Friday, September 26, 2014

Keep Your Chin Up

I had an idea in my head for this week's Color My Heart...and it turned out just as I planned.  That doesn't happen very often so I have to draw attention to it!!

I used three different stamp sets.  I very, very easily could have used just two, but I really wanted the sentiment from Keep Your Chin Up because this was going to a friend recovering from knee replacement surgery.

To be completely honest, this was a lot of fussy cutting and took lots of time, but it was worth the effort.

Here are a few pictures of the process:
 The banner in a very light ink in order to know where to place the greenery.
 Used the rolling technique to color the leaves in both Pear and Juniper.
 Used a scrap of the Cotton Candy paper to lengthen the width because 
I trimmed the panel too much on one end.
To make sure my panel goes down where I want it, I partially peel back the foam tape
backing, line it up, stick it down, and then peel off the rest of the tape.

Gotta go.  I'm at the American Christian Fiction Writer's conference this week.  More on that later.

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Writer's World Wednesdays - Don't Mess with a Writer's Loved Ones

What follows is an open letter one of my writer friends posted on Facebook on September 18, 2014.  It has gone out to literally hundreds of writers who know and love this woman.  And it's never good to antagonize writers...especially not the ones who write suspense or mystery...

A letter to the pack of 20-something hyenas who tormented a man for four hours on a United flight from Chicago to SanFran on Tuesday...

Look. I get it. You're young and attractive and think the world is all about you. And I'm sure you were all just delighted to be traveling together. But seriously? The best way to spend your time on a four-hour flight is to mock this man? To call him fat as he's sitting down? To torment him by shoving your elbow into his ribs (the girl sitting next to him), putting your seat back all the way so he can't get out to use the bathroom (the guy sitting in front of him) and refusing to move when he asks you...four times; opening the tray on the back of his seat and slamming it back up over and over and over (the guy sitting behind him); and texting back and forth asking each other how far you think you can push him, saying at least he doesn't stink...and all the other things you did to show him just how insignificant he is and how very important you all are.

I wonder, would you have been so smug, so self-involved, so flat-out cruel if you had a clue what he's endured in his life? Would you care that this man you were so delighted to harass endured years of horrific abuse as a child, and yet, somehow, as an adult, he has a warrior's heart that champions others? That he does everything he can to protect and care for those in jeopardy. That his heart breaks for those who are hurt and hurting, and he offers encouragement and prayers for total strangers. That he's the first to step up and help when someone needs it.

Or would it have made a difference if you'd known that he was coming home after two weeks of spending days upon days in the hospital room of his 87-year-old father? That he prayed for his dad, watching as he almost died, several times. That he's been caring for his mother, who is blind from macular degeneration and struggling to deal with the new reality of her husband's injuries from a terrible car accident. Would you have left this weary, heartbroken man alone if you'd known he had spent the last two weeks supporting his brothers, who have been caring for his dad, or that he's endured painful encounters with people he loves, people stressed to the edge of brittle from battling life-and-death situations for weeks?

If none of that would have stopped you, if showing simple kindness and humanity is beyond you, then let me just say this. Yes, he held his silence while you had your fun. Yes, you got away with it. But keep this little tidbit in mind. That tired, broken man also happens to be a Master Security Specialist. And he could break you in two. But he didn't react to your torture because he was too weary, too emotionally exhausted, and oh-so-tired of conflict. And because he chose to respond to your evil with true righteousness. He turned the other cheek. And let you have your fun.

So next time you all get on a plane together, when a man like my husband, to whom you all were so gleefully cruel, sits down beside you, remember this: not everyone has my husband's sense of honor or restraint. And one day, you'll know what it is to reap what you've sown. If not in this life, then in the next. Count on it.

Oh, and one more thing. I am praying for you. Because it's clear you need it.

Big time.

I guarantee you, this "pack of hyenas" will be killed off about fourteen times with varying levels of torment...and that's just the ones to reach publication.  The rest of us will kill them off with even more gruesome levels of torment in scenes which will never get out of the laptop basement. 

But, perhaps more importantly, the hero of this story will show up in even more novels. This man-- whom my husband and I have had the privilege of meeting--has such a kind soul it radiates from his eyes.  And I'm sure I'm not the only writer with another friend who endured abuse as a child and still found a way to go back home and return good to those who hurt her.  These are the quiet heroes of life, the ones who deserve to be emulated, the ones we immortalize in fiction as a way of teaching ourselves to be more like them in real life.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

ACFW, Copics, and News

I have a bazillion things to do today to get ready for the annual American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference.  I leave tomorrow morning.  I have to pack, get my proposal printed and in a binder, and write down all the people I need to see and places to be so I don't forget something.

So what am I doing?  Playing with Copic Markers for Cardmakers, of course!  But I watched the instructional videos and was so inspired by some of the techniques I couldn't NOT play along.

Here's the practice sheet before I cut out the butterfly.  The colors are BV04, RV69, and Y23 for the wings plus W7 for the body.

