Posts Tagged ‘Ann Anastasio’

World-Building Through Cheese

September 17, 2018

Cheesehenge

The local paper ran an article about cheese not being the source of all evil for anyone worrying about cardiovascular issues. My inner cheese-hound yipped and yapped and chased its tail, because I adore cheese but there is a history of heart disease on both sides of the family. While rescuing my recipes for cheeseballs, cheese sauces, fondues, savory pastries, souffles, and quiches from the dusty corners of the cookbook shelf, I thought of how I’ve used food in my sci fi stories. Ann Anastasio and I have featured food in each book of the Chenille series. We’ve also made a subplot out of Earth foods that are similar to products on our imaginary planet, Schtatik. Reading the article about cheese reminded me of all the nutrition advice I’ve followed only to be told later that the studies were wrong, which illustrated a hole in my world-building. When I think of what my aliens might eat, I’ve always envisioned their diets as an ideal, or bound by ritual. I don’t think I’ve ever given my aliens a chance to cheat on their diets, or indulge in comfort food, or visit the junk food aisle in their groceries. I’ve never even considered what their groceries would look like. Ever. From now on, however, I’m going to spend a little time imagining what my aliens think they should eat as well as what they do eat, and why it matters. World-building through cheese – yeah, that’s a thing now.

Becoming an Author

May 21, 2018

My writing club offers a scholarship at the local community college. The president of the club and I went to the awards ceremony and met this year’s recipient. She is planning a career in teaching, and hopes to encourage her future students to write well. She said she had no plans to be a writer, but she asked about the process. When we described all the ways one could bring one’s work to readers, she changed her mind. Here are some resources for you to become an author.

Smashwords.com

This is for ebooks only, but it is free for authors and offers a boatload of tutorials and help. I convinced my co-author to publish Death By Chenille on Smashwords. We were so energized by having a book on-line that we wrote a second book, then a third, and now we’re working on a fourth.

Small Publishing Houses

Just because you don’t have an agent to shop your manuscript to the big publishing houses doesn’t mean you’re done. A small publishing house might be interested. We published our third book (shameless self-promotion, that book is now available here) through Russian Hill Press.

My books, on my bookshelf – woo hoo!

Createspace/Amazon

Createspace is the go-to place for many independent authors. My uncle, Philip Gordon McGirr, just published a book of short pieces. He is another who never thought about being an author until a friend of his started writing and inspired him.

Booktrack.com

Booktrack lets you score your work. Yup, you can put music, ambient sounds, or special effects sounds together with your written word.

Local anthologies

Not sure your work is ready for a large audience? Check around and see if there are any groups in your area that publish an anthology. Our community college publishes annually, and you don’t have to be a student to submit. Julaina Kleist-Corwin, a local writing teacher, published a book of her students’ work.

All authors struggle to find readers, so don’t be discouraged that your book might sell only enough to buy you a really good lunch. This has been my experience, but I’m okay with that. Becoming an author, even at my level, has been worth it.

A Sci-Fi Crazy Quilt

April 4, 2018

When Ann Anastasio and I wrote our first novel, Death By Chenille, we planned to create patterns for the quilts mentioned in the book. I volunteered to make the crazy quilt we described. I thought it would be pretty, and I love to embroider. Well, our third novel, The Chenille Ultimatum, has just been published and I’m finally getting started on the blocks. I have them pieced, but not embellished.

I believe this one will have yellow chevrons

Although we have mentioned this quilt in all three books, we haven’t described it lately so I had to go back and read the description. I’m one of the authors–you would think I could remember my own words. Not so much. “Self,” I said, “this crazy quilt idea is getting crazier by the minute.”

We described one block bisected with an embroidered ribbon

The quilt plays an important role in getting the aliens to trust the humans. The embroidery stitches tell the story of the first time they visited Earth. I had worked out what each stitch meant. Unfortunately, I succumbed to the worst lie writers tell themselves: “I’ll remember this later. No need to write it down now.” Of course I don’t remember what I had in mind and now I have to come up with embroidery patterns that fit.

The cross-stitch tells the story of the first time the aliens visited Earth

Our books are cozy sci-fi, which means the science is wibbly-wobbly because humor is more important than equations (our aliens disguise themselves as bolts of beige fabric, for Pete’s sake), so I’m hoping our readers are the cozy and forgiving sort. I am counting on the kindness of quilters who will agree that a finished quilt is beautiful, even if it doesn’t entirely fit the description in the book.

Luck and wisdom!

Finished Enough to Celebrate

February 14, 2018

Despite an accumulation of small medical woes that have irritated me (who knew toothache could be so debilitating?), I brought two projects close enough to finished that I intend to celebrate.

This is what I made from the collection of blocks I received from The Progressive Party. I decided I didn’t want a classic setting, so I put black strips of varying widths along one side of the blocks. The horizontal sashing includes a flamingo on a skateboard because I found it in my stash and it wasn’t going anyplace else.

The second project is the third novel in the Chenille Series, The Chenille Ultimatum.

Book 3 with Ann Anastasio

In the latest adventure with our quilting heroines, Susan travels to the distant planet of Schtatik to save her mother and daughter, and stop a civil war. You can find it on Amazon here.

Of course, I still have to quilt the top and promote the book, but that is going on another To-Do List. Today’s list is long enough.

Luck and wisdom!

First Discovery of 2018

January 10, 2018

The Progressive Party will start a new round soon, and I resolved to design my project rather than throw a random block in a bag with some fabric that I could reach (which is what usually happens). I hauled out my bags of tree fabric, and made the first happy discovery of 2018.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t make this landscape. I think I got it from Ann Anastasio in a pile of fabric she didn’t want to move to another state. In any event, my Progressive Project once again will be a random piece in a bag with fabric I could reach. So much for new year resolutions.

My replacement iron arrived, and revealed the second discovery of 2018 – ironing is a lot easier with an appliance that works and a clear space to stand.

I must admit that the space around the ironing board is clear because for yet another week I have left the bags that once lived there in the hiding places I stashed them before Christmas. Eventually I will have to bring them back to the sewing room, but that’s a chore for another day.

For now, I will admire the last project I got back from the Progressives. I started with a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired fabric, and they made this.

The new year may bring many more new discoveries and challenges, but one oasis of stability is the creativity of my quilting friends. I hope that 2018 will find you surrounded by creative, supportive people.

Luck and wisdom!

From Orphan Blocks To Art

December 20, 2017

My art critique group challenged itself to transform leftover quilt units – orphan blocks – into another piece. Since I have a boatload of orphan blocks (some of which I inherited from other quilters, don’t ask me how), I was overjoyed by the project. I pulled out some leftovers that Ann Anastasio gave me and started cutting. One of the units looked like it could make a great house. I searched through the pile and found something that I thought would be a blue tile roof. It didn’t turn out that way, but the yellow triangle made a nice capstone for a mausoleum, so I continued with the theme. I call the piece The Road To Quilters’ Heaven.

While I was searching for other orphan blocks, I ran across the center to a space quilt that I never finished. The robot blocks were still on the design wall, so they became part of the new space quilt.

I used Alexandra Von Burg‘s technique for making trees to make a spaceship.

I think using up orphans, scraps and unfinished objects to make new art really is the road to quilters’ heaven. I know it’s made me happy.

Luck and wisdom!

Of Reindeer and Chenille

December 28, 2016

Despite the approach of 2017, or perhaps because of it, I’m starting this post off with something cheerful and cute:

Lani Longshore reindeer

This is a Christmas present from my son. The kids sometimes tease me about my odd collections, but they know how to make me smile. Having something to smile about will be important in the coming weeks, because my Christmas present to myself was permission to ignore the projects in the sewing room.

I did manage to start one project, turning chenille into products that might be marketed with The Chenille Ultimatum. My co-author Ann Anastasio saw a tote bag with raw seams that we thought would work well for chenille.

