Category Archives: Books

Books

Video Review of Inspired by Tradition – New Applique Book by Kay Mackenzie

Welcome quilters to Day One of Kay Mackenzie’s blog tour for her newest book, Inspired by Tradition:  50 Applique Blocks in 5 Sizes.  If you’re new here, allow me to introduce myself.  I’m Maria Peagler, author of the Benjamin Franklin award-winning book Color Mastery:  10 Principles for Creating Stunning Quilts.  I’m a workshop instructor and I’m thrilled to have a book like Inspired by Tradition for my students.

Watch my video review of Kay’s newest title, then read on for how you can win you very own copy.

Want to learn more?  Check out all 50 blocks at Inspired by Tradition’s Amazon page.  Check back daily at Kay’s page from March 23 – March 31 to see who will be hosting Kay on their blog.

Want to win your own copy?  Just spread the word about Kay’s new book, by sharing this page with your friends, sharing on Facebook, Twitter, or sending an email to your guild’s Program Chairperson or Newsletter Editor.  I make it really easy:  simply click on any of the icons at the top or bottom of this post to share on your favorite social network or via email.  Then tell me here in the comments how you shared, and you’ll be entered to win.  Check back tomorrow when I’ll announce the lucky winner.

How Much Does Beauty Cost?

I guess that’s an unanswerable question, isn’t it?  How can you put a price on what each of us deems beautiful?

Since we’re quilters, our stash is a beautiful thing, one we would loathe to put a price on.  Those quilts are works of love going to cherished family members, people in need, and our own tables.  But the supplies do cost, don’t they?

They may be far less expensive than you think, and here’s why:  by making a few small changes, you can afford far more beauty in your quilting supplies than you ever thought possible.  I know, because I’ve done it.

My husband and I both started small businesses years ago, and we lived on our savings for four years.  Yes, that’s right.  Four entire years.  We weren’t independently wealthy; we simply were people who saved on a consistent basis, watched what we spent, and were able to benefit later when we wanted to develop our own businesses.

During that time, I still bought fabric, thread, batting, notions, and books.  All of it.  But I did so on a budget.  So, if you think beautiful quilts are out of reach because times are tough, think again.  I’ll show you how you can do it.

My latest book, The Frugal Fabriholic, gives you a 12-step plan for saving more cash for your quilting stash.  You can get all the details on the website here, and I’ll be posting a few tidbits and sketches on how I saved my family $13,000 last year and was able to use a portion of that for my quilting supplies.

Here’s a sketch from my journal that gives an example.  Symphony on the Green is an event we enjoy each year, and it’s free.  I also cooked a picnic dinner, instead of having it catered.  I saved enough from that one night to splurge on some lovely fabric supplies.

Come Celebrate with Me

If you asked God to grant your biggest dream, what would it be?  My answer would be different depending on when you asked me.  Some dreams come and go, while others stick with you, and others you work diligently to see to fruition.

My first dream?  A happy, healthy marriage.  No small feat for any couple, but my parents experienced an acrimonious divorce, my dad’s been married three times, and my mother all but swore off men.  Not exactly a start that holds hope for marital bliss.  When I married David, I had no experience with what a stable, Christian marriage could be.  This month we will be celebrating 20 years of just that.  Thanks God.

My second dream?  Motherhood.  I didn’t grow up imagining being married or having children.  I came from a unique family, and my mom really encouraged me to get my education and be a career woman so I could be independent and support myself no matter what happened to me in life.  I did all that, married a delightful man, and five years later we had a son.  Another five years later I gave birth to our second son.  Two of the most wonderful boys you will ever meet.  Again, thanks God.  I was, after all, a good mother.  Maybe even a great one.

My third dream?  Interestingly, I didn’t even have the imagination for this one.  All I knew is that I loved books.  I grew up quite the bookworm, often getting lost in the library shelves at my school, rereading my favorites and discovering new volumes with glee.  Librarians loved seeing me come through the door and would guide to me the newest titles.  On Career Day, we students heard from laywers, doctors, policemen, and of course, teachers.  Not a single author in the bunch.  It never occurred to me I could become one.

So it is with great pride, humility, and joy that I share my latest news:  Color Mastery is a finalist for the Benjamin Franklin 2009 award for Best Craft Book of the year.  I am being recognized for excellence in publishing.  I’m a publisher.  Not just the author and quilt designer (which would be quite enough, thank you!), but I’m also the editorial director, sales and marketing team, and finance department.  It’s a job whose work never ends, but on most days it doesn’t seem like work.  Instead, it feels like. . . . .bliss.

So again, thanks God.  And thanks to all of the quilters who have been so loyal to me in supporting Color Mastery.  Quilters are really the big winners here, as you are getting some incredibly creative, beautiful, and outstanding books from independent presses.  In fact, all three finalists in the Craft category for the awards are quilting books.  Wow.

Come celebrate with me this enormous accomplishment.  It’s going to be a month-long party here and at my Color Mastery blog.  I’ll be holding contests, giving away stuff, and will be offering many surprises along the way.  Let the party begin!

My Kindle’s Here! My Kindle’s Here!

