Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Day 37

A venting day today.

About 20 years ago my husband and I took a trip to Tasmania. I made all the arrangements and bookings myself, including car hire with Hertz via a phone call to their Launceston office. At the time I was an Office Manager and quite in the habit of recording 'detail' so all my arrangements were noted in my diary - who I spoke with, the prices quoted, times, places etc etc. I took the diary with me, fortunately, because I was to refer to it as soon as we landed in Launceston. We arrived at the Hertz counter only to be told there was no booking for a car in our name. Fine - we will book one now then. No can do - there was a HQ car race on in Launceston that weekend and every hire car in the area was booked. I referred them to my diary where I had written down all the details and the name of the person I had spoken with who took my booking. Their answer - no person by that name works here, we've never heard of her before. Was the customer right? No! Did the customer get satisfaction? No! We had to catch a bus.

So what have I learned from that experience and from another 20 years of experiences since then? That it doesn't matter how well you organise something it will proboably go wrong. As my husband says, you can't put brains in monuments, and a lot of the time these days you are dealing with people who don't care, can't be bothered, don't like the way you look so won't give you service, have a chip on their shoulder, don't have any standards, can't spell, can't write, can't get out of their own way ... I could type all day.

My reason for venting is related to my attempts to organise things for the book launch this weekend. Everything I need to do should be simple. I'm not organising a wedding for Prince William or High Tea for the Prime Minister with several hundred guests. It is a simple book launch for 50 people.

My husband went to the local supermarket deli last Sunday to obtain a brochure for me detailing their platters. He came home empty handed because the helpful person behind the counter said "The manager has put them somewhere and we can't find them." So I returned to the store on Monday to obtain a brochure, expecting the manager would be there and know where they were. I came home empty handed. This time the response was that they actually didn't have any brochures but I could look it up on the internet. Fine. That's what I did. I compared one supermarket with the other for prices and value and made my decision.

Today I returned to the supermarket to place my order. The woman strolled around the back to fetch the order book and strolled back round to me. (That's okay - I have all the time in the world to stand around awaiting her pleasure.) She then stood there, pen poised and just lookd at me. I looked back. I raised my eyebrows. She remained mute. I asked "Well what are my choices?" (As far as I was concerned, this woman had no idea that I had lookd at the internet, or that I knew what options she had for me.) "I could read them all out for you if you like." I knew this would be rather tedious so I thought "here we go - I'm going to have some fun with this!" (Fun in a sarcastic way, not a happy way.) So I asked the logical question "Well, don't you have anything I could look at to see what my options are?"



"Do you have any sandwich platters?"

"Yeah, we've got rolls."

I actually knew what she meant from searching the internet so I said I'd have them.

She noted the number and then stared at me again.

I stared back.

The pause became too long. I felt like Clint Eastwood in a major staredown. "What about the Aussie platter?" I asked.

"Yeah. How many?"

"What's included on the platter?"

"Kabana, ham, cheese, biscuits and dip."

"What about twiggy sticks?"

"Nah, there are no twiggy sticks."

According to the internet, there were twiggy sticks. The woman tossed a question over her shoulder at a younger woman who then strolled over and informed me categorically that the twiggy sticks were not on the Australian platter, they were on the gourmet platter. I told her that if they had brochures or some form of pictures with lists available we would have been able to compare the contents and resolve the issue because I was adamant that the internet showed tiwggy sticks. She repeated about four times (because naturally I am the stupid one) that they had ordered the brochures several times but they just hadn't come. In my mind I'm thinking the store should have a folder with at least one brochure in it so that the staff know what they are supposed to be selling/preparing, but it seems that would be too sensible.

In the end I threw up my arms, told them to forget it (I knew anything I ordered today would be totally messed up when I went to pick it up on Saturday) and I told her that it simply wasn't good enough. There had been 3 attempts to organise this and I still couldn't get satisfaction.

Did the two women care.


