Crafting Tuesday: Crochet Cats

Y’all, I have a new obsession: crocheted cats! Before I begin this post, I need to point out that this pattern isn’t mine. All links and credit are at the bottom. However, I’ve had a blast making them and have even sold some to a friend. I’m making several to take them to author signings next year, so if you’re at any of those events, come snag one!

But why cats? First, the pattern is adorable, and second, I started making them when I began writing this year’s Diner book, which includes another black cat. Nightshade is one of my favorite characters and inspired me to crochet a little black cat to go with the book. I enjoyed the experience so much that I wanted to make more, but didn’t know what to do with them. That’s when I decided to take them with me to events and sell them because I don’t know what to do with a bunch of little cats in my apartment.

Nightshade, my first cat. And her cupcake.

I hadn’t crocheted much since last fall, but after losing Gunney, I couldn’t write for a while and stress from work and life was getting to me. So, I picked up crocheting again and immersed myself in it. I’ve been making more than the cats, but they are my favorite because of how cute they are. There’s just something about crocheting that relieves my stress, and it’s so enjoyable to me.

I’ve been crocheting for about 12 years, right after graduating from college. A dear friend of our family gave me and my sisters a crash course in it, and I’ll be honest, I stunk at it. Like, I couldn’t even figure out how to get the yarn onto the hook to even start it. It wasn’t really surprising to anyone, but it was obnoxious to me that I was having such issues. The next time we went shopping, I grabbed a beginners book on crocheting and some yarn and I started practicing all the time. It was a rough start, but I’d throw a movie on the TV (usually one of the Tremors movies since I’ve seen them enough it’s easy to just listen instead of watching) and I’d struggle through the pattern I was working on until one day, I got it. It was all so clear.

Now, I haven’t crocheted all the time for the past 12 years. It’s been off and on, but it’s always been when I needed to relax and enjoy the feel of yarn in my fingers. I’m no expert and I’m still learning, but I’m far more confident in my work now than when I was first starting out. I’m willing to try the harder patterns, and I’m able to manipulate patterns and make them mine, and I can create simple patterns that are all mine. Such as the book cozies. I recently took a cupcake pattern that I found and shifted it so that the pattern was completely different and all mine, and even more adorable. When I was first starting out, I never could’ve imagined it.

Like writing, crocheting has taken practice. Once that time has been put into it, there’s a sense of freedom and a need to break free and test new ideas and bend the rules. I haven’t done that with the cats yet, but I will be doing it eventually.

The funnest part of making the cats is the crocheting part. I’m not a fan of sewing pieces together. The second best part is choosing the colors, like what color ribbon to put with each cat. Some are easy choices while others are a little tricky. Sometimes, just choosing the eye and nose color can be tricky as well, especially with darker yarn for the cat. I’ve had so much fun choosing what color these cats should be. Some have turned out not quite as fun as I’d expected, while others are far more remarkable as I expected. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I do love the way the black yarn with gold thread comes out. Even the plain color instead of variegated turn out better than I expect each time.

Life can be stressful. That fact is certain. But if we find hobbies that can relieve that stress, we need to hold onto those and not let go. Do I crochet to monetize my hobby? No. It’s a nice side effect from having excess cats and other projects, but not why I do it. I just love making them. Now I’m branching out into using cotton yarn and making washcloths/dishcloths and other items. I search for fun patterns all the time, and can’t wait to find my next favorite that’ll be a hit. I’d love it if it was book themed as well.

What are your favorite crocheted items? Both to crochet or to look at or receive?

Pattern by Tilly at: https://tillysome.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/amigurumi-black-cat-free-pattern

Where The Grass Is Greener

You know that saying that goes something like, the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence? We’ve all been there. We’ve all watched what other people have or their position in life and life for them just seems so much better. We all do that. It’s become something I do even more since becoming an author. They say don’t compare your journey to others, but it’s hard when you feel like so many are passing you up and being successful, and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t keep up and get there too. You work and work but you’re just not doing something right.

