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Author Interview: Kathy Cano-Murillo

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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,
Melody

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

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The Remarkable Women Series: Ariella Fiore – The Quilting Mama!

Welcome to the first installation in my Remarkable Women Series!  A little something I’ve whipped up for my blog, the Remarkable Women Series will highlight admirable women in short articles that will be posted here at melodynunez.com.  Words that might apply to these Remarkable Women will include: kind, active, talented, philanthropic, and fun!

If you haven’t subscribed to this blog already, please do so now. You’ll be eligible for upcoming giveaways and you’ll catch future blog posts – including additional installations in this series.

That said, on with the show!  Please allow me to introduce my first Remarkable Woman:

Ariella Fiore, The Quilting Mama

Ariella Fiore’s life combines the best of many worlds.  She lives in the urban San Fernando Valley, but keeps chickens.  She’s tech-savvy (and seems to be addicted to Facebook!), but also sews and puts up jam made from the fruit harvested from her fruit trees.  She’s a bit of a wild child, but is also a devoted wife and mother.

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Ariella is not easily defined, and she is a spectacular example of joie de vivre.  French for “joy of living”, joie de vivre doesn’t mean that every moment and every day in Ariella’s life is perfect.  On the contrary, some of her Facebook posts mention the trials and tribulations of her everyday life.  I think Ariella embodies joie de vivre because of her gusto.  She’s not an observer – she’s an enthusiastic participant in this crazy thing we call life.

I met Ariella, then Ariella DeCastro, in my 10th grade year.  We were both students at the Alexander Hamilton Academy of Music, and she was a grade ahead of me.  We were on the same bus route, and we remained friends after she started driving herself to school soon thereafter.  I was drawn to Ariella, as many were and are, because of her kindness, sense of humor, and abundant personality.  She wasn’t a “blend in with all the others” girl – could not be shaped by the cosmic cookie cutters that molded others, restrained them.  Even then, at the ripe old age of sixteen, Ariella was unique, knew it, and – most importantly – embraced it.

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Flash forward approximately 20 years, and Ariella is living the dream – her dream.  She has a loving husband, two bright and adorable children, and she’s got a garden that turns this apartment-dweller (several shades of) green with envy.  She’s active at her children’s school, involved in the Fiore family computer business (EPG Technologies), and frequently performs in local musical theater productions.

A social butterfly, Ariella has a knack for bringing people together, and her cooking and baking skills are invariably put to use whether she’s the hostess or is a guest.  On top of all that, she’s also got her own business – The Quilting Mama, which offers hand-sewn items at craft fairs and through an etsy.com store.

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Ariella is a decidedly passionate person, and one of her greater passions is saving the planet.  She is the reduce-reuse-recycle queen, and is so vigilant that she doesn’t even use disposable party goods (plates, cups, etc.) when hosting get-togethers – regardless of size.  While many of us (myself included) are blithely using plastic sandwich bags and tossing them after one use, Ariella ensures that her family contributes as little to the landfills as possible.

She’s so committed to responsible living that even her Quilting Mama product line is earth-friendly.  Her reusable, sandwich-size Food Bags, Green Sleeve Coffee Cozies, and Reusable Swiffer-style Dry Cloths are just a few of the ways she’s trying to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.  She also sells wonderful baby blankets, adult bibs, and other goodies.

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Click here to visit The Quilting Mama Store

Oh, and don’t be afraid to contact The Quilting Mama with special requests. In the past I’ve asked for baby blankets and an adult bib with special patterns and dimensions, respectively.  Ariella was very accommodating, and the finished products were just what I hoped for.  (Please note: I’m not a paid endorser, just a fan!)

Some people you meet in life are admirable.  Some are unforgettable.  Some are fun, some are talented, and some are simply a joy to know.  Ariella Fiore is all of these things, and I’m glad to have met her on the school bus all those many years ago.

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(The photo of Ariella Fiore was taken by Maggie West.  All other photos were taken by Melody Nunez)

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