Since my very first book came out in paperback, I've been a vendor at craft shows. Until last year, no one questioned that writing books was a "craft." After nine years of showing at one church craft show, I was told writing was NOT a craft and that I could no longer be a part.
AFTER NINE YEARS.
Of course, I disagreed. As an indie author, not only do I write my books, I format them (with a LOT of help from Mr. L). I art direct. I write the back cover copy, I format them for ebooks, and I do most of the promotion. Nobody can tell me that putting all that work into my end product (I do everything but print the books in my basement) isn't a handmade craft.
They allowed me back into the show.
My first "show" of the season is next week and I'm nervous. I'm going in through the back door. My friend, Eleanor (whom I met when I was a vendor at the local antiques arcade), "bought" one of the school rooms (she has a LOT of crafts (doll dresses, tree ornaments, table decorations) and it was cheaper for her to do that then just buy a lot of spaces. She's "subletting" the rest of the room to other vendors. Will the committee come and tell me I have to leave? We'll see.
Here's my schedule for this "craft show season." If you're in the Rochester, NY area, I'd love to meet you.
OCTOBER 15, 9 am - 3 pm St. Rita School Craft Sale, 1008 Maple Dr., Webster, NY 14580
NOVEMBER 19, 9 am - 3:30 pm The Churchmouse Bazaar, Gates Presbyterian Church, 1049 Wegman Road, Rochester, NY 14624
DECEMBER 10, 10am - 4 pm Greece Olympia School, 1139 Maiden Lane, Greece, NY 14615
I've already started packing up my books. Next up, making goody bags for everyone who makes a purchase (filled with my own and the Cozy Chicks bookmarks, postcards, and buttons). Then next Saturday, I'll pack up the boxes, tables, folding bookshelf, and be on my way. Wish me luck!
Can you imagine a world without calories? Nah, neither can I.
BUT ... can you also imagine how sad it would be to live in a world without dessert?
Just think, no cakes, no pies, no cookies, no pastries, no ice cream, no cheesecake, no fruit. It's enough to make you cry! Luckily, that's not the world we live in.
You can go to the grocery store or bakery and indulge yourself and/or your family, or you can take the satisfaction of making dessert yourself.
Recipes To Die For: A Victoria Square Cookbook can help. Katie Bonner, of the Victoria Square Mysteries, has put together a collection of recipes for breakfast, lunch, happy hour (in the form of signature drinks), and dinner -- but most enjoyably, for teatime and dessert.
Pies, cookies, cakes -- you name it, she's made them and collected recipes from friends and fellow merchants on Victoria Square to share with readers and friends.
So maybe just for this one day -- indulge yourself. Make something wonderful for your family. Katie is glad to lend a hand!
As a follow-up to Saturday's post, I thought I'd talk about my veggie garden.
Every year I plant a veggie garden. Some years we have good luck, some years ... not so much. This year Mr. L dislocated his shoulder, and so the veggie garden went in late (in mid-June). I bought plants at the garden center, stuck them in the dirt, and hoped for the best.
The tomatoes have gone absolutely bananas ... but they're only just starting to ripen. If we have a frost, they'll be toast. I bought two spindly pepper plants that did nothing until about a month ago--then they went bananas. Yesterday I picked 5 of them and there are still 5 or 6 small ones that may or may not get much bigger. I'll keep watching the weather and if it looks like a frost, I'll pick everything.
Meanwhile, it was time for Mr. L's recipe for ...
SAUSAGE-STUFFED GREEN PEPPERS Ingredients 4 medium peppers, with tops cut off and seeded 1 pound seasoned sausage, like Bob Evans hot, bulk, 1 pound roll 1 medium onion, chopped ½ tsp. oregano 1 cup mozzarella 2 cups (1 small jar) Traditional Italian Sauce
Blanch the pepper bottoms in boiling water for 4 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC, Gas Mark 6). Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, and then add the sausage and cook until well browned, stirring often to separate meat.
Stir the onion and oregano into the skillet and cook until the onion is tender. Now, stir in the cheese.
Arrange the pepper halves, cut-side up, in your baking tray. Spoon the sausage mixture into the pepper halves. Pour the sauce over the filled pepper halves. Halfway through baking, poke the peppers so any extra juice can leak out (makes for less soggy peppers).
Bake 40-45 minutes until the peppers are tender.
