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Tri-con Day 2

IMG_4800A lot of great costumes today! Cosplayers were creative.

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IMG_4803Quailman from the cartoon Doug

IMG_4804Doctor Who scene – I was dazzled by the “Cassandra” (the floating face) prop

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IMG_4811I really liked this costume – she said it was her own original creation. A mythical deer creature? So pretty! Doesn’t she look like she’s ready to break out into a Broadway song and dance number?

IMG_4814The Evansville Public Library offered a free button making project. Also, one of the staff (not pictured here) is a fan of Cassie’s KiLA iLo comic. She was surprised to see Cassie, and to hear that we recently moved here.

It was a good connection! We donated a copy of our books to the library and it looks like we’ll be doing workshops there.

IMG_4842This dragon was here to raise money for the Make a Wish foundation

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IMG_4819Actress Cristin Azure chatting with cosplayers – looking gorgeous, ladies!

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IMG_4822Actress Cristin Azure interview session with the Shaw brothers

…and a selfie with the crew!

IMG_4821Enjoyed getting to know the lovely Cristin and her husband, but their adorable baby stole the show! I wish them all the best as they continue their creative adventures in acting, stunt driving (whoa!), and more.

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IMG_4829The beautiful Maleficent, otherwise known as our favorite cashier at our local Ruler Foods where we shop religiously for my family’s groceries! I tell you, we take food savings seriously. This girl could have cosplayed as herSELF and I’d have wanted a picture!

IMG_4830Maleficent and me

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This made me laugh! Although… I was worried when the T-Rex hopped up the stairs… whew, glad he made it

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IMG_4831Remember I mentioned earlier that the Evansville library was offering free buttons (that you design yourself)? Cassie drew Max from the Goofy movie.

She wanted to ask Max’s voice actor, Jason Marsden, to sign the sketch before it was made into a button.

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Jason Marsden, was kind enough to sign the sketch. The button turned out great! Cassie will treasure this – thank you for being kind to my daughter, Jason!

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This young girl, Melody Meador, was the master of disguises! She wore several costumes throughout the weekend. She commissioned Cassie to sketch one of Jason Marsden’s other famous characters for him to sign. Melody was so pleased that she gave Cassie a chocolate cupcake!

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That’s a delicious tip! Not a starving artist today!

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Tri-Con 2016

Tri-Con at Holiday Inn, Evansville, Indiana

Here we are, bright and early! (Well, it’s too early to be “bright”)

IMG_4756That’s me in the red coat (left) with my daughter Cassandra.

IMG_4759Cassandra, ready to pitch her KiLA iLO comic and Dramatic Mom (the comic we collaborate on – she’s the artist, I write the stories). I’m focusing mainly on my new art book FRED … the iPad is set up to display my painting videos.

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IMG_4765Cosplayers… ^ don’t know what’s going on here ^

IMG_4770<—–See, that’s my table. Right next to me was a magician.

He was busking for tips, working the crowd. By the end of the afternoon I knew his routine.  It was hard for me to resist blurting out the punchlines to his jokes. 😉

Let’s take a break from the table and see what other people are doing…

IMG_4775Eville J’s Creepy Closet – “Masks, props, and all things creepy”

IMG_4776Yi, yi, yi…

IMG_4777He said that’s a Trick or Treat bag! Clown alert… don’t look behind the franken mask if triggered by clowns.

IMG_4783These two were fun. I wanted to sing with them… their booth was much more fun than mine!

Mikey Mason – Comedy Rock Geek

IMG_4784Jacob Walker, artist

IMG_4785Kevin Brown, photographer – I wish the samples on the table had showed in the photo better. I like the Supergirl one, very cool. What a fun gift a photo shoot like this would be! “Beyond Reality, Photography with no Limits”.

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Greggo travels the world doing his game shows

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Enjoyed meeting actress, model, and stunt driver (tell us more!) Cristin Azure… Walking Dead zombie? I love meeting interesting people!

