Saturday, March 30, 2013

Achoo!

My name is Sneezy Sequins today.

(Because I have a cold.)

I'm sniffling and snuffling into my socks,

And boy, it's getting old!
I'm sickly and sore and sour, you see.
I wish this cold would slink away!

And that is why I do no have

A blog post for you to read today.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Epic Indie Book Fair of Awesome!

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Today's the day of the Epic Indie Book Fair of Awesome! A self-published book fair and celebration of authors who bypassed the gatekeepers of the publishing world, took matters into their own hands... and created some seriously impressive work in the process.

I hope you enjoy browsing (and buying!) as much as I enjoyed putting this together. There's a nice mix of fiction, inspiration, business, and of course, beadwork. And even though this is theoretically a book fair, I've included self-published work of all kinds, including tutorials, e-books... and a workbook that rhymes!

Are you ready? Here we go!

Fantastic Fiction!

Johnny B. Truant, Fat Vampire.  Sick to death (ha) of sparkly vampires? Well, this book is for you! It's the first in the Fat Vampire series -- as I type this, there are three others. Also see Johnny's Amazon author page for more awesome stuff!

Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt, Unicorn Western.  This is a young adult series, and yes, it's really a Western with unicorns! And guns with pink smoke. I'm buying this for myself today.

Jessica Wagstrom, The Most Popular Book in the Whole World. This is a parody of Twilight involving aliens who crap rainbows. I've read every book in the series, and honestly, it's not just hilarious -- it's brilliant! It gets better with each book, and the characters are endearing. This girl is a true genius, and I'm not just saying that because we've been friends for years. Go here for more books!


Incredible Inspiration!

Lori Anderson, Follow The Path. This is a collection of blogging prompts by a creative entrepreneur, well-known jewelry blogger, and the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party. If I'm not mistaken, there's plenty of eye candy in this book, too.

Mark McGuinness, Resilience. Mark writes about one of my favorite topics -- dealing with rejection and criticism. I read the first few chapters of his book, which he offers for free, and I definitely want to read more!

Michelle Ward, Running Over Writing Roadblocks. I haven't read Michelle's book yet, but after reading her blog and finding out that Amazeballs is also her favorite word, I knew I had to include her! I think we were separated at birth.


Bodacious Business!

Margot Potter, The Fine Art of Shameless Self Promotion.  This is Margot's book on how to get noticed. If you've read Margot's blog, seen her on TV, or bought any of her beading books, you know that she knows what she's talking about.

Srinivas Rao, The Small Army Strategy. This book is about creating genuine, meaningful relationships with your blog readers. Srini is one of my favorite bloggers -- he always has something interesting and relevant to say, and he's got some fantastic reader engagement. I can tell this book is going to rock.

Michelle Ward, An Effective Escape. This book is about quitting your day job without having to move in with your parents. She's also written a rhyming workbook (!!!) called  Operation: Creative Career Cheer! My inner Seuss approves.


Awesome Art!

Alison Rasmussen, Alice: Out of the Box.  Alison is a doll collector and fantastic writer. This book features a collection of dolls inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Go here for more awesome doll books!

Joanie Springer, Apples with Spunk!  Joanie offers this painting tutorial for free to everyone who subscribes to her newsletter! Those are some seriously gorgeous apples. 



Badass Beading!

Mandi Ainsworth, Freeform Peyote Heart Tutorial. After seeing Mandi's incredible piece for the Freeform Peyote Challenge,  I was excited to see that she'd created a heart tutorial. Those hearts are adorable! 

Nicole Campanella, Flatwork. Nicole is a talented artist who really knows her flatwork, also known as bead embroidery. This book has been on my list for awhile. Go here for more books!
  
Nancy Dale, Atlantis Cuff Tutorial. Nancy's work never fails to stun me. I love the way she combines freeform with bead embroidery, which is totally different from other approaches I've seen, and I loved getting the chance to see just how she does it.

Katie Dean, Sweet Treats. You need to see the beaded chocolate chip cookies and eclairs on the cover of this book. So cute!  So clever. This is the perfect gift for the baker/beader in your life.



Cindy Holsclaw,  Fiberoptic Dodecahedron and Morning Coffee. These are tutorials for some of Cindy's popular, and beautiful, designs. I'm a huge fan of her work with beaded beads! Go here for more tutorials.