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Day 36

My feet hit the floor running today. Took hubby to the station at 6:45am then after breakfast I spent quite a while sorting out emails and responding to same. I hadn't blogged since Thursday so had to catch up with that. I've been concentrating so much on trying to finish the quilt for the launch that I have not paid enough attention to the launch itself. That was rectified today as I ran about researching catering options and balloons. Being unsure exactly what the numbers could be on the day, catering is somewhat difficult, particularly in relation to drinks. My husband will tell you I make a very poor hostess indeed, but I can't be good at everything! (wry grin). Daughter helped me surf the net for catering and we resolved where to go and how to go about it. Balloons are ordered and I'm picturing lots of fun and games picking them up on Saturday and getting them all to the hall.
While sorting out some paperwork I found a list I had drawn up a couple of months ago with ideas for the book launch. It had a few things on it that had slipped my mind. One was to send invites to publishing houses (you never know if you don't try something). I had to put together a quick read bio to print out and sent that with a couple of tickets to the launch to 14 publishers and 2 main newspapers. We'll see what happens.
Meanwhile, I was waiting for the fabric to come from Canberra, sent express mail (or that's what I paid for) so that I could continue sewing my Elizabeth Challenge quilt and get it to the quilter. The mail arrived but it did not include the awaited fabric. Something has gone wrong - again. I finally took this as another sign from the universe that the quilt is not meant to be completely finished by next Saturday and resigned myself to this fact. I'm hoping the reason for this will be revealed in the next week.
Other achievements for the day were 5 sales, a review copy sent to Homespun magazine, the key to the hall pick up, hall paid for, a little bit of sewing done and a little bit of research reading.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Day 35

I don't know why I didn't post this on Friday because it was a VERY EXCITING day. My new book, The Elizabeth Challenge Quilt, was delivered to my house by my wonderful printer. Thanks Rob, from Maroondah Printers in Ringwood. He really looks after me. I can't say there weren't any problems with production because there were, but Rob overcame them and now the book is in my loungeroom waiting for readers. I was at work when the delivery was made so missed out on that excitement. My loyal family greeted me a little after 9pm by coming out onto the verandah in the rain and ushering me inside quickly to see the books. I have been feeling nauseous for the past two weeks hoping I have not made any mistakes putting the book together.
It is actually Monday morning. The rain is still falling and the rain gauge is almost full. I'm enjoying the rain because the more we have the less struggle we will have over summer. I hope the rain keeps falling. Another positive aspect to constant rain is that I don't feel at all bad sitting inside in the warmth, sewing. That is what I did this weekend just gone. My hand is holdng out thanks to a reducton in computer work. Friday presented another hurdle to overcome when I received an overnight delivery from a patchwork shop in NSW of the fabric I needed to continue with my Elizabeth Challenge quilt. It was the wrong colour. I hopped on the phone and found another shop in Canberra that had the fabric I needed in the right colour. It will be here on Monday. So many obstacles have been put before me in regards to this quilt that my daughter keeps telling me it is not meant to be completed - certainly not in time for the launch. At this point I have to agree. But I will have the top completed even if I cannot manage the quilting and binding.
On Saturday morning I picked up my new spectacles. This was a good thing because I have had to resort to wearing two pairs of glasses while sewing - the magnified pair to see my work and my normal glasses to look up to see the TV. My family have become quite used to this strange spectacle (pardon the pun). My husband just looks at me and shakes his head. But I like to watch tele as I sew and my old glasses wouldn't permit me to do both things. The up side to the new specs is the reduction in weight on my nose. Plus they look prettier.
Now - time to organsie book orders and hone the plans for the book launch. We'll see what the week brings.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Day 34

After another day of sewing like a madwoman in an attempt to finish my Elizabeth Challenge quilt I required an ice pack to relieve my swollen hand. I have pain in my right hand and wrist, elbow and shoulder, all strange when you consider I am left-handed. The reason for the right hand playing up is twofold. I am holding the quilt firmly in my right hand as I sew, using the same pinching position all the time. The second reason is because I use that hand to operate the mouse when working on the computer and find my wrist rests on the edge of the desk, causing pressure that results in what I assume is pinched nerves. At work I have nothing to rest my arm on when doing computer work so that my arm hangs in the air and this results in the shoulder pain. The only resolution I can think of is to not do work!

Seriously though, I had spent an hour and a half in the morning creating the letterhead for the Glenvale Patchwork and Quilting Guild. I designed it a couple of nights ago and it was just a matter of making it a reality on the computer. I am very pleased with the result. Then I put together the rules for the Elizabeth Challenge quilt on the letterhead to be given to my guests at my book launch on 3 October. Am thinking I'll get them printed properly at the printer rather than on my home printer. They'll look much better.

