Should You Offer A Trade Paperback Through CreateSpace?

career indie author

career indie author introductionAs I write this, there are 13 books on the shelf behind me. All of them have my name on them. One of them is “Writers Gone Wild,” published by Penguin. The rest are other people’s works I edited and annotated for my Peschel Press through CreateSpace. Fourteen inches of paper that I wrote or transcribed, edited, proofed, and shepherded into production. When I’m gone, these books and their successors will be my legacy, on the shelves of readers, libraries that specialize in niche books, and The Library of Congress. They’ll exist about as long as anything will in this best of all possible worlds.

createspace peschel books

That’s not the only reason why you should offer a print edition of your works. In fact, I can’t think of a legitimate reason why you shouldn’t.

Except one: That you work isn’t good enough to put in print. Like the pulpmeisters of old, there’s a new breed of writers who publish disposable stories for $2.99. They’re like cups of coffee: buy one, drink it up, throw it away, buy another.

They might feel uncomfortable asking $12 or more for their scribbles, afraid that readers would feel cheated if they paid that much for an hour or two’s pleasure. It’s the flip side of the argument in the publishing community that holds that selling your ebooks for $2.99 devalues reading.

I won’t get into the argument except to note that publishers have always changed the price of books, according to their format (hardback, trade paperback, and pocket-sized books with pages so thin they could double for toilet paper) and how new they are.

If you feel uncomfortable offering a print version at a high price point, take comfort that book buyers who agree with you won’t pay that price either. You’re not running a con. Readers are savvy enough to check your book description, read the reviews, even check out an excerpt. If someone wants to pay $15.95 for a book you wrote in a week, who’s to say they shouldn’t? They might get just as much enjoyment from it as a book that took a decade to write.

With that out of the way, let’s get into the reasons why there should be a printed version of your book for sale:

1. You make more money per book. A $2.99 sale at 70 percent returns $2 to you. Depending on the price you set, you stand to earn more from a print sale. More money is better, right?

2. The return on investment (ROI) is high. Laying out a CreateSpace book is dead simple compared to creating an ebook that works across all platforms and devices. I make mine with Word 97 and an old version of PhotoShop using CreateSpace’s interior templates. You use the same cover as the ebook version (again using CreateSpace’s cover templates) and you don’t have to write the back cover copy as if you’re selling the book in stores (although you should).

Laying out a book in the 223B Casebook Series takes a week, but that’s an anthology which uses plenty of art (52 pieces in my latest volume). That’s a lot of work. A novel can be laid out in a day. There’s a learning curve, but if you’re already used to Word, putting in page numbers and dealing with headers or footers, you’re most of the way there.

3. It amortizes the cost of writing. Say writing a novel took two months. Creating the ebook version takes a day. Add another day or two to create the print version, plus more time for the audio version, and you’ve spread the cost of those two months over three products. This pays off the investment faster and after that it’s pure profit. What’s not to like?

4. It gives you something to sell. More outlets translates into more income and more visibility. My books can be found at three bookstores, including New York’s Mysterious Bookshop, and we average four appearances a year at local arts festivals.

5. It gives you authority and credibility. It’s validation. It displays your talents to potential publicity outlets such as newspapers, magazines, television and radio. If you deal in non-fiction or sell self-help advice or other services, it connects you to people who hire speakers for groups or convention, and gives you something to sell afterwards.

6. Some readers prefer printed books. To fans who see your titles on their shelves, it reminds them to visit your website for the latest news. Why disappoint them?

7. Amazon gets a stronger tool to market you. When the company discounts your ebook, it shows the size of the savings. With only the ebook version, the discount isn’t very big. If the paper version is available, it uses that price. Which looks better, a 10% discount ($2.99 to $2.70) or an 83% discount ($15.99 to $2.70)?

8. More passive sales. CreateSpace does offer sales to bookstores, but with a little more effort, you can get a higher return by making it available through Ingram Spark. Even if you attach a “no returns” policy, you allow bookstores everywhere a chance to order the book for favored customers. Since you’re in this for the long haul, the chance that people will request your book through their favorite retailer will rise. Why not let them?

9. Special gifts. In my research for the 223B Casebook Series, I uncovered a series of parodies written by a famous writer. We’re trying to get permission to publish this series, but if we can’t, we’re considering privately printing a numbered limited edition and giving them away. The existence of only 223 copies could make quite a splash in the Sherlockian world.

With so many advantages and few disadvantages, there’s really no reason not to offer a printed edition of your works.

Wedding NotQuilts (part 3)

notquilts

notquilts

For the last two weeks, we looked at the NotQuilts I’ve made for my family and friends. (part 1 and part 2). This week, we’ll finish with two wedding NotQuilts.

Skull NotQuilt

wedding notquilts skulls

This wedding NotQuilt was made on a deadline. I wanted to make the happy couple something that would be personal and unique and usable. Thus, the skull NotQuilt was born.

I knew they did not want a quilt that was traditional, nostalgic, looked like something that their grandmothers would make or their mothers would buy, old timey, or country. They were young and modern so gingham, florals, and bows are not on their radar.

They agreed that they liked black, white, gray, and maybe some color. Yellow was okay, as was purple. So I looked over the stash and, lo and behold, I had a ton of scrap that met those criteria.

This is why you save that scrap fabric leftover from making clothing. I had made surgical scrubs for family and friends, using McCall’s 3253. It’s an easy way to make a pull-on shirt without struggling with knits: they are essentially T-shirts. The gentlemen got manly patterns with skulls, graphic designs in black, gray, and white, geometrics; all kinds of things that weren’t floral or country. Much of this leftover fabric found its final home in this NotQuilt.

I purchased fabric for this NotQuilt as the stash did not disgorge enough cloth for a binding or a backing that met the color criteria. Luckily, Joann’s fabric has an extensive clearance counter and there it was: enough fabric in an irregular square pattern in shades of gray and black and even better: one piece was gray, black, and yellow, and the other was gray, black, and purple. There was enough fabric to do both the binding, the backing, and have some left over for the fashion surface and only $1 a yard, too. I bought it all.

I found a lightweight sheet blanket, which is the pale yellow bits. The sheet blanket was the weight I wanted, something thin as this particular NotQuilt was more ornamental, more of a bedspread.

wedding notquilts skulls

The sheet blanket was thin enough that, if you look carefully, you can see the pattern of the backing showing through. This is what gives the sheet blanket that mottled look.

This NotQuilt demanded a strict layout to control the busy craziness of the fabric. You would not think that white, gray, and black could look so chaotic.

First, I laid out the sheet blanket and pinned on the fabric backing and sewed it on. Then I got out my carpenter’s chalk box, found a yard stick and press-ganged Older Son. We stretched out the sheet blanket/fabric backing combination and laid it out, wrinkle free. With OS, I snapped a series of chalk lines giving myself a grid on the surface of the quilt. These are the stripes you see of irregular grey squares.

