Monday, February 27, 2012

The Side Project

I'm nearing the finish line on my current WIP, A Bride Sews With Love in Needles, CA, just about 6K more words to go. (YAY!) One of the key plot threads of the story is the sewing of a Red Cross Signature Quilt to raise money for the World War 1 Red Cross effort.

Pictured above is the inspiration for the story, a WW1 Red Cross Signature Quilt found at the Dodge County, MN Historical Society (Which is housed in a haunted church...isn't that...eerily cool?) My daughter and I discovered the quilt one hot summer afternoon while touring the museum, and I just knew I had to include the making of one in a story someday.

As the story idea developed, I found myself wondering what it would be like to put together a quilt like this. So I jumped in, bought fabric, and am now in the process of creating my own Red Cross Signature Quilt. Last night, I finished piecing all the blocks. (Which is why I forgot to schedule a blog post! I was so deep into red and white fabric, it totally skipped my mind!)

The next step in the process is to embroider signatures onto the blocks. But whose names? I tussled with how to go about this for some time. Unfortunately, the Red Cross now makes it rather difficult for an individual to fund-raise for them, (You have to get approval, fill out forms, jump through hoops, etc.) so following in my heroine's footsteps and selling signature space to friends and acquaintances and then donating the $$ to the Red Cross was out. Then I thought to put names of military veterans. But how? Trot down to the local V.F.W. and scare up some names? Put out a call for folks who had vets in their families?

Then I had the idea of putting on the names of WW1 veterans from Olmsted County (where I live.) A sort of memorial quilt. Yeah, I could do that! Then, when the quilt was finished, I could donate it to the Olmsted County Historical Society. So I trotted out to the county museum and library to get a list of county WW1 vets.

Alas and alack, the state of affairs in the OCHS archives is dreadful. They do not have a roster of WW1 vets. I perused newspaper clippings from the time and some WW1 scrapbooks, but while the eligible draftees from OC were listed, (about 8K names!) nowhere could I find a list of men who actually served.

So I checked the National Archives. And they have a list. But it would cost me about $135 to get it. Sigh.

Slightly daunted, but not willing to give up the fight yet, I headed to the MN State Capitol, St. Paul. There, in the Minnesota State Historical Library, I searched in vain for a list of Olmsted County WW1 veterans.

I decided to widen my search a bit. What about Dodge County, our neighboring county where I first got the inspiration to write the story?

Blessings upon the individuals who, in 1919, published a small book (complete with pictures where they could obtain them) of all 389 Dodge County WW1 veterans! This book includes the 14 young men who died in the War and the 2 young women who served as Red Cross nurses.

So, I'm armed with my list at last.

Now to figure out how to get 389 names evenly spread over 56 quilt blocks...

Question for you: Have you ever had your heroine work on a particular task, then decided to try it for yourself to see what it was like? Perhaps made a recipe or a sewing or knitting or painting project?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Celebrating with my amazing friend Georgiana Daniels, who recently sold her novel to Love Inspired! SQUEEE!!!!

In honor of this momentous and totally cool moment, here are 5 things I love about Georgiana.

1. She can pick out my "word of the novel" so quickly it makes my head spin. I always seem to choose a different word to overuse in each of my novels, and when G finds it, she starts out by highlighting it the first few times, then starts posting hilarious comments in the sidebar. :)

2. She is persistent through her doubts. In spite of how hard waiting and working without a definite time frame, she pressed on, and now her story will release in 2013.

3. She is a great mom. Her kids are so adorable, and she is so unselfish as she teaches them, takes them to their activities, and applauds their successes.

4. She knows the meaning of "Good times, good times!"

5. She lets me vent to her when things are going great, then encourages me to get back up on the horse and ride again.

Join me here in celebrating Georgiana's sale to Love Inspired!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Whimsy

Sadly, this cat probably knows more than I do about how the insides of a computer work. :)

Question: Are you a techy?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Outside The Comfort Zone

So this past week, I started reading a book I never thought I would like. I'm more of an historical romance or cozy mystery kinda gal. But I started reading A Game Of Thrones, a medieval fantasy of war and intrigue and betrayal. There are usurpers, giant wolves, jousting, castles, spies, direwolves, The Others, and a cast of thousands.

I'm so drawn into this story, I can't stop thinking about it. And the cool thing is, there are many more stories in the series.

So, have you ever picked up something out of your ordinary patter of reading and been captivated?

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is:

Signs that my daughter is becoming an adult.

