June 30, 2010

Featured Miniaturist: Pathy Biero and her Beautiful Dolls

After she is done working at the post office for the day, miniaturist Pathy Biero goes to her home outside Paris, takes care of her family, and if she is lucky, spends a little time with her art.

Pathy's art is sometimes smaller than an inch, but it is big in charm. (Pictured: grandfather and his dog, top. Left, half-scale baby)

"I always liked to look at miniatures and my dream was to be able to make my own dolls," she says.

"I could not have a kiln (lack of place, lack of money), so I was very happy to find Flumo, which doesn't need to be fired."

Using Flumo, an air-dry casting slip, allowed Pathy to buy some porcelain dollhouse doll molds and begin making the dolls of her dreams. She makes the dollhouse scale dolls herself from start to finish: pouring the slip, cleaning, then painting, wigging, and dressing the dolls.

For Pathy, it's not quite an overnight process, but the results make it worth the wait.

(Pictured: Her latest, Sleeping Beauty, also in 1/24th, half scale.)

"It's quite long to make a doll, about two or three weeks," she says. "I try to put expression in the attitude and the look of my dolls. It's not easy, but with training, I have some good results. I like to make everything and I like to see the doll come to life under my eyes (and my hands!)"

So do we! A member of the Mini Doll List, Pathy loves finding inspiration from other doll makers - and inspiring some of her own fans.

What always caught my eye was the charm of her dolls, like this cutie, probably my favorite. (Pictured: Sarah)

Besides making dolls, Pathy has finished three roomboxes, and has plans for another roombox and finishing a large dollhouse. She also is thinking of selling her dolls.

"Making dolls is easier for me," she says. "I need less space making a doll than making a house, but I dream one day that I could have other dollhouses and a lot of free time for furnishing and decorating them!"

(Sounds like a good idea, right?)

Thanks, Pathy for sharing your fantastic dolls!

* Visit Pathy Biero's doll blog

* How to: Flumo tutorial. (The tutorial uses Liquache, which is the same as Flumo.)

* Flumo tips

June 29, 2010

New Banner for Upcoming October Release: The Killer Valentine Ball

Wanted to share the cool new banner for my story, The Killer Valentine Ball by C.A. Verstraete, and other releases coming out in October at Muse It Up Publishing.

About the ebook: A party at a day camp; a blind date on Valentine's Day. Can you say loser?, Jess thinks. But this is no ordinary party. The Killer Valentine Ball has more thrills than Jess ever expected--or will ever forget.

* Also check out the front page of the Muse It Up blog!

June 28, 2010

Miniatures Monday: Miniature Flowers

I'm hooked! I began making some African Violets and can't stop!

They're easy and fun to make. I'm picturing several lined up in one of my dollhouses or rooms. Maybe I need to get some real ones. I have to replace the one I had that was doing so well, then I killed it!

The third photo shows the half scale versions. These silver and gold beads made perfect sized vases.

Next, I want to work on some primroses.

* And how is your miniature garden growing? What are you planting?

June 26, 2010

The 100th Follower!

Yay! I reached number 100! Marlene of the UK at Somerset House Project is follower number 100! Check out her blog, she's building a great Georgian house.

I had a contest a while back so Marlene wins a mini plant and book set! Jonesy wins some books, a journal and pencil.

*Contact me privately so I can mail your items. I'll email you also.

Thanks for responding and following! I'll do another giveaway later.

June 25, 2010

More Vampire Book News: New summer serial tied to Facebook and Twitter

More vampire book news:

I just discovered that Slate is running a YA vampire serial that began June 4. My Darklyng runs each Friday through August. (It was on chapters 7-9 as of this posting).

YA writers Laura Moser and Lauren Mechling, culture editor at the Wall Street Journal, also are running an interesting experiment: having the characters post to their own Facebook pages and Twitter as part of the story.

Natalie's Facebook page has daily updates, including photos of '70s album covers, sheet music, and old Hollywood starlets that also serve as clues. Natalie, her friends, and fictional best-selling vampire writer Fiona St. Claire also have their own Twitter accounts.

