August 29, 2010

Halloween Miniatures: Mrs. Julliard Awaits the Wizard

Mrs. Julliard insisted on staying around the tower, desperate to learn the wizard's secrets. Well.... she learned one, but alas, she's in no condition to talk now. Halloween is coming, you do have an idea what she'll look like, right? haaa!

She's dressed in a Victorian style gown in a flashy red with a black lace bodice and fashionable lace cloak, with matching cloth and leather slippers.

Included is the wizard's table with the wizard's magic orb, a leather-bound medieval map (does it lead to his secrets?), a magical crystal plant and a set of potions, all on a vintage table. Items are not glued. Everything handmade by me. Item for sale; contact me if interested.

Chris V.

August 28, 2010

Inspiration for Pink Saturday: A Miracle Makeover

Today is a special Pink Saturday!

Beverly at How Sweet the Sound has linked with Guideposts, talking about the "Miracle Makeover" and celebration of Collette Gauthier's recovery from cancer; the story was printed in GUIDEPOSTS Magazine. (Like Guideposts on Facebook!) and thank them for sharing the video online.

From the Katilac Shack website:

Design Changes Things: When a room is falling apart, and we are also feeling physically or mentally down, it's easy to believe that things are hopeless. For Colette Gauthier, a cancer patient, this was especially true. So, in two and a half days, and on a tiny budget, we set out to change things. Transforming her rental house bedroom from bleak to beautiful helped her through chemotherapy. The restored and renewed space filled her with hope. A visual reminder that healing is possible for our homes and lives....that miracles do happen. (See video below...)

** Some other inspiration: **

It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.
-- Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Ozarks

Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong. -- Ella Fitzgerald

Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed. -- Corita Kent

Life is an exciting business, and most exciting when it is lived for others. -- Helen Keller

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained. -- Marie Curie

** Click at the Breast Cancer site for free mammograms for women in need!

** Comment on Beverly's blog above or at the Katillac Shack- ** A $1 donation for every comment on Pink Saturday will be given to Design Gives Back for another miracle makeover.

August 26, 2010

Paying to Blog or Write - What do you say?

It's common practice for many businesses to have to get a license or some kind of registration, depending on the location, of course. But let's say you blog or are a freelance writer. Maybe you have a few ads on your blog, or sell a few things here and there...

Well if you live in Philadelphia, that city believes that in both cases, you need a "business privilege" license allowing you to operate. And in this case, it'll cost you $50 a year or $300 a lifetime to do it. See full story.

And by the way, it doesn't matter whether you make $10 a month or your blog or writing, or $1,000 a month.

Is this a case of a governmental entity reaching their hand into your pocket and finding another way to make money off people? Finding another way to tax the Internet or making people who are making good money pay up? But what's the sense in taxing someone $50 who doesn't make much on their venture? And if you're a freelance writer, why should you have to pay more?

What's your opinion?

August 25, 2010

Dollhouses and Collages Meet: New Mixed Media Dollhouses Book

Assembly and collage meets dollhouses. I just saw this new book at B&N, and thought it was a fascinating approach.

It takes the idea of dioramas we learned as kids, and hooks it up with the adult trend of collages, scrapbooking and artistic scenes, resulting in fanciful roomboxes combined with artistic paper craft. I thought it was an interesting new way to collect miniatures with often very pretty, eye-catching results. Might be fun to experiment with things that "traditional" miniaturists often don't try.


Mixed-media doll houses include beautiful castles, undersea fantasy-lands, gothic attics, inspiring tree houses and much more. Authors Tally Oliveau and Julie Molina share a host of interesting alteration techniques while showing readers how to construct beautiful, fantasy doll houses. Readers learn to how to construct or repurpose found boxes into rooms and houses, how to decorate interior surfaces, how to build miniature furnishings, how to make their own paper dolls, and how to embellish their houses using a variety of imaginative materials.

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Quarry Books (March 1, 2010)

August 24, 2010

Miniatures: Feels like Fall!

Where'd summer go? Thinking of fall already so I decorated these small wheelbarrows...

August 23, 2010

Searching for a Starry Night, Barnes & Noble Anniversary

Fun event Sunday at the Mount Pleasant (Racine) WI Barnes & Noble celebrating their 10th anniversary.

Fantasy/Sci-fi author Jean Rabe and I shared the early morning session.

Interesting that at this B&N, they expanded and added a whole new section with games and puzzles; the mystery section was also moved near the religion and crafts. I didn't catch the move at first, but I had the impression the area was a little smaller, or maybe it was just laid out differently.

Note: A new print version of Searching for a Starry Night will be available soon.

The new cover is similar to the Searching for a Starry Night Kindle version except the bottom print (subtitle and my name) are both dark blue.

* Read/download Searching for a Starry Night chapter 1.

August 19, 2010

Searching for a Starry Night Author and Others Help Celebrate B&N's 10th Anniversary in Wisc. Sunday

I and other authors will be on hand Sunday, Aug. 22 helping Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 2710 S. Green Bay Road, Mount Pleasant, WI (Racine) celebrate their 10-year anniversary. The party goes until 9 p.m. Stop by and say hello!

Scheduled authors include:

• 10 a.m. - Jean Rabe, award-winning science fiction author and Christine Verstraete, author of children's mystery, "Searching For A Starry Night."

• 11 a.m. - Storyteller and historian Jerry Apps, author of "Barns of Wisconsin."

• 1 p.m. - Best-selling authors Chloe Neill, author of "Twice Bitten" in the Chicagoland Vampire series, and Linda Godfrey. author of "Haunted Wisconsin."

• 3 p.m. - Jerry Rannow, author of "This One'll Killya," George Fennell, author of "Racine: Drum Corps Capital of the World" and Nick Comande, author of "Climbing for Causes."

A book fair fundraiser will be held all day to benefit the Racine Public Library. A percentage of each purchase will go to the library Vouchers must be obtained in advance at the library, 72 Seventh St., Racine, or visit the website.

For more information, call the library, (262) 636-9241, or Barnes and Noble, (262) 598-9757.

August 18, 2010

Chocolates in Miniature!

Nothing's better than chocolate - unless it's in miniature, of course!

My friend, Kitty, made some new chocolates for the chocolate shop she's working on that look good enough to eat!

See more at her blog, Minis by Kitty

August 17, 2010

Preview: Steampunk'd Cover!

I just discovered that the cover for the upcoming book, Steampunk'd from DAW Books is now online! I'd seen it in b/w but wow in color, it's really cool! (To be published Nov. 2!)

About the book:

Steampunk can be defined as a subgenre of science fiction that is typically set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian setting, where steam power is prevalent. Consider the slogan: "What the past would look like if the future had come along earlier." The stories in this all-original anthology explore alternate timelines and have been set all over the world, running the gamut from science fiction to mystery to horror to a melding of these genres.

The 320-page collection, edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg, includes my short story, "Edison Kinetic Light and Steam Power" by C.A. Verstraete, in which an ailing, but resourceful Alva Edison helps her soon-to-be-famous brother, Thomas, overcome a tragedy and find the answers he'd been seeking. As they say, behind every man is a powerful woman, right?

August 14, 2010

Miniature Sightings: Free miniatures tutorials

There are so many fun things to do in miniature online, I thought I'd include a few things I've come across lately that visitors may or may not know of. But a reminder is always good, too, right? Hope you find something new to try!

Free Tutorials:

* Doll maker Cynthia Howe has a great free miniature corset pattern for a mannequin, among other freebies

* My Small Obsession's free tutorials list: sofa, plate shelf, and more

* Zooplies miniature hand fans tutorial

* Different! Miniature cereal tutorial video

* AnneMarie's chef's hat tutorial

* Carol Cook's miniature mussels tutorial

* Make a miniature layer cake by Betsy Niederer - ** Best part: How to make mini chocolate roses!

August 12, 2010

Miniatures Thursday: Another Artist Comes to Life in Miniature - Francisco Goya

IGMA Artisan Lucie Winsky, whose incredible miniature portrait dolls have been featured here before (put art in miniature or her name in the search box in lower right column), recently completed another amazing figure.

This time, for a special commission, she's brought artist Francisco Goya to life, inspired by the dark movie, GOYA'S GHOSTS, set during the Spanish Inquisition.

Goya, (born 1746, died 1828) was a bridge between the old masters and the new "modern" style of painting. His portraits were favored by royalty, including King Carlos III, and Charles IV, for whom he worked as court painter.

