Grace's Mosaic Moments


Saturday, December 7, 2019

Borders for Fleece

Singing at the Florida Mall

A subtle reminder - posted to Facebook by a clever friend from my choir



Falcon Heavy launch, 12/5/19 - photo by Susie



Below is an adapted version of the Borders Booklet I made for my Fleece Workshop. The finished results are warm, toasty, and lovely to look at. I hope some of you out there will take the plunge and try your hand at Working With Fleece.
 


BORDERS FOR FLEECE

 Terms:

ch - chain
sl st - slip stitch
sc - single crochet
sp = space
join - sl st in stitch cited
weave in ends - using a smaller crochet hook or a yarn needles, weave yarn ends under stitches on the wrong side (3/4 - 1"). Cut off excess.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  In addition to the photos in this booklet, how-to videos of crochet stitches of every variety can be found online. Just google the one you want. 



EASY BORDERS:


1.  Overcast Stitch

Knot thread. Using yarn needle, pass thread through holes (made by rotary cutter). This will make a slightly slanted border around. If no rotary cutter is available, it is also possible, with some effort, to pass a pointed steel needle with yarn through most fleece. 

2.  Blanket Stitch 


Please note the three stitches into one hole at each corner.  



How to do Blanket Stitch:







Special note:  If you do not have access to a rotary cutter, any border can be built on top of a layer of blanket stitch. Blanket stitch around first. Then begin with the single crochet row, using an I hook (5.50mm). If you are working with pre-cut holes, use an H hook (5.00mm).


3.  Chain 4 Border:


Row 1:  Single crochet around entire blanket, placing 3 sc in each corner hole. Join to first sc with slip stitch.

Row 2:  Single crochet in joining stitch. *Ch 4, skip 2 sc, single crochet in next stitch.*  Repeat around, skipping one to none sc at each corner. Fasten off. Weave in ends.


How to Chain & do Single Crochet & Slip Stitch (see also online videos).*


*Photos are from a Brit book. Note the bottom photo where it states that "double crochet" is the American "single crochet."


4.  Picot Border


Row 1:  Single crochet around the edge, 3 sc in each corner stitch. Join to first sc.

Row 2:  Sc in joining stitch.  Work picot (ch 3, sl st in 3rd ch from hook). Sc in next 2 sc. Work pattern of picot & sc around, placing picots closer together around corners.
Note:  You can also put 3-5 sc between each picot, if you wish.


BORDERS FOR MEDIUM SKILL LEVEL:

1.  V-Stitch Border (3 rows)

 


 How to do Double Crochet:





Directions for V-Stitch Border:
(as seen in pink baby blanket above)
 
V-Stitch:  (dc, ch 2, dc) in specified stitch

Note:  for the pink border above, use Rows 1-3 only. The border also looks good with only Rows 1 & 2.

Row 1:  With right side facing, join yarn with slip stitch in center of any sc. Work a row of single crochet around, 3 sc in each corner. Join with slip stitch.

Row 2:  Ch 5 (counts as dc & ch-2 space), dc in same st. *Skip next 2 sc, V-stitch in next sc.* Repeat around, adjust space between V-stitches as necessary at each corner. Join to 3rd ch of beg ch 3. (Optional finish here)

Row 3:  Sl st into Ch 2 space; in same sp work (ch 3, dc, ch 2, 2 dc); *in next ch 2 sp work (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc)*. Repeat around; join in 3rd ch of beg ch 3. (Optional finish here)

Row 4:  Sl st in next dc and into next ch-2 sp; in same sp work (ch 3, 2 dc, ch 3, 3 dc); *in next ch-2 sp work (3 dc, ch 3, 3 dc).* Repeat around, join. Finish off, weave in ends.


2.  V-Stitch Border, using all four rows:





3.  Ruffle Border (5 rows)




Row 1:  With right side facing, join Color A with slip stitch in any sc. Single Crochet around, working 3 sc in each corner. Join with sl st to first sc.

Row 2:  Sc in same stitch as join. *Ch 3, skip 2 sts, sc in next sc.* Repat around, ending last repeat:  ch 3, skip 2 sc, join with sc in beg sc.

Row 3:  Sl st in first ch 3 space; in same sp work (ch 3, 4dc); dc in next sc; *in next ch-3 sp, work shell of 5dc, sc in next sc.* Repeat around; join in 3rd ch of beg ch 3.

Row 4:  Ch 3 (counts as a dc); dc in next dc, 3 dc in next dc, dc in each of next 2 dc, sc in next sc; *dc in next 2 dc of next shell, sc in next sc.* Repeat around, ending last repeat with sl st in 3rd ch of beg ch-3. Finish off Color A.

