Posts Tagged ‘Death by Chenille’

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!

The Apple Tree and Sergeant Brice

September 14, 2016

We decided to cut down the apple tree this year. Processing fruit was becoming a burden and my husband has different plans for the back yard, so it had to go. It deserved better, but there it is. That got me thinking about people who deserved better, which led me to Lee Miller, an actor who never quite got his place in the sun (although he was in the movie by that name).

The remains of the tree

The remains of the tree

Lee Miller was in a boatload of movies, mostly uncredited. He also played Sergeant Brice on Perry Mason. He did receive credit for that, but his name was mostly last on the list. Even if it did move up a notch, it was generally behind such vital characters as “policeman #3” or “attendant.” It just doesn’t seem fair. Like my apple tree, Miller produced good work.

Part of the produce, dried and ready to eat

Part of the produce, dried and ready to eat

There are lots of Lee Millers in the world. I know many art quilters and writers who probably won’t get the recognition they deserve. Shameless self-promotion alert: my friend Ann Anastasio and I have published two delightful sci fi novels (Death By Chenille and When Chenille Is Not Enough) that would make excellent SyFy original movies, but have they come calling? Of course not. They’ll probably ignore our next one, too (The Chenille Ultimatum, coming soon).

But that is the way of life. To mangle Gilbert and Sullivan, there are many “wretched, meritorious B” folks out there. So, for all those who labor on, creating and producing and generally making life worth living – good on you, mate.

Luck and wisdom!

Chenille, Dragons and Licorice Herring

May 14, 2014

 

My friend Jordan Bernal (1dragonwriter.wordpress.com) asked me to be part of a blog tour. I’m supposed to talk about my writing process, but since I found these cool licorice herrings and won a bid for two yards of green chenille I’ll write about that, too.

Jordan writes about dragons. She loves dragons, always has. She also loves all things Celtic, so her first book is set in Ireland and her second in Scotland.

 

Jordan Bernal - photo by Patrick Coyle

Jordan Bernal – photo by Patrick Coyle

 

You can find The Keepers of Eire on Amazon, but you’ll have to wait for The Keepers of Caledonia.

I write about what I love, like science fiction and candy and odd connections. My fiber art incorporates things I love, too – like science fiction and candy and odd connections.

cover Death By Chenille

cover When Chenille Is Not Enough

The books that Ann Anastasio and I wrote, are writing, and plan to write are about quilters who save the world from alien invasion. We like to think we invented the genre of quilting science fiction. We also claim to have invented quilting vaudeville since we sing and dance about quilts as Broken Dishes Repertory Theatre. Shameless self-promotion – you can find Death By Chenille as an e-book on Smashwords.com (click here). When Chenille Is Not Enough is also an e-book on Smashwords.com (click here) or a paperback at Amazon (click here).

I think most of us create what we do because it seems like a good idea at the time. The concept of quilters saving the world from alien invasion by smacking them with chenille pillows wriggled into our brains like an ear worm, so we ran with it. It’s lasted through two books, one more in progress and a title for a fourth. Ideas are out there, floating on the breeze, waiting for someone to reel them in for fun and profit.

So I’ll be making something out of the chenille I bought to inspire me while writing the third book in our series, The Chenille Ultimatum. I don’t know what I’ll make – perhaps my own chenille pillow.

green chenille

Two yards of green chenille

 

I probably won’t include dragons in my stories, but I’ve got one on my shelf.

blue soft toy dragon

My dragon

 

Heaven knows where the licorice herrings will take me, but they’re very tasty.

licorice herring

Licorice herring – who knew?

 

If you want to be part of this blog tour and write about your creative impulses, send me a link to your blog and a photo (of you would be nice, of your quilt would work, too). I’ll list those in future posts.

Luck and wisdom!

 

Valentine’s Gifts For The Artist

February 12, 2014

My husband will give me flowers and a funny card for Valentine’s Day, unless this is a mushy-card year, in which case he will give me a blank card with an interesting picture. Probably of a dog. I like flowers and funny cards, and neither of us needs a box of chocolates, so I’m happy as a clam at high tide with those gifts – from him.

 

Lani Longshore heart box

 

I’m asking for a better gift to me from me this year.

 

I won a consultation with Beth Barany, a writer, writing coach, and marketing consultant. We used the session to brainstorm about marketing my two novels, Death By Chenille and When Chenille Is Not Enough. It was a fabulous experience, and I’m going to put aside some money to work with her again when Ann Anastasio and I finish The Chenille Ultimatum. That is my first Valentine’s gift to myself.

 

The second gift is to treat myself to as many classes as I can afford. I’ve already signed up for two quilting workshops through Amador Valley Quilters, and I’ll take whatever workshops Tri-Valley Writers offers, but that isn’t enough. One of the ways an artist can grow is to explore other arts. I find a lot of cross-over in my writing and quilting. I’ve also found some cross-over with my martial arts training, and even my (minimal) musical training. Themes that appear in one discipline have a way of working into another.

 

My third gift to myself is my own box-o’-art-quilt-prompts.

 

My art quilt bag and fabric prompts

My art quilt bag and fabric prompts

 

I have a couple of writing and art prompt card boxes with suggested projects and inspirational thoughts. They’re great, but it occurred to me to I could make my own and clean another tiny space in the sewing room at the same time. I packaged up some of the inspirational fabrics that I bought for projects I can no longer remember. There are three projects I need to get finished for deadlines, but after those are done I can take out a bag and use those fabrics for an art journaling project, or a gift, or an experiment that I’ve already given myself permission to throw away if it takes a turn for the worse. My hope is that when another deadline looms while I’m working from the box-o’-prompts fabric, I will find it easier to get started since I’m already priming my brain to be creative.

 

Give yourself a Valentine’s Day gift this year, the gift of permission to get your hands dirty with whatever art you choose. You’ll thank me later.

 

Speaking of thanking me later, here are the links that I embedded above, just in case:

 

Beth Barany –www.bethbarany.com

 

 

Death By Chenille – on Smashwords

 

When Chenille Is Not Enough – on Smashwords or Amazon or B&N.com

 

Amador Valley Quilters – www.amadorvalleyquilters.org

 

California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch – www.trivalleywriters.org

 

 

 

Background Material

January 22, 2014

The nurse who drew my blood at my last donation gave me a gift. She made a different mark for the insertion site.

 

Let me explain. I have teeny-tiny veins, and they’re hidden deep in my arm. When I donate blood, the nurse first has to pump up the pressure cuff to find a vein, then mark it carefully before swabbing down that patch of skin. All the other people have drawn four arrows pointing in one spot. This time, the nurse drew a rectangle with lines on opposite ends marking the line of insertion for the needle. It was so cool, I knew it would make a great block.

 

Looks like chain links, right?

Looks like chain links, right?

 

As I considered the block, I remembered an article I read about medical tattoos – temporary patches made from nanotubes to deliver medication. That brought to mind a scene in a medical bay I had written in The Chenille Ultimatum (part of the series with Ann AnastasioDeath By Chenille and When Chenille Is Not Enough). Although the heroine in that scene was being treated for minor bumps and bruises, I know there will be a bigger battle scene later in the book, and I could use medical tattoos that look like quilt blocks for the wounded.

 

That brought to mind a project I have put aside temporarily about space Vikings. I could have permanent tattoos for those soldiers.

 

Places for soldiers' medical tattoos

Places for soldiers’ medical tattoos

 

When my soldiers are picked up after a battle, I could have the medics wrap them in quilts with matching patches that quickly diagnose the injuries and start repair work while the transport pods bring them to the medical ships.

 

That brought me to my scrap bin to experiment with leftovers for a background for this quilt.

 

A background for embroidery, applique, LEDs

A background for embroidery, applique, LEDs

 

Once I figure out what I want the patch to look like, I can embroider and quilt it sashiko style on the background, then insert some LED lights to make it really fancy. If there’s a chance to add some glitz to my life, I’m there.

 

A glitzy flower makes me smile

A glitzy flower makes me smile

 

All of this background material for various projects, just because a clever nurse drew a different box on my skin.

 

 

Sick Leave

November 20, 2013

There are times when the universe brings you all the gifts you could ever wish. There are times when the universe decides you need to be taken down a peg or two. This week was both of those times.

 

First, the take down. I planned to spend the last few days writing and quilting, maybe baking, maybe even organizing. My schedule was clear, my deadlines met, and I was feeling good. For awhile.

 

My new best friend

My new best friend

 

For two days I insisted that my tight throat and stuffy nose were allergy symptoms. I muscled through the mornings, fell apart in the afternoons, but rallied in the evenings. It wasn’t until my daughter said she also had a tight throat and stuffy nose (and chided me for passing my cold on to her) that I had to admit the truth. I was not well, and worse, I was not creative. Worse still, my symptoms were mild enough that I imagined I could be creative if only I would tough it out.

 

Oh, stop laughing.

 

The illusion of competence finally died when I unloaded the clothes from the dryer and put them in a basket with dirty clothes instead of the basket for clean clothes. I bowed to reality, and parked myself on the couch with tissues and buckets of hot tea.

 

On the plus side, I did manage to finish beading and embroidering a small piece for me before the cold virus made my brain fuzzy.

 

Another in my tree series

Another in my tree series

 

This piece is made from leftover strips, orphan beads, and the remaining three strands of embroidery floss from a workshop project. I have no idea what I’ll do with it and I don’t care because it is for me. The proper finishing technique will reveal itself in its own time.

 

The best gift the universe gave me this week, however, came in the December/January 2014 issue of Quilters Newsletter. Gigi Khalsa wrote a terrific article about quilting in fiction, and included me and my co-author, Ann Anastasio. Writers and artists are advised to tell anyone who will listen about their work, and I certainly take every opportunity to promote Death By Chenille and When Chenille Is Not Enough, so to have someone ask me about my books is a rare joy. To find my picture and book covers along side those of the biggest names in quilting fiction – priceless. Worth a cold any day.

 

Death by Chenille - 600 x 900

 

WHEN CHENILLE IS NOT ENOUGH - 2000

 

Starting Stories

June 19, 2013

It’s been a busy week, even in the sewing room, but nothing to photograph. My quilting efforts resulted in getting three quilt tops basted. One is the next Challenge project, two are baby quilts. With any luck (and a little work), I’ll have them ready to share next week. So this week I thought I would talk about beginnings.

My first finished quilt

My first finished quilt

This is the first quilt I finished. The label says it is my second project, but since I can’t remember what the first was I’m guessing it was a potholder, or something that would only require one block. Ann Anastasio was my first quilt teacher. She had been teaching long enough that she thought she had seen it all. She hadn’t, and she’ll still tell you stories about my ugly fabric collection. That didn’t stop us from collaborating on quilts, novels (Death by Chenille, When Chenille Is Not Enough), entertainment (Broken Dishes Repertory Theatre), and non-profits. Ann and I served together on the boards of several non-profits, including Amador Valley Quilters (AVQ).

AVQ sponsors a number of outreach programs, including the quilting class I teach at the nearby federal prison for women. The class was originally taught by Thea McCurry. I inherited the class when she moved, and have kept with it for nearly twenty years. Over that time it has transformed as the policies, budgets and demographics at the prison have changed. When I turn over the reins to new teachers later this year, some of the students will have progressed to the point where they can teach their own quilting classes.

The moral of the story is you never know what a beginning will bring. Ann could have thrown up her hands with my lack of skills (ask her about teaching me to iron properly) and fondness for odd color schemes. She didn’t, and we went on to be invited to Road to California, the annual Tennessee quilters conference, the recent SAQA conference – and we’re working on our third novel. I could have dropped the FCI quilting class when the prison made changes. I didn’t, and the program was featured on Alex Anderson‘s HGTV show Simply Quilts, has inspired other quilters to start their own outreach classes, and offers a unique opportunity for AVQ members. So – what are you going to start today?

When Chenille Is Not Enough

May 2, 2013

I’m in Santa Fe right now, first for the Studio Art Quilt Association conference and then for the third Art Quilt Santa Fe. I don’t usually do the conference circuit, but this year I have something to promote:

Our new book!

Our new book!

Yes, the sequel to Deathy By Chenille is now available! When Chenille Is Not Enough can be found as an ebook on Smashwords.com, and is also available in paperback from B&N.com and Amazon.com.

Ann and I are over the moon about getting this book finished, especially since the first book took us fifteen years to write, and this one only took fifteen months. The final book in the series, The Chenille Ultimatum, will be available soon(ish).

When Chenille Is Not Enough is another sci fi adventure of quilters saving the world from space aliens. This time, Susan and her family and friends have to make an alliance with the cousin of the shape-shifting creatures they defeated in Death By Chenille. By a delicious happenstance, they discover they can bond over ice cream. Need I say more?

Empty Boxes

January 30, 2013

For the first time since September, I have empty boxes. No, not here:

sewing room

The empty boxes are on my calendar.

calendar

Of course, that won’t last. Just yesterday I agreed to take the lead on writing a grant proposal. It’s due March 1. Nevertheless, I have no pressing deadlines this week.

The reason I have a few free days is that I am finished with the manuscript for When Chenille Is Not Enough, the sequel to Death By Chenille.

The manuscript is finished!

The manuscript is finished!

I vowed to have it finished by January so we could get it to the printers in time for its unveiling in April at the SAQA conference in Santa Fe, which is the weekend before Art Quilt Santa Fe. Until my co-author Ann Anastasio gets back to me with her edits, I can focus on other things.

Yesterday, I focused on the sewing room. I cut kits, cut scraps, and put fabric away. This morning I consolidated two boxes, freeing up one whole cubby for embroidery projects. I’d sing about how great I feel, but I don’t want the efficiency gods to think I’m getting uppity. They can be so petty. Still, I’m going to relish the joy for as long as I can.

I might even have time to bake some cookies to celebrate Ground Hog Day.

 

Countdown to Something

December 5, 2012

My kids may be grown, but I still buy them Advent calendars every year (chocolate-filled, of course). There’s something about opening little boxes and getting a surprise that everyone loves – or at least everyone I know. The promise of a reward is a great motivator, in work and in art.

Since it is the season of giving, I’ve incorporated the promise of reward and delight in boxes with my need to make presents. Here is the first of what I hope will be a series of treasure boxes:

chenille treasure box

I’m experimenting with chenille because the sequel to Death By Chenille should be available in April 2013. That book will be called When Chenille Is Not Enough.

The promise of reward in art is to find something delightful from every angle. The Challenge projects I showed earlier needed to reward the viewer for a close examination, so I added some embellishments. This is one of the pieces as viewed on a wall:

Alaska quilt

This is the reward for taking a second look:

Alaska quilt detail

Here are a few of the others I made:

This is how I secured the peacock feather

This is how I secured the peacock feather

Fish, moose and puffin - what more could you want

Fish, moose and puffin – what more could you want

My idea of reindeer games

My idea of reindeer games

Getting these small pieces embellished for the meeting was the first of my countdowns. There are still a few other projects with their own countdowns on my to-do list. Here’s hoping all our year-end countdowns go smoothly!