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« November 2009 | Main | January 2010 »

15 posts from December 2009

2009 RecapDecember 31, 2009

I really like doing this little Year In Review thing-a-majig, so here we go!

January:

I started going to Loka Yoga, the studio that is now my yoga home. I loved Alice immediately, and she kicked my ass just as quickly.

We also took up rock-climbing!

Rock 

And I went skiing by myself! That was amazing.

Nobeg 
  
So we were quite fit. You know January and all.

February:

I got a fish! Harper! (He didn't live that long -- I think I forgot to tell you he died a few months later. Sigh. RIP.)

The Whoreshoes broke up. RIP the Whoreshoes, too.

Made Lala's Shooter sweater:

Shooter

March:

I edited a lot. The recession hit our house and Lala lost her job. Heavy sigh. But I did make a sweater I really loved (Colette):

Lovethisone

April:

My book title became How to Knit a Love Song, which I liked at first, and now I ADORE. We went to Bolinas and Pt. Reyes for our anniversary, which was wonderful. We spent time at the beach with wet, sandy, happy dogs:

Beachdogs

May:

 I made a LOT of bread. I ran the worst Bay to Breakers ever (TOO HOT TOO HOT TOO HOT) with my sister Christy.

Bayto 

June:

I GOT A NEPHEW! Isaac!

Isaaclskdf 

(Strangely, he didn't come out looking like that. But that's the picture closest to hand.)

I ganged up with a posse of hard-livin', gun-totin' (see the site for photographic evidence!), good-writin' women, known as the PensFatales. I still don't really know how I got tapped to be part of this group, but every day I'm thankful that I did. I blog there every other Tuesday, and those seven women are the smartest, savviest, kindest, most driven writers I know. I'm honored and so happy to be a part of the group.

My car got stolen. And then returned with extra gas, a pair of binoculars, a crap-load of Watchtower magazines, and a car cell-phone charger (which worked for my phone, and which I'd been needing). SWEET!

I hiked a lot with Clara in the hills. (I need to do that more. Huh.)

July:

Birthday treasure hunt!

RWA National in DC!

* Reaffirming to myself again that romance is the bomb. Romance is where it's at. Romance sells more than science fiction and mystery combined. Nora Roberts sells more than Stephen King and John Grisham. And as Sarah Wendell said when asked why feminists should read romance: 

It’s a 50-plus-year-old industry comprised mostly of women writers operating their own businesses and producing a genre about women’s self-actualization, pursuit of autonomy, and acquisition of sexual agency for an audience made mostly of women, who buy over $1.4 billion dollars worth of books a year. No, no, nothing feminist or even subversive about that.

August:

Harriet died. We had a very big sad, and we have it still. She was the very best dog ever.

Hdog2
 
September:

Strawberry Music Festival was all about the Avett Brothers (because I've been able to listen to no one else for about a year a half now. I'm rather pathetic, really).

I got my advanced reader copies and posted my first video of opening The Box. WOOT!

October:

Fall came. I love fall. I might have mentioned that.

Something I didn't talk much about was that we took Mom out to sea, as she'd requested. Sixteen months after she died, we finally tossed her ashes between the United States and New Zealand. I dreaded it, my friends, dreaded it with everything I had inside. I felt ill for days leading up to it, and fought a migraine on the drive to the City.

But Bethany had a sailor friend who took us out, and it was amazing. It was a little choppy making our way out through the Bay and under the bridge, and there were a few times that I was terrified (I seem to have inherited my mother's nervousness of sailboats -- I was raised on and off them, but as a kid, one of us usually had to bail. I'm just saying). But once we made our way into open waters, the swells got larger and more easily ridden. Nicer. Christy played Edith Piaf. We spoke. I dropped the dedication page from my page-proofs into the water, and we tossed her ashes and some roses.

Then Dad sat on the front of the boat and played his mandolin and the three of us girls sang all the songs we grew up singing. I'm not kidding when I say that other sailboats caught up and paced us, listening. The guy who was captaining us asked if I wanted to sail under the Golden Gate. Still a little nervous, I declined. Then he said, "Really? You might never get this chance again." THOSE ARE GOOD WORDS TO SAY TO ME. I sailed under the Golden Gate, all the way to Alcatraz, singing Kingston Trio songs with my sisters and my Dad. It was the best memorial ever, and it was nothing like a funeral. It was a celebration.