I pinned on the first set of inner vertical stripes of the irregular purple square fabric, carried the NotQuilt back downstairs to the sewing machine and sewed them on. Then I went back upstairs, pinned on the inner set of horizontal stripes (same fabric), carried the NotQuilt down the stairs and sewed those on.

I repeated the process, pinning and sewing the outer vertical and horizontal stripes of yellow irregular squares. This gives a grid of similar fabric, comprising four vertical and four horizontal stripes.

Because the NotQuilt base is a rectangle, some of the intersections give me squares and other stripe intersections give me blank rectangles. Think of a pie crust lattice work.

At that point, I stopped to rest and look over the stash. I then chose the center vertical strip of text and the center horizontal strip of chessboard. These are NOT contiguous pieces. Instead, I cut and sewed a series of rectangles covering the sheet blanket and overlapping slightly on the original vertical and horizontal grid.

skulls-notquilt-3

The next step was adding the remaining horizontal and vertical stripes, connecting one box with the next. I was careful to alternate fabrics, making them mirrors and opposites of each other. There is not a single random element in this surface, despite how it looks. Again, I cut rectangles to cover the blank areas only with a little overlap, folding and ironing down the raw edges.

Once I had the lattice work in place, I systematically filled in the blank squares, keeping all the fabric choices upright and mirroring each other, sometimes across the surface of the NotQuilt in the opposite corner. If you look closely, you will see diagonal lines of color extending from one corner to the other and other diagonal lines making giant diamonds on the fashion surface.

This wedding NotQuilt doesn’t have a separate border of rectangles as I continued the design of squares and rectangles right to the edge. I did do the four corners so that they filled out in a regular way to the edge; the picture is clearer than the words.

skulls-notquilt-4

Once I had the NotQuilt top finished, I bound off the edges with more of the purple irregular squares and the job was done.

I am very pleased with how this NotQuilt came out. Nephew R is an engineer and this is very regular, linear, and controlled even if it looks chaotic. The more you study the surface, the more matches and pairings of fabric you see.

This example is, so far, the most rigorously controlled of all the NotQuilts I have made. The color, other than the grid work of irregular square patterned fabric, comes from the few pieces of black patterned fabric. These fabrics worked well as their designs consisted of skulls, atoms, and TV sets. There are three separate skull patterned fabrics in this surface. It is very textural as there is not a single piece of solid fabric in the entire NotQuilt, front or back.

R and K said they had never seen anything like it and neither had anybody else.

Autumn NotQuilt

autumn-notquilt-1

This wedding NotQuilt was a gift for my brother-in-law and his husband. I struggled with this quilt and didn’t finish as quickly as I wanted too. I delivered it before their first wedding anniversary so it still counts as a wedding gift.

They wanted shades of oranges and brown. This was a real problem for me as I don’t normally use those colors. We had even less money to spare and I couldn’t find anything in the stash that made me happy. I kept putting the NotQuilt aside while I thought about what I wanted to see.

I had an acceptable background fabric, given to me in vast quantities, which I used as the backing and the structural grid. As with the skull NotQuilt, I laid the inside filling blanket out, pinned on the backing fabric and sewed it down. With OS, I measured and snapped chalk lines, sewing down an outer, intersecting set of lines and an inner frame that did NOT connect to the outer grid in any way. Both parts of the grid are made of the background fabric, a very busy orangey-red. I didn’t want to use this fabric as the binding, even though I had plenty of it. I don’t like having the binding blend into the backing fabric. They should be different, even if only in a single color.

Fortunately a neighbor came to my rescue. I had sewed down a few rectangles and the yellow shell squares, keeping to a regular pattern of bars of fabric connecting the inner frame with the outer frame. I hadn’t touched the center medallion. She said, ‘autumn colors! How pretty.’

That was what I needed to hear. Autumn colors! I love fall with the glorious leaves in every shade of red, orange, gold, yellow, and brown. The blockade was broken, and I was able to get back to work.

I hadn’t sewn down that many rectangles, so I didn’t need to rip off any. I dug through the stash and found all my autumn colors, even finding enough fabric to make a leafy binding. As with Starry Night and Skull, the rectangles of fabric are all mirrored and paired. I repeated the binding fabric in the rectangles in the inner frame and in the medallion.

The four yellow squares acted as an anchor, one in each corner of the grid and touching the corners of the center medallion frame. I proceeded to fill in the inner frame and the outer border frame with rectangles. When I sewed a rectangle, such as the brown birds on one side, I also sewed brown bird rectangles on the other three sides in corresponding locations.

The four outer corners were filled a rectangle at a time, overlapping like scales.

autumn-notquilt-2

The center medallion was much more random. I used irregular shapes, folding, ironing, and pinning them down as they seemed to want to go. There is very little pairing and mirroring of fabrics. As always, every piece of fabric that has an up and down orientation is sewn to run right side up. It makes it more controlled.

Unlike the skull NotQuilt, this example has solid fabric rectangles here and there, giving the eye something to rest on.

Both this NotQuilt and the skull have plenty of white. This NotQuilt has a limited palette yet it has far more color than the skull NotQuilt. Even so, the skull NotQuilt, with its palette of white, black, and gray, looks much more chaotic, even though it is much more controlled. I don’t believe that this is due to my few solid color rectangles. There aren’t enough of them for starters. It might be the strong contrast of the reddish orange outer frame and inner frame to the other fabrics.

This shows that you can’t tell from a description what the finished product will look like.

I think this one came out pretty well, all things considered, and they liked it, too.

Case Study: Patricia Cornwell and Neal Gabler

career indie author

career indie author introductionToday, we’ll be looking at two authors who found themselves in money trouble: Patricia Cornwell and Neal Gabler.

It is a truism to remember that persons who do one thing very well does not qualify them as experts on everything, especially when it comes to money. Mark Twain’s investments in a typography machine threw him into bankruptcy. Sir Walter Scott wrote himself into four strokes to pay off massive debts from his unwise investments in his publishing house. Even William Shakespeare resorted to moving across London’s Thames to avoid a tax bill of five shillings.

Even contemporary writers have to learn that money can be a stern taskmaster. Mystery novelist Patricia Cornwell had to learn the hard way that earning millions from penning best-sellers about her coroner-sleuth Kay Scarpetta could not protect her from profligate spending.

In 1999, “The New York Times” profiled Cornwell’s way with money. She received a $6,000 advance for her first book, “Postmortem” (1990) and $20,000 for her second. But her series exploded in popularity so that in 1996 alone she earned at least $17 million.

patricia cornwell neal gabler
This was a front page story in the “Sunday New York Times.” To be honest, there was not much happening in 1999.

