Shout out of the Week 4

I don’t know why I keep calling these shout out’s of the week when really, I post them maybe once a month….and they always seem to fall on the same day? Exactly? Without myself even trying to do that on purpose… The world is a mysterious place.


This shout out goes to an artist I’ve been following on Instagram for quite a while. Her name is Maruti Bitamin. She is an exceptional watercolor artist who creates these really detailed patterns and textures in most of her artwork. Here are some snapshots of her work.

Capture  Capture

The attention to detail and precision with which she manipulates watercolors is astounding to me. Those who have ever dabbled in watercolor painting know that it’s next to impossible to have controlled line-work. The water dilutes the paint, and when it is put onto a piece of paper it spreads out and goes everywhere. But somehow Maruti seems to have mastered this technique as you can tell from the pictures above.

Maruti is very connected to nature, and all of her drawings have this theme. She tends to post several drawings at least once a day, and they are all usually centered around water, earth, death & rebirth theme, Spring time, animals etc. She also has a very surrealistic style, sometimes going into the abstract as you can see below. I love how creative she is, and is always coming up with new designs like…every day!

Capture.PNG Capture Capture

Maruti has a store where you can purchase some of her prints, and various apparel items. So get yourself a T-shirt today! You can view more of Maruti’s artwork on her social media accounts here:


Art Block Excercise

Have you ever been stuck in an art block before? You just have no motivation or inspiration to create anything? I often find myself sitting in front of a blank page wanting to create something, but having no idea what to draw.

Well, I found a way to combat the art block blues. Grab some paper, and some watercolor paints firstly. And then just start indiscriminately dabbing random blob shapes onto your paper. Let it dry, and see what you get. My example is below. Oh, and don’t mind my messy ass paints. I’m just a complete wreck. 🙂


Just this step, by itself, can be pretty freeing. You don’t have to think about what you’re doing or why. You’re just making random shapes with no rhyme or reason to them. But that’s only the first part.

Next you will try to come up with a drawing for each color blob shape you made. I used this as an excercise for character creation, but you can really draw whatever you feel like. My doodles below are an example of what I’m describing.


And the important aspect of this is getting creative as you design something to fit the shape of the blob you created. Try to be as true to that shape as possible and really test your imagination. I think this is also a good exercise if you find your art style growing stale or if you’re not improving at the rate you would like to be. It gets your mind back to the basics of shapes & colors without the pressure of coming up with some grand masterpiece.

Let me know if you tried this exercise, and how you felt about it! I would love to see other people’s blob works as well.

Melting Your Artwork in 4 Steps

Ever since I joined this blog I have been wanting to do this DIY project. Melted art. I’ve created a few pieces in the past using melted crayons as you can see below.

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It’s a really relaxing technique since you don’t have to try so hard to get something just right. You just let the melting crayons go where they want to go, and there’s a certain freedom in that. You’ll understand what I mean by that as I explain the steps of this art style.

Step 1. Getting Your Supplies

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1.) Hair Dryer

2.) Canvas. I’m assuming you can use wood blocks or any other surface too. Just nothing too flammable as we will be applying heat.

3.) Crayons. It doesn’t matter what kind as long as they are the colors you would like.

4.) A utensil to hold your crayon in place. I used a plastic fork as that is all that I had on hand, but I’m sure toothpicks or pliers would work too.

Step 2. Pick Your Colors


These are the colors I chose for this example, but it’s good to have some sort of plan in advance as the melted colors will be blending and mixing as you go. For every color you add to the mixture the muddier your overall color collage will be, so it’s good to plan out when to add your darks and lights.

Step 3. Start melting!

Set up your canvas, and plug in your hair dryer. Secure your crayon with your utensil because if you don’t it will roll all over the place. Now just position your hair dryer close to your crayon, making sure it’s blowing air directly onto it. It may take a few seconds, but you’ll see it start to melt a little. You can keep it still if you like, or spread it around like a paint brush too. It’s abstract art, so just do what you want with it!

Step 4. Blending


Now again, this is art. So it’s totally up to you to decide what you want to do with your piece! But this is a great technique for blending colors in a really cool way if you do it right. Try mixing complimentary colors to achieve some interesting shades. The crayon will melt wherever you point your hairdryer, so you do have a bit of control over it. I recommend starting with your light colors, and then adding darks as there is no way to erase anything once it has been melted.


