Cheri Nordstrom:

It was a great day – and a great event! For anyone who says Peoria doesn’t have anything to offer to the arts community, I call foul. They just aren’t looking in the right place. Peoria is rich in culture, arts and entertainment, if you know where to look.

Originally posted on PeoWriMos -- Peoria Writers' Group:


Ignite Peoria was so much fun!

We hosted two informal workshops for kids this afternoon.  We came armed with handouts and workbooks, and had a great time talking about some story basics!

Turns out, most of our audience was already well-versed in fiction mechanics. We spent our time talking about their experiences writing and how to trouble-shoot when they run into problems, deal with writer’s block, don’t know what to write next, or even how to deal with the dreaded inner editor!

I loved meeting each and every one of our young writers. To them, and to you, I wish you,

Happy Writing!

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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


Mail Art: Just Do It! (A Non-Artist’s Perspective)

Mail Art: Just Do It! (A Non-Artist’s Perspective)

If you’ve ever received a very colorful, hand-embellished envelope from me, know that I am trying my hand at mail art. Mail art has been around since the advent of the postal service but it was made popular in the 1950s (known art exchanges have been documented with Exquisite Corpse, earlier in the century as well). It is making a revival, especially given the popularity of email, the decline of the economy which is affecting the postal service in every community world-wide and the love of nostalgia.

I’m a huge fan of mail art! Not only decorating envelopes, but participating in exchanges that are devoted to sending handmade goodies via snailmail.

I recently became involved in a mail art swap, and I had the best time! I lurked in the group for several months before I finally signed up for one of their every-other-month swaps (I don’t have permission to advertise the group, but if you search on mail art in Facebook, you will be able to find it & request membership of the closed group!) in June and mailed my creations out this month.

Mind you, I am not an artist. I can doodle and make some crafty things without feeling horribly embarrassed, but the reason I waited so long to join an exchange was because nearly everyone there is a true artist! The reason I joined a swap recently was because the theme was “Dinosaurs, Unicorns & Octopi” and I wanted to make an octopus. Like this:

yarn octopus

It was purely nostalgia & selfishness that drove me. I didn’t have any other plan than a dorky yarn octopus-one like the pink one that sat on the pink bedspread of “my” room at my grandparents’ house when I was growing up. There was one guy in the exchange…I waited with baited breath, just hoping I wouldn’t end up with the guy as my partner because I didn’t think he’d appreciate a cutesy yarn doll. Finally, I got a girl!! Alas, a non-frilly goth girl. Thus, the crazy, red button eyes and charcoal gray color of my doll! haha

This also afforded me the opportunity to start something I’ve been wanting to do for a few months now. I was the recipient of a 100 Post Card project last year, was honored to be involved & thought it would be really cool to pay it forward with 100 Haikus. That project has since evolved, and now I am planning to send 100 Poetry Broadsides (handmade) instead with my original poetry. Here is the broadside I sent for the exchange:


I drug my feet on this, actually. I had to freehand the mermaid tail and it terrified me! The deadline was looming though, and I just had to do it. I don’t think it turned out nearly as bad as I was thinking it could!

Finally, feeling a bit sub-par with my art skills (or lack thereof), I decided to make a mixed tape for my exchange buddy. I stalked her tumblr account to see what sort of music she liked & got a CD made with all sorts of dino-uni-octi-themed music & a handmade CD insert. You get to enjoy a song off of the CD too! I figure, she will at least enjoy the music even if she thinks the octopus is stupid & the artwork and/or poetry is lame.


I am pretty fearless with my attempts at art. Maybe because I know I’m not an artist (technically writing is an art, but the art that I have any talent in only involves WORDS!), so you might think I’m just a glutton for punishment, but…

I signed up for the next exchange too, which is an Alphabet exchange (think Dr. Seuss’s Alphabet Book). Plus, I invited my daughter, who truly is an artist to join the exchange too, because she LOVES typography. It was her favorite class in her college art studies. She is going to make me look really silly, but I am super proud of her, and I have writerly ideas in mind too. I can’t wait to find out which letter I will be responsible for (we will be assigned our letter in early August). I can’t wait to start on the newest chapter of my artsy endeavors! Carpe diem!

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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in Uncategorized


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A Hiatus for Health

As it turns out, committing to posting a blog entry every day wasn’t such a good thing for shingles. Then again, I don’t think anything has been. I have now had shingles for over 4 months and it’s getting old. But, I am no worse than I was, and I think I’m ready to post blog entries on occasion again.

