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13 posts from August 2009

I Don't Usually Laugh Out LoudAugust 30, 2009

Whew. I'm having a hard time kicking my butt into gear over here. I'm going to perch on the edge of my chair and have a nice chat with you and then maybe you'll pat my cheek at the end and say, Okay, Rach, get on with it, will you?

You know what? I'm happy about Book Two!

Even better, my agent is happy about Book Two!

I know it must be frustrating for some of you who want to get your hands on How To Knit a Love Song but can't until MARCH to hear me kvetch on and on about Book Two, but indulge me a moment more (also, no guarantees, but wouldn't it be fun if I got an advance reader's copy or two that I could do a random drawing for here on the site? Mmmm? That would be fun. Just sayin'. It's never for sure the author will get more than one, I've heard, in which case I'm SO keeping that puppy, but here's hoping.)

But anyway. Back to Book Two. I can't remember what I told you before but the first draft was written as the premise sold to my publisher: a romantic suspense. After I wrote the whole damn book, it turned out to be TOO OBVIOUS. Oh, yeah? That's the Bad Guy? OH REALLY? DUH! I could see that plot twist from the surface of the moon! So I rewrote it. The whole thing. And it was better, but still clunky and kinda dumb. Didn't feel right. I wanted to throw it against the wall and sometimes did.

But now, with my editor's approval to move away from romantic suspense and back into women's fiction and a MAJOR rewrite that almost kil't me, I swear it did, it's good. It's funny and sweet and it's what it wanted to be. I have a few tweaks that I'd like to make today, but the other day, when I took a day off work to read it over and do a final continuity check (because when you've rewritten something that many times, it's important to check you still have the same characters doing the right things in the right places with the right people), it made me laugh out loud in delight a couple of times. And that was a fine, outrageous surprise. I did not expect that from my own writing. At all. 

(Strangely, while I'm a HUGE laugh-out-louder in real life, I rarely do while reading or watching TV. I can't explain this. It's just true.)

And I do wonder if I laughed out loud because the world of Cypress Hollow is so rich to me because I've been living in it so deeply for the last six months, or because it was good. But I'm willing to let other people tell me that in the future and just be happy now that it happened. 

And only related because Kiersten White is writing about the publishing world, this is a wonderful piece on what it takes to get published. (For those of you who are curious, I submitted queries to thirty-one agents. About half requested partials, and about half of those requested fulls from the partials. That's a pretty high rate of return, and I think it had to do with the market at the time--people were just looking for what I was selling. I was just lucky in that part of it. When Susanna offered representation, I had two other agents who were highly interested. One agent, in fact, missed the boat by a day. BOY, AM I GLAD SHE DID. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it or not, but I have the best agent in the world.)

Okay. I'm getting on with it now. I'm only dragging my heels because once I send it to my editor tomorrow, then it's REALLY out of my hands for a while until she gets back to me with edits. Wait! Why is that bad? That means I'm off camping at Strawberry Music Festival all weekend without a care in the world (except for plotting Book Three, something that I can do under the Yosemite stars, right?).

Deleted ScenesAugust 25, 2009

Are over at PensFatales today. Come say hi!

The Cat Is Out of the BagAugust 24, 2009

And the cat is on the blanket.  (Click there for the real story.)

Zoom is awesome, and I adore her, and she's had a shitstorm of a year (lost her job, got breast cancer, sustained back injury) and she needed some love big time.

So we made her a blanket. I'm not posting this as a Look What We Did, I'm posting this more as a Look How Easy This Was. I've had a couple of people ask about my Love Blanket that the knitters made me after Mom died, and I have to tell you this: in a fire (god forbid), it would be the one non-breathing thing I would try to save. (Okay, my computer might rank up there, too, but I'm trying not to admit that out loud.)

My blanket is that important to me. It has that much love infused into it.

If you wanted to make a blanket like this for someone in the knitting community, and if they had a blog (the only way I know how to do it):

1. Stalk their comments. Go to each commenter's blog and send them an email, asking if they'd like to participate. (Alternately, go to the blogs listed on the blogger's blogroll and do the same.)

2. Once you have a bunch of people interested, set up the ground rules. For Zoom's we made 8inch squares, any color, any pattern. We got amazing results by letting people use their imagination.

3. Once all the squares are in one place, safety-pin each person's name on each square.

4. Invite local crafters over for a crochet party! I know that crafters can get crazy-involved in making sure seams are perfect and we DID NOT do that. My own blanket was put together with single crochet, and that's how we decided to do Zoom's --it means the back side looks like stained glass, and although it's a bit bulky, I think it's perfect. And it's fast, yo. No mattress stitching here.


5. Crawl all over the blanket and make a map of names on a piece of paper so that when the recipient takes off the safety-pinned names, she can always tell at a glance who made which one.

6. Mail that puppy. Let your loved one wrap it around her. It will mean the world to her. Zoom and I will attest to that.


Sunday AnnieAugust 23, 2009

There's just something about Annie Lennox, isn't there? I think if I could have swapped bodies for a day with anyone in the 80s, it would have been her. Of course, since I'm a bit younger, she would have ended up in a playground on the California coast using iceplant for pretend chalk, but I'm thinking she could have managed. (Yep, I'm sure that's what she was waiting for. Swapping bodies with an uncool ten-year old with glasses.)

Recently she allowed DJ Earworm (that guy is a genius, dude) to have access to her masters so he could make this mashup. It's awesome. If you haven't heard it, please enjoy a Sunday tune.

As for me, the house is clean, I'm recovering slowly from a migraine (guess the med levels aren't right yet--CRAP! but hope springs eternal), and I'm raring to write, starting tomorrow. I'm totally irked that I lost today's potential work but I am pleased to say that even with a migraine, there are epiphanies to be found lying in bed, thinking about the closing scenes of a book. I got some good work done today while lying in a dark room. I mean it. I don't recommend it, but it worked for me.

Also, another damn historical suckered me in. DON'T TELL ANYONE. Sherry Thomas's Not Quite A Husband. I downloaded a free chapter, and liked it enough to buy it. And then I started reading, and then devoured it in about a day and a half. I was PASSIONATE about it. What IS it about her? Fever and quinine, India, sepoys, uprisings, gun battles -- somehow she evoked a reaction from me that I haven't felt since I read M.M. Kaye as an impressionable fourteen-year old. (You know how Harry Potter makes you turn the pages? That's kind of how Thomas writes. Not with obvious cliffhangers, but with a fascinating pacing that I'd kill to bottle and sell. Or just use myself.)

That is all. Lala is home. There is homemade chicken tikka masala to eat, stat.

I Forgot To SayAugust 21, 2009

In the sadness of last week, I said on twitter but I forgot to remind you here to go over to PensFatales to read Barbara Bretton's lovely piece she graced us with during her blog tour. She has a new book out, Laced With Magic. It's awesome -- I just finished it last night, and I loved it. I've said it before, I love her. I want to be her when I grow up. Everything I've read by her is fun, romantic, funny as hell, sweet, and smart.


I feel like a heel for forgetting. Go over there and give it a read -- it's very her and gives you a good sense of her voice. It sneaks up on you and then gives you a nice return for your reading investment. Go, look, see if I'm right. And then see what the rest of us are up to, also.

Because Lists Are NiceAugust 20, 2009

Aren't lists nice? They give everything equal weight and they don't make me assign value, which would feel arbitrary today anyway.

1. I twittered this the other day, but I'm still loving this picture of me and Boonie, Bethany's dog. 


I love how we look related. And also, she's neither a puppy or a short dog. She's a good, medium-sized dog and isn't always that amenable to being picked up. But we're pals. Yep.

2. We saw Julie & Julie the other night. O frabjous day, a romance movie where the happily ever after is really about two women getting publishing deals (not really a spoiler, since you know about those two books already) rather than the men of their dreams (although they already have those). Yes, there were problems with the movie (Nora wrote a more convincing Julia than Julie, we thought), but how lovely it was. I'd see it again in a heartbeat, and it's one of the few movies I'd like to own.

3. I'm on deadline (BOOK TWO DUE SOON OH SO SOON), so I'm writing my fingers to the bone and draining my brain completely dry. Last night I was so exhausted that when Lala came to bed I woke up only enough to ask if she was on a top secret mission. She said yes (OF COURSE SHE DID) and I asked what it was and she said it was a secret, and I said she could tell me and then I fell asleep. So now I'll never know.  

Thank You August 17, 2009

Thank you so much, darlings. We're hanging in there. Your comments are beautiful and hard to read and really, really meaningful. We are so lucky to have you and we talk about The Blog all the time. Big, big love sent to you.

I miss Harriet sitting under my feet when I work.

Right now, I'm sitting at my desk writing. I'm doing the write-hard-and-fast thing for forty-five minutes, using Mac Freedom to take myself offline, and then I get a 15 minute online reward (now! Hi!). I'm fluctuating between hot and cold, so I'm going between wearing my Noro Retro Prep sweater and my Jeanie wrap. I feel very knitterly. Also, my hair is pulled back with a pen stuck through it, so I feel writerly, as well. I love my writing props (also included are my big loud timer, post-its (MUST HAVE POST-ITS)).

And recently, my addiction while writing has been a track I bought on iTunes called Brown Noise. I'ts a little lower pitched than regular white noise, and it's completely perfect (you can find it if you search for it -- I think it's about 30 minutes, but if you read the comments on it there's a hack to make it never ever break and just continue looping). It's even better than a rain track. It's just noise. It doesn't distract, and it's been serving as an almost trance-inducer. I don't use it when I'm farting around online, but as soon as I want to go back into the work, I hit play, and BAM, I'm back into writing mode.

