Creative Careerist: Desiree Roundtree

Desiree Roundtree is an only child, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.

After high school, she launched herself directly into the workforce entering into the dreaded world of financial aid and becoming nothing short of a wizard at it, even though she hates math. Crunching numbers daily she found her struggle to put words onto paper overwhelming and you could find sketches of stories on random papers strewn throughout her life.

She is an adult college student now, taking online courses that she can fit between being the wife to a superhero and the mother to a warrior princess. She began to focus on doing what she wants to do with the rest of her life, not just doing what she has to do. A Creative Writing class really opened the gates for her even though she began writing at a very young age and her imagination got her in trouble many times throughout her youth.

She met her husband and they shared two beautiful years together before they welcomed a daughter into the world. They still live in Brooklyn.

Twitter: @timesinbklyn
Tumblr: The Bklyn Times
Blogger: Times in Brooklyn

What does an average day look like for you in your creative career?
An average day in my creative career looks like me picking through my purse for all the scraps of paper I scribbled ideas on during the day or piecing together notebooks, notes and journals for story starts or ideas to incorporate into things I am already working on.

How did you get to where you are now in your career? What key moments, decisions or circumstances brought you here?
To put it simply, I started writing. I began to take myself seriously as a writer and creative being. I started to realize that just because I wasn’t able to do it right now full time and have it be lucrative enough that I shouldn’t shelf my dream for the safety net of my bank account. I took myself seriously.

What excites you most about your work?
I love what writing gives you–sometimes it’s strength or much-needed weakness. With the pieces I have written so far I love looking at how my mind works from the outside in. Then I realize that I might be a little crazy and that excites me too since only the best people are.

What is its greatest challenge for you?
My greatest challenge is attempting to remain a fresh voice in a world where everyone wants a piece of this pie. Rejection is pretty hard too!

How do you get your best ideas?
When I decided that it was time to really do this I had a million ideas and they all fell flat. I couldn’t figure out what I was missing, why nothing punched, why I felt no connection to the words. Then I started reading and stopped writing. The more you read, the better you write.

What do you do when you get stuck?
It really depends on how athletic I am that month or how sick I feel (I have Lupus and Fibromyalgia). But lately when I hit a block I try to stretch, breathe, realize that being stuck doesn’t mean it won’t come, it will. Mostly I don’t give up on myself.

How do you make sure you make time for creativity in your life?
I write constantly. Like I said earlier, even if it is a million ideas on receipts or sometimes even my hand–I write.

What advice do you have for other aspiring creatives who want to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t give up. No one will have faith in your work if you don’t. You have to learn to be your own biggest fan. Sometimes that could be the hardest part, not letting the rejections get in the way of the acceptances you want.

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Creative Careerist: Mark Slade

1421469_693317140679035_780817517_nMark Slade lives in Williamsburg, VA, with his wife and daughter, Chihuahua and a frisky Pomeranian.

He has written stories published in Burial day, vampire anthology You Can’t Kill Me–I’m Already Dead, Weirdyear, Yesteryear,The Rusty Nail, Linguistic Erosion, and other publications. He just released his first novella, a weird Western/fantasy titled A Six Gun and the Queen of Light.

He is also the host and sometimes narrator of the story podcast DARK DREAMS; and runs Nightmare Illustrated and works with Horrified Press.

His influences are Richard Matheson, Rod Seling, Robert Bloch, Charles Beaumont, Robert E. Howard, Ed Mcbain, Charles Addams, Mad Magazine, and of course, Led Zeppelin.

What does an average day look like for you in your creative career?
Basically, I wake up after working an evening shift, answer emails about the magazine or podcast, answer Facebook messages. Write a little, work on the mag, write some more, interact with family then go to work, come home hit the email again and Facebook.

How did you get to where you are now in your career? What key moments, decisions or circumstances brought you here?
I guess when Burial Day published my first story. I started Dark Dreams podcast and Blackout City Podcast with Frank Larnerd. Then a few months later Blood Moon Rising and Horrified Press began publishing me. And now with Nathan Rowark, I have Nightmare Illustrated magazine. I still get tons of rejection letters, but I keep moving on.

What excites you most about your work?
When someone tells me they like it. Really only reason, besides getting the stories out of my head, that I do this, is to get readers and connect with people.

