Readers! How have you enjoyed The Glass Castle? The book is getting a lot of attention with the opening of the movie, but you guys, neither the book NOR the movie disappoint! Jeannette Walls is a masterful writer, draws you in, and makes you experience just what she and her siblings did. Head to the blog to print off this month’s amazing print with a quote from the book by Kelsey Garrity Riley which we absolutely love!
Craft the Rainbow
It’s been two years since Craft the Rainbow came out and basically two years since I’ve read it cover to cover, which I did once again tonight. And you know what? It’s the best work I’ve ever produced. Hands down. I poured everything I had into that thing. And I think I’m now far enough away from it that I can say that without trauma in my voice. Maybe…ha! We’ll see.
I get how it might be viewed as another craft book and if you’re not into crafting, how you wouldn’t be interested. I get it! There are plenty of tutorials out there on the Internet that where you can take what you need, make a happy craft, and move on. But, going back to our mission, and it’s taken awhile to be truly conversant in what it is that I believe, when you put soul into something, it means more and your life is enriched. It’s just that simple.
Because of that, I made Craft the Rainbow more autobiographical than a standard craft book and thus, meaningful. I spent a lot of energy working on every sentence and anecdote because I wanted it to be an interesting and humorous read as well as provide a deposit for beautiful pictures. I shared images from my wedding, pictures of my grandmother and included stories about how and why I made each project in the book. It was important that each story was deliberately chosen. (Except for one–there’s one story in there where I just didn’t know what to say–I just thought the project was really cool. Ha! I’ll let you guess which one that is.)
I also wanted you to learn something from it. The goal was to encourage you to get more comfortable using color in your own work and life. I shared what I know about successful color usage. Especially how you can develop your own color story and, one of my favorite tips, how to love a color you think you hate. I have challenged myself to do this many times and because of it, I can say that I love every shade of the rainbow–as long as I can pick the shades!
Craft the Rainbow on Amazon
The book has a 5 star review on Amazon, which is, not too shabby *wipes off shoulder (and if you haven’t left a review yet, please do! It helps the book rise in ranks–so important for authors!) and that makes me smile and grateful for everyone who took the time to do so.
The decision to do a book was not treated lightly. I spent months, nay, years, investigating if I should do it or not. I asked friends who had written books to find out if it was worth it. I was hesitant for a few reasons: I was still getting going on my business and time away from building it would interfere with its growth. Sure enough, I was right–we paused on activity on the blog for a few months. Luckily, I had grown Lars so we had a small team to pick things up more or less. I definitely couldn’t have done it without a team!
This genre of book, crafts, is a huge time commitment AND investment of money. Though I received an advance of royalties, we used a big chunk of that on paying people to help, buying supplies, props, rentals, photography, etc. Above all, I wanted it to be EXTRA so we went all out! I hope you can see that as you flip through the pages.
I also knew that writing a craft book wasn’t going to end with me on the New York Times Bestseller List. I had never seen it done so there wasn’t much proof that it even could happen. But, I also knew that if I was going to pause my business for so long, I needed some sort of marker that it was going to be worth the time spent on it, and being on a list of that type leads to more eyeballs and more sales so I thought I may as well shoot for it. Maybe mine would be the exception?! Sure enough, it didn’t end up on that list. And though it was well received and reviewed, it didn’t break any sales records. And that really disappointed me and I’m still sad about it. I think that’s partly why it’s taken so long to really reflect on it publicly.
I’m sure it’s uncomfortable if not cringe-worthy to hear about someone’s disappointment with something they’ve worked hard on. It’s uncomfortable for me to share about it. And it’s disappointing when the publisher was also banking on its success. In fact, the book was used as their show off book–there are so many bells and whistles on it! Gold leaf, gold book binding ribbon, every page was well designed. It’s nice to know, but not if it doesn’t sell books, amiright?!
I share this insight because it’s very easy to see people’s successes online, especially when they’re flailed about like we’ve come to do on social media, but we don’t often talk about the non-successes. I won’t say the word failure here because it wasn’t. It achieved my goal to make the most beautiful craft book that ever existed. I am very proud of it, I’m proud of my team for accomplishing such a huge challenge. I think I’ve probably needed to air it out so that I can heal from the experience.
What do I learn about this experience? Lots of things, but the biggest life lesson was that you don’t always have control over an outcome. You can only do your very best work and prepare as much as you can, which is exactly what I did. I can’t feel regrets about that!
With all that said, I still feel strongly that Craft the Rainbow belongs in your library, whether you craft or not, but especially if you do, and now is the best time to take advantage of the time. Dare I say, it’s the ultimate Stay-at-Home companion. They are all projects made from paper, which you may already have at home and if not, we will be making lists of materials from each project in the book so you can place it directly in your cart. Stay tuned!