And I'm almost out of time. So I gotta....

But wait! Digit wants to say hi. Last night while I was going to sleep, I was checking Twitter one last time (love Twitter), and Digit was playing with the camera on my phone. You know when your friends take drunk pictures of themselves with your camera? That's what he did:

O hai. I am gerjess.

Also, I have the SEXAI!

some more HarrietAugust 14, 2009

This is a guest post by Lala, who still has not fixed her own blog.

Harriet&me_kiss It was love at first sight when I met Harriet. I got her the weekend after my honeymoon - not the one with The Knitter, the first one, with Aura (aka The Late Mrs. Smartyboots). We'd been talking about getting a dog, and I wanted a weiner dog. I woke up that Saturday and said "Let's go see if Milo Foundation has a weiner dog for us today!" And they did! Well, a dachshund-cocker spaniel mix. (She had the best qualities of both breeds - the dachshund trait of having one person who is THEIRS, and also the cocker spaniel trait of loving everyone. They sound like they don't go together, but they did.)  All the volunteers were so happy that she found a home because they all loved her (in fact Milo volunteers continued to recognize her for years after she came to live with me) and it's hard to find a home for an older dog. At the time I had estimates of her age as anything from 9 to 12 years old, but I decided she was 9 because she acted like a puppy. 

Harriet_party About six months later, Aura died of skin cancer at age 24. There's no way I can convey how devastated I was. Harriet had taken great care of Aura when she was sick, matching her energy level and being such a sympathetic companion, and she did the same for me. Walking with her was the only bright spot in my days back then. Watching her get so much joy rolling in the same damn patch of grass in the park across the street every day would always make me smile. She used to go to my grief support group with me, and inevitably cheered everyone up, at least a little. 

Harrietm&m1_bed We went through so many things together in the last eight years and a month. So many moves, so many couches slept on, a new puppy (who I thought she would hate, but since I liked Miss Idaho I guess that meant Harriet could tolerate her), girlfriends, cats, hairstyles, another new dog (Clara added years to her life, I'm certain of it), her own backyard. Once she gallantly protected me from a big mean pit bull in west Oakland. She was my unfailing companion at social events where I would have otherwise been too shy to talk to anyone. When I met The Knitter, Harriet took to her immediately - she even rated Harriet's trademarked Ecstatic Greeting, which made you feel like a combination movie star and ice cream truck and whatever the other most awesome thing you can think of is. For her part, Rachael immediately started letting Harriet spend the night at her house with me, and discovered the joys of having a dog. 

Harriet&rnap Harriet was no spring chicken when we met, so of course she slowed down over the years, but up until the last year or so I was able to point at her tell people at the dog park "She's 12 years old!" (and 13, 14, etc) and see a look of amazement on their faces. And hope - everyone wants their dog to live a long and active life like Harriet's. In the last year she started Getting Old. She was incontinent, or at least wasn't remembering where the right place to pee was, so she couldn't sleep on the bed with us anymore. I knitted her a special blanket for her dog bed in the living room. Cleaning up after her was a pain, but it was the least I could do after everything she'd done for me. She was deaf, and would sometimes wander away and get lost at the dog park, so I'd find myself running after, waving my arms and calling her name till she saw me and trotted back.

Harriet_tidepool When I got laid off one of the upsides was that I would get to spend more time with Harriet, because I knew she wasn't going to live forever (even though it was starting to seem like she might). In the last month or so I started to wonder about her quality of life - her trademark joie de vivre was ebbing. She slept a lot and sometimes had to be coaxed to eat her nasty prescription dog food. Then last week we couldn't get her to eat at all. We took her to the vet hoping they would find something that could be treated easily with antibiotics or something, but no. She'd lost 5 pounds, too. The vet said we could hospitalize her and hydrate her, but there's no way I was going to put an 18 year old dog who hates the vet through that, so we took her home. Harriet_running I finally got her to eat by offering her awesome stuff (and she somehow managed to find some chicken bones on the sidewalk, which is unusual in our neighborhood - I think the universe sent them for her). She bounced back a little but not much. She was already suffering enough, and I didn't want to wait until she was in acute pain - The Knitter and I have both already seen that with humans, and we weren't about to put Harriet through that. On her last day she got cat food for breakfast, and we shared some smoked salmon and laid on the bed and read for a while. Then we went to the dog park and she got some of my bagel with cream cheese. Everyone complimented her. I had to carry her back to the car, but I think she enjoyed it. Then she got her own special raw tri-tip, and we went to the vet and said goodbye. That may be the hardest thing I've ever done. 