Lani Longshore chenille tote bag

The bag is made from one long strip of fabric and two small rectangles for side panels. I added the pocket. The raw edges are ideal for chenille, since managing those thick seams isn’t fun at all. Here is the reason I know that:

Lani Longshore chenille pillow

Turning the pillow corners took nearly as long as sewing the entire envelope. I’m not sure if it would be easier to make a round pillow or to try inserting tassels in the corners to hide any irregularities.

Those are questions for another day, however. Today, I’m going to admire my new reindeer, and ignore my projects as my New Year’s gift to myself.

Luck and wisdom!

An Extra Blog For Shameless Self-Promotion

December 12, 2016

 

Ann Anastasio and I entered our second novel, When Chenille Is Not Enough, into a contest on Inkitt.com. You can read it for free, and if you are so inclined you can leave a review. If we get enough people thinking our book is a ripping good yarn, we win. Thanks to the help of Ed at Tech Support, I can now share that link with you: click on link

when-chenille-is-not-enough-2500

When Chenille Is Not Enough is the continuing saga of quilters saving the world from shape-shifting aliens. In the first novel, the aliens assumed the form of bolts of beige fabric. Now they can look like humans, and one is coming after our heroine, Susan. She and her friends still use chenille to save the day, but ice cream figures prominently as well.

Even if you don’t want to read our story, check out InKitt.com. There are tons of books in a variety of genres, and some are free. The people who run the site are trying to find the next big literary thing through crowd-sourcing. Given the state of the publishing industry, this is good for readers and better for writers.

That’s the end of the shameless self-promotion. I’ll be back on Wednesday with my regular reports.

Luck and wisdom!

Surprises

December 16, 2015

This is the season of surprises. Some of the good surprises that have come my way include our Christmas tree.

A tree for the house

A tree for the house

This is how it looked before we smothered it with lights and ornaments. I almost kept it this way, but we’d already brought the decorations out of storage. Given the drought and fires in the region, I was grateful there were Christmas trees available at all. The best surprise is the smell. It is the most fragrant tree we’ve had in years.

Clean enough for now

Clean enough for now

The next surprise is I’ve kept my sewing table clean-ish. Yes, there are still a few stacks to deal with, but the space was cleared enough in time to wrap presents. Then I put the wrapping things back where they belong. That qualifies as a Christmas miracle in my book.

The last surprise came from two artist friends who gave me note cards they’ve made from their own work.

Lani Longshore Ann Anastasio note card

This is Oak Leaves and Acorns by Ann Anastasio. She is a talented fiber artist, and also the co-producer of Art Quilt Santa Fe.

Lani Longshore Kat Mulkey note card

Dot Bees is the creation of Kat Mulkey. She is a fabulous photographer and painter. These cards are going into small frames, then into the sewing room to inspire me.

Luck and wisdom!

Use the Good Stuff First – Quote Challenge

September 23, 2015

The late Doreen Speckmann used to tell her quilt students to use the good stuff first. “If you don’t, when you die your family will turn that fabulous batik you’ve been saving into a clown costume.” Oh, I know all the adages about saving something for a rainy day, and about keeping special things for special occasions. That’s good advice, too, but when your sewing room is bursting at the seams try doing some projects with the good stuff.

Cram as much beauty into your life as you can

Cram as much beauty into your life as you can

You might be worried that the project won’t work and you’ll have wasted your supplies. Ann Anastasio and I taught a workshop called “There’s a Quilt in There Somewhere.” We instructed students to bring the one piece of fabric deemed too wonderful to use. The first order of business was for everyone to cut her special fabric in half. “Look,” we would say, “now you have something left over if you don’t like what you make in class.” It’s amazing how having a reserve opened up the creative floodgates.

A small luxury is still a luxury - enjoy!

A small luxury is still a luxury – enjoy!

So take that special fabric, bead collection, thread collection, notebook or china set off the shelf. Break into the good chocolate, the expensive spices, the great wine. Host an art play date or a party if you want to share, but use the good stuff while you can still enjoy it.

Luck and wisdom!