Are You A Fashion Maven or a Fashion Victim?


Having a style is about knowing who you are and knowing how to see. You can't do one without the other.

You Think This is Easy?


Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the difference between fabulous and frumpy comes down to how the garment is made. What looks great on the runway is going to look like hell from Wal-mart, once you have the eye to see it.

Killer Shoes?


What makes this work and not that? Why is something fabulous and not something else? We aim to find out. Because money doesn't create taste, an education does.

I Wrote a Book.


It's a murder mystery from inside the fashion industry. You might like it.

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Readers! Eight award winners in the 2012 eFestival of Words “Best of the Independent eBook Awards” have grouped together to offer you an amazing opportunity. They’ve reduced the prices of their award-winning novels to 99 cents for August 27 and 28th!

Whether you like to read mysteries, romance, horror, young adult, women’s fiction, or fantasy, this group has it. Are you a writer yourself? Do you want to learn all about digitally publishing your next masterpiece? They’ve got you covered there too.

Get all eight award-winning ebooks for the price of one single paperback!

 

Award Winners

Best Mystery/Suspense: Dead is the New Black by Christine DeMaio-Rice

Best Non-Fiction: DIY/Self-Help: Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran

Best Horror: 61 A.D. by David McAfee

Best Romance: Deadly Obsession by Kristine Cayne

Best Young Adult: The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto

Best Fantasy/Urban Fantasy and Best Novel: The Black God’s War by Moses Siregar III

Best Chick Lit/Women’s Lit: Carpe Bead’em by Tonya Kappes

Award for Best Twist (“I’ve Been Shyamalaned”): The Survival of Thomas Ford by John A.A. Logan

 

Here’s a one-stop shopping link for your convenience: http://amzn.to/MO7qBY

 

Book Blurbs

 Dead is the New Black by Christine DeMaio-Rice

Laura Carnegie gave up on the man of her dreams a long time ago. He’s fashion designer Jeremy St. James, and not only is he her boss, everyone knows he’s gay.

When the woman who holds the company purse strings is found dead in the office, and Jeremy’s arrested for the murder, everything changes. If Laura can just solve this crime, keep the cops off her tail, break up a counterfeiting ring, and get the show on the runway by Friday, she might stop being Seventh Avenue’s perpetual loser.

If you love Project Runway, or enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada, try Dead Is the New Black.

 

Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran

This guide contains over 60,000 words of essays, articles, and how-to guides, as well as contributions from 33 bestselling indie authors including J Carson Black, Bob Mayer, Victorine Lieske, Mark Edwards, and many more.

 

It covers everything from how the disruptive power of the internet has changed the publishing business forever to the opportunities this has created for writers. It gives you practical advice on editing, cover design, formatting, and pricing. And it reveals marketing tips from blogging and social networking right through to competitions, discounts, reviews, and giveaways.

 

If you are considering self-publishing, if you need to breathe life into your flagging sales, or if you want to understand why it’s a great time to be a writer, Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should will explain it all.

 

61 A.D. by David McAfee

61 A.D. For ten years, Taras has lived in the young city of Londinium, feeding off the city’s underbelly. But now Theron, his old enemy, has come looking for revenge, and Taras’ nights of living in relative peace are about to end.

Yet not even Theron can slip into town unnoticed, and the Council of Thirteen sends Ramah to deal with the two renegades once and for all. But unknown to the Council, a much older enemy is also in Londinium, and this time even the great Ramah might not be safe.

Set against the backdrop of the Iceni uprising in Roman-era Britannia, 61 A.D. continues the story of Taras, Theron, and Ramah, as they fight their way through history.

 

Deadly Obsession by Kristine Cayne

Nic Lamoureux’s perfect movie star life is shattered by a stalker who threatens any woman close to him. When he meets photographer Lauren James, the attraction is instant–and mutual. She’s exactly the sort of woman he craves, but the stalker makes deadly clear Lauren is the competition.

And the competition must be eliminated.

