15. November 2022 · Comments Off on At the Market · Categories: Book Event, Domestic

My daughter and I did a craft market last weekend – one of our regular markets of the season. This one was at the Senior Center in Bulverde, and I have lost track of how many of these that we have done, but I do remember doing the first one, where my daughter had to drive back home for our tables, which it turned out that we needed, and I only made enough to buy a set of regular china from a junk outlet on the way home. (Oh, yes – 2014, and we have only broken one of the small plates since then. Still love that china, still use it every day.)

So, my daughter is moving on from eking out a small paycheck in doing the gypsy markets, to doing real estate full time, so what with Covid and the cancellation of practically everything, we aren’t doing many of the markets that we used to do. She is selling off the last of her stock of tiny origami earrings, and the knitted beanies and stuff… but she did have a notion that we ought to try doing homemade soap and scented candles, along with all my American Girl doll clothes … and we were able to score a lot of raw materials for the soap and candle projects through my Vine participation.

I made a decent profit on the doll clothes (which are mostly made from scraps left over from other projects), although not so much that I will make any more until the inventory draws down – and our big seller was home–made, hand-made soaps. We found some basic recipes and had the required equipment on hand – digital scale, crock-pot, immersion blender – bought the olive and coconut oils from Costco, the powdered concoction to make the lye solution from Amazon and tried it out. The basic recipes worked very well; I think that the only reason that crafters shy off from making soap is that the lye solution is genuinely dangerous and a bit scary, when one reads all the warnings … but we went ahead, put on the rubber gloves and the eye protection, and followed all the measurements exactly. With the result that we had some very pleasant and usable soaps, which sold like the proverbial hotcakes, packaged in little mesh bags from the Dollar Tree (soon to be the Dollar-25-Cent Tree, I believe) and priced them to sell … which they did.

We took Wee Jamie with us, and he behaved magnificently, just as he did last year. We took along the folding wagon, padded with plenty of blankets, and all the baby stuff, of course. He simply charmed so many people at the market, including a tall skinny teenager who mimicked him making faces and blowing raspberries, offering high-fives for nearly ten minutes … it was really most endearing. He’s an outgoing and endearing small child and loves interacting with people. Not a shy or withdrawn bone in his body. Another woman, especially charmed, asked if we could stay in touch with her – she would like to be one of Wee Jamie’s honorary aunties. He took a good long nap in the wagon around midday and generally behaved so very well. He was not cross or cranky at all during the day. I have plans eventually to dress him as Little Lord Fauntleroy in black velveteen and a Battenberg lace collar, so he can help me flog books. Best to teach them the craft early, you know…

My daughter went around and talked to so many of the other vendors, gleaning some rather dispiriting intelligence regarding their sales … well, we weren’t the only ones who didn’t make much. Her conclusion is that almost everyone is holding on to their money this year. We made bank on the soaps because we priced them considerably below what we have paid for similar at other markets. We have another market this weekend, this one in Starzville, near Canyon Lake, and then on the first Saturday in December, the long haul down to Goliad for Miss Ruby’s Author Corral, and Christmas on the Square, with Santa arriving, mounted on a very, very tame (possibly heavily tranquilized) longhorn steer, to the great acclaim of the crowd. I hope to have the print version of the latest Luna City installment available for sale at that event, but everything about publishing and printing slows down at this time of year. The ebook/Kindle version should be available within days, though.

17. April 2022 · Comments Off on Dressing the Part – Again · Categories: Book Event, Domestic

I am back to doing in-person book events again, after almost two years of practically nothing. Seriously, for all of 2021, I did two book events and one craft fair, which – to add insult to injury – resulted in sales so meagre that the sales tax reported and paid to the state amounted to about $15 bucks. With the end of the covid sort-of-epidemic trailing off, and the quiet death (at least in Texas) of mask and social distancing mandates, and people actually getting out of their homes and going to live events, big events like Folkfest and the upcoming Lone Star Book Festival in Seguin are back to something approximating normal.

Which is such a relief for me, although since these events are mostly outdoors, the matter of being comfortable in a historic costume does come up. Some of my Victorian and Edwardian outfits are polyester fabric, and as such are hideously uncomfortable in the heat. I’m not even going to chance wearing one of them at the Sequin event, which will be entirely out of doors and late in May. Last year, I wore a cotton dress with an apron over it, in the style of a WWI Red Cross nurse, which was comfortable enough, but this year it’s going to be a two-day thing (just as FolkFest was) which means two different outfits suitable for the out-of-doors in a Texas spring. I went with a long skirt and Edwardian-style cotton shirtwaist for both days, with the required underpinnings, which are all cotton.

I was asked several times if it wasn’t terribly uncomfortable, in such clothing, Just about all the women reenactors were also wearing long dresses were asked the same question, to which the answer was – no, not really. The other ladies were wearing loose cotton dresses, although I was the only one who was also layering a corset and a petticoat over the shift undergarment. I had only the one shift, which meant putting it through the wash after the first day, before wearing it again. So in preparation for more summer events, I’m making another shirtwaist – in cotton, of course, and two of those late Victorian undergarments called ‘combinations’ – a one-piece version of underwear combining a shift top and knee-length bloomers. One has to wear a shift or combinations under a corset, as corsets, with the metal busk and bones, can’t really be washed. In the old days, it seems that corsets were worn, and worn and worn until they were in shreds – the layer of shift underneath and corset-cover over were to preserve the corset and keep it relatively clean as long as possible. I don’t mind wearing one, by the way – they’re really not that uncomfortable for the generously-busted, they eliminate the discomfort of bra straps digging into your shoulders and it does wonders for posture.


At the New Braunfels Folkfest – under the trees to the right of the furniture museum!

04. October 2021 · Comments Off on Looking Ahead · Categories: Book Event, Domestic, Random Book and Media Musings

The last third of the year is upon us, that part of the year when we have markets, and prepare for the holiday season. I don’t know how many we will be doing this year. I had to beg off the Folk Festival in New Braunfels as I was still feeling feeble with the Commie Crud. The thought of driving up to the venue with stock and the tables and all, dragging it all from the car, setting up and spending two days outside was just too exhausting to contemplate. A pity for it would have been fun – but I’m only a week out from having to rest for several hours after the exertion of reading the usual news in the morning and walking the dogs for a bare half-mile, and from going to bed at 6 PM, utterly exhausted.

My book didn’t make the Giddings Word Wrangler this year, so that event is also off my calendar. Looking on the bright side, I am spared the cost of two nights in a local hotel and the drive to Giddings – and doing it alone, since the Daughter Unit has Wee Jamie to consider. The Word Wrangler has never been all that profitable for us, but we loved doing it because of the community involvement and the opportunity to hang out with other Texas authors. But we do have Miss Ruby’s Author Corral in Goliad, another Christmas event in New Braunfels and possibly the craft event at the Bulverde senior center. Honestly, this last year really has been one I’d rather forget.

It’s depressing to read the news of a morning – writing about Luna City, the Jim and Toby stories, and the various historicals is an even more urgent refuge than before. Somehow, I have to get myself motivated to finish the Civil War drama, which is nearly half-done. I think what is holding me back is the fact that I will have to write about that war, the ghosts in Union blue and Confederate gray, and the savagery with which they went after each other. I’ll have to write about that in detail, imagine it happening before my eyes. This hits too close to current events, with feelings running high between progressive and conservative factions. More »

We received a letter a few days ago from the sponsoring organization for the Giddings Word Wrangler; this an event that my daughter and I have participated in as authors for at least five or six years. Most usually in September, it was rescheduled to November, and then cancelled entirely for 2020. We are quite disappointed at this, but thoroughly understand the concerns which led to this.

In a normal year, it was the bash that kicked off our fall/winter event season, where we signed up for local markets, a couple of craft fairs, and one or two other strictly book events. The drive to Giddings meant an overnight stay, and in recent years two nights, since we volunteered to do talks at the local middle school English classes. It was a chance to relish some small town doings, meet up with other authors – a good few of whom we had hung out with before at other book events. Alas, we’ll have to wait until next near to visit again. I honestly am resigned to the fact that most Christmas markets and fairs will be cancelled this year. The Christmas craft fair in Bulverde is held mostly in an indoors venue, the senior center – and that has been closed for all intents and purposes since March. About the only one that I can see happening might be Miss Ruby’s Author Corral at Christmas on the Square in Goliad, which is all outdoors.

So – we’ll see. Looking on the bright side, not being committed to exhausting, day-long events with a long drive to and from, gives me a bit more writing time on weekends.