To Cornwell, who grew up poor and worked at low-paying jobs such as police reporter and clerk, what appeared to be an unlimited bank account was a license to spend. She thought nothing of impulse-buying a $100,000 Mercedes, or $10,000 in jewelry. She built a staff of seven to help her, bought a home and land worth $3 million, and another $2 million on condos in the Cayman Islands and Hilton Head, S.C. If she needed to be in London to research her next Scarpetta, she dropped everything and flew over on the Concorde.

The energy that fueled her free-spending life and the long hours she put into her books also drove her personal and business relationships as well as a drinking habit. The pressure came to a head when, after a day of work accompanied by a pitcher of Bloody Marys and a couple glass of wine at dinner, she slammed her Mercedes into the back of a stalled van on the Pacific Coast Highway. The car flipped several times leaving her trapped in the wreckage.

The accident served as a wake-up call. For several years, Cornwell sought help for her mental problems. She learned that she was bipolar and subject to manic mood swings. She also put her finances in order by hiring money managers to exercise some restraint on her more extravagant purchases.

Many of us would wish for problems like Cornwell’s. Instead we’re faced with those like Neal Gabler. In the May 2016 issue of “The Atlantic,” the former movie critic and biographer of Walt Disney, Walter Winchell, and Edward Kennedy detailed a lifetime of terrible financial decisions that left his family in a hole so deep “we may never claw our way out of it.”

patricia cornwell neal gabler
“But he’s on TV! He must be rich!”

How did he get into trouble? By making bad decisions. By refusing to save in the good times and using debt to tide his family over in the bad times. By refusing to pay off his credit cards, diverting some of his income into interest payments. By using his 401(k) account to pay for a daughter’s wedding. By buying a house on the eastern end of Long Island, where prices start at a half-million for a 2-bedroom ranch.

Some of his decisions were not his fault. He tried to sell their Brooklyn co-op apartment when he had bought the house, but the co-op board rejected some of his buyers and he had to sell at a steep loss. His large book advance forced him to pay a hefty tax bill (although I wonder if he couldn’t arrange with his publisher to spread his advance over years to reduce his liability).

Although Gabler claimed responsibility for his financial decisions, he also was equally adept at blaming the economy for not growing his income “the way incomes used to grow in America” (for book writers and TV presenters?). He denied living “anywhere near a middle-class life” by the Commerce Department’s standard, which listed homeownership, a car for each adult, health security, a college education for each child, retirement security, and a family vacation each year. Judging by his essay, he might not have checked off the boxes for cars, retirement, and a family vacation, but who needs a car when the LIRR can take you to the city in 2.5 hours (a half-hour longer than by car, which they have), and one daughter went to Stanford / Harvard Med and the other to Emory and Texas (for her master’s) so she can be a licensed social worker? Doesn’t sound like any middle-class life I’ve lived.

The point is not to kick Neal Gabler, although that’s a lot of fun. His attempts to accept and evade responsibility, to be forthright about his flaws (he admits not talking to his wife about any of these issues; bet that was a fun conversation) and at the same time blame a system that was not supposed to be unfair, is awe-inspiring. High schools should use his essay to teach critical reading skills such as bullshit detection.

Instead, Gabler should stand as a model for how not to spend money. How you should get your partner involved in money discussions (assuming that they’re mature enough to handle it). To be aware that marketers are skilled at using weaknesses common to humanity — the desire for status, the need to be flattered, the shading of truth, the way it bends words so that “second mortgage” becomes a benign “line of credit” — to ensnare you in debt, to spend your future income for today’s purchases.

Think of your income this way: You have a limited lifespan. You can earn only so much money during that time, barring surprise successes. Make your purchase decisions knowing that you have to use that treasure to pay for everything. Do that, and you’ll already be smarter than Gabler.

Designing Notquilts (part 2)

notquilts

notquilts

Last week, we looked at some of the NotQuilts I’ve made for my family and friends. This week, we’ll look at more of them, so you can see how I evolved my techniques for designing NotQuilts.

night sky notquilt

Our bedspread of the Night Sky

This was the first one that I made that had a planned design. Our bedroom is designed for sleeping. It is painted in deep shades of blue with sparkly silver and gold stars. The rug is more deep shades of blue and green, and the drapes are heavy, lined, and backed by room-darkening shades. When I painted this room, long, long ago, Bill worked eves and had to sleep into the morning. The decorating scheme made the room dark, quiet, and relaxing. It reminds me of a night sky, full of stars.

I wanted that theme in the bedspread. I started with a king-size bedspread from the Goodwill bargain bin. The comforter had the drawback of having the center panel separated from the two side panels by heavy lines of piping. I am sure this was both a design element and a way to reinforce the seams required by a massively wide bedspread.

I unpicked the bedspread and ripped out the piping and the outer edge seams. I saved the heavy piping for a future project. The outer edge seams were ironed flat as were the parallel seams that had enclosed the piping. I sewed the side panels back to the center strip, overlapping them by about ½ inch. The raw edges were zigzagged on the front and back to force them flat. I was fairly sure that this bulky layer wouldn’t cause trouble when sewing down the patches and it didn’t. It isn’t noticeable unless you go looking for it.

Because this NotQuilt was so large, I needed to consider the corners. Square corners hang lower than a shaped corner. Dear Daughter’s pink NotQuilt came with rounded bottom edges and I liked that. The bottom corners on this bedspread hung too low, ensuring that I would step on them. I cut them off, making a sharp angle. This allowed the finished NotQuilt to hang very nicely on the bed.

designing notquilts

At the same Goodwill I found a new set of crib bumpers, a nice blue with stars and little squiggles. Like the king-sized bedspread, it was a dollar, so this was the only fabric I bought specifically for this NotQuilt. I love Goodwill.

I disassembled fabric from the crib bumpers, ripping every seam, washing the fabric, and ironing it flat. This fabric forms the frame separating the central medallion from the border of rectangles.

The back of this quilt was fabric I had bought 15 years ago when I had the mad idea that I was going to sew a complete matching nursery for Oldest Son when I was home on maternity leave. Naturally, they never got made and the fabric stayed in the stash until now. It took a long time to find a use for it. There’s not much call for a baby blanket motif of cute little sea creatures.

Fortunately, the background color is a nice deep blue and many of the sea creatures are starfish! If you don’t look carefully – and who looks at the backs of quilts? – the design disappears into the overall theme of stars.

night sky designing notquilts

After sewing on the backing fabric, I laid down the crib bumper fabric of blue with stars. I made a large rectangle frame that touched the top and bottom of the bedspread, and at the bottom edge, extended to the two sides. The navy blue fabric at the top corners and the bottom angled corners came from a set of sheets I had bought to make pillowcases. It fit the theme very well, I had a lot of it, and I eventually used it to make the binding as well.

