featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Author Sandra Carey Cody makes a return visit today. Sandra is the author of the Jennie Connors mystery series, published by Avalon Books. Left at Oz is the fourth and latest book in the series. Learn more about Sandra and her series at her website.

Sandra has graciously offered a copy of
Left at Oz to one lucky reader who posts a comment this week. -- AP

A Creative Potpourri

(potpourri - medley, miscellany, assortment, hodgepodge)

One of the things I like about Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers is its variety, the way it gives voice to people who create in all sorts of different ways. When I say create, I don't just mean making something. I include individuals who look at ordinary things in a different way and encourage the rest of us to take a fresh look at the world - like the tips and tidbits that appear here some days. Very creative.

If you do want to make something, there are plenty of ideas to get you started.  I don't know how many recipes I've printed out from this site. I made a few of them; others are tucked away, waiting for me to find time or be in the right mood. The same holds true for the craft ideas; most get filed under "some day." That's OK. I like having a long "some day" list, and if that list includes a few things I haven't done before - so much the better. I'm convinced that taking my creative urges down a different path not only keeps them alive, it makes them stronger.

Writing will always be my first love, but I also make quilts. I am fascinated by color, by the way the mood of a color changes according to other colors near it. I enjoy playing with different shapes, curved or straight lines and the texture of fabric. Choosing the fabric, the colors and pattern of a quilt is very like choosing the attributes of a fictional character. Combining dark and light shades is like working out the details of a storyline: main color, accent color; main plot, sub plot. Writing is almost completely intellectual; quilting is very tactile. I find that working in these two different mediums enhances perception and, thus, creativity, in both.

Sometimes, working in the same medium, but looking at it from a slightly different perspective, produces a needed creative jolt. Left at Oz, the latest release in my Jennie Connors mystery series, is a prequel. In the previously published books, Jennie is a single mom with an ex-husband she doesn't hate - most of the time. In Left at Oz, I show her still married and what happened to break up the marriage. I had a great time doing it and readers have told me that they enjoyed seeing Jennie in a different light.

So, to all the creative folks who contribute to and read this blog, let your imaginations run wild. Try your hand at something you haven't done before. Maybe you'll hate it and do a terrible job, but maybe you'll love it and create a masterpiece. Either way, you'll learn something about yourself.

Thanks, Anastasia (and Lois), for letting me add my bit to this potpourri of ideas.

 And thank you, Sandra! Always a pleasure to have you spend some time with us. Readers, if you’d like to read more of Jennie’s pre-divorce life, post a comment. You could be the lucky person who wins a copy of Left at Oz. And don’t forget to check back on Sunday to see if you won. -- AP


Caroline said...

Good morning, Sandra and Lois!

First let me say I love your cover, Sandra. It’s so thought provoking, and makes me wonder what the book is about.

Second, when I was first married I decided to make a quilt. Like you say, it was a hodgepodge, but it was my hodgepodge, and I loved it. The colors, the softness, the beauty. I can see how a story is much the same. Thanks for the insight…..

Please add my name to the drawing. :)

Anonymous said...

What an interesting analogy! It is making me think about my progress--really, lack of--on my supposed book! :-) :-(
Please enter me in the drawing!
J.D Revelle

Luisa Buehler said...

Good morning,ladies!

Sandra, your insight about the similarities between the writing and quilting processes is spot on. One of my novels has elements of the Underground Railroad in Illinois as one of the story threads. A friend of mine made a wonderful quilt depicting four of the symbols used on quilts to guide the freedom seekers to safety and freedom.
She thought writing was so complicated and creative. I thought the same of quilting. We each decided to stick to our own strength but I see from your post how our strengths overlap.
Thanks for the connection.
Luisa Buehler

Pauline Alldred said...

Hi Sandra, I find a creative connection, similiar to the quilting connection, between writing and gardening. Except, in gardening, I must deal with the unknown element of nature, not unlike the unexpected that happens with repeated drafts, I guess.

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Sandra, what a creative analogy! I don't quilt, but I do enjoy looking at them, styding their contstruction, running my hand over the textures, thinking about how much time someone spent to piece them together. And I see what you mean about taking different pieces and sewing them together to create a masterpiece, just like writing a mystery. Now you've got me thinking how I could use a secret message sewn into a quilt to give the clues to solve a mystery. Hmmm....gotta go write that idea down!

Sandy Cody said...

What's the title of your book, Luisa? I am fascinated by the Underground Railroad.

Pauline, interesting comment about the unknown elements involved in gardening and the surprises that pop up (sometimes like weeds) when a writer works on repeated drafts.

Thanks for stopping by, both of you. As I said - love the variety of ideas expressed on this blog.

Luisa Buehler said...

This post is so much fun. I love Pauline's comment on the gardening connection.
It's like the blinders have come off. I see these quilt connections everywhere. My garden is always a work in progress--changes from season to season. Bad tomatoes this year, too much rain I suspect.
I've tried to plant/plan a scheme for my perennial flowers. They don't seem to always come up where I whant them to and they're not always the right color. Tulips do that to me!

Anonymous said...

Yes, writing is very much like making a quilt. Not only do you enjoy watching the changing colors and shapes, writers often uses bits and pieces from their own experiences, or someone else's to create something very beautiful.

Yes, enter me in your drawing. I love your cover.


Liz V. said...

Sandra, cousin quilted. Incredible handwork. Always read Monica's posts

Lois, Gabriella suggests your books should be at Michaels. Too right!

Thank you both for the giveaway.

Ellis Vidler said...

Great post, Sandy. It really does help to do other things sometimes. I love colors and pictures, so I play with cover designs. Often, in trying to find something suitable for a story, it makes me see the story in a different light. I have to define the mood of the book, and it can change my perspective.

P.S. Please enter me in the drawing. I'd love to win the book! :-)

Sandy Cody said...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by. Looks like finding ideas in the world around us is a universal trait. Wish we could all sit down for a cup of tea and bounce ideas of each other. Guess this is the next best thing.

Cindy Sample said...

I don't have one craft gene in my body except for the craft of writing but I admire those who can make beautiful items (like our pal Lois) and especially quilt makers. I'm enthralled with the patterns, stories, the people behind these works of art.

Thanks for the great post. You have me musing and plotting as I stare at a beautiful Amish quilt I purchased a few years ago.

Michele Drier said...

Hi Lois and Sandy, just wanted to say I've read "Left at Oz" and it's a great read!

Leigh Verrill-Rhys said...

I once fancied myself as an artist, especially after an Honorable Mention in an Art Show one year, many years ago. Right now, I'm finding a creative outlet in cleaning! This is a great post, Sandy, something to think about while I'm scrubbing the cupboard shelves.

Anonymous said...

Fun blog. I'm working on a vest from yo-yos ... something my grandmother taught me to do.

boots9k at wowway dot com

Sandy Cody said...

More great comments. This blog really does attract a varied lot. Wish I could give a book to each of you.

Thanks, all.

Zelda Benjamin said...

Great blog. Especially for me , any creative process is a hodgepodge of ideas. I don't quilt, but I write and garden. There's always a whirlwind in my mind. Somehow it all falls together in the end.

Kathy said...

Tried my hand at writing once and also tried making a quilt. I wasn't good at either one but I least I gave it a try. I think everyone should at least try doing something before they say they can't.

Lois Winston said...

Liz, I saw Gabi's blog post. It was great!

Sandy Cody said...

Kathy and Zelda, I think your different takes on this topic proves that we all have to try different things to find out what works for us - and what doesn't.

Thanks for stopping by.

Barbara Dorsam said...

Sandra, I'm not familiar with your Jennie Connors series, but I plan to give them a try. I've done all sorts of needlework since I was young, knitting, crocheting, plastic canvas & x-stitch. But last year I embarked on something new, I became a grandma! My daughter had a daughter & my son had a son & they are now 18 mos & 12 mos. Since I'm 63, babysitting is definitely more challenging than if I was in my 40's. But everything you've ever heard about being a grandparent is true & I'm so lucky they live nearby! They really enrich my life :)

Sandy Cody said...

Thanks, Barbara. I'm a grandmother too and agree with all you say about it. I hope you do find to sample the Jennie Connors series.


Anonymous, the third Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, which will be out in January 2013, will feature yo-yo crafts.