Saturday, August 30, 2014

Steampunk Granny Begs Your Patience


Battling The Media Beast

Sometimes progress comes with grappling hooks and if you're tech challenged like me, then you realize that something you do on one media...BIG SIGH!!!! messes up another media.

So here is the story. I love posting pictures with my blog posts. People love the pictures that I add to my posts, so I always make sure to take advantage of every photo opportunity when I'm out and about.

This year, my husband got me a smart phone..."You'll need it now that you've published your first book to keep your schedule updated, etc. etc. etc.

We added the Google app and along with the Map Quest app, I also received every freaking picture I had ever posted on Google. No problem, right?



I started deleting some of the pictures from my smart phone Google gallery...I hear those moans out there!


All the photos on my blog have disappeared....gone to Google Heaven or where most of my stuff normally lands, The Russian Space Station. I'm guessing that right about now, the Russian Cosmonauts are saying "What the f**k is that knucklehead doing now?"

I intend to go back and repost my pictures, but it will take some time.

I'm old don't pick on me.

I will work as fast as possible in completing this task. Thank you so much for your patience!!! Love all my little zombie snacks.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Part Two of Steampunk Granny's Interview with Artist Lily K. Doyle


I'm back and with the second part of my interview with the amazing entrepreneur and artist, Lily K. Doyle. So let's pick up where we left off in our interview from yesterday.

Marie Gilbert: “I know you do parties for both adults and children, but did you ever have a client who after attending your party decided to take up art?”

Lily K. Doyle: Yes, one client after attending one of my art parties enrolled in a night art course and there was another person who had not painted in years and ever since coming to my art party, she’s picked it back up again. She tells me all the time how happy she is about that.  I once did a little boy’s party, it was adorable. He wanted all his relatives to paint with him. It was him, his little brother, grandparents, aunts and uncles and his parents. It was such a cute little party with a Star Wars theme. We all painted little Star Wars space scenes. So, there were people at that party who’ve never been exposed to art and they just walked out feeling so proud. I mean I’ll help people if they want me to and even paint part of it for them or if they want to do it themselves then I just guide them.

There are also cases where you make a connection at one of the parties and all of a sudden, you’ve made a friend.”


Marie Gilbert: “You’ve said that when you started there weren’t that many painting parties, but now, they are all over the place. How do you keep your edge without giving too much away, but what do you use besides canvas?”

Lily K. Doyle: “I grew up in a house where my mom’s business was organizing arts and crafts shows at the Malls back in the day. So I’ve been exposed to all kinds of art my entire life and what’s funny is when I started the paint party business, I had to reteach myself how to paint because when you’re a teacher; you don’t have time for yourself.

But, I am all things crafty and artsy, so my goal is to continue with the canvas painting parties, which I simply love, but I am going to bring in other types of crafts. I’ve already started and people can go to my Facebook Fan page to see what I’m doing. One new craft I’ve recently started are hand painted wine glasses. It’s been a huge hit!

I have three or four other arts and crafts parties that are coming up and I’m really excited about them. I’m busy working on the samples now. Hopefully, people will have a paint party with me and then they will visit me again to do a different art project. This will expose them to another kind of art. I also want to do some on location events; I have all kinds of plans in mind.”

Marie Gilbert: “Do people request a certain type of art?”

Lily K. Doyle: “Yes, I have a party coming up in September, a woman who’s been to two of my painting parties. She sent me a little image clip of a tree, which happened to be in the style of Gustav Klimt’s “Tree of Life.” So I went on line and looked at a whole bunch of images and created a painting just for her. This business can literally be customized to any group or organization. If a little girl likes horses, I can do a horse painting. It’s just been so rewarding.


I have to design my paintings simple enough so I can reteach them to my clients. I keep saying that I need time to find my own painting style and paint my own designs, so I can see how far I can stretch as an artist. But I have to put that on hold for now, I’m just too busy between my day job as an art teacher, Undercover Artist & my family.”


Marie Gilbert: “How far in advance should someone contact you to schedule a party?”

Lily K. Doyle: “Ideally, it should be a month or a month and a half, however, I have had people call me two weeks ahead and if I’m free, I’ll try to swing it.  With my work schedule, I’m teaching school from Monday to Thursday, but I’m free nights and weekends for Undercover Artist.

This business started out as a necessity and I wanted to take lemons and make lemonade. There are a lot of good art teachers out there that can give you instructions, but not to toot my own horn or anything, but you need to have the kind of personality where you are part art teacher and part entertainer.
I’ve always loved theatre and one of my hobbies is community theatre and I bring that into it. I joke around, I make people feel welcome, I nurture them and I boost their confidence. A lot of my art events definitely have that party atmosphere: bring a bottle of wine- girls’ night out kind of fun. However something else happened over the last three years I didn’t plan on.


