Nerd Quilts! Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, Disney Villains, and more… made by Author/Quilter Susan Marshall

Today’s guest is author/quilter Susan Marshall. She makes one-of-a-kind quilts with novelty fabrics. Basically, if your favorite thing has an associated fabric, she can make a quilt for it. For those of us that love to burrow on our couches under blankets while we marathon movies and shows, this post is a MUST READ! Welcome, Susan!!

Doctor Who Quilt by My Nerd Quilt, Susan Marshall
Susan’s MyNerdQuilt Shop on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyNerdQuilt

I accidentally stumbled upon Jill’s blog because I thought she’d written a book that I loved but it was actually someone else.  Despite the fact we had a missed connection after checking out her blog I immediately subscribed.  At the time I’d just started writing and loved her blog because it helped me not feel alone in my struggle to write everyday. Like my own blog, Jill likes to promote her books but also talks to other authors about their own books.  There’s so many books out there I love when other authors support each other by shining a light on their hard work.  She makes a point to write interesting posts about the craft of writing and fun stuff about her life.  Over the last two years her blog has helped me on more than one occasion when I was blocked or feeling down.  She’s an inspiration to us all to spread positivity and it will come back to you.  Thank you, Jill!!*

At the ripe age of 48 I published my first book Instant Connection which is now almost two years since it was first published.  Over the last two years I suffered some writers block and some financial issues that kept me from writing as quickly as I would have wanted.  Luckily with the support of my friends and fellow writers I’ve pushed through.  My goal is to publish two books this year and with one at the editors now, it might just happen.  If you’d like to learn more about my writing and me, check me out on social media (links below).

Other than being an indie romance writer, my crafting focus is quilting. My love of sewing started when I was 9 years old and my mother forced me to take sewing lessons.  When I say forced, she only had to force me to go to the first time and after that I loved it.  I won blue ribbons on my sewing projects in 4-H and got great satisfaction out of making pretty things for others.  As I got older and busier as a teenager I stopped sewing and crafting.  Boys became more important.

Disney Villain Quilt, My Nerd QuiltNow that I am older, I have started to sew again making quilts for friends and family for special occasions or just for fun when I was inspired.  My day job allows me to work from home as an events consultant in the video game industry so I am able to work it into my day.  Late last year I found myself in need of a new revenue stream as I lost a valued client, so I started to think about what I could do to earn extra cash.

I started selling vintage jewelry on Etsy and I really enjoyed my experience so I found myself wandering the isles of Jo-Anne Fabrics looking for inspiration on a new project and saw all of this Star Wars fabric.  As a self-professed nerd who attends Comic Con almost ever year, I was inspired like I’d been hit with a light saber.  My store is called My Nerd Quilt, which was inspired by my love of all things Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Walking Dead and more.   When I started to do research about available fabrics I got more excited because there were loads of cool fabrics. When I looked further I found there wasn’t anyone turning them into bespoke quilts.  I’ve settled into my niche and work hard every week coming up with new quilt inspirations.  I use faux fur, satins, fleece and flannels to make them soft and perfect for cuddling on your sofa to binge watch Netflix.  All the blankets are all machine washable. Check out my customer have to say about my quilts on my Etsy reviews.

Over the Christmas period I sold out of stock because I got a mention on the Nerdist podcast.  One mention on that podcast has given me great sales and some pretty cool special orders.  I love making special orders for quilts that you might not see on my site.  Recently I finished two king-sized Star Wars inspired quilts for two young girls’ birthdays in England.  Over the holidays I made special order Sherlock, Doctor Who and a limited edition vintage Star Wars fabric quilts.

This week I added a new type of quilt, a nerd quilt for your dog.  These quilts are for small to medium-sized dogs so you can put it on their beds for added warmth or your sofa to protect your furniture. 

Star Wars, quilt, dog blanket
Your Dog Deserves a Nerd Quilt Too!!!

My artistic gene is something I gladly inherited from my mother, as she was a painter, jewelry maker, and interior decorator.  Unfortunately for me, I didn’t inherit her skinny legs or exceptional metabolism.   Every day I am making these quilts as it feeds my artistic nature when I am unable to write, both of these bring me joy and help me to honor her memory.

Check out my quilts and feel free to contact me if you’d like to special order a quilt.



Where to Find Susan & Her Jewelry, Quilts, and Books

My Nerd Quilt on Etsy | My Nerd Quilt on Facebook | My Nerd Quilt on Instagram | @MyNerdQuilts on Twitter | My Antique Jewelry Shop on Etsy

Susan’s Website | Susan on Facebook | Twitter: @marshall_sl | Instagram: marshall_sl

Instant Connection: Amazon | Nook | iTunes

*I was so surprised and grateful when Susan first reached out to me to say how much she appreciated some of the writing posts I’ve shared here. Sometimes I worry, because I’m still relatively new at this writing/publishing gig, that I don’t have any super useful or awesomely valuable tips for fellow writers. But then I remind myself how much I’ve enjoyed reading other writers’ posts about all sorts of stuff. Writing tips, sure. But also just stuff about the day to day. Successes and challenges, both big and small. Lots of headwinds in our industry — but better to be in the midst of a maelstrom with friends than alone on a calm sea, right? 😀 🙂

I saw on Facebook that Susan just finished a Frozen and Game of Thrones quilt. Lots of awesome possibilities for Nerd Quilts!! Please go check out her Etsy shop.