Lucie based her figure on Goya's self-portrait, "Self Portrait in the Studio," also known as "Self Portrait with Easel" painted in the early 1790s.

The 16 1/2 x 11" oil on canvas is at the Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes, Madrid.

What's interesting is how Lucie seemed to match the features on Goya's face in the portrait! I thought the candles were an amazing addition, too, (as inspired by the movie. I've never seen this movie and am intrigued!) Fantastico!

About Goya's Ghosts:

Academy Award® nominees Natalie Portman and Javier Bardem star in a thrilling romantic drama by two-time Academy Award® winning director Milos Forman. The historical epic, GOYA'S GHOSTS, is told through the eyes of celebrated Spanish painter Francisco Goya (Skarsgard).

Set at the end of the Spanish Inquisition and start of the invasion of Spain by Napoleon's army, the film captures the essence and beauty of Goya's work which is best known for both the colorful depictions of the royal court and its people, and his grim depictions of the brutality of war and life in 18th century Spain.

When his muse (Portman) is accused of being a heretic, renowned painter Francisco Goya (Skarsgard) must convince his old friend Lorenzo (Bardem), a power-hungry monk and leader of the Spanish Inquisition, to spare her life.

August 11, 2010

Interview with Mystery Author Tim Myers

Today I have a special guest! I'm happy to welcome multi-published mystery author Tim Myers.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim a few (ok quite a few!) years back when he came out with his first books, the Lighthouse Innkeeping mysteries, and followed his short stories as part of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

In his many mystery-writing personas, Tim has introduced readers to card making, pottery, lighthouse innkeeping, soapmaking, candlemaking, and more.

These days, he's writing about pizzas and math puzzles, as well as publishing several new middle grade/YA mystery and fantasy novels on Kindle. (He's even showing his "darker" side in a Werewolf PI book for Kindle. (See Amazon book list.)

Here's what Tim has to say about writing and his mysteries:

Q: What would you say is different now in this stage of your career (and in your writing?) vs. when you started the lighthouse books?

A: Publishing has changed in so many ways in 10 years, I wouldn't even know where to begin to answer that. I'm writing under several different names now, and Tim Myers is out of print, though I've never had more books published by the major houses: six this year from St. Martin's, Kensington, and Penguin/Berkley alone.

Q: What is your writing schedule? (Do you sleep? ha!) How much do you write?

A: I write seven days a week, almost without fail. It sounds boring, but I'm having great fun doing it.

Q: Is there a secret to such prolificness?

A: I've written millions of words since I started in 1993, and I still love the process, so that helps a great deal.

Q: Wow, that keeps you busy. So what's your favorite book so far and why?

A: That I've written? All of them! I tell my stories for myself, and hope other folks enjoy them, too. That sounds so arrogant in print, but I love to write, and love the process of finding out what happens next! Weeeeee!

Q: What made you decide to go direct to Kindle and begin doing your own ebooks?

A: As I said, I've got several books under contract with major publishers, but over the years, I've written books that many editors and some of my own agents had a hard time seeing me publish.

Kindle and other venues allow me to explore dark sides of the world I'd never be able to otherwise. I also wrote several books for my daughter as she grew up, some of my favorites, and couldn't find homes for them. With e-publishing, I can share them with the world! But trust me, I'm still working very closely with my agent and NY houses.

Q: What's the hardest part of your writing now?

A: Hard to say. I love what I do. It's tough not being able to claim some of my work in public, especially since some of it is doing so well!

Q: With so many books finished, how do you come up with new ways to solve the mystery? Does it make it that much harder, or?

A: There are so many ways to kill people! It's great fun, and I can always find a new victim to knock off. It makes you kind of sweet when you get your aggressions out that way! I am constantly thinking about new ways to kill people. Makes me sound gruesome, but I'm not. Seriously!

Q: What do you foresee as the future of publishing? Some authors have been cut; some houses may be in trouble in days to come. Your thoughts on the Kindle and ebooks?

A: I am happy to be living in both worlds at the moment. My out of print titles are on Kindle and Smashwords -- there's a list with links on my website. Wow, that was shameless, wasn't it? I absolutely see a place for both, and am happy to have them!