While this recipe is NOT in The Cozy Chicks Kitchen (after all, Mr. L isn't a Chick), there are lots of great recipes you can try. If you haven't given it a shot, maybe now is the time to do so!
And so it's National Homemade Cookie Day! Naturally, I WANT to participate, but then I looked in the mirror and saw the size of my butt and decided I would enjoy the day "virtually" instead of actually eating any cookies. That doesn't mean I can't enjoy it vicariously.
Like working on my Lotus Bay Cookbook. (No title for it yet.)
The real question is -- why work on a project that isn't likely to bring me any money and certainly not many people will buy or read it.
BECAUSE I WANT TO!
There, I said it.
I love cookbooks, and if it was feasible, I'd do a real one -- like Susan Branch's Heart of the Home, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. I can't draw/paint like she can, and adding color photos to an ebook is prohibitively expensive. (Did you know authors get charged per download of our books?) Anyway, it's a fun project and so I putter at it.
I puttered at Recipes To Die For: A Victoria Square Cookbook several years ago and, quite frankly, the sales suck. I'm lucky to sell 5 or 6 a month. But I'm really proud of that little cookbook. The trade paperback edition has little black-and-white clip-art illustrations, some of which were drawn by Mr. L, like the cow to the right. (In the book, the dialog balloon over Bossy's head says "Moo!")
In Recipes To Die For, I included an anecdote to go along with each of the recipes. Surprisingly enough, it was hard. I know the characters pretty well, but I wasn't as familiar with the lesser characters, and having to come up with ideas about their personalities was more difficult than I thought it would be.
My friend Ellery Adams suggested that I start the book with Signature Drinks. Now that was fun. I had to read the entire Mr. Boston Official Bartending Guide (Mr. L collects them and we have at least 4 different editions, some of them pretty old) to find the exact drinks that would go well with the characters' personalities. Conrad Stratton's favorite drink is the Corpse Reviver. (Yes, there really is such a drink!) And Mr. Collier, from Collier's Funeral Home, drinks Zombies (maybe in hopes of keeping those not-quite-dead away from his funeral parlor). See, there's lots of fun stuff stuffed into that little book, which is why it was fun to write.
Anyway, over the summer, I've been puttering on two cookbooks; one for Lotus Bay (and features food that you'd find in a B&B, because that's what Kathy intends to open), and the other for the Jeff Resnick series. That would be mostly Brenda's recipes. It wasn't something I planned, but I noticed that in my books, she make a LOT of soup, so it will feature more soup and dinner recipes.
Okay, so if you've read either of those series, what other recipes to do think Kathy and Brenda should include in their cookbooks?
P.S. I've made all the Booktown Recipes available to readers on my website. Go to the site, look under the Angelica's Recipes drop-down menu, and you can find them from every book in the series. Just click this link.
I've written before about how I like to make graphics. I think they're fun, and usually I do them to either celebrate a National Day of ... or to plug my own or somebody else's books. For instance: Today is National "Talk LIke A Pirate" Day, and I made a graphic for it for the Cozy Chicks.
I've made them for my friends, too.
And, of course, I've made them for myself.
My question to you is ... does seeing these kinds of graphics influence you? Would you be interested in any of the books because of the graphics. I sure hope the answer is yes, but even if it's no, I'll probably still make them because it's fun.
I can't draw. Mr. L laughs hysterically at my attempts, but that's because he CAN draw, and paint, and make funny cartoons, and makes exquisite maps. My creative gifts just don't fit into that category. But, I can put together a graphic using different elements. How many elements do you think there are in the Telenia graphic above? Would it surprise you to know there are 8 different things going on?
the title Meet Wren. Never Underestimate the power of a woman with a loom. the book cover the photo of the witch. the Tales of Telenia logo my website URL the black background
I find it fun to put all these elements together. And so I'll ask the question again: do these types of graphics influence you?
And here's a bonus graphic just because it amuses me. (Coming October 15th.)
I must be doing something REALLY wrong when it comes to my book trailer videos and uploading them to Youtube. After two years, the one for A Crafty Killing has EIGHT views. Book Clubbed has over 400, but most of them have less than 100.