I’m like a kid at Christmas – my Kindle’s here!  After putting off buying one for too long, I’ve finally succumbed to Kindle love.  I’m an avid reader, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Kindle once Amazon lowered the price.  Now it’s here and guess who downloaded the first books?  My sons!  My younger son downloaded a classic Beverly Cleary book Ralph S. Mouse, and my older son downloaded the latest Alex Ryder novel.  This was after they tried a sample chapter first.  I took both boys to the doctor this morning with coughs and sore throats, and they devoured books on the Kindle en route.  It was beautiful silence.
A nice surprise – some quilt books are available on the Kindle.  Mostly the state documentation books, like Tenneessee Quilts, and all the photos are in black and white, but it’s lovely to have some quilt love on the Kindle too.
So excuse me, but I have to catch up on my reading.  And my first Kindle book?  The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister.  It’s a great novel about cooking and relationships, and I wanted to read it over the summer but couldn’t find it locally.  The Kindle makes reading so easy, especially for book lovers.  Goodbye Law & Order, hello novels.

Posted via email from mariapeagler’s posterous

Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks: Old Glory is Mine!

old-glory-by-maria-peagler

When Carolyn Beam from Quiltmaker asked me to participate in their 100 Blocks issue I was thrilled to contribute, as Quiltmaker is the magazine I recommend most to my students.  It’s a great learning tool, and their 100 Blocks collector’s issue does not disappoint.  It’s packed with appliqued, pieced, and mixed-technique blocks, so no matter what your taste, you’ll find something that you love and can’t wait to make.

qm100blockscover200px

Here’s a sneak peak at the behind-the-scenes detail of my block:

Inspiration: I used my color journal as I discuss in Color Mastery:  10 Principles for Creating Stunning Quilts.  You would think I already know what’s in my own journals as often as I write about them.  I was wowed by how many patriotic quilts and memorabilia I had pasted in those pages.  I have three patriotic quilts in my den (above the mantel, over the sofa, and on the foyer wall), but I knew a patriotic block would be a classic that quilters would love to make and use often.  I do wish I could have included photos of my journals here, but they are at Quilter’s Newsletter being photographed for an upcoming excerpt of my book.

Design: I adore simple, elegant blocks, and do not enjoy making quilt blocks with a lot of tiny little pieces.  It’s actually far more difficult to design a simple block that looks sophisticated than it is to make one with 70 pieces.  This one came together after I remembered my mission:  Connecting, Playing, and Longevity.  Old Glory connects me with so many other women of generations past who honored their country by making patriotic quilts.  Playing?  I had fun playing with the pinwheel design in the star area of the block.  I played with several options and decided on this version after I loved the movement it created.  And what block design could have more longevity than a patriotic block?  It’s one that will be made again and again.

Colors:
Red, white and blue of course, but which ones?  The flag block needs high contrast for each part of the design to show well.  I mapped the hue, value, and intensity of each color, so I’d know exactly which ones would work together to create harmony.  Blue is the easiest, as navy is the classic dark, dull blue used in most flags and quilt blocks.  So what about the red and white?  I went to my stash and found two red fabrics:  both pure red (no orange or raspberry hues) and they were a dull intensity and medium value.  The white fabrics were both bright white and would be more intense than cream or off white, but were needed to balance the navy and red.  I adore how they all coordinate to give a crisp look.

Construction: Here’s a secret:  all 1/4″ seams are not created equal.  For this block, and others I’m making for a quilt I designed for a fabric manufacturer’s block of the month, I find a true 1/4″ seam works well for strip piecing.  However, when you piece triangles, a scant 1/4″ is far more accurate, as a true 1/4″ makes the block too small.  Try it on the Old Glory block and it you’ll find this method works beautifully and gives super-accurate results.

I envision Old Glory set in a quilt with alternating plain blocks and lots of gorgeous feather quilting.  Wouldn’t it look great for July 4th?

Follow the 100 Blocks Blog Tour daily Nov. 9-13 at  for inspiration, ideas and giveaways! The collector’s issue is in your local quilt shop, or purchase it at the Quiltmaker website.

Here’s your own chance to win the issue and make your own quilt using Old Glory!  Leave a comment telling me how you would use Old Glory in your quilt or project, and I’ll choose a winner Thursday.  Watch here for your name to be announced!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Color Mastery Pincushion

I’m humbled and thrilled at the response from quilters and reviewers to Color Mastery.  I’m giving lectures and workshops, producing videos on color, and building relationships with quilters across the globe on my blog, email newsletter, Twitter, and Facebook.

I’m starting to work on my next book, talking to shop owners, industry experts, and fabric companies.  But the opinion that really counts?  Yours.  Quilters.  Real, honest-to-goodness, everyday quilters that make baby, bed, wall, memory, and every other kind of quilt.  I’m here to serve you.  Could you take a moment to help me?

I need to know what you look for and need in a quilting book.  I have my own ideas from my teaching, but I need your opinion.  As a small independent publisher, I must be wise in what I publish so I don’t enter into a subject over-published or compete with the big guys who have large advertising budgets.  Quilting books seem to have exploded lately, and I want to make sure I serve an area that needs it.  It’s what I did with Color Mastery:  saw a need and filled it.

And in gratitude for your time and response, I’m sending you a pincushion pattern immediately after you take the survey.  My way of saying thanks.