Susan, thank you for the wonderful guest post!

p.s. To those of you who are celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend, have a happy one!

p.p.s. I bought my husband and older daughter MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING for Christmas. She’s taking French and they both love to cook WAY MORE THAN I DO. Told them all I want for Mother’s Day is for them to make me something from it. No Julie & Julia year-long project. One day. One meal. Will report back. If the weather’s nice, we may just go for a bike ride. Because I’m starting to feel like we Northeasterners are actually living on Venus in Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day.” Double-triple-quadruple aside, you know they are STILL assigning that story in middle school and asking kids to write a short story about what happened to Margot next? Can you believe I got a “C” on mine when I was a kid?!!! >:-(

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Five Photographs: Carla Richards (Saskatchewan, Snuffaleupagus, and Summon the Sun)

Fun bloggy news: I’m starting a new guest blog series today called “Five Photographs.” I asked a bunch of writers to submit five pictures (all taken by them; no stock photos 🙂 ) and complete a brief interview. You all know how I love themed guest blog series AND how I love eclectic blog posts and photographs, so this idea sounded perfect. Carla Richards is kicking it off with five beautiful, cute, and/or creative photos. She discusses author branding in her interview. There’s also a Goodreads giveaway link for an anthology Carla contributed to. Details below. Enjoy! Welcome, Carla!

Something that represents something unique about you:

Carla Richards Unique

This is one of my paintings. Although, it was done intentionally in the style of Jackson Pollock, it also represents something about me. I once had an acquaintance psychoanalyze me based on this painting when he and his wife were over for supper. He was an engineer not a psychiatrist, but he had learned to do this in some kind of class. The analysis wasn’t terribly accurate, but it was still a lot like those horrible dreams of going to school naked.

Something that represents where you live:

Carla Richards Saskatchewan

This photo pretty much covers winters here in Saskatchewan. It’s beautiful and it’s cold. It’s hard to remember that it’s beautiful when winter is trying to take over for the other seasons, the streets are covered in mucky snow and ice, and there are days when the windchill can freeze your face in under a minute.

Your pet or plant or thing you care for besides your human family/friends:

Carla Richards Pickles

This is Pickles. She loves to knead on the bed and purr. She’s incredibly loyal, but some people think she might be imaginary like Snuffaleupagus (had to look up how to spell that!) because she is very shy.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you:

Carla Richards Cords

Cords! Never-ending cords! I do like trying to photograph everyday objects in interesting ways, but cords are just ugly.

 Something that brings you joy (besides writing):

Carla Richards Quilts

This is a quilt my late grandmother made for me many years ago. It was soft, just the right size, just the right weight, and made with grandma-love. As you can partly see from the photo, sadly, it is falling apart. I had to take it off the bed and put it away, but I did take pictures first. Still hoping it can be fixed.

Interview with Carla

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

My latest published work is a short story called “Summon the Sun” in Tesseracts 18: Wrestling With Gods, an anthology exploring faith through science fiction and fantasy. Right now you can enter to win a copy on Goodreads!

The pitch for my story: An irresponsible novice witch summons the Egyptian Sun God to help warm up winter. But how much can a deity accomplish with a present following of one part-time Starbucks barista?

 What are you working on next?

I have a short story coming out in a benefit anthology for Friends of Homeless Animals, and my Work in Progress is a funny urban fantasy set in NYC with a fashion design assistant and some slightly ridiculous demons.

What are you currently reading?

I am usually reading several things at once. Right now: Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin, and Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

I’m catching up on the last season of Game of Thrones, and eagerly awaiting more Outlander. Jamie (sigh).

[Jill: Believe it or not, I haven’t watched Outlander episode 9 yet! We were out of town for Easter and now my kids are on spring break. Maybe tonight. And – yes! – can’t wait for GoT S5!]

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

My favorite villains are the ones that are sort of grey rather than black and white, or the ones that are on a redemption path. You are never quite sure if they are going to do something evil or something heroic, but your heart is in your throat every time they have to make a choice. Jaime Lannister is one of my favorite villains like this.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Author branding may not be the biggest challenge facing writers today, but it’s been on my mind, so it’s the one I’ll talk about. The part of it that concerns me is the expectation that, for marketing purposes, all of an author’s work will fit neatly into one genre category like widgets produced in a factory. We are not factories. The truth is that this kind of restriction can really derail creativity, decreasing the quality of the work or stopping the creative process dead in its tracks. It’s true. It’s a business. But, it’s a creative business. And that means we have to protect our inner artists too.

The other aspect of this for authors is the use of a new pen name for every subgenre they write in, and the time then spent maintaining websites and social media for three or four “different” people. Time not spent writing.

[Jill: I’m always torn about author branding. I was a marketing major in college so I can appreciate why products/companies should have strong brands. But as an author I often rebel (ahem, this blog. ‘nough said.) My most admired actors/actresses are people with excellent range, because I think they’re the ones with the most talent. So I think it’s interesting that writers aren’t judged by the same standard. Our medium is the written word and theirs is performance, but still… Should that matter? Just because you can hold a book in your hand, doesn’t mean it’s a widget. It’s a story.]

How can we meet that challenge?

One of the cool things I’ve noticed lately is using author taglines that are less genre-specific. Lots of authors use taglines–the quick little blurb that can set our work apart and make it memorable. But some of the ones I’ve seen in the past are really genre specific, letting the reader know that the author writes historical western romances or post-apocalyptic sci-fi for young adults. That’s fine if it’s the only thing an author ever wants to write. Lately though I’ve been noticing taglines that aren’t so genre specific. Taglines that promise the reader an experience, like: “She’ll keep you up all night” (Jackie Collins) or “All. The. Feels.” (Gayle Forman). These taglines can go with an author for the life of their career.

