Sunday, April 23, 2017

What Writer's Learn in the First Year of Their Career - Or - Should That be Unlearn.

Photo Credit: KellysWritersHouse
The desire or need to write is a compelling force which most writer's will admit they do not understand. It simply - Is. When that compelling force meets the reality of plotting, characterization, word count, conflict, motivation, resolution, editing, submissions, and publishing, just to mention a few, the real learning begins.

In this first article in this blog series, we will get the inside scoop from the writer's themselves on what they learned in the first year of their writing journey. What they have to share will be valuable, pertinent, and true. It may even be the missing puzzle piece you've been looking for.

Over the next several days I'll be adding comments to this post from some talented writer's that you may already know. And if you have a thought to add to this discussion, we welcome your comments.

I'll start the discussion with my own perspective.

Author Lynda Coker:
I've written and published four books to date with The Wild Rose Press. The profound truth that I learned in my first year was that, in itself, the desire to write didn't equal word count, no word count meant no manuscript. Without a manuscript my dream of completing a book was just that, a dream. In my first year I had to learn to find the time, ways, and means to turn, I Want to Write into Have Written! It may seem fundamental and a no-brainer, but many writers will relate, I'm sure.

Author K.K. Weil: Website
I learned that sometimes you don't control your characters and you should always expect (and embrace) the unexpected. In my first book, one of the characters (who wasn't even in my original idea) came to life in such a way that I fell in love with him. He ended up needing his own story, of course. ;)

Author Jean M. Grant: Website
You are your strongest advocate. Promote and educate yourself. I’ve had to put on my extroverted cape of independence and reach out to everyone I know to get word out about my debut novel: attending conferences, talking it up on Twitter, connecting with other authors in my genres, and spending my paycheck in postage. I’m loving the support. It’s taken me nearly two decades to publish my first book, and over the next few years I hope to see several more in print! I’m in it for the long haul. Nothing will stop my dream. I will never stop learning.

Writer L. Ryan Storms: Website
Hire an editor or agent’s services to refine your query letter before sending. I didn’t do this and, as a result, I probably queried about 30 - 40 agents before I began to get anything other than form rejections in response. I wasted a lot of time and spent many hours revising and refining my letter until it was polished enough to elicit full manuscript requests. As a new writer, I thought I didn’t have the extra money to spend on a professional query review, but when I look back on it now, the cost in wasted time was so much higher.

Coming Soon: Author CB Clark

ICKY CHIC DESIGNS' 1st - Blink and You Lose Event

Update:  Well, like new events sometimes go, this one didn't end in success. But don't despair, Icky Chic will continue to offer our BLINK AND YOU LOSE offers. Our 1st event item (The Envelope Clutch below) was dropped to $8 dollars at 9 PM and then rose to $10, $13, $17, and finally, back to it's original price of $39 by 9:30 PM.


Shopping should be fun. And what's more fun than getting that once-in-a-lifetime deal on an item you'd love to have? Our first Blink and You Lose Event will be Sunday the 23rd from 9 - 9:30 PM CST. So what's our 1st Event Item? I'm so happy you asked...

EVENT ITEM: See additional photos and description here
Envelope Clutch
Original Price: $39 with $6.99 Shipping.
WHERE IS THE EVENT?  Icky Chic Design at Etsy
WHEN IS THE EVENT? April 23rd from 9 - 9:30 PM (Event will close if item sells before 9:30)

HOW THIS WORKS: At 9 PM CST this item's price will be ridiculously lowered - THEN - Every few minutes between 9 and 9:30 PM, the price will be raised. By 9:30 PM CST the item will have returned to it's original price. Whoever buys FIRST will secure this awesome deal! So you see...if you BLINK, YOU REALLY WILL LOSE...

Remember: Shipping charge does not change. Transaction will be completed through my Etsy Shop at Icky Chic Designs.

WHO will walk away with this fantastic deal? It could be YOU!

Want to be notified when our next BLINK AND YOU LOSE event will be? Why not subscribe to this blog by email. You'll find the sign-up box on the right side bar.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Lemons and Llamas with Author Nell Castle

My guest today is Author Nell Castle. Nell brought a yummy recipe for Lemon Tarts and a challenging writing prompt that will test your animal lore. 

Be sure to visit Nell's website and get to know this author who rewrites her friend's love stories that haven't ended well, bringing them to life with a breath of new hope and possibilities. Isn't that intriguing? I love happy endings!

Lemon Lore

What fruit is as versatile as the lemon? While its tart-sweet flavor makes it perfect for drinks and desserts, the lemon has tons of household purposes. Add it to your wash to brighten your whites--or dip your toothbrush in its juice to brighten your teeth (but watch out for your enamel!). Add a tablespoon to a cup of whole milk and you’ve got instant buttermilk. Sprinkle it over your kids’ sliced apples to prevent browning. Or try my favorite cleaning cheat: slice up some lemons in a bowl of water and pop it into the microwave for a minute and a half. Wipes off easily and smells great!

Recipe: Lemon Tart
Photo Credit: Liz West

Tart shell:
1 ¼ c. + 2T. Flour
1T + 1t. Sugar
⅛ t. Salt
8 T. cold unsalted butter
1 lg. egg yolk, beaten with 1T milk
Reserve 1 egg white, lightly beaten

4 eggs
1 ½ c. sugar
½ c. orange juice
3 T plus 1 t lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
¼ c. heavy cream

In food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse to the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Add egg yolk mixture, pulsing until the mixture starts banging around the bowl. Flatten into a disc, wrap, and chill for 1 hour.

