Monday, October 29, 2018

The Sewing place...

 Here's a quick look at the place where the creating happened this summer. We're still working on the interior, so things steadily change, but it's fun to see the progress!!
The South windows let in a lot of light, a lot of heat, but we got the porch on this summer! (After pic)

Short Cape, fur-collar out, hangs on my 'self made manikin".
  At this point we are still "en media res" with the construction, even though that has really slowed down to a crawl.
(As in, outdoors work has taken precidence over indoors finishing!)

     We've got most of our stuff moved over, but it's far from organized at the new place. My lovely spinning wheels are sitting largely unused, and our closet (in the background) still holds so much electrical and lighting supply that it's not functioning for the wardrobe very well!

 But! I've used a free standing drying rack to drape my project fabrics on, working against the "out of sight, out of mind" principle.

   They are really pretty, and I do find myself impatient to begin getting them worked up into their intended garments!

 The west facing window lets in a lot of good light, but gets a bit hot in the afternoon so the curtains are a must! But it's lovely to have an entire table to work on, and not have to share with meal times!

   Stacking the lightweight shelves on top of our old childhood dresser gives us so much vertical space, we haven't utilized it all!

  But you can see the really beautiful faux fur roll at the top, which trimmed the Short Cape, and the Old German gown.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Report: Realm Maker's '18

All right!
   Well, it's been a while, but here's my Realm Makers report.

 We survived!

 I was fortunate enough to travel up with long time online friend Mary, and her husband (both of them long time Realmies, so it was great to have 'veterans' as guides!) and one of Mary's long time real life friends; who had also been before.  So I was the only "Realmie newbie" in the car, and it felt like slow a transition into the conference started at the spot we met up and departed from!

  The Chalet hotel it was held at did a great job of looking classic and Old World-ish, so that was a lot of fun. I'm usually not a fan of hotels, but this one felt more authentic than the 'post modern' type of stop-overs.

  My roomies arrived a bit later than us, so I mingled with arriving attendees in the lobby; (which had such comfortable chairs! I loved that! ) While showing Space Kitties 2 to a brand new friend, I looked up from the author pic of H. L. Burke to see Heidi herself walking through the doors. That was kind of coincidental, and of course it was great to meet some Space Kitty authors in person.
Thursday: my Faux Burgundian, modified
     There was also a lot of pilots coming and going on the shuttle from the airport all through the event, and I couldn't help but wonder where all those people who'd spent a night in the same hotel would be spending their next night... all over the world!

   First nights in new places are usually hard for me to sleep through, and this was no exception. After discovering I'd left key items at home, panicking for a couple hours, and then being rescued by my roommate, (shout out to Deborah O'Carrol!) I finally did get some sleep.

    Thursday was a blur of  new connections, and trying to find one's feet among a busy throng of 400; which was challenging for the introvert in me! I tried the old "fake it till you make it!" adage, and met lots of new folks.
  It was a relief to see just how many of them I had already friended on-line, which helped ease the panic mode quite a bit. All that hanging out on FB paid off!

Friday was a "crash day" for me, I stayed up til after midnight prior, and slept till nearly noon. Sort of my reward for being brave all of Thursday and pushing myself! I nearly overslept and missed my slot to help out at the greeting tables, but when I got there (15 minutes late! Ack!) they put me with the T-shirts, which were in disarray. It was actually re-juvenating to sort the remaining stack and organize by what sizes were left, and I was able to help several people find their size when those sizes were thought to be out.
 So that was validating for me! I love to help people not be disappointed, and bringing order to outer chaos tends to calm my own inner kind.

 Chatting quietly with the other volunteers was great too, because it was such a low pressure situation and very one-on-one. I find I actually don't know how to "not have a job" well!
   As Tosca Lee was leaving, she actually asked for a pic with my Tardis dress, which I was thrilled to comply with. I was much too inhibited to ask for a pic with her, but I was sort of desperately wanting one, since I don't hob-nob with NYT bestselling authors a lot! So that was definitely a highlight.  (My Tardis dress was my most popular costume, and "broke a lot of ice" for me, so that was worth all the trouble it took!!!)
   Listened in on some of the big speakers during the afternoon, then got to bed and had a good rest before Saturday.