We can also use our website(s) to communicate. Neil Gaiman writes speculative fiction for adults AND he writes picture books (see Blueberry Girl–it’s lovely), all under his own name. Gaiman has two websites, one for adults and a separate one for kids. (He also has an agent who’s very successful at representing multi-genre authors.) When Courtney Milan released her first Contemporary Romance, she wrote to fans of her Regency romance on her website, telling them a bit about why she felt she needed to do something different. There’s a wonderful authenticity and connection to readers in writing under one name, and being open about the process of writing.

Another thing we can do is keep our novels within one genre and still play and experiment with short fiction, like author Mary Robinette Kowal.

Lastly, I think we should respect that readers are intelligent, and can look at the front cover, read the back cover copy, and say, “this is a bit different from her last book, but it sounds cool too.” Yep, not all of the readers of an author’s medieval fantasy trilogy are going to want to go with her on a space expedition, but I guess in the end, I feel like what we lose in branding when writing multiple genres will be gained back in creating more engaging stories that we, and our readers, are passionate about.

Does anyone have any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them.

Thank you, Jill, for having me. This was a really fun blog idea.

Carla Richards
Carla Richards

More about Carla

Carla Richards has had fiction produced for CBC Radio; and published in Ocean Stories, Spring, and Tesseracts 18: Wrestling With Gods. She still has a baby tooth, and believes it is keeping her young.

Thank you, Carla, for guest blogging today! I loved your pictures and enjoyed reading your interview!

Writers Who Create Other Things – Thank you!

I wrapped up this season’s guest blog series, which featured writers who create things other than worlds and characters, yesterday. For anyone who missed any of the posts, there are links below. Many of the writers sell their jewelry and crafts. It may be too late to order custom-made holiday gifts this year but there’s always birthdays, anniversaries, and next year! Thank you to everyone who followed along and to all of the participating authors. Your creativity is inspiring!

Delilah Devlin – The Emerald Casket (Jewelry)

Terry Spear – Award-winning Teddy Bears

Danielle Ackley-McPhail – Costume Horns

Sabina Bundgaard – Baubles and Beads (Jewelry)

Beth Caudill – Chainmail Jewelry

Leela Lou Dahlin – Ink Pen Bouquets

Suzanne Johnson – Drawing, Painting, and Mixed Media Artwork

Lizzie Newell – Book Lanyards and Costumes

As my kids say, it’s Christmas Eve Eve tonight. To those of you that celebrate the holiday, good luck with any last-minute shopping or wrapping!

Lizzie Newell: Beautiful Book Lanyards

Lizzie Newell is the last guest blogger in my fall/winter “Writers Who Create Other Things” series. She tells us how her latest research inspired her to make nautically themed book lanyards. I love the colors, materials, and story behind these lanyards. Welcome, Lizzie!

book lanyard, fishing gear, creativity, inspiration

Lizzie Newell on Costumes, Fishing Gear, Jewelry, and Writing

I’m a writer who makes art, jewelry, and costumes as part of my writing process. Currently, I’ve made a series of jewelry, based on fishing floats, to send to folks who signed up for my newsletter. I’m also putting the finishing touches on the book cover and interior for my soon to be published novella, Sappho’s Agency. I produced the cover image using digital painting. I work in a traditional manner, developing the painting from sketches as I learned to do as an art student.

My stories are set in on a maritime planet, Fenria, which resembles Southeast Alaska over the entire planet. Fenria has many islands and fjords but no continents. The entire population lives near the coasts. They use boats and ships for transportation, and get much of their food, fish and sea vegetables, from the ocean.

In doing the research for my writing, I read up on boats, ships, and fishing villages. I regularly travel in Southeast Alaska and have an extensive collection of seafaring music which continuously inspires me. I’m fascinated by systems of rope and string which leads to my apparently oddly juxtaposed interest in corsetry and maritime gear. A corset with its combination of cord, fabric, and semi-rigid elements has a strong resemblance to the shrouds, sails, and spars of a ship.

My inspiration for the jewelry series came from watching the docking process aboard an Alaska Marine Highway ferry. To dock a ship, the deck crew throws a heaving line to personnel on the dock. This heaving line has a monkey fist knot on one end. The other end of the line is tied to the hawser used to moor the ship. I wanted to try making the rigging in miniature which led me to making my book lanyards which can be used as either a bookmark or a necklace. I net wire around a marble to make miniature glass fishing float such as were used by fishermen in the 1940s. I attach each model float it to a miniature heaving line.

Fishing float book lanyard

Making these book lanyards serves multiple purposes. First, I can’t come up with ideas when faced with a blank computer scene, but if I have something to do with my hands the ideas flow. I’ve played a lot of Freecell, Minesweap, or Tetras. Jewelry takes the same type of thinking. I have tools and materials next to my computer for use as a break from writing. My sewing, which takes more space, is set up in my bedroom. I also make models out of paper and so have a cut mat on top of a drafting table to do the work.

I use my costumes, jewelry, and art as a way to promote my writing. At writers’ conferences, working on jewelry is a great conversation starter, so are my costumes.

Amelia Bloomer costume
Lizzie as Amelia Bloomer

I made a Bloomer costume based on the style of clothing promoted by Amelia Bloomer, a 19th century feminist and magazine editor. I wore this to political events as a way of promoting voting. I also made a regency era costume complete with underclothing and did a strip tease at Worldcon in Montreal. For this I was given a special award and I got a hug from Julie Czernida.