One of my readers makes videos of her Dollar Tree hauls, which is how I got started watching them. There are literally HUNDREDS of Dollar Tree Haul videos out there and some of them get THOUSANDS of views. I didn't know this until I subscribed to one Lady's channel because she had a cooking video. (I LOVE cooking videos and watch a lot of them -- usually when I'm supposed to be writing.)
I try to get in and out of the Dollar Tree as fast as possible (because you can drop money like crazy for stuff you really don't need.) I mostly buy padded envelopes, cheaters, and batteries. When my Mum was alive, I'd buy her Ginger Snaps (if they had them--they go FAST. But then Wegmans started carrying them again, so now I can easily get MY ginger snap fix.)
So, what do you think the fascination is with the Dollar Tree?
P.S. If you want to see the Crafty Killing video (which Ellery Adams and I made together) click this link.
My friend Judy once told me, “Always let your mother buy you a present when she wants to – because one day she will be gone.” I wish I’d followed her advice a little more closely. But last week I decided to use a little of the money my mother left me (so far I hadn’t touched a penny) to buy myself a used Alphasmart keyboard.
These were developed to help kids learn to type, but were mostly used by writers. I used to have an Alphasmart but lost the cord to download and don’t know what happened to it. The new-to-me Alphasmart arrived over the weekend and it sure didn’t look used to me, despite the fact it’s probably six years old. (They don’t make them anymore.)
It’s just a keyboard. No Internet. Just to test it out, I wrote 900 words on a short story in about 20 minutes. (It doesn’t hurt if you already know what you want to write. Wish that would happen more often.)
By now I'm sure many of you know about Bookbub and other brook promotions websites and newsletters. By far, Bookbub is the BEST of them and for good reason. They work very hard trying to figure out what their customers want, and how best to deliver it.
What you may not know is that you can follow your favorite authors via Bookbub. Not only that -- but when they have a new book out, Boobkbub will jog your memory and send you an email telling you ABOUT said book.
As it happens, all my names are registered with Bookbub and I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE it if you would follow me. The thing is -- you can ALSO follow me on Amazon, who will do the same thing (send you a note when a new book comes out). It's a win-win situation for both authors and readers.
To make it easy for you to follow me, I've collected all the links. Please, pretty please, follow me on Bookbub and if you're a Kindle user, on Amazon!
My book, Tales of Telenia: STRANDED, is just one of 15 books you could win when you enter a #YoungAdultBack-To-School Book Giveaway. While you’re at it, why not read them on a brand new Amazon #Kindle Fire?
Don't read YA? Maybe your kids or grandkids do!
Enter by September 12th to win a wide selection of Young Adult e-books, a Kindle Fire, or both! Click here for more information on how to increase your odds of winning.Look for the follow-up email to confirm your entry. Good luck!
There's something very charming and special about pulling the paper cup off a muffin or a cupcake. I always feel a little thrill of anticipation, especially if the cupcake is delightfully decorated.
You can take just about every cake recipe on the planet and make it into a cupcake (or fairy cake, as they call them in the UK--and doesn't that sound enchanting. Wouldn't you just LOVE to eat a fairy cake? Makes you think of fireflies and magic, doesn't it?).
All you have to do is bake the cupcakes at the same temperature called for in the cake recipe, but reduce the baking time by 1/3 to 1/2 the cake's timing (usually 15-20 minutes). Insert a toothpick in the center of the cupcake. If it comes out clean, the cupcakes are done.
Here's my favorite spice cake recipe. Why not turn it into cupcakes?
Ingredients ¼ cup (115 grams) butter or ½ cup (1dL) shortening 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar ½ cup (1 dL) dark-brown sugar, packed 4 eggs ½ cup (1 dL) milk ½ cup (1 dL) molasses 2 ¼ cup (315 grams) all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons cinnamon ¼ teaspoon ground cloves ¼ teaspoon nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC, Gas Mark 4). Grease or put paper cups in muffin tins. Cream the butter or shortening and slowly add the two sugars, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then add the milk and molasses, beating thoroughly. In another bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients and add to the wet mixture, beating until well blended. Pour the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack.
Frost with your favorite cream cheese or butter cream frosting. Also tastes great with Maple or Caramel frosting.
Did you notice I'm putting ingredients into grams? I would like my recipes to work for readers and friends around the world. Is this helpful? Let me know -- because I'm working on two new cookbooks and want to make them as reader friendly as possible.
