People know me as The Crafty Chica, always ready to sprinkle glitter on anything and everything.
But you know what? I've been writing longer than I've been crafting!
Inspired by Judy Blume and Erma Bombeck, I caught the literary bug in grade school. I really owe it to Erma. In sixth grade, I read her book, If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?, over and over. I thought that title was just so dang clever. I remember reading an Erma essay out loud to my mom on the way to the grocery store and both of us were in tears from laughter. Erma's kooky storytelling inspired me to draw pictures and write colorful stories to match. I wanted to grow up to be the Mexican version of Erma. When high school rolled around, I immediately signed up for journalism and yearbook.
Years later, I became a full-time features reporter and craft columnist for the The Arizona Republic. I loved that job. I covered arts and entertainment. After launching CraftyChica.com in 2001, I began blogging in 2003. Diary of a Crafty Chica was an outlet to share the joys and tribulations of "crafts, drama and glitter." I juggled a full-time job, college, an art business and a family. At that time, I already had two craft books out and felt accomplished. One day, my agent called me to chat with an editor at Simon & Schuster. She asked if I would consider writing a novel based on my blog. I laughed off the request on the ouside, but inside, my heart pounded as if I had just sucked down a quad mocha! But when a second editor from HarperCollins asked the same question, I took the idea serious.
There I was, working in the Features newsroom of one of the largest newspapers in the country, but I still lacked confidence. I sat by a team of talented wordsmiths and compared myself to them. I spent one year outlining an idea. That is totally stalling for me - usually when I want to complete a task, I'll do it in one night! I just couldn't work up the courage to write the opening sentence. I eventually joined a local writing group, and signed up for National Novel Writing Month. I cranked out the first draft of my novel, then-titled, The Crafty Chica Chronicles. I spent the next year editing it. My schedule was tight - the only time I could work on it was after 10 p.m. when my husband and kids hit the sack. I stayed up until 2 a.m., four days a week to finish.
In May 2005, I submitted the manuscript to my agent, who sent it back with major revisions. "This book needs a plot! It has so many directions, it is exhausting! Back to the drawing board!" I cried at the other end of the phone as I scribbled on the manuscript pages. I doubted my skills. I put the project away and decided to devote more time to my family - and sleep!
Here is where the universe came into play - in May 2006, I taught a writer's shrine workshop at Alisa Valdes-Rodriquez's inaugural Chica Lit Fiesta in Miami, FL. After listening to dozens of amazing writers share their publishing stories and book excerpts, I came home ready to kick some keyboard booty. I pulled out that manuscript and kissed it. I read my agent's notes and got back to work - again from 10 p.m.-2 a.m.
In early 2007, I submitted the revisions again to my agent. I'll never forget her words: "I love this, I can sell this!" - followed by 11 pages of single spaced notes of changes. I happily made them. She then sent me seven pages of double spaced notes. I made those revisions, sent them in and she responded with minor margin notes. By the end of June, we were ready to submit the manuscript to editors!
The second week of July 2007, the book went out to 11 editors. In the first few days, the declines came in. "All it takes is one," my agent reassured. By Wednesday, an editor made an offer! Within 24 hours, two more editors followed suit! By the end of the week, I accepted a two-book deal from Grand Central Publishing. But the revisions didn't stop there. I worked with my editor to re-craft the plot which became my debut novel, WAKING UP IN THE LAND OF GLITTER (released March 2010). My second novel, MISS SCARLET'S SCHOOL OF PATTERNLESS SEWING comes out March 8, 2011.
Guess what I'm doing these days? Working on my third novel!
I love contemporary women's fiction. I love cheering for the underdog. I love happy endings. I love pop culture. I love being Mexican-American. I love being a mom and a wife. I love arts and crafts. You can expect all of those in my new Crafty Chica novel series from Grand Central Publishing!
Kathy Cano-Murillo is a lifelong writer and artist. Her crafts have been carried by hundreds of retailers including Bloomingdales, Target, and Hallmark. She is a former entertainment reporter for The Arizona Republic, and has authored seven books including Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing. She is the founder of CraftyChica.com, a wildly popular web site to inspire women to brighten their lives with clever craft ideas. She has been seen on LifetimeTV.com, HGTV, SiTV and DIY Network. She has been profiled in The New York Times, USA Today and NPR, and now has an extensive Crafty Chica product line. Kathy lives in Phoenix, AZ, with her husband, two kids and five Chihuahuas. Her motto for life is "Crafts, drama and glitter".