Halloween Event!

As my bookish schedule changes, I’ll keep you in the loop. Next up – Studio Moonfall for Halloween!! Can’t wait to see you again – Kenosha! Various vendors for a special day of festive fun! If you haven’t visited this bookshop yet – it’s truly a place of creative delight!

More special announcements just around the bend – and they glitter and sparkle!

Stay Inspired!

Three More Festival Weekends…

Another magical weekend at The Quill and Brush at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Thank you to every visitor for such an amazing and supportive season!

I sincerely hope each and every one of you is enjoying your reading adventure!

3 more festival weekends yet ahead!

Keep bringing your smiles and all of your creative conversation! How you inspire me!

All of my best ~ Michelle

What I’ve Learned From Writing Books – #3

Dear Friends…5 more beautiful festival weekends yet to visit Bristol, and my little bookshop The Quill and Brush. If you haven’t stopped by so far, I hope you will for a bookish chat – and perhaps even leave with a fairy tale too!

But wherever you are and whatever you’re doing this summer – I hope you’re enjoying life and staying inspired!

Now onwards with our short series of what I’ve learned from writing books, which again, may be considered general thoughts for just about any craft!

#3

Arguably, the most important thing when writing a book, is the trust you must place on yourself.

What’s that mean? Well…

  1. If you think you’ll remember that great idea you had as you were falling asleep last night, no…you won’t. I’ve fumbled around in the dark more than once for a pencil and scribbled a note in the pitch. I tell you, whenever that thought enters your brain, write it down. Don’t trust yourself to remember, trust yourself to write it down.

2. If you think you’re going to recall to fix that sentence during edits later on, no…you won’t. Take a few moments to give that sentence a little love in the moment. Don’t trust yourself to remember to do it, trust yourself to make it your best, as you’re working.

3. Think that word seems like the correct spelling? That you can probably pass on by while you’re writing/editing? I wouldn’t. Check and make sure. Don’t trust 100% in your spelling skills, or that it’s probably correct. Trust in yourself to take the time to check the word. And that goes for the meaning of the word too. If you only knew how many times I was way off, when I thought I was right on.

4. Think you’re sure what history was really like, and you can paint your story with it and then call it true? Oh my goodness, it’s hilarious how many things I put down from my imagination, thinking it was historical. But they were really only theatrical ideas I’d gleaned from movies and reading. Not so much history at all. So, challenge yourself to find out the truth. It’s SO MUCH FUN!! Of course, you can write what you like in your book. You don’t have to be accurate. Have fun being outrageously incorrect if you like, because it’s your book. But if you dig something a bit more true to history (I often do), trust yourself to give some time to research and let go of your assumptions.

5. Trust yourself to read your work from different viewpoints, not just your own. How might someone, other than yourself feel, when reading your words? For example, I’d once phrased a paragraph that later made me reflect that it didn’t sound all that empowering for my young female character! And since my character might be an example to some young lady out there someday, I was quick to make edits. But it was only after I’d reviewed the words from a different view, that I’d even seen this. This isn’t an easy skill! We all come from our own voice and experiences. But trust yourself to give more time to reviewing your work, as another might.

I could keep coming up with examples on self-trust, but they are endless. So let’s just say this…

Each time I sit down to write, the most important thing is to trust that I have my own back. If I care up-front, what I produce in the end, is more likely to be what I was hoping for.

Thank you…

I just wanted to say thank you to each and every supporter of The Quill and Brush at Bristol, and to every reader. The positive reviews, the smiles, the wonderful conversations, the many new friends made. This has been an incredible season so far, and you can’t even imagine how thankful I am, for you.


My autumn writing bug is already biting. But it must wait! 5 more beautiful festival weekends still to come.

Stay Inspired, and all of my best.

What I’ve Learned From Writing Books – #2

Hello Dear Friends! All of my well wishes to you!!

I’ve been focused on preparing for the opening of The Quill and Brush’s 5th season at the Bristol Renaissance Faire for many weeks now. For such a simple little shop, you’d wonder what all takes so much time to prepare?! But let me tell you from experience, even the smallest of small businesses always has plenty to do!

Saturday I was up at Bristol with my folks, making sure all was prepped for opening day, July 10th. Man, those Bristol grounds are beautiful!

Yesterday, I tied up loose ends at home, including bringing out bins of costumes from storage. Hanging them up, I realized how real this all was. Just a few days more!

Who is ready for Bristol?! Rennies say hello in the comments!

But onwards with this mini series of posts about my experience writing books…

(Remember, I think much of these will apply to any creator.)

#2

Writing books takes guts and grit and nerves of steel. If you don’t have those, well, start pretending you do and don’t look back…

What do I mean by this?

First – Writing, editing, and completing a book alone, is very hard work. Hundreds of hours in solitude creating a single novel? Easily. You need to love it that much, and develop great patience. It will be more patience than you have, so just keep finding more. From where? I don’t know. Just do.

Two – You’ve got a lot of learning to do. Everyone does. Being a writer is a continual journey of development. And learning is often arduous and can mess with your confidence. Don’t let it. Just keep moving forward, just keep growing.