I post photos of my process on Facebook and I give the jewelry away. Each of my pieces has a jewelry tag with my name so that if anyone is curious about the jewelry they can Google my name. Best of all is how I meet other people who make jewelry, art, and costumes or who know about aeronautical and boat design.

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Thank you, Lizzie, for guest blogging today!

Suzanne Johnson: The Secret to Staying Young and Sane

My next guest is UF, PNR, and romantic thriller author, Suzanne Johnson. She’s here as part of a guest blog series I’m doing featuring Writers Who Create Other Things. Many of the authors I’ve hosted recently have been jewelry designers, which is really neat. But Suzanne’s other creative talents are in drawing, painting, and mixed-media artwork. Below, she tells us her secret to staying young and sane. She also shares a bit about a new workshop she’s going to be giving next year, “Art Therapy for Writers and Readers,” and she’s giving away a signed original 9×12 mixed-media piece. Leave a comment below to enter to win. (U.S. only due to mailing costs unless Suzanne tells us otherwise in the comments). Welcome, Suzanne!

Be Creative and Play!

“I believe this is a fundamental truth: in order to stay young, in order to stay sane, humans need what I call creative play—call it a hobby or a craft or whatever, but we all need something creative to do that isn’t involved in our livelihoods.”

I’ve worked in journalism since I got out of college, and as I look back over the years, I realize my need for creative play has taken different forms at different times in my life. For a while, I scoured flea markets and resale shops and garage sales for pattern glass. I dabbled in macramé. I quilted. I made jewelry. I tried knitting scarves (accent on “try”).

Five or six years ago, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, just for fun, and then the world tilted on its axis. Life changed pretty quickly as I fell in love with fiction writing, got published, and wrote more novels. Now, even though I maintain a day job, I consider “novelist” my primary occupation, and the past five years have been an absolute whirlwind of change.

So I found it a little strange that last winter, I found myself becoming obsessed with art. I’d done a lot of graphite drawings in high school and my mom painted a bit, but my school was too small to have offered art classes and I didn’t have enough talent or patience to pursue it as an occupation. But last winter, there I was, drawing. I had five novels due within the next thirteen months, the deadlines were mounting, and the day job was in turmoil.  I sure didn’t have time to be drawing pictures.

But I did it anyway, and it helped me write those books (well, the fifth one is almost finished) and survive the day-job chaos and remain relatively sane.

A year and a bulging box of artwork later, I’ve gotten a little perspective on the role art can play in the writing process. It’s tactile, and uses a different part of the brain than the one that’s tied up in knots trying to unravel plot points and figure out why the hero and heroine don’t have any spark.

This has nothing to do with artistic talent. Believe me, I’m no artist, not on any kind of commercial scale (and sometimes, not even on an aesthetic scale—LOL). What’s important is not what kind of art you produce, but about the process of producing it. The creative play. While my art brain is awash in ink and paper and paint, my writing brain can relax and noodle around those plot points without my interference.

(It’s the same process, I think, as why writers often get their best ideas while they’re driving or shopping or in the shower. Our subconscious is able to work interrupted, without us.)

When I began writing for publication, novel-writing was (and is) still fun, but it also became a business. It’s the most enjoyable, creative business in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it’s no longer play.

What I was doing in going back to art, I realized, was seeking a new form of creative play. I can’t claim to have come to this conclusion on my own. I took an online workshop from artist Jane Davenport, who said that when she was a commercial fashion illustrator, art journaling was her play, her hobby. Now that she makes much of her income from art journaling, she’s turned to canvas painting as her hobby because she still needs that creative outlet that isn’t tied to her livelihood. That really zonked me over the head.

Thus, my love of mixed-media art, which after some experimentation, has become my artistic mode of choice. I started 2014 with the intention of spending at least one hour a day making art this year, an hour playing. I knew it was taking time from an already insane schedule, but hoped it would pay off in productivity.

I think it has. And it’s FUN to play!

What do I do with the pieces I create? Right now, I don’t think they’re good enough to sell, but I give them away as gifts. The rest, I bind into journals to remind myself of my own creative journey. I write notes on the back—not just when they were completed or what techniques I used, but also what was fueling my life the days I worked on the piece: a run-in with the boss, the loss of my 16-year-old, beloved dog, worry about a family issue. It’s therapy with a brush and a tube of paint.

Suzanne Johnson Mixed Media Artwork

New Workshop for Writers and Readers

The act of getting messy and stretching new creative muscles has allowed my writing brain to get reinvigorated, stay fresh, and avoid burnout. I’m planning a workshop for authors and readers alike in March, doing mixed-media pieces tied to our works-in-progress or our favorite books. If you’re interested in being on a waiting list for “Art Therapy for Writers and Readers” send me an email at: suzannej3523 at gmail dot com or keep an eye on the Workshops tab of my website.

Till then, keep on playing! Do you have a creative hobby of your own? Leave a comment for one of my signed original 9×12 mixed-media pieces.

The Giveaway

U.S. only due to mailing costs unless Suzanne says otherwise below. To enter to win, leave a comment. Giveaway will be open until midnight EST Monday December 15, 2014. For my complete official giveaway rules, click here.

More About Suzanne

Susannah Sandlin, who also writes as Suzanne Johnson, writes paranormal romance and romantic thrillers from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick. She’s the author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, a spinoff novel, Storm Force, a standalone novelette, Chenoire, and a new romantic thriller series, The Collectors, beginning with Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she also is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series.