I received and posted another order, tried to contact my machine quilter about getting the Elizabeth Challenge quilt done and even fitted in a little reading time. A fruitful day.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Day 33

It's official !! I'm a duffer. According to my friend Karen I have now been dubbed a 'duffer' for spilling tea on my Elizabeth Challenge quilt. Fair cop. I'll wear the title just like my quilt wore the tea. Apparently that now means I am (according to my dictionary) an "ineffiecient, useless or stupid person". I felt all of those things when I did it. However ... I have now completely repaired all the damage done to the quilt. So Karen needs to come up with a new noun for me.

Here are the photos of the book I mentioned yesterday. Within it I write all my ideas. The pages are completely blank, giving me a canvas on which to paint with words and ideas. I've taken to carrying it with me. Unfortunately a lot of my ideas come to me as I'm drifting off to sleep, when I am way too tired to write them down. I figure if I can remember them in the morning they are worth writing down - if not, perhaps they were bad ideas.

Apart from all the time spent fixing the quilt I also managed a phone call to a patchwork shop; received and posted off an order; sent away some more tickets for the book launch; AND I managed to read a whole chapter for research. Furthermore I came up with a design for the Glenvale Patchwork and Quilting Guild letterhead. Tomorrow I'll have to see if I can put it together on the computer.

Am very pleased with the amount achieved today.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Day 32

As you know I had a disaster with my Elizabeth Challenge quilt yesterday when I spilled tea over the quilt and a number of garden blocks. Today I had patchwork group with my friends so I sat down and unpicked all the hexagons that are now stained from the ink on the (recycled) papers. Here are the photos showing the unsewing I did and some of the offending hexagons. This means I will probably give up on the idea of having this quilt finished in time for the book launch on 3 October (notice I said 'probably').

Otherwise, the more positive things of the day were: another order received and a few more enquiries; the last of the sheep tickets for the launch were cut out and several handed out to people at work; and I read another chapter in the book I purchased recently to research my next novel. I also did some handwriting - put down some notes in my special handmade book about the plot for my next novel. I'll have to put up a photo of my special book - tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Day 31

Fantastic news and not so fantastic news...

Saturday was a huge success. I went to Geelong to speak at the meeting of the Geelong Patchwork and Quilter's Guild where I was warmly welcomed. The ladies were all very freindly and made me feel comfortable. I am always nervous about speaking because I don't feel I do it particlarly well - that's why I'm an author! I prefer to write rather than speak. But many ladies thoughtfully made a point of telling me they enjoyed my talk and thought I spoke very well. The day finished with book sales and signing. Before I knew what had happened, I looked up from the little table where I was seated with my books in front of me and saw a long queue of women with cash in hand waiting to buy my book. It was a wonderful experience, and for half an hour I truly was an author. I signed books for everyone and sold all the copies I had with me (30). I want to thank the women at Geelong for supporting me and making me feel like I was doing something worthwhile.

Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the day.
Today turned out a bit of a bummer when I was discussing my Elizabeth Challenge quilt with a friend while having a cup of tea. I knocked the cup with only two mouthfuls of tea in it but enough to cover a fair distance. The edge of my quilt and many blocks sitting in front of me were covered with tea. The papers still in the white linen hexagons around the edges were made from reused paper with printing on one side that leached as soon as the tea hit it and consequently stained the white fabric very successfully. My friend and I took the papers out as quickly as possible but the staining was instantaneous. I'll look at it tomorrow to see how much extra work I have created for myself.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Day 30

Spent most of my day with my daughter. We went looking for new papers she can use to cover her books with and found some fantastic, colourful papers that will look superb. Progress for my own goal included answering 8 email enquiries, received an order in the mail and read one chapter of a new book I purchased for research for my next novel.
... And I cut out some more sheep!
By bedtime I felt I was coming down with my husband's cold - just in time for my special day tomorrow. Saturday: I am guest speaker at the Geelong Patchwork Guild. Mum is coming along too, and a family friend which will make it even harder to speak. It's easier speaking to people you don't know, and easier speaking to larger numbers. But I've done this once before so I should be okay. Can't deny a few nerves though.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Day 29

Today I'm going to write about my daughter's achievements instead of my own. A little breaking of the rules.

My girl has been working hard making books by hand. She starts from scratch, folds the paper into 'signatures', sews them together, glues and mulls the spines, makes covers with pretty papers and puts it all together somehow. She's very clever. Today she had her very first stall to sell her beautiful books. Unfortunately she was placed in a poor position where people could not find her easily, but despite that she had plenty of interest and sold a few books. Further to that she learned a heap of stuff - what people are attracted to, that colour is important to people, how to talk to them, that people need guidance when shopping etc. Her head was spinning when she got home. Best of all she was really inspired. It was such a joy to see. I'm so proud.
My girl is also very selfless - she had copies of my book, The Maria Challenge Quilt for sale alongside her own. She sold two copies for me. I think that is incredible to share possible customers like that.
I am trying to talk her into covering books with fabric - patchwork fabric! Ooooh - can you imagine the possibilities?