My sister-in-law and her husband lost their 18-year-old cat, Molly, last week. Sisti (as she calls herself) wasn't sure if she should even GET another cat because she worried it might outlive her. But her husband said, "Let's do it." And so here's my nephew, Dickens. Isn't he just adorable??? He's just 8 weeks old and has already stolen all our hearts.
A writers life is a lonely one. I work. A lot. Therefore, I don't have a lot of social time. I haven't spoken to my neighbor Amy in a week. The only people I really see are Mr. L and my brother. I've gone on several writing retreats this summer where I've just stayed in the house and not gone anywhere or spoken to anyone (except on the phone to Mr. L and my brother). My two local girlfriends both work day jobs. Not a lot of time for socializing. (I think it's been two years since we got together. Mostly we chat on Facebook.)
Mr. L goes out to lunch once a month with the guys he used to work with. (I worked with some of them, too.) Mind you, they'e been meeting for OVER TWENTY YEARS. When he comes home, I badger him. Who was there? What did you talk about? Mr. L clams up. "I didn't record the conversations."
If it weren't for the Internet, I don't know what I'd do. I'm lucky that I get to "talk" (okay, type) to the Chicks, to my BFF Jennifer, and many of my readers (mostly on Facebook), many of whom have become friends. (Hi, Amy, Linda, Pam, Geneva, and all the ladies and gents from Lorraine's Perpetual Tea Party.)
And then there's my Thursday morning meetings. (Except we didn't have one yesterday--we had to reschedule for today.) I also belong to another author group known as Storytellers Unlimited. Every week the three of us do a Google Hangout (which is like Skype) and we talk, face-to-face, about BUSINESS.
I can't tell you how much I look forward to these meetings because I get to TALK to someone other than my cats, husband, and brother. We usually meet for about two hours, and talk about our work, and what we'd like to accomplish as a group. One of the ideas we're currently tossing around is holding an event--a luncheon in Western New York for cozy readers. (Doesn't that sound like fun!) You'd think it would be easy to plan such an event. Um...not so much. Inviting 100 friends for lunch is as big an event as putting on a wedding reception. Are we crazy to think about doing this? Maybe. (And be sure to let me know if you think this could be a fun event.)
There are all sorts of things to think about. Table decorations. Door prizes. The menu. The venue! Round tables of eight, or round tables of ten? Transportation. Will we need a microphone? Should we have a keynote speaker? What time of the year should we hold it? Can we find some volunteers to help stuff the goody bags? Should we hold a pizza party the night before for those coming from out of town? Yes--lots of decisions.
So, will we talk about that or our upcoming Winter Magic anthology? (We're on pins and needles waiting to see our cover.) Maybe we'll talk about Shirley's new car (which she picked up yesterday and why we had to reschedule our meeting). Maybe we'll talk about Kelly's cutie-pie granddaughter (she's babysitting her for the summer). Whatever we talk about--it'll be FUN.
The Cozy Chicks will be having a meeting at the end of the month. I'm really looking forward to that, too. We had such fun the last time we did it in January. I'm counting the days.
This summer has been a bust when it comes to junking. Sometimes we only find one or two yard sales. : (
Things didn't look hopeful when Mr. L announced there was only one sale; a bag sale at the local fire hall. They were weeding out the accumulated donations (and boy, where there a LOT of them) for their upcoming auction. The bag sale items were in boxes laid out on benches--maybe 100 or more boxes, and a couple of tables worth of stuff. Inside their rec hall was "the good stuff." The local grocery store donated a huge stack of paper bags, and it was every woman for herself!
Unlike most bag sales (which are usually a buck or two to fill a bag), this one had a tier system. $5 for the first hour, $4 for the next, and so on and so on. Five seemed a bit steep, but it didn't take me long to find some pretty cool stuff. Okay, I got some things like junky earrings (who ever heard of smores earrings?) that came with a pierced earring holder, a Christmas tree skirt, and some jigsaw puzzles, but they weren't the prizes.
First up, I found a couple of Haeger swan vases. Aren't they cute? I already have a couple of swan vases with the same kind of silky glaze, so when I saw these, I knew I had to have them. Like many of the items in the sale, these were donated by an antiques dealer and still had the price on them: $15.
I'm always on the lookout for bone china teacups to give as prizes on my Facebook group page (Lorraine's Perpetual Tea Party -- you can join if you'd like!) I was lucky and found three beauties.