Suzanne can be found online here:

More About Suzanne’s latest release: DEADLY, CALM, AND COLD

Deadly Calm and Cold, romantic thriller, crown jewelsFrom award-winning author Susannah Sandlin comes the second book in The Collectors series (each book reads as a standalone).

How far will ordinary people go to protect their secrets? The Collectors’ games are as much about manipulating lives as finding lost treasure. Everyone is expendable as the ruthless C7 pushes people into gambling with their lives in order to find priceless objects lost to history.

Samantha Crowe’s secrets could ruin her career, while Brody Parker’s could get him killed. They become pawns for two Collectors seeking Bad King John’s crown jewels, which disappeared in rural England back when Robin Hood roamed Nottingham.

This time, however, the Collectors–a ruthless dotcom billionaire and a desperate London detective–might not be playing for the same team, leaving Sam and Brody trapped in the middle.

One thing’s for sure: If either hope to survive, Sam and Brody will have to find a way to overcome their distrust–and their growing attraction–in order to succeed on this winner-take-all treasure hunt.

So how about you all? Any creative hobbies?

Me? Not really, unless you count painting rooms in my house every now and then (which I don’t, although it can be a fun project). I’ll admit though, I’m intrigued by the idea of mixed media artwork. I’ve mentioned previously (not sure if it was here or on Twitter) that I’d love to design/draw maps to go with my stories. And it would be really fun to do dioramas or models for certain settings (buildings, boats, bars…) but for now I’m going to stick with creating worlds out of written words. 🙂

Thank you, Suzanne, for guest blogging today and for sharing your artwork with us!

Leela Lou Dahlin: Rosy Writer Ink Pen Bouquets (and Mockingjay!)

Today’s guest blogger is Leela Lou Dahlin, who makes pen bouquets. This post is part of a guest blog series I’m hosting featuring writers who create other things besides worlds and characters. Welcome, Leela Lou!

Rosy Writer Ink Pen Bouquets

Rosy Writer 3

 

A marriage of beauty and function. Does it seem odd that I would have this as a hobby when my first love is writing? Not to me. It’s very relaxing. Molding the clay, plotting my story line and creating something beautiful—the flower and the plot.

I love thick smooth paper and a pen that writes well. I’d rather send a hand-made card with a note of thanks than a text. There are so many ways to go digital today but sometimes it’s nice to feel a pen between your fingers as it glides along the page expressing your gratitude or your rage…depending on the mood.

Even though I love pens and I have way more than my fair share I don’t like the way they look sitting in a cup or holder. This is now how Rosy Writers got started though. My children and I moved to a wonderful school district when Christmas came my 5 children wanted a gift to take to their teachers. That was going to prove costly. Since I knew that teachers were another group of people who love pens so I took my love of making roses and found a way to make the pen look like a rose on a stem that would be a bouquet of flowers they could have throughout the year. The idea was a hit and soon I started getting orders for hostess gifts, thank you gifts, mother’s day, wedding and baby showers…practically any other time someone wanted a flower bouquet. Added bonus – no one can walk away with your pen and not realize it.

Making them helps me relax and gets my creative thoughts going, and thank goodness because sometimes they are quite in demand. I’m not sure what I like most…making them or hearing how happy the recipients are with the product.

More about Leela

Leela Lou Dahlin works undercover as an outgoing RN Case Manager by day, but at night her time is filled with kids, clay and computers…and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

She can be found online here:

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was fun. We have a new kitten. 99.9% sure her name is going to be Nutmeg. (My kids have named both of my cats. We adopted a stray last springGinger). So a big part of the weekend was spent hanging w the new kitty and trying to gracefully intro her to Ginger. Unsurprisingly, he isn’t exactly thrilled about her arrival, but I’m still hopeful they will become friends eventually.

Took my older daughter and a group of her friends to see Mockingjay Part 1 on Friday. It was opening night and I expected the theater to be PACKED, and it was, but it wasn’t nearly the mad house that opening night for Hunger Games was. [this next bit is slightly SPOILERY] Put me firmly in the camp of those who do not think the third book needed two movies to tell its story. I’m not saying the movie wasn’t good (it was and is well worth seeing in the theater) but the pacing/tension was definitely slower/reduced for this one. There was action and emotion but not as much as I would have liked. I also missed the juxtaposition of Effie’s wildly colorful dresses and all the gag-inducing excess of the capital against the bleakness of life in the districts. This movie takes place mostly in District 13, which is all gray, all the time. Don’t get me wrong though — I’m a huge fan of this series. The characters, world, and writing are so well done and the filmmaker’s version of the story has captured my interest while remaining true to its source. Only one of the girls I took had read the book. Which made Part 1’s ending more dramatic and surprising for them than it was for series readers. (If you’ve read it, you can guess exactly where Part 1 ends). Overall, despite Mockingjay Part 1 being the deepest, darkest movie yet, it felt less immediate to me. But it’s a solid film that ably sets up next year’s final installment. 

Saturday night my husband and I went to a hippie-themed birthday party for a friend of ours. Initially, I had misread the invite and thought the theme was 70s. Got this vintage disco dress and some boots to wear and then, last minute, saw that entertainment would include clips from Woodstock and songs by Janis Joplin, The Who, CSN, the Dead, Jimi Hendrix…. So I ditched the dress.