About the Book:

Natalie Pollock is a normal-enough 10th-grade girl who happens to be obsessed with a certain vampire series. From the moment she tries out to be the next cover model for one of the Dark Shadows books, her fantasy turns into a nightmare replete with solicitous NYC models, dead squirrels, a psych ward, and little orange pills.

Interesting concept as it makes online posting and promo a regular, ongoing event.

** What do you think?

Writers: Is this something you'd do for your next book?

Readers: Does this make you more interested in a book? Or is it just more online stuff to do?

June 24, 2010

New Review for Horror Ebook, Motherly Love

Just got a great new review for my horror ebook MOTHERLY LOVE at Smashwords (available for Kindle and other formats.)

Carl Brookins called it "crisply written, this gem of a story would make a great Mother's Day gift..." Read the rest at Smashwords.

MOTHERLY LOVE is a (light) horror story with heart, so check it out!

* A story for less the price of a cup of coffee!

June 22, 2010

Book Review: Forget Twilight - Fevre Dream is a real Vampire Tale with Bite

I admit I may be one of the few people in the country who has yet to read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books or see the movies. Of course I never read any of the Harry Potter books, either, though I've enjoyed several of the movies.

I love vampire tales. I do periodically reread my two classic favorites, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Stephen King's Salem's Lot. I find those two hard to beat.

Then friends in my writer's group recommended George R.R. Martin's Fevre Dream.



When struggling riverboat captain Abner Marsh receives an offer of partnership from a wealthy aristocrat, he suspects something’s amiss. But when he meets the hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York, he is certain. For York doesn’t care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh’s dilapidated fleet. Nor does he care that he won’t earn back his investment in a decade. York has his own reasons for wanting to traverse the powerful Mississippi. And they are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious his actions may prove.

Marsh meant to turn down York’s offer. It was too full of secrets that spelled danger. But the promise of both gold and a grand new boat that could make history crushed his resolve—coupled with the terrible force of York’s mesmerizing gaze. Not until the maiden voyage of his new sidewheeler Fevre Dream would Marsh realize he had joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare...and mankind’s most impossible dream.

Here is the spellbinding tale of a vampire’s quest to unite his race with humanity, of a garrulous riverman’s dream of immortality, and of the undying legends of the steamboat era and a majestic, ancient river.

"The night air was cool and moist. Their boots sent up echoes as they walked the dark, deserted streets York with a limber grace and Marsh with heavy authority."

My thoughts:

At the beginning, some parts seemed familiar, and I thought maybe I'd read this years earlier when it was first published (copyright 1982), which I might have, but I didn't remember the rest of the book so I doubt it. Even if I did, it would still be worth rereading.

Full of beautiful, descriptive writing, it is a true vampire tale of obsession, dedication, overcoming weaknesses, immortality, and more. It is a skillfully written tale showing the vampire as more than a monster, but someone you actually grow to like and root for.

"York looked up, and their eyes met.

"Till the rest of his days were done, Abner Marsh remembered that moment, that first look into the eyes of Joshua York. Whatever thoughts he had had, whatever plans he had made, were sucked up in the maelstrom of York's eyes."

It has its share of blood and gore as you'd expect, and some incredibly sick characters, along with several other people that stay with you. Some of the steamboat background can be slow, but the story sucks you in. It is one of those can't-put-it-down books that you actually enjoy reading. The ending was sad yet poignant and charming, and you almost hate to see the story end. I look forward to reading other books by this amazing author.

June 21, 2010

Miniatures Monday: Newspaper Printie

Well I'm still in the process of making things so I have nothing new to show yet. But thought I'd share a recent story and photo I did which ran on the front page. For fun, I reduced the paper so you can fold it and put it somewhere in your dollhouse or mini scene.

Here's a smaller one also; (click for full size; right click to save)

June 18, 2010

Summer Flowers

There's nothing more enjoyable than sitting on the deck in summer and looking over the flowers.

So, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.