What is its greatest challenge for you?
Oh, right now, fill over 50 pages of a magazine with enough art and stories and also sell enough copies of the mag. Hopefully we’ll meet our goals.

How do you get your best ideas?
Late at night, hopped up on caffeine, or walking my Pomeranian.

What do you do when you get stuck?
For a story, I walk away from it for a day or so, or I start another story. That usually works cause I feel guilty not working on it.

How do you make sure you make time for creativity in your life?
I just make time. Kind of made writing and all connected to it my new hobby. Which I don’t watch much TV anymore except a movie, a show I’m interested in, or a Cowboys game. Plus everyone in my family has their own thing they do.

What advice do you have for other aspiring creatives who want to follow in your footsteps?
I don’t know exactly what advice, because I’m not all that successful, I’ve only been at it steadily for less than two years. I guess just keep going, don’t be discouraged. If one thing doesn’t work, try it from a different way. Eventually something good will happen. But that depends on your view of success. I like what I’m doing, I feel like ive achieved something if I finish a story.

Creative Careerist: Catherine Marche

Catherine Marche designs and makes jewelry that is characterized by its chic and elegance, with a hint of French playfulness. Catherine believes that every woman deserves to look stunning and spoilt with beautiful and playful pieces that will enhance their inner beauty and be a statement or the mood of the moment. She sells through several designer outlets throughout the UK and USA and works to commission. View her designs and artwork at www.catherinemarche-designs.com.

Creative Careerist jewelry designer Catherine MarcheWhat does an average day look like for you in your creative career?
Not everyday looks alike.

It usually starts with dropping off my little ones to school.

Then, depending on the day, I head off to my studio in Hatton Garden and share my time between the workshop, trips to gemstone dealers, post office, taking pictures of work in progress and assay office … or I go to JeDeCo , the jewelry showroom and gallery I share on the Southbank with a few other designers and makers to meet clients and sketch new ideas.

I enjoy the fact everyday is different, and brings me new experiences and new challenges.

Early afternoon is time to juggle with family life again and I usually spend a bit of time back to my office in the late evening to deal with emails, social media and my website.

I also block a few hours each month to attend conferences or learn a new skill.

How did you get to where you are now in your career? What key moments, decisions or circumstances brought you here?
After working as a maths teacher and as an IT engineer for many years, I wanted to explore my keen artistic interest and went back to school, where I trained again as a goldsmith.

A couple of years into my studies, I was shortlisted as a finalist for a jewelry award by Holts Academy of Jewellery, was a recipient of the Getting Started Award by the Company of Goldsmiths, and for the Precious Award.

I am also an active member of jewelry associations in the UK, and my work has been published in a few jewelry books and magazines.

Creative Careerist jewelry designer Catherine MarcheWhat excites you most about your work?
The most exciting thing is to fuse original ideas to create bespoke jewelry pieces for my clients with the challenge of making their dream come to life.

Each new creation is a new dream to share. I enjoy the freedom that being a designer gives me. Having clients who like and order my pieces from the four corners of the globe is a real thrill.

What is its greatest challenge for you?
My challenge is combining family life with my work as I can be inclined to carry on working for too long when back at home.

How do you get your best ideas?
My best ideas just come to me when I am in a great mood, listening to music or “playing” with materials. I also tend to doodle whenever there is a pen next to a bit of paper or on the phone.

I also find inspiration from my cultural heritage, from my travels, the street, the fashion world, vintage and the beauty of couture, from the materials I am dealing with, from the colors I am inspired by.

Sometimes, I will think of a word, and create a line or shape that expresses it.

At other times, I may be inspired by a gemstone and create a setting around it to enhance its beauty.

What do you do when you get stuck?
Luckily, this has not happened yet. In fact, I do not have enough time to explore all my ideas or I would work 24/24h.

How do you make sure you make time for creativity in your life?
I either set creative time in my timetable or use the time I commute in the tube to sketch ideas.

What advice do you have for other aspiring creatives who want to follow in your footsteps?
Believe in yourself, be enthusiastic, work hard and enjoy your days. Do not hesitate to ask for help and advice. Entice the service of a professional photographer to make sure your creations look their best. Promote, create, have fun!