Click here to take the survey.  And keep an eye out for some really exciting content upcoming here at Quilts & Creativity.  2010 will be a super-creative year for all of us!

A Real Book’s Lasting Value

Color Mastery Fan

I want my work to last.  Longevity is one of the three main goals I have for my books.  The other two?  A post for another day.

I realized long ago that it took just as long to write a book that was trendy and out of print after two years as it did to write a classic.  And as a quilter and artist, I appreciate books that provide me with lessons for years to come.

Bookshelf

I often hear people complain about how expensive books are, which is why I go for those that provide me with lasting value.  I enjoy patterns, booklets, and other fun diversions.  But they don’t have the lasting value of a book.

Bookshelf 2

Color Mastery has nine quilt projects.  If you bought them individually in a pattern, each would average $15.00.  Multiply that times nine and you get $135.00.

Color Mastery also has 11 exercises, and has twelve months worth of class material.  I teach shop owners how they can offer a different class each month using the exercises and projects in the book.  A full-day class averages about $60.00, and 12 of them would be $720.00.

$135.00 worth of patterns/projects, and $720.00 worth of classes is a total of $855.00.  Still think a book is expensive?  Look’s like the world’s best bargain to me.

The real test of a book-lover’s book is this:  does it provide those things that make a reader’s life easier, that will make the book last, and makes it easy to find, or get more information?  I printed Color Mastery on museum-quality paper using the best photographer and printer in the industry.

I included an index to make information easy to find.  Look at the latest quilt book you bought:  I bet it doesn’t have one.  Publishers are skimping on this kind of stuff and betting you won’t notice.  Bibliographies too.  I want to know how to find out more information when I’m interested in a topic, and I know my readers do too.  And librarians love them.

Does the book’s binding last?  Is it sewn or glued?  Color Mastery’s is sewn, of course.  And it has a spine, so you can find it on a store shelf or your own.

Look for these qualities when you buy a book.  Be a discerning consumer.  Expect them in your books and ask for them.  And support quilt book authors who give you the best.

A Color Feast at Sew Bee It

First impressions mean a lot, and I was greeted with a feast of color and a warm welcome as I entered Sew Bee It quilt shop in Ringgold, GA.  Owner Gloria Black gave me a warm hug, introduced me to her fantastic staff, and gave me a tour around her incredible shop.

If I worked at Gloria’s shop, I’d be broke all the time, because every dime of my paycheck would go for the fabric she offers.  Tons of Kaffe Fasset, Amy Butler, Meinke, dupioni silk, beautiful threads and embellishments.  And the samples.  Lots of samples!  And book! I could go on, but you get the idea.  Gorgeous stuff.

We had about 70 quilters attend the lecture on color – a packed house for a small quilt shop!

I will definitely visit again when I have time for some retail therapy.  Until then, next stop:  Sew Much Fun in Columbus, GA!

Book Tour Fun

I’ve met wonderful women (and men) this week during the first half of the Color Mastery book tour. I’ll be featuring many of these creative folks in future posts and interviews, but here are a few photos first.

Debbie and Marie at Foxtales

Debbie and Marie were so much fun.  Marie used to work at Olan Mills, and she posed all of us for our photos.  You remember the drill:  turn to the side, chin up, hands on your lap.  We were all giggling during our photo session.

Foxtales Book Shoppe

Ellen and Kathy are two of the three women owners of Foxtales Book Shoppe in Woodstock.  What an AWESOME book store.  Really.  Wood paneling, comfy chairs, a children’s room, great personal service.  Will be on my list of shops to visit regularly.  They recommended books for my husband and both of my sons, and they all love them.  I had to do some book shopping, of course.

Coming up this week and next:  Dahlonega, Ringgold, Columbus, St. Simons, and Savannah.  Check out the tour map at Google maps and all the details at the Color Mastery book blog.  I hope to meet you on the tour!

I just talked to Sandi at Colonial Quilts in Savannah, and she was on her way to post a flyer in the local motorcycle shop.  She said many women motorcyclists are also quilters.  Who knew?  That’s a stop I can’t wait to do!

Easy Applique Blocks Book Launch Party

Welcome to the launch party for Kay Mackenzie’s terrific new book, Easy Applique Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes from Martingale & Company / That Patchwork Place!

Easy Applique Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes

I’m pleased to host Kay here at Quilts and Creativity, and to be the first stop on her Book-A-Round blog tour. You’ll get to meet Kay, hear the first-hand dish on her new book on appliqué, enjoy quiltini cocktails and tasty treats (recipes follow), and everyone gets a gift from Kay and a chance to win a copy of Easy Applique Blocks. Wow – what a party!

Let’s Meet Kay

kay-mackenzie-2008.gif

Kay Mackenzie and I first met through our mutual friend and photographer, Gregory Case (The Photo Man for The Quilt Show). He introduced us and then we ran into each other at 2008 Spring Quilt Market twice!

Maria: Kay, please tell us a little about yourself, what drew you to appliqué, and your previous authoring/publishing work.

Kay: I grew up in North Carolina, went to school in Colorado, then lived in Los Angeles for a number of years. During all that time I had not one stitch of quilting heritage. I started in a beginning quilting class about 17 years ago after I got married and we were living in central Ohio. When I told my instructor that I enjoyed the Dresden Plate the most out of all the blocks in the sampler, she told me, “You just might be an appliqué person.” I still wonder whether that observation shaped my destiny, because it turned out to be so true!