I really like the look of these pink and white dahlias. So striking. (These might be fun and relatively easy to try creating in miniature, too.)

I love double begonias! (see above) I have red, yellow, pink and a yellow with an orange trim. They grow with little care and are so pretty!

We actually got a few more roses this year. We don't get many, but then we don't do anything except trim the rose bush. ha!

How's your garden growing this summer? What's your green thumb pick?

June 16, 2010

Featured Miniaturist: Steampunk and Miniature Creations by Deb's Minis

After coming across this amazing "Steampunk Stove," also known by its formal name: Steam Powered Food Preparation Device and Instant Hot Water Receptacle, I invited Deb of Deb's Minis to share more of her unique miniatures.

A former textile artist, Deb has been working in miniature for nearly five years, making everything from dressed beds and furniture, to a variety of one-of-a-kind items.

"I’ve always loved anything in miniature so it wasn’t surprising that I found myself wanting a dollhouse," she says. "I actually thought that I only wanted one!" (We all know how that goes, right?)

"After researching dollhouses, I discovered that the ones I liked the best were the Greenleaf designs and decided that I could build my own dollhouse. By the time I finished the first one, I had already ordered three more kits and knew that I was hooked. I became a member of the Greenleaf building team and started my own miniature business within a year. I’m also the editor-in-chief of the Greenleaf Gazette and was recently inducted into the Dollhouse Hall of Fame."

Dollhouses as Art

Deb's artistic side continues to come through in her dollhouses, which she admits just might be her favorite art form.

"It would be hard to pick a favorite from my dollhouses.," she says. "I have a passionate love affair with each one when I’m building them and they all have a special place in my heart. While I love all the little things that go inside a dollhouse, I can be just as happy with building a dollhouse and leaving it unfurnished in order to better admire its architectural lines and features."

Take her "White Orchid," what she calls "a monochromatic exercise in light play using crystals and mirrors in a white-on-white environment."

In fact, she loves building dollhouses so much that she admits, "I’ve lost count of how many I’ve built." (Confession: she now has 17 dollhouses in her personal collection.)

"I find inspiration almost everywhere," she says. "My miniatures are extremely diverse and eclectic. I can go from making a decrepit ghost townhouse. to an ultra feminine French café and then to a sleek modern bachelor style without even thinking about the change.

(Pictured: French cafe')

"I’ve done everything from a fairy house encrusted with gemstones, to a Japanese Edo period house with sliding Shoji doors and even a party boat for the Grim Reaper titled “Death Takes a Holiday." (Pictured: Emerald Fairy Tale Cottage)

A Favorite

It's hard to pick one favorite, of course, but she does lean towards her "Wise Ways Emporium." The detailed shop, a witch’s supply store, is dedicated to her great-grandmother and built in the Brimble's Mercantile dollhouse kit.

Amazing Steampunk!

She also loves Victoriana, technology, and fantasy, and combining them has begun a whole new passion: "I’m also a geek, so Steampunk miniatures are a natural for me. I love everything about Steampunk. The combination of the past and future is intriguing, but the most fascinating aspect of Steampunk is creating the impossible.

"I always try to add a level of probability to my Steampunk minis so they make the viewer think, 'that might actually work!' With Steampunk, the only limit to what you can do is your imagination.

"In fact, I’ve given a name to the part of my personality that creates Steampunk. His name is Dr. Thaddeus Robertson and he’s a mad scientist.

"I don’t actually believe that my imaginary friend is real, but it’s fun to be involved in creating something so unique that it requires its own name and personality." (Pictured: Dr. Thaddeus Robertson’s Amazing Steam Powered Self-rocking Rocking Chair.)

With her interest in the new and unique, don't be surprised what's next on Deb's planning board!

"I look for a challenge in each creative venture and am always looking toward the next challenge," she says. "I don’t like to repeat the same thing twice—I’d much prefer to do something new and exciting. My inspiration comes from my Muse and I never know what she’ll want to do next!"

** For fun, read the whole story of Dr. Robertson's creations on Deb's website, and follow his exploits as he has some incredible plans for the future on his design table!" (I, for one, can't wait to see what's next!)

