What do 2 Dogs, 1 Blackbird and Sewing Have in Common?
Answer: Jamie Ferguson
So, who is Jamie Ferguson? For starters, she’s a fellow seamstress and blogger. The dogs, Maisie and Jasper, are her sewing companions. According to Jamie, the blackbird escaped from a pie and became a publishing company. Huh??? OK, OK, Jamie tells stories sometimes. It’s what she really likes to do. Jamie recently published her first novel; With Perfect Clarity.
Jamie, like many of us, juggles her time between a career and things she really enjoys doing. For Jamie this includes sewing, blogging, caring for her dogs and writing short stories and novels.
I’ve invited Jamie to share a bit about herself and her new novel. Further, she tells me she’s already working on her next novel, again in between all the rest of her endeavors.
Goose Mother: Jamie, congratulations! I feel honored to be able to share in the excitement and I am anxiously anticipating the arrival of my personal copy of the book and being able to read it. When we first met, which was through our enjoyment of sewing, I had no idea you were working on a novel.
Jamie Ferguson: Thank you!!! Launching my book has been a lot of fun. It started as a short story I wrote in 2003. I realized it was a much longer story, and spent the next 9 years working on it off and on, so it’s been a long time in the making.
Goose Mother: The brief overview of the book: “Emma remembers her death with perfect clarity. Brutally murdered in Colorado in the late 1800s, she haunts the house of her death, unable to leave its walls even after the building burns down. In present day 2003, a video store occupies the original site. Emma spends her days watching movies and the living until she meets Ashley, a ghost who remembers nothing about her own recent death. To help Ashley, Emma must relive her own long-ago murder, which she discovers she does not remember with perfect clarity after all.“
So, is it safe to assume this is sort of a ghost story, who-done-it type mystery?
Jamie Ferguson: Not exactly. There is a mystery, but it’s more of a suspense story. I like to dig into my characters, so I put them into challenging situations and focus on what they’re thinking and feeling. The story is told from Emma’s view, so I worked hard to describe her thoughts and her feelings while the two girls attempt to understand and then solve Ashley’s problem.
Goose Mother: My understanding is that you also started your own publishing company recently. That truly sounds like a large undertaking.
Jamie Ferguson: (she laughs) That was the easiest part of the entire publication process! I self-published this book, so the publishing company is just an LLC. An artist friend created the publishing logo, which I love.
Goose Mother: I noticed that Amazon offers your book, With Perfect Clarity, for sale. Personally, I prefer hard copy as I spend lots of time on computers. Can the book be obtained for reading on Kindle or other methods?
Jamie Ferguson: Yes, it’s available on Kindle , Nook, (Barnes & Noble), through the iBookstore , and Kobo. (For friends in the UK; Amazon)
Goose Mother: Now, anyone who writes is aware of just how time consuming writing can be. How do you balance out your time between work, your personal life, writing, blogging, sewing, the care and keeping of two dogs?
Jamie Ferguson: Not well! I’m trying to save most of my weekend time for writing, and as many evenings during the week as possible. My husband and I take turns taking the dogs hiking every morning, so an extra plus is that having them around means I get regular exercise whether I want to or not. I’d have more writing time if I didn’t have the dogs, but I wouldn’t be nearly as happy.
Goose Mother: Wow, that looks like a storybook picture. I agree with you there. Our pets/companions can be time consuming, but they often add immense joy in our lives and are often good teachers as well. Maisie and Jasper appear happy as well with the relationship. However, you do spend a lot of time writing.
Jamie Ferguson: I’m certainly trying to! It’s definitely a challenge, though. I compare it to exercise. When you’re in great shape and are working out all the time, making time to exercise is easy. When you’re just getting started, it is not easy at all. At the end of 2012, I decided that I was going to focus on writing and writing-related activities no matter what, and I worked hard to make time on as many days as possible. It’s definitely easier now, which is great because I’m often so busy that without this momentum I would surely just collapse on the couch at the end of the day. I recently had a day at work where I attended ten meetings, and after that it’s hard to summon the energy for writing…but I did it. (She flashes me a smile of self-satisfaction)
Goose Mother: OK, but beside working on a novel, you publish two separate blogs. Are you merely writing as an exercise, or as an alternative to employ a different writing style, or simply because you enjoy writing?