First, I keep meeting the most amazing people who introduce me to more amazing people and it’s been this ripple in the pond effect. Secondly, I have accidently fallen into doing charity work and I’ve never had that type of rewarding feeling before. I’ve always taught art and I love giving to my students but this is different...”

Marie Gilbert: “Now you’re giving back to the community.”

Lily K. Doyle: “Yes I am and it’s all good, it’s good for the soul you know, to be able play even a teeny tiny part in helping a person or organization that is battling something way bigger than any of your own life problems. It also makes me count my blessings. I hate, hate, hate to admit it and I was really ticked off when the budget came down from the Governor and my art job was cut, but in reality, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, it really was.”


Marie Gilbert: “Speaking about budget cuts, as an art teacher what are your thoughts on important programs being cut from the curriculum?”

Lily K. Doyle: “It’s ironic because I’ve been a teacher for nineteen years and they are being so strict these days with the curriculum and the New Jersey Core States Standards including art, however, when the budget gets a little tight, it’s very often it’s the arts that go and that’s what happened to me in 2010. It was a humbling experience.


Art is associated with every other subject: art is math; art is world history; art is science. Art can be factored into all the other subjects. Not to mention for kids who were like me, where I was not the best math student, I was not the best writer and art was a class I could go to where my art teacher made me feel important. When a child walks into my art room door, it’s not just about their art work; it’s about their self-worth. I make sure every child learns not only the history and science of art, but also the social aspect and leaves the room feeling good because they have created something.”


Marie Gilbert: “I want to want to thank you Lily for being a guest on my blog and since I took one of your classes I am now an Undercover Artist fan.”


You can find Lily K. Doyle:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Part One of Steampunk Granny's Interview of the Undercover Artist, Lily K. Doyle


About a month ago my ex daughter-in-law/forever friend, invited me and my neighbor, Rita to an event that was held at the Treehouse Coffee Shop in Audubon, New Jersey. Sue told me to bring a bottle of wine, adding, “We’re going to have a great night painting a picture.” I was somewhat doubtful that any type of art could be produced by me after I had a few glasses of wine, but since I’m always up for a challenge, I accepted the invitation.

I’m so glad that I went. I had a great time and the woman behind “Undercover Artist,” Lily K. Doyle had all the supplies ready for us to begin to create our work of art. With Lily’s expert guidance and easy to follow directions, I was able to set free my creative side; the wine helped, too.


I wanted to know more about the brains behind the art, and Lily has graciously agreed to be a guest on my blog. So...grab hold of your paint brush and easel and learn why Lily created “Undercover Artist”

Marie Gilbert: “What inspired you to start this business?”

Lily K. Doyle: “Well, I was teaching art for sixteen years in public school and I was very content and happy, however, some budget cuts came down around 2010 and I was out of work. I started my business out of necessity, but it has turned into a huge blessing in disguise.”


Marie Gilbert: “Tell us about these painting events?”

Lily K. Doyle: “I would describe my painting events as part art, part entertainment, and part party; so socializing.”


Marie Gilbert: “How did you come up with this idea?”

Lily K. Doyle: “Well after looking around for a job in art education for about a year and not being successful, my friend Heidi called me up. She lives down South and she said, “I went to something that I could see you doing.” So I began doing a lot of research and they had these studios down south where they did these paint and sip parties and this looked like something I could do with my skills as an art teacher, my personality and my experience.


I looked around in the North East and here in South Jersey and no one was doing anything like this in the area, so about three years ago I started my business and it got a very good response, but the ironic thing is that this business has migrated North. These painting parties are everywhere now and my business is peaking nicely; I‘m real busy now and very grateful for that.”

Marie Gilbert: “How do you go about setting up for one of these parties?”

Lily K. Doyle: “Well, I’m going to sound like a commercial for my Hyundai Santa Fe’- my “little Art-mobile” SUV! I stick more things in there; I’m basically an art studio on the go. I put tables in there, stools, easels, canvases, paint, aprons, drop cloths, you name it! The one difference with me from the paint parties down south is I couldn’t afford the overhead for a studio, so my little niche is that I go to you; within reason. I keep it close because the price of gas is so expensive. I pack up my Art-mobile and I go to churches, hospitals, Girl Scout troops, coffee houses, you name it

Marie Gilbert: “If someone wants to book this party, how do they prepare for it?”