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Day 28

After a day of more emails and phone calls I found a little bit of time to sit and sew my Elizabeth Challenge quilt. You may not believe it, but I am still trying to finish it in time for the book launch. The trouble is, I am having a lot of difficulty turning a giant hexagon into a rectangle. I can hardly believe how stumped I am as I sit staring at the quilt spread out on the floor and ponder where to place the next flower gardens so that it will start looking like a square or rectangle. Usually I am very good at puzzles. This time I think I need to take a walk down the street and consult a patchwork friend. Maybe tomorrow.
After admitting to myself I'd lost the battle for the day (but definitely not the war!) I put aside my sewing and went to my paid job. My day was finished late in the evening with the most fantastic, supportive email received from a reader of The Maria Challenge Quilt in response to yesterday's blog. Thank you, Vicki, for finishing my day on such a high note.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Day 27

A good day. I received 2 orders for a total of 48 books. It was the result of all the hard work I put in during the morning putting notices on email groups and contacting people. I also contacted the local newspapers about my book launch and they will do an article in both Whitehorse and Maroondah. I also sent an email to the Herald Sun. A phone call to the book reviewer at the Melbourne Age was not as positive as I would have hoped, but then it wasn't entirely negative. I was told (bluntly by his admission) that self-published books were not edited by professionals so they generally weren't of an acceptable standard. I'd like all my readers to negate that statement - I may not officially be a professional editor, but that doesn't mean I can't write an inspired story, with good grammar and spelling. I've read plenty of books that were total crap in all the aforementioned ways and they were edited by professionals. And as for newspapers - one could hazard a guess they aren't proofread at all these days. Still, I'll send him a copy of Elizabeth when it's available and see what happens. I'm not perturbed - I sold 48 books today!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Day 26

After a weekend of much sewing culminating in a swollen hand and the ice pack being retrieved from the freezer, today I continued without too much pain. I had to seriously consider my intentions with this project. Now the bed, for which this quilt is intended, has been raised to 30"- a considerable height - the quilt would need to be 11' by 7' in size if it is to reach the floor on both sides. Currently it is about a third of what it needs to be. I calculated a required 10 yards of fabric for backing, finishing and binding and the costs involved and have to conclude that all of this is simply not reasonable in a ten day timeframe. I do think I could do it if I put my mind to it, and all my time, but have decided to concentrate my efforts elsewhere. The quilt will be made, but considerably smaller.
Today I also contacted the printer to give them the go-ahead, having completely checked the proof over the weekend. Can't say I'm not nervous because I certainly am.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Day 25

I met a lovely lady today, a fellow patchworker who came to pick up a copy of Maria for a woman in England. That is so exciting! My book will be in England! We had a pleasant chat about things and I invited her to me book launch. Meanwhile I did a lot more sewing on my Elizabeth Challenge quilt - still a long way to go.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Day 24

For the first time in months I woke up without thinking I had to either write or edit, which was a good feeling. I took it a little easier today and spent my time sewing. The pressure is not off though - we decided the Elizabeth Challenge quilt I am making would be nice on our bed and look particularly good if it went to the floor on both sides. Then we bought a new bed which was put together last night. I came home from work to find I need steps to get into my new bed! I'm not joking. The top is 76cm (30") from the floor which means an extra 5 feet of patchwork quilt I have to make with a deadline ten days away. Seems I have two chances and they're both in Bourke Street (Buckleys and Nunn). So blogwatchers - can she do it? Watch this space.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Day 23

Today simply had to be my lucky day. According to numerology my lucky number is 9 and today's date is 9/9/09. I took my book, The Elizabeth Challenge Quilt to the printer! Here I am with my usb about to enter. Before I got there I had a little more editing to do, had to put the back cover together and do a final check over the whole thing. I have to say I was full of nerves but that's what going out of one's comfort zone is all about - stretching your personal boundaries. Everything looked all right at the printers and I shall have a proof before we go ahead. It's now becoming very exciting.

