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6 06, 2016

Recharging the Writer’s Brain Well

By |2016-06-04T12:22:52-05:00June 6th, 2016|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

learningIt’s been said, “When you stop learning, you stop growing.”

Or, as Albert Einstein put it “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

Many professions recognize and require ongoing learning.

As a teacher, I needed 40 hours of professional growth per year.

As an antique dealer, I constantly read price guides, watched Antiques Roadshow, and friended Kovel’s on Facebook to keep up-to-date on antiques and pricing.

As a writer, I attend a writing conferences or workshop every year. Some are on-line or podcasts; others in person.

Those in person conferences are the ones I enjoy the most because I’m not only learning I’m meeting my people. We writers are a breed unto ourselves and networking with those who understand is a treat.

Over the winter, health issues made writing difficult. I sorta lost my momentum. My zeal to write. (In case you’ve wondered, that’s why you’ve been missing new blog posts here.)

I truly needed interaction with my kind and some brain filling.

In May I attended a mini-con presented by the RWA chapter, Colorado Romance Writers. This well-organized conference delivered. And, delivered superbly.

The fellow writers were warm, friendly, and oh so understanding. We spoke the same language.

The daylong lecture from Donald Maass, President of Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York, challenged and charged my muse, as I had expected.

I’ve been attending Maass workshops since 2006. After decades in the publishing business,The Donald truly knows his stuff. His well-used books on craft line my bookcase line my bookcase —Writing the Breakout Novel (2001), Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (2004), The Fire in Fiction (2009) , The Breakout Novelist (2011) and Writing 21st Century Fiction (2012).

If you’re a writer looking to push your craft to the next level, you should check out opportunities at Free Expressions Seminars and Literary Services  and/or subscribe to the Writer Unboxed blog, where Mr. Maass is a monthly contributor.

That weekend conference  refilled my brain well and supercharged my muse. I’m back on course and busy pushing to have the final book in the Vietnam War Era trilogy released this year.

How do you refill your own brain well?

If you’re a writer, I highly recommend attending an in person writer’s conference or workshop.

27 01, 2014

A Lesson in Fad Collectibles for Investment – Part 1

By |2014-01-27T06:00:08-06:00January 27th, 2014|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

I’m an avid antiques collector/buyer/seller. Though I’m not so active in the business part of antiques anymore, I am still out there buying for my personal collections, evaluating estates, and doing appraisals.

Too often, when I do an estate evaluation or appraisal, I have to explain to heirs how little a loved one’s collection is truly worth. That’s why I wanted to talk about fad collectibles.

A fad collectible is an item or group of items that rise in popularity, flourish, then fade until the value of the item often drops below the original purchase price.

If you’re an antiques dealer in the business of buying and selling, that’s not so bad. Sometimes you have to take a loss and sell for what you can get.

If you’re the consumer who bought a certain collectible(s) as an investment, fading fads can sting.

Here are three examples of fad collectibles that rose and faded so that the value is currently quite low.

Hummel figurines (also known as M.I. Hummel figurines or simply Hummels) are a series of porcelain figurines based on the drawings of Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel, O.S.F. hummel one

W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik in Germany first made the porcelain figurines of children with sweet faces in 1935. They became popular in the U.S. after soldiers returning from World War II brought them home as gifts for wives, mothers and grandmothers. Original quantities sold quickly and soon old figurines, identified by the mark, rose in price.

Collectors snatched up available figurines, forcing an increase in producing more figurines. Plates with Hummel figures were also made. Soon the market was flooded with Hummels. Interest dropped.

The secondary market for the figurines and plates virtually disappeared.

A vibrant speculator market in the figurines emerged again in the 1970s. Prices skyrocketed then floundered. Today most Hummels sell for less than $50.

beaniesBeanie Babies are the line of popular stuffed animals, made by Ty Inc. in late 1993. The inner “posable lining” and plastic pellets (or “beans”) rather than conventional stuffing give Beanie Babies a flexible feel.

Hundreds of different animals were made, some in limited or special editions, some were “retired” and became hard to find.

By 1995, Beanie Babies were a hot collectibles fad. I was selling them in my shop as fast as I could buy them, especially the McDonalds’ kids’ meal beanie sets.  The collectible craze ended in 1999, when Ty Inc. stopped production.

Production restarted in 2000 and in early 2008, Ty released a new version of Beanie Babies called Beanie Babies 2.0, which provide its owner with a code to access a Beanie Babies interactive website.imagesPIBWS14Y

Renewed interest in these new Beanies did nothing for those of us who have a stash of the early Beanies in a box in the attic or closet.

imagesA4X6CILULimited Edition Items This can include collector plates, Christmas plates and ornaments, anything Franklin Mint—dolls, coins, figurines and die-cast cars—Norman Rockwell merchandise, paperweights, figurines, bells, enamel boxes, spoons, mugs and steins have all been offered in limited editions. Any item promoted as limited editions, limited by quantity or period of production is considered a collectible fad.

Limited editions were a new idea during the 1970s and quickly became a fad. Clubs were formed and conventions were held so collectors could buy and sell older editions of items. Collectors saw prices rise, ads promoted “investment” possibilities, and many people bought large collections.

Those same collectors were shocked in the 1990s when prices plummeted and their “investment” turned out to be a loss. Today’s younger buyer often considers such items kitsch.

imagesICP4MTYXHaving the original box and paperwork increases value, but most items languish in closets, yard sales or resale shops.

That said every Christmas since the 1980s I order the collectible White House ornament and a Texas capitol ornament. Someday my heirs will hear the same thing I tell others.

I’m not saying don’t invest in collectibles.

Truth is there’s no way to predict what collectible or antique will remain a profitable purchase and what won’t.

Based on my years of experience, my best advice is to buy what you like and enjoy the piece(s).

Next week we’ll talk about Precious Moments, Cabbage Patch kids, and Longaberger baskets.

22 11, 2012

Grateful for YOU

By |2012-11-22T08:33:37-06:00November 22nd, 2012|Uncategorized|3 Comments

I’m thankful that in this great big blog world we have connected.

If you’ve read my about page, you know I’m a writer and an antiques dealer/collector. Ephemeron fascinates me. That’s why I chose this particular greeting today.

Not familiar with the term?

Ephemera (the plural form) refers to something transitory or short-lived. Items like pamphlets, notices, tickets, postcards or greeting cards designed to be useful or important for only a short time. In this age of technology, we’re losing ephemera.  Especially old postcards like these.

 
Back reads “from Ray to the Baby 1913 H. R. M.”

“Wishing you a Peaceful Thanksgiving Day; With all of Earth’s fruit from the blossom of May.”

“North South East and West; Let’s all join hands So that we may truly rejoice on Thanksgiving Day” To Marguerite from Grandma, 1915.

Each card undoubtedly has a story. Who was Ray and why did he send a Thanksgiving card to Baby? Were Marguerite and Grandma feuding and needed to join hands? There’s definitely a story connect to that one.

The writers among us could probably plot some compelling stories based on these old postcards. I think that’s why I find ephemeron so intriguing.

But just for today, let’s forget about writing.

Instead, let’s

Sit around the table and visit with family and friends.

Cheer for our favorite football team. Or nap.

And most important, remember to take the giblets out of the turkey!

Thanks for showing up today to read my blog.

I’m going to enjoy my blessings today.I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving day with your family and friends.

See you here on the 26th.

6 11, 2012

Tipping point and the course of human events

By |2012-11-06T09:12:34-06:00November 6th, 2012|Tuesday Tipping Point, Uncategorized|4 Comments

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Anyone recognize that paragraph? I hope so. It’s the introductory paragraph to the Declaration of Independence. My fingers automatically typed those words instead of what I was meaning to say thanks to some teacher who made us memorize it and the Preamble to the Constitution.

Guess I became sidetracked by all the political ads and chatter everywhere. Today we have the option to cast a ballot for the Presidential candidate of our choice.

Now you go do the same. It’s our right and our privilege.

But I digress, the course of events that I meant to reference is that point in our lives when we recognize the time for change has arrived and we must do some personal downsizing.

No denying. All of us reach such a point sooner or later. By choice or by death.

As an antiques dealer, I’ve done enough estates – either as organizer, buyer or seller – to know that all our stuff ultimately has to go. Hearses don’t pull U-Hauls. We’re no longer an Egyptian pyramid culture where we entomb our worldly goods with us.

Recently, my husband and I returned from our vacation home and looked around at our beautiful home in the suburbs of the nation’s 4th largest city and experienced a tipping point.

We asked one another, “Why do we need all this stuff?”

The obvious answer was we don’t. For 4-5 months every year, we live in a small, small house in the Rio Grande National Forest and love every minute of it. We come back to hustle and bustle and headaches. So we asked ourselves, “Why?”

That’s when we reached the tipping point and decided to sell our house and stuff and vie for a simple life in the woods.

Our children are extremely grateful that they won’t be saddled with the grueling task after we’re gone. I think watching us disburse estates of our parents, his older sister, and our aunt and uncle convinced them it was an arduous job.

We’ve discovered a fringe benefit — seeing our children enjoy the things of their childhood and objects from our home in theirs.

That’s Chicken Wrangler Sara and her original Barbie house. She couldn’t believe we’d kept it all these years!

Our son and his son playing chess on the table where my husband and son played many a game.

This knife set (a wedding present to my husband and me) now hangs in our youngest daughter’s kitchen.

On Tuesdays, I’ll be blogging about our journey to simplify and the amazing freedom we’re finding as we turn the stuff loose. I’ll tell you how we decided what to get rid of and what to keep and how we disbursed the stuff.

Probably not every Tuesday. After all, this is a monumental task that takes time.

Plus I have another book due out this year. Gotta get in my writing time.