The Free Motion Quilting Project: Writing Quilt Fiction with Frances O'Roark Dowell

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Writing Quilt Fiction with Frances O'Roark Dowell

Hello My Quilting Friends! Today we have podcast episode 22 and it's a wonderful interview with a quilting fiction author Frances O'Roark Dowell, the author of Birds in the Air and many books for children. Click Here to check out her website.

Frances is also a podcaster. She has been the host of the Off Kilter Quilt podcast for seven years - that's incredible!

I learned about Frances and her books in an interesting way. Bonnie Hunter was reading Birds in the Air and tagged me in a post and said I popped into the book halfway through. Lol!

I had to pick up a copy and read it and yep, my book How to Piece Perfect Quilts helped the main character learn more about piecing. Other professional quilters were mentioned such as Carol Doak and the Dear Jane quilt project as well as quilting tools I've seen for years.

I felt this added a deep level of authenticity to the book which was so obviously written by a quilter who loves quilting. It was also fun to hear references to North Carolina, the state I've lived in my whole life. While the town the book is set in is fictional, other nearby towns like Gastonia and Asheville are meantioned and that also made Birds in the Air a pleasure to read.

Frances got into writing quilting fiction - stories about quilts and quilters - because she loved reading quilting fiction. I've definitely heard this about writing: write what you read. Whatever you're interested in, whatever makes you happy to read will also be the most fun for you to write.

She had read all the Jennifer Chiaverini books on the Elm Creek Quilters and she still wanted to read more stories about quilters making quilts.

Frances also wanted to write about her own experience as a quilter and share that within her book. I love that idea because it's another way of sharing your journey and life with the world.

The inspiration for Birds in the Air came from The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jenny Beyer and she flipped through it and saw a Birds in the Air quilt block and instantly the words caught her attention. She's already working on a sequel to this book called Stars Upon Stars and found the title and inspiration the same way.

Frances has a simple writing process. She doesn't wait for inspiration but instead writes Monday through Friday from 10 am to 1 pm. Frances is a "pantser" which means she writes by the seat of her pants as she writes a rough first draft, then works with editors to polish and revise the book to finish it.

She also tends to fly by the seat of her pants with quilting design, using a design wall to plan blocks and build unique quilts.

Frances and her husband formed a publishing company, Milton Falls Media, to publish Birds in the Air. Frances has been traditionally published with her children's fiction books, but wanted to try self publishing for this new book.

To market the book, Frances has her established podcast and blog, she also reached out to other professional quilters like Mary Ann Fons for book blurbs, and asked bloggers to share reviews. This was a lot of work, but she's sold nearly 10,000 copies!

Check out France's website and her blog the Off Kilter Quilt to see what she's working on right now.

Also a big congratulations is in order as France's Birds in the Air quilt won 3rd place in the Riley Blake 2017 Fabric Challenge!

Our sponsor for the show this week was the new Mega Star Walking Foot Quilting Workshop.

In this online class you'll learn how to piece the Mega Pinwheel Star quilt, design a simple quilting design, and learn how to quilt it entirely with your walking foot on a home sewing machine.

Click Here to check out this quilting workshop now.

Now for some updates from my neck of the woods:

It's June and I always like to check in on my yearly goals this month and how things are going. If you'd like, you can go back to hear my New Year's Resolutions here.

My words for the year are Simple and Open and I feel like I've been very successful keeping things simple. I'm streamlining a lot of processes here on the blog and with creating videos which are simplifying my life and giving me a lot more time to design and create.

I've also forced myself to be open to being outside this summer. We've been having Burning Swimming Days every Saturday where we light a fire alternate between jumping in the pool and warming up by the fire (because the water is REALLY cold).

We cook hot dogs and s'mores and just have a fun time in the sun and yes, I do get bug bitten, but the extra chocolate and marshmellow on my s'mores makes it worth it!

So that's the update for this week! I've been thinking about returning to a weekly podcast and use the off weeks to answer your quilting questions. What do you think? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed listening. One of the things I often hear when people hear that I quilt -" oh that's a dying art. Only grandmas know how to quilt." They're totally surprised when I say it's a multi billion dollar industry. Thanks for sharing your story.


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