Lily K. Doyle: “Well, it’s been wonderful because my source of business has been mainly word of mouth. I have a Facebook Fan Page and I get about ninety percent from there. You can go to my website to read general information, but I keep my Facebook page updated. It’s kind of like a blog where I put pictures of the parties up in the form of a story and it tells you why these people have gathered and how much fun they’ve had. There have been different reasons why these people have contacted me: a birthday, bridal shower or a fundraiser.

They can e-mail me, message me, or give me a call and we look at the calendar and find a date that works for them. We talk about the number of people and what they need if they need my tables or if they have tables and then we go from there. Sometimes I’ll even customize my painting just for them.”


Marie Gilbert: “So when someone hires you to do a party, how do they set up before you arrive?”

Lily K. Doyle: “Well, they do need some space, although I have squeezed a lot of people in little places. One house was very small and we were in their living room and dining room. It was opened up so we were all still together. But, I’ve had parties in basements, out on the deck, in the yard and on the driveway. It’s just this amazing little art phenomena that people are gathering.

One of my goals was for me to expose them to my love of art and to show them that it’s not a scary thing to try out. My tag line for my business, “Undercover Artist” is “Paint, Party and Uncover your Inner Artist.”


Marie Gilbert: “I like it.”

Lily K. Doyle: “My favorite kinds of client are the ones who say, “I’ve never painted in my life, or I can only draw stick figures.”   Of course, in the cases where we do drink wine, it does loosen them up and they have fun and sometimes the more wine they drink, the better they get. But, not all my parties are about the wine.


Sometimes, I’ll have a horizon line already drawn on the canvas or I’ll have a pattern of a tree or a glass to start them out, but once they get past that first brush stroke, their good and their laughing with their friends and having a good time. If you’ve never painted before, you’re going to be really surprised. If you’ve painted before, you’re going to look like a genius.”


We'll end part one of my interview with the fabulous Lily K. Doyle and return on Friday with part two. Hold on to your paint brush, Lily has more to tell you about The Undercover Artist.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Did You Hear the News?


                                  There's a new film about zombies?


                           The Soulless

The Soulless is directed by Christopher Eilenstein, produced by Bob Cleary, Stephen Hirsekom and Russ Bucci and stars Jason Propst, Jennifer Teska, Kaylin Iannone, Joe Parascand, Michael Chartier, Jeff Caplan, Genoveva Rossi, and Edward X Young.


              Forget everything you've ever known about the living dead....

                                             The Rules have changed


Sunday, August 24, 2014

How to Do a Book Sigining


I’ve had friends (who are also writers) ask me why I like doing book signings and how they could go about doing a book signing. I grew up in a grocery store in South Philadelphia and learned from a very young age the importance of promoting your business from my parents, the famous Fred & Lucy from my blog episodes called Life with Fred and Lucy.

These early lessons of promoting a business helped me later on in life when I worked at the Academy of Natural Sciences and was the Coordinator of their Birthday Party Program. I had to do some big time promoting of the birthday parties on a shoestring budget. Museums are non-profit and at the time, there wasn’t that much money to advertise my program on a large scale; so I improvised, and brought in lots of clients.
So, back to the book signing as I said at the beginning of this blog, someone at a recent meeting of the South Jersey Writers’ Group asked me how I do a book signing. They had no idea how to start. Since I’ve been doing book signings for our group's anthology Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey with my super hero sidekick, Dawn Byrne, I’ve decided to do a combination book signing, crafts and jewelry event with a few friends.  The event will be called Steampunk Granny’s Gala Books & Craft Extravaganza. Details to be announced.

How to prepare for a Book Signing

Have a supply of your newly published books to sell. Always bring more than you think you might sell.

Business cards: I have a personal business card and a business card for my book featuring the cover and info on where to purchase the book. People don’t always have the money to buy a book that day, but they will go home and order it later. Cards help remind them about the book and meeting you.

Banners/ Posters/ Flyers: Since I squirreled away my pennies for the big book launch day of Rook Oasis the first book of my apocalyptic series, I was able to get a nice size banner with stand.
Poster board I have an 18x 24 poster featuring my book cover. I was able to get this item from Staples at a very reasonable price.

Flyers: You can print them up yourself and get permission from shopkeepers to stick in their windows or bulletin boards.

Calendar: keep one with you all the time for when a possible signing comes up.


The banner is a sure way to get the attention of people walking past the coffee shops and books stores where you will be selling your book. But, if you can’t start big, go with the poster board size that can be clearly seen where you’re selling books. I paid 22 dollars for this poster size and I have a smaller one which I use when there is very little space to maneuver around. It only cost me fifteen dollars.


You need to advertise your upcoming book signing and you can do this on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and local newspapers. Shout it from the roofs!!!

