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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Breaking the Band Saw: An Author Looks at a Change in Plans


Do what you are called to do and do it well.

It sounds like advice a mom would give a child.  You know, be yourself, everyone else is already taken. Pep words.

Actually, it's advice I've had to tell myself as I've embarked on a new journey.  This venture is not one I had on my wish list.  Like any author-at-heart, my list consisted of meg-book deals, fame, and speaking engagements.  A purpose, fulfillment. I also wanted readers to like my stories, of course. Oh, and money for the mortgage, those bills, and Earl Grey tea.  Dear God, please hear my prayer.

So what happened when the tide changed and I found myself sailing away from that sunny island, that big dream, the one I had had a taste of, but wanted more of?  What happened when the boat turned into the wild and windy sea?

In other words, what transpired when a little business morphed into a bigger story?

First, I thought my husband Carl could make all the products and I'd just do what I'm good at---customer service. But after he complained that he needed someone to help him with the increasing orders, I knew I needed to enter the garage-transformed-into-workshop and get to know tools bigger than hammers and needle-nose pliers.

I have no skill set for this, I reminded God in case He had forgotten how I broke the band saw blade one evening last spring. And how mad Carl had been, emphasizing how I don't listen to instruction. God, I'm so much more comfortable creating characters.




As Carl became swamped with orders, I had to put my settings and characters aside and put my full attention into the business.  After all, it was making us money, much more than novel-writing.

Months later, I'm still the one emailing customers, and, when necessary, calling them. I take the photos of our products and write the listings for four of the five online sites where we sell.  But I also get dirty. I stain, sand, and paint.  I help install new lights in our workshop. I use a drill press and don't call it a drill saw and have not broken it. . .   yet. I have been to Lowes and The Home Depot more times in the last three weeks than I've been to my old hangout, the library. I've even gotten bold and tried my hand at making some of my own wood creations on our new laser-engraver.

Carved By Heart continues to evolve and gets noticed for many of its products----especially our Log Cabin Mailbox that was featured in Reader's Digest and at PeeWee Herman's blog.




Instead of a review from a reader, I get emails from customers that say things like:
Wow!!! Just got the most wonderful call from my brother!!! He absolutely loves his gift and said he has always wanted one. Thank you!!! (The brother had lost his young wife a year ago.)

And people have paid money for my mini bird house ornaments and wood Christmas blocks!

Perhaps a book deal will happen sometime in the future . . .  Perhaps not . . .

Right now I'm grateful.  I'm thankful knowing that this business is what God has called us to do.  A husband-wife team of working every day together is not an easy feat and Carl and I have had our struggles. But even in the midst of communication that goes sideways or sheer stress due to machines that need parts that aren't readily available or spending four hours packaging and mailing out orders (13 of them came in just yesterday; we mailed out 31 last week), there is a deep sense of fulfillment.





Best of all, I see that God is doing a work in my heart.  Surrounded by machines and tools, God's voice speaks to me about love, patience, humility, and forgiveness. As I work with pine and birch, I learn the need to pay attention to detail. Along with the wood, I'm being crafted into whatever this is God has for me now.

There is nothing like doing what you're supposed to be doing.

Have faith.  Trust.  In His time, He reveals what He has for us, especially as we enter seasons of new beginnings.


****    Carved By Heart is having a sale this weekend.  Stop by and see what we've got for you!  ****









Friday, November 20, 2015

Author Interview: Carol A. Brown







Hello, readers!  Today Carol A. Brown is my guest and I'll be asking her some questions about her newest children's book.  

Hi, Carol, welcome to The Patchwork Quilt.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog! I always enjoy sharing with others.

For those who aren't familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I began writing in 1996 about highly sensitive people and how sensitivity affects you as in individual. My purpose was to give voice and vocabulary for people’s experience of life. It was a lot of work and I was relieved when it was done! I told God that I didn’t want to do any more hard books. I guess He was good with that because then He downloaded the stories in the Sassy Pants series!

