Posts Tagged ‘luck and wisdom’

Scrap Happy(ish)

June 12, 2019

Perhaps because we’ve had three days in a row of triple digit heat, I feel like having a moan. When I heard my friend Jeanne Brophy needed some random 2 1/2” squares, I gladly volunteered to cut some from my overflowing scrap bin.

Save the gasps and tsk-tsking, this is what is left of the pile. Here is what I removed.

And this is the pile of cut squares:

On the one hand, I’m delighted that I could help a friend and get rid of some scraps. On the other hand, I’m dismayed at the amount of scraps that remain. On yet another hand (or perhaps a foot), I’m dumbfounded at the tiny pile of cut squares in relation to the size of the pile of scraps! And yes, I do understand this is the fate of all quilters. Here ends the moan for the day.

Luck and wisdom!

Can Your Characters Save Your Plot?

June 10, 2019

Author, instructor, and former agent Nathan Bransford suggests journaling about your plot from your characters’ points of view when the words stop flowing (read his blog post here). When I read this, my first thought was, “Brilliant!” When my second thought was equally positive, I knew this was advice I could use.

That isn’t always the case – not in writing, quilting, or home decorating. I watched too many home improvement shows where my first reaction was, “Who the heck is going to clean a [room of your choice] with all that stuff in it?” I even worked up an idea for an anti-improvement show called “Like You’re Really Going To Do That.”

I’ve nodded appreciatively when writing friends share their spreadsheets for character development, or their flip charts for braiding plot lines. That’s not for me. I can’t even manage to keep a simple filing system going, so how am I supposed to keep programs and charts in order? For me, the best solution is one I can keep on scraps of paper, because I can always find a scrap of paper and a pen.

Luck and wisdom!

Deco Done Wright

June 5, 2019

The binding is on one of my Projects in Piles (PIPs), and it is labeled, so I can check it off the list. This is Deco Done Wright, a project that began with a coloring exercise.

Betty Busby had some of these Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired printed squares at an Art Quilt Santa Fe retreat. I used Derwent Inktense pencils to color in parts of my square, then put it away for “the perfect project.” Since that never comes around, no matter how long I wait, I pulled it out for my quilting buddies in the Progressive Party to finish. They did such a great job I put the project away again because I didn’t know how to quilt it. When I started my PIPs challenge, I decided I would combine hand and machine quilting.

Once again, the power of a deadline came to the rescue and I now have a wonderful quilt. Force yourself to finish things. Setting a deadline works for me – find the way that works for you. You’ll feel a foot taller without the weight of unfinished projects on your shoulders.

Luck and wisdom!

Memoir, Turning Points, and Character Development

June 3, 2019

Linda Joy Myers has a lot of good advice for memoirists. The most useful (in my opinion) is to note the turning points in your timeline. We moved around when I was young, so those were both anchor and turning points in my list. Times when I said yes to a new challenge went in, as well as times when I ran for cover and thanked my lucky stars I got out before the (metaphorical) bullets started flying. Then I put in when I met those special people who befriended me and changed my life. That’s when I realized I was missing something.

My brother, mother, father, Dennis Franklin, and Hal Franklin (taken by me in 1966)

The man on the far right is Hal Franklin, who befriended my father and changed his life by teaching Dad about photography. Dad dabbled with photography, but having a mentor made all the difference in the world. It made all the difference in the world to me as well, since Dad introduced me to the camera. Because Dad and Hal explored creating art with their pictures, I learned – without really noticing it – that everyone can be an artist. Put in enough time to learn technique, train your eye to really see, and you can create beauty.

While I may not write a memoir with this epiphany, I will keep it in mind when I am writing backstories for my characters. Who they are doesn’t depend solely on the turning points in their own lives, but also on the turning points of those who have influenced them. Whether those influencers appear in the book or not isn’t the point. They may deserve a book of their own sometime. Can you say prequel?

Luck and wisdom!

Good Times at Art Quilt Santa Fe

May 29, 2019

For the last ten years, I have gone to Santa Fe every spring to help out with Art Quilt Santa Fe. This year was the last session, and what a wonderful time it was. Although I was there as a classroom assistant, not a student, I still got to experiment when there was a lull in class.

Metallic blue and eggplant, using a faux-mori folding technique

Betty Busby has been the teacher almost every year. Her silk painting techniques are fabulous. Although Art Quilt Santa Fe may be no more, Betty teaches all over the world, so check out her schedule and see where she’ll be next. You’ll thank me later.

Soft greens – perhaps for an embroidered forest?

The hidden treasure about taking workshops is the chance to meet other students who can inspire you. Two of the other students noticed some embroidery I was doing when the students and Betty didn’t need my help, and brought out their own hand stitching projects to show me. Since both of them are far more advanced than I could ever hope to be, it was a gift from the thread goddess to see their work. I was so inspired, I actually finished a piece I had been working on for several years.