I was so lucky to have Harriet. When I got her I wanted a dog because the people I saw at the dog park on the way to work seemed to be having a lot more fun than I was - I had no idea how much I would love having a dog. Harriet was a dog who made everyone smile and got along with everyone (unless you were a cat or wanted to keep her from eating something she found on the sidewalk). I know your dog is nice, but Harriet was the best little dog in the whole world. I got to live with her a lot longer than I expected and I'm supremely grateful for that. I'll always miss her. 


Beloved Harriet


We put Harriet to sleep last night. The hospice-level pain management wasn't working (couldn't sneak meds into her -- such a valiant little spitter), and she was getting worse, fast.


She was the best dog ever. I mean that with all my heart. She was the first dog I ever really loved. The hearts at Chez Hehu are collectively broken and today it is hard to take a full breath.


YOU, my darling readers, know what this kind of loss means. There are pets that we cuddle and love, and then there are the Truly-Special Where-Did-You-Come-From You-Crazy-Wonderful-Thing-You animals (Digit falls into this category, of course).

Thank you for your love. It means so much to us.

Loom Part 2 - I Come By It HonestlyAugust 11, 2009

or: Look What Dad Made Long Ago!


From my comments in the last post:

Yer Dad weighing in. Looks like a good loom to make basic weaves and not occupy the living room. Back in hippy days, you could buy such a basic loom kit for $35, so the price is right.

But you might find out if you want to weave for free, then move to that or a better loom. The Herron Laptop loom is now available...will send pics through e mail. It works, has a 19" rigid heddle (don't you remember me flattening brass rods and drilling them?), hardwood where needed but mostly stained pine, up and down shed, so two where the other says three, but they may count neutral as a shed. It doesn't sit on the table, you wedge a u-shape notch against the table edge, capture the other side with your tummy. Mine is 2 feet by 2 feet, if you want to play with it first.

Let me know if you want the Herron Laptop Loom.



How dang cute is that? He sent along a couple of photos, too. I'm going to have to give it a go at some point. Along with every other fiber-related art, I'll FIND the time somehow. 



LoomAugust 10, 2009

Do you have ANY idea how much restraint I have?


I did NOT buy this, even though it was only $80. EIGHTY dollars! It's a Kliot, and it's made by Lacis, (seen at Lacis, in Berkeley). The two reasons I didn't buy it were that I don't know anything about it, whether it's considered a good starter table-top loom or not (I was thinking about an Ashford IF I get one which is not a for-sure yet -- stop laughing, I can hear you), and I don't have time.

I don't have time to watch more than an hour or two of TV a week, and that's if I really, really try to fit True Blood into my life (lovin' it). I don't have time to spin. I barely have time to knit. When the heck would I weave? (A little voice inside me whispers that it uses up the handspun so quickly--oh, the Christmas gifts I could make...)

Thoughts, anyone, on this loom?

And THANK you, all, for your genius ideas on swag! Again, I am humbled by the fact that I have the smartest, prettiest, nicest, best readers in the whole world. I've known that forever, and I'm so grateful and happy.

BrainstormingAugust 4, 2009

Hello, my chickens (Chickens! I want chickens! Yes, we've still lost our minds and want chickens. They will coming to a Yarnagogo blog near you soon. But not till after Labor Day).

What was I going to ask you? Oh, yeah. I remember.

Collectively, you know everything. So I'm wondering. I'm sitting plum in the middle of the best spot ever: Book-wise, I'm post-sale, and pre-review. This is the honeymoon phase of my writing career. No one has shouted. No one has broken any of the new dishware. No one has left beer bottles perched on the edge of the bathtub and no one has left anyone else's cowboy hat out where the border collie can get it and chew it up (just as an example, of course, not saying anything). Me and the book, our rings are still shiny and new and we don't have tan lines yet on our ring fingers.

So I'm thinking excitedly about everything I can do to charm the book, to keep the romance alive and sparkly (Lala, at this moment, is thinking HEY! WHAT ABOUT ME? Don't worry, sugar. Romance kindles romance.) I'm thinking promotion.

Promo. Goodies to give away to promote the book. I'll keep it simple and do bookmarks and pens, sure, nice and for the non-knitting venues, regular bookstores and muggle libraries. But when I go to knitting places, Stitches and Rhinebeck and such, what should I give away? Do you have clever ideas? Better yet, do you have clever ideas that require precious little time on my part (because my time really has to be spent on writing, and not on crafting promo items) and even less money? Something knitterly and fun?

Thanks in advance for your genius ideas. MWAH!  

Kindle VS BookAugust 2, 2009

Since I don't mind waiving my medical rights, I go with the Kindle. But this is hysterical:

I have some writing to do today and then a baby shower to prepare for which will feature the guest of honor, which, to me, is really the best way to have a baby shower, isn't it? The dishwasher is running and I'm ready for the day. Enjoy yours.