Row 5:  With right side facing, join Color B with sl st in any sc. Ch 1, sc in same st; *sc in first 3 dc of next shell, ch 3, skip next dc, dc in nxt 3 dc of shell, sc in next sc.* Repeat around. Join with sl st in beg sc. Finish off. Weave in ends.



4.  Double Crochet Border (3 rows)




Row 1:  Right side facing, single crochet around, working 3 sc in each corner.

Row 2:  Ch 6 (counts as a dc & ch-3 sp), dc in same st; *ch 3, skip next sc, dc in next sc.* Repeat around, ending last repeat with ch 3, join in 3rd ch of beg ch-6.

Row 3:  In next ch-3 space, work (sc, ch 4, sc).  Repeat around. Join with sl st in beg sc. Finish off. Weave in ends.

* * * *

Special Note:  Since this is a hasty retype of the original, please use Comments to point out any errors. I will update immediately.

~ * ~

Blair's three tales of Christmas:


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace





















Saturday, November 30, 2019

Fleece Workshop

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!
Mike's mother (2nd from right) reminded me of the year they were all in Argentina for Thanksgiving and Susie cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for the relatives down there. She had me write up the story of the First Thanksgiving so she could explain it to those new to the concept of Pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys. [FYI, four of those above were born in Argentina. Six speak fluent Spanish, though the accent is different from Central American Spanish. (Susie speaks what she calls Spanglish.)]


FLEECE WORKSHOP

Corner of 45 x 60" Cuddle Blanket

Considering the amount of time I spent creating "Working with Fleece," and recalling that the gift-giving season is upon us, I thought I would pass along some of what I offered in my workshop last Saturday. First of all, something I learned only after producing the booklets for my workshop; namely, that Fleece and Plush are NOT the same thing. I learned this the hard way when two of my three grandgirls chose Plush for their Christmas blankets and I discovered my clever hole-cutter did not cut holes in Plush; it shredded it! So before you run to the fabric store, PLEASE NOTE:


FLEECE OR PLUSH? - THE DIFFERENCE

In the course of developing my “Working With Fleece” workshop, I discovered a fabric I didn’t know about: Plush.  So before I explain how to make soft, warm items for gifts or for yourself, it’s necessary for you to understand the difference so you won’t repeat my mistake and end up having to cut a half-inch off all four sides of the blanket I was working on!

FLEECE

Fleece is extraordinarily soft, warm, and almost as solid as a rock. It comes in an astonishing variety of plain colors and prints, the prints ranging from cats and koalas to footballs and airplanes. It has been around for some time—I have a jacket made from it that looks as good as the day I bought about 20 years ago. A small steel needle will penetrate fleece, but a yarn needle and yarn will only go through with a great deal of effort. (A blunt yarn needle, not at all.) But pre-cutting evenly spaced holes with a special rotary cutter makes it easy to add a border to the fleece.

PLUSH

Plush is even softer, fuzzier, just as warm, but NOT solid as a rock. It has not been around as long and does not come in as many different prints as fleece. I also have doubts that it will hold up to washing and general wear & tear as well as fleece. BUT—the most significant point—even a large yarn needle (steel, not plastic) can penetrate a double layer as easily as cutting through custard.

What does this mean?

Fleece - To add a yarn border, you will need a rotary cutter to make holes in the fleece. (Details below.) After that you make a foundation row around the item, using either blanket stitch or single crochet. (Crochet is faster.) Size H hook recommended. (5.00mm)

Plush - To add a yarn border, it will be necessary to make a single-fold hem around the blanket—turn under a half-inch on all four sides and use zigzag or other stitch that moves from side to side. Once hemmed, blanket stitch into (or over) the hem, using a steel yarn needle. The blanket stitch provides the foundation for the additional rows of the crocheted border. Size I hook recommended.  (5.50mm)

What happened when I used a hole-cutter on Plush?

It looked all right until I started to add the single crochets, at which point it simply shredded along the line of the holes. I had to cut the edges off past the hole line, hem the blanket on the sewing machine & begin again, with blanket stitch.


WORKING WITH FLEECE 

Why work with Fleece and/or Plush?

First of all, it's fun to give a gift you made by hand - something that cost you a bit of time and effort instead of simply money. Second, when we're all so busy, busy, busy, adding a pretty border to the warmest, softest fabrics in the world takes about one-tenth the time of crocheting or knitting an entire garment from scratch. For example, the pillowcase I made took a half hour. The border around the baby blanket, two evenings while watching TV, the Cuddle Blankets around 4 evenings watching TV. So take the plunge. Make a quickie gift or two. Or create something for yourself! Hopefully, you'll find one of the ideas below appealing.

* * * *
Note to my many foreign readers:  Please adapt instructions to your stores, your way of measuring yardages—if confused, the Internet should be able to translate. 

A.  Super Easy Projects

    1.  Blanket - from precut fabric at Jo-Ann Fabrics  (scissors* needed only to remove     manufacturer's logo)


    2.  Blanket - select your fabric from the bolt  (same note as #1 above)


    3.  Fringed Scarf  (scissors* needed)**


    4.  Decorative Pillow  (scissors* & sewing machine required)*


    5.  Pillowcase  (scissors* & sewing machine required)

    *Sewing scissors, not kitchen or paper scissors



**Fringed scarf—using a quarter yard of Fleece, not Plush, cut fringe 6"x½" in each end. (A quarter yard will make a scarf 9" x 60".)



B.  Easy Hand-Sew Projects

    Scarf, Shawl, Doll Blanket, Baby Blanket, Lapghan (approx. same size as baby blanket but for adults), Cuddle Blanket, Blanket. Or projects of your own imagination.

Needed: scissors*, # 4 yarn (worsted weight), yarn needle.


C.  Projects with Crocheted Borders (2-5 rows - basic stitches only)

    Scarf, Shawl, Doll Blanket, Baby Blanket, Lapghan (approx. same size as baby blanket but for adults), Cuddle Blanket, Blanket. Or projects of your own imagination.

Needed: scissors, #4 yarn (worsted weight), for Fleece Size H (5.00mm) crochet hook; for Plush with Blanket Stitch foundation, Size I (5.50mm).

    

IMPORTANT!

The Fleece projects in B & C also require the use of a special rotary cutter which puts holes in the fabric (which is almost impenetrable otherwise). The rotary cutter & special hole attachment are expensive. Suggest arranging to share the expense with others of similar interests.



BUYING FLEECE & YARN

Fleece and yarn* can be purchased at Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michael’s, or Hobby Lobby. (Some Wal-Marts also carry both fleece and yarn.) You can use Google to find the craft store nearest you. All three craft stores offer 40%-off coupons on a regular basic. For coupons, just google their websites. Or, if you prefer, Jo-Ann’s has an App I keep on my phone, which reveals all their coupons & discounts for any given day.

FINDING BARGAINS. Ask a clerk to show you where the “Remnant” display is. Here, you can find pieces of fleece from a quarter yard in width up to about a yard and a quarter. At fifty percent off. A quarter yard (58-60" wide) is plenty to make a scarf. (I paid $5 for the remnant I used to make the all the samples used at the workshop.) A yard is enough for TWO baby blankets. A yard and a quarter adds up to a 45" x 60" Cuddle Blanket.


PRICES (U.S. dollars):

Fleece (before coupons, sales, remnant price)    $15-20.00/yd

Yarn (#4 worsted)    $4-8.00/hank

Yarn needles    $2.00/pkg of 2

Crochet Hooks    $4-6.00 & up

Note: if you become an enthusiast & want to do more projects, you might want to purchase your own hole-making equipment.

Rotary Cutter    $20-50.00*
    [*Mine was approx. $30.00]
Hole-cutting blade    $10.00
Cutting Mat (price depends on size)    $20-200.00*
    [*I get by with the $20 one!]   


YARDAGE NEEDED - Fleece or Plush


Note: most fleece is 60" wide, so a yard gives you a length 36" x 60".


Decorative Pillow*    ½ - 5/8 yard (makes 2 pillows 17 x 17 - 19" x 19")

Pillowcase (standard)    5/8 yard (with some left over)

Scarf    1/4 yard

Shawl    ½ - 5/8 yard

Doll Blanket    ½ - 5/8 yard (makes 3 blankets 20" long)

Baby Blanket/Lapghan    1 yard (makes 2 blankets 36 x 30") or 1 36 x 36"

Cuddle Blanket     1¼ yard (suitable for a single person)

Blanket     Precut bundle or yardage of your choice

*For pillows, stuffing is sold by the bag. Or polyester forms are available in a variety of sizes.


Yarn (#4 - worsted weight)

Smaller projects can be done with ”leftovers,” if you have any. The following are "guestimates" based on the blankets I've made so far:
A baby blanket/lapghan with 3 rows of edging:  3-4 ounces of yarn. Cuddle blanket:  2 rows - 5-6 oz.; 3-4 rows - 10-12 oz. Full blanket - 12-16 oz.

* * * *

IMPORTANT NOTE: Videos of how to crochet a chain, single crochet, double crochet, slip stitch, etc., are available on the Internet. Just google the stitch you want. From simplest to the most complicated, it’s all there. 