This first one still had the dealers tag on it for $18. It's marked Hammersly, part of the Spode group. I love the shape of the cup. I don't think I have one like that--but I do have a lot of cups with roses on them, so this will be part of my catch-and-release program for one of my lucky readers.
This one is Royal Darwood and features the flowers associated with the Canadian Provinces. What you can see on the left side of the cup is the Prairie Crocus from Manitoba and in the center is the Prarie Lily from Saskatchewan.
This one is Royal Vale made by Ridgway Potteries Ltd.
Then I came to the animal section ... I am an absolute SUCKER for animal figurines. (Really, I have to fight it.) Here's a donkey who got separated from his manger. (He's about ten times bigger in this picture than in real life.)
I saw this little guy and grabbed it fast. It's not for me, but my neighbor, Ian, who is 7 years old. He's nutso-bananas for seals. He knows a lot more about seals than anybody else I know and he wants to be a marine biologist. I think he's going to make it, too. He's a wonderful little boy who is very generous with his hugs.
My mother-in-law had three ducks that looked like this (only nicer). When she went into the nursing home, my sister in law got them (as she should have), But now I have a duck that will remind me of my MIL. (Mr. L, too -- because those ducks were around since he was a kid.)
Look at this gorgeous glass compote. Honestly, do I EVER use anything like this? Not usually, but -- when I went to the public market, I bought bananas. Guess where they will end up? Yes! in this compote with a mountain of Redi wip on the top. (I've got too much on my plate to make homemade whipped cream.) I appreciate glassware a lot more since I read about Susan Branch's collection. (Someone gave her a banana holder as a wedding gift, and that got her started.)
This hand-painted sugar and creamer has a German company on the bottom. Will have to get our my magnifying glass so I can read the name and research them. They're not bone china, but they are pretty.
I got three of these ... ornamental thingys. I have no idea where they're going (yet), probably over a door, but I'll figure it out eventually. They're not old, as they're made of resin, but they look old.
And that was it. (Who could have thought you could GET this much stuff in a paper shopping bag?) As I paid the fireman, he said, "Now wasn't that worth $5?" I had to admit, he was right. Then he said, "Why not come back later?" I figured no way -- I mean, I'd already been through all the boxes, right?
Wrong. Mr. L took me to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants just down the road and on the way home, we stopped at the fire hall once again. By then (about 4 hours later) the boxes really had been emptied, and because the stuff had all been just shoved in, a lot of pretty things (some of them quite old) had been broken. But ... I still managed to find some more treasures.
I saw this Made In Japan couple the first time through and figured somebody would scoop them up. Nope. I looked carefully to make sure they hadn't been broken, and miraculously, they were still in pristine condition--not even a chip on them. They're going to live in my office at our cottage. Just think of how much joy they will have perpetually dancing away the hours while I work on my books and look out at the water when my muse deserts me.
This little etched glass is the sole survivor from a liqueur set. I don't think you could get more than a couple of tiny sips out of it. It stands about 2 inches high. I've tried to imagine my characters drinking out of it -- Angelica could pull it off, as could Katie or Kathy. (Anissa would NOT have the patience.)
I found another cup and saucer, but it's not bone china: it's ironstone. But as one of my FB friends said, she isn't a cup snob and I can't think of anybody who wouldn't want to drink tea out of this pretty cup.
There's no hallmark on the back of this sandwich plate, but I could see myself eating a piece of the zucchini bread I made (and froze) last week on it. What would you serve from it?
And because Mr. L and I are eating a lot of fresh salad (growing my own lettuce and herbs this summer), and it seems like we use less dishes so the dishwasher isn't running as often. So having another salad bowl would be handy. It's not old, but it is pretty. We already used it and made a BIG salad. Yum!
To fill up the bag, I tossed in all the lonely doilies, linen napkins, and hand-embroidered dresser scarfs that nobody wanted. I can't bear to think of the work that went into them being tossed away. It's a very sad thing that very few people today value the work that goes into hand-crafted items. That's why I still have a garage filled with things my Mum and Dad made because I can't sell them for pennies on the dollar.
Look at the sweet daffodil someone embroidered. And even more impressive is the lace/crochet/tatting (?) surround.
So that was my junking for the week (and probably the best of the year). I hope you liked the pictures. What do you look for when you junk?