I’ve often said in the writing workshops I teach that I make the mistakes so you don’t have to. Learn about my journey as a writer here:
“I devoured this book. Each chapter is filled with encouragement and inspiration. If you’re looking for something to feed your creative soul, this is it.”
—Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author
It’s the end of my book launch week, and it’s been a whirlwind of activity. Launching a book in a pandemic is a totally different experience. Typically, when one of my books is released, I like to get out to bookstores and libraries to do programming and book-signings. I had a “Legacy of Creativity” workshop planned in conjunction with the release where I would give out “magic pencils” (you’ll have to read the book to know what a magic pencil is) to attendees. I purchased thousands of them on eBay in anticipation. Everything has either pivoted to online or is postponed, so I pivoted too, offering some of those pencils inside packets of notepads that will be given out in select bookstores, as prizes for drawings, and for upcoming events.
I did one with John Reynolds of “Art Imitates Life”
A “Faith & Grief” podcast with Shelly Craig of Faith & Grief Ministries, which was more about my Refined By Fire book, but we also talked about how creativity can be a healing tool for grievers.
I was featured as a guest on “The Culture Buzz” radio show with John Busbee
My local library in Dubuque, Iowa, also interviewed me on their podcast.
Despite pivoting my own work programs to online, this is still a learning curve for me. I did my first two Facebook Live videos in conjunction with this book, but apparently didn’t do whatever I was supposed to do to download or save them. They still exist, but only on my Facebook Pages, so I shared them on my “Called to Be Creative” Facebook page, which is less cluttered than my other pages. So if you missed the “Great Woods Unboxing” video or the Launch Day “Tour of My Creative Space” CLICK HERE to see them on my Facebook Called to Be Creative Page. While you are there, Like my Page!
This was my most fun book to write. I enjoyed interviewing creative people for the “Creative Sparks,” coming up with jumpstarts for the “Ignite” activities at the end of each chapter, and I even enjoyed all the research I did to convince the reader that they have it in them to be creative. That I could write about my mother and the creative legacy she left was just icing on the proverbial cake.
You can purchase a copy of the book at your local bookstore or through Workman Publishing.
I began this blog eleven years ago, in June 2009. I was 49 years old. Four of my eight children still lived at home. The youngest would turn six that summer and my oldest had yet to turn 30. My husband David had survived cancer and our marriage was the best it had ever been. Determined to write another book before I turned 50, and spurred on by a supportive spouse, I’d made the decision to chronicle the history of couponing and refunding, a topic I had lived and breathed since 1979. Aware of the importance of a “platform,” I began blogging. The original title of this blog was “Mary Potter Kenyon: A Housewife Writer Dishes on Writing.” That somewhat old-fashioned, probably politically-incorrect housewife moniker was abandoned a few years later. A month after my initial blog posting, on July 4, 2009, encouraged by my husband to “begin already,” I spent a good ten hours at my kitchen table, frantically writing while drinking copious amounts of coffee. I completed an outline and what would become the first two chapters of Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America’s Extreme Obsession.
Three years later, failing to have sold the completed book, I would lose the man who inspired it. Three days after coming home from the hospital following a heart stent surgery, David died sometime during the night.
Signing a contract seven months after his death, the book that had been his idea in the first place appeared in our local Barnes & Noble window in the summer of 2013. Which just goes to show you; dreams can come true, but not always in the way or the timing we’d choose. Still numb with grief, I was devoid of emotion when I first spotted the display, valiantly attempting to feel what I was supposed to be feeling as an author whose book had just been released.
Occasionally, I succeeded. I am reminded of this when I see photos of me taken at various book-related events; when my smile is genuine and reaches the eyes.
I signed five more book contracts in the ensuing six years. Coupon Crazy had been my husband’s idea. Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage was our love story; a marriage revitalized by caregiving through cancer. Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace chronicled the losses of mother (2010), husband (2012), and grandson (2013) in the space of three years. It was just as much a story of faith as it was of grief. Neither of those books would have been written without my relationship with David, or the loss of him.
Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink, co-written with my long-time friend Mary Jedlicka Humston, was a turning point for me as an author. The subject matter, female friendship, while not directly related to grieving, still included details of how our friendship dramatically changed following my husband’s death.
At times I felt like I was a spectator, watching her enjoy what I had not been able to with the release of each of my previous books; books that would not have existed without David. It felt like both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because, as a co-author, I could vicariously enjoy what I had missed. A curse, because what I’d lost became all the more obvious, the loneliness heightened as I observed what it was to share one’s success with a spouse. When her husband Jim graciously brought flowers to both of us at a reading, I had to turn my face away lest he see the tears that were not his doing.
Expressive Writing for Healing: Journal Your Way From Grief to Hope, was a perfect companion to the expressive writing for healing workshops I began doing five years ago. While it’s debut in April 2018 fell through the cracks of my increasingly busy life (I was working on another book, looking for a new job and about to face a big move), I can honestly say it was the first book released since 2011 that I’ve experienced no residual sadness upon it’s release, which is interesting, considering the topic was, once again, grief-related.
So we come, full-circle, some eleven years after this aspiring book author’s feeble attempt to build a platform. A sixth book to be released since that day in 2009 when I began blogging. A book that began as a file folder labeled “Creativity” in early 2011, has come to fruition nine years later. And while grief does make a cameo appearance, (creativity is proven to be a healing tool), I feel nothing but excitement for the book that #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber endorsed this way: “I devoured this book. Each chapter is filled with encouragement and inspiration. If you’re looking for something to feed your creative soul, this is it.”
Called to Be Creative is for anyone looking to reignite that tiny spark inside of them and invite creativity into their lives through simple, everyday practices. A certified grief counselor and a Program Coordinator for Shalom Spirituality Center, Mary Potter Kenyon walks you step by step through the process of exploring your true potential in this inspirational guide to embracing your innate creativity. With in-depth research from the most notable creative authorities, insight from creative pioneers, her personal experiences, and small activities to kick-start your own creative revolution, Kenyon offers you everything you need to live a more creative life.
This book feels every bit the celebration my blog anniversary deserves. And there are two ways my blog readers can join in on the celebration. One way is to enter a drawing for a free signed advance copy of Called to Be Creative. To enter, simply comment beneath this blog post. One winner will be drawn on July 28.
The other way is to enter a Goodreads giveaway for a copy. You can actually do both, to up your odds of winning.