“Stock up on ice cubes because this is definitely one sizzling debut. Readers will be hooked from the first sentence- on the book and on Nic! As rich as a white chocolate cheesecake, Cayne’s entrance into the suspense genre is invigorating, explosive and simply intoxicating.” ~ RT Book Reviews Top Pick

 

The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto

When teen witch Ivy MacTavish changes a lizard into her date for a Halloween dance, everything turns to chaos. And when no one is powerful enough to transform him back except Ivy, it sparks the rumor: Like father, like daughter. Worse, someone has used an evil spell book to bring back two of history’s most nefarious killers.

Ivy’s got a simple plan to set things right: find the real dark spell caster, steal the book, and reverse the spell. No problem! But first, she’ll have to deal with something more dangerous than murderous spirits: the school’s hotter-than-brimstone demon bad boy, Nick Marcelli. Demons are about as hard to handle as black magic, and Ivy soon discovers it’s going to take more than a lot of luck and a little charm if she wants to clear her status as a dark witch, get a warm-blooded boyfriend, and have her former date back to eating meal worms before the week’s end

 

The Black God’s War by Moses Siregar III

Against the backdrop of epic warfare and the powers of ten mysterious gods, Lucia struggles to understand The Black One.

Her father-king wants war.

Her messianic brother wants peace.

The black god wants his due.

She suffers all the consequences.

“Moses is a fine writer deserving of success, and I think that it will follow … I really enjoyed Moses’s work.” – David Farland, NYT Bestselling Author of The Runelords

 

Carpe Bead’em by Tonya Kappes

Hallie Mediate was raised by her (slightly) crazy Great Aunt Grace on the wrong side of the tracks in Cincinnati. Hallie escapes her hometown and never looks back.

That is, until she’s transferred back to the hometown. Not wanting her past to cross paths with her future, Hallie puts her life on hold.

Aunt Grace is still up to her old tricks, but Hallie finds some sanity at a local jewelry-making class where she uncovers a hidden talent for beading.

Will she keep searching for the happiness she may already have found?

 

The Survival of Thomas Ford by John A.A. Logan

Thomas Ford is the only survivor of the car crash which killed his wife. He is also the only witness who would be willing to identify the young, reckless driver who caused the crash. But the driver would sooner see Thomas Ford dead than ever let that happen.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Tag, I’m It!

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I am so not a good blogger.

Actually, I am profoundly bad at it. I have lots of things I care about that I’d like to blog about but the fact is, a 400 word blog post could be 400 words of my next novel.

But lots of my writer friends have blogs and sometimes they do something nice like tag your ass in their post, and you want to keep the nice stuff happening.

So, parody genius PJ Jones tagged me. I’m supposed to post  seven lines from page seven of whatever I’m working on now, then tag seven other authors.

I really wanted to find something from my WIP The Case of the Jealous Lover, but every single line was a major spoiler (for those of you who care), so I went with my as-yet-unreleased-and-currently-being-proofed second book, Death of a Supermodel.

This is an earlier draft of the cover. I ensmallened her head to be less lollipop-like.

So here goes (unedited, out-of-context):

“And the company?” Cangemi asked. “How is it going?”

He seemed genuinely interested and warm, and Laura needed a friend after the show, the stress of prepping for it, then the episode with Thomasina. “We got a backer through our agent, Pierre Sevion, and that was okay, but it was only enough to pay for everything up to the show, which was today. After that, there was supposed to be matching backing from somewhere. I don’t know where, Pierre wouldn’t say. But if we get favorable reviews from a major, or any kind of celebrity placement, which is when they wear our stuff to an event and mention it, we get some vague amount of matching dollars that might, and I’m saying might, cover our production. Except in order to get the review and the placement, we had to go all out whole hog on the show, and that means the fabric is super expensive, and the matching backing may not cover it. And here’s the other thing. Without that matching money, we have to crawl back to the initial investor, Bob Schmiller, whose wife is Ivanah Schmiller, who according to Ruby, has been telling everyone she wants more say in the line.”

“Ivanah Schmiller, the interior designer?”

“Decorator. She’s a decorator. And yes. If you like someone who vomits animal skin prints on crushed velvet and chrome, she’s an interior decorator.”

And now I’d like to tag these poor souls:

The great M Edward McNally

The lady who makes me look s’damn good, Heather Adkins.

