Two Fun Bracelets, Too Much Fun


Some of the fantastic bracelets made by students in my class.

We had another fabulous day at Glass Stock.  I started the day teaching a class I called  (not very creatively,) “Two Fun Bracelets,” in which we made, uh, two fun bracelets. One of the bracelets, called Ephemera, is a black stretchy cuff made of a series of small frames. You add pictures to each tiny frame before placing lenses on top of each image. I was impressed with the bracelets that my students made and am inspired to make more of my own jewelry in this style. That’s one of the best things about teaching—I am inspired by the work of my students, and learn at least as much from them as they learn from me.


Two Fun Bracelets class

The other bracelet I showed my students was called the Sprout. It looks a little like a furry beaded caterpillar. The students and I had fun choosing the perfect whimsical color combinations of seed beads that complemented the colors in their handmade glass beads which are part of the clasp for their pieces.

Today was the last day of classes. It’s been an exhausting experience here at Glass Stock.  I admit that I took a short nap in the car this afternoon, after I realized that I couldn’t focus anymore and found myself falling asleep during one of the classes I was really looking forward to taking.  Forutnately, after my brief snooze, I was able to come back to class and finish my project.

In yesterday’s post IIMG_0021 mentioned that I’d hit one of my glass beads with a hammer and shattered it while trying to complete a ring.  I finally had a chance to finish that piece and I love it! Here’s an image of my silver ring in aqua and transparent green, and Jennifer’s in orange and lime green.

One of the final events of the day included a drawing for each other’s beads.  I won a fantastic sea horse sculpture made by Donna Prunkard.  It was my lucky night!  I alsIMG_0022o won a beautiful paperweight, but we’re not sure who made it. I’m hoping we’ll be able to solve that mystery before we leave tomorrow.  Wait a second—tomorrow! So soon? Glass Stock—it’s been too much fun, but it’s time to return to reality

Riveted Rings, Felted Flowers, and Wacky Hats


Felicia is teaching us how to make a ring by riveting a handmade glass bead to a silver ring blank.

My second day at Glass Stock started with a class on creating silver rings with glass beads riveted on them, taught by the talented Felicia Warnik. I made some great progress on my rings, but sadly broke one of the beads while hammering on it to set a rivet. Glass beads and hammers do not mix. After crushing that bead, I didn’t have much time to regroup, and will have to work to finish my rings at another time this weekend. I promise to post pics just as soon as I have something to show for all my hard work, other than a pile of rubble.


In the afternoon it was my turn to lead a class about making felted flowers.  We abandoned the windy outdoor area at Cornerstone Glass, where Glass Stock is taking place, and headed to our gorgeous rental house, for a few hours of creativity with wool and beads, while sitting at a stylish dining room table, instead of in a tent in the parking lot. My students and I had fun turning long fluffy pieces of wool into flat coaster-size disks of felt. We rubbed the wool vigorously inside plastic water-filled baggies, then sculpted and embellished the felt into flower shapes. We added pin backs to create perfect little boutonnieres, and had lots of time to play and experiment.

No trip to Eugene is complete with some good local beer and food truck grub.  We headed over to Oakshire Brewery for a pretty damn good pilsner and a pizza from the food truck parked outside the pub, before wandering back for the evening’s Glass Stock events.


Jodie McDougall and David Houpt sporting their cool Alice in Wonderland hats…and David went all-out with the full Alice costume.

It was time for the hat contest. I created a hat, a crown, actually, covered in large red heart-shaped glass beads that I had made. It wasn’t bad, but being a newbie, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. It turns out, I should have had a whole costume to go along with the hat. I have tons of costumes and could have had fun pulling something together…perhaps a feather boa, a tiara, and a big pink satin dress…

Like they say, “What happens at Glass Stock, stays at Glass Stock.” Or something like that.  I’ll leave it to you to imagine what else happened tonight, because I’m not telling.


Glass Stock: Stump Suckers and Straight Lines


Jodie McDougall and I tag-teaming a mini-paperweight. I’m pre-heating the flower components while Jodie melts the clear glass.

