Life is meant to be CELEBRATED...even the dull and hopeless moments, because you never know when a group of strangers will rally together one day to give you hope.
I grew up in a family of diverse interests. I was a child prodigy in music and fine art, but my great Aunts and Uncles and mamaw were rock hounds. They were always taking trips to cool places like The Painted Desert and Silver Dollar City in Nevada, so it was a good trip to travel down into an old mine and return with shiny rocks.
Maybe that's where it came from: my favourite colour is shiny. ;)
But those same Aunts and Uncles had THE coolest jobs, too. My Uncle Keith (RIP) worked at McDonnell-Douglas in the '70s, and since they were one of the original contractors on the Space Shuttle, he designed its electrical systems. So, that space craft has a soft spot in my heart: it's my legacy.
His sister and her husband (RIP) also lived in St. Louis, and were both Chemical Engineers who worked with Robert Oppenheimer at Oak Ridge here in Tennessee on "The Manhattan Project". Add to that a dad who loved sitting with me in the yard on our beef/dairy farm miles from light bleed on a cool summer night staring endlessly at the bands of the Milky Way, and you've got one very talented and sharp-dressed budding Astrophysicst and Applied Mathematician.
After I graduated from Belmont University with a degree in jazz trumpet and a minor in Theatre Arts and Percussion, they discovered that I had Systemic Lupus and was no longer able to put the PSI through my trumpet anymore. PSI, for those who don't know, and I love talking about it, is a physics term for a measure of force per unit area: Pounds per Square Inch, and after the Lupus hit my lungs, I didn't have any. I'm probably the only one on Earth who actually NEEDED to fall back on my theatre minor. ;P
So, I began auditioning for local original theatres who produced their own comedies. And I was good at those, since those same Aunts and Uncles were hilarious. No, srsly, they were.
After being introduced to comedic improv, I was given a scholarship to study with the famed Second City in Chicago, and since most television and video auditions are comprised mostly of improvisation, that meant being in Nashville, the country music capital of the world, I soon became the first-call comedic actress--stars began asking my agent for me by name to STAR in their videos--and worked with huge stars who are now friends, like Bill Engvall, John Michael Montgomery, and Billy Ray Cyrus, to name a very few.
But, I also began acting in network television and appeared in several cool projects, like a sitcom on NBC, and a history channel production with Sir Ben Kingsley.
And thanks to that same improvisation, which is really writing on your feet, I took a stand-up comedy writing workshop at Zanies in Nashville with a guy who is known in Hollywood as a "punch-up artist". He worked on such shows as M*A*S*H, SOAP, and the Golden Girls. It was his job to take a finished script and "punch it up", or make it funnier than it ever could be.
So I studied with the best.
And became great. In fact, just a few short years after learning these crafts, I was blessed by my Father in Heaven to get to perform comedy at The Kennedy Centre when I lived in DC. It was an experience like I've never had since, and sometimes I still can't believe it was real.
On January 9, 2009, I was evicted and had to move into my car with my three cats. I lost three part-time jobs thanks to my Lupus, and for the next few months, lived off and on in my car with my cats (I started with three, but a week after the eviction, the oldest one couldn't handle the stress and she died two weeks later, for which I still blame myself), a friend came to me in August, and said he had a friend who had a single room for rent. I took it sight unseen, and it was what changed my life. It was a huge room that allowed me internet access, and even my cats got to know and love hers. It allowed me the time I needed to write and that's when I began really promoting my books, and even working on my jewelry designs that had lived in storage for that whole time I was in my car.
Thanks to learning how to write about my own life for stand-up, I also began to branch out into fiction and put down those stories that had been floating around my mind for years. This lead to my first publication in DTB in 2002. I kept working on my first novel, and finally released that in December of 2010. In the spring of 2011, after selling six magazine articles to five different national magazines and continuing to sell my short-story collections on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, I decided to open an Etsy shop for my jewelry, and so that's when I started selling them here, too.
I'd discovered in January that I'd nearly used every bit of my unemployment, and since I hadn't sold enough books to sustain me, and couldn't find a job, I found myself staring at the concrete sidewalk as a bed a second time in my life, but this time, without a car; I was one day late with the payment and they repossessed it.
So what about the graphics?
Well, when I started doing all these cool things, I decided to start my own web-site to catalogue and sell them, and since it was before the days of blog popularity, it fit. During my first degree, I'd taken a computer art class and fell. in. love. But, I was unhappy with having to use someone else's graphics, so, like everything I've done in my life, I learned how to use an early version of Paint Shop Pro, a version I still rely on today, and started studying colour theory and design theory and technique, then felt equipped to make the web graphics for my own site.
But, something else incredible happened in that same spring.
I knew if I didn't do something to land on my feet soon, it was going to be the literal end of me and my boys. I had only enough money to last me until the beginning of February, with nowhere to go and no plans for staying there. It just so happened that the room I had rented in a fancy Spring Hill, TN neighbourhood was owned by an amazing lady whose ex- had gone to this top-rated engineering school nestled on the plateau in a nowhere town, and they had top-rated chemistry/physics/math/engineering programs. In fact, professors from MIT now refer to it as "the MIT of the South", with a reputation like that of Harvard. After talking to a professor, I found out they also had a Disability Services department which would help me with my Lupus. I applied in mid-March. And I prayed. And then I waited.
Bush had voted not to renew the unemployment extensions in December of 2010, so my time was limited. But, I also knew God had held me up and brought me this far, he certainly wasn't going to leave me.
Then, two weeks after applying to this school at the beginning of April, just two weeks after applying, one afternoon while riding home with L, she picked up the mail, and that's when I saw it: the big white envelope. She handed it to me, and said, "I think you've been waiting for this." It was the letter from admissions. With shaking hands and heart beating out of my chest, I opened it, all while whispering "Thank-you, Jesus" under my breath.
I let out a whoop and looked at her. "I've been accepted!" I had been accepted for the summer session to begin on June 6! I couldn't believe it! My dream of becoming a doctor since I was eight years old was finally coming true! And not only that, but I would be pursuing TWO doctorates; one in Astrophysics, and the other in Applied Mathematics. Hmmn. Should peope call me "Dr. Dr.?" HA. Plus, I had been awarded funds based on my undergrad grades which would begin two days before class.
Again, I had to close my eyes, take a step forward and trust the ground would be there when I stepped down, for God said that's how Faith works. It isn't something you can *see*, because then where would the faith be needed? No, it's something you *can't* see, because He wants us to rely completely on Him and for this farm girl with mild Asperger's, I rely heavily on logic.
And then something so unexpected happened, I can barely type it without crying. A group of authors on a Harper-Collins web-site I'd been a part of, heard about my situation back in February. Before I knew it, they'd wriggled my PayPal address out of me and I woke up the very next morning, with a strange e-mail announcement: YOU'VE GOT MONEY! It was from PayPal. I was sure it was some kind of mistake, but opened my account and I still can't believe what those wonderfully-sweet people had done for me! I had money. And not just a little. The money just kept coming. And coming. And coming. Every 30-minutes another announcement would arrive. And it was coming from all over the world. Canada, Australia, and the US, but mostly the UK and Scotland, since that's where Harper-Collins is located, right in downtown London. The most amazing thing is that for the most part, people just sent me $5.00. Now, most wouldn't bother with an amount so small. Finally, when everyone had given over that 2-day weekend period (before someone from HC came in on Monday morning and deleted the thread! *teehee*), I had over fifteen-hundred dollars to my name ($1,500.00!): it was just enough to cover my remaining rent, rent a U-Haul so I could pick up the rest of my things in storage, and get me through to June 2, the day I had to travel to my new home and set up my on-campus apartment. And since most of my things had been lost during the eviction that morning, I had to buy nearly everything new again.
Some who didn't have electronic accounts even sent something in the mail to me. I remember this one, sweet man, named Ray Jones. He sent me a private message. He told me he was retired and while he had a deal with Hyperion Press, still, he wasn't expecting huge success, but he enjoyed writing and reading. He asked me if it was okay with me if he mailed me something, and I said of course, any little bit helps.
10 days later, in the mailbox one afternoon, there was a plain brown envelope marked "By AIR MAIL par avion Royal Mail", and dated Valentine's Day, February 14, 2011. The stamp is red with a profile image of the Queen, and was $0.67. It was so precious that I still have it today. Inside the unadorned, very thin envelope, was some kind of money--a single bill--that had been folded, with a single yellow sticky note attached to the interior. It was in his handwriting, with a simple blue gel pen, and all it said was: "Hope you can change this at a bank. Ray Jones". Nothing more, or sappy, or condemning. But he took the time that day to walk to his mailbox, and pull a twenty pound note from his wallet, never knowing if it would make it across the Atlantic to its intended target.