But the truth is, you are doing something right. Hard work never goes unrewarded. It may not give you the rewards you thought you deserved or that you were aiming for, but you do get rewards. As long as you keep pushing in the direction you want to go, you’re doing it right.

Let’s go back to this idea of a journey. When we take vacations, none of us goes the same route, stops to see the same things, notices the same stuff, or makes it to the destination in the same amount of time. The same goes for our journeys through life. You can do the exact same thing as someone else (like me and a friend had a release at the same time and we had pretty much the same release plan and she soared right past me) but have different results based on so many things. Sometimes we don’t even know what those differences are. Sometimes it’s all luck with our hard work or their hard work.

But it all boils down to making your grass greener.

So first, stop staring at everyone’s grass. In today’s society with social media, that’s super hard to do. It’s always in your face how amazing everyone’s life is (or for those who constantly complain, how miserable they are). Unless you avoid social media altogether, this false view of everyone’s life only gives a partial view of what their life is like. Very few people actually post about the bad in their lives. This, my friends, is what we call AstroTurf. It’s not real. It’s a false concept of their grass. The grass may look green from a distance, but up close, you can tell it isn’t real. Stop drooling over the AstroTurf. You don’t need it.

Next, once you’re no longer looking at other’s grass, you can focus on your own. How much time do we spend fawning over the every so lucious grass of our neighbors’ and neglect our own in the process? This will never help us. Creating real green grass in our lives requires not only hard work, but our time. If we refuse to put in the time, it’ll never be as we’d like it to be. We all have brown spots in our grass, but how often do we take time to work on those spots to make them green again? Old habits you wish to change? Focus on that over watching others do it, or appear to be doing it. That brown grass is yours and only you can fix it, and you can’t fix it watching someone else’s grass grow greener.

But what if we’re putting in the hard work and spending the time on our grass but it just doesn’t seem to help? There’s a lot to consider when pondering this question. Even in our every day real lives, no two lawns are the same. You and your neighbor can treat it the same way, and one will still come out better. It’s a fact of life. The terrain may play a part, the amount of weeds to be removed, or what time you run your lawn sprinkler. The same goes with our lives. There are so many variables from the challenges we face to our personal circumstances. What type of job we have, how we manage our finances, where we live, our background and education. That doesn’t mean that our grass can’t become as green as we’d like it to be. It just means that it may take longer.

I often struggle with this and too often forget to remind myself of it. But the above quote always seems to ground me in remembering where my focus should be. Are other authors where I want to be in my career? Have they had those successes I’m dreaming about? Are they so far ahead of me on this path that I feel I can’t catch up? Yes. You bet they are. They work hard for it, just as I work hard to get there, only our grass is different. Mine obviously needs a lot more TLC. It can be frustrating, but there’s nothing wrong with it.

What I try to remind myself of is what am I learning on this journey and what steps am I taking to make sure my grass is actually getting greener instead of spinning my wheels. If we do nothing to change how our grass is looking, or just keep up the same maintenance of it, we can’t expect a change. Unless we’re extremely lucky, it will not happen. I’m trying to take the time to study more about what I can do to make those changes in my life and in my business to make sure I get that greener grass as a result of what I’m putting into it. If I’m constantly watching others and become jealous of their grass, I’m not putting enough effort into my grass, and after all, if I have to look at my grass more than my neighbors’ grass, why am I not putting more effort into it?

So, if you take nothing away from this save one thing, it’s to keep your eyes on your own grass. Forget about the AstroTurf on the other side of the fence.

Heather

Snippet Saturday: July 31

I’ve been failing on my Snippet Saturday so let’s see what I have for you today!!!

This snippet comes from one of my recent releases: Demon Fire.

A gust of wind raced passed us, sending a chill through me, even with the jacket in place. One of the men on the right side of the circle grunted. My eyes flicked to him. I’d hallucinated before, but never had any of them made noises.

He was a giant of a man, both tall and broad, and he was shirtless. Of course he was. Every inch of him that I could see was corded muscle, not an inch of fat on him. And the amount of muscle was staggering.

I could easily have looked at him all day drooling, but when he stepped toward me, no, stalked toward me, that idea vanished. He didn’t stop until he was right in front of me, solid arms boxing me in as he rested his hands on the car on either side of my body. My back had hit the passenger door as he’d approached, leaving me nowhere to escape.

The man leaned in, breathing deeply near my hair, my face, and then my neck. Each breath he took made his eyes burn brighter and my heartrate spiked and raced with even more wild terror. Either I was going to pass out because I couldn’t suck in enough air or my heart would give out. It was a toss-up to see which one occurred first.

Snarling at me, the man’s gaze returned to mine. “What is wrong with your eyes?”

My eyes widened at the other-worldly sound of his voice, and the lisp on his S’s. It was almost too smooth, and a light vibration and echo of some sort accompanied the sound. I had no idea how else to describe it besides unnerving as he glared at me with eyes that were practically on fire.

mybook.to/DemonFire

5 Year Author Journey!

Today marks the five year anniversary of my first book, Perfect Scents, releasing to the world! It has been an amazing five years, and I can’t believe it’s here already! So much has happened, it’s almost impossible to believe! I’ve made more friends, both author and reader, than I ever expected. I’ve attended author events in several different places. People actually like my books and can’t wait for the next one! I was hoping that would happen, but wasn’t sure it would. I have loyal fans. Again, not expected but hoped for.

My author proof shelf!

The only thing I would consider to be awful about these last five years was losing Gunney, my writing companion. I haven’t talked about it much, but I lost my best friend in March of this year. He was a special part of each book and writing was easier with him around. The words have been a struggle this year since losing him, but they’re coming faster now. He was always lying at my side or near me on a blanket, so it has taken some time to write alone without him when I’m writing at my place.

So, let’s go through some of the highlights (there are so many, I’m not going to be able to go over them all in this post).

The first is that I found out there are author signings. This is a two way street here. First, I got to meet my favorite author in person. I’d loved Karen Lynch’s books since I started reading them, and when I found out she was signing at different events, I had to go so I could meet her. Since then, I’ve read more and met more amazing authors as a reader. Those friendships have gone on to bigger and better things.

On the flip side, I have attended several signings as an author. It’s amazing to be able to network with other authors but then to also share my precious books with readers from all over. I still have a goal to do a signing outside of the USA, so one day it’ll happen. I’ve had to learn to come out of my shell and learn how to sell my books to those who’ve never heard of me. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s fun either way.

Last year, I participated in my first shared world anthology in The Diner. It was a fun experience to be able to build this world with three awesome ladies!  It was definitely a learning experience for all of us, and I continue to learn more as I do it. This year, I’m embarking on joining another shared world as we also work on The Diner 2. This is both an exciting thing to do, but it does have its challenges. I guess we’ll see how it all goes!

One of the things that has been special about this year is that my sister, Melanie Gilbert, and I have finally sat down and decided what book we’re writing together and going to finish it. So, in September, that book releases. We’re still working on it, but we’ve grown a lot in writing together since we first started doing it a few years ago. That was all great practice that has led up to the creation of Dark of the Night. It’s fun to be able to do what we love, but even better to do it together. So many people have been telling us to do it for years, and we’re finally doing it!

My last happiness of this adventure that I’m going to touch on, is my readers. I have several who tell others to read my books if I post in various groups. I have readers that one click whenever I post up a pre-order. I have FANS!!! Like, how did that happen? When did it happen? I love each and every one of them. They are the ones who make this an amazing adventure. If I didn’t have readers, I’d still write, but they make the experience far worth it. To each of you, thank you for enjoying my stories. You are amazing!!

There are so many more highlights to this author journey, and not enough time or space to write them all. I have been blessed beyond belief to make this journey. I’m hoping the next five years are even better than the first!

Heather

Crafting Tuesday: Glitter Ornaments

This year my mom has started crafting again more, which is something that I inherited from her. My favorite craft to work on is making Christmas ornaments. I make them out of anything I can find.

