Interview with Dena Dale Crain

Published 2019-11-25.
What are you working on next?
I have several more online quilt classes I want to publish on the Academy of Quilting. Most of them are classes I taught for Quilt University or QuiltEd Online, but there are a few surprises coming!

New ebooks I write follow the same themes as my online quilt classes, but each one is a properly formatted ebook, not merely a copy of the online lessons.

My best recommendation is that you sign up for one of my online quilt classes and also buy the ebook. That’s the best way to gain insight into all the material covered in the ebook, experience firsthand my interpersonal teaching skills, and retain the information for your lifetime as a quilter.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I love what I'm doing! I have greatly enjoyed quilting, first as a hobby and then as a business. Changing circumstances in my personal life have given me an opportunity now to focus on writing and publishing the outcome of more than twenty years as an online and international quilt teacher, author and designer. It is rewarding to see my work in print, yes, but even more so to know that by publishing my work I leave a legacy for quilters to enjoy for generations to come.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I love reading on my iPhone! It is with me most of the time, it's small and easy to handle, and it helps me use my time wisely. When stuck in traffic or waiting for an appointment, even catching a bite of lunch by myself when in town for shopping and errands, I can open an ebook on my smartphone and read away the time! I also like the way it makes the reading process seem to go more quickly. I can almost speed-read because the viewing screen is so small it lets me grasp the content more readily.
Describe your desk
Hah! My desk at present is a family heirloom, a roll-top desk given to my husband's grandfather! There's a chair that has always been with the desk, and the chair has a brass plaque on it carrying a congratulatory message on his marriage and dated August 21, 1899. It's still a beautiful set of furniture, and it has received the use and abuse of many generations of our family!

My MacBook Pro sits comfortably inside the desk, which lives in our sitting room. During the day, I'm at the heart of the household, so I know everything that goes on and can attend to any matter needing my attention. At the end of the day I can roll the top down and hide any clutter, although there's seldom any clutter to hide.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a suburb of Covington, a little community development called Taylor Mill, in the three-county area known amongst locals as Northern Kentucky. My mother began teaching me to read and write as soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil; she had a terrific influence on me as both reader and author.

I remember well our weekly trips to the Kenton County Library, then located in the Carnegie Library, funded in part by Andrew Carnegie:

"The roots of the Kenton County Public Library can be traced back to 1899 as several distinguished citizens of Covington, Kentucky, convened to discuss the need for a public library for its citizens. In 1901 a newly appointed library Board passed rules that declared there be free library service to every man, woman, and child in Covington, making the Covington Library one of the first in the south to provide racially integrated service. With a $75,000 contribution from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie the new Carnegie Library opened on March 16, 1904, to the citizens of Covington" —this from the History of the Kenton County Public Library.

The Carnegie Library was a beautiful building built as a rotunda with interior balcony around the second floor rooms looking down through the center to the first floor librarian's work area and countertops. Heavy woodwork, a silent atmosphere, and the familiar faces of the librarians upstairs and down made visiting the library a magical time in my childhood.

From children's books, I grew up reading almost every science fiction book in that library, along with my share of romance novels, histories and biographies. It was a special time that continued until I discovered the stacks in university libraries. I still visit the Kenton County Public Library and usually the Campbell County Public Library, both in Kentucky, every time I visit the US. I’m also a frequent user of Kentucky Libraries Online with the help of OverDrive. Having access to free ebooks and audiobooks in this way has been a godsend to one living “in the bush” in Africa!
When did you first start writing?
Ohh! When I was about three years old when my family first moved to Covington, Kentucky from Gallipolis, Ohio, where I was born. Of course, when I entered public school, my writing and reading increased. I continued writing, enjoying it all along until I had a pre-university summer session at the University of Kentucky.

I enrolled in a writing course there that showed me what I did NOT know about writing! That provoked a shock that I carried with me all my life, struggling always to express myself well and to avoid most common errors in grammar and spelling.

Teaching patchwork quilting classes online for Quilt University forced me to write professionally. The classes were text-based, illustrated with photos and sketches. I had to learn how to write for online consumption while discovering that HTML is a language all its own!

When Quilt University closed in 2013, and I decided to move my online art quilt classes to a new home of my choice, it was necessary to revise, reorganize, restructure and edit my current online quilt classes. I always knew they could be made better than they were for Quilt University, but Internet limitations and the technical issues involved in doing such editing were prohibitive. Entering a new home, there was time to clean up and improve each online class in turn.