A peculiar combination of interests in my strange brain led me to become an appliqué designer and a publisher of books for quilters… quilting, computer illustration, writing, editing, typography, and page layout all combined!

My company is Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs with six titles in print. Up until now my most famous books have been Teapots to Appliqué (now out of print) and Teapots 2 to Appliqué. Quilter love teapots (of course I had to put a couple of them in Easy Appliqué Blocks too).

You might ask, who’s the Quilt Puppy? He’s Willie, my little papillon dog! He’s been my boon companion in the sewing room for 14 years now.

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Willie thinks that boxes of scraps are very comfy.

Ever since I started designing and publishing, I had it as a goal to be traditionally published also. I’m so very excited that my flip-side goal has come true with Easy Appliqué Blocks!

Maria: What I love about your new book is it gives quilters an EZ Button for applique. So many of my friends and students are hesitant to try the “A” word (as they like to call appliqué), and you’ve given them a no-excuses guide. You offer 50 designs for people who don’t feel confident about drawing their own, each design is in 5 sizes so you don’t have to enlarge or reduce, and you even offer different methods for applique, understanding that no one method works for everyone.

Kay: I love that! An EZ button! It’s so true! Easy Appliqué Blocks has a whole library of fresh new appliqué block designs, easy to sew, in a variety of styles ranging from traditional-looking to modern, fun, and whimsical. Something for everyone.

Appliqué fans can use their own favorite method, or learn about a new one, because the book includes detailed, illustrated instructions for three kinds of appliqué. For hand stitchers, there’s freezer-paper-on-top and back-basting (aka no-template) preparation, plus information on hand-stitching smooth curves, pointy points, and sharp notches. There’s also an overview of raw-edge fusible machine appliqué.

The bonus CD makes it a breeze! It works with PC or Mac. No more more trips to the copy shop, figuring of percentages, distortion, crooked enlarging, or tracing reversed patterns. The patterns print out ‘like butter.’ Stick the CD into your computer and print out the blocks you’ve chosen in the size you want, from 6″ up to 12″. Larger sizes will automatically print in sections that will tape back together perfectly. Reversed versions are also included.

Maria: What do you find is the biggest obstacle quilters have with applique, and how have you addressed it with your book?

Kay: Yes, the infamous “A” word thing :). I think the biggest obstacle that quilters have with appliqué is when they haven’t been shown the little things that can make a big difference. They spend a lot of time on their appliqué but aren’t happy with the results. That can lead to frustration. In this new book, I share every single thing I know about appliqué, with lots of details and illustrations that will help with smooth curves, pointy points, and sharp notches.

The second biggest obstacle is thinking they need to appliqué a certain way, or that one way is better than another. If they prefer handwork, good! If they’d rather appliqué by machine, also good! It’s all good.

Maria: How is Easy Appliqué Blocks different from other applique books?

Kay: It’s like a block library or resource center for appliqué fans. The variety of designs is right there at their fingertips whenever they need one block or many. I can’t wait to see quilters unleash their creativity and go to town with the blocks! Besides the 50 blocks, the instructions for three kinds of appliqué are great… I’m especially excited about the section on back-basting, because I think that method has been flying along under the radar. And, the bonus CD is such an added value. It was my concept and I’m so happy that Martingale went with it. They did a fantastic job.

Party Refreshments

Quiltini Cocktail

  • martini glass
  • Ocean Spray cranberry cocktail juice
  • Lemon-lime soda or club soda

Mix half cranberry cocktail juice with half lemon-lime or club soda. Stir. Enjoy.

Cheese Puffs

Crispy/airy/chewy, delicious and savory bites of flavor!

  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (if you like spicy, use 1/2 tsp.)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, not sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Grate cheese. (For best results, do not use pre-grated cheese.) Cream cheese together with butter. Mix dry ingredients together and add in 3 parts to cheese mixture. Roll into little marbles and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes at 350 degrees. They should not get too brown. Cool slightly on cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Brownie Pizza

  • 1 package devil’s food cake mix w/pudding
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-round pizza pan with vegetable oil. Place cake mix, melted butter, milk, egg, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop, scrape down the sides, and beat 1-2 minutes more on medium speed. Pour brownie batter into pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Immediately top with chocolate chips, walnuts, and any other delicious toppings you desire.

What’s a Party without Gifts?

Kay is offering everyone at the party this gift: a downloadable Table of Contents plus the Introduction and How to Use the CD. You get the first look at Kay’s great new book! Here’s the link:


Easy Applique Blocks Table of Contents/Introduction/How to Use The CD

Win a Copy of Easy Appliqué Blocks

Kay is giving away an autographed copy of her brand new book to one lucky winner here at Quilts and Creativity. You must comment today by 6:30 p.m. EST to win, and I’ll select the winner at 7:00p.m. Leave a comment telling Kay what sounds most interesting about her book, and the name of your local quilt guild. Good luck!

Host your own Easy Appliqué Blocks party at your quilt guild or bee: members bring a completed block from the book, serve the quiltinis, cheese puffs, and brownie pizza, put all the blocks together in a top, and draw names for the winner! What a fun girls’ nite out!

Here’s where to find the book: Ask for Easy Appliqué Blocks at your favorite quilt shop. It’s also available from the Martingale website, Amazon, and Kay’s website.

Kay: Thank you so much Maria for throwing a terrific party! Readers, thanks for coming along on this first stop in the Book-A-Round. There are 9 more stops to go, so start off at All About Appliqué through April 5 and I’ll shoot you off through the blogosphere to the next location. See you there!

Maria: Thanks Kay for stopping by and joining us. Wishing you and your readers much fun and success with appliqué in Easy Appliqué Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes.

Chatting About Color at the Book Launch Party

I’ve got an entire gallery of photos from the book launch party over at the Color Mastery book blog.  Here are the personal ones:

My younger son announcing the winners of door prizes.  He was all smiles, sneaking sweet treats, picking out fat quarters, and giving me hugs throughout the evening.

My older son would quietly rub my shoulders as I was signing and talking; he was also the photographer for the evening.

My husband David talking to one of my best quilting friends, Pat.  They were both so proud and thrilled for me.

My friend and cheerleader Kay and her granddaughter.  Thank you, Kay, for the wonderful book title!  Kay attended a quilting retreat last year at my home, during which I floated several titles for the book.  Later that week Kay sweetly suggested several other titles, which were terrific, and Color Mastery was the winner!

And finally . . . me.  I’m all smiles after all the two years of loving working that went into Color Mastery.  It was a night to celebrate it all.  Thank you to everyone who came out to support me, Jeanne, and quilting.  Jeanne was thrilled with the shop’s sales that evening.  I was giddy over the book’s sales, and quilters had a blast eating, drinking, and getting tips about color.

I’d be delighted to visit your local quilt shop and do a book signing, lecture, or class.  Tell them about the book, and show them the blog.  I’ve got a page at the book blog just for quilt shops.  I look forward to seeing you at your local shop or quilt guild!

February Newsletter Hot Off the Press

February’s Quilts & Creativity newsletter went out this week, and I can’t wait for you to see it. It includes last-minute details on my book launch this Friday, an opportunity to win a color consultation with me, the scoop on fresh, innovative spring color palettes, a sneak peek at a new product I’ll be announcing at the end of this month, an opportunity for me to visit your bee group in March, and a fabulous burger recipe.

I’ve really changed the way I develop and offer lessons on this blog. I save the detailed lessons for my newsletter, as it’s easier to give a deep treatment to subjects in a format that spans several pages. I chat about personal stuff, announcements, ideas, and anything else that comes to mind on the blog. But if you want the lessons, sign up for the newsletter by clicking on the Newsletter tab at the top of the blog.

You can see back issues of the Quilts & Creativity newsletter here.

Top Ten Reasons to Independently Publish

One of the big questions any author considers is “who’s the best publisher for my book?”  After writing eight books, being published by four different publishers, and independently publishing my own books, my answer has changed over time.  I’ve been published by big houses like Tab and McGraw-Hill, I’ve had a literary agent, and I’ve published myself.  Color Mastery I published through my own “indie press,” Willow Ridge Press, and here are my top ten reasons why:

  1. Present Innovative Content. Groundbreaking ideas rarely come from big, established companies, because they’re too entrenched in their own systems.  Color Mastery takes a totally unique and innovative approach to not only color in quilting, but how it provides a road map and focuses on exercises and building great color skills.
  2. Hire the Best. I’ve published two books on my own, and managed a publishing group, and I know how essential hiring the best talent is to the outcome of any book.  Many self-publishers do everything themselves and that’s a mistake.  I hired the best quilt photographer, illustrator, book designer, technical editor, and content editor I could find.  And it shows.  Color Mastery is beautiful, a great read, has excellent photos, and easy-to-follow instructions.
  3. Know Your Audience. That’s the first rule for any writing, is to know who you’re writing for.  I know from my quilting classes that all quilters, from newbies to art quilters, have burning questions about color.  I also know they make a diverse range of quilts, from originally-designed art quilts to baby quilts to reproduction quilts, and they all need color advice.  Color Mastery includes color wisdom any quilter can use, not just quilters who want to make vibrant, in-your-face with color quilts.
  4. Become an Entrepreneur. The world of publishing is much more accessible with the internet.  I can talk to a printer in China, my photographer in California, and my Brazilian illustrator in Washington state easily.  And I can develop distributions channels far more efficient than other companies, saving you money and making the book more affordable.
  5. Develop Relationships. I meet everyone involved in the quilting industry, from quilters in my classes, to shop owners, quilting wholesalers, book authors, pattern designers, and fabric manufacturers.  Because I’m involved in every aspect of my book, from content, to print, to sales and distribution, I’ve met wonderful people I never would have as an author insulated from the industry.
  6. Get the Attention You Deserve.  My literary agent represented over 100 authors.  Big publishing companies produce hundreds of products, from books to CDs, each year, and you get a miniscule slice of their attention.  Most authors don’t realize how little time they’ll actually spend with their editors.  By publishing myself, I get face time with my team when I need it.  I don’t feel lost in a revolving door of authors and products.
  7. Build an Evergreen Title. What’s that?  An evergreen title is one that stays in print a long time, rather than being a fad than lasts only a year or two.  After writing a couple of books, I realized it took just as much effort to write a book that would last for 10 or 20 years as it did to write a book about a fad that would last only one to two years.  And when I buy books, I go for longevity as well.  Trends are fun, but the good stuff lasts and hold lessons for me for years to come.
  8. Earn More. Most authors are horribly surprised at how tiny their royalty checks are and how long it takes to actually get them.  It’s not unusual to wait 18 months to two years for your first royalty check – the author is the last to be paid in the publishing chain.  And if you get an advance, you may never earn more than that.  Most authors also don’t realize they must buy copies of their own books from the publisher, so if you want to speak and sell your books, you must buy them first.  As an independent publisher, I keep far more of my books’ earnings, and I get them sooner.  However, as the publisher I also put up the capital to hire the team and print the book.  Ultimately, I made an investment in myself.
  9. Turn Your Book into Opportunities. A book is just the beginning of my career, and it serves as the ultimate business card.  From one book I’ll develop additional products, book speaking engagements, be offered opportunities to design quilts, fabric, and who knows what else?  Because I have closer relationships with players in the industry, I’m one of the first they think of when it comes to partnerships.
  10. Own the Copyright. Never, ever write a book and let the publisher own the copyright.  I’m devastated when I see women work tirelessly to develop a book and the quilt projects in it, only to practically give it away to a publisher who then owns the copyright.  Basically, you’ve just done a “work for hire” and you have no rights whatsoever to that work ever again.  I value my work and talent far more than that, and so should you.  Don’t give your work away.