Cyndi Lavin, Some Assembly Required. Cyndi just finished the final chapter of her latest book, all about creating bead-embroidered components. I have every chapter, and I can honestly say that as someone who hoards information on bead embroidery, Cyndi taught me plenty of new tricks. Go here for more books!

Kate McKinnon, Contemporary Geometric Beadwork. I got my copy in the mail yesterday, and wow, this book is gorgeous!!! So much love and care and collaboration and creativity went into it, and I can't wait for Volume II. Go here for more books!

Jean Power, Geometric Beadwork.  Jean made some awesome contributions to Kate's book, and now she has a book of her own! I was excited as soon as I saw the cover, which is gorgeous. I can't wait for my copy to arrive.



Amee Sweet-McNamara, 3 Soutache and Bead Embroidery Projects. Interested in learning soutache? Here's a great place to start! I'd also like to point out that Amee has a site with supplies, since soutache braid has been hard to find in the past.


Karen Williams, Fancy Fish: Beadwoven Friends.  Karen sent me a review copy, and this is a fabulous tutorial for the world's cutest fish. I'm a huge fan of Karen's other projects too, especially Freeform Peyote Beading. Go here for more books and tutorials!


 
Self-Publishing Resources!
(A Bonus Section.)

That concludes the book fair, but I wanted to encourage those of you who are thinking about taking the indie publishing route. Here are some links to get you started:

David Gaughran offers self-publishing resources, including a free e-book on why you should self-publish!

Joel Frielander's site, The Book Designer, has a wealth of information on indie publishing. Did you know that he wrote about Karen's freeform book? Joel also does a self-publishing course! 

Joel also offers a series of book templates for Microsoft Word.

Johnny, Sean and Dave host my favorite podcast, Self Publishing Podcast.

Johnny talks about how he wrote a book in 29 days.

If you need a little more time, here's a guide to writing one in 30 days, from Copyblogger.

Gala Darling talks about the lessons she learned from writing her book, Love and Sequins.

Sarah Wilson shares her insights on publishing an e-book and an e-cookbook.

Jen of Beading Daily consults five experts about selling beading tutorials online.


If I've missed any of your favorite resources, let me know! I'll be happy to add them.


And that's all I have to say about self-publishing! Super duper thanks with extra amazeballs on top to the participants, and to everyone who supports them by purchasing their work. And of course, have a sequintastic day!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Back to the Rainy Day Links!

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

I'm hard at work getting the Epic Indie Book Fair of Awesome  together. I have some amazing things to share with all of you next week, written by some amazeballs authors. I'm super excited!

But... confession time? I spent so much time on next weekend's post that I kind of forgot to write one for this week! Luckily, I found a Rainy Day Links post in my Drafts folder. I reviewed the articles and video again, updated my commentary, and came up with a post I'm pretty proud of.

So without further ado... here are the links!

If you watch just one thing today, make it this (as long as you don't mind colorful language). Erika is a captivating speaker and so insightful. Every time I see this video, it gives me chills. It's some of the best life advice, and business advice, there is.

In fact, ever since I watched this video and read Erika's book, I've been trying to put a little more me into my blog posts, and into my life, period. It's one of the scariest things I've had to do, in a lot of ways. To share my obsession with flamingos. My phobia of raisins. My failures. And even one of my biggest secrets -- my inability to hear in crowded places.

But it's also been awesome. There's something so freeing about not hiding! It's like exhaling after holding your breath for freaking ever. It's also helped me to become closer friends with a lot of amazing people and to share what I think is one of my most important messages.



As a Scanner/Renaissance Person/Polymath who wants to do a million things, but who hasn't figured out how to work them all into her life, this post was exactly what I needed to read. His advice is so reasonable. It's easy to put into practice, since he advocates adding new things gradually.

(The only thing I took issue with was cutting down on sleep -- but this is probably because I still need to work on not eating total crap healthier habits.)


A great companion to this post is Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher, one of my favorite books. The cool thing is, there isn't a ton of overlap between what Barbara and Johnny have to say. They both agree that we don't have to limit ourselves to doing just one or two things we love, but the way they go about juggling multiple passions is different. I'll probably create my own approach using suggestions from both of them.



This one resonated with me because I'm realizing that numbers like Twitter followers and Facebook likes and even blog stats -- which I check obsessively -- don't come close to measuring our talents, worth, and impact as creative people. It's just easier to measure these things!

But what really matters is the stuff we can't put a number on. Does our work inspire and delight our audience? Does it challenge us? Does it make us feel fulfilled? Do we add value to the world? These are questions with no easy answers. At the same time, they're the questions we really need to ask.


  • Johnny B. Truant is a guest poster on Copyblogger, and he writes a fantastic post on the art of practice. Re-reading this article, I can see why I bookmarked it months and months ago. I might have to print it out and pin it to the inside of my jacket for those times when I feel like I'm feeling impatient.
Our culture gets so hung up on the idea of overnight success, but the truth is, anyone who's good at anything, whether it's making jewelry or writing novels or running a business, started out completely clueless. We all need to work hard, to learn from our mistakes, and to keep going, even when it feels like time to quit.

An awesome companion to this post is The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. He introduces the idea that working hard and working smart is more important than being naturally gifted. He talks about the idea of deep practice, which is the best kind of practice there is. This is another one of my favorite books.


And there you have it! This list of Rainy Day Links may be shorter than the others, but it's absolutely packed with life-changing stuff. I'd love to know what you think of the links and if there's anything you think I should add.

Tune in next weekend for the Epic Indie Book Fair of Awesome! Yes, that's its real name. Thanks for stopping by, thanks for reading and commenting, and have a sequintastic day!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Instead of Giving Up...

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

In this post, I wrote about fighting the urge to give up after too many rejections. It's one of my favorite posts to date, and I thought I'd written all there was to write about the subject.

And then last Saturday happened, and with it, another craft show. There were some good parts to it. The booth looked spectacular, thanks to Mr. Sequin. I got a chance to chat with people I hadn't seen in ages. I made quite a few new friends, and I gave away a lot of business cards.

(I also discovered... The Egg Truck. A food truck that sells delicious egg sandwiches. That truck changed my life, to say nothing of my arteries, and I'm thinking of becoming their very first groupie. Oh, how cute! You think I'm joking...)

But for the most part? The show was kind of... meh.

I didn't sell a lot. I barely made back the booth fee, and even if I had? Honestly, it wouldn't have made up for the stress of preparing for the show or the stress of being at the show. I don't talk about this a lot because I'm still in denial a little, but I have a hearing loss -- one too many ear infections as a kid. Noisy places plus ornery ears, as you might guess, equals strained interactions with potential buyers.

This experience made me realize a few things -- and not just that I have an unhealthy addiction to eggs and cheese. It occurred to me that there's another layer (or six) to not giving up.


Throwing Out What Doesn't Work.

I don't want to give up being a jewelry artist. I love making things. I love experimenting and pushing my creative boundaries. And you know what? I think I'm getting pretty good at it. I know that if I keep going, I'll get even better because I'm good at improving.

But if I think of my career as a machine, it makes sense to throw out the parts that don't work and replace them with parts that do. This might translate to shifting my focus online, or it might translate to something else completely. All I know is, I've got to keep playing around until I find something that works.

I also need to focus more on the parts that do work. I love learning. I love sharing what I learn. I love inspiring and helping people, and I love talking about jewelry making. All of this tells me that my passion is for teaching, so it's time to get moving in that area.


Being Honest.

I know what my strengths are.

I know what my weaknesses are, too. Some of them, like the hearing thing, are things I can't do a lot about. Some of them are things I can fix fairly easily, like keeping track of the time I spend on each piece -- which will help me price my work and stand behind that price. 

And others are a little trickier. I'm much better at relating to people through my blog and email than in person. Some of it's hearing-related, but most of it's just social awkwardness. I have to work on this if I'm going to teach. I have to learn to be comfortable in my own skin and to own all the things that make me... me. I've made a lot of progress in the past few years, but I have a long way to go.


Taking A Break. 
 
In all my preparation for the craft show, I neglected my health. I exhausted myself both emotionally and physically, and once the show ended, I crashed.

For the next two or three days, I had a serious case of the Blahs, and I was dealing with a complex, and intense, mix of emotions... as well as fantasies of running away to an exotic place, lounging in a hammock, and eating lots of tropical fruit.

Instead, I slept extra late and watched cartoons on the couch. Not as glamorous, but it helped! The thing is, for self-employed people, it's easy for the boundaries between making a living and just plain living to blur, or to not be there at all. There's so much pressure, inside and outside, to keep charging forward. To keep striving for that awesome, epic life. To pigeonhole meaning into every single thing we do -- especially if you're like me, and you follow a lot of blogs written by extraordinary people.

But there's nothing wrong with recognizing our limitations (Being Honest) and acting accordingly. With slowing down and just being instead of doing all the time. It's a sign of intelligence, not weakness, to give ourselves some time off every now and then. 

Besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder! On Sunday, I didn't even want to hear the word bead. On Wednesday, I was ready to go again. Today, my head is so full of project ideas, it's a wonder there's room for anything else! I've fallen in love with creating again.


Asking For Help.

One thing I'm starting to realize is that we don't have to be alone in our quest to follow through on our big ideas. Everyone who has ever accomplished something great has had help. Novelists have editors. Composers have orchestras to perform their music. Lady Gaga has backup singers and costume designers.

And if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me. As I try to get started teaching, to find the best venue for selling what I make, and to tackle my Top Secret Projects, it makes sense to reach out to people. It's scary, just a little. I'm still learning that I can trust and rely on people. But you know what's scarier? Staying stuck.


Celebrating The Little Victories.

It's important to focus on the things that go wrong with my business. I know, that runs contrary to everything we've ever heard about positive thinking, but it's through the mistakes, the failures, the little hiccups, that we learn the most quickly and the most deeply. These things make us stronger, too.

But you know what? Focusing on the successes, no matter how small they might seem, is just as important because it keeps us going. It reminds us that our struggle is worth it, and that our art is worth it. I might not have sold a lot at the craft show, but I did get some amazing compliments. As much as I enjoy my work, and as much as I love many of the things I make, that validation means a lot. 

So does getting awesome compliments on this blog. So does mastering a new beading technique. So does getting mentioned on Think Traffic this week. To use the machine analogy again, the little victories are what keep my fuel tank full. They add up to something pretty huge.



So these are all the things I'm going to do instead of giving up. Now it's your turn: what do you do instead of giving up?

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and have a sequintastic day! <3


Edit: Megan of Megan's Creative Blog, a fellow introvert, writes about her experience with craft shows and gives us the best reason to do them. I highly recommend this post to people with normal ears!  ;)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Prepare for a book fair!

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Even though it was a last minute project, I had a lot of fun organizing the Shop In Your Pajamas online craft fair last December, and I was thrilled that so many talented artists participated. This gave me the idea for a book fair, specifically a self-published book fair, where indie authors can share their tutorials, books, and e-books. 

I originally intended to hold the book fair in January, but I decided to wait until Kate McKinnon's latest book, Contemporary Geometric Beadwork, was ready. It's ready now, and if I'm not mistaken, she'll be shipping the pre-ordered copies soon. So I've decided that the book fair will take place on:

Saturday, March 23


Calling all authors!

And so I'm putting out a request to all of you. If you create and sell books, e-books, and tutorials, whether it's through your own site or a site like Etsy or Amazon, I'd love to include you! All you need to do is contact me with your name, email, and the link to your work.

And if you can commit to posting a list of participants on your own blog on the day of the fair? And maybe writing a paragraph or two about your book for prospective readers? That would be great! But I'm making this part optional.


What I'm looking for

I'm mostly interested in jewelry making books and tutorials. However! I'm also open to...



  • Other independent artsy/crafty books.

  • Books on creativity, business, and personal development.


  • Books that are fun and just too fantastic not to include. This includes, but isn't limited to, fictional stories about aliens, unicorns, and zombies. Do I have anyone specific in mind? Why, I just might! Wink, wink.

  • Books that are not about religion, politics, or the Great Pumpkin. Sorry, but pumpkins are out of my comfort zone. Unless, of course, they're in a pie.


Even if you're not an author...

Don't have a book or tutorial just yet? You can still join in the fun. You can buy books, of course, but you can also help spread the word. Email your friends, tweet all about it, and if you're up for it, post about it on your blog/website. 

Let's make this book fair an Epic Indie Book Fair Of Awesome!


And now it's time for me to go to sleep. For about two hours before I have to get up again. Yay, she said sarcastically! Thanks for reading and commenting, thanks for sharing this post, and above all, have a sequintastic day!