Sell Yourself: Yes, that’s what I said! You are selling yourself. Do you know what that means? You are out there trying to sell a book that you feel is a good book, but you have to convince people to read this good book and that means you have to be friendly and appreciative when people stop by your table to ask about your book.

Be Appreciative

Money is tight and when people shop, they need to stay within their budget, but they will be more willing to purchase your book if you are ready to chat with them and answer questions. I often take pictures of myself with the people who buy a book from me. They love when I tell them that they will be on my blog. It means that you care about them.

When I do a book signing at a coffee shop or book store that has been gracious enough to let me come in and sell my books, I leave a signed book for the owner as a thank you. Sure it’s out of pocket, but they’ve welcomed you into their business, and let’s be honest; our presence does throw off their normal routine. Call it good karma.

How do I find venues to sell my book?

Where do you go for coffee? Is there a favorite independent book store that you like? Are there festivals coming up in your neighborhood? Are you checking the internet for upcoming book signing opportunities? Here is one example, Collingswood, New Jersey has a yearly Book Festival and they invite writers to sign up and sell their books. The Philadelphia Free Library has a yearly event also.

Search your weekly newspapers to see what opportunities are there to sell your books. I’m pretty sure that you can sell your books at most events. Call and find out. Find out what other writers are doing and where they go to sell books.

You are selling yourself and sometimes it means visiting as many places as you can and setting up dates for your signing event.

I hope my advice has helped you feel more comfortable with planning and doing a book signing. Now get out there and get started.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Steampunk Granny meets Snapchat

I have nine grandchildren, who have accepted me one way or another into their inner circle. That is a big deal to me. I feel blessed that my grandchildren trust me enough to make me their confidant when they need to talk or ask for my advice; a big deal!
My oldest grandson is a marine and now that he is living at Camp Lejeune, I don’t get to talk to him that often and so I value any and all communication from him...that being said let me tell you about the crazy stuff I do receive from #1 grandson.

Just recently, I received a smart phone and I can now do snapchats with it. My twelve year old grandson had to teach me how to use snapchat and after taking pictures of my thumb several times, I think I have it down pat...maybe.

Anyway, I would send snapchat pictures to Jimmy just to remind him that granny was still kicking and he would reply with a picture of him. He also added me to his twitter friends and his special circle of Facebook friends, which is such an honor...except when I receive certain messages, like:

You can imagine my surprise when one night a few months ago, I heard my smart phone give a little chirp and when I checked I saw that I had received a snapchat message from Jimmy. It was 1:30 a.m. and I was up because I was writing a recap of “The Walking Dead”, but what was Jimmy sending me at this ungodly hour? I opened the snapchat message to see a photo of some lap dancer apparently performing for my grandson....strange...why would Jimmy send this to me?
I messaged him and asked, “Was I supposed to receive this?”

No reply. But, the next day on facebook he did mention to his inner circle that he accidently sent me a certain photo and of course all his friends teased him. I commented, “If this is the only way I can keep contact with the kid, I’ll take what I can get.” 

I’m not kidding about keeping in touch with #1 grandson. This kid hates to write or talk on the phone so since I have an open mind, I overlook a lot of the stuff that seems to filter down to me through Jimmy and his fellow marines. But...and this is a big but, sometimes the stuff that gets to me is a bit weird. I know what you asking yourself. How weird could it be, especially since she kept her cool about the lap dancer?

I’m not sure if this video is a takeoff on the Alien franchise, but there was a man in a pool, an innocent female bystander and a body part that resembled the “Alien” and it was hungry. That's all I'm saying without a lawyer! 

I messaged him, “Was Granny supposed to see this?” His friends were probably afraid that I would come through the phone and kill him, in fact, most of their replies hinted at this possible situation. But, I didn’t say another word about the video.

Jimmy had an emergency leave and was able to come home for his paternal grandmother’s funeral. As soon as he saw me he gave me a big hug and asked, “Granny, are you mad at me? I’ll take you off the inner circle so you don’t get that stuff anymore.”

“Like hell you will. Keep me in the inner circle. It’s my only way of keeping up with you and making sure you’re doing okay.”
Was I wrong? Should I have admonished him? NO!!!! I’m a big girl and I’ve been there and done that and I’m not going to let a silly video fuss up my feathers, especiallly when there are worse things going on in the world and my grandson along with his young friends might be sent to war because the adults in the world can’t sit down and talk without flinging bombs left and right.
                                   Granny with six of the nine desperadoes                                                         

Like I said at the beginning, I have nine grandchildren and I want to be that place that they can come to with all their good, bad and ugly secrets...this is what grandmothers do.

Keep on messaging me Jimmy, granny loves you.