Thursday, January 30, 2014

Inspired by the Artist

By Kenneth A O'Shaughnessy

Art is designed to evoke a response. Sometimes that response is wonder, sometimes envy, sometimes revulsion, and sometimes, more art. Ekphrastic poems are poems written about another kind of art, like film, dance, or painting.

In the poem below, I write ekphrastically about two kinds of art: the art of the drawing artist, and the art of the Creator. 

The drawing below was made by 10 year old Anya. It depicts her naturalist younger brother examining a caterpillar he found.

The poem pays tribute to the artist by using her initials as the acrostic for each verse, and relates her drive to draw to the way she was created by the first Artist.
And if I be lifted up, I will draw
Lines that define a world created
Dividing light from darkness

And the earth was without form
Light made shade and shapes appeared
Darkness directing the eye to light

And God made man in his image
Lifting up a stick figure with his finger
Dust filled with artistic Spirit

And God saw that it was good
Loving what he had made for himself
Despite its imperfections

And if I be lifted up, I will draw
Like the artist who created me
Doing what I was drawn to do

Kenneth A O'Shaughnessy is a freelance writer and poet living in the upstate of South Carolina with his wife and four children. To find his daily poetry entries, log onto: 

or find him on Amazon here:

Monday, January 27, 2014


By Laurie Epps

When you first start blogging, it can be an overwhelming experience. Everyone seems to know the lingo except you. This is one of those discussions that should clear up at least one more vocabulary word for you.

Just follow along with us in Edie Melson's book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers. Her book will break down for you all the terms you need to know in very simple terms.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

ACFW: Anderson Workshop

With Edie Melson, one of the most influential women in my life
By Laurie Epps

I can't tell you how valuable going to the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference has been for me. I've networked with writers from all over the country, learned new skills of my craft, forged friendships, and created job leads for myself that I'd not have made otherwise.

One of the tips I learned right away is that networking is essential for us as writers. Many of us are shy, and it's why we're writers in the first place. Writing gives us a forum to share our ideas. As many who know and love me, I'm not shy in the slightest, but I empathize with those that are.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hauntings: The Work of Toni Scott

By Laurie Epps

In honor of African-American history month, I respectfully dedicate this column to their national legacy. 

Toni Scott is a painter and sculptor from Los Angeles, CA. I was fortunate enough to have met her briefly this past fall when her Bloodlines exhibition was showcased in my school's Vandiver Gallery. As the descendent of slaves, Europeans, and Native Americans, her artwork is very personal and tells us a lot about her family history.

Something about Toni Scott's artwork, and the presence of this very talented artist spoke to me on a very intrinsic level. Her line entitled Bloodlines, tells the story of slaves in this country. Though centered around tragic events, this is also a tale of triumph of the human spirit. (Much like the artist herself.)

To view the exhibit that was at my university, click here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Marriage of Labels and Keywords

By Laurie Epps

What's a label? What's a keyword? Today we're going to talk about not only what they are, but how they are connected. Both label and keyword form a marriage that increases your SEO = Search Engine Optimization. Let Edie and I teach you how.

Still, we are working with Edie's book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers. This is a step by step guide to teach you the in's and out's of how to create a successful presence on the Internet.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Love and Infatuation: A Story of a Young Woman

By Laurie Epps

Last spring in my Art History class we had a creative writing option in lieu of our term paper assignment. Being a creative writing major, and completely burnt out on a thesis driven paper, I just embraced the idea to express myself and my ideas in a different way.

Of all the portraits, Portrait of a Young Woman by Mary Louise Elisabeth really resonated with me. I imagined the subject of this French rococo painter to have the sweet and precocious nature of Marianne as in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. So I just went with my idea, and much to my essay's delight. I hope you will all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Bit About Analytics

By Laurie Epps

Everyone has statistics on their blog, but what do they mean? How do they translate into positive changes on our blog or website? Today we'll talk about using those demographics to help tailor your blog to the mission of what you hope to accomplish.

Here to show us the ropes, is my mentor Edie Melson with her book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Great Perez

Anthony Perez
April 21,1968 - December 12, 2013

By Laurie Epps

One month ago today, my dear friend, Anthony Joseph Scott Perez took his last breath to this world. After being admitted to the ICU unit of the hospital on December 2, 2013 unconscious, Anthony spent all of the next ten days fighting for his life. Anthony's family very reluctantly were persuaded by the doctors to take him off life support, but without the aid of machines, Anthony passed away just 13 hours later on December 12, 2013.

There was a huge contrast in personality between Anthony and I, yet we seemed to embrace those differences and appreciate one another. Quickly we grew to love one another in spite of his fun-loving ways, and my bookish tendencies. One could almost say that Anthony was street smart, and I was book smart. Yet he still could appreciate my serious and creative nature, and I could appreciate his strong masculinity, his devotion to his friends and family, his tenacity, his easy-going & hard-working attitudes towards life, and his Latin sexiness that he couldn't escape.

