Saturday, August 27, 2011

Petticoats, Quilts, and Comforters

A week before my road trip, I scurried around putting together a short proposal for Abingdon Press's Quilts of Love series. I was very excited of the prospect of inclusion in this series and set to research for a colonial period quilting theme. Less than three weeks later my agent notified me that it was accepted!

I received the good news email on the evening of the first anniversary of my step-dad's passing.  Seems like my book projects come with highs and lows, the bitter and the sweet. Within moments of reading the email, and before I even had a chance to tell anyone my head felt like it was about to explode and started throbbing most intensely. I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and they suspected life threatening conditions and possible need for a neurosurgeon. After testing and bringing my symptoms under control it was determined that it must have been a strange variation of migraine combined with the intense high blood pressure. Apparently the news was too much for me! Now home, I've followed up with my doctor and am on Prednisone, yet again, and feeling much better. But the good news I received right before this episode was like a promise from the Lord that He still had work ahead for me.

So, without further ado . . .

A Design for Love (Whole-cloth Quilt)
Boston, Massachusetts, 1770
Honour Metcalf’s quilting needlework is admired by a wealthy customer of the Boston mantua-maker for whom she works. In need of increasing her earnings, she agrees to create an elaborate white work bridal quilt for the dowager’s niece. A beautiful design emerges as she carefully stitches the intricate patterns and she begins to dream of fashioning a wedding quilt of her own. When Honour is falsely accused of thievery and finds herself in a perilous position, merchant tailor Joshua Sutton, comes to her aid. As he risks his relationships, reputation, and livelihood to prove her innocence, the two discover a grander plan—a design for love.

Tailor at the Margaret Hunter Shop,
Colonial Williamsburg
It was much fun seeing the display of beautiful quilts, like the whole-cloth quilt pictured above.  I also was able to ask about quilted petticoats at the milliner and mantua-maker's shop (Margaret Hunter's Shop) at Colonial Williamsburg and view the exhibits on colonial dress at the Dewitt Walace Decorative Arts Museum on Fashion Accessories from Head to Toe. 

This lovely work bag (circa 1760-80) caught my attention as something that my quilter might own or acquire, and the period is perfect for my story. It is equipped with special compartments and pin cushion sides and I believe worn tied about the waist.

As a memento of my trip I brought home a pretty Kate McCrostie quilted placemat as a reminder of all the pretty things I saw and for the hope I had in my heart to write the story swirling about in my head.

This talk about quilting makes me also think of comfortors and the comfort I received from my joyful vacation, wonderful news, and God's watchcare over me during my time of grieving and illness makes me ever mindful that "our comfort is abundant through Christ." (2 Cor. 1:5)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Back from my journey!

Carla's Mom (Joyce Buckley), Carla, and Carrie Fancet Pagels

I'm back from my trip! Join me over to Colonial Quills as I share some of my adventures. More to follow!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Road Trip

I'm heading out for a couple of weeks on a road trip with my Mom. I've never been further west than Mississippi so this is a grand adventure. This special trip overlaps the first anniversary of my Dad's passing, such a difficult season that we went through last year. But this time it will be filled with celebration.  In fact, this Mom and Daughter outing will commemorate our big birthdays. Mom will be 70 in September, and I will be, oh, dear, 50 in November. This trip will include time to write, research, and even visit a writer friend. My itinerary includes:  Photoshoot & Family Visits (MA). Family wedding (OH). Creation Museum (KY). Colonial Williamsburg & Visits with Writer Friends (VA). Family Visits (MA). Home again (ME) to finish writing Colonial Courtships.

See you when I return!

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Writing Under Difficulties

Have you ever written under great difficulties?

I sure have. Sometimes I liken the life of a writer to that of a mailman. "Come rain, come snow, come hail or
Laptop of the 1890's!
sleet, the postman always delivers." And authors do, too. Many writers I know have endured terrible difficulties under which they had to press on. Last year at this time was such a time for me during the last days of my step-father's life I was writing my novel, The Shadow Catcher's Daughter. After Dad died I had 4 weeks remaining to complete it. My publisher graciously allowed me 2 extra weeks. And by the grace of God I completed it. There have been other difficulties I have worked through (health issues, family responsibilities, personal challenges, etc.) as many of you have. One thing I have determined — writing is not for the faint of heart.

Here are some excerpts from past times that testify to this fact. I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A 19th Century Take on Women Writing Literature

'Writing is like flirting: if you can't do it, nobody can teach you; and if you do it, nobody can stop you.' So says the heroine of a contemporary novel, and I am bound to say that I agree with her.

So states Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler, the author of an 1905 article in The Writer, a popular Boston literary magazine which commenced publication in 1882 and is still being produced. I get such a kick out of reading old writings — illuminating society of past times, yet sometimes resonating with the thoughts we have today.

As the article continues I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did for both advice and humor.

To those who feel that they cannot write now, but some day hope they will, I can only give the celebrated advice of Punch "to persons about to marry"— "Don't." If you feel that you can help writing, by all means do help writing, and turn your thoughts and your wishes in another direction.

"Mute, inglorious Miltons," believe me, are very rare birds indeed. As a rule genius — like murder — "will out." I fear I have not much patience with those people who are convinced that they could have done some great thing if circumstances had been different. Circumstances have very little to do with the question. These persons could have done some great thing if they themselves had been different, I admit; but that is the only "if" they can lawfully plead.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Make a Way

Make a Way by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman (Streams in the Desert)

"I will make all my mountains a way" (Isa.49:11).

God will make obstacles serve His purpose. We all have mountains in our lives. There are people and things that threaten to bar our progress in the Divine life. Those heavy claims, that uncongenial occupation, that thorn in the flesh, that daily cross--we think that if only these were removed we might live purer, tenderer, holier lives; and often we pray for their removal.

"Oh, fools, and slow of heart!" These are the very conditions of achievement; they have been put into our lives as the means to the very graces and virtues for which we have been praying so long. Thou hast prayed for patience through long years, but there is something that tries thee beyond endurance; thou hast fled from it, evaded it, accounted it an unsurmountable obstacle to the desired attainment, and supposed that its removal would secure thy immediate deliverance and victory.

Not so! Thou wouldest gain only the cessation of temptations to impatience. But this would not be patience. Patience can be acquired only through just such trials as now seem unbearable.
Go back; submit thyself. Claim to be a partaker in the patience of Jesus. Meet thy trials in Him. There is nothing in life which harasses and annoys that may not become subservient to the highest ends. They are His mountains. He puts them there. We know that God will not fail to keep His promise. "God understandeth the way thereof and knoweth the place thereof. For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven"; and when we come to the foot of the mountains, we shall find the way.--Christ in Isaiah, by Meyer

"The meaning of trial is not only to test worthiness, but to increase it; as the oak is not only tested by the storm, but toughened by them."