~ * ~

Next week: Easy borders you can add to your Fleece project 
FYI, my favorite "border" book:  50 Crocheted Afghan Borders by Jean Leinhauser 

~ * ~

Blair's three tales of Christmas:






Thanks for stopping by,

Grace

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Holiday Reading


The Citrus Singer Seniors
The Citrus Singers have just debuted another fabulous video, this one a Hymn to Girl Scouting (words & direction by daughter Susie) More than 21,000 views in less than a week.

Note:  The five featured singers debuted their harmonic finger-snapping opening for me several months ago. I was impressed then, even more so with the finished product.

For the Citrus Singer's latest video, click here.

~ * ~


CHRISTMAS READING

Over the years I've written three Regencies featuring Christmas or a major Christmas scene—one full-length book & two novellas. As the holiday season seems to get more and more swamped each year by commercial hype, I suggest taking some time out to immerse yourself in the old traditions, the joy, and the highly poignant moments that embody the true meaning of Christmas.


The novellas, written expressly for Christmas:




After suffering social disaster at her very first ball—severely aggravated by the horror of an unfeeling family—Miss Pamela Ashburton hides herself in the country, expecting to live out her life as a spinster. Major Will Forsythe, injured in body and spirit at Waterloo, comes to the country to escape the concern of well-meaning relatives. Privacy, peace and quiet—that's all he wants. Until he meets a holiday sprite in search of mistletoe. And the Christmas spirit, in the form of a cluster of white berries, gives them both a second chance.






Lady Christine Ashworth is enjoying her second London Season and about to receive an offer of marriage, when the the sudden death of her father, the Earl of Bainbridge, results in Christine and her two younger sisters being exiled to relatives in Yorkshire, while awaiting the return of their father's successor from the wilds of western Canada. Christine is promptly deserted by the man who thought to become her fiancé and constantly importuned by her Yorkshire cousin who is eager to add her inheritance to his family's coffers. Her sisters are also miserably unhappy.

No wonder then, when Christine finally meets the new earl, she begs him to allow them to come home. But he is not married and the solution to this problem is painful—for Christine, who has become disillusioned with men, and for Harlan Ashworth, who never expected to inherit an earldom, the responsibility for three young females, nor find himself married to a woman he just met. Not surprisingly, the marriage does not get off to a good start and goes downhill from there. Only with the help of the youngest Ashworth and a hefty dose of the Christmas spirit is Christine able to lose her prickly edges and learn the meaning of love.



The novel with major Christmas moments:



Miss Aurelia Trevor has a problem. Until she reaches the age of twenty-five, she will have no control over her beloved Pevensey Park, and by that time her unscrupulous uncle will have run it into the ground. Marriage to someone other than her uncle's leering son is her only way out, but, one by one, she rejects the men on her list of suitors. In desperation, Aurelia does the unthinkable. She hires a solicitor to find her a husband strong enough to stand up to both her uncle and her cousin. And soon learns the truth of that old adage: Be careful what you wish for.

Thomas Lanning is a man of the City. Unlike Aurelia, who stands to inherit vast land and wealth, he has made his own place in the world. He is not at all tempted by the suggestion of marriage to an heiress, but other considerations, such as a power base for a seat in Parliament, tweak his interest. Plus an unexpected twinge of chivalry when he hears the full extent of Miss Trevor's difficulties with her uncle and his family.

Aurelia, who only wants to live in peace on her acres, finds she has acquired a ready-made family in Thomas's younger sister and brother, as well as a head-strong husband whose campaign for MP fills her household with a shockingly odd assortment of characters. It seems her marriage of convenience is fast becoming a marriage of inconvenience. Just how far will this strong-willed pair bend to accommodate each other? And will they do it before it's too late?


~ * ~ 

Blair's Other Traditional Regencies

The Courtesan's Letters
The Temporary Earl
A Season for Love
The Harem Bride
Lady Silence
Steeplechase
Lady of the Lock 

~ * ~

For a link to Blair's website, click here.



Thanks for stopping by,
Grace  
 
 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Contrasts

A short hiatus for Mosaic Moments while I prepare a Workshop that has nothing to do with Writing & Editing. I'll be engaged in showing people how to make easy Christmas gifts with fleece:  scarves, shawls, doll blankets, baby blankets, lapghans, personal-size blankets, afghans, etc. A LOT of work to make a list of where to buy, yardages needed, and to gather photos of projects, individual stitches, crochet borders, etc. So please check out the most recent Index to find articles that might be helpful.

For a link to the Index, click here.


 ~ * ~

Susie took close to 100 flower photos while in Singapore. Here are a few - taken at what appears to be an arboretum.











