AudioFile Magazine’s Best Memoir Audiobooks of 2017

AudioFile Magazine has just announced their picks for best audiobooks of 2017.  I’m honored that they’ve sent me their list of best memoir audiobooks to share!  Here they are:

AL FRANKEN, GIANT OF THE SENATE  by Al Franken, read by Al Franken

THE BRIGHT HOUR by Nina Riggs, read by Cassandra Campbell, Kirby Heyborne

CHASING SPACE by Leland Melvin, read by Ron Butler

DEATH NEED NOT BE FATAL  by Malachy McCourt, Brian McDonald, read by Malachy McCourt

HUNGER by Roxane Gay, read by Roxane Gay

LET JUSTICE ROLL DOWN by John M. Perkins, Shane Claiborne [Foreword], read by Calvin Robinson, Shane Claiborne

LOGICAL FAMILY by Armistead Maupin, read by Armistead Maupin

MY LIFE, MY LOVE, MY LEGACY by Coretta Scott King, Barbara Reynolds, read by Phylicia Rashad, January LaVoy

SEVEN by Paula Cizmar, Catherine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Carol K. Mack, Ruth Margraff,  Anna Deavere Smith, Susan Yankowitz, read by Shannon Holt, Jossara Jinaro, Alex Kingston, Emily Kuroda, Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris, Annet Mahendru, Sarah Shahi

THEFT BY FINDING by David Sedaris, read by David Sedaris

VACATIONLAND by John Hodgman, read by John Hodgman

WHAT HAPPENED by Hillary Rodham Clinton, read by Hillary Rodham Clinton

YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME by Sherman Alexie, read by Sherman Alexie

SoundCloud sound clips

–MY LIFE, MY LOVE, MY LEGACY by Coretta Scott King, Barbara Reynolds, read by Phylicia Rashad, January LaVoy

–THEFT BY FINDING by David Sedaris, read by David Sedaris

–VACATIONLAND by John Hodgman, read by John Hodgman 

I have to admit that I haven’t listened to any of the above memoir audiobooks, but I see several that I’ll add to my personal listening list.  That’s one of the great things about AudioFile Magazine – they offer suggestions for excellent listening in categories that you might miss during your own searches.

To see all the best books of 2017 chosen by AudioFile Magazine, check out their ezine at:

I love to draw while I read!

Did I just say I love to draw while I read?  Yes!
How is this possible?  Audiobooks!
OK, there is some controversy – is listening to audiobooks the same thing as reading?  I don’t know.  All I know is that  I’m totally obsessed with audiobooks for many reasons.  But, the reason I’m talking about today is:  they inspire my creativity.  I love to draw while I read!

Full disclosure – I’m a reviewer for AudioFile Magazine.  I love audiobooks so much that I not only do I enjoy listening to them,  I like to offer my opinions about the listening experience.  I love to hear high quality productions.  I want audio to be a successful and enjoyable format.  I think it’s an art form unto itself. Another full disclosure – the books I’m discussing in this post are not ones that I’ve reviewed!  I review a lot of audiobooks – but I also cherish my personal listening time!  I have my list of favorite authors and narrators and never miss a new release by them.  I have my own Audible account which is full of awesome audiobooks – and sometimes I even re-listen to them!  I guess this makes me a true “Audiophile”!

In October, I listened to “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery.  The version I chose was read by Rachel McAdams.  There are several recordings of this title read by various narrators, but I’d say I chose well with this version.  McAdams did a fantastic job and I enjoyed the story so much.  I hadn’t read the book since I was a child, so it was like a brand new story to me. (Read the review by AudioFile magazine here.) The story of Anne’s entertaining childhood inspired me to fill my sketchbook page with fall foliage and pumpkins, as well as to hand-letter one of my favorite quotes from the book, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”.  

In early November, I listened to “Girl waits with Gun” by Amy Stewart.  I really enjoyed the story about Constance Kopp, a strong woman who stands up for herself and her sisters when threatened by a bullying mobster.  I loved how Christina Moore narrated the book, giving it an authentic 1914 feel.  (Read AudioFile’s review here.)  The story inspired me to draw a revolver!  Now there’s something I’ve never drawn before!  I was also inspired by the mentions of fashion and sewing machines from the early 1900’s.  I just had to include my favorite quote from the book, “She’s not a regular lady!”  No, she certainly isn’t!

Recently, I listened to “A Distant View of Everything” by Alexander McCall Smith, which is the 11th installment of the Sunday Philosophy Club series starring Isabel Dalhouse.  I adore this whole series!  Davina Porter could pretty much read anything, and I’d listen to it.  These books are slow-paced and gentle – when I listen to them, I feel like I’m meditating!  (Read AudioFile’s review here.) This story inspired me to draw a number of interesting items – a fox, olives, sausages….a bassoon!  And I had to include a quote that’s been in every single book in this series, “Isabel thought for a moment.”  She does A LOT of thinking!

These pages from my sketchbook are certainly not perfect!  They are the rough pen drawings that came to me while listening to these wonderful stories.  I really enjoy letting the ideas flow while I listen.  Audiobooks actually cause images to pop into my head – images that wouldn’t normally come to me.  If you’re an artist feeling stuck for inspiration, try listening to an audiobook and see what kind of images pop into your head.

Printing my own fabric

I’ve had some June Tailor Computer Printer Fabric laying around for a couple of years.  I’ve always wanted to give it a try, but was a little afraid to actually do it! What if I messed it up – or what if it got jammed in my printer?  Well, I finally decided to go for it.  I doodled a bunch of different paisleys for the Pattern Weekly project, hosted by Patternopolis Design on Instagram.

I brought my funny little doodled paisleys into Photoshop and arranged them into a repeating pattern.

Then I printed my fabric.  I was really pleased with how it turned out! My main worry was how it would feed through my printer – and it worked just like paper.  I made a video showing how I printed the fabric, as well as how to sew a funny little pumpkin with it.


Printed fabric does have a few limitations:

  1. You’re limited to the 8.5 X 11 inch size.
  2. You can’t wash the fabric. The instructions say to dry clean only, because ink jet printer ink isn’t color fast.
  3. The colors will be different from what you see on your computer screen or even different from how they print on paper. I found the colors were much less vibrant when printed on the fabric, as you can see in this photo.  

For most things I’d really prefer having my fabric professionally printed by a company such as Spoonflower.  But, there are times when I want a small piece of fabric “right now!” and this printable fabric suits just fine. And it’s quite fun! 


National Sewing Month

September was National Sewing Month, one of my favorite months of the year!

I celebrated by purchasing a used ruffler foot for my sewing machine.  It didn’t come with any instructions.  I did some research, figured out how to use it, and made a little YouTube video about it.  Since I was making so many ruffles, I decided I’d better come up with a project in which to use them.  I designed a tote bag with a ruffled top, then made a YouTube video to show how to make it.  That was fun, and now I have several tote bags, made with my own fabric designs!

I drew and designed a printable PDF and put it on my Free Downloads page.  You can download and print it at 8 X 10 or 5 X 7 and frame it for your sewing room!  My most exciting news as a fabric designer happened this month! Someone purchased 20 (yes 20!) yards of my “Roadrunner and Tracks” fabric design from Spoonflower!  I was beyond delighted that someone liked my fabric well enough to buy 20 yards of it.  I wish I knew what they’re making!

I had lots of fun during National Sewing Month.  Of course, for me, every month involves lots of sewing!

Summer School

During the month of August, I attended the Make it in Design Summer School.  I signed up for the beginner and intermediate tracks, which meant that I had 4 assignments during the 4 week session.  Each assignment contained a detailed design brief filled with keywords, trend reports, color palettes, and inspiration.  There was also a private Facebook group of lovely people from all over the world, ready to offer advice and encouragement.

Week 1:  Abstract thread.  Some of the keywords were: abstract, overlapping, texture, and hand-drawn.  I used a texture given to us by Make it in Design, some scanned bits of lace and netting, as well as digital paint brushes & textures.  I drew the mock up for my design – this lady is in a hurry to go show off her stylish jacket and hat! 

Week 2:  Pure Zen.  Some of the keywords were: oriental, simple, floral, and trailing.  I created a hand-drawn vine pattern in 3 different colors.  I drew a mock up of a sweet Japanese lady in a kimono made with my designs.  

Week 3: Drawn Botanicals. Some key words were: illustrative, hand-drawn, unfinished, and foliage. I was inspired by an apple tree loaded with apples. I took a photo and used it as my reference and color palette. My pattern reminded me of a baby’s dress, so I drew a little waving model.  I decided to enter this design in the Art Licensing Show baby pattern challenge.

Week 4: Stripe Form. Some key words were: architectural, geometric, linear and layered. I created a textured plaid design, which reminded me of a cozy chair – which inspired my mock up drawing.

During the 4 weeks, I discovered something interesting: I love making the patterns, but even more, I love drawing the mock up illustrations!
Summer School was lots of fun and full of inspiration. I look forward to Make it in Design’s Winter School. But first, I’ll be participating in 10 weeks of Folio Focus by Rise Design and Shine. I can’t wait to get started!


Index Card a Day

I recently completed the “Index Card a Day” challenge, hosted by  Every year from June 1 to July 31, people from around the world join together do something creative on an index card every day.  The only rule – the creation must be on an actual, cheap & flimsy index card.  No fancy papers cut to size!  The lowly and disposable index card helps discourage perfectionist thinking, which frees up the mind for endless creative possibilities.

I was desperately feeling the need for this kind of mindset!  I had blocked my creativity with feelings of inadequacy and the desire to make perfect artwork.  I’d been taking a lot of on-line art classes, which taught me so much.  But, they also skewed my expectations. I felt like I should be making art comparable to the teachers of the classes – and, of course, I couldn’t do that!

I started my “ICAD” project with paper cut characters. I’d never really done paper cutting before, hadn’t read any books or taken any classes – which was the point.  I didn’t have any preconceived expectations – I was just having fun!







Then, when I reached day 35 of the 61 days, I was tired of cutting paper and ready to draw again – this time in a free, joyful way.

I have to admit that I was glad when the 61 days were completed.  It was an excellent project, but I was ready to be done with the constraint of index cards.  I’d highly recommend the project to anyone looking to re-boot their creativity.  It certainly helped me – and now I have 61 fun cards to inspire my future projects!