Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Life Lesson; New book from Verna Mosquera -- A Sewn Vintage Lifestyle Now Available!

As I prepare for the release of my first book A Sewn Vintage Lifestyle, it seemed only fitting to share a bit about the process and a few things I’ve learned along the way. In 2007 at the International Quilt Market in Houston I had just released my first fabric collection Sweet Escape for FreeSpirit Fabrics. As I was promoting my new collection, I was approached by an associate of F + W Media. She asked if I would be interested in putting my pattern designs into a book. While it seemed like a wonderful idea I knew the timing of it was not right. My company, The Vintage Spool, was very young and so were my two sons, Milo and Nico. I saved the contact information from F + W and put the idea of doing a book on the back burner.

Tip #1-Timing is everything. Don’t jump into to something just because everyone around you is doing it. Wait for a time that is right for you.

Fast-forward several years, patterns and fabric collections later. One day
while on the phone with fellow designer and friend Tula Pink she mentioned she was in the process of doing a book with F + W Media. I asked her about her experience and whether she was happy with her publisher and she had only wonderful things to say. Market was upon us and she was kind enough to offer to introduce me to her editor. Later that month at Market she walked me over to the F + W Media booth and her editor had just left the show. At that point I got her card.

I then decided to introduce myself and my product line virtually. Upon my return home I drafted an e-mail to her about my company and my desire to now do a book. Luckily she contacted me back right away and was very interested in collaborating and hearing more about my idea.

Tip #2-Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. If you have an idea or desire to do something contact someone who can help you make it happen. The worst that can happen is that they say no. Be brave!

It was right there that the process of writing and designing a Sewn Vintage Lifestyle began. F + W asked me to pitch my idea for the book. I was to do a write up on what the book was about and an outline of what projects would be featured. I knew I wanted it to have my romantic and vintage inspired aesthetic but wasn’t certain exactly which direction I wanted to go. I decided I’d love to do a book that featured projects for the home. Something that would help folks add a touch of vintage charm to their décor by using today’s fabrics. It would feature quilts, (both patchwork and appliqué), embroidery and simple sewn projects. I was so excited to be able to include all of my fabric collections together in a book concept. Up until that point I had mainly focused on working with and promoting one collection at a time. I submitted my outline, which was then revised slightly and the next step was a request for sketches of a few of my project ideas.

This step was intimidating. I knew I could see the ideas in my mind, but wasn’t certain I could convey them to the publisher on paper. I draw frequently but still the task seemed challenging. Luckily it went well. They loved the sketches! I realized in that moment they could begin to see my vision.

Tip #3-Be true to yourself in your creative life. Do what you love and others will love it too!

Now my concept, outline and sketches needed to be submitted for approval. Yes, I had to wait it out a bit. Of course by then I was so excited about the idea of doing the book I just wanted the green light to go. Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long and I was notified that the team at F + W Media wanted to move forward with the project. I won’t lie, I did have that moment of “Oh no! There is no going back now, what have I gotten myself into?” Contracts were signed and I began receiving all the paperwork, info and deadlines that an author receives for this type of an endeavor. This was when the real work began. Sketches now had to become finished projects. Patterns had to be designed, samples had to be made, instructions had to be written.

Tip #4-Being scared is a good thing. Scary situations can lead to tremendous personal growth and wonderful life lessons.

The original outline featured 26 projects, and to be honest at that moment the idea of jumping in seemed
daunting. I realized it must be how some people feel when they look at one of my appliqué quilts and don’t know where to begin. I decided to take my own advice I often give my students and that was to take it one step at a time. As always my favorite part of the creative process is deciding which fabrics to use. As I mentioned before this was exciting because I could choose from any of the fabrics I had designed for FreeSpirit. I designed projects I knew would look just as terrific in other fabrics. I began to match certain fabrics with certain projects and decided I had to jump in. The first step always the scariest of course. And so it went as I worked on each project I took solid notes and often wrote the instructions as I sewed with my laptop open right next to my sewing machine.

Tip #5: As a pattern designer always take notes as you work. It can be a bit hindering to the creative process but it makes the writing of the pattern so much easier later and the pattern much more complete.

The next part of the creative process was doing the actual sewing, quilting and embroidery on each project. I LOVE to work with my hands. This brought me joy! As I progressed through the projects I shared them with my editor to get her feedback, and she began editing the written portion of the book. About half way through the book process I was assigned a new editor. While at first I was worried about the change, I later realized that having two different editors allowed me to work with different styles of editing. I was so grateful to have Christine Doyle as my second editor. She came on the project right about the time that it got stressful for me. Deadlines were looming and projects needed to be completed. She became a very key piece of the puzzle. In a nutshell she kept me moving in a positive direction, and for that I am incredibly grateful. I was also lucky enough to have my photographer Gregory Case, shoot all of the photos. This was wonderful as we had worked on many projects together in the past and I knew I could count on him to give a 100% to the project. I staged the shots in my home while Gregory patiently shot from different angles until he achieved a result both the F + W Media team and I were happy with.

Tip #6- Develop strong business relationships. It is important to work with people you feel comfortable with and can count on. Many creative and business endeavors require collaboration it is important to feel in sync with the others you are working with.

Once the projects were complete, the photos had been taken and the pattern instructions had been written it was time to do the formal editing process. Luckily my editor began to send me chunks of the book grouped in series of pages from a particular chapter. This allowed me to chip away at the edits and do this task in small increments. I found that if I exceeded a two-hour period my brain would kind of glaze over. It was important to read, read, and re-read! I won’t lie there was a moment in the process where I was certain it would never end. I knew doing a book would be a large amount of work but it was not until I was in the thick of it that I realized just how much truly goes into it. It gave me a whole new appreciation for authors and their process. When I turned over the final edits I could hardly believe my part was done and once again the waiting game began. After more than a yearlong process it was hard to believe that in a few short months I would be able to share my book with the sewing world. A very exciting and nerve wrecking thought in itself. The day my finished copy finally arrived I was unable to open the package for about a half an hour. I was so uncertain of how the finished copy would look. Of course as with all things I take on I looked at it with a very critical eye. I sat on the couch with each of my boys next to me. We turned page by page and I was quite pleased! There it was, the fruits of my labor, it seemed only fitting that my boys shared the moment with me. This was one of the coolest things I’d done in my creative career and as always they had come along for the ride. Best Blogger TipsShare/Bookmark


Jane said...

Thanks for the interview! Looking forward to seeing the book as I'm definately a fan!

ChristineD said...

This is great advice, Verna! I've seen many authors go through the book process, and each journey is different. But these 6 tips will go a long way in helping a new author find the best path.

Lawana said...

thanks for the words of advice ...having people around you to support you is so important when you decide to move out of "your comfort zone" with projects...