Over the years, I have learned much about writing. I still have a long way to go, but I'm getting there!
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest ebook is Math for Quilters. I think of it as being a kind of bible for patchwork quilters, the one quilting manual every quilter should own and keep readily at hand. The information in Math for Quilters is useful for all patchwork quilters, especially if they want to do anything beyond merely following someone else’s instructions. It includes chapters about how to understand and scale quilt blocks up or down, how to manage on-point settings, how to plan and design entire quilts right down to the amount of fabric needed for the binding, and how to figure costs and set prices for the quilts you make. If you do not have any other patchwork quilt book, this is THE ONE for you!!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Great question; thanks for asking!

I live in Kenya, 200 miles north of Nairobi, about as far-removed the patchwork quilt publishing industry as anyone can get!

Why would an American publisher want to publish an author who lives in Kenya? I think that is not likely to happen when there are so many fine quilting minds available to them locally.

Conventional publishers expect authors to promote and sell their books. Many quilt teachers carry boxes of their books with them to the classrooms in which they teach. As an online quilt teacher, I did not have a way to sell hard-copy books directly to my students. I travel internationally, but who wants the hassle, added expense, and increased carbon footprint of having to carry heavy books with them through international flight travel?

Then, there were the problems of storage. Hard copy books are mainly cellulosic, and who loves to eat cellulose? African termites!

Publishing ebooks is definitely the answer for anybody who shares my circumstances: outside the mainstream publishing world, eager to be heard and appreciated, capable of handling the technical issues of computers and the Internet, and full of good ideas and new perspectives. I encourage anyone who wants to write professionally to give ebooks, and especially Smashwords, a try!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I first published a small ebook three years ago, How to Make a Mosquito Net from Fully Illustrated Instructions. The ebook grew out of a previously free tutorial on my website. I did not write the ebook because I knew it would be a best-seller; I wrote it to gain the experience and confidence of successfully publishing ANY ebook!

Much to my great surprise, it worked! Following Smashword's carefully formulated instructions and guides, I managed to write the ebook, format it correctly, add illustrations and upload it for publishing. You can imagine my delight when the ebook was afforded Premium status on Smashwords, meaning that it would appear on all Smashwords retailer sites including Apple, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes&Noble and so many other fine sites!

Ok, so only a few copies sold, but then, I never really promoted that initial ebook. I merely put it "out there" for others to find. If a copy sold, that was an unexpected bonus.

Now, however, I have both the tools and the skills to write and publish an ebook. That knowledge, in itself, makes me feel pretty successful and that’s a lovely feeling!
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design is, for me, a fun new challenge. Trained as a designer, I can apply my design skills to anything I set my mind to, and designing a book cover is only one such project. There are challenges, of course, but that's an enjoyable part of the job. I get to play with fonts, colors, spacing, contrasts, imagery--all visual arts. Consequently, I design all my ebook covers myself. I think it pays to take such chances!
What are you working on next?
I have several more online quilt classes I want to publish on Academy of Quilting. Most of them are classes I taught for Quilt University or QuiltEd Online, but there are a few surprises coming!

New ebooks follow the same themes as my online quilt classes, but each one is a properly formatted ebook, not merely a copy of the lessons online. My best recommendation is that you should sign up for one of my online quilt classes and also buy the ebook. That’s the best way to gain insight into all the material covered in the ebook, experience firsthand my personal teaching skills, and retain the information for your lifetime as a quilter.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I love what I'm doing! I have greatly enjoyed quilting, first as a hobby and then as a business. Changing circumstances in my personal life have given me an opportunity now to focus on writing and publishing the outcome of more than twenty years as an online and international quilt teacher, author and designer. It is rewarding to see my work in print, yes, but even more so to know that by publishing my work I leave a legacy for quilters to enjoy for generations to come.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Funny--I love reading on my iPhone! It is with me most of the time, it's small and easy to handle, and it helps me use my time wisely. When stuck in traffic or waiting for an appointment, even catching a bite of lunch by myself when in town for shopping and errands, I can open an ebook on my smartphone and read away the time! I also like the way it makes the reading process seem to go more quickly. I can almost speed-read because the viewing screen is so small it lets me grasp the content more readily.
Describe your desk.
Hah! My desk at present is a family heirloom, a roll-top desk given to my husband's grandfather! There's a chair that has always been with the desk, and the chair has a brass plaque on it carrying a congratulatory message on his marriage and dated August 21, 1899. It's still a beautiful set of furniture, and it has received the use and abuse of many generations of our family!