I did NOT extend the blue squiggle stars to the sides at the top as I knew it wouldn’t look right when the bed was made. I designed the sides to allow the NotQuilt to cover the pillows and still look correct.

There are four squares of outer space fabric that extend from the center medallion into the blue squiggle stars. These squares were carefully placed so when they line up with the corners of the mattress and the pillows, the NotQuilt hangs evenly and neatly. They were sewed on last, as I had to pin them in place while the NotQuilt was on the bed.

night sky notquilt
The square is inside the yellow circle at center.

I sewed the medallion, overlapping all the starry fabric from my stash. After the medallion was done, I sewed down the tall, skinny rectangles to make the border. The idea was to give the illusion of skyscrapers against a night sky. Both in the medallion and in the border, I reused the same limited palette of starry fabrics over and over, spacing them out as looked best. The medallion is more regular than it first appears. Match up the fabric pieces and you can see that they are arranged with each other in pairs and sets of four. The border rectangles all have their corresponding partner on the far side, mirroring each other.

The binding was last, a very wide strip of repurposed bed sheet wrapped around the back and the front. I couldn’t manage to miter those damn corners nicely so I squared them off with much swearing and hand-sewing. This was particularly true of the angled corners at the bottom edge. The binding is cut on the grain, not the bias, but I haven’t had any problems with wear and tear. These were good, heavy percale sheets.

I have been very happy with this. Designing NotQuilts is not an exact science. I never quite know what the final result will be until the last patch is sewn down. This worked out beautifully. It cost almost nothing, it fits the theme of my bedroom, and it looks like I planned it all along.

Floral Comforter in shades of green

floral-notquilt-1

Designing NotQuilts like this one was a challenge. I had a king-size waterbed comforter that needed to be transformed. That made this NotQuilt far wider than it is tall. The comforter was suffering from all the problems of its dime-store kin: the awful plastic thread was breaking loose, the fabric was tearing in many tiny spots, and the batting was shredding and clumping.

The batting was the main problem, as the patching process would cover the other ones. I opened the edge seams and tried to pull the curled, clumped batting flat so I could sew it down into submission. This didn’t work as well as I hoped. When you look at the pictures, you can see that the NotQuilt isn’t as square on the edges as you would expect. The comforter fought me at every turn.

Looking back, I should have taken the outermost row of stitching as my edges, sewn around them and cut off the excess. Of course, if I had done that, the NotQuilt would be even more oddly sized than it is. Part of the reason the batting misbehaved so much was the plastic thread tearing out. If it had remained in place, holding the batting down, the finished NotQuilt would be smoother all over. The edges were a lost cause long ago as the batting there started clumping the second time it went into the washer.

I wanted green florals for the front as I had plenty of this fabric. The backing and binding also came from the stash as I wasn’t going to spend any money.

I didn’t have enough of anything for the backing. I ended up with the sea shell fabric as the center, the ugly brown sunflowers on three sides, and the rectangle sunflowers as the fourth side of the back, plus the binding. I cut very carefully, with no waste and still ran out of fabric. If you look closely, there is a rectangle of blue dotted cloth that fills in what would otherwise be a bare spot.

floral-notquilt-2

On the front of the NotQuilt, I sewed down the dark green floral square to act as a frame for the center medallion and the border. For some reason, the pieces of green were sewn separately rather than as single, long framing strips. I don’t remember why.

I tried to be much more systematic in laying out the green floral pieces. The cabbage cloth shows up very well because of its bright green color. You can see that they are spaced pretty evenly around the edge.

The fabric pieces are paired in sets like the cabbages, whether in the border rectangles or in the medallion center.

The real issue with this comforter was the lumpy the batting. The NotQuilt doesn’t lay as flat as it could and the unevenness made the sewing more of a challenge. When I finally bound off the edges, using the rectangle sunflowers, some of the bound edges are fat with batting and others don’t have any stuffing in them at all. Fortunately, the edges don’t provide warmth, just even, symmetrical sides. Binding can cover many sins and lumpy edges are one of them.

The colors have remained beautiful and bright because this NotQuilt rarely sees the light of day or a washing machine. These are the colors you want to see in a quilt; vivid, clear, and glorious.

Grandma’s NotQuilt, trees, floral, primarily green and blue

grandma-notquilt-1

This is the first NotQuilt I made as a gift and the first one that went outside of my household.

I made it for my mother. She had wanted a quilt from me for a long time. I wanted to stick with greens and blues in a floral motif as my mother is an avid gardener.

When I made this NotQuilt years and years ago, I was still not controlling the layout other than with the color scheme and themed fabric. I can see now that this is a weakness.

I purchased two pieces of cloth for this NotQuilt. The backing is a grassy meadow covered with tiny wildflowers. I also bought, as a unifying fabric, the trees against blue water. The binding was purchased standard quilt binding in green. I bought far more of the backing and green tree cloth than I needed and both of these fabrics have since shown up, in smaller and smaller pieces, in other NotQuilts.

Using up paid-for scrap fabric saves money. It isn’t nearly as much fun as going to the fabric store and buying something new and delicious but it also prevents one’s dear husband from saying upon seeing yet another bag from Joann’s, “You have twenty five bins of material already. Why do you need more?” This is why you should never let your spouse see the bag. Non-sewing people just don’t understand the allure of possibility in fresh, uncut yard goods.

Anyway, looking at the pictures of the NotQuilt now, I believe I was getting the idea of imposing order via fabric choices. Thus I used the green tree fabric (always right side up) all over the fashion surface of the NotQuilt, trying for an underlying design.

I started with a lightweight summer blanket in white and backed it with the grassy, flowery meadow cloth. I then sewed on the green trees all over the surface of the NotQuilt, including each of the four corners. After that, I filled in with whatever I thought my mother would like from my vast assortment of green floral scraps.

The whiteness of the blanket filler meant that I could use lighter weight, more sheer fabric and still have the colors be true. A blanket filler that has a color will force you to use heavier fabrics to prevent this bleed through and color change.

There is very little plan in this NotQuilt and it shows. If I were to remake this NotQuilt today, I would start with a solid green that coordinated with the binding. I’d lay out a grid. Then I would fill in the blank spaces with the florals.

This looks so random and busy. There are no solids at all. Only the fading brought on by time is controlling the surface.

But my mother likes it, and I was still learning.

NEXT WEEK: The third and final part of the NotQuilt story, featuring the Quilt From Hell!

notquilt from hell

See you then!

New post at Medium: “Publish Your First Draft”

Just wanted to stop by to point out that I put up a post at Medium with discusses recent podcasts at The Author Biz with Michael Anderle and T.J. Paul about their writing processes, which could be summarized as “Publish Your First Draft.” (Passive Guy linked to it as well).

first draft
Or, “Why bother editing and revising when these guys are making buckets of money?”

I had been curious about Medium as a publishing platform, and since I was also thinking about these writers, who are making money with their stories in spite of spelling errors, grammatical problems, and other crimes against the English language, I decided to post it there.

Medium was started by a couple of programmers responsible for Blogger. They were discouraged by Google’s unwillingness to improve the service, so they took their warm stock options and left to form Medium.

As a publishing platform, Medium is ultra friendly to beginners. You sign up with your Google / Facebook / Twitter / email accounts, click on Write a New Story, and you see this:

medium new story screen
Click to embiggen.

The key commands are at the bottom, and there are context-sensitive commands available as well.

Adding images are a breeze. Grab one off your desktop, drop it where you want it to go, and it uploads and appears. If you see a green border around the artwork, you can do things to manipulate it (otherwise, you’re in story mode).

No coding required.

There’s even an option where you can create a Publication. This lets you create a website with menus for each subject, and a workflow where people can contribute to it through you so you can edit the posts.

They even have an option to migrate your WordPress site over to it, and for a fee you can use your own URL and other features.

Don’t get me wrong; I like WordPress (coming from Blogger and Expression Engine, how could I not?). But despite its ease of use, it is still complex enough to discourage writers who didn’t grow up programming. To have a nice-looking website, you can use themes, but they still demand some tweaking to make them look a little more personal.

Medium doesn’t have much room for personality except in your writing and in the images you upload. But for ease of use, it’s fantastic.

So long as the site’s in business, that is, and that is it’s weakness. A writer interested in the long haul wants to own the website. If you have your site on Blogger or Blogspot (like Paperback Writer), chances are it’ll stay around as long as Google is up and running.

But if you’re just starting and don’t want to jump into your own website yet, Medium’s worth checking out.

Arthur Conan Doyle in World War I (part 2)

sherlock holmes parodies
Click on the cover to learn more about the book!
This is the second post reprinting biographical essays about Arthur Conan Doyle and World War I from “Sherlock Holmes Great War Parodies and Pastiches II: 1915-1919.”

Each year begins with a summary of Arthur Conan Doyle’s life during that year. They’re a little more detailed than a Wikipedia entry, but shorter than a book-length biography. I tried to strike a balance between getting in the highlights, and also the anecdotes that help to shape our understanding of the man.

Last week, we covered the years 1915 and 1916. This week, you’ll get two essays from 1917 and 1918, followed by 1919 and a parody from that year. This will cover his support for the British Army during World War I, the deaths of family members, and his public conversion to Spiritualism that will define the rest of his life.

Sherlock Holmes Great War Parodies and Pastiches II: 1914-1919” is available at all fine online book and ebook sellers, plus New York City’s Mysterious Bookshop (and soon at Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg).

Want to read more parodies and pastiches? The complete list can be found here.

1917

The war remained very much on Conan Doyle’s mind, as it did for everyone who had sons, husbands, and fathers in the fight. He worked on his history of the war and promoted his ideas for fighting it with anyone in power who would listen. Over breakfast with the newly installed prime minister, Lloyd George, he advocated outfitting soldiers with body armor, reasoning that if Bibles and papers can stop a bullet, why not plate? He was pleased that the new leader was “very keen” on the idea, and thought that the nation had “a vigorous virile hand” at the helm.

Now that he had declared himself a Spiritualist, he was free to campaign on its behalf. He addressed the London Spiritualist Alliance and defended physicist Oliver Lodge’s beliefs in “The Strand.” His support alarmed his sister, Ida, and the two exchanged letters in which he described an afterlife where “we carry on our wisdom, our knowledge, our art, literature, music, architecture, but all with a far wider sweep … What is there so dreadfully depressing in all this?”

By summer, Conan Doyle was exhausted enough to alarm his doctor, who advised that he quit the volunteers. Instead, he cancelled his war lectures, but kept up his Spiritualist speeches.

The Strand his last bow
The Strand magazine containing “His Last Bow.”
In September, “The Strand” declared that “Sherlock Holmes outwits a German spy.” Inside its pages was “His Last Bow: The War Service of Sherlock Holmes.” Through Holmes, Conan Doyle reassured Britain that although a bitter wind is blowing through England, “it’s God’s own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.” It was so important to get the message out that “His Last Bow” would come out the next month in a collection with only seven other stories.

On Oct. 25, he gave what he thought was the most important lecture of his life. “The New Revelation” was intended to align Spiritualism with the church. “It is the first attempt to show what the real meaning is of the modern spiritual movement,” he wrote his mother, “and it puts into the hands of the clergy such a weapon against Materialism, which is their real enemy, as they never had.” He was pleased with the response and predicted that “I seem to see a second Reformation coming in this country. The folk await a message, and the message is there.”

The war had been going on for more than three years and there was a desperate need for trained surgeons. As a fourth-year medical student, his son Kingsley qualified to be sent home to finish his studies. Reluctant to leave his comrades at the front line, he nevertheless obeyed orders. As the year ended, Conan Doyle, Kingsley, and Innes, along with the rest of the family gathered to celebrate Christmas. It would be the last one Conan Doyle would spend with his son.

Publications: Holmes in “The Strand”: “His Last Bow” (Sept.). Holmes: “His Last Bow” (Oct.). Other: “The British Campaign in France and Flanders, Vol. 2” (July).

1918

The new year began with Conan Doyle’s family still together from the holidays. Innes was on leave from the front, and Kingsley, detached from the army, was studying medicine in London. Conan Doyle helped celebrate the baptism of Innes’ second son with Kingsley standing as godfather. A few days later, Innes visited Buckingham Palace, where he was invested by the king as a Companion of St. Michael and St. George. At a celebration that evening, Conan Doyle watched as his brother wore for the first time his brigadier’s uniform. The next day, he would return to the front.

In the meantime, Conan Doyle continued work on his war history, finishing the 1917 volume by March. He also found the time to listen to the charming chatter of his young children—Denis was 9, Adrian 8 and Jean 6—to publish as sketches in “The Strand.” In late August, his Spiritualism lecture tour reached Southsea, where he had first set up as a practitioner all those years ago. He rested by swimming every day, including a time spent during a full gale “when I was the only bather, so I feel virtuous.”

There was also time for one last visit to the front. Invited by the Australian government to visit their troops, he spent four days among them and observed preparations for the attack on Germany’s Hindenburg line.

Back home, he received a couple of interesting letters from a stranger in Glasgow. During a séance, he was asked to tell Conan Doyle that “Oscar Honourin”—the ghost of his sister’s son with E.W. Hornung—would help him with his Spiritualism cause. While he wondered why the spirit would mispronounce his own last name, he added, “This is very remarkable, is it not?”