Whether I am writing for adults or children, my focus is to leave the reader not only with a nugget of knowledge, but that they are in some way wiser, stronger in character and more able to make wise decisions. I believe humor helps us learn more easily so you will find I use it liberally!

How many books have you written? 

I’ve written 3 for adults and about 10 for children.  Three of them are published.

What is the hardest thing about writing for you? 

Editing is tedious for me, but the marketing aspects of writing bewilder and nearly overwhelm me. So, I am very thankful for my friend and publisher. She keeps me on task and grounded!

Do you ever get discouraged? 

Yes, but not with the writing as much as with my energy level which impacts how much I can do on any given day.

How do you overcome it? 

I’ve learned that the fastest way to come out of a physical or mental slump is to be gracious and give myself permission to recover at whatever pace my body sets for me. I’ve also learned that growing joy in relationships kick-starts energy.

Can you tell us about your new book? 

Sassy Pants Learns About Strange Creatures finds her worrying about reactions as she tries to make amends and encounters critters that are different from herself or any other resident of Farmer White’s farm. She is not sure how to react! She seeks the advice of someone older and wiser. She learns there is a “strange” that is just different from me – these are friends you have not yet met. And then there is “strange” that is dangerous and that requires a very different reaction! She discovers an entirely different picture of her father.

Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp? 

Yes  Fear and worry exaggerate our problemsThe good news is that we can overcome fear and worry.  And secondly, if we can not be offended by differences (like looks or smell) we may find a good friend. On the other hand, some strangers are truly dangerous. We need to learn the difference and know who to call for help.


What inspired you to write this book?  

My husband urged me to write a sequel to the first book in the Sassy Pants series. He argued that she was so naughty in the first book that I should give her the opportunity to redeem herself. But I didn’t have another story in me. I even asked God’s help in convincing him there were no more stories, and that was when God downloaded the rest of the series. So . . . here we are!


Do you have any other books in the works? 

Yes, there is an adult devotional that is in process and at least three more children’s books in this series.

Do you talk to your characters? 

Yes! Of course, that’s how I find out what is going on with them. Some of the characters in the novels I’ve not yet written will step out periodically and ask if I’m ready to start. I hate to send them back, but I have to finish publishing these children’s stories. Then I will be free to begin the research.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? 

When you have an urge from God, an inspiration or idea, start writing as fast as you can. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling—fix that later when the inspiration is spent. Then go to someone whom you trust “with the things precious to you” and have them read it. Ask for an honest reaction/critique. You can become so involved with what you write—you know what you mean—that you can miss important transitions and places that need further clarification. You can make connections in your mind that you have not put down on paper, which can leave readers scratching their heads. Another writer friend can point these places out for you.

Thank you again for hosting me!  Blessings!

About Carol
“I began telling stories when I had enough brothers to make an audience!” (She has four brothers and one sister!) She and her husband reside in Grand Rapids, MI. with Carol’s elderly mother. They have two daughters on the west coast and five grandchildren. Carol was raised in a farming community in Iowa. She enjoys reading, nature and music, playing the piano, knitting, crocheting, painting and telling stories! As a retired educator, “I dedicate myself to knitting sweaters and spinning yarns!

Find Carol at these links:


Twitter account: @CarolABrown4





Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Christmas Comes in Mini Decor




I love little things.  I’m the type that is amazed by doll furniture, baby socks, and robin’s eggs.  So it makes sense that I have a selection of mini bird houses.  These are crafted from birch wood via a laser and assembled to form Christmas tree ornaments. I paint some, stain others with a wood stain, and add ribbons and gold bells.  Perfect for your big (or little) Christmas tree.  Also, these mini bird houses make good decorations to place around the house, on wreaths, or on the table surrounded by candles, holly, or even a dish of chocolates.


Check them out: Mini Bird House Christmas Decorations

From November 26 till the 30th, get 15% off by using coupon code BAMSALE2015.