I started my first day at Glass Stock with a class led by Jodie McDougall who was teaching how to create a mini glass paperweight. We started by making some small flower petals out of glass, and assembling them into a flower. Then we placed the little flower in a vacuum chamber, called a Stump Sucker.  (If you know the inventor, Loren Stump, this makes sense.)  Now things get tricky.  While you are heating the clear glass in a torch that will encapsulate your flower, someone else takes a torch and pre-heats your little flower.  Then you drop the molten glass onto your flower setup while sucking the air out of the vacuum chamber with a rubber hose (yes, you do suck).  It’s tag-team glass working at its finest.


JC Herrell with glass guru Bob Snodgrass. He’s helping her by gripping her arms tightly and jokingly as he tries to guide her.

In the afternoon, I took a class with JC Herrell, who has magic in her hands.  She can make a perfectly straight line in molten glass on a bead.  Heck, I can’t even make a straight line of ink on a piece of paper.  But, I was a trooper—we all were—and by the end of class all of us had made some beads with lines on them.  My lines were a little wonky, but I certainly made progress in using this technique.

I ended the evening by giving a demo on how to make an ancient mask bead and watched a demo on how to make a go
rgeous drinking glass with a geometric flower design in the base.

IMG_0013It’s getting late, and tomorrow is another day full of fun and learning.  I promise another missive from the wild world of glass in Eugene very soon.

On Our Way to Glass Stock


The first night of Glass Stock in Eugene

My beadmaking buddy Jennifer and I spent the last two days wending our way to Eugene, Oregon for an event called “Glass Stock”—several days of classes about melting glass, making beads, using turbo-charged torches, and yes, a little partying.

We spent last night in Ashland and saw a show called “Head Over Heels,” a Shakespearean-style play set to the music of the Go-Go’s.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Watch this space for a review of that show.  I promise to write one.  It will not be pretty.

We find ourselves now in Eugene, tired after a long schlepp and a little shoe shopping in downtown Ashland earlier in the day. We arrived just as the sky opened up and dumped rain on our heads—big, fat drops coming down hard.  I’d forgotten what it’s like to have so much rain fall. We don’t have that happen very often in California.  At all. Ever.

Tonight was the start of Glass Stock, with a kickoff meeting and the first of several days and nights of flame working fun. I hugged many of my beadmaking friends who I don’t get to see often enough, and met some new folks too.  We’re staying in a lovely rental house for this long weekend, and it’s bound to be fun, as it appears there is a trickster among us who left a rubber lizard under my pillow.

I’ll be back soon, as soon as I can turn off the torch and squeeze in some time on my laptop.

My Beads on the Cover of HIGH STRUNG

High Strung Final Cover Booktrope

High Strung’s New Cover

The release of the second edition of High Strung, A Glass Bead Mystery is just around the corner. In case you missed it, here’s the new cover. I’m elated with the book’s bright and shiny new look. When I was working with my cover designer, Booktrope’s Greg Simanson, I sent him a picture of glass beads I had made so he could understand what I was talking about when I said I wanted lampworked beads on the cover of the book.

Here’s the image that I sent him. These are beads that I made back in the 1990s. They look quite different from what I make today, that’s for sure. When I saw the cover Greg had created, I was blown away—there they were, perfect renderings of my beads, on the cover of the book!

bead strand 2What’s up next in the world of the Glass Bead Mystery series? The new edition of High Strung will be out on September 14, at all major online retailers in both ebook and paperback formats. I don’t have a link for the book yet, but when I do, I’ll be sure to post it. Meanwhile, I’m working hard on the next book in the series. It’s called A Bead in the Hand. We are shooting for a launch date of sometime in November, just in time for holiday gift giving. Stay tuned for details!

One last thing: I’m having another Facebook Party! If you didn’t make it to the last one (which was smashing success, by the way), then you’ll need to stop in for this one. I’ll have a ton of swag to give away, you don’t want to miss it. The High Strung Launch Party is on Sunday Sept 13 from 10AM to 6PM Pacific time. Here’s the link…let us know that you’re coming.