Day 22

How can I turn today into a positive?
I spent the morning reading, reading and more reading only to conclude I wasn't going to be able to read it all in the timeframe I had. Furthermore, I found I'd changed one of the character's names! He was not a major character, but still ... I'm sure readers would have picked up on a character being one name in the first book and a different name in the second book. It sent me into a panic. Thank heaven for 'find and replace'. I fixed the error easily enough but I have to admit it shook my confidence. What if I've made some other big mistake? Self-publishing has its advantages. This type of thing is one of the disadvantages. If I make a big mistake and have to reprint, then the financial responsibility is all mine and I can't afford to make any mistakes. Hence my confidence has been shaken up, big time.
So how do I turn it into a positive. Well, I found the mistake before it went to print. That's a HUGE positive. It made me slow down after which I was able to read the rest of the manuscript all the way through. Only small details were picked up that needed changing, and even if I hadn't picked them up they were not consequential. I'm another day late taking it to the printer but that is probably a positive too.
I had some enquiries by email, a really positive conversation with someone about future directions, and at the end of the day I cut out some more sheep tickets for relaxation. And a final really nice thing that happened - I received 5 metres of fabric in the mail that I had ordered from the US - beautiful pieces to inspire beautiful quilts.
Tomorrow is a new day.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Day 21

Reading, reading and more reading.
I started the day going through emails and catching up on some I had overlooked. Then I sent off a few requests to people asking them for testimonials, but not before I had spent considerable time trying to find their original emails. I went through nearly 200 deleted emails, twice, looking for them. Panic set in for a while, resolved by a cup of strong coffee and a lamington. Lamingtons can fix most things. I found what I was looking for and was back on track. Three phone calls resulted in left messages and the inevitible wait for them to follow up.
Finally my proofreader, aka daughter, finished the book allowing me to get on with the changes that needed to be made. We consulted over a number of points with decisions being made to a satisfactory end. Then I dumped the whole file into Publisher and laid it out as I wanted, going through it twice to check that it flowed correctly from one page to another and that the style was consistent. I ran out of time to print the whole lot before I had to go to work, but did manage 7 chapters. Five of those have now been re-read with the rest waiting for me when I go to bed - more reading. I HAVE to get it to the printer tomorrow ...
Oh ... and I designed and put together a little add on for those who attend the book launch.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Day 20

Received two cheques in the mail, one order for a Maria, visited a patchwork shop to chat with the owner about the Elizabeth book launch, popped in at the printers to check all okay, managed some research reading and cut out lots of sheep. All in all a forward moving kind of day. I still have several emails to catch up with and editing and proofing to do. Why do I always leave things until the last minute?

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Day 19

Cutting out the tickets for the book launch is fun ... for a while. I love the shape of the sheep so the effort is worthwhile. Tickets for the launch are limited and entry is by ticket only so request one via my email.
Received a cheque in the mail (always nice). Otherwise my achievements today included responding to more emails and further research reading ... and some more cutting out of sheep. I shouldn't have any problem falling asleep tonight.

Day 18

Whoooaa ... don't you hate late night hangovers! They're more annoying because you don't even have the fun of drinking alcohol, and you just feel hung over. It's been a doozie of a day feeling worn out and then havng bad hay fever on top of it. I really struggled to get through the day. Still, I managed a few emails regarding my new book and I fitted in some reading time to research the next novel. I also picked up the tickets for the book launch from the printer and they look fantastic. The day wasn't wasted.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Day 17

What a busy day! Joined the scquilters commercial group so I could advertise my book launch and by lunch time had a request for a ticket, request for wholesale information and someone wanted to buy a copy now. By the end of the day there were more than a dozen enquiries. Meanwhile I raced down to my printer to organise the printing of the invitations for the book launch. Fortunately I can pick them up tomorrow. Am also organising the printing of a little bonus to go with the latest novel, The Elizabeth Challenge Quilt - quote on it's way. While at the printers I checked that the cover will print clearly because it didn't really look the best on the screen. It came out very well, so I'm happy.
My day fnished with a three and a half hour phone call from my friend who has edited the book, as we went through corrections and additions. Now that's done I feel like I'm better organised. Thanks LM for all your wonderful work and the fact that you care so much. What a brilliant friend.
My head it the pillow at 1:30 am.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Day 16

Sent off and order for a copy of Maria, wrote four letters to people, and sent of several emails to advertise the book launch on 3 October. Managed a few hours of reading time in which I researched for my next novel. This one is not a part of the Australian Challenge Quilt Series, but a new one aimed at young adults. It has absolutelt nothing to do with vampires and I think it will be the next big thing.