Tag Archives: fiction

A Rite of Passage


My book, An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past, is just over a month old now.  Self-publishing has been a wonderful adventure so far, and I thought I’d share a happy “new author” rite of passage I recently experienced.  Until a week or so ago, all my book sales had been done through Amazon and Etsy.  I hadn’t seen my book for sale in a bookstore, but that was about to change.

While on a road trip I stopped into a bookstore near my destination, and ended up selling them a copy of my book.  Yes, one copy.  They very nicely explained that because they’re a small store they could only start with one book, but I was so excited you’d think I’d made a best seller list.  I was even more excited when one of the two ladies I was doing business with walked over and put my book on their New Fiction section in the front of the store.

OMG – there it was!  My book – for sale – in a store!  It was a first for me, and naturally I had to take pictures to mark the occasion.  I was grinning ear to ear as I left the store and drove on down the road. It was a small victory, but I was elated anyway.  Woo hoo!  Later on in my trip I went to sell another 7 books, including five that were purchased by an antique store, and it was a wonderful feeling.  I wish I’d brought more books with me.  :]

It’s unlikely my little book will make a big splash in the literary world, and I probably won’t sell tens of thousands of copies.  This is a project that came from the heart, and seeing it through to being published – and beyond – is food for my soul.  I strive to be mindful and grateful in daily life, so you can be sure I’m going to appreciate all the firsts and unexpected joys this literary journey brings my way.


Like the pleasure of seeing MY book on a shelf in a bookstore…

Warm regards,

Posted in An Altered Existence: Fictitious Stories About Faces from the Past, antiques, art, books, inspiration, life in general, publishing, vintage, writing | Also tagged , , 16 Comments

Author Interview: Kathy Cano-Murillo


Kathy Cano-Murillo, also known as the Crafty Chica, is a woman of many talents.  Not only is she an art and craft celebrity, she’s also an author of both fiction and craft-related books.  I really enjoyed reading her first novel, Waking Up in the Land of Glitter, earlier this year.  Kathy’s second novel, Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing has just been released, and I’m thrilled to be participating in her blog tour via an author interview.


Welcome, Kathy!  I know you’re busy with your blog tour, and hope it’s a smashing success.  I appreciate you taking the time to answer some writing and book-related questions.

In addition to being a writer, I’m also an avid reader and am curious about your reading habits.  I follow you on Twitter and on Facebook, so I know that you’re super busy.  Do you have time to read?  If so, do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

Oh yes! I usually have three books going at a time. One on my nightstand, one on my iPhone Kindle and an audio book in the art studio. I can’t get enough! Mostly fiction.



Both of your novels’ storylines sucked me right in, and as a writer/blogger and artist/crafter I love that they’re both set in the creative world.  Your new novel’s main character, Scarlet Santana, had two strong, creative women teaching and guiding her – her Nana Eleanor and Daisy de la Flora.  Have you had similar influences in your life?  Who are your creative idols?

Certainly! I had a Nana Eleanor, who was just like Nana Eleanor in the book. However, I never was able to spend a lot of time with her and I regret it so much. She always wanted to teach me to sew, but I was too busy and postponed it.  After she passed away, I cried for days because I never even took the time for one sewing lesson from my nana. My husband went out to the store and came home with a $99 machine. “All she wanted was for you to sew,” he said. I started with an easy placemat purse and have not looked back. I made a little sewing shrine to my nana and it is in my art studio. I think of her EVERY time I sit down to sew. After I wrote the book, I realized that Scarlet’s relationship with her Nana Eleanor was the one I should have had with my Nana. I hope my Nana knows that and forgives me!

I have a feeling that she knows, forgives you, and is very happy you’ve taken up sewing.  I know you’ve been writing since you were a child (short stories) and were a columnist for a newspaper in Arizona.  However, an inclination to write doesn’t necessarily translate to noveling.  Was there always a novel inside you waiting to come out, or was it an evolution that began after you successfully published your non-fiction titles?

It was always a far-off crazy dream of mine. I knew I wanted to see my novel on the front table at a bookstore, but it wasn’t until 2004 that I actually believed I could outline a story, begin, finish and sell it. I took it one step at a time and devoted countless hours and energy. Even if nothing came from it, I could die knowing I tried as hard as I could!

What was the biggest surprise when you wrote your first novel?


How much I enjoyed it. I thought it would be very hard, and it was at first, but once I got going, the stories just flowed out of me. The characters became real people in my life with real problems. I felt like I had an imaginary extended family. It also surprised me how sad I felt once I finished the last batch of editing.

How did the experience or process differ with your second novel?  Did you do certain things differently based on what you’d learned the first time around?


Oh yes! I learned what not to do! The process went much faster. When I wrote the first book, I didn’t really know what I was doing, I just wrote what I thought was a compelling book, only to have my editor cut half of it and send me back to my desk to redo it. I learned that every single word, sentence, paragraph and chapter has to move the story forward, otherwise it needs to be cut. That alone saved a lot of time!

What is the most difficult part of the noveling process for you?  Plot development, rewriting, or something else entirely?


Getting started on the outline. It’s a blast to dream up the characters, but you have to give them personality, problems, etc. Sometimes I get stuck. I’ll say “I know where Point A is and where Point Z is, but how do I get my character there?” It’s only difficult in the early stages, once I start writing, it all comes together and fills out and new ideas come. That’s my favorite part of the process!

Marketing is key in any industry – particularly in the competitive and rapidly-evolving world of publishing. What are some of your favorite ways to publicize your new books, and how big of a part does social media play in that?


I’ve always been an avid blogger, long before people used the social media term. I was all over MySpace when it was big, and now Twitter and Facebook. I love technology and connecting with people from all over the world! I make sure to always know the latest and greatest utilities and see if they are a good fit for what I do. I do stay with the biggest platforms, strive to build quality relationships, and don’t let myself get sidetracked with too much online stuff. I don’t want it to get in the way of my writing or crafting!

I know many publishers and authors are using blog tours to promote new titles in lieu of more traditional book tours and signings.  Do you prefer a digital tour, in-person events, or a mixture of both?


I love any kind of tour! My mission is to spread the word far and wide about Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing. The book is very meaningful to me and I’m excited to embrace any platform to share it!

I’m pleased to help you spread the word about your new novel, and thank you for your time.  I wish you continued success both personally and professionally, Kathy!

Warm regards,


*Disclosure: I received an advance copy of Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing for review purposes.

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Retro Writing: It’s Garbage Day Again

Dear Readers,

I wrote the short story below when I was a college student of nearly twenty.  Back then I was waffling, trying to figure out if I should major in art or creative writing.  I ultimately majored in art, but I’m still drawn to both.  Here I am, years later, writing a blog about art and writing – among other things.

I hope to post some new fiction here on my blog at some point, and thought I’d start by sharing this retro fiction.  Those of you who read my Drawing a Blank?  Prompts for Writers & Artists post might recognize this story as the result of the tabloid prompt. Armed with a copy of the Weekly World News, I was inspired to write this story.  The prompt worked like a charm!

I hope you enjoy reading It’s Garbage Day Again.

Warm Regards,


It’s Garbage Day Again


As the metal box was lowered into the earth I tried to deny the fact that my father was being buried in a dumpster.  I guess I’d always tried to deny the truth about Daddy.  I loved him dearly, but part of me could never get past the fact that one of the joys of his life was trash and its disposal.  It was something he lived for and he ended up dying for it as well.

Growing up wasn’t easy for my two brothers and me. Sure, we had a good home, enough food, loving parents, and all that good stuff, but we also had some things to deal with that most kids are lucky enough to miss.  Instead of nicknames like Tiger, Pal, or Bunny, we were called Stinky, Smelly, and (a more effeminate name) Pungent.  Daddy called us those names with nothing but love in his heart, but Pungent, Smelly and Stinky aren’t the best names to carry around.  Daddy could never remember to call us by our regular names around our friends.  You can imagine how quickly our classmates at school knew our “names”.  I was called Pungent by kids, and even some teachers, until high school.  But it wasn’t just the names.

Our family vacations were also affected by Daddy’s great love of trash.  Every summer the five of us would pack into the car and drive to some state we’d not yet visited.  We’d then proceed to tour the largest and most noteworthy landfills in that state. Of course the size or noteworthiness of these places mattered only to Daddy. Us kids spent the vacation dreaming of going to Disneyland or the beach and having vacation snapshots of something other than trash, trash, and more trash.  But it wasn’t just the vacations.

My brothers dreamed of having a dad that would sign them up for sports, go to all their games, and maybe even coach their team every few seasons or so.  Daddy never cared about sports.  Instead of rattling off statistic about homeruns and R.B.I.s, Daddy’s head was filled with every kind of information that related to his job – his life and his love.  The only uniform he was interested in was his uniform from the disposal company.  He’d often give vivid descriptions of the trash he’d collected that day during dinner.  My family grew used to it, but Daddy always forgot the meaning of the phrase “dining room conversation” and company never knew quite how to react.

Daddy was full of these quirks.  I always knew him as “Daddy the trash man” since his identity as my father and as a trash collector were inseparable.  He was a kind, gentle, and loving man and he always seemed happy.  Maybe if you work with trash the only way to go is up, I don’t know.  I know my father loved me, he was quick to tell me so, but I always felt I played second fiddle to something that most people try to get rid of and ignore.  My brothers and I shared our feelings of loss and tried to make light of our feelings by making up trash jokes.  Sometimes they included Daddy, sometimes they didn’t.  Around Father’s Day one year we debated about what to get him. We couldn’t decide between cologne and a tie.  We realized it didn’t really matter what we got since he’d probably like the box, or wrappings – the trash – from the present the best anyway.  Gift giving for Daddy was not fun.

While mother, brothers and I walked away from the gravesite, I realized Daddy had probably been given his best gift on the day of his funeral.  He’d gotten a hernia from lifting too much weight on his route, and died from complications from what was supposed to be a simple operation.  His wish was to be buried in a large trash dumpster.  Family, friends, and the cemetery questioned the sanity behind this request, but they should’ve guessed that Daddy wasn’t sane when it came to trash.  Despite the insanity of it Mom, the boys and I decided to go through with it.  It was quite a spectacle to have a garbage truck cart a dumpster into the lush, flowery cemetery, but since we’d always been a trash-related spectacle before it seemed like just another day.

As I stood by the grave I said my goodbyes to the years of trash jokes, trashy vacations, and being called white trash by those with a poor sense of humor.  Part of me wanted to forget the first part of my “trashy” life and the man I associated with it.  But walking away with Stinky and Smelly, I realized that here are some things you should never throw out.

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