My goal with being so direct and vulnerable is 1) catharsis (and it does feel slightly better 😉 and 2) remind you that it still exists and you will benefit from it. Ha, how’s that for no shame?!
Throughout the month we will be sharing some more insights into Craft the Rainbow and My Life in Color so stay tuned!
You can find Craft the Rainbow here!
Happy October, readers! ‘Tis the season of all things spooky! Since we’ve previously read some great classics—Frankenstein, Rebecca, and Dracula—we’re turning to one of America’s celebrated horror, mystery, and psychological suspense short story masters: Shirley Jackson. You may have read her famous story The Lottery, or The Haunting of Hill House. Her final novel, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, takes the creepy cake, though. This story involves members of an eccentric and now reclusive family, the Blackwoods. Merricat and her older sister Constance live with their Uncle Julian, the only members of the family still alive after the others died by poisoning. Who did it, who is the villain here, what exactly is going on, and why does the whole village despise them? This book’s unsettling undertone is perfect for a cozy, moody autumn evening. Enjoy! (Muhahaha…).
Join us over at @LarsBookClub to follow along
Oooooooo, the day is here! I’ve been wanting to do a book club for some time and, like most things lately, I put it on the back burner because I don’t know the perfect way to go about doing it. SO, like Nike, I decided to buck up and just do it. Somehow. With your help please!
Why start a book club? There are so many books that I’ve been neglecting and I think making it a formal gathering might kick my bum into gear. I’m assuming that if you read this blog you might have similar interests and tastes so why not read books that we all might like together and get a really great list going?! I’m imagining books about art, great artists, design, etc.
How will it work? This is when you come into play because I’ve been thinking about it for so long that I’m now a bit clueless. I’ve participated in book clubs before and never actually read the assigned books for whatever reason. In researching the best way to host this club everyone seemed to say that most book clubs don’t really work all too well. Is that your experience? Or have you had a successful club? And what made it successful?
I want this to be a low stress group where we read because we really want to and if we don’t, we can come back to it whenever we want to. So here’s what I’m thinking, I suggest a book each month (and you give me your suggestions too in the comments below!) and then the following month I write up some thoughts about it and MAYBE include a little project inspired by the book (and maybe I host an event locally???). And you remark in the comments section, or on your blog or Instagram or something.
OR, would you prefer to actually live discuss it via a Google hangout or Twitter or something? Thoughts?
For the first book, I thought I’d start out with The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock (get it here). It’s a book about the 18th century Mary Delany who took up a new art form in her 70s, paper collage, and created the most gorgeous flower collages out of tiny bits of paper. I’ve been enamored with her work for some time and I’m dying to dig into the book. Want to do it with me? If so, I’d love to have you!
Let’s read it by the 6th of April and then review it on the 7th. What do you think?
I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. Tell me!
photo by Trisha Zemp
October Book Club: Dracula
Happy October, readers! Fall is in full swing, and these are the cozy months to curl up with a good book, right? October is usually the month to choose a good, creepy classic (Frankenstein in 2016, and Rebecca last year!), so this year we’ve got another lined up: Dracula by Bram Stoker. Dracula, like Frankenstein, is a well-known character in Hollywood, but the original story might not be what you expect. Told from multiple points of view through letters, telegrams, and diary entries, the reader pieces together the story of Count Dracula, a mysterious man from eastern Europe who makes his way to London. As you can imagine, he wreaks his own nocturnal havoc quietly, amongst a people unaware of what is happening!
Follow along with us as we read a classic that explores ideas of masculinity and femininity, life and death (or the “undead”), and modernity or contemporary knowledge versus tradition and old superstitions. Stay tuned for some artwork and questions later this month! Enjoy!
It’s May, Lars Book Clubbers! As we remember and celebrate mothers and the women who have influenced us this month, we wanted to share with you the incredible story of one resilient, unwavering mother whose enterprising wits and enduring humor kept her family out of poverty. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan tells the story of Evelyn Ryan, a married mother of ten children and a “contester” during the 1950s and 1960s. As she completed songs, poems, and advertising jingles for various companies, her pencil and paper kept her children fed, clothed, educated, and even entertained. Evelyn Ryan was a woman ahead of her time, providing for her family when women weren’t encouraged to do so, and had little to no say in financial matters. Author and daughter Terry Ryan tells her mother’s story and shares her prize-winning writing in a wonderfully humorous way, despite their hardships and struggle with an alcoholic father and husband. We hope you are inspired by this story, surely a tribute to tireless, hard-working mothers everywhere! Feel free to follow along with us @larsbookclub , where we’ll post quotes and thoughts from the book. Check back in the middle of the month too, when we’ll have some discussion questions and artwork up on the blog for you! Happy reading!