Allow dough to warm up at room temperature for a bit, then roll out to fit into a 10 ½ inch tart pan. Trim dough and reserve. Freeze pan until firm.

Line the shell with foil and bake 20 minutes at 350. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and brush with the reserved egg white. Scraps can be used to patch any cracks from the baking process.

Assemble filling while the pastry bakes. Whisk ingredients together until smooth and transfer into a pourable container. On a cookie sheet, transfer pie shell to the oven. Slowly pour in filling as high as possible without overfilling.

Bake approximately 25 minutes, until filling is just barely set and still jiggly in the center. Check after 20 minutes and do not overbake.

Cool to room temperature before eating.

Llama Writing Prompt

Photo Credit: Pablo Trincado
One night in a dream, you wander through deep woods under a starless sky. Slivers of the full moon brighten the ground beneath your bare feet, leading you on a glittering path to the threshold of a tipi. Light glows through its leather walls, and smoke drifts up from an opening at the top. A long-haired shaman, his cheeks carved by age, eyes glowing like hot coals, holds back a flap and invites you inside. You take a seat on the dusty ground at the edge of the fire pit. Heat blisters your eyebrows as you stare into the blue heart of the fire. You know without being told what you’re looking for. You’ll find your spirit animal in this tent.

Gentle brown eyes blink at you from the fire, and ears twitch hesitantly from the top of its head. At first you mistake it for a deer, until its neck elongates. Its coat is thick, shaggy, soft. The llama steps around the coals and emerges from the pit, rolling its jaw slowly beneath its dark, velvety nose.

Your spirit animal is both a reflection of you and your spiritual guide. Write about the core traits of a llama as you understand them. Why might this animal choose you? What was your first reaction to seeing the llama emerge? Were you threatened? Disappointed? Pleased? What positive aspects of a llama do you see reflected in yourself? Do you share any negative qualities that might require work? What can you learn from the way the llama carries itself?

“Fun fact” about Nell: Nell will be visiting with a shaman in a sweat lodge in June and is feeling a little nervous about smoking tobacco from a peace pipe.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Spring Sewing Inspiration - Turn a Simple Tote Pattern into a Designer Handbag

You probably have a tote bag pattern in your stash somewhere, and if by chance you don't, why not use one of the many free patterns available online. Totes are easy to make, extremely versatile and, for our purpose, the simplicity is perfect for designing your own special look for your bag.

Back Panel

When I construct my totes, I design the front panel and the back panel differently. It's almost like having two bags in one.

Start designing your panels by choosing a variety of small fabric cuts along with some coordinated trim. These small fabric cuts will necessitate your creativity...piecing, arranging, or layering them to create a whole new piece of fabric for your bag - Truly an Original Design.

Try to create a different feel for both sides of your bag. In my example, one side has a Shabby Chic look, while the other side, is more traditional.

After you've designed both sides of your bag, put these together using your simple tote pattern instructions. You can make or purchase your handles. I like simple interior fabrics, but you can choose whatever feels right to you.

Dirk Savage never fails to acquire what he wants until he encounters 
Stormee Waters and a backwash of trouble

Friday, April 14, 2017

DIY Fabric Gift Tags...First Impressions Matter

This is a great scrap-busting project
Gift wrapping is so much fun. I love picking out bags, paper, tissue, ribbon, and then assembling all those things together to make a unique package that will excite the person receiving it. One thing I've found that really moves my friends and family is the handmade elements I add.

I just recently included a PDF Tutorial for these little lovelies in my Etsy Shop. I hope you'll check it out and maybe even make your own version of these fabric gift tags. They are a great way to use up those small scraps you've been hoarding for so long.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Quilting Supplies - Fabric Mystery Sets - What Can You Do With Them?

WHAT can you do with these Fabric Mystery Sets. Well, my guest today, Stacey Sharp, was kind enough to share her creations with all of us. Thank you so much, Stacey!

Stacy, why don't you introduce yourself to my readers and then I'll ask you a few questions.

Good morning everyone. I'm Stacy and I live in Cape Canaveral, Florida - although it would be more accurate to say that I live on an island off Florida that can only be accessed by crossing 2 bridges and a causeways. Just a tad off the beaten track...

How long have you been quilting/crazy quilting?
Only about 3 years. I'm constantly learning - I'm that person at Show and Tell who just keeps asking questions and poring over things and asking more questions.

What is your favorite part, piecing or hand embellishing? 
Planning the theme and layout is my favorite part. I'm so left brained that I'm still struggling with the 'crazy' part of the piecing, but once the embellishment part starts, I'm thrilled.

How were the fabric sets helpful in your project? 
Your fabrics were beautiful and wonderfully coordinated. I used all but one in making my blocks, and that one is going to be used in another smaller project that I already have planned. The embellishments work so well with the fabrics.

Were you satisfied with the variety of fabrics? 
The variety was wonderful- there were silkies and pretties and textures and patterns and bling oh my!

Would you purchase more of the fabric sets for future projects? 
In a heartbeat. You and my Paypal account are going to be buddies lol.

Complete details on these Mystery Fabric Sets can be found here.