Tiny Houses

Nest House by Jonathan Avery

I confess. I have been a fan of the tiny house movement for at least a decade, and perhaps longer. I grew up in Germany where large living spaces just aren't normal, and even prosperous locations are often tight quarters. Every square foot (or should I say meter?) is creatively utilized, there is nothing useless, storage is kept to a minimum, and many items and rooms are multi-functional. 

No surprise that the van life would sound appealing to me as well. The same concepts apply, except the homeowner is much more mobile. I seriously considered going this route a few years ago.

And then my eyesight failed. That plan is now a no-go.

However, my planned novels with traveling characters are still very much in process, and everything I have learned can be adapted to a tiny house lifestyle. Oh, yes, that's definitely still on the agenda. In my wildest dreams, I would have more than one tiny house on my little rural acreage.

Did you know you could buy tiny houses on Amazon? They sell out fast, and units like this one are much less expensive than even a travel van. 

There are other creative options. You could convert a storage shed like this:

I would probably dive into a gazillion books and plan my own version. Then put Himself to work building one. Or maybe two. I can't quite imagine two polar opposites living together in such a tiny space, but that's another issue.

There are countless books published about designing tiny houses. Here are a few that interest me:

And there are so many more! I get excited just looking at the covers. 

How about you? Have you ever thought of living small? 

T is for Tarot

 Pamela Colman Smith: From Tarot Artist to Suffrage Activist - Lost Modernists

Henry Bell reads Tarot cards, and always does a reading for himself as well as reading the cards for others at Renaissance Festivals and other esoteric gatherings. Much to his chagrin, his frenemy love interest does too. Perhaps I'll have them BOTH seeking help from their cards about their mixed feelings about the other. That could be amusing! Foolish humans.

I've spent a good deal of time looking at Tarot cards after working my way through this book:

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But I would have Henry spring for a better, updated version of the original Rider-Waite deck. The printing of my first set leaves a lot to be desired. This Rider-Waite Radiant set is better:

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What about Fae Donovan, the heroine? I suspect she would go for something prettier, and perhaps even support a friend who designs Tarot cards. Here are a couple of choices:

Home - Kris Waldherr Art and Words: the official site of bestselling author Kris Waldherr (kriswaldherrbooks.com)

This one is a favorite of mine: 

It seems logical that a costumer would appreciate Art Nouveau clothing, yes?

T is also for other sorts of testing. I love to run my book characters through various kinds of analyses. Like this series of tests about Shadow Work:

My favorite will always be the Five Love Languages. It's fast, easy, fun, and really makes a writer think about their characters.

And I know all the astrological signs for my characters. Do you know your characters' birthdays? I do, and I make sure they act somewhat in line with astrological themes, even though I don't really believe strongly in astrology. No reason your hero can't be a little superstitious!

Next, I'll have a post about Tiny Houses - you get Two-fers for the letter T!


S is for Sewing

Fae Donovan is my heroine in the Cutting Edge mystery series, and she is a costumer in great demand across the United States. She loves her job and is quite comfortable in her perfectly planned and organized Mercedes Sprinter van in which she travels to various theaters and cosplay venues across the country. Her home/studio on wheels is magnificent in its organization and modern efficiency. She has all the amenities of a tiny home, with plenty of space to work and to store the tools of her trade. 

And lots of scissors. She always has plenty of good scissors. Isn't it handy and totally annoying to know that Henry Bell, that irritating man she keeps stumbling upon wherever she happens to be... that he, the wretch, sharpens her beloved scissors better than anyone... ever?

Side note: if you're looking for sewing shears, you can find them at Amazon. Like Fae, I prefer Ginghers because they are reliable and affordable, and also hold a sharp edge.

Fae has plenty of storage space under her travel van, so she carries a full-size sewing machine that she can set up at various theater locations. She is a Singer girl, like her mother and grandmother before her, and the pricing of Singer machines sits well with her Scot's blood. This one available on Amazon is quite affordable, and light enough to carry into work locations.