CONTRASTS

I struggled with a title for this week's blogs. Definitely not "Story Arc," which has been done to death and which I also suspect leads authors into a frenzy of attempting to copy the recommended "step by step," to the detriment of creativity. So . . . Highs & Lows? Ups & Downs? Hills & Valleys? Better. For those names are vague enough to remind us of what we need to do without providing obstacles to the way we want to tell our story.

All this came up this week as I sat down to my keyboard  to write Chapter 27 of my latest Regency Gothic, Shadows Over Greystoke Grange. At the end of each day's work, I make a habit of typing notes (in all caps) about where I think the story is heading over the next few scenes. And at the top of my notes was:   APOTHECARY SPREAD OUT ON STONE CROSS. 

Except . . .

I'd just written about a fire, certainly a dramatic moment, and followed it with a scene in which the heroine barges into the hero's bedchamber to discover for herself how badly he is injured. So . .  I'd written Fire, Quieter Scene—and assumed I'd reached the moment of ratcheting up the plot with the apothecary's murder. Right?

Well, that's what my notes said, but my fingers refused to move. What was the reaction to the heroine's shocking invasion of a man's bedchamber? How was she holding up to all that had been happening around her? And wasn't it about time I revealed further unfortunate tendencies in the possible villains of the story?

And yes, these questions needed to be dealt with BEFORE the "big" moment when someone is murdered and the intensity of the tale explodes into the final series of dramatic events. (Although even these important scenes will have more impact if they have short "breathing spaces" in between.)

All this led to the birth of an "interim" chapter that extended the Contrast between the Fire and the Murder. And also moved the story forward. When writing these quieter scenes, it's all-important to remember that you do not create Contrast by plopping in a scene that is merely "words" with no relevance to your story. Use this "down" time to explain, emphasize, add color to what has gone before, or give hints of what's to come. 

Believe me, your "big" moments will be all the more dramatic for the "lulls" that come between:  the "planning" scenes, "discussing" scenes, the "conversations at table," etc.


Below is a the chapter I hadn't planned on writing, the one that insisted on inserting itself between Fire by Arson and Death by Stabbing. Please note the deliberate effort at the beginning to lighten up the angst the young heroine has been suffering ever since she arrived at Greystoke Grange.


Chapter 27 has had only one edit so far, but hopefully it will be enough to illustrate what I mean by "Interim" chapter. It provides a bit of relief from the dramatic events that have been plaguing the young heroine's life, but it also shows that those problems have not gone away. And at the end, the next "big" drama raises its head.  


Background for the scene:  Adria, the young heroine, is a guest in a house in Shropshire, where she is supposed to be teaching Daphne, the young lady of the house, the niceties of the London ton. Dudley is Daphne's twin brother. The twins are only a year older than Adria, but infinitely older in experience.