IMG_4792Comic creator Kyle Starks

IMG_4793Author/Director Bob Dixon

IMG_4795Actor and director Jason Marsden… our family loves him as the voice of Maximilian (Max) from the Goofy movies. I have fond memories of the Goofy movie playing in an endless loop during our 2008 family vacation… every time we got in the van, Goofy and Max would pick up where we left off. But, Jason has done much more than that… take a look at all of the shows you’ve probably seen him in, in his 25+ years career.

Besides all of this, he’s a nice guy. His table in the VIP area was in my direct line of sight. I watched him talking to teenagers and young adults who attended the convention, easily spending a good ten minutes or more in one-on-one conversation. He was genuine and warm. I’m sure his time with them meant the world.

See? It’s people like this who give us hope that there are still decent people out there!

And… he was gracious enough to offer up a picture with me in it. “Uh, sure!” (Goofy voice) <–that part didn’t happen, I can’t do Goofy. I can do a decent Mickey Mouse though.

IMG_4796Jason Marsden and I, just hanging out….

IMG_4797Cassie wanted a picture with Jason too, so I sent her back over with my camera.

That’s a great start to the Tri-con weekend, wouldn’t you say? We left early today (Friday). We’ll be back tomorrow for more.

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ComiCon (Fall Con) Minneapolis 2015

   IMG_20151009_154430Friday, October 9: Setting up on the night before the convention with my daughter Cassandra Thomas

Cassandra Thomas and Natalie Buske Thomas ComiCon 2015 MinneapolisCassandra Thomas, KiLA iLO artist & Natalie Buske Thomas – setting up our table display for ComiCon Minneapolis 2015 – we’re ready for the convention in the morning – went home to get some sleep…will be up early for a long day ahead… What will happen? Scroll down to see!

002Saturday, October 10: What a great way to kick off the convention ~ Elvis on his cell phone!

Harry Potter and Hagrid at ComiCon 2015Harry Potter and Hagrid ~ These two were complete strangers until this moment. What a great pair!

Cassandra Thomas Kila ilo artist with Tinkerbell at ComiCon 2015Tinkerbell and Cassandra Thomas

from movie Big Hero 6 at ComiConI love this guy ~ I wish I’d gotten a picture of him from the front – from Disney PIXAR movie Big Hero 6, Baymax (cute movie!)

005Getting ready for a podcast interview

013Natalie Buske Thomas being interviewed at ComiCon (Fall Con) Minneapolis 2015

024End of interview ~ it was fun!

030Our table… Dramatic Mom was a big hit! Sold some books, WOOT! Cassie sold her KiLA iLO books and prints ~ and mingled with fans who’ve been reading her web comic ~ cool beans! One fan was *very* excited to meet her… it was like Cassie was a pop star… quite a moment. 🙂

Winning a door prize at ComiCon 2015My son won a door prize! WOOT! He had a great time ~ hardly saw him. He was enjoying the convention. He bought LEGO mini-figures, visited all the tables, and grazed in the complimentary artist break room – being my son & Cassie’s sister has its perks!

Cake at ComiCon 2015Cassie eating cake… I was happy about the FOOD! There were cookies AND cake! WHEEE! And the Snapple people were giving out sweet tea. Can you say sugar high? WOWEE! There was also real food ~ hot & good! We were well fed, yea! That really helps! *APPRECIATED*

Well, all in all, it was a good day to be an artist at ComiCon Minneapolis!

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Sweet September

Life is a giftWhat a difference a few weeks can make! When I wrote August’s blog post I was struggling to feel positive. I have to admit that I didn’t always keep my cool. At one point I yelled, “I just want ONE day without drama!” That’s a lie. I’d like all of my days to be drama free. Wouldn’t you?

But when life’s bumps in the road start to feel like we’re driving on railroad tracks it’s time to hold on tight. Let go, have patience… have a little faith… believe that things will get better… and… at the right time, if the right time comes… things will get better!

At the right time, things got better. And wow, did they ever! I hardly know where to begin…

I finally started a special project that I’d been wanting to do for months. I started it, kept working on it, and saw it through to the finished art. There’s a much longer story behind my new painting, but I want to share this with you right away so I’ll give you the short version. First, here it is… this is the video of me painting “Marie’s Babies”. Below the video is the description. Please read the description before watching the video.

