Writing with “Help” from My Family

I’m mother to two young children and a Shih-tzu puppy, and I have my second novel to write.  I intend for it to be romantic suspense, but so far, the romance is sparse. It’s pretty much a given that if I sit down to write a kissing scene, one of my dependents will interrupt me in the most unromantic way possible.

It goes like this:

I type in: He wrapped protective arms around her and lowered his mouth to hers…

Zoë: Mo-om! MOM! Silas is puking!

I type in: Tony was different from the other men she’d dated. He was cultured and debonair…

Silas: Mom! I pooped. Do I HAVE to wipe my butt?

I type in: Vivian tossed and turned, unable to sleep. What had she done to drive Tony away? After the way he’d kissed her the night before, she’d thought…

Zoë: Mo-om! Mo-om! Buster took my doll outside and is peeing on her!

So, I wait until after the kids have gone to bed. I sit on the couch, trying to work on the book, when my dog starts whining to sit on my lap. I pick him up, and he starts emitting the nastiest farts I’ve ever smelled. Time to change his dog food, I think, pushing him into his crate. The living room stinks to high heaven, so I retreat to my room. Sitting in bed, I try one more time to write.

My husband is sleeping beside me, looking angelically handsome. My mind goes back to our magical second date at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, and finally, I am able to write romance. Tony and Vivian are sitting in a moonlit garden, confessing to each other the fears and misunderstanding that have kept them apart for two hundred pages, when my husband begins loudly snoring. I glare at him and cram plugs into my ears. I’m reminding myself that he really is a good husband and that I should be grateful he cooks dinner and lets me sleep in on weekends, when he, too, begins producing unbelievably terrible farts. It is like the stench from every sin he ever committed in his life is eking out from between his tightly clenched butt cheeks. I climb into the top bunk of my daughter’s bed and pray she doesn’t start passing gas.

I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me romance really isn’t my genre. With all the gross-outs I encounter on a daily basis, I really ought to be writing for fourth grade boys.

 

 

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The Devon Peasant Blouse

 

Just a quick blog post on my go-to top pattern, Sis Boom’s Devon Peasant Blouse. I usually make it in quilting cotton, but last week I made myself one in some batiste I had kicking around. Batiste is lightweight and perfect for warmer weather. Of course, I made it on the coldest day of winter, but I was looking ahead. My husband took the pictures with my camera phone. He brings out the silly in me. Sadly, my Sony did not survive my children playing tug-o-war with it.

Here’s another version of this that I made in Sis Boom’s Judith’s Fancy quilting cotton. I don’t usually make clothing from quilting cotton, but Sis Boom fabrics are very soft with a nice drape. The Devon is a super fast sew. I have never made it without my children nipping at my heels, but with them, it takes between 1-2 hours, start to finish. Without them, it would take 30-45 minutes, but that’s only speculation.

 

My daughter is wearing Judith’s Fancy, too, made from Sis Boom’s Sophie Tunic pattern. I love how our outfits coordinate without exactly matching. As you can see, she’s too cool to smile. Or have her bangs trimmed.DSC03348

I’ve been having fun this winter, playing with Judith’s Fancy. The fabric lends itself well to embellishment. I whipped up some zippered pouches and liberally sprinkled them with Hotfix crystals.

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Here are the links to the patterns:

http://www.sisboom.com/store/patterns/devon-peasant/

http://www.sisboom.com/store/patterns/sophie-tunic/

Flannel Jammies

 

I whipped up some pajamas for my 5-year-old recently. Each set of pajamas took 45 minutes, start to finish. That includes printing out and assembling the PDF patterns. I probably could have finished each set in half an hour, but my children and dogs are famous interrupters. I love how they turned out. They’re so comfy, my daughter lives in them on weekends.

I used Sis Boom’s “Leighanna” for the top, and Scientific Seamstress’s “Easy Fit Pants” for the bottoms. I like that the Leighanna can easily be lengthened into a cute nightgown.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/242035563/sis-boom-leighanna-girls-peasant-top-or?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=sis%20boom%20leighanna&ref=sr_gallery-1-1

https://www.craftsy.com/sewing/patterns/easy-fit-pants/104504

 

Writing About Places I love

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Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island

Last month I finished writing my first novel. It took about two and a half years. I didn’t get working on it in earnest until about a year ago. I intended it to be a romance novel, but it ended up falling more into the Women’s Fiction category because I kept adding different facets to Caitlyn’s life. She grew her own sewing business and took on an exchange student (my art imitates my life). Here’s my three paragraph blurb on it:

Twenty-seven-year-old Caitlyn McIntyre is one year out of a bad marriage, two weeks late on rent for her crappy apartment, and three days from losing her job.