Three – What you write will never be as perfect as you want it to be. And I know I have an imagination that I can’t quite fit into a book. That’s hard to accept. But the important thing is whether or not you put your best into what you produce. And you know whether or not you did. Give your best, and you’re doing great!

Four – Giving your work to the world is provoking. That’s my nice way of saying, there’s a lot of emotions when a book is published. It’s exciting and I feel proud, yes. I can’t even describe how it feels to hold that first copy in your hands! But it’s also terrifying. Once you put it out there, it’s not yours anymore. A book has a life of its own for everyone who reads it. And that will bring out both scrutiny and praise, and other unexpected ripples. You must learn to embrace all of that. It’s scary, but beautiful.

Five – Writing books is lonely. But it has to be. It’s you – your mind – and the page. Of course, writing can be terribly exciting and entertaining! But it’s inherently a quiet endeavor. If your personality doesn’t like quiet and solitude (and even if it does), this can be a difficult part of writing.

Six – It’s possible you’ll do all the work, and yet not many people will read your book. Listen – the world is oversaturated with as many options in reading and entertainment, and other things to do. So this shouldn’t be a surprise. Rather, remember to write because you love to, and simply appreciate when others do pick up, read, and even go the extra mile of responding to, what you wrote. If you think of it this way, you’ll keep finding the rewards in writing.

If you’ve read this post, my guess is you love to create something, whether it’s a book, or otherwise. So here’s what I say to you. You just keep doing what you love, no matter what. Even if it’s small steps, or only for yourself, or just as time allows, or with its difficulties. It will always be worth it. And for those of you who have already reached the stars with your craft, keep going for the next universe!

Stay Inspired.

Sweets for Spring

My mom and stepdad were very kind, spoiling me with a colorful Easter basket this year. As it has been such a long strain due to the pandemic, a time filled with less pockets of joy, it was a real treat to receive something so thoughtful to celebrate the spring season with. My folks have always remembered me, and made me feel special. I’m very lucky.

We’d met halfway between our homes to exchange some items, and as I was about to drive out of the parking lot, the basket in my backseat, my mom reminded me not to look back at that basket while I was driving…

HA! She knows me well!

Distracted driving while texting?! Not me! Distracted while gazing at my Easter basket?! Probably!

I waited until I was settled in at home, and then had a blast unwrapping and photographing it…

Sweet treats heaven!!! What’s inside?!

Edible green apple flavored grass…

Because no Easter would be complete without it!

Camo beans…

Because of course!

Gummy bracelets?

So I can look pretty and have a snack!

Mint and chocolate…

The most delicious combination ever conceived by man.

Sugar free cookies?

Because I’m watching my sugar. Couldn’t you tell?

Will I ever be too old for an Easter basket, you ask? Umm…I write fairy tales. And would prance around in a pretty costume every day of my life if given the opportunity. And think glitter is a gift from the gods. And I like to use my imagination. And believe that Bigfoot is real. And unicorns? Probably extinct, but heck yea!!

So nope…I’ll never be too old for something magical!

Stay Inspired

It’s Time To Get Inspired!

Is it summer yet?

Heavens, I can’t wait for some sun on my face, on so many long and lovely outdoor walks. I can hear the Lake Michigan waves crashing as I giddily search for lake glass. And I can just see all of the tables of vegetable splendor at the farmers’ market. How I pine to throw open the windows to a beautiful breeze and cicadas on a summer’s night…

But back to reality. It’s only March.

But I’ve been thinking – and thinking very seriously – that it is time to get inspired. Like, down to business, inspired.

This is a pep talk to myself. And I’m making it public.

After losing myself in a Michelle-why-aren’t-you-working-on-your-projects? Where-has-all-of-your-drive-and-creativity-toddled-off-to? sort of void (the pandemic has played no small part – perhaps you can relate?) I think I’m finally getting my footing, and my goals back in line.

IT’S TIME TO GET INSPIRED!!!

First on the agenda – my mystery novel Still. New York City. A timeworn, venerated museum with many ancient displays…and shadowy corners to hide in…

Bwah-ha-ha!

I’m wrapping it up! With a dusty, creepy, page-turning ribbon. I can’t wait for you to read it. More soon…

Are you staying inspired? Don’t forget to take some time to dream, plan, and do, whatever it is you love.

Beauty Sleeping – Audio Chapters 1 – 2

Greetings Dear Readers! I hope you are staying inspired?!

Maybe I can help? Let’s throw some fairy dust!! You’re about to get glittered!!!

And chased by monsters

Ok – maybe the sparkle and beasts don’t make an appearance until after chapters 1 and 2. But since nothing inspires me more than an enchanted wood filled with ogres, maidens, witches, goblins, and terribly fierce dragons, I turned through a few pages to record the first two chapters of my Beauty Sleeping, just for you. This tale might be my most magical. A little eerie – yikes! But so, so, so romantic.

A story of eternal love.

