The Afternoon Walk

I love to walk dirt roads. I love to drive dirt roads (though definitely not at this time of year).

This is a great time of year to shake off winter’s inertia, and today was perfect for that. The air was cool enough to make walking feel great. The quiet was so intense, I was startled to hear the trickle of water where a brook or rill had broken loose from its snowy chains.

In other words, it was
Ideal for web
And to make it even more special, look what I found dancing in the woods.
Eagle sculpture for web

Here There Be Boots

Now I’ll be the first one to admit that I have a VERY short commute from my house to my office, a building known around here as the CLB which has my office/studio on the top floor and my husband’s workshop on the bottom.
Boot parade for web
It’s about 56 steps, depending on the number of detours I have to make in order to avoid my dog’s many and artfully created “gifts.”

No big deal you say? Well, up here in the wilds of northern New England, everyone will tell you that selecting the right footware to fit the reality on the ground is something of an art form.

And having a wide selection of stuff to slide on or push your feet into is critically important especially during our transition times, the days when we slide (sometimes literally) from ice to mud to snow and back again.

This really hit home the other day when I realized I had used four different pairs of boots in a single day.

The temperature was barely above zero in the morning when I did my first cross-lawn commute and everything that had melted the day before was now a thin coat of ice. So the tall black boots with the blue Stabilicers strapped to their soles were key.

When the sun came out but it was still cold, the morning ice melted so I switched to my pull-on heavy boots because they really keep my tootsies cozy and they’ll tromp through just about anything.

By early afternoon, I didn’t need the heavy boots any longer so I switched to my winter slide-ins. An hour later, everything that was water-based had melted and a layer of squishy mud meant that the rubberized slides were now the best choice.

And my husband wonders why I need so much closet space.


Revision Is the Soul of Publishing

Every creative being revises. Does the soup need more salt? Thyme?

Does this scarf go with this jacket? Does this fabric make this a better quilt? What happens if I move this plant from here to there?
TRU-2015 front cover only
If I change this word in this sentence here, does that make the story flow more smoothly?

One of the many benefits of independently publishing my books is that I can change and revise as I see fit.

My thinking about the covers for my Carding novels has evolved a lot since I first publishing The Road Unsalted in May 2013. Back then, I was wedded to using quilts for the covers. But I’ve been reminded that when you change a medium (book-to-movie, quilt-to-book cover), you change the viewer’s perception.

While I love the quilt made for the cover of The Road Unsalted, I realized it had too many elements in it for a book that’s only 5 x 8 inches in size.

So I downsized, sort of, keeping that lovely yellow VW that Nancy Graham made for the original. And while experimenting with that, I scanned the black and white background from another piece of fabric in my stash and suddenly realized that the wavy effect is just what roads feel like this time of year, all bumpy and wiggly with frost heaves.

With Thieves of Fire charging up to the publishing gate, I figured it was a good time to revise the cover of The Road Unsalted and fix some of the little stuff that others have found in the text. I also changed the description of the quilt made by one of the characters so that it coincides with a quilt I’m working on for an upcoming quilt book that’s a companion to The Road Unsalted.

That one is called String Theory I: Quilts and Patterns for the Parkinson’s Comfort Project. That one’s coming out in May.

Meet Chloe Cooper’s new quilt:
Chloe's quilt top-2015

The Proof Is In

The push to finish a book is exhausting.
TOF proof copy
I know it’s not as if making the last minute changes to a text are physically tiring like gardening all day or playing tennis.

But you’re so focused, so concentrated, trying to make sure that every detail is as right as you can make it that it squishes up your neurons.

After a few days of recovery, the memory of the exhaustion starts to disappear. I think it’s like recovering from birthing a baby. If that memory didn’t disappear, no woman would ever have more than one child.

Anyway, the UPS truck just showed up with the proof copy of Thieves of Fire.

It is such a cool feeling.

Now to order review copies. Thieves of Fire will be available to the public on May 19!!

Warmth, Comfort and Beauty

The Parkinson’s Comfort Project held its second annual Piecing for Parkinson’s Day on February 7.

The term “rousing success” doesn’t quite cover the wonderful turnout we had of kind, generous, creative, funny, skilled quilters who came to sew from Vermont and New Hampshire.

Not all of the projects that were started that day are complete but I wanted to show off some of the quilts donated to the Parkinson’s Comfort Project that day. So sit back and enjoy the Show and Tell!

2015-5016 quilt NLQG community service
Quilt pattern “Six of One” developed by Lynn Wheatley and Erma Hastings, quilt made by members of the Northern Lights Quilt Guild
2015-5019 quilt Susan Bellis for web
Quilt by Susan Bellis


2015-5020 quilt Lynn Bohi for web
Quilt by Lynn Bohi


2015-5023 quilt Cindy Moran for web
Quilt by Cindy Moran in “Six of One” pattern


2015-5024 quilt Jane Busky-PfP
Quilt by Jane Busky using quilt-as-you-go technique


2015-5027 quilt Bruce Leach for web
Quilt by Bruce Leach


Something Good to Read

If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. -Toni Morrison, novelist, editor, professor, Nobel laureate (b. 18 Feb 1931)
Norwich book sale 1 for web
Every reader has a unique sets of tastes in books. I like mystery novels with great characters and minimal violence. (Yeah, I know, it’s some sort of oxymoron to have a taste for books that have their genesis in violence but not want violence in them.) Louise Penny, Donna Leon, and Laurie King’s odes to Sherlock Holmes are great examples of this type of book.

There are gems of the 19th century that I read and re-read such as Jane Eyre, the Forsythe Saga, Age of Innocence, Middlemarch, and absolutely anything ever penned by Jane Austen.

I love well-written books about nature such as the Outermost House or Botany of Desire, PrairieErth and anything by Robert MacFarlane.

Generally speaking, I find fantasy novels too much alike but there are a handful I love such as Watership Down, all of Tolkien, the Gormenghast Trilogy, the seven Harry Potter books, and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell.

There are great nonfiction titles such as West with the Night, All the President’s Men, Anthony Lukas’s Nightmare, How the Irish Saved Civilization, and just about anything by Michael Lewis, Malcolm Gladwell, and Karen Armstrong.

My pronounced attachment to books is based on their authors’ ability to transport me into another realm whether it’s understanding the chicanery of Richard Nixon, journeying through Middle Earth or walking the still-wild places of Great Britain.

But if you gave me just a few words to explain what I really WANT from a book, it’s this: A collection of words that entertains, informs, makes me feel and think in a way that gives me the sense of being one with the author. And since my reading time is pretty much confined to just before I go to sleep at night, I don’t want anything that roils my dreams.

Hence my prohibition about too much violence in mystery novels.

In spite of the longish list I have here, I find this type of book somewhat difficult to find. Part of that is the fact that I write so I’ve become very picky about what I ingest when it comes to words.

Badly edited or badly produced books just set my teeth on edge.

This is part of the reason why I created my Carding, Vermont novels. I know there are other folks with similar reading tastes to mine so I wanted to add to the collection of (hopefully) good books to read on their bedside tables. I have a hunch that Toni Morrison has the same issue when it comes to what she reads which is why we all get to read Beloved.

Author of the Carding, Vermont novels, quilt books, and book publishing guides.