I know I had loads of questions as a newbie author, and it’s tough to know who to trust.  Join me over at LibraryThing’s author chat and I’ll be happy to answer any question you have about quilting, writing, or the publishing process.  See you there!

Teapots 2 Applique – Twelve Days of Christmas Giveaway

Today’s gift is the beautiful book Teapots 2 Applique by Kay Mackenzie of Quilt Puppy Publications.  Kay has written an entire line of applique books, each centered around a different theme. Teapots 2 to Appliqué includes 16 creative teapots to appliqué using your favorite method.  Includes a sampler quilt pattern if you’d like to show off your whole collection of teapots.

Kay specializes in and includes instructions for back-basting (aka no-template) hand appliqué. However, as Kay says in the introduction, “Whether your style is raw-edge, prepared-edge, or needle-turn, fusing or stitching, by hand or machine — pick your favorite teapots and have fun! Make one or many, small or large. Turn them, group them, set a tea table with them. The quilts you make will celebrate your own style and personality.”

You can design your own teapot-themed wall quilts, table runners, placemats, tea towels or garments. The designs are a terrific way jump start to your creativity! No two projects will be alike as you search for that perfect fabric to represent a beautiful china pattern.

And the winner of yesterday’s Creative Grid 16.5″ ruler?  Martha B. come on down!  You’re the big winner!  Send your mailing address to me at maria [at] colormastery [dot] com.  Congratulations!

2008 Best Craft/Hobby Books

I adore books.  Really.  I would buy books before food and clothes, and when I go into a quilt shop I always look at what the new books are.  So I was excited to see USABookNews.com’s picks for best Craft/Hobbies books.  Take a peek and see how many quilting and sewing-related titles are here.

Looking for a gift for a fellow quilter?  Here’s the list:

Winner:

The Color Book of Beaded Jewelry

by Genevieve A. Sterbenz
Creative Homeowner
978-1-58011-348-9

Finalist:
Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth by Ryana Gillman
C & T Publishing
978-1571204394

Finalist:
Knitbook: The basics & beyond by the Editors at Landauer
Landauer Corporation
978-0980068832

Finalist:
Machine Quilting: The basics & beyond – The Complete Step-by-Step Visual Guide to Successful Machine Quilting by Lynn Witzenburg
978-0-9793711-3-4

Finalist:
Oh Sew Easy Life Style by Valori Wells & Carolyn Spencer
C & T Publishing
978-157120-444-8

Finalist:
Simply Stunning Woven Quilts by Anna Faustino
C & T Publishing
978-1571204-523

Finalist:
The Games of War: A Treasury of Rules for Battles with Toy Soldiers, Ships and Planes by John Bobek
AuthorHouse
978-1-4343-3028-4

Finalist:
The Siblings’ Busy Book by Lisa Hanson & Heather Kempskie
Meadowbrook Press
978-0-684-05785-9

USABookNews.com – Covering what’s Hot, New, & Noteworthy in the World of Books

Holiday Goodies in My November Newsletter

The November issue is out, and I included some incredible articles:

  • how to keep a color journal
  • how to orchestrate the colors in a “blended-type” quilt
  • a fabulous source for free machine quilting patterns
  • my favorite cranberry sauce recipe
  • details on my Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway

You are on the email list, right?  Well, if not, you can sign up here.  Really.  Great stuff this month.  Hope you don’t miss it.

Quilt Project Runway: Meg Cox, Quilting Evangelist

I profiled Meg Cox, author of The Quilter’s Catalog: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, months ago here, and I attended her session at Fall Quilt Market.  Meg is the new evangelist for all things quilting, her goal being to create new quilters in the 85% of American households that don’t have one.  Can it really be that high?

Meg holds “Learn to Quilt” parties where she teaches women and girls how to quilt:  just the basics like how to pin, piece by hand, and tie a quilt. Oh, and they serve “Quiltinis” – a mock cocktail.   She approaches nontraditional venues such as bookstores, mother’s groups, and other social gathering locations where women hang out.

The interesting comment Meg made was this:  Quilters can be our own worst enemies when it comes to growing the quilting community, because we make things so complicated.

You know what?  I agree.  Go to any guild Show and Tell and the oohs and aahs go to the 3000-pieces Grandmother’s Flower Garden, the king-size Mariner’s Compass, or other such masterpiece quilts.  And we should be impressed.  But what happens when a quilter holds up a Turning Twenty or Yellow Brick Road?  Quiet smiles and nods.  Move on.  Seen it.

Let’s embrace all quilters:  new, expert, traditional, art.  We all love fabric, creating beauty, and the comraderie of other quilters.  Let’s spread the word!

Quilt Project Runway: Color Mastery’s Photo Man


Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

Ok, so he’s The Photo Man for The Quilt Show too.  Gregory took all the gorgeous photos of the quilts in Color Mastery, and he is a large part of why the book turned out so beautifully.  After all, the colors in the quilts had to be not just lovely to look at, but accurate as well in a book on color for quilters.  And Gregory and his wife Elena Morena worked diligently to bring you gorgeous color, page-after-page.

They have their own book they’ve just published, written by Gwen Marston, called Ideas and Inspirations:  Abstract Quilts in Solids:

They had a copy at Market and it was pure Gwen – gorgeously designed quilts, all done in solids, and hand-quilted.  I’ll be ordering my own autographed copy.  My Christmas wish list is getting bigger and bigger!

Color Mastery Now Available for Pre-Order!

It’s a big day in the Willow Ridge Press studio.  Color Mastery is now listed on my distributor’s website at AtlasBooks.com.  You can pre-order your own copy and be one of the first to hold it in your own hands.  I decided to use a distributor for book sales and fulfillment so I can concentrate on what I enjoy most:  quilting, teaching, and writing.  I focus on what I do best, and AtlasBooks does a much better job of packing and shipping the book to you than I would.

Color Mastery is also available for pre-order over at Amazon, and will be in your local quilt shop in February.  What if you don’t have a local quilt shop, like in my town?  You can always order online, or directly from me, and I’ll even autograph it.

When I wrote Color Mastery, I challenged myself to make beautiful quilts with extraordinary color using only the fabrics in my stash.  That has become even more important lately with the recent economic news:  when food, gas, and energy are rising and incomes are dropping, what happens to the “fun stuff” like buying fabric and quilting?  Usually it’s the first to go!  But it doesn’t have to.  That’s where Color Mastery comes in.  It’s the only quilting book on color designed to be used with your stash, showing you it is possible to squeeze better color from the fabrics you’ve already got.

And here are two special gifts, that if ordered separately, would be $39.95, available exclusively and instantly for my early bird orders:

  • a special pattern for a color wheel pincushion
  • a collection of every technique (over 50!!) in Color Mastery for getting better color from your stash.

These two bonuses are a special thank you to my readers that order the book early.  That way, you can go ahead and get started on fantastic color from your stash, even before the book arrives.

Just send me (info@colormastery.com) your AtlasBooks or Amazon transaction number, and I’ll email the special gifts to your inbox – you don’t even have to walk to the mailbox.

I’ll even add a third special gift if you include the email address of your quilt guild newsletter editor, so I can tell them about some free articles available from Color Mastery to guilds.  Don’t you just love getting surprises, exclusively for you, in your mailbox?

Olympics in China: That’s Not All!

Can anybody read Chinese?

Can anybody read Chinese?

The Olympics aren’t the only exciting thing occurring in China. This package arrived on my doorstep from Hong Kong: the bluelines for Color Mastery. I sure wish I knew what this said. I’m sure it’s something quite boring, like “folio 1 of 7,” but the writing looks so elegant.

Color Mastery color proofs

Color Mastery color proofs

I’ve been poring over (thanks Marla!) these proofs to make sure the colors are dead-on accurate. I drove Gregory Case, my photographer, crazy with my questions and his constant assurances that, yes, the colors would be accurate even though they didn’t look that way on my monitor. Gregory was a therapist before being a photographer, and he told me I needed to take the leap and experience the result, even if I made a mistake. Wow, therapy and photography all from one guy!

I took these proofs with me everywhere this week: home, carpooling, even pee-wee football practice. Quite the contrary to Alicia’s experience when she and her husband Andy secluded themselves in a quiet diner to look over hers for her book. I remember those days, bc (before children).

My pee-wee football player

My pee-wee football player

Here’s son #2 in his pads and uniform, ready to hit somebody! This is a new experience for me, and not an easy one. Watching my son get knocked to the ground repeatedly during practice is tough. And for 7-year-olds, there’s no such thing as a clean hit: they grab onto anything they can to bring you down: shirt, mask, hit from the back. My husband tells me the goal for son #2 is to get through practice without quitting or crying. He will, but I might not.

From Sketchbook to Art Quilt

(You’re gonna want to scroll down for this one.) So what does all this stuff about sketching have to do with quilting? It prepares you for the single moment that inspiration strikes. I want to make a quilt of a house, a bird, a cup of coffee. I want to make a bow-tie quilt, log cabin. I can’t wait to use that new fabric. Now you have a rich repository from which to draw images from. You’ve “filled the well” as Julia Cameron would say in her seminal work, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity [10th Anniversary Edition] .

Here’s one path from sketch to original art quilt. I started with several thumbnail sketches, not really sure how I wanted to capture this gorgeous valley.

First Thumbnail

First Thumbnail

Second Thumbnail

Second Thumbnail

Third Thumbnail

Third Thumbnail

Fourth Thumbnail

Fourth Thumbnail

I went with thumbnail #3, as I loved the vertical composition and the feeling I was at the top of the peak looking down. I captured the image on muslin using watercolor crayons, and here it is being auditioned for a border to serve as a frame:

Final Piece:  Which Border?

Final Piece: Which Border?

And here it is on my design wall ready to be quilted:

Art Quilt on Design Wall

Art Quilt on Design Wall

All the preparation in my sketchbooks readied me for this quilt. Funny, it didn’t feel like preparation. It felt more like time was flying by, being the in flow, capturing the images and moments that held meaning for me. Truly, the best part of being an artist. Dreaming, sketching, and quilting.

I love my job, don’t you?

Note of interest: The tiny building in the background (best seen in Thumbnail #1) burned to the ground months after I did this sketch. It was a local restaurant that held many memories for me and neighbors in my community. Now it has been immortalized in a work of art. See what I mean by capturing meaning? I had no idea of the unfortunate event that would come, nor do you ever know all the layers a work of art potentially holds. Until you actually create it.

Capturing the Moments

A family day at a Braves game

A family day at a Braves game

At some point in my sketchbooks, I stopped using them as a place for only my ideas and inspiration, but also as a place to capture the daily moments of my life by drawing them. My husband had given me the book How to Make a Journal of Your Life , and it really enhanced my journaling style. Dan Price has been detailing the minutiae of his life for decades, drawing things as simple as the interior of the car as he rides with friends. His drawing style is simplistic and far from perfect, but that’s what makes it beautiful. He’s not attempting to create a masterpiece; rather, he’s making art of his everyday life in his own hand, his own style.

I still drew only sporadically until last year, when again my sweet husband gave me another book for Christmas: Danny Gregory’s Creative License, The: Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly Are. Danny begins drawing his days after his wife is hit by a subway train and becomes a paraplegic. Like Dan, he draws the little details that make up our lives: what he has for dinner, his dog, the interior of his medicine cabinet. And he is insistent that you make drawing a daily habit: do bad drawings, sketch things wrongly, but just do it and learn as you go.

I don’t sketch daily, but weekly, yes. Sometimes more than once a week. I draw more often when I’m on vacation, as I have more time and I want to remember the places I’ve been and what we were doing.

Eating out in St. Simon's Island

Eating out in St. Simon's Island

This journal I made by hand, after reading on WhipUp about a great book called How to Make Books (see the link in my sidebar). I made this little journal from old blue jeans, drawing paper and watercolor papers. It is always with me in my purse, and holds my sketches, summaries of books I’ve read, and even my grocery list. It’s a little journal of my life.

And now I draw things I would never have imagined as important or even beautiful.

Items on a side table next to a plan for a medallion quilt

Items on a side table next to a plan for a medallion quilt

But they are beautiful, because they are my life.

My Journals’ Humble Beginnings

Abstract drawing from my journal

Abstract drawing from my journal

Keeping a journal has transformed my art. It’s hard to believe initially I resisted keeping a journal of any kind, as writing is my profession and I didn’t want to do more of it at home. Surely I keep visual journals and sketchbooks as well, but I started by keeping a simple journal of things I was grateful for every day.

I tried to list 100 things to be grateful for in my life - went well over!

I tried to list 100 things to be grateful for in my life - went well over!

I got this idea from Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and also the idea of a Discovery Journal. From these humble beginnings came my sketchbooks and quilting journals I’ll be sharing with you later.

Color Mastery: 10 Principles for Creating Stunning Quilts

Color Mastery Cover Sneak Peek

Congratulations – it’s a book! This is a sneak peek from the cover of the upcoming book I’ve been hinting at:

Color Mastery: 10 Principles for Creating Stunning Quilts

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know how passionate I am about color. Now, I’m sharing that passion with you, and giving you a glimpse at the book throughout the week.

Color Mastery will be available in your local quilt shop in February ’09. That sounds like a date in the distant future, but it will be here before we know it! I’ll be attending my first quilt market this May to meet and greet with distributors to ensure the book will be available in your area, even if it’s internationally!

Note to international readers: send me the link or email for your local quilt shop and I’ll chat with them to find out their distributor who supplies their books. I’m at mariapeagler(at)tds(dot)net.

Look for a blog I’m developing that will be solely about Color Mastery. I’ll then be returning to the regular content I do on this site: quilting, creativity, life, and and how they all interact.

Next up: Color Mastery’s Table of Contents. Be the first to get a top-secret look into the chapters and projects that will open your eyes to the world of artistic color in your quilts!