 Saturday was when I'd lined up all my pitch sessions and mentor appointments, so I knew it would be a stressful day. But by making big strides to meet everyone on Thurs, and then taking it easy on Friday, I was rested and familiar with my surroundings, and so didn't feel too nervous about things all Saturday. Met some new folks there as well, and felt it was a very successful day overall!

   I wore my "Little Bo Peep in blue" /or/ "18th century shepherdess". Had to explain it to a lot of people, so it was clearly not as iconic as  the Tardis dress. (But it's still one of my favorites!) Didn't get as many picture/selfie requests with it, either, had to ask someone to take a pic, so I had one! ;-)
Also got a pic with sci-fi author Kathy Tyres!
 (My own camera had promptly died upon arriving, even though I'd put fresh batteries in before leaving home... so I only had my gift-kindle as a photo device, and it was slightly hard to selfie well with.)

   Sunday was wrap up and I was disappointed to see so many people heading out. It felt like I'd just started getting to know a lot of them!  Got some time to chat with folks who hadn't left yet, and spent another lazy day with a lot of conversing, which was great to catch up on.

   A big storm hit at home, and the following morning, Monday, the TV news showed the "duck boat drowning" near Branson, results of that unusually violent wind. Mary, who'd worked in Branson, was shocked by the news, and had met several of the local authorities who appeared and gave statements.
 Then we all loaded up and headed out, and it was a gray, cloud spotted day, which was nice for traveling. Mary got us to Springfield around noon, where my ride met me. We got a final pic of the 'troop', which Mary regretted not getting when we started out!

 But alls well that ends well, and I was really glad to get snuggled in my own bed again. (Although I had taken my pillow with me, to help ease sleeping in strange places, there's just nothing like my own bed!)

  At the end of the conference it was announced that Realm Makers will be in St. Louis again next year... so tell me, are you going to be there? :-) Let me know!


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fare Thee Well, Wherever You Fare! :-)

Well, it has come. 
   Tomorrow is departure day, and I'm... not ready. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that life never waits for me to be ready! 
   So we jump anyway.

#6costumes2months was great distraction from the jitters, and I did have 6 costumes... but one was axed because it wasn't coming together properly, and Abi-sis & Mom were adamant about "quality, not quantity!!!" 

    Then Abi and I hashed out how many days, and what to wear when, and she strongly presented that packing more then 4 costumes would be unnecessary and un-mindful of my fellow travelers... so it's only the best 4 that will be coming.
   Hope to give those a full, expansive showing over this coming week!!! 

   So, in spite of a super busy summer, crazy hectic week, lots of mid-progress going on here at the farm... I've wrapped things up as well as I can wrap them, and will set forth to do battle with new adventures, in the company of friends! 

Until we meet again... think of me! 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

So!!! Crunch time! With less than a full week to go til departure day, I've got a lot of sewing still to do! The costume line up is still a bit in flux, and as some of the staple outfits near completion the remaining time does affect decisions made on the less 'must have' ensembles.
   I think we've gone back and forth on several of these multiple times! That's a problem with having more fun ideas than you have days to wear them on at Realm Makers.

 However, one of the 'more simple' designs was definitely voted yes on, was a Belle outfit. I completed the bodice for it the other day
  I've worn it around a few times, to let it "wear in" to smoother shape... there may be a few tweaks needed still but it's good enough to be considered Done.

  Here's a shot of the side of the bodice.

So, all that remains is the skirt, since I whipped up the apron this afternoon. (No pic of that yet, sorry!), and got this pic. 
 In other news, Abi found her pieced quilt top, unearthed from some box where it had lain hidden for 2 years, since the move. She was pretty excited to see it again, so we hung it up in the window on top of the curtain, and the light shining through gives it a stained glass effect.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Faux Burgandian, now Old German, gown; update!

We've been hard at work on making progress... even though we've been blessed with some great visits from friends, which of course are always more than welcome! 😊

 That being said, I thought I'd just nab a short clip of what we've got so far.