Throughout the war, Kingsley carried on in his father’s spirit. Again and again, his officers described his drive and cheerfulness under the most dangerous conditions. He survived numerous battles, and had returned safely to England. But in London, he and his sister Mary were struck down with the Spanish flu that was sweeping the world. While Conan Doyle prepared to lecture in Nottingham, he received a telegram: Kingsley was dying. He gave his lecture, and soon after heard that his son was dead. He was 25. Conan Doyle carried on with his scheduled talks. “Had I not been a Spiritualist,” he wrote later, “I could not have spoken that night. As it was, I was able to go straight on the platform and tell the meeting that I knew my son had survived the grave, and that there was no need to worry.”

conan doyle world war
“Conan Doyle Just After He Stated He Had Communicated With Son Killed in the War.”
From The Harrisburg Telegraph of April, 19, 1919.
The newspaper reported that “This photograph, just received in this country, was taken at the time Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made his announcement that he was certain he had communicated with his son who was killed in the war. With him is Lady Doyle. Talking with newspaper correspondents he produced documents which he asserted proved spiritual survival and communion.”

For Mary, who recovered from her illness, losing her sole sibling “was the greatest sorrow of my life, for we were so close.” All she had left of her family was her father, who was occupied with his writing, the war, Spiritualism, his new wife, and growing family. After his son’s burial, he wrote his brother, Innes, that “I have every hope of speedily being in touch again.” Ten days later, on Nov. 11, the war ended. To Conan Doyle, the bitter wind had swept the land, and the victory meant “Britain had not weakened. She was still the Britain of old.”
Publications: “The New Revelation” (April); “The British Campaign in France and Flanders, Vol. 3” (April); “Danger! and Other Stories” (Dec.).

Art on Chocolate 2016: Blame It On the Rain

When it comes to rain-shortened Arts on Chocolates, we’re two for two.

They came earlier this year. By 1 p.m. the clouds were building up, and a half-hour later the crowds were moving for their cars and high winds were snapping the sides of our canopy like boys’ towels in a high school locker room.

art on chocolate 2016
There were more vendors in Chocolate Town Square, where the musicians played.

Otherwise, it was a fun event. There were more vendors than last year, with many on the blocked-off part of Cocoa Avenue between the Community Building Lot and Chocolate Town Square. This made it easier for visitors to cross the street.

art on chocolate 2016
Family members popped in and out of the book, but I was determined to get one of me in there.

We were situated near our last spot, on a place overlooking the intersection with Chocolate Avenue. This mean at least half the visitors passed close enough to us to stop, take a cookie and a recipe, listen to our spiel and maybe even buy some books.

This year’s score: 11 books and 2 tote bags sold, and a lot of catalogs and flyers given away.

As I mentioned before, that’s the primary reason for doing these shows. Sure, it would be nice to sell out. We priced the books to sell — believe me, getting a copy of the 500-page “Secret Adversary” packed with goodies is a steal at that price — but we also want to spread the word. That we have a line of ebooks, that we’re local (“the only Hershey product not made of chocolate” became our throwaway joke), that these books make great gifts for fans of Sherlock / Christie / Sayers or (in the case of “Writers Gone Wild”) for lit grads or writers.

This time, we also got some repeat business. One woman showed up, said she hadn’t gotten around to reading the Punch book on her stack, but bought three Sherlock books!

And that’s part of the fun as well is getting to talk to readers about books and writing and listening to their stories. I just wish we had more time to hear them.

And because I took them, here are some scenes from the show (the Downtown Hershey group also has their roundup of photos).

I especially love this footage taken with a drone:

susquehanna woodturners club
Wood-working demonstrations were put on by the Susquehanna Woodturners Club.
From the Garden Hershey
Dear Daughter made sure to renew her sugar scrubs order with From the Garden.
Sprited Servers Brackney
I was amused by the bottle openers using recycled beer bottles from Spirited Servers.
art on chocolate 2016
High-contrast photos seems to be more in demand these days. There were four dealers at this time, each one selling a different range of subjects.
derry township police department
Derry Twp. police were on hand to direct traffic along West Chocolate Avenue.

Choosing a Filing System

career indie author

career indie author introduction
At first, the idea of having a file system seems ludicrous, maybe even pretentious. You’re writing short stories, maybe sketches. A couple of printed pages. Maybe keeping a notebook. Not much of a threat to your sanity, right?

A year of steady writing, however, and the situation has changed. You have a file cabinet, notebooks or binders containing your manuscripts. A computer with an external hard drive. A desk with a printer, scanner, Wi-Fi box, monitor, a cup for hot drinks and a cup with pens.

And books. Lots and lots of books.

How do you organize it? What do you keep and what do you throw away?

So let’s back out of dreamland and on to more practical considerations. Organizing your work does not need to cause trauma. Just foresight and a system.

filing system for authorsI would recommend “Getting Things Done.” David Allen devised a system that captures all the material, thoughts, notes, and emails, and helps you decide whether they are “actionable” (meaning they require some work on your part) or worth filing for later use. If the latter, you store them in a dedicated place until the end of the week, when you file them all.

If they’re actionable, you decide whether they can be accomplished in five minutes or longer. If the former, you perform the action. If not, then you need to break the item down into “Next Actions,” Allen’s term for a manageable part of the larger task.

With your work broken down like that, your day becomes a series of performing Next Actions so that at the end of the day, you’ll have a lot accomplished, and you’ll know where to pick up your work the next day.

There’s much more to the system, so I would recommend getting the book. I have read my copy several times; it is one of the few books that has several pages of notes in it so I can refresh my memory and get back on track.

1. Writing by File Folder

filing system
One of two drawers containing material for “Writers Gone Wild,” including proposed designs for the pages that were not used. (Click to embiggen)
The backbone of Allen’s “Getting Things Done” system is the A-Z folder system. He recommends using just 26 folders, with the option to break out material if they all belong to a single project. Apart from that, you don’t want to go beyond A-to-Z. If you use lots of subfolders, it becomes easy to lose track of where important material went. Keep it simple as you can.

This also applies to a technique I call “Writing by File Folder.” I have a lot of ideas for stories and books. More than I can use in a single lifetime. They can be great nuisances at times. I can be in the middle of a novel, and realize that a character can be broken off into a series. In my spare time, I may come up with several story ideas about that character, each of them demanding that they be written right now.

Of course, my mind is trying to throw me off track. It wants to distract me from the hard, boring part of writing — getting it down on paper — and dive back into my imagination. Because it’s fun to imagine a story. It’s pure and whole and perfect and you know it would be a best-selling story. More than that lifeless lump on the page right now, the one that needs massaging and rewriting before it can assume a semblance of what it looked like in your mind.

When that happens, capture the idea. Write it down. Then stick it in a folder and forget about it. Once it’s out of your head, you know that you can come back to it later and see if it’s worth pursuing.

That’s one of the benefits of the GTD system. We try to keep track of so many tasks and errands in our head that it becomes difficult to focus on your work. By putting it all down on paper and stored where you can find it again, it becomes easier to work, because your brain knows it no longer has to keep track of all those tasks.

Writing by File Folder also helps you store material for future books, especially non-fiction works. You start with 26 folders, lettered A to Z, and when you come across a newspaper clipping, magazine article, speech transcript, book review, printout from a website — anything that pertains to your book idea — you throw it into the proper folder and forget about it.

filing system
The filing system for “Writers Gone Wild” on the computer
That’s how I wrote “Writers Gone Wild.” For years, I can across stories about writers from book reviews and feature articles, and I would print them out, label them on the side with the author’s name (or subject, such as sex, feuds, frauds, reviews, etc.) and file it in the proper folder.

For material on websites, I cut and pasted them into a Word file and saved them in the A-Z folders, plus folders on subjects such as feuds, bad reviews, fraud, and love affairs, in my Writers Gone Wild main folder (I also have a folder reserved for interesting art such as author photos, advertisements, movie clips and the like).

I have a similar system set up for other books in the series, including Hollywood, comic artists and writers, and sex. I still throw material into the WGW folders for a possible sequel.

To handle future book projects, a set of 26 folders has already been set up. By selecting them all and copying them, I can move to a folder with the new book’s title, open that, and select paste. That saves me time setting up a new book idea.

Now, you don’t have to do things this way. You may have a system that works perfectly for you. That’s all right, because it meets the CIA Third Law:

So whenever you come across a story, online or in a book, copy it to your folder. For computer files, consider using a system that renames it to something you can use to find it again. For my Gone Wild books, the files are organized by the last name of the person involved, with a few keywords identifying its contents. For a story about Alfred Hitchcock’s treatment of his actresses, it might be called “HITCHCOCK Blonde Obsession.docx.” If a date is needed, I use a six-number code consisting of the year / month / day (e.g., April 1, 2016 would be 160401).

2. Using Other Systems

Writer have found plenty of ways to keep track of their material. Here are a few of them:

* MS OneNote. OneNote also has optical-character recognition software built in that will scan artwork and translate the results into a Word file. Its accuracy depends upon the quality of the scan. I have found it able to “read” a high-quality file with nearly 100% accuracy. Even if it delivers 75% accuracy, it might still be faster than keying in the document manually.

* Firefox’s Scrapbook plugin. I use this to save entire web pages that I can call back up in my browser.

* Firefox’s Zotero plugin

* Scrivener. I’ve dipped into this program and found it use, but I must admit I haven’t tried it with a book project. But others have recommended it.

* Evernote. A note-taking app.

* DevonThink and Ulysses: For projects involving lots of documents, such as biographies or detailed historical fiction.

My Life in NotQuilts

Sewing-Projects-Banner

Sewing-projects-Intro

To better understand the construction and thinking behind NotQuilts, I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks displaying the ones I’ve made for my family and friends and the thinking that went into each design.

I hope that you’ll take away from this that it is easier to make these than quilts, yet still gives you the freedom to express yourself by making beautiful objects that will keep your family warm. They may even treasure these.

Oldest Son’s first NotQuilt, done in shades of blue with a red backing

notquilts
The first notquilt. Click to embiggen
This is my very first NotQuilt. It started with an old, cheap blanket that was dotted with cigarette burns. The holes needed to be covered so I started sewing on patches. I sewed on great big squares of fabric in various shades of blue, not paying any attention to the layout. The fabric patches were so big, I had to roughly quilt them in place, running lines of stitching through the patches and dividing them into segments.

making notquilts
The fabric backing. Click to embiggen.
When I covered the front, I sewed on the backing of red rayon with white rings. I realized that the backing needed to be better secured to the front so I sewed it down with more lines of stitching. Then I added the red, store-bought quilt binding.

This NotQuilt has been repaired with new patches. It doesn’t show that much on the front, but you can see the stitch lines clearly on the relatively plain back. Those small polygons of stitching really show up. Future NotQuilts have much more sewing visible on the back.

DD's Pink NotQuilt. Click to embiggen.
DD’s Pink NotQuilt. Click to embiggen.

Dear Daughter’s shades of pink converted bedspread

Next, I began a NotQuilt for Dear Daughter’s day bed. At the thrift store, I came across a large, off-white bedspread. It had the usual skimpy layer of batting with a backing fabric that was whispy-thin. I liked the curved edges and wanted to keep them.

The curved corner of DD's NotQuilt
The curved corner of DD’s NotQuilt

I ripped out the edges of the bedspread and ironed them flat. That became the new edge. I had learned from the first NotQuilt to attach the backing first so I bought enough cloudy gray flannel to cover the back, going for added warmth. This also added weight.

Detail from the cloudy grey flannel that covers the back of the NotQuilt.
Detail from the cloudy grey flannel that covers the back of the NotQuilt.

I covered the front with various shades of pink patches. This one has a bit more planning. I had some black floral fabric and I ripped that into six segments and spaced them evenly down both sides. I did the same with the other pieces, spacing them regularly on the surface. This NotQuilt ended up with larger pieces at the edges and smaller pieces in the center area. You can consider this as an effort to work out a border and a center medallion.

When that was finished, I bound off the raw edges by folding over the backing flannel around to the front. Then I sewed two lines of pink bias tape to cover the flannel’s raw edge and to add a decorative note.

This NotQuilt has been patched, yet the patches disappear into the motley surface. It needs a few more patches as two more of the original fabrics have disintegrated with age.

A Few Words About Fading

When I made this quilt, the fabrics were new and bright. Time, sunlight, and washing have faded most of them to pale visions of themselves. The first six pieces were black with a bright floral design. Now they are a uniform drab, ghostly floral.

So consider this a warning from my experiences: Don’t sew with pre-faded fabrics that pretend to look old. They’ll do that on their own, no matter what you do. Start with bright, rich colors and enjoy them while they last.

Also, do not be deceived by the few bright pieces into thinking that they are the most recent set of patches. Some are, but some are original. Polyester blends kept their colors far better than the 100% cottons. There are some pieces in here that came from a bag of muumuu scraps I bought while stationed in Hawaii. Those scraps are 100% polyester and they have held up great, better than some of those fine quilting cottons.

As long as the weights of the fabrics are similar, I have found that the composition (cotton, polyester, rayon, etc.) doesn’t matter that much. I do make sure to preshrink every piece of fabric before using it in a NotQuilt. I want to be positive that the finished product can be machine-washed in hot water and dried in a dryer.