Jamie Ferguson: One blog is for writing, and the other is for sewing/crafts. When I find an author I like, I often look to see if they have a blog or website, so my original intent was to create the kind of blog that I like to find as a reader. After I picked up sewing again I started reading other sewing blogs and really enjoyed seeing what other people have made, reading about their experiences with a pattern or technique, etc. So last summer I thought – why not have a sewing blog too? I enjoy both blogs, in different ways.
Goose Mother: Do you sew to take your mind off writing or just because it’s another facet of creativity you enjoy?
Jamie Ferguson: My mother taught me how to sew and crochet when I was quite young, and she always encouraged crafts, so making things has been a part of my life from the start. My sisters and I made our prom dresses – with help from our mom, especially with mine because we got behind schedule and ended up cutting plastic hangers into strips because we’d forgotten to buy boning. After college I developed repetitive stress issues so severe I couldn’t type, much less sew, for three years, so that put an end to a lot of things for a while.
Last year I was very busy between work and my novel, and I ran across a vintage sewing pattern online. I hadn’t sewn in years, but decided that making a dress from a vintage pattern would be my “reward” for sending my manuscript to my editor. I had no idea that I would rekindle my love of sewing and crafts, and I certainly didn’t know that I was about to start collecting vintage sewing patterns!
Here’s me in my latest creation and the pattern. It’s from 1964. I just love vintage patterns – the women in the drawings always look so happy!
Sewing turned out to be more than a fun reward for finishing the novel. It’s become a very welcome respite from all the time I spend at a computer. I always want to be doing something, and sewing allows me to scratch that itch and take a break from the computer.
The other thing I didn’t expect was that I’d fall in love with a sewing machine from 1961, and end up with not one but two! Here are my beloved Singer Slant-O-Matic 500 Rocketeers.
Goose Mother: Nice! Have you had the opportunity to use them yet?
Jamie Ferguson: No…I think I’m stalling because they’re just so pretty. It seems almost wrong to use them. But sooner or later my curiosity will compel me to try them out.
Goose Mother: I’ve learned you are embarking on a second novel already. Where are you at with regard to that endeavor?
Jamie Ferguson: I’m working on chapter two right now. I have an outline for the whole book, and know the details through chapter 5, then things get a bit fuzzier. And, of course, what I “know” could change. One of the things I love about writing is how a story can morph while you’re typing it. Years ago I thought through a short story, decided the protagonist was a young woman in her early twenties, then wrote the first line…and realized she was a 12-year-old girl. I had no idea that was going to happen, but it changed the story for the better.
I have a mini-short story collection coming out in June or July, depending on when the cover is finalized, so that will be my next publication.
Goose Mother: Ahhh, so I have another book to look forward to then. Your sewing companions, Maisie and Jasper; are they curious about your sewing or do they realize that this will be some quiet time? Any amusing stories there?
Jamie Ferguson: We’ve only had Jasper for a few months, so he’s still curious about everything. Last weekend I realized I shouldn’t turn my back if the iron was on the ironing board because he was sniffing everything and could very easily have knocked it off. Even if it wasn’t turned on, it could do a lot of damage. So far Jasper seems to think of sewing time as time to investigate things, but he’ll get used to it soon enough. Maisie usually naps while I sew or write. And, of course, when they’ve had enough of rest time, we all take a break and play ball.
I did have some help from Jasper when I was making dog toys a while back. I was braiding strips of fleece, and he either realized it was for him or he just really likes fleece. He kept trying to tug on the unbraided ends. Needless to say, he was not a huge help…but he loves his toys!
Goose Mother: Both Maisie and Jasper are friendly and good-natured dogs. I find that to be indicative of what they are surrounded with. However, you recently sort of rescued Jasper from a precarious situation. He seems to have made a smooth transition into your care, plus Maisie has a new friend. Was it all so smooth and trouble-free?
Jamie Ferguson: Surprisingly, it was a very easy transition. We adopted Jasper from the Nebraska Border Collie Rescue group in January; a good friend and I made the 8 hour drive to Omaha based on his photos and a discussion with his foster home. We got very lucky with him – he’s the sweetest, nicest little guy ever. And Maisie loves him, which is the most important part of all.
Goose Mother: Thank you, Jamie, for sharing yourself with us. Again, congratulations and best wishes with your new novel. I encourage the readers here to visit Jamie’s blogs and consider obtaining a copy of With Perfect Clarity. Jamie Ferguson can be reached at raspberrylemonade.net.