I did a combination of the feathering and blending with an acrylic block on this one. It's amazing how three totally different colors blended to make this butterfly.  Before I attached the butterfly to the card, I hand-drew the antennae with a black marker.

The frame stamp is from Artfully Sent (new CTMH Cricut cartridge with coordinating stamps) and the sentiment is from #30 Years of Happy (September CTMH promotional set).

And now for my news...

Do you see the book cover at the top right of my blog.  Yep...that's my name on the cover!!  I've been anxiously awaiting the cover art and it was posted today.  So very excited to head off to ACFW and see the "First Contract" ribbon for my name badge and then get to meet the lovely ladies whose names are also on that cover.

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Writer's World Wednesdays - Acknowledgements

Last week, I told you about Kathy Hurst who was responsible for introducing me to the Colorado Springs chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers.  After the first meeting, I volunteered to help with an upcoming conference.  The president of the local chapter at the time was Kimberley Woodhouse.  She asked if I would be willing to come to her home so we could discuss how I could help.

Me with Kim (left) and Tracie Peterson (middle).  
I got the VERY FIRST copy of their VERY FIRST collaborative work.

I went to Kim's house and brought my current work in progress (WIP).  Kim read the first page, marked up half of it, and asked three questions which exposed major flaws in my story.  I came back for more.  Apparently that's unusual.

Between not running for cover after she decimated my WIP and volunteering to help with the conference, Kim let me into her very busy life and we became fast friends.  In a very "Anne of Green Gables" kind of way, we felt that kindred spirit connection.  What I wasn't aware of for several months was that Kim and her family were on Extreme Home Makeover.  To me, she was just Kim.

I spent many hours inside that truck as we drove around the country on book tours.  Kim is an amazing driver who handles that fifth wheel so well she actually gets applause from truckers.

To try and tell you what she has meant to me both personally and professionally would be impossible to capture in a blog post.  And, to be completely honest, I'm fighting back tears as I type.  When I met her, my husband was deployed.  She adopted me into her family and made sure I wasn't lonely.  She became God's special gift after I had been uprooted from my life-long friends and family only to have my husband gone for a year.

Kim...if I had a ten thousand words, it would still be insufficient to express how much you mean to me.  I love you, my friend.

Until next time,

Friday, September 12, 2014

Be Happy

This week for Color My Heart we are using a monochromatic color scheme with Honey, Sunset, and Barn Red.  I stole an idea from one of our CMH challenge participants a few weeks ago who posted this card and turned it into this:

One of the great things about being on a design team where people submit their projects is seeing all the various forms of creative expression.  Since we judge the submissions, it forces me to look at projects critically in the sense that I have to determine what I like, what don't I like, and what would I do differently.  I loved Katrina's card and wanted to CASE it (Copy And Steal Everything). My card has a more "Clean And Simple" feel than hers because CAS happens to be my "go to" style.  I condensed the size of my image by using a smaller tree, a smaller sentiment mounted over top of the tree, cutting the image panel square, and then mounting on white rather than colored cardstock.

I embossed the tree in clear over top of a white panel.  Starting at the bottom, I used a sponge dauber to add Barn Red, moved to the middle with Sunset (using the same dauber without cleaning in between), and then Honey at the top (again with the same dauber).  Lest you think I had some grand design scheme in mind by doing it this way, let me tell you the straight up truth: I had a dauber already inked in Barn Red for another project (which is coming to you in October) and didn't want to clean it.  I then worked backwards by inking in Honey again working at the top, added Sunset to the Honey for the middle, and Barn Red to the Sunset on the bottom again.  The sentiment (from the September promotion "#30yearsofhappy") was stamped in Honey, fussy cut, then edged with the sponge dauber with the residual Barn Red still on it.

Speaking of things coming in October, I'm thrilled to announce that I have joined forces with my drug stamp supplier as a design team member.  I've known Shannon Buck for probably ten years now.  She's the consultant I chose after I stopped being a consultant myself.  My term with her begins October 1, so you'll start seeing projects here and on her blog at soon.  However, since she supplied all the stamps for this card, I wanted to give her credit.

I've said it before and I'll say it absolute favorite way to create is using the CASE method but putting my own twist on it like I did with this card.  (UPDATED 9/15: Since "Favorite Technique" is the challenge at Heart2Heart this week, I'm linking up over there.  CASE'ing is a technique!!)  However, before I had enough confidence to put my own twist on something, I straight CASE'd from catalogs and other stampers.  If you do CASE something and put it on your own blog, remember to follow the common curtesey rules of linking back to the inspiration piece and not submitting it for publication.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll come up with this week!

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Writer's World Wednesdays-Acknowledgments

I'm really late getting this posted today because real life got in the way.  I'm involved with an amazing group of women called PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel).  Then I went out to lunch and grocery shopping with a friend. 

However, I wanted to continue my series of acknowledgements.