Thanks, Deb, for sharing your work with us!

June 14, 2010

Miniatures Monday: New Fleamarket find

A find I couldn't pass up. The glass teapot measures 7 inches to the top and is about 4 1/2 inches wide. I'm just hoping I can get it apart safely to get it clean. I'm thinking of a small dining scene. We'll see if a small 1 inch scale set fits, or if half scale is better. And it was only $1!

June 11, 2010

Fun New Mystery Book Titles

I get such a kick out of some of the titles they come up with for new mysteries.

Here're a couple new releases that sound good and have titles that should make you smile.

The Inn at Hemlock Fall reopens for readers!

Bernard LeVasque has opened a multi-million dollar cooking school in Hemlock Falls-and has even stolen customers from Sarah and Meg Quilliam's Inn. But someone finds the infamous chef too bitter-and takes him off the menu for good.

Night of the Living Deed (A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery)

Welcome to the first Haunted Guest House Mystery, the getaway every reader can afford.

Newly divorced Alison Kerby wants a second chance for herself and her nine-year-old daughter. She's returned to her hometown on the Jersey Shore to transform a Victorian fixer-upper into a charming, and profitable, guest house.

One small problem: the house is haunted, and the two ghosts insist Alison must find out who killed them.

June 10, 2010

Food & Travel - Female Nomad and Friends: Tales of Breaking Free & Breaking Bread

* Check out the interesting food and travel stories in the new book by Rita Golden Gelman, Female Nomad and Friends: Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World

** Read an excerpt (about chicken, yum!) today at Fatal Foodies

June 09, 2010

New story: The Dolls of Elisa Fenoglio

I recently began writing about one of my favorite art forms, miniature dolls, for another publication.

The first story is on the breathtakingly beautiful miniature dolls by Italian doll maker and IGMA artisan Elisa Fenoglio.

** See the story and more photos of Elisa's work in the June issue of the CDHM online magazine, The Miniature Way.

June 07, 2010

Miniatures Monday: Dolls Smaller Than a Finger

These are so amazing that I just had to share them! Miniaturist Lucie Winsky recently made these tiny medieval dolls for a quarter-scale castle she is working on.

The dolls are only 1 1/2 inches tall - about the size of three-fourths of my little finger! The detail she includes in such tiny figures is incredible!

The detail is not surprising given Lucie is an IGMA (International Guild of Miniature Artisans) Artisan and a certified DAG Doll Artisan. I've shared some of her work here before, including her reproduction dolls based on famous paintings. She also is the artist who painted my miniature Starry Night oil painting.

* Read more about Lucie's work at the link above, or put Art to Life in the search box for a look at more of her work.

June 04, 2010

Welcome to Phyllis Schieber, author of Willing Spirits and The Sinners Guide to Confession

Welcome to Phyllis Schieber, author of Willing Spirits and The Sinners Guide to Confession,books about women and their friendships.

Sinners Guide to Confession - Kaye and Barbara are longtime friends, now in their fifties. Ellen, who is several years younger, develops a friendship with the other two women years later, solidifying this close-knit group. The three women are inseparable, yet each nurtures a secret that she keeps from the others.

Willing Spirits - Jane Hoffman and Gwen Baker, both teachers and in their forties, have a friendship that helps them endure. Years after Gwen is abandoned and left to raise two sons alone, she finds herself in love with a married man. After Jane is humiliated by her husband’s infidelity and Gwen must face her own uncertain path, the two women turn to each other. Now, as each is tested by personal crisis; Jane and Gwen face new challenges—as mothers, as daughters, as lovers. And in the process, they will learn unexpected truths about their friendship—and themselves.

About the Author:

Phyllis Schieber The first great irony of my life was that I was born in a Catholic hospital. My parents, survivors of the Holocaust, had settled in the South Bronx among other new immigrants. .In the mid-fifties, my family moved to Washington Heights. The area offered scenic views of the Hudson River and the Palisades, as well as access to Fort Tryon Park and the mysteries of the Cloisters. Her first novel, Strictly Personal, for young adults, was published by Fawcett-Juniper. The Sinner’s Guide to Confession, was released by Berkley Putnam and in March 2008, Berkley Putnam issued the first paperback publication of Willing Spirits.