And voila! It’s done! You’ve got a cool finished piece, and you didn’t even have to struggle with drawing and erasing over and over, or mixing 10 different shades of blue to achieve the color you wanted. You just plug in, go, and hope for the best.

This is super easy, and I honestly finished this piece in about an hour. I recommend this for people who are interested in art, but don’t know where to start. You can really let your creativity flow and be very free form with this exercise with no pressure on ‘doing it right’. I find it therapeutic as well. It relaxes me for some reason? So, if you struggle with anxiety, and want to keep your hands and mind busy why not give this a try!


Coworkers: The good and the bad

Getting along with co workers in a small space


*I write this with a pain in my shoulder from where Brandon was stabbing me repeatedly in the same spot with his finger.  I was sassy, and he retaliated.*

As a disclaimer, I am talking about my own personal experience. Other jobs are much different than my own. Brandon, Meagan, and I are good friends, and have been for a long time, and now we just happen to be working together too. 

Tight spaces are hard on everyone, and even harder when it comes to working with people you have a good bond with. We are shoved into a small office, with just enough space for our desks, and some floor-nap space. We are very different people- despite how many times I hear “You and Brandon are the same person.”- and we have different ways of comfort. I like sunshine and soft music, whereas Brandon likes the cave setting and The Office playing in the background (Courtney finds sounds with words distracting and will often turn up her volume to extreme levels, because Brandon’s corner somehow amplifies sound at her) (and Courtney speaks in third person from time to time). We have learned to compromise; aka, the blinds are shut and Courtney’s headphones are noise-cancelling-ish because Courtney is nice (I’m kidding don’t hurt me).

NOTE: Take a floor nap. They suck, but they are oddly reviving.

Coworkers are like siblings. They will get on your nerves and drive you crazy from time to time. Just hearing them breathe will set you over the edge. You fight like cats and dogs, sometimes verbally, and sometimes non verbally.  The air will get so thick that you think you can reach out and pull at the ropes between you and smack the other person in the room. And this time, when you are bubbling with anger or irritation, is when you learn what kind of angry person you are. In our office, we are passive aggressive. “What are you working on over there?” “Who are you talkin’ to?” “Have you finished so-and-so’s project yet?” And the tension rises.

And then there are days where there is more kinship than working (Like after I told Brandon that his arm-poking was like Chinese water torture, we sat down and reminisced on high school times and made Meagan angry, to which Brandon granted me the greatest compliment: “You are naturally very smart.” Which I will promptly get tattooed somewhere on my body to commemorate such a day). You chat away and discuss the future and dream so big that you inflate the small amount of space that you occupy. You smile and you laugh and you tell stories and get side tracked in your time. Those are the days that make the hard days okay. Brandon and I have had some awful down moments and said some awful things, but I believe that it has made us a closer team.

At the end of the day, when your partner is your friend, all you can have is faith. Faith that he/she will get done the things they have set forth to do, and not hold your random bouts of frustration against you. It’s about knowing who you are working with, and trusting what you have established and what you are aiming to accomplish further on down the road.

My advice to you is: befriend your coworkers. Make them hate you and make them love you.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” –A tale of Two Cities


The Nope Book Tag

I was scrolling through the internet, and came across this video here:

A while back I created a post here of books I wanted to read in 2018, and I’m making my way at a snail’s pace through that list. But as I was listing everything that looked fun to read, it got me thinking about the books I’ve come across that were just…awful…or at the very least not what I thought they would be when I picked them up.

This is my list of Nope Books. And hey, this is all in good fun. I’m not trying to be negative, or bash the author or anything. This is just my own perspective for comedy purposes.

*Spoilers below! Proceed with caution if there is a book listed that you would like to read!

1. NOPE. Ending: A book ending that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage, or simply because the ending was crappy.

The Twilight Series.