February 2018 Book Club
Hello Lars readers! Can you believe we’re already diving into the February 2018 Book Club? Last February, the Lars team headed to Cuba, so naturally, we read about that unique, mystical country. This year, as South Korea gets ready to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, we chose an Olympic story like no other. Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid by Giuseppe Catozzella is about a girl who loves to run, Samia Yusuf Omar. Living in war-torn Somalia, Samia struggles to train and realize her dream of running in the Olympics. Women and girls are threatened and unsafe if they are seen out of the home, much less viewed in public running in a t-shirt and shorts! This month, as you watch the world come together in an amazing way, read Samia’s story and remember the hopes, dreams, and struggles each athlete may have to face. And be sure to bring tissues.
Follow along with us on @larsbookclub, and share your thoughts on the book! We’ll have a mid-month post with discussion questions and artwork for you as well, so stay tuned.
November Book Club
Have you ever read a book at just the right time, when you needed it most in your life? Did it seem almost like that book serendipitously found you for a reason? Written words are powerful – they can change us, they can carry us through hard and good times, and they can bring people together. This month we’ll be reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Set during WWII on the small island of Guernsey located between southern England and France, this is a story of love, loss, and living amongst the enemy. A London writer finds a new subject to become passionate about as the Islanders try to move on after the Nazi occupation of their tranquil island. Told in reflective, heart-breaking, witty, and hilarious letters and telegrams, this book endears you to its amazing characters. If you haven’t read this yet, you’re in for a treat. If you have, read it with us again! It recently became a movie, but we promise the book is better. 😉 Stay tuned for artwork later this month, and follow along with @larsbookclub. We want to hear your thoughts! Enjoy!
I thought reading books to a newborn would be a little premature, but I’ve been shocked at how much attention Baby J pays to each and every page I show him. He looks intently–maybe it’s because he really doesn’t have much choice in the matter. Ha! While I’ve been “reading” him these books, I’m astonished at cleverly written and illustrated they are. There’s a lot you can pack into one cardboard page! I’ve found quite a number of really beautiful, clever, and artful books for baby and I thought you might be interested in them too. There are some goodies here!
The round up includes books written by famous artists, illustrated by famous artists, or a focus on explaining about famous artist and art in general. Do you have any to add to the list? Please add in the comments!
We had a ball reading the biography of Frida Kahlo last month and this month we’re reading a fellow flower-loving friend.
Many of us know her as the six-year-old, pig-tailed girl who starred in E.T., or Adam Sandler’s lovely sidekick in later movies – we’re talking about none other than the adorable Drew Barrymore. Drew’s unconventional childhood and emancipation as an adult at age 14 led her down a path toward many amazing experiences, friendships, and ultimately a successful career. Her own accounts of her life are witty, short and sweet, and full of her humble, self-deprecating humor and love of life. In Wildflower, Drew shares with us the lessons she’s learned and hard-won wisdom she’s gained throughout her life, and more especially now as a mother. So grab Wildflower and read along! It’s a fun, light read, perfect for your last summer days at the pool or evening picnics! Follow along on Instagram @larsbookclub and tag your own photos with #larsbookclub.
Photo by Anna Killian | Lars Book Club is run by Julie Richardson
A new month means a new book! In our world today, we have the ability to view, enjoy, or seek out any flower we wish to beautify our homes or bestow as a gift. But these flowers didn’t always exist on our home shores, wherever that may be. They came from foreign lands near and far; they were discovered and dissected, revered and reproduced. Seven Flowers and How They Shaped our World by Jennifer Potter explores a handful of flowers that became religious icons, status symbols, metaphors for emotions and matters of the heart, and so much more. They infiltrated poetry and the arts, and even created financial frenzies! Read along as we discover the origins of the Lotus, Lily, Sunflower, Opium Poppy, Rose, Tulip, and Orchid. Jennifer Potter masterfully uncovers how these beautiful plants changed our world and what they tell us about ourselves. Find the book here and follow us on our @larsbookclub Instagram! We’ll post daily quotes or highlights from April Book Club, and we’d love to hear your thoughts!
Photography by Anna Killian | Lars Book Club is led by Julie Richardson
It’s mid-December, readers! Can you believe it? What do you think of The Crossroads of Should and Must? Did you read it in one sitting like me? 🙂 Has this been the last (or first) push in the right direction for you to accomplish a life-long dream? We hope so! Here are some questions to think on as you sip your hot chocolate or eggnog over the holidays, and check out this month’s printable quote and bookmark by Marisol Ortega!