Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pinteresting Fall Crafts

In preparing to write my newest short story for the HOLIDAYS WITH JANE: TRICK OR SWEET collection, I wasted hours browsing Pinterest researched fall crafts that Emma could make for the Fall Ball fundraiser. There are a few that would certaininly be regarded as "Pinterest fails" if I tried to accomplish them in a short amount of time with a small budget. (I mean, really, who can afford to make some of these crafts?!) are a few things that I was able to make using either 1.) items I already own OR 2.) inexpensive items from the dollar store.

I saved some glass soda bottles because I'm that girl who saves glass bottles for *possible* future craft projects. (It drives my husband batty but I remind him that we're saving money!) ;-)  I saw this very cute craft idea using glass bottles and spray paint.

Pinterest Inspiration:

Melissa's Creation:

So...I didn't look at the reference pic before I spray painted. And I don't eat candy corn so I forgot what the color design was. Grrr. It's fine. Really. What I learned: Possibly try out different shades of orange and yellow?

I also save old pickle jars, jam jars, etc. for craft projects. I had this candle jar from the dollar store. I spray painted the outside with "pumpkin orange" and wrapped raffia around the top. I stitched a few fake autumn leaves together and then hot glued the bundle to the raffia. *Be sure to glue the leaves and the twine away from the top edge of the jar!* You don't want it to catch on fire, right? (That would surely be the end to my crafting days, guys.)

Melissa's Creation:

I'm pretty happy with how this turned out. :)

In "Emma Ever After", Emma "borrows" Knightley's drill and makes some cute centerpieces.

Pinterest Inspiration:

Melissa's Creation:
IT DIDN"T HAPPEN. Crafting fail, guys. Lack of time on this project. Maybe I can get a few more hours in my day? Please?

HOLIDAYS WITH JANE: TRICK OR SWEET published by Indie Jane Press is available now for Kindle reader/app and will be soon available in paperback. 

We're also hosting a blog hop! Here's your clue for the blog hop giveaway: AUTUMN LEAVES

See the rest of the blog hop schedule at 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Halloween Costumes FTW!

published by Indie Jane Press is available now for Kindle reader/app and will be soon available in paperback.

Halloween costumes

When I was young, my mom made the costumes for my brother, my sister, and me. I distinctly remember the bunny costume I wore for kindergarten.

I *kinda* knew how to sew as a kid and teenager but didn’t really know how to machine sew well until I was pregnant with my oldest son. My mom taught me how to sew and I’ve made many, many items since then. Some of my favorite (and most difficult items) were Halloween costumes! Here are a few of my favorites.

Little shepherd boy for VBS

Jack Sparrow! This is one of my favorite costumes that I’ve made. My son was totally in love with pirates for years. He wore his Halloween costume for his birthday party. This is his pirate birthday party at age 5. The buttonholes on the vest, though... I might have cried making them. No joke. (And that pirate ship cake. Hours of labor.)

The whole piratey family at C’s birthday party.

I’ve assembled costumes for parties with items from thrift stores over the years. I have a blog post on my Austenesque ball gown I made from a thrift store dress. 

Costuming for “Alice in Wonderland” at the school I teach at. I made the Queen of Hearts costume last year.

A Queen Elsa costume for my niece. This was made WITHOUT a pattern because I’m crazy. (And they didn’t make the pattern for it until about 2 weeks after I finished the dress.)

Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan

Superhero Day!

My boys have learned how to machine sew from me. They made costumes for a cosplay costume hosted by the Fullerton Public Library last year. They loved it so much that they did it again this summer.

What are some of your favorite costumes that you have made or worn?

Collect the clues and enter our giveaway at Indie Jane!

Clue: What was my Halloween costume when I was in kindergarten?

See the rest of the blog hop schedule at

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Writing Tips

I have a friend who recently asked me for some writing tips that I wished someone had told me when I started writing. Here's what I sent back to him. What do you think? Agree? What are some tips that you would pass on to a new writer?

So...thoughts on being a writer...

-I wish someone had told me how many drafts go into writing a story. There's the first draft and you rejoice that it's done! And then you read it and wish someone had told you what a terrible writer you are. A friend talks you off the ledge and then you revise and rework the story. You re-read this second draft. It's not so awful. Maybe you can still save it. Seven drafts later, you're pretty happy with the story you've written. Writing is an act of passion. Editing is an act of patience. 

-Not everything you write will be published. And that's okay. I've heard of people who have never shown anyone their first attempts at novel writing. 

-Make sure to have a support group of readers/editors that will tell you the truth. It's a great thing to have friends to encourage you and listen to your plot twists and character shenanigans.

-Write a story that you want to read. If you don't, you'll hate it each time you read through it. But don't write something so precious that any attempts to change it / edit it will lead to you self-combusting.