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Everybody who has read Twilight can at least agree that the final book in that series was just…awful. Bella has a baby with Edward, and Jake imprints on her….Uhm…ew!? Bella develops her vampire power, which is PROTECTION. Yeah….kinda boring. But then again, so was she as a character. I will admit, I was a diehard Twi-Fangirl. Until I read that last book. Now I cringe when I hear the the phrase, “Team Edward or Team Jacob.” Ruined the entire series in my opinion.

2. NOPE. Protagonist: A main character you dislike and drives you crazy.

The Hunger Games.

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Now I might be in the minority on this one. But I didn’t like Katniss Everdeen. Firstly, her name is Katniss. Rhymes with Cat Piss anyone? Secondly, she was known for being cold and calculating. Yeah, she was a survivor, and sure she was a very strong female character. But did I like her personally? No. It was even mentioned literally in the book. Peta was the likable one. Katniss wasn’t. I still enjoyed the books for what they were. Good stories. But I wouldn’t invite Katniss to my dinner party.

3. NOPE. Series: A series that turned out to be one huge pile of NOPE. after you’ve invested all of that time and energy on it, or a series you gave up on because it wasn’t worth it anymore.

The Mortal Instruments Series.

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I LOVE the first 3 books of this series. They are beautiful. They are funny, scary, romantic, and just really well written. The books that come after? Hell to the no. I bought the 4th book, and didn’t even finish it. I think there are more books now, but I can’t be bothered to read them. It just got so boring and cliche. As far as I’m concerned, there are no more books in the series. It’s just the three.

4. NOPE. Popular pairing: A “ship” you don’t support.

Harry Potter’s Ron & Hermione.

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I love Ron. I love Hermione. I just don’t love them together. I’m sure this isn’t a popular opinion. But I would prefer her with Draco or someone less obvious like Neville. Ron can go off into the sunset with Lavender if he likes.

5. NOPE. Plot twist: A plot twist you didn’t see coming or didn’t like.

Lord Loss.

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There’s about 2 good twists in Lord Loss. The first twist is finding out that the main character’s family was a bunch of werewolves, and they have to do chess battles with Lord Loss to save them from turning into mindless animals for the rest of their lives. The second, is that the nerdy, chubby sidekick boy is also a part of this werewolf family. And his soul must be saved as well from Lord Loss. I did not see either of these twists coming, and that second twist in particular threw me. The whole time they had been alluding to someone being a werewolf, but it was actually the quirky, meek little boy that no one would suspect. Go figure.

6. NOPE. Protagonist action/decision: A character decision that made you shake your head NOPE.

Game of Thrones

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A lot of people don’t like Sansa Stark in this series. They say she’s selfish, silly, and was the reason for the downfall of the Stark dynasty. And, while all of that may have been true at one point, she was a young girl of (13? 14?).  I’m not excusing her actions because they were awful. I’m just saying I also did a lot of stupid shit at that age that I hope no one remembers. I partially blame Eddard Stark for the beginning of the end for his family. He was called to King’s Landing to be the Hand of the King. His honor, and duty to his friend Robert Baratheon drove him to uproot his family to King’s Landing, den of snakes and murderers. Robert asked him to come be his Hand, and while telling a King ‘no’ isn’t typically done, Eddard had a long standing friendship with Robert. He could have told him no thanks in my opinion. But instead, he was swayed by his friend, and honor as Lord of Winterfell to move to a far off land where they had no friends, and were surrounded by enemies to eventually all get killed (mostly).

7. NOPE. Genre: A genre you will never read.

Non-Fiction. If it’s real, I’m not reading it. Give me fantasy. Give me horror. Give me comedy. Give me romance. Just not some historical book about the invention of the printing press because that will put my ass to sleep real quick.

8. NOPE. Book format: Book formatting you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition

I don’t feel particularly strongly about this category. So I’m just going to skip past it, and hope no one notices.

9. NOPE. Trope: A trope that makes you go NOPE.

Only good looking characters are ‘likeable’. I don’t like the stereotypical, Hollywood painted characters that have god-like bodies who we are supposed to somehow relate to. What about the ugly girl/guy? I’d like to see some main characters that have a large, hooked nose rise up and be the one to defeat the dragon. Or the fat girl with pimples becomes the queen of a nation.

10. NOPE. Recommendation: A book recommendation that is constantly hyped and pushed at you that you simply refuse to read.