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Would Fae carry books with her? My guess is many of the reference manuals she uses would be available online or via eBook. But most craftspeople do have a few books that serve as professional bibles. Here are some that she keeps tucked under the seat of her travel van. 

Here is one essential:

And this one for pattern making:

This is her mother's copy and she carries it for good luck:

If you have sewing book favorites, by all means, tell me in the comments! I love costumes, but true confession and full disclosure: I hate to sew. How I ended up with a main character who does it for a living is clearly wishful thinking of epic proportions! 

R is for Reading

Artist: Laura LaCambra

My day begins with books, and it ends with books. But not necessarily ones made of paper. I do have plenty of those, and they line the walls in most of my rooms. But as my eyes have aged, I find reading on a Kindle is much more comfortable, and it eliminates the need to go to the library or bookstores, something that became a major issue during the COVID pandemic.

I don't know what I would do without my Kindle these days.  I am due to buy another one soon. If you are thinking about it, here's my Amazon Affiliate link, which I just set up! If it works okay, let me know in a comment. 

Most of the books I read, at least the first time, are reviewed via my state library's Overdrive feature. I can read eBooks for free on my Kindle, and most larger libraries carry tens of thousands of titles. 

I also subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, and for about $10/month, I have access to millions more books. I highly recommend signing up for this service and know that all the authors who have opted into this program receive royalties every time their books are read. 

My goal with my own Vella books is formatting them using Kindlepreneur, and then moving them into the Kindle Unlimited program. 

One of those future books will include a romantic suspense series about modern travelers living in their vans. Henry Bell is a tinker with a young daughter, a young American man of Romany descent, and his frenemy love interest is a costumer who travels the RenFest circuit. In fact, most of this blog is brainstorming for that book series. And, yes, it all begins at the beginning of the pandemic. You can bet they are using Kindles for their reading and research! Like most folks in the first year of the pandemic, they will have a lot of time on their hands, and reading will help fill a void. 

Have you continued reading more since the slow-down of COVID? I still don't go to the library much, and because I am trying to downsize to a van life size, I am buying fewer paper books, and even giving up my own beloved collectibles. 

And research - right now it's all about van life and tiny houses. There is so much terrific information online about that, as well as groups. But more about that in a future post.


Q is for Quick

Getting up to speed on any new venture can be challenging and time-consuming. I have three days to gear up for the Amazon Prime summer sale via my new Amazon Affiliate account. Where to start, where to start?

I decided to ask AI, my favorite being Google Bard, which is like regular Google on steroids. Here is the rapid-fire response to my query. 

Well then. At least now I have a game plan! Onward, ho!


P is for Personality

 Running your characters through personality tests. Do you?

Finally, A Personality Quiz Backed By Science | FiveThirtyEight

I also like to check astrological compatibility. I don't really believe in it, but I suspect at least one of my main characters would. I don't want to get too involved with astrology because it's such an involved and huge study. Too much work for this writer.


Credit: Nebula | Facebook

I think I've mentioned before that I like the Five Love Languages to get a handle on what my characters are really like. Here's the link to give it a try! There are various quizzes. Think about each of your mains and then run them through a quiz. Learn anything new about them? Leave us a comment if you came up with some surprises. 

And, finally, when it comes right down to it, I discover personality details and quirks in the actual writing. Sometimes those characters can surprise you! It's especially true if they misbehave, and that's bound to happen when there is a lot of stress. Oh, yeah, I don't think the pandemic brought out the best in people all the time. 

Tough times for an enemies-to-lovers romance.

P is also for Promotion, and as an indie writer, I am always looking for new ways to get the word out about my books. I haven't ever tried promoting products that relate to my stories, but as I plan this new series, I think about all the "stuff" my characters will be using. Not only for a van life, but for anyone (like me) downsizing their lives and moving to smaller accommodations. To that end, I have joined the Amazon Associates Program just in time for Prime Days. Please be sure to tell me if you like my recommendations!

Now to test an affiliate link. How about for the best computers to travel with? Best Computer for Travel Let's see what Amazon recommends.