Q: How about some writing advice?

A: Write, all the time, whether you feel like it or not. Try new things if you're stale. Read, to learnand get better. Study someone who does what you want to do, and try to figure out how they do it. I still live by these words, each and every day.

Q: What was your worst writing moment?

A: Wow, when folks say no, it's never easy, is it? I still get bounced, and still don't care for the feeling!

(On a funnier note...) I had a woman standing in a line of about 50 clutching one of my books tightly. When it was her turn, she blurted out, "I just love your book. It puts me to sleep every night!" She was smiling, so I took it as a compliment and thanked her, though folks behind her were appalled by the implication.

Q: A closing thought?

A: I've never written so hard, or so much, or had so much fun doing it! The money's nice, I won't lie, but I love the story, first and foremost, and try my best to deliver every time!

Q: So what's next for you?

* In July and August, I have:
A Slice of Murder (Pizza Lover's Mysteries), written as Chris Cavender, paperback for Kensington.

In A SLICE OF MURDER, A Pizza Lover's Mystery by Chris Cavender (Kensington), Not too much happens in the sleepy little town of Timber Ridge, North Carolina--which is fine with pizza-purveyor extraordinaire Eleanor Swift. The spunky owner of A Slice of Delight is trying to mend her broken heart and could use a little quiet time. But when a late night delivery customer turns up dead, she's in for just the opposite in this delicious mystery series debut, featuring pizza as the prima character . .

* Pepperoni Pizza Can Be Murder (Pizza Lover's Mysteries)

When someone bashes in the head of Wade Hatcher, the brother of Eleanor's best delivery guy, Greg Hatcher, with Eleanor's maple rolling pin in her pizzeria kitchen, it appears at first that Greg killed Wade, who was contesting their grandparents' will. Eleanor and her sister, Maddy, join forces to investigate after the local police chief, Kevin Hurley, who always knows how to ruffle Eleanor's feathers, doesn't do much. As the sisters pursue some sticky but somewhat predictable clues, their suspect list grows. - Publishers Weekly

* Coming in Sept: A Deadly Row (A Math Puzzle Mystery) written as Casey Mayes (Penguin/Berkley/Prime Crime) comes out in September. The new Math Puzzle mystery series.

Math whiz Savannah Stone makes a living creating Math puzzles in rural North Carolina. But when the mayor starts receiving death threats, Savannah needs to solve this puzzle-before the next box to be filled is the mayor's coffin.

I also have three other novels coming out or recently out from major publishers under names I can't disclose.

Tim, thanks for sharing with us. Wishing you every success and can't wait to read the latest books!

August 10, 2010

Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery - now at Smashwords

Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery is now up at Smashwords in pdf, html and other formats.

See sample or preview.

August 06, 2010

Searching for a Starry Night Blog Tour winners

It was a chore picking out the winners bu there are their names and thanks to all who commented about Searching for a Starry Night --

The book is now up at Smashwords too if you want a pdf or other version. (But I am checking if I need to reformat as I'm not sure if the other versions look right and I have no way to tell.)


Print: Jill McCullough - Jill's kids love dogs, so a perfect fit! (print will be coming in a few weeks I think)

Kindle: Monti Sikes

Mini version: just because I know she could use it - Camille Minichino

August 03, 2010

Searching for a Starry Night blog book tour - Nonfiction vs fiction

Talking to L Diane Wolfe today about nonfiction vs fiction at Spunk on a Stick blog

** NOTE: I've updated the Kindle version so it may be unavailable until Weds or Thurs, so please check back.

August 02, 2010

Searching for a Starry Night blog book tour - Crafts: Make a Miniature Pillow!

Since Searching for a Starry Night focuses on the hunt for a missing miniature painting, today I'm offering a simple how to.

Here's an early Halloween treat - I'm sharing how to make a simple miniature pillow over at Anastacia's blog. The pillow can be used as is for a miniature scene, or use it to decorate a card or other decorative item. See directions at link above.

A few finishing notes: the bed is a wood punch-out kit in half-scale. I cut off the ends that stick out; sand and fill with wood filler.

I used a stretchy lace fabric at bottom sides for a ruffle. Cut out an extra picture from the fabric to decorate the end of the bed. The other pillow is purple velvet with lace glued at the ends.