 So there you have it!
    The addition of the faux-fur trim is really the thing that brings it to life.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Progress report: Silk is Slow Sewing. :-)

 We are hard at work on the Faux-Burgundian, though it begins to look like it'll be more of an "old German" gown... and it's slower going working with the slippier fabric.

  I have finished off the chemise for underneath it, which I used as a "muslin" and made the pattern-test first on that! It's turned out really nice, and lead the way so nicely... but the change in fabric has necessitated a few differences in getting this over-gown done.

  This is the basic shape laid out as we were sewing it together...
(Tip: paper under your pressure foot is a must! And a layer on top is even better, so keep the stuff from slipping into a wrinkly seam. We learn as we go! )

Many late nights have been involved, you can bet on that!!!

The "hand" is really gorgeous on this fabric, though. My very first foray into sewing with actual silk. (From Dharma Trading.)

   I've found that sometimes it's faster to just hand-stitch something rather than fight the slippery through the machine. So I'm developing a technique for when to sandwich with paper and when to iron in place and stitch by hand!

In all, I'm really loving the look of the over-gown, and I think this is really going to come together nicely. But it is taking longer than I'd hoped... but new things often do!!!

  On the up side, we've figured out ways to re-use the piece multiple times, and will be having the sleeves as an "add one" piece instead of firmly attached. This will allow us to go with a lot of different looks while using this one main gown, and should help in the long run with our completion schedule!!
  #6costumes2months And we're already into our second month now!!!

So, as a wrap up on the previous post, with the embroidery question, the horse definitely won out on the votes!
   So we will be going with a horse on the other sleeve, (though I may change the look of that horse) And Perhaps, to keep the pattern from looking imbalanced, we should add a little more detail in other areas, so there's not this open scroll-work, and then pop, tight detail only in the middle.
        I'll be thinking about that!

Many thanks for helping out by sharing your opinions, everyone! It really took a load off my already frazzled mind!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Foundation Layers: catch-up update. Chemise #3

So, with the cutting off of the excess sleeve from Chemise #1, I couldn't bear to let that ruffled edge be tossed. So I resolved to re-utilize them, and the thing that came to mind was to embroider on the odd, angle-y piece and make it look like an intentional insert.I think this will be super cute for the Shepherdess outfit, so I'll have to do some pondering there. The 18th c. was renowned for having very wide, exposing necklines... which I'm not interested in doing, so what to use instead, which will look "correct" with the rest of the outfit is a question.

 I cut a body somewhat similar to the original Chemise #1, but with a bit more roominess. Then I will attach the sleeves once I am certain their embroidery is done, and afterward I'll figure out what to do with the neck-line/collar area.

 If I end up with any sort of collar, etc, I may do some embroidery on that as well... but it's not decided yet.

I like the look of Elizabethan era "black work", or sometimes when done in red it's called "red work". But I don't like black or red all that well, so I resolved to make some "blue work". ;-) I drafted up the pattern by stages, applying the steps one at a time as I decided on them.

Of the two general styles of black-work, most is rather 'cross-hatch-y' and geometric, but there are examples that are more "scroll work-ish". I like that better, so went with that for my main pattern.
 Then I drew up the bees on honeycomb, the Belgian Tervuren heads, and the dancing kid goats, and put them in as I finished with their concepts.

I plopped the horse in the middle at the end, but now I'm reconsidering. Does it make the look "too busy"? I don't like how the horse turned out, and would be okay with tearing it back out if that was the best decision.
  On the one hand it would save having to make a matching one for the other sleeve, and slot that time toward something else!

   But I'm not sure the "un-horsed" sleeve looks quite "finished" yet, so I guess I can't decide whether the pattern needs more activity or to leave it alone at this stage.

Vote now! Which do you think?
  Left... or Right is better?
  I need to poll the audience!!!

Monday, May 21, 2018

High Forest Confrontation: Reindeer King snippet

  Since I referenced it in my post for Indie E-Con, I thought I'd share this snippet from my upcoming novel, Thaw: Reindeer King.