“Marie’s Babies” oil painting, video description:

This oil painting tells Marie and John’s story of the two journeys of their beautiful twin boys, Cathal and Lorcan. The babies were born very premature. They could fit entirely in their parents’ hands; every day was a fight to survive. Sadly, one of their precious babies slipped away after about a month of loving him here on Earth. Marie has no pictures of Cathal without tubes and machines covering up much of his tiny body. I offered to help her create an image of him as a whole baby, free from the medical chains. I didn’t know how to go about doing this exactly, but I prayed my way through the experience. The symbolism in the painting seems to evolve. You might see this painting differently, depending on what you feel when you view the art. One way to see it is that Lorcan is sheltered by God’s love here on Earth, as represented by the flower. Cathal has been carried gently away by God’s spirit, as represented by the butterfly. But I only paint the pictures, after that, my art doesn’t belong to me. This painting belongs to the O’Halloran family of Ireland. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this powerful and life-changing experience. I didn’t paint this alone, I had divine intervention the whole time. God bless the O’Halloran family, and thank you for sharing your beautiful babies with me, and with the world. Peace be with you.

*Note: the tiny babies in the painting are very close to life-sized…notice how small they are compared to my hands…I was shocked when I saw the photograph of Marie touching Cathal, when I saw the size comparison between her hands and his tiny body

Marie will share her story, and when she does I’ll link to it. It’s her story to tell, not mine. We have become very close over the past two years. When all of this was happening to her, my heart was breaking.  Marie is my Irish friend who is helping us move to Ireland. And on that note, I have another announcement to make. While I was painting “Marie’s Babies”, Marie had no idea that I’d started the project or that I was actually finishing it… but meanwhile she was doing something significant to help me!

At the same time that I was sending her an email with an attachment to view the photo of the finished painting, Marie was drafting an email to tell me about the connections she’s made for me in Ireland. I’ll announce something more specific later but I will be doing exhibits and events in Ireland! It’s shaping up to be a bit of a tour spanning across at least two counties, County Cork and County Limerick.  I’d like to hold off saying anything more because things are still shaping up, but this is incredibly exciting and beyond my wildest dreams!

Permission to stay in Ireland may be possible if we have a strong purpose for being there. Hopefully we’ll be granted enough time that Brent will be able to get his teaching certification finalized and transferred into the Irish system, land an interview, land a job, and get a work visa before we have to leave. It’s a lot to expect, especially when jobs are highly competitive, and as an American he’d have to prove that he’s better than all of the other qualified applicants, but with faith and determination anything is possible. And… we’ll keep an open mind that something we aren’t expecting is just around the corner. We need to let things develop as they are meant to. Have a little faith, right?

For now, I’ll celebrate that our dream to live in Ireland is coming true! How long we get to live there remains to be seen, but look how far we’ve come. I’m guessing we can get permission to stay for at least six months, perhaps a year! The harder we work to raise funds, the easier it will be to get permission to stay for a longer period of time (the Irish government wants to see a full bank account, with proof that we can afford to live there for the amount of time that we request). With a little faith… well, there’s always a way.

I’m working on it! I’m about 1/5 of the way through the last Serena Wilcox mystery (#12 in the series) and about 1/5 through a new book I’m writing about our dream to move to Ireland. Not only am I busy with two new books, but I’m also busy with these events:

  • Minneapolis Comic Con! In October I’ll be representing the writing half of the “Dramatic Mom” team. My illustrator daughter Cassandra Thomas was invited to attend the Minneapolis Comic Con, with a free table for her and for her guest (me). She’ll be promoting her KiLA iLO series while I show off our Dramatic Mom series.
  • Guest speaker, Journey House, University of Wisconsin – RF: I’ve been invited to speak again in November. This will be my third public speaking event for the campus organization. I greatly look forward to it. I’m kind of sad to know that this is my last time there, as we’ll be moving in December…and more importantly, Cassie graduates from college! Our connection to UW-RF will end. I’m happy that I get one last opportunity to be a part of Journey House’s inspirational speaker series, their “This I Believe” luncheons.
  • Little Free Library book tour – more about that later~! [it’s “later”, here’s the update! My Little Free Library Tour … Destination #1]

I need to wrap up this blog post even though I have so much more to say. Wow, what a difference in my attitude and outlook from August to Sweet September! There’s so much going on now, and all of it is looking up, up, up! Pay attention to this space, God is doing amazing things for me and my family.

Speaking of family, that’s where most of my time and energy goes. It’s hard to keep up with all of the things they are doing. Nicholas is studying for the SAT test, looming next Saturday already. Cassie is preparing to order her cap and gown–she found out that she will graduate Magna Cum Laude! She will soon have a Math degree, and is planning to apply to graduate school in Cork, Ireland. Nicholas wants to go into IT and also plans to apply for college in Ireland, but he has to struggle through the SAT test first and I’m nervous for him. And then there’s baby girl Savannah who is thirteen going on thirty. She already has her whole life planned out… she wants to be a midwife. It’ll be an adventure, seeing what God has in store for these three.

Two of my children are now adults, and our last child is almost an adult in her mind. I’d love to bottle them up and not let them get a day older, but I can’t do that. So here I am, trying to keep up, and saving up all the memories that I can. Meanwhile, Brent has been keeping me on my toes because he’s been sick with something serious at least once a year for the past three years. He’s better now, but he was out of commission for about two weeks. Two. Very. Long. Weeks. But hey, August is over and Sweet September rolled in with beautiful sunny skies and wonderful new opportunities. See, if we wait long enough, the weather does change.

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It’s SHOWTIME!

Setup for Artist Alley was last night (for the Doctor Who convention in Minneapolis). Yesterday was hectic and stressful–yi, yi, yi! I’m sore all over from hauling equipment, supplies, props, and bins. There were several nail-biting moments that could have ended badly.  Actually, it’s been a full week of nail-biters and late nights. Whenever I put myself through big events I wonder why I do these things. And why do I put my family through these things? My husband and son are especially invested in this one, as they’ve built a sophisticated console panel to display. Naturally, that idea evolved into something much bigger and now there’s a lot of pressure on the pair of them. So why do we do it?

Because we can. I believe that when we have a creative idea and the opportunity to bring that idea to the world, no matter how small that “world” is, we have a responsibility to share ourselves, to contribute, to make a difference, and to shine. It’s hard to push ourselves and put ourselves out there, in the spotlight, in a vulnerable place… the nerves get to us. The stress gets to us. And it’s uncomfortable! We like to be comfortable. It’s easier to stay home and hide. But when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone marvelous things happen!

We’ve already met new people, just from set-up night alone. Today is the first official day of the convention and I know that something unpredictable and possibly beautiful is about to happen. Making connections with people we’ve never met before–that’s what it’s all about.

Sure, we can stay home where it’s comfortable. The choice is ours. We can keep our talents and skills to ourselves. Or, we can do what we know in our hearts is the right thing to do: share our gifts with others and share ourselves with others. It’s all about connection. And that’s why we do it. Oh, and it’s supposed to be fun too, right?

Well, now that I’m wired for the day, it’s the perfect time to fry up some bacon in my favorite cast iron skillet. Good morning! What a wonderful day this will be.

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Doctor Who Convention Minneapolis

DOCTOR WHO convention Natalie TARDIS

That was me at last year’s Doctor Who convention, CONsole Room 2014. The May 29-31, 2015 convention brings the debut of  Artist Alley. I’m the chair for Artist Alley, so this has been keeping me well entertained.

My husband Brent and my son Nicholas have been building a Tardis console in the garage for months. They’re spending a small fortune on this exercise, but it’s a worthy project that Nicholas will be putting on his college transcript. He’s doing most of the electronics himself, and all of the computer coding/programming. I’ll post pictures to the blog soon.

My contribution is an oil painting of all twelve doctor’s faces on a clock. It will be displayed at Artist Alley. I’ll also host live events. If you can make it to Minneapolis for the convention, drop by Artist Alley and say hi!