Inspired by a Montana pine forest

I will miss my annual trip to the Southwest, but will treasure what I learned there – especially about taking advantage of every opportunity I possibly can to gain new skills.

Luck and wisdom!

Gifts of Inspiration

May 27, 2019

Last week I was at Art Quilt Santa Fe, reveling in fabric and paint, when the Chenille series came up in conversation. I gave a brief synopsis of the first novel – quilters saving the world from space aliens who disguise themselves as as bolts of beige fabric – and my co-author Ann Anastasio added, “They kill the aliens with chenille, thus the title Death By Chenille.” One of the group then gave us the title of our yet-to-be-written fifth book – The Chenille Bearer.

This is why you need to talk about your writing whenever you can. I don’t mean hustling sales at every opportunity, or blathering on about your book even when people are clearly bolting for the nearest exit. I mean using your 30-word synopsis and ending with a hook. If the audience isn’t interested, someone will change the topic of conversation and all will be well. If you are lucky, the audience will ask more questions, maybe even ask where they can buy a copy of the book. If you are very lucky, someone will give you a nugget of inspiration. Take the gift, be grateful, and keep writing.

Luck and wisdom!

What My Stuff Says About Me

May 22, 2019

I read an article the other day that said paying attention to the why of possessions can help caregivers ease their charges transitions. The writer said what a person wants to keep – be it a senior citizen downsizing for an apartment in an assisted living facility or teenager trying to navigate between mom’s house and dad’s – is a good indication not only of the person’s self-image but also of her sense of security in a new environment. That got me thinking about what I keep now, and what I might want to keep wherever I go, and what that says about me.

Obviously, Godzilla is a keeper.

I also have some items that are part good luck charms, part worry receptacles, and part totems for magical thinking.

Then, of course, there are the pieces of wisdom I keep around to remind me of the proper way to handle stress.

I’m certain you have stuff in your sewing room that have nothing to do with quiltmaking, but everything to do with who you think you are. Hang on to it, no matter what.

Luck and wisdom!

Marketing Advice I Can Use

May 20, 2019

Like all independently published authors, I am entirely responsible for marketing my novels. While I am more than willing to talk your ear off about my books should I corner you at a party, I’m not so great at finding bigger venues. I’ve organized a couple of book launches, but they turned out to be more tea party, less launch. I read as much about marketing as I can, but most of the advice I’ve found applies to younger, wealthier people living smack dab in the middle of New York, the kind who don’t have to factor in grocery shopping and the laundry between sessions on social media and schmoozing with influencers and trend-setters.

Still, the universe does provide if you wait long enough. My quilt guild is planning a holiday boutique. Since the key to all marketing advice is always ask if you can join in, I asked if I could participate. As far as I could tell, the only requirement for vendors was that all the items for sale must be handmade.

“Could I sell my books?” I asked. “Ann Anastasio and I wrote them ourselves, so that’s kinda sorta maybe handmade.”

The committee agreed that my books qualify as a handmade item, and I slapped the table fee down before they changed their minds. This boutique might not appear on the international book festival calendar, but I’m grateful for any chance to meet potential readers.

Luck and wisdom!

Old School Approach to My PIPs

May 15, 2019

Since a great many of my PIPs (projects in piles) will become donation quilts, I’m revisiting traditional patterns for the fabric collections. As it happens, I own quite a few pattern books – but I can’t reach them. The PIPs are in front of the shelves. Luckily, the guild sells old magazines to help buy batting and labels for our outreach program. I came home with an armload and started going through them.

Here is a pattern that will work well with some of my orphan blocks. The classic four-block center with interesting borders is always a winner.

I’ve always loved this pattern, but have never had the patience to complete all the blocks necessary for a decent size quilt. I’m thinking I could pull out one fabric collection and make blocks until I get bored, then work on another project.

If you are sitting on a pile of fabrics that haven’t told you what they want to become, and have a collection of old magazines (the one above is from 1994!), flip through the pages and see what pops out. Send me a picture when you’re done.

Luck and wisdom!

Permission to Let Go

May 13, 2019

I picked up a novel from one of my unread book piles and settled in for a rare afternoon of reading for fun, only to discover it wasn’t. The story didn’t appeal to me anymore. I tried to soldier on, but the pages fought me. “Self,” I said, “let go. This isn’t the story you want to read now, and you may never want to read it.”

Learning to let go is never easy, especially as it seems I have to relearn it on a regular basis. I spent the last year relearning how to let go with my quilting projects, and now with my reading projects. The hardest part of the relearning process will be with my writing projects. The next time the words fight me, I will remind myself to listen to my characters more carefully. Perhaps they are telling me the story I want to write isn’t the story they want to tell.

Luck and wisdom!