"A bellow erupted from the forest ahead. The sturdy forest horses froze in their tracks, and Hess took a firmer hold on the reins, expecting anything.
But Kai knew what was happening. He flapped his legs against his mount’s sides with no effect, so immediately afterward he bailed off and hit the ground running, every leap emanating fierce protectiveness.
Snapp and Snurr burst from the curve ahead at a dead gallop, and then Hess heard the snarl as a furry gray beast took the curve right on their tails. The canine’s body leaned nearly sideways for the turn, the flying paws digging deep in the snow and litter of the past year.
The reindeer bellowed half in anger, half in fear, and Kai let loose with a bellow of his own to warn any and all predators… that these two herbivores belonged strictly to him.
The reindeer bolted past Kai, then swung their heavy antlers in a sharp turn to circle up at their master’s back.
The pursuing pack let loose a cacophony of yips and swarmed down upon the beleaguered woodsman and his team. [...]
Kai swung his staff and connected solidly with a head, then reversed the blow to thump another set of ribs. [...]
The pack retreated, slinking backwards into a sullen ring of watchers, cautiously circling the travelers. They definitely wanted those reindeer.

Several leaned back on their haunches and howled, a long chilling wail that wavered and ached across the mountains. [...] 

The creatures went into another round of howling, and then one of the big ones tried to rush in and sink its teeth into a reindeer flank.
Kai was faster, and the opportunist met the flat power of the oak staff, chock against the base of the neck, breaking the spine.
The hunter didn’t even yelp. It just crumpled forward into a pile, plowing up the skiff of snow with its remaining momentum.
“NO!!!” the shout reverberated off the mountainsides and shook the snow out from the pines.
Hess and Tompte raised their heads to see a figure cloaked in hides barreling down the slope. The newcomer was clearly bipedal, but that was about all that could be told at first glance, with the very furry outerwear, it could have easily passed for a forest animal.
With an unnerving yell the apparition charged at them, straight through the pack of dogs, and lit into Kai with its own stout quarter staff, which had clearly come from these same, rough, mountains."

 I think we can all agree there's going to need to be lots of conflict resolution before these two are friends again!!! 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt 2018 - Stop #14

Okay! Well, Indie E-Con is barreling right up!!! *Gulp* (That arrived sooner than expected, time just flies around here!)
  (Isn't that a lovely graphic, by the way? What a luscious combination of blues/blue shades!)

   So, today's the day that all the presenters for the Indie E-Con (next week) are supposed to share a little about themselves on each other's blogs... so that's me, and that's also Miss Morgan Huneke!!!

   (Isn't she the cutest thing? The first time I saw her online, that's the thought that popped into my head. "Aw... she's so cute! And lovely hair..."
  [disclaimer]*I want to tack an addendum of apology on to this confession; in case she's the type that "just wants to breath fire", like the little dragon in Kingdom Chronicles, episode of Patch the Pirate.  My mom is super cute, and super Un-Stoppable, I know what it's like to be adorable and demand to be taken seriously... so for me the two are not at all exclusive!)

{By the way, I loved that Celtic skirling song in that episode! So good.) If you don't know what I'm referring to, do be encouraged to investigate further!)* [/disclaimer]

   Anyway, check out Morgan's About Me, (linked above) and all her books!

  It's all part of the Great Indie E-Con Scavenger Hunt, wherein you can win fancy prizes and have fun! (Details at end of post.) In case you're just joining in, it all starts at Kandi Wyatt's post. 

   Tricia Mingerink will be hosting me, so pop on over there to hear about my Top 5 influential books (more like Authors, since I can't contain myself on this subject) as well as a somewhat summation of  my Writing Themes. (Basically, why I write what I write, and what that kinda is!)

   Well, anyway, here's Morgan's Top Five books!

   5 Books/Series That Shaped Me As a Writer
 No author exists in a vacuum. There are influences everywhere. Our own lives, our families, our communities, the books we read. The books we read are enormously influential in shaping who we are as writers. If you are what you eat, you write what you read. Here are the top 5 books/series that shaped me as a writer.
 5.Elsie Dinsmore Series by Martha Finley
While Martha Finley tends to commit lots of literary sins, I love her writing style. The old-fashioned language is amazing, and it definitely influenced my own writing style, though it is more prominent in some books than in others.
 4.Little House: The Caroline Years by Maria D. Wilkes and Celia Wilkins
I debated which historical fiction to include on this list because there are so many, but these were my favorite as a kid, so they won. It doesn’t matter what story I’m writing, what genre, what time period, there is always an American history element. History is amazing, and I want everyone to get as excited about it as I do.
 3.The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Dungeons! If you were to ask me why I love throwing my characters in the dungeon, I would immediately point you here. It’s a fabulous book, and it permanently infused my imagination with dungeon love. I’ve yet to publish a book that does not feature imprisoning my characters in some way—The Experiment is the only one to feature a prison cell that is not in a literal dungeon.
 2.A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
This book was my introduction to science fiction, and one of those books that shaped my writer mind and imagination in a big way. It—along with The Giver by Lois Lowry—is a huge influence in my dystopian-esque writings, and it encourages me to weave in those political, faith-based themes that are prominent in my writing.
 1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
How could my all-time favorite series not make it onto this list? Read any of my books and you’ll find Narnia influence everywhere, whether it’s references (both explicit and obscure), big things like the premise of children having to save a fantasy world, and small things like the general flavor and feel of the book. I’ve had numerous books compared favorably to Narnia, and there is no greater compliment.

 Okay, on to the details of the hunt! Visit all these blog posts in order to collect the clues, and then use them to fill in the blanks on the statement-graphic above! (Kind of like hang-man, but hopefully no one will get hung with this one. )
   The clue for this post is:

Scavenger Hunt Giveaway Package:
Ace Carroway 2-Book Set
3 random ebooks from Indie e-Con authors
Cover Design by Alea Harper
Bookshelf Necklace donated by Rachel Rossano

(Please note that the Ace Carroway Paperbacks and the Bookshelf necklace are US only.)

#6costumes2months Short Cape

 I didn't feel brave enough to go with a full length cloak, but looking on Pinterest sparked the desire to have a mid-length cape to use.

   The Tudor-era style of wearing a short cape slung over only one shoulder always looks so dashing to me, so I hoped to create one that could go either way.

  I used a short plush polly, of a sort of "polar fleece" variety, but with enough nap to look like one of the velvet family.
  It's got some major stretch in it, which was not what I was aiming for, but so far I've not had any ill effects.
    I am a huge fan of making things reversible, and if we were going to trim this with the faux fur I wanted that to look nice on both sides. That proved to be a trick, something that I'm still not sure I have a great answer to.

Basically I just ended up wrestling with it until it succumbed to my will.

 But the collar is full fur on the underside, so if reversed it has a different look. (I like doing that!)
  It is possible that the front edges could use something to stabilize them, rescue from a tenancy to 'sag' courtesy of all that stretch I mentioned earlier.
  At this point the jury is out, so we'll wait and see. I can always add a heavy trim later (which would look fancy as well as add solidity.)

   Or I could run the faux fur up there as well, and hopefully I'd have a smoother time of it this time around, having busted through that wall once already.

 Although we took a photoshoot of it the instant it was "done"... (a la these pics) It still isn't really done.
 The lower trim isn't finished off at the front edge, because I'm still not decided on whether to run that up the front or not... and it needs a clasp or several to be fully functional.

 (I used straight pins to attach it to my bodice straps for this shoot. A practice I do not intend to make a habit of... those stab!)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

   If you're on Goodreads, would you mind stopping by and voting up my books on this list? The higher they are the more people will see them, and that's what Goodreads is all about!!
     As the author I'm not allowed to vote for them... though I've already voted for the books I have read and liked.

Foundation Layers: catch-up update. Chemise #2

  In the pursuit of chemise perfection, my second attempt was a "Squares" or actually Rectangles... which I call my "Viking style" (as per Pinterest. But I can't find my references at the moment!!)

The idea with this was to have a rectangles for the upper/shoulder area, and the sleeves, and then the lower part is fuller and gather on to the upper part rectangle.

   A pair of triangles go in the bottom of the sleeves, as gussets. This renders the sleeve attachment nice and roomy enough for ease of movement, in spite of a rather small overall armscye.

That worked out great, except that I miscalculated the needed shoulder width, so I had to have add smaller rectangles on the side, then the sleeves onto that.

 Also, I wasn't sure how to finish off the collar area, so it's still just an open seam at the top, with a slit down the front to make it wide enough for a head to go through.