I thought about cashing it once or twice when I didn't have food, but thought better of it. Keeping that one, single bill, reminds me that during dark, dark times, there are good people in this world who are willing to help you when you need it. I learned in that one weekend that when hope is completely gone and you can't see your way out, and you have no support system to help encourage you, life can turn in one second, on a dime, and your trajectory changed forever. So don't ever, EVER give up hope, no matter what.
I still can't believe Jesus loved me so much that he cared about my little situation. But he did. And he does. And He cares for you, too.
Thank-you for reading my story. I hope it has truly touched your heart. I love each and every gift I've been blessed with in my life, so if there is anything that I can do for you to make *your* life better and more joyful, please, do not hesitate to ask.
It's why I opened my little shop. To celebrate LIFE.
Owner, Designer, Creator
Pursuing double doctorates in Astrophysics/Applied Mathematics; BS trumpet performance; owner of GlitterCat Studios (web/floral/jewelry designer); published & award-winning coloured pencil artist; published author; TV/stage actor; stand-up comic.
Castillo, the feral-stowaway-turned-fat-lazy-housecat
Customer Service, Assistant
Newly-promoted to Assistant I & Customer Service Rep for comedic skills. Learned manipulation and craft at the knee of the master, Chairman Meow. Duties include: sniffing; spider torture; organisation of floor mousies; throwing snark, trash talking.
Bad studio assistant number 2. Someone tried to burn him alive in East Nashville, but God had other plans. He is my sweet baby and emotional support. He just turned 12 in 2017.
Assistant, Deceased (RIP) 5/2012 — 3/19/2017 💔
Bad studio assistant number 1 and ALWAYS will be. Chairman Meow died from feline diabetes on March 19, 2017, and I am gutted. The GlitterCats have now lost some of their shine. We miss you, Char-Char Binks. 😭
Playdoh, the original GlitterCat
Assistant, Deceased (RIP) 4/23/2005 — 10/16/2017 💔
Bad studio assistant number 3. 13-years ago, my 21-year-old & my grandmother passed, & Doh came screeching into my life and on top of my Chuck Taylor. He just crossed the Rainbow Bridge from Anaplastic Sarcoma. I. am. gutted. Du bist mein herz.
- Other Method
Returns & exchanges
- Custom or personalized orders
- Perishable products (like food or flowers)
- Digital downloads
- Intimate items (for health/hygiene reasons)
- Items on sale
Frequently asked questions
If you design these papers at 300 dpi, will they automatically print at 300 dpi? Please clear up the confusion about this for me.
First, we design in ppi (pixels per inch), and your printer uses dpi (dots per inch). It's a throw-back to the old dot matrix printers, but just because these were created at 300 ppi, does NOT mean your printer will automatically print at this resolution. You MUST check the settings on your printer to know at what dpi it is set to print. For instance, my own printer is automatically set to print at 600 dpi, and because my graphics were designed at 300, this means I will get a result of 300 dpi. YOUR PRINTER WILL NEVER PRINT BEYOND ITS DEFAULT SETTING. So be sure to check those settings in your printer properties menu to make sure you get the best quality printing possible.
What is your TOS/Usage/License policies?
You may use these digital papers for personal and small business commercial purposes only. Small business, for these purposes, constitutes a business of 3 employees or less.
Are your designs *really* completely original?
In June of 2016, I became an award-winning and published coloured pencil artist with my second painting, so I pride myself on using 100% original items in every design that I produce.
I've studied graphic design & colour theory and have been doing ORIGINAL graphics (no recapitulated clip-art for me!) for over 20 years, so every item in my designs will be completely original. The roses are hand-painted, the pearls and Christmas balls are designed with 3-D software, the jewels and other gemstomes are original and designed with software I have, and even the gold locket on the label is original! In fact, it's a published preset for a Photoshop plug-in!
So don't worry--you can be guaranteed to have a fully original design.
Do you accept custom orders?
In fact, working to custom specifications is one of my favourite, and best things to do.
So don't be shy with your ideas. We'll hash them out together. Just check my LinkedIn profile to read testimonials from past graphic design clients to see how much they enjoyed the process of collaborating on a design and then the joy they felt of watching it come to life.