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Review: Waking Up In The Land of Glitter by Kathy Cano-Murillo

When I am not crafting my heart out on one project or another, you can find me with my nose in a book.

So when I heard about Kathy Cano-Murillo (aka the Crafty Chica) writing a novel I was intrigued. I have never read a fiction book about crafters because I’ve yet to see one that interested me. This book had me with the promise of glitter, friendship, a happy ending, and heroines with Hispanic heritage like myself. How could I not be interested? I pre-ordered a copy at and went back to crafting…

Several days ago my copy of Waking Up in the Land of Glitter arrived, and I couldn’t help but dive right in. The cover (which is actually glittered in spots) beckoned me to open up and dive into the world of Kathy’s creation. I was enthralled with Kathy’s ability to embellish and describe each scene with such care. She really sucked me into the world of her book, which is set in Phoenix, though I was put off by the characters initially.

Star is a curvy, young, colorfully dressed artist who views crafting as something that’s beneath her. Her best friend Ofie is an obsessed crafter who tries a little bit of everything with heart and enthusiasm. Ofie is a plump stay-at-home mother with a tight budget who has uncontrollable urges to buy crafting supplies and spends more time crafting than doing anything else. To round out the craftista trio, there was the thin, angry, selfish TV personality “Crafty” Chloe. Chloe, though on camera loves all things crafty, has some dirty secrets and is building up some seriously dark karma.

The premise is really that Star digs herself a big hole and winds up in a lot of hot water with her family, job, and just about everywhere else with her flighty “take no responsibility for myself and finish no project” attitude. Bottom line? She has to craft hundreds of table centerpieces for the upcoming Craft Olympics, sort out her life, and figure out what she’s going to do with 350lbs of German glass glitter sent to her by mistake (vs the 3.5lbs she ordered).

To me, crafting is like a big, warm, gooey fudge brownie. It makes me feel good and I love to share. I’m not the best housekeeper or cook, but when I craft, I feel like a superstar.

That’s a line from Ofie in the book that I just love. As a crafter, I loved that the book centered around women whose lives were wrapped up in the craft world. The Spanish (and Spanglish) endearments and words sprinkled throughout the book made me smile. I heard and saw so much of my Hispanic Aunts in some of the supporting characters, and I loved that. If you didn’t grow up with Spanish in your house you’ll still know what she means because Kathy has thoughtfully included a glossary at the end of the book for reference.

What I loved most is her artful use of language. I could see the sparkle of the high quality glitter, feel the Arizona heat, and share the passion Star had for creating something special.

Hunched like a crafty surgeon about to perform a double-collage bypass, she snipped… She affixed the picture to a piece of thick red glittered foam board mounted inside the cigar box. The side panels glistened with the vintage glass glitter and the border’s edges shimmered from two rows of ruby crystals.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any kind of crafting. So many parts made me smile or laugh aloud. While it seems like a super light read on the surface, each character has serious issues, flaws, and problems to work out. I loved the richness of her characters and how vividly I could envision everyone and everything.

Despite all my praise for it, I do have two issues with this book, however:

  1. Some hard stuff is too convenient in resolution and we’re told but not shown the conflict. I felt there were a few parts to the book (I will not specify so as not to spoil it!) where things worked out too neatly, too easily, and too simply for the sake of moving the plot along. I also felt that I was often told that someone was fragile, kind, angry, selfish, or some other character trait or emotion rather than shown. I prefer to decide someone is sweet based on her actions rather than just being told and having the author move along.
  2. There were too many points of view. This story was told from at least seven points of view in total (although some of those only popped up once or twice and for very short periods), and it pulled me out of the story as I stopped and figured out whose voice I was hearing this time. I would have preferred to read just from our three heroines’ perspectives.

What my issues truly boil down to is that Kathy had me entranced in her world, but I couldn’t get emotionally invested in her characters nearly as much as I’d have liked. Things were moving along so quickly that I just didn’t feel the struggles like I felt I could have. Am I being picky? Absolutely! As a woman who reads a minimum of fifty novels a year I have a lot of expectations and I know what makes a work of fiction great to me.

My hope is that she continues writing novels that are as beautifully detailed as this one and that she continues along this path. I cannot express how much I enjoyed her way with words – she’s truly a crafty chica with words as well as paper and glue. I enjoyed my time in the land of glitter, and I am now itching to build a shrine as described in my above quote and all over the book. Assemblage is an art form I’ve never held much interest in but I’m sitting here barely able to contain myself from making some kind of shadow box piece right this minute. Better yet, she has some crafty instruction at the end of the novel to help me get started.

Crafty fiction that inspires me to go create and has my head spinning with ideas? Yes please! This book is a WIN for sure.  This novel gets a thumbs up from this crafty girl.

Waking Up in the Land of Glitter: A Crafty Chica Novel by Kathy Cano-Murillo is currently available in paperback at

Editor’s note: Scrapbook-themed fiction has been a growing market segment. For previous articles on the topic by Scrapbook Update, see:


Tim Holtz Distress Inks: 12 New Colors to Love!

When I first heard that Tim Holtz would be adding 12 new colors to his existing palette of 24 colors I cheered out loud and thanked the computer for giving me such great news. If this makes me a geek of the highest order – that’s fine. They’re that much fun to work with.

Since 2004, Distress Ink pads have been making my crafting life a better one, and it’s a product I wouldn’t consider working without. Not only are they great to work with, but the quality is outstanding as well. I have some of my original pads (purchased in 2004) that are still working just fine. Some have never been re-inked or replaced in all that time. In other words – they’re a good investment!

Initially I was going to try and tell you which colors are my favorites from this batch but they’re all too good. Wild Honey is a dark horse – a color I’d normally run away from, but I love how it looks on my projects. Victorian Velvet went on really dark, but lightens to a lovely shade. I’m also having a love affair with gray these days, so the addition of Pumice Stone is a welcome one. All twelve colors are now available, and working with them has been intensely fun.

These ink pads can be used as you would any regular ink pad, but they have added benefits. First off, when applied they have a slightly softer look than other inks. See this example of the image being stamped with the distress ink, and then a staz-on black pad:

You can see the difference. I love the softer look, and since I often don’t stamp even enough, it covers my light or ‘whoops’ spots better. The ink pads can be used with water too – here’s my sample board literally splashed with water-

Or you could stamp on already wet paper…

Another fun thing to do is to stamp on a craft mat, then add water to create a kind of wash.

Now you just press your paper down on it. Inexpensive photo paper is great for this. The look reminds me of Easter eggs, and you can mix-and-match various colors.

There is a lot more you can do with these ink pads, including stamping on photos. I strongly suggest checking out Tim Holtz at his website for more inspiration and ideas from a true master. If you’ve got the opportunity to take a class from him, I suggest that as well. I consider my class from him back in 2005 still the best class I ever took.

While getting funky and working with all kinds of fancy techniques is a lot of fun, sometimes I just like to use the ink pads as they are directly on my layouts and paper craft projects. They’re beautiful for edging papers, and are even better rubbed on an embossed cardstock like this damask patterned one.

In the layout below I used Distress ink to edge my photos, to stamp, to edge the scallop paper & journaling paper, to accent the floral strip, to ink the flowers, and to color the background paper.  I used four colors in total – and I really like how much ink can add to my page.

Tim Holtz Distress Inks in Tumbled Glass, Spun Sugar, Wild Honey, and Bundled Sage were used on this layout as well as one of Tim’s stamps and filmstrip ribbon. Other supplies include American Crafts thickers uppercase and lowercase, pen, and cardstock; Melody Ross for GCD brad and flower strip, Prima Flowers, Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist, and a Pink Paislee rub-on.

I discovered that using the ink on the flower and spritzing it with a Glimmer Mist like Dazzling Diamonds resulted in a very pleasing effect much like water would have – except shiny. You can see how my once white flowers are a more all-over pink color.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my look at these twelve new awesome colors of distress ink. They truly do fill gaps that I hadn’t realized I so desperately needed in my inking, and I feel so inspired to craft with them! You will be seeing many projects to come with these, and my stash of older colors as well.