our novels, despite our questionable motives and pitiful experience, came out okay. Not great. But not horrible, either. And, more surprising than that, the writing process had been really, really fun.

And after the noveling ended on August 1, my sense of what was possible for myself, and those around me, was forever changed. If my friends and I could write passable novels in a month, I knew, anyone could do it.

Which is how the whole thing really got rolling.”

The years went by with, as you would expect, successes and failures but also “overly complicated T-shirt schemes” and Tony Danza…all leading us to the present day and the 16th year of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

You can read more about the history of Novel Writing Month on the website…http://nanowrimo.org/history

On this 16th Year chroniclebooks have brought out a revised, updated and expanded edition of No Plot? No Problem! complete with new tips, tricks and advice from 15 years of experience. We have pulled out our Top Five here to get you started.

Notebooks at the ready…

1. Find the time…

It is the reason those of us who dream of writing a novel don’t…

“I don’t have the time”

Chris lay’s out how to find the time with a beautifully simple system (there are even treats involved!) Finding Your Forgo-able with the Time Finder

Here is how it works: Before bed every night sit down and write down everything you did that day, i.e;

7.30-8.00 Got ready for work

8.00 – 8.45 Commute

8.45 – 9.00 Brought coffee

9.05 – 10.00 Breakfast & e-mails at my desk

etc…

Once you have completed your daily log reward yourself with a treat, go to sleep and repeat for one week. Once you have your week schedule underline every REQUIRED activity in red; basic hygiene requirements, what you need to do to keep your job, eating. Next mark the HIGHLY DESIRED in a different colour. If push came to shove you could do without these for a month, but would cause major stress or hardship, like getting your daily caffeine fix and attending birthday parties. Finally mark all the FORGO-ABLE activities that you can give up for a month. Like Facebook stalking, online shopping, TV watching and even recreational reading. Add-up how many hours you spend on average doing these FORGO-ABLE activities (be honest!) These are the hours you will over the next 30 days dedicate to your novel…

Now that you have the time and still have a job, a life, friends…

2. Turning Close Friends into Obligations…

A friendly pat on the back wont keep you writing…but fear is your new best friend.

Without a certain amount of terror pushing you towards your goal you will lost momentum and quit. But your friends and family can terrify you in  ways you never imagined…

i. Bragging; the more you brag about you novel the more expectation from friends and family.

ii. Put a bet on it; this could be money for forfeits . Think Ross in Friends encouraging Joey to write his play…

3. Don’t write withing view of a bed…

The lure of a nap is simply too great!

4. The Power of Headphones.

Headphones with or without music create a social buffer around you. They also dampen the outside world.

5. Keeping Beth from Bertha.

As you christen each of your characters write their names down on an easily accessed piece of paper or computer file. You will be amazed how easily the names “drift” and Mick becomes Mike…

So there are, your five tips to get you started! Chris has plenty more advice, sure to get your ready for your 30 day challenge, in his book and online on the National Novel Writing Month website.

Ready? Set, NOVEL!

Feel like joining in? There is still time to sign-up!

http://nanowrimo.org/

No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty £9.99 – Paperback – OUT NOW.