But being a literature geek, I can tell you that much of literature imitates life, and the converse is true as well. One of my favorite novels of all time is the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, so it's no wonder that one of my favorite people in this life was Anthony Joseph Scott Perez who had some similarities shared by the main character of the novel I so adored.

Much like our narrator, Nick Carraway, I got to know Anthony the last year of his life. Instantly, we spoke freely and Anthony became more than a friend, he was also my confidant. We talked nearly every day on the phone about anything and everything. As a writer, I love stories, and especially a good one. Anthony lived a colorful life, and filled my quiet evenings with tales of working as a firefighter and as a 9-11 dispatcher.

Much like the Gatsby, Anthony was born of meager means to immigrants in Brooklyn, NY. Although he had a drive like the Gatsby, he was also a terribly romantic figure that liked to party. Anthony dedicated his life to serving others. He was the type of guy who'd give you the shirt off his back if he felt you were in crisis, and that you needed it.

The leading man, Jay Gatsby, doesn't really tell us about his humble beginnings until much later in the novel. True to form, Anthony's dream of having a family of his own was the first thing I learned about him. As I got to know him, I realized how much depth and contemplation had gone into trying to build his life to a level of success to have that dream realized.

Instead, Anthony was a cornerstone for a lot of his friends. He was one of the few guys I knew that seemed to understand the fundamental things that were important. I know that he was on speed dial for a lot of them, whether they needed help around the house, or just a friend to listen to them and their problems. (Myself included.)

But for me, Anthony quickly became one of my dearest friends. I still have him listed as a favorite in my phone, and I think I secretly hope my phone will ring, and he'll be there. So I pray he hears me when I call out to him, and walk through the house talking to myself like a crazy woman.

Always the life of the party, Anthony was alone at the end of the night,and he was always blatantly aware of that. We all loved him, and I think he feels that now that even though he's passed on.

He used to tease me, and say, "Oh honey, you come down here to Fort Lauderdale, you're not gonna want to leave!" Then he'd pause and say, "And I'm not going to want to let you!" I hope in some beautiful, and profound way, that even in death he never lets go of our friendship. I know I never will.

Anthony left behind a beautiful sister, his Italian mother, and his Puerto Rican father, four cats, and dozens of friends. 

To view more pictures of Anthony, click on this link to: Anthony's Facebook Page.

Laurie Epps is a non-fiction author, essayist, editor, and poet living in Anderson, South Carolina. A seeker of beauty, her is dream is to travel the world one day and tell the many stories of those she meets. Columns include: Monday Morning Book Club, and Thoughtful Thursdays, a column dedicated to the fine art of poetry. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My First Ekphrastic Poem

Claude Monet 1840-1926
By Laurie Epps

I confess, when I went to Paris to live there in my teen years, I didn't know a lot about art. I loved it though, and something about it resonated with me on a basic and intrinsic level. Almost instinctually, I knew what I liked, and what I didn't like. Often, this response was much different or even opposite of looking at an art book in school.

While in Paris, I fell in love with Claude Monet. I'll never forget the day I saw one of his paintings at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. I stopped in my tracks and was struck with awe. I think I sat in front of one of his famous japanese footbridge and water lily kind of paintings for three-four hours. That really short changed my time for the rest of my visit!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Using Keywords Effectively on the Internet

By Laurie Epps

Back in the old days, the best form of publicity was the phone book. To have your company at the top of the list, you simply had to begin your company name with the letter A. That would ensure your company would be called first in your type of business.

But today, when you need a plumber, or a math tutor for your kid, you reach for your computer and search for what you need using a phrase and the name of your town for results. All of this is determined using keywords and SEO. We'll tell you what this means for you with the helpful advice of Edie Melson in her book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Going Home for the Holidays

Ventura Beach, CA
By Laurie Epps

Natalie Goldberg talks about the importance for us to go home as writers in her book Writing Down the Bones. She challenges us to go home and take along a journal. Goldberg asks us to write down what does it look like? What does it smell like? At the very least, take memo's in our mind for future writing.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ekphrastic Poetry

By Laurie Epps

Ekphrastic Poetry is the topic for January 2014. But before we go any further, we must discuss what ekphrastic poetry is. Loosely, the word Ekphrasis means the writer is making a comment about another art form or is making a response to it.

A classic example is John Keats poem, "Ode to a Grecian Urn." I will be writing this style all month, and I welcome you to also send entries for my January 30, 2014 column.

The Swan House in Atlanta

By Laurie Bower Epps Many don't know that I'm really from Atlanta. Somehow, as I've gotten older, it just seems to be natura...