Shadows Over Greystoke Grange

Chapter 27

    “On dit,” I intoned. Daphne dutifully repeated the words. “Meaning?”
    “Gossip,” Daphne drawled.
    “Literally, ‘they say’,” I returned, “but yes, the term refers to gossip.” Daphne heaved a much-put-upon sigh at my quibbling.
    “Tout de suite.”
    Daphne repeated the phrase, her tone leaving no doubt she was eagerly listening for her release at the chiming of the hour. “Fast,” she said, her lips escaping their droop of ennui just enough to reveal that she was pleased with herself. I nodded my acceptance, not pressing for a literal translation.
    “Je ne sais quoi.”
    Daphne stumbled through the repetition, adding, “I will never say such a thing, so why should I bother to learn it?”
    “Because when some high-born lady is described as having ‘je-ne-sais-quoi’, you will not stand there, blank-faced, not knowing it means she has 'that certain something' that distinguishes her from others.”
    Daphne flounced back onto her favorite mound of pillows in the corner of the sofa, eyes closed, her lower lip jutted out in a pout.
    “Enceinte.”
    She peeked at me from beneath her long dark lashes. “My dear Adria, I am surprised you let the word pass your lips.”
    For several seconds I simmered, hanging onto my temper by a quivering thread. I would not bandy words with her. I would not! “It is true,” I said at last, “that ladies tend to be mealy-mouthed about certain topics. Which is why, I suppose, they fall back on French. But since you seem to be acquainted with the word, we may move on.
    “Comme il faut,” I pronounced.
    No response. “Daphne, please repeat the phrase, even if you cannot translate it.”
    She sat up abruptly, dark eyes gleaming. “Enceinte is what happens when young ladies ride off ventre √† terre and visit their beloved in his bedchamber.”
    I couldn’t think, couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. I was hearing things. She could not have said that.
    But she had. For she was sitting there, triumph radiating from her in waves. She had held back her knowledge, waiting for the right moment, and then struck to the heart. Whatever had made me believe word would not get out?
    At the time I had not cared.
    “Mr. Kincade was badly injured,” I managed at last. “Swathed in bandages and in a great deal of pain.”
    “But on dit, my dear Adria. On dit.” She smiled. The smile of a vindictive sans culottes as the guillotine crashed down.
    Once again, it was as if Daphne were a decade my senior instead of a mere fourteen months. Nor could I refute her words, for what she was saying was all too true. My fate lay before me:  the gossip about my visit to Kincade Park was about to be as vicious as the rumors about Drake and Rose Kincade.
    Perhaps Lady Greystoke would send me home. An empty Chillworth Manor was far preferable to life in Kirkby Cross. Except how could I abandon Drake? Who was suffering because he had refused to abandon m—
    “Aha!” Dudley rumbled from the doorway, interrupting my angst. “I was coming to impart the news, but it would appear it is already out. Our perfect young lady from Wiltshire has feet of clay.” He sauntered toward me, leering, his triumph matching his sister’s.
    My feet longed to run, but I stood my ground. “Mr. Kincade is a friend. He has done nothing wrong. Nor have I, except to express concern for his health. And well you know it!”
    “My dear girl,” Dudley purred, placing one long slim finger under my chin. Though tense as a bowstring, I did not flinch. I could not show fright, for Dudley Greystoke fed on fright, and I would not give him the satisfaction. “What will Mother say, I wonder?”
    “Your mother is female,” I told him. “She will understand it is our lot to care for others, that women do not turn their backs on the sick or injured.”
    “I do,” Daphne declared.
    I opened my mouth, closed it, knowing anything I might say would be futile. The long clock in the hall, echoed by the ormolu clock on the mantel in the Gold Salon, began their count toward twelve noon. I sidestepped and rushed, rather ignominiously, toward the door, leaving the twins to enjoy how thoroughly they had routed the little miss from the South.
    I hid in my room for the remainder of the day, expecting a summons from Lady Greystoke at any moment. It never came. Had this latest bit of gossip not yet reached her ear?
    Hardly a rumor. You did visit a gentleman in his bedchamber.
    Be quiet!

    And so it went, my conscience in agony, even as my heart insisted I had done the right thing.
    Pleading indisposition, I asked for dinner to be brought to my room. I ate in a silence so profound it was as if I were the only person in the house. Except for Bess, I did not hear so much as a footstep in the corridor, a creak of the stairs. So many thoughts chased through my mind I expected to toss and turn all night, but exhaustion caught up with me. I was in bed as darkness fell and slept the night through—for the space of a few hours, my cares obliterated.
    I dreamed of Drake, a Drake without bandages, and woke with a smile on my face.
    Silly me.
    It was a perfectly glorious day. Though I sensed it was a good deal earlier than I usually waked, bright sunlight peeked through a crack in the draperies and birds were singing with such glee that their chirps and trills, punctuated by an occasional squawk, easily penetrated the heavy fabric. Fresh air as well, drifted in, bringing the scent of flowers, greenery, and fresh-turned earth. At this moment, with Drake’s image still floating in my head, Shropshire seemed almost as pleasant as Wiltshire.
    If only . . .
    But why had I waked so early? Another smile—a trifle smug. Perhaps my dreams of Drake had waked me. Far better than a nightmare about—
    No! I would not spoil the moment. Dudley Greystoke did not exist. I had cast him out.
    If wishes were horses . . .
    Begone! I will not listen.
    Ah, that was but a phantom finger beneath your chin, phantom breath blowing in your face.

    Idiot child that I was, I squeezed my eyes shut, placed my hands over my ears.
    As if I could shut out my own common sense. Mocking laughter surrounded me, filling the room, drowning out the joyous birdsong. Taking my fleeting pleasure with it.
Something else . . . ?
    I forced myself back to reality. The atmosphere around me had changed, the house no longer caught in the deathly silence of the night before. There were footsteps on the stairs, in the corridor—more rushed and bustling than usual. The murmur of voices. I peered at my ladies’ watch on the small table beside the bed. Yes indeed, still too early for the household to be awake. I frowned, was reaching for my nightrobe, when Bess’s head peeked round the edge of the door. When she saw I was awake, she skittered across the floor, skidding to a halt beside the bed. She opened her mouth, wrung her hands. “Oh, miss, now I’m here, I scarcely know what to say.”
    “Is it Drake? Tell me this instant!”
    Bess blinked. “Oh no, miss. Not Mr. Kincade. ’Tis Mr. Talbert.”
Talbert? Not Drake. My whoosh of relief cut off as I realized only something dire could have set off a disturbance so early in the morning. “Then what has happened?”
    “The news came with the milkman, you see. And we all heard Carys shriek when she heard. ’Twas enough to set Mrs. Pettigrew and Cook running to the door, with half the staff on their heels.”
    “Bess! Without roundaboutation. Tell me now.”
    “He’s dead, miss. Spread out on that great stone in front of the church. Dead as a doornail. A dagger in his heart.”
    It was a good thing I was sitting on the edge of my bed. For great as the shock of George Talbert’s murder was, it took only seconds to see where it would lead. Straight back to Drake.
    I must ride there immediately, warn him . . .
    Milkman. They already know.
    I must be sure!
    Send John Jenks. You are already skating on ice too thin to bear your weight.