Influences: How to Control Yours

We’re surrounded by influences.

They’re everywhere. And they’re getting in our heads all day, every day, from advertisements on the radio to what our friends think. They impact what we think, and sometimes even how we think (consider: how similar are some of your thought patterns to those of a sibling or spouse?).

These influences affect our choices, and our choices affect our influences, round and round. But there is no way to simply avoid influences.

You can’t escape it.

But you can control it. How? It’s not really all that hard.

Choose carefully.
You are what you eat. This goes for your mind as well as your body. Your friends, clubs, coworkers, the shows you watch and even your hobbies influence you. So then, you can decide what has the ability to influence you with what you choose to give your time to. Choose wisely. Pick the things that hold value for you.

Filter your intake.
You’re not always in a position to control your influences. You can’t determine who your family is, and you can’t always be so choosy about your work environment. But you have a brain—use it. Awareness about what you are taking in, the dynamics at play and the motivations behind them, can help you build a filter to take these influences in through and protect you from simply absorbing the ones you don’t want to buy into.

Limit your consumption.
I was recently introduced to the Continuous Creation Challenge via the Nurturing Creativity blog. The idea is that to tune into your inner voice, you turn off the outside ones—stop consuming and focus for a short period solely on creating. Like all fasts, it’s not a healthy long-term option, but when done for a short time, it can help you jumpstart a fresh perspective. Are there influences it would serve you to remove or limit? I know I can think of a few I could stand to quiet.

We don’t like to think that we can be influenced so easily affected by others. But not all influences are bad. If you live thoughtfully, you can be a better person for your influences. I heard of a study that showed that individuals with stronger religious identities were less swayed by brand identities. And where would be we without the influence of the great artists who came before us?

It’s okay to accept and even embrace our natural inclination toward influence. It’s part of connection. You just have to be mindful of it, too.

Creative Careerist: Sheenah Freitas

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neek at heart, Sheenah Freitas has a love for the whimsical and magical. She looks to animated Disney movies and Studio Ghibli films for inspiration because of the innovative twists on fairytales, strong story structures, and character studies. When not writing, you might find her in a forest where she’s yet to find any enchanted castles. The first two books in her trilogy, The Chosen and The Number, can be found online in ebook and print format at all major book retailers. She also owns a small press where she publishes YA and fantasy works. You can find more about her at her website at: http://sheenahfreitas.com.

What does an average day look like for you in your creative career?
It varies from day to day. Having my own small press, I find myself working on different stages of production for books. I just started edits on a book this week, so for the next couple of weeks I’ll be editing. And then there are times when someone might contact me to do some freelance cover or formatting work and I work around that. In the evenings, I tend to work on my own writing projects.

How did you get to where you are now in your career? What key moments, decisions or circumstances brought you here?
Well, initially I wanted to work in pharmaceuticals. However, after failing miserably in my chemistry class, I decided I should do something else, but wasn’t sure what exactly. My dad suggested I pursue writing because it was the first dream I had when I was younger and writing was always a hobby, so why not? I took the plunge, managed to get signed with a small press and then about a few months with them I was notified that they were closing down their fiction side. Having experience in web and graphic design and a solid foundation on the ins and outs of the publishing industry, I thought I’d try putting out my own work through my own press.

What excites you most about your work?
I think it’s exciting that I get to do something different every day. If I get bored editing or think I need a break doing covers, I can always switch gears and work on something else. Because trust me, there’s always something that needs to be done.

What is its greatest challenge for you?
Ensuring the work is the best it can be. I look at everybody’s work and I push them to produce the best writing that I know they’re capable of. My authors don’t know it, but I’m actually harder on myself than I am them.

How do you get your best ideas?
By everyday life. Sometimes I’m out and about and I see someone or I hear something and I think, “What if?”

What do you do when you get stuck?
Work on something else! For me, getting away from the problem helps clear my head and my frustration.

How do you make sure you make time for creativity in your life?
Creativity is everything to me. I love to create. Even in my spare time, I’m creating something whether it be working on a knitting or sewing project, making cookies, or painting a picture.

What advice do you have for other aspiring creatives who want to follow in your footsteps?
Just do what you love. Keep creating, keep dreaming, and one day everything will pay off.