-Write what you know. This is a tried and true fact. If you don't know about xyz, it will show on the page and the reader will know that you don't know what you're talking about. Pause the writing, research the time period / clothing / weapons / readings of mass spectrometers, and then continue writing with confidence.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Austen Tea at Mysterious Galaxy

I happily hosted an Austen inspired tea party at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore on June 27. It was so much fun! We ate scones, drank tea, and talked about Jane, her books, pop culture, reading, and many other topics. It's wonderful to get out and meet other Austen fans.

Thank you to Maryelizabeth at Mysterious Galaxy for allowing this to happen and to all of the JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) friends who came out to the tea. I hope you enjoy your copies of HOLIDAYS WITH JANE: SPRING FEVER.

Available online now!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Free Kindle Book!

The first book in my YA fantasy trilogy, THE SEVENTH BLESSING, is now *free* on for a short time! Hurry on over and pick it up. And, you know, read it. Love it. Tell your friends about it. All that good stuff. <3

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Book 3 in The Tales of Gymandrol series

Hi friends!
I'm happy to say that all of my YA fantasy books are now available on Kindle, including the 3rd book in the series, THE CURSED BLESSING. Here's a bit about it!

Can a rebel princess break the curse before it breaks her? 

As the youngest daughter of King Edric and Queen Chrissy of Lagola, Holly’s blessing ceremony is anything but ordinary. Her blessing—or curse—condemned her to keep her word or otherwise face dire consequences. The result forced her to grow up as an honest, forthright girl, making her an anomaly with courtly life. 
Now sixteen, Holly would rather spend her time camping, pulling pranks, and perfecting her archery skills with her brothers instead of dressing up and attending royal balls. In hopes of changing Holly into more of a lady, King Edric takes both Holly and her brother, Rowan, to visit the neighboring country of Shald for Prince Donovan’s birthday celebration. But things go awry when Holly disguises herself and enters the archery tournament Prince Donovan has hosted in order to determine the top ten archers for his dangerous quest to save his kidnapped sister. Holly ranks within the top ten and because of her cursed blessing, she is forced keep her word by joining Prince Donovan, Rowan, and a crew of other worthy gentleman on a treacherous quest to seek the missing princess. 
But upon gathering leads for Prince Donovan’s missing sister, Holly and the crew stumble upon dark happenings that threaten the peace in the north of Shald. Holly must find a way to cope with her growing feelings toward Prince Donovan, unravel the darker mystery of the north, and, perhaps, seek to save not only a princess, but an entire country. 

Full of adventure, romance, and magic, THE CURSED BLESSING is the final installment in Melissa Buell’s Tales of Gymandrol trilogy. 

And all of The Tales of Gymandrol are available on Kindle for only 99cents!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

HWJ: Weddings!

I love, love, love weddings! I've helped out with quite a few wedding for family and friends. Here are some of my favorite things about the most recent wedding that I helped out with. I drew inspiration from the location for my short story "Whine and Wineries" that is in Holidays With Jane: Spring Fever.

Special request wedding cake - Irish Cream Wedding Cake!

Similar to Elinor in my story, I love helping with weddings. Like Marianne, I love taking photographs. Like Meg, I love baking cupcakes. I split up bits of me into my characters. A wee sprinkling of Melissa. ;-)

Enjoy an excerpt from my story...

Elinor gaped at the hive of activity on the green space in front of the winery the next morning. Marianne jogged in place next to her.
            “Let’s go, Ellie,” Marianne urged, stretching her arms out. “I want to get this run in before it gets too hot.”
            “It never gets too hot here,” Elinor replied, her eyes focused on the people streaming in and out of the main building. “Didn’t you hear what Cousin Jack said last night at dinner? That’s what makes it such an excellent place to grow wine grapes.”
            “Hello, girls!” Jack’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Jennings, called from the double doors into the tasting room. “Come on up here!”
            “No, Ellie,” Marianne groaned. “Didn’t we get enough of her last night?”
            Elinor ignored her sister and joined Mrs. Jennings. She took in the sight of the tasting room overflowing with buckets of flowers, yards of tulle, and rows of candleholders.
            “Is this the wedding you mentioned last night?” Elinor asked Mrs. Jennings.
            Mrs. Jennings’ eyes glittered. “Yes, isn’t it going to be amazing?” Her face darkened. “Now if my wedding coordinator, Winnie, would only show up, that would be fantastic.”
            “I can help you until she gets here,” Elinor found herself saying. She felt Marianne pinch her arm and she winced. “And Marianne will be happy to help me.”
            “You girls are lifesavers!” Mrs. Jennings exclaimed, clasping them to her ample bosom. “Winnie was in charge of the flower arrangements and the decorations. Her husband is the photographer so we were able to book it as a package for the bride and groom. Oh, I see the catering truck has just arrived. I have to go meet them and tell them to use the elevator at the basement level by the Cave.”
            She bustled away as Marianne scowled at her sister. “Why, Ellie? You don’t have to save everyone, you know. We were all set for a run and then getting settled in the house.”
            “Just think of the bride, Marianne,” Elinor insisted. “That poor girl will show up here soon and see all of this. How would you feel?”
            “We’ve never done a wedding before,” Marianne protested.
            “We have helped Mom with enough Junior League luncheons, Ladies’ Teas, and Christmas parties to know what to do. And don’t forget all the wedding shows Rosa would watch while she was cooking. We can do this. We owe this to Cousin Jack for his hospitality to us. And it would make Mom happy,” Elinor added.
            “Fine,” Marianne grumbled as she lifted a handful of tulle from the tasting counter. “But you owe me.”