None other than David Gaughran who will have the good sense to ignore this

Maker of hilarity, Mike Cooley

My hero, Cheryl Bradshaw

The ever-delicious Alisa Tangredi

And our favorite dropper of relevant commentary, Jolea M Harrison

What Fashion Manufacturing and Book Manufacturing Have in Common. Or Not.

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I’m not a journalist, and this is an opinion piece. You’ll find some non-journalistic wording and non-absolutely-accurate stuff in here. Like I used “collusion” below and that may not be the same as “anti-trust.” I may have to correct stuff as I go. Mea culpa in advance.

Watching the media report on the DoJ investigation into price collusion between publishers is fascinating stuff. The hue and cry over where people get their books from, and the government intervention over what is basically a form of entertainment is so far removed from what happens between businesses who deal in something we all need — clothing.

The Seattle Times started it, with the LA Times and NY Times picking up from there. Those are the three I read, I’m sure there are more, and what occurred to me today is…why?

Why is the DoJ interested in protecting book prices? Why do they care? Why, during a fierce election year, do the biggest papers in the nation feel the need to dedicate so much space to this issue? Is it possible the publishers are whispering in their ears? But why, when they have the world at their fingertips?

Publishers are lucky ducks.

1) Bob-mart squeezes clothing manufacturers on price after the garments are on the boat with a Bob-mart tag on them. In my opinion, this feels a lot like extortion, and though I imagine it is possible with physical books, it is impossible with e-books. There is no boat. Discounts may and will happen (as is the issue with Amazon) but if the publisher doesn’t like the price, they can pull the product. Try doing that with ten thousand dresses on a slow boat.

2) Federated (now Macy’s) releases a calendar that forces designers to create a line 12 monts ahead of delivery. Because they’re so huge, everyone makes it happen and cries success. Every other department store falls into line and every year the calendar becomes more onerous, while the customer is looking at old crap designed a year ago. With e-books, you can write and release in half the time as a physical book. The customer is happy, and discounts and chargebacks are reduced. Isn’t that the point? Isn’t that was fashion manufacturers are dying for? I’ve attended dozens of meetings with the urgent goal of shortening the production calendar, and here’s big publishing trying to defend a two-year calendar. Did they miss a meeting or something?

3) The trend right now is to avoid the wholesale calendar entirely and open your own clothing store, a costly endeavor, but with an easier calendar and no chargebacks. But publishers have an even easier option. Their own web stores. I know authors who do it in an evening. What’s stopping St. Martins from doing it? Sure, it’s not as convenient as Amazon, but if every big publisher sold e-books direct in all formats, my guess is that software that netted all participating publisher purchases into one cart would not be far behind.

4) Target and H&M have reduced garment prices to a nub by taking advantage of the first law of production, which states, the more you make of something, the cheaper it is. Mom and pop boutiques can’t buy ten thousand dresses, so the same dress costs more. If you want to be a big player, you have to move huge units. And if you want to move huge units you have to be a big player. Big publishing makes 30 dollar physical books and wonders why they’re not selling Target/H&M volumes (no pun intended). You simply can’t move millions of units at that price. This is not rocket science.

5) Every day I deal with factories that can’t sew an armhole right five times in a row, and publishers don’t want to commit to e-books, which have zero wasteage? I don’t know what I’d give to have a product that only has to be made right one time and then sold repeatedly.

Guys, wake up!

The world is your freaking oyster.

I really like this article on manufacturing and the blog is pretty good too.

How To Maintain a 50 Hour Workweek – Part III

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Last night, I got a call from a lovely lady heading the tech design department at a big big company. She needs someone with my skills, and I’d love to cut my commute. But I told her, look, I work from 9 to 4, four days a week.

“Temping?” she asked.

“Permanent part-time.”

(pause)

“It’s not temping, I just work fewer hours. I get a lot of work done in that time. I’m really efficient. But no one believes me until I work for them.”

“Hunh. Interesting.”

Of course, she wasn’t interested. She had no idea what to do with me. Even if she believed me. Even if the idea that I could do a job and a half in three quarters of the time, for three quarters of the price was a message that got through, it didn’t fit into her reality.

This is not her fault.

When I spoke to my husband about it later, I wondered why it is that we drive so hard for efficiency and productivity. Though it may benefit the company to get more work out of us in a shorter time, what is the benefit to ME if I work well enough to get so much done in so little time? They aren’t going to pay me more. They aren’t going to give me time off or a part time schedule.

No. In any company in the fashion business, what they’re going to do is give me more work. Because they believe they have bought my time, when in my mind, they’ve bought the completion of a project. If they are paying for a warm body, how is it in my interest to provide more than that?

I want to spend time with my family. I want to do things and make stuff. If I can get the job done, well, in less time, I should spend less time at the office.

I’m lucky to have a job now where that is valued. If I lose it, I don’t know if I can ever return to being a warm body.

How to Maintain a 50 Hour Workweek – Part 2

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Today, I had to do a sketch to show how to fix the armhole on a halter top.

In most companies, you have to use Adobe Illustrator.

In my company, you use Excel drawing tools, which are really fast, except for the Mac, where Microsoft shit the bed entirely and made it so you can’t see what you’re doing when you draw.

So I did it the fastest way known to man. The way that has been rendered so obsolete that if I did it at any other company I’d be fired.

I can't figure out how to rotate this. Is this the person you want managing Illustrator?

What to Wear to the Oscars

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Night Widow
NIGHT WIDOW: Sybil Squire’s Oscar ensemble.
Sibyl Squire in her heyday. Before murder and madness closed the door on her rising star.

“Luce’s portrayal of a psychopathic mountain man is chilling…” [Night Game] “The villain is evil personified.”

In addition to five published novels, Carol’s short story “Shattered Crystal” appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Magazine and Treadmill Tales (audio). E-reads Publications reprinted Night Passage in e-book format and POD. Nonfiction publications include two articles for Writer’s Digest. One article, “Writing Suspense That’ll Kill Your Readers,” was reprinted (second edition) in THE COMPLETE HANDBOOK OF NOVEL WRITING (Writer’s Digest Books)2010.

*In The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing 2010, Carol Davis Luce defines tension as “the act of building or prolonging a crisis.” She goes on to give some examples and ends the chapter with this: “How you build that suspense can make the difference between your readers chucking your book for a good night’s sleep or nudging their spouse to say, ‘the suspense is killing me.’”

Visit Carol at http://imagerystudios.com/carol

Check out her Amazon author page.

 

What to Do To Maintain a 50 Hour Work Week

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No pictures here, and a quick post.

My assistant wants to take a single tech pack that services like, five different artworks, across two deliveries into five separate tech packs. A request I denied, because it would create make work, when there is actual work to be done. But I do enjoy her persistence so. I actually like people who argue with me. (and I especially like her. No you cannot hire her away from me. Stop sniffing around.)

But it got me thinking about my first trip to Hong Kong in 1994.

We sat in a windowless room after all the sweater graphs and layouts had been hand done (I was actually a designer at the time) and we did the graded specs. We did them with thin Sharpies and white out, and after the first few hours we had tape all over our fingers because our hands were cramping so bad.

As you can imagine, the rule at the time was to keep as few points of measure as possible, because you were going to want your arms amputated at the wrists after the HK trip, and what did you need more points for anyway? You had to write that shit by hand and it was not a joke by the time you were done breaking out XS-XL on 200 styles.

So, then computers became the norm, and you’d think, my god, not having to write all that by hand, not having to graph each stitch by hand, not having to hand write faxes, think of the TIME that will save.

Right?

Wrong.

Now we have to do in 7 pages what we used to do in 2. Now we just break out five tech packs for one style instead of finding  a way to simplify it.

Have you heard of Parkinson’s Law. It’s like gravity.

Work Expands to the time available for its completion.

I say that if we stopped spinning our wheels around, if we stopped prioritizing dotting i’s and crossing t’s over getting the job DONE, we could break the law, and work three days a week. But we don’t want to work 3 days a week. We want to justify our existence in the office, and our bosses wouldn’t consider granting us a shorter week because, by gum, they’re paying us, right?

The problem is we don’t respect our own time.

I think the issue is bigger. I think it has to do with the way we treat our partners in China, but that is a different post entirely.

What to Wear to an Indie Book Blowout

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St Patricks Day Book Blowout
Of all the sets I have ever made, this is undoubtedly the most hideous. But it’s midnight, and I’m tired.
The ugly set is in honor of the blowout holiday sale I’m involved in with 25 other authors. They deserve better, but there are so many genres available. Zombie fic, medieval epics, historical tales, witchcrafty supernaturals, that it was hard to find an overriding theme. It’s a cornucopia. So if you feel like picking up a book or two for 99c, head over to David Gaughran’s site. The sale is only until Sunday. So don’t take too long…

Handmade in USA

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The other day, I was minding my own business, walking up Vermont when I came upon a new store.

Very cool. Like hipster central. Check out this little owl.

It’s 28 dollars.

 

Now, when you read that it was 28 dollars did you have a mental flipout? Did you say something like “What does it do for 28 dollars? Cook me eggs? Slice and dice? Provide nourishment? Give me a hug? Make my life easier?”

Well, no. Of course not.

How about this little piggy puppet. Not as nice, surely, but it’s six bucks. You can get two and put on a puppet show. Now that’s a worthwhile expenditure. Right?

buy this six dollar pig

Hand-Made Puppets – Golden Pigs

 

Well, your mind is screwed up (as is mine). It’s been screwed up by Henry Ford.

What did Ford do? He invented the automobile assembly line. And this affects puppets…how?

The little Chinese piggy was made by, my guess, at least twenty people. Starting with designers and salespeople and ending with a number of people on a sewing line. One sews piece A to piece B, over and over, then the Sifu (the guy running the sample room) takes all those pieces and moves them to the next operator, who sews A/B to C. Then the next person embroiders. Same thing, over and over. Then someone stuffs. And someone closes. There are plenty of steps in there that I’m missing, but you get the idea.

Then, the result is shipped, by truck to a consolidator on the coast, put in a shipping container and sent off for a six week journey to (probably) Long Beach, California, where another consolidator sends the box to a warehouse in wherever. Or, of the item is shipped directly from China, insert UPS, FedEx, whatever.

And in the end? Six dollars.

I emailed Mary at Happy Felties about how her owl was produced, and here’s what she said.

Yes, Mr. Daytime Napper Owl is made in the USA – right in Newport News VA in my lovely studio (i.e. the living room sofa). ;-) I’m a self taught sewer – I got this little book for Christmas several years ago about embroidery stitches and when I started teaching myself, I fell in LOVE with sewing. My work still has its flaws because I’m not a professional, but I think that lends more character to each little hoot I make.

The entire sewing process is extremely organic for me. I’ve never been the one to follow patterns or specifics – it’s a very free-form experience each time. I basically get some sort of idea and then run with it. My intuition heavily influences the designs. I let whichever colors or patterns speak to me the most be my inspiration for each piece I make. Once I’ve nailed that down, I go right to work. I don’t have any fancy tools of the trade – no rotary cutters or templates or measuring apparatuses. Just a pair of scissors and some embroidery and tapestry needles.

It takes approximately 3 hours to make each hoot. Once I have all of the pieces cut, I begin sewing the base of the design onto the body of the owl. After that, I sew on all the other pieces (eyeballs, feathers, beak) with various types of stitches – running, whip, straight, scallop, detached chain, french knot, and back-stitch. The embroidery is what takes the most time because it is very detailed.

After the pieces are sewn on, I put the halves together, and sew it closed with a blanket stitch. I stuff my owl with supreme polyester filling. The filling process is not as straight-forward as it would appear. You can’t just take a giant glob of poly-fil and jam it in there. ;) It’s best to work in small bunches because it produces a more even uniform result. Each tuft of filling is “hand-pulled”  before being stuffed into the owl.

I do have another job which takes up a ginormous amount of time. I’m a mother to three little boys. I get up super super early and I work for 4 hours. Then when they go down for a nap, I sew some more. After they go to bed, I sew some more. Basically, my life is my kids and my sewing. 

To figure out the pricing of my items, I “pay” myself about $8 an hour – not even minimum wage. It is definitely far more than what I was charging for things a few years ago, though. When I first started on Etsy, I was charging $5 for a brooch with FREE shipping. (edited for length)

Okay wait a minute, Mary. You pay yourself 8 bucks an hour and it takes three hours to make a hoot? That’s 24 dollars, and it doesn’t include shipping the item to Los Angeles, or that fact that Co-op 28 is taking a chunk of money because they need to keep their lights on. Nor does it include the cost of materials or paying your taxes.

Our dear Mary is running at a loss. Go buy something from her site.

So, how? Why? If 20 people are making the pig, and one person is making the owl, you’d think the pig-makers must be making one twentieth of the owl makers. Forty cents an hour.

But no it has to be half that, because the owner of the piggy company are taking half that. So it’s twenty cents an hour. Oh but wait. Overhead. Mary’s paying her utilities with her job money. Piggy inc. is paying with profits. Fifteen cents an hour.

But no.

Designers and salespeople are decently compensated. So, ten cents an hour.

This is possible, however, it is improbable in China right now, with their economy being what it is. So what’s the deal.

Volume.

It takes three hours for Mary to make one hoot.

When that Chinese assembly line is broken out, it takes about ten minutes or less to make a pig, and the faster they go, the more money is being made. And the more they make, the better they get. And they can go even faster. Because a huge cost is setting up the assembly line. Once that’s done, the cost of making each consecutive pig goes down.

Volume. It’s cheaper to make five thousand of something than to make five of something.

If you like cute things that make you happy, visit Mary’s store on etsy.

 

What To Wear When You Need to be Street Legal

Posted on by xtine in Frontpage Blog, Literary Outfits | 2 Comments
The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland

 

 

Barbara Silkstone has done something amazing, and given us the very scene in which this outfit is worn. It’s from her mega hit “The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland” which you can read about below….and in this scene, our Alice is forced to represent herself in court. Hijinks ensue.
As I slipped into position at our table my straight skirt rose up my legs. I tugged at the hem catching my bracelet on my pantyhose at mid-thigh. I struggled to free the gold links from the tougher than steel fibers of my run-resistant hose. My every movement succeeded in tangling me with myself. My right wrist felt permanently attached to my right thigh eight inches short of being obscene.

I was sweating. I couldn’t stay in my seat. You had to walk up and announce yourself. I edged out of the chair bent over, hobbling, wrist on thigh, and skirt way up where it shouldn’t have been. I tried to act as professional as I could under the circumstances. I flashed the judge a self-deprecating smile.

“Alice Harte. I am here today in my own defense, Your Honor. I am pro se.” I couldn’t reach the microphone on the podium, so I spoke as loudly as I could considering my face was on my stomach.

The courtroom was silent; you could have heard a lawyer drop.

The judge looked flabbergasted. “Are you mocking me?” she snapped.

“Your Honor I have a problem. May I go behind the bench?”

“The correct terminology is ‘May I approach the bench?’”

I hunched forward, pigeon stepping toward her. There were twitters of laughter in the courtroom.

The judge banged her gavel. “Silence. Ms. Harte if you are attempting to make a mockery of this court, I will not take it lightly. Now straighten up.”

The judge’s bench was a good three feet taller than my head. I waddled as close as I could and mouthed the words ‘Panty hose are stuck.’ She didn’t get it.

I figured if I could get behind the judicial platform I could take off my panty hose and roll them up with the bracelet and be done with it.

The bailiff was one step behind me as I slipped around the bench and under the judge’s chair. I guessed he’d never seen anyone act that way in court before because he stood there dumbstruck and then broke into gales of laughter. The spectators joined him. The noise was so loud the judge’s gavel-banging couldn’t be heard. It was twenty minutes before they all got quiet and I felt secure enough to walk out from under the judge’s chair. I did so with all the dignity I could muster. I pretended I was Joan of Arc going to the stake.

Alice Harte’s life is falling apart. Her boss at the real estate firm where she works is a litigious and murderous man with ties to “The Mob” in Florida. She KNOWS he has literally beheaded someone in the past.

Her whole life she has dreamed of living in England and meeting a man similar to John Cleese. In an attempt to start breaking away from her boss who is threatening her with a lawsuit, she flies to England to meet Nigel Channing, who has been charming her through e-mails and phone calls.

As her life in Miami falls apart, with mobsters and a pending fraud lawsuit, her romantic savior in England looks more and more tarnished by the hour. And then she stumbles across a beheaded mob boss. How will she ever keep her head and win the lawsuit? And what about love?