Friday, July 22, 2022

Closing Sale!

Good afternoon,

With a heavy heart, I've decided to close my Etsy shop, Reprieve's Corner. I've marked down all of my handmade crafts and crafting supplies to liquidation prices (50% off). I'll continue to renew this discount rate until all of my current listings either sell or expire (Etsy charges us to renew listings).

I'll continue to do the occasional craft fair (especially around the holidays) until I run out of inventory and supplies.

I've also discounted signed copies of my books 30% off. Once my Etsy shop closes, books will be available for purchase through my blog,

Thank you all for supporting my creative endeavors for the past 11 years. I really appreciate it!



Monday, July 4, 2022

4th of July Blow Out Sale!

Sorry about the short notice, but I'm having a 4th of July Blow Out sale in my Etsy shop, Reprieve's Corner. Today and tomorrow (July 4th and 5th), save up to 70% off of handmade crafts, crafting supplies, and my autographed books.



Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Feedback, please: Cover Options-- Round 2

Good morning!

First, I'd like to thank everyone that responded to my blog post earlier this week (through any of my social media accounts) to provide feedback on the cover options for my new novel. I really appreciate all of you taking the time to look through the options and provide constructive feedback. Thank you!!

The following is the vote tally:

Option #1: 5

Option #2: 2

Option #3: 2

Option #4: 6

Option #5: 2

Option #6: 2

As you can see, #1 and #4 were the favorites. But, in both cases, I received suggestions for improving them. 

For example, one reader suggested trying different font colors for option #1. Originally, the title was yellow/gold. I sent her 3 more options: black, pale blue, and purple. We agreed that purple was the best choice. What do you think?

Option #1-- Font Color Choices:



With Option #4, several people suggested that I recreate the image using the broken mirror. I created this cover last year-- before I brave enough to sacrifice the mirror in the pursuit of art. (It's such a pretty mirror that I hesitated to break it!). Oh-- and before I could recreate the photograph, I had to reassemble the broken mirror. LOL

Since some time had passed, I wasn't able to position the objects in the photo exactly the same as before but I tried. I used 2 slightly different photos.

Oh! I also decided to play with different fonts. At the moment, these two are my favorites.

Cover Option #4-- With and Without Broken Mirror


What do you think?

And, me being me, I did some more playing around with both the cover options I shared earlier this week plus a few more. I also added "a novel by" to each of the cover options. So, in addition to #1 and #4 above, there are the following options:


Cover Option #2: I added "a novel by"


Cover Option #3: I adjusted the author name so it's at the same angle as the book title and added "a novel by"

New Options:

Cover Option #7: Just playing with different photograph and background choices. This one also has a wider feathering effect on the edge.


Cover Option #8: For this one, I went with a simpler approach. There's a plain white background and no feathering effect on the edge of the photograph.


And, last but not least--

Cover Option #9: This one uses the same photograph as #7, but a different filter. I also used different fonts and colors. The photograph is also smaller, so the emphasis is on the text.



So, what do you think?  I know it's a lot of options... but, it's good to have choices, right? 

Thanks again for all of your help. I really appreciate it. 

Now to get back to editing the manuscript that goes with these cover choices...

~ H. S. Contino

Monday, May 9, 2022

Feedback, please-- Cover Options

Good afternoon,

I apologize for not posting any new blog posts lately. I've been busy with projects-- including editing my latest novel, "The Other Mae." I'm making progress, and I plan to self-publish it later this year. But, I'm not feeling confident enough to set a release date yet.

I'm currently between drafts, so I thought I'd spend a few days working on the book cover design. I shared a few options last year, but I didn't love any of them. So I've been playing with additional designs, fonts, font colors, and background images.

The following are my current favorites. What do you think? I'd love some feedback!


Option #1: I love the swirling font on this one, but I'm worried that it might be too hard to read. 


Cover Option #2: I played with placing the title text on top of the mirror in this one. I might adjust the font size and spacing some more. 


Cover Option #3: For this one, I played with placing the title of the book on top of the journal (which plays a role in the story). I also zoomed in on the background image, so you can't see the other items as clearly. I was hoping that added some mystery. Each item is relevant to the story.


Cover Option #4: This one is from the batch of covers I made last year. I used a feathering effect on the photo edges to make it look a little bit like a watercolor. Overall, I think this cover looks elegant and fits well into the women's literature genre. 


Cover Option #5: This one is similar to some of the other options. I used a feathering effect on the image, but this time I didn't zoom in. Instead, I framed the text around the image. 


The last cover option (#6) is more experimental, and I'm not sure what I think of it. I was playing with the mirror and distorted images. What do you think?


As always, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I really appreciate it!

~ H. S. Contino

Friday, March 11, 2022

Huge Sale!

Good afternoon,

Just a quick post to let everyone know that I'm having a big sale in my online Etsy shop, Reprieve's Corner. I love making stuff, and I usually sell both online and at craft fairs and farmers markets through out the year. But with all of the pandemic cancellations over the past few years, I've had a lot of time on my hands to make stuff and not a lot of market opportunities. This has led to a surplus of inventory. I'd rather sell it at a discounted price then continue to store it. Besides, selling my work gives me an excuse to make new stuff!


Handmade Craft Liquidation Sale!

I've marked down almost all of my handmade crafts and crafting supplies to 50% off! 


Autographed Book Sale!

Autographed copies of all of my published books are 30% off!

Free Shipping on Orders of $35 or more (US only)!


The sale prices are currently set to expire at the end of March, but I may extend the date. 








 Have a great weekend!

 ~ H. S. Contino 

Friday, February 25, 2022

New Beginnings & Rough Starts

Good morning!

Long time no blog (sorry about that)... 

So I'm one of those people that feels like I get a "fresh start" twice a year-- at the beginning of a new year and on every birthday. On both of these occasions, I reflect on my life and both the areas where I'm doing well and where there is room for improvement. After all, a big part of the human experience is learning from our mistakes so we can become better people.

January 2022 was a good example of this attitude. I had so many ideas and plans! But, as often happens, things didn't go according to plan...

In my last post of 2021, I shared my plans for "Penniless January." The basic idea was to try to make it through an entire month without spending money on anything other than my basic bills (for example: housing and utilities). I even stocked up on groceries ahead of time-- with an emphasis on shelf stable foods. Unfortunately, I over-looked one big bill that was due in January-- my car insurance. This bill alone through my entire budget off.


2022 came in with a roar here on the Oregon coast. We experienced several back to back winter storms complete with heavy rain and exceptionally strong winds. We even got a little snow (which is rare)! There were several nights that I lay in bed listening to the rain pounding against the windows of my house, and I could feel the wind tugging and pulling at the walls of my little old house. 

I woke up the morning after one of these storms to discover that one of the smaller trees in my yard had been knocked over by a wind gust. Fortunately, it fell away from the house. But, it was partially leaning against my wooden fence. I was worried that the continued weight would damage the fence, so I felt like I had no choice but to go outside-- in the freezing rain-- to deal with the tree situation.

Initially, I hoped I might be able to salvage the tree. But, upon close inspection, I realized that it had snapped at the base. So my only choice was to chop up the tree and get the weight off of the fence. The problem was that I don't own a chainsaw. Technically, I could have used a credit card to buy one, but that would have tanked my "Penniless January" experiment. Instead, I used the tools I had on hand: long handle pruning shears and a hand saw.

 As an added complication, I have fibromyalgia... So, me standing out in the freezing rain while sawing away at a downed tree was a really bad idea. It took me three days to chop up the downed tree. I'd go outside for 20-30 minutes at a time and work until my pain levels got unbearable. Then I'd go back inside, change into dry clothes, take a pain pill, and rest. Once the medication kicked in, I'd go back outside. Fortunately, by the third day the rain had stopped. Plus, my neighbor saw me working and offered to loan me his power saw. What a difference it made! I was able to get more done in an hour with the power saw then I'd gotten done in two days with my wimpy tools!
My other January plans included posting blog posts more often. I know I don't have much of an online following, so it can be easy to neglect my blog. WordPress was advertising a program called "Bloguary" so I signed up. The basic idea was that they'd send bloggers daily emails with a line of text that was supposed to inspire us to write a blog about it-- then tag it #Bloguary.
Once again, I had great intentions. It seemed like a fun idea-- and I could really use the inspiration. The problem was that my reaction to most of the supposedly inspirational email messages was "Eh." 
I did save a few-- which I intended to write about-- but I never did. For example:
"What is your favorite quote and why?"

There were other January projects, but you get the idea. I began the new year full of ideas and plans, but so far each and every one of them is off to a rough start. Don't get me wrong-- I'm still trying! For example, I'm still plugging away at my finances with the goal of paying off my debts and achieving modest financial freedom. I'm also continuing to work on editing my novel, "The Other Mae," with the goal of releasing the Beta Reader edition by the end of the year.

So, I'm still plugging away at my New Year Resolutions and goals. It's just that I've been feeling discouraged because so far nothing has gone according to plan so far this year... 

On the flip side, there have been a few positive surprises. For instance, I've been pet sitting as a "side gig" for a number of years. Most of my clients are people I know-- co-workers, neighbors, and friends. But, back in 2019, I signed up with Rover to try to pick up a few more clients. Once the pandemic hit in early 2020, I stopped receiving booking requests. Flash forward two years and people are starting to transition from working at home back to traditional work places. Since January, I've been receiving lots of requests for drop-in pet visits and dog walks while my clients are at work. 


I've always loved animals so pet sitting is the perfect side job for me. I enjoy visiting with and looking after the animals. Plus, it allows me to continue "social distancing." Aside from an initial "Meet and Greet" with new clients, it's usually just me and the dogs or cats. I also like being able to reassure my clients that their pets are being well cared for while they're at work-- so they have one less thing to worry about.
As an added bonus, I have several regular clients that live fairly close to me. This allows me to work on creative projects at home-- like editing my novel-- then take a break to go look after a client's job. It's a perfect balance!

Well, this post is getting pretty long-- I guess that's what happens when you don't post an update for a few months. Oops!

I have one more update to share. I've been a vendor on Etsy since 2011. Unfortunately, my online sales have been nose diving for a while now. I think the problem is that my shop and the items I have for sale "get lost in the shuffle." There are so many people selling crafts on the website. Plus, you have to pay extra for advertising if you want your items to show up in the first few pages of search results. So between the listing, advertising, and sales fees, I have to sell a lot to cover the monthly fees.
Since the start of the pandemic, the type of stuff I sell-- handmade crafts and books I wrote myself-- just haven't been selling. I think most people have been in "survival mode" and mostly spending money on essential stuff (like groceries). While I understand where they're coming from, this has meant that my Etsy shop has been in the red most months.

Then I received an email this morning from Etsy informing sellers that they're increasing the % of the sales fee...

I've come to the conclusion that I need to have a liquidation sale then put my Etsy shop in "vacation mode" for a while. There's a good chance that I'll end up closing my online shop eventually. But, for now, I need to try to sell my remaining stock then wait and see. 

So, starting tomorrow (February 26th), most handmade crafts and crafting supplies will be 50% off. Autographed copies of my books will be 30% off.


Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post and for supporting my creative pursuits. I really appreciate it!
~ H. S. Contino


Thursday, December 30, 2021

Introducing "Penny-less January"

 Good morning!

As the new year approaches, I've decided to challenge myself to what I'm calling "Penny-less January." I'm writing about it on my blog and sharing my plans on the internet in order to keep myself accountable. ;)


The "rules" are pretty simple: I want to see if I can make through an entire month without spending a penny on anything other than my regular household bills (housing, utilities, and phone/internet). I'm also going to avoid spend money on groceries or take out. In preparation, I've stocked up on frozen, canned, and shelf stable foods (as well as pet food and treats-- of course!).

I have several reasons for pursuing this challenge, but one of the main ones is that I'm tired of starting each new year poor and in debt. For years, I felt societal pressure to spend a lot of money on gifts for my family and friends every holiday season. Since I've never had a large salary, more often than not I ended up falling back on my credit cards-- which mean that come January I had to start paying them back with interest.

I want to break that cycle.


This year, I sent holiday greeting cards to my family and friends, but I only gave gifts to my closest family members. And, instead of racking up debt, I purchased a few small, inexpensive gifts. Instead of traditional gifts, I made individualized Memory Books for family members using photographs of past family adventures and special moments. As I told my nieces and nephew, I was giving them each the gift of memory-- and the Memory Books were meant to symbolize this intangible gift.

I chose the name "Penny-less January" because my goal is the exact opposite. I'm trying to break the cycle of beginning every new year penniless, and I'm so tired of modern society's focus on consumerism. Instead, I'm going back to the basics. I want to start the year while focusing on my basic expenses, which will free up money in my budget that I can put towards my debt.

So, wish me luck!

What about everyone else? What are your goals for the new year? Any new year's resolutions? Please, feel free to share in the comments.

Thank you for reading. I hope that your holidays were merry, and I'd like to wish everyone a wonderful (and happy) new year!

~ H. S. Contino