Saturday I arrived at my parents’ house for Christmas and Sunday night Mom and I were looking for something fun to do. I suggested ornaments, and she had a great idea to replicate an ornament she’d made her sister earlier. I couldn’t wait.

So, we got creative. We pulled out the clear bulbs, the glitter, and the cricut. And a few other things.

Pause on our project: my mother has so many crafting supplies. I love it, and one day I hope to have as much fun stuff as she has! I’m slowly making my way into building my crafting supplies, but it’s nowhere near all of her cool stuff she’s gathered along the way. I also need to organize mine better because she has hers all nice and organized.

Okay, back to the project.

So, we gathered up our supplies, and here’s how to do it:

Items needed: clear glass ornaments, floor polish, glitter, cricut, stick on vinyl.

Pour a little floor polish into the glass bulb and swirl it around gently until the inside is coated. Try not to make any bubbles. You won’t need that much force. Also have paper towel on hand as you’ll probably have to plug the open end with a finger, so you’ll want to clean off your finger so it doesn’t leave sticky residue on the outside of the bulb.

Next, pour glitter into the ornament. We used Dixie cups so we could make it more of a funnel shape to pour inside. You’ll need more glitter than you think you do, but do bits at a time. Empty extra glitter back into the glitter container.

Finally, choose your words, vinyl colors, and fonts for the cricut and cut out the lettering. Stick the letters onto the bulbs, and you’re done! It’s really quite simple, but a fun little craft.

We’ve created glitter ornaments before, but never placed the vinyl letters on them. They turned out wonderful. I think I may have to bring more bulbs and glitter with me the next time I visit so I can make more, but for now, four is enough. Though, you can never have enough ornaments!

Anything Goes Friday: Dec 18

Who’s looking for a Christmas book sale???? I have one just for you.

🎄🎄🎄It’s the Christmas book sale of the year!🎄🎄🎄

$.99 each for four books. Love shifters? Love Christmas? Love elves and Santa? Then these books are for you! They have it all and are great reads for readers of all ages.

sparkle bokeh of Christmas tree, Template mock up for display of your product for Christmas background, vintage toning

At the North Pole’s own Christmas Village, it’s Christmas every day and dragons pull Santa’s sleigh. So, what happens as the elves start to venture out of their Christmas wonderland? Anything can happen! Includes ice dragon, polar bear, and wolf shifters, and more elves than you can shake a candy cane at! Their antics will keep you laughing as they learn some perfect Christmas lessons…and find romance along the way.

https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Collection…/dp/B08PZ7VPJF

Travel Thursday: Bronner’s

Inside one of the entrances.

It’s been a while since I posted a travel post, and this is the perfect time to throw out another awesome destination! It’s finally December, my favorite month of the year. Christmas, lights, holiday music, garland, ornaments, hot chocolate, giving, and cheer. It’s my favorite. That means it’s perfect to introduce the perfect Christmas store!

Bronners is the Christmas Wonderland that each of us needs in our lives. The store, located in Frankenmuth, Michigan, is over 2 acres big with almost any Christmas item you can think of. The ornament section is beyond unbelievable. If you can think it, they have it. Inside is nothing but Christmas, from their products to the decorations lining the walls near the ceiling. There is no way, if you love Christmas, that you can leave that store emptyhanded. Trust me.

Growing up, my family always went down with my dad’s parents at least once a year. I say down because it was about 2 hours south of where I grew up. These were trips that I’ll always remember. We’d go shopping and then go out for lunch at the Bavarian Inn or Zenders. They have awesome chicken. We also found that going mid-summer was the best time for us as the store was far less crowded than it was nearer to Christmas.

Even the grounds are decorated and lit up at night for people to drive their cars around to see it all. I haven’t been able to see this since I was in middle or high school, but it’s on my to-do list again. If you’re in the area after dark, you should check this out.

