Thursday, April 10, 2014

Upcoming Classes to Sharpen Your Skills

Are you looking to sharpen a current skill or learn something new? 
Continuing Education, Training & Innovation is the best place to start!

Checkout the upcoming classes below to see if the perfect learning opportunity is waiting for you. All you have do is click here and simply search by the class number to get started!

For more information on these great classes, visit our website at, or click here to register today . You can also call us 701-224-5600701-224-5600 or call us at 877-846-9387877-846-9387 today!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Textile Bootcamps - coming soon to Enrichment!

Love fabrics?  Interested in learning to design your own prints and dye your own fabrics?  Upcoming Textile Bootcamps are for you!

Join costume designer and master dyer Linae Bieber for fabulous fabric excursions with Japanese tie-dye and super-simple batik.  Work with brilliant, permanent colors and various ways of creating patterns on cloth! You will try out 2-3 techniques each class.

Textile Bootcamp:  Japanese Shibori on Silk

April 8 and 17, 7 – 9 p.m. 

Learn an Amerian take on the ancient Japanese dye tradition of Shibori, or “wrapping.” We’ll learn several traditional patterns, altered to fit our American sensibilities, each class period. We’ll try out hot and cold dye techniques and discuss natural dye traditions. Choose from silk scarves or yard goods. A supply fee of $20 is payable to the instructor at the start of class. Class #8583

Textile Bootcamp:  Easy Batik and Screen Printing
April 29, 7-9 p.m.
Try out super-simple techniques for working on lightweight silk---easy batik, stamp, stencil and screen printing. We’ll use an ultra-light textile paint that mimics in every way the performance of dye, with the exception of wait time and fading! Choose from silk scarves or yard goods. Class #8565

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ask an Author, Part 3: Sci-Fi Edition

by Tempe O'Kun, veteran Enrichment Instructor, BSC grad, 
and award-winning novelist of Sixes Wild: Manifest Destiny

In this series, I'll be going over some of the most common questions I get asked as a professional writer.

You can check out the previous articles here:

"Why do you write science fiction and fantasy?"
One of the things I enjoy most about speculative fiction is how it allows me to change the reader's expectations. For example, you could have a world like ours, but where the Roman Empire never fell or unicorns built a lunar base in the 60s. This would mean you could comment on social/political/ethical issues without the reader already having her mind made up about matters (since they never happened). You reduce the risk of offending the reader before you can show them a new point of view, which is an effective way of communicating. 

"Shouldn't a fantasy world be more unique? Why do so many have elves and dwarves (or aliens and robots)?"
In an interesting twist on the previous question, you can have a world populated by established types of characters. Readers walk into the story knowing goblins are small and nasty, coyotes are tricky, and starship captains are intrepid. You don't have to explain these aspects of the setting, which keeps the pace up and can make the reader feel more immersed in the world, since they know how the rules work. This trick works for countries too, as can be seen in this "generic fantasy map" by the author of the Eragon series:

That being said, all works should strive to be unique, no matter the genre. One way to do this is by subverting these expectations, say by having a genial goblin, a guileless coyote, and a chicken-hearted starship captain. 

"Shan't thou useth ornate patois at thine every occasion?"
I use flowery prose sparingly, especially in dialog. Here's why: 
1) Readers may not know what you're talking about. — While reading is a fun way to learn new words, I write stories, not vocabulary sheets. Many readers gloss over words they don't know or stop to look them up, both of which break the flow reading. You can mitigate this by keeping in mind who your audience will be. People may also find an overly florid style condescending, specifically if...

2) You may not know what you're talking about. — Even if you only use words you know (please do this), you may not know their origins. I've read plenty of stories where the author is so completely mixing and matching modern and old-timey vocab, or using so much outdated language, that I have to stop and dissect every sentence. This isn't engaging. 

Neither rule is absolute. And experimenting with the vernacular of different times and places can lend authenticity to one's work. Just do your homework—the way people talked in Renaissance Europe or the American Old West are probably different, or at least far more diverse, than how you'd assume. 

"When are you gonna write real books about war and cancer? Grown-up things like that?"
All fiction is genre fiction, with its own tropes, themes, and clich├ęs. Genres are lenses we place over stories, cloaking them in settings and scenarios. A good plot with good characters would be good no matter the genre you color it. 

Another important consideration here is the assumption that if something's fun, it can't also be art. I consider any creative endeavor that evokes the emotional response intended to be successful art. With that in mind, steamy romance novels and wacky sci-fi adventures are no less art than more dour work. Expecting all great books to be grim and serious is like expecting all great music to be grim and serious. 

"Where do you come up with your ideas?"
You can only write what you know, so I stay curious. I try to get out and see the world as much as possible. I talk to people who come from different backgrounds from mine as much as I can. People love talking about their interests/lives, so strike up a conversation with folks during idle moments. 

For example: when on the phone with customer service and we're both waiting for something, I talk to them about their job. I usually lead with something like "How is being a [whatever] different from what you see on TV?" They're usually happy to have someone engage them like a human being instead of a voice you grumble at until your problems is fixed. The same applies to receptionists, janitors, taxi drivers, lunchroom workers, IT staff, people next to you on a plane, et cetera. 

I'm told some people have something called shame (I'm not very familiar with it), but there are plenty of paths to discovery that don't involve talking to strangers. Having diverse tastes in literature is a fantastic way to boost your creativity. Even just poking around on Wikipedia after looking something up can lead to inspiration. I know authors who buy professional magazines that have nothing to do with their career, just to get ideas. 

"Why do you only write about animal-people with fancy hats?"
When it comes to choosing your subject, I really recommend writing what YOU are interested in. Many aspiring writers I've met have mentioned trying to jump on what they see as the current trend. I've found this to be unwise for several reasons: 1) by the time you finish your teen vampire romance thriller, the masses may well have moved onto swamp monster detecive noir or something; 2) many people will try the exact same idea—even if yours is a great new twist, it may get lost in the crowd; 3) you're more likely to actually complete a story you personally find interesting. I've always found I'm happiest writing in my own little niche, the nexus of my various personal interests and proclivities. 

That being said, if writing about the Creature from the Black Lagoon talking in monologue and solving crimes gets you energized, go for it. As my fans can tell you, my mantra has always been: "Write the sorts of stories you'd want to read."

"Should I have violence/sex/poetry in my book?"
If the story needs it. Everything in a novel should advance the plot and/or mood: every scene, every sentence, every word. Much like the previous question, then answer here not to conform to what other people might want, but what how you want to express yourself and what makes sense. Let your book happen, then figure out its target audience. Eventually, if you're putting plenty of work out there, you'll build up a following of people who like how you write. 

"I have one great story idea I've been working on for ten years. I should be a writer, right?"
Maybe. I've found everybody has a story in them; writers just have so many they have no choice but to write them down. This doesn't mean you shouldn't explore your pet writing project, but I've found people sometimes conflate "I like writing" with "I want to make my living writing." For the sake of your sanity, I recommend most people start out slow, posting projects online and sharing them with friends or classmates. 

"Now that you're published, you earn a lot of money off your books, right?"
Published authors have a pretty wide range of incomes, most of us see only modest royalties. Most of us also have day jobs. And really, that's fine—there's no shame in writing part time or as a hobby. Look up the biography of your favorite author: they've all had jobs outside the field of writing. This can actually work to your advantage, since it exposes you to interesting characters and scenarios you'd never have encountered at home writing.

That being said, you have some real cost advantages over other sorts of artists. You don't have to pay for paint or tools or musical instruments. You just need a computer with a working keyboard, which you're probably reading this on now. 

"I quit my day job to write and am giving myself six months to get published or I'm a failure! Great commitment, huh?"
Go get your job back. Seriously. 

Writing, like any art, is subjective and may not take off immediately. Even the biggest authors started small. Write in your spare time and see where it takes you, rather than trying to force it. Like many get-rich-quick schemes, everyone would be doing it if it were that easy.

I actually get this question pretty often. In part, it seems writing occupies a sort of cultural blind spot. Most people would never assume they could become a professional guitarist or sculptor, but a sizable chunk of the population has the gut reaction that "Writers put words on a page and I can do that, therefore I must be a writer." 

Don't take this as discouragement from writing. Instead, take it as a challenge to push yourself and write stories outside your comfort zone. Use it as a means of expressing yourself, as an excuse to have fun, as a means of examining what it means to live life as a human being. Those are the stories that stick with us in the long term anyway. 

"Where can I ask you questions?"
My Twitter is @Tempo321; feel free to send me a question. : ) I'll post it here next time. 
Alternatively, you could sign up for one of my evening classes here: 

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