My MacBook Pro sits comfortably inside the desk, which lives in our sitting room. During the day, I'm at the heart of the household, so I know everything that goes on and can attend to any matter needing my attention. At the end of the day, I can roll the top down and hide any clutter, although there's seldom any clutter to hide.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a suburb of Covington, a little community development called Taylor Mill, in the three-county area known amongst locals as "Northern" Kentucky. My mother began teaching me to read and write as soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil; she had a terrific influence on me as both reader and author.

I remember well our weekly trips to the Kenton County Library, then located in the Carnegie Library, funded in part by Andrew Carnegie:

"The roots of the Kenton County Public Library can be traced back to 1899 as several distinguished citizens of Covington, Kentucky, convened to discuss the need for a public library for its citizens. In 1901 a newly appointed Library Board passed rules that declared there be free library service to every man, woman, and child in Covington, making the Covington Library one of the first in the south to provide racially integrated service. With a $75,000 contribution from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the new Carnegie Library opened on March 16, 1904, to the citizens of Covington" —this from the History of the Kenton County Public Library.
What are you working on next?
I have several more online quilt classes I want to publish on the Academy of Quilting. Most of them are classes I taught for Quilt University or QuiltEd Online, but a few surprises are coming!

New ebooks follow the same themes as my online quilt classes, but each one is a properly formatted ebook, not merely a copy of the lessons online. My best recommendation is that you should sign up for one of my online quilt classes and also buy the ebook. That’s the best way to gain insight into all the material covered in the ebook, experience firsthand my teaching skills, and retain the information for your lifetime as a quilter.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Books by This Author

Math for Quilters
Price: $9.99 $4.00 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 48,790. Language: English. Published: November 25, 2019. Categories: Nonfiction » Home & Garden » Crafts & Hobbies
Control design and improve the results of patchwork quilting as you master the mathematics of basic algebra, fractions, decimals, geometry, and scale. Learn to design, plan, layout, cost and price your original quilts with increased confidence. Chock full of information, illustrations and examples, Math for Quilters covers all aspects of patchwork quilting. Includes FAQ and printable pdf tables.
Structured Fabrics: Checks, Plaids and Stripes
Price: $4.99 $2.00 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 30,970. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Home & Garden » Crafts & Hobbies, Nonfiction » Art, Architecture, Photography » Crafts - Needlework General
In this clever and fun art quilt ebook, Structured Fabrics: Checks, Stripes and Plaids, explore a creative way to give new life to previously unused fabrics, scraps and embellishments in your stash. Fast sewing, with a thoughtful eye to color and value, moves the work along quickly and successfully. Make ATCs, wearables, accessories or one-off works of art—the designs and choices are up to you!
Sudoku Quilts
Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 6,480. Language: English. Published: August 16, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Home & Garden » Crafts & Hobbies, Nonfiction » Home & Garden » Crafts & Hobbies
Did you know that Sudoku puzzles can be used to design lovely patchwork quilts? This brief e-book, Sudoku Quilts, explains how basic Sudoku puzzles can be converted into designs and plans for patchwork quilts to suit any occasion. It's all here: straightforward instructions to become a patchwork quilt designer literally overnight!
Designer Pinwheels, Art Quilts with a Twist
Price: $4.99 $2.00 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 34,750. Language: English. Published: September 13, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Home & Garden » Crafts & Hobbies
Designer Pinwheels are based on four-fold rotation of a tessellated right triangle. This e-book simplifies designing and piecing even the most difficult quilt patterns. Learn why and how to piece without unnecessary seams for beautiful results. Learn why, when and how to use embellishments to enhance the designs. Master some fun-to-do techniques, and create original Designer Pinwheels of your own!
Bind Quilts by Machine
Price: $4.99 $2.00 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 21,080. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Home & Garden » Crafts & Hobbies
Bind Quilts by Machine offers patchwork quilters three easy methods to apply quilt bindings by machine: Fuss-Free, Seamless and Double-Fold Bindings. It also shows how to add Perfect Piping to bindings, borders, even patchwork. Finally, the book demystifies mock bindings, bagging, facing and raw edges for quilts. Bind Quilts by Machine is sure to become every patchwork quilter's handbook!
How to Make a Mosquito Net From Fully Illustrated Instructions
You set the price! Words: 7,700. Language: English. Published: January 13, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Diseases, Nonfiction » Home & Garden » Crafts & Hobbies
General discussion about malaria, the disease's treatment and its prevention, followed by complete instructions, illustrated with sketches and photographs, for sewing a recommended mosquito net made from cotton sheeting and nylon tulle, written by an experienced textile specialist and a twenty-year veteran of life in Africa.