Interview with local author, Sara Bell

Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Sara Bell, a local author in the Twin Cities.  Sara is a participant in Brush and Pen: Festival for Artists and Authors,

Welcome, Sara! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.


Katelyn– Hi Sara can you tell us a bit about yourself that isn’t writing related.

Sara-I am an event professional by trade and in 2016 I left the corporate world to care full-time for my Nana who has Alzheimer’s. I started a little virtual business doing marketing and customer service support for digital entrepreneurs and small companies so I could pay my bills while being a caregiver.  After my family found a great Alzheimer’s home for her, I went back to work for about one year. In May of this year I was laid off from my latest job and flung myself back into full-time self-employment (and couldn’t be more fulfilled)!
Katelyn- What a wonderful thing to do for you Nana and had to be a big decision for you. I am excited to see what happens now that you are following your calling!

As a writer, I am always curious to know why other writers started to write.  What got you started?

Sara- I’m an avid reader and there just came a time when I was reading and I realized I have stories to share too.  Even though I’m generally outgoing, I can still be pretty shy/insecure and I feel like I’ve spent years hiding behind a mask.  Always trying to fit in and be well-liked.  Writing has let me be myself- first in my journals, then more and more on social media, and now in blogs and books.

Katelyn- I think a lot of creative people can relate to hiding on some level. I started as a journal writer followed by blogging too.  I felt like it was easier to be myself in my writing.
Do you have a favorite genre of writing?
Sara-I love all things self-help. It’s super cliche but I need all the help I can get and I can’t get enough of it! Give me affirmations, inspiration, and encouragement and I come alive!  It’s the most energizing thing!

Katelyn- We all need that sometimes don’t we?!  I am curious why you write.

Sara-I am very introspective and love to know why I think a certain thought or what caused a feeling.  Writing helps me process my thoughts and feelings and make sense of my experiences.  I’m also a teacher at heart and if just one person can learn from my mistakes or my knowledge, I want to share everything I can.

Katelyn- I understand that completely.  It is easier to see what is bouncing around in your head when it’s on paper so you can sort it out and gain insight.
Can you tell our readers about your books

I have two books so far- one chapter book that I co-authored and one children’s book that I’ll launch and take orders for at the festival!  Obstacles Equal Opportunities was a compilation of stories from several authors.  In it, I shared a bit about a pivotal point in my life when I got divorced, lost my job, and my Papa died – all catapulting me into caregiving and self-employment. My children’s book is called Nana Forgot My Name and it’s a rhyming, full color illustrated book that uses symbolism and silly rhymes to help younger kids make sense of Alzheimer’s (or at least make as much sense of it as the rest of us!).

Katelyn- I think honest stories about our own struggles are so helpful because they let people know they are not alone in their struggles.  I love the idea of a children’s book about Alzheimer’s! It can imagine it is really confusing for children when it happens to someone they love.  My kids were young adults when it happened to their dad’s father and it was still hard for them.

I don’t know if this happens to you but most creative people have creative blocks at times. What do you do when you get a creative block?

Sara- Play!  I love creating joy in my life so if I feel stuck, I do things that bring me joy.  It depends on the time of year and where I am, but that could be anything from going swimming or reading by the pool, to snowboarding, exploring, traveling, the list goes on… I just allow myself to truly take a break and enjoy life where I’m at today.
Katelyn-That is brilliant and so simple!

Do you have favorite authors that inspire you?

Sara- I love Alexi Panos and Danielle LaPorte and also Gabrielle Bernstein.  And any of the great thought leaders of the early 1900’s through today, really.  The list goes on but those three are all women whose books I read over and over again.

Katelyn- I just started listening to Gabrielle Bernstein on YouTube.  She is awesome.  The thought leaders of the early 1900’s were amazing.  I like that a lot of what they were saying at that time fits today.

I imagine there are people who are reading this who would like to write a book and just don’t know how to start. What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 
Sara- Get over yourself and write! It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to get done!  Sometimes the hardest part is getting started.  If you really don’t know where to start, just start writing about that- what are the thoughts going through your mind?  Journal and eventually it will start to pour out.
Katelyn- That is such great advice!  Just start and don’t worry what comes out.
How can people support you in your writing career?  

Sara- If they already have purchased my books or if they like my articles or blogs, they can keep me in mind for freelancing opportunities.  I write for a number of small businesses (mostly newsletter/blog post copy) and am open to new projects or collaborations.

What is your web address or where can people see your art? is my official business site.  I don’t house my books on there (yet!), but people are always welcome to connect with me via email or social media ( or @saraannbell on Instagram, and I’m on Facebook as Sara Barnat Bell)

Thanks, Sara, I hope we see all of our readers at the Festival Saturday, August 18th!

Interview with Local Artist, Jennifer Swenson

Today I have the pleasure of speaking with my friend Jennifer Swenson, a local artist in the Twin Cities.  Jennifer is a participant in Brush and Pen: Festival for Artists and Authors,

Welcome, Jennifer! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.

Katelyn- Can you talk a bit about yourself that is not art related?
Jennifer- I am the owner of Heaven Sent Healing Massage and Wellness Center in Inver Grove Heights, Mn. I have been a massage therapist for 8 years specializing in Cranial-Sacral therapy, Oncology, PreNatal, relaxation therapies. I am a Reiki Master and medium. I like to treat the body as a whole – mind, body, and spirit.
I also teach art classes around the state. I love getting people to create and relax – the world needs that. 🙂
Katelyn- One of the things I know you do is classes where everyone does their own version of the same image.  It looks like so much fun!!
What inspired you to start making art in the first place?
Jennifer- I have been an artist all my life since my sister put a crayon in my hand.  I have been doing it professionally for about 30 + years. I use art as a way of relaxation. I always have a million ideas in my head!
Katelyn- I have watched you over the years and it is true that you always have millions of ideas.  One of the things I love about you as an artist is you are always experimenting with new medium.  Do you have a favorite medium and why?
Jennifer- Honestly, just a regular old #2 pencil. But most of my art is in watercolor, acrylic, and pen. I love fluid art.
Katelyn- That’s interesting that you say a pencil.  One of the other artists I interviewed said pen.  It got me thinking about those two things in a different way.  I have seen it as a basic tool but thinking of it as a medium expands my understanding.
I am always curious about why artists chose to create art?
Jennifer: Maybe as a way to escape. We live in such a harsh world right now, its a great way to ground and revitalize oneself.
Katelyn- I agree that it is a great way to escape and create beauty in the harsh world we are experiencing right now.  You said you always have lots of ideas but do you ever get a creative block and if so what do you do to move through it?
Jennifer- I doodle. I was the kid who got into trouble in school for writing on the desks etc. Sometimes doodling lines help me out of a block.
Just keep creating something and eventually, it starts to flow again. Don’t stop dreaming or let others opinions crush that creativity within you.
Katelyn- I was that kid too!! I was often in the hall for punishment because I was drawing or doodling something when I was supposed to be doing something else.
Do you have favorite artists that inspire you?
Jennifer-Norman Rockwell, Charles Schutz, Monet – I could keep going.
Watching new artists emerge always helps to stimulate new ideas and try new products-
Katelyn- I imagine there will be aspiring artists that find this blog.  What advice would you give them?
Jennifer- Andy Warhol once said
 “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
Katelyn- Warhol was right, thinking is the death of art!  It will stop creation every time.
How can people support you in your art career?
Jennifer-Buy from your local artists.
My art is always available online or at local shows. Even if they can’t afford to buy anything just sending a supportive message to those you know who are artists creating that helps get us through the tough times and self-doubt in the art world.
Jennifer- I agree.  Sometimes those special notes from people about our work are more valuable than money.
What is your web address or where can people see your art?
Facebook: Heaven Sent Creations
Instagram: Heaven_Sent_Creations
Etsy: HeavenSentbyJennifer

Interview with Local Author, Rowan Glaser

Today I have the pleasure of speaking with my friend Rowan Glaser, a local author in the Twin Cities.  Rowan is a participant in Brush and Pen: Festival for Artists and Authors,

Welcome, Welcome Rowan! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.