Here are my new and exciting adventures since April:

  • Summer! We have been camping a few times with our puppy boys. They LOVEloveLOVE it there! Just not the inevitable bath time when we get back home.
  • Training for a 5k race that will take place on September 7th. It’ll be the first race that I’ve run in since 2009!
  • On new medication for Sjogren’s. Not sure what to make of it so far…it isn’t supposed to make me feel better for a few months & right now it just makes me feel high & nauseous.
  • Camp NaNoWriMo: I am attempting to outline my November novel in July. Crazysauce…I am a pantser! However, I’m teaching an outlining class in October to prep for NaNoWriMo. Therefore, I should probably actually attempt an outline of my own.
  • Mail Art exchange with the theme of “Dinosaurs, Unicorns & Octopi.” Here is what I’ve come up with so far (and a goth yarn octopus):



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Posted by on June 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


Kasen Renga

This is really just a continuation of Japanese poetry forms, but this is one I’d never heard of before & is an exciting new discovery!

Renga is another form of collaborative poetry – and puts me in mind of Exquisite Corpse, only not as drunken and more nature-based! And, just gets those wheels a-spinnin’ in my head. There are new poetry open mics sprouting all over town. I’m in a poetry frame of mind and I have poet friends…they might be game for such a collaborative effort!

Traditionally, a kasen renga refers to flowers twice and the moon once in a set of 36 stanzas. Can you do it? I will try, too.


Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Uncategorized


Japanese Poetry Forms



I think this post is all my daughter’s fault. She has been fascinated with the Japanese culture since she was about seven years old–art, culture, society, etc. What once was an infatuation, has become a life thread for her, because she is engaged to a wonderful Japanese man and has been studying the language for years.

We homeschooled for several years, and because of her love of Japanese art styles (and because of my love of poetry) we did a haiku & tanka segment for English lessons. I loved haiku and tanka because at that time of my life, I was trying to break away from strictly rhymed and metered poetry, but was having a hard time finding my free verse voice. It was a win-win segment of study for us!

I actually found a website that says everything I want to say on the topic of Japanese Poetry Forms, but I noticed that there is a little word (Challenge) near the top of this particular page. Did someone just challenge me? Did they? Huh. DID THEY!?

Perhaps I will have to do another 100 [Poetry Form] challenge of some sort after the 100 Haiku(s). I have haiku in the queue (not intended to rhyme, but I’m a poet & I don’t know it–but my feet show it; they’re longfellows (a ditty my grandpa used to always recite to me since I was the family poet from a very early age! I sure miss that wonderful man (Grandpa)), but just started working on the actual cards themselves. I have homes for about a dozen cards so far…after that is anyone’s guess as to where I will send them!



Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Ice Cream/I Scream

Even my ice cream is celebrating National Poetry Month. Please bear with me, so I can share the story, which will eventually come back to the ice cream.

Here’s another ‘I’ word: Icky, which is how I’m feeling– thus another day-late post and the screaming, but in my quietest inner-whisper voice. I’ve been battling a bevy of illnesses – shingles, autoimmune disease and migraines for a solid six weeks now. As a result, my appetite is nearly non-existent (which is good for losing weight, but not so good for regaining strength & energy). The migraine part has become another ‘I’ word, intense. Pain, brain fog, auras, fever & nausea and after a couple weeks of this, I was put on a medication to hopefully kill the migraine today, but I had to eat with it. I also needed gasoline, or my car would not have made it home or back to work today. What does one eat, when nausea makes everything sound horrid?

The thought of ice cream didn’t completely gross me out, so I bought some of the chocolate-cherry variety at the gas station. Limerick Cherry Chocolate, to be exact. It’s made by a company I’ve never heard of (2nd Street Creamery) and it didn’t taste half bad! The cutesy limerick, on the other hand, was on the cheesy side and could use a little work…



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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Uncategorized


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One Hundred Haiku(s)!

[Note: I had this typed up & ready to go yesterday, but crashed & burned before I posted. Also! Received my broadsides from Guerilla Poetics Project in the mail yesterday, and the first two have already been smuggled!!]

I just learned that the plural of haiku is not haikus…it’s simply still haiku, though it is becoming accepted (at least in America) to use “haikus” to mean more than one poem. Ya learn something new every day!

I bet you’re wondering where the hundred part fits in. Well, let me tell you! Twitter is a fascinating tool. I met a lady from Australia there who challenged herself to sending 100 Pantone postcards all over the world. Thought it was a great idea, so I adapted it to fit a haiku theme. I received a buttercup yellow Pantone card from her that matched the walls in my living room to a tee!

Where will I find 100 people to send haiku cards to? You might be able to help me out there! If you are interested in receiving an original haiku penned by moi, leave me a direct message (& feel free to follow me) on Twitter – @velvetjademuse . Please let me know why you’re DMing me, so I know it’s not spam & leave me a way to contact you for your address. Although I live in the USA, I will send anywhere in the world. If Spanish is your native language, I will even write haiku en espanol! (I could use the practice!!)


Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


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