November:

Nano. Need I say more?  

Also, I went to the Pigeon Point hostel to work:

Hostel 

December:

December is always hard to write about because it just happened, so you've just heard about it. Lots of writing! Eating! Yoga! There is some new ukulele obsession, which is EXTREMELY fun.

OVERVIEW:

Family: New baby! BEST NEWS EVER! It was very considerate of him to be born on Lala's birthday, also. A very nice gift. The loss of Harriet was a huge blow. But lots of love in many ways, all over town. And this will be a GREAT YEAR for Lala and her New Job which will be exciting and challenging and fun and will probably make her a millionaire. I'm just guessing. Can't wait to find out what it is! Yay!  

Writing: I have brought a book to completion, and I mean ALL THE WAY, from turning it in, to copy-edits, to page-proofs, to ARCs, until the job is well out of my hands. Only one more step remains, and that's holding the completed version in my hands, and that'll happen soon (SOON! March 2nd is the on-sale date! This year! Finally! This year!). This is the year I'll be in a bookstore near you! And that's super exciting.

Bowling: I don't bowl. I just thought I'd throw that in there. Maybe 2010 will be a year of bowling! Who knows?

Wishing you the very best year ever. HERE WE GO! xoxo

Random Thoughts and Some Confusion About DatesDecember 28, 2009

1.We got home later than normal, so Clara the border collie ate faster than normal, and now she's walking around the house burping. It's really pretty funny.

2. We got home late because we went to Alcatraz! I've been twice in two months! I seriously dig that place. Lala had never been, even though she's lived in the Bay Area for seventeen years. La Brainy Alison was in town and already had the night tour planned, so we attached ourselves. It's really the best tour in town, I think -- creepy and interesting and well-run and worth the high price tag. The night tour is better than the day tour. Highly recommended.

3. My tummy hurts a little from all the food I put into it at Cha-cha-cha in the Mission. Mmmm. Caribbean tapas. Potatoes and jerk chicken and mushrooms and platanos.

4. I can't even imagine doing yoga tomorrow with this belly full of food right now. (I typoed toga instead of yoga. I can imagine doing toga. That's about all I can imagine doing. But hello, yoga, I need you. And perhaps a run or two.)

5. My desk is covered with edits. I can barely find my computer right now, and the book is almost all I think about. I'm on deadline, so if I'm a little quiet for a few weeks, forgive me. I'll be back!

6. Oh! Speaking of that! Alison said I should mention that How to Knit a Love Song is not only available for preorder here in the States (which you knew), but also in Canada now (which you might not have known).

7. And those of you Down Under, did you know that my book will be available under a different title in Australia and New Zealand? It's callled Eliza's Gift, and it's got a whole different look, and you can actually read it earlier, too -- I JUST REALIZED I'll be an actual real-live published author on 1-3-2010, according to that site. Excuse me, that's next week. OH HOLY CRAP! Can we just ignore everything else I typed up there? I'm GOING TO BE PUBLISHED IN A WEEK! Nothing else matters!

8. AND JUST THAT FAST - NO, I'm NOT! I just realized that I read the site's publication date wrong. 1/3/10 means March 1st, 2010. So it comes out in Australia a day before it comes out here in America. DANG IT. I was so excited for a minute. I raced into the kitchen and did this excited Almost Published crazy dance routine, only it wasn't a dance routine, it was more of a bug-eyed worried what-now look. It must have looked quite odd.

9. Heh. That was a funny range of emotions to have in the span of three minutes.

10. Time for bed! Night!

PrisencolinensinainciusolDecember 25, 2009

I love Adriano Celentano. I first heard him in while eating dinner alone in a Venetian restaurant, looking out at the rain. A gorgeous voice sang overhead on the speakers, and I had to ask who it was. I remember my waiter was amused -- I think it was the equivalent of asking who Frank Sinatra was while eating in a Brooklyn diner. Celentano's been around FOREVER, and I think some of his stuff is sexy as hell, and this song, while it's not really one of his sexiest, per se, is one of my favorites. And on this working Christmas, grumpy from lack of sleep and a ripped-off finger-nail (thank you, sneak-attack locker), it's exactly what I need.