For more information, please check out the site below. Also, you can sign up for their catalogue (which of course I’ve done). And PS they’re doing Facebook live visits with Santa, so check out the website for more details on this!

https://bronners.com/

Getting Crafty: Book Cozies

Let’s get crafty!!

This week we’re talking crochet. To be more specific, let’s talk crocheted book cozies. For anyone who may not know what a book cozy is, it’s a sleeve that keeps your book safe. You slide it in and voila, safe, especially when traveling. I’ve seen some crocheted and sewn with material.

Almost a year ago, I wanted to start crocheting more again, and to make something others might like or want, so I decided to create a book cozy. Now, I’m positive there are patterns out there and they’re wonderful, but I decided to use my creativity even more and created my own pattern.

I have two sizes, one for a 6×9 book and a 5.5×8. Each one also has a fun decoration on the top. At the beginning, it was only flowers as I became familiar with the pattern. Now, I have more yarn color choices and want to create better themes and also branch out in color. I made a cozy out of pinker yarn and then added some leaves to the front. Soon I plan to attempt a sunflower.

So far, I’ve kept the pattern to myself, but perhaps some day I’ll write it up better and put it on this site for people to find. The next goal is to attempt to make up another pattern for something fun and to create another style of book cozy. I can’t help but want to make more, and they don’t take long.

If you’re interested in a custom cozy or one that I have already created, please reach out to me via my contact page. They’re $10 plus shipping. Every book lover needs a cozy!

Happy reading!

Music Monday: Dec 7

In the past, Mondays have been reserved for books and indie authors. I’m currently working to revamp the blog a little, so Monday is now switching to a Music & Books day. Why the change? Well, I was just sitting here at my desk staring at my TV playing Pandora and the song playing reminded me of one of my books. In fact, I think it was one of my books theme songs, so I thought it’d be fun to have a day to talk music and books. Either one or together.

Music plays a large role in many authors lives. Some can’t write with music on, some have to have music but with no words, and others can listen to anything. I’m in the last group, but I tend to listen to the current work’s “playlist”. Whatever songs put me instantly into the mood for that book or who make me feel what I need to for the book (this year’s Christmas book didn’t have any Christmas songs in the playlist.

With this being said, I’ll go through the different books and their playlists, but also talk music in general. I like to listen to a broad range of music (with a few exceptions). What do you like to listen to?

Snippet Saturday: Oct 24

Today’s snippet is from my book Whispered Summons in the Halloween anthology Something In The Shadows published by Midnight Tide Publishing. It releases Oct 28th and I can’t wait for you to read this story!!! I just love Cass, and maybe one day I’ll turn this novella into a full length novel.

“Iz, I made a mistake last night, but I didn’t know it.” I took a deep breath and squeezed her hands, her grip on me almost painful. “Last night, after you went to bed, I was reading through a book on demons, and I happened to murmur a spell. I didn’t think anything of it because they’re usually complex spells. Well, apparently this is one of the easiest spells, so all you have to do is recite it.”

“Meeps, what happened?”

I was avoiding the truth for as long as possible, but it was only upsetting Izzy further. Taking my hands back, I wiped my face and heaved a heavy sigh. This was it.

Meeting Izzy’s terrified face, I confessed my sin. “Last night I summoned a demon.”

Her mouth popped open. Even young Izzy knew better than to do that. It was dark magic and forbidden by our coven.

“I didn’t plan on it,” I urged, wanting my baby sister to understand what was happening. “It was a mistake. How was I supposed to know?”

“Is he going to kill us?” Izzy squeaked, her body starting to tremble with the news.

I shook my head. “No, I don’t think so. He’s not that kind of demon.”

Eyes widening further, Izzy gasped softly. “There’s more than one type of demon?”

“Apparently so, which is exactly what I was looking at last night,” I muttered. “All the spells were so incredibly complex. I just happened to pick the one that wasn’t complex to whisper.”

“What are you going to do?”

I deflated as a fist banged against the door in a solid knock that made us both squeak, and I grabbed Izzy, keeping myself between the door and her.

https://books2read.com/u/4NL5lW