Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Just as Sweet the Second Time Around

As you all know this was my second year vending at the Threads from Past to Present Textile Show in Batavia. Many women were repeat show-goers and I enjoyed seeing them again. I was especially grateful that so many readers who had purchased The Bunco Club last year stopped to tell me how much they had enjoyed it, and then picked up a copy of Book 2 in the series, Quilters of The Bunco Club.

In addition I met a whole new group of enthusiastic quilters and readers this year and had fun spending time with all of them. There were many requests for guild talks, library and book group talks. Nothing was nailed down as confirming these types of events typically have to go before a committee. I was especially excited when I was asked if I would be willing to travel to Georgia for a talk and within 20 minutes someone else asked if I would come to Florida! Of course you know what I said!

Here are my photos with commentary--hope you enjoy!

I've got to start out with a photo of my sister and me. Nolly helps me at most of my shows and I really don't know what I'd do without her help. We each bought a fun charm necklace from Chix that Stitch that Judy Levine created specifically for each of us with charms representing our favorite things. Mine, of course, has a sewing machine, thimble, scissors, and other quilty baubles.
With our brand-spankin' new Chix that Stitch necklaces 
Meet Linda, a creative photographer. I had a great chat with her. We decided to take our glasses off so there wouldn't be any hideous reflection from them!
My sister and I had a fun time when Anne visited my booth.

Onward to some highlights of the quilts in the show:
Artist Cindy Harper of Belvidere standing by her quilted creation titled, "The Willowy Being: A Reedus Salute." I loved meeting Cindy and discussing art and quilting with her. Her work blows me away and I'm toying with seeing if she'd be interested in doing an interview for my blog. Her raw edge applique is flawless. Cindy is definitely a fiber artist we should keep our eyes on.
Information card for above piece.

Some of the Vendors:
Beverly Anderson from Minooka sold impressive miniature quilts, penny rugs, and wall hangings. Talk about flawless -- her work is perfect!
Dear friend and fellow vendor Judy Levine owner of Chix That Stitch. It's always a pleasure to vend the same show with her.
A big shout out for the Quilts of Valor booth and the women who volunteer! For those who are not familiar with Quilts of Valor their mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. Check out the website to learn more and find out how you can help this VERY noble cause.
Sharon, owner of The Salvaged Heart Vintage Wares, purchased a copy of The Bunco Club. Take a look at her Facebook page or better yet visit her shop in Batavia where she sells unique recycled items, repainted furniture and handmade designs. One of a kind finds.
And finally...
The following was a very inspiring piece. Visitors to the show had an opportunity to view a traveling exhibit that features a depiction of the historical Route 66. The exhibit is appropriately 66 feet long and features nearly 50 pieces spanning from California to Illinois. This piece was hanging in a hallway and unfortunately in my filming I couldn't get enough distance to give this piece the justice it deserves. But if you missed seeing it in person, this snippet might give you an idea of what it was like.
Here are some photos of the individual quilts surrounding this amazing piece:

Thanks for visiting my blog and sharing this adventure with me!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ready for Batavia

The car is packed with boxes of books, a giant tub of quilts, artwork, note cards, quilty postcards, patterns and fabric...whew! Set up is this evening at The Threads from Past to Present Textile Show in Batavia, IL.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the Batavia Show holds a special place in my heart as it was the first event where I sold and signed my book last year. After being an artist for 40+ years and schlepping endless framed and fragile pieces of art (all various sizes) I remember thinking how much easier it was to set up a booth with some books. The back, and ONLY the back portion of my van held everything I needed for my first booth. ...Oh, silly me! One year later I have added so many items to coincide with my book, or I should say books, that I am easily rivaling my old artsy schlepping days! Take a look at the following photos of my car:

So hubby Bob and I will be off shortly to set up my booth. I'm an overachiever about my booth as I am about everything else. I can't help it...when you're an artistic/creative person (all you quilters can appreiate this) you just ooze being a fussy-pants. I must admit it gets exhausting at times. Thank God my hubster is also an artist and understands my quirkiness for visual perfection.

I'm looking forward to spending the three days with my sister and helper extraordinaire, Nolly.
If you're in the Chicagoland area and looking for something that will get your creative juices flowing, come out to Batavia and enjoy a wonderful quilt show for a good cause. I hope to see you there this weekend. ...Don't forget to stop by my booth and say "Hi."

A parting shot of our cat Wrinkles trying to forestall my leaving by setting up house on one of my roller bags. When the boxes start to pile up in the dining room, he knows that Mom will be gone for a few days. ...Sorry buddy, I'll be home soon.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Oh, What A Week It's Been!

First Things First 

Old Dog, New Tricks ... that'd be me!

You all know that a little over a week ago I participated in a Kindle Countdown Deal with The Bunco Club. Discounting my book was a decision that I had a difficult time making, but one that I was ultimately happy to have made. It was fun watching my sales and rank climb, and I think I did fairly well considering I had NO IDEA how to market the Big Event. By the end of the third day I had finally figured the ins-and-outs of how to spread the word to a wide audience without continually posting on my Facebook page.

Those three days were adrenaline filled as I learned so many new things...I became the personification of the old dog that is still learning so many new tricks and enjoying the heck out of the experience! This late in life journey has been fun, fun, fun for me!

By the end of the third day on Monday, the 99¢ sale was coming to an end and heading into the $1.99 portion of the sale. A series of severe storms (which later were identified as F1 tornadoes) plowed through the Chicago area and hundreds of thousand of people lost power, cable, phone, and Internet--my hubby and I were among them. It was seven days before our services were fully restored...sadly, I lost the last two and a half days of promoting my book sale due to no Internet! But I'm still happy I did the promotion--I got many new readers, and several new people "Liked" my Facebook Author Page. Win. Win.

Book 3:
I've been making good progress on Book 3. I have about a quarter of the rough draft finished. There's still a long way to go but I'm on a roll! FYI: Book three will feature Marge, The Sarge, and Beth, The Hoarder. I also JUST got an idea for the cover of number 3...pretty excited! Stay tuned...    

Emails and Reviews from Readers:
I am thankful and humble to enjoy emails, Facebook messages, and even phone calls almost daily from readers who have enjoyed my books. I can't even begin to put into words the encouragement these communiques bring me. As an author, it's immensely helpful to receive feedback both personally or posted on Amazon, and I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to write. Amazon reviews are particularly helpful for readers that are considering buying a book. I always ask my readers that if they are comfortable posting a 4 or 5 start review on Amazon to please do so.

Gearing Up for Batavia: 
A week from tomorrow, Thursday, July 17, is setup day for the Threads from Past to Present Quilt Show in Batavia. I'm eager to return to Batavia as a vendor again this year. In 2013, only three months after  The Bunco Club was released, the Batavia show was the first quilt show in which I ever participated. 

One year later I'm heading back to Batavia with many new quilty items for sale...the most important being Quilters of The Bunco Club: Phree & Rosa, Book 2 in The Bunco Club Series. In addition, visitors to my booth will have the option of purchasing a quilt pattern with fabric that I designed, several styles of note cards designed from my artwork, and quilted postcards that I made.

Rocking Horse Baby Quilt or Wall Hanging
New crop of note cards
Quilty Postcards

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Storms and Power Outages ...Oh My!

I'll keep this short since I'm blogging from my phone ... something else I've never done!
Two F1 storms (derrachios) roared through my area of Chicago Monday evening and left thousands without power and internet. There was a lot of storm damage but thankfully no loss of life that I am aware of. Power was restored to our hood last night after two days but I still have no idea when my Internet will be up and running.  Hence ... this phone update.
Just wanted to check in with everyone who follows my blog and let you know I'm thinking of all of you. I've included some photos of storm damage in my area.
Have a happy and safe July 4th.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Never Say Never

Never. That one word comes back to haunt us sometimes, doesn't it?

In April of 2013, when I became an Indie Author, and published my first book I stoically, stubbornly, naively (plug in whichever word works best for you because they are all correct) stated, "I'll never sell my book at a discount."

This is where the 'Never Say Never' part comes in.

After close to a year and a half of healthy vigorous sales for The Bunco Club, the second book in the series released and the third partially in the computer, and having more darn fun than I ever could have imagined, I've learned a few things about independently publishing a book.

No, I wouldn't have done anything different.
Self publishing was 100% the right choice for me. But in order for Amazon to sit up and take notice, it has become almost essential to discount or give away my book at some point. If Amazon sees fast numbers...then they will look at the author. So in an attempt to boost my numbers in a short period of time--I've made the decision to discount the Kindle Edition of my first book.
NOTE: The discount does NOT apply to the paperback or the audio versions.

So while I'm a little apprehensive, I'm also very excited. I love the fact that at my age I've been able to achieve this wonderful dream of writing books and actively making decisions that affect their potential success.

Wish me luck and hope that Amazon doesn't bury my title behind too many others =) At this point, I've already clicked the "publish" button and there's no turning back!

Click to see The Bunco Club Discount

The Bunco Club, the first book in The Bunco Club Series (women’s fiction) will be listed in Amazon's Kindle Countdown Deals starting today, Saturday, June 28.
It will cost 99¢ on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
On Tuesday, the price will go up to $1.99.
On Wednesday, the price will be $2.99.
On Thursday, July 3, The Bunco Club will return to its normal price of $5.99.

With the 3rd book slated to be out by late fall (fingers crossed) this is a good opportunity to start reading the popular series. 

It is VERY easy to give a Kindle book as a gift:
Awwww, come on, admit it ...  wouldn't it be nice (and inexpensive) to surprise someone with the 
Kindle Edition of The Bunco Club!  
When you get to the site, on the right-hand side of the screen you'll see the little green box below.
You can either buy for yourself or click the "Give as a Gift" Button. (You can also do both, but I think it would take separate transactions). I believe you need to know the email address of the person you want to give the book to.

Awwww, come on, wouldn't it be nice (and inexpensive) to surprise someone with the 
Kindle Edition of The Bunco Club!  

Don't have a Kindle...no worries.  
The Kindle app is free and can quickly be downloaded to your Smart Phone, tablet, or computer.
BAM! Problem solved.

So for the next few days, please excuse my blatant and non-stop marketing attempts on the social media sites. ...I'm desperately trying to make this promotion work!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Rosemont Recap

The crowd was a little thin the first several hours of the show, but that was fine by me. As always the quilts displayed at the International Quilt Festival Chicago 2014 were exceptional and inspiring. They make me want to scurry home, start, and then actually finish projects on my personal wait list. I'll show several of my favorites from the show at the end of this blog, but first I want to give a big shout-out to a friend and quilter from my area (Chicago Southland) for having one of her quilts hanging in the show. Congratulations, Kathy Mathews--I'm so proud of you!
Kathy with her quilt, Irish in Chicago.  Kathy designed this quilt which contrasts the gray of the urban city with the green of the dyed Chicago River on St. Patrick's Day.
For More about Kathy, her fabulous quilts, and great sense of humor check out her blog: Kathy's Blog

Yes, I did my share of shopping and purchasing! You can't beat having hundreds of quilting and sewing related vendors under one roof.
There was a lot of wool and wool patterns being shown. In my opinion much more than in the past. While I love the wool projects, my MS has limited the use of my right hand and I can no longer do any type of hand work...so I'm sorry to say that I didn't spend much time perusing the wool booths. 
I also noticed, overwhelmingly so, that a good amount of the booths were showing what I would call darker fabrics. ...Not that there's anything wrong with that, it was just an observation. 
I bought my first 'modern pattern' and of course can't wait to work on it (along with everything else that found its way home with me).
Vendors, vendors everywhere!!

It doesn't look like much but most of this is just what I was looking for: Five 2 Yard pieces of batiks for a pattern I designed, a yummy giant cone of Aurifil, 12 pre-wound bobbins, one fat quarter, and 2 patterns.

The Modern pattern. So simple yet so perfectly intriguing.

Another pattern with teeny tiny pieces.

As much as the jewelry and other do-dads drew me to their booths, I managed to avoid any purchases along those lines. I had some time constraints, but was on a mission to find several specific items and I stuck to it!

This year the group of friends whom I usually go to the show with were unable to attend, so I went solo. I did however meet up with some of my favorite peeps from my quilt guild for lunch.

IMPROVEMENTS ON DRIVING THERE: All of you Chicagolanders and South Suburbanites will know what I'm talking about.
Warning--local drive-time talk:
The exit off of 294 North for Rosemont has always been the River Road / O'Hare Exit. This exit can be confusing at best and when under construction it can bring you to tears. 
Last year I almost (and I mean with a fraction of a second to spare) swerved back into the correct lane for the River Road Exit. Now mind you, I am not a wus about driving places and I have taken the River Road exit many many times, but heading to the 2013 Show while going at breakneck speed to keep up with the cars around me and the confusion of coned-off lanes for construction I avoided driving off to who-knows-where last year.
NEWSFLASH: Rosemont now has its own exit just before the dreaded O'Hare exit. it's Balmoral Avenue. Easy Peasy...two quick turns and I was in front of the convention center! ...All I can say is WOW! I wonder how long it will take before this friendly exit is made confusing by the people at the Tollway. Rant and whining over!

And Finally the QUILTS:
Enjoy this smattering of quilts from the exhibit.

Detail of above.

Detail of above.

Detail of above.

Sorry that this is so blurry. This was a wonder piece from a quilter in Japan. It was only about 12x16" but was so well done using hand-dyed micro-fused applique.


Detail of above.
Warhol-esque piece using fused applique: 64 different fabrics and 64 different threads

The man himself

While basking in the quilty glow of my visit to the Rosemont Festival yesterday, I'm already very much looking forward to next year's outing.
Hope you enjoyed