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE... and a beard. Craig's growing a beard for the first time ever for No Shave November: http://www.no-shave.org/
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE…
and a beard. Craig’s growing a beard for the first time ever for No Shave November: http://www.no-shave.org/

Finally, if you missed Friday’s post… I’m giving away one print copy of the Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance. International. Three ways to enter: comment here, contact me here, or tweet.

So… how about you? What did you do this weekend? Have you seen Mockingjay? What did you think? Which Rosy Writer Ink Pen Bouquet do you like best? I’ve given stationery as a thank you gift lots of times but haven’t yet given a bouquet of pens. It’s a neat idea, right?

Thank you to Leela Lou for guest blogging today! Happy Monday, all!

Beth Caudill: Chainmail Jewelry

My next guest blogger is Beth Caudill, who makes chainmail jewelry. Pretty cool, huh? (After hosting this season’s “Writers Who Create Other Things” guest blog series, I’m thinking that jewelry is the most popular “other” thing that writers create — or at least the most popular other thing that writers who contacted me create. I can understand the appeal and have to admit, I’ve thought about it. But, for now, I’m happy just listening to other writers’ stories of how they started making jewelry.) Welcome, Beth!

chainmail jewelry, Beth Caudill, fantasy, author, books

 “The businesses of writing and selling jewelry are very similar. You need a unique, easy to identify brand and a distinctive product.”

Thank you Jill for having me here today.

Growing up, jewelry wasn’t something I had an interest in. My father would give my mother necklaces or earrings for Christmas but I didn’t really want any of my own.  I bought a class ring when I graduated high school and I had a few special necklaces from vacations but nothing spectacular.

Fast forward several years and I’m a stay-at-home-mom with two small kids. I began writing as a way to stay sane.  I’m extremely introverted and being at home with two small people all the time can be very trying. You can’t even escape to the bathroom—any mother knows little hands and cries of “Mooommmm” follow you everywhere.

My escape was into the fantastical worlds I created with my romantic fantasy and paranormal romance stories. But I needed to do research, particularly for my magical stories. Usually magicians cast or draw power through items such as stones, wands, amulets or crystals. Suddenly I had a bunch of resources on making jewelry and the history of gems and crystals.

In my Paranormals of Arilase series, there are two elements which will be present in each story. Each heroine will have a jasper pendant to channel their power and a wedding. In Healer’s Fate, Corliss, a werewolf healer, used a red jasper pendant.  In Enchantress’ Destiny, my current work-in-progress, Clairessa, an elf, uses green jasper to channel energy for her spellcasting.

At one of my local romance writers workshops, another author’s husband was selling chainmaille jewelry. The silver rings were so pretty connected together in different weaves or patterns. I did some research and ordered a beginner set to try for myself.  The design I wear the most is this flower chain bracelet.

chainmail jewelry, Beth Caudill, fantasy, author, books

After making a few pieces, I gave my mother and mother-in-law gifts of silver chainmaille. They loved it and talked me into trying to sell my items.  I’ve had an Etsy account for two years but it hasn’t been very productive.  This year, I’m focused on attending craft fairs to showcase my work.

The businesses of writing and selling jewelry are very similar. You need a unique, easy to identify brand and a distinctive product. While I love creating both my stories and jewelry, the hardest part for both businesses is connecting with the ideal customer.   I’ve found it’s easier to concentrate on creating stories and not worry about sales with the writing business.  But with the jewelry, I have a bunch of inventory and no one is buying. It’s disheartening.

I’ve had a lot of people say they like my designs but no one buys. One great thing has been the other sellers I’ve met. Like with the writing community, there have been wonderful people who’ve given me suggestions on things I can do to improve the chances someone will buy my jewelry – such as shortening the length of my earrings.  It’s wonderful that I’ve found two communities where people are willing to share their experiences and help each other.

Right now my biggest hurdle is time. I’m homeschooling my two sons and that has to be my number 1 priority. Both writing and jewelry making occur during my free time and some days I’m too exhausted to attempt either. Generally I try to do my writing in the morning or early afternoon and my jewelry making at night. But sometimes I have to devote all my time to one business or the other for a week.

I have lists of goals for both businesses and ideas to try in the New Year. It’s a bit like a juggling act and I don’t always succeed. But I enjoy both writing stories and making jewelry so I’m still trucking along.

chainmail jewelry, Beth Caudill, fantasy, author, books

More About Beth

Beth loves everything fantasy and grew up a lover of fairy tales. Her favorite TV shows are Once Upon a Time and Leverage because both combine a bit of good with a hint of wickedness. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and homeschools her two sons and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. In her free time, Beth creates fantastical distant worlds for her romantic fantasy and paranormal romance stories. And for a bit of bling, she weaves metals rings and crystals into beautiful chainmaille jewelry.

Did everyone have a good weekend? I took my younger daughter and a friend to see Big Hero 6 Saturday night. It was great! Baymax was adorably huggable. 🙂 Also loved the animated short, Feast, that played before it began.

Have you seen Big Hero 6? Do you want to? What did you do this weekend? Do you think Beth’s chainmail jewelry is as cool as I do?

Thank you, Beth, for guest blogging today. Best wishes for lots of holiday sales!