1. All the mail that is arriving at the house addressed to her. Banking, tax papers, bills, etc.

2. That she has to give permission for me to see her financial information at college. And her grades.

3. She has a job, classes, teaching responsibilities, and friends that I don't know all about. She's thriving in her major, and she's planning the next steps in her life regarding her career.

4. She has taken control of her spiritual life and what she needs to nurture that. She has found a church in the Twin Cities that she attends regularly, has gotten involved with volunteering in the children's program, and in a Sunday School class.

5. She's balancing her spending and her working so well. When she wanted a gaming system, she worked extra hours to pay for it above and beyond what she's working to help pay for school.

As parents we spend the first 18-20 years of our kids' lives teaching them to be independent, responsible adults, but I'll have to admit, having a youngster spreading her wings is a bittersweet experience. I'm so proud of her, and yet, letting go is hard.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dreaming in Color

This last weekend I had an odd sensation of deja vu. I began writing a scene that I had seen in my head a hundred times over the past few months. A scene my whole book hinges on. A scene I had actually seen in my dreams.

What an odd feeling, to be walking through a scene I had dreamed about. The colors, the sounds, the smells, the textures.

Even odder, the emotions and feelings, the pain, the fear, the desires. All familiar, all lived through in my dreams.

Have you ever dreamed about a scene you later wrote?

In an aside, over on today, Tina R. has called upon some of her author friends to help her debunk some of those "Once I'm Published Everything Will Be Perfect" myths, and she's asked me to help. I hope you'll stop by and check it out. :)

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day tomorrow. :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is:

Five pieces of technology that have changed the way we live, and have all come into common use in my lifetime.

1. Computers. My dad bought a Tandy computer when I was a kid. It had a cassette drive, and we spent hours writing code for it, debugging the code we wrote, and sitting back amazed when our pages and pages of input code made the computer do something amazing like count to ten.

2. Cell phones. In the 80's came the cordless phone. It looked not unlike a Vietnam radio pack. Now we have more computing power in a smart phone than NASA had with the first Apollo Moonwalk.

3. Microwave oven. The first one my dad bought was about the size of a Volkswagen. He couldn't believe you could cook a corn dog in just :45 seconds, so he set the microwave for five minutes. Charred beef jerky dogs.

4. Flat Screen TV's. The first tv I can remember was a huge piece of furniture. Built into a console with a fake drawer underneath and speakers on the sides covered in maroon fabric and fake wood lattice. And we were cool. we had a remote control. With three. Count em. THREE buttons. Channel, Volume, and On/Off. Now we have LCD, LED, Plasma, Projection, Enormous tv's.

5. GPS. I LOVE my GPS unit. Plug in the address and it gives me turn-by-turn directions. No more trying to pick out the best route on my State Farm/Rand McNally atlas. No more driving around neighborhoods looking for a house.

So, what piece of technology that has been invented since you were born that has changed the way you live?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Monday, February 06, 2012

A new E-Book Initiative from Barbour

I'm so excited about a new development regarding Heartsong Romance titles from Barbour. Recently, Barbour sold the Heartsong Presents imprint to Harlequin Romance, which left the authors (and I'm sure the readers) with lots of questions about what would happen both to the backlist of Heartsong titles and the future of the line.

Good news! The line will continue under the direction of the staff at Harlequin as a direct to consumer book club publishing four titles per month.


Barbour is rebranding backlist Heartsong titles under the new series title TRULY YOURS and will be reissuing 24 titles per month as e-books! Covers and interiors will be freshened up to make them more e-book friendly, and a variety of newer releases and older titles will be offered each month, both contemporary and historical. Titles that haven't been available for many years will now be available wherever e-books are sold.

Each title will cost approximately $4.99, and there will be lots of promotional pricing and deals to be had as this new line launches.

Truly Yours ebooks will also be available to libraries too.

I'm so excited about these developments.  As a novice kindle owner, I can't wait to download some Truly Yours titles by some of my favorite authors.

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is:

Five things I LOATHE about a Presidential Election Year.

1. Political agenda commercials. They are way too frequent and way too untrustworthy.

2. Debates where no one answers any questions.

3. The fact that nobody can take a stand on any issue except that their opponent is a complete moron.

4. Phone calls from strangers asking my opinion on the candidates. (Trust me, they don't want to know.)

5. That politics divides us quicker than religion these days.

So, how do you feel about Presidential Election Years? I don't want to get into a Republican vs. Democrat debate here, or promote or denigrate any particular candidate. I just want to know how you feel about all the campaigning.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Wednesday Whimsy

I want to go here!

And FYI, this is real. It's the facade to the parking garage at the Kansas City Central Library.