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sense and Sensibility Film Adaptations

Holidays With Jane: Spring Fever!
Anticipated release date: 3/18
From Indie Jane Press

The story that I adapted into a modern tale was Jane Austen's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.
I've read this book five or six times. (Maybe more?) It's one of my favorites and for good reason. STRONG characters! I love the stark contrast between Elinor's sense (reason) and Marianne's sensibility (feeling). There are many film adaptations of S&S. My favorite for years was the Emma Thompson version (it won her an Oscar for best adapted screenplay). Several reasons this version is fantastic can be explained in gifs.

Alan Rickman, Hugh Laurie, Hugh Grant. All in one movie. Awesomeness.

I just watched the new S&S produced by BBC as a TV mini-series in 2008.

I *loved* the casting in this series, for the most part. Namely, Edward Ferrars. Willoughby looks very devious in this adaptation and it's not very believable that Marianne would fall for him. She would want a romantic guy, not a bad boy. Now Edward, on the other hand, is the perfect romantic hero.

What version is your favorite? Or do you like a completely different adaptation of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY?

Hop on over to my fellow authors' sites all week to see what Austenesque films they love!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Holidays With Jane: Spring Fever

Winter’s almost over and Jane Austen’s got a case of spring fever! The authors who brought you Holidays With Jane: Christmas Cheer return to bring you six modern retellings of Austen’s classics. So put up your parasols and prepare for sunshine, smiles, and, of course, happily ever afters.
Anticipated release date: 3/17
“Extra Innings” – A Persuasion Story
by Jessica Grey
Annie Elliot still regrets breaking off her engagement to minor league baseball player Rick Wentworth ten years ago. Now he’s back in town coaching the team she works for and stirring up feelings she’d rather forget. Will Rick and Annie get a chance to hit a walk-off home run or will they strike out in Extra Innings?
“Miracle at the Abbey” – A Northanger Abbey Story
by Cecilia Gray
Kathia, paranormal investigator extraordinaire, is out to prove her hometown Abbey is a bona fide miracle site—even if its sexy owner-slash-handyman Henry is dead set against it. Kathia and Henry square off and settle the score that’s been brewing since high school in this contemporary Easter retelling that ends with a Miracle at the Abbey.
“Whine and Wineries” – A Sense and Sensibility Story
By Melissa Buell
After their father dies, the Dashwood girls must make room for their half-brother John and his wife Franny in their Hollywood Hills home. When Franny’s brother Edward shows up unexpectedly, Elinor finds a new friend.But any dreams of something more are crushed when the girls have to move far away to Barton Winery. There Elinor begins her new life as a wedding coordinator. Her first challenge? Bridezilla Anne Steele’s spring wedding. When Anne’s sister Lucy reveals a secret that changes everything, Elinor must sort through the lies to find the truth of her feelings and hope for her future.
“Emma’s Inbox” – An Emma Story
By Rebecca M. Fleming
Emma Woodhouse keeps her finger on the pulse of Hartfield, Georgia through a series of texts and emails full of hometown gossip and romantic intrigue. In Hartfield, nothing ever changes: people fall in love (sometimeswith a little help from her), get married, and life goes on in the same comfortable way. But when hometown favorite Frank Churchill returns unexpectedly, the whole town develops a case of spring fever. Though a master at maneuvering the love lives of those around her, Emma finds she needs some advice of her own—and her family and friends are happy to fill her inbox with all the help she needs.
“No Vacancy at Mansfield Motel” – A Mansfield Park Story
by Kimberly Truesdale
Fanny Price runs Mansfield Motel, the family business in sunny South Florida, mostly on her own. But she dreams of following in her Uncle Thomas’s footsteps and becoming a marine biologist. She plans to talk to her cousin Eddie about her dreams when he comes home for Spring Break. But when he brings along Henry and Mary Crawford, trouble starts to brew. Fanny watches her precious future begin to slip away. With everything on the line, will Fanny finally speak up for herself? Or will she be stuck running Mansfield Motel for the rest of her life?
“Lydia Reimagined” – A Pride and Prejudice Story
by Jennifer Becton
When reformed party girl Lydia Bennet receives an invitation to her ex George Wickham’s destination wedding, she accepts with the intention of showing him exactly what he gave up when he dumped her. But no amount determination can change Wickham’s view of Lydia, especially not when circumstances conspire to make her look even more like a party girl than ever. And then there’s her sudden attraction to old college friend Kyle “Denny” Dennison…. Now that Lydia has reimagined her whole life, will she be able to forget the past and open her heart to the future?
All of the authors are SO excited to share these stories with you! If you are a reader / reviewer and would like a digital copy to review, please follow the link below to a Google form.