Interview with Dena Dale Crain

What are you working on next?
Designer Pinwheels, Art Quilts with a Twist! This new e-book teaches quilters how to design and make their own, original, quilt designs--much easier than most people think.

A Designer Pinwheel uses four-fold rotation of a tessellated right triangle to make a square quilt design, suitable for a medallion quilt center, one of many panels in a larger quilt, or simply as a gorgeous stand-alone wall hanging or lap quilt. Designs can be as simple or as complex as you like. The e-book includes full instructions for making ANY Designer Pinwheel you can design. These methods are tried and true, guaranteed to work if you apply a little effort and patience. Designer Pinwheels are glorious; they're worth the extra output!

Luxurious and beautiful Designer Pinwheels quilts are within the range of every quilter's grasp, made particularly special because each quilter both designs and makes her own unique quilt top compositions.

Designer Pinwheels, Art Quilts with a Twist, is available now for pre-order from Apple, Kobo and Barnes and Nobel. Expected release date is September 13, 2015.
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.

Besides, I have a few more design ideas for new quilts, and a couple of new online classes I need to write and publish, so I really need to get my e-books done and out of the way!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Funny--I love reading on my smartphone! It is with me most of the time, it's small and easy to handle, and it helps me utilize 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 Kindle 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 day I can roll the top down and hide any clutter, although there's seldom any clutter to hide. I prefer to work on a clean, clear surface, consistent with time management tips I published on QuiltEd Online:
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's had a terrific influence on me as both reader and author.

I remember very 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 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!
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 better to express myself 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, quickly 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 e-book is Bind Quilts by Machine. Years ago, I wanted not to sew quilt bindings by hand. I developed a method I called Fuss-Free Binding. It's fuss-free because it requires no pinning. You simply cut and sew quilt binding strips together, sew them to one side of the quilt, then close the ends, roll the binding over to the other side of the quilt and sew it down by machine. Well, it's not quite that straightforward; the method has a few little secrets, but this is enough to encourage readers to buy the e-book!

Fuss-Free Quilt Binding mastered, I wondered about the seams that show up in most quilt bindings, whether they were necessary or might be eliminated. Making one little quilt with a silk charmeuse binding was enough to force me to develop a method for Seamless Quilt Binding. Seamless Quilt Binding goes on just like Fuss-Free Quilt Binding, but there are no visible joins between lengths of binding strips. These seams lie within each mitered corner.

More recently, I began to challenge the belief that double-fold bindings could only be finished by hand. If Fuss-Free and Seamless Quilt Bindings could be finished by machine, why couldn't double-fold quilt bindings be handled in the same way. Surprise! They can!

These three methods for applying and finishing quilt bindings entirely by machine form the core of Bind Quilts by Machine. Added to that major body of information are tips on how to square a quilt before stacking it, how to bind a quilt before quilting it, and how to add Perfect Piping as a lovely color accent to any border, binding or even patchwork piecing!

To round out the e-book, I added sections of discussion about four other machine-sewn methods for quilt finishing: mock bindings, bagging a quilt, facing a quilt and finishing a quilt with stitched raw edges. Altogether, the methods in this e-book, Bind Quilts by Machine, should ensure that no quilter has to finish a quilt binding with hand-sewing!
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? Not likely to happen, I think, when there are so many fine quilting minds available to them in their own country, perhaps even in their own state!

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 and added expense of having to carry heavy books with me 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!

No--publishing e-books 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. I encourage anyone who wants to write professionally to give e-books, and especially Smashwords, a try!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I first published a small e-book three years ago, How to Make a Mosquito Net from Fully Illustrated Instructions. The e-book grew out of a previously free tutorial on my blog, Dena Crain: Artist/Teacher in Kenya at I did not write the e-book because I knew it would be a best-seller; I wrote it to gain the experience and confidence of successfully publishing ANY e-book!

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

Ok, so only a few copies sold, but then, I never really promoted that initial e-book. 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 any e-book--mine or perhaps those of another author! That knowledge, in itself, makes me feel pretty successful!
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. Why wouldn't I enjoy designing a book cover?!
Published 2015-06-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Structured Fabrics: Checks, Plaids and Stripes
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 30,500. 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 USD. Words: 6,000. 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: $9.99 USD. Words: 34,380. 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: $6.99 USD. Words: 20,610. 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
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 7,240. 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.