High Strung Gets a New Cover


This is the old High Strung cover…Are you ready for the new one? I am!

I’m retiring the old “High Strung, A Glass Bead Mystery” book cover this week. And while I’m sad to see it go, I’m excited to take the next step on my journey as a writer. Two years ago when I embarked on the adventure of publishing my first book, I had very few resources. A cover designer? I didn’t have one, so I hired a recent art school grad to create a cover. It was an oil painting, and it was perfect. The book is a murder mystery, and the cover conveyed exactly what I was looking for—a noose made of handmade glass beads. I have a image of that painting above my desk that I look at every day. It’s a terrific cover, but it’s time to let it go.

My book will soon be re-published by Booktrope, and my life as a self-published author will come to an end, at least for now. One thing that had to go when I signed on with this publisher was the old book cover. The new cover—oh, this new cover—I’m thrilled with it. And I’ve accepted that it’s time to move on. Out with the old, in with the new! That is my mantra these days.

On Sunday August 2nd I’ll be revealing the new cover of “High Strung,” and saying good-bye to the old cover of the painted noose on the blue background, but I expect I’ll keep the poster of my very first book above my desk for a long time to come.

Join me online at on Sunday August 2nd from 3Pm to 6Pm Pacific time. I’ll be revealing the new cover, playing games, and giving away lots of prizes.

We’d love to know that you’ll be attending. Visit this link and simply click the GOING button.

Let’s party!

Forging Connections and Celebrating Community

mini apronsI returned from a week in Albuquerque a few days ago. Exhausted. Happy. And with a pocket full of new glass beads. I was there for a weekend conference, and this year I stretched it into a whole week of activities, dinners with friends, shopping, and classes. I was in New Mexico for an event called The Gathering and this year’s theme was Forging Connections :: Celebrating Community. Indeed, I certainly forged new connections – between myself and others – and I celebrated the community of beadmakers.

The Gathering is an opportunity for glass bead makers from all over the world to come together for a weekend of education, and yes, a lot of fun. We usually have around 300 people at the conference. That represents a small fraction of the glass beadmakers in the world. At The Gathering members of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers (ISGB) learn from each other constantly; not just in the large ballroom where bead and jewelry artists speak about their work and give demonstrations.

One terrific thing about the ISGB, its members, and The Gatherings is that people share their knowledge. In the past, and still today in many artistic circles, communication about techniques and teaching, even informally, is limited. But, at the beadmakers’ conference, knowledge is shared gladly. I learned, for instance, about a cool new kind of jewelry that allows the wearer to snap glass cabochons on and off of a leather bracelet in a nearly-endless array of decorative combinations. I’m excited to make some of these glass cabochons now that I’m home, and to get a new bracelet to play with. Who knows where this idea will lead?

Over the years, the people I have met at the Gatherings have become my friends. Although I may see them only once a year, these friendships are precious to me. Seeing someone you care about on Facebook is fine, but there is nothing, absolutely nothing, better than a warm hug in person from a friend. A mojito with a friend is pretty good, too.

I’ve been a member of the ISGB for 22 years. In just a few years, that will be more than half my life—such a crazy thought, that this organization has been an ongoing part my life for so long. While I’ve been involved in other organizations over the years, this had been the one organization that I have been involved in continuously, and the members of the ISGB – they are my peeps. (Ah, Peeps, that is a story for another day).

And the photo? We’re modeling our new mini-aprons, which are a fantastic way to keep things handy when you are selling your work at a bead bazaar. A talented glass bead maker named Stephanie Sersich ( created them and brought them to The Gathering for us. I love my apron…oh, and that’s me second from the right.

Am I grateful to the ISGB? Yes. Grateful for the friends I’ve made at the annual Gatherings. YES.

I hear next year we’ll all meet again in New Orleans. I can’t wait.

Lessons from a Broody Hen


Buffy the broody hen.

This is Buffy. We didn’t name her after a vampire slayer, but instead, she’s named for her breed— a Buff Orpington. Buffy is broody. That means she insists on sitting on her nest for weeks at a time, never leaving for a minute, unless we shove her, rather unceremoniously, off the assortment of eggs beneath her. She’s trying to hatch some eggs, and she is absolutely set on achieving that goal.

I’ve learned a few things from Buffy. The first is that when you have a job to do, you need to have stubborn determination and patience. I’ve been trying to follow Buffy’s lead. I’ve got to sit here on my nest—actually at my desk—and do what I’m supposed to do, with unwavering focus. Buffy does not wander off and do other things that might be more fun. For Buffy, that might be scratching around in the yard looking for tender morsels, for me, that might be shopping for shoes at or sitting on the back deck soaking up the sun.

I’m sure Buffy suffers by not eating or drinking while brooding. For me, though, I find that I spend too much time eating and drinking (not alcohol, I swear) to keep myself amused when the job of writing gets tedious—also known as editing. Sitting at my desk with a single task is hard work. It’s easy to be lured away by social media, by on-line Scrabble, by just about anything. Doing a job well requires patience and termination. Buffy has it. I’m getting better at it.

Broody, of course, means more than sitting on eggs for endless days. Buffy does not look happy; she looks grumpy, if that is possible for a chicken. We’ve all seen brooding artists and authors, sitting pensively, no matter where they are, thinking deeply and determinedly about their creative work. It’s not really my style, but I do get grumpy from all that sitting staring at words on the screen. And I’m not good at being isolated. But Buffy has the right idea: sit there and do your job, and do it until its done. And suffer, if you must.

Buffy sits on those eggs, but sadly, they will never hatch. You see, we don’t have a rooster, so those non-fertile eggs will just sit there beneath her forever, never hatching into chicks. She holds on too long hoping that if she just sticks to it, her eggs will hatch. And I’ve fallen victim to that mentality as well. I’ve sat on my manuscript (figuratively, of course I’m not Buffy in that way) not wanting anyone to see it. I’ve waited and waited until it was perfect before I’d give it to my review team. I found that by waiting to show it to people is not a good plan.  At some point I must realize that its time to let this manuscript go, to let it out into the world so that it can live and breath. The only way that I can hatch a novel is to let other people read it.

I’m learning that the only way to move forward is to get off the nest and let my baby fly. For Buffy, she’ll eventually get off her nest, tired and hungry, having realized, finally, that her eggs are duds. She’ll go back to scratching around in the pen. And me? I’ll pick up my pen and start writing. Again.

The Serendipitous Path to a Publisher (Part 2)

booktrope-logoThis is Part 2…If you’re reading this blog post and haven’t read Part 1, you can find it here:

I was standing outside the Women’s Building at the Pitch-o-Rama, armed with my manuscript, business cards, and a look of grim determination. Okay, maybe not that grim, but determined, nonetheless. I’d done my research; I knew which agents and publishers I wanted to pitch my book to.  I thought this event would be good practice—I could learn to talk about my book in a clear, concise, and exciting way—even if I didn’t find an agent or publisher. I’d self-published “High Strung, A Glass Bead Mystery” in 2014. It had sold well and had received many 5-star reviews. I didn’t need to find a publisher today, I could continue to self-publish. But still, did I want a “real” publisher? Yes, I did.

One of the leaders for the day explained the rules to a few dozen authors in the room: You may enter a queue to speak with an agent or publisher when the bell rings. Once it is your turn, you have seven (short!) minutes to speak with the person on the other side of the table. Once the bell rings you must leave the table and move to another line. No pushing, no shoving. (I might have made that last part up.)

When the first bell rang all the authors queued up to meet their first agent/publisher.  The line for the person I wanted to pitch to was long. The longer I stood there, the more nervous I got.

I can do this.

When it was finally my turn, I gave my best pitch to the publisher across from me.  As soon as I told her that my book had been self-published she stopped me and said she was not interested. I left the table before my time was up, realizing there was no need to continue if the answer was a definite NO. The second and third publisher representatives said they loved the story idea, but immediately told me that they were not interested in my book when they heard that I’d published it myself. Rejection. Big time rejection.

During a break I stood talking with another author and told her that pitching had not gone well for me.  She pointed to a woman across the room. “You should go see with Julia —she was previously self-published and now she’s being published by Booktrope.”

I talked with Booktrope author Julia Park Tracey and she told me about the positive experiences she had working with Booktrope. She encouraged me to submit my manuscript to her publisher. That night I sat at my computer on the Booktrope web site filling out forms and uploading my manuscript.  Then I closed my eyes, and clicked the Submit button. I didn’t expect to hear anything from Booktrope, feeling dejected after my failed pitching session.

A month later I received an exciting email from Booktrope. My book had been accepted for publication! What amazing news to find in my inbox squeezed between all the junk mail that arrives each day. I was thrilled, and I must admit, nervous to sign on with a publisher— a “real” publisher, and me, a “real” author. The serendipitous path to a publisher started when my friend told me to just “breath the air,” and in the end, through a series of twists and turns, I found my way.

Booktrope will be re-publishing my first book “High Strung, A Glass Bead Mystery” with a release planned for September. And, they’ll be publishing future books in the Glass Bead Mystery series.

These days, I’m not going it alone. I’ve got a Booktrope team, and we’re working to make great books together.

We can do this.

The Serendipitous Path to a Publisher (Part 1)

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I now have a publisher! Booktrope will be re-issuing “High Strung, A Glass Bead Mystery” and publishing new books in the Glass Bead Mystery series. And while this is exciting news, at least for me, the story behind how I ended up with a publisher is the stuff that good tales are made of: fear, dumb luck, bravery, and ultimately, a happy ending.

In January I sat in a cafe drinking coffee with my friend Kim. The San Francisco Writers Conference was coming up in a month and I told Kim I was thinking about going, but that I was nervous about it.  I was worried that I was not a real writer, even though I had self-published a book the previous year, and that I wasn’t professional enough to attend a conference for authors.  I hadn’t been writing for long and was worried that someone would find out that I was an impostor or that I’d embarrass myself by being such a newbie.

Kim told me to go and just “breathe the air” at the conference. She encouraged me by saying that I didn’t need to do anything but be there and absorb what information I could.  The next day I sat at my computer, shut my eyes, and I clicked the Submit button on the registration form for the conference. I was going.  And I was nervous.

A month later I stood outside the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, ready to dive in.

I can do this.

I had arrived ridiculously early, so I sat in the lobby chatting with a couple from out of town, giving them sightseeing advice. When it was time for the first session, I filed into a large conference room with the rest of the attendees. The first thing that the moderator did was ask anyone who had brought a book with them that they had written to hold it above their head. I held up my empty hand and told to the moderator in my strongest voice that I had sold the book I brought to the tourists in the lobby.  Maybe the weekend was going to be okay after all.

I hadn’t signed up to do the the Pitch-a-Thon, that was over-the-top intimidating to me. For the uninitiated, a pitch-o-thon is like speed-dating with agents and publishers, instead of potential mates. Authors move from table to table pitching their story in 4 minute segments with the hope that an agent or publisher will be interested in seeing a full manuscript. The prospect of pitching my book scared the hell out of me, so instead I went and sat on a bench in the park across from the hotel, soaking in the sun during the pitching session. I had breathed enough conference air for the day.

Janice with High Strung manuscript

Here I am at the San Francisco Writers Conference with my manuscript. Note the nervous smile.

In the final hours of the conference, I sat at a round table in a ballroom with many other attendees. I’d learned a lot about book marketing and I’d found other new authors like me who were there to learn and to meet people who had a love of words, books, and stories. I was feeling good. Maybe I wasn’t an impostor after all.

There was a raffle and I won a prize—a free pass to go to a Pitch-o-Rama hosted by the Women’s National Book Association in San Francisco. Ugh! Of all the prizes, this was the one that I didn’t want. I was going to have to pitch my book to publishers and agents.  And I was scared as hell all over again.

Emboldened by my success at the writers conference, I decided I would go and pitch.

I can do this.

Here’s Part 2: