The Quilting Life on the Written Page, as read to you by award-winning author Frances O'Roark Dowell (Birds in the Air, Margaret Goes Modern, Dovey Coe, Shooting the Moon). In Season One, Friendship Album, 1933, tells a heart-warming story of strangers brought together by quilting and made into family. In Season Two, Dowell reads Aunt Jane of Kentucky by Eliza Calvert Hall. First published in 1907 and set in rural western Kentucky in the late nineteenth century, the book recounts an elderly quilt-maker Aunt Jane’s memories of life in the rural south as told to an unnamed younger woman visitor. The book was hugely popular in its time, reaching over a million readers, and President Theodore Roosevelt was one of Aunt Jane’s biggest fans.
A Conversation with (and a Short Story by) Marianne Fons
Several years ago, I picked up a used copy of the late, great journal, Quilt Digest, published and edited by Roderick Kiracoffe and Michael Kile. To my surprise, this particular issue (Issue 3, published in 1985) contained a short story by Marianne Fons. I had no idea that along with being a famous quilter, Marianne was also a writer!
Fast forward to -- oh, I don’t know. 2018, maybe? One day, out of the blue, Marianne Fons emailed me. After years of backburnering her writing life, she was back at it. She’d come across my book Birds in the Air and was curious who my agent was. With that email, a correspondence and eventually a friendship was born.
So when I started thinking about what -- and whose -- stories I wanted to read on the Quilt Fiction podcast, Marianne came immediately to mind. I emailed her for permission to read her story from that long ago issue of Quilt Digest, and she graciously gave her permission. Not only that -- she agreed to be interviewed for today’s episode!
One of the reasons I love talking to Marianne about writing is because she’s so passionate about it. If you want to know more about Marianne’s life story, and more about her quilting story, here’s a link to an interview I did with her in 2020 for the Quilt Alliance’s Story Bee show. If you’re not familiar with the Quilt Alliance, it’s a nonprofit organization that serves to document quilters and their stories. You can visit the Quilt Alliance by clicking on this link.
Visit Marianne’s website to read her blog and stay up to date with what she’s reading and quilting. While you’re there, sign up for her email newsletter! Check out Marianne’s pride and joy, the Iowa Quilt Museum.
Marianne took a year-long workshop at StoryStudio Chicago. Both in-person and online writing classes are available.
Remember: It’s not too late to sign up for Quilt Fiction’s first ever QAL! For more info, follow this link!
(Photo by AZUREE WIITALA https://www.azureewiitala.com
Magic Fabric, Quilts... and Love - 'Persimmon Moon: A Quilting Story"
Host Frances O'Roark Dowell reads her short story, "Persimmon Moon," and discusses the importance of world-building to fiction writers. Plus, a special giveaway for February over at QuiltFiction.com.
Chapters from a new, contemporary Milton Falls story
Spring has arrived and to celebrate all things new, we’re sharing the first three chapters of my new quilting novel Diary of a Mad Quilter on today’s episode. Normally, only paid members of the Quilt Fiction Story Guild have access to this story (they are already on Chapter Six), but we’re excited about the new story and thought you might be too.
Set in contemporary Milton Falls, Ohio, Diary of Mad Quilter is the story of avid quilter and retired third grade teacher, Marnie Fetzer. Marnie lives with her husband, Darrell, who just retired from his engineering job, and she’s still best friends with her high school BFF, Shiela. Son Sam lives on the other side of town with his wife and toddler twins, while daughter Katie makes her home in Atlanta. These days, Marnie’s life revolves around quilts, quilts and – well, quilts.
We hope you enjoy the first few chapters enough to consider an annual subscription to the Story Guild. As a subscriber, you’ll get weekly chapters of Friendship Album: Forget-Me-Not, bi-weekly updates to Diary of a Mad Quilter, along with access to the complete audio versions of Friendship Album, 1933 and Aunt Jane of Kentucky, plus other Milton Falls stories and big discounts on everything in the Quilt Fiction Shop.
To celebrate having you on board we’ll mail a packet of Friendship Album-themed vintage postcards right to your door. We'll also send you a coupon for 50 percent off the downloadable audiobook version of Friendship Album, 1933 -- a $15 value.
Not ready for an annual subscription just yet, please consider a month-to-month subscription for $10 and convert to an annual membership at any time.
See you next time!
In the post-story section, I mentioned several books and articles. Here are the links for more information:
Remembering Adelia: Quilts Inspired by Her Diary by Kathleen Tracy
The Civil War Diary Quilt: 121 Stories and the Quilt Blocks They Inspired by Rosemary Youngs
Quilts from the Civil War by Barbara Brackman
Cloth and Comfort: Pieces of Women’s Lives from their Quilts and Diaries by Roderick Kirocofe
The Quilt Alliance
Mountain Mist Patterns
Women's Quilts and Diaries: Creative Expression and Personal Resource by Gail R. Davis
A New Friendship Album Christmas Story: Starry Night | Emmeline (1919)
This week, we spend time with Emmeline Grangerfield as a young bride finding her way in Milton Falls. Yes, it’s the annual Friendship Album Christmas story! Enjoy!
Be sure to download your free "December Star" quilt block pattern.
A Conversation with Author Sandra Dallas
A new year of Quilt Fiction fun has begun! We’ve just dropped the February Quilt Fiction Podcast episode, which includes a wonderful interview with novelist Sandra Dallas. While Sandra has never set out to write quilt fiction per se, she’s clearly got a heart for quilts. In novels such as The Persian Pickle Club, Alice’s Tulips and The Diary of Mattie Spenser, quilts and quiltmaking are central to her characters’ lives. In this episode, Sandra talks about her own days as a quilter as well as some of the quilts that she’s collected over the years.
We’re doing two giveaways to celebrate this month’s podcast! The first is from February’s Quilt Fiction sponsor, Oliso, home of cutting-edge fabric tools tailored to the needs of quilters and sewists. Oliso has generously provided a TG1600 ProPlus autolift iron, the M2Pro travel iron, and a fabulous ironing board cover for one lucky listener to win.
Our second giveaway is a copy of The Persian Pickle Club, which is our February Book of the Month. If you haven’t read The Persian Pickle Club, you’re in for a treat. If you have, you’ll enjoy it just as much the second time around!
You have until March 1st, 2024, to enter to win one of these two great prizes!
Not only do we have a Book of the Month, we have a Block of the Month! For February, Block of the Month is “Rocky Road to Kansas,” a paper-pieced block you’ll need a pattern for–and we’ve got a free pattern pdf on our website that you can download by clicking here. New to paper-piecing? We have a how-to video up on the Quilt Fiction YouTube channel. (Note: This is my first-ever how-to quilting demo, and it’s a little goofy.)
One of our February projects is overhauling the Quilt Fiction website to make it easier for you to navigate. We have SO much content that it’s taken us a while to get it all sorted out. There are free audio stories, and we’ve got the ongoing online World War II Diary, From the Homefront Diaries of Lorraine Shatterbuck. You can listen to the first five chapters of Friendship Album, 1933, for free as well. If you ever have a question about how to find something, please don’t hesitate to email us at email@example.com.
I want to remind you that if you want quilt fiction audio stories in your email box every week, along with access to a huge archive of quilting stories available to members only, you can sign up for my patron supported Story Guild podcast. For only $6 a month, that’s a lot of fiction! If you’re not ready to make a commitment, try our $10 a month membership, which you can cancel at any time.
Thanks so much for being a part of the Quilt Fiction community! I hope you enjoy this month’s podcast episode!
P.S. Did you get your copy of our free pattern, Eula’s Hen House?