It's his version of psuedo-English, gently mocking, and just think about this: it's 1973! This is SO cutting edge for the times. This is pre-rap, people. He was making this up.




And if you need subtitles for his bad English, you can get them here. Heh.

Merry Happy Whatnot!

*Oh! I am also cheered by the thought of one my many wonderful presents I got from Lala last night -- my vibrating mascara.

** Just found this: the brilliant Sasha Frere-Jones wrote about this video last year.

*** Even though I miss my family and traditions like sisters jumping on my head with stockings to open and stollen to eat and dads playing mandolins until someone puts the Beatles on the stereo and I completely fucking lose it (OH THE HOLIDAYS) , I do love my job and my coworkers. I'm very lucky and I know it. Yay. And tonight my brother- and sister-in-law and the baby will come over and Lala is making dinner, so there will be a family Christmas. I will not miss it all.

In Which I Play the UkuleleDecember 20, 2009

THANK YOU! Almost all of that yarn sold, most of it within hours of posting that last blog. Know what that meant? It meant that we got in the car, and went to the Fifth String in Berkeley, and I picked out my new ukulele! It's a gorgeous Ohana concert ukulele, and it's everything I wanted, and it sounds SO pretty.

What? You want to know how pretty it sounds? A few of you asked me to put up a video, so here you go. I'm sorry it's so dark, but my office lights are dim, and it's nighttime, but I couldn't wait to show you. And, um, I forgot the name of the song in the heat of the filming. It's "Tonight You Belong To Me," a song from the '20s made famous in The Jerk (oh, I think that's one of the funniest moments in flim, when Bernadette Peters suddenly pulls out her trumpet and Steve Martin just gazes lovingly at her). 

Forgive the mistakes. But I LOVE THIS UKULELE! WOOT! I HAVE TO GO PLAY SOME MORE NOW. 

Yarn Sale for Uke Girl!

This is a very sad story about a lady who, quite suddenly decided to play her ukulele again. It was great! Fun! Plink, plink! It was funny to her, how it never sounded exactly right, even though she had a good ear, and the instrument was tuned perfectly.

Then she played a good ukulele, one that cost more than $24.99. Quite a bit more, in fact. She should never have done that.

(Okay, I've ridden the third person as far as I could. Back to first.)

It turns out I actually don't suck as much as I thought on the ukulele -- it's just that a better instrument is... better. Who knew? In writing, a pen is a pen, and no matter how much I tell myself a better computer will make me a better writer, I know it won't. But after playing my crap-tastic high-action Mahalo all day yesterday (and playing some really great songs with Lala on the bass last night), I'm DYING to get a real ukulele.

Unfortunately, this month, as I've said, has been rather calamitous to cars, animals, and our bank account.

So what do musicians do when they want a new instrument? (I know this from being married to one.) They sell an instrument!

What do knitters do? They have a yarn sale!

Woot! Here we go!  (EDITED TO ADD - ALL SOLD OUT! WOOT! I GOT A UKE!)

(Lots sold together, please -- email [email protected] if interested. Paypal is easiest, I think. I can get the yarn in the mail the day after you buy it! Shipping charges combined on multiple purchases, of course.) 

I'm starting with my favorite, the stuff I've never been able to let myself let go: The Cascade Indulgence. Sigh... Remember it? The softest stuff in the world. These are the old, double-sized skeins. They were originally $18, I got them at $16 on sale. I'm selling them for $12 each.

IMG00398-20091220-0823

Lot 1: 6 complete skeins (1 rolled into 2 balls) Cascade Indulgence (70% Superfine Alpaca, 30% Angora), color 517, 100 grams, 246 yards, 5st/in on US 7.        $12/ea = $72 + $5 shipping.   SOLD!!!  :)

IMG00406-20091220-0826 

Lot 2: 4 skeins Cascade Indulgence (70% Superfine Alpaca, 30% Angora), color 507, 100 grams, 246 yards, 5st/in on US 7.        $12/ea = $48 + $5 shipping.  SOLD!


  IMG00396-20091220-0822

Lot 3: 3 skeins Cascade Indulgence (70% Superfine Alpaca, 30% Angora), color 509, 100 grams, 246 yards, 5st/in on US 7.        $12/ea = $36 + $5 shipping. SOLD!


IMG00401-20091220-0824 

Lot 4: 1 skein Cascade Indulgence (70% Superfine Alpaca, 30% Angora), color 515, 100 grams, 246 yards, 5st/in on US 7.        $12 + $2 shipping.    SOLD!


IMG00413-20091220-0833

Lot 5: 1 skein Mountain Colors 4/8's Wool (100% Wool), color Clearwater, 4oz, 250 yds, 4st/in on US6-7.   (Normally $21.50)    $15 + $2 shipping. SOLD!

IMG00414-20091220-0833 

Lot 6: (Sorry, hard to photograph. This is really purpley and gorgeous in person.) 2 skeins Mountain Colors 4/8's Wool (100% Wool), color Midnight Sapphire, 4oz, 250 yds, 4st/in on US6-7.   (Normally $21.50 each)    $30 + $4 shipping.  SOLD!

IMG00385-20091220-0813 

Lot 7: (Am I really selling this one? Yes, yes, I am.) Purchased at Maryland Sheep and Wool a while back, 1 skein of the gorgeous Ellen's 1/2 Pint Farm (100% Alpaca), 15 oz, 1250 yards, light dk weight. Originally $80.00.   Now $55 + $5 shipping.  SOLD!

IMG00382-20091220-0812

Lot 8. Also hard to photograph, but lovely. Purchased at New York Sheep and Wool. 2 skeins Tintagel Farm (50% Kid Mohair/50% Fine Wool), 200 yds, 4 oz, light worsted weight.  Originally $12 each.   $16 for both + $3 shipping.  SOLD!

IMG00388-20091220-0815 

Lot 9: 6 skeins Noro Kureyon (100% Wool), 50grams, 100 meters, 4-5 st/inch, color 95. Normally $8.95.    $5 ea,  $30 +$5 shipping.   SOLD

IMG00390-20091220-0816 

Lot 10: 3 skeins Noro Kureyon (100% Wool), 50grams, 100 meters, 4-5 st/inch, color 124. Normally $8.95.    $5 ea,  $15 +$3 shipping.      SOLD

IMG00412-20091220-0828
(Tomato to show relative redness -- hard to photograph)

Lot 11: Discontinued classic. 7 skeins Tahki Sable (70% Merino Wool/30% Angora), 50grams, 140 yards, 5st/in on US 6. (Originally $7.50)   $5/ea     $35 + $5 shipping   SOLD!

Whoa. December 18, 2009

You know how I wrote that blog about how I found about Santa? Well, my sister Bethany wrote a response to it, about how she found out.

And I am killed. The twiddlebugs! I'd forgotten about them. Really, you should go read it.

Wiping tears...

Holiday SpendingDecember 16, 2009

Well, golly, the holidays are expensive, what with all the jet-setting to Paris and Rome, and the helicopter trips to Aspen and and gifts for the doormen.

You know?

Oh, wait. What I really mean is the property taxes paid just at the due date (ahem), and the $700 repair on the brakes that went out (I drove the car to the shop, thinking that I had more braking power than I did -- turns out I'd bled the brakes dry of fluid by the time I got there. The master cylinder had blown. I wasn't stopping when I tried stopping. Eeep!) on Lala's car last week, and the $600 repair on my car yesterday (serpentine belt and oil leaks and various other things), and the (ALSO YESTERDAY) $400 repair on tiny Miss Idaho whose tiny chihuahua teeth are apparently made of gold. We are thinking of getting her a teeny little grill so she can be fly. Yo. 

Sigh. Good thing that we like thrift stores, cheap wine, and staying in. 

And speaking of pets -- and I have to tell you this or I'll explode because it's so funny, and you appreciate a good Digit story, but it's not couth, so forgive me.

You know how cats sit in warm places? Our central heat registers are in the floor. Very sensible. Heat registers that are in the ceilings make me crazy, since hot air rises. But ours are done right, and old Mr. Digit really loves to sit on top of them, letting the hot air blow all over him. Last night, while we were eating dinner, I saw him washing his bottom next to the heat register. When he was done, he backed up to it and air dried himself, like a person holding his hands up to a hand dryer in a public bathroom. Only, well, it wasn't his hand.

Digwash

What?

It was priceless. (To those of you who have come over from BookClubGirl, welcome! I hope you're not horrified by the cat-butt story.  To my regular readers, go over there and check out how I learned about Santa Claus. SPOILER ALERT - I TALK ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT HE'S REAL. Not for the faint of heart.)

Two ThingsDecember 15, 2009

1. I'm up, talking about Crafts over at the PensFatales, realizing it was inevitable I wrote the book I did.

2. You might not know about this good cause: Decadent Pets in Tracy, California, gives pet food away every Saturday to jobless people who are having a hard time feeding their pets. It's a super high-foreclosure area, hit hard by the recession. They'd appreciate help with donations of pet-food. Mwah.

If The Yoga Doesn't Kill Me, the Writing WillDecember 14, 2009

I think there's a real connection between yoga and writing for me. Yes, I love them both, but more than that, I love having done them.

Sure, yoga is amazing. In the middle of a pose, I get it. I feel exactly right. I'm flying. Everything feels fixed and good and strong.

But then other times, I'm upside-down in plow position, looking at my belly which is falling down toward me in an alarming direction, struggling to breathe, thinking I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT, I THINK I WILL DIE NOW.

And writing is the same. I sit at my desk and every once in a while, I fly. The words flow and I look up and an hour has gone by, and the words I've written are brilliant, every single one a sparkling gem.

But really, most often it goes like this: Peck, peck, peck. CAN I LOOK AT TWITTER YET? Rearrange this, would he really say that? Are you serious, I wrote that? HEAD TO DESK. Start over with that. Move that to there. Oh, that's nice. I like that bit quite a lot. Nice job, you. You can have some more coffee, then. Yes, Twitter now.

The great thing, though, is being done. The wonderful thing is walking the dogs after having written for four hours. The best thing is a nap after yoga.

You know what I would like, though? This: I have found that yoga is the one thing during which I can't think of anything else. It has a lot to do with my wonderful teacher, Alice Joanou at Loka Yoga in Oakland, who I think might be trying to kill us all (in a good way), but when I'm practicing with her, I can't do anything else but listen to my breath and my body. My brain shuts up for 90 minutes. Okay, for 80 minutes, because there are some quiet minutes during which we're just breathing, and my brain tries to chatter, and I try to shut it up and breathe. But for those other 80, that yoga-motion is the best method for quieting the monkey-mind I've ever found.

Oh, my point: I would like if someday I could move this practice to my writing. If I could sit down at my desk to write and find that kind of focus and energy and bring it there, also. The two FEEL so linked that I can imagine it's possible.

I'm gonna keep trying anyway.

* Your reward for sitting through this rather New-Age-y post is an even stranger question: Has anyone ever had this happen to them? Twice now, in yoga, at the very beginning, during the breathing portion, where we're just sitting and breathing, I've had it happen that when my eyes are closed, I'm completely convinced that my head is turned to the right, looking over my right shoulder. It happened again today. I open my eyes and confirm I'm still sitting with my head straight forward. As soon as I close them, my center of balance says that my head is looking over my shoulder. It's devastating to my balance and very confusing. It goes away quickly, and the rest of my class is normal. Anyone? I asked Alice and she'd never heard of anything like it.

** Edited to add: Caroline pointed out that this is called proprioception. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and it says this: "Proprioception is occasionally impaired spontaneously, especially when one is tired. One's body may appear too large or too small, or parts of the body may appear distorted in size. Similar effects can sometimes occur during epilepsy or migraine auras." Well, heck! I'm on seizure medication for my migraines, and I've never had this happen before I went on this stuff. I kinda thought it might be a side effect of the Topomax, but that makes me think that's what it is for sure. Either that or there's something behind me. 

UOAAD!December 11, 2009

It's Unofficially Official Agent Appreciation Day!

Okay, it's a brand new holiday, but I want to celebrate it in style, and since I have the best agent in the whole world, Susanna Einstein, I want to tell you how awesome she is.

1. She believes in me.

When I'm at the bottom, on the floor of my office, crying and thinking that no one has ever written worse prose in the whole wide world and that I should probably move to Borneo, she just tells me not to worry. She tells me the book I'm editing is good, and that it will be amazing. And Susanna doesn't pull punches, so when she tells me something, I believe her. I trust her. If Susanna believes it, I can believe it, too.

2. She responds to me.

This is bigger than it sounds. I hear horror stories from friends about agents (and these are good agents, supposedly) who take hours, or days, or WEEKS to return emails or phone calls. Yesterday I sent Susanna a worried question via email. I got a return response within minutes. And it was a no-nonsense, put-on-your-big-girl-pants response. So I put on my big-girl pants, called my editor, asked my question, and got the BEST ANSWER, and it was all due to Susanna being smart and responsive as hell.

3. She is funny and smart and awesome and pretty and great.

I just like hanging out with her. Period. She's good people.

4. She understands the rules.

I had a question the other day about subrights. I thought I'd figured it out, and posited my theory to her. Her answer blew me out of the water, and made me think OH MY GOD, NO ONE SHOULD TRY TO NAVIGATE THESE WATERS ALONE. No one. I can't believe that people try.

5. When we celebrate, she buys me champagne.

Seandrh

I am so, so, so, so lucky to have her in my corner. Happy UOAAD, Susanna!

ISBN Hottie December 8, 2009

DSCN3872

Okay, this cracks me UP. You know what that is? It's my book's ISBN, knitted onto a hot water bottle (known in many parts of the world as a hottie). Take a hottie to bed, and stay warm ALL night. Heh.

I've redone the pattern, curving the bottom the same way the top curves (finally got around to it), and it's a great way to learn how to cable, if you've never tried before. And it's a fast, easy Xmas gift. Hot water bottles are cheap here

Cabled Version:

DSCN3884 

There are hundreds of others, already made over on Ravelry, and here's the newly prettified pattern, just for you:

Download Printable PDF HERE for ISBN Hottie

ISBN Hottie

Finished Measurements:
Circumference: 17 inches,   
Length: 18 inches

Yarn: Approx. 200 yds worsted weight yarn (if striped version, 100 yds of Main Color (MC), and 100 yds of Contrast Color (CC))
Needles: US 7 (4.5mm) 16 inch circular or size to achieve gauge.
Notions: Stitch markers, cable needle, yarn needle

Gauge: 16 sts and 24 rounds = 4 inches in Stockinette stitch

CABLED VERSION:
Directions
Cast on 52 sts and join to work in the round. Place a marker at beginning of round and after 26 sts to mark sides.
Round 1: * K1f&b, knit to 1 st before marker, k1f&b, slip marker; repeat from * once – 4 sts increased.
Rounds 2-4: Repeat Round 1 – 68 sts at end of Round 4.
Rounds 5-9: K12, p2, k6, p2, k12, slip marker, k34.
Round 10: K12, p2, slip the next 3 sts onto cable needle and hold behind work, knit the next 3 sts from the left-hand needle, then knit the 3 sts from the cable needle, p2, knit to end of round.
Repeat Rounds 5-10 until piece measures 10 inches from beginning.

Neck
Decrease Round: * Work to 3 sts before marker, k2tog, k1, slip marker, k1, ssk; repeat from * once – 4 sts decreased.
Maintaining cable pattern, repeat Decrease Round three more times – 52 sts remain.
Ribbing Round: * K2, p2; repeat from * to end of round.
Repeat this round until the neck is 8 inches long (total length is 18 inches). Bind off all sts loosely in rib.

STRIPED ISBN VERSION:
Cast on as for Cabled Version. Work first 4 Rounds in Main Color (MC), 68 sts at end of Round 4.
Work 9 Rounds Contrast Color (CC) (These and all subsequent rows remain in Stockinette stitch). Now work alternating rows of color in this stripe pattern: 7, 8, 6, 1, 8, 4, 1, 2, 9, 3.
Work Neck in MC, same as Cabled Version (or if your row gauge differs, work Neck in MC at ten inches from cast on edge)

Finishing
Sew bottom closed. Weave in ends.

List of Abbreviations
Approx – Approximately
K – Knit
K1f&b – Knit one front and back (increase stitch)
K2tog – Knit two together (decrease stitch)
P – Purl
Ssk – Slip two stitches one at a time as if to knit, slip those two stitches back to left-hand needle and knit them together through the back loops (decrease stitch)
St(s) – Stitch(es)
Stockinette stitch – in the round, knit every round

Best. Video. Ever. December 5, 2009

It crossed my mind that you might not have seen the best music video ever. Somehow, I had missed seeing it, and I'm not sure how that happened. I liked the song a lot when it came out -- I liked its drive and homage to Queen (with its surprising lack of irony; I'm not even sure that homage the is intentional). But when my sister Bethany showed me this recently, saying it was the best video ever, I was dubious. We Herrons are exaggerators. Makes life fun, you know.

BUT IT IS. When thinking about conflict, both internal and external, and character motivation, and OMG THE ROMANCE plus hand to hand combat? Martha Flynn, who knows from this kind of thing, will have to agree, this is the best music video ever:

I suggest clicking over to YouTube and watching full screen, volume up. The picture quality ain't great, but oh, man. I have a theory that Muse formed their band solely for the purpose of writing this song so that they could make this video in order to be holograms within it. I'm not even joking the slightest bit. 

(Oh, how fun: High quality version (and explicit!) can be found at the director's website. Sweet.)

And The Winner IsDecember 4, 2009

Eva V! She wins the copy of How to Sew a Button! Huzzah! In January, I'll have another goodie (I think it'll be another ARC of my book with a few extra goodies, so stick around).

But in the meantime, go see how Susan Gibberman, Librarian Extraordinaire does her research. (I love this. She's rad.)

How to Sew a Button GiveawayDecember 2, 2009

THIS IS VERY EXCITING!

I have the coolest giveaway this month. Have you seen this book?

Htsab

How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew

Erin is DARLING, and I love her site, and I think Erin's book and my book would be friends in the bookstore. How to Sew a Button and How to Knit a Love Song. Okay, so they're shelved pretty far apart, but I think at some point, they'll end up together. Maybe on an endcap in the bookstore called Really Great Titles We Think You'll Love.

Anyway, she's giving me one! To give to you! All you have to do is sign up to be on my mailing list! I haven't even sent one of those bad boys out yet, so you'll notice I don't spam (or share names, never fear). If you're already on the list, you're automatically in the drawing. (If you're not sure, you can double check by re-signing up -- it'll let you know.) 

I'll do the drawing on Thursday, so that if you sadly do not win, you can still order your copies in time to give them to friends for Christmas (because honestly, how great is this book?). And how cute is Erin?

(Disclaimer: I did not know Erin before Twitter. But I claim her as a Twitter-friend now, so I will pimp her book. God bless Twitter, amen.)

ALSO, in fun news:

My book has been picked as a Night Owl Top Pick, AND my release date has been moved up to March 2nd, which you would already know, if you had preordered my book at Amazon. Of course, you might be planning on supporting your local independent book retailer. Yay! (But preorder online sales can be very good for me. I'm just saying. And I'm available for preorder now. Or you can shop IndieBound for a local store near you! That is all.)

And now I'm going Christmas shopping online. I refuse to leave the house today if I can help it. Mwah!

Editing Genius

I had to share an idea that I've completely stolen from my friend Theresa Stevens, an editor at Red Sage and co-writer of one of my favorite writing blogs, Edittorrent.

It's one of those obvious, light bulb-over-the-head ideas, and every writer probably already does this, but I certainly don't, so if I can suggest it to just one other... Oh, I'll get to the point.

Everyone has words they overuse. My particular favorite is "just." I can use it four times in a paragraph and never notice. It's ugly. But when writing, I let myself write any old way and edit later. On final drafts, I have a long list of my overused words, and I go through entire manuscripts, using the Find function, searching out each usage and deciding whether or not it's necessary at that point (it usually isn't).

Theresa, in this post, talks about software that can help with this, and then, in that light bulb moment, points out that WE ALREADY OWN IT. In Word, use Find and Replace All to turn that danger-word a different, eye-catching color, so when you're reading along, there it is, waiting for you to notice, to make that decision. You can do that with the suffix -ly, if you're trying to snuff out adverbs. You can do it with "just" and "rather" and all the other energy-sucking words that plague you most as a writer. 

I love it. This is awesome. I can't wait to try it.

(But while we're thinking about this kind of thing, anyone have anything to say about Story Mill? I like how it flags your overused words FOR you, but I'm not sure about anything else. I'm a big Scrivener fan and use it for plotting, myself, although I compose in Word.)