The redhead from Vermont thought she’d gotten past the tragedies in her life when she escaped to beautiful Saint Simons after her divorce. But Caitlyn’s curls, piled into a tangled frizz in the oppressive Georgia heat, are as unmanageable as her life as she finds herself facing not only unemployment, but also having to give up the life she’d fought hard to establish. Her fears are allayed when Nick, a real estate developer on Saint Simons Island, is in sudden need of a nanny for his autistic son. But the chemistry between Caitlyn and Nick adds to Caitlyn’s problems, especially when the rumors of Nick being a womanizer appear to be true. Over the course of two years, Caitlyn takes on an anxious preschooler, a foreign exchange student, the entitlement of the wealthy, and her growing attraction to her boss.

GINGERLY is an uplifting and often humorous novel about the paths women often must take to find their identity and build a life they’re proud of. Caitlyn is a relatable heroine who is witty, well-intentioned, and her own worst enemy. Readers will enjoy the strong thread of romance that runs throughout the book.

I loosely based the character of Aidan, the autistic child, on the way my son was at four. At first I felt guilty about that, like maybe I was exploiting my child, but I decided that was silly. I think my son is the most wonderful boy in the whole world, and that comes across in the story. Now I feel guilty about not having based a character on my larger-than-life little daughter. I set the story in St. Simons, Georgia. I live in Massachusetts with my family, but my hubby has relatives in Georgia that we’ve been visiting about three times a year for the past nine years. I make sure we spend a day or two at St. Simons or it’s neighboring island, Jekyll, each visit. I’ve done a fair bit of traveling, but those two islands are the places I long for most. I spend way too much time online looking at real estate and dreaming of buying a vacation home there. Here’s a pic of my beautiful little boy during his first trip to St. Simons:

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I’m contacting agents and publishers, trying to get GINGERLY published, and in the meantime I’ve been working on my next novel. It’s set in another place I love, Saint Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire. It’s where my husband and I went on our second date, when I was living in Orford, NH and he was living in Greenfield, MA. It was a great place to meet in the middle. We snuck in after closing time and looked at sculptures in the dim evening light. That was when I knew we were going to get married one day.

 

 

I’ve taken our kids and friends there half a dozen times. There are beautiful trails on the property. In the sunshine, the place is absolutely gorgeous, but in the gloom, it is delightfully spooky. My current story is about a missing hiker last seen at St. Gaudens, her incredibly hot (of course!) older brother, and a a lonely young art snob who was abandoned by her father and raised by a meth addict in nearby Claremont. I’m about eighty-six pages in, and I already plan to rewrite half of it. I’ve booked my trusty editor, Christa Soule, for the month of June, so I have five months to get my shizz together and write that thing. I work best under pressure, so I try to give myself lots of it.

 

 

Here are a couple more pics of St. Gaudens. Now I have to run and pick up my kids from school. Catch you later!

 

 

My Favorite Sis Boom Dress Patterns

I’ve made probably close to one hundred dresses in my life, and hands-down, Sis Boom Pattern Co.’s are my favorite. The pattern sizes really correspond well to the wearer’s measurements. I’ve had to do almost no tweaking at all to get things to fit. Above, you can see the Jenny dress, both made from Sis Boom fabric. There’s a side zipper that isn’t really visible in the photos. The dress can be made sleeveless or with cap sleeves. These took me about 3 hours to sew, from start to finish.

The blue dress, I went off the wearer’s measurements that I’d taken a few months prior. She’d lost weight and forgotten to tell me, so the dress was about a size two large. An elasticized belt gave it more of the fitted look I was originally going for. The pink dress was made going from the wearer’s recently taken measurements, and fit her like a glove. I’d never sewn for her before, and all I had to do was cut out the pattern pieces from her corresponding size. It all worked perfectly. The only adjustment I made was to cut the waistline pattern piece so it sloped in half an inch.

The dresses above were made from the Carolina Mae pattern. It comes with sleeve variations, but I think it looks best without any. It can also be made with a plain bodice instead of a ruched bodice, but I really don’t like the way it looks plain. There’s also a sweet little bow in the pattern. The girls’ version is the Gabriella Fae, below.

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Sis Boom’s “Gabriella Fae” dress in “Jenny Eliza”

My favorite of the Sis Boom patterns in the Angie, because I can make it in an hour flat. There are no zippers or buttons to fuss with. It pulls right over your head. I’ve easily made half a dozen of these. It also comes with pockets!14572607_10153979508571245_2055295651_o

There are several more Sis Boom dress patterns for women that are really, really cute, but these three are my absolute favorite!