Sabina Bundgaard: Denmark Postwoman Who Loves Baubles, Beads, and Books

My next guest in my “Writers Who Create Other Things” guest blog series is Sabina Bundgaard. She’s a book blogger/reviewer, writer, and jewelry maker. I first connected with Sabina around the time of Dark Light of Day‘s release. At the time, she was reviewing books for a romance website but soon after she started her own blog. We’ve stayed in touch through Facebook. When I saw that (in addition to her bookish adventures) she also makes jewelry, I asked if she wanted to come blog about it. Happily, she agreed. Welcome, Sabina!

jewelry making, bracelets, writers, creativity

“It all started with me looking for something ‘blingy’ to pep up my daughter’s Fastelavn costume.”

Hi! *waves*

My name is Sabina Bundgaard, I live in Denmark, and I’m an author, postwoman, wife, mother to two wonderful kids, I’m a blogger and I make jewelry. My day is full. *grins*

I don’t make book related jewelry though. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they certainly can be used for giveaways. In fact they frequently are, but I make it to be used for everyday use.

So how did I get started? Well…. as an outlet to tell you the truth. See, I used to be a vet student, and as much as I loved it, it really didn’t give me the time to do what I loved to. Books have always been a huge part of my life, so not being able to sit down anymore to read for fun was actually killing me. Trouble is… I can’t stop with just one chapter. It’s the same when I start writing. Once I get into a funk, I just keep going. Let me tell you it’s a baaaad combination when you have finals coming up – which we had every second month. Making my jewelry fit better into my schedule and it was something I could easy finish up before getting back to my studying.

jewelry making, earrings, writers, creativity

For fun, I started kumihimo braiding – making key chains. It was fun, relaxing and took virtually no time at all to make a few. I started donating them for giveaways, release parties, and such, especially for my fellow authors in Crushing Heart and Black Butterfly Publishing. People seemed to like them and it gave me the boost to try something else – bracelets.

It all started with me looking for something “blingy” to pep up my daughter’s Fastelavn costume. I found a bracelet, shambala style, but was a bit floored about the price. When we got home, I started to investigate and finally found out how to make them. My first true victim was my very good friend (and pub sis from CHBB) Sarah J Carr. I made some neon colored shambala inspired bracelet, braided bookmarks and key chains for her release – Starring Evans. It all went downhill (or uphill, depending on your view) from there.

Sabina Multi-Color Bracelets

Today I have my own page on Facebook. It’s called Sabina’s Baubles and Beads and I am making everything from a variety of bracelets, necklaces and earrings. My inspiration? Everywhere. Sometimes it’s seeing a bracelet made in a specific way. I think, “If I change that, or use this… Hmmm”. Sometimes I see something online, but don’t have the same materials on hand. Instead, I try using what I have and wing it from there. More often than not, I browse different websites (because heavens know we could use more physical stores that sell bulk in Denmark), and see something that I like and try to cooperate it into something that will work. Do I fail? Hell yes. I’ve made stuff that just isn’t working. AT ALL. I’ve made stuff that literally falls apart shortly after because I didn’t tie the knot properly, or used a wrong thread. *shrugs* It happens to us all. I learn from it and do it better next time.

Ultimately, I love wearing all my creativity hats, and making jewelry is just one of them, but an important one for me. It is a part of me, just like being an author, blogger, and mother is.

Before leaving, I would like to give Jill an enormous hug for inviting me as a guest blogger. Thank you!!

Sabina Bundgaard
Sabina Bundgaard

More about Sabina

Sabina Bundgaard lives in Denmark with her husband and their two children. By day she races around the countryside, delivering mail and packages to people. By night…. Well, that’s a different story.

While drinking one of her many flavors of tea, she delves into the mysterious realms of her imagination. Writing about everything from Elves and Dragons to Romance and Erotica, she tries her wings to see where they will take her.

Her favorite past time when not writing is reading, making jewelry and speaking to her friends all over the world, celebrating their victories and happy times.

You can find Sabina online here:

Hugs to you too, Sabina! Thank you for guest blogging today. I enjoyed hearing more about how you started making jewelry. Good luck and best wishes with all of your creative endeavors!

Hope everyone had a great weekend and a fun Halloween. Ours was terrific! Loved that it was on a Friday this year. Spent Sunday at a field hockey tournament. Winds were so gusty we were nearly swept off the field and into the sky (if only I’d had an umbrella I could have blown home a la Mary Poppins).

Then I had a couple of monstrous tech glitches. Dropped my cell phone in my garage. Done for. But the iCloud and the fact that I was overdue for an upgrade saved me. Now have a new phone and a pink Lifeproof case (my kids love it). 48 hours later my laptop was under attack. Thankfully, one of the guys from Norton helped me purge my system of ickiness. Fingers crossed that Tech Glitches do not occur in threes!

Kids are back in school after an almost five-day weekend (a weird effect of Halloween, Election Day, and end of quarter occurring at the same time) so (now that my laptop has been given clean bill of health) it’s back to full productivity.

Anyone doing NaNo? I’m not, but good luck to those of you who are. I love all the NaNo news/posts/tips in November bc it reminds all writers how much we can accomplish when we hunker down and WRITE!

Did you have a nice Halloween? What did YOU do this weekend? Anyone else dealing with dropped phones, computer viruses, or other tech glitches?

What’s your favorite type of jewelry? Earrings? Bracelets? Necklaces?

Wishing all of you high word counts and/or lots of time to read today!

Writers Who Create Other Things: Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s Horns (a must for October… and year-round!)

My next guest is Danielle Ackley-McPhail, who writes fantasy and also creates custom-made costume horns. How cool is that? We met last month at the Baltimore Book Fest (we were on the Dark Fantasy panel together). I mentioned that I was hosting a guest blog series featuring writers who also make crafts, jewelry, and other art in order to show how creative authors can be in other ways and she told me she makes one-of-a-kind horns. When I heard that, I told her I really wanted her to come blog and tell us about them and share some pictures. Her wonderful post is below. Welcome, Danielle!