    I slipped out of bed, dashed off a quick note, which I entrusted to Bess. “Make sure Jenks gets this,” I said, wincing at the fear in my voice, the fear that betrayed how much I cared. “He must leave for Kincade Park immediately.” I rushed to my special hiding place, and drew out a golden guinea from my treasured stash of coins. “This should be more than enough.”
    Bess’s eyes met mine. ’Tis too much, miss. John’s a good man. He’d do this for you but for the asking.”
    My lips curled—how sad to discover I was rapidly becoming a cynic. “It will be something to go on with if he loses his position over this.”
    Bess’s brown eyes widened. “Ah, surely not, miss.”
    I heaved a long sigh. “Truth to tell, Bess, I am unsure what will happen from one moment to the next. Now go. The sooner this is done, the better.”
    As the door shut behind her, I said a prayer that my warning would be in time, that Drake was well enough to travel. For he must leave Shropshire this very day. Whoever the villains were, they were going to make certain everyone believed Drake Kincade had killed George Talbert. 



~ * ~

For a link to Blair's website, click here.


For a link to The Abominable Major on Amazon,  click here.


For a link to The Abominable Major on Smashwords,  click here.   



Thanks for stopping by,
Grace  

 

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Formatting for Indie Pub


Photo by Firefighter Hillary Williams, Carson City, Nevada
(posted to Facebook)

Also seen on Facebook




Nantucket  - also found on Facebook


FORMATTING FOR INDIE PUB

The oddest thing happened when I was going through the Index to Making Magic With Words for the umpteenth time:  I realized I had gone into details about how to translate and format docs from Word Perfect to Indie Pub, I had cited the fact that both Kindle and Smashwords have excellent free Guidelines for uploading e-books, and I had, of course, beaten the subject of Editing half to death, but I had never in all these years since January 2011, done a blog concentrating on just what is necessary before you can upload a book to an Internet vendor. I guess I thought those free Guidelines were self-explanatory, but truth is, it's probably comforting to get the "Cliff Notes" version before tackling all the verbiage in those instructions. So off the top of my head, from the experience of preparing and uploading forty-plus books . . .


You've written "The End," so what's next?

1.  EDIT THE BLASTED BOOK!  (No surprise there.)

2. EDIT IT AGAIN! Polish your baby to the very best you (or an editor) can manage.

Now what?

COVER.  Your book must have a cover. Amazon has a service to help you with this problem, but that cover would apply only to books published through Amazon Kindle. Fortunately, I have someone who has been designing my covers since 2011, which makes that cover usable for any e-vendor. (Best advice:  ask fellow authors for cover artists recommendations before doing a general search online.) If you are graphically inclined, you can create your own cover (although it must meet the vendors' standards). Since covers do not appear overnight any more than your manuscript did, you should plan ahead, ordering a cover well before you've finished your final edits.
 

Preparing your manuscript for uploading to the vendor(s) of your choice.

Grace note:  Unless you want to upload to every online book vendor yourself—a challenging task, at least to my mind—I recommend sticking to Amazon Kindle and Smashwords, who allow you to upload in MS Word and do all the translations for you. Perhaps I'm lazy, but I am immensely grateful for Kindle accepting an MS Word doc, MS Word docx, or RTF. And to Smashwords for taking an MS Word doc and translating it into the formats required by a wide variety of online vendors, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (I could let Smashwords do it all, but I uploaded separately to Amazon in 2011 before I really knew what I was doing and, enjoying their constant sales updates, country by country, have continued to do so.)

Select All and . . . (presuming you've used standard manuscript format ...)

1.  Make sure your margins are 1" all around.

2.  Change your double spaced manuscript to single space.

3.  Remove Header & Page numbers.*
     *If you have assembled your manuscript from several documents, it may be necessary to remove them in more than one location.