It’s a terrible thing to put weeks and weeks of woman-hours into a quilt, wash it, and watch it rip.

This NotQuilt has been waiting patiently for its next round of repairs. The patches, as long as I keep them to the same color family of pinks, will blend right in. They only stand out because they aren’t faded, like the original work was.

NotQuilt baby blanket
This NotQuilt became a chance to use my vast collection of flannel bits culled from making baby blankets.

Dear Daughter’s flannel NotQuilt

This NotQuilt is much smaller than the two previous efforts. I have no idea what is inside of it, a mattress pad maybe. The backing fabric was sewn on first. This NotQuilt became a chance to use my vast collection of flannel bits.

I make flannel baby blankets for baby shower gifts, and I always save my scraps. A 1-yard piece of flannel cuts into a 1-yard square receiving blanket with a strip left over. Then I trim off a triangle at each corner to round the edges nicely.

So when I came to this NotQuilt, I had a large stash of baby fabric flannel, both in strips and squares and a lot of small triangles.

If you look carefully, you will see the triangles sewn back together into a pinwheel block. There are eleven pinwheels in all, and I organized the colors before sewing them together so that they matched up.

notquilt triangle block
The triangles were sewn back together into a pinwheel block. Click to embiggen.

This NotQuilt is far more organized than it looks. Every scrap that had a definite up and down orientation is sewn down to match that orientation. Every scrap has its counterpart on the quilt, spaced apart. The Garfield coffee and donuts and the tie-dye pink hearts are the easiest to notice. The pinwheel blocks are spaced sort of evenly across the top.

I am fairly sure that I sewed the center pieces first and then ran a rough border of rectangles all around the edges. There was a nice pink pattern square in each corner. Time and washing have faded those fabrics to bland nothingness, along with many of the other scraps.

I chose a lightweight cotton for the backing as I didn’t want any more weight than the NotQuilt already had with all that pieced flannel. Every stitch line from the front shows on the back and you can see the overlapping lines as one rectangle is sewn over another.

The binding is a standard, purchased quilt binding of pink, and it too has faded.

Because of its surface, this NotQuilt will have to be patched with more flannel. It won’t look right to use regular cloth, no matter what the pattern is.

The design of this NotQuilt changed as Younger Son aged. Click to embiggen.
The design of this NotQuilt changed as Younger Son aged. Click to embiggen.

Younger Son’s heavily mended NotQuilt of jungle animals

Inside this NotQuilt is another cheap discount-store blanket. It is about the same size as the first NotQuilt, the blue with the red backing.

I purchased a backing fabric for this NotQuilt of green foliage with lizards. That got sewed on first.

The front has been repatched multiple times so it is hard to see the underlying pattern. For Younger Son, I wanted jungle animals. At first, I used more babyish patterns as he was very young when I made this NotQuilt. As he got older, I patched using more adult jungle themes.

notquilt jungle fabric
This detail shows the progression from the babyish jungle patters to more older themes. Click to embiggen.

This NotQuilt had a definite arrangement of fabrics with a border of rectangles on all four sides. The original array of fabrics has been concealed by two or three layers of patching.

Younger Son has the annoying habit of using his bed as a work station for disemboweling small appliances. Sharp pointy tools, screws, and wires did not do the surface of this quilt any favors, nor did his shoes and uncut toenails. His NotQuilt has torn repeatedly in a way that none of the other ones have.

YS’s theory is that his NotQuilt was prominently displayed in full sun for years and that the sun weakened the sturdiness of the fabric. This could be true, although none of the other NotQuilts I have made have shown this much wear.

YS had dust mite allergies; he has since mercifully outgrown them. Therefore, this NotQuilt got washed on a near-weekly basis in hot water with a cold-water rinse. Most of the times, after washing, it went on the clothesline upside down to spare the fashion fabric surface. Sometimes, it went into the dryer. It is very likely that getting washed every week added to the wear and tear.

Washing machines abrade fabric when they rub the clothes up against each other in the hot, sudsy water. Dryer do damage too; all that lint you collect in the lint filter comes from abraded fabric.

This is why many people do not wash their quilts. They may dry-clean them, or hang them out on a regular basis to air them. Those quilts don’t feel the touch of hot water very often.

One of the great things about NotQuilts is that they are made to be patched. This one certainly has. To patch it, I cut off the frayed fabric, iron everything that is left smooth, then cut and sew down a new layer. I generally don’t do a patch job until I have at least five areas to fix.

notquilt jungle pattern
Detail of the NotQuilt’s back showing the repairs. Click to embiggen.
The repairs don’t show very much on the surface unless you look close. The back is where the multiple stitch lines show up, overlapping each other, running alongside, and criss-crossing endlessly. I have to be careful when sewing on a repair patch as I have to keep the seams from stacking up. I offset each patch so as to minimize bulk where multiple seam lines cross.

Again, the back of the NotQuilt shows this more clearly.

I still like the way this one looks and I really like the fact that I can repair it endlessly.

Next Week: More NotQuilts!

Sherlock Holmes never met Peter Wimsey …

Which was a pity, because a double dose of detectiving mingled with Wimsey’s wit would have been just what the doctor ordered.

doctor who sherlock holmes peter wimsey
Not that doctor, but while we’re here, why don’t we have “WimLock?”

As I’m publishing the Sherlock parodies andThe Complete, Annotated Whose Body?” I must point out Dan Andriacco’s post today about the Sherlockian connections in “Whose Body?”. Sometimes they are direct mentions, but there are also Easter eggs referring to the Canon.

(Those who want just my annotations to “Whose Body?” can also visit my Wimsey Annotation page.)

Subtitle – “The Singular Adventure of the Man with the Golden Pince Nez” is a clear reference to “The Adventure of the Golden Pince Nez” in The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

General: Bunter sounds a lot like Brunton, the butler in “The Musgrave Ritual.”

Ch. I, p. 13 – “enter Sherlock Holmes, disguised as a walking gentleman”

Ch. II, pp. 24 & 25 – the references to coffee and brandy are reminiscent of the two favorite beverages in the Canon.

p. 33 – “unless he [Levy] was a most consummate actor” – which Holmes, of course, was, as is stated variously in the Canon.

p. 38 – “Did you realize the importance of that?” LP asks Parker. The whole conversation, including Lord Peter’s put-down of Parker, reads like a bit out of the Canon with Holmes chiding Watson for his lack of deduction from observation.

It should not be surprising that Sayers was a great player of the Game. She wrote essays about “The Red-Headed League,” Watson’s multiple marriages, and Holmes’ birth date. These essays were collected in a small book. In the early 1930s, she became a charter member of the Sherlock Holmes Society, which faded during WWII, but like Holmes was resurrected.

Author, Editor, Anthologist, and Owner of Peschel Press, the Publisher of Histories Behind the Mysteries