Fifty Shades of Grey.

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Read the first book. Just for funzies. I regretted it. It was a waste of my time, and mental capacity reading that book, and I refuse to read the others or watch the movies. It isn’t interesting. It’s just bad smut. The characters are cliche. The story is boring.

11. NOPE. Cliche/pet peeve: A cliche or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.

‘An orphaned kid is the only one who can defeat the big baddie’ is a pretty overdone cliche. It’s like the trauma of their parents dying gives them the strength to overcome any obstacle. And, while I understand that they are trying to garner sympathy from reader’s and make the character interesting with a rich backstory, the writer should be able to do all of that without killing off the main character’s parents.

12. NOPE. Love interest: The love interest that’s not worthy of being one. A character you don’t think should have been a viable love interest.

The Great Gatsby.

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Tom and Daisy Buchanan. *Le sigh* I’m sure we all wanted Daisy to leave Tom and run off with the mysterious Gatsby. Tom was a cheating flirt, and while Daisy wasn’t perfect either I so wanted her and Gatsby to have the romance where they fly off into the wind together on a magic carpet.

13. NOPE. Book: A book that shouldn’t have existed that made you say NOPE.

Mein Kampf. Haven’t read it. Don’t want to read it. It should be set on fire.

14. NOPE. Villain: A scary villain/antagonist you would hate to cross and would make you run in the opposite direction.

The Sandman Series.

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This series has a lot of weird, and creepy characters. But the one that stands out is literally Satan. Lucifer is a character in this book, and I would say a big, ‘NOPE’ to that one. I’m not messing around with a fallen angel with a chip on his shoulder.

15. NOPE. Death: A character death that still haunts you.

Death Note.

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This is a manga. And manga are technically books. So I’m counting this. But L’s death had me shooketh. I stopped the series. I refused to continue any more without L. I didn’t finish it until years later, and even then it still wasn’t enough to squelch the pain from losing L.

16. NOPE. Author: An author you had a bad experience reading for and have decided to quit.

Stephanie Meyer. Go back to question #1 for the reason why.

How to paint when you have no idea what you’re doing.

We all come from our own walks of life. We all start somewhere. As far as painting, we all have our own level of skill, whether that is beginner, intermediate, advanced, and of course the ‘I-don’t-have-a-clue-what-I’m-doing-what-even-is-painting-and-colors-and-blending?’

I found a really great resource if you fall into any of the categories above. No really. Anyone can do this. It’s a website called Social Artworking. Basically, you can choose any of the designs they have on their website (and there are a ton!), and no matter what you choose it will come with instructions on how to paint it. There are different levels of difficulty, and it will even say approximately how long the painting should take you from start to finish. So, you don’t have to go with anything too complicated if you’re truly a beginner.

You just follow the step by step instructions, and it comes with tracing paper and a design. So, you will lay the tracing paper down, and the design on top of it. Tracing it is easy, and then you just fill in the blanks with paint. It will even describe to you how much paint and colors to apply. (ex: 1 part burnt umber, 2 parts titanium white).

You can use your own paints and paint brushes, but they also have all of the supplies on their website as well if you need them.

You can be as free form, or as by the book as you want to be. Painting should be fun, so if you would prefer to add a happy sun to your landscape you can do that! If you like the painting exactly as they have it in the instructions then you can simply follow that too.

It’s also great for parties also! I recently had a painting party at a co-worker’s house, and this activity combined with some wine and appetizers made for a fun night! It was really great because we could help each other if someone was struggling with their piece.

Click the link below to get more information on how to order your supplies, or even become a consultant for the Social Artworking site.

Also, here is my lovely painting titled, ‘Birch Trees’. It was super fun to paint, and it didn’t turn out half bad if I do say so, myself!img_20180531_094626044.jpg

Updates on Brandon and the Buzz around The Teddy Bear Chronicles

So I dropped off the planet.


And that’s my fault.  I’m sorry guys.  Life gets in the way sometimes.  But from my time away, I bring tidings of good news!

Well, hints of good news.  I’m not going to throw my lot out too early like I did with the giveaway (RIP a lot of time and effort that went to nothing).  But a few days ago, we launched the book The Teddy Bear Chronicles: Hope In Paris!  by Donnalyn Vojta for presale.  Formerly titled Saved in Paris! the book garnered a lot of attention online and did very well in reviews.  Now, we get the first crack at the new edition and the sequel.  Can’t tell me that’s not pretty nice.  The full book goes live on the 20th of this month.  And THAT is only in preparation for the sequel that is being released only two months after that!  So if you’re a fan of psychological thrillers or just a good story with an interesting perspective make sure you check it out while it’s still available at that discounted rate!

LiveWritely readers will know I try to do something for y’all before I do it for everyone else (even when I fail, I try).  So here’s what I’m thinking.

I can’t do this for too many people just yet, but for the first 5 people who are subbed to the newsletter who leave a comment here, I’ll send you a copy of Hope in Paris! for your Kindle or iPad absolutely free.

Also, the services we have listed on this website are now formally available for quick checkout on   It’s a new feature we got permission to set up, which will make updating what is or isn’t available from us a lot easier for moving forward.

To celebrate, we’ve opened another 2 slots for the Day One Author program, and close to 20 time slots for Editing Hour.  We’ll also be adding a few new things that may be more interesting to some of you than what we currently have.  Thanks again for all your help and support!


I’ll be back this weekend a few more times I think.


Keep an eye out, and remember to Live Writely.



Brandon Cliffe




Shout Out of the Week 3

I haven’t done one of these in a hot minute. So! I would like to highlight one of my absolute favorite artists evah!

Jubilations AKA: Angel

This lady is my inspiration for everything. She works a day job at Subway, but she creates these amazing character drawings. I’m honestly surprised she’s not working at Disney/Pixar or some big shot studio as a character artist. Jubi will occasionally open up for commissions, but otherwise she just draws for fun.

She mostly draws her original characters, but she’s also really great at drawing monsters, creatures, and various beasties. You can find some of her works in the Art of Werewolves compilation book.

i wanted to kill my retinas and im willin to share the pain.

She will even occasionally make a short lil’ comic!

But what I love most about her work is the expression, and movement she includes in her characters. Even though they are still images you can almost picture them moving in an animated film.

“ Oh don’t you dare look back
Just keep your eyes on me.
I said you’re holding back,
She said shut up and dance with me!
This woman is my destiny
She said ooh ooh hoo
Shut up and dance with me (x)”

So! I just wanted to give a quick shout out to this lil’ gal. She’s boss. (And she’s literally little. Just a short, wee lassie). If you would like to see more of Jubilation’s work you can visit her at the links below:

Spring is heeere!~



Yes, yes, I know. Summer is only a month away. But that’s why it’s time to celebrate Spring while it’s still HERE! Plant some flowers. Do your Spring cleaning. And hey, it’s the time of new beginnings, so why not start a new project while you’re at it?

New Traditions Publishing is accepting submissions right now! So, if you have this great idea for a book, but have been struggling to actually bring it to life New Traditions can help with that! Are you almost finished with your project, and just need those final touches to get through the home stretch? New Traditions can help with that too!

Ghost writing, editing, publishing, and even designing custom book covers are just some of the services that are being offered right now. Click the link below for more information about submitting your work, or simply email to get your free quote today!

Oh! And just so this post doesn’t sound too much like a cheesy infomercial, here is a picture of a cute puppy reading a book.

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We have not died (physically), do not fret! Live-writely has not been neglected. We have been knee-deep in a river of words that is taking us to new places.

At New Traditions Publishing we have done a lot of searching and have come up with a cure (I hope you are all used to the shit that flies out of my mouth when I’m just trying to fill the page).

But no, this is actually an apology for being quiet, and also a promise for a more active future.

We have put our hands into different things and are trying out new ways to spice up our readers lists, and we hope that all of you love it as much as we do.

New Traditions Publishing is currently working with five new contracts (which means 5 new books for you all to fall in love with. Seriously, we are totally inspired by all of them and are really excited to show them to the world), as well as a podcast that we are stoked to work on, and another more nerdy concept that we shall reveal later on down the road.

So get strapped into your seat and follow this crazy roller coaster with us.

Look out for the new book releases, as well as giveaways and things coming up!


“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt


-Courtney the magical and mysterious