1.) Who & what IS Steph Jordan/Living in Color/Divacity?
Well let’s see, Steph Jordan is a mix of a half of century of craziness, creativeness, old school, soul searching, constantly learning, nature loving woman! LOL. There’s so much more but that kind of binds it all together. Basically I’m a woman with an Artistic message that even I am still trying to figure out. I don’t claim to know the answer to life but I know has a lot to do with Art!
I think Diviacity was my first bit of true seriousness about realizing the direction I was heading in with my Art. I’ve tapped into so many different mediums in my Journey including, writing, drawing, cooking, painting, jewelry, promoting artists and more. The name was courtesy of a friend who said that it was me to the nth degree LOL. Diva with all the fixings!
Living In Color With Steph Jordan was born from my need to share. I love talking to and meeting new Colorful people. And in my world I do so I wanted to share them and their colorfulness with everyone else. On the Blog I interview people from various (because there really are too many to count) branches of Art and Creativity. I love catching people in their natural state. The state of saying and being who they really are. The ultimate goal of Living In Color With Steph Jordan is to bring them all together in one source for everyone to enjoy.
2.) Do you think everyone has some creativity inside them? How can we tap into that rich vein?
Yes I do think everyone has the creativity gene. I think many people are afraid to explore their creative side because of self doubts and society. Sometimes I discover people who are fabulous Artists, Writers, Cooks, Vocalists, etc. who don’t think they will make it or are nervous about other people’s reactions to what they are doing. I can hear in my head me saying over and over, ‘if you can bring your Artist spirit outside to play you would be surprised and even amazed at what you would find’. Not to mention that the Act of creating Art itself can be self reassuring and healing. To me adding your creative energy to the wind is part of what fuels life. Much of the history as we know it is based on Art. Messages left behind by those before us!
I suggest to people that they start spending even just 15 minutes a day doing something artistic when the mood strikes. Drawing and even doodling can motivate you onto bigger grounds. I have a friend who created the most beautiful coloring book I’ve ever seen, from doodles!
3.) What are your pet projects right now, and what's on tap for the immediate future?
Currently I’m working on a few things. My first project is the show ‘Living In Color With Steph Jordan’. Although it’s online TV, my hopes are to be able to reach a larger field of people who need the motivation and inspiration to create and go after their dreams. My dreams are always a work in progress. I’m in desperate need of help and sponsorship to keep it going so I’m also working on that. Another project is a book full of Art, Inspiration and Art to heal! Almost everything I create is out of a need to stay focused, stay creative and stay positive. And I want to be able to share it with others because it really does work.
4.) I LOVE your creative crafts and mixed media work, and have done a little pre-Christmas shopping already, but will soon be back for more. Tell us about that, please.
Thank you. I have a very short attention span so I work on a little bit of everything. Call it mixed up media! I love things that are very colorful and bright. A lot of what I do is full of color and based on what I get from Nature. I spend as much time as possible at the ocean so many of my paintings have ocean in them. I paint mainly with Acrylics but am not above mixing that up to, like oil and acrylic or watercolor and acrylic.
I also love Altered Art and collage. I am big on product and texture. By product I mean things like gels, texturizing, color mediums, etc. I like to create Art that makes me stop and think or stop and chill.
5.) Is an Etsy shop easy to use?
For me it’s been fabulous. It’s free to set up. The instructions are clear and its fast going once get it started. They only charge you for the listings and it’s only $0.20. I did try lots of other services but this one turns out to be the best.
6.) Tell us a little about how you got from "there" to "here."
I was on my own from a very young age and learned to think on my feet and moving. I was blessed in that over the years I met many people that inspired me, supported me and helped keep me focused on staying strong. I’m compelled to share the same with people I cross paths with.
Art has always played a large part in who I am and where I come from. It was my ‘thing’ to focus on. It was my outlet and as a youngster, a release from what was happening in my world. My imagination was strong and vivid and art played a great part.
I think I’m still traveling LOL. I don’t really know where here is yet. Right now I run on Dreams and Things. LOL. There’s no income, no material whatnots just dreams and desire to create, create and create and share. I only know that in the dream I’m at a place where I can share lessons learned, art, healing, creativity, inspiration, etc. (and afford to do only that LOL). So on I go LOL.
7.) As to social media -- which "channel" (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Networked Blogs, etc.) is your fav?
I’d have to say Facebook first. I’ve been able to connect with so many people in a more visual way. I can see their Art and they can see mine. There response and recognition. I love that it’s been more professional and that I have greater control over what goes on. There’s no need for fancy page tricks and for the most part the people I’ve connected with have been respectful and all using it for the same thing, networking.
8.) Do you write? If so, tell us what, who, when, how, why.
I started out writing. I wrote many many poems growing up. In fact somewhere in this Apartment/Studio resides a binder of many of those poems. At a young age there wasn’t really anyone my age to communicate with like I needed to. So I took to writing it down. Of course at first I tried to rhyme everything LOL because at a young age I thought that was poetry. Later I learned to put my feelings in poetry and progressed from there. After my failed marriage I realized that all of my poetry was painful and depressing and kind of faded away. Now I write words and thoughts to inspire. I have some articles posted on a blog called Divaprenuer and Facebook and my Newsletter about being positive and working it all out.
I’m currently working on trying to pull a book of Art together. I have so much to share visually and verbally that it’s an obvious next step for me. I have written a couple of books that were more of a healing tool than anything in the past. Just for me. The book I am trying to put together now is for anyone that needs to be inspired and feel confident in expressing their creative side.
9.) Coffee or tea?
Both LOL. I’m very versatile. I easily adapt and if you don’t have a jar of instant I’ll gladly accept for a spot of tea!
10.) What'd I forget to ask you that you want our bloggy friends to know?
I think I just want everyone to know that there is really no excuse for not following your Dreams. Even in the worst of times, you still have your thoughts and your dreams. Keep them moving mentally if not physically. And letting them go is a decision that will most certainly not serve you in the future.
I’m also a person that likes to share positive inspiration. Anyone can write me for some positive words at firstname.lastname@example.org
My website is HERE and it contains links to my other outlets. Find my Etsy HERE.
Youtube Facebook: Steph on Facebook, Twitter, and Blip TV.
On and off, mostly on, for about 20 years, I've been a reader and editor at Apalachee Quarterly and then Apalachee Review (name change). First as a poetry reader. Now I'm the fiction editor.
2. How/what do you look for in accepted pieces for your publication?
One of New York's best literary agents just emailed to say that he wanted contact information for writers of six of this Apalachee Review issue's stories for our latest issue. He said he'd never found that many at one go in his time trolling for stories.
So what I say here may sound cruel, but it's the way I troll for stories: The first paragraph. If the first paragraph grabs me, I keep reading. If not, I let it go. It could be a first line that surprises me.
Here's a for instance, “Lives of the Saints,” by Katie Cotugno:
“Laura brings her cell phone on the junior retreat, which makes sense, since the first rule on the handout we got last week was NO CELL PHONES WILL BE PERMITTED ON THE JUNIOR RETREAT.”Not a word is wasted here. I find out, Uh oh, already trouble—so I want to keep reading. What's going to happen to Laura? Already, I have a lot of info, like that this narrator is young, a junior retreat probably means a high school retreat, and the kids are probably tech savvy. I also get a sense of rhythm, youthful rhythm and language and immediacy. And since the title seems to suggest a Catholic school or something connected to religion, it's probably even more risky to be breaking school rules. I'm in.
This doesn't mean A.R. “wants” Catholic high school stories. It means we want strong voices, and openings that jump into the middle of trouble pretty quickly.
When we get “When I was a child, life was pretty easy....” I start scanning down the page for the real story. Often, usually, it doesn't start until p. 3, or even 7 or even 11, and too often, there's no story. What happens? And then what? And then what? And language. Tight, strong language. Action.
3. How do you keep it all in balance without going nuts?
I AM nuts. I do too much. I forget everything, including times and dates for when I'm going to have lunch with my girlfriends, who are my sustenance. [My new novel just came out in] September, too, so I write fiction, too. And now I'm going to do an anthology of paragraphs for the Gulf Spill. So I'm completely overwhelmed and nutty.
I teach business students in the Spring, who tend to have way more practical sense than I do. Sometimes they like the nuttiness, and sometimes they just stare at me like, HUH? Whatever.
It's me. My mom said when I was young, she could put me in a room and leave me there, come back later, and I'd have something going on. My own little world of play. She said I was ALWAYS busy. She didn't have to worry about me, because I had stuff going on in the room. I could probably remember dates back then, though.
4. Any tips for the writers out there?
This isn't what anybody wants to hear, but it's true. Just write. If you're a writer, write. Or take time off from writing and don't feel guilty, just keep thinking and observing. Don't worry so much about getting published or having your first novel when you're 25 or whatever. Write. It's a soulful process. And get yourself a workshop. Have honest and empathic readers comment on your work.
5. Recent wonderful reads?
I just finished “Mockingbird,” a biography by Charles J. Shields about Nelle Harper Lee, who wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Great book that leaves author Nelle alone, which is what she wants.
I'm in the middle of Mark Mustian's “The Gendarme,” told urgently from the point of view of a WW I vet who's at the end of his life. He escorted Armenians from Turkey during the war, and now wants to find the woman he fell in love with, who was one of his captives. He wants to ask her forgiveness for what happened during that march.
Before that, I read a crime novel, “Flesh Market Close,” by Scottish writer Ian Rankin, set in Edinburgh.
6. What do you love in poetry?
I also just read “Mad with Yellow” by Lisa J. Starr, the Poet Laureate of Rhode Island. Her poems about losing her parents just kill me (pun intended). I have my parents, but I know deep down she's right about how this must feel.
7. What are your feelings about signings and speaking at conferences?
Yes, I like to read and sign books. I'm pretty introverted, and intimidated by big audiences, but it's good to stretch yourself. I toured with my short story collection ten years ago, and figured out what audiences like and don't like to hear. That way, I figured out what people like to read, too. I do think it helps your writing if you can think of readings that way. Same with poetry. I like to read a poem with another person or a group of people. Keeps it lively.
8. Some Do Nots in writing?
Shiny writing means using strong verbs, just for starters. Try to ditch the adverbs, as they preach at you. Love those good nouns. Write like you're singing, then go back and edit yourself. People who will go back and edit and edit and edit themselves make the most successful writers usually.
9. What do you think about the retold fairytales and such that are popular of late?
Well, my husband was giving me some of those stories. I don't want to indict anybody. His stories reminded me that I'm fascinated by how writers who are creative writing faculty at universities can sometimes get ruined by egotism and insularity. But then so can any kind of celebrity. Stay rooted to the earth, writers.
Find Mary Jane's "Cookie and Me" here on Amazon. [Note to Self: Order immiediately!]
Best of luck with your new book, Mary Jane! Thanks for taking time away from your crazy life and schedule to do this interview.
With an ear for regional voices as pitch perfect as a tuning fork, Mary Jane Ryals brings to life her beloved South during the tumultuous days of the early civil rights movement. Set in Tallahassee, Florida, Cookie & Me tells the story of Rayann, who is white and somewhat privileged, and Cookie, who is black and living a marginalized life that Rayann never realized existed until one life-changing summer. Cookie and Me is fresh and poignant, a beautifully-written story about two young girls, one black, one white, and how they get caught up in an explosive real-life episode during the Civil Rights Movement. Mary Jane Ryals writes like a sassy hybrid of Eudora Welty and Lee Smith. Rayann Woods, her heroine, is as bitingly funny as Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird and as sharply honest as Huck Finn. Ryals knows her North Florida backwoods, her debutantes, her good ole boys and her Jim Crow history. This novel is at once charming and unsparing, hilarious and profound. I hope this isn't the last we hear from Rayann. She's my kind of girl. -Diane (D. K.) Roberts, Dream State; The Myth of Aunt Jemima; Between Two Rivers Cookie & Me is every bit as evocative of race relations in the South as Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Mary Jane Ryals' Tallahassee, Florida is a kissing cousin of Lee's Maycomb, Alabama. The story is set in the turbulent sixties and features two main characters who struggle across racial lines to form a friendship that sustains them both. The writing is so visceral, you can almost hear Aretha, feel the humidity and taste the mulberries. I love this book. -Lu Vickers, Breathing Underwater; Weeki Wachee: City of Mermaids