You can buy them here:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/SisBoomPatternCo?ref=l2-shopheader-name

 

Or here:

http://www.sisboom.com

Women’s March

Zee and I enjoyed attending the Women’s March rally in the nearby town of Greenfield. I had never been to a rally of any kind and was slightly apprehensive. I didn’t want to be around a bunch of angry people, no matter how much I might agree with them. She begged to come along, and I conceded, prepared to leave early if things didn’t go well. (Note: pictures lousy because little daughter was bopping around like a balloon without a string).

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I’m guessing there were over 300 people there. Not everyone could fit on the little town common, and the surrounding street corners and sidewalks were filled to overflowing. The tone of the event was friendly and uplifting. Of the 100+ signs people were carrying, only 3 or 4 came across as overly angry or bitter. Most signs did not mention Trump directly. Many signs affirmed acceptance for minorities, concern about climate change, health care, and equal rights. I was surprised to see only 1 or 2 signs that even alluded to abortion. I was also surprised (and impressed) by the amount of men of all ages there. The whole event had a very peaceful tone. Everyone was very respectful of each other. Even though the small town common couldn’t adequately hold everybody, people were saying “excuse me” and taking care not to step on the small children that seemed to be underfoot everywhere. A small handful of policemen were politely directing the flow of foot traffic, and pedestrians were cooperating and thanking them. dsc00280

The emphasis was clearly on love, kindness, and a recommitment to stand up for the rights and well-being of others. It wasn’t a “bash the opposition, blame the Republicans, hate the President” fest. I didn’t hear or read a single word criticizing Republicans or people who voted for Trump. To be strictly honest, I couldn’t hear everything that the speakers were saying because the microphones weren’t very loud, so if someone else attending heard otherwise, I stand corrected. However, from what I could hear, the words and the tone were meant to be uplifting. I didn’t hear any whining or anyone working themselves into a frenzy. I felt surprised that the speakers came across as kind, calm, and encouraging at a time when emotions were so high. After the rally ended, the crowds dispersed. Cheerful people flooded the nearby shops and restaurants.dsc00287

Being surrounded by people committed to looking out for others left me feeling very grateful for our community, and hopeful about the future.dsc00288

I’m so glad I brought my daughter.

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Focus on Photography

DSC00089 4.jpgI got a new camera a few days ago, and I’m super excited! My old one was giving me some trouble. My photos lacked the clarity they once had, and the ability to record sound was broken. My camera also began taking really washed-out looking pictures in optimal light conditions. I’m a rather klutzy person and I dropped it a few times. And forgot it in the car overnight during subzero temperatures. And kept carelessly leaving it next to the microwave. And accidentally left it lying next to a package of powerful magnets. The more I think about this, the more I think I should give my new camera to someone more deserving…so I’ll stop thinking about it and resolve to not be an idiot with my favorite toy this time.

My husband got me a green screen backdrop and a beginner’s light kit for Christmas (he is seriously the world’s most thoughtful man), and I want nothing more than to play with my new equipment all day. Unfortunately, though, this past month I’ve been fairly incapacitated. I’ve been having  painful gallbladder issues since early December, and had three procedures to remedy the problem, ending with having my gallbladder removed laparoscopically just two weeks ago. Even though I’m still a bit sore, I’ve gained a lot more mobility over the past three days and have been delighting in taking pictures. The above photo is of my six-year-old son. He was recovering from a slight stomach bug, and looked a bit paler and had darker rings under his eyes than usual. But I assure you that his blue-green eyes really are that big and beautiful. I didn’t edit this much. I minimized the spaghetti sauce stain on the edge of his mouth, and, when I wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped, I converted the photo to black and white, played with the levels a tiny bit, and sharpened the photo slightly. Oh, and I removed evidence of his runny nose.

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Here’s a photograph of my son and four-year-old daughter, playing in the woods by our house. They fight like normal siblings, but are very affectionate with each other.

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Here’s a photo of my lovely little daughter. She looks a little anxious in this picture, because she was trying to build a house of twigs and straw (a la the Three Little Pigs), and it wasn’t coming together to her liking.

Here are two photos of my children hanging out in my room. The pictures are cluttered (like my room), but I love them they were taken when we were having so much fun together. Zee confiscated my glasses, and proceeded to wear them while putting on an impromptu ballet. Bubsy had the giggles and was extra cuddly. My husband (not pictured) was playing guitar in the background.

I’ve enrolled in two photography classes (non accredited)  at a nearby community college, and they start very soon. I’ve always loved photography, but have never really know my way around a camera, especially the manual settings. I also know shamefully little about lighting. I’m quite excited about the chance to learn more!