4.  Change Auto Indent from .5 to .3.

5.  Justify the right margin. 


Select & highlight as necessary:

1.  Format the chapter title. For example: Font 14, centered.*
     *For perfect centering, you need to highlight the title & reset the auto indent to 0.

    Note:  Do not use an overly large font for the chapter title, as it will run off the page on most e-reading devices, frequently creating a lop-sided mess.

2.  Format Date & Location lines. (They should be Flush Left & Italic.)


Work your way through the entire manuscript with ¶ ON (in the toolbar), which will reveal oddities like a stray manual tab, two spaces between words, etc.

Grace note:   Do not challenge your chosen online vendors with esoteric fonts. Be grateful for the service they provide, which is taking your document and translating it into the font they prefer. So you might as well stick to Times New Roman and not demand more than their translation programs can handle, leaving your book a mangled mess. Or being returned with an "Error" message.

END NOTES.
At the end of your book, add a short blurb about yourself. If you have a list of people to thank or notes about real events in your book, etc., this is the place to do it. (E-book readers like to open their devices to Chapter 1 and start reading.) I also add an Inventory of all my books.


Okay, your manuscript is looking more like a book. What now?

 You need to write a blurb of not more than 4000 characters. This can include review excerpts if you have them. But no more than 4000 characters. Not words, characters (which includes spaces)! Best way to prepare for this:  look at some of the many examples on Amazon Kindle Books.

If you are uploading to Smashwords, you also need a 400-character blurb. Which is not much more than a Log Line.

Also for Smashwords, some of their vendors require an ISBN number. These are available free from Smashwords or you can purchase one (or groups of 10 - a much better price) from IngramSpark [https://www.ingramspark.com] - something I strongly recommend as the ISBN should be yours, not your publisher's (just as your cover should be yours, not your publisher's). FYI:  Amazon Kindle does not require an ISBN.

Smashwords also requires a front page with a Licensing Agreement—wording can be found in their free Guidelines. (After I set up this page the first time, I simply copied it for each succeeding book, changing the title and date as necessary.) 

Also needed:

Categories. Both Amazon & Smashwords will ask you to choose from a list Categories & Sub-categories. Example:  Fiction - Romance - Regency.

Keywords. You will also be asked to choose Keywords. For these the choice can be yours or there's a long list to choose from. You just need to spend time thinking about this ahead of time so you won't be caught flat-footed while entering data.  Example:  Regency Gothic, Regency Romance, Historical Romance; or perhaps Romantic Suspense, Suspense, Contemporary Suspense, etc.

Pricing.  You need to consider pricing in advance. Check the online books closest to your genre, ignoring the books put out by New York e-publishers, which price their books WAY too high. Find a range that best seems to reflect your book—a happy medium between what best-selling indie authors can charge and what is realistic for you, a newcomer. Keep in mind that Amazon has two royalty prices:  35% for books priced below $2.99; 70% for $2.99 and up. Also, Amazon will not tolerate your book being priced less than at another vendor's site. Do not even think of underpricing Amazon! 

Kindle Select.  Details about this program can be found online. Basically, it offers certain privileges to those willing to give Amazon an exclusive on their books. In most cases I prefer to "go wide," offering my books (via Smashwords) to a variety of online vendors.

Grace note:  Access to the Dashboards (upload panels) of Amazon and Smashwords requires setting up an account, a simple step in the process of becoming your own Publisher.

In a nutshell, that's it. Get a cover, format your manuscript; upload both to the vendor(s) of your choice using a form that will include requests for Blurb(s), Categories, Keywords, and Pricing. Follow the form carefully. And don't forget to click "Publish" at the end! It's stomach-churning the first time around, still requires meticulous care when you reach forty. But it's well worth the time and effort. YOU are the publisher. This is YOUR accomplishment. You are now employing Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, B&N's Nook, and whoever else you choose, to sell your book for you. And, best of all, you will receive royalties monthly—a far better schedule than offered by New York print publishers. 

Print Books.  Amazon also offers Indie Print service, including detailed instructions. I can comment no further as I have not used it.


Repeat:  Free Publishing Guidelines are offered by the major vendors. Just ask Google.

For access to the Smashwords Guidelines, click here.
(Scroll down to the bottom of this Front Page.)

For access to the Kindle Direct Publishing Guidelines for the US, click here.
(You will need an Amazon account to access this information.) [But is there anyone left in this world who doesn't already have one?]

~ * ~

Blair's Mystery/Suspense Books

Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart
The Art of Evil
Death by Marriage
Orange Blossoms & Mayhem
Shadowed Paradise
Paradise Burning
Limbo Man

And then, there's . . .

Florida Knight
a tale of knights & fair maidens
in  contemporary Florida
(NOT a fantasy!)

~ * ~


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace