Monday, March 5, 2012

CRAFT TIME : tablet tote out of discarded library book

          I bought a "budget tablet" recently, because I sure as hell can't afford an actual iPad. My tablet is a Lenovo Ideapad A1, and was on sale for $199 at Best Buy. Just sayin'. PC World rated it the best of the budget tablets.
          I was going to fork over some more cash for a cover/case/whatever, but then I decided to get resourceful and creative instead.
          When I told my husband I was going to MAKE a tablet protector case out of a discarded library book, he was like, "Mm-hm. Sure you will." (In his defense, I say LOTS of things. Yesterday I was sitting on the couch watching TV, and said, "In an alternate reality I'm on the treadmill right now.")
"The Wind and the Rain," a book of poetry
          Having worked in numerous libraries, I have collected a stash of discarded paperbacks and hardbacks. Some because I like the books themselves, and some because I was sure one day they would provide craft material.
          First I chose a hardback of pleasing color and title that was just slightly bigger than my tablet.
          Then I boldly tore out the pages. It was an uncharacteristic act of savagery. I liked it.
          I kept the eviscerated insides because I'm a pack rat, and maybe I can use them for some OTHER craft.
          Next I chose a pale blue felt rectangle with which to line the inside of the book cover. I used regular Elmer's glue for that, but have since discovered that actual "fabric glue" works a lot better when you're working with felt.
          I glued two rectangles of black felt together, back-to-back, to give an extra layer of cushioning, and then folded them in half and sewed the two sides up, to create a pocket. Get it? I turned it inside-out, so the stitching is hidden on the inside. This is the extent of my sewing skills, and even that much is really pushing it.
          I glued the black felt pocket to the blue felt lining with Elmer's glue. It didn't really work and made a mess, and I was like, "Shit! It's RUINED! Everything is RUINED!" But I took a deep breath and went to Michael's, where I found cheap FABRIC GLUE. It worked like a charm, and the crisis was averted.
          I made Velcro fasteners using squares of iron-on adhesive Velcro, shown above. If I had KNOWN I'd be using iron-on stuff, I would have done that BEFORE gluing the blue felt liner into the inside of the book cover. Which is why I had to cut a new strip of blue felt, iron the Velcro square onto that, and then glue it onto the existing blue felt liner.
          (Luckily I had figured out the iron-on Velcro BEFORE I sewed up the black pocket, otherwise that would have been a lot trickier, too.)
          But wait- we're not done! On the outside of the book cover there were some icky yellowish stains from old book tape that had been used to hold the dust jacket (which I got rid of, it was ugly) in place. I tried gently cleaning the stains with Windex, but it didn't work.
          That's where ephemera and adhesive decorations come in handy. Back to Michael's.
The front, tastefully decorated
The back, tastefully decorated
          Okay, NOW we're done.
          And look! It's a secret. Nobody will even know there's a TABLET in there...

There it is! Third book from the puppy! Shhh...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

WRITERLY WRITING : My teensy article on ebook formatting

     My friend Rilla, who edits a local edition of SCBWI's (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) Kite Tales e-newsletter (whew!) recently asked me to write an article about e-book formatting for their regular internet/techie column. I happily agreed, even though I'm still a novice. I've really only figured out enough to upload a short story fairly successfully. My article is mainly for writers who are intimidated by the very idea of it, and just need a little reassurance and basic step-by-step clarity.

Here's the link to the newsletter:

     My article is on pages 27/28, and if you look at the table of contents ("In This Issue") on the left-hand side of the first page and find my article under "Columns," you can click on the page number and jump right to it.

     There's even a handy-dandy "clip and save" square you can cut out and stick to whatever nearby stickable space you have near your desk. Then, when you have a finished piece of fiction to convert into an ebook to sell on Amazon, just go down the line and check off each step until you're done!

     And in case you're wondering if I have any ebooks available on Amazon, I currently have two short (and bargain priced at only 99 cents each!) stories. They're both Halloween-themed, but don't let that stop you from checking them out during other times of the year. Here are the links: