Kathy Cano-Murillo is an author and artist. Her crafts have been carried by hundreds of retailers including Bloomingdales, Target, and Hallmark. She is a former entertainment reporter for The Arizona Republic and the author of seven books including Crafty Chica’s Guide to Artful Sewing. She is the founder of the popular website, CraftyChica.com, meant to inspire women to brighten their lives with clever craft ideas. In addition, Murillo has a web series on LifetimeTV.com, and can be seen on HGTV and DIY Network.
Thanks for the interview, Kathy! Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it?
Waking Up in the Land of Glitter is inspired by my life as a working artist and crafter. I think a lot of people think crafts is a cute hobby, but really there are so many endearing, funny and even heartbreaking stories behind why people decide to craft. It’s very emotional! I know because I’ve been experienced it! I wanted to write a book that showed the behind the scenes of how three different women perceive one popular, long-standing craft material: glitter. I used it as a metaphor for how they perceive their own lives, family, and careers.
Are you a full-time writer or do you have another job?
I’m a full-time everything! By day I’m a national spokesperson and senior new product developer for iLoveToCreate, a craft manufacturing company. I also run my Crafty Chica site, blog, make projects for magazines, write articles, and I’m also a mom and wife too! I write at night time after everyone is in bed.
How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
The first draft – I just wrote whatever came to mind, however I did have a minimal outline to follow. After acquisition, I sat down with my editor, we set out all the pages and decided what needed to go, and what needed to be added. It was all about rounding out the story so the characters would come to life. I learned to zero in on what moves the story forward and dump the rest.
Do you use index cards to plot your book?
For this novel, I used everything – index cards, huge storyboards, art journals, etc. I just finished my second novel and for that one, nothing fancy. Just two outlines (short and expanded). Much easier!
How long did it take you to write the book?
It was such a long journey! I wrote the first draft for National Novel Writing Month in November, 2004. At that time, I didn’t know anything about writing a novel, I just wrote and had fun sharing a story. I edited it and submitted to my agent the next summer, he shot it down with a fleet of highly critical arrows! I gave up. The next spring I was invited to teach a shrine-making workshop at a Latina writer’s conference and I became so motivated to pull out that manuscript and try again. It finally sold to Grand Central Publishing in July 2007, but that was after two more revisions, plus one more after acquisition. I didn’t mind it at all, I feel like the story came out much tighter!
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Not really. I always have doubts about everything I do and I make myself push through the block, otherwise nothing will come through! And then I’m so glad I did. But I do have a hard time starting new chapters. What I do is set my timer for 15 minutes and just write. That helps me get over my doubts and forces me to break though.
What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?
Taking action! I also like to journal ideas before I start on a project. I brainstorm a list of options and then choose the one that seems the most unexpected.
What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you? Share with us some writing tips!
Blogging is a big part of promotion. I’ve been blogging since 2003. I feel like the people who follow my blog know my ups and downs and feel for me when I make it over certain hurdles. I blog about the bad as well as the good, so people know we are all capable of reaching our dreams if we keep trying.
Do you think a critique group is essential for a writer?
I think it is a great way to get going. The first chapter I ever wrote was for my writing group. My turn came up and I had to have something! It’s a great way to learn and receive honest feedback!
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
– Sure! CraftyChica.com, it has all kinds of creativity articles, a writing site, a store, and my blog!
Do you have another novel on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
I just finished writing my second novel, “Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing”. It is about a 29-year-old engineering graduate who decides to put her designated career on hold to try and fulfill her dream to become a fashion designer.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
Keep the publishing industry alive by buying and reading books. If you truly want to turn people on to your favorite books – don’t lend books, blog about them so people will go buy books! Get involved with sites like Good Reads and Shelfari, share your voice. If you want to write a book, think about blogging as a way to get your juices flowing and to experiment with different types of writing. Most of all, enjoy the experience!