July 31, 2009

Seaching for a Starry Night Contest Reminder!

Don't forget the contest for Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery.

Simply buy an ebook at B&N.com (only $5!!) or get a print copy at Echelon/Quake - let me know you got it and you put up a review. Your name will be added for a free mini room kit! Fun for all ages!

July 29, 2009

First Graphs: Makeovers Can Be Murder by Kathryn Lilley

Today's excerpt is from the upcoming mystery, MAKEOVERS CAN BE MURDER (NAL) by Kathryn Lilley.

It will be published Sept. 1 (and is now available for preorder.) It is the third book in the Fat City Mysteries, published by NAL.

Makeovers Can Be Murder

Everyone wants a body to die for.

Especially me. My name is Kate Gallagher, and I'm a perfect size sixteen, which is an unperfect size for someone in my line of work.

I'm a reporter in TV news--a field where any female bigger than a size two is practically an endangered species. Zaftig gals like me are vulnerable members of the newsroom herd, so I have to spend much of my time beating off the News Barbies, who are constantly on the prowl for my job.

In broadcasting the law of the jungle is up or out, but for mostly cosmetic reasons (174 of them, last time I checked in with the scale), my career has stalled in my adopted hometown of Durham, North Carolina. For me the town might as well be called Fat City.

* Check out Kathryn's Tuesday posts on the Kill Zone blog.

* See the Fat City book videos

* Buy:

July 27, 2009

New Miniatures Feature: Shelly Norris' Enchanted Florals

Today I'm sharing an excerpt of a story I wrote about the amazing miniature "enamel" flowers made by artisan Shelly Norris.

(Pictured: Pink Peonies)

The story is in the just published Sept. '09 issue (#183) of DollsHouse and Miniature Scene (UK).

Shelly Norris, Creator of Enamel Flowers

By Christine Verstraete

There are miniaturists who have a way of making paper flowers look like the real thing. Then there is Coloradoan Shelly Norris who has the Midas touch, making gold trimmed flowers that look like delicate enamel or cloisonné.

Shelly says all it took was trying to make one flower using this decades old technique. Now she wouldn’t think of stopping.

Shelly’s fascination with what she calls enamel flowers began when she found directions in an old issue of the Nutshell News magazine.

(Pictured: Japanese iris, Miniatures Only auction)

She talked to another miniaturist who was no longer making the flowers and decided to give the technique a try.For the past four years, Shelly has developed a full range of enamel flowers in a range of colours, sizes and varieties.

She sells the flowers individually for gardens, as plants, in pots, or for decorative pieces under the name Enchanted Florals by Shelly. She has also used the flowers to decorate her own handmade hats with great success.

The flowers have a wonderful, stained glass sheen and a delicate glow that can’t be matched by paper or clay flowers, no matter how skillfully made. They range from the always popular irises and tulips, to lovely peonies, dramatic roses, poppies, and amazing trellises full of climbing wisteria.

* Continue reading rest of partial excerpt at DollsHouse and Miniature Scene. The issue also includes Shelly's fantastic tutorial to make your own miniature enamel flower for a doll necklace.

See more of Shelly's Work:

* Shelly's blog: Enchanted Florals

* Her Twist Again Floral classes

July 25, 2009

Pink Saturday: More Miniatures

Participating in PINK SATURDAY at Beverly's blog, How Sweet the Sound was so much fun last week that I'm back for more! I found so many amazing blogs and still have to go through them. I look forward to meeting other bloggers this week, too.

What's pink this week?

* My Tudor Tea Shoppe uses soft shades of pink. I have a few small photos up on my website's miniature Teapot Shoppe page. (click images for larger photo).

* My Victorian sitting room is pink also. The curtains and ceiling light are hand-beaded. The ceiling (not shown) has small framed art surrounded by strings of "pearls."

* This lovely lady sitting at a table with pink decorations is also from my Teapot Shoppe. Of course, she's reading a replica copy of my real-life kid's mystery, Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery from Quake.

(** See yesterday's post about the new ebook at Barnes & Noble.com for a great contest!!)

The Book:

The "real" book, for ages 9+ (adults too!) features friends Sam, and her bff, Lita, who along with a mischievous Dachshund named Petey, face an angry housekeeper, a dog-hating gardener, and an ancient family curse as they search for a missing miniature replica of Van Gogh's famous painting, "Starry Night." (Plus they encounter some fabulous miniatures, many from my own collection! I welcome more readers, so be sure to get your copy!)

The miniature book (which I had made for me, see link to Lee Ann's books below) includes chapter one from the real-life book. (You can read or download the actual chapter of Searching for a Starry Night here. )

* So just a few scenes I hope you've enjoyed! Please stop by my website or come back to the blog anytime. If you read my book, I'd love to hear your comments!

Other Pink Minis to Check Out:

* The miniature Searching for a Starry Night book in the doll's hands is by artisan Lee Ann Borgia. Be sure to check out more of her amazing miniature books.

* See Kim's amazing shabby roses

* Pretty handpainted platter at Paris Miniatures

* Kitty's pretty miniature lady's blouses and boxes

July 24, 2009

Searching For A Starry Night: New Ebook at Barnes & Noble.com and Contest!

New Ebook of Searching For A Starry Night at B&N.com

Barnes and Noble is getting into the ebook business.

Searching For A Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery by Christine Verstraete is now available in ebook format at B&N.com. (Barnes & Noble.com)

Ebooks are GREEN! and a great bargain! B&N.com is now giving another alternative to readers - great for the Iphone, Palm, etc.

(**To celebrate the launch, keep reading for fantastic contest details!)


Sam and her bff, Lita, along with a mischievous Dachshund named Petey, face an angry housekeeper, a dog-hating gardener, and an ancient family curse as they search for a missing miniature replica of Van Gogh's famous painting, "Starry Night."

** 2009 Eppie Award finalist, children's/ya category, for ebook version. **

** Buy at B&N.com

* Also published in trade paperback from Quake

** A fun mystery for ages 9+.**

* Read reviews and read/download Chapter One at author's website.


Ok - remember the post I did on the miniature rooms in a bag the kids made at the library? (Pictured is my sample bag.)

** Win your own room in a bag kit!!**

* Rules:

Here's how to win:

Simply BUY an ebook of Searching For A Starry Night at ** B&N.com ** - and submit a review on the site. Email me (chrisATcverstraete.com) once your review is up. Your name will be entered for a chance to win a complete room in a bag kit.

(NOTE: I won't penalize you if you buy a print copy - either through Quake or at B&N.com, or even Amazon.com - but the same rules apply - you must put up a review and email me to let me know. See links above, or in side column of blog.)

Prize kit includes: 1 prepared bag, plastic insert, cut foam core board, back sheet of scrapbook paper, and a puzzle furniture kit! Enough furniture to make many rooms!! (Sorry US shipping only!)

Overseas winners: (Europe and UK Only)
Instead of the full furniture kit, I will include enough furniture (punched out and bagged) to furnish the room. State which you prefer: bath, bedroom (full or twin bed), kitchen or living room.

** Even if you don't do minis, try a new hobby. Or give the kit to someone else or your kids/grandkids to try. It could be a fun family project too!**

Contest ends: Aug. 31, 2009 or until I get at least 25 entries. Help me make it a bestseller!!

Good luck!

July 23, 2009

Thursday is Yellow Miniatures

It's my favorite color, so for fun, I thought I'd share some dolls from other miniaturists that celebrate the color YELLOW!

All dolls are one-inch scale - 1" = 1 foot. (So an adult would be 5 1/2" to 6" tall; a baby is under 2" long.)

The girl in the yellow-print dress is by artist Gina Gagnon of Lone Wolf Miniatures.

Looks like she's ready to meet Tom Sawyer at the pond. Also by Gina Gagnon.

This absolutely delightful baby, Martine, is by artisan Patty Clark. Her babies are so real, you expect them to move!

This pretty lady was made by my friend Kitty in Holland. Check out her wonderful miniatures!

* Hope you enjoyed a different look at teh color Yellow! Do visit the sites of these wonderful miniaturists!

July 22, 2009

First Graphs: GOLD DIGGER by Vicki Delany

Today starts a new ongoing feature that will highlight the opening paragraphs of interesting mystery, horror, romance and children's books. I hope you'll stop by each week and sample the start to some wonderful books!

Author Vicki Delany kicks it off with her historical mystery, GOLD DIGGER, A Klondike Mystery (Rendezvous Crime, April 2009) from Rendezvous Crime. The book is set in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Love the cover!

Excerpt from GOLD DIGGER:

“Bloody hell,” Angus said.

For the first time in his life, I didn’t reprimand my son for swearing.

He had been in his room, sitting up in bed, concentrating on his school book, when I’d knocked and entered. I tried not to notice the penny-dreadful concealed in the folds of the geography tome.

“I have to go to the Savoy,” I said, as he stuffed the book under his pillow. “I might have made a mistake in the ledger, and I want to check.”

“Can’t it wait until tomorrow?”

“It can. But I can’t. Do you want to come with me?”


In this town, I didn’t need a protector to walk the streets after dark (or at least what passed for dark), but I wanted my son’s company. He’d been distant of late. Growing up, probably. It had to happen, someday, but I intended to hold the forces of nature back as long as humanly possible.

Angus took my arm as we walked. It was a Sunday in June of 1898, and the town of Dawson, Yukon Territory, was as orderly as an orphanage expecting an imminent visit from Lady Bountiful. The streets were quiet; most people were at home resting after their evening meal. If they were lucky enough to have a home. And a meal.

* Read more at vickidelany.com/

* Visit Vicki Delany's blog, Type M 4 Murder

* Buy: Amazon.com

July 21, 2009

Food in Miniature

I think one of the best - and most fascinating - things about miniatures is the food. What artisans can do with clay and simple tools can leave you speechless. I only wish I were that good.

As I posted on creative foods today at Teen Seen, (check out another food video there), I thought I'd share a few of my favorite miniature food places and artisans.

Warning: Look no further on an empty stomach!!!

* Among my favorites: the incredible food of artisan Betsy Niederer; check out her You Tube video below:

* Other amazing miniature food:

* Rachel makes the most amazing cakes (and the coolest food earrings!)- Miniatures by Rachel

* Joana at Petite Framboise has creamy rich ice cream and yummy cakes

* Stephanie at Petit Plat has some wonderful desserts (and scroll down to the fun ice cream earrings!) Who says you can't play with your food? ha!

* Kiva Atkinson makes some unique food - check out her fish pie!

* Like Tudor and more? Janet Uyetake's food is amazing! I finally saw her food at a past show and it's so real (items even have realistic insides when needed).

* The Mini Food Blog features a wide range of amazing artisans and miniature food.

* Hungry yet???

July 20, 2009

Renaissance Inspiration

Having just come back from the Renaissance Faire, (one of my favorite places to go,) I was surprised to find that what caught my eye this year were all the "character actors."

(The next photo keeps making me think of the song "Dreamweaver!")

I love the Renaissance style. I was surprised that this year there didn't seem to be as many people as usual dressed in costume. What I did notice was more persons that interacted with the crowds or did performance vignettes.

An exception was this stately gentleman who definitely got everyone's attention. Lord of the Rings come to life!

One of the best - check out the statue. I initially passed it without paying much attention - then it moved!

(c)2009 cverstraete http://candidcanine.blogspot.com

July 18, 2009

Pink Saturday: Pink Miniatures

For fun, thought I'd join in on Beverly's Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound.

Of course, my pink items are in miniature.


First stop is my miniature Teapot Shoppe.

Most of the teapots were handmade of polymer clay by my friend Kitty. in Holland.

* See more closeup photos. (There are two pages.)

* The porch of my miniature Dogcatcher's House is pink, too.

* I dressed this doll for a contest at Dana's Minidoll List. I dressed the doll, wigged her, and made the flamingos from Model Magic clay.

* See more Flamingo Fanny miniature dolls

* Thanks for stopping by!

July 17, 2009

Color Posts - Tomorow is Pink, Next is Yellow

Just realized that since I mentioned green yesterday, tomorrow is Pink Saturday. Be sure to stop back for some neat things in the pink.

I'd like to do my own color posts - my favorite color being yellow. Send me a link with your favorite yellow items and one photo, and I'll post them Thursday for Yellow Day. Be sure to look for the post and link to me, too.
I'll email you back that I got your items. Could be fun.

July 16, 2009

So you think you're going green? No, you're not!

Going green, being concerned about the environment, is a good thing.

It's got us thinking about all the things we throw away needlessly and the affect our actions have on the world around us.

Like books. Ebooks are cheaper (or should be), you can put them on your Kindle or ereader and have tons of books at the ready. Saves gas, too.

Some people recycle rainwater (older folks did this years ago - they put a barrel out to catch rainwater, what's new really isn't) or use solar panels... they walk more, drive less, ride bikes....

We recycle cans and newspapers...


there is one thing I keep wondering about and so far I haven't found any answers.

Sure that all helps, but what do we all throw our garbage away in, week after week? Big giant plastic bags! Right?

We never think about those as there really is no alternative that I'm aware of.

Until everyone can go to the grocery store and pick up reasonably priced biodegradable plastic bags or large recycled paper bags that are sturdy, what is the answer? Just one thing I've thought about.

** What do you think?

* Yes, Searching for a Starry Night is available in ebook and in Kindle

July 15, 2009

Page 56, Line 5 from Searching for a Starry Night

Someone mentioned a fun little game you can post on your blog, Facebook or Twitter pages, so I thought I'd try it here.

How to play:

Grab a book you're reading. Go to page 56. Find the fifth sentence. Post it as your status on your site, and the instructions as a comment.

I've posted the following line on my Facebook page:

"In spite of her wish that this would end quickly, Sam was enjoying herself. She felt her interest grow as she unwrapped another painting."
- From Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery by Christine Verstraete.

** Share yours. What's your line 5 on page 56?

July 14, 2009

Easy Creative Ideas to do in Miniature or with the Kids

Summer's the perfect time to be creative and have fun with the kids. Crafting's not only a good way to relax and let go of stress, but what better way to bond and make memories? You never know what your kids will share, too, while you are busy crafting.

A few good ideas I found for life-size projects while surfing around: (Many of these can be easily adapted to dollhouse scale too!)

* How about this? Create and decorate your own cardboard furniture. The teapot table and teacup seats are fun, inexpensive kid furnishings. I can see these adapted to miniature, too.

* Create a pot person for your backyard from regular terra cotta flowerpots. (Great, easy miniature idea as well!)

* Check out this cute flowerpot fountain from artist Mary Engelbreit!(I can definitely see this in a dollhouse garden!)

* Here's a whole page of more craft ideas using terra cotta pots.

* Make a cool vintage art pendant (or wall art!) using a domino

* Useful guide to using paint primers

* Free victorian clipart pansy. Check her site for periodic free images.

* Lots of free vintage clipart. See victorian children and other images at main page. (Sample above, victorian boot)

*Have fun! Got any favorite craft ideas of your own to share?

July 13, 2009

This is Incredible! Amazing Art

I spotted this mentioned on the Women of Mystery blog and had to share it here.

Can you guess what material this man uses? This incredible artist Saimir Strati makes mosaics out of an everyday material you'd never think of using. Can you guess what?

I've never seen anything like it before. It's absolutely amazing. Such skill (and patience). If I tried it... ouch! Check out his other mosaics also.

July 07, 2009

"Public Enemies" - John Dillinger and Johnny Depp

Gangster lore is part of growing up in Chicago. Some people may find the admiration of people of the time for such violent men rather odd, but for those suffering during the Great Depression, Dillinger's Robin Hood gestures (and their understandable hatred for banks) seemed to justify their reactions. (Not that such behaviour is unique; the scene in PUBLIC ENEMIES of the people cheering Dillinger's escape made me think of OJ).

I remember years ago talking with an older shoeshine man who worked in our northwest side neighborhood. He was in his 70s and expressed that same admiration for John Dillinger as a kind of "Robin Hood" bank robber, as shown in the new movie PUBLIC ENEMIES featuring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.

The interesting thing about such lore is you forget that Dillinger and his like were dangerous, violent men.

Some haven't given the movie good reviews, but watch actual video of Dillinger and you can see the reported charm and that smirk which Depp got down perfect.

The best part of such a film is seeing familiar landmarks like the Biograph Theatre renovated into what they looked like back in the 1930s.

Yes, as some people have said, you won't learn much about Dillinger or other gangsters like Pretty Boy Floyd or Baby Face Nelson watching this movie. It has a lot of action and I jumped several times when the shooting began. But it seemed realistic. To me, going back in time is the best part of watching a period film. I enjoyed the movie, and knew some of the background already, so for that aspect, Id watch it again. What about you?

* See the actual FBI Dillinger wanted poster

* Read the New York Times front page on Dillinger's death

* Watch the Wisconsin Little Bohemia Lodge video

July 06, 2009

New Author Snapshot column, Mystery First Lines

Enjoy some new great mystery reads by checking out their first lines in my summer Author Snapshot column at Mysterical-e.com"

Featured authors include:

* Margot Justes (A Hotel in Paris);

* Gordon Aalborg, (Dining with Devils, A Tasmanian Thriller);

* Deborah Sharp, (Mama Does Time);

* Alan Cook, (Run Into Trouble);

* Sunny Frazier, (Where Angels Fear)


July 02, 2009

Happy July 4th in Miniature!

Nothing is more fun than miniatures in patriotic red, white and blue! Most amazing is the food. Here are some fantastic patriotic miniature foods I came across. Check out the work of these great miniaturists! Happy July 4th!

Who doesn't enjoy a picnic? I created the picnic scene patterned after a cookbook cover.

Still hungry?

How about some cupcakes from MiniHoliday on Etsy?

Ooh! I love this celebration cake from Blue Kitty on Etsy.