Dorothy's Christmas Star: A Quilting Story
In “Dorothy’s Christmas Star,” Dorothy Johnson approves of her daughter’s friendship with a group of girls from prominent families, but then begins to worry that young Hannah has grown ashamed of where she comes from. When Dorothy is left out of an important event, she decides to take matters into her own hands — only to be surprised by the results.
Hello and happy holidays!If you’re looking for the free pattern and story download, you’ve come to the right place! I love the star block designed by Patty Dudek especially for this year’s Christmas story, and I know you’ll love it too!
If you want to know more about the Quilt Fiction Story Guild, you’ve also come to the right place! Just click here to find out how to become a member!
I talked about the Story Guild at the beginning of the podcast, but let’s take a minute review how much fun it’s going to be, shall we? First of all, we get to spend time with our favorite quilters, the ladies of the Milton Falls Wednesday Quilting Bee! We’ve got two new members on board, Edwina Baldwin and Eula’s daughter-in-law, Elise Baker, and you know how adding new people to the mix always complicates things. Yes, dears, there are some surprises in store!
Like Friendship Album, 1933, Friendship Album, 1934: Forget-Me-Not is a work-in-progress. I’ve written ten chapters so far and hope to have at least five more chapters done before Episode One drops on New Year’s Eve. By joining the Story Guild, you’ll be supporting me as I write. That’s right. you’ll be a patron of the arts, and this artist/writer greatly appreciates it!
I’m also super excited to share chapters from another WIP, Diary of a Mad Quilter. I’ve loved creating the modern day Milton Falls and my favorite new family, the Fetzers. Beginning in January, I’ll be sharing weekly excerpts from Marnie Fetzer’s diaries. As the title suggests, there’s a lot of humor in Marnie’s story, and I hope you’ll enjoy spending time with the newest addition to the Milton Falls quilting roster.
If you’re here, then you’re a story lover, so you’ll be glad to know that by joining the Story Guild, you’ll get even more Milton Falls quilting stories in your inbox. I’ve got a bunch of new stories in the hopper, including a Dorothy story from 1902, and a contemporary story that features Emmeline’s granddaughters(!). Expect surprise announcements of new audio stories and e-stories for you to download, one more way of saying thanks for your support!
As I mentioned on the podcast, we’ve got special gifts for everyone who joins in December. First, we’ll mail you a set of EIGHT holiday postcards as soon as you join–take a look at the cards on the website; they’re absolutely darling!
Second, for joining the Quilt Fiction Story Guild this month, you’ll receive a free downloadable Friendship Album, 1933 audiobook with updated chapters, a $39.95 value. Please note, Friendship Album 1933 is no longer available on the free Quilt Fiction podcast. It will be available for sale in our Etsy store in 2023, but if you join the Story Guild in December, you’ll get it for free!
I hope you’ll consider joining the Story Guild. We’ll do everything we can to make sure you’re getting a whole lot of great stuff in return for your support!
Finally, a little about this year’s Christmas story.“Dorothy’s Christmas Star” is set in 1918. If you’re looking for information about everyday life in the US at the turn of the 20th century, most of what you’ll find concerns white communities. This is a problem if you’re writing fiction about a black family and want to get all the details right.
However, I’m fortunate to live in Durham, NC, home of a historic black neighborhood known as Hayti, about which a great deal has been written. Hayti was founded as...
Must listen to this!
If you have any interest in quilting or women who quilt or life in the 1930s, you MUST listen to this podcast. The characters are engaging, although not saccharine sweet! The narrator, who is the author, has a very pleasant voice. I want to be friends with the women in the quilt group!
Love this podcast!
Frances, thank you for sharing your gift of storytelling with the world! Do I like this because I’m a quilter? Because I love historical fiction? Because you write such vibrant characters? I think it’s all of these, plus the feelings that I can’t express in words. Thank you!
Quilt fiction Podcast
This is an awesome story . I am not a quilter but it takes you back in time to a different era and I really enjoyed it :)