Danielle Ackley-McPhail Custom-Made Horns 2

How I Became The Hornie Lady

Hi, my name is Danielle Ackley-McPhail and most times I’m an author….but occasionally I’m also the Hornie Lady!

Why am I called the Hornie Lady? Funny you should ask. Several years ago a friend and fellow author came up to me and said… “I have to tell you something….when my son was younger and we would come into the dealers room, the moment he saw your display of horns he would say ‘Mom! It’s the hornie lady!’ Embarrassed, I told him, ‘No! Don’t call her that!’ but now that he’s grown I had to share that with you.”

Well, soon after she told me this story I had a chance to meet one of my literary heroes, Sherrilyn Kenyon, author of the Dark Hunter series. In that series she has a baby-goth demon named Simi who calls horns ‘hornies’. Because of that event I ended up making horns for Ms. Kenyon wholesale. Naturally, when I went pro, I had to be The Hornie Lady.

Why did I start making horns to begin with, you ask? Well…as a small-press author I learned early on the importance of diversifying. When I first started out it was very hard going only having one book, so I branched out into anthologies and grew my list. After that I made sure I had several books coming out every year just to keep new things on the table. That is important when you do the same shows over and over. If you don’t have new material the fans you’ve already made won’t have anything to buy next time. And as for what you hope will be new fans…you want to give them as many options to choose from to increase your chances that you’ll have something they will like.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail, custom-made costume horns, fantasy, cosplay, stage, Halloween

That still doesn’t explain the horns, though, does it?

When I started doing conventions I wanted to have fun as well and I always loved costuming so my first efforts with clay were masks and they were strictly for myself and whatever costume I wanted to make. One of the first costumes I made was a One-Eyed, One Horned Flying Purple People Eater. Soon after that I went to a renaissance festival and saw the costume horns they sold….I was not impressed, but I was intrigued. The first thought to go through my head was “I can do better than that!”

Danielle Ackley-McPhail Custom-Made Horns 3

The Too Cute puppies called. They want some horns!
The Too Cute puppies called. They want some horns!

So I tried. My first foray as a seller of horns was the very first East Coast Faeriecon. In that weekend I sold 53 set of horns and I was hooked. People loved them. My prices were reasonable, the designs were unique and original, and my method of attachment was simple. From that point on horns became a staple of my vending efforts. I had fun making them and trying new things, and from a production standpoint costs were quite reasonable.

This wasn’t just good business, but an excellent complement to my marketing as I am a fantasy author. The horns are a point of interest that often causes people to stop at the table. Once I get them to stop and start to chat with them I can then direct their attention to the books. Also they are a good conversation piece and a hawker’s hook….imagine, is there any better way to draw someone’s attention than to ask “Can I make you hornie?” If nothing else, it makes people laugh and if you can do that then you make a connection, an impression, and even if they don’t stop that time, they will remember you and eventually their curiosity will get the better of them.

At worse I sell a set of horns and nothing else, at best I can get them to buy a book as well, and I might just have made a fan, literary or otherwise! Even today I can recognize people wearing horns I sold them years ago, and repeat customers are a common occurrence. In fact, some people make a point of coming to buy a set each time they see me at a show, and not because anything happened to the ones they bought before.

One of my greatest (and most guilty) triumphs is when I discover someone trying to copy one of my designs…and not being able to pull it off 😉

In the end it comes down to one thing for me: I love to create, no matter what the medium. Words…clay…cooking…It’s all good!

Hornie Lady Contact Info

Danielle Ackley-McPhail Custom-Made Horns

More About Danielle

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include five urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court: and The Redcaps’ Queen: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale, and a young adult Steampunk novel, Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the solo science fiction collection, A Legacy of Stars, the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In an Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

She is a member of the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, the New Jersey Authors Network, and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

In addition to her literary acclaim, Danielle crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady, at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail or badassfaeries), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). To learn more about her work, visit http://www.sidhenadaire.com, or http://www.badassfaeries.com.  

"Come, Best Beloved, and sit you by my feet. I shall tell you a tale such as sister Scheherazade could have scarce imagined..."
“Come, Best Beloved, and sit you by my feet.
I shall tell you a tale such as sister Scheherazade could have scarce imagined…”
My older daughter bought Danielle's steampunk faerie tale at the Baltimore Book Fest
My older daughter bought Danielle’s steampunk faerie tale at the Baltimore Book Fest

To find Danielle’s horns online, click here

To find Danielle’s books online, click here

If you are a writer who makes and sells art, jewelry, or some other type of craft, and you are interested in guest blogging, please contact me for more details. I have a few guest spots left.

Hope everyone had a nice weekend. Ours can be summed up in three words: planes, trains, and automobiles. Or movies, music, and books. We flew down to Cape May for the New Jersey State Film Fest on Saturday then took the train up to NYC for Gary Wright’s concert/book signing event Sunday night at the City Winery. (Gary is my husband’s cousin. He is a musician, memoirist, and all around great guy. The concert was fun. Hadn’t heard him sing Dream Weaver live since his impromptu performance at our wedding. I have a great picture, which I might post if I can find it…)

How about you? Did you do anything fun last weekend? Do you think Danielle’s horns are as neat as I do?

Thank you, Danielle, for guest blogging today!