Happy Cattern’s Day

Harvest Festivals are so much fun especially when you can learn some of the crafts from times past and try your hand at them. Here I am learning to make bobbin lace. Using wooden bobbins and pins, the lace is made like braiding hair. In my pattern, I used one bobbin from the left side over two bobbins and then three over two from the right. Repeat and the pattern emerges.

I’m working with cotton thread but since lace became popular in the 16th century in Europe, all kinds of threads have been used, even gold which must’ve made a handsome decoration on a collar or cuff. The more traditional way to make lace is shown by the bobbins and pins set on the maroon-colored pillow next to me.

I can imagine what it must have been like years ago sitting down in the evening with a pillow in my lap and braiding the threads while a fire crackles in the hearth.

Not only stylish ladies wore lace, but even gentleman and clergyman wore lace. Check out the paintings of wealthy patrons by Rembrandt and you’ll see their elaborate lace collars and cuffs.

There’s even a lacemakers’ holiday which was started in England by Catherine of Aragon. Cattern’s Day is celebrated either November 25 or 26 as a day off for lacemakers.

So happy Cattern’s Day to all of you lacemakers who still make lace by hand!


One Author’s Journey

I recently asked for my rights back to my first book, Lady in Waiting. The book had received four stars from Romantic Times reviewer Gerry Benninger, was a finalist for an EPPIE, and had been voted ‘Favorite Historical Romance’ at

What could I do with it?

C.J. Lyons who writes medical romances and Bella Andre who writes contemporary, recently spoke at my Romance Writers of America-San Diego chapter about self-publishing. Both of these authors are successful in self-publishing and encouraged authors to take this path.

Dare I take the plunge?

First of all, you have to put some money into the enterprise. There are fees for a beta-read, proofreading, cover design, cover art and formatting. Armed with a little capital and the belief that I had a good story, I decided to give self-publishing a try.

Happily, there are several free books ready to download on your Kindle or I-pad. I read all three.

Smashwords Style Guide

Smashwords Marketing Guide

Publish on Amazon Kindle

These books are filled with techno-speak and not for the timid, but they do give the reader a feel for what’s involved. Spoiler alert: Writing is creative and surprising and often difficult, requiring the writer to go out of her comfort zone.

So I polished the book and sent it to former teacher and no-nonsense beta reader Karen Lawson at: Karen gave me her honest impression of the story, pointed out some inconsistencies (the book is a time travel) and kept reminding me when the book strayed from the path of fulfilling the promise to the reader to tell a believable time travel with a satisfying and happy ending.

I addressed Karen’s concerns with a light rewrite and because the book had changed, I named the new, improved book Past Forgetting. Next I found and bought artwork for the cover. When my heroine leaves her stately home, she steps out into Edwardian England. I wanted to show that on the cover. Once I bought some artwork, I sent it to my web designer Shelley at Web Crafters. Bella Andre makes her own covers but I didn’t have the confidence to go out on that limb alone.

Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, has a list of recommended cover artists and format designers. Here’s the address to request the list:

Formatting the manuscript for publication can be done by the author using the Style Guide. I sent Past Imperfect to one of the names on Mark’s List, John Low at E-Book Launch to format the book which saved me time.

Once you have a formatted manuscript, a cover you love and a blurb, it’s time to fill out the form at Smashwords. They will assign you an ISBN number for booksellers to find the work or you can buy an ISBN number from Convert your file to HTML and send to

Pricing is up to the author and changing the pricing is easy using the author’s dashboard. Both Smashwords and Amazon have promotions which they will email you about so you can change your book price if you want.

Where am I now?

Still trekking. There’s plenty of marketing to do. Self-publishing was totally out of my wheelhouse, but quite frankly, I enjoyed creating something new out of something old!


Sarah Richmond