Singing Quilter Songbook

Yesterday we sent the songbook in to the printers.  Now we wait.

For the last 7 months, I’ve been working hard on my first book.  For years, I’ve wanted to capture a lot of the stories I tell/know/have been told about quilting in one place.  I started by thinking I would write a history book with the complete stories of all the true tales I’ve written songs about, and include a companion CD with those songs.  It was a good idea. Then I started talking with book publishers, who all told me to include some patterns in the book, because quilters don’t buy books that are just history, but they do if there are projects for them to do. (ie, “Make your own Rajah Quilt”!!!)

The second book was going to be a collection of all the stories people have told me after shows, and via email and snail mail over the years.  I have already written the song called “100 Ways to Hide Your Stash”, but many, many people have told me, since I wrote it, of all the OTHER places that I missed in the song!  There are lots of stories of charity quilts – I’ve already written the song “A Quilter’s Embrace”, but these other stories needed, I thought, a venue.  It would be a “bathroom” kinda book, small, but with lots of graphics and snippets, like a crazy quilt or confetti quilt.

But then I thought:  I’m a songwriter.  I should be doing a songbook!  I have friends who have done songbooks, and Jack Cole loaned me his copy of the new James Gordon songbook, complete with interview of Himself about how he writes, etc.  THAT’S IT! sez I.  I’ll do an “enhanced” songbook (because I don’t think quilters are going to buy a book with just sheet music either.  I have sold some individual sheet music to people over the years – not much, but some).

So began the work.  I enlisted the help of my friend, producer Paul Mills to design the book.  He suggested I synchronize with his music writing program, Finale.  First, I had to learn how to use it, which took a while.  By January, I had all 70 songs scored.  Happily, the program plays back the music you have scored, so it’s fairly easy to spot the mistakes.  I sent it all to Paul.

I thought the biggest job was going to be scoring the music.  Whew! Finished! But wait…..

Then I had to write the rest of it.  I had all the lyrics already in proofread form, thanks to the CD artwork.  Another big job done!  But the stories still had to be written. And this was the most important part of the book for me.

The history tales have evolved over the years.  The “Rajah Quilt” story, for example, has been enhanced for me by having met descendants of Elizabeth Fry, and having sung the song in a church that looked out on the grounds where the women (and their babies) were buried in Hobart, Tasmania. The Changi Prison song “Time Flies” means so much more to me, now that I’ve met Freddy Bloom’s daughter, Ginny, in England and found out Freddy died 4 months before I wrote the song.  These events happened because I wrote the songs.  I feel I could write a book about these two songs alone. In our travels, we’ve chased up more of these stories: visited William Driver’s idiosyncratic grave in Nashville TN (from the song “Old Glory”), met Vickie Lopresti who made a quilt based on the song “The Trapper and His Bride” – and got a blue ribbon for it!  I’ve also seen the magnificent “Duck Neck Quilt” in Skagway, Alaska, and performed (in June 2011) at the Panguitch Quilt Walk Festival.

So I updated my stories, making sure I had everything as correct as I could (which involved some more research). I contacted the owners of the quilts and got permission to use the photographs.  And THAT was a bigger job than I imagined!  (I guess if I wasn’t self-publishing, the publisher would have done all that…..)

Surely that’s the bulk of the job done?  Then Paul started sending files back to me for proofreading….

Throughout the tour to Australia/New Zealand and the southern US, I received files from him that kept getting bigger and bigger.  The list of edits seemed to never get smaller.  Every time I found the time to read through the book and send him corrections, he got them back to me so quickly that I had to start again. It seemed never-ending.

The final step was to enlist my friend Bob deWolff to proofread the music – again – but with fresh eyes.  He caught a few more things, which was good. Another friend, Wendy Wetzel helped out by suggesting a better way to describe one of the patterns in the book: the Quilter’s Delight (a great way to do Drunkard’s Path).

FINALLY we’re done, and it’s been sent to the printer.  One more read-through of their proof, and then we wait for the boxes.  I expect to receive them in early September. My friend Carol Noel (who is also a musician and book designer) tells me to make sure, when I open the first box, that I smell the new books.  I guess there’s a particular smell to freshly-printed books.  There’s no equivalent with receiving the first box of CDs. I’m glad she told me about it.

The book will be 148 pages, and will include complete scores, melodies, lyrics and chords.  PLUS photographs and stories. PLUS snippets from 11 years of travelling in quilting circles. PLUS a few patterns.  A Time Line and complete index.

I couldn’t have done this without the great work of Paul Mills, who made the time for it between recording projects and computer crashes (thank goodness for his obsessive backing up of files!!).

I’ve learned a lot during this process.  I’ll probably do another book at some point, but for now, I’ll take a break.  It’s time to get back to quilting!!

You’ll be able to order your copy soon.  Maybe wait till we have them in our hands – only then will I believe it’s true!

8 Responses to “Singing Quilter Songbook”

  1. Wendy Says:

    I . Can’t . Wait!

    Congrats, Cathy…. huge accomplishment!

  2. Peggi Says:

    Yay – I can’t wait to buy it! Will they be mail order? Available in stores? Are autographs possible? 🙂

    • singingquilter Says:

      Hi Peggi – yes, I’ll put the order form up on the website once I know they are being shipped. That way, you won’t have to wait any longer than necessary. There are a few stores that are interested in carrying them – I’ll start looking into that soon. Autographs are always possible if you order from me directly!!

  3. Jennifer Says:

    Definitely one for my bookshelf!

  4. sandra Says:


  5. Sue Says:

    You must be feeling so excited waiting for the books to arrive. I expect your signature on mine please!
    cheers Sue @ Charlotte’s Cottage

  6. Dorothy Kelly Says:

    Okay, I just found this site… please tell me where I can buy a copy of your song book…

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