Katelyn- Can you tell us a bit about yourself that isn’t writing related.
Rowan-I’ve made my mark in this world by being a custom motorcycle painter.
I’ve had bikes in national magazines, museums, and art galleries as well as receiving many awards at bike shows for my work.
I got into painting because I knew it was time to start a new career having recently left the Navy where I was an air traffic controller, and then driving cab in St. Paul.  So one day, I’m standing in the living room and I happen to say out loud, I wonder what career I should do next? To my amazement, a disembodied voice replied, “Auto body.”  Figuring it was my guardian angel, I called the local college and asked if they had an auto body program and sure enough they did, and it was starting in a week. I signed up and the rest is herstory.
Katelyn- I love how you were able to listen to your guardian angel and go with it.  A lot of people can’t do that because they don’t trust that voice.  I have seen your motorcycle painting and it is amazing.
I am always curious what inspires an author to write. What inspired you to start writing?
Rowan- For twenty plus years, I was driven to heal myself from childhood and military traumas.  As changes resulted and I became more of who I wanted to be, I recognized the amazing transformations that were taking place and recorded them in journals.  Stacks of them!  lol
At the same time, when out and about in different social settings, people always ask what everyone does for a living.  When I’d share my career, fascination resulted followed by more questions – which allowed me the opportunity to fine-tune my response into an exciting account of the adventures I’ve lived.
The catalyst for the book came in 2012 when my life fell apart and I had to implement all the lessons previously learned, in order to make peace with the chaos swirling around me.  Returning to writing, I melded my top life adventures with ways to heal and rise in vibration, thereby lifting my own self back up while hopefully cutting a path for others to follow – knowing not everyone has time to spend researching for 20 years.  In the end, I discovered we weren’t born to pay bills and die.
Katelyn- I totally understand journaling transformation.  All of my books started in my journals…lots of journals! It is like the book was written for you first so you could grow and then you want to share what you learned so that others can grow.
Do you have a specific genre in your writing and what you read?
Rowan- Biography, Self-help, Personal Growth, Visionary
Katelyn- I can see that in your writing. As writers, we usually have a higher purpose for writing.  Why do you write?
Rowan- To raise awareness and effect healing.
Katelyn- That’s a great reason especially in the times that we are experiencing now.
Most creative people get creative blocks. What do you do when you get a creative block?
Rowan- It never happened – I found I couldn’t stop writing.  Some days it was 14+ hours in front of the computer.  I had to buy a better chair.  lol
Katelyn- It sounds like you were in the flow of some powerful inspiration!  It is hard to stop when you get to that place because it is so easy.
Do you have writers who inspire you and why?
Rowan-Dan Millman, Lynn V. Andrews, James Redfield, Deepak Chopra, Baird T. Spalding, Vladamir Megre. They help me be hopeful of the good things coming.  To discover the Truths that are hidden within us.
Katelyn- Those are some of my favorites too.  I especially like the ones like Lynn V. Andrews and Vladamir Megre who come at teaching from the aspect of stories that have so much wisdom in them.  Sometimes is it easier for our mind to believe when it comes in story form verse fact.
I imagine there are many people reading this who would like to write a book someday. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Rowan- Write for the love of writing, express what you need to say.
Katelyn-It really is that simple isn’t it?
How can people support you in your writing career and find out about your cycle painting?
Rowan- If you enjoy my book, ask yourself if there is anyone you know in the publishing, marketing, or distribution fields that you can pass this onto to read.  Word of mouth is the best advertising.  Toni Woodruff, part of the family that owns the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, loves my book so much that she shares it with her people – and is even promoting me at the Bikers Belle symposium even though I can not make it there this year.  Situations such as this make me feel truly appreciated for taking the time to record what I’ve discovered.
But since I know not everyone cozies up with a book, I put together a presentation on alternative healing methods along with some readings from the book, into a half hour video.  It is available on YouTube at
Lastly, for those who enjoy social media, the Facebook page is:
What is your web address or where can people find your books?