I've said before my husband made me promise that, when he deployed for a year, I would "do something about the novels stuck in the bottom of my laptop." I mentioned that to a friend in the Chaplain Spouses group at Fort Carson and she immediately hooked me up with the local chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers.

In a very real way, that small introduction has lead to everything else.  So, Kathy Hurst, thanks for being to person who got this whole ball rolling.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Houndstooth Happiness

I'm combining three challenges with today's card: 

Heart2Heart: Use your Favorite Stamp or Stamp Set
CASology: Three
Runway Inspired: Veronica Beard

My favorite stamp is the houndstooth pattern from Distressed Backgrounds.  I reach for it all the time!  For this card I paired it with a new set called Lifetime of Happiness. (All products in italics are CTMH.)

I also used a photo mat from the Cricut Artbooking cartridge (p. 66) cut at 1.5" to compliment my 1.25" houndstooth squares.  The angle on this picture doesn't show it well, but there really are three squares under the bouquet of flowers.

For the flowers and bow, I used pigment ink in Sorbet, Cranberry, Smokey Plum, and Topiary. I chose pigment ink because I wanted my flowers to stay very bold and bright. I fussy cut and then glued or foam mounted each image layering as I went to create interest.  Then I added pearls in two sizes both on and off the bouquet.

I really like how much depth there is to this yet it still has a clean and simple feel.

Until next time,

Friday, September 5, 2014

Color My Heart with Confetti Wishes I feel like I totally cheated on this card.  There's not a skosh of stamping on it, but who ever said hand made cards always have stamping?

This weeks Color My Heart challenge was to use the colors from the new Confetti Wishes paper pack:  Canary, Thistle, Pacifica, Lagoon, Crystal Blue and Pear.  Thanks to my amazing friend and DT buddy, Marie Flayer, who graciously sent me some of the paper, I cut a sentiment cloud plus a strip of paper from the same sheet to create this:

To conserve paper, I used 1.5" wide and 5.5" long over where I'd cut out the sentiment, overlapped them on my 4x5.25" panel, and put the sentiment back over the top where no one would see. 

I added a few extra touches because they are the things that take a card from "Nice" to "Oh, that's so CUTE!"  My extra touches on this were stitching around the background piece and covering the sentiment with Liquid Glass to make it look like a puffy sticker.  My original idea was to just do Liquid Glass over top of the "HAPPY" but my hand wasn't steady enough and it got outside of the lines.  Then the letters started running together, so I just covered the whole thing.

I cheated in another way, too. I used Honey ink (not on the color palette for the week...bad Becca) to sponge around the edges of the sentiment cloud.  I think that extra bit of shading helps to really define the edges and set it apart.

If you plan to recreate this card, I highly recommend that you be generous with the foam mounting tape under the sentiment cloud, especially if you are going to do Liquid Glass over top.  And be sure to let the Liquid Glass dry overnight before you stick your card into an envelope or you stash of cards.  (Go ahead...ask me why I'm passing along that bit of advice.)

Cheating or not, this turned out exactly as I hoped and, aside from waiting for the Liquid Glass to dry, took about ten minutes to pull together.  Hey...if you're going to cheat, you better make it worthwhile.

Until next time,

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Happy 65th Anniversary

Today would have been my in-laws' 65th Anniversary.

My mother-in-law passed away two years ago.  My father-in-law, who suffers from dementia, still looks out for her.  Last time we went to visit and fill him in on all the family news, he said, "You know you're going to have to repeat all of this for Lyn."

I just didn't want the day to pass without doing something to honor them.

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Writer's World Wednesdays-Edits, Edits, and More Edits

Have you ever seen one of those filters that has multiple layers?  The first layer removes all the big stuff, the second, the medium, and the third filters out all but the very smallest stuff.  That's how editing works.  Once you have dealt with the big, glaring errors, the medium sized problems surface.  After you deal with them, the small ones suddenly show up.  And after you've fixed them, the nit-picky stuff seems to pop out like a neon sign.

I was fortunate to get my edits for Waiting on a Promise from the publisher back with nothing major to fix.  However, that doesn't mean we breezed through the editing process.  It took us about ten rounds back and forth working on this, that, and another thing.  In the end, though, I feel like we got down to the very nit-pickiest of issues that likely would have bugged only me.  I took the extra precaution of printing the story because I am better at seeing things when they are on paper and I have my trusty red pen in hand.  Call it a hold-over from my days as an English teacher.

Since I've never worked with this publisher before--shoot, I've never been published before so I don't know how ANY of them work--, I think the next thing that happens is an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC).  An ARC looks like a real book, but it has a small black band on the cover that denotes it's not quite ready for publication.  The publisher sends it to the authors, and we have a chance to catch things like a misspelled word, missing italics, or improper punctuation.  I really, really hope nothing pops out at me which was microscopic but now seems huge since I filtered down to the nit-picky level.

If it does, I'll have five months of private regret before the book goes live and everyone and their brother can comment on what a dumb mistake it was.

Until next time,