In her essay, “Women Are Just Better,” Anna Quindlen quotes the observation of a friend who says, “Have you ever noticed that what passes as a terrific man would only be an average woman?” And that’s when, as Quindlen describes it, “A Roman candle went off in my head…

What I expect from my male friends is that they are polite and clean. What I expect from my female friends is unconditional love, the ability to finish my sentences for me when I am sobbing, a complete and total willingness to pour out their hearts to me, and the ability to tell me why the meat thermometer isn’t supposed to touch the bone.” It’s so true. I know for certain that it is exactly what I expect and invariably receive from the women friends in my life.

I have a circle of women friends who sustain me, keep me sane, remind me of my worth, and reassure me that I am treasured. We say, “I love you,” at the end of every conversation; we unashamedly sign off our emails with the symbol for kisses, and we embrace and affirm our love for each other each time we meet. I think it is because women spend so much of their lives nurturing—their children, their husbands, their partners, their ailing parents, their students, co-workers, the list is endless—that they understand the need to let each other know how much they matter.

I don’t know how any woman survives without close woman friends. My friends are my support, my secret keepers, my cheering section—they mean everything to me.
Willing Spirits is actually dedicated to two women I lost very prematurely. The novel was inspired by my love for them and is intended as a celebration of the friendships women share.

I describe what it is like when the novel’s protagonists, Gwen and Jane, find themselves “falling in love” shortly after they meet:

Yes, women do fall in love with each other. Differently, of course than they fall in love with men. Falling in love with a man is a feverish experience. There is little control. But falling in love with a woman is much more serious. It guarantees so much more for the investment. For it is from other women that women are nurtured. It is from other women that they hear what they hope to hear from men. I understand. I know how you feel. I’m sorry for your pain. I care about what you think: Words that need no prompting. In that circle, women tell each other things that men and women tell each other first with their hands and lips and tongues before they can tell each other with words. Women comfort each other with touch that is meant to heal, rather than to excite. The mysteries of love are less complex between women.

The hidden passages are easier to negotiate. And the dangers do not seem as great as when the same journey is taken with a man. Around each dank and frightening corner, women hold out their hands to each other and form a human chain that is, quite simply, spiritually different. The lucky ones find men who (and it is a deep and well-kept secret between women) are more like women.

My friends are my mainstay. I have women friends from various stages of my life. One friend in particular has been my friend since she was twelve and I was ten (I continue to point out our age difference at every opportunity!) We met at sleep away camp and in the almost fifty years that we have been friends, we have been through everything together. Several years ago, she found out she had lung cancer. It has been a long and challenging battle that she blessedly seems to have won, but we take nothing for granted. We speak every morning, exchange news, reassure each other we are still here, and remind ourselves how lucky we are to be friends, to have each other yet one more day. We always, always have something to talk about, secrets to share. We are always still girls together. And I love that about us.

In The Sinner’s Guide to Confession, the protagonists, Kaye, Ellen, and Barbara, are very different from each other, yet their bond is unshakable. They are girlfriends. They may disagree. They may disapprove. But they are there for each other. It is the one certainty they can depend on in their otherwise unpredictable lives. Their bond is solid, and it strengthens each of them, making possible for them to navigate the unforeseen complexities that come their way. They are girlfriends together.

I close the acknowledgments in Willing Spirits with the following statement: “Mostly, however, I am indebted to my friends, the women who embrace me with their open hearts. They nourish me with their love and goodwill. I have been blessed to be surrounded by women who indulge my moods, allow my eccentricities, listen to my complaints, and applaud my triumphs. I cannot imagine how I would thrive without any one of them. They never disappoint me.” Girlfriends. Always, always my girlfriends.

* Follow the rest of the blog tour

* Visit Phyllis Schieber's blog.

June 03, 2010

New horror ebook coming: The Killer Valentine Ball

Check out the new cover for my ebook, THE KILLER VALENTINE BALL by C. A. Verstraete, coming in October from Muse It Up Publishing.

What does a girl want? To attend a killer Valentine ball, of course. But Jess gets more than she bargained for at this holiday party...

* Light horror sure to put a chill down your spine! (heh heh!)

June 02, 2010

Welcome to Carlton Scott, author of children's book Glamour Girl from the Stars

Today I'm welcoming Carlton Scott, author of the children's book, GLAMOUR GIRL FROM THE STARS.

Scott has more than 15 years clinical experience as a traveling registered nurse (RN) with a specialty in critical care nursing and a focus on children’s health. He has worked with both children and teens in mental health counseling and critical care nursing.

Inspired by his desire to cheer sick children, Scott has authored and illustrated three children’s books that teach kids the lessons of friendship, self-acceptance and adventure.

As part of his commitment to supporting children’s health, Scott donates 50 percent of all profits from his books to children’s hospitals across the country.

About Glamour Girl from the Stars:

“After traveling to and fro across outer space’s unknown, PleeDee discovers her world is similar to our own. When little girls live up to their potential wherever they are, they’ll shine brightly with confidence no matter how near or far.”

Interview with author Carlton Scott:

Why did you choose self-esteem, especially for girls, as your theme?

One night while watching the Miss Universe Pageant with my wife, Annie, I was sad that no girls from other planets were invited. I thought the title was a bit misleading…

Although I don’t have children of my own, I chose self esteem for little girls because of the experiences I’ve had working with girls of all ages as a mental health counselor and traveling nurse. I have provided care for patients, infants to teens, suffering from horrible abuse, self-mutilating behavior, and attempts at suicide.

I’m amazed at the myriad eating disorders girls can choose from and the superficial teasing projected at one another. I feel little girls should be encouraged to be physically active so they don’t have to worry so much about dieting and be comfortable in their own skin, no matter how they look.

What do you hope to share with the book?

I hope my readers laugh when they read my books. After working in five different children’s hospitals as a traveling nurse, I hope families with young kids will join me in my quest to help the Children’s Miracle Network and the nearly 200 children’s hospitals nationwide by ordering my three-book set from my website.

What are some of the best experiences you've had with the book?

My most surprising experience with publishing my third book was the fun I had bringing an alien girl to planet Earth. I enjoy having people share their daughters' reactions after reading my Glamour Girl book. Hearing people tell me that their kids started coloring with crayons and colored pencils after reading my books really brightens my day…

** See the rest of the book tour schedule here.

** BUY: Glamour Girl from the Stars.

June 01, 2010

Steal, er, Share Joe Konrath's Ebook: Is it Piracy or Sharing?

Joe Konrath, author of Cherry Bomb and the Jack Daniels series, is running an experiment. His claim: piracy or what he prefers to call file sharing, can increase sales.

So he is experimenting, saying his Kindle sales will not suffer as a result of his collection of Jack Daniels stories being given away free. You can read his claims and download the collection here.

Author Marilynn Byerly and other authors call the whole thing a fallacy as Joe may not suffer, but small press, ebook and indie authors and presses will suffer having their works put all over the web for free.

I'm still figuring out this piracy-file sharing - free thing. If you're lucky to have a number of books already published or are a writing machine, that cushion is larger. If you already have a name, yes, it makes sense that you will feel the hurt of free vs. sold books less.

People will do what they do. There's no stopping it. But it's like legalizing drugs - do you do it because "everyone" wants it? Is it a good idea? Aren't there still always those who do get hurt?

Yes, thieves will take what they want and won't pay anyway, no matter what. Entitlement seems to be the byword today (just ask all those jailed execs who still think they were the ones wronged and didn't do a anything illegal).

But... maybe that old saying still holds true: why buy the cow when the milk is free? Maybe the real key here is Joe is crazy - like a fox. Yes free works for him - he stirs the pot and gets all the free publicity he could ask for. Hmm...

* * What's your opinion?