Beauty Sleeping by Michelle Novak – The author’s reading of Chapter 1
Beauty Sleeping by Michelle Novak – The author’s reading of Chapter 2

Here’s wishing you, all the love and magic there is!

And forever, Stay Inspired.

If you would like to be a fairy godpatron to the authoress – please be sure to whirl your wand in the bookstore! Enjoy the adventure!

The Crazy Cat Lady House…

Hi Folks! How are you today? Staying inspired? I had planned to sleep in this morning, but instead woke up like a frisky autumn squirrel, ready to drink coffee, eat a blueberry muffin, clean everything, and write chapters. A few hours later, I’ve accomplished a few of those things…and I’m ready for a nap…

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I used to enjoy naps many years ago. Now, I don’t take them. If I do, I wake up not feeling so good. Does that happen to you?

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Today, I wanted to share something hilarious and delightful! Once upon a time, when I worked in a creative consultancy in Chicago, we had…well…creative competitions. The magic of working with artists and designers, is that they have some crazy talent making things. You never knew what they might come up with!

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For one of these internal events, it was decided that we should have a diorama competition. Now, I am no artist, and consider myself not at all able, in the way of arts and crafts. But I knew that I wanted to make a diorama. I loved making these things as a kid! The miniature setup in a shoebox?! What is better than that?

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The most awesome one as a child was a pyramid that you peeked into through a hole, a flashlight illuminating the innards. It was a mysterious tomb of treasures, and really sparked the imagination! I wish I still had that thing, but it fell apart three decades ago…

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To note…it sort of helped that I have a very artistic mother. Actually, it helped a lot. I begged for her help with anything to do with glitter, glue, drawing, painting, etc. You see, my brain doesn’t work that way folks. The idea of drawing is like trying to figure a complicated math equation. I can’t do it. And as an adult, nothing has changed…

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My mom was the true creative director behind my adult attempt at a diorama. I call it…The Crazy Cat Lady House. Please take a moment to admire this mini-house of mess and meows! Isn’t it awesome!

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Why did I aspire to make this house come to life? Because I’m a crazy cat lady in my heart, and always will be. I would love to own a house full of wily, frenzied, goofy, tussling cats. Only, I don’t like mess. So, I can only admire this scene from my diorama. I will never own a crazy cat lady house in real life. But I can imagine the joy of it…

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So how’d we do it? We took doll house pieces, tore them up, painted everything grubby, and made a merry mess with all the cats at play. We had a blast!

Did I place in the competition? Yup! Third. Quite impressive when you are going up against people who went to school to create! Thanks for your help, Mama!

It was so fun. It was inspiring. Life should be more about that…don’t you think?

My very best wishes to each and every one of you today! I’ll be working on my creepy new novel, Still, and keeping inspired. I wish you the same!

Welcome to The Hen House!

Hello All! I hope that you are keeping inspired?! Glad you’re reading today, because I’ve got a special treat for you!

I enjoyed another adventure in Milwaukee last Saturday, and it included a remarkable visit to The Hen House. No, there were no clucking chickens present. Only a room full of fabulous hats, alongside one accomplished milliner!

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Ms. Kate McLaughlin, founder and milliner extraordinaire, was there to greet guests to her hat shop with a welcoming smile…

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Unbeknownst to myself when first entering, I already knew the artist! Years ago when I was a part of the Guilde of St. George at Bristol, Kate was one of the talents contributing costume expertise, helping to make history come to life!

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“I know you!” I blurted when seeing her behind the counter. We soon made the connection, and I’m sure that neither of us could believe that that had already been two decades ago!

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I soon expressed something like, “I didn’t know you loved hats so much!”

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Kate had a delightful response. Something along the lines that hats had always been her cookie of costumery. Love it!

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The Hen House is so amazing, as it brings a wonderful tradition back into our current day. The days when you could walk into a specialty shop and have something custom-made…

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I didn’t spend enough time to really dig into that process, but judging by the antiquated head-forms covering one wall, Kate and her shop must best be considered one of Milwaukee’s gems…

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This is what we will title: The Wall of Millinery Wonder…

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I digress, but…isn’t this one lovely?

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When Kate shared a little bit of her story about how The Hen House came to be, I was really inspired. When sharing that her first custom hat order after opening had been for a going home, speaking so sweetly on that memory, the gloss was readying in my eyes. When she told of the hat-making events that are hosted in her shop (wouldn’t that be fun), I imagined such a merry party. And when Kate spoke about doing what she loves, I just wanted to nod my head and smile, thinking…

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That’s where it is. Right here in this shop. Through all the hard work, there’s real joy, when you find a way to do what you love. You are an example, Ms. McLaughlin, Master Milliner! Thank you for the wonderful introduction to The Hen House!

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Now, I must add, The Hen House connects to The Brass Rooster, the master hatter of which is Kate’s husband John. It was a room full of men’s hats that is a wonder all to itself, so I’ll save it for a future post. But let’s just say, whatever style of hat you seek, I believe you’ll need look no further than 2250 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in Milwaukee!