 I like to wear my new garments a bit to make sure they feel all right... and this one has already made it into two photoshoots.

 One was for author friend Caitie (C. R.) Hedgcock visiting from England last month... we put a hastily concocted cravat on it to cover the unfinished collar, and used it under the boned "ladies waistcoat" we custom made for her while she was here.

 Caitie's look has the sleeve ends tucked in for a more polished appearance, whereas when Abi-sis and I did a shoot for my short cape (think Tudor style!) I opted to leave the ends open.
   In retrospect it seems that for me, the sleeve rectangles might have also been cut too short for my arms... so next time I might consider making all the upper rectangles longer.
    But it still works!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Foundation Layers: catch-up update. Chemise #1

So, I've been sort of holding the idea in my head for some time, of the "Just Do IT" nature concerning my "dream costumes"... and with RM being in St. Louis, etc. this past winter I started tentative steps forward. 

  Chemises are the base layer, and made of muslin which is a fairly "non-panicky fabric" for me, so I started there.

  Chemise #1:

 I tried a bit of contour in the body, with a simple ruffle neck line in a sort of scoop (which turned out to be a bit too open, for my proportions, so I'll have to see if this actually gets used for Realmies.)

 I've always loved super fluffy sleeves, (on other people, I've never been brave enough to try them myself) so I went with a really "angel wing" fullness in a sort of three quarter length.

   This turned out to be way too much poof for my figure, and I realized that for my first try I've overshot the mark.

  I undid the sleeve at the shoulder, cut the fullness down by about half, and re-sewed to the body. This resulted in the final sleeve, at right.

 I also found that the contour I had cut the body at was too tight at the waist for the rest of me to fit through (although it looked very nicely fitted once I got in, but only if I had help to struggle into it!)

   This was not acceptable... I needed more room to get in, as well as simply more room up top. So I sliced it up the front and added a panel for extra width. I did not want extra room in the neckline, so I pleated aggressively where it joined the neckline.

   This loosened it up all over quite a bit, but chemises are usually loose so that's par for the course.

 I had a vague idea of using this as a chemise for a Belle outfit, so as an added touch I stitched a heart, white on white, on top of the pleating. (You can barely see it, but it's the little details that make garments fun.)

  The sleeve pieces that remained were way too use-able to just discard...  (all that ruffling was still on them! That was hard work!)
   So, I put them aside to become sleeves in their own right on what turned out to be Chemise #3.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

#6costumes2months, Starting Post!

As I had hoped, prompting from a friend (thanks, Camilla!) has re-ignited my focus on this project! (So keep those pokes and prods coming, dear Reminders, whenever you feel I haven't reported in a while!)

   To start it off, I want to quickly outline some of the ideas that are on the board... these are not fully formed, and I reserve the right to swap out at any time for something else that strikes my fancy more, or looks easier. ;-)

  There must be a Tardis dress, some where, in some fashion. (Because I splurged on the fabric for it years ago, and have never gotten up my courage to actually cut into them!!!)

 There will be a Belle. (Because that look is simple, and fits right in with my go to color scheme anyway. I'm a blue-&-white sort of complexion!)

 And there will be what I'm calling a "faux-Burdundian" or what may turn out looking like an "old German" gown... fake-fur trim and all!  (Sketches on the right, above.)

 There is also planned to be a "Blue China Shepherdess", or "Little Bo-Peep" or  "18th Century Shepherdess", with side puff skirts over side hoops. (Because we have the perfect print for that, and the side hoops are addictingly fun!!!)

  I also wanted to do a "fem!Beast" or a "fem!Gaston" ... because I have a fawn skirt that reminds me of that era of breeches. So it seemed like low hanging fruit that oughtn't to be passed up. But we may end up just accessorizing it to be "fem!Huntsman" instead.  (Short Cape has been made, almost completed!)

  These I either have the fabric for, and need the impetus to cut into it; or I have parts already in my closet; or I've made pieces already, so that's a guarantee to use them.
   The remaining number of outfits are not nailed down yet, and I work best when there's built-in room to change my mind if something comes up.

  So... that's the line-up so far... and now I'll introduce the pieces that are already created. (Or started.)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

6 Costumes, 2 Months challenge; Accountability Request!

All right! So... in case anyone hadn't heard, I'm confirmed to attend Realm Makers this year, in July, in St. Louis! I'll be going up with friends, meeting more friends, making new friends, and rooming with friends... so for this INFJ there's going to be a whole lot of "EXTRA-verting" going on.
 (It'll be exhausting, I know it! But afterward, sooo many great memories, am I right? )

To bolster me through this Big Thing, I've resolved to have awesome (or at least slightly awesome) garb to wear each and every day of it. (Because it's easier to be brave when wearing a great costume!)

 So... that means I've got to make all the things (or at least 6 days worth of them!)

  I've had a list of "dream wear" for decades, but I never actually get them made. (Or in some cases, the fabric even snipped! Though I do have it, in some cases. {Tardis dress, hello. Yes, I see you. Yes, I'm sorry...})

  So, this will be my "reason to Just Do It",  (a la here, if you haven't seen that Shia LaBeouf motivational clip, go see it!!! Hilarious... and true.)

 So in order to make sure I follow through I am asking for public accountability. Internet counts, right? ;-)

   Spring/summer is a busy season on any farm or ranch, and with us still getting the place 'on it's feet' it's even more hectic. I really want to find the time, though, and this will force me to get creative and strain every minute into usefulness, if I'm properly motivated.

  So, I'm going to use this blog to make updates on my projects, (hashtag "6costumes2months") and spread the word! (FB, Twitter...) I know a lot of you great people will be too busy to comment, like or in other ways spur me on at each and every step, but I figure if I collect a big enough group together then it'll guarantee that someone is "watching" at all times, and my progress updates will receive the rewarding encouragement, my "non-progress" will receive pestery prods.
 And all of this will move us as a group in the right direction, toward the accomplishing of this goal.

 I have until July.

   Are you with me?
Let me know on FB, Twitter, or however you'd like to stay in touch, that you're up for the team of Reminders!!! :-)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Camp NaNo wrap-up: + #6costumes2months Intro!

Made it through another 30k for Camp NaNo!!! Am really glad to have that month over.  And it went fast, so that's good! But... cram packed and kind of stressed!

So... new problems to conquer!! This month I plan to do my usual 20k word count, hopefully do a lot of author presence upkeep stuff, and also I need to start on #6costumes2months My online accountability project to complete FULLY at least 6 costumes to wear to #RealmMakers in July.
So... who wants to keep me accountable to my sewing goals with that???  
    Let me know!!

Or maybe I should put it this way:
 "Want to be nosy for a purpose? Pester me for my own good? Be in on the sewing of fun costumes, which I need people to pester me about, so I complete them?
Let me know!!!   "

Monday, April 23, 2018

Review: Story Peddler, by Lindsay A. Franklin

 Over all, one of the best books I've read in the past year, I think!

 The Story Peddler is a sumptuously presented book, from its gorgeous, gorgeous cover, to it's detailed interior formatting, it is a visual delight.
The publishing house did a great job with packaging.

  The concept of stories that become colorful strands and then can be seen and stand apart from the teller, is a unique plot device.

  Unfortunately, the Main Character didn't click with me at all at first. I failed to relate to the (what seemed "wanderlust/star-struck") girl who preferred to be treated terribly by the miserly, 'master storyteller', while chronically failing to live up to the teacher's expectations; roaming about a kingdom where everyone is so poor because the taxes are oppressive.
  Contrast that life choice with the 'secure' option to be a farmer's wife, with a boy she's known forever and who loves her desperately... however, this too struck a wrong note with me. Her love interest is too poor to pay for ale he drinks on credit, but also avows that they'd be totally financially secure ("I'd take care of you!") if only the MC would give up the road and marry him.

   Again, those blighted taxes are to blame.

  As someone who has dabbled in brewing one's one refreshing beverages, (it is not that hard!) one wonders why this poverty stricken swain darkens the door of a tavern when he's so penny-pinched, and hard at work dreaming of a financially secure married life.

 I realize that this is "stock plot syndrome"... there must be a "odious farm" as an option; oppressive taxes are long since cliche; and there must be a tavern in which to "exposition", guzzle a pint, and order a stew, (in reality, if times are hard, and if one has local friends, one drops in on them for dinner and does not pay commercial prices!   )

    Since the MC longs for the palace, of course she'll turn out to be a long lost princess, or something, and marry the prince.
     So... as a long and embittered veteran of the fantasy genre (don't get me wrong, I love fantasy,   just sometimes "new" would be nice,)  I was feeling a bit jaded only a few chapters in.

   But that cover is really pretty!  

Once she got with the actual main side characters, things started heating up. I liked the novel twist on the requisite hiding place, and the ‘band if misfits’ were well drawn and likable.
Franklin did a good job with her artist’s ‘abilities’, and the dark side to their use was an unexpected twist. Kudos to the author on that... and the resulting ‘story thread’ (if you’ll pardon the pun!) which leads into book  2 is deeply compelling. I must say, I want to read book 2 now, more desperately than I felt about book 1 the whole time! If done right, I could see this series escalating nicely into a “must read” and a “can’t put it down” experience.

The ‘one in the dark’ was a good touch, and I heartily approve of those sort of plot devices. They are not used nearly enough in storytelling, I maintain, and they are very satisfactory threads to see weave back in once the reader has reached the ending.

What elements of “romance” woven here, were respectfully handled with a realistic measuring and lots of confusion, and relatable awkwardness. Nicely done! Real life love interests are about like that, and this can be really fresh and new as well as enjoyable when handled right.

The tension only grows as the story progresses, and I can see the suspense continuing throughout the series... while still avoiding the over-used cliché of triangles.
Congrats to the author on that, as well!!

   In short, this is a very unique, fun tale that while it got off to a rocky start with me, definitely grew on me and the characters and their world came alive as the book progressed. I would dearly love to know what happens to them next, and how they all react to it!!!
   Tanwen turned out to be a likable protagonist after all, and not as “trope-ish” as my ‘plot-convenience’ suspicions instantly suspected.

I hope the author will continue in the way that she has started, and hold the lives of her characters in high regard... while danger is one thing, and very necessary for suspense, there is one character (you’ll know who I’m talking about as soon as you finish the book) who life should 100% BETTER BE SPARED. Or Else.
  So there.

In all, if you’re looking for a fun, fresh take on fantasy literature, I’d highly recommend the Story Peddler.

Blog Tour Schedule
-        Book Spotlight – Tabitha Caplinger
-        Review – Jane Maree Author
-        Review – E. Kaiser Writes-A-Blog

Wednesday, April 25th
-        Interview – Quills and Inkblotts
-        Interview – H.L. Burke Author

Thursday, April 26th
-        Review & Interview – Reality Reflected
-        Review – Lands Uncharted
-        Review –Scriblerians

Friday, April 27th
-        Review – Ralene Burke
-        Book Spotlight – Morgan L. Busse, Author

Saturday, April 28th
-        Interview – Liv K. Fisher
-        Review – C O Bonham
-        Visual Post – Jebraun Clifford
-        Review – Pages and Pekoe

Monday, April 30th
-        Book Spotlight – New Authors Fellowship
-        Interview – Unicorn Quester
-        Interview – Singh with Books

Tuesday, May 1st
-        Review – i am not a bookworm!
-        Review –Worthy2Read
-        Review – Lori’s Book Loft

Wednesday, May 2nd
-        Blog Tour Wrap-Up –  Unicorn Quester

Purchase Links

About the Author

Lindsay A. Franklin is an award-winning author, award-winning freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. She spends a lot of time in made-up worlds, and she’s passionate about sparking imagination through stories of infinite possibility. Her debut fantasy novel, The Story Peddler, releases in 2018. When she’s not exploring the fantastical, she’s exploring the Bible and encouraging young women through her devotional books (click here for more information on Adored).
Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her husband (master of the dad joke), their awesomely nerdy kids, two thunder pillows (AKA cats), and a stuffed wombat with his own Instagram following (@therealwombatman). You can find Lindsay on social media, too, if Wombatman hasn’t hijacked all her accounts. She’s @LinzyAFranklin on Instagram and Twitter, and she Facebooks at
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